2:00PM Water Cooler 4/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, 🌡️ we are at 255 donors. 255 donors / goal of 375 = 68.0%. Thank you! The Tip Jar is at the bottom of the screen! Here are a few more kind words from readers:

NM: “I read Water Cooler everyday, definitely look forward to it around 2 PM which coincides with my usual work coffee break. Will plan on sending some plant antidotes this year too. Thanks so much Lambert!”

DaLM: “Thanks much for the Covid coverage. Also especially enjoy the art posts and plantidotes.”

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There’s still time to click here!

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Bluebird (Eastern), Adamstown; Mt. Ephriam Road, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Sony TCD-D10 ProII HPF on, -20 dB pad on. Some distant traffic and some stomach noises [(!!)].”

* * *


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


“Bragg’s case against Trump hits a wall of skepticism — even from Trump’s critics” [Politico]. “Alvin Bragg’s case against Donald Trump is running into a wall of skepticism — including from left-leaning legal experts, liberal pundits and some of Trump’s Republican detractors who have otherwise been eager to see him held accountable. A day after the Manhattan district attorney unveiled the history-making charging documents against the former president, some of Bragg’s natural allies were left scratching their heads and Trump world appeared emboldened by the uncertainties in the case. The post-arraignment hangover was fueled by burning questions about the prosecution’s legal theories that Bragg has, for now, left largely unanswered. The concerns were exacerbated by the noticeable absence of support — and in some cases pointed skepticism about the case — from many of Trump’s critics in the legal community and Congress….. Legal experts who had awaited Bragg’s charging documents to resolve some of the lingering mysteries about the case remained confounded by some aspects of the prosecution.” And: ‘Trump sought to highlight the fissures between his political adversaries and Bragg during his remarks at Mar-a-Lago late Tuesday, but he also appeared to damage his own cause with a fusillade aimed at [Judge Juan] Merchan — just hours after the judge warned Trump’s lawyers that their client should not made any statements that ‘incite violate or create civil unrest.'” • Oh. Commentary:

“Trump’s next court date pushes up against 2024 primaries” [The Hill]. “The judge overseeing former President Trump’s criminal case in New York City has set the next in-person hearing for Dec. 4, roughly two months before the official start of the 2024 Republican presidential primary calendar… The Iowa Republican caucuses will be held on Feb. 5, 2024, marking the start of the GOP primary season. That underscores how Trump’s legal troubles could shadow him into the period when voters are picking a candidate to nominate for president.” • I don’t think that’s what the date underscores….

“Donald Trump awarded legal fees in Stormy Daniels defamation lawsuit” [BBC]. “The former porn star at the heart of Donald Trump’s historic indictment in New York has been ordered to pay him more than $121,000 (£96,965) towards legal fees in an unrelated case. Stormy Daniels, alleged to have had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006, lost her defamation case over a 2018 tweet written by the former US president. An appeals court judge in California dismissed Ms Daniels’ case, and awarded Mr Trump a payment for legal fees. Mr Trump has denied the affair. The civil defamation lawsuit brought by Ms Daniels was entirely separate from the 34 charges filed against Mr Trump in Manhattan on Tuesday.”

“Bragg’s timeline of Trump election-influence allegations doesn’t add up: Ex-federal prosecutor” [FOX]. Warning: I haven’t verified this against the indictment: “Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York… told “Jesse Watters Primetime” that Bragg claimed Trump’s alleged wrongdoing deceived voters in the 2016 election. The problem, he said, was that the related indictment counts occurred months after Trump was elected president. ‘I kind of don’t understand why this hasn’t been more of a thing, but what Bragg is alleging is that Trump took a series of actions to defraud the voting public in connection with the 2016 election. The indictment then goes forward with all these counts that begin on Feb. 14, 2017, and continue until Dec. 5 of 2017. That’s all months after the 2016 election.’ McCarthy riffed that if in Bragg’s ‘fantasy world’ the payments to Daniels, née Stephanie Clifford, were to be considered campaign related, federal disclosures wouldn’t be required until several months after the election. ‘So even if you take it the way that he pleads it, how could this conceivably have affected the 2016 election?'”

“McConnell lets an indicted Trump twist in the wind” [The Hill]. “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and his top deputies stayed silent Tuesday as former President Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts, signaling how far they have diverged from their former ally…. McConnell, who hasn’t spoken to Trump since December of 2020, didn’t make any statement in response to the former president’s arrest Tuesday. He didn’t say anything when news of Trump’s indictment broke Thursday, either.”

Republican Funhouse

“Youngkin uses national profile to raise big money for Virginia races” [Times-Dispatch]. “Youngkin, the former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, is parlaying his skills in the high-finance world of corporate hedge funds to raise money for state and national political races, including, potentially, his own. Youngkin has raised $2.75 million this year, as the first-term governor looks to make a big statement in the first quarter of a pivotal election year to determine control of the General Assembly for the final two years of his term. The fundraising also could leave an impression about his viability as a potential candidate for the presidency or vice presidency next year.”

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.

* * *

IL: “Progressive Brandon Johnson wins Chicago mayor’s race” [Politico]. “Brandon Johnson, a county commissioner and former teachers’ union organizer, was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday…. With all but a handful of precincts reporting — but a sizable number of mail ballots left to count — Johnson led Vallas, 51 percent to 49 percent…. Johnson’s victory signals a shift to the left from the already progressive governance of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration…. Johnson and Vallas also were embraced by powerful unions, which helped fuel their base but also raised concerns among moderate Democrats about how they would lead. Vallas was endorsed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, and Johnson was backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, for which he also worked.” • Hmm.

