2:00PM Water Cooler 6/23/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Common House-Martin, Junzano, Huesca, Aragón, Spain. “Song.”

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


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Biden will sign an order seeking to protect birth control access a year after Roe was overturned” [ABC]. “President Joe Biden is banking on reproductive rights to be a galvanizing issue for voters in the 2024 election as he collects three top-level endorsements, hosts a rally and issues an executive order seeking to bolster access to contraception as the nation marks a year since the Supreme Court decision overturning federal abortion protections. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday are being endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Emily’s List. The groups are throwing their early support behind the reelection effort in part to highlight the importance of the issue for Democrats heading into the election year, the groups’ leaders told The Associated Press.” • How prescient Democrats were never to have codified Roe!

“Biden to sign executive order to expand free birth control access” [Axios]. Great. Why stop there? Do free health care “access”!

“The Death of ‘Deliverism'” [Democracy]. “Deepak had worked on various efforts to secure expanded income support for a long time—and was part of a successful push over two decades earlier to increase the child tax credit, a rare win under the George W. Bush presidency. His students were mostly working-class adults of color with full-time jobs, and many were parents. Knowing that the newly expanded child tax credit would be particularly helpful to his students, he entered the class elated. The money had started to hit people’s bank accounts, and he was eager to hear about how the extra income would improve their lives. He asked how many of them had received the check. More than half raised their hands. Then he asked those students whether they were happy about it. Not one hand went up. Baffled, Deepak asked why. One student gave voice to the vibe, asking, “What’s the catch?” As the class unfolded, students shared that they had not experienced government as a benevolent force. They assumed that the money would be recaptured later with penalties. It was, surely, a trap. And of course, in light of centuries of exploitation and deceit—in criminal justice, housing, and safety net systems—working-class people of color are not wrong to mistrust government bureaucracies and institutions. The real passion in the class that night, and many nights, was about crime and what it was like to take the subway at night after class. These students were overwhelmingly progressive on economic and social issues, but many of their everyday concerns were spoken to by the right, not the left.” • Commentary;

“‘Hunter is Resolved’: Washington Celebrates the End to the Biden Corruption Scandal” [Jonathan Turley]. “For years, the political and media elite have struggled to “resolve” the disaster that is Hunter. They have finally done so with a long-predicted “controlled demolition” of the scandal by having the president’s son plead guilty to a couple of minor tax violations without a serious threat of jail time. They even threw in a phantom felony allegation that will evaporate once Hunter completes a diversion program. The diversion program is particularly insulting to the intelligence of the American people. Hunter is reportedly no longer an addict, having attended treatment and taken up painting. Yet he will be treated like he is a junkie picked up in a drug sweep, and everyone will pretend that this is about addiction rather than corruption. The Justice Department continues to refuse to confirm what it means by an “ongoing investigation,” but it had often used this claim to refuse to share material with Congress. There is reason to be suspicious. First, no one can explain why it took five years for the investigation of two minor tax counts and a gun allegation that could have been confirmed in a month. Indeed, an IRS whistleblower alleged that Hunter was given preferential treatment and that the whistleblower’s team was removed from further work on the case by the Justice Department. Hunter also never faced any charges after videotaping himself engaged in interstate violations involving a host of prostitutes and drugs. That is now simply material for his scrapbook. There is a glaring omission of any charge under the Foreign Agents Registration Act despite the Justice Department using this charge freely against associates of former President Donald Trump like Paul Manafort. However, again, it would not take five years to establish this crime (which was done in little time with Manafort). Hunter seems to have been simply given a pass on what was likely the greatest concern for the White House. The most notable omission is the failure of any apparent investigation into the expanding scandal surrounding the influence-peddling operation of the Biden family. Despite the release of evidence by the House Oversight Committee showing potentially millions of dollars in transfers to Biden family members from foreign sources, Attorney General Merrick Garland has blocked any appointment of a special counsel.” • That’s quite a bill of particulars. It’s a lot like the “rules-based international order,” which is definitely not about the law, and nobody quite knows what the rules are.

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“”No Labels vows to end presidential effort if polls show Biden ‘way’ ahead of Trump in spring” [Election Law Blog]. “NBC News reports on today’s statement by Ben Chavis, No Labels co-chair. No Labels will make a decision on whether to run a third-party presidential candidate after Super Tuesday and, according to Chavis, ‘If we find that the polls are changed and Joe Biden is way, way out ahead, and the person who the Republicans may choose — and if they continue to choose Donald Trump, even though he’s been indicted — then No Labels will stand down.’ Once again, I’m confounded by No Labels’ analysis…. If No Labels doesn’t want to risk being a spoiler, then it should ‘stand down’ even if the Trump-Biden polls are tight (as they currently are), not just if Biden is ‘way, way out ahead’ of Trump.”

“No Labels declines to reveal just who is funding its third party bid” [Politico]. “No Labels’ bid to run a third party presidential candidate in 2024 has sparked a number of questions about political motivations. Chief among them: Who, exactly, is paying for this thing? The centrist group consists of a constellation of entities, some of which disclose donor names. But the main one is a nonprofit which, unlike political parties, does not have to reveal the names of its funders. And in an interview with POLITICO, its CEO, Nancy Jacobson, declined to do so, saying simply that it was a ‘mixed’ pool of individual contributors including ‘people that want to help our country.'” • Oh. Is “our country” like “our democracy”?

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“Why the 2024 GOP Primary Isn’t Like 2016” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Former New Jersey governor and 2016 GOP candidate Chris Christie argues that the only way to beat Trump is to go directly at him. ‘If you want to be the nominee, you got to go through Donald Trump. I don’t think there’s any other way to do it.’ That may have been a good strategy in 2016, but it’s not all that clear that it will work in 2024. First, as a messenger, Christie is a flawed vessel. The June CNN poll found that 61% of Republican voters said they would not support his candidacy ‘under any circumstances.’ A recent Marist/PBS NewsHour/NPR poll found Christie’s favorable ratings with Republicans deeply underwater by 28 points. In other words, not many Republicans are even open to hearing what Christie has to say, nevermind agreeing with his message. Beyond the messenger problem, there’s a messaging challenge as well. When asked how they’d prefer other Republican presidential candidates to address Trump’s indictment, just 12% of Republican voters in a June CNN poll agreed that those candidates should ‘condemn Trump’s actions,’ while 45% said they shouldn’t take a stand on it either way. Another 42% preferred that the Republican candidates ‘publicly condemn the government’s prosecution of Trump.’ Overall, almost 75% of Republicans think Trump should continue his campaign for president despite his indictment, and almost 60% think he should continue to run even if he is convicted. That does not look like an electorate eager to support a ‘truth teller’ about the dangers of nominating Trump again. Another new poll, this one from Marist/NPR/PBSNewsHour, suggests that an ‘electability message’ is far from compelling to potential primary voters. When asked which was more important in choosing a nominee for president, a candidate who stands ‘on conservative principles’ or one who had ‘the best chance to beat Joe Biden, only 35% chose defeating Biden.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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Realignment and Legitimacy

