2:00PM Water Cooler 8/23/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Bornean Wren-Babbler, Danum Valley Research Station, Sabah, Malaysia.

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“‘That Lady From New England Who Shamed Us All'” [Ralph Nader, The New Yorker (LL)]. “The mass media is reluctant to recognize civic heroes unless they display physical bravery such as rushing into a burning building to save a child. The media also lavishes vast coverage on sports heroes and entertainers. Unnoticed by the mass media was how it came about that the Illinois legislature, overcome by corporate lobbyists, passed legislation allowing punitive damages for wrongful death disasters, and sent the bill to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker who signed it last Friday. In the words of one state lawmaker, this effort started with ‘that lady from New England who drove down here (to Springfield, Illinois) and shamed us all.’ That lady was my niece Nadia Milleron, who lost her daughter Samya Rose Stumo – an emerging leader in global health – to the defective Boeing 737 Max that crashed in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, killing all 156 people on board. (Earlier on October 29, 2018, a similar also new Boeing 737 Max crashed off Indonesia’s coast, killing all 189 passengers and crew.)…. She spent months away from her Massachusetts home in 2022 getting appointments with every Illinois Assemblyperson – 177 of them – to plead her case in person. None of the naysayers she encountered in the lobbying circles around the legislature deterred her, not even some plaintiff trial lawyers. By the sheer force of her legal and factual arguments, her moral authority and a few senior political advisors in Chicago, she laid the groundwork for action earlier last year. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act was championed by a young African-American state lawmaker, Rep. La Shawn K. Ford. Once it started moving through the Assembly (with little media attention) it gained momentum among the new Assembly leadership that carried through to the new leadership of the State Senate. Both legislative Houses are controlled by Democrats. Nadia came to this challenge in Illinois, where the Stumo family civil tort litigation against Boeing is pending, with experience in battling the giant Boeing corporation’s power to get its way in Washington, DC.” • Milleron is indeed a “civic hero” (and we need more). I’m also glad to see that the pencil-necked MBAs and greedhead CEOs who destroyed a great American engineering company are going to get theirs. And yet I could not help but wonder why Hendrik Hertzberg, Democrat loyalist par excellence, allowed Ralph Nader, the traitorous Green Party Presidential candidate who, in Democrat minds, cost Al Gore election 2000, to grace the New Yorker’s pages. Perhaps the explanation comes with Nader’s plug for Democrats, and the smooth, indeed unnoticed, operations of Pritzker’s PR team?


“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), more on my continuing coverage of Section Three.

* * *

“Appeasing Donald Trump Won’t Work” [David French, New York Times]. Only a matter of time before the Munich analogy entered domestic politics, I suppose. “As powerful as Baude and Paulsen’s substantive argument is, the late date means that by the time any challenge to Trump’s eligibility might reach the Supreme Court, voters may have already started voting in the Republican primaries. Millions of votes could have been cast. The Supreme Court is already reluctant to change election procedures on the eve of an election. How eager would it be to remove a candidate from the ballot after he’s perhaps even clinched a primary?”

“Donald Trump Might Have Finally Stepped on the Ultimate Legal Landmine” [1945]. “It’s been clear from the outset that while there might be some legal basis to the argument by Maude and Paulsen, it’s probably not realistic for such an argument to be enforced in a way that prevents Trump from being a candidate.” • Making Baude and Paulsen’s article more a matter of prophylatic delegitimation than a serious intervention? After all, Democrats instantly framed the January 6 riot as an insurrection, and the article’s strength comes not from its many footnotes, laudable though their number may be, but from its sourcing from “inside the house’: The Federalist Society. That strength could have been exercised at any point in the last 2023 – 2020 = 3 years.  Making the delay a little… odd.

Biden Administration

“Joe Biden Comparing Maui Fires to Almost Losing His Corvette Sparks Fury” [Newsweek]. “President Joe Biden sparked outrage during his visit to Maui after making a joke that appeared to compare the deadly wildfires on the Hawaii island with almost losing his ’67 Corvette… ‘I don’t want to compare difficulties but we have a little sense, Jill and I, of what it’s like to lose a home,’ [Biden] said. ‘Years ago now, 15 years ago, I was in Washington doing Meet the Press. It was a sunny Sunday,’ he continued. ‘Lightning struck at home, on a little lake that’s outside of our home—not a lake, a big pond,—and hit a wire that came up underneath our home into the heating ducts and air conditioning ducts,’ he added. ‘To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.’ Some—especially those on the right—failed to appreciate the comparison, accusing the president of being insensitive to the tragedy in Maui.” • The Corvette remark really does speak to character, showing as it does Biden’s relentless triviality of mind and endless self-regard. Yes, I know Biden qualified his remark with “I don’t want to compare difficulties,” but why not flog the dead son, Beau, yet again? At least that wouldn’t undermine the Biden “brand” of being empathetic, as this toad hopping out of his mouth did. There are only so many things an advance team can do. 

“Biden is accused of ‘nodding off’ during Maui wild fire memorial service in middle of his disastrous five-hour tour of island” [Daily Mail]. That well-known liberal house organ and avatar of all that “mainstream media” gives the timeline:

His appearance at the memorial gave further ammunition to critics.

Biden sat listening while the speaker told of generosity among islanders.

‘Like many others who were left with nothing, those two were given clothes, food and shelter by someone they may have never met before,’ the speaker said.

Biden then coughed, hand over his mouth, and looked down.

‘We are a community that relies on family, on ‘ohana’, whether by blood or by friendship,’ the speaker continued.

Biden then nodded, and looked up.

‘And like many others, my son’s home burnt down,’ the speaker said, as Biden’s eyes reverted to the front.

‘My daughter’s home burnt down. My home burnt down.’

Critics said that Biden was asleep for the nine seconds he looked down.

Holy Lord. Haven’t you ever bowed your head for nine seconds at a memorial service? Mourners are supposed to do that! Here’s a C-SPAN clip:

I wouldn’t say Biden looks good, but he’s as awake during a service on a warm day as any of us old codgers can be. I know the licit pleasures of dogpiling — dopamine loops — as well as anyone, and that’s what’s going on here. (Personally, I think the Corvette gaffe is a lot worse, since it speaks to character, so when the RNC circulated this clip, they stepped on their own ****s.)

Our Famously Free Press

“Tucker Carlson’s Trump Interview Showcases Potential of Tie-Up With Elon Musk’s X” [Wall Street Journal]. “Tucker Carlson’s interview with Donald Trump is shaping up as a well-timed branding exercise for the new company the former Fox News host is launching. Carlson taped an interview with Trump several days ago and plans to stream it on X, formerly known as Twitter, without ads, people familiar with the situation said. Its release is expected to coincide with Wednesday’s first Republican presidential debate on Fox News…. Carlson and former White House adviser Neil Patel are working on starting a new, subscription-driven media company, in partnership with Carlson’s former executive producer at Fox, Justin Wells, The Wall Street Journal reported last month. They are in the process of raising money and have talked to X about using the platform as its backbone.  The Trump interview gives Carlson a high-profile opportunity to show Elon Musk’s team the potential for a deeper partnership.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

Good work from the Trump campaign staff:

They printed those signs. None of that supposedly authentic hand-made stuff!

