2:00PM Water Cooler 10/30/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Masked Finch, Edith Falls Rd at -14.1871,132.0824, Roper Gulf, Northern Territory, Australia. For Halloween, no doubt.

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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

Biden Administration

Reagan better on Israel than Biden:

To be fair, maybe Biden’s forgotten how to pick up a phone?

“White House unveils wide-ranging action to mitigate AI risks” [Reuters]. “NetChoice, a national trade association that includes major tech platforms, described the executive order as an ‘AI Red Tape Wishlist,’ that will end up “stifling new companies and competitors from entering the marketplace and significantly expanding the power of the federal government over American innovation.'” All good, i true, but I doubt very much that it is. More: “As part of the order, the Commerce Department will ‘develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking’ for labeling items that are generated by AI, to make sure government communications are clear, the White House said in a release.” • Amazing that AI, which is far more pernicious than Bitcoin — bullshit generation at scale, founded on the outright theft of intellectual property, and a recipe for crapifying the discourse in near-real time — is being normalized with incredible speed. I guess Bitcoin impacted the financial sector, so it’s important.

Our Famously Free Press


Time for the Countdown Clock!

Only seven more days until it’s a full year to election day!

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“Trump holds lead in Iowa poll while Haley ties DeSantis for second” [Politico]. “The poll also found that 65 percent of likely caucusgoers believe Trump can win a general election against President Joe Biden despite the legal challenges the former president faces — while 32 percent said it would be nearly impossible for him to beat Biden.”

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Vivek the goat sacrificer:

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“Minnesota congressman announces primary challenge to Biden, saying Democrats must focus on future” [Los Angeles Times]. Oddly, I can’t search any New Hampshire coverage at all; not the Union-Leader, not the Concord Monitor. “The Minnesota congressman finally entered the race himself Friday, announcing outside the New Hampshire State House: ‘It is time for the torch to be passed to a new generation of American leaders.’… Phillips said in his speech that he’d try to fix the economy [horserace], and warned about high prices [horserace] and ‘the chaos at our border’ [horserace] — issues that could be vulnerabilities for Biden in what could be a rematch against former President Trump. But Terry Shumaker, a former DNC member from New Hampshire and longtime Biden supporter, said[:] ‘I’m not aware of what his message is,’ he said. ‘To do well in the New Hampshire primary, you have to have a message.”” • Watch “no message” become the talking point.

“My Invitation to America” (email) [Dean Phillips, Phillips for President (CI)]. For some reason, I can only find the speech in its entirety in a few YouTube clips. Here is the message that DNC goon Shumaker was unable to find, and which the Los Angeles Times did not quote:

But we, America’s exhausted majority, know that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong [“carnage”].

We face a crisis of cooperation and of common sense.

A crisis of community and of individual initiative.

And a problem of participation and priorities.

For today’s America spends more paying our debts of the past than investing in our future.

A majority of our neighbors live paycheck to paycheck, unable to get ahead and save for their dreams.

Life is simply unaffordable.

We fund more for fighting than we do for feeding.

Corporations and the well off – including me – enjoy more favorable tax treatment than working families.

Too many of our children are hungry and our veterans homeless. Anger and violence is rising, as our life expectancy is falling. Gun violence ravages our communities, and we tolerate it.

America has no health care, only sick care that’s more expensive than anywhere else in the world.

We have no mental health system, only a system of greed and corruption.

Chaos at our border and in our cities is growing, while our commitment to countering it is receding.

Prices are too high, healthcare and medicine too expensive, and diseases of despair are claiming our children through addiction and suicide.

We spend billions sending our soldiers to foreign lands and still haven’t fixed the failures in Flint.

And are so busy fighting one another that we have ceased the fight against our greatest challenges.

So come on, America! We are better! So let’s do better. It is time for we [sic], the exhausted majority, to meet this moment!

“The exhausted majority” might strike a chord. It does with me! (Unless “exhaustion” is a subliminal nudge, there’s no mention of Covid at all. A third rail?) Readers?

“Opinion: There may be more to Dean Phillips’ ‘moon shot’ presidential bid than meets the eye” [CNN]. Has a useful potted biography of Phillips. “[W]inning an uncontested early primary might be the boost [Phillips] needs to become a much larger figure in the national conversation [lol]. It’s hard to argue that Biden would have ended up picking Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg for vice president and transportation secretary had they not launched their own ‘long-shot’ presidential runs back in 2019. Not that Phillips is necessarily eyeing a cabinet-level position in a second Biden term. He is still on the ballot for his congressional seat in his home district in Minnesota, although he will likely face a formidable primary challenger. More likely, Phillips is looking to use the opening in New Hampshire to get his name in play for a 2028 presidential run, when Biden will either be at the end of his term-limits or too old to run again.” • “National conversation” is a tell; a deep-dyed Democrat loyalist. This is surely the conventional wisdom. Phillips’ biography is interesting. I don’t see why he’d be running for transportation secretary. He might lose, but my thoroughly unevidenced hot take is that he’s “in it to win it,” having assessed that Biden is a far weaker candidate than he appears, both politically and physically/psychically. (Maybe some clever Democratic strategist played him a video timeline of Biden walking, sitting, standing, talking, folding deckchairs, etc.; juiced up, and not. In fact, I’m surprised there isn’t such a thing runnning around.)

“Joe Biden’s Big New Hampshire Blunder” [Politico]. “By scrapping Iowa, demoting New Hampshire from its first-in-the-nation perch and moving up South Carolina to begin the balloting, President Joe Biden was hoping to preempt a nuisance primary challenge that could embarrass him before the general election. But that may be precisely what he has invited upon himself…. Mixing the enthusiasm of a pre-adolescent gazing up at a T-Rex likeness and the happy warrior joy of his political hero Hubert Humphrey, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) let out back-to-back ‘wows,’ signed his declaration of candidacy and paid the $1,000 to appear on New Hampshire’s presidential ballot. Then he went about preying on New Hampshire’s insecurities with the appetite of a T-Rex. ‘I learned to love my country right here in New Hampshire,; Phillips said, recounting to the photographers, reporters and state officials cramped into the Secretary of State’s capitol office his summers spent at a camp in the White Mountains. (The camp is technically in Maine though along the New Hampshire border, as the Union Leader reported.) He also revealed his inscription on the paperwork: ‘I love New Hampshire.'” • BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!! Cross my heart, no backsies, I wrote the “in it to win it” paragraph before I read this!

