2:00PM Water Cooler 6/30/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Hyland Lake Park Reserve, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States. A lovely chorus, with a bonus train whistle far off in the distance.

* * *


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

Biden Administration


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Biden digging for dollars in wealthy Democratic enclaves” [The Hill]. Is there another kind of Democrat enclave? “The president has fundraised in high-income ZIP codes in Chicago, Maryland, San Francisco, Connecticut and New York City just in the last month — all friendly places for Democrats. The sprint to connect with donors and bring in cash comes as the Biden campaign hopes for a strong showing in its first fundraising report, for the quarter that ends Friday. He announced his reelection bid in April. ‘First things first, he needs to secure his base [indeed!] and get the funding he needs. It makes sense to go do this in friendly territory,’ said Ivan Zapien, a former Democratic National Committee (DNC) official.” • I don’t think anybody is a “former” DNC official, just as nobody’s a former spook.

“Wall Street execs host Biden fundraisers as president closes out an end-of-quarter campaign blitz” [Associated Press]. ” President Joe Biden closed out an end-of-quarter campaign blitz Thursday with a pair of Manhattan fundraisers hosted by Wall Street power brokers, a funding push designed to put Biden on strong financial footing for a 2024 White House contest expected to set spending records…. ‘The reason I’m standing here is in large part because of you all, [indeed!]’ Biden said to a small crowd gathered in a high rise overlooking Central Park. ‘I’m not the essential man, but I represent the essential country.’… ‘I’ve been doing this for a really long time for a number of presidents and presidential candidates,’ said Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul, major Democratic donor and co-chair of Biden’s campaign. ‘I’ve never seen from top to bottom, the Democratic enterprise kick into gear this way, from President Obama, governors, senators, congressmen, just across the board — he’s gotten outstanding support.’ Aides say they are trying to motivate donors, especially small-dollar contributors, to dig deeper early on.” • I’m sure Katzenberg is correct. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Democrat electoral base — the PMC — consolidated though it is, is broad enough to bring home the win. That’s their perennial problem, and making the choir sing louder doesn’t bring new parishioners into the church.

“Republicans expand their Hunter Biden investigation by seeking an interview with the lead prosecutor” [Associated Press]. “Leaders of the Republican-controlled House Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability, and Ways and Means committees asked in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland for nine officials from the Justice Department and two from the FBI to appear for the interviews to address recent allegations made by two IRS employees who worked on the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business dealings…. The individuals named in the letter include David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware in charge of the investigation, as well Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf of Delaware and the top federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves…. The testimony from Greg Shapley and an unidentified agent detailed what they called a pattern of “slow-walking investigative steps” and delaying enforcement actions in the months before the 2020 election won by Joe Biden. It is unclear whether the conflict they describe amounts to internal disagreement about how to pursue the investigation or a pattern of interference and preferential treatment. Department policy has long warned prosecutors to take care in charging cases with potential political overtones around the time of an election, to avoid influencing the outcome.” • IIRCm that policy applies 60 to 90 days before the elections, and Shapley alleges the slow-walking took place considerably before that.

* * *

“Exclusive: Trump says aborted mutiny ‘somewhat weakened’ Putin” [Reuters]. “Former U.S. President Donald Trump, a longtime admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Thursday Putin has been ‘somewhat weakened’ by an aborted mutiny and that now is the time for the United States to try to broker a negotiated peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine. ‘I want people to stop dying over this ridiculous war,’ Trump told Reuters in a telephone interview. On Ukraine, Trump did not rule out that the Kyiv government might have to concede some territory to Russia in order to stop the war, which began with Russian forces invading Ukraine 16 months ago. He said everything would be ‘subject to negotiation’, if he were president, but that Ukrainians who have waged a vigorous fight to defend their land have ‘earned a lot of credit.’ ‘I think they would be entitled to keep much of what they’ve earned and I think that Russia likewise would agree to that. You need the right mediator, or negotiator, and we don’t have that right now,’ he said.” • Trump on territory is the story, not the Trump’s “somewhat”-ish comment on Prigo. It is true that we don’t have the right “mediator, or negotiator” but (a) the United States is not agreement-capable, as the Blob simply not implementing Trump’s directives on Syria shows, and (b) there’s no overlap in the Ukrainian and Russian positions, so there’s nothing to negotiate, no matter how skilled the negotiator. (Of course, our client might take a different view with a different master, but see point (a)).

“Trump team lobbying for primary rule changes to boost his 2024 chances” [Reuters]. “Former President Donald Trump is leveraging his connections to loyalists in key primary states to lobby for voting rules and dates that could cement his front-runner status in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, his team and sources in several states told Reuters…. Several states adopted Trump-friendly rules in 2020 to ward off competition for the then-president, and a recent change in Michigan appears to have bolstered his advantage in the race to secure delegates who determine the party’s nominee. Now the Trump campaign is advocating for modifications in half a dozen additional states, his co-campaign manager told Reuters.”

“Restore Sanity”:

This Trump ad is funny and on point (“Florida man”). As in the link above, it looks like Trump has somehow managed to improve his staffing. Now if only he could find a good lawyer!

“Special counsel Jack Smith could hit Trump with up to 45 more charges in classified documents case, report says” [New York Daily News]. “pecial counsel Jack Smith is reportedly ready to drop a hammer blow of up to 45 additional criminal charges on former President Donald Trump in the classified documents case, especially if Trump-friendly Judge Aileen Cannon looks set to thwart the case. The ex-Brooklyn prosecutor is prepared to bring additional charges in various federal jurisdictions against Trump based in part on multiple additional incriminating tapes of Trump, The Independent reported Thursday, quoting ‘people familiar with the matter.’ Prosecutors are readying what is known as a superseding indictment in part as a back-up plan in case Cannon seeks to stall or derail the case against Trump that was filed in the southern district of Florida, in which Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home is located, the paper said. The new charges could come ‘in the coming weeks.’ One likely venue for additional charges against Trump would be New Jersey because Trump allegedly kept and even showed off some of the highly classified documents to aides at his Bedminster golf resort. Smith’s team is poised to ‘stack (an) additional 30 to 45 charges’ on Trump as well as top aides based on what the paper described as fresh evidence that is not yet publicly known, including more tapes of Trump.