“Physician and Biomedical Scientist Harassment on Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic” [JAMA]. N = 1028. ” In all, 238 respondents (66%) reported harassment on social media (Table 1). Of these individuals, 210 (88%) reported harassment due to advocacy, 107 (45%) reported harassment on the basis of gender, 65 (27%) race or ethnicity, 31 (13%) sexual orientation, 15 (6%) due to disability, and 74 (31%) due to other self-described reasons…. Of 359 respondents, 228 (64%) reported harassment related to comments made about the COVID-19 pandemic, 111 (31%) reported being sexually harassed, and 66 (18%) reported their private information had been shared (ie, doxxing)… At a time when physicians and biomedical scientists need support and their advocacy is vital to the national interest more than ever before, they are being badgered, doxxed, and sexually harassed. Institutions and companies should support those who are attacked and provide mechanisms to reduce harassment and provide accountability.” • If the public health establishment, along with many lab-coated squillionaire hirelings with M.D. trailing their names, had not played such a pernicious role as scientists in boosting infection, I would be more in sympathy with this complaint than I am. Similarly, Nature and Science have gotten themselves into identity politics; what did they expect? The demand for deference strikes me as… unbecoming. Not that I want anybody to be doxxed…


“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.

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Look for the Helpers

“There’s a Name for What You’re Feeling. It’s Called Moral Injury” [Jessica Wildfire]. “Our cultural norms almost never give us the time or space we need to process our emotions. Our leaders don’t give us the tools to deal with the tragic events in our lives. More often, they deprive us of those tools. They try to convince us to hide our needs and plaster over them with fake smiles. They urge us not to feel. They teach us to minimize and trivialize the feelings of others. They want us to treat our anxiety and depression with consumer spending. They want us to keep hustling. It’s not a bad thing to stop and reflect on the moral injuries we’ve endured over the last several years. It’s necessary for us to heal. We can’t just do it once and then move on. For most people, it’s an ongoing process.”

Covid is Airborne

“Predicting building ventilation performance in the era of an indoor air crisis” (PDF) [Building Simulation]. “The COVID-19 pandemic clearly illustrated that there are enough poorly ventilated spaces in almost all countries and cities to sustain chains of infection. Given this reality, it was asked why such spaces’ ventilation was not improved immediately (Dancer et al. 2021). The answer is that achieving such improvements is highly challenging. First, there is a lack of ventilation performance data. Second, ventilation performance is not constant. Third, it is not the overall ventilation performance that matters, but ventilation rate per person at any time, and occupancy varies significantly, in both space and time. Therefore, a building must provide sufficient ventilation at its maximum occupancy. That is, its ventilation ability dictates its maximum occupancy; a higher number of occupants than the maximum should be avoided.

The power of prediction for determining the ventilation performance of buildings lies in the fact that a validated predictive tool can be applied at low cost to many buildings, provided adequate input data are available. Prediction is therefore an economic approach for assessing ventilation performance at a city or global scale, as it is cheaper to use a reliable predictive tool based on building, system, and climatic factors than to perform field measurements. Such a tool can be physics-based or driven by building ventilation system, envelope leakage, and weather data, supplemented by other monitored data, such as CO2 concentrations.” And: we call for national governments to consider mandating real-time indoor air quality monitoring in at least all public buildings, as people have a right to healthy air in the buildings they must use (Mølhave and Krzyzanowski 2000). We remain optimistic that future innovation will result in advances in economic monitoring and predictive tools for determining ventilation performance in the billions of indoor spaces worldwide.” • The ruling and governing classes know the score; they make their spaces #DavosSafe. Why then is there a requirement for a general solution?

“Long-term exposure to air pollution and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization or death: Danish nationwide cohort study” [European Respiratory Journal]. N = 3 ,721, 810. From the Discussion: “In this large nationwide study, we detected strong associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection and developing severe COVID-19 resulting in hospitalization or death. People with chronic cardio-metabolic and respiratory diseases, dementia and prior ALRIs and those who are the most socioeconomically disadvantaged were most vulnerable.” And:

Although exact molecular mechanisms by which air pollution affects viral infection and pathogenesis of COVID-19 remain unknown, there are several plausible pathways. Exposure to air pollution may promote upregulation of the angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor relevant for viral entry, replication and assembly, and activate proinflammatory transcription factors, producing local inflammation. Furthermore, pollutant exposure reduces mucociliary clearance, promotes epithelial permeability, prevents macrophage uptake, and disrupts natural killer cell function, all of which can increase viral spread and inflammation. Subsequent enhanced inflammation can trigger neutrophil recruitment and further amplify inflammatory processes. Moreover, since pollution is believed to skew adaptive immune responses toward allergic/bacterial responses instead of antiviral immune responses, exposure to air pollution may result in enhanced virus-induced tissue damage and inflammation, promoting dysfunction of a number of organs, including the lungs, heart, kidney, and brain, resulting in death [6]. Furthermore, air pollution likely additionally increases risk of COVID-19 severity and death indirectly by increasing risk of major respiratory and cardio-metabolic diseases, that in turn increase COVID-19 severity/mortality.


“Something Awful”

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.

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Elite Maleficence

I guess they don’t want to know:

This story–

“Scientists are trying to find a mystery person in Ohio who has a new kind of COVID and is shedding it into the sewage” [Business Insider]. “Earlier this year, Marc Johnson, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, took to Twitter with an appeal: “Help me solve a COVID cryptic lineage mystery.” Johnson told Insider that he was looking through a database of COVID samples when he came across a brand-new version, or “lineage,” of the virus. There were massive amounts of this unique strain, all coming from one mystery person in Ohio. The viral material has been primarily found at two sites: The city of Columbus and 40 miles away in the city of Washington Court House — Johnson says the person may live in one city and work in the other. He says that this isn’t ‘an imminent public-health threat,’ and that the person likely has a form of “long COVID” that isn’t contagious. But finding these lineages, and identifying the people who spread them, could unlock new clues into how COVID mutates as well as why some people become super-shedders of the virus for long periods.” • And speaking of the NIH–

“Persistent serum protein signatures define an inflammatory subcategory of long COVID” [Nature (RS)]. “We have identified a serum proteomic signature using a broad-based screen that identifies individuals with PASC that have signs of persistent inflammatory disease. In our cohort, approximately 60% of PASC exhibited an inflammatory signature. Those with evidence of persistent inflammation had a broad range of clinical features that did not clearly segregate the group, suggesting the importance of overlaying biological and clinical readouts in this diverse condition. Our findings provide insights to potential molecular mechanisms of persistent inflammation in PASC and suggest possible therapeutic targets that may be efficacious…” • So the NIH spent a billion dollars on their worthless “12 symptoms” study, with not even the most half-hearted attempt at determining “molecular evidence of persistent inflammation,” which we now have, no thanks to them. What a farce!

