2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, since I have published this post — as you can see from the URL, I didn’t intend to — here is something I do when I post on Veteran’s Day:

An etching from Goya’s Los desastres de la guerra.

Modo de volar (Way to fly), 1816–1823

* * *

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 (IM):

IM: “Moodily lit plant.” I myself am at times moodily lit.

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Danny

    Nothing shows up in Firefox between
    “This entry posted”
    “Leave a reply”.

    Tomorrow’s date at top is the culprit?

      1. ambrit

        I love that film! I have been known to mention, in passing, that it is Carpenter’s best documentary. (It’s not his last film, thank the Gods.)

        1. Wukchumni

          Only watched it for the first time last month, and it really foresaw lots of current things, such as drones.

          Favorite line in the movie:

          “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t mentally track holidays except for really big ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe July 4. So I mentally sat down to compose Water Cooler at the usual time, and after a while I realized it was Veteran’s Day. I try not to post on major holidays, so I advanced the title to November 12, and thought I had advanced the pubdate as well — I’d swear I did! But I didn’t. And then I went on to the Bloomberg post, which was giving me trouble… And noticed comments appearing in the sidebar…

              1. dearieme

                The pianist on that track, Harold Mabern, died in September. The Telegraph carried a decent obituary. It’s pretty good on jazzmen (and women).

              1. ambrit

                Oh bugger! I did mention that I am a Techno Luddite, didn’t I?
                The ins and outs of computers are arcana to me.

                  1. ambrit

                    My respects.
                    To paraphrase Jefferson; “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed on occasion with the bytes of bloggers and commenters.”

            1. ambrit

              Hi back from Phyl and we might get snow here tomorrow night. Ye Gods! Is it time for another Ice Age so soon?

    1. Geo

      From about a week ago:

      The Radio Education Network of Bolivia (Erbol) leaked 16 audios involving opposition leaders who are calling for a coup d’etat against the government of President Evo Morales, a political action which would have been coordinated from the U.S. embassy in the Andean country.

      The Erbol leaked information audios also mention calls from opposition leaders to burn government party structures and to put together a general strike across the country.


      I don’t speak Spanish so can’t verify the info in the recordings but amazed that this has not gotten more attention. According to the article these recordings basically foretell exactly what happened.

      Update: Oops! Just saw this was posted here earlier in the Links. Sorry for the redundant post.

  2. Whoamolly

    Either the first quantum Water Cooler—present and not present simultaneously—or a chilling message from the future.

    1. ambrit

      A reboot of “La Jette?” Call it, oh, ‘Twelve Bloggers?’ Then there was the Neo-Agatha Christie play, “Ten Little Bloggers.” There was also a television adaptation; “Eight Bloggers Is Enough.” Of course then, ‘The X Factor’ refined it down to the “Six Blogger Challenge.” Naturally, this being an organic pun, there are the “Four Blogging Seasons.” (Why no blogger calling him or her self Vivaldi???) Rest assured that we are in good hands with Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn as they play Internet lovers in “Two For The Blog.” At last, the end looms as Sartre utters the definitive “Non!” in “Blogging and Nothingness.”
      All in all, a shady enterprise.
      I think I’ll join the rest here and “get moodily lit.” Proust!

        1. ambrit

          After references to it yesterday, I linked to a copy someone else provided here and watched it again last night. The film gets better and better. Really subversive and fun at the same time. Mr. Kynikos muses that this film meets the definition of Perfect Anti-Propaganda.
          Thanks to one and all for leading me to enjoy it yet again!

    2. richard

      On the subject of j. carpenter films
      another (underrated) carpenter movie featured a chilling message from the future
      Prince of Darkness
      a message that was sent to your brain in a dream

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          This is not a dream!

          Oi, I guess I’ve preferred to remember the buzzy version of that phrase. Oi, 1999 was twenty years ago!

          Not drawn to Horror, but back in the UHF heyday I saw an ad for it on the creature feature. They just took an even shorter cut of the dream sequence for the teaser and I put it on my schedule.

