Announcing 2023 Water Cooler Fundraiser!

Dear Reader,

If you are pressed temporally, this is Water Cooler’s yearly fundraiser: My goal is 🌡️ 375 donors, and you can help out by becoming one of them and clicking here, which will take you to the Donate button immediately. If you can give a lot, give a lot. If you can only give a little, give a little; every little bit helps! Otherwise, if you wish to follow my disjointed musings on how 2023 shaped Water Cooler, and how I tried to shape Water Cooler to help you — or if you only want to spot the typosMR SUBLIMINAL I read it twice, I swear! read on!

Stress Relievers

2023 was a hell of a year. Naked Capitalism has always provided stress relievers in the form of cute animals in Links; Water Cooler extends this principle in several ways. Thanks to your own personal contributions, Water Cooler features a daily stress reliever in the form of a plant; but this feature has branched out to provide stress-relieving projects, whether of milkweeds, metal sculptures, or balcony plantings of tomatoes and herbs. (You know who you are, but I don’t want to give names, because I cannot name everyone who helped out; there are too many.) I know how helpful readers find the daily plant because I am told immediately when I space out due to an over-hasty production cycle, and forget to include one!

Water Cooler also begins with a daily bird song (much in the style of the late Robert J. Lurtsema, who always began his Morning Pro Musica radio show that way). When I write Water Cooler, I start at the top, so my second task of the day — the first being coffee — is to go to the Macauley Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, click through the bird catalog, and listen until I find a beautiful song. That is a very pleasant way for me to initiate my workflow, and I know from your comments that you enjoy hearing from our little modern-day dinosaurs: the thrushes, the wrens, the larks, the potoos. It’s amazing the memories a pre- or post-rain robin’s song will refresh.

Finally, we know Because Science that art museums are stress reducers (reducing, for example, cortisol levels, at least according to some). I didn’t expect the “Gallery” feature to amount to much, but as it turns out, many of you are serious about ways of seeing painting and photography, and have insights to share with all of us. I just went on the Twitter to see if Elon Musk has business-modeled my main source of new art, artbots, out of existence, but apparently not. Here is a very peaceful and de-stressing painting:

At this point, you may be saying that the blogger doth de-stress too much — but if not, now is a good time to donate here — so let me move along to how Water Cooler handled the stressors of this our timeline, the stupidest ever.

Covid Coverage

Covid, covid, covid. Let me begin by thanking all the Water Cooler readers who helped each other out by providing links to Covid dashboards and wastewater sites for all 50 U.S. states and Canada. This is a uniquely excellent service provided by your actions, collectively. Look for the helpers!

Water Cooler’s Covid coverage has three aspects: First, and most importantly, my goal is to help you avoid becoming infected with a very bad and lethal airborne pathogen, and to help you help others avoid this as well. Hence, I cover as many aspects of the layered protection (“Swiss Cheese”) strategy as I can, especially non-pharmaceutical interventions (masking; ventilation; Corsi-Rosenthal boxes), and non-vax treatments (sprays, mostly), and non-muscular injection vaccines that provide some hope of sterilizing immunity. Naturally, I cover the various medical aspects of Covid’s badness as well, especially Long Covid [makes warding sign].

Second, I try to advance our collective understanding of Covid as a cultural phenomenon: Why is masking not universal? Why do medical facilities, of all places, not mask or mask carelessly? What do “mild” and “living with Covid” mean in practice, who buys into such framing, and why? When you are in social situations where such conflicts come up, what to do? (Some readers share masks; that’s very helpful.)

You can see already that this has been a lot of work. If you feel Water Cooler has helped you “live with” — better yet, live without! — Covid, then you can help Water Cooler by donating here.

Third, I cover — and there just isn’t a comfortable way to think about this; people do tend to avert their eyes — the aspects of Covid that come under the heading of political economy; how Davos Man understands perfectly well that #CovidIsAirborne, as do their tools like Walensky and Jha, but wish to keep everyone else in the dark, or rather breathing shared air; how the “labor market” of “essential workers” is affected; and how some of the “exceptional” members of the PMC, particularly in the aerosol community, are working to empower us all to breathe uninfected air and stay healthy. Understanding Covid’s political economy is helpful in the sense that it’s useful to know “where the puck will go,” so you can skate there, as opposed to skating to where the puck is right now. (Here I’m thinking of decisions having to do with location: Travel, school, workplace, home place. If Covid is going to be around for a long time, then it makes sense to take Covid’s future course and likely policy decisions into account.) Further, if we are ever to hold the “leaders” who collectively caused a million Covid deaths and life expectancy to drop two years, we need to be able to build a case, ideally at the Hague Tribunal or in a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Political economy can build that case.

