2:00PM Water Cooler 7/27/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Swamp Nightjar, Minziro Forest Reserve, Kagera, Tanzania. If this lasted an hour, it would be great to fall asleep to…

* * *


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

Biden Administration

“Where is DOT’s Freight Office?” [Freight Waves]. ” The U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to stand up a government office crucial to freight transportation, a worrying sign that new infrastructure projects worth billions in federal dollars may not be receiving the attention and oversight they need. DOT’s Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy (Freight Office), authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) enacted on Nov. 15, 2021, was given wide-ranging responsibilities related to funding and coordinating the development of transportation projects. In addition to overseeing many of DOT’s competitive grant programs, the Freight Office — for which congressional appropriators recently allotted $7.3 million in the 2024 fiscal year budget — is tasked with carrying out the country’s national multimodal freight policy, as well as helping the private and public sectors share information on freight issues and working with cities and states to develop freight-movement expertise. DOT in June provided an update on the status of the office to key Congressional committees, according to committee staffers contacted by FreightWaves. However, President Biden has yet to appoint an Assistant Secretary for Multimodal Freight, a Senate-confirmed position charged with heading up the office.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“EXCLUSIVE: Revealed: Delaware prosecutor accused of ‘obstructing’ FBI probe into President’s ties to Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings is FRIEND of Joe’s White House counsel – who emailed ‘Love you brother’ to First Son” [Daily Mail]. Missed this one: “DailyMail.com can now reveal Wolf, one of the lead prosecutors in the Hunter probe, worked closely with Alexander Mackler, who served as then-Vice President Joe’s White House Deputy Counsel from 2014 to 2016. Mackler was also campaign manager for Joe’s late son Beau in his successful 2010 run for Delaware Attorney General, and was close with Hunter himself… While serving as a Delaware federal prosecutor, Mackler continually checked in on Hunter with warm, loving emails – as Hunter pursued a series of self-confessed crack cocaine and prostitute binges. ‘I just finished a hellacious couple months in court. Now that I have a chance to breathe, was wondering how life is on your end. Last you told me you were out in LA. Gimme a call sometime we can catch up. Love you brother,’ Mackler wrote in October 2018. On July 18, 2020 Mackler also wrote: ‘Love you, hope you’re good. Call sometime.’ In another telling email sent four days earlier, Mackler wrote to a select group of 27 friends and family members inviting them to an informal wake for a family member. The email, forwarded to Hunter by Biden deputy campaign manager Anthony Bernal, included Joe’s sister Valerie Owens, secretary of state Anthony Blinken, and former US ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein.” • Delaware is a very small state… More on the hearing, which supports Yves’ post here:

* * *

“Trump attorneys meet with special counsel, make case for why Trump shouldn’t be indicted: Sources” [ABC]. “Trump attorneys John Lauro and Todd Blanche met with Smith’s team following the receipt of a target letter alerting Trump he is a target of the special counsel’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump’s lawyers were there to make the case for why they believed Trump shouldn’t be indicted. Smith was present for the meeting, sources said. The meeting ended after an hour, sources told ABC News. The target letter, which Trump said he received on July 16, mentions three federal statutes: conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States, deprivation of rights under a civil rights statute, and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.”

* * *

“How ‘a hack’ landed North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on the GOP debate stage” (interview) [USA Today]. “The North Dakota governor officially met the Republican National Committee’s rules to participate in the August debate as of this week, he told USA TODAY on Tuesday. To reach the required minimum number of donors, Burgum relied on an unusual – and controversial – tactic: a $20 Visa or Mastercard gift card to anyone who donates at least a dollar to his campaign…. The governor’s approach isn’t a clear violation of election rules, but some have criticized it. Burgum on Tuesday compared the move to a business decision that introduces voters to his ‘brand.’ ‘We just said, ‘Oh, that’s the rule? Well, let’s figure out a way,” Burgum said. ‘We’ll do a hack, we’ll get around it. And we’ll do it in a way that’s completely legal and completely smart.’ He said it was also a response to the donor hurdle he said favored his more well-known opponents. ‘The rule was set up to benefit people who’ve held national office, people who’ve been pundits on national television … or they’ve been career politicians in D.C.,’ Burgum said. ‘It would oppose somebody from a small town, small state who’s trying to bring fresh ideas.'” • I dunno about the “fresh ideas,” but legal? Smart? Indeed. This episode speaks well of Burgum’s staff, too.

“The rise of Vivek Ramaswamy: A long-shot candidate ascends in the GOP campaign” [NBC]. “But that’s changing. Ramaswamy has blanketed the early-state trail as well as both conservative and mainstream media, embracing a strategy that has him omnipresent in the Republican presidential primary. That strategy seems to be working. On Monday, Ramaswamy stood at third place nationally in the primary field… ‘Maybe it happened a tad earlier than we expected,’ he told NBC News in an interview. ‘But at the time we started this race, I believed I was running to be the next president of the United States and lead a national revival.'” • Ah, “national revival.” A NH reader throws this over the transom:

Yard signs! I wonder if it’s still there….

“Vivek Ramaswamy: Democrats Not Letting RFK Jr. Debate Makes The Republican Party Better” [RealClearPolitics]. Ramaswamy on RFK: “We both respect the virtues of free speech, of individual self-determination and self-governance, of a constitution with three branches of government, not four*. And what disappoints me is that the Democratic Party isn’t even letting them debate. That’s I want the Democratic Party to be the best version of itself that makes our country stronger. It makes the Republican Party better.” • Not Dick “Fourth Branch” Cheney, but the regulatory state.

* * *

“GOP donors fuel RFK Jr’s presidential campaign” [Popular Information]. “Through June 30, Kennedy’s campaign has collected the maximum, $6,600, from 96 individuals. Of that group, 37 individuals have previously only donated to Republican candidates for federal office. Only 19 have a history of consistently supporting Democratic candidates. The remainder either have no giving history (30), have donated to members of both parties (8), or supported Libertarian or alternative candidates (2).” • Handy chart:

The “Pied Piper” strategy? This time from Republicans?

* * *

“Nine ways the 2024 campaign could go haywire” [Walter Shapiro, Roll Call]. “In a desperate effort to inject some humility into political prognostication, I have created a list of plausible events that could upend the glib calculus [Biden v. Trump] about 2024.” None of the items on Shapiro’s list seem out-of-band to me; I’m with Thomas Ferguson, who characterized the electorate and election 2024 as “incredibly volatile.” Hence I agree with the first item: “Since the 2000 election, we have endured 9/11, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a pandemic, an insurrection and a major land war in Europe. Are we certain we know what the voters will be obsessing about in the fall of next year?” • No.

