2:00PM Water Cooler 5/30/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m sorry to be a little late. I got wrapped around the axle on NIH’s Long Covid study, and belatedly realized the topic really needed to be in a post. So I had to scramble. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

European Turtle-Dove, Kelling Heath, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom.

* * *


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

Biden Administration

“New Details in Debt Limit Deal: Where $136 Billion in Cuts Will Come From” [New York Times]. “According to an administration official, the deal leaves intact funding for two key Covid programs: Project NextGen, which aims to develop the next generation of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, and an initiative to offer free coronavirus shots to the uninsured… The agreement only sets parameters for the next two years of spending. Congress must fill them in by passing a raft of spending bills later this year. Large fights loom in the details of those bills, raising the possibility that lawmakers will not agree to spending plans in time and the government will shut down.” • I’m glad Project NextGen, which seems to be our only way forward for potentially sterilizing nasal vaccines, absent foreign travel, didn’t get axed. But there’s plenty of opportunity still for Pfizer and Modern to have a word with the appropriators….

“Debt ceiling deal’s next steps — getting it through Congress” [CBS]. “The House released the 99-page legislative text Sunday evening…. Both Republicans and Democrats are expected to lose some votes, and leaders on both sides have been telling the rank and file that neither side won everything it wanted, as they strive to ensure that the deal has the support to pass both chambers. The president has urged both the House and Senate “to pass the agreement right away.” Top White House Cabinet officials and aides including chief of staff Jeff Zients, counselor to the president Steve Richetti, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and several others have been phoning and briefing lawmakers and fielding technical questions from congressional staff, according to a White House official. They have called over 60 House Democrats and briefed House and Senate Democrats, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, with more specific briefings to come Tuesday. Under House rules, lawmakers must have 72 hours to read the bill, and since they received it on Sunday, Wednesday would be the earliest day the House can vote. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer indicated Tuesday the House will vote on the bill Wednesday night.” • Commentary:


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

The Democrats are going to regret this if they can’t keep Biden juiced up (or if Ukraine goes pear-shaped (or Covid roars back)):

“Ron DeSantis raises $8.2 million in first 24 hours after launching presidential campaign” [CBS]. ” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised a record $8.2 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his 2024 presidential campaign, as he barrels toward an expensive and combative primary led by former President Donald Trump. The sum includes online donations and money raised by fundraisers at a gathering in Miami to dial for contributions, DeSantis’ campaign confirmed. The breakdown of how much each method raised is unclear. DeSantis’ $8.2 million haul surpasses President Biden’s first day fundraising of $6.3 million on day one of his 2020 campaign launch, and outpaces the $9.5 million Trump raised in the first six months of his 2024 campaign. Only South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who had over $22 million in his Senate reelection account when he transferred it to his presidential campaign, began his White House bid with more ‘hard’ dollars — or money raised under federal fundraising limits.” • Interesting on Scott.

“Stanford professor Jay Bhattacharya joins Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign kickoff” [Stanford Daily News]. “Florida governor Ron DeSantis announced his 2024 presidential campaign bid through Twitter earlier today on May 24, garnering more than 1.3 million views on his 2-hour Twitter Space live. Stanford professor of health policy Jayanta Bhattacharya A.M, A.B ’90, MD ’97, Ph.D. ’00, was featured as a speaker on the live stream alongside figures like Twitter CEO Elon Musk and PayPal founding COO David Sacks. Bhattacharya and DeSantis have worked together in the past on COVID-related issues, with both figures having historically supported the easing of pandemic restrictions. At Stanford, Bhattacharya is the director of the Center on Demography and Economics of Health and Aging and a senior fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, among other appointments. During the live broadcast, Bhattacharya said it was “an absolute honor” to work with Desantis and praised what he described as DeSantis’ abilities to make decisions on COVID-19-related issues despite criticism. He expressed support for DeSantis’ rolling back certain pandemic-induced restrictions, including school closures, saying, “Governor, you did the right thing when you opened the schools.'” • So, the Overtown Window on Covid has the openly eugenicist GBD on the right, and the stochastic eugenicism of Biden’s policy of mass infection without mitigaton on the left.

“Ron DeSantis Thinks His Wife, Casey, Should ‘Be on Every Fashion Magazine'” [Jezebel]. “The thing is, fashion magazines famously care about fashion, and Casey is not fashionable so much as she is trying way too hard to sartorially perform the role of FLOTUS. This is a woman who wore to a daytime event at the Florida capitol a hot pink off-the shoulder dress with roses, white gloves, and white pumps. A woman who wore a tacky gold one-shoulder pageant dress to Ron’s election night party. A woman who tried so, so hard to conjure Jackie O comparisons with her inauguration cape look. Ron could have merely said Casey deserved to be on the cover of ‘women’s magazines,’ but conservatives are still reeling over the fact that (actually stylish) Michelle Obama was a fashion world darling, while the same publications mostly ignored Melania Trump. Times fashion columnist Vanessa Friedman wrote that the couple is trying to project ‘Camelot-meets-Mar-a-Lago,’ and Casey is using her body in this effort to make Ron look the part. The capes and gloves are an attempt to project royalty. ‘She understands the image game and how to play it,’ Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist, told Friedman. But does she? She’s constantly overdressing at events where she’s photographed next to other people who aren’t doing that, and it looks comical. As House of Cards costume designer Tom Broecker told the Times, Casey is ‘dressing to be either princess of the world or first lady.'” • Meow!

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.

