2:00PM Water Cooler 5/25/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Monotonous Lark, Omaruru; at railroad crossing just before Paula’s Cave, Namibia. “Species Sound: Constant… These birds sing day and night for 6 weeks when the rains come. In flat arid area calling from song perch on top of small tree.” Lots going on!

* * *


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

Capitol Seizure

“Arkansas man sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for role in US Capitol riot” [Anadolu Agency]. • This is the dude who put his feet up on Pelosi’s desk. I do think giving him a medal would have been a bridge too far. Maybe he can run for the Senate or something from jail?

Biden Administration

“Lawmakers are leaving Washington without a debt limit deal as risk of default grows” [CNN]. “A debt limit deal is still not yet close at hand for House Republicans and the White House as lawmakers leave the nation’s capital and the risk of a first-ever default grows. With no bill to vote on, House lawmakers are leaving for the Memorial Day weekend, though they will be given 24 hours’ notice to return if and when a deal is reached.”


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Elon Musk’s Twitter Event With Ron DeSantis Hits Technical Issues” [Wall Street Journal]. “Twitter suffered technical problems at a high-profile moment Wednesday, during an event where owner Elon Musk planned to host Republican Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign announcement on the platform. The announcement was scheduled to take place using Twitter Spaces, a live audio feature. But the event quickly faltered, with many users saying the technology wasn’t working for them and that the audio was going in and out. After several minutes, with more than 600,000 viewers tuned in according to the platform, the event was transferred to the Twitter account of David Sacks, a technology investor and associate of Musk’s… Once the online conversation got under way, the discussion with DeSantis lasted about an hour. The platform showed roughly 300,000 listeners tuning in near the close of the event.” • I don’t think that’s such a bad number. Readers, did any of you attend?

“Florida Man runs for president” [Politico]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed his paperwork to run for president today and kicked off his campaign tonight on Twitter’s audio platform, Twitter Spaces (after some technical difficulties), alongside owner Elon Musk. It’s a sign his 2024 campaign will be waged as much online as in the town halls of Iowa or on cable TV. But the odds are stacked against him. No Florida politician has ever been elected president. A half-dozen have run in the last 50 years — essentially the period in which the state evolved from political backwater to electoral powerhouse — but all have ended up in the same place, dead in the water long before the nominating convention. Most never even made it past New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. The curse of Florida Man — and to date, every Florida presidential candidate has been male — lingers despite the fact that the state is an ideal proving ground for a White House bid. Winning statewide office requires campaigning in two time zones, 10 TV markets, and across 66,000 square miles. It is home to more than 22 million people — many of them arrivals from other states, which gives Florida politicians exposure to a wide range of political customs and styles. It’s a curious predicament for the nation’s third-largest state. Florida does have some White House connections, of course. Presidents have retired there. They’ve owned vacation homes there. Trump himself moved there midway through his first term as president, changing his official residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach. But in the nearly 180 years since Florida was admitted to the Union, it has neither produced a president nor had one born within its borders. (No, Andrew Jackson’s pre-statehood stint doesn’t count.) It is the lone state among the nation’s 10 most populous that has never sent anyone to the White House.

“US elections 2024: Who is the Republican contender Ron DeSantis?” [Al Jazeera]. “DeSantis successfully translated his right-wing rhetoric into policy, analysts said. ‘Whenever you’re different, whenever you break with your party, you’re out there on your own. And if there are no drastic consequences, then it can make you look like you’re ahead of the curve,’ said David Ramsey, who teaches constitutional law and political philosophy at the University of West Florida. He added that the governor helped rebuild the Republican Party in Florida, a traditional swing state that is now increasingly looking like a conservative stronghold. ‘He’s put a lot of points on the board for his party,’ Ramsey told Al Jazeera.”

“Trump-DeSantis rivalry heats up after Florida governor’s campaign launch” [Axios]. “[T]he new Trump campaign video ad features an image of DeSantis seated next to President Biden as commentary plays about ‘Washington-established politicians’ and says ‘Why would we ever settle for Trump imposters?’ It also features a clip of DeSantis from his 2018 ad reading aloud the Trump campaign sign ‘Make America Great Again’ to a child.” • Ouch! I remember that the late, great New York Spy magazine had one “Angela Crackstaff” on the masthead. Perhaps she’s joined the Trump campaign? It would be a welcome change. Or maybe not–

“Trump’s bizarre reaction to DeSantis’ announcement sparks confusion online” [FOX]. “Former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social on Wednesday to blast Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a bizarre post that immediately sparked confusion. “‘Rob,’ My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!), yours does not! (per my conversation with Kim Jung Un, of North Korea, soon to become my friend!),’ Trump said in the post. The comment came after DeSantis formally announced his presidential campaign on the Twitter ‘Spaces’ platform.” • What.

“Trump’s Grip on the GOP Tightens as the Field Widens” [Bloomberg]. “Republican voters just aren’t ready to quit Donald Trump, even if the party’s donors and political strategists would prefer almost any other candidate. That much was evident in mid-April in Manchester, New Hampshire, where a small crowd of Trump die-hards stood across the street from a downtown hotel where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was slated to speak. They waved oversize Trump 2024 flags, while some cars drove by and honked in solidarity. They professed their devotion to the former president, whose indictment by the Manhattan district attorney weeks earlier on charges of falsifying business records only served to increase his popularity. ‘Trump is a businessman, not a politician. He is not in the deep state, and that is why they hate him so much,’ said Paula Johnson, a real estate agent in nearby Nashua. ‘That indictment was the biggest joke in the world.’ Trump was still the one these voters wanted in the White House despite his mishandling of the pandemic and classified documents, the Jan. 6 attempted coup and that dinner at Mar-a-Lago with a well-known White supremacist. ‘He has created a movement and has shown the willingness to fight as dirty as necessary for every piece in every fight,’ says Jennifer Horn, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2013 to 2017, who is now registered as an independent and plans to vote for President Joe Biden. ‘The party infrastructure has become so dependent on Trump for fundraising and activating the base that it cannot let go of him.’ To the amazement of liberals—and the consternation of more than a few establishment Republicans—Trump remains the front-runner for the GOP nomination by a wide margin, outpacing DeSantis, his closest rival, by around 36 percentage points, according to a RealClearPolitics average of primary polls. Everyone else in the GOP field, including his former vice president, is polling in the single digits. Just like in 2016, Trump is sucking up the political oxygen on the Republican side. He’s already coined nicknames such as “Ron DeSanctimonius” and outfoxed CNN during a town hall before a fawning audience.”

“Trump lawyers seek meeting with Garland as Mar-a-Lago investigation shows signs of winding down” [Associated Press]. ” Lawyers for Donald Trump on Tuesday asked for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland as a Justice Department investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents shows signs of winding down. In the letter, which Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, attorneys John Rowley and James Trusty asserted that Trump is ‘being treated unfairly’ and asked for a meeting to discuss ‘the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors.’… It is not uncommon for defense lawyers to seek meetings with senior Justice Department officials to argue against potential indictments of their clients, though it is unusual for such meetings to include the attorney general.”

* * *

“Who’s running for president in 2024? Meet the candidates — and likely candidates — vying for your vote” [CBS News]. • Biden, Trump, Haley, Ramaswamy, Elder, Hutchinson, Scott, DeSantis, Williamson, Kennedy. Not in the race yet: Pence, Sununu, Youngkin, Burgum. Not running: Hogan, Pompeo.

