2:00PM Water Cooler 5/17/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Lark-like Bunting, Akkerendam Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa.

* * *


“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-ceiling standoff: With key meeting Tuesday, here’s what could go into a bipartisan deal” [MarketWatch]. “Biden, meanwhile, sounded open to clawing back some unspent COVID-relief funds as he took questions from reporters following his meeting on May 9 with the top four lawmakers. ‘We don’t need it all,’ Biden said. ‘I have to take a hard look at it. It’s on the table.””• Anybody remember Project NextGen, that was going to develop some new vaccines, especially nasal vaccines, and PPE? The budgeting for it was always sus:

The $5 billion for the effort came after HHS was directed by the White House to shift funds for coronavirus testing, personal protective gear and other priorities, The Post reports.

How much you want to bet that $5 billion gets thrown into the deficit reduction pot, instead of saving lives?


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Biden calls white supremacy ‘most dangerous terrorist threat’ in speech at Howard” [Politico]. • Yeah, sheesh, the RussiaGate perps who organized to overturn 2016’s election result. Not a Black face among them. Wypipo, totally. String ’em up!

“The Kamala Harris question” [Financial Times]. “Fairly or not, few think Harris could beat Donald Trump. As a result, Democrats and much of the ‘mainstream’ media are working off an invisible memo that tells them to avoid talking about Biden’s age. This cannot last. Forget Republicans and independents: a majority of Democratic voters think Biden, who will turn 81 in November, should not run for a second term. That means the vice-president will be an unusually big factor next year. To those who say a running mate’s popularity never alters US election outcomes, there are two responses. First, history is a useless guide. It has twice told us that Trump could not be the Republican nominee. That looks on course to being twice disproved. The second consists of two words: Sarah Palin. I defy any US political scientist to put their hand on heart and say Palin’s presence on the ageing John McCain’s ticket did not harm his chances against Barack Obama in 2008 — especially after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Either way, Republicans, such as Nikki Haley, one of next year’s presidential contenders, have made it clear Harris will be the target. ‘If you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris,” Haley said recently.” And: “The more exposure she is given now the better. Harris needs to be prepared to be president. Biden picked her in 2020. Now he must invest in her.” • Can’t we regard Harris as a sunk cost, in invest in ways of getting her off the ticket?

“Trump is attacking DeSantis hard on policy, amid the flurry of insults” [Reuters]. “Amid the headline-grabbing insults and name-calling, Donald Trump is pursuing a surprisingly policy-heavy strategy to damage his closest Republican rival Ron DeSantis before he enters the presidential race, according to a Reuters analysis of the former president’s statements since he announced his White House bid. Forty percent of Trump’s attacks on the Florida governor have targeted issues such as Social Security, the government-run Medicare health program for older Americans, foreign policy and DeSantis’ record in office. Five political analysts who reviewed Reuters’ findings said the strategy marks a sharp contrast with Trump’s first run for president in 2016, when he won the Republican nomination with chaotic tactics based largely on personal insults leveled at his opponents. ‘This time it’s clear that Trump is changing the way he does this by hitting harder on the policy stuff,’ said David Gergen, a non-partisan analyst who has advised one Democratic and three Republican presidents.”

“9 Ways Vivek Ramaswamy Can Beat Donald Trump, According to Andrew Yang” [Politico]. Nine! Fancy that! But this is actually good advice: “Early in my campaign, someone said to me, “People can tell if you’re having a good time.” And if you’re having a good time, it rubs off on those around you. A lot of the other Republican candidates seem miserable. Their messages are of anger, grievance and despair. You can express emotion and urgency without being a drag to listen to or be around. You can out-positive other candidates, and that will attract voters who are tired of politicians’ fire-and-brimstone speeches.” • I don’t know if I’d call Trump a “happy” candidate. Gleeful, perhaps. Of course, happiness isn’t the emotion one most associates with professional wrestling. Or The Apprentice, for that matter.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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Realignment and Legitimacy

“Durham proves that Hillary and the FBI tried to rig the 2016 election” [New York Post]. Quite right. Though I have to say that the FBI didn’t supply the only personnel from the organs of state security involved in this little project. I wonder what a careful reader of the Durham report would find suggesting CIA and NSA involvement. I mean, was signing a letter the only thing putatively retired spooks like Clapper and Morrell did? I’m guessing no. And will the FBI be unhappy about being the whipping boy? More importantly, will they share their unhappiness with others? Not that I’m foily! More: “CIA chief John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama and other top officials on ‘alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal . . . to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.'” • It would be irresponsible not to speculate….

“Eight Takeaways From the Durham Report” [Susan Schmidt, Racket News]. “A quick read revealed the following key takeaways: 1 There was no valid predicate for the investigation, and the FBI knew it. 2. ‘There’s nothing to this, but we have to run it to ground.’ 3. ‘It’s thin’; ‘There’s nothing to this.’ 4. The Trump campaign investigation was premised on ‘raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence,’ and U.S. intel agencies possessed no ‘actual evidence of collusion’ when the probe began. 5. Sensational stories published in the New York Times in February and March 2017 claiming Trump associates were in contact with Russian intelligence agents were false. 6. FBI Director James Comey pushed heavily for an investigation of Carter Page, starting in April 2016 when Page was a government witness in an espionage investigation of Russian diplomats in New York. 7. At the direction of the FBI, confidential human source Stefan Halper recorded lengthy conversations with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, in which each denied the campaign had any involvement with Russian officials. 8. Durham was highly critical of the FBI’s ‘startling and inexplicable failure’ to investigate the so-called ‘Clinton Intelligence Plan.'”


“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), JustAnotherVolunteer, 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).

Stay safe out there!

