2:00PM Water Cooler 8/8/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Meadowlark (Eastern), Gettysburg National Battlefield, Adams, Pennsylvania, United States.

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Last Friday, I wrote:

I don’t want Water Cooler to be an exercise in doomscrolling. That’s why there are birds at the top, in the sky, and plants at the bottom, for the earth. That said, the world isn’t in the best shape, and we do have to report that clearly, especially in the face of denial, minimization, layers of impacted PMC bullshit. That said, “”if it bleeds, it leads,”” meaning that our famously free press has little incentive to report good news beyond clickbait-y heartwarming anecdotes. That’s one reason I invented, quoting Mr. Rogers, “”Look for the helpers”” in the Covid section; to relieve the bleakness. Let’s expand the principle!

Links to stories about helpers are also good:

If readers wish to send me more links or photos of helpers in action, you can mail me with “”Helpers”” in the subject line. Could be Covid, could be any situation. Even helpful animals!

“Ozark Electric linemen help rescue kittens living inside the base of a transformer in Fayetteville” [KFSM (SV)]. “A family of cats living inside the base of a transformer was rescued by two linemen in Fayetteville on the evening of August 3. NWA Community Cat Project volunteers called Ozark Electric Cooperative for help saving the kittens. The company then sent Jacob and Bobby, two linemen, who were able to safely rescue the kittens. The mother was also trapped by volunteers. The family is now living in a foster home.” • Photo accompanies:

The helpers here are the unnamed people who spotted the cats, then the NWAC volunteers, then the lineman (making the “hero” headline not only deceptive but not really interesting). NOTE: For this section, I’m looking for examples of helpers who don’t fit into existing categories (or on-going stories we already track). Clara-the-borscht maker yesterday and today’s cat rescue epic certainly don’t do that. I’m still feeling my way on this concept, and granted we started with a cute kid and then a kitten, but it’s the helping that matters. Please send me more! 


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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“A day of legal action in Trump imbroglio previews a chaotic 2024 election year” [CNN]. “It’s already almost impossible for voters who may be asked to decide whether Trump is fit for a return to the Oval Office – or at least to carry the GOP banner into the election – to keep pace with all the competing legal twists and the scale of his plight. A confusing fog in which all the cases blend together could work to the former president’s advantage as he seeks a White House comeback while proclaiming he’s a victim of political persecution by the Biden administration. But the deeper his legal mire gets, Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination are getting braver in suggesting that his fight against becoming a convicted felon could be a general election liability. Trump’s dominance in the GOP primary has been boosted from his criminal indictments to date. But the sheer volume of cases unfolding alongside his campaign is increasingly daunting.” And: “All of this frenzied activity unfolding on one day represents just a snapshot of the complex legal morass now surrounding Trump. It’s just a taste of the enormous strain the ex-president is about to feel as he campaigns for a return to the Oval Office. The crush of cases will also impose increasing financial demands. Already, Trump’s leadership PAC has been diverting cash raised from small-dollar donors to pay legal fees for the former president and associates that might instead have gone toward the 2024 campaign.” • That being the point.

* * *

“DeSantis Has Discovered No One Likes a Copycat” [Politico]. “Like their cousins in commerce, [DeSantis campaign strategists] studied the leading brand in their market — Donald Trump — and then devoted themselves to 1) imitating him, and 2) expanding on what he does…. Like something conjured in a mirror, DeSantis copies every political stance and gesture Trump has made in the past eight years. But instead of supplanting Trump in the minds of the Republican base, the Florida governor appears to be fading…. Why doesn’t DeSantis’ me-too act generate greater appeal to Republican voters?…. There is only one god in the party, and as long as Trump is on the ballot and demanding fealty, Republican voters will have no god before him. Why praise an imitator when you can have the real thing? That’s the state of Republican fundamentalism today. It’s Trump on top. Trump underneath. And Trump all the way down.” 

“DeSantis Says Trump Rigged the 2020 Election for Biden” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “The Florida governor’s new departure is to blame Trump rather than the evil Democrats for the alleged voting irregularities that made the election suspect: ‘[H]ere’s the issue that I think is important for Republican voters to think about: Why did we have all those mail votes? Because Trump turned the government over to Fauci,’ DeSantis said, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. ‘They embraced lockdowns. They did the CARES Act, which funded mail-in ballots across the country.’ So there you have it: DeSantis is suggesting that Trump is as much a perpetrator as a victim of the rigged election of 2020. Not only does this provide an elegant solution to the problem of validating stolen-election schemes without exonerating Trump, but it also nicely meshes with DeSantis’s strategy of running to Trump’s right. Trump’s alleged empowerment of devil figure Anthony Fauci has been one of DeSantis’s most consistent targets.” • Wowsers. 

“DeSantis replaces campaign manager in latest shake-up” [Politico]. “Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager Generra Peck, in what is the third major reshuffling of his operations, a campaign spokesperson and a person familiar with the move confirmed to POLITICO. Peck will be shifted to a role of chief strategist as part of the new order. Taking her place atop the campaign will be James Uthmeier, who has served as chief of staff in DeSantis’ governor’s office. In a text message, Uthmeier said the change was happening ‘ASAP.’ The move comes just weeks after the DeSantis campaign and close advisers insisted that Peck’s job was secure, even after the team shed a third of its staffers amid a budget crunch and concern about the direction of the operation. The governor’s team pledged to scale back, build an insurgent operation, and do more mainstream media outreach. They’ve done all that. But the results have yet to be reflected in the polls.” • Ah, the dreaded vote of confidence!

* * *

Ramaswamy asking for my vote:

Except not:

He’s a loonie.