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.

* * *

Collapse of the putative left, part one million and one:

Not on flimsy “social justice” grounds, but because the stochastic eugenicism of Biden’s campaign of mass infection without mitigation hits the working class — supposedly socialism’s base — especially hard. And DSA has the same problem.

Obama Legacy

At least he didn’t hop a freight train during the rail strike that never was:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pandemics Change Cities: Municipal Spending and Voter Extremis in Germany, 1918-1933” [Federal Reserve Bank of New York]. From May-June 2020. “This paper documents several interesting and novel findings. First, areas which experienced a greater relative population decline due to the spread of influenza spend less, per-capita, on their inhabitants in the following decade. This holds especially for spending on amenities more likely to be consumed by the young, for example school funding.1 Second, influenza deaths of 1918 are correlated with an increase in the share of votes won by right-wing extremists, such as the National Socialist Workers Party (the Nazi Party), in the crucial elections of 1932 and 1933. This correlation holds even when controlling for a city’s religious makeup, city wages, regional unemployment, city-level exposure to the “hyperinflation” of 1923, the share of right-wing votes before the first world war, and other local characteristics associated with extremist vote share. A one std. deviation increase in the proportion of the population killed by influenza was associated with an around 0.8%-pt higher share of votes won by the national socialist party. The correlation between influenza mortality and vote share was negative for left-leaning parties also considered “extremist”, such as the communists.” • Hmm. And in 2020. Hmm.

“Ron Unz Confronts the Far Right” [Richard Hanania’s Newsletter]. Unz: “I see no reason why there’s some impossible barrier to overcome between Mestizos and white Americans. I mean look at this room… [In addition to the clearly swarthy Romero and Brahmin, at least a third of the room looks to be of either Hispanic or South Asian descent.] You doubt that you can have a multiracial country? You all have built a multiracial movement based on the idea of maintaining racial purity. Don’t check your phones, you might see another alert of a Neo-Nazi Mexican mass shooter, there have been a few of those lately, and a right-wing Indian just tried to kill Biden I believe. Remember not that long ago when there was a mass shooting, and everyone would either hope it was a right-wing white male or a Muslim, depending on their politics? Well, now we have the brown white supremacist, which right-wingers on Twitter tell me can’t possibly exist, even though it’s like half their movement now.” • Interesting…


“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!

* * *

Covid Is Airborne

“Covid could do for ventilation what cholera did for cleaner water systems” [Quartz]. “The metrics of ventilation—flow rates, 09uop, filtration—may be complicated. But in the simplest of terms, said Joey Fox, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) engineer based in Canada, ‘the solution to everything is making the indoors more like the outdoors.’ Fresh air disperses viruses and other particulate matter, making them less harmful to humans. Three years into the pandemic, we know that most covid transmission happens indoors, particularly in poorly ventilated spaces. Improving indoor air will reduce the spread of covid, with major implications for public health everywhere.”

Vocabulary time:

This is an interesting idea and very bad (and I come from a blogging tradition that regarded le mot juste as crucial tactically. The resistance to “Covid is Airborne” in, say Hospital Infection Control, comes because they don’t accept the paradigm and are engaging in massive resistance to it out of professional and class interest. Their institutions need to be nuked from orbit, not catered to. Note Curran’s bio: IPC (Infection prevention and control). Where the heck were these people in the infamous moment where Mike Ryan got Tedros to retract and erase the word “airborne”? Nowhere, that’s where, and very happy to be so. Note also the reversal of valance: Generally, it’s good to share, not bad. So Curran’s proposal requires another layer of explanation — no no, this sharing is bad — and weakens the urgency.

“Reducing aerosol transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2 in hospital elevators” [Indoor Air] From 2020 (!). “We investigate aerosol droplet persistence inside the confined space of hospital elevators and propose specific measures to reduce the associated risk of SARS‐CoV‐2 transmission…. We found that it typically takes 12‐18 minutes before the number of aerosol particles decreased 100‐fold during normal operation of both medium‐ and large‐sized elevator cabins. … An increase of the elevator’s mechanical ventilation capacity is also recommended. Current standards for the air change rate by mechanical ventilation in hospital elevators may vary between 6 and 20 air changes per hour. If we assume that aerosol particles will be continuously mixed with supply air, without taking into account particle deposition, re‐suspension, and stagnant flows, an air change rate of 10 times per hour implies a 100‐fold reduction in aerosol particles in about 28 minutes. From the experiments, we find a 100‐fold reduction in 24‐30 minutes (cf. ACH = 10) with closed doors, 12‐18 minutes during operation, and 3‐5 minutes with open doors (Figure 1). A remarkable finding was that the ventilation inside all studied elevators in idle position automatically shuts off after 1‐2 minutes, which of course can easily be prolonged by reprogramming the action control software. In most hospital elevators, the ventilator is present in the ceiling and exhausts air from the cabin toward the elevator shaft. A possible measure is reversing the flow direction of the ventilator, herewith creating a unidirectional downflow of fresh (eg, HEPA filtered) air from the ceiling towards the floor of the elevator cabin, a measure that is standard in most operating rooms to create and maintain an airborne microbial free environment.” • I wonder if any of these measures have been taken?


“Long COVID risk and pre-COVID vaccination in an EHR-based cohort study from the RECOVER program” [Nature]. “Our four analyses yielded consistent results. We see protective associations of vaccination with long COVID diagnosis in both logistic and time-to-event models, and in both clinic-based and model-based outcomes. While these findings are similar to those of other large observational studies16,17,18,19, previous sources have only looked for evidence of COVID-associated symptoms as evidence of long COVID. A major finding of our analysis is that the protective association remains consistent in results requiring a clinical diagnosis, and among those who contracted COVID-19 in a later period that includes Omicron infections.”


People can change:

If one must admit being “scared” — as opposed having a fully rational apprehension — that takes some courage, in today’s atmosphere.

The mask you can smile with:

Maybe this mask works to convey empathy and for lip reading, I don’t know. (For myself, I find the clear plastic a little creepy). If it does, I’m sure we’ll find the anti-maskers lining up to make sure every hospital uses them!

If sneaker art, why not mask art (as I suggested here):

The Stan Smith, the best-selling sneaker from Adidas. (You could make masks collectible, too! Signed and numbered….)

A long thread of fit-testing:

(Of course, if we had standard sizes, fit testing would be a lot easier.) An additional tip:

Readers, what do you think?

“Something Awful”

“SARS-CoV-2, long COVID, prion disease and neurodegeneration” [Frontiers of Neuroscience]. “It has been just over ~30 months since SARS-CoV-2 viral infection and COVID-19 disease were first described…. Over this relatively brief period of time about 40–60% of all ‘recovered’ COVID-19 patients have experienced some type of ill-defined, wide-ranging and highly variable neurological complication and exhibit the symptomology of ‘long COVID.’ Just as is the case for other incompletely characterized neurotrophic viral infections there are unexpected, unpredicted and sometimes alarming neurological and other sequelae to SARS-CoV-2-based viral infection…. These include…. the recognition of self-associating prion-like viral domains in the SARS-CoV-2 ‘S1′ spike protein driving amyloidogenesis and neurotoxic aggregate formation….. As in global pandemic infections of the past it is our opinion that we should anticipate additional unexpected associations of brain and CNS disease-linked mechanisms and pathways between SARS-CoV-2-mediated viral infection and other categories of age-related, immune-evasive pro-inflammatory forms of neurodegeneration. Importantly, the SARS-CoV-2 ‘S1′ spike proteins contain both self-associating “prion-like” regions, amyloid peptide-binding and other domains that appear to play roles in pathological “seeding,” amyloidogenesis and/or spreading that supports the formation of pathogenic lesions in the brain and CNS which contribute to pro-inflammatory neurodegeneration, neural cell atrophy and/or neuronal cell death.”

