2:00PM Water Cooler 3/21/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Robin, Libertytown, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Very quiet vocalization at close range. Dawn song.”

* * *

In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Beekeeper helpers.

(2) Williamson quotes LOTR.

(3) Barnett’s lawyers release the (redacted) text of his complaint, making Boeing’s Charleston plant look like a hellhole.

Look for the Helpers

“Keeping Beekeeping in the Family” [The Tablet]. “After watching his son create buzzing colonies of honeybees on Staten Island, [Jonathan] Landes was hooked. Upon his return to Melbourne a few weeks later, Landes gathered up four of his lifelong friends and founded a small urban beekeeping company called Chevra Honey, named for the Hebrew and Yiddish word for a society or close-knit group…. The idea was simple: In a city like Melbourne, where most people tend to live in houses with ample space and backyards, the chevra would help to set up beehives to encourage urban beekeeping. The hives Landes sets up are made of good quality wood. Successful placement in the urban environment requires significant considerations. ‘You say hello and go meet the person [who wants to host the hive]. You do an evaluation of the garden and neighborhood. You have to ask questions, such as if there is anyone who is allergic to bees. You ask who the usual visitors to the house are, or if they have pets,’ he said, listing the checklist he runs through with prospective hosts. ‘It’s not like a cat or another pet. People can get stressed about bees. You must be able to manage the colony.’… Today, a decade on, Chevra Honey manages around 40 hives around Melbourne… ‘Beekeeping suits me,” said Landes. “I really enjoy it. People are so nice. They are very engaged in making the urban environment healthy with bees. It’s a really good gig.'”

* * *

My email address is down by the plant; please send examples of “Helpers” there. In our increasingly desperate and fragile neoliberal society, everyday 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).


“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)

“How the Justices Should Decide the Trump Immunity Case” [Wall Street Journal]. “The court recognized in Nixon v. Fitzgerald (1982) that a president shouldn’t be hobbled and hectored into timidity by the threat of civil liability for actions in office. The justices held that a president is immune from damage suits for such acts. Mr. Smith has asserted that civil liability should be the end of it—that immunity from criminal liability is simply a bridge too far. But the principles underlying civil immunity apply with even greater force to criminal liability. If a presidency could be emasculated by constant worry about civil liability after leaving office, which carries at most financial loss, wouldn’t the worry of criminal liability and prison be worse? Mr. Smith doesn’t address this inconvenient question. If there is presidential immunity from criminal law yet no one is above the law, we must have a way to think about the boundaries of that immunity. It can’t extend to the horizon, but neither is it a mere fig leaf. There are too many possibilities for a bright-line test, but there are at least two stakes marking the boundary: duty and urgency…. The closer the actions to the core of executive power, the stronger the case for immunity. The most fabulist lawfare practitioner would struggle to conjure a foreign-affairs hypothetical in which a president would lose immunity. On the other hand, conspiring to obtain the confidential tax information of the president’s political enemies and launch audits against them wouldn’t be a stretch…. Our proposed second boundary stake is the urgency of the circumstances that led to the action…. There are myriad circumstances when time is of the essence, when the moment for deliberation and counsel is short and the nation requires fearless and decisive action…. Only the twin nexus of executive duty and urgency of circumstance will properly measure the extent of executive immunity in a given case. This will be a fact-intensive determination, and a remand to the trial court for further fact-finding under cross-examination will be necessary.”


Less than a year to go!

* * *

Trump (R): “Stormy Weather Ahead for Trump” [Jonathan Alter, Washington Monthly]. Bragg (NY). “After jury selection begins in April, we’re looking at the first criminal trial of a U.S. president in American history…. Last week, the trial was delayed—probably for a few weeks—pending a hearing about the mysterious release of thousands of pages of documents from federal prosecutors who had pursued the hush money case but declined to prosecute Trump.” And:

Judge Merchan ruled that Trump’s lawyers will not be allowed to:

  • Compare this prosecution to that of former Senator John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat who was acquitted in a similar case.
  • Argue selective prosecution (the District Attorney routinely brings these kinds of business fraud cases).
  • Argue that the District Attorney is using a “novel” interpretation of the law, which many anti-Trump legal experts believe to be true.

    Refer to a decision by the Federal Election Commission (then dominated by Republicans) to clear Trump.

  • Refer to federal prosecutors’ concerns about the credibility of former Trump henchman Michael Cohen, the key prosecution witness in the case, or their decision to drop their investigation.
  • Introduce into evidence a book by Mark Pomerantz, a former top prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, that criticizes the Hush Money prosecution.
  • Invoke the advice-of-counsel defense, Trump’s familiar excuse that he was just listening to his lawyers and, therefore, isn’t guilty.

That’s a lot! Meanwhile: “District Attorney Bragg’s whole case is admissible.” Concluding: “It ain’t overthrowing the government. It ain’t stealing classified documents. But it’ll do.” • I doubt it. I mean, come on. “Squillionaire pays off mistress. Film at 11.”

* * *

Trump (R): “GOP primaries flash warning signs for Trump” [The Hill]. “In primary elections in Ohio and other states, a sizable number of GOP voters still cast ballots for former rivals to the ex-president. That’s potentially a big problem for Trump, because it suggests not all GOP primary voters are warming to him… A handful of states cast ballots Tuesday in the presidential primaries, including Ohio, Florida and Arizona. Trump won Ohio and Florida by roughly fourth-fifths of the vote, but former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley notched around 14 percent in each.”

Trump (R): “Trump has an early lead on Biden. But problems are piling up around him” [Politico]. “‘The only person who can beat Donald Trump is Donald Trump,’ said David Urban, a former senior Trump campaign adviser. ‘I don’t think we’re there yet.’ Despite it all, Trump remains in an enviable position, leading Biden in early polls as the incumbent president clocks in with historically bad approval ratings. But Trump’s advantage is also less than 2 percentage points — hardly a commanding lead — and he is still sitting below 50 percent. In the earliest days of the general election campaign, Trump’s often improvised remarks contrast with his opponent’s more carefully scripted campaign outings — and that approach brings some downsides, as evidenced in recent days.”

Trump (R): “Thus Far, Trump Has Huge Coattails. The Best Coattails.” [The American Conservative]. “President Donald Trump’s victories in last night’s primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio were foregone conclusions. All of Trump’s challengers have already exited the race and, for the third straight presidential cycle, Trump has secured the Republican nomination. This alone suggests Trump’s takeover of the GOP is near total, but there’s even more evidence down ballot. On Tuesday, Trump’s chosen candidates beat expectations. Nowhere was that clearer than in Ohio’s senate primary. The businessman Bernie Moreno bested state Sen. Matt Dolan by nearly twenty points. Moreno received more than 50 percent of the vote and carried every county in the Buckeye state….For now, however, Trump is still king and, for smaller realms all around the country, kingmaker. Trump has made 88 endorsements in the primaries thus far. Not a single candidate for federal office has lost their primary with Trump’s backing. Only three Trump-endorsed state legislative candidates have lost. Across state and federal primaries, Trump is 58 for 61 thus far. When November rolls around, the 58 winners will have the added benefit of Trump on the top of the ticket once again.”

