2:00PM Water Cooler 4/4/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren, Kingston Canyon Rd., Lander, Nevada, United States.

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Look for the Helpers

Not merely because of their masks:

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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).

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

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Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, March 29

I think I’ll leave this up until this coming Friday, so I can at least mumble something about trends. Nationally, Trump is up 2.4% in the Five-Way, same as last week, give or take. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here). I’ve highlighted PA, (1) because Trump is actually down there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there?

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Trump (R): “Why have Trump’s bond documents been rejected – and what does this mean for his legal troubles?” [Independent]. “Documents for Donald Trump’s $175m bond in his New York civil fraud case have been rejected and ‘returned for correction’ to the former president due to missing financial information. A docket appeared on the New York County Supreme Court website on Wednesday, detailing that a ‘Bond/Undertaking’ had been ‘returned for correction.’ The court said that the reason for the rejection was that some of the documentation filed on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate failed to include a current financial statement, power of attorney or list an attorney-in-fact… Mr Trump will now have an opportunity to resubmit the documents with the proper information in order for his bond to be accepted. This means the former president being forced to share his recent financial records.” And on the calendar: “What the $175m bond really buys the candidate is time – several months in fact, as his appeal against the fraud judgement will not take place until September at the earliest, when the court’s autumn term commences. That, however, does bring the matter uncomfortably close to Election Day on 5 November – a period when many of the candidate’s other legal entanglements likewise threaten to come to a head.” • Accident? Or for a purpose greater than trolling?

Trump (R): “As general election heats up, Trump camp prepares to be frozen in court” [Semafor]. “One of the complications the campaign will have to sort through is scheduling. Up until now, Trump has only been seated in court for a few days at a time — and oftentimes, it’s been of his own volition, with the campaign seeing his presence as a way to merge the legal and campaign battles while heightening Trump’s claims of political persecution for Republican primary voters. Now, though, team Trump is readying for their candidate to be required in court multiple days a week, for weeks at a time, which will make organizing consistent campaign events that much harder. ‘This is just the progression of where the campaign season is headed into,’ one aide said. ‘Certainly, he’ll have to be in court quite a few days out of the week, and that’s never an ideal thing. We would never wish to be in that position, of course.’ But his team still believes there’s ‘ample opportunity’ to work around these limitations: Based on the judge’s public schedule, they believe Trump, who is likely to camp out at Trump Tower during trial days, will have Wednesdays off, meaning the former president could participate in campaign-related events that day or on Tuesday evenings. The campaign also noted that they’ll have weekends to work with — and left open the possibility of doing mini-trips to neighboring states on court days, too.” • Trump could conduct a “front porch campaign” from the steps for Trump Tower!

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Biden (D): “Joe Biden can’t get out of the hole he’s already dug for himself” [New York Post]. “But you’d much rather be where Trump is in the polls right now than where Biden is. Trump was never in this strong a position at any point in the 2016 or 2020 elections. At this stage in 2020, Biden was up 4 points in Michigan, 3 in Wisconsin and North Carolina and 2 in Pennsylvania. At this point in 2016, Hillary Clinton was up 10 in Michigan and Wisconsin, 9 in Pennsylvania and 2 in North Carolina — and she lost all four states.” And: “Yet Biden refuses to change course or change his message: The economy is good, Trump is a threat to democracy, and abortion, abortion, abortion. Those campaign tactics helped Democrats avoid what should have been a much worse loss in 2022, but they still lost the national popular vote in House races [they did] — and a repeat of that showing would mean President Trump: The Sequel. But don’t expect an old dog to learn new tricks.” • Just so long as he doesn’t bite anybody!

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Kennedy (I): “How Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Could Doom Joe Biden” [Politico]. “But his campaign and an allied super PAC, American Values 2024, announced in the last month they have collected more than enough signatures to make the ballot in the critical Southwestern battlegrounds of Arizona and Nevada, where roughly one in five voters are Latino. Those signatures are still subject to challenge, but if Kennedy does appear on the ballot, it could create dire complications for the Biden campaign. Latino Democrats are now taking the threat of Kennedy’s campaign deadly seriously after national and state leaders were briefed on a previously unreported poll in mid-February by Democratic group Equis Research, which showed Kennedy performing surprisingly well among Latino voters in a dozen battleground states, effectively splintering Biden’s Hispanic coalition from 2020, when he garnered 59 percent Hispanic support. Kennedy’s popularity appears to be a function of name recognition and a general lack of enthusiasm for President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, not to mention voters brushing their views onto the somewhat empty canvas of his candidacy. The poll of 2,010 registered Latino voters found Kennedy winning one in five young Latino voters, and also reported him capturing a sizable 17 percent Latino support in Arizona and an even more robust 21 percent in Nevada— the highest number among the battleground states polled. The drag on Biden’s Latino support was so great in the survey that Trump was winning among Hispanics overall in 12 battleground states, 41 percent to Biden’s 34 percent.” • Yikes!

