2:00PM Water Cooler 8/1/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I’m sorry to be a bit later than usual, but now not only the “f” key, but the “r” and the “w” keys on my MacBook Pro have given out. Hard to type URLs! That’s what I get for eating snacks while typing, I suppose. So I needed to port my entire workflow to my backup MacBook Air, encountering numerous small obstacles as I did do (including disabling the stupid touch bar completely, and installing a new text editor. Goodbye, Jedit, hello TextMate. Yes, I tried Emacs). More or less complete! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Geoffrey A. Keller, Extreme NE corner of the county, Modoc, California, United States. “Bird was vocalizing from top of juniper tree….”

* * *


“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!

* * *

“Trump Still Has the Best Words” [The American Conservative]. “Trump’s clear goals, not plans, stand in stark contrast to focus-group tested soundbites that dominate the rest of the political conversation. On substance and rhetoric, Trump consistently challenges the failed vision for America upheld by the bipartisan ruling class. And that is what people want to hear. ‘China is ripping us off.’ ‘Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.’ ‘Greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ ‘Very fine people on both sides.’ The ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung flu.’ ‘Impeachment Hoax 1’ and ‘Impeachment Hoax 2.'”

“Donald Trump’s Campaign Finances Are Strained As Legal Peril Mounts” [Associated Press]. “Donald Trump’s political operation entered the second half of the year in a strained financial position with its bank account drained by tens of millions of dollars that were directed toward defending the former president from mounting legal challenges as he seeks the White House again. Trump took in over $53 million since the start of 2023, records show, a period in which his two criminal indictments in Florida and New York were turned into a rallying cry that made his fundraising soar. Yet the Republican presidential front-runner burned through at least $42.8 million this year, much of it used to cover costs related to the mounting legal peril faced by Trump, his aides and other allies, leaving him with $31.8 million cash on hand. And that was after receiving a lifeline from a pro-Trump super PAC that agreed to refund millions of dollars in contributions that Trump’s operation had previously donated to it. New campaign finance disclosures made public ahead of Monday night’s filing deadline showed Trump’s network of political committees spent roughly $25 million on legal fees. But according to a person familiar with the situation who insisted on anonymity to discuss the matter, the number is considerably higher: $40 million this year alone.” • So that’s how lawfare works. Hence the number of suits, including frivolous ones like Bragg’s, which we haven’t heard anything about for months. Perhaps closer to the election.

IA: Ouch!

* * *

“DeSantis’ Donors Want More Than a Reboot. They Want Him to ‘Clean House’” [Rolling Stone]. “Last year, longtime Republican strategist Ed Rollins was leading the Ready for Ron PAC, and announcing his plans to help DeSantis — then an undeclared 2024 candidate —  take on Trump in the primary. A longtime Trump supporter, Rollins wanted to turn the page on the twice-impeached former president, and he thought DeSantis was the candidate to do it. But in just a few months, that hope vanished. Today, Rollins says he is ‘not involved’ anymore in the pro-DeSantis efforts. ‘I don’t think it’s the campaign’s fault at all; it’s his,’ Rollins tells Rolling Stone. ‘I think he’s been a very flawed candidate. I know some of the people around him, and some of them are good, talented people. But every time he opens his mouth, he has a tendency to — shall we say — think out-loud, and he clearly doesn’t understand the game. … When you get into these culture wars the way that he has, the vast majority of people don’t understand what they are.'” And: “‘At this point in time, I would be shocked if Trump were not the nominee.'” And: “Rollins is also predicting that, ‘unless something serious happens,’ President Biden is on track toward reelection.” 

“Ron DeSantis Flubs Grocery Store Visit By Attempting To Buy Cashier” [The Onion]. • I think the Onion is slipping; that’s not his weakness.

* * *

“Devon Archer Throws a Curve” [Wall Street Journal]. “The real danger for Mr. Biden in the 2024 debates is if the Republican candidate asks him the obvious: “Mr. President, we have learned since 2020 that almost everything you claimed about your son’s business overseas the last time you were on this debate stage was untrue. Why should the American people believe anything you say now?” • Not untrue. But the reporting on the Archer hearings is uniformly horrid. Here is the House statement—

“Comer Statement on Devon Archer’s Testimony” [House Committee on Oversight and Accountability]. 

  • Devon Archer testified that Hunter Biden put then-Vice President Joe Biden on the speakerphone during business meetings over 20 times. Archer testified that Joe Biden was put on the phone to sell “the brand.” These phone calls include a dinner in Paris with a French energy company and in China with Jonathan Li, the CEO of BHR.
  • Archer acknowledged that then-Vice President Biden had coffee with Jonathan Li, the CEO of BHR, in Beijing. Then-Vice President Biden even wrote a letter of recommendation for college for Li’s daughter. Archer confirmed Joe Biden was referred to as “my guy” by Hunter Biden.
  • In spring of 2014, then-Vice President Biden attended a business dinner with his son, Hunter, and his associates at Café Milano in Washington, D.C. Elena Baturina, a Russian oligarch who is the widow of the former mayor of Moscow, attended the dinner. Notably, the Biden Administration’s public sanctions list for Russian oligarchs does not contain Baturina.

