2:00PM Water Cooler 3/12/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Kind readers, we are now at 204 177 donors, or 51%44% of our goal of 400 donors (25 more than last year). You have moved the needle out of the “Catastrophically Bad” zone into the “Let’s Make This a Success!” zone [lambert wipes brow], for which I thank you all. If you enjoy starting Water Cooler with a birdsong, and finishing Water Cooler with a lovely photograph of a plant (or honorary plant (or reader project)), please support Water Cooler (or donate to provide the support that the unlucky cannot). I hope you enjoy the birds and plants as much as I do! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Pygmy Nuthatch, Mt. Lemmon, Arizona, United States. “About eight.” Busy busy busy!

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) The multi-threaded epic debacle at Boeing.

(2) Spooks and gaming.

(3) What the TikTok bill really says.

(3) WHO downgrades SARS-CoV-2 to BSL2 (but there’s a catch).

Look for the Helpers

Lambert here: I hope readers will send in more examples like this (“brighten the corner where you are“). The helper(s) don’t need to be heroic, let alone dramatic, or ego-driven, and certainly not institutional. To cite, of all people, the American Enterprise Institute, writing on Occupy, and citing to David Graeber:

In addition to trucking, bartering, and knocking each other over the head, Graeber argues that human beings also engage in a wholly different kind of economic activity: We often share things we have with others. When Graeber says that we are already communists, he is referring to those quite familiar situations in which we really do operate by the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

People of all cultures, including our own, invariably practice the communism of everyday life when dealing with their family and close friends. A mother does not expect her child to pay her for her baby-sitting services. A brother does not rent out his baseball glove to his brother on an hourly basis. If a friend is sick and needs something from the store, we pick it up for her and would never think of asking for gas money in return.

As Graeber points out, this kind of behavior comes out most conspicuously during a crisis, such as a natural disaster. At such times, people will voluntarily, even cheerfully, extend a helping hand to those who are most in need of one. Less dramatically, the same principle is at work whenever we are at a store that has a box on the counter that says “Leave a penny, take a penny,” intended to help out those who don’t have the exact change. In all these cases we are witnessing the spontaneous application of the communist maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

In our increasingly desperate, atomized, and fragile neoliberal society, normal incidents and stories of “the communism of everyday life” are what I am looking for (and not, say, the Red Cross in Hawaii, or even the UNWRA in Gaza). For example–

“NYC’s unlikely hero: A subway ‘ninja’ who shares vibes and canned goods” [New York Post (NL)]. “Three days a week, Ray Tarvin, 35, suits up in all black — like an ‘Old West’ ninja — and patrols the Fifth Avenue/53rd Street subway station, spreading positive vibes and handing out water and canned goods to those in need. ‘I’d see people go through trash cans looking for food — there’s a lot of them in New York City — and my heart told me to stack up on, like, canned goods and water and just, you know, pass it out.’ Tarvin, a slight and soft-spoken temp employee who works security shifts in banks by day, starts his shift in the subway around 3 p.m. most Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. He grooves to oldies on an old flip phone and gives thumbs-ups and fist bumps to straphangers.” • Flip phones are the best!

My email address is down by the plant; please send examples of “Helpers” there.


Lambert here: Kind readers: I’ve been writing daily on the American political scene since 2003 or so; I cut my teeth blogging on the Bush WMD story. And “I’m not tired,” as Arlo Guthrie sings in Alice’s Restaurant. After so many years, I don’t feel I have anything to prove, and I’m not that interested in making “calls” (though readers will recall my Trump coverage in 2016). What I am interested in: Giving you the tools to interpret the news of politics, as it is presented to us. I try to be as concrete as possible, about personalities, localities (“all politics is local”), techniques, history, all in order that you can come to the best possible political decisions (voting, not voting, whatever). to me, politics never gets old! “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?”, as Madison puts it in Federalist 51. There is always something dynamic, always something to learn! If you both enjoy Water Cooler’s political coverage and find it useful, now and over the years, please hit the Tip Jar now, because even though this coverage is hard work, I’d like to keep doing it. Thank you!

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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 (Insurrection)

“Democrats’ Meltdown Over Trump Immunity Case Proves SCOTUS Is Right To Hear It” [The Federalist]. “Members of Congress and federal judges are immune from civil and criminal prosecution for their official acts. Currently, presidents are only immune from civil prosecution for their official acts. That is because the Supreme Court has never had to decide whether that extends to criminal prosecutions, as no president has ever faced a criminal prosecution until the Democrats’ four criminal indictments against Trump…. Obama-nominated Judge Tanya Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is running the proceedings quite speedily; indeed, the case was paused only because of the immunity appeal. It is reasonable to ask whether she would have adopted the same schedule had Trump not been a candidate for the presidency, especially after the Biden Justice Department waited 30 months to bring these novel charges…. Tribe does not want voters to have information; rather, he wants voters to have incomplete information. Tribe knows that, were there a conviction, the appellate process would not come close to being finished by the time of the election.” • Table-pounding, I think — meltdowns prove nothing but the fact of a meltdown — but not bad table-pounding at all!

Biden Administration

. Somebody read the bill:

Massey’s question in the second tweet is a good one (especially given that review sites are cesspits of SEO-driven enshittification). What I want to know: What does “operated indirectly… (including through an affiliate)” mean? Pretty much any site the spooks think is bad? (To me, that parenthetical means “including” but not limited to.”

* * *

“Powerful White House official — and Jill Biden’s ‘work husband’ — is a #MeToo nightmare with claims of bullying, sexual harassment” [New York Post]. ” A top Biden White House official has bullied and verbally sexually harassed colleagues over more than a decade, The Post has learned — but is considered ‘untouchable’ because first lady Jill Biden regards him as her ‘work husband.’ Anthony Bernal, whose status as the first lady’s top aide grants him enormous clout in both White House operations and Democratic politics, has repeatedly speculated in the workplace about the penis size of colleagues, according to three sources with firsthand knowledge. Two sources said Bernal, 50, shared with them a theory that the size of a person’s thumb corresponds to that of their genitalia — citing the hypothesis both at the White House and in prior roles during President Biden’s campaign and vice presidency under President Barack Obama. ‘It is to make people uncomfortable and to have power over them,’ said one source who told The Post they heard Bernal make the crude remarks over several years while they worked together. ‘It is Me Too — classic Me Too,’ the source added. A second source recounted hearing Bernal speculate ‘often’ inside the White House about the endowments of fellow political aides and even Secret Service agents.” • First shot at “Doctor” Biden, therefore interesting. Because how could she not notice it? Did nobody complain to her? If not, why not?


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Trump’s Georgia case hangs on key decision of a relatively new judge” [WaPo]. “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee was randomly assigned to oversee the racketeering case against former president Donald Trump and a cast of close advisers and allies who are accused of plotting to overthrow a legitimate election to keep Trump in power…. McAfee’s ruling is likely to be a career-defining moment for the 34-year-old rookie judge…. Disqualifying Willis and her team of prosecutors would almost certainly delay, if not outright end the criminal case against Trump, one of four he faces. Allowing Willis to stay on the case is sure to spark defense requests for appeal — which McAfee would have to approve — and anger Trump’s supporters. Prosecutors have argued ‘mere appearance’ [of conflict of interest] should not be the standard for Willis’s removal, while defense attorneys have argued that’s more than enough.” • An interesting, not-quite-puff piece. What strikes me is how, well, incestuous the Georgia political world is (and those relationships are, I would speculate, a big, though unseen, driver behind the case(s)).

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Trump (R): “Trump’s Campaign Is So Poor He Might Not Be Able to Hold His Beloved Rallies, Says MSNBC Reporter” [Mediaite]. “After making note of the de facto merger between the Republican National Committee with the Trump campaign, [MSNBC’s Vaughn Hillyard] also fielded a question about the whether the Trump campaign thinks they need to raise and spend a lot of money in the months before November, or if it is counting on earned media to help mitigate its financial disadvantage. ‘They absolutely believe that earned media is going to offer them a lot. But here’s also a reality at play. It takes manpower,’ replied Hillyard. ‘Money can also help towards — this is my my big shtick here — money can help towards actually putting folks on the ground in these states. In the areas where they are going to rely on to pull off victories are in rural parts of Georgia, rural parts of Wisconsin, rural parts of Michigan, rural parts of Arizona. And to get folks that normally don’t vote, you got to go and tell them, ‘We need you to come vote.”

‘And you can go and have a rally in those places, but those rallies cost $400,000,’ he continued. ‘I mean this is where — don’t expect to see Donald Trump to be parading around the country, because those events cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on. They’re in a predicament now, whether they like to admit it or not.'” • I don’t know if Republicans feel about the RNC the way that I feel about the DNC (which is a lot like I feel about the CDC); but if they do, then forcing Trump to gut the RNC to save money might be addition by subtraction.