IL: “Brandon Johnson, Progressive Union Organizer, Elected Mayor Of Chicago” [HuffPost]. “Overcoming a major fundraising gap, accusations that he would “defund” the police and public polling that predicted his defeat, progressive Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union, won a hotly contested race for mayor of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city. Johnson, who is a Black leftist and former schoolteacher, defeated former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas, a white technocrat at the conservative edge of the contemporary Democratic coalition. Johnson’s victory in one of the starkest ideological proxy battles in the annals of recent municipal politics is a historic achievement for the activist left that is likely to have ripple effects across the county. Its significance for intra-Democratic Party politics is rivaled perhaps only by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise ouster of then-Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018.” • So, nothing to worry about then!

IL: “Brandon Johnson Wins Runoff Election, Becoming The Next Mayor Of Chicago” [Essence]. “During his campaign, Johnson called for massively expanded social programs, new taxes, and improved public safety by way of mental health treatment and youth employment programs, versus his opponent Vallas, whose messaging aligned with being tough on crime and expanding the city’s police force. At one point in an early poll for the election, numbers showed that only 3 percent of voters supported Johnson’s campaign. Overcoming enormous odds, Johnson advanced to the runoff election, and despite the fact that early on Vallas was leading, as the night went on, the tide shifted in favor of Johnson.”

IL: “MAP: Here’s How Your Neighborhood Voted In the 2023 Chicago Mayoral Election” [Block Club Chicago]. • Here it is:

WI: “Liberals take over Wisconsin Supreme Court — with major implications for abortion” [Politico]. “Protasiewicz, a liberal judge from Milwaukee County, won her race, 56.9% to 43.1%, when the Associated Press called the race at 9:53 pm. She defeated conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. The court is technically nonpartisan, but now has a 4-3 liberal majority through at least 2025…. The race was the most expensive state judicial race in American history. As of late last week, over $45 million has been spent on the contest… The election will have wide-sweeping effects on the state, including, in the nearest-term, access to abortion in Wisconsin…. Protasiewicz’s win also makes Democrats much more likely to bring challenges to the state’s congressional and legislative lines. Republicans have near-supermajorities in both legislative chambers and a 6-2 split of the congressional delegation in a state that routinely votes close to 50-50 on a statewide level. Similarly to her comments about values on abortion, Protasiewicz has said that it is clear the maps in the state are unfair. ‘Wisconsin has probably the most gerrymandered maps in the entire country,’ she said in an interview with POLITICO in February. ‘I anticipate that it’s possible that some type of litigation in regard to fair maps could come before the Supreme Court.'” •

WI: “Dan Kelly calls Wisconsin Supreme Court winner Janet Protasiewicz a ‘serial liar’ as he lashes out in his concession speech” [Journal Sentinel]. “Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly lost his race against Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz by at least 10 percentage points Tuesday but refused to call his opponent to concede, instead choosing to lash out against her in a concession speech to supporters. ‘I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,’ he said at an event held at the Heidel House Hotel in Green Lake. ‘But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.'” • Classy!

WI: “Janet Protasiewicz May Be Impeached by GOP After Wisconsin Election Win” [Newsweek]. “Republican state senate candidate Dan Knodl suggested last week that he would be open to impeaching Protasiewicz if he were to win his own race. This would give the GOP a two-thirds majority in the Wisconsin senate. Knodl made those remarks before the elections took place…. Madalyn O’Neill, reporter with Wisconsin’s Fox 6, reported on Twitter later on Wednesday morning: “With 100% of votes now in, it appears Knodl beat Habush Sinykin by about 1,300 votes.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“America on Trial Separation” [Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report]. “A few weeks ago, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene did what she does best: create controversy and draw outsized attention to herself. America, she tweeted, needs “a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.” Of course, we know that 1) Greene represents a state that once literally seceded from the union, and 2) that state no longer fits neatly into a red or blue category. Not surprisingly, most Americans aren’t into the idea of another civil war, or a partitioning of the country. A YouGov poll taken soon after Green’s comments, found 63% disagreed with the idea of a ‘national divorce,’ while 23% agreed. But what if we don’t need a divorce because we are already separated? ‘A national divorce may not be possible,’ writes Michael Podhorzer, a progressive analyst,strategist and former AFL-CIO political director. ‘But we’re already sleeping in separate bedrooms and seeing other people.’ Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen a steady and dramatic increase in Americans who live in overwhelmingly red or blue counties.” • Handy chart:

And: “At the same time, the importance of swing or independent voters has become more crucial than ever. As we saw in 2020, Trump got more votes than he did in 2016, but that still didn’t get him close enough to win. Why? Because he lost independent voters.”


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27 28 38 39 43 47 50/50 (94% of US states).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Couldn’t be more clear:

But how to turn a “community” into a political force…

* * *

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

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

Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:


Where are the lawsuits?

“Luck is the residue of design.” –Branch Rickey (and not John Milton, so far as I can tell):

To these sensible protections I would add nasal and oral sprays.


“The Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on the Cognitive Functioning of Patients with Pre-Existing Dementia” [IOS Press]. n = 14. From the Abstract: “Fourteen COVID-19 survivors with pre-existing dementia (four with Alzheimer’s disease, five with vascular dementia, three with Parkinson’s disease dementia, and two with the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia) were recruited. All these patients had detailed cognitive and neuroimaging evaluations within three months before suffering from COVID-19 and one year later.” From the Discussion: “The most noteworthy observation was that all 14 (i.e.,100%) patients, one year after SARS-CoV-2 infection, had fatigue, depression, objective attention/concentration difficulties, executive dysfunctions, slowed information processing speed, and sub-cortical type memory impairments, irrespective of their previous cognitive status. Patients with a previous deficit in those domains scored poorer in post-COVID-19 assessment than in other domains. Fluency deteriorated significantly following COVID-19. Slowly progressive dementias like Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, which usually have a fluctuating course, showed relatively unusual significant, relentless, and rapid progression in terms of deterioration of total ACE-III score at one year post-COVID-19. The spectrum of cognitive domain involvement followed a specific pattern, which indicates underlying disruption of frontal sub-cortical networks/connections.”