I forgot. Fourth. Covid data. I still manage, despite all the obstacles placed in my way by the powers that be, who wish to shut Covid data gathering down, to publish daily charts that show where the pandemic is heading; at the very least, that we are on a high plateau, and Covid is not “over” by any stretch of the imagination, not even the imagination of one of those Sociopath of the Day.

This is a lot of work (and so far as I can tell, very few others are doing it, certainly not in the mainstream). If you have found Water Cooler helpful, you can “pay it backward” — this fundraiser compensates me for the labor I have done over the last year — by clicking here.

Water Cooler, fortunately for us all, is not all Covid, even if it may sometimes have seemed so. Assuming Covid continues to plateau, I shoudl be able to devote more time in the coming year to two other topics.

Business Coverage

The first topic is “business” (although for things like manufacturing and shipping, I suppose I should say, with Veblen, “industry”). Water Cooler provides daily statistics for Mr. Market (the “Greed and Fear” index), and select official statistics for real economy measures like the employment situation and manufacturing.

Water Cooler’s business section has also been [lambert blushes modestly] good at winkling out the nuts and bolts for various incarnations of The Bezzle. We were right and early on self-driving cars. We were right and early on crypto, Bitcoin, and NFTs (remember NFTs? Good times). We were also right and early on Web 3.0, although that was obviously so stupid and non-impactful it would have been mere sadism to give it the coverage it deserved. I have every confidence that Water Cooler will be right and early on the current Bezzle: AI. We also laid the groundwork for understanding last year’s supply chain crisis by developing sources like Hellenic Shipping News and other obscure trade journals, and featuring links to containers, ports, big ships and boats, trucks, trains, warehouses, etc. (I loved writing about shipping, and hopefully I write more about it in the coming year.)

This is a lot of work.

If Water Cooler’s business coverage helped you, you can help Water Cooler in a universal and concrete material benefit: a donation (here).

Politics Coverage

Finally, we come to our second topic: politics. Covering electoral politics in 2022 and 2023 has been difficult for me, personally, Normally, I’m a pretty hopeful person — really! — but the Biden Administration’s Covid policy decisions really knocked me for a loop, and I’m one of the lucky ones (that is, I’m still very much alive). Normally, there would be at least one elected or candidate I could, in however a nuanced and reluctant fashion, support. Sadly, after the collapse of the Sanders campaign in 2020, and the subsequent evisceration of what remains of “the left” in the Democrat Party, there is nobody to support (unions are a different matter; see under “Class Warfare”).

The vacuity and decadence of what we laughingly call the “two-party system” means my politics section has lacked an animating force. I still love the nuts and bolts of electoral politics, I love the spectacle, I love the action, whether principled and heroic, or base and venal, I love the characters, I love the history, I love the language and the anecdotes. I still perform the service of weeding out disinformation and moral panics, or ignoring them altogether, and I still pull on my yellow waders and apply my critical thinking skills when the times demand it. But really, I’ve been reduced to taking the Republican Party seriously, and who wants that? I do plug away at my master theory of what the Democrat Party really is — political scientists go silent when I ask them — but I have yet to bring it home. On the bright, or possibly the garish side, 2024 already looks to be shaping up to be quite a year, and perhaps the results, at all levels, will be interesting! Since I’ve been blogging daily on electoral politics since 2003, not, I feel, without insight, you can imagine how disorienting these conditions are for me.

This is not pleasant work. At all.

If you have found Water Cooler’s political coverage helpful — or if it confirmed your priors that there was little help, currently, to be sought or found there — please encourage future coverage by clicking here!

* * *

Enjoy your weekend! And if you go out, remember to look up at the sky, and not down at your shoes!

Thank you!


UPDATE 🌡️ As of just before Links, we are at 74 donors. 74 donors / goal of 375 = 19.4%. Thank you!

P.S. 2022’s Water Cooler fundraiser went well, and we would like 2023’s to go even better. Our goal is 375 donors, an increase of 25 over last year. Please give what you can.

Readers, I couldn’t write Water Cooler without independent funding from you; there’s no mainstream market for calling out bullshit — let alone helping people to keep their balance with bird songs and artwork and plants!

What Yves wrote back in 2017 is true in 2023:

To be crass, Lambert is making well under a living wage for his work on Water Cooler and that is not right. We need you to live up to what we hope is one of the widely-held values in the commentariat, that people should be paid fairly for their work, especially work that has already been done! That means digging into your wallets, whether a little or for a lot, and chipping in for Water Cooler.

