2:00PM Water Cooler 2/19/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Kinglet Manakin, PE da Serra do Conduru, Bahia, Brazil. Call; Non-vocal; Song.:

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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)

“Wisconsin Trump elector on 2020 election docs: ‘It was not a safe time’” [Axios]. “After the Wisconsin Supreme Court in December 2020 rejected Trump’s lawsuit seeking to disqualify over 221,000 ballots in two Democratic counties, [Former Wisconsin Republican Party Chair Andrew Hitt] said he met with nine other Republican electors because he was advised the former president’s campaign would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘We got specific advice from our lawyers that these documents were meaningless unless a court said they had meaning,’ Hitt told CBS’s Anderson Cooper during the ’60 Minutes’ interview. ‘And if I didn’t do that [sign the documents], and the court did throw out those votes, it would have been solely my fault that Trump wouldn’t have won Wisconsin,’ said Hitt, who emphasized he was ‘absolutely’ scared. Cooper asked if Hitt was scared of Trump supporters in his state. ‘It was not a safe time. If my lawyer is right, and the whole reason Trump loses Wisconsin is because of me, I would be scared to death,’ said Hitt, who noted he felt ‘terrible’ about what happened.” • Hmm.


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Trump’s high-top sneakers sell out hours after launch” [Axios]. “Former President Trump’s high-top sneakers sold out hours after their launch Saturday at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia. The shoes, called ‘The Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker,’ sell for $399. The pair, along with two low-top sneakers, and a $99 bottle of ‘Victory47’ perfume and cologne were available for purchase on a new website. ‘I just want to tell you, I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,’ Trump said Saturday when unveiling the sneaker line…. Only 1,000 pairs of the gold shoes were available, per the sneaker website, which described the sneakers as ‘Super Limited.’” • Only 1000? Were they gilded by hand? Probably not. Terrific thread from one of my guilty pleasures, Derek Guy:

Only this account would segue from Trump’s sneakers, to the economics of the sneaker industry, to offshore manufacturing generally, and then back to Trump, all the while considering aesthetics. Complete thread here.

* * *

Trump (R): “Meet the former organized-crime prosecutor now overseeing the Trump Organization” [MarketWatch]. “Following a ruling by a New York state judge Friday barring Donald Trump and his two eldest sons from having any role in running the real-estate empire that was founded in 1927 by the former president’s father, the company has been placed in the hands of a court-appointed monitor. Barbara Jones, a lawyer and former federal judge, will now have total oversight of the real-estate conglomerate that played a central role in shaping the public image that helped Trump win the White House in 2016. Jones, 76, has been serving as a monitor at the Trump Organization since November 2022, when she was appointed by New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron to oversee certain financial matters at the company. The appointment came shortly after New York Attorney General Letitia James brought civil fraud charges against Trump and members of his family, accusing them of ripping off banks and insurers by routinely misstating the value of their properties. Following Jones’s initial appointment, the company was required to inform her of any financial move it made after the fact. But now it will need her approval before taking any steps involving financial disclosures to third parties — primarily meaning loan applications to banks. The judge’s ruling also ordered that an independent compliance officer, who will report to Jones, be hired within 30 days.” • Hmm.

Trump (R): “The exhausting fight over what jurors will see in Trump classified documents trial” [Washington Examiner]. “Smith has stressed that the law favors “the public’s right to a speedy trial.” In December, he sought to have a jury questionnaire procured by a proposed Feb. 2 deadline, a time frame that Cannon found could not be met, and set a Feb. 28 deadline instead. The questionnaire’s completion is crucial to the special counsel’s urgency to adjudicate the case, as no trial can commence without it. Since then, government and defense counsel have debated at length the extent of classified discovery materials that Trump’s attorneys should be able to witness, while prosecutors oppose such efforts and seek to redact certain records before they are introduced at trial. The forefront of the fight surrounds Trump’s January motion to compel discovery, which requests presiding U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to compel prosecutors to turn in additional information they believe to be helpful to the three defendants in the case. A Washington Examiner review of hundreds of pages of court filings from the past two months paints a picture of a brewing battle over the extent of the case’s discovery filings currently under seal that could potentially become part of the court’s record ahead of a trial…. Cannon has already been overturned once at the 11th Circuit in relation to the Trump classified documents investigation. Before the indictment, she was overturned by the appeals court after she allowed a special master to examine nearly 100 files with classified markings that were seized from Mar-a-Lago during an FBI raid in August 2022… Trump’s efforts to seek dismissal of the case on multiple fronts, his pursuit of additional records from the government to fortify his defense, and scheduling conflicts due to his three separate criminal cases can and likely will pose risks to the trial schedule in Cannon’s court, though it’s unclear whether it will ultimately delay the trial until the November election, where Trump is seeking to regain the Oval Office and could pardon himself from at least his two federal indictments.” • It would be hilarious if one of the documents in question turned out to be “The Binder” (unlikely).

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Biden (D): “Biden’s allies are stepping forward to vouch for him amid age questions” [NBC]. “Perhaps no official spends more time with Biden than his chief of staff, Jeff Zients. Press aides did not make him available for an interview. Instead, they released a statement from Zients that compared Biden favorably to much younger presidents — including Barack Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president.” • Odd.

Biden (D): “Kamala Harris has stepped up on campaign trail — but leading Democrats fear it’s not enough” [Washington Examiner]. Or too much. “Harris’s active efforts in coordinating with and listening to her fellow Democrats have reportedly been well received. But a feeling of stagnation remains, with leading Democrats worried it will lead to their downfall in November. Whitmer, at a meeting last Saturday, blasted Biden and Harris for how they’ve been talking about abortion rights, according to more than two dozen sources to whom the outlet spoke, while Pritzker aired his frustrations over the Biden campaign not attacking Republicans and Trump enough on working against the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill. But perhaps most troublesome is Biden and Harris’s regression with young voters. Both the president and vice president have been targeted for not doing more to protect Palestinians in Gaza, as well as other problems that young voters often prioritize. As Harris has reportedly said on occasion, she doesn’t worry much about Biden losing outright to Trump, but she does worry about losing ‘to the couch.’” • What does “losing to the couch” even mean? Low turnout? As opposed to the psychiatrist’s couch?

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Kennedy (I): Ah, the “lanyard class”:

Overlapping The Blob, but not identical to it.

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“No Labels still pursuing third-party candidates after Manchin’s decision not to run for president” [FOX]. “”We’re talking with several exceptional leaders. We have our own internal process,” No Labels national co-chair, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, said Sunday on MSNBC’s ‘The Weekend.’ ‘In the next couple of weeks or more, we will probably make an announcement whether or not we will give the ballot access to a unity ticket,” Chavis, a longtime civil rights activist and former executive director of the NAACP, added. ‘A unity ticket means a Republican and a Democrat. And we are talking to Republicans, Democrats, and independents.’ Chavis said that No Labels has qualified for the ballot in 16 states so far ahead of the 2024 election and is still working to qualify for all 50, pushing back against co-host Michael Steele’s argument that it would be challenging for No Labels or any third-party ticket to win come November.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

MI: “Rep. Rashida Tlaib urges Michigan Democrats to vote against Biden in the primary” [NBC]. “[Tlaib] joined growing calls from progressive activists in Michigan to vote ‘uncommitted’ in the state’s Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 27 instead of voting for Biden. dThe video of Tlaib was posted to the X account of ‘Listen to Michigan,’ a group urging voters to vote ‘uncommitted’ in the primary. Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, cited her dissatisfaction with the Biden administration’s role in the war between Israel and Hamas as her reason for urging people to vote. ‘It is also important to create a voting bloc, something that is a bullhorn, to say, ‘Enough is enough. We don’t want a country that supports wars and bombs and destruction. We want to support life. We want to support life. We want to stand up for every single life killed in Gaza,’” Tlaib said.” And: “On Wednesday, Our Revolution, a progressive political organization founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also urged Michigan Democrats to vote ‘uncommitted’ in the primary. (Sanders has distanced himself from the group’s position, saying he supports Biden’s re-election bid.) The group did make clear, though, that while it’s pushing its members to vote against Biden now, it will back him again in November. ‘Our Rev supporters can push Biden to change course on Gaza now and increase his chances of winning Michigan in November — because we MUST defeat the right wing Trump agenda!’ an email to supporters from Our Revolution said.” • Well, that’s pathetic. If genocide isn’t part of the “right wing agenda,” doesn’t that mean I should give those lunatics it a second look?

MI: “Michigan progressives angry over Gaza urge voters to ditch Biden in primary” [The Hill]. “The Abandon Biden movement is focused on withholding votes from Biden in primaries in battleground states including Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida to empower pro-Palestine Americans to protest via ballot box. The White House has tried to engage with Arab American groups, particularly those in Michigan, but has been met with canceled meetings, largely failing to change any minds. Officials traveled to Michigan to engage with leaders on the ground earlier this month but, when Biden was in Michigan himself, he didn’t meet with any leaders. He also didn’t visit Dearborn, the Detroit suburb where Arab Americans make up the majority of the population. A Michigan official, who asked to remain anonymous while talking about sensitive issues, said Biden’s visit was ‘too late’ and that the ‘community was too angry. Nothing would have come from that discussion.’ The Abandon Biden movement knows what’s at stake in November, when Biden is likely to face Trump, the GOP front-runner who has vowed to reinstate and expand his Muslim ban if elected. ‘,’ Salam said. ‘.’”


“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

“How Brisbane Independent School prevented outbreaks of COVID-19, despite Omicron wave” [ABC Australia]. From 2022, still germane: “A small primary school in Brisbane’s west has done what many others have been unable to achieve during COVID-19’s Omicron wave in Queensland: remain outbreak-free…. And it’s all a result of a group of dads at the Brisbane Independent School in Pullenvale getting together with the principal and using science and engineering knowledge to prevent SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — spreading through classrooms….. Using a smoke machine, they studied airflow patterns in the school’s five classrooms and administration areas. Carbon dioxide meters were also used to identify low-ventilation areas or ‘dead spots.’ They then purchased air purifiers — known as high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters — to mitigate the risk from SARS-CoV-2 particles [sic] …. Although one teacher and up to two students in most, but not all classes, have had COVID-19 during Queensland’s rampant Omicron wave, no in-school transmission has been identified. ‘Our goal in creating clean-air classrooms at the school was to minimise this risk of transmission within the community,’ Dr Roff said.” • The “dads” behaving that way is what I would call “normal”; apparently not. And one has to ask why their efforts — and the happy result — weren’t widely publicized in the media and by the public health establishment. Also, notice this: “circulating in classrooms and other indoor areas of the school.” They understood that with aerosols, the entire facility must be considered, making them much smarter than those sociopathic nimrods at HICPAC, who seem to have no notion that SARS-CoV-2 could spread out into the hallway from an open door. And also from Australia, this year–

“Resources to help schools keep students and staff safe” [Covid Safety for Schools]. Registration is free; yes, there’s an aerosol scientist. “Module 5: How COVID Spreads.

Airborne transmission, short-range vs long-range transmission, impact of ventilation and other mitigations.” “Module 6: How to Prevent COVID Spreading in Schools

Layered mitigations including ventilation, physical distancing, cohorting, CO2 monitoring, HEPA filters, masks, testing and isolation.” • If the “ZOMG they closed the schools!!!!” GBDers had a shred of intellectual honesty, they’d be pushing this material. But no, of course now.


“COVID-19 vaccines and adverse events of special interest: A multinational Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) cohort study of 99 million vaccinated individuals” [Vaccine]. From the Discussion: “This multi-country cohort study was conducted in the unique setting of the GVDN. To date, the number of such large systematically coordinated studies across diverse geographical locations and populations is limited…. We investigated the association between COVID-19 vaccination and 13 [adverse events of special interest (AESIs)] comprising neurological, haematological, and cardiovascular conditions across 10 sites in eight countries including Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania. In this study including more than 99 million people vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the risk up to 42 days after vaccination was generally similar to the background risk for the majority of outcomes; however, a few potential safety signals were identified.” • Hmm.

Censorship and Propaganda

“COVID: there’s a strong current of pandemic revisionism in the mainstream media, and it’s dangerous” [The Conversation]. “Containing COVID was an imperfect and difficult task that required weighing health, social, ethical, psychological, economic and political interests in the face of a rapidly spreading novel virus in 2020. Yet, with increasing distance, the thorny, difficult issues tend to be flattened to false narratives and a history of simple choices. In other words, ‘pandemic revisionism.’ To learn from how communities and governments responded to this pandemic crisis is important. With the benefit of hindsight, established accounts of successful interventions and stories of failure often take on new shades. Investing in a ramp-up of antigen testing probably was worthwhile. Trusting Tory peers with the production of hospital gowns was not…. as the lockdown sceptics believe their long-held concerns were justified given the rising mental health concerns, the risk is not for an extreme public health intervention to lose popular support – lockdown was at best the least worst option. The real risk is that this false allocation of culpability, in hand with misremembering of the past, continues to erode a principle of solidarity at the heart of public health. It is the voices of those lost to the pandemic, of those most vulnerable to the virus, past and present, of those most affected by the debilitating effects of long COVID and of those advocating for a pandemic response based on principles of equity, that are written out of this increasingly popular, populist and revisionist picture.”


