2:00PM Water Cooler 3/1/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Winter Wren, Grand Manan Island; Middle Dam Pond, New Brunswick, Canada. “JUMBLED COLLECTION OF MUSICAL NOTES.” Hardly!

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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


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R) (Willis, Election Interference) “Ex-divorce lawyer’s testimony complicates Willis, Wade controversy” [The Hill]. “The defense is seeking to disqualify Willis, Wade and the entirety of the Fulton County district attorney’s office from continuing to prosecute the sweeping racketeering case against Trump and several allies. At the heart of their argument is the timeline of Willis and Wade’s relationship, which defense attorneys say began prior to Wade’s hiring. The defense claims Willis has benefited from Wade’s employment via trips the pair took together while dating. Wade was hired in November 2021. Both prosecutors have maintained that they began dating in early 2022 — after Wade’s hiring — and broke it off in summer 2023, just before Trump’s indictment was handed down, insisting there is no conflict. But testimony this week threw their timeline further into question. Ashleigh Merchant, an attorney for 2020 Trump campaign operative Michael Roman, who first publicly surfaced allegations of the relationship, presented Bradley with the defense’s silver bullet Tuesday: text messages showing the ex-Wade law partner confirming the defense’s timeline…. Despite Bradley’s demurring on the witness stand, his text messages align with testimony given at an earlier hearing by an ex-friend of Willis. Robin Yeartie, who met Willis in college, testified earlier this month that Willis and Wade began a romantic relationship in 2019, after a municipal court conference — and several years earlier than the prosecutors have claimed, under oath. Willis dismissed Yeartie’s testimony.” And: “Judge Scott McAfee will hear arguments from the attorneys Friday afternoon and will then proceed to craft a decision. He previously said the allegations against Willis and Wade ‘could result’ in their disqualification if evidence shows an ‘actual conflict of interest or the appearance of one.'”

Trump (R) (Willis, Election Interference) “Texts Show Witness Readily Helped Build a Case to Disqualify Trump Prosecutors” [New York Times]. undreds of text messages obtained by The New York Times show that Bradley, a former law partner and friend of Wade, helped a defense lawyer to expose the relationship between the two prosecutors. The texts reveal that Bradley, who served for a time as Wade’s divorce lawyer until the two men had a bitter falling-out, assisted the effort to reveal the romance and provide details about it for at least four months — countering the impression he left on the witness stand that he had known next to nothing about the romance.” And: “Before exposing the romance in her Jan. 8 filing, Merchant asked Bradley in a text, ‘Do you think it started before she hired him?’ ‘Absolutely,” Bradley replied, adding that the romance had started when the two served as local judges, before Willis’ election as district attorney in 2020. But on the witness stand this week, Bradley said he had only been ‘speculating’ about the timing. Although Wade had told him about the relationship, he said on the stand, he did not have direct knowledge about when it began.”

Trump (R) “Trump’s one loss this week: His 2024 courtroom strategy” [Axios]. “Trump’s delay tactics are paying off in court, but he may be losing one of his most potent venues for his grievance-centered campaign: courthouses. It now appears likely that just one of Trump’s four criminal cases — the one in New York involving hush money paid to an adult film actress — will conclude before the 2024 election. That means Trump — who’s used court appearances for rants against against Democrats and fundraising pleas — may need new backdrops in casting himself as a victim of politically motivated prosecutors. Even as he’s orchestrated his court appearances as campaign messaging, Trump has complained of being ‘stuck here’ instead of being on the campaign trail. But some of Trump’s biggest fundraising hauls of the campaign have come after his courthouse speeches, his team has said. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday to hear arguments over whether Trump has immunity for any crimes committed as president has thrown a wrench into his court calendar — an extension of his campaign schedule.” • I’m sure the Democrats will come up with something else…

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Trump (R): “‘She sits in a tough chair’: Meet Susie Wiles, the operative trying to guide Trump through four indictments to the White House” [NBC]. “In a rare on-the-record interview the day after Trump romped to victory over Nikki Haley in South Carolina, the platinum-bobbed and blue-eyed Wiles, 66, said his success so far is attributable to precisely one person: ‘President Trump.'” She had better! More: “She said his natural political skills — ‘determination’ and being a ‘student of people’ and a ‘good reader of sentiment’ — have been coupled with invaluable experience gained over eight years in the political and policy arenas. ‘He’s now more knowledgeable about what it takes to be president after his first term. He’s more knowledgeable about how to interact with the media. His personnel instincts are, I think, better honed,’ Wiles said in a 30-minute phone call. ‘The new skills are inside the package of the same Donald Trump, and I think that’s what’s making the difference this time.'” But then there’s this: “A former Trump campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering him and Wiles, pointed to Trump’s cash crunch as a reason to doubt Wiles’ effectiveness. This person said Wiles is capable in state-level races and presidential primaries, in which close relationships with outside power players matter more than they do in a full-scale national campaign for the White House.” • We’ll see. But it makes sense to spend early and lock the nomination up. s

Trump (R): “No, Trump, ‘the Black people’ aren’t on your side” [Renée Graham, Boston Globe]. “‘I think that’s why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them,’ Trump said. ‘Does that make sense?’ No. It doesn’t. It’s a safe guess that a majority of ‘the Black people’ do not equate the legal wages of Trump’s self-inflicted sins — 91 federal felony counts from four indictments in four jurisdictions — with the more than 400 brutal years of legalized, systemic, and institutional discrimination that Black people in America have always faced.” • Surely not all or even most. But I can’t help but recall the (Black) people cheering Trump’s motorcade as he drove by on his way to being arraigned. Well-to-do suburbanites they were not. “What’s happening to me happens to them”? Yep.

Trump (R): “Trump Says He Is ‘Absolutely’ Considering Gov. Greg Abbott As Potential VP Pick” [HuffPost]. “In a joint interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump said the governor is ‘absolutely’ included on his vice presidential shortlist. ‘Certainly, he would be somebody that I would very much consider,’ Trump said in a joint appearance with Abbott. Trump praised Abbott as a ‘spectacular man,’ adding that he was honored to receive his endorsement this past November. Abbott, though [as he must], told CNN’s ‘State of the Union” Sunday that he remains focused on Texas and helping Trump win re-election in his current position as governor.” • What’s Abbot going to do? Swing Texas Trump’s way?

