By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:
I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. Florida blows past New York. Interestingly, California and Texas diverge. We’ll see if that’s an artifact. (There are no notes either on this site, 91-DIVOC, or on the Johns Hopkins site, indicating that there has been any interruption of data. We’ll see on Monday.)
“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
The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270.
Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com
So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!
Patient readers who were also Sanders canvassers, thank you for your responses. I am mulling them. I may end up doing a survey, hopefully not too onerous. –lambert
Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s joint committees raise nearly $100 million in second quarter as big-money donors get off the sidelines” [CNBC]. “‘The big-money donors are capitalists. For a minute Bernie was close to locking it up, but then came South Carolina. They were petrified of Trump and horrified by Bernie. Now they actually have a choice, before they didn’t,’ Florida businessman and Biden bundler John Morgan told CNBC.” • The article has quite a list of Biden donors.
Biden (D)(2): “Joe Biden’s Shockingly Adequate Campaign” [Rich Lowry, National Review]. “The Biden campaign has been lucky most of all, but it’s also been smart, at least smart enough. To go, as Joe Biden did, from left for dead to sweeping to the nomination and quickly thereafter emerging as the favorite in November is a run of success that would be the envy of any national politician. It’s easy to consider this a mere accident given the weakness of Biden’s opponents, first a socialist in the Democratic primaries who had a ceiling on his support and now an incumbent president whose ratings have sagged. The Biden team certainly isn’t going to rewrite any campaign playbooks or dazzle anyone with its brilliance, but it has avoided serious mistakes and demonstrated an understanding of the basic political terrain and its candidate’s strengths. It hasn’t asked Biden to do anything out of his comfort zone or beyond his capabilities and has been content for President Donald Trump to dominate all the attention, so long as Trump is not advancing his cause, and often setting it back, with all the airtime and headlines.” • Yep.
— Marie Fonseca 🔥🅰️🌹 (@TheMarieFonseca) July 16, 2020
“Working to unseat” is a little harsh. But you can imagine the reaction if a Sanders staffer had, say, donated to Shahid Buttar instead of Nancy Pelosi.
Harris (D)(1): “KHive is trying to ruin my life, does Kamala Harris even care?” [Medium]. • Ugly and unsurprising details; the ringleader seems to have been banned by Twitter, and not for the first time.
Sanders (D)(1): “America’s cost effective Covid-19 solution? Masks for All” [Bernie Sanders and Andy Slavitt, CNN]. “[W]e are urgently calling for a simple, common-sense, practical and inexpensive way to protect Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: Masks for All. Our goal must be to make high-quality masks available on an equitable basis to every single person in this country at no cost. Next week, one of us will introduce legislation to do just that. The science is clear: Wearing a mask not only saves lives, but the widespread use of masks will get Americans back to work sooner and reunite families who have stayed apart. Hopefully, this legislation will even help counter some of the confusion and misinformation over mask-wearing.” •
Trump (R)(1): “Trump shakes up campaign leadership as he struggles in latest polls” [CNN]. “President Donald Trump shook up his campaign leadership on Wednesday, announcing he was promoting Bill Stepien to be his campaign manager and demoting Brad Parscale, who had been serving in that role… The future of Parscale, who had been lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump’s first election effort and became his reelection campaign manager in early 2018, had been in serious doubt for weeks. In addition to the President’s lagging poll numbers, Trump was furious after a much-hyped return to the campaign trail fell flat at the end of June. A planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fell well short of expectations after Parscale predicted massive crowds, not only inside the 19,000-seat arena but outside as well…. ‘It was only a matter of time’ before Parscale was moved out of his role as campaign manager, said a senior adviser to the campaign. ‘His inexperience hindered the campaign.'”
UPDATE Trump (R)(1): “Trump Campaign Shuffle Shows the Pressure’s on” [Bloomberg]. “Switching managers is a Trump trademark. Aside from his almost-constant shuffling of his Cabinet, he also shook up his campaign leadership multiple times in his first run for the White House. Citing ‘really good poll numbers,’ Trump is showing no outward signs of worry ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. But the pressure is building. Several polls yesterday showed Trump lagging behind Democratic rival Joe Biden by double digits, with one indicating that in stewardship of the economy — the one area where he had previously led his opponent — the president was now trailing as well.”
