2:00PM Water Cooler 4/8/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Tompkins, New York, United States. A woodpecker, too.

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Democrats and the working class.

(2) Starry Night, updated.

(3) Diddy, Son of Epstein?


“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 5

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

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Trump (R): “Florida man found with contraband” [Adam’s Legal Newsletter]. “Donald Trump contends that he cannot be prosecuted for possessing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago because, while he was President, he exercised his authority under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) to categorize those documents as “personal records.” On April 4, 2024, Judge Cannon denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the criminal indictment based on that theory, while declining to resolve the parties’ dispute on the proper interpretation of the PRA. In this post I will offer my take on this fracas. Executive summary: 1. The PRA defense is terrible, but also kind of funny. 2. The court’s order on this issue was misguided, but 3. P(Doom) on this particular issue is low.” PDoom is the probability of doom (for some definition of doom). I think that’s a neat construct! The whole article is well worth a read.

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Trump (R): “Inside the Terrifyingly Competent Trump 2024 Campaign” [Vanity Fair]. Important. “Trump’s 2024 campaign has already demonstrated Trump can run an effective operation. ‘This campaign is locked down,’ a Republican close to Trump said. In previous cycles, Trump populated his campaigns with huge egos like Roger Stone, Kushner, Ivanka, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, and Brad Parscale, among others. In 2024, Trump’s inner circle is made up of heads-down operatives Susie Wiles, Chris LaCivita, Miller, and James Blair, who don’t play their agendas through the media. ‘You have experienced people who don’t leak,’ longtime Trump confidant Stone said. Trump trusts his senior team to do their jobs. In the past, Trump worked the phone constantly, soliciting advice from a wide circle of friends, family, Manhattan business associates, and media personalities. Trump’s style of pitting staffers against one another created an incentive to leak. ‘The side whose opinion lost would run to the media,’ a 2020 campaign veteran explained. ‘This time, he’s not talking to randos.’ Most of all, Trump is disciplined because fear is a powerful motivator: His wealth and freedom are at stake.” And: “In early February 2023, Miller, the CEO of right-wing social media platform Gettr, joined the campaign as senior strategist and messaging guru. With Miller and spokesperson Steven Cheung driving the message, the campaign started to change the news cycle. Trump visited the town of East Palestine, Ohio, weeks after a train derailment caused a disastrous chemical fire.” Too bad Biden never showed up. More: “In October 2022, the 56-year-old Marine veteran, who has a shaved head and linebacker build, joined the campaign as senior adviser. LaCivita is a practitioner of the political dark arts. During the 2004 presidential election, he advised the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group that smeared John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. It was a supreme act of chutzpah: Kerry’s opponent, George W. Bush, never served in Vietnam. LaCivita is more than a street brawler. He has a Talmudic understanding of primary rules. Last summer, LaCivita lobbied state Republican parties to change their processes to favor Trump. (For example, he convinced the California GOP to apportion all delegates to the winner.) ‘While everyone was dicking around last year, the Trump people were changing all these party rules, getting their people in place, changing the battlefield,’ a top GOP strategist said.” • Presumably, the campaign team has figured out a way to take advantage of Trump’s court appearances. The story opens with a hilarious anecdote of Trump making seven million bucks in two days off his Atlanta mugshot.

Trump (R): “Trump warns: “lunatic” Biden could start World War III” [Infobrics]. TRUMP: “This guy has no clue. He can’t put two sentences together, and he’s dealing with Putin, and he’s dealing with President Xi, and he’s dealing with Kim Jong-un. All people I know very well. We were under no threat from anybody until this guy got in office. Now they’re talking nuclear all the time. We didn’t talk nuclear…. You were safe because they respected your president, and they respected the United States of America. And now you’re not safe. I will tell you we could end up in World War III with this lunatic.” Interesting to see Infobrics picking up a FOX transcript. And on nuclear war: Is Trump wrong? That wrong?

Trump (R): “Trump Says States Should Chart Their Own Path on Abortion” [Wall Street Journal]. “Former President Donald Trump said abortion should be left to the states, avoiding taking a position on the number of weeks at which the procedure should be banned as he tries to navigate an issue that has animated Democrats.

‘My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land,’ Trump said Monday in a campaign video. ‘Many states will be different…At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people.’ Trump’s stance is unlikely to please religious conservatives who want him to embrace tougher restrictions, and one prominent group quickly expressed its disappointment. And Democrats are certain to continue to blame him for the 2022 Supreme Court ruling that ended the constitutional right to the procedure.” • Of course they will, but that’s only because they never take responsibillity for anything (including the composition of the Court).

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Biden (D): “Biden Not Only Reason for Dems To Panic” [RealClearPolitics]. “What matters even more is that the Republican Party is showing signs of waking up from its long uniparty slumber and recognizing that fighting back is the best way to win an election. You saw elements of this renewed engagement last month when the new leadership of the GOP opted to partner with community activist Scott Presler to increase voter registration and legal ballot harvesting in battleground states. Presler, the co-founder of Gays for Trump, goes by the handle #ThePersistence on social media, and his support for Donald Trump and MAGA has seen him travel tirelessly in pursuit of every legal Republican vote he can find. Last month, he was registering members of the Amish community in Pennsylvania. Brilliant!… Grassroots Republicans, who see themselves becoming empowered by people like Presler and Kirk, and by the Precinct Strategy program that is taking leadership of the Republican Party away from the Old Guard. No wonder Democrats are panicking. If they lose their upper hand in recruiting new voters, turning out the early vote and seizing every opportunity to improve their chances for victory in battleground states, then the electoral map could very possibly transform into a landslide victory for Trump and the Republicans.”

Biden (D): “Judge calls out blatant double standard when it comes to Biden’s Justice Department and Hunter” [Jonathan Turley, New York Post]. “The House is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry that includes allegations of influence over the Hunter investigation. While insisting that there was no pressure or special dealing in the matter, the DOJ has blocked key sources of evidence. That led to the House subpoenas…. The only way for the House to investigate such corrupt special dealings is to interview the principle actors, including these two attorneys. Otherwise, as Democratic members have done, critics can insist that they have no direct evidence of wrongdoing…. [US District Judge Ana Reyes] noted the obvious: “There’s a person in jail right now because you all brought a criminal lawsuit against him because he did not appear for a House subpoena.” The DOJ demanded six months in prison. Navarro is serving a four-month sentence…. The Justice Department insisted that it is different when its own prosecutors refuse to testify and noted that the House had also refused a demand to have other Justice Department lawyers present for the depositions. They then stressed that the decision to defy the subpoena came after lengthy deliberations ‘at a high level.'” Like what? The Oval Office? More: “Reyes then asked if the DOJ would drop its opposition if it were allowed to have DOJ lawyers in the room for the questioning. When the lawyers said they could not answer that question at this time, Reyes exclaimed, ‘Are you kidding me?'”