* * *

2023 – 2016 = 7 years later, and Trump is still living rent-free in their heads:


“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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers


I am actually with the The Corsi-Rosenthal Foundation on this; I have a sense, however unmotivated by actual data, that we’ve hit bottom on opposition to non-pharmaceutical interventions, just because so many dull normals at ground-level weren’t having it.


“Assessing the Fit of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators Fitted with an Ear Loop Strap System: A Pilot Study” [Annals of Work Exposure and Health]. N = 16. ” Three models of cup-shaped N95 [filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs)] were tested in three versions: the standard version with manufacturer’s strap system, the [ear loop straps system (ELSS)]-converted, and the ELSS-converted version modified by adding the [novel faceseal (NFS)]. [Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved quantitative fit testing (QNFT)] demonstrated that the fit of an N95 FFR featuring the traditional/standard headbands strap system is negatively impacted when this system is converted to an ELSS. The fit of an ELSS-converted respirator can be significantly improved by the addition of the NFS.” On the NFS: “The key element of this technology is an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam that is secured to the inner perimeter of the respirator, enhancing its fit to the user’s face.” • Bottom line is don’t turn your straps into earloops, and maybe better face seal tech is on the way (one of the authors has a patent on the NFS).

Lysistratic Non-Action by implication?

“Something Awful”

SARS-CoV-2 optimizing the social conditions for its reproduction by causing brain damage:

I’m leery of this claim as a trope because it’s so close to Democrats saying “Republicans are stupid.” And I’m also leery of medicalizing and psychologizing as methods. Nevertheless, there does seem to be some science here (and lots of anecdotes, too, which, when suitably aggregated, are one of our few reliable sources of…. data). Perhaps readers can talk me off the ledge on this one, because it’s uncomfortably close to a The Last of Us scenario. Oh, and:

Word of the day: anosognosia. Rings true!

Elite Maleficence

On “personal risk assessment” (1):

On “personal risk assessement” (2):

“THIS conference” was the CDC conference of “infection detective” brain geniuses who managed to create a superspreader event.

And speaking of the CDC:

“CDC Meeting Turns COVID Super Spreader” [Prevue Meetings and Incentives]. “A week after CDC held its three-day, 2,000-attendee 2023 Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference in Atlanta, about three dozen attendees [now 181] reported they had contracted COVID. As reported in the Washington Post, ‘Attendees said many people at the gathering did not mask, socially distance or take other precautions that the CDC had recommended earlier in the pandemic.’ As Alanis Morissette would say, isn’t it ironic? More to the point, isn’t it a reminder that, as sick of the expense and hassle of COVID precautions as most meeting organizers and their attendees are — and despite U.S. reported cases of the virus falling to their lowest levels in two years — COVID still is on track to be one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. this year? … While many event organizers, at least anecdotally, have dropped all COVID-related precautions, business is still brisk for Attend Safe, which provides an array of virtual verification and on-site COVID-related risk-mitigation services, says CEO Amanda Schleede. ‘I would say about half are saying it’s over, or it’s just the flu’ she says, citing the recent CDC meeting and another recent 35,000-attendee healthcare-related convention that had no COVID-related protocols in place.” • Fascinating than an event organizing trade journal has more insight into how Covid spreads than Hospital Infection Control — and Attend Safe spotted a business opportunity. Love the Alanis Morisette reference. Cheeky!

* * *

Our famously free press:

Worse than labor reporting!

“”We Want Them Infected:” A Review of the Push for Herd Immunity” [Psychology Today]. “Before the federal agency he represented could say with certainty when vaccines would be available—before any serious reckoning with the precautionary principle, a bedrock to U.S. public health policy since the 1970s—Alexander advocated openly for the mass infection of infants, children, young adults, and the middle-aged ‘with no conditions, etc.,’ on the assumption that doing so would hasten population immunity without mass sickness or mass death. As readers of COVID news will already know, and Howard’s book documents with much-needed rigor and tenacity, it did neither. More than 850,000 people have since died from the virus in the U.S. alone. Alexander, we now learn, was supported by several high-profile epidemiologists, health economists, and even a radiologist whose early, error-strewn talking points—widely publicized by conservative and libertarian think tanks—helped set COVID policy at the federal level. With their shared emphasis on intentional mass infection of the unvaccinated documented unflinchingly in this book, it is much easier to grasp why, of necessity, that policy came to include vehement opposition to almost all previously accepted public health measures—targeted local lockdowns and social distancing, testing and contact-tracing, masking and indoor air changes, and eventually, cross-generational vaccination.” • Policies that remained constant across two administrations, given Biden’s policy of mass infection without mitigation.

The Jackpot

COVID-19 was just the warm-up act” [Peter J. Hotez, Houston Chronicle]. The deck: “Catastrophic pandemics may become our new normal.” More: “SARS, SARS-2 and MERS all came from wild bat populations before they jumped to humans, either directly or through other animal species. This happened because of accelerated human and animal migrations due to climate change, deforestation and urbanization. New coronaviruses are currently jumping from bats to people hundreds or even thousands of times daily. Every few years one catches fire and causes a pandemic. We should expect yet another major and entirely new coronavirus pandemic to strike us before 2030. … We are entering a reality in which catastrophic pandemics could become our new normal. …. To respond at the national level, the U.S. government has implemented some measures, but they may not be sufficient. The CDC has improved since it missed the entry of the SARS-2 virus from southern Europe into New York and failed to implement diagnostic testing in 2020, but it is still not ready for the next big one. That will still take time. Next, the Biden administration has proposed a Project NextGen initiative to stimulate investments in universal coronavirus vaccines and other countermeasures, but it remains unclear if those funds will be mobilized.” • See under Biden Administration for Project NextGen.

