By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Gaziantep, Türkiye. Cretzschmar with a “C.” These guys have no logic at all.
“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
“‘Very painful decision’: How Biden chose to bring Griner home and leave Whelan in Russia” [Politico]. “‘Due to the nature of the sham espionage charges Russia levied against Paul [Whelan], the Russians have continued to treat his situation differently from Brittney’s and rejected each and every one of our proposals for his release,’ a senior administration official said. ‘It was a choice between bringing home one particular American, Brittney Griner, or bringing home none.'”
“Public Has Modest Expectations for Washington’s Return to Divided Government” [Pew Research]. Handy chart:
I’m not sure what intense tribalism plus no expectations for success is a recipe for, but I don’t think I’ll like it.
* * *
GA: “Almost $80 million is spent on TV ads for Georgia’s 4-week Senate runoff” [NPR]. Thomas Ferguson teaches us to at look at the money first, so: “There has been a rush of spending on TV ads for the pivotal Georgia U.S. Senate runoff, which is just a shortened four-week campaign. In that period, some $79 million has been poured in to buy airtime. And spending by groups supporting Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock has more than doubled contributions from groups backing Republican challenger Herschel Walker, according to data from the ad-tracking firm AdImpact and analyzed by NPR. Here’s how the TV spending for this runoff breaks down: Pro Warnock: $54 million ($25m campaign, $29m outside groups) Pro Walker: $25 million ($10m campaign, $15m outside groups).” • Of course, if money were the only factor, Amy McGrath would be representing Kentucky in the Senate, not Mitch McConnell. And Hillary Clinton would be President. Nevertheless. And speaking of losers with lots of money from national Democrats–
GA: “Abrams’ aide says Democrat had ‘nearly impossible’ chance to beat Kemp” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “[Lauren] Groh-Wargo, who was Abrams’ campaign manager during her bids for governor both this year and in 2018, said in the series of posts that conservative criticism of Abrams ‘poisoned her image’ while the Democrat ‘leveraged her time, talents and organizations to secure the wins of 2020’ in Georgia and other battleground states. ‘In doing so, she also made the 2022 gubernatorial race against a well-funded incumbent nearly impossible,; wrote Groh-Wargo, who blamed conservatives for driving Abrams’ ‘negatives sky-high’ and accused the media of framing Kemp as a moderate for defying Donald Trump. ‘In November, the white voters who had supported (Abrams’) work in 2018 and 2020 balked at giving her the job of governor because Kemp wasn’t ‘that bad’ and she had been tarnished by the unrelenting assault,’ Groh-Wargo said in the post.” • Commentary:
If you talk to Georgia Dems privately many of them say that Abrams was a bad candidate but few say so publicly. Why is that? One reason could be that national donors gave Abrams and her orgs over $100 million and there aren't any other kingmakers in Georgia.
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) December 8, 2022
Anxious to see Abrams running for President in 2024.
GA: “Scenes from a doomed Senate campaign” [Politico]. “[B]eyond the scandals, the campaign operation was dealing with a clash between staff and Herschel Walker and his wife, Julie, about how to run things. It’s certainly not unusual for a candidate to take interest in the decision-making and provide input or require some level of accountability, but I heard similar stories from various levels of staff about being hamstrung, particularly by her. Everything from comms staffers being berated if they were seen talking to a reporter at a rally, or staff scheduling recommendations being ignored in favor of going to areas where they’d likely see little payoff. There’s no reason to think Herschel and Julie Walker didn’t mean well, but they probably had little-to-no business calling the shots on a major political campaign.” But: “Walker’s campaign schedule was not his undoing. It illustrates some of his strategy missteps as a political novice and provides some insight into his problematic campaign operation. His downfall, as I quoted a person very close to the campaign saying, was that he was unprepared to run for this level of office and made everything more difficult for himself, his staff and other allies by not being forthcoming about what was in his past. And in conversations with those people, many of them truly believe Walker just didn’t understand how closely he would be scrutinized, how brutal campaigns are, and how damning details from his past were going to be brought to light either way.” • Fascinating, too, about “Walker’s personality and genuine interest in staffers and their families made him easy for them to like.” Wasn’t my picture at all (I have priors about football, and football heroes). Not sure Walker can try again…
GA: “Republicans Don’t Know Who To Blame For Herschel Walker’s Loss” [Vanity Fair]. “[I]n his Tuesday runoff against Senator Raphael Warnock, [Walker] delivered a far worse performance than every Republican candidate who ran statewide in Georgia, prompting a cascade of finger-pointing…. When all is said and done, Walker’s loss to Warnock will likely work out to a couple of percentage points––a margin that suggests a more generic, less scandal-scarred Republican might have won the race, just as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted in April. ‘How could [Republicans] screw this up? It’s actually possible,’ he said of the party’s midterm hopes at the time. And now, after witnessing a wave of less-than-stellar performances by the GOP’s inexperienced primary nominees, McConnell’s concerns about poor ‘candidate quality’ appear to have been right on the money.”
