2:00PM Water Cooler 9/5/2023

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Patient readers, I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day. At present, this Water Cooler is a bit light; Mercury being retrograde, both my computers have been having issues. Having purchased a keyboard for the laptop with nonfunctional “f”, “w”, and “r” keys, I put the one with the just-borked screen into the shop — forgetting that the current Water Cooler template was on it. So I had to reconstruct a good deal, hopefully forgetting nothing. More soon. –lambert

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Common Chiffchaff (Common), Dorchester–Frome Whitfield, Dorset, England, United Kingdom. I searched on “sweet summer bird” and this is what I got.

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“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

“Judge dismisses 14th Amendment lawsuit against Trump, rules plaintiffs lack standing” [Palm Beach Post]. “In her swift dismissal of the case, Judge Robin Rosenberg, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, did not determine the 14th Amendment’s applicability in Trump’s case. Instead, Rosenberg ruled that the plaintiffs, Boynton Beach attorney Lawrence Caplan and two others, lacked “standing” to bring the challenge.” • Indeed, the cases bought by individuals are frivolous. Baude and Paulsen argue that it’s state-level election officials who can “disqualify” Trump from the ballot, based on his putative involvement in a January 6 insurrection. When one of those officials does that, they’ll be challenged in court, and no doubt the case will wend its way to the Supremes (one of the reasons for the assault on Clarence Thomas, no doubt, not that he doesn’t richly deserve it).

“Trump reps call push to disqualify him under 14th Amendment ‘absurd'” [Axios]. “Trump sent out fund-raising emails Sunday on potential litigation over the 14th Amendment that railed against “traitorous ‘Republicans'” who may be looking into potential cases as he stares down four criminal indictments, per NBC News…. [The Trump campaign-allied MAGA Inc. super PAC] pointed to an Obama-appointed Florida judge’s dismissal last week of a challenge to Trump’s candidacy under the 14th Amendment.” • Disingenuous, as we see above.

“States look to see if 14th Amendment can be used to disqualify Trump — but it has risks” [Axios]. “Advocacy group Free Speech For People, sent letters to election officials in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and New Mexico on Wednesday, asking them to use their authority to exclude Trump from the ballots…. Special counsel Jack Smith didn’t charge Trump with insurrection or rebellion in the election fraud case. But the provision doesn’t indicate a need for a criminal indictment or conviction.” But insurrection is a crime. If Smith didn’t charge Trump with it, that’s prima facie evidence Trump didn’t commit it. More: “[Sheralynn] Ifill, who was recently named the inaugural chair of the 14th Amendment Center for Law & Democracy at Howard Law School, told Axios she has “no doubt” that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can be applied to Trump. ‘I am convinced that Section 3 was designed to protect our democracy against precisely the threat that the former President constitutes to our republic,’ she said.” No doubt. Democrats started framing the riot of January 6 as “insurrection” instantly. Somehow, they confused this:

with this:

“Is Trump blocked from the 2024 ballot? The Constitution could keep him out of the running” [Arizona Republic]. “NBC News did a story recently describing how secretaries of state throughout the country are trying to figure out how to deal with such challenges. Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes figured prominently in that story, saying in part, ‘We have to have a final certification of eligible candidates (for the primary ballot) by Dec. 14 for Arizona’s presidential preference election. And because this will ultimately end up in court, we are taking this very seriously…. Right now, rulings by the Arizona Supreme Court indicate Trump can’t be excluded from the ballot here. But that ruling may not be the final word. Or as Fontes said in an interview with The Gaggle, the politics podcast of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, ‘Can the Arizona Supreme Court be overturned? If somebody brings a lawsuit? Well, any law can be overturned in a judicial action. Now, I’m not inviting someone to sue me, although it probably will end up happening.'” • Fontes is a Democrat, as it happens.

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“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), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

“A Trump-Biden rematch may be on the horizon in 2024, whether voters like it or not” [Associated Press]. “The end of Labor Day weekend would typically mark the start of a furious sprint to the Iowa caucuses as candidates battle for their party’s presidential nomination. But as the 2024 campaign comes into greater focus, the usual frenzy is yielding to a sense of inevitability.” A vote for — or, rather, a determination of the conventional wisdom — stability in 2024, not volatility. But [checks clock] election day is 427 days away. So, really? In any case, my vote is for volatility. Something’s gotta give.

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“Trump’s status as an anti-hero is making him unstoppable” [Financial Times]. “Far from working against him, Trump’s mugshot became instantly iconic; “next-level”, as Elon Musk put it on X, formerly Twitter. Trump himself even took to Musk’s platform for the first time since he was banned in January 2021 to share the picture, along with a link to his website where supporters could make donations. His campaign said that it had made more than $9.4mn since the mugshot was released, including $864,000 from selling 24,000 coffee mugs printed with the image (geddit?) and $1.7mn from T-shirts. Many worry that all his legal woes are turning Trump into a ‘martyr’, but I’m not sure that quite captures it. It would imply, apart from anything else, that Trump is being persecuted for some kind of strongly held beliefs or principles. But he is in possession of neither — apart from the belief in himself. No, Trump is no feeble martyr. He is something altogether more “based” — to borrow the internet slang-word for someone who is respected for paying no regard to political correctness or even basic morality. Trump is the ultimate American anti-hero. An anti-hero, a word normally associated with fictional characters, is someone who plays the central role in a story despite possessing none of the virtues associated with a traditional heroic lead character. In a 2022 paper, a pair of researchers described the anti-hero as ‘a bewitching, unrepentant, amoral outsider who breaks old rules and creates new ones while leaving chaos in his wake’. They also argued that Trump’s popularity was ‘foretold by decades of pop-cultural obsession with, and adulation for, the anti-hero’. One can think of Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, Walter White in Breaking Bad, or Michael Corleone in The Godfather as examples of the huge cultural popularity of the anti-hero in the run-up to Trump.” • Or Omar in The Wire? Then again, I think of the poor, Black Atlanta citizens cheering Trump’s motorcade as it passed by them heading toward Fulton County Jail. I’m not sure the “anti-hero” trope applies to them. “They’re putting him in jail, so he’s one of us!”, more likely.