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Biden (D): “Biden had repeated mental lapses during special counsel interview: transcript” [Axios]. “In his five-hour interview with special counsel Robert Hur, President Biden repeatedly mixed up dates, countries and the timeline of significant events, including the years his son Beau died and Donald Trump was elected, according to a transcript of the interview reviewed by Axios. The transcript supports Hur’s account that Biden had multiple mental lapses, despite recent pushback from the president and the White House.” Hur testifies today. More: “Over the course of the two-day interview, which took place in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Biden repeatedly asked for help remembering certain important dates — and his lawyers frequently stepped in.”

Biden (D): “The Divided President” [The Nation]. The deck: “Who is in charge in the Biden White House?” More: “After the White House announced in April that Biden would be reneging on his promise and leaving Trump’s cap in place for at least the year ahead, staffers including chief of staff Ron Klain and Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice embarked on a plan to gently nudge the president back to his original position, an effort that involved managing Biden’s temper. ‘It was perfectly clear that Biden would keep raising the subject himself, usually in meetings about the border crisis, usually with an edge of aggression,’ [Franklin] Foer tells us [in his book, The Last Politician]. ‘He moaned, ‘Can you believe that they want me to go back to those high numbers?’ At a moment like that Susan Rice would shoot a glance across the room, which told aides, ‘Don’t take the bait.'” • This is why Biden’s dogs bite people.

Biden (D): “Democrats use clips of Trump to counter Biden memory claims” [The Hill]. “Democrats on Tuesday sought to turn the tables on Republicans who zeroed in on special counsel Robert Hur’s commentary on President Biden’s memory, turning repeatedly to video clips of former President Trump mangling words, mixing up individuals or forgetting details. House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) opened the hearing with a video montage of past Trump statements in which he appeared to confuse Biden with former President Obama, mixed up former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with GOP rival Nikki Haley and mistakenly called Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán the president of Turkey.” More: “And Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), seeking to rebut claims about Biden’s memory, used video clips to illustrate Trump’s ‘lapse in memory during a deposition.’ One clip featured Trump being asked what years he was married to Marla Maples, to which Trump said he’d ‘have to get the exact dates.’ Asked if it was correct he married his current wife in January 2005, Trump said he didn’t know ‘relevant to that day.” • On the last example, the marriages, Trump might well say “that makes me smart!” Plus: “Toby had never once volunteered the truth, that information was money to him; even when he counted it valueless, he never threw it away.” –John LeCarré, Smiley’s People. (Actually, I kinda like the parallel between the “creep” Toby and Trump: “Shouldn’t this be numbered if it’s a Degas, Toby?” “‘Degas, that’s a very grey area, George.” Good thing Toby wasn’t in real estate!)

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Kennedy (I): “How RFK could smash the two-party system” [Unherd]. “[T]he frictionless progress of both candidates through their party’s internal processes is concealing a hidden truth about this year’s election. Many Americans don’t want Joe Biden or Donald Trump. They see the race as a horror-reality show featuring two geriatrics who seem doddery, unwell, and angry at being told so. It is increasingly possible that they support independent candidates who could deprive both Trump and Biden of the votes needed to win the presidency. America could end up with a hung presidential election. How would this come about? The Constitution requires that a victorious president wins at least 270 Electoral College votes, which they must gather from some combination of the 50 states. It now looks possible that neither mainstream candidate will manage that…. If neither Biden nor Trump reaches the required 270 Electoral College votes, the Constitution dictates that the voting shifts into a “contingent election”. This means that the incoming House of Representatives will decide the winner based on whoever can form a coalition of red and blue states and win 26 of them first. The Senate would select the vice president. Given that most Republican or Democrat politicians are hardly able to look at each other, let alone agree any deals, it seems unlikely Biden or Trump could forge that coalition. But Kennedy or the as-yet-unnamed No Labels candidate, who actively cultivate the idea of returning to centrist bipartisan solutions, potentially could, should the presidency slip into the arcana of America’s 18th-century constitutional schematics.” • This topic is really something to watch, in the same way that Section Three was a topic to watch. We seem to have a dynamic where every edge case is being tested — by party operatives seeking “an edge,” as well as “the edge.”

Kennedy (I): “Big Tech’s Election Interference: Why Google and Meta Went Shopping for Former US Intelligence Officers” [The Kennedy Beacon]. “The number of former Intelligence Community staff hired by Google and Meta since 2018 is significant. Before then, there were only a few, but now the numbers are much higher: CIA – 36, FBI – 68, NSA – 44, DHS/CISA – 68, State Department – 86, DOD – 121.” No cites for those numbers, though. More: “The presence of Jacqueline Lopour as Google’s Head of Trust & Safety and Aaron Berman as Meta’s Head of Elections Content/Misinformation Policy, both with backgrounds in the CIA, highlights the significant influence exerted by the agency over online censorship.” • Ick. That said, I’ve skimmed the previous post, and this Twitter thread, and I still don’t see cites to the numbers. A table with links and names would be nice. Readers, can you spot one?

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“Battle for the House: 9 races that will determine the majority” [The House]. CA-13: Republican Rep. John Duarte and Democrat Adam Gray are advancing to a rematch. CA-22CA-47: In Orange County, Democrat Rep. Katie Porter left her House seat to lodge an unsuccessful bid for the state’s rare open Senate seat. Porter and fellow progressive Rep. Barbara Lee were boxed out of the top two in Super Tuesday’s Senate primary, with Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff [RussiaGate pays] and Republican Steve Garvey advancing for a partisan showdown. MI-7: Republican Tom Barrett, who lost to Slotkin by around 5 points back in 2022, is running again for the seat, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has backed former Democratic state Sen. Curtis Hertel. The midterms race was the most expensive House contest in the country, according to reporting from The Detroit News — and the 2024 race is set to be another competitive battle as both parties set their sights on the opening. NY-4: Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) is running in one of the most unpredictable toss-up races in the country this year…. [Laura] Gillen is running again and could be poised for a rematch with D’Esposito. With Biden likely to easily carry New York in November, D’Esposito will have to rely on a relatively high amount of split-ticket voters as he did two years ago to win a second term. NY-17: Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) won a major surprise victory in 2022 when he defeated Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the then-chair of House Democrats’ campaign arm, by just over half a percentage point. Lawler has sought to build up a reputation as a moderate member of the GOP conference and led the charge to expel Santos for the false claims he made about himself and the criminal charges he faces. The win was symbolic and key to Republicans winning the House majority by just a few seats. He seems likely to face former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who previously represented the district but lost a primary in a different district after the maps were redrawn. NY-22: Of all the potentially vulnerable New York House Republicans this fall, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) may have the most significant uphill battle. OH-9: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) has represented her state’s 9th Congressional District for four decades and had a reliable Democratic-leaning constituency throughout much of her career. But Ohio’s redistricting process after 2020 made her district a battleground…. Kaptur will likely face an opponent with less baggage this time, which could make it her most difficult campaign yet.” OR-5: Also on the West Coast, Democrats are looking to take back a seat that flipped into Republican hands for the first time in decades when Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer won Oregon’s 5th Congressional District in the midterms. Chavez-DeRemer won by 2 points against Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner last cycle, becoming the first Republican woman to represent Oregon in Congress. McLeod-Skinner is running again.” • The primary process is not complete, so some opponents are not known. CA and NY are almost battleground states!

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“Column: Biden says America is ‘coming back.’ Trump says we’re ‘in hell.’ Are they talking about the same nation?” [Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times]. “Political professionals say a successful campaign offers voters a compelling narrative, a story about the state of the nation: What’s gone wrong, what’s going right, and what does the candidate propose to do about it?… Rarely have two major candidates presented narratives so wildly at odds. They seem to be describing wholly different realities.” Perhaps — hear me out — there are class differences between the bases, or desired bases, of each party, and they really do experience America differently, and not just from partisan or ideological bias, but material circumstances. More: “If Biden’s sounds over-optimistic, Trump’s sounds cartoonishly dystopian.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Biden’s State of the Union got one big thing right” [Zack Beauchamp, Vox]. “One of democracy’s core premises is that elections are not like armed conflict, where either you win or you die. Since all parties accept the basic rules of the game, like competitive elections and free speech, the stakes of elections are not existential. Political opponents are less enemies than rivals; disagreement isn’t disaster. Authoritarian populists like Donald Trump win by attacking this foundational democratic norm. They demonize their opponents, arguing repeatedly that their opponents are not rivals but rather monsters bent on the country’s destruction.” • Holy Lord. From the party of RussiaGate?! The party that’s checking under your bed, right now, for Vladimir Putin? Why, that would make Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden authoritarian populists! Oh, wait… No but seriously, if fascism is a smorgasbord, both parties seem to be loading up their plates.


