2:00PM Water Cooler 5/10/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more shortly on election 2024. There was a lot to get my head around.

Bird Song of the Day

Fulvous-crowned Scrub-Tyrant, Palo Blanco, Venezuela. “Natural song. Also prominently heard are Synallaxis albescens and ‘Oficialito?'”

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) New Swing state summary.

(2) Hillary Clinton on the ignorance of youth.

(3) Trump will love jail.

(4) Potential nasal spray, and you’ll never guess from whom.

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Look for the Helpers

“Words with Friends” [Commonweal]. “[The Oxford English Dictionary] is the gold standard of academic English-language lexicography and a key tool behind many research projects into the history of English, including many other dictionaries…. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, as it was originally called, expounded a new model for dictionaries—the historical dictionary—teaching readers, many for the first time, to think of linguistic form and meaning as historically mutable. Words change—this is the OED’s great lesson, taught one dictionary entry at a time. Such change is documented and illuminated by quotations from historical and contemporary sources….. A dictionary, said [Richard Chenevix Trench], ‘is an inventory of the language.’ As for the lexicographer: ‘It is no task of the maker of [a dictionary] to select the good words of a language…. The business which he has undertaken is to collect and arrange all the words, whether good or bad.’ Or, as the OED’s exuberant founding editor, philologist Frederick Furnivall, said, ‘Fling our doors wide! All, all, not one, but all must enter.’ Furnivall was talking about words, of course, but he might have been talking about people as well. For the OED was created with the help of many hands, male and female, English and foreigner, living inside Britain and all over the world. These readers—incredibly helpful, unpaid volunteers who read what they wanted, but in some cases accepted rather exacting assignments—helped make the OED what it is: a singular treasure trove of English-language history.”

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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).


“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 half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 10:

National results now moving Trump’s way. All of the Swing States (more here) are now in Trump’s column, including Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania leans more Trump this week than last. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. Now, if either candidate starts breaking away in points, instead of tenths of a point…. NOTE I changed the notation: Up and down arrows for increases or decreases over last week, circles for no change. Red = Trump. Blue would be Biden if he were leading anywhere, but he isn’t.

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Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Stormy Daniels delivers shocking testimony about Trump, but trial hinges on business records” [Associated Press]. “But despite all the talk over what may have happened in that hotel room, despite the discomfiting testimony by the adult film actor that she consented to sex in part because of a “power imbalance,” the case against Trump doesn’t rise or fall on whether her account is true or even believable. It’s a trial about money changing hands — business transactions — and whether those payments were made to illegally influence the 2016 election.” This is not really correct. Bragg’s two layer architecture, as I show here, requires him to convert the business records violations into felonies by showing that they were performed in service to a second crime, the object offense. Illegally influencing the 2016 election isn’t necessarily one of those offenses. More: “At the time of the payment to Daniels, Trump and his campaign were reeling from the October 2016 publication of the never-before-seen 2005 ‘Access Hollywood’ footage in which he boasted about grabbing women without their permission. Prosecutors have argued that the political firestorm over the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape hastened Cohen’s payment to keep Daniels from going public with her claims that could further hurt Trump in the eyes of female voters.” I would very much like to understand how that’s illegal, i.e. the object offense. More: “The tape rattled the Republican National Committee leadership, and ‘there were conversations about how it would be possible to replace him as the candidate if it came to that,’ according to testimony from Madeleine Westerhout, a Trump aide who was working at the RNC when the recording leaked.” • So a bunch of staffers are running around with their hair on fire, which is fine, that’s their job. But the issue — members of the New York Bar please correct me — isn’t what the staffers thought; it’s what Trump thought. So far as I know, the only direct statement we have that suggests Trump’s intent is from Hope Hicks: He wanted to protect Melania. That’s not the sought-for object offense. I also find it hard to believe that Trump was worried at all; he is, after all, in the business of managing and selling his reputation, and sexually, “he’s no angel.” I would speculate Trump thought voters, never mind the staffers — let alone dogpiling liberal Democrats performing aghastitude — had his peccadillos priced in. And in the event, he was correct, and the staffers and the liberal Democrats were wrong. Caveat that I have yet to pile through the docket.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Judge denies motion for a mistrial in Donald Trump hush money case after defense lawyers claim Stormy Daniels’ ‘spanking’ testimony and no condom claim were ‘prejudicial'” [Daily Mail]. “Judge Merchan tore into the defense lawyers while delivering his decision to deny the motion for a mistrial. He said he had gone back through the testimony transcript and made sure no one had violated his guidelines for questioning the witness. He said he was satisfied with his review but he did not stop there. Merchan pointed out that Blanche had denied there had ever been a sexual encounter between Trump and Daniels in his opening statement, and by bringing it up, Blanche had put the jury in position to have to choose who they would believe. The judge basically blamed the defense, saying the more Daniels could provide specific details about the encounter, the more the jury could weigh whether to give her credit. Merchan agreed some of the details of the testimony by Daniels did not need to come out and specifically referenced her claim Trump did not wear a condom, but he slammed Trump’s lawyers for not objecting. Before denying the mistrial motion, Merchan also rejected the defense’s motion for the gag order to be modified. Blanche had argued against the gag order in light of Daniels’ testimony stating Trump ‘needs an opportunity to respond to the American people.’ He noted Daniels was no longer a witness. But prosecutor Chris Conroy argued that modifying the gag order mid-trial would signal to future witnesses that they could ‘be at risk as well.’ Merchan dismissed the gag order request that Trump be allowed to talk about Daniels. ‘My concern is not just protecting Ms. Daniels,’ the judge said. ‘My concern is protecting the integrity of these proceedings as a whole.'”• I don’t think Merchan is wrong on this.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Trump arrives at hush money trial as prosecutors prepare for final witnesses” [Reuters]. “Prosecutors have called 16 witnesses, and said they could rest their case by May 21. Last month, defense lawyer Susan Necheles said prosecutors had provided them a list of 20 potential witnesses. They may not call all those witnesses, and prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said in court on Thursday they do not plan to call McDougal.” • That to me hints that the prosecution doesn’t regard the Stormy Daniels testimony as a success. Why not pile on with McDougal?

Trump (R) (Smith/Cannon): “Unredactions Reveal Early White House Involvement in Trump Documents Case” [Julie Kelly, RealClearInvestigation]. Missed this one. “Top Biden administration officials worked with the National Archives to develop Special Counsel Jack Smith’s case against Donald Trump involving the former president’s alleged mishandling of classified material, according to recently unsealed court documents in the case pending in southern Florida…. The new disclosures indicate the Department of Justice was in touch with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) during much of 2021, undermining the DOJ’s claims that it became involved in the matter only after the Archives sent it a criminal referral on February 9, 2022, based on the findings of records with ‘classified markings’ in 15 boxes of materials Trump gave to the Archives a month prior. The court exhibits, which were compiled by Trump’s defense lawyers and kept under seal until last week, also show that Deputy White House Counsel Jonathan Su regularly communicated with Archive officials. Although Biden himself is not mentioned in the exhibits, the active participation of Su and other high-ranking White House officials raises questions about whether Biden was forthright when he told ’60 Minutes’ he wasn’t involved in the investigation.” • Probably not, actually. What happens if he blurts something out?

