2:00PM Water Cooler 5/10/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Great Eared-Nightjar, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve– Pulickal, Palakkad, Kerala, India.

* * *


“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

“Debt anxiety falls a little on the Hill. It might not be enough.” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy are still very much in the finger-pointing stage of the economy-rattling debt crisis. Yet some possible signs of life have begun to emerge. Senior Hill aides have agreed to start more in-depth talks on government spending — though Democrats insist those are on a separate track from raising the nation’s debt limit. Biden has said he’d take a ‘hard look’ at unspent Covid aid money in the talks. A top White House advisor is laying out ideas for energy permitting reform — one of the GOP’s biggest debt limit priorities. It’s all far short of a compromise to bridge the mile-wide gap between party leaders, who have retreated to their corners since their Oval Office sit-down on Tuesday. Top Democrats are still refusing to entertain the GOP’s spending cut demands, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer castigating McCarthy in a bid to split him from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And Republicans are complaining that Biden is running out the clock. So the minor signs of progress that are visible in the Capitol are leaving some lawmakers to wonder whether they’re meaningful or more of a mirage as the deadline to avoid a full-blown economic crisis draws nearer.” • I wonder if any of that unspent Covid money was going to go to nasal vaccine development. I’m guessing yes.

“White House eases COVID protocols as emergency lifts” [Associated Press]. • First superspreader event in how long? Readers?

The Supremes

“Clarence Thomas Reversed Position After Gifts And Family Payments” [The Lever]. “The so-called ‘Chevron deference’ doctrine stipulates that the executive branch — not the federal courts — has the power to interpret laws passed by Congress in certain circumstances. Conservatives for years have fought to overturn the doctrine, a move that would empower legal challenges to federal agency regulations on everything from climate policy to workplace safety to overtime pay. Thomas wrote a landmark Supreme Court opinion upholding the doctrine in 2005, but began questioning it a decade later, before eventually renouncing his past opinion in 2020 and claiming that the doctrine itself might be unconstitutional. Now, Thomas could help overturn the doctrine in a new case the high court just agreed to hear next term. nGroups within the conservative legal movement funded by Leonard Leo’s dark money network and affiliated with Thomas’ billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow have organized a concerted effort in recent years to overturn Chevron. That campaign unfolded as they delivered gifts and cash to Thomas and his family in the lead-up to his shift on the doctrine.”


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

Christmas music in the stores on Halloween, but here we are…

Lambert here: I bope this thing is counting down; the UI/UX for building a clock changed from last year, and not for the better.

* * *

“Trump forum a big test for CNN, moderator Kaitlan Collins” [Associated Press]. “Donald Trump’s town hall forum on CNN [at 9pm] on Wednesday [That’s today!] is the first major television event of the 2024 presidential campaign — and a gigantic test for the chosen moderator, Kaitlan Collins…. A Trump adviser, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said CNN executives made a compelling pitch to the former president. The adviser also noted that Trump found success in 2016 by stepping outside Republicans’ traditional comfort zone… ‘I find it very hard to defend the choice to give him a live platform, no matter how it is dressed up,’ MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said on his show, which will directly compete with Trump on Wednesday.” • Well, he would, wouldn’t he.

“Trump attacks ‘biased’ judge and will appeal after jury finds he sexually abused writer E Jean Carroll in changing room” [Sky News]. “The former US president was also found to have defamed E Jean Carroll, but the civil trial rejected her claim she was raped during the encounter. Trump must pay the former Elle magazine advice columnist $5m (£4m) in damages.” • The drumbeat for many years is that Trump was rapist. As it turns out, he’s not, but that’s not the story. It looks to me like Trump was slapped with $5 million in damages for being a [glassbowl]; which, truth to tell, he is. Michael Tracey is not wrong:

If Trump wished to argue that this case was an example of lawfare, given that Carroll was funded by Democrat and Silicon Valley squillionaire Reid Hoffman, and given that the suit only went ahead because of New York’s “Adult Survivors Act,” which created a “a year-long period of time in which sexual assault and rape survivors could sue their abusers in civil court, long after the statute of limitations for criminal cases had passed,” and which in retrospect seems tailored for Trump, he might get some traction (“Ms Carroll, 78, is among the first to sue under the Adult Survivors Act, which came into effect on Thursday.” Tidy!)

“Why some in new poll still want Trump in 2024 even if he’s criminally charged” [ABC]. The deck: “‘He might be a bad person, but he is a good president,’ one person said.” More: “Trump’s backers include those who think he broke the law, with 18% of respondents who said Trump should face criminal charges in investigations of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results also saying they would be inclined to vote for him.”

“California Gov. Newsom declines to back reparations checks, says slavery’s legacy is ‘more than cash payments'” [FOX]. “FIRST ON FOX: California Gov. Gavin Newsom declined to endorse the cash payments — which could reach as high as $1.2 million for a single recipient — recommended by his reparations task force, telling Fox News Digital that dealing with the legacy of slavery ‘is about much more than cash payments.’ ‘The Reparations Task Force’s independent findings and recommendations are a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing. This has been an important process, and we should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery and understand how that history has shaped our country,’ Newsom said in a statement to Fox News Digital. While the Democratic governor applauded the task force’s work, he declined to endorse any specific recommendations, though he pledged to continue to ‘advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians.'” • The dog caught the car. What to do?

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.

* * *

“USE YOUR VOICE. REPORT HATE” [California Civil Rights Department]. From the FAQ:

[1] Insanely vague. “Expression or action” (note the typical conflation with “act”), “may be motivated”, “actual or perceived.” Of course the sacred “identity” concept is not defined. This all looks highly gameable, to me, especially by conservatives. One might consider the public use of “ammosexual” or “gun-humper” as an assault on those who “identify as” gun-owners, for example. The whole document is worthy of study.

[2] Note that hate incidents — to be reported — are not hate crimes. The definition of incidents is much broader.

[3] A nation of snitches. How attractive.

[4] And to the heart of the matter: A jobs guarantee for identity politics operatives (as if there weren’t enough already).