          I’d be schocked if it cost much more than a made for TV movie, but it completed the story and gave me the creeps like very few horror films I’ve tried.

          Also made me first wonder if there are any laws or norms about hypnotizing your audience.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      well it’s evil wicked mean and nasty
      don’t step on the grass, sam
      it will ruin our fair country
      don’t be such an ass, sam
      it will hook your sue and johnny
      you’re so full of bull, sam
      all will pay who disagree with me
      please give up you’ve already lost the fight

      Steppenwolf understood in 1968 what BS the drug war was
      once it’s legalized, however, the oligarchy’s lyric will change to “all will pay who dare compete with me”

    2. jrs

      Who loves Obama more contest (Buttigieg versus Castro)


      Yes Bill Clinton could certainly could be argued to be much worse than Obama, at least on domestic policy. And yes the orange man makes ANYONE AND EVERYONE look good in comparison, I’d vote for a dog, a bottle of water, a dirty toilet over the orange man frankly. And Republicans have generally been horrible with the exception of the elder Bush somewhat. But really, “old normal” without seeing Obama as part of that, which he was, not the worst part one could certainly argue, but part and parcel of it nonetheless.

    1. katiebird

      This sounds like something I am actually going to have to listen too. Thanks for sharing. (I can knit while I listen, right?)

    1. Janie

      Well, it IS Armistice Day, and he is certainly aware of the enormous losses. The movie, from a memoir, “Testament of Youth”, comes to mind. When the notices read “Veterans Day Celebration”, i reread Mark Twain’s War Prayer.

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    Bolivia = Lithium
    that it was run by a lefty who pulled people out of poverty was just insult to injury to the vampire class

    1. Darius

      This shows the absolute necessity of replacing the Venezuelan regime with murderous right wing paramilitaries, drug cartels, and the petromafia. It’s God’s will. Anything less is blasphemy.

  4. Pat

    My favorite unofficial endorsement for Bloomberg so far – Judge Judy.

    Another authoritarian who browbeats people and twists the law in her faux legal show. The few times I have watched I bemoaned her popularity while being thankful she was no longer in the bench for real.

    (I’ve always thought there was a story waiting to be told there. Not just about her, but about the recruitment of plaintiffs and defendants and the aftermath.)

    1. Alex morfesis

      Ah…grasshopper…. You have strong das 4sss in you….but the story might be one might recall her family law daze prior to becoming the most overpaid person with no real Nielsens in das voild ….

      help a billionaire here and there with a divorce ruling in NYC….one might find some nourishment after the dust has long settled….

  5. richard

    Well, even if it’s not Open Comments, i think everybody should watch Big Deal on Madonna Street. It’s perfect if you’re feeling a little blue. Directed by Mario Monicelli in 1958.
    I knew Italian movies used a lot of dubbing, but I always assumed it had to do with exporting films. But no, according to wikipedia (:() post-dubbing was customary for all dialogue in Italian movies of the period, as actors were often “taken right from the street”, untrained as it were.
    I mention all this, because either the actress Rosanna Rory, or whoever dubbed her dialogue in the movie, has the most appealing low voice you can imagine. Wiser than you, warier than you, older than you and sexier than you is how it modulates.
    Not exactly a hidden gem I know, but hey, you may have forgotten about it! Anyway, it was hidden to me. Caper movies are the best, aren’t they?

    1. Carolinian

      Shooting without sound also allowed a more free wheeling style as sound cameras are heavy and bulky.

      1. richard

        thanks for the pro tip, Carolinian
        perhaps cheaper too? lower cost of entry?
        although any savings might be lost with the cost of dubbing, idk
        it appears more care was given to dubbing (the sharp comedic timing of the dialogue in Big Deal is one example) than I had previously thought in my dumb ‘merican arrogance, that dubbing is a sign of poorer quality. Could not have been more wrong.