“Trump Says He Has Immunity. Will the Supreme Court Beg to Differ?” [Politico]. “On August 4, 2023, one day after pleading not guilty to four federal criminal charges arising from special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to thwart the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald J. Trump announced on his Truth Social platform that ‘the Supreme Court must intercede.’ What he presumably means is that the Supreme Court, on appeal from motions that his trial team will undoubtedly file in all four criminal cases, should rule that his conduct is untouchable because it involved actions taken while he was still president of the United States. ‘Everything that President Trump did was while he was in office as president,’ one of Trump’s attorneys, John Lauro, argued on NBC’s Meet the Press. ‘He is now immune from prosecution for acts that he takes in connection with those policy decisions.’ Trump has raised broad claims of presidential immunity in litigation before, with mostly poor results. Still, the argument is not entirely frivolous, in part because the Supreme Court has only weighed in on presidential immunity in a handful of cases, and none of those involved indictments of a former president. Even if Trump loses his motions to toss out the indictments on immunity grounds at the trial court level, which is likely, the Supreme Court would almost certainly vote to hear the issue on appeal given the unprecedented nature of these cases and the stakes for the presidency and the country.” • Hmm.

“John Eastman, attorney with Colorado ties, surrenders to authorities on charges in Georgia 2020 election subversion case” [Colorado Sun]. “Eastman said in a statement provided by his lawyers that he was surrendering Tuesday “”to an indictment that should never have been brought.”” He lambasted the indictment for targeting ‘attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients’ and said each of the 19 defendants was entitled to rely on the advice of lawyers and past legal precedent to challenge the results of the election. A former dean of Chapman University law school in Southern California, Eastman was a close adviser to Trump in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the Republican president’s supporters intent on halting the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. He wrote a memo laying out steps Vice President Mike Pence could take to interfere in the counting of electoral votes while presiding over Congress’ joint session on Jan. 6 in order to keep Trump in office.”

“Prosecutors: Trump Mar-a-Lago security aide flipped after changing lawyers” [Politico]. “A Trump employee who monitored security cameras at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate abruptly retracted his earlier grand jury testimony and implicated Trump and others in obstruction of justice just after switching from an attorney paid for by a Trump political action committee to a lawyer from the federal defender’s office in Washington, prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday. The aide — described as ‘Trump Employee 4’ in public court filings but identified elsewhere as Yuscil Taveras — held the title of director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago. He initially testified to a grand jury in Washington, D.C., that he was unaware of any effort to erase the videos, but after getting the new attorney ‘immediately … retracted his prior false testimony’ and detailed the alleged effort to tamper with evidence related to the investigation of the handling of classified information stored at Trump’s Florida home, the new submission said.”

“One MAGA juror can ruin it all” [Salon]. “More relevant is the finding by Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who holds frequent focus groups, that GOP primary voters in the main just don’t care about Trump’s indictments. Almost no Republicans have said the indictments have made them less likely to support him. He is their leader and they believe he’s telling the truth when he says he did none of it. I’m afraid that if any of these trials end up with one or more of these fun-loving Trump followers on the jury, it’s going to be very hard to shake them out of their belief that he can literally do no wrong…. As he said before, he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any votes. For once he wasn’t lying.” • Obviously, we need to reform the jury system. Who’s taking point on that?

* * *

“Ron DeSantis Calls Trump Supporters ‘Listless Vessels’ Ahead of First Republican Debate” [People]. “On Friday, the Florida governor and 2024 presidential hopeful, 44, told The Florida Standard that Trump supporters were ‘listless vessels.’ Making a reference to claims that he is a RINO (Republican in Name Only), DeSantis added that there’s ‘a strand in our party that views supporting Trump as whether you are a RINO or not.’ ‘You can be the most conservative person since sliced bread,’ he said, but ‘unless you’re kissing his rear end, they will somehow call you a RINO. So unless you’re totally detached from principle and what you actually believe — and results — it’s more about, you know, what faction you happen to do.” • BItterness is never an attractive quality in a candidate, and blaming voters is never a good strategy. Trump supporters are gleefully comparing DeSantis’s “listless vessels” gaffe to Clinton’s “deplorables,” but there’s more than one reason for that.

* * *

“How Vivek Ramaswamy Became A Billionaire” [Forbes]. “Ramawamy’s fortune stems from a drug-development company named Roivant Sciences, which went public in 2021. Its stock is up nearly 40% this year, boosting the value of Ramaswamy’s 10% stake to roughly $600 million. Since founding the company nine years ago, he has sucked over $260 million out of Roivant in the form of salary, bonuses and capital gains. He diversified those proceeds into a pretty standard investment portfolio, roughly 60% stocks and 40% bonds. But he also added some flavor, with a dash of Bitcoin and Ethereum, some shares of YouTube competitor Rumble and a stake in crypto payments firm MoonPay.”

“Where Is All This Vivek-omentum Leading?” [Slate]. “A clean-cut 38-year-old Indian American from the Midwest, a family man with oodles of interpersonal charm, a religious son of high-caste Hindu immigrants, a biotech entrepreneur and anti–social justice warrior with no prior experience in Washington—what could be more refreshing for the GOP than all this? … Whether they’re a result of circumstantial luck or actual political savvy, Ramaswamy’s heightened profile and appeal are now undeniable, and political observers are catching on. Monday alone saw some hefty new journalistic profiles of Ramaswamy: from the Atlantic, a campaign-trail saga; from ABC News, a collection of anonymous anecdotes from erstwhile associates that accuse Ramaswamy of mere clout-chasing… With DeSantis in decline and Trump skipping the debate altogether, the other GOP candidates are homing in on Ramaswamy, likely parsing all these biographical details for debate attack fodder. As the Washington Post reported, “”Advisers to several candidates … said the [debate] stage is likely to serve as a venue to litigate the inconsistencies in Ramaswamy’s policy statements.'” • I thought “Vivek the Fake” showed the weakness of the DeSantis team. However, I make a gift of “Slick Vivek” to any campaign that wants it!

“Ramaswamy’s loans, DeSantis’ spending: GOP debate candidates by the money” [Tampa Bay Times]. The deck: “A quick rundown of the campaign finance landscape for each candidate expected to be at the debate in Milwaukee.” And: “Ramaswamy personally loaned his campaign more than $15 million, providing by far the largest chunk of his campaign’s cash. His small-dollar donor percentage is high in part because the total sum of donations from individuals is only about $3 million. Still, the roughly $1.6 million his campaign has received from those small-dollar donors is comparable or higher than some other, more established political veterans.”

“‘I Could Use a Little More Self-Flagellation'” [Politico]. “Christie’s current presidential bid is the most interesting candidacy in the Republican primary, and the most important. Not because he’s polling near the top of the lot. He’s not. If the contest, though, at this point is Trump and everybody else, and the nominee somehow ultimately comes from that batch of others, there’s nobody else in that everybody else remotely like Christopher James Christie. The about-to-turn-61-year-old former governor of New Jersey was Trump before Trump — charismatic, combative, politically incorrect — and he was, for that matter, Ron DeSantis before Ron DeSantis — winning reelection in a landslide not just in an erstwhile swing state but in an outright blue state. And now he’s an ex-prosecutor prosecuting a case, and it’s a case that makes so much sense it sometimes can beggar belief that he’s the only one in the field who’s qualified for the first two debates who’s so vociferously making it. The case? Maybe it’s not a great idea to once again back a man who had four years already as president and failed at least as much as he didn’t and lost in 2020 and contributed to GOP losses in 2018 and 2022 and has been indicted four times in the last four months and therefore might spend as much time next year in a courtroom as on the campaign trail. ‘We can do better,’ Christie has said, calling Trump ‘a liar,’ ‘a coward,’ ‘a con artist,’ ‘a spoiled baby’ and ‘a lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog.'” • So Trump like Duke and the Dauphin in Mark Twain’s Huck Finn? A consummate American? Still, “self-serving mirror hog” is good. I wonder if Christie writes his own gags? I bet he does; he seems to enjoy this. It’s nice to see a happy warrior on the trail!