Independent presidential candidate Kanye West has qualified for the General Election ballot in Oklahoma. (Today is Oklahoma's deadline for Independent & Unrecognized Party presidential candidates to file statements of candidacy with their petitions or filing fee.)
— Oklahoma State Election Board (@OKelections) July 15, 2020
So, I’m picturing Kanye somehow getting one or two electoral votes, and then…
* * *
UPDATE “Elissa Slotkin Is Sounding the Alarm. Will Democrats Listen?” [Politico]. Note well that Slotkin is a CIA Democrat. On BountyGate: “The congresswoman inhaled every bit of news coverage, watching carefully for conflicting details or any confirmation of the original Times story. She called former colleagues in the intel community in search of explanations. Finally, she took to social media, writing a series of uncharacteristically pointed tweets about Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. ‘Something has been off about that relationship since the beginning,’ she wrote, ‘and Americans are quite literally paying in blood for his pandering to Putin.'” • A cynic would give consideration to the idea that Slotkin was in on it from the beginning. More: “Few members of Congress arrived in Washington with more nonpartisan street cred than the 42-year-old former intelligence analyst who served three tours in Iraq, who married a respected Army officer turned Pentagon adviser and who never gave any whiff of political leanings until posting the news of her run for Congress in the summer of 2017.” • Holy Lord. I hope Slotkin isn’t diabetic. More: “This is the first installment of a POLITICO series that will examine the 2020 election through the eyes of Slotkin, an and uniquely vulnerable congresswoman, as well as through the eyes of voters in Michigan’s 8th District, a strategically vital location for both parties in their quest for control of Washington next year and beyond.” • I don’t think I’ve seen Politico service a candidate like this in quite some time.
2016 Post Mortem
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Get Ready for the 2020 Election Recount” [The Bulwark]. “One of the more memorable aspects of the 2000 recount was the “Brooks Brothers riot” where the Bush campaign flew GOP staffers to protest the recount proceedings in Miami-Dade County, Florida. At issue was whether there would be a new standard for counting “undervotes,” and local officials sought to take discussions to an upper floor of the building, where the protesters would not be able to observe. At that point, the Republicans erupted and followed them up. Crammed into the smaller space, unable to see what was happening, they got angry. They yelled that Democrats were stealing the election. They banged doors. They roughed up a Democratic staffer in possession of a sample ballot. And it worked. Hours later, the officials surrendered.” • This omits a key factor: The press didn’t identify the “rioters” as Republican staffers at the time — even though they had to know who they were.
“Maine to use ranked-choice voting in presidential election after GOP veto effort fails” [Bangor Daily News]. “Maine will be the first state to ever use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election in November after Secretary of State Matt Dunlap ruled Wednesday that a Republican-led people’s veto effort did not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot….”
At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.
Leading Indicators: “10 July 2020 ECRI’s WLI Improvement Continues But Remains In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward improved but remains in contraction.”
Consumer Sentiment: “Preliminary July 2020 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Declines” [Econintersect]. “Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin, makes the following comments: ‘Consumer sentiment retreated in the first half of July due to the widespread resurgence of the coronavirus. The promising gain recorded in June was reversed, leaving the Sentiment Index in early July insignificantly above the April low (+1.4 points). Following the steepest two-month decline on record, it is not surprising that consumers need some time to reassess the likely economic impact from the coronavirus on their personal finances and on the overall economy. Unfortunately, declines are more likely in the months ahead as the coronavirus spreads and causes continued economic harm, social disruptions, and permanent scarring.'”
Consumer Sentiment: “Analysis: Contraction in Consumer Sentiment in July Signals a Rough Month for Businesses” [Morning Consult]. This chart:
So much for a v-shaped recovery. #recession
— John Leer (@JohnCLeer) July 15, 2020
Rail: “Rail Week Ending 11 June 2020 – Gradual Improvement But Still Deep In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now is recovering from a coronavirus pandemic…. Intermodal and carloads are under Great Recession values. Container exports from China are now recovering, container exports from the U.S. declined, and remains deep in contraction.”
Construction: “June 2020 Residential Building Growth Continues To Improve” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits and construction completions improved – and the rolling averages showed a similar result…. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic is waning in the data…. [T]he rolling averages say this sector is slowing with construction completions are improving but are in contraction. We consider this report better than last month.”
