2:00PM Water Cooler 7/14/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Happy Bastille Day! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Pink-breasted Lark, near Lembeni, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. “Recordist’s Notes: Song of two birds from the ground.”

* * *


“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

“Biden trips on Air Force One stairs again after ‘watch your step’ sign added” [Independent]. “‘About half way up he appeared to stumble very slightly but kept walking on up. He turned to wave to the staff out on the tarmac and went in,’ a pool report noted. The president’s latest slip came days after a sign reading ‘watch your step’ was placed on the stairs leading up to Air Force One as he arrived at Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom on Sunday.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Why Trump Gets Underestimated” [Rich Lowry, Politico]. “[Trump is] in a strong position to win a major party’s presidential nomination for the third consecutive time, something that hasn’t been done since Roosevelt won the Democratic nod four times in a row from 1932 to 1944…. The Occam’s razor explanation for Trump’s continued strength is that he’s a good politician, more so than is commonly recognized… Beneath all the Trumpian qualities, there’s a politician with many of the traditional attributes long cultivated and prized by candidates and officeholders…. Since time immemorial, and certainly since the rise of the era of mass media, it has mattered whether a politician has personal magnetism and can draw attention…. Compared to other politicians, Trump is a little like how Eddie Murphy described Elvis Presley, whom Murphy admires for his sheer ‘presence.’ As Murphy put it, ‘When Elvis walked into a room, Elvis Presley was in the fucking room.'” And: “On top of this, Trump is a people person, whose endless appetite for talk makes most extroverts seem reserved by comparison…. Not only that, as a long-time club owner, hosting and entertaining people is a professional obligation; he’s perfectly capable of being gracious when he wants to. This means he has the good politician’s knack for putting someone at ease and making it seem they matter to him, before getting to the main event — Trump himself, of course, and whatever he might want…. Finally, authenticity is the coin of the realm in politics. Trump is canny, but not overtly calculating. Nearly unadvisable, which his lawyers have learned to their regret, Trump has a free and easy quality. He’ll say whatever he wants, especially about his opponent…. [A] reason Trump’s GOP opponents are having such trouble getting traction is that the frontrunner is good at politics and in a strangely standard way.” • Or a way that was once standard. Compare this to, say, Buttigieg or, heaven forfend, Harris.

* * *

“Three Things To Watch This Summer That Could Impact The GOP Primary Race” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “[S]ome Republican strategists I’ve spoken with argue that the weight of Trump’s legal troubles is taking an unseen toll. Republicans are rallying behind Trump because they see him being unfairly attacked. But, defending him is different from voting for him. Many of these GOP voters are weary of the chaos and the drama that engulfs the former president. And, every new indictment, court appearance or controversy reminds those voters that if they vote for Trump, this is exactly what they will get for another four years.” Note lack of agency in “get.” Lawfare…. And: “Trump has every reason to be a no-show [at the first Republican debate August 23]. No front-running candidate wants to give their lower-polling challengers an opportunity to attack and/or embarrass them. DeSantis’ situation, however, is a bit more complicated. Without Trump on stage, DeSantis is the obvious target for the lower polling contenders. Everyone there wants to dethrone DeSantis from his second-place perch. Why give them the chance to do that? At the same time, with his support slipping among voters, the donor class and even Rupert Murdoch, DeSantis needs to prove he deserves to be seen as the most likely successor to Trump. He has to prove that he can both take a punch, and throw them too. It’s hard to understate the importance of these debates for DeSantis.” And: “The Hawkeye State has been notoriously bad at picking the GOP nominee. The last winner of a GOP caucus to go on to win the nomination was George W. Bush in 2000. However, Trump’s rivals understand that if Trump wins here, it may be impossible to stop his roll to the nomination. This is why you are seeing most of the GOP field camped out in the state…. That’s why we are all waiting with bated breath for the next Iowa Poll, the gold standard survey conducted by Ann Selzer for the Des Moines Register, to be released. The last Iowa Poll, conducted in March, didn’t include any horse-race matchups, but it did show Trump’s overall approval rating among GOP voters in the state slipping. If history is any guide, we will likely see an Iowa poll drop in late August or Labor Day. This will be our first chance to check in on whether all the money and attention that candidates like DeSantis and Scott have put into Iowa have moved numbers or if it shows Trump’s staying power to be as sturdy as ever.”

* * *

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. press dinner explodes in war of words and farting” [New York Post]. “Here, it seems, [apparently drunk gossip columnist-turned-flack Doug Dechert, the host of the event], sensed the need for a new rhetorical tack, and let rip a loud, prolonged fart while yelling, as if to underscore his point, ‘I’m farting!’ The room, which included a handful of journalists as well as Kennedy’s campaign manager, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, was stunned, seemingly unsure about whether Dechert was farting at Haden-Guest personally or at the very notion of global warming. (Regrettably, we may assure readers that there was no room for doubt that the climate changed in the immediate environs of the dinner table.) The candidate maintained a steady composure in the face of the crisis.” • The lead is “Camelot it ain’t.” The entire event, and the story, says a lot about New York celebrities and press culture. It says nothing at all about Kennedy, which is why the lead — “Camelot it ain’t” — is deceptive. New York Magazine doesn’t cover itself with glory either, rewriting and embellishing the Post story, and concluding: “Someday this will be the only thing anyone remembers about RFK Jr.’s presidential candidacy.” Well, perhaps not.

“Leaked audio of Marianne Williamson volunteer staff call reveals a bleak state of her campaign” [Politico]. “Longshot Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson privately warned volunteers that her campaign was desperate for cash and that she did not have the personal funds to keep it going at its current state. ‘I have put my own money in, and I don’t have the money to continue putting it in at the level I have,’ Williamson said in a Zoom call for campaign volunteers obtained by POLITICO. ‘Cause remember I’m not making a living while I’m doing this.’ A best-selling author and spiritual guru, Williamson blamed several factors for the current financial status of her campaign. Among them, she alleged, were the press’ focus on internal turmoil and a concerted effort by her political opponents to sabotage her operations. She agreed with a volunteer on the Zoom who said that ‘DNC insiders’ and efforts from the Democratic Party are determined to ‘undermine her campaign.’ Williamson said she discussed the theory ‘quite a bit’ with her campaign manager Carlos Cardona. ‘It is shocking to us too,’ she said. ‘It really makes you wonder. I’ve never seen anything like this. And it does make you wonder…. politics is dirty.’ At another point in the call, Williamson said she believed that ‘the DNC, Biden, whomever’ were working to stunt her popularity on TikTok, where she has millions of viewers.” • Which they absolutely would do; they can talk themselves into anything. (Odd that Williamsonson has millions of TikTok viewers but can’t monetize them. Maybe she should hire, if sh e can, the person who ran Fetterman’s brilliant social media campaign.)

