2:00PM Water Cooler 5/18/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, brunch today was far too long for me to get back to my desk in time, and far too liquid for me to be coherent had I been able to do so. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

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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 IM:

IM writes: “A plant top-up…one from Goldstream park on Vancouver Island. The salmon forest! Mostly big-leaf maples. There are a few Constable-sized rustics in this one for scale.”

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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. griffen

    Elon, how we hate to love or love to hate thee. Musk had a sit down interview this week with CNBC, live at the Tesla site in Austin, Texas. If one expected high jinks and chatter to evolve from this discussion you were not disappointed.

    He has famously taken a quote from Princess Bride, and actor Mandy Patinkin has turned the table on him as it were. This outtake is primarily discussing how Musk exhibits the urge and willingness to speak whatever pops in his head.

  2. Sub-Boreal

    I’m sure that we can all agree that a liquid brunch for Lambert is well-deserved!

    In today’s COVID / eugenics news & commentary, Ian Welsh is very good: “As Long Covid Increases Expect Government Policy To Rush Death”


    As with everything else in our society, you can pretend a problem isn’t real, or admit it is real and just do nothing, but the problem doesn’t go away because you ignore it. And if you ignore it long enough it can turn into complete catastrophe, as is true with climate change and ecological collapse, or as is true with all the problems caused by neoliberal policies (including, for Americans, the loss of their dominant world position and standard of living, something on the horizon if not fully here yet.)

    As usual, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the elites know that they personally will still get the very best care. But as with everything else, they won’t avoid the long term effects, because the Covid pandemic and thus increased levels of Long Covid and non-symptomatic but real damage will continue to accumulate in the population. Given how reinforcing cycles work, it is not hyperbole or exaggeration for effect to say that many societies may collapse under the strain of so much disabling and health damage.

    Elsewhere, the latest seepage from the British Columbia public health ghoul / harpy contingent is expertly dissected.

    1. some guy

      We need some very clear language for actions taken to protect oneself or oneselves from Jackpot.

      I have seen Jackpot Compliant and Jackpot-Ready. If other simple minds are as literal as my own, such words might look to them like they mean . . . . going along with the goal of getting you Jackpotted . . . and making yourself vulnerable to being successfully Jackpotted.

      I would offer the even-clearer phrases Jackpot Resistant, Counter Jackpot, antiJackpot, or other things like that. And when any reader sees a very clear phrase like that, he/she may realistically hope that the written material under the antiJackpot rubric will contain survivalist material enabling the reader to apply it to makes hermself resistant to certain Jackpot methods.

      For example, all the material NaCap is offering about immunity enhancement, corsi boxes, better masking, etc. is Counter Covid which is a way of being Counter Jackpot. Whereas Jackpot compliance means, to me, take your mask off, smile smile smile, and congregate with hundreds or thousands of people in a “ventilation forbidden here” superspreader space.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s very interesting and useful framing. The detail is so telling, and so overwhelming, that’s sometimes hard for me to take the 30,000-foot view (and I consider myself good at that).

      2. Sub-Boreal

        Good points.

        I do like “Jackpot Resistant”.

        “Jackpot Compliant” reminds me too much of superspreader events like the infamous recent immunologists’ dance party — better classified as “Jackpot Accelerating”!

      3. some guy

        Thank you both for the kind words. I know that money is tight and time is tighter, and the “assignment of work” to our hosts is very much discouraged.

        So I will just express the vaguer wish and hope that a way might be found to create a cyclicly-reappearing time-predictable feature or category about Jackpot Resistance and Repellence and Avoidance and etc. It could become an easily found home for a growing body of Covid avoidance and resistance material, both posts and comments. And perhaps people might bring advice and information about other aspects of Jackpot Resistance and Jackpot Immunity and Jackpot Readiness.

        If such a feature showed up one ( the same) day each week, it could be named something like . . . Anti-Jackpot Sunday, or something. As word spread, new people might come from far and wide to read it, thereby raising the eyeball count.

        Its not an assignment or even a request. Just a fond hope.

        1. some guy

          That’s a good phrase too. Different words and phrases should be tried and launched and see which ones take hold to permit the discussion to move onto the plane of some people successfully rejecting Jackpot for themselves and some others.

          ( If the whole society rose up and wiped out all the people responsible for the Jackpot Industrial Complex, so that the Jackpot Plan was stopped in its tracks, that would be nice. But will that happen? And can we wait around for that to happen without taking our own antiJackpot measures in the meantime?)

          1. Wukchumni

            Wouldn’t ‘Jackplot’ be more appropriate?

            We’re all gonna end up with jack shit when we eventually sit down to a banquet of consequences, after living so far beyond our means as a society.

            1. some guy

              I am restricting myself to the Jackpot side of things and how to approach it.