* * *

“Democrats Are Handling the Hunter Biden Story Wrong” [The Bulwark]. “Biden’s role as ‘the good father’ is embedded in the national psyche, reinforced by his public devotion to and defense of Hunter. Josh Barro, a Democrat who left the GOP in 2016, sees that devotion in a dark, depressing light. ‘To love Hunter Biden is to expose yourself to being used and abused,’ he writes. He says Hunter has wreaked ’emotional terrorism’ on his family ‘as they have struggled to keep him alive and sober.’… The Biden family has made its choices out of love. But strictly from a political standpoint, the pattern is dangerous…. Veteran Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik says in his latest campaign memo, the White House staff must have ‘the authority to manage’ the president’s son. Otherwise, ‘Hunter could become a serious campaign liability. It is inexplicable how Hunter has been allowed to parade around White House State dinners and fly so conspicuously on Air Force One.’ The Hunter problem is going to take an ’emotional toll’ on the Bidens no matter what, Sosnik writes. I think he’s right. It will hurt them when his troubles make news. It will hurt them to exclude him in order to avoid even more public notice. These are tough family decisions, yet Joe Biden has a higher duty right now, a duty to his country. One hopes an adult child, even a troubled one, will understand that and be secure enough in his father’s love to do what he must: fade from the spotlight as much as is possible, and let his father do what he must: win a do-or-die referendum on America’s future.” • How on earth can this person have insight into the Bidens’ family dynamics?

Clinton Legacy

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

* * *

“The New York City mayor is having his Aaron Judge year after all. And it’s not good.” [Politico]. “Adams — not unlike the Yankees captain, who was sidelined by a toe injury in June and July — has struggled all summer. There is a law enforcement investigation into a former member of his administration. There’s a looming federal takeover of city jails. The City Council overrode his veto of affordable housing bills. And now migrants are sleeping on sidewalks in Manhattan as a crisis over their arrivals grows worse. The nonstop hits call into question Adams’ depiction of himself as a strong executive who is running the nation’s largest city competently after years of mismanagement. And if the problems continue to spiral, Adams could have what every New York City leader fears most — a one-term mayoralty. ‘It has been a difficult couple of months,’ Basil Smikle, the former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, said in a phone interview. ‘He needs some victories. He really needs some ways to change the conversation.’ A high-ranking Adams administration official put it more bluntly. ‘Horrible,’ said the official about the mayor’s recent troubles. The official was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the boss.” • What a waste. The cop with the million-watt smile implodes…. 

Realignment and Legitimacy

“An airplane pilot went viral for scolding his passengers—Harvard expert says it’s great leadership: ‘Bravo'” [CNBC]. “‘I say bravo to the American Airlines pilot. He has every right to do that. He’s the captain of the flight, and he’s in charge of what happens,’ Bill George, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School and author of ‘True North: Emerging Leader Edition,’ tells CNBC Make It. ‘If something goes wrong, he has the obligation to go back to the nearest airport and land … and no passenger likes that.’ In the video, which started circulating last week, the pilot set some ground rules for his passengers — including what they should expect from their flight attendants, and how they should treat each other during the journey.” The key passage: “[The flight attendants are] going to take care of you guys but you will listen to what they have to say because they represent my will in the cabin, and my will is what matters.” • There’s a word for that. Something to do with leaders, which explains why the Harvard dude is so enthusiastic. I know  it’ll come to me….


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). 

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“Teaching a Graduate-level Research Methodology Course with Comprehensive COVID-19 Precautions: Implications for Safety Knowledge, Attitudes, Behavior, and Inclusivity” (preprint) [Research Square]. N = 11. From the Abstract: “University instructors experience uncertainty regarding how to teach in person in effective, safe, and health-inclusive ways during periods of high COVID-19 transmission. This article provides a blueprint for implementing proven COVID-19 safety precautions based on a small graduate-level health psychology research methods course in 2023.” And the Results: “COVID-19 safety knowledge increased from 55.5% at baseline to 93.6% and 87.3% at post-test and follow-up, ps < .001. Students masked better (72.7%), promoted improved indoor air quality (90.9%), changed testing strategies (45.5%), helped others manage risk (27.3%), helped others to understand Long COVID (54.5%), and rated the course as more health-inclusive than their other courses (100%). Course evaluations were highly favorable, with 89.3% of all ratings and 96.4% of target ratings as at least a 4 out of 5.” • I do think layered protection shouldn’t need a graduate-level course, but perhaps that’s where we as a society are. I also think that leveraging the entire “preprint” apparatus for a course description is novel and interesting. And probably useful. 


“They were handing out free masks outside an Albuquerque hospital. Then security stepped in” [Source NM]. The deck: “New mutual aid network distributing thousands of masks, want health care settings to keep or return masking safety measures.” And: “They held signs that read, ‘FREE MASKS,’ ‘Life-saving masks here,’ and ‘Keep masks in health care.’ In about one hour, they handed out 675 free high-filtration masks to patients, health care workers and visitors going to and from the hospital…. Some people declined the free mask. One nurse who works at the hospital gratefully took some, and said she would distribute them to her coworkers inside Presbyterian. … Everything was going smoothly for the mutual aid group until about 2:20 p.m., when two hospital security guards pulled up in a truck, got out and asked the group to leave. One of the guards told Source NM that Presbyterian Hospital doesn’t have a policy prohibiting mask distribution, but does prohibit gathering on the property if someone has no business inside the hospital. ‘They don’t want solicitors,’ the guard told the group. ‘And I know you guys aren’t selling anything, you’re just giving out masks which, I don’t see a problem with that — I don’t see why anyone else would — but it’s just how our policy works.’ In response to questions from Source NM about the group giving away free masks, Dionne Cruz Miller, chief hospital executive at Presbyterian Hospital, said on Monday the hospital system doesn’t allow ‘vendors’ to hand out anything on any of their campuses without approval. Cruz Miller did not respond to a question asking why the surgical masks in the lobby at the hospital in Albuquerque are placed behind a desk and not in plain sight.” • lol.

Celebrity Watch

“KISS took Vancouver firm’s treatment to avoid COVID and cancelling world tour: manager” [Vancouver Sun]. “Members of the band KISS used a little-known treatment created by a Vancouver biomedical company to avoid getting COVID-19 and cancelling their farewell world tour after lead singer Paul Stanley tested positive for the virus, their manager says…. The company McGhee called was Vancouver-based Ondine Biomedical, which created Steriwave, a technology that involves putting a disinfecting liquid into the nose and then activating it with lights attached to probes to kill viruses lurking in the respiratory system. It has been used by Vancouver General Hospital to reduce infections in surgery patients for more than 11 years. A study released last Thursday showed the use of this ‘nasal photodisinfection’ at Ottawa Hospital reduced the length of patients’ hospital stays, readmissions and antibiotic use.” • See Water Cooler July 28 for more on Ondine Biomedical. Interesting!

