ECONOMY

2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Snow Partridge, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India.

* * *

Politics

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

The Constitutional Order

Everybody into the pool:

This pair of tweets is especially humorous because proponents of the idea that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is “self-executing” believe that disqualifying a candidate because of their age is conceptually and operationally equal to disqualifying them as an insurrectionist. Yet here we have California’s Lieutenant Governor butchering the simple matter of age requirements. (Note also the importance of the end run round the finding of fact in the Colorado case; that the events of January 6 were an insurrection, and that Trump is an insurrectionist, is now treated as a given, even though there’s a Federal law on the books against insurrection, and neither the Justice Department nor any Special Prosecutor have charged or convicted Trump under it.)

“Texas leader wants Biden kicked off state’s 2024 ballot over immigration” [Washington Times]. “Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Tuesday that President Biden should be taken off the 2024 ballot for causing an illegal immigration crisis…. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a law earlier this week that allows for the prosecution of migrants coming into the state illegally. Under the law, anyone who enters the country illegally from Mexico can be arrested. Once arrested, they can either leave the U.S. or be charged with misdemeanors. Mr. Patrick said the Texas Senate spent a lot of time writing the bill, and he believes it will ‘survive any type of Supreme Court challenge because we are being invaded.’” • Not sure I see the theory of the case here, but doubtless The Lege can come up with something…

“Republicans float booting Biden off state ballots after Trump ruling” [New York Post]. “While condemning the Colorado decision, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pondered aloud what the limiting principle would be for that policy. ‘Could we just say that Biden can’t be on the ballot because he let in 8 million illegals into the country, and violated the Constitution?’ he asked Wednesday at a campaign event in Iowa. ‘If Colorado is taking Trump off the ballot, Florida and Texas should take Biden off the ballot,’ conservative influencer Rogan O’Handley said. ‘Allowing 8M+ illegal aliens into America is the greatest form of insurrection[.] See how slippery this slope gets?’” • Funny to see terms like “limiting principle” pop up in the New York Post. But I think (see “gingerly” immediately below) that the Republicans have managed to get hold of the right end of the stick on this. I’ve noticed, for example, that the broader the definition of “insurrection” is made — presumably to catch Trump — the more other cases get caught up in it. Again, were the George Floyd riots really an insurrection? Why not?

“The Mainstream Against Democracy” [The American Conservative]. “The most pertinent and intriguing question is this: What would things have looked like if, instead of choosing the path of lawfare and #Resistance, mainstream parties had sought to accommodate populist voters and/or offer them an even more enticing vision of what the future might look like? That’s the question posed, most acutely, by progressive critics of the Colorado decision, including Samuel Moyn, Sam Haselby, and Ben Burgis, among many others. Their point, addressing the left from the left, is that the Trump phenomenon is a political problem. If you don’t like him, you had better offer a compelling alternative around which an enduring national majority might coalesce. Keeping Trump off the ballot in Colorado (and perhaps elsewhere), writes Moyn, ‘transforms what ought to be a national referendum on the future of the country into a national spectacle of how judges will interpret a provision from its past.’ Such a move might—emphasis on might—save Joe Biden, but it would come at great cost: an unprecedented national explosion. And in the end, it couldn’t save the Democrats—or establishment Republicans, for that matter—’from their nonnegotiable responsibility to win power by winning elections.’” • Not only do I not love Trump, I’m not a conservative; democratizing capital allocation is hardly a conservative agenda item. So I get near them pretty gingerly. But here we are. Quoting from the article:

And:

It’s hard to imagine anything more “reckless” than setting a precedent for Democrat electeds and appointees to remove Republican candidates from the ballot on anything other than mechanical grounds (age, citizenship, etc.). What happens when Republicans start doing the same to Democrats? Only a Federalist Society member from the University of Chicago would think nothing of opening a Pandora’s box like that.

Capitol Seizure

“You saw it all”:

“Self-evident,” if you are a liberal Democrat:

“Self-evident,” if you are not:

Biden Administration

The spooks send a message:

Slotkin, Spanberger, and Sherrill are also CIA Democrats. Moulton’s PAC backs them.

2024

Less than a year to go!

