2:00PM Water Cooler 7/25/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I conf[yay!]ess that I am once again more than a little plotzed, in a not entirely linear consequence of the last episode of plotzedness. So please bear with me. There’s too damn much going on! –lambert. P.S. I should add more orts and scraps, because the Covid firehose is out of control, but I’m going to go lie down the sofa with a cool washcloth on my forehead.

Bird Song of the Day

Bonaparte’s Nightjar, Way Kambas, Labuhan Ratu, Lampung, Sumatera, Indonesia. “Recording with Bonaparte’s nightjar and Reddish Scops owl in the background.” Nightjar’s seem to attract unusually eclectic accompaniments.

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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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“How Trump maneuvered his GOP rivals into a tortured position on his legal battles” [CNN]. “Even if former President Donald Trump is indicted for a third time, his dominance of the Republican White House race is unlikely to be shaken because of his years of shattering its voters’ trust in institutions that challenge his power. The Republican frontrunner has maneuvered his major rivals into an impossible position: a tortured balancing act of trying to take advantage of Trump’s liabilities without alienating his devoted supporters in the primary. If they fail to criticize his multiple misadventures, they ignore a factor that could undermine their party’s possible general election candidate. But so far there’s no sign that two and possibly more trials looming over Trump will convince most GOP primary voters he’s too much of a risk to nominate. The ex-president’s skill in turning the GOP primary battle into a political Catch-22 helps explain why no one in the party’s bloated field of presidential hopefuls has yet reached critical momentum in a bid to deprive him of a third successive Republican nomination. Trump has denied wrongdoing in all cases. But the failure of rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence to exploit the possibility of potential Trump convictions also raises a perilous question for their party. Does the GOP risk nominating a candidate beloved by millions of its partisans but who could again scare moderate, swing states voters and hand victory to Democrats? The dilemma of GOP candidates over how to treat Trump will be highlighted Friday evening when most of the field is expected at a Republican Party dinner in Iowa, the first state to vote in the nominating race early next year. ” • Extra bouncy rubber chicken!

“Biden’s Relentless Lawfare Against Trump Could Backfire” [Tipp Insights]. “What we have seen over the years is that every time the Deep State [sic] tries to hurt President Trump, his poll numbers rise, and he is able to fund-raise even more than before. It is an inexplicable reaction that frustrates Democrats, who fail to understand that most Americans are honest, ethical, and busy individuals, committed to caring for their families, attending church, and being active in the community. Most voters do not understand the complexities of national security laws. Nor do they believe that Trump committed felony violations by participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Voters may not remember their civics classes, but they know that Trump has always cared about America’s standing in the world. From the moment he descended the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015, Trump’s brand is that he wants America to win. Even in television interviews in the late 1980s and 1990s, Trump’s single-most consistent grievance against American officials was that they let foreigners take advantage of America and get ahead at the nation’s cost. For Trump watchers, the Make America Great Again campaign started more than 30 years ago. So how could such an individual wilfully bring harm to America? It is a question that baffles the average voter, and Jack Smith’s attempts to prove that Trump obstructed justice ring hollow. On the contrary, voters examine recent history and conclude that the Deep State obstructed justice against Trump in every instance since 2015. Russia-Russia-Russia proved to be a hoax. The first impeachment based on the Trump-Zelenskiy call was another hoax now that stories are being uncovered that Burisma executives allegedly paid the Biden family nearly $10 million in bribes. Trump’s request to Zelenskyy was to investigate those corruption charges – and the average voter would retort: Trump was right, after all.”

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“DeSantis Team Rolls Out Third Reboot of 2-Month-Old Campaign” [Slate]. “Now, before the summer calendar has even flipped its lazy pages to August, DeSantis campaign staffers are once again asking the nation’s political reporters to generate synonyms for aggressive. The New York Times reports that DeSantis’ team has told VIP supporters that it will be cutting costs in order to run an operation that is ‘leaner’ and ‘meaner’—they’re sharpening it, you might say—and that his campaign manager has issued another memo arguing that he can earn media attention with bold, provocative messaging. ‘All DeSantis needs to drive news and win this primary is a mic and a crowd,’ she writes. (One of Politico’s sources calls it a ‘Let Ron be Ron’ strategy.) The campaign is selling this as an ‘insurgent outsider’ approach, Semafor says, which is likely a response to the various reports that some of DeSantis’ well-connected insider donors are abandoning him for South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. (In a development so obviously ironic as to be insulting, the news that DeSantis will now be campaigning as a low-budget DIY underdog was delivered to high-dollar donors during a weekend retreat at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, a luxury venue in Deer Valley, Utah, where the cheapest available room currently costs $662 a night.) Long story short, the new strategy for this particular race is [leafing through pile of strategy memos] to have the candidate use a microphone to speak to audiences while embodying his own identity. Never say these campaign consultants aren’t worth every penny!” • Little Madison needs their violin lessons!” • Stein Eriksen Lodge… Ouch!

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“Is the GOP Signaling for Youngkin to Warm Up in the 2024 Bullpen?” [The Messenger]. “Almost every Republican with whom I speak was initially excited to have DeSantis in the race, especially following his resounding 2022 reelection in Florida. My Republican associates felt that, precisely because of his record of success and that massive victory, DeSantis was the person who could take on — and defeat — Trump in the primary. Since then, another reality has taken hold. As former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson once said: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ Republicans have told me they fear the DeSantis ‘plan’ is falling apart. They think overconfidence and inexperience led him to overstaff. There are other criticisms of DeSantis: that he’s wasting precious donor money; that he reportedly treats major donors condescendingly; that he doesn’t seem to like retail campaigning and isn’t connecting with voters. In short, some now fear, he has no viable strategy to take on Trump. Again, the Republicans who tell me this are among those who truly wanted DeSantis to succeed. They did — and do — feel he could have a real chance to win the general election. That said, many are now concluding that he’ll never get that chance because he won’t make it out of the primaries against Trump. These Republicans also worry that there’s no one besides DeSantis in the primary field — not even former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, or entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — who could rise to the occasion in the general election. That brings us to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.” • Let’s watch those schoolboards….

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“Media beg Republicans to ‘move on’ from Hunter Biden – because they know scandal is serious” [New York Post]. “What was most striking about the last hearing involving two respected IRS whistleblowers was how Democratic members avoided virtually any specific questions…. The only member who was unwise enough to venture into the allegations was Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and the result was disastrous for the Democrats. Goldman bizarrely raised one of the most damaging new pieces of evidence in the investigation. He asked about a ‘lunch where Joe Biden came to say hello at the Four Seasons hotel to a lunch that he was having with CEFC executives.’ He then read how Biden associate Rob Walker described the origins of the meeting with the Chinese officials to get his dad to stop by: ‘Hunter told his Dad that ‘I may be trying to start a company or try to do something with these guys.” Goldman asked slyly, ‘Now let me ask you something, that doesn’t sound much like Joe Biden was involved in whatever Hunter was doing with the CEFC, if Hunter Biden is telling him that he is trying to do business with them, does it?’ That is when whistleblower Gary Shapley stated the obvious: ‘No, but it does show that he told his father that he was trying to do business and…’ Goldman finally saw that problem and cut him off with ‘OK, well, that is true that Hunter Biden does try to do business, that is correct.’ The problem is that Goldman just elicited sworn testimony on how Joe Biden did in fact know about these business dealings despite years of categorical denials of having any knowledge or interaction with Hunter or his business associates. Goldman demolished the Biden defense in less than five minutes.” • Just a father who loves his son. And in fact, I’m sure that’s true (cf. Jer 17:9).