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Trump (R): “2024 Election: A Certain Fatalism Sets In” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. “I end with a word to Trump foes who hope he’ll be found guilty in the New York case and sentenced to prison time. They think this will finish him off. It will not. Donald Trump doesn’t know it, but he will love prison. He’ll be the most specially treated convict in American history, better than the mob bosses in “Goodfellas.” He’ll be in his cell with his phone—he’ll get one—live-streaming and live-Truthing; he’ll be posing thumbs up in his uniform surrounded by gangbangers and white collar hoodlums. He’ll philosophize about how a lot of people in prison don’t deserve to be there, the system’s rigged, he’ll consider pardons. All convicts tell you that they were railroaded, but this will be new to Trump, he’ll believe them. He’ll be the king of Rikers. He’ll say he’s learned a lot and the guards are all for Trump and he’s going to get out and reform the justice system. It will be fabulous for him. He’ll put himself as Martin Luther King and he’ll be writing Truths From the Birmingham Jail. People forget: He loves this, loves the game, the drama, and the devil takes care of his own.” • Musical interlude:

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“Trump pressed oil executives to give $1 billion for his campaign, people in industry say” [Politico]. “Former President Donald Trump asked oil industry executives last month to donate $1 billion to aid his campaign to retake the White House, three people familiar with the conversation told POLITICO — a request that campaign finance experts said appeared troubling but is probably legal. The request, first reported Thursday by The Washington Post, occurred during a meeting of industry executives at the former president’s home in Palm Beach, Florida…. One person not at the dinner — Dan Eberhart, chief executive of the Denver-based oil company Canary LLC — said participants told him that Trump asked the attendees to contribute a combined $1 billion for his campaign. Two industry representatives whose companies attended the meeting confirmed the amount to POLITICO. Trump’s request is ‘shocking,’ but it would almost certainly not break the law, said Meredith McGehee, an independent expert on government ethics and campaign finance. Unless Trump wrote on a napkin during the meeting an exact amount of money he wanted deposited in a specific campaign vehicle in exchange for a specific policy goal, there’s little chance it would violate bribery laws as currently interpreted by the Supreme Court, McGehee said…. Another campaign finance expert expressed doubts that Trump’s behavior violated the law. ‘Isn’t that what campaigning is?’ Bradley Smith, chair of the Institute for Free Speech and former chair of the Federal Election Commission, said of Trump’s ask to the oil executives. ‘Certainly if one is an office holder and one promises a specific federal action like, ‘You’ll get this permit,’ or something like that, you have an issue. But to make a sort of general pledge, ‘You’ve got to give me lots of money because I’m really going to help out your business,’ it’s fine,’ he said. Smith added: ‘It’s a minor difference of degree from Joe Biden saying, ‘Hey, young people, vote for me, I’m going to forgive your student loans.”

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Biden (D): “Biden’s general election strategy: Less is more” [NBC]. “As President Joe Biden ramps up his re-election effort, his campaign is also scaling back how much he says on the trail, part of a larger new strategy to hone a sharper message he’ll take into the general election, according to Biden aides…. ‘There’s a strategic advantage at this point in the race to boiling down your message to the three or four most salient, compelling arguments for why President Biden should be re-elected,’ said TJ Ducklo, the Biden campaign’s senior adviser for communications. ‘That will often translate to the stump [speech] being whittled down to its sharpest, most dynamic form. That’s what you’re seeing.’ The approach also has the appearance of a strategy aimed at minimizing the potential for Biden to make mistakes in a razor-close election. Some of Biden’s verbal missteps have occurred when he’s talking at length, veers off the prepared text or answers a reporter’s question when that wasn’t part of the plan. Shorter, crisper remarks from Biden are part of his campaign’s broader strategy of having him appear more in smaller settings that the president’s aides believe serve him better than large, traditional rallies with voters.” • Large, traditional rallies with voters, where there are things like stairs, and lots and lots of cameras.

Biden (D): “Biden claims inflation was 9% when he took office – it was 1.4%” [FOX]. With handy charts. • I would swear this story also included Biden’s claim that Trump was responsible for a million Covid deaths, when (from memory) 400,000 deaths happened on Trump’s watch, and 700,000 on Biden’s. Seems more important than the inflation rate.

Biden (D): “Appeals court denies Hunter Biden’s effort to dismiss gun charges” [Just the News]. “A federal appeals court Thursday dismissed a request from Hunter Biden to have gun charges against him dismissed before his upcoming trial, according to a new court filing…. The Trump-appointed judge disagreed with Biden’s arguments that Special Counsel David Weiss – who is also prosecuting President Biden’s son on separate tax charges in California – violated the plea deal and diversion agreement he negotiated with the the Justice Department that would have granted him broad immunities.”

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Haley (R): “Donald Trump still has a huge Nikki Haley problem” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “Despite [Haley] dropping out of the race after Super Tuesday, her ghost continues to haunt Trump in some very significant and, for him, ominous ways…. On Tuesday night, Indiana Republican primary voters unsurprisingly awarded Trump all 58 of their delegates. But somewhat surprisingly, more than 20% of them voted against him. While he handily won 78.3% of the vote, the 128,000 Republican voters who instead pulled the lever for Nikki Haley sent the presumptive nominee a serious message: ‘We are not with you.’ Lest you think that an anomaly, late last month 83.4% of Republicans in Pennsylvania voted for Trump. But significantly, 16.6%, or roughly 158,000, voted for Haley. There’s more. In Washington State, Haley won 19.3% — 150,832 votes — of the Republican primary vote. In Arizona, she won 17.8%. In Illinois, she won 14.5%. In Ohio, she won 14.4%. This was all after Haley had officially dropped out of the race…. [T]here’s evidence a single issue is helping to drive those numbers: abortion. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll of seven battleground states, 39% of suburban women ‘cite abortion as a make-or-break issue for their vote — making it by far the most motivating issue for the group.'” • The article doesn’t show that these Haley voters are suburban women voters, but it’s not a stretch.

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Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. campaign barges into Trump territory” [Washington Times]. “A Suffolk University poll released Monday showed Mr. Kennedy drawing 8% of support among registered voters. Mr. Trump was left with less than a one-half percentage lead over Mr. Biden. Mr. Kennedy’s supporters self-define as 13% liberal, 55% moderate and 27% conservative, according to the poll. ‘By that metric alone, one would think RFK draws more conservative voters away from Trump,’ said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. Mr. Kennedy’s supporters also include 14% Hispanic voters, 13% young voters and 14% independent voters. ‘Overall, RFK voters tend to be more moderate and conservative, but in the categories RFK really does well in, he tends to hurt Biden, especially among young voters and Hispanics,’ he said.”

Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appears to surprise his running mate with his position on abortion” [NBC]. “Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in an interview released Wednesday that he would allow women to have abortions at full term if that was their choice, the latest answer he has given on abortion policy — and one that provoked a surprised reaction from his running mate. During an interview with podcaster Sage Steele, the former ESPN host asked Kennedy what the limit should be for women to have an abortion. ‘Should there be a limit or are you saying all the way up to full term, a woman has a right to have an abortion?’ she said. Kennedy answered that he doesn’t think anyone would want to do that at eight months of pregnancy, but abortion should be out of the hands of the government and in the hands of women…. The comments appeared to come as a surprise to Nicole Shanahan, Kennedy’s running mate. A week prior to the release of Kennedy’s conversation with Steele, Shanahan was featured in a podcast episode with the host. Steele asked Shanahan if she agreed with Kennedy’s belief that a woman should have the option to have an abortion at full term, to which Shanahan responded with surprise. ‘My understanding with Bobby’s position is that, you know, every abortion is a tragedy, is a loss of life,’ Shanahan said. ‘My understanding is that he absolutely believes in limits on abortion, and we’ve talked about this. I do not think, I don’t know where that came from.'” • Not helpful from Shanahan!