“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, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

I recall that we have at least one NC reader who gives away masks; that strikes me as a very kind approach (hence not top of mind for me, sadly):

Covid Is Airborne

The power of small gains:

The same works for avoiding infection, too — even delayed infection. Your child, infected zero or one times, will over time accrue, well, social capital compared to those who are damaged by covid infection, just a little more with each repeated infection. And after, say, 10 years of this? I would also urge that the layered approach is more likely to produce many of these small gains:

“No Evidence of Induced Skin Cancer or Other Skin Abnormalities after Long-Term (66 week) Chronic Exposure to 222-nm Far-UVC Radiation” [Photochemistry and Photobiology]. “Far-UVC radiation, typically defined as 200-235 nm, has similar or greater anti-microbial efficacy compared with conventional 254-nm germicidal radiation. In addition, biophysical considerations of the interaction of far-UVC with tissue, as well as multiple short-term safety studies in animal models and humans, suggest that far-UVC exposure may be safe for skin and eye tissue. Nevertheless, the potential for skin cancer after chronic long-term exposure to far-UVC has not been studied. … No evidence for increased skin cancer, abnormal skin growths or incidental skin pathology findings was observed in the far-UVC-exposed mice. In addition, there were no significant changes in morbidity or mortality. The findings from this study support the long-term safety of long-term chronic exposure to far-UVC radiation, and therefore its potential suitability as a practical anti-microbial approach to reduce airborne viral and bacterial loads in occupied indoor settings.” • I’ve gotta say, and I know this isn’t entirely rational, that I’m still skeptical. I know filters work and are no risk. I can’t bring myself to say “no risk” with UV. I would be a lot more comfortable with UV in spaces through which people moved rapidly, like hallways or entrances, as opposed to spaces where people remain for minutes at a time. Sorry, UV advocates!


Universal masking as an ADA accommodation?! Hmm:

If correct, this minimizes my reservations about an ADA-based approach, expressed here.

“ADA+ Rights Workshop” [People’s CDC]. This is really good. People’s CDC doesn’t mess around. On Accommodations:

I would imagine the various “mood disorders” created by past Covid infection are well-documented. More:

This all looks good to me. Readers? ADA mavens?

Masks as fashion:

Somehow, I don’t think Goth style is going mainstream. That’s not the point of being a Goth! But I think the larger point is that aesthetics count, and as much as I love my 3M Aura, 3M is a giant monopoly that conceptualizes and styles masks if they were medical appliances. But the task before us is to normalize masking, and that means moving them out of the medical bucket into the consumer bucket (i.e., make them fashion).

Testing and Tracking

La-la-la, I can’t hear you!


“How lockdowns turned us into antisocial goblins – and why it matters” [New Scientist]. “Recently, some colleagues of mine put on a public health conference. More than 80 people registered for the in-person-only event, and we ordered coffees and snacks for a little under that number – assuming, as is the norm, that 20 to 30 per cent of people would drop out. Surprisingly, it was closer to 90 per cent. Only a handful of people showed up. We were shocked and distressed, and started speculating about why the turnout was so bad. Then someone mentioned that this kind of thing is more common after the covid-19 lockdowns: people just don’t like leaving their homes….The behaviours we have seen –

and continue to see, if our recent conference failure reflects wider trends – indicate that covid-19 lockdowns forced a kind of reverse cultural evolutionary process. We are social animals who need regular interaction, and depriving us of socialising releases a culturally primitive, largely antisocial goblin. ” • Or perhaps potential attendees made a personal risk assessment, and decided that the social and symbolic capital to be accumulated from the conference wasn’t worth the risk of cumulative neurological and vascular damage. Certainly the quality of this paper lends support to that hypothesis. In any case, this introvert is of the view that extroverts are gonna kill us all. A view for which there is some support, since apparently there’s a thing that we might label “acquired extroversion”–

“Selective Neuronal Mitochondrial Targeting in SARS-CoV-2 Infection Affects Cognitive Processes to Induce ‘Brain Fog’ and Results in Behavioral Changes that Favor Viral Survival” [Medical Science Monitor]. We’ve linked to this already, but here is are some tweets with a handy diagram that makes the central mechanism more penetrable:

So we have a single mechanism that would explain both brain fog in Long Covid and the collective, post-Covid mood change (more anger, more impulse) that so many have commented upon. Parsimony is good. Oh, and a new word:

Anosognosia. Of course, this is all speculative, I hate medicalized explanations for social phenomena, etc. But it’s an intriguing, “The Last of Us”-style viewpoint.

* * *

“Long Covid: clues about causes” [European Respiratory Journal]. “Given the growing evidence that different patterns of symptoms might be driven by distinct pathophysiological pathways (figure 1), it is essential that rigorous and evidence-based classifications of disease are used to design trials of specific interventions based on this knowledge. Many clinical trials are underway to identify potential treatments [8] but there is a risk that these trials will show no benefits if patients with different pathogenic pathways are not differentiated.” • Here is Figure 1:

“The plasma metabolome of long COVID-19 patients two years after infection” (preprint) [medRxiv]. N = 108. From the Abstract: ” In this study, our goal was to assess the plasma metabolome in a total of 108 samples collected from healthy controls, COVID-19 patients, and long COVID patients recruited in Mexico between 2020 and 2022…. The comparison of paired COVID-19/post-COVID-19 samples revealed 53 metabolites that were statistically different (FDR < 0.05). Compared to controls, 29 metabolites remained dysregulated even after two years.... Mitochondrial dysfunction, redox state imbalance, impaired energy metabolism, and chronic immune dysregulation are likely to be the main hallmarks of long COVID even two years after acute COVID-19 infection.”

“Post COVID-19 condition after delta infection and omicron reinfection in children and adolescents” [The Lancet]. “In our prospective paediatric study, we showed that older age, having acute symptoms, and higher antibody titres are associated with long-term symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 delta infection. The association between antibody titres and long-term symptoms previously described in adults can in this study be extended to children. Hence, an immune dysfunction may also be involved in maintaining symptoms in children, as observed in adolescents after other viral infections. The three most common long-term symptoms after delta infection in our cohort were fatigue, dyspnoea and cognitive impairment, with higher frequencies in adolescents than in children. These three were recently confirmed as the common clusters of long-term COVID symptoms, and frequently reported as persisting paediatric symptoms. We observed that adolescents more frequently reported persistent and long-term symptoms than children, confirming the association between symptoms and age post-puberty, despite high vaccination rates in adolescents. When comparing groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescents, we found no significant differences in reported acute and persistent symptoms….”