IMNSHO, the Democrats are making the same sort of defense of Biden they did of Clinton: No quid pro quo, no corruption. The most charitable view of that thesis is that it’s naive. I think many of us have been in meetings where a complicated deal is sealed, and the CEO walks in, says “Hiya,” waves to everybody, and departs, having put nothing on the record, let alone on paper. Their mere presence was enough to legitimize whatever was going on. Biden on the speakerphone was doing exactly the same thing. I don’t know how one sells that view in a political campaign, though.’

“The Biden ‘Brand’: Devon Archer Reveals the ‘Niceties’ of Influence-Peddling” [Jonathan Turley, The Messenger]. “[Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.)] said that ‘Joe Biden came to say hello at the Four Seasons hotel to a lunch that he [Hunter Biden] was having’ with Chinese energy company executives. He then read from the record how another Hunter associate, Rob Walker, described the origins of that meeting with the Chinese to get his father to stop by: ‘Hunter told his dad that ‘I may be trying to start a company or try to do something with these guys.’’ As with the twenty-some phone calls, Goldman dismissed Joe Biden’s sudden appearance as a fatherly drive-by…. What is truly preposterous is Goldman’s suggestion that these figures would have discussed corrupt deliverables on a speakerphone in restaurants. That was not the point of the calls. The point would have been that Hunter and his team were selling access, and the calls with his vice president/father confirmed that he was deliverable.” • Worth noting that Goldman is a candidate in NY-10, NY being (see below) a must-win state for Democrats.

* * *

West totally asking for my vote:

“Cornel West’s Candidacy Divides Democratic Socialists” [Newsweek]. “While DSA has not yet made an endorsement in the race, the tension between lofty idealism and pragmatic politicking could once again be laid bare ahead of the 2024 cycle between supporters of West and those willing to accept the imperfect vessel of a Biden second term. West, one member wrote for Reform and Revolution, would likely command a large swath of the hundreds of thousands of left-leaning voters who’d previously voted for third-party candidates under tickets like the Green Party, handing the election to a conservative candidate who opposes issues central to the DSA platform, like abortion access. Particularly as some data previously provided to Newsweek show a third-party run would very likely hand Republicans the election. ‘We should focus on the real prize: the vast majorities of people who, despite any political alignment or lack thereof, believe in abortion rights, trans rights, and other progressive reforms for bodily autonomy,’ Ruy Martinez, the founder of the Harvard chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America and a campaign organizer, wrote for the caucus magazine. ‘These issues have majoritarian support and are the bulwark of right-wing attacks on working people.'” • As if selling your labor power to survive wasn’t a violation of “bodily autonomy.” These people…. Commentary:

“RFK Jr. super PAC got more than half its funds from GOP mega donor” [Politico]. “A super PAC supporting the presidential ambitions of longshot Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reported receiving more than half its nearly $10 million in funds from a single GOP donor…. The group, American Values 2024, launched the same month Kennedy set out on his own longshot bid against President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary….. Of the $9.8 million reported, $5 million came from Timothy Mellon, a longtime GOP donor who gave $1.5 million to a Trump-aligned group last fall… Most of the rest of the super PAC’s fundraising through the end of June came from Gavin De Becker, an author and consultant who reported giving the group $4.5 million. De Becker has a political donation history that includes both Democrats and Republicans. He has served as a close adviser to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.” • Everybody’s a Pied Piper now?

“Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is launching a hotline to help high-risk patients get abortions at hospitals” [WGLT]. “The initiative is dubbed the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access, or CARLA for short. Launching in a few weeks, the program is designed to get patients who show up at clinics but need a higher level of care to hospitals faster. Obstetricians and gynecologists could also refer their high-risk patients to hospitals through the program. Providers will call a hotline, where nurses will coordinate the logistics. Currently the Chicago Abortion Fund and providers at hospitals text and email each other until they find an opening. It can be painstaking, around-the-clock work.” • Good, but also checking a box, as with library censorship.

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“RFK Jr. and Ramaswamy coming up fast in the outside lanes” [Douglas MacKinnon, The Hill]. “The latest Harvard-Harris poll places Kennedy in first place when it comes to favorability: at 47 percent he is ahead of Biden, Trump, DeSantis and every other candidate. His un-favorability is the lowest among all candidates, at just 26 percent. That poll was taken after the recent ‘Covid-antisemitic‘ narrative pushed by many in the media and the Democratic Party the previous 10 days. Clearly, when voters hear Kennedy, he is connecting. His challenge is to find ways to amplify his voice…. A number of national surveys have recently shown Ramaswamy surging. Suddenly, he has gone from a complete unknown to third in the polling, trailing only Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). Why is he moving up so quickly? While there are multiple reasons, three stand out. First, he has condensed his campaign for the White House into a simple message that resonates with voters: ‘Excellence over Victimhood. Democracy over Aristocracy. America over China. Diversity of Thought over Appearance. Truth over Relativism. Equal Opportunity over Equal Results.’ The second is that as a Republican candidate of color, his life story is also touching those who hear and identify with it. Born to Indian immigrant parents, Ramaswamy graduated from Harvard with a degree in biology before going on to Yale Law School to get his J.D. Third, unlike the unethical blackballing of RFK Jr. by many in the mainstream media, Ramaswamy has been welcomed with mostly open arms and has jumped at virtually every chance to be on TV.”