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 Case for Cornel West 2024 Is Extremely Weak” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Under Biden, meanwhile, Democrats enacted a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on a party-line vote. These measures collectively reduced poverty in the U.S. and triggered one of the fastest labor-market recoveries in history. Biden’s prioritization of full employment has yielded tight labor markets that increase the bargaining power of low-wage workers and abet union organizing. As a result, lower-income workers have recovered roughly 25 percent of the increase in wage inequality that accrued between Ronald Reagan’s election and Biden’s. The employment rate among disabled Americans, meanwhile, is at a record high.” • I’m a little amazed that Levitz, normally a pretty sharp cookie, overlooked, in his zeal to defend Biden, perhaps the central fact of today’s labor market: The million deaths from Covid (mostly on Biden’s watch), and more millions suffering from Long Covid. Of course the labor market is tight!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Crisis Over American Manhood Is Really Code for Something Else” [Politico]. “Before Hawley, masculinist philosophers tended to locate the calamity of manhood among the overly refined, the gentlemen in their hard collars and high hats. These pretty boys, they believed, desperately needed time on horseback or football fields to put hair on their chests. These days, elites like Hawley see a crisis among the proletariat. It’s an unexpected flip-flop, as workers and farmers, whom Hawley now faults for a lack of virility, were once the honest, plain-talking family men whose manliness was held up as exemplary to neurotic snobs. Why doesn’t Hawley take his pitch to elites? He didn’t respond to a request for an interview on the topic, but perhaps it’s because men without college educations are much more imperiled by mental illness, addiction and suicidality than college-educated men. They’re less contented. They’re less employed. And, for Hawley, that means they’re a riper political target — more easily sold on far-right memes and ‘woke’-bashing flexes as a way to cure what ails them.” And: “What do men want? After the conference ended and I finished reading Manhood, men remained an enigma. That old riddle deepens with the revelation, in Townsend’s book, that the word ‘masculinity’ was only coined in 1890, and that, before that, ‘manhood’ meant something like ‘humanity.’ Being virtuous (from ‘vir,’ meaning man) meant simply being humane. Perhaps masculine virtues like courage, honesty, and respect are just … virtues.” • According to my OED, masculinity (from French masculinité) dates from M18, the middle of the 18th Century. Meanwhile:


“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!

* * *

Censorship and Propaganda

I’m not sure if this is a general problem or not:

Can any readers who still have a Facebook account run a search on “Covid”? Meanwhile, here’s Threads:

(On the iPad, showing how Zuck was too lazy and greedy to make an iOS version.) That’s the result of a search for Covid. True, Threads, even though I reset my VPN from Singapore to the US, still gives me Singapore results, thereby proving that Meta censors results on behalf of governments, no doubt including our own.


“Determinants of the Onset and Prognosis of the Post-COVID-19 Condition: A 2-Year Prospective Cohort Study” (preprint) [The Lancet]. Another major study from last week, albeit a preprint. N = 548. From the Abstract: “At least 5-10% of subjects surviving COVID-19 develop the post-COVID-19 condition (PCC) or “Long COVID”. The clinical presentation of PCC is heterogeneous, its pathogenesis is being deciphered, and objective, validated biomarkers are lacking. It is unknown if PCC is a single entity or a heterogeneous syndrome with overlapping pathophysiological basis. In a large crossectional evaluation, the RECOVER study in the US identified four clusters of subjects with PCC according to their presenting symptoms. The long-term clinical implications of PCC remain unknown… Preexisting medical and socioeconomic factors, as well as acute COVID-19 symptoms, predict the development of and recovery from the PCC. Recovery is extremely rare during the first 2 years, posing a major challenge to healthcare systems.” • There’s only a major challenge if you believe Long Covid sufferers would get care. But why would you believe that?

“Something Awful”

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

* * *

Elite Maleficence

Touching the way Jha has Wachter’s back:

Note the subtle minimization of “respiratory illnesses.” Covid may present as respiratory, but it is also a vascular and neurological disease, including Long Covid (not rationally classifiable as “respiratory” to the slightest degree). These people are so good at what they do….

The Jackpot

“A paradigm shift away from condoms: Focusing STI prevention on evidence-based interventions” [Journal of the American Academy of Physicians Assistants]. “Over the past few decades, evolving and diverse sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention methods—methods significantly more effective than barrier protection—have caused a paradigm shift away from the traditional, limited, blanket recommendation to use condoms. Although condoms provide a barrier to body fluid-based STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, condom use is limited and often misunderstood, and counseling patients to use barriers may be ineffective.” And:

Rather than focusing on condom use, clinicians can improve patient sexual health by following CDC guidelines to:

  • perform routine, opt-out HIV testing for all people in all healthcare settings
  • discuss PrEP with all sexually active patients regardless of age, relationship status or structure, number of sexual partners, or barrier protection use
  • screen for gonorrhea and chlamydia infections of the pharynx, genitals, and rectum at the site(s) of exposure, regardless of signs or symptoms
  • strictly follow guidelines for bacterial STI treatment, especially oral gonorrhea.

I’m gonna have to put my waders and look at CDC and STIs, to see who else they’re infecting and killing [bangs head on desk]. Commentary:

Condoms are a simple and well-engineered solution that variants can’t defeat. Why on earthy would we believe that PrEP and “bacterial STI treatment” will function for the forseeable future?

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, July 13:

Lambert here: Still on the upswing.

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

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.