The report suggests Smith’s team is deeply concerned about the possibility that Cannon could act in unforeseen ways to protect Trump.” • So bringing the case in Florida was a mistake?

“Trump ‘Standing Order’ to Declassify Not Found by DOJ, Intelligence Agency” [Bloomberg]. ” A “standing order” that former President Donald Trump has claimed authorized him to instantly declassify documents removed from the Oval Office could not be found by either the Justice Department or Office of Director of National Intelligence…. While US presidents can declassify any document at will, former intelligence officials have said that such a ‘standing order’ would have to be memorialized in writing and shared with the intelligence community, specifically the Office of Director of National Intelligence, as well as the agency that classified the document in the first place. On Aug. 12, a few days after the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social, that the records taken by the FBI were ‘all declassified.’ The ‘standing order’ defense was promoted that evening on Fox News by John Solomon, a journalist who Trump designated to speak for him on the case.” • It’s always amusing to watch the intelligence community insist on the legitimacy of its actions, or rather its rule.

“The irresistible comedic value of Trump” [Financial Times]. “With Trump, the laughter is genuine. In a 2016 paper, three anthropologists from the University of Colorado Boulder and University of Texas at Austin argued it was the fact that Trump was so entertaining, above all else, that won him the Republican nomination that year. Whether Americans found his jokes amusing or offensive, the spectacle was compelling enough to keep them watching, and — crucially — to keep him in the news. Donna Goldstein, one of the paper’s co-authors, tells me that Trump is a product of the New York comedy scene he grew up around, where crude, gestural humour reigns. ‘There’s something about that ‘bodiness’ and crudeness that politics was missing before Trump,’ she says. ‘And the ability to say something real was more limited. Trump broke out of that mould.’ As Goldstein points out, Trump often gestures the end of his gags rather than saying them out loud, a trick that not only allows him to have plausible deniability — because of course he didn’t mean what you’re saying he did — but that also allows his crowd to feel like they’re clever for knowing what he intends; they’re in on the joke. Comedy is a great equaliser, which helps explain why Trump’s constant ridiculing of others is so effective in galvanising supporters: when he cracks crude or outrageous jokes, Trump is not only entertaining his fans, but also showing them that he does not consider himself morally superior, giving them a sense they are part of his special club.” • Lambert [blushing modestly] 2019*: “One tip to make reading Trump more tolerable is to hear him as a borscht belt comedian like Rodney Dangerfield or Henny Youngman.” And if any readers have spotted Trump gesturing at the end of a gag, please share! NOTE * My conclusion: “A rhetorical analysis of Trump’s letter [to Pelosi regarding impeachment] shows that he will be a formidable opponent in 2020” [lambert blushes modestly again, good call].

* * *

“Largely ignored by Congress, DeSantis woos state lawmakers to help lift his campaign” [Miami Herald]. “Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign has the formal backing of five U.S. representatives, one governor, and exactly zero U.S. senators — a grand total of six endorsements from the nation’s top elected officials. He’s also won the support of at least 259 state lawmakers. The discrepancy is no accident. As he tries to build support for his GOP primary campaign, DeSantis and his political team have undertaken a calculated and sustained effort to court the endorsement of state lawmakers, hopeful that politicians with little national profile but close ties to grassroots voters can best bolster the Florida governor’s candidacy. The strategy — one that top campaign officials say is suited to DeSantis’ background and strengths as a politician — has yielded tangible results, particularly in key early states, and especially in comparison with his lack of support from better-known federal officials who have flocked to Donald Trump’s campaign. To DeSantis officials, these state lawmakers serve as a rebuttal to the perception they’re losing the endorsement battle to Trump.”

“Exclusive: 19 North Carolina leaders endorse DeSantis for president” [North State Journal]. “Some of the top elected Republicans in North Carolina have officially thrown their endorsement behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his bid for the presidency. ‘Governor DeSantis is a principled leader, a protector of individual liberties, and the Left’s biggest nightmare,’ North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) said in a statement obtained by North State Journal. ‘He will beat Joe Biden and usher in a Great American Comeback in which parents are empowered, our streets are safe, and our economy is booming once again.’… The endorsements follow the slate of endorsements DeSantis received last week from South Carolina state legislators and the governor’s successful visit to the Tarheel State earlier this month.'”

“How a Border Photo Stunt Could End Up Costing Ron DeSantis” [Daily Beast]. “When Ron DeSantis took a trip to the Texas-Mexico border on Monday, his campaign had the good sense to take and promote a photo of the Florida governor in front of a helicopter for an image ready-made for a political ad… [But] the helicopter DeSantis posed in front of is property of the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. And experts say his use of Texas government resources for his own political purposes appears to constitute a campaign finance violation. His trip to the border is now raising legal questions about who paid for the junket and why the campaign was granted access to Texas government property to promote a political event in the first place. The questions notably apply on the Texas side as well, where state law bans the use of public resources in support of candidates for political office.” • If true, I’m not sure how much “good sense” the staff actually had. You don’t have to worry about this sort of thing at the state level. At the national level, you do.

“Chris Christie rips Ron DeSantis’ ‘ridiculous’ Jan. 6 take” [Florida Politics]. “During a CNN interview, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pilloried a response DeSantis delivered during a New Hampshire town hall earlier in the week. A high school student at the town hall asked DeSantis whether Trump ‘violated the peaceful transfer of power’ with his actions. ‘So I wasn’t anywhere near Washington that day. I have nothing to do with what happened that day,’ DeSantis responded, refusing to directly engage the question. ‘Obviously, I didn’t enjoy seeing, you know, what would happen, but we’ve got to go forward on this stuff.’ For Christie, that answer was insufficient. ‘He wasn’t anywhere near Washington. Did he have a TV? Was he alive that day? Did he see what was going on? I mean, that’s one of the most ridiculous answers I’ve heard in this race so far. You don’t have an opinion about Jan. 6 except to say I didn’t particularly enjoy what happened?’ Christie told Kaitlan Collins.'” • Wierdly, “we’ve got to go forward” isn’t idiomatic English; DeSantis means “move forward.” Or is it just me?

Astute media critique from random account:

Christie is good on TV. Certainly better than DeSantis! (Not better than Trump, but Trump is on a different level entirely.)

* * *

Pence goes all in on Ukraine:

Democrats are gonna vote for a real Democrat, not some imitation.