* * *

Biden (D): “US Vote Pitches Bidenomics Against Celebrity” [Bloomberg]. “President Joe Biden has centered his campaign on his flagship industrial policy, dubbed Bidenomics, which involves pumping billions of dollars into creating US manufacturing jobs in industries of the future like chipmaking and clean technology…. But, as Akayla Gardner reports, it’s a theme that has largely failed to resonate with voters so far — even in places like Bethlehem [Northampton County] whose geographical and political landscape has been shaped by heavy industry…. The uncomfortable truth for Biden is that many voters are preoccupied with the rising cost of living and have yet to feel the upswing from his policies. Even where they do, they don’t necessarily credit the president for the jobs that are on offer. With the US economy booming, there may yet be time for Bidenomics to cut through.”

* * *

Williamson (I):

* * *

CA: “California Primary Results Encouraging for Republicans” [Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics]. “The GOP posted its biggest gains in heavily Hispanic districts, seeing its vote share improve in the 42nd (Rep. Robert Garcia), the 29th (Rep. Napolitano), and the 24th (Rep. Carbajal). This is consistent with poll data suggesting a swing toward Republicans among Hispanics.”

OH: “Bernie Moreno easily wins Ohio Senate Republican primary, will take on Sen. Sherrod Brown” [Cincinnati Enquirer]. “Moreno, a businessman from the Cleveland area, won with nearly 51% of the vote, according to unofficial results. He defeated state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose in a contest that pitted the GOP’s old guard against allies of former President Donald Trump…. Moreno previewed his general election pitch, saying Brown is beholden to President Joe Biden and wants to pretend otherwise. But the three-term senator remains confident about his prospects. During a campaign event Monday, Brown said the Republicans opposing him are on the wrong side of abortion, minimum wage and other issues…. In the end, a flurry of visits to Ohio from Trump and his allies pushed Moreno over the finish line. And it wasn’t the close outcome that polls predicted…. Brown, who’s seeking a fourth term in office, is one of two Democrats defending his seat in a state won by Trump. Republicans believe he’s vulnerable and see an opportunity to flip Ohio as they try to regain control of the U.S. Senate.” • Contrast that coverage to this–

OH: “In Key Ohio Senate Primary, Republicans Go with Trump Again” [Center for Politics]. ” Both Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) got their man in the Ohio GOP Senate primary on Tuesday night, as businessman Bernie Moreno (R) blew open what polls, in aggregate, suggested was a close race. A major Democratic outside spending group connected to Schumer effectively spent on Moreno’s behalf. continuing a common Democratic strategy of spending in the other party’s primary.” The Pied Piper strategy has taken on a life of its own…. More: “Moreno, backed by Donald Trump, follows the path taken two years ago by now-Sen. J.D. Vance (R), who, like Moreno, was a Trump-endorsed candidate without previous officeholding experience who beat out a field that included some more experienced pols to get the Ohio GOP Senate nomination.” And: “Moreno’s best counties, not too surprisingly, were the pair of Mahoning and Trumbull. Both were double-digit Barack Obama counties that backed Trump in 2020—when Brown was last up, in 2018, he carried the pair 59%-41%, so he will probably want to limit his slippage here in the general election.” And: “Democrats are surely hoping that Moreno represents a continuation of the terrible Senate candidates Republicans produced in so many key races in 2022. And it is true that Moreno has never faced a test like this—he ran in the 2022 contest but dropped out well before the election—and could fall on his face, just like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Donald Bolduc in New Hampshire, and Blake Masters in Arizona. That said, it’s not obvious that he will, and it may not be all that much of a lift to just get Trump voters to also back the Trump-endorsed Senate Republican candidate in a state that is likely to vote for Trump by high-single or maybe even double digits.” • Worth reading in full.

Republican Funhouse

“As Medicare Advantage’s shortcomings echo in the press, key legislators still push to privatize traditional Medicare” [Trudy Lieberman, HEALTH CARE un-covered]. “[Rolling Stone’s Andrew] Perez points out that one item buried in the 887-page Heritage Foundation blueprint written to inform a potential new Trump administration has attracted little attention so far. It is a scheme to ‘make Medicare Advantage the default enrollment option’ for people who are newly eligible for Medicare, he wrote. David Lipschutz, associate director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, says the Heritage plan would hasten privatization. ‘Upon becoming eligible for Medicare now everyone starts with traditional Medicare as the default but can opt out of that program and later choose an Advantage plan,’ Lipschutz says. The Heritage proposal, however, would have people start with Medicare Advantage plans, apparently with the opportunity to opt-out. With this arrangement, you can see how easy it would be for Medicare, as we know it, to ‘wither on the vine’ since many people new to Medicare are not well versed in the difference between the two options and instead are swayed by the TV advertising beckoning them to Medicare Advantage plans.” • Project 2025 taking a cue from nudge theory. Swell.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Working class Dems who campaign on economics beat Trumpists in elections” [Pluralistic]. “The Democratic Party Pizzaburger Theory of Electioneering is: half the electorate wants a pizza, the other half wants a burger, so we’ll give them all a pizzaburger and make them all equally dissatisfied, thus winning the election… But no one wants a pizzaburger. The Biden administration’s approach of letting the Warren/Sanders wing pick the antitrust enforcers while keeping judicial appointments in the Manchin-Synematic universe is a catastrophe in which progressive Dem regulators (who serve one term) are thwarted by corporatist Dem judges (who serve for life)… Jacobin teamed up with the Center for Working-Class Politics, Yougov and the Center for Work and Democracy at ASU and analyzed [the 2022 midterms]: Their conclusion: candidates from working-class backgrounds who campaigned on economic policies like high-quality jobs, higher minimum wages, a jobs guarantee, ending offshoring and outsourcing, building infrastructure and bringing manufacturing back to the US won with a 50% share of the vote in rural and working-class districts. Dems who didn’t lost with a 35% share of the vote.” • Well, now the liberals have another target for decapitation, just like the 50-state strategy, or the Sanders campaign(s)…

Realignment and Legitimacy

Population shifts:

In general, it seems like people are moving toward heat, not away from it (with some exceptions, like Maine and the Mountain States). Odd. Readers?


“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!

* * *

Covid is Airborne

“Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission during a movie theater outbreak in Incheon in the Republic of Korea, November 2021: a retrospective study” [Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives]. The conclusion: “SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurred within the theater, and extended into the community, via a moviegoer who attended the 3rd screening during the viral incubation period after contracting the virus from a family member. This study emphasizes the importance of adequate ventilation in theaters.” And from the Descriptive Analysis: “The curve indicated a single exposure outbreak with a propagated pattern, suggesting that infections occurred continuously through person-to-person transmission following shared exposure to a common vehicle during the movie screening on November 3, 2021.” And: “A spot map was created to assess the spatial distribution of the outbreak. Audience members were seated in close proximity to each other without social distancing, predominantly in the rear seats. During the 3rd screening, most individuals identified as close contacts contracted the virus. In contrast, for the 4th screening, the outbreak was not confined to a particular area; rather, the confirmed cases were more uniformly dispersed throughout the venue.” That is, the virus spreads like smoke.

Maybe engineering has bad vibes?


About those personalk risk assessments:


About brain damage:

Here is a link to “this thread.”

