2:00PM Water Cooler 3/8/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Robin, Libertytown; Audrey Carroll Wildlife Sanctuary, Frederick, Maryland. “Evening song with calls.”

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“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

“US ending extra help for groceries that started during Covid pandemic” [Syracuse.com]. “Nearly 30 million Americans who got extra government help with grocery bills during the pandemic will soon see that aid shrink — and there’s a big push to make sure they’re not surprised…. For the average recipient, the change will mean about $90 less per month, though for many, it could be much more, an analysis shows. Benefits will return to usual levels, which are based largely on a household’s income, size and certain expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.” • $90 a month is a lot of money.

“Manchin to oppose Biden’s nominee to head IRS” [Politico]. “‘While Daniel Werfel is supremely qualified to serve as the IRS Commissioner, I have zero faith he will be given the autonomy to perform the job in accordance with the law and for that reason, I cannot support his nomination,’ Manchin said in a statement. The West Virginia Democrat has been battling the Treasury Department over what he considers misguided interpretations of legislation Democrats pushed into law last summer expanding tax credits for electric vehicles and a slew of other green energy programs. Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) largely wrote that legislation. Manchin’s move also comes as he faces the prospect of a tough reelection race next year in his Republican-leaning state. He has not said whether he’ll run for another term. Manchin’s opposition is unlikely endanger Werfel’s nomination, which appears assured. Werfel won bipartisan support on the chamber’s Finance Committee, with three Republicans there backing him. The Senate is expected to vote on Werfel’s confirmation Wednesday evening.” • Non-story, then?


“Biden bucks liberals and tells Democrats to get tough on crime” [NBC]. • So the first thing Biden campaign suffogate and New York mayor Eric Adams does is try to criminalize mask-wearers. Well, if it plays in the suburbs….

A thread worth reading from Policy Tensor. Asking cui bono from Biden’s two-front warmongering, the answer seems to be Democrat political apparatchiks — at least in their own minds:

It will be interesting to see how this turns out, because that bastard Trump keeps asking for my vote (and at least by electing him, we put off a proxy war with Russia by four years. That’s not neglible!)

“The Case for a Primary Challenge to Joe Biden” [The Atlantic]. “There has to be one good Challenger X out there from the party’s supposed “deep bench,” right? Someone who is compelling, formidable, and younger than, say, 65. Someone who is not Marianne Williamson. Someone who would be unfailingly gracious to Biden and reverential of his career—even while trying to end it.” • “Reverential” for what? Clarence Thomas? Plus, Joe Biden owes me six hundred bucks.

“White House mocks Marianne Williamson’s run for president with ‘crystal ball’ joke: ‘If I could feel her aura'” [FOX]. “White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took a swing at Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson on Monday, mocking her recently announced campaign. ‘Is the president annoyed, frustrated with Marianne Williamson for jumping in the race ahead of him? Did he want a clear field to run against the Republican nominee in 2024?’ one reporter asked Jean-Pierre during the daily White House press briefing Monday. ‘I’m not tracking that. I mean, if I had a – what is it called? A little globe here – a crystal ball, then I could tell you. A magic eight-ball or whatever. If I could feel her aura,’ Jean-Pierre said while laughing, prompting others in the room to laugh.’ I just don’t have anything to share on that,’ she added.” • I would really, really like it if Williamson started outpolling oh, Elizabeth Warren, for example. Or Newsome.

“Green Light” [Politics Extra]. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could follow the lead of his father and two of his uncles and run for president. He says his wife, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ star Cheryl Hines, ‘has green-lighted it.'”

“DeSantis’ state of state speech mirrors many of the themes of other GOP governors” [Miami Herald]. “In tone and substance, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ state of the state speech on Tuesday was very much like the other 19 Republican governors who have already delivered the 2023 assessment of their state’s status and their legislative plans to move forward. He talked about expanding vouchers for parents to send children to private schools [see under Class Warfare], expanding tax breaks to ‘reduce the pain of inflation.’ He touted his push ‘to join 25 other states’ and allow people to carry concealed guns without a permit, and he vowed to make permanent the state ban on coronavirus vaccine mandates and masks. But in many ways his 30-minute address focused more on looking back at his first four years in office than looking ahead at what should come next. And he stopped short of focusing on many bread and butter issues embraced by Republican governors in other states, according to an analysis of their speeches by the Miami Herald, from the list of state of the state speeches compiled by the National Association of State Budget Officers.”

Trunp rolling along among voters:

Trump Legacy

“‘I hate him passionately’: Tucker Carlson was fed up with Trump after the 2020 election” [NBC]. “‘We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,’ [Carlson] wrote in another text message, referring to the ‘last four years.’ ‘But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.’ The revelation is in hundreds of pages of testimony, private text messages and emails from top Fox News journalists and executives that were made public Tuesday, adding to the trove of documents that show a network in crisis after it alienated core viewers by reporting accurately on the results of the 2020 presidential election. A judge unsealed the documents, along with parts of some employee depositions, as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News. The messages are blunt and, at times, profane, as hosts and top executives panicked about how to boost their ratings as Trump refused to acknowledge his defeat.” • There seems to be a good deal of dunking on this by liberals, but nobody seems to be asking what Carlson would consider an “upside.” I can think of three: Trump preserved American sovereignty by pulling us out of TPP as soon as he took office, Trump did not go to war with Russia, and the CARES Act — passed, admittedly, by both parties, under Trump– was a far superior reponse to a crash than was Obamas (for example, poverty dropped significantly). If you are a liberal Democrat who supports vaxing or vax mandates, then you owe everything to Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. Carlson’s remark is ludicrous on its face, considered as a matter of fact. I’m not sure I’m sufficiently versed in Republican arcana to say what it means for that party.

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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“Thomas Ferguson, Paul D. Jorgensen, and Jie Chen, “Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election.” (PDF) [Institute for New Economic Thinking]. We have linked to this paper again, but it’s always worth reading again. “What happened in the final weeks of the campaign was extraordinary. Firstly, a giant wave of dark money poured into Trump’s own campaign – one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney’s munificently financed 2012 effort – to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments. The gushing torrent, along with all the other funds from identifiable donors that flowed in in the campaign’s final stages should refocus debates about that period…. Maybe all that happened is that money talked, not least in the famous last ad invoking Soros, Blankfein, and Yellin apparently focused on the battleground states. Bolstering suspicions that a wave of last minute money might actually be the most basic explanation for the Clinton collapse is a fact that virtually no analysts have reflected upon: Her late October fall in the polls was not unique. Democratic chances of taking theSenate unraveled virtually in lock step.This was no accident, and here one can trace a bright green thread. Earlier in October, when Trump’s case still appeared hopeless, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his entourage started pitching many famous businessmen and women. Hillary Clinton in the White House, ran their argument, would be awful, but losing control of the Senate would be Armageddon. McConnell, like most politicians, had a history of crying wolf, but by mid-October, polls and betting odds alike suggested that chances of the Republicans losing control of the Senate were excellent (Troyan and Schouten, 2016, Blumenthal, 2017, Isenstadt, 2016). Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, once famously quoted an old adage that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In 2016, the tough, or at least the super-affluent, certainly got going. Our data show that yet another gigantic wave of money flowed in from alarmed business interests, including the Kochs and their allies, who were not actively supporting Trump. Officially the money was for Senate races, but our observation is that late-stage campaigning for down-ballot offices often spills over on to candidates for the party at large. It is much easier to cooperate with state and national party organizations and push the whole ticket, whatever poses individual Republican Senate candidates were striking. Statistically sorting out the joint impact of these two ocean swells is not possible given existing data, but one fact is very telling. For the first time in the entire history of the United States, the partisan outcome of Senate races coincided perfectly with the results of every state’s presidential balloting (Enten, 2016).The dual unravelling of the Democrats is apparent in polls and Iowa market contract prices.”

