2:00PM Water Cooler 6/27/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a bit light because I’m on the road and fighting connectivity issues. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Maidstone Park, Suffolk, New York, United States. “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


“A year since Dobbs, these are the many ways states are protecting abortion” [National Public Radio]. “In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, 14 states have banned most abortions, but even more have moved to protect abortion rights in various ways. Eleven states have passed so-called ‘shield laws,’ which can safeguard providers and patients against prosecution from other states. And at least 15 municipalities and six state governments allocated nearly $208 million to pay for contraception, abortion and support services according to data provided to NPR by the National Institute for Reproductive Health. Some states have opened new clinics and have become destinations for people seeking an abortion as new research shows just how difficult it has become to get in-person care.”

Biden Administration


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“CNN obtains audio of Trump’s 2021 meeting about military documents” [Axios]. As for the clip, I don’t think it’s new; it’s already in the indictment. This, however, is new: “The President is speaking rhetorically and also quite humorously about a very perverted individual, Anthony Weiner, who was deep inside the corrupt Clinton campaign,” [the Trump spokesperson] said.” • Huh? Weiner? Did I not get the memo on this? Commentary:

If I had a nickel for every secret that got cited to anonymous officials in the lead paragraphs of stories in the Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper and Sulzberger’s fishwrap, I’d need a bigger backyard to bury them all. Hypocrisy only equalled by hysteria.

Trump’s never gonna get the lawyers he needs if he doesn’t learn to keep his big yap shut:

But maybe going to jail is his strategy? (I confess I like “BIDDEN,” because “bidden” by whom?)

“Judge Cannon rejects DOJ request to shield identity of dozens of government witnesses in Trump docs case” [Alternet]. “Judge Cannon denied the ‘request to file 84 potential witnesses in the Trump classified docs case under seal — says the government does not explain why it is necessary and notes media coalition has moved to have it public.'” • Quoting the order:

“Republicans fear growing 2024 field clears path for Trump” [The Hill]. “Republicans are anxious that the ever-growing 2024 primary field will only help former President Trump win the nomination next year…. But while a cohort of the Republican Party is open to non-Trump alternatives in 2024, members of the GOP fear the burgeoning field could siphon off votes from his more competitive opponents, especially Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. ‘The more candidates who enter the GOP presidential fray, the better positioned Donald Trump is to win the nomination because it dilutes the non-Trump vote,’ said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.”

* * *

“Ron DeSantis says he’ll end birthright citizenship as president” [Miami Herald]. “DeSantis pledged to end ‘catch and release/ — the policy that allows migrants to be released into the U.S. while they await their asylum hearing — reimpose the so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and finish Trump’s long-promised, though still incomplete, border wall. DeSantis also said that Border Patrol agents should be able to ‘respond with force’ if they catch drug smugglers attempting to sneak into the U.S. ‘If the cartels are cutting through the border wall, trying to run product into this country, they’re going to end up stone-cold dead as a result of that bad decision,’ DeSantis said during a press conference after his rollout speech. ‘And if you do that one time, you are not going to see them mess with our wall ever again.’ DeSantis’ proposals went even further, calling for the end of birthright citizenship, in which the United States automatically grants citizenship to anyone born within its borders. That right is granted under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states: ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.’ The Constitution also says that ‘no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.’ Additionally, DeSantis said he would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to so-called ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law, and deputize state and local governments to enforce immigration law.”

“DeSantis risks place on debate stage as he avoids pledging support for 2024 GOP nominee” [The Gazette]. “Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) dodged pledging his support for whoever the eventual 2024 nominee is, a move that puts his position on the Republican 2024 debate stage in peril…. The governor then appeared to vaguely address whether or not he would support the eventual 2024 GOP nominee, without giving a straight answer. “But it’s an important process. And you know, you respect the process, and you respect the people’s decisions, how this goes, but I’m, I’m very confident that those decisions are going to be positive for us back there,” he said.” • Bafflegab indeed!


And whoops again–

“Five million dollar DeSantis veto triggers cancellation of $346 million in federal funding” [The Capitolist]. “Line item 1463A, a $24 million grant, would have been channeled to Florida under the title “Grants And Aids To Local Governments And Non-state Entities.” The money relied solely on funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act Funding and would have cost Florida nothing. The intended use for the funds was to upgrade rural wastewater motors and improve the efficiency pumping infrastructure in smaller counties across the state. An even bigger impact, though, rests in DeSantis’ veto of line item 1463B, a seemingly innocuous $5 million grant through the Federal Inflation Reduction Act, intended to set up required planning and accountability infrastructure for a larger tranche of federal cash aimed at improving energy efficiency across all 50 states. To qualify for the larger block of funds, states were expected to set up the accountability programs first. But the veto set off a chain reaction, killing off Florida’s efforts to meet the federal requirements, which in turn effectively disqualified Florida from receiving two larger federal block grants, each worth $173 million, or $346 million in all.” Or not whoops: “Politically, the move sets DeSantis up to declare that he’s refusing to accept any more federal money from the Biden Administration. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for more information about DeSantis’s reasoning for the vetoes, so it’s not clear if the governor was aware of the cascading impact of his decision. But political insiders view it as a calculated strategy meant to bolster his presidential campaign and take away a Biden Administration talking point highlighting DeSantis’s previous acceptance of federal dollars for other programs.” • Sounds like DeSantis has his presidential ambitions confused with his gubernatorial responsiblities. Hazards of the trade, I know, but $346 million lft on the table?

