2:00PM Water Cooler 8/15/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, so far I’ve focused on digging into Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, based on our very illuminating discussion last week, but adding new material. But it took awhile. More soon! –lambert UPDATE All done. I’ll catch up with the campaign trail tomorrow. Life’s rich pageant!

Bird Song of the Day

Bobolink, J. Clark Salyer NWR, North Dakota, United States. “Unbroken cut with internal recordist announcement gain change (MJA, 31Jan2005).” Another four minute cut!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Alert reader Bob comments on the helpers who saved so many Vermont dairy cows:

I was in upstate NY for the ice storm in 1998.

They HAVE to milk the cows.

Without power it was impossible to milk that many cows. Normally it was accomplished with milking equipment, powered by electricity.

Someone actually did the math early on, after all the power went out, and figured that even if they pressed every man woman and child into milking they couldn’t do it. Too many cows, not enough people.

If you don’t milk cows they die. Thousands of dead cows in the middle of a disaster. People can help themselves. Dairy cattle can’t. There were people who were without power for weeks.

You can dump milk if you can’t move it. It’s awful to waste it, but you can if you have to. You can’t help the cows without power.

The pressing logistical issue was then how to get giant generators for the milking equipment between these farms.

The Army, out of Fort Drum, was one of the answers. Giant generators and high trucks. If not for that there would have been a lot more carnage.


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

The Constitutional Order

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
–William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare says the two households are “alike” in dignity, but he doesn’t say how much dignity they actually have. If Verona’s households are like our parties, the answer is “not much.”

* * *

“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), here is an aggregation on Section Three.

* * *

“Their Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3 and Ours” [JustSecurity]. From 2021. “[A] way of thinking about constitutions… gained hegemony in American constitutional thought only in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On this view, which continues to structure contemporary constitutional thought in the United States, constitutions are legal documents whose meaning is best interpreted by legal authorities. Persons who draft a constitution provision that speaks of ‘insurrection,’ ‘incitement,’ or, for that matter, ‘freedom of the press’ have in mind a fixed legal meaning that courts are expected to implement. From this legal perspective, the question ‘what did the persons responsible for Section 3 mean by ‘insurrection’?”” makes sense, just as the more common question ‘what did the persons responsible for Section 1 mean by ‘equal protection’?’ Many, not all, Republicans in 1866 were popular constitutionalists who believed the meaning of constitutional provisions was worked out at least partly through politics rather than through legal proceedings.” And: “The Republicans who drafted the Fourteenth Amendment had a similar political notion of how constitutional meaning was determined. If the Fourteenth Amendment worked as they expected, the national government would be controlled by persons of unquestioned loyalty to the government. These representatives could be trusted to determine what constituted an insurrection and what sort of participation in an insurrection merited disqualification under Section 3. No need existed to hamstring them with a technical legal definition of ‘insurrection’ or ‘participation’ that might turn out to be inconsistent with the constitutional purpose of giving Congress the tools necessary to maintain loyal control of the state and federal government.  We might make an analogy to a tenure committee in a functional department (does one exist?). The standards are quite vague (original professional work of high quality), but the members of the committee because of their rectitude and expertise can be trusted to distinguish tenurable work from dreck.” • Oh. A tenure committee. A weird implementation of “popular constitutionalism,” though not perhaps in “our democracy.”  I’m fascinated to see an early article on “Section Three” from the heart of the Lawfare establishment. (JustSecurity also maintains a Section Three tracker.)

“Voter advocates target Arizona officials linked to January 6 insurrection” [Kiowa Country Press]. “A legal advocacy group is taking an unusual approach in its attempt to prevent three Arizona officials linked to the January 6th riot from holding public office. Free Speech for People has filed complaints in an Arizona court to bar Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Rep. Andy Biggs R-Ariz., and Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, from office for their involvement in the Washington, D.C., insurrection. The complaints cite a clause in the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies officials who participate in a rebellion from holding any official position.” • This is not a case of Section Three being “self-executing,” however, since the advocacy group is working through the courts.

“Prof. Michael McConnell, Responding About the Fourteenth Amendment, ‘Insurrection,’ and Trump” [Reason]. “We must not forget that we are talking about empowering partisan politicians such as state Secretaries of State to disqualify their political opponents from the ballot, depriving voters of the ability to elect candidates of their choice. If abused, this is profoundly anti-democratic. ‘The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.’ Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964). The broader and more nebulous the definition of engaging in insurrection, and the fewer the procedural safeguards, the greater the danger. Section 3 speaks of ‘insurrection’ and ‘rebellion.’ These are demanding terms, connoting only the most serious of uprisings against the government, such as the Whisky Rebellion and the Civil War. The terms of Section 3 should not be defined down to include mere riots or civil disturbances, which are common in United States history. Many of these riots impede the lawful operations of government, and exceed the power of normal law enforcement to control. Are they insurrections or rebellions, within the meaning of Section 3?” • I have remarked that the distinctive competence of the modern political party (not, perhaps, in the 1800s) is control of the ballot. Is a potential “Sweep and Force” of “Section 3” formalizing that? If so, does that make parties part of the constitutional order, like the press? As the press is constituted by the First Amendment, are parties now to be constituted by the Thirteenth?

“Prof. Michael McConnell, Responding About the Fourteenth Amendment, ‘Insurrection,’ and Trump'” [Election Law Blog]. McConnell gets around! “Putting together my friends’ broad definitions of ‘insurrection’ and ‘engage,’ and lack of concern about enforcement procedure, I worry that this approach could empower partisans to seek disqualification every time a politician supports or speaks in support of the objectives of a political riot. Imagine how bad actors will use this theory. If that is what Section 3 necessarily means, we have to live with it. But in my opinion, we should seek the narrowest, most precise, least susceptible to abuse, definition that is consistent with history and precedent. In the absence of actual engagement in actual insurrection, judged as such by competent authorities, we should allow the American people to vote for the candidates of their choice.” • In other words, wait for the lawsuits against Democrats who supported Black Lives Matter (which some have characterized as a “rebellion.” Others not).

“The Conservative Legal Roadmap to Disqualify Trump From Office” [The New Republic]. “But [Baude and Paulsen’s] work stands as an important nudge for state and local election officials as they get ready to administer the 2024 elections, especially when it comes to deciding who can and can’t be on the ballot.” • As above. Though it won’t be some law review article that does the nudging, eh? Sounds to me like 2024 will be more volatile than we ever imagined. And here we go:

I looked up the Board of Directors for Bonifaz’s NGO. First hit: Ben Binswanger, former advisor to Teddy Kennedy. Dudes, come on.