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Biden (D): “Axelrod: Biden Needs To Worry About Black Voters, Especially If Trump Picks Tim Scott As VP” [RealClearPolitics]. “[Trump’s] polling, you know, 20, 21% among, African-American voters here. Biden, got 88% of that vote, back in 2020. And this is going to be a marginal race. So, this is a concern. And, yes, Black men and particularly younger Black men are the ones that are drifting away. Some may vote for Trump, some may not vote at all. And, this has to be a concern, for the Biden campaign. Trump knows that. And I, by the way, I think it may impact on his vice presidential choice. And, you know, there’s a lot of talk about Tim Scott as a vice presidential candidate. I think if he picks Tim Scott, it’s partly because he recognizes this would be helpful in kind of sealing in, that portion of the African-American vote that he now has.”

Biden (D): “The Increasing Attacks on Kamala Harris” [The New Yorker]. The deck: “The Vice-President is trying to cast herself as a leader and connect with voters who are not excited about the Democratic ticket.” • I read the whole article, and it boils down to “trying.” There’s nothing there.

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Williamson (D): “Marianne Williamson Re-Enters 2024 Race After Winning 3% in Michigan” [Bloomberg]. “Self-help author Marianne Williamson said she is “unsuspending” her long-shot presidential campaign a day after winning 3% of the vote in the Michigan Democratic primary…. ‘Some people would say, ‘you’re delusional.’ But I’ll tell you what’s delusional. What’s delusional is just closing our eyes and crossing our fingers and hoping that somehow Biden and Harris will be able to beat that juggernaut of dark, dark vision,’ she said, referring to Republican Donald Trump, in a video posted on X, formerly Twitter. Williamson, 71, has championed progressive ideas, including Medicare-for-all and free college tuition. Her re-entry into the race is meant to capture ongoing dissatisfaction with Biden, 81, among some Democrats amid concerns about his handling of the economy and mental acuity.” • Here’s the Tweet:

Williamson (D): “Marianne Williamson ‘unsuspends’ her 2024 presidential campaign” [WXYZ Detroit]. The Democratic candidate announced Wednesday she is throwing her hat back in the ring, ‘unsuspending’ her campaign after announcing she was calling it quits three weeks ago. ‘I had suspended it because I was losing the horse race, but something so much more important than the horse race is at stake here, and we must respond,’ she said in a video posted to X. … Williamson, running as a progressive to the left of President Biden, came in third with around 3% of the votes, beating out fellow presidential hopeful Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota despite having already suspended her race.” • Williamson beats Phillips like a gong. That’s pretty funny.

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“Against Democrats’ ‘What, Me Worry?’ Approach to Losing Working Class Voters” [Ruy Tiexeira, The Liberal Patriot]. More recycled Thomas Frank, though it does seem that Tiexeira has the zeal of the apostate. Still, check this out: “… the progressive or intersectional left…. ” Tiexeira ties his shoelaces together right there. He apparently cannot — exactly as liberal Democrat cannot — of empowering the working class, period. Here is the mathematical defintion of intersection: “{1,2,3} ∩ {2,3,4} = {2,3}. “Less is less.” Surely what we want is “more is more”? Perhaps what we want is, not coincidentally, union {1,2,3} ∪ {2,3,4} = {1,2,3,4} (if I have that notation right, and I’m not sure I do.

“Americans Aren’t Paying Close Attention to the 2024 Election” [The Liberal Patriot]. Yes, Labor Day is a ways away. Interesting chart, though:

“Our democracy.”


“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 (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, 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, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“SARS-CoV-2 Contamination on Healthy Individuals’ Hands in Community Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic” [Cureus]. From the Abstract: “We collected 1,022 swab samples from the hands of healthy participants. According to the criteria for data collection, 97 samples were excluded, and 925 samples were analyzed using RT-qPCR…. The RT-qPCR-positive samples did not contain viable viruses, as confirmed by the plaque assay results…. The detection rate of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from the hands of healthy individuals was extremely low, and no viable viruses were detected. These results suggest that the risk of contact transmission via hands in a community setting is extremely rare.” • Shocked, shocked. Somebody tell CDC!


“Impact of community mask mandates on SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Ontario after adjustment for differential testing by age and sex” [PNAS Nexus]. Model study. From the Abstract: “In Ontario, Canada, irregular regional introduction of community mask mandates in 2020 created a quasi-experiment useful for evaluating the impact of such mandates… The prevented fraction associated with mask mandates was 46% (95% CI 41–51%), with 290,000 clinical cases, 3,008 deaths, and loss of 29,038 quality-adjusted life years averted from 2020 June to December, representing $CDN 610 million in economic wealth. Under-testing in younger individuals biases estimates of SARS-CoV-2 infection risk and obscures the impact of public health preventive measures. After adjustment for under-testing, mask mandates emerged as highly effective. Community masking saved substantial numbers of lives, and prevented economic costs, during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Ontario, Canada.”

Conversational tip:

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“Evaluation of the Efficacy and Aerodynamic Intervention of Face Shields against Pathogenic Aerosols Using Computational Fluid Dynamics and Wells-Riley Transport Model” (accepted article) [Philippine Journal of Science]. From the Abstract: “Results showed that the face shield is only effective against coughs hitting perpendicular to the surface. At other angles of attack, the protection by the face shield diminishes, and wearing a face shield can instead increase the infection risk against pathogenic aerosols.”

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“The Industrial Designer behind the N95 Mask” [Scientific American]. “[At 3M, Sara Little Turnbull] dug into that non-woven technology and all its many potential uses. She came up with 100 original product ideas, including one whose effects would resound across the globe: the moldable bra cup. Instead of an overly rigid and uncomfortable shape, the moldable cup fit snugly to the breast–and with fewer seam lines at that! [But] that moldable bra cup would pave the way for another invention – one with much farther-reaching effects… While she was working with 3M, Sara was also taking care of three sick family members. Both her parents and her sister were dying, all at the same time, which meant that Sara spent a lot of time in hospitals. And she began to notice the masks the doctors were wearing – a flat piece of fabric, with a tie in the back. Maybe it was the boredom of long hours spent in hospital rooms; maybe it was a racing brain that couldn’t be tamed; maybe it was a project designed to distract herself from her own intense grief – we can’t say for sure. But Sara had an idea. What if she could take that moldable bra that she’d designed… and turn it into a better medical mask? In 1972, 3M produced a mask… and it looked a whole lot like a moldable bra cup!” • Speculating very freely: Will Dr. Freud please pick up the white courtesy phone? Is it possible that the N95 activates unconscious taboos, and that this is one source for the unreasoning resistance to them?