* * *

“Robert Kennedy Jr reveals how he’ll reform America’s global reputation – and why he is the only presidential hopeful who can beat Donald Trump” [Sky News]. “It’s being called the “Camelot Comeback” – and its main character is a controversial prince of American political royalty who’s quickly building momentum to take on Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential candidacy. Robert Francis Kennedy Junior says internal polling shows he would be the strongest candidate of any party to take on Donald Trump in next year’s election. In an exclusive interview with Sky News Australia, the Democrat hopeful said he believed the Kennedy24 campaign will win over those Trump voters who once supported Barack Obama.” Not an irrational strategy. More: “[KENNEDY:] ‘You know these aren’t people who are sort of committed to right wing ideologies. These are Americans who mainly feel absolute sense of desperation and they feel that nobody in the government is listening to them and the truth is that the government isn’t listening to them.'” • He’s not wrong, is he?


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* * *

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.

* * *

“Nancy Pelosi exercises options for $1 million of Apple stock one day before expiration” [Apple Insider]. • How nice for her.

“‘Squad’ Democrat strategizes with radical left-wing group whose members are under FBI investigation” [FOX]. “Progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., participated in a strategy call with a climate alarmist group currently under FBI investigation. Tlaib, a far-left member of the “Squad,” joined a Zoom meeting last Sunday organized by three radical environmental groups — Declare Emergency, Climate Defiance and the Climate Emergency Fund — about their future plans to disrupt climate change. ‘We are reaching climate tipping points faster than predicted,’ the call description read. ‘Fires, smoke, tornadoes, and unprecedented weather events are becoming commonplace as we experience climate breakdown. We cannot afford to wait a minute longer. Complacency is a luxury we choose to enjoy at our own peril.’ The main focus of the call was to ‘galvanize the activist community,’ [whatever that means] according to a spokesperson for the Climate Emergency Fund.” • Liberal Democrat meets with NGOs, film at 11.

“Progressives launch their own campaign to flip school board seats nationwide” [ABC]. “The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) on Friday launched the “Save Our School Boards” campaign to boost more than 200 aligned school board candidates in the upcoming cycle. The group hopes to raise $450,000 to assist with collecting signatures to get on ballots, budgeting, sustaining grassroots support and so on.” • About \forty years too late and miserably inadequate.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Prosecution vs. the presidency: Trump cases present looming legal crisis for nation” [Los Angeles Times]. “Trump’s reelection could spur court battles over his ability to pardon himself or to direct the Justice Department to dismiss charges against him in any ongoing federal cases, and over his continued vulnerability in ongoing state prosecutions. Those include cases in New York, where he has been indicted, and Georgia, where he is under investigation. If any of the cases are decided before the election, a Trump victory could spark legal battles over the terms of any convictions and whether he would still be subject to them as president. The circumstances are so unprecedented, and the law around presidential privileges so unsettled, that it is impossible to know how all of Trump’s legal and political woes will play out, experts say. But it won’t be pretty.” • Because, hitherto, things were pretty?

“The Supreme Court May Preemptively Ban a Federal Wealth Tax” [The New Republic]. I hate to run stories about things that might happen, but this would be bad: “In Moore v. United States, the justices will consider whether a provision of former President Donald Trump’s tax-reform law in 2017 violated the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows Congress to collect federal income taxes. As part of a complex restructuring of federal corporate tax laws, the 2017 law imposed a one-time ‘mandatory repatriation tax’ on American taxpayers who owned more than 10 percent of a foreign corporation. Charles and Kathleen Moore, the titular plaintiffs, owned 11 percent of an Indian farm-equipment company when the 2017 law went into effect. Thanks to the provision in question, they paid roughly $15,000 in additional taxes the following year. The Moores filed a lawsuit against the federal government and argued that the tax was unconstitutional because their partial ownership of the company did not count as ‘income’ under the Sixteenth Amendment. The lower courts rejected that argument, however, and ruled that the tax had essentially targeted years of deferred foreign income. That prompted the couple to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. While the case hinges on a tax passed by Trump and a Republican-led Congress, the petition invited the justices to use it to prevent Democrats from imposing a federal wealth tax in the future. ‘This is no idle threat,’ the Moores said in their petition for review, referring to a federal wealth tax. They cited proposals by the Biden administration and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to tax billionaires based on their assets, none of which have passed Congress. ‘There is every reason for the Court to resolve the pivotal constitutional question of realization now, when its judgment can inform lawmakers and stands to head off a major constitutional clash down the line,’ the couple told the justices. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in 2021, two of the Moores’ lawyers also declared unambiguously that the lawsuit ‘stands to slam shut the door on a federal wealth tax like the one Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to enact.’ They made a direct pitch to ‘the courts’ to hear the Moores’ case ‘now’ to make it easier to block a wealth tax in the future.”

“More than 100 U.S. political elites have family links to slavery” [Reuters]. “In researching the genealogies of America’s political elite, a Reuters examination found that a fifth of the nation’s congressmen, living presidents, Supreme Court justices and governors are direct descendants of ancestors who enslaved Black people. Among 536 members of the last sitting Congress, Reuters determined at least 100 descend from slaveholders. Of that group, more than a quarter of the Senate – 28 members – can trace their families to at least one slaveholder. Those lawmakers from the 117th session of Congress are Democrats and Republicans alike. They include some of the most influential politicians in America: Republican senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and James Lankford, and Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. In addition, President Joe Biden and every living former U.S. president – except Donald Trump – are direct descendants of slaveholders: Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and – through his white mother’s side – Barack Obama. Trump’s ancestors came to America after slavery was abolished. Two of the nine sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices – Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch – also have direct ancestors who enslaved people.”

“Ranked-choice voting could come to Oregon, if voters say yes in 2024” [Bend Bulletin]. “In November 2024, voters will decide whether to use ranked choice voting in races after January 1, 2028 for president, seats in Congress, governor, Oregon secretary of state and some others. The bill would also require the secretary of state’s office and county clerks to educate voters about the new system and allow local governments to opt in. Ranked choice voting is already used for city council elections in Corvallis and for county commissioners in Benton County. A variation of the method will also be used to elect Portland’s mayor and 12 city council members starting in 2024. In the system proposed for statewide Oregon elections, voters would mark their ballots for candidates in their order of preference. If necessary, candidates are eliminated to select one that captured more than 50% of votes cast. Advocates say the system will boost participation in elections and cut down on negative campaigning.”


