2:00PM Water Cooler 11/21/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Western House-Martin, Foz da ribeira de Odeleite, Castro Marim, Faro, Portuga. ‘Call; Flight call.” With various other bonus birds.

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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

“What Antony Blinken’s wince at Biden did and didn’t mean:” [MSNBC]. “Blinken’s apparent pain at his boss’ blunt language has gone viral — inspiring mockery of the Biden administration, and prompting some right-wing commentators to describe Biden’s language as a sign of senility-induced incompetence. … Is Biden’s age a valid concern as he pursues another term in office? Yes. Does that definitively explain his behavior here? No. The simplest explanation is that Biden was being Biden…. First, it’s unclear that Biden’s comment could even be characterized as a gaffe. The question, after all, was whether the president would disavow a view he articulated just a few months ago. Biden knew if he changed his position he would be vulnerable to attacks of inconsistency out of political expediency.” Of course, Biden never should have put himself in that position to begin with, but here we are. More: “Second, even if one assumes that Biden veered from the kind of language his staff advised him to use, anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows that Biden has misspoken, said something off-color, or unexpectedly deviated from talking points for his entire political careerparticularly in the realm of foreign policy.” And: “Blinken’s reaction was funny to witness, a rare example of a seasoned diplomat shedding their poker face. But it doesn’t mean Blinken thought Biden didn’t know what he was doing — he could’ve simply disagreed with the president’s on-the-fly judgment.” • I think the dynamic is that Blinken sees himself as Biden’s minder, and thinks that Biden really, really needs one. And he’s not wrong.

Our Famously Free Press


Less than a year to go!

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“Trump mocks Biden, DeSantis, Haley and Jimmy Carter in front of cheering Iowa crowd” [Des Moines Register]. “Trump, who remains the faraway frontrunner in the Republican primary race, focused the bulk of his speech on President Joe Biden — calling him a ‘stupid person,’ ‘incompetent’ and incapable of representing the U.S. on the world stage amid international crises.” Is he wrong? More: “‘This is not a man who should be running the country,’ Trump said. He also said former President Jimmy Carter — whose wife of 77 years, Rosalynn, entered hospice care Friday — is ‘the happiest person anywhere in this country right now … because his administration looked brilliant compared to these clowns.” Oh, the aghastitude! More: The crowd laughed, then broke into cheers and applause. Trump continued to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on ethanol, mocking his struggle to gain momentum in the race. ‘He’s going ‘whoosh,’ down the tubes,’ Trump said, motioning downwards. The former president also briefly attacked former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, calling her ‘Birdbrain’ and saying she, like DeSantis, was disloyal for running against him. ‘I know her well, she’s not up to the job,’ he said. Trump suggested that with a large margin of victory in Iowa, his challengers would concede and the party could turn their attention and resources to the general election. ‘We have to send a great signal, and maybe these people end it, say ‘it’s over now,” he said. ‘Because we have to focus on Crooked Joe Biden.'” • Trump seems in fine form; no wonder the crowd was cheering (which seemed to disgruntle the headline writer).

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“The Real Reason Why Biden Shouldn’t Drop Out” [The New Republic]. “Nothing in the president’s makeup suggests that he would abruptly jettison his reelection campaign, especially since Hamas’s attack on Israel has further convinced Biden that he has become the world’s Indispensable Man. Every sign emanating from his inner circle and reelection campaign suggests a stubborn refusal to even acknowledge his growing legion of Democratic doubters. But even if Biden were to accept the truth embedded in the polls, as Harry Truman did when he bowed out in 1952, the subsequent multicandidate scramble for the Democratic nomination would create as many (if not more) political problems as it would solve. … If Biden announced on the Monday after Thanksgiving that he would be retiring, it would give 2024 presidential contenders fewer than 100 days to declare their candidacies and define their image before 14 states pick delegates on Super Tuesday, March 5. And 11 other states will be holding Democratic primaries later in March. Organizing a campaign and raising the money at that pace would be gruelling enough. But candidates would also face high-intensity scrutiny from the media and the voters without any benefit from a learning curve. It would be the equivalent of opening a musical on Broadway without a single tryout and just three days of rehearsals. Unless you have run for president or witnessed a campaign close up, you have no idea how daunting it is…. [A]t this point, Biden—despite his obvious flaws as a candidate—is probably the Democrats’ best option for president against Trump. For in politics, it gets late early. And it is, sadly, too late for a compelling Biden replacement.” • Even if, conveniently, there were no contested primaries, and instead a smoke-filled room, the learning curve wouldn’t get any less steep (unless the candidate who emerged was already a deified media figure).

“The Axe Is Sharp” [MoDo, New York Times]. “David Axelrod is not a prick…. ‘I think he has a 50-50 shot here, but no better than that, maybe a little worse,’ Axelrod said.’He thinks he can cheat nature here and it’s really risky. They’ve got a real problem if they’re counting on Trump to win it for them. I remember Hillary doing that, too.’… [Biden] should not indulge the Irish chip on his shoulder. He needs to gather the sharpest minds in his party and hear what they have to say, not engage in petty feuds. If Trump manages to escape conviction in Jack Smith’s Washington case, which may be the only criminal trial that ends before the election, that’s going to turbocharge his campaign. Of course, if he’s convicted, that could turbocharge his campaign even more.” • I’ve read better from MoDo; what “sharpest minds”?

“Kamala Harris Is Biden’s No. 2 Problem” [Peggy Noonan]. “The incumbent is famously, historically unpopular and has been for some time, so it’s not a blip or event-related. He should help his party’s prospects by stepping aside and letting Democrats fight it out. He won’t, we all sense this…. Joe Biden’s main problem, the perception that he is too old for the job, is guaranteed to get worse each day. This makes his vice president more important than vice presidents ever have been. When people consider voting for Mr. Biden for the presidency they’ll know it is likely they’re really voting for Kamala Harris. This will only hurt Democratic fortunes, because she is uniquely unpopular. The practical path would be to make a change that reassures, to a veteran, highly regarded figure in whom people might feel confidence…. With her faith in her charm and ability to be warm and relatable, as they say, she forgot to be modest or to imitate modesty. …. The way to approach the vice presidency is with low-key humility and carefulness. You don’t take the job and shape it to your persona; you take your persona and fit it into the job, which existed long before you and ideally will exist long after.” •