“Of Insurrections, Presidents, and the Utter Failure of Constitutional Law to Address the Real Issues” [Dorf on Law]. “What Baude and Paulsen clearly missed, which Professor McConnell and Chief Justice Chase did not, is the most important question regarding the legal issues surrounding Section 3: what are its consequences? How will the authors’ interpretations play out in the real world?  Is it a good idea to apply Section 3 to President Trump specifically and the events of January 6th generally? Will Section 3 be badly abused in the future to people who, unlike Trump, do not deserve to be disqualified from office? There are no clear answers to those questions but those are the questions we should be debating (as McConnell did)…. Bush v. Gore provides an excellent example of how we would all be better served if justices and law professors focused more on facts and consequences and less on foolish formalisms. It is a well-accepted idea that the equal protection analysis conducted by the justices in that case reversed the justices’ normal partisan preferences on equal protection with all the conservatives giving the clause a broad reading and two liberals giving it a narrow reading. More importantly, the justices’ interference in that election may well have changed the course of human history (just ask the people of Iraq). That interference was not persuasively grounded in text, history, or precedent. The merits and jurisdictional issues were complex, contestable, and new. Retired Judge Richard Posner, who had no use for legal formalisms, believed the case was decided correctly because America needed an answer and he feared the chaos and confusion would be very dangerous if the Court let the case go until Florida could finish the recount [bullshit]. Whether you agree with that analysis or not, and I do not, we are talking about deciding an incredibly close presidential election. Pragmatic on-the-ground concerns are completely appropriate for this kind of monumental case, especially when the legal issues are blurry without persuasive answers. If he were able today to respond to the Baude and Paulsen article, he would say something like, ‘126 pages and not a word about the consequences and implications for our politics and our country of disqualifying Trump? That’s absurd.'” 

“Conservative Case Emerges to Disqualify Trump for Role on Jan. 6” [New York Times]. “‘There are many ways that this could become a lawsuit presenting a vital constitutional issue that potentially the Supreme Court would want to hear and decide,’ Professor Paulsen said [modestly].” • One could look at this as the RINOs finally keeping their own side of the street clean. But more volatility! 


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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.

* * *

“Please, Please Stop With the Progressive Hero Worship of Jack Smith and Tanya Chutkan” [Politico]. “Within days of being assigned to preside over Donald Trump’s unprecedented Washington trial, Judge Tanya Chutkan achieved a much more familiar modern political milestone: She became the subject of novelty T-shirt sales…. I get the impulse. Unfortunately, it undercuts everything the iconography is meant to celebrate… Chutkan is only the latest public employee whose interaction with Trump has turned her into an icon for the tote-bag-and-novelty-sock set. Last week, my colleague Calder McHugh wrote about the cult that has sprung up around Jack Smith, the man prosecuting Trump, complete with fanboy Twitter and Tiktok accounts and sales of a pillow depicting Smith as Jaws.” • The “adults in the room” also named their dogs after Mueller. Remember that?


“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

Presentation materials:

Thank you, Twitter (or X, as the case may be):


As I’ve been saying:


“Waning protection after vaccination and prior infection against COVID-19-related mortality over 18 months” [Clinical Microbiology]. N = 14,936. “[A]lthough vaccination and prior infection are protective against COVID-19-mortality, protection wanes considerably after six months. With SARS-CoV-2 increasingly moving towards endemicity, the continuous threat of new virus mutations, and the public health response predominantly relying on vaccines, waning of infection-induced, vaccine-induced and hybrid immunity should be monitored. This may allow identifying vulnerable population groups with insufficient immunity and provide the evidence base to further fine-tune vaccination recommendations.” • “May.” Indeed. 

Celebrity Watch

Hat tip to Dave Anthony (previously of the wonderful “The West Wing” podcast, so helpful in diagnosing liberal Democrat brain damage:


“The New COVID ‘Eris’ Variant and Rising Cases: What You Need to Know” [KQED]. “[Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at UCSF] says that in the context of previous rises in COVID cases over summer — and winter — he ‘kind of expected’ this latest surge for several reasons. The first, he said, is the amount of summer travel people have done — and are still doing: ‘More people moving around, record number of travelers, mixing people from more risky with less risky areas.’ The second is the presence of recent heat waves around the U.S. — and to some extent, within the Bay Area — and how they’ve driven people to seek shelter and moderate temperatures indoors: ‘Just like winter drives people indoors,’ Chin-Hong noted. Thirdly, there’s the fact of waning immunity. Whether people gained immunity from getting a COVID infection back in the winter or by getting their vaccine booster in the late fall of 2022, that’s about ‘six months and change’ ago, said Chin-Hong, ‘so people are losing immunity.’ ‘And we know that immunity wanes the fastest, from CDC data, in those who are over 65,’ he said. “”So that is all contributing to just a lot of more susceptible hosts.””

“With ‘Eris’ rising and now ‘Fornax,’ when are COVID cases likely to peak again? A look at what may lie ahead for fall and winter” [Fortune]. “As of Friday, another new player is more officially in the mix: ‘Fornax,’ or FL.1.5.1, an Eris relative named after a constellation in the southern hemisphere. That’s according to Ryan Gregory, a biology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, who has been assigning ‘street names’ like Kraken to high-flying variants…. FL.1.5.1 is the top variant currently reported in New York, considered a bellwether state by variant trackers…. But the current swell hovers higher than wastewater levels at past low points in the pandemic, including spring of last year and even May of 2020. In short, the damned thing’s still very much with us. From COVID’s introduction to humans in late 2019 through the initial Omicron wave in January 2022, ‘you kind of have big, distinct, sharp waves, a big peak that went up fast and came down fast, driven by an individual variant—Alpha, Delta, Omicron,’ he tells Fortune. But since last summer, there ‘just hasn’t been that pattern anymore.’ Instead, a new cadence developed—and it’s likely to continue this fall and winter. It’s one of a high wall of cases sustained by mini-waves of multiple new variants overlapping each other—one slicker, faster, sleeker Omicron spawn after the next. It’s all about the ‘high sea level rather than tsunamis,’ says Gregory.” • Until it isn’t?


