2:00PM Water Cooler 10/6/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Hat tip to Karabiner Elements, suggested long ago by alert reader Bobbo. Rather than take my MacBook in to repair the keyboard with the failing “f”, “r”, and “w”, I got a USB Magic Keyboard, which has the logout key at top right, right next to the delete key, with the result that fat-fingered me kept logging out when I was editing text. Very annoying! But with Karabiner, I was able to turn off the logout key. Happy dance! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Black Phoebe (White-winged), Quebrada del Gallinato, Salta, Argentina. “Bird not seen but ID based on voice in the field. We then tried playback and a pair of them approached the sound source three times.” Downrated, I think because of lots of background noise, including a train. But I like the background noise! (Also, I thought “playback” was verboten? Can readers comment?

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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

“If Biden can cancel some student debt, he can cancel all of it” [MSNBC]. “Recently, the Biden administration has adopted a strategy of canceling small pockets of debt. This week, for example, he ordered debt relief for 125,000 people, partially as a corrective for errors in the ‘income-driven repayment’ system that have kept people in debt for decades. While Biden is showing his willingness to pursue cancellation, the effort needs considerably more gas; this most recent announcement affects less than one-half of 1% of student debtors. Still, the announcement confirms an important truth: Canceling student debt is perfectly legal and urgently needed.” • I’m in great sympathy with cancelling it all. Framed as creating an educated citizenry, rolling the clock back to cheap good education at public universities is a no-brainer (assuming that can be done now, things being as they are). Framed as giving the credentialed a longer lifespan for free (see Case-Deaton) perhaps not so much.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

“Trump allegedly discussed US nuclear subs with foreign national after leaving White House: Sources” [ABC]. “Months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club — an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists, according to sources familiar with the matter. The potential disclosure was reported to special counsel Jack Smith’s team as they investigated Trump’s alleged hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the sources told ABC News. The information could shed further light on Trump’s handling of sensitive government secrets. Prosecutors and FBI agents have at least twice this year interviewed the Mar-a-Lago member, Anthony Pratt, who runs U.S.-based Pratt Industries, one of the world’s largest packaging companies.” More: “While Pratt told investigators he couldn’t tell if what Trump said about U.S. submarines was real or just bluster, investigators nevertheless asked Pratt not to repeat the numbers that Trump allegedly told him, suggesting the information could be too sensitive to relay further, ABC News was told.” • The AUKUS submarine deal is vexed. Perhaps Trump thought he was closing a sale? Hence the puffery.

“Trump endorses Jim Jordan as next House speaker” [Politico]. “Jordan is a close Trump ally and one of the leading GOP lawmakers investigating President Joe Biden…. Jordan, the hardline cofounder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said on Fox News on Thursday night he is confident he can bring together the fractured Republican conference.” More: “‘If they don’t get the vote, they have asked me if I would consider taking the speakership until they get somebody longer-term, because I am running for president,’ Trump said. ‘They have asked me if I would take it for a short period of time for the party, until they come to a conclusion — I’m not doing it because I want to — I will do it if necessary, should they not be able to make their decision.'” • Wild!

“Playbook: Inside Trump’s surprise endorsement” [Politico]. “Scalise is running the way successful speakers always have: by focusing assiduously on the inside game of member-to-member lobbying. In Scalise world, the way to win next week’s secret ballot election is to break down the conference into granular Scalise-friendly factions that he can cobble together into a majority. Scalise is the second-most-prolific GOP fundraiser after KEVIN McCARTHY, and his team is making sure the recipients of his largesse remember that. He’s a former whip in a chamber where serving on a whip team is a bonding experience. He’s a southerner in a party that is dominated by that region of the country. He’s targeting colleagues who sit with him on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He’s counting on committee chairmen who are close to leadership and wary of Jordan’s Freedom Caucus roots. And despite the fact that he once led the Republican Study Committee, the jovial Scalise is wooing moderates freaked out by the idea of making Jordan the face of their party.”

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“Ron DeSantis’ money problems deepen ahead of a key stretch in the GOP campaign” [NBC]. “The Florida governor’s presidential campaign entered this month with just $5 million in cash available for the primary, a sum that reignites doubts about his solvency, budgeting and ability to gain ground on front-running former President Donald Trump. The pain is so acute that DeSantis is redeploying aides from his Tallahassee headquarters to Des Moines for the stretch run of a do-or-die Jan. 15 Iowa caucus. A better-funded operation might hire locally rather than shift resources. Past presidential campaigns have typically made such a move only as a last-ditch cost-saving measure — and to look for a campaign-changing boost in an early state.”

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“Former ESPN host Sage Steele claims Biden struggled to finish sentences in unaired portion of recorded interview” [Daily Mail]. “The [March 2021] interview was conducted via satellite link and pre-recorded, and Steele said that technical issues delayed the start of the official interview, forcing her to ‘BS’ and ‘chitchat’ to fill time. ‘I had to chitchat waiting for us to start rolling,’ Steele said. ‘They keep a black, like, curtain over the lens of the camera, so you can’t see him until the last second, but you can hear and we’re chitchatting.’ ‘So I can hear him and he goes, ‘What is this for?’… And he’s, like, ‘Who am I talking to? Wait—what’s her name?” she recalled… Steele continued, saying that after an aide informed Biden that the interview was with ESPN, he responded by musing, ‘You know, I used to play football.’ ‘And so he started to tell football stories of his greatness. And again, I can’t see him,’ she said. ‘He goes, ‘And I had the best hands.’ What do you say to that?’ In high school, Biden was a standout halfback and wide receiver, and he briefly played football as a freshman at the University of Delaware. Steele continued: ‘And then I said, ‘Oh, so you were a receiver.’ And he started to explain it. And here’s the saddest thing — his voice just trailed off. He said, ‘I was good,’ and then he went silent, and he goes, ‘Uhh, never mind'” • Thing is, two years ago, and she can’t actually see Biden. Rings true, but…..