Elite Maleficence

“Go to work with a cold – cough on a colleague” [Henrik Widegren, Sweden Posts English]. I thought that was only for Americans. Guess not. Framed as a “debate,” so I assume deliberately controversial: “Sweden, I have news: Covid-19 is no longer a disease dangerous to the public and society! I repeat: Covid-19 is under control! Now some may think that I have been living under a rock and have missed that the pandemic has subsided in the last year, but I am writing this because many people are still behaving as if we had a dangerous pandemic. In recent months, I’ve had acquaintances who canceled dinners, colleagues who complained that the preschool didn’t want to accept their snotty children, and patients who canceled appointments. Reason: Cold. Cold?! A cold has now become a reason to cancel anything: A meeting, a coffee in town, an on-call, a fiftieth birthday party. And it’s always with the altruistic explanation: ‘I don’t want to infect others with my cold.;… The Covid-19 pandemic was an excellent exercise for future serious pandemics, but now the exercise is over and we can return to virus everyday life. Relax and embrace your cold! It shows that you are alive! Take two Alvedon, nasal spray and go to work. Cough on a colleague, sneeze on a friend, and sneeze on a child! (Because they still snitch on you.)” • The author is an ear, nose and throat doctor at Skåne University Hospital.

“Let me see your smile!” From DG, who writes: “Nancy the long-running comic strip [has] many surreal aspects. Nancy is almost always strange. Cultural criticism of smiles and the eye-smile relationship (if I may put it that way)”:

The road to stochastic eugenics:

The Jackpot

A small example of cascading disasters that interact:

* * *

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. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from May 8:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Indeed, a slight uptick. Still on the high plateau.

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.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 6, 2023. Here we go again:

Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 6:

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. 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.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, May 8:

Lambert here: Walgreens is back up (hat tip, alert reader ChrisRUEcon). Hoorary! (I assume this also means you can still get test kits at Walgreens. It looks like you can order free test kits until May 11. What happens after that is not clear to me. Readers? (I would also be very happy if the site continued live after May 11.)

Lambert here: 4%. That’s a lot. Though I don’t know how whether they reported, or are interpolating, the data from April 11, the last day I recorded, until today.


Death rate (Our World in Data), from April 30:

Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.

Total: 1,162,474 – 1,162,471 – 1,162,403 = 3 (2 * 365 = 730 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: 3 seems low.

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 9:

Lambert here: I don’t like sudden drops to zero much. The same thing also happened with the death rate data after WHO took over the feed.

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (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. )

• These two mortality sites seem to be telling very different stories, both from each other and from the Economist’s chart above. I’m not a mortality maven. Can readers clarify?

Mortality Watch (fjallstrom):

US Mortality (aleric):

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 4.9 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 303.363 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.”

* * *

Tech: “RIP Metaverse” [Business Insider]. “The Metaverse is now headed to the tech industry’s graveyard of failed ideas. But the short life and ignominious death of the Metaverse offers a glaring indictment of the tech industry that birthed it…. The Metaverse also suffered from an acute identity crisis. A functional business proposition requires a few things to thrive and grow: a clear use case, a target audience, and the willingness of customers to adopt the product. Zuckerberg waxed poetic about the Metaverse as “a vision that spans many companies” and “the successor to the mobile internet,” but he failed to articulate the basic business problems that the Metaverse would address. The concept of virtual worlds where users interact with each other using digital avatars is an old one, going back as far as the late 1990s with massively multiplayer online role-player games, such as “Meridian 59,” “Ultima Online,” and “EverQuest.” And while the Metaverse supposedly built on these ideas with new technology, Zuckerberg’s one actual product — the VR platform Horizon Worlds, which required the use of an incredibly clunky Oculus headset — failed to suggest anything approaching a road map or a genuine vision. In spite of the Metaverse’s arrested conceptual development, a pliant press published statements about the future of the technology that were somewhere between unrealistic and outright irresponsible. The CNBC host Jim Cramer nodded approvingly when Zuckerberg claimed that 1 billion people would use the Metaverse and spend hundreds of dollars there, despite the Meta CEO’s inability to say what people would receive in exchange for their cash or why anyone would want to strap a clunky headset to their face to attend a low-quality, cartoon concert.” • Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. So why do we think the money behind Generative AI is any smarter?

Tech: “Wendy’s Turns to AI-Powered Chatbots for Drive-Thru Orders” [Bloomberg]. From the deck: “Restaurant chains are pushing into AI to reduce labor costs.” • Everything’s going according to plan! And just wait until one of chatbots gets blasted by a not-entirely-gruntled ammosexual customer.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 10 at 1:37 PM.

Groves of Academe

“Jeff Ettinger, former Hormel Foods CEO, named UMN interim president” [Pioneer Press]. “The University of Minnesota Board of Regents picked an outsider over a crop of academics Monday in making former Hormel Foods CEO Jeff Ettinger the U’s next president on an interim basis…. ‘I just think we’re ready for a very different point of view that embraces the mission, yet brings us something fresh and different that we can build on,’ Regent Mary Davenport said. Ettinger, who ran for Congress last year, described himself in his application as a potential ‘bridge builderwith the U’s stakeholders.” • Lord knows I have no love for university administators, but is educating students really like canning spam?

Zeitgeist Watch


I used to live in Somerville, “the compost heap in back of Harvard Yard.” This is not Somerville.

Class Warfare

A really great thread from the script writer’s strike that shows how Hollywood really works at ground level. Worth reading in full:

It’s gonna be a long time before AI does any of that. Of course, that little problem can be solved by relentlessly crapifying the product; if your attitude is “Who needs continuity?” it follows you don’t need writers to produce it.

News of the Wired

UI/UX design:

Good stuff!

It’s only Hump Day but nevertheless:

* * *

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Lee writes: “Trees in silhouette, during and after a storm. Taken by my son from his window overlooking neighbors’ back yards.”

* * *

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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

    Well, a university is a business, just with a few classes attached, right? Maybe he’ll go to town on the administrators. I have collaborators at UMN. Should be interesting.

    1. Verifyfirst

      Well, Hormel knows quite a lot about union-busting, or did back in the day. I’m sure those skills would be welcomed by UM (one of my alma maters). When did they start using UMN? No “N” when I was there.

      1. johnnyme

        UMN started gaining traction as the internet and email took off (the University’s domain name is umn.edu).