Kennedy (I): “State by state, RFK Jr. pushes for nationwide ballot access” [CNN]. “Kennedy is officially on the ballot in five states: battleground Michigan, Utah, Hawaii, Delaware and California. The campaign says it’s gathered enough signatures to put Kennedy on the ballot in two more battlegrounds, North Carolina and Nevada, as well as Ohio, Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa. The campaign has adopted a wide range of methods meant to find the easiest way to navigate the often disparate and convoluted processes to meet different ballot qualification criteria in each state. Volunteers have collected signatures outside sporting events, on college campuses, at festivals and state fairs and more across the country. The campaign has even drafted off the exposure of more prominent political events: Volunteers collected enough signatures to appear on the New Hampshire ballot by canvassing voters at polling places on the day of the Granite State’s presidential primary in January. The campaign typically aims to collect at least 60% more signatures than the required amount in each state, a campaign official told CNN, to avoid invalidated signatures undermining Kennedy’s petition. Kennedy has also reached out to minor parties with ballot eligibility in some states to circumvent the signature-gathering process altogether, making strange bedfellows of Kennedy and some fringe political groups.”

Kennedy (I): “Are R.F.K. Jr. Signature Gatherers Misleading New Yorkers for Ballot Access?” [New York Times]. “More than a half-dozen New York City residents, including two who are journalists at The New York Times and were approached randomly, have described similar encounters with signature gatherers for Mr. Kennedy in Brooklyn over the past three weeks. In each case, the resident was approached by a clipboard-wielding petitioner and asked to support ‘independent’ or ‘progressive’ candidates, or, in one case, to help get Democrats and President Biden on the ballot. In three cases, the petitioners said that they were being paid for the work, the people who were approached said; in four cases, the petitioners said they had been told by a supervisor not to show or mention Mr. Kennedy’s name. Descriptions and photographs of the petitioners suggest that they are at least four different people. The petitioners themselves could not be identified or reached for comment. In each of the encounters described to The Times, the names of Mr. Kennedy and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, were hidden by the paper being folded. Only the slate of electors — the little-known people designated to vote for the candidates in the Electoral College — was visible in fine print at the top.” The story includes a photo. More: “Ira Pearlstein, a lawyer, said he was approached twice near Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a petition folded to hide Mr. Kennedy’s name at the top.Credit…Ira Pearlstein. Most of the New Yorkers who spoke with The Times have experience in law or politics, including two who have worked in Democratic politics.” • Oh.

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“Trump team throws out GOP plan and builds a ‘leaner’ 2024 operation” [WaPo]. “Trump’s 2024 campaign has traded Star Wars metaphors for talk of a “leaner” and “more efficient” operation, with less real estate, fewer employees and greater dependence on outside groups…. The original RNC plan for the state of Georgia, reviewed by The Washington Post, called for hiring 12 regional field directors in April and 40 field organizers by the end of May, in addition to eventually opening 20 offices and a community center in the College Park, a mostly Black suburb of Atlanta. Arizona was slotted to receive six regional field directors, seven offices and 23 field organizers by the end of May. Party leaders had drafted similar road maps for other battleground states before Ronna McDaniel was replaced as chairwoman. The RNC’s plan at the start of this year was also focused on early voting, the plans show, though the Bank Your Vote website — once the centerpiece of the effort — has been offline for weeks as the party retools the program. “It is full speed ahead,” said James Blair, the national political director for both the Trump campaign and the RNC. ‘Stay tuned for more on the program.’… Trump’s aides say they will build a more narrowly targeted volunteer field program — using their successful effort in the Iowa caucuses as a template — while taking advantage of a recent Federal Election Commission ruling that will allow them to directly coordinate message and script plans with outside groups who have paid canvassing such as door-knocking. The operation is being run by LaCivita, Blair and Alex Latcham, a former White House deputy political director for Trump.”

“The secret to Republican victory in 2024 is hiding in plain sight” [Newt Gingrich, FOX]. “In fact, it hurts the Republican cause – and the elections of President Donald Trump and House and Senate Republicans – to focus narrowly on Nov. 5. The first election dates are Sept. 16 in Pennsylvania and then Sept. 20 in Minnesota and South Dakota. The next election days are Sept. 23 in Mississippi, and Sept. 24 in Missouri. There are 43 other states and the District of Columbia that follow with their early voting dates. Only Alabama and New Hampshire do not have early voting…. Here’s an example of why this matters: In 2022, the Republican Senate campaign in Pennsylvania was focused on Election Day in November. The campaign did not begin advertising until long after early voting had started. As a result, 40% of Pennsylvanians had already cast their ballots before the first major Republican ad had aired. This pattern was not unique to that race…. The Democrats have focused on early voting in large part because they want to be able to identify everyone who has not yet turned out. That way, they can focus on phone calls, direct mail, text messages, and even visits to remind those voters that they should vote. They keep it going until the people vote, and their name comes off the list…. This long campaign approach has proven for the last decade that it is more likely to win close elections than the focus on the federally designated official Election Day.” • I hate this so much (and I also hate Gingrich being write. If these are the rules….).

Clinton Legacy

Not sure who Clinton is helping here. Certainly not Biden:

Clinton’s (self-serving) views on Camp David are contested, to say the least.

2020 Post Mortem

“The long, strange political shadow of 2020” [Nate Silver, Silver Bulletin]. “[I]t might seem strange that Donald Trump is reprising Ronald Reagan by literally asking voters whether they are better off than they were four years ago. Four years ago was 2020, one of the most miserable years in modern American history…. But while Democrats like to treat this as a sort of ‘gotcha’, I’m not so sure it’s a bad strategy. One theory, as Paul Krugman writes, is that Trump hopes voters will remember the ‘before times’ — that is, before the pandemic. I have an alternative theory, however: Trump is happy enough to let voters think about 2020 because he thinks they’ll blame Biden and Democrats for the things they didn’t like about it. That’s completely unfair to Biden, of course, who wasn’t president yet. But politics isn’t always so literal. Even with Trump in charge, 2020 was probably the most left-wing moment in the US in my lifetime.1 Since then, the share of voters who say Democrats are too liberal has risen by 7 points. And Trump is counting on a continued backlash against the left. … Consider what were perhaps the three most important political questions at the time: first, the fiscal response to the pandemic; second, the public health response; and third, the protests and accompanying ‘racial reckoning.’ For the most part, it was the left’s preferences that prevailed on these.” • Liberals, Nate. Liberals. Not the left.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lysistrata” (podcast) [In Our Time]. “Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristophanes’ comedy in which the women of Athens and Sparta, led by Lysistrata, secure peace in the long-running war between them by staging a sex strike. To the men in the audience in 411BC, the idea that peace in the Peloponnesian War could be won so easily was ridiculous and the thought that their wives could have so much power over them was even more so. However Aristophanes’ comedy also has the women seizing the treasure in the Acropolis that was meant to fund more fighting in an emergency, a fund the Athenians had recently had to draw on. They were in a perilous position and, much as they might laugh at Aristophanes’ jokes, they knew there were real concerns about the actual cost of the war in terms of wealth and manpower.”


