2:00PM Water Cooler 4/18/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Hermit Thrush, Acadia National Park; Southwest Harbor; The Seawall, Maine, United States. “Straight over head. Boats on bay in background. Habitat: Forest, Marine, Coniferous Forest, Bay/Harbor.” I can imagine myself lying on the warm, soft, fallen pine needles and listening to that song all afternoon.

* * *


“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

“4 Years into the COVID-19 Pandemic: Where We Stand” [Bill of Health]:

For reasons known only to themselves, but right before the State of the Union, the CDC, without much warning or explanation, changed its goals. Instead of tracking cases to determine the risk of any individual being infected, they started to track hospital capacity. Essentially, they prioritized the ability to hospitalize patients very sick from COVID over preventing initial infections.

But, by keeping the same map format and continuing to link threat levels to colors on the map, they created a system with no cues to individuals or institutions when a rising number of cases warranted further precautionary measures.

Overnight, this new map, now in soothing pastel yellows and greens, rather than the increasingly darker pigments of red and orange, pulled the rug out under both institutional and individual measures to prevent infection. In terms of deception, it was the equivalent of the national weather service quietly reversing its hurricane rating system so that 5 was the least dangerous and 1 the most.

So I’m not the only one to regard the Green Map as a key inflection point in the Biden Administration’s strategy of mass infection without mitigation. Good!

“Opinion: COVID-19 remains a profound health threat, and we should still act like it is” [Editorial Board, San Diego Union-Tribune]. Pretty mild, buys into Biden’s $5 billion “Operation Warp” — since “Speed” doesn’t seem to part of the concept — and a palty $250 million for Long Covid. Concludes: “Ending the national emergency doesn’t mean everyday emergencies end for millions of Americans, and we shouldn’t pretend that it does.” • So how come emergencies for millions of Americans aren’t national emergencies? What’s wrong with this picture? Commentary:

You guessed it. ***crickets***.


“Then There Were Nine: Comer Alleges A Wider Range of Potential Biden Beneficiaries from Possible Influence Peddling” [Jonathon Turley]. “House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has revealed that there are not three but nine members of the Biden family that may have benefitted from suspected influence peddling efforts…. After assuming control of [House Oversight Committee, Chairman James Comer] sought suspicious activity reports sent by banks to the Treasury Department alerting of potential criminal activity in transactions involving President Biden’s family.” Then there may actually be substance. More: “He stated on Monday that ‘We’ve identified six additional members of Joe Biden’s family who may have benefited from the Biden family’s businesses that we are investigating, bringing the total number of those involved or benefiting to nine; Those are six names are in addition to three Biden family members and two associates previously linked to payment from China in 2017. Three million was wired Biden family associate Rob Walker in March 2017, who then allegedly divided and distributed the funds later. There remains an ‘Unknown Biden’ who received four payments in 2017 totaling $70,000.” Penny ante stuff! And then, of course, there’s Hunter. Dear Hunter! “Hunter worked with his uncle but also branched off on his own in the family business. While his father recently emphasized that his son was a hopeless addict, that defense stands in glaring contradiction to the fact that he maintained a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme. The question is why foreign figures (including some associated with foreign intelligence) rushed to him international money transfers and complex deals worth millions from Moscow to Kyiv to Beijing. However, the Biden most concerned may be the president himself. Joe Biden has repeatedly denied knowledge of Hunter Biden’s business entanglements despite numerous emails and pictures showing him meeting with Hunter associates. That includes at least 19 visits to the White House by Hunter’s partner, Eric Schwerin, alone between 2009 and 2015. Emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop make repeated reference to his father as a possible recipient of funds derived from influence peddling. Indeed, in one email, Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter, was instructed by Biden associate James Gilliar that the Bidens wanted to avoid such references: ‘Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.’ In discussing these deals, Joe Biden is referenced with code names such as ‘Celtic’ or ‘the big guy.’ In one, ‘the big guy’ is discussed as possibly receiving a 10% cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm. There are also references to Hunter paying off the bills of his father from shared accounts. From his board memberships to venture deals to legal fees to his art deals, Hunter Biden is a tour de force of alleged corrupt practices used in Washington.” • Interesting.

“Why Joe Biden Has Slow-Walked His Way to a 2024 Run” [New York Times]. ‘Cause if Biden walks fast, he falls down? Kidding! Buried fourteen paragraphs deep: “Money is at the center of the timing conversation” [Lambert sits down, stunned]. “Delaying will postpone building a war chest for the general election. Those preparing to raise money for the campaign express few doubts that the party’s big donors will pony up to back Mr. Biden, and some officials fear an earlier entry might prove to be a wheel-spinning exercise, demanding that the aging president traverse the grueling fund-raising circuit sooner than necessary. And given that a majority of Democrats consistently say in polls that they prefer someone other than Mr. Biden as the nominee, a reliable infusion of grass-roots dollars is not guaranteed — at least until voters see the stakes of the election. Mr. Biden struggled to raise money online in 2019, breaking records only once he emerged as the nominee. Mr. Biden’s advisers argue that he and the Democrats bucked political history — and similar low ratings — to outperform in the 2022 midterm elections, in part by relentlessly painting Republicans as extremists.”

“Ron DeSantis threatens prison near Disney theme park in latest retaliation” [Guardian]. • I don’t see why the two projects couldn’t be combined…..

“It’s true: Rep. George Santos announces his bid for reelection” [NPR]. “U.S. Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican whose lies about his background and wealth helped propel him into office, announced Monday that he’s running for reelection. More than perhaps any incumbent, Santos enters the race as an underdog — abandoned by many fellow Republicans while facing investigations over a myriad of allegations about falsehoods during his last campaign. During that race, Santos portrayed himself as a graduate of prestigious colleges who had gone on to have a successful career on Wall Street while amassing a real estate investment portfolio. In reality, he didn’t go to college, didn’t work for the Wall Street firms where he claimed to have made big deals and had struggled in recent years to pay his rent. In his campaign announcement, Santos didn’t mention any of that and instead highlighted his zeal in fighting for conservative principals in Washington and his background as ‘a poor boy of immigrant parents in Queens.’ ‘We need a fighter who knows the district and can serve the people fearlessly,’ he said. Santos has previously referred to the fabrications about his background, which included lying about having Jewish ancestry and about having been a star volleyball player, as harmless embellishments. Journalists have also uncovered other issues in his past, including criminal theft charges in Pennsylvania in 2017 and charges from years ago in Brazil, where he was accused of using a fraudulent check to buy apparel.”

Republican Funhouse

“GOP leader McConnell returns to Senate after head injury” [Associated Press]. “McConnell returns to the Senate ahead of a busy stretch in which Congress will have to find a way to raise the debt ceiling and negotiate additional aid for the Ukraine war, among other policy matters. And he comes back as several other senators have been out for medical reasons, raising questions about how much the Senate will be able to achieve in the coming months with a 51-49 split between the parties.” • “Medical reasons,” eh? Totally not Covid, I would assume.