“House GOP’s Biden impeachment effort heads into final stage” [Politico]. “House Republicans are closing in on a make-or-break moment in their drive to impeach Joe Biden, with GOP centrists remaining highly skeptical of the effort even as its leaders look to decide in January on whether to file formal articles against the president. Even with a planned deposition of Hunter Biden in the coming weeks, the party remains in a tense spot, with centrists signaling that the party’s investigation hasn’t yet met their bar for an impeachment vote and the right flank ratcheting up pressure to move forward. It’s all building to a decision on whether to pursue impeachment articles as soon as January. Republicans would likely accuse the president of improperly using his political office to further his family’s business dealings — though they haven’t yet found a smoking gun to that effect and some members acknowledge that seems increasingly unlikely. Impeachment advocates are still probing other issues as well, such as the federal investigation that resulted in a failed plea deal for Hunter Biden. ‘We get those depositions done this year and … then we can decide on whether or not there’s articles,’ House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told POLITICO, predicting that decision would happen early next year. But a familiar obstacle for Republicans stands in their way here, too: their thin majority.” • The “smoking gun” is that Hunter — dear Hunter! — is swanning about taking his Dad’s name in vain, and Dad isn’t doing anything, even as Hunter’s take is trickling into the bank account of anyone with “Biden Blood.” Why the heck is a clown like Gym Jordan in charge here, instead of Comer, who’s actually building a case using bank records?

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“Vivek Ramaswamy struggles to gain traction with Iowa Republicans as critics question his path ahead” [Associated Press]. “While Ramaswamy is packing his schedule with stops across Iowa, including multiple events on Tuesday and Wednesday, he has failed to move up in the 2024 Republican primary race and is increasingly at risk of becoming an afterthought. He is polling in the mid to high single digits and has left critics asking what his endgame is or if he is staying in the race only to boost former President Donald Trump…. Ramaswamy’s campaign said in early November that it would spend up to $8 million in advertising through the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15. So far, the campaign has booked just $162,000 in broadcast and digital ads for the rest of the Iowa campaign, according to data from the media tracking firm AdImpact. Haley and her allied super PAC have reserved nearly $3.5 million over that same period, while DeSantis and his allied super PAC have booked more than $3.3 million.” • Hmm.

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“The No Labels party asked its supporters if they would pay $100 to help choose its 2024 nominee” [Associated Press]. “No Labels, a political organization that has alarmed some Democrats with talk of launching a third-party presidential candidate, has contemplated requiring a donation of at least $100 in order to cast a ballot at the group’s upcoming nominating convention, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The idea, which breaks from longstanding norms, would raise a significant hurdle to participating in the democratic process — in this case No Labels’ selection of its potential candidates for president and vice president. Neither the Democratic or Republican parties charge to vote at their conventions, where delegates vote for candidates chosen by voters through primaries or caucuses. The possibility of requiring a donation was included in an internal survey No Labels conducted in September. Screenshots of the survey were provided to the AP by a person who was invited to take it. The survey explored how No Labels should select candidates to run on a bipartisan ‘unity ticket’ if the 2024 election is headed for a rematch between Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. No Labels officials said in a statement Friday that they will not charge delegates.” • So, out of the box, the first thing the problem-solvers come up with is a poll tax. Encouraging!

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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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“Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Michigan home spray-painted with the word ‘Nazis'” [Chicago Sun-Times]. • I condem this anti-semitic act. Sure, Obama’s former chief of staff presided over a torture site at Homan Square that disappeared and tortured a lot of Black people, but he’s no Nazi!


“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

A retrospective:


“Dysregulations in hemostasis, metabolism, immune response, and angiogenesis in post-acute COVID-19 syndrome with and without postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: a multi-omic profiling study” [Nature (Jason Boxman)]. N = 21. From the Abstract: “Collectively, these observations suggest a clear and distinct dysregulation in the proteome, cytokines/chemokines, and sphingolipid levels in [Post-acute COVID-19 (PACS)] patients compared to healthy subjects without any clear signature associated with [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)].” And from the Discussion: “We identified ~ 200 proteins, 11 cytokines and 16–19 sphingolipids with altered levels in previously healthy non-hospitalized PACS-patients up to 18 months after contracting a relatively mild-to-moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection…. It is well-known that COVID-19 infection triggers a hyperinflammatory response during the acute phase of the infection. The majority of COVIDomics studies on patients with acute COVID-19 have shown that a pro-inflammatory and pro-coagulative signature is dominant and probably drives cardiovascular perturbations and complications during ongoing illness…. Our results suggest that alterations in hemostasis and apoptosis might play a key role in the PACS pathophysiology as several proteins involved in platelet activation and coagulation were dysregulated in PACS… These observations are extended in the current study which suggests that patients with PACS exhibit persistent and prolonged immune activation and dysregulation of coagulation pathways that may contribute to symptom perseverance in PACS, even 18 months after a mild acute infection.” • Yikes. The opening tweet of a thread on this article:

Testing and Tracking

“Verily’s COVID Testing Program Halted in San Francisco and Oakland” [KFF Health News]. “Amid fanfare in March, California officials celebrated the launch of a multimillion-dollar contract with Verily — Google’s health-focused sister company — that they said would vastly expand COVID testing among the state’s impoverished and underserved communities. But seven months later, San Francisco and Alameda counties — two of the state’s most populous — have severed ties with the company’s testing sites amid concerns about patients’ data privacy and complaints that funding intended to boost testing in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods instead was benefiting higher-income residents in other communities. People signing up for a test through Verily had to do so online, using an existing or newly created Gmail account; the sign-ups were offered only in English or Spanish; and participants were asked to provide sensitive personal information, including their home address and whether they were managing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity or congestive heart failure, which could expose their data to third-party use…. Verily had two sites in Alameda County, and one was shuttered by May. The second, located at an Oakland church, closed in August and is set to reopen using a different testing vendor. Alameda County testing director Dr. Jocelyn Freeman Garrick said that while the Verily sites helped the county reach testing goals in terms of raw numbers, they were phased out because of long wait times of a week or more for results, and because the tests were not reaching the residents in greatest need.” • Nice company. No doubt results like this are why CDC picked them over Biobot for wastewater.


“Association of COVID-19 with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in children aged 0–5 years in the USA in 2022: a multicentre retrospective cohort study” [Family Medicine and Community Health]. N = 1.7 million children 0–5 years of age. From the Abstract: “COVID-19 was associated with a significantly increased risk for RSV infections among children aged 0–5 years in 2022. Similar findings were replicated for a study population of children aged 0–5 years in 2021. Our findings suggest that COVID-19 contributed to the 2022 surge of RSV cases in young children through the large buildup of COVID-19-infected children and the potential long-term adverse effects of COVID-19 on the immune and respiratory system.” • Wait. You’re telling me it wasn’t “immunity debt”?