“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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“This nasal spray could be a game-changer in COVID-19 prevention” [KnowRidge]. “Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have made an exciting breakthrough that could transform how we protect against COVID-19. Their research focuses on a new substance called a ‘stapled lipopeptide’ that could be used as a nasal spray to prevent or treat the virus. This discovery has been so impactful that it has already moved into human trials. A stapled lipopeptide is essentially a small piece of the virus’s structure, modified to be more stable and able to block the virus from entering cells. This stability means it doesn’t need to be kept cold, making it easier to use and distribute than some current COVID-19 vaccines. The idea behind this new approach is simple yet powerful. Unlike vaccines, which teach the immune system to fight the virus, this nasal spray attacks the virus directly. This makes it a potentially excellent option for people whose immune systems are weak and can’t handle the virus on their own. Loren Walensky, the lead researcher of this study, has spent nearly two decades working on stapled peptides. His experience has been crucial in steering this research from a concept to a potential real-world solution. Before COVID-19, his team was already exploring how to use these compounds against other viruses like HIV and RSV. The research team’s recent experiments in hamsters have been promising. They found that animals treated with the nasal spray didn’t just avoid severe sickness; they also had lower amounts of the virus in their bodies. This suggests that the spray not only protects individual animals from getting sick but could also reduce the spread of the virus. Given the way COVID-19 has evolved, with new variants emerging, there’s a constant race to update vaccines. But the part of the virus targeted by this new treatment has stayed the same even as other parts have changed. This could mean that the nasal spray remains effective without needing frequent updates. This potential treatment comes from a collaboration between Dana-Farber and Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories.” • Interesting, but wait. “Loren Walensky.” Rochelle’s husband?! That certainly wasn’t on my Bingo card…


“What You Need to Know About FLiRT, the Latest COVID Variants” [AARP]. “No doubt we’ve seen some strange nicknames for variants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — Arcturus, Pirola and Eris, to name a few. According to an explainer posted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, FLiRT is an acronym for some of the variants’ spike protein mutations. The FLiRT variants, which are still in the omicron family, appear to be highly transmissible, meaning they spread easily. However so far, they do not appear to cause more severe disease, Schaffner says.” • The “strange nicknames” were actually astronomical terms developed by a citizen scientists; but now that the ID goons at Infectious Diseases Society of America have taken over, we get cutesy, harmless-seeming names like FLiRT. “Flirt” with what? Death and disability? [Pounds head on desk.]

“New COVID ‘FLiRT’ variants are spreading nationwide” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “While symptoms and severity seem to be about the same as previous COVID strains, the new FLiRT variants appear to be more transmissible, said infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Murphy. ‘A new, more contagious variant is out there,’ said Murphy, executive director of Northwestern University’s Institute for Global Health and a professor of infectious diseases at the Feinberg School of Medicine. ‘COVID-19 is still with us, and compared to flu and RSV, COVID-19 can cause significant problems off-season.'” What “off-season”? Covid isn’t seasonal! More: “One FLiRT variant, KP.2, is estimated to account for roughly a quarter of recent COVID cases, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from late April.” No, it hasn’t. That’s the model [pounds head on desk].

Sequelae: Covid

“I’ve Noticed Something Strange About All the Thirtysomething Men I’m Hooking Up With. What Gives?” [Salon]. From the “How to Do It” advice column: “[M]y question mostly revolves around erectile dysfunction in the 30-plus age group. Since my divorce, I’ve met a few guys with mixed intentions (initially just for hook-ups and now I’m looking for something more long-term again). I’ve slept with four men and three of them have had an issue with getting or staying hard.” And the answer includes: “(One weird, and relatively new, factor that could potentially be at play is an apparent link between COVID-19 and erectile dysfunction. There is no conclusive research yet, but one study found a significant association between prior COVID-19 infection and a new diagnosis of ED.)” • The advertisements — and not for vaccines, which have their own vascular problems, but respirators — write themselves. “Is wearing a mask too hard for you?” And so forth. 3M, get to it!

“Long COVID May Have Long-Term Impact on Surgery” [American College of Surgeons]. “More than 77% of people in the US had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 as of 2022. Of these, approximately 30% of survivors report having persistent symptoms classified as long COVID2 and 11% describe persistent symptoms at 6 months.” I reiterate than an appreciable percentage of the 23% of people not infected are working hard to stay that way, albeit invisibly. More: “[L]ong COVID, also referred to as postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, will remain a medical concern for the foreseeable future…. Given the risks associated with delirium and postoperative neurocognitive disorder, the preoperative cognitive impairment in long COVID patients may be a problem that obscures a clinician’s ability to recognize subtle symptoms and properly care for patients undergoing elective surgery. Recent studies have suggested that long COVID may be caused by a prolonged, subclinical infection leading to the establishment of a viral reservoir, potentially in the gut, that can modulate host immune responses and contribute to persistent cognitive symptoms. Surgery in such patients could result in unintentional spread of the SARS-CoV-2 viral reservoir to distal tissues such as the lung, where infection can cause severe damage.” • Ulp.

“An FDA-approved assay platform can detect biomarkers of neuronal and glial injury in the blood of COVID-19 patients” (preprint) [medRxiv]. “Employing assays approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist in detection of brain injury in mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients, this study demonstrated that the astroglial protein, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and the neuronal protein, ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase (UCH-L1) were positively associated with age in COVID-19 patients. Controlling for age, UCH-L1 and GFAP were significantly elevated in COVID-19 patients compared to non-COVID-19 controls, and UCH-L1, but not GFAP, was elevated in patients with neurological alterations. Data from this study are also compared to historical data on levels of UCH-L1 and GFAP in brain injured and healthy normal patients. These data support further studies of an FDA approved assay format that could facilitate timely development, validation, and FDA approval of blood tests to detect neuronal and glial cell injuries following infection by SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, appropriately validated blood tests could detect brain injury originating from any systemic pathogen.”

Elite Maleficence

“Airborne pathogens: controlling words won’t control transmission” [Trisha Greenhalgh, C Raina MacIntyre, Mark Ungrin, Julia M Wright, The Lancet]. “WHO has proposed new terminology for ‘pathogens that transmit through the air.’… Clear and accurate communication about how respiratory pathogens spread is of the utmost importance globally. Confusion on this topic abounds, especially in relation to COVID-19, but there is a simple explanation. Strong and consistent evidence for a predominantly airborne mode of transmission emerged early in the pandemic but was denied or downplayed by WHO and national public health bodies for years… This new WHO report appears to assume that because some infectious disease experts believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is airborne only ‘situationally’ (ie, under unusual conditions), the issue is therefore scientifically complex. An alternative explanation, which has been extensively discussed in the peer-reviewed literature, is that dominant voices in the infection prevention and control community did not grasp the basics of airborne transmission and failed to listen to people who did… The WHO report states that ‘it was important to balance scientific insights with availability, access, affordability and other practical realities in resource-limited settings.’ We agree, but affordability and availability challenges will not be solved by calling airborne transmission by another name. The report concludes: ‘[C]onsideration for use of the phrase ‘transmission through the air’… will require specific socialization and training to be understood by both health care workers and the general public.’ To have these new terms be taken up by various institutions and scholars, as the authors of the report propose, will be complex and unrealistic, requiring extensive retraining and the rewriting of hundreds of documents. Pragmatically, a new set of terms will add to existing confusion, not reduce it. Our time, energy, and resources would be better spent proceeding with long-established terms (eg, airborne and aerosol) that are well understood across the natural sciences to advance understanding of airborne transmission among clinicians and the public.” • Just another act of sabotage by WHO? (As I show here, WHO’s terminology has already been rendered obsolete by advances in aerosol science.)

* * *

Lambert here: Patient readers, I’m going to have to rethink this beautifully formatted table. Looks like Biobot data still functions, CDC variant data functions, ER visits are dead, New York hospitalization seems to be dead since 5/1 [No, it’s alive!], when CDC stopped mandatory hospital data collection, Walgreens functions, Cleveland Clinic functions, CDC traveler’s data functions, New York Times death data has stopped. (Note that the two metrics the hospital-centric CDC cared about, hospitalization and deaths, have both gone down). Ideally I would replace hospitalization and death data, but I’m not sure how. I might also expand the wastewater section to include (yech) Verily data, H5N1 if I can get it. Suggestions and sources welcome.

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot May 6: Regional[2] Biobot May 6:
Variants[3] CDC April 27 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data May 9: National [6] CDC April 27:
National[7] Walgreens May 6: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic May 4:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC May 11: Variants[10] CDC April 15:
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) FWIW, given that the model completely missed KP.2.

[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) The data is now updating again. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

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

[7] (Walgreens) Slight uptick.

[8] (Cleveland) Leveling out.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Flattens.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 dominates utterly. Still no mention of KP.2

[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.

* * *

Commodities: Dr. Copper:

Tech: “Apple apologizes for iPad ‘Crush’ ad that ‘missed the mark'” [The Verge]. • Quite the contrary; the ad hit the mark precisely.

Tech: “Tesla is being investigated for securities and wire fraud for self-driving claims” [The Verge]. “The Department of Justice is looking into whether Tesla committed securities and wire fraud around its self-driving vehicle claims, Reuters reports today, citing three sources familiar with the matter. The investigation, which was first reported in October 2022 but has been going on since at least late 2021, involves federal prosecutors in Washington and San Francisco who are examining whether Tesla executives misled consumers, investors, and regulators by making unsupported claims about its autonomous capabilities. Now, it appears that investigators are zeroing in on specific charges against the company: securities and wire fraud.”

Tech: “Is AI lying to me? Scientists warn of growing capacity for deception” [Guardian]. “The analysis, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, identifies wide-ranging instances of AI systems double-crossing opponents, bluffing and pretending to be human. One system even altered its behaviour during mock safety tests, raising the prospect of auditors being lured into a false sense of security. ‘As the deceptive capabilities of AI systems become more advanced, the dangers they pose to society will become increasingly serious,’ said Dr Peter Park, an AI existential safety researcher at MIT and author of the research. Park was prompted to investigate after Meta, which owns Facebook, developed a program called Cicero that performed in the top 10% of human players at the world conquest strategy game Diplomacy. Meta stated that Cicero had been trained to be ‘largely honest and helpful’ and to ‘never intentionally backstab’ its human allies. ‘It was very rosy language, which was suspicious because backstabbing is one of the most important concepts in the game,’ said Park. Park and colleagues sifted through publicly available data and identified multiple instances of Cicero telling premeditated lies, colluding to draw other players into plots and, on one occasion, justifying its absence after being rebooted by telling another player: ‘I am on the phone with my girlfriend.’ ‘We found that Meta’s AI had learned to be a master of deception,’ said Park.” • Meta? Really?d

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 10 at 1:50:45 PM ET.

Guillotine Watch

“Palm Beach in uproar as invading ‘new money’ transplants clash with old guard retirees and snowbirds over first luxury new condos in decades” [Daily Mail]. • So Palm Beach is on higher ground, then?

Class Warfare

“Richest Americans Now Pay Less Tax Than Working Class in Historical First” [Newsweek]. “In the 1960s, the 400 richest Americans paid more than half of their income in taxes, according to the Times. By 2018, America’s wealthiest individuals paid just 23 percent of their income in taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom half of income earners paid 24 percent of their income in taxes. Today, America’s richest people control a greater share of the country’s wealth than during the ‘Gilded Age of Carnegies and Rockefellers,’ the [New York Times] said, referring to a period of unprecedented wealth concentration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is partly due to significant decreases in taxes on the rich. Wealthy individuals once paid high taxes on corporate profits, which were typically their primary source of income, and estate taxes on wealth passed down to their heirs. However, these taxes have been significantly reduced in recent years—the top corporate tax rate in the U.S. was reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2018, and the estate tax now generates only a quarter of the tax revenues it raised in the 1970s, the Times noted. Another factor is that many modern billionaires live off their wealth rather than their incomes, unlike most ordinary Americans.” • Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending, but that doesn’t mean that Federal taxes can’t be used to throw a big net over the rich (IIRC, Yves recommends inheritance tax as being least gameable).

News of the Wired

“Revolutionary new drone feeds on electricity from power lines and flies forever” [BGR]. “Engineers working at the University of Southern Denmark have created a vampire drone capable of living forever. The drone is able to fly for extended periods of time without landing, as it can take breaks and leech power from nearby power lines to recharge its onboard batteries. The maneuver is made possible thanks to a docking mechanism, several sensors, and an AI system loaded on board. This allows the drone to recognize power lines and then attach to them each time it needs to recharge its batteries. The team told Fast Company that the vampire drone can ‘essentially live on the grid and operate completely autonomously for extended periods of time,’ all without needing a human to babysit it. Apparently, the concept of leeching power from power lines has been explored in one capacity or another since 2017, when Emad Ebeid, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, first proposed the idea.” More: “The team eventually settled on approaching the wire from the bottom, as it lowered the risk of collision. Then, the engineers fixed grippers to the drone, allowing it to attach itself to the power line and then securely attach itself to the wire. From there, the drone can recharge its batteries, and then unclamp itself once the batteries are fully charged.”

* * *

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 SR:

SR writes: “Mayapples: Native woodland plant that springs up jauntily every year.”

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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. antidlc

    Federal officials will fund farms’ protective measures to contain H5N1 bird flu

    The federal government will provide livestock farms as much as $28,000 apiece to bolster protective measures and testing for the avian flu virus spreading among dairy cows, officials said Friday.

    The Agriculture Department also allotted $98 million to aid states restricting the interstate movement of affected cattle, and health officials announced they would put an additional $101 million toward expanded surveillance, tests, treatments, and vaccines for the virus, which has now spread to at least 40 farms in nine states, with one confirmed human transmission.

    1. ambrit

      Sadly, Bing returns the Circle of Death when I try to link to the site. Hmmm…. Narrative control at work?

        1. ambrit

          Thanks. Hewing to “The Truth” was difficult and dangerous even back then. Today? May as well be a ‘real’ revolutionary.
          Good luck with the well. We had one for years when we lived “in the sticks.” We had a hand pump ready to put on the top of the riser pipe when the electric went out for more than a day; which happened a few times. Hope you are lucky and it is a “simple” electrical fault.