  6. Elim Garak

    Since it seems like today is open commentary for the water cooler, I’d like to take this chance to make a movie recommendation for the nakedcap commentariat:

    Last week I was in Chicago and was able to catch a showing of The Lighthouse at the lovely Music Box theater, and I have not been so engrossed by a film in as long as I can remember! I don’t want to give anything away because to me going in cold to a movie is the best way to do it, so I’ll just say that they don’t make films like this very often anymore. It really absorbs you into story and the characters so fully, and it is also a technically brilliant film. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are two fantastic actors and they absolutely knock this one out of the park.

    If anyone else has had the pleasure of seeing it, I’d love to hear your take!

    1. meeps

      I don’t have a take yet; wanted to see it over the weekend but an acquaintance was singing in the Barber of Seville, so I went to the opera instead. The Lighthouse is showing only in select theaters here, so I hope I can still catch it next weekend. Thanks for leaving the spoilers out of your encouraging review.

  7. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    LSU finally took down Alabama this weekend. The first time in 8 years. The last time this happened I was in AIT at Fort Gordon. Very exciting time for me until LSU lost the BCS National Championship a couple months later. To Alabama!!!

    I gotta lotta hate for Alabama and this weekend I got my revenge.


    Happy Veterans Day

    1. Janie

      It was considered a good outcome at our house, too. Bama is not popular here. As an aside, read The War Prayer by Mark Twain as a Veterans Day commemoration.

    2. richard

      Good for the tigers. I’ll take me some huey long over bar bryant any day.
      To the extent that I remain a seahawks fan, that is how i feel about the patriots. I would like some very cold, been-sitting-on-the-counter-all-weekend revenge.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Speaking of Michigan, I don’t begrudge the Wolverines a bye weekend, but I missed them on Saturday.

  8. smoker

    Google is working on a top secret project to gathers millions of Americans’ health data across 21 states including lab tests and diagnoses – but patients and doctors have not been told about it

    •Google has teamed up with Ascension, a leading healthcare services company, for Project Nightingale
    •Already, around 150 Google employees have accessed people’s health data
    •They are able to see diagnoses, test results and hospitalization records
    •They are striving to use the data to inform design on a new, AI-led product
    •It will ‘zero in’ on patients to allow them to make easy changes to their care
    •Google said the project is totally compliant with laws, which allow for people’s medical data to be shared without them knowing

    True that HIPAA works more against than for a patient’s rights, particularly when a patient’s loved one unexpectedly ends up being a guardian of sorts. The venal thing is that most don’t discover this horrid reality until they are sick (then bankrupted also, with no money for an attorney), or overwhelmed with caring for a sick loved one:

    The practice is legal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 which allows hospitals to share patients’ medical data with business partners on the condition that it is used to ‘help the entity carry out its healthcare functions‘ [predatory actions – smoker]

    Of course it’s Legal™. Thanks once again for the 1996 (there was also the ghastly Telecommunications Act – a busy year for the Technocracy!) delayed PTSD Bill Clinton and Al -still a Senior Google Advisor – Gore , and here I thought it was Shrub’s sole plan for the Capitalist, surveilling, monetizing, and actually worsening (via lethally erroneous AI health data™) illness disaster that IT Medical Records™ truly is, I really should have known better, DARPA Albert:

    HIPAA is aligned with Osbourne and Gaebler’s (1992) ideas for reshaping government into a leaner and meaner institution; and Al Gore’s (1994, 1995a, 1995b) ideas on improving customer service by bringing health care online, and making government work better and cost less.

    1. bob

      All HIPPA does is to protect heath insurance companies from being sued for giving away health data.

      “whocouldknowd? We were protecting out data and the hackerz got it!”

      But you sold it to them…

      “Ah yes. They just have to pay for it. They didn’t pay.”

