2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Shrike, Bayfield, Wisconsin, United States. This is great! A symphony, including percussion from two woodpeckers!

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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 (Insurrection)

Alert reader GH kindly read more amicus briefs for Anderson. Some highlights:

“Brief for J. Michael Luttig, et al, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “First, Section 3 has life only because it applies fully to those who violate its terms and still retain or regain enough popularity potentially to be elected or be appointed by elected officials. Section 3 would be a dead letter if the Court refused to apply it because an insurrectionist had popularity with large numbers of voters.” A clever answer to “Let the voters decide.” OTOH, the best way for voters to have decided, over time, would have been for Section 5 to have been instantiated in legislation, this being a representative democracy. More: “Second, the Civil War generation recognized that what started as an insurrection in a single state—the secession of South Carolina in December 1860—had metastasized into a Civil War…. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was the Civil War generation’s powerful deterrent to ensure that even an at-first localized insurrection would never again happen. See, e.g., Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2918 (May 31, 1866) (Sen. Willey) (Section 3 ‘is a measure of self-defense. . . . [L]ooking to the future peace and security of the country.’). That deterrent worked for over 150 years. The task of interpreting that deterrent commands respect.” • The deterrent argument is new to me. However, I’m not seeing a footnote after “That deterrent worked for over 150 years.” When that [glassbowl] Woodrow Wilson jailed Eugene Debs, one can argue that he could have treated Debs as an insurrectionist. That he did not argues that in fact Section Three is a dead letter (until it came alive again when Democrats and Never-Trumpers, desperate to find a work-around to the ballot, innovated).

“Brief for Professor Kermit Roosevelt, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “[Chief Justice Salmon Chase]: ‘In the very nature of things, it must be ascertained what particular individuals are embraced by the definition [of, e.g., insurrection], before any sentence of exclusion can be made to operate.’…. To some extent, this is accurate. Before a particular individual can be declared to be disqualified, some kind of procedure is necessary. And it may even be that a habeas petition is not the proper procedure. But it does not follow that the needed procedure can only be provided by Congress. As discussed below, state courts and state legislatures play an active role in the enforcement of constitutional rules.” • Not buying it. The brief leaves out Chase’s key point: “[A] construction, which must necessarily occasion great public and private, must never be preferred to a construction which will occasion neither.” As I wrote:

And what do we have? Two different (“various”) branches of government, judicial and executive, in two states using two completely different evidentiary standards. Add one or two more states, another branch, and a few more evidentiary standards, and you’ve got a combinatorial explosion of “usual authority”! And what is the average voter to think? That the only outcome that matters is kicking Trump off the ballot, so that Maine’s “relaxed” and Colorado’s “clear and convincing” both amount to due process? And while we’re talking about evidentiary standards, whatever happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt”? With the Justice Department and entire political class bellowing for Trump to be convicted, why on earth has Biden’s Justice Department never charged him under 18 U.S. Code § 2383 – Rebellion or insurrection? One might be forgiven for concluding that they never charged him because they couldn’t convict him. So, by definition, Maine and Colorado, in their decisions, are disqualifying Trump even though there’s “reasonable doubt” that he is an insurrectionist…. ‘Great public and private mischief’ is exactly what is happening here. This is the Pandora’s box that [Baud and Paulsen have] gleefully opened. These already whacky results provide the clearest possible indication that Griffin was correctly decided, and that there should be national legislation to handle the ascertainment issues Chase described.

“Brief of Constitutional Law Professor Mark Graber, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “When Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment was framed, constitutional lawyers recognized that an insurrection involved a) an assemblage, b) resisting any law or interfering with the course of a governmental proceeding, c) by force or intimidation, d) for a public purpose. Persons engaged in an insurrection when they incited, assisted, or otherwise acted in concert with others bent on resisting law by force or violence for a public purpose. The Members of Congress who played a crucial role drafting Section Three stated that no difference existed between inciting and engaging in an insurrection.” • So, in 2009, when Dr. Margaret Flowers and other single payer advocates (“an assemblage”) interrupted (“by force”) Sen. Max Baucus’s hearings (“interfer[ed] with the course of a governmental proceeding”) because single payer witnesses weren’t included (“for a public purpose”), and were hauled away by the Capitol police, they were engaged in insurrection? GTFO. Most civil disobedience events would also be included.