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Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. questions prosecutions for Jan. 6 attack, says he wants to hear ‘every side'” [Associated Press]. “Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a lengthy statement Friday suggested that the prosecution of rioters who violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, might be politically motivated, partly aligning himself with the false portrayal being pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies.” What on earth does “partly aligning” mean? More: “‘One can, as I do, oppose Donald Trump and all he stands for, and still be disturbed by the weaponization of government against him,’ Kennedy said.” • The gallows still making an appearance, I see.

Kennedy (I): “Spoiler alert: RFK Jr. embraces the chaos, has Democrats ‘paranoid’ he’ll cost Biden” [Washington Examiner]. “‘Democrats are right to take the third-party threat very seriously. Donald Trump is openly rooting for both No Labels and RFK to drain Democratic votes,’ said Matt Bennett, the executive vice president for public affairs at Third Way, a centrist Democratic group, in a statement to the Washington Examiner. ‘He remembers how third parties won just enough votes in 2016 to allow him to capture the three Blue Wall states and the presidency. Democrats learned the hard way how dangerous third-party spoilers can be in a closely divided electorate and are mobilizing allies across the anti-Trump coalition to prevent third parties from helping Trump win again.”” • I don’t know where this “Blue Wall” trope came from. From the Labour Party’s “Red Wall” in the UK? It’s a rotten metaphor. Precincts aren’t like walls (unless you’re a child playing Risk, or an armchair strategist working from a map).

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“Democrats spar over registration as worries over young and minority voters grow” [WaPo]. Important. “For decades, nonpartisan groups allied with the Democratic Party have run wide-ranging efforts aimed at increasing voter registration among people of color and young people — groups that tend to lean Democratic but have historically voted at lower rates than older and White people. In recent years, however, there has been a marked shift among the roughly 1 in 5 citizens of voting age who are unregistered toward Republicans, raising fresh questions about how much boosting nonpartisan voter registration could help presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump heading into November. Aaron Strauss, an influential data scientist who helps direct progressive spending at the firm OpenLabs, sparked private disagreements over this issue in January, when he sent about a dozen major Democratic donors a confidential memo that challenged traditional nonpartisan registration. ‘Indeed, if we were to blindly register nonvoters and get them on the rolls, we would be distinctly aiding Trump’s quest for a personal dictatorship,” Strauss argued in the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post and cited recent polling that showed Trump’s strength among unregistered voters. He also warned that efforts to gain Democratic votes among younger and non-Black people of color were often expensive — costing more than $1,200 per net vote in 2020, by one estimate — because the groups now include so many non-Democrats. Among voters of color, he wrote that ‘only African American registration is clearly a prime opportunity,’ adding that netting Democratic voters among Black people cost approximately $575 per vote in 2020. He called on donors to nonpartisan nonprofits to also donate to political groups that focus voter registration spending on ‘specific, heavily pro-Biden populations’ like Black Americans, while using more targeted techniques among other groups to filter out likely Trump supporters.” • Heaving the NGOs over the side? Unthinkable!

“How House Dems plan to use abortion ballot initiatives on the campaign trail” [Politico]. “The DCCC is zeroing in on races in Arizona [swing], Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada [swing] and New York — all states that could have an abortion measure on the ballot — with 18 races where Democrats are playing defense or hope to flip GOP-held districts. The party sees abortion as a potential swing-seat turnout booster, pointing to purple-district Rep. Sharice Davids’ (D-Kan.) 2022 win after an abortion referendum was on her state’s ballot and increased turnout in Ohio last cycle.”

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FL: “Florida Is (Hypothetically) Winnable for Biden and the Democrats” [Washington Monthly]. “The 62 percent supermajority in favor of the abortion rights referendum, from a November poll by the University of North Florida, is buoyed by 53 percent support among Republicans. … Can abortion prompt a 3.4 percentage point shift in the presidential race and flip the state to Biden? The data from the 2022 midterms is uneven. Republican governors in Georgia and Texas were re-elected in 2022 despite polls showing opposition to their abortion bans. But abortion does appear to have helped accelerate the bluing of Arizona, where in the 2022 gubernatorial race, Democrat Katie Hobbs edged MAGA Republican Kari Lake by less than a point, following two double-digit victories by Republican Doug Ducey.”

FL: “Florida no longer in play as a swing state as GOP voters surge over Dems by nearly 900K: DeSantis” [FOX]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis believes Democrats don’t stand a chance in the Sunshine State going forward. This comes as reports indicate registered GOP voters now outpace Democrats by nearly 900,000. ‘You’re talking about a million-plus voter registration shift,’ DeSantis told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, saying that older numbers indicated Republicans were behind their Democrat adversaries by nearly 300,000 registered voters in 2018.” • That’s a steep hill to climb…

NE: “Inside the battle over Nebraska’s electoral college votes” [Semafor]. “Six months ago, Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Eric Underwood pitched Ronna McDaniel on a simple idea that could help the GOP win the presidency again. Since 1991, Nebraska had split its electoral votes; two for the statewide winner, then three for the winner of each congressional district. Trump lost the Omaha-based 2nd district in 2020, and if the GOP lost it again in 2024 — even if it flipped Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia — it would lose the presidency by a single vote. There was a bill frozen in the state legislature that could change that, assigning all five electors to the statewide winner, if Republicans rescued it. Underwood’s question for the RNC chair and its legal counsel was: Would the national party help? ‘In essence, the response was: I’m a federal officer, this is a state issue,’ Underwood recalled this week. ‘Thanks for the heads up, tell us how it goes.’ The idea went nowhere until late Tuesday morning. Underwood got a text from Tyler Bowyer, the chief operating office of the conservative activist group Turning Point USA and an RNC committeeman from Arizona, who was one of the loudest voices in the successful recent campaign to oust McDaniel. Bowyer asked if the Nebraska legislature was still in session, and whether the ‘winner-take-all’ bill could still be revived. Underwood said that it could. Within 36 hours, that plan was endorsed by Gov. Jim Pillen, Sen. Pete Ricketts, Donald Trump, and most of the GOP supermajority in the unicameral state senate.” • So yes, the Trump operation is competent. (The bill hadn’t passed, but it looks like Lara Trump can’t possibly be worse than McDaniel.

OH: “Biden may be missing from Ohio’s general election ballot due to key deadline issue, election official warns” [FOX]. “President Biden may fail to get on Ohio’s general election ballot after the state’s top election official warned his campaign about missing a key deadline on Friday. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, notified top Democratic officials that their party’s national convention is scheduled to occur well past the deadline for certifying a presidential candidate in Ohio. ‘The Democratic National Convention is scheduled to convene on August 19, 2024, which occurs more than a week after the August 7 deadline to certify a presidential candidate to the office,’ LaRose wrote to Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Liz Walters, according to the letter first obtained by ABC News. ‘I am left to conclude that the Democratic National Committee must either move up its nominating convention or the Ohio General Assembly must act by May 9, 2024 (90 days prior to a new law’s effective date) to create an exception to this statutory requirement,’ LaRose legal counsel, Paul Disantis, wrote in the letter.” • May 9 is not far away.

PA: “‘Now They’re Voting Red’: A Pennsylvania Fracking Boom Weighs on Biden’s Re-Election Chances” [Wall Street Journal]. “Pittsburgh is at the center of a class inversion between the two parties that is redefining American politics. Democrats have traded their former blue-collar base for professional-class, metropolitan workers, while Republicans have become overwhelmingly dependent on working-class voters concentrated in far-flung suburbs, small towns and rural areas…. In Pennsylvania, the largest 2024 battleground state, President Biden’s victory four years ago depended in large part on big gains among [the city’s heavily Democratic professional class]. But those gains have been overtaken by opposition from voters like Sabo, who works in the natural-gas industry, a sector that has given a boost to blue-collar workers in rural counties. These energy-economy voters see Biden as hostile to fracking, which taps natural gas trapped in sedimentary rock deep underground. The sector has drawn billions of dollars in new investment in Pennsylvania, much of it in the state’s southwest corner. Biden has been particularly hurt by his decision to cancel the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which local companies say cut into demand for their services; and his order this year to pause new permits to export liquefied natural gas, which could deprive drillers of new markets. Many of these voters also believe the president’s push for Americans to adopt electric vehicles will undercut jobs tied to fossil fuels.” And: “There is little sign that Biden can regain substantial support in seven largely working-class and rural counties that surround [Pittsburgh], every one of which produced a larger vote margin for Trump in 2020 than in 2016. The resistance to Biden’s energy policies is making it harder for the incumbent to stop his party’s decline among noncollege voters there, forcing the party to wring more votes out of a Democratic base elsewhere that, so far, seems dispirited.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Man Arrested for Setting Fire at Bernie Sanders’ Office. Motive Remains Unclear” [Time]. “Shant Soghomonian, 35, who was previously of Northridge, California, entered the building on Friday and went to Sanders’ third-floor office where security video showed him spraying a liquid on the door and setting it afire, officials said. The building’s interior suffered some damage from the fire and sprinklers that doused the area with water, but no one was hurt. Sanders, an independent, was not in the office at the time. Soghomonian was arrested Sunday on a charge of using fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce, according to a statement from Nikolas Kerest, the U.S. attorney for Vermont. The motive remained unclear.” • What a weird charge. Anyhow, filing this under “Democrats en Déshabillé” for reasons that are, at this point, obvious….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Batya Ungar-Sargon: Class, Not Race, Is the Dividing Line in American Politics” [RealClearPolitics]. “Batya Ungar-Sargon, the deputy editor of Newsweek and author of the new book, Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women, speaks with RCP Washington bureau chief Carl Cannon on Thursday’s edition of the RealClearPolitics radio show”:

“People don’t talk about it like it is an outrage,” [Ungar-Sargon] said about the transformation of the Democratic Party into something other than a party for the working class. “It is such a fait accompli at this point that we forget that it is outrageous for a party that used to represent labor, the little guy against big corporations and the rich, completely abandoned that constituency to cater to an over-credentialed college elite on one hand, and the dependent poor on the other. And it is double outrageous because that party still masquerades as the party of the little guy, even though it is not the case anymore.”

Carl Cannon asked: “Do they really hate the working class, or are they just in their politically correct bubble and don’t see what they’re doing?”

“They cannot stand the idea that they will lose, even if they lose in a very obviously democratic way,” Ungar-Sargon said. “They are very comfortable when they can sit there on cable news making millions of dollars to sneer at the working class. They’re comfortable when the working class can’t clap back.”

“This was really Obama’s revolution, the idea that the ‘smart set’ should run things. We should have an oligarchy of the credentialed. But when the working class has their audacity to vote in their own interest and clap back by putting somebody like Donald Trump in power, that sneering contempt turns to hate.”

Well, yes, the Democrats really do hate the working class; see Thomas Frank, Listen, Libera! (that is, do your reading, Batya!). However, it’s not only the working class that voted for Trump; plenty of local gentry voted for Trump as well. Further, even if this is my kind of red meat, let’s be clear that nobody’s talking about empowering the working class, as a class, certainly not Trump.


“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

“Evidence from Whole Genome Sequencing of Aerosol Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 almost Five Hours after Hospital Room Turnover” (abstract only) [American Journal of Infection Control]. ” Whole genome sequencing during an outbreak suggested in-room transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to two patients admitted nearly 2 and 5 hours, respectively, after discharge of an asymptomatic infected patient. These findings suggest that airborne SARS-CoV-2 may transmit infection for over 4 hours, even in a hospital setting.” • Yo, HICPAC. Are you listening? MR SUBLIMINAL Lol no

“Investigation of a superspreading event preceding the largest meat processing plant-related SARS-Coronavirus 2 outbreak in Germany” [SSRN]. 2020, missed it at the time. From the Abstract: “Transmissions occurred in a confined area of a meat processing plant in which air is constantly re-circulated and cooled to 10°C. Index case B1 transmitted the virus to co-workers in a radius of more than 8 meters during work-shifts on 3 consecutive days…. Our results indicate climate conditions and airflow as factors that can promote efficient spread of SARS-CoV-2 via distances of more than 8 meters and provide insights into possible requirements for pandemic mitigation strategies in industrial workplace settings.” • Like CAFOs?

Immune Dysregulation

“CDC Tracking “Dangerous” Bacterial Infection Spreading in New York” [WIBX]. “The New York State Department of Health is tracking the spread of the “Neisseria meningitidis” bacteria. This virulent strain is highly invasive and can lead to death if left untreated. Neisseria meningitidis causes meningococcal disease as well as a serious blood infection called meningococcal septicemia. This bacteria is also capable of causing meningococcal meningitis once it infects the linings of the brain and spinal cord. If this sounds alarming, that’s because it is. This bacteria is known to strike quickly and cause serious health complications or even death within days.” • CDC says it’s not airborne, fortunately (not spread by breathing).

Transmission: H5N1

Vector transmission from @LazarusLong13:

“Detection of H5N1 Avian Influenza Virus from Mosquitoes Collected in an Infected Poultry Farm in Thailand” (PDF) [Vector-Borne And Zoonotic Diseases]. From 2008.

Blood-engorged mosquitoes were collected at poultry farms during an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Central Thailand during October 2005. These mosquitoes tested positive for H5N1 virus by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Results were confirmed by limited sequencing of the H5 and

N1 segments. Infection and replication of this virus in the C6/36 mosquito cell line was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. However, transmission by mosquitoes was not evaluated, and further research is needed.” • Something to ponder.

“The potential of house flies to act as a vector of avian influenza subtype H5N1 under experimental conditions” [Medical and Veterinary Entomology]. From the Abstract: “The present study shows that the flies may harbour the [avian influenza (AI) H5N1] virus and could act as a mechanical vector of the AI virus.”

Sequelae: Covid

“COVID-19 and Its Ophthalmic Manifestations: A Literature Review” [Cureus]. “The most common ocular manifestations that have been noted are episcleritis and keratoconjunctivitis and inflammation of the sclera and conjunctiva of the eye, respectively. A study conducted by Zhou et al. [10] examined postmortem eyes and surgical specimens of COVID-19-positive patients. Immunohistochemical assays were performed on each sample, revealing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors are expressed in the conjunctiva, cornea, and limbus surface of the eye. The findings presented in this paper emphasize the importance of the eye as a reservoir for COVID-19 and how transmission can occur without proper eye and hand care [10, 11]. The ACE 2 receptor is used by the virus to enter cells [12, 13]. Another study showed neuropathic corneal pain as a debilitating manifestation of the long-COVID syndrome [14].” • I don’t think this source is all that great, but it shouldn’t be that hard to do a literature review, and in any case I can’t find KLG trashing them.

Elite Maleficence

WHO promotes baggy blues [bangs head on desk]:

“Federal Judge Hits CDC Over Withholding Data on Adverse Vaccine Reports” [Jonathan Turley]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to resist disclosing information on claimed side effects and problems with its COVID-19 vaccines, including from healthcare workers. Due to a January order by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in a Freedom of Information Act case, the CDC is being forced to turn over hundreds of thousands of “free text” entries from V-safe. The court has scolded the CDC for its continuing efforts to withhold information on these complaints…. For a year, the CDC has been fighting these efforts. The lawsuit by the Informed Consent Action Network, revealed ‘nearly 8% of V-safe users said they required medical care, another 12% couldn’t perform normal daily activities and yet another 13% said they missed work or school.’ With limited ‘boxes’ supplied by the CDC, people had to write in their complications. The CDC then failed to disclose those reports. The free-text entries reportedly support one of the most controversial moves by the CDC to downplay heart complications. Litigants say that the new disclosures show a frequency of symptoms associated with myocarditis – inflammation of the the heart muscle myocardium.”

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 8: Regional[2] Biobot April 8:
Variants[3] CDC March 30 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 5: National [6] CDC March 23:
National[7] Walgreens April 1: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 30:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 18: Variants[10] CDC March 18:
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) 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.

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

Stats Watch

There are no statistics of interest today.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 8 at 1:47:15 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes up two (!) on Earthquakes and Plagues. “The strongest quake in 25 years hit Taiwan” and “CDC says bacterial infection cases are rising” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) • Bird flu not a concern?

The Gallery


Zeitgeist Watch

“Two weeks after raid on Diddy’s homes, it’s quiet on the news front” [WaPo]. “Two weeks ago, federal agents raided Sean “Diddy” Combs’s mansions in Miami and Los Angeles, searching for evidence tied to a sex-trafficking investigation. The shocking headlines prompted a wave of speculation that Combs, one of the most powerful producers in the music industry, might soon be arrested in connection to any of five recent lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. He has denied all of the accusations.

But since then, there has been no arrest and few, if any, revelations for tabloids.” • One can only wonder why–

“Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Former Bodyguard Claims Music Mogul Had Tapes of ‘Politicians’ and ‘Princes'” [Modernity]. “The former bodyguard of Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ claims the music mogul had blackmail tapes of politicians, princes and other prominent individuals who were involved in his sex parties. Gene Deal, who was present the night when Notorious B.I.G. was fatally shot in 1997, made the sensational comments during an interview with ‘The Art of Dialogue’ YouTube channel. ‘I don’t think it’s only celebrities gonna be shook. He had politicians in there, he had princes in there. He also had a couple of preachers in there,’ said Deal. ‘Can you imagine, he had every room bugged,’ he added. When asked why Combs’ media department had stayed silent on the allegations against him, Deal responded, ‘Either they took part in some of the stuff that happened, or they’re scared that it may mess up their brand.’ Fox News host Jesse Watters speculated that the tapes, if they exist, are now in the hands of the feds and ‘that’s a lot of blackmail.'” • Indeed. “I would say that our Mr. Swain has recently come into possession of a very high-grade source of intelligence and is busy converting it into power. ” –William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive>

* * *

Interesting question:

Yes, I remember my parents doing this; cocktails, and so forth. When did these customs die out? When “party” became a verb?

Class Warfare

“People quasi-randomly assigned to farm rice are more collectivistic than people assigned to farm wheat” [Nature]. The Cultural Revolution as a natural experiment (!): “The rice theory of culture argues that the high labor demands and interdependent irrigation networks of paddy rice farming makes cultures more collectivistic than wheat-farming cultures. Despite prior evidence, proving causality is difficult because people are not randomly assigned to farm rice. In this study, we take advantage of a unique time when the Chinese government quasi-randomly assigned people to farm rice or wheat in two state farms that are otherwise nearly identical. The rice farmers show less individualism, more loyalty/nepotism toward a friend over a stranger, and more relational thought style. These results rule out confounds in tests of the rice theory, such as temperature, latitude, and historical events. The differences suggest rice-wheat cultural differences can form in a single generation.” • Fascinating! Via Marginal Revolution, who commented:

It’s long been argued [by, say, The Bearded One] that the means [and mode] of production influence social, cultural and psychological processes. Rice farming, for example, requires complex irrigation systems under communal management and intense, coordinated labor. Thus, it has been argued that successful rice farming communities tend to develop people with collectivist orientations, and cultural ways of thinking that emphasize group harmony and interdependence. In contrast, wheat farming, which requires less labor and coordination is associated with more individualistic cultures that value independence and personal autonomy. Implicit in Turner’s Frontier hypothesis, for example, is the idea that not only could a young man say ‘take this job and shove it’ and go west but once there they could establish a small, viable wheat farm (or other dry crop).