“Compliance with containment measures to the COVID-19 pandemic over time: Do antisocial traits matter?” [Personality and Individual Differences]. 2021. From the Abstract: “This study investigated the relationships between antisocial traits and compliance with COVID-19 containment measures. The sample consisted of 1578 Brazilian adults aged 18–73 years who answered facets from the PID-5, the Affective resonance factor of the ACME, and a questionnaire about compliance with containment measures…. Our findings indicated that antisocial traits, especially lower levels of empathy and higher levels of Callousness, Deceitfulness, and Risk-taking, are directly associated with lower compliance with containment measures. These traits explain, at least partially, the reason why people continue not adhering to the containment measures even with increasing numbers of cases and deaths.” • A lot of libertarians in Brazil, then? (Seriously: I deprecate cross-country/cross-cultural studies. And I don’t think snarking on anti-maskers is effective, pragmatically, though heaven knows what is.)


“Reducing Vaccinia virus transmission indoors within 60 seconds: Applying SAFEAIR-X aerosol with Iodine-V as a disinfectant” [PLOS One]. “Iodine-V ((C26H39N4O15)x * (I2)y) demonstrates an in vitro virucidal activity by deactivating SARS-CoV-2 viral titers. The antiviral properties of Iodine-V reduce viral load in the air to inhibit viral transmission indoors. This antiviral property was applied to form a disinfectant solution called SAFEAIR-X Aerosol. … The experiment measured the antiviral efficacy of SAFEAIR-X following exposure to the Vaccinia virus (VACV) samples as a confirmed surrogate for SARS-CoV-2. The SAFEAIR-X showed 96% effectiveness, with 2 seconds of spraying duration and 60 seconds of contact time releasing less than 0.0001 ppm of iodine into the air, and a log reduction value of 1.50 at 60 seconds in 2 out of 3 tests was observed. Therefore, this study demonstrates SAFEAIR-X aerosol as a potential indoor surface and air disinfectant.” • Awesome. When can we buy it?

Elite Maleficence

“PETITION TO THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW CHALLENGING ALLEGED UNDERGROUND REGULATION” (PDF) [World Health Network] (embedded at the end of today’s Water Cooler). This petition challenges the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) “one day” guidance for Covid isolation, shortly to be adopted by the CDC, as we saw in Links this morning. Here is the key paragraph:

CPDH just promulgated the rule, arbitrarily. They don’t get to do that. CDPH must think they’re the CDC, or something. (On “underground regulation,” see “The California ‘Department of Political Health’ Mandates Covid Infection with Its New ‘One Day’ Order (and How to Stop Them)” at NC.)

“PETITION TO THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW CHALLENGING ALLEGED UNDERGROUND REGULATION” [World Health Network] (embedded at the end of today’s Water Cooler). The same argument, but for California’s department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), known as “Cal/OSHA.”

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot February 27: Regional[2] Biobot February 27:
Variants[3] CDC March 2 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 24
New York[5] New York State, data February 29: National [6] CDC February 17:
National[7] Walgreens February 26: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 24:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 5: Variants[10] CDC February 5:
Weekly deaths New York Times February 17: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 17:


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] (Biobot) Biobot drops, conformant to Walgreen positivity data (if that is indeed not a data artifact). Note, however, the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Regional separation re-emerges.

[3] (CDC Variants) 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.

[4] (ER) Does not support Biobot data. “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Not flattening.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down. “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†”.

[7] (Walgreens) That’s a big drop! It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening, consistent with Biobot data.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Down, albeit in the rear view mirror.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) About time for something to challenge JN.1. But what’s “other”? Something to look forward to, I guess! Alert reader RoadDoggie points out that “Other” is NV.1, which is (very suddenly) 12.5% of the total, even if JN.1 still dominates. Here is the Biobot history of HV.1:

As you can see, HV.1 was dominant in November 2023. On today’s CDC variant “NowCast,” it is quite low. Odd.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the United States fell to 47.8 in February 2024 from 49.1 in the previous month, firmly below market expectations of 49.5 to point to the 16th consecutive period of declines in manufacturing activity, erasing previous hopes of fresh traction in the sector.”

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Antitrust: “Google ‘predatory’ advertising practices probe expanded by Canada antitrust watchdog” [New York Post]. “As part of the Competition Bureau’s probe — which expands on an investigation that initially began in 2020 — the law enforcement agency obtained an order from the Federal Court of Canada requiring Google to producing relevant records and written information, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Competition Bureau was issued its first court order related to their investigation into Google’s conduct in the online-display-advertising market in October 2021, which sought to determine whether the Alphabet subsidiary was ‘impeding the success of competitors’ and surging prices as a result, The Journal reported.”

Tech: “Elon Musk sues OpenAI accusing it of putting profit before humanity” [The Guardian]. “Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit accusing OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, of betraying its foundational mission by putting the pursuit of profit ahead of the benefit of humanity. The world’s richest man, a founding board member of the artificial intelligence company behind ChatGPT, claimed Altman had ‘set aflame’ OpenAI’s founding agreement by signing an investment deal with Microsoft. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco on Thursday, claims OpenAI is now developing artificial general intelligence (AGI) – a theoretical form of AI that can perform a range of tasks at or above a human level of intelligence – for profit rather than for the benefit of humankind. ‘OpenAI Inc has been transformed into a closed-source, de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft. Under its new board, it is not just developing but is actually refining an AGI to maximise profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity,’ the lawsuit alleges.” • I don’t understand. Profit is “the benefit of humanity.” What other reason could there be?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 1 at 1:22:35 PM ET.

Photo Book

“Astronomy Picture of the Day” [NASA]. “How does the sky turn dark at night? In stages, and with different characteristic colors rising from the horizon.” Image Credit & Copyright: Dario Giannobile:

Zeitgeist Watch

“A new company is shipping Arctic ice from Greenland to chill posh drinks in Dubai” [CNN]. “The startup company, Arctic Ice, shipped its first container of around 22 tons of Greenland ice to Dubai this year for sale to high-end bars and restaurants. Founded in 2022 by two Greenlanders, Arctic Ice has an interesting — and controversial — business model. It scours the fjord near the country’s capital city of Nuuk for icebergs that have naturally detached from the ice sheet.​ “We are looking for the clearest and thereby also oldest and purest ice,” said Malik V. Rasmussen, one of the co-founders of Arctic Ice.” • Enjoy it while it lasts!