Elite Maleficence

“Covid silence and how the media works” [Nate Bear, ¡Do Not Panic!]. “If I hadn’t spent the last 15 years working in media and public relations, I too would interpret the media silence around covid and new covid research/science as a sign that there is nothing to worry about. But I have. So there’s some things you need to know. The first thing to know is that the volume of coverage in general mass media about an issue is not an objective indication of its importance. Maybe I’m telling you something you already know because everyone is fairly media savvy these days, but it needs saying. Just because you’re not seeing covid research in the headlines, doesn’t mean covid has become a non-story in relation to its potential impacts on your health, your future, our societies or economies. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there’s some kind of conspiracy to actively hide covid stories or other big stories. It’s just the way the mass media works Which is like this: A press release gets written for a client, it gets sent out to a big list of journalists, the PR agent then phones around the journalists in whatever sector they’re working in to try and get them to look at the story, offering interviews with the key players. Most stories you see in the headlines are the result of a PR agency. I would say >95% of all stories you read start as a press release. … And the bigger the PR agency, the more likely you are to get a journalist to bite on your story. And this is a major problem. Because the bigger the agency = the more expensive the agency. So the biggest, richest clients hire the biggest, richest agencies with the most brand recognition and media connections, and these agencies are responded to most favourably by editors and reporters. And of course, the bigger the agency, the bigger the budget you have to entertain journalists, go out for lunches/dinners, even organise things like PR agents vs journalist football tournaments (yes this happens). Which enables the fostering of human connections that mean the journalist will respond favourably to your next press release/call pitching a client story. In addition to this, many PR agency bosses will be members of the same private members clubs as the media bosses, with a lot of informal “work” done during these evenings.” • Bourdieu would love this.

* * *

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 22:

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:

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell. Looks like the Walgreens variants page isn’t updating.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 20:

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 22:

-1.1%. Frequency down to once a week? UPDATE Apparently so!


Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 22:

Lambert here: Another fall to zero, almost certainly a data artifact. Thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to WHO.

Total: 1,164,718 – 1,164,564 = 154 (154 * 365 = 56,210 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 21:

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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose to 229 thousand in the week ending May 20th, slightly up from an over two-month low of 225 thousand the week before but well below market expectations of 245 thousand. The latest data suggested that the labor market in the United States remains relatively robust and constrained, which could potentially result in upward pressure on wages and present an opportunity for the Federal Reserve to consider additional interest rate hikes as part of its measures to address inflation.” • The beatings will continue…

* * *

Banking: “Banking Crisis Is Over, Top Executives Say” [Wall Street Journal]. “‘I think as a systemic risk, it’s over,’ UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher said at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in London. ‘What’s not been solved yet is what is the funding model that will work going forward.’ Barclays Chief Executive Officer C.S. Venkatakrishnan added that the acute crisis has passed but that many banks will be forced to change their business models—including possibly by curtailing lending. ‘I think the phase of initial discovery is over and I think there’s going to be a little bit of a longer-term discovery and adjustment,’ he said.” • Banks don’t have a funding model? Really?

Tech: “How U.S. adults on Twitter use the site in the Elon Musk era” [Pew Research Center].

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 60 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 25 at 1:42 PM ET.

The 420

“State to fund clinical trials on “whole mushroom” psilocybin research” [Axios Phoenix]. “Arizona will soon award $5 million in grants for researchers to conduct clinical studies on hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms. The recently approved budget for fiscal year 2024 includes a competitive grant program overseen by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). Grant recipients will conduct clinical trials to study the effects of “whole mushroom psilocybin” on post-traumatic stress disorder, long COVID symptoms, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and other maladies. Trials must prioritize veterans, first responders, frontline health care workers and people from underserved communities. An emerging body of research indicates that psilocybin is an effective treatment for a variety of medical problems.” • On the one hand, I think thiis is good. On the other, Soma for the traumatized means it’s OK for the trauma to continue.

Zeitgeist Watch

Not the ’80’s, the mid-’70s:

Yet another effect of the neoliberal turn?

Class Warfare

Misconstruing the Bearded One (1). Click “Show More”:

Whatever Marx was about, it wasn’t identity politics.

Misconstruing the Bearded One (2)

Whatever the Bolsheviks were about, they were Marxists. Putin’s thesis (given at the always interesting Valdai Discussion Club) is either vacuous (“Revolutions bring about major social changes”) or wrong (like he’s been reading too much James Lindsay on “cultural Marxism” — the bucket Lindsay invented to throw identity politics in — which is not a thing, or rather is a thing only in the minds of conservative fever swamp dwellers, though I suppose you could barely make a case for the Frankfurt School). In any case, it’s amusing to see Briones and Putin end up more or less in the same place with respect to identity politics.

News of the Wired

A genuinely frightening movie (in my view, too strongly-premised as science fiction, hence realistic, to be horror):

I know this is from another movie in the Alien franchise, but it applies in so, so many cases:

* * *

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: “Pear tree (Cleveland, I think) in bloom in the backyard, April 22, 2023, Edgewood RI. Just planted last fall, so happy to see it doing well.”

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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. Otis B Driftwood

    BJG has opened up this recent Bad Faith interview with journalist Ben Norton. Norton is one of the best independent journalists out there, has encyclopedic knowledge of geopolitics and doesn’t buy for a second the notion that Tucker Carlson is ant anti-war hero.. His work deserves much broader exposure.


    1. pjay

      You are right about Ben Norton. I have long admired his work, and his principles. In his clarity and demeanor, I see similarities to another journalist I admire greatly, Aaron Mate. But I disagree with him on this. His absolute refusal to make common cause with “the Right” on those issues on which they might agree was his reason for leaving the Grayzone. Like some others on the left, he seems to fear that *any* example of a “red-brown alliance” will fatally contaminate and co-opt the “good guys.” But when the issue is the rapidly growing surveillance/censorship power of the National Security State, or the rapidly growing danger of starting WWIII through our insanely aggressive policy of NATO expansion and provocation, then *any* opportunity to widen the cracks in the propaganda Wall should be taken – period. If Tucker Carlson has the largest audience on cable TV and allows truth bombs on these issues, the opening should be used. Since there are NO comparable outlets on the “left,” and indeed since most of the so-called “left” are on the wrong side of these issues, then the alternative is for the handful of authentic, anti-imperial leftists to keep talking amongst themselves. They can feel good about their ideological purity – and get their information out to no one outside their own choir.

