2:00PM Water Cooler 12/5/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I am finishing up a post about a fascist photographer, and so must give you short rations today. I will return in full force tomorrow! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Snow Bunting, North Slope, Alaska, United States. “A male singing, responding another male on the background.”

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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 MB:

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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. Jason Boxman

    Great news on XBB1 and XBB1.5! We’re up to 9% on “SARSCoV2 Variant Dashboard – USA”. This year’s Winter of Death is brought to you by Team Democrat!

    1. Louis Fyne

      I had a bout of Covid over Thanksgiving (per a positive home test).

      It was benign (but I’m not in a high-risk group)—So benign that I can easily imagine real covid rates are 3x – 4x current rates as people aren’t getting tested or reporting positive home tests.

      $100 billion for Ukraine, $0 for free covid testing.

  2. Roger Blakely

    Dr. Michael Osterholm’s latest biweekly COVID-19 podcast is up on YouTube. We’ve been waiting since Thursday. This podcast is so good that it was worth the wait.

    This week he gives the best answers available to these questions:

    Is the pandemic over?
    What will happen in China?
    Are we really in a triple-demic?
    Is 2022 really special when it comes to infection rates of RSV and flu?
    What are BQ.1 and XBB going to do?
    Are we at the beginning of a new global wave?
    Are surgical masks really just as effective as N95s?

    1. ChiGal

      I listen to podcasts on Stitcher and fyi it came out as usual last Thursday, no wait. Also you can go to the CIDRAP website and click a link to listen to it…why give Google your business?

    2. Lee

      Thanks. I don’t know how I missed Osterholm during these years of Covid. Will definitely become a regular.

  3. Samuel Conner

    A possible “news you can use” item for would-be herb gardeners and edible landscaping enthusiasts.

    Nearly all of my cold-hardy Arp Rosemary cuttings perished before rooting, and that variety does not seem to be available as seed (or maybe, as suggested by an NC commenter, its seed does not grow true to type).

    There is a reputable seed seller that offers a Rosemary seed that produces plants claimed to be cold hardy to Zone 6. Here is the product:


    These seeds have been pre-treated to increase their germination rate. The claimed rate is 80%, and this comports with a test germination I recently did. The plants are now about 1/2 inch high. I’ll grow them under lights until late Winter, when it may be possible to set them outside.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Territorial are my go-to seed people.
        and a bunch of odd-ball seed folks that i’d hafta get up and go look at in the office to remember their names.
        when i’m up and running again, i’ll get back to my OCD seedsaving ways.
        and, Sam…rosemary is a bitch to root out, unless you find an already rooted branch.
        in fact, that’s the way to do it: weight a branch down until it contacts the dirt, and put more dirt on that spot.
        come back in a year, and cut off the stem to the mommaplant.
        of all the myriad plants i make rooted cuttings from, rosemary is the hardest.
        splitting the rootball might work better, too…but i haven’t had the time.
        that’s how i do Thyme, oregano and marjoram, etc.

        and, btw…take any of those resinous herbs…even Hyssop….roll up a leaf, and shove it yer nostril…alternating…and breathe in through it.
        knocks out a sinus infection if caught in time.
        likely efficacious for all manner of nasally introduced pathogens.
        rosemary, sage and basil are my faves for this.(and basil leaves rubbed on acne knocks it back pretty well, too)

        (not medical advice…rather Hill Person Advice,lol)

        1. hunkerdown

          amfortas, re: your stolon property, aloe vera gel, fresh from the plant, is a mild but useful rooting compound. So is willow tea or aspirin. Try ’em if you have any around the microstate.

    1. Mangelwurtzel

      We planted 100 ‘Arp’ rosemary plants this spring that were started for us by a local organic greenhouse operation, cuttings or seed I know not. They grew quite well in no-till beds fertilized with hen and goat manure, we harvested them for one of our farm products leaving 4″-6″ stubs, and now are preparing to deep mulch the stubbed plants to see if they will successfully overwinter. We are zone 6 by the Connecticut River on the pure, deeps sands of former Glacial Lake Hitchcock. We have seen -18 in the past decade, but not nearly as cold in recent years. Fingers crossed!