    2. albrt

      Spam is a product of consistent quality with a clear use case. Not at all comparable to American higher education.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Ettinger would have been my member of Congress had he won either election (neither of which I felt motivated to vote in as the R seemed sincere while Ettinger seemed sincerely PMC-ish).

      Since retiring as Hormel’s CEO, he’s been running their Hormel Foundation so he’s not transitioning from spam to education but rather coming out of a philanthropic NGO which I find not at all comforting.

      HIs deep background is also troubling: “law clerk to Judge Arthur Alarcón of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.” Unless I’m mistaken, Alarcón spelled backwards is Nócrala, Dracula/Count Alucard’s cousin from Castilla-La Mancha, Spain.

      Not the guy who’s going to get me to vote again.

    4. herman_sampson

      Purdue University had opportunistic little sh!t Mitch Daniels, a seller of weed in college, Was OMB director and governor of Indiana, only a law degree (per wikipedia) – not an academic, but was still president of university. It helped he named all the trustees while governor.

  2. Tom Stone

    I’m glad to see the ADA approach to masking although I am not sure how to present that to the fine people at Memorial Hospital.
    I’m waiting for Medicare to approve Neurosurgery which will almost certainly require an overnight stay in the Hospital and it would be nice to leave without an HAI, this time.
    I’m classified as extreme risk from Covid as a Cancer survivor with heart problems, that part is easy.
    Getting a demand for appropriate treatment to the right Person at the Hospital is another matter.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Getting a demand for appropriate treatment to the right Person at the Hospital is another matter.

      Check the original Googledoc. I think they have sample letters you can adapt.

  3. Sub-Boreal

    Fossil fans will love this story.


    Discovering and developing a site like this takes a combination of luck and the right circumstances. Castle Bank is unusual among Burgess Shale-type faunas in several aspects: (a) the exposure is very restricted, being (so far) primarily a 20-cm-thick band of rock in a single small quarry; (b) the fossils are generally minute (often 1–3 mm), and many can only be identified with a microscope; (c) the fossils are also only clearly visible under good light conditions. All these features made finding the fauna extremely difficult, and explains why it took years for the importance of the site to become obvious!

    If we were employed as palaeontologists, none of this would likely have happened. Firstly, the type of exploratory fieldwork we can do here would never have received funding, and the initial discovery of the site was simply through knowing the local area, and automatically stopping to look at any new rocks. Collecting for 100 days over 2 or 3 years would also be impossible as an expedition, as good weather is vital for finding the fossils. The nature of the fossils (their tiny size, especially) means that we can’t work on an industrial scale: working through a fist-sized piece of the right bed is a slow process, and taking out large lumps of outcrop would only destroy the fossils through rapid weathering. This fieldwork is only really suited to people who live nearby and have flexible work.

    1. marku52

      My sister has a conodont named for her, she is another amateur (sort of, she is an ex oil geologist) doing field work on her own in Central Colorado. Again, little tiny things only identifiable under the microscope. She turns her finds in to a professor in Denver.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link which I have already bookmarked. This one looks like an article to read over a cup of coffee and study.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > lockdowns turned us into antisocial goblins

    so … increasingly pervasive precarity and other neoliberal innovations had nothing to do with it?

      1. Samuel Conner

        good points.

        One could argue that the world-wide consensus public health response to the CV, that contributed to the millions of deaths, is one of the “neoliberal innovations”. IIRC, one of the “rules” is “die faster”.

    1. CanCyn

      “There’s a major symptom of brain injury called anosognosia. It’s a deficit of self-awareness and insight into one’s own condition — the brain cannot perceive the damage done to it, so the patient is unaware that they have sustained an injury.” A medical statement of support of comedian Jim Jefferies’ line “Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. That’s what makes them crazy” From his gun control bit.
      Seriously though, I can think of a few people who I know who have had COVID who may be suffering from this problem based on some inexplicable, until today that is, behaviour.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        I seem to remember reading an axiom about dealing with hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and related medical issues at high altitude: “Listen to the symptoms, not the patient.”

        Not necessarily good advice in a normal medical setting, but helpful in circumstances where the medical condition itself impairs self-awareness/diagnosis.

        1. CanCyn

          My mom suffered a heart attack and a series of trans ischemic strokes and my Dad always insisted she was a different person after the strokes. No doctor ever mentioned this effect. Years after my Mom died, my Dad had a big stroke. He was never really the same but I always attributed it to depression from the many incapacities the stroke left him with. Again, anosognosia was never mentioned. Difficult to diagnose indeed but helpful for relatives to know about even if the patient can’t see it for themselves.

  5. Hepativore

    Honestly, at this point, a second term of Trump might be less damaging than a second term of Biden. I still would not vote for either, but Trump might be less willing to drag us into nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and Biden is probably not even the one making the decisions on a day-to-day basis because of Biden’s obvious cognitive decline, and a second Biden term would either mean president Harris, or whomever the puppetmaster is in Biden’s cabinet. A second Trump term would be like ripping the bandaid off to get it over with instead of the slow torture of pulling it gradually.

    The real question is, who will the new Republican bogeyman be for the DNC in 2028 with Trump being a lame duck president?

      1. albrt

        In the past I would not have considered voting for Trump, especially since my PMC acquaintances assured me that the morally pure act of voting third party was effectively the same as voting for the bad guy.

        This time I might try an experiment and vote for Trump to see if it really is the same.

        1. Hana M

          I live in MA and I plan on voting for Bobby Kennedy Jr in the primary and if it comes down to the general and it’s Trump v Biden or Trump v Harris (assuming an act of divine providence) my vote goes to Trump for the the same reasons.

        2. LifelongLib

          Yup, had a relative tell me that my voting Green in 2016 helped elect Trump. Actually it didn’t since Hillary got the electoral votes from my state anyway.

    1. Verifyfirst

      The (ok, “A”) problem with Trump a second time is he will have learned what all despots know–you have to have your people in place at the levers of power, THEN they will do your bidding. It’s no good having people who won’t follow your orders. And together with a Republican Congress, he could do serious damage.

        1. Verifyfirst

          Shall I reserve you a spot in the American gulag? As started with Guantanamo.

          1. pretzelattack

            the base that Obama didn’t close? Julian Assange could no doubt inform us more about gulags.