GA: “Some Lessons from Herschel Walker’s Campaign Debacle in Georgia” [The New Yorker]. “‘Herschel was like a plane crash into a train wreck that rolled into a dumpster fire,’ the Georgia Republican operative Dan McLagan, who advised one of Walker’s rivals in the G.O.P. primary, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘And an orphanage. Then an animal shelter. You kind of had to watch it squinting between one eye between your fingers.’ A Walker staffer told the same newspaper that his campaign felt like a ‘death march.’ And yet, after all that, with more than ninety-five per cent of the vote counted, Walker has received more than 1.7 million votes, or 48.6 per cent of the total cast. How could so many Georgians have voted for such a flawed candidate? The answer lies in the polarization of the current moment; the Peach State’s demographics; and an attempted rescue mission by a popular Republican governor…. Kemp’s late endorsement helps explain why so many Republicans did turn out for Walker again, but it wasn’t enough to repair the self-inflicted damage he’d already done….. In an environment of hyper-partisanship and all-out political warfare, individual candidates still matter.”
GA: “OnPolitics: How did the GOP lose Georgia? Walker, Trump influence cost Senate seat” [USA Today]. “‘Trump is the big loser,’ pollster Frank Luntz said in the wake of the Republicans’ latest loss in a major political race. ‘One by one, his handpicked candidates for Senate flopped. I can’t remember a time when the environment for Republicans was so good and yet the results were so bad.'”
“Trump hosts Mar-a-Lago event with prominent QAnon, Pizzagate conspiracy theorist” [The Hill]. “Liz Crokin, a former journalist and celebrity gossip writer now associated with far-right conspiracy theories, spoke at a fundraiser intended to combat child trafficking, according to posts on her Telegram account. At the event, Crokin said she discussed Pizzagate, a debunked conspiracy theory suggesting Hillary and Bill Clinton and other political elites run a child sex trafficking ring at a pizza shop in Washington. She also discussed the fashion company Balenciaga, which has recently taken heat for a photo campaign featuring children and plush bears with BDSM accessories. Trump, who last month declared himself a 2024 presidential candidate, made an appearance at the event. ‘You are incredible people and doing unbelievable work,’ he said in a video shared by Crokin. ‘We just appreciate you being here and I hope you’re going to be back.'” • How strange that we’re not seeing any liberal Democrats rushing to Balenciaga’s defense.
“Kevin McCarthy faces debt-limit dilemma as House GOP ratchets up demands amid speaker bid” [CNN]. “House Republicans are plotting tactics for their new majority and weighing how to use their leverage to enact a laundry list of demands, with many zeroing in on an issue with enormous economic implications: Raising the nation’s borrowing limit. aIt’s an issue confronting House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is rounding up the votes to win the House speaker race and facing pressure from some of his colleagues to more forcefully detail how he plans to handle the sensitive topic before they decide whether to support him on January 3 for the most powerful position in Congress. In interviews with CNN, more than two dozen House GOP lawmakers laid out their demands to avoid the nation’s first-ever debt default, ranging from new immigration policies to imposing deep domestic spending cuts. And several Republicans flatly said they would oppose raising the borrowing limit even if all their demands were met, making McCarthy’s narrow path even narrower. ‘I’m a no, no matter what,” Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, said of raising the debt ceiling.” • So Democrats should abolish the debt ceiling. Of course, they won’t. For one thing, they can fundraise off the cuts.