* * *

“Joe Biden’s Ukraine defense falls apart” [Jonathan ]. “In a 2018 interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden bragged that he unilaterally withheld a billion dollars in US aid from the Ukrainians to force them to fire Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin. The Ukrainians balked, but Biden gave them an ultimatum: ‘I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”…. The response from the Washington elite was rapturous, though the story was not only impolitic but embarrassing for an ally. The Ukrainians were Joe’s new Corn Pop, and he recounted how he stared them down in a ‘High Noon’ diplomatic moment. A State Department memo is shedding disturbing light on that account and shredding aspects of Biden’s justification for the action.Indeed, the ultimatum may have been the quid in a quid pro quo agreement as part of the Biden influence-peddling scandal. The premise of the story is that Biden took this extraordinary stand because there was little hope for the anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine if Shokin remained prosecutor. That is now questionable. The Oct. 1, 2015, memo summarizes the recommendation of the Interagency Policy Committee that was handling the anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine: ‘Ukraine has made sufficient progress on its reform agenda to justify a third guarantee.’ One senior official even complimented Shokin on his progress in fighting corruption. So Biden was told to deliver on the federal aid but elected to unilaterally demand that Shokin be fired. When the firing occurred, Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma Holdings, an energy firm that paid Hunter Biden a huge amount of money….. Leading diplomat George Kent wrote then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, ‘The real issue to my mind was that someone in Washington needed to engage VP Biden quietly and say that his son Hunter’s presence on the Burisma board undercut the anti-corruption message the VP and we were advancing in Ukraine [because] Ukrainians heard one message from us and then saw another set of behavior with the family association with a known corrupt figure whose company was known for not playing by the rules.'” • Oh.

Republican Funhouse

“McCarthy says House may launch Biden impeachment inquiry when Congress reconvenes” [Just the News]. “‘The thing that holds up whether we do impeachment inquiry, provide us the documents we’re asking… If they provide us the documents, there wouldn’t be a need for impeachment inquiry,’ [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy told Larry Kudlow on Fox Business. ‘But if they withhold the documents and fight like they have now to not provide to the American public what they deserve to know, we will move forward with impeachment inquiry when we come back into session….  ‘The only stories that have not changed are the whistleblowers from the IRS. Their story has held up time and again,’ he went on. ‘If the Biden administration continues to fight to withhold information that could really clear all this up… we would have to move to an impeachment inquiry.’ McCarthy went on to liken the Biden administration and its use of federal office for allegedly illicit means to the administration of Richard Nixon.” • Ouch!

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Resentment makes the world go round” [Janan Ganesh, Financial Times]. “With due respect to the physicists working on nuclear fusion, the most powerful source of energy in the universe, if it could ever be harnessed, is human resentment. Nietzsche thought it made the world go round. (And he didn’t even live to see what it would drive his fellow Germans to do after their defeat in the Great War.) There is no understanding modern Russia without a sense of its ressentiment as a shrunken empire. If we narrow the lens from the geopolitical to the personal, we see resentment at work even more. Notice how many populist leaders are what might be called relative outsiders. Privileged by almost all standards, these people feel shut out of what they regard as the true in-crowd. Nigel Farage: a former stockbroker, but also a non-graduate and much-mocked seven-time loser of elections to parliament. Boris Johnson: Etonian and Oxonian but neither posh nor rich. Marine Le Pen: a dynast, but not one who passed through France’s top school for technocrats. And then the ultimate case in point: Donald Trump, an outer-borough arriviste, ridiculed by the smart set for his ghastly taste and paprika tan. This pattern goes at least as far back as Richard Nixon, another butt of hurtful jokes in a country with more class sensitivities than it pretends. As a student, he so resented the social elite among his peers that he founded his own fraternity for outsiders and also-rans. (A sort of Brics on campus.) What animates the populist right is not so much an ideological programme. It is what the British would call chippiness, directed at a real or imagined beau monde.” And: “On the face of it, no two entities are less alike than Trump and China.” • Oh noes! He went there!


“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!

* * *


The mask that accepts straws:

“Madness: American Satirist C.J. Hopkins Sentenced in German Speech Case” [Matt Taibbi, Racket News]. The German case against Hopkins is absurd and Taibbi is right to take up the cudgels on Hopkins behalf. Nevertheless: “It’s about the tweet… It’s the cover art from the book and it’s me going after the mask thing, like the one tweet I think, not exactly verbatim but pretty close, says the masks are nothing but ideological conformity symbols, and that’s all they’ve ever been. Stop pretending like they’re anything else or get used to wearing them.” • Hopkins is dead wrong — and when I say “dead,” I mean it — on the science and engineering of mask wearing. Taibbi might have mentioned that, just so that people don’t take Hopkins seriously as a thinker.

Elite Maleficence

HICPAC meeting report:

Here is what is said to be the full clip. 46 minutes?!

I am pressed temporally and cannot listen (and in any case I don’t want to stroke out). Readers? See NC on HICPAC here, here, here, and here.

“Project NextGen Awards Over $1.4 Billion to Develop the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics” [US Department of Health and Human Services]. “Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), awarded a pitifully small more than $1.4 billion for Project NextGen to support the development of a new generation of tools and technologies to protect against COVID-19 for years to come.” Here’s the vaccines part: “$1 billion to four BARDA Clinical Trial partners to support vaccine Phase IIb clinical trial studies: ICON Government and Public Health Solutions, Inc of Hinckley, Ohio; Pharm-Olam, LLC, of Houston, Texas; Technical Resources Intl (TRI), Inc, of Bethesda, Maryland; and Rho Federal Systems, Inc., Durham, North Carolina.” • A fair comment:

Res ipsa loquitur….

“HHS awards $1.4 billion to drive development of new Covid-19 vaccines and therapies” [CNN]. “Another $1 billion in funding will go to four companies that will lead clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines. HHS says the funding will support phase 2b clinical trials of new types of vaccines. HHS will select the vaccines that will be tested this fall, and the studies will begin over the winter.” • So they’ve picked the contractors, but not that vaccines! A stately pace, and greatly in contrast to the former guy. With only four vaccines to be tested, how many do you think will be nasal vaccines (i.e., vaccines with at least the potential to be sterilizing)? My guess would be one. Now ask yourself whether the (hypothetical) nasal vaccine selected will be the one with the greatest likelihood of success, or the least? Of course, I could be too paranoid–

“Biden admin pumps money into developing new COVID vaccines” [Axios]. “Some of the remaining funds will go towards better vaccine manufacturing technology, such as a nasal spray that in theory could guard better again infection.” • No money amount is listed. In any case, my impression is that the issue with nasal vaccines is not manufacturing — Bharat does fine, yes? — but delivery. And it’s not clear to me whether nasal spray bottles need to be optimized for the chemical composition of the spray, or not; my guess is yes. Readers?

* * *

If you’re woke, superspreading events are jake with the angels:

Masks not at all pervasive. but present. Amazingly, a baggy blue. These are supposed to be public health scientists! (Mandy’s actually worse than Rochelle, who could colorably plead ignorance. But Mandy must know the science. And yet she plows ahead, leaving infection in her wake.)

