2:00PM Water Cooler 12/9/2021 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches. I skipped the one that had never been recorded!

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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:

A roller coaster. 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.)

60.4% 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). Big jump today, a change from 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:

Fiddling and diddling (which often happens at peaks). The Midwest’s numbers are down, so here is that chart:

Not as encouraging as it might be. The drop, and hence a big part of the fiddling and diddling, is due to Michigan.

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 them to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be taking another look at their assumptions. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

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

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. Not updated:

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

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), not updated:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 813,904 812,205. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), 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.

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“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

Biden Administration

“Billionaire Koch-Backed Group Sues FTC Over Antitrust Enforcement” [Bloomberg]. “A nonprofit backed by billionaire Charles Koch sued the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to obtain documents related to a series of policy changes that have been criticized by the country’s biggest business lobbying group as an attack on American companies. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a complaint on Wednesday in federal court in Washington seeking an order requiring the FTC to produce records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request the group filed with the agency. ‘The FTC’s aggressive agenda on antitrust enforcement is out of step with mainstream legal thinking and is best regarded as anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and harmful to economic growth and prosperity,’ it said.”

“Sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine ‘not in the cards right now,’ Biden says” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of unilaterally sending U.S. combat troops to Ukraine if Russia invades the country — at least for now. ‘That’s not on the table,’ Biden told reporters as he departed the White House en route to Kansas City, Mo. ‘We have a moral obligation and a legal obligation to our NATO allies if [Russia] were to attack, under Article 5. It’s a sacred obligation. That obligation does not extend … to Ukraine.’ ‘It would depend upon what the rest of the NATO countries were willing to do, as well,’ Biden added. ‘But the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not in the cards right now. What will happen is there will be severe consequences.’”

“Florida National Guard troops are somehow caught up in Russia’s showdown with Ukraine” [Task & Purpose]. “ore than 100 Florida National Guard troops are currently deployed to Ukraine as U.S. intelligence officials continue to warn that Russia is poised to launch a crushing invasion of the country early next year. While this small American force is based in western Ukraine – nearly 700 miles from the country’s eastern borders, where up to 175,000 Russian troops are reportedly massing – the presence of U.S. troops in Ukraine adds even more volatility to an already combustible situation…. These National Guard troops are not allowed to accompany Ukrainian forces into combat, said Marine Lt. Col. Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman. Semelroth also said that U.S. special operations forces regularly conduct exercises with their Ukrainian counterparts. He declined to say how many American troops are currently deployed to Ukraine, citing security concerns.” • Holy moley, get those [family blogging] human tripwires outta there, before some Azov Battalion loon whacks one of ’em and points the finger at Putin.

“Fauci says Santa received his booster shot and is ‘good to go’ for Christmas” [USA Today]. “‘Santa already has great innate immunity,’ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA TODAY. ‘This year he is even more protected because he has been fully vaccinated and boosted. Santa will be just fine and is good to go!… ‘I vaccinated Santa Claus myself,’ he added. ‘I measured his level of immunity and he is good to go.’” • Since vaccination doesn’t prevent transmission, Santa Claus could be the Father Christmas of all super-spreaders. We’ll just have to hope Santa masks up — though Fauci didn’t say anything about that — and isn’t an asymptomatic transmitter, shedding millions of virions all over the naughty and nice. If those quotes don’t persuade you that Fauci’s a [family blogging] psycho, nothing will.

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…

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“Opinion: David Perdue confesses he would have aided a coup. He’s not the only one.” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo]. “Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are aiding this effort by refusing to install breakers that would short-circuit a coup in 2022 or 2024. They refuse to touch the filibuster, so there will be no law to head off the next John Eastman memo or to prevent the replacement of impartial election officials. This pre-planned coup is what President Biden enables when he refuses to raise the filibuster in speeches and does not signal that this is a red line for his party.” • Rubin is a Republican, for pity’s sake. And she’s only saying what the Democrat NGOs are saying. But the electeds… just don’t seem to care. Are they right?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 43 thousand from the previous period to 184 thousand in the week ending December 4th, the lowest level since early September 1969 and below market expectations of 215 thousand, as demand for labor remains strong amid the ongoing economic recovery and as many employers seek to retain workers. The 4-week moving average of claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, dropped to 218.75 thousand, a new pandemic low.”

