2:00PM Water Cooler 3/31/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am more than a little behind the eight-ball today, because my tiny little inoffensive — except to somebody! — Twitter account was permanently banned. As you know, I, whale-like, ingest enormous amounts of “krill” from the newsflow, and Twitter remains, even under Elon Musk’s gentle ministrations, the second-best source for that, after the late-lamented blogosphere (at least with accounts curated as carefully as I curated them). I have a back-up system of RSS feeds, but RSS is neither as efficient to read or as serendipitous. In short, my workflow is really [family-blogged] up, and so I will take a bit longer than usual to cover what I feel I need to cover. Having examined the alternatives to Twitter, I think the best alternative for me is to set up a new account under a new name with a burner and a clean device (both of which I have). Sigh. –lambert UPDATE Finished. Sorry for the day. I should be able to return to regularly scheduled programming on Monday.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren (Northern), Loyalton; Jones Valley, California, United States. “Song.”

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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’s budget boosts funds for future pandemics, but cuts them for current ones” [STAT]. “The Biden administration has rightly talked a lot about pandemic preparedness. And to its credit, the latest White House budget proposes new funding to stop future disease threats. In the introduction to the global affairs budget, the State Department celebrates how this money will help make the world better prepared. But there’s a catch. A hundred pages later, alongside increased funding for future pandemics, you’ll see it actually suggests cutting funding from three of the biggest, longstanding pandemics we’re already facing. U.S. programs for global tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS all get scaled back, including by nearly 10% for TB. This is a false choice, and a wrong one. All the evidence shows we don’t need to choose between stopping the current pandemics and preparing for the next one. The same systems can do both, if they have the funding.” • Exactly as the fools at CDC think we can turn the mask knobs up to 11 and then turn them back down again, instead of doing what it takes to make masking a social norm.

“Justice Department, EPA sue Norfolk Southern for toxic East Palestine train derailment” [FOX]. “The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Corporation and Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk Southern) for the toxic train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio last month…. DOJ’s complaint seeks to hold Norfolk Southern liable for the unlawful discharge of pollutants, oil, and hazardous substances under the Clean Water Act, and past and future costs of the cleanup and damage of the event under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).”


“Manhattan’s DA wanted a Friday Trump arrest. Trump’s team said no.” [Politico]. “The Manhattan district attorney’s office asked for Donald Trump to surrender on Friday following a grand jury’s vote to indict the former president. But lawyers for Trump rebuffed the request saying that the Secret Service, which provides security detail for the former president, needed more time to prepare. The exchange, which was relayed to POLITICO by a law-enforcement source and confirmed by Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for the former president, underscores the extremely delicate, unprecedented nature of the indictment.” • I think the key question is whether Trump can bring his own camera crew. (If not, I’m picturing Trump using a cellphone to video himself, selfie-like, presumably with live commentary. Trump can influence with the best of ’em!)

“Tucker Carlson: Trump indictment ‘greater assault’ on democracy than Jan. 6” [The Hill]. Carlson: “If you believe in our system and you want it to continue, you have to raise your hand and say stop, because this is too great an assault on our system, much greater than anything we saw on January 6th, that’s for certain. This is transparently political, it’s meant to take him out of the presidential race. That’s not allowed.”

“Trump’s 2024 Republican presidential rivals jump to his defense after indictment” [NBC]. The deck: “Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Tim Scott attacked the Manhattan DA and were quick to assert that the indictment was about politics and not potential criminal activity.” • Since the indictment hasn’t been unsealed, we really don’t know anything. Which is driving me nuts. But Trump certainly has sucked all the oxygen out of the race, hasn’t he? It’s GENIUS!

“DeSantis says Florida won’t help extradite Trump to NYC after indictment” [New York Post]. DeSantis: “The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent. Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.”

“Youngkin stands with Trump amid indictment charges” [ABC]. Youngkin: “It is beyond belief that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted a former President and current presidential candidate for pure political gain. Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America.”

“Trump’s indictment is a first for U.S., but not for other democracies” [NBC]. Olmert (Israel), Netanyahu (Israel), Berlusconi (Italy), Chirac (France), Sarkozy (France), Park Geun-hye (South Korea), Chen Shui-bian (Taiwan), Thaksin (Thailand), Muhyiddin, Najib (Malaysia). “So American exceptionalism — until now. The other thing that makes Trump’s indictment not so shocking is the list of his former associates who have gone to jail or faced charges. Former campaign chair Paul Manafort (whom Trump pardoned). Former legal fixer Michael Cohen (who likely will play a starring role in this Trump case). The Trump Organization’s Allen Weisselberg. Roger Stone (whom Trump also pardoned). Steve Bannon (the recipient of another Trump pardon).”

“Trump’s indictment rests on this bizarre legal theory and has three major flaws” [FOX]. This caught my eye: “Regardless, the prosecution of Trump is likely barred by the statute of limitations. The misdemeanor is two years, while the felony is five years. Neither can be tolled or paused under a strict reading of New York law. Trump may have been outside of the state’s jurisdiction during much of the past seven years, but his whereabouts were well known, and he maintained his residency in New York while president, visiting it regularly. Hence, it is unlikely that the two statutes of limitations can extend beyond their expiration.”

“The Big Problem With the Trump Indictment” [Salon]. “Thursday’s indictment shows that Bragg has already convinced a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe Trump committed an offense related to this scheme. Winning at trial will be much harder, requiring the district attorney to prove each element of the crime to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That would likely include proving Trump’s intent to contravene campaign finance law. Succeeding here will require Bragg to put Cohen on the stand and persuade a jury that he is more credible than the former president. That’s a tall order, and not just because Cohen is a disgraced felon. Despite existing evidence of Trump’s extensive involvement in the Daniels scheme, we have not yet seen a smoking gun that proves his fraudulent intent (1) to falsify records in furtherance of (2) helping his campaign. It is notable, though, that the former parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., signed a non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice in 2018 in which it admitted that its role in the payoff scheme was “to ensure that a woman did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.” The former CEO of AMI, Pecker, testified before the grand jury and will likely prove a critical witness in any jury trial. Still, Bragg will likely need to prove both the falsifying records to help his campaign elements to secure a conviction, putting immense pressure on Cohen’s credibility. He’ll also need to refute Trump’s defense (already previewed on Truth Social) that Cohen (1) told him the payoff was legal and (2) he relied on this advice in good faith. Again, the resolution of this dispute may well hang on the jury’s determination of credibility between the two men.” • Don’t liberal Democrats know that a DA can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich? Or did they know, and have they forgotten amidst all the excitement?