Air as a Service business model (alert reader DG):

Class Warfare

“Dr. Pangloss’s Panopticon” [Crooked Timber]. “What Acemoglu and Robinson are saying is something quite different than what Noah depicts them as saying. For sure, they acknowledge that persuasion has some stochasticity. But they stress that it is not a series of haphazard accidents. Instead, under their argument, there are some kinds of people who are systematically more likely to succeed in getting their views listened to than other kinds of people. This asymmetry can reasonably be considered to be an asymmetry of power. Under this definition, power is a kind of social influence. Again, it is completely true that it is extremely difficult to isolate social influence from other factors, proving that social influence absolutely caused this, that, or the other thing. But if Noah himself does not believe in the importance and value of social influence, then why does he get up in the morning and fire up his keyboard to go out and influence people, and why do people support his living by reading him? I imagine Noah would concede that social influence is a real thing! And if he were actually put to it, I think that he would also have to agree to a very plausible corollary: that on average he, Noah Smith, exerts more social influence than the modal punter argufying on the Internet. Lots of people pay to receive his newsletter; lots of other people receive it for free. That means that he is, under a very reasonable definition, more powerful than those other people. He is, on average, more capable of persuading large numbers of people of his beliefs than the modal reply-guy is going to be. This understanding of power is neither purely semantic nor empirically useless.” • Yep.

News of the Wired

“The Butterfly Redemption” [Hakai]. “Along with eight other incarcerated women, Heather is entrusted with the care and feeding of nearly 4,000 members of an endangered species, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. With this trust comes the privilege of working just beyond the razor-wire fence during the day before returning to life among the general prison population each night…. Recognizing the need for urgent action, the Oregon Zoo began a captive breeding program for the species in 2003. In 2011, the zoo helped establish the breeding program at Mission Creek as part of The Evergreen State College and Washington State’s Sustainability in Prisons Project. Since then, the work undertaken by these incarcerated women has become one of the last best hopes for the species’ survival.” • That’s good, or at least better, certainly for Heather. It’s too bad every citizen doesn’t have an easy pathway to becoming a citizen scientist. We need more of them!

“What To Do After You Finish the NY Times Crossword Puzzle” [Kottke.org]. Good compendium of crossword links. “But really the main thing to do after finishing the puzzle is to open the Spelling Bee back up… Am I right???” • I’m so old I remember when the paper version of the Times was actually an event. It weighed a metric f*ckton, cost under two bucks, and sometimes it was actually good! In my lifetime!

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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, lichen, 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 SR:

SR writes: “The majesty of bark. Sorry I don’t know what kind it is. But I haven’t seen you feature bark. And it is beautiful. Perhaps some woodpeckers’ handiwork too.” More bark would be lovely. After all, I stan for stumps, why not bark?

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APPENDIX World Health Network’s Challenges to California’s “One Day” Covid Isolation Guidance

I’d supply URLs, but these were only filed today, so they’re too new. Please circulate widely.

Petition on CalOSHA Underground Regulation


Petition on CDPH Underground Regulation
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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. griffen

    I grew up around a lot of pine trees in eastern North Carolina…that bark looks familiar to me…

    1. Wukchumni

      Looks like Ponderosa Pine bark, stick your nose in it and the aroma is that of vanilla or butterscotch.

    2. MaggieNC

      Yes… Looks familiar SENC … Long Leaf Pine… older tree… naval stores tree with history.

  2. antidlc

    Still messed up…
    U.S. prescription drug market in disarray as ransomware gang attacks
    Millions of Americans have been affected by delays in obtaining medicine or having to foot the bill without insurance

    A ransomware gang once thought to have been crippled by law enforcement has snarled prescription processing for millions of Americans over the past week, forcing some to choose between paying prices hundreds or thousands of dollars above their usual insurance-adjusted rates or going without lifesaving medicine.
    Insurance giant UnitedHealthcare Group said the hackers struck its Change Health business unit, which routes prescription claims from pharmacies to companies that determine whether patients are covered by insurance and what they should pay. The hackers stole data about patients, encrypted company files and demanded money to unlock them, prompting the company to shut down most of its network as it worked to recover.

    1. IM Doc

      I am at a complete loss to understand how this is happening after so many days.

      Things are so bad with this situation right now that when I went to refill a patient’s Rx this AM at the local grocery store chain pharmacy, the local grocery store pharmacy no longer even appeared as an option in my EMR. Thinking something was really messed up on that particular patient I went to another patient’s chart and it was exactly the same. That pharmacy chain, and now we have found out 2 others, are no longer even an option in the EMR. I understand from the tech people today that on our side the machines were so frantically trying to get these through that the messages were bogging down the complete system for all the other functional pharmacy chains, so they had to remove the offending ones from the entire system.

      Never in my career would I have ever believed the system would be so damaged. And this is now going on for 3 weeks. There is no end in sight.

      We have so many patients who are absolutely locked in to that particular pharmacy company that they must use for their insurance rates. And the pharmacy has no way to even begin to run it through the insurance. There are lots and lots of patients now going without meds at all. And so many having to pay hundreds of dollars per prescription because they are having to pay full freight.

      Again, a total disaster. Which federal agency should be in charge? Why are they not front and center? We are now days past this becoming a real crisis.

      1. antidlc

        This whole fiasco sounds like a great argument to just get rid of insurance.

        One formulary, negotiated rates, no insurance.

      2. David J.

        Anecdotal, but I called my GP on Monday to re-up my Eliquis prescription. Went to the pharmacy yesterday and it wasn’t available–in fact, no record of this particular prescription was in the system, even though I’ve been taking Eliquis for over a year now without problems. I called my GP’s office again and they told me that the prescription “went to print.” I said, “I don’t know what that means” and the reply from the nurse/tech was “I’ll call it in directly.”

        It may or may not have anything to with this, but I thought I’d relay my experience.

        1. IM Doc

          It has everything to do with it. When the EMR has exhausted itself and the system trying to send your electronic Rx to the pharmacy unable to accept it in our case 10,000 tries, it then bounces back to the doctor or the staff as undeliverable. In our case, this goes directly to the “print queue” to be printed off – and either a) handed to the patient even though their encounter was 5 days ago or b) signed off by the provider like we did in the Marcus Welby era – and then faxed to the pharmacy via 1980s technology. We have found repeatedly this week that the handoff to the print queue is also fraught with errors and the staff/MD may never even know there is a problem.

          FYI, the 10,000 tries is now why the entire system is slow and messing up things. The outboxes are exponentially increasing daily with undeliverable Rx that the systems are continuing to try to send. Again, we are days past crisis level. The entire EMRs, even those parts having nothing to do with Rx, are noticeably slower and hanging up on all kinds of things. They simply are having trouble accessing the cloud. We have had repeated problems, for example, the past 3 days or so accessing xray imaging and are just completely unable to send xray images to some outside facilities. It just hangs in the system, unable to find a channel out because everything is so clogged.