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From TH:

TH writes: “This is the Cactus Garden at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar. It’s got quite a variety and some rather large specimens. The Spanish architecture works especially well with this section of the gardens.” That bench in the shade makes me want to go and sit down….

* * *

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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. Carolinian

      Plus Mother Nature timed it to somewhat align with Water Cooler.

      On their most recent talk Taibbi and Kirn discuss a CNN ambush interview of RFK accusing him of working for Trump. The MSM surely do have Trump on the brain.

      1. flora

        A TDS diagnosis should be entered in the next version of the DSM5*. / ;)

        * Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

        1. Martin Oline

          I believe it should be entered as Obsessive Trump Hyperactivity Disorder or OTHD.

    2. upstater

      How about a non-political, non-religious eclipse report… at mother in-law’s in North Syracuse, 2 minutes of totality. Pretty heavy overcast at totality, couldn’t make out the corona. But in time leading up 5-95%, one could view it without eclipse glasses in thin spots of clouds. With glasses you could see nothing. Took some 10x zoom cellphone shots. The few minutes surrounding totality were very dramatic! Some children were in their back yard and it was special hearing their excitement.

      1. petal

        A friend was watching from the state park in Sodus Point right on the beach. Overcast there but it got pretty dark.
        I watched from the cemetery on campus in Hanover, away from the crowd. The green was packed and full of loud, obnoxious people so I wandered over. The birds went quiet, everything was still, the light got funny, it darkened, and it got a little chilly. We still had a tiny sliver of sun as we were just south of the totality path. A friend surprised me with a pair of eclipse glasses this morning. A huge cheer went up from the circus on the green at 3:28p.

      2. Lena

        The weather was clear and perfect for the eclipse in my area of the Midwest. It was breathtaking to watch before, during and after totality. I didn’t take pictures or anything, I just watched. I’m glad I was able to see it.

        1. notabanker

          Saw the whole thing here too in Ohio, something I will never forget. Great experience.

          1. Screwball

            NW Ohio here. We were really in the sweet spot. It was pretty cool.

            We made the Toledo news. Small town, but we tried to do it up. There were 140-150 couples who either got married or renewed their vows and that had the TV station here. Close to mid-town at a nice little amphitheater. I went though town around 1:15 and there were quite a few people milling about. Looked like all went well. Good for us.

            I was surprised how dark it got, and cooled off too. My cat knew something was amiss.

            And for a few hours people didn’t hate each other.

          2. Randll Flagg

            Northern Vermont, before when I heard on some news programs stories of some “Eclipse Chasers”, I thought Jesus, whatever..
            Having seen it in person now, I get it. An odd thing to experience on the top of a hillside with the views of the snowcapped White Mountains of NH in the distance.

      3. Lunker Walleye

        We were in 100% blackout in Russellville, Arkansas. Got dark enough for street lights to come on. Perfect day and lots of card on Scenic Highway 7.

      4. GC54

        ~75 of us watched from top of parking deck B at DFW airport. Corona was muted by cirrus, but boy the chromosphere & prominences were booming this close to solar max, compared to 2017. Truly “A lidless eye wreathed in flame”. Clouds broke up but still dense chunks passing a few mins before totality. Then 10 crucial mins of very thin stuff to see the best part of the show. Only my second solar eclipse, but radial rays when lunar topography made almost a point source were obvious (not my astigmatism because everyone saw them).

      5. Carla

        A pretty perfect eclipse day here in Cleveland. The weather held despite all forecasts to the contrary so views of the first total eclipse here since 1806 were spectacular. The goodwill vibe began on the grounds of the Great Lakes Science Center on Saturday and continued on Sunday with NASA Glenn Research Center providing many displays staffed with articulate and enthusiastic scientists answering questions, a live performance by the Cleveland Orchestra, and many other musical acts throughout the weekend. Ticket holders for the Guardians home opener on Monday were admitted to the ball park early so they could experience the eclipse together before a 5:10 p.m. start; the Guardians did their part by beating the White Sox 4-0. Friends from Seattle and Florida were visiting us for this singular experience and together we attended a watch party in the Flats. Throughout the weekend and eclipse day the mood all over town seemed to be one of celebration punctuated by awe between about 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. (peaking at totality from 3:13 to 3:17 EDT). A once-in-several-lifetimes event as Cleveland is not to experience a total eclipse again for another 400 years. Who may be here to witness it and under what circumstances? Impossible to imagine.

  1. flora

    re: “Batya Ungar-Sargon: Class, Not Race, Is the Dividing Line in American Politics” [RealClearPolitics].

    Thanks for the link. Sounds about right.

    1. flora

      Dems became the party of the Yuppies. Interesting the the term first appeared in a Chicago publication in 1980.

      Hearing the phrase ‘Ok, Boomer’ makes sense if it’s a stand-in for ‘Ok, Yuppie.’ Yuppie correctly implies the upper economic class in the way ‘Boomer’ does not, imo.

      1. flora

        The C’s and B and Reich and the rest were all Yuppies when young. It’s funny that one of the first scandals in C’s first pres admin was Nannygate. Perfect description of what Batya is describing, imo.

      2. JTMcPhee

        PMC Yuppies coined the other moniker, “Yuffies,” to categorize “young urban failures” — the deplorables of the city dwellers.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Re: both parties hate the working class. Came across a few interesting factoids about state legislatures, and the Wisconsin legislature in particular, last week. For reference, WI has a “full-time” legislature that meets, in recent years at least, about 3 months per year.

      “in Wisconsin the Legislative Reference Bureau does a report on each new class of lawmakers. Among current (33) (state) senators, ‘three list themselves as practicing attorneys, three list themselves as realtors, and one lists himself as a farmer. Most others are small-business owners in a variety of fields, ranging from insurance to farm supplies.’ As for the much larger (99-member) state Assembly, 32 ‘list themselves as full-time legislators’ and 36 as business owners, with seven attorneys, nine farmers and a scattering of other current occupations.

      “The last survey of the composition of the nation’s 50 state legislatures by Stateline and the National Conference of State Legislatures, done in 2015, found that … 29.5 percent of legislators are business owners, or are in accounting, insurance, real estate or other business fields. In all, 55 percent of state legislators nationwide work in business, are lawyers, or say lawmaking is their main profession.”

      “Just 116 of the nearly 7,400 state legislators in the United States (1.6%) come from working-class backgrounds… Wisconsin had exactly the same percentage: just 1% of Republican legislators and 2% of Democratic legislators are from working class occupations.”


  2. Mikel

    “Two weeks after raid on Diddy’s homes, it’s quiet on the news front” [WaPo]

    I recall the R. Kelly case had lots of similar allegation that are in the Diddy case (sex trafficking charges of the same type), but without the claims about recordings of others that the producer (Lil Rodney) and Gene Deal have made.
    Also, the Chicago PD and FBI were the ones all over the Kelly case. Homeland Security was called for the Diddy raids. People think Homeland Security and think of bigger national security threats.
    Just sayin…

    1. Stephanie

      People think Homeland Security and think of bigger national security threats.

      So… the part where he might have “princes” on tape creating scandal may be accurate?

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe the Feds have learned that there are backup copies of all the best tapes as Diddy took notice that Epstein was offed when they knew there were no loose videos of his out there. Something happens to Diddy and boom, all those recordings get released onto the net.

  3. Feral Finster

    “Batya Ungar-Sargon: Class, Not Race, Is the Dividing Line in American Politics” [RealClearPolitics]. “Batya Ungar-Sargon, the deputy editor of Newsweek and author of the new book, Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women, speaks with RCP Washington bureau chief Carl Cannon on Thursday’s edition of the RealClearPolitics radio show”:

    Americans are divided by race and not class for the same reason that prison guards encourage prisoners to divide themselves by race, etc. and not “us” vs “the screws”.

    1. Simpleman

      Prison populations are divided by race because there is, generally, only one class in prison… Poor and/or working class. Wealthy prisoners would have a gang of one

      1. Feral Finster

        More like “prisoners” vs “guards”. Keeping the prisoners busy fighting one another means that they do not unite and focus their pent-up energies on their jailers.

    2. The Rev Kev

      It has been noted that all this talk about race being the primary divider, the 1619 Project and Black Lives Matter never really became a thing until the Occupy Wall Street movement was crushed by Obama. It is a top down movement which is pushed by the establishment and the media and even the women on The View were called out on this attitude recently by this young black author. I think that Feral Finster has called it here with the prison comparison.

      1. Ben Panga

        Capitalism’s greatest success is the atomisation of the working class, no?

        To elites, all division is useful unless it’s based on class. And the one thing they will try to stop above all others is solidarity amongst the working class.

        I’m often reminded of this cartoon: https://substackcdn.com/image/fetch/f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F283d751d-b5c5-45f5-ae78-9ef94bdf3f19_491x496.png

        1. eg

          Jay Gould’s boast that he could “hire one-half the working class to kill the other half” said the quiet part out loud …

  4. none

    “This was really Obama’s revolution, the idea that the ‘smart set’ should run things”

    Idk, “the best and the brightest” goes back a lot further. Echoes of Vietnam even…

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Rice farming versus wheat farming. The study itself by Talhelm and Dong suffers from the usual social-science opinions-as-“theories.” Watch for the part about genetics, which I’ll delicately describe as a cowflop.

    And there’s this: “Farm records reveal that most farmers in Lianhu and Qukou were (a) regular citizens assigned by the government, (b) military veterans assigned by the government to the area, or (c) educated youth assigned to Ningxia during the Cultural Revolution11,12.” This is an ad hoc group, and I wouldn’t recommend extrapolating anything from a group with such desperate characteristics.

    The central idea has merit: Crops that require water management also encourage a cooperative mindset.

    I happen to live in the Undisclosed Region of Italy, which has 50 percent of all Italian rice fields, and Italy is a major producer of rice. Has all of that water management made the Undisclosed more cooperative? I’d venture a yes–but let’s focus on water management, which is a major matter in the Valley of the Po.

    (You can check in with the Venetians, too, those highly organized Venetians, about water management and its effect on la Serenissima’s years of pretty good government.)

    The Undisclosed do happen to be deferential, polite, and considerate. But all kinds of cultural rewards attach to that.

    I’d also point out that in Chinese culture, wheat has a lower status that rice. So there’s still another cultural factor.

    In the Mediterranean basin, wheat has a status that is almost sacred. Recall what some sources say was the miracle at Eleusis: growth and reaping of sacred wheat. And then there is bread and wine.

    Finally, for still another wonderful dash of social-sciences claptrap, there is this graphic:
    Fig. 3: Rice Farmers Self-Inflated Less, Were More Loyal/Nepotistic, and Thought More Holistically than Nearby Wheat Farmers

    Holistic thoughts. Sheesh. And who knows what nepotism is supposed to mean. (Neither writer seems to have English as his mother tongue. Talhelm is at UChicago Booth, where no one has spoken in anything but slogans for years.)

    Executive summary: It’s all about farmers and villagers organizing themselves for water management. Ask the Sumerians and Egyptians.

    1. You're soaking in it!

      It’s long been argued [by, say, The Bearded One] that the means [and mode] of production influence social, cultural and psychological processes.

      “Sein bestimmt bewusstsein” said the man, but even though it was also pretty revolutionary for its time, I think it became one of the basic (maybe the basic?) errors of the foundations of real socialism. The idea that creating a different economic context for people to live in would by itself change their way of apprehending the world and create the “new man” seems much more of a failure in practice than anything else people ascribe to the experiments.

    2. eg

      There are echoes of “the hydraulic despotisms” in this work, but I was under the impression that sort of idea had gone terribly out of fashion.

    3. vao

      It’s all about farmers and villagers organizing themselves for water management. Ask the Sumerians and Egyptians.

      Ask the Spaniards too. Dating back to the Middle Ages, rural communities implemented customary water management and allocation practices. Some of them survive to this day. I believe some of those practices were formalized in “fueros”, or charters, granted by the king.

  6. Ranger Rick

    The rise of BYOB marked the end of the cocktail party for most people, I feel. I remember a broad swath of “what should you bring to a party” articles indicating that booze was not cheap, and a conscientious partygoer should bring some if they expected to drink some. Chalk one up to the decline of the financial stability of the middle class. Do the upper class still have these parties, though? From this distance it looks like it’s mainly see-and-be-seen almost-public events these days. (I’ll also note that some of the more publicly funded events, e.g. university fundraisers and corporate galas, can no longer serve alcohol for insurance-related reasons.)

    1. jsn

      My folks did dinner parties and regularly took us out with them to dance. There were beer halls like Sholtz’s and Greune Hall where you could dock the kids to the horseshoes or bowling alley, get a long neck and sausage with sauerkraut and dance until well past when the kids conked out.

      The music was loud enough to dance to, but quiet enough to talk over. The food was cheap enough to not bust the budget even if you brought the kids, but good, local and not processed. But, at least where I was, it was a segregated world, as in the picture today. I wonder to what extent court ordered desegregation played a role in the demise of this social melu: in my personal experience there’s a tight correlation between desegregation and the decline of large, public social spaces. I’d wager a photo of the same year with a black band on stage would have an equally uniform demographic as this picture. While the state could regulate racial bias out of a business model, that didn’t translate into cultural integration. The business model that still worked was youth oriented, more energetic and louder, but as that generation of youth aged, it had no tradition of dinners and dances to fall back on. Just speculating.

