By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on the backlog from yesterday, and so the Politics section is thin. More very shortly, since I must move on to another task. –lambert UPDATE All done!
Bird Song of the Day
Northern Bobwhite (Eastern), Kickapoo Cavern State Natural Area, Edwards, Texas, United States. “‘Bobwhite’ call from unknown location in brushy field with scattered oaks.” With many other birds, too.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Manchin permitting reform cut from spending bill” [The Hilll]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesdasy asked Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to remove permitting reform language from a stopgap government funding bill, bowing to the reality that there was too much opposition to the measure. Republicans in the Senate along with Democrats in the House had voiced opposition to the language, and Senate Democrats did not appear to have the 60 votes necessary to proceed. Liberals disliked the measure for policy reasons. Republicans also voiced policy disagreements, but many also said they didn’t want to provide Manchin with a big political win.” • That’s a damn shame.
* * *
“Today’s Headlines: Will the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection drive voters’ decisions?” [Los Angeles Times]. “Locally and in the national political landscape, the U.S. Capitol siege on Jan. 6 has been a minor subplot. There have been efforts to elevate it in the public’s consciousness as a do-or-die moment for democracy. Still, there is little sign that the riot, along with the continued denialism about former President Trump’s 2020 loss and the precariousness of future elections, will mobilize people to the polls or determine a swing voter’s pick. Punditry about this dynamic tends to be blunt: Americans are moving on, Americans don’t care. But the Capitol violence still resonates in subtle but discomfiting ways, invoking strong opinions from voters. Many, though, see those views as distinct from their choice at the ballot box — and they have little appetite to see Jan. 6 become election-season fodder.” • That’s a damn shame. And the Democrats worked so hard!
“The Races That Will Decide Control of the House” [David Wasserman, NBC]. “Republicans need to pick up at least five seats to take back the House in the midterm elections, and three structural advantages have made them favorites all along: redistricting, Democratic retirements and candidate recruitment. But as the abortion issue and a renewed focus on former President Donald Trump have awakened and energized Democratic voters, the fight for the House has become increasingly competitive. Those structural factors once looked like a small component of potential big gains for the GOP in a “red wave” scenario. Now, they look like a valuable insurance policy for Republicans in a fluid political environment, without which House control might be a toss-up.” • The six types: white-collar suburbs, blue-collar bastions, hispanic majority battlegrounds, MAGA primary takeovers, vulnerable GOP incumbents, and hotly contested open seats.
“These 14 Republican Candidates Actively Fought to Overturn the 2020 Election” [Bloomberg]. “But 14 Republican candidates are all in and have been since 2020, putting money or muscle into efforts to overturn the presidential results. They are running for key positions, including in the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that will determine the winner of the 2024 presidential race… Some are running ‘Hail Mary’ campaigns in heavily Democratic areas…. But some have a real shot at victory. Polls show Republican Adam Laxalt in a close race with Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada. Races for House nominees Jim Bognet in Pennsylvania and J.R. Majewski in Ohio are considered toss-ups, and Derrick Van Orden is rated ‘leans Republican’ by the Cook Political Report. And one recent poll put Finchem ahead by 5 points over Democrat Adrian Fontes. ‘Based on the sheer number of them, some of these folks are going to win,’ said Matthew Weil, director of elections at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C. think tank.”
“Democrats’ strategy to boost MAGA Republicans is vindicated” [MSNBC]. • Well, MSNBC. I think this strategy is madness. At some point, after all this evolutionary pressure, a “MAGA variant” will emerge: Smart, competent (at what they do), charismatic, and electable. Elections provide such pressure anyhow, but why intensify risk of ruin in the long term for wins in one election cycle? (The consultants will say, “Don’t worry, we pick the dumb losers.” First, 2016. Second, that strikes me as a variant of “We can control them.” No, you can’t.)
* * *
There is no better way to kick authority in the balls than a $10 donation to our campaign 🤘 https://t.co/HcFUtOZuop
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) September 28, 2022
Capturing Trump’s appeal in a one-liner.
I said “No.”