“Trans Activism’s Long March through Our Institutions” [National Review]. “A movement that focuses on the levers of power rather than building grassroots support is one in which a few wealthy people can have considerable sway. They have shaped the global agenda by funding briefing documents, campaign groups, research, and legal actions; endowing university chairs; and influencing health-care protocols. One is an American transwoman billionaire, Jennifer (James) Pritzker, a retired soldier and one of the heirs to a vast family fortune. Pritzker’s personal foundation, Tawani, makes grants to universities, the ACLU, GLAAD, the HRC, and smaller activist groups. To cite a couple of examples, in 2016 it gave the University of Victoria $2 million to endow a chair of transgender studies, and throughout the ‘bathroom wars’ it supported Equality Illinois Education Project, which is linked to a group campaigning for gender self-ID in the state. Two other billionaires, neither transgender, also spend lavishly on transactivism. One is Jon Stryker, another heir to a fortune… The third billionaire funder of transactivism is George Soros, via his Open Society Foundations (OSF), a network of independently managed philanthropic institutions. OSF has made large donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Watch (including $100 million in 2010, its biggest donation ever), and the HRC, all of which campaign for gender self-identification.

“The Reality Beyond the Fringe” [Ross Barkan]. “As a native New Yorker, I can’t claim to know the Great Plains, but I’ve spent a great deal of time in the rural Midwest because I have family there. I’ve driven I-80, shopped at Meijer, and swam in broiling summer lakes. I’ve hung out for months in counties that handed Trump healthy majorities in two national elections. What much of the media often misses, even now, is that most people simply do not care about politics. Voter turnout increased in the Trump years, thanks to the intense polarization of the electorate, and it may stay high for a while yet, but this does not mean the bulk of Americans are wandering around contemplating localism or Viktor Orbán or the Cathedral or imminent civil war. They’re getting up for work, raising kids, and maybe thinking about the start of baseball season, since it’s March. They’re not schooled in the lingua franca of woke or anti-woke. They’re not on Twitter and probably haven’t heard of Signal. They’re certain America will exist in 10, 20, or 30 years, and they’re probably right.” • A useful antidote to Acela Corridor musings about civil war, whether conservative or liberal.

“The Deep Archeology of Fox News” [Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo]. “One of the things that is clear from the very start of the conservative movement was a basic failure to quite understand the thing they rallied themselves against, the history that in Bill Buckley’s famous phrase he was standing athwart and yelling “Stop!” None of the organizations that the right took issue with — the think tanks, the news publications, the movie studios, the nonprofits, the book publishers — were ideological, let alone partisan, organizations. When the founders of modern conservatism looked at CBS News they saw the shock troops of liberalism and the Democratic Party. Same with Brookings and the Washington Post and all the rest. And when they went to build their own versions of these institutions they patterned them off their own cartoonish understandings of how these operations functioned. The idea that institutions like CBS News or The New York Times were, whatever their faults and unexamined biases, fundamentally rooted in an ethic of news gathering and reporting was really totally lost on them. So how do we get from this elemental misunderstanding to the raw and casual lying of the Fox of today? Well, that’s the thing: we don’t. Both were there from the very start. It’s all but impossible to disentangle the culture clash, the inability and refusal to really grasp what these institutions were, and the more open culture of propaganda, lying and mendacity. They’re fused together so tightly that getting your head around the relationship between them is more a matter of meditative absorption than anything that can be processed or explained discursively. • Marshall may actually believe this. But Iraq WMDs, RussiaGate… What are they but “raw and casual lying”? And then there is the lying by omission; thirty days of non-coverage of Hersh’s Nordstream 2 story, to pick a recent example, one of many,

PA: “John Fetterman sponsored a bill from the hospital. Here’s what he can and can’t do in the Senate during treatment” [Inquirer]. “Despite remaining hospitalized while undergoing treatment for depression, Fetterman cosponsored a plan with Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), J.D. Vance (R., Ohio), and others to try to avert future crises like the one unfolding after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio…. [O]ne of two top aides — chief-of-staff Adam Jentleson or senior adviser Bobby Maggio — visits Fetterman at the hospital most mornings and briefs him for around an hour. They bring updates from Capitol Hill and ask for input on thorny questions, Jentelson said in an interview…. When it came to the rail safety bill, for example, Jentleson said Fetterman asked about what unions for rail workers wanted. The issue not only affects a large swath of the senator’s constituents, it resonates with his pledge to stand up for ‘forgotten communities.'” • What a concept. Not every liberal Democrat does that.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“CDC issues measles alert after confirmed case at Asbury revival in Kentucky” [FOX]. • Unsurprisingly.


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

• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 38/50 states (76%). Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you! (I think I have caught up with everybody I missed.)

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); 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, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, Joe, John, JM (6), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (4), 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 38/50 (76% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!

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Look for the Helpers

“Three years in: 7 things we’ve learned about COVID” [CU Boulder Today]. Filing this here because CU’s Prof. Jose-Luis Jimenez did so much to advance our understanding that #COVIDisAirborne, even though he’s from a state school [snort]. And some of the seven things in this round-up are new: “Recent CU Boulder research has found that airborne particles carrying coronavirus can remain infectious for twice as long in drier air, in part because the saliva emitted with them serves as a protective barrier around the virus, especially at low humidity levels. … Humidifying indoor spaces is expensive and inefficient, however, said Hernandez. Instead, adding high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filters, opening windows and improving ventilation are all easy and affordable measures anyone can implement.” And: “When people simply take a moment to reflect on the consequences of their behavior, they tend to choose options that impose fewer risks on other people, according to research from Leaf Van Boven, professor of psychology and neuroscience. The international study of 13,000 people, published in November in PNAS Nexus, was conducted at the height of the pandemic. Van Boven and his colleagues presented the global participants with hypothetical scenarios related to joining social gatherings during the pandemic, for which they had to decide to attend, cancel, or reduce capacity. But before they did so, some participants were instructed to pause and practice a technique called “structured reflection.” Those in the structured reflection group were significantly more likely to err on the side of minimizing public health risks. As COVID-19 restrictions lift, such personal responsibility will grow increasingly important.” And: “Published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the work found that after [germicidal ultraviolet light (GUV)], disinfection, the amount of harmful secondary chemicals in indoor air have an impact, but are not so detrimental as to recommend against the use of GUV. This suggests that GUV can be used to fight COVID, as well as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), in environments at high risk of virus transmission, such as emergency waiting rooms, restaurants and gyms.” And: “Feeding our gut microbes with healthy foods, spices and antioxidants, as well as addressing our stress and balancing physical activity with adequate recovery are some actions we can take to give ourselves a chance at less severe outcomes and full recovery following infection, said Barbara Demmig-Adams, professor of distinction and director of the EBIO Honors Program within the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Demmig-Adams is co-author on a study published last year in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, detailing how the human body is predisposed to chronic, low-level inflammation—which puts us at a biological disadvantage when fighting off the virus that causes COVID-19. Due to our bodies’ inflammatory responses, she notes that we should be just as careful about overexerting our bodies as not moving them enough. If you are actively sick or recently recovered, it may be wise to schedule in more rest and recovery time than anticipated.” • OK, OK, it’s from a university’s PR department. But the click-throughs are not unimpressive.

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Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:

“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.