* * *

Obama Legacy

“How did Obamas’ private chef Tafari Williams drown in Martha’s Vineyard paddle boarding accident? Unanswered questions surrounding the death of ‘fiercely loyal’ cook” [Daily Mail]. Note that “Edgartown Great Pond“, where Williams met his death, is not small, as “pond” could imply; it’s “an 890 acre (at high water) brackish coastal pond.” The Mail actually did some reporting, and interviewed a local. “Dr Edward Dow, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, told DailyMail.com that the water in Edgartown Great Pond could be ‘deceptive’. The keen rower, who regularly goes out on the water, said: ‘There are three things which could have happened. The police report states that he went down once and came up before getting into trouble… ‘Either he’s not a strong swimmer, he might have had a medical event like a heart attack of a pulmonary embolism or he might have been impaired in some way,’ he said.” But: “He wasn’t wearing a life jacket or a flotation device, and he was wearing dark clothing at night.” Neither of those two details make sense. Who the heck paddleboards at night? Wellie… It’s a thing. Some people do. And they’re advised that the location matters, and to bring a light, and a friend (and a personal flotation device, though the pictures of paddleboarders tend not to include those).

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

* * *

“The impending pro-war Democratic Party takeover of Pacifica Radio” [The Grayzone]. “Although Pacifica Radio established its pro-peace bona fides largely by countering efforts to promote imperialist wars and regime change operations, when it came to Syria, different considerations seemed to be at play. Instead, [Sonali] Kolhatkar represents a new generation of Pacifica hosts who enthusiastically embrace establishment media narratives. A faction within the Pacifica audience and its elected governance structure put forth Kolhatkar and another Pacifica host, Ian Masters, as prominent endorsers on their website, New Day Pacifica. If New Day wins the internal elections, listeners are likely to hear a lot more of them at the five major metropolitan stations (KPFA-Northern California, KPFK-Los Angeles, KPFT-Houston, WBAI-New York City, WPFW-Washington, D.C) in the run-up to the 2024 US presidential election.” Kolhatkar enthusiastically quotes spook cutout Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, for example. More: “According to a Pacifica manager who preferred to remain anonymous, New Day Pacifica ‘are aiming at having Pacifica be an adjunct of the Biden re-election campaign by as early in 2024 as possible.'” • Lots of lurid detail.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“McConnell has fallen multiple times this year, sources say” [CNN]. “Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who froze during a news conference Wednesday and earlier this year suffered a concussion after falling down, has also endured two other falls this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The first known time, in February, occurred in Finland when McConnell and a US delegation met with the Finnish president in Helsinki, according to three sources familiar with the matter. As he got out of his car on a snowy day and walked towards his meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, the GOP leader tripped and fell, the sources said of the incident which hasn’t been previously reported. He dusted himself off and continued on with the meeting. That incident in Finland occurred just days before McConnell fell in March at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Washington, where he slammed his head and suffered a concussion and broken ribs, which sidelined him for nearly six weeks before he returned to the Senate. And just this month at Reagan National Airport in Washington, McConnell was getting off the plane when he tripped and fell, a source familiar with this incident said. He returned to the Capitol later that day. NBC reported on the fall at the airport earlier on Wednesday. … It was the second time in as many months McConnell has had an unusual incident at his weekly news conference. The other incident occurred in June when he has having trouble hearing questions from reporters who could be clearly heard by the senators next to him.” • Commentary:

Meanwhile, George W. Bush is 77:

And of course Feinstein. I confess I bristle a little at the word “gerontocacy,” first because I’m no spring chicken myself, but also because the idea seems to be that younger people could run the empire more effectively when the issue is the empire as such. I also think that a functional political system (heck, society) would be able to take advantage of (to impose a positive spin, here) elders. Sure, the hobbits were young. But Gandalf was old. Bilbo, too, for that matter. It’s not just age at work:

* * *

“Conservatives Have a New Master Theory of American Politics” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “Earlier this year, I was introduced to a Republican at a small gathering. I asked him what he made of the new theory sweeping the right, which held that radical leftists had conducted a ‘long march through the institutions,’ seizing control of American culture, education, and business, and thus forcing Republicans to use government to dislodge their power. This theory has largely been associated with the new, Trumpier factions of the right that have risen up as alternatives to traditional conservatism. Since the man I met was exactly the sort of Republican the Trumpists are plotting to displace from power — (Jewish coastal elitist, donor, mortified by Donald Trump, vocally pro–gay marriage yet intrigued by Ron DeSantis, etc.) — I assumed he would express either ignorance of the long-march theory or else outright opposition. Instead, to my surprise, the only portion of my account he questioned was the word ‘theory.’ To his mind, the long march and its grim implications for the party’s strategy were simply an obvious truism.” • Since this is Chait, I assume the Republican is correct (or at least more correct). And speaking of NGOs:

A chorus of approval:


Can readers confirm?

* * *

“How Jeffrey Epstein Captivated Harvard” [Michael Massing, The Nation]. “According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, Summers—a former president of Harvard and the current Charles W. Eliot University Professor and director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School—had more than a dozen meetings scheduled with Epstein from 2013 to 2016. In April 2014, Summers sent Epstein an e-mail seeking ‘small scale philanthropy advice’ regarding his wife, Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard. ‘My life will be better if i raise $1m for Lisa,’ he wrote. ‘Mostly it will go to make a pbs series and for teacher training. Ideas?’ Summers invited Epstein to dinner, and they made plans to meet at a restaurant in the Boston suburb of Brookline. In 2016, a foundation linked to Epstein donated $110,000 to New’s nonprofit, which produced video content about poetry. After Epstein’s second arrest, in 2019, New—deeply regretting the grant—made a contribution in excess of that amount to an organization working against sex trafficking. The Summers-Epstein relationship opens a window into the interlocking of intellectual and financial elites in our era of bloated capital accumulation. The perks and privileges that the superrich can offer make their company and resources hard to resist. Top universities, in turn, entice the tycoon class with a mix of academic prestige, intellectual stimulation, and social legitimation. And no university has more to offer in this regard than Harvard. The school has come to have a mesmerizing effect on the American public, especially its most mercantile tier, for which it is a honeypot. Though Epstein’s ties to Harvard have received considerable attention, a full narrative account shows how this singularly [oh?] depraved individual without a college degree was able, by using a mix of philanthropy, charm, and personal favors, to captivate the nation’s top institution of higher learning, thus helping to burnish his image and conceal his long history of predatory behavior.” • Perhaps because, in the milieu of the superrich Epstein is the rule, and not the exception.


