2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Solitary Tinamou, Santa Catarina, Brazil. “The ‘chororocada’ song, heard in the breeding season.” Well, dammit, if it’s so solitary…. (I also love the ’30s newsreel-style voice introduction, also a vanishing breed.)

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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

The Constitutional Order

“6 pro-Trump ‘fake electors’ indicted by Nevada grand jury” [The Hill]. “The six Nevadans face felony charges of offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged document for disseminating a document titled ‘Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada’ to several government entities…. Planning in Nevada to use an alternate slate of electors began as early as four days before the 2020 election, when DeGraffenreid — one of the charged fake electors — told other state party officials in a text that former Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) ‘might do a lot of things, but sending a slate of Republican electors without them being clearly the winners of the popular vote is not one of them.’… DeGraffenreid, a GOP committee member, emailed then-Trump lawyer Chesebro on Dec. 11, 2020, with the subject ‘URGENT-Trump-Pence campaign asked me to contact you to coordinate Dec. 14 voting by Nevada electors,’ according to the Jan. 6 committee’s final report. ”

“Nevada grand jury indicts six Republicans who falsely certified that Trump won the state in 2020” [Associated Press]. “The indictments in Nevada are just the latest to come out of investigations in several states into the activities of Republican electors. Michigan’s Attorney General filed felony charges in July against 16 Republican fake electors, who would face eight criminal charges including forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery, though one had charges dropped after reaching a cooperation deal. The top charge carried a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. In Wisconsin, 10 Republicans who posed as electors settled a civil lawsuit Wednesday, admitting their actions were part of an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Sixteen fake electors also have been charged in Georgia, three of which were also charged in August alongside Trump in a sweeping indictment accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally overturn the results of the presidential election. They have pleaded not guilty. Democratic attorneys general in New Mexico and Arizona also are investigating the role of fake electors in their states.”

Biden Administration

“Six Governors Push Biden To Reschedule Pot in Open Letter” [High Times]. “Governors across America are tired of waiting for President Joe Biden to fulfill his goal to swiftly determine if the country should reschedule cannabis at the federal level—leading six of them to urge the president in a letter to do something after months of inaction. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy urged the president to take action in a letter dated Dec. 5, given that it’s been 10 years since the first states legalized adult-use pot (starting with Colorado and Washington).”


Less than a year to go!

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“Is Corporate America Betting on Trump?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “A few well-connected contacts in the big tech world told me early on they were quite confident it would be a reversion to Obama era antitrust, that Kamala Harris would take care of them. Were they ever wrong! Biden appointed aggressive enforcers to both the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and to the Federal Trade Commission, and issued a meaningful executive order on competition. The net effect is a massive deterrent against mergers, especially large ones, with deal volume down 16% this year alone. There’s also a lot of litigation where judges have to start dealing with antitrust. From the book industry to health insurance to Google and Amazon to prescription routing networks to virtual reality to video games to semiconductors to sugar to health-specific adtech to pharmaceutical patents and private equity health care providers to airlines to pipelines to meat to pesticides, the antitrust world has been busy. And that’s unlikely to slow. The JetBlue-Spirit trial is ending, which could go to appeal. The IQVIA merger trial is ongoing, as is the first Google antitrust search trial. Another Google trial starts early next year, as does an FTC trial against Facebook. My guess is there will be more challenges, potentially against the supermarket combination of Kroger-Albertsons, the design software merger of Adobe and Figma, and/or pharma giant Pfizer’s purchase of Seagan. But what’s interesting is that over the past few months, the deterrent effect seems to be waning, as there have been some major announcements of big mergers.” What I don’t get: If Biden’s going to do all this, why isn’t he selling it, instead of Bidenomics™? More: “[W]hat’s happening is that deal-makers think that Trump could win.” • Leave it to Stoller to come up with a good reason to vote for Biden (even if, from his behavior, Biden thinks it’s not a good reason).

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“Joe Biden offers bald-faced lies to all of America about his family affairs” [New York Post]. “Three times on Wednesday, Joe Biden denied that he has interacted with his son Hunter and brother Jim’s business associates, when it is an undeniable, documented fact that he has interacted with them dozens of times. Tony Bobulinski would like a word. Bobulinski, Hunter’s business partner on the family’s joint venture with Chinese energy company CEFC, voluntarily provided testimony to the FBI that he met Joe on two occasions in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2017, on May 2 and May 3. On the first occasion, Jim and Hunter were present, and on the second, Bobulinski met with Joe alone. ‘I am a former decorated naval officer who was willing to die for this great country and held the highest security clearance issued by the Department of Energy,’ Bobulinski told The Post yesterday. ‘Why is Joe Biden blatantly lying to the American people and the world by claiming that he did not meet with me face to face?’ ‘He should call his son Hunter and brother Jim as they can remind him of the facts. The American people deserve the truth.'” • Biden “denied” three times? Cf. Luke 22:34!

“Joe Biden owes me _____” is a pretty good template. Atrios:

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“Israel, China and migration: Key takeaways from the US Republican debate” [Al Jazeera]. “Christie resumed his role as the most prominent Trump critic on the debate stage, but while none of his rivals matched his zeal, some still took their own modest shots at the former president. [America’s Most Organic Candidate™, Nikki] Haley, in particular, criticised government spending under the Trump administration, which approved a massive COVID-19 economic relief package in 2020. She also described Trump as an agent of chaos. ‘We have to stop the chaos, but you can’t defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos,’ Haley said. ‘And that’s what Donald Trump gives us. My approach is different: no drama, no vendettas, no whining.'” If somebody tells me “no whining,” my immediate assumption is that massive whinage is in the works. More: “For his part, DeSantis, who burst onto the national scene with his stern defence of Trump, questioned the former president’s electability, suggesting he may be too old to serve in the White House at age 77. He also argued that Trump did not deliver on his 2016 election promises. ‘He didn’t clean up the swamp. He said he was going to drain it. He did not drain it. He said he was going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. We don’t have the wall,’ DeSantis said. Trump is leading the race by as many as 40 percentage points, according to some polls. The presidential hopefuls voiced staunch support for Israel in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians.”

“The Republican debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley” [Chicago Tribune]. “With Trump absent, the atmosphere around the debate lacked some of the buzz sometimes associated with such affairs, especially in ostensibly open primaries. Less than two hours to go before the opening salvo, the media room, which is normally the practice hall for the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, was barely half full. The television and radio platforms around the periphery — the spin room, in debate parlance — were noticeably quiet, lacking the high-profile surrogates or campaign staffers who might normally be appearing live on cable news or talk radio to pitch on their candidates’ behalf. Outside Moody Music Hall on campus, more buzz came from state high school football championship games being played in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The debate may have been hard to find for many prospective viewers. It aired on NewsNation, a cable network still trying to build its audience after taking over WGN America three years ago.”

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“Ramaswamy sparks social media firestorm over ‘Nikki = Corrupt’ sign at GOP debate” [FOX]. “‘I don’t have a woman problem,’ Ramaswamy told Haley as part of an attack criticizing her work in the military contracting sector after her time as ambassador. ‘You have a corruption problem and I think that that’s what people need to know. Nikki is corrupt.’ As Ramaswamy was saying that, he pulled out a sign that had been sitting on the podium that read, ‘Nikki=Corrupt.’ ‘This is a woman who will send your kids to die so she can buy a bigger house,’ Ramaswamy added. When asked by a moderator if she wanted to respond to Ramaswamy’s claim, Haley said, ‘No. It’s not worth my time to respond to him.'” • Is he wrong? (Of course it’s not worth Haley’s time. She can’t bill for it, can she?)

