2:00PM Water Cooler 5/11/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Little Nightjar, Santa Rosa de la Roca, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Night sounds, too.

* * *


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


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Kaitlan Collins Interviews Former President Donald Trump in CNN’S Republican Presidential Town Hall” (transcript) [CNN]. Took forever to dig this out; the press seems to believe I want to know what they say Trump said, instead of what Trump said. Some snippets:

COLLINS: Do you want Ukraine to win this war?

TRUMP: I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled, so stop killing all these people and breaking down these (inaudible).


COLLINS: What are your — can I just follow-up on that? You said you don’t think in terms of winning or losing.

TRUMP: One of things you have to do is you have to get the — you have to get —


COLLINS: Mr. President, can I just follow-up on that? Because that’s a really important statement that you just made there.

TRUMP: Excuse me, let me just follow up.

COLLINS: Can you say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?

TRUMP: I want everybody to stop dying. They’re dying. Russians and Ukrainians, I want them to stop dying.


And I’ll have that done –I’ll have that done in 24 hours. I’ll have it done. You need the power of the presidency to do it.

Collins seemed to think her question was a real zinger. It wasn’t. Now, given that the United States is not agreement-capable, 24 hours seems a little optimistic. But nobody can say that, not even Trump! More on Ukraine:

COLLINS: Do you believe Putin is a war criminal? He’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of men and women and civilians.


TRUMP: Well, I think this — I think it’s something that it should be discussed now, it should be discussed later. Because right now, we have to get a war — if you say he’s a war criminal, it’s going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to get this thing stop. If he’s going to be a war criminal where people are going to grab him and execute him, he’s going to fight a lot harder than he’s fighting under the other circumstance. That’s something to be discussed at a later day.

COLLINS: Isn’t it important to call it what it is?

TRUMP: Right now, we want to get that war settled. And I’m not talking about the money either, I’m talking about all the lives that are being — the number of people being killed in that war is far greater than you are hearing.

Well, at least we know that Trump is saner than Tony Blinken. Of course, that’s a low bar. Interestingly, a ton of pearl-clutching about the Presidential Records Act, nothing at all on Covid. Here’s an exchange on The Economy:

RIEGER: My question is regarding the economy. Over the past two years, we have seen the prices for everything skyrocket from food to gas to utilities and insurance costs. Many people’s bills are up several hundred dollars a month, including mine. If elected president again, what is the first thing you would do to help bring down the cost to make things more affordable?

TRUMP: Drill, baby, drill.


TRUMP: We are going to make it happen. Well, we were energy independent. We were soon going to be energy dominant and nobody had ever done what I did.

We got oil down to $1.87. Actually, it fell lower than that in some cases, we had to save the oil companies the price was getting so — we were doing incredibly. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country, probably the greatest economy in the history of the world.

We were energy independent, soon to be energy dominant. We will get to be bigger than Russia and Saudi Arabia put together times two.

We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other nation, any other nation. And these stupid fools ended it and energy went from $1.87 and even lower for gasoline for a car, they went from $1.87 to five, six, seven, eight and even nine dollars.

And your electricity bills went through the roof, your heating bills went through the roof. And that’s what started inflation and it hasn’t stopped because people are paying now for bacon and for eggs two and three times what it was just a little while ago. We created the greatest economy in history.

A big part of that economy was what got you the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country, bigger than the Reagan cuts, bigger than any —


TRUMP: And also, Kaitlan, also, as you know, we got the biggest regulation and regulatory cuts.

This place was rocking, and then we were given a gift from China and China paid a big price. And let me tell you something, I took in hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes from China. But prior to COVID coming in, and then I rebuilt the economy again a second time.

But we had prior to COVID coming in from China, from Wuhan, which I said it came from Wuhan. Everybody says, oh, you’re wrong about that. You’re wrong.

It came from Wuhan. I said it right from day one.

So we had the greatest economy in the world. Here is a story. They made energy so high and energy is all invasive. It is massive as an industry and as a cost. It lifted everything.

If you made donuts —

He never did get to finish the donut riff, sadly. Trump seems to be in fine fettle, to me. DeSantis better watch out….

“CNN’s Trump Forum Was a Bracing Preview of Political Coverage to Come” [New York Times]. “Even Mr. Trump looked stumped when Ms. Collins asked, succinctly, “Do you want Ukraine to win this war?” (He would not give a straight answer.)” • Trump absolutely gave a straight answer (as you can see above).

“Shame on CNN for That Naked, Cynical Play for Fox Viewers” [The New Republic]. • It’s almost like the PMC think that CNN is a component of the Democrat Party, instead of being a business. What’s wrong with attracting viewers?

“Tonight is the first primary of 2024” [Politico]. Well, no it’s not, because in a primary there are voters. More: “Depending on his performance, the event will provide either the catalytic effect of an early state victory or serve as the destabilizing influence necessary to dislodge him from frontrunner status. For starters, we’ll discover the limits of his newly professionalized campaign. His political operation is better organized, and more tactical and forward-thinking than his previous two presidential bids. Is Trump a more disciplined candidate who can operate within that structure?” • It would be interesting to get some actual reporting. So far as I can tell, the press has its brains so broken they can’t do that anymore.

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.

* * *

“Democratic donors hope to recruit NBA legends Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade to run for Senate in Florida” [NBC]. • We can’t deliver, so let’s run a celebrity.

“Manchin attacked EPA’s new rules. They could cost him millions” [Politico]. “The West Virginia Democrat vowed to oppose President Joe Biden’s EPA nominees because the agency’s rules being proposed Thursday could push coal- and gas-fired power plants ‘out of existence,’ he said. The risk to one plant, in particular, could jeapordize a lucrative source of money for Manchin. His family business Enersystems Inc. delivers waste coal to the Grant Town power plant, a financially struggling coal facility near Manchin’s hometown that he has spent much of his political career protecting…. Last year, Manchin earned $537,000 from Enersystems, according to financial disclosure records he filed with the Senate. He has been paid more than $5 million by the company since being elected to the Senate in 2010. The Grant Town plant is the main facility to receive coal from Manchin’s family business. Enersystems is now run by Manchin’s son, Joe Manchin IV.” • Can’t somebody just buy the dude to shut him up?


“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

“Covid-19 Patients Flung Out Hospital Windows As Public Emergency Ends” [The Onion]. • The Onion, on point as usual (that is the helpful part).