From CDC, June 26:

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 14:

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: 1,168,610 – 1,168,5581,168,414 = 52 (52 * 365 = 18,980 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Various conservative grievances and hyperfixations” [Garbage Day]. “Musk bought Twitter because he believed it would grant him some kind of cultural legitimacy. He’s spoken openly about the social network’s influence on politics and media and how he still hopes to turn it into a central feed for human discourse that we can all use while working as debt slaves in his mines on Mars, or whatever. And Musk, like all good conmen, has proceeded to turn around and try and sell that supposed legitimacy downstream to users, as well as figures like Carlson or, more recently, MrBeast, who Musk has been begging to post directly to the platform. But now Threads, with its hundred million users, packed full of brands and real, or real-ish, celebrities, has pretty effortlessly revealed exactly how small and, most importantly, niche Twitter is these days. And I don’t think it’s going to take too long for not just media figures like Carlson, but also paying Twitter Blue subscribers, to realize that they’re spending all of their time and energy posting on some weird guy’s website.” • I just checked my Threads feeds and its just as horrid as you would expect: Some media properties where management said “We’ve got to be there!” and then miles and miles of Instagram dreck, and nothing in between. And I can’t curate my feed to make the badness go away, because Zuck needs to control the algo. So much of the reporting on this is driven by personal animus against Musk. And why? Because he took the Censorship Industrial Complex’s play-toy away from them. Liberal Democrats hate it when that happens.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 14 at 1:35 PM ET.

Class Warfare

Something to look forward to:

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

* * *

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CH writes: “Unidentified shelf fungus on mature mulberry tree, Minneapolis.”

* * *

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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. Jason Boxman

    I guess Biden prioritized full employment all right, by disabling and murdering plenty of working age people; and ensuring that emergency benefits, and the emergency declaration, ended, despite an ongoing emergency; Starving people back to work is a tried and true method of coercion.

    That’s The Democrats!

    1. Will

      In the land of the truly free, there will be no coercion of its beloved citizens. Instead, there is a jump in the number of applications to the federal government to import low wage foreign workers for the service sector.


      And yes, I know, so much red tape. But unfortunately, we don’t have a southern border that supplies a steady stream of desperate people to exploit while also giving us an excuse for an ever expanding security apparatus.

      1. JBird4049

        Hmmm, will importing more people to become the new corpses cripples, patients, slaves workers? A virus disease like Covid can infect people more quickly than can be imported to replace the previous victims; the imported workers would be overworked, underpaid, and living in poor conditions, which would make them more likely to get sick. Just like our own citizens. Also, it feels like the human wave tactics of some previous wars, which often did not work either, unless this is going to be the food stock for the new Soylent Green?

        1. ambrit

          There is form to this. Look at the history of the plantation system in the Caribbean Basin and South America as your guide. The death rates among field hands on the plantations was horrendous, but the system still produced financial profits for the ‘projectors’ and ‘patrons’ who owned and worked the endeavours.
          The moral of the story is; ‘As long as there is a profit to be made, everything involved in the projects is expendable.’
          The diminution of the population is the Soylent Green effect. Fewer people to compete for resources; that has been the strategy since as far back as the Club of Rome report in the 1960s.
          The mantra now is: “Run faster hamsters!” Lambert was ahead of the curve when he had hamsters spinning electrical generators to power the Mighty Corrente.

    2. Nikkikat

      He killed some more people by mandating an experimental drug
      With serious side effects or loose your job and everything you’ve managed to scrounge up so far in capitalist land. People should never forget that he did that to us

  2. dave -- just dave

    I have a Facebook account. Contrary to what someone stated, stuff turns up when I search for “covid.”

    1. ambrit

      The Facebook AI probably thinks you mistyped ‘corvid.’ Just like their cousins the falcons, they are the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

  3. Jason Boxman

    So for what it’s worth, I can search COVID on Facebook, and it shows results in a variety of areas, including many COVID groups. I can’t confirm if searching IN groups works, because I don’t use Facebook ever and I’m not in any COVID groups, just a fitness group and a Boston group from ages and ages ago. It does say “We didn’t find any results”, but there might actually be none for me. “Mask” doesn’t work either. So I don’t know. Neither does “night”. Or “street”. Who knows. It’s Facebook. I feel tainted from my exploration.

  4. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s)

    Investigation ongoing in 21-car train derailment near Mingus

    MINGUS – An investigation is underway as to what caused 21 Union Pacific train cars to derail about 1/5 mile east of Mingus around 8:30 p.m. on July 13.


    Analysis: Train derailments expose rift between Trump-backed populists, pro-business GOP

    [Splat! Paywalled…]


    1. Daryl

      Buttigieg has the easiest sinecure they could find for him and it’s still a rolling disaster, quite literally lol.

    2. Sin Fronteras

      Booty-gig is in charge of derailments. OK I’m going corporate: METRICS!. Peter, what’s the PLAN? What’s your goal for reducing derailments? In business, which seems to be both party’s fount of wisdom, you set GOALS and then you evaluate how well a leader did.

      How about GOALS for cop murders? Or mass shootings? or covid deaths?

  5. bob

    On student loan forgiveness, wasn’t Biden responsible for legislation that made it impossible to cancel student debt in bankruptcy.

    1. albrt

      Yes. And he’s responsible for doing nothing to change that during the first two years of his presidency. Instead we got a classic Democrat bait and switch with the self-destructing Rube Goldberg loan forgiveness.

      No matter how bad the Republicans are, there is a zero percent chance I will vote for Biden. I don’t think I’m the only one.

      1. John

        You have that right. If we have a rerun of 2020, heaven forbid, I shall sit it out. Do we ever need a “none of the above” choice. Of course, it doesn’t matter much. Oh, the decibel and chaos levels are in a more tolerable range sans Trump. Otherwise? Policy? The things, like Universal Health Care, a sensible treatment of the reality of abortion, maybe an end to expensive flag waving blunders like Iraq was, like using Ukraine to punch Russia is, like reducing the “defense” budget, that Great GIve Away to the MIC, things of which most people approve are anathema to the donor class and thus, never are discussed. Thus are the people represented.

        1. cnchal

          I’m surprised capital hasn’t started yelling at the government to shrink the military. That labor can be moar profitably exploited in the private sector.

          Instead of paying people to kill and destroy stuff, pay them to build and do stuff that helps instead of hurts.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I am beginning to wonder whether the Government Agencies and MIC Industries may represent a separate and apparently most powerful faction among the Power Elite controlling the u.s. government. I do not believe the war in Ukraine has been especially beneficial for many non-MIC Corporations.

