2:00PM Water Cooler 3/11/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I carefully cleared my calendar for lunch today (which is why Conor is posting, and not me; thank you Conor). Post-lunch, I had a transport debacle and mistook the time due to the [family blogging] time change, which I still not have gotten my head around.

On the bright side, we are now in the midst of the 2024 Water Cooler fundraiser. My goal is 400 donors; so far, we have 100 127 (thank you, and please keep them coming), but that means we are running far, far behind last year. Please remember that your 2024 donations reward work that I have already done in 2023, and click the donate button at the bottom of the page.

So a virtually non-existent Water Cooler might serve as an object lesson? Of a possible and highly unfortunate future? If you can give a lot, please give a lot. If you can give a little, please give it a little. And if you’ve been lucky this year, please consider paying it forward by donating in the place of those who cannot. Thank you!

More soon! –lambert UPDATE And more soon!

Bird Song of the Day

Beautiful Nuthatchม National Highway 313, Arunachal Pradesh, IN (28.237, 95.874), Lower Dibang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, India

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Look for the Helpers

Alert reader reify99 sends in the following:

North Haven Island, Maine

Living on an island of 300 people frequently wear more than one hat. The tendency is for everyone to become a helper.

Even if you don’t particularly like your neighbor you’ll help him in a crisis.

And it’s not mentioned but you can get your dog’s nails trimmed at the church (or maladies diagnosed) when the vet comes every couple of weeks from the mainland.

Some readers asked for something table of contents-like, so here are a few highlights amidst the density:

High- and Lowlights

(1) CDC’s internal “Project Firstline” Covid guidance differs from their public guidance.

(2) R.I.P Akira Toriyama, creator of ‘Dragon Ball.’

(3) Marisol and her lineage.


“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)

“Joe Biden, D.C. Judges Pressure SCOTUS on J6” [Declassified with Julie Kelly]. “With six justices—John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson—seated directly in front of him [at the SOTU], Biden reiterated his warped view of the events of January 6 in an effort to salvage the crumbling storyline… ‘The insurrectionists were not patriots. They had come to stop the peaceful transfer of power, to overturn the will of the people.’ In other words, if SCOTUS overturns how the DOJ used 1512(c)(2) [“obstruction of an official proceeding”], resulting in the evisceration of the most common felony associated with the ‘insurrection,’ justices will rule on the side of Americans who tried to murder ‘democracy’ on January 6. Justices who vote to reverse 1512(c)(2) essentially support the confederacy. Not exactly a subtle ultimatum.” Still not clear to me why insurrectionists weren’t charged with insurrection. More: “In granting early release for two J6ers convicted of 1512(c)(2), Beryl Howell, the former chief judge of the district court, last week cautioned that defendants ‘may be overly optimistic that the Supreme Court’s resolution of [Fischer v. USA, the case that will be heard by the highest court on April 16,] may be favorable’ to their case.’… Howell noted that all of her colleagues except one endorsed the government’s use of obstruction of an official proceeding in J6 cases over the past three years; in a footnote, Howell listed cases tied to 14 judges—from Trump appointees down to Reagan appointees as well as the current chief judge—who denied motions to dismiss the obstruction count. (The total number of judges who consented to the government’s interpretation of 1512(c)(2) is 17.) Howell’s message to SCOTUS was clear: the reputation of more than a dozen federal judges in the nation’s capital is at stake. Don’t do it.” • Yikes.

“The Trump campaign paid an expert $750,000 to find fraud in the 2020 election, only for him to dismiss their complaints in minutes” [Business Insider]. “Software engineer Ken Block told Business Insider ahead of the release of his forthcoming book “Disproven,” that he was paid about $750,000 to conduct research that would verify the existence of mass voter fraud in swing states, including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Despite the massive payday, Block couldn’t find any. He even disproved some of the claims of voter fraud within minutes, pointing to incomplete data that was wrongfully interpreted as fraudulent, that voters with the same name had been counted as duplicate votes, and that data for mail-in ballots had been wrongly flagged. While Block said he wasn’t pressured to misrepresent his findings, Trump’s team didn’t want to hear it when he brought them news the fraud couldn’t be substantiated. In one instance, Block confirmed that he proved one of the claims behind a Trump team lawsuit in Pennsylvania was wrong, which immediately ended the conference call he was on. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. All told, Block found fewer than 200 duplicate mail-in ballot votes had been fraudulently cast from all of the swing states combined, he wrote in a recent op-ed recounting his experience in AZ Central.”


Less than a year to go!

