2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Say’s Phoebe, Mount Falcon Park, Morrison Trailhead, Jefferson, Colorado, United States. Crickets, owl, virtuoso trilling.

* * *


“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

“US President Joe Biden’s dog removed from White House amid biting incidents” [Al Jazeera]. Not the kind of headline you want to see. “The announced removal of Commander came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked at a daily media briefing about a new allegation that he had bitten a White House staffer. Jean-Pierre referred questions to the first lady’s office, which said Commander and Dale Haney, the head groundskeeper at the White House, were playing and that no skin was broken in an incident that was photographed by a tourist and shared with a news organisation, which then published the image online.The US Secret Service has acknowledged that 11 of its agents had been nipped by the president’s dog, though US media reported that the actual number was higher and that the dog had bitten other White House workers, too. One such incident required a hospital visit by an injured law enforcement officer, according to records from the Department of Homeland Security.” • More than 11 bitings? Holy [family blog], that’s executive dysfunction! Bye bye, Commander:

Which one is more vicious? (Also, I wonder whether any patterns would emerge if Biden’s sunglasses wearing were to be charted.)

* * *

“Biden criticized for waiving 26 laws in Texas to allow border wall construction [Guardian]. “Joe Biden faced intense criticism from environmental advocates, political opponents and his fellow Democrats after the president’s administration waived 26 federal laws to allow border wall construction in south Texas, its first use of a sweeping executive power that was often employed under Donald Trump…. A federal proclamation issued on 20 January 2021 said: ‘Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.’ On Wednesday, border officials claimed the new project was consistent with that proclamation. ‘Congress appropriated fiscal year 2019 funds for the construction of border barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, and [homeland security] is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose,’ a statement said. The statement also said officials were ‘committed to protecting the nation’s cultural and natural resources and will implement sound environmental practices as part of the project covered by this waiver.’ Observers were not convinced. Referring to a famous (and much-mocked) Trump campaign promise, Matt Stoller, research director at the American Economic Liberties Project, said: ‘Mexico didn’t pay for the wall, but Biden did.'” • Worth noting this only happened after Pritzker wrote Biden a letter (and not when Eric Adams whinged (and not, of course, when DeSantis and Abbot complained)).

“Biden to build new border wall touted by Trump, in policy reversal” [Reuters]. “Trump was quick to claim victory and demand an apology. ‘As I have stated often, over thousands of years, there are only two things that have consistently worked, wheels, and walls!’ Trump wrote on social media. ‘Will Joe Biden apologize to me and America for taking so long to get moving….'” • I don’t think “wheels and walls” will survive A/B testing, but let’s wait and see.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

Two parties, both alike in dignity:

On political (“protecting democracy”) economy (“looking out for the middle class”) voters see the parties as identical. And they’re right!

* * *

“Judge at Trump’s NY civil fraud trial slams hand on bench, loses his cool during testimony: ‘This is ridiculous!'” [New York Post]. Trump setting up living quarters in the judge’s head, as he does. “The Manhattan judge deciding Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial lost his cool on Wednesday — slamming his hand on the bench and snapping, ‘This is ridiculous’ — as the former president’s lawyers grilled his ex-accountant over inconsistent testimony. The judge’s annoyed reaction came after Trump’s side claimed that Donald Bender, a partner at accounting firm Mazars USA, was evading their questions. Trump attorney Jesus Suarez had spent part of Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday morning cross-examining Bender — and said he would continue with the questioning through the end of the day…. ‘We need to be allowed to parse the evidence — we didn’t bring this case,’ [Trump attorney Christopher] Kise argued. Alina Habba, also a Trump lawyer, chimed in, ‘We haven’t got one answer from him … he has no memory as we sit here.’ Over the course of testimony Wednesday — the third day of trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit — Engoron checked Trump’s legal team twice more, at one point suggesting they were pandering to the press and carrying out their defense as if a jury were present.”

“Trump fraud trial in NYC live updates: AG James declares ‘the Trump show is over,’ says she ‘will not be bullied'” (live blog) [New York Post]. Not the best live blog ever, but this from Trump: “We’re going down the line, page after page, document after document and the bottom line is: This is rigged. The judge knows whatever he’s going to do. He said that Mar-a-lago is worth $18 million and it’s worth $1-and-a-half billion or thereabouts. He said it was worth $18 million, so he defrauded us. He called me a fraud, he called me a fraud and he values Mar-a-Lago at $18 million, and you can’t do that.”

“Trump bails out of fraud trial on 3rd day: He came, he scowled, he got gagged, and left” [Insider]. “Exit, Donald Trump…. He doesn’t have to return until he testifies by order of a New York state subpoena some weeks from now. ‘I’d rather be right now in Iowa,’ Trump said in a parting shot to reporters at the start of the lunch break, midway through the trial’s first week…. During his half-week in residence at the trial, chaperoned by the Secret Service, Trump attacked the attorney general and the judge — in addition to off-topic diatribes against President Joe Biden and the special counsel Jack Smith.” • “In residence,” I love it!

* * *

PA: “Casey leads McCormick in Senate race, poll says” [Bradford Era]. “In the 2024 presidential race in the nation’s most populous battleground state, the difference between Trump and President Joe Biden was well within the margin of error, with Trump ahead, 47% to 45%, in a possible rematch of their 2020 contest. Both candidates had similar approval ratings, too: Biden was viewed favorably by 39% and unfavorably by 57%, while Trump had 40% positive and 56% negative ratings. ‘Biden vs. Trump: same as it ever was, setting up another likely bare-knuckled brawl between the two candidates in Biden’s home state,’ [Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy] said. While Trump still has to overcome a large field of candidates to win the Republican nomination, he was well ahead of the pack and improved his position compared with a similar survey in June, even after four criminal indictments” [N = 1,725; ± 3.7%]. • A swing state….

