2:00PM Water Cooler 4/24/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, my strategy of “lying flat” has, so far, induced a rapid rebound in my symptoms, so hopefully I will be more or less normal tomorrow. –lambert. No orts and scraps today; I will resume my policy of masterful inactivity. From my reading of the Trumo trial so far, it’s sound and fury, with Bragg’s thoery of the case looking even weaker. More tomorrow.

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Bird Song of the Day

American Woodcock, Powatan WMA Powerline Trail, Powhatan, Virginia, United States. Courtship, display, or copulation; Flying.” Having a hard time finfind an American Woodcock that doesn’t sound digital.

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

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Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, April 19:

Here this Friday’s RCP polling. Trump is still doing very well in almost all the Swing States (more here), leading with one exception: PA. Forget all the arithmetic, and look at PA as a test of the Trump campaign’s basic competence. What are they doing to fix this? (I’ll work out a better way to present 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).

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Trump (R): (Merchan/Bragg): “Trump trial: Key players at the centre of the former president’s criminal case” [BBC]. “Mr Bragg has adopted a novel legal theory that will turn a misdemeanour – falsifying business records – into a felony. He has alleged that Mr Trump changed the business records to cover up a second crime – the violation of New York campaign-finance laws. His office alleges that the Trump campaign sought to hide the affair from voters ahead of the 2016 election. Legal experts have mixed views about whether the gambit will work, but Mr Bragg has pulled together an experienced team of prosecutors who are very familiar with Mr Trump to make the case.”

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Trump (R): “Trump’s map edge: Biden has tougher path to victory, veteran Dem adviser says” [Axios]. “With over six months to go until Election Day, given the volatility in the world and the weaknesses of Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, it would be foolish to make firm predictions about specific results. And other electoral map scenarios are possible: Recent polling shows Mr. Biden with a narrow lead in Minnesota, a state that usually votes for Democrats for president. While it is mathematically possible for Mr. Biden to win without carrying Minnesota, it is unlikely he will be elected if he cannot carry this traditionally Democratic state. For the third election cycle in a row, a small number of voters in a handful of states could determine the next president of the United States. If the election remains close but Mr. Biden is unable to regain support from the core group of voters who propelled him to victory in 2020 — young and nonwhite voters — then we could be headed to a repeat of the 2016 election. The outcome of that election was decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” • Normally deprecate swipe-friendly interactive maps, but this is a good one.

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Newsom (D): “Gov Gavin Newsom worries about ‘overindulgence,’ ‘obsession’ with Trump hush money trial: ‘Less is more'” [FOX]. “MSNBC host Jen Psaki asked the Democrat governor about a ‘chorus’ of people who think the hush money trial is only helping Trump politically, which she said was driving her ‘crazy.'” No doubt. More: “She questioned what Newsom might tell an undecided voter about why the case should matter to them. Newsom argued it should matter, but also said that Trump ‘doesn’t care if he’s the hero [“face,” actually] or the heel, he just wants to be the star.’ ‘When we are focusing on him, I do worry electorally that he has a slight advantage. And so, I am a little concerned about the overindulgence around the day-to-day. I get it, I totally get it. The consequential nature of a criminal trial is profound and outsized, in some respect, but not more outsized than democracy, more outsized than Dobbs,’ he said, referring to the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.” • I think that Newsom makes a good point, but I also think the Democrats won’t be able to help themselves, and more than the Republicans impeaching Clinton could.

Pritzker (D): “Pritzker says Chicago is prepared for DNC amid cease-fire protests” [The Hill]. “‘Just understand that Joe Biden is fighting for peace in the Middle East, is fighting to end the hostilities between Israel and Gaza, and make sure that we’re providing humanitarian aid there,’ he said. When you think about the protests, it’s Joe Biden that’s standing for peace, and a lasting peace at that, and it’s the Republicans that, frankly, would stoke the flames of war in the Middle East.’ Pritzker noted that protest groups calling for a cease-fire shut down an interstate outside of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last week as part of a national movement, and that Chicago Police quickly escorted the groups off the roadway faster than other protests in the country. ‘Our Chicago Police Department was able to get those folks off the highway faster than any other city in the United States. And they’re prepared for the Democratic Convention,’ he said. ‘Look, we believe in free speech, and we’re going to allow people to protest and say whatever it is they want to say,’ he continued. But the reality is, we’re also going to make sure that people have ingress and egress and that they’re safe in our state.'”