“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 (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“If You Suffer from Urgent Normal Syndrome, Ask for Help” [Jessica Wildfire]:

Despite a wealth of information on these topics, many people have been engaging in what psychologists and medical researchers would consider reckless behavior that puts their health at risk and endangers their loved ones. They seem to romanticize the lives they led before the pandemic, almost relishing long commutes and countless hours spent in office buildings they once abhorred. They demonstrate an obsession with returning to “normal.”

For lack of a better term, some of us have started referring to these behaviors as urgent normal syndrome (UNS).

Urgent normal syndrome is defined by:

  • Unhealthy attraction to crowded indoor spaces.
  • Anxiety at the sight of masks or air purifiers.
  • An urge to downplay threats.
  • Avoidance of “bad news.”

[Researchers] have identified a number of unhealthy dynamics in group psychology that can make someone more vulnerable to urgent normal syndrome. First, groups can demonstrate normalcy bias that inhibits their normal fight or flight response. As Amanda Ripley has argued in Unthinkable, “large groups of people facing death act in surprising ways. Most of us become incredibly docile… Usually, we form groups and move slowly, as if sleepwalking in a nightmare.”

Researchers have shown how normalcy bias has hampered our response to the pandemic. As one article in the Journal of Community & Public Health notes, “social shaming reinforces our normalcy bias. It’s not cool to overreact.”

Collective amnesia also plays a role in urgent normal syndrome. As sociologist Alessandra Tanesini writes, “Communities often respond to traumatic events in their histories by destroying objects that would cue memories of a past they wish to forget.”

I find this helpful!


When Cochrane does a study on whether umbrellas protect you from the rain, this will be something to look for:

“Umbrellas don’t work.”

I should really file this under eliite maleficence:

An infectious disease doctor doesn’t know that Covid transmits aysymptomatically? Also, I’m not all-idpol-all-the-time, as readers know, but I do think the beefy blond-haired white dude (dis-)enlightening the smaller cowering Asians* is just a little bit much. NOTE * The location is the National University of Singapore.

“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.

* * *

Elite Maleficence


Heaped up corpses aside. Jha is “thrilled” to see ASHRAIE do what government should already have done, on his watch;

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from June 26:

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 24:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. 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.

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 26:

-1.5%. 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: 1,167,832 – 1,167,763 = 69 (69 * 365 = 25,185 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 27:

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. )

• “Monthly excess mortality across counties in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 2020 to February 2022” [Science]. “Excess mortality is the difference between expected and observed mortality in a given period and has emerged as a leading measure of the COVID-19 pandemic’s mortality impact…. We estimated all-cause excess mortality for the United States from March 2020 through February 2022 by county and month using a Bayesian hierarchical model trained on data from 2015 to 2019. An estimated 1,179,024 excess deaths occurred during the first 2 years of the pandemic (first: 634,830; second: 544,194). Overall, excess mortality decreased in large metropolitan counties but increased in nonmetropolitan counties. Despite the initial concentration of mortality in large metropolitan Northeastern counties, nonmetropolitan Southern counties had the highest cumulative relative excess mortality by July 2021. These results highlight the need for investments in rural health as the pandemic’s rural impact grows.”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured durable goods jumped 1.7% month-over-month in May 2023, following an upwardly revised 1.2% rise in April and easily beating market expectations of a 1% decline. It marks a third straight month of rising durable goods orders.”

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index in the United States increased to -7 points in June from -15 points in May of 2023.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 71 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 27 at 1:36 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Elite War on Free Thought” [Matt Taibbi, Racket News]. “I entered that story lugging old-fashioned, legalistic, American views about rights, hoping to answer maybe one or two questions. Had the FBI, for instance, ever told the company what to do in a key speech episode? If so, that would be a First Amendment violation. Big stuff! But after looking at thousands of emails and Slack chats, I first started to get a headache, then became confused. I realized the old-school Enlightenment-era protections I grew up revering were designed to counter authoritarianism as people understood the concept hundreds of years ago, back in the days of tri-cornered hats and streets lined with horse manure. What Michael and I were looking at was something new, an Internet-age approach to political control that uses brute digital force to alter reality itself. We certainly saw plenty of examples of censorship and de-platforming and government collaboration in those efforts. However, it’s clear that the idea behind the sweeping system of digital surveillance combined with thousands or even millions of subtle rewards and punishments built into the online experience, is to condition people to censor themselves. In fact, after enough time online, users will lose both the knowledge and the vocabulary they would need to even have politically dangerous thoughts. What Michael [Shellenberger] calls the Censorship-Industrial Complex is really just the institutionalization of orthodoxy, a vast, organized effort to narrow our intellectual horizons.” • Much easier to do digitally than with print.

News of the Wired

“Page Through a 19th-Century Embossed U.S. Atlas Designed with Touchable Cartography for Blind Students’ [Colossal]. “Paired with descriptions written in standard Latin script—this proved much more difficult to read than braille and never gained the popularity of its counterpart—the maps contain typical information like longitude and latitude, along with the area’s population, climate, and commerce. Solid lines denote rivers, a singular raised shoreline buttressed by parallel lines represents oceans, and clustered triangles are mountains. Printed in 1837 in an edition of 50, this version of the atlas contains just 24 states. Only four copies are known to remain.”

This is a beautiful, beautiful custom.

I just hope it’s not an urban legend. Perhaps our Italian readers can comment.

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

Stephen V writes: “Ambrit mentioned chicory recently. I’ve allowed it to volunteer in our yard but this one is almost 6 ft. high. The blue flowers are only open in the morning. I tincture the root for my old man bitters.” My favorite kind of bitter!