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Look for the Helpers

“Family sues production companies after man dies from COVID while working on American Horror Story” [CBS]. A little too on-the-nose. More: “The family of an East Bridgewater man who died from COVID-19 after working in the filming project of the American Horror Story series, filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against three Hollywood production companies. Paul Woodward drove a passenger van, transporting cast and crew to and from the set of the show filmed in Provincetown in February and March of 2021, before vaccines were widely available to the public. His family alleges that Twentieth Century Fox, Ryan Murphy Productions, and the Walt Disney Company did not follow their own COVID safety protocols. ‘He was given a van that did not have a spit shield. There was no plexi-glass barrier separating him from all the passengers. One was requested. The request was denied,’ said Attorney Jonathan Sweet of Keches Law Group who is representing the family. Sweet says masking and social distancing protocols in the van were also not adhered to.” • Some kind Rhode Islander needs to give Keches Law Group a call and explain that plastic shields don’t work against an airborne virus (and we don’t want to enshrine the idea in precedent, either, or droplet dogma). Masking, however, works. More lawsuits, please!

Sanity in Washington, DC:

Covid Is Airborne

And so is wildfire smoke:

SK = Saskatchewan.

“New CDC Standards of Air Hygiene” [John Snow Project]. “In addition to advising people who have “symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea” to stay home1, the CDC also recommended that children over the age of two wear masks whenever possible. This is not surprising because as the CDC notes, “COVID-19 can cause serious health problems, so it’s more important than ever to protect your child’s health.'” • CDC also recommends “5 or more air changes per hour (ACH) of clean air to rooms in your building.” • The draft ASHRAE standard is specific to building type and often higher:


I don’t know about this particular tech, but I share Wu’s view:

The amount of citizen engineering going on with masks is astounding. Only good can come of this.


On the debacle of children’s Covid, an excellent thread:

Non-pharmaceutical interventions worked. So, naturally, policy-makers said “We’re done,” and turned them off (assuming good faith, of course):


“Depression hits new high among Americans, per survey” [STAT]. “The Gallup survey of more than 5,000 adults in late February indicates that depression, already labeled a crisis among children amid Covid-19 shutdowns and social media use, is much more widespread. Depression rates have sharply risen among women and Black and Hispanic people in particular. More than 36% of women report that a doctor has diagnosed them with depression in their lives, compared to 20.4% of men, with depression rates among younger people outpacing that of older respondents. While white people historically have reported the highest depression rates, Black and Hispanic adults are now reporting similar figures. Gallup researchers said that while women typically report higher depression rates than men, much of the recent surge could be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Women disproportionately lost their jobs or exited the workforce to take care of family. Women also account for two-thirds of the health care workforce, which has struggled with staffing shortages and the psychological toll of the Covid-19 emergency. The survey did not break respondents out by occupation. ‘The people that were hoping that the mental health crisis caused by Covid would stop when Covid stops will be disappointed,’ said Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. However, Duckworth also suggested a potential positive from the survey results: perhaps more people are reporting depression because cultural stigma around the diagnosis has declined.” •

Science Is Popping

“SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the absence of selective immune pressures, results in antibody resistance, interferon suppression and phenotypic differences by lineage” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Mouse study. “The persistence of COVID-19 is partly due to viral evolution reducing vaccine and treatment efficacy. Serial infections of Wuhan-like SARS-CoV-2 in Balb/c mice yielded mouse-adapted sstrains with greater infectivity and mortality. We investigated if passaging unmodified B.1.351 (Beta) and B.1.617.2 (Delta) 20 times in K18-ACE2 mice, expressing human ACE2 receptor, in a BSL-3 laboratory without selective pressures, would drive human health-relevant evolution and if evolution was lineage-dependent. Late-passage virus caused more severe disease, at organism and lung tissue scales, with late-passage Delta demonstrating antibody resistance and interferon suppression.” • If I am interpreting this study correctly, it shows that SARS-CoV-2 does not necessarily evolve to be milder (contrary to one of those talking points that suddenly and mysteriously appears in the zeitgeist).

“Reinfections and Cross-Protection in the 1918/19 Influenza Pandemic: Revisiting a Survey Among Male and Female Factory Workers” [International Journal of Public Health]. “Among the total of n = 820 factory workers, 50.2% reported influenza-related illness during the pandemic, the majority of whom reported severe illness. Among male workers 47.4% reported an illness vs. 58.5% of female workers, although this might be explained by varied age distribution for each sex (median age was 31 years old for men, vs. 22 years old for females). Among those who reported illness, 15.3% reported reinfections. Reinfection rates increased across the three pandemic waves. The majority of subsequent infections were reported to be as severe as the first infection, if not more. Illness during the first wave, in the summer of 1918, was associated with a 35.9% (95%CI, 15.7–51.1) protective effect against reinfections during later waves.” • Another myth: Reinfection is milder.


Should somebody check in on Canada, and see how they’re doing?

“Doctors, academics, activists call for removal of top Vancouver doctor from her role over COVID-19 claims” [CTV News]. “[Protect Our Province BC] is blasting [Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical officer Dr. Patricia Daly for encouraging listeners to think of COVID-19 ‘like other respiratory viruses, especially the coronaviruses that cause common colds.’ In its open letter, the group points out that there have been at least 12 studies to date that link COVID-19 infections to later diabetes diagnoses. PoP BC also linked to a CTV News Vancouver article that covers the latest study, in which the provincial health officer acknowledged the long-term impacts COVID can have on different body organs. ‘It’s not just affecting the lungs,’ said Dr. Bonnie Henry. ‘We know it can lead to heart disease, we know that people who have post-COVID symptoms have things like neurological issues, they have fatigue and brain fog and some of the other things that we have seen are related to things like diabetes.’ The group is also pushing back against Daly’s claim that, between high rates of vaccination and infections, B.C. has a strong hybrid immunity, meaning the population is protected against severe COVID-related illness and death. PoP BC describes this claim as ‘unsubstantiated.’ During her May 5 interview, Daly also made comments about young people being at low risk from COVID-19, and said the risk of experiencing severe illness and death from that virus versus the common cold is about the same for people living in long-term care homes. PoP BC’s letter disputes both of those claims, as well as ones Daly made about long COVID, post-COVID conditions, the efficacy of face masks and the availability of antiviral agents being available to the public. ‘Dr. Daly’s public statements are not based in science and they minimize the real risks of COVID-19 infections,’ the letter reads. ‘We expect public health leaders not to negligently misrepresent the accumulating scientific evidence related to SARS-CoV-2. We expect these authorities to protect all British Columbians who still put their trust in provincial public health leaders, not put them at risk of harm.'” • Too much even for Bonnie Henry!!!!!