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.
* * *
“Hakeem Jeffries and the Railroad Workers” [Black Agenda Report]. “The Black Agenda Report team is proud to have coined the phrases “Black misleadership class” and “Black political class.” These words cannot be uttered and written too often because they name and shame the people who work alongside the neoliberal and imperialist order in the United States while also pretending to act on behalf of Black people, whose needs are antithetical to those of the oligarchy. Congressional Black Caucus member Hakeem Jeffries is the Black politico of the moment and his rise is a cautionary tale which must be followed closely…. If Biden wanted the railroad workers to have sick days, there was a simple way to go about doing that. He could just sign an executive order. In 2015 Barack Obama signed such an order requiring all federal contractors to provide paid sick time but railroad workers were specifically excluded. All Biden has to do is sign a new one which requires that railroad workers be included in this rule… Jeffries loves the theater as much as the rest of his colleagues. Taking a knee at all the appropriate photo opportunities while serving the interests of police or the Israeli state or railroad barons made him the perfect candidate for a leadership position. Nancy Pelosi’s time was up. A new face was needed, a younger face, and yes a Black one from a big city. Who better to give the impression that change was afoot when it actually wasn’t. Jeffries will be ready the next time his services are needed to crush workers or do something else that the ruling class requires of him. The Black first is all too often a person who is co-opted or who is simply ambitious and knows how to play the game.” • Yep.
Lambert here: Eric Topol has called a winter surge (or “wave”) of Covid. I am but a humble tapewatcher, but I’m reluctant to do so. (Partly because I know my temperament, and I have strong priors. So “I won’t because all of me wants to,” as Sam Spade says.) Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges. Granted, Boston (wastewater) is accelerating New York (hospitalization) is increasing, they are good data, and they could be leading indicators (which is why I chose them). They could also be flashes in the pan. (Perhaps I need to take a rigorous look at wastewater, as for example in San Francisco (charts take forever to load).) So we’ll see. Let’s wait and see what the remainder of the holiday season brings. Reader discussion on this important point is welcome. Nevertheless–
Stay safe out there: High transmission (CDC), the elevation of positivity (Walgreens), the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens), along with increased hospitalization in BQ.1* hotbed New York, plus a wastewater surge in Boston are all more than a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). As one might expect at the beginning of a holiday surge, wastewater in Queens County, NY (JFK/LGA), Cook County, IL (ORD), and Los Angeles County (LAX) continues to be elevated. If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.
• Still in humble tapewatcher mode, let’s assume that wastewater is a good proxy for real case numbers (see next link). Here is Biobot’s chart of wastewater and clinical cases from the beginning of the pandemic:
(NOTE I don’t run Biobot regularly because I don’t like their unexplained backward revisions. But “assume”). If we look only at wastewater (the blue curve) we see would assume that clinical case numbers are now, and have been for some months, more or less at a plateau, and in fact at the same level as every peak before Biden’s climactic, Omicron-driven peak of December 2021, as the grey “Fauci line” shows. And now the curve is rising.
For all the peaks up to March 20, 2022, clinical case numbers and wastewater tracked very closely. Now they no longer do; they have radically diverged. I’d need to dig into why, but I’m not sure it’s home testing, because home test kits were available in 2021. It might be that Administration messaging changed. “Airlines, travel groups ask Biden administration to drop Covid testing before international flights” (CNBC, February 2, 2022). “States Lead the Way to ‘New Normal’ With Biden Administration Mum on Coronavirus Guidance” (US News, February 10, 2021). “The politics of getting to the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic” (NPR, February 17, 2022). “Are we really done with masking?” (CNBC, March 2, 2022). “National Nurses United ‘outraged’ over CDC’s rolled-back mask guidance” (May 17, 2022). Perhaps, in their totality, the administration’s move to “Let ‘er rip” messaging also conveyed to the public that Covid was, indeed, “just a flu.” Hence, no clinical cases. (It’s also expensive and dangerous to get involved with the health care system.)
