2:00PM Water Cooler 11/20/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am finishing up a post on Myanmar, where it appears there’s a slim chance that the good guys may actually win. Who knew? So I must ask you to talk amongst yourselves. Sorry! –lambert

* * *

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 GQ:

GQ writes: “Water Lilies, Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.”

* * *

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. Mark Gisleson

          Should have used a /sarc

          Very boring footage, strictly tour group stuff. Exact opposite of insurrection, I kept expecting the cops to hand out flyers to the tourists.

  1. Lee

    An audio antidote for wolf fans: Raised by Wolf (22 minutes). From Radiolab.

    A tale told by wolf expert Rick McIntyre about an unexpected outcome during what would more typically be a deadly confrontation between two Yellowstone wolf packs lead into battle by a father and stepson respectively.

    Not included in this story is the fate of the alpha female dubbed “the psychopath”. She was subsequently killed by blood related pack members because, one might safely assume, she was just too damned mean to other pack members.

  2. Tom Stone

    I’ve been thinking a bit about “Gun Violence”, it seems that Gun Violence has exploded in the USA over the last few decades as the result of the proliferation of Assault type weapons such as the Glock and particularly the AR-15.
    These weapons are designed to kill and are being held responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of American Schoolchildren.
    Every schoolchild in America lives in fear of being brutally murdered in the classroom, which might be a relief during a math final.
    The response has been metal detectors, “Active shooter Drills” in every elementary school, signs reminding potential insane murderers that the schools are “Gun Free Zones” and FFS bulletproof backpacks for the kids.
    The problem is simple, assault type weapons, and the answer is simple, ban them.
    Let me unpack that.
    1) Guns do not have agency, yet.
    Several companies are working on networked robot dogs with AI, facial recognition and a variety of armaments, including machine guns.
    2) Violent crime has been steadily declining in the USA over the last 3 decades for three major reasons.
    No more leaded Gas.
    An aging population.
    The substitution of Fentanyl and Weed for Booze by the more desperate segments of the population.
    Booze…bring up a map of domestic violence incidents by State and a similar map of per capita alcohol consumption.
    Boozers are violent, potheads and junkies not so much.
    3) “Assault type Weapons”.
    A Glock 17 can be turned into a machine pistol by replacing one part, which takes no tools and less than 5 minutes.
    You can make that part out of a wire coat hanger using two pair of pliers and a wirecutter.
    The notorious Ar-15?
    the last time I looked at the DOJ statistics a total of 394 murders had been committed in the prior year by criminals using any type of rifle.
    If I round that up to 400 and assume that every one of those murderers used an AR-15 it means that one out of every 50,000 AR -15’s was used to commit those crimes.
    There are @ 20,000,000 AR-15’s in the US at present, with more built every day both in Factories and in Garages.
    “Sensible Laws” restricting the possession and carrying arms are always about class and always have been, in prior times the better sort of people made no bones about this.
    These days it’s about “Protecting the Children” just like SESTA and FOSTA have dome.

    1. DeAndre

      Is there a missing sarcasm warning?
      “Every schoolchild in America lives in fear of being brutally murdered in the classroom” Hyperbole much?

      Violent crime has been steadily declining in the USA over the last 3 decades…On average, but in ghettos and drug dealing areas, it is increasing.

      The same mentality that excuses organized shoplifting and hatred against the system promotes black people shooting each other over meaningless insults, drug territories and affects assorted victims.

      I take it that you live in a mostly white rural area with little crime? I would respect the opinions of people of color who live in big cities more.

      1. ambrit

        I can remember when the Panthers did armed “security patrols” of poor high crime neighbourhoods. I know not what the outcome was, but to this aging white dude, the idea had and still has merit.
        However, the police did not like the competition.
        I can remember an interview with Frank Herbert just after the “original” film version of “Dune” came out. In it he let slip that the Federal Police were the biggest criminal gang in the District of Mexico, (Mexico City.) that sounded like Third world funnies back then. Now, it applies equally to all of America.
        Parenthetically, since the Narco Cartels are private business organizations, with armed wings attached, they fit perfectly into the definition of Neo-liberal Institutions.

      2. LaRuse

        Well, my daughter is 16 and she and her cohort are in fact quite anxious about the risk of being shot to death in homeroom. We had a mass shooting at a high school graduation in June. Only a couple killed and many injured so it barely made headlines.
        They watched the 90s era Romeo + Juliet but had to skip the big gun battle scenes because it turns out that watching young people gun each other down over petty arguments is a little too much on the nose for our kids.
        So yeah, in my (albeit limited) experience, the kids are indeed not okay where it comes to guns.