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Republican Funhouse

“How Mike Johnson Got to ‘Yes’ on Aid to Ukraine” [New York Times]. “He huddled with top national security officials, including WILLIAM J. BURNS, the C.I.A. director, in the Oval Office to discuss classified intelligence. He met repeatedly with broad factions of Republicans in both swing and deep red districts, and considered their voters’ attitudes toward funding Ukraine. He thought about his son, who is set to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall. ‘And finally, when his plan to work with Democrats to clear the way for aiding Ukraine met with an outpouring of venom from ultraconservatives already threatening to depose him, Mr. Johnson, an evangelical Christian, knelt and prayed for guidance.'” • And came up with the most ridiculous rationalization I’ve ever heard. Technically, however — and I’m not sure what to make of this — there’s apparently a deep split between “ultraconservatives” and the “Christian right??


“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

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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!

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Airborne Transmission: Covid

“Exploring indoor and outdoor dust as a potential tool for detection and monitoring of COVID-19 transmission” [Cell]. “This study investigated the potential of using SARS-CoV-2 viral concentrations in dust as an additional surveillance tool for early detection and monitoring of COVID-19 transmission. Dust samples were collected from 8 public locations in 16 districts of Bangkok, Thailand, from June to August 2021. SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in dust were quantified, and their correlation with community case incidence was assessed. Our findings revealed a positive correlation between viral concentrations detected in dust and the relative risk of COVID-19. The highest risk was observed with no delay (0-day lag), and this risk gradually decreased as the lag time increased. We observed an overall decline in viral concentrations in public places during lockdown, closely associated with reduced human mobility. The effective reproduction number for COVID-19 transmission remained above one throughout the study period, suggesting that transmission may persist in locations beyond public areas even after the lockdown measures were in place.” • Lockdowns work but only as part of a layered approach.

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Vinay having a good one:

“Privatization,” of course, is never barbaric:

It’s the highest form of civilization!

Transmission: Covid

“Age-specific nasal epithelial responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Nature]. In vitro model incorporating in vivo data. From the Abstract: “Here we investigate differences in the cellular landscape and function of paediatric (<12 years), adult (30–50 years) and older adult (>70 years) ex vivo cultured nasal epithelial cells in response to infection with SARS-CoV-2. We show that cell tropism of SARS-CoV-2, and expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in nasal epithelial cell subtypes, differ between age groups. While ciliated cells are viral replication centres across all age groups, a distinct goblet inflammatory subtype emerges in infected paediatric cultures and shows high expression of interferon-stimulated genes and incomplete viral replication. In contrast, older adult cultures infected with SARS-CoV-2 show a proportional increase in basaloid-like cells, which facilitate viral spread and are associated with altered epithelial repair pathways.”

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 22: Regional[2] Biobot April 22:
Variants[3] CDC April 13 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 23: National [6] CDC April 13:
National[7] Walgreens April 22: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic April 13:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC April 1: Variants[10] CDC April 1:
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) Slight uptrend.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Uptick.

[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

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured durable goods in the United States surged by 2.6% month-over-month in March 2024, following a downwardly revised 0.7% growth seen in February and slightly exceeding market expectations of a 2.5% increase. It marked the largest monthly advance in durable goods orders since last November.”

Tech: “The question that no LLM can answer and why it is important” [MindPrison]. Good examples. Conclusions: “The implications are that LLMs do not perform reasoning over data in the way that most people conceive or desire. There is no self-reflection of its information; it does not know what it knows and what it does not. The line between hallucination and truth is simply a probability factored by the prevalence of training data and post-training processes like fine-tuning. Reliability will always be nothing more than a probability built on top of this architecture. As such, it becomes unsuitable as a machine to find rare hidden truths or valuable neglected information. It will always simply converge toward popular narrative or data. At best, it can provide new permutations of views of existing well-known concepts, but it can not invent new concepts or reveal concepts rarely spoken about.” Censorship Indistrial Complex: “Exactly what we want!”

