2:00PM Water Cooler 1/29/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I am once again asking your forbearance as I complete a post on the economic effects of Covid. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Shrike, Fields off of Worcester Rd, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States.

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Happy Anniversary!

WHO slaughtered a lot of innocents by suppressing the real nature of Covid transmission (“airborne”) in favor of droplet dogma, and by fighting tooth and nail against the aerosol scientists who tried to set them straight. Best of all, most of these goons are still in power!

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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, lichen, 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 lcm:

lcm writes: “Winter leaves of variegated leucothoe, deer resistant so far!”

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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. Mark Gisleson

    Lyrics and poetry always popular here. We should group write a limerick!

    I’ll start:

    There once was a fellow from Sacramento…

    1. lyman alpha blob

      There once was a hillbound City
      Run by bloodthirsty committee.
      It bombed foes and friends
      Then met with bad ends.
      Just a dustheap now, ’tis a pity!

  2. LawnDart

    …economic effects of Covid…

    The “Amazon-effect,” the avalanche of cardboard boxes totally swamped my customers in the recycling industry– I troubleshoot, repair, upgrade some of the major equipment used, so I was way overbooked.

    Long hours but good money, and kinda surreal travelling throughout the country as few others were out-and-about. As an introvert by nature, this made me happy, although part of me wishes that I could have “lockdowned” and avoided the world for a few months too– I feel I missed-out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The “Amazon-effect,” the avalanche of cardboard boxes totally swamped my customers in the recycling industry– I troubleshoot, repair, upgrade some of the major equipment used, so I was way overbooked.

      What a neat job!

      1. LawnDart

        I design, build, and program the control systems used for the equipment too.

        For many years I worked with broken people and/or dealing with people-problems, but that took a toll. You can’t just hit people with a hammer and call them fixed (not in legit work anyway). Machines are much more simple, even if multiple controllers or computers are involved in a process, these are still less complex than the simplest (conscious) person: machines are basic cause-and-effect– no emotions or hidden motives to confuse the mix.

        Also, unlike people-problems, results or outcomes with mechanical equipment are tangible, visible, obvious and concrete. It’s basically a glorified mechanic’s job, and the job cannot be outsourced overseas.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Great point. People are one of the few things on Planet Earth that cannot be fixed with a hammer.

  3. clarky90

    Wed 4 Oct, 2023

    Over 1,000 Israeli extremists storm Al Aqsa complex on fifth day of Sukkot


    The abhorrent Israeli Settlers managed to unite the fractious Muslims World, against the “West”, by invading, and desecrating the the sanctity of The Al Aqsa Mosque.

    The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third most Holy Muslim Site. It is worshipped by ALL Muslim factions…… dealing out a common insult.

    The “settlers dream” is to level the Al Aqsa Mosque and build the Third Temple, in order to resume Animal Blood Sacrifices to god. (small “g”).

    Why On Earth Do We Need a Third Temple?
    By Tzvi Freeman


    In other words, it could be argued that the present conflict in the Middle East, (Which, by the way, threatens the sanctity of our atmosphere and our environment) ………….
    began on Wednesday, October 4, 2023!, not on Saturday, October 7, 2023…………..

    1. The Rev Kev

      Like in past incursions, those Israeli settlers would have been under the protection of the Israeli police or the IDF.

  4. Wukchumni

    What if 3 innocent Americans were killed by a galoot with an assault rifle?

    Would Genocide Joe threaten to bomb gun stores?

    1. ambrit

      No. He would claim the weapon used was an AK supplied by Evil Putin and send more money to the Ukraine to stop the Evil Empire over there, instead of here.

      1. herman_sampson

        Now if it were three cops, the wailing and gnashing of teeth would be deafening and the tv news would be running breaking news for days.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i buutchered 2 roosters yesterday morning who had been fattening in the fattening pens, eating scratch and bacon grease for 2 months.
      then i drank beer,,,
      and smoked a hogleg
      and contemplated my campfire(for to boil water to loosen feathers, ere placing in the plucker)
      but i kept looking at the rooster feet…i like to use the whole animal if possible…but i’ve never figgered out what to do with the chicken feet.
      so ive been hanging them in trees for a long while…by the various ingress points, as a warding, i guess.
      i noticed long ago that they harden after a time.
      so i took these 4 rooster feet, and strips of gorilla tape, and taped down the outer toes, leaving the one middle one extended.
      (chickens have 3 toes and a “thumb”.)
      already, a mere 24 hours later, there are 4 chicken feet flipping the bird.
      i’m thinking keychains or rearview mirror things.