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“Opinion: The changing Republican electorate could upend this basic rule of politics” [CNN]. “Recent elections suggest a new trend is emerging, and we need to pay attention to it. The great realignment of American politics, which began with the House of Representatives’ Republican freshman class in 2010 — and was boosted by the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016 — has given us critical new data points about American voters. The tectonic polarization of the electorate along education, income and geographic lines isn’t just reshaping the parties, it is also reshaping voter turnout models. The new, or perhaps still emerging Republican coalition has more blue-collar, non-college educated and rural voters — similar to the expansive coalition that former President Ronald Regan built in the 1980s. It has more voters who didn’t take part in many previous elections because they didn’t believe anyone cared about them or that their vote made a difference. In fact, we now have enough election data to confidently say many of them are more likely to stay home in a midterm election and more likely to participate in a presidential election — upending decades of political science orthodoxy. Further exacerbating this phenomenon is the Democratic Party’s move toward a much higher-income, White coastal voter base, and with it, a more left-wing progressivism that is alienating significant segments of Hispanic and Black voters.” Notice also: “In 2020, Republicans gained 15 seats in the House, losing zero incumbents, even while losing the presidential election. Yes, a large part of this is due to the stellar job House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and then-National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Emmer did in recruiting. Every single pickup we had in 2020 was a woman, a veteran or a minority candidate. (Current NRCC Chairman Richard Hudson is executing the same game plan, trying to recruit an even more diverse class in 2024.)” • Lol, two can play the idpol game!

“Democrats worry their most loyal voters won’t turn out for Biden in 2024” [WaPo]. “Democrats are worried about a potential drop next year in turnout among Black voters, the party’s most loyal constituency, who played a consequential role in delivering the White House to President Biden in 2020 and will be crucial in his bid for reelection. Their concern stems from a 10 percentage-point decline in Black voter turnout in last year’s midterms compared with 2018, a bigger drop than among any other racial or ethnic group, according to a Washington Post analysis of the Census Bureau’s turnout survey…. Black voter advocates say the challenge is particularly acute among Black men, many of whom say they feel alienated from the political process and were hurt by policies pushed by both parties that led to increased incarceration and a decline in manufacturing jobs decades ago…. Many Democrats interviewed said they were less worried about Black women, whose voting enthusiasm has historically been more robust than that of Black men. “

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NY: “New York is critical for Republicans to keep US House control” [Bloomberg]. “The path to control of the U.S. House flows from the New York suburbs to the Hudson River Valley and west to the Catskill Mountains and Syracuse, where Republicans are trying to hang on to six seats in places President Joe Biden won in 2020. Democrats, who need to pick up five seats to retake the House majority, are betting New Yorkers’ unease with the GOP’s focus on social issues like abortion, transgender rights and book bans give them an edge. The Republicans in these districts — once the territory of moderate-to-liberal “Rockefeller Republicans”— in turn are de-emphasizing culture-war fights to lean into pocketbook issues and concrete local concerns. Their priorities run the gamut from farm subsidies to electrical vehicle requirements for school buses to the cap on the state and local tax deduction, which hits downstate voters particularly hard.” • Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, George Santos… I’m seeing five names. Anyhow, that George Santos got elected at all is one more sign all is not well with New York Democrats. But perhaps they’ve improved!

Republican Funhouse

“The GOP’s Ukraine evolution” [Axios]. “Many of the GOP’s leading Senate recruits are speaking out against U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia — sounding a downright isolationist note and breaking from the views of party leaders…. Such skepticism of U.S. engagement is still a minority opinion among Republican elected leaders, but it is now embraced by the GOP’s top two candidates for president (former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis)…. A June Pew Research poll found 44% of Republican or GOP-leaning voters believe the U.S. is providing too much aid to Ukraine, while just 34% believe it’s “about right” or “not enough.” That’s the highest level of GOP skepticism for Ukraine aid since the war began…. Republican leadership is still solidly behind supporting Ukraine, but the grassroots of the party are moving in the opposite direction.”

“The Church Of Leonard Leo” [The Lever]. “As fog rolled in on a mild Saturday evening, and Mass convened at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in the serene seaside town of Northeast Harbor, Maine, there was one recognizable face present along with his family and his bodyguard: the head of the charity that recently took control of the church, Leonard Leo. Leo, a devout Roman Catholic, is the architect of the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority and oversees a billion-dollar political influence mac’hine. In March, he quietly purchased the local church through a charitable nonprofit he formed last year.” • One can actually buy a Catholic church? That seems odd.


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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“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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Fun with “Why are you wearing a mask?” (1):

Fun with “Why are you wearing a mask?” (2):

Fun with “Why are you wearing a mask?” (3):

Fun with “Why are you wearing a mask?” (4):

* * *

Intelligence test:

Covid is Airborne

Airborne in both senses. Aerosol expert before boarding:

Aerosol expert after boarding:

Immune System Dysregulation?