“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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Proper swabbing technique:


The elite know. They just don’t want you to know:

Covid is Airborne

“”Enhanced Ventilation and Cleaner Air in Buildings” (webcast) [National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine]. • Commentary:

I should really file everything by Jimenez under “Look for the Helpers,” because the aerosol community really gave me the idea…

Celebrity Watch

“Singer Tori Kelly Hospitalized for Blood Clots, Fans Asked to Pray” [The Roys Report]. “She is reportedly now undergoing treatment for blood clots around her vital organs.” • Of course, enormous online speculation about the pointing finger (vax) not the moon (Covid). Similarly:

Censorship and Propaganda

“The Logic of Risk Taking” [Nassim Nicholas Taleb]. From 2017, still germane. “The difference between 100 people going to a casino and one person going to a casino 100 times, i.e. between (path dependent) and conventionally understood probability. The mistake has persisted in economics and psychology since age immemorial….. Smoking a single cigarette is extremely benign, so a cost-benefit analysis would deem one irrational to give up so much pleasure for so little risk! But it is the act of smoking that kills, with a certain number of pack per year, tens of thousand of cigarettes –in other words, repeated serial exposure.” • This applies to repeated Covid infection, too (I file it here as an antidote to official propaganda).


“Fatigue Can Shatter a Person” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. “No grand unified theory explains everything about long COVID and ME/CFS, but neither are these diseases total mysteries. In fact, plenty of evidence exists for at least two pathways that explain why people with these conditions could be so limited in energy. First, most people with energy-limiting chronic illnesses have problems with their autonomic nervous system, which governs heartbeat, breathing, sleep, hormone release, and other bodily functions that we don’t consciously control. When this system is disrupted—a condition called “dysautonomia”—hormones such as adrenaline might be released at inappropriate moments, leading to the wired-but-tired feeling….. Second, many people with long COVID and ME/CFS have problems with generating energy. When viruses invade the body, the immune system counterattacks, triggering a state of inflammation. Both infection and inflammation can damage the mitochondria—the bean-shaped batteries that power our cells. Malfunctioning mitochondria produce violent chemicals called “reactive oxygen species” (ROS) that inflict even more cellular damage. Inflammation also triggers a metabolic switch toward fast but inefficient ways of making energy, depleting cells of fuel and riddling them with lactic acid. These changes collectively explain the pervasive, dead-battery flavor of fatigue, as “the body struggles to generate energy,” Bindu Paul, a pharmacologist and neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins, told me.” And: “Long-haulers might not know the biochemical specifics of their symptoms, but they are uncannily good at capturing those underpinnings through metaphor. People experiencing autonomic blood-flow problems might complain about feeling “drained,” and that’s literally happening: In POTS, a form of dysautonomia, blood pools in the lower body when people stand. People experiencing metabolic problems often use dead-battery analogies, and indeed their cellular batteries—the mitochondria—are being damaged: ‘It really feels like something is going wrong at the cellular level,’ Oller told me.” • Worth reading in full.

“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.

* * *

And speaking of T-Cells:

And speaking of brain damage:

Good perspective, thinking outside the box!

And speaking of airborne AIDS: “Lymphocytopenia” [MSD Manuals]. It would be irresponsible not to speculate:


Elite Maleficence

“The CDC is preparing for a winter with ‘3 bugs out there’: Covid, flu and RSV” [NBC]. The deck: “Vaccine fatigue is already here, although many Americans will be urged to get three different shots this fall.” I hate the way that supposedly explanatory noun phrases just appear, and then grow all over everything like kudzu. “Immunity debt.” “Summer sickness.” “Vaccine fatigue.” All bullshit, too. More: “‘We’re going to have three bugs out there, three viruses: Covid, of course, flu and RSV,’ Cohen said in an interview. ‘We need to make sure the American people understand all three and what they can do to protect themselves.'” • FWIW, I think CDC is bound and determined to treat SARS-CoV-2 as a seasonal virus because they have the administrative apparatus set up to deliver the jabs. No other reason. The picture accompanying the article really lets the virus out of the bag:

Leaving aside the brain-melting image of Cohen’s unmasked, smiling face — a tell of predatory, lethal intent from any high official, so far as I’m concerned — “attempts to manipulate” is really good; but even better is “Class III biological safety cabinet.” Has a Biological Safety Level 3 biohazard been in the news recently? Why yes. Yes, it has. It’s SARS-CoV-2, which the article carefully classifies, as does CDC, as “like the flu,” or like RSV. Also, another clear sign of institutional dysfunction: the PR person who arranged for the photo op and caption should find another line of work.

“Who Is Mandy Cohen? (07/27/23)” (podcast) [Death Panel]. “Bea, Artie, and Phil discuss the career and opinions of Biden’s new CDC Director Mandy Cohen and how her self-described mission to rebuild ‘trust’ in the agency is only half the story.”

* * *

Lambert here: It’s a little gruesome to see that none of my data feeds has been updated, even though:

Musical interlude.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED 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 22:

Lambert here: Increase is now quite distinct.

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, July 24:

3.5%. 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: 1,169,747 – 1,169,682 = 65 (65 * 365 = 23,725 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 27:

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

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 7,000 from the prior week to 221,000 on the week ending July 22nd, the lowest in five months, and sharply below market expectations of 235,000. Additionally, continuing claims plunged by 59,000 to 1,690,000 in the earlier week, the least since January, suggesting that jobseekers are quickly able to find new jobs. The result further underscored the stubborn tightness in the US labor market.”

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured durable goods jumped 4.7% month-over-month in June 2023, the most since July 2020, following an upwardly revised 2% rise in May and easily beating market expectations of a 1% increase. It was the fourth straight month the durable goods orders rose.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index fell to -20 in July 2023 from -10 in the previous month, marking the fourth consecutive month in the negative territory. The pace of decline eased slightly for durable goods, while it stayed steady for nondurable goods.”

Consumer Spending: “United States Real Consumer Spending QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “Personal consumption expenditure in the United States grew by an annualized 1.6 percent in the first six months of 2023, easing from a 4.2 percent rise in the previous period, advance estimates showed.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “House Judiciary panel plans contempt proceedings for Mark Zuckerberg” [NBC]. “A copy of the contempt report asserts that Zuckerberg and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, have ‘willfully refused’ to comply in full with a congressional subpoena stemming from the panel’s investigation into any efforts by the executive branch to encourage social media companies to moderate content on digital platforms. The report further alleges that Meta has ‘played a central role in this censorship scheme, frequently acquiescing and catering to the government’s censorship requests and demands.'”

The Economy: “U.S. economic growth defies forecasts, in boost for ‘Bidenomics'” [Politico]. “U.S. economic growth accelerated in the second quarter of the year, surpassing analysts’ forecasts and bolstering the Biden administration’s argument that the expansion is gaining strength. The government said Thursday that GDP grew 2.4 percent at an annualized pace from April through June, the latest good news for the White House this week after both Federal Reserve economists and the Congressional Budget Office predicted the U.S. would avert a recession this year…. ‘If one was looking for the definition of resilience, it would be the American economy,’ [said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at the accounting firm RSM], adding that it ‘continues to defy expectations.'” • “Resilience” is one of those words. I’ve been noticing it a lot, lately.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 27 at 1:45 PM ET.