“Third COVID-19 outbreak in three weeks declared at Burnaby Hospital” [BurnabyNow]. “Upon declaring the outbreak, Fraser Health immediately implemented precautions at the site, including enhanced cleaning to protect the health of all staff, medical staff, and patients,” a statement read.” • Enhanced cleaning. I really deprecate that “Please kill me” trope, because that’s something I don’t want to suggest, even in jest, but there are times…

* * *

“Students are increasingly refusing to go to school. It’s becoming a mental health crisis” [USA Today]. “[Jayne] Demsky sought help from educators, doctors and counselors, trying to understand what was stopping her son from going to school for nearly a year. Finally, a psychiatrist told Demsky about a condition that affects a growing number of students with severe anxiety: school avoidance. ‘It was almost like a revelation,’ she told USA TODAY. School avoidant behavior, also called school refusal, is when a school-age child refuses to attend school or has difficulty being in school for the entire day. Several mental health experts told USA TODAY it has become a crisis that has gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.” • Look, just because schools are death traps filled with an airborne Level 3 pathogen is no reason to avoid them! (And leave it to the PMC to invent a medicalizing term for it. I wonder if there’s a drug for SAB. Soma, maybe?)

Elite Maleficence

“Macroeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic” [Economic Modelling]. “The analysis of the decomposition revealed that the largest losses from COVID were associated with the mandatory closure of businesses and the slow reopening process, followed by the avoidance of workplace and other activities by households. While deaths and illnesses resulted in a minimal decline in real GDP…” lol … “primarily due to the decline in demand caused by the declining population, the increase in demand for health care led to a rise in real GDP. Pent-up demand is a significant factor in the recovery process, raising growth ever closer to the original baseline growth. Early rounds (1–4) of fiscal policy were also very helpful in alleviating some of the losses in economic growth due to mandatory business closures, avoidance, and other causal factors. The benefits of the last round of fiscal policy are considerably lower, and even negative, compared to earlier rounds due to crowding out of private investment and the need for businesses to repay loans. Several areas of future research present themselves. A prime example would be developing future scenarios involving new variants, more effective vaccines, and more effective anti-viral treatments.” • Note, as usual, the complete suppression of non-pharmaceutical interventions (and the concomitant sucking up to Big Pharma).

“Hospitals create police forces to stem growing violence against staff” [NPR]. • Just in time for the pro-mask protests? (It’s been my view for some time that direct action at Hospital Infection Control offices is the only way forward.)

“Why UCSF’s Bob Wachter and other COVID experts say we’re at a pandemic ‘tipping point'” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Given the politicization of public health policies, a sudden resurgence of virus-related hospitalizations and fatalities would be unlikely to lead to more sweeping government restrictions such as lockdowns and mask mandates. The U.S. dropped many of its pandemic-era restrictions long before the public health emergency came to an end. And society has moved on too. It is unlikely that people would rally together against a common enemy as they did in March 2020.” Rule #2. More: “‘For a lot of people, it really is kind of like a tipping point where it’s like, ‘I have done that for two or three years and I just can’t do it anymore,” said Wachter, who added that he still puts on a mask in crowded settings. ‘Unless you start seeing a massive number of deaths* — you know, 2020 level of deaths — I think a lot of people really are past it and they’re not going back.'” • This from the dude who chivvied his own wife to a superspreading event, where she got Covid, and then Long Covid, which she still has. Remember how all the people who were wrong about Iraq cashed in, and all those who were right were ostracized? Like that, except orders of magnitude worse. NOTE * The number of deaths “under the curve” is still massive — more massive than the deaths during Biden’s Omicron jouissance, as I show here. But you’ll never hear that from PMC sociopaths like Wachter.

Thanks, Rochelle:

I could file this under Class Warfare, too. Since that’s what it is:

The whinging because for two months people couldn’t go to Applebee’s unless they decided infecting others was worth it!

This too:

* * *

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 15:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau. Are we are the point in the global pandemic where national experiences really diverge?

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 13, 2023:

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

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 13:

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 15:

Up 1%. Frequency down to once a week?


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 7:

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

Total: 1,163,294 – 1,163,026 = 268 (268 * 365 = 97,820 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: Still low.

Excess Deaths

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

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. )

Stats Watch

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US unexpectedly increased 2.2% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.401 million in April of 2023, compared to market forecasts of 1.4 million. Data for March was revised sharply lower to 1.37 million from 1.42 million, as high prices, interest rates, and tighter lending standards continue to weigh.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 16 at 1:36 PM ET.

The 420

“A Retrospective Study to Determine the Impact of Psychedelic Therapy for Dimensional Measures of Wellness: A Quantitative Analysis” (preprint) [medRxiv]. n = 65. “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines wellness as the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. No study to date has identified the impact of psychedelic medicines on optimizing wellness using a dimensional approach. Using this approach, treatment effects can be measured more broadly using a composite score of participants’ global perceptions of change for pain, function, and mood scores. Given the precedence in previous work for retrospective studies of participants’ self-medicating with these substances, the nature of this study design allows for a safe way to develop further evidence in this area of care, with wellness as the broad indication…. The use of various psychedelic medicines may be associated with a broad range of changes that could help clarify the mechanism of how they impact wellness in the future. Pain, mental health, function, and overall quality of life accordingly improved after the use of these medicines. Minor differences between the drugs were not found as significant, indicating that the perceived benefits seemed to be specific to the psychedelic class. Numerous limitations exist to this type of study which was relatively small in size, retrospective and anonymous in nature.” • I loathe the very concept of wellness, not least because Obama made sure ObamaCare funded it. Nevertheless…. Paris is worth a mass…..