Covid Is Airborne

Transportation ventilation strategies:

“Air Distribution — Fans, Personal HEPA Filters, Plexiglass & Short Range Transmission” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. “You can supply clean air to a space, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be breathing it in. It’s possible the air will never make it into their breathing zone. Air distribution deals with how well that clean air is supplied throughout the space. It can also refer to issues of dead-spots — places within the zone where the air is not well mixed and the concentration of pollutants is higher. While there are different types of air distribution systems, the vast majority are mixing ventilation systems and consequently, I will be dealing with mixing ventilation systems in this post. The goal is for all the clean air and pollutants to be evenly distributed throughout the space. If this doesn’t happen, the concentration of pollutants will be higher in some parts of the space and they will pose an increased risk to anyone located there.” • This is a great blog, and this post is well worth a read. What I wish I had was a simple, simple checklist of how to assess the air distribution in a room. For example, fans are good. Readers?

I don’t aim the “gasper” at my face; I aim it away from me, to blow air away. If anybody is coughing, I aim it at them. Can readers comment? (Buses have gaspers, too; I do the same.)


Mask victory #1, Stanford Long Covid study:


Of course, the Daily Mail story (“Angry long Covid patients abandon Stanford Medicine study on infection after staff stop wearing masks around them: ‘It’s frankly abhorrent, selfish behavior‘”) might have had something to do with it. (This is an unspoken reason the PMC hates Twitter; the Mail story, and stories like it, would never happen without Twitter.)

Mask victory #2, MGH:

We’re not the Daily Mail, but we did post on this three days ago. MGH simply removed the ban on asking staff to mask. It would have been better if they affirmatively stated that patients should make such a request. Further, the requirement to wear an MGH “Baggy Blue” over your own mask is still in place. Not only could that break the seal on your own mask, infecting you, it shows that the MGH Infection Control Unit actually knows nothing whatever about masks:

So, if you use a duckbill, you’ve got to crush it so MGH administrators feel good.

Do note that this is a small victory. The real goal should be to leverage the ADA to enforce universal masking. The People’s CDC material we published yesterday shows how.

Never surrender!

* * *

Nose hack for dental appointments:

* * *


Perhaps. But the medical appliance look needs to be replaced, or monkey-wrenched. (Masks, even non-woven masks, are fabric. Is there nothing that can be done?)

* * *

Useful analogies (1):

Useful analogies (2):

Testing and Tracking

“COVID cancels Thursday’s performances of Tina Turner musical” [Star Tribune]. • Celebrity sightings might be one of the few reliable metrics we have left, if anybody’s aggregating the data.

“Breath analysis by ultra-sensitive broadband laser spectroscopy detects SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Journal of Breath Research]. “We investigated breath detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection using cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy (CE-DFCS), a state-of-the-art laser spectroscopic technique capable of a real-time massive collection of broadband molecular absorption features at ro-vibrational quantum state resolution and at parts-per-trillion volume detection sensitivity. Using a total of 170 individual breath samples (83 positive and 87 negative with SARS-CoV-2 based on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests), we report excellent discrimination capability for SARS-CoV-2 infection with an area under the receiver-operating-characteristics curve of 0.849(4). Our results support the development of CE-DFCS as an alternative, rapid, non-invasive test for COVID-19 and highlight its remarkable potential for optical diagnoses of diverse biological conditions and disease states.” • Or, ya know, you could use sniffer dogs.


“High Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Infection Despite High Seroprevalence, Sweden, 2022” [Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC]. The Abstract: “We performed 2 surveys during 2022 to estimate point prevalences of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with overall viral seroprevalence in Sweden. Point prevalence was 1.4% in March and 1.5% in September. Estimated seroprevalence was >80%, including among unvaccinated children. Continued SARS-CoV-2 surveillance is necessary for detecting emerging, possibly more pathogenic variants.” • How’s that herd immunity workin’ out for ya?


“Omicron Spike confers enhanced infectivity and interferon resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in human nasal tissue” (preprint) [medRxiv]. “nlike earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2, Omicron enters nasal cells independently of serine transmembrane proteases and instead relies upon matrix metalloproteinases to catalyze membrane fusion. This entry pathway unlocked by Omicron Spike enables evasion of interferon-induced factors that restrict SARS-CoV-2 entry following attachment. Therefore, the increased transmissibility exhibited by Omicron in humans may be attributed not only to its evasion of vaccine-elicited adaptive immunity, but also to its superior invasion of nasal epithelia and resistance to the cell-intrinsic barriers present therein.” • Obviously, to keep the pandemic rolling, we’ve got to suppress nasal vaccines, which the Biden administration is doing very successfully. In the meantime, work those nasal sprays, both preventive and “morning after”!


“EXCLUSIVE: Inside UK’s first Long Covid clinic as 400,000 Brits left needing specialist care” [The Mirror (!!!!)]. The deck: “Figures show there are around two million people suffering a range of ailments from severe fatigue to brain fog, and many have stopped work.”

“Long-Term Consequences of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” [International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health]. Meta-analysis. From the Abstract: “We searched observational cohort studies that described the long-term health effects of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections…. Five studies involving a total of 1643 cases, including 597 cases of asymptomatic and 1043 cases of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection were included in this meta-analysis…. Our results suggested that there were long-term effects of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, such as loss of taste or smell, fatigue, cough and so on. However, the risk of developing long-term symptoms in asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infected persons was significantly lower than those in symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection cases.”

Elite Maleficence

“How to fortify the U.S. against the next pandemic” [Amy Maxmen, WaPo] I can’t break the paywall on this, and its not in the Wayback machine, but somehow Google has the high points:

And above all: No Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions!!!

* * *

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? UPDATE Something’s going on, because the date remains 5/8, but the difference percentage is now 5.4% (up).

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: 1,162,662 – 1,162,471,162,403 = 188 (188 * 365 = 68,620 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 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 22 thousand to 264 thousand on the week ending May 6th, the most since October 2021, and well above market expectations of 245 thousand. The result emphasized a batch of recent data that points to the softening of the US labor market, caving to a prolonged series of aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”

Inflation: “United States Producer Prices Final Demand Less Foods and Energy MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Core producer prices in the United States increased by 0.2% over a month in April 2023, matching market estimates, after a revised flat reading in the prior month. On a yearly basis, core consumer prices rose by 3.2% in April, the least since March 2021 and below market expectations of 3.3%.”

* * *

Tech: “Axios Finish Line: Kids use AI more than their parents” [Axios]. “Only 30% of parents say they’ve used ChatGPT, compared with 58% of students between the ages of 12 and 18. Kids are talking about the tech more, too. Only 30% of parents have heard a lot about ChatGPT, compared with 54% of students. Kids are also using AI without their parents’ knowledge, the survey found. 50% of students report using ChatGPT for school, while just 26% of parents say their kids have used it for school.” • A nice combination of gullibility and pragmatism.