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* * *

Obama Legacy

“Obamas’ personal chef drowns near family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard” [Associated Press]. “Former President Barack Obama’s personal chef has drowned near the family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that the paddleboarder whose body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond on Monday was Tafari Campbell, 45, of Dumfries, Virginia. Campbell was employed by the Obamas and was visiting Martha’s Vineyard. The Obamas were not present at the home at the time of the accident…. In a statement, the former president and his wife, Michelle Obama, called Campbell a ‘beloved part of our family.’ ‘When we first met him, he was a talented sous chef at the White House – creative and passionate about food, and its ability to bring people together,’ the couple said. ‘In the years that followed, we got to know him as a warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter.’ ‘That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed. He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.’ The search for the missing paddleboarder started Sunday after reports from a fellow paddleboarder that he had struggled on the surface, went under and didn’t resurface. The search was paused late Sunday but on Monday state police said sonar from a boat located the body about 100 feet (30 meters) from shore at a depth of about 8 feet (2.4 meters). Campbell was not wearing a life jacket, police said.” • It would be irresponsible not to speculate: This only happened after the spooks opened Campbell’s safe deposit box.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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“Pew Research: Democrats Value Free Speech Far Less Than Republicans” [RealClearPolitics]. Pew Research: “Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online [70% vs. 39%]. There was virtually no difference between the parties in 2018, but the share of Democrats who support government intervention has grown from 40% in 2018 to 70% in 2023. A large majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners [81%] support technology companies taking such steps, while about half of Republicans [48%] say the same.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Look for the Helpers

Thanks very much to this doctor who did the right thing:

Covid is Airborne

I’m not sure the methodology for this study on a superspreading from outside air in a Chinese market is good, so I haven’t linked to it, but these tips on what to look for with outside air seem eminently sensible to me:

And about the market:

Once again, anybody who’s quarrelling with this because there’s no RCT just volunteered to be the control in a parachute study. Being aware of your environment costs you nothing except, well, denial. Granted, for some, a pearl of great price.

Censorship and Propaganda

About that stupid “You’ve got to get sick to protect against sickness” meme:


“Behavioral factors and SARS-CoV-2 transmission heterogeneity within a household cohort in Costa Rica” [Nature]. “A highlight of our study is that it provides real-world evidence that preventive measures within the household, such as sleeping arrangements and reducing contacts outside the bedroom, as well as household members and infected individuals wearing masks, was significantly associated with reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission within the household. Interestingly, our finding suggested that masks wearing by the index case is effective as “source control”. A recent household study conducted during the Omicron wave in four jurisdictions in the United States similarly found that attack rates were significantly lower among index cases who isolated or wore a mask. Our study emphasizes the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions in reducing infection risk and disease burden in the household setting, especially when vaccines are not widely available or ineffective in preventing transmission.” • Ya know, it’s almost like Covid is airborne. Also, vaccines in Third World countries like the United States are only available for a price, and in any case, no longer effective at preventing transmission.


“Special Considerations in Children” [NIH]. Last Updated: July 21, 2023: “The persistent symptoms after COVID-19 that have been described in children are similar to those seen in adults. The terminology for these collective symptoms is evolving and includes long COVID, post-COVID-19 condition, and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). The data on the incidence of post-COVID conditions in children are limited and somewhat conflicting, but the overall incidence appears to be lower in children than in adults (see Clinical Spectrum of SARS-CoV-2 Infection).69-73 However, given the high overall rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children, the burden of post-COVID conditions in children may be quite large.” • Oh.

“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.

* * *

“Kashyap Patel, MD, Sees Link Between COVID-19 and Cancer Progression, Calls for More Biomarker Testing” [American Journal of Managed Care]. “Since March 2020, the longtime community oncologist has seen multiple patients in his Rock Hill, South Carolina, based-clinic with cholangiocarcinoma, and these patients are developing the rare cancer 20 to 30 years earlier than the typical age at presentation, which is usually 65 years or older.1 In the past year alone, physicians in Patel’s practice saw 7 patients with this cancer, and 3 have died. It is not just a single cancer type, either. Patel and his colleagues, both in the United States and those he knows overseas, have seen patients with rapidly progressing cancers of several types, such as breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma. During an interview with Evidence-Based Oncology™(EBO), Patel said several did not even have time to receive treatment and died within weeks of diagnosis…. With COVID-19 added to the mix, Patel now fears a ‘perfect storm’ of factors will trigger inflammatory responses in some patients, causing cancer to arrive years earlier than normal and making it deadlier once it is diagnosed. ‘If you go back and look at the post–COVID[-19] recovery phase—we are coming out of almost like a hibernation—a lot of people don’t know how to deal with the stress,’ Patel said.” Denial helps. More: “‘Combined with the obesity pandemic, people didn’t exercise a lot with the fear of going out in the pandemic, and the alcohol intake has increased. All of this descends down on inflammation, and I think it’s creating a perfect storm between [these] risk factors, and we need to learn how to deal with that.'” • ‘Tis a mystery!

“Anxiety And Depression Are Associated With Limbic Atrophy And Severe Disruption Of Brain Functional Connectivity After Mild COVID-19 Infection (S21.007)” [Neurology]. N = 254. From the Conclusion: “These findings indicate structural and functional alterations may occur even after mild infection. The combination of anxiety and depression is associated with atrophy of the limbic system and a severe pattern of abnormal cerebral functional connectivity. The magnitude of these changes suggests an association with cognitive dysfunction. Further analyses are necessary to yield specific treatment targets to prevent persistent deficits and improve quality of life.” • Farewell, executive function! Who needs it?

Elite Maleficence

“I keep trying to tell y’all that there are many hidden layers to creating the ILLUSION that our leaders “moved on” from Covid, in order to convince people it’s over” [Stephanie Tait, Thread Reader]. “I keep trying to tell y’all that there are many hidden layers to creating the ILLUSION that our leaders “moved on” from Covid, in order to convince people it’s over. They still protect themselves, they just hide it so YOU won’t know you need to as well…. So in the end, the Biden admin didn’t LOOK like they were pulling the same ‘scamdemic’ playbook as Trump, but in reality they had the SAME goals but were just FAR smarter about how to implement them. Remember ‘no more tests, no more cases?’ Look around. 👀 They told you Covid was over, and systematically pushed folks to take more risks & drop all precautions, all while showing you Biden’s unmasked face doing all the things to sell just how safe it is now. If y’all actually understood the reality of what Biden’s admin has done, you’d be rioting in the damn streets. And he CERTAINLY wouldn’t be the candidate for ‘24. He’d be too untenable for them to even THINK about running (let alone without a primary.) It literally keeps me up at night. And people just clearly have NO clue, walking around like everything’s fine. Dystopian as hell. Phew. ” • Worth reading in full.

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, July 24:

Lambert here: As before, a distinct upward trend. Not seeing the upward slope of doubling behavior, but we are now — just scan the chart backward — at a level above every previous valley.

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.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 22:

Lambert here: EG.5 still on the leaderboard, but getting crowded out (?) by all those XBB’s.

From CDC, July 8:

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 15:

Lambert here: Notice the slight increase.

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.


From Walgreens, July 24:

1.5%. 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. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED 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….