The 420

“Mastercard demands US cannabis shops stop accepting debit cards” [BBC]. “Mastercard has said financial payment companies must stop allowing US customers to buy legal marijuana in shops with its debit cards. Because marijuana remains illegal at a federal level in the US, customers in the 38 states where it is allowed are usually forced to pay in cash. Mastercard said the move comes after it found some shops accepted debit payments despite the federal ban…. The crackdown aims to stop marijuana businesses, known as dispensaries, from offering the option to customers of paying with a debit card after entering their account’s PIN number.”

Class Warfare

“Low-wage earners are 14 times more likely to lose jobs to AI, report finds” [Axios]. “The workers most likely to be replaced by advances in artificial intelligence are those in lower-wage occupations, concludes a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute. This isn’t necessarily a story of mass job loss — these workers are likely to find higher-paying jobs in different industries, part of a broader trend already underway.” • They always say that. I still ask: Why is nobody thinking about replacing CEOs and administrators with AI? Given the herd behavior, corruption, and general cray cray we see daily in exective functionaries?

“Netflix offers up to $900,000 for AI product manager while actors strike for protection” [The Register]. The deck: “That could pay for 35 humans and their families’ health insurance, says human.” And: “In another move widely slated by the square-eyed crowd, Secret Invasion, a new Marvel property showing on Disney+, boasts an intro sequence generated by AI. Artists fumed that it was ripping off others’ work and depriving professionals of income, but the shape-shifting animation style typical to wonky AI effects was said to fit the identity of the show, which is about aliens that can take other forms to hide among Earth’s populace. How very convenient.” • “[S]hape-shifting animation style typical to wonky AI effects” means college dorm room-style ugly and derivative, like all AI “art.”

* * *

“Small claims court victory sends clear message: Sex work is real work” [Rabble.ca]. “Earlier this year in Halifax, a former sex worker won a precedent-setting case. Brogan, the plaintiff, took a client to small claims court for not paying her and she won! It’s the first time a court has ruled on the enforceability of contracts between sex workers and their clients. It affirms what we’ve been saying all along: sex work is work! In January of last year, Bradley Samuelson contacted Brogan on LeoList, an online advertising platform for sex workers. She told him her rate of $300 per hour plus transportation, he agreed and paid for her Uber to his apartment. She spent seven hours with her client, but after much wrangling, only got paid for an hour’s worth of work. What’s really interesting about this decision is that the adjudicator gives not one, but two reasons why Brogan won her claim – the first being that a contract was established, the second being unjust enrichment. There is also a third reason that she deserved to win, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the ruling: the interconnectedness of payment and consent.”

“The new sex economy” [Jacques Attali] “Could you name a 100% private company, which has never raised money from anyone, which is valued in 2023 18 billion dollars, or 8 times more than in 2020? Would you have any more ideas if I specify that this is a website, a kind of marketplace, where about 2 million sellers offer services to about 200 million buyers, for a turnover in 2022 of 2.5 billion? Still no idea? It is Onlyfan[s], a British website, which allows anyone to suggest a conversation, a photo, a video or a tailored erotic show, to people willing to pay for it. The variety of sexual services offered here seems unlimited….. It is said that sex and money are inextricably linked. Sex has always been an object of trade, more or less legal, more or less forced. Girls have always been the main victims, forced to sell their bodies to men and by men. On these websites, the constraint is less explicit. It is no longer physical. It is only economic. It is no less relentless. Many might say that the economy of pleasure in all its forms, which has always existed (including, some would say, in “bourgeois” marriages), will take on an increasingly important dimension, becoming, in the virtual, an economy of simulacrum and no longer being, in any way, related to reproduction; that the internet trade in simulacra of sex will be infinitely healthier, more moral, than prostitution; that no one finds fault with it; that these businesses are legal; that they do not harm anyone, not to the benefit of the environment; and that those who do so do so in a totally free manner. That would be a mistake…. Finally, because a sham economy is, in the field of sexuality, a form of suicide of the human species, which is moreover may already be in motion.”

News of the Wired

“Venetian Glass Beads May Be Oldest European Artifacts Found in North America” [Smithsonian]. “More than five centuries ago, a handful of blueberry-sized blue beads made an astonishing journey. Crafted by glassmakers in Venice, the small spheres were carried east along Silk Road trade networks before being ferried north, into the hinterlands of Eurasia and across the Bering Strait, where they were deposited in the icy ground of northern Alaska. Archaeologists dug the beads up in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Now, a new study published in the journal American Antiquity asserts that the glass objects are among the oldest European-made items ever discovered in North America. Per the paper, Michael Kunz of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Robin Mills of the Bureau of Land Management studied ten glass beads found at three sites along Alaska’s Brooks Range. The researchers used mass spectrometry carbon-dating to analyze trace amounts of twine discovered alongside three of the beads and date the artifacts’ creation to between roughly 1397 and 1488. Unlike glass, twine is made from organic material—in this case, plant fibers—and can therefore be carbon dated, notes Jack Guy for CNN. The twine used to date the beads was found on copper bangles buried nearby, leading the researchers to posit that the beads and copper jewelry were once used as earrings or bracelets.” • Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads….

* * *

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 RM:

RM writes: “I live in the prairie and can see for miles in every direction. I am visiting back in Michigan and am having to deal with these green tunnels on morning walks. It gets rather confining not being able to see more than twenty feet off the trail or most roads with trees in full leaf and the bushes dense.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. GC54

    Some “non profits” are such by paying their senior staffers an eye-watering “salary” .

    1. ChiGal

      I am amazed at the salaries some of my young (early 30s) clients earn working at nonprofits—one at Teach For America and another at the Make A Wish Foundation. I realize times are different but when I started out as a social worker my salary was around 30k. They both earn in the neighborhood of 80k!!

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Frodo turns 50 in book 1 of The Lord of the Rings.. Then he more or less retires to Middle Earth Florida.

      1. ambrit

        So, perhaps our Elder politicos are Elves? (Hmmm… I don’t know if I would characterize any of our Struldbruggs as ‘fey.’) Heaven forefend that they turn out to be Great Old Ones.

  3. some guy

    About those glass beads being the ” oldest” European-derived artifacts to be found in the New World . . .
    I know that the theory of pre-Columbus European-and-other settlements and arrivals and intrusions in this hemisphere has never won the Mainstream Establishment’s Seal of Good Brainkeeping Approval, but some good counter-mainstream books have been written on the subject.

