2:00PM Water Cooler 2/28/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I believe I had a request for the Potoo?

Rufous Potoo, Side road at KM63 of BR-174, Amazonas, Brazil. The extraordinary spectogram is due to everything going on the Amazon jungle. It’s not a quiet place!

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Biden’s new deficit hawk persona has some progressives feeling some bad deja vu” [Politico]. “Joe Biden spent the last two years pursuing and enacting massive domestic programs meant to remake the U.S. economy. But as he prepares a run for reelection, Biden is trying out a new economic persona: deficit hawk. The president has made a fresh effort to sell his administration as a model of fiscal restraint in recent weeks, casting falling deficits as an increasingly central focus of his agenda. Biden now routinely touts a $1.7 trillion drop in the deficit on his watch as a top accomplishment. When the president releases his new proposed budget next week, he is expected to call for another $2 trillion in cuts over a decade. ‘My economic plan is working,’ Biden said in a speech last week, peppering his remarks with more than a dozen references to the deficit. ‘It’s reducing the deficit. It’s fiscally responsible.’” • Why not try bleeding and purging?


“Democrat wants more Biden challengers in the primaries: ‘This is not a dictatorship’” [FOX]. “CNN panelist and former Democratic state senator Nina Turner called on other Democrats to jump in the race on Sunday as President Biden has still not officially announced his re-election bid. ‘I think the problem that Democrats are going to face is that Biden is not without risk,’ CNN political commentator Kristen Soltis Anderson said. ‘He would be the oldest man elected president. There are moments when he seems feisty and ready to fight Republicans, and there are moments that do leave doubts in the minds of voters who are watching.’ She added that Democrats ‘have to be a little nervous’ about if it isn’t Biden. ‘There’s no need to be nervous, I mean, people should just jump in. Let’s jump in,’ Turner said.” • Hmm. Burning a few bridges, here?

“Year three of Warren’s health care plan looks completely ridiculous now” [Carl Beijer]. “Recall that while Sanders insisted on passing the entire program in a single bill, Warren decided that it would be clever to split her agenda in two. First she would begin pass a public option, ‘and then follow up with legislation to end existing employer plans by her third year in office, once the new system has a foothold.’ So if Sanders had won, we the fight for Medicare for All would have already been won or lost. It would have played out in early 2021 when he was still in the honeymoon phase of his presidency, with America still laser-focused on surviving the pandemic, with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, and a year before the US started throwing billions of dollars into the war in Ukraine. Now consider where we’d be at with Warren. Best case scenario: in the same situation as Bernie, she would have won an equally ferocious fight, though with just a public option to show for it. Then Russia invades Ukraine and Republicans start complaining about how that, along with the public option, are breaking the budget. Then Republicans win back the House. Then, having spent two years tarring Warren as a big-government communist, the GOP puts forward a resolution denouncing ‘socialism in all of its forms’ and opposing ‘the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.’ Over 75% of the House votes for it, including a majority of House Democrats. Do even people who support Warren actually think, in this political environment, that she’s be picking a fight over abolishing the private health insurance industry?” • Not that I’m bitter over that 🐍 Warren sinking her fangs into Bernie’s back in 2020, no, of course not. I’m filing this here because Warren might be nutty enough to think she can run again.

And speaking of 🐍s:

So the concept here is what? To extend the Empire’s life by breaking up defense monopolies?

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“WA lawmakers work to keep public records from the public — again” [CrossCut (PI)]. “This is the untold story about how the Washington Legislature has spent more than 15 years trying to consolidate its power in an effort to make sure it can keep secrets from the public. The way Washington lawmakers are refusing to share the content of their own emails, texts and memos – despite a state law requiring their disclosure – is not a new concept. When questioned about their use of a legislative privilege – which has not yet been granted to them by the courts or in state law – House and Senate leaders go back in history to a centuries-old practice from England. Legislative privilege is a concept in at least 43 other states, they say, and it is grounded in the Washington Constitution’s Freedom of Debate clause.” • “Legislative privilege? Huh? A long and detailed account.


Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!

• Readers, since the national data systems in the United States are being vandalized, let’s start collecting links to state data, too. If readers would send me links (see Plant below) to their favorite State and local dashboards/wastewater sites, that would be great. Canadians, too! Or leave a link in Comments.

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Resources, United States (Local): CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OR (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, RL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27/50 (54% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

If a hospital or clinic tries to force you to take off your N95 and replace it with one of their crap surgical masks, here is a thread that explains what you can do:

I don’t regard the CDC as a reliable authority, but the HCWs might, so for tactical purposes…

Covid Is Airborne

“Thanks to saliva, infectious coronavirus particles linger twice as long in drier air” (press release) [EurekAlert]. “[A]irborne particles carrying a mammalian coronavirus closely related to the virus which causes COVID-19 remain infectious for twice as long in drier air, in part because the saliva emitted with them serves as a protective barrier around the virus, especially at low humidity levels. The study carries major implications for not only the current COVID-19 pandemic, but potentially for all infectious diseases transmitted by saliva-coated viruses. The research also further emphasizes the importance of managing indoor air filtration and ventilation to mitigate airborne disease spread, especially for buildings in arid states such as Colorado, dry enclosed environments like airplane cabins and during dry winter months in temperate climates worldwide.” • Hmm. I’m not sure how to mitigate this. Humidifiers? Do any readers use them? (Wood stoves and steam heat make the indoor air pretty dry too, at least in New England, which is why I leave a lot of water on top of them…).