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 19:

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: 1,169,629 – 1,169,351 = 278 (278 * 365 = 101,470 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 25:

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

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. The Manufacturing Activity Index in the Richmond area edged down… recording the seventh consecutive result in the negative territory. The downturn accelerated for shipments… and new orders… while employment levels rebounded. Also, capital expenditures increased… and price trends continued to moderate for costs paid and prices charged.” • Increased capital expenditures are what you want to see in a capitalist economy…

* * *

The Bezzle: “VanMoof’s failure epitomizes the problem with the e-bike market” [Axios]. “The failure of VanMoof — an e-bike manufacturer that raised more than $225 million in venture funding before going bust this week — is a stark reminder that buying an e-bike remains a very risky proposition. Any such purchase boils down to a simple question: Do you want to buy something that risks becoming a bomb, or do you want to buy something that risks becoming a brick? Anybody spending thousands of dollars on a new bike wants to know that they can get it fixed easily if it stops working for any reason. The natural way to do that is to take your bike to your local e-bike repair shop — but doing so with a brand-name bike can void the warranty at best and be entirely impossible at worst. Many big brands use proprietary parts and software that small repair shops simply don’t have access to. Since Faraday Bikes failed in 2019, for instance, owners have complained that they now have no way to replace worn-out batteries.

Between the lines: There are good reasons for big brands to mistrust local e-bike repair shops, like the one that exploded in New York City last month, killing four. If and when those brands disappear, however, their customers can be left with very expensive bricks. Electric vehicles, whether they have two wheels or four, nearly always come with sophisticated software that needs to be maintained by the manufacturer.” • And I’m sure that the same goes for all so-called green technology. Sadly.

Tech: “‘Voice biomarker’ tech analyzes your voice for signs of depression” [Axios]. “Software that analyzes snippets of your speech to identify mental health problems is rapidly making its way into call centers, medical clinics and telehealth platforms.” Call centers?!?!? More: “Hospitals and insurance companies are installing voice biomarker software for inbound and outbound calls, so that — with patients’ explicit permission [oh, yeah, right] — they can identify in real time if someone they’re chatting with may be anxious or depressed, and refer them for help.” • Eesh. If I wasn’t depressed or enraged by having to interact with a call center already, I’d certainly be depressed or enraged after I was “referred” for “help.” Bonus: At some point, somebody clever figures out how to hook this up to child protective services.

Tech: “Twitter: Sign change paused as police arrive at San Francisco HQ” [BBC]. “Workers taking down the Twitter sign at its San Francisco headquarters paused their work after police arrived at the scene. The sign change came after Twitter owner Elon Musk rebranded the social media company to X. Police in San Francisco told the news site Insider that officers at the HQ were responding to ‘a possible unpermitted street closure.’ The owners of the building were allegedly not told about the sign removal, local media also reported. Workers managed to take down most of the lettering before their efforts were paused, leaving the letters e and r in place.” • Oops….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 82 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 83 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 25 at 1:30 PM ET.

The Screening Room

“‘Barbie,’ ‘Oppenheimer,’ Even ‘Sound of Freedom’ — Audiences Don’t Crave IP. They Want Originality” [Indiewire]. “Two non-franchise films began their massive releases Thursday with partial-day shows, bolstered by stellar reviews and top-tier directors, in a summer that lagged more than five percent behind last year. The result: A combined gross of $32.8 million…. Results like these beg for hyperboles, and deserve them. However, focusing on the eye-popping numbers risks missing an even bigger point: Audiences are stating, in no uncertain terms, that IP and connected universes and sequels are not going to save theaters. The secret lies in investing in risky projects based on compelling ideas that challenge filmmakers and their audiences.” Barbie? Risky? Really? Maybe More: “The excitement for the [Barbie] film comes from a distinct, unique, even weird interpretation of the classic doll and those will be the high heels that future iterations have to fill.” I keep thinking Klaus Barbie. But that’s just me. More: “Fans of “Sound of Freedom,” the independently released child-trafficking story that’s now grossed over $100 million in just over two weeks, might beg to differ. (Metascore: 43.) It too is original and while it has little in common with ‘Barbie’ or ‘Oppenheimer,’ it shares a key to success: Don’t rehash past hits. ‘Sound’ might even achieve the unthinkable: It could beat ‘Mission: Impossible’ for #3 this weekend.” • Barbenheimer. I dunno….

News of the Wired

“Warning of a forthcoming collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” [Nature]. “The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a major tipping element in the climate system and a future collapse would have severe impacts on the climate in the North Atlantic region. In recent years weakening in circulation has been reported, but assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based on the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) model simulations suggest that a full collapse is unlikely within the 21st century. Tipping to an undesired state in the climate is, however, a growing concern with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Predictions based on observations rely on detecting early-warning signals, primarily an increase in variance (loss of resilience) and increased autocorrelation (critical slowing down), which have recently been reported for the AMOC. Here we provide statistical significance and data-driven estimators for the time of tipping. We estimate a collapse of the AMOC to occur around mid-century under the current scenario of future emissions.” • Yeah, but what about my quarterly results?

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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 doug:

doug writes: “I harvested garlic today ahead of the rainy weekend. Music is the variety. I truly appreciate all the hard work done by everyone to have NC available.” Anybody else got harvest photos? Shoot them off to me!

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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. Sub-Boreal

    Very envious of doug’s harvest of “Music” garlic. Until this year, it’s a variety that did very well for me in central BC, either fall- or spring-planted. Alas, some little maggotty critters have infested most of mine this summer, and I’ve probably lost 90% of the crop.

    1. doug

      Thanks. Ouch I am sorry to hear about your crop. I know those critters, some kind of fly maggot? I moved away from them 3 years ago, and keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe skip a year? or move to different area in the yard? Good luck.

      1. thousand points of green

        A question, if I may . . . . what in your experience are the hottest mouth-burniest varieties of garlic that you have ever had or known about? Which ones have you anecdotally heard about from other people as being the hottest mouth-burniest varieties?

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lambert Strether: Well, it seems to me that you have emerged from your redoubt and are spending considerable time convivially in the Undisclosed Land of Plotz.

    One must speculate: Although I am on weak ground here, writing pseudonymously from the pseudonymous Chocolate City in the pseudonymous Undisclosed Region.

    I’d venture, though: It’s the gin.

    Switch to something more suave and historic: Rye whiskey. The Sazerac cocktail, if made correctly, with rye, delivers a frisson of the odor of sanctity. Take up thy couch!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i concur with DJG..altho would quibble that regional variations be allowed –nay!– encouraged!
      here, in NW Texas Hill Country with the rolling plains of “The Big Country” just to our north, and the rocky desert to our west(a little bit further), and it being late july, and all…it’s beer, shade, and sprinklers…and ideally a cowboy pool to get into, under a leafy bower of heat tolerant vineage.
      currently 104 and 12% humidity outside of my environs.
      a good 15 degrees cooler in my wet shady areas…like the Wilderness Bar.
      Geese insist on sharing the love, and are camped right there in the sprinkler…so whenever i move a bit, a chorus of 40+ honks greet my infraction.

      to mix things up, i make margaritas thusly: 2 jiggers tequila, and a whole half liter of lemon lime pedialyte, and a splash of lime juice,in a full Yeti insulated cup full of ice.
      pinch of kosher salt, too.

      one can also take one’s dewrag/bandanner, wrap it into a headband, and wet and then freeze it…then either place on noggin, or drape around neck.
      kept us alive in commercial kitchens, even in the “Africa Hot” of East Texas and Louisiana, back in the day.

      humidity is, of course, the key in all this.
      i have no advice for the technical problems, aside from perhaps a hammer.

  3. hunkerdown

    “Most Americans are honest, ethical, and busy individuals, committed to caring for their families, attending church, and being active in the community”

    I know it’s a right-wing push-polling house, but the 4chan “most” does a lot of work here, none of it well. Yes, “most” Americans willingly reproduce stupid games for stupid prizes but that doesn’t make it materially worthwhile.

    1. TimH

      I wonder how many New Yorkers (or pick another city, say Pittsburgh) are “active in the community”. Or is that a euphemism for shopping locally?