      1. smoker

        Indeed, the Too Large To Be Held Accountable Healthcare ‘System’ where I’m an out-patient has outsourced its Medical Records Administration for years. The current entity (unless it’s changed yet again) notes Insurance Companies as clients, right along with Medical Institutions. Given that it’s in the California Bay Area, I’ve already presumed that its Meritocratic™ VIP Management – and even many of its MBA Doctors™ – have been sharing info with Google, and lord knows who, for quite some time. It makes me feel viciously violated, literally nauseous, and utterly powerless, like so much else in this increasingly ghastly ‘Valley,’ State and Country.

    2. T. Ward

      My son was in an auto accident in northern Wisconsin in May and was taken to an Ascension hospital and was quickly transferred to another trauma facility. (A scare, but he’s doing fine). We got an ER bill and I filled in the auto and health insurance policies and returned the form. We kept getting bills. I called their billing “department” and spoke with an obviously undertrained person. She said they hadn’t received any insurance information from me. She then wanted the birthdate of the health insurance policy holder (my wife), which I refused to provide because it’s not on the health card nor necessary for processing the claim. She refused to go further. It’s obvious now that Ascension has prioritized data collection.

      The biller wasn’t even located in Wisconsin so I called the hospital and asked if anyone there who could help me. No. (She sounded like she receives this call a lot). Only the 800 number. What crapification.

      We finally got notice from the auto insurer that the claim had been paid. And we’re still getting bills.

      1. smoker

        So glad your son’s okay, but yeah uggh as to those Health Industry Predators.

        I hate to add even more burden to your undeserved billing nightmare, but if you haven’t already, I would suggest getting the medical records pertaining to your son (make sure to request ‘all records,’ in my case the institution withheld phone conversation data, etc., unless a person knew to request it), which will follow him in the future, and ask for duplicate copies, if affordable. When I first requested mine, i was outraged. Just for one nightmare, a medication I listed an allergic reaction to, was listed as one which I previously took with no bad reaction.

      2. ambrit

        Hereabouts, a lot of healthcare associated enterprises are using the date of birth of the patient as the primary identifier. I run into this at the pharmacy, the clinic, and the ER. Then they ask you for name, etc., often with the last four numbers of the appropriate Social Security number.
        I’m running into something similar with the ambulance bill related to my bus accident; I was a passenger. The claims adjuster says the insurance company sent the ambulance company a cheque. They deny having it yet. Luckily for me, the claims adjuster is an older person who has seen all these crooked tricks before. The adjuster is sending me copies of the payout cheques. This is a problem with the ambulance company because they sent my bill to a collection agency after a set time, irrespective of the status of the negotiation going on between the ambulance company and the insurance company.
        I raised the issue of balance billing with the ambulance company’s business office. The insurance company had beat the original bill down somewhat. The reply to my query was that the business office cannot tell me that until they have seen how the payment is defined. So, the woman said, yes, you could be balance billed. Related to that is that the collection agency would only agree to put my bill in abeyance for thirty days since they had no guidance to the contrary from the ambulance company.
        The phenomenon of billing offices being in different places seems to be common as well. In the case of the ER physicians, the doctors work in a facility in Hattiesburg and are managed out of an office in Ridgeland Mississippi. The billing office is in Tupelo Mississippi. Try tracing a packet of information through that maze. The ambulance company is located in Hattiesburg Mississippi. The collection agency the ambulance company outsourced the bill to is in Colorado.
        Ask the auto insurance company to send you copies of the payout cheques. Then you will have some ammo for future skirmishes with those pesky bill collectors.
        Good luck with it and never give up.

    3. Danny

      “search engine bots that Google programmed to continuously scour the web for new online content are probably also the retooled spider data miners crawling the content of Gmail accounts. Using any free web service or mobile app made by Google comes with the caveat that you are surrendering a part (or should I say total?) of your personal privacy.”

      “One example of this rewarding scanning activity is that Google probably was able to learn of your personal credit card numbers through the monthly credit card electronic billing statements you get through Gmail, or through Google Wallet, and Google Play Store enrollment. Google’s offer to advertisers to track/share offline spending of credit card holders who watched their online ads is just one example of how deeply knowledgeable Google is about people habits and activities.”


    1. Carolinian

      The first one got a rather testy discussion yesterday in links. IMO only the N-word is the N-word. And Boomers–if there is such a thing–are old enough to have thick skins.

      1. inode_buddha

        Amazing. I thought it was pretty normal yesterday. However, as with all grains of salt: I’ll never have any illusions about the site or the commentariat being totally objective.

        1. Carolinian

          That sounds a little testy too. I think we are all just here rowing our oar. Kudos to those who provide the opportunity.

      1. hunkerdown

        I detect synecdoche. “Boomer” in practice might be shifting away from the generational frame and toward a frame based in part on class and on the stridence of one’s belief that conspiracy between private parties against the public interest is “earning”, rather than parasitism.

        And far too many of the local petty millionaire lords aren’t that much better, when it comes down to it. They’re perfectly happy with industrial feudalism as a system and perfectly happy to throw their weight around and make gratuitous, frivolous demands on the help, while failing to give them their full due. “OK bourgie” would be most accurate, but that’s not considered polite under high society’s standards.

        Eagerly seeking a term to socially bless those of that cohort who aren’t so full of themselves.

        1. ambrit

          Could there be also a connection to the Navy slang term “boomer” as it refers to atomic missile submarines? Hidden, stealthy, and full of potential destruction.
          I’m curious as to whether this construction is ‘organic’ or is manufactured in a conscious attempt to propagate a meme for social warfare purposes.

  9. Geo

    Funny chain of events:

    • Warren endorsed Clinton who chose Tim Kaine instead of her for VP.

    • Warren was asked to name three black people she’d like to have in her cabinet. she didn’t mention Ayanna Presley (who endorsed her literally the day before) but did mention Deval Patrick.

    • Today Deval Patrick announced he’s considering running against Warren for the presidency.

    Gotta love Democrat Unity.

  10. Wukchumni

    Picasso’s Guernica really had an effect on me when I saw it in person, as you’re not ready for how large it is with layer upon layer of eye candy, laid open for interpretation, in a way similar to not being prepared to glimpse the diminutive Mona Lisa, which in your mind, you want it to be larger.

    1. Carolinian

      Glimpse is the right word–lots of crowds, bulletproof glass.

      You probably know that it was once stolen and gone for years. Inside job.

    2. ambrit

      I was once really surprised at how small the Cezanne self portrait is. I saw it in a travelling show at the Birminghan Museum of Art. Lucky you. There really is no comparison between a reproduction in a book and the original.

  11. Mike

    Anyone reading “The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk During the World War”? I would think it appropriate.

      1. Mike

        “It will be something truly exquisite when we both fall together for the Lord Emperor, and his family…”

        Švejk to Lt. Lukacs upon receiving the delightful news of their battalion being sent to the front.

    1. ambrit

      I reread “Goodbye To All That” by Robert Graves, of ‘I Claudius’ fame, last month. A memoir of his time as a Captain in the trenches of the Western Front in WW-1.
      So much good poetry came out of both sides in WW-1.
      If I can find my copy, I’ll re-watch “Paths of Glory” tomorrow.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You might want to try the classic “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, a guy who fought on the other side.

  12. richard

    Hey, just watching rep. gabbard interviewed by j. dore. She pledged a russia/china/us summit within the first 1-2 months of a gabbard administration, to begin deescalation of nuclear weapons, and to have talks on wide ranging issues, was the implication. On m4all she gave a wordy answer, comparing the “choice” system she is supporting to the Australian system. Dore soft-pedaled this (“it sounds better than what we have now!”) which irritates but o well.
    tulsi must have done some calculus where this waffle nets her votes
    but m4a is why i support sanders so maybe her math is off

    1. jrs

      He likes right wing strong men and I have a fear we’re going to get one there, heaven help us. But yea the Trump administration has outed itself as as willing to overthrow governments in coups as any other administration.

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