“Trump Is Single-Handedly Keeping QAnon Alive” [Vice]. “But two years on, QAnon, the conspiracy movement that posits that Trump is waging a secret war against the deep state to unmask a global pedophile ring run by Democrats and Hollywood elite, is still alive, and recently refreshed. They now have a new leader in Trump: the former president has spent the last few months re-energizing the community and giving them hope once more that all their wildest fantasies will come true.” • Makes ya wonder what’s in those documents at Mar-a-Lago. Kidding! Honestly, though. I don’t much like QAnon. But if we’re talking about the damage cults can do, QAnon hasn’t done a millionth part of the damage that mainstream macro has.
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) September 27, 2022
No. 2020 was it. There’s no politician I respect moreMR SUBLIMINAL What a loaded statement! but Sanders has had his shot. We need to make space for new people to emerge.
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
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, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
“Democrats’ Stock Ban Bill Has a Major Loophole, Ethics Expert Says” [ReadSludge]. “Democratic House leaders have unveiled the text of their bill to ban congressional stock trading. While the bill appears strong on many levels—it would force divestiture and it would apply not only to members of Congress but also their spouses and dependent children, among others—it contains language that could potentially open up a major new loophole. Under the bill, which they are calling the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, members of Congress, senior legislative branch employees and other covered individuals would be barred from owning or trading any securities, futures, cryptocurrencies, or other covered assets. In order to comply with the law, they would have 180 days after the law is signed, or after joining Congress, to divest of these banned assets or place them in a blind trust…. The bill states that ‘Notwithstanding [the requirements of the 1978 law]’, a qualified blind trust could be any ‘form of a trust approved by the Office of Government Ethics, Judicial Conference, House of Representatives, or Senate through rulemaking or by majority vote for its respective jurisdiction.’ The bill puts no further restrictions on how these government bodies could redefine what would qualify as a blind trust.” • Wow. It’s hard to see why Pelosi would let such a bill go forward. I mean, “if it’s in my freezer, it’s in a blind trust,” right?
Realignment and Legitimacy
“The Republican Model and the Crisis of National Liberalism” (PDF) [Benjamin Studebaker, Cosmos + Taxis]. “This special issue is interested in whether libertarianism and classical liberalism can be productively paired with interstate federalism to overcome the limitations that state sovereignty imposes on them. To answer that question, we must first ask whether it is possible to separate the liberal project from the project of the nation-state. In this paper, I’ll argue that liberalism and nationalism have become intimately bound up with one another. Each depends on the other, and both chafe at the limitations this imposes. These limitations largely take the form of state capacity problems. The nationalists are unable to achieve the kind of internal social unity they desire because of liberalism, and the liberals are unable to build the kind of global capitalism they want because of nationalism. In recent years, the two projects have tried to go their separate ways. But because they are fundamentally codependent, this separation is extraordinarily fraught. On its own, nationalism pursues a level of social unity that is fundamentally unsustainable. This results in the proliferation of an ever-larger array of group identities, each of which demands a level of political representation that it cannot enjoy consistently alongside the others. Sectarianism and gridlock follow. At the same time, liberalism is unable to generate political legitimacy as a standalone theory. It must be partnered with a compelling theory of political community.” • Worth a read! And “National Liberalism” is certainly an interesting formulation! Reminds me of something….
“Kagan v. Roberts: Justices Spar Over Supreme Court’s Legitimacy” [Wall Street Journal]. “Liberal Justice Elena Kagan, in a series of public appearances, said the court’s conservative majority had diminished the high court’s credibility with decisions that track Republican priorities. Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking at a separate event, retorted that the court’s decisions have no bearing on its legitimacy as it carries out its mandate to interpret the Constitution. On his side was fellow conservative Samuel Alito, author of the majority opinion in the term’s landmark case overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.” • Every decision after Bush v. Gore is fruit of the poison tree, so far as I’m concerned.
“Michigan election worker charged with tampering with voting equipment” [Reuters]. ” An election worker in a western Michigan town has been charged with two felonies after allegedly inserting a flash drive into a computer containing confidential voter registration data during an election in August, local officials said on Wednesday…. The incident highlights the so-called ‘insider threat’ risk that has increasingly worried election officials, especially in battleground states like Michigan where falsehoods about systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election have spread most widely.” • Again, again, again: The problem is not “equipment.” The problem is that there is equipment.