Tech: “The Man Who Killed Google Search” [TechMeme (JustTheFacts)]. Grab a cup of coffee, this is great. It’s so horrid I really can’t pick out on item more horrid than the next The only thing that surprises me is that there’s no Google equivalent for Boeing’s John Barnett. Can’t we just nationalize Google, fire the top management, roll the code base back to, say, 2009, and start over?

Tech: “Google delays third-party cookie demise yet again” [Digiday]. “Google is delaying the end of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser — again. In other unsurprising developments, water remains wet… Google did not outline a more specific timetable beyond hoping for 2025. This is the third time Google has pushed back its original deadline set in January 2020. Back then, the tech behemoth promised to phase out third-party cookies “within two years” to beef up security for users while surfing the web. But since then, Google’s hit the brakes twice already. And every time, it’s been to give the ad industry more prep time for something that’s been surrounded by a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes. Even at the start of the year, as Google phased out cookies for one percent of browser traffic, questions loomed over when more significant changes would occur.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 31 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 22 at 12:48:27 PM ET.

Groves of Academe

Portrait of a professsor not getting it:

Can anybody find a decent well-attested video of the Israeli protester allegedly being poked in the eye by a flag? Big flag with a pole? Small, hand-flag? Thanks@

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Belle

    It may be too technical to discuss, but different schools of Bible Prophecy may be at root in the split. Johnson was trying to straddle the gap between modern Seven Mountains/Theonomist dominionist Post-Millenialism and traditional Fundamentalist pre-Tribulationist, pre-Millenialism. He may have chosen the latter.

    I haven’t read the NYT, but this may have been a major factor.


    Richard Land was a long-time SBC leader as it shifted rightward. He got dismissed from his position for criticizing Obama’s (meager) response to the Trayvon Martin case, and being found to have plagiarized much of his materials.

    As an aside, not long ago, there was an article from a think tank suggesting that Ukrainian Baptists contact their American counterparts to get support for the war. The media missed it…

    1. Feral Finster

      “As an aside, not long ago, there was an article from a think tank suggesting that Ukrainian Baptists contact their American counterparts to get support for the war. The media missed it.”

      More to the point – LockheedMartin, Raytheon, etc. contacted their congressional representatives.

    2. converger

      Ummmm… …are Orthodox Christians considered Christian? Do you have to be Baptist? Do Mormons count? Unitarians? Quakers? Evangelical Baptist congregations that explicitly support LGBTQ people and a woman’s control over their own body, as part of their personal relationship with God? Bonhoeffer Christians actively fighting Dominionists like Johnson?

      This is creepy. It’s starting to feel like the Thirty Years War, one of the stupidest European wars in history, fought entirely between 22 major non-Orthodox “Christian” factions.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m still a bit sore over losing the Battle of White Mountain in 1620…

        Money went to Hell in the Germanic states around the same time period, it was called the Kipper und Wipper crisis.

        How to Raise an Army by Debasing Your Currency and Screwing Your Neighbor

        During the 17th century “Kipper und Wipper” crisis, German states made bad coins and tried to pawn them off on neighboring states.

        Wars cost money, and at that time money was still made from actual precious metal. Wars were paid for in gold and silver, and that’s what these soon-to-be warlords needed. That hunger for precious metals set off one of the most dramatic financial crises in European history, the “Kipper und Wipper” period, in which neighboring states were actively defrauding each other with bad currency.

        In the early 1620s, when the crisis peaked, Germany as we know it today didn’t exist yet; there was only a collection of German states united under the failing Holy Roman Empire. Many of Germany’s states minted their own coins, and they could vary from state to state, especially in small denominations. What made these coins valuable, no matter what border they crossed, was the silver within.

        But, to raise money, it was possible to create coins with less precious metals than the value stamped on their face. Kipper und Wipper, a term that came from contemporary pamphlets and broadsheets, refers to the clipping of coins’ edges and the swinging of the scales as good money was exchanged for bad.


        1. ChrisFromGA

          Fascinating stuff. I fear though, that should Jay Powell read this blog, you’ve given him some fresh new ideas.

          1. Wukchumni

            Through this beast all vanishes one-two-three
            Like a fire, it burns all things away
            There’s naught that can its hunger sate,
            In short, it is ill-gotten gain,
            Born straight from out of the brood of greed.
            For it has this special quality,
            It gobbles gold, wealth, strength gradually.
            Where ill-gotten gain has taken root,
            Good fortune there cannot remain.

            Who will indeed this hunger still?
            Who can this wolfish belly fill?
            What would suffice for a people and town,
            This beast, by itself, can swallow it down,
            Forever crying out for fodder,
            Whatever it gets, it still wants more.
            It’s like the great mouth of the sea,
            A gluttonous snake, a devouring dragon.
            Whoever wants riches without disgrace,
            Let him drive ill-gotten gain away from the land.

            From contemporary German broadsheets, 1622.

      2. Feral Finster

        Plenty of evangelicals consider the Orthodox not to be “real” Christians, if Christians at all.

        To give one poignant example – the Christians of Iraq survived for thousands of years. At times they were tolerated, at other times persecuted, at other times, they even thrived. They survived the Sassanids, the Muslim invasions, the Crusades, wars and colonialism of various sorts, including being gassed by the ever-so-humanitarian British. They survived Murad, Tamerlane, Al Mutawakil, Saladin, Zengi, and Saddam Hussein, to name a few.

        Those Christian communities did not survive the American liberation of Iraq, led by the swaggering evangelical George Bush. The Christians of Iraq, as well as the Jews, Allawi, Yazidi, Zoroastrians and Mandeans are almost all gone now, murdered, forced to flee or forced to convert.

        And Bush and his neocons never lost a minute’s sleep over it.

        1. scott s.

          I suppose it depends on your understanding of what “evangelical” means. I consider myself to be an “evangelical” through the core beliefs of sola fides, sola scriptura, sola gratia. Anything beyond that seems denominational — don’t equate “evangelical” with Southern Baptist or pre-millenialism or dispensationalism.

        2. John

          Perhaps the Orthodox return the sentiment if they think of evangelicals at all. Either way it is most unchristian. You know, “Love they neighbor. Bless them that hate you.”

          I doubt Bush even knew of the existence of the Iraqi Christians and certainly not those other sects. Perhaps had they been sitting on untapped reservoirs of oil.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Bush had no idea of the Sunni – Shia segments of Islam, especially as it related to Iraq, and it had to be explained to him. A profoundly ignorant man.

      3. yep

        Western Christians have been trying to destroy Orthodox Christianity for about a thousand years. This war did not start two years ago, nor a decade ago. There is not much new under the Sun.

  2. Wukchumni

    …anybody going to the Lethal Live Aid concert, and what will the lineup look like?

    “History judges us for what we do,” he told reporters at the Capitol last week. “This is a critical time right now. I could make a selfish decision and do something that’s different. But I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing. I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important.”

    1. paul

      U2 will top the line,
      Coldplay support,
      REM will guest, cozitsdemocrats,
      Taylor will skip due to boyfriend problems.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: How Mike Johnson Got to ‘Yes’ on Aid to Ukraine

    The blurb you highlighted is quite vague. What did the spooks tell him? What did constituents say? His son being in the naval academy seems like a poor excuse, given that he’s more likely to wind up in a body bag due to his father’s vote, but perhaps Johnson is counting on Ukraine being a landlocked rump state by graduation time.

    If the NYT really wanted to be thorough, they’d be checking his freezer for a bag of cash or his bed for a horse’s head. Those both seem like much better reasons for such a flipflop.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      So, God told him to use his privilege and power to slaughter another 500k humans.

      Got it. He has a lot in common with Netanyahu.

      1. Carolinian

        God or the Devil. If the latter then he could be lying.

        As for Baptists referred to upstream, the are the business religious if not outright prosperity gospelers. God told them to make money. It’s the Protestant branch on the rightward end.

      1. paul

        The rallying call lately, seems to be ‘if U falls, we will all find ourselves ruled by V the dictator’.

        I was wandering around Berlin this week and every institution greeted me with a blue and yellow flag, usually displayed digitally (as they can be reconfigured as quickly as a lapel pin), though there were a few faded ones atop bundesbuildings.