“Immunologist Akiko Iwasaki: ‘We are not done with Covid, not even close'” [Guardian]. Iwasaki: “I understand why the emergency declaration had to be ended, because of the economic impact and other things. But at the same time, we are not done with Covid, not even close. The virus is here to stay with us and that’s why we do need to think about future booster vaccines that match with the circulating variants, as well as the potential of new variants that further evade our existing immunity. I get that people want to move on from the pandemic, but the virus is still out there, people are getting infected, and there’s the possibility of developing long Covid. I’m still wearing masks and following preventive practices as much as possible.” • Iwasaki is at least on the side of the angels with nasal vaccines, but notice how she advocates for non-pharmaceutical interventions at the personal level, but not the systemic level.

* * *

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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from May 25:

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 27, 2023:

Lambert here: XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.9.1 still on the way up, eating into XBB.1.5. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

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.


From Walgreens, May 30:

-1.8%. Frequency down to once a week.


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 24:

Lambert here: Zero deaths, for three days in a row. Not possible. Thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 billion endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to the clown car at WHO.

Total: 1,165,281 – 1,164,934 = 347 (347 * 365 = 126,655 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

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas sank by 5.7 points from the previous month to -29.1 in May of 2023, the lowest since the pandemic-induced crash in the second quarter of 2020.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin Ordinals Are The Next Big Thing In Crypto” [Forbes]. “The hot new thing in crypto are ordinals. In a nutshell, an ordinal is a piece of information written to the bitcoin blockchain and referenced by a unique address also held in the blockchain data structure. Sounds similar to an non-fungible token (NFT), but an NFT is a token that references a piece of data somewhere else on the internet like IPFS (inter-planetary file system), which is the actual data. It might be somewhere else, but the trouble is, if the file or its storage goes away then the NFT data is gone, only leaving the token pointing to nothing. An ordinal is actually stored in a bitcoin block so while bitcoin or any of its forks live, the data is there.” • So now they’re just hyping…. digits? Like latlon coordinates except unrelated to a map?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 30 at 1:47 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Earthquakes. “The lack of negative activity has downgraded this category’ [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

The Conservatory

I realize this is 2023 – 2006 = 17 years old, but I’m only just now getting around to it:

I don’t know if I like the music much, but I do like the refrain (lyrics).

Guillotine Watch

“Elizabeth Holmes enters Texas prison to begin 11-year sentence for notorious blood-testing hoax” [Associated Press]. “Holmes, 39, on Tuesday entered a federal women’s prison camp located in Bryan, Texas — where the federal judge who sentenced Holmes in November recommended she be incarcerated. The minimum-security facility is about 95 miles northwest of Houston, where Holmes grew up aspiring to become a technology visionary along the lines of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. As she begins her sentence, Holmes is leaving behind two young children — a son born in July 2021 a few weeks before the start of her trial and a 3-month old daughter who was conceived after a jury convicted her on four felony counts of fraud and conspiracy in January 2022.” • Not even a good start.

Class Warfare

“‘What’s More Tragic is Capitalism’: BLM Faces Bankruptcy as Founder Cullors is Cut By Warner Bros.” [Jonathan Turley]. “Two years ago, I wrote columns about companies pouring money into Black Lives Matter to establish their bona fides as ‘antiracist’ corporations. The money continued to flow despite serious questions raised about BLM’s management and accounting. Democratic prosecutors like New York Attorney General Letitia James showed little interest in these allegations even as James sought to disband the National Rifle Association (NRA) over similar allegations. At the same time, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors cashed in with companies like Warner Bros. eager to give her massive contracts to signal their own reformed status. It now appears that BLM is facing bankruptcy after burning through tens of millions and Warner Bros. cut ties with Cullors after the contract produced no — zero — new programming. Some states belatedly investigated BLM as founders like Cullors seemed to scatter to the winds. Gone are tens of millions of dollars, including millions spent on luxury mansions and windfalls for close associates of BLM leaders. The usual suspects gathered around the activists like former Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias, who later removed himself from his ‘key role’ as the scandals grew.”

IIRC, those GBD loons are for child labor, too. Not their children, I am sure:

“The History of Nepo Babies Is the History of Humanity” [The New Yorker]. “What if world history more resembles a family tree, its vectors hard to trace through cascading tiers, multiplying branches, and an ever-expanding jumble of names? This is the model, heavier on masters than on plot, suggested by Simon Sebag Montefiore’s ‘The World: A Family History of Humanity’ (Knopf), a new synthesis that, as the title suggests, approaches the sweep of world history through the family—or, to be more precise, through families in power. In the course of some thirteen hundred pages, “The World” offers a monumental survey of dynastic rule: how to get it, how to keep it, how to squander it.” • That would certainly be how elites think of the world, yes; see here.

“The people in charge”:

News of the Wired

“Day 20: Sigils are an underappreciated programming technology” [Raku Advent Calendar]. “Every time a programmer  @ s someone on GitHub – for that matter, every time someone describes themselves as  #blessed  or tags a post as  #nofilter  – they’re using a sigil…. The symbolic nature of sigils is key to their power: because they encode an entire phrase’s worth of information into a single glyph, they have a much higher semantic density. Put differently, they let you say more, with less.” • Hmm. Not sure I can think of an example of a sigil in the wild. At least in English, punctation comes at the end…..