“Brief of Experts in Democracy, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “There are many risk factors that make democracies more likely to falter or fail. But no single element is as important as an elected leader conceding power peacefully based on the will of the voters. Countries whose leaders take that action are democratic – however illiberal or flawed they may be. The peaceful transition of power is so important that one of the 20th century’s foremost political scientists, Samuel Huntington, established the benchmark that no democracy could be considered safely consolidated until one party had peacefully transferred power to another, and the same had occurred in the other direction. The United States is not the first democracy to have an incumbent leader refuse to concede after legal challenges were exhausted. But there are no parallels among strong, consolidated democracies. The events of January 6 unfortunately bear closer resemblance to what happens in some of the world’s weakest democracies…. This brief is not submitted lightly. There are grave issues to consider in removing a presidential candidate from deliberation by the voters. Taking a popular candidate out of consideration can breed distrust in the system. And yet, this concern is equally valid if the court fails to act: distrust in the system is precisely what has been fueled by the insurrection and claims of fraud perpetuated by the former President. In countries where courts have avoided their role as an equal, independent branch with the power to override Executives on issues of constitutionality, democracy continues to slip away. So does the independence of the courts themselves.” • This seems to me to be the strongest brief historically and sociologically. There seems to be no original Constitutional argumentation in it. I’d also note that democracy hasn’t reached its parlous state because of one man; ask any Sanders voter.

GH: “Trump’s Reply Brief is now due on Monday, with oral argument next Thursday. That will be a big day.” And a busy week!


Less than a year to go!

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“Bloomberg poll: Biden losing ground to Trump on immigration” [Axios]. “The percentage of voters who said immigration was the ‘single most important issue’ to them in November went up in six of the seven swing states polled in a new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult survey. 61% of those voters in those states say Biden is at least somewhat responsible for the wave of migration on the U.S.-Mexico border. On the same question, 30% blamed the Trump administration and 38% blamed congressional Republicans. Voters in those states say they trust Trump over Biden on immigration 52% to 30%. The 22 percentage point margin is up five points since the last poll in December. Arizona*, Nevada, Georgia*, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania*, and Michigan* are the seven states featured in the poll.” • NOTE * Flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to backing Biden in 2020.

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Haley (R): “Nikki Haley’s ‘sticky’ problem: Will big donors stay?” [New York Post]. “In Haley’s somewhat strange quest for the GOP nomination, she needs big money more than votes from the party’s rank and file. It helps her stay in the race long enough to hope Trump face-plants in a way that makes her the nominee, maybe without winning a single state, consultants close to her admit. Haley’s dilemma, of course, is that she’s a moderate in a populist party. The old country-club-types, Wall Street execs and free-marketeers are now a back-bench caucus. Donald Trump’s MAGA movement has converted the GOP base to “blue” — as in blue-collar, anti-globalist, and definitely not Wall Street-friendly. He finances his campaign with his own (allegedly) enormous wealth but mostly through contributions from these base voters and the equivalent of free ads buys, intense media coverage every time he says something crazy. Candidates like Haley need money from the non-populist but still cash-rich fat-cat minority to compete and hopefully outlast The Donald.” • In other words, Haley is totally not organic, a creature of the funders?

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DeSantis (R): “‘Traitor’: After bitter primary, DeSantis may struggle to win over Trump supporters if he runs again” [Associated Press]. “But after a scorched-earth primary in which Trump pounded DeSantis viciously for the better part of a year, interviews with voters across early-voting states suggest the Florida governor may have an uphill battle if he chooses to run for president again in 2028. Many Trump supporters not only dislike DeSantis, but echo Trump’s assertions that DeSantis betrayed him and say they would never consider him again. ‘I think he stabbed Trump in the back,’ said Pamela Shinkwin, 73, who lives in Massachusetts and traveled to New Hampshire for one of the former president’s final rallies before his double-digit victory in the primary. DeSantis’ campaign against Trump had soured her on the governor, she said. Mary Sullivan, 76, a retired registered nurse from Manchester, slammed both DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for daring to run in the first place.” • But 73 and 76…. Anyhow, DeSantis was just a terrible candidate. Why would he run again, any more than Marco Rubio did?