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“Pence ends White House campaign after struggling to gain traction. ‘This is not my time,’ he says” [Associated Press]. “Pence’s decision, more than two months before the Iowa caucuses that he had staked his campaign on, saves him from accumulating additional debt, as well as the embarrassment of potentially failing to qualify for the third Republican primary debate, on Nov. 8 in Miami. But his withdrawal is a huge blow for a politician who spent years biding his time as Trump’s most loyal lieutenant, only to be scapegoated during their final days in office when Trump became convinced that Pence somehow had the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election and keep both men in office — which he did not. While Pence averted a constitutional crisis by rejecting the scheme, he drew Trump’s fury, as well as the wrath of many of Trump’s supporters, who still believed his lies about the election and see Pence as a traitor. Among Trump critics, meanwhile, Pence was seen as an enabler who defended the former president at every turn and refused to criticize even Trump’s most indefensible actions. As a result, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research from August found that the majority of U.S. adults, 57%, viewed Pence negatively, with only 28% having a positive view.” • Oof.

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Newsom in China:

That must have gone over big with his hosts. At least Newsom didn’t kick a puppy!

Republican Funhouse

Wait, Johnson’s a liberal Democrat?

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.

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“Andy Kim is making a big bet on breaking New Jersey Democratic politics” [Politico]. • Andy Kim is a CIA Democrat.


“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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Extraordinary mental gyrations!



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Oh for pity’s sake:

Hotez is being careless and stupid, and setting a bad example. WTF?

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N95 electrostatic explainer:

Covid is Airborne

The CBS 60 Minutes program means that airborne is finally getting a lot of play. Remember the Skagit Valley chorus? One of the first cases that showed how aerosol transmission in a “3-C’s” (closed, crowded, close-contact) setting led to super-spreading events. Here it is:

Here is that study. If you spend time in a performance space, like a choir, you may find it useful–

“Reducing bioaerosol emissions and exposures in the performing arts” [Colorado State University]. From 2021: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates maintaining six feet from others to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); however, this is based on expected airborne particles [the study proper says “bio-aerosols“] emitted during regular breathing. Performance artists are more likely to display forced-air breathing (i.e., singing, playing musical instruments or dancing, among other artistic expressions), which is more like sneezing and coughing. While data is lacking, there is developing consensus that infectious aerosolized particles containing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 are partly responsible for global spread. According to one recent study, the transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 may be more than 13 feet (https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200885). Unfortunately, many infected individuals do not realize they are infected; and group activities such as choir, dance, acting, or instrument ensembles increase the risk of spread. Solutions are needed to reduce the risk of viral spread during performances and group practice settings.” Even in 2021, CDC was utterly feckless. Here is the paper.

Airborne resources. Quite a list:

Testing and Tracking

“Detecting Covid surges is getting harder, thanks to a contract dispute” [Politico]. Biobot v. Verily makes Politico (!). “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to replace the firm it has worked with since 2020 to test wastewater for Covid in order to better direct public health resources. But that firm, Massachusetts-based Biobot, has filed a protest, stymieing the transition….. In an interview, CDC Director Mandy Cohen declined to comment on the specifics of the dispute, saying it was a “contracting situation.'” I don’t believe that anybody has actually seen the contract. More: “The CDC has not explained why it decided to change contractors, though its deal with Verily[, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company,] is considerably less expensive. Verily’s contract is for $38 million over five years. Biobot’s most recent contract was for about $31 million over less than a year and a half.” NIH blew a billion dollars on a useless Long Covid study. This money is couch change. More: “Even if Verily is able to begin work soon, some foresee problems related to the continuity of the data. ‘The loss is the loss of historical comparability. It’s like starting from day zero with a new surveillance system,’ said David Larsen, chair of the public health department at Syracuse University and a wastewater surveillance researcher. ‘It’s not ideal to change methods.’ A CDC spokesperson said the issue will be addressed but declined to say how.” • No doubt. Normally, I’d be up in arms about the lack of a proxy for case data, but AFAIAK, Biobot’s business model doesn’t involve monetizing the data, and as I’ve said, it’s a good bet Verily’s does (because otherwise why muscle in with a lowball bid?) Since I think monetizing wastewater data — and no doubt integrating it with location data, search data, etc. — is a dystopian project, I’m with Biobot soon. And I hope they produce the oddly not public contract. Hey, maybe Mandy wants a job in Silicon Valley! She is, after all, a Democrat….

“Biobot Analytics files protest against CDC issuing wastewater surveillance contract to Verily” [WSWS]. “erily’s bid for the contract was accepted outright by the CDC, which will pay the company $38 million over five years. Biobot’s most recent contract with the CDC was for $31 million over less than 18 months, or nearly three-fold higher. The funding provided through various foundations means Verily could easily underbid any other contract proposition. An epidemiologist familiar with these proceedings who asked not to be named remarked, ‘The CDC must be dumping something for a bid that low.'” Hmm. Maybe nuking the historical data is the point? More: “The most important issue at play is the financialization of public health in the US through these private-public enterprises, whereby critical information disease outbreak, the opioid crisis, and the population’s general health indices can be accumulated and monopolized by giant conglomerates like Alphabet. This has significant implications for insurance companies, federal agencies, surveillance of the population, and more.” • No duh. Not to mention the public.