              If you want to try advancing the ” it serves us right and it is God’s punishment upon us” approach, you can certainly try it and see how it works out for you.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Not so much a Jackpot as a Ziggurat pyramid and we are now slowly descending, one terrace at a time.

                1. some guy

                  Well . . . the word ” Jackpot” in this context is referring to the “Jackpot” concept in William Gibson’s recent novel .. . the time of the great dieoff of 80% of the world’s people from various different causes all piling up over time.

                  So since “Jackpot” is now familiar to us readers and getting more so, it seems a good word for a relevant category, IF our hosts decide such a category is needed, wanted and desirable.

                  If “Jackpot” never becomes deeply famiiar to non-readers of this blog, perhaps totally different words and phrases could be used when speaking to the outside world; phrases such as . . . the Long Dieoff, mankind’s Long Death March through the Valley of Selection, the Age of Darwin Filtration, etc.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    I tend to follow John Michael Greer’s idea that there won’t be just a big collapse but a series of crisis that will leave things worse than before with each crisis. As an example, look at Europe. Before the war they were prosperous and pretty much secure. But through the blowback of their own sanctions, the post-war Europe will be much less prosperous, countries like Germany will be de-industrialized, there will be a weapons race and there will also be mass unemployment and much less stability. So the new norm in Europe will be much more worse than before – and they never even had a battle there. One more step on the Ziggurat down.

                    1. some guy

                      I think that is how William Gibson described ” the Jackpot” itself in his novel.

                      It was a name given after-the-fact to a hundred years or so of cascading and overlapping and force-multiplying separate death-and disease-and famine processes all adding up.

                      And so, wannabe-survivors would need to prepare for various kinds of breakdowns and shortages and disease outbreaks and etc. Not just One Big Dramatic Great Plague.

                      Jackpot Resistance would have to be a whole way of life.

    2. Acacia

      Thanks for the link to Welsh’s article. Good summary of where things stand and what to expect going forward.

  3. Tom Stone

    A recommendation or two.
    For SF/Fantasy fans, Lois Bujold who is right behind Heinlein in the awards category.
    If you’d like to learn about the culture of California’s Central Valley, Gerald Haslam’s works.
    And if you like car camping in N Cali I recommend Domingo Springs Campground, take the dirt road in from Child’s Meadows to save some time.
    This is one of the most beautiful spots I have camped and the water from the spring is superb, the fishing in lake Almanor is excellent and the Campground is seldom full even on the 4th of July or Memorial day.

    1. marku52

      I loved the first two Curse of Chalion books. She creates a wonderful religion, the Five Gods (Father Son, Daughter Mother, and the Bastard-the god of the leftovers), where at death each person is taken up by their particular god. this is indicated by actions of the temples sacred animals,, one for each god. A religion I could almost believe in. The action in the book comes about because of a death where no god takes up the body. It’s malignant spirit is left to haunt the living.

      And the first chapter of the Curse of Chalion is one of the most beautiful pieces of work I have ever read.

      Full info, I did not like the follow on –Sharing Knife. Ah well.

  4. flora

    Katie and Aaron, Useful Idiots, utube, ~27 minutes.

    Adam Schiff, Keith Olbermann, and more members of the Russiagate cult known as BlueAnon became fantastically enraged this week when fellow conspiracy theorist Jake Tapper admitted on CNN that the Durham Report, which showed there was no collusion between Trump and Russia, is “devastating to the FBI.”

    BlueAnon Cracks under Russiagate Report



    1. Screwball

      Thanks for the link flora. According to my PMC friends the Durham report is nothing and they are still fully in with Russia, Russia, Russia.

      In other news, several Twitter sources are reporting Dennis Kucinich has become the campaign manager for RFK Jr.

      I hear more heads exploding.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That will be interesting. When Dennis ran for mayor again here in Cleveland a couple of years ago, his mailer used a converted Cleveland trademark by adding a dripping blood theme to compliment an anti-crime campaign message. Essentially, all the institutions in the city ganged up on him, and he just missed the run-off. It wasn’t much different from what happened to Nina Turner when she ran for Congress in a district comprised mostly of the city.

        Dennis will be a good influence on Bobby when it comes to foreign policy.

        1. Screwball

          I’m about 2 hours from Cleveland and it’s been entertaining over the years to watch both, and how the party has dealt with them. Telling, IMO. Not that I’m a fan of either, but fun to watch. Both do say many good things that I like, but at the end of the day…

          I’m glad to see this. I don’t think this will matter, in the big picture, but maybe another voice to force the captured media to at least cover it.

          This might be the most entertaining election ever. It shouldn’t be that way, but here we are.

          I’m still going with FUBAR

        2. Phenix

          RFK Jr is already strong on foreign policy. He has many podcasts on this issue.