      3. The Rev Kev

        To my mind, entire generations were traumatized with school nuclear drills to remind kids constantly about death by nuclear fire. I do not know if anybody really studied the effects of this on all those kids but it must have had some effect. Perhaps how rebellious kids were in the 60s was a result of this for all we know. So are they studying what the effect of all these active shooter drills on little kids as well? It has to have some effect and one that would be consequential.

        1. Janie

          I was in junior high in the south-center of the US during the Red Scare. We had drills, going into the central hallways, kneeling against inner walls and covering our heads. We didn’t think it would happen, grownups making a big deal out of it. It was a nice break if class was borijanieng, which it usually was.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “Every schoolchild in America lives in fear of being brutally murdered in the classroom” Hyperbole much?

        I don’t think it’s hyperbole at all, what with fortress architecture, metal detectors, active shooter drills, cops in the hallways, and constant media coverage. Any schoolchild who isn’t isn’t afraid isn’t paying attention. (Of course, this isn’t true for some suburban enclaves, and those wealthy enough to send their children to Choate, or wherever.)

        We have optimized our entire K-12 public educational system so gun humpers can hump their guns. Who could have known that would be a problem for children?

    2. Wukchumni

      The guns in their various guises of being semi-ejaculating Steely Dans spitting out high velocity pointy metal things are wholly innocent, its the index fingers that do all the carnage, and for which not 1 digit has ever done time!

      1. JBird4049

        Yeah, okay, but what about all the hype over “assault style rifles” or other slogans when it handguns that does all killing?

        The police are increasingly abusive and corrupt, with an unofficial mandate of suppressing the poor and minorities. If you are both, it’s bad news for you. Don’t forget that many communities are over policed and underserved, which helps to explain why they are considered the enemies of the community, not its protectors. If the police and by extension the courts are considered the enemy, just how does one handle problems? The more violent and corrupt the police are, the greater the crime, which often includes people getting their own private justice often with a gun or baseball bat.

        Spreading poverty, lack of housing or affordable food, an increasing lack of healthcare, increasing mental illness, government that does not care about anyone unless they have money. Dysfunctional everything. Oh, tens of thousands of dead due to suicides, drug overdoses, Covid, medical accidents, and IIRC lack of healthcare for each of individual causes I just listened. Let’s not mention the illnesses and early deaths caused by over 170 thousand homeless Californian.

        And yet, it is semi automatic rifles that gets all the attention. It is like cleaning up San Francisco or shoving the homeless into some hidden place after decades of neglect because of some fancy conference. The Powers That Be do not care to spend the money on us peons because to them, we don’t matter. However, they are ready to hype up gun deaths especially the guns least used, which are a real problem, but will not spend the money needed to prevent those hundreds of thousands of deaths. It is a distraction and donation getter. Newsom will blather on about LGBTQ+ rights and the guns, getting those promo shots, but he will not solve the misery that I have seen with my own eyes (and smelled) because reasons.

        That is why I get angry when some smug “liberal” Democrat goes on about the guns.

        1. NYMutza

          I agree with you. There are many neighborhoods in many American cities where guns are necessary for a person’s safety and security. If someone comes at you with a baseball bat or a tire iron a firearm is a great equalizer and may well save your life. The United States is not Western Europe. It is not Japan. It is a whole other place. A violent place. Guns are necessary in vast areas of this nation.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > There are many neighborhoods

            Numbers, please, along with how it all nets out (given that parents, predictably, tend to leave their guns lying about, and a six-year-old, predictably, picks one up, with predictable results).

    3. chris

      Not sure what specific facts and problems set you on this path, but your analysis and assessment aren’t going to get you very far. We have five related, simultaneous, problems:

      (1) we have way too many guns and bullets in the US.
      (2) a large group of people consider owning and using guns essential to protect their freedoms and their property from criminals.
      (3) a large group of people consider freedom from gun owners and criminals essential for their protection.
      (4) we have a large group of men who could decide to use guns as a public way to commit suicide.
      (5) no one trusts the government to act in the best interests of anyone. See the latest Chicago budget plan for a great example of why that is…

      What you’ve said about restricting AR-15s amounts to dancing about architecture. I’m sure it feels like you’re doing something but it’s irrelevant to the topic at hand. And with 3D printing, and maker options for ghost guns, what does it even mean to ban a type of fire arm anymore? Proposals to arm kids and teachers are ridiculous on their face. Proposals to ban fire arms have been repeatedly found to be unconstitutional. We could maybe restrict bullets like they do in Japan. But we have a large maker culture for producing your own bullets too, so I don’t know how well that would hold up.