Kennedy (I): “Column: Trump’s vice presidential show and Kennedy’s kamikaze mission” [Los Angeles Times]. On Kennedy’s chances of winning: “I would say slim to none — but slim was last seen paddling as far and fast as possible away from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. (Much of Kennedy’s family fervently oppose his bid and support Biden’s reelection.) So I would venture to say there is absolutely no chance.” Who gains and who loses with Kennedy running: “That’s unclear. His platform — a farrago of liberal and conservative views mashed up with a mess of conspiracy-laden pottage, isn’t easily categorized. He could appeal to both disaffected Democrats and Republicans.” • In the “change vs. more of the same” framework, however, Kennedy is definitely in “change,” as is Trump. And Biden is in “more of the same” (“fundamentally nothing would change“).

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Kennedy (I): “The ‘Traditional Organizing’ Election?” [Campaigns & Elections]. “Sdd another voice to the “field will be crucial in 2024″ discussion: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The independent presidential candidate told CNN this week that his campaign has deployed some 200,000 volunteers to help him gain ballot access in all 50 states. ‘We have a very, very good volunteer army out there,’ he said. ‘We already have the biggest field operation of any campaign. We are going to have no problem getting on the ballot in every state.'” Maybe. More: “Currently, the candidate is only confirmed to be on the ballot in Utah, and while his campaign claims to have the needed signatures for ballot access in North Carolina (and a handful of other states) ballot access for Kennedy remains a very uphill battle. While Kennedy was talking up the strength of his own operation, consultants have also been calling for investment in field organizing, and talking up how necessary it will be for campaigns to boost spending on organizing programs this cycle…. ‘It’s 67,000 votes,’ [Jeff Roe, founder of Axiom Strategies, recently told C&E] said, referencing the difference between Hillary Clinton and President Trump’s vote totals in deciding states in 2016. ‘The investment in those six, maybe seven states on the ground motivating people to vote for their party preference is going to be the whole game.’ Part of the reason why that investment is so crucial is because of how hard it is to thread the needle to reach the right people with an effective TV ad. ‘You have 18 percent of the population that doesn’t watch video, that don’t have any TV in their house,’ he said. ‘And then you have streaming, which just passed linear TV last year — and half of that is not ad supported.'” • That statistic on video and TV watching is the most encouraging number I’ve seen in some time.

Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not just a ‘spoiler candidate'” [The Berkshire Edge]. Letter to the Editor from Kennedy’s Berkshire County campaign coordinator. “Team Kennedy has over 12,000 volunteers and supporters already registered in Massachusetts. And the effort to get the 10,000-plus signatures to get RFK Jr. on the ballot—so that Americans have their democratically protected choices—will be beginning shortly. Anyone interested in volunteering or just learning more about the policies and platform of the Kennedy-Shanahan Ticket can visit kennedy24.com.” • Good staffwork. Here is the ballot access page for Kennedy’s site; I clicked on “Massachusetts” to double-check the 10,000 figure:

Looks informative and professional. Also, July 30 is very far away if Kennedy has the money and catches fire with volunteers; very close if he does not.

NC: Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. is officially joining the NC ballot” [CarolinaCoastOnline]. “The newly formed We The People political party gathered more than 23,000 signatures, far above the requirement to gain ballot access, with over a month to spare and a 60% buffer to protect against invalid signatures. The NC State Board of Elections has yet to verify the signatures.” • And I’m sure there’s an army of lawyers protecting “our democracy” by disputing those signatures even as we speak. (Also, the 60% margin seems fair, meaning that the 10,000 figure for MA is really 16,000.)

NC: Kennedy (I): “How North Carolina’s presidential election changes if RFK Jr. is on the ballot” [Charlotte Observer]. “Still, Kennedy’s presence on the ballot could have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election, especially in a swing state like North Carolina. While Trump carried North Carolina in the 2020 election, it was his lowest margin of victory in any state. He won it by only a 1.34% margin, and it was the only state in which he won with less than 50% of the vote.

Anticipating yet another close race in 2024, both the Biden and Trump campaigns are making North Carolina a priority. It wouldn’t take much to seal the outcome in either candidate’s favor — and a third-party candidate who could gather even just 2% of the vote could influence whether North Carolina is blue or red in November.” And: “Most polls currently show Trump with a lead over Biden in North Carolina, and that lead grows when third-party candidates like Kennedy are included on the ballot, poll averages show. A new Wall Street Journal poll published this week showed Trump with a six-point lead in North Carolina on a test ballot that includes third-party and independent candidates.”