Big if true:
There is a large amount of anti-American sentiment that has been normalized. It is as absurd to think the U.S. government always lies as it is to think it never lies. It's also hypocritical, everyone relies on the U.S. government and its basic reliability and honesty.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) September 29, 2022
I have enormous respect for Stoller, dating back many years. But “[E]veryone relies on the U.S. government and its basic reliability and honesty”? Really? (Of “government”: I would distinguish the civil servants, those DCBlogger calls worker bees, from those participating in the “flex nets” — bought the book, have to reread it — at the elite level. The Pelosis, the Faucis, the Bidens, the Clintons, the Trumps, the Clappers, and their entourages and courtly retainers. Sloppy class analysis, I know!)
• “Far-UVC (222 nm) efficiently inactivates an airborne pathogen in a room-sized chamber” [Nature]. Missed this when it came out in March. The Abstract: “Many infectious diseases, including COVID-19, are transmitted by airborne pathogens. There is a need for effective environmental control measures which, ideally, are not reliant on human behaviour. One potential solution is Krypton Chloride (KrCl) excimer lamps (often referred to as Far-UVC), which can efficiently inactivate pathogens, such as coronaviruses and influenza, in air. Research demonstrates that when KrCl lamps are filtered to remove longer-wavelength ultraviolet emissions they do not induce acute reactions in the skin or eyes, nor delayed effects such as skin cancer. While there is laboratory evidence for Far-UVC efficacy, there is limited evidence in full-sized rooms. For the first time, we show that Far-UVC deployed in a room-sized chamber effectively inactivates aerosolised Staphylococcus aureus. At a room ventilation rate of 3 air-changes-per-hour (ACH), with 5 filtered-sources the steady-state pathogen load was reduced by 98.4% providing an additional 184 equivalent air changes (eACH). This reduction was achieved using Far-UVC irradiances consistent with current American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists threshold limit values for skin for a continuous 8-h exposure. Our data indicate that Far-UVC is likely to be more effective against common airborne viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, than bacteria and should thus be an effective and “hands-off” technology to reduce airborne disease transmission. The findings provide room-scale data to support the design and development of effective Far-UVC systems.” And importantly: “All methodologies designed to reduce airborne transmission of diseases such as COVID-19 would ideally be used within a layered approach involving, as appropriate, vaccination, social distancing, masks and ventilation.” Commentary:
If I were a betting man, I’d put >20% odds that this or a successor technology reaches nearly ubiquitous deployment in the first world within 10 years. https://t.co/aDrWKLTjFH
— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) September 29, 2022
Finally, something to go long on! Readers, known issues?
• Some nice compliments:
4. Non-conformists. Often a personal history of non-conformity going right back to adolescence. Yet…
5. Paradoxically, strong moral code; belief in ethical duty to the greater good of society.
7. Rational; aware of their own cognitive biases.
— Conor Browne (@brownecfm) September 25, 2022
Lambert here: Will somebody click on the “September 25, 2022” link and say if the Twitter login still appears? (My recollection is that Twitter can rewrite the values in the embed code to eliminate this sort of workaround, but I could be wrong!)
10. Emotionally stable
11. Comfortable with uncertainty
13. Intuitively understand risk/benefit analysis
Unsurprisingly, many of these traits are well-known as forming part of a 'survivor mindset'.
These people are not anxious.
— Conor Browne (@brownecfm) September 25, 2022
No, not “anxious.” That “living in fear” talking point drives me up the wall. I would say “rationally apprehensive,” indeed “living with Covid,” but determined to live. I’m tired of being part of a maligned outgroup.* That’s something I don’t want to “live with,” and I don’t think anyone should. Now, whether “survivor mindset” translates into behavior in the political realm, that I can’t say. (On “paradoxically,” the account has clarifying remarks.) NOTE * Pretty ironic for a WASP!
• The sick and sickening farce at CDC infection control continues:
— David Fisman (@DFisman) September 27, 2022
• I made this joke awhile back, but this version is better:
I think I prefer omicron, it's the mildest…. pic.twitter.com/5kOdiel9bx
— Roger Gustafsson WHN 😷🐈 (@RogerGustafsso2) September 27, 2022
• A good thread on long Covid:
– Maybe it is rare: No, it affects tens of %s, and even those without symptoms have organ damage and acute events like heart attacks and strokes, as well as cognitive loss.
