By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Thrush Nightingale, Moscow, Russia. No, that’s not an editorial comment. Very pretty indeed!
“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
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“The White House girds for combat” [Politico]. “Outside the White House, Democratic operatives in close coordination with the president’s team are drawing up binders of research on the would-be 2024 opponents and beginning to plot top staff acquisitions. And as the GOP cattle calls begin in earnest, including one event over the weekend in Nevada, Democrats are moving to monitor and attack GOP contenders as they make their swings through various states. Asked about the approach to the former president, a person close to the White House pointed to the rapid-response style videos released by Biden designed to undercut Trump’s term in office and bolster his own. The videos looked at Biden’s push to pass a sweeping infrastructure law compared with Trump’s unfulfilled effort; along with Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election.”
“Midterms highlight GOP crossover victories” [Axios]. “The number of House Republicans in crossover seats — districts carried by President Biden — nearly doubled from 2020 to 2022. This new cast of independent-minded Republicans could act as a moderating force in Kevin McCarthy’s caucus. The new Congress will include 16 to 18 House Republicans in Biden districts — up from nine after the 2020 election. Six of the split-ticket lawmakers hail from New York. Three to five will represent California (pending race calls) The number of Democrats representing Trump districts dipped: There’ll likely be five of them — down from seven in the last Congress. The majority-making Republicans who hail from blue districts want party leaders to focus on the economy, not impeachment.” • Surely Republicans can walk and chew gum?
“Stories from the polls around the country” [Fulcrum]. From California: “Four-day vote center in Northern California in a largely Vietnamese community. Citizenship class going on next door. Pleasant, courteous, older voters proudly exercising their right to vote in free and fair elections. It was heartwarming and encouraging. As a poll worker in our tiny precinct I also had a very positive experience that reinforced my belief in the integrity of our system. Everyone was super happy to be doing democracy. Super cute little kids putting ballots into the big red box and feeling like they helped. I love voting.”
“Democrats Have Some Solid Options If Biden Doesn’t Run in 2024” [Ross Barkan, New York Magazine]. A situation where one prefers solids to liquids. I suppose. Anyhow, the rising stars: Jared Polis (Governor CO), Gretchen Whitmer (Governor MI), Raphael Warnock (Senator GA, maybe), Josh Shapiro (Governor PA), John Fetterman (Senator PA). “If Biden decides to run, the nomination is his. None of these Democrats would dare challenge him. And Harris would surely be the front-runner in the event Biden ever decides, on the advice of his inner circle, to step away after one term. But that shouldn’t be a coronation for the vice-president, either — not with the sheer number of battle-tested senators and governors who stand ready to contend with DeSantis or Trump. The Democrats, for once, have built a political army for tomorrow.” • I have to say, this list can’t be serious if Fetterman’s on it, not because of his stroke (and one hopes continuing recovery) but because he has no experience on the national stage. I’m surprised Stacey Abrams isn’t on it. Or Beto.
“Hunter Biden’s Laptop Is Still Real” [The American Conservative]. “CBS News investigation concluded that Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell” is authentic. No, this isn’t a time capsule from October 2020. It is a news story from Monday, November 21, 2022, more than two years after the New York Post first reported on the laptop—and for the trouble faced bans on social media and accusations of peddling Russian disinformation…. Politico’s Natasha Bertrand uncritically regurgitated a letter, signed by more than 50 former intelligence officials who falsely claimed, on the basis of exactly zero evidence, that the Post’s reporting was Kremlin-hatched disinformation. This was not the idle speculation of a few ex-spooks. It served to justify in real time what perhaps was the most chilling episode of state-directed private-sector censorship in U.S. history. NPR didn’t even bother to look into the story, with managing editor for news Terence Samuels telling the taxpayer-funded outlet’s public editor that “we don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories.'” • All these people need to be punished, the spooks especially, and I hope the House Republicans have the stones to do it.