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, August 22:

Lambert here: Happy memories of tape-watching days! Closing in on a Trump-era surge level; Biden’s, of course, are higher. 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:

Backward revisions. The national flattening is due to the Midwest downward swoop. I’d wait for the backward revisions on that. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

Regional variant data, August 19:

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 19:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). I’m not highlighting the BA.2’s because the interactive version shows that these BA.2’s been hanging around at a low level for months.

From CDC, August 5:

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

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, August 19:

Lambert here: Steady increase. (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.


I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive. Nevertheless, here’s bellwether New York City, data as of August 22:

Still getting worse. But how much worse?


NOT UPDATED Walgreens, August 21:

So, Walgreens is back in the game (and how the heck did that debacle happen? We breathlessly await the news coverage). The percentage of positives is the highest ever, though absolute numbers are still small relative to past surges.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 31:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data.


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: 1,172,960 – 1,172,801 = 159 (159 * 365 = 58,035 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 23:

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. )

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Apple’s treatment of small games developer makes a textbook antitrust case” [9to5Mac]. “Apple has voraciously denied accusations that the App Store has monopolistic control over iPhone apps, yet the company’s ability to unilaterally close developer accounts without explanation forms a textbook antitrust case. One small games developer had its Apple Developer Program (ADP) account terminated without explanation, was unable to appeal as it hadn’t been told what accusations it needed to address, took Apple to court – and then had its account reinstated after five months of lost sales, still without explanation or apology…. Some five months after Digital Will had its apps pulled from the App Store, and two months after it sent a lawyer’s letter to Apple, the Cupertino company reinstated the account. No explanation was offered. The company estimates that its total losses and costs exceed $765k, and is seeking damages from Apple.” • One for Stoller. Pocket change for Apple; life-changing for a small developer.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 22 at 8:00 PM ET. C’mon, Mr. Market! One way or the other!

The Gallery

“An Abandoned Cabinet Unearths a Trove of Unseen Kodachrome Slides Documenting 1960s San Francisco” [This is Colossal]. “There’s a Vivian Maier-esque story out of San Francisco that’s drawing attention to a newly discovered body of work from a largely unknown photographer.” Vivian Maier is terrific. More: “Back in 2020, David Gallagher, who runs the historical archive known as SF Memory, received a hefty cabinet that was found abandoned in San Francisco’s Mission District. Inside were 920 Kodachrome slides capturing life in the California city throughout the 1960s, with no identifying details about the photographer…. There are children at play, an officer showing off a chunky, white rabbit, and families swimming in Fleishhacker Pool before the public saltwater complex closed in 1971. Together, the collection creates a distinct photographic tapestry of life in the city during a time of massive change and growth.” • I believe that today, of the rabbit, we would say “chonky boi”:

“When logic and proportion….”

“Millions of old printed photos are sitting in storage. Digitizing them can unlock countless memories” [Associated Press]. “After retiring in 2021 from a long career as a U.S. diplomat who worked all over the world, Lyne Paquette returned to her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and retrieved from storage 12,000 images that she had taken from her film camera during her wide-ranging travels. After spending months sorting through them all, Paquette sent about 3,500 to be digitized.. ‘It brings back so much happiness, but sometimes sadness,’ Paquette, 67, says. ‘I can see now: I have had a very, very rich life.'” • Be careful of rights, and of storage, too. You don’t want your memories to be part of some AI’s training set.

Class Warfare

“Rubbing Shoulders: Class Segregation in Daily Activities”  (PDF) [Maxim Massenkoff, Nathan Wilmers]. The Abstract: “We use location data to study activity and encounters across class lines. Low-income and especially high-income individuals are socially isolated: more likely than other income groups to encounter people from their own social class. Using simple counterfactual exercises, we study the causes. While some industries cater mainly to low or high-income groups (for example, golf courses and wineries), industry alone explains only a small share of isolation. People are most isolated when they are close to home, and the tendency to go to nearby locations explains about one-third of isolation. Brands, combined with distance, explain about half the isolation of the rich. Casual restaurant chains, like Olive Garden and Applebee’s, have the largest positive impact on cross-class encounters through both scale and their diversity of visitors. Dollar stores and local pharmacies like CVS deepen isolation. Among publicly-funded spaces, libraries and parks are more redistributive than museums and historical sites. And, despite prominent restrictions on chain stores in some large US cities, chains are more diverse than independent stores. The mix of establishments in a neighborhood is strongly associated with cross-class Facebook friendships (Chetty et al., 2022). The results uncover how policies that support certain public and private spaces might impact the connections that form across class divides.”

“How Do the Rich Become and Stay Wealthy?” [Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]. “Ozkan noted that, on average, the wealthiest individuals began their careers significantly richer than other households in the same cohort. For example, the richest 0.1% of households at ages 50 to 54 owned about 120 times the economywide average wealth, which was $437,000 in 2015. When these same households were in their late 20s, they already possessed, on average, 20 times the economywide average wealth, Ozkan pointed out. Ozkan also noted that the wealthiest households at ages 50 to 54 were heavily invested in equity, particularly private businesses, starting at a young age. For instance, he pointed out, the wealthiest individuals held 85% to 90% of their wealth in equity, whereas below-median households held 90% of their total assets in housing. Consequently, the wealthiest earned markedly higher returns. ‘It follows, then, that equity income, including capital gains, provided the main source—83%—of total lifetime income for the wealthiest 0.1%. In contrast, households in the bottom 90% of the wealth distribution earned 80% to 90% of their lifetime income from labor services,’ Ozkan wrote. ‘Interestingly, inheritances (accrued between 1994 and 2014) constituted a negligible fraction of resources for all wealth groups, including the top wealth owners.’ The richest households were also significant savers. Ozkan noted that the wealthiest 0.1% of households had saved 70% of their gross income over the study period.” • Hmm. If the rich began their careers “significantly richer,” and yet “inheritances constituted a negligible fraction of resources for the top wealth owners,” then how was the “primitive accumulation” done? A “great crime“?

News of the Wired

“Visualizing the mysterious dance: Quantum entanglement of photons captured in real-time” [Phys.org]. “Researchers at the University of Ottawa, in collaboration with Danilo Zia and Fabio Sciarrino from the Sapienza University of Rome, recently demonstrated a novel technique that allows the visualization of the wave function of two entangled photons, the elementary particles that constitute light, in real-time…. This experiment was made possible by an advanced camera that records events with nanosecond resolution on each pixel…. The impact of this research goes beyond just the academic community. It has the potential to accelerate quantum technology advancements, such as improving quantum state characterization, quantum communication, and developing new quantum imaging techniques.” • Now do cats.

* * *

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 Upstater:

Upstater writes: “On our trail by the creek, a Jack in the Pulpit. I marked it and will see if it produces seeds and attempt propagation.”

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    It ain’t looking good for My Kevin (since ‘07) as he’s playing craps with the country and looks to seven out if he doesn’t do exactly what that red scare group demands of him, and no way-no how does Kev come through with the goods, his support is so flaccid. He’s thrown out the impeach Biden gambit again threat in what will probably be his last days swinging a mean gavel…

    Good luck in future endeavors, ex-Speaker.

    1. Carolinian

      Flaccid….that’s hitting below the belt.

      As for Biden, ok he didn’t nod off but he did kill over 100,000 in Ukraine. Can we get him for that? Obviously Trump isn’t going to quit but things would be a lot simpler if Biden would. Running at his age is yet another “out there” decision that shows his lack of judgment. Another none of the above election looms.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        “doddering old man nods off in a chair”….just doesnt feel like “news”, to me.

