2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Karoo Long-billed Lark (Karoo), Northern Cape, South Africa. With buzzing insect!

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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Tracking the 2024 Republican Primary” [Morning Consult]. Ramaswamy, eh?

Catching up with Ramaswamy a little:

“Vivek Ramaswamy highlights faith in his campaign — and navigates religious differences” [NBC]. “A core part of Ramaswamy’s message is talking about God and religion. At a town hall in Nashua on Tuesday night, a voter asked him, ‘How does your belief in your God inform policies that were originally informed by the belief in, fear of and obedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?’ Ramaswamy responded, ‘Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, there’s no doubt about it. It is a historical fact.’ Ramaswamy told the audience that while he is not a Christian, he can lead the country because ‘we share the same values, the same Judeo-Christian values in power.’ He added: ‘I’m not running to be a pastor-in-chief. I’m running to be our commander-in-chief.'”

“The Espionage Act’s Ugly, Un-American History” [Vivek Ramaswamy, Wall Street Journal]. “There are likely hundreds of violations of the Espionage Act every day, but politically disfavored opponents are the ones who end up targeted. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was indicted under this law, but the Washington press corps reports leaked information with impunity. Two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were charged for meeting with and listening to a former Pentagon official, while hundreds of similarly situated lobbyists faced no repercussions at all. A whistleblower on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program is charged in part based on unclassified documents about cost overruns found in his home, but former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Deutch and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who both took classified documents home, walk free. … The Espionage Act nullifies—or at least confounds—subsequently enacted laws that apply to specific types of government documents. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 gives the president the sole authority to decide what records to take with him when he leaves office. Judge Amy Berman Jackson held in the ‘sock drawer’ case that Bill Clinton’s decision on what to keep was judicially unreviewable. That statute would be meaningless if, as the Justice Department now contends, the Espionage Act is broad enough to criminalize an exercise of presidential discretion expressly granted under the 1978 act. The indictment of Mr. Trump, which doesn’t even mention the Presidential Records Act, suggests the Espionage Act is again a weapon against dissent, as it was in 1917. A startling number of those convicted under the Espionage Act have been pardoned or had their sentences commuted once political tides changed.”

“The C.E.O. of Anti-Woke, Inc.” [The New Yorker]. “That corporations are given to hypocrisy is hardly a novel observation. But Ramaswamy’s twist on the familiar critique, which he laid out last year in a book entitled ‘Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam,’ is to place E.S.G. investing at asset-management firms like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street at the center of what ails American life. He calls this kind of socially conscious investing—not political corruption or dark money, not election denialism, not disinformation—the gravest danger that American democracy faces today. E.S.G., he told his audience, lets the private sector ‘do through the back door what our government couldn’t directly get done through the front door.’ The three top asset-management firms collectively hold more than twenty trillion dollars in retirement funds and other capital, about the same as the national gross domestic product. And the stocks that the firms control give them extraordinary influence over almost every public company in the world. ‘It’s not a right-leaning issue, it’s not a left-leaning issue,’ he said. Private-sector attempts to address climate change are not only laughably insincere, he argued; they’re encroaching on work that should be done by the government—and only if the citizens agree. Ramaswamy’s crusade against E.S.G. is based on a pair of seemingly contradictory ideas: that attempts by companies to address societal problems are cynical and ineffective, and that those attempts also pose an existential threat to the democratic process. But such inconsistencies are often obscured by Ramaswamy’s frictionless oratorical style—a brisk patter, peppered with references to Hobbes and Hayek, that wends toward well-modulated moments of outrage. In Dublin, his words had gray and blond heads bobbing in agreement.” • I don’t see the contradiction in those ideas. What am I missing?

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“Pence would ban abortions when pregnancies aren’t viable. His GOP rivals won’t say if they agree” [Associated Press]. “In a recent interview, Pence went even further, saying abortion should be banned when a pregnancy isn’t viable. Such a standard would force women to carry pregnancies to term even when doctors have determined there is no chance a baby will survive outside the womb. ‘I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it,’ Pence said in the interview. ‘I just have heard so many stories over the years of courageous women and families who were told that their unborn child would not go to term or would not survive. And then they had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery.’ Doctors disputed Pence’s characterization, saying there are conditions that are always incompatible with life and others where the chance of survival is so slim that most patients, when previously given the choice, concluded that continuing the pregnancy wasn’t worth the suffering, grief or risk.”

“The anti-Trump presidential candidates clear an important hurdle” [Politico]. “Donald Trump’s critics got a big break in the Republican primary on Wednesday, though they’ll need a few more for it to truly matter…. The poll showed eight candidates hitting another RNC debate criteria: that they garner at least 1 percent support. Those were Trump (56 percent), Ron DeSantis (17 percent), Vivek Ramaswamy (8 percent), Mike Pence (7 percent), Nikki Haley (3 percent), Tim Scott (3 percent), Chris Christie (3 percent) and Asa Hutchinson (1 percent). The last two are prominent critics of the frontrunner, but they — like all the candidates — still have to hit other benchmarks to qualify. RNC rules require candidates to hit that 1 percent in three national polls — or that same figure in two national polls and one early nominating state poll — along with having 40,000 individual donors (with at least 200 donors in 20 different states), and pledging to support the eventual nominee.”

“The big-money donors backing DeSantis — and RFK Jr.” [Axios]. “A small but growing number of wealthy campaign donors are supporting both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the leading Democratic challenger to President Biden. It’s tempting to see the moves by donors in banking, venture capital, hedge funds and tech as part of Republicans’ push to move past former President Trump while making Biden’s path to re-election more difficult. But those behind the movement say it’s driven by classic notions of liberty, lingering dissatisfaction with COVID-era restrictions [like what?!?!] — and yes, a sense of Trump-Biden fatigue in the donor class. Entrepreneur and investor David Sacks has hosted fundraisers for both DeSantis and Kennedy. Sacks sees the two candidates as part of a growing coalition that is anti-censorship, anti-war and pro-liberty, according to a person familiar with Sacks’ thinking. That approach buys into a specific definition of ‘liberty’ put forward by DeSantis in Florida, where the governor has led efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights and to make it easier to ban books from school libraries — all under the banner of boosting parents’ rights. Omeed Malik, a former Democrat, former Bank of America executive and founder of Farvahar Partners, a boutique merchant bank, has donated the maximum $6,600 to both DeSantis’ and Kennedy’s campaigns this year.” • “Freedom” seems to be going down on the charts, and “liberty” coming up (“Moms for Liberty”). Reminds me of when liberals decided (correctly) that the brand “liberal” was poisoned, and then tried to rebrand as “progressive.”

