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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat–Walden & Sawhill Ponds all together, Boulder, Colorado, United States

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Helpers, reconceptualized?

(2) Beoing in deep doo doo again, this time for the 787.

(3) Civilization, the game. All the versions reviewed and discussed!d

Look for the Helpers

I really like this conceptualization of helper, which is why it’s here, even though we’re looking at both plants and honorary plants. From MM:

A broader view:

MM writes:

Here is a helper. I hope the photos are good enough. The above ground part of this tree was cut off in the 50s. You can see how much the larger stump in the background that was created at the same time has rotted. This tree, however, was a central node in the web of mushrooms that swap nutrients and minerals throughout the forest. Fungi gave this tree enough energy to scar over and let the roots continue to bring up water and minerals and be a bridge between mushrooms

Commensal bacteria might be another example.

I think this gives an example of a helper; what do readers think?


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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).

Politics

“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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2024

Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, April 5

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

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Trump (R): “Most voters in new poll see Trump hush money charges as serious” [The Hill]. “Most voters in a new survey said they see former President Trump’s charges in the hush money case as at least ‘somewhat serious.’ A Reuters/Ipsos poll, released Wednesday, found that roughly 64 percent of registered voters said the charges in the New York case are “somewhat serious.” Another 34 percent of respondents said the case ‘lacks seriousness,’ and the rest were either unsure or did not respond. The case is set to go to trial Monday and marks the first criminal trial of any former U.S. president. While it’s been considered less severe than his other legal battles, any conviction could be a hit to the former president’s reelection bid, the pollsters noted. When broken down by party, around 40 percent of Republican respondents said the hush money charges were serious. Two-thirds of independent voters said the same, per the poll. Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payment by his former attorney Michael Cohen to adult film actress Stormy Daniels — seen as a cover up for an alleged affair before the 2016 election. The former president has pleaded not guilty in the case.” • If I understand Bragg’s theory of the case — and I admit I haven’t had time to study the briefs — the issue is not “hush money,” which for some goofy reason is how the press is framing it. Frankly, I don’t care if a billionaire leaves an fat envelope on the dresser. If indeed Trump managed to turn The National Enquirer into a “catch and kill” entity, that bought the silence of anyone who had, shall we say, a colorable narrative about Trump’s vivd life, and that entity was paid out of campaign money (hence all the business records foo-fra), that could actually be something not unserious. (What if Bezos not only owned The Washington Shopper, but was running for President, and used campaign funds to kill stories about him? Now, Bezos probably wouldn’t do something that crude. But subtley is not one of Trump’s strong points. It’s not the crime, it’s the crudity, one might say.)

Trump (R): “Ex-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg sentenced to 5 months for perjury in Trump civil fraud trial” [NBC]. “Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was sentenced Wednesday to five months in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of perjury last month in his testimony during former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial. The sentencing matched Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s recommendation.” • This seems to be the Engoron trial, however, not the Bragg trial.

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Trump (R): “What Worries Me Most About a Trump Presidency” [Caroline Fredrickson, New York Times]. “What we should fear most is Mr. Trump transforming our government into a modern-day Tammany Hall, installing a kleptocratic leadership that will be difficult if not impossible to dislodge.” And: “In a kleptocracy, corruption is a feature, not a bug, where politicians apply the law inconsistently, favoring friends and punishing enemies. By controlling government assets and handing them out to friends and family — and dangling possibilities in front of would-be supporters — as well as using politically motivated prosecutions, kleptocrats cement their control of government and disempower opponents. We need only recall Russia’s erstwhile effort to create a democracy: It quickly drained away into the pockets of Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs, leading to the hopelessness and acquiescence of Russian citizens once they realized they could no longer change their situation through democratic means.” • Aw come on, Caroline: Larry Summers totally helped! See “Tainted Transactions: Harvard, the Chubais Clan and Russia’s Ruin” by the great Janine Wedel.

Trump (R): “Trump, RFK Jr. and the Disillusioned Black Voter” [Wall Street Journal]. “A Morning Consult survey this week showed that the share of the black vote with a favorable view of Mr. Kennedy had climbed to 51% from 38% in polling conducted before and after he chose Nicole Shanahan as his running mate last month. According to Mr. Brownstein, the working-class blacks and Hispanics who are abandoning Democrats don’t otherwise resemble the typical MAGA voter. They aren’t especially enamored of Mr. Trump, and most aren’t ideologically aligned with the former president. Instead, the rift has been opened by a deep disaffection with the state of the economy as it relates to their everyday lives. For college-educated voters, inflation is more of an annoyance. For the working class, it’s a much bigger deal. We won’t know if this shift in minority voting patterns is a temporary phenomenon or indicative of a lasting political realignment until Mr. Trump leaves the stage. But if black voters in particular no longer believe that racial identity should determine which political party they support, this is progress.