Employment SItuation: “Troubling streak for the labor market” [Politico]. “Jobless claims have come in higher than a million — and more than double the worst week of the Great Recession — for 17 straight weeks. Last week, initial claims totaled 2.4 million, including the self-employed and gig workers, just a couple of weeks away from the expiration of federal unemployment insurance that adds $600 a week on top of state benefits. Evercore ISI dug into the data and found that allowing the expiration to happen would lead to a 2 percent smaller GDP by the end of the year than if the benefit were fully extended.” In addition: “‘Workers receiving unemployment insurance have a large increase in consumption due to UI, spending almost 73 cents of every $1 received, showing that the federal benefit supplement is well-targeted,’ the [JPMorgan Chase Institute] said.”
Shipping: “North American freight business is coming back but distribution channels look very different than they did before the pandemic. A shakeout is resetting the direction of the U.S. trucking market, says C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. Chief Executive Bob Biesterfeld, and that is pushing some carriers out of businesses while driving others to adapt to upheaval in domestic supply chains. The head of North America’s largest freight brokerage [says] that the sudden changes as the pandemic hit triggered “huge supply chain dislocation from a trucking perspective” [Wall Street Journal].” With demand firmer now, spot-market pricing is rising and contract carriers are even turning down more freight than they were before the pandemic in search of stronger revenues.”
Shipping: “Pandemic-hit Arizona, Texas counties order coolers, refrigerated trucks for bodies” [Reuters]. “Arizona and Texas counties hit hard by COVID-19 are ordering coolers and refrigerated trailers to store bodies as their morgues fill up, authorities said on Thursday…. New York used dozens of refrigerated trailers in April as its daily COVID-19 deaths exceeded 700. The appearance of mobile morgues in Arizona and Texas reflects that the pandemic appears to now be spinning out of control in southern U.S. states.”
Apparel: “A cash squeeze is forming in apparel supply chains. Makers of clothing and accessories are getting pinched as the retailers they supply struggle to pay for goods…. Several companies including Nike Inc. and Columbia Sportswear Co. in recent weeks have disclosed millions of dollars in bad-debt charges in quarterly results” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some retailers have gotten extended payment terms to conserve cash, but the lineup of merchants filing for bankruptcy protection is growing. That has suppliers making tough judgment calls over which retailers may be facing only temporary hardships and which bills they may have to write off as lost causes.”
The Bezzle: “Germany’s long, lonely campaign: Battling Wirecard’s short sellers” [Reuters]. “German authorities pressed on for four years investigating investors who bet against Wirecard AG’s shares, even after a UK regulator concluded that their evidence against the short sellers was ‘not sufficient,’ according to documents and people familiar with the matter…. While it is known that German authorities investigated skeptical investors who raised questions about the company behind one of the biggest corporate frauds in German history, the documents provide new details about the speed and tenacity with which they pursued detractors and the extent of their faith in management.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 17 at 12:14pm.
“Pa. poised to provide potentially $670 million in tax breaks to natural-gas manufacturers” [Pittsburgh City Paper]. “Yesterday, the Pennsylvania state Senate passed a bill that would potentially provide hundreds of millions in tax credits to petrochemical facilities and others that refine natural gas into products like plastic pellets or fertilizer. The bill, HB 732, passed the state Senate by a 40-9 vote. All Republicans supported the bill and even the majority of Senate Democrats backed the measure. The bill is likely a do-over of an earlier bill, HB 1100, which also was written to offer tax credits to petrochemical companies. HB 1100 passed through the legislature, but Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) vetoed that bill. However, Wolf is poised to sign HB 732.” It gets worse: “[T]he bill is a major victory for state Sen. John Yudichak (I-Luzerne), who wrote the bill…. More perplexing in all of this is that even though the majority of Senate Democrats backed the bill and Gov. Wolf still has veto power, the winners of this bill are the Republicans, especially Yudichak, and Democrats received little in return…. Furthermore, last year, Yudichak left the Democratic Party to become an independent who caucuses with Republicans. His departure from the Democratic caucus makes the Democrats’ chances of flipping the state Senate almost impossible.” • Has Tom Wolf taken a page from Cuomo’s playbook? Pennsylvanians please comment.