“A lapse in COVID wastewater detection is worrying scientists about distorted data” [Salon]. “‘The biggest issue to me doing wastewater modeling is just its disruption,” [Michael Hoerger, Ph.D., a psychologist at Tulane University] told Salon in a phone interview. ‘People rely on this data.'” Tinfoil hat time: Perhaps the burying disruption of the data, to CDC, is a feature, not a bug. Certainly CDC’s failure to provide a seamless transition would argue in favor of the idea. Then again: “When the CDC similarly transferred contracts in the spring of 2022 from LuminUltra to Biobot, data was unavailable for 150 wastewater sites in 29 states for several weeks.” So CDC has form, and Hanlon’s Razor might apply. More: “Andrew Wang, Ph.D., a health equity researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said he is concerned the switch in contracts may change the sample processing and analyses in a way that prevents Verily’s data from being directly compared with Biobot’s hundreds of sites. The “bumpy” transfer is reducing an already insufficient surveillance system, Wang said.” Meanwhile, CDC’s own tracker is lousy, what a surprise: “Hoerger said he’d like to see the CDC’s wastewater system ramp up the number of testing sites it includes and make its data more readily available. ‘It would have been great if they used their funding to do the sorts of analyses that I’m doing and that others are doing to estimate cases, to make forecasts and to take their raw wastewater data and put it into metrics that people actually care about,’ Hoerger said.”

“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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“SARS-CoV-2 virus found to migrate within neurons and infect the brain” [Pasteur Institute, Medical Xpress]. “For the first time, researchers at the Institut Pasteur and Université Paris Cité have demonstrated, in an animal model, a characteristic common to several SARS-CoV-2 variants: the ability to infect the central nervous system. The study confirms that SARS-CoV-2 is capable of infecting human neurons in vitro and migrating into axons, the nerve cell projections that carry information…. ‘In this study, we demonstrated that infection of the olfactory bulb is common to all variants and not linked to any particular one, nor to any particular clinical manifestation such as anosmia,’ explains Guilherme Dias de Melo, first author of the study and researcher in the Institut Pasteur’s Lyssavirus, Epidemiology and Neuropathology Unit…. Through this study, we have characterized the neurotropism of SARS-CoV-2. For all the variants studied, brain infection via the olfactory bulb seems to be a common feature of SARS-CoV-2,” concludes Hervé Bourhy, last author of the study and head of the Institut Pasteur’s Lyssavirus, Epidemiology and Neuropathology Unit.” • Yikes. Note that the brain infection doesn’t necessarily produce anosmia; but it may, depending on the variant. Does some clever programmer wish to build a screen-scraping “Yankee Candle Review Index™”?

Elite Maleficence

The UK’s Dominic Cummings (!) from 2021 (!!):

I could have missed it, but I don’t recall this getting any play at all.

The Jackpot

I have been thinking along these lines for awhile:


I am more hopeful than this account. Nevertheless, our civilizational response to the pandemic persuades me that something on this scale is going on (though naturally we need a “mechanism,” historically situated, of course).

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, October 30:

Lambert here: Cases leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card!

Regional data:

• “Biobot Analytics files protest against CDC issuing wastewater surveillance contract to Verily” [WSWS] “What emerges from the resumption of Biobot’s analysis on Friday is that the decline in the most recent COVID wave that began in late-June has stalled across every region of the country at high levels of viral transmission [as I’ve been muttering for some time]. In early October, scientist Mike Hoerger, the founding director of Louisiana’s HealthPsych, estimated that by the end of October transmission rates would be upwards of 745,000 cases per day.” • For more on Biobot, see under Testing, supra.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, October 28:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, with FL.1.15.1 and XBB. trailing. No BA.2.86 (although that has showed up in CDC’s airport testing). Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, October 14:

Lambert here: 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, October 21:

Lambert here: Flattening? Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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 October 30:

Hospitalization is leveling out, too. (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. October 21:

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, October 23:

0.7%. Slight increase. (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.)

From Cleveland Clinic, October 28:

Lambert here: Slight increase. I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, October 9:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

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: 1,180,403 – 1,180,376 = 27 (27 * 365 = 9855 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

The Economist, October 27:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’s general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas fell to -19.2 in October of 2023, down from -18.1 in the prior month, and marking the 18th consecutive negative reading to suggest a sustained deterioration in business conditions.”

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* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 23 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 30 at 1:52:19 PM ET.

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! • The goat sacrificers are going to defile the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Rapture Index is down? I hardly had them in the contrarian box!

Class Warfare

“New York Times tech workers to strike over return-to-office rules” [Reuters]. “Tech workers at the New York Times (NYT.N) plan to strike for half a day on Monday, accusing the publisher of attempting to unilaterally force them back to the office….The New York Times issued its return-to-office policy before the tech guild was recognized early last year, when workers voted 404-88 to join the NewsGuild of New York, making TTG the largest tech union in the U.S. with bargaining rights. Tech workers at the union have been in contract talks with the company for more than a year. ‘The Times is now not only refusing to recognize our rights to bargain on return-to-office but is now going a step further and using it as a tactic to intimidate us,’ said Kathy Zhang, unit chair for the guild that includes software engineers and data analysts.”

“The Secretive Industry Devouring the U.S. Economy” [The Atlantic]. “The publicly traded company is disappearing. In 1996, about 8,000 firms were listed in the U.S. stock market. Since then, the national economy has grown by nearly $20 trillion. The population has increased by 70 million people. And yet, today, the number of American public companies stands at fewer than 4,000. How can that be? One answer is that the private-equity industry is devouring them. … In 2000, private-equity firms managed about 4 percent of total U.S. corporate equity. By 2021, that number was closer to 20 percent. In other words, private equity has been growing nearly five times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole…. Most careful academic studies find that although private-equity funds slightly outperformed the stock market on average prior to the early 2000s, they no longer do so. When you take into account their high fees, they appear to be a worse investment than a simple index fund.” • As Yves has been saying for some time.