  2. Felicity

    Ex-Californian here. Gavin Newsom is the biggest POS in American politics. So glad we left before the California legislature imposed a 10 year ongoing income tax on people who leave. Good luck collecting that!

    Are Democrats really going to try and foist this incompetent lothario on the nation?

    Then there’s the problem of where to dump Willie Brown’s mattress.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Hillary Clinton on Middle East peace. The twiXt and its embedded video clip.

    Oh: “If Yasser Arafat had accepted [the BillClinton/EhudBarak peace proposal at Camp David], there would have been a Palestinian state now for about 24 years.”

    She starts off by saying that the student protesters don’t know much about history. Luckily, she doesn’t call them deplorables, man-spreaders, or fifth columnists. Just stupid. This from someone who now fancies herself a faculty member at Columbia U.

    But that “my husband” crap: Sheesh. She’s like RFKJr with his “my uncle,” “my father.”

    She’s on Morning Joe doing her ritual of “if only.” It’s like eavesdropping on a bunch of old fogeys as they reminisce. I sense that I’m listening in on nice parlor in some assisted-living manor. This isn’t politics. It is an illustration of the saying:

    There’s no fool like an old fool.

    Ironically, this is why Trump comes across as spontaneous and “new.” He’s a bog conservative, as Yves Smith called him, and he’s coming off as a fresh new young thing.

    Her insistence on invoking “my husband” is also a marker that she has no power base outside the 4 percent of the population that is august upper-middle-class white chicks. Hence, her harkening back to yesteryear, the Arkansas Camelot of Monica and Bill. So here she is, president-in-waiting, still without a power base and still evoking her romantic partner the alleged serial rapist.

    The mind boggles. Yet my vote for Jill Stein come November seems more likely than ever.

    1. nippersdad

      It really was old home week for her on Morning Joe. Hard to believe that Scarborough once made up part of the vanguard of Hillary’s “vast right wing conspiracy” theories even as they conspired together with Gingrich’s “Contract on America” to end the era of Big Government.

      Scarborough was featured on all of the lefty podcasts the other day saying that the Democratic base was stupid. Apparently that is going to be the talking point DeJure for the next six months, after which she can go into the woods and cry into her chardonnay over having lost to Trump, again.

      Something to look forward to.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      I knew it was about time for Mother to slither out of her crypt and say something asinine.

      1. Lena

        Hills is looking a bit more ‘refreshed’ than the last time she emerged. Getting ready for her closeup. Beware.

              1. ambrit

                Reuse that plot with the unfortunate Seth Rich as the “floater.” That would be a ‘film noir’ supreme.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Hey, can you imagine modern Hollywood making a film about Seth Rich’s story like they did once with Karen Silkwood? No, I can’t either.

                  1. ambrit

                    It would have to be an “indie” production shown on some non-compliant platform like the Mosfilm channel.

    3. digi_owl

      Trump is an uncouth “honest bastard” that give lip service to the plight of the flyover “deplorables”. And if he fails to deliver, it is because of a “hostile congress” or something similar.

    4. t

      The linked piece under the tweet has the author explaining why that Summit wasn’t as successful as Carter’s. Carter ran his summit, but at the Clinton summit

      the summit ran us.

    5. Mbartv

      Jill Stein is a card carrying phony. All in on Ukraine war, but talks about a “Peace College”

  4. Mikel

    “We found that Meta’s AI had learned to be a master of deception,’ said Park.” • Meta? Really?”

    Programmed to be…not learned.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Not even. Machine learning makes errors, but it doesn’t do so intentionally; the reason why the mistakes are described as hallucinations or lies is because the creators don’t understand what causes them (and ascribe some anthropomorphic traits to an otherwise inert object). “AI” doesn’t understand true or false, it only interprets based on frequency of occurrence, or its probability — in other words the “big lie repeated often enough,” does not just work on machines; it was almost perfectly designed for them.

      1. Mikel


        Sentient beings have hallucinations.
        So need another word to describe what is going on there and leave the marketing hype behind.

    2. fjallstrom

      It is an “AI existential safety researcher”, so in all likelyhood a “rationalists”, Effective Altruist or Longtermist (or all three). The AI industry prefers that sort of critique, because it shares and spreads the delusion that AI are sentient and therefore can “lie”. They aren’t and can’t, because it’s just autocomplete on a massive scale. There is no connection to a reality outside the model.

      When autocomplete become popular, a game was played where you just choose suggested words and see what you come up with. For example by choosing the middle word I get: “I think I have a new phone”

      But I don’t think that. Did my phone just lie to me? Is it sentient? No and no. It produced a number of words that were likely to follow each other. Which is impressive applied statistics. These “AI” are just that on a massive scale. An if you see “existential safety” or “alignment” bandied about you are in all probability dealing with cultists whose goal is to control the future uploaded heaven to avoid Matrix and Terminator. They are well funded by tech billionaires so they will turn up in all kinds of places. Including, apparently, MIT.

  5. digi_owl

    Drones with guns and cameras clinging to power lines and walls, and AI that make it up as it goes. What a future we have wrought.

    The terminator will not be a metal skeleton with a Germanic accent, it will be a quad rotor “bat out of hell”.

    1. ambrit

      I remember “back in the day” when some enterprising persons were sued by the Power Companies for theft of power by installing magnetic motors under high tension power lines and interacting with the strong magnetic fields those constructs create to ‘draw’ power into a parasitic system below. If I remember correctly, the Power Companies won and parasitic magnetic electric generators under power lines are banned as “theft of resources.”
      So, how, technically are these drones drawing off the power they use? It looks like some metering and payments system will have to be established.
      It’s all about the control of resources.

      1. digi_owl

        Heh, things change with the times. A relative of mine love to talk about when the family farm was hooked up to the grid. Apparently back then they had a standing agreement with the power company that for a flat fee they could literally hook the overhead wire to run a saw while cutting firewood.

        And yeah, i remember reading about that parasitic coil trick. And that reminds me that i read an article about some soldiers that nearly electrocuted themselves during Nordic Response this year. Apparently their officer thought it would be a good idea to set up camp, complete with tall radio antennas, directly under a power line.

      2. rowlf

        If I remember correctly from my Electrical Code class in college, taught by a very experienced Master Electrician, some wise guy who had a house near transmission lines made a coil in his attic to power his house.

        Eventually the electrical utility located the power drop and sought compensation.

  6. ambrit

    Just throwing this out there; Medical Industrial Complex Division.
    Got a mailer of a “survey” about Medicare adjacent subjects from an outfit with the name “NewQuest Inc.”
    Two page ‘survey’ which bought up a lot of Medicare Advantage “services” in the body of the questionnaire. There is a not so subtle forcing of my attention towards “services” available ‘only from Medicare Advantage plans’ within the “questionnaire.”
    I had to do some internet sleuthing to find out that ‘NewQuest Inc.” was a division of Cigna. Continuing on, I find that Cigna is printed on the front of the envelope in very small print as part of the Presort Standard Mail sigil at the upper right hand corner of the envelope. Hidden in plain sight!
    This could be a good plot for a “previously lost” work of Poe: “The Purloined Healthcare Establishment.”
    False advertising? Advertising disguised as a ‘survey?’ A psychological “forcing” or “nudge” to make me dissatisfied with my present Plain Old Medicare? A subtle enumeration of the “benefits” of the Medicare Advantage scheme? All of the above?
    There was no boilerplate small print anywhere on the paperwork enclosed in the envelope. So, absent a disclaimer, could Cigna put me on a “Suckers List” for its phone room crew?
    You have to be extra careful with communications of all sorts today.
    Be safe.