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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. Carolinian

    Re Camelot Comeback–does it have a “dark side” like the first Camelot? And didn’t the Camelot musical end with social disaster and a rueful King Arthur?

    A new president who doesn’t screw things up would be enough. PR we already have in abundance.

    1. Tom Doak

      Just when I thought we had escaped the Clintons and the Bushes, the Kennedys make a comeback!

      1. Benny Profane

        As President Arnold said in the Simpsons movie, Look at those angry eyes and giant teeth, it’s like Christmas at the Kennedy compound!

    2. griffen

      I have this recurring, highly cynical thought of the shirtless RFK doing an outdoor exercise routine of weight training. The tweet thread today was sorta funny, however, to point out the supposed choice of a pair of Levi jeans for the day’s efforts.

      He’s “Too Sexy” for his shirt….Right Said Fred for any early ’90s pop music mavens. One hit wonder!

  2. hunkerdown

    Implicating the war on free thought, and also symbolic capital, and also AI:

    Meta’s new AI lets people make chatbots. They’re using it for sex.

    With the usual “OMG people can make CP” slander. And here comes familyblogging PMC Karen:

    “[Marzyeh] Ghassemi, [an assistant professor of computer science at MIT], said there should be regulations governing who can modify these products, such as a certifying or credentialing process.”

    1. cnchal

      Surprise! No paywall. What does Bezos’ fish wrapper want to teach me?

      AI = nuclear weapons and only the creators are allowed to use it.

      Well, that didn’t work for nuclear weapons either. As soon as the creators finished the jawb, they were shoved aside by the psychos wanting to use their new “tool”.

      Hmmm. OK. Hey AI, how long before MR. Market wakes from his coma and looks at Amazon in horror?

      Thanks for the ‘mercurial’ link. So, the reality is that there are millions of chips in “critical” use that are guaranteed to make errors, and it’s being hidden from the public by redefining failure as mercurial. Is that assesment at all accurate?

      1. hunkerdown

        They want Congress to grant corporations a monopoly on AI, and they want everyone to believe that these national champions were somehow injured by looters. The article is a native advertisement for Meta and OpenAI, basically.

        Mercurial chips aren’t guaranteed to make errors; it’s just that each and every core on each and every chip cannot be 100% guaranteed over the lifetime of the device not to produce erroneous computations at every possible point on the process, voltage, and temperature windows of the design. It’s like getting a bad potato in your 10# potato sack: identify the problem, remove it from usage, and carry on.

        1. hunkerdown

          As to prevalence, chips made on smallish process nodes are generally rated for a certain number of on-hours at a certain voltage under certain temperature conditions (usually about 5 to 20 years at a reasonable application-specific duty cycle). From the description, mercurial effects seem to be due to the distortion or blurring of very small chip structures, and resultant weakening transistors, due to Arrhenius diffusion and/or electromigration during normal operation. Come on, we all get a little bit off as we age. :)

          (Adding, from another angle, I am happy to see a new cynical ethic forming in the comments on geek reddit: All Journalists Are Bastxrds, Don’t Talk to Journalists)

        2. scott s.

          Well, at any rate I have been using Whisper which OpenAI have released on Github under MIT license.

    2. clarky90

      Understand that “Silicon Based Artificial Life Forms” require…

      (1) Cold
      (2) Dark
      (3) Dry
      (4) Constant environmental conditions
      (5) Uninterrupted clean power supply

      Therefore, Zero (nada)….. wind, hurricane, coronal mass ejections, sudden changes in Earth’s magnetic field, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, fires….. (God Forbid, anything poetic or spiritual….)

      Silicon AI life forms “neo-exist” inside of super-computer server farms that need the unchanging, as if, buried deep in a dry cave ……(but no bats or insects allowed!)

      Au contraire, carbon based life forms (humans and our companion life) revel in weather…. or are filled with awe and trembling by the Infinite Universe…….

      AI (silicon-based) is not the same as us, the carbon-based, but is actually, a very different “entity”, with a different POV.

      IMO, another very bad idea

      There you go.

      1. hunkerdown

        The open-source research and usage smeared here is happening on people’s own private video cards and PCs, not in some data center out there. That they aren’t being “supervised” and regulated by a metastatic PMC is apparently a problem for them and their election games, but it is not a problem for us. Being turn-based games, these chatbots have no long-term memory (if desired, model state can be written to disk) or real awareness of the passage of time, so they don’t need uninterrupted power. Personally, having a very old computer, I’m more interested in the instruction-following and code-writing models, not so much the chatbots.

        Now here’s the thing: Generative AIs are going to exist because they produce useful amounts of interpretive labor power and because capital (fancies that it) has a right to exist in the style to which it is accustomed. The question is whether we will continue to have access to other, private generative capabilities at the edge (i.e. low-grade professional services and agents at our total command), or whether we will be at the mercy of the fictions and API pricing our overlords choose for us.

        Self-reproduction is an important feature of life; that term is not applicable to language models. (Some new LLMs have been trained by GPT-4, but not autonomously.) They may give the impression of life, but structurally it is obvious they are not. Don’t anthropomorphize computers; they hate that.

      2. ambrit

        The “problem” has been understood for quite a while now. Isaac Asimov had a short story back in 1955 about “siliconies” that were found out in the asteroid belt. “They” lived in precisely the conditions you suggest; cold, airless, low to non-existent parasite organisms, or Deep Space for short.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Talking_Stone
        Then there is the Horta from the Original Star Trek.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil_in_the_Dark
        A fascinating mind experiment would be to imagine evolution, this case being of silicon based “equipment,” happening at the speed of “flops.” It took a few millions of years for Terran humans to evolve to sentience. How long for computers?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Hey, ambrit. Gotta duck out somewhere but may I first wish your wonderful wife my belated best wishes for the anniversary of her 21st birthday? I hope that she had a good one.