Republican Funhouse

“North Texas members of Congress discuss Speaker McCarthy’s ouster, potential successor” [CBS News]. “[U.S. Representative Keith Self, R-McKinney hasn’t committed to any candidate yet. “We’ve got a lot of talented people in the Republican party. We are holding our powder dry. I’m holding my powder dry because I want to see who actually gets in. We’re early in this. We’re one day into this.” • I’m really running this for keeping “powder dry” (which sadly I can’t find in a headline). Other usages in Politico (“Gaetz keeps his powder dry”), CNN (“many members are keeping their powder dry”), USA Today (“keeping our powder dry”), Axios (“some moderate Democrats who might be inclined to save McCarthy are keeping their powder dry”), Vanity Fair (“On Tuesday—after keeping his powder dry and staying mum—Jeffries issued his guidance to his caucus”), the Dallas Morning News (Self again, “Keeping my powder dry”), and Cleveland.com (“For now, Miller is keeping his powder dry as McCarthy’s aspiring successors seek his support”). And many more! It’s pervasive! For those who came in late, this classic post from Daily Kos in 2007 (!), “In The Vaults Where The Dry Powder Is Stored,” is well worth a read!

Clinton Legacy

“Hillary Clinton: MAGA ‘cult members’ need ‘deprogramming'” [The Hill]. CLINTON: “‘Maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members,’ she said in a clip released late Thursday.” • “Formal”? Formal how? Like have a badge sewn on their clothing?

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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“The New Push for Censorship Under the Guise of Combating Hate” [The Tablet]. “What, then, do we know about the CCDH? In effect, it seems, the organization provides the White House with a powerful weapon to use against critics including RFK Jr. and Musk, while also pressuring platforms like Facebook and Twitter to enforce the administration’s policies. While few journalists have bothered to investigate the opaque group, the available evidence paints a picture that is likely different from what many in the public would expect of a ‘public interest’ nonprofit. The scale of the CCDH’s success must be emphasized for those unfamiliar with the crowded mob of D.C.-based nonprofits churning out reports that seldom get a passing glance from the nation’s policymakers. For a tiny, unknown, nonprofit to gain so much attention in D.C.’s crowded, competitive policy space is akin to a pudgy, amateur athlete catching the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, while setting a new world record in the marathon, all in one week. So who is the CCDH’s founder and leader Imran Ahmed? Where does he get his money? Why did he decide to leave behind politics and start a nonprofit focused on misinformation? And perhaps most importantly, how did a relative unknown from London gain such enormous influence from the White House bully pulpit and within Democratic Party politics? Imran Ahmed is a political operative who spent several years advising conservative members of the British Labour Party before jumping into nonprofit campaigning to run two interrelated dark money groups: Stop Funding Fake News and the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Shortly after appearing on Twitter in 2019, Stop Funding Fake News claimed some very sizable left-wing scalps in London, mostly by lobbing vague accusations of fake news at political enemies. The group helped to run Jeremy Corbyn out of Labour Party leadership while tanking the lefty news site Canary, after starting a boycott of their advertisers, according to reports in British media outlets, sources who spoke with Tablet, and CCDH’s own claims of success.” • Spooks, in other words. (I feel about Democrats using “hate” the same way I feel about Republicans using “freedom”; it’s a bullshit tell. The whole piece is worth a read.

“Antiwar demonstrators urge Sanders to seek diplomacy in Ukraine” [VTDigger]. “The sun beat down fiercely on several dozen protesters as they marched up Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday morning, chanting to the accompaniment of a funereal drumbeat on their way to the offices of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt…. The Burlington protest occurred in tandem with a similar demonstration at Sanders’ offices in Washington D.C. on Wednesday morning, which resulted in the arrests of several antiwar activists… After the demonstrators’ remarks, the protesters rang the doorbell to Sanders’ offices and were met at the door by a member of his staff, who distributed a copy of a letter to the coalition. In the letter, Sanders expressed sympathy for the group’s “dedication to peace” while reaffirming his belief that the U.S. government should continue to provide direct aid to Ukraine. ‘The U.S. should support a just peace in Ukraine based on the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, and international law,’ the senator wrote.” • Oh Bernie. It’s just sad. To think that even if Sanders had won in either 2016 or 2020, we might be at war in Ukraine regardless.

Our Famously Free Press

Changing of the guard? But to whom?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Will Voters Send In the Clowns?” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “Many people have been calling the G.O.P. a ‘clown car,’ and understandably so. This is a party that seems incapable of governing itself, let alone governing the nation…. Objectively, the economy is doing well. But perceptions may not match that reality, and Americans may, as a result, vote to send in the clowns.” • This is shockingly lazy writing from Krugman. Here is a sung version of Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns:

(Lyrics.) Sondheim explains the title:

I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song’s about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she’s an actress, but it’s not supposed to be a circus […] [I]t’s a theater reference meaning “if the show isn’t going well, let’s send in the clowns”; in other words, “let’s do the jokes.” I always want to know, when I’m writing a song, what the end is going to be, so “Send in the Clowns” didn’t settle in until I got the notion, “Don’t bother, they’re here”, which means that “We are the fools.”

