2:00PM Water Cooler 4/18/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Stewart Park, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Originally recorded on 35mm film; tape speed noted as 46 cm/s…. [M]ade between 5AM and 6AM on 18 May 1929.” The Macauley Library is a library in the fullest sense of the word.

“When I Became a Birder, Almost Everything Else Fell Into Place” [Ed Yong, New York Times]. Readers will recall Yong as one of the few trustworthy mainstream journalists on Covid. The whole piece is worth reading in full, and it’s so lovely I hate to extract anything from it. But needs must: “Birding has tripled the time I spend outdoors. It has pushed me to explore Oakland in ways I never would have: Amazing hot spots lurk within industrial areas, sewage treatment plants and random residential parks. It has proved more meditative than meditation. While birding, I seem impervious to heat, cold, hunger and thirst. My senses focus resolutely on the present, and the usual hubbub in my head becomes quiet. When I spot a species for the first time — a lifer — I course with adrenaline while being utterly serene. I also feel a much deeper connection to the natural world, which I have long written about but always remained slightly distant from…. When I step out my door in the morning, I take an aural census of the neighborhood, tuning in to the chatter of creatures that were always there and that I might have previously overlooked. The passing of the seasons feels more granular, marked by the arrival and disappearance of particular species instead of much slower changes in day length, temperature and greenery. I find myself noticing small shifts in the weather and small differences in habitat. I think about the tides.” • Do we have any birders in the readership?

* * *

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Stewart Park, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Originally recorded on 35mm film; tape speed noted as 46 cm/s…. [M]ade between 5AM and 6AM on 18 May 1929.” The Macauley Library is a library in the fullest sense of the word.

“When I Became a Birder, Almost Everything Else Fell Into Place” [Ed Yong, New York Times]. Readers will recall Yong as one of the few trustworthy mainstream journalists on Covid. The whole piece is worth reading in full, and it’s so lovely I hate to extract anything from it. But needs must: “Birding has tripled the time I spend outdoors. It has pushed me to explore Oakland in ways I never would have: Amazing hot spots lurk within industrial areas, sewage treatment plants and random residential parks. It has proved more meditative than meditation. While birding, I seem impervious to heat, cold, hunger and thirst. My senses focus resolutely on the present, and the usual hubbub in my head becomes quiet. When I spot a species for the first time — a lifer — I course with adrenaline while being utterly serene. I also feel a much deeper connection to the natural world, which I have long written about but always remained slightly distant from…. When I step out my door in the morning, I take an aural census of the neighborhood, tuning in to the chatter of creatures that were always there and that I might have previously overlooked. The passing of the seasons feels more granular, marked by the arrival and disappearance of particular species instead of much slower changes in day length, temperature and greenery. I find myself noticing small shifts in the weather and small differences in habitat. I think about the tides.” • Do we have any birders in the readership?

* * *

In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Ed Yong on birding (under both “Look for the Helpers” and “Birdsong of the Day”).

(2) Doubling grid capacity with better cables.

(3) Feathers over the millenia.

* * *

Look for the Helpers

See Ed Yong on birding just under the Birdsong of the Day:

Really grateful to Jenny for writing this great piece about the Spoonbill Club – our little venture to run birding trips for Bay Area folks with long COVID and other energy-limiting chronic illnesses.

(And I hope someone fulfils Molly Adams's wish of starting a NY chapter.)

[image or embed]

— Ed Yong (@edyong209.bsky.social) Apr 13, 2024 at 12:45 PM

Neat idea, too.

* * *

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

* * *

Biden Administration

These are the ships that would have bulit that pier off Gaza:

No doubt there’s a Plan B, but still….


Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, April 5

Here this Friday’s RCP poll. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here), leading with one exception: PA. I’ve highlighted it again, (1) because BIden is now up there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there? (I’ll work out a better way to do this, but for now: Blue dot = move toward Biden; red dot = move toward Trump. No dot = no change (presumably because state polls are not that numerous so far from election day).

* * *

Trump (R): “Trump juror previously arrested for ripping down right-leaning political ads dismissed from trial” [FOX]. “[Juror #4] was excused from the jury in former President Trump’s criminal trial on Thursday after it was revealed the man was once arrested for tearing down right-leaning political advertisements…. Juror #2, a woman who lived on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and works as a nurse, returned to court Thursday morning and said that after further thought, she had concerns about being fair and balanced in the case. ‘I definitely have concerns,’ she said, noting that her family and friends questioned if she was serving on the jury [because news stories revealed her appearance]. ‘I don’t think I can be fair.'” • To the Prosecution’s credit, they participated in axing #4. More on the jury:

Solid PMC, looks to me.

Trump (R): “Second juror dropped from Trump’s hush money trial: Live updates” [The Hill]. “Five jurors have so far been picked, after two already-selected jurors were dismissed earlier Thursday. There are 13 juror selections more to go for a panel that will include six alternates, whittled down from hundreds of New Yorkers called to serve… ‘I still have a flip phone,’ one prospective juror noted as he indicated he doesn’t listen to any podcasts. He also made clear he ‘only’ gets his news from the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Among the prospective jurors’ questions is where they consume the majority of their news.” • A juror after NC’s heart! (Still feeling my way on the sourcing here; the reporting on this live blog is better than FOX, and easier to follow than the Twitter, so I may make The Hill my primary source. Readers?

Trump (R): Trump using his phone in court:

Dude, sleeping is fine. But a phone is too much.

* * *

Trump (R): “‘Smiling his ass off’: How Trump used the New York bodega visit to return to form” [Politico]. “Outside the Sanaa Convenient Store, the Harlem bodega where clerk Jose Alba fatally stabbed a customer who was attacking him — and who was initially charged with murder, before the charges were later dropped — Trump was back on familiar ground….. On Tuesday, Trump said he will ‘campaign locally‘ during the trial. And the bodega visit was likely just the first of many such appearances. His advisers have said, even on some trial days, to expect in-person and virtual events…. But as he spoke with reporters in New York, a bastion of Democratic politics, Trump’s read of the news landscape — if not the political one — seemed spot on. In the media capital of the world, Trump said he suspected there was ‘more press here than there is if I went out to some nice[ha] location.’ ‘He’s right,’ said Dave Catalfamo, a Republican consultant in New York…. But no matter where viewers stood on Trump, they could at least see in his appearance on Tuesday the kind of joy-riding former president they recognized…. The visit, said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York, was a signature example of Trump using ‘national television coverage as an advertising tool without having to pay for the gross rating points.’ ‘He’s very smart,’ Sheinkopf said. ‘Anybody who understates his capacity to use PR as opposed to normative political techniques is wrong. He’s very good at it, and what it does … it wipes away the things that people are trying to do to undercut his capacities.'” • Trump as master retail politician; who knew?

Trump (R): “A striking contrast on Trump trial day” [Washington Examiner]. “The scenario of a Democratic district attorney, Manhattan’s Alvin Bragg, putting Trump on trial amid a presidential campaign is striking in part because of a new survey showing a plurality of the public believing the Trump presidency was better for America than the presidency of Trump’s opponent, the sitting President Joe Biden. The news is deep inside a New York Times-Siena poll that found the Biden-Trump race overall almost exactly tied, with Trump leading Biden by a single percentage point, 46% to 45%. Later in the poll, the pollsters asked these two questions: ‘Do you generally remember the years that Donald Trump was president as mostly good years for America, mostly bad years for America, or not really good or bad?” and “Do you think the years that Joe Biden has been president have been mostly good years for America, mostly bad years for America, or not really good or bad?’ Trump had a solid advantage in voters’ recollections, with 42% saying his presidential years were mostly good years for America, while just 25% said Biden’s presidential years have been mostly good for America. Trump also had a solid advantage on the other side of the answer, with 33% saying his presidential years were mostly bad for America, while a much larger 46% said Biden’s presidential years have been mostly bad for America. Trump’s advantage in voters’ memories is nearly across the board.”

* * *

Biden (D): “Biden claims uncle vanished after crashing in area of New Guinea with cannibals; military has different story” [FOX]. “Biden told the [Pittsburgh] steelworkers that after D-Day, his mother’s four brothers volunteered to join the military. One of those uncles, he said, was Ambrose Finnegan, who went by the nickname Bozey. ‘He was a hell of an athlete, they tell me, when he was a kid,’ Biden said, adding that he was in the Army air corps, which was in place before the Air Force came along. ‘He flew those single-engine planes as reconnaissance over war zones, and he got shot down in New Guinea. They never found the body because there used to be, there were a lot of cannibals, for real, in that part of New Guinea.’ … The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has a different record of what happened to Biden’s uncle. The site said on May 14, 1944, an airplane carrying a crew of three and one passenger, identified as Finnegan, left Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island for a courier flight to New Guinea. ‘For unknown reasons, this plane was forced to ditch in the ocean off the north coast of New Guinea,’ the report reads. ‘Both engines failed at low altitude, and the aircraft’s nose hit the water hard.’ The report also said three men failed to emerge from the sinking wreck and were lost in the crash, while one crew member survived and was rescued by a barge. Finnegan has not been associated with any of the remains recovered from the area after the war and is still not accounted for, according to the report.” • Cannibalism in the zeitgeist, I swear. And floating around in Biden’s brain.

* * *

Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gets spot on Michigan’s ballot as Natural Law Party nominee” [Detroit News]. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whom some experts view as a potential spoiler in this year’s race for the White House, will be the Natural Law Party’s nominee for president in Michigan. Kennedy’s campaign announced the news Thursday, a day after members of the Natural Law Party in Michigan held a convention where they officially picked him…. The Natural Law Party’s website touts plans to lower taxes, to make teaching ‘an honored profession with commensurate compensation’ and to enact programs ‘to reduce stress in the individual and throughout society.” • The “website” is the national Natural Law Party’s website, but the national party dissolved most of its state chapters in 2004, though Michigan is still active. Be that as it may, the stress reducer touted on the national party’s website is Transcendental Mediation™. So.

* * *

PA: “Trump’s fight for Pennsylvania” [Unherd]. The description of Trump’s speech in Lehigh County’s Schnecksville is super, but this is the meat of the piece:

Both [Biden and Trump] will be fighting hard for the overwhelmingly white, working-class vote in the state. Historically, Lehigh Valley was populated by the Pennsylvania Dutch, described by one local historian as ‘the most conservative people in America.’ But, in recent years, the make-up of the region has begun to change. Over the last couple of decades, the Valley has become the East Coast’s ‘supply-chain empire’ for transporting one-click goods on interstate highways. Given its proximity to New York and Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley serves as a node for 100 million people living on the eastern seaboard to receive their deliveries, bringing new jobs and revenue to the region. That has also caused a population boom, much of it driven by Latinos who moved to the area in search of work. Allenstown is now a majority-Hispanic city — a demographic that Trump has been actively trying to court. A recent poll found that the GOP contender now edges out Biden among Hispanic voters, with 46% supporting the former president. A separate poll shows that 42% of Latinos now support a border wall — up 12 points from December 2021. In a state where Latino political power is growing, this could pose a threat to Biden’s re-election prospects.

And of the rally-goers:

But it is not his appeal to Latinos that makes Trump rallies so different from any other. It is how he electrifies a segment of the population in a way that no other politician can. These are people who weren’t interested in politics before Trump and, troublingly, won’t be interested in it after him. In some respect, it is a revolt of the disenfranchised.

“A revolt of the disenfranchised….” you’d think somebody would do something about that…

Republican Funhouse

“Doing ‘the right thing’ may cost Johnson his speaker’s gavel” [CNN]. “It took less than six months for Speaker Mike Johnson to reach his existential moment. The Louisiana Republican has arrived at fateful but familiar crossroads where he must either choose to honor a conventional vision of US national interests or side with the wrecking ball antics of his party’s far-right bloc…. Now, as Johnson tries to pass billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — vital to protecting US allies from Russian, Iranian and Chinese totalitarianism and preserving US power and prestige – he’s having to put his own job on the line to confront GOP extremists who accuse him of betraying the party’s base. ‘When you do the right thing, you let the chips fall where they may,’ Johnson said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday ahead of three critical days that could decide whether he can cling to his gavel.” • It’s highly unlikely that billions for a losing war in Ukraine and a genocide in Gaza will “preserve” “US power and prestige” (though perhaps I’m not being cynical enough. A “wrecking ball” seems thoroughly appropriate, though it would be my preference to see it swung by the left, were there any such animal.

“Josh Hawley’s Labor Revolution” [Compact]. “As Batya Ungar-Sargon has written in these pages, today’s GOP is a ‘working-class party without a working-class agenda.'” Yeah, like ownership and control of the means of production. But I digress (except not, really). More: “But there are important exceptions to this trend, and few shine as brightly as Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) when it comes to standing up for wage-earners and forging alliances with organized labor. Over the past few months, these efforts have earned Hawley justified praise—and donation dollars—from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Most recently, the Teamsters’ political action committee offered $5,000 toward Hawley’s re-election campaign in recognition of his support for striking auto workers, among other labor groups. It’s a rare feat for a Republican lawmaker at a moment when partisanship continues to divide the GOP from organized labor, even as the party under Donald Trump continues to consolidate its support among union households…. The Hawley-Teamster alliance demonstrates that it is possible for Republicans to win labor’s support, provided both camps are prepared to take trust-building steps. For Republicans, it isn’t enough to merely make vague pro-worker noises that amount to so much culture-war vibes. They have to stand with workers on material grounds, as Hawley admirably has. For unions, meanwhile, it likewise means a willingness to privilege bread-and-butter issues over the progressive shibboleths that too often lead the mainstream of the labor movement to act as slavish adjuncts of the Democratic Party.” • And “fighting against” the “progressive shibboleths” with distractions like DEI. What this article is really arguing for is a pivot from the culture wars, and about time, too.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“The very short Mayorkas impeachment trial, explained” [Vox]. “On Tuesday, House Republicans sent two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the upper chamber, and on Wednesday, senators were sworn in as jurors for a trial. The articles accuse Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws, making false statements to Congress, and obstructing oversight into DHS policies, all charges he denies. On Wednesday, the Senate rejected both articles, voting 51-48 along party lines to deem the first ‘unconstitutional; and 51-49 to dismiss the second article and adjourn the trial before it even really began. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted present on the first article… while the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas was designed to cast negative attention on the Biden administration as Trump navigates countless legal scandals of his own, Senate Democrats’ quick dismissal has dulled much of its impact.” • Effective when they want to be….

“Moskowitz confronts Greene on Ukraine, Nazi remarks” [The Hill]. “Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) confronted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in a Wednesday hearing about her false claims that Nazism was rampant in Ukraine — an argument frequently touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify his country’s invasion of Ukraine.” • The difficulty where is that Nazism is rampant in Ukraine (see NC here, in a post that contains numerous examples of Ukraine’s Azovs being called Nazis in the US press, when it was permitted to do so). Meanwhile, who Moskowitz?

Too bad to see The Hill taking in AIPAC’s laundry.


“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

* * *

Covid 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!

* * *


“Is It OK for Internists to Wear Masks Forever?” [Catherine Sarkisian, MD Sensible Medicine]. Sarkisian is a geriatrician at UCLA Health. “I was happy to see that the VA no longer requires staff or patients to wear masks. Patients who are coughing are asked to wear masks, and staff who are sick are told to stay home.” Four years into the pandemic, and Doctor Sarkisian remains resolutely ignorant that SARS-CoV-2 spreads both a- and pre-symptomatically. I pity her patients, dealing with someone so ignorant. More: “I was unhappy to see that most doctors still wear masks. For the house-officers on my team, this included wearing masks in our private conference room. I worked with one house-officer for an entire week, and I never once saw his face.” (Note Sarkisians barely, er, masked wish to assert her authority over the house-officer — “Let me see your smile!” — by making it more likely she would be able, if infected, to infect them.) This lie trope drives me up the wall. Masks — except for industrial-strength Darth Vader masks, not at issue here — cover the mouth and nose. They do not cover the eyes, which are — follow me closely, here, Doctor, because you seem to have forgotten the anatomy part of your medical education — part of the face and are (“the windows of the soul”) capable of expressing the full range of human emotion. Half the planet wears masks regularly, including in hospital settings ffs. More: “Hiding your face from your attending and colleagues is one thing, but the more important questions is: what impact does wearing a mask have on our ability to provide outstanding patient care? How does it feel for our patients who are sick and alone in the hospital to never see a human face?” • Man, that’s a toughie. During Delta, it would have felt a hell of a lot better to see HCWs wearing masks than coughing your lungs into bloody mush. And today it feels a lot better than neurological and vascalar damage, plus Long Covid. There’s probably more and worse, but I can’t go on. “I was happy to see HCWs blithely infecting patients with an airborne pathogen, while smiling” [pounds head on desk].

Elite Maleficence

WHO actually walking back airborne transmission, after having admitted they were wrong to suppress it:

The new WHO report, a thread:


And more:

HICPAC will be happy. I’ll have to read the report myself in the near future…

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 15: Regional[2] Biobot April 15:
Variants[3] CDC April 13 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 18: National [6] CDC April 6:
National[7] Walgreens April 15: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic April 6:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 25: Variants[10] CDC March 25:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 16: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 16:


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 a level far above valleys under Trump. 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) No backward revisons….

[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) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Flattening out to a non-zero baseline. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

[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) Still down.

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

[11] Looks like the Times isn’t reporting death data any more? Maybe I need to go back to The Economist….

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US was unchanged from the prior week at 212,000 for the period ending April 18th, below market expectations of 215,000. Additionally, continuing claims were loosely unchanged at 1,812,000 at the start of the month, below market expectations of 1,818,000, to show that the unemployed are finding jobs at a healthy pace when compared to historical standards.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US rose 12 points to 15.5 in April 2024, well above market expectations of 1.5. It was the third consecutive positive reading and the highest since April 2022… The survey’s broad indicators for future activity fell but remained positive, suggesting continued expectations for growth over the next six months.”

* * *

Retail: “Inside Amazon’s Secret Operation to Gather Intel on Rivals” [Wall Street Journal]. “The operation, called Big River Services International, sells around $1 million a year of goods through e-commerce marketplaces including eBay, Shopify, Walmart and Amazo under brand names such as Rapid Cascade and Svea Bliss. “We are entrepreneurs, thinkers, marketers and creators,” Big River says on its website. ‘We have a passion for customers and aren’t afraid to experiment.’ What the website doesn’t say is that Big River is an arm of Amazon that surreptitiously gathers intelligence on the tech giant’s competitors…. The story of Big River offers new insight into Amazon’s elaborate efforts to stay ahead of rivals. Team members attended their rivals’ seller conferences and met with competitors identifying themselves only as employees of Big River Services, instead of disclosing that they worked for Amazon. They were given non-Amazon email addresses to use externally—in emails with people at Amazon, they used Amazon email addresses—and took other extraordinary measures to keep the project secret. They disseminated their reports to Amazon executives using printed, numbered copies rather than email. Those who worked on the project weren’t even supposed to discuss the relationship internally with most teams at Amazon.” • Oh, “Big River.” I get it. Musical interlude.

Tech: “A Rarely Used Technique Could Double U.S. Grid Capacity” [Oilprice.com]. “Much of the grid infrastructure is outdated, built to rely on electricity supplies from a few major energy hubs. However, as more green energy projects crop up in atypical locations – such as rural regions and offshore sites – it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that energy will reach the grid for distribution. Many energy experts believe it will take a complete overhaul to prepare the grid for the rapid growth of the country’s renewable energy capacity. Yet, some believe it may be possible to roll out a rarely used technique to upgrade old power lines across the U.S. …. Two reports released this month suggest that replacing existing power lines with cables made from state-of-the-art materials could potentially double the capacity of the grid across many parts of the U.S., allowing more renewable energy projects to be connected. The technique, ‘advanced reconductoring’, would replace the traditional approach to transmission line construction. Most of the powerlines in the U.S. are made up of steel cores coated in strands of aluminium, as electricity companies continue to use the century-old, tried-and-tested design. However, some companies have developed innovative cables, which use smaller and lighter cores, such as carbon fibre, that have a greater energy transport capacity than aluminium. While the technology is available in the U.S., many major companies have been reluctant to make the switch due to their unfamiliarity with the materials, as well as the fear of regulatory and bureaucratic limitations. Most importantly, replacing old transmission lines can be done quickly and prevents the need for regulatory approval for new power infrastructure. The technique is also significantly cheaper than a total infrastructure overhaul, costing around half the price of constructing new lines. The reports suggested that if utilities started replacing the thousands of miles of power lines they could add four times as much transmission capacity by 2035 as they are currently on pace to do.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 18 at 1:04:37 PM ET.

News of the Wired

“Why Feathers Are One of Evolution’s Cleverest Inventions” [Scientific American]. “Feathers kept [B6, a young Bar-tailed Godwit] warm overnight while it flew above the Pacific Ocean. Feathers repelled rain along the way. Feathers formed the flight surfaces of the wings that kept B6 aloft and drove the bird forward for nearly 250 hours without failing.” This is extremely nerdy: “[P]owered flight—that is, flapping flight rather than gliding flight—probably evolved multiple times in dinosaurs, with just one of those lineages surviving to the present in the form of birds. Yet only in birds did flight feathers attain the degree of shape-shifting we see today. That ability of feathers to twist in just the right way is what enabled slotting, which makes the wing much more efficient at low flight speeds. In essence, a slotted wing behaves as if it is longer and narrower than it is anatomically. Slotting also makes the wing tip very resistant to stall, whereby the airflow separates from the wing, causing a precipitous loss of the lift that keeps the bird in the air. It’s a vital adaptation that underpins an array of aerial acrobatics.”

* * *

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 Desert Dog:

Desert Dog writes: “Good morning!!” It’s still winter!

* * *

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 three or four 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 Guest Post, 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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Trump as a retail politician.

    1. Trump has money issues putting a lid on the old rallies.

    2. Though Biden doesn’t have money issues, he can’t pull off rallies and his campaign has promised to hold small events because Biden is supposedly a retail politician ignoring results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    3. This at least seems clever because its going to create a clear side by side. There is the guy who buys milkshakes and the son of Corn Pop who fought Mongols with the Roman legions in Germany.

    1. Pat

      Gosh, Trump who can credibly fake liking people vs. the guy who could never make it past Iowa and NH before 2020 because he couldn’t disguise that he is a raging jerk. This should be fun. Well it would be if there was any chance Biden was going to be in a room that wasn’t filled to the brim with hand picked Vote Blue No Matter Who die hards.

  2. Wukchumni

    The Chichijima incident (also known as the Ogasawara incident) occurred in late 1944. Japanese soldiers killed eight American airmen on Chichi Jima, in the Bonin Islands, and cannibalized five of them.

    Nine American pilots escaped from their planes after being shot down during bombing raids on Chichijima, a tiny island 700 miles (1,100 km) south of Tokyo, in September 1944. Eight of the airmen, Lloyd Woellhof, Grady York, James “Jimmy” Dye, Glenn Frazier Jr., Marvell “Marve” Mershon, Floyd Hall, Warren Earl Vaughn, and Warren Hindenlang were captured and eventually executed. The ninth, and only one to evade capture, was future U.S. President George H. W. Bush, also a 20-year-old pilot.

    After the war, it was discovered that the captured airmen had been beaten and tortured before being executed. The airmen were beheaded on the orders of Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana Japanese officers then ate parts of the bodies of four of the men.


      1. LifelongLib

        Bush parachuted into the ocean and was floating in a liferaft when he was rescued. IIRC there was later some controversy about his conduct during the incident but I wasn’t able to find any info about it.

        1. Martin Oline

          Bailed out right away, leaving the crew without a pilot I believe. Gee whiz, the plane crashed. Imagine that.

  3. Randall Flagg

    Desert Dog’s picture, a before and after. Wonderful photo. That tree in the background reminds me of the picture a few months ago, a lonely sentinel (?) alongside a road heading off into the distance.

  4. Wukchumni

    I’m only ever a birder in NZ, and that’s because its pretty much the entire wildlife scheme there, save Aussie possums, stoats & rabbits, the odd Captain Cooker (wild boar descended from mating pairs the Captain left back in the day) and the elusive tahr.

    One trip I walked 200 km in the backcountry over a number of Great Walks and whatnot and was awarded with a bunny rabbit sighting, my lone non-bird mammal.

    It helps that the birds had NZ all to themselves pretty much for 20 million years, and there are so docile compared to anywhere i’ve been in an avian vein. I’ve been within 10 feet of majestic NZ Falcons, don’t try that in North America!

    I hardly notice birdlife in the Sierra-not my deal, but it is a friend’s passion, and to watch him see and hear things is a fresh look at something that was there all along, I didn’t pay attention.

    1. griffen

      My childhood memories are from the early to late 1980s, maybe from watching the best Bird that ever walked the planet from French Lick to Boston to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Talk about an all timer with the game on the line and the lights were bright. Larry was a Legend!

      Back then I did like the Lakers better, since Magic + Kareem made quite the duo. Plus they had Gastonia native James Worthy as well.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      i rarely leave the farm, anymore…so my constant presence likely has an effect on my very local wild bird population(ie: theyre used to me…like the squirrels)
      one can get closer in that situation by not looking straight at them(as in face turned away, as if intent on something on the ground, while side-eyeing them as best one can(this works with sheep, goats, geese, guinneas, turkeys, and even deer)
      i regularly walk within 5 feet of various songbirds(and squirrels)…and have even had little sparrows swoop in to perch on a branch not a foot above me while i was on my knees weeding(this morning) and sit there as we look at each other.
      i also allege that the nakedness/lack of textiles has an effect…but cant figure how to prove that….could be “vibes”, or something…like how my wound up tight brother cant catch fish.

  5. IM Doc

    Let’s go back to the 1970s and 1980s – and probably what was the single most important part of my medical education – in the sense of becoming a physician who could communicate and interact with his/her patients and how they were presenting that day. It is called bedside manner – and is rapidly becoming a lost art as we have progressed to a more financial related system. This loss makes me sick.

    It is all about learning human behavior. And a key part of that is divining where your patient is mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually while they are in your presence in front of you.

    Today, medical students get a mere glancing blow at this type of training and experience because after all, really understanding your patients is no longer important. It is all about getting them in and getting them out with prescriptions in hand. As fast as we can. It is preferable to have the doctor’s face buried in a screen and not even deal with the patient at all. That is how my last two physicals with much younger docs have gone.

    In my day – 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the whole first two years of medical school were spent in “Human Behavior”. As it had been for a generation before, the overall theory was called “Transactional Analysis.” There were multiple textbooks involved – the one I most remember was I’m ok you’re OK – still on my shelf right now. But textbooks had little to do with this. This was real life in your face learning to deal with infinite combinations of personality and behavior – live and in person with your professors, peers and a host of actor “patients”.

    Basically – you learned all about the 2 dozen or so personality types and disorders – and how they each appeared with all kinds of emotions. A gestalt in a few seconds – and then instant interaction and observing how this changed during the visit. And CRITICAL to this was eyes ( sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc) mid face ( sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc) and mouth ( sad, happy, angry, frustrated) – these are all human behaviors that are deep in our brains and psyche. It is critical for the observer to know that the person in front of you – was congruent in emotions in all their face – OR – for example – if the eyes were angry and the mouth was happy, or any other combination, discongruent. And then how you as the observer needed to deal with that. And you can very rapidly suss out personality types and disorders by carefully paying attention to these findings. And your behavior is molded based on it. This is known as the Therapeutic Sequence. It was also the bedrock to the “bedside manner” You quickly learn to change your own behavior as the MD to better suit each patient no matter how different their presentation. Again, there is nothing easy or intuitive about any of this. Lots of hard work.

    The narcissist with happy eyes and angry mouth is handled much differently than the schizoid with happy eyes and an angry mouth. The narcissist with happy eyes and sad mouth is handled much differently than the narcissist with sad eyes and happy mouth. It takes a bit of time to determine each patient’s personality type – but I eventually know them all.

    This training was of CRITICAL importance to primary care docs and mental health docs. Surgeons not so much. I am so glad in my soul to have come up during the time I did. This training which was the most difficult part of my entire experience has been so important to me and has served me well. This has completely gone by the wayside – very minimal time in human behavior at all anymore – and I think we can all see this in our younger physicians.

    All of this to say – the eyes, the mid face and the mouth and the interplay between the three are CRITICAL to truly get where your patient is coming from. During the masking era, I have many times felt like I had no rudder. Especially true of new patients. I completely understand the situation – but that does not mean that there are serious deficits happening because we as physicians are unable to fully assess our patients.

    1. Randall Flagg

      Thank you so much for your comment!!
      Personal experience in two instances has me thinking it’s been thrown to the wayside. Years ago, broke both bones in my forearm, plates screwed in to keep the pieces together while it all healed back together. During a checkup and a cast change felt like zero progress happening and I asked the doctor when he was looking at the X-ray, is there anything I can do? He just said no and continued on. I thought, Jesus Lollipop, at least tell me to drink a couple extra glasses of milk a day or something. Finally found out the most when the guy changing my cast for the 3rd time mentioned what a serious break it was. Made me feel better about how long it was taking. Not that I figured it would be quick after all they had to do but throw us sone bones.
      Second is a recent cancer diagnosis. Given over the phone , which I get, but leave me with a little more than we’ll be in touch about further appointments. How about a few positive words and direct me to some resources? Instead of turning to the internet, half of the info there unworthy of even being flushed into the septic tank.
      Positive or caring words or advice, the simplest things sometimes. I say all this with the complete understanding that it’s tough to give at times when the news can be truly devastating.

    2. Ben Gunn

      Thank you so much for your comments here at NC, IM Doc. If only you and people with your medical integrity, skills, and experience were the ones valued at all levels, and directed US medical policy.

    3. playon

      The last two doctors I have seen had little “bedside manner” all. My current primary care guy is fresh out of medical school and looked up the wrong patient’s chart the first time I met him. You have to be vigilant and proactive these days.

      1. ambrit

        And be prepared to argue against upper management mandated ‘suggested procedures.’ I have to politely decline to be “vaxxed” every six months or so. I’m also one of the last of the “Maskers” in the medical clinic waiting room now.
        That room on fire cartoon meme is pretty much right on the money.

      2. Jeff V

        I remember going to the doctor to get the results of an x-ray on my hand.

        The doctor called an x-ray up on the screen, and said it all looked fine – nothing was broken.

        I’m not medically trained, so I was happy to take his word for it that there wasn’t a fracture, but I did have to point out this seemed to be an x-ray of a foot, not a hand. (Fortunately, it turned out my hand was also fine, once they pulled up the correct x-ray.)

    4. ilpalazzo

      Well it turns out what happens inside people is as important as what happens between them. Human is a social animal despite what economists say.

        1. Randall Flagg

          Maybe, but still a great picture and one can scroll on by if not in one’s favor…

  6. Reader

    Re: Airborne transmission

    WHO twitter post from 3/28/20 is still up:

    “Fact Check: COVID-19 is NOT airborne

    . . . You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands . . .”


  7. ambrit

    That single snippet of the ‘The Hill’ article toadying to the AIPAC is a classic case of propaganda. Never let the truth get in the way of the “approved” narrative.
    I had some hopes for The Hill. Alas, all dashed on the rocks of an AIPAC High.
    What is delicious here is the spectacle of an Ultra Jewish organization running interference for real Nazis. Someone should get the Kahanists on AIPAC’s case.

  8. Lunker Walleye

    Thank you for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak Song of the Day. This is about the time of year that they show up at the feeder for a few days and we missed them last year. We’re not birders but we do have a nice variety of feathered friends who enjoy a drink, a bath and the seeds in the feeder – especially in drought times. We are visited by many Cardinals, Robins, Nuthatches, Goldfinches, Tufted Tit Mice, Mourning Doves, Grackles, Sparrows and Starlings.

  9. Feral Finster

    “Moskowitz confronts Greene on Ukraine, Nazi remarks” [The Hill]. “Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) confronted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in a Wednesday hearing about her false claims that Nazism was rampant in Ukraine — an argument frequently touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin to justify his country’s invasion of Ukraine.” • The difficulty where is that Nazism is rampant in Ukraine (see NC here, in a post that contains numerous examples of Ukraine’s Azovs being called Nazis in the US press, when it was permitted to do so). Meanwhile, who Moskowitz?

    Everyone knows that Moskowitz’s claims are so much horsehockey. However, those Ukrainian nazis are useful tot he Empire at the moment, so now they are Good Nazis.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      Genocide(tm) can only happen TO Jews, it seems. they(rather their zionist proxies) hold the patent.
      projection is so rampant, these days.
      everything ive learned about russia in the past 20 or so years belies what that guy alleges.
      and i, like NC, have a long memory…and remember well the myriad mainstream stories about Ukronazis.
      and my Dog!…whats been all over the intertubes for six months regarding what his hallowed eternal victims are currently up to in Gaza?

      but if you only watch msdnc/cnn…and only go to Kos or baloon juice online for your news…what do we expect?

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        and adjacent to that story is the new Plan from the Progressive Caucus….https://thehill.com/homenews/house/4602795-house-progressives-2025-agenda/

        included is “raising the minimum wage”…which has been stuck since 2009 at $7.25/hour(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States)
        of course, even here in Texas, in the depths of pandemic when wallymart and micky d’s learned that folks didnt want to work for them any more, they unilaterally raised their starting wages to 18-22 per hour…at least for a time(i dont get out anymore, so i have no idea)…i said at the time, “see…they could have done it at any time, after all”.
        of note in this article, as well as in the linked official statement…nothin about universal healthcare or ending the warmongering and support for genocide, etc.
        and i didnt notice a word about hypersurveillance.
        so, as ever, i remain unrepresented.

        1. JBird4049

          The minimum wage would probably have to be about $31.00 today match the lifestyle that the minimum wage of $1.60 in 1968.

          I do not grok how anything less than $21 or 22 as a minimum wage is honestly defendable, nor how people can believe that a functioning economy can exist with such a mismatch between income and need.

          1. LifelongLib

            My rental experience only goes back to the mid-70s, but I recall that on a summer job I was able to rent a room for $10/week when a color TV cost ~$500. So my entertainment for a couple months consisted of some p*rn magazines left by the previous tenant and a portable radio. I don’t recall feeling deprived…

            1. JBird4049

              You don’t miss what you never have had, but food, shelter, clothing you will always need.

              Speaking of entertainment, I vaguely recall that a new paperback cost was roughly the same as an hour’s minimum wage. I bought a lot of books in the 70s and 80s with odd jobs. And went to the movies as well.

            2. Pat

              Mid seventies as well, full apartment was one weeks pay at minimum wage. Roommate made that easily manageable, even working part time and going to school full time Full semester at a state university was two weeks pay at minimum wage I had a scholarship that made it one weeks pay, but even without that it was possible for people to earn enough in a summer to get your next year’s tuition and fees covered. A friend lived on oatmeal. I bought canned soup and boxed mac and cheese in bulk when on their usual monthly sale.

              Show me where any of that is possible in America anymore.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Jared Moskowitz is the sort of person that gives Florida Man a bad reputation. But there is a meme here in , that like others, he says that what he says cannot be questioned as he is descended from Holocaust survivors. Give me a break. The Nazis were slaughtering all sorts of people and though Jews were at the top of their list, they were not the only one. But if you cannot see Nazis in the Ukraine, it is because you do not want to see them. It just seems strange that we have a situation where a Jewish guy is trying to protect modern day Nazis-


      1. digi_owl

        Wasn’t the Azov sponsor a Ukrainian Jew with an Israeli passport?

        And on a different note, at first glance i though the official portrait of Moskowitz showed him wearing a military uniform.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Kolomoisky, yup. But it’s kinda hard to say whether he was directly funding Azov (as a militia), just paying for provided services (as in taking over companies or protecting his companies from take-overs or inspections) or if it was just “protection money”. Of course, all of the above may apply.

      2. sarmaT

        Strange? All those modern day Ukro-Nazis are funded and used by Jewish-Ukrainians (like Kolomoyski) and Jewish-Americans (like Nuland). They are just protecting their dogs, because they find them useful.

        This guy having last name Moskowitz is hilarious. Banderites’ slur for Russians is Moskovites or Moskals. He should change his name to Kyivitz or Lvivitz.

        Who’s on top of the list, depends on who’s doing the counting. Nazis killed more Slavs than Jews. Putin descended from Leningrad holocaust (lowercase h) survivors. Modern day Nazis are also killing Slavs, just like in the old days, but can’t touch their new bosses.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          Nazis killed a higher percentage of the Jews in their jurisdiction than the percentage of Slavs that they killed, because the Slavic population was way bigger and removal of all possible Jews from existence was first on the Nazi priority list.

          But if Nazi Germany would have won the war, they would have conducted an equally thorough holocaust of the Slavs going forward. Pacifists don’t like to be reminded about that. Pacifists like to say, for example, that World War Two didn’t help anything because didn’t the Poles get oppressed by the Soviets after World War Two anyway? And they don’t like it when you point out to them that what Poland gained from the Allied Victory was avoiding Germany’s planned-for Nazi Holocaust of the Poles. For example.

      3. sarmaT

        I made another comment, with a link to a video in it, but it didn’t appear. I guess it triggered some anti-spam filter, or something like that.

        It’s a video of Zelensky himself talking about these things, back in 2014.

  10. MaggieNC

    For Bird Folks that love a good story…..Return of the Osprey: A Season of Flight and Wonder
    by David Gessner

  11. Tom Stone

    I am a bit puzzled that even here most people don’t seem particularly concerned with the consequences of “Letting ‘Er Rip”.
    Two of those are impaired Cognitive function and widespread Immune Dysregulation.
    The first of these may well explain some of the reckless and irresponsible behavior we see among western Leaders as well as on the roads.
    The second might take a larger bite out of our collective ass, perhaps soon.
    The USA now has millions of people with impaired immune systems which both makes it much easier for zoonotic diseases to take hold and increases the severity of any infection those with damaged immune systems contract.
    HPAI is one threat that is visible, a much more deadly variant of SARS 2 Covid 19 is also quite likely at some point and Influenza is one of the other nasties waiting in the wings.
    It seems to me that the herd is going to be thinned out big time and soon, even barring Nuclear War or climate change.
    I think I’ll open that package of Girl Scout cookies and have a cup of Darjeeling…

    1. antidlc


      I must admit that the consequences of “Letting ‘Er Rip” scare the living daylights out of me.

      (still masking, but no one else seems to in my neck of the woods)

    2. chris

      What makes you think the people on NC aren’t concerned about our current decision to “Live With It(tm)” and “Show Your Smile!(r)”?

      I’m very frustrated. I still mask when traveling and at other times. I still use nasal sprays. I still test. I still use vitamins. I still check local levels when I’m traveling places.

      What I don’t do anymore is expect to see any one else do anything about it. They have no power either. As for cognitive issues in those who are serially infected, it just reminds of the Chicken Heads in PKDs Blade Runner. Not the aspect of cyber punk fiction I thought I’d get to experience in real life, but oh well…

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      “….herd is going to be thinned out big time and soon…”

      that was my first thought upon hearing about covid, circa january 2020, right here, at NC.
      nothing since has dislodged that opinion/assessment.
      “too many useless eaters” is a phrase and sentiment that have been afoot in the world for a long, long time.

      1. ambrit

        Oh yeah. The old phrase, “Survival of the fittest,” has now been spun to, “Survival of the meanest.”
        I ‘woke up’ to the danger when I understood the ramifications of the phrase “deplorables.” Also, realizing that it came from the mouth of the Wicked Witch of the West Wing left no doubts as to the phrase’s ultimate aims.
        Stay safe.

    4. SocalJimObjects

      Just sharing my observation. Driving in Third World countries is most certainly a very dangerous undertaking with drivers having to navigate situations like pedestrians crossing the street out of nowhere all the time on top of sharing the roads with other aggressive drivers on both cars and motorcycles. Having been to Indonesia multiple times since the pandemic, I can say that Covid’s cognitive effects haven’t been enough to blunt the driving ability of Indonesia’s drivers. Also, I would estimate that only 20% of Indonesians are still masking, and that’s being generous, because in reality, most people outside the capital of Jakarta have quit wearing one quite some time ago.

      I still advocate for wearing a mask, but thankfully I have yet to encounter a situation where stepping into a car equates to winning Darwin’s award.

    5. steppenwolf fetchit

      I don’t think most people here are ” not particularly concerned” about the consequences of ” Spread Covid everywhere, deliberately, on purpose.”

      What we are is sadly resigned to the basic fact of “spread Covid everywhere” being the Prime Directive of our Rulers and Governators. We are doing what we can to avoid getting the Covid which the Typhoid Mary Covid Zombie-Lepers all around us keep sharing and spreading and supporting. And Covid-avoiders are finding eachother to become groups of Covid-avoiders.

      Now . . . can enough organized Covid-avoiders conquer all levels of government in at least some places and make that government exclusively ours and not the Typhoid Mary Covid Spreaders’ government anymore? If we can, perhaps we can turn those areas into No Covid Zones. Or at least Low Covid Zones. Or at least-least Lower Covid Zones.

  12. antidlc

    My apologies if this has already been posted.

    Dr. Lucky Tran reposted
    German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach gives an update on Long COVID.

    Even those getting reinfected or infected after vaccination, again have the risk of getting Long COVID.

    We have many Long COVID cases, and with each wave of infections, more cases are added.

    We still do not have a cure for many of these patients.

    Many children and teenagers are also affected.

    Long COVID competence centers are now forming nationwide.

    (Engl. subtitles for the first 2 minutes:)

    video at the link

  13. Chet G

    Ever since moving to Pennsylvania (20 years ago), I’ve been increasingly involved with birding, whether as subjects to photograph or simply to enjoy the color and song that birds bring to any area.
    An afterthought: In a world beset by horrors, birding rises above all that and is a path to beauty.

  14. Benny Profane

    “Dude, sleeping is fine. But a phone is too much.”

    I don’t know. He’s an excellent improvisor. Like, in the next link:

    “But no matter where viewers stood on Trump, they could at least see in his appearance on Tuesday the kind of joy-riding former president they recognized…. The visit, said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York, was a signature example of Trump using ‘national television coverage as an advertising tool without having to pay for the gross rating points.’ ‘He’s very smart,’ Sheinkopf said. ‘Anybody who understates his capacity to use PR as opposed to normative political techniques is wrong. He’s very good at it, and what it does … it wipes away the things that people are trying to do to undercut his capacities.’””

    I mean, late night hosts, you ain’t got nuthin’ on the master.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Doing ‘the right thing’ may cost Johnson his speaker’s gavel”

    I see that he has split the bill into smaller bills so that there are billions going to the Ukraine, billions going to Israel and billions going to Taiwan. Say, whatever happened to billions for the border area? That topic seems to have totally gone away. Did they finally solve it? Good if they did. But I can see why the urgency for money to the Ukraine. Gotta keep that washing machine churning. The majority of that money will never even leave the shoreline but will go to the MIC and with the rest of it, there are a lot of people wanting to be paid off. Oh, and 10% for the Big Guy.

    1. Belle

      Remember that conspiracy theory among the right wing (and some on the left, like Cornel West’s VP…) about Taylor Swift being a “Deep State plant”? One of the few pieces of “evidence” they claimed was from an article in which people were brainstorming how to get more support for Ukraine. One involved Taylor Swift. (It should be noted that the last time someone tried that was the Invisible Children/Kony 2012 campaign. It didn’t get her help.)
      But there was another group suggested…Ukrainian Baptists. Given the political strength of the SBC on the American right-wing, this was suggested by some…and someone listened.
      Noted right-winger Richard Land signed onto a letter with Ukrainian Baptist leaders urging the Speaker to approve funds to aid Kiev.
      No word on how Baptist leaders reconciled Ukraine’s attacks on churches outside Kiev control with their support of Freedom of worship…

  16. Judith

    I was a casual birder for decades. Then, about five years ago I decided I wanted to become a better birder and started birding almost every weekend, obsessively checking ebird, chasing rare sightings. Studying bird guides. Going to Audubon bird camp. So Ed Yong’s description rings true to me.

    However, it is the meditative aspects of birding that are ultimately the most rewarding for me. I have always found being in the natural world magical. The act of walking in a natural habitat for hours focusing intently on seeing birds and learning about them takes me out of myself in ways I treasure.

    And birds are fascinating.

  17. steppenwolf fetchit

    I used to be a birder. I am a birdwatcher now.

    What’s the difference? A birder gets very time-energy devoted to seeing ever more kinds of birds. The seriously competitive ones try very hard to build up the biggest life-lists, year lists, county-lists, state-lists, or any other kind of birding competition within set-up rules of the game. When I was young, my father started going to ( and bringing me to) the monthly meeting of the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society ( “bird club”). After some years of going out on organized trips with the membership I because a reasonably respected-for-my-age junior birder and sometimes got invited out personally on trips that some members organized among themselves. When I was about 13 years old or so I got invited to go on a 150 mile road trip to some flat marshy land near Dunlap, Tennessee in hopes of seeing a ruff which had been credibly reported and accepted as sometimes being seen there. And we got to see it. As a bird, it kind of reminded me of a dirty gray park pigeon standing on taller legs. But it was a very rare bird and I was glad to have gone all that way and gotten to see it for the record. That’s part of what a birder is or can be. Here’s a whole lottabuncha images of the ruff. The males look modestly spectacular but it was not a male which we went to see.

    Nowadays as a birdwatcher, I am happy to see the birds of my little region over and over and over again, listen to them, etc. And I am happy to watch them and watch what they do. And the challenge of trying to identify difficult or challenging birds is still a fun challenge. But I wouldn’t try joining a suddenly-found-out-about charter flight to Alaska just for the sure thing of seeing a Ross’s gull. That’s what serious-enough birders do. Here’s some images of a Ross’s gull . . .

    One thing I have wondered about is whether birders have “bird stories” that are somewhat equivalent to “fish stories” among fishers. Here’s an example of what I mean. Several decades ago, Dad and I used to sometimes go to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in Western New York State. ( We were living in upper state New York by that time). Once when we were there, someone told us about a small group of bar-headed geese that were sometimes credibly being seen in the area. Bar-headed geese? Really? A time not long after that when we were there again, we say ( and I saw and knew I was seeing) a tiny group of three bar-headed geese flying by semi-far off. What a competitive prestige thrill it would be to put that on one’s life list. The problem was . . . . there was known to be an eccentric collector of world waterfowl living in the general area and there was always a question as to whether these bar-headed geese were escapes from his collection. Since I have never heard that the question was conclusively answered “no”, I have never felt able to put them on my list. The bar-headed geese that got away.

    Here it is . . . the bar-headed goose.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “A Rarely Used Technique Could Double U.S. Grid Capacity”

    God forbid that they come up with something called ‘smart cables.’

    1. upstater

      re. “A Rarely Used Technique Could Double U.S. Grid Capacity”

      Reconductoring transmission lines is non-trivial. It is a very expensive although cheaper than new lines. The availability of carbon fiber core cables is left unexplained as are examples of where this has been accomplished. Further higher capacity lines require higher capacity terminal equipment and transformers.

      1. dunkey2830

        @upstater Tweaked my curiosity too. This Forbes article has a cable section diagram that reveals how extra current capacity is achieved.

        Basically a smaller dia. carbon fibre strain core (stronger/lighter than twisted steel wire) is externally wrapped longitudinally with solid annealed (denser) aluminium conductors of trapezoidal section. The closely interleaving conductor trapezoidal sections eliminates wasted inter-strand air gap areas inherent in conventional stacked twisted round wire cable.

        Thus given the same outer cable diameter, current carrying capacity is approx doubled.

    2. digi_owl

      Heh, already happening after a fashion.

      Was recently reading about a company making clamp on sensor pods for old power lines, to allow the owners to modernize their remote monitoring.

  19. NotThePilot

    “Birding …”

    I’m not a birder, just bought a guide once and know some basic things off the top of my head. I know they’re jerks, but for some reason, magpies are my favorite to date. The exaggerated hopping, the sweeping wing-strokes, the style, and yes, the ridiculous swagger. They’re like the yakuza of the sky.

    I have, however, recently rekindled a childhood interest in amateur astronomy. And there’s definitely something meditative about that, though it’s more abstract and mathematical. Like I imagine with serious birders, there’s also a lot to study when you can’t be out in the field. Once I invest in my first (basic) pair of binoculars, I intend to get some that work well for wildlife too, so maybe I’ll drift into birding more.


    This has absolutely nothing to do with the actual point of the article, but I noticed the author’s last name is specifically spelled “Sarkisian” and she’s at UCLA. Could be a relatively common name in LA, but the one time I was living there, I’d always go to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf near the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon. You knew it was nearby when you could see a big sign for Sarkisian’s Goodwill across the street. I wonder if she’s related to the owners somehow. Maybe she is and had retail-style customer service trained into her from a young age?

    Anyhoo, I’m out of stupid, rambling observations for now; have a great night, everyone.

      1. Lena

        Tradition of magpies as omens:

        One for sorrow,
        Two for mirth,
        Three for a wedding,
        Four for death

  20. Skip Intro

    “A revolt of the disenfranchised….” you’d think somebody would do something about that…

    People are fighting to disenfranchise even harder at this very moment.
    Of course the reason they are disenfranchised is that they are revolting, simply deplorable.

  21. SocalJimObjects

    Oh no, WWIII might have started. Iranian media has confirmed strikes by Israel on Iranian territory. This weekend, I’ll be sure to enjoy myself eating whatever I like :(

      1. chris

        Dear Reverend, I’m beginning to think Israel and Ukraine are just the US in drag. I suppose we shouldn’t hope for the US disavowing these attacks so that Iran doesn’t strike at our people in the area? I suppose we can’t even consider letting Bibi and his cohort of crazies to take the medicine that will come from this attack?

        And what will the US response be if Israel gets smacked back hard by Iran?

        Genocide Joe apparently wants WWIII in time for Mother’s Day. God help us.

      2. Acacia

        So now Aljazeera is quoting Tasnim news agency that “there are no reports of an attack from abroad against Isfahan or any other part of Iran”.

        And ISNA News Agency quoting an unnamed senior military official that the military only fired shots at “suspicious objects”. No damage, etc.

        My Twitter feed is fully of contradictory claims about this, e.g., video from peeps in Isfahan saying everything is business as usual, but also reports of “mini quadcopters” being shot down near Isfahan.

        I wonder if this was just Israel probing Iranian air defenses. **shrug**

      3. digi_owl

        I’m getting more and more convinced that Bibi need to keep escalating as backing down will result in a bullet to the neck.

        After all, he was facing a popular uprising before the whole Gaza thing kicked off. And it is suggested that he withdrew much of the IDF right before, basically inviting Hama to act.

        But he needed Gaza to be an easy win to come out the hero, and it turned into a quagmire.

        But by getting Iran dragged in, maybe he can get USA to intervene. And send UMSC to take over in Gaza as well.

      4. steppenwolf fetchit

        The speculation I heard on NPR news is that Israel did a tiny little strike hitting nothing nuclear and Iran is so far pretending that nothing of consequence has occurred. If so, they have decided that tit for tat for tit for etc. has gone far enough now and they will both go back to sulking in their corners.

        We shall see.

        In the longer run, Netanyahu certainly wants to keep the war situation going for as many years as possible in order to delay his corruption trials by as many those-same-years as possible. And he has to do what Smotrich ben Gvir tell him to do or they will leave his coalition and let his government fall and then the corruption trial can go ahead. And they know it. So he lets them set the war policy and the Gaza policy and etc. so he can stay out of court a little while longer. Sometimes a ruler’s motives are just that crude and venal.

    1. Jason Boxman

      And so it begins! Looks like Biden can lose another war under his watch.

      This is the first direct attack on Iran that isn’t terrorism that I’m aware of by Israel.

  22. The Rev Kev

    So Katherine Maher has just been made head of NPR. Who is she? You go into her bio and see the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, the US State Department and the Atlantic Council. Jimmy Dore shows video of her giving a TED talk and she is saying things like seeking the truth may not be the right thing to do, even though that is what journalism is supposed to be. Finding common ground is more important which I call the “narrative”-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsCIcUF_bsY (22:30 mins)

    1. digi_owl

      She was also the PR person and later CEO at Wikimedia foundation.

      It seems like all that talk about reality having a liberal bias went out the window after 2016.

    2. doug

      Could we raise money and have an ad on NPR(I have no idea what that cost, probably too much) with her quotes about the truth not being needed?
      I think the positive here is the longer she is there, the more folks will turn it off.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Well, I often have NPR going in the background as sweet fluffy ear-candy. If she turns it into ear-vomit, I will stop listening.

        Also there are programs on NPR other than All Things Considered and Morning Edition which remain of some value and interest to me. If those degrade and decay, I will give up on them also.

    1. lambert strether

      I found this Finkelstein post unnervingly irrefutable, notwithstanding the difficulties of fitting scripture-addled whackjobs into Mearsheimer’s realist frame (which is a good frame, if predictive value is your criterion).

Comments are closed.