* * *

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 JZ:

JZ writes: “The magnolias are beginning to bloom.”

* * *

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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. Carla

    Ooops — No Water Cooler! A Plantidote (thank you!) and bird song, but no Water Cooler…

  2. griffen

    Hey kids, ever hear the one about coal miners going underground? yeah it sounds pretty bad, but guess what you can work and stay safely above ground while you do it ! Go stand by that deep fryer filled with french fries and boiling oil, and we’ll send you allowance money every two weeks! \sarc

    The cynicism is strong with this one, yes. Fearful of the dark side.

    1. roxan

      SEPTA, the Philadelphia public transportation system has started forbidding masks on vehicles due to too many crimes committed by perps wearing ski masks. Seems to be open season for shooting passengers, this year!

  3. mrsyk

    I just looked at that The fed up Chef tweet and I can’t stop laughing. Is that CNN headline for real? And I seem to be stuck in italics.

  4. Tom Stone

    I try to encourage anyone I see wearing a mask, when I encounter a female clerk wearing one at the checkout I remark that the mask adds an air of mystery to her beauty.
    I smile with my eyes while saying it and have yet to have anything but a positive response.

    1. ambrit

      I tried the “smiling with my eyes” trick once and the cashier called Security. There’s ;smiling’ and there is “smiling.”

  5. Diogenes

    Lifted from the comments section of the item internally linked to as support for the contention the Great Barrington Declaration is openly eugenicist (not “secretly” “actually”, “covertly”, etc., mind you, but “OPENLY” — which should make it straightforwardly simple to verify by reference to the text itself, one might suppose.) And yet…

    Dood, el Farbe says:
    October 7 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Sir, you may wish to have a chat with the person who (un)reliably informed you that “herd immunity” is not a phrase used in human public health spheres. I linked one article from a paediatric hospital from 2017, and linked below is an article from 1983.

    Both regard measles, because that’s a common malady where discussion about how herd immunity has broken down due to anti-vaccine fear mongering.


    Anyway, you might consider excising that portion of your post because it just makes you (and your reliable informant) look a bit silly.

    Richard Murphy says:
    October 7 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Er, no it doesn’t

    Odd exceptions do not prove anything

    It is a veterinary medicine concept

    And it works in herds where vaccines are available and the illness basically non recurrent

    So the assumptions relating to its use don’t even apply


    Dood, el Farbe says:
    October 8 2020 at 1:32 am

    “Odd exceptions do not prove anything”

    You no longer seem to be responding in anything one would say is in good faith.

    What I provided were not “odd exceptions”. But rather, hundreds of thousands of instances from the 1960 through the 2010s where researchers described human “herd immunity”.

    You can stick your head in the sand, if you wish (and I’m sure you will not have the guts to post this comment), but you’re weirdly and wildly wrong when you argue that human public health does not describe “herd immunity” as a human thing. Your argument that it is relegated solely to veterinarian health is just plainly and stupidly wrong, as shown by the weight of all evidence.

    Why do you persist in such incredibly incorrectness?

    One wonders why.

    Richard Murphy says:
    October 8 2020 at 7:04 am

    I have made my point

    So have you

    We disagree

    So when confronted with abundant, direct, documentary refutation of his point, the author persists in hand waving — “I have made my point. So have you. We disagree.”

    I’m struck by how much of the criticism of the Great Barrington Declaration and its authors is of this sort. One begins to wonder, if it’s as bad as some claim (“right wing”, “openly eugenicist”), why are there not more good faith, coherent critiques of it?

    The defense of the elderly’s civil rights is interesting one. Somehow their civil rights would have been less impinged upon, the claim appears to be, if the entirety of society (necessarily including them) had been locked down, relative to their having been compelled, not by government diktat but by an enlightened evaluation of self-interest, to sequester themselves?

    Up is down and down is up.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, the Great Barrington Declaration types are peddling snake oil and that should be obvious by now.

      There is no such thing as herd immunity to a coronavirus. Wash your mouth out for suggesting the idea. It’s misinformation.

      Omicron looks milder because it has less affinity for the ACE2 receptor, so Covid no longer attacks primarily the lungs and turns them into goo. But the decline in lifespans all around the world ex China during its zero Covid period shows that Covid has a mortality cost beyond directly getting sick and dying of it. That was shown in a VERY large scale study using VA data, and was stratified by age, major variant, etc. The more often you got Covid, the more likely you were to die in the next six months. Similarly, see our many links to articles on impact on the brain.

      1. tevhatch

        Yes! Currently there is no such thing as long term immunity to any of the common cold or flu viruses, without which there can be no herd immunity. It’s one of the reasons older variants of flu strains are kept in the flu shots. If I remember correctly, it’s been decades, they don’t give new immunity, but they serve to stimulate the innate immune* system. That’s one reason I was extremely suspect of the first claims for the new “science” for the C-19 shots, claims which now have degraded to come into alignment with my expectations.

        *Some people have a stronger innate immune system naturally, so they get infected, can spread but don’t get ill.

        1. Diogenes

          LONG term immunity is moving the goalposts.

          From what I’ve gathered, natural immunity typically persists for six months to a year or more. For purposes of disrupting a pandemic, presumably it would be sufficient if enough people were immune at any given point in time that the virus lacked enough new susceptible hosts to continue to spread.

          1. The Rev Kev

            There was an Israeli study done about two years ago where protection post infection was found to be only for about two months. Before too long, we were getting down to only one month’s protection. This made herd immunity nothing more than a bad joke and yet I am still hearing public health officials talk on about it even today. In the end, it was all about saving disruptions to the economy and not public health or even saving lives. And we were not even allowed to question the vaccines-

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PM67hjv4iM (2:59 mins)

              1. The Rev Kev

                If natural immunity holds for so long while induced immunity only holds for only a month or so, then there can be no justification for those vaccines then, especially when you consider how many people are being damaged by them. Call me cynical but you would think that after three and a half years of this Pandemic, this would all be settled science by now.

                1. Diogenes

                  Yeah, news flash: the vaccines are no great shakes.

                  That’s not meant to be a retort to me, I hope.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    No, not at all. I guess that this is what happens when you follow The Science instead of science. Still find it hard to believe that the medical authorities in so many countries threw their own populations under the bus in defence of The Economy.

          2. tevhatch

            I didn’t say life-time, but 6 months won’t hack it for a world wide pandemic.

      2. Diogenes

        I wrote nothing about herd immunity so I’ll take a pass on the mouth wash. (But you might want a word with the authors of the thousand-ish or so papers just in PubMed addressing herd immunity in the context of coronaviruses who evidently do think it’s “a thing”.)

        Nor did I address Great Barrington Declaration TYPES. I would be unsurprised to find such a subjective term capable of encompassing whatever you might like it to include.

        I’m addressing myself to the document itself, which has the advantage (or, for certain sorts of critics evidently, the disadvantage) of being concrete, and relatively clear, and to the gloss upon it which its authors have made in their public comments. I’ve found nothing eugenecist (openly or otherwise). As I take their central arguments, it’s that the cost of lockdowns would exceed their benefit, and that given the unequal risk-stratefication by age, obesity (and as subsequent events have since seemed notably to suggest, Vitamin D levels) and other factors, that the public health response should be tailored likewise.

        Since their proposal did not generally carry the day, insofar as public health policy is concerned, the argument at this point is necessarily over counterfactuals and the bottom line is that there is no real way to know with much confidence what WOULD have happened, although there are some data points which might be instructive. Such as Sweden’s example, and the relatively open-society model they pursued. Their excess deaths numbers stack up well: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/sweden-covid-and-excess-deaths-a-look-at-the-data/

        1. Yves Smith

          The entire section you hoisted was an argument about herd immunity, so it is completely and utterly intellectually dishonest for you to disclaim having introduced it as a topic by using others’ words to do so.

          And a mere six months of immunity is worse than useless, when as the big VA study on Covid cases shows, EVERY repeat case of Covid markedly increases the near term death rate and therefore decreaeses expected lifespan. Getting Covid has a marked and cumulative health cost. We are getting sicker and stupider. But you manage to blow that off.

          1. Diogenes

            Then we’ve failed to communicate.

            The intended point of quoting the section was nothing to do with the particulars or relative merits of herd immunity, per se, but that Murphy was making the audacious, insupportable claim that no such term even exists, insofar as the literature on human health is concerned. And when confronted with direct evidence to the contrary, which could not have taken the first refuting commenter more than three seconds to find, Murphy steadfastly refused to acknowledge the error.

            1. Yves Smith

              No, sorry, this is yet more bad faith argumentation, as in shifting the grounds of your argument by trying to recant what you clearly wrote.

              You EXPLICITLY cited that argument over herd immunity to defend Great Barrington Declaration types, who tout herd immunity as the answer for Covid.

              And since when do we cite or defend Murphy, or deny herd immunity in other contexts? So you are trying to tag us as defending him, when you and ONLY you dragged him into this discussion. Yet more bad faith via straw manning.

              You’ve engaged in persistent violations of our written site Policies.

              I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet. Elsewhere.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      “The defense of the elderly’s civil rights is interesting one. Somehow their civil rights would have been less impinged upon, the claim appears to be”

      I’m still waiting to hear about how your “calibrated approach” does anything to protect the elderly or immunocompromised. How do your finely tuned calibrations protect the elderly who live with family, including children you want attending school maskless? Is it some sort of emanations from calibrations that protect a person undergoing cancer treatment who has to work for a living when you want them in the office without masks? How do you set the calibrations to protect the elderly in nursing homes when you want their caretakers to be infected?

      You’ve picked a minor point from Murphy so you can avoid the points about the limited nature of immunity to coronaviruses and the ability of this virus to mutate rapidly to avoid human immune systems. Since you are an avid reader of this site, you also avoid all the evidence that Covid leaves our immune systems less effective rather than more.

      The GBD signatories are no better than the bought “scientists” who told us tobacco was no problem and climate change is a hoax. I don’t think there are a lot of people who read this site who are falling for such an obvious effort to do the billionaires’ bidding.

        1. Raymond Sim

          I’d prefer you honestly address this topic. The GBD’sters are unfairly maligned? Cough up some evidence of them advocating for actual protection of the vulnerable.

          I’ll sit back and watch while your interlocuters bury you under examples of them campaigning against any and all mitigations.

          You have to know that will happen. Such an odd tangent you’re off on. I wonder why?

          1. Diogenes

            You seem gleeful at the prospect. Is that your idea of a productive exchange? Dogpile on the person stating a different point of view?