Class Warfare

“Elon Musk: Working from home is ‘morally wrong’ when service workers still have to show up” [CNBC]. “‘I think that the whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, ‘Let them eat cake,” Musk said. ‘It’s not just a productivity thing,’ Musk said. ‘I think it’s morally wrong.’ Musk referred to tech workers as the ‘laptop classes living in la-la-land,’ telling [CNBC’s David Faber] it was hypocritical to work from home while expecting service workers to continue to show up in person. ‘People should get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bulls***,’ Musk continued.'” • Musk is correct, but the only solutions are society wide: Air quality combined with universal masking.

Stochastic eugenics. You can bet 40-year-olds from rich families are doing fine, just fine:

Everything’s going according to plan!

News of the Wired

“Hardcover Chapbook 1.0” [DIY Bookbinding]. “Overall I was very pleased with the way this first edition turned out. But, I’ll be making a few changes for the next version. The biggest change will be my interior paper. I used the closest paper at hand to print the interior pages and it was too thin. Run of the mill copy paper is fairly thin and light weight. This caused a few issues. First, the printing on the back sides of the paper shows through. It also absorbed moisture from the glue when the cover was applied and warped the pages a little. Finally, it just feels flimsy. The paper I used is not awful, but my goal is to give this little book a high quality feel. So, I’ll be upgrading to a 32lb (120 gsm) paper for the interior on the next edition.” • Very nerdy! Also Jackpot-ready, on the assumption that this e-book thing is just a fad.

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

AM writes: “A scrawny azalea that I never noticed in prior years in the backyard, adding a little spring color. Grass getting green but rain needed!”

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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. Sub-Boreal

    Thanks for picking up on Dr. Patricia Daly’s utterances.

    Alas, she was just the warmup act for the latest, this time from Dr. Reka Gustafson (Chief Medical Health Officer, Island Health), who joins the ghoul parade.

    British Columbia continues to punch above its weight!

  2. But What Do I Know?

    RE: Musk and WFH — pretty big talk for a guy who fired all the janitors and then wouldn’t pay them. . .

    1. The Rev Kev

      Musk thinks that plebs should be in his plants building Teslas for him, even in the middle of a Pandemic, to make him more money. He also thinks that rush hours, office politics and super-expensive headquarter buildings for corporations that are empty for most of the day are a quite reasonable proposition.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Also restarted production when county wasn’t allowing that back in 2020. Should be in jail. But laws are for everyone else.

      2. skippy

        Every time Musk has a wobble there should be a in side by side screen pop up of Elmer Fudd doing the – ***I am a millionaire, I own a mansion and yacht*** …. shtick …

        Either that or a Webster’s dictionary definition of what a vulgar Oligarch is like …

    2. ashley

      he fired the janitors?! what an idiot. unless he’s replacing them with a contracted third party service (which, wouldn’t they already be?) what on earth is he thinking? is he even thinking? firing janitors is like the privatized version of sanitation going on strike only self inflicted.

      its not everyday im surprised…

  3. griffen

    Biden speech, I notice that Howard bestowed upon Joe an honorary Doctor of Letters. Think maybe they presented him a copy of Dr. Seuss “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” ? \sarc

    Continuing his portrayal as Dark Brandon in the “fight for the soul of the nation” speech delivery. Maybe he included some walk up music, like “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When I first saw that image of him in those robes, my first thought was that he was dressed most of the way in some sort of KKK garb. All he needed was a hood. And wasn’t it Biden who promised to be a unifying President when he first came in? This does not sound very unifying to me. More like divide and conquer – no matter what it does to the nation.

      1. griffen

        A sitting President or while on presidential campaign statements on the matter of who will be the current enemy of truth and the American way since circa 2001…

        George Dubya – If you aren’t with us, you are against us
        Obama – People that cling to their guns and religion
        Hillary – Basket of deplorables and / or Just Learn to Code
        Trump – You know, there are sort of good people on both sides

        Yeah I’m not that sure about the speech writers for any of the above examples or for Biden in this instance. At the end of the day, this is the same dude who I believe was a speaker at Strom Thurmond’s funeral. Not that it’s relevant much, I guess.

  4. semper loquitur

    ” Look, just because schools are death traps filled with an airborne Level 3 pathogen is no reason to avoid them!”

    Not to mention the airborne Level 5.56mm pathogens…

    1. JTMcPhee

      Don’t be missing the 9mm pathogens, lots of them flying about. The jacketed hollow point variants are particularly mortal…

      1. ForFawkesSakes

        That’s exactly what I intended to comment. This article has quite a disingenuous framing with the pandemic reference.

        Isn’t the number one cause of death for children in America recently updated for death by gunfire? It makes my middle school bullies seem pretty small in comparison.

  5. Jason Boxman

    The mental health doesn’t surprise me; It’s hard to read any of this and not simply be at a loss for words these days. The stupidest timeline isn’t even a fit description. The whole episode reflects a kind of deep moral rot, selfishness, and utter cluelessness, a fetishism with a normalcy that simply can’t exist. The fabric of American society is so thoroughly compromised, if such a thing ever was, it isn’t even possible to wright the ship. Any sense of collectivism is thoroughly stamped out, as it must be, for neoliberal capitalism to flourish.

    I don’t know what to make of the hospitalization charts. NC COVID dashboard says the same. Same for admissions although they’ve leveled off now, not declining. Wastewater also leveled off, no longer declining. But the SARS-COV-2 variants dashboard is showing XBB1.5 below 50%, but no clear winners amount the other variants. XBB1.16 and XBB1.9.1 still potentials. Not sure what’s up.

    Regardless, a 10% chance of long-COVID per infection seems enough of a reason to decline participation in this dystopian nightmare. And that’s before accounting for organ damage. SARS-COV-2 seems to crop up in all sorts of places as evidenced by autopsies. I wonder if we’ll see an increase in deaths from cardiovascular causes in the coming decades? Complications due to diabetes? This is all quite a mystery at this point.

    The only thing clear is tomorrow is likely to be worse than today, and so on.

    Stay safe out there!