• ”Citywide wastewater SARS-CoV-2 levels strongly correlated with multiple disease surveillance indicators and outcomes over three COVID-19 waves” [Science of the Total Environment]. From the Abstract: “Here, we present an 86-week long surveillance study that covers three major COVID-19 surges. City-wide SARS-CoV-2 RNA viral loads in wastewater were measured across 39 wastewater treatment plants and compared to other disease metrics for the city of Houston, TX. We show that wastewater levels are strongly correlated with positivity rate, syndromic surveillance rates of COVID-19 visits, and COVID-19-related general bed use rates at hospitals.”
• And still in humble tapewatcher mode, another CDC chart I don’t run regularly because it’s confusing. CDC explains how to read it: “If more area on the chart is shaded light or dark blue, it means virus levels were decreasing at more sites at that point in time. If more area on the chart is shaded red or orange, it means virus levels were increasing at more sites at that point in time”:
(The data is smoothed over 15 days.) At the bottom of the chart, you will notice that the number of sites in red — those with large increases in virus levels — has the kind of accelerating curve I’m concerned about. However, at the top, you will notice a black line dropping precipitously: This is the number of sites sampled. So, just when we need to have the best data, our sample is going bad (thanks, CDC). If you go down to the map in the Wastewater section, you will also see that the large number of sites — grey dots — that are not sending data at all (thanks again), as well as vast swathes of the country in the South, the border states, the plains states, and the mountain states that are not sending data at all (thanks once more).
• ”BC Hasn’t Learned Much from the Pandemic” [The Tyee (C.O.)]. “The COVID-19 Lessons Learned Review, an operational review of the provincial government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was submitted to Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on Sept. 23…. For all its strengths, Lessons Learned has some glaring omissions. Charlie Smith, former editor of the Georgia Straight, posted results on his Substack of a word search he’d done on the Lessons Learned report: not once does it mention terms like ‘airborne,’ ‘brain injury,’ ‘cardiovascular’ and ‘excess mortality.’ ‘Long COVID’ gets one passing mention. Yet we have known for a long time that COVID-19 is an airborne cardiovascular disease that causes brain injury and other effects in people who contract even “mild” cases. (I might add that the report, like the government, uses “restrictions,” a pejorative term, when “protections” would have been more accurate.)” • One more for Bonnie Henry’s dossier. (I keep making jokes about the Hague Tribunal, but I wonder if there’s really a theory of the case.)
•ª ”Jenna Ortega Had COVID While Filming Her Iconic Wednesday Dance Scene” [Teen Vogue]. “Understandably, the revelation has shocked many viewers, who have voiced their criticisms online.” • Good. A little crack in the wall of propaganda. It’s not impossible.
Masking up is a risk/benefit calculation. If you’re young, healthy, up-to-date on your vaccinations and you're not worried about long Covid, it may be reasonable to unmask. But if you're medically vulnerable or around people who are, or worried, you might want to adjust. 2/
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) December 6, 2022
This pyscho has no concept that risk to others might enter into his calculation. From his bio, Frieden is — as one might expect — a “Former @CDCgov director and @nycHealthy commissioner.” And the kicker: “Focused on saving lives.” Well, no. The rot in the (hegemonic) PMC goes very, very deep.
• “A bug I just can’t shake”:
professional biologist colleague, re the ongoing sickness of her own child (when i also asked about strep wave tbf somewhat)
"It's because of the ['immune defecit'] with the lockdowns"..
I did ask has your dr said any of that, or just the politicians?
"just.. people say" ..
— Gregor Rayne EUW (@GregorRayneEUW) December 7, 2022
Mental laziness as a form of denial?