          This has been an eye opener for me. Problems with one major company over just a few days are causing the entire EMR landscape to have terminal seizures. Our entire system is now based on this “amazing technology” that has revealed itself these past few weeks to be much more profoundly unstable than paper charts ever dreamed of being.

          As my millenial office staff MA said this week – THANK GOD WE STILL HAVE PAPER & FAX MACHINES – WE WOULD HAVE BEEN DOA THIS WEEK.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Makes you wonder what other vulnerabilities are built into the healthcare system because of technology that have not yet revealed themselves – yet. It just needs a company to experience problems that turns out to be a technological keystone company for all the others.

            1. steppenwolf fetchit

              It makes me wonder which would be more chaotic over the long term . . . continuing on with the EMR system or abolishing EMR and going all the way back to ink-on-paper records?

              1. blowncue

                ALPHV is one of the largest groups performing “ransomware as a service,” splitting extortion money with affiliates that do the actual hacking and then install ALPHV’s BlackCat ransomware encryption program. ALPHV then handles the threats and negotiations.

                This is literally a software as a service business model with a reseller channel, except the reseller gets a royalty on the back end once the gross revenue is known.

                Except instead of the division of Customer Success you have a division of Customer Duress.

      3. Jason Boxman

        A big set of vendors at HIMSS in Orlando in 2014 sold ePrescribe systems. If only they spent as much money on writing secure, quality systems instead of fun times at conventions. The biggest party of that year, actually, was second-tier company Allscripts convention after party, sponsored by Microsoft as well I believe.

        Allscripts is a true debacle of a UI, one of the worst looking apps I’d ever seen. I felt bad for all the physicians and nurses forced to use this system. No wonder there’s a market for medical scribes, a role created because crapification! Fun times.

        I seem to recall there being over a hundred vendors there that day, all the names that you’d know, including Optum I believe. Took over a whole wing of the Orange County Convention Center, which is in itself absolutely massive.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          I still maintain that killing off those big conventions was the best thing about 2020 and early 2021. Most of them are huge wastes of money and excuses for corporate expense account fraud.

          Too bad that they came back, unlike offices which appear to now be in terminal decline.

  3. Tom Stone

    Inflation report from Sonoma County, I went by Trader Joes this AM and the Olive oil that was $7.99 a quart in September is now $11.99.
    An old friend has two Grandkids, one in pre school and one in first grade, they keep getting sick, since December they have not gone more than 2 weeks without a respiratory infection, and neither has their Mom.
    Perhaps if the CDC and department of Health hadn’t washed their hands of the matter so often something could be done to keep the kids healthy.

      1. Ranger Rick

        After years of fretting over whether or not the European olive oil I’m getting from the store is legit, I no longer seek it out. My last olive oil purchase was Chilean.

  4. Judith

    Sapsuckers drill rows of small holes. The rows can get quite long. Pileated woodpeckers drill larger rectangular-shaped holes. (I saw a fresh pileated hole recently and the ground was covered with small wood chips!)

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “…Musk sues OpenAI…”:

    I would love to see both parties become so impassioned and consumed by this that all their time and resources are devoted to the suit, thus halting work on everything else they’re doing to mess up the world. Would be as good as letting them fly off to Mars, but without the environmental impact.

    1. griffen

      In yesterday’s WC there was a few threads on AI and the Hugging Face company. All these AI conversations increasingly lead me to one of a few possible landing spots…

      A PK Dick novel…Ubik or another choice / Blade Runner inspiration for one
      Science fiction film franchise Alien… where it’s frequently hard to determine which species of creature is fundamentally worse…the Weyland Corp “building better worlds” or the face hugging, chest bursting parasitic killing machine…

      The above are my own thoughts or analogies , I guess just the tip of the fictional iceberg…

  6. Karla

    Attacks on Kamala Harris; Reverse that.

    To her supporters, please name one thing that she has achieved, an action, a legal victory, a knockout blow. Being a series of catagory check offs does not count. Repeating homilies doesn’t count.

    Look at the trail of disasters she leaves behind. Alameda Assistant D.A. How’s Oakland doing? San Francisco District Attorney~how is that city doing?The child molestation cases of the Catholic Church?, nope, because she never bothered to prosecute.
    Attorney general of California, no resolution to the Bay Bridge rebuilding disaster,
    Senator. Lots of grandstanding and cutout voting. Defeating Loretta Sanchez alienated Californias Latinos, many of whom will stay home or vote for Trump.
    3% voter approval rating for president in her own adopted state. Wow!

    How many permanant staff members does she have? A majority of former staffers have described her as a belligerent “bully.” No one can stand her.
    Her biggest assignment? Resolving the border crisis. How’s that going?
    The best way to insult a country is to send her there.

    Prediction based on rumors. Her high powered corporate lawyer husband is going to quietly dump her. She then moves back to Montreal where she grew up and opens a boutique.

    1. JBird4049

      No one can stand her Kamalaness and yet, somehow, the woman has successfully gotten a job as assistant DA, county DA, state attorney general, senator, and VP. That is five levels of increasing responsibility and power in which she has been a disaster each time. That is more than a decade of failure and almost no consequences except a promotion. Since the party leadership must have known about her issues and pushed her into each position anyways helps to explain why my county, state, and country are a mess. Harris is just an extreme example of the many politicians much like her.

        1. JBird4049

          The Lettuce?? I don’t get the reference. Unless it is about how so many politicians act like heads of them?

      1. ChrisFromGA

        The perfect example of failing upwards?

        I still think she’s cute, though. Put her in a room with Pelosi, Mitchster, and Biden and she practically lights the place up.

    2. Wukchumni

      It isn’t as if we don’t deserve somebody the likes of Kamala, it’d be tantamount to driving the country into a ditch, were she to lead us into the abyss.

    3. The Rev Kev

      She was also in Munich just before the war assuring Zelensky that the will be getting into NATO which helped Russia decide to go in.

  7. ron paul rEVOLution

    Re: What To Do After You Finish the NY Times Crossword Puzzle

    >The [theme answers] seemed listless (except [REDACTED], which just seemed bizarre), and the overall fill ran weak (and heavily, drearily name-y; more on that below), and then [REDACTED], ugh, I would’ve shut my computer right there if I weren’t contractually obligated to go on. […] As for the rest of the puzzle, it was gunked up with names to an unusual, and possibly dangerous degree.

    Got to agree with the comments on NYT puzzles being full of names–and As A Millenial, I don’t get any of them! I like the WSJ puzzles a lot, for anyone looking for more. They are also free.