    Here is a readable copy of one, readable one page at a time, called America BC : Ancient Settlers in the New World, by Barry Fell. Here is the link.

    1. NoFreeWill

      besides the vikings, there is actually strong evidence/plausible theories for possible polynesian and west african settlement of south america, arguably much more likely than any european contact.

      1. some guy

        Barry Fell’s book(s) is(are) very interesting in that regard and worth a careful considered read.

      2. Bruno

        See Cyrus Gordon, “Riddles in History”: chapter “The Paraibo Inscription” (Phoenicians).
        also C.H. Hapgood: “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings”: (ice-freeAntarctic, Patagonia shoreline).

        1. Bruno

          also, the Book of Kings reports that the joint venture of Solomon and Hiram (c.940bce) sent their trading ships from Ezion-Geber (Eilat) for three-year voyages. The most plausible route was through the Red Sea, along the East Coast of Africa, thence around the Cape of Good Hope and northwest across to Brazil.

    2. Raymond Sim

      The “derived” in “European-derived” is important. We’re talking about material culture. Transatlantic influences in material culture with limited population transfer is plausible. It’s even possible population flow was west-to-east.

  4. Big River Bandido

    Not sure whether this item would be for “Groves of Academie”…or “Elite Malfeasance”, but either would work:

    After less than two years on the job, Erica Muhl, the president of Berklee College of Music, “will not be returning” from a leave of absence. The Boston Globe article was (predictably) vague, but included some telling and salient details:

    • Muhl was barely a visible presence on campus
    • she skipped the commencement ceremony in May
    • her $2.8 million house (in Newton, of course) went on the market about that time

    But the key paragraph is this one: “Most of the Berklee students, staff, and professors contacted for this story declined to speak on the record. But many question whether the 18-person presidential search committee that recommended Muhl did its homework. Specifically, they cite Muhl’s handling of a well-publicized 2015 episode at the Roski School of Art and Design when all seven first-year students in the school’s two-year masters of fine arts program withdrew to protest what they considered to be unethical actions taken by Muhl [emphasis mine] in failing to honor agreed-upon stipends and teaching assistant positions.”

    The “well-publicized” link is to an L.A. Times article from 2016, detailing some of the scandal during Muhl’s tenure at USC. This is a profile of arrogance and incompetence in academic leadership. The search committee apparently knew all about this, but backed her anyway — gee, I wonder why?

    It’s easy to suppose that an administrator with 1) a personality problem and rigid leadership style; and 2) a history of making sudden changes to an institution without first building support, might anger a lot of people at a prestigious *music school*. Perhaps she was sidelined almost immediately in her tenure, by offending those she was supposed to lead?

    1. Raymond Sim

      Something similar happened at UCD. Her name escapes me at the moment, but the woman who came in under a cloud that should have prevented her appointment almost immediately began demonstrating absolutely stunning arrogance and adminstrative incompetence. For instance, she devoted much of her speech at an annual event honoring research staff to the need to reduce research staff.

  5. hunkerdown

    There is a doubled tweet under Realignment and Legitimacy and I still don’t care what Musk wants me to call it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I fixed that. Neither do I. What the heck is the verb for X? (OTOH, if Musk really can bootstrap a new payments system that would make me happy.)

      1. turtle

        Over on Lemmy, most seem to be agreeing that the new term for tweet shall be “xcrete”, and for retweet, it’ll be “re-xcrete”.

        1. Pat

          As amusing as that is, I still think the correct response to Musk is “you can call it whatever you want, everyone else will call it A tweet and the platform Twitter. “

          Sixth Avenue, versus Avenue of the Americas…guess what it gets called.

  6. Ranger Rick

    Re: new theory of politics
    Long before mass migration transformed the demographics in Colorado, people called Boulder (its main college town) the “People’s Republic” with as much contempt as they could muster. The local university has wrestled mightily with its alleged reputation as a leftist and biased institution, which reached national attention when one of its professors called people working in the Twin Towers “little Eichmanns” after 9/11. Republicans have inferred, with persuasive evidence that you can buy from any data broker, that higher education leads people to vote for their opponents. They have been aggressively pursuing control of school boards and advisory bodies to counter this influence.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      but that “Left”…or “Far Left”…march through the institutions(thus tying the two links together) yielded what!?
      a Far Left Socialist Utopia?
      anything at all on the “path” in that direction?
      Star Trek Communism running the show in God’s Country?
      the answer is “umm…No…”
      we got #Metoo and Woke.
      which, rather than uprooting and replacing the world these guys always pine for(neoliberal/neoconservative=domestic/foreign)…has instead further embedded it.
      it ain’t left…and not even close to “Far Left”.
      want to see that? come see me.

    2. Alex Cox

      Ward Churchill, the academic in question, was a fully tenured professor. He was removed at the orders of CU Boulder’s Republican regents, in violation of his contract. CU Boulder fired another tenured professor around the same time.

      So much for tenure!

      1. Mike Mc

        Retired to SOCO (southern Colorado) in May 2021. Told our friends back in ultra red Nebraska we were moving to The People’s Republic of Colorado.

        Nebraska, Iowa and to some degree South Dakota used to be Prairie Pragmatists – not too conservative, not very liberal, but not deeply beholden to any particular ideology. Now? Pffft.

        OTOH, saw my first “PEACE, LOVE AND TRUMP 2024” banner today here in purplish southeastern CO. God help us (but She’s not listening…)

          1. griffen

            Make Elites Crack Up Again! Make Inflation Lower Again! Make Classified Docs Unclassified Again! RussiaGate 2, With Feeling! \ sarc

            Probably could conjure a million of these. Sad state of affairs.

  7. Noname

    Director of Marketing at non-profit right here (moved from for-profit to non-profit last year) and can confirm that the life at a non-profit is stroking egos of rich individuals.

    They have SO MUCH SAY in what we do, how we speak, etc its almost nauseating. I’ve had them emailing me directly to complain about this or that we posted about on social media. They tore up our DEI plan that was an amazing document, it spoke to our past failures, how we learned from them, and how we are moving forward. These donors ripped it to shreds, didn’t want to acknowledge our failings (“but we are better than the rest so why should we talk about the past?”) and “corporatized” the damn thing.

    To leave you with a final example, a local business hosted a benefit for us on the 4th of July. They called it the Anti-4th Party as tonge-in-cheek and to denote that it was not a 4th of July party. The next week, our CEO was blowing me up asking why we were promoting anti-American events on our social media and that board members had complained and I needed to meet with them to discuss our 3rd party event strategies.

    One of my co-workers said it best (mods trying to be correct with language here):

    The only difference between a for-profit and non-profit company is who you perform felatio on for the money.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      why is it that those who “perform fellatio” for the Bosses, never seem to remember that they have teeth?
      chew on some jute rope, and do some damage,lol.
      demand concessions…(protip: print them on a 3×5 card beforehand)

      figger out how to fight back, people!