        I saw camps in the tiergarten about housing problems from the extravagant bundestag dome, but little evidence of fervor for the meat grinder.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Lots of viable recruits for the Ukrainian army there but they do not seemed worried about that happening. I heard that major parts of Kiev were off limits to recruiters.

        1. Acacia

          Yeah, how does that work? Bribes?

          I just assumed there was some money laundering in Kyiv but didn’t expect it to be so flagrant.

    2. pjay

      Just in case anyone needed another reason to despise Johnson, I just watched an NBC News segment featuring Iron Mike visiting Columbia University and calling for the resignation of its President – for failing to protect Jewish students. When asked about what he would do about the student protests, he did not hesitate: call out the NYPD and lock ’em up, of course. The fact that this was precisely what the Columbia President did do apparently did not register, or matter – it was a chance to score right-wing brownie points by ripping a total straw-man “liberal” academic. Just as genocide apparently does not matter in Johnson’s conception of “Christianity”.

      We really need such fine Christian leadership to bring us to the Promised Land.

    3. Feral Finster

      It doesn’t matter why Johnson flipped, whether as a result of expediency, recklessness, political calculation, blackmail, bribes or whether he really thinks Jesus told him to smite the heathen.

      His action counts just the same.

      Just as it doesn’t matter whether Obama had a sad before he ordered the drone murder of innocents, whether he cackled in glee at their sufferings or whether he simply took murder as another part of his job. Those innocent people are still just as dead.

      1. John

        How about the need to shovel a ton of money to the MIC so they can “tithe” it back in ‘campaign contributions.’ Or is that too cynical?

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Amfortas, I spent some time with your blog the other day. I very much appreciate your written style, and the thoughts you share. If you have the time, I think it would be worthwhile to write some new posts!

    1. Angie Neer

      Thanks for the chuckle, Hank. I saw 4’33 performed by the Seattle Symphony in 2016. That was audacious programming, with close to 100 musicians on stage, and an audience of 2000, not all of whom were necessarily in the mood for that level of experimentation. I thought it was a brilliant choice within the context of the whole concert (https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/classical-music/seattle-symphony-strikes-somber-note-with-pairing-of-433-my-beautiful-scream), but seriously marred by the fact that they projected a giant count-down timer above the orchestra.

          1. ambrit

            Considering the crowd’s makeup, shouldn’t that be ‘I’phone?
            (Someone recently asked me what my “pronouns” were. I replied; thing/non-thing.)

      1. Milton

        What kind of grade would a student receive if their essay on Cage’s 4’33” was 8 blank pages?

    2. Big River Bandido

      I saw it performed while at Northwestern University by a saxophone quintet. They played it in 3 movements (one of the possible variations). They made a point of tuning beforehand. Around the beginning of movement 3 (apparently it’s common for something to happen in the audience around that point) some guy in the audience fell out of his chair. (As my dad said, “I guess he couldn’t stand the tension”.

  4. lyman alpha blob

    I have it on good authority that the flag used to poke the Israeli protester in the eye was the same one used to beat the Capitol cop to death on 1/6/2021.

    1. paul

      I do not doubt it was the same one that extremists stole from the apollo 13 mission while everyone was so distracted with melodramatic joy that america had created duct tape and hosing that worked, and luckily found a home in the mission critical lacunae of their tiny spaceships.

  5. antidlc

    She’s baaaack.

    If Leana Wen is telling us not to panic, maybe it’s time to panic.

    Why we shouldn’t panic if bird flu becomes the next pandemic

    It’s true that the recent spread of bird flu among dairy cows is an “enormous concern,” as Jeremy Farrar, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, described it last week. While only two people in the United States have contracted this H5N1 strain of the avian flu (one last year and one this month), wider spread could be catastrophic, given that, in past outbreaks, the disease has killed one of every two people who are infected.

    But before anyone panics, let’s take a step back and look at the facts. Health officials have a plan in the event avian flu becomes the next pandemic. In fact, as Dawn O’Connell, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, told me, the federal government is much better prepared to respond to pandemic influenza than it was for covid-19.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > the federal government is much better prepared to respond to pandemic influenza than it was for covid-19

      because the CV pandemic gave them so much practice at “narrative control”?