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“There is no long-term case for Biden 2024” [Carl Beijer]. “Every election we are presented with the same strategy: if we vote for the least right-wing of the two major parties we can prevent the most right-wing from taking office. But this strategy does not, of course, even demand a candidate who is less right-wing than the party’s candidate… Say what you will about the West candidacy, but at least it recognizes how far to the right Democratic presidents have moved and offers leftists a concrete strategy for turning things around with their votes. Historians and political scientists happen to think it’s a pretty good strategy; but it is, in any case, better than no strategy at all.”

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“RFK Jr: ‘I was the first person censored by the Biden administration'” [FOX]. “Kennedy told Fox News that the FBI has a history of being politicized by its top brass, pointing to J. Edgar Hoover’s alleged targeting of civil rights groups and figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Correct. More: “He suggested federal law enforcement in the past has engaged in ‘selective targeting’ under the Nixon and Bush administrations, adding that in Doughty’s ruling that the Biden administration potentially violated the First Amendment via speech suppression, he was personally name-dropped.” Also correct. And: “It seems that they’re also doing that [selective targeting] to any group now… to groups that are simply political enemies of the current administration or at least of the Biden administration. I was the first person censored by the Biden administration, according to Judge Doughty’s decision.” • I looked at Doughty’s decision (State of Missouri, et al., versus Joe Biden, et al.). It looks to me like Kennedy is correct:

(1) On January 23, 2021, three days after President Biden took office, Clarke Humphrey (‘Humphrey’), who at the time was the Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team, emailed Twitter and requested the removal of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine tweet by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr21. Humphrey sent a copy of the email to Rob Flaherty (‘Flaherty’), former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy, on the email and asked if ‘we can keep an eye out for tweets that fall in this same genre.’ The email read, ‘Hey folks-Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process of having it removed ASAP.’

So it looks like Kennedy is correct. (Footnote 21 reads: “[Doc. No. 174-1, Exh. A. at 1]” (which I cannot find).

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“Will Joe Manchin Run Third Party?” [Politics Extra]. “Third parties would be bad news for President Biden next year. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) —who is hinting even louder about a No Labels run — would take just 9% against Biden and Donald Trump, according to a new poll, but that would tip the election to Trump…. If Manchin instead runs for re-election in West Virginia, national Republicans are counting on Gov. Jim Justice to take him down. But the Club for Growth is all in for Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who might be easier for Manchin to beat.”

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Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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“Ruy Teixeira: How the Democrats Became the Party of the Ruling Class” [Public]. “Ruy Teixeira, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributor at The Liberal Patriot… argues [that the Democrat Party] has abandoned its traditional working-class base and become a party of college-educated elites. For decades, the party has been hemorrhaging white working-class voters. But in recent election cycles, it has suffered big losses among Latinos without a college education, and has started to slide with non-college-educated Asian and even black Americans as well. The Republicans have capitalized on that loss by embracing these exiled voters, creating an inverted political dynamic that has left those of us old enough to remember the traditional pro-worker, anti-war left with our heads spinning.”• Holy moley. God can make irony that’s too heavy to lift. First, Teixeira is cashing in on work that Thomas Frank already did in Listen, Liberal! — and was ostracized for. Second, nobody did more to sever the Democrat Party from its working class roots than Teixeira, who as a dominating Democrat strategist invented the “coalition of the ascendant” (a.k.a. the Obama Coalition) ground zero for identity politics, not a working class politics by definition. Ka-ching. These people are shameless.

Realignment and Legitimacy

If you wish to avoid governing, this is a fine layered strategy of defensiveness and denial:

I wonder if there are other examples using this strategy? It seems very general.

I wonder where future historians will date* this transition:

I think Yang and Boresjö have got hold of the right end of the stick here, but I’d take issue with some of language and the concepts: “managerial class” (PMC); “trans-organizational frameworks” (Flex nets); “cancel culture/social credit” (symbolic capital/social capital). I say this not to be picky, but because all other things being equal, I’d go with terminology backed by solid scholarship, as opposed to reinventing the wheel. In addition, if we say “class,” lets be serious about it, as Ehrenreich and Bourdieu are, and Wedel in her own way. Sociology is a martial art, as Bourdieu says; so let us learn from the masters.

NOTE * 2007 – 2008, Obama’s first campaign?

This too:

“Liberty, equality, etc.” [Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness]. I’m happy to report that the great old school blogger, Michael Smith, of “Stop Me Before I Vote Again,” has moved to Substack. “Each of the three acts as something of a check on the others. Equality and fraternity impinge on absolute individual liberty (though perhaps not on liberty in a larger sense). And vice versa. You and I are certainly equals but don’t tell me what to do unless I ask you to; I am, after all, a free man. Fraternity allows, perhaps implies, complementarity (you can do what I cannot, and vice versa; we help each other out). The sense of equality that says “every man must be his own plumber” is bad for the plumbing, and hence for people who depend on plumbing. Fraternity implies a more substantive equality, not the interchangeability of people, as if people were mass-produced widgets. But the internal tensions, though they are real, subsist above a deeper unity. For really, none of the three is possible without the others: there’s no liberty – in the actual human world, not the desert island – without equality and fraternity. Equality is meaningless without liberty, and arid without fraternity. Fraternity is impossible without liberty and equality. I probably should have saved this for Quatorze Juillet [that’s tomorrow!], but who knows, at this point, whether any of us will live so long.” •

“Baby Steps” [The American Conservative]. The deck: “Is getting married and having a family a political act?” More: “There are three parts to Mother Keenan’s practical guide to becoming a shield maiden of the future. First, women readers must recognize what has been taken from them by the triumph of a feminism that claims men and women are the same. They have lost their all-too-fleeting fertility, feminine virtues, covenant marriage, parental authority, even their gender. They must reject lies like “abortion is health care” and “children don’t need a father” and “public schools know best when it comes to educating your children and would never indoctrinate them politically or groom them sexually.” Second, women must “explore promiscuous monogamy” by marrying a man whom they love and respect—this takes becoming the sort of gal he’d want to wed, too—and then, to use a Davidic coinage rather than a Peachy-ism, they should happily fill their quiver full of children, which are as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, and stay home with them. Finally, they should stick at it, till death does them part. (Mother Keenan does not pretend that this part is easy.) In the meantime they can convince their friends to join the victory parade.”

