2:00PM Water Cooler 1/22/2024 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as you can see, I have revised to Covid chart section so that it is less dominating and easier to scan. I have other improvements I wish to make, so this is a first cut. Comments welcome! –lambert NOTE They are meant to be small — but you can Command/CTRL-click on the image to see a larger version.


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

The Constitutional Order

Alert reader GH went through the amici briefs for Anderson and throws some links over the transom (and has his own interpretations, which he is qualified to have. But I will give my own views in any case, extracting nuggets and commenting on them, since it would really take at least one post to explicate all this material. All interesting and high-powered!)

“BRIEF AMICUS CURIAE OF EDWARD B. FOLEY, BENJAMIN L. GINSBERG, AND RICHARD L. HASEN IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. I quarrel with this nugget: “Similarly, the Twenty-Second Amendment bars anyone from being ‘elected to the office of the President more than twice.’ Again, state election officials and state scourts need no congressional direction on what it means to have been ‘elected to the office’ to bar a candidate from a third term.” • This is the “determining if a candidate is over the age of 35 is really just the same as determining if he is an insurrectionist”-argument. I don’t buy it. If it’s a trivial, administrative matter to determine of Trump is an insurrectionist, why was he never charged with the crime? Occam’s razor says prosecutors couldn’t make the case. But if it’s not trivial, then the analogy collapses, exactly as the analogy to age-based disqualification collapses.

“AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF OF AKHIL REED AMAR AND VIKRAM DAVID AMAR IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “Thanks to this Court’s sound decision in Moore v. Harper, a ruling upholding the Colorado court will not create chaos, contrary to the fevered imaginations of some commentators.” • This is silly. In Colorado and Maine we have disqualification performed by two different branches of government with two different burdens of proof (both by Democrats, I might add). Imagine the election was decided by the electoral votes of either of those two states. How would that not be chaos?

“BRIEF OF PROFESSOR DEREK T. MULLER AS AMICUS CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “Any decision that purports to leave to Congress some decision-making authority over this area must be precise. Open-ended deference to Congress risks statements used out of context to manufacture an election crisis in the months to come.” • Hmm. “Purports”? What the heck is Section 5 in there for, then?

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“The 14point3 Campaign” [Free Speech For People]. A useful aggregation, though not exactly neural. Ben Binswanger, the Director, used to be on the board of Demos, the thinktank that famously fired blogger Matt Bruenig “after he called the Center for American Progress’s president Neera Tanden a scumbag.”


Less than a year to go!

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DeSantis (R): “Ron DeSantis Ends Campaign: “A Majority Of Republican Primary Voters Want To Give Donald Trump Another Chance” (video) [RealClearPolitics]. “I am today my campaign.” • That video. Why did he ever run? Why did anyone think he should?

DeSantis (R): “‘A total failure to launch’: Why Ron DeSantis was doomed from the start” [NBC]. “[I]n the week before the all-important caucuses, Scott Wagner, the recently installed head of the super PAC, was doing something that aides found puzzling: He was literally doing a puzzle. In the headquarters of Never Back Down in West Des Moines, Iowa, Wagner was, according to some of his staff, spending a significant amount of time in the precious final few days constructing a peaceful 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a landscape. In a photo taken on Jan. 9, shared with NBC News by a Never Back Down team member, others in the room were hunched over their laptops.” • Photo:

Wagner, a Yale man, was a college buddy of DeSantis

Haley (R): “The fall of Nikki Haley’s comet” [Ben Domenech, The Spectator]. “Tn the waning days of 2023, the last weeks of the before-time — the moments before the Republican Party would inevitably crown the once and future king who rules upon high from Mar-a-Lago — the billionaire donor class of the Republican Party decided en masse that it would endorse a candidate in a final desperate attempt to block Donald Trump. They settled on Nikki Haley, the erstwhile South Carolina governor turned United Nations ambassador, whose star had risen oh-so-very slightly in early state polling, if you squinted hard enough…. Is this just another example of very rich people throwing money at very dumb projects in a vain attempt to block right-wing populism? Or is it just a signal about where they want the party to go, a performative “we tried to tell you” last-ditch attempt to revise the history of the 2024 cycle in anticipation of a Trump defeat and a post-election party reset?” • Interestingly, the Daily Mail’s affidavit-supported story of Haley’s extra-marital shenanigains sank like a stone…

Haley (R): “And then there were 2 — media coverage of Ron DeSantis dropping out of the presidential race” [Poynter Institute]. “The New Hampshire Union Leader endorsed Haley in the primary. The editorial board wrote, ‘She is catching fire for good reason. She is a smart, thoughtful, experienced candidate who is ready to be the next president of these great United States. She is easily the most qualified candidate on either ballot.’” • The Union-Leader endorses a RINO. O tempora, o mores…..