      1. ambrit

        Good heavens. Just like the DNCC does!
        The Mothership Strategies Syndicate has long tentacles today!

  7. t

    The slippery signature gathering seems SOP for RFK Jr.

    Still havent found out if he had medical evidence in the divorce proceedings
    where he told brain worm and fish poisoning story.

    1. ambrit

      He must be confused. It was probably his Uncle Teddy who suffered the indignity of brain worm infestation during his immersion in the waters at Chappaquiddick.

  8. pjay

    “Trump pressed oil executives to give $1 billion for his campaign, people in industry say” [Politico].

    “Former President Donald Trump asked oil industry executives last month to donate $1 billion to aid his campaign to retake the White House, three people familiar with the conversation told POLITICO — a request that campaign finance experts said appeared troubling but is probably legal… Trump’s request is ‘shocking,’ but it would almost certainly not break the law, said Meredith McGehee, an independent expert on government ethics and campaign finance.”

    I’m shocked, shocked I tell you…

    Every time I think that political punditry could not possibly get any more ridiculously absurdist than it already is, someone publishes something that proves me wrong. And this happens pretty much every day now. Everyone knows that Citizens United meant that we didn’t even have to pretend anymore. *Everyone* knows that politics is just Game of Thrones by billionaires today. And yet we still have articles like this in places like Politico, quoting three anonymous “people familiar with the conversation” as if this were some sort of top secret clandestine operation or unprecedented moral violation of a sacred principle of politics. Gawd.

  9. Enter Laughing

    Gaza famine update.

    No humanitarian aid has crossed land routes into Gaza since May 5th, according to UNRWA.

    Meanwhile, the JLOTs pier and causeway plan has been on hold for a few days due to rough sea conditions, according to CNN. The Navy is sheltering the components in an Israeli port until the waves subside a bit. Apparently wave heights of 3 feet or more create unsafe conditions for personnel to operate on the floating pier and causeway.

    That pause will give the Navy more time to figure out who will actually drive the trucks down the 1800-meter causeway to the beach. The UK initially agreed to do it, but then bailed on the idea. So the search is still on for non-U.S. drivers to fill the vital link in getting relief aid to the shore.

    The challenges only continue once ashore, however. The staging area just past the beach has already been shelled at least twice during the last few weeks. Plans to provide security for the relief trucks are still being worked out.

    Hopefully Biden’s ambitious plan to provide desperately needed relief to starving Gazans will overcome the remaining obstacles soon.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The whole place is dangerous for any foreigners. The Israelis just bombed a medical facility set up by the UAE wounding an Emeritas guard even though the Israelis would have known they were there. Doesn’t say much for the safety for any foreign troops working at that dock which is why the British probably puled out.

      1. ambrit

        And yet His Majesties Government said nothing about, if shot at on the shores of Gaza, they would shoot back. Feckless bounders. Don’t they honour the basic anti-semitism of their ruling class? Whitehall should use the means at their disposal and nuke Jerusalem. Kill them all and let Jehovah/G-d/ Allah sort them out. (The original Triage.)
        Caveat: If there really is a G-d who pays attention to the antics of His/Her/Its creations, then all bets are off.

          1. ambrit

            And Wallace is His true Grommet who insulates the Select from the myriad shocks of an insensate Existence. (How’s that for cheesy hagiography?)
            I have heard it said that Darwin, while on the Beagle, showed a definite aversion to the Gish Galapagos that confronted and initially confounded him. {When he discovered the method of dividing finches into tranches, all became clear.}

  10. griffen

    Trump asking execs from any industry for boatloads of cash…well we can thank Citizens United for these little details in modern political campaigns…hey it’s not like wall st and pharma companies don’t contribute to line campaign coffers now …

    Question I have, did he hold his pinky finger and perform a Dr Evil laugh in doing so?!?

  11. flora

    re: “Words with Friends”

    an aside: I love big old dictionaries, the kind that are 4-6-8 inched thick with small print, lovely illustrations, and slightly yellowing pages, the kind that do not include modern words like “space shuttle” or “computer program” or “internet”, the kind that include words now out of fashion and everyday use. Old dictionaries are a kind of historical ‘map’, if you will.

      1. flora

        You have an 1899 Websters unabridged? Lucky you. I keep looking for one when local/regional libraries have a deacquisition sale.

        1. Martin Oline

          I have the 2nd edition from 1950 with over 3,000 pages. I was told it is a standard reference for writers. When I found my son was using it to prop up his bed I took it away from him.

          1. Vicky Cookies

            We use the same one! A constant companion in for both reading and writing. I love physical texts, and suspect that the permanence, and tactile relationship one has with a physical book both aids learning and information retention, and is easier on the eyes than a smartphone or computer screen, where the information whizzes by and disappears. If only NC published a physical daily paper!

            1. flora

              adding: you rescued a very valuable reference book from being misused due to the user not (yet) understanding its real importance. Bravo.

  12. Pat

    “Less is more”….bwahahaha.

    Days when I self aggrandize I claim that I said at the time that the only way Biden won was because he campaigned from his basement. Truth is I honestly don’t know when I first said it. But I got it long before Biden’s campaign staff who have finally figured it out. I am sure there is some drunken mourning that the basement is no longer possible. Mark my word, these small controlled events will get even smaller.

    When the idiocy of the Trump court sagas start to get to me, I do amuse myself with imagining how revealing hours of televised court proceedings with Biden as the defendant would be. Falling asleep would be the least of the campaign’s problems.

  13. flora

    re: Nooners. “A certain fatalism sets in.” Nooners is as shrewd as ever, she’s not pretending the B campaign is going well. She’s not blaming voters for B’s campaign not going well.

    Anyone who watched this week’s CNN interview with B knows things aren’t going well for B. You can watch the full interview on CNN. Or, you can watch some tweets about some of the worse moments for B where he seemed to say “down is up.”

    Biden looks shocked as CNN host Erin Burnett reels off a list of stats detailing how bad the economy is. Biden claims he’s already “turned it around” and that every poll showing Americans favouring Trump on the economy is wrong.



  14. pjay

    “I’ve Noticed Something Strange About All the Thirtysomething Men I’m Hooking Up With. What Gives?” [Salon].

    Since I’m not a Salon subscriber I couldn’t read the article. So I’m not clear on her “sample”: had the four men she “hooked up with” had COVID? Regardless, N=4 is not very robust. I bet anything there is research funding available for this type of study if she wanted to increase her sample size – and perhaps include some relevant controls. And I bet the Salon readership would be quite interested in following her study as she carries out her research. It’s a win-win for Salon and Science! And who knows, maybe Jessica could find that “long-term” guy as well.

    This article made me feel old and weary for several reasons – and I didn’t even get to read it.

