2:00PM Water Cooler 1/2/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had intended to use the New Year’s break to revise the Water Cooler template, incorporating many of your helpful suggestions for improvement. But “If you want to make the Gods laugh, tell Them your plans!” The revisions are coming, I promise. –lambert

And also patient readers, I took a call from a sick friend in the middle of writing, so orts and scraps will be ortier and scrappier –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Mourning Dove, Finger Lakes NF–Horton Pasture and Interloken Trail, Seneca, New York, United States.

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“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

“Axelrod says he thinks it ‘would rip the country apart’ if Trump were prevented from running” [The Hill]. “Former Obama adviser David Axelrod warned Friday that a court decision removing former President Trump from the primary ballot “would rip the country apart” as legal questions mount over his candidate qualification… ‘I have very, very strong reservations about all of this,’ Axelrod said in an ‘Erin Burnett OutFront’ interview on CNN. ‘I do think it would rip the country apart if he were actually prevented from running because tens of millions of people want to vote for him.’”… ‘We’ve run this experiment, he’s only gained since he started getting indicted,’ [Axelrod] continued. ‘What you thought might be kryptonite for him has turned out to be battery packs, and this is a big one for him.’” • Presumably, Axelrod is The Mouth of Sauron speaking for The Wizard of Kalorama™, who presumbly has an alternative to Biden in mind. But how?

“Will Trump’s disqualification case be Bush v. Gore for 2024?” [The Hill]. “The flap all started with an influential August 2023 law review article coauthored by conservative constitutional scholars William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, which analyzed every bit of the history, structure, text and original understanding of Section 3 — and concluded that Trump was disqualified.” Already the Democrats are rewriting history; the “flap” began immediately after Biden’s inaugural, as I show here. More: “The justices might find that there is insufficient evidence that Trump ‘engaged in an insurrection,’ but to do this they would have to deny the Colorado findings as well as incontestable facts — based largely on Trump’s statements, tweets and conduct ­— that are generally accepted by a majority of the American public. We all witnessed it in real time.” • Ah, so that’s the liberal Democrat conception of due process. Good to know.


Less than a year to go!

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“The Year We Stopped Being Able to Pretend About Trump” [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]. Not “the royal ‘we’,” the PMC “we.” “But the past few years of Trump, Trump, Trump have taught me, if nothing else, that hoping for the best is not necessarily a winning strategy. With American democracy on the line, I’m taking the only defensible position toward the New Year: full-scale dread. I plan to pull up the covers and hide under my pillow as long as possible come January. It’s going to be a long twelve months.” • 2024 – 2016 = 8 years of daily hysteria, and only now they stop “pretending”? RussiaGate was pretending?

“Trump’s courtroom and campaign trail collision is about to become a reality” [CNN]. “Trump’s double political and legal life in the next few weeks will coincide with the intensifying effort by his Republican rivals to thwart his march toward a third consecutive Republican nomination…. Any Iowa victory party on January 15 could, meanwhile, be soured for Trump the next day with the opening of the trial to set damages in the second lawsuit brought against him by E. Jean Carroll…. The outcome of the appeals court action on Trump’s immunity claim will be especially important in establishing whether the current start date for his federal election interference trial will slip past March 4 – which is the day before Super Tuesday. That could then reshuffle the schedules of the other judges and will help determine whether Trump will actually face a criminal trial before November’s election.”

“The GOP’s most Trump-skeptical bloc starts falling in line” [Politico]. “Donald Trump is making serious headway with a bloc of the GOP that’s among the most skeptical of his 2024 bid: Republican senators. In some cases, Trump is breaking through thanks to the sort of personal attention that he’s known to lavish on allies and supporters. … Trump’s campaign for Capitol endorsements is accelerating as he nears the first GOP nominating contest in Iowa. He won five endorsements from Republican senators during December alone, after snagging just three of them over the preceding four months. So far, Trump’s secured 18 endorsements from the Senate GOP, a group that ranges from establishment-minded Republicans to confrontational conservatives who will be vocal allies if he wins another term. That success winning over the Hill GOP was hardly guaranteed — and comes just three years after Trump mounted a public campaign to overturn his 2020 loss that’s gotten him indicted on dozens of criminal charges. But a combination of behind-the-scenes courtships like that of Hoeven and the growing feeling of inevitability that Trump will win the nomination is peeling off Republican senators who might otherwise have longed for a new, less divisive standard-bearer. These days, many in the GOP see only upside to early support for Trump.”