Lambert here: Kind readers: I’ve been writing posting every weekday on Covid since the pandemic began. I don’t think I have to tell you how stressful that is, or how hard to research is (not just to find the material, but to get it right). If you feel that Water Cooler has been useful to you in understanding the pandemic, or, best of all, has helped prevent you or your family friends, and community from getting sick with Covid, please hit the Tip Jar now!

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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 (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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Crafters and knitters, any comments?

Proxies for cognitive impairment at a population would be: Aircraft (manufacturing and piloting); driving; now knitting and crafts. One would expect to see markets adjust to the inability to handle complexity… Simpler knitting patterns, for example. How about games?

Elite Maleficence

WHO downgrading SARS-CoV-2 to BSL2 on the very same day WHO declared declared Covid19 to be a pandemic is a very nice touch:

But not so fast:

So, BSL2 for propadanda, BSL3 in the lab? Readers?

* * *

“Wrestling with my husband’s fear of getting COVID again” [NPR]. “So while the rest of the world seems to have moved on from the pandemic, in our house, it is still 2020. We wear masks when we go into public indoor spaces. We don’t eat inside restaurants. We don’t go to movies. We have people take COVID tests before they enter our house. All this leaves me feeling torn between two emotions. I want to keep my husband safe and healthy. But I also want our old life back.” • So, on the one hand, brunch. And on the other, my husband’s heart and brain! It’s too bad NPR didn’t write a story like this one:

But that NPR published the story it did… Well, that tells us a lot about the totebag set, doesn’t it? No wonder the PMC’s Covid failure was so complete and catastrophic (“The Collapse of the Public Health Establishment is the Collapse of the Professional-Managerial Class“).

“Disabled people’s exclusion from indoor spaces is a civil rights violation, not an annoyance” [The Guantlet]. “I’m going to draw the lens back and away from this particular woman who wrote this particular article. Her attitude is far from unusual and is the result of years of minimizing, pathologizing propaganda. The focus here should be about why this attitude is so common, what this attitude implies, and for what reason major media outlets choose to platform people complaining about their disabled spouses rather than our ableist society…. NPR’s decision to platform a piece about the difficulty of navigating life with a spouse who can’t dine indoors, instead of a piece about the difficulty of navigating a society that has made dining indoors unsafe for vulnerable groups, is just that- a decision, and a political one. It is part of an ongoing effort to cast those who cannot play along with the ‘back to normal’ fantasy- those who are being harmed and killed by it- as weird, paranoid, crazy, annoying, and ‘the problem.;…. Long COVID is the faulty, load-bearing beam in the rickety pandemic denial superstructure. Were the public to grasp how common and how severe it is, the entire post-pandemic facade would come crumbling down. Therefore, as Long COVID patients become louder, as their presence becomes more undeniable, as their numbers grow, the COVID normalization project must pivot from attempting to disappear these victims to steadily stigmatizing them.” • Yep.

I also thought this thread was perceptive and sensible:

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot March 4: Regional[2] Biobot March 4:
Variants[3] CDC March 2 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 2
New York[5] New York State, data March 11: National [6] CDC February 24:

National[7] Walgreens March 11: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 2:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 19: Variants[10] CDC February 19:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 2: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 2:


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. (Date for data corrected; it was a glitch.)

[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) Leveling out.

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

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Backward revisions remove NV.1 data. JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The consumer price index in the United States rose by 3.2% year-over-year to 310.326 points in February 2024, following a 3.1% increase in January and slightly exceeding the market consensus of a 3.1% advance.”

Inflation: “United States Core Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual core consumer price inflation rate in the United States, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, eased to a near three-year low of 3.8% in February 2024, down slightly from 3.9% in January but above market forecasts of 3.7%.”

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Manufacturing: “Boeing whistleblower who warned of aircraft safety flaws found dead” [NBC]. After the BBC, oddly. “The statement from Barnett’s family said he had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety attacks and that the ‘hostile work environment at Boeing’ led to his death.” But: “His [lawsuit against Boeing] was up for trial this June, the family statement said, adding: ‘He was looking forward to having his day in court and hoped that it would force Boeing to change its culture.'” • So, if he was “looking forward”… Commentary:

Manufacturing: “50 people injured after a ‘strong movement’ on Boeing flight to New Zealand” [NBC]. “It’s unclear exactly what caused the midflight injuries. The South American airline LATAM said in a statement that there was a ‘technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement,’ without elaborating further.” • A technical event? Like somenbody trying to re-attach a wheel?

Manufacturing: “737 Max anti-ice system fix is slow going” [The Air Current]. “Today, Boeing has yet to nail down a conclusive fix for the anti-ice system. Several options remain under consideration and its final decision may end up a combination of design changes. The company has activated a multidisciplinary team to focus exclusively on the problem. This so-called ‘Tiger Team’ is getting increased resources to design the modification for the Max 7 and 10. Neither aircraft can be certified by the FAA without this modification.” Meanwhile: “Pilots using personalized reminders for all sorts of tasks in the cockpit is extremely common, but the post-it note cue underscores the lack of detailed alerting in the master caution system aboard all generations of the 737, relying on pilot memory to switch off the potentially hazardous anti-ice system. ‘Easy to get distracted with other duties and miss turning off,’ said [Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines captain and spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association], who has been sharply critical of Boeing. “That’s why I use a decades-old technique.'” • “Easy to get distracted.” So, Tajer is assuming to general diminishment in executive function due to Covid?

Manufacturing: “Boeing Response in Alaska Airlines 737 MAX Probe Is Blasted by Feds” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company said the door plug’s removal was undocumented, so there were no documents to share.” • That’s astonishingly bad.

Manufacturing: “Airplanes and engineering: The way we were” [Star-Tribune]. When it changed: “Working for Honeywell in Minneapolis, I was involved in product developments for several Boeing aircraft: new platforms B-757, B-767, B-777 and B-787, and revisions on older designs, including the B-737. Each of these developments involved an intimate relationship between Boeing and Honeywell across multiple levels of organization. At the heart of the work were the customers’ requirements. Meeting these drove daily decisions in the project planning…. One afternoon, we started calling our contacts in Boeing Engineering. Engineering had prioritized the bidders and assured us Honeywell was their first choice. However, they would not confirm that Boeing management had signed off on the selection. We still believed we would win the program. In the past, Boeing always selected the highest technical bidder then renegotiated the price as the program phased into volume production. It was the best process to meet Boeing’s and the passengers’ quality demands… we were notified we were not selected for the program. Through several discussions with the Boeing engineering managers, we later found out that Boeing’s procurement process had changed. Boeing supply management downgraded the engineering assessment from prioritized capability to either meeting or not meeting the requirements. Then, procurement would select the lowest bidder from this pool of suppliers meeting the requirements. Engineering was no longer needed to sign off on the selection. (We heard that Boeing engineers wore a black armband for a month protesting the selection for this program.) The selection process could now be done in a spreadsheet with no account for the uncertainty that engineering often expected and hoped to have some insurance against. This would become a fundamental change in the aircraft industry.” • Worth reading in full. (The Boeing 777 was launched in 1990, so presumbly this changed happened in 1985 or so. There’s a lot of ruin in an aircraft manufacturing company.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 11 at 2:22:53 PM ET.

The Conservatory

“Smells Like Teen Spirit Cover In Classical Latin (75 BC to 3rd Century AD) Bardcore/Medieval style” (video) [YouTube].


“FBI, DHS Partner with Gaming Companies to Fight ‘Extremist Gamers'” [Value Entertainment]. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are coordinating with gaming companies to root out “domestic extremist content” among their player bases, a new government report suggests. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan agency that audits other government departments on behalf of Congress, the FBI and DHS should use the same strategies that allow them to police extremism on social media to regulate the gaming industry. The GAO report, entitled Countering Violent Extremism: FBI and DHS Need Strategies and Goals for Sharing Threat Information with Social Media and Gaming Companies, was compiled between September 2022 and January 2024. It was first published internally on January 31st and then released publicly on February 28th….. In the report, the GAO cites interviews with five entities within the gaming and social media industries: Roblox, a popular multiplayer game creation platform, Discord, a social app popular with gamers, Reddit, an online forum social network, and two gaming companies that asked the GAO to keep them anonymous.” • Hmm.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Bad Money – Ancient Counterfeiters and Their Fake Coins” [CoinWeek]. “There were two basic ways of counterfeiting ancient coins. The first method used by ancient counterfeiters was to cover a base metal core with a thin layer of precious metal and then strike it between engraved dies. If the coating was seamless, the dies of good quality, and the weight of the finished piece close enough to the official standard, such coins might pass as genuine. They are known as fourées, from a French word meaning ‘stuffed.’ A second method used by ancient counterfeiters was to make clay molds from an original coin, and then pour molten metal into the molds, usually leaded copper alloy. Ceramic molds could be mass-produced cheaply, so low-value copper coins could be counterfeited profitably. There was a chronic shortage of small change in ancient economies, so even poor quality fakes were accepted in markets for lack of anything better. Authorities tended to ignore such forgeries, even when they enforced savage penalties against counterfeiting precious metal coins.” • News you can use!