      1. ambrit

        One reason that the “vanguard” of any socio-political movement is usually small is that the seriously motivated organizers must be willing to die for “The Cause.” Not many people are willing to die for anything outside of their personal kinship group. As a direct consequence of this phenomenon, there is a non-zero number of replacements available for every apparatchik or worker bee willing to sacrifice themselves for “The Cause.”
        We need a modern version of the old type “Peasant’s revolt.” Organizing that will require a community to facilitate both communication and the coordination of action. This will require the reversal of decades of work by “Those People” to splinter and silo the general public.
        However, there is hope. (Not the Trademarked “Hope” of the Democrat Party.) Starvation is a great organizing tool. The supply chain dysfunctions trend coupled with the upcoming world wide crop shortfalls will supply this very potent political tool. [It was a basic cause of some of the “organic” colour revolutions, especially in North Africa. “The Maghreb Miracles.”]
        Stay safe and pursue self reliance.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i was letting a very arid wit have its head(!!).

          fellatio with teeth is just one tactic out of a myriad.

          the Boss Class simply must feel pain…and in every part of their life.
          it must be inescapable….and i doubt that the routine vetting of staff is as exceptionally robust as it is sometimes advertised,lol.
          i aint pretty anymore, or i’d frelling do it.
          these people in charge need to go.
          theres a pasture for them, here.
          ill put them onto useful work.

          1. ambrit

            I have to laugh at the idea of an American Cultural Revolution. For one thing, the Emperor Mao would be turning in his grave. For another, all the “Culture” jokes come to mind.
            “A Tenured Professor, a Hollywood Executive, and a Venture Capitalist walk into an Unemployment Office…”

            1. tegnost

              I prefer ““A Tenured Professor, a Hollywood Executive, and a Venture Capitalist walk into a homeless encampment…”

        2. christofay

          which is why the central U. S. government operatives team up with Al Quada Afghanistan and Nazis in Ukriane

    2. britzklieg

      One of my former partners was big in the “not-for-profit” world as a fund raiser (grant writer mostly) and it seemed that every new job’s principle goal was dictated to raising the salary attached to that position. The classical music world if chock full of “not-for-profits” where the administrators make all the money while the artists get the scraps.. and needless to say, appeasing the rich donors that keep classical music alive is paramount. There is always new talent waiting in the wings so anyone who gets a foothold on a career is decidedly replaceable, especially if the successful ones start to require higher fees. Should they step out of line, say the wrong thing or express a heterodox opinion as well, then it’s over.

        1. britzklieg


          In my first interview with the NYTimes – the result of winning a major competition – I mentioned how little money I was making despite the prestige, and that I couldn’t afford health insurance. The reprimands from my managers and the monied class subsidizing said competition were immediate and unkind. In my second interview with the Mighty Wurlitzer (I was singing Rossini with a “classical” orchestra that included a synthesized keyboard and electric guitar, and not as replacements for standard/acoustic instruments as is now a mainstay of Broadway orchestras (for to save money and to defy the union, of course)) I made the mistake of suggesting that non-traditional “bands” had a place in the traditional opera ecosystem. I got pushback on that too. But I had already strayed from the narrative (the interviewer/critic described me as having pursued a career “off the beaten path”.. and she was right) so it all rolled off my back rather effortlessly, I’m proud to say. When “all the news that’s fit to print” called for the last time wanting me to participate in a “Me, too” expose of a powerful conductor who had in fact helped my career enormously despite being attracted to me in a way that is now called sexual harrassment (It bothered me at the time but I came to understand that it actually wasn’t, despite the pressure it placed on me) I told said “Arts and Entertainment” critic to get a real job. Shooting myself would have been pointless and laughing about it was so much easier for dispatching the problem. C’est la guerre

  8. LawnDart

    Re; Non-profit Industrial Complex

    Oh hell yeah– a lot of it is make-work for the wealthy and well-connected, although those tax-avoidance/money-laundering machines don’t run themselves…

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    [Both articles have pretty-good photos]

    Train derailment in northern Montana spills freight, but hazmat car safe

    A train derailment in northern Montana spilled freight and left cars tangled up along a major east-west railroad corridor


    Coal train derailed near Ashdown still being cleared, transportation officials said

    A coal train derailed near Ashdown near U.S. 71 on Tuesday evening, the Arkansas Department of Transportation said.


    Somewhat related; more collapsing infrastructure:

    Thursday, July 27, 2023
    Texas experienced 27 chemical incidents in first half of 2023, nearly a quarter of national cases

    Texas experienced 27 chemical incidents in the first half of 2023 — nearly a quarter of those experienced in the United States.

    Data compiled by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters counted over 100 chemical accidents in the U.S. in 2023 so far, with Texas holding the largest share. At the current rate, 2023 is set to experience the largest number of chemical incidents since data were first compiled in 2021. The data show that on average, a chemical fire, explosion, or toxic release occurs every two days in the U.S.


    On the bright side, this perhaps offers a solution to covid-related brain-damage: we can grow more heads!

  9. Mark Gisleson

    The gerontocracy becomes an issue when:

    1) The money for staying in is too great
    2) You can’t control your successor who will quickly get filled in on all your graft
    3) Chances of actual prosecution skyrocket after you leave office (in office they just shame you)

    I don’t think any of them have a choice. They’re clinging to power like it was guns or religion or something.

    1. LawnDart

      I was thinking that it another sign of the sovietization of USA government… IIRC, no one left the Politburo until they were wheeled-out or airbrushed out of the picture.

      1. flora

        Secretary Andropov has a mild cold, only a mild cold.

        Secretary Chernenko is suffering a mild cold. Nothing more than that. / ;)

      2. eg

        This. I have likewise opined that the roster of US presidential candidates looks increasingly like something you would see on the balcony of the Kremlin at a May Day parade (minus the funny hats) during the Brezhnev era.

        Sclerotic, to be kind …

    2. The Rev Kev

      A side effect is where a gerontocracy suppresses and sidelines the next generation of leaders to keep themselves safe from being toppled. There should be a solid bench of Democrat leaders at the moment but there aren’t to the point that there are hardly any challengers to old Joe’s position. Well, except for Kamala that is.

  10. Feral Finster

    “The impending pro-war Democratic Party takeover of Pacifica Radio”

    St. Barack did more to neuter the antiwar movement than anything Bush-Cheney could ever have dreamed of.

    Once Obama was in the White House, criticizing the stupid wars was tantamount to criticism of St. Barack.

    1. Cat Burglar

      The uncritical coverage of Obama was one reason I let my KPFA subscription lapse some years back.