  2. Tom Stone

    The “Center for Disease Communication” is doing a bang up job of reducing future demand for fossil fuels…

      1. Sardonia

        It wouldn’t surprise me if the crash was yet one more unintended consequence of Walter White’s activities.

        1. Wukchumni

          The truth is i’d barely gotten proficient in pronouncing his name with Slavs such slaves to consonants in odd places, so i’ll miss him.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know if Prigozhin went up in his small plane after he knew that Surovikin had been relieved of his command; if so, that bespeaks a certain over-confidence.

      1. Greg

        He’s apparently been flitting back and forth almost constantly since the whatever-it-was-that-looked-like-mutiny.
        I’ve been expecting a plane crash, or a window fall, or something similar. Even if the whole mutiny was a scripted Kremlin affair, there was plenty of evidence that Prigozhin had been leaking info to the Ukrainian SBU about Russian army units, when it suited him – e.g. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/05/14/prigozhin-wagner-ukraine-leaked-documents/ .

        1. Greg

          Backing up the “you can play political games but don’t mess with the soldiers” perspective, purported video shows the remnants of what may be an interceptor missile explosion at the point where the plane started to fall from the sky.
          Could also be an onboard explosive, hard to tell without a more obvious missile contrail (and this video starts a few seconds too late).

          1. LawnDart

            It looked like one of the engines was fairly intact after the crash– if it was a bomb, then it likely should have ingested fragments of the aircraft.

            I too wondered at the lack of a contrail/exhaust plume of a potential missile, however, it could be out of the video frame– see short vid for referrence:


            1. ChrisPacific

              It does seem like the conclusion that Prigozhin was involved was based on passenger lists, and I’ve heard that a lot of ‘doubles’ are travelling at present under the same name. So we should probably wait on confirmation for this. It’s not out of the question that he might pop up in a video from Africa next month or something.

            2. ambrit

              Ritter observed that one of the wings of the aircraft was missing, indicating an external attack as the most likely scenario. He also mentioned that it was two months to the day after the Wagner Mutiny Tour shot down the unarmed Russian reconnaissance aircraft. He suggested ‘payback’ as a motive.
              Either way, the Russian Oligarchs must be factoring this into their calculations.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        There is a collection of his comments about the possibility of dying in our local news portal (translates passably): What Yevgeny Prigozhin said about his death

        May just be bravado, but considering his history, it also wouldn’t surprise me if he was at peace with the possibility. Just a pity he wasn’t the only one in that plane…

    2. Pat

      Hadn’t he ever heard about the dangers of small planes? I suppose you could think jets didn’t count, but I really cannot believe that the only caveat for Russian thorns in the side is never accept perfume from a stranger.

      1. Alex Cox

        Dag Hammarsklold, Enrico Mattei, Paul Wellstone…

        Three other reasons for politicos to avoid small planes.

        1. Martin Oline

          I have read, don’t recall if it was Susan Williams or not, that Dag Hammarskjold survived the crash and crawled off to a tree. His unburned body was found there with an ace of spades card tucked in his shirt collar. Were they playing cards and he was hiding one? Was it a not so cryptic message?
          PS What happened to Pray For Rain. What? Underwear!

    3. Verifyfirst

      Comical and farcical……of course something like this was going to happen….he would have to be nuts to even get in a plane. If, in fact, he was in the plane. If there was a plane. If there was a crash…….

    4. chris

      Any bets on how long we have to wait until the Atlantic publishes a story about how this means Putin is weak and will soon be deposed?

  3. JBird4049

    >>>Obviously, we need to reform the jury system. Who’s taking point on that?

    They need the jurors to follow the diktat rules based order?

    I think that they want someone like Andrey Vyshinsky. After all, if anyone has been charged, he must be guilty of something.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      That’s an interesting piece of history. I don’t know if Jack Smith is of that caliber.

      So should the Trump campaign/organization send out mailers to the jury pools in their four trial venues explaining to MAGA nation how to fake being a lib so as to avoid a peremptory challenge?

    2. The Rev Kev

      Probably they are pushing the idea to get rid of juries altogether and just have the judge decide. That way you get judge or jurisdiction shopping. The argument would be that it would save a ton of money on juries and most people don’t want to serve on them anyway. Or maybe they will go with the idea of having a smaller jury but chosen from people whose job is just to serve on juries so that it will be another civil service. It will derive itslef in the end from the PMCs with high pay but putting my fate or life in the hands of such people is not a confidence builder that.

      1. JBird4049

        In the “People’s Court,” Nazis not only did that, but often the judge did the did the work for the prosecutor who was in the courtroom. Let’s add that the defendant’s defense attorney usually did not defend or even speak during the “trial.” A trial done in single day with an almost guaranteed guilty verdict followed by an almost sure death sentence. What’s not to like? (Why, yes, it’s sarcasm.)

        If you want some more entertainment (or nausea fuel), look up Roland Freisler, who was in charge of the People’s Court and was the legal expert at the Wannsee Conference. It just makes me more puzzled on just how the Nazis, who sometimes seemed to be cosplayers, took power and more worried about it happening here.

        Not only history more bizarre and interesting than fiction, it will almost always give the lie to someone saying “they would not do that!”

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’ve seen video of Roland Freisler ranting in court as the judge and it was just as well that he was killed in an air raid. If he had lived through the war, he would have spent a few years in prison and then cut loose to spread his own brand of legal poison in the years after.

  4. griffen

    Give me the option and I’d take a siesta every afternoon between 2pm to 4pm myself, so that video is pretty inconclusive in my opinion. Spring semester for an intermediate accounting course, afternoon hours, I could often be found half attentive. Talk about a snoozer topic.

    I’m otherwise okay with piling on Joey from Scranton. Reasons abound to do so!

      1. griffen

        Entry 1 from not making it up. A father that loves his son. And speaks on the phone to his son during business meetings, nothing unusual to see please move along.

        Let’s go Brandon! Biden-onomics is so great we need 4 more years of it.

  5. Another Scott

    The study about Class Segregation brings to mind something that I have suggested off and on for almost a decade.

    I take the Orange Line (at least when it works) to my office in Boston’s Back Bay. One of the stops is Bunker Hill Community College, made famous by the movie Good Will Hunting. It is also the busiest higher education facility in Massachusetts, with students of all ages coming to take classes, earn certificates and degrees. This includes almost all types of people you can imagine, except the rich.

    I’ve long argued that all students at Harvard should be required to take a class or two at BHCC without other Harvard students, and work on projects with other BHCC students, adjusting their schedules around those people who are going to school part-time. It would force those at the most elite institution in the country to actually interact with people who come from a different social class, but are not their servants.

    1. ambrit

      Your last sentence says it all. To the Harvard ‘elite’ population, the toilers at the satanic mills of the BHCC are servants, by definition. Otherwise they would be going to Harvard.
      Second, one primary function of the Elite Schools is networking and socialization. With this bunch, everyone is a potential servant. The top spots in Business and Government do not select for sociopaths for no reason.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      aye. back when i was still politically active…online, mostly…waiting for my hip…i’d often suggest that Wharton and other elite spawning grounds of elite movers and breakers of things should require each and every undergrad to spend a winter in a dank trailer park, on food stamps and with an artificial criminal record attached to them for that period.
      might make a world of difference for how those folks turn out.
      exemptions of course, if one can prove to have already had the experience of poverty.