News of the Wired

I’m not quite sure what to file this under:

Software-defined radio:

Listen to FM radio, freenet, road traffic information…. (This is Mastodon, so perhaps the entire thread will be accessible without a login.)

* * *

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 TH:

TH writes: “In front of the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House in Hollywood, California, is this landscaping of plants I can’t really identify, but I always find it curious when butterflies are attracted to greenery rather than the usual blossoms.” About the Hollyhock House: “[A]n ode to California–its freedom and natural beauty…. Hollyhock House is a harbinger of California Modernism, inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List.” Neat!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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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. Carla

        Lambert, just re-upped. Glad to hear you’re giving your hands a break; they’re really not very nourishing, you know.

      2. tegnost

        Thanks, I just threw my allotment into the hopper.
        It”s an election year, you’re going to need donuts.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Donated today. Thanks for all your hard work, and the sturdy pair of waders, so I don’t have to get a pair myself.

  1. Samuel Conner

    > when butterflies are attracted to greenery

    I recognize neither the butterfly nor the plant species and so don’t know whether this is the explanation in this instance, but butterflies do lay eggs on plant leaves, as the larvae feed on the plants. I believe that generically there is a limited range of “host” plant species that the larvae of a specific species of butterfly can feed on.


    Just curious and not objecting if I have earned demerits, but I’m wondering whether the “comments default to moderation” issue is back in effect.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      the woody stemmed one with the dark lanceolate leaves looks rather olive-y, to me.
      ie tried to grow a few, here…but it still gets too cold and kills them.

  2. Samuel Conner

    I recall a time when bodycams were thought to be a useful way of documenting the work of law-enforcement people.

    Perhaps it would work for airliner assembly workers?

    (the thought is offered in snark, but in this stupidest of timelines, perhaps it would actually be a useful policy)

    1. Patrick Morrison

      I think we need the bodycams on the executives.

      “A loss of X dollars is always the responsibility of an executive whose financial responsibility exceeds X dollars.”
      – Weinberg’s ‘First Principle of Financial Management’ and ‘Second Rule of Failure Prevention’

      – ‘First-Order Measurement’, Quality Software Management, Volume 2, Gerald Weinberg, Dorset House Publishing, 1993

  3. steppenwolf fetchit

    I heard on the news just yesterday that a Boeing whistleblower who was pursuing a suit against Boeing was found dead in his car in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina with a ” self-inflicted” gunshot wound. Well, the coroner said, at least preliminarily, that it appeared to be self-inflicted.

    My initial feeling was that the coroner was politically naive. An expert assassin can make an assassination look like a suicide and if the expert assassin is smarter and more heavily trained than the coroner his work will likely face, then the coroner will fall for it.

    And that is my operating assumption here. This whistleblower was assassinated by a very high level ( and hence very highly paid and very well connected) assassin trained in the arts of making an assassination scene look like a suicide scene. In the days and weeks to come we may find out whether tantalizing clues or lack-of-clues emerge which make it look like “maybe not a suicide”. If they do, then that means this assassination was also crafted to look like a semi-non-believable “suicide” in order to send a message to all other potential whistleblowers within Boeing. ( That’s what was done with Epstein). The message is that if they blow the whistle and especially if they sue after being retaliated against, that they too will also be assassinated.

    The only possible protection they would have is if so many Boeing whistleblowers blew and sued at the same time, that Boeing ( or whomever) would be afraid that it could not have them all assassinated without arousing suspicion on the part of many people beyond those of us who just think this way naturally.

    ( And now I see the relevant entry in the body of Water Cooler itself. And yes, I agree, the whistleblower was assassinated by a very high level expert assassin. And if enough other people agree with that, Boeing might not become the “buy” which the Boeing leadership hopes it will.
    ” If its Boeing, I ain’t going.” )

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      And it suddenly occurs to me . . . . if there is such a thing as “anti-depressants”, then there is also such a thing as “depressants” . . . . drugs you can give someone to put them into a suicidal depression. If you put such drugs in their food and/or water over time, you could depressionise them to the point where they do indeed ” kill themselves” in the very narrowest most technical sense of the word ” themselves”. Someone in a position to steadily dose this whistleblower’s food and/or water over time with suicide-o-genic depressants would be able to turn him into a ” Manchurian suicide”. And even the most expert coroner would accept it.

      Hopefully some thinks of having his body tested for the presence of depressants or indeed for any psychoactive drug.

      1. Terry Flynn

        FYI – and a simple search of NC archives will provide links – it is scary that you don’t need to resort to “additional drugs” to make someone suicide. Have you ever wondered about the “suicidal ideation” warning on the packs of all modern anti-depressants like SSRI? It is increasingly alleged that such drugs work in two ways. The first gives the patient energy – think of getting amphetamine all of a sudden. IF you hate your life but previously didn’t have the energy to end it then getting such a burst of energy could be really really bad.

        Thus why modern drugs urge caution, watching of the patient, until the 2nd phase kicks in – where serotonin etc get boosted, lifting the mood of the patient. Then they supposedly feel better and wouldn’t consider offing themselves.

        I just say all this because you don’t need to resort to stories of “new meds”……giving a profoundy depressed person an SSRI might be an ideal way to make them off themself. I’m NOT saying it is likely….but you only have to read the warnings to know this is possible,

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          Thank you for this comment. I should have thought of this. Since I have gone onto sertraline myself and have been in therapy, I remember what a therapist with extensive experience in VA military veteran treatment told me . . . that if someone is in depression and they are started on sertraline ( or any other SSRI?), that the energy it would take to kill yourself is un-depressed faster than the feeling of wanting to kill yourself is. And so the therapist is admonished to “watch the patient like a hawk” for the first 6 weeks or so.

          So all my default suspicion aside, if the whistleblower had just recently been put on sertraline, it could really be a suicide. But even if it was, it could be a carefully and cleverly induced suicide, manufactured by the extreme pressure-field he was placed under by all the relevant personnel. So perhaps it is murder by carefully engineered drivenness-to-suicide.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Thank you for the insights. You were under no obligation to give such personal information.

            FWIW I share your “openness” to the possibility that giving an SSRI induced enough energy to “exit”. But I’ll try to retain open mind as to possible explanations.

            1. steppenwolf fetchit

              Well . . . as long as the little gray mouseman who sends me here remains shielded by the veil of internet anonymity, so that the little gray mouseman is not doxable, then information, however personal is still masked and anonymized. And hence useful to readers without exposing the little gray mouseman to analog danger in the meatspace realworld.

      2. aleric

        And also check all communications, and for unusual events in his family. Thinking that another way to get someone to commit suicide would be to make a credible threat against their loved ones. Suspicious that there is already a two day gap between when police discovered his body and when it was reported to media, lots of time for any evidence to be disappeared.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      One “tell” will be whether they do an autopsy. If Boeing has nothing to hide, a routine autopsy by a competent medical examiner would confirm the self-inflicted suicide.

      Of course, real life is not CSI and we don’t always get a Ducky or an Abby to find the hidden poison in the guys’ system.

      But if they don’t even bother, that tells me the fix is in. Given that he was a potential witness to a crime, the FBI ought to step in and ask for their own forensics team to look at both the body and the potential crime scene.

    3. Robert Hahl

      Boeing is down about 10% the last two days, perhaps soon proving the old airplane business adage is indeed 100% correct:

      “Want to know how to make a small fortune in aviation? (pause) Start with a large one.”

      Btw, I happen to know that Don Douglas, Jr., died broke living in a trailer, ruing the day he refused an offer to merge with McDonnell to form Douglas-McDonnell. The merger that did occur happened three years later on different terms.

  4. Jason Boxman

    Many Americans don’t want Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

    Always worth noting which party had a real primary, and which did not. It might be more Republican voters want Trump than Democrat voters want Biden.