Immune System Dysregulation

“SARS-CoV-2 Uses CD4 to Infect T Helper Lymphocytes” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Brazilian study. “The mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 infection may result in immune system dysfunction is still not fully understood. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2 infects human CD4+ T helper cells, but not CD8+ T cells, and is present in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage T helper cells of severe COVID-19 patients. We demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S) directly binds to the CD4 molecule, which in turn mediates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 in T helper cells. This leads to impaired CD4 T cell function and may cause cell death. SARS-CoV-2-infected T helper cells express higher levels of IL-10, which is associated with viral persistence and disease severity. Thus, CD4-mediated SARS-CoV-2 infection of T helper cells may contribute to a poor immune response in COVID-19 patients.” • Oh.

Testing and Tracking

“A covid uptick is here. Good luck finding a free test.” [WaPo]. “The Biden administration stopped mailing test kits to households in June. The ones Americans stockpiled over the last year and a half are expiring. Major insurers no longer pay for over-the-counter tests once the requirement to do so ended with the emergency declaration. As a result, those who still factor covid into their daily lives are weighing whether it’s worth roughly $12 to test for every sniffle and scratchy throat and every visit to grandma. The costs quickly add up for larger families and for people who’ve contracted covid intent on protecting others by following federal guidelines to test repeatedly to end isolation and masking.” • “People intent on protecting others?” What’s wrong with them? 


“Influence of Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection on COVID-19 Severity: Evidence from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative” (preprint) [medRxiv]. N = 7,446,481. From the Abtract: “Overall, prior infection was associated with a significant slightly elevated risk of severe disease. This effect varied month to month. As the pandemic proceeded, the effect of prior infection tended to evolve from generally protective during the pre-Omicron era to unprotective during the Omicron era. This points to the need for continued strategies to avert and minimize the harms of COVID-19, rather than relying upon immunity acquired through previous infection.” • Commentary: “While the study design can’t assess reinfections prevented by immunity, it blows a hole in the hull of the ‘hybrid immunity’ party boat.”


“Efficacy of three antimicrobial mouthwashes in reducing SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva of hospitalized patients: a randomized controlled pilot study” [Nature]. Pilot study, N = 40. From the Abstract: “Group 1—0.2% Chlorhexidine digluconate (CHX); Group 2—1.5% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2); Group 3—Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) or Group 4 (control group)—No rinsing.” And: “Although a reduction in the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva of COVID-19 patients was observed after rinsing with mouthwashes containing 0.2% CHX, 1.5% H2O2, or CPC, the reduction detected was similar to that achieved by the control group at the investigated time points. The findings of this study may suggest that the mechanical action of rinsing/spitting results in reduction of SARS-CoV-2 salivary load.” • Interesting! I’d sure like to have seen something more mainstream compared to CPC, like alchohol and Eucalyptol (Listerine), and Povidone Iodine. In any case, in real life, since the cost of mouthwashes is so low, I don’t see a reason not to choose which mouthwash to use based on one’s own concept of a reasonable mechanism. Also in real life, or at least in my life, I know I’m a lot more likely to unscrew the cap on a bottle of mouthwash as part of my protocol, then I am simply to rinse and spit, because there’s a visual trigger (and speculating, perhaps even spending a small amount of money on the mouthwash invests me in the process). Readers?

Science Is Popping

“Evidence for Aerosol Transfer of SARS-CoV-2–Specific Humoral Immunity” [ImmunoHorizons]. The Abstract: “Infectious particles can be shared through aerosols and droplets formed as the result of normal respiration. Whether Abs within the nasal/oral fluids can similarly be shared between hosts has not been investigated. The circumstances of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic facilitated a unique opportunity to fully examine this provocative idea. The data we show from human nasal swabs provides evidence for the aerosol transfer of Abs between immune and nonimmune hosts.” • Hmm…. 

“Something Awful”

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


Elite Maleficence

National Nurses United on HICPAC:

On HICPAC, see NC here and here.

Every time I read a story like this, and I read a lot of them, I want to write a letter to Biden and Cohen (once Walensky), thanking them for having put us in this position:

“Lessons from COVID-19 Can Help the U.S. Prepare for the Next Pandemic” [Commonwealth Fund]. “The pandemic revealed major fault lines of socioeconomic and racial disparities. Black, Hispanic, and Native American people experienced substantially higher death rates than their white counterparts, even when accounting for differences in age and underlying comorbidities. Racial disparities were evident within the first year of the pandemic and were subsequently exacerbated by differences in vaccine uptake. We must take concrete steps to address racial disparities in health outcomes, including measuring disparities, diversifying the health care workforce, and rebuilding trust between government and communities at risk.” • No mention of the working class as such, naturally. And “communities at risk” carefully erases class and replaces it with idpol. Anyhow, pious hopes. Look at the patheric Operation NextGen. 

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, August 7:

Lambert here: We have now surpassed the second peak (#2), of the previous Covid pandemic infection peaks. 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! I wonder which of the previous peaks (#1, #3, or #4) we’ll surpass next. A curious fact: All of Biden’s peaks are all higher than Trump’s peaks. Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders! Musical interlude.

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

Regional variant data:

EG.5 (the orange pie slice) still seems evenly distributed.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 5:

Lambert here:  EG.5 at the top of the leaderboard (after waiting two weeks ffs). EG.5 is big in Japan:

From CDC, July 22:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, July 29:

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

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


From Walgreens, August 7:

3.4%. Interestingly, people are citing to this, too, as well as Biobot. Vertical-ish, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 17:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one…. 


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, August 2:

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: 1,170,784 – 1,170,781 = 782 (3 * 365 = 1095 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, August 6:

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

Stats Watch

Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States increased for a third consecutive month to 91.9 in July 2023, a fresh high since November last year, beating again market expectations of 90.6. Twenty-one percent of business owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, down three points from June. Also, owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved 10 points from June to a net negative 30%, the highest reading since August 2021; and the percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased four points to a net 25%.”