“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: Lots of new results today, most up, starting with wastewater. (The one I worry about the most is ER visits, since I think that data is hard to game, and who wants to go to the ER, anyhow?) I think it’s time to send the relatives those clippings you saved on brain damage (also, of course, the 2022 clippings: here, here. And the 2020 one).

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, November 20:

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:


• “Data Tracker” [Pandemic Mitigation Collaborative]. Not sure about this one, since I can’t find the methodology. Nevertheless:

That 1 in 63 people will be infected in November is an eye-catching figure. A first-class Acela car holds 44 people. A Greyhound bus, 52. A 737-400, 188.


NOT UPDATED 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 11:

Lambert here: Slight increases in some age groups, conforming to wastewater data. 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 17:

Slight rise. (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 11:

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?


From Walgreens, November 20:

0.5%. Decline arrested. (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 11:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). 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 30:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, October 30:

BA.2.86 really rolling now among travelers, so it has to be getting loose. Variant mavens are worried:

No sign of JN.1 (a more evasive subvariant of BA.2.86).


Total: 1,182,945 – 1,182,259 = 686 (686 * 365 = 250,390 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 18:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

The Economy: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to -0.49 in October 2023, the lowest in seven months, compared to -0.02 in September.”

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Lambert here: There are two Elon Musk stories going on simulaneously (or, to put it more pointedly, liberal Democrats are attacking Musk on two fronts). The first front is Media Matters’ claim that X (formerly known as Twitter), placed ads for major advertisers next to Nazi-adjacent accounts). The second is that Musk is himself anti-semitic, based on one of his tweets. We cover both below, in that order.

Tech: “Musk’s X sues liberal advocacy group Media Matters over its report on ads next to hate groups’ posts” [Associated Press]. “X’s complaint claims that Media Matters manipulated algorithms on the platform to create images of advertisers’ paid posts next to racist, incendiary content. The juxtapositions, according to the complaint, were ‘manufactured, inorganic and extraordinarily rare.’ It says Media Matters did this by using X accounts that just followed X users known to produce “extreme fringe content” and accounts owned by X’s major advertisers. This, the complaint says, led to a feed aimed at producing side-by-side placements that Media Matters could then screen shot in an effort to alienate X’s advertisers. Media Matters said Monday that it stands by its reporting and expects to prevail in court.” • David Brock’s Media Matters doesn’t do reporting, any more than the DNC press office does reporting. For skeptics, here is the complaint. X CORP., a Nevada corporation, Plaintiff, v. MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA, a Washington, D.C. non-profit corporation, and ERIC HANANOKI:

The irony here is that Twitter’s curation is one of its strongest features (not really shared by other social media platforms). So it makes sense that former Clinton enforcer David Brock would try to destroy it.

Tech: “Why Elon Musk Is Going ‘Thermonuclear'” [RealClearPolitics]. “The lawsuit is in response to a Media Matters report last week that X, the Musk-owned social media platform formerly known as Twitter, was placing ads for major brands such as Apple and IBM next to ‘pro-Nazi content.’ After some prodding from Media Matters, within a day of their report, a slew of major corporations, such as IBM, Disney, Comcast, Sony, NBC, and Warner Brothers, announced they were pulling ads from X. As part of his announcement, Musk posted a statement making specific allegations that Media Matters technologically manipulated the service to produce the desired juxtapositions of ads and extremist content – and that these contrived ads were seen by virtually no one.” Since Musk, the owner of the platform, has records of every action performed by the Media Matters account, this should not be a hard allegation to prove (modulo discovery). More: “Recall that in 2020, both Facebook and Twitter (before it was owned by Musk) immediately censored the New York Post for reporting the details contained on Hunter Biden’s now-notorious laptop. One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that the reason organizations such as Media Matters are ginning up slurs against Elon Musk is because we are heading into another presidential election.” • It seems obvious to me that liberal Democrats, enamored of/employed by the Censorship Industrial Complex, are outraged that X, owned by Musk, slipped from their grasp (and worse, that Elon Musk aired their filthy laundry with the Twitter Files). Liberal Democrats regard continued embubblement as existential; X threatens that; hence the continued assaults that we see.

“Elon Musk on antisemitic great replacement theory post: ‘You have said the actual truth'” [Forward]. “Elon Musk approved of a social media post that claimed ‘western Jewish populations’ were ‘flooding their country’ with ‘hordes of minorities,’ writing to the user who posted the message, ‘you have said the actual truth.’ The exchange came Wednesday, after a user on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, which Musk owns, shared a video from Stand Up to Jewish Hate, and invited antisemites to express their bigotry ‘to our faces.’ In response, a user whose handle is ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Eric’ posted that Jews are ‘pushing’ a ‘dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.’ He then went on to state that Jews were pushing minorities into Western countries, a conspiracy theory known as the great replacement, which motivated a number of antisemitic and racist attacks, including the October 2018 Tree of Life Massacre.” • The article includes the thread, unlike most of the coverage, and this is an accurate description. I dunno. I should say I have strong priors here, because I saw what the spooks, the press, Parliamentary Labor, and the Israeli Embassy did to Jeremy Corbyn with (false) charges of anti-semitism, and so my hermeneutic, at this point, is to begin with the idea that all such charges are performative and motivated (see above). I do note that “the artist” — who writes a pretty incoherent tweet — doesn’t actually use the phrase “Great Replacement.”

“Why ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt is praising Elon Musk as advertisers flee X over antisemitism” [Jerusalem Post]. “Yet even as companies including IBM, Apple and Disney are pulling their ad dollars in protest, the ADL is continuing to buy ads on X — and Greenblatt has shifted to praising Musk, this time for what he says is a meaningful effort to fight antisemitism. Musk had written another post, saying that two phrases common to pro-Palestinian protests — ‘decolonization,’ and ‘from the river to the sea’ — ‘necessarily imply genocide.’ He added that users would be suspended if they posted ‘clear calls for extreme violence.'” • Accurate. Here is Musk’s tweet:

Then again, Musk’s “truth” tweet was November 15; this is November 17.

“Elon Musk Antisemitic Row: President Biden and VP Kamala Harris join ‘threads'” [Economic Times]. “The move of joining ‘Threads’ comes after the White House commented on recent Elon Musk’s antisemitic controversy where he shared a conspiracy theory on X.” • So now we have Presidents endorsing platforms. Awesome. Because we all know what a fine, upstanding young man Mark Zuckerberg is.