          2. Paradan

            Most of the military’s functions are done by private contractors, and like the weapons manufacturers, are publicly traded stock. Since they have a predictable revenue they are a safe investment, allowing all of the top 10% get a pay out from this spending. Additionally, since everything is done through loans these days, it also generates income for the banks through interest. Finally, it burns through tax money and forces the government to borrow, so more interest.

      2. griffen

        Joe Biden has more in common with Governor William Le Petomane than I might have ever wanted to guess. But at least, Blazing Saddles serves as a great satire for how ridiculous and feckless government “leadership” can actually be.

        I just figured out the perfect foil for Donald Trump. Why don’t we send Mongo after him. \sarc

    2. chris

      I do use FB to catch up with friends and occasionally will zone out watching the videos stream by. Lately my feed is serving me a host of videos with the likes of Josh Hawley taking it to the man in committee meetings. He’s talking about the injustice and corruption in the Biden administration. Those are good, made of TV, moments. A lot of my friends and the younger people I know (age ranges spanning 20 – 60 years) tell me they’re watching similar videos and they agree that Biden is hopelessly corrupt. They didn’t like the FBI when they found out about COINTELPRO and now they really don’t like it. They’re not open to dying for a place like Ukraine. They don’t understand why nothing seems to get better. They’re worried about the economy and how they’re going to afford the things they need. The failure to secure student debt relief and the resumption of payments is just one more straw on the camel’s back.

      This all feels like the same kind of scenario for when Hillary lost. Bad feelings about the government had been building up for months, then the Obama care price increases hit, Hillary had her collapse in the park moment, and people were still broke from the 2008 crash. If I were on Biden’s team I’d be worried right now.

      1. Acacia

        They don’t understand why nothing seems to get better.

        The electorate keeps voting for the duoparty and then doesn’t understand why nothing changes.

        What can one say?

      2. JBird4049

        >>>If I were on Biden’s team I’d be worried right now.

        Without joking or hyperbole, they are probably so enmeshed in the Bubble that they do not realize just how bad it is Out There; the ninety percent of Americans who are being hurt badly by the economy or the healthcare system collapsing, or how political activists, eggheads, and nerds who focus on civil rights, the climate, corruption, and other minor issues might feel otherwise seems bizarre or nonsensical to them.

        It is just like with the increasing corruption and dysfunction of the justice system is there to see, if you want to look despite the efforts to hide it, but too many people come up with nonsense justifying the actual horrors that exist.

        I can mention all the interconnected causes why generations of people get entombed in the legal system, but many people will just blurt out something like responsibility, or do the crime, do the time as they can’t seem to make the connections in how millions of people are herded into the carceral state by the police state. It is the same with Biden and company plus the web of the Democratic commentariat and influencers blame the low intelligence, education, and racism for both the antipathy against Biden and the support of Trump by the Disposables while being unable to see why.

  6. Mark K


    Boomers are going to move into assisted living retirement communities owned by private equity, and all this wealth will be completely stripped out of the population.

    Not all of the wealth. The, what would it be, 60 or 70 percent of that wealth that is held by the super-rich will transfer to their heirs just fine. It’s only the smaller amount of weath that is owned by the less fortunate 95% or so of the population that will be hoovered by PE firms.

    Nothing to see here.

    1. vao

      I remember an article in the Financial Times some 15 years ago or more. Statistics showed that the probability for middle-class people of inheriting their parents’ real-estate (whether flats, single family homes, or terraced houses) was markedly decreasing compared to the Thatcher years.

      The reason: the whole wealth was sucked into paying for assisted living.

      1. CanCyn

        Agreed. It has been going on for some time. And yes those 1 percenters will leave their heirs money. But 10 percenters, nope. My mother-in-law died in 2016. She spent the last couple of years of her life in a nice* but not overly luxurious retirement home, it was CAD$6000 per month!
        *Nice is a relative term. Good at first glance but it didn’t hold up under close scrutiny.
        I have no children to worry about but I’ll be damned if I’ll pay one of those horrible retirement companies for room and board if/when I am old and decrepit. Friends and I are already starting to think about shared living and expenses when the time comes.

        1. chris

          If you and your friends are thinking of living in the same place so you can age together and be served by in house care if needed, please consider what type of place you’d like to do that in and consider what renovations you’d need. A lot of things to help can be done cheaply if you take time to plan for them. Like extra blocking in walls for hand rails and assistance bars. Replumbing drain lines and pipes so you can roll a wheel chair up to the sinks. Wider hallways and doors for people to assist you through them, with zero threshold at the doors to prevent trip and falls. Ramps integrated in spaces for easy access. Radiant floors for effective heating without drafts. First floor bedrooms so you don’t have to use stairs for daily living. Easy outlet access and built-in dressers so that there’s limited furniture to cause problems like kinking oxygen lines or tripping. A live-in space for an assistant or family member to stay in while they’re visiting/taking care of you. And spaces where the ceiling is a little lower so if you and your friends have periods of mobility impairment, you don’t feel like you’re sitting in cavernous spaces.

          A lot of this can be done easily if you know about it and plan for it. I recommend hiring an architect if you all can afford it. If not, there are a lot of resources for this stuff at libraries and online. Good luck!

        2. kareninca

          $6,000 a month is really cheap now.

          My mother in law died of dementia in 2012. She was in a dementia unit for 12 years; towards the end her care was about $11,000/month. My father in law paid for it himself; he used up most of his money, which is why he is living with us now. Fortunately he is a pleasant person, since our condo is pretty small. In the seven years he’s been here he has managed to recoup his financial situation, which is good, since he is 98 years old and he may need specialized care at some point.

          Here in Silicon valley, if you want someone to come in to help for four hours, that will be $200. Well, that was the cost three years ago; it is more now I’m sure. It’s is all very expensive.

          I am hoping someday to go back to something like the commune I lived in during college. I don’t want to feed the retirement complex industry.

          1. ambrit

            Soon, $200 for four hours will seem cheap. Right now, car repair shops are charging $200 for the first hour’s “diagnosis.” Then comes the actual cost of the repair.
            I just spent a bit over $600 USD for a mid-range auto scan tool, (a computer to ‘talk’ to the car’s computer.’) Three ‘saved’ service calls at a garage will pay for the unit. I had to beg from the relatives to raise the money. [Thank the Deity they were gracious about it.]
            I am seriously considering ‘expedited termination’ for if I ever sink into dementia or full disability.
            It really sucks when self murder becomes a ‘rational’ choice.
            Stay safe.