“New Data Shows an ‘Extraordinary’ Rise in U.S. Coastal Flooding” [New York Times]. “The increase in high-tide flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts since 2000 has been ‘extraordinary,’ the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported, with the frequency of flooding in some cities growing fivefold during that time. That shift is damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads and otherwise hurting coastal communities, the agency said.”
“The U.S. is coping with new medical shortages at a critical time. Several states are reporting shortages in coronavirus testing supplies and delays in processing results… just as a rash of outbreaks is hitting Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Texas and other states” [Wall Street Journal]. “The disconnect has resurrected one of the early problems that bogged down the country’s initial response to the pandemic in the spring: Many people in coronavirus hot spots are now waiting more than a week, and in some cases several weeks, for test results. The latest problems suggest that while early supply shortages were largely solved, deeper problems with manufacturing and distribution of critical equipment are lingering and could grow if the virus continues to spread. The new test shortages are prompting some officials to change how they prioritize now-scarce resources, which could impede virus mitigation efforts.”
“Data secrecy is crippling attempts to slow COVID-19’s spread in U.S., epidemiologists warn” [Science]. Interesting follow-up to this post yesterday. “Since April, epidemiologists from Stanford University and several University of California campuses have sought detailed COVID-19 case and contact-tracing data from state and county health authorities for research they hope will point to more effective approaches to slowing the pandemic. “It’s a basic mantra of epidemiology and public health: Follow the data” to learn where and how the disease spreads, says Rajiv Bhatia, a physician and epidemiologist who teaches at Stanford and is among those seeking the California data…. But the agencies have refused requests filed from April through late June, Science has learned. They cited multiple reasons including workload constraints and privacy concerns—even though records can be deidentified, and federal health privacy rules have been relaxed for research during the pandemic. As a result, Bhatia says, “In 4 months of the epidemic, collecting millions of records, no one in California or at the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has done the basic epidemiology.” Other states also fail to share highly specific information for their COVID-19 cases… Aggregated COVID-19 case and death data by county, and often by age and race, is publicly available in much of the country. But few locales link those cases and deaths to other information typically collected on the individuals, such as their ZIP codes, occupations, living conditions, and known contacts with others ill with COVID-19. And according to the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched by The Atlantic, no U.S. state or territory publicly provides a complete set of even such basic COVID-19 measures as total and pending tests; deaths and recovered patients; and current and cumulative hospitalizations, patients in intensive care units, and those using ventilators.” • Sigh. So all our data is at best patchy…
Police State Watch
UPDATE An extremely ugly story from Portland, OR that began (at least for me) with this tweet:
Militarized Federal Agents from a patchwork of outside agencies have begun policing Portland (in rented minivans vans) without the explicit approval of the mayor, the state, or local municipalities. This is what that looks like in practice: pic.twitter.com/losap4SsgI
— The Sparrow Project (@sparrowmedia) July 15, 2020
Then the video went viral–
UPDATE “Portland Federal Agents Bundle Protester Into Van in Viral Video” [Newsweek]. “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said the does not ‘need or want’ the help of federal forces. ‘Today the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security asked to speak with me about demonstration activity in Portland. He expressed his concern about ongoing violence and asked how his agency can help,’ Wheeler tweeted on Wednesday. ‘I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.’ Wheeler added: ‘The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.'” • Then local media interviewed protesters–
UPDATE “Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. “Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off. The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks. Federal Officers Shoot Portland Protester In Head With ‘Less Lethal’ Munitions Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, while others have been arrested and released, including Pettibone. They also left one demonstrator hospitalized with skull fractures after shooting him in the face with so-called “less lethal” munitions July 11. Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC, have been sent to Portland to protect federal property during the recent protests against racism and police brutality. But interviews conducted by OPB show officers are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity. Demonstrators like O’Shea and Pettibone said they think they were targeted by federal officers for simply wearing black clothing in the area of the demonstration.” • Sounds like Hong Kong.
UPDATE Acting HHS Secretary “Chad Wolf” — no, this is not a parody account — is on the scene in Portland:
Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch. pic.twitter.com/kG8w8kyw9E
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 17, 2020
The story is now firmly in the mainstream–
“‘Chilling’: Federal officers are pulling Portland protesters into unmarked vehicles, reports say” [USA Today]. “The Trump administration has sent federal officers to Portland and other cities to address what officials described as destruction of historic monuments. In an executive order last month, Trump decried “rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists” and accused them of targeting public monuments, memorials and statues.” • Bad as Obama was with Occupy and Black Lives Matter, I don’t recall him using unmarked vehicles, which is really Third World stuff. One wonders, however, how this will play in the ‘burbs.