News of the Wired

“How deep is the brain? The shallow brain hypothesis” [Nature]. “Deep learning and predictive coding architectures commonly assume that inference in neural networks is hierarchical. However, largely neglected in deep learning and predictive coding architectures is the neurobiological evidence that all hierarchical cortical areas, higher or lower, project to and receive signals directly from subcortical areas. Given these neuroanatomical facts, today’s dominance of cortico-centric, hierarchical architectures in deep learning and predictive coding networks is highly questionable; such architectures are likely to be missing essential computational principles the brain uses. In this Perspective, we present the shallow brain hypothesis: hierarchical cortical processing is integrated with a massively parallel process to which subcortical areas substantially contribute. This shallow architecture exploits the computational capacity of cortical microcircuits and thalamo-cortical loops that are not included in typical hierarchical deep learning and predictive coding networks. We argue that the shallow brain architecture provides several critical benefits over deep hierarchical structures and a more complete depiction of how mammalian brains achieve fast and flexible computational capabilities.” • So, ML is bullshit? What a surprise! And what a vindication of Conway’s Law! The perfessors and Silicon Valley bros used the org chart for their architecture!

“Assyrian Women of Letters”” [Archeology]. ” As was done with much Assyrian correspondence, one or both of Zizizi’s parents would have taken a stone cylinder that hung from a cord around their neck and rolled it across the envelope’s surface, creating a ribbonlike impression or seal. Her mother’s seal depicts tall deerlike figures with long horns standing upright, each one leaning on a staff. This seal was unique to Ishtar-bashti and functioned like an ID, signaling to Zizizi that the letter was indeed from her mother…. Nearly 4,000 years later, archaeologists discovered the angry missive during excavations at the site of the ancient city in central Turkey, now known as Kültepe, a low, grassy plain crowned by a tall mound. More than 23,000 cuneiform tablets have been uncovered at the site. Of these, epigrapher and Assyriologist Cécile Michel of the French National Center for Scientific Research has curated and interpreted more than 300 that bear letters written by or to women who belonged to a highly literate Assyrian merchant class.” • Stone cylinders do have the advantage that they are far less easy to hack…

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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 Carla:

Carla writes: “Beautyberry just starting to strut its stuff.”

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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. The Rev Kev

      What is the difference between Gav and old Joe? Gav gets to have personal face to face meetings with Xi while old Joe is still on hold.

  1. steppenwolf fetchit

    I don’t think Speaker Johnson is a neocon. Some of his positions may look neocon, but he comes to them from a fundamentalist Christianist starting point.

    I will offer a visual analogy showing how two rather different things may look very similar in some respects but are still quite different and probably reached a point of partial “convergence” through very different evolutionary pathways.

    Here is a bunch of images of the American bird called meadowlark.

    Here is a bunch of images of the African bird called yellow-throated longclaw.

    Don’t they look similar? But they are not as similar as they look. Certainly not as related as they look.

    1. Feral Finster

      “I don’t think Speaker Johnson is a neocon. Some of his positions may look neocon, but he comes to them from a fundamentalist Christianist starting point.”

      As long as they get to the same place, the neocons don’t care.

    2. pjay

      Pretty much all of his positions on foreign policy “look neocon,” because they are. Aggressive, unipolar full spectrum dominance in the world, because we are the Chosen Nation. As FF says above, it doesn’t matter to the neocons how he gets there.

      By the way, on Israel and Iran (and therefore, by extension, the Middle East as a whole now), Trump is the biggest, baddest neocon of all. And if any MAGAs were unclear about that, then they weren’t paying attention the first time. Here he was Saturday. Sorry if this has been posted already, but it’s worth listening to for anyone who still thinks Trump is any kind of answer:


      You could insert numerous clips from RFK Jr. here as well – and he’s actually more “MAGA” on the vaccines than Trump was. No wonder some Trumpers are worried. I tell you who is *not* worried, though: AIPAC.

    1. Carla

      The berries are gorgeous. The rest of the year, the shrub is not a showpiece. After a hard pruning in the spring, it grows FAST so needs quite a bit of room. The photo was taken in early to mid-Sept. Birds like the berries…

      1. nippersdad

        Beat me to it. The natives are a lot larger than the oriental ones, hence their popularity in the trade, but they can be cut back hard every year and don’t seem to notice it at all. I just discovered the Alba a few years ago, and they are really pretty for a white garden, or for a pop in shaded areas.

    2. marieann

      Grows in Zone 7-11….so way south of me…now I know why it’s not in my garden.

      For northern dwellers,this year I grew rhubarb, strawberries, red currants, raspberries and Saskatoon berries

        1. marieann

          My husband prefers rhubarb/apple pie, he likes the strawberries in a pie by themselves.

          The discussion a couple of weeks ago about a garden saving money….I find I get more savings growing the fruit, especially the raspberries…they are always expensive in the store

      1. Carla

        The beautyberry shrub pictured in the plantidote today thrives in Zone 5, as do many others! I’ve seen recipes for beautyberry preserves, but think I prefer to leave those little beauties for the birds.

  2. antidlc

    HHS Complaint on HICPAC

    HICPAC is the subject of a Gross Misconduct complaint filed with the HHS Inspector General against HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, CDC Director Mandy Cohen, and HICPAC Federal Officer Alexander Kallen


    The membership composition of CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Advisory Committee (HICPAC) currently stands in violation of the Federal Advisory Committees Act (FACA) and the Committee’s own Charter and has been in violation for a number of years.

    The Committee has also failed under FACA and its own Charter to be properly transparent to the public.

    As such, HICPAC is not legally constituted. Therefore, its recommendations have no legal standing and no place in the CDC’s process of updating the Agency’s guidance.

    The HHS Secretary, CDC Director and HICPAC Federal Officer are responsible for ensuring the organizations under their authority comply with the law. It is a gross dereliction of duty to allow such organizations to conduct business year after year in clear violation of the law.

    A copy of the filed complaint is at the link.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, this is excellent. Point 2 of the filing:

      The Committee fails to have a “fairly balanced membership.” Since aerosols are a significant mode of transmission, guidance on such transmission is an important function of HICPAC. In order to reasonably provide such guidance, the Committee must have in its membership a significant number of experts in fields such as aerosol science, industrial hygiene, UV and HEPA filtration, ventilation engineering, respiratory protection and occupational health and safety. Yet, the Committee does not have even one such member.