          2. Anthony Noel

            Umm, whose DOJ is rounding up Black Socialists? Is it the DNC or the RNC threatening journalists with jail for telling the truth in congressional hearings? Who is using lawfare against a political opponent? Oh that’s right Biden and the Dems…

  6. tevhatch

    Far-UVC sterilizing
    “Suggest” is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Interesting, it only kills the flora that is harmful and does nothing to all the flora we depend on for long term health (snark).

    1. Acacia

      Indeed. The abstract says: “… suggest that far‐UVC exposure may be safe for skin and eye tissue”, but the study only explores the effects on skin, and there’s nothing about eye tissue in the conclusions. It appears that the claim of safety w.r.t. eye tissue is drawn from three other, prior studies, which conclude that “far‐UVC wavelengths are absorbed primarily in the tear film”. Prior studies are somewhat more nuanced, e.g.:

      “Re‐Evaluation of Rat Corneal Damage by Short‐Wavelength UV Revealed Extremely Less Hazardous Property of Far‐UV‐C”
      doi: 10.1111/php.13419

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    ” I know filters work and are no risk.”

    I’m not so sure about that, Lambert. All that clean, filtered air could put our precious hybrid immunity at risk. You know the old saying: a virus a day keeps the doctor away.

    Canning spam–

    Nearly sixty years ago, Mario Savio identified the university president as a CEO and the students as the product.

    1. Samuel Conner

      To be fair, Hormel also makes a decent pepperoni — at least by the perhaps questionable standards of this DIY pizza maker — though I personally prefer Bridgeford.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Even Mario Silvio could not see the future consequences of crapification of products and services. Give another sixty years and you will have university graduates that cannot functionally write or read and certainly not think.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > university graduates that cannot functionally write or read and certainly not think.

        “Good subjects must feel guilty. The guilt begins as a feeling of failure. The good autocrat provides many opportunities for failure in the populace.” –Frank Herbert

        1. The Rev Kev

          That’s a disturbing quote that. Guilt, like jealousy, is centered in fear and to deliberately place that at the core of who a people are can really screw with their minds and make them behave irrationally. Sort of like what is happening right now.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          Or as every professional interrogator knows, “Everyone is guilty of something.”

  8. Carolinian

    Re 5 million–pocket change for a “billionaire.” Btw Tucker’s salary keeps inflating in news reports. First it was 12 million, then 20 million per year and this morning’s Daily Mail says 25 million. It could be that news reports on wealth and salary are unreliable?

    1. Glen

      I’m pretty sure that $5M would completely wipe out my immediate family and all living relatives on both sides of the family, but yeah, pocket change for our American elites.

      Looks like our betters are going to drag Trump into court as much as possible. I’m not sure that’s going to actually dissuade the voters all that much – might even give him some appeal as the only “real outsider” (now, that’s pretty strange thing to say about an ex-president!)

      Can we treat every American billionaire like Trump? I’m pretty sure he’s not the worst of the lot.

      1. Hepativore

        The PMC and liberal elite are making Trump their own worst enemy as constantly trying to drag him through frivolous legal cases is only going to make him more powerful, i.e. they are only going to make him into a martyr in the eyes of the MAGA crowd and the politically-unaligned.

        1. semper loquitur

          Agreed. My PMC adjacent, but not totally absorbed, circle of friends has trouble understanding this point, at least the ones I’ve discussed it with. But Trump is wrong about this or that! No sense of the mythopoeic dimension of the man and how every bullet he dodges adds to it.

  9. Tom Stone

    An anecdote about “Hate Crime” and punishment.
    This occurred about 2 years after I had been hit head on by a drunk driver, I’m been working with Jane Brown ( I saw her perform “Medea” on her 75th Birthday, it was magnificent) for several weeks and was making real progress, enough that I thought I could make it to the corner store and back on foot, about 400 yards each way.
    It was a lovely Sunday afternoon a little before 2 PM, The Oxycontin, Soma, Fluoribruprofen and a bowl of Cannabis from the first Dispensary ever ( On Church St in SF) were peaking so I gave it a shot, moving as smoothly and carefully as I could.
    I was within a hundred yards of the store and passing a “U” shaped parking lot to a single level apartment complex with a planting of Juniper separating the drive way when I heard loud footsteps and a man shouting “This is for Rodney King”.
    I started to pivot on my left foot because my right leg wouldn’t support my weight when the first roundhouse kick hit me in the Kidneys instead of the base of my spine.
    That knocked my glasses off and I staggered in a circle and saw a foot coming toward my throat.
    I moved back enough that when the kick connected it did not crush my throat and a couple of the dude’s friends grabbed him and pulled him off of me.
    The polaroid I still have shows the bruise clearly, i was unable to swallow solid food for 4 days and pissed blood for 3.
    I picked up my glasses, walked to the store and was stupid enough to walk back the same way.
    And this time he came at me with a 4′ long steel pipe.
    He was drunk and a little off balance and the adrenaline still in my system helped me move, that’s the first disarm I learned so I ended up with the pipe and once again his friends grabbed him and I tossed the pipe away.
    I walked home, talked to my room mate and called the cops who took a report and drove by where I had been attacked without seeing my assailant.
    My room mate was an old friend, a shop steward in the Ironworkers Union and a serious martial artist so after the Cop reported no luck we went looking ourselves and there he was, leaning against the wall of a liquor store brown bag in hand.
    So, back home, call the Cops and they grabbed him.
    Assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement and public drunkenness.
    Pled down to simple assault, sentenced to 90 days, served 45 days and then 6 Month Probation.
    That’s how the system works.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Sorry, Tom but that’s not a system that works in any way.

      Glad you’re still here.
      Keep on keeping on.

  10. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some orts and scraps. (After a weekend where I have to do an open thread I always manage to accumulate a ton of stuff I then have to get to starting Tuesday. So I’m still working through a backlog and there’s a lot of good stuff.

    And I fixed the duplicate tweet on “anosognosia.” That’s an important, albeit highly speculative, story to follow.

    1. fjallstrom

      I wrote a longish comment on yesterday’s water cooler (with links and all) regarding mortality graphs. The short version is that I think the main difference is that you are using ASMR instead of Excess deaths.

  11. flora

    Re: “Let me see your smile!”

    I always enjoyed the Nancy cartoon. I also thought Nancy and Sluggo were 2 little black kids, based on the drawings and hair styles. They were just like all us little kids, even us non-black kids. Could it be the old Nancy cartoon readied a younger generation for the Civil Rights movement in the 50s-60s? Nah, that’s obviously a step too far. heh. / ymmv.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    “… is educating students really like canning Spam?”

    Gotta move product, baby!

    1. Lee

      IIRC, it was Noam Chomsky who once described much of the current function of institutions of higher learning as “aging vats”.

      1. John

        Was I deluded or were ‘institutions of higher learning’ not “aging vats” in the 1950s when I was young and naive and sort of idealistic and learned a lot of stuff just for the hell of it and because I was and am curious about practically everything, except micro-economics, which I thought then and even worse now a titanic bore? (On the other hand, Michael Hudson economics at not at all boring.) We, in the 50s, may have been the much denigrated “Silent Generation” … never really understood that moniker … but we talked too much to pay attention to what others later thought of us. I think of my cohort as the just a bit too young for WW II or Korea, but growing up amid war, rumors of war, and then the Vietnam War pretty well cured me of any notion that war was a solution for much of anything especially since we still seem to be dealing with our civil war and with fascism and with Nazism.

        My sisters and I were the first ones in our family to go to college. Two of us turned out to be teachers so I guess we didn’t get degrees to have high paying jobs.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > it was Noam Chomsky who once described much of the current function of institutions of higher learning as “aging vats”.

          Both my parents taught at the university level. They were tough, their students loved them, and they most certainly were not running “aging vats.”

          I doubt they would have been permitted to advance to tenure level in today’s university. They would have been shunted aside, or out.

        2. Robert Gray

          > We, in the 50s, may have been the much denigrated “Silent Generation” … never really
          > understood that moniker … just a bit too young for WW II or Korea …

          I, a very late, tailgate, boomer (1961), have long referred to you lot as the Elvis Generation. :-)

          (Actually, I’ve never understood how kids born as late as 1960 could be considered boomers at all.)

  13. Jason Boxman

    Because of crapified software, I thought this might be interesting to share: The Market for Lemons

    He’s interviewed on the JS Party podcast, and while I don’t usually ever do podcasts, I’ve been trying to multitask while walking to learn something. Anyway. I only made it half way through, but the gist of it seems to be that, execs and product managers don’t have any idea what the typical user uses a web site on, so that’s why in part so many customer experiences suck. The execs all have the latest iPhone, while customers might have a junk old Android that was badly spec’d to begin with. So the experience is laggy, takes forever to load, and so on.

    I’ve always figured this was the case for native desktop software, too, where the developers probably have dual 15,27,32,whatever monitors depending on the decade, and I have some junk old school desktop with 1 monitor at a low resolution, and a slow hard drive and not enough RAM, because it’s what I can afford. So the experience ends up being garbage.

    Translated to the web!

    This information asymmetry persists; the worst actors still haven’t levelled with their communities about what it takes to operate complex JS stacks at scale. They did not signpost the delicate balance of engineering constraints that allowed their products to adopt this new, slow, and complicated tech. Why? For the same reason used car dealers don’t talk up average monthly repair costs.

    The market for lemons depends on customers having less information than those selling shoddy products. Some who hyped these stacks early on were earnestly ignorant, which is forgivable when recognition of error leads to changes in behaviour. But that’s not what the most popular frameworks of the last decade did.

    Then we have the whole “single page application” paradigm, which basically means sticking basically an entire backend server up in your frontend interface, and handling all the page loading and routing client side, because reasons. Instead of leveraging the existing web standards, which have done all this in the browser for you, for free, since 1995. Because JavaScript.

    The JavaScript ecosystem is really a complete mess.

  14. Val

    Perhaps, by not attending, many anti-social goblins are choosing against exposure to the stale miasma of barely-recycled flatulence that characterizes today’s academic conferences? Asking for a (sophisticated and vaxx-injured) friend who is afraid to do so.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the stale miasma of barely-recycled flatulence

      That’s hardly fair. Flatulence does not transmit viruses. I mean, not that we know of. So, on the bright side, there’s an unexplored evolutionary pathway for Covid!

  15. Lee

    Re plantidote:

    There is a second photo, “after the storm”. The colors, particularly in contrast to the “during the storm photo” are quite lovely. Maybe it will get posted tomorrow. One lives in hope.


  16. Angie Neer

    On UX/UI laws: I deeply respect Jakob Nielsen (of “Jakob’s Law”) and his company the Norman/Nielsen group, because not only do they have great advice about usability, they take ethics seriously (https://www.nngroup.com/search/?q=ethics). I’m not in the business, but I subscribe to their weekly newsletter just because I’ve always been interested in computer usability. And though it may not be obvious, that can be an ethical minefield in this age of everything being online.

    1. Revenant

      I thought that UX/UI article was terrible. UX supposedly means user experience. Where is the webdesign Cnut who will show his followers that experience is like the tide, it is what happens anyway? You provide the user interface, I will have the experience….

      Most of those design laws are self-justifications for crappy status update patterns (your linkedin profile is 80% complete, just add a picture) that want to nudge people into doing Big Web’s bidding. It takes a lot if willpower to install Windows 10 and refuse to complete all the tasks!

      I would like user experience nagware and dark patterns to get out of the way and let me drive my software in peace! I will use it how I want. Removing choices to force MD to take an action I don’t want is not good design. Instead designers prioritise their objectives, for controlled user behaviour, not the user’s empowerment.

      It all seems very fitting to discuss in the same post as the Chomsky aging vats. :-)

  17. Brunches with Cats

    Re: Hate Crime Incident hotline

    So what if someone (presumably has to be a California resident) were to call the hotline to report the hate incident of name-calling a journalist a “sleazy dating coach” and the deep trauma of witnessing* bias-driven hatred so vile and unhinged as to promote the arrest at gunpoint of said journalist for exercising “Our Democracy’s” sacred First Amendment rights, and then to gloat with others sharing their biases over a deeply disturbing video posted online (likely by one of them)? Witnessing such events can cause fear, mistrust of authority, isolation, and other symptoms of PTSD. Surely, there will be a “culturally competent,” “trauma-informed” professional who can assure that the caller will have “access to” support?

    * No requirement, as far as I can tell, that the witness has to have seen the event in person.

  18. Glen

    “Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy, or of a collective death-wish for the world.”