“14th century Yersinia pestis genomes support emergence of pestis secunda within Europe” [PLOS Pathogens]. “Pestis secunda (1356–1366 CE) is the first of a series of plague outbreaks in Europe that followed the Black Death (1346–1353 CE). Collectively this period is called the Second Pandemic. From a genomic perspective, the majority of post-Black Death strains of Yersinia pestis thus far identified in Europe display diversity accumulated over a period of centuries that form a terminal sub-branch of the Y. pestis phylogeny…. Through consideration of historical sources that explore first documentation of the pandemic in today’s Central Germany, we argue that these data provide robust evidence to support a post-Black Death evolution of the pathogen within Europe rather than a re-introduction from outside.” • The Black Death killed 25% of Europe’s population, Pestis secunda 10-20%. So one could argue that Yersinia pestis did, in fact, get “milder.” I’m not sure I would want to, however.


“Prevalence of Symptoms ≤12 Months After Acute Illness, by COVID-19 Testing Status Among Adults — United States, December 2020–March 2023” [Morbibity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC]. “These findings expand the understanding of post-COVID conditions. Previous studies have reported symptom prevalence estimates across varied, nonstandardized periods or at a single point in time, resulting in challenges comparing studies and difficulty distinguishing among the presence of reported persistent symptoms at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, those that resolved and then reemerged, and those that emerged after initial recovery (3–9). Few previous longitudinal studies have compared symptoms in COVID test–positive participants with those in persons with a COVID-like illness and who received negative SARS-CoV-2 test results. By conducting serial measurements of emerging and ongoing symptoms, this study was able to ascertain that participants who were symptomatic at a given time point included participants with ongoing symptoms as well as those with emerging symptoms (i.e., symptoms that were not present 3 months earlier). The inclusion of participants with COVID-like illness and negative test results guides discussions on characterizing symptoms associated with post-COVID conditions (10). This differentiation adds nuance and clarity to the natural history of post-COVID conditions and characterizes the fluctuating nature of symptoms over time and recognizes that these symptoms are not unique to COVID-19 or to post-COVID conditions. Many participants experienced new symptoms ≥6 months after the acute illness, suggesting that the prevalence of emerging symptoms in the months after acute COVID-like illness might be considerable. Cognitive difficulties and extreme fatigue were two common symptoms that emerged after 6 months and are often reported to occur with post-COVID conditions (1,3,6,9). Differentiating between symptoms that resolve and emerge over time helps to characterize post-COVID conditions and suggests that measurements at single time points underestimate or mischaracterize the true effects of disease.” • Too bad NIH p*ssed away a billion dollars without looking for biological markers, but here we are.

“Teen Suicide Plummeted During Covid-19 School Closures, New Study Finds” [Forbes]. “Researchers with the University of Texas’s Houston School of Public Health studied more than 73,000 emergency department visits and hospitalizations between 2016 and 2021, of which there were an average of 964 suicide-related visits per 100,000 children between ages 10 and 18 each year. The rate of suicidality among young people, which has been increasing for a decade, rose from 760 per 100,000 children in 2016 to 1,006 in 2019 before an unexpected decrease in 2020—the first year of the pandemic—brought the rate down to 942. The study also found peaks in suicidal ideation in April and October of most years, with a dramatic low in the summer months when school was not in session, but in 2020 saw a disruption in that seasonal pattern with the lowest suicidality rates in April and May—when schools were closed for Covid.” • And all the GBD goons yammering to this very day about the unforgivable damage our half-assed lockdowns did.

“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

“New emails show COVID vaccine mandates were based on a lie” [Washington Examiner]. Missed this in June, still germane. “Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and former NIH Director Francis Collins were aware of, and discussed, ‘breakthrough cases’ of COVID in January 2021 — right when the vaccines became widely available. In her email, Walensky says that ‘clearly,’ it is an ‘important area of study,’ links to a study raising the issue, and assures the person she is sending it to that Dr. Anthony Fauci is looped into these conversations. However, in public, Walensky was saying something quite different. Two months after discussing this data, she said vaccinated people ‘don’t carry the virus’ and ‘don’t get sick.’ In a congressional hearing, after it became clear people were able to get infected with COVID even after receiving the vaccine, she defended her original statements by claiming it was true at the time she said it — namely, for the strands we were dealing with in early 2021. We now know that was not true and that Walensky herself knew it was not true.” • Anything that empowers Jay Bhattacharya is bad…. 

Has anyone else heard from this little bird?

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, August 14:

Lambert here: Not much of a jump over the last three days. Happy memories of tape-watching days! It will be interesting to see what happens when schools open up. I would like to congratulate the Biden administration and the public health establishment, the CDC especially, for this enormous and unprecedented achievement. And a tip of the ol’ Water Cooler hat to the Great Barrington goons, whose policies have been followed so assiduously! A curious fact: All of Biden’s peaks are higher than Trump’s peaks. Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders! Musical interlude. NOTE I’m not happy that Biobot can’t update this data more frequently. 

Regional data:

No backward revisions; perhaps the Midwest surge, and leveling off everywhere else, is real. Let’s wait and see. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

Regional variant data, August 5.

EG.5 (the orange pie slice) still seems evenly distributed. Sadly, the Midwest data is not available, so we can’t infer anything about the Midwest surge and any variant(s), one way or the other. 


NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 5:

From CDC, July 22:

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, August 5:

Lambert here: Increase is even more distinct. (The black line is “combined”, but it is easy to see that Covid, the red line, is driving everything.)

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, August 14:

-0.7%. A pause here, too? Interestingly, people are citing to this, too, as well as Biobot. Vertical-ish, 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 24:

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, August 9:

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: 1,172,112 – 1,171,692 = 420 (420 * 365 = 153,300 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, August 15:

Lambert here:  Back to almost dailiy. Odd when it is, odd when it stops. 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. )

• “Covid still significant as mortality rate jumps” [The Actuary]. The UK. “The Continuous Mortality Investigation’s (CMI) Q1 2023 update reveals that 20,000 excess deaths were reported between January and March – the highest number since the pandemic’s second wave in Q1 2021, when they topped 30,000. It reports that, between January and March, 8,600 deaths registered in the UK mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate. This accounts for around 40% of total excess deaths…. The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in week 13 of 2023 was 10,374 –1,210 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in the 13th week of 2019 and equivalent to 12% more deaths than expected.”

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index sank to -19 in August of 2023 from 1.1 in July, well below market forecasts of -1, and pointing to the first decline in manufacturing activity in the NY state in three months.”

Retail: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US were up 0.7% month-over-month in July of 2023, marking a fourth consecutive rise, and beating market forecasts of a 0.4% increase. It follows an upwardly revised 0.3% gain in June, in another sign consumer spending remains strong despite high prices and borrowing costs. Sales in July likely got a boost from Amazon’s Prime Day.”