“Multimodal Molecular Imaging Reveals Tissue-Based T Cell Activation and Viral RNA Persistence for Up to Two Years Following COVID-19” (preprint) [medRxiv]. From the Introduction: “We performed whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in a cohort of 24 participants at time points ranging from 27 to 910 days following acute SARS-CoV-2 infection using a novel radiopharmaceutical agent, [18 49 F]F-AraG, a highly selective tracer that allows for anatomical quantitation of activated T lymphocytes. Tracer uptake in the post-acute COVID group, which included those with and without Long COVID symptoms, was significantly cord, bone marrow, nasopharyngeal and hilar lymphoid tissue, cardiopulmonary tissues, and gut wall. Although T cell activation tended to be higher in participants imaged closer to the time of the acute illness, tracer uptake was increased in participants imaged up to 2.5 years following SARS-CoV-2 infection. We observed that T cell activation in spinal cord and gut wall was associated with the presence of Long COVID symptoms. In addition, tracer uptake in lung tissue was higher in those with persistent pulmonary symptoms. Notably, increased T cell activation in these tissues was also observed in many individuals without Long COVID.” • Commentary:

Censorship and Propaganda

When was the last time you had to sign a liability waiver for the flu?

Granted, this is Alberta, a citadel of reaction. Nevertheless.

On “living in fear”:

I wish I knew who invented the “living in fear” trope. They earned every penny, it’s incredibly virulent.

Testing and Tracking

“Scientists develop breath test that rapidly detects COVID-19 virus” (press release) [Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis]. Same team that prototyped this monitor. “If and when new strains of COVID-19 or other airborne pathogenic diseases arise, such devices also could be used to screen people at public events. The researchers said the breath test also has potential to help prevent outbreaks in situations where many people live or interact in close quarters — for example aboard ships, in nursing homes, in residence halls at colleges and universities or on military bases. ‘With this test, there are no nasal swabs and no waiting 15 minutes for results, as with home tests,’ said co-corresponding author Rajan K. Chakrabarty, PhD, the Harold D. Jolley Career Development Associate Professor of Energy, Environment & Chemical Engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering. ‘A person simply blows into a tube in the device, and an electrochemical biosensor detects whether the virus is there. Results are available in about a minute.'” • If Project NextGen were anything but a giveaway to Big Pharma, it would be funding this.

“DOD Investing in Wearable Technology That Could Rapidly Predict Disease” [U.S. Department of Defense]. “The Defense Innovation Unit, also known as DIU, in partnership with the private sector, has developed a wearable device that was highly successful during the COVID-19 pandemic in identifying infections…. DOD is extending the [Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure (RATE)] project, initially started with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in 2020, to new user groups after leading a successful prototype during COVID-19, [Jeff Schneider, the program manager] said…. The algorithm leverages biometric data from commercial grade off-the-shelf wearables. The RATE algorithm enabled early detection of infectious diseases up to 48 hours before symptoms appeared. The algorithm, which, in some cases, predicted infections up to six days prior to onset, and included asymptomatic cases, was featured in a 2022 study published by the journal “Nature’s Scientific Reports,” highlighting the efficacy of the algorithm-powered wearables to aid military readiness, Schneider said. “

“Something Awful”

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

* * *


Elite Maleficence

Hospital Infection Control whacks another child:

“It'[s] only the hallways you need to worry about.” HIC genuinely seems unable to get their minds around the idea that SARS-CoV-2 moves like smoke, through the entire facility.

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, July 31:

Lambert here: Still rising. People have now noticed this chart, I assume because CDC gave them permission to do so. Doubling in about a week. One thing is sure: If it doubles again (blue line), the levels of cope and denial will be off the charts.

Regional data:

Lambert here: Again, backward revision. Now all regions are reporting increases but at different rates.

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.


From Walgreens, July 31:

3.2%. Interestingly, people are citing to this, too, as well as Biobot. 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, July 10:

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 26:

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: 1,169,813 – 1,169,777 – 1,169,747 = 36 (36 * 365 = 13,140 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

NOT UPDATED The Economist, July 28:

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

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell to 45.4 in July 2023, marking not only a third consecutive month of contraction for the overall index, but also the fifth consecutive month it has reached a new all-time low.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the United States edged higher to 46.4 in July 2023 from a nearly three-year low of 46 in June, but below market expectations of 46.8. The reading pointed to a ninth straight month of contraction in factory activity, as demand remains weak, production slowed due to lack of work, and suppliers continue to have capacity.”

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* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 1 at 1:46 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! 

The Gallery

“New Woodblock Prints of Hokusai’s Previously Unpublished ‘Book of Everything'” [Kottke.org]. “That is shockingly modern — like a 60s superhero comic or a still from 60s anime.” • This one:

Class Warfare

Yes, the teacher’s unions were utterly toothless:

And the nurses not much better. Or the flight attendants, IIRC. Oh well…. 

