2:00PM Water Cooler 12/8/2021 | naked capitalism

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/8/2021 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches, recorded in 1981 (what a great archive). This is the one recording for this bird, so I feel I have to run it!

* * *

A lot of action in the charts today. On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.

Vaccination by region:

Jumpy. More data problems? (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.)

60.1% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 7.) We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan 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. Or perhaps the numbers are being managed, like earnings. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected from severe illness and hospitalization, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the Delta… With Omicron coming up fast on the outside

Case count by United States regions:

A slight drop amidst the fiddling and diddling (which often happens at peaks). The Midwest’s numbers are down, so here is that chart:

At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). Here is the current version of the 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 current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above:

Case data (black dotted line) has been within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within aggregated predictions (the grey area).

I wrote: “It’s too early to say ‘Dammit, CDC, your models were broken’; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.” The case data has now broken out of the grey area (see at “Oopsie!”). Since the models are aggregated conventional wisdom, it’s not fair to call them propaganda, exactly. Nevertheless. conventional wisdom is looking a little shaky, and anybody who relied on CDC models to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be rethinking. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, not updated:

I have marked the previous peak and current peak data points in yellow, and the current averate with a black “Fauci Line.” I wrote: “Now we’ll see how much higher it goes. It’s hard to know how pessimistic to be, but this tapewatcher’s guess is that this years peak will surpass 2020’s.” This tapewatcher expected to be right. But not instantly!

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” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties. Updated December 7 :

Some red going pink, or even yellow or green. Good news?

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), also December 2:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 812,205 810,432. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), not updated:

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’s duty 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.)

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

South Africa’s rise looks linear, even though this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *

“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 Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

Biden Administration

“President Biden’s pick for a key banking regulator backs out.” [New York Times]. “Republican opposition would not have mattered had Senate Democrats been united in favor of Ms. Omarova. . The White House also pulled Mr. Biden’s first choices to lead the Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At Ms. Omarova’s confirmation hearing, Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia, both Democrats, said they had serious concerns about her candidacy, although neither suggested she intended to subvert capitalism. Instead, they condemned her for having opposed legislation they both supported to roll back parts of the regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”

“Democrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China” [The Hill]. “Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is looking for a way to avoid a messy public split between President Biden and Senate Democrats over Russia and China policy by looking for a way to neutralize tough amendments on those two hot-button topics. Pressure is growing on Congress to act as Biden is scheduled to hold a video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to warn against a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday acknowledged that U.S.-Russia policy has taken on new importance amidst reports that Russia has 70,000 troops in Ukraine and plans to mass 175,000 troops along its border with Ukraine in preparation for an invasion early next year.” • The Blob puts forth a pseudopodium. (Incidentally, Biden’s “diplomatic boycott” of the Olympics in China is pretty gemtle, given that the athletes will perform. Who cares about anything else? Is it too much to hope for that Biden — now as the chief executive — has finally realized that the national security community is dominated by lunatic psychos?

“Democrats’ IRS bank account monitoring plan would affect 87M Americans, analysis shows” [FOX]. “Democrats crafted a plan earlier this year to require banks and other financial institutions to disclose accounts with $10,000 of annual deposits or outflows to the IRS, a move intended to help the agency crack down on wealthy tax cheats. Recipients of federal benefits like unemployment and Social Security would be exempt from the policy under the latest iteration of the proposal, which would also exclude any income received through a paycheck in which federal taxes are automatically deducted. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that some 87 million Americans who earn less than $400,000 in adjusted gross income would see their account information reported to the IRS. That represents a little more than half — about 59% — of the 148 million taxpayers in the U.S. earning less than $400,000. The Biden team has stressed that banks will not have to report individual transactions to the IRS, but rather ‘basic, high-level information on account inflows and outflows’ and that audit rates for Americans earning less than $400,000 annually would not go up.” • $10,000 of outflows hits a lot of people, as the JCT shows. It’s ridiculous on its face to think this reporting is only being put in place to soak the rich. Plus, audit rates are discretionary. $100,000 maybe.

