2:00PM Water Cooler 5/24/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Pampas Meadowlark. Estancia La Josefina – Lote 18. Saavedra, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sounds like the birder is stepping through a stream on rocks?!

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) The Bragg trial winds down.

(2) Imperceptible skin sensors.

(3) Hokusai’s Great Wave.

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

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Biden Administration

“Biden Admin Working With Social Media Companies to Limit Pro-Palestinian Content” [Ken Klipperstein]. “A little-noticed readout for a May 15 Hague meeting between the State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism Elizabeth Richard and other governments said that Richard ‘updated the group on U.S. efforts to engage tech companies in voluntary collaboration to limit Hamas’ use of online platforms, including social media, for terrorist purposes.’ The readout also notes that another similar meeting took place on December 13, in which the U.S. coordinated with partner governments to ‘target Hamas’ online propaganda.’ Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook have long banned terrorist organizations like Hamas. Now, however, the federal government is pressuring companies to ban ‘Hamas-linked’ accounts and those of pro-Palestinian Americans. Hamas is a formally designated terrorist organization, so it makes sense that counterterror officials like Richard would target their communications broadly speaking. But with overwhelming evidence that Americans are getting banned from social media for posts regarding the Israel-Hamas war, the U.S. government needs to make clear what the exact nature of its coordination with social media companies is on this subject and how Americans’ speech is being protected. (The State Department and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) Virtually every major social media platform has banned Hamas from their platforms. But some like Meta, parent company to apps like Instagram and Facebook, went a step further, banning ‘Hamas-linked’ accounts and even ones without any link to Hamas for alleged ‘praise’ of ‘dangerous organizations’ — a category the company relies heavily on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organization to define.”


Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 24:

Not a good week for Team Trump, with most of the Swing States (more here) Brownian-motioning themselves toward Biden. Not, however, Michigan, to which Trump paid a visit, nor crucial Pennsylvania. 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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Lambert here: Patient readers, I promised to pull on my yellow waders and post on Merchan’s instructions to the jury, but unfortunately neither the transcript where Merchan and the lawyers hashed everything out, nor the instructions themselves, are online yet, and won’t be before Tuesday, when closing arguments begin, so I don’t have the materials I need. I may have to devote a whole Water Cooler to it. So we’ll see.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Will the Jury Convict Trump? Here Are the Clues” [Politico]. The bottom line: “Is Bragg going to convince a jury? As we approach closing arguments on Tuesday, here’s what we can say: It appears that the odds of Trump being convicted are fairly good — but not overwhelming. Perhaps slightly more likely than not. The likelihood of an acquittal, which would require all 12 jurors to unanimously conclude that Trump is not guilty, appears slim at best. Yet there is a very real chance that one or more jurors will refuse to convict — most likely because they are unwilling to fully credit the testimony of Michael Cohen — and that the jury will hang, resulting in a mistrial and a de facto victory for Trump.” • From my reading of the coverage, this piece is a reasonably fair-minded summary (which is another way of saying that in my view it’s far too respectful of the prosecution’s case, and gives Merchan a free pass on conflict). But it’s well worth a read, and I agree with its conclusion on the centrality of the closing arguments. However, I think, regardless of the outcome, that this particular piece of lawfare may blow back. If Trump is convicted and faces jail time, Trump looks like a martyr, and if they actually put him in a cell, I think he’d win by five points at least. If Trump gets off lightly — if the jury could do something in a criminal case like find on the business records misdemeanors and then fine him one dollar — then the political nature of the case becomes crystal clear, and Trump wins that way, too. Somewhere in the middle, most likely the case isn’t resolved until after the election, as Trump appeals. Of course, the Democrats in essence waged a war of attrition on the Trump campaign, both eating up money in fees, and more importantly consuming the campaign’s most valluable resource: The candidate’s time. In that respect, the Democrats lawfare has been a success. As far as the verdict goes, we would need to know how pervasive TDS is on the jury to hazard a guess. All that said, we often raise questions about the quality of Trump’s lawyering, so it’s worth noting that this case was fought to a draw in the press, and all the other cases have slipped off the campaign calendar, so I think Trump’s legal team can be said to have done well.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Most believe Trump probably guilty of crime as his NYC trial comes to an end, CBS News poll finds” [CBS]. “The public is more split on what they think the jury will decide, with about half expecting jurors to find Trump guilty and half saying the opposite. And views on both sides are far from certain. For example, far more say jurors will ‘probably’ convict Trump than ‘definitely’ convict him…. If people believe Trump’s guilty, they tend to believe the jury will convict him. And vice versa for those who believe he isn’t guilty of a crime. But about a third in each group expect the jury to decide the opposite of what they themselves believe. Overall, about three quarters of Americans report having heard or read at least some about the trial. And those who say they have heard ‘a lot’ about it are the most polarized in their views — they are likelier to identify as strong partisans and express more confidence in Trump’s guilt or innocence, potentially blunting the impact of a verdict on the public’s views.” • IOW, the verdict, whatever it may be, is already priced in? Anyhow, the nice thing about the Prosecution’s Heisenbergian theory of Trump’s object offense is that all you have to believe is that Trump is guilty of something, no matter what it might be….

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Trump (R) (Smith/Cannon): “Revelation of secret Obama-era program casts doubt on stated reason for Trump Mar-a-Lago raid” [FOX]. “A purportedly never-before-seen Department of Defense memo from the Obama era appears to indicate the federal government already may have had original copies of the documents seized at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in 2022, raising serious questions about the pretext for the raid, Fox News Digital has exclusively learned. America First Legal (AFL), a conservative legal group, released Thursday what it says is a newly unearthed memo from the Obama administration Department of Defense ‘confirming the government may have already had originals of the alleged classified documents involved in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s sham prosecution against President Trump.’ The document, titled Memorandum of Understanding Entered into by Presidential Information Technology Community Entities, is from 2015, and followed an October 2014 Russian breach of the Executive Office of the President’s network. Then-President Barack Obama took executive action to create the Presidential Information Technology Community (PITC) to better protect the executive branch from such attacks, according to AFL. The PITC, which includes representatives from federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, effectively established that the president controls information he receives through the PITC network…. The memo’s disclosure on Thursday would not, by itself, absolve Trump of any potential wrongdoing in the case; however, it appears to challenge the initial justification for the raid…. [J]ust weeks after Trump left office in 2021, the White House Office of Records Management under the Biden administration began working with NARA “on exaggerated claims related to records handling under the Presidential Records Act,” Trump’s attorney wrote in a court filing to compel discovery…. The Archives’ insistence that Trump turn over the records appeared to be due, at least in part, to NARA’s mission to ‘properly’ preserve ‘a complete set of Presidential records,’ as outlined in a Feb. 7, 2022 statement. But if the government already had access to the documents through the Obama-era program, the documents in question would ostensibly already be preserved.” • Hmm.