“Why We’re All Forgetting Things Right Now” [Wall Street Journal]. From April, still germane. “We’re living in yet another moment of big change as we return to offices, create new routines and find our footing in yet another new normal. (And don’t forget a scary war in Europe on top of that.) All this change consumes cognitive energy, often much more than we think, neuroscientists say. It’s no wonder we can’t remember what we had for breakfast. Our minds are struggling with transition moments…. The chronic and cumulative stress of the past two years has taken its toll, too…. The deluge of information coming at us on multiple channels is cluttering our brains, too…. Then there’s the sameness of our lives during the pandemic. How are we supposed to remember a specific event when each day was exactly the same as every other?” • Absolutely no mention of neurological damage from Covid, even from mild cases, and especially from repeated infections. ‘Tis a puzzlement!
Lambert here: The powers-that-be don’t even see transmission as a problem, obviously. But you might!
• “L.A. County facing a full-blown coronavirus surge as cases double, deaths rise” [Los Angeles Times]. “Los Angeles County appears in the midst of another full-blown coronavirus surge, with cases doubling since Thanksgiving. The spike — which partially captures but likely does not fully reflect exposures over the Thanksgiving holiday — is prompting increasingly urgent calls for residents to get up to date on their vaccines and consider taking other preventive steps to stymie viral transmission and severe illness. Also on the rise is the number of coronavirus-positive patients being cared for in hospitals, sparking concerns about renewed stress on the region’s healthcare system and raising the specter of an indoor public mask mandate if the trends continue, possibly shortly after New Year’s Day.” • Why on earth is an “indoor public mask mandate” a “spectre”? What’s wrong with these people? (Meanwhile, I’ve been yelling about LAX wastewater for awhile; here’s confirmation.)
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published December 5:
0.9%. Distinct slackening (remember, this data is smoothed). Then again, as the grey Fauci Line shows, we are at the same level today as we were in the last peak (except of course this time the pandemic is “over”).
Wastewater data (CDC), December 4:
JFK/LGA, Queens County is still red; ORD, Cook County is orange; LAX, Los Angeles County now red. I would bet that speckling of red in Utah is sky country. Stay safe when travelling.
And MWRA data, December 5:
Lambert here: Decreasing.
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 19:
Lambert here: BQ.1* dominating. XBB coming up on the outside.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), November 12 (Nowcast off):
BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. Note the appearance of XBB, and see the highlighted note: Like BQ.1*, XBB appears suddenly when CDC decides to disaggregate the data. Exactly as with CDC’s infamous “green map,” a lag is introduced, this time by CDC’s decision-making process; Walgreens had XBB last week, but CDC has it only this week. I don’t see what purpose the aggregation serves. If the issue is a jillion low-circulation variants would make the table impossibly long and confusing for users, that’s a UI/UX issue; handle it with software. Have a slider/filter that aggregates variants under 1%, say. Allow scrolling the results. Whatever. But stop concealing data!
New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher. BQ.1.* is dominating:
• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 6:
Lambert here: I see a continuing increase, but not acceleration.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,108,815 –
1,107,794 = 1021 (1021 * 365 = 372,665 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.
Retail: “How to Take the Friction Out of Commerce | Case Study” [Business of Fashion]. “In physical stores, retailers in the US alone collectively lose more than $30 billion annually due to long queues, according to a 2018 estimate by Adyen, a financial technology platform. Online, the problems are even more pronounced. Baymard Institute, which conducts research on the user experience (UX) of e-commerce sites, estimates that online retailers in the US and EU lose around $260 billion in orders due to their checkout flow and design. And Baymard is not the only one to put a billion-dollar price tag on the problem. Coresight Research, an advisory firm specialising in retail and technology, recently found that US online retailers are losing between $111 billion and $136 billion in sales due to a less-than-optimal checkout. Part of the issue stems from brands and retailers failing to optimise for shifting shopping behaviours. Even before pandemic lockdown restrictions drove e-commerce’s phenomenal growth, consumer patterns were already clear. Now, for example, a good deal of shopping takes place during gaps in the day, when people are between tasks and browsing on their phones or laptops. Would-be customers can easily be interrupted by emails, phone messages or their physical environment and can become frustrated with having to fill out too many fields or create an account to make a purchase. The good news is that even small improvements in measures like conversion rates and average order values can have a meaningful impact when multiplied across thousands or millions of customers. To succeed, retailers are turning to tools and services that help them smooth the path to purchase.”