Tech: “Mind-reading technology has arrived” [Vox]. “With the help of AI, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a technique that can translate people’s brain activity — like the unspoken thoughts swirling through our minds — into actual speech, according to a study published in Nature. In the past, researchers have shown that they can decode unspoken language by implanting electrodes in the brain and then using an algorithm that reads the brain’s activity and translates it into text on a computer screen. But that approach is very invasive, requiring surgery. It appealed only to a subset of patients, like those with paralysis, for whom the benefits were worth the costs. So researchers also developed techniques that didn’t involve surgical implants. They were good enough to decode basic brain states, like fatigue, or very short phrases — but not much more. Now we’ve got a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) that can decode continuous language from the brain, so somebody else can read the general gist of what we’re thinking even if we haven’t uttered a single word.” • Don’t tell the marketing department! Or the spooks!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 1:39 PM ET.

The 420

“What are the health impacts of high-potency THC? Colorado researchers looked at 452 studies to find out” [The Colorado Sun]. “In an interview, [Dr. Jonathan] Samet said he wasn’t exactly surprised that the review didn’t come up with more conclusive answers. One of the problems was the studies they had to work with. The research team at the Colorado School of Public Health screened roughly 66,000 studies and found 452 that were relevant to their questions about high-potency THC. But what the team really wanted to examine was the effects of the kind of high-THC products sold today in the cannabis marketplace. The studies looking at the effects of THC spanned some five decades, meaning the products in those studies varied greatly and were often quite different from what is sold today. Another problem: Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health were constrained to using cannabis from the government’s official research pot farm at the University of Mississippi. Cannabis from that facility is notoriously low quality. ‘We learned there was a vast number of studies, potentially,’ Samet said. ‘But that in fact there were not that many that directly addressed the policy questions we were interested in.’ It’s also not particularly easy to study effects when there are so many other elements that can go into the equation besides potency. For instance, Samet said the method of consumption could have an impact, as could the amount consumed and the tolerance of the consumer.” • Odd there are so few studies of contemporary marijuana. Now that marijuana has gone corporate, and all.

The Gallery

Dutch masters:

NOTE Elon’s API pricing is nuking the artbots. Such a loss.

“‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’: Hiroshige’s Seminal Series of Woodblock Prints Gets a Vibrant Reprint” [Colossal]. “A new reprint from Taschen pairs each of the artist’s remarkable prints with text by authors Lorenz Bichler and Melanie Trede, celebrating the scenery, the city’s history, and Hiroshige’s contribution to ukiyo-e. The authors highlight how the colorful depictions of the country helped define the Western world’s visual interpretation of Japan, referencing the influence of Japonisme on European decorative arts and painters like Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and James McNeill Whistler.” • Trying to give a miss to the cherry blossom specials:

Class Warfare

Stochastic eugenics:

Richard Evans is the author of the magisterial Third Reich Trilogy, so it doesn’t surprise me that Death in Hamburg is superb. It only surprises me I only just now heard of it. One more damned book to read!

News of the Wired

“New talk: Learning DNS in 10 years” [Julia Evans]. “Strategies I use to learn hard things.” • Interesting in itself, since DNS is a decades-old technology that is the foundation of the Internet, and interesting for the the learning strategies as well. Very readable, and worth reading.

Fun. Also co-operative:

Well, maybe not on a blistering hot day. But you see what I mean.

* * *

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 CM:

CM writes: “Crocuses doing their thing before the tall grass wakes back up in South Ontario.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment: unlike covid/excess-death stats, we do have an update.

    Keeping East Palestine/Eastern Ohio on their toes, Norfolk Southern racks up points:

    Norfolk Southern train derails near East Palestine, Ohio; no hazardous spill reported

    Nine rail cars from a Norfolk Southern train derailed near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, not far from the site of the February East Palestine train derailment, but no hazardous materials were reported to be involved in the derailment late Wednesday night, according to local officials.


    And since no new derailments were reported yesterday, let’s make up for it today with a twofer:

    CATS says another light rail car derailed; 4th since May 2022

    Another Charlotte Area Transit System light rail derailed, the agency said. It’s the fourth one they have reported since May 2022.


    1. upstater

      My morning comment about the senate committee stripping important elements from the Railway Safety Act. Bipartisanship, is like imposing contracts on rail unions.

      1. LawnDart

        Do you know if any of the critters called it “a great victory for safety advocates”?

  2. Carolinian

    Re Trump–if he wins next year will all those MSM heads finally explode? We’ve been waiting so long…

    As for Ukraine, here’s suspecting it will be over long before the election.

  3. IM Doc

    Regarding the Trump CNN appearance last night.

    I made a rare effort last night to watch anything political on TV. My kids are of age now where I think it is important that they watch these things because God only knows they are not doing any kind of civics in school.

    I am not now nor have I ever been a Trump fan.

    The preening arrogance of the entire PMC class was on full display in the behavior of that horrific moderator – and then even worse with the commentary afterwards from the pundits. They remind me of all the “cool kids” in high school. I tolerated about 5 minutes of that claptrap and turned it off. I also was reminded last night of my last high school reunion and the vastly divergent lives “the cool kids” and people like myself have had.

    What I saw last night was someone who seemed to be far more tuned into issues that are going on now, especially Ukraine, and the absolute lunacy and mockery of our history and hypocrisy that has been allowed to fester around things like January 6th. And even more impressively, he was able to project coherent thoughts in complete grammatically correct sentences much better than our current dementia-patient-in chief ( and after the past 7 years, this is something I thought I would never ever say about Trump). It is obvious for all to see why the Dems do not want Biden debating in the primaries. Not sure they will be able to wiggle out of debates in the general. And if Biden is up against what I saw last night, he will have his ass handed to him on a silver platter.

    This New Deal Dem, if the choice is between Biden and Trump, will likely have to pull the lever for Trump while holding a vomit bag. This is NOT what I did in 2020 – I just left it blank. I am however very interested in RFK. If he is screwed out of the process as we have witnessed in the past, my days of even considering Dem candidates will be over. We can no longer afford another term of the most supreme and arrogant incompetent bungling I have ever witnessed as an American citizen.

    I am not sure my elder family members ever had an inkling of the clown show their Dem party would become in the lifetime of their grandkids. I suppose the same could be said for the condition of the entire country.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Plenty of bombast from Trump, but I’m a lot more interested in Ukraine than the Presidential Records Act. As for election 2020, I loathe what the Republicans have done with it, but I loathe 2016’s RussiaGate even more.