* * *

Banking: “Banks hit with $549 million in fines for use of Signal, WhatsApp to evade regulators” [CNBC]. “U.S. regulators on Tuesday announced a combined $549 million in penalties against Wall Street firms that failed to maintain electronic records of employee communications. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against 11 firms for “”widespread and longstanding failures”” to maintain records, including by allowing employees to use unsupervised side channels such as messaging apps WhatsApp and Signal, the regulator said. Wells Fargo was the biggest U.S. bank cited Tuesday in the sweeping actions.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 8 at 1:50 PM ET.

The Gallery

If the aliens landed and turned out to be art collectors, which would they prefer? This:

Or this:

Or both?

Book Nook

“Authors Reject New Literary Database” [Today in Books]. “We are going to need some court to rule on what counts as fair use when it comes to AI, LLMs, and copyrighted work. Fast. The latest accelerant is called Prosecraft, and it bills itself as the first large linguistic database for literature. It has sucked in the work of more than 12,000 authors so that it can spit about speciously useful info like how “”vivid”” something is. It also says it can analyze passive voice, but whoever made this doesn’t know what passive voice actually is. And how are authors whose work has been fed into this thing feeling about it? Not terribly enthused.” • Outright theft, to produce bullshit, wrecking the livelihoods of producers. That’s AI in a nutshell. Silicon Valley, too.

Class Warfare

Well, now we know why the SIlicon Valley timeline is so stupid:

Cf. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s management principles:

I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.

Which officers are these lunatics selecting for? 

“Amazon Says It Doesn’t ‘Employ’ Drivers, But Records Show It Hired Firms to Prevent Them From Unionizing” [Vice]. “Amazon hired at least two union-busting consulting firms specifically to prevent its drivers from joining the International Brotherhood of Teamsters over the course of 2022, according to six reports filed to the Department of Labor and ob’tained by Motherboard. This is notable because Amazon claims that the drivers who deliver its packages are not its employees. Motherboard reviewed five reports filed to the Department of Labor, which showed that Amazon spent more than $14.2 million total on anti-union consulting in 2022. Of that, $160,595 went to Optimal Employee Relations and Action Resources, who, on their own reports, specifically referred to ‘drivers’ as the target group of their persuasion. Amazon and the contractors it hired are required to file these reports with the government each year. Amazon’s filing references nine contractors hired throughout 2022.” • ” Optimal Employee Relations.” I love it!

“‘Lazy girl jobs’ reflects Gen Z’s work anxieties” [Axios]. “TikTok videos under the ‘lazy girl job’ hashtag — coined by 26-year-old Gabrielle Judge—  have amassed more than 17 million views, often featuring women at their desks discussing the benefits of their office jobs. A ‘lazy girl job’ could help employees achieve better work-life balance, Judge told Axios, adding that the idea has gotten people ‘reflecting on their relationship with work.’

She defines this kind of job as one that can be ‘quiet quit,’ is physically safe, and offers flexible hours, remote work, and what she calls ‘comfortable salaries’ of $60,000 to $80,000. Examples include marketing associate and account manager roles, according to Judge.”

“America’s white majority is aging out” [The Hill]. But: “By 2045, according to census projections, non-Hispanic white people will fall below 50 percent as a share of the American population. By 2050, non-Hispanic white people will represent less than 40 percent of the under-18 population. Demographers warn, however, that those milestones vastly oversimplify the story of a diversifying America. For a start, millions of Americans no longer embrace a single racial identity. How many? It’s hard to tell…. Getting back to those census projections: By 2045, more than 18 million people will claim two or more races. Subtract them from the total, and the population of non-Hispanic white people leaps from 49 percent to 52 percent of the remaining population, their majority status restored. ‘Whites are going to be the largest group in this country for a long time,’ said Richard Alba, distinguished professor emeritus in sociology at the City University of New York. ‘In a sense, we’re forming a new kind of mainstream society here, which is going to be very diverse. But whites are going to be a big part of that. It’s not like they’re going to disappear and be supplanted.’  Alba argues that the census itself is ‘locked into a way of thinking that dates to the 20th century, and that’s the idea that people are only one thing when it comes to ethnicity and race.'”

News of the Wired

“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” [The Atlantic]. From 2008, still germane: “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.” • Absolutely true for me. Readers?

* * *

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 SR.

SR writes: “Glamour Gal hibiscus bloom. That’s the name! My phone doesn’t capture the dusky orange pink….”

SR writes: “Glamour gal bloom 4 hours later.”

The color seems to be fine now!

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a sad story. A little guy gets caught up in the gears when Silicon Valley scales AI.

      A scholar named Carolyn Spurgeon wrote a wonderful and insightful book titled Shakespeare’s Imagery in 1923, using similar techniques to Prosecraft — manual, pre-AI — with index cards, IIRC Could a bullshit generator with the right training sets write the same book? I don’t know. Certainly it could produce some book, faster.

  1. Roger Blakely

    Yesterday I got a positive test result for COVID-19 from a rapid antigen test for home use by modifying the procedure. How did I modify the procedure? I stuck the swab up my butt instead of up my nose.

    I am not joking. This is important. I can generate proof at any moment that I suffer from the health effects of COVID-19. “You don’t have COVID-19,” my boss says. “Your test was negative.”

    I say, “My body is riddled with SARS-CoV-2. It’s just not up my nose.”

    I also did my little experiment to point out that the pandemic is not over. It is safe to assume the SARS-CoV-2 is present in all indoor public spaces like grocery stores, gyms, churches, office buildings, and public transportation. It isn’t that the virus went away. It is that most people’s immune systems are keeping the virus under control enough to avoid generating a positive rapid antigen test.

    People are constantly inhaling the virus. In an effort to clear out the virus, the body dumps the virus down the GI tract. That is why SARS-CoV-2 is showing up in wastewater. That is also why office buildings are full of SARS-CoV-2. The virus is getting aerosolized in the restrooms and mixing in with the rest of the air in the air conditioning system.

    1. Jhallc

      So, cheek swab, nose swab and anal swab….preferably in that order. Actually does seem to be a better way to cover all the bases. The CDC is never gonna go there.

    2. kareninca

      I really wonder why stool tests aren’t available. Not to be paranoid or anything. Maybe it is because nearly everyone would test positive? Since most of us likely have reservoirs of covid in our brains and bone marrow and guts and other places and are still pumping out the virus? And it would be inconvenient for people to ponder that?