“The one thing Trump and McConnell agree on: A hatred for this group” [Politico]. The Club for Growth. “The Club is positioning itself against the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the three states that are most key to retaking the majority: West Virginia, Montana and Ohio. Privately some top party operatives and McConnell-aligned strategists worry the Club’s recruits, who are typically conservative hardliners, could struggle to win competitive races. The fear is that, at best, the group is creating unnecessarily messy primaries. At worst it is blowing another shot at retaking the majority…. In 2020, Trump carried all three states. In 2024, they represent Republicans’ best opportunity to retake the Senate. All three of the Club’s preferred candidates in these states are members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus with profiles that might not endear them to swing voters in a general election. And there is fear elsewhere in the party that those candidates or a divided primary will only boost the three veteran Democratic incumbents in those races…. [I]nside the NRSC, operatives are desperately trying to lock in candidates with broad appeal. One example: They have been trying to recruit Justice, a coal-mining magnate-turned-West Virginia governor who is increasingly expected to launch a run against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.” • What a great choice. Thanks guys.

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.

* * *

The party of war:


“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).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Maskers need a Green Book:

Scenes from a marriage:

Not all these stories are sad!


“Private NY school continues requiring strict masking, social distancing, report says” [WLOS]. Let me pick out the key nugget of fact: “‘Masking has been extremely effective in protecting our students and staff while they are on campus,” [Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca (EACMSI),’ told The Free Press in a statement. ‘We have seen no on-campus transmission during our nearly three years of in-person school operations since we reopened in fall of 2020.'” So good, right? No kids with brain damage and bad hearts? Let the editorializing begin: “Despite an end to most COVID mandates for schools, teachers and students across the country, one private K-8 school in upstate New York is still reportedly forcing its students to wear masks in class and outside on the playground.” • Forcing, ZOMG!!! You mean forcing like school uniforms? Attendance? It’s a private school, ffs! The whole article is full of this huffy, insulted incredulity.

Scientific Communication

“Covid is still a leading cause of death as the virus recedes” (no paywall) [WaPo]. Astonishing concession; I can’t imagine why WaPo allowed it to be published, “But retreat is not the same thing as eradication: Federal health officials say that covid-19 remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States, tied to about 250 deaths daily, on average, mostly among the old and immunocompromised. Few Americans are treating it as a leading killer, however — in part because they are not hearing about those numbers, don’t trust them or don’t see them as relevant to their own lives. ‘We’re not presenting the data in a way that resonates with the American people,’ said Deborah Birx, who served as the first White House coronavirus coordinator under President Donald Trump, citing research that finds elevated risks of health complications and death in the months after a covid infection.” Odd to see a Trump functionary mentioned favorably More: ‘The decision to tolerate preventable deaths in disproportionately vulnerable groups, in exchange for the convenience of more able-bodied, younger, wealthy, and white individuals, is unethical and demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID,’ the People’s CDC, a coalition of public health experts, wrote in a report last week.” But then of course there’s Ashish Jha: ‘The virus ‘is not disrupting our lives [who’s we?] in a substantial way,’ said Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator, whose team is set to wind down next month. ‘[But] is there still more work to do to prevent serious illness and death? The answer to that is yes.'” Wellie, that depends on what “substantial” means. There are disputes about the accuracy of death certificates under Federalism, but all the proxy data points one way: “[Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for the Tufts Medicine Health System] noted that her colleagues reviewed about 85 recent deaths at Tufts that occurred after a covid diagnosis, and found ‘100 percent accuracy’ in those death certificates that listed covid as a cause. Moreover, ‘there were quite a few patients who our experts felt had died of covid-19, and it didn’t make it onto the death certificate,’ Doron added, saying that many of those overlooked patients had suffered ‘long, slow declines’ after covid infection.” • How odd of Jha to say that death isn’t “substantial.” The sort of thing you’d expect a death cult member to say….


“COVID-19 vaccination and venous thromboembolism risk in older veterans” [Journal of Clinical and Tranlational Science]. Retrospective cohort study. N = 855,686. From the Abstract: “It is important for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine providers, vaccine recipients, and those not yet vaccinated to be well informed about vaccine side effects. We sought to estimate the risk of post-vaccination venous thromboembolism (VTE) to meet this need…. The results provide reassurance that there is only a trivial increased risk of VTE with the current US SARS-CoV-2 vaccines used in veterans older than age 45. This risk is significantly less than VTE risk among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The risk-benefit ratio favors vaccination, given the VTE rate, mortality, and morbidity associated with COVID-19 infection.”

Another anecdote on neurological damage:

To be fair, stress can do that, too. But what could the stressor possibly be?

Another anecdote on gastrointestinal distress from totally not Covid, ever:

Science Is Popping

“Intranasal booster using an Omicron vaccine confers broad mucosal and systemic immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants” [Nature]. Mouse study (sigh). From the Abstract: “Intranasal vaccination using Ad5-S-Omicron or instillation of intranasal vaccinee’s nasal lavage fluids in mouse nostrils protected mice against Omicron challenge. Taken together, intranasal Ad5-S-Omicron booster on the basis of ancestral vaccines can establish effective mucosal and systemic immunity against Omicron subvariants and multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. This candidate vaccine warrants further development as a safe, effective, and user-friendly infection and transmission-blocking vaccine.” • Sure, but why we doing mouse studies when Bharat iNCOVACC is already on the market? Why aren’t we running studies to rule it out — or in?


“COVID-19 lockdown revisionism” [Canadian Medical Association]. From the Abstract: “The term ‘lockdown’ has become a powerful and perverted word in the infodemic about democracies’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown, as used in public discourse, has expanded to include any public health measure, even if it places little to no restriction on social mobility or interaction. For example, a working literature review and meta-analysis on the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality misleadingly defined lockdowns as ‘the imposition of at least 1 compulsory non-pharmaceutical intervention.’ This working paper therefore conflated mandatory isolation for people with confirmed infections and masking policies with heavy-handed limitations on freedom of movement, and since it gained viral fame, it has helped fuel calls for ‘no more lockdowns.’ This working paper has been highly critiqued and is less convincing than comparative assessments of health measures, like the Oxford Stringency Index.” • Worth a read, especially considering the source,

Elite Malfeasance

“Universal Masking in Health Care Settings: A Pandemic Strategy Whose Time Has Come and Gone, For NowFREE” [Annals of Internal Medicine]. Shameful, lethal dreck that should never have been published, not even under the rubric “Ideas and Opinions.” Note that author Babock is a member of the CDC Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. From the text:

Allow me to translate: [1] “Don’t make us repeat ourselves, ever”; [2] “I want to see your smile.” More:

[1] No recognition of aerosol transmission; [2] no recognition of asymptomatic transmission; [3] abolish such testing as we still do. (And what universe do these people live in? The United States has never taken contact tracing seriously.) To me, this paper shows that hospitals never took masking or aerosol transmission seriously. They waited for Biden to declare that the pandemic is over, and then went back to business — and I mean business — as usual.