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US went up at a record 2.3% mom to $759.4 billion in October of 2021, slightly higher than initial estimates of a 2.2% rise. Increases were seen in inventories of durables (2.1%), namely metals (6.6%), hardware (3.6%) and autos (2.3%). Stocks of nondurable goods jumped 2.6%, namely petroleum (12.1%), apparel (4.4%) and farm products (4.2%).”

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Commodities: “China Steps Up Overseas Hunt for Ore Needed to Make Aluminum” [Bloomberg]. “China’s aluminum industry, the world’s biggest, is becoming increasingly dependent on overseas supplies of the ore needed to make the metal, another sign of the nation’s chronic reliance on raw-material imports. The aluminum used in everything from aircraft to drinks cans is made from alumina, an intermediate material produced from bauxite ore. Some 49% of China’s alumina capacity will be fed by overseas bauxite next year, up from 47% in 2021 and 30% in 2015, according to state-owned researcher Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. Bauxite imports may climb to 130 million tons in 2022 from around 110 million tons this year.”

The Bezzle: “Self-Described Bitcoin Creator Must Pay $100 Million in Suit” [Bloomberg]. “The Australian computer scientist who claims he invented Bitcoin was told by a U.S. jury to pay $100 million in damages over claims that he cheated a deceased friend over intellectual property for the cryptocurrency. Jurors in Miami federal court took about a week to reach Monday’s verdict, following about three weeks of trial. The jury rejected most claims against Craig Wright and the outcome probably won’t resolve the debate over whether Wright is the mythical creator of the peer-to-peer currency, Satoshi Nakamoto. The brother of Dave Kleiman, a computer security expert who died in 2013, alleged that the late Florida man worked with Wright to create and mine Bitcoin in its early years. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed the estate was entitled to half of a cache of as many as 1.1 million Bitcoins worth some $70 billion, which are thought to be held by Satoshi. Some cryptocurrency investors see Wright as a fake, and yearslong litigation in Florida has done little to quiet the skeptics. Wright has declared many times in court that he invented Bitcoin, as he has previously in news interviews. Had the jury’s verdict gone against Wright, that would have forced to him to produce the Satoshi fortune. To some observers, that would have been the true test.” • So the Satoshi sardine tin is for trading, not for eating?

The Bezzle: “Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. ” Cryptocurrencies are a social movement based on the belief that markings in a ledger on the internet have intrinsic value. The organizers of these ledgers call these markings Bitcoin, or Dogecoin, or offer other names based on the specific ledger. That’s really all a cryptocurrency is. There’s no magic. It’s not money, though it has money-like properties. It’s not anything except a set of markings. Sure, the technology behind the ledgers and how to create more of these markings is kind of neat. But crypto is a movement based on energetic storytellers who spin fables about the utopian future to come. In a lot of ways, cryptocurrencies are like Florida land that no one ever intends to use. It has value in the moment it is traded, but only because there’s a collective belief that it has some intrinsic worth. (There is a wide variety of ‘tools’ in the crypto world, like NFTs, smart contracts, and global computing systems, but they don’t work, and none of them have any use cases except speculation and money-laundering, and even in their idealized form they have no use cases aside from doing stuff you can already do far more easily through existing technology, with a different permissioning model.) That said, the crypto narrative is one that anti-monopolists in general find deeply compelling, since both the anti-monopoly movement and the cryptocurrency movement emerged out of the financial crisis.” • Well worth reading. Twice.

Tech: “Dead Roombas, stranded packages and delayed exams: How the AWS outage wreaked havoc across the U.S.” [CNBC]. “Amazon Web Services, the leading provider of cloud infrastructure technology for businesses large and small, was hit with a historic, hourslong outage on Tuesday. Popular websites and heavily used services were knocked offline, angering users and underscoring the severity of problems that can arise from having so much economic activity reliant on technology from just a few vendors. AWS controlled 33% of the global cloud infrastructure market in the second quarter, according to Synergy Research Group, followed by Microsoft at 20% and Google at 10%. Revenue at AWS jumped 39% in the third quarter from a year earlier to $16.1 billion, outpacing growth of 15% across all of Amazon. Tuesday’s outage began around 11 a.m. ET and was mostly resolved by Tuesday night. Amazon confirmed that service issues with AWS’ main US-East-1 region, located in Northern Virginia, were causing problems for its warehouse and delivery network. The company hasn’t said what caused the outage.” • Commentary:

Tech: “Explainer: What caused Amazon’s outage? Will there be more?” [Associated Press]. “Some cybersecurity experts have warned for years about the potentially ugly consequences of allowing a handful of big tech companies to dominate key internet operations. ‘The latest AWS outage is a prime example of the danger of centralized network infrastructure,’ said Sean O’Brien, a visiting lecturer in cybersecurity at Yale Law School. ‘Though most people browsing the internet or using an app don’t know it, Amazon is baked into most of the apps and websites they use each day.’ O’Brien said it’s important to build a new network model that resembles the peer-to-peer roots of the early internet.” • Commentary:

Tech: “AWS Is the Internet’s Biggest Single Point of Failure” [Vice]. “AWS is a single point of failure, but the fact that it doesn’t fail too often has lulled many into a sense of security where they should prepare better.” • Commentary:

Tech: “AWS Resolved Its Outage. What Happens Now?” [Bloomberg]. “It could still be a few days before Amazon discovers and reveals precisely what went wrong. But by Tuesday night, the company said it had resolved a network device issue that led to the outage. More information should follow, since most of the industry discloses the causes of big failures to help avoid repeats. For example, in 2017 a major AWS outage was attributed days later to an employee who goofed while trying to fix a bug in a billing system.”• Oh.

Tech: “America’s most secretive utility is Amazon Web Services” [Newsday]. “Given that governments and corporations have outsourced so much of their network management, and given how the internet has become as essential as other necessities such as water and electricity, it would be useful to think of cloud services as a public utility of sorts — with all of the requisite disclosure and supervision that comes with that.”

“Talking Tech: Internet outages are the worst, but we’ve got to get used to them” [USA Today]. “Multiple sites including Roku, Venmo, Doordash, Spotify, Instacart and Disney+ were down. Not great. The good news is those sites are back up as normal. The bad news is these outages are going to be a normal part of digital life and we have to get used to them.” • Translation: “Live with it.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:01pm.

Health Care

“Omicron has been found in wastewater in California and Texas” [NPR]. “Dr. Sara Cody, the chief health officer in Santa Clara County, says the beauty of wastewater surveillance is that everyone in a given area gets tested because, as the children’s book says, everyone poops – even people who are infected but don’t have symptoms and don’t seek out a lab test, even people taking at-home rapid tests.” • I don’t have data to back this up, I’ve noticed the word “poop” coming up on the charts for a couple of years, I would say. Some weird premonitory twitch of the zeitgeist, perhaps….

“For Nursing Homes, Complacency Could Be a Killer” [Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times]. “[T]he older you are, the more dangerous Covid can be: Someone who is 75 to 84 years old has about six times the chance of being killed by the virus as those between 50 and 65, for example, while the risk goes to about 15 times as high for those above 85. All this means we have to act immediately to ramp up protections for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and retirement communities.” Tufecki recommends boosters, then: “[M]itigations need to target the means of transmission correctly. The coronavirus is airborne, so stopping its spread requires more focus on ventilation, air filtering and better masks, like N95s or KN94s, or surgical masks, preferably with braces that make them fit better. (Those more protective masks should be mandated for staff members and distributed for free to them.) Air can be filtered with HEPA filters, and opening windows can help when the weather allows. (Plexiglass barriers, however, are not only a waste of money, they can create dead spots with less ventilation, increasing risks.)” • I don’t know how to apply the precautionary principle to boosters for an population of elders. Perhaps just ask them?

“Healthy buildings can help stop Covid-19 spread and boost worker productivity” [CNBC]. “[Joseph G. Allen, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health] said the increased interest in the air quality inside buildings stems from a better understanding of how Covid-19 spreads. Cleaning surfaces and obeying the six-foot distancing rule made sense when the belief was that the virus spread through droplets emitted when we coughed or sneezed and these droplets couldn’t travel further than six feet. The reality is that Covid-19 is spread through respiratory aerosols that travel well beyond six feet, Allen said. ‘When we’re talking, coughing, sneezing, or just breathing, we’re constantly emitting respiratory aerosols of different sizes,’ he added. ‘If we’re infected, those particles carry the virus and can travel across any room and stay aloft for hours. .’” • This is CNBC. It’s like everybody knows “droplet dogma is over” but the molasses-brained Biden administration.

“The Coronavirus Attacks Fat Tissue, Scientists Find” [New York Times]. “Now researchers have found that the coronavirus infects both fat cells and certain immune cells within body fat, prompting a damaging defensive response in the body…. The study’s senior authors, Dr. Tracey McLaughlin and Dr. Catherine Blish of the Stanford University School of Medicine, suggested the evidence could point to new Covid treatments that target body fat…. “Maybe that’s the Achilles’ heel that the virus utilizes to evade our protective immune responses — by hiding in this place,” Dr. Vishwa Deep Dixit, a professor of comparative medicine and immunology at Yale School of Medicine, said. The finding is particularly relevant to the United States, which has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. Most American adults are overweight, and 42 percent have obesity.” • Hmm.