      Also I wonder why a google search of “can you use a covid RAT on stool” brings up nothing. Hey, google, hasn’t anyone discussed that??? Anyone at all?

      It is true that nasal secretions and poop have different pH and are in other ways different, so I wouldn’t be certain that your test is proof; maybe something about poop would cause the line to show up, independently of the presence of covid. I would say that a person who isn’t infected should try this and see, but by gum, we don’t know how to tell for sure if someone isn’t infected, do we. Except maybe through an autopsy?

      1. kareninca

        Okay, I have now made the supreme sacrifice. I had myself autopsied. No, not really. But it occurred to me that I’m as close as you’ll get to someone who probably has not had covid yet. I have not had covid symptoms, and because I live in CA and volunteer at an organization with more than 50 people (or something like that) I am still required to self-test every week with a RAT since I’m not vaccinated. I use Xlear, an N95, and a daily claritin (and ivermectin once every six weeks). The only times I haven’t masked outside my household were when I was visiting a relative on the East Coast for a few days, in her house around a few relatives (and I seriously dosed myself with Xlear and claritin then, and wore an AirTamer). No-one in my household seems to have caught it, either; my husband is stuck in public without a mask for work, but I make him use an AirTamer then (plus Xlear and claritin).

        So, I took the RAT in Roger Blakely’s “alternative” way. Negative.

    3. Roger Blakely

      To be fair, and I’m trying not to gross people out, the trick is to get on the swab not stool but the clean, clear mucous discharge that is the white blood cells having rounded up the virus in the GI tract.

  2. Jason Boxman

    So I’ve been considering an alternate approach for building support for improved ventilation; Why not meet people where they are on this? We might get some purchase this way, by pitching that ventilation can reduce how often people get sick, like this weird summer flu, so odd, and just not mention COVID. People seem to reject that it’s a thing or ever was a thing, and this starts off on the wrong foot as it were. But with people likely being on the whole quite sick 2-3 times a year or more, maybe offering a solution to just being so sick with this odd cough, might get some buy in?

    Certainly not the world that I want, but we need to make progress with whatever we’ve got, and the direct approach that COVID is real, dangerous, still spreading with reckless abandon, and causes long term, permanent vascular, neurological, and immune damage is somehow not getting it done.

    This seems to need to require a strong bottom up approach to move forward; Our political elite are death bent on preserving the situation as it is.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Why not meet people where they are on this?

      I can see surrendering the word “Covid”; Paris is worth a mass. Surrendering “airborne” would not, I think, be possible.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Sure, we can’t push for better ventilation and not point out that this matters because people are getting sick because of airborne viruses; I just think maybe using that thing that cannot be said, COVID, is sadly counterproductive at this point.

        I’d like to hope something can come of this; We actually eliminated the flu in 2020. If we can do that with high but not universal adherence to masking, even poor quality masks, maybe there can be something to ventilation improvements. It is much to hope for, in this world, but not impossible.

        It’s weird that TB or measles are universally seen as airborne and bad news, but nothing else can possible be so. What population level of disease burden, if anyone, can change this?

        We gonna be findin’ out, aren’t we?

    2. Acacia

      Could you elaborate on what you mean by “meet people where they are on this”… ?

      I’m thinking of a couple of typical (or, typical around me, at least) scenarios: (1) colleague says ‘oh, the epidemic is over, we don’t need to do anything about ventilation’, or (2) colleague says ‘yes, I’ve heard some people are getting sick, but I just open windows and I haven’t had any problems!’, or (3) colleague says ‘yes, I am concerned about COVID, but there’s nothing we can do about the workplace except open some windows — we can’t possibly ask the company to, you know, [exasperated gasp] even measure air quality, because they will just never do it…. no budget… natter… blah blah’.

      1. Jason Boxman

        We might need much higher disease burden. Dunno. Was just a thought. I don’t get out much might not sell either.

    3. chris

      I think meeting people where they are in this kind of situation means giving them information and options to act on that information. It also means penalties for landlords or other businesses that refuse to follow good practices. Ventilation is complicated. Too many people don’t know how their AC works. Giving people that kind of information, and explaining how air flow and humidity can affect their health, would be a great step towards making us all healthier.

      1. Acacia

        That sounds fine, though I guess I’m wondering how to even get to that point. Most ppl I know don’t seem inclined to reflect much on how their ignorance and/or indifference could pose a problem, either for themselves or for others.

    4. kareninca

      That is such a reasonable suggestion, hahahahaha. People aren’t reasonable. I know someone whose daughter and grandson both have long covid; she is one of the smartest people I know (she’s the daughter of two famous academics and genuinely extremely sharp herself); she is doing nothing at all to keep from catching it over and over again. There is a guess going around that it is the effect of covid on the dopamine system (which in itself is well established), and that it leads to a lack of self-care.

      I still bore people relentlessly with my beliefs about the perils of covid infections, but no-one listens, except the few people I know who haven’t caught it yet.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    For DeSantis to still be getting news coverage is blatant coddling by the media. He’s burned through three campaign heads already? What? Everyone else already had the best embeds?

    Going with his chief of staff from Florida, James Uthmeier, seems like a real DICK Cheney move.

    Ymawsamar Keviv. I’ve learned to spell Vivek Ramaswamy frontwards and backwards because at the very least, he’s the new Buttigieg (I just peeked at Pete’s new Wikipedia page picture and it makes unshaven Pete look warm and cuddly by comparison, full on dead stare into the camera like a soulless Neo taking the red pill).

    1. The Rev Kev

      From a distance DeSantis looks like a dead man walking. I guess many Republicans are thinking why vote for Trump Lite when you can vote for the real thing?

      1. Late Introvert

        Kim Reynolds is so bummed that she won’t be DeSantis’ VP. She pissed off Trump after kissing his ass all this time.

  4. Angie Neer

    On the plant photo, I believe the improved color in the second photo is simply because the first one is over-exposed. Nevertheless, it’s beautiful, and cool to see the before/after.

  5. nippersdad

    I think this is quite probably the first election that I will have witnessed in which legal guardianship needs to be given to the White House staff to send the president’s son to reform school for the sake of our endangered democracy. That is a new twist.