          RFK Jr is excellent on big pharma, environmental issues, and foreign policy. He does not articulate a strong social/domestic policy and this is where I would expect to see Kucinich’s imprint.

          Is it not great on East Palestine. He is pushing better breaks and more workers not how the train cars are out together.

            1. some guy

              He might try asking the ” small donors for Sanders” to see if they will resume such an effort.

              But he will have to convince them that he is not a nice guy, the way Sanders was.

              He may have to go so far as to promise, and mean it, that if he does not get the DemParty nomination, that he will ask his supporters to support an Independent effort in some key electoral-college-victory-denial states, in order to burn down large parts of the political-electoral system.

              1. Acacia

                Is there any chance he’ll have greater chances of making it onto ballots than Nader?

                1. some guy

                  I cannot predict chances. The “Kennedy” name does have more recognition and may gather more supporters. He may also have better political feelings for things than Nader had/has.

                  If he tries to get on the ballots in some states and the DemParty plots to keep him off with shysterlegal lawfare methods, he and his supporters may well decide which “on the ballot” choices to all vote for in certain key states so as to destroy their targets’ chances of getting an electoral college margin of victory.

                  But who knows what “could” happen?

                  1. Acacia

                    We’re in the realm of the “could”, for sure, but I would say the Dem Party will absolutely use shysterlegal lawfare methods to shut out any competition, so we can bank on that.

                    USians have demonstrated time and again that they won’t vote strategically against the duoparty, so I think we can say the chances of that are pretty slim.

                    Which sort of points towards the question of how many Dems will issue another f.u. vote for Trump? In 2016, it was millions of former Obama voters. Somehow I doubt that many would vote Trump again, though the Dems are doing their best to anger people and push them in that direction.

              2. annie watts

                He may have to go so far as to promise, and mean it, that if he does not get the DemParty nomination, that he will ask his supporters to support an Independent effort in some key electoral-college-victory-denial states, in order to burn down large parts of the political-electoral system.

                I believe you’re right, and I also believe this is very important. Too many people felt let down by Bernie – and that’s putting it mildly – after giving their time and money to his campaign. Many devoted essentially their entire lives.

                RFK Jr, in his interview with Russell Brand, said, “At the convention, when the nomination happens, the superdelegates are very, very influentilal and he’ll (Biden) get a hundred percent of those, so…”

                But in his interview with Breaking Points, Krystal Ball finished by asking him if he’ll run third party. He said he’s in it to win the Democratic Primary and he has no plan B:

                Krystal: “Do you plan to support whoever the Democratic nominee is, and do you have any intention of running third party if your run in the Democratic primary doesn’t..(inaudible because RKK Jr interrupts, but it sounds like she says “pan out?”)

                RFK Jr: (Interrupting, and speaking adamantly): “I plan on winning the Democratic primaries and getting the Democratic nomination.”

                Krystal: (Interrupting RFK as he’s completing his sentence): “Okay, but, you know, they’re rigging things, they’re not going to allow debates – it’s going to make it very difficult for you. If something happens and you do not succeed, what’s next?”

                RFK Jr: (Not quite as adamantly): “I do not have a plan B.”

                Krystal: “No plan B?

                RFK Jr: “No.”

                Krystal: “And do you plan to endorse – if Joe Biden is the nominee, or Marianne Williamson – do you plan to endorse the eventual nominee?”

                RFK Jr: “You know, I doubt if I would endorse anybody who is supporting the war. That’s what my, um, you know, I…

                Krystal: (Interrupting) “So you could endorse Trump then?”

                RFK Jr: “Uh, I, uh, I don’t see that happening.”

                Sagaar: “You would never endorse President Trump?”

                RFK Jr: I..I don’t…I think we have so many differences in style and approach that, um…that I, uh…I probably would never end up there.”

                But if RFK Jr knows that Joe Biden is going to be awarded the superdelegates by the DNC, then he knows he can’t win the Democratic primary.

                I also don’t understand why he would describe his differences with Trump as being of “style and approach.” While there is overlap with Trump on reining in the military, RFK Jr has major substantive differences with Trump on how the country should be structured. He ought to say so.

                Sabrina Salvati (“Sabby Sabs”) does a nice job breaking this down. The video is about thirty minutes and includes the clips with Brand and Breaking Points:


                1. flora

                  The superdelegates exist to ensure democracy doesn’t break out in the Dem party. / ;)

                  Per wiki, read the ORIGINS subheader info:

                  Further soul-searching took place among party leaders, who argued that the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of primary elections over insider decision-making, with one May 1981 California white paper declaring that the Democratic Party had “lost its leadership, collective vision and ties with the past,” resulting in the nomination of unelectable candidates.[12] A new 70-member commission headed by Governor of North Carolina Jim Hunt was appointed to further refine the Democratic Party’s nomination process, attempting to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates exemplified by the liberal McGovern or the anti-Washington conservative Carter and lessening the potential influence of single-issue politics in the selection process.[12]


                  I’ve seen the “collective wisdom” of Dem party leaders for 50 years now.

