2:00PM Water Cooler 4/15/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am finishing up another in my series of posts on Covid and the economy. I should have gotten an earlier start. But I didn’t. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert P.S. I will be posting on Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump tomorrow, so if any of you have any tidbits on his court appearance today, please share in comments.

Bird Song of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Superior National Forest; Low Lake, Minnesota, United States.

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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 AM:

AM writes: “Edgewood RI – 6:03 pm in the backyard. Not a breath of wind, lots of bird activity.”

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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. Screwball

    P.S. I will be posting on Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump tomorrow, so if any of you have any tidbits on his court appearance today, please share in comments.

    It looks like the entire CNN webpage is dedicated to the Trump trial. One would think this was the biggest piece of news on the planet.

    Inner City Press on Twitter is also providing news. I’m also seeing a live update feed from the NYT but I can’t verify because I don’t have a subscription.

    The walls are closing in…

    1. Feral Finster

      The walls are closing in, because it is abundantly obvious that the Trump Trial is a kangaroo court, intended to reach a preordained outcome.

      No, not a Trumper. Not now, not ever.

      1. Stephen V

        Here here. My liberal friends haven’t offered me yet but…its all about the process peeps. And it’s incredibly corrupted.

      2. griffen

        The tagline for “Not a Trumper” is a big category for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately and in a cynical proposal, I am venturing to guess that any response other than “all hail to thee,Joe Biden” is just insufficient to prove your worth or my own to those most vocal, most outspoken sufferers from the TDS. Thinking of a Maddow or Hayes from MSNBC … I suspect the group sees the test as a true binary outcome. Either all in for Biden or all in for not Biden ( strongly if not explicitly meaning “all in” for Trump )…

        It’s the Sith mindset I tell ya…

        1. Feral Finster

          No argument there. It is assumed that anything other than full-on Kool-Aid chugging Team D cultism just means that you are a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, sister-lovin’ MAGA.

          I don’t like the man, but that doesn’t mean that Trump was responsible for the murder of Mickey Mouse.

          1. JBird4049

            I think that it is a nation wide cult with the bizarre black and white thinking that such groups have. If the King in Orange wins, the outpouring of rage, hatred, and grief is going to sound like Armageddon has arrived.

        2. petal

          Someone I am in a group with tried to sniff out my leanings again. This was the second time in two months. The group we belong to is supposed to be non-political and that’s the joy of it, and why I enjoy hanging out with the lot of them. I keep my cards close to my vest and haven’t let any clues slip yet. I think it would get ugly if this person, and some others, realised I wasn’t a full-on true blue cult member like they are. Maybe my being quiet and not reacting to certain comments or conversations is making them suspicious. Some of these folks, including the sniffer, are very NPR totebag carrying PMC.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I wonder how they would take it if they spotted you reading books about FDR. But I predict that these people will go steadily nuts as the election gets closer and closer.

          2. Duke of Prunes

            Made the mistake of criticizing Biden/Dems the other night. Not out of the blue, but as part of a fairly light political discussion. Suddenly, I’m cast as a Trumper. I defended myself – I dislike them all for the most part – but there was a chill in the air the rest of the evening. I guess I will be not seeing those folks for a while. Sad what this world is doing to people.

            1. John

              Cults trying to act like political parties are boring and predictable. It requires no effort to know exactly how that they will respond like pithed frogs.

    2. Bill Gillian

      “One would think this was the biggest piece of news on the planet.”

      THIS is more important.
      Coming to your neighborhood thanks to Joe Biden?

      An airburst of a 300-kiloton explosion would produce a blast with an overpressure of over 5 pounds per square inch (or 0.3 atmospheres) up to 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) from the target. This is enough pressure to destroy most houses, gut skyscrapers, and cause widespread fatalities less than 10 seconds after the explosion.


      I’m sorry, but on this one issue alone, I’m voting for the bigger asshole. The survival of my children and grandchildren is more important than every other thing.

      1. Screwball

        Thank you.

        I don’t like what I see on the international stage. Frankly, these people scare me. Much more than the current circus they want us to watch.

