2:00PM Water Cooler 10/24/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on how CDC is butchering variant data. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

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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 SR:

SR writes: “Beautyberry ripening (Asian not American variety, I believe), plus Lady’s Thumb (lower left, buckwheat family, I think).”

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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. Louis Fyne

    stopped by the grocery store, 12 large eggs = $3.89. highest ever, and not long ago that eggs were $0.99/dozen.

    obviously life goes on when eggs are this high (unless you are a bakery), but it is jarring. Like seeing European gas prices for the first time.

    1. doug

      Check out vegetable shortening. Doubled or more as well. I think those morning biscuit places must be in a tizzy.
      Callicarpa Americana has somewhat larger leaves than the Asian variety, Callicarpa Dichotoma. I can’t tell from the picture which it is. Either way, it is a nice plant. The Asian variety is a bit tidier and compact.

      1. LaRuse

        I noticed canola oil has gone from $1.79 to $3.89 (store brand, not name brand). 18 count eggs were $3.19 this week, down from their peak of $3.79 about 6 weeks ago. King Arthur brand white flour was on sale for $4.99 for a 5lb bag. We used to get flour from a local mill and a 50lb bag was $25. Now they cannot even sell off bags to individual purchasers from the Mill anymore.
        But good news…avocados are back down below a $1 per fruit.

        1. ambrit

          What’s with the local mill? Regulatory overreach? Supply constraints? Company bought out by a transnational?

          1. LaRuse

            High demand from large/industrial purchasers. Now that is very stale info; we haven’t tried to purchase from the Mill since the spring. Maybe things have evened out.

            1. ambrit

              I wonder how many small outfits like your mill have locked in contracts with larger customers?
              Secondly, wouldn’t the larger customers be “regulars” with this company? If so, past years suggest that supplies in ‘normal’ years were enough to supply everyone. Have supplies this year fallen to where the ‘secondary’ tier customers were sacrificed to the needs of the larger customers?
              Thirdly, are the larger customers “prepping” for a shortage of supply, as in Joseph and his dreams of cows?
              Fourthly, is the interruption in grain exports from the Ukraine and Russia having effects this quickly? That is an interesting dynamic all on it’s own.
              No matter how we look at it, something is up.

    2. griffen

      I can make do for 1 to 2 weeks on a half dozen, which as of Saturday / Sunday were running $1.78. I think a dozen medium eggs were roughly $3.50. And the egg cartons for sale of the name brand Egglands Best, well yikes. 18 eggs were over $5.

      Gasoline is hovering about $3.20 to $3.30 around these parts in the southeast lately. Inflation maybe, just maybe is trending lower but someone should tell State Farm, based on my 6 month auto renewal they are still catching up to the trend.

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        In upstate NY (southern tier), as of this afternoon, Eggland’s best large are $5.09/dz; Nellie’s Free Range brown large $5.79/dz, house brand (“PICS”) grade A extra large are $4.79/dz; PICS large are $10.19 for 30; Pete & Gerry’s Organic Free Range are $7.39/dz (!).

        King Arthur All Purpose $4.99/5lb; KA Bread Flour $7.09/5lb; Gold Medal all purpose $5.79/5lb; house brand unbleached all purpose $4.39/5lb.

    3. semper loquitur

      Went to order a fish taco from my fave Mexican place. It was 8$ for one, used to be around 6$. Made a sandwich instead.

    4. Jen

      8 bucks for a 12 pack of selzer. It was 4 bucks a month ago. Blame the national CO2 shortage that Petal mentioned a while back.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Along the San Francisco waterfront fish & chips + a pint of beer will cost $25 + tax+ tip. This is considered a “deal”.

      2. Wukchumni

        I’ve been going through Topo Chico withdrawals (///taps lower arm repeatedly looking in vain) as availability is spotty or often nothing on the shelves, and only in glass bottles when I find a supply of the fizzy.