Morbidity and Mortality

“Global age-sex-specific mortality, life expectancy, and population estimates in 204 countries and territories and 811 subnational locations, 1950–2021, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: a comprehensive demographic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021” [The Lancet]. From the Abstract: “Global adult mortality rates markedly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, reversing past decreasing trends, while child mortality rates continued to decline, albeit more slowly than in earlier years. Although COVID-19 had a substantial impact on many demographic indicators during the first 2 years of the pandemic, overall global health progress over the 72 years evaluated has been profound, with considerable improvements in mortality and life expectancy. Additionally, we observed a deceleration of global population growth since 2017, despite steady or increasing growth in lower-income countries, combined with a continued global shift of population age structures towards older ages. These demographic changes will likely present future challenges to health systems, economies, and societies.”

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot March 18: Regional[2] Biobot March 18:
Variants[3] CDC March 16 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 16
New York[5] New York State, data March 21: National [6] CDC March 9:
National[7] Walgreens March 18: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 16:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 16: Variants[10] CDC February 16:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 9: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 9:


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) Our curve has now flattened out at the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also 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) Midwest ticks up.

[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) “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me.

[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.

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US fell by 2,000 to 210,000 on the week ending March 16th, 2024, below market expectations of 215,000. At the same time, continuing unemployment claims were relatively unchanged at 1,807,000 for the earlier week. The data continued to show that the US labor market remains tight, aligned with the Federal Reserve’s latest assessment and adding leeway for the central bank to delay the start of rate cuts.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US decreased to 3.2 in March 2024 from 5.2 in February but came above market estimates of -2.3. It was the second consecutive expansionary reading since the index for shipments ticked up 1 point to 11.4, and the index for new orders turned positive for the first time since October.”

* * *

Antitrust: “U.S. Sues Apple, Accusing It of Maintaining an iPhone Monopoly” [New York Times]. “The Justice Department joined 16 states and the District of Columbia to file an antitrust lawsuit against Apple on Thursday, the federal government’s most significant challenge to the reach and influence of the company that has put iPhones in the hands of more than a billion people. In an 88-page lawsuit, the government argued that Apple had violated antitrust laws with practices that were intended to keep customers reliant on their iPhones and less likely to switch to a competing device. The tech giant prevented other companies from offering applications that compete with Apple products like its digital wallet, which could diminish the value of the iPhone, the government said. Apple’s policies hurt consumers and smaller companies that compete with some of Apple’s services, in the form of “higher prices and less innovation,” the lawsuit said. ‘Each step in Apple’s course of conduct built and reinforced the moat around its smartphone monopoly,’ the government said in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “Airline CEOs Seek Meeting With Boeing Directors to Address Production Problems” [Wall Street Journal]. “A group of airline chiefs recently requested a meeting with Boeing’s board to express concern over the Alaska Airlines accident and production problems that have upended the industry’s plans, people familiar with the matter said…. The request to meet with Boeing’s directors is an unusual sign of frustration with the manufacturer’s problems and its leader, David Calhoun. The Boeing CEO isn’t expected to attend the planned meetings.” And this: “Boeing was taking more measures to reduce so-called traveled work, where problems with parts or aircraft are moved along its production lines and addressed later. That effort will also slow production, which West said would increase later in the year.” I don’t think Edward Deming woudl approve of “travelled work” at all. Who decided on that? And a straw in the wind: “Kayak allows users searching for flights to exclude specific aircraft. Usage of that option has increased recently. A spokeswoman said Kayak plans to introduce a new badge that will display the aircraft model in flight results in response to recent customer requests.”

Manufacturing: “Boeing whistleblower’s lawsuit against aerospace giant continues despite death” [WCSC]. “The Charleston County Coroner reports Barnett died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, but has not formally ruled on a cause of death.” Meanwhile, the suit continues, and Barnett’s lawyers have released “a redacted copy of the Amended Complaint (filed May 4, 2021) and the Court’s May 31, 2022 decision denying Boeing’s Partial Motion to Dismiss.” And:

These complaints in the suit include:

  • Boeing maintained an “illegal” program not approved by the FAA “that allowed mechanics to inspect and approve their own work” known as “Multi-function Process Performer” to meet deadlines; Barnett’s performance rating later went from a 40 to 16.
  • Managers “pushing Barnett to work outside of the proper procedures”
  • Parts were “stolen” from one airplane and installed in another without any documentation; all corrective action was “canceled” without an investigation
  • In August 2014, the company failed to clean up titanium slivers from fasteners used to hold down floorboards that littered wire bundles and electrical components despite potential electrical shorting. Barnett was later removed from the project after complaining.
  • In September 2014, Barnett learned he was issued a corrective action plan for documenting process violations in writing one month later against company rules to immediately notify employees claiming it was a “surprise attack.”
  • In July 2016, Barnett was ordered to “let it go” after objecting to close out more than 400 nonconforming Shop Order Instance parts without investigation while discovering 200 that had been “pencil whipped” or fabricated.
  • In August 2016, Barnett was criticized and removed from an investigation into emergency passenger oxygen tanks where it’s estimated approximately 25% in 787s are not functional, after he pushed for leadership to investigate.
  • In September 2016, Barnett was removed as a team leader after discovering that all previously delivered airplanes and missing/incomplete/incorrect serial number data after urging corrections and notifications to customers were needed
  • That same month, Barnett’s manager reportedly “took a defective part” from the scrap bin and had it installed on another airplane without any documentation or rework against FAA requirements and the company’s procedures. Barnett claimed he was blocked from a 737 Propulsion Quality Manager position after filing an HR complaint, which Boeing found was “unsubstantiated”

WCSC is a local South Carolina TV station. Meanwhile, the only story on Boeing from the prize-winning Post and Courier is a reprinted transcript from The Street: “Boeing expects major financial impact from recent incidents.” Priorities! Meanwhile, from a second TV station–

Manufacturing: “Lawyers for Boeing whistleblower release full complaint against the company” [WCBD]. A more detailed and prosy version of the complaint. On the “Multi-function Process Performer”: “During this time, Barnett claims that Boeing upper management pushed for quality to deviate from the rules so that production would meet deadlines. One way, in particular, is through the Multi-function Process Performer (MFPP) program. The MFPP program allowed Boeing mechanics to inspect and approve their own work, Barnett claimed. This program was allegedly implemented without FAA approval and was in direct violation of Boeing’s Production Certificate from the FAA pursuant. The Senior Quality Control Manager objected to the MFPP program and pushed for Boeing to follow the rules. Barnett claims that in response to the Senior Quality Control Manager’s objections, he was threatened with termination by superiors. The complaint says that this Senior Quality Control Manager then reached out to contacts in Seattle and was transferred with a downgrade in 2012 back to the state of Washington. In 2012, Barnett also protested against the MFPP program, saying it was illegal; however, no investigation was conducted.” • Once agaim, nothing from the Post and Courier. Really, somebody should contact management… And from another local TV station–

Manufacturing: “Boeing whistleblower’s retaliation complaint revealed after mysterious death in Charleston” [ABC4]. “The next month, Barnett filed an ethics complaint against leadership for retaliation, a hostile work environment, and being blacklisted from acquiring other positions, according to the lawsuit documents. It also says he requested his complaint be investigated by someone outside of BSC. He was told it would be handled outside of BSC, but was instead turned over to local HR. The complaint says that same month, he sent an email to Boeing Corporate Ethics in Washington, D.C. and voiced his concerns about the handling of his complaint. After being assured Barnett’s concerns would be properly investigated, it was once again turned over to local HR in South Carolina, according to the complaint.” • Obvious pressure from the head office. And Is the head of HR in Charleston the Post and Courier’s editor’s brother-in-law, or what?