“A social and medical examination of Long COVID as a “mass disabling event”: Part 2″ [WSWS]. Part 1. “There are four theories for the possible causes of Long COVID: microclots in blood, immune dysfunction, the persistence of the virus over a long period and dysbiosis of the gut microbiome (disruption to the gut’s normal micro-organisms). Studies are in their very early stages, and other factors will most likely emerge in the future after further research.” • Why just one? Why not all four?

Science Is Popping

“SARS-CoV-2 restructures host chromatin architecture” [Nature]. From the Abstract: “These findings show that SARS-CoV-2 acutely rewires host chromatin, facilitating future studies of the long-term epigenomic impacts of its infection.” And from the body: “COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms often show two immuno-pathological features: a delayed or weakened innate immune response (that is, interferon gene expression) and an exacerbated production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (for example, IL6)25. Our 3D genome/epigenome maps provided an opportunity to understand the deregulation of these genes.” • Perhaps an epigeneticist (?) in the readership can explain the difference between immunue deregulation and immune dysregulation, if any.

“MaineHealth to lead Long COVID study” [WABI]. ” MaineHealth will be among those nationwide studying the cause of Long COVID. The MaineHealth Institute for Research announced Tuesday an $802,000 award from the National Institutes of Health. The team will examine whether the virus that causes COVID remains hidden in the tissue of those with Long COVID, further stressing their immune systems. NIH is leading a nationwide study to understand, prevent and find treatments for Long COVID. Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath and sleep problems. The study is expected to take one year.” • In January: Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), is now Principal Deputy Director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC). By all accounts, Shah did a good job. Maybe he can make CDC better, instead of CDC making him worse.

* * *

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 April 3:

Lambert here: The decline did not bottom out; my pessism was happily unwarranted. However, note that if we look at “the area under the curve,” more people have died after Biden declared that “Covid is over” than before. And this will continue.

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 1:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published April 5:

-0.2%. At the low point of the last valley, but the first increases in awhile.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,155,668 – 1,155,356 = 462 (462 * 365 = 168,630 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published March 28:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. Looks like a data issue, to me. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US created 145K jobs in March of 2023, below an upwardly revised 261K in February and forecasts of 200K, in a sign the labour market is slowing as consumer demand ebbs and the cost of borrowing goes up.”=

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 5 at 1:57 PM ET.

Groves of Academe

“Resolution: SA R31: Mandating Content Warnings for Traumatic Content in the Classroom” [Student Assembly, Cornell University]. Rejected by the President. The Abstract: “Urging university officials to require instructors who present graphic traumatic content that may trigger the onset of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to provide advance notice to students and refrain from penalizing students who opt out of exposure to such content.” And: “Be it further resolved, Student Assembly implores all instructors to provide content warnings on the syllabus for any traumatic content that may be discussed, including but not limited to: sexual assault, domestic violence, self-harm, suicide, child abuse, racial hate crimes, transphobic violence, homophobic harassment, xenophobia.” • “Including but not limited to.” Who decides? Nothing about class, naturally.

“Resolution: SA R31: Mandating Content Warnings for Traumatic Content in the Classroom” [Office of the Assemblies, Cornell University]. “Such a policy would violate our faculty’s fundamental right to determine what and how to teach, preventing them from adding, throughout the semester, any content that any student might find upsetting. It would have a chilling effect on faculty, who would naturally fear censure lest they bring a discussion spontaneously into new and challenging territory, or fail to accurately anticipate students’ reaction to a topic or idea. And it would unacceptably limit our students’ ability to speak, question, and explore, lest a classroom conversation veer into an area determined “off-limits” unless warned against weeks or months earlier. Moreover, we cannot require that “students who chose to opt-out of exposure to triggering content will not be penalized, contingent on their responsibility to make up any missed content.” Learning to engage with difficult and challenging ideas is a core part of a university education: essential to our students’ intellectual growth, and to their future ability to lead and thrive in a diverse society. As such, permitting our students to opt out of all such encounters, across any course or topic, would have a deleterious impact both on the education of the individual student, and on the academic distinction of a Cornell degree.” • Nobly said (by the administrators who systematically hollowed out the professariat and replaced them with ill-paid non-tenure track adjuncts).

News of the Wired

“GRID WORLD” [Alexander Miller]. “When I was a kid, my dad gave me a piece of paper with a grid printed on it. … My dad showed me how we could use the labeled rows and columns of the grid to address places of interest in our imagined islands: buried treasure was at square “B-4”, the entrance of the cave was at square “C-2″. We listed out the landmarks next to the map, creating a coordinate-based index. The grid plus index elevated my child-like imaginary treasure island into the grown-up world of official maps and systems, and thereby transformed it into a real, visitable place. An obsession was born. I was intoxicated by graph paper.” • This is great. Also, the author is a HyperCard fan. Too bad HyperCard was never Internet-enabled. The world might have been a different and better place.

* * *

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

RM writes: “View out the third story window of the ABnB in Oslo, Norway.”