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from June 22:

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, June 10:

Lambert here: Looks to like XBB.1.16 and now XBB.1.16 are outcompeting XBB.1.9, but XBB.1.5 has really staying power. 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 June 17:

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, June 19:

2.0%. Still chugging along, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say.


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 21:

Lambert here: Theatre of the absurd. I can believe that deaths are low; I cannot believe they are zero, and I cannot even believe that all doctors signing death certificates have agreed to make it so. Looks to me like some administrative minimizer at WHO put the worst intern in charge of the project. And 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: 1,167,614 – 1,167,387 = 227 (227 * 365 = 82,855 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

Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 22:

Lambert here: Still some encouragement! Not sure why this was updated so rapidly. The little blip upward?

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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Bezzle: “How printers keep us hooked on expensive ink” [U.S. PIRG]. “Martin Shkreli became a public pariah when he marked up Daraprim by 5,000%. Meanwhile, printer manufacturers regularly markup ink by some 10,000%. We shouldn’t tolerate price gouging on medication, nor should we turn a blind eye to the practice for other products. How can the ink in a name-brand cartridge cost 100-times as much as the same ink in a bottle? Manufacturers have designed an elaborate markup racket using anti-choice technology to cajole, push, and even force us into paying exorbitant prices for ink. For example, manufacturers design printers that reject cheaper third-party ink cartridges. These software locks push us to buy their name-brand expensive ink. As a result of these schemes, ink cartridges waste our money and become another unsustainable single-use plastic product.” • I don’t think any of this is new, but it’s still worth remarking on. Especially since one can well imagine a similar use case for water. Or air.

Tech: “The people paid to train AI are outsourcing their work… to AI” [MIT Technology Review]. So AI isn’t just autocoprophagous; it’s auto1…. n-autocoprophagous! More: “It takes an incredible amount of data to train AI systems to perform specific tasks accurately and reliably. Many companies pay gig workers on platforms like Mechanical Turk to complete tasks that are typically hard to automate, such as solving CAPTCHAs, labeling data and annotating text. This data is then fed into AI models to train them. The workers are poorly paid and are often expected to complete lots of tasks very quickly. No wonder some of them may be turning to tools like ChatGPT to maximize their earning potential. But how many? … They estimated that somewhere between 33% and 46% of the workers had used AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It’s a percentage that’s likely to grow even higher as ChatGPT and other AI systems become more powerful and easily accessible, according to the authors of the study, which has been shared on arXiv and is yet to be peer-reviewed.” • Because of course they are. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Tech: “Should we fear or encourage mind control?” [Boston Globe]. • “Fear” and “encourage” are orthogonal. How about we just stop it?

Tech: “Canadians will no longer have access to news stories on Facebook, Instagram: Meta” [Anadolu Agency]. “Meta is ending Canadian access to news stories on Facebook and Instagram after the passage of a law forcing the media giant to pay news outlets for articles it uses, the company announced Thursday. Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – passed the Canadian House of Commons and Senate and will soon receive Royal Assent, at which point it will become law. Meta warned it would stop carrying news stories if the bill came into effect. ‘We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18 … content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada,’ said Meta in a statement.” • That’s a damn shame. What will Canadians do? And I love that incredibly perverted usage of “share.”

Tech: “Meta and Mastodon – What’s really on people’s minds?” [Technovia]. “What defines Mastodon is not the use of a protocol. The protocol is just an enabler. Instead, Mastodon is defined by allowing communities (instances) freedom of association. It is the ability of communities to choose not to federate with anyone else which gives Mastodon its strength. Mastodon is not a social network, which is where I think John and Dare start from. It’s a set of communities which may, or may not, choose to connect to each other. Those relationships are based on shared values and trust: my instance connects to yours because I trust you to moderate effectively, not allow spam, or whatever other ground rules we can agree on. Some communities choose to apply this loosely, and some more strictly (some communities, for example, won’t federate with others who don’t have the same expectations around moderation for everyone they federate with). For some marginal communities the freedom of association which Mastodon is based on is the difference between having a space that’s safe for them to express themselves and not having a space at all. It’s not about having the biggest possible audience – it’s about being able to share in a semi-public way with other trusted communities.” • Hmm.


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 23 at 12:53 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Folk Etymologies” [The New Inquiry]. “A sensitive speaker of English could consider removing the phrase “rule of thumb” from their vocabulary. The term has its roots in domestic violence: a British law stipulated that a man could beat his wife provided he used a switch no wider than his own thumb. This was the history referenced by The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative [(!!)] in a list intended for use in Stanford University’s IT department, which made the rounds online just before Christmas last year. In a column helpfully labeled ‘Context,’ the authors explained why ‘rule of thumb’ should be nixed from readers’ usage. ‘Although no written record exists today,’ the document reasoned, ‘this phrase is attributed to an old British law that allowed men to beat their wives with sticks no wider than their thumb.’ A similar text—this one circulated in 2021 by a student resource center at Brandeis—references the same claim, linking the phrase to domestic violence. The Brandeis list (which, like the Stanford one, was removed from official university websites following backlash) includes a similar disclaimer that ‘no written record of this law exists today.’ But it suggests, nevertheless, that speakers opt for ‘general rule,’ over ‘rule of thumb.’ The Stanford list favors both ‘general rule’ and ‘standard rule.’ As the hedging about the lack of records hints, there is no evidence that the expression ‘rule of thumb’ has its roots in spousal abuse. In fact, this claim has been consistently debunked by scholars for decades. It’s a folk etymology, and an incredibly persistent one at that, that arises with whack-a-mole insistence as fast as linguists and historians can challenge it.” • I have always understood “rule of thumb” to mean “heuristic,” which isn’t the same as “general rule” at all.