Tech: “Texas becomes latest state to ban TikTok on government devices” [Axios]. “A growing number of GOP-led states are barring state employees and contractors from using TikTok on government-issued devices as the FBI warns of possible threats to national security posed by the Chinese-owned social media platform. Texas became the latest to do so on Wednesday, joining South Dakota, South Carolina and Maryland, all of which banned the app on government devices in the past week. Wisconsin Republicans are urging their Democratic governor to do the same. ‘[U]nder China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, all businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work including data sharing, and TikTok’s algorithm has already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party,’ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to state officials Wednesday.” • Because kids these days, all they care about is the Yellow Peril.
Tech: “Pentagon splits $9bn cloud computing contract among tech giants” [Financial Times]. “Amazon had accused Trump of putting pressure on the Pentagon to “screw” its founder, Jeff Bezos, and award the contract to its rival because of the former president’s personal animus. Oracle had claimed the single-vendor contract was unfair, while Google had withdrawn its bid in 2018 following a staff outcry for working with the DoD.” • “Tell your friends I don’t want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak. Don’t be afraid to tell them!” –Don Fanucci, Godfather II.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 1:37 PM EST.
Xmas Pregame Festivities
“110 Unique Merry Christmas Wishes to Write in a Card” [Good Housekeeping]. • Feed this to ChatGPT.
“Searching for Saul Leiter” [FlakPhoto]. “I was late to the game in terms of Leiter. My first experience with his work was in 2006 when Lisa Hostetler staged an exhibition of his color photography at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Leiter’s winter picture was in the press kit, and I was immediately hooked. I loved its painterly qualities and how it looked like a dream. I come back to this picture often and only recently noticed that Saul appears to have wiped some of the condensation from the window before making the image. Talk about seeing!” • Many images from Leiter, and resources.
Our Famously Free Press
The idea that Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia maintained by a decentralized network of millions of volunteers around the world, is mostly a myth.
— professional hog groomer (@bidetmarxman) December 7, 2022
It’s thus unsurprising that Wikipedia’s guide to source trustworthiness gives full grades to NED cutouts like Bellingcat and RFA, but deems independent journalism critical of US empire, like Venezuelanalysis, Telesur, The Electronic Intifada, and The Grayzone as untrustworthy. pic.twitter.com/ozugCwcAiZ
— professional hog groomer (@bidetmarxman) December 7, 2022
“Limits of ‘Fauci effect’: infectious disease applicants plummet, and hospitals are scrambling” [STAT]. “The lack of doctors entering ID fellowships — and the ensuing shortage of these specialists — has been a concern for years, with experts pointing to the comparatively low earnings these physicians make as a major disincentive for doctors considering which field to enter. But this year’s numbers marked a backslide. Fully a quarter of available positions went unfilled. Among the fellowship programs, 44% didn’t fill their slots, according to data from the National Resident Matching Program. ‘You can’t sugarcoat it, can you?’ said Lisa Chirch, the ID fellowship director at UConn Health.” • Hard work, lower pay, and (speculating freely) promotion blocked by reactionary mossback droplet goons. Who needs it?
“Axios Finish Line: Rise of kinless older Americans” [Axios]. “There’s a growing population of seniors who are aging alone — without any close family around them. There are nearly a million Americans over the age of 55 living without a spouse or a partner, any children or siblings. That’s because boomers have lower marriage rates than their parents did, and more of them have remained childless. On top of that, the divorce rate among couples who have crossed 50 has risen Rates of kinlessness are projected to grow as generations younger than boomers are even likelier to be aging alone. Kinless older folks are less likely to participate in community groups, sports or religious organizations — activities that stimulate the body and the brain. And they’re less likely to receive the care and help around the home that they need. As a result, kinless older adults die sooner.”