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Kennedy (I): “Terrified Parents, New Age Health Nuts, MAGA Exiles. Meet the R.F.K. Jr. Faithful.” [Michelle Goldberg, New York Times]. “[O]n the ground, I haven’t met many Kennedy-curious voters for whom Biden is a second choice. Instead, Kennedy attracts many of the same sort of alienated political eccentrics who in the past have gravitated to Trump. ‘They keep saying that he’s pulling from Biden, but most of our people are actually coming from the right,’ said Leigh Merinoff, volunteer chair of the finance committee of American Values. Anecdotes aren’t the same thing as data, and people who go to rallies and volunteer for campaigns aren’t necessarily representative of the electorate, which is full of people who are much more disengaged. Nevertheless, there’s a gap between both Democratic and Republican assumptions about Kennedy’s appeal and the character of his real-life movement. He’s much more of a wild card than left-wing third-party candidates like Stein and Cornel West. There’s something distinctly Trumpy in his campaign’s mix of New Age individualism, social media-fueled paranoia and intense, aching nostalgia for the optimistic America of the early 1960s, when Kennedy’s uncle John F. Kennedy was president and his father, Robert F. Kennedy, served as attorney general. It’s not surprising that some otherwise Trump-leaning voters are picking up on it.” • So, Kennedy voters are deplorables too?! (As for as

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Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate and the vaccine wars” [Glenn Kessler, WaPo]. Four Pinocchios: “Shanahan does not quite say that vaccines cause autism, but she implies it, demanding a study that is not feasible because it would be unethical. She cites numbers that claim that autism has spiked, without acknowledging the main reason is because the definition of autism has been greatly expanded. This is textbook anti-vaccine rhetoric. The overall effect is to cast doubt on the safety of vaccines. She earns Four Pinocchios.” • I so, so don’t want to get involved in that discourse; there seems to be a distinct lack of good faith participants, and don’t @ me.

Kennedy (I): That’s the stuff to give the troops:

If Moms are for us, who can be against us?

Kennedy (I): Shanahan on policy:

Sounds good “at a high level,” as we say, but there are two problems beyond the Silicon Valley triumphalism: (1) We don’t really have health records databases; we have databases categorizing putative health treatments in medical facilities for payment purposes, contaminated by upcoding, and (2) AI = BS (though I grant some pattern recognition applications aren’t as pernicious as the ChatGPT branch of the field).

Kennedy (I): “How Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s VP Pick, Got So Rich” [Forbes]. “Shanahan’s wealth comes from her previous marriage to Sergey Brin, the Google cofounder whose net worth Forbes estimates at more than $120 billion—enough to rank him as the tenth richest person in the world.” And: “Divorce records are not clear on how much Shanahan walked away with, and neither she nor Brin responded to requests for comment, but Brin’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission offer revealing information. The documents show a decrease in his Class B shares of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) totaling some 2.6 million shares sometime between May and December 2023. During that period, he did not report any share sales or gifts, which would normally be required for Brin, an Alphabet director who owns more than 5% of the company’s shares. In all likelihood, those shares, worth about $390 million at current prices, went to Shanahan: Transfers due to divorce do not need to be disclosed immediately in insider transaction filings, according to four experts contacted by Forbes.” And but: “Assuming that Brin’s SEC filings show a transfer to Shanahan, she didn’t get close to $1 billion in Class B shares. However, Brin has historically executed parallel transactions for his Alphabet Class C shares—which do not appear in annual ownership filings because they do not have voting rights—selling or gifting similar numbers of Class B and Class C shares at similar times. If he followed his usual pattern and also transferred approximately 2.6 million Class C shares to Shanahan, then taken together, those 5.2 million shares would be worth just under $800 million today. Add in any other assets she may have gotten in the split, like homes they lived in together or some cash from Brin’s $900 million in Alphabet shares he sold during their marriage, and that could put her closer to the $1 billion she wanted. But even if Shanahan only got the Class B shares, a fortune of around $400 million would still make her the wealthiest vice presidential pick in decades—likely since Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford’s VP. The fat fortune would also give her plenty of liquidity to jump-start a longshot presidential bid.” • The essential point.

Kennedy (I): “Tulsi Gabbard turned down RFK Jr.’s offer to be his running mate, she says” [ABC]. “Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who left the Democratic Party in 2022, declined an offer to be Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate in his independent presidential bid, she tells ABC News. ‘I met with Kennedy several times, and we have become good friends,’ she said in a statement. ‘He asked if I would be his running mate. After careful consideration, I respectfully declined.'”

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PA: “F&M Poll: Pennsylvania Moving in More Positive Direction” [Politics PA]. “The good news for President Joe Biden comes in the form of a two-horse race against former President Donald Trump. After landing within the margin of error against the 45th president in February, the 46th president has more than doubled the 4.0% margin of error (MOE) in this survey with a 48-38% percent advantage.” However: “When two other options were presented to the respondents in the form of Jill Stein (Green) and Robert Kennedy Jr. (Independent), the race moved within the MOE with Biden at 42% and Trump at 40%. Kennedy (9%) and Stein (3%) seemed to take more support from Biden, who was at 42-37% with the same question in February.”


“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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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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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 1: Regional[2] Biobot April 1:
Variants[3] CDC March 30 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 4: National [6] CDC March 23:
National[7] Walgreens April 1: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 30:

Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 11: Variants[10] CDC March 11:
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 the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Backward revisions, I hate them.

[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) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down. “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

[7] (Walgreens) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening.

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

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

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US surged by 11,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised value to 221,000 on the period ending March 30th, the most in two months, and well above market expectations of 214,000. The result suggested a departure from an extended period of low initial claim counts and contrasted against other strong labor reports released this week, suggesting that tightness in the US labor market may be absorbing the delayed impact of elevated interest rates.”

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Manufacturing: “Sen. Tammy Duckworth calls for FAA review of Boeing’s failure to disclose 737 Max flight deck features to pilots” [CBS]. “Senator Tammy Duckworth is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to take a closer look at how it responds to what she says is a pattern by Boeing of failing to disclose flight deck features of the 737 Max to pilots, according to a letter to be sent Thursday and obtained exclusively by CBS News. Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate’s Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation Subcommittee, is calling on FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker to investigate why Alaska Airlines pilots were unaware the plane’s cockpit door was designed to automatically open during a rapid depressurization — which is exactly what occurred on flight AS1282 when a door panel on a Boeing 737 Max 9 blew out mid-flight in early January. ‘Boeing’s failure to disclose this feature is chilling given its history of concealing 737 MAX information from pilots,’ Duckworth writes. National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters following a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on January 17 that the flight crew should have been told about the feature. ‘Nobody knew about it. So it was a complete surprise. And the flight crew needs to know,’ she said, adding, ‘knowing this could occur is pretty key to safety.'” • Meanwhile, the universal blackout of John Barnett’s assassination continues. How long does it take to write up a police report? Or will we ever get one?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 4 at 1:57:59 PM ET.

News of the Wired

“1,2,3,4,5” [The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences“] “‘God made the integers; all else is the work of man.’ This famous quotation is a translation of ‘Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk,’ spoken by Leopold Kronecker in a lecture at the Berliner Naturforscher-Versammlung in 1886. Possibly the first publication of the statement is in Heinrich Weber’s ‘Leopold Kronecker,’ Jahresberichte D.M.V. 2 (1893) 5-31.” • I’m amazed that there is such a thing. It certainly passes the random opening test!

“Our tools shape our selves” [Aeon]. “According to [French philosopher Bernard Stiegler], technics – the making and use of technology, in the broadest sense – is what makes us human. Our unique way of existing in the world, as distinct from other species, is defined by the experiences and knowledge our tools make possible, whether that is a state-of-the-art brain-computer interface such as Neuralink, or a prehistoric flint axe used to clear a forest. But don’t be mistaken: ‘technics’ is not simply another word for ‘technology’. As Martin Heidegger wrote in his essay ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (1954), which used the German term Technik instead of Technologie in the original title: the ‘essence of technology is by no means anything technological.’ This aligns with the history of the word: the etymology of ‘technics’ leads us back to something like the ancient Greek term for art – technē. The essence of technology, then, is not found in a device, such as the one you are using to read this essay. It is an open-ended creative process, a relationship with our tools and the world. This is Stiegler’s legacy. Throughout his life, he took this idea of technics, first explored while he was imprisoned for armed robbery [whoa!], further than anyone else.” And: “In the late 20th century, Stiegler began applying this idea to new media technologies, such as television, which led to the development of a concept he called pharmacology – an idea that suggests we don’t simply ‘use’ our digital tools. Instead, they enter and pharmacologically change us, like medicinal drugs.” • Hmm.

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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. Dr. John Carpenter

    Boy, they’re really priming the blame cannons hard for “RFK Jr. cost Biden the election”. I honestly thought they were just going to shut him out and then ignore him, but that doesn’t seem to be working so well. Mind you, I don’t think he’s that much better than the other two. It’s just interesting to see the attempts to marginalize and keep him off the ballot are going according to plan.

    1. Screwball

      I don’t think we can imagine what “they” will do between now and November. Nothing would surprise me. Nothing.

      1. griffen

        My recall could be a bit hazy but in 2004, wasn’t it Secretary Ridge who would trot the Code Orange elevated alert at certain intervals that late summer and into fall? We’ll get used to one team spouting “muh Democracy!” Every chance that they can do so.

        President Biden…”Code orange code orange. Wait that’s the Tang flavor I used to drink with old Neil when we visited the moon?”. \sarc

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > My recall could be a bit hazy but in 2004, wasn’t it Secretary Ridge who would trot the Code Orange elevated alert at certain intervals that late summer and into fall?

          Yes indeed. I have a vague recollection that there was one alert that Laura Bush would be attacked, immediately before the Republican National Convention. I mean, come on. There were others, it was laughable.

          1. griffen

            We shouldn’t encourage…for we know by example what someone like Hillary Clinton might desire which is to do some modular updates and reprogramming on certain Trump supporters…

    2. Emma

      When you’re competing with Trump and Biden, really any publicity is good publicity. It’s nearly impossible to LOOK as bad as they ARE.

      1. Belle

        I view RFK as responsible for quite a few deaths due to his opposition to vaccines… Which, while it prevents me from voting for him, is not as bad as Donald Trump (COVID neglect, police brutality, bombing Syria based on lies, assassinating Quassem Soleimani and Michael Reinoehl) or Joe Biden (COVID neglect, police brutality, Iraq War, arming Ukraine and Israel)!
        I consider him evil, but compared to Trump and Biden, he’s certainly a lesser evil. I am glad Jill Stein and Cornel West are on the ballot here, as I do not consider them evil.

        1. Phenix

          Are you referring the Covid vaccines that are not vaccines? mRNA treatments were a mass experiment that has killed and will kill and untold number of people. The message causes healthy cells to produce foreign proteins (spike protein) that are then destroyed by the immune system. If that message goes to the heart the the damage is permanent and the recipients life is shortened.

          If you are referring to traditional vaccines, then his advocacy is about conducting safety studies. People are free to make their own decisions.

          1. chris

            Roughly speaking, RFK Jr. makes up about half of the things he says about science and papers and such. You can go to the things he cites and what he claims is in there, isn’t. It’s a shame he’s the only one asking questions about a lot of what we’re doing. It’s also a shame he is such a diehard Israel hawk.

            As for whether the mRNA vaccines are vaccines, they are absolutely vaccines. They are unfortunately not sterilizing vaccines. So for a lot of people they’re insufficient. And certainly they’re incapable of providing the desired level of security for people to go about without masks.

      1. alfred venison

        I thought so, but then I could, and did, read it as sarcasm, dry sarcasm, stirred not shaken.
        -chin-chin, a.v.

    3. Lefty Godot

      I’ve already been hearing the “anything but a vote for Biden is a vote for Trump” meme from my ex. Trump worries me less than a Republican Congress with a big majority, which I think is a very strong possibility given the looming repudiation of all things Biden. But even with Biden re-elected it would be bad, because of course he would revert to “bipartisan” Obama tactics to continue gutting social programs (or privatizing them). Yes, Trump will not initiate, but he will go along with, killing the EPA and the NLRB, weakening the IRS and the Post Office, and doing the usual cuts to Medicaid and SNAP; Congress will take the lead. Not much I can do about Congress though, so I doubt my Stein vote has any effect on anything.

      And, yes, “alienated political eccentrics” is slightly more polite than “deplorables”. But not by much.

      Tulsi turned RFKjr down, so she must be seriously hoping for an offer from The Donald.

      1. IMOR

        I would guess that a second Biden term plus both houses in GOP hands is the desired uniparty / PMC / permanent state outcome. That such outcome isn’t clearly on the way speaks to a degradation of its competence since 1987-93, 1997-01, 2007-09 etc.

    4. Benny Profane

      Yeah, read the comments in the NYT article. It’s Nadar, Nadar, Nadar, much like Putin, Putin, Putin for Trump.

      Meanwhile, there are actually movements out there to vote for nobody above in Dem primaries. Nobody liked Hillary, they still don’t, but there was no Dem voter drive to actually punish her.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Let’s see if all these brave primary protesters stay home for the general, too. My guess is the older cohort at least will still consider GenocideJoe the lesser of two evils v. Orange Man Bad and turn out to vote accordingly.

        It may turn out though that the kids are alright if the recent articles about young people of all ethnic backgrounds bolting from the Democrats are to be believed.