Covid Is Airborne

“Indoor air is full of flu and COVID viruses. Will countries clean it up?” [Nature]. “In March 2022, the US government launched a Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to spur building owners and operators to improve their ventilation and indoor air quality. In October last year, the state of California passed a law requiring all school buildings to provide clean indoor air. And in December, the White House announced that all federal buildings — some 1,500 in total — would meet minimum air-safety requirements. Also in December, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) — a construction-industry body whose recommendations are adopted into law through local building codes in the United States and elsewhere — announced that it would be developing standards that take infection risk into account by June 2023…. Specialists in indoor air quality are buoyed by the prospect that the pandemic could bring lasting improvements to the air we breathe indoors. … ‘There’s never been, in history, so much action about indoor air quality,’ says Lidia Morawska, an aerosol scientist at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia…. Researchers say it will take time to lower the infection risks inside buildings. ‘We are looking at 30 years,’ says Morawska. ‘But we are talking about the future of our society.'” • 30 years? Don’t throw out your masks just yet, then….


How Democrat Eric Adams reframed mask-wearers as criminals, good job:

Since nobody slapped him around, Democrats support Adams in his views (unsurprisingly, seeing as how iconic liberal Democrat venues like the New Yorker and the New York Times — you know, the “In This House” crowd — opened the door to blaming and shaming people who want only to protect others and themselves from a lethal airborne pathogen). See how to resist here. Adams doesn’t get to rewrite human rights legislation just by emitting nonsense verbiage on radio and television.

Boggles the mind that medical offices are such offenders:


“Efficacy of Cetylpyridinium Chloride mouthwash against SARS-CoV-2: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials” [Molecular Oral Microbiology]. Meta-study of RCTs. “Randomized controlled trials comparing cetylpyridinium chloride mouthwash with placebo and other mouthwash ingredients in SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals were identified and evaluated… Mouthwashes containing cetylpyridinium chloride are effective against salivary viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in vivo. There is also the possibility that the use of mouthwash containing cetylpyridinium chloride in SARS-CoV-2 positive subjects could reduce transmissibility and severity of COVID-19.” • Crest and Colgate. Check the label!


“Long-term gastrointestinal outcomes of COVID-19” [Nature]. VA data. “We show that beyond the first 30 days of infection, people with COVID-19 exhibited increased risks and 1-year burdens of incident gastrointestinal disorders spanning several disease categories including motility disorders, acid related disorders (dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease), functional intestinal disorders, acute pancreatitis, hepatic and biliary disease. The risks were evident in people who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of COVID-19 and increased in a graded fashion across the severity spectrum of the acute phase of COVID-19 (non-hospitalized, hospitalized, and admitted to intensive care). The risks were consistent in comparisons including the COVID-19 vs the contemporary control group and COVID-19 vs the historical control group as the referent category. Altogether, our results show that people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are at increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders in the post-acute phase of COVID-19. Post-covid care should involve attention to gastrointestinal health and disease.” • More support for the idea that having been infected with Covid is itself a disability and has the legal status as such.

Elite Malfeasance

Maybe if infectious disease had been a more interesting field, hospital infection control departments wouldn’t be filled with anti-mask reactionaries:

Eisenhower and JFK didn’t decide to “live with” polio, did they? But here we are:

Mission accomplished!

Suckers, liars, get me a shovel:

Or a pump handle, as the case may be.

“Northampton to use pandemic relief dollars for ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ manhole covers” [Boston.com]. “A series of manhole covers in Northampton are about to get a fresh coat of super-powered paint thanks to thousands of dollars in pandemic relief funds. This week, the city announced how it plans to spend $4 million it received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). A total of $20,000 will be used to create four custom manhole covers with art depicting the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ This public art display is intended to be a tribute to the famous ‘heroes in a half shell,’ which were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman while they lived in Northampton in the early 80’s.” • Northampton. Throw a manhole cover, hit a liberal.

The Jackpot

This account from the UK is pretty dark, so:

Readers, what do you see?

* * *

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

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from March 6:

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 call centers and testing sites close in further sign US is moving past the pandemic” [ABC]. The deck: “Several COVID data trackers have also recently shut down.” More; “Hospitalizations and deaths, both of which are traditionally lagging indicators, have also been trending downward. Over the same period, weekly deaths have fallen from 4,448 to 2,407, according to CDC data.” • 2,407 * 52 = 125,164, not worth tracking, so the eugenicists have added another tranche of normalized lethality on top of deaths of despair, etc. Mission accomplished, and only good ol’ Scranton Joe could have done it. I wonder where the next tranche will come from?

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 4:

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.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 8:

-2.8%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,147,217 – 1,146,740 = 477 (477 * 365 = 174,105 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).

Stats Watch

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* * *

Retail: “As Customer Problems Hit a Record High, More People Seek ‘Revenge'” [Wall Street Journal] Crapification + enshittification. “Americans are encountering more problems with companies’ products and services than ever before, and a higher proportion of them are actively seeking “revenge” for their troubles, a new study has found….. The percentage of consumers who have taken action to settle a score against a company through measures such as pestering or public shaming in person or online, has tripled to 9% from 3% in 2020, according to the study. That reversed a downward trend with regards to revenge-seeking behavior: The average percentage of customers seeking revenge between 2003 and 2017 was 17%…. The latest wave of research found 79% of customers complained about their most serious problem to the company at fault, an increase from 72% in 2020. And 43% said they raised their voice to a customer service representative to show displeasure about their most serious problem, up from 35% in 2017, the most recent previous time the question was asked on the survey.”

Big Ag:

“Corn is a platform.”

The Bezzle: “Commentary: Cory Doctorow: End to End” [Cory Doctorow, Locus]. “Here’s something I think we should all agree upon: when a willing speaker wants to say something to a willing listener, our technology should be de­signed to make a best effort to deliver the speaker’s message to the person who asked to get it. I hope this is self-evidently true. When you dial a phone number, the phone company’s job is to connect you to that number, not to someone else. When you call Tony’s Pizza, you expect to be connected to Tony’s Pizza – not to Domino’s, not even if Domino’s is willing to pay for the privilege. When you use your TV remote to tune into CNN, you don’t want your cable operator to show you Fox instead – not even if Fox will pay them to do so. If you follow someone on social media, then the things that person says should show up in your timeline. That is not a radical proposition, but it is also not the case today. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and other dominant social media platforms treat the list of people we follow as suggestions, not commands. When you identify a list of people you want to hear from, the platform uses that as training data for suggestions that only incidentally contain the messages that the people you subscribed to. There are various reasons for this, but they all boil down to the platform shifting value away from its users to its shareholders. Obviously that is the case with ads: the volume of ‘‘sponsored posts” that enshittify your feed is titrated to be just below the threshold where the service becomes useless to you. But there’s another group of people who can pay to reach you – the people you’ve chosen to follow. When you subscribe to a performer, or a news outlet, or a political group, they have to pay to ensure that the things they publish show up for you. The platforms have cute names for this danegeld (‘‘boost­ing,” etc), but it boils down to the phone company telling Tony’s Pizza, ‘‘If you don’t pay us extra, then every time someone calls Tony’s, we’re going to connect them to Domino’s.” Thus the enshittification of your feed is only partially about showing you ads: it’s also about making the people you want to hear from pay to reach you. This shouldn’t be allowed. The services should make their best effort to deliver messages from willing senders to willing receivers. This principle can be generalized to other kinds of online services. When you search for a product on Amazon, the first result should be the product you searched for, not an Amazon own-brand clone of that product, or the product of a rival that paid for the privilege of being at the top of the results.”