“Steve Bannon Says ‘Big Fight’ Will Soon Take Place Over Direction of Trump Campaign: ‘They’re Gonna Try To Force Nikki on the Ticket’” [Mediaite]. Bannon: “They’re gonna try to force Nikki on the ticket. They’ll say Trump needs a woman, Nikki on the ticket, she balances things and she can bring together that 15% of Never Trumpers in the Republican party. We’re going to have to have that fight. If Nikki Haley is in this administration in any capacity, it will fail. She’s a viper. She’s a viper and once she gets in there, she’ll try to run it as prime minister. She’ll try to be Dick Cheney. Her to Trump will be just like Dick Cheney to Bush. That’s what she’ll try to do.”

“How Trump family Christmas photo reveals Barron is set for new public role: source” [New York Post]. “Barron Trump’s appearance in a family Christmas photo proves that Melania and former President Donald Trump are in ‘lockstep with one another,’ according to a well-placed source. The rarely seen 17-year-old posed for a holiday snapshot with his father, three of his siblings and other members of his extended family while his mom, Melania, was missing because she is caring for her sick mother, Amalija. But Barron’s appearance is ‘truly monumental,’ according to Melania’s former senior aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who told The Post we can expect to see more of the teen. Barron has deliberately been kept out of the spotlight by his ‘strategic’ mother, but was front and center in the photo posted by Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée, from Mar-a-Lago. Sources said Guilfoyle would never have posted the photo without • Hmm.

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“Seizure of Trump’s smartphone data puts special counsel in uncharted legal waters” [Washington Times]. “In court filings, Mr. Smith said a person identified as ‘Expert 3’ extracted and processed data from the White House cellphones of Mr. Trump and someone identified as ‘Individual 1.’ Individual 1 is believed to be former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as Mr. Trump‘s lawyer during the time. A spokesperson for Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment. The filing also says that Expert 3 ‘reviewed and analyzed data on the defendant’s phone and on Individual 1’s phone, including analyzing images found on the phones and websites visited.’ Earlier last year, it was revealed that Mr. Smith‘s team obtained location data and draft tweets from the president after a legal battle with Twitter, now known as X. The company attempted to block the prosecutor’s effort. The social media giant ultimately lost the court battle and handed over an extensive list of data related to Mr. Trump‘s account, including all tweets ‘crafted, drafted, favorited/liked or retweeted.’”

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“A fraying coalition: Black, Hispanic, young voters abandon Biden as election year begins” [USA Today]. “President Joe Biden heads into the election year showing alarming weakness among stalwarts of the Democratic base, with Donald Trump leading among Hispanic voters and young people. One in 5 Black voters now say they’ll support a third-party candidate in November. In a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, Biden’s failure to consolidate support in key parts of the coalition that elected him in 2020 has left him narrowly trailing Trump, the likely Republican nominee, 39%-37%; 17% support an unnamed third-party candidate…. Biden now claims the support of just 63% of Black voters, a precipitous decline from the 87% he carried in 2020, according to the Roper Center. He trails among Hispanic voters by 5 percentage points, 39%-34%; in 2020 he had swamped Trump among that demographic group 2 to 1, 65%-32%.”