  8. antidlc

    Remember that scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where the wicked witch flies on her broom and skywrites “Surrender Dorothy”?

    We need a plane flying over the CDC that skywrites “Resign, Mandy”.

    Sorry, my rage-o-meter is in the red zone.

    1. Stephen V

      It’s called Writ of Mandamus: suing an agency to force them to do their effiing job. IANAL but RFK Jr has the chops (and real-life experience) to do this in a heartbeat. Just sayin’.

  9. Jason Boxman

    For those following the Ukrainian war by way of Big Serge:

    Russo-Ukrainian War: The Deluge

    As the calendar barrels into another year and we tick away the days of February, notable anniversaries are marked off in sequence. It is now 2/22/2022 +2: two years since Putin’s address on the historic status of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, followed on 2/24/2022 by the commencement of the Special Military Operation and the spectacular resumption of history.

    1. Screwball

      Wow, just wow. I bypassed a few articles today about this topic on purpose. I knew if I read them my blood pressure would skyrocket (it did). Disclosure; I read the Taibbi article (who I like) and forced myself to watch that video. Cruel and unusual punishment.

      More disclosure; I was born, raised, and live in rural America. The sticks of NW Ohio in a little town I call Cornhole. About 15k in town and 50k in the county. Could be like an East Palestine, but a little bigger. Farm country. Only a few hours from the Amish.

      Those people are so FOS I want to scream. I really can’t find the words, and I’m not very good with words anyway. Milk a cow…Really? Then Sharpton says something along the lines of how the minorities (migrants was one he used) and these white rage people haven’t formed a coalition to help themselves? WTF?

      Well here’s a tip dumbass. The migrants here are harvesting your food, and the blacks work in all facets of the supply chain from here to the store so it finds it’s way to your table, just like the white Red Hat Trumpers you hate to much.

      Got milk? Jokes on you. We will be fine. Maybe they should milk a cow. I won’t tell them what it means when the cow’s tail goes up. Giggle.

      I mentioned the Amish above. Large contingent about 2 hours away. Huge tourist area. I often think they are the people who really get it. They won’t starve either. And for the record Mika, Paul, and all you snobby pricks – screw you from Cornhole.

      1. Carolinian

        My parents grew up in local farm country back when perhaps a majority of Americans still lived on farms. As kids they didn’t even have electricity. They grew much of the food they ate. One of my uncles was a bit of a bohemian and a wanderer and used to refer to what he called “barren urban intelligence” re the city snobs who then even more than now looked down on rural people. His small ramshackle house was full of books.

        The great irony of course is that now the city people seem like boobs with their devotion to Russiagate and TDS and other scary myths by which they frame their world. All forms of experience are valuable and my country dad said “nothing beats experience.” In an internet age the rubes have access to most of what the city folk have whereas the latter can’t say the same. They–or at least some of them–are now Mencken’s booboisie.

        1. Screwball

          I’m with you.

          I think the thing that bothers me most is the image they believe us to be. I hear it too much. It gets tired. This little town is a melting pot of America (we even have two colleges cause we’re so stupid). It ain’t perfect, and it’s not like we don’t have our problems, but for the most part, a very nice clean town full of wonderful people.

          You can sit in a bar (as an example where you might see the things we are accused of) and talk to a guy with a FJB hat on sitting beside his black wife, sitting beside two gay girls, who are beside a couple of factory workers, an ex migrant who worked the fields, couple of college kids, truck driver, city councilman, and a couple of local business owners.

          And everybody gets along. Imagine!

          Adding on edit; they all complain about the same things we do. Hum….

  10. steppenwolf fetchit

    Where did “White rural rage” come from?

    Here is a book which might help explain some of it.

    And here is another.

    And here is a book focusing much more narrowly on the rage-reasons and rage-reactions of some rural sectorloads of people after experiencing several decades of carefully engineered anti-farmeritic engineered-depopulation and “farmer-cleansing” carried out by the Federal Government and its economic sympathisers and patrons against the people and economy of a couple million square miles of non big-city America.

    And by the way, the Major Metropolitan Areas don’t produce most of the “wealth”. They produce most of the “money”. They produce entirely zero of the food, fuel, fiber, wood, minerals, etc. which are the wealth which get processed into goods and services after they have been grown or harvested or cut down or mined to begin with.

    For example, West Virginia has spent 150 years sending out coal, ore, wood, etc. And the cities / government have spent a few decades sending back some “money”.

  11. upstater

    Meanwhile the class 1 freight railroads continue to layoff skilled maintenance and inspection workers. The FRA is taking note, but is only toothless hand waving to do anything about it (by design!). Where is Mayo Pete and Amtrak Joe?

    UP and BNSF shop worker layoffs prompt scrutiny from FRA and union leaders

    FRA chief questions UP’s safety commitment, while union leaders urge FRA to conduct a safety blitz at BNSF; railroads say they are aligning workforce levels with demand

    1. JBird4049

      Maybe when an entire school gets barbecued by crashed gasoline or fuel rail cars? Or another small town is poisoned or set afire, perhaps in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping? Right now, I find it difficult to think of any likely train derailment that will cause major reforms.

  12. kareninca

    I have a zoom church acquaintance who has had all of the shots (for what that’s worth) and also has been and continues to be exceptionally careful about N95 masking in all settings that would matter. He has not til now caught anything since the start of the pandemic. But he just developed a respiratory infection and a very bad cough. If he has tested himself for covid, he hasn’t told me. I know that masks are not perfect and that is why I mask-plus, but I am still startled that he caught anything.

    I have always had a truly horrible memory. It is probably because I don’t have words going through my head like most people do; apparently that helps fix memories. I’ve gotten by, by doing really well on standardized tests. However, my recall memory is now better than that of most of the people around me.

    My mother just admitted to me that she voted for Biden in the last election; I wasn’t entirely surprised since she is a retired schoolteacher in a small New England town. She told me that she now regrets her vote terribly, since she thinks we are on the verge of a world war. This is surprising since I don’t remember her ever worrying about that sort of thing in the past.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe your mother has strong memories of the Cuban crisis when Americans were wondering if they should build a fall-out shelter in their backyard. It was only twenty years later that we learned about the possibility of a nuclear winter being a thing. That would have been a bad time to remember but now she sees that Biden is pushing the Russians to war over a country that most people could not have identified on a map two years ago-


      1. kareninca

        My mother wouldn’t know the Cuban missile crisis from a hole in the wall. She does exceedingly well on standardized tests but only reads kids’ books.