“Not Just ‘Re-Truths’: Trump Reportedly Autographs Printouts Of Flattering Tweets And Op-Eds And Sends Them Back To Authors” [Forbes]. • That makes him smart!

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“Biographer says it wouldn’t be ‘total shock’ if Biden drops out of 2024 race” [Guardian]. “Franklin Foer, whose book The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future is published this week, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that ‘it doesn’t take Bob Woodward to understand that Joe Biden is old’, referring the Watergate reporter who, like Biden, is 80. ‘I’m not a gerontologist, and I can’t predict how the next couple years will age Joe Biden,’ Foer added. Asked if Biden could drop out of his re-election bid, Foer said: ‘It would be a surprise to me, but it wouldn’t be a total surprise to me.’ … In the book, Foer writes that Biden’s ‘advanced years were a hindrance, depriving him of the energy to cast a robust public presence or the ability to easily conjure a name. … It was striking that he took so few morning meetings or presided over so few public events before 10am. His public persona reflected physical decline and time’s dulling of mental faculties that no pill or exercise regime can resist.” • “Energy in the executive” isn’t necessarily good. I mean, I don’t want Biden to wake up at 8:00am, full of p*ss and vinegar, and press the button.

“Can Reverse Coattails Save the Democrats in 2024?” [Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect]. “But barring some kind of health emergency, this is not going to happen. Biden will be the candidate. And so Democrats have no choice but to maximize enthusiasm for Biden while compensating for his weaknesses in other ways.” • This, albeit caveated, is a vote for seeing 2024 as stable. I’m not so sure.

“Most Pro-Labor President in History? Joe Biden’s Not There Yet” [The Nation]. ” Joe Biden is more outspoken than any recent president when it comes to supporting organized labor, and he has a record that attests to his sincerity.” Right! Look at the railroad unions! Oh, wait…. More: “By any measure, Biden’s labor record at this point is better than that of any recent Democratic or Republican presidents…. If you’re looking for a measure of a “most pro-union president,” you won’t find a better one than a dramatic increase in union membership. FDR nailed it. And Ike did quite well. Biden, by comparison, has not come close. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall union membership rate fell from a dismal 10.3 percent, when Biden took office in 2021, to an even more dismal 10.1 percent in 2022…. That does not mean, however, that Biden should give up on claiming the “most-pro-union president” title. Quite the opposite. What he should do is fight for the title. The 2024 election can and should be a referendum on labor rights.” • Dream on. Biden can’t. The Democrat base hates the working class; see Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal! That’s why Biden’s reforms are limited to swapping new regulators into the regulatory state. Not bad, but not nearly good enough.

“Democratic elites struggle to get voters as excited about Biden as they are” [Guardian]. The deck: “When party elites look at President Joe Biden, they see the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Even Democrat elites aren’t that stupid. “A quirk of the 2024 presidential cycle is the chasm that’s emerged between the party establishment and rank-and-file voters. For Democrats, more than half don’t want to see Biden run again, an April NBC News poll found.” • To be fair to Democrat elites, they’ve had a pretty good track record of getting their base to buy into any number of delusions, including “vax and relax,” “it’s just like the flu,” and that’s before we get into domestic or geo-politcs. So maybe they can bridge the chasm. For the next 427 days. Not easy. Dangerous, too. Suppose Biden doesn’t just slip a cog, but blows a gasket. Who would burst the bubble? The list of Presidents with real and concealed medical issues isn’t short (Wilson, Kennedy, Reagan).

“Joe Biden’s age poses a big issue he can’t get around” [Los Angeles Times]. “Politically, the basic problem for Biden is that, while Americans don’t necessarily know a lot about the finer points of public policy or the arcana of the legislative process, they do know what an oldster, already well-past life expectancy, looks like when age starts to take its toll. The Democrats are betting that even if Americans think Biden is physically unfit for the presidency, he can beat Donald Trump because Trump is characterologically unfit. The bet might pay off, but it strikes me as a wildly irresponsible gamble.” • I don’t think Democrat elites believe that Biden is FDR. What they know is that Harris isn’t even Biden. Buttigeig isn’t even Biden. Newsome isn’t even Biden. Dark horse Pritzker isn’t even Biden. It’s as if — reaching deep for the metaphor, here — the Red Sox were going to replace the aging out Carl Yastrzemski, even as a designated hitter, with a player from Pawtucket. Na ga happen. “Events, dear boy, events,” but I’m sure every Democrat grandee knows the field well, and and they’re not really “betting” on Biden; they think he’s the best and only play.

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Obama Legacy

Great material from Carlos Mucha (“Beowulf”). Sorry about the width and the length, but Twitter really isn’t suitable for, well, blogging:


And then came election 2010….

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

“Identity politics is a game the left can’t win” [Fredrik deBoer, Boston Globe]. “Most people want to come together across difference for the good of all, rather than to be divided into smaller and smaller slices based on identity categories they don’t control. Over the past several years, American progressives have begun to reinstitute a pernicious form of segregation. Sometimes this segregation is literal, as when they form those “affinity groups” at school or work, where people are separated out into groups of Black or Hispanic or Asian or gay or trans or disabled or other. This segregation (which is the only honest term for it) is meant to make the members of these groups comfortable. But the very concept is inimical to solidarity, the most basic means and end of left politics. Solidarity requires that we see common humanity, that we recognize shared struggle, that we look at the suffering of another and imagine ourselves in their position and are thus moved to work for better for them. However noble the intent of intersectional politics may be, by fixating relentlessly on the need to stress difference, those who practice this are undermining the capacity for the only tool that might relieve those very oppressions they decry: people power, the formation of a mass movement. As the American sociologist and left activist Todd Gitlin once wrote, ‘if there is no people, only peoples, there is no left.'” • But every single one of those “smaller and smaller slices” has an NGO backing it, and in many cases, a squillionaire backing the NGO (meaning that the so-called “hierarchy of suffering” is delusional; the real hierarchy is, well, the almighty dollar).