“Haley says Ramaswamy not ‘serious candidate’: ‘It’s not worth us dealing with Vivek'” [The Hill]. • I like Haley’s “we.” Throw ’em off the droshky!

“Ramaswamy calls Haley ‘fascist'” [The Hill]. “‘The only person more fascist than the Biden regime now is Nikki Haley, who thinks the government should identify every one of those individuals with an ID,’ Ramaswamy said during the debate, which is being hosted by The Hill’s sister organization NewsNation, to boos from the crowd. ‘That is not freedom, that is fascism, and she should come nowhere near the levers of power, let alone the White House,’ he added. Ramaswamy was referring to a previous proposal offered by Haley suggesting that social media users needed to be verified by name, saying in a Fox News interview, “Every person on social media should be verified, by their name. That’s, first of all, it’s a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden, people have to stand by what they say.'” • Haley has seized on an attractive item from the fascist smorgasboard, that’s for sure. I’m surprised not to hear any liberal Democrats from the Censorship Industrial Complex saying “Well, she’s got a point.” And speaking of social media–

“Nikki Haley says TikTok makes people ‘17% more antisemitic, more pro-Hamas'” [Guardian]. • Spurious precision?

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“‘Whatever it takes’: Cheney considers third-party bid to stop Trump in 2024” [Axios]. “Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is considering a third-party presidential bid as she seeks to do “whatever it takes” to stop former President Trump from winning in 2024, she told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday…. Cheney said that she will decide whether to launch a presidential campaign early next year.”

“Liz Cheney says she may launch 3rd party bid against Trump, claims he could end democracy” [ABC]. “She said, however, that she would not join the so-called ‘unity’ ticket that could be put forth by the No Labels group if it seemed like that would help elect Trump.” • Dream ticket: Clinton/Cheney 2024!

Republican Funhouse

“Chuck Todd: How elected officials are gaslighting America [NBC]. “Among Republicans nationally, just 26% believed Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate. Among former GOP members of Congress, a whopping 82% believe he won legitimately…. It’s obvious that members of Congress too often give in to the belief systems of their (sometimes overly whipped-up) constituents out of fear of losing their jobs. What’s less clear is exactly the price those self-preservation decisions cost us….. I’ll never forget a conversation I had, when Trump was first elected, with a prominent Republican senator who pulled me aside while getting off of a plane and promised to stand up to Trump. They were the guardrail, they swore, against Trump’s running roughshod over the system and the Constitution. Needless to say, that senator’s pledge lasted less than a year….. As has been said numerous times, authoritarians usually don’t take power, they are handed it, and the elected GOP class has gotten more comfortable handing power to Trump with every year that has gone by since he burst onto the scene in 2016.” • Hmm.

“Congressman Dave Joyce Will Introduce Bill To Reclassify State-Legal Cannabis At Federal Level” [Benzinga]. “Republican Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) is leading the charge for marijuana legalization in the United States through the proposed STATES 2.0 Act…. Anticipated to be officially introduced this week, the STATES 2.0 Act aims to rectify the current federal-state discord in cannabis laws by acknowledging individual states’ decisions. The legislation, an enhanced version of Joyce’s 2019 STATES Act, seeks to enable the descheduling of state-legal marijuana while upholding federal illegality for marijuana produced outside regulated markets…. Recognizing the diverse approaches of 38 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, which currently have some form of state-regulated marijuana market, the STATES 2.0 Act upholds states’ rights. It enforces federal regulation solely in states opting to legalize, leaving prohibitory states unaffected.”

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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“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

“222 nm Far-UVC Use Case: At The Dentist” [Pandemic Enclave]. “I ran a very informal poll on Twitter not long ago, asking folks what situations were their biggest concern where they thought 222 nm far-UVC might be able to help. An important caveat is the focus in this instance is on consumer devices, rather than looking at commercial applications, which is a bit of a different animal…. Not surprisingly, this was the biggest concern that cropped up, for obvious reasons: you’re basically stuck in a chair, mouth agape, with one or more people poking around in your mouth, with their mouths and noses maybe 12 to 18 inches from yours. On top of that, there may also be times when you have to move between the chair and other equipment, say a specialized x-ray machine. Many dental clinics these days are also ‘open bay’ designs, which don’t have structural walls between exam areas and aerosols can flow much more freely. And dentistry can kick up a LOT of aerosols, not just from folks exhaling, but from drilling, spraying water, etc. While aerosols wafting around on air currents are certainly a threat, I submit the biggest threat is posed by the dentist and techs working on you, with their faces roughly (at a guess) 12 to 24 inches from yours.” • There follows a discussion of devices and power levels…. Worth a read!

The American genius for tinkering:

Not sure about this — why not just mask? — but I’m glad this guy is in there punching!


“Maskless Mandy” mentions masks, so things must be really bad:

I don’t think there’s all that much to be thankful for. There are three items in this order: Handwashing, ventilation, masks. CDC keeps trying to throw all the respiratory viruses into one bucket as “seasonal.” But (a) SARS-CoV-2 is not seasonal, and (b) handwashing doesn’t not prevent it (although it may help with RSV and flu, but they aren’t, as far as we know, brain-damaging). So the order should be: N95s (not “masks”), and then ventilation, since cleaning the air helps with all three. Only then handwashing. Also, why the heck isn’t she practicing what she’s preaching, and wearing an N95? “Scarlet letter” or sumpin’?

Speaking of sheep:


“One in four who had Pfizer Covid jabs experienced unintended immune response” [The Telegraph]. “More than a quarter of people injected with mRNA Covid jabs suffered an unintended immune response created by a glitch in the way the vaccine was read by the body, a study has found. No adverse effects were created by the error, data show, but Cambridge scientists found such vaccines were not perfect and sometimes led to nonsense proteins being made instead of the desired Covid ‘spike’, which mimics infection and leads to antibody production…. In the case of the Covid jabs, the end result is a nonsensical and harmless protein, the team found, which the body attacks and leads to an immune system flare-up. The new study, published in Nature, found this occurred in around 25-30 per cent of people.” • Well, at least they’re not using the word “mild.” Anyhow, for those still interested, Novavax is not mRNA.

Testing and Tracking

“Using both nose, throat swabs boosts sensitivity of rapid COVID testing” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Using both nasal and throat swabs increased sensitivity for HCW- and self-collected specimens by 21.4 and 15.5 percentage points, respectively, compared with a single nose swab. ‘Our findings suggest that the current testing recommendations should include throat specimens to improve the sensitivity of rapid antigen testing,’ the study authors wrote. ‘Further research should confirm our findings using redesigned and other rapid antigen testing devices and explore whether throat specimens can also improve the detection of other common airway infections.'” • Maybe decrease those false negatives from RAT!

Interesting question on wastewater:

Not resolved on the thread!


“Eyeglasses and risk of COVID-19 transmission – analysis of the Virus Watch Community Cohort study” [International Journal of Infectious Diseases]. From the Abstract: “Participants from the Virus Watch prospective community cohort study responded to a questionnaire on the use of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Infection was confirmed through data linkage, self-reported positive results, and, for a subgroup, monthly capillary antibody testing…. . Multivariable logistic regression model showed 15% lower odds of infection for those who reported using eyeglasses always for general use (OR 0.85, 95% 0.77-0.95, p = 0.002) compared to those who never wore eyeglasses.” • Many more eyeglasses links on this thread.