“Personality Traits and Financial Outcomes” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]. “The Big Five personality traits—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—are widely used in understanding human behavior. Using data collected from a survey and diary of consumer payment choice, we investigate how the Big Five traits affect three financial outcomes: being unbanked, holding a credit card, and carrying credit card debt. Although each personality trait is correlated with each of the financial outcomes we examine, they mostly become statistically insignificant when we control for demographics and income in regressions. Carrying credit card debt (revolving), however, is significantly affected by conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness: credit card adopters who are less conscientious, more open to experiences, or more agreeable are significantly more likely to revolve credit card debt. A machine learning algorithm confirms that conscientiousness is the major factor separating revolvers from other credit cardholders.”

News of the Wired

“Pay dirt for ice core scientists in East Greenland as they reach bedrock” (press release) [University of Copenhagen]. “With a sudden reward of mud at their feet, researchers at the EGRIP research station had successfully made it through the 2670-meter ice sheet last week after seven years of drilling. In doing so, the research group met their ultimate goal of drilling all the way through the ice and to the bedrock below. ‘This is the first time that a deep ice core has been drilled through an ice stream, so it will be extremely exciting to analyse the material, which has much to tell us about how our planet’s climate has changed over the past 120,000 years. But we need to wrap up our work here first,’ says Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen of the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, who leads research at EGRIP. The mud, which had not seen the light of day for roughly a million years, was only briefly exposed to sunlight, as white light can damage ice core material. Instead, the core was retrieved in red light and immediately packed away, like a Christmas present that will need to remain unopened until some special day down the road.” 

* * *

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 RI:

RI writes: “I took this picture in 2008 at the Dunedin, New Zealand botanical gardens. I thought you might like this particular photo.” The color!

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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. Samuel Conner

    > Fun with “Why are you wearing a mask?”

    Thank you, Lambert, for this wonderful new feature!


    I shared the “because of my tuberculosis” comeback from an earlier instance with family (all maskers) recently; it broke the room up.

    Laughter is good for body and mind, I think. Again, thank you!

    1. Mikel

      “Why are you wearing a mask?”

      “If I get sick or the people around me, are you going to bring soup? No? So what’s it to you?”

      1. some guy

        Say “ebola” instead of “haemorrhagic fever”. More people have heard of “ebola.”

  2. notabanker

    “the imperfect vessel of Biden’s second term…..”

    Kinda like the imperfect vessel of OceanGate in June.

  3. flora

    Ed Rollins’s “Ready for Ron” PAC. Ready for Ron? That sounds like “Nixon Now”. How old is Rollins? 80?

    1. flora

      Sorry if the above is too cryptic. Slogans like Nixon Now worked 50 years ago, imo, because the public got a rest from campaign madness for 2-3 years after the presidental election was decided. People had a chance to mentally go back to ‘real life’ and forget about politics for a while. Then their interest could be rev’ed up again as something fresh at start of the next pres campaign season with slogans like Nixon Now. oooh, excitement, something new.

      However, since the start of the campaign season in 2015 the campaigning for or against the candidates in or running for the office has never let up. It’s been one, long, uninterrupted, in-your-face MSM campaign. I want it to stop. I want a break from the mayhem. Ready for Ron? I’m not feeling rev’ed up.

      As for da Bidens: good fellas. / ;)

      As for T: he didn’t start any new wars, tried to end a couple, didn’t pass 2 bad trade treaties – TPP and TPIP. So there’s that. He also didn’t do a lot of what he promised. His lockdowns caused a lot of small business closures and did nothing to stop the spread. But, he doesn’t owe me $600 bucks.

  4. amigdal

    Today’s plant is a Himalayan Poppy (gorgeous flowers!) with rhododendron in the background and possibly one blue clematis.

    1. Dalepues

      At first I thought it was a Mexican Petunia, which
      grow well in Mobile. They seem to like the heat
      and the soggy soil.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    #BidenCrimeFamily is a tag that leaves a mark. Avg folks may not understand nod and wink CEO stuff but everyone’s seen The Godfather.

    If I were spinning for the Bidens, I’d be on the phone to Google to get them to delete every single image search result of Joe in aviator shades or next to his Corvette.

    All that wearing black and the weird lighting and backdrop for the Emperor Palpipate speech last year? Everyone’s going to have to forget that too.

    So much to forget but luckily today is the first day of legal cannabis in Minnesota : )

    1. hunkerdown

      I want my
      I want my
      I want my THC

      (22 years ago today, MTV debuted with “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.)

    2. britzklieg

      Good for MInnesota. I think everyone should have a choice, legally. And many here might remember a couple of screeds I’ve written in support of pot over every other intoxicant out there, especially alcohol, which I have eschewed almost completely since the first time I got so drunk (age 16) that deciding never to do that again was a no brainer. And so I was a pothead, a serious pot head, from a startlingly (to most) early age. I could even be rightfully accused of arrogance in my advocacy for THC, especially since I was a successful classical singer for 40 years and smoking anything is a challenge to the throat, though it is the quickest delivery method for the desired results.