    1. Samuel Conner

      > The stupidest timeline isn’t even a fit description

      Perhaps it’s actually “the most sociopathic timeline.”

  6. Angie Neer

    I’ve become sensitized to the idiom that we “catch” Covid, as in the tweet about the mother disabled by Covid in her care facility. I’m not nitpicking the grieving writer of that tweet, because it’s just common usage. But I would like to change that to we’re “given” Covid. It came from another person, not from the ether.

    1. ThirtyOne

      and while we’re at it, can we please ditch the phrase “shooting spree”? It brings to mind some fop poncing about a Macy’s buying expensive goods without a care.

  7. kareninca

    Yesterday I chatted with a Trader Joe’s cashier whom I hadn’t seen in a while. He wasn’t wearing a mask. He looked okay; not great but okay. I mentioned that he looked okay. Then he told me that he’d been wearing a mask for the last three years, but that just last week he had stopped wearing one. He said that he still might wear one in some contexts. I found that a little strange since it is hard to think of a much worse context for catching covid than cashiering for Trader Joe’s, but I did not say that. I did say that although I was partially still masking (in my N95) for the sake of my elderly at-home relative, I would still be masking even without that being a factor. I didn’t plead with him although I wanted to; I just wore my own mask and told him what I thought.

    The people he rang up before me were a young lady and her three kids. She looked worn down, which wasn’t surprising. The little girl looked okay, but the two little boys looked sick. They looked like they’d been sick for a while; their eyes were tired and their faces were reddened and they looked like the sorts of little boys who would be running around excitedly but they weren’t. There are probably all sorts of things that the TJ’s cashier can catch now that he’s not masking.

    1. JBird4049

      I am uncomfortable wearing a mask at Trader Joe’s as most of the people there are unmasked, but then I remember both what I have read and my own fun having Covid. So many people getting sick repeatedly is sad and enraging as the reason why they are not is because of the propaganda. As with Identity Politics, transgenderism, and the current distorted form of Critical Race Theory, it is a current example of what has happened in the past as in the Red Scare. Even if you know that what is being said is a lie, you are very likely to acquiesce and if you don’t already know, you are going to accept what everyone else is saying and doing. We are social creatures almost in a herd like way, which is another cause of of collective increasing insanity.

      These very ideologies with their denial of truth, aside from getting so many people killed or crippled, destroying the trust in our society’s institutions, not just the government, the almost inevitable backlash will endanger the very people that the proponents claim that they are fighting for. Minorities, gay, lesbians, bisexuals, sexuality that is “different, anyone not of the straight, bland sexuality and appearance.

      Changes in society can be both radical and fast happening, truly beyond the direct control of anyone. And yet, people have their little propaganda campaigns, social repressions, revolutions, and wars thinking that they control it much like how an overconfident meteorologist might believe that they can predict the weather. When you add the American tendency to messianic behavior going back four centuries, it is likely to get very interesting as well as violent, which is another American tendency.

      We’re a nation sized sugared up five year old child with delusions of maturity and competence, which also explains the elites’ and government’s Covid bananas treatment of Covid. The funny thing is that often times America is messianic and competent, which is when you get the World Wars and Project Apollo.

      1. kareninca

        I’m in Silicon Valley and there are still some people masking in Trader Joe’s. And they are disproportionately tall white men in their 60s or 70s, for some reason. I am guessing that they are tech workers who have read enough to be worried. I don’t feel even slightly ucomfortable wearing a mask there. The only places where I am reluctant to are at the auto repair shop I go to, and the plumbing supply store; the people in both places are very hostile to masking.

        I fear that all of the almost-sane but disagreeable stuff you are describing is going to be overtaken by widespread early onset dementia.

  8. Samuel Conner

    > the increase in demand for health care led to a rise in real GDP

    I suppose one could call this a Keynesian approach to public health (though I’m confident the great man himself would deeply disapprove of what has been done), except that instead of digging holes in which to bury bottles of money, they’re digging graves in which to bury ‘useless eaters.’

    1. jsn

      Ahh for the good old days when we just killed the planet to juice GDP.

      Our new “progressive” era is killing people for profit, the slower the more lucrative.

      Moloch holds nothing on this money religion.

    2. Wukchumni

      $4079 was my contribution to the ‘real GDP’ vis a vis healthcare.

      That was the billing price for a blood test & EKG @ a Park City Hospital in January…

      I paid $168 as my contribution, for I was ‘covered’ by health insurance.

      Now lets do it another way, this time with a car rental, which lets say will cost me $168 for a day in a Dodge Challenger, but the rental company will bill it @ $4079, about 25x my actual cost~

      …do I have to save the economy all by myself with innovative billing?

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “school avoidant behavior” and “…leave it to the PMC to invent a medicalizing term for it….“.

    First step is to make it seem medical, so the doctors can get going on the DSM entry, and thus making it a ‘real’ medical condition. Then, for those with insurance and access, the kids can be ‘treated’, most likely with a prescription to attend a ‘special’ (read: exclusive to PMC-ers) small-class-size school. Further drawing resources from the general public schools, and further widening the education gap in this country.

    Gotta follow the class interests on this one, rather than the money (though it will be there too).

    1. Mikel

      Also, I was reading that and wondering how much of it is avoidance of using the word drop-out.
      Don’t drop-out rates affect school funding?
      And some of the communities may want to convince themselves that drop-outs happen in those OTHER communities.

      But, in addition to the pandemic effects, the entire simmering violence of this society (which kiddies are reminded of with all the drills and day to day indignities – to live forever on anti-social media) is enough to increase drop out rates.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      About a pharmaceutical to address not wanting to go to school syndrome, back in the day we just called it weed. I’m told it made many mundane tasks more tolerable.

    3. Mikel

      And a medical condition that was treated probably plays better on college applications than “truancy.”

      In some places, students get kicked out of school for “school avoidant behavior.”

    4. Eclair

      So, pre-CoVid, we had lunch with our granddaughter, then a senior at an upscale New Jersey suburban high school. In the course of our small talk and family gossip, I asked her what was the main worry for her and her friends. Thinking, global-warming, college and job prospects, etc. She replied: that we will get killed at school.