“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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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, December 4:

Lambert here: Biden’s doing great. His Omicron spike is, of course, incomparable, but now he’s beaten Trump’s case count for both January and September 2021. In 2023! Case counts moving smartly upward (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). Only 19 superspreading days until Christmas!

Regional data:

Those near-vertical curves in the Midwest and the Northeast are concerning, although as ever with Biobot you have to watch for backward revisions.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, but BA.2.86 coming up fast on the outside.

From CDC, November 11:

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, December 2:

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.

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. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.


Bellwether New York City, data as of December 7:

Steadily up. New York state as a whole looks more like a spike. (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]).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 25:


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, December 4:

0.2%. Up. (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, December 2:

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.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, November 13:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 6:

BA.2.86 20% of the the total last week, 25% of the total this week.


Total: 1,184,345 – 1,184,189 = 30 (156 * 365 = 56,940 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). 

Lambert here: This number is too small no matter what. Iowa Covid19 Tracker hasn’t been updated since September 27, 2023. I may have to revert to CDC data. Yech.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged higher by 1,000 to 220,000 on the week ending December 2nd, slightly under market expectations of 222,000, but marking the second-highest reading since September. The result extended the current trend that the US labor market is showing signs of cooling from tighter levels displayed earlier in the year, albeit remaining strong from a historical standpoint.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced plans to cut 45,510 jobs in November 2023, higher than 36,836 in October.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 1:50:34 PM ET.

The Conservatory

“We Should All Give Thanks for Taylor Swift” [Peggy Noonan]. “Right about now Time magazine would be choosing its Person of the Year…. Here I tell you who it will be and must be or I will be displeased. Miss Taylor Swift is the Person of the Year. She is the best thing that has happened in America in all of 2023…. What she did this year is some kind of epic American story…. Her tour has broken attendance and income records across the country. She has transformed the economy of every city she visits. The U.S. Travel Association reported this fall that what her concertgoers spend in and around each venue ‘is on par with the Super Bowl, but this time it happened on 53 different nights in 20 different locations over the course of five months.’ … Bloomberg Economics reports U.S. gross domestic product went up an estimated $4.3 billion as a result of her first 53 concerts. The tour made her a billionaire, according to Forbes the first musician ever to make that rank solely based on her songs and performances.” • And that’s before we get to the superspreading! Anyhow, Nooners was on the money–

“Taylor Swift Named Time’s Person of the Year, Tells Her Enemies: ‘Trash Takes Itself Out'” [Hollywood Reporter]. The full quote: “There is one thing I’ve learned: My response to anything that happens, good or bad, is to keep making things. Keep making art. But I’ve also learned there’s no point in actively trying to quote unquote defeat your enemies. Trash takes itself out every single time.” • She’s about that (although whatever it was with the Kardashians, I missed it entirely).

“The dark truth about Taylor Swift” [Unherd]. “So what is it about her work that so captivates the young women who form the backbone of her fanbase? Crucially, I think, her love songs don’t tend to be about relationships that end well. A few — ‘Mine’ and ‘Love Story’ for instance — describe happy endings. But by and large even her requited ones are upbeat only when describing the first flush of infatuation, as in ‘Enchanted’, ‘Fearless’, and ‘Ready For It?’ Instead of inclining towards the happy ever after, Swiftian passion comes with its own doom baked in: an assumption that, for any number of reasons, the high won’t last. ‘Delicate’ is a stuttering, anxious hymn to the fear that declaring your feelings will destroy a budding romance. ‘Endgame­’ captures both the longing to be someone’s ‘happy ever after’ and, implicitly, the expectation that this the dream will turn sour.” • This is literally the only Taylor Swift song I’ve listened to, 2023 – 2008 = 15 years ago:

Catchy, but to me a bit cringe (though belong “with” and not “to” is a nice touch). Interestingly, Swift, playing the protagonist, may be dressed as a teen, but is clearly not a teen. Not sure what to make of that.

Class Warfare

“Vegas shooter who killed 3 was a professor who recently applied for a job at UNLV, AP source says” [Associated Press]. “The gunman in Wednesday’s shooting was a professor who had unsuccessfully sought a job at the school, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. He previously worked at East Carolina University in North Carolina.” • Even though AP doesn’t say what rank of professor — Tenured? Full? Associate? Adjunct? — nevertheless we seem to be moving up the ladder from postal workers and alienated teenagers….

News of the Wired

“Behind the Scenes of Sound ID in Merlin” [Macaulay Library]. “Today we announced one of our biggest breakthroughs—Sound ID, a new feature in the Merlin Bird ID app—and a major leap forward in sound identification and machine learning to date. Sound ID lets people use their phone to listen to the birds around them, and see live predictions of who’s singing. Currently, Merlin can identify 458 bird species in the U.S. and Canada based on their sounds (with more species and regions coming soon). Sound ID runs on your device, without requiring a network connection. Download it today for free and test it out in your own backyard! If you happen to be located in the Northeastern United States you can test out Sound ID on the audio below which was recorded in New Hampshire.” • I found this on Hacker News; I wonder if some NC readers propagated “Macaulay Library” there?

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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 MG:

MG writes: “This is a lovely autumn morning in my neighbor’s garden, which is the view out from our west windows. You should hear the “Dublinese” begrudgery from Himself whenever I comment on how beautiful it is. Sigh.”

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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. clarky90

          Re; “Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed……

          Oh my God

          “The German Genocide Campaign In Namibia, 1904-1907”

          “I wipe out rebellious tribes with streams of blood and streams of money. Only following this cleansing can something new emerge.” —German Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha

          Between 1904 and 1907, the German army committed genocide against the Herero and Nama people of present-day Namibia, as punishment for their revolt against German colonial rule. Anywhere from 24,000 to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died,…….

          mostly as a result of dehydration or starvation….


          1. clarky90

            In 1985 this “Aktion” in Namibia, by the Germans, was recognized by the United Nations as genocide….

      1. nippersmom

        I didn’t see anything other than the birdsong , and was wondering if the problem was on my end, or there was a delay posting.

  1. Samuel Conner

    > This number is too small no matter what

    A number of friends have recently lost elderly parents. A common thread is that the parent declined very rapidly, within weeks, from a seemingly stable or even robust prior baseline.

    I’m tempted to wonder whether these might be hints of “degraded system capacity”, related to Long COVID organ damage, that puts people “closer to the edge.” There might be significant numbers of people who are dying prematurely on account of prior CV infection, but with the cause of death not attributed to COVID or Long COVID. Perhaps “dying with” undiagnosed post-acute sequelae of COVID.

    It brings to mind an alternate formulation of “Rule #2”: die faster.


    I wonder whether the labor shortage will eventually impact N95, and other PPE, production and distribution.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Add me to the list. My parents both died this year with a rapid decline. My dad was 87 and my mom 90 so I don’t know if you can necessarily say their deaths were premature. However, both were quite active and relatively healthy prior to going terminal following what I’d describe as a “short illness” (a couple months for my dad, a couple weeks for my mom). Neither, to our knowledge, had Covid, but were “fully” vaxxed.

      My mom had managed her leukemia for over 10 years before it decided it take her. She did so well during lock down with no chemo that she did not start it again for perhaps another 8 months when her “numbers went up”. She was good for about another year, and then went down fast. My dad was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia right at the very end.

      Now, I took work off yesterday to take my almost 88 year old father-in-law to the doctor as he’s having difficulty kicking his walking pneumonia and has too much fluid on his heart. I’m hoping for the best, but after the recent experience with my parents, I’m preparing myself for the worst. He also hasn’t been diagnosed with covid but got his “jabs”.