          1. ambrit

            Hey there Rev Kev! Thank you from Phyl. The Apple Upside down Cake is all good. Eating a bit now with plain Greek yoghurt on top and a side of vanilla ice cream. (Breakfast is mutable here at the Mississippi Geezer’s Museum.) [We have another ‘rationalization’ for becoming vampires, (they only come out at night.) Heat indices this week around 110 F. I don’t know how “amfortas” is doing. His lot are in even worse shape than us.]
            Stay safe!

            1. The Rev Kev

              God that cake sounds delicious, ambrit. If it is an upside down cake where you are, would that make it a cake that would be right side up here in Oz? But 110F – gawd. Hope that it does not have the humidity to match. Meanwhile tomorrow promises to be a brisk 55F here. Not even snow to change things up. Never snow here. :(

              1. ambrit

                “… Never snow here. :(”
                Gadzooks! And you all are so close to Antarctica! Couldn’t you snag a few icebergs?
                Right side up upside down cake???
                Next you’ll be telling us that you all run deasil around the Magisterial Oak Tree on Samhain Eve.
                deasil: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deasil
                Enjoy winter! We would steal it from you all if we could. Alas, our Empire is in steep decline.

    3. Jorge

      “Is there a pornographer in the house?”
      “Outta my way, I’m a certified pornographer!”

  3. enoughisenough

    RE. the “pending coffees”

    This is wonderful, but many American chains have policies about buying homeless people food or coffee, and would not allow this.
    If you try this, make sure the business is all in on this, or they will just steal your money and not pay it forward.
    Some places don’t even allow you to buy an extra sandwich, if there is a homeless person outside. They’ll say “you’re not giving it to THEM, are you, if so, I can’t make this for you”.
    ^true story.
    Recounted by my sister in SF.

    1. Objective Ace

      Its easy to think poorly of companies who dont want homeless loitering outside, but there is a reason for this. Not all homeless people are humble quiet down on their luck folk. Some are hopped up on bath salts screaming profanities who will strike a random passerby.

      Obviosly making generalizations can be bad for society, but from an individual perpesctive it makes sense. Personally, I have been assaulted by a homeless person and try to stay on the opposite side of the street when possible and avoid interactions. I’m sure this may come off as curt, but why risk the downside to myself?

      I’m much more frustrated with the government for not providing mental and social services for the down on their luck than I am any individual business

      1. ambrit

        I have had similar experiences with homeless and or mentally unstable persons. The more recent one later had a run in with someone who had a bigger knife than the one our Patient X brandished at me earlier. Patient X ended up in the ER with multiple stab wounds.
        There is somewhat more to this ‘event’ though. Over the next week, I talked with some of the locals about the ‘event.’ Opinion was split on what “should” have happened. A sizeable segment of the admittedly unscientific focus group (N>10) suggested that Patient X should have been killed outright. There is a large segment of the public that has “discovered” their inner Heydrich.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Heydrich
        I’m beginning to suspect that the Neo-liberal Rules #1 and #2 were formulated at a second Wannsee Conference.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wannsee_Conference

      2. JBird4049

        I have heard similar excuses to not help people down on their luck; someone might be crazy and violent, or someone might be getting away with something, or nobody helped them when they needed it, so why should anyone else get that help.

        This means that nobody should ever be helped in anyway. It is also a fabulous way to keep ignoring those people who are living in such a way that they have to beg for a simple cup of coffee. Something that most people even poor ones can easily buy.

        It is amazing how our local governments cannot, actually refuse to, get organized, plan, and then implement the obvious actions needed for public housing. Singapore and Vienna manage to mostly end homelessness. Vienna has been building public housing for all classes excepted, perhaps, the wealthiest by building and maintaining affordable housing that most people want to live in. Even a city like San Francisco could build more town or row houses that one can see three or five blocks from Haight-Ashbury. If you drive on highway 101 going from San Jose to San Francisco, you will see them on the hillside on your right. (Although the ones near the Panhandle are much nicer especially with the older trees.

        Heck, almost every single town and city in the Bay Area, but no, we have to have very expensive luxury condos and gigantic McMansions. If they deign to think of the multiple tens of thousands of homeless or the many more housing challenge, most of them with jobs, they might, maybe put in a handful of designated “affordable” units, which much like our access to healthcare is a joke. Or they can build some poorly designed, poorly maintained apartment buildings away from god, public transportation, jobs, and everything else.

        However, doing so threatens the easy profits of developers and makes the NIMBYs whine, plus for whatever reason people seem to have forgotten about townhomes and having to live near other people, as in a multi class apartment building, not exactly like them is somehow bad.

        But the point of my rant is that we could have found ways to fix the housing mess if the politicians had been willing to push a little. However, each generation of increasingly corrupt politicians have only wanted to maintain the façade of stability and happiness for the twenty percent of the people who are doing well; ignoring the rot and the falling away of almost everything that made the Bay Area successful, which means that we no longer have the resources needed to maintain, forget rebuild, what was.

        The Bay Area, like the United States, still has great wealth and people of ability, but doing something besides victim blaming and managing the agreed upon façade, but even the idea of governing and solving problems is not in their mental toolbox. So we have evermore homeless, dysfunction, and general economic decay throughout the Bay. I am not up on how well San Jose is doing, but north of it from South San Francisco (The City of Industry, which it really was) all the way to edges north and east depend in part on San Francisco. It is nowhere near as important as it was, but having it doom looping itself will suck in the periphery, which is also not doing that great.

        Get rid of the once very important agricultural areas, push out the factories, destroy much of the port facilities in the Bay except Oakland’s container port, do nothing productive with much, maybe most of the land and facilities still in place when the military left, keeping making unaffordable the local universities and colleges, drive much of the remaining small businesses because everything including land is too expensive, keeping only the research, but not the manufacture, of electronics
        plus tourists stepping over sh—-, while blaming.