Class Warfare

What the heck could have happened in 2020? Something big, I guess:

“Creating the Musical Canon” [JSTOR Daily]. The deck: “When you look at the canon of popular music, who’s on the list looks very much like those who made the list.” • Bourdieu would love that. After all, the point is not whose on the list, but who has the power to make the list (as demonstrated by the fact of having “made it,” as it were.

“On The Dialectics of Socialism and Western Marxisms’ Purity Fetish” [Gabriel Rockhill, Midwestern Marx]. “The relationship between capitalism and socialism is not a simple relation between two fixed socio-economic systems, as if there would be capitalism over here, which would be ‘A’ and socialism over here, which would be ‘B.’ On the contrary, socialism is a collective project that is built out of the skeletal system of capitalism in its decline. Therefore, socialism inherits so many of the problems that plague the history of capitalism. And it is tasked with doing something that is nearly impossible, which is moving from a system that is based on profit over people to one in which people are put at the center of the socio-economic system. One of my favorite jokes that I’ve heard about the socialist project is the following: socialism looks good on paper, but in reality… you just get invaded by the United States. This, of course, addresses the fact that we’ve never had a free socialist country emerge in the history of the world. We have only had what Michael Parenti calls “socialism under siege”: every single socialist experiment has been the target of imperialist destruction. This means that socialism as it emerges in the very real world has to deal with these concrete material factors that it does not control, because it is coming from the bottom up, within a world-system dominated by capitalism. Moreover, socialist countries need to develop by starting out from a position within the geopolitical world of structural under-development. They have to do this without relying on many of the principal mechanisms of development under capitalism, such as colonialism and extreme forms of racist super-exploitation. Finally, socialists inherit all of the political and moral injustices of the capitalist system—baked in racism and homophobia, misogyny and gender oppression, all of the ideologies of the capitalist world—as well as ecological degradation. I think that Carlos’s book does a good job of bringing to the fore this dialectics of socialism and the fact that we should never expect a pure and perfect socialist system to spring forth fully formed as if from the head of Zeus. Instead, we should actually anticipate that socialism will be wracked by a whole series of contradictions related to the fact that it is born out of a system of human and environmental degradation, which is the capitalist system.”

News of the Wired

“Tape Heads” [JSTOR Daily]. “The Mellotron was at the right place at the right time to become a distinctly British instrument. Part of this was practical: tape loops were heavy, and therefore difficult to export or take on tour. Very few of them left Britain. But the Mellotron’s swift adoption by British bands may also have to do with the country’s musical history, which has always gravitated toward novelty. Beatles scholars have noted the influence of British music hall on the British Invasion catalog, a campy, silly style that hearkens to Victorian Britain’s industrial and colonial prowess. The Mellotron’s debut also coincided with a British trend of marrying American blues with a predilection for the nostalgic and the absurd; this sonic union asserted a quintessential, mostly invented national identity. The Mellotron’s popular flute setting is unsettling in its imperfections but can also be described as ‘pastoral’—as in the gentle, lilting introduction to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.’… On another Mellotron-powered album from the late ‘60s, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, the flute tape helps weave together Ray Davies’ idyllic world of small-town churches, steam trains, and other emblems of treacly nostalgia. These examples in addition to The Who Sell Out (a concept album containing fake radio jingles for real British products), and even, to a degree, high fantasy-inspired works by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have informed how many Americans see the United Kingdom today—a place of rolling green hillsides, cozy pubs, and coal-stained cities where people speak in rhyming slang. It goes without saying that there’s far more to the country than what’s reflected on the Village Green. The dreamy sounds of the Mellotron provided the perfect vehicle to export a British sense of self, however one-dimensional.” • I’m not sure whether this is pastoral or not:

* * *

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EH writes “Here is a dogwood tree, a native understory tree of our eastern woodlands, blooming in front of a brownstone in Park Slope Brooklyn, NYC.”

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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. Not Again

    Well, the Titanic has offed another billionaire. That ship has done more for Class Warfare than Bernie Sanders ever did. Is there a way I can send $27 to the ship to show some class solidarity?

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Between century old shipwrecks and torqued off orcas, I’m suggesting you just toss that $27 into the sea.

      1. anahuna

        Thanks for that!

        And in a somewhat different tone, here’s the beginning of Thomas Hardy’s “The Convergence of the Twain.”

        The Convergence of the Twain
        (Lines on the loss of the “Titanic”)

        In a solitude of the sea
        Deep from human vanity,
        And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

        Steel chambers, late the pyres
        Of her salamandrine fires,
        Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

        Over the mirrors meant
        To glass the opulent
        The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

        Jewels in joy designed
        To ravish the sensuous mind
        Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

        Dim moon-eyed fishes near
        Gaze at the gilded gear
        And query: “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” ..

        1. eg

          If I recall correctly the final line of Earle Birney’s Arctic Door

          “Deep and capacious are the tombs of the sea …”

  2. ChiGal

    So the NIH spent a billion dollars on their worthless “12 symptoms” study, with not even the most half-hearted attempt at determining “molecular evidence of persistent inflammation,” which we now have, no thanks to them. What a farce!

    surely some thanks to them, since of course they funded the research being reported on…

    1. Raymond Sim

      I’m going to say that releasing the “You may have Long Covid if … ” list with this publication pending nullifies any obligation of gratitude.

      1. ChiGal

        gratitude aside, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater:
        NIH has many moving parts so some specificity would not be amiss—and failing that, a minor point of clarification for those who might not know ;-)

    2. petal

      I’m not surprised. From what my boss said, NIH funding is down to around 10%. We are back to the bad old days when it’s nearly impossible to get a grand funded. That’s why our lab is being forced to close.

      1. chris

        Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard from friends too. Sorry to hear it’s affecting you. Maybe shift to BARDA grants now?

        1. petal

          Boss decided to retire, sadly. Another brilliant mind gone from the field. Thanks, NIH!

  3. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Because of course they were…

    Norfolk Southern engineer’s safety warning was unheeded before Ohio derailment, NTSB says

    Norfolk Southern supervisors didn’t address an engineer’s safety concerns about a train that ended up derailing in February in East Palestine, Ohio, according to preliminary findings released by the NTSB.


    Twisting in the wind…

    Severe weather in Navarro County derails train and damages trees and power lines

    POWELL, Texas — A train derailed in Navarro County on Wednesday during a round of severe storms in the North Texas area.

    Union Pacific said the incident involved one of its trains and that about 26 rail cars derailed at the scene.