— Yaneer Bar-Yam (@yaneerbaryam) September 27, 2022
Case count for the United States:
Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~56,100. Today, it’s ~60,000 and 60,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 336,600. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2019 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).
Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.
• ”Rising Covid-19 cases in the UK may be a warning for the US” [CNN]. “There are signs that the United Kingdom could be heading into a fall Covid-19 wave, and experts say the United States may not be far behind. A recent increase in Covid-19 cases in England doesn’t seem to be driven by a new coronavirus variant, at least for now, although several are gaining strength in the US and across the pond. ‘Generally, what happens in the UK is reflected about a month later in the US. I think this is what I’ve sort of been seeing,’ said Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London.” And: “Spector runs the Zoe Health Study, which uses an app to let people in the UK and US report their daily symptoms. If they start to feel bad, they take a home Covid-19 test and record those results. He says that about 500,000 people are currently logging their symptoms every day to help track trends in the pandemic. Spector says the study, which has been running since the days of the first lockdown in England in 2020, has accurately captured the start of each wave, and its numbers run about one to two weeks ahead of official government statistics.” • Wow, what a concept. If only we could create apps in this country!
• UK hospitalization is up:
Hospital admissions with COVID have risen sharply!
7-day average for England up 48%.
Implied R estimate above 1.2. The highest we’ve seen in 2022.
Regionally, the biggest increases are in SE (up 64%) and Mids (up 58%) but big increases everywhere.
Bed occupancy is up by 37%. pic.twitter.com/ote7Eg9JTp
— COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group (@COVID19actuary) September 29, 2022
• Note also UK hospital-acquired cases:
Likely hospital acquired cases have almost doubled in the past week in England!!
There were 2,197 such cases in the 7 days to 26 Sept. In the previous week there were 1,133 such cases.
The last time there were over 2,000 likely hospital acquired cases / week was in July. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Rvhrx4Cxff
— Adele Groyer (@AdeleGroyer) September 29, 2022
Recall that CDC’s guidance gives no reason for hospitals to treat Covid as airborne. So we could expect the same here.
Regional case count for four weeks:
Wastewater data (CDC), September 27:
Lambert here: I added all the dots back in. The number of grey dots really concerns me. How can all the sites for international air travel center New York be grey (“no recent data”). And California’s pretty gappy, too.
For grins, September 25:
NOTE To get the CDC data pages to load, I have to turn off my VPN. Thanks for the security breach, CDC.
An alert reader (please take a bow in comments) suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:
The CDC wastewater data confirms; Middlesex County (Boston area) has a red dot. The red dots are clickable:
Interestingly, all the red dots are in the Northeast.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 21:
NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.
Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow, which continues to please.
NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 23:
I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers. Those two red areas in Northern Maine and upstate New York are both on the way to Quebec, Canada.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 23:
Not a sea of green.
NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays. But not, apparently, yesterday!
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 10:
Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), September 3 (Nowcast off):
Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). What about BA.2.75?
The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.
Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total (September 23)
|CDC Region||% Total||States in Region|
|Region 2:||1.3% (0.8%)||New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands|
|Region 8:||1.3% (0.0%)||Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming|
|Region 9:||1.2% (0.0%)||Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….|
|Region 6:||0.6% (0.0%)||Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas|
|Region 3:||0.5% (0.4%)||Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia|
|Region 4:||0.4% (0.4%)||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee|
|Region 5:||0.4% (0.7%)||Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin|
|Region 7:||0.3% (0.3%)||lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska|
|Region 10:||0.3% (0.0%)||Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington|
|Region 1:||0.1% (0.7%)||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont|
LEGEND: Previous CDC variant release shown in parentheses, (thus).
