2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Vinaceous Dove, Tujereng, Western, Gambia. “A bird giving three bursts of calls, the third one at a faster pace.”

* * *


“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

Sauce for the goose:

So where’s the responsibility for disinformation on aerosols? On masks? On non-pharmaceutical interventions? On a vax-only strategy?


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“EXCLUSIVE: Trump captured on tape talking about classified document he kept after leaving the White House” [CNN]. “Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything. The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said. CNN has not listened to the recording, but multiple sources described it.” • Ten to one they’re all spooks, and spooks from the same faction, so doesn’t that make them one source, not ten?

“Why Some Republican Candidates Might Not Make The Debate Stage” [FiveThirtyEight]. “To make the debate, the RNC will require candidates to meet four separate requirements. First, a contender must be a declared candidate who has filed with the Federal Election Commission.1 Second, a candidate must have earned 1 percent support in three national polls, or in two national polls and at least one poll of the GOP’s first four states, recognized by the RNC and conducted in July and August. Third, a candidate must have at least 40,000 unique contributors to their presidential campaign committee, with at least 200 from 20 states and/or territories. And lastly, a candidate must sign three documents: a pledge to support the GOP’s eventual nominee, a data-sharing agreement with the RNC and a pledge to not participate in any debates not sanctioned by the RNC…. So given these requirements, who would make the stage if the debate were held today? Currently, six candidates are at 1 percent or higher in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average: former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence (expected to announce his candidacy on June 7), former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. ”

“GOP candidates’ $1 T-shirt tactic: Clever fundraising ploy or desperate debate-stage bid?” [Politico]. “Perry Johnson is hawking a T-shirt on Facebook with the words “I stand with Tucker,” and a vague artistic likeness of former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The price? $1. The Michigan businessman and longshot GOP presidential candidate is taking a loss on the deal. But that $1 has more than a dollar in value for candidates who, like Johnson, are engaged in a mad dash for new donors they’ll need to qualify for upcoming debates under the Republican National Committee’s new criteria. Under the new rules, candidates will be required to have at least 40,000 donors to make the Aug. 23 debate stage, including at least 200 from 20 distinct states. They will also have to garner at least 1 percent in three qualifying polls, two of them national, after July 1. And they must commit to supporting the eventual Republican nominee. Fundraising schemes where campaigns offer free shirts, books or other items in exchange for even the smallest donations can be expensive in the short-term, as campaigns spend heavily on merchandise and digital advertising. The minuscule donations hardly cover their costs. But the contributions afford longshot candidates the chance to appear on the debate stage alongside frontrunners including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis later this summer — an opportunity they can’t put a price tag on.” • Ducking stools, entartisme

* * *

Russell Brand has a million followers on Rumble and more on YouTube:

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.

* * *

The Night of the Long Knives:

This was the day Sanders won CA (IIRC on the Hispanic vote). But if Sanders had won TX, on the same day, that phone call would have been a much heavier lift for Obama. And to this day, I’ve never seen any analysis on why Sanders lost TX (though he won the Hispanic border counties). Readers, if any of you have, please leave the source in comments.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Who is Virginia Moseley? CNN executive is Zucker-era veteran, married to Democratic power player” [FOX]. “Thomas Nides, the husband of CNN’s executive vice president of editorial Virginia Moseley, was nominated by President Biden to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel in 2021, setting off concerns within CNN at the time of a possible conflict of interest. Moseley was named part of an interim leadership squad on Wednesday who hopes to bring stability to CNN after the firing of CEO Chris Licht, who lasted barely a year on the job.”


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort.

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“UConn Indoor Air Quality Initiative” [University of Connecticut]. “UConn Schools of Education, Engineering, Nursing, Medicine and UConn Health are connecting our communities to low-cost, accessible public health interventions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.” • Good!

* * *

Now if somebody from the gaming industry or the insurance industry really wants to be a helper….

… they could throw something over the transom. Readers?

Covid Is Airborne

“Comparing the Performance of Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes Made with Box Fans and PC Fans” [Texas Air Filters]. “All DIY air cleaners outperformed the commercial HEPA. This is not a surprise. We have seen the same thing in all of our head-to-head comparisons. At last count there are 13 other peer-reviewed studies that have found the same thing. How can air cleaners using MERV 13 filters that are 50% effective on particles less than 1 um do better at removing sub-micron sized particles than a HEPA filter that is 99.97% efficient on these same particles? The answer is that filter effectiveness is not determined just by filter efficiency. It is the combination of the filter and the flow through the filter that gives the full picture.mSo how did the PC Fan Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes compare to the original design on filter effectiveness? The design using 6 fans and a “cube” of 4 filters had virtually the same results as the original.mThe design using 6 fans and 2 filters was less effective. Probably a couple of things contributed to this. First, the direction of flow from the air cleaner could reduce mixing in the space. (Of course, I am partial to the upward flow design.) Secondly, the available filter media area was about half of the original. This would cause higher resistance and lower air flow. However, the smaller footprint has some distinct advantages and may be more useful in many situations. In my opinion, the Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes using PC fans work effectively. Kudos and many thanks to the creators. I can’t wait to see what is next.”