“Twenty Years Of Zero Tolerance Day To #EndFGM: But No End To Gender Debates And Genital ‘Treatments'” [Hilary Burrage]. “We are already aware that [Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)] is a practice where the consent of the girl or woman to receive it is usually far from central to decisions about when and how. It is generally an imposed tradition, enforced rather than consensual. It is likewise routine in parts of the world ranging from Africa to North America to the Middle East and Asia to ‘circumcise’ a male baby, small boy or young teenager. Moving to modern-day western practices, only rarely is genital surgery an essential and urgent procedure in children and young people such that surgeons may be able to go ahead without parental consent. Yet increasingly genital surgery is performed in modern clinics on western adolescents who give nominal consent to the cosmetic or ‘trans’ procedures… It is simply not possible that children can know what they are giving up forever if they receive significant medical and surgical treatments. Children don’t fully understand adult sex resulting in orgasm, and obviously they don’t usually have babies, or know the joy (for most of us) of parenthood. Neither do they give much weight to future physical frailties such as possibly weak bones, or nor perhaps to how much their minds and bodies will over the next few years mature, let alone to the psychological or developmental changes which may result from medications. In short, children are not in a position to give informed consent to life changing pharmaceuticals and procedures.”


“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 (10), 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!

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Look for the Helpers

Propaganda techniques:

Not exactly a banner drop, but perhaps stickers catch more eyes. I wonder if any would work in a hospital setting….


Astronomy > Infection Control:

Covid is Airborne

Karma strikes Bob Wachter, winner of the coveted Sociopath of the Day Award:

… working in mysterious ways (at least mysterious to our Bob):

‘Tis a mystery! (As I wrote: “Covid is airborne, spreads like smoke, and is present everywhere, not merely in ‘direct clinical encounters; that’s why masking needs to be universal throughout the facility.”)

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It’s not the tornadoes I’m worried about:

It’s only a matter of time…

For why I’m worried about transmission from Okinawa, see this morning’s Links.

“NYC Schools Bought Weaker Air Purifiers. Now Underventilated Campuses Are More Prone To COVID Cases” [Gothamist]. “The New York City public schools that rely solely on open windows and portable air purifiers have seen 23% more COVID-19 cases per students and a 29% increase in staff case rates when compared to buildings with stronger ventilation, such as HVAC systems, according to a new WNYC/Gothamist investigation…. Starting in summer 2020, the city purchased two air purifiers for every classroom from a Manhattan-based startup named Delos Living and its upstate partner Intellipure — a choice officials strongly backed ahead of the school year, even though the devices lack HEPA filters, the industry benchmark for air cleaning. In interviews with WNYC/Gothamist, independent engineers warned of relying too heavily on the Intellipure purifiers and open windows, which city officials countered were adequate in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread. To learn why Intellipure air purifiers were selected for classrooms, WNYC/Gothamist has discovered that New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) got those devices for a bargain, according to contracts obtained via Freedom of Information requests…. Yet despite the purchase of Intellipure air purifiers for schools, New Yorkers who walk into most city buildings are unlikely to find that brand of purifier humming in the background. City contracts and photos sent to WNYC/Gothamist by city employees across several departments indicate that most offices rely on other brands, all of which use HEPA filters and provide substantially higher ventilation rates compared to the purifiers in city schools. Some were purchased even as the city made new deals with Delos for non-HEPA purifiers, the contracts show.”

Testing and Tracking

“Repeat testing with a rapid antigen test may be required to rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Medical Laboratory Observer]. “Using the PCR test as a comparison, the data showed that the performance of the rapid test was optimized when asymptomatic participants tested 3 times at 48-hour intervals and when symptomatic participants tested 2 times at the same interval. False-positive rates were low for rapid tests, suggesting that repeat testing is not needed for those obtaining a positive result on the first or second try. While testing, people should continue to practice mask wearing and social distancing until infection is ruled out.” • Oh great. Testing optimized for false negatives.

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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Elite Maleficence

By Rules #1 and #2:

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, July 10:

Lambert here: Still a trend upward. Happy July 4! 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).

Regional data:

If you look at yesterday’s Biobot regional data, you’ll see that the data for both the West and the South has been retrospectively revised (upwardly).

Regional variant data:

Whatever the cause of the uptick in the Northeast, it’s not EG.5 (the orange pie slice), which seems evenly distributed.



Lambert here: EG.5 moving like a bat out of hell, showing unactionable nature (uselessness) of these CDC two-week-lag charts (here, and in positivity, too). They’re not even performative!

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, July 8:

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, July 10:

5.7%. Going vertical, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 19:

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


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 12:

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: 1,168,558 – 1,168,533 = 25 (25 * 365 = 9,125 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

The Economist, July 12:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. 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 fell by 12,000 from the prior week to 237,000 on the week ending July 8th, sharply below market expectations of 250,000. The result aligned with recent data that underscored a stubbornly tight labor market in the United States, strengthening the likelihood of a 25bps rate hike in the Federal Reserve’s upcoming meeting.”

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Inflation: “Measure It Differently, and Inflation Is Behind Us” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. and Europe use different methods to calculate inflation data, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates American price rises the European way too, although the statistic remains obscure. Right now, measuring U.S. inflation using the two methods shows radically different results. Investors who think they have a handle on the current consensus—that underlying inflation is falling but not fast enough for the Fed—should be troubled by the alternative message coming from the much lower European version of the figures. U.S. core inflation—which excludes volatile food and energy—measured using the standard consumer-price index was 2.6 percentage points higher than the European-style inflation, known as the harmonized index of consumer prices. It is the biggest gap there has ever been. The main reason is that Europe’s measure, known as HICP, doesn’t include the imaginary cost of what a homeowner would pay to rent their house, which makes up about a third of the U.S. core CPI. Known as ‘owners’ equivalent rent’ or imputed rent, the measure has long had its critics. Exclude something that no one actually pays, and the weight of which in the index is calculated from guesses by homeowners of the rental value of their house, and core inflation is looking basically fine, at just 2.3%.”