“Exclusive: Donald Trump Followers Targeted by FBI as 2024 Election Nears” [William Arkin, Newsweek]. “Right after January 6, the FBI co-authored a restricted report (‘Domestic Violent Extremists Emboldened in Aftermath of Capitol Breach, Elevated Domestic Terrorism Threat of Violence Likely Amid Political Transitions and Beyond’) in which it shifted the definition of AGAAVE (‘anti-government, anti-authority violent extremism’) from ‘furtherance of ideological agendas’ to ‘furtherance of political and/or social agendas.’ For the first time, such groups could be so labeled because of their politics. It was a subtle change, little noticed, but a gigantic departure for the Bureau. Trump and his army of supporters were acknowledged as a distinct category of domestic violent extremists, even as the FBI was saying publicly that political views were never part of its criteria to investigate or prevent domestic terrorism. Where the FBI sees threats is also plain from the way it categorizes them—a system which on the surface is designed to appear nonpartisan. This shifted subtly days after the events of January 6 when it comes to what the Bureau calls AGAAVE. ‘We cannot and do not investigate ideology,’ a senior FBI official reassured the press after January 6. ‘We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence or criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.’ But the FBI went further in October 2022 when it created a new subcategory—’AGAAVE-Other’—of those who were a threat but do not fit into its anarchist, militia or Sovereign Citizen groups. Introduced without any announcement, and reported here for the first time, the new classification is officially defined as ‘domestic violent extremists who cite anti-government or anti-authority motivations for violence or criminal activity not otherwise defined, such as individuals motivated by a desire to commit violence against those with a real or perceived association with a specific political party or faction of a specific political party.'” • A classification struggle! And speaking as a former professional classifier, “other” categories are dangerous, because anything and everything can end up in them.

* * *

“Democrats cry foul after Gov. Youngkin’s Political Action Committee receives $2 million donation from wealthy TikTok investor” [WAVY]. “Gov. Glenn Youngkin is facing criticism from Democrats after his political action committee (PAC), Spirit of Virginia, received a $2 million contribution from wealthy TikTok investor Jeff Yass…. The donation comes less than a year after Youngkin signed an executive order banning TikTok on all state devices and networks claiming, ‘TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American.’ It’s for this reason that Democratic House Minority Leader Don Scott says Youngkin should give the money back.”

* * *

“Cornel West leaves the Green Party in favor of an independent bid” [Politico]. “Presidential candidate Cornel West is leaving the Green Party and will continue his bid for the White House as an independent candidate. ‘As Dr. West’s campaign for president grows, he believes the best way to challenge the entrenched system is by focusing 100% on the people, not on the intricacies of internal party dynamics,’ said the West campaign in a statement.” Reading between the lines, the GP is absolutely as dysfunctional as I have always said it was. More: “The objective as an ‘independent, unaffiliated’ candidate is to get on the ballot in all 50 states, campaign manager Peter Daou told POLITICO. But he acknowledged the move comes with some challenges. ‘It’s a major strategic hurdle for an independent or third party to attain ballot access even in one state, let alone all 50 as a present presidential candidate,’ Daou said in an interview. ‘So we will be applying as much rigorous analysis as we can to the best way to approach this because we don’t have unlimited resources.’ The simple part, Daou argued, is getting the signatures. What will be difficult is navigating the specific ballot access laws and requirements of every state. A large volunteer base is helpful for collecting signatures, but it takes expertise to find the easiest way to get on the ballot in each state, said ballot access expert Richard Winger, who recently published a guide to how third party candidates can petition to be on the 2024 ballot.” • Focus on swing states? What a battle royal that would be!

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“Most 2024 GOP presidential candidates urge Republicans to stop the chaos after McCarthy’s ouster” [Associated Press]. “Most of the top Republican candidates running for president in 2024 reacted grimly to the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy by a faction of hard-liners in their own party, while one contender embraced the chaos and the front-runner for the nomination notably did not denounce the move. Many agreed that it was a clear sign that new leadership was needed, not just in the House of Representatives but also in the party as a whole. Former President Donald Trump, who has shown an unabashed willingness to go after his fellow Republicans, asked: ‘Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves?’… ‘We just need leadership. We need to put leaders out there, deliver for the folks that we represent. I think that we need order. We need smooth government operations, and we need to deliver results,’ [DeSantis said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Wednesday morning].” And the trains running on time? More: “Meanwhile, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy welcomed the chaos.” • I’m not sure aghastitude at inner party workings ever resonates with voters.

“Calls mount for ‘House Speaker Donald Trump,’ as lawmaker claims he can best ‘unite’ GOP” [FOX News]. “Calls continue to mount for Donald Trump to be nominated speaker of the House as some argue that only the former president could unite divided Republicans. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., told FOX News on Wednesday that Trump would be the perfect candidate to coalesce Republicans behind common policy objectives after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was stripped of the gavel Tuesday. ‘We need somebody to unite our conference. And I honestly believe that he’s the only person that can do that,’ Steube told ‘The Story.’ ‘He is the America First agenda. We need the America First agenda to be displayed in the House of Representatives.'” • I can only say that Trump as House speaker would be awesome, the equivalent of hitting the entire spectacle, not merely the referee, over the head with a chair, WWF-style. However, the Speakership would mire Trump in actual governance. I’m not sure that would be to his benefit.

“Leonard Leo says he will not cooperate with D.C. Attorney General tax probe” [Politico]. “Judicial activist Leonard Leo is not cooperating with an investigation by Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb for potentially misusing nonprofit tax laws for personal enrichment, his attorney confirmed. David Rivkin, Leo’s attorney, said in a statement to POLITICO that Schwalb has ‘no legal authority to conduct any investigatory steps or take any enforcement measures’ because Leo’s multi-billion-dollar aligned nonprofits — which poured millions into campaigning for the nominations of conservative Supreme Court justices and advocating before them — were organized outside of D.C. Leo’s consulting firm, CRC Advisors is registered in D.C. and his main aligned nonprofit, The 85 Fund, used a D.C. mailing address for at least a decade. Schwalb is also looking into liberal ‘dark money’ group Arabella Advisors, a consulting firm founded by a former Clinton official that manages a handful of nonprofits, POLITICO confirmed, after Republican attorneys general recently complained that Schwalb should instead be probing Arabella. ‘Arabella Advisors complies with the law and will cooperate with the District of Columbia Attorney General’s civil inquiry,”‘said Arabella spokesman Steve Sampson said in a statement. … The investigations — and subsequent subpoenas — are in response to dueling complaints from liberal and conservative watchdog groups filed with the IRS that began after POLITICO reported that the lifestyle of Leo and a handful of his allies took a lavish turn beginning in 2016, the year he was tapped as an unpaid adviser on judicial nominations to former President Donald Trump.” • Somebody call a w-h-a-a-a-m-bulance! I don’t have a lot of sympathy for billionaire Leo (and simultaneously loathe Arabella).

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.