“How Panic on the Left Could Spark a Constitutional Crisis” [Politico]. Moore v. Harper. “The most terrifying concern making the rounds is that an endorsement of the independent state legislature theory would, in the words of the Center for American Progress, empower ‘a rogue state legislature … to refuse to certify the accurate results of a presidential election’ and ‘disregard the will of the people and instead appoint its own slate of electors.’ The New York Times reported that ‘many Democrats believe … state legislatures could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors.’ Hillary Clinton recently warned in a fundraising pitch that ‘the right-wing Supreme Court may be poised to rule on giving state legislatures … the power to overturn presidential elections.’ Similar claims made their way into the pages of the New Yorker. And Mother Jones. And the Guardian. And the New Republic. And MSNBC. These claims are unequivocally false. Even if the Supreme Court adopts the most extreme version of the independent state legislature theory, it would absolutely and without question violate the Constitution and federal law for a state legislature to toss out the results of the election and appoint its own ‘alternative’ electors after Election Day. There is a simple reason that a state legislature doesn’t have that power, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in Moore. Article II of the Constitution gives states — or just state legislatures, according to the independent state legislature theory — the power to determine the ‘manner’ of appointing electors. But Article II also gives Congress, not states, the power to determine the “time” when states must choose electors. That’s why Election Day is set by federal law. So it’s clear as day that, no matter how expansive its powers to set the ‘manner’ of appointing electors under the independent state legislature theory, a state legislature’s attempt to appoint electors after Election Day would violate the Constitution. There are real threats to democracy, and those risks must be addressed immediately. This isn’t one of them.”
“Preparing for Ballot Paper Shortages in 2022 and 2024” [Bipartisan Policy Center]. “Paper is foundational to American election administration. Yes, the paper needed for our beloved “I Voted” stickers—but also the paper that is used to create ballots, ballot envelopes, voter registration forms, and other essential elections collateral. Voter-verified paper ballots, the gold standard of secure elections, typically require high-quality paper types. Ballot materials demand specialized production, intentional delivery, and secure storage. Long-term trends, exacerbated by recent market factors, have put the supply of paper for the midterm elections at risk. Paper orders that once took days or weeks are now taking months. Costs have increased by 40% or more.”
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.
* * *
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Where democracy goes to the highest bidder” [Financial Times]. “Corporations spend billions buying influence, and there are any number of academic studies to show that this pays off (one from 2021 found that a dollar spent on political influence is associated with $20.67 in higher future annual earnings; I could list a dozen others with similar findings). Foreign governments do the same. A few days ago, the National Intelligence Council released a report showing that the United Arab Emirates used corporate donations, political lobbying, grants to universities and other types of spending ($164mn since 2016) to influence US foreign policy over several years. This isn’t a nefarious attempt to leverage disinformation by illegal means. This is a friendly government buying power by legal means. And that is the problem. Corporate political action committees, Citizens United and all sorts of loopholes in our very porous political system have turned Washington into a kind of open-air bazaar for influence purchasing. It pays off, and people know it. I actually got a research report from an investment management firm the other day that put forward an extremely convincing portfolio strategy based on buying companies with underutilised lobbying power. Wow. Just wow. To me, this is a huge issue in a world in which the US is trying to present “values” as its competitive edge against China. Supporting liberal democracy is one thing. But what if democracy is for sale? This was the one terrible truth that Donald Trump embedded in his own welter of lies as president. In what must be the greatest irony of all time, a crooked real estate guy from Queens essentially said to the nation, ‘Hey, you see those politicians and CEOs in the back room? They’ve got the system rigged.’ He then went back and continued playing poker with them, and encouraged everyone else to do the same.” • On Trump: As [makes warding sign] Dave Chapelle just said.
“But Seriously, How Do We Make an Entrepreneurial State?” [American Affairs]. “The book is at its strongest when describing the evolution and transformation of various “innovation bureaucracies” across time and around the world. While digging into historical examples like the original Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, the authors surface certain themes that repeat across case studies: the need for flexible hiring rules, the importance of attracting a nation’s best and brightest into public service, and the significance of overarching ‘missions’ to focus the public sector. A unifying theme discussed throughout the book is the idea of ‘agile stability’ for state bureaucracies: the tension between ensuring stability in the core functions that they provide to the public while also maintaining the flexibility to evolve and add new capabilities over time. Nevertheless, the book is frustrating in its lack of practical detail as to how agencies can embed agility into their functions or how to structurally enable bureaucratic actors to take risks. But the fundamental question is an essential one for our current moment, and the book can help point us in the right direction. So, how does one actually make an entrepreneurial state? There is no single correct model, and in fact, an essential element of entrepreneurship is the ability to correct course and revise plans in real time to accomplish overarching goals. With that in mind, some recent attempts at rebuilding state capacity and fostering agile stability within the U.S. federal government can shed some light on the “how” of making an entrepreneurial state.” • No mention of Operation Warp Speed, oddly. Must be a different flavor of conservative?
Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, though we’ll really have to wait for Thanksgiving travel. However, high transmission (CDC), the elevation and continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens) are all a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). Stay safe out there! (As far as Thanksgiving travel goes, lacking CDC’s “Rapid Riser” counties feature, the best we can do, I think, is follow the news and look at wastewater. I would order risk from highest to lowest at JFK/LGA (New York), LAX (Los Angeles), ATL (Atlanta), and ORD (Chicago). Since New York — as of this writing, and of course all the data is delayed, making personal risk assessment an effort in delusion, but I digress — is a BQ.1* hotbed, I’d try to use EWR (Newark) not JFK/LGA. My $0.02!
• ”A tripledemic hurricane is making landfall. We need masks, not just tent hospitals” [STAT]. I am, perhaps, remiss to track only one pandemic:
A viral hurricane is making landfall on health care systems battered by three pandemic years. With the official start of winter still weeks away, pediatric hospitals are facing crushing caseloads of children sick with RSV and other viral illnesses. Schools that promised a ‘return to normal’ now report widespread absences and even closures from RSV and flu in many parts of the country, contributing to parents missing work in record numbers. With this year’s flu season beginning some six weeks early, the CDC has already declared a flu epidemic as hospitalizations for influenza soared to the highest point in more than a decade.
A storm of these proportions should demand not only crisis clinical measures, but also community prevention efforts. Yet .
Of course. Everything’s going according to plan.
Even before the arrival of the so-called tripledemic, U.S. health systems were on the brink. But as the fall surge of illness threatens to capsize teetering hospitals, the will to deploy public health measures has also collapsed. Pediatricians are declaring ‘This is our March 2020‘ and issuing pleas for help while public health efforts to flatten the curve and reduce transmission rates of Covid-19 — or any infectious disease — have effectively evaporated. Unmanageable patient volumes are seen as inevitable, or billed as the predictable outcome of an ‘immunity debt,’ despite considerable uncertainty surrounding the scientific underpinnings and practical utility of this concept.
The Covid-19 pandemic should have left us better prepared for this moment. It helped the public to understand that respiratory viruses primarily spread through shared indoor air.
CDC may, like the public, “understand” this but (see below) if so their messaging is disinformatilon.
Public health practices to stop the spread of Covid-19 — such as masking, moving activities outdoors, and limiting large gatherings during surges — were incorporated into the daily routines of many Americans. RSV and flu are also much less transmissible than Covid-19, making them easier to control with common-sense public health practices.
Not to worry. Those who can afford world-class care will do fine, just fine.
• “Thousands of public health experts are losing their jobs at a critical time” [CNN]. “As covid-19 raged, roughly 4,000 highly skilled epidemiologists, communication specialists, and public health nurses were hired by a nonprofit tied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to plug the holes at battered public health departments on the front lines. But over the past few months, the majority of the CDC Foundation’s contracts for those public health workers at local and state departments have ended as the group has spent nearly all of its almost $289 million in covid relief funding. The CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the CDC’s work, anticipates that no more than about 800 of its 4,000 hires will ultimately staff those jurisdictions, spokesperson Pierce Nelson said. That has left many local and state health departments facing staffing shortages as the nation eyes a possible winter uptick in covid cases and grapples with the ongoing threat of monkeypox, exploding caseloads of sexually transmitted infections, and other public health issues. The public health workforce in the U.S. has been underfunded for decades — just before the start of the pandemic, only 28% of local health departments had an epidemiologist or statistician, a 2020 Associated Press-KHN investigation found. Then, after the pandemic began, public health officials left in droves as they were lambasted for instituting covid rules, blamed for the economic downturn, and grappled with burnout. And even if funding were available to retain all 4,000 foundation employees, that would not have met public health staffing needs, according to new research in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.” • I don’t understand why public health officials “left in droves.” Surely the Biden administration came vociferously to their defense? (I don’t much like this non-profit, either. Billionaires pulling funding because with a tripledemic we should let ‘er rip?)
• As usual, the sociopaths in the White House continue the vax-only message:
Two years ago, we couldn’t even safely celebrate Thanksgiving with large family gatherings.
Now we can – that’s progress. Let’s keep it going. Get your updated COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot. Go to https://t.co/jlrmakxHWm.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 21, 2022
• As usual, the sociopaths at CDC suppress both aerosols and masking:
Practicing good cough & sneeze etiquette is one way to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like the common cold & #COVID19. Always cough & sneeze into a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, covering your mouth & nose, and wash your hands. More: https://t.co/5YIrJaS9pQ pic.twitter.com/mmKiBtubsp
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 21, 2022
Droplet dogma. Can nothing kill it? (Amazing, too, the subliminal message that the common cold and viruses are comparable.)
Pay no attention to the people coughing on the plane! (And not a word about ventilation, let alone masking.)
• “Stay informed”:
New in @CDCMMWR: Adults perceiving a high level of #COVID19 community transmission are more likely to take preventive actions, but a low percentage perceived local COVID-19 spread accurately. The more people know, the more likely they are to take action: https://t.co/rhcg0swKUV pic.twitter.com/QvkLNXlsgS
— CDC (@CDCgov) November 21, 2022
Bitterly ironic, since the CDC’s “community transmission”data (the “red map,” shown below, not the deceptive “community levels” green map) is obfuscated on the CDC site, so much so that CDC phone support people can’t even find it.
“Health + Long Covid” (PDF) [Department of Health and Human Services]. “With between five and 30% of people developing Long COVID after a COVID-19 infection, this report is a call to act with urgency to design and implement solutions for people with Long COVID. While we may not yet have the science to understand why Long COVID happens, we can act now to create what people with Long COVID want and need to improve their health and live a higher quality of life.”
• Masks and air quality:
#2 Air quality in SF is not great today due to wood burning fires 🔥, inhaling it is like “smoking without the nicotine” says Dr. John Balmes of UCSF. By extension, breathing deep 💨 while outside is not unlike taking deep breath of cigar smoke. (6/9) https://t.co/65tS9CJLhd pic.twitter.com/LmvINll09H
— Devabhaktuni "Sri" Srikrishna (@sri_srikrishna) November 21, 2022
Some context: earlier today a driver in the middle of a 4-way stop sign 🛑 intersection with cars waiting 🚘 🚗🚙🚓 on all sides actually rolled down his window to tell me “you know you don’t have to wear a mask outside” as if he was doing me favor. (2/9)
— Devabhaktuni "Sri" Srikrishna (@sri_srikrishna) November 21, 2022
When did this country become so all-fired officiious. Were we always like this, and I never noticed?
• ”Receptive to an authoritative voice? Experimental evidence on how patronizing language and stressing institutional sources affect public receptivity to nutrition information” [Population Health]. “Importantly, therefore, while our results show that the dominant health-communication strategies do not increase receptivity either, their use will probably not have a negative effect on the general public and so do not need to be discarded.” • Well, that’s a little disappointing.