In our two-party system, better political representation derives from playing Democrats against Republicans, not offering undying loyalty to one side. And heaven knows black voters could use better political representation. Perhaps the black working class will show the way.”

Trump (R): “Democrats nervous Trump wooing centrists from Biden” [The Hill]. “Democrats are growing increasingly nervous that former President Trump will woo centrist voters away from President. They say Trump, after quickly securing victory in the GOP primary, is now taking steps that could help him win the support from the broad middle of the country. The best example is the former president’s decision to not back a 15-week ban on abortion and instead say the issue should be up to the states — clearly the move of a candidate with his mind trained on the middle of the electorate. ‘If the election were held today, Trump would win and that means he’s winning moderates over as we speak,’ one Democratic strategist acknowledged. The strategist, who has worked on presidential campaigns, pointed to recent polls that showed the former president ahead in key states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada. Trump’s public stance this week on abortion was a clear signal of his desire to shift to a more centrist position on an issue that has repeatedly helped win elections for Democrats since three Trump-appointed judges helped form a majority that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision. In moving away from proposals for a federal ban on abortions at 15 or 16 weeks, Trump angered some anti-abortion activists.” • Trump’s Sister Souljah moment.

Trump (R): “Arizona bombshell tests Trump’s abortion gamble” [Axios]. “One day after former President Trump declared that abortion should be left to the states, the Arizona Supreme Court revived an 1864 law that effectively bans all abortions, with exceptions only to save the mother’s life. The swing-state ruling delivered a massive political gift to Democrats, who could not have asked for better timing to highlight the consequences of Trump’s abortion position.” • Maybe. But there is literally nothing the Democrats can, at this point, do (explain whinge and raise money). If the Democrats had codified Roe when they had their chances, plural, “leaving to the states” wouldn’t be an issue. If the Democrats had fought anti-Roe nominations tooth and nail, instead of waving them through if their credentials looked good, and then registering aghastitude and/or ginning up scandals when those same judges were nominated to the Supreme Court, ditto. They didn’t, and here we are. There is absolutely no prospect of Democrats getting a better deal than “leaving it up to the states,” it’s their own fault, and deep down they know it.

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Biden (D): “Klain on Biden: He is focused too much on bridges” [Politico]. “‘I think the president is out there too much talking about bridges,’ Klain said, according to audio exclusively obtained by POLITICO. ‘He does two or three events a week where he’s cutting a ribbon on a bridge. And here’s a bridge. Like I tell you, if you go into the grocery store, you go to the grocery store and, you know, eggs and milk are expensive, the fact that there’s a fucking bridge is not [inaudible].’ Speaking at an event hosted by the publication ‘Democracy: A Journal of Ideas,’ [lol] the longtime Biden adviser went on to say that while the infrastructure being built under the Biden administration was ‘a positive thing,’ the president was thinking too narrowly in focusing so heavily on it. ‘He’s not a congressman. He’s not running for Congress,’ said Klain. ‘I think it’s kind of a fool’s errand. I think that [it] also doesn’t get covered that much because, look, it’s a fucking bridge. Like it’s a bridge, and how interesting is the bridge? It’s a little interesting but it’s not a lot interesting.’” • It’s “interesting” if you’re a local business that got the contract for the bridge and hired locals to build it (making assumptions there, I grant). More “interesting” is that the Biden campaign is supposed to be disciplined and not fighting about strategy in the press, so what’s up with that [glass bowl] Klain, anyhow?

Biden (D): “Biden is building a behemoth of a campaign. Trump at this point seems to be playing catch-up” [NBC]. “Flush with $71 million cash at the end of February — more than twice that of Trump’s campaign — Biden parlayed his fundraising advantage into a hiring spree that now boasts 300 paid staffers across nine states and 100 offices in parts of the country that will decide the 2024 election, according to details provided by the campaign. Trump’s advisers would not disclose staffing levels, but his ground game still seems to be at a nascent stage. His campaign hired state directors in Pennsylvania and Michigan last week, people familiar with the recruitment process said. Combined, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have fewer than five staff members in each of the battleground states, said two Republicans familiar with the committee and the Trump campaign’s organizational structures in 2020 and 2024. At this point in 2020 — when Trump was running as the incumbent — the Trump Victory organization already had state directors, regional directors and field organizers on the ground in battleground states, testing field operations and activating volunteers, the two people said.” And they lost…. More: “‘This is like comparing a Maserati to a Honda — 2020 had staff and the bodies in place to turn out the vote,’ one said. ‘This current iteration is starting from ground zero, and we’re seven months out from the election. It makes no sense and puts them at a huge disadvantage to Biden, who is staffing up in droves.’” • Trump’s campaign isn’t being run by fools, so let’s wait and see. Seven months is a long time in politics, after all.