“Payment Choice Act wins bipartisan backing” [Payments Dive]. “The Federal Reserve Board may be mulling a digital dollar, but U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has cash on his mind. He was so concerned about stores not accepting cash that he introduced the Payment Choice Act to preserve the right of Americans to pay in cash and to bar merchants from rejecting it. He first introduced the bill in 2019 and reintroduced it this past July. ‘There is kind of an attack on American currency right now,’ he said in an interview this month. ‘It kind of looks like a move toward a cashless society, but this move would really prevent a lot of Americans from buying necessities like food and medicine.’ Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, says he’s concerned about the purchasing power of 55 million Americans who don’t have a bank account or credit card, many of whom are minorities, elderly and disabled. ‘We can’t reject their needs because they don’t have a credit card or Apple Pay,’ he said. ‘I thought it was very important to defend these folks.’” And: “‘There is a certain segment of the population for whom cash is the preferred payment method,’ said Sarah Grotta, a director at payments consultant Mercator Advisory Group. ‘We’ve found in some of our surveys that those who use cash are using it because they feel it’s more safe,’ she said. ‘We used to think of cash as less safe, but consumers who have faced account takeovers or card fraud are sort of rethinking that.’” • Whoever thought of cash as less safe?


“Hispanic Voters Now Evenly Split Between Parties, WSJ Poll Finds” [Wall Street Journal]. “One year after giving Democratic House candidates more than 60% of their vote, according to polls at the time, the Journal survey found that Hispanic voters are evenly split in their choice for Congress. Asked which party they would back if the election were today, 37% of Hispanic voters said they would support the Republican congressional candidate and 37% said they would favor the Democrat, with 22% undecided. Hispanic voters were also evenly divided when asked about a hypothetical rematch in 2024 of the last presidential contenders, with 44% saying they would back President Biden and 43% supporting former President Donald Trump. In 2020, Mr. Biden won 63% support among Hispanic voters, nearly 30 points more than Mr. Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a large survey of the presidential electorate.” • Well, so much for the coalition of the ascendant, eh? What a debacle that was. After working hard to persuade voters who identify as white that the Democrat Party was not for them — unless they were professionals — the Democrats then proceed to lose the “Latinx” vote anyhow. Or at least men: “Hispanic voters in the survey ranked economic issues as the priority for Mr. Biden and Congress to address. Hispanic men said Republicans had the better economic policy, by a margin of 17 points. Hispanic women, by contrast, said Democrats had better economic plans, by a 10-point margin. A majority of Hispanic men said they would like to return to the policies that Mr. Trump pursued as president, while a majority of Hispanic women said they would rather stick with Mr. Biden’s policies.”

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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party 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. (Note that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. 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.

For an example of the class power that the PMC can wield, look no further than RussiaGate. All the working parts of the Democrat Party fired on all cylinders to cripple an elected President; it was very effective, and went on for years. Now imagine that the same Party had worked, during Covid, to create an alternative narrative — see Ferguson et al., supra, to see what such a narrative might have looked like, and with the unions (especially teachers) involved. At the very least, the Biden Administration would have had a plan, and the ground prepared for it. At the best, a “parallel government” (Gene Sharp #198) would have emerged, ready to take power in 2020. Instead, all we got was [genuflects] Tony Fauci. And Cuomo and Newsom butchering their respective Blue States, of course. The difference? With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance. In my alternative scenario, they would have been preparing for it.

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

Showing the PMC’s inability to govern, as a class they seem unable to expand their scope of operations into new fields. Consider the possibilities of the “Swiss Cheese Model.” Layered defenses include extensive testing, contact tracing, ventilation systems (not merely blue collar HVAC work, but design and evaluation), and quarantines. If we look at each layer as a jobs guarantee for credentialed professionals and managers, like ObamaCare, the opportunities are tremendous (and that’s before we get to all the training and consulting). And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get authoritarian followership (Fauci) and a totalizing and tribalizing faith in an extremely risky vax-only solution. Why? It’s almost as if they’re “acting against their own self-interest,” and I don’t pretend to understand it.

And I’m not the only one who’s puzzled. “Even if you…


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Man charged after Christmas tree outside Fox News building set on fire, police say” [NBC News] • After so many years, the War on Christmas is real!

This is really too bad:


Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US increased by 431,000 from a month earlier to 11.033 million in October of 2021, beating market expectations of 10.369 million. The largest increases were seen in accommodation and food services (+254,000); nondurable goods manufacturing (+45,000); and educational services (+42,000). Job openings decreased in state and local government, excluding education (-115,000).”

* * *
Inflation: “Six Things They’re Not Telling You About Inflation” [Daily Poster]. “Have you noticed that all the media fearmongering about wage inflation hasn’t mentioned the soaring salaries of corporate executives? Have you noticed how most of the headlines about price increases haven’t mentioned medicine, health insurance, and housing prices that have been skyrocketing for years? Have you noticed that stories about expensive essential goods don’t mention the record profits of the companies selling them? That’s not an accident. The discourse is being rigged and manipulated by media and political voices so that the conversation serves the business interests and donors benefiting from the status quo. Make no mistake, higher prices are annoying, and for 70 percent of households with an annual income below $40,000, they are causing financial hardship. For some people, the rate of inflation has outpaced wage increases. But the bottom 60 percent of earners have more money in their pockets than they did pre-pandemic, even after accounting for inflation, when wage increases and government programs like COVID relief checks and the Child Tax Credit are included. That spending successfully cut poverty nearly in half.”

Commodities: “Food for Thought: The Soy Journey from East to West” [Open Markets]. “With 1.41 billion people, an emerging middle class and a penchant for fried food and animal products, China houses more than half the global hog population (over 400 million heads). As a result, both soybean oil and soybean meal are in greater demand than ever. While China’s soybean imports reached a record 99.8 million metric tons in USDA marketing year 2020/21, imports for 2021/22 are anticipated to grow further, hitting 101 million metric tons, according to the USDA[1]. China’s demand for soybeans is so sizeable that it imports close to 60% of all the soybeans shipped in the world.”

Commodities: “Betting the ranch” [High Country News]. “After the fraud at Easterday Ranches was discovered, owner Gale Easterday steered his pickup onto the off-ramp of the highway and drove head-on into a semi-truck that was delivering his farm’s potatoes.” • Quite a lead. More: “[W]ithin two weeks of his death, everyone would know what Gale Easterday likely knew that day: Tyson Fresh Meats — one of the nation’s largest meat distributors — was investigating Easterday Ranches and slowly discovering that Gale’s son, Cody, had sold them hundreds of thousands of cattle that never existed.”

Retail: “Sneakerheads Have Turned Jordans and Yeezys Into a Bona Fide Asset Class” [Bloomberg]. “What [Joe] Hebert meant by “easy” was this: The day these Yeezys were released, he’d awoken at 3 a.m., signed on to the messaging platform Discord, and rousted 15 members of his ‘cook group,’ a term sneaker resellers use to describe their allies in arbitrage. When the shoes went on sale an hour later, Hebert’s team swarmed the Yeezy Supply website using specialized computer programs such as Cybersole, Kodai, and GaneshBot, each prepped with Hebert’s credit card information and capable of gaming a system meant to limit purchases to one pair per customer. By 6 a.m. the shoes were sold out, and Hebert’s bots had rung up $132,000 on his American Express. His company, West Coast Streetwear, resold the shoes in almost as little time as it had taken to buy them, clearing $20,000 in profit. ‘Anything that’s releasing that I know I can make a guaranteed buck on, I’m gonna go full into,’ Hebert said. ‘That’s just my style.’ Flipping sneakers has been a viable business proposition for decades.”

Tech: “How TikTok Reads Your Mind” [New York Times]. The final paragraph: “One thing that reporting this column has reminded me: The menace that TikTok poses to American national security appears to be entirely hypothetical, and depends on your analysis of both the U.S.-China relationship and the future of technology and culture. But the algorithm’s grasp on what keeps me hooked — between trick tennis shots, Turkish food videos and all the other things it’s figured out I like to watch — did pose a clear and present danger to my ability to finish this column.” • Adding, the tech seems pretty normal.

The Bezzle: “Elizabeth Holmes was the boss. Or was she?” [The Protocol]. Final paragraph: “Leach got Holmes to acknowledge that Balwani wasn’t hiding his opinions about Theranos from her, contradicting a key piece of her testimony from Monday in which she claimed to have a hands-off relationship with his responsibilities and rarely overruled his decisions.”