* * *

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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. petal

    What timing! Just received an email from the hospital about masking rule changes.
    “The COVID-19 Operations Group is pleased to announce new masking guidelines that will go into effect system-wide on Monday, April 10. These changes are the result of the consistently low COVID-19 transmission rates in our region. We anticipate this to be welcome news for our employees, patients and visitors.

    Please carefully review the new masking requirements below:
    For ASYMPTOMATIC employees, patients and visitors
    · Masking will be optional for asymptomatic people in all facilities.
    · This guideline applies to private areas (offices and meeting rooms), patient care areas (exam rooms, inpatient rooms) and public spaces (waiting rooms, cafeteria, nurses’ stations, hallways, etc.).

    For SYMPTOMATIC employees, patients and visitors
    · Masking is required at all times in both public and private areas in all facilities.
    ·This requirement applies to all clinical settings (ambulatory/inpatient), administrative offices and other system locations.
    ·Symptomatic employees should follow the Should I Work Today? process and must be cleared by Occupational Medicine in order to return to work after being symptomatic.
    · Hospital inpatients may be unmasked while in their own room but must be masked at all times while in hallways, procedural areas and other public spaces.
    · Visitors who are symptomatic should be discouraged from visiting or accompanying patients to appointments. Please make arrangements to facilitate virtual visits/consults.

    Unvaccinated employees
    · Masking is optional based on personal risk assessment.

    Important notes about availability of masks and masking courtesy
    · When masking is optional, employees may choose to wear medical masks, KN95s or N95s.
    · Medical masks will continue to be available at facility entrances, registration desks and in patient care areas.
    · Be courteous to others. If the person you’re interacting with is masked, please offer to wear one too if this would increase their comfort.

    We are able to make these changes due to high vaccination rates, low community transmission and increased public immunity. We will continue to closely monitor the data and, should there be an unexpected surge in cases, adjust our guidelines accordingly.

    The COVID-19 Operations Group would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their cooperation with our masking policies over the past three years. It has been a long time getting to this point. Your ongoing diligence and understanding has been appreciated during this very challenging time.”

    1. Jason Boxman

      For ASYMPTOMATIC employees, patients and visitors
      · Masking will be optional for asymptomatic people in all facilities.

      These people are stupid. We know it spreads asymptomatically, and this is a key reason controlling spread is difficult.*

      * It wouldn’t be so difficult if universal masking hadn’t been delegitimized by both Conservatives and liberal Democrats.

    2. Cassandra

      Charming. I have to take my immune-suppressed adult offspring in for an appointment at said hospital on Monday.

    3. ambrit

      My commiserations to you.
      That ‘official’ communication shows all the signs, learned here, of PMC obfuscation and misdirection.
      The ‘tells’ to me:
      “…personal risk assessment.” We couldn’t make this up. It took professionals to do it.
      “Medical masks will be available…” Medical masks? Why not crotchless underwear? Equally useful.
      “..high vaccination rates…” What part of “non-sterilizing vaccine” do they not understand?
      “..low community transmission..” Hmmm. Relying on lagging indicators is always best practice?
      “…increased public immunity…’ If the Public is increasingly “immune,” then why are they still dying in droves?
      “…unexpected surge in cases…” That implies incompetence in not acting before “surges.”
      “…continue to closely monitor the data…” Who’s data, and from where. Also, what data? That’s an endangered species.
      “Visitors who are symptomatic should be discouraged..” Discouraged? In a Public Health Crisis? How about “forbidden?”
      Also, an internal contradiction in the “New Rules.” As above, “Visitors who are symptomatic should be discouraged…” Just above that: “For SYMPTOMATIC employees, patients, and visitors: Masking is required at all times…” So, which is it? Discouraged or required?
      Someone high up in your organization must keep a constantly refilled jug of “Official” Kool Aid in their office bar.
      Try to keep safe, even with fools running things there.

      1. petal

        Our virologist dept chair(the one people laugh at) immediately sent out an email that said “All-this is good news”.
        What got me was the “Be courteous to others. If the person you’re interacting with is masked, please offer to wear one too if this would increase their comfort.” I mean, ffs.
        Definitely will be walking dog a few houses down the street tonight to the CEO’s lawn.
        Please give my best to Phyl. I hope the storms are missing you guys.

        @Cassandra, all I can do is encourage you and your adult offspring to complain about it to every staff member you come into contact with and put your foot down that they need to be masked around you.

        1. ambrit

          Thanks! The storms have, so far, passed us by to our north.
          Don’t know about your region, but down here we are expecting 90 F weather in a few days. We had an overnight freeze two weeks ago. Phyl says that; “Spring must have been ‘downsized.’ Now we go straight from Winter to Summer.”
          As for your citation, “..increase their comfort..” I believe it was Ben Franklin who said; “No time to rest now. Time enough to rest in the grave.”
          What profits it to be comfortable, and dead.
          Be very, very alive. Stay safe.

          1. petal

            Glad to hear they are missing you! Winter weather advisory out for us tonight.
            Will be feeling like a sitting duck at work next week, more than before.

        2. Cassandra

          Thank you, Petal. Unfortunately, offspring has a horror of making a fuss and tends to want to trust authority, which I can see may be a coping mechanism to deal with illness. My willingness to be pushy is dreadfully embarrassing. Furthermore, I have declined to drink the Kool-aid, even the blue variety, and am therefore the black sheep of my flock. So I wait in the car and chew my nails.