    “…but I’ve changed my mind about how to handle the Hunter Biden problem. Denial, dismissal, paternal indulgence, and legalistic analyses aren’t going to cut it in an election like the one we’re facing in 2024. Democrats, the president, and anyone who cares about the survival of democracy should fear any factor that could tip the balance the wrong way, whether it’s third parties or a troubled family member”

    Are there no prisons in Guantanamo? Are there no black sites in Chicago that will rid us of this meddlesome first son so that we can move on to slandering Cornell West? Who thought it was a good idea to send Victoria Nuland off to Africa, and where is Elliott Abrams when we need him?

    Interested people are interested.

    1. pjay

      Yes, the Bidens’ problem is just that they are too damn loving! Hunter is such a f**k-up that they need to exercise some “tough love” and cut him loose – and put some staff members on it to keep him away. He’s making Joe, devoted public servant and enemy of corruption, look bad by association. It will be very painful for such a loving dad, but it’s necessary for a Higher Good – the Good of the Country!

      What a load of unbelievable bulls**t. But the striking thing about this article is that unlike many of the soulless mercenaries in today’s media, I think this poor woman actually believes this! I checked her bio, and she is an experienced political reporter. Are the True Believers worse than the soulless mercenaries? It’s hard for me to decide; a curse on all their houses!

    2. Carolinian

      Yes I had to grab a Kleenex after that touching essay on a father’s misguided love. Oh sorry, the Big Guy’s love.

      In that spirit however an alternate theory might be that Beau was Biden’s favorite who he still mourns and Hunter had to seek his father’s approval by losing himself in drugs and also by being just like Dad. The apple of grift doesn’t fall far from the tree?

      1. nippersdad

        “Yes I had to grab a Kleenex after that touching essay on a father’s misguided love.”

        That would make a good theme for her next column.

        “I read somewhere today that the federal government has borrowed 1.6 trillion dollars in the past ten months. I can certainly see it; investing in good minders staff for the Biden family is spendy. Dad is off sniffing little girls hair and showing them his legs while sonny is out back in the conference room with hookers and blow. Let’s not even talk about what the uncle gets up to down in the Virgin Islands. Just. Don’t. Ask.

        Yep. The only problem with the Bidens is that they are all just too loving and they can move so quickly! You just need hundreds of people watching attending them, and then you have to pay off the witnesses when they scamper away from you into the bushes. But none of those incidentals really matter because he is just so darn much better than Donald Trump. When you think about it, 1.6 trillion is just a bargain for such quality people.

        And, really, Hunter and his Dad’s business activities were just meant to be a subsidy for the federal governments beneficent works on behalf of the taxpayer. If you want quality loving people running your government you are going to have to pay for it. Nothing is free in this world, you get what you pay for, and, above all, it is the patriotic thing to do so that the Russians don’t win.”

        That might be a fun one to read.

  6. IM Doc

    Regarding the above linked study demonstrating the spike protein of SARS CoV2 attaching itself and apparently greatly diminishing the CD4 cells.

    In the most simple analogy, the CD4 cells are the bellringers on the watchtower. When something has invaded, they are the first to notice and the first to get active. They begin producing all kinds of cellular signals that begins to involve the rest of the immune system. Having them be diminished is extremely detrimental. This is EXACTLY how HIV works.

    This appears to be a very well-done basic science study.

    My questions – How long does this effect last?

    And yet another question that has been plaguing me from the very beginning…..I have always been deeply concerned about using as a vaccine, the most pathogenic part of the virus – the spike protein. If the spike protein on the virus is capable of doing this, one must assume the spike protein produced by the vaccine are doing the same. Again – is this the case? And how long does this last after a vaccination? Since we have never done this before, we have no historical antecedent.

    This paper was discussed this AM in a conference I attended on Zoom. These questions did come up. The answer to how long this damage lasts in a natural infection? We don’t know…….The answer to the vaccine issue? – Much work needs to be done…..it could very well turn out to be a problem.

    There were so many other issues and questions that I do not have the time to reproduce here.

    One thing that was brought up is that very early on – as in March 2020 – at least one and possibly other papers came out describing the similarities that SARS Cov2 had with HIV in this regard. So, this is not really a new line of conjecture. This paper is just revealing the granular details in how this is indeed actually happening. Interestingly, that initial paper was squelched back then and all discussion of this was instantly stopped. It does make one wonder. This has happened with so many other things the past 3 years. This behavior is so foreign to those of us who went through the AIDS era. How I wish that we could get back to real science, not corporate “protected” science or “political football” science. Discussing things out in the open. Having true datasets. Having complete access to the raw data in each and every paper. Having our national agencies make available for all to see every bit of the raw granular data in every aspect. No fear of retaliation or retribution or political games. BEING ABLE TO ASK HARD QUESTIONS WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING ARRESTED OR DEPLATFORMED OR DELICENSED OR DEBOARDED. That is clearly far too much to ask in our world today.

    I have quite frankly given up on the big picture. My job is now my patient cohort and in every instance doing the very best I can for each of them.

    And just like in the AIDS crisis, we are still in a very early stage of this one. We really do not know exactly what we are dealing with.

    1. Roger Blakely

      “And just like in the AIDS crisis, we are still in a very early stage of this one. We really do not know exactly what we are dealing with.”

      I nominate this statement as statement of the decade.

    2. Carolinian

      So to have “misinformation” you first need information. Somebody tell the media, Facebook, Google, Youtube, the site formerly known as Twitter etc.

    3. RoadDoggie

      Thank you for continued service to your patients but also to us on this here blog. I really do appreciate your insights around ‘rona and I wish you the best.

    4. flora

      Thank you, IM Doc. Your circumspect comment reminds me clearly of the HIV crisis from decades ago and of all that occurred then. I had many young gay male friends in the arts back then – theater, music, painting. Some did not survive. Though I’m only a mere medical layman, I think the HIV reference is directionaly correct.

    5. curlydan

      I don’t think most people realize that the average time from HIV infection to AIDS symptoms is 8-10 years.

      There was a pretty good Twitter thread a couple days ago about a wide assortment of viruses and their long-term effects and diseases they can cause. Definitely humbling since we’re only 3 years in:

    6. The Rev Kev

      As I have said before, you should really publish your autobiography one day, preferably posthumously for your own safety. That way future historians will have a valuable primary source into how the pandemic was able to cause as much damage and how it was aided by people in the government, the media, corporations and even in the medical establishment.