* * *

“RFK Jr.’s Inside Job” [Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine]. And the deck: “How a conspiracy-spewing literal Kennedy posing as a populist outsider jolted the Democratic Party.” I assume editors write the decks as well as the headlines; “spewing” is a clear signal this article is only for loyalists. That said, let’s see if arch-Clintonite Traister managed to collect any nuggets: “Kennedy — who has in other instances acknowledged that HIV causes AIDS — insisted to me over lunch, ‘There are much better candidates than HIV for what causes AIDS.'” • Well, er. New York Magazine’s editor, David Haskell, on Traister’s article: “‘There is an unmistakably Trumpian phenomenon playing out in this emerging campaign, where a candidate’s celebrity and self-styled truth-telling is seducing otherwise ‘serious’ people,’ says Editor-in-Chief David Haskell. ‘Though he does not, at the moment, pose a credible threat to Biden’s primary campaign, it would be a mistake to condescend to Kennedy’s supporters, who include some of the country’s richest and most powerful leaders in business and media. Rebecca’s subject in this article is not just Kennedy himself but the Establishment that is dangerously titillated by his rise.'” • Commentary;

“Democrats Block High Schoolers From Meeting With Marianne Williamson” [Newsweek]. “In a post on Twitter earlier this week, Williamson claimed her campaign had been rebuffed in their requests to meet with several chapters of the High School Democrats of America, claiming their members were told they ‘could not engage with any candidates other than President Biden.’ … A board member with the High School Democrats of America confirmed the decision in an email to Newsweek, saying they were mirroring policies set forward by the Democratic National Committee, of which they are affiliated. Earlier this year, the DNC indicated they would not sanction a debate between Biden and the other candidates and, at this point, is moving forward with the incumbent president as their party’s de facto nominee for president. The youth branch of their organization, board members claimed, is no different.”

* * *

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy


“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; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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: anon (2), 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

Guerilla signage:


“Opinion: The unconscionable move many hospitals are making” [CNN]. “There’s no question that masks are annoying and add to hospitals’ costs, but that in no way justifies adopting policies that could endanger the very populations health care centers are supposed to serve. Those at highest risk for severe disease and death from Covid also happen to be the ones who generally need to access health care the most. And while Covid hospitalizations and deaths may be lower, hospitals could still be risky for many since they are places where sick people congregate – and those who come there often have no option of skipping care to protect themselves, lest their health deteriorate from something else. Indeed, hospitals that are removing masking measures are applying the wrong lesson from combating Covid: Our success doesn’t mean we can get rid of all the measures that kept the vulnerable safe, but that we have identified new tools to use in maintaining health. Masks are one of them, and they don’t just help against Covid, but against other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu, for which immunocompromised groups are at high risk as well.” • I’m surprised a mainstream publication like CNN published this. After all, Hospital Infection Control whacking patients is hardly news:

“As air quality worsens due to climate change, is now the time to buy a respirator? [Toronto Star]. “As conversations about masking return, a few people [ha ha] have pointed to elastomeric respirators as an alternative to regular pandemic-style masks [I assume N95s, not “Baggy Blues”]. Jeff Brook, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, weighed in on the merits and drawbacks of using them…. While official advice has been to stay indoors when the air quality is poor, Brook emphasized that outside, ‘some sort of mask or respirator is your only line of defence.’ (He also added that there are several steps people should take to clean the air inside, such as building their own air purifier or using a ‘state-of-the-art’ portable air cleaner or HVAC system.)…. Drawing from his experience advising the government of Malaysia several years ago when the country was grappling with forest fire smoke from Indonesia, Brook noted that ‘you can take some confidence’ in knowing there is still some protection in less expensive gear as long as it fits well and is being worn when needed.”

“Masking At BKABF” [Brooklyn Art Book Fair]. “Since we experienced a high compliance rate with our mask policy, some individuals and organizations reached out with questions on how we made it happen. We thought we’d compile a bit about our goals, policies, and strategies to make a Covid-safer event! We hope this doc might help other organizations who’d like to implement similar requirements.” Very interesting. One key point: “All staff, organizers, and volunteers wore visible STAFF badges, which helped make masking requests feel very official lol.”

Covid is Airborne

A long comment from alert reader Chris, who attended the ASHRAE conference where they unveiled Standard 241. Some bullet points:

-The committee specifically addressed the CDC guidance, and told the audience that the CDCs focus on air changes per hour (ACH) was not as useful as alleged. The recommendations from ASHRAE standard 241 are almost orthogonal to what the CDC is trying to do.

-The committee believes the design concept of Equivalent Clean Air (ECA) is both more useful and more applicable to designing engineered solutions for future health crises and current facility needs. The committee also believes that cubic feet of air per minute per person is a useful metric with respect to source loading and sufficient air. The combination of ECA and CFM per person is the intended method to balance risk indoors because it addresses both the building systems and individual rooms.

-The standard permits flexibility by reducing occupancy and/or giving designer options to meet the standard. There are some spaces and applications where the ASHRAE results will match up with what the CDC recommends, but in plenty of cases it won’t.

-The General Services Administration of the US Government was at the conference and was asking questions about how to apply 241. Given their adoption of other ASHRAE guidance and standards this year, it seems likely they will adopt 241 over the CDC guidance.

-The goal of this first edition of the standard is to get this information and design guidance to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. They want this applied by small public facilities, Bodega owners, and building maintenance staff in the swankiest condos in the world.

If indeed GSA adopts ASHRAE over the recommendations of the nimrods at CDC, that’s a very big deal. Hat tip to reporting from Chris; the entire essay is worth reading in full, though I would comment here, rather than the older post. (I apologize for not linking to this earlier; snippets from NC itself just aren’t in my workflow.) More on ASHRAE:

Not all doctors, but:

At some point I should write a piece on the damage that PMC siloing has done… Why on earth are doctors and engineers not working on this problem together?

Celebrity Watch

“Tabernacle Choir calls off live radio performance as COVID, other illnesses take toll after Mexico tour” [The Salt Lake Tribune]. “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will miss its long-standing live broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” this Sunday after COVID-19 and other illnesses sidelined many of its members. Kelly Smoot, a spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in an email Thursday that a couple of choir members tested positive for the virus after arriving in Mexico City for the group’s first international trip since pre-pandemic 2019. Those performers were isolated and treated, but since returning to Utah, Smoot said, more members experienced symptoms and several have tested positive for the virus. Other members, meanwhile, are grappling with travel-related sicknesses such as gastrointestinal ailments.” • Once again, we’ve learned nothing from Skagit Valley; see below for a second example, also from a chorus.