    2. Random

      A very biased “most”, but I think it “mostly” makes the correct point that a lot (maybe even most) Americans don’t really care about the various legal justifications and see it as a political issue.
      Which it is.

  4. Jason Boxman

    I’m always slightly concerned when I’m walking the lake and there’s no breeze at all. Usually I don’t care much about walking past people, but when the air seems stuck, it’s disturbing. I’ll freely admit to occasionally holding my breath when walking past people.

    Stay safe outside!

  5. Carolinian

    Obama’s chef–sounds like a movie plot that even takes place on Martha’s Vineyard.

    A ghostwriter is hired by publishing firm Rhinehart, Inc. to complete the autobiography of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang. The Ghost’s predecessor and Lang’s aide, Mike McAra, has recently died in a drowning accident. The Ghost travels to Old Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, where Lang and his wife Ruth are staying.


    Just kidding. Pretty good movie though.

  6. Tom Stone

    15 Million in the US with long Covid and growing daily, a mass disabling event that is being ignored, for now.
    As someone who has experienced what it is like to have a damaged immune system I can state with some assurance that this will turn into a mass casualty event the next time we have a bad ‘Flu season.
    I can easily envision a third of those 15 Million coming down with the ‘Flu this Fall/Winter and half of those requiring hospitalization in order to survive.
    Which will collapse what’s left of the US Healthcare system.
    That’s not a “Black Swan”, that’s eminently predictable.
    Thank goodness the adults in the room are in charge or things could get really bad…

    1. ambrit

      “Thank goodness the adults in the room are in charge or things could get really bad…”
      You mean the Russians are now running Washington? Finally!
      Considering the quality of some of the senior officials in the Russian government, I would rephrase it as; “The savants in the salon.”

    2. Jen

      In the past 2 weeks I’ve noted several colleagues visibly struggling to find the right words during zoom meetings and remember details that they normally have an excellent grasp of.

      Oh, and a talk on pollinator gardens was postponed this week because the presenters and organizers are all “sick.”

      Stay safe out there.

      1. kareninca

        I know someone who is 75 y.o. has always had a fabulous memory for historical figures and dates, but now can’t remember them at all. But he’s never had covid. He has, however, been vaxxed.

        I’m totally safe since I have always had a horrible memory, haha.

    3. kareninca

      The grandson of a lady in my zoom church now has long covid. He lives in rural VA, is 13 y.o., and has it bad. He can’t walk down their driveway and back, let alone do typical 13 y.o. farm boy stuff.

      His sister is having severe personality problems that could have been caused by covid, but there is no way to be sure one way or another.

      Early on in the pandemic the mom caught covid directly after being vaxxed (that was a thing), and it dragged on; I don’t know if she is really better yet. This poor family can’t catch a break.

  7. ambrit

    The Twitter sign change extravaganza is a case of a short circuited venture capital process. The Twits failed to move fast enough and didn’t manage to break “it” fully.
    Elon should change the company’s name to “F,” for so many reasons.

    1. Acacia

      I opened Twitter this week, saw the “X”, and thought: “the cybertruckification of Twitter is well underway”.

      1. some guy

        And it’s deliberate, too; and not a mistake; if one assumes the secret goal is to eliminate twitter from existence to deny the ” non-right-wing” community the use of it.

        And I assume that is the secret goal all along. Musk can afford to lose 40 billion dollars in pursuit of his greater goal.

      2. some guy

        Now more than ever, Musk has opened a real opportunity for a Twittery company to emerge and fill the vacuum left by Musk’s careful and deliberately planned program of burning Twitter all the way down to the ground.

        If only a few hundred or a few thousand highly disgruntled former Twitter employees could somehow get together with enough money to launch the formation of a ” Twitter 2.0″ to be called “Cricket” with its tweets to be called ” Chirps”. I think it could really go places. I don’t think that Meta’s ” TwitterFace” or “ZuckerTwit” or whatever Zuckerberg calls his cheap knock-off Twitter-clone will ever fill that space to the total satisfaction of embittered Twitter exiles who will always remember what Twitter was and will always brood about what Twitter could have been. Maybe a genuine Cricket which becomes what Twitter was and could have been would turn thousands and then millions of Bitter Twitters into Happy Campers.

        And you know . . . now that Musk has abolished the name Twitter from the lexicon of current existing business, it would serve Musk right if such a company were to call itself Twitter 2.0. instead of Cricket. If Musk decided to sue them about it, they could say that since Musk shot the “Twitter” name in the head and shoved it into a culvert to bleed out and die, they have every right to revive and use the name since Musk is not going to use it any more.

        Twitter 2.0 . . . ! No Stench, no Musk.

        ( By the way, we forget that this is 50% the fault of that guy who sold Twitter to Musk to begin with.
        He knew what a human sewage lagoon Musk was, is, and always will be and he knew exactly what Musk would do to Twitter. And he sold it anyway, showing that he valued a bunch of money more than he valued his legacy. So lets all remember Mister Twitter, the Man who Sold the Village Square, and remember to send some hate his way).

  8. Deschain

    I think that’s a bad read on Barbenheimer. They were both very well reviewed movies that benefited from a lightning in a bottle viral meme.

    Right now the three top grossing movies this year are The Super Mario Bros Movie (new movie IP but very old video game franchise), Across the Spider-Verse, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Barbie will probably pass the latter two, but big franchise films do just fine when they are also good (and AtSV is spectacularly good). There are also a lot of other non-brand films that came out this summer that did almost no business at all. Joy Ride? The Blackening? Elemental was new IP and it’s going to be one of Pixar’s worst performing films ever.

    The difference between now and pre pandemic is that people aren’t going to the theater to see mediocre movies any more; they’re just waiting for them to come to streaming.

    1. ambrit

      True about theatre usage, but a chunk of us are not going to a theatre for any reason. Too bloody dangerous.

    2. Utah

      I think Barbie was considered “risky” is because it’s demographic is women and it was directed by a woman. Hollywood is sexist and a good-ol-boys club. They rarely take into consideration that women have money so they don’t fund movies for women and by women very often. Personally, I can only think of three movie directors who are women.

      Most movies these days are either horror films and/ or aimed at families and 90s/ 00s kids (super Mario brothers and Barbie are definitely for that demographic) who may or may not have kids of their own. I am one of those 80s/ 90s kids, but hate most franchise movies and I grew up in the sticks without a lot of pop culture influence.

      I’m not going to movies, because COVID, but Barbie is playing at my local drive in (one of only a few left in the country) and I might go see it this weekend if it cools down enough from this heat wave.

      1. ambrit

        Women are just as prone to ‘Group Think’ and the rest as are men.
        One famous woman director I can think of is Leni Riefenstahl. Another is Kathryn Bigelow. Both made propaganda movies for the extant Powers of the day.
        Hmmm, Penny Marshall, I don’t know that much about. Jane Campion is good.
        Old Hollywood had “The Women,” written by Claire Booth Luce which is more subversive than first appears. Old Hollywood also had “Women’s Pictures” which were a recognition of the non trivial number of women who determined what films were worth buying tickets to go and see. See some of those, like “Mildred Pierce,” or “Autumn Leaves,” and perhaps “The Blue Gardenia,” etc. etc.
        The movies today have followed the well known by now trend of neo-liberalism. Cut corners, dumb it all down, promote the “Narrative.”
        Lucky you to have a functioning drive in nearby! Seriously, I have fond memories of being a kid in the back seat of the family car at the drive-in in Miami back in the day. Popcorn and a drink and a citronella candle burning on the dashboard.