“The Best Air Purifier” [New York Times]. “After nine years, during which we’ve tested more than 50 different air purifiers, we believe that the exceptional Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty is the best among them—as we have since 2015. That said, as strong as the Mighty is, its performance is not as singular as it once was, and in recent years many other air purifiers have closely approached our high standards. If you prefer the looks, cost, or other features of our also-great picks, know that they match this Coway model in purifying performance.” • The Times means the best commercial air purifiers. As we see about, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes outperform them.

A very good thread on aircraft ventilation, which is not hospital grade, not even close:

Banning Aranet4 meters in the Australian school system:

More lawsuits. I hope.


There’s been considerable dunking by maskers on anti-maskers given Canadian wildfire smoke which I am here for, so I’m just going to go ahead and let ‘er rip:

If you’re a control in the parachute study, this one’s for you:

But wait! Is that… Is that… He seems to be waving something…. It reads… “Great Barrington Declaration!” Vinay Prasad is coming off the bench!

Mad props to Vinay for his commitment to the bit.

And who could forget:

* * *

“Watch a Traditional Japanese Noh Mask Being Made” [Kottke.org].

Why shouldn’t a mask be an object of beauty? Instead of a medical device?


“Sleep disorders of post-COVID-19 conditions” [Sleep and Breathing]. “Symptoms related to sleep disorders are common sequelae of COVID-19. Through the analysis of data in the literature, we have a preliminary understanding of the prevalence of post-COVID-19 sleep problems. An online survey (including 3726 participants from 56 countries) showed that the prevalence of sleep disorders during follow-up over 7 months reached 78.6%, including insomnia (60%), night sweats (41%), awakening feeling unable to breathe (36%), restless legs (18%), and sleep apnea (10%) [1]. In a registry study of 236,379 COVID-19 survivors, about one-third of them received a neuropsychiatric diagnosis (such as stroke, dementia, insomnia, anxiety, and emotional disorders) within 6 months of the first symptoms of COVID-19, which is 44% higher than reported for influenza survivors [2]. Due to the complexity and diversity of [post-COVID-19 condition (PCC)] symptoms, there is currently no clear pathophysiological explanation of its causes.” “PCC, eh?” DHSS: “Post-COVID-19 Conditions (PCC) [was] conceptually first described by CDC in November 2020 and first labeled PCC in February 2021… In addition to Long COVID and PCC, an additional term had emerged in parallel and is in general usage in the United States: Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). While Long COVID is largely a lay term, PCC and PASC are two scientific technical terms. PCC covers a wide range of health consequences that are due to all effects of COVID-19, including secondary and tertiary effects. PASC refers to the direct and indirect consequences of SARS-CoV-2 on human health.” • PCC v. PASC as mud, to me. Can readers assists?

* * *

Elite Maleficence

“CDC to Streamline Hospital COVID-19 Data Reporting Requirements” [American Hospital Association]. Here is the “streamlining:”

  • Number of Data Elements. The CDC will reduce the number of data elements that hospitals must report from 62 to 44. Specifically, CDC will make the following data fields optional for federal reporting:
    • Total hospitalized pediatric suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients
    • Hospitalized and ventilated COVID-19 patients (patients currently hospitalized in an adult, pediatric or neonatal inpatient bed who have suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and are on a mechanical ventilator)
    • Total ICU adult suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients
    • Hospital onset (total current inpatients with onset of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 14 or more days after admission for a condition other than COVID-19)
    • Previous day’s adult admissions with suspected COVID-19 and breakdown by age bracket
    • Previous day’s pediatric admissions with suspected COVID-19
    • Previous day’s total ED visits
    • Previous day’s total COVID-19-related ED visits
  • Frequency of Reporting. Under current guidance, hospitals are required to report most COVID-19 data elements on a daily basis, with some elements being reported once per week. Under the forthcoming guidance, all required data fields will be reported on a once weekly basis. Hospitals will report values for each day of the previous week, with the week defined as Sunday-Saturday. For example, hospitals by the end of the day on Tuesday, April 18 would report data from the week of Sunday, April 9-Saturday, April 15.

The CDC’s announcement also indicates that the enforcement period for compliance with reporting requirements will be lengthened from 14 days to 28 days. The agency indicates additional details on the new compliance process are forthcoming.

Reminds me of the Wansee Conference, though of course not at the policy level. CDC and the AHA together eliminated from hospital data, itself a lagging indicator after case data, already eliminated, everything you would need to know make a “personal risk assessment.

Australasian COVID-19 Conference 27 – 28 July 2023:

From the FAQ:

This conference only offers the option to register and attend face to face.