        Finally, keep gentrifying everything, everywhere across the entire Bay Area while blaming the working class, the poors and the homeless for their plight. It really was a nice place even forty years ago although AIDS did put a shadow on it. Too bad that it was more lucrative for the wealthy and the connected to destroy it instead of maintaining it or even make it better for everyone. If they had, they would be even wealthier than they are with no streams of urine. Maybe, just maybe, if I get serious, we can get some real reforms and improvements as the current regime really has nothing to so for most Bay Areans. That is if I can deal with the transphobia, repatriations, anti-racism, Identity is Everything dogma being used to block such changes. I can always point to the people sleeping on the streets or in their car.

        Interesting, all this over cups of coffee. Maybe, I will pay for extra cups of coffee sometime.

  4. LadyXoc

    Anthony Weiner (of sexting fame) was married to Huma Abeden, who was HRC’s right-hand woman.

    1. tevhatch

      He also was responsible for prosecuting some people in NYC who might have run in Trump’s circle. I wonder if he was in Jeffery Epstein’s black book next to Bill Clinton?

      1. hunkerdown

        I seem to remember that Weiner, too, had an especially interesting laptop with butter emails on it.

    2. marym

      Yes, this is a reference to Clinton emails that supposedly Abedin backed up on or forwarded to his laptop.

      In the indictment there’s another reference (pp. 21-22) to Clinton’s emails where Trump allegedly asks his lawyer “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here” and says the person who deleted Clinton’s emails “was great, he did a great job.”


    3. ambrit

      I seem to remember hearing various other body parts being used to describe the relationship.

  5. IM Doc

    I have never heard it referred to as “pending” – but this is the story from my youth.

    All those decades ago as a young medical student in the urban heart of one of our major cities, I had experience with this “pending” concept firsthand. I do not in any way believe this is a new phenomenon. I have no clue about its supposed Italian pedigree.

    Back in that day, and still to some degree today, the area around the medical center where I lived and worked was largely gay. The other thing that was different back then is a medical student could actually work several days a week to pay for their education ( that is simply not possible today – the tuition for all 4 years in even the cheapest public medical schools costs more than a house). There I was, in my early 20s, freshly out of the very “Protestant” rural area in which I had grown up – being a waiter in a very busy diner right in the heart of that “Babylon” ( as many of my family elders would refer to it). I worked from 5 AM till 830AM every day in the diner – the first class was at 9 – and then from 6P-10P every evening.

    And at first, I did not realize what was going on – but eventually figured it out. The largely gay men customers would add on to their bills the same amount as their meal had cost. The owner kept that money in a side ledger – for there was a constant stream of AIDS patients, many homeless, who came in every day – and that money was used for their meals. The diner never ran out of funds. Nor did it run out of paying customers – it was busy every waking moment. There was no money bucket or recognition – just extra money changing hands at the register. The giving was all on the down low – just like Jesus suggested in The Sermon on the Mount – when you give to others – do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. No virtue signaling, no bragging, no boasting. The owner and his family were deeply religious Orthodox immigrants. He made sure I understood what was going on when I figured it out, with a lively discussion of the discourse in St Luke referred to as Lazarus and the Rich Man. I have not forgotten that to this day. THEY MAY BE ANGELS. SENT TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE REALLY MADE OF.

    Despite all the grabbing, pinching and flirting and even more aggressive behavior I endured as the 20-something year old waiter for those four years, that is the first time in my life that I realized that just maybe the common good is indeed present in every one of us. And maybe just maybe — we should relish seeing good in others. That time as a waiter was actually far more important to my adult life and career than many of my medical school classes.

    1. marku52

      Beautiful. Thank you. I think a lot of rich kids would turn out a lot better if they spent a summer as a waiter, or some other low end service job.

      1. hunkerdown

        They do, and it doesn’t really help. They know it’s not their future so they treat it as a hazing ritual.

    2. flora

      Thanks much for this reminiscence from your student days.

      Something sort of similar happens in my locally owned coffee shop/ bakery/ deli.
      It’s an amazing thing. It’s an understood – well I guess it’s an unspoken community thing, I guess. (Forget the social media “influencers” blathering on about “community”… in capital letters.)

      1. flora

        and adding: “I have not forgotten that to this day. THEY MAY BE ANGELS. SENT TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE REALLY MADE OF.”

        Or as my mother often said about the sick or the destitute or anyone in need, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

    3. ambrit

      I had similar experiences as a waiter when I went to college, (I never finished, but that is another story.)
      I worked in both “high end” touristy places in the French Quarter, and some “low brow” joints in the Mid City. In general, the wealthier the customer, the cheaper they were. The real “altruistic action” happened at the low end of the socio-economic spectrum.
      As “flora” mentions just above, the sense of “community” seems to be of prime importance here.
      If I was of a cynical disposition, I would guess that some nebulous congeries of “influencers” and “thought leaders” have figured out that the best way to subvert the will of the people was to divide the people up into smaller and smaller silos.
      Stay safe out there in the high plains defensible position.

  6. t

    “It’s being called the “Camelot Comeback”

    By the RFK team. This is worse than some of Hillary’s nonsense.

    1. britzklieg

      No, it’s not.

      …which isn’t an endorsement of RFK, jr but a corrective to all the over-the-top rhetoric being mounted against him. Worse than Hillary? That’s beyond nonsense…

      And Biden has been damaging the polity for 40+ years.

      Who you gonna vote for? I know who I won’t vote for, that’s the easy part, and the list begins with Joe.

  7. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Mostly quiet start to the week– nada new in the news… however, this is kinda cool, and it should be fun to watch: where the feds can’t/won’t, it appears some states will try:

    States clamp down on freight trains, fearing derailments and federal gridlock

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Spurred on by train derailments, some states with busy crisscrossing freight railroads are pursuing their own safety remedies rather than wait for federal action amid industry opposition and questions about whether they even have the authority to make the changes.