“The SPAC tied to Trump’s Truth Social surges 11% after the former president is formally indicted” [Business Insider]. “Shares of Digital World Acquisition, the SPAC that plans to merge with Donald Trump’s Truth Social media company, surged as much as 11% on Friday after the former president was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury. The surge in the stock could be driven by the idea that while the indictment is bad news for Trump, it could be good news for business, helping drive activity and engagement on a service that looks a lot like Twitter.” • It’s an ill wind….

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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WI: “Protasiewicz, Democrats crushing Kelly, Republicans in direct donations, losing independent spending slightly as race for Wisconsin Supreme Court reaches final days” [Wisconsin Law Journal].

Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, the left-wing candidate, reported raising more than $13 million so far in 2023, including more than $12 million in the last six weeks alone. Her right-wing opponent, former Justice Daniel Kelly, reported raising just $2 million in the last six weeks, and a total of about $2.3 million in 2023. That money is getting spent mainly on advertisements for TV, radio, print and the web. On the independent spending side, the right is winning, though with a much smaller margin. Organizations like Super Political Action Committees, also known as Super PACs, which are banned from coordinating with the campaigns but can raise and spend unlimited amounts, have spent $12.3 million supporting Kelly or opposing Protasiewicz, while groups supporting Protasiewicz or opposing Kelly have spent about $10.2 million, according to estimates from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign…. In what has become a regular occurrence, extremely wealthy people from inside and outside the state are also dumping huge sums of cash into the state’s political parties, the bulk of it to the Wisconsin Democratic Party.”

WI: “Janet Protasiewicz has campaigned on Democratic issues. If she wins, the Wisconsin Supreme Court could weigh in on them” [Wisconsin Public Radio]. “Protasiewicz, a circuit court judge from Milwaukee County, has run a Supreme Court campaign on a scale never before seen nationally, let alone in Wisconsin. Her campaign fundraising has shattered records, funding an ad blitz that’s hard to avoid, both on TV and online. Her message has also been openly political. While other judicial candidates might hint at or even hide their personal beliefs, Protasiewicz has shared them for the world to see. She’s spoken unambiguously about her support for abortion rights and her dislike for the state’s Republican-drawn legislative maps.” • And there’s a lot to dislike about those maps. Putting your boot on your opponent’s throat is one thing. Actually slitting it is quite another. As so often, the Republicans are both more serious about their electoral politics than Democrats, but also over-reach. (There are other forms of politics than electoral, and in those forms, liberal Democrats often over-reach.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Nashville shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto to be released after FBI review: official” [New York Post]. “Nashville school shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto is set to be released to the public after the FBI and its highly skilled team of criminal profilers analyze its contents, a Nashville City Council member revealed to The Post. The official, a Nashville City Council member, “told The Post that Hale had ‘looked at’ two other schools, both public, before deciding ‘the security was too great to do what she wanted to do.'” • The Post story does not erase that Hale attended the school — and shot both the school’s head and their child, both atypical and not likely to be random — but the City Council member seems determined to. Odd. Also, how did the FBI get involved? Was Hale on the Twitter?

“Nashville school shooter was ‘obsessive’ about former middle school basketball team” [The Tennessean]. • A sad story. “America is like high school” in so many ways…


“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

“You Have Long Covid and You Don’t Know What to Do, Let Me Help” [AutoStraddle]. “We received a question from an A+ member, which, because the A+ Advice box is normally behind the privacy of a paywall, we did not publish here. The member asked for resources in dealing with Long Covid, including symptoms their doctor is dismissing as unrelated. Because there is an overwhelming amount of information out there, the letter writer asked for resources on step-by-step instructions for managing Long Covid symptoms, especially info that has been vetted and won’t cause more harm than good.” This tip caught my eye; one of the properties of Long Covid is dysautonomia: “The official way to test for [Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)], which is the main type of Dysautonomia, is a tilt table test, but you can replicate that in your own home with what’s called a “poor man’s tilt table test.” Get a pulse oximeter for your finger, which you can find at most drug stores for like ten bucks. Lie down and put your finger in it. Once your pulse is steady, sit up, and then stand up. If your pulse jumps 30 beats per minute, or more, you have POTS. Record that on your phone, more than once, so you can show it to whatever doctor you decide to see. They might not even require a tilt table test if you have the video.” • Seems reasonable enough, though fortunately I haven’t had to try it. Readers?

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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

This handy chart is screaming out to be an app:


“Rise in Covid cases: Tamil Nadu makes masks mandatory in govt hospitals” [Times of India]. “Experts have said the rate of transmission of infection and cross infection is higher in hospitals. ‘We have made it mandatory for doctors, nurses, technicians, administrative staff, patients and attenders to wear masks at all times in both inpatient and outpatient wards of all primary, secondary and tertiary hospitals,’ health minister Ma Subramanian on Friday said…. ‘There is an increase in Covid cases across the country. Although there are no large clusters, hospitalisations or death, we are seeing a steady increase in fresh cases,’ the minister said.” • The time to start masking is not after exponential spread has already gotten rolling!


Here is a paper I am really looking forward to:

Especially if Greenhalgh’s research leads to more funding for GPs.

“Study finds evidence of resistance to COVID-19 drugs” [medicalXpress]. “This study—conducted by the Midwest Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Center—shows that drug-resistant variants have appeared multiple times independently in different parts of the world, with regional clusters providing evidence for person-to-person transmission. In addition to showing resistance to the protease inhibitor nirmatrelvir, the active component of Paxlovid, the study found that a different set of mutations currently in circulation can transfer resistance to ensitrelvir (Xocova), a protease inhibitor now approved in Japan. This new research shows that simple single amino acid changes in SARS-CoV-2 main protease could severely undermine efficacy of these antiviral drugs. According to Reuben Harris, Ph.D., co-director of the Midwest AViDD Center, ‘Although our study demonstrates the existence of natural circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants with resistance to two different drugs, the good news is that their resistance profiles are distinct. This means that if one of these drugs fails due to emergence of resistance in viral variants, the other drug may still work.”” • Until it doesn’t. I have never seen a study that non-pharmaceutical interventions cause resistance to develop. Of course, if you want to keep your product pipeline pumping, that’s a negative….