“Changing the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is more than just semantics, experts argue” [STAT]. “[Keri Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] said the term ‘up-to-date’ could replace ‘fully vaccinated,’ particularly as more research comes out about long-term protection from the Covid vaccines.” • I can see the subscription model coming…

Zeitgeist Watch

“Pantone’s 2022 color of the year symbolizes how COVID-19 has transformed the world” [USA Today]. “2021 has been a transformative year: Coming out of COVID-19 quarantine, much of the world has reexamined daily life practices and invented new ways to interact, conduct business and live their lives. What color could symbolize all that? Very Peri, according to the Pantone Color Institute. For the first time, the color authority’s color of the year is a brand new color of their creation: The ‘dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone’ blends the ‘faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red,’ which together creates an ’empowering mix of newness,’ the company announced Wednesday.” • “Empowering mix of newness. I’ll write that in my diary tonight. Here it is:

Kill it with fire:

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“Key accuser of Ghislaine Maxwell not expected to testify in her trial” [Miami Herald]. “The prosecution in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking case is about to rest — weeks ahead of schedule — with one of Maxwell’s most prominent accusers conspicuously absent from the witness list. Virginia Roberts Giuffre — who has previously cast Maxwell as a central player in Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation — apparently isn’t going to testify, even though she has been mentioned by witnesses and prosecutors almost daily during the trial: as a minor who visited Epstein’s homes multiple times; as a girl who had sex with Epstein; as a victim who was allegedly recruited by Maxwell; and as a teenager who flew on Epstein’s private plane, often with Maxwell — 32 times. Her absence in the room is striking, considering that there is physical evidence that appears to support her story of sexual abuse: photographs of her with Maxwell and Prince Andrew and of her at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, pictures of her with Epstein and Maxwell at a birthday party aboard a yacht where she looks barely out of childhood. “It’s hard to know why prosecutors have narrowly constructed the case around these particular victims. It’s a deliberate effort to frame the case in a specific way that really only prosecutors understand,” said Jill Steinberg, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted child exploitation and human trafficking cases. Omitting people who are mentioned during the trial as being integral to the crimes leaves a gaping hole that jurors may find unsettling, she said.”

“Ghislaine Maxwell Sex-Trafficking Trial Delayed After Lawyer Becomes Ill” [New York Times]. “The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial was sent home on Thursday morning, and the trial put on temporary hold, after a federal judge told the court that a lawyer in the case was sick and needed medical attention.” • Drank the glass of water meant for Maxwell? Kidding!

“Ghislaine Maxwell trial: third accuser’s ex-boyfriend corroborates her account” [Guardian]. “The former boyfriend of the third accuser to testify in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in New York corroborated details of her account during his testimony Wednesday.”

“Epstein and Maxwell pictured at Queen’s residence at Balmoral” [BBC]. • Surely the Windsors aren’t lizards.

Class Warfare

“What You’re Really Worried About When You’re Worried About Money” [The Atlantic]. “Money is one of the things Americans worry about most in the world. Even in 2018, when the economy was expanding, a survey by the life-insurance company Northwestern Mutual found that more than half of Americans felt anxious or insecure about money sometimes, often, or all the time. And during the pandemic, another survey found that workers were almost five times more likely to worry about money than their health.” • I would guess that, for a very large number, what you’re really worried about when you’re worried about money, is money. I mean, that’s why joining the reserve army of labor is a fearsome thing.

News of the Wired

My private cul de sac:

“How to run a small social network site for your friends” [Run Your Own Social]. “This document exists to lay out some general principles of running a small social network site that have worked for me. These principles are related to community building more than they are related to specific technologies. This is because the big problems with social network sites are not technical: the problems are social problems related to things like policy, values, and power. There are still some areas where technical progress is needed, and one section of this document discusses some of those areas. Running a social network site is community building first and a technical task second. And while community building is hard work, it’s often worth it. This is my pitch to you: using big social media sites is easy, but you pay a steep price for it. You should consider running your own site, which is harder, but can be extremely rewarding.”

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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 (AM):

AM: “11/7/21 looking across the lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI. Low key colors on the first day of ‘fall ahead’.” Somehow, I blew past fall foliage, so this is nice to have.

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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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