        1. Pat

          I am not old enough to have memories of the Cuban missile crisis, one of my earliest clear detailed memories is of Kennedy’s funeral on a teeny television in a wooden cabinet. I do, however, have distinct memories of air raid drills in grade school. My family also was very excited when Judgment at Nuremberg was first aired on television. The kids were banished, but all the adults watched. People were informed where the nearest nuclear shelters were. The signs were prominently displayed. And as a teen “The Day After” also had an effect. Unless your mother is in her fifties and her childhood is filled with Vietnam it is unlikely she missed the cultural fallout from World War II and the ongoing fear of nuclear war There were numerous ways both were part of our existence as children in the sixties without watching the news.

          Much of it was probably the result of fear mongering about communism. As an adult I can look back and see so much propaganda. But I have to admit that I know much of my unease about America deciding it can survive nuclear war is from the fear of those times, an almost subconscious fear. It is very possible that your mother remembers those days and of the acceptance that war with Russia would be nuclear and a matter of “ mutually assured destruction” and must be avoided, especially now that our brain trust either thinks that is no longer the case with no evidence except arrogance.

          1. The Rev Kev

            It is said that when Ronald Reagan saw “The Day After” that he got spooked by it as that was not the idea that he had of what WW3 would look like.

            1. hk

              Reagan’s memoirs (I think) includes a story about how shocked he was at how Soviet leaders reacted to the Able Archer exercises in 1983, that Russians genuinely feared the West as potential aggressors and that good diplomacy along with a credible show of good faith was desperately needed.

          2. kareninca

            My mother is 81 years old and not a molecule of that cultural fallout has ever landed on her. I realize that many people would have some awareness of the things that you have listed but she has not; they have not been of interest to her at all. People may lead mental lives that you would find surprising. That is why I was so startled when she said that she was “bummed” about the prospect of a world war; it was so very much out of character. And not because she has a sunny disposition because she does not.

  13. flora

    Taibbi’s latest. No paywall.

    MSNBC, Paul Krugman Panic Over “White Rural Rage”
    This week in undisguised class hatred: the New York Times and MSNBC slobber over a new book on the domestic threat


    An aside: I watched the embedded utube. The 2 authors kept insisting there was no reason for the 2016 rural vote going to T except rage. They also acknowledged almost as an aside the de-industrial areas in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys led to much economic anxiety there. Yet they somehow missed in the conversation that a big part of T’s attraction in 2016 was his pledge to stop two awful trade bills, the TPP and the TPIP. How soon they forget. I guess acknowledging something like would harsh their narrative. / ;)

    1. spud

      yep, its the free trade stupid, besides the crushing of the new deal. 1993 signaled the death knell of america.

      1. Andrew Richard

        1984 actually. This is the year of the first bilateral, the US-Israel deal, which was opposed by all US industry at the time including heavyweights such as Monsanto, Starkist, Dow Chemical, the entire California agriculture industry and the AFL-CIO. It was supported by Israel’s US domestic operatives, i.e. “the lobby.”

        Martin Indyk boasted that the 1984 US-Israel “trade deal” was the “wedge” that opened US congress critters up to other bilaterals and eventually NAFTA. The US-Israel “deal” was completely one-sided in favor of Israel and the results predictable, as it is the worst performing “deal” for the US other than NAFTA itself.

        1. Paradan

          Was ’84 the year that the Israelis gave the Soviets our targeting list for our nukes?

        2. steppenwolf fetchit

          Interesting. Then abolishing all the Free Trade Agreements would have to work all the way backwards to abolishing that first opening wedge Free Trade Agreement as well, if the abolition is to be complete.

          Free Trade is the new Slavery.
          Protectionism is the new Abolition.

    2. Pat

      And don’t forget that it might highlight that much of the anger that Trump won is being stoked by those enraged that those trade bills were scuttled.
      I honestly believe that much of our fourth estate and PMC, in their arrogant belief that they deserve their success, are bigoted enough to believe that the working class should be happy with what they, and their owners, give them and stop complaining – no snark. Acknowledging that they are right and the economic unrest in most of the country is the result of out right theft, not to mention that the deindustrialization of America has been bad not only for those angry voters but for country as a whole, is just unacceptable no matter how true.

  14. Lambert Strether Post author

    C.D.C. Shortens Isolation Period for People With Covid NYT

    The language is amazingly corrupt, even for CDC:


    Our goal here is to continue[0] to protect those at risk[1] for severe illness[2], while also reassuring folks that these recommendations are simple, clear, easy to understand and can be followed[3]

    [0] Lol.

    [1] Translation: The goal of public health is no longer preventing infection (or allowing the “at risk” access to shared air, either).

    [2] “Severe” is doing a of work there; even “mild” cases of Covid cause cumulative respiratory and vascular damage

    [3] Test, stay home for 10 days, mask up with an N95, avoid 3Cs spaces are all “simple, clear, easy to understand and can be followed.” CDC is making a virtue of its bungled messaging for the last three years. (Of course, the ultimate solution is clean indoor air, but since CDC, to this day, resists the implications that #CovidIsAirborne, that’s cannot be on their agenda.)

    Raynard Washington, health director of Mecklenburg County, N.C (Cohen emerged from NC, so I assume the “reporter”* got the name from Cohen):

    Having a streamlined, consolidated guidance[1] across the respiratory viral portfolio[2] will allow us to be able to do public health[3] on the ground at the state and federal level, to send a very clear message to people[4].

    [1] “Streamlined” is an aesthetic judgment, not a medical, let alone a public policy judgment (the Futurists, Italy’s proto-fascsists, loved streamlining).

    [2] Portfolio? Are we rethinking everything in financial terms, now?

    [3] Public health prevents infection. This policy does not.

    [4] A clear message isn’t the same as this message.

    And Washington:

    It’s not like people have on a sign that says, ‘I’m immunocompromised,’

    No, and better yet, we’re not going to lift a little finger to prevent them, are we? For example, Cohen could model public behavior that protects the immuno-compromised by wearing a mask. She doesn’t. Ergo, while claiming to protect “the vulnerable” in practice she is performing a population cull.

    NOTE * Not a word from any source critical of this decision; World Health Network, say.

  15. caucus99percenter

    Honolulu politics is unbelievably corrupt and dysfunctional. Not only is the light rail project an ongoing disaster; it seems they can’t even erect a simple concrete pillar for a pedestrian bridge.


    Maybe Hawai‘i needs to learn something from other Pacific island-chain countries, e.g. the ones who are turning to China for infrastructure deals.