    Legislatures in at least a dozen states have advanced measures in recent weeks, including some in states such as Minnesota that have witnessed disruptive derailments.


    “Go ahead, eat it… I dare ya.”

    Crops near Ohio border show no signs of contamination from East Palestine train derailment, Shapiro Administration says


    1. chris

      Thanks Acacia.

      Re: Dr. Jha, I have so many questions. I know the organization has to deal with thoroughly political questions, but they just put something out that disagrees with the CDC. I’m not sure how government figures feel they should take a bow over this?

      And if Dr. Jha wanted to help more with these problems, he could start by publicly advocating for Dr. Zaatari so that the people trying to bankrupt her by litigation efforts got the message that everyone knows what they’re doing.

  8. LaRuse

    COVID data trackers in VA – the graphs of cases (now called Covid-like Illnesses) are ALWAYS trending down and that has been the case since the beginning – lagging in reporting is the cause, but it makes it ALWAYS look like we are leveling off and decreasing cases, even if in fact the cases are doubling. That is why the most recent weeks are shaded in gray in all the graphs – to note the numbers aren’t finalized and then they are always revised upwards later.
    Lately, though, the graphs are all flat and the trend towards decreased numbers of cases have stopped. Hospitalization numbers, which don’t end up as frequently revised upwards are now increasing, as did deaths last week (still a tiny number, mercifully). Most VA primary schools wrapped up in the last four weeks, so I wonder if the hundreds of indoor high school graduations that took place 4-5 weeks ago are contributing factors here.
    Also, XBB2.3 is showing up in VA (in only the tiniest numbers because our data sucks and we are barely checking lineages at all anymore).

    1. Roger Blakely

      There are some sleepers on the CDC’s variant Nowcast. We shall see if EU.1.1 and FE.1.1, both at 1%, can move the needle. Everything else is XBB.

  9. nippersmom

    The PCCC endorsed Elizabeth Warren in 2020, and did not encourage anyone to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016. I’m not sure they have the same definition of “progressive” that I do.

  10. Harold

    Is there a recipe for homemade chicory bitters? They would deserve a spot in a culinary herb garden, provided one had the space. The blue flowers are beautiful, at least while they are open.

  11. Michael King

    Thank you for the Jessica Wildfire essay: a needed morale booster! Here in Vancouver, very few people are masking in indoor spaces. Canadians are generally polite but I’m noticing some sidelong glances directed my way lately and for the first time. Our household is still in 2020 mode. Masking everywhere, essential shopping/services only and no restaurants, air travel, outdoor performances etc. etc. So far, neither of us has been knowingly infected.
    Speaking of which, those in our social world who have recently caught Covid are really being nailed. No more talk of a few snifflles for two or three days and then it went away. Ten days to three weeks of serious illness (fatigue, diarrhea, fever, loss of taste/smell and so on.)

    1. kareninca

      That is very interesting about the recent cases being pretty bad. And good for you for being rational and still being careful. Imagine that, wanting to avoid three weeks of misery plus who knows what long term effects.

  12. tegnost

    “Just put a million in it and lets see how it does”

    Something the average person says never.
    I really need to do some cattle futures…

  13. LawnDart

    Re: Covid/Masking

    In March, I reported that the hospital I visited in North Shore/PMC/ wealthy-people territory was still masking: no more, except in “high-risk” areas.

    Like elsewhere, in other hospitals, maybe 1/10 still masking, and of those 90% baggy-blues.

    God bless our death-cult!

  14. JM

    My midwestern city is currently at a “Dangerous” level of 2.5 um air particles from the Canadian wildfires. Accuweather says any exposure to this air, even a few minutes, can lead to serious health effects on anyone regardless of preexisting conditions.

    In my short jaunt out I saw more people masking today than I’ve seen in a long time, but still well under half. Bus driver saw me in an Aura and said that it probably would be a good idea to wear a mask with this air and that they’ve had a lot of riders coughing.

    Hard to feel very optimistic when it seems this is the best we can do.

    1. petal

      My brother in NW Michigan posted that he can smell and taste it inside of his house. Sister near Cinci/Dayton said same thing for them there.

      1. Late Introvert

        Me too here in Eastern IA, the Corsi box and MERV 13 furnace filters help a lot.

        I was on my bike for about a minute before I remembered I had my N-95, but it was really bad. Nobody else masked, not a one.

      2. JM

        Pretty much the same here, I’ve been in a mask all day so it’s harder to notice. Definitely makes the argument for making a corsi-rosenthal (sp?) box.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Let me guess. The local authorities recommend that people keep on washing their hands with sanitizer? :)

  15. scott s.

    ““In Moore v. United States, the justices will consider whether a provision of former President Donald Trump’s tax-reform law in 2017 violated the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows Congress to collect federal income taxes.”

    No, the 16th Amendment does not “allow” Congress to collect income tax. That power has existed going back to the original “Hylton” decision in 1796. What it did was to overturn a couple of USSC decisions that said you had to look at the source of “income” to determine if the rule of uniformity or rule of apportionment applied, by declaring that the rule of uniformity would be used regardless of source. (And for the tax deniers out there, the USSC has never ruled that a tax on income from wages, professions, or emoluments was illegal or had to be apportioned.)

    The question at play here is the definition of “income”, which after all is an accounting concept. Warren and her wealth tax supporters argue that virtually everything is “income”, the only “direct tax” that has to be apportioned is a pure head or capitation tax.

    Another interesting tidbit on apportioned taxes. The concept was first debated during the debates on writing the Articles of Confederation, where they considered the taxing power in Article VIII. It was generally agreed each state would be taxed on the basis of its wealth. The problem was defining wealth. One proposal was that population would be used as a proxy for wealth. This led to disputes as the reps from southern states argued slaves weren’t as productive as freemen and shouldn’t be counted in figuring “wealth”. The northern state reps disagreed of course. The led to the compromise of “3/5ths”. In the end they decided not to use the population proxy method and instead do a real property assessment as a basis for “wealth”. That assessment method would be used under the Constitution for “direct taxes” with the apportionment again falling back on the “3/5ths” compromise. (And for those hating the income tax/IRS, under the direct tax the US was divided into assessment districts and the assessors compiled the tax rolls.)