So, no virtual option. And I can’t find anything about either ventilation or masking. And then there’s this:

We acknowledge that ASHM offices are located on the land of the Gadigal peoples of the Eora Nation (Sydney Office) and the Turrbal and Jagera/Yuggera peoples (Brisbane Office) who are the Traditional Owners of the lands where both offices are situated. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

So ASHM — Australasian Society for HIV Medicine — has designed a conference that any immunocompromised person would be daft to attend, all the while acknowleding aboriginal land claims. It’s good to know that liberal performativity has international scope!

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from June 5:

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.

• It would be irresponsible not to speculate:


NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 27, 2023:

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

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 3:

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 UDPATED From Walgreens, June 5:

0.4%. Frequency down to once a week.


Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 5:

Lambert here: I’m happy the numbers are down, but zero they cannot be. Looks 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: 1,166,331 – 1,166,160 = 171 (171 * 365 = 62,415 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 4:

Lambert here: Actually some encouragement!

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped to 261K in the week ended June 3rd 2023 which included Labour Day holiday [???], the highest figure since October 2021, and above market forecasts of 235K. Figures for the previous week were revised slightly higher to 233K from an initial 232K. It marks a third consecutive week of increases in the number of initial jobless claims, a sign the labor market strength may be fading. ”

* * *

Manufacturing: “Boeing finds another quality problem on 787, delaying deliveries again” [Seattle Times]. “Boeing said Tuesday it has discovered yet another manufacturing quality flaw on the 787 Dreamliner — this time in an attachment fitting on the horizontal tail, referred to as the stabilizer — that will delay deliveries of the jet as mechanics work to fix the defect. ‘We are inspecting 787s in our inventory for a nonconforming condition related to a fitting on the horizontal stabilizer,’ Boeing said in a statement. ‘The inspections and required rework will affect timing of near-term 787 deliveries.’ The statement added that the defect in the tail is ‘not an immediate safety of flight issue and the in-service fleet may continue to operate.’ It’s the latest in a long and very expensive litany of 787 quality woes…. The defect is a small, paper-thin gap in the attachment, Boeing said. Such gaps are typically plugged using a filler known as a shim. The shims in the attachment were incorrectly sized so that the gap exceeded the five-thousandths of an inch allowable in the specification.” • I keep hearing the word “shim” associated with Boeing manufacturing. It reminds me of another word: kludge. An alert reader threw this over the transom:

Assembled in SC. My son tells me every damn last one of ’em has to be taken to Everett for rework. Honest to Pete. The stories I’ve heard from my husband’s uncle (89) who did 36 years at Boeing as an Engineer and my son’s recent two-stint experience working at the Fredrickson Plant right here near Tacoma, then training in Everett, then another stint in Renton. Then a couple my husband and I met. A couple in the 5th wheel next to us, the husband retired after 30+ years. Lots of parts coming in bad, the whole financialization. He directly saw, felt knew the impacts. This plane company is a manufacturing shit-show. David Calhoun needs a required unpaid two year internship working on the line in Renton.

The Bezzle: “Digital Media Is a Wasteland” [John DeVore, Humungus]. “[W]hat I know about the modern American economy is this: it’s bubbles all the way down…. You can’t eat integrity, you know?… I just wish truth and justice were profitable.”

Tech: “AI Prompt Engineering Isn’t the Future” [Harvard Business Review]. “Prompt engineering has taken the generative AI world by storm. The job, which entails optimizing textual input to effectively communicate with large language models, has been hailed by World Economic Forum as the number one ‘job of the future’ while Open AI CEO Sam Altman characterized it as an ‘amazingly high-leveraged skill.’ Social media brims with a new wave of influencers showcasing ‘magic prompts’ and pledging amazing outcomes. However, despite the buzz surrounding it, the prominence of prompt engineering may be fleeting for several reasons. First, future generations of AI systems will get more intuitive and adept at understanding natural language, reducing the need for meticulously engineered prompts. Second, new AI language models like GPT4 already show great promise in crafting prompts — AI itself is on the verge of rendering prompt engineering obsolete. Lastly, the efficacy of prompts is contingent upon the specific algorithm, limiting their utility across diverse AI models and versions.” • Whatever prompt engineering is, it’s not engineering, any more than cargo cults are engineering.

Tech: First (!) ChatGPT Easter Egg:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 6 at 1:39 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“Bank of Canada hikes another 25 basis points, bringing policy rate to 4.75%” [Yahoo Finance]. “The increase brings the central bank’s target for the overnight rate to 4.75 per cent, the highest level since May 2001, and restarts its tightening campaign as policymakers continues to try to tame inflation. The central bank came off the sidelines on Wednesday after several indicators showed unexpected resilience in the Canadian economy in recent weeks.” • Came off the sidelines to do what? Screw working people? What kind of metaphor is that? Besides dead.