          1. ambrit

            I know I’m not being very helpful, but it looks like it’s time to ask your offspring: “Do you want to be liked, or alive?”
            We know all about being considered “odd” and “pushy,” because Phyl, with some support from me, exhorts the troops to take their health seriously and take their vitamins, etc. She gets the worst pushback from the PMCs in the extended family. They… know… best! [The Masks of Hubris are infinite.]
            It is very hard to sit by and watch someone you care about make avoidable mistakes. It makes me appreciate the Fire Sermon more.
            Good luck to your offspring, and peace and calm to you.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              +12 on Fire sermon
              either Eliot, or the frelling Buddha.
              doesnt matter/
              heres the relevant from the latter:
              “”Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate.
              Through dispassion, he is fully released.
              With full release, there is the knowledge, ‘Fully released.’
              He discerns that ‘Birth is ended,
              the holy life fulfilled,
              the task done.
              There is nothing further for this world.'”

              as for the Eliot, the part about Death By Water resonates with me.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Another victory for Hospital Infection Control. They’re either morons who are unaware the Covid spreads asymptomatically, or eugenicists who are happy that it does. I know that’s bleak, and a better formulation would be welcome. I wonder if by community transmission they really mean transmission, or CDC’s green map (“community levels”). I’m guessing the latter.

      Amazing that they’re agnostic between baggy blues, KN95s, and N95s. What an enormous insult to any sentient being.

      1. some guy

        The formulation fits the facts.

        Perhaps one could coin the phrase . . . Darwin Filter Eugenics . . . clunky as it is, to capture the reality ( as I see it) that the Upper Classes don’t care who dies off in particular, just that enough people die off so that the Upper Classes can “make their numbers”.

        ” Multitudes, Multitudes, in the Valley of Selection . . . “

      2. petal

        My blue no matter who frothing at the mouth anti-Trump mother just sent me an MSM article blaming the Trump administration for bullying those poor wittle CDC people, and everything covid is Trump’s fault, etc. I just let her have it. Thank you, NC! Not that facts matter to her anymore. It’s like talking to the wall.
        btw, dog was successful.

        1. some guy

          I talk to some of the young Clinical Pharmacists where I work. One in particular tells me that as soon as the TrumpAdmin took power, it sought and got various funding cuts agains CDC. At the same time, the CDC stopped the collection and offering of many kinds of data and stuff that it had been doing up to that time. She tells me that she and others gave up on using the CDC website and sub-websites for what they had used to use it/them for. Also, the TrumpAdmin sent its political commissars to CDC as well as to other departments to instruct people there on what kinds of reporting and describing would be unacceptable and would be unaccepted.

          Colonel Lang over at his website has told us from time to time that Intelligence officers consider every intelligence report as something to be assessed for factuality or non-factuality irrespective of its source. ( Though I suspect he also considers the source itself to be another level of meta-intelligence relevant to the analysis).

          Team Blue spokesmouths can sometimes be right about things, sometimes by mistake and sometimes even by design. The upper classes exploit the lower classes even though Karl Marx said they did. The fact that Marx said it does not make it false.

          One hopes a team of emotionally dispassionate and disinterested East Asian historians some day comes here and does a forensic historical analysis of every stage, step and level of what happened and CDC, and when, and why, and directed and funded ( or defunded) by whom.

      3. Jason Boxman

        It is kind of hilarious though, because this implies that there’s no difference between these types of respirators, so why do different types exist? What purpose do they serve? Why do they have to meet strict regulatory standards? Why bother?

        This is the stupidest timeline, to be sure.

    5. Angie Neer

      Ugh. My small-scale experience of this was going to physical therapy yesterday, at a small office where I’ve visited regularly for the last few months. Until yesterday, everybody was masked. Rules now dropped, and no masks on the staff when I entered wearing my N95. My therapist stated he would be happy to put on a mask if I prefer and I said yes, thanks for your consideration. So he put on the usual ill-fitting blue mask which he had to constantly adjust to keep it from slipping below his nose. And as we all know, even if he’s diligent about keeping it in place (which he was), what’s the point? Considering what a joke these masks are against an airborne virus, he might as well not have been wearing it at all. I’m seriously ambivalent about whether letting people enact that charade serves any purpose. Next time, should I say “Thanks for offering, but those masks are a joke?” I suppose what I really should say is “Here, I brought an extra N95 with me, would you please wear this one? If you don it properly it you won’t have to keep adjusting it”

      1. Objective Ace

        Hasnt Yves shared a number of studies indicating masks work–and those studies arent focusing on type, many of which are for schools for which n95/kn95s are exceedingly rare for children.

        Sure there no n95, but I wouldnt be so quick to chalk them up as useless

    6. Jen

      The “best” part of all this is the CEO wrote an op-ed in the local paper not so long ago citing staffing shortages and increased demand for services pushing rural hospitals to the breaking point. And they are hemorrhaging money.

      You know what’s likely to increase staffing shortages and demand for services? Yeah, you do.

      If it were necessary for me to receive care there, my statement to anyone who did not immediately offer to don a mask in my presence would be: “If I catch COVID here, I will sue you into oblivion.”

      1. Jason Boxman

        That’s the amazing thing about pathogens! Whoever you sue can then say, well, prove it! And you probably can’t, because community spread. This is the tried and true method of getting off for polluters of all kinds, so why not in this realm as well?

    1. aj

      It’s hard to take an article seriously when the comments section includes people saying that Abraham Lincoln illegally freed the slaves, and uses his name derogatorily in the same sentence as Marx while at the same time comparing Trump to George Washington.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t conflate the article with the comments. That’s like comparing oranges to rotten apples.

      2. hemeantwell

        I advise trying to moderate your reflex, political crosscurrents these days require it. It can be done, and I’m now capable of not only reading Moon of Alabama’s articles but also wading, with only mild gagging, through the not infrequent anti-Semitic comments to find the occasional good bit.