  6. Steve H.

    > began their careers “significantly richer,

    Musk, Trump, Gates, all had parents bankrolling them. Trustafarians have the same advantage.

    ‘Inheritance’ doesn’t happen until the parents et al die.

    1. Will

      Didn’t Microsoft’s big break also come about because of Bill’s parents? And I mean not just money. Seem to recall a story about how his mom was on the board of the same charity as a senior exec at IBM, which lead to the contract for MS-DOS.

      Can throw Bezos in there too for family help. His parents gave him $500,000 seed money for Amazon.

      1. digi_owl

        yeah the back door channels of overlapping boards is one that seem largely unmapped, perhaps willfully so.

        1. Procopius

          Overlapping boards is a symptom of oligopoly/monopoly, so it’s surely willfully so. Of course the SEC, FTC, Justice, haven’t cared about monopoly for the last forty years, but it’s a habit

  7. t

    “oodles of interpersonal charm”??? Gonna skip right over “interpersonal” rather than personal charm, Vivik is Ben Shapiro with a widows peak. Only way to tell them apart.

  8. ambrit

    “They printed those signs. None of that supposedly authentic hand-made stuff!”
    Boy howdy, “hand made” signs can be ‘mass produced’ too. I did it once upon a time.
    It was the summer of 1972, and I was a teen living on Miami Beach. The Conventions were coming to town. A friend clued me into a one day gig. We arrived at the old Roosevelt Theatre on a Saturday morning. Upstairs, filling one half of the second floor was a large open design office space.
    In it were laid out sign making supplies. Big sheets of cardstock, wooden sticks, heavy duty staplers to connect the two, and lots of magic markers. I’d say about thirty or forty younger teens were in attendance. We had sample signs set up along one side of the room from which to draw “inspiration.” We were instructed to take our time and make decent copies of various versions of the sample designs. Not too neat, since these were for a “spontaneous” floor demonstration for Dick Nixon ‘planned’ for the convention.
    We worked for roughly a half of a day. Hundreds of signs were made.
    The best part about us all being teens was that whoever was behind this took advantage of us and “paid” us off in Burger King coupons. It makes a perverse sort of sense. If anyone had asked, the organizers of the process could honestly say that no money had changed hands. “Volunteers” had done the work. “Of course, we fed them. Hungry kids and all. What do you take us for, ruthless capitalist exploiters?”
    Later that Summer, there was the ‘engineered’ riot at one of the Conventions. (Those dirty hippies tried to storm the Convention Centre!)
    Ah, the ‘Good Old Days.’

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Wow … trying to act like that wasn’t possible before, eh?

      As I always say, I hope they all rot in hell.

  9. cfraenkel

    FYI: corrected, non-AMP link to the phys.org article on capturing an entangled wave function:


    way over my head, but they didn’t capture the wave function (not really possible?), but captured a bunch of images that they treated something like a hologram to enable them to reconstruct the wave function. Pretty cool, as a tool for measuring something that would seem to be unmeasurable.

  10. Wukchumni

    ’67 Corvette saga…

    It could have been worse, what if Joey had come up with a tale in Maui of a marshmallow catching on fire and falling off the end of a skewer and plummeting into the flames, when he was 7.

  11. ambrit

    Is it just me, or does that CDC Summer Festival look suspiciously like a High School World Culture Day Fair?
    anybody remember the High School UN Day events? The dressing up like ‘furriners’ and adopting ‘funny’ accents to pretend to be from “somewhere else?”
    A big load of Performance Art. Is this what our Health Departments have become? All flash and no cash?
    Hunker down and try to stay safe.

    1. Sardonia

      It’s like that Seinfeld episode where George is desperately trying to find a black person that he can present as a friend to show his black boss that he isn’t a racist.

      Next up – Mandy’s leper-hugging festival.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        wait…i thought that was the leperhugger…
        so hard to keep track of it all.

        regardless…ill be way the hell out here, thank you.

        1. Late Introvert

          Who the family blog wants to “celebrate joy at work” and what the family blog does that even mean? I’m asking you Mandy, you dimwit.

          1. griffen

            To celebrate joy at work, for our colleagues, er, associates, for all of your extra efforts at Initech this month we’re hosting Hawaiian shirt day! So you know if you want, you can wear a themed shirt but only on a Friday. \ sarc

            And Peter…we’re gonna need you to come in on Sunday as well, mmmkay ?

  12. Pat

    I can’t believe that the brain trust behind the let’s indict Trump into oblivion plan hadn’t thought this out beyond plan A bankrupt him and his campaign. Details like can we put together cases that aren’t obvious legal harassment and what if we can’t convict. And not being able to limit juries to card carrying members of Russiagate believing PMC always meant not everyone on the jury would be willing to vote guilty without hearing any evidence. Similar to the exercises in performance art that were both impeachments, the odds have always been in Trump’s favor. Without an airtight case, all Trump really needed was one or two jurors that just don’t accept the narrative of the prosecution regarding Trump’s actions.

    This won’t be the last time crazy jurors are the only way Trump escapes is going to be brought up. Gotta give those latest “heroes” cover Mueller never had.

    I don’t care either way. That their adult in the room has been so bad that they think they have to indict Trump over and over says it all. Besides I want a whole lot of people in jail who will never see the inside of one. Two have run for President and three are former Presidents that aren’t facing multiple indictments. I also hate that so many people are focused on this and will really think that they have to choose between the dregs of humanity the major parties offer us to supposedly represent our interests. Including in the courts. All to convince people to fight to support useless pieces of excrement like Biden, Harris, Trump, everyone named Clinton, DiSantis, Haley, everyone named Obama, Bush, Pritzker, Cuomo, Youngkin…

    1. Paradan

      My theory is that if Trump gets elected, they won’t be able to send US troops to Ukraine. Our boys will defeat the Russians and free the oppressed LGBT peoples of Russia from Putin’s Tyrannical regime.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The question should really be, if the stars and stripes and the rainbow flag are flown together from the same mast, which gets priority. :)

          1. ambrit

            s/ Oh, Rev! The flagpole is a relic of the Patriarchy. It’s a phallic symbol of oppression and dominance. Make that Flag Line and we can talk safely. /s

      1. Carolinian

        Pussy Riot’s revenge? Whatever happened to them anyway?

        As for Pat’s complaint, the Dems always figure they just need 50 percent plus one and the press can narratively provide the LBJ landslide. One never thought High Broderism would stage a comeback but the partisan bickering is off the scale. We need a time machine to some saner version of the USA.

        Not that LBJ times would be that. In fact they were much like these times in many ways. The Kennedys called Lyndon Vice President Corn Pone.

      2. Pat

        Possibly. Since politics and the corruption attached to it wasn’t Trump’s main source of income for most of his life he might actually have some misgivings with the economic fall out of nuclear war. Not to mention his narcissistic nature probably quakes at the loss of Trump branded properties. Starting wars with people who can land nuclear weapons in American cities would not be a priority.

        You know thinking about Joe’s priorities, perhaps Russia and China should send him a message with a picture of the corvette with a target on it and its exact coordinates. Sure he could have it moved to a bunker, but maybe another reminder that he has no guarantee to end up in the same bunker….

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      Re:Pat:”….plan A bankrupt him and his campaign….”

      isnt that exactly the plan…since, like ’91?…with Russia?
      i see a pattern, here.