News of the Wired

“The Oldest Maps in the World” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. “Perhaps the best-known ancient map is carved on a flat rock in the Italian Alps near the tiny city of Pescarzo. This inscribed drawing is part of a field of petroglyphs, now part of an archaeological park, where early humans spent a lot of time scratching out scenes on rocks. This one, called the Bedolina map, is of interest because it seems to be covered in images of what surely are houses, roads, fields presumably for growing, and topographical features such as streams. Superimposed on what is surely a map are some armed figures, a few animals, and one little house. This rock is thirty feet long and thirteen feet wide and dates from about 1000 bc. Scholar Christina Turconi also believes that the Beldonia map might be more than just a simple map. She acknowledges that it was carved at a time when personal property was becoming the norm and a map of a city might therefore be important, but Turconi also feels that this rock art had mystical or religious meaning and that the scene was also carved to protect the people who drew it. Unfortunately, no one knows the mindset of the artists and cartographers making these early maps. Were these individuals simply recording some moment in time, and, if so, can we speculate why? Were they intended as mnemonic devices, to aid the creator in finding their way back or to a particular place once more? Or were they trying to communicate with others using graphics, perhaps telling a story, or giving instructions? It’s also possible that some early humans were regularly drawing maps on surfaces that haven’t survived, such as sand and dirt. These people were used to migration, following animals to kill and eat them, and mapping out a territory in their heads as they tracked the ripeness of fruits and other vegetation, and they may have made maps on temporary surfaces that have left no trace. Those ancient humans who might have scratched directions in the sand or carved lines on wood were the first to practice the art of symbolic representation in the form of a map. From that point on, our ancestors all over the world scratched marks on walls and rocks, dipped their fingers into pigments, and gorged bones, shells, and horns to make marks of where they lived or where they were going.”

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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. Henry Moon Pie

    There’s one guy that Russel Brand can’t out-talk. Dr. West lays it all out there non-stop. I’m glad his voice is going to be part of this. He knows where he’s coming from.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Henry Moon Pie: Unfortunately, the comments to the tweet by Cornel West tend to be puritanical ideological melodrama. Killing the messenger, Russel Brand, is the order of the day there.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A holiness sect with their Ukraine flags flying. The Obama worship at DK was the same. Gangs of inquisitors descended on diaries to stamp out heresies.

      2. Louiedog14

        My apologies, but I am rather old and slow moving at this point, so I really do need to know whether Russ Brand is an honest to goodness Progressive or if he’s the Orange Man’s high thread count hand towel….Because God Forbid! we should actually listen to the words coming out of Cornel West’s mouth and decide whether or not we might actually learn something from them.

      3. notabanker

        Yeah but…. CNN hit an all time low of 335,000 prime time viewers just a couple of weeks ago. Trump TH boosted that to circa 3.5M. Fox and MSNBC regularly draw in the 1-1.4M viewers

        Brand has 6.4M subscribers to his YT channel.

        Tucker Carlson drew 65 million views to his last episode.

        The gig is really up for these MSM media companies. They can continue to milk big pharma and my pillow for ad dollars, but no one is watching them.

        Twitter is even worse, the lib blue army of whatever, 100, 1000, 5000, can try and drown out the tweets, but the vast majority aren’t listening. Esp after the twitter files release.

        I realize it is important to know what they are pumping out for propaganda, but part of me wonders if covering the MSM and giving them mindspace here is really worth the squeeze. We are really just listening to an echo chamber.

        1. griffen

          I’ve occasionally tuned into Brand replays on the YT, he is interesting to listen to. By the bye, remarking about CNN hits an all time low, I had a satirical thought conjuring the scene from RoadHouse.

          Double Deuce, at closing time.
          Owner: “Well it was a good night, and nobody died.”
          Dalton. “It’ll get worse before it gets better.”

        2. Luckless Pedestrian

          I think in the context of Twitter “views” means the number of people who saw the tweet, not how many people who started or watched the embedded video. Inflation is everywhere, it seems.

        3. Wukchumni

          I grew up with the LA Times and it taught me to read between the lines, and often the lead story was buried on page 9.

          They just let 74 newsroom staff go the way of the Dodo, which will be the fisgwrap’s fate also soon. They bring nothing to the table.

          1. Acacia

            Replaced them with “A.I.”…?

            Also, regarding viewers/subscribers/views, adding to what @LP points out above, my impression is that none of these stats really measure engagement well.

            Does “X million TV viewers” mean that all X million were really sitting and watching the screen, or just that the TV was turned on while they were cooking, washing, walking around the house, etc.? Similarly, YT channel subscribers means those people got a blurt about new content, but whether they clicked through to watch, and whether they watched the whole video is something else. Some platforms (e.g., Vimeo) can give more detailed stats concerning how many people watched which parts of a video. AFAIK, we’re not getting that granularity of info for legacy and social media.