    1. flora

      Why my goodness! I’m not sure what the current understanding of the phrase “hooking up” means to her age cohort. In my younger days it alluded to more than dating and social intercourse. However, the meaning of words and phrases can change. (See teenagers’ slang for example.) Research funding. Um… I was going to say something about paid-for hooking up under the old understanding, but I’m sure that’s not what she means. (I hope.) / ;)

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        fwiw, it made me sad, as well.
        and i woke up under a fallen stone wall at 3am, when the front finally rolled over me.
        and i still had a frelling woody!
        and ive had covid twice…altho, after the last time,feb 2022, ive had the worst allergies of my entire life…is that “Long Covid”?…IDK….no healthcare “access” to speak of to find out.
        i would volunteer for her study if she was a bit closer….for…say…a carton of cigs….
        i dont work for free, after all.

        1. flora

          Heh. You take my meaning. In my parent’s generation “hooking” had a very direct, obvious, and salacious meaning. But that was way back then, and words’ meanings can change over time. (or not) / ;)

      2. Big Farmer

        Based on the kids (20s) I see, hooking up still means what I recall it meaning: a sexual encounter, no strings attached…

        1. flora

          “no strings attached….” As if the woman is not exposed to more physical risks of some kinds than the man. I dunno, maybe hooking up is exactly the wrong way to find Mr. Right. Guess I’m an old fuddy-duddy.

          1. flora

            See also the old movie “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” Diane Keaton gave a great and heartbreaking performance.

          2. Lena

            It seems to be the wrong way to meet Ms. Right, too. The son of a friend just turned 30 and has decided he wants to get married and start having children soon. He complained to me that he has yet to meet his soulmate during his last few years of hooking up on Tinder. When I suggested that Tinder *might not* be the right place to find a quality relationship, he seemed genuinely shocked to hear this.

            1. Mr Sardonic

              re: It seems to be the wrong way to meet Ms. Right

              I met Ms Right. Then I discovered that her first name was Always.

              (Sorry, not original — but I can’t remember who said it!)

  15. Pat

    It isn’t evidence, but one other thing supports the “Trump was concerned with Melania, not the election” theory. There is every indication that Trump started the whole presidential campaign as a PR stunt. That he never expected to win the primary much less the election. I realize that most of the people who are behind NYs massive lawfare trials would never be able to admit that Mother was so deeply disliked and incompetent that she lost to someone they consider a clown who wasn’t really running for and never expected to get the job.
    That and Trump had a long history of sex scandals, he always did decent business in their wake. I don’t think many people would have been surprised that he had an affair or several with adult film actresses. But the personal fallout would be more problematic in his life, actually cause him agita inducing encounters.

    I really do hate my tax dollars being wasted in this manner.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i agree, Pat.
      that was my assessment at the time, regarding him doing the whole runnin for preznit thing on a lark, and for greater ego rubbing.
      he didnt expect to win,lol.
      it was all over his face that night.
      he caught the damned car!

      just one more anecdatapoint in the long list of them that prove that we’re in bizzarroworld, and all is lost.
      and its just too stupid, this current reality.
      i mean…are we in orwell, huxley?
      or is monty python or frelling benny hill our too-near proxy for life as we know it?

      1. flora

        Take heart, Amfortas. I do believe that the American polity – wildly disputatious, rambunctious, brawling, cantankerous, and contesting all points on all sides, both severed and aligned – eventually coheres toward the better. Really. How else could the civil rights movement have prevailed in a white dominated country?

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          by pure accident, i’m afraid, my dear.
          i turned away from all the news, today, for a time…went and read the Onion and the Babylon Bee…and laughed my ass off…because its so hard to tell the farce from the fact anymore.
          and ive had a goddam kermit the frog song in my head for 3 days.
          willie nelson version.
          and a movement of air felt like a wall fell on me and woke me up.
          its all just too stupid.
          and i remain unrepresented.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          The civil rights movement prevailed in large part because it had the support of a federal government concerned that Soviet propaganda about US racism would prove effective in parts of the world tat were de-colonizing.

    2. Carolinian

      He did look a bit shocked when he won. The dog that caught the car.

      And this time–before he announced–there were reports that he was bored hanging around Mar a Lago and that may be the only reason he is back.

      Meanwhile Biden has to run so he and Hunter can stay out of jail. And Bibi has to destroy Gaza so he can stay out of jail.

      What a world.

        1. flora

          or not. (they could have brought these cases 2-3 years ago. / ;)

          adding: not an apologist, just pretty d**med disgusted with the party’s pol election heavy-handed nonsense.

  16. Jason Boxman

    Liberal Democrats: Biden elected, sheeple mode enabled! This is the case every time a democrat gets elected to the white house. So much for the reality based community. That was always a condensation anyway, a more inscrutable form of deplorables.

      1. Lena

        My 14 year old comfort cat is very uncomfortable tonight. Lots of crying and pacing. I asked her if the intense solar flares are bothering her? She said yes, the flares are changing her DNA and giving her bird flu. I think she’s been on Facebook again.

  17. Jason Boxman

    No mention of COVID

    The US is heading into a labor crisis:

    The US native-born civilian population has dropped from 170.8 million in July 2023 to 168.2 million in March 2024.

    That is a 2.6 million decrease in just 8 months.

    At the same time, the foreign-born population has risen by 2.7 million, hitting a record 40.5 million.

    However, many foreign-born individuals lack work permits which on a net basis creates MASSIVE labor shortages.

    Labor supply is also shrinking due to early retirement, lack of access to childcare, and an aging population.



    1. ChrisFromGA

      Given that the foreign born workers includes undocumented workers, that means we’re looking at a big shortage of knowledge workers.

      Doctors, nuclear power technicians, architects.

    1. flora

      Aurora borealis visible tonight and tomorrow night in North America as far south as Nebraska, Iowa, even as far south as the northernmost boundaries of Kansas and Missouri if the sky is clear. Quite an unusual event for mid-latitude US states. You won’t even need your solar eclipse glasses to view the northern lights, the aurora borealis. / ;)

  18. ChrisFromGA

    I listened to the war and peace report with Amy Goodman on the way back from a trip North and wowsers, it’s like actual journalism is a thing, still.

    Lots of coverage of the Rafah operation, plus some tidbits about the Sudan where apparently last years action included ethnic cleansing.

    And an extended interview with a Dartmouth professor who was assaulted and battered by the local cops after the University made a phone call and dispersed a group of peaceful students exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression… or of you ask AI, non-peaceful terrorists and anti-Semitic outside agitators.

    Meanwhile, CNN pretends that the Genocide thing isn’t happening and focuses on Stormy.

  19. Even keel

    The least gameable tax is the one that forces wealth to be retained in corporate entities.

    IIRC, it was Reagan in the early 80s that significantly lowered the cost of taking money out of a corporation and distributing it to shareholders.

    Let the real wealth of the country be retained in companies, not extracted for consumption.

    This was done in the name of “tax fairness”. It wasn’t “fair” to tax business income “twice”- once to the corporation and was to the shareholder. But of course it is. The corporation is a fictional person, and the shareholder gets a substantial benefit from the form.

    It is also more regulated wealth. Wealth in a company has numerous claims on it, and only a limited sum can be squandered on corporate parties etc. more of it will be reinvested for real productive purposes.

    And the rich will be less adverse to it than an estate tax. The estate tax just confiscates wealth, and induces gaming through inter generational transfers, complicated trust systems, and other schemes that serve zero productive purpose. Forcing wealth back into corporate entities, the wealthy still “own” the wealth, they just get to squander less of it on consumption.


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