“Does COVID-19 damage the brain?” [Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School]. From “Ask the Doctor”: “We now know that, unfortunately, COVID can damage the brain in many ways. When people first become sick from the virus, they may develop encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — causing confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. COVID also can trigger the onset of new psychological disorders such as severe depression or anxiety. It can even cause people to become psychotic — to see and hear things that aren’t there and to believe things that aren’t true. It often damages the brain’s autonomic nervous system, leading to abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, the virus that causes COVID can infect and injure the linings of blood vessels and make blood clot more easily. These two things can lead to strokes and heart attacks, even in young people. A perfectly healthy 30-year-old son of a friend of mine experienced multiple strokes when he got COVID. COVID-related strokes can cause permanent difficulty in speaking or understanding speech, weakness on one side of the body, and other symptoms. Even if people escape brain damage during the initial attack of COVID-19, they remain at considerably greater risk of various brain conditions, including strokes, depression, anxiety, and psychosis for the next several years. People who were initially severely ill with COVID are at much greater risk for cognitive decline after they recover. Even people who were less severely ill remain at a somewhat greater risk. A large study of MRI scans taken before and then again after people got COVID showed that COVID can actually shrink the brain somewhat. Finally, the lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, and difficulty thinking that can last for several years after COVID — called long COVID or post-acute COVID syndrome — may well be caused by ongoing low-grade brain inflammation caused by the virus. Fortunately, most people who get COVID don’t suffer damage to the brain. But some do, and even people who initially get just mild COVID symptoms are vulnerable. So COVID’s potential to damage the brain is just one more reason to do everything we can to avoid getting this disease.” • March 1, 2023.

The best brain fog is the brain fog you don’t know you have:

Reminds me of the idea that the virus in its initial states has analgesic properties so people don’t feel sick. So they go out and spread it….

Another example:


Elite Malfeasance

“Some people wave away concerns about the long-term effects of COVID-19 by saying, ‘if it was really bad, the government would take steps to protect people.'” [John Snow Project]. “The John Snow Project has set out some of the growing body of evidence that suggests COVID-19 is having serious adverse long-term impacts on human health. This evidence is, however, being subjected to the same ‘doubt as product’ approach that was successfully deployed by the tobacco lobby to slow the introduction of public health measures to protect people from the harms of smoking, and the underlying economic incentive is similar to the rationale of the cigarette companies. While attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos had to be vaccinated, wear masks, undergo regular COVID-19 tests, and used advanced air ventilation, filtration and treatment to reduce their risk of infection, the costs of such protocols to protect the general public are widely viewed as prohibitively expensive. Instead, those who would like to see clean air and protective measures implemented everywhere, from hospitals to schools, are presented as fearmongers, who are recklessly advocating investment in public health without precisely quantifying the benefit, and doubt is cast over the validity of any evidence that suggests COVID-19 may cause long-term or serious harm. We’ve seen this approach before, with merchants of doubt peddling uncertainty in order to undermine solid scientific evidence and dissipate the political impetus for action.” • Capitalists have form.

“Hollywood to End COVID-19 Safety Agreement That Enabled Pandemic-Era Return to Work” [Hollywood Reporter]. “‘For the past three years, workers throughout the entertainment community have benefited from our robust protections exceeding the practices of many other industries,’ a coalition of unions including the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. ‘With the public health emergency now ending and the expiration of the COVID-19 Safety Agreement, individual employers continue to be responsible for ensuring safe workplaces for their employees, but must seek separate agreement with the applicable joint unions before implementing any COVID safety protocols.'” • Not unions, necessarily. Union leadership.

Bonnie Henry, sociopath, is still at it:

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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 31:

0.3%. At the low point of the last valley, but the first increase in awhile (along with slight increases in both cases as measured by wastewater, and deaths, albeit different lagged).


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,154,894 – 1,154,353 = 541 (541 * 365 = 197,465 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

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, increased for the first time this year to 43.80 points in March of 2023 from 43.60 points in February, beating forecasts of 43.4. However, the reading still pointed to a seventh straight month of contraction in business activity.”

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Tech: “People Are Creating Records of Fake Historical Events Using AI” [Vice]. “In another post, a user named FinewithIX, whose real name is Jordan Rhone, posted a collage of four AI-generated images that depicted ‘Staging the Moon Landing, 1969.’ The images mimicked the grainier, film quality of photos taken in the late 60s and showed the behind-the-scenes of people filming and photographing a fake moon landing. Users immediately responded to the image with concerns about how Midjourney and other text-to-image generators can now be weaponized by conspiracy theorists to spread false historical information. ‘Yet another example of how MJ will fuel conspiracy theories. What a time to be alive!’ user charismactivist commented on the post.” • Weaponized history from CTers is trivial put beside weaponized history from the ruling class.

Tech: “Why the AI industry could stand to slow down a little” [The Verge]. “The founder of open-source intelligence site Bellingcat was banned from Midjourney after using it to create and distribute some eerily plausible images of Donald Trump getting arrested.” • Life’s little ironies. As I just said: “Weaponized history from CTers is trivial put beside weaponized history from the ruling class.”

Tech: “Microsoft Now Claims GPT-4 Shows ‘Sparks’ of General Intelligence” [Vice]. The deck: “The eyebrow-raising claim from Microsoft—which is banking on GPT putting it ahead of Google—contrasts with the model’s clear limitations.” Once again:

Tech: “Belgian woman blames ChatGPT-like chatbot ELIZA for her husband’s suicide” [Interesting Engineering]. “The widow of a Belgian man who recently killed himself alleges that an (artificial intelligence) AI chatbot forced her husband to commit suicide. The father of two reportedly had daily exchanges with ‘ELIZA,’ a chatbot built by a US start-up utilizing GPT-J technology, an open-source substitute for OpenAI’s GPT-3, according to a report by Belgian newspaper La Libre on Tuesday. ‘Without these conversations with the chatbot ELIZA, my husband would still be here,’ she told La Libre…. As per the report, the man killed himself six weeks after speaking with ELIZA. … The person had extreme eco-anxiety that developed two years ago and sought comfort from ELIZA, a chatbot powered by EleutherAI’s GPT-J open-source artificial intelligence language model, according to the family…. The chatbot’s Silicon Valley-based founder told La Libre that his team is “working to improve the safety of the AI…. This wouldn’t be the first, though; previously, many users have complained about Microsoft’s new ChatGPT-powered Bing AI’s “unhinged” responses.” • Not, then, I’m guessing, one of those “sparks”?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 31 at 2:12 PM ET. Mr. Market: “Banking crisis? What banking crisis?”


