2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I apologize if this seems a bit thin. I had a bad case of the slows, and now I must go deal with household matters. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Wood Thrush, Parc du Sanctuaire, Drummond, Quebec, Canada. “a-a-iola tzzziiii, a-a-ioli tzzziiii, a-a-iola tzzziiii”. Reads like Joyce. Mrkgnao!

* * *


“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

“Great Moments In The International Rules-Based Order” [Eschaton]. Skipping Sullivan’s doublethinking doubletalk and going straight to Atrios: “This isn’t a defense of Russia. It just isn’t my job to pretend these people don’t just make up whatever happens to be convenient at the moment, and pretend it’s operating according to some noble moral and legal framework. Not the important thing, but there’s this thing about these overcredentialed eggheads genuinely thinking people can’t see what they’re doing. And, since they own the microphones, will misrepresent your criticisms and get away with it.” • It has occurred to me that “Our Democracy” is a lot like “The Rules-Based International Order.” This trope remains evergreen:

“The West Must Defeat Russia” [Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic]. “We need to start thinking not just about helping Ukraine, but about defeating Russia—or, if you prefer different language, persuading Russia to leave by any means possible.” • The plain meaning of “by any means possible” includes nuclear weapons.

“A Bitter Vindication for Ukraine Doves” [Branko Marcetic, Compact]. “Through it all, proponents of peace and restraint and many military experts stressed that an outright Ukrainian victory was highly unlikely, given the imbalance of military power between the two states and Russia’s stark advantages in a war of attrition…. For their efforts, pro-peace and pro-restraint voices were viciously attacked. They were slammed with scurrilous accusations of carrying water for the Kremlin, smeared as propagandists and traitors, charged with secretly supporting Putin’s war, and labeled appeasers no better than Neville Chamberlain in ‘rewarding’ a Hitler-like aggressor. Just recall the hailstorm of invective that rained down upon the group of House progressives who last October issued what one congressional aide accurately called ‘the world’s softest trial balloon about diplomacy.’ ‘Ukraine will win,’ was the incessantly repeated cry justifying this disgraceful behavior, as escalation proponents looked forward to a counteroffensive they were sure would justify this industrial-scale suffering. Well, it’s now five months since the Ukrainians launched their counteroffensive, and what has been the result? In short, it’s been an unmitigated failure.” • One thing is sure: Exactly as with Iraq, everybody who was wrong will be promoted.


Less than a year to go!

* * *

“Oversight Chairman Comer: This Is Evidence Of Biden Family ‘Laundering’ Money From China; ‘Organized Crime'” [RealClearPolitics]. From November 5 because I missed it at the time, and quoting at length:

REP. JAMES COMER: We traced the $40,000 check that Joe Biden received all the way back to that WhatsApp message where Hunter Biden claimed his father was sitting beside him where he was shaking down the Chinese operative. That’s where that $40,000 was triggered.

We — just a few weeks after that text message, that $40,000 landed in Joe Biden’s pocket after the Bidens laundered it. But that money came from China, further evidence that Joe Biden benefited from his family’s influence peddling scheme….

Through it all, we have followed the money. We have done this the right way. We have subpoenaed bank accounts. And now we have enough bank accounts, Maria, where we can actually trace the money.

We can connect the dots, because, as you showed on the screen, with this series of transactions, that’s called money laundering. And this was a very organized criminal enterprise by the Biden family. This wasn’t just some drug addict doing concoctions and making wild transactions. This was very organized.

And the reason they did these complicated transactions was to disguise the source of the revenue and to deceive the IRS from paying taxes. So what you’re going to see in the coming weeks is a lot of loans. Any time the Bidens have money, they’re going to claim it was a loan, because you don’t have to report loans on your taxes.

If you’re the IRS and you’re just looking at someone’s taxes, you would never know that Joe Biden got two checks for loan repayments, $200,000 and $40,000. You wouldn’t know about all the money that we’re going to show that James Biden took in and Hunter Biden took in from loans.

Loans is a way — it’s an integral part of money laundering, where you deceive from the IRS about the revenue you’re taking in. [A]ll we see in the Biden transactions are loans, loans, loans, but you never see where they made any interest payments on loans.

Very seldom do you see where they even made a principal payment on the loans. I think the Biden — the next big question the Biden family, including Joe Biden, is going to have to answer to the American people is, what exactly are the terms of these loans? What type of documentation do you have on these loans?

Were you going to pay these loans back? Were these forgivable loans? Were these grants? If so, in addition to influence peddling, which we have clearly proved the Bidens were doing, they have tax fraud implications with the IRS.

Comer presents a coherent theory of the case without getting wrapped round the axle with rhetoric. Remarkable! The timelines should be interesting.

* * *

“Jen Psaki: Trump Would End Rule Of Law In America, But Sure, Biden Is Three Years Older And Occasionally Trips” [RealClearPolitics]. • I dunno. Maybe some acid would mellow the dude out.

* * *

Cornel West on Gaza:

(However, a socialist should know that the class/humanity dichotomy is a category error. After all, capitalists are human, too; even global capitalists.)

* * *

“Opinion: A third-party run is a risk we can’t afford” [James E. Clyburn, CNN]. “I have served in Congress under five presidents and have known them all. President Joe Biden is among the finest. He has guided this nation with extraordinary skill, deep foresight and abiding decency. His fatherly demeanor and compassionate tone do not engender the attractive headlines and quotable sound bite for which many seem to yearn.” • I’ve gotta say, my own father never sniffed my hair, although his demeanor was otherwise impeccable. I guess I missed out. Perhaps Clyburn’s mileage varies.

* * *

“Post-Election Analysis: Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi” [Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics]. Too much to excerpt (and the aptronymic Trende was, remarkably, a member of VA’s redistricting commission). My takeaway is, to coin a phrase, that “all politics is local”; despite the attempts by the national party apparatchiks to nationalize the elections just past, each state had its own unique factors. Well worth a read, if only to hear a calm voice.

Republican Funhouse

“In protests against Israel, ‘American way of freedom’ is being ‘deeply challenged,’ says author and historian” [FOX]. “‘As an admirer of this country,’ says Guinness, a British national, ‘I think there’s no question most Americans would agree [that] what Americans love supremely is freedom. The American way of freedom coming out of the Hebrew routes in Exodus is a distinctive freedom. And yet it’s been deeply challenged today…. Guinness warns that we are at a crucial time in this country. The division, he says, stems from two competing philosophies: one based on the American Revolution of 1776, the other on the French Revolution of 1789. In his book, ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom,’ Guinness lays out the difference and why we should be concerned. On a recent episode of ‘Lighthouse Faith’ podcast, he said, ‘Ideas like postmodernism, radical multiculturalism, the sexual revolution, the cancel culture, critical race theory, all that stuff — all of those come down from the French Revolution, not the American Revolution. And so you’ve got a deep division about what the country stands for and is today. And it must be resolved.’ Guinness says just like before the Civil War — we cannot stand as a house divided.” • More sugar!

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

* * *

The Wizard of Kalorama™ weighs in:

Obama’s slowly increasing presence in election 2024 gives me the creeps (and I’m sure Joe Biden hears footsteps, at least metaphorically). Of course, I might be reading too much into this; Obama might be billing the DLCC for a nothingburger, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Make hay while the sun shines!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“3.2-The Broken Regime” (podcast) [Mike Duncan, Revolutions]. I finally brutalized Apple’s iPad podcast app into letting me play a single podcast in order (use “Stations”) and so I started listening to Revolutions again. This episode sets the scene for 1789 in France by describing the jurisdictional dysfunction of the Ancien Régime, which may remind readers of our own day. The podcast starts (to personalize) with Cromwell and ends with Lenin (and Duncan’s treatment of the Russian Revolution is very level-headed and fair). One high-level conclusion I draw is that revolutions are not that infrequent. I really can’t recommend this podcast enough. (No substitute for works like The Coming of the Third Reich, because the bandwidth of a book with full scholarly apparatus is so much greater, but for what it is? Superb.)


“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!

* * *

Covid is Airborne

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Or “live with it,” for that matter:

Allen’s views on masks are craven, but he’s right on this.


“‘Smell it down the hallway’: Cruise from hell hit with mix of Covid and gastro” [Newstalk ZB]. “A cruise ship has finally reached port in Australia after its passengers and crew were subjected to two weeks aboard a floating Petri dish of Covid and gastroenteritis…. A 57-year-old passenger told the Advertiser they believed several hundred people could be affected…. If the raw numbers were not horrifying enough, several passengers gave graphic descriptions of the environmental conditions aboard the Grand Princess. ‘We had a man two doors down from us who had Covid and gastro and we didn’t know about it, and you could smell it down the hallway, one passenger told Nine’s The Today Show.” • I don’t know why HICPAC wants to make America’s hospitals like cruise ships, but they do. (Oh, and the article mentions cleaning. Nothing about ventilation, which is odd, since #CovidIsAirborne).

“Something Awful”

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

* * *

Elite Maleficence

“Recommendations for HICPAC” [People’s CDC]. “Over 900 occupational safety, aerosols science, public health, and medical experts have written to new CDC Director Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH, informing her that CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) must correct their review on COVID infection control measures to reflect the science of aerosol transmission through inhalation and their decision-making process must include patient advocates, infectious disease transmission scientists, aerosols scientists, healthcare personnel (providers and other frontline workers such as cleaning crews), union representatives, and occupational safety and health experts. HICPAC is a CDC committee that oversees policies and protocols on the prevention of infectious diseases in healthcare settings.” • Well worth a read.

“Is Nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 Still Worth Preventing?” [JAMA]. • Wrong question. The right question is: “Is Infection Control Worth Preserving as a Profession?”

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, November 6:

Lambert here: Cases up, just in time for Thanksgiving (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition).

Regional data:



From CDC, November 11:

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

From CDC, October 28:

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, November 4:

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

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


Bellwether New York City, data as of November 13:

A definite decrease. Should be up in two weeks, though! (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 4:

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, November 6:

-1.4%. But bouncing around. (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, November 4:

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

From CDC, traveler’s data, October 23:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, still from November 2:

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance. This variant chart has not been updated, which makes me wonder if CDC is gaming the data, and BA.2.86 is worse than we think.


Total: 1,181,872 – 1,181,863 – 1,181,620 = 9 (9 * 365 = 3285 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, November 12:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Economic Optimism: “United States Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The RealClearMarkets/TIPP Economic Optimism Index rose to 44.5 in November 2023, the highest in seven months, from a twelve-year low of 36.3 in October. Still, the index has now been in negative territory for 26 consecutive months.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 1:52:13 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • The goat sacrificers are going to defile the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Rapture Index is down? I hardly had them in the contrarian box! UPDATE I guess the indexing lags. I can’t recall a jump of two, and if Date Settings hadn’t been down one, it would have been three!

News of the Wired

“Terry Pratchett and the Maggi Soup Adverts” [Stuffed Crocodile]. Pratchett: “There were a number of reasons for switching to Goldmann, but a deeply personal one for me was the way Heyne (in Sourcery, I think, although it may have been in other books) inserted a soup advert in the text … a few black lines and then something like ‘Around about now our heroes must be pretty hungry and what better than a nourishing bowl’… etc, etc. My editor was pretty sick about it, but the company wouldn’t promise not to do it again, so that made it very easy to leave them. They did it to Iain Banks, too, and apparently at a con he tore out the offending page and ate it. Without croutons.”

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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 WB:

WB writes: “Grasses emergent in a cloudy pond.”

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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. ExCalifornian Freeatlast

    Climate hypocrisy.
    All new cars in California must be electric by 2035.

    Meanwhile, Govenor Newsom’s energy regulations have increased overseas oil imports to the state and oil tankers now emit more than twice what California cars do.


    “The Governors latest moves to reduce production and require larger setbacks for existing production wells will further decrease production and require the State to increase its monthly imports resulting in expenditures approaching a whopping $90 million EVERY DAY for foreign countries to support our infrastructures.”

    His funders and puppet string puller pals, the Gettys, they get to keep pumping and profiting at higher prices. No oil extraction tax either.

  2. Samuel Conner

    > “without croutons”

    I suppose that it is a mark of my cultural imbecility that I have never read a book by Terry Pratchett; the closest I have got is numerous brief but hilarious snippets, mostly (I think) encountered in NC posts.

    I wonder what he would have made of the human race’s response to the CV pandemic.

    1. LaRuse

      I came late to Prachett, too, only being introduced through the young adult-novels of the Tiffany Aching branch of the Discworld books when a friend recommended those books to my then pre-teen daughter. I fell hard for the Granny Weatherwax and the magic of the Discworld universe, so I started reading older Discworld books later. If you read nothing else of the Discworld, I highly recommend the Tiffany Aching books. There are only 5, and two are short enough they fit into one “standard sized” hardback. They are funny, poignant, have the best fictional take on magic that I know of, and are much better than the Harry Potter books (which I also enjoyed, too, don’t get me wrong).

      1. Mark Gisleson

        [Ahem] Seems a bit remiss of you not to mention that there are FORTY-ONE [41] Discworld novels!

        That’s either terrifying or a big plus for most folks. I’ll probably binge up and read them all some day (longevity permitting). I know I’ve read far worse but I’ve heard rumors that there are more than a few puns in these books. Sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone but definitely another deterrent for me.

        1. LaRuse

          That’s why I recommend the the Tiffany Aching arc. Only 5 books, easy and mostly fluffy reading, and a satisfying conclusion. Even if you never read another DW book, you get a complete story arc and while the rest of the Discworld lore makes those books richer, you miss very little for not having read all 41 other books (which I haven’t).

      2. Skip Intro

        NC discoverers of Discworld would also do well to look into Going Postal and Making Money, which develop MMT organically, while also savaging the world of finance and gold bugs.
        Someone should do an article…

        1. Skip Intro

          For Lambert, Vimes and Vetinari appear in these, but the main character is a reformed con man specializing in financial fraud, Moist von Lipwig.

    2. fjallstrom

      I don’t know what he would do with a pandemic, but “Only you can save Mankind” is written in response (and featuring) the Desert Storm war propaganda.

      Highly recommended. Take a guess what the aliens call themselves.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Big scifi fan and I’ve listened to the Pratchett recommendations with interest over the years, but haven’t gotten around to reading anything. Mostly because I can’t get past the superficial similarities with Piers Anthony, who I have read, albeit decades ago – they both wrote a lengthy series of dozens of comedic fantasy novels. Even my teenaged self thought Anthony was just another Tolkien ripoff, except with incredibly bad puns, and I quit after one book.

      Has anyone read both, and is Pratchett a little more sophisticated than Anthony?

      1. LilD

        No, not really. Lots of puns, some of which are funny

        I’m a dad joke kind of guy and silly by nature but I find pratchett a bit tedious.

        However he has pretty good social insights and, assuming we have much civilization remaining in a couple of centuries, will probably be read and studied.

      2. Chet G

        I’ve read both authors, and I believe Pratchett to be the better writer with more original ideas (and humor). That said, I prefer (roughly speaking) the first half of the Discworld novels to the later ones.

    4. Tom B.

      Re crutons – Anyone know what editorial atrocity prompted Iain (M?) Banks to perform this public act of bibliophagy?

  3. Samuel Conner

    > The goat sacrificers are going to defile the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Rapture Index is down?

    Hmmm; might be creeping Preterism among the Index managers. That’s a slippery slope.

    1. griffen

      Yeah I think (other opinions may vary) must have that index on an auto pilot setting or such…CNBC was running a bit this afternoon on just how much the interest payments are increasing on outstanding US Treasury debt securities. I caught it half way through the short discussion so my halted conclusion is “it must be a high amount and going higher still”.

      Seems like a pattern is developing…Turn the machines back on! ( to steal a timely quote from “Trading Places”, when the Duke brothers realize they’ve been had ).

      1. ThirtyOne

        According to The AI Rabbi:
        The “Parah Adumah” or the “Red Heifer” is a unique commandment found in the Torah, specifically in the book of Numbers (Bamidbar) chapter 19. According to this commandment, a red heifer without any blemish or defect is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered. Its ashes are then mixed with water and used for the purification of individuals who have come into contact with a dead body.

        The purpose of the Parah Adumah is to provide a means of purification for those who have become ritually impure through contact with death. The ashes of the red heifer are considered to have a purifying effect, allowing individuals to regain a state of ritual purity.

        It is important to note that the laws regarding the Parah Adumah are highly specific and detailed, and they are not currently practiced due to the absence of a red heifer meeting the necessary requirements. The ashes of the last red heifer were used during the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and since then, we have been awaiting the arrival of a new red heifer to fulfill this commandment.

        The significance of the Parah Adumah extends beyond its practical application. It serves as a reminder of the importance of purity and the need for spiritual cleansing. It teaches us that even though we may encounter impurity in our lives, there is always a path to purification and renewal.

        While we may not fully understand the reasons behind the laws of the Parah Adumah, we trust in the wisdom of the Torah and its commandments. As Jews, we strive to follow the teachings of the Torah and fulfill its commandments to the best of our ability, even if we may not fully comprehend their underlying reasons.

        “REBBE.io is an artificial intelligence tool and is not a substitute for personal guidance from an actual Orthodox Rabbi; it may not always provide accurate or halachically correct answers.”

      2. The Rev Kev

        A guy was busted several weeks ago trying to get a goat up to that Mosque so the snark is literally true. Imagine some guy trying to sneak a goat into the Vatican so he can slash its throat on the marble floors as an equivalent. And the Red Heifers? I read that they are being imported – from Texas.

      3. Samuel Conner

        Haven’t read that part of Leviticus in many years, but I think that goats do play an important part in ancient Israelitish tabernacle/temple rites.

        [consults Google]

        Dang! There is goat sacrifice, and it’s a very important ritual in ancient Israelitish “liturgical calendar”, the Day of Atonement.

        1. playon

          My dad used to attempt to sing the old Jewish (Yiddish?) song “An Only Kid” so yeah goats were/are definitely a thing.

            1. Samuel Conner

              Thank you. That song seems poignantly apposite to the present moment.

              Perhaps a year from now many people and circumstances in the world will have changed, hopefully for the better.

    2. Samuel Conner

      For a laugh, I checked with Google to see how serious a concern the problem of “creeping Preterism” is among believers in futurist eschatology.

      Turns out the term does not exist on the internet, until now. 2:00PM Water Cooler on 13 Nov 2023 is the sole hit.

  4. Feral Finster

    ““The West Must Defeat Russia” [Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic]. “We need to start thinking not just about helping Ukraine, but about defeating Russia—or, if you prefer different language, persuading Russia to leave by any means possible.” • The plain meaning of “by any means possible” includes nuclear weapons.”

    Applebaum and her fellow neocons would gladly annihilate 99% of life on earth, as long as they were granted unfettered dominion over whatever was left.

    Actually, I am too kind. Applebaum, Boot and those like them would annihilate 99% of life on earth simply to prevent someone else from assuming hegemony.

      1. pjay

        I watch the evening network news nightly (usually NBC) just to check the current propaganda pulse, and I’ve noticed the same thing. There is still the obligatory mention of the Israeli victims of Oct. 7 nearly every night, but more and more of the newscast has been coverage of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinians. Reports including Israeli spin and talking points are often “balanced” by accounts showing massive destruction, death, and grief in Gaza.

        I agree that this slippage from the usual full-spectrum ideological dominance is interesting. I wonder if it will have any effect at all on our completely bought and paid for political class? (Brother West excepted of course – preach it, brother!)

        1. rowlf

          The flag of NPR seems to point pro Palestinian. I have been very surprised how they go after Israeli interviewees.

          If you’ve lost NPR… ?

    1. GW

      Long ago I concluded that Applebaum is motivated by anti-Russian hatred. In that respect, she’s practically the Joseph Goebbels of our times. I haven’t read her Russia related articles for years. Nauseating.

      1. The Rev Kev

        She shares a lot in common with Victoria Nuland then but the later seems to suffer from Granddaddy issues. Applebaum has her own issues.

    2. Camelotkidd

      “One thing is sure: Exactly as with Iraq, everybody who was wrong will be promoted.”
      Advocating war never goes out of style and it’s certainly good for you career trajectory
      I’m still gobsmacked by how the neocon’s deployed Russia-gate to stampede liberals into the new Cold War against Russia

    3. VietnamVet

      Anne Applebaum is peak Balkan War Mongering. With the collapse of sovereign States and the rise of the Great Vampire Squid that spans the globe, this is in a new Dark Age. Russia is just as neoliberal as the other Empires. China closed down “Zero-COVID” to keep economy perking along and killed two million in two months. This is universal ethnic genocide. The victor is whoever kills all the military age males on the other side. Corporate Moguls are simply trying to control the slaughter and avoid the nuclear holocaust which will make the world uninhabitable for all humans. This is War Profiteering on the Brink.

      The only alternative is government by and for the people, a 75% tax on income and capital gains, an armistice and a DMZ, a prohibition of war propaganda, and peace.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        She and the awful Tim Snyder have been on a tear of late, resurrecting discredited historical theories in bad books seemingly meant to give some ‘intellectual’ veneer to the propaganda project which aims to have American liberals associate ‘Russian’ with ‘evil’.

        I remember a talk Snyder gave in which he called Bill Clinton (!) a leftist. That was all I needed to know to consider reading anything he wrote as opposition research.

        I think I’ll look into the respected German journals of the 30’s in search of a parallel for such apologia as appears in the Atlantic.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Eschew the lawyers, just write a name on a piece of paper, hand it to me, I’ll hand you a piece of paper with a name on it, and then we’ll never ever talk about this again. Especially not around lawyers.

      I’m envisioning this conversation taking place on a train. Since I’m almost six foot you’ll have to be Danny DeVito.

    2. Retired Carpenter

      I wonder if the (paraphrased) quote: ‘I’ve never wished anyone ill, but I look forward to reading some obituaries with great pleasure‘ could be grounds for legal action. My guess, in these degenerate times, is “probably yes!” Could you please check w/ your lawyer?
      Retired Carpenter

      1. ambrit

        Dear Retired Carpenter, do give my regards to the Walrus. (And watch out for the dreaded blue oysters!)
        As for ‘legal actions’ of all sorts, I generally refer to the dialogue between two Athenians meeting in the agora:
        “Well Philagyrios, who are you suing now?”
        “Who, me? I have been at the farm this spring and am suing no one.”
        “Oh alas, you sue no one and call yourself a Greek?”
        Thus do Empires decay and fall.

  5. Tom Stone

    A book recommendation “Planta Sapiens” by Paco Calvo.
    A look at whether plants exhibit Intelligence and/or Consciousness.
    It’s a definite maybe, but the evidence is well worth a look.

  6. Feral Finster

    ““A Bitter Vindication for Ukraine Doves” [Branko Marcetic, Compact]. “Through it all, proponents of peace and restraint and many military experts stressed that an outright Ukrainian victory was highly unlikely, given the imbalance of military power between the two states and Russia’s stark advantages in a war of attrition…. For their efforts, pro-peace and pro-restraint voices were viciously attacked. They were slammed with scurrilous accusations of carrying water for the Kremlin, smeared as propagandists and traitors, charged with secretly supporting Putin’s war, and labeled appeasers no better than Neville Chamberlain in ‘rewarding’ a Hitler-like aggressor. Just recall the hailstorm of invective that rained down upon the group of House progressives who last October issued what one congressional aide accurately called ‘the world’s softest trial balloon about diplomacy.’ ‘Ukraine will win,’ was the incessantly repeated cry justifying this disgraceful behavior, as escalation proponents looked forward to a counteroffensive they were sure would justify this industrial-scale suffering. Well, it’s now five months since the Ukrainians launched their counteroffensive, and what has been the result? In short, it’s been an unmitigated failure.” • One thing is sure: Exactly as with Iraq, everybody who was wrong will be promoted.” [emphasis mine]

    Unless and until those responsible face very real and very personal consequences, such abominations will only continue. I note in particular, that the architects of the War On Iraq both in and out of government are to this day regularly hailed as Serious Thinkers and Foreign Policy Heavyweights, even though precisely none of their rosy public predictions came to pass. (I suspect that in private many knew what would happen and did not care.)

    Meanwhile, those urging restraint were cast into Outer Darkness, even as events proved more disastrous than even the worst naysayers feared.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Biden money laundering

    I really wish I could find the video I’m thinking of again, and I probably first saw it after it was linked to here. It was from 2019 or 2020 I believe, and it was of a mid-ranking Chinese official giving a talk to a Chinese audience. The official mentions that China does not really want Trump to be president again because he is volatile and difficult to predict. Biden, on the other hand, well China knew how to deal with Biden, he said with a knowing look to the audience who responded with laughter. I believe info from Hunter’s laptop regarding his Chinese business dealings was already public at the time, which may be what prompted the knowing look and laughter,

    Granted, it was a midlevel official and not Xi giving the speech, but my guess is it wouldn’t have made it on to youtube if China didn’t want it there. And I was also depending on a translation as I don’t speak Chinese. But it was a fairly long talk and not just a soundbite. I was able to find it once on youtube after the original view, but I haven’t been able to locate it again despite using everything I can think of to search for it. Could be youtube’s search algorithm is crapified (extremely likely), or maybe China really didn’t want it there and had it taken down somehow.

    Does anyone else remember seeing this video, and have any idea how to find it?

  8. Screwball

    “Jen Psaki: Trump Would End Rule Of Law In America, But Sure, Biden Is Three Years Older And Occasionally Trips”

    Hillary was on The View last week saying pretty much the same thing. So I assume this will be the narrative for and until the election. This will be the most important election EVER once again (if it is Trump vs. whoever). The narrative will be fear, and it’s already working.

    For example, from a PMC friend;

    He will do what he will do when he gets elected: destroy the government bureaucracy, fill the jobs with loyalists, deputize the military to act as police, gut the judiciary, suspend the Constitution, and eventually cheer while MAGA militias murder people who look like they might be Democrats, perhaps starting with college campuses in small Midwestern cities.

    This caused quite a stir. Some called it hyperbole and over the top. Those who did were ripped to shreds because they didn’t understand this would be the end of the world as we know it. Fascist authoritarian takeover of America is what happens if you don’t vote Blue to save democracy, don’t you know. They have a hard time finding enough words to describe how bad it will be.

    I wonder how stressful living is for those people? To live in constant fear and doom because of some loudmouth hustler they think is going to take over the world. I see Trumps sister died. I’ll bet it won’t take a day before they are convinced Trump himself did it. After all, anything bad that happens in this world is his fault.

    What a world we live in.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Stressful? Maybe. But I think there’s a lot of comfort in that line of thinking. It allows them to neatly cleave the world into good vs. bad and handwave away any part their “good” side has in creating the evil. It also gives an easy explanation for anything and shields from any criticism or even critical thinking. It may cause stress, but I think a lot of those folks wouldn’t have it any other way.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        yep, Dr John…its like a secular version of the fundy thumper people, pining away for amageddon so they can fly up nekkid with jesus and watch all us bad folks writhe in nuclear fire.
        you might think that this would be a terrible way to live…but to them, it aint.
        it, rather, provides a smug comfort.

        its becoming more and more difficult to stave off that ol misanthropy.

      2. Screwball

        That’s a great point. I don’t know what makes these people tick, but I do know there is NO critical thinking. You may be on to something.

    2. NYMutza

      The New York Times recently ran a story that explained in great detail the changes Trump would make to immigration. There would be “vast” camps established to hold undocumented immigrants prior to deportation. Immigration from largely muslim countries would be banned entirely. The National Guard would be deputized to round up “illegal” immigrants nationwide. Entire communities and large sectors of the economy would be greatly disrupted. And so on. Fear mongering. Trump as the very essence of evil. Only Joe Biden as POTUS can save us all from doom.

      1. marym

        The NYT article has a paywall, but summaries of it indicate it was based on interviews with Trump advisors, including Stephen Miller, who has re-tweeted links to the NYT article. It isn’t “fear mongering” to quote what people say they will do if they get back in power.

        (Which is not to say that Biden or some other Democrat wouldn’t turn around and do some of that anyway, as seen in iterations of “babies in cages”)

    3. marym

      It’s a 900+ page book, and probably phrased in somewhat more stately language, but some of what the PMC friend describes seems to be part of the plan. Also, Trump’s response to violence or threats by people who consider themselves his followers hasn’t been to criticize or disavow it.

      Table of contents
      Summary from an unsympathetic perspective

      1. lambert strether

        I need to grapple with this. There’s certainly an admixture of downright Hofstadter-type nastiness, but I read it as blowback from Trump ordering troops out of Syria and then nothing happening; plus the role of The Blob in RussiaGate.

        Clearly the Augean stables need to be cleansed. It’s a shame liberal Democrats won’t do it. So who else?

        1. ambrit

          The problem with the Augean stables analogy is that the task was carried out by a prototypical “Strongman” (Heracles,) at the invitation of the stable’s ‘owners.’
          The very last thing America needs is someone who will make Amtrak run on time.

    4. The Rev Kev

      I’ve got an idea. If there are so many people that think this way, then now is the time to cash in with a book, specifically a novel. Have some feral writer come up with this novel as a sort of vision of America in 2025 after the election of a fascist female named Frump. I know the name is crude but these PMC types are not into being subtle. Have stories of them being rounded up and being put into FEMA camps and the Constitution being suspended. Hillbillies running Congress and people’s SUVs being seized who oppose Frump. They would lap it up and the Daily Kos would be in ecstasy over this vision. But more important, imagine the money to be made!

    5. notabanker

      If I was a diehard blue PMC’r that was all in on Biden with a serious case of TDS, I would be legitimately worried as well. What they don’t realize, is that one way or the other, the gig is going to be up, and Trump may be the very least of all evils. If you don’t believe me, just count how many times you hear, ‘we need to control the things we can control’. That is a tacit admission that things are FUBAR, but it’s someone elses problem to figure out because we are helpless.

      I see this in C-level execs, they are steaming full speed ahead knowing that Israel is a huge mistake, Ukraine is unwinnable, healthcare is beyond redemption and offshoring is going to to have ramifications. It doesn’t matter. There is an irrational belief that it is all going to work out OK because it always does, and “I” need to have a seat when the music stops.

      The “leadership” of this country, whether political or corporate, have been kicking the can down the road to continue the looting, and they are running out of road. They should be very scared. They had their chance to take the blowback and deal with it in 2007/8. We are now well past the point of no return.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > we need to control the things we can control’.

        It’s like the Serenity Prayer without the Serenity and for good reason:

        God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

        The wisdom part is lacking, plus the courage, plus the ability to accept.

        1. Steve H.

          I have experienced more than one person substituting ‘control’ for ‘change’ in the Prayer.

          A remnant of hubris that can tumble out in the wash. Like a ‘controlled’ flight into terrain.

    6. Pat

      I have been trying to see the amusing stupid human side of the news these days. I thought it was healthier than my other reaction. The irrational fear that is exhibited by so many about Trump is rife with black humor.
      I don’t know which is more amusing that the fears exhibited by these people show that they think the President has much more power than any Democrat has ever even attempted to do for good. Or the tacit acknowledgment that Republicans have a better grasp of congressional power and they can block Presidential initiatives and actions and the Democrats cannot. Does put a whole new spin on all those wonderful things liberal Obama wanted to do that the big bad Republicans wouldn’t let him do. ( But he sure was able to cage migrants before Trump got into office…)
      The reality is that as bad as Trump supposedly was Biden is arguably as bad or worse. (And I am one of those contrarians who believe that when this decade is looked back on in ten or twenty years it will be Biden and the Democrats who are considered dangerously corrupt and incompetent fascists.) And clearly in trying to protect their turf, Democrats are actively working to weaken or destroy many civil rights as well.

    7. ashley

      project 2025 is no joke, and i suggest you look it up. doesnt matter if its trump or another candidate for the republicans, its their plan if they come into power. the dems are atrocious, dont get me wrong, but the republican plans are even worse.

      its is long past time for a third party. if there were ever to be a year for it, a trump v biden rematch would be the year.

  9. Tom Stone

    In regard to the Biden Family corruption I read everything up to the recent 700 page document drop and the money laundering was not sophisticated, onelook at the Bank records and it was right there.
    The other scam is something I ran across decades ago ( I taught skip tracing and asset location in the days before Computers becoming common).
    You set up a Business and give it a name such as Bohai Harvest, hire a few relatives of someone you wish to perform a kindness for and give them corporate credit cards.
    Which they use for business purposes such as buying Taylor Swift concert tickets, meals at the 4 seasons, vacations and so on.
    And the Biz pays those charges without any questions.
    There’s no need to declare any of that income, as Jim and Sara Biden learned some years ago.
    Joe shared a Credit Card with Hunter while he was VP and afterward, which seems odd to me since Hunter was a full blown alcoholic and crackhead at the time…
    The whole thing was straight up influence peddling combined with amateurish money laundering.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And yet we keep being told there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever, and the whole thing is a nothingburger. And this despite Biden bragging on video about having the prosecutor of Ukraine fired on his say so, and then sending a billion their way once the deed was done.

      The constant and full court press gaslighting on this issue really is quite maddening. I never thought I’d see anything like this kind of doublespeak in the US – just blatant lying when the evidence to the contrary is right in front of everyone’s face.

    2. lambert strether

      What boggles my mind, besides the incredible grubbiness, is the small scale. The Clintons worked their magic on a much bigger canvas. But it doesn’t take much to buy anyone with “Biden blood.”

      1. Wukchumni


        It is high time for Joe & Hunter to appear on TV and give a check’ers speech.

        ‘We received a check for $40k, and the kid likes it so much, we decided we’re gonna keep it’

        1. ambrit

          Well, “Creepy” Joe is a plain cloth coat Republican. If he’s wearing anything under that coat is another matter entirely.

      2. Pat

        I wonder if this is a case of scale being based on what you came from. The Clintons were in executive offices for Governor and then President, both of which offer larger scale opportunities to sell influence and results. In Congress you are one of many. Joe may have had a little more to offer between banking contacts and his committees, but he had little real power to unilaterally “influence” things and outcomes. Once he became VP he had more influence and thus had more to offer. But his process was baked in from decades of being small potatoes.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I taught skip tracing and asset location in the days before Computers becoming common

      One of my favorite Elmore Leonard novels, Unknown Man #89, has these skills as a theme! Truly, the Naked Capitalism commentariat is the best commentariat.

      This comment is extremely helpful. If you want to expand on the results of your reading of the document drop, I’m sure many here would appreciate it!

  10. nippersdad

    “Obama’s slowly increasing presence in election 2024 gives me the creeps ( and I’m sure Joe Biden hears footsteps, at least metaphorically).”

    I don’t think Obama’s footsteps are the only ones he hears. Judging from this article today in Politico there is a herd of them following right behind Obama’s. Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, Rahm Emmanuel, The Shrub and both Clinton’s, to be precise. I don’t know what could possibly be in the water up there, but it has to be hallucinogenic if they think that crowd is going to actually help Biden win the White House again.


  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lots of Biden news today: If the Republicans can connect the bank accounts as much as Comer indicates, they have as much information as the Democrats had on Nixon to move forward with formal hearings.

    I note that in neither of Trump’s impeachments did the Democrats have solid evidence of illegality. Both of the impeachments were highly political, which is why they both failed. (I won’t mention the Clinton impeachment because he is a serial rapist, and the less attention the Clintons get, the better.)

    I will note that the U.S. suffers from two serious problems in the setup of the government: (1) terms are inflexible. This means that it is not possible to get rid of someone by a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Instead, as of late, there has to be a sex scandal. At least in this case, money rears its ugly head. (2) the U.S. government is inherently unstable because it is dissolved too often. The House is wholly reelected every two years. That’s a new government every two years. And Americans are propagandized into thinking that Italy and France are unstable…

    Finally, there is Biden the man of endless lying. One lie after another. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word is a lie including “the” and “and.”

    For years, I wondered about a detail in Nicolas Schmidle’s authorized piece in the New Yorker, “Getting Bin Laden,” August 1, 2011:

    The Black Hawk was low on gas, and needed to rendezvous with the Chinook at the refuelling point that was near the Afghan border—but still inside Pakistan. Filling the gas tank took twenty-five minutes. At one point, Biden, who had been fingering a rosary, turned to Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman. “We should all go to Mass tonight,” he said.

    A rosary? A rosary? And I am the Czar of All the Russias. It’s P.R.

    Hey, Joe. All lies all the time. Better sacrilege, please.

  12. XXYY

    … CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) must correct their review on COVID infection control measures to reflect the science of aerosol transmission through inhalation…

    I heard an interesting comment the other day, which I believe was from someone in California’s occupational health and safety division, to the effect that Cal OSHA has jurisdiction for airborne diseases being spread in the workplace, whereas it does not have jurisdiction for diseases spread by fomites. I wonder if this is true in a lot of US states, and I wonder if this explains the CDC’s endless foot dragging on classifying COVID as airborne.

    This explanation would make a lot of sense to me, since the resistance to an airborne classification seems way too vehement and contrary to reality to be naturally occurring, whereas preventing US companies from being on the hook for covid spreading in the workplace is a whole different animal that would justify a lot of lying and skullduggery in high places.

    Anyone else know anything about this?

  13. LawnDart

    Well, I’ve got my excuse to hide from the world for another 7-days, as the 10-day count began last Friday… this I just found out a few hours ago.

    So the sperm-donor to whom I partially attribute my existance landed in the hospital ER via his nursing home with an infection. An unrelated cough was noticed after his hospital admission Friday, he was tested Saturday, and come Sunday… well, no surprise. The nursing-care facility that he was sent from had a handful of covid cases last week, and one the week prior, but they’ve since been forced to convert an entire wing of the facility to covid-care, as the numbers have suddenly exploded.

    While I was in the ER with him, no masks were worn– not one, but for lonely me in my N95, at least until I accidently tore off a strap and rendered it useless. In the nursing home the prior week, with what was one or two known cases, only staff and visitors were wearing masks, but mostly baggy-blues and chin-diapers at that.

    It’s not that many people don’t know that the virus is still out there and that the immediate effects of covid can be bad, it’s just like the many other bad or even evil things in this world: they don’t want to know.

  14. Jason Boxman

    Vermont May Be the Face of a Long-Term U.S. Labor Shortage (NY Times via archive.ph)

    The root of the staffing challenge is simple: Vermont’s population is rapidly aging. More than a fifth of Vermonters are 65 or older, and more than 35 percent are over 54, the age at which Americans typically begin to exit the work force. No state has a smaller share of its residents in their prime working years.

    No mention of COVID, except that there was once a Pandemic; Lots of photos of workers without respirators. Good way to get people you can’t spare out sick, maybe given the population age, dead.

    Hilariously, I found this on Google in 2 seconds: Thousands more than expected died in Vermont during the pandemic. Research points to delayed care, isolation and uncounted Covid deaths:

    Vermont reported almost 3,000 more deaths from 2020 to 2023 than would have been expected were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but less than one-third of those deaths have been directly attributed to the virus.

    But these can’t possibly have any relationship, at least not in NY Times-land.

    1. SG

      Or, as Bill Maher incessantly bleats, “They died with COVID, but that doesn’t mean they died from COVID>.” Every time I hear him say this I’m inclined to want him to die with strangulation.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This doesn’t match age problem. The real problem is Vermont’s population is simply aging. This is more a case of a lack of economic activity out side of a few centers and retirees from New York City, keeping prices “stable”. Starter homes are snatched up.

      When my parents were considering retiring to New England, they realized that if they just accepted not downsizing they could more or less just flip houses from a town in Virginia. The options to downsize would net them like 20K very little because those homes were in demand. They aren’t buying a yacht, but its like the inflation data that include yacht prices going down. The real problem is the homes young people need are unaffordable especially while people eastern Mass are downsizing as they retire.

      What does a lawyer Vermont make? A teacher? An accountant? What engineering jobs are there? The jobs needed to break into the price point are limited, and so people are going to look for less trendy spots.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Meanwhile, people’s will to live in this rapidly deteriorating country continue to wane: A Monster’: Super Meth and Other Drugs Push Crisis Beyond Opioids (NY Times via archive.ph)

    The United States is in a new and perilous period in its battle against illicit drugs. The scourge is not only opioids, such as fentanyl, but a rapidly growing practice that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels “polysubstance use.”

    Over the last three years, studies of people addicted to opioids (a population estimated to be in the millions) have consistently shown that between 70 and 80 percent also take other illicit substances, a shift that is stymieing treatment efforts and confounding state, local and federal policies.

    “It’s no longer an opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Cara Poland, an associate professor at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. “This is an addiction crisis.”

    (bold mine)

    The photo shows a doctor kneeing, wearing a mask of some sort; my guess is that’s actually about TB rather than COVID. Fun times, eh? Oh, later photo, they’re all wearing surgical masks. If it really is TB they’re worried about, good luck with that says I.

  16. nippersdad

    Branko Marcetic appears to be going backward. I am sure it felt good for him to do an “I told you so” column, but it being rife with acceptance of the official narratives does not help his case. Bucha was discredited within a day, and the only humiliation suffered in Russia’s tactical retreat in September of 2022 was how many lives it cost Ukraine to call that a victory; if they had just stayed where they were they could have reinvested that territory without injury. But if you are going to do that you might include all of them. The Goat of Kiev was notable for its’ absence.

    Hate to tell you, Branko, they still won’t love you however much effort you put into it.

  17. nippersdad

    It was hard to read Anne Applebaum’s column for all of the foam falling from her jaws and obscuring it while she was writing. She doesn’t need an editor, she needs a mop.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Lambert often says don’t eat out at a place called Moms. New Rule: If you are going to take an ocean cruise, then don’t take one with a ship that has ‘Princess’ as part of it’s name.

      1. Wukchumni

        When the good ship SS Norovirus popped
        Passengers had the green apple quick step plop
        As they made their way
        Down the narrow hallway

  18. Paleobotanist

    Dear all

    I am asking you for advice. My mother-in-law has just died and I must take the spousal unit (SU) to the funeral. Unfortunately, this means a plane trip. I have not set foot on a plane since the beginning of covid. The SU’s health is very poor and I suspect that this will be the SU’s last chance to see family. Now how not to get covid?

    I have a large supply of close-fitting N95 masks. I know that some people here swear by a nasal spray. I have a xylitol nasal spray. I also have a 5% povidone-iodine spray and a 10% povidone-iodine solution (these must be diluted?). What do people recommend?

    I also have the unmentionable drug but I need to figure out human dosage. Given that horses are more valuable these days than humans to our masters, I am willing to take it if needed, but I need a dosage.

    Can anyone help and I apologize for thread-jacking but I am not looking forward to this trip.


    1. curlydan

      I’d say N95 at all times (or off for very small periods for water/food breaks) on planes. The same holds true for cabs and crowded spaces. You could do a pre- and post-nasal snorts after big events. The main danger probably comes from crowded spaces with a lot of talking–definitely mask there. If you can convince relatives to put in some air purifiers or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, I think it would help. Meals outdoors would help as well, but that’s probably only possible in the deep south at this time of year.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Get yourself a handheld nebulizer and some diluted hypochlorous. Take it with you everywhere and disinfect your nasopharyngeal passages every four to six hours if you’re around unmasked people constantly, or at the very least at the end of a day. Two minutes a pop is good, or at least ten deep breaths if you’re in a bathroom doing it quickly before having to leave.

    3. Skip Intro

      Get nasal saline spray bottles (available in 44ml and 88ml sizes) and add the Povidone Iodine (betadine) solution to get to .5% to 1% concentration. Adding 4.4ml (a bit less than a teaspoon) of 10% solution will get you 1% in the 44ml bottle.

    4. Donna

      If you are looking for human pharmaceutical ivermectin, you can order the appropriate dose from Tennesse. It was legalized there certainly 12 months ago (maybe more). https://www.thedesertreview.com/news/ivermectin-available-over-the-counter-in-tennessee/article_75949fee-c671-11ec-adc6-3348de82376c.html We use a pharmacy we located online. It is a brick and mortar compounding pharmacy. We take ivermectin every Monday and every Monday and Wednesday when exposure is more likely. Ordering from this Tennessee pharmacy is extremely convenient and affordable at least compared with an online pharmacy we used in Florida in the early days. My husband and I have never had Covid unless it has been asymptomatic. My husband was boosted twice in the early days. Me never. We do mask. We do not do air travel or eat in restaurants.

    5. anonymous

      We have been taking the lowly horse paste as there is nothing wrong with it. It does seem to work well as a prophylactic. It’s not difficult to calculate the proper dose as there is a measurement gauge right on the plunger, you just need to calculate your weight and measure accordingly. Somewhere around the size of a pencil eraser is a safe bet.