Haley (R): “Haley fires at Trump attacks before New Hampshire primary” [NBC]. “‘If you have someone that’s 80 in office, their mental stability is going to continue to decline. That’s just human nature,’ Haley said Sunday on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’” • I think Haley means “acuity” and not “stability” but whatever.

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Trump (R): “‘Our System Needs to Be Broken, and He Is the Man to Do It’” [Politico]. How one NH voter moved from Burgum to Haley to Trump: “‘They’re afraid as hell, because this time around he’s going to take the DOJ, he’s going to take the bureaucracy of the FBI, the CIA, all the stupid intel agencies that don’t do shit, and he’s going to upset the apple cart,’ he said. I referred to the argument Trump is now making over and over that he’s going to go after them because he says they’re going after him but really they’re going after you — his supporters. ‘That’s exactly the way I feel,’ Johnson said. ‘Did you feel like that before he said that,’ I said, ‘or did he say that and you said yes?’ ‘He said that, and I said yes,’ he said. ‘And trust me, the guy’s a pig, he’s a womanizer — arrogant a—–e,’ Johnson said of Trump. ‘But I need somebody that’s going to go in and lead, and I need somebody that’s going to take care of the average guy.’ ‘But is taking care of the average guy and breaking the system the same thing?’ I said. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Because they’re all in it for themselves.’ ‘And if you break the system, what does that look like?’ ‘Accountability,’ he said.”

Trump (R): “Trump’s Grip on GOP Is Clear in New Hampshire: ‘I Love That Man’” [Wall Street Journal]. One voter: “‘As Trump constantly says, ‘They’re not going after me; they’re going after you’ … And he’s absolutely right.’” • Same talking point, two separate articles. Interesting!

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Trump (R): “Polls Show Trump Could Be Doomed If He’s Convicted. Will a Trial Happen in Time?” [Politico]. On the January 6 case: “Smith’s team indicated that its overarching objective is to have the Supreme Court hear the case and issue an opinion during its current term. The current term is likely to end in late June or early July, which means two things. First, the justices would have to be willing to meet this timeline. And second, there would likely need to be some expedited briefing and argument before the court — all of which is entirely feasible given the nature of the issue and its constitutional and political significance…. The setting of trial dates in federal courts is governed by a statute called the Speedy Trial Act, which requires judges to determine whether any pretrial delay would serve ‘the ends of justice’ and ‘outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.’ This is the highly unusual case in which the public has itself expressed a strong interest in a speedy trial…. There are four full months between the end of June, when the Supreme Court finishes its term, and Election Day on Nov. 5. On paper, that is more than enough time for the trial to take place…. A trial in Washington during that summer or fall period would also require confronting some issues that will emerge from the overlapping political calendar. For instance, the Republican Party’s convention is scheduled for July 15-18 in Milwaukee. Trump could argue that he is entitled to be present for all of the convention proceedings in order to secure his nomination…. After the conventions, Trump might also argue that a trial before the general election would interfere with his ability to campaign against Biden…. But it is far from clear that Chutkan will care, and there is no reason she has to…. The department has an unwritten, ’60-day rule’ where prosecutors traditionally avoid taking major steps in criminal cases that could affect an election — like charging a candidate — in the two-month period leading up to Election Day…. This may not save Trump for two reasons, however. First, the written and unwritten policies do not on their face prevent the Justice Department from continuing to trial in a case that was charged well in advance of an election. That is particularly the case where, as here, the department has a compelling argument that people are actually entitled to know the outcome of the trial before they head to the polls and potentially reelect the defendant. Second, the Justice Department’s policies do not constrain Chutkan.”

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Trump (R): “Top Fani Willis ally calls for lead prosecutor Nathan Wade to step aside” [WaPo]. “A key ally of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) said Saturday that the lead prosecutor of the election interference case against former president Donald Trump should step aside amid allegations that Willis hired him while the two were in a personal relationship. Norm Eisen, who served as special counsel to the House of Representatives’ first impeachment of Trump, told reporters Saturday that there is no legal basis to disqualify Nathan Wade, an Atlanta-area lawyer whom Willis hired on contract as a special prosecutor to lead the case. But the controversy is not going away and threatens to delay the case against the former president, which must be avoided, Eisen said. He said Willis should not step aside because of the importance of the case and because the voters of Fulton County elected her to the job…. Eisen said that if Wade were to ask his ethics advice, he would say: ‘No matter the law, discretion is the better course of valor.’ Eisen’s remarks represent one of the first instances of a Willis ally acknowledging the potential damage that the allegations have brought to her and the case.”

Trump (R): “How Allegations of an Office Romance Came to Complicate the Case Against Trump” [New York Times]. “A review of Mr. Wade’s more than two decades as a lawyer by The New York Times also raises the issue of his qualifications, and whether they were sufficient to justify his appointment to a job that has made him more than $650,000 in taxpayer dollars and catapulted him to the top of one of the highest-profile criminal cases in the country.” • Oh.

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Biden (D): “The many faces of Kevin Morris, Hunter Biden’s financial patron” [The Hill]. “Morris was largely unknown to most people until he emerged as the Democratic donor who reportedly paid Hunter Biden millions to handle his unpaid taxes and maintain his lavish lifestyle. The Hollywood lawyer and producer portrayed himself as a good Samaritan on a biblical scale — a good man who simply found a desperate stranger on the road and gave him more than $5 million…. Despite news reports of buyers flocking to buy the art, it turns out it was largely Morris who bought the art. Notably, however, Morris only reportedly paid Bergès’ 40 percent commission on the $875,000 purchases. It is not clear whether Morris used the sales to wipe out part of the loan debt. That would be a clever way to treat the money as a loan, if it were used for that purpose. You simply have Hunter crank out dubious pieces of art and arrange for an ally to throw art shows in New York. You then have media allies write how buyers were ‘floored’ by Hunter’s talent. Finally, you pay the commission on the excessive prices for the art while writing off the value of the art as a type of in-kind payment of the loan. While many mocked at the Pablo Picasso-level pricing of Hunter’s art pieces (some works approached half a million dollars), those inflated prices would be useful to count as direct or indirect payments for the loans. We still do not know how these purchases or the loans were treated, and whether Morris was acting as a donor, friend, or lawyer. Now, Morris is adding a new role to this pile of identities, reportedly supporting a new movie on Hunter Biden. ”

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RFK Jr. (D): “The un-American disenfranchisement of RFK Jr. voters” [The Hill]. “To circumvent the obstacles being deliberately put in their way, this week the Kennedy campaign announced that it had created the ‘We the People’ party. Paperwork for the party is being filed in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi and North Carolina. In Texas, the campaign filed paperwork for the ‘Texas Independent Party.’ Why? Because it makes it somewhat easier to get around the obstacles that disenfranchise voters. As the Kennedy campaign outlined in a press release, ‘with these political party filings, the number of signatures needed to get Kennedy on the ballot in every state has been reduced by about 330,000, a third of the total needed nationwide.’ That is progress, but the campaign should still not have to waste precious time and resources fighting partisan provisions enacted to deny American citizens the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. By any measure, RFK Jr. is beyond a legitimate candidate who is not only growing his popularity in the face of media censorship, but outraising ‘major’ Republican candidates.”

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“America Stares Down a Trump-Biden Repeat in Disbelief and Denial” [New York Times]. “Even as both men stroll toward likely summer coronations and a fall rematch, an undercurrent of disbelief is coursing through the country. Many Republicans view Mr. Biden as so politically and physically weak that they think his party will replace him. Many Democrats can’t fathom that Mr. Trump could win another nomination while he is facing 91 felony counts and four criminal trials.” • The paper that more than any other drove RussiaGate — not to mention David Leonhardt’s hack job on Covid minimization — clutches its pearls and heads for the fainting couch over CT and “baseless theories” (like Michelle Obama at the top the ticket. (“[A] Hill-HarrisX poll conducted from November 18 to 19 showed that Michelle Obama would be a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination if President Joe Biden does not seek reelection.)

“Trump vs. Biden? No thanks. As 2024 election ramps up, many wish it were over” [USA Today]. “In conversations with voters across the country this week, many echoed that sense of fatigue and distaste for another Trump-Biden face-off. Election season is barely five days old, and many are already ready for it to end. And, with the country nearly evenly split in the polls, it’s precisely these disaffected and frustrated voters who will be pivotal in the Nov. 5 election. ‘What these voters are saying is: ‘I’m done.’ In two words: ‘I’m done,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. Paleologos says his polls suggest voters are sick of watching politicians trash one another. Instead, they’re saying: ‘I want to live. . I want my simple pleasures of life. I don’t like politicians. I hate politics. I don’t want to watch it,’ he said.” • The “urgency of normal” transposed to the political realm…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Your vagabond shoes, they are longing to stray….”

I wonder how many of those dudes are cops….

“Revealed: far-right figures try to create Christian nationalist ‘haven’ in Kentucky” [Guardian]. “The move is the latest effort by the far-right to establish geographical enclaves, following in the footsteps of movements like the so-called ‘American Redoubt‘, which encourages rightwingers to engage in “political migration” to areas in the interior of the Pacific north-west. But the underlying finances of land offerings associated with the ‘Highland Rim Project’ (HRP) in Kentucky suggest that buyers will pay a steep premium for living in a remote ideological enclave, while the scheme’s promoters are set to collect tidy profits after making few apparent improvements to the land…. [Joshua] Abbotoy offered few details on how the community would be run beyond saying: ‘Most of the leadership is going to be led by Protestant christians.’”


“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

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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Look for the Helpers

Filing this here since I’m amazed to see a major media figure saying something sensible on Covid:

A second example:


This looks like interesting technology, like an elastomeric but way cheaper (presumably). From this thread, well worth a read:

I should do a little research and find some (legitimate) vendors. Meanwhile, in the United States–

It’s like pulling teeth:

Immune Dysregulation

“The Checkup With Dr. Wen: Why it seems everyone is getting sick this winter” [WaPo]. But there are two groups of people who should keep testing early and often. The first are those who are eligible for antiviral treatments… The second are those . These people should refrain from visiting while ill and take a rapid coronavirus test just before the visit.” • No point breaking the chains of transmission for everyone!


“Outpatient treatment of COVID-19 and incidence of post-COVID-19 condition over 10 months (COVID-OUT): a multicentre, randomised, quadruple-blind, parallel-group, phase 3 trial” [The Lancet]. From the Abstract: “Outpatient treatment with metformin reduced long COVID incidence by about 41%, with an absolute reduction of 4·1%, compared with placebo. Metformin has clinical benefits when used as outpatient treatment for COVID-19 and is globally available, low-cost, and safe.”

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(If you want the full-size image, Command/CTRL-click on the thumbnail.)

[1] Half the cases under the curve take place after the peak…
[2] Big decline in the Northeast!
[3] “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] “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.
[5] Decrease for the state, decrease then increase for New York City. (This has been updating daily for a long-time, suddenly it’s intermittent [snarl].
[6] “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†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?
[7] -0.7%. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)
[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.
[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

There are no statistics of interest today.

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Manufacturing: “Boeing scrutiny spreads as FAA seeks checks on another 737 model” [Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse)]. “Scrutiny of Boeing’s manufacturing quality expanded after federal regulators told airlines to check the door plugs on a second 737 model, where operators have also found issues with fasteners. The US Federal Aviation Administration recommended that airlines inspect 737-900ER models that use mid-aft plugs of the same type that failed on an Alaska Airlines flight this month. The 737-900ER is an earlier model than the Max 9 used on Flight 1282 on Jan 5. According to Boeing data, 505 of the 737-900ER type of planes have been delivered to airlines globally. Not all utilize the door plugs, as their use is dependent on airlines’ seat configurations.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 71 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 22 at 12:09:33 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • What are they waiting for? A red heifer?

The 420

“When America First Dropped Acid” [The New Yorker]. “One evening in September of 1957, viewers across America could turn on their television sets and tune in to a CBS broadcast during which a young woman dropped acid. She sat next to a man in a suit: Sidney Cohen, the researcher who had given her the LSD. The woman wore lipstick and nail polish, and her eyes were shining. ‘I wish I could talk in Technicolor,’ she said. And, at another point, ‘I can see the molecules. I . . . I’m part of it. Can’t you see it?’ ‘I’m trying,’ Cohen replied. Were some families maybe—oh, I don’t know—eating meat loaf on TV trays as they watched this nice lady undergo her mind-bending, molecule-revealing journey through inner space? Did they switch to ‘Father Knows Best’ or ‘The Perry Como Show’ afterward?” • I missed it….

Class Warfare

Social capital not fungible?

News of the Wired

“What happens when an astronaut in orbit says he’s not coming back?” [Ars Technica]. Counter-measures: “‘When we got on orbit, I went down to the hatch on the side of the orbiter, and I padlocked the hatch control so that you could not open the hatch,’ [Brewster] Shaw said. ‘I mean, on the orbiter on orbit you can go down there and you just flip this little thing and you crank that handle once, the hatch opens and all the air goes out and everybody goes out with it, just like that. And I thought to myself, ‘Jeez, I don’t know this guy very well. He might flip out or something.’ So I padlocked the hatch shut right after we got on orbit, and I didn’t take the padlock off until we were in de-orbit prep.’” • And Spaceship Earth?

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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 Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “These little guys are emerging from a 1/2-inch hole in our sidewalk.” Life finds a way! Remember that amidst the madness….

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