      1. Randall Flagg

        The kids sell a lot of meat birds during the summer season, popular also is the necks and feet for soups and broths. They also dehydrate the feet for dog treats.
        The old school motto for processing animals raised. “Use everything but the cluck, oink and moo”…

      2. petal

        A former Chinese roommate ate chicken feet. She kept a bag of them in the freezer, toenails and all. It was quite a shock when I found it, and then later when she left the bag(s) out thawing on the counter in preparation for cooking. I’m very glad to have my own apartment these days.

        1. Lee

          Having had a meal of high end Chinese food in coastal China, I prefer the American hole in the wall restaurant version. Little Joe’s just down the street: yumyumyum.

      3. IM Dog

        Our dogs make quick work of our chicken feet and it is much better for their teeth than the chewies in the stores

    1. flora

      Good. I remember the rumors back then, maybe more than rumors, that Nixon was using the IRS to go after his political enemies. The dark joke on the nominal left back then was that being on Nixon’s enemies list was an honor.

      1. Jason Boxman

        That leak of rich people’s returns led to outstanding journalism by Pro Publica. Lots of chicanery revealed.

  5. griffen

    Against all odds, two of the higher seeded teams in the respective NFL conferences are meeting in a mere two weeks minus a day for America’s annual party and commercial extravaganza, the NFL’s Super Bowl playing in Las Vegas.

    The Chiefs of Kansas City will face once again the 49ers of San Francisco…may the Lord ( Deity of one’s choosing) place his favor upon the destiny and fate of the chosen city. The loser and therefore the losing city will receive a bombardment of stone and fire from above, righteous condemnation for a loss in the Biggest Game Ever.

    No truck advertisements shall be allowed supposedly, but consumption of advertising for beverages, food and travel services will forthwith proliferate. Above sarcasm aside, seems to be a setting of worthy opponents able to scheme and devise a win when placed against the proverbial wall (Chiefs victorious on the road, SF victorious at home but having to recover from a halftime deficit)

        1. Revenant

          The full story seems to be more complicated. It appears nitter exists in different instances and those instances are being rate limited by X. Some instances are down (the busiest ones because they are just overwhelmed?) but other instances are working although you may have to reload if a link fails first time.

          I have been using nitter.cz for the moment.

          There is a list of nitter instances and their status here.

  6. Tom Stone

    More adventures in healthcare, I’ve been taking lisinopril for 4 years, called in for a refill 11 days ago, called my Primary care person’s office last Thursday when it had not been approved, was assured it would be OK’d ASAP, still not approved this AM, called AGAIN this afternoon and after 40 minutes on hold, 3 transfers, was told that my pharmacy would have it tomorrow.
    This is the second time in 2 Months I have had to call the office repeatedly to have a blood pressure med prescription refilled.
    My Primary care person is a nurse practitioner who informed me on my last visit that he was immune to Covid, 3 years working with Covid patients unmasked and never any symptoms….

    1. Lee

      Some unknown number of people are undoubtedly immune or resistant to the worst effects of the disease.There are indications that there are genetic factors that determine one’s vulnerability. Unfortunately, there is currently no certain way of know to which category one might belong. Taking polio as an example, only a small percentage of people who become infected suffer life threatening or debilitating effects. But high transmissibility produces a large number of serious cases. As with polio, it would seem the only way to beat the bug would be an effective vaccine. But Covid is a such a frequent and prodigious genetic shape shifter it might another operation warp speed to produce it.

      There may be a current a shortage of lisinopril. You might consider a substitution.

  7. Jason Boxman

    So Biden and the Democrats have simultaneously inflicted huge harm on the health of the public while destroying the institution of public health. Impressive. That.

  8. Revenant

    Here’s an interesting post from the RWA twitter account, musing on the Texas border dispute being a 3D chess game. Is Biden seeking an excuse to federalise the Texas guard, to see their matériel to the Ukraine? I’ve not seen this angle discussed here. Possibly my tinfoil hat had slipped down over my eyes. :-)

    Russians With Attitude
    Jan 25
    Some Russian Telegram posters seem to see a connection between the Texas situation and Ukraine. Not sure yet if I’d make the connection, but it’s an interesting angle.

    Vladislav Ugolny:

    At the beginning of the year, during the “Ramstein” format meeting, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the US has run out of funds to assist Ukraine.

    Ukraine cannot receive military equipment from the reserves of the US army warehouses. This requires a complete overhaul of policy at the federal level. There are no shells for Ukraine at the federal level.

    But do you know where they can be found?

    In the military warehouses owned by the states. Yes, in the USA, the states have their own National Guard troops and, accordingly, their own depots.

    And do you know which warehouses are the richest, and which National Guard is the coolest?


    This specifically refers to the 36th Infantry Division, which is very capable.

    Other states also have similar facilities and troops, but Texas… Texas here serves as an untapped reserve that can be accessed by pressuring the state’s governor.

    Consequently, looking at the events unfolding around the Texas-Mexico border, one should not focus exclusively on the border issue.

    The contradictions between Washington and Texas are much broader and include the pressure of the Biden administration on Texas regarding these very armaments.

    After all, Texas has already been pressured through protests by the Ukrainian diaspora, as well as by American military elites connected to Texas, via the CIA.

  9. Revenant

    Also, another link that does not seem to gave been picked up here is the death of Nicholas Saunders.

    I knew of him as the author of “E is for Ecstasy”, an early serious ethno-pharmacological look at rave, drugs and the personal and cultural consequences of the British getting luvved up. I had no idea he had been a principal mover in the British and especially London food and retail scene with his avantgarde founding of Neal’s Yard Dairies and Bakery amid the decay of Covent Garden when the market relocated, and then finally the cosmetics company and then did it all again at Borough market in the 1990’s.


        1. The Rev Kev

          It was very poignant episode that. At the end Sergeant Lewis was very worried about his own daughter falling into this scene having seen kids her age die and with her music was wondering how wide the parental gap was between he and his teenage daughter.

          1. Lee

            OTOH, my son went to his fair share of raves back in the day and now he’s a hard working electrician and father to my grandkids who make my old heart sing. But it is also true that there are risks involved with taking potent psychoactive drugs. There will be casualties. Particularly so in a society that proscribes them and as matter of self righteous policy will therefore fail to provide knowledgeable and humane guidance and support in their beneficial use.

            1. Revenant

              Good links to good times! 8-]

              Current parents in the UK grew up in or after rave and its pharmacy of euphoriants and dissociants. It is hard to see how our children can shock us, the chemical generation, with their music and nightlife. This may be why they are either sober or trans….

              My crowd’s experience at Cambridge was rather like Oxford in “Seraphim”. Obviously not with drug trial murders but we were partying in gowns after formal hall or in King’s next to the Chapel and the College Fellows seemed oblivious to the pill popping. In fact, when that Morse episode was shown, we were all tickled because our counterculture was going mainstream. Our parents were watching it on television – often with no idea what we were up to.

              You have to remember, at the time, in 1992/3, dance music’s national airtime was restricted to Pete Tong’s Essential Mix on Radio 1, the charts wouldn’t play it (except when the records went so big they had to play them and some acts had fun who could get the more outrageous singke into the charts, like the Shamen, Altern8, the KLF and the Prodigy) and most music was swapped on tape or vinyl. Then, after 1996, dance music was everywhere in the UK, on the radio, in advertising, on the soundtrack to the football coverage. Bands with names like the Chemical Brothers were mainstream!
              The weirdest thing was going to the USA in the 2000’s and dance music didn’t exist publicly. It took twenty years to hit the US and it seemed to work its way in through rap initially.

              And yes, the risks of rave drugs are low and mostly incidental (driving while intoxicated etc) to the individual and possibly a net benefit to society. They changed a lot of uptight or depressed people for the better – who are now our ambassadors, professors, politicians and City grandees.