  7. semper loquitur

    “It is inexplicable how Hunter has been allowed to parade around White House State dinners and fly so conspicuously on Air Force One.”

    No it’s not. It’s the Biden Crime Family in action. Hunter’s just there to work the room for the Big Guy.

    1. nippersdad

      Answers to questions not asked: Hillary in the China room with a bottle of Ninja Squirrel sriracha.

      When there is a problem within your crime families, who best to answer them than your very own abuela?

    2. Pat

      These stupid and inept “experts” keep thinking they are at the end of the last century and are surprised when they do something stupid and it gets noticed. So Hunter was allowed to keep running freely around the WhiteHouse because even when there were accusations and stories because they thought it could be buried or would disappear with a denial. Joe could pull out his patented “ dead Beau stories complete with crocodile tears” and everyone would forget the crack addict. But in destroying the political niceties and with their dismal constituent service (not donor, constituent), Democrats have demolished the fire walls. The stories get reported in multiple outlets, not just Fox. And they have a rabid audience that spreads them, and more importantly don’t let it go. They notice the flights, the dinners, and yes the security heavy cavalcade to the court house where the deeply flawed plea bargain blows up in their face because it is so bad even the friendly judge can’t rubber stamp it.

      Of course there is also the bit where Joe was a problem in this. He couldn’t give up Hunter because Hunter was Joe’s major bag man. And Joe wasn’t ready to forgo the spoils.

      1. Carolinian

        Right. And it wasn’t Hunter who blew up Nordstream. Blatant and in your face is how the Biden’s roll.

        Meanwhile the rest of us are stuck on this hurtling train with a wild man in the cab and the hot boxes glowing red.

    3. chris

      Yeah, I have a hard time sympathizing with Biden’s son given how Biden has passed laws making life hard for so many addicts, debtors, and students. It would be a kind of cosmic justice if Hunter received the same kind of punishment that Biden feels is appropriate for others.

  8. t

    The mouthwash study is the first I’ve seen that was looking at people with an active case. Everything else I’ve seen has been prevention (usually for healthcare workers.)

    Toward the end the refer to studies on the virus thwarting effects of CPC and peroxide in a jar.

    Just a casual reader, though, a may have misses a lot.

    I did find something that showed essential oils (Listerine, for instance) didn’t cut it.

      1. semper loquitur

        I share those concerns about the nasal and mouth biome being whacked by all these chemicals. I have to gargle daily, but I rinse out with water after I’m done to lessen the blow. Say for the CPC, I gargle for 30 seconds, the recommended time, then I rinse and gargle with water. I’ve been spitting hard too, the fu(king taste of synthetic mint will haunt me to my dying day.

        I’m also looking into supplements for the nose and oral biome. I’d ask my doctor for advice but she told me it’s masks and vaccines. Masking is fine but I’m not getting another mRNA vax without a gun being involved.

        1. britzklieg

          Agreed. I rinse after mouthwash far more vigorously than with the mouthwash itself and, beyond the seriously annoying mint taste, if by accident I swallow even a tiny amount it’s instant sour stomach and heartburn. I’m also with you 100% about another jab. However much the mRNA shots have “helped” it’s pretty obvious by now, at least to me, that they haven’t helped enough, certainly not enough to warrant the zealotry with which our designated health capos and agenda driven politicreeps have declaimed.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    Picasso v Velázquez: Picasso would be the obvious choice for aliens, most of whom would have no shortage of photographs (solidographs?) of human beings in funny clothing.

    No clue why they would pick the Picasso but I do know that if I was on their planet and shopping for souvenirs, I’d pick the weirdest stuff I could find. Alien pictures of aliens? My iPhone would already be full of those.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I think the Velázquez would give an alien with, say, ultraviolet bandwidth vision far more data about how human perception works. I would think the Picasso is far too much of an inside joke for anyone but humans of the twentieth century. Making sense of it would be like figuring out what hand axes were for.

      These would of course have to be some pan-dimensional aliens or some such, because meat can’t make it across interstellar space.

  10. jasmin

    No clue why they would pick the Picasso but I do know that if I was on their planet and shopping for souvenirs, I’d pick the weirdest stuff I could find. Alien pictures of aliens? My iPhone would already be full of those.

  11. Bosko

    That “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” article is a classic, at least for getting the conversation started, and I taught it every semester for years. Students would concede nearly every one of Carr’s claims (while at the same time regarding Carr as a ‘clueless boomer type,’ etc.), and, if the conversation turned to the issue of digital surveillance, they were more and more likely to concede that their phones were parsing their conversations for targeted ads (an idea that students considered ridiculous ten years ago). Every semester a few students would opine that the article was unnecessarily long and meandering, and I would have to tell them that articles in the Atlantic might not be good, but they were at least rigorously edited. The really useful thing that Carr does in that article is steer the article towards ‘technology’ in general, with some of the later passages addressing the idea that the typewriter changed how Nietzsche expressed himself, and Plato’s suggestion that writing itself was a technology that would cause people to become more forgetful. I’m getting out of the education game, but having read a lot of truly dreadful writing from students who are completely uninterested in learning how to write better, I wonder if ChatGPT will actually help some people get their thoughts out on paper somewhat coherently, the same way GPS has helped the ones who aren’t able to read maps or follow written directions.

    1. southern appalachian

      I am older but teach a spin class, exercising on stationary bicycles. I have college students in there, and they would have just been learning to read when that article was published. The kids I know are thoughtful and intelligent and quite concerned, I don’t mean to cast aspersions, but at the same time hard for me to imagine them taking on Aquinas’ Summa. Thoreau I think wrote that a piece needs to be read in the way it was written, and I don’t know I have ever appreciated the Summa without lengthy contemplation. Reminds me of David Jones’ poetry.
      Anyway, In the book Carr eventually wrote he does delve a bit deeper into the neuroscience of how our brains change. My data points are in my observations of the changes in my cohorts. When I started working we did not have the internet, and the impact of continuous access has been fairly remarkable in my opinion. I work in an engineering field, and wow. Our capacity for understanding complex systems has degraded quite a bit. These are very smart people, and they are chasing dopamine.