    The Republicans that oppose Trump, along with Liberal Democrats, pulled out all the stops to try to nuke Trump in the Republican primary, which was a real primary that actually took place. The Liberal Democrat primary, meanwhile, was a complete farce. Anyone running against Biden was promptly demonized, primary ballot access was curtailed or eliminated, such as in NC where basically there was no Democrat primary.

    Republican primary voters got a say, and they spoke. While anti-Trump forces soldiered on, burning through favored candidate after favored candidate, they all fell by the wayside, unwanted by the major of Republican primary voters. Full stop.

    I don’t doubt that a majority of Americans overall probably don’t want Trump, or Biden.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      Yes. The Republican Party has legitimate primaries and the Democratic Party does not. That is why I had been thinking of invading the Republican Party primary to vote for a not-Trump ( which by Michigan primary time would have only otherwise been Haley anyway).

      But then a movement started to vote uncommitted in the DemPrimary, so I stayed in the DemPrimary to vote uncommitted. We will see what effect that has. We know that Biden is as stubborn, stupid and nasty as he has been for the last 50 years. No “dementia-induced” change there.

  5. Terry Flynn

    Re Trump non-disquaification. If any members of the commentariat watch Legal Eagle on YouTube or Nebula, they’ll be aware that he shows no surprise that SCOTUS ruled against disquaification of Trump from the ballot.

    Not that that was what he *WANTED* but he generally is self-aware enough to state his (very pro-Democrat) views up front and at least attempt to look at issues through the eyes of a supposedly dispationate lawyer which he is supposed to be).

    Thus his latest videos (just search on YT or, if you subscribe, Nebula) do set out the arguments pro and anti “Trump disbarment”. He seemed to (wearing his legal hat) agree with SCOTUS that Trump can’t be disqualified. However, he raises a number of issues that, whilst not unequivocally challenging the SCOTUS ruling, do offer food for thought. Basically, watch him for legal advice but be aware some of his stuff could be called “part of the blob”. New email BTW for moderators……!

  6. griffen

    Between the high quality links each morning and then the WC every afternoon, I can while away the hours in between TPS report filing and collating ( \sarc) on a near daily basis.

    Count me in the donor count if you wish and I’ll promise to remember I promised to contribute…many thanks for all the efforts.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Ha. Like DNS privacy, because by default it’s publicly available in Whois if you register a domain, but you can pay $5 or whatever per year to your domain registrar to have your person information kept private, on top of the cost of the domain itself. Probably ICANN’s doings.

      2. ChrisPacific

        There is a ProPublica piece from 2019 on how Intuit has persistently lobbied against the government making a free tax filing solution to compete with theirs, and against efforts to reduce the complexity of the tax code. I think it’s increasingly the business model of a lot of the most successful US companies.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Intuit lost its battle this year.

          The IRS has introduced a pilot program in about 12 states that allow taxpayers to file directly with the IRS at no charge.

          There are various limits and other qualifications so not everyone will be able to take advantage of the program. However, it is designed to help those who could use free filing the most.

          Some of the included states have no state income tax so federal is all they have to file. A few of the states do have an income tax and have set up a way for residents to file their state returns at the same time.

          Evaluations will be done after tax season with the expectation that the program will be rolled out across the country for the next tax season.

    1. Mikel

      “I don’t know, but if a company can do it why not the damned gubmint….”

      That’s on point. Can’t really call the collection of corporate sock puppets in this country a “government.”

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    Patient readers, I added orts and scraps, a little late because (1) I had to explain how I think “Look for the Helpers” should work, and why, and (2) I had to write up that horrid IATA story from NPR, holy moley.


  8. Adam1

    Boeing… it feels like it’s raining dominos at this point. It seems like it’s only a matter of time that Boeing owes up and grounds those planes (on a cold day in hell) or we have another (or series of) crash(es).

    I can’t imaging John Barnett’s death will be ruled homicide, but if if someone ruled anything less than suicide I also would not be surprised. In the end, even though it seems he had everything going for him I’m more inclined to think history will show the MAGNITIDE of what John was forced to endure was a proxy of forces of Boeing brought down on him to break him and they created an inescapable burden which ended with his suicide (which likely wasn’t their objective, but it will do for Boeing).

    There is an old saying, “Come Hell or High Water!” and I can envision John telling some group of Boeing elite that they need to change and there is nothing they can do to stop him from making them change by going to court and going public. And then someone had the dark idea that they just needed to drown John in that high water! And that’s what they did.

    1. Terry Flynn

      From a very UK/Eire perspective, I wonder what the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary will do. His philosophy is clearly “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. He has mooted stupid ideas like no toilets, everyone standing to enable higher capacity etc – all things that everyone knows woud be shot down by the US and EU Aviation regulators in a nanosecond. But it gets him clicks on MSM.

      Yet he carries on. Because he provides a service that works. And it is almost entirely dependent upon Boeing 737s. What happens if regulators decide the 737 is fundamentally unsafe?

      I think Boeing should be talking to the O’Learys of this world very thoroughly. If the UK decided that the 737 is unsafe, it’s bye-bye Ryanair and bye-bye Boeing without a govt bailout. O’Leary appears to be a clown but he is very very clever. And if his planes are gonna crash he will find an exit strategy pronto

    2. ChrisFromGA

      The Boeing Stomp

      (Sung to the tune of “Man on the Silver Mountain” by Rainbow)

      I’m a wheel, I’m a wheel, I can roll off the tarmac
      And you can’t stop me turning
      Cause I’m the son, of Bean Countersons, they chase lucre for fun,
      But you’ll never stop me burning!

      Come down in fire
      Lift my nose up higher!
      Someone’s screaming in comfort plus
      Come and make me hole-y again


      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys!
      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys!

      You’ll obey, FAA, cause I’ll show you the way
      And look! I’m right beside you
      In the night, I’ll create, a new door to your right
      Hope you packed a parachute with you

      Plunge down in fire
      Lift my nose up higher!
      Someone’s screaming in comfort plus
      Come and make me hole-y again

      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys!
      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys!

      (Guitar interlude)

      Plunge down in fire
      Lift my nose up higher!
      Someone’s screaming in comfort plus
      Come and make me hole-y again

      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys! 2x

      Mayor Pete can’t help you, you know he can’t!

      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys! 2x

      Just look at my masters and listen!

      I’m the plane, the plane, watch ’em fall down like rain

      I’m the plane built by clowns and monkeys

      Coming down in fire …
      Take your spirit higher …

      I’m the plane built by clowns, the plane built by clowns and monkeys


  9. Ranger Rick

    The “extremist gamers” thing is more plausible than it sounds, if you have an eye for history. Several agencies used to monitor chat in World of Warcraft, for example, for illegal activity. The forums for the game War Thunder are regularly host to classified documents as gamers try to make the case that simulated military hardware is inaccurate. And while these are just some examples, it’s just a reminder that in the Panopticon, someone is always watching.

    Also props to Lambert for the bardcore link. The medieval re-arrangement of pop music scene is great.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought has occurred to me that role-playing games that offer a wide range of player strategies might be useful for psychological assessment — thinking particularly in terms of spotting sociopathy.

      Given the havoc that sociopaths among the elites are wreaking, and if there were ways to fruitfully use the information for pro-social purposes, I think this could be a good thing.

      Of course, this being the real world, there would probably be found ways to use this information to make the dystopia worse, for example by preferentially recruiting high “brutality” scorers into what Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States) called, IIRC, the “guards” class.

  10. kareninca

    I have a friend who is in her 70s who back in September (six months ago!) started throwing up and ended up in the ER and then a series of rehab facilities and then back to the ER and back to the rehab facilities. She is still in a rehab facility. She has no money and no relatives, but a few of us have been trying to help around the edges. The doctors thought it was likely a liver condition but nothing was ultimately found. Her main problem, once her vomiting subsided, was utter and total exhaustion. For a while she was unable to move her legs and arms, and the rehab people thought she was malingering. Now she can get around a little with a walker. She tells me that there is a another woman in the facility in her 50s who has exactly the same symptoms. For all she knows there are lots more; she doesn’t talk with many people there.

    In this whole time no medical person has mentioned covid. And she was never tested for covid!! But I am sure this is long covid. She has been tested for everything else, with a zillion scans and probes, and nothing has been found, but the symptoms are long covid symptoms. I told her to not overexert herself and to take a daily claritin (she can; it is medically okay) to try to keep from getting covid again. If she gets covid again she could relapse. It is tough to avoid covid in a rehab facility; the one she is in had a big outbreak back in January.