    2. Feral Finster

      Even if COVID and Avian Flu were the next bubonic plague and smallpox, each wiping out entire communities overnight, we would be told to keep calm and carry on, simply because the Empire really cannot afford another distraction or source of division right now.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        conversely, i reckon that division and distraction is exactly what “They” require at the moment.
        all that pesky truth…and video!..that they cant suppress….

  6. antidlc

    ‘Moral Injury’ Enters Health Care Lexicon

    Psychiatrist Wendy Dean remembers not only the “Eureka moment” but exactly where she was – “I was weeding in my garden” – when a National Public Radio report about the stress faced by U.S. military operators of deadly drones triggered a revelation. That’s when she realized that the emotional exhaustion of so many physician colleagues she spoke with went well beyond “burnout.”

    The resulting article that Dr. Dean and co-author Dr. Simon G. Talbot published in STAT News in July 2018 – headlined “Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering from moral injury” – is still one of that site’s most widely read articles. Their report – arguing that it wasn’t overwork but the inability to balance the best treatment for patients with the economic pressures of modern health care that was stressing out doctors – sparked a conversation and controversy.

  7. Wukchumni

    Wrack bird singing in the dead of night
    Take these H5N1 wings and learn to fly
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    Wrack bird singing in the dead of night
    Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be

    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    Wrack bird singing in the dead of night
    Take these broken eyes and learn to see
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to be

    Blackbird, by the Beatles


  8. 4paul

    Birders call the Woodcock sound “peent”, it’s the loud sound at the end of the recording. The courtship sound is a digital type sound (I haven’t heard that one myself).

  9. Randall Flagg

    >From my reading of the Trump trial so far, it’s sound and fury, with Bragg’s theory of the case looking even weaker

    Does that matter to any jurors with a severe case of TDS?
    According to most of the mainstream media talking heads, everything is his FAULT, and he must be stopped and called to account because, no one is above the law. Democracy must be saved!! Holy Moses, the only dastardly thing Trump hasn’t done yet is kick a baby, and I’m sure they’re trying to find evidence of that…

    1. Feral Finster

      Holmes, with all due respect, if Donald Trump were to discover a cure for cancer using this one weird old trick, we’d only hear about all the doctors he put out of work.

  10. Camelotkidd

    “‘Just understand that Joe Biden is fighting for peace in the Middle East, is fighting to end the hostilities between Israel and Gaza, and make sure that we’re providing humanitarian aid there,’ he said. When you think about the protests, it’s Joe Biden that’s standing for peace, and a lasting peace at that…”
    Yeah, and Santa and the Easter Bunny are real.
    Jeebus, that sort of “family blogging” makes my head hurt.
    Wonder if he really believes it?

    1. Christopher Smith

      Every time a Democrat says something like this, I better understand my friends who voted for Trump in 2016 purely to give the middle finger to the establishment.

  11. LawnDart

    The Beezle?

    Flying taxis, flying cars, EVs/NEVs… a short guide to eVTOLs and drones as being incorporated into China’s “Low-Altitude Economy.”

    Scams abound in this industry, for sure. However, there is massive momentum behind the changes underway in China’s economy, transportation and logistics systems– we’re talking regulatory-support, heavy-investment, tons of governmental-backing, all in an effort to secure China’s future as an world leader in these technologies.

    Between here and there, before these techs become commonplace, people (including US taxpayers) are going to be screwed out of billions of $$$ tossed at companies that promise to deliever, but that actually will never produce a commercially-viable product… this is already happening.

    But the “Low-Altitude Economy” is already a real thing in China, and only in its infancy.

    (5-minute video)


    1. Neutrino

      Looking to crowd-fund my new idea.
      My SPAC will rent tokens for experience of randomized, or curated, at user choice, 4’33” of inputs.
      Surge pricing may apply.

      Too soon? /s

    1. cfraenkel

      I love this!:
      Q: pick a random number between 1 and 100
      A: 42
      That just says it all….

    2. R.S.

      Thank you for the link.

      LLMs are just a peculiar form of lossy compression applied to very large corpora of texts. We humans intuitively assume that “reality” (in the broadest sense) exists; that “words” relate to some parts of “reality”; and that “words” may be more or less true depending on whether they describe “reality”. But an LLM with its data is basically self-contained, it knows precisely nothing about any “reality”. In this sense, it can’t even be “wrong”.