      As I wrote on August 14:

      Under FACA, HICPAC’s “Membership Balance Plan” Must Be “Fairly Balanced” in “Points of View” But Is Not

      Here is the GSA guidance on what a “Membership Balance Plan” must look like:

      Section 5(b)(2) of the FACA requires “”…the membership of the advisory committee to be fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the advisory committee.”” The corresponding FACA regulations reiterate this requirement at 41 CFR § 102-3.30(c), and, for discretionary committees being established, renewed, or reestablished, require agencies to provide a description of their plan to attain fairly balanced membership during the charter consultation process with GSA (41 CFR § 102- 3.60(b)(3)). The document created through this process is the Membership Balance Plan

      CDC’s HICPAC does, in fact, have a “Membership Balance Plan.” Unfortunately, it’s not accessible to the general public. GSA elaborates on points of view:

      The FACA regulations offer guidance in achieving a balanced Federal advisory committee membership, which include considering: (iii)The types of specific perspectives required, such as those of consumers, technical experts, the public at-large, academia, business, or other sectors; (iv) The need to obtain divergent points of view on the issues before the Federal advisory committee…

      It’s plain as day that HICPAC’s membership is not “divergent” as FACA understands the term; every one of its members is affiliated either with a hospital or a medical care facility. Conflicts aside, the controlling assumption can only be that hospital staff have nothing to learn about infection control from anyone outside their milieu. Surely such mental and ideological inbreeding is exactly what an open and transparent process seeks to prevent? (“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” as they say.) CDC has an entire institute, NIOSH, with expertise in “respirators and masks.” Are we seriously to believe that NIOSH has nothing to contribute to HICPAC on masking? Or ventilation? Or training? Even if NIOSH doesn’t sit on the committee, why are they not invited experts? Why on earth does HICPAC’s draft “Isolation Precautions Guideline Workgroup” deliverable (PDF), which is driving masking policy and the infection model for HICPAC, not even mention NIOSH?

      Infection Control Today comments:

      HICPAC’s composition was a concern for many commentators. As stressed by M.K. Fletcher, MSPH, BS, the committee should include “aerosol scientists and ventilation experts, respirator protection experts, and industrial hygienists.”

      Others made the same point before I did. But I don’t think anybody stomped HICPAC as thoroughly as I did.

      The next HICPAC meeting is IIRC November 2. Readers may wish to peruse this, this, this, and this to get a sense of this malignant entity and its lethal doings.

      1. watermelonpunch

        every one of its members is affiliated either with a hospital or a medical care facility

        that shouldn’t be allowed

        Also where is the patient representation?!!

  3. i just don't like the gravy

    When humans are gone in a couple hundred years, what kinds of plants do you think will have survived into the new hyper-CO2 norm?

    1. nippersdad

      In my area it is going to be kudzu and privets. The privets will give the kudzu a run for its’ money, but anything that doesn’t kill the kudzu only makes it stronger.

      Bonus points: if we have a nuclear exchange, the kudzu will have an eerie green glow about it that will be very pretty.

    2. steppenwolf fetchit

      Why would humans be necessarily gone? Civilization and its civilizationised humans might be gone, but will the Alpaca herders around Lake Titicaca be gone? Will the Pigmies of the Ituri Rain Forest be gone?

      If they are still here in 200 years, then the future of humanity will be in their strong hands. Naturally, Civilizationized Man won’t include them in its definition of humans.

  4. Feral Finster

    It should have been obvious that the fix was in for the Speakership when the Team R mainstream voted for Johnson.

    This should be a vital lesson to anyone outside the Overton Window, left or right. Note how, when faced with adverse outcomes, the neocons don’t throw up their hands and say “I guess we just lost , fair and square!”

    They regroup and right away go back to doing what they do best, which is hatching plots and secret deals in dark corners; putting people in important positions where they can’t be voted out; launching whisper campaigns. They’re happy to resort to cheating or outright blackmail, if that gets them what they want. At worst, they retreat to their boltholes in their preferred thinktanks and universities, only to write glib position papers and then emerge once the coast is clear.

    They don’t settle for comforting lies about how their leaders felt really really bad about the latest war or security theater before they went along. They do not content themselves with moral victories but focus on results and they don’t stop pushing for their wars until the bombs start falling.

    Then they tell themselves that “we’re in too deep to stop now”. They aren’t troubled by logical inconsistencies, sunk cost fallacies, raging hypocrisies or moral monstrosities. Not in the least.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If Putin starts prevailing in the Ukraine, will Speaker Mike Johnson push for US “boots on the ground” there in order to “stand with the Ukraine”? He may support Israel attacking Iran directly, but the Israeli plan has always been to have the US attack Iran directly on their behalf.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that link. I’ll make sure to watch it later on this morning. This should be good.

        2. steppenwolf fetchit

          Why does Mearsheimer care about China as a ” peer competitor”? Does he think America should stay the World Hegemon in a “realist” way?

          I myself think that America should think about trying to survive in a China-ruled Forcey-FreeTrade world.

      1. flora

        re: “He may support Israel attacking Iran directly, but the Israeli plan has always been to have the US attack Iran directly on their behalf.”

        I may start calling Isr Lady MacBeth. Kinda fits the situation. / ;)

        1. The Rev Kev

          A coupla years ago, John Kerry related how the Saudis approached him and said that if the US invaded Iran, that the Saudis would pay for the whole thing. Not even the Saudis could pay for that sort of grift machine but now Iran and Saudis have sorted their differences and the Biden White House is really sour about that as the “Iran threat” is how the US justifies all their bases there. Oh well, I guess that now they can claim that all those bases there are to defend Israel with.

  5. Francine Friedman

    Further dividing America:
    The Jewish couple up the hill from us have planted “Kidnapped by Hamas” posters on their fence and some other sign with Hebrew writing on it.

    The danger of this IMHO is that instead of being just our neighbors, they will become “The Jews down the block.”

    This is societal and cultural suicide for them and us.