Lambert here: As readers know, my dream is that AI goes through the enshittification cycle with great rapidity and force. From my armchair at 30,000 feet, I don’t believe that AI is going to become a super-intelligence, or anything like it. Silicon Valley can’t even get self-driving cars to work, and surely that’s a simpler problem than artificial general intelligence. Rather, AI will bring about a Philip K. Dick-style dystopia, a world where it’s never possible to reach a human to resolve a problem. For example, consider the following value extraction chain: An AI at the hospital upcodes one of your medical treatments. An AI at the insurance company jacks up your bill. When you complain to the insurance company, your reach an AI, which sends you into an AI-generated fruitless phone-tree. The possibilities are limitless!

Tech: “The Sam Altman drama points to a deeper split in the tech world” [Yahoo Finance]. “What is clear, though, is that the events at Openai are the most dramatic manifestation yet of a wider divide in Silicon Valley. On one side are the ‘doomers’, who believe that, left unchecked, AI poses an existential risk to humanity and hence advocate stricter regulations. Opposing them are ‘boomers’, who play down fears of an AK apocalypse and stress its potential to turbocharge progress. The camp that proves more influential could either encourage or stymie tighter regulations, which could in turn determine who will profit most from ai in the future. OpenAI’s corporate structure straddles the divide. Founded as a non-profit in 2015, the firm carved out a for-profit subsidiary three years later to finance its need for expensive computing capacity and brainpower in order to propel the technology forward. Satisfying the competing aims of doomers and boomers was always going to be difficult.” • As you can see from my comment above, I’m neither a Doomer nor a Boomer. Sadly, I can’t nuke the false binary with another rhyming word. Perhaps “ill-humored”?

Tech: “Microsoft and OpenAI: Navigating a complex partnership post-shakeup” [CTECH]. “Late Sunday night, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman will join Microsoft, where he will head a ‘new advanced AI research team.’ Altman will be joined by former OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who resigned following Altman’s ouster, and a number of other executives and employees who also resigned in protest over the removal of Altman. ‘We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,’ Nadella wrote in a post he published on X (formerly Twitter). Altman responded briefly: ‘The mission continues.'” • Looks like Microsoft is giving Clippy another shot at the Big Time:

Tech: “Exclusive: OpenAI investors considering suing the board after CEO’s abrupt firing” [Reuters]. “Some investors in OpenAI, makers of ChatGPT, are exploring legal recourse against the company’s board, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday, after the directors ousted CEO Sam Altman and sparked a potential mass exodus of employees. Sources said investors are working with legal advisers to study their options. It was not immediately clear if these investors will sue OpenAI. Investors worry that they could lose hundreds of millions of dollars they invested in OpenAI, a crown jewel in some of their portfolios, with the potential collapse of the hottest startup in the rapidly growing generative AI sector.” • See, it’s very important that investors assume no risk. That’s what puts the “venture” in venture capital! I hope they lose all their money, and I hope the stock options of the OpenAI staffers become worthless. AI delenda est.

Lambert bere: Anyhow, the obvious framing is capital: Economic capital (the investors; stock options), social capital (Altman’s very powerful social network, originally based at Y Combinator); and symbolic capital (lanyards at a “hot” startup).

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 21 at 12:31:11 PM ET. Based on what? Iodine futures?

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. Again! [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! •

Photo Book

“Depictions of Eros and Thanatos: Sacred Trees of Shintō Shrines Through the Lens of Ōsaka Hiroshi” [Nippon]. “Since earliest times, trees that grow in forests and on the grounds of Shintō shrines have been the object of worship as protective deities and as the spirits of the dead. Such trees have withstood vicissitudes in the weather and climate year after year and their forms have been molded by centuries of hardship. Some are twisted and gnarled and others have intertwined with other trees until they have become parasites living off each other. Many have grown old, wilted, and died, while others continue to grow, their leaves and branches seemingly stretching heavenward. Humans have interpreted the fates that have befallen trees variously as warnings or as sources of purification and courage.” • For example:

The Gallery

Great composition:

And pardon my ignorance; I had no idea Hopper was operating as late as 1960. This isn’t exactly a period piece, is it?

Class Warfare

News of the Wired

“Knuth Airgaps & Knuth Buffers” [taylor.town]. “Knuth knows how to maintain information hygeine. Knuth is unreachable via digital communication. He airgaps himself from the internet:…. He also maintains airgaps between his machines.” • Awesome! Of course, Knuth has a secretary….

“The Low Down on the Greatest Dictionary Collection in the World” [Atlas Obscura]. “Madeline Kripke’s first dictionary was a copy of Webster’s Collegiate that her parents gave her when she was a fifth grader in Omaha in the early 1950s. By the time of her death in 2020, at age 76, she had amassed a collection of dictionaries that occupied every flat surface of her two-bedroom Manhattan apartment—and overflowed into several warehouse spaces. Many believe that this chaotic, personal library is the world’s largest compendium of words and their usage…. Kripke—”the mistress of slang,” in the words of one colleague—dedicated decades of her life to curating this collection of words, including countless ones we might like to forget. When she passed away without a will, the fate of her overwhelming library, plus a trove of documents on the history of dictionary making, was uncertain. Auctioning it off in lots could have brought the highest bids, but Kripke’s family worked in conjunction with the lexicographic community to preserve what Adams calls “her legacy.” That it was ultimately purchased in total by Indiana University Bloomington, a state university that committed to making the works accessible to the public, seems in keeping with the way Kripke herself viewed the collection, as a resource for the curious.” • So if any of you, readers, have similar collections of whatever sort, don’t take the risk Kripke took!

“How blogging is different from tweeting” [Mark Carrigan]. “It occurred to me recently that I feel extremely differently about ‘outputs’ via Twitter than blogs. I first came across the notion of the ‘ideas garden’ via Doug Belshaw and it suggests a blog can be seen as a place where you help ideas take root and grow. This contrasts with the inherently performative feel of Twitter where the focus on immediate feedback means that individual item becoming a focal point for your reflection. In other words I care about the reaction a tweet gets because it is self-standing and immediately public whereas a blog post is an element of a large whole. It is a contribution to growing my ideas garden, for my own later use and whatever enjoyment others find in it, rather than something I have expectations of receiving a reaction for. The blog itself then comes to feel like something more than the sum of its parts: a cumulative production over 13 years and 5000+ posts which captures my intellectual development in a way more granular and authentic than anything I could manage by myself. Over time I see old posts I’d forgotten about resurfacing as people stumble across them and this long tail heightens my sense of the emergent whole. It’s become an ideas forest which people wander into from different directions, finding trails which I had long since forgotten about and inviting me to explore a now overgrown area to see if I should begin tending to it once more.” • Well put!