Insurance: “Farmers Insurance drops 100,000 policies in Florida” [Orlando Sentinel]. “Insurance companies have stopped writing policies, dropped customers and left the state outright after receiving $3 billion in taxpayer-provided reinsurance aid to shore up the market. Reinsurance is a critical part of the insurance market that companies buy to protect them from huge payouts for hurricanes and other catastrophes. DeSantis also signed a bill taking away homeowners’ rights to recover attorney fees when they prevail, under the premise that the number of lawsuits filed against insurance companies has contributed to the cost of doing business in hurricane-prone Florida. Each time the Legislature passed a new reform, lawmakers said the changes would take 18-24 months to trickle down to homeowners. But the changes have had zero impact on lowering rates at least so far.”

Housing: “Mapping Changes in US Home Prices” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “As to the coming crash, my pal Jonathan Miller observes: ‘If you talk to brokers on the ground, there are far fewer investors than the prior boom. Heavy primary and second home demand.’ This, plus the shortage of single-family homes due to underbuilding and cheaper mortgage lock-in, suggests that a housing crash is unlikely any time soon…”

Housing: “Part 1: Current State of the Housing Market; Overview for mid-July” [Calculated Risk]. “It took a number of years following the housing bust for new home inventory to return to the pre-bubble percent of total inventory. Then, with the pandemic, existing home inventory collapsed and now the percent of new homes is close to 23% of total for sale inventory. The lack of existing home inventory, and few distressed sales, has been a positive for homebuilders. And for housing starts there are a near record 1.698 million units under construction.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 13 at 1:49 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“New findings show a direct causal relationship between unemployment and suicide” [The Conversation]. • Jay? Janet? Hi [waves].

“Amazon hit with labour complaint over alleged bargaining refusal” [Al Jazeera]. “Amazon.com has been hit with a complaint for allegedly refusing to bargain with a New York workers’ union, a spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said… Workers at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfilment centre in Staten Island voted to join the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) last year, a first for the company in the United States. An NLRB official rejected Amazon’s bid to overturn the results of the JFK8 election in January this year. Amazon is still challenging the results before a US labour board and has yet to engage in bargaining with the union. The NLRB complaint comes as dozens of Amazon warehouse workers in New York sued the union on Monday, alleging that top union officials were refusing to hold democratic elections to fill leadership posts.” • Yikes, and yikes!

News of the Wired

A history of bricks, as a standards maven would write history:

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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. mrsyk

      If true it would seem to partially poison the data by eliminating people in a significant economic demographic. The trends should still be pretty accurate.

  1. IM Doc

    About the article above about inflation and “measuring” it differently……

    This is how my family measures inflation. I happen to be married to a wife who probably has the receipt from her very first purchase at age 8. Not kidding.

    We do not eat out often. But when we do – it is the same few places and we largely eat the same things.

    And because of my wife’s habit of receipt keeping, it is trivial to make comparisons.

    JULY 4th WEEKEND of 2022 – the bill for the entire family was 55.72 – This is before tips and taxes.

    JULY 4th WEEKEND of 2023 – the exact same restaurant, the exact same family, and the exact same meals – $101.25 before tips and taxes. And the portion sizes are clearly smaller. Exactly the same food and drink was ordered.

    We already did not eat out much – but have seriously curtailed it now.

    3.3% my ass. And they wonder why no one believes a thing they say anymore.

    1. Janeway

      The Wendy’s near me usually has a long line at the drive thru from about 4:30 – 7 pm. Noticeably smaller the last few weeks. Yesterday at about 5:50 pm, my kids and I drove up expecting a line and found none. We went straight to the order box.

      The basic single burger combo was $13. Not large, just the basic size. The chicken salad – $9.

      Can’t even argue fast food is cheaper anymore. Not by a long shot.

      1. Carolinian

        The fast food joints are becoming much more expensive even as other inflation is taking away money. Then there’s the report yesterday of smaller crowds at Disney World, which now costs well over $100 for admission. Many once iconic features of American life may be under threat from the new reality, whatever is causing it.

        1. notabanker

          We took our kids to Disney close to 20 years ago and they had already mastered the money extraction game back then. No way I would get near the place today. Sorry future grandkids, you’ll get over it.

        2. Wukchumni

          Based on the various partially used Disneyland admission and ticket books from the early to mid 1970’s i’ve got squirreled away in case there is a run on A & B ride tickets, it was around $5 versus $100 now.

          Conversely, a home in SoCal was around $50k in the mid 70’s and is now worth around a million, so the hap-hap-happiest place in the world is keeping up with homeflation.

          1. vao

            USD 5 in 1975 is equivalent to USD 21.93 in 2023 — using the GDP deflator. There is quite some greedflation at Disneyworld.

        3. clarky90

          Spanish Socialist Minister Teresa Ribera travelled to the EU Climate Summit on a private jet, pulled up to the venue in a limo and then got out and rode a bike escorted by cars a few feet…….

          Bike riding is a great way to save money so that you can afford food! (sarc)


      2. The Rev Kev

        Getting the same in Oz, not that we have much fast food. Junk food, for some reason, is getting to be a very expensive way to eat from what I can see.

      3. Pat

        Smaller portions, larger prices. This made me go look at the cost of a box of mac and cheese. Admittedly it was not on sale, but I don’t see many real sales any more. But when I was young four boxes of mac and cheese for a dollar, then three. Even when it wasn’t on sale it was still pretty cheap., under a dollar. The last time I checked a single box was $1.67, now it is $2.56. And this is the version where you add butter and milk. You go to the upscale sauce isn’t just powder version and you get between $5.50 and $6.50 a box.

        There is a poll out now where supposedly a majority of Americans think that inflation is getting under control and we are heading into a recession. Funny how I no longer believe economic statistics or polls about them. And I do believe that Trump has more of a shot than any of the other wimps running, largely because he keeps lifting his short fingers, points and says “Lie!” From Ukraine to trade to the economy, he busily points out they are naked.

    2. semper loquitur

      Anecdata point:

      My partner recently commented on the size of the bag of packaged brownies I brought home from our local shop. I counted them and sure enough, there was at least one if not two brownies missing from the last time I had purchased them. Definitely down to five. This is not a large national brand but a fancy store bought brand.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Name drop – My great, great aunt grew up with Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein in SF at the turn of the last century. She had some very interesting stories.

          A few years ago, my daughter and I made some special chocolate chip cookies. Great appetizers as you say.

    3. notabanker

      For real. Groceries have more than doubled. But hey, it’s all great! Core inflation is down to 3.3% so the Fed may not have to lay you off in a month. Be happy you can afford half the food at twice the price!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Here in Oz, ‘the primary measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI measures changes in the price of a basket of goods and services commonly purchased by households.’