• A fun thread:
To own the libs
— tern (@1goodtern) November 19, 2022
And it’s more than ten…
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published November 21:
Wastewater data (CDC), November 16:
• Queens County (JFK/LGA) is elevated (orange) again, just in time for holiday travel:
Cook County (ORD) remains elevated.
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), November 6:
Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly, though lower than CDC. XBB present here, not in CDC.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), October 29 (Nowcast off):
BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher:
• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated November 19:
Lambert here: Looks like it’s leveling out, for the moment.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,102,915 –
1,101,843 = 1072 (1072 * 365 = 391,280 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).
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.
Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district edged higher to -9 in November of 2022 from -10 in October which was the lowest reading since May of 2020, but continued to point to softening conditions for manufacturing firms.”
Retail: “How deep of a banking threat is Walmart’s One?” [Banking Dive]. “Walmart’s plans to provide banking services to its 1.6 million U.S. employees and more than 100 million weekly shoppers should make bankers uneasy, said David Donovan, executive vice president of financial services for the Americas at digital consulting company Publicis Sapient…’They don’t need to go acquire customers, they already have them,’ said Donovan, whose company worked to build Goldman Sachs’ consumer bank, Marcus. ‘They just have to roll that service out and make it really easy and simple. It’s like, build it, and they’ll come.’ The cost of acquiring a banking customer is typically between $100 and $200, according to a study by Oliver Wyman. ‘Acquisition costs are a lot. It’s a lot to get a new customer when you’re not an established brand,’ Donovan said. It’s not clear what that cost will be for an entity like Walmart, a household name with an established bricks-and-mortar presence, but all the retailer may need to do to find success in banking is to launch a simple, easy-to-use product, Donovan said.”
Tech: “Cable company’s accidental email to rival discusses plan to block competition” [Ars Technica]. “‘Challenging publicly funded overbuilds is becoming one of the most important tasks we do as a company,’ Cable One Assistant General Counsel Patrick Caron wrote in the email. ‘Overbuild’ is a term cable and telecom companies use to describe what is more commonly known as ‘competition.’ But in the case of East Carroll Parish, the grant was awarded because of evidence that homes in the area are unserved or underserved. US broadband maps are often inaccurate, but the existing data shows East Carroll Parish needs more and better broadband, [Conexon’s Jonathan] Chambers said. ‘My market is the places where nobody’s built networks. I’m not even trying to go into areas that are already served,’ he said. Cable One challenged the East Carroll Parish grant after it was awarded, claiming that Cable One already serves the area where Conexon would build. Cable One lost that initial protest and was chided by the state broadband office for not providing evidence to back up its claims. But the company is appealing, so it isn’t clear when or if Conexon can start installing fiber. he purpose of Caron’s misdirected email was to set up a meeting to discuss similar challenges the company can make in other states. Besides Chambers, the email went to several Cable One executives. ‘We have to get together and determine strategy around Arkansas and Missouri challenges immediately,’ Caron wrote.” • Cable scum. The very last thing broadband in this country is, is “overbuilt.” I hope Cable One gets indicted. And convicted, naturally.
Tech: “GM Dealers Have Been Quietly Repairing Teslas For Over a Year” [Jalopnik (Re Silc)]. “Speaking at GM’s Investor Day 2022, GM President Mark Reuss might have surprised some when he revealed that a small number of GM dealers have been doing repairs on thousands of Teslas for over a year. Since 2021, GM dealers across the country have repaired 11,180 Teslas in total…. This is a big deal for GM as well as Tesla customers. Not only does it give GM a chance to look inside at the intervals of a rival automaker’s product and learn from that, it also gives Tesla customers easier access to service that’s sometimes hard to find. Reuss pointed out in the presentation, more than 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a GM dealership. Because of this, Tesla may be on the offensive. Reuss says that Tesla is now investing millions to build more of its Tesla repair facilities near GM dealerships, likely in a move to try to keep its customers going to Tesla facilities. It’s also a win for Tesla customers because of how crappy Tesla’s own service can be.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 22 at 12:34 PM EST.
Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) It seems that 190 is an important psychological barrier.
— Gustave Doré (@artistdore) November 22, 2022
Batman and The Joker take each other on – in a surfing competition.
Mental. Love it.
— Michael Warburton (@MichaelWarbur17) November 19, 2022
Innocent production values….
“Column: It takes only one to tango? The revolutionary clarity of the ‘Ejaculate Responsibly’ movement” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion’ [is] a modest but extensively footnoted little book that places blame for unwanted pregnancies squarely on men…. [Gabrielle Blair] argument is deceptively simplistic, but it makes sense. If sperm does not meet egg, pregnancy, wanted or unwanted, cannot occur. At this point, writes Blair, ‘men have two options for birth control — condoms and vasectomies. Both are easier, cheaper, more convenient and safer than birth control options for women.'” • Blair is right on the merits. Waiting for the public health campaign on this.
Feral Hog Watch
“Bankman-Fried’s FTX, senior staff, parents bought Bahamas property worth $300 mln” [Reuters]. “The documents for another home with beach access in Old Fort Bay — a gated community that was once home to a British colonial fort built in the 1700s to protect against pirates — show Bankman-Fried’s parents, Stanford University law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, as signatories. The property, one of the documents dated June 15 said, is for use as a ‘vacation home.’ When asked by Reuters why the couple decided to buy a vacation home in the Bahamas and how it was paid for — whether in cash, with a mortgage or by a third party such as FTX — a spokesman for the professors said only that Bankman and Fried had been trying to return the property to FTX. ‘Since before the bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried have been seeking to return the deed to the company and are awaiting further instructions,’ the spokesperson said, declining to elaborate.” • Of course, of cours. I like the “pirate bay” angle. Must have amused Mom and Dad.
A parable of how social capital (“weak ties” being one form) works:
I reached into the console and fished around for my badge. It wasn’t there. My brow furrowed.
Me: “Badge, we are not doing this today.”
My hand swept over my passenger seat as I eked closer to the parking garage. Still no badge. Now I was almost at the entrance.
— Kimberly D. Manning, MD (@gradydoctor) November 20, 2022
Not a bad thing! Although, if you transposed the conversation from professor/parking lot attendant to banker/regulator….
“The Rise of Influencer Capital” [New York Magazine]. “In his 1910 book, Finance Capital, the Austrian-born economist Rudolf Hilferding introduced the idea of “promoter’s profit.” Unlike an industrial capitalist, the promoter harvests their gains not from the sale of a widget at a price above its cost but from the sale of promises — of claims to future profits. Hilferding saw the promoter as being particularly useful for selling stocks, to the benefit of big banks and others that managed those sales, and he predicted that corporate dividends would dwindle as the financiers captured an increasing profit share for themselves. For a promoter, being famous clearly helped…. Convincing people to buy something regardless of its underlying value is the job description of our era’s version of the celebrity spokesperson: the influencer. In “influencer marketing,” firms hire — or, on the lower end, offer freebies to — popular social-media users to post about a product or service…. [I]f being a company founder is about influencing the capital markets more than it is about running a business, then it makes sense to get the most influential founder you can.” • And if the founder is playing League of Legends during his pitch, so much the better!
“Inside an Amazon rocked by news of 10,000 planned layoffs, employees are livid that there has been no official communication from executives” [Business Insider] • Always a hellhole, and not just for the warehouse workers.
Kill it with fire:
— Ulrike Franke (@RikeFranke) November 22, 2022
Gonna be handy for union-busting.
News of the Wired
Tufte’s “power of small multiples“:
Charts to remember
— Plan Maestro (@PlanMaestro) November 20, 2022
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 JJD:
JJD writes: “Amorphophallus bulbifer. A true botanical oddity that produces corms on the leaf veins. Do not plant near a door or window, The inflorescence smells like rotting squirrel.” My heavens! I wonder if one of the platforms would flag this….
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!