            Here’s advocacy from co-signer Martin Kulldorff in favor of maintaining the J&J vaccine on the market, because, notwithstanding clotting concerns, the risk/benefit of it was still favorable for the elderly and other high risk people: https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/548817-the-dangers-of-pausing-the-jj-vaccine/

            For being too pro-vaccine, he was relieved of his CDC duties.

            Gonna give me some special pleading shuck and jive now that I’ve given you a direct answer to a direct question?

            1. Raymond Sim

              Hmmm, looks like you’ve gotten the boot. If you’re still reading, endorsing a vaccine scarcely qualifies as advocating for the vulnerable.

              As for me being gleeful about the response you were bound to get, honestly that stuff’s for kids. Watching you engage in an exercise both odious and futile simply left me wondering why you’d use your time in such a way.

  6. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s)

    Pleasant, clean campgrounds and usually pretty chill, I used to stop here on my way from Chicago enroute to the Northwoods– the Turkey Vultures are prolific and a hell of a sight; they are a very-unpleasant looking bird…

    DNR: No public safety concerns after train derails near Devil’s Lake State Park

    BARABOO, Wis. (WMTV) – Wisconsin & Southern Railroad is working on a cleanup plan after three train cars derailed in Devil’s Lake State Park over the weekend.

    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden Supervisor Sean Neverman said the train derailed around 8 p.m. Sunday, just south of S. Lake Road, within park boundaries…


    1. Bugs

      Devil’s Lake is a beautiful state park. Spent plenty of time up there as a kid and teenager. The water was very clean back in the day. Good campground too. Saw my first hippies there!

      1. ambrit

        “Saw my first hippies there!”
        Lucky you! They are very hard to find today.
        I remember reading the chapter on Hippies in Ivan T Sanderson’s book, “Cryptids of North America,” way back in the 1960s when they were a lot more plentiful.

    2. Late Introvert

      Oh man, that hits too close to home for me. We camped there about 8 years ago, and we also have the luxury of a few days a year at a cabin on Lake Wisconsin. Humans suck.

  7. LawnDart

    I’d agree there’s often truth to that, that the masks can accentuate the feminine– a similar effect as a well-worn veil, something long-overdue and deserving of a comeback in fashion.

    Me, I’d prefer a Darth Vader in coal-black, something more Sci-Fi or steampunk than my duck-bill N95s…

  8. Ray

    San Francisco’s Fentanyl ad campaign…

    Today’s Fentanyl dealers are Honduran ‘migrants’ who jealously guard their wholesale and retail sales territory. They probably feel emboldened because of the Soros funded district attornies and lax local law enforcement. Also, they have friends in high places.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    “An effort by San Francisco (D.A. Kamala Harris) to shield eight young Honduran crack dealers from federal immigration officials backfired when the youths escaped from Southern California group homes within days of their arrival, officials said Monday.

    The walkaways are the latest in a string of embarrassments for city officials who are protecting illegal-immigrant drug dealers from federal authorities and possible deportation because of San Francisco’s 1989 declaration that the city is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

    Until recently, San Francisco flew juvenile illegal immigrants convicted of drug crimes to their home countries rather than cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a practice that drew national attention when The Chronicle reported it Sunday.”

  9. ambrit

    The most well ‘travelled’ sigils I can think of are the religious symbols. Items such as the Christian “Cross,” the Hebrew “Seal of Solomon,” the Daoist “Yin Yang,” the Buddhist “Om,” etc. etc. Even so far as the Ancient Egyptian “Eye of Ra.”
    Om: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om
    Eye of Ra: https://jakadatoursegypt.com/the-eye-of-ra/
    Seal of Solomon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_of_Solomon (As used on the Israeli flag.)
    Yin Yang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang
    Christian Cross: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_cross_variants
    Then there is that since vilified variation of the “Hakenkreuz,” once used extensively by a certain purportedly National Socialist organization, ie. the swastika.
    Their main opponents, the Soviets, used the Hammer and Sickle as their sigil.
    Let us not even get into advertising symbology and signage.

    1. Grebo

      Hmm, those are just logos. And the examples the article cites are just symbols or glyphs:

      sigils defined
      Since this post is all about sigils, let’s make sure that we agree on what “sigil” means. As I’m using the word, a sigil is:

      1 a non-alphabetic character
      2 that is at the start of a word
      3 that communicates meta-information about the word.

      Thus, in  echo $USER ,  $  is a sigil that communicates that  USER  is a variable.

      This is not a definition I’m familiar with, and I’m a programmer. I think a sigil is a magical design constructed from existing or original symbols with meaning for the practitioner. A kind of spell in graphical form. I’m not convinced hijacking it to replace ‘modifier’ or ‘prefix’ is useful.

  10. Verifyfirst

    Am I a bad person for being happy Elizabeth Holmes is reporting to jail? I wonder how many of her besties will visit?

        1. ambrit

          Reminds me of the homage the Late Moody Blooze wrote about her:
          “Elizabeth Holmes is dead,”
          “No, no, she’s Inside, doing time.”
          “Elizabeth Holmes is dead,”
          “No, no, she’s Inside, doing time.”

      1. christofay

        Christopher something or other the owner of TED and the TED conference participants

    1. Bugs

      I’m waiting with baited breath for her to start a prison diary blog. She’s got such a gift for spinning tales. You just know she’s working angles 24/7.

      1. pretzelattack

        she could get together with the woman in Utah who (allegedly) murdered her husband and then wrote a book about her grieving process for children. it sold well, too.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Meanwhile appeals court ruled Sacklers can keep murder money. They do a lot more damage than this woman. They all should be in jail. Maybe if she’d killed on a large scale she’d be rich and free.