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Trump (R): “The Shaky Foundation of Trump’s Lead: Disengaged Voters” [New York Times]. “The polls have shown Donald J. Trump with an edge for eight straight months, but there’s one big flashing warning sign suggesting that his advantage might not be quite as stable as it looks. That warning sign: His narrow lead is built on gains among voters who aren’t paying close attention to politics, who don’t follow traditional news and who don’t regularly vote. To an extent that hasn’t been true in New York Times/Siena College polling in the last eight years, disengaged voters are driving the overall polling results and the story line about the election. President Biden has actually led the last three Times/Siena national polls among those who voted in the 2020 election, even as he has trailed among registered voters overall. And looking back over the last few years, almost all of Mr. Trump’s gains have come from these less engaged voters.”

Trump (R): “Trump campaign accuses Secret Service of ‘critical flaw’ in RNC convention planning” [ABC]. “The Trump campaign on Thursday fired off a letter to U.S. Secret Service Director Kim Cheatle, demanding she fix a “critical flaw” in the security perimeter of this summer’s Republican National Convention, claiming that attendees’ safety is at risk as protesters plan to descend on the area. The convention, slated for July 15-18 in Milwaukee, includes a perimeter that encompasses a nearby park, Pere Marquette. As of now, pedestrians would have to walk through Pere Marquette, which is owned by the city, to reach the facilities. According to a person familiar with the security plan, the park serves as a natural congregation point and there’s a heightened concern that attendees’ safety may be at risk if the park is not secured.” • I would imagine both Kennedy and Trump could go after the Secret Service, if they were ever all three on the stage togther.

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Biden (D): “Top Biden campaign official held Zoom call with Haley supporters hours after she endorsed Trump” [Politico]. “A top official with Joe Biden’s presidential campaign held a call with Nikki Haley supporters on Wednesday, just hours after the former U.N. ambassador announced that she would be voting for Donald Trump. The Zoom meeting involved Biden’s deputy political director Juan Peñalosa and members of the Haley Voters Working Group, a nonprofit composed of former Haley supporters. And though it had been scheduled prior to Haley’s announcement, the message conveyed didn’t change. Peñalosa stressed that the campaign would continue to quietly reach out to current and former Republican elected officials who don’t support Trump. The goal wouldn’t just be to win their votes or campaign donations but to potentially offer endorsements of Biden as well.” • Democrats believing that to win, all they have to do is turn into Republicans. It never changes.

Biden (D): “Is the Biden Campaign Running on False Hope?” (interview) [Simon Rosenberg, New York Magazine]. “[ROSENBERG:] “There are six things now that are true about [Trump] that were not true in 2020, that all voters are going to come to know in the following months—they are that he raped E. Jean Carroll in a department-store dressing room [Trump, who has denied the allegations, was found liable for sexual assault in a civil case.]; that he oversaw one of the largest financial frauds in American history, and has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for that; that he stole American secrets, he lied to the F.B.I., he shared those secrets with other people, it’s the greatest betrayal of our national security by a former President in all of American history; he led an insurrection against the United States, he led an armed attack on the Capitol, and he’s promised to end American democracy for all time if he’s in the White House in 2025; he and his family have corruptly taken more money from foreign governments than any family in American history; and sixth, and this is really important, is that he’s singularly responsible for ending Roe.”

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OH: “Gov. Mike DeWine calls special legislative session to address Biden ballot issue” [Cleveland.com]. “Gov. Mike DeWine has taken the rare step of calling a special legislative session, in effect summoning the General Assembly to make sure that President Joe Biden qualifies for the ballot this November…. ‘Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States on the ballot this fall. Failing to do so is simply not acceptable. This is ridiculous. This is an absurd situation,’ DeWine said.” • I don’t think much of DeWine, but this speaks well of him.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Democratic operative Steve Kramer indicted over Biden robocalls” [Axios]. “Steve Kramer, a longtime Democratic political operative, was indicted over AI-generated robocalls that impersonated President Biden’s voice to discourage voters in New Hampshire, the state’s Attorney General announced Thursday. Kramer, a former political consultant for Biden’s long-shot Democratic primary challenger Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.), was charged with 13 felony counts of voter suppression and 13 misdemeanor counts of impersonation of a candidate.” • Whoops. Phillips never did go anywhere, did he? And now he’s forgotten….


“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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Transmission: H5N1

“Bird Flu Is More Widespread Among Dairy Cows, Sewage Tests Suggest” [Bloomberg]. “Academic and industry-run labs have been leading the way toward more nuanced and complete information about the H5N1 virus’s range by analyzing wastewater. They found bird flu in sewage samples collected before the virus had been identified in US cows. They’re seeing signs in cities that are far from infected cattle herds. And they’re already giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention better information about where to focus its efforts.” That’s good of them, and I’m sure CDC won’t let their efforts go to waste. More: “As farmers resist testing, the US needs to expand its monitoring of sewage, particularly in rural areas around farms where the pathogen may be spreading, said Paul Friedrichs, director of the White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy. ‘We’re going to need to do more work as a nation on how do we better structure wastewater surveillance in areas that don’t have or aren’t on a municipal wastewater system,’ Friedrichs, a retired major general and joint staff surgeon at the Pentagon, said in an interview. ‘That’s the gap we’re going to have to figure out how to bridge.'” • The headline writes itself: “Weak CDC allowed dairy farmers to infect the nation for profit.” Because that really is what’s going on. (To be fair, dairy farmers can’t afford to cull their hears in the same way chicken CAFOs can. Maybe we could divert the money for one F-35 to them. I’m sure that would be ample, and shouldn’t preventing a pandemic be some sort of priority? Besides not forcing a retired major general to wring his hands and dither?

“Clues From Bird Flu’s Ground Zero on Dairy Farms in the Texas Panhandle” [KFF Health News]. “One dairy tried to wall itself off, careful not to share equipment with or employ the same workers as other farms, [Darren Turley, executive director of the Texas Association of Dairymen] recalled. Its cattle still became ill. Turley noted that the farm was downwind of another with an outbreak, ‘so you almost think it has to have an airborne factor.'” • Oh.

Slaughterhouses and wasterwater:


Mask only if retaining the use of your brain is important to you:

Denial and Cope

The deepest desire? Hmm:

I’m not sure humans are herd animals like, in the example, cows. We’re predators, which is why, unlike cows, we have binocular vision. Do predators herd?