One intepretation:

In essence, this song is about regret, about a character [Desirée] who realises too late that she has been a fool, and missed marrying the one man [Fredrik] she truly loved. Dench sings this with breath taking fragility and pathos. In no sense does she try to sound ‘beautiful’ or musical; and, as a result, she achieves both.

Expanding (and I needn’t apologize for Wikipedia here):

Desirée [the singer, here Dench] remains sitting on the bed; depending on the production, Fredrik walks across the room or stays seated on the bed next to her. Desirée – feeling both intense sadness and anger, at herself, her life and her choices – sings “Send in the Clowns”. She is, in effect, using the song “to cover over a moment when something has gone wrong on stage. Midway through the second Act she has deviated from her usual script by suggesting to Fredrik the possibility of being together seriously and permanently, and, having been rejected, she falters as a show-person, finds herself bereft of the capacity to improvise and wittily cover. If Desirée could perform at this moment – revert to the innuendos, one-liners and blithe self-referential humour that constitutes her normal character – all would be well. She cannot, and what follows is an exemplary manifestation of Sondheim’s musico-dramatic complexity, his inclination to write music that performs drama. That is, what needs to be covered over (by the clowns sung about in the song) is the very intensity, ragged emotion and utter vulnerability that comes forward through the music and singing itself, a display protracted to six minutes, wrought with exposed silences, a shocked Fredrik sitting so uncomfortably before Desirée while something much too real emerges in a realm where he – and his audience – felt assured of performance.”

Sondheim’s song has nothing — nothing!!! — to do with “clown cars”, clownish political personalties, or voting clowns into office. Some of us, of course, may feel “intense sadness and anger” over what the Democrat Party and its hackish loyalists have become over the years, and share the feeling that “something has gone wrong on stage,” but Krugman conveys none of this with his lazy, pathetic, cheap, and twice-repeated allusion. What degradation. Loss of executive function wherever you look. And I’m not even a Sondheim fan!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“Seroincidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to and during the rollout of vaccines in a community-based prospective cohort of U.S. adults” (preprint) [medRxiv]. ” Despite higher incidence rates in the vaccine/variant cohort, vaccine boosters, masking, and distancing likely reduced infection risk, even through major variant surges. Repeat serologic testing in cohorts is a useful and complementary strategy to characterize incidence and risk factors.”


Festival of nasal vaccines:

“A next-generation intranasal trivalent MMS vaccine induces durable and broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern” [PNAS]. This was in Links this morning, but I want to expand on it a little bit. Hamster and mouse study. From the Abstract: “In this study, we have demonstrated the success in modifying the MMR vaccine to develop an intranasal, trivalent measles-mumps-SARS-CoV-2 (MMS) vaccine candidate harboring three stabilized prefusion spike with six prolines (preS-6P) from three different SARS-CoV-2 strains.” From the Discussion: “Although the standard immunization method for the current MMR vaccine is the subcutaneous or intramuscular route, intranasal delivery of MeV and MuV vaccines has been tested in infants, children, and adults and found to be safe and highly efficacious with additional benefits such as needle-free administration and induction of mucosal immunity (29–32). Therefore, intranasal delivery of MMS vaccine may be feasible for humans. Since both MuV and MeV are neurovirulent (33), evaluation of the neurovirulence of trivalent vaccines in nonhuman primates via intracerebral inoculation may be necessary to ensure the safety of the trivalent vaccine.” • As readers know, I stan for nasal vaccines. Interestingly, the authors are mostly from Ohio State, not the Ivies, which speaks well of them, so far as I’m concerned. In layman’s terms–

“Trivalent vaccine candidate fights measles, mumps, SARS-CoV-2” [Medical Xpress]. “Altered measles and mumps viruses could be used as a platform to create a trivalent COVID-19 vaccine that triggers immunity to multiple variant strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, new research in animals suggests…. In two rodent models, the intranasal vaccine triggered a strong neutralizing antibody response plus protection in mucosal areas lining the nose and lungs, and prevented disease symptoms such as weight loss and tissue damage…. Experiments suggested the lifelong immunity to measles and mumps provided by the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine would likely translate into prolonged protection against COVID-19 in people vaccinated with the [Measles, Mumps and SARS-CoV-2 (MMS)].” • So we might get a sterilizing nasal vaccine after all? Hooray! And another nasal vaccine–

“Intranasal mRNA-LNP vaccination protects hamsters from SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Science]. Hamster study. From the Abstract: ” Intranasally vaccinated hamsters also had decreased viral loads in the respiratory tract, reduced lung pathology, and prevented weight loss after SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Together, this study demonstrates successful immunogenicity and protection against respiratory viral infection by an intranasally administered mRNA-LNP vaccine.” • Also interestingly, the authors are from Moderna. The Discussion is good on the state of play for nasal vaccines generally (for example, Bharat gets a mention). Even if Moderna probably doesn’t want to cannibalize its intramuscular vaccine product. In layman’s terms–

“Intranasal vaccine shows promise against COVID variants in hamsters” [Medical Xpress]. “To summarize, intranasal vaccine research aims to stimulate local immunity in respiratory sites, offering an initial protective barrier against viral infections like SARS-CoV-2. This methodology has the potential to reduce both infection and transmission of the virus; however, the development of intranasal vaccines is challenging due to the defensive mechanisms of the respiratory tract against pathogens. This research used mRNA-LNP vaccines, administered intranasally to hamsters, to explore their efficacy against SARS-CoV-2, showing promising results in reducing infection levels and disease severity. However, the translation to human applications requires overcoming physiological and technical challenges, warranting further studies and optimizations for intranasal vaccine formulations.”