    1. griffen

      This is merely something to mention. But an older sibling age 60 had an unusual condition early February and the ultimate conclusion was a faulty heart valve. I can’t speak to vomiting but the sheer exhaustion is what sent him to the ER and an eventual 10 to 11 day stint at a hospital. This is an in-shape person, not a drinker or a smoker. Open heart surgery to replace the bad valve was the required corrective operation.

      Fortunately and grateful to note he is home and recovering well. Some sort of bacterial infection had found its way into his blood we have been told and that is the route it went. Probably more detail worth adding but I’d need to look all of this up once again.

      1. kareninca

        That is a really good surmise. In fact during her work up they found a slightly leaking heart valve, and she is in the very earliest stage of heart failure. But they did not think that it was something that would be leading to her symptom of exhaustion, since it was so minor.

        I am very glad that your sibling is home and recovering

  11. griffen

    Above tweet about the weasel wording on the TikTok Bill….why am I not shocked!?! Goes without saying we saw this movie once…”you have to pass it so next you can read whats in it”…my recall is that memorable gem was from none other than Nancy Pelosi. But to add a rhetorical question, how will Joe Biden reach the young voters without doing another TikTok?

    For the record…Thomas Massie is a Kentucky representative to Congress, a Republican who made an infamous posting for a Christmas photo several years back.

    1. The Rev Kev

      True, he and his family are gun nuts. But from time to time the guy makes a moral stand such as when back in 2020 he stood up to oppose the billionaires giveaway known as the CARES Act which was being passed with no actual vote but only voice acclamation. Making a stand here over Tik Tok legislation is in character.

  12. Wukchumni

    “Bad Money – Ancient Counterfeiters and Their Fake Coins” [CoinWeek]. “There were two basic ways of counterfeiting ancient coins. The first method used by ancient counterfeiters was to cover a base metal core with a thin layer of precious metal and then strike it between engraved dies. If the coating was seamless, the dies of good quality, and the weight of the finished piece close enough to the official standard, such coins might pass as genuine. They are known as fourées, from a French word meaning ‘stuffed.’ A second method used by ancient counterfeiters was to make clay molds from an original coin, and then pour molten metal into the molds, usually leaded copper alloy. Ceramic molds could be mass-produced cheaply, so low-value copper coins could be counterfeited profitably.

    You rarely came across contemporary ancient counterfeit coins in the trade, usually stuff made in the 19th century that wasn’t half bad, but still obvious fakes meant to deceive collectors-not used for commerce.

    None of this would have mattered all that much in the Roman empire from the middle of the 3rd century on, as the workhorse of the economy-the Denarius, was essentially officially counterfeited by silver washing copper coins to look like the real thing, kinda not that different from a 1964 Quarter being 90% silver, and a 1965 version onwards looking just like it, but 0% silver.

    1. Wukchumni


      I’ve noticed more retail stores with counterfeit detectors where they feed the note into it electronically and it tells you not only if it’s real, but the denomination also.

      I like to inquire as they are passing the FRN through it, how many counterfeits they get, and so far in the 5 or 6 establishments i’ve seen said machines at, every clerk has told me they detect between a few and as many as 10 counterfeit/altered FRN’s a week.

      You never hear that little tidbit mentioned in the mainstream media, try it yourself next time you do a cash transaction.

      By you asking them, it makes them an expert in their mind, and they are too willing to give you the skinny on what’s what.

    2. The Rev Kev

      This technique has been upgraded these days to tungsten bars being coated with a thin layer of gold to make them look like genuine bars of gold. All that glitters…

  13. Wukchumni

    Was shopping for vittles and sundries in the Big Smoke, and at least 20% are masked up-which is huge for Godzone, which only got to a 50% vaccination rate late in the game. A month ago you wouldn’t have seen even 1 mask, that’s how big a move this is.

    Does a mask wearer in this day & age pretty much mean they know somebody who is struggling with Covid or Long Covid?

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Does a mask wearer in this day & age pretty much mean they know somebody who is struggling with Covid or Long Covid?

      Perhaps it indicates that they are someone who had or is having a bad experience with acute or long COVID. The % is roughly in the right ballpark, I think.

      1. Wukchumni

        Sydney used to be known as the Big Smoke back in the day, and i’ve appropriated it for the local Big Smoke… Visalia, Ca.

        Godzone runs roughly from Bakersfield to Fresno, with the excitable bits in Visalia, where the largest Catholic parish church in the country is, not to mention many MAGA-Mega-churches. They believe harder here.

        I was in Grocery Outlet today and they play a steady diet of contemporary evang music, and its almost a law that every ditty have the word ‘praise’ in it, what if the big guy was listening and you held out?

  14. Wukchumni

    Pygmy Nuthatch, Mt. Lemmon, Arizona
    If you find yourself in Tucson anytime and particularly during the summer, the drive up to Mt. Lemmon is quite something. You go through about half a dozen distinctly different life-zones in making your way to blessed relief in the cooler climes of the high mountains.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      There is an old-ish but still fascinating book about the birds, life-zones, etc. of Southeast Arizona called Arizona and its Bird Life by Herbert Brandt. Many hundred pages long, quite a few beautiful illustrations by Alan Brooks, Roger Tory Peterson, and others . . . and also a fair number of photographs.

      These isolated mountain ranges bloating up out of the desert floor have been referred to as “sky islands” . . .
      multi-lifezone islands scattered around a desert sea. Southeast Arizona is a place that all good birdwatchers hope to go at least once.


  15. Ghost in the Machine

    Regarding Covid, lines, and walls, I have the opposite problem. My wife is vulnerable, but she thinks she has a line and I think she has a wall. I get made fun of, but I do get more precautions out of the family than most seem to be taking, but not as much as I would like.

  16. Jeff N

    I went to save the pic of Lines & Walls thread, and it wanted to save it as .webp, even though the file name is .png

    1. Martin Oline

      I found the image you refer to after some searching. Not sure of the filename being .png, but did you use ‘save as’ or do a screen grab? I was interested because I often save the images here for screen backgrounds and am disappointed when they save as .webp. I am running linux and the backgrounds will not recognize a .webp file. I have to use Gimp, a graphics program, in order to convert it to a .jpeg. Not sure what works in Windoze or Pippin.

  17. LaRuse

    Re: Knitting and COVID
    First, my credentials – I am a self taught knitter from YouTube videos, and picked up the skill during the Great Recession looking for a soothing and, what I assumed was cheap hobby (SO WRONG about the affordability!). I adore knitting and have achieved a level of mastery that allows me to knit simple knit/purl projects while reading a book. More complex items of course, need more attention. I specialize in socks but enjoy big projects like shawls and blankets from time to time.

    In April 2020, I went and bought an extraordinarily difficult pattern called “Fox Paws” that I wanted to use my downtime to knit. I put it down when I got off stitch count and couldn’t get back on count without unknitting 3-4 hours of work (which was only like 4 or 5 rows of knitting). Fast forward 4 years later, and I am not sure I could even begin to fix or reknit this scarf. Since my first and only known COVID infection in August 2022, it’s not that I cannot learn new or hard stitches, but that I genuinely struggle to maintain the concentration required for something like Fox Paws. I seem to have unlimited capacity for mindless knitting, though. I just finished a boring striped 6 foot long scarf. I have knit 8 pairs of socks since Christmas, all of which were my own designs. But Fox Paws and an epic modular blanket project called Persian Dreams are languishing because both require extraordinary amounts of concentration and time to just work at a Capital “P” Project.

    Is it my brain? Maybe. Am I just out of practice? Maybe. Or daunted because Persian Dreams in particular is hundreds of dollars of yarn and hundreds of hours of labor to go and Fox Paws was designed by a mathematician? Maybe. But I also wonder this: who else finds that they have less downtime since 2020? I feel like the world is overcompensating for the few pathetic months we all spent mostly at home. I am informally “on” at all times for work now since I still work from home 3 days a week. I have a teenager who has choir practice at 7am and tennis practice until 5pm. I can knit a few dozen pairs of socks and have them all under the Christmas tree every year, or I can invest hundreds of hours into a single blanket or scarf that I am not even sure I am able to knit now. For me, the choice has been keep making mindless socks because they make people smile and I can knit while I wait in the car for the Kidlet to come off the tennis court or during endless work meetings with my camera off.

      1. Lena

        Since having Covid more than a year ago, I have not been able to do any knitting. I used to knit almost daily. Now nothing. I can’t even concentrate well enough to make simple scarves. I don’t know if it is actually Covid related or just general life stresses which I have in abundance. Still, knitting used to be a form of relaxation for me. It’s not anymore.

        Reading fiction was also something I did daily. Now I can’t finish a book. The ability to ‘get lost’ in a novel is gone. Again, it might be Covid or just general stress.