“The People Cheering For Humanity’s End” [The Atlantic]. “From Silicon Valley boardrooms to rural communes to academic philosophy departments, a seemingly inconceivable idea is being seriously discussed: that the end of humanity’s reign on Earth is imminent, and that we should welcome it. The revolt against humanity is still new enough to appear outlandish, but it has already spread beyond the fringes of the intellectual world, and in the coming years and decades it has the potential to transform politics and society in profound ways…. The first is Anthropocene anti-humanism, inspired by revulsion at humanity’s destruction of the natural environment…. Transhumanism, by contrast, glorifies some of the very things that anti-humanism decries—scientific and technological progress, the supremacy of reason. But it believes that the only way forward for humanity is to create new forms of intelligent life that will no longer be Homo sapiens.” • I don’t use the phrase “death cult” that often, but perhaps I should start. The exact perspective we should expect from The Atlantic: “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” –Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
Speaking of death cults:
Angry birds miniature golf course and attached bakery pic.twitter.com/0Wtt6TUZpq
— @lonestar on cohost (@LonestarTallBoi) December 7, 2022
“Exclusive: Delta offers pilots hefty pay raises as unions flex bargaining power” [Reuters]. “Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) has offered a 34% cumulative pay increase to its pilots over three years in a new contract, demonstrating the bargaining power aviators are enjoying in a short-staffed industry with booming travel demand.” • Travel demand and business travellers.
Real scarcity in the Congo:
There isn't enough food for everyone, according to 54-year-old Pelagie Ngayabaseka. She spoke as scores of young children gathered around her and surrounded her, saying, "If you don't have the strength to fight, you won't get anything."
— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) December 8, 2022
Here, the scarcity is artificial. The desired results are the same.
“Research Letter: Association between long COVID symptoms and employment status” (preprint) [medRxiv]. n = 15,307. “: Long COVID was associated with a greater likelihood of unemployment and lesser likelihood of working full time in adjusted models. Presence of cognitive symptoms was associated with diminished likelihood of working full time.”
A full Socialist social calendar, circa 1913: a Thanksgiving party, sandwiched between dance lessons and a party for the Northside left-wing baseball team (the Reds, of course). pic.twitter.com/82GiHoaUX3
— Red Pittsburgh (@redpghblog) November 24, 2022
News of the Wired
“Driver Trapped for More Than 300 Miles on Highway After Cruise Control Breaks” [The Drive]. • Great metaphor.
“This American diet could add 10 years to your life” [National Geographic]. “There is another American diet, one that could actually increase your life expectancy by up to 10 years and, in some cases, reverse disease. It’s not a fad diet invented by a South Beach doctor, a paleo diet marketer, or a social media influencer. This diet was developed by ordinary Americans, is widely affordable, is sustainable, and has a lower carbon footprint than a meat-heavy diet. Most important, it is hearty and delicious, developed over centuries by fusing flavors from the Old and New Worlds in ingenious and uniquely American ways…. We start in New England, looking at the traditional foods of the Wampanoag Native Americans…. Though the Wampanoag hunted game and collected mussels and oysters, 70 percent of their diet came from plant sources…. Chinese American women living in Hawaii enjoy about 90 years of life expectancy, and the diet of Chinese Americans living there supports such longevity. (Want to live longer? Influence your genes.) Since Southeast Asians began arriving in Hawaii over 170 years ago as agricultural workers, each ethnic group has introduced its own flavors and ingredients. The Chinese brought leafy cabbage, soybean products, and teas. The Japanese, miso and their own version of tofu. The Filipinos, tender tips of many plants such as squash and pumpkin. This melding of foods and cooking techniques has made Hawaii the place to experience Asian fusion cuisine that’s primarily plant based…. African Americans living in the Deep South have a long tradition of eating blue-zones-type foods. What began as a largely plant-based West African diet morphed with local Native American and European influences to produce a unique and vividly delicious cuisine. Dietary surveys going back to the 1890s indicate that most foods eaten by southern African Americans were vegetables and grains. Aside from salt pork added for flavor, animal products played a minor role.” • “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” –Michael Pollan.
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 EM:
EM writes: “Here we have Mushrooms growing together with Raspberries and Strawberries. You can see the mychrozial network if you look closely. It’s a Lion King-esque circle of life.”
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!