        As for that older cohort, I was recently a fly on the wall for a conversation between a bunch of them, all in their 60s-70s and about as PMC as you can get, including one high ranking government official. They all wanted Trump defeated and appeared dismayed by the possibility he won’t be. I also learned that certain US officials take overseas trips to to collect campaign donations, supposedly only from US citizen expats though (I don’t believe that for a second, given the propensity for bundling donations), something I was not aware of previously. Apparently the French and Germans are extremely concerned about the possibility the US won’t keep funding Ukraine.

        1. John

          When did being a “gerontocrat” become the de rigeur qualification to run for president? Cornel West is the youngest of the five most mentioned candidates and he is 70 as is Kennedy. Of course, Stein, West, and Kennedy are youngsters compared to DJT and JRB. All of them lack the rich pre-presidential experience An Eisenhower or FDR or TR and the oldest of those three was Eisenhower who was IIRC, 61. In 1960 we had two candidates who were in their 40s.

          I am in that “older cohort.” I do not consider Biden the lesser evil. His is the most disastrous presidency of my lifetime. I do not consider Trump a viable choice as an individual and even less desirable for the persons around him, the prospective policy direction he would take, and the freight of his revenge fantasies.

          How has the US sunk to this depth?

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > shut him out and then ignore him

      Weirdly, the Daily Mail story on Shanahan’s 27-day marriage hasn’t hopped the Atlantic. Maybe the Biden campaign needs to send out a memo not to suppress all the Kennedy stories, just the favorable ones.

    6. notabanker

      I was just talking to a close family member, senior citizen HRC democrat, that hates Biden, doesn’t agree with any of his policies, thinks the wars are shameful, but would rather vote for Satan himself than Trump. RFK is going to wind up appealing to a lot of people, and I think that will be a much larger crowd on the Biden side than Trump, especially those late 60’s Kennedy Dems.

  2. Jason Boxman

    But his team still believes there’s ‘ample opportunity’ to work around these limitations: Based on the judge’s public schedule, they believe Trump, who is likely to camp out at Trump Tower during trial days, will have Wednesdays off, meaning the former president could participate in campaign-related events that day or on Tuesday evenings. The campaign also noted that they’ll have weekends to work with — and left open the possibility of doing mini-trips to neighboring states on court days, too.

    It’s also a consideration that the goal of lawfare isn’t just to pin Trump in place, but to physically exhaust him; if such an intense schedule results in his death, I imagine so much the better goes liberal Democrat thinking. Quite a vicious system.

  3. Jason Boxman

    I opened a new bank account today in person with my P100 on. The banking associate didn’t miss a beat. I find no one ever treats me any differently than before, regardless of what they might think. We had a pleasant enough conversation about local restaurants, the construction in the area that just started, I mentioned that in other countries, filing for taxes isn’t insane, and learned that young people today can’t write checks or fill out deposit slips. Fun times.

    1. Screwball

      and learned that young people today can’t write checks or fill out deposit slips. Fun times.

      I was 17 years old, in high school, and went through the oil embargo of 1973 working in a gas station where we had to ration gas (bunch of unhappy campers) armed with a mechanical coin changer that hooked on my belt and a shirt pocket full of bills to make change.

      As you say… Progress. :-(

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe when the Russians take the Ukraine, they can cut off Galicia, hand it to the west , and tell them there is your new Ukraine so that it can become part of NATO

    2. Alan Sutton

      Incredible isn’t it?

      Blinken sacks Nuland for, plausibly, greenlighting the Moscow terrorist attack while she was in Ukraine last month and you think…. Phew, maybe the doves are fighting back in Washington. And then this?

      Is it just that all the escalation needs to be hidden until after the election? Then, wham! Let’s go even harder!

  4. Enter Laughing

    RE: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate and the vaccine wars

    I get that for many it’s pile-on time for RFK Jr., but The Washington Post article is a dishonest bit of character assassination on Shanahan, Kennedy’s newly announced running mate.

    When author Glenn Kessler writes:

    The Facts
    Here are Shanahan’s full comments about autism from her news conference:
    Because it has been so personal for me and my daughter, I got deep into the research and consulted some of the best scientists and doctors. Let me tell you what I found. There are three main causes.

    Shanahan goes on to talk about 1) toxic substances in our environment 2) electromagnetic pollution and 3) Pharmaceuticals.

    But here’s the problem. She never said that these were the three main causes of autism. That is a complete lie. Let me repeat — Kessler is lying. Shanahan is clearly talking about chronic disease in this passage. She explicitly says she is referring to chronic diseases two times before uttering the words that Kessler quoted in the article. Specifically, she said:

    One of those issues also happens to be a passion of mine and a focus of my philanthropic work, chronic disease. I got into it through my own journey of reproductive health, followed by a steep learning curve for caring for my daughter who has an autism diagnosis. In that journey, I discovered that women’s fertility is in precipitous decline around the world. We are facing a crisis in reproductive health that is embedded in the larger epidemic of chronic disease. Because it has been so personal for me and my daughter, I got deep into the research and consulted some of the best scientists and doctors. Let me tell you what I found. There are three main causes.