“Texas judge strikes down major Obamacare provision protecting preventive care” [STAT]. “A federal judge Thursday reversed a major Obamacare provision requiring plans to cover preventive care ranging from cancer and chronic disease screenings to pregnancy care and certain drugs. The ruling could deal a massive blow to President Joe Biden’s moonshot goal of slashing cancer rates through early screenings . It also leaves the door open for insurers to refuse coverage of statins, drugs preventing HIV transmission known as PrEP, and a vast range of health screenings recommended by federal officials. It could also eventually threaten the Biden administration’s efforts to lower maternal and infant mortality rates and bolster reproductive rights in the wake of Roe’s overturn. Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas said the Affordable Care Act requirement for insurers to cover care and products recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is unconstitutional because members of that panel — 16 volunteers, typically doctors and scientists — were not appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, violating the U.S. Constitution’s appointments clause.” • Article II, Section 2, Clause 2: “[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Not sure of the implications of this for the Administrative State. Probably bad.

Class Warfare

“Low Jobless Claims Show Labor Market Shrugs Off Economy’s Clouds” [Wall Street Journal]. “Worker filings for unemployment benefits rose last week but were still historically low, showing that the broader labor market remains robust despite large companies announcing layoffs… The level of claims fluctuated earlier this month, but broadly remains low. The four-week average of weekly claims, which smooths out volatility in the weekly numbers, ticked up by 2,000 to 198,250. Weekly claims have remained near the 2019 prepandemic average of about 220,000 for several months.” • Dang.

“Why are Americans dying so young?” [Financial Times]. “That the US has a poor record on life expectancy is nothing new. For the best part of a decade, American lives have grown progressively shorter relative to peer countries. But beneath the surface, several striking details demand our attention and an urgent effort to reverse the trend. American life expectancy compares extremely unfavourably with the UK. The English seaside town of Blackpool has been synonymous with deep-rooted social decline for much of the past decade. It has England’s lowest life expectancy, highest rates of relationship breakdown and some of the highest rates of antidepressant prescribing. But as of 2019, that health-adjusted life expectancy of 65 (the number of years someone can be expected to live without a disability) was the same as the average for the entire US. People born in the very poorest pockets of Blackpool are expected to live fully five years more than the poorest in the US. This would be damning enough, but we’ve not yet accounted for the fact that the richest Americans are so much richer than their British counterparts. Once we do, Britain pulls clear at every income level. Someone with a net household income of about £65,000 or $100,000 will live to an average age of 85 in England, but only 80 in the US.” • Handy chart:

News of the Wired

“The Museum of Failure Celebrates Some of the World’s Biggest Flops” [Smithsonian]. “By spotlighting more than 150 commercial ideas that didn’t pan out for various reasons, the exhibition “aims to stimulate discussion about accepting and learning from failure,” per its Instagram page. A few notable examples: New Coke, Bic for Her pens, Limeade-flavored Oreo cookies, Colgate lasagna, Crystal Pepsi and a gyrating ‘hula chair’ for exercise.” • “Limeade-flavored Oreos”? What next? Girl Scout Thin Mints®, “Now With Added Gravel”? How did a project like that ever get greenlighted? Maybe we need a Museum of Bad Memos, too…

“The Origins of Human Empathy May Go All The Way Back to The Ocean” [Science Alert]. “Previous studies on zebrafish (Danio rerio) provided insights into their transmission of alarm responses, presented as erratic and freezing behavior in individuals, and the elevation of cortisol levels in nearby observers. Based on these findings, it could be concluded that the biology of experiencing stress after witnessing fear responses in another is similar enough in all vertebrates to have evolved in a shared ancestor. In its simplest form, the release of oxytocin could also simply trigger a mirroring of behaviors in the fish. Seeing distress in a fellow swimmer may just create the same internal response in their peers, for example. To see if this was what was happening, the researchers showed individual fish video clips of others in distress or neutral states before placing them together, along with some other fish, after a short amount of time had passed. Interestingly, the observer preferred to cuddle up to the individuals they’d previously seen distressed than to the neutral-acting fish, suggesting something more had to be going on. Just how deeply we might read into the experiment is hard to say. It’s easy for us to see our own behaviors in the fish – we’ve had millions of years of evolution setting our empathy systems to hyperdrive, after all. It’s tempting to think the biochemical machinery responsible for our own social behaviors are built on foundations very similar to the mechanisms of fear contagion in fish.” • I’m working on my cortisol levels by eating walnuts.

“Have Any Animals Evolved to Adapt to Human Activity?” [Smithsonian]. • Cats, obviously:

* * *

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AA writes: “Springtime in central Arizona.”

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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. Henry Moon Pie

    I quake with fear at daring to differ with the eminent legal scholar, Alan Dershowicz, Esq., but it seems to me his statute of limitations theory has a major flaw. For four of the seven years Dershowicz is claiming have elapsed untolled, Trump was immune from prosecution because he was the sitting President. Remember this discussion from when the libs were sure that Mueller would indict Trump?

    “The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions,” the memo stated.

    The 1973 and 2000 memos are binding on Justice Department employees, including Mueller, according to many legal experts. Mueller was appointed in May 2017 by the department’s No. 2 official Rod Rosenstein.

    Note that this opinion does not limit the application of immunity to federal criminal actions. Bragg has a decent argument in my rusty opinion that the statute of limitations was tolled during those four years since any reasonable prosecutor could assume, based on the DOJ memo, that Trump could not be indicted on a state or federal charge while in office.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That also applies to all sitting executives of countries and I think that was clarified back in 1973. That being the case, the ICC’s warrant for Putin also counts then as illegal.

      1. square coats

        I thought the ICC was allegedly created for the specific purpose of having a court that could prosecute sitting heads of states?