      This does *not* mean that one cannot challenge Carlson directly on the issues on which he is still playing the right-wing demagogue. Hell, call him on it. And it definitely does not mean that people like Greenwald, Taibbi, Mate, et al should let their guard down about being co-opted by the “paleoconservatives.” But if there is *ever* going to be any chance to wake up a significant segment of the public to enact any meaningful change, then you have to start where they are. Ideological purity will accomplish nothing.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Thumbs up from me on that, pjay. I like that the attack on Taibbi has united Aaron Mate, Katie Halper, Glenn Greenwald and Jim Jordan on one side. It is probably a very temporary alliance, but it’s really the only political route forward. The Right’s obsession with whatever they call Marxism and the “Chinese Community Party” doesn’t make things any easier, though.

      2. Tommy S

        You sound like a good person, and I bet if we were neighbors, we would get along, as I do with many people on the ‘right’, if you are or not, but anyway….It is not ideological purity for the real left to NOT align with the right. ..(though I could see it in mass one issue anti war things-that’s politics, not movement building)….it is actually survival, self defense, and responsibility against imperialism and mass murder by your own country. It is a much needed ethical compass to see the ‘right’ as the mortal enemy, that maybe even at this point, should cause us to form CNT type militias. Also, Ben left TOO because of Max’s insane Omicron pronouncements that December 2021 on the jimmy Dore show and the idea that the Canadian trucker strike was ‘working class movement’. And he was right for doing so. Ben Norton may be a bit of a tanky, but he has a damn ethical center…..rooted.

  2. Angie Neer

    AM: I love that photo, with the sphere of flowers floating in the center, and the background blurred yet still showing structure and symmetry.

  3. Jake Dickens

    I think the grocery isle odor test should work. Last week while wearing an N95 respirator I walked past a guy who was apparently wearing powerful cologne. A few steps later, going outside, I took off the mask and only then smelled his fragrance. I was surprised that the mask stopped cologne.

      1. Lee

        Since odor molecules are much smaller than viruses, a mask that stops viruses may not stop all odors. I can detect some odors through my P-100 Elipse, such as rubbing alcohol, and so far as viruses are concerned, so far so good.

  4. Amfortas the hippie

    1. now i cant get lesbian kyjelly wrestling out of my mind…so, thanks!
    2. i hate it when Woke/CRT is equated with…variously…”The Left”, “the Far Left” or Marxism.
    it aint none of those things…and doesnt derive from the Frankfurt School, either.
    instead, it flows directly from Judith Butler’s bad misreading of a bunch of bad translations of certain French Post-Structuralists and pseudo-Existentialists.
    i hung out with a bunch of lesbians in college…89-92 or so(fun times!…and they made me read Butler, and her derivatives…and we argued a lot about what she was actually saying. most of my lez friends ended up agreeing that this approach…along with the misapplication of Intersectionality…was a recipe for atomisation and a sort of stealth prophylaxis for solidarity, fellowfeeling and similar necessary things for forming coalitions and broad political movements.

    i finally got around to the Frankfurt School while i was waiting around for a hip replacement. this was during Obamatime, when “Cultural Marxism” was going around within the then fringe amurkin Right.
    what They thought it was…is not what it really was,lol.
    more about how the mass production and mass politics of the time helped keep the imperial capitalist behemoth rolling, in spite of contradictions…and with the Plebs and Proles’ help, because we were all in the soup…as in the fish arent aware of the water.
    but in a billion words…and with the usual problems with german to english philosophy translations(german compound word= english incomprehensible paragraph or 3).
    Mercuse is the only one out of that bunch that came even close to a semblance of being a precursor to Woke.
    and even that is a stretch.
    end rant, as its raining again…and internet, land lines and cell fones out here are like stealth bombers, and do not function well in the rain.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      amfortas the hippie: The central observation of the tweet is that lesbians are being erased. So are gay men. The replacements are woke self-declarations and “queerness,” which means wearing a pink t-shirt on Tuesdays and thinking of oneself as a sexual outlaw.

      As you say, and as Lambert Strether remarks above, woke-o-locity is not Marxism. The gay Druid philosopher Rhyd Wildermuth considers wokeness to be a religious impulse.

      Yet a number of people in the response thread of her tweet engage in red-baiting. I recall years back, when I used to demonstrate with the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago at the Pride Parade. A few years running, we had a big banner supporting Bradley Manning. (That’s how long ago it was.) From the sidelines, from the spectators, I’d hear the occasional yawp, “Traitor.”

      The conservative impulse, especially among gay men, has not served gayfolk well. One can only do so much “Clarence Thomasing” before the results diminish.

      The joylessness of current gay icons like Pete Buttigieg is what the tweet is about.

      The red-baiting is plain stupid. Where do these people think the gay liberation movement arose from? Everett Dirksen’s living room?

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Rhyd Wildermuth–will have to read some of his stuff. Looks very interesting.

        As to the provenance of things these days, there’s wild theories about everything out there. Today, I heard from the semi-official leader of the Trump Youth, Charlie Kirk, and his pentecostalist, Darby-ite pastor and mentor, Jack Hibbs, that those Davos billionaires and millionaires and their hangers-on are the evil disseminators of socialism.

        The hard right is bound and determined to refresh or even re-demonize Marxism, communism and socialism. No doubt part of the reason lies in the polls since ’08 that show a rise in approval of socialism among the young, but they’re so fervent about it. Maybe the Reds on the Righties’ list right after the Muslim and LGBT citizenry. They’d better hurry up of there won’t be any Marxists, etc. left.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          If Marxists no longer exist, they would simply have to invent them; and arguably that is what they already did.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        Rhyd is one of my fave thinkers out there.
        the last person i talk to from high school called me about this very issue last night…whats “cultural marxism”?
        and i held forth as above.
        he’d been apparently watching some jordan peterson analog…albeit one who hides his Burkeanism revaanchism a bit better.
        i stated categorically, “if you heard the phrase “cultural Marxism” on youtube, twitter, or whatever other platform, the person using it was either hysterical, ignorant or trying to fool you into joining theior right leaning cult(including Woke, which is just as Righty as Red Scares or the Inquisition).
        …and likely all 3 at once…since contradictions do not matter to Orthodoxy.
        all of this, of course, is in service to the ultimate aim of the Neoliberal Dispensation…atomisation…hyperindividualism…so that, as someone said, nothing like the New Deal…or even Unions(except cop unions, of course) are even possible as a threat to the Oligarchs/Archons.
        the thing THEY fear the most is a good number of the lower orders, in spite of their multifoliate diversity, getting together to compare notes…and then all looking upwards, to the top of the pyramid and then nodding to one another as they sharpen their knives, scythes or pencils, as the case may be.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          my last High School buddy made an interesting aside during our 2 hour convox:
          ” for all the talk about cops killing black people…who cops really kill are poor people”
          as in, Its about Class, stupid!
          all this hystericism and division-engendering hooplah, from both Right and “left”(sic) serves to obscure Class.
          thats the whole point.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        All you need to do, Lambert, is go on Youtube and put “Jordan Peterson” in the search box. He’ll ‘splain the whole thing. ;)

    2. Hepativore

      One thing that irritates me is the rise of the “Jimmy Dore”-flavored “left”, I.e. the Jimmy Dore, Sabby Sabs, RBN etc. types that think anybody who dares disagree with them on political strategy is automatically a sellout or enabler and they are constantly launching personal attacks on people who agree with them 9/10 times.