Biden (D): “Biden’s strategy to reach tuned-out voters: Content over crowds” [NBC]. “President Joe Biden’s recent battleground state campaign tour didn’t draw major crowds. But critically for the Biden campaign, it did produce a lot of content. Biden paired a rally in the Philadelphia suburbs with a more intimate, at-home sit-down with a small-business owner at his home, generating social media posts and days of local media stories. A visit to a Milwaukee campaign office offered him a chance to connect with a young boy who’d written to him about dealing with a stutter, an unscripted interaction that made its way to TikTok. Backstage before a health care event, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recorded a light video discussing their March Madness picks. And Biden didn’t even hold a rally during his swing through Michigan — but he did have a private chat (and issued a playful golf challenge on an indoor putting green) with a local pastor and his son.” • Plus, if Biden slips a cog, the situation is more containable.

Our Famously Free Press

“I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust” [The Free Press]. “For decades, since its founding in 1970, a wide swath of America tuned in to NPR for reliable journalism and gorgeous audio pieces with birds singing in the Amazon [from Robert J. Lurstema of “Morning Pro Musica,” who was the inspiration for Bird Song of the Day]. Millions came to us for conversations that exposed us to voices around the country and the world radically different from our own—engaging precisely because they were unguarded and unpredictable. No image generated more pride within NPR than the farmer listening to Morning Edition from his or her tractor at sunrise. Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal. By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals. An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.” • Commentary:

Spook Country

“Former CIA chief: Trump ‘was not qualified at the time and he is not qualified today’” [The Hill]. Torture advocate and “kill list” impresario John Brennan: “I think he didn’t believe what we were telling him.” • Brennan doesn’t get it. That’s what qualifies Trump. Along with any sensible person, I might add.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“What We Owe the People of East Palestine” [Pete Buttgieg, Time]. Let me pick out a bright spot: “My Department has pushed forward on safety measures, including last week’s major announcement that our Federal Railroad Administration finalized a long-sought rule to establish minimum safety requirements for the size of train crews. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that before this rule, there was nothing to prevent a railroad from unilaterally reducing the crew size aboard a train to just one person—even on a two-mile-long train—without even notifying our Department. Fixing this has long been a railroad safety priority, and despite industry opposition, it is finally a reality.” • Railroad workers in the readership: What do you think of the rule?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Against Regulatory Gaslighting” [The Regulatory Review]. This is very good. “When they demand that regulators employ business strategies in their practice, advocates of regulatory managerialism fail to recognize the inherent differences between business and government, argues [law professor Jodi L. Short]. Due to these differences, business strategies lose important functionalities when applied in the regulatory domain. For instance, outsourcing is a common strategy used in business to lower labor costs, save time, and help workers concentrate on more important business activities. But Short contends that outsourcing government functions to private entities does not work effectively. She warns that, compared to private actors, the government faces heightened scrutiny over its actions, and any failure by third parties could have substantial reputational repercussions for the public agencies that retain them. To mitigate this risk, regulators would need to monitor and assess the outsourced services, which then eliminates any potential efficiencies, contends Short. She argues that regulatory managerialism ignores these ‘substantial and potentially catastrophic costs’ that make outsourcing untenable in the regulatory context. Furthermore, Short explains that regulatory agencies face unique legal, political, and social constraints that restrain their ability to implement managerial strategies. For instance, business managers can define and target a specific customer segment they want to serve. This flexibility allows businesses to ignore hard-to-serve customers and to focus on addressing the specific needs of their most profitable customers, claims Short. Regulators, however, operate under statutes, which govern who they must serve and the services they must provide. Regulators are often required to formulate policies for a large and diverse population and, therefore, business strategies centered on satisfying ‘customers’ are inapplicable to them, Short argues. In addition, businesses operate in an environment where failure is perceived as natural and even beneficial to innovation and entrepreneurship. Short explains that this environment affords firms and their workers the freedom to experiment and employ novel strategies. In the regulatory context, failure is viewed very differently, contends Short. She claims that regulators and the public regard government failure as ‘shameful, to be avoided if at all possible, and potentially disqualifying of the entire government enterprise.’ For example, FAA at Boeing. And: “Under these constraints, regulators are limited in how they can apply business tools—inhibiting their effectiveness and leading to inevitable failures, according to Short.” • Wait. You’re telling me government should not be run like a business?! (Short’s original article.)