* * *

Media: “ESPN Is About To Get Much More Annoying” [Defector]. “ESPN announced on Tuesday that it was making a billion-dollar deal with casino company Penn Entertainment. Over the next 10 years, Penn will pay ESPN $2 billion in exchange for the right to slap ESPN’s name on its sportsbook, and for the ability to market that sportsbook through ESPN’s various media channels. This is going to suck. The legalization of sports gambling has made being a sports fan much more annoying. Over the last few years, the entire sports media industry has been steadily and increasingly underwritten by advertising dollars from sportsbooks, who have made deals with as many leagues, publications, and broadcasters as possible in order to get more bettors onto their apps. Not so long ago, you could watch an NBA broadcast on TNT without Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith interrupting the action to tell you about an exciting new parlay available on whatever stupid gambling app they are in bed with, but that time has passed. To watch, listen, and read about sports now is to be assaulted by advertising for a product meant to separate you from your money as quickly as possible.” • Because markets.

Tech: I finally figured out how to turn off Chrome-clone Opera’s stupid AI pop-up (and at least I could, kudos to Opera):

Ha ha! Why on earth not? Looks like Bud from Legal has been at work here…. 

Tech: “Notes on using a single-person Mastodon server” [Julia Evans]. “There’s no way to search past posts you’ve read. If I see something interesting on my timeline and want to find it later, I usually can’t. (Mastodon has a Elasticsearch-based search feature, but it only allows you to search your own posts, your mentions, your favourites, and your bookmarks). These limitations on search are intentional (and a very common source of arguments) – it’s a privacy / safety issue. Here’s a summary from Tim Bray with lots of links.” • Well, no wonder very few people moved to Mastodon from Twitter. Yikes. Especially when Google search is so horrid. For anything newsworthy, Twitter is often superior. Not so Mastodon!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 15 at 12:52 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! 

Feral Hog Watch

“Feral Pigs Are Increasingly Running Wild In Some Oahu Neighborhoods” [Honolulu Civil Beat]. “As roving herds of feral pigs get bigger and more intimidating, grunting and rooting in backyards island-wide, many people living in Oahu’s forested valleys are starting to feel the menace. Martha Noyes, 73, of Pacific Heights, recently left her purchases in the car overnight rather than venture outside in the dark while a herd of pigs — as many as 20 at a time, some weighing 150 pounds or more — snorted and lumbered across her lawn. ‘A couple of times I have felt genuinely threatened,’ she said recently. ‘They don’t like it when we come outside. Sometimes I can’t get to my car.’ … Nobody seems sure why the pig population has shot up so quickly and in so many places. Some think dry weather at higher elevations has caused pigs to forage farther afield. Others think that people in residential neighborhoods began feeding pigs during the Covid-19 shutdown, which attracted more of them to affluent urban suburbs.” • That’s a Jackpot-level cascading effect!


“The wait between major video game sequels is getting longer” [Axios]. “Whether it’s Zelda or God of War or Assassin’s Creed or Forza, new installments take more time to develop than they did a decade ago, as annual releases or two-year gaps give way to dev cycles lasting five years or more…. Fans expect bigger, more graphically detailed games each time out, several developers mentioned to Axios, which requires bigger teams and richer budgets. The often-painstaking process of finding the fun in game design, requiring multiple iterations and the scrapping of lots of work, doesn’t get any faster with more people on board…. To make their money back, publishers have de-emphasized quick-turnaround sequels by diverting resources into a single big game’s expansions and seasons of post-release content, chasing recurring live-service game revenue… ‘There just aren’t as many games being made overall,’ [analyst Doug Creutz] says.” • We don’t need games. We have our games…. 

Class Warfare

“Boots Riley on SAG, WGA Strikes and the Future of Hollywood’s Labor Movement” (interview) [Teen Vogue]. RILEY: “I heard this saying at one point, that class consciousness was knowing what side of the fence you were on; class analysis is knowing who’s there with you. What I’m seeing is people realizing who’s there with them, connecting with each other, strategizing, and actually being in each other’s faces and spaces, meeting in person. It has created this culture that, for some folks, it’s their first time having that. For other folks, like me, it’s something they maybe know about, but haven’t been having in their life right now. I think that’s one thing the [studios don’t] realize, is that it’s fun, right? That doesn’t mean people aren’t worried about the fact that everything stopped, especially for folks on crews, like IATSE and Teamsters — there’s a lot of work not happening. But again, that feeling of being together with people is something that’s a payoff in and of itself.”

News of the Wired

“Some blogging myths” [Julia Evans]. “Blogging isn’t for everyone. Tons of amazing developers don’t have blogs or personal websites at all. I write because it’s fun for me and it helps me organize my thoughts.” • A fun post on blogging. Still dulce et utile today!

* * *

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 Chet G:

Chet G: “This photo is one of those rare ones in which I found out the name of the flower: birdsfoot trefoil. I consider the bumblebee in the photo to be a bonus.”

* * *

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 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. John

      Early pages of The Godfather: The local Black Hand protection racketeer just wants to dip his beak. Lots of beak dipping these days.

  1. pjay

    The broad mainstream coverage of Baude and Paulson’s long law review article convinces me that my original suspicion was correct; that this “exhaustive” year long work was part of the “all hands on deck” mobilization against Trump by all factions of the Establisment. Their arguments will now be amplified everywhere. This level of demonization is truly extraordinary.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      regarding me and trump,lol:
      i loathe the guy…and always have. never watched his show, never paid any mind to “lifestyles of the rich and famous”, for that matter…i found him odious whenever i saw him on tv, and generally avoid people like him like the proverbial plague.
      but i was once a Folk Devil, too…cuz i rescued that girl, and her powerful dad set the dogs upon me.
      …so i sympathise.
      i’m certain that this is not what the demparty intended,lol.
      it has only further served to ensure that i will never vote D, again…after the numerous betrayals: Clinton to Obama(to be clear, i voted third party all my voting life, save the first obama candidacy) to the Doddering Corpse from Mastercard.
      I remain Unrepresented.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I first learned of the Dreyfus affair when our rickety local theater decided to give us kids The Life of Emile Zola one Saturday. It stuck with me because I had no idea at the time why the Dreyfus affair was a thing.

      A lot easier to feel the answer to that today, the pariahography of Il Douche is just a bright well-shined example.

      I’m now inclined to think that the reason the 1918 flu kept falling out of history is because at the end everybody was p!ssed off at everybody else.