Scientific Communication

“Long-term symptom profiles after COVID-19 vs other acute respiratory infections: an analysis of data from the COVIDENCE UK study” [eClinical Medicine (the Lancet)]. From the Discussion: “The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a much-needed spotlight on post-acute infection syndromes, highlighting the need for improved understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions. While the high symptom burden we observed in participants with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection illustrates the extensive reach of long COVID, the similar burden observed among people with previous non-COVID-19 [acute respiratory infection (ARI)] suggests that the lasting impacts of these infections may be underestimated. As research into long COVID continues, we must take the opportunity to investigate and consider the post-acute burden of other ARIs, to ensure all people with post-acute sequelae can access the treatment and care they deserve.” • We live in a sea of viruses, and I can well believe that other viruses have long-term effects (possibly from reservoirs). Commentary on the study==

“Expert reaction to study looking at long-term symptoms after other acute respiratory infections (including the common cold) versus after COVID-19” [Science Media Centre]. “‘Vivaldi et al have presented a very well conducted prospective review of residual symptoms after Covid 19, and after other non-Covid respiratory infections. They demonstrated, at least in the short term, persistence of symptoms can be troubling not just after COVID-19 but after many other infections. Whilst in the first to explore this prospectively, this is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-20 left many individuals with Encephalitis Lethargica that took decades to resolve… The concept of post viral illness is also well established.” And: “The study is important in showing that recovery from ARI may be slow regardless of cause, that people should expect a slow return to normality and not expect to immediately return to full activities immediately after an ARI from whatever cause. The study does not show how many of those suffering from ARI go on to develop longer term debility. ‘The term ‘long cold’ used in the press release should not belittle the very significant disability that some with Long COVID suffer.” • That is, of course, exactly what happened–

“Scientists say ‘long colds’ may exist and are just as common as long Covid” [Independent]. • [chants] “It’s just a cold! (Mild!) “It’s just a cold! (Mild! You just can’t give minimizers the slightest opening. And pretty soon “Long Cold” will be all over everything like kudzu.

“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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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 FFS 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.


NOT UPDATED 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.

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 30:

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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, September 18:

Back up again, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

Now, BA.2.86 for two weeks in a row. Bears watching.


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: 1,178,150 – 1,177,982 = 168 (168 * 365 = 61,320 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, October 4:

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

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The unemployment rate in the US was at 3.8% in September of 2023, remaining unchanged from the February 2022 high from the previous month and slightly above market expectations of 3.7%. Still, the result consolidated evidence that the labor market remains tight on historical standards, adding leeway for the Federal Reserve to leave borrowing costs at restrictive levels for a prolonged period.

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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 Gallery

Really looks like rain, which isn’t easy!

Class Warfare

News of the Wired

“How to sense check numbers” [Understanding the unseen]. Good for somebody like me, who’s not strong on math. “Rule of 72: If something grows at x% per month (whether an investment or epidemic), it will take around 72/x months to double. E.g. something growing at 6% per month will double in around 12 months. Likewise, if something shrinks at x% per month, it will take around 72/x months to halve. More here.” • Exactly because I’m not good at math, readers may wish to comment.

“Ron Patrick’s Street-Legal Jet Powered Volkswagen Beetle” [Ron Patrick]. Best thing out of Stanford since Donald Knuth. “he car has two engines: the production gasoline engine in the front driving the front wheels and the jet engine in the back. The idea is that you drive around legally on the gasoline engine and when you want to have some fun, you spin up the jet and get on the burner (you can start the jet while driving along on the gasoline engine). The car was built because I wanted the wildest street-legal ride possible. With this project, I was able to use some stuff I learned while getting my fancy engineering degree (I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University) to design a street-legal jet car without the distraction of how other people have done it in the past – because no one has. I don’t know how fast the car will go and probably never will. The car was built to thrill me, not kill me. That doesn’t stop me from the occasional blast on the highway though.” • Photo:

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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 BB:

BB writes: “A plethora of verbena with a dahlia, some marigolds, and caged beet sprouts (for the resident rabbits who gobble it up too quickly otherwise).” Very nice!

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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. Jane

    Fauci got a rude reception last night at the Marin County Speakers Series in San Rafael where he addressed an audience of the comfortable NPR totebag crowd.

    Hundreds of well groomed demonstrators , a dangerous conglomeration for the PTB; Republicans, environmentalists, Kennedy supporters, Trump supporters, children, seniors, health care professionals, outraged relatives of the myocarditis injured, lined up with megaphones and multicolored hand made signs informing the attendees. Shocked expressions or shit eating grins on faces of ticket holders.

    Marin County sheriffs did a good job of keeping the path clear and acting professionally. They have long memories. All had to get vaccinated, many have religious exemptions. The energetic demonstration was organized by Tief Gibbs Jensen, a candidate running against U.S. representative for California’s 2nd congressional district, Jared Huffman, a stale ten year political placeholder.

    1. Phenix

      That is good to hear. I’ll be attending RFK Jr’s announcement tomorrow. He does not release the location until the day of the event. It is insane that he does not have secret service protection yet. 30% of his money goes to security.

      1. SG

        Why, exactly, is it “insane”? Because his last name is Kennedy? If you look at the guidelines for candidate protection on the Secret Service website (https://www.secretservice.gov/protection/leaders/campaign-2024), you’ll see that protection for major party candidates isn’t provided until one year before the general election. I don’t think any of the Republican candidates except Trump have SS protection, either.

    2. Carolinian

      Speaking of demonstrators Bernie’s staff had Code Pink antiwar demonstrators arrested when they appeared at his office. Guess that means he’s not changing his support for Z.