Sequelae: Covid

“The global clinical studies of long COVID” [International Journal of Infectious Diseases]. “Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the trend of global Long COVID clinical studies and to determine the distribution of outcomes in these trials…. Despite the increasing trend of registered long COVID trials worldwide, therapeutic effects in most of the published trials were not confirmative, which partly explains inexistence of evidence-based long COVID treatment recommended by current guidelines. Future studies should be designed and registered to address long COVID-related sleep disorders which were seldomly included in registered clinical studies but worth solving. Moreover, interventions aimed at treating the underlying pathophysiology of long COVID are also necessary but currently lacking.” • The bios of the authors look good, but there are some sentences that don’t seem to be quite English, so WTF?

Celebrity Watch

Taylor Swift, global superspreader:

Protection from airborne transmission for the star and her team, but not acknowledged and certainly not visible on stage; no protection for anybody else. Classic elite behavior.

“Lady Gaga Debuts ‘Chromatica Ball’ Film at L.A. Premiere, Reveals She Played Five Shows With COVID” [The Hollywood Reporter]. “The star revealed during the chat that she ‘did five shows with COVID,’ [in 2022] explaining, ‘I shared it with everyone on my team. I said, ‘I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable at work and you don’t have to perform and you don’t have to work that day, but I’m going to do the show’ because I just didn’t want to let all the fans down. And the way that I saw it also is like the fans were all putting themselves in harm’s way every day coming to the show.'” • Not what I would call typical fan service…

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Lambert here: Patient readers, I’m going to have to rethink this beautifully formatted table. Biobot data is gone, CDC variant data functions, ER visits are dead, CDC stopped mandatory hospital data collection, New York Times death data has stopped. (Note that the two metrics the hospital-centric CDC cared about, hospitalization and deaths, have both gone dark). 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. UPDATE I replaced the Times death data with CDC data. Amusingly, the URL doesn’t include parameters to construct the tables; one must reconstruct then manually each time. Caltrops abound.

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


❌ National[1] Biobot May 13: ❌ Regional[2] Biobot May 13:
Variants[3] CDC May 25 Emergency Room Visits[4] ❌ CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data May 24: ❌ National [6] CDC May 11:
National[7] Walgreens May 20: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic May 18:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC May 6: Variants[10] CDC May 6:

Weekly Deaths vs. % Positivity CDC May 11: Weekly Deaths vs. ED Visits CDC May 11:


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) Dead.

[2] (Biobot) Dead.

[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) Slightly, but distinctly up. The New York city area has form; in 2020, as the home of two international airports (JFK and EWR) it was an important entry point for the virus into the country (and from thence up the Hudson River valley, as the rich sought to escape, and around the country through air travel). So my natural inclination is to see how wastewater at JFK and EWR is doing. CDC, before it decided to butcher wastewater visualization, provided data down to the sewage treatment plant level, so I could check the Brooklyn plant for JFK (and also the Brooklyn plant for LGA). Well, that’s no longer possible, but the Verily [vomits quietly] wastewater site — Biobot being kaput — provides data on EWR. Here it is:

So, New York City Hospitalization up, Covid from air travel up. Make of that what you will. Covid is also up in Singapore and France, you will recall.

[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) Up and down.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) KP.2 enters the chat, as does B.1.1.529 (with backward revision).

[11] CDC’s data and visualization, still being updated.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured durable goods in the United States rose by 0.7% month-over-month in April 2024, following a downwardly revised 0.8% increase in March and defying market expectations of a 0.8% decrease. It marked the third consecutive monthly advance in durable goods orders, primarily propelled by robust demand for transport equipment (1.2% vs 2.5% in March).”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan consumer sentiment for the US was revised higher to 69.1 in May 2024 from a preliminary reading of 67.4, but remaining the lowest in six months. Inflation expectations for the year-ahead increased less than initially anticipated to 3.3% from 3.5% in the preliminary estimate, but remained the highest in six months.” • Not good for Biden.

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The Bezzle: “Supreme Court rules against Coinbase in arbitration dispute” [Washington Times]. “The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday in a legal battle involving Coinbase, reasoning that when users agree to arbitration — but in a separate contract are subject to a particular court jurisdiction — it’s up to judges to decide which agreement is valid and whether to send the legal conflict to arbitration or into trial…. ‘Arbitration and delegation agreements are simply contracts, and, normally, if a party says that a contract is invalid, the court must address that argument before deciding the merits of the contract dispute. So too here,’ wrote Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson for a unanimous court.”

Tech: “Imperceptible sensors made from ‘electronic spider silk’ can be printed directly on human skin” (press release) [University of Cambridge]. “Researchers have developed a method to make adaptive and eco-friendly sensors that can be directly and imperceptibly printed onto a wide range of biological surfaces, whether that’s a finger or a flower petal. The method, developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge, takes its inspiration from spider silk, which can conform and stick to a range of surfaces. These ‘spider silks’ also incorporate bioelectronics, so that different sensing capabilities can be added to the ‘web’. The fibres, at least 50 times smaller than a human hair, are so lightweight that the researchers printed them directly onto the fluffy seedhead of a dandelion without collapsing its structure. When printed on human skin, the fibre sensors conform to the skin and expose the sweat pores, so the wearer doesn’t detect their presence. Tests of the fibres printed onto a human finger suggest they could be used as continuous health monitors.” • Or, like all new artforms from cave paintings onwards, for pr0n.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 23 at 12:32:09 PM ET.


“Gamers say they hate ‘smurfing,’ but admit they do it” (press release) [Ohio State University]. N = 328. ” Online video game players believe the behavior known as ‘smurfing‘ is generally wrong and toxic to the gaming community – but most admit to doing it and say some reasons make the behavior less blameworthy, new research finds. The new study suggests that debates about toxicity in gaming may sometimes be more complex and nuanced than is often acknowledged, according to the researchers. Online video games use what are called ‘matchmaking systems’ to pair players based on skill. ‘Smurfing’ is when players cheat these systems by creating new accounts so that they can play against people lower in skill. The practice has become controversial in the gaming community, with some people defending it while others say it ruins the game. This study suggests the practice is common, even though many players claim to hate it, said Charles Monge, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in communication at The Ohio State University. ‘Gamers say they really don’t like smurfing. They also say they do it, but they’re not ruining games and they only do it for valid reasons,’ Monge said. ‘Gamers put smurfing in the bad category, but bad has nuance,’ Matthews said. ‘It was really quite interesting to see people say they were being ‘bad’ by smurfing, but only a little – unlike others whose behavior was much worse.’… The response by participants in this study is in line with what scientists call the ‘socially regulated’ perspective on blame, which suggests there can be some nuance, that there are reasons that can make an action more or less blameworthy. That’s not what the researchers thought would happen. Based on what most online research predicts, the response the researchers expected is called a ‘motivated-blame perspective,’ and it considers what is blameworthy to be black and white, Matthews said. ‘This perspective says if something is wrong, it doesn’t matter your reason for doing it, it is always wrong.'” • Readers? Any nuance to share?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Why Do People Hate People?” [Discover]. This is a very odd article. It treats hate not as an emotion, but as a matter of law. And it doesn’t raise the issue of manufactured or engineered hate at all.

“Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realize” [Wall Street Journal]. “Slow down your reactions. Try to notice how you feel and slow down your response, and then learn to express it. You also want to make sure you’re not suppressing the feeling, as that can backfire and exacerbate the emotion.” • The second recent article on this theme, hence filed under Zeitgeist. Perhaps people have a lot to be angry about just now?

“Prevalence of Psychopathy in the General Adult Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” [Frontiers in Psychology]. From 2021, still germane. From the Abstract: “The main objective of this study was to systematically and meta-analytically review the scientific literature on the prevalence of psychopathy in the general adult population…. The meta-analytical results obtained allow us to estimate the prevalence rate of psychopathy in the general adult population at 4.5%. That being said, this rate varies depending on the participants’ sex (higher in males), the type of sample from the general population (higher in samples from organizations than in community samples or university students), and the type of instrument used to define psychopathy. In fact, using the PCL-R, which is currently considered the “gold standard” for the assessment and definition of psychopathy, the prevalence is only 1.2%.” • Hmm.

The Gallery

Midwest Modern:

Midwest Post-Modern:

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“The Evolution of Hokusai’s Great Wave” [Kottke Dot Org]. Well worth a look to see the sequence of prints. A quote from Hokusai himself:

From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published; but until the age of seventy, nothing that I drew was worthy of notice. At seventy-three years, I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, animals, insects, and fish. Thus, when I reach eighty years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive. Those of you who live long enough, bear witness that these words of mine prove not false.

Pretty much my own view, modulo the numbers….

News of the Wired

“Data Visualization of the Most Common PIN Numbers” [Kottke Dot Org]. “According to the analysis, just 20 4-digit numbers account for 27% of all PINs: 1234, 0000, 7777, 2000, 2222, 9999, 5555, 1122, 8888, 2001, 1111, 1212, 1004, 4444, 6969 (nice), 3333, 6666, 1313, 4321, 1010…. The best causally unguessable PINs would seem to be unrepeated pairs of numbers greater than 50 — so 8957, 7064, 9653, etc. Choose wisely.” • News you can use!

“‘My songs spread like herpes’: why did satirical genius Tom Lehrer swap worldwide fame for obscurity?” [Guardian]. “Lehrer made my life bearable. I have never been able to tell him so, and it might not please him, for he has been quoted as saying: “If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worthwhile.'” But: “[D]id I find the answer I sought: why Lehrer gave it all up? I am not sure. What I can tell you is that Tom Lehrer is a prodigiously talented man who has no interest at all in money for its own sake, or in money to wield power. He wants enough to be comfortable and to do the few things he wants to do, and he has that. I suspect too that, despite his protestations to the contrary, there is a serious man underneath the caustic, cynical front. He once said that you cannot be funny if you are angry. He could just about stay detached enough to be funny about Eisenhower’s America. Trying to be funny about a nation that can elect a President Trump might tear him apart.” • For those who came in late:

Sending this out to Bush, Blinken, and Big Z….

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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: “Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, Easter 2024.”

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    I remember being a little kid and my parents had a Tom Lehrer 33 & 1/3rd that would skip, indicative of them playing it too much and it got scratched.

    My family always liked their humored served darkened-pitch black if possible, and combine it with artful playing of the piano and frantic lyrics @ times, such as:



    Needless to say, Tom was an inspiration~

    1. britzklieg

      “Ya know, every great war produces its great hit songs and after each war we like to gather around the piano or guitar and play these songs. We enjoy these songs because they remind us of how much we enjoyed the war. Now… WWIII is almost upon us, as you know, by popular demand it seems, and it occurred to me that if any songs are going to come out of WWIII we better start writing them now, so I have one here. This is a song that some of the boys will have sung to their mothers as they will have gone bravely off to WWIII. There’s one reference that I should explain, there’s a reference to our leading news commentators, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. I feel this is appropriate because, as you know, WWIII will be the first World War to be seen on television, and uh… I certainly hope that we all have color television by then.”

      So Long, Mom (A Song for WWIII)


      “While we’re attacking frontally
      watch Brink-a-ley and Hunt-a-ley
      describing contrapuntally
      the cities we have lost.
      No need for you to miss a minute
      of the agonizing holocaust!”

    2. Jorge

      I got to see him perform live! He taught at UC Santa Cruz when I was there around 1980. He taught “math for non science majors”, people who wanted to stop being afraid of math, and “the American Musical”, where he accompanied students in the class singing songs from musicals.

      I saw the student recital, where he introduced the songs and accompanied. He did not sing any of his own stuff, it was a night for the students. (But, he did sign an original 10-inch record that someone brought in for her parents. I had never seen a 10-inch before!)

  2. Ranger Rick

    I see, they’ve traded “low information voter” for “disengaged voter” — my leading theory as to why this is: either they workshopped the term or social media terminology has invaded the election process. Now it’s not that you don’t know enough to make an educated decision, instead, you aren’t interacting with the news enough. From an influence standpoint, the less exposed to persuasion a voter is, the more likely they are to vote for whoever reaches them first.

    1. AndrewJ

      It could backfire on them pretty badly. Nobody really wants to be “low information”. But “disengaged” is a reasonable response to the kabuki theater that is voting in the US – if one interprets it to mean “withholding vote due to lack of representation or faith that the system exists to serve the interests of the voter.” I encourage everyone to be so “disengaged” in all matters aside from local politics.

      1. ambrit

        As with the Sanders supporters; “self loathing voters?”
        The Oppo writes itself.

    2. Terry Flynn

      Engagement is key factor in voting. Though it rapidly disappeared into obscurity subsequently, the UK 2017 General Election prediction from the secondary – NOT main headline news official – model from YouGov was the only “official polling organisation” model to correctly predict that PM Theresa May had made a really bad mistake.

      The model used secondary data to quantify “innate attitudes” and link these to “propensity to actually vote”. The model largely got things right. Unfortunately for YouGov its attitudinal data was collected via category rating scales, which no self respecting academic marketer would use since they’re gameable & temporally unstable.

      YouGov discovered this the hard way and ditched the secondary model. Which is a shame: they had the right idea, they just implemented it wrong. I have no data to explain whether Trump’s support may be weaker than opinion polls suggest. I merely caution people that even “poll of polls” can be very wrong.