The Bezzle: “Even in the Metaverse, Not All Identities Are Created Equal” [Bloomberg]. “The complexities of the real world are starting to bleed into the Metaverse — the virtual arena where identity functions as both a reflection on and determinant of social capital. Differences in prices for digital avatars based on race, gender and skin color are emerging among a popular collection of NFTs known as CryptoPunks, belying the utopian and egalitarian ideals touted by the closely connected world of crypto, decentralized finance, blockchain and non-fungible tokens. According to both participants in and observers of the space, these price discrepancies are partly explained by the lack of diversity among the investors who favor these status assets. It’s a demographic that skews mostly male and White. Female CryptoPunks, and those with darker skin colorings, tend to sell for less than avatars with male traits or fair skin. CryptoPunk investors say the price disparity is not a function of individual prejudice or racism, but of the fact that the people currently willing and able to pay top dollar for digital goods aren’t bidding on avatars that don’t look like them.”

The Bezzle: “Hackers Said to Seize $150 Million From BitMart Exchange” [Bloomberg]. “Hackers withdrew about $150 million of cryptocurrencies from BitMart wallets, according to the unverified Twitter account of the exchange’s chief executive officer….. BitMart last week announced the closure of a Series B fundraising round led by New York-based private equity firm Alexander Capital Ventures.” • Whoops.

The Bezzle: “Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump” [The New Yorker]. “By the time Howells ended his mining project, he had accumulated eight thousand coins—and in the fall of 2013 that stash was worth about $1.4 million. Howells’s salary at his engineering job was a small fraction of that, and he sometimes had to get up at 3 a.m. and travel long distances to make repairs to a town’s emergency-response system. Panicked, he checked his desk drawer. In it, he found the empty hard drive—not the one with the bitcoin folder.” • Oopsie… Howells was apparently a very early miner.

Tech: “Apple AirTags being used by thieves to track high-end cars to steal” [Ars Technica]. “York Regional Police (which serves an area north of Toronto) revealed that it has investigated five incidents in the past three months in which thieves have hidden AirTags on vehicles parked in public. Later, the thieves tracked down their targets to steal the cars at their leisure. Other Bluetooth-based trackers have been available for some time now, but the ubiquity of Apple devices (which communicate with AirTags via Apple’s Find My app) means it’s generally faster and more accurate to track something remotely via an AirTag than a rival device like a Tile. And while they undoubtedly make it easier for users to recover lost stuff, the tags are being exploited by criminals.”

Manufacturing: “Exclusive: SEC probes Tesla over whistleblower claims on solar panel defects” [Reuters]. “The U.S. securities regulator has opened an investigation into Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) over a whistleblower complaint that the company failed to properly notify its shareholders and the public of fire risks associated with solar panel system defects over several years, according to a letter from the agency. The probe raises regulatory pressure on the world’s most valuable automaker, which already faces a federal safety probe into accidents involving its driver assistant systems. Concerns about fires from Tesla solar systems have been published previously, but this is the first report of investigation by the securities regulator.”

Manufacturing: “Giant Tesla Battery Site That Caught Fire Now Open in Australia” [Bloomberg]. • Elon keeps building things that catch fire. I sure hope nothing like that happens to his Mars rocket.

* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 22 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:01pm.

Health Care

“Car crash deaths have surged during COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why” [Los Angeles Times]. “The latest evidence suggests that after decades of safety gains, the pandemic has made U.S. drivers more reckless — more likely to speed, drink or use drugs and leave their seatbelts unbuckled…. Experts say that behavior on the road is likely a reflection of widespread feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. ‘We might decide: What does a seatbelt or another beer matter, anyway, when we’re in the middle of a pandemic?’ said Shannon Frattaroli, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The rise in motor vehicle deaths lines up with other pandemic-era trends: Alcohol sales have soared, drug overdoses have set new records, and homicides have seen their biggest increase on record. COVID-19 marks ‘a sea change in psychology,’ said Frank Farley, a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, who views reckless driving as a form of rebellion — or what he calls ‘arousal breakout.’ ‘You’ve been cooped up, locked down, and have restrictions you chafe at,’ he said. ‘So if you can have an arousal breakout, you want to take it.’ Before the pandemic, safety on U.S. roadways had been improving for decades, thanks to enforcement of seatbelt laws and the advent of airbags, improved braking and stability control, and other safety features.” • Sounds a lot like deaths of despair.