    1. notabanker

      Kudos my friend. Rick Beato on his YT channel has been espousing for years how digital tools, like Autotune and Protools have changed music in not good ways. And it always boils down to the human element of imperfection, when orchestrated properly, is what moves people. But this says it better than Ive heard anyone say it:
      In no sense does she try to sound ‘beautiful’ or musical; and, as a result, she achieves both.

  2. Judith

    David Sibley on playback:


    A detailed discussion: here is his summary:


    First, it is important to point out that the use of playback is prohibited in many parks and refuges. It is also illegal to disturb any endangered or threatened species (and playback can be interpreted as disturbance). Any potential negative impacts of playback are more likely to occur in areas with a lot of birding pressure, so avoiding playback entirely in those places is a good idea. Where and how to use it in other situations is up the individual birder.

    To be most effective and to minimize disturbance to the birds:

    have a plan – choose your spot and know your quarry, don’t just play sounds
    play snippets of sound – less than 30 seconds at a time, then a long pause before the next snippet (more silence than playback) and after five minutes or so give it a rest (but stay alert).
    be subtle – you are trying to tease the bird into the open, not stir up a fight

    To minimize disturbance to other birders:

    No surprises – Announce your intention to play a recording, and hold the device above your shoulder while it plays (to avoid any confusion or false alarms)
    Keep the volume low, and use only occasional snippets of sound. Do not broadcast loud or continuous sound.

  3. Samuel Conner

    > [taps mike]
    > Hello?

    Feeling a bit “low” this afternoon, ruminating on IM Doc’s recent report of unusual numbers of patients with “advanced stage at diagnosis” cancers, the official minimization of the risks of repeated CV infection, and the Urie article on the unleashing of uncontainable social processes.

    I believe the official US statistics for cancer incidence for 2021 (the 2020 numbers showed a slight drop in incidence; attributed, I think, to delays in diagnosis due to the lockdowns) will be released some time in November. I hope the news isn’t bad (but if it isn’t bad, I will also wonder whether perhaps the numbers have been manipulated to contain public panic/anger; I’ve lost confidence in my public health officialdom).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Doesn’t the law say that if you have something sticking out the back of your car that is extra length, that you have to tie a small flag to it to back it more visible to following traffic?

      1. ACPAL

        If I remember correctly if it sticks out beyond 3 ft then it must have a flag or flashing light. For less than 3 ft nothing is needed in the US.

  4. Art_DogCT

    Re: Plantidote – One of my all-time favorite plants, Vebena bonariensis. I love it for its freely-reseeding nature and ability to play happily with others in large or small plantings. The flowering period is quite long – mid to late summer through frost in New England – and the stems are very nice additions to arrangements. It is perennial in Zone 7 south. All my experience with it has been as a self-seeding annual. It was always a pleasure to find seedlings pop up around the garden, letting them do as they pleased as long as my other intentions in the garden didn’t contradict. It is also good for large container mixed plantings. Several states regard it as an invasive species.

  5. Phenix

    I was not surprised that Bernie took a terrible position on Ukraine. He is pro-MIC through and through.

    RFK Jr is constantly admonished for his position on Israel but his position on Ukraine is spot on….he admitted to having the wrong position prior to conversations with people who disagreed with tue narrative….I have small hope that he will change his position on Israel BUT his other positions are better than Trump and Biden on the environment, immigration, and a host of other topics.

    1. CloverBee

      Watching Bernie’s more recent interviews and videos, I have concluded that while still sharper than many people, his mind is slipping. His smile seems different and more frequent, and his other facial expressions are just a little off. The policy ideas he has been pushing for 40 years sound the same, but the newer issues (Ukraine) just seem more influenced and parroted, not what I would have expected. It makes me very, very sad.

    2. The Rev Kev

      There is one question that I would seriously like to ask him. ‘Bernie, does Crimea belong to Russia or to the Ukraine?’ I suspect that he would say the later and insist on the 1991 borders no matter what happens to the Russian-speaking peoples in those regions. You would think that Bernie Sanders of all people would be able to give you chapter and verse on what pogroms are all about but I guess that he would refuse to see the parallels. At least there are no photos of him cozying up to Azov people so there is that.

      1. ACPAL

        I believe the real answer is it belongs to whomever can keep it. While borders have been less fluid in the last few decades, historically they have been quite fluid.

        Google: history of national borders.

  6. herman_sampson

    The MAGA deprogramming should start with $600 and a living wage job and Medicare for all – as a start.

      1. ambrit

        “You can’t negotiate with evil.”
        True. Like its close cousins the Neo-liberals, Evil does not negotiate, it takes, by force if necessary.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Hillary would probably be thinking in terms of FEMA camps or something. But terms like ‘MAGA deprogramming’ would only serve as rocket fuel for conservatives of all types. I guess that she thinks that next year’s elections will not be volatile enough so she is now doing her part to help out.

  7. Mo

    Peter Daou joins the Cornel West campaign, and it completely implodes a short time later. Shocker.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Frankly it’s amazing the wheels stayed on the campaign this long. The Greens fell apart after they accidentally succeeded and Jill Stein got a significant vote percentage back in 2016. The Democratic Party carries a grudge against them, considering their mere existence a TINA escape route.

  8. Lex

    I’m not sure that Trump could give away any secrets simply because nobody would ever be able to tell whether what he told them was real. Just like the idea that Trump could be a Russian agent without bragging about being a secret Russian agent is essentially impossible.

    There’s a long tradition of taking little hatchbacks with front engine front drive and turning them into beasts by removing the original engine and putting one in the back. Significantly more rare that it would be a jet engine and even more rare that the engine in the front would remain. Don’t forget to put it in neutral before engaging the jet engine!