        Hit up a Vallerta super market which is aimed more at Mexican-American shoppers, and bingo they had the lather plastic bottles, but what used to be 1 1/2 liters is now 1 liter, and truth be said I like the new size better, perfect in your daypack on a traipse into the wilderness.

        Oh yeah, the price on 1 1/2 liter Topo Chico used to be $1.89, with the new & impoverished 1 liter bottles costing me $2.19.

    5. Eureka Springs

      I bought some small eggs not long ago and asked if they just wiped the spots off a bunch of quail eggs.

    1. The Historian

      Yea, BIG NEWS! With the amount of corruption in this country and the other things that the FBI should be investigating and aren’t – and here we see that all Garland wants to do is play Spy v. Spy.

      I’m sure Garland doesn’t realize it but holding a big press conference on the FBI’s entrapping a couple of spies (who were doing what spies do – WOW! big surprise) doesn’t make him or his agency look all that competent.

      1. Screwball

        I thought is was something big, then watched part of the presser. Turned it off. Sounded like a bunch of BS. Had all the keywords like “alleged”, “if proven” etc.

        File under more mid-term BS in order to save their sorry a$$.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        This is part and parcel of the “squeezing China” efforts underway. War by other means. It plays well domestically.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        True story. An ex was as a child yelled at for running around in a church lobby by someone who was later revealed to have committed “light treason.”

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Why would the DOJ prosecute a global company to begin with? Unless they’re looking to get slapped by a giant ISDS suit.

      1. Screwball

        We need to poke more bears? Think what might happen if/when we really tick off China.

        Not like we need anything from them. No problem, blame it on someone/somewhere else. And if nothing else, blame Russia. These people are clueless, incompetent, inept, and frankly, revolting.

        I watched a clip of Pelosi on some show telling us to change the subject on inflation because it’s everywhere. True, I’ll give you that. But to change the subject? No, I don’t think so. IMO, Inflation IS a problem, and unless you admit there is a problem, it won’t be fixed.

        And it really chaps my as she will sit there and lecture us while her wardrobe would probably feed feed dozens of people, not to mention her freezer. Maybe she should take a stroll around her district.

    3. notabanker

      “Interference”. They are threatening their democracy. One chip design at a time. Kinda hard to surveil the world when the Chinese have competing interests.

    1. paul

      …and it’s awful nice that mark mothersbaugh’s father agreed to play General Boy.

      That’s real family values.

      1. griffen

        That is really hard to figure, Chi Chi was entertaining back in the day. Now it seems, every week on the PGA Tour the top 10 to top 20 all look like accountants or audit people, usually just a bit too “joyless” in how they play.

        Grinding away to make a few million, it’s a tough game. And I watch a lot of golf!

  2. Screwball

    Then there is this from WAPO; Liberals urge Biden to rethink Ukraine strategy


    A group of 30 House liberals is urging President Biden to dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war and pursue direct negotiations with Russia, the first time prominent members of his own party have pushed him to change his approach to Ukraine.

    According to my PMC friends – this is 30 new assholes.

    IMO, they seem like the adults in the room, even if they just grew up (or grew a) a couple of days ago.

    Can someone take the TV away from the PMC people before they get us all killed?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the comments below that art are interestin, too.
      used to, i could tell whether a commenter in such msm places was gop or dem…now i cannot.
      and one of the things that bugs me most about the newly overt love for war and rapine in Team Blue is how (again, mom’s my representative sample) they apparently can’t remember when we weren’t at war with eastasia.
      i also took the opportunity of yer link to peruse wapo’s main page…and even scanned some of the arts with the headlines that leapt out at me most starkly(Liz the Wise, the Terrble Danger of Trump(or Musk, or Putin, variously…)….the Parlous AMLO and his Hitlerlike “populism”(shudder))
      i rarely read MSM any longer, aside from a weekly perusal of CNN.
      but the brain rot seems to have worsened in my absence.
      also grazed on Foreign Policy a lil while ago…similar rot.
      after this exercise, i find myself thinking about my local Team Blue…ensconced safely in their Hillforts, looking down on the rest of us, unless you park yer beat up truck too close to their bolt or whatever.
      long ago, i was mad at them for their local disengagement…now, i’m not…i find it easier to get along with apolitical small-c “conservatives”, these days(the ones who are not trump fans, at least…and especially those who have abandoned electoral politics and the mummery that goes with it)

      1. Screwball


        I read your tale about that the other day. I’m with you all the way.

        Funny, I live in rural Ohio. The sticks. An hour to the closest big city (Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus). We are the stupid red neck mouth breathing hicks who the PMC love to hate. You can’t even engage with those people anymore. I have lost so many friends, not because we argued, but I can’t stand to be a part of the obsession with – Trump, Putin, Russia, whatever. Crazy.

        Yet, a couple days a week I go to a little dive bar here in Cornhole. A good place to get you butt kicked if you decide to be stupid. I sit with a couple other retired guys having a few beers. Across the bar I see a guy with a “Let’s go Brandon” hat on, sitting with his black girlfriend. Beside him is a pink haired girl who just got off work at a local factory, beside her is a prominent local businessman, and beside him is the owner of the bar.

        When we go the other way from the Brandon guy, you have a local housing/carpenter/re-modeler owner and a couple of his workers, then a bricklayer, a guy who works at the local sewer plant, a couple of pierced up, tattooed, gay girls, beside a big black guy who just got off work, but also runs a DJ service, and a guy who got a degree and said “screw it” and decided to be a painter (gets all the high end stuff for the PMC),

        And the crazy thing…Everybody gets along. The only people who might get their butts kicked are those who decide to change this dynamic and environment.

        I still blame disco. :-)

    2. The Rev Kev

      That article said ‘The Biden administration has been adamant that it is up to Kyiv whether and when to negotiate with Russia, arguing that Ukrainians as a free people should decide their fate.’ So now that the Ukraine has passed a law making it illegal to negotiate with Russia so long as Putin is in power, what then? Russia is not bothered negotiating with the Ukraine but wants direct negotiations with the US as the Ukraine and the EU/NATO will do whatever the US wants and will fall in line with any agreements. But how do you make agreements with the agreement-incapable?

      1. Screwball

        I watched part of the town hall stuff. That’s all I will say about that, but my PMC friends were mad because she “catered” to people at this event (and others too getting pressured), while telling me we all must vote D to save democracy.

        I don’t know where the truth lies anymore, but if your constituents are against war, shouldn’t you “represent” them?

        I don’t know how it works anymore.

        1. nippersdad

          The moment I saw that I thought, “gee, maybe they noticed that they were voted in by anti-war people, and that voting for funding Nazis would prolly turn them off?” But, no. Gallego and Jayapal had to toe the line.

          I would like to see the undercounts in a couple of weeks. A lot of them get their funding online from outside their districts, that may be easier to track. I have unsuscribed from all of their e-mails, and, as one man does not a demographic make, they may need to take some fundraising classes from Nancy if they want to be able to compete with the Clays and Crowleys that are soon going to be breathing down their necks.

          At a minimum, just imagine what a 115 billion could do in some of those districts! What a waste of opportunity.

    1. GW

      Thanks. I haven’t seen that version since it played on American network TV in the 1970s. I’ve always intended to watch it again.

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘Lavrov Confirms Information That Kiev Intends To Use “Dirty Bomb” Falseflag’

    I guess that this makes it official and that the Ukrainians really were planning to use one. I can only imagine what the Russians promised the Ukrainians if they tried to do this-

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/UI1kzZSWRwqv/ (58 secs)

  4. nippersdad

    Bellingcat is on the case:


    “A six-month investigation conducted by Bellingcat, The Insider and Der Spiegel found a hidden group of dozens of military engineers working within the “Main Computation Centre of the General Staff” of the Russian armed forces to allegedly program the missile flight paths………..Attribution of the programming of the flight-path of these allegedly high-precision weapons is relevant as the deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure could constitute potential war crimes,” the report adds.”