    2. Acacia

      a few students would opine that the article was unnecessarily long and meandering

      …which rather strongly suggests that they lack the attention span to read it.

  12. Appleseed

    Re:”The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.” I’ve blamed it as yet another side effect of aging. All kinds of heretofore “normal” things have become a struggle: stairs, opening jars, bending over, getting up from the floor during yoga, remembering the name of the person I was just introduced to, holding on to my keys … In my case, I’ve noticed that fiction presents the greatest challenge while history remains an engaging treat. Currently reading Mrs. Blavatsky’s Baboon.”

    1. farmboy

      My unlibrary has gotten much larger and soon I suppose I’ll stop buying books altogether. Speed reading, skimming, headline surfing, call it what you will, is most of my reading and yes it’s necessitated by an inability to concentrate going on five years. Drifting off on an unrelated tangent and finally giving up with a feeling there’s something I need to let roll around and surface is just sop now. Tapping into unconscious paths just seems more rewarding and possible now. And then there are the parts books, they are all online now and better than thumbing through greasing, torn, outdated pages. I just wish the pictures were better, but then there’s youtube, omg! And the weather maps, fire apps, player daps! Happy Harvest!

  13. GramSci

    Re: Deep Reading

    «I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.” • Absolutely true for me. Readers?»

    Ah. Lambert! Is it us who have changed? Or the assigned texts? I, too, long for the days when I could read without donning yellow waders.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ll offer up a data point here. I used to read lots of books years ago but it seems harder to do these days. When the pandemic started with lockdowns, a lot of people said that this would be a great opportunity to catch up on reading and were looking forward to it. A year or two later I myself did not do that much extra reading and a lot of people were saying that as well, even here in comments on NC. So maybe the internet itself is training our minds to deal with only information in “packets” as reading text too long on a screen can be hard for the eyes.

      1. southern appalachian

        I think it was always hard, Rev Kev. And we did it, because that’s all there was.

        1. Bosko

          Yes, the problem with this assertion–at least in the article at hand–is that people have been complaining about losing their concentration when reading almost from the moment that most people began to read (steam driven printing press invented in the early 19th c., and thus the creation of a mass reading public in Europe). Dr. Johnson claimed that he had never finished an entire book. Proust turned his mind’s tendency to wander while reading into some of the greatest passages of the Recherche. Whether or not the internet has ruined people’s attention spans (probably true, imho), reading often makes people feel inadequate–they feel they’re missing things they shouldn’t have missed, they’re bored, they’re not fully present when reading.

          1. c_heale

            As someone who reads a lot of books on my computer (mainly from Gutenberg) I don’t think my attention span has shortened at all. What has shortened is my tolerance for bad writing and specious arguments of which there is too much/are too many on the Internet.

    2. nippersdad

      I have been trying to learn the iconography of Tibetan Lamaism for a few months now. It makes me long for the days when my sole worry was why there appeared to be no point to Virginia Woolfs’ To the Lighthouse.

    3. britzklieg

      My biggest attention problem is with any kind of fiction at all, whether movies, novels or even short stories. Really good poetry is a bit easier, which, as Helen Vendler wrote “should just elude comprehension.” I can focus on complicated scientific articles that I only half understand, but the narratives which once sparked my imagination have lost their power. It’s sad and frustrating. I can assign a certain amount of said lost interest to the “nothing new under the sun” “been there, done that” attitude that comes with my advancing age but there’s got to be more to it and whether the dreaded goog or covid is the source I sure hope to be engaged again when my mind can release from the toxicity of our current state. Curiously though, I’ve been writing songs which is good. Unfortunately they are a bit treacly and sentimental but hey, they are my songs, heh. Here are the lyrics of one written for my long lost boyfriend in Finland who I haven’t seen in over a decade and to whom I have imagined singing it, when and if we meet again:


      Imagine my surprise to see you there
      I’ve sung so many times to an empty chair
      But there you are
      Azure eyes and ashen hair
      You moved so far away…
      I don’t mean to stare

      I thought it was too late, wasted too much time
      Believing that I could wait, believing that you could find me
      In the dark
      Your ice eyes gleaming
      Lanterns in the park
      On a cold and smoky evening

      I was blinded by ambition’s lie
      I had no time to care
      that you weren’t there
      Just sang my songs
      And wasted air

      I didn’t want to know
      That being on one’s own
      Is just a kind of blindness
      that you learn when you’re alone

      So don’t go away again
      A next day will begin
      and when it does
      I’ll be calling for you
      Because I’ve fallen for you

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    Of course Google makes us stupid, but The Atlantic is a veritable self-licking ice cream cone of stupidity.

  15. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Figured y’all want to know.

    Just tested positive for the Rona. Pretty positive I caught it in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

    Symptoms are runny nose, clogged nostrils that mimic a cold.

    I caught it one other time on Xmas Eve 2021 and my only symptom was loss of smell so it keeps hitting my nose area. Fuck me im gonna miss the smell of roses 🌹

    Stay Safe, Y’all.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Lambert and others in the commentariat have put together a great set on resources on COVID mitigation.

      > my only symptom was loss of smell so it keeps hitting my nose area.

      Well yes, it’s those epithelial cells in your nose … right?! The express elevator to your brain and elsewhere in your nasopharyngeal tract. If you’re not gonna mask everywhere, then find a good nasal spray – the latest roundup from this family blog is here.

  16. Pat

    Concentration. It isn’t just Google. It is television, popular music, video games, movies. And advertising. Frankly advertising was the real leader on this. Small bites of information in a loud repetitive manner. And as the audience got trained it was all so much faster. Think Mr. Rogers versus Sesame Street.
    All of our brains have consciously and subconsciously been taught that information comes in small bites.
    I can still get immersed but it is les frequent as I have gotten older. Which is a good thing as missing your public transport or the stop can be a real pain.

    But I weep for young people…

  17. griffen

    If we are going to have our Super Bowls, our mens football division I NCAA Championships in crowded stadiums, then why can’t we also have our KISS Farewell tour (version X). I think these Farewell tours end when someone finally croaks on the last note, cynically thinking out loud of course. Doesn’t shock at all that much I guess.

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