    1. Bugs

      He’s got a great series on amazon prime called “I’m a Virgo” about a 19 yo black kid who happens to be 13ft tall. Boots is a Marxist and proud to say it. He’s worked many, many years to get this work out.

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      Today I Learned (abbreviated as #TIL) …

      Boots Riley has a band named Coup and they sing a song called “Guillotine”!!!


  2. Lambert Strether Post author

    [Taps mike]

    Can it be that Section Three is boring?! I think we’re going to be hearing quite a bit about it, so study up!

    Meanwhile, I added some orts and scraps.

    1. ambrit

      A classic tactic of PMCs everywhere is to make the essence of control as boring as possible. Hide your sins in plain sight.
      Reminds me of a little known story by Poe; “The Purloined Republic.” Spoiler alert; the missing Republic was hidden in full view of everyone in among the letters of the Law.

      1. Acacia

        Hmm? Maybe missing some irony here but I thought “The Purloined Republic” was by James Morrow, in the über-TDS-addled work of speculative fiction And the Last Trump Shall Sound.

        1. ambrit

          Groan! I am so, insignificant!
          “The Purloined Republic” is really by William R Morrow, and it first aired on CBS! It’s up there with Saint Obama’s “Thus From D.C. Then I Came.”
          Some are now considering rebooting the Biden Hagiography with Bernie Sanders playing the John the Baptist role. I’m looking forward to the part where Obama takes “Creepy” Joe up onto a high place and makes him the ‘Offer He Cannot Refuse.’ And who shall play Caiaphas, Hank Paulson, Jerome Powell, Robert Reich?
          When “Creepy” Joe is nailed to the Cross of Gold, the tears will flow.
          Phil Dick is right. The Roman Empire never ended.

    2. Pat

      I will have to start reading them. But going in I have one big question.
      If Trump is acquitted or at least not convicted, doesn’t that essentially destroy any justification for its use? I would also think that before the trial this will be thrown out, as innocent until proven guilty is a corner stone of the American Justice System. IOW, once again I think the we’re going to destroy Trump team is celebrating in the end zone while there is still a quarter to go in the game.

      And my doubt about conviction being a slam dunk is not just based on possible jury nullification. I just think that there are enough factors that could inject big dollops of doubt into the narrative and the overkill increases the need for the plaintiff to actually prove their case. And frankly so far I have not seen that the DOJ prosecutors and most of the state DAs are that much more competent than Trump’s people.

      1. Bugs

        It’s a longish law review article and it’s also a very specific area of Constitutional Law that is being argued. I can’t say I’ve kept up on Con Law as much as I used to after leaving law school but the argument is compelling (and interesting to read) and the writing and citations are at a very high level. This is in Penn Law Review as well, so there’s that. I would like to read a counterargument by some other competent constitutional scholar(s), because I’m sure there is one to be made.

        My initial flinching reaction after getting all the way through the article was “this election is going to be a massive sh##show, even worse than 2016, 2020…”.

        1. Lee

          Having just gotten into it a bit, the authors state that no action is necessary by Congress or the courts to either deem who is guilty of such an offences nor are actions by law enforcement agencies required to take action as regards those so deemed. The authors state that various federal and state officials out of loyalty to the Constitution will through bureacratic means, I assume, prevent such persons from showing up on ballots, or something. Yeah, but what if some of these officials don’t cooperate? Put me out of my misery by saving me from having to read the whole thing, and be so kind as to enlighten me on the point raised.

          1. Bugs

            tl;dr it means that constitutional officers are forbidden by the nature of their duties from including a violator of Sec. 3 on an official ballot.

      2. Carolinian

        First they came for Trump, then they came for me? The premise of all this churn seems to be not that the law is sacred but that Trump is an easy patsy for almost any kind of accusation due to his lack of “couth.” After all they started off saying he was a secret agent for Russia so nowhere to go from there but down.

        And to be sure Trump is very far from being statesman material but then how does that standard work with the dotty and dangerous Biden?

        It is ironic that the Dems used to spend all their time raging about “originalists” and text parsers but now get excited about same when it becomes “any stick to beat a dog.” That’s what’s really going on. Why should we respect it?

        And Trump is part of it because he would never have been president if the Dems, and Repubs, weren’t as bad as they are. Instead of poring over ancient laws time for a fresh start.

    3. Ranger Rick

      They think they’re going to get Trump by changing the definition of “participated in insurrection”? This must have been in play before the whole thing took place, because everyone describing it as insurrection had other words they could have used.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        As lambert mentions above, if the lawfare types manage to convince a court that the events of Jan 6 qualify as an insurrection, I really don’t see how republicans won’t go after politicians who supported BLM protests to disqualify them from office too. While the “insurrectionists” on Jan 6 wore funny hats and took selfies, I seem to remember people setting neighborhoods on fire during the BLM protests. Granted, it was likely spook provocateurs lighting the matches (I remember watching the verdict on the cop in the Michael Brown case live and protests were peaceful despite the not guilty verdict – peaceful until a few guys in black masks managed to destroy one suspiciously unmanned police cruiser when there were literally thousands of law enforcement types in the area to prevent such things from happening), but the protests had a lot of liberal support. Including mine.

        1. John

          What is an insurrection? Surely the Whiskey Rebellion and the Civil War qualify. What about the Nullification Attempt in South Carolina in 1832, IIRC, and what about Virginia’s Massive Resistance Laws in the mid-1950s and Mississippi’s Nullification Laws in the circa 1960. Each had some of the stigmata of insurrection. How is January 6 and the events preceding it different? There were clear attempts to call the outcome of the election into question and alter the officially reported results. Most of those actions looked amateurish to me at the time. Mr. Trump spoke out, made telephone calls, and claimed the election had been stolen from him. He is indicted for some of those efforts in Georgia in the latest instance. Is that insurrection? Mr. Trump implored the vice president to act in a way that, as far as I know, is without precedent in all US history. He made a speech and his partisans marched to the Capitol building with the result we all know? Insurrection? Had Mr. Trump been continued as president of the USA, I would say yes, it was an insurrection. Does failing count? What as the intent? Are these legal or political questions? Are they both legal and political questions? Can narrow legalisms provide a generally acceptable answer? In the current political atmosphere, the answer is a clear no. Where does that leave us? Waist deep?

    4. Even keel

      It’s a terrible idea.

      Partisan secretaries of state deciding something is an “insurrection” without any hearing of any type? Based on whatever they read in the newspaper? Or whatever a fixer whispers in her ear?