“Is the umbrella term ‘Asian American’ even accurate anymore?” [NBC News]. • It never was. It’s telling that NBC raises the question with an identity category that has relatively little political clout.

“America’s Surprising Partisan Divide on Life Expectancy” [Politico]. “The truth of life expectancy in America is that places with comparable profiles — similar advantages and similar problems — have widely different average life outcomes depending on what part of the country they belong to.” • With a handy chart. And nine categories is hardly a “partisan divide” (assuming “divide” to be binary):

And from the authors, a handy map:

Many forms of “american gentry,” then!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

And not just Covid:

“Airborne transmission of human-isolated avian H3N8 influenza virus between ferrets” (abstract only) [Cell]. “H3N8 viruses are widespread in chicken flocks; however, the zoonotic features of H3N8 viruses are poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that H3N8 viruses were able to infect and replicate efficiently in organotypic normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells and lung epithelial (Calu-3) cells. Human isolates of H3N8 virus were more virulent and caused severe pathology in mice and ferrets, relative to chicken isolates. Importantly, H3N8 virus isolated from a patient with severe pneumonia was transmissible between ferrets through respiratory droplets; it had acquired human-receptor-binding preference and amino acid substitution PB2-E627K necessary for airborne transmission. Human populations, even when vaccinated against human H3N2 virus, appear immunologically naive to emerging mammalian-adapted H3N8 AIVs and could be vulnerable to infection at epidemic or pandemic proportion.” • Although…. “Droplets”? What, again?


“SARS-CoV-2 Eris variant spreads faster and dodges immunity” [News Medical Life Sciences]. “Overall, the study findings showed that EG.5.1 had a similar proliferative ability to XBB.1.5 in naïve wild-type hamsters; however, its transmissibility was somewhat greater. Furthermore, the viral tropism of the EG.5.1 variant differed from the viral tropism of the XBB.1.5 variant following transmission via air since the EG.5.1 variant was found in specimens obtained from the nasal and pulmonary tissues of infected hamsters. EG.5.1 immune evasiveness was modestly but considerably greater than the XBB.1.5 variant and the XBB.1.9.2 variant. Thus, the altered antigenicity and greater transmissibility of the EG.5.1 variant may drive its higher predominance compared to the XBB.1.5 variant among humans.”

“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.

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, September 5:

Back to a steady upward climb.

Regional data:

The Midwest now upward as well. I’m not sure what the downward swoop was all about. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 2:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). No BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

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 26:

Lambert here: I changed this ER chart to a Covid-only chart broken down by age. Note the highlighting.

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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of September 2:

Leveling out? I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least:

At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are.


From Walgreens, September 4:

-2.7% Big drop, probably due to Labor Day travel, 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, traveler’s data, August 14:

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


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, August 30:

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: 1,174,149 – 1,173,655 = 494 (494 * 365 = 180,310 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).

Lambert here: Big because over a weekend.

Excess Deaths

The Economist, September 3:

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

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured goods in the US decreased by 2.1% from the previous month to $579.4 million in July of 2023, less than market expectations of a 2.5 percent fall and after four consecutive months of increases. It compared with an upwardly revised 2.3 percent rise in June. Demand for transportation equipment, also down following four consecutive monthly increases, drove the decrease.”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the United States increased to 51.2 in August 2023, the highest since February, and pointing to the first growth in the logistics sector in four months.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 5 at 1:51 PM ET. Mr. Market had a good Labor Day?

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Guillotine Watch

“Who Are the Names in Jeffrey Epstein’s Calendar?” [Wall Street Journal]. “A multipart investigation by The Wall Street Journal has revealed prominent people who met multiple times with Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein had contacts with an array of powerful people long after he was a registered sex offender. He had pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. He was arrested again in 2019 on sex-trafficking charges, and died that year in jail awaiting trial.” • Woody Allen (“dozens of dinners”), Ehud Barak (“dozens of times”), Thomas Barrack (“a series of meetings”), Leon Black (“more than 100 meetings”), Leon Botstein (“two dozen meetings”), William Burns (“three meetings”), Sergey Brin, Noam Chomsky (“several meetings”), Vitaly Churkin (“eight meetings”), Joshua Cooper Ramo (“more than a dozen meetings”), Glenn Dubin and Eva Andersson-Dubin, Mary Erdoes (“two trips”), Bill Gates (“one meeting”), Reid Hoffman (“a weekend”), Barnaby Marsh (“two dozen times”), Thomas Pritzker (“several events”), Nicholas Ribis (“several times”), Bill Richardson, Ariane de Rothschild (“more than a dozen”), Terje Rød-Larsen (“dozens of times”), Kathryn Ruemmler (“dozens of meetings”), Lawrence Summers (“more than a dozen”), Peter Thiel (“several”), Mortimer Zuckerman (“more than a dozen times”). • My takeaway is not that Epstein was quite a networker — although he obviously was — but that his obvious predelictions/predations were not that out of band for, or important to, the class he networked within (it’s on those grounds that I excuse Chomsky, who I regard as naive, and who is not in the “dozens” category in any case. Unlike, say, Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel under President Barack Obama).

News of the Wired

“Reading for Pleasure Helps Kids’ Brain Development” [Scientific American]. “[U]ntil sufficient measures are taken to reduce inequality and improve outcomes, our new study, published in Psychological Medicine, shows one low-cost activity that may at least counteract some of the negative effects of poverty on the brain: reading for pleasure… Being wealthy has also been linked with having more grey matter (tissue in the outer layers of the brain) in the frontal and temporal regions (situated just behind the ears) of the brain. And we know that these areas support the development of cognitive skills. The association between wealth and cognition is greatest in the most economically disadvantaged families. Among children from lower income families, small differences in income are associated with relatively large differences in [surface area. Among children from higher income families, similar income increments are associated with smaller differences in surface area.” • Hmm.