Manufacturing: “Whistleblower John Barnett claimed Boeing managers spied on him before his alleged suicide” [New York Post]. “Boeing whistleblower John Barnett claimed the company’s management had been spying on him in the bombshell court case he was working on when he was mysteriously found dead…. Another section of the lawsuit stated: ‘In June 2014, Barnett submitted a complaint to Corporate Ethics against [redacted] for violating procedures, ignoring process violations, pushing Barnett to ‘work in the grey areas,’ and having another manager spy on Barnett…. ‘That’s the way it’s done there. There were always moles who would throw you under the bus to look good to the big bosses. They weren’t about team unity; you never know who you could trust,’ a Boeing mid-level manager, who asked to remain anonymous over fear of losing their job, told The Post Wednesday.” And: “‘It is a criminal felony offense to not properly document the build record of an aircraft. By pressuring Barnett to not follow processes … Boeing was ordering Barnett to commit a felony offense.'” • Sounds like a hellhole. No wonder Qatar Airways refused to buy 787s made in Charleston (preferring Everett, WA).

* * *

Manufacturing: “Allegations of staggering criminality by Boeing spelled out in complaint by whistleblower John Barnett, released by lawyers after his death” [WSWS]. “Police, so far, have also refused to release the security camera footage from the Holiday Inn where Barnett was staying. In the original police report, the cops acknowledged that the hotel had security cameras installed and facing the parking lot where Barnett’s vehicle and body were located.” • Haven’t seen this on the cameras elsewhere, however.

* * *

Tech: AI enshittification (1):

Tech: AI enshittification (2):

Tech: AI enshittification (3):

Tech: AI enshittification (4):

Tech: “Pluralistic: The Coprophagic AI crisis” [Pluralistic]. “The question is, why the fuck would anyone write the web if the only “person” who can find what they write is an AI’s crawler, which ingests the writing for its own training, but has no interest in steering readers to see what you’ve written? If AI search ever becomes a thing, the open web will become an AI CAFO and search crawlers will increasingly end up imbibing the contents of its manure lagoon…. There’s a certain intuitive case for this being a bad idea, akin to feeding cows a slurry made of the diseased brains of other cows…. But “The Curse of Recursion: Training on Generated Data Makes Models Forget,” a recent paper, goes beyond the ick factor of AI that is fed on botshit and delves into the mathematical consequences of AI coprophagia: Co-author Ross Anderson summarizes the finding neatly: ‘using model-generated content in training causes irreversible defects.'” • I’ve been muttering about AI autocoprophagia for some time, and if it’s finally propagated, I’m a happy camper.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 21 at 12:23:14 PM ET.

Holier than Thou

Cf. Matthew 23:1-7:

“Thousands of Churches Will Likely Close Down. What Happens to All That Real Estate?” [The Roys Report]. “That prediction of church closings is based on the unrelenting math of religion in America — there are ever more church pews with not enough people to fill them. Those who go to church prefer to be part of large congregations, flocking to packed-out megachurches while driving by a host of struggling congregations with 60 people or fewer. [Rev. Mark Elsdon], who is executive director of Pres House, a campus ministry in Madison, Wisconsin, said the 100,000 figure is an estimate based on trends in worship attendance. There is little data about how many churches close or what happens to houses of worship when they are no longer needed by a congregation…. But even a half or a quarter of that number, Elsdon said, would be significant. ‘The bottom line is that there are fewer and fewer people identifying as Christians and attending traditional church activities in church buildings,’ Elsdon said… ‘Therefore, there are far more church buildings today than will be viable or needed in the future. That’s just the way it is.’ The book’s chapters, each by a different expert, outline some of the changes facing churches and some of the possible outcomes for former church buildings, from affordable housing to hubs for social entrepreneurship…. Many church buildings could be gone for good — sold off to become apartments, breweries, wedding venues or other secular uses. Or they could be gone but still used for good causes, depending on what the congregations who used to own them decide to do.”

Zeitgeist Watch

“The joys of divorce” (poem) [Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness]. “Nothing like money, makes you hate someone–”

Class Warfare

“The Keys to a Long Life Are Sleep and a Better Diet—and Money” [Wired]. “The top 10 percent in both the UK and the US live over a decade more than the bottom 10 percent. It’s not even that they live more, they live more healthy lives. Why is that? Well the poor often don’t have the chance to exercise, their diets are often poor, and they work multiple jobs and have problems with sleep. All these things we think we can do, they’re harder if you’re poor and have to juggle jobs, child care, et cetera. One worry I have is that if we discover sophisticated interventions—like turning on stem cells and so on, or having to give transcription factors to people intravenously—depending on the sophistication of the intervention only the rich might be able to afford them. That would make the disparity even worse. Not only are the rich living longer, they’re going to live even longer and healthier.” • Yep.

“Record numbers of wealthy Americans are looking for ways to live overseas” [Business Insider]. “‘With political divisions and societal tensions at an all-time high, American investors, entrepreneurs, and wealthy families are increasingly hedging their bets and pursuing backup citizenship or residence abroad, signaling declining faith in the domestic outlook,’ [Mehdi Kadiri, the head of North America at Henley & Partners] said in the report. ‘We anticipate similar strong demand in 2024,’ Kadiri added, ‘as more high-net-worth individuals across the political spectrum seek to hedge uncertainty.'”

News of the Wired

“Flying Is Weird Right Now” [The Atlantic]. The URL is more pointed: “boeing-737-safety-air-travel.” “Flying has, in a historical sense at least, never been safer…. So what’s really going on? I suspect it’s a confluence of two distinct factors. The first is that although air safety is getting markedly better over time, the experience of flying is arguably worse than ever…. All of that is now coupled with an increase in passenger volume: In 2023, flight demand crept back up to near pre-pandemic levels, and staffing has not caught up. It is also an especially expensive time to fly. Pile on unruly passengers, system outages, baggage fees, carry-on restrictions, meager drink and snack offerings, and the trials and tribulations of merely coexisting with other travelers who insist on lining up at the gate 72 hours before their zone boards and you have a perfectly combustible situation.” • And then there’s all that damn coughing. Really kills the vibe.

“Frustrated visitors sue National Park Service over cashless policies” [SFGate]. “Three people sued the National Park Service earlier this month for its policy not to accept cash payments at a growing number of locations…. The park service instituted cashless policies at approximately 29 locations, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs said cash payments were refused at sites in Arizona, New York and Georgia.” • Good. More like this please. Is cash legal tender, or not?

* * *

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)

EM writes: “Trees on The River Shannon (Ireland).”

* * *

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. antidlc

    From Sirota’s SIgnals email today:

    THE U.S. AMBASSADOR FROM BOEING: The State Department quietly waived ethics laws to allow John F. Kennedy’s daughter to work on Boeing-related issues as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia — even though she was formerly a Boeing board member. Carolyn Kennedy’s waiver letter provides a glimpse of how the State Department is basically an appendage of the scandal-plagued company: “The U.S. Embassy in Australia works with Boeing across a range of issues… It is in the public interest for our ambassador to Australia to participate in matters involving Boeing, which has a key presence in Australia.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      So when our own reps are in talks with her about aviation matters, they have to wonder if she is talking on behalf of the US government – or of Boeing. Not a good look.