“Hospital mask mandates will soon be lifted, says Health P.E.I.” [CBC]. “Masks have helped protect people from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, [Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Michael Gardam] said, but they have their drawbacks, too. ‘It’s hard on your nose[1]. It’s hard on your ears[2]. It’s isolating[3]. Patients can’t hear you as well[4]. It really does interfere with some of the work that we do[5]. And frankly, our health-care workers, the vast majority of them, are sick and tired of wearing masks[6].”” • As above. Impervious. [1] Try fit tests, you lazy, murderous buffoon. [2] That’s because you’re ignorant and use surgical masks with ear loops, instead of KN95s with headbands. [3] Why? Because you can’t see our smiles? [4] Speak up. Don’t mumble. Straighten up. Don’t be lazy, [5] Hand-waving. [6] You’re an administrator, not a union rep. You’re not entitled to speak for the workers. Watching a hospital — not all, see “Look for the Helpers” — turning itself into a torment nexus… irritates me.

Don’t go to the hospital if you feel sick:

I wouldn’t dream of it!

Public health brain geniuses organize another superspreading event:

I had no idea that “inclusion” was meant to apply to the SARS-CoV2 virus, but it seems to be so!

An increasing number of really ticked off tweets (1):

An increasing number of really ticked off tweets (2):

* * *

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!

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “something awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau (with, of course, deeper knowledge of the sequelae “we” have already decided to accept or, rather, to profit from). That will be the operational definition of “living with Covid.” More as I think on this. In addition, I recurated my Twitter feed for my new account, and it may be I’m creating a echo chamber. That said, it seems to me that the knobs on Covid had gone up to 13, partly because science is popping, which demands more gaslighting, and partly because that “Covid is over” bubble maintenance is, I believe, more pundit-intensive than our betters believed it would be.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from April 13:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 8:

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.


I’m afraid the Walgreen’s positivity tracker has shut down, since it hasn’t updated since April 11, and all without any announcement. It’s as if we’re heading into a storm, and the first thing the captain did was order the sextant, compass, log line, sandglass, and ship’s clock thrown overboard. Then they detached the wheel from the rudder. “We have the tools.” No, we don’t. We have also decided not to know what the job is, even.


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,158,255 – 1,158,017 = 238 (238 * 365 = 202,575 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).

Lambert here: WHO turned off the feed? Odd that Walgreen’s positivity shut down on April 11, and the WHO death count on April 12. Was there a memo I didn’t get?

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published April 2:

Lambert here: Big jump from the last reading in the “Central Estimate.”

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. 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

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US went down 0.8% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.42 million in March of 2023, following a downwardly revised 7.3% surge in February, but slightly beating market forecasts of 1.4 million.”

* * *

Tech: “Musk mocks Twitter’s past ownership, says platform was run like a ‘glorified activist organization'” [New York Post]. “In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Musk joked that running Twitter after letting go of 80% of its staff in the days after his October 2022 takeover wasn’t such a tall task because he wasn’t concerned about censoring users. ‘Turns out, you don’t need all that many people to run Twitter,’ the billionaire business tycoon told Carlson after confirming that 80% of the company’s employees were fired or left voluntarily after his $44 billion purchase of the social media platform. An incredulous Carlson noted that 80% ‘is a lot’ of people to have leave, to which Musk responded: ‘I mean, if you’re not trying to run some sort of glorified activist organization, and you don’t care that much about censorship, then you can really let go of a lot of people it turns out.’ ‘I think we just had a situation at Twitter where it was absurdly overstaffed,’ Musk argued, comparing Twitter to a ‘group text service at scale.’ ‘Like how many people are really needed for that?’ he added.” • And then…. The Tech Overlords all copied Musk, who took one for the team, and started firing people. But to be fair to Musk, Twitter couldn’t deliver an edit button for years.

Tech: “Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai says that A.I. could be ‘more profound’ than both fire and electricity—but he’s been saying the same thing for years” [Fortune]. • Well, not to dunk on this absurd statement, but something completely dependent on electricity can’t be “more profound.” AI is just another appliance, and not a very good one.

Transportation: “Southwest Airlines briefly pauses departures after reporting technical problems” [CNBC]. “Southwest Airlines briefly paused its departures on Tuesday after reporting technical problems, delaying flights around the country. The Federal Aviation Administration said the ground stop had been lifted, but many flights were still delayed. As of shortly after 11 a.m. ET, more than 1,500 flights, or 36% of Southwest’s schedule, were delayed, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. ‘Early this morning, a vendor-supplied firewall went down and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost,’ Southwest said in a statement. ‘Southwest Teams worked quickly to minimize flight disruptions.'” • Not quickly enough, apparently,

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 18 at 1:57 PM ET

Rapture Index: Closes down two on #42 Plagues (“The coronavirus pandemic has been declared over” and #44 Food Supply “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Lambert here: I’m surprised to find myself in a more apocalyptic frame of mind than the Rapture Index, but here we are. On Plagues, I think “has been declared” (note lack of agency) is doing rather a lot of work; cf. Ezekiel 22:27.

The Gallerywww

Catch Monet painting a cute dog:

Zeitgeist Watch

“‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Sold 256% More Than Estimates At Launch” [Forbes]. • Oh.

Our Famously Free Press

The Beltway press are spooks. Don’t talk to them:

Or read them.

Class Warfare

“Striking Medieval Times workers struck by car on picket line” [Los Angeles Times]. “For more than two months, newly unionized workers at the Medieval Times in Buena Park have been on strike, picketing at the popular themed dinner theater. Last week, customers, apparently frustrated with protesting workers blocking the parking lot entrance, lashed out. On Thursday, several picketers were struck by a patron in a moving vehicle or were shoved by a second patron who got out of the passenger seat of the car, according to worker interviews and video footage of the altercation posted to social media. Videos show a car attempting to access the Medieval Times parking lot unsuccessfully, a man in the passenger seat exiting the vehicle and swinging at picketers, and the driver, still behind the wheel, driving the vehicle through the line of protesters.” • So, violence against workers over attending a dinner theatre? Really? (Assuming the “patrons” weren’t hired goons, of course. Odd that the Times never sought to interview them.)