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that the ICC was created as a tool of western politics. So a lot of the cases were of African leaders or those from the former country of Yugoslavia which led to a lot of resentment in those regions. If it was a real system of justice, you would expect to see a few western leaders on trial but we all know that that will never happen. So here the British spent millions last year training about 30 Ukrainian judges in the UK how to do these sort of trials and the courts that they want to try all the Russians in will be based on Ukrainian law. I think that the dream is to have some sort of Nuremberg Trials 2.0 for all the Russian leadership as well as their officers. That should be fun. Now for that to happen the Russians will have to lose the war, have a regime change and then for those hundreds of Russians to be sent to the west for trial in contravention of the Russian Constitution. Should be any day now.

          1. c_heale

            I was told by someone who worked for the ICC many years ago, that a major problem with it was that it had only prosecuted the African and former Yugoslavian leaders, and wouldn’t prosecute leaders in the EU.

            I think with the attempt to prosecute Putin, it is going to go the same way as the OPCW, and maybe even the UN, as being seen as tools of the US, and the West.

            This is what the West is throwing away, starting with Bush Junior, the abandonment of international organisations which had problems, but at least allowed countries speak to each other, or if they were biased, were still useful.

            Now these organisations are useless, apart from propaganda purposes.

            Trust is gone on an international level, and it’s not going to come back until we reach a crisis which can only be solved by the different sides talking to each other. I guess this will come when one side or the other in Ukraine warns that a first strike is imminent.

            1. some guy

              About the UN being seen as a tool of the West . . . perhaps the NonWest would like to keep the UN functional in hopes of being able to conquer it and use it as a tool of the NonWest.

            2. ashley

              ive been arguing since i was a teenager (mid 30s now) that not holding the bush 2 admin accountable for iraq would weaken america and the belief in rule of law and perhaps completely destabilize our government long term.

              20 years later…

        2. John Beech

          I just wish for the President to be impeached for disinformation and using other means to circumvent our constitutional protections of speech free of government interference, as disclosed in the Twitter files and Taibbi.

          Nothing against Democrats, and everything to do with holding him to account for what he’s overseen . . . just as President Nixon was held to account.

          And I’ll leave to others to judge which was worse.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    The Covenant School in Nashville and the affiliated church are members of the Presbyterian Church in America, a conservative offshoot of the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA). While that offshoot denomination predates the early 80s appearance of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, the Scaife-funded right-wing effort to divide liberal mainline churches, it was a beneficiary of the IRD’s funding largesse.

    Also, theologically, the Presbyterians are the Scottish offshoot of Calvinism. Double predestination, sovereignty of God, etc.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      And the Pope is the Antichrist.

      In Beaver Falls, Penna., once a prosperous town, about the only thing left is Geneva College, part of the Reformed Presbyterian splinter denomination: Which believes, “Prior to the 1960s, the RPCNA refused to vote in elections or participate in government in the United States due to it not directly acknowledging Christ’s authority over it, and since has continued (at some times more heavily than others), to lobby the federal government to expressly submit to the authority of Jesus Christ in the United States Constitution.”

      American religion: Not pretty.

      1. scott s.

        Not sure that RPCNA theology is relevant to PCA. While they both accept the Westminster Confession and larger and shorter catechisms, RPCNA seems to extend that with its “Testimony” doctrinal statement.

    2. ashley

      so ive never been particularly fond of the calvinist branch of christianity, mainly for its prosperity gospel and protestant work ethic nonsense. i had no idea that they also believe in double predestination, which i didn’t even know was a concept until reading your comment and looking up the definition. for those who dont know, it is the belief that god predetermined some people he created were getting sent to hell because …reasons.

      i consider myself to (perhaps falsely) be relatively well educated in the various religions around the world compared to your average person but this was a revelation (haha) to me. american politics make so much more sense with this being a belief that some of the squeakiest wheels in politics believe.

  3. ambrit

    Mini-zeitgeist Report:
    Had a delivery from Amazon this morning. [“Spare me,” he growls as he sadistically twirls his moustache and uncoils his whip.] Spoke with the delivery person, a middle aged woman in walking shorts and DayGlo Yellow vest.
    She was talking to cat on the front porch when I opened the door. (Always a good sign.)
    The gist of it is that she had been delivering for Wal Mart for about a year and suddenly, a few months ago, their delivery numbers dropped off of a cliff. So, off to second choice Amazon she went. Delivery numbers are down at Amazon as well, but much better than Wal Mart’s.
    She is barely making her bills and is lucky in that her room mate has a “regular” job and can chip in a half of the expenses.
    “Otherwise,” she observed, “I would be homeless.”
    I foresee a steady rise in “extended” family groups. It seems that the individual “nuclear family” has been a historical anomaly.
    Welcome to hard times. Coming to a neighbourhood near you.
    Stay safe.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      Speaking of walmart and amazon, local scuttlebutt has it that walmart is setting up to be delivery only in the next few years.
      The way a recently repaved parking lot has been setup, it would seem to support that, about 40 spaces designated as pickup only spots.
      Up from about 5 or so.

      1. ambrit

        We keep hearing “rumours” to the effect that our local “ghetto” WalMart is ‘on the chopping block’ for closing. That would leave the “white flight” WalMart and adjacent Sam’s Club for our mini-metro area (approximately 50,000 population.) That site is closer to the ‘newer’ suburbs and exurbs than to the downtown.
        One example of the ‘influence’ of WalMart is that the Metro bus system, (a scarecrow of varying levels of service, like no weekend service,) has it’s terminal point on the Main Drag in the parking lot of the ‘White Flight” WalMart/Sam’s Club nexus. [The Target store is another half of a mile past the WalMart along the Main Drag. I have had walk that before to get things not available elsewhere.]
        I have lately seen uniformed security guards wandering the aisles of the “ghetto” WalMart. They also cruise the parking lot in a Security Service mini-SUV.
        The next time I’m out at the “white flight” WalMart I will check out the pickup parking spots. I do remember that they are arrayed at the border between the WalMart and Sam’s Club parking lots. I seem to remember seeing about twenty dedicated spots there.

        1. Carolinian

          Since the subject is Walmart guess I have to comment. My sense is that the “pickup” option has been successful but their attempt to compete directly with Amazon via home delivery not so much. That probably applies to many other retailers as well. They did–finally–greatly improve their website but the sales pages are still far less elaborate than the Bezos versions.

          As to whether they will concede poorer areas to Dollar General, no sign of that yet around here. Their biz still seems to be booming. If a recession is on then way some of their competitors may fall first. One of our Lidl is looking peaked and Aldi is going to close a couple of stores after expanding not long ago.