      Our culture is sick. Our society has rotted. Until we fix that, we can’t fix anything else. Because you won’t accept what I want and I don’t want what you’ll accept as reasonable. And so it goes…

      1. JBird4049

        >>>Our culture is sick. Our society has rotted. Until we fix that, we can’t fix anything else. Because you won’t accept what I want and I don’t want what you’ll accept as reasonable. And so it goes…

        I don’t know about that. On my list of things that kill tens of thousands each year, I bet most Americans would agree on many of the solutions or at least on the need to deal with them. Fix those problems and the much of the deaths by guns goes away. Not all because we have always been a violent nation, but a well fed, well house, population getting good medical care is far less likely to kill either themselves or others. Deal with the massive nationwide corruption especially with the police and courts as well and likely we would not be talking much about the guns or at least not disagreeing as much.

        Do not look at the issues that divide us. Look at the goals that unite us, instead.

        1. chris

          I think making progress in those areas would get us started to curing the rot in our culture. It would certainly decrease the number of men looking to commit suicide via mass murder.

        1. chris

          I don’t particularly care whether the failure is due to proponents of weapons bans being inept or captured or grossly naive. The fact remains they’ve failed multiple times and have now created precedents that mark firearm bans as unconstitutional. So people who constantly assert that we could have bans instated in the US to help solve the problems we’re discussing have a lot to prove and little evidence to rely on.

          1. lambert strether

            Just revert to the version of the Constitution we had before Scalia selected his future colleagues in Bush v. Gore (after which there are IMNSHO no legitimate Court decisions whatever). Easy.

    4. Old Sarum

      Has anyone kept a score of the number of movie posters that feature gunz in the last half century?

      The cynic in me suspects that there might be a link between the arms industry and movies of that ilk; any “smoking gun”?


  3. antidlc

    4 more free COVID tests will be available to each household ahead of the holidays

    Ahead of the approaching holidays and a potential rise in cases this winter, the government is once again allowing households to order a fresh wave of four COVID-19 tests for free online.

    The website, covidtests.gov, remains one of the last remaining ways Americans can secure free at-home rapid test after the end of the public health emergency last spring ended the requirement for insurance companies to cover eight tests per month.

    Over the past three years, the return of winter has also brought a resurgence of COVID-19. According to modeling data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials are anticipating a similar number of hospitalizations this year as they saw last year, which topped nearly 45,000 per week at its peak.

    What a stupid, stupid timeline.

    1. jax

      And stupid tests. I’m advised to check with the FDA to determine that the tests I’ve received marked with an August 2023 expiration date are not *really* expired.
      Why should I trust my government?

  4. Jason Boxman

    If confirmed — not on web site yet — Project N95 is shutting down:


    is “winding down operations” & their online shop of N95 & other masks/PPE ends Dec 15th

    “As funding declines & society responds differently to the urgency of the pandemic”

    Biden chose not to support a domestic PPE industry, and hospital GPOs (group purchasing organizations) want the cheapest thing from China, and as we’ve seen, choose not to even use PPE anymore, because hospital infection control and infectious disease as a speciality is a joke. For more on GPOs, see Stoller: The Corrupt System Behind Covid Medical Shortages

    For more on Biden, check your local grocery prices.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      I was gonna ask the other day if anyone else noticed that most of the trend lines for the crests are definitely upward sloping.

      So much for endemicity.

  5. alfred venison

    i agree, i expect there will be resentment fuelled terrorism perpetrated by fascists with the aim of exacting revenge on those they feel betrayed their country. -a.v.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > resentment fuelled

      Yes, I fully expect everybody who has been wrong about Covid, Ukraine, and Israel to be showered with honors and make bank, and everybody who was right to be ostracized as a back-stabbing traitor (Dolchstoßlegende, in the original German). By liberals, I might add, who have totally not ever dined at the All-You-Can-Eat fascist smorgasboard, despite the Censorship Industrial Complex, a policy of stochastic eugenicism based on “social determinants of health,” and two wars involving nuclear powers.

      But what, you say, about conservatives. I agree the two are not the same (different party structures, ideologies, above all class bases). Operationally, however, my view can best be expressed pictorially:

      #1b1b1b really is “not the same as” #000000. In fact, to a professional, like a painter or a designer, they appear different, and different colors would be paired with them. But one must squint hard (as, in fact, I do).

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, all are different, but the key word is “black.”

        Intellectually, I understand the need to identify all the factions, cliques, allies, and alliances that infest the country. How else is one going to get some understanding of what is happening in the United States?

        Emotionally, I just wonder if it would matter if it was the Christian Nationalists-Air Force or the Koch Brothers acolytes’ factions in the Republican Party instead of the PMC-Old School Republican-Financial-CIA faction, or even the California Democratic Party-Highway Patrol that hauled me off to solitary at Pelican Bay or Florence supermax prison because reasons?

        They are all bad and they use their positions to enrich themselves and impoverish everyone else. They also all work together to keep their positions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *