2:00PM Water Cooler 8/24/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Falcated Wren-Babbler, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Trail, Palawan, Philippines

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“Armed with nets, Sharpies and glitter pens, silverspot researchers spend the summer tracking threatened butterfly” [YachatsNews (AC)]. “The Oregon silverspot once inhabited coastal meadows from southern Washington to northern California. It was placed on the federal threatened species list in 1980 but its numbers and range continue to decline. Today the butterfly holds on in just five places in Oregon and one near Lake Earl in Del Norte County, California. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service have been leading recovery efforts through habitat restoration and reintroduction thanks to silverspot caterpillar breeding programs at the Oregon Zoo in Portland and the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.” The volunteers are marking their wings with Sharpies (which don’t dislodge any scales) so they can be visually tracked. More: “At the epicenter of Oregon silverspot survival is a single host plant – the early blue violet. The small plant is the only flower on which the butterfly larvae can successfully feed and develop.” So the volunteers put mesh tents over blue violets with zoo-raised caterpillar eggs on them. More: “Oregon silverspot live out their life cycle in unique wind-blown salt-spray coastal meadows and contribute to pollinating a host of wildflowers from the sea to nearby forests. Butterflies emerge in late June and into July. They mate and lay 200 or so eggs the size of sesame seeds near blue violets in August. ‘The butterflies can live four to six weeks, which is a really long time for a butterfly,’ [Izzy Bur, one of several field researchers,] said.” • Perhaps alien visitors think our lifespan is “a really long time” “for a human”?


“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.

* * *

Lambert here: The media frenzy on Baude and Paulsen seems to have died down. I have said, for some time, that the distinctive competence of the modern political party is the ballot: What the ballot line is, how the ballots are cast and counted, even which ballot line wins. However, hitherto, parties have only controlled the ballot line for their own candidates. When Baude and Paulsen propose that state-level election officials “disqualify” candidates of the opposing party, that seems to me quite a radical proposal. Parties have no Constitutional status, but if we in the United States have an “unwritten Constitution”, then Baude and Paulsen propose a change in the Constitutional order, and I don’t care what the verbiage is. Further, the change in the Constitutional order emanates from the hive-mind of an NGO composed of conservative lawyers (PMC), and if put through, will be put through by a liberal dogpile in the press (PMC). That, too, is a change in Constitutional order, rather like Napoleon crowning himself — that, too, was “self-executing” — an analogy I am sure Bourdieu would love:

“Law Professors, Legal Punditry, Donald Trump, and What’s an Academic to Do?” [Dorf on Law]. “In lay terms, both the removal statute and the doctrine of supremacy clause immunity require the defendant to have engaged in official conduct and, for removal, have a colorable federal defense defined quite loosely. Both issues will likely come down to whether Trump was engaged in official conduct ensuring the fairness of federal elections or whether he was a candidate trying to steal an election (or perhaps both). Were I writing a law review article on the subject, I would say these are issues of first impression, they impact our country tremendously, and my read of the law and facts is that Trump should lose but, of course, lower court judges and eventually SCOTUS may well come to a different conclusion. I expressed those thoughts publicly, which got me in trouble with some on the left who wanted no part of any uncertainty. The party line is Trump must and will lose these motions and why provide the other side with even the slightest ammunition to make their case stronger. This pushback gave me significant pause…..  I could have said last week something like, ‘well Trump should easily lose on both issues because the law and facts are against him and here’s why.’ I agree with that sentence but it is not even close to the entire truth. For one thing, predicting what appellate judges and SCOTUS will do in legally easy cases with a liberal/progressive political valence is fraught with danger, given the 6-3 conservative court (not to mention that half of the active judges on the 11th Circuit were nominated by Donald Trump). Second, it is crucial that Trump be treated the same way we would want future Presidents to be treated, and the line between candidate and federal officer may well be blurrier than many people think. And, third, the reality is that these are all issues of first impression with enormous implications for our country and maybe we should just slow down and take some time before pronouncing that Trump should definitely lose on both removal and immunity. But the media wait for no one. …. But here’s the rub. My ability to get others to recognize both my academic work and my punditry (there’s nothing else to call a five-minute segment on CNN or a 1500-word essay in SLATE) absolutely depends today on full participation in non-legal media of all kinds. That reality may not be true for folks teaching at elite schools, who by virtue of their Ivy League credentials may be able to garner exposure in other ways (such as hobnobbing with other elites). But for those of us without those credentials teaching at less elite schools, the path to career success these days is through social media much more than through 30,000-word law review articles and even books (but of course one also must produce such traditional scholarship).” • Hegemony in action. Dorf doesn’t want to “end up like Bill Black.”

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!

* * *

Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson:

The only transcript I can find is the autogenerated YouTube one, which is ridiculous. (Kudos to YouTube for finally making the timestamps clickable, but why the heck can’t I search within the transcript and copy it?) Anyhow, this exchange was interesting. I cleaned it up a bit (all errors mine):

7:15 [CARLSON:] I’m looking at the trajectory since 2015, when you got into politics for real and then won. It started with protests against you, massive protests, organized protest by the left and then it moved to impeachment twice, and now indictment. The next stage is violence. Are you worried that they’re going to try and kill you? Why wouldn’t they try to kill you? Honestly.

[TRUMP:] They are savage animals. They are people that are sick, really sick. You have great people in the Democrat Party. You have great people that are Democrats. Most of the people in our country are fantastic, and I’m representing everybody, not just Republicans or conservatives, I represent everybody. I’m the president of everybody. But I’ve seen what they do,  I’ve seen the lengths that they go to. When they make up the Russia Russia Russia, when that’s exposed they go down and Barr should have gone after them…..”

Two interesting things. First, Trump speaks without heat (very much unlike the screaming headlines). Second, the lack of agency is pervasive. Who, exactly, is “they”? Clearly not all Democrats, as Trump says explicitly, nor all the American people. So, who? Oh, and three: Trump doesn’t answer Carlson’s question (which is a good one). Readers, am I wrong? Does Trump answer this question, and I missed it in the transcript? If so, hmm. (Trump also has an well-observed analysis of Biden’s physique; Trump’s time in the world of professional wrestling served him well! Again, delivered without heat; stuff everybody has seen.)

Lambert here: Alert readers, if a transcript does appear, please put a link to it in comments.

“Trump taps veteran Atlanta defense attorney to lead fight against racketeering charges” [Politico]. “Donald Trump has tapped a new lead defense attorney as he prepares to turn himself in to state authorities in Georgia, where he faces allegations of orchestrating a sprawling racketeering conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election. Steve Sadow, a veteran Atlanta-based defense attorney, filed an appearance on Trump’s behalf Thursday morning in Fulton County Superior Court, supplanting Drew Findling as Trump’s lead attorney in the case. Sadow has been publicly critical of the way racketeering charges have been leveled by Georgia prosecutors, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2021 — as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis began her Trump-related probe — that the statute has been ‘overused.’ Sadow has represented other high-profile clients in recent years, including a star University of Georgia linebacker who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two women, and Sergio Kitchens, a rapper known as ‘Gunna,’ who pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge last year. Sadow’s high-profile clients have also included figures like Howard Stern, Usher and Rick Ross.” • Hmm. Trump seems to be hiring a better class of lawyers, these days. Suggests to me that the cases are not as strong as liberal Democrat rapture would imply (given Trump’s nature and reputation as a client).

* * *

“Body Language Told Me Everything I Needed to Know About the GOP Debate” [Politico]. “I’ve been studying nonverbal communication for over 50 years, 25 of them as an FBI agent specializing in decoding human behavior. I learned that humans are fairly good at lying — but they’re lousy at concealing their true emotions, especially when stressed. … As the eight Republican candidates — Trump, the frontrunner, was conspicuously absent — traded rhetorical blows, I watched with the sound off to focus solely on their body language: the handshakes, the gestures, the revealing facial expressions. Then I turned the sound on to assess how their tone of voice and words matched or conflicted with their nonverbal language.” “DeSantis has been criticized — even by his own party! — for being socially inept. But I did not see that. I saw a very serious candidate who is concerned about the issues; it’s clear from the tension in his face. His glabella (the space between your eyebrows) furrowed, which along with his emphatic hand gestures expressed his concern. DeSantis’ body language may not have communicated likeability, an important factor for undecided voters looking for a candidate they can trust, but he did show viewers that he considers the issues raised in the debate to be of the utmost importance.” “[Ramaswamy’s] gestures were the broadest and the most emphatic of the pack. When you make broad gestures, you lend more power to your words than someone gesturing lightly or not at all. Ramaswamy also made repeated use of what’s called a precision grip — with his index finger and thumb making an OK sign — which people use to show that they have command of a topic. His beaming smile garnered attention and defanged his detractors.” “But what really stood out was his willingness to engage others directly. One of the most dynamic moments of the debate was when Pence took on Ramaswamy over the state of the culture war and American exceptionalism, causing Ramaswamy to jerk his head back in disbelief. Pence’s tightly compressed lips had one unequivocal message: You are wrong.” • Interesting, but is it woo woo?

“In Trump’s absence, Ramaswamy drives the GOP debate” [Axios]. “The jabs at Ramaswamy, and the sharp elbows he threw in return, so dominated the debate that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who’s running a distant second to absent frontrunner Donald Trump — avoided the ‘dog-pile on Ron‘ scenario his campaign had predicted…. While Trump counter-programmed the debate with an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Ramaswamy essentially bear-hugged the former president. Trump wasn’t there, but some of his aides were. They praised Ramaswamy’s performance.” • Too bad “Slick Vivek” is a dangerous lunatic:

Not that Biden’s policies are anything like adequate to the scope of the problem. 

“Vivek Ramaswamy makes an impression at one New Hampshire debate watch party” [WaPo]. “By the end of the night, [Zach] Hayes was pronouncing the political newcomer’s name correctly and praising him as the winner of the Wednesday night debate. ‘I agree with a lot of what he says. I’m excited to see how he progresses,’ said Hayes, 39, a software engineer. Hayes joined more than 60 Republican voters here in the first-in-the-nation primary state for a watch party hosted by Americans for Prosperity, the network of donors and activist groups led by the conservative billionaire Charles Koch [oh]. The group is explicitly opposing the candidacy of former president Donald Trump but says it has not yet endorsed a candidate. After a night of sipping beers and eating fried mozzarella sticks at Murphy’s Taproom, a pub in downtown, it became clear that many voters who attended the event felt the same as Hayes: Ramaswamy captured their attention, making an early and strong impression against more experienced political figures, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who many thought would have garnered more of a spotlight during the two-hour debate.” • The guests carefully selected, I assume.

“Trump absent but still dominates as GOP presidential rivals clash at first debate” [Kansas Reflector]. “The second topic of the night, perhaps a surprise to Republican primary voters, was about climate change. A Catholic University of America student asked how the candidates would soothe young voters concerned about climate change….. Majorities of voters in both parties now say human activity is causing a warming climate, but still differ on whether those rising temperatures are primary factors in dangerous weather events — such as wildfires, floods, drought and severe storms — according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll published Wednesday.” • What any climate denialist candidate risks, in the  439 days until the election, is one or more weather events that drive home the reality of climate change to even the hardest to persuade. (Biden, though he blew it in Maui — “molasses-brained West Wing” is a phrase I haven’t used in awhile — has, as President, a campaign opportunity in such a weather event, if he can demonstrate competence in disaster relief and drive home the lesson that climate is real; like Katrina in reverse. Then again, the opportunity to do this in Maui is so obvious that one wonders how the staff missed it; perhaps they are entirely consumed with keeping The Big Guy ambulatory.

“Why Biden is smiling today” [Steve Israel [ick], The Hill]. Israel seems to think Ukraine is a winning political issue for Biden (and it looks like the DNC does too). However: “Speaking of the king, I never thought I’d say this, but I missed Trump. It was like going to a Broadway show and learning that the star isn’t performing, and there’s not even an understudy — just a bunch of people auditioning for the part.”

“It’s Trump’s party: Winners, losers and the absent front-runner at the first GOP debate” [USA Today]. “But the easy ride he got in the GOP’s first primary debate Wednesday night − without even bothering to show up on the Milwaukee stage − underscored the reality that the only person likely to cost Trump the nomination is Trump, as the repercussion of some health or legal or other catastrophe. At least at the moment, that sort of political lightning looms as a bigger risk to him than the prospect that one of the rivals on stage is going to be able to consolidate enough support to be a threat…. Nearly an hour passed before a question was posed about what Baier called ‘the elephant not in the room’−that is, the fact that Trump now faces 91 criminal charges that include obstructing justice, mishandling some of the nation’s most sensitive documents and trying to overturn the 2020 election.”

* * *

“I Lived Like Mike Pence for a Week” [Slate]. “Men are never to spend any time with a woman without a chaperoning presence. That’s a core tenet of the Modesto Manifesto, as defined by the late mega-preacher and notorious fundamentalist crusader Billy Graham. The idea is that by putting yourself under constant, panoptic surveillance, you shall never succumb to temptations of the flesh… Billy Graham established this statute in 1948, with input from a variety of his other neo-evangelist comrades, and lived by it until his death in 2018. More recently, a version of the creed was popularized by former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence…” And: “I say all of this because Slate asked me—a 32-year-old media professional with a liberal arts degree, a long-term cohabiting girlfriend, an apartment in Brooklyn, and, let’s say, a 65-to-35 split between female friends and male friends—to live like Mike Pence for a week.” • So this article is absolutely what one would expect, but it’s interesting to have the background on Billy Graham.

* * *

“Why the House Has No Alternative to an Impeachment Inquiry into President Biden” [Jonathan Turley, The Messenger]. Just asking questions:

Weiss cut a deal with Hunter’s legal team that was widely derided…. House Republicans had previously demanded that Weiss and his team answer questions about the investigation and the plea bargain. And an appearance before a House committee was planned when Garland suddenly preempted that by doing what many of us have demanded for years: He appointed a special counsel. To the amazement of many, though, he appointed the one prosecutor who should have been categorically excluded — David Weiss. Section 600.3 of the DOJ’s code on special counsels requires an appointment from outside the Justice Department, for obvious reasons. While another prior special counsel, John Durham, also came from within the Justice Department, Durham was retiring from the department at the time of his appointment. Not only did Garland have to ignore his own regulations to appoint Weiss but he also had to ignore the main qualification: The appointed outside counsel should be someone with ‘a reputation for integrity and impartial decision-making.’ Weiss could well have a legitimate defense to Republican complaints that he ran a fixed investigation into Hunter or accusations that he made false statements to his own team. However, he clearly remains under suspicion by many people. That is reflected in an ABC News/Ipsos poll in which almost half of Americans lack trust that the DOJ will conduct the Hunter Biden investigation in a ‘fair and nonpartisan manner.’ In addition to this controversial appointment, Garland again refused to expressly extend the special counsel’s mandate to include influence-peddling allegations involving President Biden.” • An impeachment inquiry is not an inquiry. Nevertheless. In my view, the House Republicans have conducted this investigation in a serious manner (very much unlike the Benghazi hairball). We’ll see if they can pull Turley’s recommendation off.

* * *

“RFK Jr draws quite a crowd – what does it mean for 2024?” [Guardian]. “Wearing a Robert Kennedy Jr campaign T-shirt, Kevin O’Keeffe found there was standing room only as the candidate, introduced as “”Bobby Kennedy””, walked on a sunbaked stage decked with hay bales to whoops and applause. ‘He supports freedom of speech, and he’s questioned the efficacy of the vaccine, which is legitimate at this point,’ said O’Keeffe, 52, who works for a telecommunications company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. ‘I like his views on foreign policy and keeping us out of the war. He cares about his fellow Americans in a way that a lot of the politicians nowadays I don’t think really do.’ He was far from alone in rooting for Kennedy at the Iowa state fair in Des Moines last weekend. The longshot challenger to Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024 drew one of the biggest and most energetic crowds, outnumbering conventional politicians on the Republican side. The shouts of ‘We love you, Robert!’ and ‘Thank you, Robert!’, and subsequent mobbing of Kennedy for handshakes and selfies, hinted at the stirrings of a movement…. Kennedy rose to prominence during the coronavirus pandemic because of his strident and widely condemned opposition to vaccines. He has styled himself as a hammer of the elites – quite a feat for a scion of one of America’s most storied political dynasties. He has scrambled old political allegiances, striking an anti-establishment nerve on the far left and far right over the Ukraine war and other issues.” • First candidate created by the implosion of the public health establishment (or, tin-foil hat time, the turn of public health to eugenics).

Republican Funhouse

“Virginia GOP Official Displays 16 Foot Penis Sign at Youth Baseball Game to Protest Woke” [MTN]. • Something wrong with Pride?

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


“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!

* * *


“Mask mandates reemerge amid upturn in COVID-19 cases” [The Hill]. “The recent upturn in COVID-19 cases in some regions has spurred a handful of entities around the country to reinstate mask mandates, reigniting the debate over what place masking requirements have in an era of living with the coronavirus.” Lionsgate, Kaiser, various hospitals and universities. “According to Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the necessity of mask mandates will come down to a case-by-case basis, adding that publicly available data [lol, dude, come on, what data?] should inform these decisions. ‘I think the new approach [oh, it’s new!] is we [who] want to make that information available to the public [lol] and give people some warning [albeit some weeks late] that there may be some [unknown amount of] increases in disease activity [or, in the vulgate, suffering and death],”” Plescia said. “”And then people decide for themselves sort of how they want to react and what kind of precautions they want to take.'” • In other words, let ‘er rip. How did the public health establishment get populated by monsters?

Yet another metaphor:


“COVID-19: examining the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions” [The Royal Society]. Extremely important:

Scientists and policymakers knew very little about SARS-CoV-2 when the pandemic began. It was not clear what an optimal strategy for NPI implementation looked like, including how outcomes vary for people of different ages, ethnicities, health status and socioeconomic groups. The widespread roll out of NPIs was also economically costly and led to major social disruption with wider impacts on health and wellbeing.

Now is an opportune time learn from NPI implementation during the pandemic and highlight evidence gaps to ensure we are prepared for potential future outbreaks of infectious disease.

There is clear evidence from studies conducted during the pandemic that stringent implementation of packages of NPIs was effective in some countries in reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

There is also evidence for the effectiveness of individual NPIs, but most NPIs were implemented in packages. Disentangling the effects of one NPI when other NPIs were implemented at the same time presents a significant challenge.

That is, an RCT is not an appropriate way to evaluate a “Swiss Cheese Strategy” of multi-layer protection, since each layer confounds the others. More:

Evidence suggests that NPIs were, in general, more effective when case numbers and the associated transmission intensity of SARS-CoV-2 were lower. NPIs became less effective as more transmissible variants of the virus emerged (eg Delta, Omicron) which were better adapted to spreading between people and evading immune responses.

So do NPIs hard and early, as many (including our own GM) advised.

Stringency of application of individual NPIs and groups of NPIs influenced rates of transmission, eg respirator masks were more effective than surgical masks and two weeks of quarantine were more effective than shorter periods.

One of the most important lessons from this pandemic is that the effective application of NPIs ‘buys time’ to allow the development and manufacturing of drugs and vaccines. There is every reason to think that implementing packages of NPIs will be important in future pandemics.

But NPIs like ventilation take years to implement. So if NPIs buy time for vaccines, vaccines also buy time for NPIs (time that the Biden administration, to its eternal discredit, squandered). NPIs that involved changing cultural norms (masking; social distancing) also take years, so vaccines buy time for them, too.

Elite Maleficence

“NNU delivers petition urging CDC to strengthen proposed infection control guidance; CDC cuts off public comments at advisory committee meeting” [National Nurses United]. The NNU doesn’t [family blog] around:

HICPAC, the CDC’s advisory committee on health care infection control, met yesterday and failed to address any of the concerns that have been raised about the proposed draft updates presented at their June meeting. (See NNU’s letter to the CDC on the union’s concerns.) HICPAC had been set to vote on the guidance yesterday but delayed the vote until November.

Good. More time. And:

Many members of the public registered to provide comment at yesterday’s meeting. Those who spoke expressed concerns and outrage about the process and potential ramifications for patients and communities. Despite recognizing that more had registered to speak, the CDC cut off public comment after hearing from only 14 people. This comes on the heels of significant criticism of the lack of transparency in CDC/HICPAC’s process and the committee’s failure to engage a wide range of experts with important expertise, including direct care health care workers, unions, aerosol scientists, respirator and ventilation experts, and occupational health experts.

“”It’s unconscionable that the CDC cut off public comment at yesterday’s HICPAC meeting, when we have been calling for increased public engagement in their process,”” said Triunfo-Cortez, RN. “”HICPAC Work Group meetings have been conducted behind closed doors and no frontline nurses or health care workers serve on this committee. When we tried to get information about these meetings via the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), our request was denied. We submitted a FOIA request to the CDC and received 279 pages of redacted documents.””

Ooooh. Documents to look at. And:

‘The CDC appears to be mustering its scientific and political might to discredit, not embrace, aerosol science and to give facilities a pass to justify their lack of implementation of needed protections. Currently, a worker is safer and has better gear in an Appalachian welding shop than working in the local hospital,’ said Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, board chairman of HealthWatch USA.

Stopping HICPAC in its tracks cannot have been easy. I don’t imagine that the hospitals that control HICPAC will take kindly to this. (I am a little surprised, however, that NNU does not mention DHQP, which plays an important role by supplying HICPAC with the putative science-like justification for doing what they want to do anyhow. If HICPAC is not especially acountbale, DHQP is not accountable at all.)

* * *

Droplet dogma has risen from the grave:

* * *

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

NOT UPDATED 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 24:

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: 1,173,081 – 1,172,960 = 121 (121 * 365 = 44,165 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). 

• “MEMORY HOLE: The Original COVID-19 Lie” [Matt Orfalea, The Orf Report (Censored News) (via Taibbi)]. Trying to disentangle this: “WHO initially estimated Covid’d death rate at 3.4%. But: “The WHO’s death rate was severely inflated because most COVID-19 cases are mild with no symptoms and are therefore never reported” (granting the tendentious “mild” and assuming that testing isn’t done). And now: “In the New England Journal of Medicine, Fauci and Redfield concluded the number could be ‘considerably less than 1%’.” Trump then repeats the 1% figure, and the Democrats engineer an enormous dogpile, reinforcing WHO’s authority on the higher number, which Ofalea documents at length. Concluding: “It was during this fear-mongering of both the virus and independent thought that destructive lockdown policies were adopted across the United States. Later, on March 23, 2020, with lockdowns already in effect, after nearly every show on CNN attacked Trump for questioning the WHO’s 3.4% death rate, CNN’s own expert, Dr. John Ioannidis, expressed the same skepticism as Trump, live on CNN.” • Lots of problems with this overly tight yarn diagram. First, neither WHO (wrong on airborne) nor Fauci (noble lies on masks, moving goalposts on putative herd immunity, conflicted) are trustworthy to the slightest degree, and I’d want to kick the tires on anything Ioannidis wrote, too (I’m not a fan of paper mills). Second, if Orfalea is urging that policy was engineered by the those who induced the dogpiling, then let him prove it, which you can’t do from a media critique. Orfalea is trying to reverse engineer a truth out of bullshit, and that can’t be done. Third, “fear-mongering” is extremely tendentious, to say the least. Nothing wrong with a little rational apprehension about mass infection with a Level 3 biohazard! Fourth, the preening implicit in “independent thought” is as bad as anything I’ve ever heard from a liberal; it’s one of the more offensive poses that conservatives strike, and very often, too. Fifth, “destructive lockdown policies” is meaningless and kneejerk-inducing. For one thing, lockdown in the United States was pissant, weak, unserious. For another, the whole piece is an implicit attack on non-pharmaceutical interventions generally. That’s worse than the lethal idiocy on masking Taibbi published from Hopkins the other day, being more skillfully crafted, invoking demon figures, kneejerk phrases, etc. “Independent thinking” my Sweet Aunt Fanny. Taibbi, IMNSHO, is in real “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” mode here.

Excess Deaths

The Economist, August 24:

Lambert here:  Back to almost daily. 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised value to 230,000 on the week ending August 19th, below market expectations of 240,000…. The results consolidated evidence that the US labor market remains at historically tight levels, adding leeway for the Federal Reserve to extend its hawkish momentum to curb inflation.” • “Curb inflation” = “screw workers.” It’s right out front now.

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index jumped to 12 in August of 2023 from -20 in the previous month, rebounding to its first positive reading since September of 2022 and tracking the rise in other US regional activity indices. The result challenged previous months’ data that suggested that manufacturers were under increasing pressure from the higher interest rates, reflecting a new wave of resilience.” • What does “resilience” even mean, and since when does it come in waves? That’s new.

* * *

Retail: “Dollar Tree said theft is such a problem it will start locking up items or stop selling them altogether” [CNN]. “Dollar Tree had a miserable quarter, and company management is chalking it up to a mix of factors: changing consumer demands on top of higher prices for fuel and electricity … and theft…. Dollar Tree CEO Richard Dreiling and CFO Jeffrey Davis blamed a surprisingly large drop in gross profit margin — tumbling to 29.8% last quarter from 32.7% a year earlier — on ‘shrink,’ the industry term for inventory losses due to theft, damages and other causes. Davis said the company has taken steps to fix the problem, but the shrink issue is getting worse — and ‘definitely advanced a little further than what we had anticipated.’ In response, Dreiling said Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, which the company also owns, will take more drastic measures in the coming months. ‘We are now taking a very defensive approach to shrink,’ Dreiling told analysts Thursday. ‘We have several new shrink formats that we’ll introduce in the back half of the year, and it goes everything from moving certain SKUs to behind the check stand. It has to do with some cases being locked up. And even to the point where we have some stores that can’t keep a certain SKU on the shelf just discontinuing the item. So we have a lot of things in the works.'” • Something’s not right…. 

The Bezzle:

The Bezzle: “Crypto has ‘amplified financial risks’ in emerging markets, central banks warn” [Financial Times]. “[C]rypto assets have so far not reduced but rather amplified the financial risks in less developed economies. Therefore, they should be assessed from a risk and regulatory perspective like all other assets,”” [the Bank of International Settlements] said in a 50-page report. Watchdogs including the IMF and the Bank for International Settlements have been charting the evolving financial stability risks from the cryptocurrency market as it ballooned from a nascent industry to one whose value peaked at $2.9tn in November 2021. Some were comforted by the limited blowback for the wider financial system as crypto’s value plummeted by 75 per cent within just over a year of its all-time high, but regulators including the European Central Bank have continued to warn of future risks, while global securities watchdog Iosco is pushing national authorities to be faster and bolder in their approach.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 24 at 1:13 PM ET. C’mon, Mr. Market! One way or the other!

Zeitgeist Watch

“A single weekly bout of exercise may reduce cardiovascular mortality: how little pain for cardiac gain? ‘The HUNT study, Norway'” [European Journal of Preventive Cardiology]. N = 27,143 men and 28,929 women over sixteen years. From the Abstract: “The observation that exercise training reduces cardiovascular mortality is robust and consistent, but the amount and intensity of exercise that is required for risk reduction is not yet resolved…. A single weekly bout of exercise of high intensity reduced the risk of cardiovascular death… The risk reduction related to exercise increased with increasing age in men, but not in women…. These results challenge the current recommendation that expenditure of at least 1000 kcal per week is required to achieve exercise-induced protection against premature cardiovascular mortality.” • Fortunately for couch potatoes like me, low intensity has benefits too! So take that walk….

Class Warfare

News of the Wired

“New ancient ape from Türkiye challenges the story of human origins” [Phys.org]. “A new fossil ape from an 8.7-million-year-old site in Türkiye is challenging long-accepted ideas of human origins and adding weight to the theory that the ancestors of African apes and humans evolved in Europe before migrating to Africa between nine and seven million years ago…. ‘The founding of the modern African open country fauna from the eastern Mediterranean has long been known and now we can add to the list of entrants the ancestors of the African apes and humans,’ said [Professor Ayla Sevim Erol at Ankara University].” All my apes are gone. To Africa!

* * *

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 laughingsong:

laughingsong writes: “We throw out mixes of native wildflowers every year. After about three extremely sparse years where very few came up, this year has gone bonkers. It’s giving us a huge amount of joy to sit out in the evenings and watch birds and pollinators enjoy our tiny meadow!” Highly recommended! BHoth the sitting, and the watching!

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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. antidlc

    From the CDC:
    Risk Assessment Summary for SARS CoV-2 Sublineage BA.2.86

    August 23, 2023, 10:10 AM EDT

    Current Risk Assessment

    Based on what CDC knows now, existing tests used to detect and medications used to treat COVID-19 appear to be effective with this variant. BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines. Scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of the forthcoming, updated COVID-19 vaccine. CDC’s current assessment is that this updated vaccine will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization. At this point, there is no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness. That assessment may change as additional scientific data are developed. CDC will share more as we know more.

    I thought this was an oddly constructed sentence: ” BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines. ”

    More capable than other variants?

    1. Objective Ace

      >More capable than other variants?

      If original antigentic sin is going on this would make sense as covid mutates farther away from what our immune systems were originally trained on

  2. Steve

    Bill: Who are they?
    Deathwish Drang: They are anyone who wants to be one of them. They live and die, but the institution of theyness lives on.

    Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

    1. Mark Gisleson

      This was a slightly different they. I think Trump is setting up reporters. “Who is “they”? Who is the “they” in the Democrat party? I think that’s pretty obvious: Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton. Barrack Obama. Do you want me to go on?” And if asked for details, I’m sure he’d have ’em.

      Trump’s big into the fascist “they” but this was a clear reference to the leadership of the Democrat party and that is a finger well pointed/uplifted. Never read “Art of the Deal” but the art of selling a political point is to make someone else pry it out of you and doing it in installments this far out is genius.

      “Russia Russia Russia” is a direct reference to Hillary Clinton. Trump seems to be focusing not so much on being cheated as setting up future lines like “hey, look at who’s cheating me — you know what? They’re cheating you too!”) Sticking w/pronouns and euphemisms would also make it harder for his judges to hold him in more contempt than they already do.

      Then of course Trump went on to babble about Russian and Chinese bases in Cuba but for a while there he sounded intelligible and then his paper uniform started falling off [Bill the Galactic Hero reference]

  3. Judith

    Apropos your discussion about Trump’s racketeering charges in Atlanta:

    This week’s column by Margaret Kimberley at BAR is about how Fani Willis used RICO against Atlanta school teachers.


    “Our children have been cheated by those who have willfully torn apart black communities through displacement and gentrification, underfunded and privatized public schools, and then have criminalized black educators for a dysfunctional system that was designed to fail.” – Shani Robinson , Atlanta teacher prosecuted by Fani Willis

    “So if what I am being criticized for is doing something to protect people that did not have a voice for themselves, I sit in that criticism, and y’all can put it in my obituary.” – District Attorney Fani Willis defending the prosecution and jailing of Black educators
    Who was Fani Willis protecting when she used Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute to put twelve Black educators on trial in 2015? Atlanta, like other major cities, was not caught up in the corrupt influence of racketeers, but of school test score mania. The No Child Left Behind Act punished school districts with low scores, putting them at risk of state takeovers, or of schools being closed. Educators in Georgia, 38 other states and the District of Columbia , succumbed to these pressures and changed test scores to give the appearance that children had reached educational attainment levels when they hadn’t
    The education prosecutions are but one example of Georgia’s style of politics, wherein white people put Black people in prominent positions but pull strings behind the scenes. Powerful white people demanded the police training center, Cop City, and the Black mayor and city council members go along despite the fact that their constituents don’t want 85-acres of militarized policing that will destroy an old growth forest.

      1. Late Introvert

        Yes, Judith wins the internet for a day with this excellent comment. I remember that whole thing and how unfair it seemed. Demo’rats always punching down, and on teachers no less. Sigh.

  4. ambrit

    Oh my. The Internet Dragons strike again!
    The problem with the Dollar Store business model is excessive store staffing reductions. The overworked store staff can barely carry out basic store tasks much less combat shoplifting too.
    How much of that high Dollar Store profit margin comes from staffing ‘shrink?’
    Dollar Store management is learning a lesson on the Limits of De-Growth.

    1. albrt

      I was in a Ross store a few weeks ago. A guy casually wheeled one of their bicycles out of the store and rode off, with the manual and tags still dangling from it. There was a group of five management level employees standing and chatting a few feet away from where the guy walked by. I asked them “You saw that guy walk out with the bicycle, right?”

      The two managers who had been facing the other way looked slightly surprised, the other three just laughed. Nobody answered the question.

      I don’t have any knowledge of the modern retail business model, but the business model pretty clearly is not what an ordinary person would think it is. There is a strong “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” vibe, but I think it is more than that.

      1. LifelongLib

        FWIW, the Ross store near me has security people, but I don’t know what they can actually do. I’ve heard retail stores generally have a policy of not physically confronting shoplifters. I did witness an attempted shoplift at a local supermarket, some guy heading out the door with a cart of stuff he hadn’t paid for. One of the checkers yelled at him and he went on out the door leaving the cart behind.

        1. johnherbiehancock

          It depends; generally retail staff are told not to confront shoplifters, or only to do so in a very cautious way, like “ask if they need any help” or “ask them if they’re looking for a place to pay.” But store security or “loss prevention” – to use the retail industry term – are often empowered to prevent and detain shoplifters.

          In my experience, the real aggressive ones tended to cause more problems, particularly lawsuits, for their employers. The smart ones would observe thieves, learn from them, and come up with more passive techniques for reducing theft.

          Surprisingly, local police tended to have mixed feelings toward Loss Prevention folks. You’d think they were all on the same team, but I recall at one retailer, the cops telling the store manager that they were so sick of getting calls because of the cowboy antics of that store’s loss prevention team, that the next time they got called they’d be arresting the store staff themselves & letting the alleged shoplifter go!

    2. Lunker Walleye

      I’ve gone to two different Walgreens stores recently and was panhandled both times. At the second store I mentioned it to a clerk and she told me there are lots of theft at the store. My friend in WI also reported seeing a person shoplifting several small leather wallets and being chased out only to return and try again.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Walgreens near me was shoplifted right out of business. There’s a Dollar Tree in that location now.

    3. Bazarov

      About 10 years ago, I fell in with a group of new friends who were all just-out-of-college or in-grad-school types. They were poor: several roommates, shitty jobs waiting tables or whatever. But they weren’t desperate. In fact, I got the sense that they were slumming it, that soon they would move on to bigger and better things (most of them did so within a few years).

      One day, while sitting with this group around a table and smoking weed, I learned that a member and his boyfriend were arrested that afternoon for shoplifting lingerie. After we laughed about it, conversation turned to shoplifting generally. The people at that table shoplifted, it turned out, almost every time they went to the grocery or clothing store using all sorts of strategies. One of them even had a bag specially lined so that the stolen merchandise wouldn’t set off alarms. Another used self-check out to “buy” expensive items dialed into the machines as cheap pieces of fruit.

      They soon began to notice that I was sitting silently. The awkward attention coaxed my confession: I had never shoplifted in my adult life. They were shocked, sort of mockingly called me a “saint” and remarked that I was foolish for not doing so, that the owners were well-aware that they were “getting us both ways” with inflated prices and low wages.

      I came away feeling clownish, though to this day I persist in the silly habit of trading my hard-earned money for goods and services.

      1. JBird4049

        If you are of the lower classes, a police record can seriously impede getting a job or an apartment, but I guess once you reach a certain level of money and status it is not a bother. What is it that compels people to be so unethical aside from the thrill of being so?

        1. some guy

          Perhaps a desire to feel rebellious without actually being so in any personal risk way. ” Stick it to the man” as long as it is not a powerful enough man to stick it to you back and harder.

          1. digi_owl

            Gets me thinking about a story from some years back about how young girls would cut holes in the back pocket of jeans etc where the alarm tag would usually be. This in order to make it seem like they had stolen the jeans rather than paid for them.

      2. ashley

        retail theft is far less than wage theft. i agree with the friend group – youre a fool for falling for the rEtAiL tHeFt narrative as those same retailers are robbing their workers blind.

    4. johnherbiehancock

      I worked in the corporate offices of retailers for about 13 years, and while store ops/loss prevention wasn’t in my particulare wheelhouse, I remember picking up quite a bit of information about it over the years.

      Notably, stores that were understaffed often saw more shoplifting than stores that were fully staffed, even when controlling for location. And I’m not talking about hiring overbearing “loss prevention” security guards/goons to scare customers, or strongarm potential theives: things as minor as having more salespeople on the floor and making sure to greet customers when they entered made them less likely to steal. In higher risk areas for theft, the cost of an additional salesperson on the floor more than offset the high shrink rates.

      Unfortunately, hiring more workers is anathema to the MBAs running these companies, and (more indirectly) the private equity parasites siphoning money out of them… no one wanted to ever mention to the finance guys that more money would be going to the plebians, even if you could show an overall improvement to the balance sheet.

    1. GramSci

      IMHO, that was an excellent comment. I remember a story about Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm adopting a similar technique, but that he ran (runs?) a flock of chickens through the plot, after the cattle are done, to feast on various dung beetles…

      1. thousand points of green

        Thank you for the kind words. Acres USA is an excellent publication. The Acres USA bookstore carries many excellent books.

        I have gone to quite a few Acres USA conferences over the years. At some of them I have seen farmers from Mexico who came to learn stuff and see people, in particular some of the ag consultants who hold no-charge open-session hours during the events. These farmers all seem to represent the industrial ag sector of Northern Mexico. Quite a few years ago a young Mexican farmer came up on behalf of his farming family who owned a 5,000 acre operation in Sonora. Just last December at the conference there were two farmers from again Northern Mexico there to learn some acres approaches and make contacts and etc. I asked them if they had any interest in the legacy culinary corns that Mexico is so famous for and they said that kind of artisanal heirloom corngrowing is a South Mexican thing, not North Mexican. I gather the agriculture in North Mexico is pretty much all industrial and so any Eco-Acres-type knowledge will have to be relevant to their needs.

        So the question arises in my mind, if Industrial Ag in North Mexico uses irrigation water to grow corn or soy or etc., could it use that same water to grow grass and forage the way John Kempf discusses in his article? Do they even know these methods exist? Is there someone reading this comment who knows Industrial Ag growers in Mexico and might consider showing this comment to them in order to see if they would be interested in pursuing that lead back to the source? ( Acres USA, John Kempf, etc. etc. etc.)

        And if it is not too brazenly effronterous to wonder, one wonders if Mr. Corbishley his own self knows ( or knows how to reach) actual growers in Mexico who might be personally interested in material about these high-yield high-powered grass and forage concepts?

        1. Greg

          One of the small things I learnt from taking papers in ecology was that trophic levels matter. Anything eating something else is inefficient, and a step through the levels generally is an order-of-magnitude reduction in energy.
          This is a widely applicable rule of thumb, including in grain vs pasture. Energy and resource inputs growing grain which is harvested and fed to cattle will always be much more than feeding the plants to the cattle directly.
          And if we can figure out how to get cows to photosynthesis and feed them fertiliser, that’d be more efficient still (sounds dumb, but that is sort of one of the goals of lab-grown meat).

          Grain-fed beef is extra silly because it isn’t even a tradeoff of land use, because the grain production takes about as much land as a pasture rotation. The only way it makes sense is if you have soil that *cant* support pasture, but can support some grain growth in some seasons. Seems niche (but I live in a temperate country with lots of rainfall).

  5. Screwball

    From the “I’m not surprised one bit” file. Last Tuesday a truck of some kind (so I hear) went down the alley behind my house and pulled down a telephone wire. Looks like an old AT&T line and it was pulled from the neighbors house behind me. Part of it was hanging in my driveway, and a smaller piece could be seen connected to his house. The wire laying in my driveway is probably 20 ft long.

    I called AT&T last Wednesday. Took an hour to get a real person because I didn’t have an account. I told them the issue. They said they would fix it, but didn’t know when.

    As of today, I was tired of driving around it, and going out holding it away from people’s cars when I had company, so I cut it down. Now there is about 4 feet hanging from the wires above, but not in the way. I wonder if they ever do come fix it. They don’t care. Probably because nobody is using it and they aren’t making any money.

    It shouldn’t come to this, but what are you going to do? The crapification of everything continues on…

    1. griffen

      So we’re screwed like the citizens of Rock Ridge, NV, governed by the inept William Le Petomane? At least Hedy, er Hedley, was highly competent but also capable of the “evil for which he stands.”

      Life is satire…Mel Brooks always had a good handle on the satire. By the bye, i don’t think the above is funny just another example of things going awry.

    2. ambrit

      Yep. Here in the North American Deep South the local AT&T system has abandoned their two wire ‘hard wired’ comms links and replaced it with a 5G network. Repeaters every block or so, up on the wires. We used to use AT&T, but after the switch, went with a direct wired ‘cable’ set up from a competitor. (What’s the proper name for a situation where a group of businesses get together and fix an agreed upon price?) Yeah, one of those. But I digress.
      The extant two wire system has been left to rot in place. Many houses around this neighbourhood have two wire connections to the abandoned system. Even the local “deplorables” seem to be too lazy to strip out the copper wire cores and sell them to the local scrap yards. (The biggest scrap yard here was bought out by a Russian Oligarch ten years ago.)
      Stay safe. Prepare for “The Winter of Our Discontent.”

    3. hunkerdown

      They aren’t making any money by letting volunteer scrappers haul off that high-grade copper, etiher.

      1. ambrit

        The technical issue here is on how to strip off the rubber or plastic coating over the copper. Many places understandably prohibit the burning of plastics and rubber of any variety. Not only a toxic danger, but stinky as H—. (The smoke will really stain light colour clothes.)
        Mechanical ‘strippers’ can be made, but require a bit of labour to do the job right. Then there is the question of the disposal of the excess wire coating.
        Being poor is labour intensive.

    4. Nikkikat

      AT&T has been a half ass company, too big to fail for years now. I had a land line phone when I lived in California. The connection into the house would become a problem whenever it rained. There would be a loud buzzing sound. It had a part that needed replacement. I called numerous times. It took days to get thru on a repair line. Then they couldn’t come out for three weeks and then they sent an inside repair guy instead of an outside repair guy. Phone then goes out all together. Four weeks to get a repair done. Only after I got really mad and told them I had an elderly person in the home did I get it fixed. (There was a law) they had to fix within certain number of days)
      Every time they went to large AT&T box at the end of the street to set up a customer with their TV service , my phone would go out. I would again call for days. Neighbors who signed up For TV ended up cancelling sine TV would not work for days at a time.
      Turned out that almost every aspect of company is NOT AT&T. It is privatized. The cell phones, TV service, land lines, internet were all private companies. Brought in piecemeal
      To take care of segments of the business with little or no over sight. Horrible company.

  6. Carolinian

    Re shrink–I was in Lowe’s yesterday looking for a plumbing part and said I’d just look at the selection whereupon the plumbing guy walked off 20 ft and stood there watching me. And I totally understood and didn’t resent it. Meanwhile at the less savory of our Walmarts the dreaded plexiglass ever more in evidence. Is the self service business model–so friendly to chintzy floor staffing–going the way of the dinosaurs?

    And it’s so woo woo that it’s soon to be a PBS pledge drive special right after Suzie Orman. Political reporters have way too much time on their hands.

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added some orts and scraps, especially in the Covid section. More on HICPAC, where CDC is, unsurprisingly, behaving badly, but also a report from the Royal Society on Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions.

  8. Jake

    “Dollar Tree said theft is such a problem it will start locking up items or stop selling them altogether”
    There was a Dollar Tree in South Austin near one of the homeless nonprofits (I consider that a derogatory term) where the city moved unhoused people experiencing drug addiction a decade ago, creating huge meth camps all around the area. They had only one person working at the store most of the time and they were not supposed to leave the register. So people would come from the meth camp all day long and grab chips and sodas and whatever other horrible food they had and just walk out right in front of everyone. We had been working for years attempting to improve the very dangerous situation around the meth camps and stopped by that store and heard from the manager about it, and watched people stealing right in front of us during the brief time we visited. The hardest part was after over a decade of trying to improve the situation the city council ignored us at every turn. Being traumatized over and over again by people screaming at you, following you, threatening to kill you, and attacking you only to have activists scream “you can’t criminalize homelessness!!!!!1” it felt like I was being victimized again. It became debilitating for me personally. Luckily I was not stuck in Austin and was amazingly able to sell my house and escape the madness. I still spend most days thinking about the whole thing all day long, but I have started recovery. I can’t imagine what these companies could do to stop shrinkage in a city where activists and the city council conspire to create situations where criminals face absolutely no consequences for their actions. If Dollar Tree were smart, they would simply pull out and close all stores in cities that have entirely given up on law enforcement.

    1. Carolinian

      As we read here every day the people at the top cheat and steal like crazy so guess those at the bottom want to get in on the action. The fish rots from the head.

      I like Dollar Tree better than other dollar stores but you have to say their business model is flaky at best. Not only do they have hardly any employees but they pay minimum to those they do have. And given the trends their scheme of selling super cheap but often adequate Chinese merch could be on the way out.

      I’m told that out West the Dollar Trees don’t even have cashiers now and are self checkout only. Maybe robo guards could be added.

    2. JBird4049

      Follow the money as always.

      There is not enough jobs, housing, or healthcare.

      The local government instead of using its own agencies and employees gets grants for the parasitic NGOs who do too little, take too long, and cost too much while making sure that the money stream both for it and the local politicians never ends. Solving the problem means it ends.

      The supposed activists are usually ignorant, performative cosplayers more interested in appearing virtuous, fellating their egos, and buffing their CVs for future gigs.

      The police do not want to get involved unless they need to fill their quotas or they have to take down a camp for political reasons. Any criminal work becomes dictated by political considerations, not community needs. Note that the police are more likely to become corrupt, brutal, and incompetent in these areas.

      The homeless people are shoved into the most isolated, political weak areas, which become sacrifice zones; anyone who does not have a home is forced to stay with the people with the most serious conditions and surrounded by drug users and dealers, thieves, and chaos. If they were of sound mind and body at first, they quickly lose it.

      Companies like the Dollar Store underpaid and understaff their businesses, which means poor service, horrible conditions, and massive amounts of theft. If they actually adequately staffed and paid their stores including adding some security, they would not have problems.

      This is what happens when society is run as a society-wide grift. It becomes an interlocking, mutually reinforcing downward spiral.

  9. Tim

    Regarding Billy Graham. There is the story where he opened the door to his hotel room and there was an extremely attractive woman not very dressed on his bed…and a tabloid photographer hiding in a corner he couldn’t see.

    Billy immediately dropped his briefcase and ran down the hall and out of the hotel. The photographer never got his shot and the tabloid never got their take down.

    I’m not sure when in his career this happened, but it happened. He was right to be paranoid of others and himself. As a result he maintained the standard he was obligated to uphold with his specific position of influence.

  10. kareninca

    A person in my online worship group who is in Massachusetts just caught covid for the first time. A guy in the same group who is a high level public health bureaucrat told us they are going back to masking at his office; he was pretty grim. There are three people with weird bacterial infections in their bones. The bureaucrat has a colleague whose 20 year old daughter has extremely aggressive colon cancer. One lady’s 12 year old grandson has long covid and can’t walk from one part of the house to another without his heart rate going up to 150. One lady said that she had been utterly exhausted for months, but that her doctor told her there was no way to tell if she’d had covid via an antibody test because it would only show antibodies to the spike and so would just show that she’d been vaccinated (in other words, the doctor had never heard of the nucleocapsid protein; that was not reassuring).

    On reddit covid/positive, there are a LOT of new posts (it had been very quiet for a while), and most of them are people who haven’t had covid before.

    For what it’s worth, the bureaucrat hadn’t heard of AirTamers and was excited by mine; he said that he thought it would help (and he is very careful about what he says).

    In sum, if you have not caught covid yet, this is a time when you easily might.

    1. RookieEMT

      I finally got tired of the masking and finally got slammed by it at a wedding.

      Yes, an obvious venue but I gave up on masking months before that and went to restaurants. No Covid. I went to a few public venues, talked to stranger. No Covid. Volunteered at a rescue squad that barely masked for medical calls. No Covid. I took Covid tests whenever I got the mildest nose tingles. Never tested positive.

      All until the wedding. Such a strange disease.

      1. kareninca

        It is really, really odd that way. The virus waits us out. Its time frame is not our time frame. But what can the mechanism be? How was it that you didn’t catch it, but then did? Was it something about your condition? Was it something about the variant??

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > No Covid…. No Covid….. No Covid…. All until the wedding

        Let me quote a big slab of Taleb that covers this situation exactly. From The Logic of Risk Taking:

        Consider the following thought experiment.

        First case, one hundred persons go to a Casino, to gamble a certain set amount each and have complimentary gin and tonic –as shown in the cartoon in Figure x. Some may lose, some may win, and we can infer at the end of the day what the “edge” is, that is, calculate the returns simply by counting the money left with the people who return. We can thus figure out if the casino is properly pricing the odds. Now assume that gambler number 28 goes bust. Will gambler number 29 be affected? No.

        You can safely calculate, from your sample, that about 1% of the gamblers will go bust. And if you keep playing and playing, you will be expected have about the same ratio, 1% of gamblers over that time window.

        Now compare to the second case in the thought experiment. One person, your cousin Theodorus Ibn Warqa, goes to the Casino a hundred days in a row, starting with a set amount. On day 28 cousin Theodorus Ibn Warqa is bust. Will there be day 29? No. He has hit an uncle point [that is, “cries ‘Uncle'”; there is no game no more.

        No matter how good he is or how alert your cousin Theodorus Ibn Warqa can be, you can safely calculate that he has a 100% probability of eventually going bust.

        As for example at the wedding. In Taleb’s terms, you kept going to the casino.

        The probabilities of success from the collection of people does not apply to cousin Theodorus Ibn Warqa. Let us call the first set ensemble probability, and the second one time probability (since one is concerned with a collection of people and the other with a single person through time). Now, when you read material by finance professors, finance gurus or your local bank making investment recommendations based on the long term returns of the market, beware. Even if their forecast were true (it isn’t), no person can get the returns of the market unless he has infinite pockets and no uncle points. The[y] are conflating ensemble probability and time probability. If the investor has to eventually reduce his exposure because of losses, or because of retirement, or because he remarried his neighbor’s wife, or because he changed his mind about life, his returns will be divorced from those of the market, period.

        We saw with the earlier comment by Warren Buffett that, literally, anyone who survived in the risk taking business has a version of “in order to succeed, you must first survive.” My own version has been: “never cross a river if it is on average four feet deep.” I effectively organized all my life around the point that sequence matters and the presence of ruin does not allow cost-benefit analyses; but it never hit me that the flaw in decision theory was so deep.

        Importantly, Covid is not “just the flu”; from Taleb’s standpoint. Long Covid (not to mention neurological and vascular damage) it’s a “ruin risk.” And given 1 in 10 odds of ruin once Covid has been caught… Not a good play if you want to stay in the game. (One can think of making masking and NPIs generally as reducing ruin risk for every individual in the general population.)

        I should really look at that weasel Bob Wachter’s “personal risk calculation” because I would bet it exemplifies the confusion Taleb responds.

        Thanks for your comment, and I hope your case is, er, “mild.”

        1. kareninca

          That is a great description of the issue of the odds. But then there is the question of why a person got it at one exposure but not another. When you throw the dice, it is just plain odds. But there is a physical reason underlying catching an infection or not at a particular moment.

          I suppose that that doesn’t matter for purposes of decision making, since we don’t know what the physical factors are.

          The big questions will be – are we all actually infected already? I think possibly. The other is – does anyone ever clear this? I think possibly not. So maybe we should all start taking whatever antivirals we should get our hands on now. I’m not recommending this (!!!); I’m just thinking aloud.

          1. Raymond Sim

            I’m attempting to mentally acclimate my family to the idea that hope for a normal life may well depend on their being early adopters of antiviral therapies, if and when those become available. I’m already resigned to the liklihood that many will have to die before that happens, and many more will already be beyond helping when it does. I’ve never so desperately wanted to be wrong about something.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > On reddit covid/positive, there are a LOT of new posts

      It would be interesting to graph those counts, if it were possible; could be more accurate than the Yankee candle indicator, which has also been trending up.

  11. skippy

    Ref – Expansion of BRICS …

    Control/influence over energy prices w/ reduction in ability to use economic sanctions for desired outs comes is the big ticket item here. Which then leads to the question of why so many are doing it, not to mention, they will have a larger economic foot print spanning over considerably more of the planet.

    Wellie … free market globalism seems to have worked out a lot different than its original architects envisioned – it seems. Like the written in stone and carried down the Mount idea that the ***Chosen Ones*** would be the administrators of it in perpetuity …

    Ideologies ego seems to play a big part in all this ….

    Hudson et al … commodities vs monies thingy ….

          1. skippy

            The political classes, which include the PMC, these days, are just the HR dept keeping the unwashed out of sight and out of mind in the West …

            As far as MPS sorts go … they are just miffed that the Newtonian hangover from the late 1800s and gave breath to neoclassical, via bad maths and physics, bastardized their rights to deliver the message carved into the stone tables … card carrying sorts have told me just so …

            1. ambrit

              That sounds so, zen. A stone card. I’ll need a heavily reinforced breast pocket on my shirt.
              “Good day to you sir. My card. I represent the firm of ‘Adamantine, Inflexible, and Inerrant.”‘

    1. The Rev Kev

      Every four years when the Republicans come up with their Presidential candidates, it is always like a clown car and this time is no different. But Ramaswami tries to outdo them all. Yesterday I was listening to a brief clip of him talking about Taiwan and one idea he floated was to have a gun in every household in that country to help fight the Chinese because he said that he loves the 2nd Amendment. Idjut.

      But as far as that article on using body language to see who was the best Republican, give us a break. Your links on Ramaswami alone are enough to tell you what he would be like as President so looking at body language is just another bunch of hoo-doo magic but upgraded for modern times. As for Ramaswani’s idea of a centralized database of private medical records, in practice that would be the mother of all honey pots for hackers to go after.

  12. britzklieg

    Trump w/ Tucker… assuming the Donald survives the purge, he wins big over any Democrat.

    I won’t vote for him, Dr. West gets mine, but Trump wins.

    And so it goes…

    1. Acacia

      Ditto, though I am now actually kinda looking forward to the next time some friend/acquaintance/colleague gloats that “the walls are closing in” on Trump, so that I can add: “yeah, with Trump almost nearly purged thankfully there’s no reason whatsoever to vote DemParty.”

  13. outside observer

    Not a fan of Trump but gotta say compared to what we’ve had for the past 3 years he sounds… lucid.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Not a fan of Trump but gotta say compared to what we’ve had for the past 3 years he sounds… lucid.

      Trump’s assessments of political figures are in fact quite acute. Trump is not stupid, and Trump is not crazy.

  14. Joe Well

    Re: Taibbi on covid

    Listening to him, Matt Stoller, Glenn Greenwald, and many others on this subject, reminds me to always remember where you are located in the socioeconomic matrix and seek out other points of view.

    These are highly affluent individuals born into the PMC (slightly less so in Greenwald’s case) and they absolutely never, ever see the world through the eyes of a nurse, nurse’s aide, restaurant worker, school teacher, factory worker, severely disabled person living in hospitals or in assisted living, etc. etc.

    That observation is beyond pat and clichéd, but it is also 100% true.

    Also, so committed to their “side” on the Twitter Wars that they don’t notice the obvious fact that even with many precautions and interventions, approaching 1.5 million Americans have died from Covid. Without any interventions, that number could easily be three times as high, and maybe eventually as high as 3% of the population.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      Yes, these three have been disappointing. I suppose it’s an example of why you need to stay in your lane, w/r/t your proven area of expertise and be extremely cautious when treading outside of that. I feel Greenwald in particular has gotten too dragged into piss contests and it’s skewed his judgment a lot more lately.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        … and another reason this family blog is so important. Politics-as-sport no played here.

    2. PelhamKS

      I would like to see Lambert’s rip on Taibbi and Orfalea in Taibbi’s Racket Substack comments. Please, Lambert, add your 2 cents there. I’ve already posted by critical comment, but yours is sharper.

  15. JM

    Copying over a link I put in Links shortly before the watercooler went up:

    This will take you to a form where you can send an editable email to the representatives for your area, as well as several other governmental agencies about the HICPAC mess. I didn’t edit their pre-existing message other than to add links to Lamberts excellent write-ups from prior to the meeting.


  16. Jeff W

    “…why the heck can’t I search within the transcript and copy it?”

    You can, or, rather, the reverse: you can copy the transcript to a text editor (or some word processor, if you prefer) and then search within that. It could probably be easier but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly difficult to do.

    1. Acacia

      This works. Also, check out downsub DOT com.

      You put in a YouTube URL, and it gives you a subtitles file. No need to dig around in the Transcript, copy/paste, etc.

      You can then use the text editor of your choice to read/search through the subtitles.

      There are some URL shortcut tricks, too.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you can copy the transcript to a text editor (or some word processor)

      That’s what I did. And what a PITA that is, since the transcript does not distinguish speakers. It’s not difficult to do, but it takes time away from more important things, and in any case one expects a multibillion dollar company to do better.

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘Inspired from HICPAC: I conducted an RCT of raincoats – I wore them 3 hrs a day, and overall they didn’t really stop me getting wet (it rained all day). Clearly raincoats are not superior to no raincoats.
    My recommendation: Don’t wear raincoats – they don’t work.’

    Fully agree with Dr. Deepti Gurdasani. It is also well known that condoms are only 98% effective in use so clearly they too don’t work either and you shouldn’t bother. if you want protection, just make sure to cross both fingers while doing the deed.

  18. Wukchumni

    Was instantly reminded of Eisenstaedt’s 1933 photo of Goebbels, as if Trump was deliberately striking a pose.

  19. ChrisPacific

    From the Slate article:

    First and foremost, both my boss and the other full-time writer on the Human Interest team at Slate are women…

    …Our team has one-on-ones and pitch meetings every week, which means if Pence becomes president and institutes total theocracy—the Gestapo going restaurant to restaurant in order to make sure that men are not alone with a woman other than their betrothed—then I literally wouldn’t be able to do my job.

    Or if the author was in a profession with male-dominated leadership roles (statistically much more common) then the reverse would be true. The article does not mention this. He didn’t need to succumb to the woke tendency of finding oppression under every rock, but surely there was a point to be made here.

    1. rowlf

      It reminded me of Sergey Lavrov being interviewed by British media.

      Let me help you with your homework…

    2. LifelongLib

      I’m probably more impressed with RFK Jr than I should be, but a politician who can think on his feet and bothers to argue with someone who disagrees with him is rare nowadays…

  20. skippy

    Its a bit more than surreal to consider Trump and RFK are a better option than the hags dressed up as a race horse by the legacy parties. Trump has a long history of breaking and skirting labour/environmental laws, not to mention scams, and after getting elected engaged in a ludicrous amount of plugging family members into roles they had no business being in …. so much for fighting for the little people …

    RFK …. ugh … gold fish with a pedigree spawned out of the family bowl and high level member of the PMC … is he going to drain the swam too and set the ship straight … btw too what past might that be …

    The sad fact is the only thing that matters in America or the West these days is money, drives everything else, you have enough and things can happen, you don’t and it does not matter … the market decides everything and the idea that if you come from more does not matter … its all social affiliations from the top down …

    1. ambrit

      Paddy Chayefsky was a lot sharper than we give him credit for.
      His script for “Network” makes reference to the media corporation, of course. But I just realized that it also refers to the web of human interactions within the play.
      The older I get, the more I appreciate how dumb I really am.
      Stay safe.

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