“Accounting for flood risk would lower American house prices by $187bn” [Economist]. “Congress set up the National Flood Insurance Programme (NFIP). Homeowners in ‘100-year floodplains’, where regulators reckon the chance of flooding each year is at least 1%, can get government-backed mortgages only if they are insured. But on average, the amount of money that the NFIP collects in premiums each year is less than the amount it has to pay out, so it has to borrow, thus passing the bill on to the government: in 2017 Congress forgave $16bn of the NFIP’s debt. Moreover, the NFIP’s payouts are less than the total amount of damage caused by floods. The shortfall is paid by uninsured homeowners, and by those whose damages exceed the NFIP’s maximum claim size. In 21 of the 50 states, sellers of homes do not have to disclose past damages or future risks from floods, leaving buyers with no idea of the threat they face. Moreover, even if buyers are informed, they often fail to discount their offers sufficiently. The combination of subsidised insurance and myopic buyer behaviour means that houses in flood-prone areas are overpriced. One study in 2021 estimated this overvaluation at $33bn-56bn. But a new paper in Nature Climate Change, whose lead author is Jesse Gourevitch of the Environmental Defence Fund, an advocacy group, puts it at $121bn-237bn, with a central estimate of $187bn.” • Commentary:

News of the Wired

“In an eerie tech moment, SF’s Misalignment Museum is a warning from the future” [SFGate]. “In San Francisco, seemingly overnight [due to an enormous propaganda campaign stimulated by stupid money], artificial intelligence became the monomaniacal focus of tech giants and fodder for yet another venture capital binge. The rest of us have been left to catch up on what we’ve been instructed is the future. … Audrey Kim, the museum’s founder and curator, is taking us on a tour of the gallery. As we stop in front of a metaphorical display featuring the iconic canned meat, Kim explains the piece, which is called ‘Spambots.’ Several tins of pork prod, with tiny robot arms, at a set of keys. They’re linked up to a monitor, and every keystroke contributes to an ever-growing AI-generated novel about porcine caste systems. The piece’s creation predates ChatGPT’s viral release last November but is built on the same technology. … The museum thrives on these layers, depicting timely AI technology as strange, threatening or beautiful — sometimes all at once. Kim has been planning the museum since September 2022, but the space only opened in the Mission earlier this month. It’s a high-minded vision; Kim’s museum imagines a bewildering future in which an artificial intelligence is apologizing to what remains of humankind after an apocalypse the technology induced.” • I think the sort of world’s Philip K. Dick creates have the right tone for AI: pervasive grey-colored mediocrity.

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From AM:

AM writes: “Daffodils on Ladd Braes public footpath in St Andrews, Scotland in March, 2023.”

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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. jo6pac

    This is nasty pop up I’m getting only here.

    We value your privacy
    We and our partners store and/or access information on a device
    We and our partners process personal data such as IP address, unique ID, browsing data for:
    Select basic ads
    Create a personalised ads profile
    Select personalised ads
    Create a personalised content profile
    Select personalised content
    Measure ad performance
    Measure content performance
    Apply market research to generate audience insights
    Develop and improve products
    Ensure security, prevent fraud, and debug
    Technically deliver ads or content
    Some partners do not ask for your consent to process your data, and instead rely on their legitimate interest. View our list of partners to see the purposes they believe they have legitimate interest for and how you can object to it.

    Your choices on this site will be applied for this site. You can change your settings at any time, including by withdrawing your consent, by clicking the lock icon in the bottom right or left hand corner.

    I can’t kill it for some reason

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m using Firefox on both computers. Not seeing this. Could it be exploiting a weakness in Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge?

      1. Sub-Boreal

        This just appeared this morning, and I’m using Firefox.

        It appears every time that I refresh the screen, or when I jump from one posting to another within NC. It isn’t appearing on any other site that I’ve used today.

        Some(body)(thing) is trying to suppress NC by annoying readers?

          1. ambrit

            Probably. When I looked the “mothership” site up on some web ratings sites, the said site was described as specializing as developing counter “a- bl—-r” strategies so as to “maximize ad revenue.”
            I dropped a comment about this in the thread for yesterday’s Water Cooler. I encountered this activity there first.
            Having burned my fingers here over just this subject in the past, I shall stay schtum from hereon in. Until I see my lawyer, I’m ain’t talking.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I can’t kill it for some reason

      If anybody wants to send me a screen shot, that would be helpful (see address at Plant). It’s probably our ad agency, but a screen shot will be helpful both in proving to them there’s something going on, and in debugging.


      1. JustAnotherVolunteer

        Done. As a data point – this happens with safari on my iPad but not with Brave or Firefox.

        The pop-up says “powered by Admiral” and offers detailed consent flow information. Rejecting all results in the looping reload.

        1. lambert strether

          I just got it, just as you say: Safari on the iPad. I just tried it on Edge; the same.

          I also had pop-ups blocked on both browsers.


          1. Revenant

            Are you seriously telling me the NC team have never seen this screen?

            I have been challenged by the Admiral cookie selection screen for years (at least 2021). Always from my laptop when it happens, never on mobile. Usually running Edge, sometimes Chrome. Windows 7 and Windows 10.

            It doesn’t happen every time. Sometimes days or weeks go by without it having amnesia about my cookie choices. Then it will forget and appear in a run for more days and then disappear again.

            To be fair to Admiral, it seems to remember my previous settings and it has a not-bad menu (but I don’t think it has a “reject all” button high enough up the click-press tree) but each time I have to check it to make sure it hasn’t gone over the Dark Side.

            UK (ex-EU!) denizen

            PS: It heard me! It does have a reject all button so it decided to appear after first posting this comment to remind me. I don’t remember it appearing with every link / comment post like today.

            I will send you a screenshot, Lambert.

          2. ChrisPacific

            It’s a modal, not a popup – it locks the underlying page until you’ve interacted.

              1. Acacia

                Popup spawns a new window, and browsers have an option to selectively block that (at least Safari does). Modal is an HTML element that gets foregrounded by some JavaScript within the same window, to usurp control and act as a gatekeeper dialog.

                My guess is that it’s coming from the script tag in the head of the NC page that loads the buggy JS from https://haltinggold.com — that’s the “Consent Manager”. Nuke that line of HTML and the problem will likely go away. That would be my Rx until they fix their borked service.

              2. ChrisPacific

                Well, if I have the definition right, ‘popup’ is something that opens in a separate window or tab with no connection to the original. You can ignore it and continue navigating the original site, close it, close the original site and leave it open, or whatever. They are independent. Popups are notoriously used by advertisers to take you to their site without your permission, and have a generally bad name as a consequence, although there are times when they make sense in response to a user action (the Links/Water Cooler items appearing in a new tab would be a possible example).