    I am beyond fed up with B.S. articles like this by dishonest hacks like Kessler. F him and the democracy dies in darkness he rode in on.

  5. lyman alpha blob

    Listening to the Duran today, and Mercouris’ theory about Barry O’s recent surprise visit to 10 Downing was that he was trying to elicit the UK’s help in catapulting the anti-Trump propaganda. Coincidentally, someone forwarded this to me earlier today – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-68716467

    The person discussed sounds like a true psycho, but do note the picture chosen for the article. And don’t read much of the article if you do retain some faith in humanity that you’d like to hold on to.

  6. digi_owl

    If our digital “tools” have changed us, it is perhaps down to learned helplessness. Tablets and phones, never mind Chromebooks (and increasingly laptops and desktops running both MacOS and Windows), are locked down to the point that “kids” are not even familiar with the concept of a file any more. They are not meant to be “tools” in their own right, they are just access points to the “tools” residing on company servers, the euphemistic cloud. The company is mother, the company is father, trust the company…

    1. The Rev Kev

      There was an article on NC a coupla years ago where new college kids had to be educated on how to use an operating system and how to set up folders and files. Lots of those kids were just throwing every new file into just one huge folder and were depending on the search function to find what they want.

      1. chris

        Win11 is an attempt to make the expensive laptop you bought into a chrome book. I loathe Win11.

      2. Lefty Godot

        But that’s what non-technical people I encountered on the job 20 years ago were doing also. The most common thing was “save everything to the desktop” and then have to scroll sideways to find it if you couldn’t figure out how to get Windows to find it for you. Then they would wonder why their PC took forever to boot and was deathly slow much of the rest of the time.

        The personal computer was mostly a great thing when it was adopted by people who perceived a personal need for it and had a willingness to learn the technical aspects. When it became a requirement for everyone to use for their jobs, with minimal training, it often caused productivity to go down. And started requiring “IT support” staff of varying quality to keep from turning into an unmitigated disaster.

        1. digi_owl

          Part of the minimal training thing came from the buzzword “intuitive” that both Apple and MS loved throwing around one the GUI was introduced.

          Another was that MS claimed that employees would be familiar with the basic operation of their products from home, and thus only needed training in company specific software if the company standardized on MS software.

          That said, software used to ship with sizable manuals and internal help systems. These days hitting F1 (the classic help button in Windows) just launch Edge with a pre-filled Bing search!

  7. Wukchumni

    Eclipse chaser dept:

    Anybody making a pilgrimage to see the total solar eclipse on Monday?

    We’re supposed to get a 50% partial eclipse here in Cali, and i’ll be on the slopes as the saga above unfolds over the course of an hour, and about half of your time is spent riding lift chairs-which should make a great platform under mostly sunny skies to see a little lack of something.

    1. John

      I chased the 1991 eclipse to Hawaii.It was a great excuse. On Monday I shall content myself with the 85-90% . I missed 2017, clouds. Saw a partial in the early 1970s. I would chase another total eclipse to Hawaii or another gently warm climate.

    2. LaRuse

      We ventured to Isle of Palms, SC for the 2017 eclipse. Absolutely fantastic to stand on a beach looking at the Atlantic, a standard east coast afternoon thunderhead rocking behind us, and the eclipse going total. A memory I will never forget.
      Nor will I forget the 10 hour drive home that would have been 6 hours on a typical afternoon. Not chasing this one but I highly recommend the experience if you get the chance.

    3. upstater

      I thought Wuk’s significant other was a Buffaloian and you’d be there for 3:40 totality in the deepest rustbelt. We’re going 20 miles to mother in-law’s in North Syracuse for an eclipse cookout and 2 minutes of totality. Skies are forecast to be very favorable, which is unusual for here! Our place is just on the edge of totality. We had a partial eclipse in 1993.

      1. Wukchumni

        She’s been here 43 years and is (squeezes thumb & index finger together @ 45 degree angle) this close to being a fully fledged Californian, although always a once upon a time Buffalonian.

    4. caucus99percenter

      Watched the 1970 total eclipse from Dismal Swamp State Park, North Carolina. Unforgettable.

      Worth making the effort to witness a total solar eclipse firsthand — especially if it’s likely you’ll be able to manage it only once in your lifetime.

    5. Lena

      I already live in the path of totality, so no need to travel. I’m excited to be around to see it.