              Ironically, the biggest risk seems to be “natural” cannabis, especially strong strains like skunk, precipitating psychosis, rather than pills.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Pondering the Nullification controversy and current events, the last time was about money and who got it, and I have vague notions that this time it’s the same thing. Some folks are getting rich off movement of people and drugs and weapons across the pretty artificial state and national boundaries. If Texas succeeds in seceding, which set of oligarchs will get enriched from the revised preferential pathways for movement of high-value and human materiel? It’s no secret that people who “guard” the borders universally succumb to the temptations of corruption. I doubt that the Republic of Texas’s border with the narcostate of Mexico would suddenly become impermeable. The Tejas carceral state will continue to need new Latinos and po’ white trash and the hordes of homeless generated by Tejas’ political-economic choices, to fill the jails. Crops still need pickin’, petrobarons need wetbacks to tend their estate plantings and water features, and white folk be not likely to flip McBurgers or stack up KFChicken sandwiches. What becomes of all the franchise outposts of the Great ‘murican enterprises like Suckbucks and Walmart and Family Dollar and Nieman-Marcus/Bloomingdales and Nordstrom? Stranded capital? What happens to SpaceX’s Starbase down there in Boca Chica? Of course Tejas is not in the way of becoming an autarky like, say, Russia. So how much of this crap is just political stuntery, how much is organic rage and anomie, how much is indicative of the dissolution of the empire of lies? Will Kansas sign on? and North Carolina? Is this just crisis generation, to create opportunities for the sh!theads who move fast, break things and then get paid to pick up the pieces? “In order to form a more perfect union”? What the f##k was my eighth grade civics teacher so rapturous over, when intoning the Sacred Words of the Founding Documents in persuading us it was really important to think only good thoughts about the Yanited States of ‘Murica? Conservation of political momentum: when does the political economy suddenly phase-change from centrifugal to centripetal?

    1. Lee

      “…when does the political economy suddenly phase-change from centrifugal to centripetal?”

      A nation’s capital rebuffed at its expanding periphery and so bent back upon itself. What could go wrong? What could go right? And what future lies ahead for a nation that has surrendered its physical and mental capital in favor of the ephemera of currency and ultimately unenforceable contractual obligations?

    2. TomDority

      ” Is this just crisis generation, to create opportunities for the sh!theads who move fast, break things and then get paid to pick up the pieces?”
      That is a good line – can I use it?

    1. Jason Boxman

      I’m mostly unimpressed with Bing Search AI; It just summarizes what’s in the search results. I get more utility out of ChatGPT; I’ve yet to experiment with the Bard-whatever-bot that’s in Google Docs now. What a bizarre future.

      It is comical that liberal Democrats, ever big into optics, aren’t actually meaningfully pursing policies on climate change; No national campaign to adopt electric cars, the financialization debacle that is home solar covered in a link in Time here recently, widespread adoption of large language models, and BTC, that are voracious energy consumers with little to no demonstrable value.

      And Obama making the US a net energy exporter!

      It’s almost as if social projects are impossible if not effectuated through private enterprise, badly. With the lack of executive function, it’s hard to say if an actual government effort would meet with much success either, though.

    2. digi_owl

      Current MS management see Windows as not much more than a webdev platform and a thin client for their cloud services.

      We are witnessing a rapid resurgence of the leased terminal time share era of computing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The ideal at corporations like Microsoft would be that personal computers would be reduced to a monitor, mouse and a keyboard – no hard drive – and which was known in the early days of computing as a dumb terminal.

        1. digi_owl

          Pretty much, and Google is already there with their Chromebooks.

          And “smartphones” are not far off either, as most of the smart is happening elsewhere to save on battery. they are consumption, not creation, platforms.

  11. The Rev Kev

    David Paul Goldman aka “Spengler” at Asia Times doing his part to prove that Gaza is all the fault of Arabs who won’t modernize and the life of Arabs in the West bank and Israel itself are really great.


    If it is so great, he should really move to the West bank for a month to prove his ideas, especially now, but I would advise him to wear a Kevlar vest first.

    1. Feral Finster

      Spangler, for want of a better way to put it, twists himself into knots to justify Israel.

      Israel and Jews appear to be the sole exceptions to his basic nihilism.

  12. Feral Finster


    “Just like Japan could sweep its more intractable problems under the rug for 200 years, only to have all those problems come out with a vengeance once its economy crashed and its military position weakened, so has America stuffed most of its own serious contradictions into the closet. But that only works as long as things are stable, and America today is seeing its empire crack and split apart.”

    A lot of problems can be papered over with money.

  13. Screwball

    Just a little heads up for links tomorrow; You will be able to find everything on Twitter. Ice cream Nancy is back in the news after an incident at her home, coming after her blame it on Russia skit. Then Joy Reid says hold my beer; caught on a hot mike during a Biden clip. The F word and things that you shouldn’t. Too funny, if true, and it seems to be.

    At least they are entertaining.

  14. Jorge

    I saw a Northern Shrike in person years ago, sitting on a fence. It was gray on gray, with clear delineation- no texture or mottling. It looked like it was designed as a corporate logo. Really surprising, not camouflaged at all.

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