    2. sleepingdogmatist

      Agreed on all fronts. The past seven years have turned me into a very likely Trump general election voter. I too left the top line blank on my ballot in 2020, but could at least see some of the arguments for Biden as maybe a lesser evil. What we’ve gotten has been shocking lunacy and incompetence, far worse, I presume, than a second Trump term would have been. I think regularly about how we’d probably still have widespread masking under Trump, since the liberals and their institutions would only follow a Competent Democrat (TM), a Progressive Who Gets Things Done (TM). I could easily imagine all the IN THIS HOUSE types still masking as an anti-Trump symbol. Trump probably would’ve been bad on Ukraine too–and I guess he’d probably scramble F-22s to shoot down the balloons, etc–but it’s hard to be more unreasonable than the Biden crew has been.

    3. Pelham

      I agree pretty much down the line. However, Biden has shown the sporadic capacity in debates to hold his own, although it’s still a dicey proposition every time he stands behind a lectern.

      The bigger issue for me is — I almost hate to say it — democracy. Ours is tissue-thin at best and quite vulnerable. But who poses the greater threat: a semi-competent, occasionally destructive and often ineffective Trump and his loyal supporters, a small fraction of whom are genuine right-wing crazies; or a doddering Biden heading up what looks like a personal self-enrichment syndicate backed by an increasingly deranged “blob” and thoroughly unaccountable deep state with a decades-long record of proxy wars, foreign and possibly domestic coups and assassinations as well as election interference with the full backing and collusion of nearly every major media organization?

      I’m thinking the latter of those two. In any event, like you, I’d like to hear more from RFK Jr.

    4. The Rev Kev

      When Trump said that he could stop the war in days he was quite correct as confirmed by “Jungle” Josep Borrell-

      ‘“I know how to end the war immediately,” Borrell told La Sexta’s El Intermedio show. “Stop providing military aid to Ukraine and Ukraine [will] have to surrender in a few days. That’s it, the war is over,” the EU top diplomat insisted.’


      The converse is that this war would have been over with last year if the west had done this but that they are keeping it going, no matter how many people get killed. Trump knows all this and it would be all the leverage that he would need.

    5. Kilgore Trout

      I’m holding on to the thin hope that RFK’s candidacy catches traction. Against my better judgement, I voted for Biden in 2020 as the lesser of 2 weasels. However much it would be tempting to vote for Trump this time around, I can’t. I think I’m done with both major parties; both are enablers and beneficiaries of a rigged system–the best democracy money can buy. Without substantive change, starting with an honest account of present day life for most USians, and how we got here, further descent into neo-fuedalism is inevitable. Provided we don’t nuke the planet first, that is. The final Neo-con campaign slogan: “Nuclear winter solves global warming.”

    6. Hepativore

      In the past, the Democrats could have made the argument that putting a Republican in office would damage abortion rights, but the Democrats have been talking about codifying abortion since the 1970’s and it is clear that they have no intention of doing it, and will not lift a finger to protect abortion rights even when in power.

      Biden is also turning his back on student loan debt relief and will not make any effort to save it which he could legally do by Executive Order under the Higher Education Act of 1965. Finally, there is the fact that he could not be bothered to visit East Palestine during the derailment disaster as he was too busy visiting Ukraine, to say nothing of the union-busting he has done despite being “Union Joe”.

      Biden is largely a bargain bin Reagan. I am not saying that Trump would be any better on the above but I do hope we can at least get out of the Ukraine situation which would be impossible with Biden and the Democrats.

      I can almost respect the honest callousness of most of the Republican Party at this point, compared to the Democratic Party who is largely a fundraising institution rather than a political party with electoral goals and the Democrats can never be trusted to do ANYTHING other than backstabbing you.

    7. Acacia

      If [RFK] is screwed out of the process as we have witnessed in the past …

      Oh, I’m banking on it.

  4. griffen

    Grant Hill, candidate for senate in Florida. They could make a much worse choice, I will suppose. Hill has a great lineage, his father having played football for the Cowboys I think. Hill strikes me as more astute on the business opportunities, perhaps, than Wade might be and Hill also enjoys the spotlight on CBS every year during March Madness. Those commercials with Laettner will run forever I guess.

    Don’t tell anyone please, I wrote something nice about Hill, even though he is a former Duke basketball star. \sarc

        1. ambrit

          Contrast that with today where the Politicos campaign on the “transactional” policy of TINAK (There Is No Alternate Kleptocrat.) No matter whether we click “Alt-Right” or “Alt-Left,” the result is the same, “Klept.” [Some wags refer to it as typing in ‘F-U’, also known as “Engaging the F-U bar.” There is also a popular “kids” online game based on the idea; “Five Nights at Fubies.” {From which we got the eternally returning ‘gift’ of Pizzagate.}]
          Stay safe. Hang on to your sanity, (if there’s any remaining.)

      1. ambrit

        And the United States soon after embraced the “One Carolina Policy,” despite the de facto separation between the two that has historically been the case since the end of what Southrons still euphemistically refer to as “The War Between the Colonies.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ll just throw this out there, but its fitting Florida Democrats would embrace Grant Hill who was never particularly popular with the Fab Five who heap praise on Laetner.

      On the other hand, I am a huge Dwayne Wayne fan. He would instantly be one of the top 10 Senators and probably top 5 after a few months. He seems like a solid dude, and there was a great joke where someone pointed out Dwayne Wade, at least 3 years at Marquette, convinced LeBron, no college, and Chris Bosh, 1 and done, to move to help Wade win a championship.

        1. ambrit

          I must have missed that installment of the Muppet movie franchise: “Muppets Take Capitol Hill.”

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I don’t know if Grant Hill has the energy. You may recall this, NTG. When UVa opened the NCAA in ’19, Hill was one of the courtside commentators. One of the Cav starters, Mamadi Diakite, was from Guinea, and was quite well known in the ACC and beyond. Hill pronounced his name Dee-Ak’-a-tay when instead it’s Dia-kee’-tay. Nance corrected him, and from that point on, throughout the tournament, Hill called him Mamadi.

        Not much for preparation, and then tries to cover with a lame joke. And I had always liked Hill even though he was a Dukie.

  5. JustAnotherVolunteer

    Sadly, you can mark the Oregon Covid Dashboard among the missing. The last update was 10/3 and they’ve archived many of the Covid related pages. There’s an explainer here:


    Which seems to indicate that some data will still be collected but their wastewater effort has been hit and miss so far so I’m not optimistic.