      Secretaries of state are usually partisan hacks, trying to set themselves up for higher office. Take shemia fagan in Oregon. She basically just recently resigned for taking bribes from a pot company to influence an audit of the state’s joint liquor/pot regulatory agency (audit’s conclusion: we should loosen pot regulations). Before her we had Val hoyle, who used the name recognition and patronage she built to parley her way into congress.

      Why would we want to give someone like that power?

      Then, suppose it gets challenged. Election suits are generally the worst because they generally can’t get resolved in time for the election itself.

      This one will be the worst, because the Secretary of State will time her decision so as to be far enough before the election to print ballots, but close enough so that a court challenge (where, I suppose, the candidate carries the burden of proof that his actions did not amount to “insurrection”) does not have time for a fair evidentiary hearing and appellate review.

      The civil war was an insurrection. That’s it the only indisputable case. The 14th amendment was in direct response to that particular case.

      Otherwise, the person should have to be convicted by a court of designated crimes in order to be disqualified under the amendment.

      A law review article in penn, or wherever, just means it has a lot of jargon and research behind it. I’m not impressed by the length. The torture memos were long too.

    5. JBird4049

      It is not that Section Three is boring. It is that the whole is very contrived. Since I saw the interview of former Capital Hill Police Steven Sund by Tucker Carlson, I have understood that 1/6 escapades involved far more than the Orange Menace. However, Congress did not due a thorough investigate, nor has all the surveillance tape of the event been released.

      Really, if they were intent on not having Trump be president they could use the emolument clause in Article I, Section Nine, Clause 8. Since President Biden and much of Congress could also be hit with it, they will not.

      This is why, although I will study Section Three more, the whole situation just disgust me. Corrupt and/or very incompetent people using lawfare to prevent the election of another corrupt politician because they do not want to actually campaign against him.

      We all know that whatever happens, this will encourage the use of lawfare and payback in the future.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We all know that whatever happens, this will encourage the use of lawfare and payback in the future.

        Welcome to the Third World (where, let us remember, the rich do very well for themselves; servants are cheap).

  3. truly

    Can anyone help me find an article, IIRC by Doctorow, on Techno feudalism? My searches have failed.

    In my search I accidentally came across this, which I think is worth sharing.
    Historic Roots of Donbass Problem.


    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      thats Yannis Vairouvkas(which i can never remember how to spell..)…the greek economist and actual democracy champion.
      he has a book fixin to be out(or out already) by that name, and has been hollerin about it all over the parts of the web where actual leftists are kept.

  4. ambrit

    Has anyone considered the psychological effect the defenestration of Trump will have on the “deplorables?”
    Insofar as he can establish a connection between his persona and the self images of “deplorables” everywhere, Trump can engage said “deplorables” in the drama of being an outsider being suppressed by The Powers That Be. A classic ‘in-group’ ‘out-group’ dynamic ensues. The PMCs and other Establishment actors had better thank their lucky stars that Trump is not a dedicated nor effective fascist. They are creating the monster they purport to want to avoid making. They should fear whoever follows in the footsteps of Trump. That person will be the real danger. In a very perverse sense, Trump can be considered as being a Vanguard of the “Deplorables.”
    The old Republican Party Establishment used to be characterized as the “Country Club Republicans.” Trump has broadened the base of the Republican Party into a group we can call the “Par Three Republicans.” Notice that both groups are playing the same game, just at different class levels.
    Finally, the present state of play in the political arena shows that those self describing as “Progressives” are anything but Left. Until I hear of an American main line political group calling for the public ownership of the means of production, I’ll keep my powder dry.

    1. some guy

      Trump has long been running on this concept. He has said over and over and over again, as in this quote from June 10,2023, ” In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you — and I’m just standing in their way.”

      Here’s a whole bunch of meme-images illustrating that concept. I don’t know how many are made by Trump’s official people as against how many are made by fans as a labor of love, honor and respect. Here is the link to that whole bunch of memes.
      (I note with particular interest and amusement the meme in meme-shot number 12, counting from left to right across the very topmost row of images and then going to the next row and keeping counting from left to right. Meme-image number 12 is of Netanyahu with the caption in Hebrew, and I bet it says the very same thing.)

      So Trump presents himself as an identification-with magnet for the Deplorables and Deplorable-wannabes just as Hillary Clinton presents herself as an indentification-with magnet for the Goldman Sachs Feminists and the Goldman Sachs Feminist-wannabes. ” 18 million cracks in the Glass Ceiling” . . . etc. Of course she meant HER glass ceiling . . . her Tiffany Glass Ceiling.

    2. chris

      They’d have to consider the deplorables first. That seems to be something that the people in power don’t want to do.

      For example, consider how popular a works progress administration type law creating a federal job guarantee would make you with all kinds of voters. And consider how much of the US public wants a public insurance type program so that medical care free at point of use for most people. And yet, we have all the resistance to those ideas at every level of media and government necessary to make sure that neither will ever happen.

      The answer seems to be we will take what we’re given and we’ll like it. Or else. There’s no room for thinking about what lower class, working class, poor and miserable people of all backgrounds will think about the current situation if that’s your perspective. And the PMC and other hangers on will agree with that approach until they realize they’re working class too. Which may be never.

      1. tegnost

        consider how popular a works progress administration type law creating a federal job guarantee would make you with all kinds of voters.

        then consider how popular that would make you with el jeffee bezos and his attendants.
        I’m sorry for it, but policies like jobs guarantee and m4a are buried under a mountain of moolah

        1. ambrit

          File this under Department of Esoteric Synchrony.
          Isn’t “Moolah Moolah” the ‘Fight Song’ of the Yale ‘secret society’ “Skull and Bones?”

    1. Sardonia

      Unbeknownst to the candle-buyers, once it burns down a half-inch or so, it sets off a stick of dynamite.

      1. ambrit

        Are you saying that Smith works out of that infamous old Hollywood law firm, Grubb, Delve, and Coyote? (That must be an ACME candle.)

    2. Onward to Dystopia

      I’m not on Facebook, but I took a peek over my partner’s shoulder today and fell down a bottomless abyss of pure nuclear-grade lib cringe. It’s a shame all of this stuff is stored social media because it will all be lost to time and we’ll forget how utterly stupid this entire period of time was. But it’s probably only going to get worse, so there’s far dumber frontiers ahead and this won’t seem so bad.
      I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone in power addressing anything that affects my day-to-day life, it’s either boring Trump minutiae, or war-hawkery. We don’t solve problems anymore.