  3. Carla

    “I don’t think much of DeWine, but this speaks well of him.” As a lifelong Ohioan, I don’t think much of him, either, and of course I disagree vehemently with almost all of his positions. But when Mike DeWine was Ohio AG, he spoke and acted on behalf of the health of the Great Lakes and Lake Erie, much to my surprise. I wrote to thank him and received a polite and intelligent response.

      1. Carla

        No, and if I recall correctly, this was well before the beleaguered people of Toledo, having been without fresh drinking water for 5 days, put Lake Erie personhood on the ballot and won it. DeWine is a 100 percent corporate guy and may still be investigated at some point in one or another of multiple FirstEnergy bribery cases.

    1. flora

      Thanks, Carla. An aside: here’s hoping Kucinich wins his race as an independent candidate.

      1. Belle

        I hope so too. I hope Kaptur and Brown go down to defeat, and the Ohio Legislature denies Biden the special treatment that Obama and McCain got from Texas in 2008.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this link. Spurlock’s “Supersize me” movie was very good. Very good. Sorry to hear he’s passed away at what I’d call a young age, imo. Age 64 is a young age, imo. Much below the excepted US life expectancy age things.

      1. flora

        Wait, NBC news gives his age as 53-4. Whereas Wiki gives his age as 64 – 1970-2024. What can one believe? What reports are, you know, backed up by verifiable facts? (And I’m not saying Wiki is a trustworthy and verifiable source. Only that the discrepancy is noticed.) / ;)

        1. flora

          Ah, yes, 30 years from 1970 to 2000, plus 24 years from 2000 to 2024… yes that is 54 years.
          My mistake. best. And this means his early demise is even earlier than the expected life expectancy in the US. / oy

          1. ambrit

            curlydan made it even more poignant with the information that Spurlock was born in November, so, a double whammy, curse wise. He didn’t make it to 54, and he’ll never be able to vote this November and “save our Democracy” (from itself?)

    2. digi_owl

      I seem to recall reading about someone injecting themselves with something to settle a dispute over an illness or something way back when, with fatal results.

    3. griffen

      Unfortunate to hear this yesterday. He was only a mere two years older than myself, at some juncture I’d strongly suspect that the cancer whammy will be coming for me. Men on my father’s side did not exactly have a long shelf life as it were.

      I enjoyed that film, all the media and advertising to young kids serves as a reminder even today, I’d think.

  4. digi_owl

    “Gamers say they hate ‘smurfing,’ but admit they do it”

    As best i can tell, the replacement of player hosted servers with company run matchmaking has been an overall disaster for gaming. And it seems to have largely come about thanks to games consoles getting networking capabilities.

    The ongoing refrain i hear is the loss of community. Meaning that with the old hosted servers, they became like a chatroom with regulars. But with matchmaking, you may never play a game with the same players twice.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The ongoing refrain i hear is the loss of community. Meaning that with the old hosted servers, they became like a chatroom with regulars. But with matchmaking, you may never play a game with the same players twice.

      Thank you, that is illuminating. Isn’t Fortnite (?) based on the “chatroom” concept?

      1. digi_owl

        Fortnite, as best i can tell, use matchmaking just as the rest of the industry.

        Beyond that i have not touched “competitive” games in ages.

        1. GramSci

          Supervised competitive gaming, it is. When I was young, I played pickup ball on the sandlot. That was then.

      2. fjallstrom

        You can become friends in game, and then choose to play together as a team. The rest is randomness and algorithms.

        In a way, what Smurfing does is avoid the algorithm by creating a new account.

        1. digi_owl

          Yeah, the trick is to play with someone long enough to develop the rapport to team up in the first place.

          Smurfing may well stem from treating a multiplayer game like a single player game, where one can lower or raise the difficulty as one see fit, as one do not develop a social connection with other players.

    2. Daryl

      I bailed out when matchmaking started to be forced as a first party feature. Not that people playing online video games at 12am were the height of maturity before but things went downhill really fast after that.

      1. digi_owl

        Well the more “mature” a game is rated, the more puerile the content seems to be…

  5. digi_owl

    “Prevalence of Psychopathy in the General Adult Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”

    I keep wondering though if even a small percentage can ruin an org or community, if they manage to worm their way into a position of power.

    1. Lefty Godot

      I feel that, like autism, psychopathy is a “spectrum” disorder (if either condition is in fact a “disorder” versus a way of behaving socially that doesn’t work well with our modern societies). There are at least four “dark traits” that you can have all of to be a full-blown psychopath, or only some of to be still shading into the “bad actor” bucket. I would guess there are probably half as many people on the other end of the spectrum who seem unnaturally good to most people. The rest of us in the middle, being herd animals, are very susceptible to following the outliers of either kind. So the 2:1 numeric advantage of the the psychopath side looms large for society overall in the end.

      1. digi_owl

        Bit of both, at least with “autism” (really Aspergers, but that became unfashionable with the doctor possibly being a Nazi). It may always have been a thing, but got more noticeable in the modern workplace.

  6. digi_owl

    “Why Do People Hate People?”

    That old Yoda spiel comes to mind.

    Also, i get the impression that this is trying to define hate as in “hate crime”.

    Never mind my growing impression that present day language usage has lost all sense of nuance.

    1. Lefty Godot

      Yes, it definitely feels like they are trying to align their use of “hate” with the “hate crime” meme. But, I do think that there is a strong social component to more complex emotions like hate and anger than to some more primitive ones (like simple frustration or outright terror). I remember having a conversation with a young man at work where he vehemently insisted how much he hated gay people. But I would bet he either had never personally interacted with any gay “people” (which I think meant “men” to him) or he had been unaware of it if he had. It was all social conditioning of some sort. Between conditioning and unsatisfactory interactions you can come up with a lot of the social foundations of hate, even if that only partly relates to the way the term “hate crimes” is used nowadays.

      1. digi_owl

        Yeah western individualism worship has made us blind to how easily we develop “groupthink” and strictures. Yet some of the oldest non-corporeal punishments involve some kind of shunning or banning the individual from groups. Often from failing to adhere to said strictures, even in the face of warnings.

    2. Joker

      People hate people because they know what people are like.

      Also, changes in present day language are intentional. It’s Newspeak.