    While officials are still determining the cause of the derailment, the incident was called in during severe storms that the OEM reported as having up to 80 mph winds.

    The train involved was a freight train with double-stack containers.


    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Does “double-stacked” mean one container atop another, all loaded on a flat car? No wonder the wind blew them off the track.

      Profit-maximizing eventually becomes a form of mental illness. Crazy capitalism.

      1. Carolinian

        Almost all of our intermodal trains are double stacked.

        That said winds out West can be incredibly vicious. I’ve had to just pull over at times in my car.

  4. kareninca

    I have a friend who went to a copying place yesterday to have a 50 page document xeroxed. The woman who was working there asked him if he wanted it to be one sided or both sided. He said one sided, since he figured it would be easier to flip through. When he picked it up, he found that she had copied just one side of each page of the original. That is, she had copied only half of the text. When he pointed this out to her she thought it was a normal thing to do.

    Last week I crunched the bumper of another person’s car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. Now I get to wonder whether it was just one of those “first time ever in life and hope it doesn’t ever happen again” things, or whether I’m joining the covid brain damaged contingent. I don’t think I’ve had covid – I’ve had no symptoms ever and have never had a positive test, and as far as I can tell my brain is working as usual (other than this car incident), but with all the dreadful stuff I’m reading it is now hard not to wonder.

    1. Carolinian

      Just tell the other driver to take off and discard that plastic bumper cover since that’s the new look (around here). We are getting ready for the Mad Max future where only well crafted steel will serve as the bumper/weapon of choice.

      Seriously though those large plastic parts must be very expensive to replace, or hard to get, since i see so many cars–some not that old–without them. To complete the badass look paint your car flat black with some spray cans.

      1. Jhallc

        The bumpers on all the newer cars with integrated high tech, cameras, other sensors are very expensive to replace if damaged. At least that is what I’m told. My bumpers are decidedly low tech.

        1. kareninca

          I drive a Honda civic, and my hapless victim was sitting in a large Honda hybrid suv. I am sure his bumpers have a lot of tech in them.

          Someone did just the same thing to me four years ago, when my car was new, and the repair cost her insurance company $5,000. It was the sensors in the bumper, and also the cost of painting had skyrocketed even then.

          1. Carolinian

            Consumer Reports used to be on a crusade for bumpers that could take bumps, aka the “five mile per hour bumper.” But car makers prefer styling and plastic parts do cut weight in line with the current high mileage obsession. My insurance keeps going up even though my driving record is clean and apparently this is true for everyone. The high cost of car repair has been cited as the reason.

            I do think my current car is better than other cars I have owned. Those old all metal gas guzzlers weren’t better for environmental purposes or longevity. And current cars are better at protecting the occupants in an accident. But they do this in part with “crush zones” of vulnerable metal than can absorb shocks. You’ll survive. Your car?…..

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Don’t discount the longevity aspect on older cars/trucks.
              Got 350,000 out of a 2006 Ford Ranger.

              More tech means more crap to break.

      1. Etrigan

        I for one have no idea if I had long Covid in in ‘22 or was simply so stressed out of my gourd that my brain melted for half the year. I guess we’ll find out later!

    2. Glen

      I know I’ve had covid at least once. The last time was middle of February; it’s not done with me yet.

      I got it at work. In hindsight, maybe I should have been one of those people that retired in 2020. Honestly, I would like to keep working, but I’m questioning if my health will allow it.

      Or if Biden starts WW3, I could be recalled to service. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

    3. Benny Profane

      There’s a ton of edibles being consumed out there, and a lot by Boomers who have passed the experation date. The Boomers, I mean.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Birth control–

    Not responsive to the Biden administration’s latest political ploy but…

    The self-described “reactionary feminist” Mary Harrington marks the use of birth control as the first step toward transhumanism. She says it is the first time humans used technology not to cure a disease or heal an injury but to alter normal human functioning.

    1. tevhatch

      Hold my beer… I’d have thought ethyl alcohol and other recreational drugs got there first, then there are procedures like hobbling, though perhaps that’s to cure slaves from running away too fast. Does she include surgical sterilization in her birth control regime?

      1. Lee

        And how about such grotesqueries such as female foot binding, male castration to produce eunuchs and castrati, and female genital mutilation?

    2. aletheia33

      well, i suppose a coat hanger is also technology.
      it is a tool, after all.
      was it an improvement over herbs?
      i know which one i would have chosen to try first, given those two options only.

  6. Harold

    The pop-music “canon “reduces the unimaginable versatility of popular musics from all over the world to a small collection of albums within very narrow stylistic bounds, and defines pop and rock music by the standards of late 1960s rock.”

    Hmm. Didn’t some long-ago prophet once predict: “The effortless electronic voice of the center is drowning out and killing the myriad voices of the folk artists of the world” … “Soon there may be nowhere to go and nothing to come home to. The same hamburger-mickeymouse culture will be installed in every airport and on all highways on a homogenized planted”

      1. Late Introvert

        There are several major uni’s that are part of QuestBridge. Free tuition under $75,000, but you have to get accepted, and I bet the fact you can’t pay is a factor in that. My daughter got wait-listed at Grinnell College, which is a QB school. So close and yet so far. She will have loans now, sigh.

  7. steven t johnson

    Citing Jonathan Turley is poor judgment, much less actually quoting him.

    Turley probably knows that influence-peddling may be corruption but legally you have to demonstrate a quid pro quo. There isn’t any significant evidence of that. The normal legal corruption may be objectionable to me and others, but singling out the Biden Family rather than the Bush family or the Trump family is just right-wing hackery. Turley may be simply a liar or an egregious fool but what Hunter Biden claims to deliver and what he actually delivers aren’t the same thing, no matter how much you want to see Trump re-elected. It is at this point simply an addiction issue but endorsing selective prosecution for Hunter Biden really just proves you’re in the bag. Not too late to chant “Lock her up!”

    The funny thing is there has been a limited demolition by Merrick Garland, but it’s limiting the demolition by prosecutions for January 6. The Republicans politicians in Congress involved and the Republican office holders in Defense and the Republican military officers (not yet an oxymoron, even a volunteer mercenary army puts the officer corps into contact with the masses in a way practically no Republican politician is) have been well-protected. I suppose your thanks to Garland is, but what have you done for me lately?

      1. griffen

        Nor the felony gun charge while in possession of illicit substances. Falsehood and lies, I’m certain of it ! \sarc

        Which if memory serves from a prior conversation, the tough on crime bill passed in the middle ’90s was strongly supported by one Joe Biden. So, there’s tough on crime for others as precedent. Not mindless speculation either. I mean these are not limited to mere anecdotal periods of indulgence. Dear Hunter, indeed.