* * *

“Senators nix casual clothing as bipartisan resolution sets new dress code for Senate floor” [Associated Press]. “The bipartisan resolution by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, comes after backlash to Schumer’s announcement that staff for the chamber’s Sergeant-at-Arms would no longer enforce a dress code on the Senate floor. The guidance came as Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman has been unapologetically wearing shorts and sweatshirts around the Senate, voting from doorways so he didn’t walk on the chamber floor and get in trouble for his casual dress. ‘Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,’ Schumer said Wednesday evening, as the resolution by Manchin and Romney passed.” • Good to see our representatives foused on the important things. And it’s bipartisan! (What the heck does “have made us all feel as though” even mean?)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Jacquet: Explaining non-participation in deliberative mini-publics” [Equality by Lot]. Summarizing a “highly cited” paper by Vincent Jacquet, a handy table:

“State Election Board shelves bid to allow more hand-marked ballots, affirms touchscreen use” [News from the States]. “On Tuesday, the Georgia State Election Board rejected a proposal that would have increased the number of voters casting hand-marked paper ballots in the 2024 election cycle when existing touchscreen machines raise ballot privacy concerns. By rejecting requests to enhance ballot secrecy and security, the election board likely eliminates any possibility of meaningful election rule changes ahead of Georgia’s busy election cycle in 2024, which will gain steam with a presidential primary on March 12.”

“Youngkin administration says it’s fixing issue that improperly removed some voters from the rolls” [Associated Press]. “Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration said this week, with early voting underway, that it is working to fix an issue that misclassified probation violations as felonies and has led to an unknown number of eligible Virginians being removed from the voter rolls. State election officials are working with Virginia State Police to identify voters whose registration ‘may have been canceled in error’ and begin the process of having those people reinstated, Andrea Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Department of Elections, said in a statement Wednesday. ‘We are taking great care to identify each person affected and working to reinstate their registration immediately,’ said Susan Beals, commissioner of the Department of Elections.” • Given the demographics of probation violation, if this were Florida 2000, I’d say the Republicans were tampering with the voter rolls, just like Jebbie did. Also, “taking great care” and “immediately” contradict, surely?


“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!

* * *


“B.C. mask rules return to health-care settings” [Vancouver City News]. “Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry [she’s heart-broken, I’m sure] announced last week the return of mask mandates for health-care workers, visitors, and volunteers in patient-care areas of places like hospitals and other public facilities. Masks are not mandatory in private practices, along with dentist and chiropractor offices.” • Henry is such a tool, and that’s the charitable explanation. Covid is airborne and moves like smoke, through the entire facility, not just in “patient care” areas. And not in dentist’s offices, when dentistry is the very definition of an Aerosol Generating Procedure?! These people aren’t just bad, they’re getting worse; actually regressing. (The wording is also extremely revealing of the paradigm at play here: One might imagine that the entire hospital is a “patient care” area — what reason for being, after all, does a hospital have? — but apparently not.)

Celebrity Watch

“Taylor Swift Helped Drive 35,000 New Voter Registrations After One Instagram Post” [Teen Vogue]. • Good for her. Now if only she would mask up. Another example of celebrity leadership:

There’s a paper to be written on parasocial relationships and public health….


“Lingering COVID virus in tongue linked to long-term taste loss” [National Institute on Aging]. “Loss of taste, one of the most common and frustrating symptoms of COVID-19 infection, appears to be associated with persistent damage to taste buds caused by low amounts of the virus that can linger for months or even more than a year… COVID-related loss of smell and taste affects millions of people, can negatively alter overall quality of life and nutrition, and lead to depression. A recent study estimated that 60% of people infected with COVID in 2021 lost some ability to taste or smell, and a quarter of those patients, approximately 28 million Americans, didn’t fully recover and were left with a decreased sense of smell…. The team examined biopsy samples, discovering that low amounts of virus, undetectable by COVID polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, lingered in tongue and taste bud cells in some cases for as long as 1.5 years. They also found that taste bud basal cells — which produce new taste buds as old ones die off — affected by the virus produced buds that were smaller, misshapen, and had fewer taste receptor cells than healthy ones.” • Eesh. Rather ironic, eh? We optimized our Covid response so that restaurants would remain open, and now millions have lost their sense of taste….


“Effects of tea, catechins and catechin derivatives on Omicron subvariants of SARS-CoV-2” [Nature]. From the Abstract: “Here we show that Omicron subvariants were effectively inactivated by green tea, Matcha, and black tea.. Holy [family blog]! I’d say “Big if true, but this is Nature…. More: “Healthy volunteers consumed a candy containing green tea or black tea, and saliva collected from them immediately after the candy consumption significantly decreased BA.1 virus infectivity in vitro…. The study may suggest molecular basis for potential usefulness of these compounds in suppression of mutant viruses that could emerge in the future and cause next pandemic.” • I am not a variant maven, but subject to correction: BA.1 isn’t even on the charts any more, and EG.5, FL.1.5.1, the top items on the current variant leaderboard, are from a different lineage. News Medical concludes that “This study demonstrated that green tea, Matcha, and black tea effectively inactivate Omicron subvariants,” but although the article lists a lot of variants, EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 do not appear. Nevertheless. Now do coffee!

“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.

* * *

* * *

Lambert here: Back to tape-watching mode. It still looks to me like the current surge has some ways to run, given how wastewater flattened, with the East Coast up. Let’s wait and see.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, October 2:

Lambert here: Leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card! Perhaps FL.1.5.1, high in the Northeast, has something going for it that other variants don’t have?

Regional data:

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


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 30:

Lambert here: September 30 is tomorrow, but never mind that. Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“), with FL.1.15.1, HV.1, and XBB. trailing. Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, September 16:

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, September 30:

Drop coinciding with wastewater drop.

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 5:

Slightly decreasing. (New York state is steadily rising, but it’s New York City that’s the bellwether.) I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 23:

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 2:

-1.0%. Another big drop. (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 Cleveland Clinic, September 23:

Lambert here: 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, September 11:

Back up again And here are the variants for travelers:

Now, BA.2.86. FL.1.51.1, interestingly, low.


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: 1,177,982 – 1,177,856 = 126 (126 * 365 = 45,990 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 4:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

“United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged higher by 2,000 to 207,000 on the week ending September 30th, below estimates of 210,000 and remaining close to the seven-month low of 202,000 from earlier in the month. In the meantime, continuing claims unexpectedly fell by 1,000 to 1,664,000 on the week ending September 23rd, well below estimates of 1,675,000 and remaining close to the near-eight-month low recorded previously, suggesting that unemployed individuals are having relative success in finding new jobs. The data added to evidence that the labor market remains at historically tight levels, pointing to added resilience to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening cycle and adding leeway for rates to remain higher for longer.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Booking.com makes a fortune – so why is it leaving its bills to small hotels unpaid?” [Guardian]. “There is something wrong at Booking.com. While its parent company has been making record profits – $1.3bn for the second quarter of 2023 alone – and its CEO and executives have been cashing in millions of dollars in shares this year, many of the people who helped Booking.com make that fortune claim to have not been paid since July, some say longer. Many Booking.com accommodation partners from Australia to Europe to the Americas have faced silence from the company as they’ve chased payments for months while struggling to keep businesses afloat – particularly during the lucrative northern hemisphere peak summer season, when many guests were essentially staying free of charge, as Booking.com hadn’t passed on payments…. Many partners have complained directly to the CEO about Booking.com’s silence on late payments and staff’s lack of response to calls, emails and cases opened on the platform that are closed without being resolved.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Extreme Fear (previous close: 18 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 1:59:01 PM ET.