    2. Corky

      Brand has given a lot of COVID minimizers like Dr Campbell and Brownstone Institute’s Laura Dobson a lot of time to spew nonsense but I don’t think he has talked to anybody with a realistic idea of the danger the virus presents.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Many such cases in the altstream media in the past 3.5 years. The biggest possible test they could have faced and they failed miserably due to their vacuous, fundamentally unintelligent cynicism, and inane contrarianism-for-the-sake of it, proving themselves every bit as compromised and worthless as the ~MSM~ in the final reckoning (Campbell alone is an incredible case study of the audience capture phenomenon at work, by the way). a truly miserable state of affairs, but some people have media addictions they just have to feed, whether it’s via their cable subscription or their internet plan.

  2. Carolinian

    Re Boeing in South Carolina–we’re sorree. Still, if it’s

    parts coming in bad

    perhaps it can’t all be blamed on my fellow Carolinians.

    1. griffen

      Horrible. management is a plague. Just look at Boeing, and secondarily at Intel. Goodness the level of executive and management ineptitude is absolutely shocking. They all need to attend remedial school on how this country used to be able to build the best quality of anything. Managers on earth making decisions based on a grid, to borrow a quote from Aliens.

      Board room scenarios might play out this way….instead of Ripley it would be engineers explaining to a highly compensated CEO why the sh&t don’t work or the chip sales at Intel suck.


      1. Tony Wikrent

        The problem is the fixation on cost benefit analysis and economic “efficiency.” And it’s not just MBAs, it’s the entire ruling class. The element crowded out by cost benefit analysis and the drive for economic “efficiency” (with the only metric now left being number of dollars) is the public virtue axiom of civic republicanism’s principle of advancing the general welfare.

    2. marku52

      Boeing just gotta love their non-union site. No matter what their crap quality costs, over, and over, and over……

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is the strange thing about Boeing. The bean-counters have taken over but surely they can work out that it is cheaper to build a plane right the first time rather than it having to be returned for rework. There has to be a point when it becomes too expensive to do all those rework jobs and I wonder, by the way, if those rework jobs are done in Seattle rather than South Carolina.

        1. Acacia

          That’s sure what it sounds like:

          Assembled in SC. My son tells me every damn last one of ’em has to be taken to Everett for rework.

          I assume it’s just one section of the airplane… unless they flying the whole “needs rework” plane to WA with a skeleton crew.. ?

          1. Carolinian

            I think he meant they fly them to Seattle for reworking. Of course Boeing union members and ex members may not be strictly objective on the matter. My reading on the company says it’s the loss of the meticulous Boeing engineering culture that is the issue more than the work force although there was certainly no reason to open a factory in SC other than to screw the union.

            Our gal Nikki got a board seat out of it until she didn’t.

            1. Rod

              Our (SC) Tech College Skills Training is not Equivalent to the Apprenticeship and Continuing Education attached to that Apprenticeship.
              Our HS Graduates May not have developed those ‘Job Ready Mindsets’ when they were in HS.
              Our State needs to examine and acknowledge that.

  3. antidlc

    RE: “Now if somebody from the gaming industry or the insurance industry really wants to be a helper….”

    I clicked on the twitter feed for Diesel Bug (life finds a way) and found this retweet:

    Dr David Berger, aBsuRdiSTe cROnickLeR
    SARS-COV-2 fuses brain cells, which may be the cause of the neurological malfunctions of long covid. But obviously let’s keep pursuing the repeated mass infection of the population, because that makes total sense.

    I feel like I’m in some weird, acid-fuelled dream.

    Followed by a tweet by 9 News Sydney with a video:

  4. tevhatch

    Oh my, what friends will do for one another. 1967 – The Israeli Air Force attacked the U.S. Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 and wounding 171.

    1. Arizona Slim

      A former neighbor was in the Navy with people who’d served on the USS Liberty. Suffice it to say that they felt let down by the US government response to this attack.

      1. Lee

        Good friend of mine served in naval intelligence back then and lost friends in that attack.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Not so much let down as threatened with a court martial and imprisonment if they dared talk about that attack with anybody else. Come to think of it, that is what happened to the Japanese survivors from the Battle of Midway when they got back to Japan.

  5. wedge

    RE: TX votes for Sanders in 2020 primary

    Can’t find any sources now, but there were reports, on the days following, of long lines in precincts known to have likely Sanders voters (e.g., schools, colleges). Who knows how many decided not to wait and vote?

    The voters in the southern border counties going heavy for Sanders were a pleasant surprise, but they seem to be fed up with mainstream candidates in both parties. Trump did well down there as well in the general election.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Yep! It was an all out voter suppression effort. I remember well because I actually did that “Pizza To The Polls” thing where you could buy pizza/water for people who were waiting in line forever. The hashtag #StayInLine trended on Twitter deep into the night and I recall the last vote in Texas was cast as some ridiculous time – like 1AM or 2AM.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Bedolina map in Lombardy. Lapham’s Quarterly.