“How the Biden campaign hopes to make 2024 less about Biden and more about a contrast with Trump” [CNN]. “Though multiple people involved tell CNN that many campaign operations remain bottlenecked, in the White House and in Wilmington, aides insist that interlocking plans have been taking shape for months. They push back on top donors, who griped to aides gathered at a pricey DC hotel in mid-December that the campaign does not seem to have a strategy beyond waiting to respond to Trump – and that it does not have a strategy at all if another candidate grabs the nomination. And they dismiss the many advocates and members of Congress who say they cannot pinpoint specifics about Biden’s agenda for a second term…. If Trump does become the Republican nominee, Biden aides say they will capitalize on the unique situation of a former president trying to return to the White House by putting the spotlight on parts of his record they believe voters find repulsive, as well as on promises he failed to deliver on in office. The word ‘receipts’ comes up a lot.” • I’ve got a receipt. It’s $600 short of what I thought it would be.

“‘They’ve written him off’: can Joe Biden beat Donald Trump again?” [Financial Times]. “Charlie Cook, a veteran non-partisan political analyst, said there were unnerving signs for Democrats that voters have soured on Biden for good, with little that the White House or the campaign will be able to do to shift sentiment. Biden’s approval ratings have been stubbornly negative for more than two years, since the late summer of 2021, Cook emphasised. ‘There seems to be virtually no elasticity there,’ he said. ‘I wonder whether people have just changed the channel — they’ve just written him off.’…. While many Democrats like to compare the 2024 election to 2012, when Barack Obama overcame a polling slump to win re-election, Cook warns that the 1968 and 1980 races offer better comparisons. Republicans won back the White House in both. ‘The mood is as sour as it was in 1980. And the country is even more divided than it was in 68,’ he said. ‘[Biden] has done enough to have a really outstanding legacy. But will his legacy be handing the White House back over to Donald Trump?’” • Hmm.

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“Republicans’ Narrow Control of House Sets Up Barnburner in 2024” [Wall Street Journal]. “David Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said the House election is of the most suspenseful ones he has seen at his point in the race, partly because the influence of the 2024 presidential race remains unclear…. With such a small split, every race is important. …. If Democrats emerge with control, they will have pulled off a rare win: The House hasn’t flipped during a presidential election year since 1952. Their targets include 18 GOP-held districts, mostly located in New York and California, that Biden won in 2020…. Cook Political’s current analysis shows that Republicans have stronger odds to keep the majority, and Democrats would need to win two of every three of the seats ranked as tossups to take the majority. Still, Wasserman said that scenario isn’t a stretch: In 2022, Democrats won three in every four tossup seats.” • Handy map:

“These Voters Will Decide the 2024 Election. They Don’t Like What They See.” [Wall Street Journal]. “Michigan’s Saginaw County, Pennsylvania’s Northampton County and New Hampshire’s Hillsborough County are three of just 25 U.S. counties that have backed the presidential winner in each of the past four elections, making them rare enclaves of partisan flexibility in a country where most places are firmly red or blue. They are among the seven such counties that sit inside hotly contested battleground states that will decide who wins the White House this year, places where the victor can hinge on a few hundred votes. Collectively, Americans in the 25 counties that have swung with the electorate on average have lower median incomes and lower levels of education than the U.S. on the whole, census data show. They are older, more likely to be white and disproportionately live in smaller cities and rural areas. A greater share are age 65 or over and draw retirement income as compared with the total U.S. Nearly half of these counties have seen their populations shrink in recent years. What most of these counties have in common is they are largely removed from America’s major economic and cultural power centers.” • Handy map:

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“An Almanac Publisher’s 2024 Prediction: ‘Tumultuous’” [New York Times]. “I ended 2023 the way I had ended 2022, with a call to the publishers of the ‘Pocket Chinese Almanac.’ A year ago, they saw hope. Not this time. ‘We looked at this year’s predictions, and we got alarmed,’ said Joanna Lee, who with her husband, Ken Smith, has published the little book annually since 2010. ‘This is going to be a tumultuous year.’ Smith and Lee call themselves publishers, translators and annotators — not authors — because the predictions in the ‘Pocket Chinese Almanac’ are from Warwick Wong, a geomancer in Hong Kong. In late 2019, months before the first coronavirus case was recorded in New York, Wong told the couple, ‘Find a safe place to hide — there’ll be a disaster.’ He did not specify what the disaster would be. He himself disappeared to a monastery, Lee said…. Wong’s calculations — which leads to a set of Chinese characters that amount to a horoscope — had revealed a lopsidedness to this year of the dragon: ‘All of the characters are yang,’ Lee said. ‘There’s no yin.’ Smith added, ‘This is not in balance, shall we say.’ Smith said yang is ‘the predominant male trait.’ ‘People will be inflexible,’ he said. Lee added: ‘Nobody’s going to listen. Everybody’s going to be stubborn.’” • So I guess neither Oprah nor Michelle will be running, then.