      This is the perfect example of the bloc in the political left that instigates a lot of the infighting that is holding back a lot of the progress of the political left since the collapse of the Bernie Sanders movement.

      I mean, yes, I understand that not everybody is going to agree with everything 100% of the time in terms of political stances, but this particular area of the left seems eager to stir up trouble with ad hominems with any area of disagreement.

      Anyway, I have long resigned myself to the fact that no meaningful political change is going to happen in my lifetime and I am a very early millennial. The New Deal era might as well have been a myth at this point, and the US aristocracy and its uniparty representatives as well as PMC enablers have put structures in place to make sure that a historical fluke like the New Deal era is never going to happen again in US history. The unstoppable behemoth of neoliberalism marches on, and all of the pronouncements of its death have been premature as it shows no signs of stopping in the US.

      I admit, I am rather cynical in my view of human nature, as I disagree with my fellow leftists in regards to their optimism of the nature of humanity. I think Hans Morgenthau was depressingly accurate in his portrayal of what drives humanity, I.e. we are still stuck with the baggage of millions of years of hierarchical evolutionary instinct that is ill-suited for modern times, but since evolution is such a slow process, we are saddled with much of this behavior that is now dysfunctional for our survival because of the existence of modern weapons. It cannot be gotten rid of as it is hardwired in our brains, only understood and ameliorated.

      1. chris

        I disagree that no meaningful political change will occur in our current lifetimes. I think what we’re going to see is a dramatic rush towards authoritarianism everywhere in the “West”. I think whatever passes for the left will be kicked down the stairs to rot in the basement until further notice. It won’t be a positive change. But it will be a meaningful change.

    3. Aurelien

      I agree very much about bad translations from the French. For example, when the Bald One talked about “power” he used the word pouvoir whose root meaning is related to the ability to get things done, not puissance which means “power” in the physical or political sense. He was interested in how systems work and things get done, not in formulating general theories of repression.

      I don’t like the term “Cultural Marxism” either, and it’s infuriating to see modern IdiotPol pundits acting as though they were part of the Left, or even owned it. In any event, the mistranslated French writers were in most cases not of the “Left” anyway. The Bald One was greatly influenced by Nietzsche and was fascinated by the Iranian Revolution: he’s pretty much considered a reactionary these days; The only variety of Marxism that had any traction at all in those circles was Maoism.

      That said, I think there is a clear line of development between the Frankfurt School (and especially Marcuse) and modern IdiotPol literature, not in content, but in form. If you read Marcuse, say One-Dimensional Man (OK, why would you?) you can see that it’s actually a cross between a surrender document and a suicide note. The capitalist system is so powerful, so all-embracing that it’s impossible to fight it. It dominates and co-opts everything, and all that might appear to be objective (science, mathematics, reason, rules of language and just about anything you can think of) is just another instrument of capitalist domination. Above all, it’s a perfect argument for passivity, since nothing you do can have any effect. This translates directly into today’s fatuous vocabulary of structural “isms,” which are so powerful and impossible to wipe out that all you can do is organise conferences and write unreadable books on how there’s nothing you can do but persecute other people for ideological deviation.

      1. dommage

        There are others who did not share your view of the study of Marcuse. His student, both undergraduate and graduate, Angela Davis for one. Her view: “Herbert Marcuse taught me that it was possible to be an academic, an activist, a scholar, and a revolutionary.” Permit me to suggest that she has made a substantial contribution against capitalist domination, taking a somewhat different lesson from Marcuse than yours. And she was his student at precisely the time in which he was writing One Dimensional Man. We are talking the early ’60s in the U.S. The success of anti-communism apparently complete, a consumerist working class = middle class = the people – “who have made their mutilation into their own liberties and satisfactions, and thus reproduce it on an enlarged scale.” But the system requires and reproduces a substratum, the unemployed and fearful of becoming so, the blacks who face dogs, stones, and bombs, jail. Whom reality honestly seen offers no hope for a truly meaningful change. It is they whom we must remain loyal to. This is literally the conclusion of One Dimensional Man, and the lesson Angela Davis learned as she continues to demonstrate. You may recall the book ends with this quote from Walter Benjamin:
        Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns Hoffnung gegeben.
        It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.

        1. Aurelien

          Yes, Davis’s appropriation Marcuse is one of the most curious episodes in the history of the New Left, and was certainly a surprise to Marcuse himself. It’s often argued, though, that what really sold Marcuse to the New Left was his pamphlet on “Pure Tolerance,”which argued that in liberal/bourgeois societies so-called tolerance was is actually (just another) form of capitalist domination. What was needed was revolutionary tolerance, including tolerance for violence used by them, though not others. I can’t remember how many times this kind of thing was quoted at me fifty years ago by people who had read a few extracts from Marcuse in an essay somewhere.

        2. skippy

          Yet strange now days as birth rates are all the vogue …. he .. tis not the 60s …

          1. Late Introvert

            Thanks, so as not to put work on others I think I will start compiling a list of the voluminous short-cuts one might encounter on NC. At first for my own use but if I think others might find it useful I will share. A sort of FAQ for Slang.

            Short-cuts is the best I can come up with for a catch-all term for the various acronyms (PMC) and cultural references (The Bearded One), etc.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        “This translates directly into today’s fatuous vocabulary of structural “isms,” which are so powerful and impossible to wipe out that all you can do is organise conferences and write unreadable books on how there’s nothing you can do but persecute other people for ideological deviation.”

        Or agitate for the election of candidates based on their identity, since there is no actual hope of changing the system, but you can get in someone who appeals to you personally.

      3. communistmole

        Marcuse’s closeness to Foucault also has its reason in both’s closeness to Heidegger, whom one could call ‘the Nazi One’. Marcuse was his student.
        As for the so-called Frankfurt School: its development cannot be understood without the failure of the German labor movement from 1914 to 1933, Stalinism and the destruction of the european Jews. Combined with a peculiar reading of the critique of political economy, which undervalues the aspect of the crisis nature of capitalism, a rather sober view of the possibilities of emancipation in late capitalism emerges …

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Walking down the detergent aisle to test a mask: I am highly skeptical of the idea that if one can smell anything through the mask, the mask is ineffective. (I recall during the early days of Covid, a lot of the early Covid truthers would spout that, too.)

    Geraniol is a common scent, and it has a chemical formula of C10H18O. That makes it a molecule of 29 atoms.

    A molecule of 29 atoms is a jellybean next to a soccer ball–a virus.

    Here in Chocolate City, a woman at the Guerlain counter taught me a neat trick. Apply cologne to the little strip of paper, hold the paper above the mask, and let the molecules fall down (hey, it’s Lucretius in the scent department). I doubt that doing so ruins the mask or lets in viruses.

    1. tevhatch

      If she can’t smell anything, then she’s already got COVID? You are correct, N95 masks can stop most virus clusters while doing nothing to reduce smell loading from commercial scents. They can help with smells from combustion products, hence the use of certain long chain molecules for mask fit testing.

      Even a P100 will not reduce most commercial scent loads, unless the canister is also equipped with an active carbon stage (my go to for aircraft flights, reduces hydrocarbon intake from PFAS fire-resistant hydraulic fluids, etc., for a significant reduction in post flight headaches on cross Pacific flights). Please don’t wear scents when going to a hospital… they can do a number on people who are already struggling.