    1. ambrit

      I spent my teen years in a generally Jewish, middle class neighbourhood. We goyim learned to distinguish between “Jews” and “Zionists.” The two groups do not fully overlap. That became obvious after a year or two of observation.
      Don’t give up hope of staying “good neighbours” with the goyim around you.
      What is dangerous about this is that it has begun to exhibit a fully tribal political nature.
      Good luck with the situation.

      1. ashley

        i am jewish and antizionist and have been antizionist since i was a around 10 years old despite being fed zionist propaganda from 2 years old till 13. i refused my free “birthright” “vacation” to israel because its just a propaganda scheme to get the jewish diaspora to support their genocide. yeah i was a weird teenager…

        zionists are to judaism what evangelical christians are to christianity is the easiest (although imprecise, since jews dont evangelize) way to put it.* theyre batshit insane, they believe in jewish supremacy, and they see arabs and even non ashkenazi jews as lesser than. non zionist jews are traitors in their eyes.

        zionists make the world more dangerous for jews worldwide *by design* to encourage “aaliyah” aka settler colonialism of jewish diaspora to israel, and if you go against them you are ostracized or worse. at one point my family almost excommunicated me over my support for palestine. the holidays will be interesting this year… i will have to keep my mouth shut or never be welcome again :(

        *and they dont even know theyre being used like pawns on a chessboard by the evangelical christians to bring upon the “rapture”. its sick.

        some zionist history for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haavara_Agreement

  6. nippersdad

    That Ramaswamy dude sounds pretty feral, but luckily he will never make it past South Carolina unless he does what Nimarata Randhawa (Nikki Haley) did and changes his name to something one can pronounce quickly with a southern drawl. I think we could manage “Swami” pretty well, but I doubt that is the image he is going for.

    I am having problems just reading his name; if he were a write in you could just forget it. Vivek Ganapathy Ramaswamy just doesn’t have that Archie Bunker approved sound to it, and he lacks Haley’s curves.

    Harsh and shallow, but true.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      That didn’t work for “Bobby” Jindal, who was crushed by the Trump juggernaut*. But Vinny Ramaswamy does have a nice ring to it, even if he winds up beneath the wheels eventually too.

      *One of the few English words with an Indian etymology!

        1. Bugs

          Hail Jagganath!

          We went there and it was an awesome (in the traditional sense of the word) experience! Highly recommended. Once in a lifetime pilgrimage.

      1. nippersdad

        I remember when I was a kid my Grandmother had one of those Encyclopedia Britannica sets from around 1901 that she would give us at the kitchen table when she had better things to do than mind our antics; they had a picture of a juggernaut in it and talked about what they did with them. “Look what they do in India!” I said, “What an interesting place!”

        “Throwing someone under the bus” or under a train just rings so differently. They really did know how to do it correctly; there is a real art to those things that never could have come out of Detroit.

      2. Jeff V

        According to Google, there are over 900 words in the OED with Indian etymology.

        And Ketchup is Chinese, apparently.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If Vivek believes that Israel is ‘a Divine gift, gifted to a Divine nation, charged with a Divine purpose’, then is he sure that he is running for President of the right country? So what does that make fellow Americans for Vivek. Dog meat?

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    I forgot to say that I added orts and scraps; the CBS 60 Minutes on aerosol transmission seems to have shaken a lot loose. Much more in the mainstream these days; the King Canutes in CDC/WHO/Infection Control should start feeling the rising waters lap at their feet…

    1. JBird4049

      The question that should be asked is why was 60 Minutes allowed to do that segment. It has been an adjunct to the establishment for some years. Paramount Global(!) would likely have blocked it if the program’s management did not. I mean that some at CBS must have really pushed it, and corporate let it be aired despite it being a really controversial subject important to powerful people.

      I have no special sources, and I could be wrong, but I really doubt it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I mean that some at CBS must have really pushed it, and corporate let it be aired despite it being a really controversial subject important to powerful people.

        Either that, or there’s enough pressure from below/people getting sick on high for the press, who do have some relative autornomy, to start opening up the story; I would expect a “storied” venue like 60 minutes to be able to do that. The political class can only keep the lid on an ongoing pandemic so long. (Note, however, that IIRC — I haven’t seen the whole segment — they didn’t go after CDC or WHO, so like I said: relative autonomy.) I don’t think there are billions to ne made in the ventilation business, unless somebody figures out how to offer “air as a service.”

  8. nippersdad

    I gotta give props to my man Dean. That was a masterpiece of sheep dogging all the demographics Biden is fast losing without actually having the record to back it up. Sometimes it pays to have been invisible, and to have the cash on hand to buy Sanders’ mailing list.

    I particularly loved the opening para, where it starts out saying “you are a valued member of team Dean”, and he ends it by “hoping you will sign up to Team Dean”. Like, If I was already on Team Dean, doncha think I would have already signed up for the honor?

    The guy is just a miraculous collation of vapid Democratic stump speech talking points. I wonder how much brass he shelled out to have that thing focus grouped into a coherent speech? I also wonder if this would be a bad time for someone to ask how many of those AIPAC Benjamins he is possessed of right about now.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      ?> vapid Democratic stump speech talking points

      “Exhausted majority” is a Democrat talking point? Link, please. (I’m not saying I like or trust the dude, but that message is new, IMNSHO.) I imagine the next phase will be for the DNC to call him a “populist.”

      1. marym

        I’m sorry I don’t have links but for most of the trump years team blue replies to tweets aghast at something trump did/said claimed to be “exhausted.” As if monitoring trump was this big burden they were bearing.

      2. nippersdad

        Interesting question: I think this is where he got it…


        The bubble chart is also interesting, but I think Pew was riffing off of things like Schlafly’s “Moral Majority” and Nixon’s “Silent Majority”. Finally, though they have long had the voting majority, the Democratic party can now emote some kind of affinity with the masses of disgusted citizenry that the duopoly have wrought.

        A new combination of words, but it has the focus grouped “hope and change” (hope for and change from….what? Exhaustion from the status quo?) dynamic that is endemic to Democratic stump politics. There is really nothing to see there coming from a guy who is in the “Problem Solvers Caucus” and has a proven track record of creating more problems than he solves.