The Jackpot

“Passport processing times reduced by 2 weeks, State Department says” [CBS News]. “If you need to get a new passport or renew it soon, the process should be a bit quicker. The State Department says it has lowered expected wait times by two weeks following a 2023 that so far has resulted in weeks-long and sometimes months-long waits to get passports. All passport applications received Monday and beyond will have wait times of 8-11 weeks for routine service with times shortened to 5-7 weeks for expedited service, the State Department said in a statement. The change in processing time does not apply to applications received before Monday. More than 24 million passport books and cards were issued in the fiscal year that ended over the weekend, the State Department said. That number was a record, eclipsing the previous year’s record of 22 million. Over late spring and early summer, the State Department was receiving approximately 450-500,000 applications each week, CBS News reported. The State Department suggested travelers begin the process 6-9 months in advance of any travel and to check the validity of their passports frequently.” • Couldn’t hurt to do this now, and I strongly suggest that those of you without passports consider getting one. You never know! (Consider also that the passport is good for ten years and is currently very low tech. Gawd knows what will happen when they go more high tech, so get yours now.)

Zeitgeist Watch

“Software can detect hidden and complex emotions in parents” (press release) [University of Bristol]. “The University of Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan University team worked with Bristol’s Children of the 90s study participants to see how well computational methods could capture authentic human emotions amidst everyday family life. This included the use of videos taken at home, captured by headcams worn by babies during interactions with their parents. The findings, published in Frontiers, show that scientists can use machine learning techniques to accurately predict human judgements of parent facial expressions based on the computers’ decisions. Lead author Romana Burgess, PhD student on the EPSRC Digital Health and Care CDT in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol, explained: ‘Humans experience complicated emotions – the algorithms tell us that someone can be 5% sad or 10% happy, for example. ‘Using computational methods to detect facial expressions from video data can be very accurate, when the videos are of high quality and represent optimal conditions – for instance, when videos are recorded in rooms with good lighting, when participants are sat face-on with the camera, and when glasses or long hair are kept from blocking the face.'” • As a WASP, I have come to accept that I don’t necessarily know what my emotions are, and “an app for that” might be handy. OTOH, when I think of the ways that app could be gamed, I recoil in horror.

Class Warfare

Fair. Worth a watch (you can leave the sound down):

I don’t know the word for what kind of bias this is (“normalcy?”). For example, my picture of “grade school” doesn’t include metal detectors, shootings, or cops in the halls. But that’s only because I’m an old codger, and probably, at this point, a minority. And it’s very hard for me to put myself in the shoes of somebody whose, well, “lived experience” of something so seemingly quotidian as so at variance with my own.

News of the Wired

“Pythagoras: Everyone knows his famous theorem, but not who discovered it 1000 years before him” [Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing]. “The story of Pythagoras and his famous theorem is not well known. Some of the plot points of the story are presented in this article…. Pythagoras is immortally linked to the discovery and proof of a theorem that bears his name – even though there is no evidence of his discovering and/or proving the theorem. There is concrete evidence that the Pythagorean Theorem was discovered and proven by Babylonian mathematicians 1000 years before Pythagoras was born.” • Neat!

* * *

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 MT Jefe:

MT jefe writes: “Sticky geranium, Montana.” This is a geranium?

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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. Carla

        The plant pictured is commonly called a cranesbill geranium and is a hardy perennial. I have a couple of hybrids in beautiful shades of blue. I know, I know, we should focus on native plants, and I have many natives in my garden. But I’m a sucker for blue flowers…

  1. Val

    Commander is fighting for us all. Unfortunate, dutiful shepherd, taken into the darkest recesses of the late imperial capitol, has never met an emotionally or morally intact human being, but still knows deep in his heart that the universe bends towards justice…and proceeds with canine aplomb.

    Chomp chomp, my darling brother.

    1. griffen

      Dog sees man “pretend” biting little children and sniffing girls who are not his own offspring or grandchildren. Dog thinks internally, maybe these “people” are just animals on two legs, and they are chewy and delicious; I’ll give it a shot! \ sarc

      Either that or the dog played a lot of Pac Man as a puppy and is just living out a furry fantasy.

    2. The Rev Kev

      It’s not like after the first time they could have put a muzzle on that damn dog. But it is true to say that a dog often reflects it owner and I suspect that having his dog bite so many people was a source of pride for Biden, especially since those people could not really fight back

    3. ChrisPacific

      Second dog of Biden’s that has had to be removed from the White House due to biting incidents. Perhaps we should be looking for a common denominator here. Anyone in a position of authority over them that has a tendency to lash out under pressure?

    4. Wukchumni

      Its worse than you know, the Commanders are said to be rethinking the recent renaming of the NFL team, in guilt by association.

      Possible new names:

      K(9) Street
      Blackskins (about 60% of NFL players are black)

    5. Acacia


      I imagine a WH staffer saying: “ohh… what’s all the fuss? it was just a few friendly nips… at least he’s not trying to hump children and sniff their hair”… until that staffer got bit.

  2. nippersmom

    I’d like to make the obvious point that the common denominator with the aggressive Biden dogs that have had to be removed from the White House is the owner. These dogs are obviously not properly trained, and probably receive insufficient exercise and mental stimulation. GSDs are very intelligent; they need humans who are at least as smart as they are. Failing that, they need a job. Quite frankly, I think we’d be better off removing old Joe and putting Commander in charge.

    1. nippersdad

      They gave the game away when they named him “Commander.” The poor creature is being used as a prop, and GSD’s just don’t make good sit-arounds even when trained to do so. I’m kind of surprised that it hasn’t gone after Biden. He goes off the rails fairly routinely, and that would normally act as a trigger for such dogs.

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, we should not blame the dog for being inadequately trained or stimulated. This is just dog abuse.

      2. Carolinian

        Rumor has it that around the White House Biden is also known as nippersdad.

        And once again, as a dog love,r I can only repeat the mantra that there are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners. And how.