  6. LawnDart

    At least he didn’t hop a freight train during the rail strike that never was…

    Not wanting the Secret Service bothering my neighbors, monitoring my communications, and rooting through my trash, I would never suggest that Obama should hop a freight train, especially since that water that he drank in Flint, MI must be catching-up to him by now… oops, wait a sec…

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    CSX partial derailment in Finksburg | PHOTOS

    A CSX train MidLine train partial derailment in Finksburg Carroll County at Sandymount Rd. and Patapsco Rd., Thursday May 25, 2023.


    No injuries from Maryland Midland Railway train derailment in Carroll County

    BALTIMORE – A Maryland Midland Railway train derailed Thursday morning in Carroll County, according to officials.

    Two of the railcars on the 31-car train carrying stone came off the tracks near Wesley Road in Finksburg. The crossing is expected to be blocked for several hours.


        1. GF

          AMLO nationalized the railroad and sent in the Marines to protect it from sabotage.
          The article was in the CEPR Latin America News Roundup May 24, 2023 but I can’t locate it on their website.

  7. ambrit

    When I hear about “Identity Politics” I generally think about the most basic form of ‘Identity’: Hungry or Not Hungry. I imagine that The Bearded One would have seen the utility of that framing.

    1. nippersdad

      Whole heartedly agree. If your biggest problem is getting society to acknowledge your pronoun usage then you just don’t have big enough problems.

      1. some guy

        There is such a thing as ” displacement behavior”. I remember reading about an animal behaviorist experiment once where a bunch of mice were in a cage and a little fire was lit in one corner of the cage. The mice could do nothing about the fire so they began frantically grooming themselves instead. The behaviorist called this “displacement behavior”.

        Perhaps worrying about getting society to acknowledge your pronoun usage is a “displacement concern” for the bigger things you would like society to get concerned about but are helpless to make society get concerned about.

    2. griffen

      I like to recount what a former work colleague told us once, about being “starving” or “hungry” by lunch time during a work day. He grew up in Cameroon, and was a teenager when his family moved to the US. Cameroon did not have fat squirrels on account they got ate before getting fat.

      He said that in light of my mention of squirrels outside. I do guess in the harshest of times ala the Book of Eli or comparable, squirrel would still taste a lot like chicken? I’ve only had a taste of squirrel once, a real long time ago.

  8. LawnDart

    [Meant as a reply to the Hippy above]

    I hate to say it, but I for one might have to reconsider my affinity for socialism…

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i’m leaning more towards anarchy, here of late.
      but since i have no intellectual peers out here, i’ll settle for being an Anarch, for now(Junger, forest passage)

      1. Stephen V

        As in Ernst Junger? Seriously?
        Will have to give him another look. I had a much older German friend who carried on a correspondence with EJ for decades. (They were post-WWI Youth movement chums–railcar in the woods…) Knowing nothing, I didn’t ask any good questions. Sigh.

  9. polar donkey

    I work for a business that sells psilocybin mushroom spores. I’m happy to see research being done, not just for our financial benefit, but for all the people that could be helped by psilocybin mushrooms. One interesting note, we’re based in the South but sell more spores to MIT and Harvard than the entire SEC all together.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i was shocked to learn, some years ago, that its perfectly legal to both possess such spores, as well as to mail order them…
      but ive always been leery of it being a honeytrap…like ordering growlights from High Times.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’ve been thinking along those lines myself. I’m a little reluctant to partake unless I’m real sure of the provenance. The wrong LBM would not be a good idea.

  10. ambrit

    About the mushroom “therapy.” I see that it probably does have utility in the treatment of PTSD and similar ailments, but I see nothing about Mycotherapy being approved for pre damage use. So, the possible utility of psychoactives as teaching aids for personal character building programs is still verboten.
    Since Psychiatric Medical Practitioners fill the niche of Shamans in “Moderne Society,” to deny them age tested and perfected methods and substances is actually harmful to the mental health of not only the Individual, but the Collective the Individuals inhabit.
    That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
    As Gong infamously said in their album ‘Camembert Electrique’: “You Can’t Kill Me – I’ve Been Stone Before.”

  11. griffen

    Alien film. Plates of spaghetti would never appear the same! I am such a nerd for this film series. I found the last entry, Covenant, to be mildly disappointing ( I mean heck, those things gestate for like 10 minutes then they’re free it seemed ). Back to casting for the original; Tommy Lee Jones as Capt Dallas? Oh man.

    There is a fun series on Netflix about how the movies were made, started with some early ’80s entries. They include an entry for Aliens. Highly recommend.

    1. Carolinian

      There’s a fairly extensive “making of” on the Alien disc–perhaps what’s linked up top. Fun anecdote: the cast were brought on set for the Hurt demise scene without knowing what was going to happen. Ridley wanted their authentically horrified reaction (and got it).

    2. The Rev Kev

      The other day I wondered what would happen if way down the track we became a space-faring people and made contact with other aliens. And that somebody showed a bunch of his alien friends the films “Alien” and “Alien 2.” I think that they would translate well.

  12. Mikerw0

    Re: Aliens. One of the authors had Crohn’s disease and a key scene is based on what it is like to live with it. Our daughter who has the disease says “exactly.”

  13. LY

    Regarding the plant of the day, I hope it isn’t a Callery Pear. Those are banned in Ohio and other states. iNaturalist or iSeek app are good apps to identify them. They also helpful for citizen science, so please upload wild sightings.

    Once they escape, they produce seedlings that can puncture tires, and they produce a strong odor. If it’s growing wild on your property, cut it down. If deliberately cultivated, still consider cutting it down. In some states, they have programs that will replace it.

    1. Late Introvert

      Sort of related, we had trumpet vine growing in our yard when we bought our house, and it’s pretty, but OMG. That thing will take over. We spent about 7 years pulling it up from every new location it sprouted. It’s been gone for at least 5 years now. This past year we got a burr invasion, and that is ongoing.

      We do not mow, we just pull weeds.

  14. herman_sampson

    Strong inhaling and checking for that the mask collapses at least partially is not a quick and dirty but semi-useful method?

    1. Samuel Conner

      My intuition is that this is useful. I can feel the front panel of my Aura 9210+ N95 pull against my face when I inhale, and I don’t have the slightlest hint of sensation of air motion anywhere around the skin/mask contact surface. I suspect that this means that the great majority of the air is going through the filter and not past the seal.

      Still, a proper fit test would be reassuring. I’m particularly curious about how well the mask performs, with a real fit test, after repeat uses. If I end up doing this, I’ll report the results in comments.

      1. Verifyfirst

        I wonder about the utility of fit tests, because for me at least, every mask I have ever tried (which is a lot of masks, including most of the supposedly best ones on the market, including elastomeric) fit me differently each time I put them on–I can often feel what’s different, where it’s not quite in good contact, etc. So I’m guessing I could pass a fit test one day in a given mask, and fail the same fit test with the same mask the next day? And what I’m doing with the mask on–i.e., how much I’m exhaling, can also seem to change fit and pressure against the face.

  15. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps in addition to the election countdown “clock”, a “days until US voluntary sovereign debt default clock” would also be useful. Currently, the clock is at about 6 days, but even if this default is averted, the clock would still be useful, since it would simply reset to (an estimate of when) the next debt limit would be reached.