      On the other hand, many of the endorsers of the putatively pro-Dem faction have strong anti-imperialist cred going back many years. So this may be a more complex dispute than it appears on the surface.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        KPFT, the Pacifica station in Houston, still has a fine Blues Day, on Sundays…starting Early(and Zydeco before that!)
        they have as many technical problems as the college station i worked at, of course…and for the same reason:lack of funds.

        ive been listening to KPFT my whole life…but i can’t abide their nonmusic programs, any more.
        IOW< theyre already gone, over to the Cult of Moloch…he of avarice and rapine.("March Through the Institutions",lol—i wanna slap that guy)

      2. WillyBgood

        I have completely flushed KPFA from my listening after they replaced Letters and Politics with Background Briefing with Ian Masters during the 5am-6am pacific slot. That show is a vomit fest!

  11. vao

    Heard from an NBer this morning where testing throat only gives +ve and nose only gives -ve

    Can somebody tell me what “ve” means? Viral exposure?

    1. dave -- just dave

      Heard from an NBer this morning where testing throat only gives +ve and nose only gives -ve

      Can somebody tell me what “ve” means? Viral exposure?

      short for “positive” and “negative”

  12. Wukchumni

    May I propose a ‘Mitch-a-Thon’?

    His greatest hits of spoken recitations in decades of opportunities all coalesced into 72 hours, and its a weak field, i’m thinking Grammy potential.

  13. Acacia

    Re: shape-shifting animation style

    Recalls Linklater’s adaptation of the P. K. Dick novel A Scanner Darkly.

    AI is the new “Substance D” (also referred to as “Slow Death”, “Death” or “D”).

    1. Alex Cox

      A Scanner Darkly was rotoscoped, very possibly by computers. This process involves drawing lines around real actors, and their facial features.

      The technique is usually applied to not-very-good films, such as Linklater’s Waking Life, in order to make the thing look ‘cool’.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Human artists worked on those films, although the tools they used were computerized.

      2. Acacia

        Yeah, pre-AI, plus Keanu Reeves … but the effect is similarly nauseating.

        More apropos to the present AI-pocalypse might be Ari Folman’s The Congress.

    2. Late Introvert

      A Scanner Darkly by Richard Linklater is getting shaded on this blog, that is just wrong. Seriously good film based on a seriously good book. Shame on you.

  14. Raymond Sim

    Note that the Biobot graphs for the Northeast and Southeast are very nearly straight lines. It appears that for the moment the rate of increase in cases is almost independent of the number of cases.

    I think this is probably typical of what happens when a superspreading pathogen hits a certain prevalence – time spent in zones of infection becomes the main risk factor, not number of contacts.

    The Fourth of July having no effect is striking. Was the rate of increase already maximal? That’s a horrifying thought.

  15. Glen

    Another story for Manufacturing:

    Why America’s Largest Tool Company Couldn’t Make a Wrench in America

    I have to say as a engineer in manufacturing and defense my whole career (40+ years), I was very alarmed by all the off shoring of manufacturing well over twenty years ago, and sorta predicted this as the result, but it’s extremely disheartening to have happen.

    I don’t know enough of the specifics, but I doubt it was a failure of technology, as much a failure to hit a pre-ordained price point performance object with an aggressive schedule (i.e. must keep Wall St happy).

    1. Martin Oline

      Thanks for the link. I toured a John Deere plant over 45 years ago and there were many stations where the metal parts were being heated before being forged. I went through the same plant about 10 years ago and there was no hot forging to be seen. Out sourced or design change? Perhaps just planned obsolescence.

    2. Screwball

      Thank you for that link. Long read and well worth it. I’m in the same boat. I was working for a global fortune 500 company when they passed NAFTA (1993-4?) and got to be a part of outsourcing every job possible for the next X amount of years. As you said, bottom line.

      This sounds like a real clunker. It’s not simple, easy, or cheap to put the toothpaste back in the bottle. This seems to show a bunch of people have no clue of that fact.

      I’m glad I’m retired. When I left corporate America, it was a cesspool of incompetence, politics, and chaos.

    1. Sin Fronteras

      So they started producing it before the design was finished.

      Microsoft used to do something similar: they used to have developers and testers, which worked really well. The person who wrote the code was not the one who tested it. Some MBA genius decided they could save a lot of money by abolishing testers. Then they went further and let MSFT “fan boyz” have early access to the code and had THEM do a lot of the testing. Not sure what MSFT is doing now.

  16. Raymond Sim

    I note the 600 ppm CO2 threshhold Prof. Jimenez highlights with great personal interest.

    The pandemic prompted us to get an Aranet, which led to my unexpected discovery that keeping CO2 readings below 600 ppm does away with almost all of the headaches, and much of the sleeplessness that plagued me after my stroke. I had put this down to some peculiarity in my constitution. Now I wonder how many other survivors of various types of brain injury , to include the ordinary insults of aging, might not benefit from better air.

  17. Amfortas the hippie

    to RM: calm yer mind, and walk slower down that tree tunnel.
    i missed such things from Eat Texas so much, ive been doing it purposfully on my part of the place…even a hobbit’s shire-like sunken lane(that will likely take either purchased labor, or many years)
    pay attention to what goes on underneath…poke yer head in there!(just watch for snakes).
    plenty goes on in the “underbrush” of a prairie, fer sure…but the more layers, the more activity.

    1. ambrit

      “..the more layers, the more activity.” And the more resilience.
      One generally unmentioned cause for the increasing severity of pathogen outbreaks in commercial poultry and live animal lots is the trend for mono-culture cropping, which reaches all the way down to the sub-species of animal being ‘raised’ for exploitation. Wild sourcing expands the varieties of animal available and increases the chances for resistance to a disease outbreak going catastrophic. My late father-in-law always had three or four varieties of chicken at his “Gentleman’s Farm.” The kids used to love to help him gather the eggs. “All the colours and shapes Dad!” was how one put it to me.
      Stay safer than safe.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        ive got at least 10 different breeds…but i demure at controlling their breeding choices.
        i leave that to them.
        so theres lots of mugwumps running around.
        somebody lays tiny(bantam jungle fowl) green(aracana) eggs.
        im pretty sure its only one hen, and theres a limited population of those who fit that criteria.
        (jungle fowl hens really like making nests in the bushes somewhere, and not coming into the house.
        until i figure out the coon, not cat problem with the traps….)

    2. The Rev Kev

      Where he said ‘It gets rather confining not being able to see more than twenty feet off the trail or most roads with trees in full leaf and the bushes dense.’ shows the effect of where you grow up. I have met Swiss who claim that they can never live in a place where they are not in sight of a mountain as in ever. I met one Swiss guy who found it very disorientating to go from Switzerland to Oz and soon found himself in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain which is flat from horizon to horizon. But a tree tunnel is great, especially on a hot day.