* * *

“On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari Before Judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit” (PDF) [BRIEF OF FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL EDWIN MEESE III AND LAW PROFESSORS STEVEN G. CALABRESI AND GARY S. LAWSON AS AMICI CURIAE SUPPORTING NEITHER PARTY, UNITED STATES, In the Supreme Court of the United States]. Ed Meese? What? Anyhow: “The illegality addressed in this brief started on November 18, 2022, when Attorney General Merrick Garland exceeded his statutory and constitutional authority by purporting to appoint Smith to serve as Special First, the Appointments Clause requires that all federal offices “not otherwise provided for” in the Constitution must be “established by Law,” U.S. Const. art. II, §2, cl. 2, and there is no statute establishing the Office of Special Counsel in DOJ.Counsel for the Department of Justice (DOJ). … First, the Appointments Clause requires that all federal offices ‘not otherwise provided for’ in the Constitution must be ‘established by Law,’ U.S. Const.

art. II, §2, cl. 2, and there is no statute establishing the Office of Special Counsel in DOJ. The statutory provisions relied upon by DOJ and lower courts for the appointment of special counsels over the past half century do not authorize the creation and appointment of special counsels at the level of United States Attorneys. And United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), does not hold to the contrary, because no question was ever raised in that case about the validity of the independent counsel’s appointment…. Second, even if one overlooks the absence of statutory authority for the position, there is no statute specifically authorizing the Attorney General, rather than the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint such a Special Counsel…. Third, the Special Counsel, if a valid officer, is a superior (or principal) rather than inferior officer, and thus cannot be appointed by any means other than presidential appointment and senatorial confirmation regardless of what any statutes purport to say….. What federal statutes and the Constitution do not allow, however, is for the Attorney General to appoint a private citizen, who has never been confirmed by the Senate, as a substitute United States Attorney under the title “Special Counsel.” That is what happened on November 18, 2022. That appointment was unlawful, as are all the legal actions that have flowed from it, including citizen Smith’s current attempt to obtain a ruling from this Court.” • Smith was indeed a “private citizen” (chief prosecutor for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague) at the time of his appointment. So there’s that.

“Jack Smith added a Supreme Court specialist. Trump has the Missouri lawyer who sued Joe Biden” [Politico]. The deck: “A large experience gap is emerging as the special counsel and the former president assemble their Supreme Court teams.” • Yes, lawyers, as a class, decided that Trump didn’t deserve representation and closed ranks against Trump long ago (with the result that Trump can’t get good help, and we get clowns like Guiliani or the kraken lady). One imagines the perplexity and mistrust at the Court, but perhaps they will find a way to overcome it. And one might also urge that the worse your case, the better your lawyer must be….

“Jack Smith To SCOTUS: Yes, There Absolutely Is A Reason To Rush Trump’s Case” [HuffPost]. “The Washington, D.C., criminal case against Trump is set for trial starting on March 4. However, Trump’s appeal of Chutkan’s ruling denying him immunity has put a hold on proceedings. Smith went directly to the Supreme Court last week to skip over the intermediate federal appeals court. Neither Smith nor Trump’s lawyers have put in writing one unique feature of the case: Trump, if he regains the presidency before the trial is concluded, is almost certain to order the Department of Justice to dismiss all federal charges against him.”

“Jack Smith urges swift and ‘definitive’ action from the Supreme Court on Trump’s immunity claim” [Independent]. Theory of the case: “Prosecutors have argued that the former president knowingly false [to whom?} claims about the election to state officials to fraudulent slates of electors to the certification of the results, then then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse the outcome, and, ultimately, a mob of his supporters from rioting at the US Capitol on January 6.” • I have always thought that the “contingent electors” attack was the most dangerous one politically, simply because it looks very much like some innocent true believers got suckered into the process. Not good! But if you look at the verbs and adverbs in that sentence, none of the links in the chain — helpfully underlined — are especially strong. “Failed to persuade” is especially weak. The Capitol Riots were not the Finland Station, not even close.

* * *

“The grifter defense: The Bidens move to embrace influence peddling with a twist” [Jonathan Turley]. “The FBI tape is the latest example of how the Bidens would market their name and access. The surveillance occurred in the bribery investigation into Mississippi trial attorney Richard Scruggs. Like many Biden associates, Scruggs would eventually go to prison while the Bidens remained untouched. Scruggs forked over $100,000 to James Biden when he was seeking to reinforce support for the massive tobacco legislation and Joe Biden was viewed as skeptical on what some viewed as a windfall for trial lawyers. Scruggs admitted to the Washington Post that ‘I probably wouldn’t have hired [James Biden] if he wasn’t the senator’s brother.’ Scruggs was just another shady figure whose business association with the Bidens would ultimately end with a prison stint. As soon as the tape came out, so did the new defense. James Biden took the money but allegedly did nothing to land his brother. If that sounds familiar, it should. After Hunter Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer admitted that they were selling the ‘Biden brand,’ the Bidens’ defenders immediately insisted that it was merely ‘illusory.’ In other words, these corrupt figures wanted to buy influence and access, but they were just chumps fleeced by the Bidens. The idea is to get the public to think less of coked up Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’ and more of the lovable professor Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man,’ the charming rascal ripping off hayseeds by selling marching bands. It is a curious defense that we are not corrupt because we just ripped off dupes who were corrupt people. The problem, of course, is that influence peddling is a form of corruption. Indeed, it is a form of corruption that is so damaging to good government that the United States has pushed global agreements to ban influence peddling in other countries. The question is whether Joe Biden knew about the influence peddling of his brothers and his son.” • Hard to imagine not; everybody did. I mean, there’s Hunter, swanning about, making “casual” calls to Dad from bizness meetings. Grant that Hunter is selling “the illusion of access.” How does Dad not know the score?