      I consider myself lucky in many ways since they have each lived long full lives, and I’m grateful there was no nursing home or a lot of suffering at the end. However, their rapid decline definitely makes me go “hmm”.

      1. NYMutza

        Most people who reach late 80s and beyond are physically fragile, even if they appear to still be “sharp”. It doesn’t take much for them to fall of a cliff in a manner of speaking. My neighbor was a relatively robust 98 year old with a strong speaking voice and a sharp mind. One day he slipped at home and lacerated his forearm. It was quickly downhill from there. It’s tempting to blame Covid for “premature” deaths among the elderly, but everyone beyond early to mid-80s is living on borrowed time and so death can come quickly and for no easily apparent reason.

      2. Cassandra

        My condolences on the loss of your parents, Duke. Even when they have been blessed with long, active lives and passed relatively easily, even when it was expected, there is a shock to the system. The universe seems a bit harsher when viewed without the filter of the older generations.

        I wish you peace.

    2. i just dont like the gravy

      To add another kind of anecdata to this, some of my colleagues are what you would call old and eldery (50+) and I have noticed a significant uptick in their rates of brain fogginess and other “minor” sequelae. And these are conventionally smart people (they aren’t Wal-Mart greeters or anything).

      1. it's a fine sauce

        (they aren’t Wal-Mart greeters or anything).

        Just curious: Why do you feel the need to add that? You could have just said “and these are conventionally smart people” and left it at that.

        Guess what? There are people who you may not consider “conventionally smart” (whatever that even means – academically smart? I don’t know) who also experience brain fogginess.

        There is an incredible lack of wisdom in going on about one’s own intelligence (you didn’t do that here, though it may be inferred) and others’ perceived lack of intelligence. And it happens here at NC more than any other place I’m aware of. Fascinating that.

        1. ambrit

          What we have here is a conglomeration of higher level thinkers in general. I seriously doubt if genetics plays a predominant role in this. Education and training to develop clear thinking habits seems to be the unifying feature. Many here seem to be academics of one sort or another. Another sub-group seems to be comprised of financials and fellow traders. A third group seems to be comprised of autodidacts.
          Allowing for a degree of ‘in-group’ thinking, the NC readership embodies the more self reflective segment of the Western Intelligentsia.
          The next time you pass by one of the WalMart greeters, wonder at his or her interior monologue as they watch the motley parade that is modern America pass them by.

          1. Mabel King Thomas

            What we have here is a conglomeration of higher level thinkers in general

            Higher level thinkers in general?! I see no evidence of that, but if it works for you, go with it!

        2. i just dont like the gravy

          Because these people are scientists. Their day job is to essentially “be smart.” So a decline in abilities from the norm is both significant and noticeable.

          I am sorry that I touched a nerve.

      2. Angie

        Wal-Mart worker here. I know I’m no genius and would never claim to be, but just curious what you mean by “conventionally smart” and how such people – your colleagues in this case, as opposed to we lowly Wal-Mart workers – just curious what their brain fog is like and how they’re dealing with it.

        I ask because I have the same issues with brain fogginess, though no sequela, thankfully – if by sequela you mean “a pathological condition resulting from a disease” which seems to be its primary definition.

        Alright, I admit I did have to look that up as I didn’t know the definition off the top of my head. Hey, I’m a Wal-Mart worker!

        Anyway, I don’t know if we can even compare because, again, I’m no genius, and it just may be that people who are “conventionally” smarter than me also experience covid symptoms differently due to their higher intelligence.

        I appreciate any further thoughts you may have on the matter. Please enlighten me!

        1. ambrit

          Excellent deployment of the Socratic Method!
          I also mention the various sorts of “intelligence” to interlocutors.
          [How many personal “hidden biases” I have realized I have from reading and commenting here I fear to say. Embarrassment is the least of it.]

        2. i just dont like the gravy

          Just like I told the other commenter above: your job as a Wal-Mart worker is not dependent on your smarts. The people I work with are in their roles in no small part due to their ability to think. So when their thinking is obviously impaired, it raises eyebrows. Nowhere did I claim that Wal-Mart workers cannot be smart.

          I might as well not bother writing comments here. Everybody seems more eager to pick a fight than discuss how we are melting the brains of millions of Americans. It’s probably the Long Covid.

    3. Terry Flynn

      Unfortunately the rapid unexplained deterioration among certain subgroups of elderly people is well-known in certain areas of medicine. I worked with rheumatologists for many years and my ultimate boss Paul Dieppe wrote one of the definitive textbooks. Before our unit was shut down in 2009 he had been keen to use the quaity of life instrument I developed the scoring for because he suspected it was capable of getting a handle on certain psychological factors that predict something the docs had no ability to understand to date:

      Why 5% or so of elderly people who, by any and all clinical and socioeconomic criteria, are perfectly OK for total joint replacement but post-surgery go rapidly downhill for no discernible reason and die within 6 months. Paul worked with all the epigenetic folks as well, so the likelihood is that the answer is complex, but he seemed pretty sure that some trigger was more responsible than a bunch of others.

      Just an interesting parallel.

  2. ron paul rEVOLution

    >Interestingly, Swift, playing the protagonist, may be dressed as a teen, but is clearly not a teen. Not sure what to make of that.

    To be fair, Blink 182 is still touring, and they are dressed as teens body and soul. Gotta relate to your market!

    1. ambrit

      I remember seeing an aged White Zombie do “More Human Than Human” on Letterman back in the ’90s. ‘Long of tooth’ does not do it justice.
      What is funny, not funny, is that there is the Hollywood version of ‘teen’ and then there is the real version of ‘teen.’ Been going on at least since “Gidget,” etc. (The original book upon which the film “Gidget” was based was written by a Hollywood script writer.)

      1. digi_owl

        Not helped by many, particularly ladies, that play teenagers on screen are well into their 20s. Usually in order to skirt regulations on child actor work hours etc.

    2. dave -- just dave

      Wikipedia gives Taylor Swift’s birthdate as Dec. 13, 1989 – so for almost all of the year 2008 she was 18 years old – that IS a teen.

      1. Art Vandalay

        58 here, though I would never claim to be mature. Blink 182 concert earlier this year was one of my favorite concerts ever . . . and my 16 year-old son loved it as well.

      1. digi_owl

        On that note, with KISS joining ABBA in becoming digital “beings” the weird merging of Orwell and Huxley is becoming more and more stark.

        We are getting a kind of eternal now that Orwell wrote about, but because of feelgood entertainment rather than some sinister propaganda.

        It is downright weird how almost prophetic Matrix was, and how even the “brothers” are now trying to bury it as it carried the wrong message.

    3. ChrisPacific

      Technically in 2008 she was a teen (just). She also writes from experience, even more than most singers, so it could have been a fictionalized scene from her recent past.

      She has evolved a bit musically since those days and varies her style and themes more, although still within that general umbrella of catchy melodic pop. I think she’s quite impressive – tastes do change and it’s not easy to stay relevant and popular over a long career (she’s a successor to Madonna in that regard). She also has a better BS detector than most, thanks in large part to her experiences with the music industry. Her usual advice to aspiring singers and musicians is to get a good lawyer.

      She’s also a billionaire and flies everywhere by private jet, so all those misguided souls wanting her to run for President are just displaying a new variant of Stockholm Syndrome (not that she would ever do it). She would likely be considerably less awful than most other billionaire candidates, but that’s the most that can be said.