        Atlanta once had a vet office called All Dogs Go to Heaven. Very true.

        1. nippersdad

          Miss Nippy was a real sweetie, though. I found her at the dump when she was a little puppy, mangy and without any hair. She was named after this guy…


          …and once out of her puppyhood I doubt she ever wanted to bite anything. She was more one of those roll-over-and-rub-my-belly kinds of dogs. We have had a lot of those over the years, to the point where one has to wonder what they do to them to make them mean and bitey.

          Dogs really are not hard, and the Bidens’ having had to send so many away tells you a lot about them.

    2. Feral Finster

      I was looking at the photo of Commander on the couch and thinking that here is a dog who does not know his place.

      Especially knowing that Commander has a propensity for biting people.

    3. Pat

      Commander is the only Biden I would support.

      And yes, this is most certainly about the owners more than then any of the dogs.

    4. Acacia

      These dogs are obviously not properly trained, and probably receive insufficient exercise and mental stimulation.

      Kinda like Hunter… ?

  3. Mark Gisleson

    NBC poll seems odd. My totally hot deconstruction of it would be that they didn’t expect Republicans to outpoll Democrats on abortion so they removed the results on environment and minimum wage to produce a scare poll to assist former Democrats in finding their way back to the party before it’s too late.

    At this point the only thing stopping me from voting for an RFK Jr-Gabbard ticket would be seeing a Cheney, Bush or Clinton on stage with them.

  4. IM Doc

    I heard today on CNBC that Walmart, Target and other retailers are “seeing” a decrease in consumption of food products – and get ready for the laugh – are suspecting that WEGOVY and OZEMPIC are the cause.

    Jim Cramer was almost having a seizure explaining how these meds are going to completely change grocery, retail, alcohol corps, and fast food corps. “We are just not going to be eating as much. These companies better get used to this. Diet and exercise have clearly shown to not work at all – the doctors have decided they have no other option than to give something that works” He screamed into my TV.

    I literally almost blew coffee out my nose. No lessons are being learned in any way, shape or form. Have these morons ever heard of inflation? Food deserts? Horrific dietary choices? Having poison crammed down our kids throats and calling it “nutrition”? I really do every day now begin to really wonder why so many are off their rockers. What are we doing to make so many of our fellow citizens unable to have critical thinking skills?

    Furthermore, I am not certain that many Wal-Mart shoppers could even begin to pick up the 800-1200 dollar monthly cost for these drugs in a weight loss program. Seriously? Even diabetics with “insurance” and “access to health care” end up paying 500 dollars/month or more out of pocket most of the time.

    The problem is I am just old enough to have been on the medical wards back in the day when it was a big deal to have admitted a 300 lb patient. We learn in medicine by showing each other abnormal physical exam findings – and the line for these 300 lb patients would be out into the hall. I am not kidding.

    Look at any photo from the 1940s,1920s, 1880s, anytime before the 1980s or so – there are a few obese people ( nothing like what we have today) – but for the most part fit and trim. How oh how did they ever manage that without Manjuaro?

    Again, I feel like I am living through a nightmare. I just cannot make it stop.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not to preen, but I lost a good twenty pounds by — follow me closely, here — eating smaller portions. I actually improved my cardio in my annual physical checkup. I realize that the American diet, and the food system generally, is optimized for obesity (which also yields profit in the medical realm, so its a two-fer), so I won’t present this as a panacea. Nevertheless….

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Cutting out all booze let me see improvements from being physically more active. [If you knew how much I smoke you’d appreciate that I haven’t given up on inebriation so much as just switched substances.]

        Then cutting out all processed foods/refined sugars improved my health to the point where doing the right thing now has obvious benefits. For decades I would see next to no results from diets, programs or workouts. Getting all the crap out of my diet changed everything.

        At first I thought I was restoring old muscles but now, at age 70, I’m getting stronger in places where I’ve never had muscles.

        [preen] I haven’t reduced my portions but I do probably eat less because I feel like eating less. [/preen]

        Mine is not an admirable lifestyle, just de-modernized. The improvements all came from subtraction and putting some thought into my daily routine to make it work for me. I steal tips from wherever I can get them and have stolen bunches of them from IM Doc (thank you).

        1. JBird4049

          It is cheaper and healthier to make all your own food, including the sweets, but plenty of Americans either do not know how, or more likely have the time, equipment, or fresh food to do so. The food deserts alone are a big problem. I was taught as a young child the basics of cooking, I have a kitchen, and there are several supermarkets in easy driving or even walking distance.

          This is not to say that people are not responsible for what they eat, they are, but to say that for many, it is not as simple a task as one would think.

          “Here’s my very sharp, eight inch chef knife, a very sharp three inch paring knife, a pot of boiling water, a frying pan, a spatula, a ladle, a pile of ingredients including oil, and a cookbook with some strange terms. Have at. See you in three hours.” It is doable, but I can see someone being intimidated.

          1. Hana M

            There used to be this course in high school called Home Economics. It included an extensive practical ‘lab’ on cooking and baking. It went the same way as Shop, another old school course that was very useful.

            Cooking from scratch often isn’t less expensive than fast food unless you know how to cook in bulk and have enough freezer space to store extra portions.

            1. Henry Moon Pie

              There’ nothing worse for The Economy than people cooking their own food, mending their own clothes, fixing their own toilets and cars. No wonder those courses have been banished. They’re downright blasphemous.

              1. Jeff V

                The only thing worse than that would be people helping out their neighbours with such tasks, free of charge, on the reasonable assumption that somebody will do the same for them.

                Can you imagine the hit to GDP!

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Getting all the crap out of my diet changed everything.

          Agreed. I should also say that I very rarely drink wine or beer, and only with food (never the hard stuff). And my junk food consumption is minimal. Plus nothing what would fall under “the 420,” and minimal medication (no statins).

          Our bodies did not evolve to be obese; that takes work (and I’m not assigning blame; clearly something diet-related or environmentally-related — and profit-driven — is going on, which becomes obvious if you leave the United States for awhile and then come back. This was true at least as far back as the 90s.

          > Mine is not an admirable lifestyle, just de-modernized


      2. Reply

        One recipe for success:

        daily exercise including cardio, weights, balance (for us older folk) and flexibility (many options)
        no artificial sweeteners
        minimal sugar, or use alternatives
        no trans fats
        no tropical oils
        no seed oils
        no margarine
        minimal carbs
        no tap water, hydrate with filtered water
        plenty of veggies, organic preferred
        moderate fruit, also organic preferred
        grow and eat what you can, love the short supply chain
        no alcohol. okay, substitute for medicinal purposes only ;)
        decent sleep including REM

        Your appetite may vary. Not for everyone.