Pandemics

“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

Finally, a positive contribution:

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

LEGEND

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.”

NOTES

[1] (Biobot) Our curve has now flattened out at a level far above valleys under Trump. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) No backward revisons….

[3] (CDC Variants) As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

[4] (ER) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game. And speaking of Emergency Departments:

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

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

[7] (Walgreens) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening.

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

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

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

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI) [Trading Economics]. “The consumer price index in the United States rose by 3.5% year-over-year to 312.332 points in March 2024, following a 3.2% increase in February and slightly exceeding the market consensus of a 3.4% advance.”

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Retail: “L’Olly Pops Support Healthy Brain Function, Calm and Focus” [TrendHunter]. “Vitamin and supplement brand Olly offers targeted wellness solutions for everything from beauty to gut health and its cognitive health product portfolio recently expanded to include Brainy Chews and L’Olly Pops. Olly created these new products to “put the ‘fun’ back in cognitive function with nootropic ingredients that support energy, relaxation and mood, focus, and attention,” all the while sharing enjoyable flavors and formats.” • If in fact the damage to cognitive function is both as great and as officially denied as I think it is, one would expect products like this to pop up.

Manufacturing: “Boeing Crisis of Confidence Deepens With 787 Now Under Scrutiny” [Bloomberg]. “Boeing Co. faces a deepening crisis of confidence after an engineer at the US planemaker alleged the company took manufacturing shortcuts on its 787 Dreamliner aircraft in order to ease production bottlenecks of its most advanced airliner. Factory workers wrongly measured and filled gaps that can occur when airframe segments of the 787 are joined together, according to Sam Salehpour, a longtime Boeing employee who made his concerns public on Tuesday. That assembly process could create ‘significant fatigue’ in the composite material of the barrel sections and impair the structural integrity of more than 1,000 of the widebody jets in service, he said.” • This Bloombergy story is actually bad, in that we get the mush-mouthed “wrongly measured and filled gaps” instead of the word “shim.” (I put “shim” in the same bucket as “hack” or “kludge,” but I’m not sure that’s true; see the Gates story below.) Reuters gets it right. More on those “gaps”–

Manfacturing: “Boeing hit with whistleblower allegations, adding to safety concerns” [Reuters]. “Boeing halted deliveries of the 787 widebody jet for more than a year until August 2022 as the FAA investigated quality problems and manufacturing flaws. In 2021, Boeing said some 787 airplanes had shims that were not the proper size and some aircraft had areas that did not meet skin-flatness specifications. A shim is a thin piece of material used to fill tiny gaps in a manufactured product.

In a statement, Boeing said it was fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner, adding that the claims ‘are inaccurate and do not represent the comprehensive work Boeing has done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft.’ Salehpour observed shortcuts used by Boeing to reduce bottlenecks during the 787 assembly process that placed ‘excessive stress on major airplane joints, and embedded drilling debris between key joints on more than 1,000 planes,’ his lawyers said. He told reporters in a call later on Tuesday that he saw problems with misalignment in the production of the 777 widebody jet which were remedied by using force. ‘, he said.’” • Oh. I imagine the issue this way: The pencil-necked MBAs who ran Boeing after defenestrating the engineers thought that assembling the 787 would be something like assembling a “shake the box” model airplane. It doesn’t matter where the parts are made; just glue it all together. In fact, it does matter, and just because everything fits together in the CAD program doesn’t mean everything fits together in the material world. Hence shims, jumping on pieces, etc. Or, heck, it’s plastic. File it down or heat it up and bend it! Whatever!

Manufacturing: “New Boeing whistleblower alleges serious structural flaws on 787 and 777 jets” [Dominic Gates, Seattle Times]. “The Boeing engineer, Sam Salehpour, alleged that almost 1,000 787s and about 400 777s currently flying are at risk of premature fatigue damage and structural failure.” Gates gets the lead right. More: “The alleged flaws in the 787 Dreamliners relate to the tiny gaps at the joins of the fuselage sections that Boeing initially found in 2020. The discovery led Boeing to largely halt deliveries for almost two years at a projected cost of $6.3 billion as it worked to correct the flaws. In August 2022, the FAA approved the fix Boeing had developed [the “shims”] and allowed 787 deliveries to resume.” And: “‘I repeatedly produced reports for my supervisors and management based on Boeing’s own data demonstrating that the gaps in the 787 were not being properly measured,’ Salehpour said. As a result, he said, the small filler pieces of material used to fill gaps — known as shims — were in many cases not inserted. Shimming, or inserting these small, precisely sized pieces to fill gaps greater than five-thousandths of an inch, is a widely accepted practice in manufacturing airplanes to prevent such structural stresses. One of Salehpour’s lawyers, Lisa Banks, added that ‘shimming is a time-consuming process however. And, of course, time is money.’ Salehpour further alleged that during drilling of fastener holes at the fuselage section joins, Boeing assumed that because of the force used to pull the sections together, there was no gap for debris from the drilling to fall into. With that assumption, there is no need to separate the parts after the drilling to clean out debris, smooth off the edges of the holes and then reassemble the sections. ‘This expedites the assembly process and significantly reduces cost,’ the letter from Salehpour’s lawyers told the FAA. But Salehpour claims the assumption that any gaps were less than five-thousandths of an inch — and would be free of debris — was wrong, based on inaccurate measurements that failed to account for the fact that the gaps are larger around holes drilled farther from the edge of the join.” • “The Shims” would be a great name for a Seattle grunge band. Seattle readers?

Manufacturing: “Pontifications: Boeing ‘transparency’–not so much” [Leeham News and Analysis]. The URL: “pontifications-boeing-transparency-my-ass.” More: “Despite Boeing’s claim that transparency has been pursued since the adoption of the ACSAA, the “Speak Up” program hasn’t succeeded, according to the Expert Panel and the FAA. Employees still fear for their jobs and retaliation. Boeing still has an aggressive program designed to track down employee leaks.” • With detail on how Boeing handles FAA investigations…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 10 at 2:00:01 PM ET.

The Gallery

I wonder if an AI could fake this more or less easily than, say, a Rembrandt (the Rembrandt world being already full of fakes, sadly):

Games

This looks like a great thread on the game Civilization — all the releases!

For the entire thread, here is the ThreadReader version. This is, I think, the “psychology of the ruling class” partL

To me, “the Faustian Western tradition” is a bit cryptic. Maybe there are parts of the thread I missed. (I will say that it looks to me like Mearsheimer would have approved of Civilization I; the others, not so much.) Readers? Civilization players?

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Drunken Anti-Semite by the TV Set” [Splice]. There’s really a lot of good writing out there. If only we had a way to find it! “I’m autistic [no, this isn’t idpol or woke!] and I feel like most people take advantage of it, and the closer we’re supposed to be the more they do so. But not the handyman. Logistically his opportunities were reduced, since my autism hits the worst when it comes to looking people in the face. Most often he and I would be sitting side by side and facing the TV set, his favorite position in life. I didn’t feel pinned by the immobilization that somebody’s eyes can bring on me. But I’ll give him more credit than that. He knew I’m clumsy and he also knew that I’m alone, that talking to people is hard for me. Just twice he was snotty about these subjects, one time apiece. I compiled the same record regarding him. I made a crack about his lack of teeth and one about his lack of education. Each time he told me it hurt, so I dropped it. (His height and speech patterns were fair game; he didn’t mind those.) The handyman was often rude and selfish. But I could yell at him about it.” • No spoilers… Read all the way to the end.

“Priest jailed after man collapsed from too many erectile drugs at cleric’s sex party” [The Telegraph]. Byline: “Our Foreign Staff. I should hope so!

“Texas authorities arrest mother, daughter for allegedly running illegal butt injection operation” [FOX]. “The two women planned to inject a brown liquid, which was unlabeled, into the butt, or posterior [thanks for the clarification], of a customer who ended up being an undercover officer during the sting, court records showed.” • I missed when ginormous, Venus of Willendorf-proportioned butts became a thing (again). When? Why? The Kardashians?

Class Warfare

“The rich are getting second passports, citing risk of instability” [CNBC]. “Wealthy U.S. families are increasingly applying for second citizenships and national residences as a way to hedge their financial risk, according to a leading law firm. The wealthy are building these ‘passport portfolios’ — collections of second, and even third or fourth, citizenships — in case they need to flee their home country. According to [Henley & Partners, a law firm that specializes in high-net-worth citizenships], the top destinations for supplemental passports among Americans are Portugal, Malta, Greece and Italy. Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ program is especially popular since it provides a path to residency and citizenship — with visa-free travel in Europe — in exchange for an investment of 500,000 euros (roughly $541,000) in a fund or private equity. Malta offers a Golden Visa for 300,000 euros invested in real estate, which Volek said has become ‘especially popular with Americans.’”

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

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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 KW:

KW writes: “Mesmerized by falling snow.”

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for three or four days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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AirPro Heating and Cooling providing furnace repair and installation in Bismarck, North Dakota and surrounding areas like Mandan, Wilton, Beulah, Hazen and more.