        Losing the ability to knit or finish a book has definitely reduced my enjoyment of life.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Sorry to hear about this, Lena. Perhaps it is time to explore new interests such as music or art where you don’t need so much concentration..

          1. Lena

            Thank you. Yes, I have found that music is a refuge. My partner is a musician so I have many opportunities to listen to him play. Also dancing is something I can still do. I have not forgotten how to dance.

  18. Divadab

    “but those rallies cost $400,000,’ he continued. ‘I mean this is where — don’t expect to see Donald Trump to be parading around the country, because those events cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on”

    All he has to do is charge for entrance. Like a rock band. Doing shows is the only way they make money – this is why it makes no sense to me that Trump isn’t selling tickets. 50k people at $100 a pop and he’s got a 60% margin on the $400k cost.

    1. Wukchumni

      Donaldpalooza has legs!

      Of course the risk you run is when he talks about his greatest hits, hopefully he’s kidding and nobody got hurt in the now all too familiar tall tale.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Donald’s greatest hits:

        Side A:

        1. Battery of E. Jean Carroll
        2. Assault on the Constitution
        3. The Defamation stomp
        4. The Texas two-step bankruptcy shuffle
        5. Operation Warp Speed poke and jab

        Side B:

        1. The Soleimani homicide
        2. Drone strikes for dollars (a cover of the original, by Barack Obama)
        3. The Nikki girl smackdown
        4. Meatball Ron doo-wop
        5. The ballad of Low-energy Jeb

          1. ChrisFromGA

            7. The Heat is On (Cover of Glen Frey’s 80’s hit from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.)

            The heat is on, on the street
            Inside your head, on every beat
            And the beat’s alive deep inside
            The pressure’s high just to stay alive
            ‘Cause the heat is on

            Oh-oh-whoa-oh, oh-oh-whoa-oh
            Caught up in the action Fani’s looking out for you
            Oh-oh-whoa-oh, oh-oh-whoa-oh
            Tell me can you feel it? Tell me can you feel it? Tell me can you feel it?

            1. ambrit

              8. The Ballad of Donald and Melania (with apologies to J Lennon.)

              Smith! You know it ain’t easy,
              You know how hard it can be.
              The way things are going,
              They’re gonna re-elect me.

  19. Michael King

    Good luck with the fundraiser. Just made a donation and happy to do so. Grateful thanks for the All Things Covid coverage. The best I’ve come across and I scour the interweb every day.

  20. Feral Finster

    Re: The so-called TikTok ban is a trojan horse.

    Even if the bill were so totally not a Trojan Horse, apparently we are jettisoning that whole pesky First Amendment thing.

    Because, you know, reasons.

  21. Dessa

    Curious that they mention Roblox in particular as a site with “extremist” users. I recall them making the news for organizing an in-game protest in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza a few months back.

  22. Zar

    Manufacturing: “Boeing Response in Alaska Airlines 737 MAX Probe Is Blasted by Feds” [Wall Street Journal]. “The company said the door plug’s removal was undocumented, so there were no documents to share.” • That’s astonishingly bad.

    Per a whistleblowing commenter on this article (which I’m sure you showcased in a previous Water Cooler), a formal “Removal” should have been written up in CMES, Boeing’s official documentation program. But:

    “…someone (exactly who will be a fun question for investigators) decides that the door only needs to be opened, and no formal Removal is generated in CMES (the reason for which is unclear, and a major process failure).”

    And meanwhile, plenty of discussion is going on in Boeing’s situation-tracking bulletin board (“SAT”) which is, by the sound of it, often used to record issues in an ~unofficial~ capacity. That includes a…

    “…damning entry which reads something along the lines of “coordinating with the doors team to determine if the door will have to be removed entirely, or just opened. If it is removed then a Removal will have to be written [in the CMES].'”

    So it’s plausible that no official documentation is available, in which case I should hope that the less-than-official SAT documentation has been shared with the NTSB by now.

  23. Mo

    “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee was randomly assigned …”

    Yeah sure he was

  24. Wukchumni

    “FBI, DHS Partner with Gaming Companies to Fight ‘Extremist Gamers’” [Value Entertainment]. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are coordinating with gaming companies to root out “domestic extremist content” among their player bases, a new government report suggests.

    When I last played a video game, the very fate of the world was at my fingertips when at the trackball of Missile Command, and after I retired from action some 400 or so Quarters later-the world has managed to keep it going, probably on the basis of my example using 2 bits coins.

    If this fact isn’t in my file in Big Eavesdrop, Utah, well it ought to be.

    1. ambrit

      400 or so quarters?
      The Commodore 64 was an 8 bit device. 400 quarters is 800 bits. That’s two orders of magnitude greater ‘power’ than the old arcade games. Shall we play a game?

  25. Carolinian

    Meanwhile in SC


    One Democratic senator who was involved in strategizing for the bill said Graham “was supposed to be the guy” who would work to double Republican support for the bill. The senator explained “the way this was supposed to work was they were going to have” 60 votes for the bill, including 10 Republicans, and “he was supposed to bring the second 10” GOP votes, “and then in the last week he became part of the 10 that you couldn’t even count” as possible yes votes.

    “He got sucked into the Trump orbit, and he is so zealously about his own self-preservation in South Carolina that he literally would push his mother in front of a train to get to where he needs to be,” the senator added. “I hate to say it because I actually like him.”’

    A Winthrop University Poll published in October showed only 30 percent of South Carolina voters approved of Graham’s performance, a rating only 1 percentage point higher than Biden had in the state.

    Still maybe Lindsey has a better feel for which way the wind is blowing than Nikki. And good for him if he killed Ukraine funding.

    1. Belle

      As a fellow South Carolinian, I can arrest to Graham’s comparative unpopularity. In previous elections, he lost more of the Republican vote than any Republican.
      He has also been known for a long time to twist with the wind. First he pushed for Clinton’s impeachment, then he applauded Clinton at the SOTU afterwards. First he backed McCain in 2000, and then shifted to Bush, despite what Bush did in SC. He helped push for Maidan, then (way later) appeared to criticize Ukraine interfering. He denounced Trump, then backed him, then denounced him, then backed him. If I had the time and money to do so, I’d do a “Vicar of Bray” parody about him.

  26. Cat Burglar

    The NPR article by a writer living with a covid-cautious spouse with an autoimmune condition is a model of PMC propaganda. Notice that the problem is feelings, the only thing — not ideas, not observations, not considered reflections on our world — the only thing that is held by professionals to be a credible contribution by nonprofessional members of the public on any topic. This journalistic tic is well placed to exclude discourse that comes from outside the fence of professional discipline (so much for Gramsci’s organic intellectuals). So the article is about fear, and the solution is provided by a couple psychologists.

    I say the NPR story is full of crap, and I’ll play the game and put on my professional cap to do it. As somebody with 50 years of mountaineering and rockclimbing experience (10 of it being paid as guide and instructor), and 15 years as a cattle rancher (one of the most dangerous occupations), and despite imminent physical danger, I spent very little of that time in a state of fear. Instead, I was concerned, attentive, and concentrating to avoid injury and death — I was awake. And that’s what the covid-cautious husband was up to, rationally taking action in the face of a physical hazard.

    The writer’s attitude is the real problem. The first three paragraphs list the hazards specific to her husband, and include a single paragraph poorly summarizing some of the known hazards of the disease. And then we get, “So while the rest of the world seems to have moved on from the pandemic…” So? So? How does that follow from the previous paragraphs listing the dangers of covid. I’ve heard that “So” before — it really means, “let’s set aside what we’ve been considering.”

    But you can’t change the subject with a physical hazard. What the writer has done is the equivalent of heading out, skis on your shoulder, to ski a steep gully on a day when you know it is the first clear day after a ten-foot snowfall, when you’ve read the avalanche warning and seen the first slides piling off the cliffs in the sun, and saying, “So let’s move on to skiing.” Avalanche safety educators have long recognized it as a problem; there is a gap between knowledge and effective action — people just want to go skiing now. And people want to go back to pre-covid days now. There are safe ways and times you can ski that couloir and not end up gasping with your leg wrapped around your head as tons of snow crush the last life out of you, and we can take effective action to create safe conditions to stop covid. But instead, we get psychologists to assuage our feelings about covid, to tell us to go back to sleep.

    1. Late Introvert

      For me the key sentence was how she, the writer, had “a mild case”. Which somehow then makes her now super happy go lucky even though her husband did not, to the point where she will make a public spectacle of how uncaring and reckless she is.

      My guess is the comments of others with “a mild case” will be super supportive of this brave woman.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > despite imminent physical danger, I spent very little of that time in a state of fear. Instead, I was concerned, attentive, and concentrating to avoid injury and death — I was awake. And that’s what the covid-cautious husband was up to, rationally taking action in the face of a physical hazard.