  13. Tim

    The fact July 4th had no impact on COVID infection rates is informative. It means that it has a heck of a time spreading in a near perfect ventilated space (aka outside) as most gatherings are held outdoors.

    More importantly with parades and such people are often in close proximity. If spread was primarily by droplets, ventilation wouldn’t matter much and infections would have increased as droplets travel through the air to the adjacent individual based on projectile momentum with little affect from a faint July breeze.

  14. Zutano

    Re: optimisation of nasal spray bottles, yes this is a big deal. Its not the bottle itself, which will be made of a fairly standard plastic, but rather the nebuliser in the tip. Getting the device to deliver the exact dose that your clinical trial has shown is safe and efficacious, in the exact aerosolised form is very important, and not trivial to do.
    Since you cant change some things about your formulation very much (e.g. pH and saltiness need to be in a certain range or else it will irritate the nose) then you have less control over other properties such as viscosity which affect fluid flow and nebulisation. You have to design the nebuliser to fit your formulation, not the other way around.
    Then once you have a nebuliser that delivers the proper dose in the proper form, you have to prove it works as designed, and prove that you can manufacture millions of them all identically, to the satisfaction of the FDA. These “validation” experiments are difficult and expensive.

    1. britzklieg

      “you have to prove it works as designed, and prove that you can manufacture millions of them all identically, to the satisfaction of the FDA.”

      Given the stellar job they did with the woefully inadequate mRNA vaccines on all those points, I’d imagine the FDA would be quite easy to satisfy, assuming the FDA even wants to be satisfied…

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        perhaps the mrna vaccines are working as intended, after all.
        i knew in 2018 that that platform…or technique…was not ready for primetime.
        too many autoimmune issues, for one.
        i learned of it doing research to get my head around wife’s cancer.
        intuited right off that it would utterly change medicine…if it only worked.
        but it didnt…until…Mirable!..it did(?)…with little info about what had changed.”Trust the Science!” as article of faith.
        Deus Volt! for a post post modern age.

        1. Pat

          I think getting MRNA past the locked gates was the really big reason for the push for those vaccines. I fully expect more mRNA treatments to be “approved” even though it still doesn’t work.

  15. John Beech

    I’m not in love with President Biden (didn’t vote for him and fair to say I’ll vote for whomever is the opposing nominee), but the guy was just freaking saying he groked the fear and loss of a fire, even though his personal experience was with his home being struck by lightning and (in the words of the fire chief, of a scale that took 20 minutes to control, so NOWHERE on a scale with the loss of HI). But this doesn’t mean we’re comparing the sizes of the fires!

    I believe the point was lost in somehow imagining or thinking that was him making a joke (it wasn’t a joke at all in my opinion). Instead, I believe he was just expressing as heartfelt as he could how he relates to those listening to his words in HI who experienced this disaster. And doing this in the only way he’s experienced a fire in a personal way. Especially since everybody knows the old coot holds his green Corvette near and dear as possessions go!

    So I think folks should chill on this subject because it’s contemptible to think the President of the United States would travel to Hawaii with anything but good intents in his heart.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Sorry John but I am not buying it. Offering households, not people, households who have lost everything to a catastrophic fire only 700 bucks while going to Congress to ask for $25 billion for the Ukraine shows his priorities and is actually insulting. Not as bad as Obama’s ‘Can I have a glass of water’ but still up there. And he still can’t be bothered about the people in East Palestine either nor his MIA Transport Secretary. With the upcoming Presidential elections, he didn’t dare not go to Hawaii and may have been afraid that Trump may have gone there first. Hawaii being a Democrat stronghold may have forced the matter but if it had been a Republican stronghold, he probably would not have even be bothered going at all.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        like my dad giving me five bucks in 1986 as “mad money”….like it was still 1963.
        he’s just totally out of touch.
        Scranton Joe never walked a mile in anybody’s shoes but his own penny loafers.

          1. Pat

            But they are not comparing it to the TOTAL assistance sent to Ukraine, the amount mentioned would have to be tripled for that. And Biden wants even more.
            That it is apples or oranges, It isn’t like old Joe went “that is all we can send right now there will be an X billion dollar request for more assistance on their desks”. And where are the billions for East Palestine. And not for nothing they could cancel the 13.1 billion dollar request for Ukraine if they need to cut back on expenditures.
            It is absolutely appropriate to hit him on this because they aren’t going to ask for more unless this doesn’t go away before Congress returns and they get shamed into it. Stop pretending this is unfair as it accurately portrays for the priorities on display daily from the Biden administration.

            1. marym

              Yes, I should have made the distinction that my original comment was in reply to a statistic that did reference the total, not the $27 billion. Still, it should be possible to criticize the spending for Maui as insufficient in itself or compared to other spending without implying that it consists of just the $700 per person.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  That $700 per household? A reporter did the maths and worked out that with the number of people eligible, that it would add up to less than $2 million total which is just chickenfeed. The cost of Biden going to Hawaii would have been many multiples of that amount.

    2. Lex

      If it was almost anyone else saying the same thing I’d agree with you. But Biden doesn’t get the benefit of pretending his past behavior and statements don’t exist.

      If he wanted to show a spark of empathy, the correct phrasing would have been to tell the story, recall his feeling fear and dread and then say it doesn’t compare to what residents have experienced. This sounded like he wanted to tell the story and his staff told him not to (because it would sound like comparing) and then he did it anyway because Joe knows that what people really want is to hear Joe talk about himself. He’s a legend in his own mind.

    3. Pat

      Sorry, John, but even using your take on it shows him to be a man so divorced from the reality of the situation that he equates his relief at a small minor fire not being a disaster gives him insight on losing all or almost everything including family, and considers it appropriate to mention it rather than recognizing it is insulting. IF he had truly related to the people and their stories he would have realized it was not the same thing at all and left it out.

  16. Jeff W

    So…I’m trying to reconcile the precautions that the billionaires and political leaders took at Davos 2023 with the “pandemic-is-over” stance taken at the Office of Readiness and Response Summer Festival. Is it really just a case of these public health officials believing their own messaging? (I don’t think it’s about timing—it’s not like former CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was all that great about masking about a month prior to Davos.)

    1. Late Introvert

      I think one of the lyric-smiths on NC should have a crack at Mandy (You’re a Fine Girl). Mockery is in order.

  17. Henry Moon Pie

    This is relevant for a couple of reasons. First, it’s an interview from two years ago of one of Lambert’s neighbors up there in Maine. Tom Rush turned 80 in 2021, still performing, and still telling stories about being a folkie in the company of Joni, JT, JB, the Dead, etc.

    Also relevant because Rush had Covid in March, 2020 while on tour. He wasn’t hospitalized but was quite sick. Afterward, after he thought he had more or less recovered, he came down with a heart ailment he thinks is Covid-related.

    I had never seen this before, and found it because I was trying to determine if Rush wrote or just covered this tune about generations (related to the article in Links):

    Kids these days, they don’t value a dollar.
    Don’t like chewing, but they sure can swallow.
    Wasn’t that way in my younger days.
    There’s something wrong with kids these days.

    Times ain’t now, buddy, like they used to be.
    Times ain’t now, buddyf like they used to be.
    I’d have more fun but the women are so hard to please.

    Well, old folks, they sure are crazy.
    You’re stopping to talk,
    And they callin’ you lazy.
    When I get grown. there’ll be some changes made.
    There’s just something wrong with folks these days.

    There’ll be better times but I’m getting by with these.
    There’ll be better times but I’m getting by with these.
    I’d have more fun but the women are so hard to please.