Not encouraging. Of course, the absolute numbers are small, but we’ve seen that movie before. I especially don’t like the jump in Region 2, because the New York area is “spready,” based on past history. Region 1, on the other hand, dropped.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,083,798 – 1,082,030 = 1,768 (1,768 * 365 = 645,320, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
• The above chart is the death rate (i.e., am I in more or less danger if I get sick). Here are daily deaths, from the same source:
These do track the decline in case counts, which suggests the shapes of the curves are right, at least (even though case counts are severely understand, and death counts are jiggered, with all the “with” and “from” stuff, plus subjective decisions by whoever signs the death certificates).
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 16,000 to 193,000 in the week that ended September 24, the lowest since the end of April and well below market expectations of 215,000, pointing to an increasingly tight labor market and adding more room for interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”
GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy contracted an annualized 0.6% on quarter in Q2 2022, matching the second estimate, and confirming the economy technically entered a recession, following a 1.6% drop in Q1. Private inventories and fixed investment were the main draggers in Q2.”
Profits: “United States Corporate Profits” [Trading Economics]. “Corporate profits in the United States rose 6.2 percent to a fresh record high of USD 2.53 trillion in the second quarter of 2022, less than previous estimates of a 9.1 percent surge and following a downwardly revised 2.5 percent drop in the previous period.”
Tech: “The Uber Hack Exposes More Than Failed Data Security” [Bruce Schneier, New York Times]. “urrent economic and political forces incentivize companies to skimp on security at the expense of both personal and national security. If we are to ever have a hope of doing better, we need to change the market incentives. When you’re a high-tech start-up company, you are likely to cut corners in a lot of areas. It makes business sense — your primary focus is to earn customers and grow quickly enough to remain in business when your venture capital funding runs out. Anything that isn’t absolutely essential to making the business work is left for later, and that includes security culture and practices. It’s a gamble: spending money on speed and features rather than security is a more likely path to success than being secure yet underfunded, underfeatured, or — worst of all — a year later to market. Security can be improved later, but only if necessary. If you’ve survived the start-up world and become a runaway success, you’ve had to scale to accommodate your customers or users. You’ve been forced to improve performance and reliability, because your new higher-profile customers demand more. You’ve had to make your internal systems work for your hundreds and maybe thousands of employees. You’re now an established company, and you had better look and act that way. But in all of that, you’ve never had incentive to upgrade your security. The quick-and-dirty systems you built in the beginning still work, and your customers or users don’t know what’s going on behind the curtain. Your employees are expected not to tell anyone, like chefs being told to stay in the kitchen. And truth be told, it’s expensive and time-consuming to rebuild everything from ground up with security in mind. This is something I see again and again in companies, and not only in start-ups.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 15 Extreme Fear (previous close: 19 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 1:04 PM EDT.
“Sabra will be Marvel’s latest attempt at ‘woke imperialism'” [Asa Winstanley]. “Israel lobby groups celebrated as Marvel Studios announced in September that an Israeli “superhero” will appear in the 2024 movie Captain America: New World Order. The character of Sabra will be played by Israeli actor Shira Haas, a former volunteer with the Israeli army’s theater troupe. In the comics, Sabra is a Mossad agent. The film could help the Israeli spy agency recruit sources and assistance in other countries, Mossad veteran and now film consultant Avner Avraham told CNN.” • Awesome. Maybe Sabra can overthrow Jeremy Corbyn (fictionalized, of course). (Filing this here, since Marvel seems games-adjacent to me.)
“Chess Champion Breaks Silence On ‘An*l Bead’ Cheating Controversy” [Kotaku]. “[T]he chess police tasked with identifying cheating use a mix of tools, including computer programs that analyze players’ behavior and look for anomalies. Basically, if someone plays too well, the software will flag it and the experts investigate further. Computer scientist Ken Regan, who developed the program used by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), checked Carlsen’s now-infamous loss to Niemann and found nothing. Danny Rensch, a chess master and executive at Chess.com, told the Guardian his platform has better anti-cheating models finely tuned to each grandmaster’s player profile. “Once in a while anomalies do happen,” he said. “But if you have a lot of smoke, a lot of evidence, and a lot of reason to believe in the DNA of who someone is, and you walk into the room and they just say, ‘I just lifted that fridge with one arm,’ you’re like, ‘Fucking bullshit, motherfucker.’ Is there a lot of smoke in the Niemann case? Rensch isn’t saying. At least not yet. Niemann has continued to deny the allegations, although he hasn’t yet responded to Carlsen’s latest salvo. But the 19-year-old has broken at least one promise. When the drama first started, he promised to play his next match naked to prove he wasn’t hiding anything. To everyone’s relief, he did not make good on that threat.” • Hmm. Still no actual evidence, interestingly.