        Words are wind, and he is in hopes that no one will follow Hillary’s advice to do their own research.

  9. petal

    Checked my mailbox today and there was another mailer from AFP Action. On one side it says “YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP BIDEN” with Biden underlined, then below that “BY LETTING GO OF TRUMP” with Trump in large font. Then it says “It’s time to choose a new leader, someone who can defeat Joe Biden and return this nation to prosperity. Our future depends on your vote!” with “your” underlined. Other side says on the top(orange ribbon background with black font) “Are you willing to risk it all on Trump?” with “risk it” highlighted. Then “Trump on the ballot means: Democrats will be energized, Critical swing states won’t vote for Trump, Independents will be turned OFF”. Other half says “4 more years of Biden means: Record high inflation and cost of living, Gas prices at an All-Time High(all time high underlined), Failed Leadership”. There’s a big Trump face, and to the side/behind is a Biden face.

    1. ambrit

      Already got several in person canvassing visits for local races. As in the candidate himself or herself.

      Already got a “generic” election mailer.
      Some outfit from Atlanta, the ‘Centre For Voter Information’ says that it wants to encourage us to go and vote. On the Voting Report Card it shows my voted not voted record going back a few years. Then compares that to “Redacted” neighbours down the street.
      It next gives information on voting dates, times, and mail in rules.
      Finishes with a call to arms as in “go thou out and vote!”
      Quite a puzzle. A “get out the vote” drive without a sponsoring Party mentioned anywhere in the missive. It doesn’t even claim to be a “Good Government” operation. It says it is a 501(c) (4) nonprofit.

      1. petal

        If the packet of potential genealogy information from the Owasco historian that arrived today loses my interest tonight, I’ll go on a mission and see what I can find about this Center for Voting Information thing.

      2. petal

        The founder is Page Gardner.
        InfluenceWatch.org has a page about her. It says she worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, and in 2008 commissioned robocalls targeting African Americans and her group had ties to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. John Podesta was on the board of her org. Right swamp creature, she is, ambrit.
        Hi to Phyl for me. Winter flipped on up here yesterday.
        The Owasco packet ended up being about an uncle and cousins of my person in question. Negative data is still data, right? sigh. Time for some Outlander to escape the world.

  10. k

    “The exhausted majority” might strike a chord. It does with me! (Unless “exhaustion” is a subliminal nudge, there’s no mention of Covid at all. A third rail?) Readers?”

    “Sleeping Giant?”

    I like Isoroku Yamamoto’s sleeping giant quote – it’s empowering.

  11. nippersdad

    Silly philosophy question: If the NYT tech staff was going out on strike because they don’t want to go into the office, would anyone notice?

    Risking my Twentieth Century roots showing, how would that work? You paint up a sign, walk in circles around your mailbox and call the Times to send out a reporter? Who takes down notes about the scabs? Is there a Ring camera on a telephone pole across the street? Where would one send the pizzas? Are they having a Wii strike that can be posted online?

    I’m just having a hard time wrapping my mind around a virtual strike, but I feel like Silicon Valley prolly has an app for that by now.

    1. fjallstrom

      The techies knows where the passwords are buried.

      Not that they would do anything bad with them, that would be illegal. But realising the techies are on strike malicious actors might take the opportunity for various attacks on NYT. Or, if the tech structure is sufficiently bad, the techies can just wait for stuff to start falling apart.

      Sure, maybe the tech structure is well set up (but that takes time and money) and well documented (more time and money) and maybe management understands what the techies does well enough to be able to hire scabs (unless management really weren’t that interested). I don’t know that it is poorly set up and maintained. But given how poorly Twitter appeared to have worked, and it was supposed to be a tech company, I wouldn’t bet any money on NYT.

    2. ashley

      and really, what good is a half day strike? how much could possibly be impacted by a mere half day? unless their tech wizardry involves taking down the nyt website nobody is going to notice theyre striking.

  12. cfraenkel

    Re “How deep is the brain”
    Hacker News had an informative thread on this. To paraphrase – its a category error to even try to compare biological neuron based brains with modern neural networks.

    Once upon a time, back in the beginning, the computer people may have been ‘inspired’ by the biological neuron, but no one knew how they worked together to ‘think’. (still don’t – outside of tightly defined cases)

    Since then, CS neural networks and machine learning in general have moved on their own path, building on what works, discarding what doesn’t.

    As one commenter put it, computer science researchers don’t give a **** **** about how the brain works.

    But because *one* of the architectural building blocks of ML is called “neural networks”, people outside the field insist on trying to shoehorn ML into the ‘how does the brain work’ conceptual box. The two have nothing to do with each other.

      1. jsn


        It’s wired into us between social competition and no heuristics for the invisible, Antiviral Marketing’s points as I take them.

        But when the institutions of governance deliberately set out to systematically distort perception, it does’t help much. So the pool was already polluted before HICPAC poisoned it.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      “Everything the Circus thinks is gold is sh** made in Langley Moscow … “

      America is collectively ‘Percy Alleline’

  13. JBird4049

    “The most important issue at play is the financialization of public health in the US through these private-public enterprises, whereby critical information disease outbreak, the opioid crisis, and the population’s general health indices can be accumulated and monopolized by giant conglomerates like Alphabet. This has significant implications for insurance companies, federal agencies, surveillance of the population, and more.”

    Just how f***ing different is this from the various contracts with NGOs in San Francisco and elsewhere, where the goal is not to solve any problems or help anyone, but to monetize suffering and often to flat out steal the public’s money? Sorry, but my anger keeps growing.

    Last I checked, the city and country of San Francisco spent millions on a “pair” of porta-potties mounted on a flatbed trailer on either Golden Gate avenue or Turk street near the methadone clinic. Something most any large public event does routinely and using multiple units. Personally, the lack of public restrooms has been an issue in the city for decades, certainly since I became aware of it in the 1980s. One would think that the problem would have been solved at least for the tourist trade, but you would be wrong.

    But really, there is corruption like this in the entire Bay. It is just easier to find in San Francisco, both by experience and the number of available sources. The destruction of both the old mainline and independent print media along with their websites does not help. What remains, be it newspapers, blogs, radio, and television has shrunk around and focused on the larger cities here. It looks like the local papers are leaving out or massaging much of the news that they would not have done even twenty years ago. Not that any of the newspapers, radio, and television stations were that good before.

    I really do have to make it a personal, organized, and permanent project, much like a part time, even full time, job, to find out what is happening just a few miles away. Something which the media is supposed to be doing. I very am sure that those who are benefiting from the mess do not mind.

      1. JBird4049

        The city has always been a bit of a swamp since the Gold Rush, but the amount of sewage has become far too much. Add the hollowing out of most of the city’s economy in the past fifty odd years and the incompetence caused by the corruption, and the city is losing not only its ability to function, it might be losing its ability to survive. It might seem hyperbolic to say that, but like California and the United States, the decline has been hidden by the wealth propping up a façade of what was to hide what is.

        It is painful to see first this hollowing out and now the peeling away of the façade’s gold leaf showing the wood rot beneath.

        The United States has always had some corruption especially in the South, and in the Gilded Age, it was everywhere and threatened the country’s future. The Progressives, whatever their flaws, cleaned up much of the sewage. But it is back. The question is will we, the current generation of Americans do likewise?

  14. ChrisRUEcon


    Ooof indeed!

    Is Pence just the GOP’s Kamala? I know that’s a harsh comparison – Pence can actually form more coherent sentences. However, the similarities on lack of personality/charisma and no real base of which to speak really … but at least Kamala had #KHive … was there ever a #PHive? ;-)


  15. nippersdad

    At this point they are just talking gibberesh about comparisons between the Ukraine and Israel conflicts:


    “The Biden administration rebuked a comparison of Israel to Russia on Monday, as the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip quickly approaches the number of Ukrainians killed by Moscow since that war began.”

    Eight thousand civilians by Israel in two weeks vs. 9,600 by Russia over nearly two years. But that is not what they say. Russia has killed nearly a half a million Ukrainians during their SMO, and there is no effort made to account for how effective Israel has been against Hamas or Hezbollah. I guess that would not have read as well.

    “Israel is aiming for Hamas fighters, Kirby said, and Washington continues to urge Israel to minimize the impact on civilians.

    “We want to make sure they do it in a cautious, careful, deliberate way, but it is not a war aim of Israel to kill innocent civilians the way it is a war aim of Vladimir Putin to do that in Ukraine,” Kirby added.”


    “Slaughtering innocent Ukrainians, that’s part of their strategy inside Ukraine. That is not what we’re seeing from Israel,” Kirby said on CNN Monday morning. “Israel is not deliberately trying to kill civilians.”

    I hate to tell you, Kirby, but Politico’s numbers have already disproved that claim in this article. And then there is Jayapal talking about sieges:

    “The United States rightly called out Russia for its siege of Ukraine, rightly called out the attacks on the power infrastructure, the refusal to provide food and water and fuel to the Ukrainians,” Jayapal told NBC’s Meet the Press. “We have to recognize that our credibility and our authority on the moral stage is greatly diminished if we do not also call out this siege that Israel is launching on Gaza.”

    Yes, Jayapal, when you don’t know what a siege is your credibility will be called into question. When did Ukraine come under siege? Seems like every pol on Earth has made their obligatory pilgrimmage to Kiev with no one stopping them. There have even been reports of Putin giving his permission for such as Biden to go there.

    They are all starting to sound like drivelling idiots.

  16. nippersdad

    Rahm Emmanuel says let the troops eat radioactive scallops!


    Aren’t shell fish known for their ability to clean everything out of the water and concentrate toxins? That should do wonders for enlistment. A real pity, too, as there is apparently a very small pool of kids still healthy enough to join the military. By the time they are done there will be no seed corn left in the population for the “economy” to eat.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Pretty sure that the US did this before and I think that it was just after Japan had those failed reactors. If I remember correctly, the US purchased a lot of irradiated seafood and gave it to people who had no choice but to it eat. So that meant prisoners in US jails and US troops serving overseas in places like Iraq. The bonus point of both groups dying of cancer before reaching retirement age must have been seen as a plus.

      1. Malvah

        Absolute boycott of all Japanese sourced food, forever, for health and as a punishing lesson to them and other nations as to the price of “cheap nuclear energy.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Must be the reason why Japan banned people there from buying their own personal Geiger counters. Now why would that be? Those people were only using them to check out the food that they were buying in the markets.

  17. Wukchumni

    I’ve seen lots of bubbles, and the Israeli commemorative silver coin craze of the 70’s was quite something, really my first glimpse of what can happen when the magic words ‘limited edition’ are applied to an object.

    They made the first ones in 1958 and a new one came out every year, and by the mid 70’s these silver coins that had about 3/4’s of an ounce of silver were worth $50 to $500 with feverish interest, kind of the Hummel of coins.

    Nobody really cares anymore, most of it trades for the silver content value, but once upon a time.

  18. Jason Boxman

    I knew these people were screwed in April 2020.

    Trajectory of long COVID in SARS-CoV-2 wild-type, Alpha, Delta, and Omicron

    Similar patterns of symptoms and severity of long COVID across all four variants

    No clinically significant decline in median severity up to 1.5 years after infection

    More than 50% of long COVID patients failed to improve using any outcome measure

    Patients infected with Omicron may experience severe non-improving long COVID

    Long-term Prognosis at 1.5 years after Infection with Wild-type strain of SARS-CoV-2 and Alpha, Delta, as well as Omicron Variants

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Assyrian Women of Letters”

    Thanks for that link as lots of good stuff. A window into people’s lives from 4,000 years ago. On the last page, for any interested, there is a link to a doco on Bronze Age textile production based on what they found here. It is in a mixture of French and English but the French parts are subtitled.

  20. square coats

    The visual representation of the Bird Song of the Day today kind of looks like a low resolution image of old Japanese style painting of cranes.

  21. anaisanesse

    No Rumble allowed in “rights of man” France, along with the rest of the EU forbidden videos.

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