2:00PM Water Cooler 7/17/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on President George Washington’s Farewell Address — which is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be — and so this is an open thread. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

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

KW writes: “Secret Garden: White Magnolia and Red Bud framed by unknown tree. (We don’t have to know everything.)” Secret Garden, a favorite book and movie.

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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. antidlc

    The pandemic is over, according to David Leonhardt.

    A Positive Covid Milestone

    The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal.

    Excess deaths, as this number is known, has been an important measure of Covid’s true toll because it does not depend on the murky attribution of deaths to a specific cause. Even if Covid is being underdiagnosed, the excess-deaths statistic can capture its effects. The statistic also captures Covid’s indirect effects, like the surge of vehicle crashes, gun deaths and deaths from missed medical treatments during the pandemic.

    During Covid’s worst phases, the total number of Americans dying each day was more than 30 percent higher than normal, a shocking increase. For long stretches of the past three years, the excess was above 10 percent. But during the past few months, excess deaths have fallen almost to zero, according to three different measures.

    No mention of long COVID. No mention of reinfections. Many people can’t take Paxlovid.

    Geesh. I just want to bang my head against the wall.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I’d be suspicious of excess death numbers at this point; Aren’t they rebasing them in Europe? Given how circumspect CDC and the Biden administration are with numbers in the US, I have extreme difficulty trusting any news on excess deaths.

      I’ll wait for the population level life expectancy numbers for 2023 in the next couple of years, and we’ll see if there is indeed another drop.

      Meanwhile, given the frequency of reinfections, I’d expect we’re going to have some kind of reckoning with regards to society level disability in the next 5-7 years. That’s another 5-14 reinfections for some, on top of what has already happened. It’s hard to believe at that level of reinfection, we won’t start seeing seriously poor outcomes.

      But maybe not. Denial is strong.

      This is a movie I don’t care to watch, but there’s no choice.

      Stay safe out there!

    2. t

      The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal.

      Was a week or two when, because of what else was renting theaters and other scheduling anomalies, “Curly Sue” was number 1 at the box office.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Kunstler is on fire today:

      What if Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche is correct? The Dutch virologist said at the outset of the Covid-19 episode in 2020 that vaccinating the world in the midst of an epidemic was insane because it would train the virus to evolve more dangerously while disabling human immune systems.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Once again, I am grateful to Naked Capitalism for helping me make the decision I did. I chose not to get vaccinated because of what I read here about the shots being rushed to market with inadequate testing and no liability for the manufacturers.

        And, yes, I do have the two medications that are mentioned in the Kunstler article. They’re in the “just in case” department of my medicine cabinet.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Arizona Slim, Thank you and I could not possibly agree more with the praise you heap upon NC and the commentariat! The only beacon of sanity throughout this whole, and ongoing, s$$tshow.

        2. ambrit

          We made the same decision, and against some fierce opposition from both families. Phyl likes to say that we are in the control group for one of the biggest medical experiments in history.
          It is going to be years before the ‘good’ data is collected, much less made public.
          We here in the North American Deep South keep applying the layered approach to dealing with the pathogen.
          As for ‘meds’ in general; we focus on building and protecting our immune response.
          Stay safe.

      2. SocalJimObjects

        Kunstler might as well be waiting for Godot. I haven’t taken any vaccine, but if I have a cent for everytime Kunstler, Vanden Bossche, etc makes a prediction on how many people would die from the vaccine, I would be richer than God. Seriously these people need to move on, like if there’s an earthquake next week, I am sure they will say that the casualties died “with earthquake” (not of earthquake) with the primary mortality cause being the vaccines.

        No the vaccines aren’t benign, but the conspiracy theorists have been calling for this mass death event resulting from vaccination for far too long. Remember, the rich need their servants, having the later die off in big enough numbers would seriously screw up their life. Also the stock market has to be way up there till the day of the Final Battle i.e. Apocalypse, again too many consumers dying would screw up that plan.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Archive.ph is done right now so I can’t read the article, but I’m wondering what the baseline is for the determination that there are few to no excess deaths. Is it the pre-Covid 2019 baseline? Or is it a new baseline that incorporates the the high death rates of 2020-2021? If the latter, all that means is that we now have a new, higher “normal” baseline of deaths.

    5. chris

      I’m going to assume he didn’t make those statements as some kind of black humor attempt. I guess I would start by asking Mr. Leonhardt what confidence he has in any of the public health data collected in the US? Pretty sure we’ve talked about how poorly the deaths and COVID cases in the US as a whole were recorded during the last 3 years. Not sure I’d use anything we have access to in support of a statement like, “things are back to normal”.

    6. ChrisRUEcon

      Yep. Showed up to my inbox this morning and I gave it the ole #eyeRoll … as Lambert wrote somewhere in a #2PMWC the other day: … these people are so good at what they do …

  2. Robert Gray

    OK, here’s a little comic relief. This is now on the BBC online > Sport page.

    > Wimbledon 2023: Novak Djokovic fined for smashing racquet in men’s final

    > Novak Djokovic has been fined $8,000 (£6,117) for smashing his racquet against the net post …

    Wow! £6,117! He’ll really be sorry now! This will definitely help him modify his bad behaviour!

    > The money will be deducted from his runner-up cheque of £1.175m.

    Oh. Never mind. :-)

    1. ambrit

      Now if he had been sentenced to washing the winner’s —-‘s, that would have been embarrassing. Oh, sorry. that’s supposed to be a golf joke.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Makes me long for the days of yore, when John McEnroe could throw some epic temper tantrums.

          1. ambrit

            On televised matches, his antics could increase the viewership and thus the ad revenue. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the TV Networks didn’t pay his fines for him.

    1. aj

      I can’t wait to see the employees’ “no firing us” policy. You can’t fire me until you talk to my spouse and kids and maybe my mom. :)

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      im glad they did this…and in such a blindly hamhanded way.
      the optics are frelling terrible!
      very obviously clarifying.
      not only the other side of “Right to Work”, but…what the heck are they gonna do? hunt you down with a big net? chain you to the fryer?

      if only we had some large political organisation that could use it wisely…

    3. GramSci

      Search found this comment on reddit:

      «I’ve worked (still working technically ),at one. It’s been 4 months since I quit and they still email me a empty schedule every week. On the bright side, I still get employee discount lmao»

      If you use Reddit you might find more like this.

    4. Jen

      So what are you going to do? Come to my house, put a gun to my head and force me to go to work?

  3. ambrit

    Mini zeitgeist report from the North American Deep South.
    Did some shopping last Friday. [The local bus line does not run on the weekends.]
    Prices up across the board in the grocery department. Most egregious, Phyl’s favourite non-gluten bread went up another dollar per loaf. So, from $5.99 a loaf last Fall, to $6.99 a loaf last Spring, to now $7.99 a loaf. That’s roughly a 33% rise in under a year’s time. The eggs went up again, so did the vegetables, and I have noticed that so called “luxury” items like cut flowers are being phased out. (Some roses for Phyl were an irregular ‘treat’ in the past. {Always keep them guessing!})
    My cranberry raspberry juice, (always drink it diluted,) has gone up about 20% recently. Cocktail cherries, (don’t ask, I won’t tell,) have gone up about 25%. The prices of meat have stabilized, but definitely higher than last Fall. Pork ribs are still pretty low priced compared to the other meats, so, bar-b-que, here we are! Ribs also make a good stew, etc.
    Counterintuitively, liquor prices are stable. After a big spike in booze prices last year, the prices of degradational spirits have stayed even.
    One sure sign of stress is that I have been told by convenience store staff that sales of lottery tickets are rising steadily. People, being desperate, are turning to the most regressive form of gambling around. Funny how such simple things are not being taught in the schools.
    Stay safe, and remember, there are no such things as “Magic Numbers.”

    1. Brunches with Cats

      I feel you, ambrit. Cutting every possible corner here* and still have to use credit cards for groceries for last week to ten days of the month. Good news is that eggs were $1.18/doz at Aldi’s last week. (As I predicted, the price of eggs plummeted with the termination of emergency supplemental SNAP at the end of February.)

      As for your cocktail cherries — presuming you mean those neon-red maraschino thingies sold in jars — they are standard on classic pineapple upside-down cake. I make a mean gluten-free version, using dried cherries soaked overnight in dark rum (extra rum in the brown sugar glaze, plus a few drops in the whipped cream instead of vanilla). If you and Phyl want to take a stab at it, you can use measure-for-measure GF flour in any basic yellow cake recipe (I typically add an egg).

      In the spirit(s) of DADT, I make no presumptions in offering the following recipe for your own homemade cocktail cherries — timely, as we’re getting the first of the season here in Upstate NY, dunno about your half-horse town. Haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve had pretty good success over the years with recipes from Epicurious:
      [Cloud evidently didn’t like the link, so reposting without it; easily found with keyword search. Sorry.]

      Best of luck to you both.

      1. Brunches with Cats

        For all that, forgot the * footnote:

        E.g., making food for the roommate, aka Feline Overlord. Case price for his special food went up to $56 on Chewy, so I’ve been soaking his kibble overnight, adding some chicken meat (thighs $1.39/lb), and pureeing it all together to the consistency of pate, which is all he’ll eat. Definitely takes more time and energy to make more from scratch, but it saves a lot of money, and much (most?) if the time is healthier.

      2. ambrit

        Hmmm… Phyl likes to try new recipes, so, she might go for it. She will, of course, insist on fresh cherries. [I don’t know how that will work out, but I did say she likes a challenge.]
        Thanks for the menu suggestion! (I’m the one with the sweet tooth, so, I guess I’ll be doing most of the quality control on the project. Huzzah!)
        Secondary observation; when it becomes an onerous burden to look up cooking recipes on the Google, we will know for certain that The End of Days is here.
        Be safe.

        1. chris

          God bless you all. The high cost of living in addition to everything else we’re dealing with is an unbearable insult at times. Especially because the quality has generally gone down too. You’re paying more for worse, and getting less of it.

  4. Big River Bandido

    Patient readers, I must finish up a post on President George Washington’s Farewell Address

    Which of his farewells? 1783, or 1796?

      1. ambrit

        Today’s politicos don’t even try to pretend that it is “honest graft” any more. At least the ‘Machine Politicos’ of the Days of Yore knew enough to spread the wealth around a bit.
        Next thing you know, they will be telling us that it’s raining on us. “Make it rain” takes on a whole old meaning.

  5. McWatt

    Looking forward to your Washington take Lambert.

    As an aside if you look at the new Washington quarters there seems to be a new decided downturn to
    the Presidents mouth.

  6. Stephen V

    On Washinton’s farewell:
    IIRC he has a warning about “combinations” which I had assumed to be aimed at political parties: tyranny of the majority and all that.
    But after coming across a paper mentioning the great monopolists Carnegie and Rockefeller, I wonder if he had in mind the modern corporation?

    1. Hana M

      Washington was already well aware of a prime forerunner of the modern corporation–the East India Company–complete with state affiliations.

  7. chris wardell

    Severe Proposed HIV New Federal Budget Cuts
    From: Jules Levin
    Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2023 09:09:28 CDT


    Devastating cuts proposed to Federal HIV budget
    Proposal would eliminate the entire $220 million in CDC’s Ending the HIV Epidemic’s budget, reduce Ryan White Care Program by $238 million, and more.

    July 14, 2023

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation is greatly alarmed by the proposed fiscal year 2024 cuts to HIV funding in the Federal budget by the Republican-led Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Subcommittee.

    The bill proposes eliminating all $220 million in funding for the CDC’s Ending the HIV Epidemics’ program, reducing the total CDC National Center on HIV, Hepatitis, STDs, and Tuberculosis by $226 million, cutting the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund by $32 million, reducing total funding for the National Institutes of Health by $3.8 billion, and reducing Ryan White Care Program funding by $238 million. Overall, the bill proposes an 18% cut to the Centers for Disease Control and a 12% cut to Health and Human Services.

    “These are devastating proposed cuts that, if enacted, would challenge the public health infrastructure of California and states across the U.S.,” said Tyler TerMeer, PhD, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “They would cause irreparable harm to HIV prevention, treatment, and care, and would take away critical services for the HIV community including substance use support and treatment, and mental health services. As SFAF continues to make progress on ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic with innovative services and culturally-informed care, we will continue to fight back against politically-motivated attacks on our communities and to fight against cuts to necessary care.”

    “SFAF, in coalition with other HIV and AIDS organizations across the nation, strongly oppose these proposed budget cuts, and urge our state Senators to take action in order to ensure that these cuts do not harm the public health HIV infrastructure of California,” said Ernest Hopkins, Senior Strategist and Advisor at SFAF. “We cannot stand by as our communities are targeted and as life-saving government support is cast aside. These proposed changes would harm our most vulnerable residents, and would undue years of progress that we have made in reaching an end to the HIV epidemic.”

    More information about the proposed cuts can be found in this press release from House Democrats Appropriations Committee.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Jeez. thanks for highlighting this.
      when i watch “free with ads”, i get lots of long commercials for a couple of hiv drugs for some reason(the ads are all drug ads, for various ailments)….i’m sure they aint cheap…so wouldnt Big Pharma be against such cuts, because they get paid via these programs(similar to Cancer)?

      Rule#2:”Go Die”.

    2. ambrit

      This does indeed look like a eugenicist agenda. The ‘deplorables’ can all go die. The military can grow ever larger so as to kill more people, mainly overseas, but increasingly here in the Homeland.
      Someone should agree to the budget cuts if the same percentages are cut from the MIC budgets. Tell the neos to “Put up or shut up.”
      Unfortunately, if history is any guide, we will have to go through a total societal collapse before any true ‘reforms’ will be done.
      “Don’t forget all you little rugged individualists! Shoot to kill anybody that tries to bust in the door at your house, wearing uniforms or not. Remember, American Freedom starts one rugged individual at a time!”
      This message bought to you by the ‘Department of Parallel Homeland Security.’

  8. chris

    So this is fascinating. RFK Jr. makes comments about COVID possibly targeting certain ethnic groups by design or accident.

    The interesting part to me is, we know the intelligence agencies are saying more and more that a lab leak was likely, even though many scientists disagree, but apparently not the people who were funding the work in Wuhan who appear to have thought that was the most likely possibility too before developing a public position. We also know that all the good people lamented the absence of racially specific data on the pandemic. We know that poor Black and Latinos suffered disproportionately in the US. Mainly because they were poor but that distinction was handily erased by our media and leaders. We know that all good people have gone everywhere in public stating that all of us deplorables are racist, US policy is hopelessly racist, and there’s no doubting that Black people suffer more than anyone (but not enough to get policies that would actually help them…). So given all that, someone in authority with some sense of things says something stupid that hits all the right notes. Forcing KJP and other propagandists to denounce the person as “vile” and “wrong”. But… how can he be given all the things I just said? Why wouldn’t you assume all that was true if you had been affected disproportionately by COVID and you were Black?

    These are some horse race questions I guess. I have yet to see any real evidence that the lab leak theory is solid, but it’s awfully fishy that the data to prove it wasn’t was rapidly destroyed. It makes sense that COVID erupted naturally because it happened two times before, but others have mentioned if that’s the case then where are the populations of initial host mammals who lost their sense of smell and taste and therefore their ability to hunt successfully? With those questions and the horrible coverage and lamentable discussions that were publicly permitted, has the Biden administration created a situation where what RFK Jr. has said seems more true than what everyone else in power is saying?

    Is Joe Biden going to be denounced as racist because he’s going to tell people COVID wasn’t/isn’t racist? I really shouldn’t be grinning at that thought. But pass the popcorn please…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > poor Black and Latinos suffered disproportionately in the US.

      Stochastic eugenicism.

      So far as I can tell — and I don’t track Covid origins in detail — all the issues are about process (which is corrupt, and bad, possibly unprecedentedly, though I’m not sure). But Proverbs 28:1: “The wicked flee when no one pursues.” Just because Fauci and his Flex Net act guilty doesn’t mean they are (and they may not have been sure of what Wuhan really did, and so applied the Precautionary Principle to their careers).

      There is also one of those Laws, which I quoted at some point and now cannot find, to this effect: “Neve assume you are smarter than evolution.” I think that applies to lab leak in both forms. Just because effects are massive and the, er, design is beautiful doens’t mean that humans are the source. That’s hubris.

      1. chris

        Totally agree.

        I think the intelligence agencies are only revealing the opinions about the lab leak because they want to create support for war against China. I think what Fauci and others were most worried about in 2020 given the early evidence was a huge PR debacle that would cut off funding. Like I said, coronavirus epidemics have erupted twice in the past 20 years and no one is alleging any lab related influence there. The burden of proof for a lab leak as the sole origin has to at least show how it could not have occurred this time too. From recent discussions on TWIV and other venues, it appears that the data needed to conclusively show SARS2 came from the infamous wet market was destroyed in the weeks following the outbreak. The animals were taken away and slaughtered, the processing tools removed, etc. We have recently had access to data that was collected from swabs of door handles and other surfaces. But that’s still quite a bit short of what was available to figure out where SARS1 came from.

        My larger point above was that in their haste to squash any dissention or rumor they’ve created an environment where what they’re saying doesn’t seem true even though it most likely is. In their zeal to use identity politics to shield them from having to do anything useful they’ve created a situation where denying racist animus itself appears racist. Why wouldn’t you believe that the same people who conspired to shatter the economy and bail out their friends, the same folks who clearly have pedaephilia running rampant in their social circles, the same leaders who complain of poor people “clinging to guns and religion”, could design a virus to target poor people they don’t like? As you say, that gives humanity a position I don’t think it’s earned. We’re not that smart. But if you’ve been on the receiving side of these efforts for so long… why wouldn’t you believe someone who said a virus was racist?

        I’m laughing only because I don’t want to cry.

    2. Pat

      This isn’t a competition with a winner, but in America I believe that Native Americans could dispute that Black people suffer more than anyone statement. Institutional racism takes many forms, for instance the Covid response in Native American communities was not the same as in urban areas but just as deadly.

      (And I think we can all agree that the United States government first showed itself to be agreement incapable with the many broken treaties and agreements with numerous tribes.)

    1. ambrit

      That whole album is good. My favourite song from them is “Fresh Garbage.”
      While looking up their discography, I noticed a banner ad at the bottom of the site that said: “Ukraine in NATO. Not if, when.” The propaganda is ramping up quickly now. WW-3 is not far off.

  9. Jen

    Our wonderful health care system. My dad is almost 90, has long covid (the brain damage kind), and last week went to the emergency room after his second bout of severe dizziness. They kept him over night, administered boat load of tests including MRI, and in the morning handed him a Medica re Outpatient Observance Notification, which basically informs him after the fact that he was not an inpatient (covered by Medicare part A) but in outpatient observation (Medicare part B). This means he could be liable for 20% of the costs, instead of none.

    They also required a COVID test before bringing him from the emergency room to his overnight accommodations, where none of the nurses were masked.

    I hate this.

    1. Randall Flagg

      I am so sorry this is what you, and your father, have to go through.
      May you both find peace of mind somewhere along the path.

    2. chris

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope you’re able to figure a solution that minimizes all the pain you two have to endure.

    3. ambrit

      Play with their minds and tell them in a week that you just remembered to inform them of your Dad’s recent trip to the Congo.
      Otherwise, stiff them, hard. It depends on the state but people can make a minimum payment on an outstanding medical bill forever and avoid collection. I have read that after a certain number of years, the hospital usually writes the remainder off as an uncollectable debt.
      Secondarily, if they kept him in the hospital overnight, as in he slept there and wasn’t housed in the ER the whole time, then you have a chance of having the outpatient finding reversed. Depending on the amount of money involved, it might behoove you to hunt up some pro bono legal help. It’s a hard task finding, but such does exist.
      Best of luck with Dad. Him first, you second, and the hospital administration dead last.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Otherwise, stiff them, hard.

        This is a purely exploitative relationship. You don’t have to play fair, because they don’t and won’t. (Big market opportunity here for enterprising middleperson with a business model rather like Travis McGee’s: Claw back X dollars for a percentage.

        Put up billboards: “How Much Is Your Hospital Screwing You On Your Bill? Call Salvage Consultants!”

        Pennies on the dollar!!

        1. Jen

          One option I’m considering, if my dad is up for it, is contacting a columnist for our local paper who is known for his acerbic take downs of the hospital and our small liberal arts college.

          1. ambrit

            You are triply blessed. First, you have a functioning local paper, then you have an actual reporter working for it, and finally that reporter is not afraid of the local power structure.
            Go for it. Convince Dad that this can be his finest day.
            All power to you both!

    1. ambrit

      As someone on the internets said in a video, the White House probably has the highest concentration of surveillance cameras to be found anywhere in the world. The Secret Service was told not to find the evidence.
      The gentlemen on the Duran today mentioned that Biden probably shouldn’t be President. He’s too corrupt, even for the District of Colombia.
      How do you say Teapot Dome in Ukrainian?

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! That made my hemorrhoids ache!
          “I’m ready for my ‘Money Shot’ Mr. Biden.”
          I believe it was Kornbluth and Pohl who wrote a 1950s sci-fi book based on the idea that the Mob ran America while the Government played the part of criminal syndicate. Bloody prescient of them.
          The common thread I can discern running through all the “prophetic” sci-fi and fantasy stories from the 1950s and 1960s is that they take the absolute worst case scenario and extrapolate from there. Unfortunately for us, their ‘worst’ has become our ‘normal.’ It can be plausibly argued that we now live in the worst possible world.

            1. ambrit

              Oh yes it would. Not to be confused with E R Burroughs’ “Beyond Thirty.”
              [Arguably an early Post Apocalyptic Romance.]

  10. britzklieg

    Should have posted this in the other day’s AI post. Two trailers for Netflix’ Unknown: Killer Robots



    Robots and war… scary stuff.

    “All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.” – Albert Einstein
    (Letter to Heinrich Zangger (Dec 1917), Collected Papers Vol. 8, 412, as cited in Jürgen Neffe, Einstein: A Biography (2007), 256.)

    1. ambrit

      That subject could also include self driving Tesla EVs.
      Scary thought; any self respecting designer of self directing machines will install a “kill switch”, a terminal back door if you will, to guard against “rogue” elements. The failure to do so, for whatever reason, will count as a massive failure of the survival instinct.
      Asimov recognized this back in 1942! That’s the first publication of his “Three Laws of Robotics.”
      As with about every thing else in this degraded world of ours, we have backslid. Next up, a real Butlerian Jihad?

  11. Dennis Szilak

    I had 7-weeks sciatica in PFIZER time-line. And it’s in Adverse Reactions, at least for mice. I went to ER twice: morphine works;
    oxy-codone, not much. Dogs got walked daily so I would stomp around till tolerable.
    Didn’t have B, as worked lots overseas—charged $20K plus; came out of one with only a clot scan, but already had that; came out worse than went in. Ignored the billings; property in Trust & and could always clean out accounts. Still working so garnish & I would have quit. Still working long past 80 & paying Soc. Sec. All along: Told hospitals to bill to A, as they can diddle a bill however they want. Stopped billing; but my daughter, lawyer, got in to this & maybe struck a deal. Push back on it all, especially that “no liability” jazz. They will always settle for less, if you grind it out. Don’t bother to sue; courts are owned by corporate-criminal medical care mob.

  12. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s)

    Werkend made up for last week:

    Seven passengers injured after Amtrak train derails in Florida

    LAKELAND, Florida — At least eight people were injured when an Amtrak passenger train carrying 163 passengers and 10 crew members derailed after hitting a semi-truck hauling cars in Lakeland, Florida, on Friday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.


    A 50-car train derailed in Minnesota

    Authorities said no one was injured in a major train derailment in Minnesota on Saturday.

    A Union Pacific spokesperson told Insider two of the cars were leaking hydrochloric acid.

    Videos posted to social media showed piles of derailed train cars that had fallen into a lake.


    A train derailment outside Philadelphia leads to precautionary evacuations

    Emergency crews are investigating a train derailment in southeast Pennsylvania, the Whitemarsh Township manager said.

    The wreck happened Monday morning in Plymouth Meeting, which has about 7,500 residents 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia. About 16 of the train’s 40 cars derailed around 4:50 a.m., according to the train’s owner, CSX.

    “While preliminary reports indicate that one car transporting hazardous material was involved in the incident, there is no indication of any leaks or spills of hazardous materials and there are no injuries to the crew of the train,” CSX said in a written statement.


    Today I spent 8-hrs tackling and fixing emergency electricial issues on my bike as well as dealing with elder-care– I might be derailed this week because of travel and additional issues. Maybe Screwball can pick up the slack?

  13. Pat

    Since competence doing the job as per the job description is clearly not important in DC it won’t happen, but a compilation of LawnDart’s daily derailments should be used if Mayo Pete is ever in the running for higher office again.
    While it is certainly not just his fault, the DOT is MIA on the issue.
    But in a sane world with a functioning press it wouldn’t just be LawnDart highlighting this problem.

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