      1. paul

        Which is why the ruling class can fall in love with it.

        Narcissus intoxicated by a reflection.

        A world with nothing but their selves.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Great point. I never considered it as similar to data compression. But it is a lossy statistical reduction of the data.

        1. R.S.

          Yes, that’s why the analogy. I’d say the patterns and dependencies LLMs are able to extract from the data are quite interesting. It’s pure grammar, the stuff of language itself.

          The problem as I see it is this. LLMs “know” languages, that is they can manipulate verbal data following (more or less) the rules of languages, and native speakers perceive their output as texts in natural languages. But LLMs lack external semantics, the link (references) between words and actual objects, processes, actions etc.

          I’d say that every word (part of a word, position in a sentence, etc) for an LLM is a gostak (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gostak). It’s not that LLMs lie or hallucinate or whatever, it’s just a giant self-contained mesh of nonces that don’t have any meaning outside of their links to other nonces.

  12. Mark Gisleson

    I confess that I’ve been skimming the poll data if not skipping it entirely. Spring is usually a great time for assessing Fall prospects but not this year.

    The anti-Trump lawfare is being exposed and should start blowing up shortly along with whatever it takes to jolt Americans into an awareness that they were lied to about Russiagate, Hunter’s laptop, vaccines, Trump’s crimes, Biden’s lawlessness, DOJ/FBI top>down corruption, etc., etc. Any one of these could blow up the election (standard caveat: assuming we have elections).

    I believe we will eventually learn that US elections have been overtly rigged since the introduction of electronic voting machines and tabulators, that this was driven by neocons in the Republican party who then switched parties to keep outsider Trump from blowing up their sweet game in which they grifted millions so that truly evil folks could make billions supplying the wars bought with campaign donations.

    After a lot of hard thought I believe the most revolutionary vote this cycle might be one for RFK Jr. Very flawed, very wrong on some stuff (¡ISRAEL!) but most likely to rattle the CIA’s interrogation cages. If I had to dumb our current mess down to one fix it would be the dismantling of the military-industrial complex. Biden won’t do it, Trump won’t do it, other candidates might try but only RFK Jr. looks sufficiently motivated. Also, I suspect he’s got files on his dad’s and uncle’s assassinations that would make whatever they showed Speaker Johnson look like softcore Netflix outtakes.

    Not an endorsement, just a declaration that at the moment I’m leaning in RFK Jr’s direction.

    1. Pat

      I’m not leaning that way, but I have to admit if it looks like he can make his presence known here with over 15% of the vote I might just go for it. Helping to make third party votes a viable option for voters is worth an only a somewhat the lesser evil vote. That is if he makes it past the guard dogs and onto the ballot here.

    2. Screwball

      The anti-Trump lawfare is being exposed and should start blowing up shortly along with whatever it takes to jolt Americans into an awareness that they were lied to about Russiagate, Hunter’s laptop, vaccines, Trump’s crimes, Biden’s lawlessness, DOJ/FBI top>down corruption, etc., etc.

      I wish I had your optimism. I think the gaslighting will intensify (that’s something in and of itself) and many American’s are so locked into their information bubble they will never admit they were misled or wrong, along with never knowing the real truth anyway.

      For example; I read Johnson had a meeting with Trump who approved the bill to fund the Ukraine war, echoed by warmonger Lindsey Graham. Yet, many cannot connect the dots that if Trump was truly a Putin puppet – that wouldn’t happen. They even go as far as highlighting the X amount of Kremlin operatives who voted against the bill. Even a NY Post headline of Moscow Marge.

      We are so screwed. I’m glad I’m old.

      1. Feral Finster

        Of course. And it won’t matter what Trump does. He’ll still be labeled a Putin puppet.

        Trump could push The Button and the Team D Cult would insist that Putin told him to and besides, Biden would have pushed it sooner and better.

        1. Screwball

          Yes. This is how bad it really is.

          I’m 67 years old and I can’t believe what I see today.