    It would be a reminder (if any were needed) to NC regulars of how dysfunctional our government is and if any D governing elites happen to check it, it might (perhaps this is wishful, or even magical, thinking) remind them that it is possible to avert these crises if one acts timely when one has control of the legislative levers.

  16. flora

    Putin and the Bolsheviks. One interesting comparison is the enormous international debt Tzarist Russia had before WWI. WWI drove the debts even higher. Ordinary Russians suffered increasing poverty; Bolsheviks ousted the Tzar and repudiated all foreign debts. A political answer to increasing want was creating all sorts of fantasy ideologies that were offered about what would make a better future.

    This makes an interesting if stretched comparison is to the past 15 years in the West and the Great Financial Crisis, which was never repaired for most people, and now Yellen is talking about US debt default or something. (that won’t happen). In the same 15 year space in the US woke ideology has sprouted and grown. It hasn’t improved anyone’s paycheck – except maybe those leading the movements. It hasn’t cleaned up the banks. It has directed energy away from cleaning up the big banks, from breaking up monopoly control of businesses, etc.

    This does make an interesting comparison, imo. Great financial destabilization bringing about great social upheaval, and how that can play out. / my 2 cents.

    1. flora

      adding: The newspapers and the pols started pushing identity politics and “woke” in the same time frame Occupy Wall St was gaining public attention. People were starting to understand and identify with “the 99%”, even though the news refused to cover the protests. O sent out word to mayors to destroy the Occupy camps springing up in their cities, and pushed “woke” even harder as a substitute for effective action, imo. Cansel Culture and later tearing down statues was offered as a good substitute for cleaning up Wall St. and ending fraudulent mortgage foreclosures and predatory banking practices that cost the black and brown communities a disproportionate amount of their wealth. One example of what I’m talking about above. / ;)

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        My first face-to-face encounter with identity politics and “woke” was in Occupy. I attended a committee meeting about housing and had to learn my place as an old white male. That was fine. Didn’t hurt me. What disturbed me was the way the conversation turned to some quasi-homeless teenage boys who got attached to Occupy mainly as a place to crash. They would glide around on skateboards at gatherings carrying a circle “A” flag. The two budding PMCs at the meeting were very offended by the behavior of these kids, their rough manners and failure to perceive the intricate rules of the Occupy meetings.

        According to the affidavit filed by the U. S. Attorney (which I perused carefully looking for my name), an investigation of these kids was instigated around that time, and a fitting CI was provided to give them a roof over their heads and plenty of beer and pot. Those kids ended up being sentenced to nearly 10 years in federal prison. I’ve wondered since if they were victims of the Woke.

        1. John D.

          My big face-to-face encounter with what we eventually came to identify as the Woke was in the early 1990’s at a meeting of Queer Nation. Anyone remember them? I daresay they were typical of their type of protest group, not that they amounted to much in the end, natch. This was my first (and only) attendance at QN. I’d tagged along with a friend that week out of curiosity. Anyway, it was held at a local Starbucks, in the gay area of downtown Toronto. There were somewhere between 20 to 30 participants gathered. We shoved a few tables together for the meeting, ordered our coffees and sat down. I recognized quite a few of the folks involved; they weren’t people I actually knew, but I was familiar with their faces having seen them around the neighborhood over the years. The trouble started with a pair of younger ones I’d never set eyes on before. College student ages, one guy, one girl.

          They were striking, I’ll say that for them. Both very attractive physically, and they looked very similar in appearance. I think they were siblings, they might even have been twins. Shades of that stupid kente cloth stunt Nancy Pelosi pulled a while back, they were both dressed in trendy African clothing – need I add that they were white as snow? – but they took the bit much further than Pelosi ever would have dared: They both had very long, thick, luxurious heads of blond hair reaching past their shoulders, and had been folded into dreadlocks, Rastafarian style. It was quite a sight.

          There was a hard-eyed arrogance to them right from the beginning, even before either of them opened their mouths, and it became readily apparent when it was their turn to speak that they weren’t even remotely acting in good faith. We’d gone around in a circle taking turns talking, a ‘la Alcoholics Anonymous. Came their moment to address the group, the pair actually stood up, noted the lack of diverse faces in the crowd (we were all Caucasians), and promptly denounced us all as a pack of racists. I’ll clarify that their position wasn’t, “Oh, isn’t it unfortunate at the lack of diversity here!” No, from all the, er, ‘evidence,’ the rest of us were all no-good, stone cold, KKK style racists. Nor were they brief in their comments; they went on and on at considerable length in this insulting vein. When the two finally sat down, the woman acting as moderator that week looked more than a little shell-shocked…but she thanked them politely for their comments and said their concerns would be looked into. Now, as I’ve already said, it was a pretty white crowd. The duo weren’t wrong about that. But it’s not like the rest of us had any control over who showed up for a public meeting and who didn’t. That was just common sense. There were hardly armed guards keeping undesirables out.

          Still, they’d had their say, so the meeting could just continue as usual from that moment on, right? Ho, ho. The two pests then began to interrupt others when they were talking, not waiting for their own turn to speak again. They were rude as hell, being disrespectful to the rest of the group and were in general deliberately disruptive…which, I can only conclude, was the real goal for them being there in the first place. They would not shut up, and their commentary was the same rubbish repeated again and again and again: We were racists, they weren’t, and they were our moral superiors because of that. They were tenacious and kept it up to the extent that the meeting had to be called to a halt early. Not that these are any great stakes I’m talking about, obviously…Even so, looking back on this episode, it’s remarkable how a mere pair of egomaniacal bullies could derail something with at least 20 other people involved so easily.

        2. JBird4049

          Maybe they were victims. Warnin, what I am about to say has to do with a specific style of politeness and not that only some Americans are polite.

          I have noticed that the Professional Managerial Class as well as the Woken Ones use New England upper class appropriate politeness and civility as a weapon. Unless it is better to used one’s lived experiences by showing anger even contempt towards the bad individuals. Then being an unpleasant person is fine for them.

          As someone whose family was New England adjacent in culture and often middle class, I already can be hyper-polite; it is also a very good tactic to frustrate unpleasant people such as customers, bureaucrats, and police.

          The problem is that for many people, such politeness is not some cultural aspect but a way to control others. It’s use is demanded to enforce obsequious behavior from the inferiors such as clerks and the poor with the greater the difference in caste/class/position requiring greater amounts of politeness from the inferior one and less from the superior one.

          If you one is deemed uncouth, which can mean not only violating social norms, it seems to have expanded to having the appropriate beliefs or at least to publicly aping only those beliefs. This expansion appears to be something new. Anyways, highly educated upper middle class people seem to demand this more than anyone else. I have also noticed this somewhat with the police. However, old money, lower middle class and below, plus Hispanics do not seem to need do this.

          Since the vast majority of Americans do not require this sort of weaponized politeness including a chunk of the college educated, and do not act that way, it is a potent weapon especially as it apes old school, upper middle class politeness. They can reduce most Americans to the unwashed masses especially if they don’t speak or understand the class specific terms, the approved body language, even the pace and rhythm of speech. Again, I think that it is also expanding to the appropriate behavior of words and strength of expression towards Identity Politics and Woke issues, but since I have been isolated due to the pandemic, my impressions are just that. Impressions.