  3. ambrit

    Concerning the tweet about masks versus ties in social ‘relations,’ I’ll just throw in here the crypto-Freudian analysis.
    In social image terms, ties are symbolic phalli while masks are symbolic vulvae. Thus, there is a decided gender compliment to the conflict.
    “Sometimes a tie is just a tie that binds one to the cultural hegemony of the Patriarchal Elders.”

  4. communistmole

    Covid-19 politics in Switzerland:


    Danger, not so much: the new corona wave is actually welcome in some ways

    Switzerland is currently being hit by a new wave of coronavirus. But unlike during the pandemic, experts are now seeing a positive side to the infections: they are boosting people’s immunity.

    After a year’s break, the country is once again being overwhelmed by a Covid wave. The number of infections has been rising rapidly for several weeks, as can be seen by looking at doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and wastewater, where the viral load is measured. The first Swiss hospitals have once again made masks compulsory. And Barbara Grützmacher says: “We need to keep a close eye on how this develops.”

    Observe, yes. However, the experts do not currently consider it necessary to take action in the first year after the official end of the pandemic; on the contrary, the current wave is in some ways even welcome. “So far, we’ve been able to deal with it well,” says Christoph Berger, President of the Swiss Federal Vaccination Commission (EKIF). “Yes, apart from the cases of illness, there is a positive side to the circulation of the virus from an immunity perspective.” What’s more, this wave is part of the current vaccination strategy.

    Above all, however, the experts believe that further vaccination for the entire population is unnecessary because more than 98% have antibodies against the virus, whether due to the vaccination, an illness or both. This basic immunity protects their carriers from becoming seriously ill if they are infected again. It is therefore necessary to ensure that it is maintained – and this should no longer be done through vaccination, but through infection. “It is even positive to have the virus from time to time, as long as it only triggers a flare-up,” says EKIF President Berger. “This refreshes the basic immunity so that younger, healthy people are hardly at risk of serious infections.”

    So is it best to contract the virus straight away? Berger doesn’t want to go that far. If you don’t want to get sick and miss work, for example, you should protect yourself. And it is still important to prevent people at risk from becoming infected. This can be done by wearing a mask or postponing a visit if you have symptoms.

    Geneva virologist Isabella Eckerle also points this out. She finds the theory of the welcome wave somewhat difficult to accept. Being ill is never pleasant, she says, “and there is still a residual risk of complications occurring or the infection developing into long Covid, even in protected people.” In addition, people who are ill are absent from work, which can lead to further stress, especially in the healthcare sector. Eckerle would therefore have welcomed it if the vaccination recommendations had been extended somewhat and, as with the flu, vaccination had also been recommended for healthcare staff.

    The experts agree on the conclusions that can be drawn when being ill is part of the concept: there is currently no need for new protective measures. The healthcare system is functioning, says cantonal doctor Grützmacher, capacities are not fully utilized and where more caution is required, the hospitals are acting on their own initiative, as has been seen. The cantonal health directors are therefore not thinking about new protective measures at the moment, and certainly not the federal government, which is not responsible for this in the normal situation.

    So everything is fine? No, say the experts. They assume that the vaccination rate in the risk group is still too low. Nobody knows for sure, as the obligation to register for the Covid-19 vaccination was suspended at the beginning of July this year. However, vaccination chief Berger would like to see politicians make another attempt to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

    The Federal Office of Public Health writes that this year’s vaccination campaign was targeted between the end of October and mid-November. No further active steps to promote vaccination are planned. However, cantonal doctor Grützmacher says: “We in Bern and probably other cantons will once again publicly call for vaccination in the media and on social media.” It is important that the vaccination rate in the risk group increases. Because even now, people with a Covid infection are dying in hospitals again.

    Against this backdrop, a decision taken by the Federal Council this week is causing disgruntlement: It not only wants to revise the Epidemics Act in order to be better prepared for future pandemics. It is also further reducing the old special coronavirus regulations. For example, he is already stopping the reimbursement of Covid vaccinations in pharmacies at the end of December, even though the cantons would have liked an extension for the entire winter. And it has decided that the federal government will no longer procure the Covid vaccine from mid-2024. In future, this will once again be the task of the free market. Also in the middle of the year, the Federal Council will then decide whether the vaccination will remain free of charge for the population or whether they will have to pay for it in future.

    It would be the final act to release Covid-19 from the pandemic into endemic status. The virus will thus become a constant companion, the damage of which will be kept in check with vaccinations, infections, permanent monitoring systems and prevention in retirement and nursing homes. And perhaps soon only the term will take some getting used to. Because an endemic never ends.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Department of False Distinctions.

    “keep in mind that one of those is solely to demonstrate your subservience to the system, to advertise your willingness to comply and to fit in, despite it serving no actual purpose”

    The Yeti seems not to understand that the necktie is a form of a scarf, that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, men wore scarves and big collars as protection–you know, before there was central heat. In the cold weather I sometimes wear a necktie just to keep my throat warm. It helps to have several that I bought for a buck apiece at resale shops. What does he think men’s vests are for? Ohh, yeah, to signal conformity.

    I happen now to live in a country where dressing well (not necessarily with a necktie) is considered something one does for oneself and also to look good for other people. But then we are allowed to receive “elevator looks” here without writing a New Yorker article about our resentments at them.

    Let me put this out there in the Anglosphere: One may not want to spend one’s time looking at a U.S. Male sporting bed-hair, wagging a tie he “can’t tie” because it “chokes him” because he’s wearing a shirt that is too small with a collar he can’t button after that “unknown” thirty-pound weight gain. And one wonders about the rise of the fabled incel…

    There are benefits to masks. There are benefits to neckties. There are no benefits to pretending that a necktie is a sign of subservience. What does this jamoke wear to a wedding, to honor the marriage-certificatees? Bermuda shorts and something stylish to show off the man boobs?

    And a dark t-shirt at funerals. Tucked in.

    And don’t even get me going on Americans and “flirting.”

    1. Vicky Cookies

      I’d be interested in your comments on American flirting – are we inept? Crude? Artless?
      I enjoy making someone laugh and feel noticed, but I certainly don’t have any expertise. Much of American dating and mating behavior, at least among my cohort, seems influenced by popular culture: movies, television, pop music, &c. – advertisements showing us how to relate to one another!

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          im not averse to pick up tips from nC….
          i reckon i need all the help i can get…
          all i got is “stop looking”, because it worked that one time, 27 years ago.

          oh, and ties have always seemed too leash-like, for my delicate sensibilities.
          ive worn a tie exactly twice…bow tie at prom, and a regular leash for a job interview.

    2. nippersdad

      Thank you. As a fully fledged member of the Anglosphere I concur with your analysis.

      While one can understand the efforts to normalize the wearing of pajamas in every possible circumstance by those who do not feel the need (or cannot afford) to spend anything on their wardrobe, their issues thankfully are not mine. You dress for the demands of the occasion, and excuses for not doing so are thin on the ground.

      In our throw away society if you take your time a decent wardrobe can be had for comparatively little money, and there is no ultimate long term benefit to looking like you slept in your clothes or have not had a shower for a week.

      I would suggest that they save the homeless look for when they are at home. Dressing well is both an art and one of the pleasures of life. If the essence of non-conformity now lies in a wardrobe full of gray sweat pants and ratty T-shirts they are welcome to continue the practice on their own.

        1. nippersdad

          So I was in this TJ Maxx type place the other day and I go to look at shirts. Just rack after rack of gray and black sweat shirty kind of stuff. While I was in there, I was surrounded by people wearing variants of black and gray sweat shirty kind of stuff which could stretch out to any kind of shape necessary, and it reminded me of that old Wendy’s commercial about the Soviet fashion show:


          For a few weeks before Christmas it was just incredibly dreary. But you be you, dude! Nothing out there stopping you from making a fashion statement worthy of an old Wendy’s commercial.

