2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2021 | naked capitalism


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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, there will be no UPDATEs today. It is what it is. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Energetic!

* * *

#COVID19

Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.

Vaccination by region:

The numbers bounce back. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

58.5% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Turkey in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

“Health officials say too few boosters behind rising COVID hospitalizations in parts of California” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. “OVID-19 hospitalizations are rising in some regions of California, with areas where there are lower vaccination rates recording hospitalization spikes, and COVID-19 admissions ticking up even in places with relatively high vaccination rates…. Some officials are pointing to a low uptake of booster shots, with statewide demand lower than anticipated. Health officials are warning that seniors who got their shots last winter and haven’t received a booster may see immunity start to wane, increasing exposure risk, especially as outdoor temperatures drop and the holidays approach. Across California, both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have plateaued after months of decline. Virus admissions have remained flat in some areas with higher vaccination rates, such as San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County. Areas with lower vaccination rates, such as Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno counties, are experiencing spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Virus hospitalizations have risen by more than 27 percent in San Bernardino and Fresno counties since mid-October. Admissions in Riverside County are up 21 percent over the last two weeks.”

Case count by United States regions:

I think we’re beyond fiddling and diddling to a very modest upward trend. I have drawn an anti-triumphalist black line to show how high the case count is. And a good thing Bubba came through, or we’d really be in the soup! This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling. That said, I don’t think the past rise is the surge some of us Bears have been waiting for (see the “tape watching” remarks below). It’s driven by cases widely distributed through inland California (see last Friday for maps).

Let’s look at the regional breakdowns again. First, the South:

Now the West:

Now the Midwest:

The Northeast:

First, Bubba’s off the hook. California is at least not skyrocketing. Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana are all on the rise. And New York and Pennsylvania are far above any other Northeastern state, and rising steadily. (Note that counties in states like this don’t necessarily appear in the CDC’s “Rapid Riser” map if their rise isn’t, er, rapid.) Those states that are not rising are flat, that is not approaching zero. I find this “slow and steady” picture very unsettling. Armageddon it’s not, but it suggests Covid is, at the very best, settling in at a very high level.

Here is a chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots case data (black dotted line) against the range model results (grey area), as well as the average of the model results (black line). with a I have helpfully highlighted the “fiddling and diddling” of the case data:

Now, it’s fair to say that the fiddling and diddling is within the tolerance of the models; the dotted line does not go outside the grey area. It’s also true that when we see an upward trend in the average model results (black line, lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. Needless to say, none of this conforms to the official narrative! But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go a away before Thanksgiving travel begins.

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report November 8, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California going green as fast as it went yellow. Arizona not out of the woods. New Mexico worse. Minnesota worryingly worse. Maine better, New Hampshire worse. (That’s concerning, because Southern New Hampshire is in essence a bedroom suburb for Boston.) Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out. We just saw that dynamic in California, amazingly enough.

Speculating freely: One thing to consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not an international hub on the scale of LAX or JFK/EWR. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. (Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 778,511 776,389. Ticking upward. But at this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid):

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Chile and Portugal accelerate once more. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *

Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“Feds seek tougher sentences for veterans who stormed Capitol” [Associated Press]. “Now, cases like his are presenting a thorny question for federal judges to consider when they sentence veterans who stormed the Capitol: Do they deserve leniency because they served their country or tougher punishment because they swore an oath to defend it? The Justice Department has adopted the latter position. In at least five cases so far, prosecutors have cited a rioter’s military service as a factor weighing in favor of a jail sentence or house arrest. Prosecutors have repeatedly maintained that veterans’ service, while commendable, made their actions on Jan. 6 more egregious. The participation of veterans in the riot was particularly shocking because some of them apparently used training they received in the U.S. military against their own government to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Several veterans are among the far-right extremists charged with plotting coordinated attacks on the Capitol, including Oath Keepers members who marched up the Capitol steps in a “stack” formation used by military infantrymen.”

Biden Administration

“Setting the Record Straight About what Biden’s Proposed Social Programs Would Do” [CEPR]. “[T]he benefits from even the current, reduced version of the budget reconciliation bill would be life-changing for tens of millions of Americans: A child tax credit of $250-$300 monthly for more than 35 million families, which was recently expanded to include millions of the poorest families. Free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds (average current cost to parents: $8,600 per year). Child care subsidies that would expand access to millions of children. Medicare would be expanded to include hearing coverage (the prior version of the bill included dental and vision as well). Millions of people who currently do not have access to Medicaid would get healthcare. What’s being proposed here is what most countries with national income comparable to the U.S. already have. Are Americans so different from everyone else? Don’t we want the same security for our health and our children? These questions answer themselves.”