      1. Lena

        An aside: I got a month’s extension of my ACP internet. Don’t know why. Maybe other people are getting the same?

    6. eg

      Apparently it will be 100% in parts of the Niagara region of Southern Ontario. I figure here in Burlington is close enough.

  8. lyman alpha blob

    RE: As general election heats up, Trump camp prepares to be frozen in court

    But he could still be live on stage. Spend the day in court, then campaign by holographic projection with the audio supplied by livestream from the Big Cheeto himself, riffing from the hotel room du jour. He could be anywhere and everywhere at once. Turn lemons into lemonade. HoloDon in the house. The man does love a spectacle. I’m a little surprised he isn’t doing this already.

    1. ambrit

      I’m eagerly awaiting the big, splashy ‘reintroduction advertising campaign’ for those outlets.
      “Back by popular demand! The Heifer MacRib! Available for an extremely limited End Time. Make it a MacMeal with Kabbala Fries and a Siloam Shake! (Heifer Special guaranteed Kosher on odd numbered days.)”

  9. Acacia

    Markets are down on concerns over an Israel/Iran conflict.

    “Pentagon officially confirms it was Israel that destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus.”


    Biden now calling for “immediate ceasefire” after phoning Netanyahu “to emphasize that strikes on aid workers and the humanitarian situation in Gaza are unacceptable”


    To “emphasize”, eh?

    Sounds like somebody told Genocide Joe that his poll numbers are way down and that sending moar weapons to Israel has something to do with it.

    But yeah, keep running the PR campaign with those photos of a befuddled Biden waiting on hold for Bibi to take his call — that’ll boost his numbers for sure.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Bow down before the one you serve,
      You’re gonna get what you deserve …

      #Jo3yNoRD5tr3aM gonna get what he deserves for sure …

  10. ChrisRUEcon


    > ‘He asked if I would be his running mate. After careful consideration, I respectfully declined.’

    She’s holding out for Trump …

    1. Carnahan

      Guarantees that Trump lives out his term.

      Who’d believe that a surfer chick from Hawaii could end up V.P?

      Who’d believe a Canadian adventuress who couldn’t make it as a lawyer from San Francisco could?

      Strange days these.

  11. Jeff W

    “I’m amazed that there is such a thing [as an online encyclopedia of integer sequences].”

    Amazed, maybe, but probably not surprised—you mentioned a New York Times article about it a little less than a year ago.

  12. JBird4049

    >>>Meanwhile, the universal blackout of John Barnett’s assassination continues. How long does it take to write up a police report? Or will we ever get one?

    While I realize that your question is rhetorical doesn’t the official report on Jeffrey Epstein conclude that he committed suicide? Isn’t still official? If so, why the wait on John Barrett? It is nearly a certainty that he was murdered. It is also nearly a certainty that the report will be a fabrication. If the department actually does a true and honest report, they are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s making very certain that it is correct, which takes both investigation and time.

    How long did it take for the official fairytale news story becoming a snickering joke even among the state news media and punditry? IIRC, one guy during an interview on CNN blurting out “Epstein didn’t kill himself” which had nothing to do with his interview that broke the official narrative.

    Like so much else, it might disappear, but like some events, the sheer amount of flaming manure, plus the ongoing collapse of Boeing, which includes flying coffins for public use, will likely shove into the news even if they, whoever they are, try to bury it.

    1. Ben Panga

      I still remember the death of Dr David Kelly the British weapons inspector and source of the “The Iraq dossier is sexed-up” story. The man with the most ability to undercut Blair and Bush’s proposed war who “conveniently killed himself while alone on a walk”. There was no inquest into the death. An inquiry by the UK government found there was nothing to see here.

      I’m wary of making definitive statements about anything. Like a poker player I try to think in probabilities or how confident I am of my conclusion.

      We can never be 100% sure Kelly (or Barnett, or even Epstein) was murdered – I think they sit on a scale of “confidence that person was murdered and it was covered up”. I might call it The Epstein Scale :)

      At one end of the scale would be Epstein who I think most of us are fairly confident was murdered.

      Kelly would be high on the scale for me, but below Epstein.

      In the middle would be James Le Mesurier the White Helmets founder who “fell off a balcony” and Labour leader John Smith who also “died on a walk” paving the way for Blair to be PM.

      Lower down would Princess Di

      1. Ben Panga

        It has a sister “The Tin Foil Hat Tightness Scale” but maybe I shouldn’t open that can of worms!

        1. Ben Panga

          Long C has diminished my brain enough that I can no longer process logarithms. So just a simple 0 to 100% confidence estimate.

          I’m sure those with fuller faculties could improve on it.

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