Tech: “How a single engineer brought down Twitter on Monday” [Platformer]. Happened right while I was doing Water Cooler. Embed died, links died. Twitter was backup after an hour or so, however. “On Monday morning, Twitter users logged on to find a thicket of connected issues. Clicking on links would no longer open them; instead, users would see a mysterious error message reporting that “your current API plan does not include access to this endpoint.” Images stopped loading as well. Other users reported that they could not access TweetDeck, the Twitter-owned client for professional users…. The change in question was part of a project to shut down free access to the Twitter API, Platformer can now confirm. On February 1, the company announced it will no longer support free access to its API, which effectively ended the existence of third-party clients and dramatically limited outside researchers’ ability to study the network. The company has been building a new, paid API for developers to work with. But in a sign of just how deep Elon Musk’s cuts to the company have been, only one site reliability engineer has been staffed on the project, we’re told. On Monday, the engineer made a ‘bad configuration change’ that ‘basically broke the Twitter API,’ according to a current employee.” Oops. More: “The change had cascading consequences inside the company, bringing down much of Twitter’s internal tools along with the public-facing APIs. On Slack, engineers responded with variations of ‘crap’ and ‘Twitter is down – the entire thing’ as they scrambled to fix the problem. Elon Musk was furious, we’re told. ‘A small API change had massive ramifications,’ Musk tweeted later in the day, after Twitter investor Marc Andreessen posted a screenshot showing that the company’s API failures were trending on the site. ‘The code stack is extremely brittle for no good reason. Will ultimately need a complete rewrite.'” • Stick with COBOL, my advice. Some of that steam-powered stuff has been running for decades.

Manufacturing: “90,000 Miles On My Tesla Model 3 — Maintenance Costs Higher Than Expected” [CleanTechnica]. “In just over 90,000 miles, the total cost of the tires and out-of-warranty repairs for my Model 3 have been $5,441.42. See itemized costs below. This is much more than I expected. I have had the maintenance issues detailed in the following paragraphs. Conveniently, I was able to obtain the dates, mileage, and exact cost of my Tesla repairs from the Tesla app on my phone. Not conveniently, it appears to go back only 2 years.” • Hmm. Interesting point on the heavy battery causing increased tire wear.

Healthcare: “Gender Reassignment Surgery Market by Type, End-user and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2023-2027” [Technavio]. “The gender reassignment surgery market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10.73% between 2022 and 2027. The size of the market is forecast to increase by USD 321.48 million. The growth of the market depends on serval factors, including the increase in the number of people opting for sex change surgeries globally, favourable government policies, and increasing insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgical procedures….. The number of gender reassignment procedures conducted in the US each year is estimated to be between 100 and 500. The number of such surgeries performed worldwide is estimated to be 2 to 5 times greater than that in the US…. Sex change surgery is irreversible.”

The Economy: “Explainer: U.S. yield curve reaches deepest inversion since 1981: What is it telling us?” [Reuters]. “An inverted yield curve occurs when yields on shorter-dated Treasuries rise above those for longer-term ones. It suggests that while investors expect interest rates to rise in the near term, they believe that higher borrowing costs will eventually hurt the economy, forcing the Fed to later ease monetary policy…. The phenomenon is closely watched by investors as it has preceded past recessions…. When short-term rates increase, U.S. banks raise benchmark rates for a wide range of consumer and commercial loans, including small business loans and credit cards, making borrowing more costly for consumers. Mortgage rates also rise. When the yield curve steepens, banks can borrow at lower rates and lend at higher rates. When the curve is flatter their margins are squeezed, which may deter lending.”

The Economy: “Fed Chair Powell Warns of More Aggressive Rate Hikes to Address Inflation” (video) [C-SPAN]. Transcribed:

Not constrained in our policy by the budgetary situation of the United States. Reminds me of something….

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 47 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 8 at 12:58 PM ET.

The Screening Room

“The Last of Us” (HBO) [IMDB] “After a global pandemic destroys civilization, a hardened survivor takes charge of a 14-year-old girl who may be humanity’s last hope.” The 14-year-old girl is played by Bella Ramsey, who played Lyanna Mormont in Season 6 of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.'” Rotten Tomatoes: “The Last of Us is bingeworthy TV that ranks among the all-time greatest video game adaptations.” • I binged on a few episodes with a friend. It’s very good, and very a propos. The fungus (coryceps) spreads very rapidly and turns humans into zombies, so there’s that for the “Covid cautious.” There are also quarantine zones controlled by a fascist state for the anti-maskers and GBD types, plus an actual armed resistances trying both to overthrow the fascists and return the world to humans for the left, if any. So there’s something for everybody!

Zeitgeist Watch

The Gallery

Big Atget fan here:

But… that [family blog] triangle running from bottom left to mid-right — the floor, the sidewalk, the pavement — that always appears when you shoot something human-made at an angle, especially in street photography…. Am I the only one bugged by this?

Our Famously Free Press

Somebody had to say it:

Occasioned by this:

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Comanche empire:

If empire it was. I really mention this only because the feral hog hunter in Neal Stephenson’s newest, Termination Shock, is (part-?) Comanche.

Class Warfare

“Full Suffrage for Women Was Won First by Socialists” [Labor Politics]. “There are a lot of different ways to discredit working-class politics. As the continued promotion of the ‘Bernie Bro’ myth illustrates, one of the most popular today is to claim that socialists ignore women’s oppression. Elaborate versions of this argument fill the news-media, Twitter, and academia. By focusing only on economic issues and class, we are told, the socialist movement has always marginalized women and their specific demands for equality. Like all good liberal myths, these arguments rely on bad history. Working-class feminism has a long and rich legacy. For over a century working women fought for their own liberation through the socialist movement. Few cases better illustrate this point (or have been more buried by history) than that of turn-of-the-century Finland. In 1906, through a mass general strike and working-class insurgency against the Russian Empire, it became the first nation in the world to grant full universal suffrage — i.e. the right to vote and run for office. Socialists were at the forefront.”

“Tax Avoidance Continues to Fuel School Privatization Efforts” [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]. “Lawmakers in several states are discussing enacting or expanding school voucher tax credits, which reimburse individuals and businesses for ‘donations’ they make to organizations that give out vouchers for free or reduced tuition at private K-12 schools. In effect, these credits allow contributing families to opt out of paying for public education and other public services. New data—published here for the first time—reveal that wealthy families are overwhelmingly the ones using these credits to opt out of paying tax to public coffers. In all three states providing data, most of the credits are being claimed by families with incomes over $200,000. Wealthy families’ interest in these programs is being driven partly by a pair of tax shelters that can make ‘donating’ profitable. These shelters hinge on stacking state and federal tax cuts and are being advertised in the states as a way to get a ‘double tax benefit’ and ‘make money’ in the process. This kind of language is a far cry from most nonprofit fundraising pitches and gives some sense of the supersized nature of the tax benefits being offered for private and religious K-12 schooling. Voucher tax credits are without merit and should be repealed. Short of that, states can end their use as profitable tax shelters with straightforward reforms. A national solution to this problem, however, will require action by the IRS.” • Wowsers. It’s almost like school vouchers are scam that benefits the rich.