If you can dig deep, please consider doing so. Not only is this quarter tax time for me, I have people who depend on me in the real world. Further, you will be paying me for work I have already done — unlike the Naked Capitalism fundraiser proper, which sets the budget for the following year — and so having played the fiddle, I am now passing my cap, which I hope will shortly sag with your contributions. Please click the Donate button below and contribute what you can.

🌡️ Again, our target is 375 donors, and we’d like to return to our regularly scheduled programming as soon as possible. I really enjoy writing Water Cooler, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Thank you!

* * *

To make the business relationships clear, Yves writes:

Water Cooler is a separate store front within Naked Capitalism to pay for [Lambert’s] considerable effort on it over and above all the work he already does on the site… Yes, Lambert also gets paid out of the annual fundraiser, but that is for the considerable amount of work he does besides Water Cooler, such as DJing the site, helping manage the comments section, managing a lot of the tech issues, and helping in tooth-gnashing over other “business of running the business” matters.

* * *

Readers, you may donate here:

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!

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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. Samuel Conner

      Glad that you’re well. I think I wasn’t the only person who was anxious that something more serious than a temporarily inaccurate “system clock” might have happened. “Wrapped around an axle” has a literal as well as a metaphorical sense.

      I’ll put a check in the mail today; Paypal locked me out a couple of years ago after my bank refused a payment and they never let me back in; the #%! customer service was useless and after escalating to a supervisor, fruitlessly, I gave up. I may still owe them the small $$ payment my back refused.

  1. Wukchumni

    I’ve given up on paypal, so the check is in the mail once I get an address to send it to, and thanks for all you do!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I expect others can be more generous.

      I don’t even need to know the number to know that’s true :-)

      Bur seriously, folks, it was a little bit of a gamble to go — some might say* — off brand and focus on Covid so much. If would be nice if good karma happened in this life…..

      NOTE * From a political economy standpoint, it’s all Rule #2. That is the point of attack, what I don’t want to happen where I can make a difference.

  2. kareninca

    I have a mailing address from a couple of years ago, but then used PayPal, but then dropped PayPal. Is it still the old address (with a 158 in it)????

  3. Martin Oline

    Check is in the mail box waiting for the mailman. 4 minutes later: Oh hell, I was wrong. It was a woman!

  4. David in Friday Harbor

    Money’s a bit tight due to ongoing interstate move but I pulled the cushions off the sofa! Gotta keep this lifeline to sanity…

  5. Michael King

    Just sent a donation. Thank you Lambert for all the Covid material. Water Cooler is essential reading and I’m always happy to see BC’s resident Psycho Public Health Officer featured, aka Bonnie Henry. The bird calls are bliss and the humour is a soothing balm in strange times. Abrazo fuerte.

    1. lambert strether

      Thanks for the kind words. The Bonnie Henry takedown is on my list. She’s a real piece of work, and readers have given me a lot of anmo.

      1. Sub-Boreal

        Like the proverbial shooting fish in the barrel! Eagerly awaiting this one. An addition to your multi-Gb DBH dossier:

        Also, a November vignette, unmasked of course, from a gala event where she posed with faux social democratic now-former Premier John Horgan. JH has just resigned his legislative seat and wasted no time in lining up replacement gigs, like a coal company directorship. This is the same guy who minimized the hundreds of additional deaths during the late June 2021 heat dome event: “Fatalities are a part of life”. Soulmates, no?

        Donated, with much gratitude for your labours.

  6. griffen

    I’ll put it on the list for the coming week. Had to unfortunately curtail during the late months of 2022, as a necessary eye surgery took precedence (to the good, both eyes work better now).

    Thanks for the ongoing effort to shine a light where the cockroaches and ne’er do wells tend to gather. And I’m talking about more than just the usual suspects in DC! I nearly always look to the Rapture ready indicator to really know how the world is looking.

  7. mrsyk

    In, double shot because I may have missed last year. What would I do without this crowd. The best.

  8. mrsyk

    Meant to add, I think Covid is a great theme. It serves so well as a live time analogy to the general cray cray.

  9. mcwoot

    I still don’t understand the difference between the water cooler and links. Can’t they both just be in the same place?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yves explains at the very end of the post:

      Water Cooler is a separate store front within Naked Capitalism to pay for [Lambert’s] considerable effort on it over and above all the work he already does on the site… Yes, Lambert also gets paid out of the annual fundraiser, but that is for the considerable amount of work he does besides Water Cooler, such as DJing the site, helping manage the comments section, managing a lot of the tech issues, and helping in tooth-gnashing over other “business of running the business” matters.