      I don’t no why but a month or so ago I gave it up. I’d like to believe that even pot isn’t good enough to distance myself from the toxic and global cognitive dissonance which surrounds us (and there’s no doubt that at least part of my dedication to it was as self-medication – I avoid doctors almost as much as I avoid alcohol. Also, it’s not like the stress in my life has diminished in the past several years. It’s that pot just doesn’t help much anymore. I’ve never not been able to sleep but maybe the biggest difference is that I don’t fall asleep as fast. But still, I sleep and the dreams are more vivid, easier to recall. It hasn’t fundamentally changed my contrarian, some might say argumentative, personality. Neither can I say that it’s economic since the legal stuff I can get here in florida is half as expensive (and twice as powerful) as the black market weed I consumed most my life.

      I just didn’t want it any more and can’t really explain it any better than that. Best part of it: absolutely ZERO withdrawal consequences, which didn’t surprise me because despite the dedication I had for it, my profession often took me to places for extended periods of times (months) where it was not available and I never had trouble going without. It’s nothing at all like withdrawal from nicotine, or benzos (which I used for a few months after my partner died in 1996… that sh#* is nasty!)…

      …or donuts! And there’s the key… I don’t get the munchies anymore and my consumption of sugary delights has dropped precipitously.

      No regrets for any of my past habits, mind you. But giving up donuts is the best reason for me to have stopped smoking. I’ve considered baking with it but when I bake it’s cake, so again, sugar.

      Still think people should opt for pot before any number of prescribed medications, but I’ve finally aged out of my habit, with little to no effort and a slimmer waistline as a result… I don’t miss it at all. What’s not to like?

      And to be fair, since there’s nothing like a reformed user proclaiming emancipation too soon, I’ll let you know if I return to my THC dedicated status. Except it doesn’t feel like emancipation, just like something I don’t want to do anymore.

    3. Acacia

      Meme video for that hashtag:

      RFK jr wakes up… finds a bloody, severed horse’s head in his bed… begins screaming.

      Dissolve to Joe in aviator shades… he shrugs.

    4. christofay

      The Bidens. One of the Five Families: the Clintons, the Obamas, Pelosi, Manchin. The Bidens were at a disadvantage due to their lack of talent in smash and grab. They played furious catch-up during the Trump years and have left an obvious trail.

      1. Pat

        As I was reading this I thought how quickly Lieberman was forgotten. Then he appears below.
        Manchin, like Lieberman is second tier. You cannot get rid of them but they are merely useful tools to the Beltway crime families. Since we are really a uniparty you might throw the Bushes or the Cheneys in there. Although Liz did flame out pretty quickly.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    McKinnon, The Hill, on RFK and VR.

    There’s this: ‘First, he has condensed his campaign for the White House into a simple message that resonates with voters: “Excellence over Victimhood. Democracy over Aristocracy. America over China. Diversity of Thought over Appearance. Truth over Relativism. Equal Opportunity over Equal Results.”’

    As I read the profile of ole Vivek, I sez to myself, now where have I heard such bilgewater as “truth over relativism” and “equal opportunity over equal results”?

    Why from Ronald Reaganswamy. (Former employer of said McKinnon, true believer.)

    I lived through the dismantling of the New Deal under Ronald Reagan and Bill “Serial Fondler” Clinton. I recognize the slogans. That’s all they are. Fried air, or as we say here in the Undisclosed Region, aria fritta.

    RFK is guilty of uttering plenty of fuffa (specious arguments), but he is a much more astute observer of U.S. politics and U.S. discontents than young Ronnie Ramaswamy is. Truth over relativism? Only a fool expects politicians to enunciate the truth. I want politicians who can put a serious program into effect of concrete material benefits for a long-suffering population.

    Young Vivek wants to contrast excellence and victimhood, fish and bicycles, and diversity of thought and other bloviations.

      1. flora

        It worked for the Roosevelts – Teddy and FD. It’s rare. I voted for the po’ boy from Arkansas thinking he’d be on the side Main Street and against the aristocracy. My mistake. The grift must flow. / ;)

      2. pjay

        I’m not sure *this* Kennedy is considered part of the Royal Family; Caroline and a lot of the brood have written him off. More of a Tyrian Lanister

        1. nippersdad

          Caroline is presently the ambassador to Australia. She has been too busy selling nuclear submarines and building up their MIC to appreciate anyone trash talking her grift.

  7. DJG, Reality Czar

    Leonard Leo owning his own church. Certainly, it is possible to have a private chapel. I was in a museum last weekend that was once a cardinal’s palace. One wonderful room may have been a chapel, or at least the didactic label so surmised, because of carvings of the four familiars of the evangelists on the ceiling beams. I saw only an angel and a lion. So I missed John’s eagle and Luke’s cow.

    But buying a church from a diocese: Somewhat suspicious. The church belongs to the bishop as the oversee of the diocese. I’m wondering what stimulated the bishop to “de-accession” the church to Leo.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Lambert Strether: Further, the church is right down the road (well, a tad more than a hop skip ‘n’ jump) from you.

        In the U S of A, there are few truly private chapels. They do exist in Europe, as mentioned, and I was in the Palazzo Altemps over the weekend, which still maintains a private chapel. It was common among the nobility–there are some wonderfully telling scenes in The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.