        1. mrsyk

          That wading is worth it, imo. MoA’s comment section, despite some ugliness, is a gold mine for info and alternate info sources to suss out. I consider it a must read for keeping a pulse on the situation in Ukraine.

        2. some guy

          Vineyard of the Saker’s site and threads were like that also. Full of all kinds of antisemitic material which he did nothing to discourage. But a lot of it was Christianity-based.

          He himself appeared to be a pre-medieval sort of Late Antiquity Christian anti-Judaismite . . specifically religiously focused. He once wrote a long post which struck me as a possible window into the early post-Nicea Council rising Christian Power mind of Late Antiquity. It was a very strange mind to wander around in.

          1. Jason Boxman

            It was interesting to read how pervasive this was across parts of Europe in the late 1800s, and the role it played in the Dreyfus affair in France. It seems to be something of a permanent fixture in the world, sadly.

            1. ambrit

              Kissing up and kicking down seems to be a permanent fixture in hierarchical societies.

  2. LadyXoc

    Grid World was surprisingly satisfying read. And an open door into what modern typography has become. Loved the animated graphics.

    1. Stephen V

      Mercy. That is a white hot piece.This might go a long way toward explaining why Brook Jackson’s case against Pfizer was dismissed.
      Thank yoi.

      1. OwlishSprite

        You’re very welcome. If you have not already heard of Katherine Watt at Bailiwick News, you might want to take a deep dive there.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      I second the appreciation for that link. I am about halfway through it, it will be shared on some of my social networks (and sure to get me fewer friends.)

      1. ChrisFromGA

        That was quite a read and led to several other rabbit holes.

        One question that I would really like to know is, presuming all of that is true, which I have very little doubt of, is the Russian bear rising up on its hind legs a sign that things are not going to plan for the Davos crowd? Based on the level of sheer hate expressed towards Russia and Putin by all our fearless leaders, I would tend to think so.

        There are so many strange contradictions, I wonder what version of reality I am living in sometimes.

        One thing is for sure, trust is gone. I will never believe a word out of the lying lips of our western leaders again. Trust will have to be built back at a local level with direct face-to-face contacts.

    3. Late Introvert

      I read until her comment that C-19 would have gone away all on it’s own (somehow) if not for the M-RNA vaccines.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Trump used to say the same all the time – ‘It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.’ And he said that over three years ago. Still waiting.

    1. semper loquitur

      What was accomplished that a photo or diagram wouldn’t have achieved? Other than exposing children to naked adults? The whimsical music is a sick touch…

      1. OwlishSprite

        I hate to say it, but I think there is something fetishist going on here, and not for the kids.

        1. ambrit

          I hesitate to say it, but it tracks with Huxley’s “feelies” from “Brave New World.” From what I have seen of UK television on the Internets over here, the content seems to have devolved fully into sexually based exploitation and sensationalism. Anything for those clicks I guess.
          Functionally, sex is a “lowest common denominator” par excellence. An ideal distraction.

          1. OwlishSprite

            I suspect that this program caters to a particular audience intent on ‘normalizing’ what I see here as child exploitation.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I saw a similar clip and I think that it was from a Scandinavian country – Denmark perhaps? All those naked were trans so they took questions from children about their lives. Not teenagers, children. Just posted a comment in links about this sort of thing happening linking to a Gonzalo Lira video worth watching-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHMHQ-1Pe6k -(11:45 ins)

      It is called ‘The Rainbow Empire Is Alienating The Rest of The World’ but when I think about it, it is alienating people in the west itself. The UK also had a dating TV show along these lines but nothing was blurred. So there were several booths with naked contestants in them and another person looking for a date on the outside. In stages, the door to each booth would be raised up and that person would be asked about their opinions on those bodies. People would be cut at each stage. Eventually that person could see all the bodies and would choose from the last two. They in turn would get naked for those last two. It was something between a meat market and judging a book by their cover.

  3. fresno dan

    “America on Trial Separation” [Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report].
    Well, from 2016 to 2020 on the percentages of counties that voted at least 60, 70, or 80 percent, all declined marginally. Has the sorting reached its apogee? Maybe. As well as the fact, except for abortion and gun control, is there any real difference between repubs and dems that a voter can realiably discern? – all the voters are deciding is the team colors of the bag men…

    1. some guy

      Here in Michigan, the Blue Team took command of all three branches of State Government. And the Blue Team majority has repealed ” Right To Work” in law. So there is that difference, which will be visible to those with eyes to see.

      1. upstater

        It will be visible for eyes that see through the number of newly organized workplaces with multi year contracts that are closed shops. If 30% of Michigan’s workforce is so organized, then declare success. Otherwise this is performative politics.

        BLS: “The 2022 unionization rate (10.1 percent) is the lowest on record.” Biden’s NLRB, Labor secretary or allies have not been very impressive, no?

        1. some guy

          The Republicans did not think it was performative politics when they got their Right to Work passed to begin with. So declaring the repeal of it to be performative politics appears to be performative cynicism and performative learned helplessness. But as you say, lets see what can be achieved now that it is legal again to achieve something.

          It is a necessary first condition within Michigan which may or may not lead anywhere better. One suspects Free Trade will have to be abolished at the National Level in order to make closed shop unionization within a state more possible. Lack of Free Trade Abolition is not Michigan’s fault.

          1. upstater

            There are immediate consequences when right to work is passed. People stop paying union dues. Reinstating closed shop through contracts and organizing new workplaces are far more difficult. Two tier wage structures and benefits were granted by union negotiators (been there had that done to me) and only convince workers that unions provide few benefits. Only when union leaders are willing to LEAD and serve time, I’m not impressed by performances, regardless of what team blue does (cf., railroadworkers 2022 contract).