      News reports of school shootings, plus regular ‘active-shooter’ drills at her school, only made her more aware of the possibility. During my school years, we had regular drills, crouching under our desks to avoid death by nuclear bomb. And, as far as we kids knew, no school in the US had ever been bombed. We still worried.

      School avoidance today seems to be a rational reaction to mass school shootings that occur in the US on a regular basis.

    1. C.O.

      Yes, and some schools are still making the kids go outside for recess. Who can blame them for preferring to stay home when even the teachers seem out to get them? (I have colleagues in Calgary who reported this to me.)

  10. Hepativore

    Actually, the whole point of the DNC making Biden run for a second term is probably so they can sneak Harris in as president through the back door after having Biden resign if he wins the 2024 presidential race. I remember back in 2020 he kept mentioning that he only wanted to serve one term. I think that is Exhibit A that the original plan was for the DNC to groom Harris as Biden’s successor for 2024, only for the Democratic leadership to find out how poorly Harris fared in terms of popularity and charisma.

    So instead, the DNC is dragging Biden’s shambling corpse along the 2024 campaign trail, while ignoring or shouting down anybody pointing out that the emperor has no mind along the way…then doing bait-and-switch with Harris shortly after Inauguration Day.

    This whole thing is very reminiscent of the Ruler of the Universe in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who was a delusional old man who lived in a crummy shack and was basically a figurehead. In this case, it is a government building in our political Capitol.

    1. aleph_0

      I feel like Biden’s sense of entitlement gets downplayed in a lot of this analysis. He basically has the DNC over a barrel since Bernie was unforgivable, and he lied to get this far. What’s one more: “Elect me and I won’t run for re-election.”

      He’s got better political sense than everyone around him, look at him getting Harris to take “ownership” for all the sticky stuff he was never going to touch, like the border.

      Anyway, I think the DNC may have their secret plans, but since 2009, I’ve seen them put nothing but Ls on the scoreboard so I don’t know how clever or thought out it would be.

      1. John

        DNC clever? I think not. Devious? Yes. Harris as VP feels like the Sword of Damocles poised over our heads, if the ticket wins. That is no sure thing. What evidence do we have that Harris has the chops to be president and not simply an entity to be managed as it certainly appears Biden is? I cannot be a party to another Biden term. He always was a second-rater and I see nothing to show that he has the wisdom of age … assuming there is such a thing… and I should know as I am six years older than he is and feel no wiser now than at any other time in my life. Longer time line is all.

        1. Samuel Conner

          > assuming there is such a thing

          at least until memory gives out, as one ages one does accumulate a longer and longer list of “choices that are likely to turn out worse than one thought they might”, which I think is what “wisdom” amounts to for most of us (or, at least, for me).

        2. Acacia

          The various groups who actually run the US only need “an entity to be managed”, so a President Harris would be just fine. Public opinion can also be managed à la Bernays, via a compliant media that is already ’embedded’ with the spooks. As the DNC’s own lawyers have explained, they are under no obligation to provide a fair primary. Smoky back room can seal the deal.

          So, I would agree with Hepativore, above, that this is easily the party-level thinking behind running Biden/Harris for a second term.

    2. Kyle

      Michelle Obama’s name is being tested around the voting circles right now. I think the DNC is waking up to the idea that no one wants Biden again.

      I said it in 2020 and I still believe it today – Biden will end up not running for a 2nd term and there will be someone on the ballot that no one had considered.

      They will end up winning by default because Trump and DeSantis will destroy each other during the primary season and spit that vote.

  11. t

    Randomly, this week I was in a giant hospital, an office tower full of mostly lawyers and financial groups, and a dentist. Air quality throughout all was low 600s. Only the hospital had a mask requirement (with plenty of unmasked scofflaws). Hard to imagine the office tower and dentist were always that good.

    1. Paradan

      1.We think it leaked out a hole in the bottom of the rail car during its 2 week trip.
      2.We’re sending it back to Wyoming to do a full inspection 2 weeks from now.

      WTF? there’s 30 tons of explosives missing, you already know it’s not in the flippin rail car, and yet you plan is to wait 2 weeks and inspect harder? How about you send some one along the tracks and look for ammonium nitrate pellets?

      This is a BS cover-up. Looks like the “white nationalists” are gonna make sure we all vote for Biden.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i hafta fill out a form at the feedstore to get a mere 50 pounds of that stuff.
        not that i use anything like that…like, at all…lol.
        pyrethrin is about as toxic as i generally get.
        only chem fertiliser i use is epsom salts(magnesium sulfate)
        manure is better…even with the persistent herbicide problem.

  12. ron paul rEVOLution

    At what point do Japan, Norway et al. stop being “peer countries?”

    1. chris

      When we destroy their economies and force them to heel. It doesn’t seem like the US is interested in raising its game. Much easier to bring others down.

      1. ron paul rEVOLution

        No, that’s when they will actually BE peer countries, if we look at factors like quality of life!

  13. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Train derails in Spencer Township, shuts down portion of State Route 301
    SPENCER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A train derailment in Spencer Township Medina County shut down a busy roadway, as crews worked to clean up the debris and remove the box cars Wednesday morning.



    No injuries reported following Union Pacific derailment in Pocatello

    POCATELLO — Approximately 20 train cars were derailed near the Pocatello Union Pacific railyard Tuesday night.

    The majority of the cars were empty, Tysver said. No spillage of hazardous materials or injuries have been reported.

    Cleanup is underway and an investigation has been launched into the cause of the derailment.


    [Note: “investigation” = doing something]

    1. Screwball

      Thanks for all you do. I’m a few hours from East Palestine, so I try to follow. Not good to this day.

      This is criminal.

  14. Swamp Yankee

    Re: Rhode Islander. East Bridgewater is in Massachusetts, Lambert, FYI. Sad news about Mr. Woodward’s death; he was likely driving very close to my house on an E. Bridgewater-Provincetown circuit.