      So, if you contributed the NC annual fundraiser, you did not contribute to Water Cooler. They are separate.

  10. Randall Flagg

    $ should arrive mid week via snail mail.

    As with so much in life daily propaganda (oops, excuse me), reports in the news, advertising, on and on, it all seems a little “off”.

    This site, and it’s commenters, has and continued to provide daily education, clarity of thought, and ability to sift through all the Bull$hit flooding us daily to understand what’s really going on. Using a line stolen from others: A voice of reason and sanity in an unreasonable and insane world”

    Thank you all!!!

  11. Democracy Working Someday

    I have a personal rule of always giving $ to buskers, so “having played the fiddle, I am now passing my cap” would have triggered a donation even if I hadn’t already intended to support! Thanks for all you do.

  12. orlbucfan

    Lambert, check your email. I have the old snail mail and paper check info, so need update. Many thanks!!

  13. ambrit

    The Old Age Pension cheque came, via the Internets. So, a pittance wingeth your way via Pay Pal. [I have come to a modus vivendi with that system of rent gouging. Sorry.]
    Stay safe.

    1. ambrit

      Addendum: The Pay Pal donation page has your Terran human “secret identity” at the mast head. [Naughty Pay Pal!]
      When I back clicked the donations page, instead of sending me to this page, it tried to send me elsewhen. The screen said: SORRY, WE CAN’T FIND THAT PAGE! You tried to find: 200pm-water-cooler-3-29-2019
      So, I hope the meagre alms given finds you in the here and now and does not show up four years ago.
      Your humble and disobedient servant,
      The Time Warp Bandit.

      1. lambert strether

        As it must. There is no way to get around that; PayPal insists on it, and, to be fair, an authentic online identity built up over 2023 – 2003 = 20 years of blogging is probably not in their mental universe.

        1. ambrit

          Good heavens! 2003. We still had some hopes of living in a civilized society back then.
          Stay safe and endure.

  14. dougie

    I sent you a chunk because my Mom taught me to share any good fortune with others. I have been fortunate.

    I began monthly contributions because I am forgetful. Thanks for doing all the “heavy lifting” behind the scenes. It is an immense help in my life.

  15. Leftcoastindie

    Thanks for all you do.
    My monetized electrons should be making it to your account shortly if not already there.

  16. antidlc

    I’d be happy to send a check in the mail. Can you pls provide an address?

    Thanks for all you do! The COVID coverage has been exceptional.

    (All of your coverage has been exceptional, but I think your COVID coverage has helped keep the antidlc household safe.)

  17. Acacia

    Thanks so much, Lambert. Kudos +100 especially for the much-needed clarity on COVID.

    Wish I could afford more but a little is arriving via PayPal.

  18. CCinco

    Brilliant work you do. Don’t know what I would do without Water Cooler and Links. Thank you!!

  19. FlyoverBoy

    In. Among other things, I depend on you literally for my health — thanks for what you do.

  20. aletheia33

    my $$ resources are more precarious this year, at age 68, than in any previous year, so i need the water cooler even more. the pandemic reporting and toolkit info may have saved my life and may yet still. the birdsongs are a tonic while reading. etc. so i’ve set up a recurring monthly donation of a very small amount. i urge everyone to do the same. lambert is a priceless resource. i don’t know how i would be managing to keep my balance, mentally and practically, in the current meshugaas without the amazing gift of his acute insight, mischievous humor, and analytical scalpel (all wielded while wearing yellow waders).

  21. judy2shoes

    I have been absent from the fold because I had to take a break. I do peek in now and then, so I just saw the fundraiser and donated. Thank you, Lambert, for all of your hard work.


  22. GramSci

    Late to the party but eager to help. I wish it could be more … Lambert et cie holds the civilized world together.

  23. ChrisRUEcon

    After a cursory check to verify that the super-hero lair has not been relocated, and subsequent assurances that secret identities will not be revealed, the real egg* will be delivered via snail mail … LOL


    * – #Oceans12 reference

  24. farmboy

    Lambert’s outage is not too uncommon when you bathe in truth, it’s a direct channel to heaven complete with all downloads. Happy Immersion! donation forthcoming

  25. thoughtfulperson

    Managed to remember! Got my contribution in toward the 2pm water cooler. Truly a light in the darkness. Especially appreciate the “news you can use features”. I have a corsoi box with the nice quiet computer fans going now. Even those suffering cognitive dissonance with anything covid can’t complain about clean air!

Comments are closed.