“Behind the scenes: DPReview moves to a new studio” [DP Preview]. “If you’ve followed the trajectory of DPReview over the past few months, you know that 2023 has been a wild ride. First, Amazon decided to close the site. Then, we operated in a surreal limbo world for a time, publishing past our announced closure date as though nothing had happened. (Yes, that was weird for us too.) Finally, on June 20th, Amazon announced the site’s sale to Gear Patrol. Not only did DPReview find a way to live on, but we couldn’t have been more excited to join a company that so closely aligns with our values and mission. So, here we are.” • Crapification avoided?!

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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 Tom:

Tom writes: “Here’s ghostly thing that appears in the forest seemingly from one day to the next. Very odd looking. I guess it’s a plant but it almost looks like weird fungus. Web search by image came up with something that looks like it called monotropastrum humile but Ask Jimbo! (Wikipedia) said that’s Asian, not American. Perhaps Monotropa uniflora? Idk. If that’s what it is then (according to one Ask Jimbo! page and contradicted on another) it is a myco-heterotrophy which is a plant fungus symbiosis. What do others know about it?

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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. Mark Gisleson

    My sympathies on the unavailable template, malfunctioning peripherals and general [family blog] blogging pains. My next several booster hits will be dedicated to you in keyboarding solidarity (yours from the frontlines, mine from the rear guard, ret.).

    1. Jason Boxman

      True story. My AirPods are still unresolved. Apple support threw in the towel, no solution imminent, and I’ve asked on every Apple forum across the Internet to no avail. When tech breaks, it breaks. My wireless router and/or cable modem drops as well and requires multiple power cycles; Why? Who knows.

  2. Joe Well

    Re: “Asian American”

    It’s 2023 already. The term is AAPI. I’ll keep you updated when 2024’s term comes out. /s

    1. Anon

      Adding to the hilarity of identification, and someone seeing that AAPI wasn’t enough, it is now:


      That’s Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian

      Wouldn’t Hawaii fall under the Pacific Islander umbrella anyway?

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          and i am, in reality, a sentient porcupine…who learned the english language from pilfering books from that Amfortas Guy….and listening to him ramble on from beneath the floor.

    2. Sardonia

      Someone told me the new PC term is “Chinese, Hawaiian Islander, Native Kiwis”. But when I look at the acronym for that, I don’t think it’s gonna go over very well….

  3. mrsyk

    Sports desk, US Open tennis players “fall by the wayside” as COVID-19 surges.

    This year’s US Open tennis tournament in New York City has been plagued by what is being euphemistically referred to as a “mysterious” illness in what, in fact, has all the hallmarks of a COVID-19 superspreader event. A number of top players have had to pull out of the tournament or have struggled to play due to COVID-like symptoms, including respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments.

    ‘Tis a mystery….

    1. IM Doc

      As the Ancient Greeks believed, Nemesis was a very cruel entity. She had a way of exposing hypocrisy for all to see. Her job was to clean up the mess left behind from those the gods had inflicted with Hubris.

      That may have been millenia ago, and we have so much more technology, but some things never change.

      Remember last year, and all the goings-on about a certain tennis player who was not vaccinated? How many of the above people involved in the superspreader event have been vaccinated? I would dare guess the vast vast majority since there was a mandate, and they made such a deal about that one individual.

      Again, when we cannot even face simple facts like the fact that these vaccines are non-sterilizing…….all kinds of potential for blowback.

      1. flora

        An aside: Agatha Christie wrote a novel in her much later years titled “Nemesis.” In her novel, Nemesis was not cruel but was a sort of justice served on those who transgressed the given boundary of decent society, whatever those social boundaries were that you might imagine. In Christie’s novel the boundary was of course murder.

          1. flora

            and adding, and going on much to long about the novel: Miss Marple never thought any others around her were also gathered in the interests of Nemesis, but they were, many others were so gathered, unbeknownst to her.

    2. Michael King

      Thanks for the WSWS link. John McEnroe’s announcement that he tested positive for Covid was released a week ago (Aug. 29th). It stated that he would not be working on the US Open broadcasts this year. Today, he was back on duty commentating on the Djokovic-Fritz quarter final. He didn’t look very well.

    1. flora

      Wow. Thanks for this info. I saw these once and wondered if they were some kind of flower, like a surprise lily, or just what. Surprise lily, swamp orchid, odd jack-in-the-pulpit? Now I know. / :)

        1. lyman alpha blob

          They are all over New England – saw some in Maine recently too. Looks like a fungus, but is actually one of the rare plants that lacks chlorophyll.

    2. Raymond Sim

      I’ve seen them in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range, but pinkish to dark red in color. I believe they’re vascular plants which parasitize fungi?

  4. Raymond Sim

    I guess Something Awful will have many aspects. An example of something I didn’t see coming would be:

    “Long Covid as a functional somatic system disorder caused by abnormally precise prior expectations during Bayesian perceptual processing: A new hypothesis and implications for pandemic response.”

    If you read that and thought “Sounds like something they’d say in Alberta.” you were right. I don’t think this is an academically serious paper, but I shudder to think what its functional intent is. I fear the “masks don’t work” Cochrane fraud (to call a spade a spade) was merely a trial balloon.

    Sorry for lack of a link, my phone won’t let me.

    1. skippy

      “Bayesian perceptual processing” … look Maaw … no frontal lobes … wheeee~~~~

      You know since its had just a sterling record in economics … endless mirth …

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sounds like something they’d say in Alberta

      Long COVID as a functional somatic symptom disorder caused by abnormally precise prior expectations during Bayesian perceptual processing: A new hypothesis and implications for pandemic response SAGE Open Medicine


      we review the phenomenon of mass sociogenic (functional) illness, and the concept of nocebo effects, and suggest that by analogy, Long-COVID is compatible with these descriptions.