    “ COVID-19 reporting

    A change in how OHA monitors COVID-19. Epidemiologists will transition to a more sustainable and effective model that focuses on measures that indicate transmission, and continue monitoring for severe outcomes, including hospitalizations and death. Case data, which is based on individual laboratory test reporting and is heavily biased, will be retired. The changes align with CDC recommendations and mirror how influenza is monitored.

    A change in how OHA reports COVID-19 data. Epidemiologists will streamline data reporting to a smaller number of dashboards updated weekly. Data visualizations will include graphs showing statewide percent positivity, wastewater levels and trends, distribution of variants, hospitalization rates and capacity, death counts, emergency department visit and vaccination trends. Dashboards with case counts and county data will be archived.”

    Funding related but also less reliable data collection at the individual level.

    1. playon

      Also the Washington State Dept of Health webpage linked above now shows this statement (italics are mine):

      “Beginning on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, testing data will no longer be available on the dashboard. We are removing COVID-19 testing data in order to align reporting of COVID-19 data with real world experience. (WTF?) Earlier in the pandemic, COVID-19 testing data provided critical information as we were learning more about the transmission of a new disease. As at-home testing has increased and tests reported to DOH have decreased, the value in sharing laboratory-based testing data has decreased.”

  6. Tom Stone

    The Dems lost me completely in 2016 when my vote and the votes of 3,000,000 other Californians with “No Party Preference” were not counted, handing California to HRC.
    And thanks for the link to the ” People’s CDC “, I’ll be talking to the ADA Compliance person at Memorial Hospital as soon as I get a date set for surgery on my spine.
    I’ll likely speak to an ADA lawyer as well, lots of us old folks are concerned about acquiring Covid when having necessary procedures performed …

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the ADA Compliance person at Memorial Hospital

      Oooh, work the system. I wonder what professional journals those guys read, and if they’ve seen this coming.

      1. nippersmom

        I’ve been sitting in on an on-line ADA seminar the past three days. My impression is that people in ADA compliance keep pretty good tabs on what is happening in ADA-related issues and precedents that are being set.
        Interestingly, one of the presenters yesterday specifically said she thinks more cases will conclude that Long Covid is a disability under the ADA.

      2. Scylla

        Rule number 4:
        “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
        (This is my favorite of the rules)
        Saul Alinsky- Rules for Radicals

  7. britzklieg

    What I remember of the initial studies done on effects of THC, from as far back as the 70’s, is that they may have been a template for how to gamify stats against a substance which the important people don’t want you have. And I agree it’s curious as to why the studies which do exist are so inadequate.

    However, a couple of years ago studies came out suggesting that pure isolate cannabidiol (CBD), where the psycho active THC is absent, might be effective in treating covid. In the years since, much has been written professionally about continuing positive results but I don’t see much mention of it, if any at all, as we run headlong into “stumped” (or dismissive) about potential treatments, especially safe ones.


  8. Lee

    “Tech: “Mind-reading technology has arrived” [Vox]. “With the help of AI, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a technique that can translate people’s brain activity — like the unspoken thoughts swirling through our minds — into actual speech, according to a study published in Nature…”

    Unless I’m profoundly mistaken about human brain activity, I’m guessing that more than a few of us are with Bob Dylan on this: “If my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d put my head in a guillotine.”

    1. digi_owl

      Developing mind reading tech just as thought crime policing is peaking, what could possibly go wrong.

      That said, this is basically FMRI pattern matching. They have trained the system on FRMI scans of a bunch of people thinking various canned thoughts, and then let it loose on scans of other people to see if it can pick up the same patterns there.

      Same thing IBM etc has been doing for ages claiming their latest can detect various cancers and like.

      But we also know how insanely dumb these systems can be, like when Google Images tagged black people as gorillas…

  9. some guy

    People should understand that if they vote for Trump to own the Democrats, they will definitely get Drill Baby Drill which means they will get Warm the Global Even Hotter and Faster.

    That may be the sort of accelerationism which self-identified leftists somehow think they can profit from the chaos of. They may be right. If they can get Trump elected, we will all find out how it works out for them and for us.

    Since I am a deccelerationist myself, I lean towards voting for a Democrat President in order to keep the decline and fall a little slower and more orderly, maybe buying myself enough time to get my Survival Doomstead preparations in order. ( Of course, if the Democrats have brought us closer to nuclear war by that point, Trumpian accelerationism may well be more votable-for than Democratic glow-in-the-dark-ism if that is what the DemParty ticket genuinely offers by that time).

    1. Bosko

      The Drill, Baby, Drill line is repulsive, but is there really a substantive difference between Trump’s fossil fuel policy and that of the Democrats? Trump says things that are intended to trigger people like you and me–people who care about the climate–and his supporters love him for it, but both parties are in bed with the fossil fuel industry. With Biden, we might get a tax credit for college graduates in STEM fields who are from economically-disadvantaged urban areas and want to buy an electric car… does this really make Biden better than Trump? The Willow project certainly makes Biden’s climate agenda look pretty pathetic. You’d think the guy could push public transportation a little.

      1. digi_owl

        That is the basic Trump appeal. He is a bastard for sure, but he is an honest bastard. Or at least plays up being that while in front of a mic.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        I will say Trump got this right, kinda:

        So we had the greatest economy in the world. Here is a story. They made energy so high and energy is all invasive. It is massive as an industry and as a cost. It lifted everything.

        “All invasive?” Well, if he means that cheap energy is the go-juice of the economy, he’s right. Where he falls short is understanding that even new oil and gas are suffering from declining Energy Return on Investment. Energy is going to keep getting more expensive unless a deus ex machina like fusion arrives. And “Drill, baby, drill” will use up the best of what’s left for a consumption orgy just before the Jackpot.

        The question I want to hear Trump answer is, “You said you’d ‘clean out the swamp’ when you ran in ’16, but it appears that the swamp cleaned you out. What will you do differently this time so you can succeed in ridding the bureaucracy of people who set their own agendas?”

        1. Screwball

          To the energy part. EROEI is the place to start. We need an adult conversation about how to transition from where we are today and how we insure long term energy resources.

          We also have to face the fact that we still need our current resources to achieve those long term goals.

    2. nippersmom

      Serious question– what is there about the Biden administration that you think has slowed the acceleration? I’m not seeing it. Wars– even nonnuclear– are a huge contributor to climate change. Biden has also not exactly been reluctant to sign drilling leases. So while he may not be saying “Drill, baby, drill”, actions speak much louder than words.