Readers, have you noticed this?

“Long-term risks of respiratory diseases in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2: a longitudinal, population-based cohort study” [eClinicalMedicine]. N = 502,368. From the Discussion: “This research found that the occurrences of respiratory disorders among patients who survived for 30 days after the COVID-19 diagnosis continued to rise consistently, including asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, ILD, PVD, and lung cancer. With the severity of the acute phase of COVID-19, the risk of all respiratory diseases increases progressively. Besides, during the 24-months follow-up, we observed an increasing trend in the risks of asthma and bronchiectasis over time, which indicates that long-term monitoring and meticulous follow-up of these patients is essential.” Figure 2:

Number go up (and a potential oddity in the captions…).

Morbidity and Mortality

“Many excess deaths attributed to natural causes are actually uncounted COVID-19 deaths, new analysis reveals” [Science Daily] “Nearly 1,170,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States according to official federal counts, but multiple excess mortality studies suggest that these totals are vastly undercounted. While excess mortality provides an estimation of deaths that likely would not have occurred under normal, non-pandemic conditions, there is still little evidence into whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus contributed to these additional deaths, or whether these deaths were caused by other factors such as healthcare disruptions or socioeconomic challenges…. For the study, Dr. Stokes, Dr. Paglino, and colleagues utilized novel statistical methods to analyze monthly data on natural-cause deaths and reported COVID-19 deaths for 3,127 counties over the first 30 months of the pandemic, from March 2020 to August 2022. They estimated that 1.2 million excess natural-cause deaths occurred in US counties during this time period, and found that roughly 163,000 of these deaths did not have COVID-19 listed at all on the death certificates.” • I skimmed this and the original twice, and I can’t find what a want: A percentage to multiply reported deaths by so I can draw a new line on my charts. Readers? Commentary on original:

“The pandemic’s true death toll” [The Economist]. The lead:

Looks like The Economist has the number I want: A factor of 4. Of course, that’s global and the United States is a First World country MR SUBLIMINAL [snicker] and so 4 is probably too much. Make it 2. So, 1,170,000 * 2 = 2,340,000. That’s a lot.

“The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy in 27 countries” [Nature]. From 2023, still germane. “The results show that life expectancy in 21 of the 27 countries was expected to increase in 2020 had COVID-19 not occurred. By considering the expected mortality changes between 2019 and 2020, the study shows that, on average, the loss of life expectancy among the 27 countries in 2020 amounted to 1.33 year (95% CI 1.29–1.37) at age 15 and 0.91 years (95% CI 0.88–0.94) at age 65. . This is particularly prominent for countries experiencing greater life expectancy increase in recent years.” • Handy chart:

There seems to be a common pattern.

Celebrity Watch

Sure is odd no celebrities do this:

Elite Maleficence

“Washington Post: CDC to drop five day Covid isolation guidelines in April” [Celebitchy] (“Celebitchy is a daily gossip and entertainment blog, started in 2006, which also focuses on liberal politics, royal coverage and fashion.”) “I don’t know how I feel about all of this. While I do think that all of the data that shows that we as a collective society probably have reached a point where the virus is not life-threatening to most of the population, I still feel uneasy about these new guidelines. The results in Oregon are promising, though. But, let’s be honest: not requiring people to stay home for five days means that most businesses are going to pressure people with Covid to come to work anyway, and just like with RSV and the flu, this sucks for their coworkers who are in high-risk situations. For various reasons, a lot of people either can’t or won’t stay home anymore because pre-pandemic, most people were forced to go to work or school while sick. I was hoping that one of the lessons we learned coming out of the pandemic would be to normalize staying home when we’re sick and wearing masks to protect others. ” • The comments are all knowledgeable and scathing. The second one:

The CDC, facing intense backlash from people pointing out that we’re currently losing over 2000 Americans per week to covid (and countless more are developing Long Covid) is already waffling on this idea, and I hope they rethink it. “People weren’t listening anyway!” is a TERRIBLE reason to water down medical guidelines. Imagine if they’d do that with, say, seatbelts? (“We only recommend wearing a seatbelt when you’re accelerating.”) Covid is not the flu or RSV. While the acute phase of the virus is (in many cases, but not all) milder, your risk of developing Long Covid goes *up* with each reinfection, and Long Covid can damage nearly every system in the body. I highly recommend this BBC interview from about a week ago:

People want Covid to be “over” because it’s bad for the economy, and it depresses people, and I get that. But if we willfully ignore its long-term risks just because we don’t like wearing a mask to Target… well, the wave of disability and misery and lost productivity isn’t gonna be a ton of fun for anyone, either.