  2. Mo

    I was fooled by Bernie. He took me for over $2700 plus a bunch more to other fauxgressives.

    But I still can’t imagine being fooled by MW, even for a minute.

  3. Screwball

    Rural Ohio here. Not at all surprised at the election results and Bernie Moreno. Talking to people and reading local social media, so many people are not really into Trump (and wish they had another choice), but their main goal is to get the democrats out of office. Other than the PMC class everyone is fed up.

    On the Boeing guy. After 30 years in 3 large multi-national corporations, nothing, and I mean nothing, would shock me. The culture is evil. I was always in trouble because I told the truth. You can’t do that and survive. It’s that simple. Just my 2 cents.

    The congressional hearings yesterday about the squeaky clean Biden family was a real hoot. I can’t bear to watch too much, but Tony Bobulinski was a fun watch. When he started out by asking if Hunter (who’s seat was empty) should go first I laughed as hard as I have in ages. It was more entertaining from there. Too bad it’s a show.

    Today they used Susan Rice to rip Trump and tell us he is a security risk. 229 more days of this stuff. Oh, goody.

    1. Feral Finster

      I live in a fire engine red state, a state thst makes Texas look in many ways like a hippie commune, a state where you can legally hunt democrats and liberals, using specially trained dogs. Only in season, of course.

      There are true-believer Trumpers here. I see them every day. But a lot of people are for Trump not because of policy, per se, but because they want to Burn It All Down.

      This is entirely rational. In a system where entrenched interests make any kind of reform impossible, the only thing to do is to tear everything up by the roots and start over.

    2. notabanker

      Ohio suburbia here….and decades in MNC’s.

      I agree with all of your comments. Further, don’t mistake Ohio Trump supporters for the bumbling hillbillies the Dems want to portray them as. These are not unintelligent people. They are the mostly forgotten working class who see all of this stuff in the news everyday and are fed up and will oust just about anyone they can oust from authority.

      East Palestine may seem like some far away rural BFE to most of the country, but it was less than 100 miles from my house and those same tracks run just a few miles from here, so that literally could have been in a major population center, and with the right winds, impacting millions of people. I can tell ya the folks I talk to around here are not saying gee, that sucks for them. They are saying how could the US abandoned them and what happens when it’s me next?

      Another anecdotal piece of ‘they just aren’t getting it’… The county I live in just had a school levy fail, for the second time in a row. It is important to note that the population here has exploded in the last 15-20 years, largely because of suburban flight from underfunded and failing school districts in Cuyahoga County whose government is in complete corrupted shambles. The reaction from the school district after the election was, this is going to be painful next budget year because we won’t be able to get another one on the ballot before then. They truly cannot comprehend people are tapped out and not going to pay for fleets of 6 figure administrators and loaded GC construction contracts for new gyms, stadiums and school buildings we don’t need. Many of you would drive through this county and think it is nothing but PMC land, but it is a hugely biased Republican county and has been for decades.

      Personally, I think Sherrod Brown is in deep trouble and Biden has an absolute 0% shot at winning this state, if it is in fact a legitimate election. That they believe abortion and minimum wage is going to save them shows either how delusional they are, or their hubris to think they are untouchable.

      1. Lena

        Former Ohio resident here (Butler County and Scioto County). I remember when Ohio was considered a swing state, not a forgotten state by the Democratic Party. Times certainly have changed. The way the Biden administration treated East Palestine is beyond disgraceful. That cost Biden *any chance* to win the state. I watched Biden’s very late visit to the town. It was appalling. Not only did he look like death warmed over, it was obvious he wanted to be anywhere but there. (What the heck was he searching for in his pockets? His brain? His moral compass?) I like Sherrod Brown but I think he’ll probably get swept away in a Republican tide come November. My 2 cents. (I miss Ohio in the spring!)

      2. Screwball

        Well said, and I agree, especially with this part;

        Further, don’t mistake Ohio Trump supporters for the bumbling hillbillies the Dems want to portray them as. These are not unintelligent people. They are the mostly forgotten working class who see all of this stuff in the news everyday and are fed up and will oust just about anyone they can oust from authority.

        That is the narrative but so not true. These people who the PMC class call stupid red neck hicks from the sticks are not that way (at least the ones I know). Maybe these clowns who want their vote should go talk to them. But they don’t care, and these people know that. East Palestine is a good example (I’m about two hours away). EP (and Flint Michigan) is a travesty. I feel so bad for those people. I live in a railroad town – it could happen here. But I digress…

        Many of the people I know would vote for either party if they thought those people would help them. They also see that’s not going to happen. I’ve heard so many say “they can find money for war but can’t find any for us.”

        That’s not stupid, it’s true. So many are just fed up. Why wouldn’t they think that way – they’ve been screwed over their entire life – by these very same people.

  4. Mikel

    I thought about the Boeing whistleblower story when I stumbled across this story from the LA Times the other day:
    Mystery among the vines: Why is the FBI probing some of Napa Valley’s fanciest wineries?

    Lots of interesting, juicy questions. Then this part:

    “..Adding to the intrigue — and the grief — a key figure in Napa County, Ryan Klobas, died in an apparent suicide in January, weeks after the Department of Justice served a subpoena on the Napa County Farm Bureau, which Klobas headed. Klobas joined the farm bureau in 2017 as policy director and was named chief executive in 2018. Under his leadership, the bureau doubled its membership and formed a political action committee to work on behalf of the bureau that raised funds to successfully defeat a county initiative that would have limited the growth of wineries…”

    1. Marta

      Nancy Pelosi and Gavin Newsom have business connections there.

      Pelosi gets property tax exemptions as a “farmer” etc.

      An accident shines a light on the House speaker’s California life among the vineyards.

      Search for “Democratic elite Napa Valley pelosi newsom” for dozens of articles, one highlighted below.

      “The Pelosi estate on Zinfandel Lane, for example, is valued between $5,000,001 and $25 million, according to the records the congresswoman filed with the House clerk’s office for calendar year 2014. A description of the property posted on its architect’s website says it was inspired by Palladian villas and boasts a guesthouse and a “Z” shaped pool.”

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: GOP primaries flash warning signs for Trump

    But are all of these people voting for Trump opponents actually Republicans, or are a significant portion of them butthurt Democrats either voting in open primaries or temporarily switching parties in a futile effort to throw a wrench in the works?

    I personally know TDS afflicted people who have done that, and when the Democrat party is removing opposition from their own primaries or simply cancelling them, their own primary is largely meaningless anyway.

    1. IM Doc

      I am not at all sure how this has happened, but my wife in 2020, and now me personally in 2024, somehow have managed to get on a longitudinal polling situation for a major polling service that is quoted here on this site regularly.

      I do not know what we have done to deserve such punishment. They called her monthly in 2020 – and now it appears I am on the Rolodex – because yesterday marked the third time I had been called – in JAN FEB and now MAR.