“UConn Recognized For Its Work Studying Covid-19 in Wastewater [NBC Connecticut]. “[UConn] was just designated as one of the country’s nine ‘Centers of Excellence’ for its wastewater-based epidemiology. UConn was one of the first universities in the nation to test wastewater for Covid-19. ‘It’s a really way to monitor the presence of viral load in a particular sewage system, oftentimes, before people show symptoms,’ explained Rachel O’Neill, director of the Institute for Systems Genomics at UConn. ‘So the biggest challenge with sewage wastewater is that you have large volumes and a lot of dilution, right? So how do you capture enough virus that you can detect it and then measure those levels over time. And so [Kendra Maas, facility director for microbial analysis, resources and services] spent quite a bit of time over at the beginning of the pandemic, really narrowing down this protocol and getting this to work on wastewater on campus. And it allowed us to look at campus as a whole and areas of campus that may be hotspots for increases and Covid cases. And then she was able to expand that to support local communities and do that kind of testing. By adapting that technology to more mobile technology, ones that didn’t require a pump that we could actually just, you know, stick something into a hole and measure SARS-Cov-2 levels.”

[“Documenting COVID-19” (dk)]. “Documenting COVID-19 is a repository of searchable documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic obtained through state open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Click on a state for details about the 284 record sets available as of December 1, 2021, and news coverage that have used those materials.”

“Why do so many people get cancer at exactly age 65?” (locked) [Welcome to Hell World]. • Because that’s when Medicare kicks in, and people postpone treatment for cancer until they can afford it. Barbaric.

Jargon thread:


Fomites thread:


Zeitgeist Watch

Another armed formation:


Seems to be a thing–

“Nevada politician wishes you a Merry Christmas — with guns” [CNN]. “At first glance, it’s like any other holiday card: multiple generations of a family in matching red shirts and jeans standing in front of a tree. Because it’s Fiore, her version features her adult daughters, their husbands and one of her grandchildren holding firearms. ‘It’s up to Americans to protect America. We’re just your ordinary American family,’ Fiore said in a Facebook picture posted December 1 signed, ‘With love & liberty, Michele.’”

XMassie cheer:


“Kyle Rittenhouse says he is destroying AR-15 used in Kenosha shootings” [NBC]. • Real? Or very well-advised?

Class Warfare

“Kellogg to permanently replace striking employees as workers reject new contract” [Reuters]. “Kellogg Co (K.N) said on Tuesday a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers have voted against a new five-year contract, forcing it to hire permanent replacements as employees extend a strike that started more than two months ago. Temporary replacements have already been working at the company’s cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee where 1,400 union members went on strike on Oct. 5 as their contracts expired and talks over payment and benefits stalled. ‘Interest in the (permanent replacement) roles has been strong at all four plants, as expected. We expect some of the new hires to start with the company very soon,’ Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said. Kellogg also said there was no further bargaining scheduled and it had no plans to meet with the union.” • I remember — old codger that I am — watching Captain Kangaroo in the morning, where Kellog’s was a sponsor. “The best to you each morning.” Ah well, nevertheless.

News of the Wired

“Repetitive Stress” [Long Reads]. I wonder if our collective relationship and acknowledgement of injury is skewed because of the way mass-consumed sport is interwoven with trauma. The history of sport is a history of violence. Many nights of my own childhood were defined by the sound of Chris Berman’s voice on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football, going over the biggest tackles, hits, and sacks of the day. I ingested that without thought, relishing the amplified crunch of one human destroying another. Injuries in popular sports like football or basketball happen at once, suddenly, amid violence that ranges from a casual nudge to a visceral tackle. And though the consistent violence is a kind of trauma, the injuries are more acutely traumatic. A torn ACL. A concussion. A fracture. There are, in these sports, injuries that are “life-threatening,” “career-ending,” and “bone-breaking.” If these are the injuries we collectively witness, do they make us ignore the smaller, more ordinary injuries we walk around with on a daily basis? Sometimes I feel like I can’t admit my hurt.”

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Contact information: 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 (griffen):

Griffen writes: “Mid-November this year, northern GA. Good hiking weather, near Tallulah Gorge.”

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Readers, I could still use just a few more plants, so if you could send some photos to the address below, that would be great! I’d really like to see photos of harvests or completed projects, to inspire people to plan for spring over the winter. Also fall foliage? Thank you!
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