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RFK Jr (I): “Half of RFK Jr.’s Massive Fundraising Haul Came From Two People” [Rolling Stone]. “Robert Kennedy Jr. and a super PAC backing his 2024 presidential campaign have raised $50 million, according to new federal election records released Wednesday. Half of that staggering cash haul has come from two people. Timothy Mellon, a Republican megadonor who has also backed former President Donald Trump, has donated another $10 million to the pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values 2024. Mellon, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune, gave a total of $15 million to the group in 2023. He separately donated $10 million to Make America Great Again Inc., a pro-Trump super PAC, in the second half of 2023. Gavin de Becker, who leads Kennedy’s private security team, donated $5.5 million to American Values 2024 in October; he has given a total of $10 million to the pro-Kennedy super PAC.”

RFK Jr (I): “RFK Jr.’s possible Libertarian bid rankles Democrats” [The Hill]. “Kennedy’s consideration of another party switch comes as he faces significant scrutiny over whether he will be able to qualify for enough ballots nationwide as an Independent heading into the general election after unsuccessfully primarying Biden…. Racking up enough signatures to qualify as an Independent, he stressed, is not likely to be an issue, with deadlines up until August. ‘We’ll be on the ballot in every state,’ he asserted, adding that he has a ‘ground team’ working in the most critical states. But Democrats are still largely dismissive about his push to gain ballot access across the country. Their wish is that he falls short of the roughly half-dozen states that will be consequential to both major parties in the fall. Kennedy running as a Libertarian, however, could change the outcome of the race in unknown ways. It would also make it easier for him to appear on Election Day ballots, experts say. ‘This would help RFK Jr. in terms of ballot access, as the Libertarians already have access in many places,’ said Kyle Kondik, an election analyst and managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. ‘The Libertarians have been the most consistent third-party presence in American politics over the past few decades,’ he said. Kennedy has so far taken small steps to familiarize himself with the Libertarian cause. He’s slated to speak at the party’s convention in California, a delegate-rich state where he has started collecting signatures, according to his campaign’s ballot access website.” • I don’t think speaking at a party convention is ever a “small step.”

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MI: “Biden’s team is blaming Iran for American deaths. How will the US respond?” [Politico]. “Biden’s support for Israel has hurt the campaign badly with the sizable Arab-American population in Michigan, and his team is scrambling to find other paths to victory in the battleground state, according to two campaign advisers granted anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about strategy.”

Republican Funhouse

“Trump Allies Pledge ‘Holy War’ Against Taylor” [Rolling Stone]. “According to three people familiar with the matter, Trump loyalists working on or close to the former president’s campaign, longtime Trump allies in right-wing media, and an array of outside advisers to the ex-president have long taken it as a given that Swift will eventually endorse Biden (as she did in 2020). Indeed, several of these Republicans and conservative media figures have discussed the matter with Trump over the past few months, the sources say…. While Swift has not yet issued an endorsement in the 2024 race, The New York Times reported Monday that Swift is a key name on Biden aides’ ‘wish lists of potential surrogates.’ A potential Swift appearance at Super Bowl LVIII alongside her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, has already prompted the MAGA right’s culture-war pugilists into a conspiracy-fueled froth about how this NFL season has been rigged to boost Biden…. Behind the scenes, Trump has reacted to the possibility of Biden and Swift teaming up against him this year not with alarm, but with an instant projection of ego. In recent weeks, the former president has told people in his orbit that no amount of A-list celebrity endorsements will save Biden. Trump has also privately claimed that he is ‘more popular’ than Swift and that he has more committed fans than she does, a person close to Trump and another source with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone.” • This clip has resurfaced and is making the rounds:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“6 initiatives head to WA ballot with $6M support of Brian Heywood” [Seattle Times]. “Pouring more than $6 million of his money into a paid signature-gathering campaign, Heywood has almost single-handedly bankrolled six initiatives that are likely headed to the November ballot. The unprecedented initiative slate would eliminate the state’s new capital gains tax, repeal a landmark climate law, allow people to opt out of a long-term care payroll tax and reverse police-pursuit restrictions passed in recent years by the Legislature. They’d also ban local and state income taxes and guarantee parents access to information on K-12 school curricula and school medical records. All six initiatives have been certified as having received the required signatures to make the 2024 ballot. The final one, targeting the state’s long-term care payroll tax, was certified on Friday by the Secretary of State’s Office.” • Ironically, Heywood moved to Washington from California, where the result of the initiative process has been mixed at best.