      My wife learned the last time around that being honest and stating that you would be voting for someone other than the Dem would cause you to have all kinds of additional questions and times. If you just said you were voting for Biden – they had no further questions. Therefore, she was a “Biden voter” in the polls the entire year once she figured this out. The same thing happened to me in Jan when I told them I would vote for RFK ( even though interestingly he was not listed as an option by the pollster – and that has remained the case through yesterday). Lots of questions etc. The last two times I have just told them Biden – and they are very happy and no further questions or basically anything. The fact of the matter is that no matter what happens I will never be voting for Biden. I just simply do not want to mess with these people. Telling them that you are not interested in their calls, as my wife found out, leads to many more calls.

      My wife had a fear in 2020 of admitting to anyone on the phone that she was voting Trump. I thought she was a little psycho then; however, I no longer feel that way at all after the Dems have taken the course they have. It will be Biden for any further times they call me. Why would I ever risk putting a target on my back or my kids’ back like that?

      It always seemed interesting to me dating back to 2016 – how the actual numbers on election day were always surprisingly in Trump’s favor compared to the polling expectations – ( remember the NYT and their 100% Hillary victory?). My family and I now have a much clearer understanding of how this is happening.

      I take all of these polls with a big grain of salt. I feel you should probably add 5-7% onto the Trump number to bring it into reality.

      The other thing I would mention from down here in the Hinterlands is the Latino vote. I have seen this wave happening for a long time. This past Sunday at our church, and I have no idea how politics got injected – I missed the first 5 minutes of the class, we had a kum-by-yah session with a big group of Latinos in the class – all discussing how they have never voted before but would be registering and voting for Trump. ( I do wonder how much they are being counted in these polls as well). It was almost like they were asking permission for this act not to be a sin. The absolute aghastitude of the Rachel Maddow older white women in the classroom has given me serious smiles all week. These MSNBC types, who have laughed rightly at the Fox News crowd so long, have placed themselves in a cocoon that is far deeper I ever saw from the Fox crowd.

      1. Carolinian

        Is there still a do not call list or was that always a sham?

        As for “down here,” I have serious doubts about the idea of Georgia or North Carolina as swing states, 2024 presidentially speaking.

        1. Lena

          It was always a sham. I suspect names and numbers on ‘do not call lists’ were actually ‘sucker lists’ sold to telemarketers. Because telemarkets.

        2. Martin Oline

          I got rid of them for a while by congratulating the caller for being released from the detention center and getting a job, then inquiring whether they were on the sex offenders list because ‘of that incident’. Two weeks of peace then the robo calls started and they haven’t stopped. Unfortunately my old flip phone has a messed up screen on the outside so I always have to open it to answer when it rings. I think I’ll just hang up immediately from now on if no name appears.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I went to a county fair in 2016, and both political parties had tables at one of the pavilions. The Democrat table did not have anyone behind it when we stopped by. What they did have was a big white posterboard with a list of issues where you could put a little round colored sticker next to your pet ones. Wheeeeee!

        At the Trump table, his campaign people were handing out all kinds of Trump schwag and taking photos of voters beside a life sized Trump cutout. The people in line (there was an actual line, as opposed to the Dem table) were having a good time. Later in the afternoon I remember seeing a 50 or so year old Latino guy carrying his Trump totebag around the fairgrounds. Only reason I remember that was because at the time we were constantly being told what an abject racist Trump was for his comments about some Latino border crossers, but it didn’t seem to bother this guy one bit.

        1. clarky90

          Re; “In general, it seems like people are moving toward heat, not away from it (with some exceptions, like Maine and the Mountain States). Odd

          1. clarky90

            Don’t all of these foolish people realize that a cold climate is safe and effective? That is what I have been endlessly told?

      3. CA

        I am not at all sure how this has happened, but my wife in 2020, and now me personally in 2024, somehow have managed to get on a longitudinal polling situation for a major polling service that is quoted here on this site regularly…

        [ Really fine comment, as usual. ]

      4. ambrit

        Alas, the Democrat Party clique promises that when properly cajoled, (perhaps conjured would be more appropriate,) they will emerge from that cocoon as splendid rainbow hued butterflies. So far, all I have seen the signs of are gestating Sphinx moths.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphingidae

      5. skippy

        File under Adam Curtis doco ‘Century of the Self’, IM Doc.

        Along these lines, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of consumerism and commodification and their implications. It also questions the modern way people see themselves, the attitudes to fashion, and superficiality.

        The business and political worlds use psychological techniques to read, create and fulfill the desires of the public, and to make their products and speeches as pleasing as possible to consumers and voters. Curtis questions the intentions and origins of this relatively new approach to engaging the public.

        Where once the political process was about engaging people’s rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a group, Stuart Ewen, a historian of public relations, argues that politicians now appeal to primitive impulses that have little bearing on issues outside the narrow self-interests of a consumer society.

        The words of Paul Mazur, a leading Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers in 1927, are cited: “We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”[7]

        In part four the main subjects are Philip Gould, a political strategist, and Matthew Freud, a PR consultant and the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud. In the 1990s, they were instrumental to bringing the Democratic Party in the US and New Labour in the United Kingdom back into power through use of the focus group, originally invented by psychoanalysts employed by US corporations to allow consumers to express their feelings and needs, just as patients do in psychotherapy.

        Curtis ends by saying that, “Although we feel we are free, in reality, we—like the politicians—have become the slaves of our own desires,” and compares Britain and America to ‘Democracity’, an exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair created by Edward Bernays. – snip


        The bit your experiencing is the 4th chapter or “Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering” effect.

        Would also highlight the words of Paul Mazur above. Just imagine the psychology advances since then, generations of grooming, now from 3/5 yrs old are targeted, network effects top and bottom, just endlessly folding in on itself, and now almost an engine of perpetual motion without any one at the helm ….

    1. mookie

      Thank you, since nitter died it’s impossible to read twitter threads without an account, which… no thanks. That website has become thoroughly enshittified, unfortunately.

  6. lyman alpha blob

    Interesting tidbit from the recent gambling scandal surrounding the modern day Babe Ruth, Shohei Ohtani. Someone recently noticed large wire transfers going from Ohtani to a bookie. At first the story was that Ohtani sent the money to pay off his interpreter’s gambling debts. Then when it became clear that doing that was actually illegal, the story changed and now the Ohtani camp is saying he was robbed. https://www.yahoo.com/sports/shohei-ohtani-interpreter-scandal-piecing-together-the-confusing-timeline-based-on-what-weve-been-told-so-far-014454049.html

    But just look at how those wires are described –

    Bank records show Ohtani’s name on two $500,000 wire transfers sent to an associate of Bowyer’s [the bookie]. The description section of the transfers read “loan.”

    It does make one wonder if perhaps this is not the only instance where a payment labeled as a loan was not really a loan. Dear Hunter comes to mind…

    1. griffen

      Say it ain’t so, “Sho”? Update on a memorable phrase and moment from Eight Men Out. I’ve only overheard a brief summary on ESPN last night or earlier today about these developments around the new anointed One.

      Hey major sports leagues have embraced Vegas and all that glitters on your phone app for wagering and so forth. I wouldn’t be shocked honestly.

  7. Mikel

    “Large language models are architecturally incapable of forming new abstractions.

    Which is one reason why their value as programming assistants is vanishingly small….’