                A modal, by contrast, implements a process step that requires user input before you are permitted to continue (in this case, acceptance or rejection of cookies). Although it can resemble a popup (it’s often a rectangular region in the middle of the screen) it takes place in the same browser window. It’s part of the original site, and it prevents you from interacting further with the site until you respond, at which point it disappears. Very often it appears as a layer over the top, with the site still visible underneath but greyed out or otherwise visually shown to be temporarily locked until you provide whatever input is needed.

                In the early days of the Web, modals used to be little Windows style grey boxes with buttons on them that you had to click, but those are rare now, and the inline style is the usual approach.

          3. Lunker Walleye

            Using Safari on Mac book. It pops up every time I come to the site and every “Recent” I click on. Been “Rejecting All”. I’m going to check phone, etc.

      2. Tinky

        This has been a thing for a long time here on NC. Presumably it targets EU users, and there are similar intrusions on virtually all sites.

        I use Safari, but the browser should be irrelevant.

        1. some guy

          It just showed up yesterday here in the US and only on Naked Capitalism. Now it shows up every single view and I have to click something to make it go away. ” Allow all” seems to make it go away fastest.

          1. some guy

            Well, it looks like ” Reject all” makes it go away just as fast. And then it comes right back every single time. But “reject all” means no ads appear, which is bad for NaCap, but if it is also bad for the evildoers behind this particular pop-up, maybe if enough people click ” reject all” enough times, the evildoers behind this pop-up will change something-or-other.

      3. ChrisPacific

        Same issue for me (Chrome). My Chrome did update since the last time I used the site, which may or may not be a factor.

        It looks legit to me, just a version of the cookie disclaimer for GDPR you see on a lot of sites, but it misbehaves (comes back again on every page load, won’t dismiss at all if you click the detail links etc.)

    3. johnherbiehancock

      I’m getting it too. Appears to be a cookie manager from some company called “Admiral”?

      I figured if it was legit, NC would post a notice.

      I keep clicking “REJECT ALL” until it goes away.

      1. jsn

        Same here, it goes away when you click on it, but it comes back every time I open NC, which is more often than I’d like to admit having bugged my wife about Instagram…

    4. FreeMarketApologist

      I’m seeing it on Edge as well. If you select ‘reject all’, it will also block all the inline ads, and the ones on the right-hand column, so there’s that!

      1. some guy

        But if the ads help pay for the blog, do we really want to block them? I would rather just go back to the status quo ante yesterday when this pop up did not exist.

    5. some guy

      I’m getting it every single time. I am using whatever computer systems my employer decrees that we use.

      I have learned to click ” accept everything” to make it go away for the rest of that one particular reading encounter. Till it is removed or killed somehow, I am resigned to clicking “accept everything” every time it appears. It only takes a couple of seconds to do and I am resigned to it being a permanent tolerated annoyance, unless it is somehow killed or removed.

      1. ambrit

        It seems that clicking on either “Reject All” or “Accept All” drops you into the same loop.
        Does this affect just those of us who are crass enough to use the dreaded “A- Bl—-r”? Or does it affect everyone, regardless of “bl—-r” adjacency?
        Experiment is in order.
        I also now get the pop up every time I submit a comment. This is going to become a habit. Like clicking the top right corner of the perpetual “S—-fr–t” pop up money begging notice.

        1. marym

          I’m not using an ad blocker. I do have pop-ups set to Block and Notify on Safari for a few websites I use regularly including NC, though it’s not stopping this pop-up. (The other Safari options are Block and Allow).

        2. Acacia

          I’m using “A- Bl—-r” and have been for years, but never saw this particular modal before yesterday.

        3. some guy

          I use my workplace computers when I am on break or lunch. So I don’t have “anything” or set “anything” on these machines because we employees are firmly forbidden from doing anything like that.

          So I am experiencing this as a helpless end-user.

      1. Acacia

        P.S. Looks like the modal content is being served from haltinggold.com.

        Hitting “Reject All” repeatedly has no effect.

        Whoever is adding this to NC has a borked app.

          1. Acacia

            As mentioned, the script is coming from https://haltinggold.com/ plus a long gobbledegook UUID. That script builds the modal.

            “This domain is used by digital publishers to control access to copyrighted content in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and understand how visitors are accessing their copyrighted content.”

              1. Acacia

                That’s good to know about, but I’m reticent to pay $4.99 for an extension that’s not working for you.

                Also, from the product description for StopTheScript and HTML I’m eyeballing on NC’s page, I’m not sure it’s necessary. The key feature of StopTheScript is that it will block both external and inline JS. The modal that’s bugging all of us seems to be external JS from haltinggold — not inline JS —, so a regular content blocker should do the job (tho I’m not sure which one to try).

                There are many pages on the interwebs explaining how to use macOS “Screen Time” to block a web site, but it doesn’t seem to be what we want, as we’re visiting NC, not haltinggold. That feature is for blocking direct access to a site, while what’s happening here is that the problem JS payload is being loaded behind the scenes from a CDN.

                I’m guessing this is part of an analytics package used by NC or one of the services you’ve retained. If it’s yanked from the NC web template the problem will go away, but you might lose some of the analytics too. The vendor should fix it, unless their aim is to lose customers. ;)

                There is also the old trick of editing /etc/hosts to block the domain haltinggold.com (I did that to block all facebook domains long ago ;), though that’s not going to be possible on iOS.

          2. Laura


            What’s this domain?

            This domain is used by digital publishers to control access to copyrighted content in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and understand how visitors are accessing their copyrighted content.
            Requests to this domain

            This domain accepts GET and POST requests over industry-standard HTTP ports (TCP 80, TCP 443, UDP 443) via traffic originating from consumer web browsers.

            The requests contain metrics that help a site owner in understanding and authorizing access to their site and copyrighted content.

            Headers are returned to prevent caching and discourage proxies and intermediaries from caching or storing content.

            This domain utilizes HTTP/2, HTTP/3, and keep-alive connections to multiplex multiple requests over a single connections in order to prevent having to open multiple connections.

            Requests to this domain use TLS 1.2 or higher whenever possible and certificates are rotated frequently.

            Content served by this domain consists of Javascript, HTML, CSS, video and images. No executable files are available and all content is routinely scanned for malware and malicious software.

            Hostname: fen-hoothoot-us-east1-wh2p
            Datacenter: gce-us-east1

    6. Pat

      Late response, but not getting it on Brave on iPad, this morning and this evening. Throughout rest of day did encounter it. Opera on windows laptop and Vivaldi on android phone were not as effective as Brave was, it appeared on both.

    1. Jason Boxman

      That’s dangerous, last time I was anywhere near there, the White House grounds guards were carrying SMGs around. America, heck yeah!

    2. ambrit

      Follow up news! “Toddler found on White House lawn gifted to Bilderburg Group Bar-B-Que Picnic organizers. “Tastes just like chicken!” Billionaires exalt.