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:

d>. (“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.

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Why, it’s as if the legislative branch were a ginormous insider trading scheme:

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Grifters gotta grift:

From the data in the letter, this is an NGO money pit that collectively has accomplished exactly nothing (“fighting for”). And why the heck are NGOs even doing this? Wouldn’t a functional party take on such tasks?

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What Sanders might have tweeted:

Much improved, but what about ventilation? Does he want other people in his home to catch what he’s got?

More on Obama speechwriter and now podcaster Jon Favreau’s “brand of person” tweet:

And more:

Amazing how fast liberal Democrats pull the knives out of Bernie’s back when they see a chance to kick down on the disabled and Long Covid sufferers. These are not nice people at all.


“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!

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Alert reader paddlingwithoutboats throws the following over the transom (lightly edited for even more clarity and concision):

Reading the many interesting posts you’ve gathered on HICPAC, and a few days ago the US Mass Hospital recent mask policy outlines I came to a couple of conclusions that may be interesting.

Every system I’ve worked for has the equivalent of a PSLS; Patient Safety and Liability System. It is an ostensible bandaid to declare “See, we’re trying”! We workers are told we should use it to report patient safety issues so the institution can fix problems.

The reporting is online so not anonymous though the form asks if the person reporting wants to remain anonymous, I have direct evidence it does not protect the identity person reporting. It’s time consuming, about twenty minutes, so not used.

Thinking about this and the mask “a la cart game”, I decided that the masking structure Mass Hospital is putting up, which will become our own too with a few subtle evolutions, is really about ways to evade the spirit of masking but still protect the employer from litigation and liability.

In the Mass Hospital example hallways are anonymous so no one could reasonably pin point a source of covid transmission there, it’s wafting all thru, therefore no masks in hallways.

However, in patient rooms there is a greater chance of connecting the infected with the vulnerable so masks in rooms. They see each other.

Mask policy no longer by pennies but by lawyering. Staff not held to masking ’cause we’re disposable and prey to system demands.

Originally with the onset of covid there was a document announcing that if we felt a situation was risky but continued then it would be seen as volunteering to do that risk. No longer potentially covered by workman’s comp et cetera. We chose.

When the original alertness to the dangers of covid arrived, there was no, zero, auditing of compliance to the masking policy then in place. But when ‘covid’s over’ arrived, the managers and supervisors personally toured the departments multiple times to put up posters, hallelujah, announcing no more masking and to go about individually querying staff (not doctors) about their understanding there is no mask policy now.

Long before that phase, the institution’s personal spreadsheets began stuffing covid negative patients into rooms with covid positive patients. This year in March, forty percent of covid positive patients got it thru interaction with the healthcare system, hospital acquired.

So my theory, if you care to mess with it, is that .

I have muttered about liability issues before; it does seem to be more of a driver than masks as a budget line item (though possibly less than the social capital invested in droplet dogma). So it’s excellent to get this detailed portrait of hospital infection control in action in a given facility. Readers, do any of you have similar experiences?

A sensible CEO:

“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.

* * *

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, December 23:

Lambert here: Still going up. 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.

Regional data:

Regional split continues.

• Lambert here: Holy moley, we’re in the New Year, but the brain geniuses in charge of our public health system seem to have shut down wastewater data for the holidays, precisely when the potential for spread is greatest [pounds head on desk]. I checked the Verily dashboard and it’s as horrid as ever. Here’s the CDC’s map, last updated on December 25:

100% (red) means “highest ever.” Obviously, this map isn’t important to CDC, or they would have reworked it in soothing pastel colors.