Censorship and Propaganda

The denial is so strong:

It’s not fair to single out MAGA; I’m 100% certain similar conversations happen in the PMC. And among the vaccinated.

“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

As a society, we have learned nothing since Skagit Valley:

“Community” is entirely the wrong word, since it erases power structures. The hegemons within any given institution would rather preserve it, and their positions within it, than protect those they are putatively responsible for. Hardly a “community,” though naturally it’s more com fortable to think so. See above.

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from June 29:

Lambert here: Slight uptrend, confirmed by airport wastewater (and local wastewater samples in California). Absent a new variant to race though the dry tinder, I don’t see an oncoming debacle even with July 4 travel. But plenty of people will still get sick (again).=


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 24:

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.

From CDC June 12:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


NOT UIPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, June 28:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,168,113 – 1,168,100 = 13 (13 * 365 = 4,745 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 30:

Lambert here: Still some encouragement! Not sure why this was updated so rapidly; it used to take weeks. The little blip upward? Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, increased to 41.5 in June of 2023 from 40.4 points in May 2023, but well below market forecasts of 44. The reading marked the tenth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.”

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States rose by 0.4% over a month in May of 2023, compared to a downwardly revised 0.3% rise in April, while analysts had expected it to rise 0.3%. The growth was driven by a 0.5% increase in compensation.” • Good!

* * *

Tech: “Who killed Google Reader?” [The Verge]. “Google’s bad reputation for killing and abandoning products started with Reader and has only gotten worse over time. But the real tragedy of Reader was that it had all the signs of being something big, and Google just couldn’t see it. Desperate to play catch-up to Facebook and Twitter, the company shut down one of its most prescient projects; you can see in Reader shades of everything from Twitter to the newsletter boom to the rising social web. To executives, Google Reader may have seemed like a humble feed aggregator built on boring technology. But for users, it was a way of organizing the internet, for making sense of the web, for collecting all the things you care about no matter its location or type, and helping you make the most of it. A decade later, the people who worked on Reader still look back fondly on the project. It was a small group that built the app not because it was a flashy product or a savvy career move — it was decidedly neither — but because they loved trying to find better ways to curate and share the web. They fought through corporate politics and endless red tape just to make the thing they wanted to use. They found a way to make the web better, and all they wanted to do was keep it alive.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 29 at 1:45 PM ET.

The Gallery

I need to work on my composition:

The Jackpot

Probably too late to plant your nut trees now, but you can plan for next year:

News of the Wired

“The Radical Theology of Mr. Rogers” [Life is a Sacred Text]. “Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister whose life’s work was, I believe, built almost entirely (if not entirely) around Leviticus 19:18: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself: I am God. Hence… the neighborhood…. Rogers had a difficult childhood—he was shy, introverted, frequently stuck at home because of asthma, and bullied for his weight. He’d play with puppets to entertain himself. (Another, well, thread, that appears in his work later—his mother knitted sweaters for American soldiers fighting in Europe during the World Wars, and many of the ones he wore on camera were her work.1) He blossomed during high school, and after college wanted to go straight to seminary, but was drawn, somehow, to a new medium he found repugnant. For, he said: ‘I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.’ (There are about sixteen different lessons here about leadership, innovation, and spiritual and moral wisdom in this sentence. Reread).” • Hmm. Sixteen?

“Design Notes on the Alphabet” [XKCD]:


* * *

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 RR:

RR writes: “From a bike ride at Mohonk Preserve a couple weeks ago.” Nice S-curve! Here is one “Hudson Valley ephemeral” from the ride.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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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. Judith

    Trout Lily:


    Wildlife value

    The trout lily andrena (Andrena erythronii), a specialist bee, collects pollen only from flowers in the genus Erythronium. The seeds are distributed in part by ants. The foliage is eaten only sparingly by herbivores, possibly because its dappling serves as camouflage against the forest floor.

  2. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Maybe the four-day weekend became five– nothing hit the media, but then…

    Aiken County Council Chairman asks federal agencies to investigate May train derailment

    Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker is critical of how Norfolk Southern handled the derailment of one of its trains in the Graniteville/Vaucluse area this spring.

    “There are two primary concerns we want to convey,” Bunker wrote. “First, neither Aiken County Emergency Management, nor the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, was notified by Norfolk Southern of the accident.

    “Aiken County dispatch was also not contacted so that appropriate emergency responders could be notified of any needed response,” Bunker added.

    County government officials didn’t know about the derailment until May 25 “after the contractor hired to clean up the spill began storing the material on the side of the road near the Vaucluse Post Office and Vaucluse Pond,” according to Bunker.


    Officials: Crash debris found 50 miles downstream

    BILLINGS — State and federal officials leading the recovery and cleanup following the derailment of a train into the Yellowstone River said during a public meeting in Columbus Wednesday the effort will take several months.

    When the trestle over the river near Reed Point failed Saturday morning, 17 cars derailed, with 10 of them landing in the river. Nine of the 10 cars in the river were each carrying up to 30,000 gallons of molten sulfur or asphalt. Both the sulfur and asphalt solidified into chunks when it hit the cool water of the river, officials have said.

    During the Columbus meeting, however, not everything officials said matched what some residents said there were seeing.

    Brian Kane of Columbus said he was fishing with friends two days ago about 15 miles downstream from the Saturday derailment. One of the friends snagged something he thought was a rock.

    After some labor, he reeled in a piece of congealed asphalt that weighed about three pounds and had molded around sticks and dirt from the river.

    “Guess we won’t eat any of the fish…” Kane captioned the video.


    1. mrsyk

      Thanks for these updates. I posted a related link further down re: East Palestine which I should have left here. Not that it will change anything.

  3. Synoia

    “Who killed Google Reader?”

    Those who would gaslight or commit fraud.

    Clarity on the web is Income Adverse. With clarity one does not have to page through the dreck on the web.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Doesn’t matter who killed Google Reader because if it was still around, Google would have monetized and butchered it to the point of being useless. And the spooks would have censored it and used it for psyops as well.