“What is a Symbol?” [JSTOR Daily]. A symbol is what symbol manipulating entities and agents accumulate as part of their symbolic capital. Why do you ask? “One of the first things to know about symbols is that the words symbol and icon are not interchangeable. Whereas icons are simplified representations of items in the world that often have a one-to-one translation of a particular word, symbols represent an idea or abstract concept. Take the following two posters promoting boating safety in the U.S. The first uses icons in place of a specific word—an image of a fish stands in for the word “fish”. In the second poster, Uncle Sam is being used as a symbol to communicate a sense of responsibility and duty to associate boating safety with these ideas…. One of the first things to know about symbols is that the words symbol and icon are not interchangeable. Whereas icons are simplified representations of items in the world that often have a one-to-one translation of a particular word, symbols represent an idea or abstract concept. Take the following two posters promoting boating safety in the U.S. The first uses icons in place of a specific word—an image of a fish stands in for the word “fish”. In the second poster, Uncle Sam is being used as a symbol to communicate a sense of responsibility and duty to associate boating safety with these ideas.”

“ChatGPT Could Be an Effective and Affordable Tutor” [The74]. • Of course, the rich will pay for human tutors. But who will have tutored the tutors?

News of the Wired

“Emma Willard’s Maps of Time” [The Public Domain Review]. “The current proliferation of visual information mirrors a similar moment in the early nineteenth century, when the advent of new printing techniques coincided with the rapid expansion of education. Schoolrooms from the Atlantic seaboard to the Mississippi frontier made room for the children of farmers as well as merchants, girls as well as boys. Together, these shifts created a robust and highly competitive market for school materials, including illustrated textbooks, school atlases, and even the new genre of wall maps. No individual exploited this publishing opportunity more than Emma Willard, one of the century’s most influential educators. From the 1820s through the Civil War, Willard’s history and geography textbooks exposed an entire generation of students to her deeply patriotic narratives, all of which were studded with innovative and creative pictures of information that sought to translate big data into manageable visual forms.” • For example:

* * *

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 BB:

BB writers: “Container grown blueberry plant, dormant for fall/winter. Hope it survives it’s first brutal winter with the wind and cold in South Dakota. Located it near the house to hopefully protect it. We’ll see in the spring.”

* * *

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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. Laughingsong

    “But… that [family blog] triangle running from bottom left to mid-right — the floor, the sidewalk, the pavement — that always appears when you shoot something human-made at an angle, especially in street photography…. Am I the only one bugged by this?”

    I enjoy how perspective works in a composition, sorry. Even after all these years, I still mentally add the vanishing point(s) when I look at it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t mind the perpective; I mind that floors and pavements have little interest in themselves (normally).

      But perhaps I don’t need to worry!

  2. Louis Fyne

    — Hmm. Interesting point on the heavy battery causing increased tire wear.—

    I call shenanigans. A Tesla 3 weighs 3,600 lbs.—pretty standard for a mid-sized sedan.

    The wear on the tires is either (owner’s tire choice—-kinda reads like owner isn’t buying quality tires) and/or something related to the regenerative braking system. But I have never heard of Toyota hybrid owners complaining about tire wear.

    And spoiler alert—that Model 3’s post-warranty cost isn’t out of line for a luxury car. Tesla is a luxury car and costs should be compared to equivalent BMW, Mercedes—not a Toyota.


    1. cnchal

      It is the quick acceleration that wears the tires out. A Toyota hybrid has a much smaller electric motor and battery so not nearly as quick plus they are driven by Casper Milquetoast.

      Tesla drivers are lead foots, is my observation.

      . . . An internal combustion engine (ICE) replacement cost is ~$7000. It is much more complex than an electric motor. In addition, ICE cars have very complex transmissions (replacement cost ~$5000). You also have exhaust and emission control systems, which EVs do not have, radiator/cooling systems, etc., etc., etc.

      A few paragraphs later.

      7) July 22, 2022/73,149 miles: Remove and replace Superbottle (battery and drive system cooling valve) because car wouldn’t go over 50 mph = $672.75. Note: this has been replaced by the Octovalve on newer Model 3s.
      – – – – –
      9) February 20, 2023/90,029 miles: Remove and replace PTC/cabin heater (car wouldn’t go into drive) = $1,148.00 (Note: I understand that more recent Model 3s now have a heat pump instead of resistance heating. The PTC is now isolated from the drive system, so if the heat pump fails, it shouldn’t cause the drive system to freeze up.)

      Lets hope the Octovalve doesn’t crap out too. The point is there are systems that can and will break. Just because it has an electric motor that is simple doesn’t mean the car is simple. The digital garbage contained within will be expensive to repair when it breaks and whacking a curb could easily write the car off when the cost of that electric rack floors the owner.

      Here is an oldie but goodie, from Jeremy Clarkson – Top Gear

      When the tarmac ended and the road became a quagmire, logic dictated that I should simply give up. BMWs do not have the best reputation for longevity and I was asking it to climb a track that, half the time, was flummoxing the crew’s Toyota Land Cruisers. But even though that car had been owned by a penniless enthusiast with a trailer, nothing broke. Nothing.

      It didn’t even suffer unduly when the going became extremely rough. Yes, two of the airbags deployed over one nasty jolt, but unlike the estate cars chosen by my colleagues — a Volvo 850 R and a Subaru Impreza WRX — it arrived at the finish line with all its wheels still attached.

      For nearly two weeks it had been driven on washboard gravel, through mud and, some of the time, on no kind of track at all. And yet I could quite happily have driven it back to England afterwards. And, despite all the hardships and all the torture, it would have made it.

      So bear that in mind if you are looking at your own car now. You may think it’s on its last legs, but I’d like to take a bet that it isn’t.

      Jonathon Porritt, George Monbiot, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth will tell you that to save the planet you must dispose of your old car and use the bus or a bicycle instead.

      But I’ve got a better idea. If you really want to save the planet, and a fortune too, do not buy a new car. Follow the teachings of Top Gear and simply carry on using the one you’ve got now.

      Whenever I look at anything newer than 2006 I see nothing worth buying. The E39 was peak BMW made from 97 – 03 and designed in the 90’s, thirty years ago. The new ones are total garbage. Progress.

      1. petal

        Yes on the Tesla drivers are leadfoots observation. I’ve noticed that myself. Lots of Teslas around here. They tend to accelerate quickly and brake hard.

        1. Peerke

          We are as lead footed as turbo diesel drivers or any other torquey auto. I admit to using the power and instant torque at my disposal occasionally. Thing is the Teslas are very quick – they don’t need to be but it is a selling point and actually the cheapest and lightest Tesla, the model 3 so called standard range plus with small battery is also pretty quick and efficient at the same time and I am convinced at this point after 5 years of EV driving that they are safer in spite of all the distracting bells and whistles primarily due to one pedal driving and regenerative breaking. In other words if you are using it correctly you should be driving so as to avoid braking (that is avoiding using the brake pedal). Anyone driving a Tesla or any EV always braking hard is missing the point. I notice Porsche engineers are saying regen is the wrong way to go and coasting is more efficient- might be true on the Autobahns but not when you have traffic lights every intersection.

          1. cnchal

            > . . . to one pedal driving and regenerative breaking. In other words if you are using it correctly you should be driving so as to avoid braking (that is avoiding using the brake pedal).

            Never having driven any electric car this is puzzling. It implies that the driver always has to have their foot on the accelerator pedal and that there is a point where the car accelerates and then with reduced pressure it decelerates. That is not intuitive for the majority of drivers and requires relearning how to drive. Have I got the inference correct, that’s how it works?

            Whenever regenerative braking is mentioned I had assumed that the first motion of the brake pedal is the initiator and if the deceleration wasn’t enough further pedal travel would be conventional braking.

            The Porsche engineers have it right. Foot on the accelerator = acceleration, foot off the accelerator = coasting if the goal is intuitive control. The Tesla kiddie bumper car system isn’t and is missing the clutch to boot.

            Perhaps a four pedal system. Accelerator, clutch, regenerative braking, braking, just so there is no mistaking what pedal to press when gazing out the window.

            1. Peerke

              That’s pretty much it but you can adjust it and on some cars turn it off. The point is all that kinetic energy is wasted if you brake which you will eventually do if you have a coasting system. The brake pedal also produces regen when you brake gently just like on a hybrid system but it’s the energy waste you need to avoid. One pedal driving is actually quite instinctive and there is a Goldilocks peddle angle at any speed where you are actually coasting.

      2. Irrational

        On BMW being garbage: we have an X1 from 2013 and had to replace the transmission after 45k miles. We were told we were the problem rather than the transmission being a dud despite many online complaints of the same thing. Recommend not to buy BMW.

    2. Copeland

      We had a new 2010 Prius and the tires did indeed wear out much earlier than any new car we had previously.

    3. spud

      it all depends on how well the car was engineered. there is only so much you can do with front end, and rear alignment, with camber, castor and toe in.

      if the car was never really balanced properly, it will shred the tires as you drive.

    1. curlydan

      Well, that report would have made Zenyep’s head explode. It’s important to point out that the 2x risk of mortality and 3x risk of hospitalization are comparing 180 days following the re-infection date for a reinfected group versus a similar 180 days for a non-reinfected group.

      In other words, if we both got Covid for the first time on Jan 1, 2021 then I got reinfected on Jan 1, 2022 and you did not, my chances of dying in the 180 days from Jan 1, 2022 are 2x your chances, and my chances of being hospitalized are 3x yours if we were the “average” cases. But this does not really talk about the severity of the disease on reinfection. The paper does point out a bunch of other very elevated risks (cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes) in this 180 day timeframe, too.

      See supplemary figure 2 and 3 here for a fairly clear chart that’s probably better than my explanation above:

      From this paper:

      “Our analyses should not be interpreted as an assessment of severity of a second infection versus that of a first infection, nor should they be interpreted as an examination of the risks of adverse health outcomes after a second infection compared to risks incurred after a first infection.”

      For my part, I will try hard not to get reinfected, and I still mask in indoor areas outside my home.

  3. mrsyk

    “Readers, what do you see?” I went shopping yesterday (SW Vermont) and saw more masking than I’ve seen for some time. Even at Home Depot, where I am usually the only person wearing a mask. I went to two other high volume businesses and was pleasantly surprised at the number of masks. Until yesterday it had become unusual to encounter more than two or three masked people while doing the shopping.

    1. Pat

      Mask usage is up on the buses in NYC. Stores some more some less. I do have to add that increased doesn’t mean adequate or proper. Ill fitted surgical masks are still the norm.

        1. anon in so cal

          Encouraging to read yesterday that San Francisco healthcare institutions will continue to require masking even after state-wide relaxation starting April 3.

          “Amid Relaxing COVID Rules for Health Workers, San Francisco Is Reinforcing Them
          — Healthcare workers in the city must continue to mask and be vaccinated”

          by Cheryl Clark, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today March 7, 2023

          While California, Oregon, and Washington plan to drop requirements that healthcare workers wear face masks in indoor health facilities on April 3, San Francisco continues to enforce this rule, along with vaccine requirements.

          In the first of two orders issued February 28, Susan Philip, MD, MPH, health officer for the city and county of San Francisco, said healthcare workers must continue “to wear a well-fitted mask at all times when in the same room as patients, clients, residents, or people who are incarcerated,” and strongly recommended use of non-vented N95, KN95, or KF94 respirator masks.”


          Even Bob is on board.

          Waiting to hear what LA county plans.

    2. antidlc

      In my neck of the woods, very, very few masks. For the rare moments I actually go inside a store or pharmacy, I’m pretty much the only one wearing a mask. (Still doing grocery pickup for the most part .)

      Lambert said up above: “Boggles the mind that medical offices are such offenders:”

      Yes, it does, Lambert. Yes, it does.

      Our PCP now has a “masks recommended by not required” sign on the door. The office staff, doctors, and nurses were maskless.

      Does any of this make any sense? Why have a sign on the door recommending patients wear masks, but no one in the office was following the recommendation?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        A little good news on the medical office front – took my better half in a couple weeks ago for a procedure and masks were required for all staff and patients. The receptionist who was behind plexiglass anyway pulled her mask right back up when it briefly fell below her nose briefly. Anecdotal, but not everyone is throwing caution to the wind.

    3. B Flat

      In my area of NYC, some days I see lots of masks but often I’ll be the only one. SanNOtize and masking, still popping zinc and 5-8k vit. D every day.

    4. midtownwageslave

      Currently traveling. In [major French city] and [major Spanish city] I’d wager less than 5 percent of people wear masks. Most of the masked are on public transportation and if not there then the occasional cashier. It is almost as if COVID doesn’t exist anymore.

      It’s wild out here.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Here in my part of Oz I am seeing very few people wear masks, even in hospitals (no longer mandatory) and doctor’s surgery. Since those two places are where sick people gather by definition, this is insane.

    6. Offtrail

      I’m traveling to Nepal on Sunday. We have been asked by the leaders of the retreat my wife and I are attending to wear N95 masks throughout the trip. On the one hand, this is understandable. On the other I’m not looking forward to the 15 hour flight from SFO to Doha.

      1. Daryl

        It stinks, but I think masking on planes is one of the most impactful things you can do to not get sick.

    7. petal

      Mask usage seems to be stable(and low) around here and there’s been a lot less coughing and sneezing on the bus lately.
      Our esteemed cancer center director was in the busy local diner this morning sans mask. Along with a couple other PIs(MDs), also maskless.

  4. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added more orts and scraps than usual because I had to leave a ton of stuff on the cutting room floor to skewer Eric Adams yesterday. Hopefully I will catch up tomorrow.

  5. some guy

    It could be that a President Trump term two would delay a proxy war with Russia by 4 years. But a President Trump term two could also bring a Civil War with America four years forward. Which would be more dangerous to my efforts to make my survivalism preparations crash-resistant and fire-resistant?

    I still have two years to think about this, because it is possible that the Ukraine-Russia war will be resolved one way or the other by then anyway, and that possible proxy war possibility will be removed.

    So when election time is very close, I will make my best guesstimate as to which candidate would offer a greater chance of Civil Cold Peace for 4 years in which to harden and entrench my survival preparations. If enough other people think the same way, the coming election will be a purely danger-avoidance election, with the “lesser deadly threat” candidate being the winner. And we will see who the election non-boycotting population considers to be the lesser deadly threat as president.

    1. Louis Fyne

      we won’t have Civil War 2.

      NYC, LA, DC, SF will all have food riots and/or run out of garbage storage space and/or run out of potable water.

      NYC will turn into the Paris Commune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune

      Before people in blue mega-cities start throwing stones at the folks in flyover country—-pull out a paper map and find out where are your bread-flour, water, toilet paper, electricity comes from, and where your garbage goes.

    2. Robert Hahl

      “…at least by electing him [Trump], we put off a proxy war with Russia by four years. That’s not negligible!)” That is exactly what I said when he got elected, and I didn’t even vote for him, or anyone else (except for city council.) At this point I can’t think of anyone but Trump who I could vote for in a national election.

      1. pjay

        That’s the issue right there. There is only *one* possible candidate whose rhetoric (and I understand that it is *only* rhetoric at this point) comes anywhere near my own views – and that is Trump. No one else in either party comes close.

        A Trump victory would not foster a civil war – unless the Establishment tries to railroad him out of office again. The urban/suburban island enclaves that represent what’s left of the Democrat electorate wouldn’t have a chance.

        I was a Democrat for 45 years, complaining most of that time. I finally gave up for good after 2016. Democrats are clueless. I have no illusions about Republicans, but I’m beginning to wonder if they are truly the lesser evil.

  6. semper loquitur

    Thanks for the article on the burgeoning “gender reassignment” industry. Two quibbles: there is in fact no such thing as “sex reassignment surgery”. Nor is there any such thing as “gender reassignment surgery”. This is all scammy marketing language from the for-profit medical industry.

    Removing one’s sex organs doesn’t change one’s sex. Neither does having artificial ones attached to or carved out of one’s body. Sex is baked in.

    Gender is a collection of notions, customs, performances, and stereotypes related to one’s sex. You cannot surgically change one’s gender. It would be akin to surgically changing one’s political affiliation. You can mimic the sexual traits of the opposite sex, which in turn influences gender.

  7. .human

    At the doctor. Receptionist asked if I’d had contact in the last 10 days with anyone who had COVID. It took all my self-control to not say “COVID’s running unchecked and no one wears masks so probably, yes.”

    — Lauren (@LifeLivedWildly)

    Why the restraint? Silence is complicity.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Probably because they aren’t expecting a sarcastic, but truthful, response, and if you have been exposed in this world that most people believe the Pandemic is over, then you likely cannot receive the medical care that, unfortunately for you, must be provided by this nightmare of a health ‘care’ system in the United States. So it is completely rational to keep your mouth shut and get the medical care that bought you to a place you’d avoid like the plague, if you could, so that you can maybe get what passes for medical care in the United States. Meanwhile, speaking out in this case would likely have had no impact on the current lethal state of affairs, merely forced you to reschedule your medical appointment because somehow you’re the danger.


  8. griffen

    So is the FTC planning on grilling up some “twitter flank steaks” and having Elon, et al, come along for a wine and dine visit? Seems really really odd. FFS.

    Okay, pull the other leg. This is the stupid timeline we keep living in.

  9. Pat

    I would love to know what Carlson thinks about Biden and about how much of a disaster he is and how he compares to Trump. Especially now that Biden and Congress are determined to undermine every minor advance made since Obama. *

    Let’s face it poverty and hunger cannot be allowed to drop under Trump and stay that way. (That these things rising under Biden will be destructive and could actually hand the presidency back to Trump seems to have escaped everyone at the vaunted levels that get to have opinions that politicians care about.) War is big business and must continue. No one can interfere with Globalization. As to disastrous Covid leadership I don’t think Trump can hold a candle to Biden (But since I think Democratic embrace of the lockdown was fueled less by public health than by the knowledge that nothing would kill Biden’s chances faster than letting him out in public, that is only to be expected. They have never given a c&*p about public health and Biden hasn’t given one about public anything in his entire political career.)

    *I agree with most of Lambert’s dispute regarding significant advances under Trump, except I think the CARES act came about more to spite Trump than because of him. Once Trump realized how well it was working was when Congress refused to acknowledge it or continue it the way it should have been.

    1. griffen

      I tend to think that each party has their own set of dedicated, fully enamored cheerleading supporters, and they’re always happy with their “guy or gal”, right or wrong. Which of course, being wrong is not really an admission to speak to or write about. On the Democrats, the few I listen or see on television is typically the Donna Brazile, variety, you know in the game for the past 30 years who always manages to find their footing to espouse their opinion. They will cheer on Biden when he runs again in 2024. Donna recently wrote about the unheralded superlatives of VP Harris.

      Poverty? Hunger, Food Stamps? It’s all the fault of mean Republicans. It is always the other guy’s fault. Any “smart” opposing politician on the national stage will just pound on the issues caused by inflation.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘No one can interfere with Globalization.’

      Globalization as a force is already dead. It died last year when the Russia-NATO war accelerated the fracturing of the world into different power blocks. And it was not what the Russians did but was all those sanctions and restrictions which the western world launched which the Global South refused to sign on for. And now that the US/EU has put China on the sanctions escalator, this will further disrupt and break supply lines across the board. Personally I say good as it was mostly a way of making corporations wealthy while undercutting wages & conditions for workers across the planet.

      1. Pat

        Oh I agree with you, but truth is our proxy war with Russia and the one “we” want with China is all about securing globalization. That is globalization as seen by America’s most important multinational corporations and their political lackeys. (Considering how long it is taking for the Biden brain trust to realize the Ukraine is lost and Russia has defeated their well laid plans do you really expect them to get that they killed American dominated globalization.)

    3. Hepativore

      The Biden strategy is to generally ignore a problem until people, or more specifically cable news media, stop talking about it, or quietly leave the policies of the former administration in place and let them continue out of inertia.

      If Biden does something, it will be in such a half-a$$ed fashion that it is completely ineffectual or it gets obstructed by Republicans, and then it gives Biden an out to say that there is nothing he can do. Whether or not he is really this clueless or specifically sets up these programs like student loan debt relief to fail as he does not actually want to go through with them is a matter of debate.

      In any case, the Biden administration is extremely lazy and seems to build its entire political aspiration in coasting along by pretending the problems are not there in the first place and relies on mouthpieces in the media and elsewhere to run cover to protect the image of both Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party.

      The problem here is that no matter how much people get disgusted or fed up with the current Democratic Party, they can largely count on people to turn up in droves for the incumbent or establishment candidate in election years. This is because PMCs and older voters actually vote in record numbers, and the various “progressive” leftists or left-independents either shake their fist in futility at the electoral structure and do not vote, or cast a vote for the establishment Democrat, naively thinking that public pressure can push him left when presidents really do not care what their subjects actually want or think in the first place.

  10. Pat

    As an aside, I will know there is a god if Williamson can poll better than Warren and Newsome. I will know there is a vengeful god who is tired of the posers if she can bury Pete, Kamala, Biden AND Clinton. Because quite frankly even if she could not handle the job, she has more empathy, integrity and leadership ability than every single one of the aforementioned “leaders”.

  11. antidlc

    And: “Published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the work found that after [germicidal ultraviolet light (GUV)], disinfection, the amount of harmful secondary chemicals in indoor air have an impact, but are not so detrimental as to recommend against the use of GUV. ”

    From May of last year:

    New ultraviolet light technology has been installed at Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport to combat the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria.

  12. Nordberg

    RE: The Comanche empire. Empire of the Summer Moon is a great and interesting book if anyone is looking for something good to read.

  13. Joe Renter

    Wastewater Nevada.
    Lambert, not sure where I should sent this link to, but here it is.
    Seeing more folks at Costco mask up. No personal experience ok knowing Covid related sickness for the last month. Small circle I travel in.


  14. mrsyk

    Having consulted Maryanne Williamson’s Crystal Ball on the NH 2024 GOP primary poll I can safely report that a small town dynasty scion is just that. Same goes for “Tiny D”.

  15. mrsyk

    Thanks for “Emma Willard’s Maps of Time. An excellent anti-dote and highly recommended for anyone needing a break from the din.

  16. Jason Boxman

    So on that Twitter outage, the bigger news, which I missed because I don’t follow Twitter, is:

    The change in question was part of a project to shut down free access to the Twitter API, Platformer can now confirm. On February 1, the company announced it will no longer support free access to its API, which effectively ended the existence of third-party clients and dramatically limited outside researchers’ ability to study the network. The company has been building a new, paid API for developers to work with.

    (bold mine)

    1. The Rev Kev

      Why give your enemies access to the blueprints of your infrastructure? Twitter already has so many technical swords hanging over it that it looks like an upside down throne chair from Game of Thrones.

  17. Karl

    RE: Tesla Maintenance cost “higher than expected”

    Tires the big issue? The author thinks “three sets of tires” for 120K miles is outlandish, then speculates that it’s due to the weight of the batteries. The curb weight of a Tesla 3 is around 4000 lbs, while a Toyota Camry with a full tank is around 3700 lbs. I don’t think so. He seems to need frequent wheel alignments (indicating frequent rough terrain driving?) and drives with a heavy e-Bike in the rear. $5K total maintenance over 3+ years doesn’t seem that outlandish. “Higher than expected” is meaningless. His expectations may have been unreasonable.

    Importantly, the drive train–batteries and motor — were not among the maintenance issues. Plus, Tesla sends the repairman to do house calls. What ICE dealer does that?

    The tone of this article seemed like a lot of whining.

  18. ChrisRUEcon


    Moving from NY to Chicago was an awakening to me, and one for which I am thankful. The exposure to those places outside the immediate #ChicagoLand area have been something of a recalibration for me – the weddings in rural Iowa and Wisconsin, the annual County Fair – the people and conversations are seldom like those who use the word “flyover’ pejoratively would have you expect. I never realized coastal bias – firstly in myself, and secondly as a thing in and of itself – was so strong. To the ranks of the very online, we should add the very “highly televised”. I don’t watch network TV “news” anymore, unless it’s some “election night” or there is some other real time event I feel I can consume without dealing with MSM BS. As the stewards of this family blog have long stated, there isn’t a lot of critical thinking skill to be gained by getting wound-up in #PrimeTime by team-red and team-blue cheerleaders.

    I keep waiting … for Americans to stop hating each other … and to start focusing their ire on the various “barons”, consent manufacturers and elected crooks on both sides of the horrid political duopoly.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      > Readers, what do you see?

      Friend reported (on a certain social *cough* network) that they got COVID for the 1st time after attending … wait for it … a Pharma conference. They had a good run, but lawd, the horrid irony.

      Made a midnight run to Jewel the other night. Everyone was masked … except the cop who came in to get snacks … LOL. So maybe this is a sign that some people are choosing to hit the grocery later at night, and maybe workers who have health concerns volunteer to work those shifts? I’m gonna hit it up late another time soon to see if this is actually a thing and not an outlier.

      This (via YouTube):
      33 year old Physics YouTuber has life threatening #LongCOVID.

      Heartbreaking, to say the least … and infuriating given all the LivingWith™ BS. Can’t wait for “Joey NordStream” to announce #MissionAccomplished in May. UGH.

      Still no known reinfections close to home … but I’m looking at the Walmart data and waste water for IL daily. Trend is downward, but positivity still above 30% so … HOCL nebulizer time!

  19. semper loquitur

    Labor Leader & GOP Lawmaker Have Intense Face-Off at Senate Hearing

    ‘You wanna attack my salary, I’ll attack yours’ — The tense face-off between a labor leader and a ‘tough guy’ GOP senator has to be seen to be believed.

    Sean O’Brien, who heads the Teamsters union, was invited to the Senate HELP committee hearing devoted to ‘defending the right of workers to organize unions free from illegal corporate union-busting.’ According to Salon, Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is a first-term senator who previously made millions as the CEO of a plumbing company that relied on non-union labor.


    Pure theater: co-starring Bernie Sanders

  20. JTMcPhee

    Di Santis crowd is pounding down the public schools (even further and faster than the woke liberals.) Lots of banned books flying out of school libraries, lots of “curriculum rectification.” Meaning public schools are “not the places you want your precious children to be during the weekdays.”

    So in this Sunday’s “Tamp Bay Times,” that ever more repressive rag, we got a lengthy letter to the editor (how many remember those?) where the writer observes that the state government is only demolishing PUBLIC schools, so now is the time to collect your $7,000 voucher and enroll little Alphonse in a PRIVATE school where the teachers and administrators are still free to have the books they want in the library and the curricula they approve.

    I wonder how many Floriduhians are in step with this ersatz thinking?

    1. funemployed

      I second this. Very very good book and worth reading for more than just interest in the particular time and place.

  21. Jason Boxman

    The stupid is bright.

    The move was largely performative. There are 13,000 restaurants participating in the outdoor dining program — many with sheds that do not comply with the rules — which still operates under the auspices of an emergency order. The Adams administration has made returning the city to a pre-Covid vibrancy a central mission, but the prevalence of empty sheds and sidewalk tables — even on bright, mild winter days, when we might theoretically enjoy sitting down in a heavy sweater to a bowl of herby lentil soup — sends a countervailing message of a city that has yet to fully emerge from a ghostly recent past. A few weeks ago, I had breakfast at a curbside table at a cafe on Court Street; my friend and I and one other woman eating alone were the only people outside of a place that was packed indoors. Policy has not caught up to the realization that New Yorkers have stopped pretending that they are Dutch.

    But eating “outside” inside an enclosed room is hilariously no different than simply eating indoors! It’s probably worse depending on the ventilation. This is the stupidest timeline.


  22. Turtle

    The Last of Us was an incredible game. Like, one of the best ever in terms of story, characters, and visuals. From what I understand (I haven’t watched it yet) the TV series reproduces it pretty faithfully. Given that, I’m not surprised that the series is great too.

  23. JB

    So Ireland has had an eviction ban in place since November I believe – and the housing/rental crisis has since reached its worst point ever, arguably because property prices have peaked and landlords want to evict tenants and sell to get the maximum value on the property – and now the Irish government is set to allow the eviction ban to expire at the end of this month.

    Thousands of families (with decent jobs, kids etc.) are about to go homeless with homeless services that are already beyond capacity – in what I estimate is a literal life or death situation for many – and all the government parties are coming out with are narratives about landlords being ‘driven out of the market’ etc. by tenant protections.

    There is a real humanitarian crisis about to hit Ireland after the end of the month, and there is a palpable public uproar about it – but people seem to be in a state of learned helplessness about it, and aren’t doing anything to defend themselves.

    Popular avenues of social media like Reddit etc. already pre-censor concepts of protesting about this – and there is nothing at all that would mount an effective (i.e. economically disruptive) protest in time to get the eviction ban extended.

    Assuming Ireland doesn’t react in time to prevent the harm that’s coming – it should be treated as a warning sign to the rest of the western world, as to what is coming – as the attacks against the population are amply telegraphed in advance by the government, and the population is in an advanced stage of learned helplessness that will not fight back in any way to defend itself.

    I personally find this incredibly disturbing and distressing, even though I pretty much own my own home and don’t have analogous worries. I find myself directly distraught and scared on behalf of all of the people who are about to have their lives ruined.

  24. Kyle

    Would LOVE to see you do a deep dive on school voucher programs and the scam that they are.

    I live in Indiana and every year they issue a report on the voucher program that includes demos, how much money per student, what schools are getting money, etc.

    Would it shock you to learn that 80(ish)% of the money goes to families so they can send their kids to religious schools? Not only that! They claim this is for underprivileged BIPOC children butttt the demos tell a different story – it is mainly used by white families of middle-upper income.

    The only “successful” charter schools in the inner city are run by public institutions (Purdue University has a good one near me) so a state funded college is now syphoning money from high schoolers (gotta pay for those admins somehow!)

    Really think charter schools are such a large red flag that no one wants to touch. There is a massive story lurking.

  25. SD

    As we learned in 2016, West Virginia is not “Republican-leaning.” It’s anti-Democrat Party. These are two very different things.

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