  4. some guy

    Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police is probably as much a Blue Fascist Union as many other Police Unions are. So Vallas would have governed as a ” Peoples’ Blue Fascist Mayor”. His defeat looks like a good thing from here.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      He may be neutrally described as a technocrat by the likes of Politico, but he’s a nasty piece of work. No matter how disappointing Johnson may turn out to be (re Lambert’s reference to AOC), it’s a good thing he defeated Vallas.

  5. Late Introvert

    Public Citizen sent a fundraising email yesterday titled “Donald Trump’s dirty fingers”.

    Earlier today, Donald Trump was arraigned in a Manhattan courthouse.

    * Trump was charged with 34 felonies related to hush money he is
    said to have paid adult actress Stormy Daniels in 2016.

    * He was also fingerprinted.

    * This indictment was issued by a grand jury composed of everyday
    Americans who looked at the facts and made their own determination.

    * Trump, of course, will be afforded the same rights and protections
    as other criminal defendants. He deserves his day in court and
    must be presumed innocent until proven guilty (despite his own
    history of denying others that presumption).

    * And it may well take a good while for this case to work its way
    through the legal system.

    Here’s the thing:

    *A core tenet of our democracy is that no one is above the law. Not even — perhaps especially — a twice-impeached former president who is seeking another term in office.

    And New York is not the only jurisdiction in which Donald Trump is suspected of committing serious crimes.*

    With this case underway in New York, we await action by law enforcement officials in other jurisdictions to hold Trump accountable for any crimes he committed in relation to the 2020 election and his hoarding of classified documents.

    *A message for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith, and Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis:(link deleted by me)*

    */Donald Trump appears to have broken Georgia and federal law. You should, of course, take whatever remaining time you need to conclude your thorough investigations. But if and when the time is right, we are counting on you to formally charge the former president. Donald Trump must be held accountable for any crimes he committed in relation to the 2020 election and his hoarding of classified documents. No one is above the law./ (link deleted by me)*

    *Click now to add your name. (link deleted by me)*

    Thanks for taking action.

    For justice,

    – Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen

    I replied what about Hillary and Hunter? Nobody above the law my @ss.

    1. some guy

      Perhaps if the legal action against Trump proves effective against Trump, it can be leveraged and weaponised for use against those other ” heretofor above the law” political black-hat bad actors.

      If it turns out that Trump is not “above the law”, perhaps we could work with vengeful Republicans to see to it that Clinton and Obama become ” not above the law” either. And if that totally and completely succeeds, perhaps we can work with counter-vengeful Democrats to see to it that Bush and Cheney and etc. also become “not above the law” anymore, either.

      If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
      If life hands you melons, make melonade.
      If life hands you demons, make demonade.

      1. Late Introvert

        I like the way you are framing this, and I too am hopeful for the backlash and will gladly work with anyone right or left who wants to make sure this arrest the ex-Presidents thing can grow real legs.

    2. The Rev Kev

      It has been said that what this looks like – to the rest of the world – is like the leader of a country is trying to put his future rival in the next elections into jail first. That raid on his home on bogus charges was also third world stuff. Isn’t that suppose to be the sort of thing that happens in banana republics?

      1. JBird4049

        >>>Isn’t that suppose to be the sort of thing that happens in banana republics?

        And what is your point? I thought my country was a banana republic.


        It is disorienting, seeing the memories of what was being so different from what is.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Same here in Oz. That nuclear sub deal, for example, is so bizarre and so fantastic I wonder what happened to the country that I grew up in. I find myself sometimes as a stranger in a strange land.

  6. fresno dan

    can we all at least agree that the Trump indictment has exposed the vaunted US legal system as a grift, wrapped in a fraud, rationalized with pure bull$hit.
    So let me give only one minor example, but there are really millions. Years ago, the US invented war crimes, and among them was waterboarding. When it suited the US, it decided it could use waterboarding and that waterboarding was not torture and therefore not a war crime. Rule of law, shmule of law….
    It is a sad commentary on this country, that Trump is the only US politician who can say anything that is true, e.g., ‘I know it is rigged because I use the system.’
    A vast system of indoctrination of how wonderful US law is, devoid of any resemblance to reality.

    1. ambrit

      What bothers me about this ‘indictment’ is that it fully and finally removes any traces of legitimacy from the Office of President, not just the person of Trump. This is going to come back and wreck the System wholesale. Now, anybody in Government is fair game to Lawfare. It’s Official.

  7. Louiedog14

    America on Trial Separation: I do wonder that if the US broke up into several different countries, if we might not get along better. My guess is that initially there would be a good deal of migration, but gradually that would dissipate as passions cooled. Hopefully, travel between the various nations would remain easy, and soon our common language, our common love of football and unhealthy food would make relations between the various Wokelvanias and Trumputopias more amicable.
    I would remain here in New England because I simply like the geography/climate here better than elsewhere, although I’m also happy that things like legal abortions, gay marriage, and weed are cool.

    I always maintain that our R/D divide is a particularly poisonous and divisive thing. I’ve traveled a lot in this country and have met plenty of wonderful people whom I had plenty in common with all over the place, and very little of it had to with politics. Maybe a step back would help us re-discover that. Or maybe we’d nuke each other inside a week.

    1. some guy

      The Indian Nations might take advantage of such a breakup to try getting significant fractions of their land, power, and sovereignty back.