        But then the government pulls a swifty by not measuring or removing from that hypothetical basket of goods all the staples that the bulk majority of people actually buy on a daily basis. As a measure of inflation, it is as useful as measuring the GDP of a country to rate it’s importance.

    4. John Beech

      Central Florida here, we don’t eat out at all these days, 0%. However we do do drive in on occasion. Post COVID, favored local Barbecue place where our regular order two years ago was $40 plus tax. Last week, it was $72. And as you noted, portion sizes were noticeably reduced.

      Honestly? May not return since around here, bootleg barbecue is a thing. Guy has a regular corner and shows up with a trailer (tow behind cooker) plus a pop up tent. Full plate for $10, loaded use two hands kind of full. Call it $20, two $1 cans of drinks, plus taxes. Eat in your car. Hot, tasty, hard to beat.

    5. SocalJimObjects

      Don’t worry, through the magic of “health insurance adjustment”, the CPI for health insurance is down 24.9%, so more dollars in the pocket for everyone, ….. not.

      Also, YoY CPI only seems to be trending downwards because of base effect, and guess what, the later will be dissipating as soon as August/September, and CPI will head up again. Happy times.

      1. Charger01

        CPI for health insurance is down 24.9%, so more dollars in the pocket for everyone

        That is truly WILD…..

    6. skippy

      Restaurants/fast food places cop it the worst as they are very susceptible to a broad range of price risks and as such as an industry one of the worst for various forms of illegal business practices ranging from the classic wage theft to payment of taxes. The big chain sand circumvent some of it due to bargaining power albeit the smaller ones are left to other things like passing it on to consumers or lowering the bar on consumables and labour.

      Even in good times its very hard to dial in their balance sheets over 6 mo to a year, energy hungry business, exposed to energy/weather dramas with food, supply disruptions, interest rates going up putting pressure on lease, so at the end of the day this is not something that you can understand with simple monetarist optics e.g. my buck does not buy what it used too ….

  2. semper loquitur

    “I wonder if there are other examples using this strategy? It seems very general.”

    You’ll find it in the well funded droning of trans activists as well as gender-gullible media figures. “It’s only a few kids here and there trying to play on the soccer team that aligns with their gender identity!” they lament, while failing to mention the long-term legal ramifications these efforts will have on the rights and bodies of real women.

    For a great overview discussion of the gender identity phenomenon, I would call it gender marketing campaign, here is the wonderful Utoob channel the radical center presenting a talk between the host and a burgeoning scholar of gender identity politics and their real-world impacts:

    Eliza Mondegreen: Gender as an Idiom of Distress

    Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student who researches online trans communities, as well as the beliefs and practices of affirmative vs. exploratory clinicians. She can be found on Twitter @elizamondegreen and Substack at elizamondegreen.substack.com

    At the end of our conversation Eliza offers a great list of recommendations, including this twitter account: @prof_curiosity1


    It’s about an hour long and incredibly comprehensive. Fun fact that I didn’t know: All the AI LLM’s are utterly impregnated with “gender affirmative” ideology. The ones that will be making all those important decisions as discussed in the central banking post as well as decisions in healthcare that will impact real women’s material lives.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    The contradiction in the words of candidates like Ramaswamy rarely lies in their platform or speeches or even past history. He strikes me as very carefully self-made with an eye to being acceptable to a wide range of voters.

    The contradictions presented by the Ramaswamys probably won’t become apparent until one of them takes office (like Obama). Our evolved and over-analyzed system requires perfect candidates and only those who have been carefully groomed can possibly hope to qualify. This benefits traditionalists from all religions/creeds. Keep your nose clean and your thoughts to yourself, then run on what works. After you get elected you can share your real beliefs, or at least whichever ones you’re still allowed to have.

    The best counter to such a candidate, especially in a climate where the establishment favors such candidacies, is to run as a rules-breaking slob. The more perfectly the other knot their ties, the more aggressively you loosen yours. If they’re polished and well spoken, be blunt and do so rudely.

    If only we had such a candidate but lacking one, I fear Ramaswamy is unstoppable ; )

  4. exdeadguy

    Ramaswamy’s crusade against E.S.G. is based on a pair of seemingly contradictory ideas: that attempts by companies to address societal problems are cynical and ineffective, and that those attempts also pose an existential threat to the democratic process. But such inconsistencies are often obscured by Ramaswamy’s frictionless oratorical style—a brisk patter, peppered with references to Hobbes and Hayek, that wends toward well-modulated moments of outrage. In Dublin, his words had gray and blond heads bobbing in agreement.” • I don’t see the contradiction in those ideas. What am I missing?

    Based on that quote, I would say the contradiction lies in that the attempts are both “ineffective” and “pose an existential threat.” Perhaps (and I haven’t read the book) the ineffectual part refers to addressing societal ills (which I feel is true) but Ramaswamy believes they are effective at undermining democracy.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Volodymyr may just as soon forget yesterday, but the Chiefs had a nice day. Netflix released their 8-episode series “Quarterback” that follows Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins and Patrick Mahomes through the ’22 season. Mariota, a Heisman winner who had already lost the starting job for the Titans, loses his new starting position for the Falcons. Cousins has the best season of his career, going 13-4, but fails to move off the Alex Smith level of QBs when the Vikings lose in the first round of the playoffs. The last two episodes are focused on Mahomes as he and the Chiefs win another SB.

    There’s a lot of coverage of the players’ families and what the players have to do to get through all the hits they take during the season. A lot of time is spent on Mahomes’s intense personal workouts designed to prevent injury. Apparently, the work was useful as Mahomes was able to overcome a high ankle sprain that he got in the first round of the playoffs and was aggravated in the first half of the SB.

    The series spends some time covering how Reid lets the Chiefs players develop their own crazy plays and even run them in Super Bowls like the Rose Bowl play run against the 49-ers and the Sno-Globe against the Eagles. The plays don’t always work, but they do contribute to the Chiefs not only being the best team in the NFL over the past five years but also the most entertaining.

    Mahomes could use a little information about the climate crisis. One episode has him flying back to Texas Tech on a private jet with his entourage to retire his college number, and his new house north of the river in KC is absurd. But he’s still my guy. ;)

    Last night’s annual ESPYS were the other part of that nice day. As expected, Mahomes won Best NFL player after also winning this year’s MVP and SB MVP awards, but he also won Best Male Athlete over Jokic, Messi and Judge. The Chiefs won Best Team over the Nuggets, the Georgia Bulldogs and the WNBA’s Vegas Aces.