“Inside the Democrats’ Battle to Build Back Better” [The New Yorker]. “The day after Biden’s visit, I put the question to Jayapal directly. She said that many members of the C.P.C. had been moved by the framework, the release of the legislative text, and by Biden’s pledge to pass the bill into law. ‘Just three weeks ago, we did not have a framework or bill text, we did not have the President saying that he was confident he could get fifty votes, and he didn’t have us on board,’ she said. She declined to discuss the substance of her meeting with Sinema, but did allow that it was ‘a very good conversation that was very, very helpful for me.’ (Another C.P.C. member told me that Jayapal had reported privately that Sinema was on board with the White House framework.) Jayapal also suggested that there was not much more progressives could hope to gain by drawing out the process any longer. ‘Everybody understands that this thing has been negotiated to death,” she said. “At some point, we gotta just get this done. And I think we are at that point.’” • And if the moderates screw the pooch, thereby screwing Biden, they’re not going to help themselves at all. Next week should be interesting.

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, the Democrat Party has more working parts than Stoller suggests, and they all reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all that. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

“Pharma Front Group Has Spent $1.2 Million Backing Sinema” [Daily Poster]. “A dark money group funded by drugmakers is blanketing the Arizona airwaves to build up support for Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who just helped gut Democrats’ drug pricing plan. Center Forward, which has long been bankrolled by the powerful drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), has spent roughly $1.2 million to promote Sinema in Arizona since September, according to data from AdImpact…. The new Sinema ad from Center Forward started running on TV and on Facebook on November 1…. The following day, Democrats announced that Sinema and several pharma-backed House Democrats had reached an agreement on a new, watered-down drug pricing plan that poses little threat to the industry… ‘The impact will be minimal,’ one industry analyst recently said, adding: ‘The compromise seems designed to let legislators claim an achievement while granting pharma protection.’” • Rotating villains get taken care of. Chuck, good job.

“Manchin sees his power grow” [The Hill]. This nugget: “Some progressives, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), warned earlier this year that Biden’s agenda shouldn’t be split up between a bill focused on hard infrastructure, a priority that enjoyed broader political support, and a second focused on social spending programs that are higher priorities for liberals. She foresaw that splitting the agenda up into two bills might make it tougher to unify the party behind the social spending elements of Biden’s agenda.” • Warren should know, since a split into two bills was exactly the problem with her health care plan in 2020.

Polling on school closures:

Republican Funhouse

“Twitter flags GOP lawmaker’s anime video depicting him killing Ocasio-Cortez, attacking Biden as ‘hateful conduct’” [The Hill]. “Gosar shared an altered video Sunday evening in which he and other Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, are depicted as heroes from the Japanese anime series ‘Attack on Titan.’ The post-apocalyptic series revolves around a small civilization that lives in a bordered-off city to protect itself from giant human-like creatures called Titans. Ocasio-Cortez’s face is superimposed on one of the Titans, who is killed by Gosar’s character. His character also attacks a Titan with Biden’s face…. ‘This video is truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy,” Gosar said. ‘The depiction of Mr. Biden pertains to his administration’s decision to leave the border open while illegal aliens invade from all points.’ Gosar did not apologize. ‘It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life. Congressman Gosar cannot fly. The hero of the cartoon goes after the monster, the policy monster of open borders. I will always fight to defend the rule of law, securing our borders, and the America First agenda,’ he added.’” • Well, I agree that personnel is policy, but I think that killing one’s political enemies, even symbolically, leads nowhere good. (Well, I suppose you could consider that the Caning of Sumner led somewhere good, after a few twists and turns. Radio Rwanda, not so much.)

“Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials” [Reuters]. “In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept. In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die. ‘This might be a good time to put a f?????? pistol in your f?????? mouth and pull the trigger,’ the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. ‘Your days are f?????? numbered.’ The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats.” • This is bad. At the same time, as I keep saying, Republicans are more “serious” about their politics than Democrats. All the Democrats do complain and look for the refs. And there are no refs.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Unity of Oppression and the Turn to Successor Ideology” [Wesley Yang, Year Zero]. “The Successor Ideology posits what I call a ‘unity of all oppression’ narrative and sets itself in opposition to what it calls ‘Eurocentric cisheteronormative patriarchy’, which is a pretentious way of saying ‘the rule of straight white men’. The ideology says that whites are privileged over non-whites, that men are privileged over women, that the able-bodied are privileged over the non-able-bodied, that heterosexuals are privileged over homosexuals, and that every one of us has a unique experience of both privilege and oppression structured by the dimensions along which we are privileged or oppressed that in sum accounts for who we are and where we end up in the world . According to this account of social reality, one of the the goals of legitimate institutions, and part of the basis of their mandate to rule in the age of ideological succession, is that they must work to dismantle those implicit hierarchies in all their myriad guises. Whether or not any of them really understand that they did so, or intend to follow through on all the implications of the act, the countless private and public organizations that declared themselves ‘anti-racist’ organizations all signed on to fulfill the agenda that flows from these principles. If they prove resistant to any specific reform demanded of them by the successor coalition, they will be confronted by their prior commitments and asked — politely at first, and then through the medium of screaming fits and claims of genocide — to live up to them.” • It seems to me that various parts of the Democrat Party as defined above are more captured by the “Successor Ideology” (awful, awful name) than others; NGOs, for example, since that’s the sector that employs “professional activists.”

“Senators Cling to Fossil Fuel Stocks as World Heats Up” [ReadSludge]. “The households of at least 28 U.S. senators own investments in the fossil fuel industry worth as much as a combined $12.6 million, according to Sludge’s analysis of financial disclosures. The investments are valued at a combined minimum of $3.7 million and a maximum of $12.6 million, and many of them have been held by the lawmakers for at least three years. Of the 28 senators, at least 20 hold publicly-traded stocks in companies like oil supermajor Chevron, pipeline giant Enterprise ‘Products, or electric utility NextEra that belong to trade associations that are lobbying Congress against taking up strong legislation to curb polluting emissions. Five senators are invested in energy funds built around oil and gas assets, and three own non-public stock in private fossil fuel companies. The investments, held by the senators, their spouse, jointly, or a dependent, are disclosed to the Senate Office of Public Records in very broad ranges and often buried in hundreds of pages of scanned paper forms, making a more precise count of their total value impossible.” • With charts.

“What it’s Like to See Bernie Sanders in 2021” [Benjamin https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/?id=591318828740476]. “[A]fter Bernie tells us that we need Medicare-for-All and Tuition-Free College, he then tells us we should be excited about a bill that doesn’t do those things. There’s no headliner here, nothing you can put on a shirt or a sticker. It’s a basket of mid-tier reforms. I like many of them. I am all for relieving pressure on the housing market. I’d be happy to see the end of ‘right-to-work’ laws…. What do I see when I look at Bernie Sanders in 2021? I see a kind man, a good man, a man who wants to help young people do what he himself was unable to do. But around him, I see sharks. Millennial careerists, looking to steal valor, appropriating his movement to serve their own venal ends.” • Reads even more sadly today than it did back in August. Even $3.5T wasn’t enough. And here we are, a supposedly civilized country without dental.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US surged to 6.2% in October of 2021, the highest since November of 1990 and above forecasts of 5.8%. Upward pressure was broad-based, with energy costs recording the biggest gain (30% vs 24.8% in September), namely gasoline (49.6%). Inflation also increased for shelter (3.5% vs 3.2%); food (5.3% vs 4.6%, the highest since January of 2009), namely food at home (5.4% vs 4.5%); new vehicles (9.8% vs 8.7%); used cars and trucks (26.4% percent vs 24.4%); transportation services (4.5% vs 4.4%); apparel (4.3% vs 3.4%); and medical care services (1.7% vs 0.9%). The monthly rate increased to 0.9% from 0.4% in September, also higher than forecasts of 0.6%, boosted by higher cost of energy, shelter, food, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased further to 267 thousand in the week ending November 6th, from an upwardly revised 271 thousand in the previous period and just above market expectations of 265 thousand. It was the lowest number of jobless claims since the pandemic hit the US economy back in March 2020 as the labor market improves.”

* * *

Finance: “The Hidden Dangers of ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Apps” [Wired]. “Investors love the companies behind the apps. In August, Square agreed to buy Australia-based Afterpay for $29 billion. Affirm went public in February and is valued at $45 billion. Europe-based Klarna was valued at $45.6 billion in a July funding round. But consumer advocates are skeptical. Marisabel Torres, the director of California policy at the Center for Responsible Lending, says ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ is a misnomer. These are short-term loans paid back in installments, with terms that can vary dramatically. Some include late fees but not interest; others charge interest. Some report to credit bureaus and some don’t. Consumer advocates say the variety of offerings can be especially confusing for younger users with little credit history or financial literacy.”

Commodities: “Does a secret desert mine hold the key to Morocco’s electric vehicle ambitions?” [Middle East Eye]. Clickbait headline, but still interesting. “Battery production has sparked a special interest in Morocco, given the country’s deposits of cobalt, the rare metal critical for the production of EVs’ lithium-ion batteries. Nearly all of Morocco’s cobalt is sourced in the southern province of Ouarzazate, at the Bou Azzer mine owned by Managem, a private company listed on the Casablanca stock exchange in which the royal family also maintains a stake…. Unlike in other countries, where the metal is extracted along with copper and nickel, Moroccan cobalt is mined as a standalone product and is known to be one of the purest varieties in the world.” And the Moroccan government wants foreign investment to move up the value chain to battery production.

The Bezzle: “American Politicians Are Infatuated With Crypto” [Bloomberg]. “The 2021 races weren’t quite the Crypto Elections, in the way various tech trends tend to periodically captivate the national media during a voting cycle. See: the 2008 Facebook Elections. But with politicians and their backers increasingly enamored with crypto and its mythical reputation as a source of free money, such a designation might be looming ominously on the horizon.” • The clearest possible indication that Bitcoin is a scam and a fraud.

Tech: “Gatik fully removes the driver from its autonomous trucks” [Freight Waves (dk)]. “Autonomous vehicle company Gatik announced Monday that it is now moving freight for Walmart in its box trucks with no one in the driver’s seat. ‘This is not a one-off thing. This is not a demo. This is us doing commercial deliveries for Walmart,’ Gautam Narang, CEO and co-founder of Gatik, told Modern Shipper. ‘Obviously the team is very excited. The plan is to expand this to different markets.’ According to the company, this is the first known use worldwide of an autonomous middle-mile truck running without a safety driver in the driver’s seat.” Key point, buried in the middle: “Narang said , covering 7.1 miles round trip over both urban and suburban roads. The route includes a mix of vehicle types and pedestrians, and the trucks move at speeds up to 45 mph. Two trucks are making between four and six total runs a day. .” • If your algorithm sucks, control your inputs. This is an improvement over a retirement community golf cart, but not by much. (There’s a human occupant to pull the emergency brake.) Level 5 this is not, hence “autonomous” is a clickbait.

Tech: “Twitter brings $3 ‘Twitter Blue’ subscriptions to the US” [Engadget]. “The service is designed to appeal to Twitter’s most dedicated power users, with the kind of specialized features that have sometimes appeared in third-party Twitter clients. For example, Twitter Blue comes with an ‘undo’ feature that’s likely the closest thing to an edit button the company will ever make.” • I do like, in principle, that a portion of the fee goes to publishers (although only 300; that’s not many, and reinforces the power of the “worst of the worst”).

Tech: “Apple backs off of breaking Face ID after DIY iPhone 13 screen replacements” [The Verge]. “Soon after the iPhone 13 launched, repair experts found that swapping out iPhone 13 screens would break Face ID unless you also moved over a tiny control chip from the original screen…. The current transfer procedure looks to be quite challenging, requiring time, special equipment, and the ability to microsolder. For many independent repair shops that may rely on screen repairs as a key line of revenue, the process is likely prohibitively difficult and could be damaging to their business…. Apple tells The Verge it will release a software update that doesn’t require you to transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap.” • No release date.

Supply Chain: “Retailers lose love for Asia: Snarled supply chains force manufacturing exodus to Balkans, LatAm” [Reuters]. “Major clothing and shoe companies are moving production to countries closer to their U.S. and European stores, smarting from a resurgence in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in Vietnam and China that slowed or shut down production for several weeks earlier this year….. The latest example is Spanish fashion retailer Mango, which told Reuters on Friday it has “accelerated” its process of increasing local production in countries such as Turkey, Morocco and Portugal. In 2019, the company largely sourced its products from China and Vietnam. Mango told Reuters that it would “considerably” expand the number of units manufactured locally in Europe in 2022. Similarly, U.S. shoe retailer Steve Madden (SHOO.O) on Wednesday said it had pulled back production in Vietnam and had shifted 50% of its footwear production to Brazil and Mexico from China, while Rubber clogs maker Crocs (CROX.O) said last month it was moving production to countries including Indonesia and Bosnia. Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, Morocco and Turkey were some of the countries drawing new interest from clothing and shoe producers, though China continues to produce a large share of the apparel for U.S. and European clothing chains.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 85 Extreme Greed (previous close: 86 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 82 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 10 at 12:59pm.

Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.) –>

Police State Watch

“Astroworld deaths spur calls for independent review” [Associated Press]. “The deaths of eight people in a crush of fans at a music festival have led to calls for an independent, outside investigation instead of one by the Houston police, who along with the fire department played a key role in crowd control and other safety measures at the show…. Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva declined to comment on whether the department’s close involvement in the event created a conflict or if it was considering handing the probe off to an outside agency. Such decisions are often made in investigations like police shootings…. The police department’s probe would be separate from any independent investigation ordered by County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County’s top elected official, according to Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the county judge’s office. Hidalgo hasn’t decided who would conduct such an independent review or how it would be done, Lemaitre said Monday….”

Gunz

“Prosecution rests on Day 7 of Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial; defense opens its case” [Journal-Sentinel]. “Through much the first five days of testimony, cellphone video and testimony from various participants did little to undermine the defense’s assertion Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Even key state witnesses affirmed that one of Rittenhouse’s victims had been acting aggressively and erratically all night, and had threatened at one point to kill, and that another had pointed a gun at Rittenhouse before he shot him in the arm. New drone video and a medical examiner’s explanation of gunshot wounds Tuesday cast a different light on the first homicide just before the prosecution rested at midday…. If [Doug Kelley, an assistant medical examiner from Milwaukee’s] version was correct, Rittenhouse hit Rosenbaum twice before firing the lethal shot to the back.” • And all to protect a car lot, at least according to Rittenhouse.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Labor Beat Is Dead — Long Live the Labor Beat” [Jacobin]. “In the late 1800s, nearly every daily paper in New York City had its own labor reporter, and independent local weekly labor papers proliferated. By 1925, there were seventy-two newspapers and magazines publishing on labor topics in Chicago alone, with many of those outlets published in languages other than English. These publications were often directly connected to the labor movement: the Industrial Workers of the World had a printing press, and unions published their own papers, which were distributed to stewards and local union officers. The Federated Press labor news service launched in 1919, and labor radio programs spread across the country in the 1930s and 1940s. Much of this coverage was produced by workers themselves, with some of them trained in workers’ schools established by trade unions and radicals. As one organizing manual put it, “nothing that happens to the worker is unimportant.” Training workers to tell their own stories, reporting from contract negotiations and picket lines, was key to countering the bias of the capitalist rags. There are few such projects today, because organized labor has not just been in decline but has effectively bottomed out — it is on the floor. I teach a writing workshop for organizers through The Forge, and there is talk in the labor movement of what expansive workers’ schools would look like today, but the infrastructure remains lacking, and it is what’s required if we’re to scale the growing interest in the broadly defined labor movement into a healthy labor press. Smith rightly mentions Labor Notes in his column; that’s the stalwart of such efforts, a media project that is an organizing project too. All media takes a side, but Labor Notes has long been the rare outlet in the United States that not only sides with rank-and-file workers but is largely of and by those workers, publishing dispatches from their workplaces and cohering networks across unions. Jacobin, too, runs a lot of workers’ accounts — for obvious reasons, we have a close relationship with Labor Notes. We can do so, though, because these are political projects; Labor Notes was created by socialists, a milieu of militants within the labor movement. As for corporate media, it has a ways to go before it can proclaim to be anything close to pro-labor.”

Groves of Academe

“Welcome to Rogues’ Gallery University” [Academe]. On the “University [sic] of Austin,” in one sentence, quoting Sarah Jones of New York Magazine: “[W]e’ve got, then, is a Bible college for libertarians.”

Class Warfare

Homeless encampments in Oakland, California. I turn down the audio but the visuals are quite something:





Worse than Third World, not just because we’re The Richest Country in the World™, but objectively worse. Messier, more chaotic, more dispirited, more dispiriting. No knock on the homeless, rather this reflects the conditions under which they labor.

News of the Wired

“Giant, free index to world’s research papers released online” [Nature]. “The catalogue, which was released on 7 October and is free to use, holds tables of more than 355 billion words and sentence fragments listed next to the articles in which they appear. It is an effort to help scientists use software to glean insights from published work even if they have no legal access to the underlying papers, says its creator, Carl Malamud. He released the files under the auspices of Public Resource, a non-profit corporation in Sebastopol, California, that he founded. Malamud says that because his index doesn’t contain the full text of articles, but only sentence snippets up to five words long, releasing it does not breach publishers’ copyright restrictions on the reuse of paywalled articles. However, one legal expert says that publishers might question the legality of how Malamud created the index in the first place. Some researchers who have had early access to the index say it’s a major development in helping them to search the literature with software — a procedure known as text mining.” • Interesting. Of course, there is the replication crisis….

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi 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. Today’s plant (EMM):

Another busy bee!

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