  16. Lee

    Headline notes the obvious:

    Humans’ ancestors survived the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs, shows fossil record analysis

    1. ambrit

      Oh gloog! That assumes that the ancestors of Terran humans originally came from Terra.
      Professor Quatermass, to the courtesy phone please. Urgent.
      “Bernard? Yes? Come to London quickly. You won’t believe what we have just discovered below Hob’s End.”

      1. Pat

        ambrit, a belated happy birthday to Phyl!
        And I hope all your plans to make her day special were successful.

        1. ambrit

          Strangely enough, things worked out well. Phyl took over the apple pie project and turned it into an apple upside down cake. The sherbet was not available, (I tried three places this morning.) We had to settle for plain old vanilla. What is so problematic here is that the stores are awash in actual pineapples. But no pineapple sherbet, or any other pineapple confection. A supply chain problem? How does that work? {My sweet tooth search also highlighted the previous day’s post about greed driven retail price inflation. The prices of almost everything have risen, but some curious items have gone up a lot. Ice cream being one such. I don’t think that the wholesale prices of dairy has risen very much, so, I am forced to consider the “middle men” as ‘forcing agents’ in that particular form of retail price inflation.}
          Anyway, today seems to have been a success. Thank you for the felicitations.
          Stay very safe.

          1. petal

            ambrit, there’s no sherbet up here, either. Was talking to the guy stocking the freezer section with ice cream the other day as I was looking for sherbet, and he said they can’t get any from their distributor as they don’t have any, there isn’t any at the large chain stores, no sherbet in the whole area. Fascinating!

            1. ambrit

              Ah, I wonder if someone somewhere in a back office is gloating over how they cornered the market on sherbet? However, that would suppose that sherbet was available somewhere for a monopolistic price.
              I have not heard; “Psst! Sherbet is available, for a price! Keep it down! Quiet! You want everybody to get in on this special deal? Sheesh. I’m just trying to do you a favour!””
              We don’t feel quite so put upon now. This is a systematic problem, not just a regional supply problem.
              Stay safe!

              1. petal

                Have asked friends in SC, NY, and MI to check next time they go to the grocery store. I wish it would come back. Sherbet is my affordable ice cream option. It’s sherbet or nothing.

                1. ambrit

                  Citizen Science at it’s best. The extent and distribution of a “problem” helps us define and understand it.
                  I fondly remember Rainbow Sherbert, but Lime is my all time favourite. I remember when the Good Humor truck had real juice based popsicles. No artificial anything.
                  There was a Golden Age. I am but a sad remnant of it.
                  Stay safe!

  17. flora

    Lee Fang thread.

    New court filings show Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-VI, one the most popular Democrats on MSNBC, not only lied about her years-long fundraising from Jeffrey Epstein… she also literally worked for Epstein’s shadowy tax and political influence fixer before entering public office.



    1. petal

      Thank you, flora. Been wondering about her and Epstein and figuring something would come out sooner or later.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ““More than 100 U.S. political elites have family links to slavery””

    One should always be careful before delving into their family history. Heard of a guy who spent $2,000 uncovering it and another $5,000 covering it right back up. Of course that is a joke but…

    After America’s storm in a tea cup, Great Britain started to ship their convicts out to the new Colony in Australia. If you were a bad boy or girl there, they would ship you down to the sub-colony of Tasmania as punishment. It used to be called Van Dieman’s land but it’s reputation got so bad that they eventually changed it’s name. In recent decades it was found that the convict record were incomplete which was strange as there was never a group that had more records on them in the British Empire than convicts in Australia. Fortunately the records were duplicated elsewhere. It was found that the local ‘elites’ were going in and stealing those records as they did not want people to find out that an ancestor of theirs came to Tasmania as they were a horse-thief or a prostitute or a murderer. True story that.

    1. tevhatch

      FDR and Bush family fortunes started with opium trade, and the Ivy League schools have a lot of their trust funds build up on it. Not hard to figure out why the CIA got into the drug business even before it was called the CIA, it’s all American.

    2. flora

      Harvard? Yale? The great wealth of northern US fortunes Pre-Civil War? KKR? The great wealth of southern fortunes Pre-Civil War? (As if Pre-Civil War fortunes of both north and south weren’t aligned. Slave trade in Boston fortunes for agricultural fortunes dwon by slave workers in the south.) So, spare me some moralizing sermon.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Stephen V writes: “Ambrit mentioned chicory recently. I’ve allowed it to volunteer in our yard but this one is almost 6 ft. high. The blue flowers are only open in the morning. I tincture the root for my old man bitters.” My favorite kind of bitter!’

    Nice to see Stephen V’s cat on patrol doing its part to keep out garden pests.

    1. ambrit

      Ah. I’m going to have to grow chicory now! Tincture of chicory root. Use it in a Black Russian? That sounds interesting. I grew up in a tea drinking household. It wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans that I began drinking coffee. I only ‘discovered’ Cafe Cubano after I had come back to Miami to help Dad for a while. The Cubans on the job sites had that as a wake up early most mornings. (In Miami, you can usually find a decent coffee at the Cuban food places, large and small. Even many of the ‘Rincones” (corner stores,) have an expresso machine.)

    1. Daryl

      If you’re 69 and still benching, things are going well in my opinion. If we’re gonna be meatheads and compare — how much do Biden and Trump bench?

    1. ambrit

      What’s unintentionally ironic here also is that when I tried, twice, to view the video, all the link would do is go to the thread and then just display the Circling Doom icon.
      So, an example of Meta Irony?

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