      Excellent point. To bad “woke” has been so brutally hijacked. (See my bewilderment on waking and dreams here, here, and here.)

      It really does seem that the level of denial, the wish to revert to 2019, has put people into a dream-like state, where what they wish to have happen is what happens (which is what a symbol manipulator does, but sadly a pandemic is not only a symbol…

  27. The Rev Kev

    “50 people injured after a ‘strong movement’ on Boeing flight to New Zealand”

    NBC News is being fuzzy with the truth here. On that flight if you were not wearing your seat belt, you would have been slammed up against the ceiling of that cabin and when that plane leveled out, would have been dropped to the seats or the floor below. No wonder 50 people were injured.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Which is exactly what happened to the ones not wearing seatbelts (which was quite a lot of them).

      It’s the kind of thing that can happen because of clear air turbulence, but in this case there is hearsay evidence that the pilot claimed the instruments all lost power for a short time. This is supposed to be next to impossible in a modern plane, so it has attracted considerable interest from aviation authorities.

      1. MarkT

        It was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The same type operated by Air NZ and whose windows mysteriously crack from time to time. I’ll try to find the media link but it’s out there.

      1. ambrit

        It might be a stroke of luck that the “incident” happened in New Zealand airspace.
        The American NTSB has a good reputation, but nowadays, all American “institutions” are suspect.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Agreed that NZ is very thorough these days.

          It’s a pity that it took the Erebus disaster and a Royal Commission to expose a previously shady system in NZ and its main charter airline in order for NZ to emerge as a “good fair referee” regarding these incidents.

        2. scott s.

          The accident happened in international airspace. “Under the International Convention on Aviation [ICAO Annex 13], the Chilean accident investigation authority, the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), is responsible for investigating the accident and it has confirmed it has opened an investigation.

          “The DGAC has requested the assistance of the [New Zeeland] Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC).”

  28. Jason Boxman

    It’s instructive that liberal Democrats both believe that some people are at particular risk from COVID and that they have no personal obligation to do anything to mitigate that risk. Charming group of selfish hacks. The nominal left, as well.

      1. Jason Boxman

        It’s weird I just had that thought after getting up (this afternoon, apparently, sigh) that the casual viciousness of the PMC is possibly tied to their precariousness. A society vicious all the way down, and anyone that escapes up the ladder can bring that viciousness with them!

    1. griffen

      Good article that, and he mentions the improving economy but does everyone agree this notion of inflation fastly falling or trending lower has hit a small dip in the road? Two months in a row, CPI was slightly hotter than projections. I heard the same hand waving conversation after each report, just seasonality and price increases that occur routinely in the first few calendar months.

      Joe Biden is repeating the Carter administration experience but with worse outcomes on a larger population. And the Democrats wonder why people won’t enjoy this brand of dog food for another four years. Biden is not a great President.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats use clips of Trump to counter Biden memory claims”

    This is sad. Everybody knows that old Joe has dementia and is losing it so the best that Democrat strategists can come up with is saying Trump has it worse.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Donkey Show (TDS) has nothing to enhance their entrant, and they’re as stuck with Joe as the Pachyderms are with Donald.

      1. Randall Flagg

        This is what American politics is reduced to, displayed everyday on an elementary school playground.

    2. Acacia

      “Everybody knows…”

      But I am getting blurts from @BidensWins in my soc media timeline about how the transcripts prove that Hur was a liar and a meanie and Joe is really as sharp as 100 tacks.

      At this point, I hope the LibDems just keep on bogarting this mind altering sheet, as it could make the final ‘splody 🤯 even more glorious…

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Everybody knows that old Joe has dementia and is losing

      “Everybody knows” is what that PMC say about lots of things (“schooling behavior”) and there’s never a link to what “everybody knows”… because who would need one? (“Water is wet,” “Putin is evil”).

      “Dementia” is a diagnosis. We don’t “know” (and it makes no difference to say “we’re not being told”; I know that). I’m very comfortable saying that Biden has “cognitive issues”; I’ve seen pointing to them since the 2020 election during the Iowa primary.

      But saying he has “dementia” is not only a bridge to far if you value accurate language, it does a disservice to people who really are known to have dementia by blurring the bounds between those who have a diagnosis and those who do not.

      I mean, we’ve already got Democrats saying Trump has dementia, in a classic copycat. tu quoque tactic. Is this race to the bottom what we want to have happen with all medical terminology when it becomes politically charged?

  30. Even keel

    House battlegrounds
    Chavez DeRemer has a heck of a local issue. Tolling of the local interstate. Hated by large local majorities, but pushed hard by the DOT in Salem. Oregon has a very slim history of tolling. DeRemer has been pushing federal laws to ban this. I’d say that if she gets it passed, she’ll be locked in for years. If not, then it’ll be back to wedge issues and politics as usual.

    It’s an interesting district because it’s been D for a long time, and the state reps are generally D, but it was redrawn after 2020, to stretch from SE Portland down to Bend. And that somehow, combined with the D incumbent getting primaried last time out by a supposed progressive, ended in a DeRemer victory, despite a five point D edge in registrations.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Chavez DeRemer has a heck of a local issue. Tolling of the local interstate

      Thanks, this is great. Readers, similar facts from the ground in the other states?

  31. Jason Boxman

    Dating Apps Have Hit a Wall. Can They Turn Things Around?

    As online dating became as easy as swiping a finger across your phone screen, the companies who own apps like Tinder and Bumble became Wall Street darlings. But about a decade later, those platforms are now struggling to live up to expectations, and investors have grown frustrated and eager for something new.
    Match Group and Bumble — which make up nearly the entire industry by market share — have lost more than $40 billion in market value since 2021. Even in an age when the apps are a staple on people’s smartphones, the two companies are laying off workers and reporting lackluster revenue growth.

    Match Group owns like 90% of all apps and web sites. Whenever they bought a site, they made it Tinder. All sites are Tinder now that have any users. This is what monopoly brings you.

    Moreover, attractive people don’t need to pay, their phones blow up with free accounts. If you aren’t attractive, no amount of throwing money at Match Group makes much of a difference. You’re screwed. Enjoy your life. Welcome to America.

    These apps are pernicious; they prey upon people. Match itself has been accused repeatedly of sending people fake messages, after a subscription expires and you cannot read the messages or see who the sender is. Most profiles are dead, abandoned, and they most definitely don’t surface this, to up their user count. The dishonesty is rank, and exploitative. This doesn’t even get into the behavior of platform users themselves.

    It’s a complete hellscape. In a just world, these executives would all be in jail.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It’s a complete hellscape

      Who knew that trying to base a relationship on a JPG and a checklist would turn out to have problems…

      “Long walks on the beach,” yech….

      1. Jason Boxman

        Because of network effects, even people that might prefer that approach are boxed in, literally.

  32. digi_owl

    Ah yes, SDR. I have here what is officially a dongle for receiving digital TV broadcasts.

    But if i force Windows to load a different driver, it can be used as a SDR receiver.

    Haven’t tried making my own antennas, but i did manage to pick up some local air traffic chatter (basically strong AM transmitters).

      1. digi_owl

        SDR is nothing magical, it is just a radio that leave the decoding end up to software rather than hardware by digitizing wide frequency ranges.

        If one want to transmit data over the air, it would likely be enough to hook a computer up to a PMR or CB radio. That way one would avoid angering the FCC or equivalent depending on where one live.

        But i’m no expert nor lawyer, just someone that has been watching from the sidelines for some years.

  33. Pat

    Of course Jill Biden knows her top aide is a bully and a creep. Look who she married. She likes bullies. And inappropriate sexual behavior is part of her daily life. I don’t know if she enjoys the discomfort of others or if it was of so little importance compared to what she considers the advantages of being Mrs. Biden, but she obviously is fine with it.

    Normally, I like to give women the benefit of the doubt. Bullies take things out on their partners so often. But Jill Biden has the education and the means to support herself. She can leave. She can fire Bernal. She has agency here. She likes bullies. She likes how they make people feel. They are her dogs, too.

    1. Bugs

      It would be so awesome if Rodgers led the Jets to a Super Bowl berth and won it right after being sworn in as Vice President.

      The most postmodern timeline evah.

      1. griffen

        Hypothetically, it could be the Best storybook ending ever, take that TB12. I keep reminding myself, the film Idiocracy by Mike Judge was supposedly fiction.

  34. Matthew G. Saroff

    According to this report, the pilot displays went blank for 2 seconds before the upset.

    What is it with products from Seattle and blue screens of death?

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