          1. Phenix

            Walmart has been competing directly with Amazon for a few years now. FedEx and UPS delivery 7 days because Target, Walmart and whoever owns Dicks Sporting Goods compete with Amazon.

            I’m not sure who did this, but Walmart or Target are increasing their sales by leveraging their warehouses, FedEx linehaul (tractor trailers) and gig delivery gigs or FedEx delivery.

            Target has expanded it’s warehouse space and is using their newest warehouses as a delivery hubs using gig workers. Walmart is in the process of doing the same thing. I do not think that they can use their retail space.

            FedEx is not winning this arrangement. Volume leaves the FedEx network to get delivered by other companies.

            1. Carolinian

              I have ordered a couple of things from Walmart.Com and one of those turned out well. It was home delivered by FedEx.

              I’m not sure what Walmart gets out of the pickup in the parking lot idea (mostly groceries probably). It does seem to be popular with customers. Perhaps it’s more of a website promotion.

              1. ambrit

                If my admittedly jaundiced view is any indication, what I observe about the pick-up crowd is that they skew towards Soccer Moms and SUV Warriors. Now it may be confirmation bias on my part, but I did not notice any major component of the pick-up crowd showing up in compact cars or beat up sedans. Perhaps those SUVs really are attention grabbers.

      2. MT_Wild

        So you mean delivery and pickup only?

        I can see the appeal on Walmarts end. Reduces theft by the public. Helps rotate stock. Etc. Basically turns them into a fulfillment center. Might even make the employee experience better?

        I use Walmart pickup often, except for produce and some bulk items. I’m willing to dig to the back of the shelf looking at dates on products to get the freshest ones. The employees filling the orders do the opposite.

        1. Carolinian

          Pickup caught on during the pandemic plus a lot people probably don’t care to deal with their giant stores.

    2. wol

      I’ve been a very occasional whip-cracking sadist, and tip the delivery persons when I’m outside. I told a young woman that I would bring her a pizza if she would strike. She said, “What’s a strike?”

        1. Old Sarum

          What’s the Simpsons? (just pullin’ ya leg; but then again…)


          ps America poorer than Blackpool! (Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!)

    3. Questa Nota

      Extended family groups, now including strangers.
      Apartment renters have seen some new options.
      Can’t find a friend as roommate?
      Then just be one of the randos renting a room in an apartment. The other rooms are rented to other randos.
      That was seen years ago in college towns.

      Take an old house, subdivide it, put in slider or pocket doors to allow for more, ahem, bedrooms.
      Those new bedrooms take away space from, uh, living rooms.
      Presto, they increase the income potential because now X bedrooms became X+1 or X+2.
      Rent per square foot goes up, and might even get noticed by big landlords, see that rent article, wink wink.

      So what if the quality of life gets crapified in new ways?
      Well you should be studying, or some analog for workers, anyway, so no time to lounge on the couch.
      If you really want to stream, do it with that laptop propped up on your knees in your little cubby.
      Enjoy graduation!

      p.s., work from home could also mean work from car, van or shed or whatever.

  4. MT_Wild

    I get a weekly bulk ammo sales email and today’s email came with a giant red font disclaimer. Paraphrasing: “Due to a sudden and unexpected jump in sales that we expect to persist through the weekend we expect some shipping delays as we work through the backlog.”

    Ammo prices have been falling steadily. To the point of major manufacturers offering rebates up to 20%. Looks like Team D just bailed them out again.

    1. ambrit

      An ammo seller I get e-mails from just had a big website issue and has put up a 10% off offer to ‘compensate.’ Checking, I find that their website is still ‘buggy.’
      Spring is here and everyone must be preparing for the big Springtime Riot Season.
      Stay safe. Go grey.

          1. OwlishSprite

            profit from, unfortunately. Jeez. There is always something to gamble on in this effing casino. Namaste.

      1. lambert strether

        > offer to ‘compensate’

        Well, let’s hope they don’t decompensate [rimshot, laughter]

        1. ambrit

          Re-de-compensating leads to *rimfire* laughter.
          I was wondering what caused their website “outage.” Now, something as simple as incompetence will do. However, the CT is strong with this one!
          Besides, who would want to be on a Federal data base as having received several thousand rounds through the mail? I certainly would not.
          The web based ammo sites are for odd ball rounds not easily found any other way.

      2. Carolinian

        Our local state park is next to a public shooting range and last weekend they were blasting away. No automatic fire–yet.

    1. MT_Wild

      I’ll help everyone out. Starting in 1877 the long term average is 14.66″ of rain per year for Los Angeles.

      As an aside, a field site I worked at on Maui got 52″ between when I left Friday afternoon and returned Tuesday morning.

      Location, location, location.

  5. Angie Neer

    Re Twitter, I’ve never had an account, but you don’t need one to look at specific accounts, and I’ve been sucked in at times. Mostly what I saw was people mocking each other, with various degrees of skill, seriousness, and malice. Lambert is the first person I respect who convinced me it could be a source of genuinely useful information. So while I hope that Musk continues to beclown himself and fails miserably and publicly, I will regret the loss of that useful channel for those who, like Lambert, are willing and able to use yellow waders on our behalf.

    1. OwlishSprite

      I made a Twitter account and learned that using a real email account leads to annoyance, Phishing and keylogging. I made another account with something that can’t be traced, and I am learning that Twitter is full of knowledge. I don’t go to the cesspits of Twitter. All in all, it is better than what was.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > All in all, it is better than what was.

        I was quite happy with it. Occasional flakiness, to be sure, but in fact the loathesome algo page was better. I also miss the tiny community I was part of, where I could occasionally be helpful (and be helped). No big thing — weak ties — but still a loss.

        1. Bugs

          If you start a new account and mention that your old one was suspended, “people” will rapidly come to your aid. This is a warning to not do that.

            1. Bugs

              Some people have been asking for money to restore account access. I have no clue if they can do it or not but it sure sounded like a scam.

      2. lambert strether

        > I don’t go to the cesspits of Twitter

        Takes careful curation and blocking. You’ve got to keep your knife honed, as it were, and that’s work.

        Still, it’s the only universal address space (besides URLs, i.e. the blogosphere, sigh). I think the reason Twitter is not profitable is that it is fit-for-purpose (not the other way round). I never would have been able to deliver for readers on Covid without it.