        1. Utah

          I don’t disagree about the group think. It’s human nature. I just tend to think that powerful men surround themselves with other powerful men and they forget that women have purchasing power until films aimed at women make a ton of money. And then they forget again.

          I didn’t mean to say that there are no women directors. I meant contemporary women directors. I’ll always be a fan of Nora Ephron, but she’s not contemporary.

          1. ambrit

            Nora Ephron was very good at human relation plots. As Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize speech; “..the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing..”
            See: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1949/faulkner/speech/
            Powerful men do indeed tend to surround themselves with “like minded” peers and minions. That is both a sign of their power and their weakness.
            Stay safe.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Amy Schumer was originally attached. Shes okay. On the other hand,, Ladybird was quite good, and Margot Robbie is at a nexus of stunning and talented few have hit.

        I think Gosling, he’s in the notebook (I’ve seen it, twice…) playing “himself” is a bigger draw than realized or signal to what kind of movie it is. Comical deconstruction can be good if you commit.

    3. bassmule

      I had to look up “IP Movie.” Intellectual Property. Meaning based on copyrighted sources. Like Batman.

        1. Late Introvert

          IP Freleng was an author of children’s books.

          IP Freely was an an author of playground books.

          IPTV used to be the name of Iowa Public Television

          IP is short for “Intelluctual Property”, a thing invented by Tech Bros.

          ip address is that number that sits behind letters like “nakedcapitalism”

          Did I miss any? I’m sure I did.

    4. ForFawkesSakes

      Barbie flew past Super Mario Bros in the box office. It’s sold out in theaters in my town for two weeks, most of those are megaplexes.

  9. Neutrino

    Lawfare as precedent setter? That is a dangerous game for politicians.

    You won’t like Fridays.
    Why not?
    Friday is your turn in the barrel.

    1. notabanker

      Me thinks it ain’t gonna be the politicians in the barrel. Hope you like pickles.

  10. Jason Boxman

    Just in case no one clicks through to the Twitter unroll, this is the treatment Biden gets for protect him from COVID:

    This is unbelievable. Biden visits a US high school late last year. His team engineer an elaborate air filtration and ventilation system. For single event. It’s dismantled after. Again covid is a class issue.

    It’s a photo of three portable air conditioners/air filtration systems with 10 hoses among them, all hooked into the outside of a building, presumably the high school. Although as Lambert points out, digital evidence is not evidence; The image doesn’t appear to be sourced, so who knows?

    This is certainly plausible, though.

  11. Carolinian

    Re last weekend’s box office–Sound of Freedom did beat out Mission Impossible for number 3 which must be embarrassing for Tom Cruise as well as fodder for the thesis that franchises are waning.


    Plus the usual suspects have been putting the hate on Sound of Freedom because of its tie to religious groups.

    That said, Lambert is right that Barbie and Oppenheimer are not exactly lacking in presold elements (Nolan is his own franchise) or examples of indies thriving via word of mouth. One is from Universal and the other from Warner Brothers with big marketing budgets for both.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Something to remember is that both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have just been released. “Sound of Freedom” has already proved that it has legs but it remains to be seen how the first two films will do. Another factor is that as the actors are on strike, the studios can’t have them running around the place publicizing their movies so that they will have to, more or less, stand on their own merits. I would guess that “Oppenheimer” will pull ahead of “Barbie” in the weeks to come.

      1. Carolinian

        Monday is tradtionally the slow day but yesterday still had high grosses with Barbie doubling Oppenheimer. For a movie to really have “legs” then people are going to want to go see it over and over. I doubt that’s true for either of these but I especially doubt it for Oppenheimer which is a drama and not a special effects movie. But maybe you’re right…..

        1. britzklieg

          I don’t know about the movie, and won’t be seeing it in a theatre if at all, but playing with my sisters and their Barbie collection it was hard to miss that Barbie had legs… boy did she have legs! We won’t mention what Ken had and didn’t have…

  12. Col 'Sandy' Volestrangler (ret)

    I”m super into conspiracy research but had Obama’s chef not had his safe deposit box opened, I’d figure- ‘people do have unfortunate accidents for real. “ This only happened after the spooks opened Campbell’s safe deposit box.” —whaaaat? Also someone ‘saw him struggling’ yet did not attempt to help. There’s something weird going on. People around the Clintons die ‘mysteriously’ all the time. But I wasn’t aware Obama was so cursed.

  13. Feral Finster

    “Biden’s Relentless Lawfare Against Trump Could Backfire” This is not because the arcane nuances of national security laws and just how Very Very Bad Trump is is beyond the average citizen’s comprehension, but because most people can recognize a witch hunt when they see one. Various prosecutors are seeking to imprison Trump on any pretext available.

    Hell, it’s obvious to me, and I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 or in 2020. Full disclosure: I did not vote for HRC or Halfwit Joe either.

    1. Pat

      Yup. And let me point out that Pelosi decided to waste time and money on two impeachments of Trump when she couldn’t be bothered to impeach Bush, someone whose high crimes not only cost America billions, but killed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Whatever justification you think there was for the second, the first was absolutely a joke and a witch hunt.

      I haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in three of the last four elections (wish I could take back that Obama vote and make it four, but…) . And the sad part is that as much as I dislike Trump, I have to say of everybody who was running in those four elections he is by far the lesser of the various evils. He still shouldn’t be anywhere near the White House even as a tourist. And I’m not sure if he isn’t also the least corrupt overall, although Mitt’s crimes will all be judged by his god as the laws are written to allow the type of theft and fraud he largely participated in.

      1. some guy

        The reason Pelosi obstructed even so much as Judiciary Committee hearings on possible impeachability of Bush is that Pelosi actively supported Bush and Cheney. She actively supported torture and she actively supported the Iraq War ( so far as I know) and so forth.

        Pelosi is a Cheney-Bush Democrat. She wanted Cheney-Bush in POWER and NOT just “in office” until the Very Last Day. That is why she prevented impeachment. “Waste of time and money” was just her excuse to cover up her active support of Cheneyism and Bushism.

        1. Pat

          Oh, I know that, but her zealous pursuit of Trump exposed that lie. As remote as it was there was more of a chance of getting a conviction of Bush than impeachment would take down Trump.

        2. pjay

          “Cheney-Bush Democrat” – Thanks for that. I’m going to start using it, though I’ll keep using “CIA Democrat” as well.

          1. some guy

            Thank you for the kind words of validation. Feel free to use it all you like and see if you can spread it around and viralise it.

            Years ago I heard David Emory ( For The Record/ Spitfire List ) give a program called ” Interrogating Nancy Pelosi”. It seemed only semi-coherent at times and it was a huge audio yarn-diagram connecting Pelosi, Newsome, J. Paul Getty, and numerous others to Hitler’s personal assistant Martin Bormann, by various hooks and crooks. I don’t have time to find it now. But I remember it.

            I am not sure how valid it was, but it was great fun hearing Pelosi referred to as a
            ” Bormann Democrat”.

    2. some guy

      If Trump broke actual laws, then why not prosecute Trump for it? Why let Trump get off Scot-free just because our rulers have let others get off Scot-free?

      The proper answer would be to circle back and prosecute all those others as well. If a successful prosecution and conviction of Trump leads the Republicans back to power and seeking vengeance, let them prosecute all the Democrats they like for actual crimes, and if those Democrats get actually convicted for actual crimes, then let them pay as well.

      Let many great trees fall in the forest. Let every heart-rotted oak be cut down.

      Full disclosure: I voted for Trump against Clinton. Then I voted for Biden against Trump.

      1. Pat

        But that is the point, will they actually attempt to convict Democrats or will it all be for show as much of the investigations and hearings have been. While I don’t know that this hasn’t broken that unspoken truce for the powerful that has been in place for decades, we have no indication that it has.