    Thus endeth the Chiefs’ good news.

    1. griffen

      It’s good to rule the roost when you’re that successful at the arguable most important single position in US professional sport. I recently completed watching the Kurt Warner film, entertaining watch and maybe a little too much of the saccharine but still that’s a remarkable life story. From stacking cereal boxes to stacking a bust in the HOF!

      I almost completely avoid the ESPN channels this time of year, but did notice other “exciting” news from that awards event. Mr. James shall return to play for another season, and if load management works at his age then he’s solid for one to perhaps three more seasons of professional hoops. Heck, father time is undefeated but Brady has proved your playing days can be prolonged.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A lot of players are listening to what Brady has been saying about diet. Things have changed for athletes since the 50s and the heyday of Mantle, Ford and Martin.

  6. Mark Gisleson

    Dan Boresjo tweet provided me with a moment of clarity. As he explained how HR controls the hiring process I involuntarily flashed back to all the strategies I shared with clients on how to do end-arounds on HR.

    The clarity came from realizing my best tricks either took advantage of extra knowledge possessed by nepo and crony applicants, or from coaching non-nepo/crony applicants on creating the illusion of having such connections to get past HR. Not a guarantee of eventual success, but if it gets you over the first hurdle…

    The further empowerment of HR since my day has all been to the detriment of average applicants. My strategies still work, but only if you’re actually connected. Today’s world makes those connections much harder to fake. Nowadays it seems you really do have to know someone.

  7. Jason Boxman

    From the Orlando Sentinel, breaking story: Seminole utilities struggled to address, pinpoint source of toxic chemical in tap water

    Fun times.

    A heavy truck toting a robust machine arrived a few months ago in a quiet Lake Mary neighborhood of medical offices, small shops and the city’s fire station No. 37.

    At the back of the mobile drilling rig, workers lowered a steel snout to the ground and bored a pair of holes several hundred feet into the earth and into the Floridan Aquifer. It was a renewed effort to probe for the 1,4-dioxane that plagues the drinking water of tens of thousands of residents in Seminole County.


    The chemical was documented by state investigators as contaminating the ground beneath the Siemens factory in 2001. Sanford, Lake Mary and Seminole County found the chemical in their drinking water in 2013 and 2014.

    Over 20 years!

    1. John Beech

      We’re in Seminole County and a few months back the county inquired if they could sample our well. Claimed they were testing for bacteria, and shortly after a hurricane I didn’t doubt them but we’ve had hurricanes regularly for twenty years, this was a first. Suspect now I really know why – 1,4-dioxane.

  8. ALM

    Good to know that Bob Wachter, M.edical D.isaster, will be leading the charge back to normal so that we can all become covid positive, take a fall, and survive – assuming that the infection or head injury doesn’t kill us – and maybe knock out a few teeth while we’re at it so that we can become figures of fun to entertain our friends and enemies. Can’t wait!

    1. Roger Blakely

      What happened to Dr. Bob Wachter and Dr. Michael Osterholm is interesting. Both of them are world-renowned experts on COVID-19. Both of them managed to avoid contracting COVID-19 for the first three years of the pandemic.

      When they actually came into contact with SARS-CoV-2, the virus gave them a full-service beatdown. Dr. Osterholm has long COVID. He has been so fatigued for so long that he wishes that he never got COVID-19. Dr. Wachter was so febrile on the second day of his illness that he passed out from taking a shower.

      All of the minimizing of the pandemic had an effect on them. They thought that booster shots and N95s would protect them or at least mitigate the severity of COVID-19. They found out first hand that SARS-CoV-2 is no joke even for those with immunity.

      1. Harold

        I have been listening to Dr Osterholm since 2020. Contrary to what is implied above, Dr Osterholm never had any illusions about the ability of boosters to protect against getting long COVID. He incurred the wrath of the Biden’s health advisers by observing that sooner or later the virus would find people out and infect them, which forecast the Biden administration found politically unpalatable because “too pessimistic” .

        Dr/ Osterholm did urge people to get vaccinated in order to lessen the chances of being hospitalized, however. Over the last three years, he repeatedly said that in addition to being vaccinated (he is over 65) he personally continued to isolate and wear an N5 mask as long as possible, specifically so as to avoid getting long COVID.

        Well, the virus finally found him. He got COVID and it was bad and then he got long COVID, which he had dreaded so much. But he was not hospitalized and didn’t die. This week Dr. Osterholm told his podcast listeners that his long COVID symptoms had finally subsided.

        I personally find Dr. Osterholm’s podcasts informative and recommend them, especially the sections involving the spread of COVID world wide. I have no idea why he inspires unwarranted criticism from people who obviously don’t listen to what he has to say. This week’s program (July 13), in which he talked about the spread of COVID in white-tailed, deer was particularly interesting.

        1. lambert strether

          Osterholm runs CIDRAP, and CIDRAP was first to take down Conly’s horrid anti-masking Cochrane screed (which gave others permission to do so). I’m grateful to him.

    2. Jason Boxman

      So we also know from the tweets that Wachter, conducting his personal risk assessments, as one is wont to do, does so with a clearly incorrect theory of transmission. We can infer this, because he appears unaware that COVID spreads asymptomatically and that COVID is airborne.

      It was only a matter of time before reality caught up with him.

      I can only hope all minimizers suffer a similar fate.

      1. lambert strether

        > he appears unaware that COVID spreads asymptomatically and that COVID is airborne.

        And thereby Wachter, wittingly or not, used his position to, dare I say it, disinform his students, his audience, and every institutional player he came in contact with. A travesty

  9. Sub-Boreal

    This morning’s Links included this update on the status of the Anthropocene, a proposed new unit of geological time.

    This story (open access) in this week’s Science gives more of the backstory about the controversy within the scientific community, which is pretty intense.

    What the Crawford Lake mud cores (and lots of other evidence) show is that there is something qualitatively and quantitatively different about human impacts on the Earth in the mid-20th century, compared to earlier times. This uptick in just about every measure of those impacts has been termed the Great Acceleration.

    Those who dissent – many coming from outside the geological community – present evidence that human impacts have been a big deal for a lot longer, as in this synthesis.

    What intrigues me is the convenient alignment of interests between the proponents of a much earlier Anthropocene onset and the archaeology / anthropology researchers who provide much of the evidence.