  7. Ranger Rick

    I can give a short explanation for smurfing: gamers don’t generally find competition to be “fun” — especially competition that relies completely on their own skills. They go out of their way to minimize any and all application of skill, leading to what is colloquially known as the metastrategy, or “the meta.” This has led to a decline in genres such as one-on-one fighting games, realtime strategy, and other genres that revolve around limited numbers of teammates playing against real people. It has been oft-opined that the act of competition itself is fine, but the accountability for defeat that sinks them. Small teams and one-on-one matches make it easy to know who had the worst performance (and for the worst performance to have the greatest impact). This is adjacent to a concept known as skill-based matchmaking, or SBMM, which usually relies on the ranking strategy pioneered in chess to ensure opponents are equally matched. People get extremely frustrated when this leads to them having even chances to win or lose, or (perceived) less chance to win; several gaming companies have even gone so far as to patent matchmaking to guarantee a 1:1 win to lose ratio or even allow paying for more favorable conditions.

    That’s a lot of words to say people like to win, and they like to win easily, and they go out of their way to engineer situations in which that occurs. This is more broadly witnessed in other forms of strategy, namely in the military and in business, which explicitly state that “smurfing” is the ideal form of warfare or competition; one should always seek to win easily (or conversely, to lose quickly) in order to minimize losses.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I miss Battlefield 2; I logged back in to play on one of a few servers still running, but it’s a ghost land of Wake Island 2007. Some differential in skill is acceptable, but at the extremes it’s just pointless. Some of the last people playing BF2 today are solo copter pilots that can TV-missile you across the map. You just die. All you do is spawn and die.

      That’s lame, too.

      The best back in the day was playing on pubs where the team balance was at least somewhat competitive, and it wasn’t a complete pushover, and sometimes it would come down to the last few tickets. Don’t die!!

      I hear there’s really nothing else like it, anymore, BF2, and it’s all geared for console players today. That’s a shame. BF2 had the novel squad leader spawn concept, which encouraged team play to win, even on pubs.

      Maybe they’ve normalized it somehow, but ping was always a big deal, and when I had a really low ping, it was ridiculously easy to win in combat. Just pull the trigger. It’s hard to believe that doesn’t still play a large part in victory.

      I’m too busy anymore to bother; I haven’t done any real online play since about 6 months of BF2 earlier last year. Sounds like it has really deteriorated. Oh well. I haven’t even finished Dragon Age: Awakening expansion yet. I feel like someone here mentioned Mass Effect series once; Did that at the beginning of the Pandemic. Best trilogy I ever played. They remastered it. I’d buy it again. That good, even if the first one was really the best.

      Oh well. Anyway.

    2. yep

      Another term for it is sealclubbing, and is more intuitive, though too graphic for some. The term was commonly used in World of Tanks community, back in the day when I played it. People did it for fun, and for stats padding.

      As far as the real warfare goes, if the fight is fair you are doing it wrong.

    3. SocalJimObjects

      Not sure about one on one fighting games, because Evo i.e. the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the planet recorded the highest number of participants just last year, https://www.evo.gg/news/evo-2023-breaks-multiple-all-time-registration-records. The top tournaments for fighting games, the ones that pay the the most money like Capcom Cup 2024 (one million US Dollars!!!) are offline tournaments. There’s no benefit to smurfing because ultimately you will have to face off against the best players and you can’t hide behind some screen, instead smurfing will just lead you down a path where you think you are some hot player, but in reality you will get snuffed out pretty quickly in the qualifying rounds.

      The FGC (Fighting Game Community) is a “small”, tight community where everyone pretty knows who the top players are, and those players don’t smurf.

  8. ambrit

    “Tests of the fibres printed onto a human finger suggest they could be used as continuous health monitors.”
    More likely, “continuous monitors,” as in the Panopticon.

    1. digi_owl

      Sadly likely in this day and age.

      Same as the new WIFI version being ratified, that can be used to detect the proximity of a human (and more).

  9. Carla

    Love mid-century American house pictures and ditto Tom Lehrer, but they are NOT PLANTS.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Sorry, don’t know why the link to the two destroyed homes didn’t show up. Please take my word for it.

      1. Offtrail

        The “link” function in the Comment box doesn’t work too well. Just copy & paste the link directly into the comment

            1. ambrit

              Yes. The “Little Angel” bears witness to the resilience needed to live today.
              That photograph brings me way back to the times just after Hurricane Katrina, which we lived through. Those people are probably just happy to be alive right now. The rest is just work.

              1. Lunker Walleye

                Very sorry about your being in the Katrina disaster, ambrit. It must have been hell.

                1. ambrit

                  Thanks. I’ve rambled on about it ad nauseum over the years. It was a “teaching moment” in the foibles of Terran human society. We had the full gamut of “helpers” after the storm, from ‘Faith Based Initiatives,’ (which did some good works,) to true disaster porn tourists. We were even interviewed by a woman working for the Wallstreet Journal. She sat on our front porch, (the house survived,) and chatted, and then returned to the hotel room in Gulfport that was home base for most of the journalists covering the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the storm.
                  One underappreciated aspect of “The Katrina Experience” was that no one really anticipated the true strength of the hurricane.
                  The eye passed directly over us in our house at the mouth of the Pearl River. The water came up ten feet in forty-five minutes. Before the power stopped the night before, all of the local weather forecasters were predicting that the hurricane would take a turn to the east when it came abreast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and head towards Mobile. Instead, Hurricane Katrina overran all obstacles and powered ahead due north. So, instead of feeling the back side of the storm, we had the eye hit us straight on.
                  One major lesson of Hurricane Katrina, and, I suppose other similar disasters, is that one learns the true “worth” of possessions. George Carlins comedy routine about “Stuff” comes to mind.
                  Stay safe and strengthen your bonds with friends and family. (That is what really got us through it all; Family.)

            2. Lunker Walleye

              Lovely, thanks for pointing it out. I haven’t spoken to either of my cousins as everyone is so busy. The one who did not lose her house is probably in overdrive cooking and doing what she can.

              1. ambrit

                All of that work is a hidden blessing. It leaves scant time to brood on the unpleasant side of events. Eventually a depression might set in for a while. That’s when you can be of most help. Let them know you are available to listen when it all comes tumbling out.

      2. skippy

        I was born in Burlington in the early 60s, heaps of relatives all over the State, generational farmers going way back. Been to a few Threshers festivals near Greenfield back in the day.

        Been through a few twisters on Grandparents farm back in the day, learned to keep eyes on the sky during the twister season for that purple/black clouds that meant large hail or twisters. Its just part of living in the state.

        Sadly the areas where twisters occur are expanding, even then the frequency and strength of them is on the rise. The reality is nothing can be built affordably that can handle a big twister due to atmospheric pressures and worst the flying debris. Strange things like carports or garage doors complicate things. Carports funnel wind under the soffits which then lifts the roof up and off or garage doors blow in and then the air gets in and goes up damaging the roof integrity. Once that is compromised the whole structure is at risk of total failure.