    Wikipedia sez:
    “A total number of 109 figures[2] were carved during the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age (1000-200 BC), mainly the so-called topographic patterns[3] (dotted squares and zigzagging “paths”), warriors, animals, wooden huts, cup-marks and a Camunnian Rose.”

    My region, the Undisclosed Region, adjacent to Lombardia, is also chock-a-block with mysterious carvings, “devil’s bridges,” and sacred stones. Plus a whole mountain, Musinè, said to be haunted. There is a geography that we don’t quite read any more.

    On the third hand, the “cup-marks” would have to be the good caffés, where one could have had a pre-historic espresso. The wooden huts were selling cheese, and the zig-zag paths were where the highly honored cows entered and left the village. The camunnian rose is where the church dedicated to the Mary, Mother of God, would have been and still is.

    There *are* certain continuities in Italian culture, ne.

  7. ron paul rEVOLution

    >This was the day Sanders won CA (IIRC on the Hispanic vote). But if Sanders had won TX, on the same day, that phone call would have been a much heavier lift for Obama. And to this day, I’ve never seen any analysis on why Sanders lost TX (though he won the Hispanic border counties). Readers, if any of you have, please leave the source in comments.

    I believe this was before CA–IIRC Obama got Pete amd Klob to drop out the Sunday right after SC and NV.

    CA was Super Tuesday–I was phone banking that night, begging CA voters to get out as East Coast results were coming in badly for Sanders.

    My guess for why Sanders lost TX would be number of voters in border counties vs. in the cities. Nothing to back that up tho, just vibes.

    1. Daryl

      Think the demographic for TX Democratic voters is different. Basically the suburban conservative white women demographic that seems to the preferred target of the D party. The border is the most reliably blue area but the Ds have managed to alienate them enugh that a few counties flipped red that year. Possibly they’d already given up at that point.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    “Watch a Traditional Japanese Noh Mask Being Made”
    The video of the woman making a traditional Noh mask is fascinating. The work appears to incorporate centuries of learning in developing the techniques for carving and painting the mask. The site http://www.kottke.org features a lot of other remarkable content. Thank you for the link — it joined my bookmarks.

  9. Tom Stone

    I had my 2 week folllowup with my neurosurgeon today and mentioned the new CDC indoor air guidance, which got minor interest.
    When I mentioned that “The Lawyers” were going to make a LOT of money on this by going after deep pockets like Hospitals and School Districts he became very interested…
    That’s the magic phrase “The Lawyers are going to make a lot of Money”.

  10. cnchal

    > Tech: First (!) ChatGPT Easter Egg:

    How tight does the fishing net have to be, to prevent Chat GTP from spewing BS?

    From the Twitter thread

    Someone else found this shortly after GPT-4 was released, but I’ve not seen any followup. At least one of the GPT-2/3 glitch tokens, ” davidjl”, also causes GPT-4 to glitch. Given an entirely new token set, how did this one slip through the net? Any guesses?
    @repligate @goodside

    Guardrails? We don’t need no stinking guardrails. How about three strikes? On the third bullshit spew it gets shut off permanently. These machines are the opposite of properly engineered devices that perform with precision and accuracy, and that the public is conditioned to accept them as the next greatest gizmo, ready to take over their lives, is an indictment of this corrupt system.

    This is being force fed to the public.

    1. Jason Boxman

      WASHINGTON— Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 czar, will be leaving his post next week in the latest sign the Biden administration is confident the country is on stronger footing in its fight against the virus.
      Jha plans to leave June 15 and return July 1 to his previous position as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. He will be the last of the administration’s rotating Covid-19 czars. Instead, the director of the White House’s nascent Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, who hasn’t been named, will advise the president and coordinate federal responses to various biological and pandemic threats.

      Great guy!

      1. ambrit

        “…will advise the president and coordinate federal responses to various biological and pandemic threats.”
        That gives me the willies. What do they know that they aren’t telling us?
        Also, the idea of this Elite “responding” in any useful way to ” various biological and pandemic threats” is laughable. I’m with Lambert on this one. Today’s Elites are actively malicious.
        Tie them to stakes and auto-da-fe them. (Don’t forget to wear your respirators. The greasy smoke should be noxious in the extreme. Dangerous too.)

  11. tevhatch

    I hope this pleases our host; I suspect it will.

    BYD (1211. HK, 002594. SZ): “Autonomous driving is all nonsense, it’s all bullshit!” – said Mr. Wang Chuan Fu, Chairman and President of BYD. The following statements are from Wang Chuan Fu, extracted and translated from BYD’s 2022 financial report earnings call:

    “If you can’t even fix the problem of automating factory production lines, how can you do autonomous driving? Autonomous driving is much harder, tens of thousands of times harder!

    “In Shenzhen, there were 24 deaths in one month due to car accidents, an average of 0.8 deaths per day, and BYD’s market share in Shenzhen is very high, so many of these may be BYD cars. But we haven’t received a single complaint phone call. Why? Because our steering and braking comply with regulations, and the accidents have nothing to do with us!”