  8. Pat

    Is it just me or is the media backtracking to a skeptical and more even handed tone in coverage and especially headlines now that the indictment has proven to be such weak sauce? Oh not all but a lot.

    Maybe a few cheerleaders have gotten enough feedback to notice that a significant portion of their audience have gotten that these things are noise and fury and even persecution like leading to exactly the same place, Trump free and running with more money than he had before the current dust up started.

  9. Tom Stone

    It strikes me that the “Defend the Guard” website would be a worthy addition to the Blogroll here.
    The MAGA deplorables of flyover are the ones whose children have coming home shattered or dead for two decades and they are sick and tired of the Forever Wars.
    This is an issue that can unite rather than divide and it would be REALLY NICE if the Imperial War Machine could be reined in.

  10. playon

    I’m extremely disappointed that in my home state of Washington, all of the state supported community clinics are now “masks optional”. The clinic I go to is absolutely airless with no ventilation until the summer when the AC goes on. A recipe for further disaster…

    1. JBird4049

      Ouch. My sense of smell has always iffy, but even losing it during a head cold or allergies is unfun.

      For all that modern people are not supposed to have much ability to smell, it is normally always just there giving us information that we do not pay conscious attention to. It still influences our actions. Then there is having all my food taste like particularly bland oatmeal.

  11. Wukchumni

    I feel privileged to be able to participate in the record winter of snowfall here in Mammoth…

    Runs i’ve done hundreds of times appear completely different in that it looks like the mountain has put on a lot of weight and everything is rounded out somewhat from oh so much snow.

    One remarkable thing is that this time of year is typically spring skiing and its usually only worth skiing a few hours early in the day as the piste turns into grabby mashed potatoes, ugh!

    Not thus winter, conditions were more as you’d expect in January or February, superb firm snow that softens only enough to be perfect underfoot.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Out of curiosity. Were you expecting those conditions or was it just a lucky bonus?

      1. Wukchumni

        Its all about the outside temp, and this winter has been relentlessly on the cold side-so I knew what to expect, but was blown away by what I saw on skid row.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Ahh, I see. But as they say, those who expect perfect ski conditions all the time may find themselves on a slippery slope. From my old skiing days I have never forgotten when the snow was so compacted by previous skiers that it was like skiing on chipped ice. But when you hit virgin snow, it was great.

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding the cook political report thing:
    i scanned it…intensely, as is my way…and i reckon they lack the granularity to accurately–and quite forcefully–prove, one way or another, the prospects for a national “divorce”.
    parties mean nothing at all anymore, save for mostly old codgers and what we call “Flower People”, out here(RV-ers).
    That’s who cares about either party in my county(usual caveats, buti think this scales…or can be found to scale).
    they…all together, D & R, amount to maybe 13% of the whole population.
    a somewhat larger % of the eligible voter list.
    everyone else, at least as far as my ad hoc informal and quite random polling goes(and stealth, too!), is interested in things that effect them…when they’re brought up.
    no one brings such things up themselves, unless prompted…which is in and of itself an indicator of political philosophy(given up on politics…politics as entertainment/sports, etc)
    due to my own infrastructure endeavors…as well as my crazy mom’s rival , equally insane boondoggles…i’ve had occasion to be among the Mundane a lot, here lately.
    hardware and feedstores, by their nature, necessitate a lot of shuffling and standing around, which engenders a “whats up?”….which, in the hands of a skilled lay anthropologist, can be steered into informative discourse.
    this is what i base the above anecdata upon.

    1. Acacia

      Thanks, Amfortas. I take some small comfort in this, i.e., that possibly only 13% of the whole population actually cares much about the two parties (which may include believing there is a meaningful difference between the two). It’s reassuring to know that many are keeping a level head, focused on more direct concerns, and simply not buying what the parties claim to offer, or see them as more akin to an entertaining sh*t show, albeit a dangerous one.

      OTOH, somehow that 13% seems to be enough for the Duoparty to continue their conjoint reign of error and terror.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        such folks clog the highways in the texas hill country this time of year, due to the wildflowers.
        they also end up hogging our local share of antivenin due to attempting to get close up pictures of said wildflowers.
        timely rains have enabled a pretty good show, this year….especially further south.

  13. Acacia

    Good on Cornell for pushing back against the trigger warning brigade.

    Imagine students are assigned Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, but instead of reading/discussing it, they send angry emails to the instructor, to inform him/her that they refuse, and that they will boycott any class that includes discussion of such a vile text that advocates rape. Their rationale is that they heard on the Internet that Helen is “ravish’d” (they didn’t actually read the play), and any text that even mentions such an unspeakable act must obviously condone it. On a more personal note, they add that while reading such a horrible text would not evoke disabling PTSD for them personally, they have friends who have been sexually assaulted, and thus out of “solidarity” they will refuse. Enough is enough, they say, it’s time to cancel Shakespeare !

    If this sounds absurd, I regret to inform you that the university is not the place that it once was.

  14. Late Introvert

    As a product of a state university who is currently trying to get a low-income yet brilliant child enrolled in a Midwest private university, I can tell you it’s not at all even the place I scored poorly in back in the early 80s.

    Tuition is outrageous, fees are through the roof, and only the children of the so-called Middle Class 10% can afford it. My straight-A kid who reads and writes and has math and science skills gets offers for $5,500 a year in loans, plus $12 Grand in fees (the now hated Drake University that I will condemn on this blog every chance I get, knowing it will go into the DC archives) for schools that charge 40+ grand a year. Um, no.

    1. Late Introvert

      and to be clear, state schools offer even less in terms of scholarships, it’s not like our first choice was private schools, they are all unaffordable

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