        Too make matters even worse building standards and materials have been going down hill for decades. Per se even here in Queensland, OZ new housing loses its reps/warranty post sale by first owner except structural of which is only 25 years. This is all going to become more troubling as the area of twisters expands into areas that traditionally did not have them. Buildings and response plans/teams are not designed for it.

        Sad to hear of the dramas in my birth state, but this is something more and more will experience in years to come. What was once or twice in a life event will become more frequent for individuals and family/social groups.

        1. Lunker Walleye

          Just lifted this from a local news site: “In Iowa, we have seen 50 tornadoes so far this year. For context, our yearly average for tornadoes in Iowa is around 48 . . .”

          Before this week, my brother told me his property insurance rate had increased 600.00 for the year.
          I’ve seen links on NC about increases in other states. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

          We had a derecho (straight line winds) come through here in 2021– so lickety split — huge oak trees were mangled and uprooted and of course there were lots of roofs replaced after that.

          You sound like you might be in the building trades. Interesting explanation of how some damage occurs with a tornado.

          1. skippy

            Thanks for the reply Walleye, caught a few of you in Iowa back in the day – wink.

            Yeah I have been in the building game since the 80s, Civil, Industrial, and RE, so I have seen and know a bit. My RE experaince is basically Calif, AZ, Midwest, and now here in OZ. On that note I would say its been interesting to see people more concerned about Sq ft/meters than about the quality of the build which you can’t see – just ascetics these days.

            Personally I would not buy a new home, would take anything pre 80s and if needed reno wet areas and kitchen, not even mess with any interior walls just for open space. Its all settled and lived, messing with it can cause dramas – houses do breath IMO.

            Per chance do you know any Salzwedel’s, Nobel’s, or Basil’s … in Iowa.

            1. Lunker Walleye

              A charming early 1900’s stucco house next to ours was torn down about 5 years ago and replaced with a too large, big box with shed roofs. Our 40’s, 2BR Cape Cod is quite small next to it but people always enjoy coming here. It has beautiful painted woodwork with six panel doors and my mate has spent weeks repairing the double hung windows and replacing all the screens in their wood frames. The original stick-built cabinets are still in the kitchen — probably can’t hold another coat of paint;)

              Nobel — There was a Patty in my DSM, H.S. class. (?) Don’t recognize the other names.

              1. skippy

                Too much of this RE thing is like Hudson notes, just financialization and nothing else. Your place sounds charming and loved, just the sort of thing I love to work on.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        Thank you, Pat. Tough to start over at that age but I’m sure she and neighbors will be ok. There is good community support.

  10. JBird4049

    >>>I’m not sure humans are herd animals like, in the example, cows. We’re predators, which is why, unlike cows, we have binocular vision. Do predators herd?

    To oversimplify, humans used to live on trees in a jungle, which meant needed binocular vision to not fall and die. The jungle went away, but the proto-humans stayed and developed tools to survive in the new environment, which started the path to us, which makes us weird as almost all other primates need forest, really jungle.

    This explains the lack of native North American primates as the occasional lack of forest, never mind jungle killed the one or two native species. And why all the native European primates also died out.

    Primates, lemurs, monkeys can live in troops IIRC in the hundreds as that depends on the species and how plentiful the food is. Even orangutans, which are generally solitary, but are still sociable, do live in large groups so long as there is a good supply. It is just that their preferred food is fruit from trees, which means following successive tree species as they fruit, but if it can be permanently supplemented. Humans seem to be mentally wired for about a hundred people and even in hunter-gather societies where they live in small groups of about ten or less will have regular meetings of dozens, but again it is the food supply that determines group size. Anyways, even in hunter-gather societies, it is the gathers (women, children, the old) that bring in the most food.

    As for predators, which I don’t know much about, there are groups of lions of thirty or more, but they specialize in elephants. Then there are the African wild dogs and hyenas which can be of similar size, but the number of predators is always going to be smaller than of the prey. It is how much food is available that really determines the size of the group.

    1. The Rev Kev

      We never went with herds but being predators, we became pack animals and that is how we hunted. As such we self selected for “pack bonding” – the ability to bond with others. And now that trait describes us as humans. You get involved in a sports team or a political meeting, that is pack bonding. But it goes further than that. We bond not only with fellow humans but also with our pets, our cars, our computers even. We even give them names. Hell, we’ll even bond with a pen.

      1. eg

        Yes: pack animals — more like wolves than donkeys, but that can depend upon the day …

    2. dave -- just dave

      In A Darwinian Survival Guide: Hope for the Twenty-First Century, Brooks and Agosta ask

      So why are humans doing such a poor job of coping with the existential threat facing them? Humans have difficulty taking collective responsibility for coping with natural phenomena. This is because they are by nature a cautious, fearful species. Humans are descended from prey, and the life of prey is founded on what biologists call the ecology of fear….Once humans successfully tested those tools [they had made] on species that recently had been dangerous predators and fellow prey, they started thinking of themselves as the hunter. As significant as the evolutionary transition to being able to hunt other species was, it did not take away our primary fear: the prey’s fear of the unknown….Like their early ancestors, contemporary humans consider uncertainty dangerous and frightening. [MIT Press, 2024, pp 3-4.]

    3. hk

      There are genuine pack hunters that hunt in real groups: wolves (and maybe hyenas?) being the most obvious example. If anything, they would be the closest analogues to us…to the degree, in fact, that there are probably far more wolves that have assimilated into human society than outside.

      1. digi_owl

        Always gets me thinking about some research on foxes in Russia way back when.

        Apparently if one breed them for domestication, they start to keep pup like traits and behaviors into adulthood.

        As such it may well be that early dogs were basically large wolf pups.

        Also, i seem to recall a recent-ish claim that early humans may have hunted by driving the prey to exhaustion. And if one think about it, it is no that far from how wolfs do it. Get a herd running, and then pick off a straggler.

        Heck, now that i am on that track i find myself wondering if that behavior translated into shepherding.

  11. Lee

    A good portion of Daniel Griffin’s Weekly Update on This Week in Virology is devoted to the microbiology of H5N1 with some swipes at raw milk advocates. Racaniello’s little rant about nobody really needing to drink cow’s milk irritated me because it was a potato patch and part ownership of a cow that kept my Irish forbears going when my English forbears were doing them dirt, as it were.