“Brick and mortar, crumbling: The COVID pandemic has cemented Amazon’s dominant position. What now?” [Richard Wolff, New York Daily News]. “During the last few months, huge numbers of smaller stores have closed. Walmarts and Targets have been open and online shopping has become even more widespread, accelerating an Amazonification of America that had already been well underway. What we do about this will largely determine whether we still have functioning public commercial spaces in this country — or whether we fold up our tent and accept that relatively efficient and inexpensive delivery of goods straight to the home will dominate our retail economy for generations to come. The answer matters mightily. Many have forgotten this, but markets are not just places where we go to get goods. They are a defining characteristic of civilization as we know it. Trips to markets became passages into community. Leaving isolation, at least temporarily, people in markets enjoyed interpersonal contacts and socialized activities. They found friends, lovers and partners, and came to discuss and act together to solve shared problems. Their influence went far beyond this function. Villages, towns and cities grew up around markets. People overcame isolation not only by buying from one another. They also brought their workplaces and schools, as well as their homes, nearer to markets both to work and shop more easily and for all the social connections and interactions markets fostered. Modern society has been shaped indispensably by markets and their evolution. It will be deeply affected if real markets mostly vanish, replaced by merely electronic, virtual forms.” • Sort of amazing to see Wolff in the New York Daily News.
“More Lyft Drivers Installing Partitions To Protect Against Covid-19 Spread” [Forbes]. “Lyft said in a release that drivers can purchase the partitions through the Lyft Store, but the company said it will not make a profit on the partitions, disinfectants or other sanitizing materials it makes available to drivers.” • Of course, of course.
News of the Wired
“Reddit Is A Window Into The American Nightmare” [The American Conservative]. “Yet we increasingly understand that many people are latently ill—latent alcoholics, anorexics, hoarders, compulsive gamblers. A society that goes out of its way to trigger these tendencies is not kind or just. A society that pretends they are merely bad choices, and that whatever follows from them is deserved, is positively cruel. A sole focus on personal responsibility demands herculean effort against long odds, and is indeed a kind of complacent bravado. Any of us might bear the seeds of an illness waiting to be triggered or inflamed; any of us have the capacity to do evil. In Christian terms, we pray that we do not undergo the test. In policy terms, we do not run the test. Yet contemporary American culture is a great big testing ground, testing the bounds of greed and willpower and the ability of individuals and families not to crack under soul-crushing stress and deleterious incentives, many of which we euphemize as ‘economic growth.'” • From TAC (?!?).
“‘Invasion’ of ancient Egypt may have actually been immigrant uprising” [Science]. “Ancient Egypt’s first ‘foreign’ takeover may actually have been an inside job. About 3600 years ago, the pharaohs briefly lost control of northern Egypt to the Hyksos, rulers who looked and behaved like people from an area stretching from present-day Syria in the north to Israel in the south. The traditional explanation is that the Hyksos were an invading force. But a fresh analysis of skeletons from the ancient Hyksos capital suggests an alternative: The Hyksos were Egyptian-born members of an immigrant community that rose up and grabbed power. The pharaohs ruled Egypt from about 3100 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E., but they weren’t always in complete command of their territory. One period of vulnerability began around 1800 B.C.E., with a succession of ineffectual pharaohs who struggled to maintain order. The Hyksos took advantage of the power vacuum by seizing control of northern Egypt, according to ancient texts, leaving the pharaohs in charge of only a tiny strip of land to the south. Archaeologists know the Hyksos were unlike typical Egyptians: They had names like those of people from the neighboring region of southwest Asia. Ancient artwork depicts them wearing long, multicolored clothes, unlike normal Egyptian white attire. But exactly who they were has been unclear. The pharaohs later claimed the Hyksos were foreign invaders who took northern Egypt by force and brought disorder and chaos. But some historians say this was simply ancient Egyptian propaganda.” • The Hyksos were outside agitators!
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MontanaMaven writes: “Wild prairie roses near the Crazy Mountains in Montana.” Normally, I wouldn’t run this — 600px is the minimum width at NC — but look at those mountains in the background…
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