    3. Tha Snoopp

      Biden wins: drill baby drill! but it’s by biden goodman so no one cares

      Trump wins: drill baby drill! but it’s by trump badman so libshits pretend to care on twitter

    4. Felix_47

      My guess is that raiding the government oil reserve for midterm votes to force the price down, blowing up Nordstream with tons of Methane release, and the Ukraine war with tons of explosives, fire and oil burning more than make up for drill baby drill. And as you know Biden gave millions of US tax dollars to Burisma and Ukraine so they could develop fracking technology which I suppose must relate to Biden Jr.’s elevation to the board of Burisma at a million per year. And Nordstream’s destruction led the Germans to turn to soft coal for power and a lot more CO2 as well. And did not Joe open up a new area to drill in the Arctic? And we have done nothing for nuclear……CO2 free. China has 20 or so plants under construction this year. China will do more for global warming in one or two years than the US will in decades. Just think how much CO2 would have been spared had Trump been elected and had sat down with Putin under a shower of urine by beautiful naked Russian women and discussed a permanent security structure for Europe as Putin has suggested for decades.

      1. anon in so cal

        1. Biden opened up “80 million acres of Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas leasing…the largest offshore lease sale in US history…

        harming the climate, frontline communities, and endangered species”


        ” plunging deep water reaches, for drilling projects that will stretch out over decades, despite scientists’ urgent warnings that fossil fuels must be rapidly phased out if the world is to avoid disastrous global heating. The auctions also come despite Biden’s own pre-election promise to halt all drilling on federal lands and waters.

        A total of 313 tracts of ocean, spanning 1.6m acres”

        2. Biden and the Willow Project

        “Biden administration opted for habitat and climate destruction in the Western Arctic.

        Willow would lock us into decades of oil and gas production and long-term destruction to the Western Arctic. This fragile area of Alaska is already warming three times faster than the rest of the world. To add insult to injury, ConocoPhillips plans to install artificial “chillers” to refreeze the Arctic’s melting permafrost in order to build the industrial oil extraction infrastructure necessary for Willow.

        This is the largest proposed oil and gas undertaking on U.S. public lands. Over its lifetime, Willow stands to accelerate the climate crisis by emitting more than 260 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over the next 30 years.

        ConocoPhillips is poised to build hundreds of miles of pipelines and roads, an airstrip, and a gravel mine on public lands. Drilling and roads will be allowed near Teshekpuk Lake, an important habitat for migratory birds and one of the most sensitive areas in the Arctic. The project’s construction and daily operation would devastate imperiled wildlife like polar bears and caribou. It also would jeopardize the health and traditional practices of nearby Alaska Native communities.”

        “The Biden administration has approved a massive oil and gas development in Alaska known as the Willow project, despite widespread opposition from environmental and conservation groups that argue Willow will amount to a carbon bomb.”

        3. Alaska LNG

        “The nearly $40 billion proposal would see the construction of a pipeline and liquified natural gas or LNG facility along Alaska’s south coast with the goal of exporting fossil gas, largely to Asia.

        the project would release up to 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere over the course of its lifetime. This is 10 times the amount that ConocoPhillips’s Willow project is projected to release.

        “The proposed Alaska LNG export project would threaten Arctic wildlife and exacerbate the climate crisis by locking in decades of increased gas extraction and exports at a time when the science is clear that we must rapidly transition away from fossil fuels,”

  10. Boskko

    That whole thing about “high potency” THC really grinds my gears. It’s an “issue” invented by people who don’t smoke weed, one of the biggest cocktail-party cliches on the subject of weed-smoking in general. For some reason, people who don’t smoke just love to talk about the “high potency” of today’s cannabis.

    If you live in a state that’s legalized recreational cannabis, and you buy what people now call “flower,” you’re going to see a difference of a mere few percentage points between different strains: 23% THC content being relatively high, and 17% being a “mid.” And you’re going to find–if you’re doing the necessary research–that often the “mid” has more of an effect than the supposedly “high potency” stuff. Ask the guy behind the counter, and he’s going to tell you that in fact a lot more goes into your own individual sense of how stoned you are than THC content. Which is why, in states like CA where there’s a fairly advanced knowledge of the plant, labels will also mention things like terpenes. (Ask the guy behind the counter about terpenes… You will be impressed.) Or whether it’s an indica, sativa, or hybrid, etc.

    Meanwhile, if you look at a cannabis vape cartridge, you’ll find that it lists something like… 90% THC!! Many people will take this to mean that a hit off a vape pen is way, way stronger than flower. But they’re ignoring the fact that there may be a hundred hits in the vape pen. That 90% has nothing to do with how “potent” the weed feels. (More subjectively, people tend to say they find flower more powerful than vapes.)

    The “science” of “high potency” weed is flimsy. Take this sentence from Lambert’s quote: “It’s also not particularly easy to study effects when there are so many other elements that can go into the equation besides potency. For instance, Samet said the method of consumption could have an impact, as could the amount consumed and the tolerance of the consumer.” Oh, so you’re saying that if you smoked a bucket full of the low potency weed from the 60s that people always like to talk about, you might actually be more impaired than if you smoked one hit of the supposedly “high potency” 23% THC flower available today? The same way that, if you drink ten beers with 4% alcohol content, you will be more drunk than if you drink 3 oz. of an 80 proof single malt, even though the alcohol content is lower in the former? (Not a perfect analogy, of course, since THC isn’t the only factor in how potent cannabis feels.) Shocking! Today’s modern, scary, “high potency” cannabis is much like the stuff that was around in the past–you just need to smoke less of it.

    My other pet peeve is the Baby Boomer guys who always talk about how expensive cannabis is. I’ve known four of them. In a recreational state, they can walk into a store, buy an eighth of quality, tested and regulated flower for $30, incredible variety, perfectly legal… but they’re unhappy because in 1971, they could buy a big bag of oregano for five bucks. And yet, the Zoomers are the ones who are supposed to be “snowflakes”…

      1. playon

        That is a very good deal. Things are more expensive here in WA especially in areas outside of the big cities where there is less competition. I’m sure there are many boomers who have a tough time affording weed from cannabis shops. This is partly due to the way the state implemented legalization by taxing the hell out of it at every stage.

    1. Lee

      To my mind, the weed today is much stronger than the questionable crap I first smoked in the late 60s. Now through a bit of trial and error I just regulate my intake for the desired effect. And, yes, here in CA the effects of the numerous various strains are interestingly variable.