I find that encouraging. The comments on the Times coverage of the same story are also encouraging. Here is the number one reader pick:

Milder than I would put things, but still not discouraging. No doubt the minimizers and denialists didn’t read the story to begin with, but at least the Covid conscious readers are getting the attention of the newsroom.

The Jackpot

Filing this here because of the sheer scale:

There’s a lot to like in this explanation. I think there are two issues: The account (1) lets the oligarchs (see NC here) off the hook; responsibly goes “higher up” than “leaders and their parties”; and (2) doesn’t give an account of China. How is it that the ruling class of the world’s number one manufacturing power, who were aware that #CovidIsAirborne, didn’t combine Zero Covid with ventilation? As it turned out, when Xi abruptly abandoned Zero Covid, at least a million people died, mostly working class, comparable to the United States, and surely just as bad as the Five Eyes generally. And yet the CCP’s ideology is hardly libertarian (correct?).

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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] (Biobot) No backward revisions. The uptick is real (at least to Biobot).

[2] (Biobot) Biobot data suggests a rise in the Northeast. MRWA data does not suggest that, as of February 8:

Here, FWIW, is Verily national data as of February 14:

And regional data for HHS Region, the Northeast:

[3] (CDC Variants) “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] (ER) Does not support Biobot data. “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) A little slowing of the decrease could be a flattening, consistent with Biobot data. Let’s wait and see.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down “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] (Walgreens) 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] (Cleveland) Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Down, albeit in the rear view mirror.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 utterly dominant.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 16 at 6:59:44 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Debt & Trade. “For the first time in many years the trade deficit is down” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • Apparently not concerned about the goat sacrificers at all?

“House cleaners find two of the world’s first desktop PCs in random boxes — Intel 8008-powered Q1 PC has 16KB of memory, 800 kHz CPU” [Tom’s Hardware]. “London, UK-based waste firm Just Clear was living up to its name and just clearing another house when tucked under some random boxes, they found two of the first desktop microcomputers ever made: the Q1 PC, from Q1 Corporation, released in 1972 (h/t The Mirror). Fortunately, this piece of computing history was not scrapped, and Just Clear kept its hands on the old units long enough to determine their actual historical value. If you want to see these for yourself and are based in the UK, move quickly! They are now on display at Kingston University in Surrey, England, but only for the rest of February 17th. Afterward, it’s expected both will be either auctioned or sold to a private buyer, so you won’t get many chances to see these artifacts in the flesh.”

“‘When you use a Walkman all the memories come back’: the people still in love with old tech” [Guardian]. “Cassette players and tapes, CDs, video players and VHS seem like relics of a previous analogue era, but on eBay, Etsy or Discogs, among others, there is a brisk trade to be found. As fashion and style has shown us repeatedly, everything and anything will come back into vogue in cycles of 20 and 30 years…. [Alexander Renz, curator of Berlin’s Museum der Dinge] points out that Ikea shelving from the 70s, originally sold at low prices, now goes for high sums. Some of the museum’s early collection was amassed from the streets: in the 70s younger people were throwing out older wooden items in favour of new plastic things, so the museum picked them up. A similar cycle occurred in the early 90s with the fall of the communist world – East Germans got rid of GDR-issued furniture to grab sought-after western products. But furniture from the east was designed to be long-lasting and is now highly desired. A 1960s sideboard desk from the Dresden furniture manufacturer Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau can sell on Facebook Marketplace now for €230.”

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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 Desert Dog:

Desert Dog writes: “Biological soil crust- the dark cover over the soil- a combination of lichens, algae and Cyanobacteria. They help stabilize the soil by holding soil particles together and provide nutrients and moisture. They keep the soil from blowing away but are fragile and break apart when stepped on so, ‘Don’t bust the crust.’ This photo was taken at Canyonlands National Park. They can take hundreds of years to develop to the stage shown in the photo.”

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