  4. McWatt

    Flu ravaging Chicago area. We’ve had it and we mask and had our flu shots in early October.
    We have had family members get it twice in the past three weeks.

    1. Louis Fyne

      —We have had family members get it twice in the past three weeks.—

      Did they take a covid test? Entirely possible that they got Covid and vanilla flu in that span.

      1. Joe Renter

        Defiantly an up-swing in Las Vegas for the last month. More masking. Like many observations here, “I got the flu”, but no testing. The new norm. Let’s give the fail a big round of applause.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          here, too…central texas hill country middle of nowhere.
          (because we insist on doing the big family/religious holidays in flu/etc season)
          my youngest(16) got all snotty and glassy eyed yesterday.
          coughed last night…mucinex and the vitimin cocktail.
          then local clinic today.
          everyone stays in the parking lot, now…they come out to the car, stick swabs in mouth and nose…test for rsv, covid, flu and strep.
          my son has Type A Influenza…so Tamiflu…
          and quarantine in his room since i first noticed glassey eyes.
          ive got prophylactic tamiflu at the pharmacy.
          (shits expensive)
          and im doing the vitamin cocktail as per usual.
          and zicam nasal spray.
          (zinc up the narise)
          nurse practitioner at clinic, and school nurse, both tell me theres a few covid cases at school…but lots and lots of flu…and lots of rsv in elementary.
          my own dr in fredricksburg reports more covid that we have, but also mainly flu.
          rsv in the little ones has him worried…never seen it this bad.
          warm today and manana, so windows open and fans on.
          especially in his room…which is a good 60 feet from my bed, in the Boy’s Wing, which is sequestered, sort of, from the rest of the house.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Call me crazy, but we’ve recently accumulated quite a bit of wisdom about airborne respiratory illnesses, like masking, social distancing, outdoor air, HEPA filters, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, and various nasal sprays.

            Which is why it’s so great to see the public health authorities [hollow laughter]… Oh, what’s the use….

  5. griffen

    The story linked previously today, about the apparent attacks on the substations in Moore County, NC. To my mind, this is more than just maybe some yahoo types having a go because of a drag show, but I am still surfing the interwebs for recent updates.

    I know the angle above will get some eyeballs, and supposedly the local enforcement there made a visit to a known rabble rouser per the postings on FB. I believe in the more rural counties of the southern US, there is plenty of saber rattling from any of the usual or more customary suspects. Anyone remember Eric Rudolph, from back in the day for example ?

    As usual, I reserve the right and ability to be proven wrong. Meanwhile, the indigent and elderly and poor of Moore County will have an enjoyable week in a local shelter.

    1. Carolinian

      Call it intuition more than evidence but in my view rural NC is way more conservative than rural SC. When we had flag protests in Columbia the Klan group came down from North Carolina.

      Charlotte, the research triangle and hipster Asheville balance things out a bit more electorally.

      So I find the drag story explanation at least credible. They knew what to destroy so ex employees might be the first to question.

    1. LaRuse

      Very interesting that thrush is called out in that thread. My husband has had thrush twice in the past year (COVID rolled through the household back at the end of July, so in between his infections…). We had been attributing it to his very out of date CPAP machine that insurance is balking at replacing . CPAP may still have a role, but I am now thinking that his COVID infection is the reason he can’t fight off the infections the way he used to. But I wonder if the vaccines cause a hit to the immune system too? He’s up to 6 shots now I think, and both bouts of thrush followed a booster by about 10-14 days.

  6. fresno dan

    I posted the below this morning rather late, but I just have to put in my 2 cents about Twitter.

    Construct Tweet: [Say formerly respected or once great, etc.] Matt Taibbi [call it PR or comms or like that] for the [world’s richest man, the richest person in the world, so on]. Quote tweet thread.
    Wajahat Ali @WajahatAli
    Matt Taibbi…what sad, disgraceful downfall. I swear, kids, he did good work back in the day. Should be a cautionary tale for everyone. Selling your soul for the richest white nationalist on Earth. Well, he’ll eat well for the rest of his life I guess. But is it worth it?
    you can read the 27 tweets that are essentially identical (i.e., Taibbi’s fall from grace working for the world’s richest man) and it sure seems to show group think and an agenda. The example above adds white nationalist.
    Now, maybe my memory is off, but I do not recall in the last 40 years a particular billionaire being so villified by so many media types in a unified uniform attack i.e., richest man. Am I wrong – has there been a billionaire that has faced so much opprobrium from the MSM in the last 40 years for a particular action ? When was the last time in the press the term “richest man” used to disparage someone??? What was the last time working for a billionaire was asserted by the media as being something to be ashamed of??? (considering all these media hacks all work directly or indirectly for billionaires a good case of pots and kettles…)
    And the irony goes beyond burning, its like maximum h*llfire. The friendly attitude toward billionaires aka entrepeneurs, in the mainstream media, with no examples I can think of that even approach 10% of the vitriol shown to Musk.
    It really is amazing to me how modern media has taken on all the trappings of the The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

    1. griffen

      I get to Chris Hayes and had to or should have stopped. Volumes of this are surely around, I bet. And as for carrying water, well those carrying water for a MIC complex gone wild is certainly a valid question to pose back into the void. Vomit worthy. For shame what amounts to our “media” and “journalists”…as for your richest man inquiry, Mayor Bloomberg perhaps or Howard Schultz (Starbucks founder, et al) ?

      Or in the way way back days…Bill Gates ? You know, just for copying ideas and taking someone else’s work on DOS…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > 27 tweets that are essentially identical

      Back in the day, we used to joke about fax machines whirring, all at the same time.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a slack channel, and I also wouldn’t be surprised if Biden operatives and the intelligence community were on it.

      Totally, 100% non-organic.

    3. Mikel

      “PR for the world’s richest man”…

      I posted something about that yesterday, but I didn’t add this:

      It’s exactly the kind of blue check propaganda that is being talked about with regards to the release of Twitter emails/H Biden story.

      But there’s too much Covid brain fog from re-infections in the PMC (they probably still think there is a such thing as “herd immunity” with the coronavirus and non-sterilizing vaccines) to understand that people will make that connection.

  7. Pelham

    Re the Musk/Taibbi/Twitter saga: Scurrying through the news this morning I ran across a mainstream account offering what was supposed to be a view-from-30,000-feet on the story that, in the process, characterized the disclosures as nothing more than internal memos detailing how Twitter execs debated what to do with the Hunter Biden laptop disclosures. Period.

    Of course, they left out the salient part, that the Twitter execs were responding to federal authorities trying to suppress the news ahead of the election. Curious that they’d do that, wouldn’t you say? I hope Taibbi responds by furiously hitting that particular nail on the head in followups until others are compelled to respond rather than obscure.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’s worth reading the comments attached to that article. Lots of butt hurt that Russia is still able to make missiles and resentment and who might be making this possible. No awareness either that what Russia is doing in the Ukraine is a reflection of what the US/NATO has done in other countries.

      1. marku52

        Comments: there is a lot of clueless in there. Also a ton of projection. At this point, anything the west complains about is something that the west has already done in spades.

        “Putin is targeting civilian infrastructure, that’s a war crime” One the west already did and bragged about it in Serbia.

        OTOH, does that fact that this made print mean that the US gov is beginning to admit defeat?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I thought that she was in the UAE. You think that she is trying to pay for her coffee with bitcoin? And I don’t see any handcuffs on her.

      1. ambrit

        Virtual handcuffs?
        “But your honour! We had her blockchain key! How she could have escaped custody is a mystery!”
        At least there is her bail money. Wait. You can’t be serious. Someone let her post an NFT as bail?
        Ye Plot thickens.
        Exeunt stage left.

  8. C.O.

    On the covid front here in BC, Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix have reverted to claiming that the only adults really get covid, kids have to worry about influenza-A, and there’s a vax for that.


    Health officials urge parents to have children vaccinated amid ‘dramatic increase’ in flu cases

    Oh, and it turns out that BC has assessed its pandemic response, and after declaring that an independent survey finding fault with it could not possibly be representative because it was online and it was different from the other surveys that they liked:


    B.C.’s COVID response praised for ‘nimbleness’; survey found fault

    Oh, and that lagging indicator, patients in ICU is the highest it has been in about four months:


    B.C.’s COVID-19 ICU patient count hits 16-week high

    Masking levels are leaping up in the businesses and on transit where I live, except oddly enough, most people working at the till – I find myself taking that as a proxy for poor ventilation in the store or business and spend minimal time inside. People look exhausted.

      1. C.O.

        I keep forgetting to thank you for maintaining the Bonnie Henry watch as part of your overall yeoman’s work on covering th covid pandemic, so hopefully my reassurance that I have been very thankful and do thank you very much for it are good start in correcting that! (Also looking at topping up the Water Cooler fund as some more practical thanks!)

        The Bonnie Henry-BC GBD implementation makes me so furious that being able to do something constructive by helping document the mess at least helps curb the urge to throw things. Throwing things is gratifying but not so constructive, unfortunately.

    1. Wukchumni

      The adoration of relics of famous people is something to behold.

      I knew a fellow who was really into the Who and Keith Moon in particular, to the point of paying $17k for a drum skin that the Moon man pounded on, and I remember looking at it professionally framed and splayed out not unlike a leopard skin or something, on his wall.

      It struck me as pure folly, the chase. I nodded with mock wonder upon seeing it-which made my friend practically beam with delight.

      1. C.O.

        In the days before the second hand book market was wrecked by pandemic and fuel prices, I got very lucky in one of my purchases. Landed an autographed copy of a non-fiction book by one of my favourite authors, one which was not included under the pricily marked specials elsewhere on the site – Book Depository before Bezos bought it. Obviously the author is not somebody like Rachel Carson or Ursula K. Le Guin, and I reread the book, it isn’t hermetically sealed off from the other books in my house. A lot of what is wonderful in that case is simply that it was a delightful surprise. But overall, I seem to have lost the fannish mindset that allowed me to collect everything I could get my hands on of stuff from bands or sports teams I liked and put it all up in places of honour. Not sure why that is true when some of my friends continue their commitment to collecting signed hockey sweaters and others giving in to the temptation to bid in the local silent auction for a painting and master album from a not quite faded away 1960s-1980s singer or band.

  9. Wukchumni

    For the benefit of money hiding
    There will be a bubbly time on financial trampoline

    The Winklevoss will both be there
    Late of being owed $900 million by Genesis cupboard being bare

    Over reason and value, hype and doubters
    Lastly through in lieu of real F.I.R.E.!
    In this way cryptocurrency will challenge the world!

    The celebrated money charade
    Performs the feat online at this date

    The investors will dance and sing
    As 0’s & 1’s fly through the cloud-don’t be late

    Cryptocaves assure the public
    Their mining production is second to none
    And of course Satoshi Nakomoto dances the waltz!

    The price began at a few bucks-5 or 6
    When Mr. Nakomoto performed his tricks without a sound

    And then the market will demonstrate
    Ten martingales it’ll undertake to confound & astound!

    Having been some years in preparation
    A bubble time is guaranteed for all
    And for now Bitcoin is an invisible thrill


    1. Wukchumni

      Because FTX is based offshore in the Bahamas, most of its customers come from Europe, Asia and well-known tax havens like the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands. Only 2 percent of its customers are in the United States, where they trade through FTX US, a subsidiary, according to its bankruptcy filings.

      Perhaps this is why US authorities haven’t been johnny on the spot in prosecuting Sam the sham. it was almost all foreigners who ended up holding the virtual bag.

      1. Yves Smith

        Dollar value could diverge considerably from customer numbers.

        And 5% are unknown, 11% are Virgin Islands, and 22% Caymans. Caymans is certain to be funds so ultimate owners likely to be in US (Caymans is our tax haven; Isle of Man, Gurnsey, Bahamas are the UK tax havens). 11% Virgin Islands also looks like a waystop for parties ultimately domiciled elsewhere and again most likely US.


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