      We still do dinner parties a half century later, the tax on time is much less than the cost of going out. But those dance venues have all been neoliberally optimized into rarified destinations, the beer and food crafted beyond working class budgets and the spaces for kids enclosed for more profitable uses. Where music is played loud enough to dance to, its’ too loud to talk through. I also think the counterculture of the 60s & 70s (origin of BYOB?), which had other great virtues, killed or mostly killed traditional dancing, which now persists as competition and clubs but not so much as a casual social activity, but interestingly, at least where I live now, thoroughly integrated. Maybe there is hope…

      1. Lena

        When I was little, my mother and her boyfriend (my parents were divorced) went out every Saturday night to a local restaurant for a nice dinner and dancing. My mother always got her hair done, dressed up in her little black dress and had a wonderful time. She would bring me back a pretty cocktail napkin, maybe a mint candy or two. I thought at the time, those evenings are what it means to be grown up. It seemed so sophisticated, like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. But by the time I was old enough to go out, that kind of place was long gone. It was disappointing.

      2. digi_owl

        It may well be that the core part of the counterculture that killed dancing was “free love”. Because dancing may well have served both as a way to get “intimate” before marriage, and also a non-violent way of getting the measure of someone’s “suitability”.

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      I always understood BYOB to be the province of college parties, where nobody had enough money to foot the bill for a range of cocktails for the thirsty mob of invitees and crashers — it was something you grew out of as you got older. When I was young (we’ll round it to 50 yrs ago), my parents had cocktail parties (typically 6-10 couples) in their home about once a month, and were out being entertained by some other couple in the same gang, in their home, once or twice a month. Hours were 6-8pm, light food served, and most people went on to dinner out or at home afterwards. Those parties were never BYOB, though some might bring a ‘hostess gift’ of a bottle. And they dressed up: men in jackets & ties, women in ‘better’ dresses and heels.

      I still love having guests over for at-home cocktail time, 6:30 – 8pm, then out to dinner with my guests afterwards. (I don’t do dinner in for groups very much.)

    3. Bugs

      I’d further speculate that the much lower tolerance for driving under the influence, along with lower limits on blood alcohol levels, have also been a part of this. Those are not bad things at all – but they do make people think twice before going out for a night on the town.

      People drank a lot back then. And some died behind the wheel. Or under them.

      1. Randall Flagg

        And bars being held liable for over serving drunks who then killed somebody driving home.
        And insurance premiums rising for those bars.
        And the introduction of new technologies that allowed people to have more entertainment staying home.

    4. The Rev Kev

      It should be mentioned that that cocktail party set were put of a community having fun and using some spare cash to pay for it. But nowadays we have been atomized, there is no spare cash anymore for workers and in any case, lots of them have to work two or three jobs now whereas in the past that cocktail set only needed the one which gave them a lot of free time for such events.

    5. CanCyn

      If I had to guess, I’d suggest the fall of the cocktail and dinner parties at home came with the rise of both halves of the couple working. No longer did the woman (let’s face it, it was usually the woman back in the 60s) have time to make hors d’ oeuvres, dinner., etc. Hosting a party, dinner or not, is a lot of work.

    6. Amateur Socialist

      I hadn’t seen this cited, so I will: In the 70s it wasn’t considered child abuse to leave younger siblings with an adolescent for the evening. My parents left my 5 siblings with me on weekend nights to go out and I was grateful to get the .35/hourly or whatever it was. This wasn’t considered controversial or risky like it would be today.

      No child care means everybody drinks at home.

    1. John

      Has no one figured out that DJT is following his eternal play book when confronted with the courts: delay, delay delay and sue, sue, sue. Are the courts incapable of any gear except dead slow and then still slower? DJT maneuvering to push a day of reckoning into a future as distant from the present as possible is not news.

      It is just possible that, were the media to forego the “views” and “clicks” and the sundry proceedings to meander along in the gloaming, actual information might replace the pablum. The 24-hour ‘news’ cycle is speeding the disappearance of useful and timely information as babble and sensation vie for attention.

  7. Harold

    Reminiscent of Karl August Wittfogel’s theory of Oriental Despotism (1957) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_Despotism
    His theory of “hydraulic societies” involved top-down forced labor, managed by a large bureaucracies, rather than bottom-up, self-organization, and it met with much controversy and criticism. But I read it and found it interesting.

  8. Ghost in the Machine

    Regarding the lack of adult night life, I would imagine the lack of time (2 jobs, answering email at night etc.), being tired and stressed, lack of friends, abundant media, and less financial security would all contribute to its fall.

      1. Nordberg

        doug, I was thinking the same thing. Lowering the BAC and increasing the penalty for DUI. I know I am much more conscious about it than my parents ever were at my age.

    1. Pelham

      That’s my guess, as well. Add in long commutes. I was aware of the world of nightlife when I was a youngster and, at that time, expected I’d be joining the fun as an adult. But for whatever combination of reasons, I found myself years later completely wiped at the end of the workday, which was fine because adult entertainment had vanished.

      1. JBird4049

        I would note that the disappearance of adult night life seems to be just as the disappearance of the rest of the web of social clubs, old line charities, hobby groups, bowling leagues, etc seems to have started right around the early, maybe late, 1970s.

        People complain about people being social isolated, but even a few years ago when my better half was still alive, finding places that were not very expensive, dive bars, or very senior seniors was difficult. Museums are getting even more expensive and sports are insane. If it wasn’t for the remnants of the jazz seen in the Bay Area, it would have been almost impossible. Even with the internet, it helps to have a social life to be to find anything, and if your physical health is not too good, actives like dancing is a problem.

        It is a mess, isn’t? Destroy everything that is affordable. Make unaffordable everything else. Make living too expensive. Allow only the most profitable venues to stay open. And then wonder why we are all hermits.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Zoos used to be called the poor man’s entertainment once upon a time. Just took a look at prices for Toronga Park zoo in Sydney and they are anything but. And just to put the boot in, they are now cashless as well. Gaach!

  9. Pat

    Hmmm. Using the blind item standard, if the Diddy evidence is useful they must be waiting for JayZ to become eclipsed. (The blind items for JayZ for the last couple of years are strongly reminiscent of Diddy’s during from the decade of the shooting and Lopez.)
    To put it another way, even the most mainstream of the music industry is known to be corrupt, that Rap might be more overt about garnering and using power wouldn’t be surprising. But if the choice is Diddy blackmailing politicians or the Feds, my bet is Diddy would be the more publicly benign of the two choices.