        1. John

          Has everyone forgotten what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have not and I was very young. Has everyone forgotten the hydrogen bomb test that disappeared an island and scared the crap out of the people who tested it because it was so much more powerful than they expected. I have not and I was quite young. Has everyone forgotten the Nevada tests that spread fallout across the United States; strontium 90 is not good for growing children. I was a young adult and I have not. How about the Soviet submarine that came within as ace of firing during the Cuban missile crisis … communication failure. I did not know about that until recently, but living in New York City at the time and knowing that the missiles in Cuba could reach the city was unsettling to say the least. Would my then one year old son live to be two. I have not forgotten that either. There is more but you should get the point and, yes, I am talking down to all those who are foolish enough to even muse about using nuclear weapons. Aren’t the huge bombs being supplied to Israel bad enough? And those bombs have big brothers.

          And to line some merchant of death’s pocket what passes for a government in this country plans to spend about one trillion dollars to “update our nuclear arsenal.” What moron thinks that is a good idea? How many nuclear warheads are enough to destroy civilization and make survival the greater evil?

          We do not need nuclear weapons. We do not need a so-called foreign policy that consists of threats, of childish refusal to speak to those with whom we disagree while sanctioning everyone and everything. While refusing to even consider that you were ever wrong,you have sent the nation down a path that is tearing it apart. Fearing humiliation because your ever so brilliant business strategies have literally and figuratively disarmed the nation while tearing the heart out of the economy is not a reasonable position even for a narcissistic adolescent much less a ‘master of the universe.

          To our oligarchs or the deep state, whoever and whatever that might be and to the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber. It is time to get your heads out into the sunshine once again. Accept the reality of the mess you have made and are making. Lead, follow or get out of the way.

      1. lambert strether

        > Trump appears to fall asleep

        Maybe he could bring a pillow from that pillow guy

        1. ambrit

          He could troll the court and hire a “flapper,” like in Swift’s book on the travels and travails of Gulliver.

        2. griffen

          Spring afternoon naps are the best. Used to find a convenient spot for doing so during junior year high school English, only to be snapped awake by the insistent teacher of the course.

          Intermediate accounting course during college may have been even better nap material as it were ! Spring has definitely been “sprung” here in South Carolina….weather temps are reaching mid 80s already.

  2. ChrisFromGA

    Joey’s Girl

    Sung to the tune of, “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. As performed by Vladimir Zelensky.


    Joey was a friend
    Yeah, I know, he’s been a good friend of mine
    But lately something’s changed that ain’t hard to define
    Joe has got him a new girl and I’m just his concubine

    And he’s watchin’ Bibi with those five eyes
    And he’s lovin’ on the Chosen I just know it
    Yeah, and he’s sending her arms late, late at night
    You know I wish that I were

    Joey’s girl
    I wish that I were Joey’s girl
    Where can I find a war pimp like that?

    I’ll play along with the charade
    There doesn’t seem to be a reason to change
    You know, I feel so dirty when they start talking nukes
    I wanna beg Joe for more weapons, but the point is probably moot

    ‘Cause he’s watching Bibi with those five eyes
    And he’s loving on the chosen, I just know it
    And he’s sending her his arms late, late at night
    You know, I wish that were

    Joey’s girl
    I wish that I were Joey’s girl
    Where can I find a war pimp like that?


    And I’m looking in the mirror all the time
    Wonderin’ what he don’t see in me
    I’ve been funny, I’ve been snortin’ up the lines
    Ain’t that the way war whorin’s supposed to be?

    Tell me, where can I find a war pimp like that?

    You know, I wish that I were
    Joey’s girl
    I wish that I were Joey’s girl
    I want to be Joey’s girl
    Where can I find a war pimp like that?

    Like Joey’s girl
    I wish that I were Joey’s girl
    I want, I want to be Joey’s girl

    1. griffen

      Applause and well done on the effort! Musical hitmakers from that era are still on tour and playing their works from 40 or 50 years ago. I am not going to a show anytime soon, but Heart + Cheap Trick are playing locally in Greenville, South Carolina in a few short weeks.

  3. Mikel

    As expected:

    Israel will respond to Iran, military chief says as attack appears imminent

    NBC news:
    3h ago / 9:47 AM PDT

    Israel’s response to the Iranian attack may be ‘imminent,’ official says

    Raf Sanchez

    TEL AVIV — Israel’s response to the Iranian attack may be “imminent,” an Israeli official said Monday.

    Speaking after Israel’s war Cabinet met for several hours, the official said Israeli decision-makers believe it’s important for any response to closely follow the attack. Several diplomatic and military options were examined during the Cabinet meeting, the official said.

    “Any response will be coordinated with the Americans,” the official added.

    1. fjallstrom

      How is the mood in US (I am thinking media, pundits, politician statemants). Is it bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran? Or something more restrained?

      One hopes against experience that cooler heads will prevail, but then again the current administration seems to put getting the genocide down over getting re-elected, so no large supply on cool heads.

      1. Daryl

        Seems to be radio silence. Interesting the few days leading up to Iran’s retaliation, it was all they were talking about. Now the party line is that Israel & the US “won” by shooting down a few drones and Israel doesn’t need to retaliate — not clear if anyone told the Israelis though, other than the weekly Very Stern phone call from Biden. Meanwhile back to the Trump trial, at least until the Israelis unleash whatever horror show they’re planning.

      2. notabanker

        I personally don’t know of anyone who thinks attacking Iran is even a halfway decent idea. Most people I know want nothing to do with any of this Israeli stuff and think this government has plenty to do domestically and are playing games instead. But I also don’t have a pulse on 200 million plus people, so who really knows.

        1. Roquentin

          I’d agree with this. It’s all anecdotal and may very well be confirmation bias, but I think the general sense is the Israel/Gaza/Iran stuff is all horrible and no one wants anything to do with it. The same can be said, albeit to a significantly lesser extent, for Ukraine.

          What the Acela corridor and political leadership think about it is another thing entirely. The opinions of the general public don’t count for much, but I’m sure everyone knows that already.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Hubris and pride. With the Israelis it is all about hubris and pride. With that attack the Iranians pulled down Israel’s pants in public and now they want revenge – with the US doing the heavy lifting. What happens if next time the Iranians do not send 300 drones and missiles but 3,000 drones and missiles.

    3. Acacia

      I really hope @Daryl, above, is correct, and Israel and the US will think very hard before retaliating, for that really means escalating. At the same time, this is all following a very predictable course, in which the reasons for the Iranian attack just get brushed aside.

      I’m guessing some of you have seen this clip of George Galloway speaking in the house on Iran:

      https://twitter.com/moon_treacle/status/1779904864006308289 (1.35)

      The response — embarrassed silence, followed by all the MPs standing up to yammer at once, and then PM Sunak’s “whatever may have happened a few weeks ago” —, again makes it clear just how tribal the thinking about this conflict is (if we can even call it ‘thinking’), that Israel is somehow “our side”, they can do no wrong, and the death and destruction on the Iranian side can just be waved away.

      This is how the narrative is already being spun, by suppressing and “forgetting” the real reasons for the conflict.

  4. anon

    I have exceptional access to the partying habits of students at a very highly selective university; nearly three decades of observation. Until about a year ago, this was never a party school. There would be parties in the frat type areas a couple of times a year. Starting a year (a year and a quarter? 8 months)? ago, everything changed in that respect. There are now gigantic parties all of the time!!!! It is not just frat type people; it looks to be nearly the whole student body. They are VERY loud but due to the layout of the place it doesn’t bother anyone. On a Tuesday night; on a Wednesday night; any night; many afternoons; now there will be tremendous numbers of students wandering, live music, big lights, honking, screaming like banshees. In the past the (few) parties would have rap type music; now it is often more like modern country; something people can sing and chant and cheer to(and they do so) (I don’t know music well so that is my best guess re what type of music it is). In the past the (few) parties would involve beer drinking; now I don’t see the beer mugs and I don’t know what if anything they are ingesting. It is as if they have all gone over to giving up, or else they are all brain damaged, or young person society has changed in a really big way, or some combo.

    Elderly people have always been stereotyped as being garrulous, but I don’t remember that actually being the case in the past. But it is true now, in my experience. There are several people I know in their late 70s early 80s and if I call them they just won’t shut up; they go on and on and on and on. I call anyway since I do like them but I have to time it. I am seeing the same thing with elderly people in other settings than in my personal life.

    There is a new batch of “I caught covid for the first time” anecdotes on reddit.

    WTH is it with boomer traveling? I know a fair number of older boomers through an organization and all they do now is travel. To Alaska, to Europe, to South America, they look like hell, they look like wraiths really, but they keep dragging themselves onto planes (no, none of them mask) and going on and on and on. It is like the lost souls of some New England short story of the 1800s. Either that or the grasshoppers that are driven to jump in the water by the parasite in their brains.

    1. fjallstrom

      Just speculating, but to me your description fits feeling like the end times is nigh and you better party or travel like there is no tomorrow.

      But maybe that is just me projecting, seeing the genocide in Gaza, the escalation between Israel and Iran, and the risk of the Ukraine war escalating to nuclear war. And all against a backdrop of climate change that would really need a collective, global effort. Saw “Don’t look up!” recently. Good movie, scarily on point for some social dynamics.

    2. flora

      The Freshman and Sophomores and Juniors in uni now spent much their last 1-2+ years of high school in remote learning and distance from one another. The Juniors and Seniors might have spent the first 2 years of uni in remote learning. If the kids are learning to reconnect with their peers, parties for any or no reason might be one way they’re relearning the socialization thing. Working out some stuff. / my 2 cents

      1. flora

        As for retired people (aka boomers) traveling, retired people have always traveled more than you’d expect now that they’re not tied to jobs and raising kids. And if the last 3 years showed them anything it is don’t count on tomorrow being there. They spent as much time in lockdown isolation as anyone did. Travel, see friends and family and interesting places you always wanted to visit while you still can.

        1. ambrit

          “… interesting places you always wanted to visit while you still can.” Hmmm…. I’d amend that a little to end with “…while you’re still alive.”
          Reminds me of the opening scenes of Murnau’s “Faust.”
          I see almost no masks when I go out to do shopping, etc. now. Is this cultural fatalism?

        2. anon

          That all sounds very reasonable. But none of it feels normal to me. But then, I am neither vaccinated nor have I caught covid.

      2. JBird4049

        I have always been a loner, but if the past few years of isolation had happened in my teenage years, I could see myself going a bit crazy. I don’t want to think about what the more gregarious people would be feeling like. It is painful, isn’t?

    3. Wukchumni

      I feel fortunate to have traveled extensively around the world (first world-that is) in my 20’s to 40’s when my get up and go was going gangbusters, and a much more innocent time before the internet.

      Haven’t strayed much in awhile, and i’m good staying put~

      Besides, I enjoy the idea that in my mind on account of my absence, a place hasn’t really changed since 1988, comfort food for the brain to nosh on.

      My sister though is a different story, she’s @ 119 countries visited, and its become a quest to get to those out of the way places in order to put another tally mark on the globe.

      For her husband and her, its what they do-traveling somewhere 6 months out of the year.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    I chanced on this interview with Hannah Arendt. It is fairly late in her life–she was not long-lived. In fact, it is included in a book called The Last Interview (Hannah Arendt).

    The clarity of thinking. Her great humanity. Worth watching.


    The cigarettes now seem like something from the distant past–well, the interview was in 1964. (And they likely shortened her life.)

    Otherwise: Timeless.

    1. Bugs

      Grazie. I love her and how she understood what her mentor intended but was psychologically incapable of expressing.

    1. kareninca

      No doubt it is because they were prevented from socializing during the lockdowns. They are making up for it now with fancy dance steps.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      I think the most likely suspect is pharmaceuticals in south Florida’s waste water.

  6. Tom Stone

    To date I have seen more cybertrucks ( They are UGLY) than I have “Biden/Harris 24” bumper stickers.
    4 to 1.
    in 2016 “I’m with Her” and “Billionaires can’t buy Bernie” signs and bumper stickers were everywhere by mid April, and in April 2020 “Biden/Harris” Bumper stickers were common.
    This year it’s one.
    Partly this is due to Genocide Joe’s policies and partly due to the fact that many are not enthused by the prospect of President Harris, Joe’s frailty makes it highly likely that he won’t last a full term if re elected.
    “Trump” signs and bumper stickers are rare here in Sonoma County, have one on your car and your car will be vandalized, have one on your home and it will likely be vandalized.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this election ( If we have one) has the lowest turnout in History.
    If Herpes were on the ballot it would have a good chance of beating both major candidates.

    1. antidlc

      I really haven’t seen many yard signs other than ones for local elections.

      I did see one a few blocks away that read: “For the love of God, anyone but Trump 2024.”

      I live in a pretty red area.

    2. tegnost

      When pressed in conversations I float hillary haley at the convention to beat the don with a unity ticket (neither one will have to adjust their views, which il make that easier). It’s important to follow that claim with the assertion that certainly at least one of the charges against the don stick, but he needs to be there on ballot to play the heel.
      Works great, unifies the manichean divide and makes your interlocutor want to talk about the weather, which is always a good thing.
      Those cybertrucks are re diculous, I see them around once in a while,too.

    3. tennesseewaltzer

      In Middle Tennessee I recently saw one bumper sticker: Biden 2024. Just Biden, no Harris. Hmm

  7. Jason Boxman

    Speaking of COVID

    “The aim of this study was to assess if mild-to-moderate COVID-19 may lead to the dysfunction of respiratory, cardiovascular, neural, and renal systems in healthy blood donors who recovered from the disease at least 6 months earlier.”


    “However, they present some markers of persistent immunological exhaustion at least 6 months after disease recovery.”


  8. Glen

    I realize there is more important news, but I thought this might mention this for those dumping big bucks into building or buying a PC since I have been hearing about excessive failures being reported from South Korea:

    Intel is investigating game crashes on top-end Core i9 desktop CPUs

    So apparently there are reports that the higher end CPUs from Intel are failing and speculation is that the CPUs are being subjected to some rather high voltages. I have to admit that I have an AMD CPU and I have turned on the Precision Boost Overdrive which ramps up the clock and core voltage to the CPU chip. I’m not sure how much “life” this takes out of the chip, but it must take some.

    I’m a Linux user, and like most Linux users, I have been using AMD:

    AMD CPUs are Now More Popular Among Linux Users as Intel’s Market Share Drops Below 50% [Steam Survey]

    I think this is because AMD went early into the multicore CPUs, and Linux works well with those chips.

    1. Acacia

      Agree on AMD. I’ve built PCs and servers with both Intel and AMD, and the latter seem to give more bang for the buck.

      Intel is doing the right thing by investigating this, but I wonder if it’s not just the latest clash in a long-standing cat and mouse game between chip makers and over-clockers. If gamers are cranking the clock speed and/or CPU voltage this much to get more computrons, it easily becomes a situation in which all bets are off.

      I’ve read that max operating temp (Tmax) for Intel CPUs is generally around 100°C — and this is the spec for the i9-13900K too —, but that you need to keep temperature 10–15°C lower under load, and 30–40°C lower at idle.

      Perhaps the thresholds are even lower for this latest generation, and peeps need to really take this to heart.

    2. digi_owl

      From what i have been reading, Intel is for the first time in forever behind in fab tech. Thus in order to keep up with AMD, who has outsourced actual production to TSMC, they are running their CPUs with some crazy wattage.

      As for why AMD is more popular, there may be a number of reasons. One of them being that AMD GPUs have been very Linux friendly for some time. Thus their APUs, where one have a GPU in the CPU package, is quite Linux friendly. And with the Steam Deck one see that their latest can even game, albeit on low settings.

  9. Jason Boxman

    Apt for our Pandemic policy

    As the ancient Greek historian Velleius Paterculus later observed: “Precedents do not stop where they begin, but, however narrow the path upon which they enter, they create for themselves a highway whereon they may wander with the utmost latitude… no one thinks a course is base for himself which has proven profitable to others.”

    From The Storm Before The Storm by Mike Duncan of revolutions fame

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