* * *

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 AF:

AF writes: “Fall cleanup at mom’s house and she asked me to trim these birch trees. I’ve always enjoyed the colors and textures that naturally occur on the bark, especially this time of year. Pine trees were planted on the north side for winter protection and a perennial bush is filling in the space between.” I will add that birch bark is wonderful for fire-starting, far superior to newspaper.

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    “Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Michigan home spray-painted with the word ‘Nazis’” [Chicago Sun-Times]. • I condem this anti-semitic act. Sure, Obama’s former chief of staff presided over a torture site at Homan Square that disappeared and tortured a lot of Black people, but he’s no Nazi!
    He’s earnest, Rahm.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘and tortured a lot of Black people’

      Shouldn’t that be ‘and tortured a lot of Black folks’?

  2. Samuel Conner

    > airgaps between his machines

    I think I’ve read that airgapped machines can transmit malware, via the speaker of the infected machine and the microphone of the target (though that would seem to require some kind of abnormal/hacked subsystem on the receiving machine to interpret the microphone inputs as system commands.)

    Some years ago I purchased a “USG” USB firewall (from a developer in, I think, NZ), and subsequently misplaced it. I find it interesting that a product like this has not been mass produced. I suppose, though, that if it were, I would suspect that it had a backdoor at the request of the IC.

  3. Jason Boxman

    No sign of JN.1 (a more evasive subvariant of BA.2.86).

    I wish it were so; According to COVID-19 Variant Dashboard – USA by Raj Rajnarayanan we have JN1 now at 1.43% in the 30 day trends dashboard. And BA2.86.1 is at 0.53%.

    We’re definitely off to the races with this.

    Stay safe out there! Biden’s eugenics program is in full swing. Give him and public health the finger by staying COVID free this holiday, and this lifetime!

    1. Roger Blakely

      I feel like I’ve been getting kicked around by HV.1 and HK.3 for the past two weeks. I am not looking forward to BA.2.86 and JN.1. 2023 has been the year of XBB. It is hard to imagine that something can be even more transmissible.

  4. Jason Boxman

    Two Years With America’s Elite Firefighters (NY Times via archive.ph)

    The first I’d heard of hotshots, there was a story maybe 6-8 years ago, where several were overrun in our new, hotter world, and the fires today move so fast and burn so hot, they were burned alive in inside their rescue shelters, which in a previous era could protect them as a last resort should the fire overrun their position. A conflagration is a terrifying thing; these produce their own weather.

    1. Wukchumni

      You can get $18 to $20 an hour all over the Central Valley, working at fast food places, and the starting pay for Hotshots is $16 an hour…

      1. NYMutza

        The federal government pays Mississippi wages for federal jobs nationally. I recall years ago seeing IRS recruiters at a major CA university. Students would approach the table where the recruiters were seated, talk with them for a minute or two and then leave shaking their heads.

        1. polar donkey

          When I worked in Antarctica 20 years ago, many forest fire fighters would summer out west battling fires then winter in Antarctica. Several were hotshots. They were all good people. Fire fighting/Antarctica let you save almost everything you made, even if pay wasn’t particularly good. 9 months with little expenses.

  5. caucus99percenter

    Re the photo of birch trees with peeling bark … From a peek around the Internet, I see that birchbark canoes are still a thing.

    When I was a child 60–70 years ago, elementary-school education in Hawai‘i was very “colonial” in mentality. So my brother and I learned about North American indigenous peoples (“Indians”) making canoes out of birch bark long before we (already adults by then) ever learned anything about how Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) made their ocean-faring canoes.

    1. Mikel

      They aren’t doing the ridiculous stock pumps for somebody to come out and say they don’t want to monetize the algorithms in question.
      Can’t have the dump before the pump is finished.

    2. Mikel

      Pun intended:
      Jury still is out on Altman. I think he has been a Forbes 30 under 30 member.
      I’d give it a few more years to see what all shakes out of this.

      1. Feral Finster

        “I think he has been a Forbes 30 under 30 member.”

        Considering some of the alumni of Forbes 30Under 30, isn’t that pretty much an admission of guilt, right there?

  6. ChrisFromGA

    OpenAI’s corporate structure straddles the divide. Founded as a non-profit in 2015, the firm carved out a for-profit subsidiary three years later to finance its need for expensive computing capacity and brainpower in order to propel the technology forward.

    A house divided against itself cannot stand. There was never going to be a way forward where openAI was both a non-profit and a for-profit, enterprise.

    Looks like the breakup is happening. My cynical take is that Microsoft ends up with all the IP and crapifies openAI into Clippy 2.0

  7. Gabriela

    “”AI will bring about a Philip K. Dick-style dystopia, a world where it’s never possible to reach a human to resolve a problem.””

    You can do an end run around that. Before you buy a product or service, call their help line and see how hard it is to reach a human being. Also, once a product is in hand, call the new business line, always answered by a human, and ask them to transfer you to the warranty number, ‘by the way’ what is it? Note it.

    Got those techniques from the massive and original Web 1.0 instructional website called Overcoming Consumerism: http://www.verdant.net

  8. NN Cassandra

    For example, consider the following value extraction chain: An AI at the hospital upcodes one of your medical treatments. An AI at the insurance company jacks up your bill. When you complain to the insurance company, your reach an AI, which sends you into an AI-generated fruitless phone-tree. The possibilities are limitless!

    This assumes only corporations/oligarchs have access to AI. But what if every patient can review the bills with AI that can cut thorough the incomprehensible insurance bullshit, which is essentially built on hope only few people are trained to do that? Even if such AI generates bullshit half of the time, there is a fundamental problem of asymmetry. If million people already in medical debt send letter to insurance company and half of these are nonsense, the company can’t effectively punish them for that. But if the company starts using AI to sift thorough all these letters and half of their replies to valid complains are bullshit, then they become juicy target for suing.

    1. Screwball

      I was going to respond to the same quote, but from a different angle.

      We have much of that now. I recently (not resolved) had an issue with some double charges on my CC. Can’t understand person on phone, told to go to my local branch and talk to my “personal banker” who told me they couldn’t do anything different than me and would have to call the same number. When I explained I can’t understand them, and I don’t hear well anyway, she told me to tell them I wanted to talk to someone who speaks English. Wow!

      I can only imagine where limitless, as Lambert said, will lead us?

      Speaking of Lambert, really good stuff today, especially the Musk stuff. You are excellent writer and gumshoe as well.

  9. Cat Burglar

    Under Newsom, California has gone into the data brokerage business. Verily data-scrapes the test subjects under it’s contract with the state, then migrates the data to affiliates. The ID contractor to the Employment Development Department did the same thing to applicants during the covid unemployment surge. Looks like an innovative method for funding provision of public service — you sell the public to the contractor.

  10. MaryLand

    Had a fun experiment with AI. I saw on a Mastodon post that there is an app called FakeSpot that is AI. It purports to be able to tell you what per centage of reviews are fake for a product on a website. I have pretty good radar for fake reviews but this piqued my curiosity. It claimed to work on Amazon and was including more sites all the time. It is in the form of a browser. I downloaded it (probably shouldn’t have) and went to Amazon. Amazon would not give me access to their site until I proved I was human. That never happened to me before on Amazon. After that I did a search for an item, but every item I looked at there had zero reviews and no rating with stars! Amazon had found a way to thwart the AI. Or was it AI vs AI? I removed the FakeSpot app and told myself I was pretty stupid, but it did give me a laugh.

  11. ChrisRUEcon


    > See, it’s very important that investors assume no risk. That’s what puts the “venture” in venture capital!



    Our great captains of enshittification industry need to have their expectations of 10X™ protected from ruin!

    Won’t someone please think about the kids already stupidly wealthy getting a little less wealthy?!!

  12. ChrisRUEcon



    Man, watching the philosophical contortions of Acela Libs trying salvage the dumpster fire that is the Biden presidency is the stuff of VHS comedy tapes. But this is a sweet, chef’s kiss cut:

    “They’ve got a real problem if they’re counting on Trump to win it for them. I remember Hillary doing that, too.

    OUCH. Axelrod better be careful … wouldn’t want to rouse the spirits in Chappaqua.

    1. Tom Stone

      The Biden administration took off the mask and fig leaf this year, the velvet glove was dispensed with when “Occupy” was taken care of.
      You can get away with an openly iron fist, and while having the mask slip is awkward, the Fig leaf is vital.
      Without the fig leaf everyone can see the outsized genital warts and the constant drip.

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      The real knife twist here is that Axelrod’s assertion places (at least partial) blame for Dem’s 2016 loss on something Hillary did … as opposed to … y’know … something Putin did.

    3. ChrisRUEcon


      > He is polling in the mid to high single digits and has left critics asking what his endgame is or if he is staying in the race only to boost former President Donald Trump

      The race to be Trump’s Veep is gonna get hot late, methinks! Vivek does appear to be betting on Trump appreciating early loyalty.

  13. Lefty Godot

    And it is, sadly, too late for a compelling Biden replacement.

    Oh, really? I think the truth is that the Democratic National Committee would never allow a compelling replacement to get the nomination if Biden dropped out (or was ruled out). Because they are fully committed to the neoliberal economic program and neoconservative foreign policy, both of which would be the obvious targets for a compelling replacement to attack.

    Re: “GOP centrists” = oxymoron. Actually “Democrat centrist” would also be an oxymoron. And the allegedly centrist “No Labels party” makes three. Do we really need three right wing parties in this country?

    1. Carla

      @Lefty Godot — obviously, we must (need three right wing parties). Apparently, despite my lived experience and comprehension of this phony-baloney economy, things just haven’t gotten bad enough for bottom 85% yet. Hoo-boy…

  14. Ranger Rick

    The Doomers have fertile ground for speculation as to the purpose of this “AI” (machine learning) effort. Again and again, startups have arisen that promise to take “the human element” out of the equation. Burger flipping, taxis, content moderation, warehousing, customer service, article writing (if you can call it that), image composition — even writing code. Actors and writers recently went on strike over fears their work would be exploited for free, forever. If successful, the end result won’t be “let them eat code” but mass homelessness on a scale that makes San Francisco look like a joke. That’s a big “if” though. The more perceptive might have guessed this by now, but we’re deep in the throes of blockchain mania, the technology that was (formerly) going to save the world. Huge sums of money are being spent purely because of FOMO.

  15. Harold

    The Birch Tree looks to me like a native River Birch (Betula nigra). But a search on Google images connected that picture to an article about “Peeling Tree Bark disease”. Betula nigra is often recommended for gardeners and landscapers because it is more heat resistant than the beautiful white Canoe birch, which prefers northern climes. It is my understanding that like many fast-growing trees, birches in general are not very long-lived. But there is a selection of Betula nigra called ‘City Slicker’ that is supposedly even more resistant than the regular kind. https://www.pridescorner.com/plant-name/Betula-nigra-City-Slicker.

  16. petal

    Another big jump in the Hanover covid wastewater levels. Been a sawtooth pattern since September and it’s back up in a big way. The college students just left town over the past week due to the term ending and will be spreading out over the country until January. The last sample was taken Nov 13th, so hoping it is updated this week or early next week.

    Have not been getting mailers from Vivek Truth, and his 2 or 3 signs near the hospital turnoff have been gone for some time now. Figure he has given up on NH completely. Trump is way out ahead here. The number of mailers in general has dropped precipitously over the past month and a half.

  17. Tom Stone

    I’m sorry to hear that ConaSwami has dropped out of the race, he had a cluelessness that was epic and sometimes amusing.

  18. Jason Boxman

    This is insane.

    However, new research recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that the majority of kids have long-term heart and lung abnormalities long after after getting PIMS:


    This is Oct 2020 to June 2022. Different variants, but nonetheless. Precautionary principal.

    Thirty-seven (54%) had evidence of myocardial injury during acute illness. Of these, 12 of 26 (46%) had ≥1 abnormality on CMR, 4 of 33 (12%) had abnormal ambulatory rhythm monitor results, and 18 of 22 (82%) had reduced functional capacity on CPET.


    153 for MIS-C followup total from which the above come from.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      PIMS CMR CPET MIS-C? 153 for MIS-C????? Why bother using words when you can obscure more efficiently using acronyms? I am too old to worry over so many acronyms in so few words.

  19. Wukchumni

    I think the dynamic is that Blinken sees himself as Biden’s minder, and thinks that Biden really, really needs one. And he’s not wrong.
    A minder in my mind is the person not tripping, not a political hack who in theory has Biden’s back.

  20. Tom Stone

    For those who are curious about the factors that correlate with ( Not cause) violent crime Ex Gunz, the data is readily available.
    We have a century (1920-2020) of good data from both NYC which had “Sensible Gun Laws” in place during that period, laws that kept all but the most responsible from possessing or carrying Gunz ( Trump got his CCW for the asking…) and Vermont, which has never regulated the carrying of concealed weapons by otherwise law abiding citizens.
    You can look at adult literacy, childhood poverty, per capita alcohol consumption, Infant Mortality, violent crime rates by category…all the indications of a sick or healthy society are already available with a graph showing the changes over a Century.
    For those who champion “Sensible Gun Laws”, I’d have a lot more respect for your opinion if you had some idea of the history of weapons laws over the last 5 centuries, some conception of what the laws are here in the USA are ( Start with the 1934 NFA, GCA 68 and ’86, then go to State and local).
    Oh, and perhaps take a look at how they are enforced, as well.
    The bottom line is that every Gun Law in US History has been about class, keeping the rabble in line.
    The virtue signalling, hand waving, and magical thinking of “Liberals” on this issue is revolting.
    “The only people who can be trusted with Gunz are the carefully screened and highly trained Jack Booted thugs that murder black children for sport”.
    Okey Dokey

    1. Wukchumni

      1 mass murder of 4 or more people in the USA in 2001, versus over 600 mass murders of 4 or more in 2022!

      Thanks for making this rather amazing point in the links thread, couldn’t have done it without you!

      1. Roland

        Wuk, if the homicide rate plummeted to a fraction of what it is now, but all of those homicides occurred by the dozen, how would you react?

        On the other hand, if there were a dramatic rise in the homicide rate, but none of the incidents met your criteria for “mass” murder, would you recant the argument you just made above?

        Why not look at the overall homicide rate? That way, we’re counting corpses, rather than style points. Below, US homicide rate per 100,000:

        1950: 4.6
        1960: 5.1
        1970: 7.9
        1980: 10.2
        1990: 9.4
        2000: 5.5
        2010: 5.1
        2020: 6.8

        (It was difficult to quickly obtain a long clean series for this stat. Up to 2000, I used BJS. After that, Macrotrends.)

        Now if you want to argue that widespread firearm ownership results in more murders, no one can contradict you. Canadian, Finnish, Swiss, or Israeli stats might be enough to prove that case, without even mentioning the USA.

        But if you say that the USA is in some sort of murder crisis, relative to its own recent history? The only reply is “No,” unless you’re counting in a very contrived sort of way.

        Anyhow, as I see it, the desire for the entire populace to be well-armed, and well-trained in the use of arms, is a social and poltical matter, unrelated to the safety of the person.

        Your Second Amendment concerns neither crime nor bushmeat. The men who wrote that thing wanted the American people to have the power of death, which is to say, the sovereign power, forever in their own hands.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m more concerned with mass murders than anything else, as they have become so commonplace that its frankly no big deal when the next one happens, inuring us in the process. It’s setting us up for a big fall.

          We’re used to carnage like this, and does it make any difference if its 19 or 190 or 1,900 innocents killed?

          It’s pretty obvious the overturning of the assault rifle ban played a huge part going from 1 to 600 mass murders by gun in 21 years, and yet all we can muster is the usual thoughts & prayers.

          1. Yves Smith

            You are demonstrating the cognitive bias described by the great social theorist Joseph Stalin: “One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.”

      2. JBird4049

        >>>1 mass murder of 4 or more people in the USA in 2001, versus over 600 mass murders of 4 or more in 2022!

        What statistics are we looking at? According to Pew Research, which does good research, there were 10 incidents of mass shootings of 4 or more people in 2001 and 61 such incidents in 2021. Those are 4 or more shot, not 4 or more dead. Of course, some of those shootings will have more than 4 dead.

        I truly get the strong emotions certain issues create, but let us all please be careful when throwing numbers around, as being incautious when giving or analyzing facts and figures, and ascribing bad faith to others hurts everyone. Whatever one’s positions are or even if you “win” the argument.

        Anyways, I think that Tom is right to note that in the past several centuries gun laws did not apply to those in the upper classes especially for whites. In the South, this is doubly true. Regulations, rules, and paperwork were often expedited or just ignored. Also, political donations has often determines if one becomes eligible for a permit in states like California. All this is true regardless of what a person’s position on guns are.

        It is just like how policing in the South is directly descended from the old slave patrols, which often policed poor whites as well, and in the North from police hired to control the poor especially immigrant poor in the 19th century. Often the upper class and individual merchants both had special access keys to the call boxes that the police used. But not the poor. Rules for thee, but not for me is quite American.

        So, when talking about policing, guns, or crime it is useful to understand the background because none of what I just wrote in the past two paragraphs has changed even if it is the 21st century. It has just has gone and hid beneath the surface as it can be impolitic to speak truthfully of such.

        1. Wukchumni

          What statistics are we looking at? According to Pew Research, which does good research, there were 10 incidents of mass shootings of 4 or more people in 2001 and 61 such incidents in 2021. Those are 4 or more shot, not 4 or more dead. Of course, some of those shootings will have more than 4 dead.

          Nice stalking horse you’ve got there, but when I mention mass murders, frankly i’m not whistling Dixie, I mean what I say, not mass injuries as you’d like to move the conversation, not going there.

    2. Carla

      Have to say I consider it difficult to compare anything about Vermont, the second smallest state in the nation by population, with anything about New York City, the largest city by population.

      Vermont’s population 647,064 in 2023, with in 2022, 94% of those people identifying as white, according to the U.S. Census).

      New York City’s estimated population in 2022, 8,335,897, with as of 2020, the population being 30.9% White (non-Hispanic), 28.7% Hispanic or Latino, 20.2% Black or African American (non-Hispanic), 15.6% Asian, and 0.2% Native American (non-Hispanic). All figures retrieved via Wikipedia.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      While I agree with your notion about the “only people who can be trusted with Gunz” … I have several problems with your comment. An AK rifle is not a hunting weapon and where I live, hunting is not an avocation as much as a necessity for many people. What I read as the ‘nut’ of your comment is your observation that many gun crimes — not random mass shootings — tie to social ‘malaise’. I do believe the ready availability of guns needlessly contributes to the “way” where there is the “will”. While Wisdom argues for learning from experience, I am skeptical that expertise in “Gun Law in US History” is as illuminating as you suggest, much as I tend to agree that more than a little concern to “keeping the rabble in line” motivates gun law.

      I believe random mass shooting events are a sign of much much more than problems with gun laws or social ‘malaise’. I cannot fathom what motivates such events. They deeply trouble and concern me as growing signs of the social decay afflicting u.s. Society.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Trump mocks Biden, DeSantis, Haley and Jimmy Carter in front of cheering Iowa crowd”

    If Trump had any grace he would have on that stage extended condolences to Jimmy Carter for the death of his wife Rosalynn a day or two ago. To show that he is a big man. But this is Trump we are talking about and nobody has ever accused him of having any grace.