    2. Carolinian

      I thought Walmart said their profits were soft because their customers were switching to generic house brand groceries to save money. 800 to 1200 does sound like a stretch.

      Also as a Walmart shopper I can testify that their customers are not getting slimmer.. Sometimes you see people waiting at the entrance because there aren’t enough motorized shopping carts to go around. Soon there may be a line of people waiting for an available ride.

    3. Lee

      “Again, I feel like I am living through a nightmare. I just cannot make it stop.”

      I’m taking a broader view. Any day it’s not raining nukes is a good day. Hang in there Doc, we need you.

    4. Hana M

      What seems so strange to me is seeing young people who are 100 or more pounds overweight. And this in prosperous Boston. I don’t understand it. At 30, 40, even 50 I couldn’t put on weight if I tried. Some clues perhaps: I was active, but no Olympian. I grew up in a three generational family that always prepared meals from scratch. Always a sit down family dinner. No deserts except on birthdays and holidays. No soft drinks. I tried my first Coca Cola sometime after I turned 18 and hated it. I smoked for a while but quit back in the 1980s when it stopped being cool. Being post-menopausal and living alone has made it harder to keep the weight off though I still cook from scratch and I’m lighter than a lot of the people I see walking around. WTH is going on???? As always, IM Doc, your comments are one of the best things about NK.

    5. Harold

      People (including school kids) don’t get enough time to eat. For needs to be savored, & preferably accompanied by pleasant conversation. When I was in China in 2007 I noticed that factory workers and civil servants were allowed a two hour lunch break. I don’t know if this is still the case.

    6. Luckless Pedestrian

      I love old black and white noir movies. Its fascinating to see how much smaller portions were in a 1940s diner scene. Watch Out of The Past and check out the ham sandwich that gets served in the diner when Joe arrives in Bridgeport.

      Also, lots of smoking.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        And a great deal of booze: lotsa half-full highball glasses in hand during those films.

    7. Enter Laughing

      I find it somewhat alarming to discover that Walmart is tracking how customers’ prescription drug consumption affects their purchasing behaviors. I hope I don’t end up on a powerpoint slide at some marketing meeting!

    8. The Rev Kev

      My wife sees on her tablet this video series about a Houston doctor and the people that he treats who are in the 600 to 800 pound range. Unbelievable. They are like land whales. So to get away from such images, how about we look at an earlier time in a video called ‘1940s Style – Women of the 1940s in Vintage Photos’-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqQo0AccOsc (8:04 mins)

    1. Samuel Conner

      Thanks for the Nature link.

      re: > Now do coffee.

      Perhaps the US soft drinks industry will fund studies on the beneficial effects of sugary drinks.

      More seriously, tea has been making bright returns on my “radar” since the early ’00s, but especially since the mid ’00s, when I came across this analysis of the Ohsaki study.

      If one wants to use Green Tea medicinally more than recreationally, I can suggest “Gunpowder” tea, which when purchased in 100 to 1000 gram quantities has very reasonable cost on a “per gram of dry leaf” basis. I tend to brew it almost nauseatingly strong, and rebrew the spent leaves again and again, sort of “slow motion decoction”, until there is no discernible color to the liquor. Not all the polyphenols are equally soluble; decoction gets the less soluble ones out.


      More snarkily, the thought occurs, “now do the antihelminthic compound that physicians are afraid to prescribe off-label, lest they lose their licenses.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If one wants to use Green Tea medicinally more than recreationally

        I don’t view coffee as recreational; it’s really part of my workflow. And of course my sensorium, my entire body, is used to the taste, the set and setting, and of course the chemicals (and like wine, not just the active ingredient). It would be hard for me to change from tea. I mean, I’m not likely to sit down at my computer and start my work day with something “nauseatingly strong.” On the other hand, “weak tea” just doesn’t make it for me. Perhaps there is a literature on “conversion.”

        1. Samuel Conner

          Take a look at that analysis of the Ohsaki study. If there were a simple, low-cost intervention that lowered one’s risk of mortality due to cardiac event by 25%, that might be “converting”.

          (And, to make it more “delicious”, it’s a non-Pharma intervention. For drinkers interested in “growing their own” — though this has been frustrating for me thus far — Camellia Forest nursery sells tea camellia seeds and plants, and there are other nurseries that sell plants. Edible shrubberies!)

          Strong tea is an effective “wake-up”, though I don’t use it that way. Coffee for wake-up; strong tea later in the day for medicinal benefits. The spent leaves get fed to the compost worms, the compost goes into the planting holes, and on and on …

          1. C.O.

            Like Samuel Conner, I drink coffee in the morning and early afternoon, but tea in the evening. Unless it is green tea the tea has to be strong or there is no point though. Green teas and some blends are amazing for 2-3 reinfusions in my experience.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          Try yerba mate: stronger than tea, weaker than coffee… a decent appetite suppressant and the theobromine makes for a happy beverage. It’s an acquired taste, and I’m not going to try and convince anyone its tastier than coffee, but it’s an excellent substitute, with a very cool culture and history behind it.

          1. thousand points of green

            There is a growable-in-America analog to the Yerba Mate plant, called yaupon ( or other names) –> scientific name Ilex vomitoria. It produces in its leaves and stems the same stimulating drugs that Yerba Mate does, though I don’t know if it produces as much.

            The range map on this wikipage shows the range as deeply southeastern, but I believe it can be grown somewhat further north than that.

            1. ambrit

              Yes. Yaupon grows practically wild around here. We have some in our back yard area, along the alley. Can grow quite tall. Has to be trimmed back every spring unless you are using it as a hedge.

              1. thousand points of green

                The trimmings might offer an opportunity to try making one’s own tea from the trimmings, the leaves especially, and see whether it is enjoyable and also whether it has any stimulant effect.

        3. MaryLand

          Dyed in the wool coffee drinker here. For the health benefits I do take a cup of tea in the afternoons. Adding enough honey makes it more palatable IMHO, but there are all sorts of flavored teas that are pretty good. Might be worth a try for my fellow coffee fiends.

      2. notabanker

        I would get sinus issues, like the onset of a cold, frequently when I traveled in Asia that would usually flare up and then dissipate in a day or two. I arrived in Hong Kong one day feeling it coming on, blocked, sore sinuses, and a native took me to a medicinal shop where a stern old chinese lady that did not speak a lick of english poured various liquids, allegedly tea, that resembled coffee that had boiled for 3 weeks and spent motor oil in a small bowl. I took a sip and they laughed and said no, medicine is supposed to taste bad, just gulp it down. And I did. It may have just been a placebo effect, but let me tell you, I had no issues within 30 minutes and felt great. I wish I could have bottled that stuff.