        To own a parish church: Not common, anywhere.

        Yes, there is something weird going on.

        Much of it is the usual right-wing looney Catholic B.S., which I am somewhat immune to, being a cradle Catholic. To wit: ‘“The church commemorates the arrival of the Jesuits who birthed the Catholic Faith in New England on this island in the early 17th century,” he said, adding: “Its 19th century architecture and stained glass artwork, as well as a stone monument dedicated to the first Jesuit settlers, tell a moving story about the beauty and continuity of the Catholic faith in North America.”’

        Jesuit settlers? Off the doughty craft, the S.S. Saint Ignatz? A flock of Jesuits? Come on.

    1. Judith

      Well he is a Knight of Malta. And “connected” to Opus Dei. In that rarefied world, who knows what is possible.

    2. scott s.

      ” One can actually buy a Catholic church? That seems odd.”

      Well, it appears the Parish has four churches to run with St Ignatius only showing Mass time of 6 PM Saturday (summer only) so I assume that church was a financial headache for the Pastor. Guessing the Bishop saw transferring the property to what is described as a “devout Catholic” as a win. That a “devout Catholic” would support pro-life positions seems rather obvious.

  8. marym

    AZ – hand counting ballots

    Republicans in AZ are interested in replacing machine tabulators with hand counting. Recently Mojave county did a test, using 850 ballots with 36 contests on each ballot. Today the results were presented and they voted against hand counting in 2024.

    The first twitter thread (07/27/2023) has a summary of the test, some screen shots, and a link to the full report. The second twitter link has a link to video of today’s presentation, and a different link to the report.

    Both tweeters have done extensive reporting on AZ election issues.


    1. marym

      There’s also a controversy that I’m not following closely about whether hand counting is currently allowed under AZ law. I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know if that and/or the details of the test results were the reason(s) for today’s vote. There will probably be additional reporting about the meeting and vote.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Good argument for making every voting place serve a smaller area so that votes can more easily be counted (by hand). Hand counting can be made to work because even if it is not ideal, the current system is so riddled with corruption than only hand counting can restore public trust in elections.

        Hand counting also guarantees third party and write-in candidates get all their votes counted.

        1. marym

          It was interesting that they were able to finish in 24 total hours*, although to make that consecutive hours would require more people. The error rate and types of errors don’t seem conducive to restoring trust. The treatment of election workers in 2020 and since then isn’t conducive to hiring more people.

          * There’s some overlap among Republican advocates for hand counting and for completing the count on election day.

        2. Offtrail

          Is the current system riddled with corruption?

          Can you supply a link or two to legal verdicts that support this contention?

          1. nippersdad

            Ask and ye shall receive:


            The rot starts at the head. If you want anything more like that you might start with the ’16 election in which DWS had to resign from the DNC and chairs were NOT thrown at the Nevada state Democratic convention… and then work your way through the lost/uncounted/trashed ballots found in states like California and Arizona. Those weren’t litigated, but were well documented at the time.

            As Hillary Clinton once famously said, “Do your own research.” It’s not hard, and that is why she lost to a game show host.

  9. Carolinian

    So two GOP candidates with Indian parents. True Nikki doesn’t have a Harvard degree but she does have self described high heels that can double as weapons like those of Emma Peel in The Avengers.

    Here’s suggesting that with Lindsey still making so much noise the Republicans, and the country, may have all the South Carolina they can handle.

        1. The Rev Kev

          More likely a Valkyrie. Certainly Nikki Haley has what it takes to be one of Hillary’s Harpies – women with a bent for war and destruction.

      1. Pat

        Nikki Haley isn’t fit to shine Tara King’s (Linda Thorson) shoes much less step into those of Emma Peel as performed by the magnificent Dame Diana Rigg.
        I thought about bringing up Purdey of The New Avengers, but even a lesser character portrayed by Joanna Lumley is better worth everyone’s time than a moment spent considering Nikki Haley.

  10. Bugs

    Hokusai – I highly recommend to anyone who has more than a day or two in Tokyo to visit the Hokusai Museum. It was a life changing experience for me. And you’re also near to the Sumo wrestlers traditional district so you can check that out too. Thanks and in my further tourist advice of the day, I was in central Paris today and it was not bad, except for the places that are obviously on the Instagram circuit. Omg. Bistrot Richelieu lol. Avoid. Follow your eyes and nose, not your phone.

    Always remember that Paris is best in August.

      1. c_heale

        But many of the big cities are quieter (many fewer people) than normal, since it’s holiday time and people go to the coast. However, a lot of businesses are closed.

    1. KLG

      Thank you! I’ve been to several scientific meetings at Il Ciocco, a short walk from Barga. Absolutely beautiful little town below the Apuan Alps! The final night of the 2007 Gordon Conference during the 50th anniversary of the yearly series, a table of 8 scientists from 8 different countries. Three hours. A meal that almost never ended. 8 empty wine bottles on the table when we said our farewells. Good times!

  11. Kurtismayfield

    Teaches union toothless.

    Most local teacher unions are run by people who grew up in town and they don’t want to play hardball.. and the larger organizations are in reality just lobbyists.