    What people have actually been presented with is more of a bunch of algorithmic culture vultures.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      However tiny an individual’s creative spark, it is a raging forest fire compared to the sterile ‘mind’ of a computing device.

  8. Carolinian

    Re that cashless story–the NPS accepts Walmart gift card swipes instead? Wow. Wonder if that works at other institutions.

    And their defense regarding the armored car service etc is not unreasonable. But if it now costs twice as much to handle the cash as they take in through admissions the logical solution could be to go back to free admission and save all that money. Similarly the often mandatory online reservation service probably sucks a lot of income off the NPS bottom line. Running a government run amusement park is expensive!

    So sue away I say and they may reach my logical conclusion regarding our taxpayer owned land.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t want to hear anybody suggest doing away with armored cars, which would also do away with armored car robberies, which do make awfully good stories.

      I remember watching a documentary several years ago about one of the bigger ones. The robbers had a great plan and got away at first, but they were eventually caught after one of the group did something they’d all agreed not to do, and began conspicuously spending money.

      They interviewed the getaway driver from prison and asked him, knowing all that he knew now, would he do it all over again. The guy didn’t hesitate at all and said, paraphrasing, “Yes, I would. Hitting the gas and pulling out with $50 million (or whatever the number was) in the back of the truck was the best feeling I ever had in my entire life.”

      1. Carolinian

        Sounds like it’s more about having to haul money from the wilderness boonies or, alternately, just an excuse on the part of the parks.

        In Arizona the forest service began making people buy parking hang tags by going to convenience stores. For awhile they had dispensing machines which were of course vandalized.

        All this could be solved if we simply soaked Bezos for the needed billions to support our national “commons.” Say what you will about the Rockefellers but they contributed quite a lot to the NPS with examples being Teton Acadia and the Smokies.

        So cough it up Jeff.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Laurence Rockefeller owned a lot of property in the town where I grew up and I actually used to sit next to him in church as a kid every so often. He used to wear an old tweed jacket with arm patches, and my ten year old self would never have known he was a squillionaire if the adults hadn’t mentioned it.

          One property was a forested hill with a very tiny ski area that was part of a resort he owned. When bigger ski areas came to the area, it became less popular and was eventually closed. Laurence decided to turn the hill into a national park, one reason being to keep it from being developed. And so the town wouldn’t lose the revenue, he set up some sort of trust to offset the lost taxes. Never heard anything but kind words about him and his wife Mary.

          His robber baron grandfather may have been the Bezos of his day, but Laurence gave a lot back. He was a class act.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            New money is necessarily cutthroat, old (i.e. suitably aged) money sometimes isn’t. Savva Morozov in the Russian Empire was like that too by all accounts. His father and his grandfather were ruthless penny-pinchers, whereas he was a good employer and philanthropist who argued for union rights (he also sheltered and bankrolled the Bolsheviks in their early days, but that’s a whole other story).

      2. JohnA

        And they make for great movies, such as The Italian Job with Michael Caine, Benny Hill, Noel Coward and others. The original one obviously, not the Hollywood remake.

  9. SD

    “Airline CEOs Seek Meeting With Boeing Directors to Address Production Problems”

    This is a business consultancy’s dream come true. McKinsey, and/or BCG, and/or boutique firms whose market is the aerospace or aerospace QA industry will hoover up millions of dollars from Boeing as long as this crisis continues.

    Boeing was the gold standard for engineering for many decades. Now, that beleaguered corporation–brought low by the likes of Jim McNerney (the former P&G CEO who spent most of his time as the CEO who oversaw the 737 MAX flipping Palm Beach mansions)–is up against it.

    At what point do the laborers (white collar included!) just say enough is enough.

    1. MaryLand

      At first glance I thought it said they met to address punctuation problems. That sounds about right for how much change they want to make.

    1. Carolinian

      Didn’t NYC once want to secede? I know Norman Mailer and some others were pushing it but perhaps merely to secede from NY state. In any case if they want to join up with Canada or become the new Luxembourg we flyovers may have to reluctantly agree and get passports for those B’way shows. Think they also have some nice museums.

      1. Late Introvert

        They used to have a vibrant music scene, several in fact, over decades. Wall St. put a stop to that nonsense.

  10. flora

    US Vote Pitches Bidenomics Against Celebrity” [Bloomberg]. “President Joe Biden has centered his campaign on his flagship industrial policy, dubbed Bidenomics, which involves pumping billions of dollars into creating US manufacturing jobs in industries of the future like chipmaking and clean technology…. But, as Akayla Gardner reports, it’s a theme that has largely failed to resonate with voters so far — ”

    And not just voters. Here’s a counterpoint to the claimed goodness of the B plan, from The Hill on March 7th, opinion column.

    DEI killed the CHIPS Act

    “The Biden administration recently promised it will finally loosen the purse strings on $39 billion of CHIPS Act grants to encourage semiconductor fabrication in the U.S. But less than a week later, Intel announced that it’s putting the brakes on its Columbus factory. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has pushed back production at its second Arizona foundry. The remaining major chipmaker, Samsung, just delayed its first Texas fab. ”


    1. Marylynn Desmond

      Count the number of For Lease signs in where you live.
      Look at the price of groceries.
      How many people have a new fulltime job?
      Are the number of homeless growing or shrinking?
      How many college graduates have started a new household?

      That’s all you need to know about Bidenomics.

      The high stock market just means someone’s making money off feeding on the carcass of America.

  11. CA

    China long did not allow genetically modifying crops. Now, having been collecting seeds and plant species all through the country for a couple of years, Chinese scientists are working on genetic breeding to improve crops. The effects will be quite interesting.

  12. griffen

    If the New York case where Trump is scheduled to dole out a large fortune in big bills only ( just kidding it’ll be wired over! ) then there exists a looming potential payday in the coming months that may help to assuage any doubt of an ability to pay the fine that goes with overvaluing real estate holdings. Nevermind the lawfare at work here of course. AG James got her man and pinned the target with a bullseye.

    Potential merger coverage from a short video below, courtesy of a savvy reporter at CNBC. I have always liked that David Faber sticks generally to facts and not fiction. I defer to others, on any added comments on the former SPAC issuance craze but that ended. They had their moment then, and no more.


    1. griffen

      Here’s a cynical thought that I was considering. Suppose the Trump hypothetical plan would be to group his most valuable assets into one bucket to not be touched never, not ever. But the second level grouping includes more “turn key” assets that are revenue generating machines of “efficiency” if you will and those are the assets to be monetized to meet the obligation to the NY authorities for this massive fine levied by the judge and NY AG Letitia James…

      Wouldn’t there be a need at that point for the state to publish those assets and the projected “windfall” as a result of these valuable assets being transferred to the public ownership for the citizens of the state of New York? A hypothetical is just that.

  13. CA

    I knew this, but now better understand the significance:


    May 5, 2023

    Chinese scientists achieve new breakthrough in hybrid potato breeding

    BEIJING — Chinese scientists have made a new breakthrough in hybrid potato breeding by using evolutionary genomics to identify deleterious mutations, which may help shorten the breeding process and generate more and better potato varieties.

    The breakthrough, made by a research team from the Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was published online * in the latest issue of the scientific journal Cell.

    Potato is the most important tuber food crop and one of the staple crops in most countries around the world, including China. Compared with other staple crops, potato needs less water and can be planted in a wide range of areas, said Wu Yaoyao, a key member of the research team.