        1. OwlishSprite

          “Takes careful curation and blocking.”

          I just don’t look. But I admit, I am seriously odd. I can’t explain how I avoid the cesspits, except that my account is just ridiculously insignificant. I sign in to comment, then sign out to sample the wares of greater Twitter. If I was trying to monetize or use Twitter socially, it would be different

        2. ChrisFromGA

          Sorry to hear. It did serve as inspiration and my first dedication

          Banned in the USA – By the Boss

          Torn down in the Musk-mans’ town
          The first strike I got was when some twit I clowned
          End up in like a dog that’s been beat too much
          Til you spend half your life, using parler and such, now

          Banned in the USA
          I was banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA

          Got in a little Facebook jam,
          Said the CDC I couldn’t stand,
          Sent me off in a timeout, man
          Mentioned Orwell, I’m permabanned

          Banned in the USA
          I was banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA

          Come back home to the recliner, see (ooh)
          Local news says “we must support the Zelen-sky!”
          I went down to see my D.A. man (D.A. man)
          He said “Son, don’t you understand?”

          I had a brother at Khe Sanh
          Fighting off the Twitter mobs
          They’re still there, he’s all gone
          (Banned in the U.S.A)

          He had a blogger he loved in Saigon
          I gotta picture of her in his arms

          Down in the shadow of a speech penitentiary
          Out by the gas lights of a conspiracy, mama
          10 years burning down the road
          Nowhere to run, and nowhere to post

          Banned in the USA
          I was banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA
          Banned in the USA
          I’m a long gone writer in the USA

        3. Verifyfirst

          I don’t recall how I got on Twitter at the beginning of the pandemic (since I’m not on any other social media). I just read Covid items and follow the excellent scientists and laypeople I have found there–truly extraordinary access to high caliber information. I don’t post anything tho.

    1. tevhatch

      Shining a Light on the UK Government’s Disingenuous Role in Trying to Kill Cash – 03/31/2023 – Nick Corbishley

      I don’t know, but it seems to fit a purpose.

    2. c_heale

      What about the bugs living on touch screens. Or on other plastics. And the wet wipes which people use for cleaning thigs are very good for spreading microorganisms and not much good for killing them.

  6. Samuel Conner

    I imagine that as the current pandemic “filters” the population on a “you do you” basis, the long-term survivors will, at least at an individual level, be better prepared to survive the next pandemic.

    Whether the wider economic and social systems will still function with a smaller worker base remains to be seen.

    1. ambrit

      Will those systems be replaced by “targeted” social goods provisioning systems?
      Asking for a class of friends.

      1. Samuel Conner

        LOL — thanks for the concern. I’m out a great deal, and interacting with people who are less concerned than I am about long-term consequences of repeated CV infection.

        Thankfully, I am masked, so they can’t see my reflexive scowl as I contemplate their complacency.

        1. ambrit

          Yep. I mask in public places and get some rather condescending looks. So far, no outright physical violence. {Knocks on wood, ie forehead.}

  7. Phenix

    Brain fog.

    My work schedule is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I am lucky to get 6 hours a day which is woefully inadequate. I have been hiding my brain fog behind “exhaustion” at work. Everyone has accepted my explanation. I was triple checking my emails but would get responses back letting me know I forgot to attach the file, again.

    I tried upping my omega 3 intake and that did not help with my brain fog.

    Last month I tried 20 mg of PQQ and 300 to 400 mg of CoQ 10. My symptoms improved. I tried it for a month and the symptoms came back when I discontinued using PQQ. I would like to up the dose to 40 mg and 600 mg but that is out of my price range.

    I am also going to try 4 grams of nattokinase. I still can not smell everything. Quercetin did not help me.

    1. lambert strether

      I’m sorry to hear this. Maybe readers can help with dietary suggestions? Big spicy foods fan here (capsaicin); chilis can be grown, too, even very spicy ones, and planting season is coming up!

      1. Phenix

        Thanks Lambert. I’ve always tried to explain to be people that Covid isn’t dangerous…but the lasting effects are the problem…ie it is actually dangerous.

        I lost my sense of smell early. I came down with my first case in Jan-Feb 2020. I lost my sense of smell but had no other symptoms.

        1. Steve H.

          > Covid isn’t dangerous

          Sorry, got to call this out. See ‘pink mist’. It killed my Janet’s father.

    2. fjallstrom

      Sorry to hear that.

      If this is similar to the mental fatigue that can present after strokes, then the following is recommended (by doctors, though I am not one):
      – regular breaks, preferably before the old brain bucket flows over.
      – limit the inflow of information to the brain. For example, use sun glasses and good earphones to limit inflow.
      – do one task at the time.

      That is all I remember of the top of my head, but you can search for “mental fatigue” for more information. I am not saying that the long covid brain fog is mental fatigue, but it sounds similar.

  8. Jeff W

    Mad Libs for the past few days here at the site:

    “I do not _____ that CA remains a little sketchy…”

    concur? brabble? insinuate? insussurate?

      1. Jeff W

        Ha, I’m glad I’m not alone.

        That did not occur to me at all—in fact, it took me a few seconds to realize you were providing the correction as opposed to telling me to “note” something.

    1. lambert strether


      NC is famous for its typos, a downstream consequence of its very lean staff.

      Think of them as signs of authenticity, like scars in fine leather.

  9. OwlishSprite

    Re the house wren: I lived in Maryland for many years, and wrens raised families in my outbuildings amid my myriad cats. One wren mother I was concerned about went out of her way to let me know she had relocated her babies to a brush pile and that they were fine. I continue to treasure my bird friends, because they cotton on to everything, and give back.

    1. mrsyk

      We had a pair that nested in a metal sculpture I’ve got nailed to the side of the chalet. It’s one of those brutalist shields which gives us a good view of the construction which is cool. They were there for a few years until the male offed himself on one of the windows, despite all the crap I’ve got pasted up in them to avoid just that. We were heartbroken. I buried him next to the orange cat. I hope he understood that was intended to be an honor.

      1. OwlishSprite

        He probably saw his reflection and took offense, not your fault. I think what you did was sweet.

  10. mrsyk

    Nothing makes me cry like a cat farewell written from the heart. See you on the other side Marty.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ve told my tuxedo cat and her grey striped sister they aren’t allowed to grow old, so fingers crossed….they are 14 next month.