        1. Clark T

          The prohibition of possessing a firearm while being addicted to or an unlawful user of a controlled substance (18 U.S.C. sec. 922(g)(3)) is under challenge the federal courts. Hunter might skate on that if he gets “lucky.” While it’s the minority view among the courts to have considered it, the issue is yet young. See U.S. v. Connelly, No. EP-22-CR-229(2)-KC, 2023 WL 2806324, at *12 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 6, 2023) (holding 922(g)(3) unconstitutional on its face in the wake of New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022)).

        2. steven t johnson

          Just because I’m not stupid enough to spout Trumpery doesn’t mean I support mass incarceration like you and Joe Biden and the God Trump. That sort of thing is why I didn’t vote for Biden then and won’t next year, either, assuming.

          (You can’t actually vote against someone so voting for the mysterious Other name on the ballot is the best you can do. I think this country desperately needs the Communist Party to run presidential candidates nationwide so voters can *really* send a message!)

          I think all gun factories should be expropriated by the government and put in the department of defense to produce exclusively for the army. Maybe at some point the people’s militia can replace professional police, traffic wardens and process servers and criminal investigators can do their thing without guns.

      2. steven t johnson

        Freaking out over Hunter Biden’s tax evasion in a discussion with a Trumper?
        But, I don’t believe that unless you have double standards, you have no moral standards at all.
        Nobody who believes in jailing for tax evasion should worry about Hunter Biden before worrying about their God Trump first.

        1. griffen

          You have the moral high ground sir (or madam, I dunno), please ensure that you keep it ever thus. Has anyone here actually proclaimed themselves a Trumper or you are drawing the assertion absent any evidence. And to the contrary, please do respond more kindly without the immediate insult.

          Our politicians in broad sweeping are the walking definition of double standard.

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks Hunter’s lawyer? And a five million dollar payment sounds like a quid pro quo. Maybe Congress should clear all this up to your satisfaction.

      Turley isn’t making any accusations as far as I can tell other than the accusation that the whole situation is not being sufficiently investigated by Hunter’s father’s administration. I believe Turley did more or less call Hunter a deadbeat dad for refusing to acknowledge his child with an Arkansas woman. A DNA test forced payments.

    2. flora

      I like Turley. Conservative but honest. He doesn’t change his legal standards based on partisan politics afaik.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Turley’s always been quite readable and fairly cautious in expressing his opinions which, for the most part, I value. I guess my years doing work for the party didn’t make me a good enough Democrat because I’d like to see Her locked up, and I do believe Hunter Biden has a whole lot more legal exposure he should have to deal with.

      [EDIT: Also, what flora said]

    4. chris

      Yves, Lambert, and every other contributor to NC cite all kinds of people. Doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with them. It means they have open minds and challenge what they think with different perspectives.

      If they took the kind of position you just outlined against a writer like Turley, this site would be the worse for it.

      P.S. lock them all up. Every single one in DNC, RNC, and executive branch leadership. Lock up every person who has abused secret records. Lock up all the spooks. Lock up all the Banksters. Lock up everyone in the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Pelosi, Schumer, Cuomo, Biden, Daley, Kagan, Applebaum, Goldberg, McConnel, and Manchin clans. Then maybe we have a chance to build a country where people can hope for a better future.

      1. steven t johnson

        Pelosi, Schumer, Cuomo, Biden, Daley (which one?) Kagan, Applebaum, Goldberg (which one?) McConnell and Manchin are not executive branch. Pelosi and Schumer and McConnell are legislative, Cuomo was not even a federal government office holder. Kagan and Applebaum aren’t even office holders of any sort, the name’s just sound vaguely Jewish to rural types?

        And of course you carefully omit your god Trump from the list of all executive branch leaders. You are no more honest than Turley in my opinion, you just pretend to be hostile.

        Turley *knows* that the way the laws are written and interpreted by courts means the legal judgment of corruption has been reduced to requiring the proof of an agreed quid pro quo. I think this is bad law but my preference for abolishing the stock market so the Pelosis can’t play it and so forth would horrify Turley as much as it does you. Turley deliberately presumes that outright illegal violations are strongly evidenced when they’re not. He falsely concludes that any disagreement on the imaginary evidence must be illegal too. It’s all dishonest.

        Citing liars is not good for any website.

    5. Young

      Re: claims to deliver versus actual delivery.

      OK, let’s say he is not corrupt since he didn’t deliver.

      But, did he swindle the Chinese? Could he be charged for fraud?

      I wish Joe named him “ham sandwich”, instead of hunter.

      1. griffen

        I dunno, calling a child “meal ticket” does have a pleasant ring to the ears. Hey, is meal ticket starting to earn his keep after all them years in the law schooling….need to gin up my “percentages” off that boy’s back…I am heavy on the \ Sarcasm.

        By the bye, the following was a fun mental exercise. I entered varying terms into the searching box things, exchanging a key phrase “Jared Kushner dealing” for “Bill Clinton Global Initiative”. What’s the key common determinant? “Saudi Arabia”. It’s a big club but not all are included!

      2. steven t johnson

        Yes, it seems pretty obvious to me that Hunter routinely scammed his clients. This does seem like one of those cases where you can’t con an honest man, though. The thing is, this is not the same thing as Joe Biden actually delivering a quo for the quid Hunter’s handed over. That’s the real claim, has always been the real claim, and trash like Turley have always dishonestly presented the issues for purely partisan reasons, using selective standards.

        If some Ukrainians who invested in Burisma wanted to sue Hunter for not getting the goods, well, lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

        Stepping back from the Trumpery of it all, the real corruption is what’s legal. Again, senior Bush’s and the Clinton’s afterlife influence peddling is entirely legal and perfectly corrupt. The leading politician most likely to have actually literally broken the letter of the law was, is and will continue to be the Trump God.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Kinda seems like Trump is the only criminal you see in our corrupt system.

          That’s very untrue.
          They’re all criminals.

  8. Roger Blakely

    Los Angeles County Public Health reports that wastewater numbers went down to 10% of the winter peak from 17% of the winter peak from last week’s report. These wastewater numbers come with a two-week lag. However, I am hearing stories this week of whole work sites going down with dozens of positive cases at the same time.

  9. Rick

    On covid virology – does anybody know what happened to @TRyanGregory, of “Kraken” infamy? His Twitter account has been deleted and I can’t find any word as to the reason. He was a good source of SARS-CoV-2 varient tracking.