    Kids These Days

    So I guess this supports Carolinian’s contention in our discussion in Links today. ;)

  18. Hana M

    A wonderful helpers story with harrowing videos. Army commandos using helicopters, a makeshift chairlift and local expertise rescued eight people from a broken cable car as it dangled hundreds of metres above a canyon in a remote, mountainous part of Pakistan…. Residents used mosque loudspeakers to alert neighbourhood officials of the emergency and hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the ravine – hours away from any sizeable town – to watch the drama unfold….“Once everyone had been rescued, the families started crying with joy and hugging each other,” emergency official Waqar Ahmad told the AFP news agency.

    “People had been constantly praying because there was a fear that the rope might break. People kept praying until the last person was rescued.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/8/22/eight-rescued-from-dangling-cable-car-in-pakistan-after-day-long-ordeal?ref=readtangle.com

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Resentment makes the world go round”

    Hoo boy. This is unintentionally hilarious. Turns out the guy is slinging off against the BRICS group and how the whole thing is based on resentment and can never be a thing. Could it be that he actually – should I say it – resents the thought that such a grouping of countries is leaving the western groupings behind? After all, what is the G-7 but a rich man’s country club? I guess with the BRICS going on right now, there are going to be a lot of articles like this trying to say that it will never work and is just a load of rubbish. Personally I think that it is more akin to whistling past a graveyard.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      ordinary bougie/pmc BS pawned off as banana pancakes to the unwary.
      the “ordinary” part is what most irks them…and that they might be wrong, of course.
      the more i learn about the pathology of narcissism with my mom(covert, in her case) the more i think it can be scaled up to that whole Class, as well as to certain generational traits that are not universal to that age demographic…but show up a lot within a certain, somewhat privileged, segment of it.

  20. RA

    Covid related anecdote. I’m in SF South Bay (San Jose).

    I was waiting for checkout at 7-11. A lady in front of me was asking if they had any Covid tests. No, I don’t think they ever did. I saw her in the parking lot and said to her that the CVS just down the street should have tests. (I was there a couple weeks back and they had a couple shelves near checkout with tests — but expensive, I thought.)

    She said no, she was just there and they were out of tests. She said her husband was sick.

    So I’m not sure if there is something to make of this? — Not enough tests being made now, or maybe sudden demand around here due to a surge?

    Has anyone else had troubles finding tests now, or any insights?

    1. Objective Ace

      I’ve had trouble for months. Seems retailers cant be bothered to make shelving space available for them. Everywhere I’ve asked, they indicate they no longer sell them–not that they are out. I have taken to mail ordering them from walmart. 2 day wait time, but keeping a couple on hand and then restocking as needed seems to work fine. Not like the initial Omicron surge when even walmart warehouses ran out of stock

      1. Late Introvert

        Check your state. I can say that in my college town in a Midwestern red state of some notoriety of late, free saliva tests were available from the State Department of Public Health and the State Hygenic Lab (which is not far from us, and where I dropped off 3 tests for my family just today.) They have mail options which will cause delay, but they are free. Hope that helps.

    2. kareninca

      Last week I asked the pharmacy cashier at Walgreens in Palo Alto, CA if they had any covid tests. She told me that they hadn’t had them for a month and would not be getting any more. She seemed really annoyed by the question.

      Then yesterday I asked a different pharmacy cashier at the same Walgreen’s the same question, and she told me that they thought they would be getting them sometimes, but that they would not be kept in the pharmacy, but would instead be kept in the photo department. I went over to the photo department and asked the photo department lady about this and was shown the (then empty) shelf where they will be kept if and when they get some. She seemed a little weirded out by my asking, but I explained that I am required to test weekly for my volunteer position and that calmed her down.

        1. kareninca

          My whole life has been a struggle against the social conformity elevator and so it just seems normal to me.

          I once caused a co-religionist to laugh more loudly than anyone I’ve ever heard laugh. I told him that I’d discovered a pattern. I would ask him a theological question, and he would give me an unsatisfactory answer. So I would ask again, and he would tell me that he didn’t think its was an interesting question. But I did think it was an interesting question, so I would ask again, and then he would give me a good and useful answer. I guess it’s just as well I’m female since someone would probably punch me if I were male.

    1. Late Introvert

      No, he really is that um, obtuse. I’m impressed that people still engage though, it’s a good thing about NC and I applaud it. I also could never get through to my privileged white guy of a brother, so I understand.

      1. ambrit

        In defense of Mr. Birch, he is an exemplar of the “old fashioned” virtues of an earlier era of America. There was a viable Social Contract and people, for the most part, could rest easier that there were a generally accepted set of ‘rules’ that kept social relations functional. Today, all that is mainly gone. It is hard to accept that not only are some politicos corrupt in general, but that the system that they work within has also become corrupt as well. A few short years ago, there were standards. No longer. For someone who has played by the rules and profited therein to have to admit that those ‘rules’ are now null and void runs the risk of inducing nihilism.
        In a sense, some of our comments hearken back to a time when we had true hope for the future. They act as examples of what has been lost in our society. Thus, a benchmark from which the health or illness of the culture can be measured is established.
        There was a Golden Age. We now live in an age of Rust.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Millions of old printed photos are sitting in storage. Digitizing them can unlock countless memories”

    That article has a point. I spent several weeks scanning all my photos onto my computer and now that they are there, they are a lot more accessible and can be used to send to other people. When they are in an album it is always a bit more of an effort to go looking through them and they tend to just sit on a shelf gathering dust.

  22. rowlf

    Some new BBee: CDC Announces Deadly New ‘Electionyearicron’ Covid Variant

    CDC director Bob Cohen spoke with reporters Wednesday to announce the new variant. “‘Electionyearicron’ is thought to be the most disruptive variant yet, and will be here all through 2024 until approximately November sixth,” said Mr. Cohen. “So everyone, stay home and get ready to vote by mail!”

    The White House hosted an immediate press conference to address the dangerous new variant. “We’re thrilled – I mean, um, alarmed – to hear of this deadly new ‘Electionyearicron’ variant,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “The President says we’ll probably just go ahead and cancel the general elections next year as a precaution. It’s the only way to really flatten the curve. You don’t want to kill grandma, do you?”

    At least they can cure ballots if they want to.

  23. Acacia

    Saito Kohei’s forthcoming degrowth manifesto covered by the NYT:

    Can Shrinking Be Good for Japan? A Marxist Best Seller Makes the Case
    Kohei Saito says the country should seize this moment of demographic and economic challenge to reinvent itself through “degrowth communism.”


    (Commie de-paywalled version ;)

  24. Even keel

    The timing of the release of the section three attack is not odd. If it were released earlier, there would be enough time to litigate any exlcusionary decision. Instead, it is times to allow it to percolate into “consensus” in time to dq a candidate for the general election. A Secretary of State need not decide until just before ballots are printed that section three applies to this or that candidate. After all, it is constitutional, so even if a statutory ballot deadline or statutory established timeline were already met, the SOS could just point to the constitutional trump card to justify the timing of their decision.

    Also, I don’t think it is targeting primaries, but rather blue secretaries of state in purple or red states.

    All that is needed is one or two of such sos to keep him off the ballot in such states. A decision post-election would be litigable from the defense side, because there would be an actual remedy- an actual vote count.

    But if the decision is made just a month or two before the election, or just before ballots are printed, then what? No time to get it reversed by a stay or to fully litigate. It’s a fait accompli.

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