• Lambert here: This is the Boston-area MWRA wastewater data:

This data is old, too. But as you can see, the level is high. Boston is a college town, and this is before “the students come back”! So expect a spike.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, December 23:

Lambert here: JN.1 now dominates. That was fast.

From CDC, December 9:

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 23:

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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of December 29:

Lambert here: I still don’t like the slope of that curve, and notice we’re approaching previous peak levels (granted, not 2020 or 2022, but respectable).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 23:

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?


Lambert here: Notice that for both Walgreens and the Cleveland Clinic, that although the percentage of positives is stable, the absolute numbers have greatly increased; Walgreen’s doubled. This speaks well of people; they’re getting tested before the holidays (and in face of a shit*tstorm barrage of propaganda and peer pressure to minimize, too).

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, December 26:

-2.3%. 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.)

From Cleveland Clinic, December 30:

Lambert here: Percentage plateaued. Absolute numbers steadily increasing.

From CDC, traveler’s data, December 11:

Turning down.

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 4:

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


NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 16:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 2 at 3:25:16 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Volcanoes. “A volcano erupts in Iceland after weeks of quake activity” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • What are they waiting for? A red heifer?

The Gallery

“How Camille Pissarro Went from Mediocrity to Magnificence” [The New Yorker}. “Yet [the Impressionists], having found themselves as a group in the café, became tested as a group only in exile. In 1870 and 1871, during and after the Franco-Prussian War and the bloody assault on the Paris Commune, many painters who could get out of France did so. (Manet stayed, making cool records of the massacre of the Communards.) Pissarro, whose official citizenship was Danish, exempting him from the mandatory Army service that French citizens were subject to, fled to England with Julie, joining Monet, Sisley, and the more academic Impressionist James Tissot. It was as if they were unconsciously creating in London the experience that generations of English and American painters would find in Paris: they remade their art in shared exile. During those London years, two things happened that would fuel all the rest. First, as Pissarro would emphasize, the painters were exposed to the late work of J. M. W. Turner, the oils and watercolors both. Turner’s nearly abstract but always high-keyed red and gold and violet landscapes fired the liberation of color that was integral to the Impressionist enterprise. Bright color had effectively been banished from painting for more than two centuries, as an enemy of form; the outdoor paintings of the so-called Barbizon school tended to be depressingly dark. But Turner used color in ways that were idiosyncratic to him and had been invisible in France. Subsequent commentators underplayed this crucial bridge between London and Paris, in part because it interpolates a Romantic element into the evolution of Impressionism, which sits uneasily with the simpler story of the painter in dialogue with nature. It mattered little that Turner’s color arose from Romantic rhapsody rather than from empirical investigation; in Pissarro’s reckoning, Turner was ‘perhaps the first who knew how to make colors blaze with a natural brilliance.’ Second, in a way that was just as important although more prosaic, the London exile saw the emergence of Paul Durand-Ruel as possibly the first entirely modern art dealer.” • I always thought the Impressionists and Turner were similar, but I never knew there was direct influence. Interesting! But doesn’t mention Bourdieu, who wrote a whole book on Manet. Bad form!

News of the Wired

“Thomas Cochrane” [How the Hell]. In lowercase bullet points: “• in general, he really liked explosives, and was convinced that most problems in life could be solved with a careful application of the right amount of explosives at a precise point in space and time.” • Quite a bio! Jack Aubrey, of Patrick O’Brian’s wonderful Aubrey/Maturin series, was modeled on Cochrane.

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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 TH:

TH writes: “This is a desert willow tree that lives, where it can be admired by all guests, near the entrance of the Outpost Café in Oak Hills, California.”

•Kind readers, I still am not comfortable that I have enough plants in the queue. Snow-covered trees! Icy flowers! The fall harvest! Autumn leaves! Last year’s wildflowers! Also, of course, honorary plants like fungi and lichen! Algae!

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