        So this was a rough anecdote. They are cathletes, so when they miss jumps its not hysterical.

  11. Pat

    Anybody but me think that Bragg was depending on a Friday Trump perk walk and limited Weekend media cycle to dominate all coverage so the public would have their opinion established and would be paying little attention as the details of the indictment came down and started being torn apart. All pro Trump had was indignant and insulted GOP leaders, including Trump opponents.

    The landscape changes With the delayed perp walk. The circus and eye grabbing part will butt up against analysis coverage, from analysts who need to appear objective about the legal aspects and local crime reports of things that upset a whole lot of people more than whether Trump paid off Daniels because of his wife or his campaign.

    But that could just be that I am not impressed with Bragg’s abilities, especially as a political salesman.

    1. hunkerdown

      Trump crucified on Good Friday might have worked out very well for him among the evangelicals.

  12. marym

    “Dominion WINS part of its defamation claims against Fox News on summary judgment, and Fox LOSES their bid to dismiss the remainder of the claims, which will go to trial.”

    “Essentially, the court is granting Dominion summary judgment on everything but actual malice, which will go to trial.”



  13. upstater

    RE. Norfolk Southern… bring out the wet noodle for penalties associated with the forseeable wreck in East Palestine. The federal penalties are a rounding error for executive compensation and perks:

    NS is subject to penalties of $64,618 per day per violation of section 301 of the Clean Water Act, for discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States; and of $55,808 per day or $2,232 per barrel of oil or unit of hazardous substance per violation of Section 311 of the Clean Water Act, for discharge of oil or hazardous substances into waters of the United States.

    From a Trains magazine commenter: “in 60 days, just in fines, NS would be socked with $3,877,080 for violation of section 301 of the Clean Air and Water Act and $3,348,480 for violating section 311 just in fines. (7,225,560 in total for 60 days.)”

    Wow! Can you imagine the fear of the potential penalties impart on class 1 executives? How can guys like Shaw sleep at night knowing if a $7M federal penalty?

  14. fresno dan

    Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn of the charge of Conspiracy Against Rights stemming from his scheme to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote. The verdict followed a one-week trial before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly. When sentenced, Mackey faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
    In 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Presidential Election.
    As proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid. For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.”
    News to me. Prosecuting lying in elections is one slippery slope. Now, how about lying about the mechanisms of elections? If Georgia states that it holds free and fair elections without descrimination, but polling places in black neighborhoods have waiting times 10 or 100 times longer then polling places in white neighborhoods (something that I believe happen) should Georgia election officials be prosecuted?

  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘Dr. Henry, March 30, 2023: “But what we have seen is a decrease in the number of people with Long Covid.”

    In no universe could this statement accurately reflect reality. Covid is still everywhere. The idea that #LongCovid numbers are decreasing is pure fiction.’

    We know about looking for the helpers. I think that we need another catch phrase – Look for the Enablers.

    1. SES

      Try getting a PCR test for Covid here in BC — impossible. And if you can’t prove that you’ve had Covid, well, then how can you officially have long Covid?

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘I’m picturing Trump using a cellphone to video himself, selfie-like, presumably with live commentary. Trump can influence with the best of ’em!)’

    If Trump was half smart, that video should be broadcast live lest that cellphone be confiscated and that footage be “accidentally” deleted.

  17. Not Again

    March 31, 2023

    Over 25% of Donations Came from First-Time Donors to the Trump Campaign

    Mar-a-Lago, FL – President Donald J. Trump raised over $4 million in the 24 hours following Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s unprecedented political persecution of the President, and blatant interference in the 2024 election against the leading Republican presidential candidate.


  18. Jason Boxman

    Biden winning.

    The Biden administration on Friday finalized new rules meant to cut down on widespread overbilling by private Medicare Advantage insurance plans, but softened the approach after intense lobbying by the industry.

    Regulators are still moving forward with rules that will lower payments to insurers by billions of dollars a year. But they will phase in the changes over three years, rather than all at once, and that will lessen the immediate effects.

    Friday news dump.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > that will lessen the immediate effects.

      [breathes a sigh of relief]. The tender care shown by Democrats to the health insurers is a sight to behold. Will no one think of the executive bonuses?!

  19. semper loquitur

    Is UFO Activity Happening in the Skies of Kyiv? 4 New Videos!

    Kyiv astronomer Boris Zhilyaev responds to claims from Avi Loeb and the scientific community that his UFO captures are birds, insects, and artillery with a NEW PAPER and 4 NEW VIDEOS!


    What we need are UFO’s over the courthouse where Trump will be tried!

    1. ambrit

      Trump needs to arrange to be ‘delivered’ to the courthouse on trial days by UFO. I’m sure the boys, girls, and things at Dulce Base could work it for him.
      “No more take me to your leader. We bring leader to you!”

  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    What goes around comes around. I am going to be working that idea for the next several weeks–be patient with me. The wheel of fortune spins round and round, and where she’ll stop, nobody knows.

    Recall what else is at stake in Wisconsin Supreme Court Voting:



    Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Green bid for ballot access

    September 15, 2020

    Color me skeptical.

  21. griffen

    Museum of failures, well that sounds like a fun time. Hey kids, let me tell you about marketing 101! Coca Cola was so popular they tried something better, and it went horribly. So when the new, new soda pop went flat they just added “Classic” to the original.

    Seems like food and beverages are just littered with monumental, epic fails. Potato chips with Olestra, anyone? Yes, I rather like my potato chips without conjuring the urge to stay in a bathroom like anyone else. And to add, the need to mess with Oreos is just weird. Oreo Thins, are a food industry gift to the masses (unless that gift is $5 – $6, after our bouts of inflation).

    1. Schtubb

      “New Coke” was a notorious marketing failure, true. But the follow up (“Coke Classic”) was also a super clever pivot that accomplished many of the original corporate objectives.

      Coke knew in their testing that a sweeter cola tested better. So, like Pepsi, they wanted to go sweeter. They also wanted to switch from expensive cane sugar to HFC – High Fructose Corn sweetener. When Coke Classic was (re)introduced, using the “original formula” that everyone’s nostalgia objected to losing, it may have been less sweet than New Coke, but it used HFC rather than sugar.

      1 out of 2 ain’t bad.

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