  16. Lambert Strether Post author

    Hygiene and Respiratory Viruses Prevention CDC. This is the new guidance.

    First, note the scope:

    This guidance provides practical recommendations and information to help people lower risk from a range of common respiratory viral illnesses, including COVID-19, flu, and RSV.

    Measles is an airborne virus. So even though all this guidance doesn’t apply to measles, you know that’s how people will interpret it. Entertainingly, measles destroys immune memory from previous infections, so another scientific communication blunder from CDC will make the flu, RSV, and Covid all worse. (The Flu and RSV are also airborne, although other forms of transmission may occur.)

    Hygiene and Respiratory Viruses Prevention

    The key move here is to separate clean air from hygiene (at the very least, an institutional imperative for both CDC and hospitals, who are still fighting #CovidIsAirborne tooth and nail, preserving desks jobs at CDC, avoiding liability for hospitals). The guidance:

    Covering your coughs and sneezes limits the spread of germs to protect others[1]. Handwashing with soap removes germs from your hands[2], making them less likely to infect your respiratory system when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol can kill these germs[3]. To remove germs and dirt on surfaces, use household cleaners that contain soap or detergent.


    [1] Coughing into your elbow does not limit Covid spread. And think of your hand as a very gappy mask. It won’t work either,

    [2] Not Covid.

    [3] Not Covid. Fomite transmission is not a thing with Covid, so hand sanitizers and surface cleaners are useless.

    Taking Steps for Cleaner Air for Respiratory Virus Prevention

    The key move here is to separate “clean air” from masking. Obviously, since #CovidIsAirborne, airborne protection is a continuum (“Swiss Cheese Strategy”) that CDC chops up, making a coherent understanding of transmission impossible. The guidance:

    Some germs spread in the air between people. This happens more easily in indoor, crowded spaces with poor airflow[1],[2]. To reduce the risk of exposure, it helps to improve air quality by increasing airflow, cleaning the air[3], or opting to gather outdoors[4].


    [1] Japan’s 3Cs formula — Closed, Crowded, Close Contact — is more memorable (and also known to work).

    [2] CDC carefully omits the fact that one can measure the uncleanness (risk) of the air with a CO2 monitor like the Aranet4 or similar. It’s almost as if they want you to remain ignorant.

    [3] Below, CDC mentions HEPA filters, but carefully omits Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, which are both cheaper and more effective.

    [4] CDC also carefully omits UV. While Far-UV remains controversial, I believe that upper room UV is proven.

    Preventing Spread of Respiratory Viruses When You’re Sick

    Here too CDC carefully separates the concept of “preventing spread” from masks, even though masks help prevent spread.

    Here is a diagram the “simple” and “streamlined” process that CDC recommends. I have helpfully annotated it:


    [1] Covid spreads asymptomatically (among superspreaders (Senegal): “Deepest transmission clusters are those with the highest percentage of asymptomatic members”).

    [2] First, “nobody tests any more” (as the absolute numbers at Walgreens show). One reason for that is that the public health establishment systematically dismantled testing. Second, in a fine example of the principle Edward Tufte devised after analyzing NASA’s PowerPoints after the Challenger disaster, that which is institutionally least important will be buried, even if central-to-mission. Hence, explicit precautions like masks are placed in small type at the bottom of the diagram.

    [3] Extending Tufte’s principle, protecting others is at the very bottom, in the last sentence.

    Masks and Respiratory Viruses Prevention

    The “what to know” section:

    Wearing a mask is an additional prevention strategy[1] that you can choose to further protect yourself[2] and others[3].


    [1] “Additional” to what? Handwashing? The equally effective herbal remedies? Crystals? And heaven forfend we should connect masking to either hygiene to either hygiene or cleaner air; those are separate sections, even though masks — follow me closely, here — clean the air.

    [2] Yourself first, naturally.

    [3] Others last. There is no sense whatever that shared air is a public good that should be pathogen free.

    Here is the simple and streamlined advice on masking:

    Generally[1], masks can help act[2] as a filter to reduce the number of germs[3] you breathe in or out. Their effectiveness can vary against different viruses, for example, based on the size of the virus. When worn by a person who has a virus, masks can reduce the chances they spread it to others. Masks can also protect wearers from inhaling germs; this type of protection typically comes from better fitting masks (for example, N95 or KN95 respirators[4], [5]).

    There are many different types of masks[6] that have varying abilities to block viruses depending on their design and how well they fit against your face. Cloth masks generally offer lower levels of protection to wearers, surgical/disposable masks usually offer more protection, international filtering facepiece respirators (like KN95 respirators) offer even more, and the most protective respirators are NIOSH Approved® filtering facepiece respirators (like N95® respirators).

    When choosing to wear a mask, choose the most protective type you can. Determine how well it fits[7]. Gaps can let air leak in and out. Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask. If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.

    Learn about proper technique for wearing an N95 respirator.[8]


    [1] The “generally” qualifier is an open invitation to skip the entire section. Who among us, after all, is not “exceptional”?

    [2] “Help” act? More faux qualification and precisions. What else is doing the filtration? My nose hairs?

    [3] We started with viruses, now we have germs. Yet another scientific communication fail.

    [4] Assumes the average reader knows what an N95 or KN95 is (and KN94 should be mentioned as well, but of course is not). Yet another scientific communication fail. The test: Could the average reader go on Amazon and even guess the right type of mask to buy? I say no.

    [5] Now we have “respirators” as a subtype of mask, without explanation. Yet another scientific communication fail.

    [6] “Many types” is confusing. Why not just say “blue surgical mask” (inferior) and respirator (superior), with an external link for Darth Vader masks? Note CDC carefully omits elastomeric masks with replaceable filters like Flo Mask. Yet another scientific communication fail.

    [7] CDC carefully omits any mention (or external link to) “mask hacks” like Badger frames, twisting straps to tighten the seal, tips on re-usability, etc.

    [8] This entire section reads like it was written by a hospital administrator who wants to keep buying baggy blues, and is making everything as complex as possible so obvious decisions that would benefit patients will never be made.

    * * *

    It doesn’t get better, but that is all I have time for now. CDC’s guidance is a crime against humanity.

    1. kareninca

      The people like Mandy that I know are so unimaginably stupid that it really could be an extreme lack of intelligence rather than malice. It is impossible to believe this until you talk with one of them and then realize that they are like a different species: the “can’t reason and can’t remember relevant points” species. I spend much of my time hiding from such people; so do most other people I know who aren’t morons. That of course gives the morons free rein. I hide from them in part because of an instinct that their stupidity might be contagious; also it is an aesthetic thing.

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