                2. Acacia

                  Agree wth flora, above, and as annie watts says:

                  But if RFK Jr knows that Joe Biden is going to be awarded the superdelegates by the DNC, then he knows he can’t win the Democratic primary.

                  This. RFK has no chance.

                  Ergo, further discussion of RFK as a serious contender seems pretty academic.

                  1. some guy

                    If he came to convention with so many delegates that only the Superdelegates could prevent his nomination, He could ” burn down the convention” if he wanted to. he and his whole movement, if there were to be one.

                    He could make such a Superdelegate Victory pyrrhic. He and his movement could be Trumpish about it. They could deny the Superdelegate Nominee the election under this scenario.

                    So it may not be academic at all if Kennedy were prepared to be “ruthless” about it.

                    ” Today is the day I take care of all Family Business.”

                    1. Acacia

                      Many hypotheticals here.

                      He doesn’t even have a movement yet.

                      Not sure what “burn down the convention” means, but it seems more likely the police crack a few skulls, the DNC get their choice, and everybody goes home.

                      This is all premised on a desire to reform the party from within, which, to me, at least, feels like hoping that Lucy will let Charlie Brown kick the football.

                    2. some guy

                      Time will tell. I am prepared to wait and see what develops and maybe get marginally involved as a low-energy citizen if there seems to be a point to it.

                      If all the dominos fall just right, will RFKjr let himself be Charlie Browned?

                      What deeply private discussions is he having with his family? If they are discussing things like . . . are his wife and children prepared to accept the possibility of seeing him assassinated if the establishment decides he is getting too successful? If they have, and if they are, then he will go into political war-fighting with a readiness to take greater risks for greater stakes than George McGovern or Bernie Sanders were.

                      And if he and his loved ones are accepting of the possibility that the loved ones themselves may be kidnapped or death-threatened or assassinated as a way of getting to RFKjr, and they are all accepting of that risk as well; then he is once again ready to take greater risks for greater stakes.

                      And if that happens, could he and/or his family count on millions of supporters to not let such an assassination go by peacefully, the way the assassinations of prior Kennedies were peacefully accepted? If the Kennedies knew that the death of one or more of them would be violently, perhaps even mass-violently avenged; that might also inspire a Candidate Kennedy to get take high risks for high stakes.

                    3. Acacia

                      And if that happens, could he and/or his family count on millions of supporters to not let such an assassination go by peacefully, the way the assassinations of prior Kennedies were peacefully accepted?

                      You’re definitely considering the worst case here. ;) Interesting train of thought.

                      I would submit, though, that the answer is pretty clearly “in fact, no, they could not count on those millions of supporters to seek justice”.

                      After all, millions of USians have collectively sucked up pretty much everything else that’s happened including and since Dealey Plaza. Of course there have been outrage and movements, but something really happening at a broad, national level that changed the US? They sucked up the lies about Vietnam. You could say that the anti-war movement was effective, but it disappeared and the Empire has carried on. And thus, USians sucked up 9/11, getting dragged into wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, conflicts in Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine. They sucked up “we tortured some folks”. They sucked up the Patriot Act, a massive expansion of surveillance and de facto abrogation of important parts of the Constitution (freedom of assembly, post-9/11? Good luck. Or, the Fourth Amendment in the age of “Total Information Awareness”? Lol). Millions of USians have sucked up a long list of cynical lies from TPTB (Obama pretending to drink Flint water, etc.). USians have sucked up the gutting and outsourcing of US industry. They’ve sucked up a series of bank bailouts, millions got foreclosed on and sucked that up. Democrat voters sucked up Bernie getting stabbed in the back and thrown under the bus — twice even. They sucked up Russiagate (nobody will get punished, of course, the Durham report will be forgotten). They were hoodwinked about Hunter’s laptop — and will suck that up. They’ve sucked up a collapsing “health care” system, and a million plus deaths from Covid because the CDC has lied repeatedly about simple sh*t like Covid is airborne. Etc. Etc. Basically, it rather seems like the jackpot is happening in slow motion and USians are sucking it up (here, I very much agree with your comments on the Jackpot in the previous WC).

                      So is this vast, dispirited, and disunited polity — cowed by unaccountable capital, state and police power –, is it going to actually rise up if another Kennedy gets felled by a “lone nut”…? I don’t see it happening. Not a chance.

                      Moreover, anybody in the blob who would go as far as to organize and assassinate RFKjr also knows that USians would suck it up, and they could act with impunity. And the Kennedies are probably well aware of this too.

            2. Martin Oline

              I made a token donation to his campaign immediately after hearing he was considering a run. I suspect they will be getting a lot of volunteers. They are now selling T shirts to raise campaign money but no bumper stickers or yard signs are available yet. They have a counter on the shirt orders so you can judge the sales they are making over time.

  5. ambrit

    Just to stir the pot.
    Whether or not you accept that the Russians blew up a Patriot missile battery in Kiev, consider that the battery in question launched thirty missiles in two minutes before the explosions on the ground at the site of the battery. Each Patriot missile reputedly costs five million dollars each. Thirty times five comes out to one hundred and fifty; times a million. ($150,000,000 USD.)
    What could we have done here “at home” to the benefit of civil society with one hundred and fifty million dollars?
    Our “Ruling Elites” are objectively insane. Time for them to go, willingly or otherwise.
    Stay safe in our increasingly dangerous world.

      1. ambrit

        More like; “Put it all on the Reds, croupier.” (But then, I imagine that you included those puns in your original formulation.)

    1. some guy

      Our ruling elites are doing what they do. They made most of the money from that 150 million dollar launchgasm. So they would call themselves not insane at all. And I might agree. The elites attached to the side of society are no more insane than the sea lampreys attached to the side of a lake trout.

      One doesn’t have to call the lampreys “insane” to want to strip them off and kill them all, personally, in detail.

      1. ambrit

        Fair enough, but I do observe that a large part of our “ruling elites” exhibit the characteristics of sociopathy. Sociopathy is listed “officially’ as a mental illness. So….

        1. some guy

          Also fair enough . . .

          Perhaps the two different models of “what the elites are” should both be kept in mind for use in different situations according to which model lets us harm their interests and/or their existence more effectively.

          1. ambrit

            Right. Oversimplifying an issue is a trick. It makes it much easier to distract and deceive the public.
            Then again, someone in the political class once observed that “people” don’t vote for policy, but vote for personality.
            It has always been an uphill struggle.

    2. marku52

      I think it was almost a tenth of the yearly production, which also indicated a teeny probem

      1. ambrit

        Aren’t there some Patriot batteries in Poland as well?
        I wonder if the Israeli weapons industry isn’t making their own versions of the Patriot missiles on the cheap. They have a pretty good munitions industry I have read.
        This also highlights the differences between the national strategies. Russia seems to have decided to do both good and numerous. Good missiles and numerous artillery shells. America seems to have bet the farm on “Wunderwaffen.”
        Time will tell.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I believe that the Germans put some of their Patriot batteries in Poland and then the Poles p***** the Germans off by demanding that they be located right in the Ukraine itself. The Israelis have their Iron Dome system and the US has bought two of them. One is stationed in Guam now and there is talk of sending the second to the Ukraine. But after the Patriot fiasco in Kiev, I would imagine that the Israelis would be demanding that that not happen lest it too be ‘damaged.’ How bad were those Patriot systems damaged? Alex Christoforou says ‘Tis but a scratch.’

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmInkxbvlCs (2:55 mins)

    3. petal

      When I read stuff like that, all I think of is opportunity cost. What could have been done for our own citizens with all of that money? sigh. How many homes (completely paid off) for people that need homes, medical bills, school repairs, new water treatment facilities and replaced pipes, etc. You can change a lot of lives forever with 150 million.

      1. ambrit

        Oh yes. I have read a bit about the pushback the Base Closing Committee experienced, even when everyone admitted that a lot of the American domestic bases were not needed nor used any more.
        Here’s hoping that you and like minded scientists are planning your very own Terminus Refuge.

  6. antidlc


    Feinstein Suffered More Complications From Illness Than Were Publicly Disclosed

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, 89, whose recent bout with shingles included contracting encephalitis, is frailer than ever. But she remains unwilling to entertain discussions about leaving the Senate.

    When she arrived at the Capitol last week after a more than two-month absence recovering from shingles, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, 89, appeared shockingly diminished.

    Using a wheelchair, with the left side of her face frozen and one eye nearly shut, she seemed disoriented as an aide steered her through the marble corridors of the Senate, complaining audibly that something was stuck in her eye.

    1. CharlesMcCabesGhose

      Her right eye?

      Enough of the Hagiography please.

      Everyone in the know in San Francisco is aware the Feinstein, she was once young, seduced Dan White and got him to assainate Mayer Moscone and Harvey Milk, thus propelling her into the Mayor’s office and the beginning of her upper political career.

      1. some guy

        Is there any evidence to the effect that she had something to do with that? Any articles which could be linked to?

    2. IM Doc

      Herpes zoster encephalitis is a catastrophic problem. It is excruciatingly painful and often long spells on ventilators and all the brain altering sedatives and their damage that entails.

      This is a very unusual issue, comes my way about once every 5 years or so, but I have never seen anyone survive this mentally intact. As she is demonstrating, there are often lots of issues with cranial nerve function for life —— eye drooping, speaking, swallowing, facial movement issues.

      I have no doubt she is quite impaired if this is indeed the diagnosis. Severe shingles like this have really come to the fore with both Covid and the vaccines. The first vaccine death I had was a similar aged lady who had a severe shingles of the cranial nerves. She could not eat or swallow or talk and eventually succumbed.

      1. Joe Well

        Speaking of vaccines, why wouldn’t the shingles vaccine have prevented such a severe outcome?

    3. digi_owl

      Ms. Feinstein flew on a chartered private plane last week to return to Washington, accompanied by her dog, her longtime housekeeper and Nancy Corinne Prowda, the eldest daughter of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the former House speaker who has been a longtime friend of Ms. Feinstein’s and has been practically living at her house during her recovery.

      Good grief, the exceptional nation indeed…

    4. Sam

      Reminds me of when my mom had a stroke. My dad and I wanted to take her to hospital, but she refused to go and insisted that she was okay. Her sister was a nurse and she came out, scooped her up and off they went. People who have a brain injury often are not aware that they do. I know. I suffered the effects from a traumatic brain injury and had no idea I was forgetting as much as I was. But Feinstein has been mentally altered for years and every person who has daily contact with her knows that. Lots of democrats talked about it just before they put her in charge of the Barrett confirmation hearings.

      1. some guy

        Maybe that’s why they diddit. As part of a stealth conspiracy to get Barrett accepted.

    1. John

      I am a couple of years younger than Feinstein and still working. I have also requested of successive bosses to tell me it is time to go should I appear to be losing it. So far so good. Sen. Feinstein is from my point of view now an object of pity and if, as I read, she is “managed” who is representing California in the Senate, not that anyone in Congress pays attention to the will of the people … unless they are donors, but donors never lower themselves to the category of people.

      1. Carla

        Donors never rise to the category of people. You know, we have exactly the wrong attitude about this. Please try to remember, everybody: there are a lot more of us than there are of them. A LOT MORE.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Jim Morrison used to sing:

          They got the guns,
          but we got the numbers.

          Five to One

          But this is ‘Murca, so maybe we got the guns too.

      2. kareninca

        Are you saying that I should pity her? That hadn’t occurred to me. I will have to think about that. Hmmm.

        1. some guy

          Perhaps she is reaping what she and her husband have sown . . . . in Karma terms.

          The problem is that the rest of us get to be force-fed the harvest. The Democrats “care”, but they don’t care enough to look for ways to force her out or throw her out of the Senate.

          Its the Littlest Big Club in America, and each Senator has every other Senator’s back. ( Except for the Democrats’s betrayal of Senator Franken, which still leaves me a little confused. Perhaps he just wasn’t their kind of Democrat the way Feinstein is. Perhaps they felt he should never have been allowed into the club in the first place. If any DemParty operatives are reading this comment, they can see that I have a long memory. And they might ask themselves . . . am I the only one who does?)

  7. Mark Gisleson

    For future reference, I saw something somewhere about adding a splash of scotch to gin being rather amazing and I finally got a sore throat so I could try it. I used drambuie instead of scotch and it was indeed amazing, my mouth is absolutely certain it’s never tasted anything quite like it and wanted more but I’m on a you’ll-never-lose-weight-if-you-drink diet.

    Sharing this because there is a critical shortage of cocktail recipes in the world today. I would share the exact recipe but that was the exact recipe.

    1. Janeway

      In a similar vein, a splash of brandy and Tia Maria on the rocks is simply sublime for sipping pleasure.

    2. bdy

      Tequila and pickle juice is all the rage, for good reason. Delicious with the dill, equally tasty with the bread and butter.

  8. ProNewerDeal

    Any forecast on the future of Covid?

    What is the status of the nasal vaccine development? Could the nasal vaccine provide sterilizing immunity?

    As a USian, should I presume that the People’s CDC advice of using N95 masks in indoor public buildings, will continue indefinitely or at least for the next 3 years?

    1. some guy

      Probably for the next few decades, unless pro-health political forces take over the government and turn the organs of anti-public anti-health into organs of public health again.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What is the status of the nasal vaccine development?

      There are many projects, and one (from Bharat) actually on the market in India.

      > Could the nasal vaccine provide sterilizing immunity?

      It could, since that’s where SARS-CoV-2 first finds a lodgement and starts multipying; the mechanism is quite clear. But we don’t know that it does. (Oddly, the Bharat vaccine seems undertested, even though it licenses technology from Washington University in St. Louis). IIRC, there are some animal studies that are encouraging.

      Prediction is hard, especially about the future. That said, this is mine, and I’m sticking by it:

      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).

      Another way of saying “immune dysregulation” is, of course — carefully lower-cased — “acquired” “immune” “deficiency” “syndrome.” One might imagine that Covid delivers the punch that sets us all up for the knockout — a fungus, for example.

      I do find cause for optimism in that I think the antimask stuff has gone about as far as it can go. There is a hard core, and a reasonably large one — say, 20% of the population? — that just isn’t having it. And there’s organizing beginning to spring up around it. I think the “normalcy” stuff is a little shopworn, too. Enough people still can see. Finally, improved ventilation standards and a whole lot of ventilation/masking DIY is really, really encouraging.

      1. Carla

        Lambert, Yves mentioned in a comment on another thread that CovidTrap is available w/o prescription in Thailand.

        Not recalling it, I did a search but DuckDuckGo is so crapified that there are just a few entries from 2020 and nothing else.

        Can you point us to any good, more recent info about CovidTrap?


  9. Fred

    Didn’t see any mention or expansion of Pence’s comment about removing jobs from the Fed’s directive. Maybe no one cares what Pence says, or it’s just more Republican supply side economics.

  10. Roger Blakely

    In today’s Osterholm Update Dr. Michael Osterholm reveals that he has something like long COVID.

    The team at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Minneapolis has been putting out a podcast every week or every two weeks since the beginning of the pandemic. Dr. Osterholm finally got COVID-19 three years into the pandemic.

    By the end of February he was feeling good about the pandemic. With all of his booster shots and his trusty N95, he was excited to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert at the beginning of March. He does not think that he picked up the variant from the concert. However, his confidence was a factor in him picking up the variant during his daily activities around that time.

    In today’s podcast he reveals that, two months after the initial infection, which almost put him in the hospital, he is still suffering from fatigue. At this point he regrets ever having gotten COVID-19.

    My point is that confidence about SARS-CoV-2 is unwarranted. SARS-CoV-2 is a special virus. SARS-CoV-2 is still a big deal even if the world wants to pretend otherwise.

    1. kareninca

      “With all of his booster shots and his trusty N95, he was excited to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert at the beginning of March.”

      I don’t think N95s are magic. I think they are helpful. I think it is truly stupid to test them to their limits in that way.

      1. Nikkikat

        I agree this sounds pretty stupid. My brother has had Covid as well, he regularly attends concerts and events maskless. I look at it like he has no self control. I went to concerts all the time prior to to the pandemic. My brother also. He has been doing as he pleases, eating in restaurants attending sporting events and concerts. I still even go to grocery store early in the morning between 6 and 7 am. I wear a 3m N 95 mask and do not do anything much even outdoors. No one comes in my house without a mask on. Most service people do not give me trouble about it. These people just have no self discipline. I used to see Springsteen every time he toured multiple times. He now hangs around with Obama and invites Michelle to come on stage and dance with him. The thought of paying good money to watch him dance with Michelle Obama turns my stomach. Springsteen can go to hell before I would ever attend one of his concerts again, pandemic or not. At any rate I have given up the better part of my life to stay alive. I am 67 and in fairly good health but I have the self control to avoid these sorts of death traps.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    In the Good News department (from yesterday, but still valid), Liz Holmes’ request to delay her jail sentence was denied.

        1. ambrit

          Perhaps, unless the Feds send her to the MiniPen they sent Martha Stewart to.
          There really is a Club Fed.
          Secondly, there is also a two tier legal system in America. This includes “regular” and “special” prisons.
          (I wonder if the prison authorities will allow Holmes’ “nanny” to breast feed the baby behind bars?)

  12. TomDority

    Banning TIK TOK in Montana
    That Montana Governor must be one scared cat… yellow maybe.
    Thank god he is such a brave person, standing up against evil, protecting all his constituents with such brave patriotism…. Not.
    What next….get that Restrict act passed … such a great way to get around the 1st Amendment to the US constitution.
    I am not surprised given how pathetic the Dems have been about getting over the low bar of High Crimes and misdemeanors in application to Trump. I suppose both Dems and Repubs just want to talk big and macho about upholding the constitution but then act scared when the S hits the F

  13. JTMcPhee

    Canadians are such NICE people, Eh?

    One third of Canadians fine with prescribing assisted suicide for homelessness —
    Roughly the same number told a poll they were fine with approving MAID for someone whose only affliction was poverty

    Must be a big PMC club north of the border — something for us Yanks to aspire to. Might maybe have something to do with all the Ukrainian-heritage “nationalists” that have proliferated up there?


    1. some guy

      I doubt that Ukrainians are anywhere near a third of Canada’s population. I wonder how many Canadians answered that question “yes” in hopes that numbers of very poor First Nations people might take that way out if offered assistance.

      1. Wukchumni

        How many Chuks could Canada Chuk if a suffix could Chuk words?

        (apologies to Terry Sawchuk)

        1. some guy

          How many Chuks could a Canachuck chuck if a Canachuck could chuk chuks?

          Or . . . how many mots could a marmot mar if a marmot could mar mots?

  14. upstater

    Norfolk Southern/ East Palestine update and Rail Safety Act of 2023

    Norfolk Southern is on pace to restore East Palestine main line in early June (Trains magazine)

    CEO Shaw is very upbeat: [emphasis added]

    “I was in D.C. yesterday … there are a lot of things in that bill that make a lot of sense, and there are a lot of things in the House bill that make a lot of sense,” Shaw says. “I can tell you that the Senate bill is in much better shape having come out of markup last week than it was going into markup.”

    I really don’t think a lot of the things in that bill are too overly burdensome for the rail industry or for our customers,” Shaw says. “In fact, one of the primary focuses of that bill is enhanced tank car standards and I understand that the American Chemistry Council has endorsed the bill.”

    Doesn’t that say everything about how toothless the Rail Safety Act of 2023 has become? The ROI on lobbyists and lawyers is astronomical.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Before it is too far removed in our rear vision mirrors, something about the recent Eurovision awards. No, I could not be bothered watching it but Alex Christoforou brought up something that I completely missed. The winner this year was Sweden and the runner up Finland so bully for them. But in a complete and total coincidence, which two countries are being brought into NATO again? And the Ukraine was the winner last year because they were so fantastic or something? And under the rules of Eurovision, you cannot submit a song that has a message against another country – unless like the year before that you were the Ukraine and got a pass to sing a song that had a message against Russia. All legit and above board otherwise.

  16. anon in so cal

    Kudos to Los Angeles County Dept of Public Health:

    May 18, 2023

    Amid Changes in Federal COVID-19 Data Reporting, Public Health Maintains Robust Monitoring in Los Angeles County – Local COVID-19 Data Helps Inform Individuals, Public Health Actions

    Amid changes in federal COVID-19 data reporting, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) will maintain robust collection and monitoring of local COVID-19 information as part of its continuing commitment to pandemic preparedness, with the goal of providing residents and businesses with up-to-date information to guide appropriate protective strategies.

    While the emergency phase of the pandemic has ended, Public Health remains focused on protecting vulnerable residents and ensuring the county remains prepared for future potential changes in transmission due to the constantly evolving nature of the COVID-19 virus.

    Timely local data will be used to identify trends and provide appropriate guidance and resources, giving residents the tools to make informed decisions about personal and community risk when needed. Public Health will utilize both the CDC’s hospital admission levels and guidance to inform Los Angeles County’s local public health response.



    “Required Masking of Workers in Healthcare and Direct Care Settings”

  17. The Rev Kev

    The Chinese requested that the different Embassies in Beijing stop putting up posters in support of such causes as the Ukraine because really, it’s not their job. The Irish came out and rejected that saying-

    ‘In keeping with Ireland’s position on the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing has, continuously since the invasion, incorporated visual reminders of Ireland’s support for Ukraine at the Embassy compound and Embassy events’


    So perhaps the Chinese – unofficially of course – could lease some space opposite the Irish Embassy and put up an IRA flag with the message ‘We stand with the real Irish!’ You play stupid games, you get stupid prizes.

      1. jax

        As a now retired but formerly self-employed individual, there were zero brunches in which business was not discussed and costs written off as an expense. Zero.

  18. Wukchumni

    The wildfires in Canada have me a bit sketched, as that shouldn’t be happening under the old climate rules of engagement, a mayday scenario that seems so wrong, 1.3 million acres scorched already.

    Had my last burn pile about 10 days ago, and now begins the building of 4 or 5 burn piles that i’ll ignite in December.

    My current flame in the future is a collection point on the river from the mid March madness storm, and its quite something.

    Dimension wise, it’s 7 feet tall 3 feet wide and 12 feet long, with numerous sideways trees embedded in ‘fort defiance’ as i’m going to call it.

    Everything was anchored around a couple of 6 inch wide trees that are now decapitated, and it worked like a charm.

    I’ve had 4 trees that fell in the past 6 months, and finally got those burned up or chainsawed into future firewood, and this will be some of the most interesting chainsawing in that you get this compressed gamut of tree parts and the most different of all is the root systems that wrap around things. 26,000 cfs obviously did whatever it felt like, I never see tree roots in my roost here on the Kaweah.

    In a rare bit of good news, saw only my second turtle in close to 20 years, and there’s one variety here in the Sierra, called the Western Pond Turtle.

    The western pond turtle originally ranged from northern Baja California, Mexico, north to the southern regions of British Columbia, Canada. It was once a large part of a major fishery on Tulare Lake, California, supplying San Francisco with a local favorite, turtle soup, as well as feed for hogs that learned to dive for it in the shallows of Hog Island, also on Tulare Lake.



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