    1. nippersdad

      That whole thing just smells like the Steele Memo all over again, where some random Greek is paid for the information that Trump told him he had some “really, really big submarines” and, via some silly game of telephone, he is suddenly a Russian agent all over again.

      Our intelligence services need some new material.

  9. nippersmom

    This is shockingly lazy writing from Krugman.
    in my observation, lazy writing and intellectual dishonesty tend to go hand in hand, and Krugman has been intellectually dishonest for a long time.

      1. ambrit

        The Nobel Committee should establish a new category, the “Gunga Din Award,” for the best ‘water carrying’ in support of the Oligarchic Elites.

  10. Henry Moon Pie


    So it’s more unusual for an upstart DC non-profit to attract Rome’s attention than for an out-of-shape player to catch the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl? Remember Max McGee?

    McGee did not expect to play in the game, and he violated his team’s curfew policy and spent the night before the Super Bowl out on the town. The next morning, he told starting receiver Boyd Dowler, “I hope you don’t get hurt. I’m not in very good shape,” alluding to his hangover.[8] Dowler went down with a separated shoulder on the Packers’ second drive of the game, and McGee, who had to borrow a teammate’s helmet because he had not brought his own out of the locker room, was put into the game. A few plays later, McGee made a one-handed reception of a pass from Bart Starr, took off past Chiefs defender Fred Williamson, and ran 37 yards to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.

    Wikipedia doesn’t include that part of the story where old Max is puking in the huddle. And who can forget Freddie “The Hammer” Williamson?

    I have some compassion for old Joe telling football stories in his inimitable, self-aggrandizing way. We old farts live to some extent in old stories.

    Now I’m older.
    My dreams, they wander
    Far away in yesterday.
    I’m goin’ home to the Merrimack County
    To find the grass that hides my grave.

    Merrimack County” Tom Rush

    1. John Beech

      Midnight-thirty and nobody will ever see this, but I have a football signed by Mr. Starr and Mickey Mantle. After graduating university in 1982, engineering jobs where like hen’s teeth so I took a job with his Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Hoover (south side of Birmingham), because bills.

      So Mr. Starr would come by occasionally and one day, he had Mr. Mantle in tow. I hopped in a demo and hauled ass to the local sporting goods store and bought a ‘signing’ football (regulation but one panel painted in white). They graciously signed it for me. Looks like hell now, but genuine. Spotted it in a box the other day.

      Actually have two as I got them to sign one for my dad. When he died my mom was tossing it and said, ‘Uh-uh, this goes with me!’

      1. griffen

        That’s a great story, and bonus points for grabbing two signed pieces at once. Years back I had a colleague who grew up acquiring Star Wars figures, authentically most were from the peak of the first movies. He would always ask for two of each item, one to go into storage never to be opened. I imagine those unopened items would catch a good bucket of change today.

  11. nippersdad

    ” “Formal”? Formal how? Like have a badge sewn on their clothing?”

    I think the AIPAC crowd may have just had a trope related orgasm….But for all of the Nazi collaborators in our CCDH adjacent intelligence services that are may be monitoring this channel, I would like to be the first to say that my favorite colored star would be dark blue….or maybe a nice wine red. Maybe a dark blue star with a wine red outline? Something snazzy (but still biodegradable)(like a nice tweed)(made from American sheeps’ wool)(from sheep fed on Arizona alfalfa)(artisanally woven by Americans on small cottage looms), made in the US by Ralph Lauren in a unionized workshop……

    Hillary really never does learn. It is hard to understand the kind of intense narcissistic personality disorder that could lead to statements like that, but if anyone could manage it it would be her.

  12. Mark Gisleson

    Trump just put Democrats into a classic box:

    Support Jordan for Speaker or risk getting Speaker Trump.

    That’s the only math in play right now.

    Enjoy your weekends ; )

  13. nippersdad

    Ooooh! We have a new public/private partnership with Prada to design the next generation of space suits.


    I wonder how well stiletto heels will work with the Lunar regolith? Also, too, they can change out of the Star Trek terrestrial wear* into something sparkly when going out for walks.

    Are we a joke yet?

    * https://thehill.com/policy/defense/573212-new-space-force-uniforms-draw-comparisons-to-star-trek-battlestar-galactica/

    1. Ranger Rick

      The appearance of SpaceX’s spacesuits have a similar provenance. They were dreamed up by a Hollywood costume designer who worked on superhero movies. They announced the NASA spacesuits with a “placeholder exterior that would not be used on the lunar surface” — I suppose we should have seen a fashion partnership coming after that.

        1. nippersdad

          I am totally hoping for something more in the Barbarella or Flash Gordon line. They will freeze in space, but do so very fashionably. As they used to say on Saturday Night Live, “it is better to look marvelous than to feel marvelous.”

  14. willow

    “Seven wild plot twists that could upend the 2024 election”

    1. One of the two candidates dies or is forced to withdraw.
    2. A terrorist attack occurs on par with Sept. 11, 2001.
    3. The U.S. is at war.
    4. Close to the election, a crippling, prolonged cyberattack on critical infrastructure leaves the U.S. exposed and vulnerable.
    5. Domestic terrorists launch attacks for or against Trump.
    6. “Deep fakes” close to the election, wreaking havoc on campaign messaging that voters believe is authentic.
    7. A third-party candidate catches fire and gains support above 20 percent.


    1. Pat

      On 5. It has been happening, it just isn’t recognized as such. Lawfare is a form of terrorism.

      And four might be really interesting if critical infrastructure fails on Election Day in California since Newsom threw out paper ballots with or without cyber terrorism.