            1. kareninca

              The state of CA has made it very easy to have the termination done by physicians. I’m sure that by the time I’m ready they’ll be doing home visits. Maybe whether a person wants them or not.

    2. Benny Profane

      Half of Boomers only have SS as income. Many are still paying 30 year second mortgages from 2007. Most dont have any money, certainly not enough that would widen the eyes of a cube dweller running the numbers on acceptance decisions. Besides, most want to die in place, like most old people. That’s why housing inventory is still tight and prices high.
      Would you want to die in one of those places if you didnt have to?

  7. John

    With every hit piece on Robert Kennedy, jr., the more I take him seriously. 480 days is a long time in politics.

      1. t

        So is Trump. And they have a mutual admiration society. Should work out well for all of us.

        1. Pat

          At this point I will take either of them over our current administration. Not great choices but better than the demented war mongering bully and the sociopaths that run him.
          Barring utter disruption of both parties ushering in people not remotely on the radar as nominees, things are going to be illuminating and enlightening in the Chinese curse sense. I worry a lot about the election. I fully expect Trump to win. And that will make the 2020 mess look like smooth sailing.

          1. ambrit

            I’m wondering if we will have an election at all. The world has been full of false flag operations for the past few decades.
            “In the best interests of the nation I am suspending the Constitution for the duration of the emergency.”

  8. JM

    I don’t use FB for much but I still have an account, I just ran a search for “covid” and it worked basically the way I would have expected. Actually shows me that there’s an almost-inactive group for my city going over COVID related stuff.

    So, I guess that it’s working on my end; I’m located in the US and not using a VPN or anything.

  9. John

    Hawley has a job. He has a high degree of financial security. He can support his family. He can look to the future with a high degree of confidence. On the other hand those whom he criticizes have seen the “Hawley-cohort” ship a plethora of good jobs out of the US, seen corporate agriculture rip the heart out of what once was a stout farm vote, seen it become all but impossible for one job to support a family, seen more and more swept into the FIRE sector of the economy leaving precisely what for those without a college education. As financialization extends its sway, it sucks its fees and economic rents leaving less and less to the individual. These same people are told that they are ‘deplorable’, that they are surplus, unneeded, replaceable by robots and Hawley cannot seem to understand why some of them succumb to despair. Perhaps Mr. Hawley should come down from his high horse and try living and working among those he disdains for six months or so.

    1. britzklieg

      I believe it was HRC and the dems who called them deplorables, as well as basking in the $$$ coming their way from the FIRE economy, so speaking of pols who need to come down from their high horses… which is not an endorsement of Hawley, rather placing the blame where it is equally deserved. Partisanship is a mugs game.

  10. vao

    Condoms are a simple and well-engineered solution that variants can’t defeat. Why on earthy would we believe that PrEP and “bacterial STI treatment” will function for the forseeable future?

    This looks strangely like the approach followed to deal with covid: instead of promoting masks and ensuring their wide (and correct) adoption, push for an injectable prophylactic, and after-infection treatment (e.g. paxlovid). Now they propose to forget about condoms, and instead rely upon an injectable prophylactic (PrEP / cabetogravir) and post-infection treatment (retrovirals).

    And just like the highly technologically advanced covid vaccines and post-infection treatments (e.g. monoclonal antibodies) have been defeated by the evolution of the coronavirus, I expect the same to happen with STDs.

    So “Why on earth would we believe that PrEP and “bacterial STI treatment” will function for the forseeable future?” Well, the answer is that the pharmaceutical industry must be really, really, really good at lobbying — all of them: government, health authorities, physicians.

    1. JM

      First thing I thought of when see this was – didn’t they talk about antibiotic resistant STIs not that long ago? And lo and behold the first search result (using Brave) for “antibiotic resistant sti” is: https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/drug-resistant/default.htm

      The TL;DR of that is: gonorrhea has become resistant to all but one family of antibiotics, and when it becomes resistant to that there won’t really be good options.

      But yes, let’s get rid of condoms and rely on the pharma companies. I suppose from TPTB’s perspective this worked so well with COVID, might as well try it on everything.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        A Tesla in every garage and a chronic–but treatable!!!–disease in every body.

        It’s all good. More returns on the billionaires’ capital. That’s our society’s unchangeable goal.

        1. t

          Laughed loudly enough to summon the dogs at this comment, and this from the water cooler: “There’s only a major challenge if you believe Long Covid sufferers would get care. But why would you believe that?”

    2. Bugs

      The margins on rubbers are not going to pay for the kid’s prep school and Ivy, the beach houses, the help, cars, boats and the apartments in Paris. Recurrent revenue from antivirals still under patent will. It’s that simple.

    3. The Rev Kev

      So, are we at the point yet that condoms are the new masks? Will the US Surgeon General come out and say that using them can be dangerous? Waiting now for them to go after band-aids and aspirin.

      1. vao

        Will the US Surgeon General come out and say that using them can be dangerous?

        Of course! Don’t you realize that many people have persistent allergies to latex, and the possibly frightful consequences of wrapping up your, hem, virile appendage in such a material?

  11. Roger Blakely

    Men aged 15-24 are gaming at the highest level ever according to Bloomberg.

    As I read over the text about men in crisis under the heading Realignment and Legitimacy, I do not get the sense that anyone cares about the well-being of young men. Perhaps young men understand that they live in a misandristic society. Why should young men work to support a society that hates them?

      1. JM

        I’m not in the “gaming culture” much anymore, but my take is that the people in the online spaces for gaming culture (reddit, twitch, etc.) are very unhappy; and at least to some degree self-aware of it. Mostly it happens to be either turned inwards in the form of rivalries, or general toxicity; sometimes it gets turned outwards, like in Gamer-gate or whatever that was called.

        However, gaming has gotten so big that I don’t know how well the full range is represented online. Like I try and avoid gaming social media as much as I can, and don’t play anything online. Are the people who aren’t online talking about games happier, and would that balance out how bad the general level is in the online spaces is a good question.

        I’d also say that a lot of the people online have gotten to be pretty cynical about the dopamine treadmill of modern games, and how it’s tied to monetization and so on. Not that there is anything being done about it, as a group.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Sorry — I tend to agree with Roger Blakely’s view of gaming.