      1. ambrit

        “We don’t solve problems anymore.”
        We view them as opportunities to improve our financial well being.
        “They created a desert from the company they had bought and call it ‘Enhanced Shareholder Return.'”

  5. Pat

    I compared Fauci’s mask lie to the announcement that the blood supply was safe during the early years of AIDS. i believe I have that one wrong. I think it might really be the big Vaccine lie that is the real heir to that deadly bit of misinformation. Deliberately giving the idea that if you are vaccinated you cannot get Covid, and you could not be infectious to others would probably be justified with “we wouldn’t get people to vaccinate if they didn’t think it was foolproof” aka sterilizing.

    Lying to the public may not be new for the CDC and NIH, but there is no question in my mind that it has trashed its reputation among all but the biggest cheerleaders for neoliberal governance. And as they and/or their friends develop long Covid or other illnesses because their immune system has been compromised they will probably slip away as well.

    1. mrsyk

      My image of the NIH is a vision of peak bureaucratic dysfunction. Think Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”. The CDC seems to be run directly out of the west wing. Nationally, “Public Health” is dead, although I’m sure some enterprising PE firm will come up with an alternative.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        Brazil is within my top five favorite films(altho sadly not in my dvd library).
        prescient in so many ways.
        because Tammi had cancer, she was apparently shunted into a different Medicaid System than i had been for a mere dead hip.
        hers was easy-peasy…almost automatic(drug and hosp corps(e) make bank on cancer treatment)
        mine, was just like in that film.
        rigamarole, for no apparent purpose but to deny service…and make me give up at the earliest possible juncture.

        1. John Beech

          Good friend took a fall. Nothing spectacular, bounced right up. Few days later begins complaining of hip pain. Darn knob of bone died. Didn’t know that could happen. Ended up with a replacement hip. Somehow the surgeon miscalculated (don’t ask me how) but he now wears a 1″ build-up on his shoes. Yup, as costly as you might surmise, an added $200 each time he goes shopping for footwear. Could have died from it.

  6. aj

    Video games are actually seeing a quality resurgence right now. After many years of major studios releasing the same game with minor tweaks every year, always online schemes and games filled with loot boxes and microtransactions, we are seeing some pushback. Games that are ready to go out of the box like Fromsoft’s Elden Ring and (later this year) Armored Core 6, and the newest hit Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 are proving that studios can make money by creating fun games with good stories rather than nickel and diming their customers. I for one, look forward to the death of EA, Blizzard/Activision, Microsoft and the other bad actors in gaming.

    As for Boots Riley, my wife and I just got done watching I’m a Virgo and it was incredible. The ability to tell a coherent story with a progressive message amid all the absurdity is a hard thing to pull off. I was also pleasantly surprised when Walton Goggins showed up as the villain Hero. I’m looking forward to a season 2.

  7. Raymond Sim

    Re the Biobot regional charts: Sacramento’s wastewater graph has also gone vertical. I regard Sacramento as something of a regional bellwether.

    A highly divergent variant has been detected in Israel and Denmark. It’s likely already a nontrivial presence there and elsewhere.

    If ‘Something Awful’ were about to reset, this is about what I’d expect it to look like.

  8. semper loquitur

    Lost, Soiled, Sobbing: AI Bus Routes TRAUMATIZE KY School Kids | Breaking Points

    Krystal looks into the Kentucky school bus disaster that used AI to design new routes, leaving kids stranded and soiled


    1. mrsyk

      Dear god. The company that provided the AI generated routes is called AlphaRoute. Apparently they’ve produced disasters for other municipalities including Boston. AlphaRoute’s founder is Dimitris Bertsimas, as described on the “Who We Are” tab:
      Dimitris is a serial entrepreneur, founder of Dynamic Ideas and AlphaRoute. He is also current Associate Dean of Business Analytics, Boeing Professor of Operations Research and faculty director of the Master of Business analytics at MIT.
      Here’s the link.

      1. lambert strether

        “Boeing Professor of Operations Research.” There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought that was funny….

  9. semper loquitur

    How liberal comedians became lap dogs for establishment power w/Lee Camp | The Chris Hedges Report

    The fusion of politics, news, and entertainment has given prominence to comics like Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Bill Maher, who serve as attack dogs for the Democratic Party, which has joined forces with the establishment wing of the old Republican Party against Donald Trump and his supporters. By belittling Trump and his followers, these comics feed the smug, self-righteousness of the ruling establishment, bolstering their sense of moral and intellectual superiority. All the while, they remain comfortably constrained by the corporations and advertisers that employ them. They function as court jesters, never questioning the right of the rulers to rule or the terrible social injustices built into a rigged system. They serve as attack dogs for establishment power, directing their comedic barbs at critics of the system, even if these critics come from the left. Comedian and political commentator Lee Camp joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the transformation of comedy from an art form rooted in the counterculture to one that has largely become a megaphone for power


    1. digi_owl

      Yeah, comedy jumped the shark somewhere around the election of Trump.

      Also saw it with online comics where plenty shifted from their daily dose of humor to scathing polemics about how bad people were for electing Trump rather than HRC.

      That said, i think the rot had set in during or soon after Occupy but only broke surface after Trump.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Saw Lee Camp do live standup a few years back. Definitely worth the price of admission if he goes on tour again.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I see some of those late night comedians on TV here in Oz occasionally and they are universally not very funny. Every bit of humour they do has to be topical and which outdates quickly. If anything, they remind me of Caesar Flickerman, the host from the Hunger Games.

  10. digi_owl

    Nah, gamers do not expect better graphics every release. Gaming “journalists” do because it makes for good padding for their purple prose. And also that hardware manufacturers need an excuse to sell their latest.

    Sadly even indie studios are going for graphics over gameplay these days, either excused with “souls-like” or claiming they are replicating the heyday of console gaming.

    Frankly gaming peaked somewhere early 2000s when the programmable shader was introduced to GPUs. After that it has all been useless wankery, as game studios have Hollywood envy while raking in more pr year.

  11. John Beech

    So a photo of a woman wearing a mask is shown above, her deal is they should look fashionable – but – there is zero information about what it is, who makes it, or where to buy. Honestly? This has become so depressing I’m becoming trained to not click on twitter links as they no longer take you to the thread. Anyway, I am seeking a mask with exhaust valve like the one that woman is wearing in that Twitter post. While i could do without flowers, I also don’t really care.