    2. Randy

      The best weed I ever smoked was in 1971. It was a very cold winter night. We were high on amphetamines which probably helped. We each had 6 hits in the car, in the parking lot at a concert. Smoke was billowing from the chimney of the building where the concert was. I saw fighting Roman gladiators formed by that chimney smoke. I purchased some of that weed. Several friends had what were the equivalent of bad acid trips from 6 hits of that weed. I know that because several months later I experienced a bad acid trip (acid too strong) and because their descriptions of their experiences on that pot matched mine on the bad acid trip. All the other experiences on that weed were not influenced by amphetamines. I have been looking for weed like that ever since and never found it. It had to have been “cut” or strengthened with something? I just have never had anything that came close to that quality

      1. Benny Profane

        Dude, it was the speed and acid you were doing at the time. Maybe not at the same exact time, but that stuff lingers.

      2. bdy

        A buddy’s older brother sold us a little canister back in high school in the 80s, gave a similar experience from two big hits. Tasted harsh af and terrified us with a deep enough psychotic joy that after the fact, none of us could even say when we had smoked it or how long it lasted. Next day we learned it was laced with PCP. Pretty common in the late 70’s — I heard about it a lot in middle school. Like ‘ludes, it was just around.

        That one time I unknowingly tried it was the last time I would ever run into it. Lucky because I would have happily indulged often and at quantity. Word is that’s a bad habit.

        Don’t know how common it was in ‘71 but maybe that’s what you smoked? If so, props for a solid ego base. Six hits of whatever I had in ‘86 would have made permanent spiritual adjustments.

        1. John Zelnicker

          bdy – PCP is a horse tranquilizer and has bad after effects. It was sadly too common in the 1970’s for idiots to dust poor quality pot with it. I saw people seriously freak out from it.

          Yes, you’re lucky to have not run into it if you would have indulged. It’s poison.

          1. ambrit

            Similar experience here. Some plain vanilla pot laced with synthetic THC. I “woke up” two days later with no memory of the missing days. I encountered people in the French Quarter later who teased me about how much of a “character” I had been at a party. I didn’t remember them or the party.
            Serious drugs must be taken seriously.
            The American Indians who engage in the Peyote Cult have the right idea. The “trip” is structured and guided for specific purposes. The “initiate” is surrounded by community and supported in his or her struggle. You ‘talk’ to the Spirits because you are supposed to learn something from them.
            Rant off.

      3. Nikkikat

        We also had some incredible weed in the early seventies called Thai stick. We got it from some marines. Who sent it to my friend through the mail from an R&R trip they took from Vietnam. This was the most potent weed we still have ever smoked. It was nearly hallucinatory. Incredible stuff. I laugh when I read these stupid articles from people talking about “todays “ weed being too strong. Clearly as you say from people that never smoked any weed before. These are people intent on seeing it outlawed again. Probably young people. My next door neighbors are in their 30s. They came to the door once and smelled weed. They made obnoxious remarks about our “partying”
        And one would have thought that we were shooting up heroin. So condescending and
        Woke and us just some derelict old people doing a little weed on a Sunday afternoon.
        They barely speak to us now.

    3. John Zelnicker

      Boskko – I’d like to see the research on “mid” having a bigger effect than “high” potency based on equivalent consumption, got any links?

      There’s a lot of nonsense about how today’s weed is more potent than it was 50 years ago. I can tell you from personal experience that there was weed back then that was equally as potent as anything produced today.

      Maui Wowie was a real thing. If you could get it, most Hawaiian pot was superb. So were the Thai sticks that came from Vietnam.

      The myth about higher potency today started with the statistics put out by the DEA based on the pot they busted. Fifty years ago it was mostly Mexican commercial which had a pretty low THC content. In recent years it has been mostly high potency weed.

      There has always been high potency cannabis if you knew where to look.

      Oh, and the potent pot 50 years ago went for about $300-400 per ounce, just about what the black market charges now, other than in legalized states.

  11. Jason Boxman

    Manchin attacked EPA’s new rules. They could cost him millions

    The Supreme Court again went after, which is to say, sought to further protect, public corruption. So it’s not like we can put Manchin in jail, sadly, although he richly deserves it. This is a third world country. And of course liberal Democrats put this guy on a Senate committee on energy, because, why not, no corruption there!

  12. Mark K

    Re: “How to fortify the U.S. against the next pandemic” [Amy Maxmen, WaPo]

    The article did in fact mention non-pharmaceutical interventions — just barely! Here is the relevant passage (emphasis added):

    The United States must guarantee sick leave for all — it is the only wealthy nation that does not — and raise wages for the lowest earners. Further, workplaces should be required to take steps to protect employees from airborne infectious diseases, such as upgrading ventilation systems and stockpiling high-quality masks.

    There are lessons in how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded during the epidemics of HIV and hepatitis B, diseases spread through bodily fluids. OSHA required health-care workers to wear gloves and hospitals to have sharps containers in every room. These measures later protected health workers from Ebola when that virus landed in the United States in 2014.

  13. some guy

    If you are in a place where masking is wise, and you have your own N95 or equivalent, and the venue ( like a hospital, say . . . ) demands that you wear a baggy blue over your N95, is it possible to stretch out the baggy blue or bend it around or whatever to get it to fit over the N95 so loosely and with so little pressure that it does not disrupt the seal? Because if there is, then you can wear the baggy blue to make the venue happy without disrupting your own mask’s seal to put you in danger.

    ( And if there IS such a way, and it works, don’t tell the venue about it, because if they had a stealth agenda of disrupting your N95 seal on purpose to give you covid on purpose, and they find out that their baggy blue hasn’t disrupted your seal the way they wanted it to, they may either have their security guard rip off you N95 by force, or they may just cancel your appointment on the spot and give you a choice between leaving immediately or being arrested for tresspassing immediately . . . ” and no back-talk” for foiling their little plan to give you covid. So if you can wear the baggy blue without disrupting the N95 seal, never ever tell the hospital that you are able to do that).

    1. Samuel Conner

      If you are wearing (assuming your face has the right shape to get a good seal with them) a fresh 3M Aura series respirator with the white elastic straps (as opposed to the blue rubber bands, which I think are not nearly as tight and which in my experience are prone to snapping with repeat use), I think that you may be able to wear a procedure mask on top without much (or perhaps any) impairment to the N95 seal.

      In my experience, the Auras have a pretty wide (1 cm or more) contact surface against one’s skin all the way around the mask, which I think must be beneficial for maintaining a good seal. I’ve worn procedure masks (at hospital insistence) over Auras without any sense that the seal was compromised (though I have never done a proper or even improvised fit test to verify this). But the Aura line does not fit every face shape equally well, and it may be that adding a procedure mask on top will compromise the seal for some wearers. Perhaps best to do a quick and dirty fit test to verify.