    1. sleeplessintokyo

      By any chance did he mention GOF work done some years ago on H5N1 funded by our friends at NIH?
      Just askin

  12. antidlc


    Progress in Heart Failure Deaths Reversed Over Past Decade

    Emily Harris
    Article Information
    JAMA. Published online May 24, 2024. doi:10.1001/jama.2024.8633

    Although heart failure mortality rates fell between 1999 and 2012, the proportion of people dying from the condition in the US has increased in recent years, according to a study published in JAMA Cardiology. By 2021, the heart failure mortality rate was higher than in 1999, signaling that earlier improvements have been “entirely undone” over the past 10 years, the researchers wrote. The findings were based on death certificate data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The accelerated increase in heart failure mortality rates during 2020 and 2021 suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic might have contributed to current trends. Changes in how heart failure is diagnosed and coded as well as improved survival for patients with conditions such as ischemic heart disease, which predispose them to heart failure, might also have contributed to the uptick in heart failure mortality rates, the researchers wrote.

  13. flora

    adding, a much and local and entirely thing of local interest. gosh. Local interest. Who could’a imagined such a thing. / ;)

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    I recently finished watching the two seasons of the 2008-2010 BBC series “Survivors”. The series makes for timely viewing as we await the pending pandemic outbreaks of Bird Flu. Now that our public health system has been tested by the Corona flu and our public health leadership is well practiced at handling the propaganda and economic exploitation of the lesser Corona flu pandemic they should be well prepared for the upcoming premier launch of the Bird flu pandemic. It will be interesting to see what changes they make to the script for this reality-tv-real-life revival of the “Survivors”. I believe there are plans for everyone to have a role in the new series, even though it may only be a bit-part. I am curious to learn what country — if China is passed over for the role this time — will be credited with housing the lab doing gain of function research and leaks the new and leaks the new and improved Bird flu virus.

    1. JBird4049

      Beyond the various bio labs, Mother Nature is quite good at creating new diseases to kill the humans wholesale. Any of the current diseases could mutate into something more exciting. Heck, the 1918 pandemic or smallpox could be reborn from very old lab samples or from all those graves in the permafrost being defrosted.

    1. nippersdad

      General consensus of those I have seen talking about it is that the US will veto any such action. However, something interesting that Larry Johnson said on Judge Napolitano today, is that there is the potential for the General Assembly to vote Israel out of the Assembly. He was also saying that the Israeli ambassador to the UN is not particularly well loved due to his antics of late, so that could be something to look forward to and I am not sure that the US could do anything about it. That would just be a simple vote, right?

      It would be kind of ironic insofar as Israel got its’ legitimacy from the UN to begin with. When you have lost the UN…..

      1. Acacia

        Sounds good. What are they waiting for?

        I mean, having Israel in the UN rather makes the whole organization look bad, doesn’t it?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The UK Proms Palace

      I don’t think it’s possible be angry when contemplating beautiful* (inanimate) things, so perhaps aesthetics serves an important social function after all.

      * Not a fan of tendentious art….

  15. Stephanie

    That’s not what the researchers thought would happen. Based on what most online research predicts, the response the researchers expected is called a ‘motivated-blame perspective,’ and it considers what is blameworthy to be black and white, Matthews said. ‘This perspective says if something is wrong, it doesn’t matter your reason for doing it, it is always wrong.

    The researchers apparently have never encountered ‘the only moral abortion is my abortion‘.

  16. NorD94

    my local area

    COVID Is Rising in Bay Area Wastewater Again. Why?

    Are you starting to hear about people in your circles once again getting COVID-19? It’s not just you.

    Levels of COVID-19 in the Bay Area’s wastewater are on the rise again — and this likely summer increase is happening earlier than it did in 2023.

    Data from Stanford University’s WastewaterSCAN project, which monitors the presence of COVID-19 in human sewage across the U.S. and other viruses, indicates that COVID-19 levels are up across 82% of the sites monitored around the Bay Area.

  17. John

    I listened to all the Tom Lehrer songs mentioned and a few more besides. He was and is an antidote for the news of the day.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    The three slender volumes of “Hamonshū” by Mori, Yūzan present a series of themes and motifs for decoration and ornamentation derived from the forms and patterns of water waves. These nicely augment Hokusai’s studies of great waves. The “Hamonshū” are available from download from the Internet Archive:

    Guillermo del Toro’s film “The Shape of Water” used a mural of Hokusai’s “Wave off Kanagawa” painted on a hallway wall of the heroine’s apartment and repeatedly painted over to make a ‘subliminal’ reference to that painting.

  19. Pat

    I think I have to disagree slightly with the commentary on Tom Lehrer. Yes, I think he would be appalled at the election of President Trump, but I think he would have been equally disgusted by HRC and Joe Biden, and beyond disgusted by a Biden Trump rematch after the last eight years, especially as both are Israel toadys.

    But then he was a genius, a brilliant observer of human beings, and knew the official version was not to be taken at face value.

    1. earthling

      He’s not dead, he just withdrew from performing/music. He placed all his music in the public domain.

      1. Pat

        My bad, but it was more about being insulted on Lehrer’s behalf for the author putting him among TDS sufferers who miss the full scope of how bad the situation is. Not that I know for sure not being in contact with Lehrer either.

  20. Pat

    I am not going to get into all of Rosenberg’s six “true” things, but I really really have to give it to him that his number six bends over backwards to try to whitewash and ignore decades of Democratic Party complicity in the demise of Roe V. Wade. And for many of us paying attention it is insulting.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I guess he leaves out that the rape allegations against Biden are far more credible. These people really are high on their own supply.

      1. Pat

        True that. The entire list is inaccurate and far from truth, but the last one totally played into both TDS and bought the Democratic playbook of over three decades that you have to vote for our walking piece of excrement candidate because of judges, which got dropped as soon as they were elected. But to bring it back to Biden, it also ignores that Thomas got in because of Biden gaming the hearing for him and while his treatment of Hill was the most egregious example it was more wide spread than that.

  21. kareninca

    My sister in law is a hospice/palliative care MD in eastern PA. I just talked with her husband and he told me that there is some sort of respiratory problem rampant in the area; a “summer flu” that causes bad lung congestion. He also told me that her part of the medical system is extraordinarily busy at the moment. He himself has no interest in medical stuff so it was surprising to me that he told me this.

      1. kareninca

        Thank you!! They both seem to be well, but she is in there treating people, so she is at risk of catching this. I do wonder what it is and whether it could possibly be avian flu. I doubt anyone is being tested for that, even though there are a lot of farms in the area.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a “summer flu” that causes bad lung congestion

      What could it be? ‘Tis a mystery!

      Are any of the health care workers wearing masks? Respirators?

      1. kareninca

        I don’t know if they are wearing masks. I just heard about the ailments; I don’t live in that area myself. If by some chance it is avian flu, masks would be better than nothing but wouldn’t help with eye infection or with dairy consumption.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not on Twitter but has anybody asked this guy if maybe, possibly, conceivably, perhaps, that he might have Covid?

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