        My son became absorbed into gaming. He eventually suffered a psychotic break which lead to his incarceration in the State Psychiatric Hospital. My observations on gaming and gaming addiction are based on direct experience of a sample of n=1. I cannot speak for how many gamers feel — only the one gamer I know intimately.

        While my son was in high school he learned to hate reading, and avoid social interactions, which appeared to me to result from his experiences in both realms — and he also acquired a general hatred of school. He was compelled to read books he had no wish to read. In one class he was required to painstakingly deconstruct short passages from Dickens “Great Expectations”, a book he absolutely hated to read. He worked hard at school but never felt a sense of success or accomplishment. I did not help much but I did suggest that he just work his own way and feel satisfaction if his product satisfied his own sense of what was valuable. I never demanded that he achieve a certain grade and always valued his efforts regardless how his teachers valued them. I suppose I might have offered more praise for his work in lieu of the utter lack of encouragement he received from his teachers. He attempted a few different sports and found failure there as well, in spite of considerable efforts he made to excel.

        I went with him to a social event of sorts held at his high school, a student production of a musical version of “Beauty and the Beast”. I noticed that one of his friends made considerable efforts to engage him during the intermission, but he demurred and by all outward signs expressed misery in his interaction with his friend. Even now, I have no idea why. As soon as we got home he disappeared into his room to return to his video games.

        After high school he took SATs but never applied to any colleges. At the last minute, after talking to friend who was accepted to an out-of-state and prestigious school he wanted to apply to the state university. After his lackluster senior year of high school I would not support applying to a state university and strongly suggested attending a local community college instead. I told him to take classes he might find enjoyable. He did not listen and took core requirements instead. He dropped out mid-semester just like his sister as I will detail.

        His sister left high school with decent marks and though more difficult to observe, I believe she also left high school with a hatred for reading — with the exception of reading novels that would never have shown up on high school reading lists. She attended one-half semester at an out-of-state college and managed to wrack up a considerable cost to me for books, fees, and dorm fees, and this in a state school — albeit out-of-state for her.

        I very much blame the high school my children attended for the destruction of their curiosity and scholastic initiative. It was a top-rated high school based on the number of students that went on to attend college. That was sufficient to entice my ex-wife to yield de facto custody of our children to me after she had had numerous near fisticuffs episodes dealing with my daughter.

        I diagnosed my son as a classic hikikomori based on his behaviors and those described for the numerous hikikomori in Japan. I had no idea where to look for help. Most of the accounts of hikikomori I read about offered little hope that there was a treatment and certainly none here in the u.s.sa where most psychologists specialized in marriage issues or weight control, or drinking, smoking, or drug problems.

        After my son attacked me with a weapon, he found his way into the state criminal justice system where he languished for almost two years before the attorney I paid for his defense, was able to route him into the state’s mental hospital system. I should mention that although the sum was not exorbitant, the attorney’s fees for handling my son’s case greatly exceeded that which most citizens could afford out-of-pocket. My fears about being laid-off and being unable to make child support payments — which I continued although I had de factor custody — meant I had some savings put away just in case. My son’s attorney succeeded after two years of negotiations, at getting my son entry into the state psychiatric system where he still remains. My son’s court appointed public defendent was pushing to plead him out with an eight-year sentence to a state prison. I felt little confidence my son would have survived for long in one of the state’s prisons. He was very young, ‘pretty’ if your eye turns that way, and small — less than 5’4″. I felt extremely fortunate at finding such an effective attorney for navigating what I understood is an extremely difficult area of law.

        I guess I finally return to the point, my son did not enjoy reading, movies, in person social interaction, or any other diversion or avocation I was aware of — other than gaming. He had no hobbies though I made efforts to engage him in some hobby other than gaming. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that there was nothing he could enjoy other than his gaming, and even that enjoyment seemed increasingly ephemeral.

        I believe my son suffered from and suffers from extreme anhedonia — if a label can capture that condition. I believe he became addicted to gaming because nothing else filled his needs.

        Gaming is additive. Why is that so? What does gaming offer that real life does not? I believe those aspects of gaming are the tools of gaming addiction. I believe gaming offers what real life does not, and that is the heart of its ability to addict players like my son. I cannot fault games and gaming as much as I fault our Society. Where does our society offer satisfaction for a job well-done? … beyond the personal ethics and self-appreciation of an individual for their work. But my son lacks an ability to appreciate his own efforts regardless of outside appreciation.

        Do gamers see themselves as ‘happy’? I doubt that they do. Do young men as a class feel they are appreciated, valued, or in some way important to society. I think not. Is that perhaps why games have such powerful ability to addict? Games provide what society does not … and what a surprise … they appear to be addictive.

        Why aren’t young women similarly absorbed by gaming. In fact some are. Young women have sources of encouragement I believe young men do not. Not that it made much difference to my daughter. She is constantly asking for help paying her rent and other expenses for living in the City. I am near breaking. I believe our society sucks for young people — not all — but certainly for my own children.

        1. upstater

          Dreadful story. I am so sorry to hear of the suffering your family has endured. Psychiatric care is absolutely horrendous. The mentally ill face a discrimination worse than Jim Crow and far too often being ill is criminalized.

        2. chris

          I am so sorry to hear that your family has endured all that. I agree that we have created a society that breaks children and young adults.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I am near breaking.

          It’s unfortunate that doing the right thing does not bring rewards (at least material ones, in this world, if one thinks that way). I’m so sorry to hear about this long drawn-out suffering. To give some hope, at least for your daughter, I only “turned around” or “found myself” at about the age of thirty, after a horrid experience at university, and a lot of time in the mills. (It’s a shame that so much manual work has disappeared. Working repetitiously on machines — and working out how to do so as efficiently as possible — in the midst of oceanic sound might be something your son would have enjoyed).

        4. mrsyk

          Grimm, This comment. My experiences with “psychiatric care” (dad got committed to the VA looney bin) leads me to second upstater’s remark there. And I’m going with karenica’s comment as well, and it bears repeating. “You are a wonderful father. I am so sorry that things are so hard.”