  15. notabanker

    The one and only takeaway from the Durham Report, Mueller Report, Twitter files and just about everything published ouitside of NYT, WaPo and cable news:
    The incumbent Democratic President, Vice President, Democratic Candidate and the FBI conspired to smear the Republican Presidential candidate by knowingly planting false information accusing him of treason with Russia. Full stop. Period.

    And then they all did it again in 2020 with the suppression of the Biden files.

    They all should be tried under the Espionage Act for Treason, and should all right now be sitting in Gitmo awaiting trial. Anything short of this is a travesty of the US Constitution.

    Yet not one single publication or talking head has called this out, not a single one. This is an illegitimate government. That is now pure fact. All the talking bobblehead gobbledy-gook lessons learned and policy changes stuff is complete BS. These people conspired to violate US law to subvert a duly elected President under completely known false pretenses. They need to be held accountable at trial for it.

    1. ForFawkesSakes

      So at this time, we have an illegitimate Supreme Court, an illegitimate Presidential Administration, and a Congress which ranks lower in favorability than bedbugs.

      What do we do now?

      1. chris

        Cry? Rend garments? Gnash teeth?

        We have no options or agency here that I can see. The latest Sunday show circuit proved that the media and the DNC think the Republicans are “paralyzed” because they’re following their voters wishes. The amount of contempt for ordinary citizens necessary to hold that position as a political organization is astonishing. But it’s par for the Democrat party.

        Say it with me like the worst mantra ever…

        There is no alternative. If there is, we won’t let you hear about it. If you hear about it through unapproved means, we’ll destroy it. If we can’t destroy it, we’ll co-opt it. There is no alternative.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        turn our backs.
        participate as little as possible(ie: debt)
        get to know your neighbors, on their terms.
        refuse to give loyalty where it isnt deserved(“Mr president”)
        withdraw your consent.
        many other radicals say “they cant put us all in jail”
        i say we’re already in a huge, open air jail.
        time for reargard and redoubt.

  16. eg

    I call BS on whoever wrote “Macroeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic” — any reference to “crowding out” is an automatic “tell” for neoliberal framing.

    In the spirit of ee cummings “I Sing of Olaf, Glad and Big” there is some s(family blog)t I will not eat …

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘Because children were believed to be immune to COVID, schools returned to unsafe “in-person” instruction, masks were dropped & vaccinations were prohibited’

    Patent rubbish. They wanted kids, actually forced kids, to go back into school so that they would get infected. Then all those infected kids could go home and spread it to their parents, grandparents and neighbours. And after that happened they would have their magical bs ‘herd immunity.’ Boris Johnson actually came on TV and said that this was the plan to ‘take it on the chin’ and let it sweep through. They figured further that as kids have robust health, that not too many would die doing so – but their sacrifice would be appreciated. And it wasn’t just America that went with this idea but other countries like Oz and the UK. It did not matter that you can’t get herd immunity with a Coronavirus but this was the plan. To ‘manage’ the Pandemic because when you are part of a professional managerial class, that is what you do.

    1. digi_owl

      In the end it all comes down to the almighty profit margins.

      The economies have adapted themselves to both adults of a household being full time employees, thus the offspring had to the herded off elsewhere during working hours.

      The panic among politicians when it reached the western nations was not over lives lost, but how expensive anything but “let er rip” would be to their precious GDP.

  18. ashley

    “Biden calls white supremacy ‘most dangerous terrorist threat’ in speech at Howard” [Politico]. • Yeah, sheesh, the RussiaGate perps who organized to overturn 2016’s election result. Not a Black face among them. Wypipo, totally. String ’em up!

    you know, you can discount this all you want and even make fun of it, but biden is right. homegrown white nationalist christian (or as i like to abbreviate them, nat-c) terrorists are the most dangerous threat in terms of terrorism. far more so than islamic based. one only needs to look at the crime stats to see how many more incidents involve people with this mindset compared to islamist terrorism (most deaths from them were from one event, 9/11).

    even fucking goldwater warned us about these people.

    Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

    and then of course, the misattributed quote of sinclair lewis, who was never known to say/write this but would agree with it:

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross

    as somebody who would be targeted by fascists should they come to power (and thank god im in vermont rather than florida) we need to take the threat of them seriously. another reason to hate the democrats, who are sleepwalking us into a nightmare because they refuse to do anything besides carry water for corporations/the rich and place living corpses in positions of power.

  19. giantsquid

    Re: “SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the absence of selective immune pressures, results in antibody resistance, interferon suppression and phenotypic differences by lineage”

    In 1950, myxoma virus was introduced into European rabbits in Australia as a means of population control (by the Australian government, I believe). Infections of rabbits with this virus initially had a case fatality rate of 99%. Over the course of the next few years the virulence of the virus attenuated somewhat but the case fatality rate was still over 50%. Since that time rabbits have also been under genetic selection for resistance to the virus. This has become a case study that is often presented in college textbooks on evolutionary biology (and perhaps in textbooks on general biology as well). Fortunately, SARS-CoV-2 kills orders of magnitude less efficiently than the myxoma virus kills rabbits, meaning that the reservoir of hosts is not depleted in humans to nearly the extent it was in rabbits. In rabbits, the emergence of attenuated viruses, which led to a significantly increased host reservoir for the virus, made evolutionary sense. It also makes sense for a genetically more resistant population of rabbits to emerge over a relatively short time given the relatively short lifespan and high fertility rate of rabbits. It doesn’t make evolutionary sense for less virulent SARS-CoV-2 to emerge over a short time span. It does make sense for it to become more evasive to our immune response.