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.

* * *

For one glorious moment under the Trump administration, we had something approaching a welfare state:

And then Biden was elected. (Regardless of how you feel about vax, the vax program was in fact single payer: Free at the point of care. Dangerous!)

The Democrats must believe, deeply believe, that “keep fighting for” is effective rhetoric:

And maybe it is, but not the way that they think…

Realignment and Legitimacy

#COVID19

“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Scientific Communication

Or the communication that flourishes in the absence of scientific communication:

I hate that “mind virus” term but there’s no question it names a real phenomenon, even if the mechanism is (?) off:

Just as sensible as “immunity debt,” invented, IIRC, by bent pediatricians in the UK, just as “mild” emerged out of the media’s quantum foam in South Africa, and was suddenly everywhere.

Infection

“Does COVID prefer the gut now? Surging virus detections in wastewater prompt scientific debate” [Bloomberg]. “Spiking COVID-19 cases detected in wastewater have prompted some scientists to ask whether JN.1, the strain driving an explosive winter surge, is selectively targeting peoples’ intestinal tracts. The evidence is extremely limited and theoretical, and there’s no data suggesting that more people are experiencing severe digestive illnesses from COVID. Yet there’s no question that the coronavirus has changed its requirements for entering cells, said Sydney virologist Stuart Turville. This may be consistent with more efficient infection of particular tissues including the gut. It’s just one of the many debates swirling around JN.1. The variant is so highly infectious and immune evasive that some scientists believe it needs its own Greek name to separate it from its highly infectious progenitor, omicron…. JN.1 is the fastest-growing variant to emerge in the past two years. The World Health Organization designated it a variant of interest Tuesday due to its rapid growth and potential to add to the respiratory virus burden in the Northern Hemisphere. “People are detecting it in wastewater at as high a rate as they were detecting omicron when it first emerged,” said Kanta Subbarao, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, who chairs the agency’s technical advisory group on COVID vaccine composition. ‘But so far, we’re not seeing a parallel or concomitant increase in hospitalization. I think we have to watch that space.’” • No “concomitant increase in hospitalization” may be true in Australia. It’s certainly not true in the hard hit UK, and I don’t think it’s true in New York, at least (see below). We know from the CDC’s traveler program that the JN.1 varaint has been increasing and now dominates at airports; and since New York is major interational hub, it makes sense it would spread from there. That was also the pattern in 2020…

Sequelae

“Study helps explain post-COVID exercise intolerance” (press release) [Yale].

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

* * *

Elite Maleficence

WHO and CDC no longer in lockstep to oblivion:

“States are trashing troves of masks and pandemic gear as huge, costly stockpiles linger and expire” [Associated Press]. • Nice timing! Those who do not learn from the past….

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, December 18:

Lambert here: As a totally “gut feel” tapewatcher, I would expect this peak to meet or exceed the two previous Biden peaks; after all, we haven’t really begun the next bout of holiday travel, or the next rounds of celebrations. Plus students haven’t come from from school, and then returned. So a higher peak seems pretty much “baked in.” And that’s before we get to new variants, like JN.1. The real thing to watch is the slope of the curve. If it starts to go vertical, and if it keeps on doing so, then hold onto your hats. (Next week’s reading, however, is Christmas Day; there may well be a data-driven drop.) Stay safe out there! Only 14 superspreading days until Christmas!

Regional data:

Hard to see why the regional split (and it sure would be nice to have more granular data). Weather forcing Northerners indoors? Seems facile. There’s snow in the Rockies (green color, West), for example.

Variants

NOT UPDATED From CDC, December 9:

Lambert here: JN.1, shown on the NowCast for the first time, coming up fast on the outside, while BA.2.86 fades.

From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, December 16:

Lambert: Return to upward movement. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

Hospitalization

Bellwether New York City, data as of December 20:

Lambert here: Upward spike confirmed, and concerning.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 9:

Moving ahead briskly!

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?

Positivity

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, December 18:

-0.3%. Down. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, December 16:

Lambert here: Plateauing. I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, November 27:

Turning upward.

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 27:

BA.2.86 blasting upward. This would be a great early warning system, if the warning were in fact early instead of weeks late, good job, CDC.