    1. Late Introvert

      He may have done so. As Lambert has also pointed out, he says a lot that they don’t print, and some of it is reasonable. They always make sure to leave that out. Not defending him at all, but if I ever hear him speak and then read about it later, it’s like some editor on purpose chose only the most inflammatory remarks and left out any context. Auto-magically.

  22. southern appalachian

    Lambert, with your interest in the built environment and Hopper I recommend https://bookshop.org/p/books/edward-hopper-and-the-american-hotel-leo-g-mazow/8526987?ean=9780300246889

    If you can find a copy. I thought, not an overview, but a particular witness to a transforming landscape. And then to reread Kerouac, or some Eric Hoffer is to get a sense of the immensity of change, contrast to Dignity by Arnade. Anyway. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

  23. NYMutza

    Peggy Noonan didn’t say who she thinks should replace Kamala Harris on the POTUS ticket for 2024, but based on the qualifications she mentioned – a veteran, highly regarded figure in whom people might feel confidence – I can think of only one person who fits the bill (no pun intended) and that person is Hillary Clinton.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      … and thanks for your comment, as it can anchor what was going to be my comment to my own thread above, but now better placed here.

      > I can think of only one person who fits the bill (no pun intended) and that person is Hillary Clinton.

      Indeed. This pivot – basically trying to save Biden by offering Harris as a sacrificial lamb – is exactly the kind of philosophical contortion I was alluding to above. What a time to be alive! LOL

      And so perhaps … #HRC is back in the frame! I must confess, I gave up on her as a possibility here. This also does illuminate who the various factions are now:

      CodeName Kalorama: The Obama Wing
      This faction wants to end the current gerontocracy and pivot to “youth”. Oor Gav’ is the presumptive favorite here.
      CodeName Chappaqua: The Clinton Wing
      Ooooooh, coming in late, Lady MacBeth style. I recall remarking on #HRC finally mouthing support for Biden/Harris. I say “mouthing” because it didn’t sound enthusiastic, and now we (possibly) know why. She wants to be the first woman president, and she’ll gladly knife Harris in the back to do it.

      Nooner’s article telegraphs a lot, including upsetting African American voters, for whom Harris’ vice presidency was an erstwhile reward for loyalty (tip of the hat to Clyburn, of course):

      “This wouldn’t be easy and would give the president a black eye with some portion of his base, but black eyes heal in a year, and none of those angered will be voting for Mr. Trump.”

      Ooooof … pun unintended I’m sure, and way to go taking the African American vote for granted in “they have nowhere else to go” style!

      P Nizzle also clearly showing #HRC’s path to the presidency with:

      “When people consider voting for Mr. Biden for the presidency they’ll know it is likely they’re really voting for Kamala Harris Hillary Clinton.”

      Wow … they have truly learned nothing. But yep, that’s what you get when your bubble is Acela corridor liberal land. So Trump may get the chance to beat Biden and Clinton at the same time!



      1. Late Introvert

        I personally would love to see her lose to Trump a 2nd time, and will vote for my first Republican ever to help make that happen!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Clinton does seem to have risen from her coffin, and now roams the earth once more. I can’t believe that she’s serious about running again, but perhaps she is that delusional.

    1. Jorge

      Running a retail operation with this much inventory, especially with those air filter appliances, it not cheap.

      But, yes, this is sad.

  24. kareninca

    I have a relative by marriage who is in her early 70s; she had breast cancer about ten years ago, and a lung nodule removed, but she was doing fine. But for the past few years, every time she went to the GP her blood pressure would be kind of high. She and her GP blew it off since she is skinny and lives on health food. But this time at the GP, yesterday, her BP was 192/101 and her EKG was wonky and she now had left ventricular thickening!! All developed in the course of a year!! She’s on BP meds now of course.

    She has never had covid (she teaches at college level but masks), but she has had every single available covid shot. Of course she might possibly have had covid without knowing it.

    So in this brave new world, do not blow off blood pressure indications.

  25. thoughtfulperson

    “As you can see from my comment above, I’m neither a Doomer nor a Boomer. Sadly, I can’t nuke the false binary with another rhyming word. Perhaps “ill-humored”?”

    How about Crooner? Not a perfect match but close enough poetically?

  26. Jake

    AI Enshittification: This guy on youtube has setup a similar practice to the one Lambert describes. It’s pretty hilarious when turned on scammers, but people are going to be going postal a lot more often once more corporations realize they can do the same thing to customers. I’m not worried though, with Larry Summers on the board of OpenAI, everything is going to turn out just fine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWzz3NeDz3E

  27. Matthew G. Saroff

    I would suggest that everyone read Mike Masnick’s assessment of the Musk lawsuit, which at its core claims malice because Media Matters was scrolling down.

    He is not a lawyer, but he was the victim of a years long target of a SLAPP suit as a result of calling out Shiva Ayyadurai’s clearly false claim that he invented email.

    The summary, and I recommend that you read the whole thing is:

    First, the mass exodus of advertisers predates the Media Matters article by a day. It started when Musk explicitly endorsed an antisemitic white replacement conspiracy theory.

    The venue is wrong, the former Twitter is incorporated in Nevada, has its HQ in California, requires that its TOS be adjudicated under California law, and Media Matters operates in Washington, DC. (Given the record of the judge, Mark Pittman, this is not the slam dunk that it should be)

    Despite mentioning defamation multiple times, the filing never presents an actual defamation claim.

    The filing admits that the Media Matters article is factually correct, with other users seeing Apple ads next to Nazi content.

    The firm in question is not one of Musk’s white shoe law firms, implying that they wanted nothing to do with this.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t think you can take an article seriously that depicts Tesla’s headquarters as in CA when it is in Texas and was there at the time of the actions at issue: https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-headquarters-hq

      Another point on that list that is not dispositive is the law firm not being a big white shoe firm. Media litigation and defamation in particular are at best backwaters in big tony firms and you’d not find great expertise. There are plenty of small (fierce) litigation boutiques and attorneys who have a strong track record in defamation who are not at big fancy pants firms. So you’d need to look at the attorneys versus saying, “Oh, not big firm I heard of, must be no good.”

  28. Matthew G. Saroff

    He does not say that Tesla HQ is in California. He says the ECCH (Twitter) HQ is in California, which is true.

    It’s where Musk is not paying rent in San Francisco.

    There is no mention of Tesla at all in the article.

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