        We then went on to the proper tea shops where they have the rare pu erh stuff, and sampled various varieties, and there is a whole ritual of washing the leaves.I have some kuding, tigulon and an unknown ball tea that I brew up frequently, with honey. Like you, strong is better for me. I haven’t done the decoction thing though, I’ll have to try that.

  5. Dan Waisel

    Newsom disallows paper ballot counting, forces all California elections onto Dominion electronic voting systems. Any election controlled by software is hackable and might not to be trusted.

    Taxpayers might consider boycotting payments to any government selected by electronic systems at the local, state and federal level.


    Weird typface:
    “Here we show that Omicron subvariants were effectively inactivated by green tea, Matcha, and black”

    Yellow highlighted words are overlapping and cutting each other off…Mac OSX Firefox 118.1

    1. ILWU Larry

      Never has California had a governor so hypocritical and reviled.

      Before his recall election, he proclaimed hundred million dollar surplus. https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/nation/california/2021/05/14/california-has-huge-budget-surplus-governor-newsom-plans-spend/5094670001/

      After he won the recall, he announced a huge deficit.

      He praises Californians Freedoms, to love who they want, get abortions, including subsidizing travelers from out of state, yet stripped medical personnel of their licenses if they even so much mentioned alternates like Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine.

      He praises workers rights, yet vetoed a bill that would give striking workers access to unemployment. Chief beneficiary at the time, Netflix and Hollywood in the midst of a writers strike. He Knewsome Netflix lobbyists whose birthday party he celebrated at the French Laundry during lockdowns. Wonder how much they shoveled into the Newscumbag?

      He worked hard to make San Francisco a sanctuary city and to fund homeless services promising in 2004 “that in ten years there would be no more homeless.”
      Later “investing” billions of our tax dollars to attract even more of the world’s homeless and mentally ill bidenvenidos streaming into the state.
      Nice payoffs to building industry as there’s such a housing shortage!

      Now he’s pretending that it’s all the courts’ fault that there are so many homeless in California. The senate appointment is the latest absurdity.

      1. curlydan

        100 _billion_ surplus in possibly the nation’s most left of center state–probably could have funded healthcare for all Californians, but that’s too much good for the people.

  6. LaRuse

    Passports – we were all passport-less in my family (it’s not cheap to get them) but decided it was better to get them now than after our daughter turned 16, when ID requirements for her got more stringent. She has the possibility of international travel with her high school so we applied.
    It took 5 weeks just to get an appointment at the Post Office. The appointment was June 1. Our passports arrived on August 18. And that was a quick turn around compared to the 13 weeks we were warned it would take. So yes, I recommend if you are even considering getting or renewing, do it sooner rather than later.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > She has the possibility of international travel with her high school so we applied.

      And you have no possibility of international travel if you don’t apply. It’s good to have options, and there’s no reason to foreclose this one.

      I remember, back in the day, getting into Canada with a library card is my ID. Those days are long gone.

      1. Keith Newman

        A library card! That really isn’t much. I used to get into the US, from Montreal into Vermont, with my driver’s licence that had no photograph. I always thought that was pretty minimal. I’ve been one upped!

      2. ambrit

        You really should learn alternate routes. Such as logging trails and obscure hiking trails. The “official” border crossing points will be closed to “Political Malcontents” after the “Government of National Unity” is promulgated. That Passport will be the doom of many.
        “Oh my. You seem to be on the Homeland Security ‘Hold List.’ Please follow me.”
        Many of us may remark that the Late American Empire is going the way of all empires. When Empires go, they generally break apart. Unfortunately, ‘they’ also tend to “break” many otherwise innocent persons in the process.
        (Do note that I am not appending the “Snark Tag” to this.)

      3. BrianC - PDX

        When my father was stationed, as a USNPS Park Ranger, on the East side of Glacier National Park… we would car pool to the Canadian border and walk across to catch the school bus.

        I spent second, third, fourth, and part of fifth grade going to school in Cardston, Alberta.

        At the end of the school day we’d ride the bus back down to the border and walk across to car pool home. Those were long days.

        This was back in the mid sixties.

        Wouldn’t be able to do that now.

        My sister was born in Cardston. Folks drove across the border, as Cardston had the closest delivery room when mom went into labor.

    2. Laura in So Cal

      Recent passport data points:
      1. My son had a passport we got when he was 14 so we had to renew in person. Unexpedited, we received his new passport in 7 weeks. They had told us 10-12 weeks.
      2. My friend did a by mail renewal and expedited it. She received her new passport in 2 weeks.

      These were both renewals so maybe brand new passports are taking longer?

      1. TimH

        …and if your passport is expired more than 6 months, standard renewal is not available and PO appointment is required. And around me, very difficult to get the PO appointment.

  7. griffen

    Breaking news, look for a shopping spree at a Big and Tall or XL store near the Fetterman residence in the coming days. Granted, that annual $170K salary* should provide sufficiently well for those purchases; alas, was it really so hard to at a minimum dress like a functional adult in the US Senate?

    It isn’t as though the trade off will be really that rough to navigate. Trade up from board shorts to regular Dockers; just buy 20 pairs at a time like the Michigan football coach, Jim Harbaugh!

    1. nippersdad

      “…was it really so hard to at a minimum dress like a functional adult in the US Senate?”

      That is beside the point. Fetterman’s deliberate use of board shorts and a hoodie is an exercise in virtue signalling every bit as much as are the three thousand dollar suits routinely worn in the Senate. Judging by his votes it is clear that there is little light between them, but it was still an affront to those who were forced to buy and wear those suits in order to reach the commanding heights that they presently occupy, and an easy way to keep him cognizant of that fact.


      “It is impossible to impersonate your way into polite society because stealth wealth goes well beyond clothing. It is an entire lifestyle.”

      So twenty pair of Dockers or twenty suits from Mens’ Warehouse would fare little differently in the way he is privately treated, this was just too public an opportunity to pass up.

      “Attempting to discredit a Senator based on an outfit is a transparent way for weak men to assert their waning relevance.”

      Or, perhaps a better way to say it is that they are showing him how small he is within the greater ecosystem. A badly tailored suit will make no difference.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > like a functional adult

      Which adults are those? The ones in “the room”?

      Just to make what’s going on here clear: The “dress code” translates to: “On no account shall a Senator accumulate symbolic capital by dressing like a normal working class person does.”