          1. see?

            I am me, obviously. And while I don’t dress that way myself (not regularly, anyway), I have some friends and some family who do.

            Your TJ Maxx interlude was somewhat entertaining. Feel good?

          2. flora

            Thanks for this comment. I wonder how much shapeless US dress is due to overweight, almost waist-less bodies. And I wonder how much grey and black is due to mental despair. Yeah, ok, I’m overthinking this. Got it. Even so, I’m going to start wearing brighter colors, appropriate to my age (never going to dress as mutton dressed as lamb, as they say) , as a call out to encouragement and joy and fun in life. Really. / my 2 cents

            1. The Rev Kev

              I notice a lot of houses here being painted grey and it seems to be a thing. The orange brick house I grew up in was completely renovated and it is all shades of gray now too.

            2. nippersdad

              I think you have valid points about stretchy, dreary colored clothes these days. You aren’t overthinking it at all. Interesting clothes can be hard to find, get spendy, and thinking about what to wear is for some nearly as unpleasant as thinking about what to make for dinner is for me (I could live on grits). I get it.

              I do believe, however, that there is a cut for every body type out there. I have seen women that have the bodies of potatoes that just grab your eye in a simple coat dress, and I am always amazed at how well Chris Christie can fit that celestial body of his into clothes that suit even such as him. It just takes a little thought, respect for yourself and for those around you.

              There are few pleasures in life greater than seeing my wife go out there and grab eyeballs. At sixty two she routinely has twenty year old students stop her to compliment her on her outfits. There are days when she dresses like a movie star on Tahiti, and days where she borrows my pocket watch and chain to play banker. There is a variety to it and an ego boost that I think everyone should have, and it really is easy to do once one gets the hang of it. You just need to ensure that you are having fun with it.

              1. flora

                And the best part is that one can do this even on a very limited budget by shopping thrift stores or thrift clothing emporiums if one knows what to look for. Style isn’t about cost. Style is about ‘style.’ As they say. / :)

                1. nippersdad


                  And if you want to get really inexpensive, there is always the boyfriend/husband’s wardrobe as well. I doubt they will mind. A pair of jeans and one of my shirts with a belt (maybe use a tie?) is one of my favorite outfits of hers. Trust me, in spite of her gray hair she looks like anything but a gray haired, middle aged lady.

              2. ChrisPacific

                I’m glad it’s easy for you, but you should be careful about projecting that onto others.

                I’ve learned that I can’t do it, and it’s best not to try. This was, originally, not for lack of trying. I’ve been in the fancy, high end stores with the assistant helping me put together ensembles (usually when somebody else was paying). It was generally a profoundly uncomfortable experience. Nothing looked any better than anything else to me. I’d listen to the assistant tell me how good it all looked and try to convince myself to feel the same way. I’d wear the clothes together in the exact combination I bought them, which worked until one of them wore out or got stained or something. Then I’d either leave them to gather dust (with a pang thinking how much they cost me) or try and remember the rules and apply them myself by combining them with other clothes. After a few gentle interventions from friends wanting to know exactly what I was wearing and why, and trying to explain how I’d either remembered or applied the rules wrong, I realized it probably wasn’t a smart thing to do.

                The whole experience was like I imagine people on the autism spectrum must feel when trying have conversations and navigate social cues that are a mystery to them and everybody else just seems to know automatically. I became a chameleon, noticing what others wore in certain environments and buying clothes that matched the norm as closely as possible and wouldn’t draw attention. I stuck to neutral colors like blacks, whites and greys to reduce the chance of inadvertently walking around looking ridiculous.

                But with age comes wisdom. Eventually I realized that if I wasn’t enjoying it, the only reason to do it was to please others, and that was only necessary if I cared about what they thought – and in most cases, I didn’t. I started dressing in practical, comfortable clothes that I liked, generally jeans and a plain T shirt or something, and it was such a relief. I won’t do it if it’s wildly inappropriate for the setting – my chameleon outfits are still in the wardrobe when needed – but I only worry about that when necessary.

                Regarding your cooking analogy, I do love to cook, and I take pride in using high quality ingredients and preparing them in a way that does them justice. But it’s not for everyone, and if it stresses you out and you’d be happier eating grits for every meal, then more power to you. For my part, I’m not avoiding dressing up because I’m fat, or homeless, or an incel, or from a Wendy’s commercial, and I’m especially not doing it because I lack respect for myself. Lacking respect for myself would be performing a skill that I don’t have and don’t value, in order to please people who I’ll probably never speak to or interact with anyway.

                1. nippersdad

                  I am glad you have found yourself in jeans and a T-shirt, but at least you aren’t wearing sweat shirts and pants everywhere.

                  To take the cooking analogy further, perhaps the difference here is that I have studied it despite having little interest in food. That I could easily live on grits everyday does not mean that I do so, because it would impact others; hence the hundred or so cook books. I can make anything, I just won’t eat it when it is done. By then a glass of wine does me fine while everyone else enjoys their coq au van.

                  The rules of dress are not hard. A copy of Alan Flusser may be all you require to feel less stressed over it. You don’t have to play with it every day, but when it is necessary at least you will feel comfortable in the skin you have chosen.

                  I was quite serious about the TJ Maxx thing, and that is something that I cannot understand. How does one end up with a store full of people wearing gray sweat pants and black sweat shirts three weeks before Christmas? That doesn’t sound normal to me, and it looks utterly depressing.

                  1. Irrational

                    I think you may have partly answered your question in the last paragraph – you buy what is available.
                    For example I have been looking for a relatively light-colored winter coat in the last few years so that I would be more visible as a pedestrian. Feels like 99% of coats are black! I have a back-up too-warm coat, so I have not given in yet, but not everyone can wait or up their budget.
                    Btw, just to chime in with some of the other commenters: Mr Irrational hates ties – I think the leash analogy is pretty close or even the noose. He otherwise dresses nicely ;-)

                    1. nippersdad

                      You might consider looking on ebay for what you need. That is my go-to source. We tend to have what might appear to be conspicuous consumer buying habits, but we have always taken the idea of recycling very seriously, to the degree that it is our first instinct.

                      I don’t buy new stuff unless it is at least fifty percent off, and most of what I get is actually used and bought for pennies on the dollar. Ex: The last coat I bought was a formal Brooks Brothers cashmere overcoat with a shawl collar. It was in perfect condition (it didn’t look like it had ever been worn) and only required a dry cleaning. The coat cost thirty dollars, the shipping was ten the dry cleaning was twelve. I don’t think that fifty two dollars for a two thousand dollar coat was all that bad a return for having to spend time looking for it on ebay, and it looks great with a pair of jeans.

                      The thing that aggravated me about the tweet was the smug idea that everyone dresses as some kind of class signifier, and to dress badly was a way to stick it to the man. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you don’t have to wear things inappropriately and you don’t have to be in your face about it to just have a little fun and not depress the living shit out of those who are forced to look at you. No one is saying you have to wear a tie, but no one should be saying that those who do are house elves either.

                      That just didn’t compute.

                    2. ChrisPacific

                      I agree the tweet was obnoxious (God forbid that someone might wear a tie simply because they like to).