      3. chris

        I think that’s a bit much. There are a wide variety of games available to people and many different genres of gamer. With Kickstarter and Steam, we’re living in a golden age of gaming. If you’re into tabletop, wargaming, miniatures, eurogames, role playing, augmented reality, casual games, single player, multi player, console, or desktop, or the new abilities to play demanding games on really excellent handheld devices, plus smart phones!, there are amazing games on display in every genre. They’re easier to get than ever before. And there are more active communities about all the games then ever before. The art and graphics are all amazing too. Not all games are designed to be addictive either. Ethical game design is growing in popularity too.

        There are absolutely misanthropes playing online and posting awful stuff in forums. There’s also a lot of old friends who grew up gaming together and meet virtually to play in the same environment for a little bit. People working from home are also engaging in game activities while on zoom meetings. Having a smart phone makes it easy to play and pause all day long if you want. Many of the word or math games the older people in my family play are like that.

        From being in and around the gaming industry for a while, I’d be cautious about making any direct conclusions about social relations from increased time spent gaming by men. Yes, escapism is a thing. Yes, some sickos play games, even popular games. But a lot of it lately is so many more people are doing it and it is a way to engage with friends. I know that is what we’ve seen in tabletop gaming especially.

      4. poopinator

        I also think that the entertainment hours/dollar ratio makes it one of the few affordable outlets for a lot of young men as well

        1. chris

          That’s true. Plus with outlets like Steam and Kickstarter, we are living in the golden age of gaming. I’m glad ethical game design is becoming more popular so that more people can enjoy gaming in whatever medium as a hobby.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I used to game 5 to 6 hours a day, and this was when I first started college. The first few years, I had a lot of fun, but eventually companies started releasing way too many games and there was little differentiation to be found even among the so called AAA titles. There’s this term in gaming called “grinding” where you are forced to spend time fighting the same enemies again and again just to get enough power/magic item, what have you to progress the plot, and eventually the whole thing just became a chore, and I quit.

      My take on gaming is just like everything else: do it in moderation, and only play the BEST ones. A sense of wonder and adventure, a good story, interesting puzzles that get you to think are some of the things that you can find in a very good game.

        1. MudShoesIdol

          I had written a whole thing out & then turned the iPhone sideways & it disappeared my work. Locked screen now,..

          I’m approaching my mid-40’s. At some point Edward Snowden made a similar comment to this as well: I grew up on the heavily text based JapaneseRPGs on NES & SNES with themes of making the world a better place.
          My first fun job after not finishing a general degree at junior college was an art restoration gig where impeccable detail work was not only necessary but mandatory. Seconding Lambert, I found the work liberating as there was no need to think, just complete focus.
          After that I worked at Activision as a quality assurance tester in the basement of the corporate building for a few years. At the time I started in mid-2000’s paid bare or barely minimum wage, I felt they were finding random people at bus stops to hire. When on-boarded they had you automatically sign on to an employment agency so that you could be fired/let go at a moment’s notice.
          I remained there for a few years, witnessing the hiring bloat during early summer to simply put bodies in seats, & then towards late fall the massive layoffs as games were becoming ready to be released.
          All of these employees would ritually sign-up for unemployment through the State, apparently this was a thing.
          I suppose I did something right since I made it through multiple years & eventually left for another job.

          When I started is around the time World of Warcraft came out & all of the managers & leads would hide in their offices & cubicles playing the same all day.

          The bug bit me as well, I had started playing games again just before I was hired after a 5-6 year hiatus from snes & sega dreamcast. My brother had a PC & it started with Morrowwind 3, then Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines, then my brother’s abandoned World of Warcraft subscription.
          The world building in these PC games was incredible, I somehow got myself sucked in, went to work to test video games then come home and play. I ruined a solid relationship with my live-in girlfriend at the time with these poor habits, opting to fire up the game when I got home rather than firing up our dinner. At some point after she left I began becoming even more dedicated at least for a little while. The problem with an MMO or Online is that you must structure your time playing around everyone else’s or the group’s convenience. Also a subscription price of $15/month is incredibly cheap if you use it constantly, & easy to rationalize.
          At some point I discovered that there was a command in World of Warcraft called /played that listed total playtime. Staring at that number & realizing I would be more than halfway through a law degree if I had utilized that time more wisely caused me to rethink my habits & way of life. I currently don’t play anything MMO ever since, That was about 20 years ago, I cannot allow myself to base my life & schedule around a guilty pleasure & diversion. I recently got into Horizons: New Dawn on PC but it’s single player & I only play if I want to at my own leisure.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ve been a strategy gamer most of my life beginning with the Avalon Hill board games Afrika Corps and Stalingrad that I played with a high school friend. When we got an Apple II+ in ’82, I played Guadacanal and Fulda Gap. With the arrival of DOS came Civilization and its progeny along with Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron. I’ve also played a lot of Sim City and more recently, Stardew Valley.

      I didn’t play any games during college or law school or later in seminary.

      I’ve never played first person shooter games, but my sons and I played quite a bit of Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo. They played Mario Kart with the little sister, the only game she ever played much. When the boys were grown and living with us here in Cleveland, the boys played a ton of Madden, a hockey game that they played on headsets with distant friends and doubles tennis. They got to be ranked in the top 5 internationally with the tennis, and created a popular Madden website with leagues, stats, etc. They both seem to have outgrown that (unlike their gamer dad) and are busy with other things including being a husband and father. They played some FPS games, but not nearly as much as the sports games. They also played some Civ with me occasionally, but their main interest has never been strategy games.

      The boys found a community of people and socialized some through their headsets playing hockey with a group of guys. Their Madden league was international, multi-racial and full of macho trash talk and arguments about rules. It wasn’t so different from a softball league without the beer.

      Both our middle son and daughter have played a lot of board games with spouses and friends, even going to a gaming center here in the area. Pandemic is one of their favorites.

      As for strategy games, the computer versions are a lot more convenient than Avalon Hill with all those tiny pieces, but otherwise, they’re not much different. I get annoyed at the constant efforts to juice the graphics in strategy games, slowing down an older computer with no real contribution to the playability or strategic challenge of the game.

  12. Pat

    A friend received a glossy direct mail brochure for a building on the west side of Manhattan. From its greetings and text it was being directed to people of or close to retirement age. Vaguely full service, the residences were studios to two bedrooms beginning at $11,000 a month.