Deaths

NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 9:

Stats Watch

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The American economy expanded an annualized 4.9% in the third quarter of 2023, slightly below 5.2% in the second estimate, but matching the 4.9% initially reported in the advance estimate. It still marks the strongest growth since Q4 2021.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged higher by 2,000 to 205,000 on the week ending December 16th, holding close to the two-month low of 203 hit in the previous week and well below market expectations of 215,000.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US declined to -10.5 in December 2023 from -5.9 in the prior month and far worse than market estimates of -3. This is the index’s 17th negative reading in the past 19 months. ”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production index was at -4 in December of 2023, little changed from -3 in the previous month. there was an increase in activity for nondurable goods, specifically food & beverage and plastics manufacturing. Conversely, there was a slight decline in activity for durable goods, mainly due to primary metal and furniture manufacturing. The production, shipments, and new orders indexes all had slightly negative values, while employment activity experienced a rebound. Moreover, after several stagnant months, inventories for raw materials and finished goods witnessed a minor increase.”

* * *

Intellectual Property: “2024’s public domain is a banger” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “They stole something from you. For decades, they stole it. That thing they stole? Your entire culture. For all of human history, works created in living memory entered the public domain every year. 40 years ago, that stopped. First in 1976, and then again in 1998, Congress retroactively extended copyright’s duration by 20 years, for all works, including works whose authors were unknown and long dead, whose proper successors could not be located. Many of these authors were permanently erased from history as every known copy of their works disappeared before they could be brought back into our culture through reproduction, adaptation and re-use (copyright is “strict liability,” meaning that even if you pay to clear the rights to a work from someone who has good reason to believe they control those rights, if they’re wrong, you are on the hook as an infringer, and the statutory damages run to six figures). Works that are still in our cultural currents 50 or 70 or 90 years after their creation are an infinitesimal fraction of all the works we create as a species. But these works are – by definition – extraordinarily important to our culture. The creators who made these works were able to plunder a rich public domain of still-current works as inputs to their own enduring creations. The slow-motion arson attack on the public domain meant that two generations of creators were denied the public domain that every other creator in the history of the human race had enjoyed.” •

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Extreme Greed (previous close: 71 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 21 at 1:17:07 PM ET.

The Gallery

Wow:

The blur of the ink gives a sense of motion to the fish.

Class Warfare

“$750 a month, no questions asked, improved the lives of homeless people” [Los Angeles Times]. “If 100 homeless people were given $750 per month for a year, no questions asked, what would they spend it on? That question was at the core of a controlled study conducted by a San Francisco-based nonprofit and the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The results were so promising that the researchers decided to publish results after only six months. The answer: food, 36.6%; housing, 19.5%; transportation, 12.7%; clothing, 11.5%; and healthcare, 6.2%, leaving only 13.6% uncategorized…. ‘I spent a lot of the money on food on the go,’ one participant told the researchers. ‘Simple, cheap things like bean and cheese burritos. I eat on the run while I bike/work for DoorDash. I also bought a membership to REI, so I could get my bike fixed for free.’” • Homeless DoorDash workers….

News of the Wired

“Geologists say plastic rocks are now a thing” [ZME Science]. “Unlike traditional sedimentary rocks like limestone or sandstone, plastistone is a hybrid of natural rock and synthetic plastic. This combination occurs when plastic waste becomes intertwined with natural rock elements, leading to a unique geological formation. The process of lithification, which turns loose sediment into solid rock, is at play here, incorporating plastic as part of the rock matrix. Plastistones have been found on a global scale, both in coastal and inland regions, the two researchers say. They form through the fusion of natural rock and plastic waste — a startling indicator of human impact on the planet…. ‘In this context, we propose the adoption of an existing term ‘plastistone’ with a revised definition to collectively describe these novel plastic forms,’ write Liuwei Wang and Deyi Hou from Tsinghua University.” • And speaking of rocks–

“New nuclear deflection simulations advance planetary defense against asteroid threats” [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory]. “Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a modeling tool for assessing the potential use of a nuclear device to defend the planet against catastrophic asteroid impacts…. Nuclear devices have the highest ratio of energy density per unit of mass of any human technology, making them an invaluable tool in mitigating asteroid threats, said LLNL physicist Mary Burkey, who led the research…. ‘If we have enough warning time, we could potentially launch a nuclear device, sending it millions of miles away to an asteroid that is headed toward Earth,’ Burkey said. ‘We would then detonate the device and either deflect the asteroid, keeping it intact but providing a controlled push away from Earth, or we could disrupt the asteroid, breaking it up into small, fast-moving fragments that would also miss the planet.’” • Glad we’ve got that covered….

* * *

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 Desert Dawg:

Desert Dawg writes: “My daughter sent this photo of the tree that she walks by every day while walking her dogs. Its unique shape is sort of similar to to mine. We both like non normal things I guess.”

* * *

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