  13. cfraenkel

    The Man Who Killed Google Search
    I do love me a good screed as much as anyone, but if you’re looking for a more balanced view, the HN thread has people commenting yea and nay: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40133976

    Can’t we just nationalize Google, fire the top management, roll the code base back to, say, 2009, and start over?
    Would be nice, yep, but wouldn’t work, since many (most?) of the links from back then are now dead, and the surviving sites have mostly been polluted with SEO corruption. More specifically, the concept of using the link graph to judge relevance (ie ‘rank’) won’t work, largely because Google killed it to fight spam (rel=nofollow) and the SEO people buried the useful data with linkfarm noise.

    1. Acacia

      Dead links? I thought(?) Lambert’s idea was to roll the algos back (i.e., “code base”), not the data.

      And I question the extent of “mostly”. There are plenty of sites not corrupted by SEO, e.g., I don’t find any linkfarm BS here at NC or most of the other sites I visit for news and information.

      1. paul

        At least 1/4 of daily links have a sceptical/latent wtf? about them.

        They are indicated to identify disease and inform readers of the madness they have no control of.

        It’s all about knowing your enemy.

      2. Jason Boxman

        The problem is spammers have evolved. Old Google search wouldn’t be able to fight it as it stands today. It really relies on a web that’s not overrun with degenerates. Advertising destroyed the web. People game search anyway they can for a payday.

    2. fjallstrom

      I think it is very clear from the cited emails that this was an intentional prioritisation of increased use over functionality. Growth at all costs, even at the cost of the product. Even at the large and profitable companies it is growth at all cost. Grow into profits has met grow out of profits.

      And somebody leaked those emails, so there is the equivalent of John Barnett. But the leaker has no government agency to report them to, because it isn’t illegal to make crappy search products, unlike crappy planes.

      It can’t be rolled back to 2009, but it could probably be rolled back to 2019 if Ben Gomes was put in charge of it again. Probably needs to be nationalised first.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Can anybody find a decent well-attested video of the Israeli protester allegedly being poked in the eye by a flag? Big flag with a pole? Small, hand-flag? Thanks@

    Ok, seriously this time, just saw the video of it here at about the 7:00 mark – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM1SPHTsdyY

    You were right with guess #2 – small hand flag, looks like the person might have been hit with the cloth part, and sure seems completely accidental. A gnat would have easily survived that drubbing.

  15. pjay

    I’ve been pretty disgusted with Naomi Klein’s TDS and liberal obliviousness in recent years. But this Passover condemnation of Zionism is good – and in the Guardian, no less:

    “We don’t need or want the false idol of Zionism. We want freedom from the project that commits genocide in our name. Freedom from an ideology that has no plan for peace other than deals with murderous theocratic petrostates next door, while selling the technologies of robo-assassinations to the world…”

    “And it’s not just Netanyahu, it’s the world he made and that made him – it’s Zionism.”

    “What are we? We, in these streets for months and months, are the exodus. The exodus from Zionism.”

    “And to the Chuck Schumers of this world, we do not say: “Let our people go.”

    “We say: “We have already gone. And your kids? They’re with us now.”


  16. Jason Boxman

    Bird Flu Outbreak in Cattle May Have Begun Months Earlier Than Thought (NY Times via archive.ph)

    LOL. Sure.

    A single spillover, from a bird to a cow, led to the infections, a review of genetic data has found.

    So therefore it is spreading cow-to-cow. Great.

    The bird flu outbreak in American dairy cattle may have begun in January, or even as early as December, a new analysis of genetic data suggests.
    The Department of Agriculture announced in late March that dairy cattle in Texas and Kansas had tested positive for the virus, called H5N1. It has since reported cases in dozens of herds in eight states.
    On Tuesday, federal health officials said they had discovered fragments of H5N1 in milk samples obtained at various sites across the nation. The fragments pose no threat to consumers, the officials said.


    But the Department of Agriculture has released little information on other aspects of the outbreak, including how long cows remain ill and how long it takes them to clear the virus from their bodies, said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, director of the Boston University Center on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    What makes you think cows clear it? Some not insignificant portion of people don’t clear SARS2, it seems, so far. It’s not impossible that cows can’t clear this virus. Then what?

  17. Big River Bandido

    As a musician, composer and longtime professor at a top-flight international music school, I truly want to bang my head on the wall at the profound ignorance John McWhorter puts on display in the New York Times (natch).

    Dude probably shouldn’t quit his day gig.

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