    1. mrsyk

      Love that photo. It’s been here before (in comments) posted by maybe Rev Kev or ambrit, can’t remember.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Google Reader–isn’t the whole point of RSS to get away from “gate keeping”? Whereas Google is the internet gate keeper supremo. Why would they be for it?

    I use an open source RSS reader called QuiteRSS but there are many just like it. Years ago RSS was predicted to be leaving us but it’s still around. Must be useful for that to be true.

    1. hunkerdown

      Reader stayed out of your way and did just what any RSS reader should. Its user interface was simple and effective, and there were no algorithms to be seen. That’s why Google got away from it: Reader didn’t have a moat or a coin slot and there wasn’t room for one.

    2. Acacia

      Indeed, nothing less should be expected from Google.

      I also use an RSS reader, and as Carolinian says, there are lots of them.

      Maybe it’s better that Google isn’t in the loop to crapify RSS too?

  5. Kent

    I Knew some…


    In 10 years, he pledged on June 30, 2004, the worst of San Francisco’s homeless problem would be gone.
    The most seriously ill homeless people would be moved indoors, clearing downtown streets of in-your-face transients who were startling residents and tourists alike. Emergency shelters would cease to exist because nobody would need them, he said. And new arrivals to the streets would be helped immediately.
    “This is a dramatic shift,” Newsom announced as he unveiled his “Ten Year Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness.” “This won’t all happen tomorrow. But it will get done.”

    Still waiting…

    1. mrsyk

      Heh, heh, I remember on my first visit to San Francisco in 1988 being quite surprised at the large number of homeless. Don’t hold your breath.

      1. JBird4049

        Well, yes, the homeless crisis started about a decade earlier than that. So, it has been getting worse for over forty years.

        The only real change is the growth of the nonprofits.

  6. JM

    Thank you for the Fred Rogers article, I’m fairly ambivalent to the theological aspects but through his words and deeds he showed himself as a person with empathy and true love for humanity. A rare contemporary celebrity worthy of emulation.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I cried on reading the link on Mr. Rogers. Thank you Lambert.

      I doubt Mr. Rogers spent much time, with the possible exception of his schooling, dealing with topics of theology. I believe he was moved by his own feelings about what Christian teachings meant, and meant within the context of children and those like children.

      I am not sure how ‘radical’ Mr. Rogers beliefs might be. To anyone who has been with children and truly empathized with their needs, I feel that theology was not among their spiritual needs. I believe children, and the multitude of members of Humankind, need understanding, empathy, a sense of self-worth, and forgiveness for perceived shortcomings, and LOVE … feelings of being LOVED most of all.

    1. hunkerdown

      In the early part of the current Holy War against Russia, the HMS Defender made an incursion against Russian territory, on the principle HM government called ‘constructive non-recognition’.

      I think of their passionate performances as an attempt at constructing a reality in accordance with their ideals, not as an endeavor to accept what is, the latter which defeats the whole purpose of a plantation.

  7. Hepativore

    It is official…Biden’s student loan relief program is now toast.


    If Biden actually cared, he has other avenues to accomplish this, but I doubt he really does, and he probably does not want to anger the big lenders who have donated massive sums of money to him throughout his entire political career…and the fact remains that he might not even be aware there are alternatives for student loan relief like the 1965 Higher Education act, because he is simply too senile to even know what is going on most of the time…perhaps a combination of all three.

    So, Biden and the rest of the Democrats just stabbed the “youth vote” and perhaps his dwindling election chances in the back along with it. But I doubt the Democrats even are all that bothered either, as the point of the DNC is to fundraise, with winning elections a distant second.

    I am either voting Trump or third party. Trump may be an a$$hole, but at least he is honest in his a$$holery and we have a better chance of ending the Ukraine conflict with him.

    1. Acacia

      I can almost hear the coming Team Blue voter denial now: “uhh… b-but Biden really WANTED student loan relief — he really really did ! — , except that it just wasn’t possible, after all !!

  8. pjay

    – “The report suggests Smith’s team is deeply concerned about the possibility that Cannon could act in unforeseen ways to protect Trump.” • So bringing the case in Florida was a mistake?

    No problem. We’ve got cases going in NY, Georgia, perhaps NJ coming… something’s bound to stick somewhere! So Smith’s considering 45 more charges? If I understood correctly, Smith was able to bring the original 37 counts by leveling a count for each document. Maybe he could figure out how to bring a count for each *paragraph* of secret documents. “Trump charged with 8000 counts of …” Let’s keep this ball rolling!

    1. John

      I hold no brief for Trump, but isn’t Smith venue shopping or judge shopping? I shall continue to do my level best to steer clear of the federal or any other court. This and the tales of using Texas as a favored venue with favorable judges for some causes makes a mockery, if one was needed, of the very idea of justice for all, blind justice.

  9. Lunker Walleye

    “Blue Venice”: I can hear the water sloshing. The repetition of blue and white with the black gondola and smatterings of yellow are appealing. The buildings in the background and the gondolier’s rendering remind me of Cézanne’s brushwork. After doing a brief search, it seems that the Venetian Barber Poles come in many color combinations.

  10. Dalepues

    ” Wierdly, “we’ve got to go forward” isn’t idiomatic English; DeSantis means “move forward.” Or is it just me?”

    There was a piece here the other day about dialectic changes in the English spoken in the predominantly Latino communities of South Florida. Although DeSantis is of Italian descent, he could have picked up phrases that may sound slightly strange to an English speaker who is not from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, etc. In Spanish, for example, I would say “Tenemos que ir adelante”, which translates to we’ve got to go ahead, or forward. A literal translation of the English phrase using the equivalent verb move might sound strange to a Spanish speaker, since mover means to move an object physically. There are exceptions, of course, when mover is used as a reflexive verb. Btw, I am not an expert on either language.


  11. Henry Moon Pie

    RFKjr piece–

    There were times I thought I was back at DailyKos: Nader!Nader!Nader! and shut down the Diebold talk. There were some interesting insights, especially about Bobby Jr. not being a real outcast. My personal experience of that was an evening meal in Winthrop House dining hall in the fall of ’73, The Kennedy brothers had brought family friend, Peter Bogdanovich, to dinner along with Bogdanovich’s girlfriend whom you might remember had starred in the director’s breakthrough film, “The Last Picture Show.” It cause quite a stir at what was still overwhelmingly male Winthrop House.