    “Autonomous driving is different. If you can’t make it clear, one car accident will make your car unsellable. Who dares to buy this car? Who will bear the responsibility? Neither the automaker, supplier nor the government is willing to take responsibility, and in the end, only the user will bear it.”

    “Now the so-called “autonomous driving” is just being sugar-coated up by capital. I think that in the end, it will only be able to achieve “advanced assisted driving” at most.”…. “The autonomous driving nonsense is all bullshit! How many years have they been fooling people? How many have succeeded?”

    One of the issues Tesla/Apple/GM-Ford are going to face outside the corporate west is the court system may not think much of liability wavers, particularly toward 3rd parties.

  12. mrsyk

    Lambert; “This was the day Sanders won CA (IIRC on the Hispanic vote). But if Sanders had won TX, on the same day, that phone call would have been a much heavier lift for Obama. And to this day, I’ve never seen any analysis on why Sanders lost TX (though he won the Hispanic border counties). Readers, if any of you have, please leave the source in comments.”
    I’m pretty sure you posted this TDM Research link. “There is good reason to believe that the exit poll just prior to publishing showed a Sanders win in Texas.”

  13. Louiedog14

    Smoke ’em if you got ’em:

    Last week’s smoke was from Nova Scotia. It at least spoke English (sort of). This week’s smoke speaks that sneaky Québecois French, which is frankly (ha-ha) a bridge too far. If they can’t keep their smoke on their own side of the border, then we’ll keep it there for them because I will NOT be subject to the tyranny of masks due to some duplicitous Pierre from Duplessis. Besides, they’d be a lot easier to take than Russia or China.

    America’s hat has gotten a free pass for far too long! Assemble at Ticonderoga and northward we march!

        1. ambrit

          And don’t forget that Demon Apple Jack! Carrie Nation is spinning in her grave, backwards!

  14. none

    IME, Corsi-Rosenthal style filters (mine has just 1 fan and 1 filter, but same idea) make an enormous amount of noise compared with consumer HEPA filters. That goes hand in hand with moving more air. I think it must be hard to sell consumer filters that are that noisy. Maybe someone has suggestions for this. The noise from my home-made filter (which predates the CR box) drives me nuts, so I get by with a HEPA filter plus some other precautions.

    1. Tom Stone

      There are quiet Corsi Rosenthal filters that use fans designed for computers, DuckDuckGo is your friend.

    2. Skip Intro

      You would think a localized source with regular frequencies would be an ideal candidate for some active noise cancelling technology.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I built a CR box just to be a nerd but quickly got addicted to no more dust at all. I keep mine running in a back room and barely notice it. I just rebuilt it with the fan on the side so I can point the output at a far wall to deaden it more. The round cardboard cutout on the front of the fan really cuts the noise.

      I’ll probably get the PC fan one for each end of the (small) house when I get around to it. Quiet, clips for the filters, I’m pre-sold.

  15. Bart Hansen

    Shim. Makes me thing of duct tape, or going back in time, bailing wire and chewing gum.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      during my Wild years, circa 1988-1995, i lived mostly in a 76 volkswagon camper van…that weird almost lime green, no less.
      on the road throughout Dixie…foreign, aircoolled, engine in a hole where its trunk should be….we learned to improvise, my road buddy and i.
      baling wire and duct tape…the crappy old gray kind from back then…and, yes…gum.
      back then , the 3 cent gum…in the red and yellow individual wrapper….still was made of latex…as in natural rubber.
      this is why mom told you not to swallow gum.
      chew all the sugar out of it, and apply to hole in muffler….and heat would do the rest.
      worked less well for things like radiator hoses(other vehicles)…and not well at all for fuel lines.

      latex was phased out during that time…but the little stores on the blue highways(Leastheatmoon) apparently had all bought in bulk at some point.

      1. Screwball

        Remember using the foil from a cigarette pack around a fuse so the headlights would work?

        I would love to have an old hippy type VW bus. Flowers all over the side and daisys on the hubcaps.

        1. Wukchumni

          Friend has a circa 1970 VW microbus with a sticker on the back that proclaims:

          ‘Zero to 60 mph in 15 minutes’

  16. Raymond Sim

    Our purchase of an Aranet led to my accidental discovery that my post-stroke sleep disturbances, chronic headaches, etc are much worse when our CO2 levels are above 600 ppm.

    Keeping our household C02 levels at or below 550 ppm has made my life a lot more enjoyable. Often quite challenging to do though, especially when outdoor air quality is problematic.

    1. ron paul rEVOLution

      Have you tried a CR or other air cleaner indoors? It may be the dust, allergens, etc. kicking around your house causing your symptoms. If you can’t dilute the crud with outside air, removing it might help. I know I am extremely allergic to dust, and often feel like I have the flu the next day if I clean without a dust mask.