  20. Jay Ess

    At a conference I was compelled to attend by my employer earlier today, I saw several hundred people, and as I recall, only 3 masks (I was wearing one of them). CO2 levels were around 750 ppm according to my Aranet4. Not terrible, but also not great considering the conference hall was not very full. I didn’t observe anyone in the conference room who appeared to be sick. On the way out, I saw the front side of the young security guard or attendant I had walked past on my way in. He was slumped in his chair and had what looked like serious pink eye in both eyes. Not sure what to make of things these days…

  21. giantsquid

    “Australia unleashed myxomatosis on an out-of-control rabbit population in 1950. The European rabbit is thought to have been introduced to the country by Thomas Austin, an English settler, in the 1850s. Within a century, they numbered hundreds of millions. The species wreaked havoc on Australia’s native plants and animals but in less than three months, myxomatosis had spread 2,000 km and killed 99 per cent of infected animals. In 1952, the virus was illegally introduced in France and in 1953 it reached the UK, leading to similarly devastating results in both countries.
    Scientists soon began tracking the evolution of both the virus and the rabbits, and in all three countries, they observed a substantial drop in fatality rates. They concluded that this was due to the disease becoming less virulent but also rabbits becoming more resistant. Animal populations exhibit considerable genetic variation in susceptibility to infection which allows for rapid evolution of resistance when exposed to new diseases. The pandemics of the 1950s triggered a particularly intense process of natural selection. Those initial findings have become a textbook example of host-parasite coevolution but this new study offers a far more detailed picture of what has been happening in rabbits.”


    I think that this “textbook case”, may be the origin of the myth that viral virulence always attenuates over time. But SARS-CoV-2 kills humans magnitudes of order less efficiently than myxoma kills rabbits and human don’t breed like rabbits.

  22. kareninca

    I keep sending info about covid to a friend of mine who is in her 70s who has a kid and a step kid and grandkids. She is very interested in covid protection for herself, but has no interest at all in the covid health of her kid and step kid and grandkids. That is also the case of a friend of mine who has two sons in their 20s, and friends in New England who have grand kids (although they don’t care much about their own protection, either).

    I try and try and try to tell them that their kids and grandkids are at risk. But they give no sign of caring at all. In other ways they show that they care about these younger relatives, but not vis a vis covid. It is the strangest thing. I feel bad about young people being doomed to sick and shortened lives, and I haven’t even produced any young people, but these people – even the few who closely read what I send them about the perils – don’t seem to be worrying at all. Except, in some cases, about themselves.

    I know that readers here on NC are not like this, but this is what I am seeing among people I know.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, most people I know are similarly waving off the risks now, and apparently even the idea that there are risks. I have kind of given up trying to persuade anybody, though this week when I mentioned to a friend that the CDC has reversed its position again, and now suggests that all children attending schools should be masked — my friend noticeably froze for a second to digest this.

      Overall, it seems like the propaganda from our former “public health” agencies has worked. People think the epidemic is past. Everything is back to normal. Masks aren’t necessary. COVID is “mild”. Etc. etc. I can mention “10% chance of long COVID” but the phrase just seems to bounce off.


      even the few who closely read what I send them about the perils

      Here, my question would be: are they actually closely reading what you send them?

      1. kareninca

        Yes, one person in particular is reading the stuff carefully. She’s a smart person. She is the woman in her 70s with kid, stepkid, grandkids. She reads, truly understands, writes back to me emails that show me that she understands, and decides to not think about it.

  23. Acacia

    Re: “Hardcover Chapbook 1.0”

    This is pretty neat. Last year, I made a hardcover book with the help of two services: (1) Lulu, which is an online POD service, and (2) a local print shop that did most everything by hand. The whole project took about six weeks.

    For various reasons, I didn’t use a word processor, but instead worked from XML and made a custom layout using the open-source DocBook framework, with output to PDF. The hardest part was getting a bilingual index, as DocBook doesn’t do that so well, but the online DocBook community came to the rescue!

    Probably the most tricky part of the whole project was getting the dust jacket right.

    Lulu was quite slow to deliver, but less than USD 20 for a 160 page hardback, A5 size, using 80# paper, linen wrap, and a glossy cover. The local print shop did basically the same job in one day(!), but for around USD 65. The overall workmanship was noticeably better, and they had more options for the outer fabric, color, typeface on the spine, etc. Their semi-gloss dust jacket looked better, too.

    The Lulu book also had slightly warped pages at the spine — probably for the same reasons that the author of “Hardcover Chapbook 1.0” describes. Not terrible, tho.

  24. Acacia

    Re: “Hospitals create police forces to stem growing violence against staff”

    This was also the subject of a recent NC article — “As More Hospitals Create Police Forces, Critics Warn of Pitfalls” — and one of the first comments was from an RN who worked at an ICU for 12 years. S/he recounted being attacked every weekend, and concluded that “it’s always been a violent workplace.”

    Unfortunately, the commenter didn’t elaborate on causes, but I can’t help but wonder whether making sick people wait for hours and hours tends to elicit violence. It’s been years since I visited an ER, but I recall the hallways were backed up with semi-conscious homeless people laying on gurneys, groaning. After waiting for 90 minutes or so (again, this was years ago, so service was much faster), I was summoned by a nurse. Pointing at the nearest gurney, I asked “shouldn’t he go first…?” to which the nurse replied: “Nah, he’s fine.”

  25. Amfortas the hippie

    suddenly, the Library Chickens seemed to stop laying…no frelling eggs!
    I knew something was afoot.
    almost a week later, i located a nest behind the couch in the Wilderness Bar…hens of all sizes were taking urns sitting on it.
    dozen eggs.
    so i stole them….put them in the incubator, in what used to be Tam’s closet and is now the offfice/seed vault.
    4 days later i hear a cheep.
    run in circles to get the clear rectangular walmart tub ready…waterer, light, feeder, newspaper and some shavings and leaves.
    when the cheeper emerged at last, i scooped him or her up, dipped the beak in the water, and put it under the light.
    i was awakened by two more cheepers that night…3 more the next day…and 2 today.
    they come out of the egg all wet and greasy looking…and they cannot stand…but they can cheep/yell,lol.
    but when they dry out a bit, they turn in to “Day Old Chicks”, that i didnt hafta pay for…and that will replace what ive lost to coons and such….when they inevitably decide they’d rather take their chances with the coons….for some reason that i cannot yet fathom.

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