    1. SES

      He was called out for posting a photo of himself dining outdoors, but in close quarters, with a number of family members. He explained (or rationalized, depending on your viewpoint) his decision-making; those calling him out doubled down and piled on; he got defensive. It all escalated until he cancelled his Twitter account. I’m not sure, but he may be on Mastodon. I agree that he was a good source of information on variants.

  10. Fiery Hunt

    “rule of thumb” was an idiom in flour mills.
    Millers would take a pinch of flour btween index finger and thumb to measure the grind. If it was too coarse (as felt between thumb and finger), it would be ground again.

    1. Screwball

      Interesting, thanks.

      One of the benefits of being old is eating depression type cooking. Pies, especially. My mom and the ladies used flour, water, salt, and lard to make the pie crust. Sifted if needed of course.

      Lemon meringue was made with real lemons, eggs, water, and suger (my favorite pie). The ladies never measured anything, no matter the pie, or dish. They just knew…like how it felt to the thumb.

      I can still get lard, and mom taught me. Thanks mom!

      Note to self – add lemons to the grocery list

      1. Fiery Hunt

        That’s good stuff right there.
        Grateful my wife (and her sister) are old school bakers…they grew up with a can of bacon grease next to the stove and lard in the cupboard.

        Both skinny as rails. :)

      2. semper loquitur

        I used to work with a very old chef, really just a consultant at the restaurant. He could weigh things with his hands. I would weigh a piece of fish, say 3.43 ounces, and hand it to him. He would say 3.5.

        1. Screwball

          Yes to both. I’m tellin’ ya what – there have never been pies that good since those ladies made them. Think about it – humidity, temperature, etc.,they adjusted. They knew what they wanted, probably because they did it thousands of time. But it was simple, and that’s how they did things back then. The KISS rule (keep it simple stupid) defined.

          Don’t get me thinking about home made ice cream in a wooden barrel filled with ice and rock salt spinning a container of heavenly goo.

          1. Screwball

            Adding; back in the ice cream days they delivered milk to the front door from a truck kept cold by a bunch of ice.

            Now we pump our own gas.

            1. Pat

              Yet one more advance that was supposedly to be better for customers as it would be faster but was clearly about not wanting to pay someone to do the job.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                Don’t get me started on self-checkout…

                “Do you recognize me? No? Cuz I don’t BLEEPING work here!”
                Bill Burr

                1. ambrit

                  As I have now figured out, the perfect answer to those “Customer Service Agents” who try to inveigle you to use the self checkout line is this:
                  Agent: “The self checkout lines are available. You don’t have to wait.”
                  Customer: “Sorry, but I much prefer to wait a bit and help a worker keep their job. Incidentally, when those checkout workers go away, you won’t be needed any more to ‘manage’ them. You will lose your job too. Think about it. Have a nice day!”
                  Who would have thought to characterize waiting in a checkout line that has a live person running it as a form of Labour Solidarity?
                  Stay safe. Keep the faith, baby.

          2. ambrit

            Oh, elysium! That brings back a distinct taste memory of home made coconut ice cream from when we lived in Nassau in the early 1960s. All the ingredients were fresh. The coconuts from right off of the tree. The milk and cream from a nearby dairy that morning.
            Imagine, with full on sea level rise, Naussau will be a shoal in the Atlantic. The remains of the high rise buildings in Miami will be great fishing spots.
            As I used to tease our children: “There once was a Golden Age….”

  11. Jason Boxman

    On symbolic capital, Stoller has made the point that regulated companies in their respective spheres like to invite regulators to their conventions, and give them “awards”, for how great they are to work with. I suppose later on, the regulator can then draw upon this symbolic capital for a plumb gig. So these award reflect in a way what social capital regulators are banking by providing good service to the regulated.

    1. Harold

      If these awards involve banquets or airfare, then shouldn’t regulators at the very least pay some kind taxes on these “gifts”.

      1. John

        Should they be at the convention in the first place much less accept an “award?” You need not capture your regulator in a coup. Do it slowly inch by inch. Works just as well then one day the regulator wakes up and realizes the industry owns him. Bribes work well also.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Remember, “rules-based order.” All that old sh!t about “government of laws” was crap from the git-go (“3/5ths of a free man”) and the rulers know they don’t really need to even make a pretense any more.

  12. Jason Boxman

    At https://iowacovid19tracker.org we’re seeing an uptick in both Biobot and NWSS data, which presumably are distinct because they get different graphs. Both are within the gray bars, and subject to ~ 14 day revision by each respective wastewater aggregator. I wish this data was more timely. If you go state by state, some states report into both, some one or the other. When both have data, it never agrees. It’s almost like our national reporting on this is an ad-hoc shambles.

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    OMG … thanks so much for that!

    I have always wondered why radio remains popular … I am one of those people that fortunately or unfortunately takes their phone out of their pocket … 😂

  14. Festoonic

    “Long-term exposure to air pollution and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 hospitalization or death: Danish nationwide cohort study”

    Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, who has been studying the effects of air pollution on children in Mexico City since the early 1990s, has reached similar conclusions re: a whole host of other pathologies, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease:

    I met her while waiting for a bus out of Logan airport in Boston in March, where she and I were the only people I saw in the entire terminal wearing masks.

  15. tevhatch

    Some more music William And Versey Smith – When That Great Ship Went Down

    “William Smith and his wife recorded four songs for Paramount in 1927. They were either from Texas or the Carolinas. William Smith was a kind of “guitar evangelist” with a percussive guitar style and a growling voice, much like Blind Willie Johnson and other singers from this period. Judging by the songs they recorded, they mixed topical songs with religious overtones with purely religious repertoire, but they could have been singing many other styles of music, like black street singers often do. The counterpoint voice of his wife who plays also with a sort of washboard all kind of percussive effects over William’s singing and repetitive guitar riffs give the Smiths a unique and raw sound unheard since then on records.

    The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was an event that made a big impression on people’s collective mind as it was one of the first in a series of disasters in the modern world that showed the vulnerability of Man’s creation against God’s Creation, nature. Soon after the event, songs began to circulate and some were put in print on broadside papers. For many singers, the disaster was a kind of modern “tower of Babel”, God punishing man’s arrogance, especially among black singers who saw in the disaster as God’s punishments for the segregational policies of the boat’s company (Blacks were not allowed on board). The most famous folk song about the Titanic was a song usually known as “When that great ship went down”. Despite his chorus “Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down” the song was usually sang with an upbeat and joyous feeling, the ironic twist gave by the creators of the song, african-americans who were mocking white folks supremacy. Like in other folk ballads, there are key verses that helped memorize the song, for example: “…The rich would not ride with the poor..” “… the band was playing “Nearer my God to Thee”. It became with time a famous song to sing with children at camp-fires. source: old weird America”

    1. tevhatch

      This is new. I posted the above link as a reply to a comment, and the original comment went away, but the reply remains. The ways of the AI at the server farm are mysterious indeed.