    To appreciate why I say this, it’s worth looking at the other activities of the some of the “early Anthropocene” proponents, with geographer Erle Ellis, corresponding author for that synthesis, as a good example.

    In addition to his academic appointment, Ellis is associated with the Breakthrough Institute, a foundation-funded haven for technocracy fanboys and -girls. The BI made its first big splash in 2015 with the “Ecomodernist Manifesto”, with Ellis as one of the signatories, along with some prominent soft-core climate denialists.

    You can read for yourself, but the ecomodernists have elevated techno-hubris to a new level in their faith in “decoupling”. So I can see why they’d be happy to amplify legitimate archaeological evidence that people have been gardening for millennia into justification for planetary-scale fiddling.

    Fun times!

    1. ThirtyOne

      Your take reminds me of a blog post from a couple of years ago:

      “Both Sagan and Tyson did a good service to science with their popularization efforts, but that is not always the case. The KOLs (key opinion leader) may well distort or falsify the results of scientific research, depending on who are their sponsors. It is, simply, corruption. The scientist who takes a few steps into the media, soon discovers that there is good money to be made there. Much more money than what an average scientist can even dream of. Then, they discover that the more time they can dedicate to the media, the more money they can make. Soon, the (former) scientist starts to operate in the “pieceworker mode.” They move from one conference to another, from an interview to another, trying to cram as many of them per day as possible.”

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for all this information. Now guess who funds the Breakthrough Institute? No, not Gates, but that was a good try. It’s Rachel Pritzker, first cousin once removed of J. B., Thomas, Penny and Jennifer.

      David Keith, Gates hireling with a Harvard cover, proponent of shooting sulfur in the sky every two years, is a Manifesto signatory.

  10. mrsyk

    About that city hearing on wildfire smoke, #5 “There’s no long term health effects”, pretty sure there’s a long history of scientific research regarding particulates exposure says otherwise. I guess they didn’t google “how bad is smog for you research”.

  11. marym

    > Vivek Ramaswamy on the PRA

    The Presidential Records Act of 1978, not the president, defines what constitutes “Presidential” and “personal” records and what can be done with Presidential records when the president leaves office.

    The Act assigns “complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records” to the United States and “responsibility for the custody, control, and preservation of, and access to, the Presidential records of that President” to the Archivist.

    It excludes “agency” records from the definition of Presidential or personal records and references the applicable definition.

    Agency records belong to the agency “until they are authorized for disposal as temporary records or for transfer to the National Archives as permanent records.”

  12. Carolinian

    Re the FBI–J.Edgar Hoover was a Republican who did indeed ally with the likes of Joe McCarthy and hated the civil rights movement. But Hoover knew when to quit and drew back when the seamy stuff was exposed whereas Wray is openly defiant. Alastair Crooke has a new column out talking about how the social collapse that was supposed to happen in Russia is instead happening “slowly, then all at once” in places like France. His point is that deluded Western elites see themselves as invulnerable and Putin’s 80 percent poll ratings as irrelevant. They are arrogantly ignorant of the reality around them and give no credit at all to the masses who are mere supporting cast members.

    Something has to give. Here’s hoping that for Americans it isn’t “all at once.”

    1. John

      Crooke’s article is excellent. Aurelien’s of Wednesday is in the same ballpark and a side by side reading is worth your time. A view of reality is available. All one must do is take the blinders off. But that will not happen as the PMC, the ruling class, call them what you will has their position, wealth, and at least the illusion of power because they feel secure in ignoring the rest of us. For the moment they are correct.

      1. lambert strether

        In my view, capitalists are the ruling class. The PMC are the governing class. Of course, there’s interplay between the owner and hireling, relative autonomy of factions and fractions, but “at the end of the day” “money talks.”

        1. digi_owl

          Yeah, for all the changes in titles etc the dynamic seem to be the same as under bastard feudalism.

          The corporate logo has replaced the heraldic badge, effectively.

        2. skippy

          I think this is just another episode in the magic number that is three – elites, administrators, chattel.

      2. Carla

        Re: Crooke and Aurelian — Links would be SO helpful! Wednesday is a long time ago already.

  13. Not Again

    Now that the Secret Service has confirmed that Mar-a-Lago is more secure than the White House, maybe we should thank Trump for taking those secret documents home.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Saw this interview on TV yesterday where you had some security honcho saying how Trump did not have an official secure room for all those documents that he took into retirement. Of course people like that will always be found to spout such bs but the interviewer was worse as at no point did she ask him if Biden’s garage counted as a secure room.

      1. Not Again

        Mar-a-Lago has cameras – we saw Trump moving boxes – the White House just has an Amazon Ring and bad lighting so there’s no way to figure out whose coke that was.

  14. flora

    re: Ruy Tiexiera

    He has company. Just saw an ad with Jamie Raskin. Raskin says, “Hi. This is Jamie Raskin. We’re starting a new movement: The Democrats against the Autocrats.” It was a short ad. So… the Dems are going to run by running against themselves? For reals? It’s a breathtakingly cynical ploy to win votes. Might work. / ;)

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Tracking the 2024 Republican Primary”

    That chart would have been far more useful – and truthful – if it had an entry for ‘None of the above.’

    1. ambrit

      Well, in the “First Past the Post” electoral system we labour under here in America, the third and so on parties have exactly no political weight. That’s why I tend to favour proper Parliamentary systems. It should be harder to hijack the system. Of course, the Brexit fiasco put paid to that idea in the UK.
      Cameron was like the barking, yapping dog that liked to chase cars so as to look all brave and dangerous. Finally, one day, he caught a car. The results were nothing like he had imagined them to be.
      As for the chart; if the “None of the Above” voting population could be organized…..
      If it’s a rematch of Biden versus Trump in 2024, I’m going to get a Biden poster and re-caption it: “Biden for Puppet in Chief.” [This ad paid for by the Yellow Jester Party LLC.]

  16. in_still_water

    I’m still a little obsessing a bit over one of the Okinawa article quotes from this morning’s links.

    Alarmingly, 38.3% of them had no or only light symptoms immediately before they died, indicating that some of them saw their conditions deteriorate rather suddenly.

    Nothing good is coming from Joe’s ‘sudden’ calling up 3,000 reserves.

  17. Pat

    File this under Class Warfare or Guillotine Watch.