  10. Roger Blakely

    RE: COVID-19 and Its Ophthalmic Manifestations

    I am thoroughly convinced of this. I wear an industrial respirator in all indoor public spaces. However, the SARS-CoV-2 that lands on my eyes is my exposure. I have racoon eyes. I have skin rash on my eyelids. I have conjunctivitis.

    I ask Osterholm, “Why I should get a booster shot if I am daily exposed to each new variant?”

    1. Terry Flynn

      Sorry to hear that. I have Long COVID and loads of old and new autoimmune conditions and inflammations have flared up. Interestingly, my Blepharitis in my eyelids is no worse. However, since diagnosis in 2009, to avoid repeated bacterial eye infections I have had to use a dedicated flannel to wash my eyes vigorously daily and use Blephagel regularly.

      I am wondering if my “under-performing” tear ducts plus washing routine plus spectacles have stopped the COVID infections getting to me via my eyes (though they got to me somehow).

  11. Jason Boxman

    On the fifteen year pathetic state of the Florida Democrat party. I remember hearing at Orange County Young Dems about our big registration advantage. Even then they couldn’t capitalize. The college Dems were all in for Obama. Even then it was a dumpster fire. Grayson did win in formerly FL-8. But central Florida was mostly centrist style hack Democrats. The Puerto Rican community was huge there. I’m sure still is. I don’t miss any of it. Actually the worst rent inequity of almost any city, up there with Boston!

    1. Belle

      I remember when Grayson tried for a Senate run. The Democratic establishment backed an ex-Republican, who got the nomination and refused to debate them. Marco Rubio wound up getting back in as a result.
      Side note: Dan Webster, who defeated Grayson in 2014, got hammered by Grayson over his ties to Bill Gothard, noted Fundamentalist. In response, the media criticized Grayson for that. Now, Gothard’s sexual assaults have been exposed (Not just his sexism), but nobody (I think) is criticizing Webster…

  12. Jason Boxman

    I still remember. When I got the original COVID shots, getting the v-safe handout. And I could report any symptoms or side effects. Seemed legit. And they’re hiding all of that. What absolute scum CDC, Walensky and Maskless Mandy are. Why would anyone trust these people?

    Not a serious country. Must assume your government is lying to protect capitalism by default. At least you know where you stand.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Trump warns: “lunatic” Biden could start World War III’

    He’s not wrong. Nobody talked about using nukes until Biden came along and now for the past two or more years all these countries like France are piping up about their nukes and using them to throw their weight around.

    1. notabanker

      The single biggest reason I voted for him over no fly zone HRC in 2016. Those people are dangerous psychopaths that are completely unpredictable. While Trump is a narcissist, which has its own issues, I truly believe he instinctively understands that nuclear war is very bad for the real estate business.

      1. britzklieg

        Agreed… Reagan got nukes right too, regardless of his motives. It’s the only thing he did get right (and no, I didn’t vote for him).

  14. Acacia

    Enshittification File

    So, my bank (BMO) decided to block bill pay on my account, because a check looked “suspicious”. They didn’t tell me they were doing this, of course. Access to my account, per usual, but not to bill pay, contacts, etc. The latter now blocked.

    Six phone calls and one month later, they still(!) haven’t managed to unblock it. Each time, I am told that it takes “3 to 5 business days” to unblock bill pay. Why this is so slow is a mystery to me, but then a lot of things about the glacial pace of USian banking are a mystery to me.

    Through this, I have learned that my bank outsources all of this to a company called Fiserv. The “3 to 5 business days” is because they must send a request to the “back office” — except it’s not really a back office. It’s a whole different company. The delay also makes me wonder if Fiserv operations are even in North America. BMO still has its own fraud department (I know, because I had to speak with them, prove my identity, etc.) but the actual account management appears to be handled by Fiserv.

    My account was formerly with Bank of the West, but then BMO bought them out. AFAICT, BMO is one of those “engulf and devour” type corporations that has grown mainly through acquisitions.

    Aside from worrying about how I am going to get these overdue bills paid, I am wondering: if BMO is outsourcing account management, is BMO really a bank?

    Or, are they just a “bank” in name only?

  15. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Here’s the final paragraph from Carl Beijer’s essay on Trump’s stance on abortion and the Democrats response. So far, he seems to be correct.

    “The irony, however, is that Democrats are probably far too committed to calling Trump the ultimate extremist to take advantage of his real weakness on abortion. Biden could start pumping out tweets about ‘Triangulating Trump’ and ridicule his pathetic attempts to deceive his base; he could also take aggressive and decisive action on legalizing abortion and make Trump look timid and uncertain by comparison. Instead, however, Democrats are more likely to run cover for Trump by exaggerating his ambitions on abortion in an effort to scare voters — even though this will predictably help him with voters who think he isn’t ambitious enough.”


    1. Pat

      It isn’t just that the preferred storyline on Trump is extremism. That applies to everything not just abortion, even when they end up describing two opposing positions. No, it is that the
      Democrats are as, or perhaps even more, triangulating on abortion. It is a favored fund raising and get out the vote tactic for them, but they have no real commitment to it, back corporate friendly candidates over those committed to reproductive rights and avoid direct action, even when possible. The history shows they had multiple opportunities to codify Roe and didn’t do it. But we have even more evidence from recent history, one of the most glaring being their total inaction over the weeks between the leak that Roe was going to be overturned and it actually happening. They aren’t even a moving target on this it is so SOP.
      They are just fooling voters from the other side of the position.

      1. undercurrent

        To the dems, Roe v. Wade takes a backseat to israel v. Palestinians. You have to know that the interests of israel always trumps the interests of ordinary americans, however defined, and that most americans are indifferent to the non-hostile takeover of their government by zionists. The genocide in Gaza has torn open the curtain, and laid bare the homicidal tendencies of the US government, and too many of its citizens.

        1. Pat

          Roe v. Wade also takes a backseat to corporate interests especially large donor section interests. This is where the anti choice candidates and judges slip through, especially if there is overlap with the AIPAC crowd.
          (The judge confirmations are where we see the reverse bad guy strategy. They don’t hold up much promised legislation, they provide the needed vote(s) to confirm anti choice/anti labor/anti consumer nominees because they will always support business especially ones who give generously with absolutely no pushback from Dem leadership even to supporting them if they are primaried.)

  16. Wukchumni

    Watching the basketball finals, and noticed an interesting thing, most of the players don’t have any tattoos…

    Has the worm turned on illustrated men & women?

  17. DG

    YES!!! Power to the People!

    “…let’s be clear that nobody’s talking about empowering the working class, as a class, certainly not Trump.”

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