      1. Raymond Sim

        The farmer I worked for in my teens regarded me as a human mold detector. I feel confident that the CO2 is an independent variable. The 600 ppm level is for indoor filtered air (HEPA or CR, doesn’t seem to matter which) and doesn’t vary with the outdoor readings – except during smoke events, those are their own kettle of fish.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “AI Prompt Engineering Isn’t the Future”

    I did read recently of an example of where AI can be a great tool if properly used. The Chinese used an AI to design the electrical system of a warship that they were designing after teaching it by using the designs of previous ship’s electrical systems. Normally this work takes about 300 days but the AI was able to do it in a day. I suppose that you could do it for a building as well-


  18. ChrisPacific

    I have a bit of experience with prompt engineering from using AI interactive fiction platforms. Essentially it’s the art of providing the right context to the language model so that it understands what you’re trying to get it to do (and the question you’re asking) and gives the kind of results you want.

    A lot of it is about framing things in ways that are unambiguous and don’t rely on human qualities (like common sense, or an understanding of assumptions implicit in a given question or situation) for a reply. So for example if you tell a language model something innocuous like ‘this is a story about X’ then the AI might start talking about narrative directions or discussing how they’d like the plot to develop. Actually in most fiction, the characters don’t know they’re in a story, so saying up front that they are probably isn’t going to give the result that you want. It’s a lot of stuff like that, mostly learned from experience and with a basic knowledge of how language models work.

    Needless to say, the fact that you require a ‘prompt engineer’ to get good results from these models is a clue as to how much they have been oversold.

    1. rowlf

      Having some experience with AI/ML using machine generated data I am unimpressed and doubt AI/ML will actually work with crappy human inputted data.

      We tried to model something like a turbine engine (which should be a simple set of variables) and the results are useless. Good luck to the believers.

      1. Acacia

        Yeah, I tried asking ChatGPT to give me code to parse a CSV-formatted string. This is a very lightweight task, but the bot kept giving me code with calls to bogus functions that don’t exist. On the third try, it gave me two bogus functions. Lol. Good luck to the believers indeed.

    1. Acacia

      Paywalled, but:

      The seven counts against the former president include conspiracy to obstruct, willful retention of documents and false statements, according to people familiar with the indictment. He said he would surrender to the authorities on Tuesday.

      1. ambrit

        “They” are going all out to kneecap him. I would vote for him if he ran for President from jail. Just to piss the Establishment off. And yes, I know full well that Trump is mainly an old style Republican. However, it is a sign of the times that such an old style Republican is a superior candidate to the “bestest and brightest” the Democrat Party is offering up.
        The Democrat party is beginning to look a lot like the Whigs of old.
        It will be instructive to see how the Establishment goes about ‘neutralizing’ Dr. West.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          I think he’s less an old style Republican and more an unideological opportunist adapting old style Republican views out of political expedience… unless that is what you meant, in which case, touche.

        2. Acacia

          It will be instructive to see how the Establishment goes about ‘neutralizing’ Dr. West.

          Yes, I’m guessing three possibilities: (1) freeze him out with only minimal and then zero MSM coverage; (2) say: “yes, Dr. West is a noble man, but [finger wagging] realistically he has no chance and the heroic Blue Team will need all of your support to defeat the eeeevil MAGA hordes taking orders from Orange Man!! (i.e., it’s your ‘duty’ to vote for whomever the DNC chooses in the smoky back room)”; (3) some scandal will “surface”, most likely involving sexual harassment of students at a university, to polarize the wokistas against Dr. West for his putatively grave unpardonable sins.

          1. Yves Smith

            I hate to tell you but as much as Cornel West has a lot of worthy things to say, he’s eccentric by bland US norms. He’s interesting but not mediagenic.

            BTW DeSantis most assuredly is not either, so he’s not likely to get all that far even with having policies and soundbites designed to appeal to red-meat Republicans.

            1. Acacia

              Yep. Agreed. He may get in a few zinger soundbites, but I’d be surprised if it’s more. This is why I tend to think freezing him out is the most likely development.

  19. Wukchumni

    I’ve been to Yosemite Valley around a dozen times, and this was by far the best visit, simply amazing, the waterfalls are on overdrive!

    If you ever wanted to experience it, now is the time!

    1. Carolinian

      Assuming I was in California could I even get in? It is the height of tourist season.

  20. Gavin

    I can confirm the Coway model mentioned above is really good, both for its effectiveness as a room system for my dust mite allergy [I’ve had 2 running all day every day – bedroom and office – for the last 36 months] and because the component replacement costs are much lower than competitors. The pre-filter for dust works well at keeping the carbon prefilter from needing to be changed more than about quarterly. I also recommend Levoit’s smallest hepa filter model as the one to carry in your suitcase when traveling.. I’ve tried a lot of them and this is the first one that has worked well for me.

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