  12. Feral Finster

    “Cornel West’s Candidacy Divides Democratic Socialists”

    TL:DR: don’t vote third party. Because pronouns.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Cornel West looks like he’s having fun, which is something I didn’t get from any recent Presidential candidates except for Trump. ‘Spiritual malnutrition and moral constipation’ indeed.

  13. Mikel

    “Personality Traits and Financial Outcomes” [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta]

    You all see what they’re trying to do with that?
    “Credit check psychology”

    These mofos are desperate for every penny.

  14. Raymond Sim

    Regarding the Biobot graph of regional wastewater levels: Is it just my bad visual processing, or have the traces for the Northeast and South merged into a single straight line?

    Meanwhile the traces for the West and Midwest look like what happened over and over in 2020-2021, with exponential growth transitioning to linear growth with a greater slope. Back then you could confidently anticipate a sharp exponential spike in a few days time (As household transmission asserted itself – or at least that was my hypothesis.). The other two regions’ growth has stayed linear. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

    The only explanation I can come up with for persistent linear growth of a virus that superspreads would be universally optimal conditions for transmission.

    1. Raymond Sim

      it came to me while half-asleep trying to nap that spatial averaging of temporal growth which has the sort of exponential sawsteeth we’ve been seeing might produce the straight lines. Haven’t done any math to try and check it out..

  15. Pat

    My Dan (Goldman) since 2022* is a congressman not a candidate. He was one of the chief minions on the first and maybe both of the Trump impeachments before he ran for Congress. Which puts a whole ironic twist on his statements. Don’t count out the incredibly wealthy Levi Strauss heir, he’s a player.

    *Hat tip to Wuk’s My Kevin.

  16. Not Again

    In one of the great all time burns, Trump walked on stage in Iowa to a song with the lyrics “One could end up going to prison.” Thank you to whoever did this. It will be played over and over.

    This is the Democratic Party in one tweet. So clever. So smart. So sanctimonious. And just a bit of superciliousness.

    Remember, these are the same people who spend a trillion dollars a year on military spending but forget to buy bullets.

    While these people are being making Twitter memes about Trump marching off to prison, the Deplorables will show up in the 99th percentile to vote for their saviour in 2024.

  17. some guy

    That intelligence test photo . . . ” find the smartest guy in the room” . . . suggests yet another answer.

    ” Why are you wearing that mask?”

    ” Because I’m the smartest guy in the room.”

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Pay dirt for ice core scientists in East Greenland as they reach bedrock”

    Ironic to think that in a few more decades, that that ice may be gone entirely and they could access all the mud that they want. But 2,670 meters? That is a helluva achievement that. That is about 1.6 miles deep.

      1. John

        120,000 years is almost three MiIankovitch Cycles so if there is such evidence, it should be there. I wonder what it would be?

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘We once persuaded Soviet citizens that life was better on this side of the Iron Curtain.’

      Good luck with that one these days. Alex Christofourou has been doing his walks and talks in Russia the past few weeks. You look in comments and you see Americans asking how is it that the streets are so clean in good repair. Where are the homeless and drug addicts sleeping in the streets. Where is the graffiti and the trashed public parks. Why isn’t someone trying to mug Alex for his camera and gear like they would in a big American city.

      1. Acacia

        After I took a trip to Russia in 2018, a colleague asked for my impressions (colleague emigrated to the US from Belarus in the 90s).

        When I mentioned “no homeless in the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg — none,” colleague started telling me that they are all silently abducted during the night and packed off to secret camps. Later, we got into discussing the Ukraine conflict and pretty soon colleague was sending me links to NYT articles to “prove” I was wrong about Putin. Lol.

        1. sleepingdogmatist

          This is very much my experience. If you point out virtually *any* area in which the PRC or RF is superior to the United States to its liberals, they will produce something like this, following from axiomatic certainty that although things are indeed bad here, they are obviously much worse in those other places, even if they cannot provide any evidence that will stand up to scrutiny. Having grown up in a religious fundamentalist context, the US is mostly just one big version of that. A kind of modulation of Mark Fisher’s capitalist realism: yes, this is quite bad, but it is naive to think anything else could possibly be better, and the greatest danger is in attempting to improve anything.

      2. nippersdad

        I have been watching those as well. Moscow was gorgeous! I don’t think there is a single American city that could compare to it right now.

  19. Screwball

    From the walls are closing in department, more charges against Trump late today. Of course there is nothing else in the news that might be…interesting?

    I used to think the movie “Wag the Dog” was one of the stupidest movies I ever watched. The satire was overdone to the point of utter stupidity.

    Now, I’m not so sure.

    Or, maybe I have went insane too.

  20. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s)

    Not today!

    Just this…

    Norfolk Southern changes policy on overheated bearings, months after Ohio derailment

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A minor coal train derailment in Virginia in early July prompted Norfolk Southern to rethink the way it responds to problems with overheating bearings, but it’s not clear why the railroad didn’t make similar changes months earlier after an overheating bearing caused the fiery Ohio derailment that prompted nationwide concerns about rail safety.


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