    2. Benny Profane

      My vote is number two, a false flag thought up by the Ukranian Nazi regime. Number one is very likely, too.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Seven wild plot twists

      Why are these even considered wild? I think they’re all perfectly plausible.

      A very common high-level framing (or, in the vulgate, cliché) for an “America chooses” election is “Change vs. more of the same” (and we get a lot of votes for change, but nothing seems to, at least not for the better). Similarly, my view is that the fundamental dynamic of this election is “stability vs. volatility” (keeping the lid on vs. blowing it off). I am firmly on the side of volatility; I think pundits who think “Trump v. Biden” is inevitable are engaged in mere cope; #1 is quite possible, even likely. Gawd knows what will happen to the ballots if the debacle happens late enough in the game — perhaps the Electoral College might need to perform its original function, and figure out what to do about The Deceased on the ballot!

  15. ChrisPacific

    Student debt cancellation would be most tenable alongside restoration of cheap/free high quality public tertiary education. It doesn’t have to exclude private institutions – just make the state colleges free and high quality, like a lot of them used to be.

    Leave that out and you open yourself to a fairness based argument: people who signed up to it when it was expensive get debt forgiven, but the price tag for current and future education hasn’t lowered and there’s no guarantee that debt forgiveness will be repeated, so later students are at a major disadvantage. It feels like a band aid because it is. Either education should be cheap/free or it shouldn’t. The status quo is exhibit A for why the second option is problematic.

    1. willow

      Student debt cancellation should be offset by splitting the cost across higher education institutions the debt was generated from. Students and tax payers shouldn’t bear the cost of institutional grifting.

      1. some guy

        Part of the reason this debt was generated at State colleges and Universities is that their respective State-citizen taxpaying publics decided to join the Great Tax Revolt and elect anti-tax legislators who would boycott tax-funding to the State colleges and universities. So the State colleges and universities raised tuition to raise money from somewhere, after the Legislatures proved that they would boycott their colleges and universities for decades to come. Grifting is only part of the reason for the price rises.

        If Stateloads of people want free-tuition State colleges and universities, they will have to accept the tax-hikes necessary to pay for that. ( Just as the people of Michigan, for example, who say they want good roads will have to accept higher taxes to pay for those good roads they say they want. If they don’t want to pay higher taxes, they don’t deserve to have good roads and they won’t get the good roads they will prove they don’t deserve by rejecting higher taxes to pay for good roads).

  16. IM Doc

    Apropos to many of the links above. I had two very interesting patient encounters today. As I have said repeatedly, I am very loathe to discuss politics at any visit. This does not prevent the patients from continually trying to badger or talk me into it. I am very resistant. But I do let them talk. Especially in this era where most communities across America have been completely abandoned by psychiatry and counseling and this niche is now up to the primary care docs, like it or not. I am essentially the counselor and an elder for so many of my young male patients. And did I ever get an earful today from two of them. I know all of their families, parents, wives, etc – all Dem-leaning in my blue community. I have the distinct sense that the amount and level of surprise and miscalculation on the part of our political class are going to make the next year a show for the ages.

    1) 36 year old father of 2….He was convinced a few years back that the only way he was ever going to have the lifestyle his parents did was to put all the chips on the table and start owning lots of short-term rental real estate. He took what he and his family had in savings and began to buy rental houses for Air BnB in vacation areas from sea to shining sea. Levered himself up to the gills. And until the past 6 months or so, the cash has been rolling in. A bit too young to learn the lessons of 2006, he put most of this in adjustable mortgages with very low down payments. The interest rates are all now resetting in gigantic fashion, he cannot increase the rent and even remotely stay competitive, and foreclosure on all these homes – I think he said 16 – is right around the corner. Furthermore, there has been a huge nasty decrease in customers and he is barely having 2 weeks out of 4 occupied in most of them. He is absolutely distraught and suicidal. We are working on that together. But I cannot help but think he is not alone and really do wonder if this is going to be the nucleus of this cycle’s housing implosion. It seems to me, given how many AirBnB’s that are in every city I know and largely empty, that this could be much much worse than 2007-8.

    2) A 29 year old attorney – vocally bragging about his progressive Dem bona fides today – he was a patient who was fired from his law practice about this time of the year in 2021 for not following the vaccine mandate. He was actively suicidal 2 years ago. I was deeply concerned about him. He and his young family were plunged into several months of serious financial dislocation. They have not yet fully recovered – however, he immediately went to work as an apprentice for a local construction company. He and his family have learned how to “live poor” and he and his bosses cannot even begin to keep up with the work. He will be his own man in the construction business very soon and has zero intention of ever being a lawyer again. His family is now approaching solvency after two long years after being fired. This kid today had tears of joy as he was recounting all the lessons he and his young family have learned. He wanted to make sure I knew he was still a progressive – but he has been completely abandoned by the Dems and the dailykos crowd. His words. He reported to me having obviously much more in common with his new co-workers than he ever did in his previous circles. He also laughed out loud when he told me today that people like Matt Gaetz have more in common with the trials of his generation than any Dem in Congress. He will be voting for RFK and will be doing all he can to persuade everyone around him to do the same.

    I am not at all sure what is going to happen. What I sense is we are going to see political shifting in this country as we never have in our lifetimes. As Lambert has been saying over the past few weeks. BUCKLE UP.