      Shorter: “It’s all in their heads,” or, more precisely, “it’s all in their heads because of public health messaging.”

      One might urge that the NIH implicitly endorsed this approach when they spent a billion bucks on a survey, without searching for biomarkers.

      1. flora

        re: “It’s all in their head.” Isn’t that what the Med estab said about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome before they realized there was something physically occuring there? “It’s all in their head.”

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          I felt Hurricane Hillary, 2000 miles away.
          like it was in my room with me, like flipping a switch.
          given, i hurt all the damned time…but weather is different.
          i was fine…ready to do my doins…and then, as if a switch was flipped…all my bones are like they’re in vices.
          very different from my normal pain…qualitatively, as well as quantitatively.
          and yet…my local barometric pressure never moved…still under the high pressure heat dome we’ve had since mid-may.
          so there must be another mechanism…i suspect perturbations in the gravity field.
          regardless…medical science dismisses my 35 years of very painful experience with this phenomena as “all in my head”.

          1. The Rev Kev

            It wasn’t all that long ago that people who said that they saw ball lightning were called deluded and were suffering hallucinations by the proper scientific authorities.

            1. LifelongLib

              My favorite scientific hallucination is rogue waves. Ignore those shattered portholes 90 feet above the waterline and the dented-in main deck. Our theory says waves don’t get that big.

            2. flora

              And once upon a time people suffering from Lime Disease were regarded as hypochondriacs who only imagined their symptoms.

            3. rowlf

              My father (B-52) and a good friend (Convair 580) on separate occasions experienced ball lightning inside an aircraft cabin at altitude. Both airplanes logged lightning strike damage.

              Proper scientific authorities can go climb a tree or work to develop a vaccine for it.

      2. some guy

        I think a better word for “nocebo” would be “negacebo” or “anticebo”.

        By the way, let us hope that everyone involved in writing this article gets long covid and spends the rest of their hopefully-long lives being told it is all in their heads.

    3. Raymond Sim

      “Functional disorder” effectively means “Your head is so screwed up it’s causing physical symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy! That’s the ticket!”

      I joke, but this is some really dark stuff. They’re asserting that public knowledge about disease is the real problem. The “implications for pandemic response” then become self-evident.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I remember the reports that in Soviet Russia dissidents were being treated as psychological cases.

        They’re asserting that public knowledge about **the thing** is the real problem.

        We are administered by shallow celebrities who think the plebs will respond with the same panic they have.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        1: CBT is expensive….if i could have afforded it…and found a therapst within 50 miles that wasn;t gonna say a bunch of shit about letting Jesus into my heart…i wouldve done that…long ago.
        2.well before such esoterica as Lyme, or Chronic Pain Syndrome, or Fibro…there was ordinary old Pain…pain that never goes away….
        my baseline on the smiley face to frowning face scale(!!!!) is about a 5.
        thats normal.
        their scale is meaningless, at best…if not maliciously obfuscatory.

        1. Raymond Sim

          I think CBT is pretty cheap if the patient is too sick to participate. I’m guessing that’s the appeal.

    1. Roxan

      Plant looks like Indian Pipe to me, too. I only encountered them in a ‘virgin’ forest in upstate NY, years ago. I never saw a forest like that! It’s supposed to be psychedelic.

  5. mrsyk

    Had to visit the local “urgent care” yesterday. Me, fresh Aura N95, Front desk dude, no mask. Nurse, (super nice dude, but) no mask. OTH, the physician on duty was sporting a “Darth Vader”. Sigh. “You do you” I guess.

    1. Darla

      Sidebar to that: signed up for new healthplan today. Papers only, never do anything like that online which could be hacked.

      “Person responsible for payment”, wrote in BlueShield, my insurer.

      Medical clerk at doctor’s office hesitated when typing that.

      “Corporations are persons according to the U.S. Supreme Court”

      “Oh, O.K.” She typed it in.

      1. mrsyk

        I have no idea what it’s called. Looks like fitted out k95 with a round, plastic case filter over the mouth area, of which the filter can be replaced.
        Edit, What Rev says. Thanks.

  6. Hana M

    The plantidote is Monotopa uniflora or Indian Pipe and it is a plant not a fungus. It is native to North America but there are related plants found in Asia and South America. It lacks chlorophyll and gets its nutrients from tree roots via intermediary myccorhizal fungi, so it’s a parasite of a parasite. Sounds a bit like a Congressperson, but more interesting.

  7. JBird4049

    >>>But every single one of those “smaller and smaller slices” has an NGO backing it, and in many cases, a squillionaire backing the NGO

    Isn’t this the plan? Divide and exploit?

    1. flora

      Seems to be working. Next time I hear a Dem say they want to “bring us together”… same goes for the GOP. / ;)

    2. mrsyk

      And rule. Could you imagine trying to govern a united citizenship? It’s like you would have address their needs or something.

      1. jsn

        It’s the Oligarchs seeding particular paths with green.

        It’s hard to blame the emotional orphans, spawn of the PMC, for looking for greener pastures.

        But the green isn’t from chlorophyll, for the last few decades it’s been from the Fed giving it to the greedy to steer the world, both meanings of steer.

    3. Polar Socialist

      a squillionaire backing the NGO

      My understanding of US tax system is that you the people are actually backing the NGO. The squillionaire merely selected it to receive the money that would otherwise have gone to taxes and be used to build schools, roads and homeless shelters*.

      * I know, I know. Taxes don’t fund things, sure, but I won’t let MMT to prevent me from making a point here.

      1. eg

        Well, they got to keep money that otherwise would have been collected as tax (and thus destroyed), leaving them with more control/input over aggregate demand than is ideal. The taxes are to reduce private consumption in order to free up real resources for public purpose while maintaining price stability.