    Ooh! Now do a report on double taps of weddings and funerals using people who do their targeting live. There is just no self-awareness there, and it looks like they may have burned their sources.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Anybody hear about “Rebel’s Run” – a movie that would feature a Confederate-themed girl superhero? Theodore Beale, a far-right blogger known as “Vox Day” raised $1 million to make this film and transferred it to a self-proclaimed crypto billionaire to be held in escrow – but who took the money and ran as he was actually a con artist. They should raise the money to make a film about this instead-


  6. Carolinian

    House of the Dragon all gone for this year. Any thoughts? I thought the show got better as it went along although I liked the young Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock, an Australian).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s okay. The woman leads have been good, both young and old, but the young Rhaenyra had to go for the role and time jump.. Matt Smith and the one eyed guy (in the show) are the only ones who seem to understand what kind of show they are on as, Matt Smith especially, commit to world class scene chewing.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Something for the quiet hours. Here is a demonstration how what we see is not what is necessarily true. If you have ever seen the Lord of the Rings films, then you would be familiar with the warrior Riders of Rohan who have all the armour and steeds. Yeah, about that. Would you believe that the majority of the riders you saw in that film were actually women who rode their own horses and had beards stuck on their faces to disguise this fact?


    Personally I think that Tolkien might have been pleased and may have even written this into his books as he already referred to the fact that Rohan women were warriors. But damn, I will have to watch for this the next time that I watch this film.

  8. ambrit

    Small Zeitgeist Report.
    A local fellow who does odd jobs around the neighborhood turned up this morning asking for food handouts. I gave him some canned goods and dry goods. He does work when it is available, so some of us cut him some slack. He stated that the local food pantry was empty this morning, the first time he had seen that in several years.
    Several days ago, as I trundled to the local Bigg Boxx store I passed an hispanic family standing at a busy street corner with the classic, “Please Help” cardboard sign.
    All of the outlets are out of vegetable seeds.
    I’m starting to see obviously bare shelves in the stores.
    I’d say, stay safe, but you know that already.

    1. griffen

      I am expecting these anecdotes will continue, and perhaps become even more prevalent. After the 1929 Crash, we got the boomlet in Hoovervilles; over the next year will there be a boom in “Biden towns” ?

      Hope abounds, if you feel lucky with the numbers and spending loot on a lottery. And the jackpot is growing until the next drawing. I do not recommend, just passing along.


      1. ambrit

        The most regressive tax known to lowly Terran humans; gambling.
        I knew the lottery grift was crooked when I learned about how the States made a gambling strategy that increased a syndicate of investor’s odds of winning at the Lottery illegal.
        Basically, a matrix of computers calculated the odds of various numbers coming up in the Lottery choice method based upon statistical analysis of the observed number presentations. (This was ultimately traced back to physical wear on the balls used in the lottery machine, similar to a Bingo machine.) In this system, the high odds number sets were bet using automated bet placing systems. A syndicate would place a hundred thousand “bets” to get good odds of winning something. The system worked. So, Lottery systems the world over switched their rules to require hand printed betting slips for each and every bet. Making a hundred thousand ‘bets’ in a few hours, all by hand, became unfeasible. This was a case where “The Fix” was literally in.

        1. caucus99percenter

          Just the opposite of what that other gambling industry — stock markets like NYSE and NASDAQ — have done in recent decades: namely, facilitating direct hookups of their computers to the computers of their Biggest Players, optimizing the latter’s capacity to engage in electronically automated, algorithm-driven HFT (high-frequency trading).

  9. Charlene

    BidenPression dead ahead. Still better than being roast alive in your house unless you are in the blast zone. I too believe in choice, like staying alive, as well as our children.

    Voters, please obliterate Joe Biden’s enablers, both Democrat and Republican.

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