    This morning SAG/AFTRA officially went on strike. They join the Writers on the picket line. Robert Iger is back at Disney coming out of retirement to deal with the multitudes of problems. He gave a long interview where he admonished strikers for not understanding the business problems and not being realistic. He found it disturbing.
    It has not gone over well
    I particularly like the quoted tweet that compares a writers guild member’s average annual income to the Igor’s daily compensation calling it disturbing. Spoiler Iger makes more in a day than the writer does in a year.

    One thing that I find disturbing is that many of Disney’s current business problems should be familiar to Iger because he was in charge when much of the decisions were made that could be considered to be the basis of Disney’s issues. Yet they brought him back. It is appropriate that sticking his very expensive shoes in his mouth taking the spotlight was jokingly said to give HBO Warner chief Zaslav his best day in months

  18. Paradan

    Does anyone know if the WHO or the UN or someone keeps track of the number of organ transplant surgeries done each year? I was thinking it might be a way to see if there’s any substance to some rumors about the war.

  19. Acacia

    Back on April 24th, @Yeti mentioned a Public Health Agency of Canada report from 2022, that documented negative vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 16% with mRNA shots, 240 days after the second dose.

    I asked for a citation, nagged, and finally put in my own FOIA request. Today, several months later, the Government of Canada obliged. In case anybody else wants to look at it, I’ve OCR’d the report and am sharing it here:


    The passage that Yeti flagged is on the bottom of page 8:

    Recent estimates from Ontario suggestion that VE is essentially zero after the
    second mRNA dose (6% at 7 to 59 days after the second dose to -16% at 2!240 days after
    the second dose) in Ontario (Buchan et al.)

    The report does not include a proper citation (sigh) to Buchan et al., though a search indicates it must be Dr. Sarah A. Buchan. There are a number of articles on the net discussing negative VE, but they all point back to research studies. After some searching, I found this, by Buchan et alia:

    Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron or Delta infection
    DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.30.21268565

    ….which contains the following passage:

    In both Ontario and Denmark, VE was estimated against any infection; these estimates are expected to be lower than against symptomatic infection. In the Danish study, there was no significant protection against Omicron infection beyond 31 days after the second dose of BNT162b2, with significant negative VE estimates 91-150 days after the second dose. We also observed a pattern of non-existent, or even negative VE in Ontario.


    The behaviour of individuals who are vaccinated, and the policies that apply to this group, may differ from those who are unvaccinated such that “vaccinated” status could be associated with an increased risk of exposure. In Ontario, a vaccine certificate system was introduced in the fall of 2021, such that only individuals who have received 2 doses of vaccine are permitted to travel by air and rail, and to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, and large cultural and sporting events. Younger adults may be more likely to frequent such venues and have more social contacts 22 (and Omicron cases in our study were younger). As such, the exposure risk of vaccinated individuals may be higher than unvaccinated individuals since vaccination is a requirement to participate in these social activities. This may explain the negative VE following 2 doses observed for Omicron during this early study period. In earlier work, we noted negative VE in the first week following the second dose against previous variants, in keeping with the hypothesis that a mistaken belief in immediate protection post-vaccination may lead to premature behaviour change. However, other hypotheses should also be considered, including the possibility that antigenic imprinting could impact the immune response to Omicron.

    Evaluating this is above my pay grade, though the last sentence in the quotation is intriguing and Anthony Leonardi has also discussed antigenic imprinting.

    1. saltydawg

      Acacia, thank you for doing the FOIA request, searching for the references and making the results available.

  20. John Beech

    Went to Mayo Clinic on the 6th, today’s the 13th so seven days and feeling fine. Dodged a bullet. Can’t begin to express how disappointed we were the clinic staff weren’t masked and visitors and patients are no longer required to mask to enter. What is wrong with this picture?!?!?!

    1. Pat

      The cognitive dissonance is almost overwhelming.
      These are the very people and organizations that should be enthusiastically embracing masking regardless of Covid. Hospitals and large clinics would be better off if everyone masked as much as physically possible. (Obviously there are examinations and treatments that require the momentary removal of masks, including switching. )TB is back, there are multiple respiratory illnesses that are threats. Their staff will be safer and there will be less of a threat of cross infection from patients. The NPI value with Covid is just icing on the cake.
      But denial is not just a river in Egypt…

      1. SLaine

        I hate to say it, but I’ve been told that went the masking policy ended, internal staff were pleased, as in “at last I can see smiles, etc”. The person I know who works there still wears their mask but has reported that almost no other staff does.

  21. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Astronomy > Infection Control

    I joined our local astronomy club in 2019 if I remember right, wanting to purchase a telescope and hoping to get some advice from experienced astronomers. I was one of the youngest members, being in my 50s (!) and we would meet monthly at the planetarium at the local university. It was a pretty small room with 2-3 dozen people at the average meeting. I never did get a chance to do any outdoor star parties to check out other members’ scopes before the rona hit. They quickly switched to online zoom meetings, and haven’t gone back. While we do have outdoor get togethers again now, they haven’t gone back to indoor monthly meetings and I doubt they ever will, with most members being in their late 60s to 70s or older. Some members are literal rocket scientists, and these scientists aren’t stupid and aren’t willing to take unnecessary risks.

  22. britzklieg

    Vulgar Marxists like myself are not prone to enduring interviews on kitco but this one is fascinating and worth a listen. I don’t know who Simon Hunt is or what his company, Simon Hunt Strategic Services, does, but his perspective on the coming economic troubles, especially regarding the war against Russia (and the planned one against China) are not sanguine and quite radical given the wall of propaganda he’s pushing against: “Equity markets to plummet 30% in the second half of 2023, Ukraine war at risk of escalation – Simon Hunt”


  23. Acacia

    Jean Douchet’s commentary on Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939):

    Renoir wanted to make a film looking beyond actuality. The film seems a wry comedy in the French theatrical tradition, but it acquires grim overtones: the roots of the canker destroying Europe. Renoir portrays a class shirking its responsibilities, a society drawn to pointless pastimes, a blinkered ruling class paving the way for Fascism. The film bears faithful witness to the tragedy about to engulf the world. The massacre in the hunting sequence is a warning echo. “I wanted to depict a society dancing on a volcano,” Renoir has said. Taken individually, his characters are both charming and whimsical. But seen in perspective they are obnoxious. Here, spoiled and blasé brats take their cruel, pointless pleasure. As a group, they are killers. Caught up in the rules of the game, they act like robots, without passion. Renoir creates a movement, showing each character close and at distance. First in intimacy, then in the reality of their social roles.

    Sounds familiar…

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