  2. LY

    CDC officially tracking XBB.1.16. It’s already projected to be the second most common variant and overtake XBB.1.9.x. Unlike XBB.1.5, it’s not starting in the Northeast US and spreading to the rest of the country.

    1. chris

      I don’t know about COVID, but me and mine have been laid low by the sniffles + chronic coughing. Kids brought something home from school and then we were hit hard. Rapid tests and PCR say it’s not SARS2 of any variety. And doctors have said that they’re not concerned about a chronic cough until you’ve had it for more than 8 weeks. So we wait and try to rest and get better. And we are getting better. It’s a painfully slow process.

    1. britzklieg

      I too have problems with RFK jr and second your disgust w/ Biden, but RFK jr has a major issue with his speaking voice. Even if he were offering a completely supportable platform, he’s facing a hard job at selling his candidacy with the disturbingly shaky elocution of it when he speaks, imho. Simply put – he sounds terrible.

      1. New York Ear

        > RFK jr … sounds terrible.

        Surely no worse than Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton for that matter.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I’d love to see him overcome the DNC establishment in the same way that Trump did with the Republican Party.

      1. orlbucfan

        I’m steering clear of RFK, Jr. Why? Steve the Black Plague Bannon. Anybody that vermin speaks approvingly of, I AVOID! Plus, he has no experience or business running for POTUS. He’s no Progressive. BTW, I did not vote for Byedone nor tRump! Lambert, glad you’re back. You get my donation yet?

        1. flora

          Maybe this is why the left has no power in the US anymore: refusal to make common cause with someone’s good ideas on point A if unliked persons also likes point A. I mean, it’s more important not to be associated in any way with unliked persons, even if it means point A never passes. Purity of Essence, and all that. “If so-and-so likes something then I certainly don’t!” makes sure nothing changes. My 2 cents. / ;)

          1. Arizona Slim

            Darn! I looked all over the place and couldn’t find those two pennies that I misplaced.

            And, flora, go ahead an keep ’em. Your comment was right on target.

        2. some guy

          What if Steve Bannon knows that his approval of someone is the Kiss of Death to any liberal who hears about his approval? What if he exactly anticipated your reaction here and Kiss-of-Deathed RFKjr. specifically to get everyone who rejects whatever Bannon accepts to reject Kennedy?

          1. orlbucfan

            RFK, Jr. is trading on his family political legacy. When has he ever held public office? He hasn’t. I’m tired of it. And speaking of $.02, a lot of people like him for one issue: his stance on Covid vaccination. Since when did Bannon meet with approval on here? Define ‘liberal’ while you’re at it. Thanks.

            1. flora

              No one here has said they approve of Steve Bannon or that they like Steve Bannon. That’s a strawman. Or you missed the point.

              1. orlbucfan

                No, it’s not a strawman. Reread my comments. I have several degrees in American English communications, plus I’m a lifelong political Futurist. Back up your argument.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Maybe he should have waited until Marianne broke 40% in New Hampshire and knocked Biden out of the race. This speech is one of my most vivid memories during a very memorable year.

      I loved Bobby and was a fervent supporter of his run for the Presidency. It broke my heart when he was killed. But his standing on the sidelines in ’68, letting McCarthy take on LBJ, and then jumping in once Johnson was out, was the kind of move that won him early on a reputation for ruthlessness.

      I was just making a joke. None of that is on RFK, Jr., who has seemed to suffer a great deal from the family tragedies.

  3. rookieEMT

    I’m in the back of the ambulance during clinicals with a paramedic and lady who had chest pain. I don’t know what provoked the start of this conversation but perhaps the medic was asking her what was causing anxiety. She mentions, ‘Well Ukraine’. I was busy with other things, but she says that ‘we are doing the best that we can, but can do more.’

    It eventually ends with, ‘Well maybe we could go nuclear’ or something to that effect. This soft spoken very nice lady just gave me a big ol’ wtf moment of the day.

    Unrelated but sadly, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m too anxious to be an EMT and should go see someone about it. I hate anxiety.

    1. Louis Fyne

      It is my experience that people who are circumspect enough to think about if they have anxiety do not have DSM, clinical anxiety—-rather that are just normal human beings facing typical life challenges that pre-atomized/dispersed US society (pre-internet, pre-advertisement of psych meds) would be resolved by a 15 minute phone call with mom-dad or a beer on the porch with grandpa.

      When someone is talking to their EMT about ukraine on the way to a cardiologist, there is more going on beneath the surface with that person’s social/family/personal/financial network than NPR’s latest take on kyiv.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        or she could be like my mom, sitting in front of msdnc from around noon till…more on bad weather days.
        if that’s your lens, it might look that way to you.

        (btw, its the same w folks who watch a lot of law and order(incl all its variations(SVU) and for 30 years)…world looks dark and dangerous…)

        with mom, add Daily Kos(she feels sophisticated,lol)…for even more fun times.

        1. jsn

          I guess I’m lucky my mom’s hooked on Tucker, at least he makes her laugh and she occasionally comes to me with Greenwald or Taibbi topics.

      2. jsn

        “When someone is talking to their EMT about ukraine on the way to a cardiologist, there is more going on beneath the surface”, like, it’s easier to go out as atomic dust than face the Medical Industrial Complex?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          probably.(i need merely make no effort, however futile, to stop it)

          no.(given a modicum of circumspection, etc)

          and nukes are talked about rather blithely, these days, in such places.
          “…its just a tool”, after all.

          stupidest timeline.

          1. jsn

            I’m with you on that!

            My comments were more along the lines of “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism.”

            I’m all for continuing the struggle to end Capitalism, but in the back of the ambulance talking to the EMT I can clearly see the logic of just thinking “poof”. Stupidest timeline indeed: this is what we’ve let be made of us…

    2. JBird4049

      >>>‘Well maybe we could go nuclear’

      What? One of the reasons General Curtis LeMay was sidelined was because of his insistence on a nuclear war or at least that The Bomb was a practical weapon, which should be used.

      The mere insinuation that nuclear weapons should be used at all and for an extreme kleptocracy like Ukraine or with China over Taiwan is not crazy, it is insane, but I keep hearing those insinuations and suggestions. The first half of my life was living with the reality that at any moment, I and everyone I loved, and everything I knew, could become radioactive ashes perhaps because of a mistake.

      Thirty years ago, I thought we were done, not with chance of nuclear war, but at least from nuclear extermination.

      Damn our narcissistic, wealthy, power-mad elites, and the incompetent, foolish, and ambition-mad sycophants who enable them. And to perdition as well with so much of our Professional Managerial Class with their deliberately cultivated ignorance about everything. Even with the growing censorship, between what is online and in the libraries, one has to work hard to be this ignorant.