    Note, I recently purchase Flo Mask ($90 each). This, based on a comment made here. Unfortunately, I am about to return them as I find mine uncomfortable after 30 minutes. That, and my wife (more narrow face structure) complains about leakage on the sides.

    Point being, it’s not like I’m looking for el cheapo masking because I’m perfectly willing to get off my wallet. Anyway, N95 ‘and’ I have now decided to try ones with an exhaust valve. Recently purchased a construction worked type ($20 white, woven, molded but NIOSH rated N95) and stayed much cooler and more comfortable. FYI, I wore it for several hours before ordering more. I just don’t like the white as it makes one more conspicuous (yes, I’ve been challenged by the less enlightened).

    Finally, before someone observes the valve-type means letting my unfiltered breath out more readily, to be honest, since I’m one of only 5% wearing a mask, I don’t care.

    1. John Beech

      OK, I lied. Seems I’m price sensitive after all. Tried something I’d read of but never done, a reverse image search.

      First, I saved the image posted on twitter (right click make your selection). Then I went to a website (search for ‘free reverse image search’), the free bit is important as there are paid variations. As it turns out just sharing the URL for the image would have been enough so I never needed to actually save it on my own computer. Anyway, I found the mask . . . it’s about $450. Here’s the search itself;


      And this is the mask in question;

      Me? I’d like it about $100 worth, but just in black because the little moon thingies are branding I’d sooner not display on my face. But for $450 I’ll wear the white woven 3M mask, instead.

      1. Acacia

        Hey, thanks for digging that up. Image search can be useful, yeah. Agree on the price points.

        I’ve also been mulling a Flo Mask as an alternative to 3M Aura, but it’s pricey for something that might not fit properly. Alas, the search continues.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      “…valve-type means letting my unfiltered breath out more readily, to be honest, since I’m one of only 5% wearing a mask, I don’t care.”
      amen, brother,lol.

      i rarely leave the farm…and i only encounter people out here outside.
      (Wilderness Bar).
      and when i do come down out of the hills, i breeze in and breeze out of wherever i hafta go.
      and i generally time those excursions when there aint nobody there.
      but when i do feel the need to mank up(threat assessment…why is this considered strange?)…i wear a dern bandanna.
      because i am long haired and bearded and generally shaggy.
      all the high falutin mask options i see recced here dont take into consideration that some of us look like mountain men….or woodwoses…Ghan-Buri-Ghan…
      aint no seal unless i put on a moonsuit.
      but in my circumstances, the bandannas work for me.
      ive had covid twice….tested neg both times…and both times brought home by my own disease vectors(wife and boys).
      Youngest will be a Senior as of manana…and i expect him to bring home various bugs(even though he no longer rolls on bathroom floors, etc)…and so i will avoid hugs, etc.
      and remain outside until it gets too cold.

      i’ll also get a flu vax, like always.
      free from school nurse.
      in the parking lot.
      (she’s hot, too, with a smoky voice,lol…we discuss ad hoc disease surveillance in grocery store med aisle, etc)
      but i’ll be derned if i get another mRNA vax.
      i’d like to get one of the ones Cuba has developed…but thats verboten.
      one does what one can.
      i’m fortunate that i rarely hafta venture forth from here and interact with the disease ridden, mindless herd.

  12. Wukchumni

    He was on his way home after blowing his top
    Been two weeks since the election came & gone and he thought he’d stop
    At the Mar-a-Largo and have him a think & he went home to Florida
    Rudy said, “Hello”
    He said, “Hi, what’s new?”
    And Rudy said, “Sit down, I got some bad news that’s gonna hurt”

    Said, “I’m your best friend and you know that’s right
    But you might have blown it tonight
    Since the election is gone, you’ve been seeing that Brad boy, Rothenberger
    Now he got mad and he saw red
    Rudy said, “Boy, don’t you lose your head
    ‘Cause to tell you the truth, I’ve been with him myself”

    That’s the night that the lights went out on the hard right in Georgia
    That’s the night that they hung an insouciance man out to dry
    Well, don’t trust your soul to no backwoods southern lawyer named Sidney
    ‘Cause the grand jury in the state’s got justice in its hands

  13. Amfortas the Hippie

    adjacent to one of the links:
    FTA:”“Once you label psychopathy as a clinical disorder characterized by extreme violence, then all the positive adjustment traits get pushed to the side,” she says. “And now researchers are just kind of backtracking on themselves a little bit and saying, hang on, what about all these good things.””

    I mean, Dude!
    the System already selects for psychopathy….if you aint one, you must pretend to be one to “get ahead”…
    this looks like an attempt at normalising, somehow, the worst beheviors humans produce.

  14. ChrisRUEcon


    I’m tempted to leave any questions to the experts (via YouTube) here … and I’m also remembering that the walls have forever been closing in on Trump without actually closing in.

    > One could look at this as the RINOs finally keeping their own side of the street clean.

    LOL … right?! If a movie were made, the title would be “Revenge Of The RINO’s”! Starring Alec Baldwin as …

    One thing we know about voters on the right, is that they don’t suffer from the kind of pussy-hat-wearing, impotent rage as Acela corridor liberals. Some of those RINO’s will get voted out, so … #CaveatEmptor

    1. ambrit

      Curious this. This is the end of the comments section.
      No ‘Leave a Reply’, just “Copyright @2006-2023 Northern Lights Life Coaches Inc. etc. etc.”
      PS: Zounds! It’s back!

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Oooops … hopefully I was not guilty of leaving an unclosed HTML tag!


        Looks normal now … :)

  15. Ignacio

    When there is such a mosaic of variants, some of them new, how do you decide which booster to recommend? Crossing fingers? Betting in a dart game? Who cares?

  16. some guy

    Cory Doctorow and his word ” enshittification” for the planned degradation and velcro-decoy hamster-wheelification of various digital platforms once they have attracted and trapped an addicted customer base has been featured here at NaCap.

    Well, just now Ran Prieur tells us that Cory Doctorow is “kickstarting a book to end enshittification” and is not doing it on or through Amazon. .. . ” Cory Doctorow is Kickstarting a book to end enshittification, because Amazon will not carry it. More precisely, he won’t sell it on Amazon because they require DRM, and I wouldn’t either. “When a tech company can lock in its users and suppliers, it can drain value from both sides, using DRM and other lock-in gimmicks to keep their business even as they grow ever more miserable on the platform.”

    Here is the link to info about Cory Doctorow’s new book specifically . . .

    Here is the link to the Ran Prieur blog where I found this to begin with.

Comments are closed.