  18. Cat Burglar

    I went to get a molecular Covid test at a Walgreens in Bend Oregon. The staff was flummoxed by my request — they told me that, “we just haven’t done tests for such along time, we’re kind of rusty.” They treated it like a bespoke request. The test wasn’t covered by insurance, so it cost me $128! At that price, effective Covid tests are beyond the reach of most people.

    Another anecdotal input:

    My roommate’s brother, a stroke victim, lives in a care home in Florida. There are currently 11 cases of covid at the place, a higher number than at any time during the pandemic so far. Not looking good.

  19. Mary

    There are 1.5 million non profit organizations in the US. They employ 10% of the US workforce. While I can believe that women hold most of these jobs and are paid much less than men in corporate jobs, it is too simplistic to assume that these organizations do nothing except underpay women. To be overly simplistic, they provide services at modest prices to people who need those services.

    1. t

      Not sure what percentage of non-profits performance low-cost services for people who need those services.
      A huge number of non-profits, such as PETA, are direct mail marketing scams. Then you have arts organizations of all sizes which may be good and helpful, or may be basically clubs for rich people. And never forget family foundations that are mostly set up for tax fraud….

      1. Mary

        Good point, only 7% provide human services. That’s 105,000 organizations. But that is 2,000 in every state. If fairly evenly spread.

  20. Jason Boxman

    First, most people with energy-limiting chronic illnesses have problems with their autonomic nervous system, which governs heartbeat, breathing, sleep, hormone release, and other bodily functions that we don’t consciously control. When this system is disrupted—a condition called “dysautonomia”—hormones such as adrenaline might be released at inappropriate moments, leading to the wired-but-tired feeling. People might suddenly feel sleepy, as if they’re shutting down. Blood vessels might not expand in moments of need, depriving active muscles and organs of oxygen and fuel; those organs might include the brain, leading to cognitive dysfunction such as brain fog.

    We know COVID can damage the brain stem.

    With all the text: Fatigue Can Shatter a Person

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Low-wage earners are 14 times more likely to lose jobs to AI, report finds”

    Women too according to a report that I read. If you have a guy that works as a plumber or crane operator, you can’t replace them with an AI. But a lot of office workers are women and it is the office where the AI is being mostly deployed. One thing that I wonder about. A coupla years a go a book came out called “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber. Could it be that these are the jobs being targeted by AIs?

  22. Carolinian

    Patrick Lawrence gets into the weeds on the Biden bribery story.


    The mantra used to be “the cover up is worse than the crime” but what if the press are the ones doing the cover up? And what if the crime is some pretty obvious extortion and not an obscure office break in?

    Nixon always said that Watergate was selective press prosecution because his predecessors had done things just as bad as he did and got away with little press scrutiny. If Biden gets away with it–yet again–and god forbid even gets re-elected it will be making his point.

  23. Jason Boxman

    So instead of lifting, I’m dealing with yet another political fundraising email I never subscribed to, this time from warmonger Tim Kaine who’s excited to tell everyone that we should fight to the last Ukrainian. Besides being a sick f**k, I never signed up for this loser’s fundraising emails.

    Because I use (sigh) Google Suite for handling my personal email, I can do what sadly is absolutely impossible with free-user Gmail; I can filter on any email header or body content, including regular expressions. So I setup a filter to bounce back any emails sent from our friends at NGPVAN back to CEO Scott Brighton (from bonterratech.com, owner of among other properties NGPVAN apparently). I hope he enjoys these emails as much as I have.

    Also, these horrific emails are quite an issue:

    EthicalEmail.org: The fundraising spam is out of control. Here’s how that happened — and how we take back our inboxes.

    Database for 2020: 2020 U.S. Election Emails:

    We found six tactics that senders use to manipulate recipients into opening emails. The typical sender used at least one manipulative tactic in about 42% of their emails. Most senders — 99% — use them at least occasionally.

    We found 322 entities that shared our email address with other entities but the majority (133/322) had no privacy policy and only about a quarter (77/200) disclosed their email sharing in the privacy policy.

    And: Positively BEGGING You: Spammed with demands from the Democrats

    This is an absolute cesspool of garbage email, and I’m getting these via SMS now. This garbage has migrated to SMS. And there options are few. There’s no SMS filtering, not easily, not like with email. This is going to get a lot worse for 2024, I guarantee it. And it’s disgusting.

    I’d been giving loudly to the opponent and sending a photo of my receipt, but campaigns don’t care; I can’t afford to drop enough green to make anyone care that simply leaving me along will stop my funding opposing candidates. I’d go bankrupt. It did feel great the few times I did it, though. But I’ve opened myself up to spam from Republican candidates now, ugh.

    What a rotten society.

    1. Carolinian

      More on Oppenheimer.


      By way of rebuttal one might point out that the US had already crossed the moral Rubicon of bombing women and children and being burned to death in Tokyo by incendiaries or by an A-bomb may be a distinction without immediate difference.

      But there was a coverup back then and probably of both practices. A book came out about the origin of John Hersey’s Hiroshima report in The New Yorker and a big motive was that the occupation military in Japan was refusing to allow reporters to show the real damage. The didn’t want the Bomb discredited as a weapon of power.

      Cut to Ukraine and our embedded MSM and deja vu is intense. You do wonder if people will start making the connections between then and now.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “How did Obamas’ private chef Tafari Williams drown in Martha’s Vineyard paddle boarding accident?”

    Didn’t a chef of the Clintons drown a few years ago? Must be an occupational hazard.

    1. LawnDart

      I’ve only done it a few times, but a night paddle on the water is really enjoyable; the silence and stillness are very relaxing, the absence of noise in itself leaves you feeling free and unburdened… but the guy did work for the Dirty Dems, so all is suspect and suspicious.

  25. Martin Oline

    I was intrigued by that yard sign for Vivek Ramaswamy. I suspect there was an error at the printers and the period was supposed to go at the front of TRUTH. Then we would know there is a hidden truth along with the hidden agenda.

  26. skippy

    Thought I might pass this on to you Lambert.

    Buergin Natacha (Orcid ID: 0000-0001-6436-0054) Sex-specific differences in myocardial injury incidence after COVID-19 mRNA-1273 Booster Vaccination

    Conclusion:mRNA-1273 vaccine-associated myocardial injury was more common than previously thought, being mild and transient, and more frequent in women versus men. The possible protective role of IFN-λ1(IL-29) and GM-CSF warrant further studies.


    Seems U.S. has relied on passive surveillance where this was active surveillance of 777 hospital staff, blood test for troponin levels three days later, indicator of myocardial injury.

      1. skippy

        Sorry I did not see that and will have a look, ta britzklieg, NC commentariat is the best.

Comments are closed.