    Well, that must be a quote from some Russian/China loving cretin!

    President John F. Kennedy’s “Peace Speech”

    American University speech

  19. XXYY

    How lockdowns turned us into antisocial goblins – and why it matters

    I have worked at home the past three plus years, something I had not done previously in my long career. Now, my employer is struggling to get people to come back to the office, and having uneven success, including with me.

    I found that I enjoyed solitary work much more than I expected I would. I can only conclude at this point that the idea of spending every day working in close proximity to others in a workplace is something that has been drummed into us in school and work, not something that we authentically gravitated to because we are all inherently social creatures or whatever.

    A few other points:

    (o) People are obviously going to vary widely in their need for interaction. Those in my profession (software engineering) are well known for their generally antisocial and hermit-like dispositions.

    (o) Many professions (sales, public speaking) by definition take place in a social setting and require others in close proximity.

    (o) Much of the activity that takes place in the modern workplace is largely or a complete waste of time, and having a few years off from it was helpful in making that plain.

    (o) Senior corporate executives seem strangely invested in the idea of “getting everyone back to the office.” I find this hard to understand since one would think the financial incentives would run the other direction and that getting rid of huge expensive office spaces would be a strong inducement to keeping the pandemic status quo. Mid-level executives, while dutifully carrying out the return to work program, seem generally mystified about why the company is doing it.

    1. Art Vandalay

      Never underestimate the extent of the narcissist’s desire for an audience, and the intoxicating power of being able to command PMC to slog through commutes to listen to the narcissist’s profound utterances. The alternative for the narcissist working from home is that his wife (b/c the narcissist in corporate America is usually a “he”) is sick of him, his kids make fun of him or stay away from home, and the dog’s response to the narcissist’s profound utterances is to lick himself.

      Plus, when everyone is working from home and the company performs just fine, the narcissist is left to contemplate whether he “adds value.”

  20. Wukchumni

    Kevin can wait
    And a caucus of freedom wrapped up in his part
    Will take him through the lonely night
    Through the cold of the day

    And I know, I know
    Kevin can wait
    And all the GOP’s come down here just to sing for he
    And the melody is gonna make the deal fly
    Without pain, without fear

    Give me all of your far right wing dreams
    And let me go alone on who gets the pay
    Give me all of your prayers to sing
    And I’ll turn the night into the skylight of day

    I’ve got a taste of Speakers’ Corner
    I’m never gonna let it slip away
    I got a taste of paradise
    That’s all I really need to make me stay
    Just like a child again

    Kevin can wait
    And all he’s got is time until the end of May time
    Well, he won’t look back, he won’t look back
    Let the deal on its own shine

    And I know that I’ve been rehearsed
    But I don’t know to where
    Nobody’s gonna tell me now
    And I don’t really care, no, no, no
    I’ve got a taste of paradise
    It’s all I really need to make me stay
    I got a taste of paradise
    If I had it any sooner, you know
    You know I never wouldn’t have needed 15 attempts to sway

    Kevin can wait
    And all he’s got is time until the end of May time
    Well, he won’t look back, he won’t look back
    Let the debt devil in the details shine

    Kevin can wait
    Ah, Kevin can wait
    Well, he won’t look back, he won’t look back
    Let the debt devil in the details shine
    Let the debt devil in the details shine

    Heaven Can Wait, by Meatloaf


  21. griffen

    Wendy’s drive-through locations, soon to be staffed with an AI voice that sounds an awful, awful lot like the Fassbender character David from Promotheus. Voice over opportunities !!

    Welcome to Wendy’s thank you for patronizing this location. How may I best serve you?
    I wanna Frosty, a small diet coke and a, what, large fry.
    I am sorry, does that complete your order?
    No I ain’t finished. Gimme a sec.
    Please advance your vehicle to the first window, and have payment ready.
    I said I ain’t finit with the order, man.
    Thank you, that will be $14.97. Please do try harder when placing an order. We thank you in advance for your next visitation at our physical facility.


      1. griffen

        I can vouch for the broad differences between coastal North Carolina (since there is reference, to Ocracoke Island) and the western regions of NC. Then you quickly morph into the dialect of northeastern Tennessee, where I still have some distant cousins. Yeah it’s pretty broad, hard to exactly pin each segment down, and that covers one state I know best and the other is just a slice of what I know.

        Then you get gradually bigger differences in deep south portions of the US, such as Alabama, MS and Louisiana. I’ve had to work on reducing my own southern drawl a little, to say the least.

  22. Hana M

    I have successfully received a medical ADA exemption in a different context. I would suggest the broadest possible language. For example do not specify Covid, say rather something along the following: “I have recently received a bone marrow transplant and I am on drugs that suppress my immune system. I am therefore extremely vulnerable to viral, bacterial and fungal infections potentially transmitted even from people who are healthy. My physicians recommend that those with whom I come in close contact to be fully masked with an N95….”

  23. Louiedog14

    Somerville hasn’t been Somerville for a long, long time. I’ll date myself by saying that when I knew Somerville, the 3 most important places in Metro Boston were Newbury Comics (the original – for the records), The Channel nightclub and Out of Town News.

    On E. Jean Carroll: I’d wager that violence against women is a far larger and more pernicious problem than is the Trumpster. It is important to recognize how fraught the process of accusing a powerful man of a sexual crime is for the accuser. As such, I’m strongly inclined to believe women. I’ll be a bit miffed if I find the politically motivated are messing about with this issue.

    1. jhallc

      When they started requiring resident parking stickers 15-20 years ago, like Cambridge next door, I knew it was all over.

      1. petal

        I used to walk from Porter Sq through Somerville up to St. Catherine of Siena church up the hill there. Houses started selling for more and more, they’d get fixed up yuppie nice, the religious garden statues started disappearing from my route. That’s how I could tell things were starting to change. This was almost 20 years ago, 2001-2004ish.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the 3 most important places in Metro Boston were Newbury Comics (the original – for the records), The Channel nightclub and Out of Town News.


  24. Jason Boxman

    Fun times, man. We can trust BioNTech.

    Tailoring vaccines to mutated proteins found only on cancer cells, though, potentially helped provoke stronger immune responses and opened new avenues for treating any cancer patient, said Ira Mellman, vice president of cancer immunology at Genentech, which developed the pancreatic cancer vaccine with BioNTech.