      1. Old Sarum

        Re. MAD

        It never went away but the mass media stopped (or were ordered to stop) talking about it. Why invest if it is about blown to smithereens anytime? Why anything? Not good for business!


        ps Wake up every day and kiss your Rs goodbye as I have done since learning of MAD.

        1. digi_owl

          The focus shifted because USSR was gone (watch spy thrillers shift to chasing down ex-soviet generals selling fissionable material on the black market) and China, thanks to Nixon, were “friendly”.

  4. notabanker

    Imagine if Trump had SAR’s against 9 family members for receiving payments from foreign entities.

    1. Luckless Pedestrian

      The settlement will be confidential, but I tend t think it wasn’t Dominion that blinked.
      Did Dominion seek relief other than money damages?

      1. some guy

        I heard on news that Dominion had been seeking a “full throated apology”. I suspect Murdoch said that Dominion could either have the money or the apology, but not both.

        There will be no apology. There may be a sort of Nixonian non-apology apology which “regrets nothing”.

      1. some guy

        And no apology either, probably. So Murdoch and his FoxCo will get to spin it as a “just go away” settlement to get the lawyers out of Murdoch’s hair. Fox will then probably raise the propaganda level against the Plaintiff’s Bar and brag about how it defeated this latest Liberal Conspirasuit against Free Speech.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Head for the Mountains of Busch–

    Check out an 80s ad for Busch, one of Annheiser Busch’s lineup along with Bud and Michelob. Different times. Or maybe it was Brokeback Mountain.

    Anyway, the now widely known fact that A-B’s CEO is former CIA is interesting. It’s always been said “once CIA, always CIA,” so one has to wonder at so many CIA people leaving the Langley nest to go into politics, media and business. Does the CIA “counsel” its employees to take employment elsewhere well before retirement age? While it’s pretty obvious why the CIA might want Spanberger on the House Foreign Affairs committee, what about a beer company CEO like Mr. Whitworth? Well, who spends more on culture shaping ads than a beer company?

    Considering how the American State Department, the CIA and their supporting cast alphabet agencies managed to screw up the culture of Ukraine, especially over the last 10 years, in every area from religion to language to history, is there any reason to think that this dispersion of CIA alums into positions with leverage over key political and cultural assets is happenstance?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      see: various US Army field manuals regarding counterinsurgency.
      el salvador, jakarta, etc etc etc(ad nauseum) were practice.
      expect spooks to pop up everywhere…including at the local Chamber of Commerce, Lions club, etc
      let alone the sheriff’s office.
      Gladio comes home, at last.

      hell, 24 years ago, the guy that helped me build the giant greenhouse had done under the table work for them in Mexico in the 70’s.(so he said, and there were enough tidbits that dad(DIA,65-69) or a search of the google machine could corroborate..w dad, especially jargon, it turns out)

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        They’ve done it to everybody else, beginning in Europe. Now it’s our turn.

        What a time to be in the DIA. I’ll bet he had some stories.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          needed a crowbar to get anything out of him about all that.
          image analysis..”that’s rice…thats opium…”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      trial balloon/noodle on wall.
      worse than cheney/bush efforts.
      and, as you say, we may as well talk extensively about this,lol.
      use it or lose it, and all.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and geeze!
      from the SFG things:
      “The Misalignment Museum flips this dynamic. It treats us as people interacting with technology, rather than merely a consumer base — a society, not an economy. And though there isn’t much even an engaged person can do to affect the AI ambitions of Microsoft, Google or Meta, it feels good to learn and think and interact with the technology in a company-free zone, especially when OpenAI is headquartered eight blocks away. In these exhibits, people are empowered to do what AI can’t do and what the companies don’t expect: arrive at an independent, creative conclusion. In guiding technological progress, it’s a start.”

      a start…for the Resistance?
      against an obviously assumed fait accompli?
      should we start digging tunnels towards the Core of the planet, now?
      “where its still warm…”
      the fundamental assumption in all such talk is lack of agency…its inevitable that these billionaire lords of the manor will create these things, and then turn them upon us…with networked slaughterbots, of course.
      and a few weeks ago, that story about a bunch of interviewed AI people who thought that it was their responsibility to birth such demons…even if the threat was horrific.
      like a messianic cultist, feeding children into a fire.
      we must….

  6. notabanker

    overpricing is greatest in posh bits of coastline, such as Los Angeles and parts of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. But as a share of home values, the risk is greatest in rural, inland regions with white, working-class populations
    If anyone understand what this actually means, I am all ears.

    I can tell ya, when it comes to paying for it all, I know which category is going to bare the burden. Hint, it ain’t the ‘posh bits’.

  7. TimH

    Sorry, whining about stats (and ledes) again.

    Lede: “‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Sold 256% More Than Estimates At Launch”

    Actual quote: “Hogwarts Legacy achieved 256% to plan sell-thru at launch”

    So, 156% more then…

  8. Senator-Elect

    Regarding Bourdieu, good luck to you, Mr. Strether! I have it on fairly good authority that a lot of the texts by these French sociologists have been badly translated, to the detriment of millions of students in the English world. So perhaps the solution is to read them in the original French?

    Regarding SARS2, I realized today that it is a different kind of problem from some others we deal with, but similarly intractable. Something like global warming is, broadly speaking, not a problem on the individual level, but it is a major problem for the collective. SARS2 is the opposite: it’s not a problem for the herd, but it can be deadly to a particular individual. In both cases, there is no motive for action for the vast majority of people. Even grandma’s death can be waved away as it being her time.

    However, I must admit I’ve been surprised by the psychopathy of the medical profession. The data on nosocomial infections are clear, yet hospital decision makers seem clearly uninterested in improving them. It makes you wonder what CFR would be necessary in what age group to justify masking or isolation. Oh well, I’m sure more disingenuous diversity and inclusion rhetoric is the answer!

    1. lambert strether

      > .So perhaps the solution is to read them in the original French

      For someone with a 48-hour day, perhaps. Fortunately Bourdieu is not a terminology-haver but an ideas-haver. He says somewhere in Capital that he will use several terms for the same idea.

  9. kareninca

    I am trying to work out a time frame. When the vaccines were first being produced, there was an article in the Jerusalem post in which a prominent infectious disease specialist stated that she wasn’t sure that the vaccines would actually work, and that she thought there was a small chance that they would cause ADE. She thought that ADE would show up, if it were going to, within two years. So I took two years as a rule of thumb for whether I should take the vaccine, all else being equal. It turns out that there is no way from the data that I have access to to tell whether there is anything like ADE, but I didn’t get vaccinated, and I’m glad I didn’t (not medical advice), and I haven’t caught covid (per weekly testing, still ongoing). Having a set time frame for waiting was helpful; it got me through periods when I felt under external pressure to take the vaccine.