        And if you want to see if Alvin Bragg has started multiple proceedings against any of the other half dozen major real estate firms and their name CEOs, since most of what he has for Trump is pretty much SOP in NY real estate, I’ll save you some time. He hasn’t. Even though it could be considered an extreme black mark against the NYC DA that Trump and his company operated that way for decades. But crickets.

        1. some guy

          Well, maybe if Trump can be convicted and punished for actual violation of actual laws, the Republican Upper Classes will that the truce is over.

          ” Okay. We’re going to do it the Scanner way.”

          One may at least hope.

      2. Adam

        I’m sorry but the prosecution of all the criminal Democrats is never ever going to happen. I’m still waiting for the Jeffrey Epstein investigation and all those wonderful Democrats like Bill Clinton spending some serious time in jail for child rape.

    3. some guy

      High-handedly willful purloining of hundreds or thousands of the Peoples’ Documents and refusal to give them back in the teeth of over a year of Federal pleading to give them back, please . . . pretty please . . . pretty please with sugar on it . . . is not a nothingburger, It is a legal somethingburger and deserves a legal response.

  14. some guy

    About 2 months ago Lambert Strether reported the apparent absence of fireflies in his part of Maine and wondered if something had killed them all off.

    I voiced the hope that maybe the cold April and cold most-of-May had simply delayed the turning of the cycles which brings forth the fireflies in their season.

    Since then I have been watching my local area for fireflies here in Southeast Michigan. Over the weeks I would see a few . . . very few, then a few, then quite a few, and by now I see a thin sprinkling of fireflies all over the woods and lawn outside the back of my dwelling unit.

    I wonder if Lambert Strether has seen the slow, very slow, rampup of firefly numbers in his part of Maine.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      its the yardlights.
      if everyone switched to the redder end of the spectrum for outside lighting, it might just help them.
      even then, blue and green lights are better than white.
      i cant cite sources, because i’d never find it again.
      spring and summer, i do red, blue and green outside lights…geese must be able to see the raccoons in order to scare them off…and geese see best in the bluer end of the visible spectrum.
      but in winter, i switch to regular white lights, because coyotes are colorblind.
      (and are scared of yard lights)
      sadly, i learned all this likely too late for the local fireflies.
      havent seen one in 15 or more years.
      although they are still down at the river(20+ miles south), and both up on the mountain out back as well as in the dry creek a half-mile to the east.
      although in neither of the latter places are they near as abundant as they were 30 years ago.

      1. .human

        No yard lights here. I’ve seen only a handful of fireflies during the few hot nights we’ve had. As soon as the nights turned cooler, once again, none.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          idk where yer at….dry?
          they also need habitat(brush…azaleas will do) and water.
          i note that there were a lot more of them on that mountain out back when dude was actively running goats back there, and maintaining a pond with catfish….and i ran all manner of pipe–on top of the ground, to save $ on digging into rock and caliche,lol–to facilitate water troughs and the filling of the pond.
          but i think its a general thing…and one or two folks switching their nightlight regime wont make much of a difference at this point.
          they are, after all, drawn to lights…so they’ll just go to the neighbor’s uncouth lights, and be bewildered, and fail to mate.
          i reckon this is what has already occurred.
          and in much of the country.

          1. some guy

            I am in SouthEast Michigan, not all that dry. Certainly not compared to parts of Texas. But it was very cool over April and much of May. The corn I saw in cornfields around here was much shorter than normal for its time of year. I speculate that same lingering cold into May is what delayed the emergence of the fireflies, which started emerging more recently.

            By the way, I did see a wooly bear in April. That is not supposed to happen. They are seen in late Fall as they crawl around looking for someplace to enter the ground and slow-pupate and rest over winter to emerge as some kind of moth in the Spring. What does it mean that a caterpillar seen only in Fall would be seen in April?

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          they’re also mostly generalist predators…esp the larvae…so good o have around.
          from the relevant wiki:
          “The larvae feed until the end of the summer. Most fireflies hibernate as larvae. Some do this by burrowing underground, while others find places on or under the bark of trees. They emerge in the spring. At least one species, Ellychnia corrusca, overwinters as an adult.[8] The larvae of most species are specialized predators and feed on other larvae, terrestrial snails, and slugs. Some are so specialized that they have grooved mandibles that deliver digestive fluids directly to their prey. The larval stage lasts from several weeks up to, in certain species, two or more years.[9] The larvae pupate for one to two and a half weeks and emerge as adults.[6]

          Adult diet varies among firefly species: some are predatory, while others feed on plant pollen or nectar. Some adults, like the European glow-worm, have no mouth, emerging only to mate and lay eggs before dying. In most species, adults live for a few weeks in summer.[6][10] ”

          last little bit is pretty crazy and almost lovecraftian,lol.

          so it prolly behooves people like me to do more to encourage those that are left, even if it means capturing mating pairs at the river(hard part=making sure to have enough males and females)

          1. some guy

            I wonder if it would make sense to find out from your neighborhood entomologist ( if you have one) what conditions most foster the reproductive success of fireflies in any one locality, and then try creating and increasing those conditions right where you live.

            If you were to create good firefly conditions at your own place, any fireflies who found their way there would be able to survive, reproduce their own reproducing offspring, and give you your own firefly population. If the fireflies by the river were encourage to overpopulate their by-the-river homezone, the population overflow might go looking for a home, and some of them might find your place.

            Just a thought, to be sure . . .

      2. some guy

        But if the yard lights did not change in Lambert’s yard or in my own( where they didn’t) over the last few years but the fireflies did change, then something other than the non-changing yard lights was changing the fireflies.

        I continue to think it was the late-lingering cold. With greater warmth over time, more fireflies began emerging.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          seriously, it could have been for a myriad reasons…i know that night lights have an effect…think thats well established.
          but nature is complex.
          we had a six year grasshopper plague…frelling biblical.
          2 years in, i noticed a lack of birds…specifically the bug eating birds…flycatchers, and the like.
          turns out, county extension agent had been promoting a new pesticide to the hay farmers for a few years as the latest thing…
          dont remember the name.
          but it knocked back the birds that ate the bugs that were effected by that pesticide.
          somebody somewhere noticed it much quicker than i did(such actions take a lot of time and effort), and got it pulled.
          i bulked up the local flock, made a bunch of birdhouses and hung them all over the place, and dumped bags of scratch into the pasture for 2 winters, and we have birds again..and normal grasshopper populations.
          remove…or just modify…some lil part of a complex system(bug eating birds, especially flycatchers, in my case), and you never know whats gonna happen.

          since all that, we’ve had a proliferation of all manner of ground beetles…who happen to eat grasshopper eggs.
          and my lizard friends have made a bunch of babies, as well…for the same reason.
          “Cow ants”/”Velvet ants”, too.
          one hand takes away, another gives.

    2. Wukchumni

      No fireflies out west, but we do have glowing millipedes…

      ON THE FOREST FLOOR OF Sequoia National Park, there are countless hidden insects and things that crawl, but only one boldly makes its presence known every night by lighting up its entire body to scare off predators.

      Millipedes can make a juicy meal for larger predators, so brightly glowing millipedes might seem like easy prey. However the Motyxia millipedes (Motyxia sequoia alia) that gather among the roots and branches of Sequoia’s ancient trees use their natural bioluminescence as a warning to potential predators, as the tiny bugs secrete a surprising amount of cyanide as a defensive mechanism.

      When mice go to consume the brightly lit bugs, they are treated to a strong, if not fatal dose, of the poison. Studies have shown that the mice remember these bad experiences, and often avoid glowing creatures from then on.

      Ironically, though the millipedes broadcast their location to predators, they can’t see each other since their species does not have eyes. And while some centipedes known as “fire centipedes” can secrete a glowing substance, Motyxia is the only known glowing millipede.

      The bugs are easy enough for humans to find; simply look for an orange, flat millipede around five centimeters long foraging on the forest floor at night. Amateur entomologists can also search with their noses since these insects are also called the “almond scented millipede” due to the characteristic almond smell of hydrogen cyanide. But beware, while the amount of cyanide the insects produce is not fatal to humans, it certainly isn’t healthy.


    3. Onward to Dystopia

      I’m in Georgia, and I can say this is the first summer in all of my 40+ years that I’ve yet to see a single firefly / lightnin’ bug.
      I’m sorry to report, the mosquito population however, it’s doing better than ever before. Yesterday after some yardwork a neighbor came over and stood in the yard and talked about an hour, I had DEET on, he didn’t and he got bit at least once every thirty seconds we weren’t moving around.

    4. Swamp Yankee

      SE Massachusetts here. I’m having the best firefly year in, well, years.

      I think others have noticed it locally based on social media radio traffic, across several Towns. In my and my neighbor’s yards/woods/brush, which I de facto manage, I think I created habitat they like by cutting paths, mostly for air and to pick berries and grapes. The land is a mixture of upland forests, meadow, clover, Concord grape thickets, red maple and white oak forest, and saltmarsh, backing onto a brackish inlet of the sea (I grew up here; I was here before the money people moved in, the local cottager class — again, near 1:1 with England).

      I do think the excess carbon is causing the plants to just go through the roof in growth rates — everything locally looks thick, rank, late August verdure, like no previous year — the Concord grapes in particular are going wild. Utterly out of control. On the upside, they produce excellent fruit. I see how Vinland got its name during the Medieval Warm Period.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I would say this is a below average year for fireflies in my neck of resort southern Wisconsin, and they were definitely late. But not rare by any means.
        What is super-weird is that we are going on three years straight of virtually no mosquitos. Presumably at least partly because we have been in drought for most of that time. Not that I’m complaining. Plenty of ticks, though.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    Third launch of a two-month old campaign?

    Thanks for this one, I needed a good laugh.

    This does, however, speak the virtues of plastic when manufacturing a political candidate. Plastic can be molded and remolded as many times as necessary. In fact, this could be the premise for a truly Dickian SF TV series! Each time the candidate flubs, the staff disposes of them by various comic means, then 3-D prints a new copy. Kind of like killing Kenny in every episode of South Park but with more of a Vincent Price vibe.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Didn’t Hillary have the same problem during her failed campaign? That she had to be “introduced” to the voting pubic several times but each attempt fizzled because everybody knew who she was and what she was all about? I’m going to say the quite bit out loud. DeSantis is toast.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Among their myriad faults, neolibz don’t believe negatives accumulate despite it being an infamous truism.

      2. griffen

        It’s all a win for the consultants and the attached “experts” advising these campaigns. Well we aren’t very good at marketing this person for this/that/other, but once again we try.

        Let’s do this one more time, with feeling !

    1. Howard Beale IV

      If West survives until the general, he’ll likely wind up making Trump the winner, just like what happens in 2016.

      1. ambrit

        If Biden ends up the Democrat Party nominee for 2024, Trump will win. With a bench full of superannuated politicos, the Democrat Party is the Zombis Party in truth.
        A new George Romero film idea: “Night of the Living Dems.”

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > If Biden ends up the Democrat Party nominee for 2024, Trump will win.

          Yep. At this stage … all #TeamBlue can try to do is disqualify/stop Trump from running … and they will fail at that.

        2. Hepativore

          My boomer parents are in full-on Trump Derangement Syndrome. No matter how much I point out that the Democratic Party agrees with the Republican Party 90% of the time, and that the DNC has no intention of carrying out any of the things that it supposedly stands for as well as the fact that Biden practically refused to do any of the things he campaigned for, they dismiss any and all detractors as “right-wingers” even if all of the critiques are coming from left-independent media sources, and they praise Biden for doing an excellent job as president. They are also still hardcore Russiagaters. It is like they have a block in their minds that refuses to acknowledge how much the Democratic Party has failed them and everybody else.

          The Democratic Party has not been FDR’s party for several decades. What does it take for it to sink into the heads of political “normies” that the Democratic Party is not “left-wing” at all for the most part? It is but a center-right party with the veneer of being leftist because of a few moderate stances on social issues. However, the Democrats will not lift a finger to defend any of the latter if it comes down to it, because they are only used as platitudes for the sake of fundraising as the DNC does not want to lose its talking points by actually solving things that it could otherwise use to fearmonger and raise money over.

          I can define what the Democratic Party is for Yves and Lambert. It was stripped down by the third way Democrats to become a fundraising engine operating under the illusion of a political party that was retrofitted to aid and support its members and leadership in personally enriching themselves from their wealthy clients and donors. Like any wealthy private club, those members who do not follow club policies will be rebuked or thwarted by their fellow members when it comes to any degree of advancement or influence, while those who behave can use their political offices as a stepping stone to become corporate lobbyists in cushy, well-paid jobs which was the eventual true goal of even seeking office in the first place, not getting elected in of itself.

          1. Acacia

            What does it take for it to sink into the heads of political “normies” that the Democratic Party …

            This is the question I now end up asking myself after most discussions with USians that I know.

          2. Acacia

            P.S.: I agree with your last paragraph w.r.t. the Democrat party.

            I wonder if we could add that it increasingly resembles a corporate cult, insofar as it is very accomplished at manipulating its followers en masse to suspend rational thought, to refuse to question what “the party” is doing, and instead to believe something that is manifestly disconnected from what, in fact, the cult is really concerned with.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Yeah, 2014, 2010, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1994, and Team Blue underperformance over the years, it’s always someone else’s fault.

        In 2000, it was the Supremes, but it was easier to blame Nader than address the theft of the election and the gross incompetence if Team Clinton. Neera is a WH star…so I guess get used to Trump.

      3. Dr. John Carpenter

        If the Dems can’t beat Trump, they deserve to lose, just like what happened in 2016.

    2. britzklieg

      Democrats are “beyond redemption.”

      Now that’s what I’m talking about.

      No explaining required.

      Politesse oblige, be damned

  16. JBird4049

    >>>“Warning of a forthcoming collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation”

    Well, good. There is good chance that I will get to see Europe freeze and the Gulf of Mexico boil. The Gulf Stream/Atlantic conveyer are part of the same massive ocean current that ships warm and cold water about, which smooths out the temperature, If it shuts off, the climate changes drastically. We might get the ice cap back and eventually this circulation would return. Eventually. I would think that the majority of Europeans who have some Neanderthal ancestry might appreciate that fact.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      RealClimate.org just posted a discussion of the AMOC: “What is happening in the Atlantic Ocean to the AMOC?” This discussion references the Nature paper in the link just above its conclusion:
      “And today (update!) a third comparable study by Danish colleagues has been published, Ditlevsen & Ditlevsen 2023, [the Nature Paper:Warning of a forthcoming collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation] which expects the tipping point already around 2050, with a 95% uncertainty range for the years 2025-2095. Individual studies always have weaknesses and limitations, but when several studies with different data and methods point to a tipping point that is already quite close, I think this risk should be taken very seriously.

      From the conclusion in RealClimate:
      “Timing of the critical AMOC transition is still highly uncertain, but increasingly the evidence points to the risk being far greater than 10 % during this century – even rather worrying for the next few decades. The conservative IPCC estimate, based on climate models which are too stable and don’t get the full freshwater forcing, is in my view outdated now.”