    The same organization doing science by press release; Do we get to see the study, I wonder? And given how quickly they did these individualized shots, why is it they can’t keep up with SARS-COV-2 variants? So confusing. I guess at 100k per shot, this is much more lucrative?

  25. Wukchumni

    Phoenix Dismantles a Homeless Encampment, One Block at a Time
    The city on Wednesday began moving hundreds of people out of “the Zone,” spread over several blocks downtown, but some homeless people worry about where they will go.

    Fresno did this about 6 or 7 years ago, there was one heck of a homeless jungle over by the warehouse district and the city burghers decided to roust them all out, Raus!

    They ended up all over Fresno as a result, whoops.

  26. Adam

    I’d love to know exactly what types of organizations those ADA statutes cover. I’m a government worker who has not physically been called back into the office, and I’d love to at least be able to request universal masking when we are pulled back in. I do see in the linked document that someone has previously requested it for schools (the document just notes it was “considered” and not what actually happened).

  27. fjallstrom

    Regarding “Go to work with a cold – cough on a colleague”, I think it confirms what I have suspected. The two years of paying people to stay home if they have a cold has had a lasting effect in societal norms.

    Though I differ with the author in thinking that is a good thing.

  28. Jason Boxman

    Biden’s latest ad:

    Reelect doddering fool Joe Biden to finish what he started, his nap!

    I’m sold!

  29. david

    I wonder if anyone is thinking about a ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ approach for the training required for large language models? Mislabeling text, pictures, etc. in the training set? One can hope!

  30. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: RIP Metaverse:

    Who writes this stuff? “The concept of virtual worlds where users interact with each other using digital avatars is an old one, going back as far as the late 1990s“.

    It goes a lot father back than that, and even for the semi-educated children writing for Business Insider these days, I’d suggest they look into Vernor Vinge’s 1981 work, True Identities.

    1. ambrit

      Go even farther back to Phil Dick’s 1964 book; “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.”
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Stigmata_of_Palmer_Eldritch
      Not only does Dick explore the idea of humans inhabiting “alternate realities,” but he also links it to the ‘moderne’ trend of the financialization and commodification of existence. All of these “Disruptive Advances” require payment, in kind and in cash.
      The usually unspoken corollary of “The dogs are not eating the dogfood,” is that less ‘Dogfood'(TM) is being sold. No profit to be made any more.
      Follow the money.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

        Advertising (!!) executive Leo Bulero:

        “Of course I’m back. I built myself a stairway to here. Aren’t you going to answer as to why you didn’t do anything? I guess not. But as you say, you weren’t needed. I’ve now got an idea of what this new Chew-Z substance is like… The worst aspect is the solipsistic quality. With Can-D you undergo a valid interpersonal experience, in that the others in your hovel are…” He paused irritably.

        “What is it, Miss Fugate? What are you staring at?” Roni Fugate murmured, “I’m sorry, Mr. Bulero, but there’s a creature under your desk.”

        Bending, Leo peered under the desk.

        A thing had squeezed itself between the base of the desk and the floor; its eyes regarded him greenly, un­winking.

        It scuttled out and made for the door. It was even worse than the glucks. He got one good look at it.
        Leo said, “Well, that’s that. I’m sorry, Miss Fugate, but you might as well return to your office; no point in our discussing what actions to take toward the im­minent appearance of Chew-Z on the market. Because I’m not talking to anyone; I’m sitting here blabbing away to myself.”

        Dick can be genuinely frightening in a way no other SF author can (not that other writers aren’t frightening, but the banal, deadpan quality of Dick’s prose is unbeatable. “He got one good look at it.”

  31. Jay Ess

    I don’t trust the UV yet either. That’s great that it doesn’t give you skin cancer within a year, but then again, neither does routine sun exposure, right? It can take years or decades for damage to accumulate. Still, COVID is killing several time more people annually than skin cancer does, and skin cancer treatment is likely to only get better in our lifetimes…

  32. upstater

    The Railway Safety Act of 2023 was voted out of senate committee. It appears the railroad industry has eliminated restrictions on train length (reported this morning) . Long trains with empty cars in front and heavy loads in the rear have been a proximate cause of many recent derailments.

    Railway Safety Act advances out of committee

    I wuz wrong! I believed serious legislation would have resulted from East Palestine. Lobbyists have earned their fees, apparently.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It appears the railroad industry has eliminated restrictions on train length

      Was that the trade for more highly regulated brake systems, I wonder?

  33. britzklieg

    …so you don’t have to: Trump is being Trump on CNN, and no one does it better. No surprises or apologies. Lots of one liners. Undaunted. He’s got the act down pat.

    What I can’t imagine is Biden handling a similar grilling with even a hint of the coherence and energy which Trump displays.

    And so it will never happen. Yet I’m unconvinced the DNC can afford to hide its candidate this time.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > What I can’t imagine is Biden handling a similar grilling …

      No one’s going to grill him, though … is anyone from CNN going to bring up Tara Reade, for example?

      The Dems are caught between a rock and a hard place of their own making
      • Try to usurp Biden and they violate their tribal virtue “unity”
      • Leave Biden in place and they suffer the consequences of having an unpopular gerontocrat run against a fauxervative populist – hence the the all out blitz against Trump.

    2. Pat

      Joe wasn’t even capable of that coherence and vitality in 2020. Nothing will convince me that Joe wasn’t supposed to go quietly after one term and leave office by the end of this summer, leaving President Kamala to run as the incumbent but still be eligible for two terms starting in 2024. But two things happened, Kamala didn’t shine as VP, in fact she was embarrassing and Joe never intended to step down, no matter what his agreement was.

      It may still happen, there is no lockdown and even a compliant press is finding it increasingly difficult to mask Biden’s increasing decline. But by the time the Bidens accept that Joe needs to go, there may not be any DNC room to manufacture a top donor acceptable replacement. It is a long time to the general, but the primaries are getting closer every day.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      I watched too, and Trump has not lost a step since 2020. On the other hand, Biden’s deterioration continues before our eyes, even though we can no longer see his eyes. Also illustrative of the Democrats’ problem was the Oval Office scene yesterday with ancient and sickly looking old men, Biden, Schumer and McConnell, contrasted with a much younger McCarthy.

      Lots of time before 2024, but right now the most likely outcome looks like Republicans will control Congress, the courts and the White House just as they did in ’17.

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