“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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Look for the Helpers

“Low-Cost Mitigation of Aerosol Pathogen Transmission in Expedient Outdoor Housing” [Nukit Research and Development, GoogleDocs]. First paragraph: “We were contacted on January 10th, 2024, and asked to advise on [Covid] mitigation for a common but poorly studied indoor space—a small cabin or tent that served as the living arrangements for ‘Froglet’ Taylor, a 43-year-old unhoused woman living in Houston, Texas.” • Mitigation required because Froglet shares the tent with others when its cold, and it’s a 3C’s space par excellence (closed, crowded, close contact). Worth reading in full. (NuKit is Naomi Wu, for those who haven’t followed the account).


“Penn Jillette Wants to Talk It All Out” [Cracked]. Conversion experience:

For so long, you identified as Libertarian. What changed?

I completely have not used the word Libertarian in describing myself since I got an email during lockdown where a person from a Libertarian organization wrote to me and said, “We’re doing an anti-mask demonstration in Vegas, and obviously we’d like you to head it.” I looked at that email and I went, “The fact they sent me this email is something I need to be very ashamed of, and I need to change.” Now, you can make the argument that maybe you don’t need to mandate masks — you can make the argument that maybe that shouldn’t be the government’s job — but you cannot make the argument that you shouldn’t wear masks. It is the exact reciprocal of seatbelts because if I don’t wear a seatbelt, my chances of fucking myself up increase — if I don’t wear a mask, the chance of fucking someone else up increase.

Many times when I identified as Libertarian, people said to me, “It’s just rich white guys that don’t want to be told what to do,” and I had a zillion answers to that — and now that seems 100 percent accurate.

Testing and Tracking

“Replication-Competent Virus Detected in Blood of a Fatal COVID-19 Case” (case study) [Annals of Internal Medicine]. From the Discussion: ” Our case proves that replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 can traffic in blood during COVID-19 and seed tissues throughout the body. Use of a permissive Vero cell line increased sensitivity of detecting SARS-CoV-2 in plasma from our patient, as did using plasma from a critically ill but seronegative patient. Cell culture induced minor SARS-CoV-2 sequence variability, consistent with known Vero E6 cell culture effects, but overall, the same isolate was recovered before and after culture from the lungs, plasma, and heart of this patient. Further studies are needed to determine the implications of our findings for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants, those with mild illness, persons recently vaccinated, or persons with waning immunity after natural infection or vaccination.” • So far as I can tell, Red Cross blood donation policy doesn’t require a test for Covid.

Elite Maleficence

“Urge the CDC to Listen to Frontline Health Care Workers and Patients!” [National Nurses United]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tasked its advisory committee (HICPAC) to update infection control guidance for health care settings. HICPAC’s draft, which was finalized by a unanimous vote in November 2023, proposes to weaken existing practice and fails to acknowledge the science on aerosol transmission and respiratory protection. After conducting its review, the CDC is sending back HICPAC’s draft for more work!” • Sign the Petition!

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] Even after a decline, we’re still higher than any of the surges under Trump.

[2] Slight increase in MWRA wastewater data, as of January 25, i.e. the incubation period from the student’s return:

[3] “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.

[4] “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.

[5] Decrease for the city aligns with wastewater data.

[6] “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†”.

[7] -0.7%. (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.)

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming for unemployment benefits in the US rose for a second consecutive week to 224K in the week ended January 27th, the highest reading since mid-November, compared to an upwardly revised 215K in the previous week and forecast of 212K.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced plans to cut 82307 jobs in January 2024, the most in ten months, compared to 34817 in December 2023. With the exception of last January’s total, this is the highest number of job cuts announced in January since January 2009.” • Oof.

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the US improved to 49.1 in January 2024, the highest since October 2022, from 47.1 in December, and well above forecasts of 47. The reading continued to point to a contraction in the manufacturing sector, although at a much softer pace, as demand moderately improved, output remained stable and inputs are accommodative.”

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Manufacturing: “Tesla sued for allegedly mishandling hazardous waste in California for years” [TechCrunch]. “Tesla has been sued by 25 California counties alleging the automaker has repeatedly mishandled hazardous waste at facilities throughout the state. The lawsuit was filed after months of settlement talks apparently fell apart. The complaint, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, states that Tesla improperly labeled and disposed of materials like ‘lead acid batteries and other batteries,’ paints, brake fluid, aerosols, antifreeze, acetone, diesel fuel and more at its production and service facilities throughout the state. Tesla also allegedly improperly disposed of the waste, both on-site and at landfills that can’t accept hazardous waste.”