    I don’t know who they think are going to rush out to rent a studio apartment at a price that is more than five times the average SS check and over two times the maximum benefit. We may have underestimated the size and configuration, but I cannot imagine anyone with a retirement income adequate enough to handle $11,000 a month just for rent is going to settle for anything remotely considered a studio, even in Manhattan. I also don’t know where they think they are going find retirees to replace any such tenants ten years from now as fewer and fewer Americans are going to have close to the retirement income of those from this decade and certainty previously.

    It was frightening on so many levels.

    1. Randal Flagg

      That is a hilarious clip though I honestly shouldn’t be laughing, if that soldier represents the average Russian soldier and they all have that high a level of confidence, most of the warmongers in the US should be having second thoughts.

      I’m reminded of that Mike Tyson quip, ” Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I think Russia has punched a number of people in the face so far…

  13. curlydan

    The antidote looks like a Dryad’s Saddle mushroom. Fairly common on trees around Missouri where I live

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The name Dryad’s Saddle conjures images of dryads riding but what kind of pony do dryads ride?

    2. YetAnotherChris

      Yes, I think you’re right. The host tree, while not dead, does look distressed and that seems to be preferred habitat for that particular fungus. It’s right across the street but I’m not about to eat it. Thanks for the intel all the same!

  14. DJG, Reality Czar

    Virginia Heffernan in Politico on the crazy, mixed-up world of masculinity. The article trails off at the end, and whatever code she may have found isn’t evident.

    But Josh Hawley: Brought up Methodist, but attended an elite Catholic (Jesuit!) prep high school, and now a nutter Presbyterian (and the Presbyterians do have their nutters). This isn’t a story of religion. It’s hopping among power structures based in religious denominations.

    Heffernan doesn’t get around to the problem of wokeness and religious awakening. Most likely, she doesn’t understand religion well, which is all-too-common in The Most Religious Country Ever. Strangely, but truly, I have had to work with manuscripts recently that delved into the first and second great awakenings. The first great awakening was produced mainly by Methodists and Baptists. By the second, third, fourth, Americans were into the Millerites and the Seventh-Day Adventists.

    Americans are now in the umpteenth great awakening–with the usual body-hating dualism, and that includes hatred of men’s bodies (chest-hair competitions notwithstanding). Now, the radical dualism of body, mind, and spirit is sloshing into queer studies and transgender theory. And work? No, justification by faith alone means never having to work, eh.

    But it’s still dualism. Maybe that is the code Heffernan is seeking.

    As for Hawley? Presidential timber? Not much more so that Pete Buttigieg, his brother in self-righteousness. They are types that Sinclair Lewis described vividly long ago: Elmer Gantry. All those minor boosters and characters in Dodsworth and Babbitt.

  15. Revenant

    Wildly digressive local colour alert:

    My mother went to primary school with Anthony Haden-Guest in our remote West country village. He was a slightly exotic “son” of the manor (quotes because I think he was the son of the first husband when his emigrée mother remarried into the local squirearchy).

    He wasn’t the only dash of sprezzatura: the squire, a thousand years of huntin shootin fishin gentry in his antecedents, was a baletomane and imported Margot Fonteyn on the weekends. Bert next door would go to pick her up from the London train in his bread van.

    Other members of that family married the Whistlers (the engravers, not the painters) and the Ravilliouses (printmakers and photographers).
    Strong artistic genes all round from that unlikely rural stock, plus a dose of Gothic tragedy: buses burning down and mothers dying young etc.

    The male line died out and Charlie Watts PBUH bought their house that didn’t burn down….

  16. Raymond Sim

    I’m stuck using my phone to post comments, and can’t insert links, but the YouTube channel of one Gez Medinger features a series of interviews with Prof. Carmen Scheibenbogen on the the topic of Long Covid, and they look very interesting. Prof. Scheibenbogen is an immunooncologist who turned to the study of ME/CFS, and more recently Long Covid.

    It may be some days before I’ve got the available brain-minutes to listen, but it definitely looks worth checking out.

  17. Michael Fiorillo

    Wow, we’re getting etiquette lessons and fear-driven smearing of JFK, Jr. (who I don’t trust but am watching with interest) by New York Magazine, home of Jonathan “I’m A Peeliever” Chait. Yes, the fellow who wrote an article in April, 2018 (!) telling why we should believe the Pee Tape story, and there’s more than whiff (sorry, not!) of the same kind of collective delirium to this story.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
    Wishing my friend Bob Wachter a speedy and fully recovery
    The truth is, respiratory illnesses can wreak havoc in people’s lives — something we see all the time in the hospital. And why we should continue to take it seriously. Glad to hear you are on the mend Bob!’

    This is cute. Very cute. Even when Wachter was forced to admit that Covid got him, this other doctor still cannot come out and use the dreaded ‘C’ word but waffles on about ‘respiratory illnesses.’ A real doctor would have come out and said ‘The truth is, Covid can wreak havoc in people’s lives — something we see all the time in the hospital. And why we should continue to take it seriously’ but this doctor just can’t make himself say it out loud. With doctors like these, I think that you might be safer visiting witch doctors.

      1. Pat

        I didn’t think he had a chance, but that was a spectacular crash and burn. He really won’t be able to walk that back. He never expected anyone to call him on his priorities and spoke honestly about them. Ooops.
        Sadly my imagined response would be for some godlike voice from above to intone “Mike, let me correct you. You just made it clear that you aren’t running for President of the United States but President of Ukraine. Since that is your concern, your US citizenship has been revoked and you and your family will be deported on the next plane.” Then two DhS agents appear to walk him from the stage.
        But mind you I would have Blinken, the Kagans, and Sullivan on the same plane. Biden…Harris….Biden…Harris yes that makes whether to include Biden on that fantasy jet so hard.

        Back to Carlson, gotta hand it to him, pointing out the obvious was a really good choice.

    1. chris

      The people who disagree with what he said (most citizens in the US) don’t count as far as our leaders are concerned. Maybe that earns him some credit in what ever comes after they make a martyr out of Trump?

  19. ChrisPacific

    Re: The case for Cornel West

    If I was a US voter I would want him on the ballot purely so that I didn’t have to vote for Trump (a horrific prospect, to put it mildly). If West drops out, Trump will be the only option for voters who don’t want escalation to World War 3 with Russia over Ukraine.

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