“Air changes per hour, Flow per person, Flow per area. What is the right metric for clean air?” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. “Measuring the amount of clean air begins with determining a clean air delivery rate (CADR) or non-infectious air delivery rate (NADR). … The danger of any airborne pollutant is related to the inhaled dose, which is directly correlated with the concentration of the pollutant in the air and the length of time spent inhaling it. The concentration of pollutants is influenced by the rate at which they are generated and removed. By increasing the rate at which pollutants are removed, either through ventilation, filtration or UV light, the concentration in the air is reduced, and the inhaled dose is decreased. If the pollutant is an infectious disease, reducing the inhaled dose will lower the risk of infection. The question then becomes, what CADR is required to reduce the concentration of airborne contaminants to acceptable levels? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as different contaminants and spaces require different levels of clean air.” • Well worth a read.

Angst among school parents; see the comments on the thread:

Same angst, but with more angst:

Welcome to the Third World, where you can’t discuss clean air in the schools without being hit by a power failure.


If the poster were not Dutch, I would say this was another example of American-style tinkering:

Again, I think replaceable filter shapes should be standardized, like safety razor blades. That will really help make a market for better masks. Manufacturers can compete on mask design and filter composition, without trying for “lock-in” — it never gets old, does it? — with proprietary filter shapes. After all, if standard filters make switching costs between replaceable masks low, that means you can take business away from your competitors, too!

“LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) Reviewed.” [The Technovore]. A powered mask with H13 HEPA graded filters. “I’m going right out and saying that the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is hands down the best mask I’ve used in the past few years. I’ve tried masks with valves, I’ve tried regular cloth masks, I’ve worn N94-rated masks…Hell, I’ve even work CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) masks during my NS training. Don’t forget, I also reviewed the Phillips Fresh Air Mask… .The mask is simply in a league of its own. The Face Guard secures your face really well and there’s a LOT of room inside that you’re never left feeling suffocated. Taking in deep breaths is no issue at all as there’s lot of room and the sensors in the mask automatically (more in this later) draw in as much air as you require.” • This (by no means a product endorsement) looks like very interesting technology. The battery works for eight hours, so you’d need three for a really long-haul flight.

Elite Malfeasance

All the elites ultimately did this, globally. China too:

* * *

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from February 27:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

• How many infections are reinfections:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 28:

-1.0%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,145,415 – 1,144,368 = 1047 (1047 * 365 = 382,155 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). Big jump because I missed yesterday.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States fell for a second consecutive month to 43.6 in February of 2023 from 44.3 in January. Figures came lower than market forecasts of 45, pointing to another contraction in economic activity in the Chicago region, which extended for a sixth straight month.”

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics].

* * *

Transport: “Union Pacific CEO to leave after push from activist shareholder” [CNN]. “Union Pacific shares jumped 10% in premarket trading Monday after the railroad company announced CEO Lance Fritz, 60, will leave the company by year-end, following a call by an activist hedge fund for his ouster. Union Pacific just reported a record profit for the second straight year. But the hedge fund, Soroban Capital Partners, put out a statement saying that Fritz had lost the confidence of ‘shareholders, employees, customers, and regulators.’ UNP’s total shareholder return has been the worst in the industry,’ said Soroban’s letter to the board. ‘Among all S&P 500 companies, UNP is rated by employees as the worst place to work and has the lowest employee CEO approval rating (ranked 500th out of 500 in both),’ said the letter. And it said that the Surface Transportation Board, one of the regulators of freight railroads, ranked Union Pacific as providing the worst service among the major railroads.” • So the activists like the profits of Precision Scheduled Railroading, just not the inevitable consequences: Bad labor relations and customer dissatisfaction. I guess we will see if the new CEO can square that circle.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 28 at 12:21 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

The Gallery

Musical interlude:

Reminds me of this, for some reason:

Different styles, though!

Groves of Academe

“The End of the English Major” [The New Yorker]. “‘Young people are very, very concerned about the ethics of representation, of cultural interaction—all these kinds of things that, actually, we think about a lot!’ Amanda Claybaugh, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education and an English professor, told me last fall. She was one of several teachers who described an orientation toward the present, to the extent that many students lost their bearings in the past. ‘The last time I taught ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ I discovered that ,’ she said. ‘Their capacities are different, and the nineteenth century is a long time ago.’” • Why not just say they can’t read?

Class Warfare

“Hamstrung by ‘golden handcuffs’: Diversity roles disappear 3 years after George Floyd’s murder inspired them” [NBC]. • That didn’t take long.

News of the Wired

“iPad dispute on train: Man blasts ‘Friends’ sitcom in quiet section, disturbing woman at work” [FOX]. The woman’s tactic: “The woman on Reddit wrote that it ‘was so bizarre and annoying, but my friend just gestured for me to stay calm and leave it. So I closed my laptop and started watching with him. And commenting…. The woman said that as she now watched along with the man, she said to him, ‘Omg, I love this bit!’ She also said to him, ‘Watch the next part, it’s soooooo funny.’ She said she continued her running commentary, also saying to him, ‘Oh, is this the one where X happens?’” • Which worked; the dude flounced off. He got off easy, in my book. The quiet car is the quiet car.

“A Visit to Third Man Records Reveals the Remarkably Analog Process of Cutting Vinyl Records” (video) [Colossal]. “From adding the finicky lacquer coating to etching the matrix number by hand, the undertaking requires at least 14 steps before the album is packed and shipped, and each record passes through numerous sets of hands on the production floor. As the music industry becomes increasingly digital, the cutting process remains remarkably analog. ‘Vinyl is in the real world. It’s not something that exists only on your computer or your phone. It’s three-dimensional,’ says one of the pressing plant’s engineers.”

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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 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 CanCyn:

CanCyn writes: “Our snow covered vegetable plot. The rain barrel to the left is not a mistake, I included on purpose. We have a little system that pumps water from the rain barrels at the house to this one. At the back you can see my half finished pseudo wattle fence. Iron posts and saplings (from clearing woods for paths) instead of willow.”

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