    Now I feel like I need a time frame for “Something Awful”, and at what point I should think that the people around me, most of whom are ignoring any precautions, were right overall. Really, most people I know seem pretty much okay. Well, that’s not actually true, but most of the many ailments I see could be attributed to other things (although there is the matter of the excess mortality rate). The problem is that with AIDS (for instance), the time frame can be decades, from an initial mild cold, to sudden horrible apparent immune dysfunction that has been building all along. And each wave of covid is different. Covid’s time frame may not match human psychological time frames at all. I can’t really face setting twenty years as my time frame; I probably won’t even live that long naturally. Maybe two years from the date of the official end of the covid emergency? And then take stock? And in the meantime, I’ll keep reading Daniel Brittain Dugger’s tweets.

    1. Medbh

      I really appreciate your framing. One of my guiding principles during covid has been “what if I’m wrong?” and “how will I know?” I didn’t realize how few people think this way, even the supposed experts.

      What’s I’m seeing as a mom with 4 kids is that everyone is constantly sick with relatively mild illnesses like colds, stomach bugs, fevers, RSV, etc. They’re sick for weeks, and it’s one illness immediately followed by another. My neighbors and in-laws are teachers, and they say the change is obvious and reflected in school attendance rates too. Most of them are blaming it on “immunity debt” from lockdowns, but they don’t deny that everyone’s constantly sick.

      Maybe the impact looks differently in different populations, depending upon exposure? The teachers, nurses, kids, and college students are not looking good in my community.

      I’m watching excess mortality rates, disability/life insurance reports, school/work absentee rates, and reportable diseases for objective reports on how the population is actually doing.

      1. lambert strether

        “Immunity debt” being yet another fiction, the “spike” is it were being “debt.”

    2. Verifyfirst

      Thank you. I am reading a 28 eight page paper Mr. Duggar wrote, applying his HIV knowledge to Covid. It is a useful lens, whether it ends up being correct or not

      It’s going to be very hard to work out a time frame, I think, because Covid has become a scarlet letter, something shameful that people won’t acknowledge, often refuse to test for (to maintain deniability), and don’t tell anyone about on their Facebook page, etc. So when a person living a pre-pandemic lifestyle gets sick, we almost never hear about it.

      In addition to the stigma, most people–including doctors etc.– just don’t connect their symptoms to having had Covid–I have had multiple conversations with people who first were shocked at the suggestion, and then strongly denied any connection. Since there is little or no treatment, I don’t argue with them, what would be the point?

      It seems incontrovertible that there CAN be long term (at least three years?) consequences of an infection, vaccinated or not. The problem is, an individual cannot know ahead of time, how Covid will affect their body, even in the short term. And it seems probable new problems will appear for some people in a decade or more. You might consider looking at the disease burden and course for victims of SARS 1, if you’re looking for a time frame. And though documentation is scant, there are accounts of long term sequelae after other viruses, Spanish flu for example.

      If the time frame you are looking for is–when can I go back to my previous life without this new risk of a super transmissible airborne pathogen ruining my life–I can only say, my hopes rest on (almost) sterilizing nasal vaccines or protective coatings, which I hope we will have access to without having to go to another country in a year or two.

  10. Old Sarum

    Librewolf (a Firefox derivative) instead of Firefox and I no longer see THAT message or ads on Youtube.

    ps We are down to one constant under the “Politics” headline. How about:

    I used to be disgusted
    Now I try to be amused

    From Elvis Costello ‘(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red shoes’


  11. fresno dan

    Netflix’s famous red envelopes are headed to the recycling bin of history.
    The company announced the shutdown of the DVD-by-mail business Tuesday ahead of its first-quarter 2023 earnings report. Since 1998, according to the company, it has mailed out more than 5 billion DVD and Blu-ray rentals to subscribers across the U.S.
    The final Netflix DVDs will be shipped out on Sept. 29, 2023, according to co-CEO Ted Sarandos.
    Being a big movie buff, I joined Netflix soon after it started – I guess that has been about 25 years. The selection of foreign, independent, and obscure movies, as well as obscure independent foreign movies, used to be great. A few years ago they sent me a long list of movies in my queue that were never going to be available.
    Big Man Japan ever wonder how a man who grows to gigantic size ends up with (giagantic) shorts on? This movie explains how this happens…

    Ironically, as the physical is replaced with the digital, I spent this afternoon resetting passwords, confirming codes sent to my phone, and other digital rigamarole, trying to confirm that I am married, and when I pass away I want my wife to get my survivorer benefits. Finally, I called OPM (office of personnel management – or as I call them, lack of management) where a voice message telling me that the phone lines were too busy and to call back later….which I have done several times now. I guess I will have to write my congressmen…

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Ron DeSantis threatens prison near Disney theme park in latest retaliation”

    That could work that and Disney should go for it.That way, Disney could get their workers for virtually free and would never have to worry about any protests or dissent about their treatment.

    1. ambrit

      That prison could be made as a “ride.” Prison Over the Ages! Start out with some rock cave dungeons and work ourselves on up to electronic Metaverse PsyOp Virtual Prisons. Oh, wait, we already have that. It’s called Social Media.
      Stay safe, wherever you are.

        1. ambrit

          I’ve wondered if perhaps Disney’s modeled their physical parks after C S Lewis’ H— in “Screwtape Letters.” (“Avernus Industries welcomes you to the Prison Experience!”)
          The real genius in the Disney theme park experience is that they arranged it so that the public willingly pays to be abused.
          Governments can just marvel and envy.
          Lambert: When I post a comment, the Admiral modal appears. When I Click to Edit and post that, the modal does not appear.

  13. JBird4049

    >>>Maskers need a Green Book:

    This is not a bad idea.

    Many people might find the idea of needing a book or its equivalent to be able to travel across the entire United States, but denying the existence of the pandemic and endangering the lives of others could be considered akin to racism’s effects. Granted, the harmful effects of segregation or Jim Crow was more deliberate than the the denial of Covid. Dead is still dead whatever the cause. Be it from visiting a Sundown Town or from getting Covid.

    Maybe, the fact that ultimately both are the offspring of capitalism should be not surprising. The concept of racial inferiority was pushed by the sellers and users of slaves as a defense for what they were doing. The stronger the criticism of slavery, the more the concept of racism was pushed.

    Today, they want to keep the stores open and do not want to spend the money to keep us alive, and so
    It becomes living our (shortened) lives without fear (thinking).

    It also should not be that surprising that much of the words, the ideas, used by the elites to justify to themselves their actions, can be found centuries ago. Slaves were imported into the New World to replace the exterminated natives and in the British colonies to also replace the indentured servants, the “white trash” or “human manure” that also kept dying or having to be set free.

    Funny, it is always the wealthy, the owners, the users of other people and their work, who are of the better higher race or class.

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