      There is report referred to in the conclusion: “Climate Tipping Points: INSIGHTS FOR EFFECTIVE POLICY ACTION” available for free download as a pdf file: “Climate Tipping Points: INSIGHTS FOR EFFECTIVE POLICY ACTION”

      and one short and one long video presentation by the RealClimate author.

      [I have not read the Nature Report yet, nor the Tipping Points Report, nor watched the videos — overwhelmed.] These could become very interesting times indeed.

      1. chris

        Time to watch “The Day After Tomorrow” again. I always like the part where people are trying to cross into Mexico illegally fo escape the cold…

        1. JBird4049

          It would not get that cold, that fast, as to get that point in the film would probably take decades, if ever. It is not the total amount of energy that would be decreasing worldwide, but its distribution. However, record cold within a year with bonus massive crop failures? IIRC, no problem at all.

  17. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Train derailment reported in Spartanburg County, South Carolina

    A train derailment has been reported in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

    The derailment happened near Highway 290 on the property of the Toray plant, according to Communications Manager for Spartanburg County Scottie Kay.

    WYFF News 4 is still gathering information. Sky 4 is on the way to the area.


    Amtrak: ‘Empire Builder’ passenger train delayed along the Hi-Line

    Amtrak says that as of 3:23 pm, due to equipment issues on the Empire Builder Train, no customers will be boarded between Malta (MAL) and St. Cloud (SCD).

    Witness reports indicate that one of the rail cars partially derailed several miles west of Havre, but all cars remain upright.


    Woo-hoo!!! Jackpot! $1M ÷ 88k people = cancer be damned– you’re covered!

    Norfolk Southern gives $1M to western Pennsylvania communities affected by East Palestine train derailment

    As communities in western Pennsylvania continue to reel from the catastrophic Norfolk Southern derailment nearly six months ago, the railroad has committed $1 million to aid ongoing recovery efforts.

    Christina Siceloff, who lives 5.8 miles away from the derailment site in South Beaver Township, is skeptical the funds will go where they’re needed most.

    She wants the money to help people with water filtration and air purifiers, as well as independent testing for homes and health testing.

    Siceloff is frustrated that resources for Pennsylvanians like herself are slim. She hasn’t been able to secure testing from the Department of Environmental Protection because of her location, so she sought out independent testing for her home in May and awaits results.

    The health clinic set up in Darlington Township in February shut down after a few weeks. She has trouble connecting with her representatives and with no local forums, there’s few avenues to communicate concerns, she said.

    “It feels like six months later, we’re still in February,” she said.


    1. Amfortas the hippie

      since they’re already exposed,take that million bucks, suit up as best they can, shovel as much of the contaminated dirt into however many pickup trucks can be commandeered, and take it to the frelling whitehouse, and drop it off…with a sign concerning where it came from.(other locations are good dumping grounds, too…like all around that frelling golden bull…or in front of the Chicago Board of Trade(prolly closer than the east coast)…or wherever the parent corpse of the railroad is domiciled)
      i’d bet $10 that would make the evening news.
      pro-tip: leave all firearms at home.
      spectacle, plus making it biden’s(etc) problem, on biden’s(etc) doorstep.
      “They” aint gonna care unless they are made to care.

      waves to nsa…this is all, of course, mere speculative fiction, for educational purposes.
      “Land of the free, home of the brave…” and all that…

      1. LawnDart

        Re; (Almost) Daily D̶e̶r̶a̶i̶l̶m̶e̶n̶t̶… Equipment Issue(s):

        DC closer to the spill than CBOT by half; “They” ain’t gonna care unless they are made to care is exactly right.

        Norfolk Southern President, CEO, and Harvard alumn Alan Shaw… a Martha’s Vineyard or Hamptons kind of guy? Wonder what his neighbors might think of a “toxic” cloud of smoke drifting through the Labor Day cookout?

        Ultimate Colored Smoke Bomb

        “Adult supervision is required.”


        1. upstater

          No stink bomb recipes? Putrescine or cadaverine (with lingering, permeating and sticky properties) would be nice for such monsters.

          1. some guy

            Or even just some butyric acid ( which is supposed to be the active stench ingredient in gingko “fruits”)

  18. flora

    From Redacted News. utube. starts at the point they start discussing the new BIS statements about Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

    The WEF plan to control our lives just scored a BIG win | Redacted with Natali and Clayton Morris


    Sounds like theft to me. Follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and “just say ‘no’.” / ;)

  19. Old Sarum

    “X” can signify “close” and it is ever-present on my computer screen (but not my phone). Perhaps the choice of x is a case of nominative determinism and “He” will end up to shutting it down as he’s got more than one vanity project too many.


    1. aletheia33

      he seems so determined to shut it down–one has to wonder if that was the intent of his taking it over.

  20. marym

    > “Biden’s Relentless Lawfare Against Trump”

    It seems elitist to propose that “most voters” would be “baffled” by the Trump documents case. Some may think what he did wasn’t so serious, or that others have done worse and gotten away with it, or that he deserves a pass because Russiagate, etc. were unjustified; but the charges aren’t baffling. They’re very straightforward. Jury trials and Our Democracy, such as it is, depend on the understanding of most ordinary Americans.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “VanMoof’s failure epitomizes the problem with the e-bike market”

    Emblematic of the times that we live in. Something that is difficult to repair and perhaps impossible if you live in the wrong area. Is expensive, may be bricked according to the vagaries of “the market” if the company that built it goes under – or is simply bought out. Whose batteries alone are a danger as they may burn by themselves or even explode. So maybe an ordinary bike may be preferable?

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > So maybe an ordinary bike may be preferable?

      The tech bros wanna crapify everything by ” faux reinvention a.k.a. disruption”, and then extracting rents

      “e-bike market”


      There’s a bike market, alright … and what the market just said is, nobody wants e-bikes to the tune of hundreds of millions of VC dollars.

  22. NotTimothyGeithner

    Err…Bronny? I feel like Lebron James’ kid going into cardiac arrest is a story. It could be a number of things, but yeah, if a kid getting the “best of” everything is having these issues, there is likely a problem with youth sports. I’m including covid, but the intensity of nonsense can be an issue too.

    1. britzklieg

      Whatever the cause it’s damn sad. One suspects he’ll never play again, but then again it’s hard to forget Pete Maravich’s college career and decade of professional roundball magic with only 1/2 a functioning heart.

    2. griffen

      Definitely perks up the ears upon hearing that news, which I learned from watching the 5pm Eastern hour on ESPN. Their round of daily talk/game shows lead with that story instead of the star RB signing a one – year ( almost a one-off ? ) contract with the New York (football) Giants.

      Begs the ongoing question, what is unknown about these vaccinations and ongoing impacts for young, healthy individuals. One would assume, just on its face, the younger James is the epitome of good health and good nutrition.

  23. britzklieg

    I’ve just one small bone to pick with Stephanie Tait’s devastating thread about the Dems horrid response to covid since the wretched Biden was elected. She uses the word “smarter” in describing how the his team has hidden the truth about the pandemic. I’d suggest the word “devious” is more apt… perhaps “pernicious” is even better.

  24. ChrisRUEcon

    #Politics #DeSantis

    > DeSantis Team Rolls Out Third Reboot of 2-Month-Old Campaign


    First, you try the three finger salute … then you do the soft reboot (CMD line restart) … then you just yank the power cord out and wait five minutes before plugging it back in.

    LOL … it’s not even August yet.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #Politics #Youngkin

      I can see Yves smiling all the way across the Pacific!! :)

      The House Of Timbaland is rising! Let’s see if he – unlike DeSantis – actually has a plan.

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