      1. tegnost

        my guess is the original must have been modded, while your reply did not so I’d say not AI as the skynet would have queued it to the moderator, who apparently would have said “…um…No.”

        1. ambrit

          This is curious since I have been informed once or twice on this site that a comment in reply to a “disappeared” comment automatically went away with the original comment, ie, everything subsequent to a “disappeared” comment goes away with it.
          Has the protocol changed? ‘New and Improved’ modding algos?

  16. The Rev Kev

    “As Biden rallies for abortion rights, conservatives a mile away are pushing a 15-week national ban”

    A day late and a dollar short. The Biden regime had about seven weeks warning that the Supreme Court was going to drop the hammer on Roe Wade and did zip. When the had the House and Senate they could have acted but did not. Before Obama was elected he said that he was going to make Roe Wade rock solid against attacks by Republicans but after he was elected, said that he had other priorities. Simply put, this all suits the Democrats as it is an issue that they can always talk about and raise money off like they are doing here. In fact, it works to the Democrat’s advantage that Roe Wade never, ever comes back but becomes an aspirational target that one always ‘fights’ for.

  17. Benny Profane

    The Death of ‘Deliverism is a ridiculous piece. It almost creeps up on the basis of Trumpism, has it nicely cornered, and then dismisses that reaction by calling all MAGAS white nationalists, and uses the word authoritarianism too many times. Cmon, man!

  18. ThirtyOne

    Big dust-up in Rostov?

    According to the situation at 2-30.

    1. So far, there are no photos or videos with PMC columns in the Rostov region.
    2. There are no photos or videos of PMC Wagner in Rostov yet.
    3. State authorities continue to accuse Prigogine of attempting to rebel.
    4. Prigozhin continues to accuse Shoigu and Gerasimov of attacking the Wagner PMC camp.
    5. Rocket arrivals in Ukraine. All over Ukraine air raid alert.
    6. In Ukraine and in the United States, they are closely watching what is happening in Russia around the Wagner PMC.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and suddenly(about 45 minutes ago) all the pro russian and/or more or less neutral twitter analysts i usually look at are not able to reload.
      RT coverage is rather limited.
      Ive assumed, based on people like Big Serge’ take, that Prigozhin’s behavior…at least when he’s apparently off his meds…is some kind of deception(cant remember the russian word for this)…because its not like fsb or whomever couldn’t find him if he was a real threat.
      but who knows,lol.
      the fundamental feature of this entire war is that the water is full of mud.

    1. chris

      Yeah… I used to buy Bud to clean out kegs at least. After that horrible series of images I won’t even do that.

      The only conclusion you could reach from that commercial is that the people who buy Bud are hapless idiots and putting something together like an “Ow, My Balls!” compilation would be their Citizen Kane. Whoever made that had to be bitter from the Dylan! fiasco.

    2. griffen

      With the beginning of the summer time here in the US, and for myself on the East Coast, I am reminded of the best of “summer songs” from my youthful days. Bicycle rides with no helmet, and a 2×4 ramp on a concrete sidewalk too! Bud Light is still on the not gonna buy that list.

      Bryan Adams Summer of ’69
      The Cars Magic
      Soundgarden Black Hole Sun
      And “Practically Anything” from a Seattle band in summer 1992 to summer 1993

  19. semper loquitur

    ‘Twitter Files’ Matt Taibbi says FBI, IRS are targeting him | The Chris Hedges Report

    On March 9th, 2023, Matt Taibbi appeared before Congress regarding the revelations uncovered by the “Twitter Files,” which demonstrated the US federal government and social media companies worked together to censor information and accounts unfavorable to US interests. The same day, an IRS agent visited Taibbi’s home in New Jersey. Matt Taibbi joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the case opened against him, as well as the role of the FBI and multiple law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Foreign Influence Task Force which identified accounts and stories for censorship from Twitter.


  20. Acacia

    Anthony Leonardi points to recent data from Japan supporting his long-standing contention that SARS-Cov-2 infections lead to faster reinfections:


    “A team from Nagoya Institute of Technology and others analyzed data on the medical fee statements of about 850,000 people. The term of reinfection gradually shortened as the scale of the epidemic expanded.”

    The time to reinfection in the 7th wave is around 3.7 months.

  21. John Anthony La Pietra

    My thanks for the Midwestern Marx link, too. Much of the material in the long quote about “socialism under siege” reminds me of what the Green Party of the US has been facing in my now 20+ years of working for it.

    Part of that, I’m sure, comes from a sense that the PTB would, understandably always try to lay siege to any possible threat to their B-ing the P . . . preferably before the threat can grow beyond mere possibility. Hence strangulation ballot-access laws and rules and other institutional barriers. (Try looking up how many agencies, boards, etc. in your state are legally limited — whether openly or behind a veil or seven — to the less-small two parties, to the extent they are still two.) There are even barriers built into the need for alternative parties (better than “third”, IMO) to form institutions to get and use ballot access.

    But another part of what in the quote, and the post, struck me as familiar may be the struggle inside GPUS to keep it a party based on shared principles and values — which many Greens are, also IMO, increasingly seeing as (wait for it) socialist. Not all — after all, we’re all people of strong opinions; hard to stay in an alternative party in the US without the courage of one’s convictions — but a goodly number.

    I know there are often criticisms of Green Parties on this site — but I’d urge the commentariat not to lump GPUS in with all other Green Parties around the world on all issues. Instead, I’d invite you to find the Greens in your own neighborhood and talk some things over with us. You might even find yourself wondering if it might be a good idea for us to work together.

    And if you think so, and say so, you may well find an eager hand reaching out to you to join in the work.

  22. Mikel

    On The Dialectics of Socialism and Western Marxisms’ Purity Fetish” [Gabriel Rockhill, Midwestern Marx].

    It could be framed that way as long as nothing outside of Marxism (or “Marxist-ishness”) is condsidered to be the alternative to the current global economic order.
    Because to consider the critcisms are coming from a place that is trying go beyond the capitalist/Marxist duopoly (much like the operating dynamics of the Republican/Democrat duopoly) …that’s a whole other discussion.

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