          If you are uncouth, then the appropriate authority should be notified be it the management or the police. Emotionally, PMC snitches can feel justified in their actions. That the idea of politeness of any kind is to be a way to be respectful to, and ease friction with, everyone regardless of who they are does not seem to occur to them.

          Using the idea of a new class formation and consciousness, the signals of class appears to have expanded, been strengthened, and while not conscious of it, increasingly used to identify the different classes especially those not of the Professional Managerial Class. Much like how the British use their class signifiers.

          If I somehow ever get a masters in cultural anthropology, I would likely write a thesis on the changing class structure in the past fifty years. The increasing use of PMC decorum both physically and ideology at the same time the all the classes from the middle-middle on down are being destroyed as well as the expulsion of Americans from the trades especially on the West Coast, the denigrating of any career involving physical activity, and the destruction of the industrial base is fascinating. I would almost changed my major just to study this.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      “Bolsheviks ousted the Tzar and repudiated all foreign debts.”

      Sorry to be pedantic, but the first half of this is inaccurate. The Tsar was ousted by his ministers and generals in a temporarily successful attempt to appease a worker uprising in Petrograd/St. Petersburg. The Bolsheviks were barely involved back then; they overthrew the provisional government (by then controlled by democratic socialists) months later. They did scrap the debts but it was hardly the most prominent part of their program or messaging (what they promised to most of the population was peace and land).

  17. Wukchumni

    My Kevin (since ’07) sold off some of his used chapstick for $100k to MTG so let nobody question him in large financial matters, especially as in the last day Kev has reiterated that the debt ceiling standoff imbrogliowe is not his fault, which of course is tantamount to farting loudly in a crowded room and then denying responsibility, but the former instance has less odor typically.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) placed a winning $100,000 bid Tuesday for a lip balm stick used by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who also promised a visit with the winner’s donors and supporters.

    1. spud

      H.F.C.S. EXACTLY, toss in hydrogenated oils, and you get a twofer. now they are sneaking in maltodextrin.

    2. Vikas

      A lot of things happened at that inflection point. If you plot US spending on health care vs life expectancy, which is famously an outlier compared to the rest of the OECD etc. it only became so around 1980 and got worse and worse thereafter.

      I blame the dynamic duo of Gordon Gekko and Deng Xiaoping, the unacknowledged creators of the Zeitgeist that followed.

    3. Late Introvert

      HFC for sure.
      Fast food went on steroids.
      Pesticides got dumped on everything.
      Supermarkets drove out local grocers.

      I remember as a youth swimming in Iowa lakes. SMH

  18. bdy

    >Not the 80s, the mid 70s: What happened in the 1980s so that everyone, everywhere of all ages started getting fat?

    Per wiki:
    …the Big Gulp came in 1976 from Dennis Potts, the merchandise manager for 7-Eleven in the Southern California market in the 1970s. Wanting to help lagging sales at the stores, The Coca-Cola Company suggested to Potts that they use a then-unheard of 32 ounce cup for their drinks…

    Interesting that the suggestion came from corporate.

    1. JBird4049

      Yes, but I think that putting more and more corn syrup into everything, but the produce is also a serious cause of it. Corn producers just have too much of and it is a very cheap way to make prepared foods more attractive.

      1. Late Introvert

        I tell my family that Iowa makes meat and (soda) pop. While polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

        I’m not popular.

  19. hunkerdown

    Heard tell r/The_Ronald will be relaunching next week in support of Mr. deSanctimonious. I wonder whether it will be as great a cat ass trophy as the Twitter audio was.

  20. The Rev Kev

    ‘Hey everybody, we have just added this to our products. TGA approved. Now in use by WA Health. Comfortable. Excellent for people whose mouth needs to be seen.’

    Excellent for people forced to lip-read and same for those who can tell their managers ‘But I am showing them my smile.’

  21. Benny Profane

    I heard some clips from the DeSantis Twitter “conversation”. First time I’ve heard him say anything in length beyond snivelly podium rants from Florida. He’s doomed. He is really hard to listen to. Awful, charmless, whiney voice (I am reminded of Steve Correll in The Office, and I hate that show) trying to appeal to the poor victimized white voter, cycling through cliche culture triggers. I have an even worse visceral reaction to the sound of his voice than Hillary’s, which, I swear, made me run to the remote and turn her off when she got loud. That is not going to even get close to help him win. Didn’t they learn anything from Nixon/Kennedy? The man has zero charm, and I am far from the first to say it. Trump is, first, a seasoned TV star. Lots of America loves the guy. I have yet to see DeSantis banners or signs anywhere. I’m guessing he fears the turnout for a rally anywhere but Florida. Even there, he knows Trump will just beat his ass with a quickly announced rally at the same time.

    Definitely Biden/Trump in 24.. Fasten seat belts.

    1. Late Introvert

      I want to know why Trump has let the Durham Report go. I guess he doesn’t read.

      1. Benny Profane

        He didn’t. Took a victory lap on Truth Social. You’ll hear him talk about it much more when the rallies commence. If anybody covers the rallies. He could very possibly be censored out of the game, even during the campaign.
        Problem is, his core base doesn’t read. So he isn’t wasting time on it, now.

    1. griffen

      I have to quote here, in the most sincere of terms, the comedy gold from Dumb and Dumber. I still have doubts this is all squared away, and perish the thought, politicians might actually work over the US holiday weekend.

      Lloyd. So you’re saying there’s a chance?

  22. JBird4049

    >>>The mask you can smile with:

    I don’t want masks to show off my grumpy smile although I can believe some boss with delusions of importance or customers with the same demanding smiles, if such masks become common.

    What is important for me is communicating as my hearing is fine as long as the hearing aids are in perfect condition and I have no colds, flues, or allergies, which is about a quarter of the time. Seeing a person’s whole face gives you an amazing amount of information even if can’t hear them at all.

    In a better world, there would be all kinds of masks for every need. But if people are so mindscrewed as to doubt Covid and the effectiveness of masks, I don’t anticipate seeing any of those see through masks unless some business has imposed it on their employees.

  23. Jorge

    “Ron Unz Confronts the Far Right” is awesome. It’s a pitch-perfect replica of a type of comic piece that a lot of old New Yorker writers loved to do: S. J. Perelmen, for one.

    Also, I have a glancing relationship to Old Moldy Marius, so a bit on him is highly appreciated.

  24. The Rev Kev

    Re the fascinating tweet thread on the original “Alien” film. It says that Genevieive Bujold was once considered for the role of Ripley but missed out. Genevieive Bujold was also to be the original Captain for Star Trek Voyager but was quickly replaced by Kate Mulgrew. Here is footage that survives of her original appearance-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpkHURChrSw (10:02 mins)

    Fun fact. The studio execs were so paranoid if a woman could carry off the lead role as a Starship Captain, that they spent the first few days on the set watching Mulgrew like a hawk until they were convinced that it would work. Trekkies had already seen lots of female Star Trek Captains in previous series so it was no biggie for them.

  25. ashley

    im a lesbian thats probably around heidi’s age, and drag shows have always been a thing at the lesbian parties i went to. i actually found it incredibly annoying, not because i have a problem with drag but because it would always interrupt a song that i was vibing to and often dancing with a cute chick and then poof its over time to watch this awful amateur performance that ruins the vibe. and of course the cute chick would wander off.

    this was back in ~2010.

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