    On the climate front, Nate Haugens interviews Kate Raworth in what was one of the more upbeat discussions I’ve heard on this topic for a while. Raworth has had success convincing several large European cities, including Barcelona, Amsterdam and Brussels, to adopt a Doughnut Economics approach to climate resilience and other problems.

    Decidedly less upbeat, in fact, downright sad, but quite moving, is a animated short from Charles Eisenstein called “The Fall.” No, it’s not about Adam and Eve.

  12. mrsyk

    Link below from the American Journal of Public Health, “East Palestine, Ohio, Railroad Derailment—Lessons to Learn, Actions to Take”. Authored by three profs from CUNY School of Public Health. Calls for a registry and points the finger at regulatory capture.

    1. LawnDart

      Pretty damning excerpt, and obviously the professors who penned it don’t get funded by the railroads!

  13. Michael Fiorillo

    Trump as Rodney Dangerfield/Henny Youngman… + sadistic game show host … + Troll Zero: voila!

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Trump ‘Standing Order’ to Declassify Not Found by DOJ, Intelligence Agency”

    What if, stay with me, what if that order actually existed – but was with all those documents that the FBI seized at Trump’s home? As that document justified all the others and now it is back with the DoJ, they could go after him for all those other documents. Sort of like a self-licking ice cream.

  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘I know the difference between a genius and a war criminal, and I know who needs to win this war in Ukraine, and it’s the people fighting for their freedom and fighting to restore their national sovereignty. There is no room in our party for apologists for Putin.’

    This sounds like something that Germany’s Robert Habeck would say. If you disagree with one of his lunatic ideas or point out that something will not work, he will accuse them of being a Putin agent. With Biden the message is clear. There will be no dissent, there is no reverse gear and if an idea blows up in your face, then double down.

  16. some guy

    . . . ” “Biden digging for dollars in wealthy Democratic enclaves” [The Hill]. Is there another kind of Democrat enclave? ” . . .

    Interesting question. Well . . . is there? Well, if we consider the reliably Democrat-voting Poor Black people of the South and other regions as “enclaves”, then yes, there is. If we re-label the Black Democrat Voter “enclaves” as “zones”, then we can say no, there isn’t. Because we have relabeled the Black Democrat Voter areas as ” zones” rather than “enclaves”.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: Trump says aborted mutiny ‘somewhat weakened’ Putin”

    How does Trump propose negotiating with Russia when Lavrov came out and said that they have zero trust in American agreements as in none at all, even if backed up by law with the stamp of the UN on it. Is there a part in Trump’s “Art of the Deal” in how to make a deal in a zero trust environment?

  18. Not Again

    “An inflation index that is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve tumbled last month to its lowest level since April 2021…”

    And yet prices keep going up. I’m sure that the Democrats would never, ever ask a government agency to lie to help them win an election. Unlesss it involved a laptop, or Hunter’s tax returns or you know, The Orange Man super secret documents.


  19. Jeremy Grimm

    Continuing the theme of masks as fashion item — does anyone know where I could purchase an inexpensive but effective voice modulator I could use while wearing my respirator mask that might help me sound more like my hero — Dark Vader? I am an old guy and my “smile” can be scary — possibly more than Dark Vader’s voice. Consider how your help to me and help others.

  20. John

    Bye bye Twitter. Give us your info or else. What with pay walls at FT, WSJ, New York Times, Washington Post, to name only the ones that come to mind, Naked Capitalism keeps shrinking for me. Even at the NY Times promotional price of $1 per week, I would go broke paying for those an other subscriptions and so many websites seem to have the nation that they are purveying pearls of great price. They are mistaken.

    1. Acacia

      Dunno about others, but Twitter is seriously crapifying the NC reading experience for me.

      With optical fibre service, most of the NC content loads within a few seconds, except for the content from Twitter (syndication.twitter.com), which lately takes between 15 and 96 seconds — over 1.5 minutes — to load (I’m getting these numbers from the JavaScript network activity console).

      As it loads in at this glacial pace, the browser naturally re-paginates, causing the page content to keep jumping around as tweets load in, which makes it impossible to read the comments for the first minute or so.

      I can’t say for sure, but it seems like Twitter became slower with the Musk takeover.

    2. Rolf

      Use https://archive.ph, enter the full link of what you need to see. Someone, at some point will have archived the page you’re looking for. I gave up paid subscriptions to NYT, Wapo, WSJ, years ago. I’m stunned at how New York Times as descended into propaganda. So much for the nation’s paper of record. The damage will not be easily undone.

      1. Acacia

        That’s a good resource, though @hunkerdown recently objected that he finds it suspicious the site has been hosted by one person in Eastern Europe who is somehow paying on the order of $1000/mo for the service (suspicious as in “honeypot” suspicious). Dunno what to think about this. When queried for alternatives, @hunkerdown suggests using browser extensions that allow changing the User-Agent to Googlebot, “on the theory nobody’s going to bounce Google.” However, I have been unable to make these extensions work.

        1. Rolf

          Interesting, thanks for the info, of this I was unaware.

          Changing user agent is straightforward. When you say you’ve been unable to get such extensions to work, what do you mean exactly?

          1. Acacia

            Sorry I wasn’t clear. I mean, I installed the User-Agent switcher, set it to Googlebot, and tried this story:


            …but the bloomberg server then blocks my request, redirecting to a “Are you a Robot?” page, “We’ve detected unusual activity from your computer network”, etc., and when I click through the article is still paywalled. I.e., it doesn’t work.

            I don’t see yet that there’s a viable extension-based alternative to archive DOT ph.

            1. hunkerdown

              It’s a cat-and-mouse game out there. Just mind your security when visiting archive.today; it can send you any script it likes as a first-party and your browser will probably run it.

  21. Acacia

    Thanks, Lambert, for hoisting the news on ASHRAE Standard 241.

    The dilemma I see is getting companies to take any of this seriously.

    Example: I continue WFH for one part-time job, and my employer has been making noises about RTO. Most all of the employees there have gone back to the office, and there have been a number of COVID cases in the workplace. When I asked if the company has any plans to measure and/or ameliorate air quality, the answer is “no” with that quiet knowing laugh (e.g., “huh? why are you even asking? you think the company should care about this? or, are you one of those mask-wearing germaphobes?”). Most people I’m dealing with don’t even know what a C-R box is, and evidently don’t care.