    1. Pat

      People aren’t talking on the bus as openly as before. Some of that I attribute to increased ridership. (MTA may be down in the subway, but the buses I ride are increasingly crowded.)
      I also attribute it to the fact that NY is more volatile.
      I cannot be sure, but watching people in supermarkets, brief conversations with older neighbors, even asides with people I work with let me know things. More people are being careful what they buy. More people are sick or have sick family members. There are more homeless everywhere. Affordable housing isn’t and there isn’t enough of it. Our real estate worry is commercial real estate, we had a big office building boom and now there are too many and the buildings are leveraged to the hilt.
      People are unsettled in this city. It may not obviously show itself politically here, but things are shifting here, too. Buckle up is right.

    2. Tom Stone

      Doc, as someone who has been watching Real Estate for decades your AirBnB patient is not out of the ordinary.
      We have just started to see the Residential RE market begin to crater, the Commercial Market is in the midst of a long term decline with some SF office buildings selling for 75% less than they were appraised at a few years ago.
      Quit a few office buildings will end up with a negative value in the next few years if they can not be repurposed at a reasonable cost.
      This is NOT a normal cycle and I do not expect some classes of property to recover their prior value.

  17. Mark Gisleson

    If Kunstler’s latest is accurate and we are seeing record Halloween displays…well, that’s very interesting.

    America going all Day of the Dead is one helluva harbinger for 2024.

    1. Screwball

      I read him on M-F, as I’m sure many do. As with most, I don’t always agree, but I enjoy him as a wordsmith. I find him too optimistic. That would be funny if it wasn’t.

  18. southern appalachian

    Charles Mahron’s Strong Towns is a useful site: https://www.strongtowns.org/

    I live in a rural area, ride a bike maybe half the time the ten miles to town, been doing that for over twenty years. The locals are accustomed to me, the new folks, some get angry. Some do not. I hope we stay safe.

    Anyway, so over that time, carried everything from a car battery that needed replacing (heavy!) to weekend provisions for a bunch of teenagers (equally heavy!) on a bicycle.

    There are knock on effects. Example, I shop more frequently, and buy fewer things. Don’t want to carry too much on a bike. Then realized I did not need a large refrigerator or a lot of storage space. I wasted less food, since only buying for the next day or two.

    Being a more frequent shopper meant I started developing social connections at my markets and in town.

    Land use patterns influence habits, around which local economies develop. A Pattern Language is useful there.

    I apologize for rambling, but touches upon so many things, development patterns and movement through the built environment. Hope people become increasingly curious about it.

    1. i just don't like the gravy

      Look to “permaculture” and the associated terms for a good introduction to the subject as applied to agriculture!

  19. Lunker Walleye

    The Monet is so lovely and tiny compared to the Water Lily series which it reminds me of. It’s only about 3′-2″ x 2′-8″ from what I could find. There’s such freedom in the brushstrokes and skill at changing from dark to light.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Looking into that painting, I could almost hear the rain falling on the water. Monet truly is a master.

  20. Benny Profane

    As per the ESPN interview of Biden, well, did you see his press conference today? It’s just downright shocking at this point. The decline by the month and even week is obvious. The G20 participants saw it recently after a year. They were stunned at the decline. This is getting to a crucial stage, and here we are at the beginning of campaign season and Ukraine ready to collapse at any moment. Sign of the cross, looking skyward.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > long transitory

      Darkness visible…

      I keep joking about Jerome Powell’s rubber thumbscrew; no matter how he tightens, the labor market — statistically, at least! — refused to give in to his gentle ministrations. Makes you wonder if there’s some other agenda entirely, or if we’re just looking at executive dysfunction…

  21. Lambert Strether Post author

    Can somebody help me understand what is going on here:

    What on earth is an “inference gaga?” Wikipedia’s text has been picked up elsewhere, unquestioningly, but there’s no definition I can find.)

    It can’t possibly mean “an excessively and foolishly enthusiastic” inference, and in any case that construction is not grammatical. Gaga reminds me of some numeric prefix, like pico- or nano- (or google-), but that would appear in search.

    What am I seeing here? Some weird experiment in semantic transmission?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission

        That’s all fine and dandy, but I can walk away from the TV (I hope*). Somebody quoted Neuromancer recently, and so (?) I thought of this:

        `I was expecting something maybe a little less gone, you know? I mean, these guys are all batshit in here, like they got luminous messages scrawled across the inside of their foreheads or something. I don’t like the way it looks, I don’t like the way it smells…’

        Not sure how to walk away from “luminous messages scrawled across the inside of [my] foreheads.” Left there, presumably, by brainworms…

        NOTE * I need to walk away from doomscrolling and read more books. Perhaps not so easy!

      1. caucus99percenter

        See Lambert below = I’m probably wrong; it’s evidently not just vandalism if it was part of a larger, constructive revision to the article.

    1. Acacia

      A typo, picked up by others who don’t read as closely as you do.

      What till the AIs kick in on this one heh

        1. Acacia

          You are more diligent than I.

          I’ve seen countless errors and a number of instances of outright plagiarism in Wikipedia, but I just leave them all as is. Wikipedia will never be a credible source that you can cite in any professional or scientific writing, because the basic model of having countless, anonymous IP-address editors is hopeless. Moreover, in practice, anything concerned with politics or geopolitics on the Wiki is pretty much spook-adjacent.

          Ergo, I see no reason to waste any time “correcting” their errors.

          If you want a good discussion of a basic topic like analogy, there are much better places to look, e.g., in the history of rhetoric and literary criticism. Of course that means looking at, you know, books, but many are available in digital format.

  22. Geoffrey Dewan

    “Hillary Clinton: MAGA ‘cult members’ need ‘deprogramming’” [The Hill]. CLINTON: “‘Maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members,’ she said in a clip released late Thursday.” • “Formal”? Formal how? Like have a badge sewn on their clothing?

    My guess is she was thinking more Clockwork Orange

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