  14. Jason Boxman

    So COVID travel report from someone I know, flew from New England to Michigan (or Ohio?), family were the only masked people except a handful, and no one else on the plane. They wore N95s. The return trip was particularly busy because of the Derby, virtually no masks in sight, and none of the aircrew either. With XBB1.16* and XBB1.9* rapidly increasing, doesn’t bode well, but without any data collection, who’s gonna know? Just a bad cough, ya know? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. The Rev Kev

      Here is another report. So my grand niece decided to have her wedding in Fiji recently and the entire lot of them took a plane from Sydney to Fiji. Masks? Who wears masks in a plane? Yep. Nearly the entire lot came down with Covid while they were in Fiji and when you worked out the days, they must have all been infected on that 4-hour plane trip over there. Some got over it quickly while others had it linger. I’m shocked, shocked, that it could turn out this way.

      1. Ghost in the Machine

        Even if Covid were to disappear, I would continue to wear masks on planes now. It is terrible to be sick away from home. And traveling is special. Why ruin it? Plane rides aren’t great anyway. What is wearing a mask on a plane for a number of hours compared to ruining an expensive, likely rare, and maybe very special experience? I view my previous attitude as ignorant.

  15. upstater

    Crime and corruption pays, everything is apparently legal. 2 unanimous Supreme Court decisions today of Cuomo’s handing out to buddies the “Buffalo Billion” and in Syracuse (our nearly empty film studio and bespoke unused LED factory). This builds upon the overturned conviction of Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell in 2016. So it’s legal to pay off politicians and award contracts to benefactors.

    Supreme Court Throws Out Fraud Convictions in Albany Scandals

    In a pair of unanimous rulings, the court sided with Joseph Percoco, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Louis Ciminelli, a contractor in Buffalo.

    1. derf

      The system works: their bribery convictions overturned by an impartial jury of their peers. \sarc

  16. aj

    RE: on the airplane air vents (gaspers)

    I used to work with some guys that traveled frequently (like on planes 3 or 4 times a week) and they always swore by turning those things off or pointing them away from you in order to not get sick. Maybe the air filtration is better than it used to be, but I never thought pointing one of those things straight in my face was very good for me.

    1. Verifyfirst

      I don’t have the link anymore since Twitter deleted my account for…….reading Twitter, but I saw an item which posited that airplane HEPA filters are too small for the job, and not changed often enough to be effective. But I don’t know.

    2. thump

      What makes sense to me (and what I do, with some knowledge of fluid dynamics) is what he says, that you’re better off breathing the recently filtered air that comes out of the gaspers. If you’re pointing them away from you, it means you’re entraining non-filtered to flow past you for you to breathe.

  17. Samuel Conner

    > Don’t tell the marketing department! Or the spooks!

    Perhaps we’ll get CDC recommendation for universal use of masks once they’ve found ways to hide electrodes and wifi transmitters in them.

  18. Rick

    While the Oregon covid dashboard still exists, the Oregon Health Authority just announced there will be no more case data reports as of 5/3. Oregon reported case data for 1,159 days. I imagine many other states that are still reporting will follow suit.

  19. Wukchumni

    We have a couple of invasive thistles here of the Italian & Milk varieties, and you need to keep them in check as they can really take off and create large patches which are almost fortress-like, yikes!

    Easily 6 feet tall on the big ones, and they crowd everything else out, denying sunlight to native non-speakers.

    I have never seen so many thistles, here there and everywhere-which is unusual as typically you’d only see new ones somewhat near where other thistles were, but not this year, they’re kind of piecemeal everywhere, awaiting a spray of some toxin from yours truly.

  20. Verifyfirst

    Re: Dental appointment hacks, I may try the nose clip that swimmers use to keep water out of their noses–it seems to pinch the nose closed pretty good. On the other hand, that only leaves your mouth for breathing, so that’s not great.

  21. tevhatch

    Airline / Bus air filters Hepa – in these days of neo-liberalism run rampant, when even the NTSB no longer has engineers at it’s top two positions, much less the FAA, I would not trust that they are installing the HEPA filters, or doing the proper maintenance to insure they function to specification.

  22. Skip Intro

    A really interesting thing about the ultra-sensitive ‘breathalyzer’ for covid, is that it could just be used in indoor spaces to detect infectious air without the need tor CO2 measures as a filter-blind proxy for breath.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Lots of unhappy campers about how well Trump did at that Town Hall with accusations that CNN had packed it with Trump supporters. Joy Behar of The View went on a mini-rant and said that they must have passed out the kool aid to that audience and even the focus group that CNN chose was not toeing the line in their responses. A New York Times op-ed literally had the vapours about all this-


    1. ChrisRUEcon

      This is my response to brain-addled Libs:

      Donna. Brazille. Gave. Hillary. Clinton. Debate. Questions.


      PS: And Hillary still lost!

  24. Jason Boxman

    Casual murder, as victory:

    Due to the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to combatting COVID-19, we are now in a better place in our response than at any point of the pandemic and well-positioned to transition out of the emergency phase and end the COVID-19 PHE. Over the last two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in U.S. history, with over 270 million people receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Administration has also made lifesaving treatments widely available, with more than 15 million courses administered. And through COVIDTests.gov, the Administration has distributed more than 750 million free COVID-19 tests shipped directly to more than 80 million households. The Administration has also administered more than 50 million diagnostic tests in-person at pharmacy and community-based sites. As a result of these and other efforts, COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it once was. Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95% and hospitalizations are down nearly 91%.

    (bold mine)


    1. Daryl

      Hospitals: Please don’t come in if you’re feeling unwell

      HHS: Hospitalizations are down! Great success!

  25. ChrisRUEcon


    > Lambert: So far as I can tell, the press has its brains so broken they can’t do that anymore.

    I truly hope some history textbook written long after I’m gone calls out how brain-addled #MSM became post-Trump.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #COVID19 #Transport

      Took my first return trip to work and back via Chicago’s “EL” (for elevated) train today. The train (last car) was fairly sparse on the way in. I was one of only two people masked in my car. The trip back was towards the end of rush hour but was still crowded. Don’t think I saw more than 10 to 12 people masked on my packed car, and of those, a few surgical masks (poorly worn to boot). If only there were an education campaign … of some sort … and free [K]N95 masks … everywhere. Shower and nebulizer soon as I got home … LOL

Comments are closed.