      1. IM Doc

        I think of it this way.

        The Sackler family has maimed and murdered millions. They have blown up the balance sheets of governments from cities and counties to states. Their victims have mostly been blue collar schlubs, the disabled, and the vulnerable.

        Holmes’ victims were a Whos who of the billionaire class. A bunch of stupid old rich men who did not do their homework. I am not a fluid dynamic physicist by any stretch, but I knew enough when I first heard her idiocy to laugh out loud. Yet, they gave her billions.

        Who do you think is going to get punished in this society? Those who have injured millions of middle and lower class folks? Or she who conned a few dozen squillionaires?

    3. Mikel

      She had those two babies between arrest and sentencing.
      Kind of thing that could help at parole.
      Will she even do 5 of the total years?

  11. truly

    No Covid reporting?
    Off the top of my head I immediately think of NC, Jimmy Dore, FLCCC, Dr John Campbell, Kennedy, and others.
    Not that you may agree with many or all of them. But there has been tremendous amount of ink spilled on the subject. Just not by the MSM.

    1. ChiGal

      Those are not reporters! But Ed Yong won a Pulitzer for his truly excellent coverage in the Atlantic. Unfortunately they also published articles written by Emily Oster…

  12. Raymond Sim

    I have a fair amount of personal experience of anosognisia as a result of my stroke. My attempts at explaining my subjective reality since my ich often seem to fall flat, but here goes.

    I would draw your attention to what happens when your attention wanders from something you were focusing on. Even before the stroke the moment of wandering would rarely register in my conscioushess. If you can imagine that as a semi-continuous ongoing process, then perhaps you can envision how a sense of a lapse of in attention or perception can be completely absent even as a severe deficit is manifesting?

    I think it must be that cognitive functioning and its monitoring often use the same resources, and thus fail simultaneously.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “The History of Nepo Babies Is the History of Humanity”

    I suppose that King Charles is the ultimate nepo baby but regardless, this goes on all the time. In a video, Alex Christoforou was talking about the mayor of Athens. He then started listing all the members of his family who were also, you guessed it, the mayor of Athens by coincidence. If the nepo babies were at least as qualified as their parents, then there might be a reason to retain this idea but historically they have proven worse if for no other reason that all obstacles were cleared from their path which means that they never had to really struggle or be tested. Come to think of it, the Roman empire had to struggle with nepo babies as Emperors sought to have their children succeed them which ended up in destabilizing power struggles which ended up weakening the Empire.

    1. Robert Hahl

      I think most if not all modern forms of government are unstable. There are too many people, too much wealth, and not enough real work being done to occupy the mind.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘The Obama/Netflix series is breaking my f****** brain. I’ve replayed this part of his narration 20 times, transcribed it, read it. As the Folksy God Narrator of Neoliberal Reality, it’s fascinating to hear him say this in a tone of soothing matter-of-factness, not horror or anger’

    I guess that this is Obama being Obama and showing who he really is loyal to. Of course he never would mention that it was these very same business leaders who shaped the response to the present pandemic leading to a catastrophic death toll and mounting problems that will not go away. I really do believe that historians will regard him as the catalyst for so many of the ills of present day America whether it be the Ukrainian war, homelessness on a massive scale, the destabilization of the American economy by his saving Wall Street unscathed while throwing Americans under the bus. In the same way we read about how so many of America’s ills can be traced back to Bill Clinton’s legislations, in twenty years time Obama will be thought of in the same way.

    1. Late Introvert

      He threw us all under the bus, but especially black people. He also crossed the picket line like the sniveling weasel that he is.

  15. upstater

    Bill Gates TerraPower and DOE want to “experiment” with bomb grade Uranium for molten salt reactors. This guy is totally malevolent…


    Former U.S. State Department and nuclear regulatory officials on Tuesday urged the U.S. Energy Department to reconsider a plan to use bomb-grade uranium in a nuclear power experiment, saying that its use could encourage such tests in other countries.

    The Energy Department and two companies aim to share costs on the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at the Idaho National Laboratory and use more than 1,322 pounds (600 kg) of fuel containing 93% enriched uranium.

    Bill Gates-backed company TerraPower LLC, the utility Southern Co (SO.N) and the department hope the six-month experiment will lead to breakthroughs in reactors that could help reduce pollution linked to climate change.

    1. Grebo

      600kg is enough for roughly 300 bombs. Does the DoE have that much just lying around? I can’t imagine anyone else does.

      Parsing more carefully the phrase “1,322 pounds (600 kg) of fuel containing 93% enriched uranium” I guess that’s salt + uranium enriched to 93%, so probably mostly salt with a few kgs of uranium.

      1. JBird4049


        Just why does Bill Gates want and need bomb grade uranium? Encouraging anyone to use it is really unwise; most any country has the capability to build a nuclear bomb as the knowledge of how to do so is out there, but it is the control of the uranium by a relative handful of countries that prevents any determined, moderately organized group of randos from building one.

        I can just see Ukraine somehow making a few bombs after some of the uranium for the experiment got misplaced. This would be a great way to get the Kremlin to really freak out and really get dangerous themselves, which might make the grifters running the Ukrainian side of the war really happy.

        1. Grebo

          I certainly wouldn’t want Bill Gates to have the bomb, but this is an experiment not a product ready for export. Maybe they will learn something useful and build something which can be exported.

  16. Acacia

    On the generative AI front, this NLR article by artist Hito Steyerl is pretty good:

    Mean Images

    Like Ted Chiang’s recent articles (to which Steyerl gives a shout-out), it gets more into the political economy of generative AI, and how some so-called “AI” powered apps actually involve a lot of exploited human labor, in the form of microworkers, ghostworkers, etc.

    Meanwhile, and just for grins, this past weekend I tried asking ChatGPT for a short bibliography on a topic that I’ve been studying.

    The results were shockingly bad. I expected some BS, but it was far worse than I could have imagined. More than half of its suggestions don’t even exist. Some suggestions were really random, only tangentially relevant.

    The bot claimed an article was written by particular author, and when I asked if this was correct — knowing that it in fact wasn’t —, ChatGPT doubled down on “yes”, adding a bogus original publication date. Asking for a summary gave me some vague text that has seemingly little to do with the work of the attributed author.

    When I asked for a citation, it gave me a book that existed (actually, I have a copy, with matching year and edition), but bogus page numbers inside the book. As support, the bot confabulated a bogus original publication date and bogus title in the author’s native language.

    When I asked for quotations and page numbers, the bot obliged, giving me totally fabricated text with bogus page numbers. The quotations the bot offered don’t exist anywhere in the cited book, or in any other book I can find. I.e., the bot offers “quotations” that are just totally made-up.

    Sadly, there will be dishonest/lazy/desperate college students who clue into this ‘feature’, and try to use generative AI to evade plagiarism detection software like Turnitin. Smh.

    Meanwhile, my Twitter TL is lately filling up with all sorts of AI hype, generally the lowest order of click-bait-y text, along the lines of “Use these 3 weird tricks to get ChatGPT/Bard/Bing AI to write your next college essay!” Unreal. It’s like these people can’t wait to bring on a “grey goo” disinformation dystopia.

    Some of the AI-hype appearing in my TL suggests that Bard is much better than ChatGPT, but I wonder if it’s really worth investigating any further.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I guess this makes sense. It’s a large language prediction model. Citations are either right or wrong in their entirety.

      I had it coding up some Go for me. It’s seems to be doing well actually. There’s only one canonical way to write go, so that undoubtedly helps.

      I wouldn’t ask it for citations or math. It only knows the next word. Or research for that matter.

      1. Acacia

        You’ve had better luck than I.

        As a test of its ability to generate code, I specifed the exact target programming language and version, and asked ChatGPT to write code to parse a CSV-encoded string into an Array of strings.

        Should be pretty simple, right?

        It gave me code, but using a bogus function that didn’t exist. I told it the function didn’t exist, and asked it to try again. The bot apologized, and proceeded to spit out a slight variation of the code, but with another function that didn’t exist. I then noted that wouldn’t work, asked it to try again, and gave it a reminder of the specific language and version. After that, it apologized yet again, and gave me code with two bogus functions.

        So, just as it makes up citations that don’t exist, it also makes up functions that don’t exist.

        People will say: “well, you’ve got to give it the right prompt….” — which, to me, sort of sounds like somebody saying: “you gotta jiggle it a bit” to get their broken toilet to stop leaking water.

  17. none

    Re loosening up on child labor: kids will actually make lousy bartenders because they usually can’t reach the tops of the beer taps. The place where they can really help out is as chimney sweeps, since they are small enough to climb up the flue, and we know from their immunity to covid that they won’t get respiratory diseases from the soot. Plus they love eating gruel! It’s all we can do to get them to stop asking for more! Finally, as large amounts don’t grow on trees, they can be trained as pickpockets to bring cash back to their hedge fund overlords…

    1. Tom B.

      Cool! Looks like, as usual, “in mice” only so far, but sounds promising. And yet another game changing “Big if true” paper showed up today:

      Article has links to open access paper.
      Explanatory quote from paper:

      Monoclonal antibody therapy has been sidelined by the rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants that escape monoclonal antibody neutralization. Receptor decoys are a new approach that avoids this problem. While the viral spike protein may mutate to escape antibody neutralization, the virus needs to conserve affinity for its receptor and therefore cannot easily escape neutralization by a receptor- based decoy. In this report, decoy-expressing viral vectors were found to be effective in mouse models, both to prevent and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

    2. Acacia

      Thanks for the link.

      I know Lambert has done several articles on the state-of-play for nasal vaccines, but I wonder if any more of them have since been released for general use. India’s Bharat Biotech launched iNcovacc in January, I believe, but I haven’t heard much about it since.

  18. some guy

    . . . ” So, the Overtown Window on Covid has the openly eugenicist GBD on the right, and the stochastic eugenicism of Biden’s policy of mass infection without mitigaton on the left. ” . . .

    Well then, every mask worn loud and proud in public, every Corsi box, every personal boycott of a ” no-masks-freedom” event or venue or place of business, every other personal display of personal reality-based covid-caution knowledge, is a brick thrown through the Overton Window.

    What happens when enough millions of people throw enough millions of bricks through the Overton Window?

  19. skk

    I recall Jayanta Bhattacharya saying protect the vulnerable was the way to go. Myself, at 68, I recall that sitting in the pub, just before lockdown, saying, “we will now see a law saying no one over 60 allowed in bars” and even though it affects me I kinda agree with it. That’s the cohort at risk. Giv en the risk / reward…. but then I said the guys making the laws are old geezers so nope we won’t get that solution.

Comments are closed.