                      Personally I also find somewhat offensive the idea that people are not simply free to dress as they like in a shared public space, but have an obligation to look aesthetically pleasing to others. Whenever an idea like this pops up, it nearly always turns out that the aesthetic in question happens to be largely congruent with the styles worn by the influential and the powerful (ties, jackets, suits). That’s what people are talking about when they use terms like that. ‘Class signifier’ is overstating it, but we could call it social obligation. The characteristic is absolute assurance that they are right, and that society will back them up. There are other aesthetics – goth, hipster, punk, LGBT, and so on – but rarely do they feel the same entitlement to insist that the environment and people around them conform to their idea of what’s acceptable. When they do there is generally some kind of coercion involved, like military fashion. Ask a gay person about social obligation sometime – what’s invisible to you can be very real and problematic to others.

                      I find it easier to take from you because you’re obviously coming from a good place. You enjoy it, and you want others to have the same enjoyment. And you were just lamenting the shapeless trackies look at TJ Maxx, not passing judgements on the whole tribe of the wrongly-dressed like the original commenter was. Fair enough. But you are nonetheless displaying the kind of certainty I describe.

    3. Randy

      You jerked my chain, hard.

      I HATE neckties. When I was forced to wear one when I was under my parent’s jurisdiction I HATED it. When I was forced to attend church until I was confirmed I saw all the hypocrites dressing up in their suits with neckties thusly proclaiming their piousness as Christians when they were the biggest asshole hypocrites in the community. I see hypocritical politicians with neckties as their uniform. I see the greediest people in the world dressed in their uniforms with neckties as standard equipment. I’m sure there are more examples I could find of worthless people that wear neckties to proclaim their higher status than the rest of us but I have provided enough.

      If I have to wear a suit and tie to any event I will not be there. The best use for a necktie would be to dunk it in gasoline, light it on fire and watch the wearer try to remove it the flaming tie before it burns his face. A necktie as a scarf? Oh, please, spare me. It will keep the wearer warmer if lit on fire. When I die if my wife buries me in a casket with a suit and necktie I will haunt her till the end of time.

      Neckties loudly proclaim status quo and I profoundly hate them.

      Did I sufficiently specify how much I hate ties?

      1. Randy

        I am not a fan of organized religion either.

        After my previous comment I should have said, “OK, let the debate begin.”

      2. Quentin

        Remember how way back then the Iranians gave up the necktie as the audacious sign of their Islamic Revolution in 1979. Oh those were the days…they’ve still not ended.

      3. NYMutza

        I also hate neckties. They reduce blood circulation to the brain, require ironing, serve no useful purpose, and most end up in landfills after a year or two.

        1. Nippersmom

          Who on earth irons neckties? What are you doing to them to make them require ironing? Also, your necktie shouldn’t be any tighter than your shirt collar. Do you not buy shirts that fit properly? Finally, if your neckties end up in a landfill, you must be buying terrible ties. A decent tie made from natural fabric properly cared for should last years, if not decades.

          1. flora

            Shirts that fit properly.
            Thank you.
            If a man grew up wearing hand-me-down-shirts a shirt sizes too small, well this might explain much.

            Also, I’m minded of the story in The Little Prince about a great man and his ideas who was discarded by the West when he wore his native garb, but when he wore well fitting Western garb he was listened to and his ideas were taken seriously.

          2. ambrit

            Like the pink silk tie I once wore to work, (commercial construction site,) on the day I had been warned I was going to get the ax. Try to find matching tie and hardhat ensembles. I dare you. I settled for a yellow hardhat to compliment the pink tie. {I was still run off of the jobsite at lunchtime for being a “disruptive influence.” Fashion sense is evidently not in the skill set required of a foreman.}

          3. Polar Socialist

            For the half a dozen occasions per year that I need a tie, I use the silk ones I got 4 decades ago. Still looking good, and never been ironed.

            After use I just untie them and hang nicely to wait for the next call of duty. After I got a decent tie clasp, I’ve barely noticed I’m wearing a tie.

        2. Antagonist Muscles

          From a freely available paper on PubMed, entitled
          Effect of a tight necktie on intraocular pressure:

          Moreover, if the patient consistently were to wear a tight necktie as a normal preference in daily life, this could lead to a sustained increase in IOP (intra-ocular pressure) and could predispose to the development of glaucomatous optic neuropathy, thereby rendering a tight necktie a risk factor as well as a confounder of accurate IOP measurement.

          Also from the same paper:

          We hypothesise that the mechanism for the increased IOP is that the tight necktie constricts the jugular vein, thereby causing elevated venous pressure and thus elevated episcleral venous pressure, in turn elevating IOP.

          I don’t suffer glaucoma, but I do study a lot of ophthalmology papers. The next time I visit my ophthalmologist, I’m going to encourage him to discard the tie. He should be plenty knowledgeable about how awful glaucoma is.

      4. ForFawkesSakes

        Thank you for touching on the class aspect of wardrobe. Ties aren’t used for warmth. They’re a class signifier.

        1. Nippersmom

          Speak for yourself. I often wear ties for warmth in the winter, and have no need to “ signify my class”.

        2. Robert Gray

          > Thank you for touching on the class aspect of wardrobe.

          I believe it was Thoreau who said (something to the effect of): ‘Beware of any endeavour that requires new clothes’.

          1. The Rev Kev

            That’s it. Hell, when I was younger I even had a pair of bell-bottomed trousers. The 70s were a strange time. :)

      5. rory

        Ted Williams, my boyhood baseball hero, refused to wear a necktie. Even at age 10 I admired him for that and have tried to follow his lead as much as my circumstances permit.

      6. ChrisPacific

        I don’t hate them – I own a few, and can tie them pretty well. I just don’t see the point. It’s a colored bit of fabric that hangs down from your neck. It makes people look like they have a colored bit of fabric dangling from their neck. Which they do. What am I missing?

        I wear them when the social contract requires it, which is thankfully not often in my circles.

    4. jhallc

      A tie has it’s uses. How else are you going to keep your shirt clean when that jelly donut squirts out the back end.

    5. eg

      The tie was part of my work uniform for the best part of over 30 years. Retired now for 3 years and may have worn one twice? Strictly for funerals now.

    6. Irrational

      I’ll just add here at (what I think is) the end of the tie topic:
      On Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch) during carnival season / Mardi Gras, the women are in charge and so traditionally they cut the ties of the men with no regard for price.
      Years ago someone at the office forgot and wore a very expensive silk tie.. he was not amused.

  6. Carolinian


    no vendettas

    from would be Reichsfuhrer Haley–undoubtedly true unless the picky consider her “finish them” to be a vendetta. And there won’t be any whining because her critics will be removed from Facebook and most especially TikTok.

    Or at least it would be irresponsible not to speculate given her statements. The diff between Nikki’s verbal chaos and Trump’s is that many of the elites have approved her message. And that is a bit scary.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      If any State Democrat parties offer primaries in particular states offering something worth voting for, people might well want to vote for that.

      But in states without any Democratic Primaries worthy of the name “primary”, perhaps voters against the Axis Of Koch might want to vote for Trump in their state’s Republican primary in order to defeat Haley in order to defeat the Axis of Koch which supports her. If the Axis of Koch could be seen in public to have its endorsement carry no power and confer no victory, it might be a first step towards weakening the Axis of Koch.

      And after defeating HaleyKoch in the primaries, people could still vote for Biden/Harris in the general if they want to . . . voting against the Greater Awful and all . . .

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Wow indeed! This is a very important landmark event for all of mankind and kind-of-men.

      But in truth I didn’t click. Is Kim Kardashian a man now? And which one is she again? Daughter? Mother? Former dad? I really do not know my Kardashians very well. I’m so poorly informed I probably couldn’t pass a citizenship test these days.