Groves of Academe
“An in-person conference drew me out of isolation—and re-energized my Ph.D.” [Science]. “So, soon after the conference, I moved my entire work set up to my desk on campus. I now interact with other students regularly while working in our shared office, crossing paths in the hallways, or eating lunch. These little interactions are not only good for my mental health and well-being, but they are also helping me move my research forward more rapidly and think about what I want to do after I graduate. For instance, one conversation alerted me to a new method I could use in my research. Another conversation, which included senior Ph.D. students, helped me think through different career paths and how internships might help me choose one. I’ve spent my career so far in academia, but some of the other students had industry experience and I found it helpful to hear their perspective. Although hybrid events and flexible work options are beneficial for many reasons, my in-person conference experience helped me figure out that working almost entirely from home wasn’t right for me. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to carry my newfound excitement forward in my research now that I’m surrounded by researchers again.” • I searched for the word “smile,” and didn’t find it. Still, this reads like “back to the office” propaganda to me; and now that both Nature and Science have entered the political arena, that’s not implausible. (And the style: The air of ingenuous sincerity gives me the creeps.) Here’s the illustration. of scientists coming out from behind their computer screens:
Not a mask in sight. No windows, either. Good job, Science!
Can any readers tell from the style that this was painted in 1965, and not much earlier?
Two Lemons and a Lime Wrapped.' Painted in 1965, Eliot Hodgkin once said of his work: 'I look at simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.' pic.twitter.com/NpjzNVydkF
— Richard Morris: Art History in a Tweet (@ahistoryinart) September 27, 2022
“Whose pay should be cut in economic crises? Consumers prefer firms that prioritize paying employees over CEOs” [Cambridge University Press]. From the Abstract: “Four experiments examine the impact of a firm deciding to no longer pay salaries for executives versus employees on consumer behavior, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. … Four experiments examine the impact of firm pay decisions for executives versus employees on consumer behavior. A firm’s commitment to paying employees their full wages leads to the most positive consumer reactions (Study 1). When evaluating CEO and employee pay strategies simultaneously, consumers respond most positively to firms which prioritize paying employees, regardless of their strategy for CEO pay. Moreover, these positive perceptions are mediated by perceptions of financial pain to employees, more than perceptions of CEO-to-worker pay ratio fairness (Studies 1 and 2). We replicate these effects in an incentive-compatible study (Study 3). Beyond the context of COVID-19, consumers continue to react favorably to firms that maintain employee pay, but there is an added benefit of cutting CEO pay and lowering the CEO-to-worker pay ratio.” • Interesting! Of course, the implication is that CEOs have the good of the firm at heart. Perhaps not?
If you want to prevent fascism, deliver full employment:
"The fight of the progressive forces for full employment is
at the same time a way of *preventing* the recurrence of fascism." – Kalecki pic.twitter.com/BuOWOwxiS5
— David Stein (@DavidpStein) September 26, 2022
News of the Wired
“Bargain hunter scores 700-year-old medieval times document” [Associated Press]. ” A bargain hunter who went to an estate sale in Maine to find a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf or vintage clothing walked away with a 700-year-old treasure…. The parchment is worth upward of $10,000, according to [Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America]. But [Will] Sideri said he has no intention of selling it. He said he likes the history and beauty of the parchment — and the story of how he stumbled upon it. ‘This is something at the end of the day that I know is cool,’ he said. ‘I didn’t buy this expecting to sell it.'” • Well done that man. Let’s hope it works out.
Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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. From Carla:
Carla (this is the real Carla) writes: “A sugar maple in the central square of Burton, OH just starting to turn on Sept 18 2022. In a couple of weeks, this tree will oversee the village’s annual Burton Apple Butter Festival. Each weekend next March it will welcome the region’s public to pancake breakfasts featuring the excellent local maple syrup.”
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!