    “But breeding a new potato variety takes too long. The potato variety used for McDonald’s fries was bred over 120 years ago,” Wu said.

    The main reason is that potato is tetraploid, which means it has four sets of genomes, and depends on asexual propagation through tubers, which has a long breeding cycle and low reproduction efficiency, while the tubers are also easily infected with diseases and prone to pests, Wu said.

    The research team launched a “Ubiquitous Potato Project,” aiming to transform potato reproduction from asexual to sexual, and from reliance on tubers to reliance on seeds, and guide potato breeding by using genomics and synthetic biology.

    In order to breed consistent high-quality potato varieties, scientists need to obtain high homozygous inbred lines by continuous self-fertilization, so that hybrid commercial lines can be produced with consistent properties, Wu explained…

    * https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(23)00405-1.pdf

    1. Michael McK

      One could put as much effort into producing open pollinated strains and end up with 2 useful strains which breed true rather than breeding 2 parents for the hybrid which farmers will need to replace every year (good for corporate profit) instead of saving tubers or seeds.

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Trump has made 88 endorsements in the primaries thus far. Not a single candidate for federal office has lost their primary with Trump’s backing.

    For comparison, I’d be curious to know how many endorsements Biden has made, and how that’s turning out. Can’t find a good source for the info.

  15. fjallstrom

    Regarding WSJ on immunity, they are rather close to admitting that the president’s job includes breaking the laws of the land. Probably hard to run an empire in any other way.

    1. Late Introvert

      It’s only “foreign” policy, which is always a precursor to “domestic” policy.

  16. steppenwolf fetchit

    . . . ” In general, it seems like people are moving toward heat, not away from it (with some exceptions, like Maine and the Mountain States). Odd. Readers?” . . .

    I doubt that everyone moving to the growing places is moving there for the heat. They are probably moving there for something else and have decided to accept the heat as the price they have to pay for whatever else they hope to get.

    1. Lena

      It’s an interesting map. It makes it look like nearly the entire population of Illinois has moved. Illinois doesn’t get *that* cold.

      1. Late Introvert

        My mom’s mom was named Lena, a sweet Swedish lady (or Sweetish as my daughter wrote once in school.)

        I myself moved back to the cold Midwest from Cali because it was likely to have warmer winters in the future. Bucking the trend, as I do.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Boeing whistleblower’s lawsuit against aerospace giant continues despite death”

    Reading that list of complaints, the only conclusion to make is that Boeing has lost control of their production line. They habitually do not record work done, commit felony offenses in what they do, cannot be bothered making sure that how they do the work does not end up putting those airliners and their crew & passengers at risk down the line, and install defective parts on airliners to meet artificial quotas. That incident with the door plug flying off was not an accident. It was a direct result of how Boeing does their work with sloppy work and no documentation which just happens to be illegal. The fact that the government is protecting Boeing means that there is only one solution. If you have to fly, do not do so on a modern Boeing.

    1. Late Introvert

      My guess is lawyers would be lining up except for the deep pockets required and the very real chance it will all be dismissed by legislation from the bought and paid for Congress.

  18. Tom Stone

    I was in Sebastopol earlier today and was asked by an acquaintance what I thought about Biden.
    I replied that he looked frail to me and that I wasn’t sure he’d make it to November and they blew up “He’s stronger than most men half his age, etc”.
    This is someone who stayed reasonably balanced during both the 2016 and 2020 elections, and it’s only March.
    It’s going to be one heck of an interesting year if people are this crazy already, and yes I really do think Genocide Joe is looking frail and think it quite likely he won’t make it to November.

    1. The Rev Kev

      From what you say, there are going to be a lot of friendships lost over the next coupla months. Probably more than a few divorces too. The sad thing is that they will be lost over two totally unworthy men – Trump and Biden- rather than something important.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      In fairness, Biden did exceed many people’s expectations just by getting this far. I think it’s entirely plausible that he’ll make it to November.

  19. TimH

    On iphone monopoly… if one can argue that Apple has a monopoly despite Android (and I’m not suggesting otherwise), then surely the book reader, streaming audio/video lock-ins are equally illegal? Particularly since ‘bought’ media can simply be disappeared later under Ts & Cs.

  20. Benny Profane

    As per the fate of church buildings essay:

    “Many church buildings could be gone for good — sold off to become apartments, breweries, wedding venues or other secular uses. Or they could be gone but still used for good causes, depending on what the congregations who used to own them decide to do.””

    It’s a big building that has lost its purpose. Help the transition, don’t get all nostalgic for a time when religion was important.

    Well, first, this has been going on for most of my adult life around me. I’m not too sure about wedding venues, that’s actually kind of strangely morbid, but, I have seen a lot of churches converted to pretty cool homes and apartment buildings, city and country. Big old banks, too, but, that’s another story. Brewery? Hell, beer was brought to the high end by Belgian monks. Anyway, I live close to a crossroads that has four converted old churches to individual homes, and every time I bike by, I am envious. Bonus if they kept the stained glass, but, that’s hard.

    1. Lena

      Some of the affordable apartments that I am on waiting lists for are in converted church buildings. Also in former high schools, YMCAs, banks, etc. It’s a good trend. Saving old buildings and creating new housing. (I’m not too sure about the old mental institution though – seems like there may be some bad feng shui there.)

  21. Wukchumni

    There’s a Billionaire who’s sure all that his trail will go cold
    And he’s boarding a jetway to a haven

    When he gets there he knows, as long as entry ways are all closed
    With a bunker he can get what he came for

    Ooh, ooh, and he’s boarding a jetway to a haven

    There’s signs all’s not well, but he wants to be sure
    ‘Cause you know sometimes mainstream media words have two meanings

    In a tree by the brook, there’s a security guard sniper who waits
    Sometimes all of our mere mortal thoughts are misgiven

    Ooh, it makes me wonder
    Ooh, makes me wonder

    There’s a feeling I get when I look @ the West
    And he’s getting ready for leaving

    In my thoughts I have seen lots of smoke through the cities
    And the voices of those troglodytes who stand looking

    Ooh, it makes me wonder
    Ooh, really makes me wonder

    And it’s whispered that soon if we all vote opportune
    Then the Orange pied piper will lead us to reason

    And a new day will dawn for those who couldn’t stand them long
    And the left behinds will echo with laughter


    If there’s a bustle in your NZ bunker, don’t be alarmed now
    It’s just a spring clean for the tall poppies
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
    There’s still time to change the road you’re on

    And it makes me wonder
    Ohh, whoa

    Your head is humming, and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
    The pied piper’s never calling you to join him

    Dear Illionaire, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know
    Your plan relies on the whispering wind?

    How did we wind on down this road
    Doomstown shadows taller than our soul
    There walks a mogul we all know
    Who shines white light and wants to show
    How everything still turns to gold
    And if you listen very hard
    The tune will come to you at last
    When all are one, and one is all
    Until his Praetorian Guard says ‘Lets Roll!’

    And he’s boarding a jetway to a haven

    Stairway to Heaven, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra


    1. MaryLand

      Thanks for that, Wuk. It’s very satisfying to have the truth nailed even when it is dystopian. Ooh and it makes me wonder …

Comments are closed.