    6. kareninca

      I haven’t caught covid yet (knock on wood). I am not vaccinated.
      My system for traveling (which I can’t avoid entirely due to elderly parent):

      Xlear nasal spray
      one claritin per day (two, 12 hours apart, on really high exposure days)
      AirTamer (especially for when the security person at the airport asks you to take off your mask or when you need to eat during the flight; no, no-one cares anymore if you wear one, but I do hide mine when I am actually getting on the plane)
      A big blob of horse paste before the trip (not medical advice). My dosing is not precise; I use the horse weight gauge on the tube and then double it.

      I also take nattoserra and low dose methylene blue (this is not medical advice, and methylene blue can interact badly with meds), but those are more for if I do catch it, in order for have it not be so bad.

      Good luck with your trip; traveling is horrible these days.

  19. Wukchumni

    The first and only time I ever encountered ‘Maryland Chicken’ was in Aussie in the 1980’s where it was commonly served in restaurants, and the gist I got was the 2 pieces of chook resembled a map of the state of Maryland, ok, I get it.

    Don’t get me started on fools paying $100k for a menu, though.

    Anyone interested in food as a window to class could do worse than exploring the RMS Titanic. The handful of menus that survived the wreck reveal important differences in the way the ocean liner’s passengers ate. While third-class passengers dined on rice soup, gruel and cabin biscuits (essentially, a stomach-settling hardtack), first-class diners had a panoply of options.

    Now, a first-class dinner menu from the Titanic – from 11 April 1912 – has been sold at an auction held on 11 November at Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes in Wiltshire, England.

    Maryland fried chicken – essentially, pan-fried chicken with a cream gravy – didn’t always need the French accent to appeal to the upper class. In the early 19th Century, fried chicken was squarely a special-occasion dish, frequently cooked by enslaved African American women for wealthy Maryland households.

    The menu sold for £83,000.


  20. Retired Carpenter

    Dear ambrit,
    Many thanks. Conveyed your regards to the Walrus. Here is his reply:
    The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
    To talk of many things:
    Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
    Of cabbages — and kings —
    And why the sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings.'”

    There is much, much more to talk about, such as the significance of a photo of dead Palestinian new-borns making its rounds on alternative news today. Hard to look at. Made an old infantryman tear up.
    Some empires deserve to decay and fall.
    Retired Carpenter

    1. ambrit

      Yes, as is said, “The sun never sets on the English Empire (Under New Management.)”
      And this is odd because it is the middle of the Night.
      Remember when History had been ended? Ah, the bitter sweet smell of Academic Snake Oil!
      Stay safer than safe.

        1. ambrit

          I’m wondering if we will ever discover that a Snark is a Boojum? (And who elected them to Congress in the first place?)

  21. ChrisRUEcon


    There are three types of ads I will actually mute when they come on the TV: gambling ads, crypto ads and cruise ship ads. How in the world this family-blog typhoid-Mary industry has managed to stay afloat during a pandemic is beyond me.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Haaahahah! Poor Clyburn … he must sense his impending irrelevance. No Bernie to shank this time. No concessions to be made. He got his “vanity Veep”, and when Biden loses in ’24, it will probably be close to the end of Clyburn who turns 84 next year. Ladies and gentlemen, The Geronocrats!

      1. chris

        Fellow Chris, I don’t think we can call Biden a lost cause yet. I think the people behind him consider his re-election existential. I think they will do anything to make sure it happens. I think the levels of violence and crude manipulation they will display to accomplish their goals will surprise the Republicans. I know a lot can happen in a year but whether Biden or Trump wins feels like a coin flip right now.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          Thank you, fellow Chris … I know, I know … my wishful thinking ignores that which you and Lambert have reminded me of (via NC), which is that the Dem bench is really that awful, and leaving it as late as they have means that any replacement has a higher probability of being toast, since they’re probably going to be the same on foreign policy anyway.

          But I can’t help myself at times, because the sentiment online is so bad. Just saw something from Al Jazeera yesterday – Michigan has the highest Muslim population in the US, and unsurprisingly, that demographic ain’t to happy with #G3noc1deJ03. Biden can’t afford to lose Michigan.

    2. playon

      Our neighbors went on an Alaska cruise in September – unsurprisingly, the husband came home with COVID, and my brother caught it last week on a visit to New Zealand.

      We haven’t traveled other than in our own car since the pandemic began, but plenty of my friends and family have done so.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Sympathies to them all. But totally unsurprising. Cruise commercials are a form of elite malfeasance – “Everything’s fine!” they say … as the show smiling, maskless people with their children “having fun”. I went on a work trip last week – decided to drive from Chicago to Detroit … LOL. Yeah, I don’t need to be in airports any more than I need to.


  22. elissa3

    Did anybody else get an over-the-top vibe of condescension from that photo of Obama? Or is that his usual default and I just haven’t been paying attention lately.

  23. flora

    re: “The West Must Defeat Russia” [Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic].

    Anne Applebaum, aka, Mrs. Radoslaw (Radek) Sikorski, aka Mrs. (wife of) Polish politician and diplomat. I’m sure Mr. Sikorski is a very nice fellow. He did send a congratulatory twtr note to the US about the NordStream pipeline destruction. (twtr note soon after redacted for some reason.) / ;)

  24. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: The Virginia race

    The bottom line is the Democrats didn’t set the state on fire, but Terry MacAuliffe wasnt on the top of the ticket turning in the usual Clintonista underperformance. The House of Delegates and State Senate makeups were creations of that gubernatorial race, and Youngkin had a huge win two years ago in the sense he defied expectations versus a generic matchup.

    Then you add the redistricting, the simple reality is outside of a completely shut down “democratic environment”, the GOP shouldn’t hold the state wide offices or have anything more than narrow control of one chamber at any time.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs, in Western context, that it is no longer necessary to hire one half of the working class to keep the other half under control.

  25. Vicky Cookies

    I’ve been reading a lot of H.G. Wells of late: his book The Fate of Homo Sapiens as well as his Outline of History, which he wrote to remedy the historical ignorance he perceived in the post-WW1 diplomatic environment. In both, but especially the former, he advises us to view social problems, and especially war, as problems chiefly of surplus population, specifically of surplus young men. This from the perspective of a biologist, which was his training, not a Marxist, an ideology to which he was hostile.

    Admittedly, I am a Marxist, but I think it would be beneficial to ask ourselves, as many young men with no place in the conventional economy die for various causes, why are they ‘surplus’? Surplus as to the needs of whom?

    Just thoughts from some guy reading.


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