    The unspoken attitude is like “nothing can be done, so don’t even ask, and BTW we are all here working hard, not questioning mgmt about RTO, yeah, risking Covid, so you should come to the office and risk Covid too! After all, it’s just the flu, bro. I had it last year and it was mild. Or, do you feel that you’re so special that you shouldn’t get Covid along with us?? Izzatit??”

    So, I would love to be able to ask: “any plans to consider ASHRAE Standard 241?” but even cutting through the layers of denial seems more than I can figure out.

    1. chris

      It’s a multi-dimensional problem to be sure. Even if businesses take it seriously, what if the people they’re leasing office space from don’t? And let’s assume that they go to Standard 241 and do what needs to be done today. Under the standard they’re supposed to test and verify that it’s working as intended on a regular basis. At least once every 3 years I think (still haven’t received my copy of the standard). That’s a cost for commissioning, testing & balancing, and maintenance, that many building owners are unprepared for right now.

      But… if we want people to be safe when they are indoors, if we want people to return to working indoors in larger numbers, if we want to reduce the number of “Tis a mystery!” items that Lambert and others keep reporting on, then we have to do something. In my opinion, Standard 241 is a good step in the direction of doing something that will help with all of that.

      But let’s assume your employer doesn’t own the building and has limited rights as a tenant to what they can do, even if they have the budget to afford changes to their HVAC. What can you, an employee, do then? Well, you have some options but it requires you to get some information.

      For example, do you know where all the supply and return ducts in your work space are? Do you know where the filters for the units serving your space are and what MERV rating they are? Do you know if there is a space in the building where you could work which has better ventilation compared to your current area? are you allowed to work in a larger space or conference room on a regular basis? Do you know if your manager or building owner is supportive of having an emergency plan for infectious diseases indoors? If you can find that out, you can perhaps work with your manager to be stationed closer to a supply or receiving other accommodation. I’m not an ADA expert or a lawyer. I don’t know what legal or HR type options you may be able to use. All I can suggest is understanding how the building works better so you can protect yourself as best you can.

      You can also use that information to decide what kind of personal air cleaning device you may want to use. Depending on the type of device, and the intended airflow in the workspace, introducing a thing like a C-R box or a HEPA filter might not get you the effect you want. For example, what if the introduction of that device changes the airflow pattern in a space so that more dirty air is coming into your personal workspace inside the building/tenancy? As in, your addition of something sucking the air in and putting it back out is causing exhaled air from others inside to concentratearound your workspace?

      So, I think the place to start with is information about the space you’re being asked to return to. Ask the people who operate the building or your office HVAC systems about what other things they’re doing too. Like, are they trying to meet the ventilation requirements for IAQ in ASHRAE 62.1 or 62.2?

      There are small things that can be done to help. There are some things you can do to better understand your risks even if you don’t have much support from the landlord or the company you work for. I am hopeful that we’ll see a lot of building owners try to work through this process because in addition to improving indoor air quality, all this work was intended to save building owners and operators money. There are incentives there for people to do what’s better for their tenants.

      I wish you the best of luck and health. I’m sorry you’re being asked to return to a space that you think will make you sick.

      1. Acacia

        Thank you for all of these helpful pointers.

        Cutting to the chase:

        I am hopeful that we’ll see a lot of building owners try to work through this process because in addition to improving indoor air quality, all this work was intended to save building owners and operators money. There are incentives there for people to do what’s better for their tenants.

        Maybe I’m missing something, but I am not seeing any incentives for building owners at all. If you care to expound on this, I’d be curious to hear more. I think this is going to have to be argued —maybe tooth and nail.

        FWIW, my employer owns the building. There are no questions of tenancy whatsoever. Ergo, they are not subject to a commercial RE market in which tenants may refuse to rent space from them for not providing a safe environment. Think “slumlord” I guess?

        I don’t know about the ducts, filters, etc., and I tend to doubt that my manager would be supportive of any questions about an emergency plan for infectious diseases indoors. First, I think they won’t even understand that question, and second, any questions about this will be automatically interpreted as: “oh, whut, you expect us to spend MONEY on material improvements!? But surely you know that we have no budget whatsoever!”. This is the constant mantra: “that would be nice, but… oh.. we have no budget” which of course, translates as “we are NOT going to discuss budget with the likes of you.”

        The general attitude is just “oh, this is an imaginary problem, and we can’t be bothered with that — we are worried about real problems” and that as a part-time worker I really have no pull.

        There might be legal options, but I rather doubt management would take any of this seriously unless and until the company were slapped with a lawsuit. This raises a meta-question about whether anybody has filed and won a “hazardous workplace” lawsuit before they were injured by said hazardous workspace (and I have no legal chops to answer this question).

        Regarding a C-R box, I tend to doubt it would introduce more dirty air, because there are windows in the workspace that open to the outdoors, with plants, trees, etc. out there, so I assume(?) that just by boosting the air circulation between the office space and the outdoors, it should be an improvement.

        Asking the people who operate the building about HVAC etc. is, I think, a non-starter. I can safely predict the attitude will be that as a part-time worker it is NOT my place to even address questions to them. Management will almost certainly say “I don’t know” and before they would enter into a dialogue with those in charge of the physical plant, they would just refuse to renew my contract to make the whole issue “go away”, so as to preserve their own self-reciprocating bubble of denial.

        1. chris

          Hi Acacia, you asked a lot of questions, I will try to respond to them.

          First, with respect to C-R boxes producing more dirty air, I guess I didn’t explain that properly. It is not that they will produce more air, but that if they are placed in certain position indoors, relative to returns, they may concentrate dirty air near you. Imagine opening the drain on a bathtub, all the water goes to the drain right? Now, imagine if next to the drain, you put a pump to collect more water and put it into the drain, the rate of water going into the drain would increase right? And because the rate of water going into the drain has increased, the volume of water coming to the drain will increase. That’s what I’m talking about. By putting some of those devices into your space, you may collect more dirty air for your device to process. Thats one of the reasons ACH is not the end all be all here. If you’re changing out all the air, but you’re mixing it throughout the volume to achieve whatever ACH you’re trying to achieve, you may increase the dose to occupants in the room from a contaminant. We’ve done studies to prove exactly this in labs with hoods.