    4. Amfortas the Hippie

      did you think those folks cared at all about the various tokens of BIPOC,LBGTQRE they trotted out on stage with them?
      worship the Narrative, or be cast into outer darkness.
      (ie: we wont talk to you anymore)
      its just silly, now.

  8. Carolinian

    Re DP Review–doesn’t everyone (except me) take pictures with their phones now? The need for a camera review site, at least at the consumer level, seems to have diminished greatly. I’ve heard that Canon is even dumping their optical slr line although I do now have a Canon mirrorless which I like very much for the video mode. It can use the older lenses.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > everyone (except me)

      That’s a market in the millions (though not the billions). I love my camera and I take photographs with it. I use my phone, and I take pictures with it, generally to document things.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I use my phone as a sketchpad.

        Cameras? I use those for composing photos, and trust me, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

      2. Carolinian

        The iPhone is famous for having a good camera and that may be a major selling point. But I’m a camera fan and have owned many. Personally I say good riddance to messy expensive film.

    2. Bugs

      Film cameras are having a thing, but it’s really not discussed much except among us weirdos and it’s now very expensive. I’m happy to have not abandoned the little Leica I treated myself to with my first decent paycheck but I did stupidly sell my Contax SLR with a half dozen dearly missed lenses. Unfortunately, a roll of slides costs about 25€ to process these days, but they look fantastic scanned and printed using contemporary methods. I just wish Kodachrome were still available and could be developed. It’s truly the most beautiful color film, imho. I have a stock of expired Agfachrome in the freezer but once it’s gone, that’s all over too.

        1. Glen

          It’s still for sale. I’ve got rolls in the freezer for shooting, and rolls in the fridge I need to send off to Dwayne’s Photo to get developed. (I never developed my film at home – I should check into that.)

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        NC Commentariat is the best, hands down.
        thank you.

        when i was in college first time, some 37 years ago, i ran with a bunch of lesbian photography majors…hilarity ensued….and at least 2 of them ended up being arty B&W photographers of some repute.
        especially that bald chick.
        She of the Nagel Neck.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I just wish Kodachrome were still available

        FujiChrome fan here.

        However, I have to say that only with digital photography could I really practice photography in color. There’s no way I’m doing color processing at home, and with digital I can control the entire workflow, starting in the evening after a session. Film is wonderful, but I’ve learned much more, much faster, with digital. It’s like the difference between a typewriter and a word processor.

    3. Glen

      Cameras do have performance advantages over phones, but those are getting much less as the cameras in phones get better. And phones have the “most people have one in hand” advantage.

      But fear not, the higher end camera market is thriving in a country that has a thriving middle class – China. Sales of high end cameras are actually up after having a bit of a slump.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Cameras do have performance advantages over phones, but those are getting much less as the cameras in phones get better

        I don’t know if the cameras are getting better, or the software is getting better. And there’s a limit to how much I want to lose control to software.

        For me, phones are awkward to hold and awkward to shoot with. A phone is a slab of glass; one doesn’t really shoot with it.

        1. Late Introvert

          I don’t trust the software at all. Except for the lens corrections, that stuff is priceless. A game changer for smaller lenses in the m4/3 format.

          Cameras and lenses are actually better in 2023, but it takes some work and some money. It’s not a consumer space for camera makers now, like it was in the 70s.

          It is a golden age for digital cameras if you can navigate the space and pay the price. I can’t do it personally but can through my job. The main thing is the quality of the sensors, that has jumped by leaps and bounds, but the lenses, the physical glass in a tube thing, have also kept improving. Not to say the older lenses have lost any value.

          1. Glen

            It’s my understanding that lens design had to change to adapt to the digital sensors. Film was relatively insensitive to the angle at which the photon “struck” the film emulsion, whereas the sensors used in digital cameras were more akin to very small buckets that captured photons, and photons at more extreme angles would not end up in the bucket. [Rim shot sound here]

  9. flora

    re: “Democrats started framing the riot of January 6 as “insurrection” instantly. Somehow, they confused this:”

    That comparison made me laugh. In the top pic there are neatly spaced touristy looking people in fuzzy knit winter caps and winter jackets standing peaceful in the red velvet rope line. In the bottom pic ol’ Lenin is hailed by mobs of men in military uniforms carrying carbines and wearing crossed bandoliers of rifle cartridges.

    Yeah, I can see how one could confuse the two. Thank goodness Nancy’s daughter was on hand to film the desperadoes “kidnapping” the Speaker’s stand. / ;)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In the bottom pic ol’ Lenin is hailed by mobs of men in military uniforms carrying carbines and wearing crossed bandoliers of rifle cartridges.

      The Bolsheviks organized the Czar’s machine gun unit in St. Petersburg. Now that’s organizing!

      > Thank goodness Nancy’s daughter was on hand to film

      An extremely lucky coincidence, to be sure.

      1. ambrit

        Now the trick will be to see which “side” the National Guard ends up on. This does not assume only two significant ‘actors’ involved. Splinter groups will also play outsized roles.
        There will have to be a ‘coalition’ that is not run by a PMC faction.
        As I said on another thread; “sans culottes” and a modern “Third Estate.”
        How will PMCs react to becoming declasse?

    2. Ranger Rick

      I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read the line “[Sheralynn] Ifill, who was recently named the inaugural chair of the 14th Amendment Center for Law & Democracy at Howard Law School, told Axios she has “no doubt” that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can be applied to Trump.” The flexarians were prepared for this, having been looking for anything that didn’t have to go through due process. Early on in the Trump presidency there were attempts to disqualify him as insane under the 25th Amendment, and when that failed, the 14th became the fallback.

      1. flora

        Gwen Ifill, a Clinton booster, was Sheralynn’s cousin. So no surprise. (I did like Gwen Ifill’s early reporting in the 1990s very much, but then she seemed to go all in on a pol/party in a way that overly influenced her reporting, imo. No longer a 4th Estate reporter as much as a power establishment promoter. I hesitate to use the term 2nd estate about US power establishment since its original definition was with regard to the Aristocracy. But, 2nd estate in the US power establishment fits, if not by exact definition then by political power meaning.)

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > both “sides” of the media do it

            Absolutely crystal clear that they do, just on different topics and personalities (different asset classes surrounding the “submissive void,” as it were). People like Carlson assume outsize importance only because everything else is so degraded, newsrooms have shrunken to nothing, virality is all, etc.

      2. The Rev Kev

        She used words like ‘our democracy’ and ‘our republic.’ I think that she mean by ‘our’ is the sort of democracy that she and here friends are a part of and is not what most American have to live with. In her democracy, the Clinton Foundation would be a force for good.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > She used words like ‘our democracy’ and ‘our republic.’

          As I’ve been muttering about for some time. In the time way you must always ask who is meant by “we,” one must also asked who owns “ours.”

  10. petal

    Another pretty large biotech reagent supply company just sent out an email letting us know it is raising prices in October. Usually they make any price adjustments in January, but are doing it earlier this year. “…we have decided to adjust our pricing structure to better align with our operational expenses.”

    1. flora

      Thanks for this. I’ve heard rumors of other supplier prices being raised this October. I’ve also heard MC and Visa want to raise their merchant swipe fees this October. October is the start of the 4th quarter, but that seems like an odd time to raise prices. Maybe the economy is slightly less good than we’re being told by the MSM?

      1. nippersmom

        Both our regular mechanic and the place we buy our tires offer a discount for paying with cash or check instead of a card. I wonder if more merchants will adopt that practice if the card companies keep raising their transaction fees?

        1. Fiery Hunt

          It’s not just Visa and MC that take a bite…

          The credit card processors that provide the machines that read the credit cards take a HUGE bite too. Got hit with a 8% bite of transaction totals last month.

          Most of my clients pay by check. Never had a bad one yet.

        2. Curtis

          Split the cash difference. i.e. If 8% swipe fee, request a 4% discount for cash, thus savings of 4% for both purchaser and seller.

          For self employed, a 15% or 20% discount is expected for cash.

          You save that and they save paying almost 50% of that in federal and state income taxes, plus immediate cash flow without fuss of bank credits etc.

          When paying for meal with credit cards, always write “cash” on the tip line and leave that on the table. No one’s business how much you leave. The IRS assumes 8% of everything that a waiter or waitress sells is a tip and thus withholds accordingly.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you for the kind words, but not enough by the standards of what needs to be said!

        For example, I had to leave an entire and well-documented rant about Biden’s coughing at Eliot-Hine Junior High on the cutting room floor on Friday because it was a media critique and news was more important. Had I done so, I would have looked like a genius when Dr. Jill Biden came down with her second case of Covid a day or two later. Oh well, I can turn it into a post….

  11. Art_DogCT

    Re: Plantidote: Monotropa uniflora it is! It does resemble fungi in that it has no chlorophyll, has an obligate partner with fungi which together derive nutrients from the roots of certain trees:

    “It taps into a mutual relationship that the roots of trees like oak and beech have with certain kinds of fungi (in the Russulaceae family.) The trees and fungi help each other out and they live together in harmony.

    “Ghost pipe attaches itself to the fungi and gets indirect nutrition from the tree that way. From what we can tell, the interloper doesn’t seem to cause problems for the tree or fungi.” https://unrulygardening.com/ghost-pipe-faqs/

    It’s threatened in some states, abundant in others. In northwest CT it has been heavily collected.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          in other news:
          despite my best efforts, apparently Windows found a way to hack this laptop, and give me an update(like the best thang evah!!!)….this time, its the scroll function on my wireless mouse…page and a half, instead of incrementally.
          so, down buttin instead,lol.
          first world problems, but still.
          this is my damned machine, not theirs.
          last unwanted update that got through the Zone Alarm free firewall(hint) ended up making streaming video(netflix, et al.) audio gradually get out of sinc with the video…like japanese monster movies with english over dubs.
          when it gets obnoxious, one must go through a 12 step process to reset the drivers, and then restart.
          second to last such unwanted update, and billfickinggates decided i didnt really need that headphone jack…bluetooth connection to the bar stereo still works…hence, this is the bar laptop,lol.
          (and bar stereo has zero inputs besides the cd player which just stopped working after 3 months…and bluetooth, which is how we use it)
          giant PITA(in First World)

          1. ambrit

            Check the innards of the CD player. These hybrid beasties use plain old thick rubber bands, (more like ‘O’ rings,) to transmit the motive power from the electric motors to the platen.

    1. flora

      Thank you. That is a lovely and informative description. I’ve only ever seen the flower once in my decades of tramping the local woods. Never forgotten it.

  12. Lee

    Re: Pete Stark, may he rest in peace.

    Kudos to him, not only for actions noted in the tweet, but also for taking on my bank and in doing so saved me from an unlawful foreclosure. After I applied for a mortgage modification under the damp squib that was Obama’s HAMP program, the bank for no accountable reason was failing to credit or acknowledge the full and timely monthly payments I continued to make while I waited for the processing of the application. The whole episode was quite Kafkaesque and unnerving. But as noted, Pete Stark came to the rescue.

  13. Will

    You may recall the Air France flight in which blood and diarrhea had not been properly cleaned. Well, that may have been part of a new trend as a recent Air Canada flight featured vomit covered seats. The end of the article also mentions an emergency landing of a recent Delta flight due to a biohazard issue. Seems a passenger had “diarrhea all the way through the plane.”

    Why the recent run of uncontrollable discharge mid-flight? ‘Tis a mystery.


  14. Tom Doak

    The Forbes note about Trump writing something on the printout of an article and sending it to the author are 100% true — I have a sample from +/- 15 years ago. I have a couple of clients who do the same thing on a regular basis, and in their case, it’s not narcissism at all. It’s a very fast and effective way to thank someone for positive feedback.

  15. lyman alpha blob

    If you thought the state of Georgia only twisted the RICO statutes into a pretzel to go after the likes of Trump, think again.

    I can’t get a link to post but thought it important enough to mention that GA just indicted 61 people under the RICO statutes for protesting against Cop City near Atlanta. Those indicted are “militant anarchists” according to GA Republican AG quoted in the AP article I just read.

    This is what happens when the laws can mean whatever some two-bit prosecutor with an axe to grind says they mean. They don’t stop with going after the “bad guys” like Trump – they’ll come after you too.

    Maybe someone else can post a link to the story?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wait, protestors can be charged with the RICO act now? Good thing that they did not have that act during the Vietnam war protests.

        I’d be using the RICO act to go after state attorneys across different States trying to eliminate the main political rival of a sitting president but that is just me.

        1. JBird4049

          I have been whining about how much the law has been distorted, including the Bill of Rights, but using RICO on people for protesting is just whacked. Freedom of speech especially with the protections against legal prosecution is just about the only Amendment that has real teeth. I am thinking that the Supreme Court is going to get involved. I would hope that the Nine are going to follow precedent, but who knows what they will rule if they actually accept the appeal.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        for those of Us nearer to the bottom of the pile, Law has always been…malleable…in the hands it was laid in.
        4th amendment doesnt really matter when kops are kicking in your door.
        or rifling through your van/home.
        unless you have the jack to sue, afterwards.
        if yer nearer to the bottom of the pile…in our utterly classless civilisation…you can do nothing.
        been there.
        my experiences, alone, give the lie to a free society, ruled by laws, not men…let alone any consideration of a shining beacon of freedom.
        and practically all of my experiences in this vein were 35 years ago.
        its much worse, now…near as i can tell.
        i get away with much by being an old toothless hillbilly, these days.
        long hair is current among the country music crowd, these days…in an utterly strange reversal, from my point of view….

    1. Carolinian

      Well, they were militants. Remember the self proclaimed “day of rage” when they trashed some cars and buildings downtown? The rest were arrested after a monkeywrench attack on the training center that allegedly including destroying some construction equipment. Whether all those arrested were involved not for me to say.

      But you’re right. Dems think only they can pull the lawfare gambit and are apt to be shocked when they encounter the same from Repubs. There’s still plenty of those in Georgia.

  16. Willow

    > The Democrats are betting that even if Americans think Biden is physically unfit for the presidency, he can beat Donald Trump because Trump is characterologically unfit.

    Same logic can be used to justify her (TINA) nomination for another tilt at the presidency..

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      Yes! I hope Herself wades in again!
      sends the entire ideology into the dustbin….even more stale than it was the last time.
      and is that mold?!
      please, let Hillary Run!
      (Willow…its really me.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      gerund or present participle: gaslighting

      Manipulate (someone) using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.

      eg. ‘the main stream media is gaslighting people by pretending Covid does not exist’

  17. Matthew G. Saroff

    The issue with Pete Stark and Obama was never one of Obama not getting it.

    Obama went with complexity because it provided the opportunity for the malefactors of the FIRE sector, who came from the same sorts of schools that Obama came from, to make a **familyblog** tonne of money, and Obama believes that these folks are society’s saviors, and not just pampered parasites.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Could not agree more. How much of ones mental energy do those sorts of narcissistic delusions require I wonder?

      1. Matthew G. Saroff

        Not much. It is closely relative to the Upton Sinclair aphorism, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    1. JBird4049

      My word. Tucker Carlson’s next show is going to going to get some heat, or maybe, it will just get obliterated from the internet.

      The thing is that I do not care about some politician’s small peccadillos or even some of the worst ones. Everyone has a right to privacy, who hasn’t done wrong? There are cameras everywhere and the media and security agencies spying on the little people while protecting the powerful and connected; I think that I should not know about Barack Obama’s personal life although if he really was and is in the closet and hiding the use of crack, that would be something that should have been know in a congressional or presidential campaign. Not that he had done something, but that he was hiding this and being actively abetting by the media to do so. It not the actions, the sins, or the crimes, if any, but the coverup that would be the problem.

  18. digi_owl

    Completely besides the point, but that painting of Lenin got me thinking about how little mens fashion has changed in over a century.

  19. Andy Pyle

    One of the clinkers in the mix in the Ineligibility question is that pesky Electoral College. No one is actually voting for Trump, they are voting for a slate of pledged Electors, none of whom will be banned from holding office.

    How do you keep Trump off the ballot if he is not actually on it?

    1. scott s.

      Hawaii law is a bit vague on the issue. First is a requirement “the appropriate official of those parties shall file a sworn application with the chief election officer … A statement that each candidate is legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution; and A statement that the candidates are the duly chosen candidates of both the state and the national party, giving the time, place, and manner of the selection”. Unstated, but I guess for D/R the “appropriate official” is DNC/RNC chair, or chairman of the national convention.

      Then goes on “Each applicant and the candidates named, shall be notified in writing of the applicant’s or candidate’s eligibility or disqualification for placement on the ballot” Eligibility/disqualification as used here seems to refer to a separate provision for petition candidates from unrecognized parties.

      Then “If the applicant, or any other party, individual, or group with a candidate on the presidential ballot, objects to the finding of eligibility or disqualification the person may file a request in writing with the chief election officer for a hearing on the question.”

      So I assume this is a possible vehicle to remove Trump. I doubt we have ever held such a hearing and assume this would be breaking new ground with associated court appeals.

      Also, “In presidential elections, the names of the candidates for president and vice president shall be used on the ballot in lieu of the names of the presidential electors”. So I take this to mean that if the candidate is deemed disqualified, the corresponding Electors are also disqualified.

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