  7. flora

    re: Vegas shooter. He was 67 and applying for a new job at a uni. I promise you that agism is alive and well at unis. Unless you’re a big grant generator or famous in your field unis start edging out 65+ year old faculty as quick as they can. Ageism, yes. But it happens individual by individual at hundreds of independent unis in the country, so no class action lawsuit is possible, and taking on a uni’s financial means with a private suit is a poker game an individual will lose. They’ll be “bid out of the game.” Better to walk away instead of spending one’s life savings on a losing lawsuit.

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many great faculty who when younger were treated as one of the team, and then reaching 65 or 66 wonder what the hell happened? Why is admin and hr suddenly marginalizing or severely down-rating them at their annual evaluation after everything seemed fine. Too many profs take it personally and become very depressed or angry. It’s not personal. It’s economics. I’ve watched it happen at my uni for over 20 years. Admin wants those salaries for other purposes or to hire cheaper adjuncts or young, less expensive non-tenure track faculty. One of the team talk is flattery.

    1. Felix_47

      Flora your experience and reporting is completely on the mark. One factor as well might be that the older faculty who went through a different American educational system ended up being too white or Chinese. I am seeing older Chinese faculty treated like older white faculty as well. The Unis seem to want to replace their faculty with a group that more closely matches the student demographics which have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. But we are getting pensions so not a whole lot to complain about.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Having sat on the cabinet of a tiny southern college, I can tell you one factor in efforts to get rid of older faculty. Each year, the guy who sold the college medical coverage would meet with the cabinet and lay out which individuals were causing this year’s “unavoidable” rate increase. Not surprisingly, most of the people who ended up on that list were older.

    3. eg

      I see Turchin’s “elite overproduction.”

      Needless to say, his “wealth pump” has been in overdrive for about 40 years now …

  8. southern appalachian

    “I found this on Hacker News; I wonder if some NC readers propagated “Macaulay Library” there?” not a site I visit but the Merlin app with Sound id is very useful, when I’m out and about riding a bicycle. I’ll stop and check. Also use iNaturalist and the companion Seek app for identifying plants bugs birds also, in part because it will then upload the observation into the iNaturalist database.

    1. Judith

      I like Sound ID. It is fun and really quit amazing, but not perfect (not a complaint). It once identified frogs as an American Bittern (which sort of makes sense). And if I forget to enable Location Services it can suggest birds from far away.

      1. Randy

        Here in summer the birds are heard in the canopy but never seen. While not perfect Sound ID is essential for filling gaps in bird ID without an actual sighting. Merlin Bird ID has vastly decreased my ignorance about local birds, however it still won’t identify a Brown-Headed Cowbird from the criteria I give it.

        1. Judith

          It’s also helpful for those quick looks that I am uncertain of. A few weeks back I had a not-good-look at a reddish bird (not cardinal red). Sound ID identified it as a red crossbill, which is rare in western Massachusetts but has been sighted somewhat regularly this season (an eruption year for red crossbills). Nice to have seen it, however briefly.

  9. JM

    The Telegraph article doesn’t address whether the 25-30% who had this transcription error received any protection from the vaccine. I don’t suppose it was completely ineffective, probably just individual cells messing up the protein, but that’s just a guess; and if so how much less effective. How did that not show up in the earlier trials?

    Seems to me like a grand way to cook up new prion diseases as mRNA gets pulled into all sorts of shots.

  10. Deschain

    Swift was nineteen years and eleven months old when she released that song. Right at the boundary of older teens, but a teenager nonetheless.

      1. Pat

        By the time she filmed that she had been a professional song writer for over half a decade, and was on her own second album. And despite her drive and intelligence, or maybe because of it, she has never been that good an actress. She was only a teen chronologically.

        1. hk

          I remember a review of her music to that effect back then: that she was writing music about teen angst, but she never had a normal teenage life….

    1. tegnost

      I saw a headline earlier today that he or his foundation are giving 100 million for homelessness and I thought “oh great, 2 million per state, green tent washing ftw..”

  11. Wukchumni

    Pavlovegas gets a different breed of mass murderer, the Mandalay Bay killer in 2017 was a wealthy investor, and now sin city has a professorial perforationist~

    Oh, by the way…

    ‘Vegas Strong’

  12. ChrisRUEcon


    > Even though AP doesn’t say what rank of professor — Tenured? Full? Associate? Adjunct?

    (via abc11.com)

    [Anthony] Polito began work as an assistant professor at East Carolina University on Aug. 13, 2001. He worked in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the College of Business. He resigned on Jan. 17, 2017 as a tenured associate professor.

    1. Acacia

      The issue, as flora elaborated above, is likely that he’s 67 years old, and despite the wave of wokeness washing through USian universities, ageism is apparently A-OK.

      My guess would be that something happened during the job process that made him snap and go ballistic.

      There must be a name for this “imma take all you mofoz with me!” syndrome… but I am just out of the loop on the current lingo.

    1. The Rev Kev

      No surprise. Israel deliberately targets journalists as a matter of course. Why yes, it is a violation of the Geneva Convention but for Israel, that is more of a checklist for them.

    1. Cassandra

      It is possible that the “immunity debt” theories are offered seriously and are evidence of brain fog and uncritical thinking.

      But I tend to think they are just trolling us.

  13. Tom Doak

    I actually received a letter and brief survey from my congressman yesterday – a Republican retired military guy – where we as constituents stand on support for Ukraine and Israel.

    It’s the first time in 10+ years he’s actually sought out the mood of constituents. He is staunchly pro-military, but clearly uncertain what position to take on the two wars and their costs.

    I’m happy to provide my two cents, especially since they have used way more of my tax dollars than that on the wars.

  14. nippersdad

    Updating the discussion from yesterday about Hamas molesting women hostages, I thought this was an interesting development. White House spokes-holes Kirby and Miller have yet to get the memo that that line of rhetoric is backfiriing:

    “Renewed fighting in southern Gaza and accusations by the U.S. and Israel that Hamas leaders are abusing the female hostages sexually are further straining talks, the officials said.

    “It is a sick truth of this particular group that they use sexual violence as a weapon and a tool,” Kirby said in another briefing Wednesday. “Sadly, I think it’s safe to assume that they’re still using sexual violence as a weapon, but I can’t speak to specific cases.”

    State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Monday that Hamas does not “want these women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.”
    The IDF appears to be distancing itself from such statements. “Following some comments aired in the last day on the topic of the hostages in Gaza, the discourse on the topic is irresponsible, inaccurate and it should be avoided,” the IDF said in a statement released Wednesday.”


    When you have lost the IDF you know you are in trouble.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      The most disingenuous thing about posts like this is that the tacit accusation is against non-Jews because family-blog ice-holes like SamA are NEVER EVER willing to acknowledge or confront anti-Zionist Jews, like Ilan Pappé (via YouTube).

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Re-reading my response here, I’d like to clarify that “posts like this” refers to SamA’s tweet, not JB’s comment … :)


  15. Pat

    Caught Chris Christie on Face the Nation last weekend, Chris’ horrified recounting of specious forensic evidence that Hamas were insane and ferocious (“there were hundreds of bullet holes…” was clearly scripted and part of the “truth” campaign. I also remember some of Nikki Haley’s greatest hits from her time at the UN. That they doubled down on supporting genocidal Israel would be no surprise.

    Quite honestly the vacuous narcissistic prime examples of the Peter Principle that are the Republican and Democratic presidential wanna be B teams are amazing. None of them should be running the corner newsstand, much less the country.

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