          Here’s another problem, if you work in a place with high ceilings, and the intention if the airflow in the space is to have a stratified layer above a breathable zone, and you put a C-R box in that space, you may suck the dirty air into the breathable zone and concentrate it around you. C-R boxes are great. HEPA filters are great. But if the desired outcome from using them is to increase only your clean, breathable air, then you need to be a little more selective about how you apply them in a space.

          With respect to adoption and choices and saving money…that all depends on what is adopted by your jurisdiction. If the local authority having jurisdiction decides to adopt 241 without changes, they don’t have a choice. If they are required to be code compliant, then they have to follow the standard. What usually happens with this is the state legislature or city adopts the code, with some changes, then the local jurisdictions decide how to enforce and apply it. The methods in 241 are a lot cheaper than running with 100% DOAS. Which is why I say it save owners money to use it.

        2. chris

          Ok, with respect to tenancy and code compliance, it depends on your AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) and local code enforcement. Depending on what codes your state, county, city, have adopted and implemented, your building owner may not have a choice. For example, some jurisdictions have adopted things like the International Property Mangement Code, which has requirements for what needs to be done to an existing building operated for non-resident or resident occupants. In many jurisdictions, the adoption of that code is common, and additions to it are also common. In plenty of places I’ve worked, when the owner spends 10% or more of the estimated property value, they are required to bring all the systems up to current code. In other cases, the local AHJ may require it for smaller renovations. Think about installing a new gas fuels appliance where the code official determines the flue and chimney aren’t up to code, then the owner doesn’t have much of a choice.

          I hope that you find allies and options in this. I would hope that the people operating the building want it to be safe for the tenants/occupants. Everything im talking about is to help them accomplish that goal.

      2. chris

        One more thing, the way these codes work together creates a kind of ratcheting effect. And with the GSA adopting more and more ASHRAE guidance, it will start to become the standard for the country. ASHRAE is also working with equipment manufacturers for building controls so that the minimum recommendations are programmed into the devices as defaults. Basically making a lot of what they say an “opt out” system.

        This is one of many reasons why I’m optimistic about the future.

  22. flora

    World Health Organization Pushes Sweeping Censorship Treaty
    The organization has already launched a “social listening” surveillance program powered by AI

    “…The WHO has already started a similar surveillance system to track so-called “misinformation” online. The WHO’s Early Artificial Intelligence–supported Response with Social Listening (EARS) program uses AI to monitor trends on social media.”


    The EARS program? Orwell would be laughing.

    1. Acacia

      But of course! Methinks this is just the warm-up. Expect “Narrative Enforcement Bots” (NEBs) that use this “social listening” tech to identify and profile those who question the WHO policies, followed by AI-driven trolling, and automated reporting to service providers, to request censoring, banning, deplatforming, etc., of millions of people the AI deems to be ‘malignant evildoers’.

      Life imitates art. Cue that early Trek episode, The Return of the Archons, in which an AI attacked and killed all those who were not “of the body”.

  23. Pat

    Perhaps DeSantis should have gone with an Obama goody…” January 6th, we need to look forward not back. “

  24. chris

    Currently in Paris at the moment, so perhaps an update from walking around as a foreigner would be appreciated. I’m in the nicer parts of the city, doing touristy stuff, and I can say that the city is gorgeous and I haven’t seen any evidence of riots or what I would consider abnormal activity for a large world city. That being said, there are a number of Americans staying at the same hotel with me and they have heard about the riots and are scared. I was hanging out at the bar last night and heard someone say that they saw a garbage truck on fire. Of course, they can happen because of any number of reasons but it makes one wonder. I’ve seen a lot of recent graffiti with things like “Justice + Nahel” sprayed on walls.

    The part of the city I’m staying in is on the western fringe, near Notre Dame and other big attractions. I’m walking around and taking in the sights. I’m covering between 5 – 8 miles in a radius around the hotel each day, and taking bike tours in and around the city. It is entirely possible that the management of this whole city is such that the elite playground effect they’re trying to implement in NYC is already well entrenched. Because I can count the number of homeless and beggars that I’ve seen over the last 3 days on both hands. The few tent encampments I saw when cruising around the Seine were immaculate compared to what I’ve seen in the US. I know the French have problems like we do. I know there are ghettos and hard areas in Paris. I know there is crime. But in what feels like a large part of the city it is not visible. Neither are the riots that have been reported all over. I’m going to do sight seeing in Versailles tonight. Maybe it will be different there.

    For what it’s worth, I’m out and about and doing things in the world because over the last 3 years I’ve learned I don’t know how much time I have left. Just this past 8 months I’ve lost family, friends, dear colleagues, and acquaintances. Some died because of COVID. Some died because of rapid onset blood cancer. Some died because of old age. I read what’s posted on sites like NC and I read the comments from posters like Amfortas. I decided it’s better to take the risks and have an adventure with my wife before something else happens to either of us. This trip is something we’ve talked about since we were two teenagers and I’d hate to miss seeing all this with her while we’re both alive and able to enjoy it.

    I hope others on NC are able to go on adventures too.

    1. petal

      So glad you were able to go on your trip, Chris! A friend, wife and 2 kids are visiting Paris right now, too. They haven’t said anything about the riots or any other issues, but I think they are staying towards the touristy stuff like nicer restaurants, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, etc. Not sure which hotel they are at but it is probably one of the nicer ones.

    2. Bugs

      My reply got lost in moderation. If you want to see more of gritty and real Paris head up to Porte de Clignancourt and walk back down to the Barbès metro and along the elevated line to Stalingrad then you’ll be at the Canal St Martin where it’s posh again. You could also go to Parc de la Villette where normal lower middle class families do stuff on the weekend. I love rue Cail for the very good South Indian restaurants. A walk through Gare du Nord can also be edifying.

    3. salty dawg

      I’m glad to read you’re out enjoying life and having adventures that you’ve dreamed of for a long time. You’re absolutely right about not knowing how long one has.

      I’m enjoying life in rural Guatemala at the moment. The wife of a guy who helps me with maintenance on my boat almost lost his wife last week, when a bus (a pickup truck with rails in the back that people ride standing up) and her motorcycle collided (no one wears helmets here). Fortunately it is looking like she will eventually recover fully from the head and rib injuries, but it is a reminder that one never knows how much time one has, so it’s important to enjoy life while you can. Glad that you’re doing that.

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