Tech: “How hard is it to cheat with ChatGPT in technical interviews? We ran an experiment” []. “We were stunned to discover that interviewers reported no suspicions of cheating, and interestingly, interviewees were largely confident that they were getting away with it, too. 81% reported no concerns about being caught, 13% thought they might have tipped off the interviewer, and an astonishingly small 6% of participants thought the interviewer suspected them of cheating.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 1:37:49 PM ET.

Book Nook

“Against Disruption: On the Bulletpointization of Books” [Literary Hub]. “The popularity of book summary services like Blinkist and Shortform is a perfect encapsulation of what gets lost (nuance) in the bulletpointification of books, in which every bit of information is served in digestible bite-sized portions that you can upload right to your brain. A recent Blinkist post titled ‘7 Blinks To Understand the Conflict Between Israel and Hamas,’ may give you some idea of the scale of such bullet point derangement, as if a blink was a proper unit of measurement to use to understand a genocide happening before the world’s eyes. I have seen many VC-funded book startups come and go, usually led by well-intentioned people who think they have a good idea about how to ‘save’ books. Remember all of the startups saying that they would be the Netflix of books? The latest bunch of startups that are for sure going to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with books are focused on AI. Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Meta, proposed in a tweet about AI assistants that if Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media defines books as ‘a user interface to knowledge,’ then AI assistants are poised to become ‘a better user interface to knowledge.’” • Only if the crooks in the AI world can steal all O’Reilly’s content for their training sets.

Zeitgeist Watch

The responses are… enlightening:

I try not to hate, and especially not hate institutions (a category error, I think). That said, I might make an exception for the CDC:

Shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up. And of course:

“Response to Elmo’s “checking in” post underscores U.S. mental health crisis” [Axios]. “The responses to Elmo’s post that was seen an estimated 140 million-plus times underscore a growing mental health crisis across the U.S. and a national spike in anxiety and depression, with young people driving a rise in mental health spending in recent years.” One might see a refusal to “live in fear” (such an odd phrase) as a response to this. More: “American spending on mental health with private insurance surged during the pandemic, while Gallup polling in 2023 found 23% of U.S. adults visited a mental health professional in 2022, compared to 13% in 2004. Three recent studies suggest overdose deaths, depression and barriers to care have weighed heaviest on disadvantaged and minority groups — and they’re aligning to widen health disparities as the U.S. emerges from the pandemic, per Axios’ Caitlin Owens.” • “[E]merges from the pandemic” from the pandemic is delicately put. I wonder if the pandemic could be — hear me out — the common factor in all these social sequelae?

Class Warfare

Covid and the labor force:

Not a “political issue” at all, of course. Readers, any anecdotes like this from you? This account is from New York, where we know Covid has been spiking.

NOTE This is another attempt to cut down on jaggies from text screen dumps. Readers?


Plus ça change….

“What’s Going On, Actually” [Radio Sof]. “The problems arise of course when foolish people such as myself naively believe that a Doctor of Science must be interested in Science, that institutions that teach philosophy must be interested in Truth and Justice, that large religious organizations that follow the teachings of Jesus must be interested in the Poor, and so forth and so on. Oops! In short, in every institution, there are the people who are there because of the institution’s higher or abstract ideals such as Learning, Music, Jesus, Sports, Science, etc. etc., and then there are the people who are there to leverage their abilities to gain power inside the institution and then leverage the institution to gain power in the world at large. And there’s always some of each, but I always thought of the latter as the minority, but now I am not so sure.” • This is the distinction I have drawn between hegemonic and exceptional PMC (the exceptional being those “who are there because of the institution’s higher or abstract ideals,” and by definition in the minority). Of course, this is a binary, therefore wrong, and there should probably be at least one more bucket for those who just keep their heads down.

“Land Report 100” [The Land Report]. “In 2024, America’s largest landowner is Red Emmerson. Red and his family own 2,411,000 acres in California, Oregon, and Washington through their timber-products company, Sierra Pacific Industries. The Emmersons became America’s largest landowners in 2021 when they acquired 175,000 acres in Oregon from Seneca Timber Company. With that acquisition, the Emmersons surpassed Liberty Media chairman John Malone’s 2,200,000 acres. CNN founder Ted Turner is America’s third largest landowner with 2 million acres in the Southeast, on the Great Plains, and across the West.” • This is the original report, previously cited by RT.

News of the Wired

Alert reader PI sends this:

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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 IM:

IM writes: “A January photo, though it looks rather green. Still air for mirror-like reflections, cedars growing in the swampy conditions they love. On Mayne Island in the strait of Georgia.” Swamp in a good way.

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