      1. ChrisPacific

        Dress code enforcement is very often used as a proxy for attitudes that wouldn’t be acceptable to say out loud. In this case, it is: people who consider that kind of clothing normal aren’t welcome in the Senate. I’m sure the point is not lost on voters.

        I’m not sure if he’s doing it to make a statement or simply because he feels comfortable that way. Either way, more power to him. I like to think I would say the same if somebody wore a suit to a beach party, although that one would test my priors a bit more.

      2. griffen

        It is a good point that one, for sure. Thinking in more broad terms, however; he has accumulated very little time in the Senate thus far and is behaving as though it is a right to dress like the proverbial man on the street he represents. It isn’t much to ask of him, show a bit of class in how one dresses. $3,000 suits are not a requirement I don’t believe.

        And yes it’s all a bit of performative theater. By example, I wouldn’t trust my attorney, or any investment advisor, dressing like a Pearl Jam devotee, necessarily, and maybe it’s just my opinion.

        1. Jeff V

          Dress codes are getting more and more relaxed, but it does still matter.

          I remember, in the late 90s, doing stock takes as part of the audit of a car sales business. Since that involved, among other things, scraping the snow off cars in order to read the chassis numbers, everybody involved including the client’s senior accountant was dressed very casually.

          When I later met that accountant in an office setting he was wearing a suit, and his answers to my audit queries seemed to have much more authority – even though intellectually I knew that it was the man I was talking to, not the clothes.

          As for Fetterman, he is clearly not following the unspoken rules of the “club” he has “joined”, thereby putting them to the trouble of codifying and enforcing them. Which they no doubt view as unfortunate, because when the rules are unwritten it is much easier to spot imposters since such people have no way of finding out what the rules are.

  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Judge at Trump’s NY civil fraud trial slams hand on bench, loses his cool during testimony

    Ha! Yesterday the judge was decrying Trump’s verbal “attacks” which I thought was a little hyperbolic and mentioned Trump hasn’t punched anyone yet.

    And now the judge gets a little violent! Perhaps this headline should have read “Judge at Trump’s NY civil fraud trial attacks bench”. After all, what’s good for the goose….

    1. griffen

      Sounds like a pivotal scene from “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, whereby Nurse Ratched deprives one patient from a treat ( was it cigarettes ) and the patient gradually begins to lose it (and then the entire scene turns into chaos ). I ain’t no little kid !!

      Added…Brad Dourif looks incredibly young in that film. Hoping I can trust my recall from watching that, been quite a few years.

      1. CanCyn

        I was 14 when I saw that movie. Life-changing. Although I knew it was fictional, it was the beginning of my realization that our institutions do not necessarily exist to do good.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      And this brings to mind the old saw about the legal profession –

      “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; if you have the law on your side, pound the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table.”

      – so perhaps the judge has got nothing and knows it. As has been mentioned before, if overvaluing real estate were a crime, there’d be a lot more people in jail.

  9. curlydan

    So it’s up to Peter Dauo and friends to get Cornel West on the ballot in 50 states and DC? Oh god, there goes any chance I can vote for West without a write-in!

    1. some guy

      What if Daou and friends were to concentrate on getting West onto the ballots of a few selected states which if won by West would deny an electoral victory to either brand name candidate? Would that be a better approach?

      Or just try for all 50 and see how many they can actually get on to?

      ( Well, if Tulsi Gabbard is auditioning to be Trump’s VP running mate, she certainly won’t consider being West’s running mate . . . or RFK Jr’s running mate. So there went that happy little fantasy.)

  10. Roxan

    As to a cause of craziness– I read an article in Gizmodo about an experiment feeding mice microplastics. The more they ate, the nuttier they acted. Apparantly, microplastics are everywhere, even in the air.

  11. Old Sarum

    Codger’s takeout on the new normal in US schools:

    To me it looks like a civil war by other means, especially if you add in book banning to the calculus.

    [If you can’t make progress at the top, attack the base.]


    ps Don’t call it obesity, say “extravagant malnourishment” instead.

  12. ChrisRUEcon

    #COVID19 #Walgreens

    I seem to recall a comment from some Water Coolers ago talking about positivity map from Walgreens.

    The red-to-green map provided by Walgreens is just the weekly positivity delta. The actual positivity # (percentage) is shown in that awful shades-of-grey map. I think the positivity map should be “colorful” as well. So I messed around a made this (via Twitter). Confirming that yes, the northeast remains “hot”.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: Donald Trump Followers Targeted by FBI as 2024 Election Nears”

    Didn’t Biden very recently label all MAGA followers as a threat to democracy? I suppose that he was not game to do so for all Republicans but that is only because they include a lot of RINOs as well like Lindsay Graham.

  14. SG

    Re: Trump as Speaker

    Not only is there no rule or constitutional requirement that the Speaker be a member of the House, as far as I can tell there’s no requirement that the Speaker even be a US citizen. I think they should pick Putin. Nobody can say he wouldn’t restore order to the House.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Breathtaking stupid.

    I think we’re like toddlers. Maybe we’re four years old, maybe five. I’ve always said we’re going to have to grow out of this virus, to grow out of the pandemic, by gradually building our immune system up.

    The vaccines can accelerate that process. But those gains will be marginally less powerful over time, especially because the spike protein of the virus, which is the focus of most vaccines, keeps mutating.

    It’s so hard to talk about this in public because people think by talking about immunity, I’m saying people need to get exposed. Well, you can get exposed or you can get vaccinated. But either way, we have to keep building our immune system up, as babies do. That takes years to do. And I think it’s going to be a few more years at least.

    Michael Mina

    But we know the shots are less effective every time. This is bogus.

    Even if it were correct, embraces long COVID for a growing number of Americans. Ignores sub clinical damage. Eugenicist.

  16. Fraibert

    The Public Health Service still offers scholarships to physicians that include full tuition and fees plus stipend (https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/scholarships/overview).

    Additionally, the federal government runs its own medical school that is free for all attendees–the Uniform Services University. This institution trains doctors not only for the military but also the Public Health Service, with a service commitment required in exchange for the lack of tuition. (https://medschool.usuhs.edu/academics)

  17. digi_owl

    Victors write the history books they say. Or books at all if one go far enough back.

    I suspect the theorem being attributed to Pythagoras is as much about his name being the oldest known for so long, thanks to the Greek text being copied and translated over the centuries.

    I suspect there was many a thing known in times past that was lost and then rediscovered simply because it was either not written down, or the writings were lost due to wars and disasters.

    1. ambrit

      It is quite probable that there were many things known in times past that have never been rediscovered.

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