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“Trump’s Jaw-Dropping Praise For Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler Revealed By Ex-Chief of Staff John Kelly” [Mediate]. “According to comments Kelly made for Sciutto’s book ‘The Return of Great Powers’ that comes out Tuesday, Trump started by saying Hitler ‘did some good things’ and went on from there: ‘He said, ‘Well, but Hitler did some good things.’ I said, ‘Well, what?’ And he said, ‘Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.’ But what did he do with that rebuilt economy? He turned it against his own people and against the world. And I said, ‘Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing,” Kelly recounted. ‘I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.’” • Hmm.

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“Lara Trump promises legal ballot harvesting to be part of new RNC strategy” [Washington Examiner]. “Newly-elected Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump [(!!!)] said it is time for the RNC to up its game and compete with more strategy against the Democrats…. ‘Unfortunately, we don’t have one day of voting, we don’t have paper ballots, we don’t have voter ID everywhere. So we have to play the hand that we’re dealt,’ Trump said, noting the importance of early voting and mail-in voting where possible. ‘That way, we have votes banked as we head into Election Day, and we’re not playing catch up on Nov. 5 with the Democrats.’” • I don’t understand in what sense votes are “banked,” unless that means that voters can’t react to new information between when they voted and election day — which is reason enough to end the practice.

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“Biden’s State of the Union Address Strikes Campaign Tone” [RealClearPolitics]. “In the end, the speech was an us-vs.-them routine, more pointed in its identification of class and wealth than Biden has previously embraced. Progressive pollsters who huddled with the White House insisted that kind of rhetoric would lead to a boost in the polls. Eager for a second term, Biden adopted the argument during what could be his most viewed speech before the election.” • Maybe. I don’t think Biden can re-introduce himself to the voters as a class warrior.

“Nervous about November? Stop listening to pundits and start defending the president” [Salon]. “Despite the fact that we’ve been living in a world in which a small group of authoritarians surrounding Donald Trump continue to gaslight and attack the rest of us, there are still pundits and operatives who haven’t adapted their strategies and tactics to those realities. They view every single thing said by the abusers as something we need to consider and we need to be afraid of. These conversations end up fueling private conversations at the cocktail parties all over Washington, in which otherwise well-meaning staffers, consultants and strategists discuss and dissect these attacks to the point where they result in big portions of the progressive infrastructure seizing up, unsure of how to react and afraid that whatever they do will be the thing that will propel Trump back to the White House.” • Idea: Progressives should never go to cocktail parties, and should never listen to those who do?

* * *

Kennedy (I):

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”>

The federal government will do anything to infringe upon your right to privacy or your right to question the establishment narrative. They’ll label you a “domestic extremist” to justify the surveillance state. That stops with me.

— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) March 7, 2024

And he’s not wrong.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“America’s election chiefs are worried AI is coming for them” [Politico]. “A false call from a secretary of state telling poll workers they aren’t needed on Election Day. A fake video of a state election director shredding ballots before they’re counted. An email sent to a county election official trying to phish logins to its voter database. Election officials worry that the rise of generative AI makes this kind of attack on the democratic process even easier ahead of the November election — and they’re looking for ways to combat it. Election workers are uniquely vulnerable targets: They’re obscure enough that nobody knows who they really are, so unlike a fake of a more prominent figure — like Joe Biden or Donald Trump — people may not be on the lookout for something that seems off. At the same time, they’re important enough to fake and just public enough that it’d be easy to do. Combine that with the fact that election officials are still broadly trusted by most Americans — but don’t have a way to effectively reach their voters — a well-executed fake of them could be highly dangerous but hard to counter.” • I can see this narrative coming a mile off, because the origin of the fakes will be completely unclear, and we’ll have to rely on the spooks to, well, determine the legitimacy of the election, which is what this boils down to (and what the spooks would very much like to do).


“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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Censorship and Propaganda

If you think living in fear is bad, try living without it:

Origins Debate

Marc Johnson is the scientist who collects and studies cryptic Covid lineages in wastewater:

The whole thread is worth a read.

Celebrity Watch

“Nineties award-winning musician is forced to cancel gigs after ‘collapsing in a pool of blood’ and being rushed into surgery” [Daily Mail]. • It’s almost as if there’s some bug going around that’s messing with people’s vascular systems. Because of course:

Elite Maleficence

“Project Firstline Session Plans Topic Fourteen: Asymptomatic Spread of COVID-19” (PDF) [CDC]. This is an internal CDC training document. Naturally, any mention of aerosols is suppressed; they use the fudge phrase “respiratory droplets” instead. I wish I could go through the entire thing, but from page 41:

As you can see, internally CDC has an entire training module devoted to asymptomatic transmission, which by definition rules out fever.

However, externally, in their new “one day” public guidance, the central focus in on symptoms, and on fever in particular:

(See NC here for more detail on the guidance). So, as I keep saying: They know. They just don’t want you to know.

* * *

“STAT readers on new CDC Covid guidelines, weight loss drugs and mental health, and new psychiatric meds” [STAT]. Comments on Jha’s article (“makes perfect sense“): “By allowing known Covid-positive people to resume normal life, we shift the burden of Covid prevention to those who are at the highest risk [stochastic eugenicism]. Most high-risk individuals have been taking much more precautions than the general population, and will need to increase those actions. Many feel unsafe seeking medical care, using public transportation, and going to the grocery store. Many of us act as if every stranger we encounter could have Covid; our lives depend on it. Instead, our governments should focus on low-effort ways to reduce Covid spread, such as setting standards for clean indoor air, testing to leave isolation (using freely available rapid antigen tests), offering high-quality masks and recommending them in public indoor settings, and mandating paid sick leave.” • It would sure be nice to hear Jha and the GBD crowd loudly promoting “setting standards for clean indoor air.” One can only wonder why they don’t.

* * *

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) Biobot drops, conformant to Walgreen positivity data (if that is indeed not a data artifact). Note, however, the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Regional separation re-emerges.

[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) Not flattening. (Date for data corrected; it was a glitch.)

[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) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening, consistent with Biobot data.

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Backward revisions remove NV.1 data. JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “You can write long-form articles on X if you pay for Premium+” [Engadget]. “X now allows verified organizations and Premium+ subscribers to publish long-form “Articles.” The feature adds a basic text-editing interface that includes embedded media and some text formatting options, like the ability to make bulleted lists. It also appears that articles can be longer than the 25,000-character limit currently in place for premium subscribers’ “longer posts” feature. According to my initial tests, I hit the character limit for articles at just over 100,000 characters or about 15,000 words.” • So, Silicon Valley has come full circle and re-invented Blogger. Good job!

Transport: “Delivery drone operators say their growths are clearer than ever as hurdles begin to fall away. U.S. regulators over the past year have given drone companies including Alphabet unit Wing and Zipline permission to fly their devices beyond an operator’s visual line of sight” [Wall Street Journal]. “Liz Young writes the regulatory clearances are leading more retailers, restaurants and healthcare systems to expand existing drone delivery and launch pilot programs. Routine use of delivery drones in the U.S. has largely eluded operators as the technology has developed, although it is more widely used in some other countries. Logistics experts caution drones still have a long way to go before they become entrenched in commercial parcel distribution in the U.S. Cost of delivery remains a major concern, and the growing services may give operators a chance to see if both the technology and the economics can work.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 11 at 2:22:53 PM ET.

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


“Akira Toriyama, creator of ‘Dragon Ball,’ dies at 68” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “Toriyama’s creativity extended well beyond manga. He also designed characters for Dragon Quest, Square Enix Holdings’ immensely popular series of role-playing games. Yuji Horii, creator of Dragon Quest, said: ‘I am still in disbelief at the sudden news of Toriyama-san’s passing. I have known him since I was a writer for Shonen Jump and asked him to draw images for the game when we were launching Dragon Quest. Since then, for 37 years, he designed characters and monsters, and drew so many fascinating characters that I can’t even begin to count.’ Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is one of the iconic titles that helped Japanese manga culture gain global acclaim. American singer Chris Brown posted a photo of Toriyama on his Instagram with the message, ‘Thank you for shaping my childhood.’ Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi noted Toriyama’s global appeal during a news conference on Friday. ‘He produced a number of manga works that are loved by many people at home and abroad,’ Hayashi said. “He played an extremely important role in demonstrating Japan’s soft power.” • A cabinet secretary!

The Gallery

“A Major Retrospective Carves Space for Marisol’s Most Prescient and Under-Recognized Works” [Colossal]. “Born María Sol Escobar in 1930s Paris, Marisol quickly adopted the singular nickname first used by her mother. She relocated with her father to Los Angeles as a teenager before moving to New York in the early 1950s, where she saw an exhibition of pre-Columbian clay pieces that prompted an evolution of her practice from painting to sculpture. Not long after, she began working with wood, the medium for which she’s most known today…. A major retrospective on view now at the Toledo Museum of Art explores Marisol’s under-appreciated legacy, presenting 244 sculptures, self-portraits, sketches, underwater films, photos, and more. Included are several of the artist’s abstract figures with their angular, boxy bodies and softer defining features like hands and faces.” • Toledo, Ohio, I hasten to add. For example:

A popularization, albeit in plastic:

Another popularization. In wood:

The Conservatory

Not the first song I would have thought could be covered:

News of the Wired

“The Anarchists of Dune” [The Anarchist Library]. “Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, lived the happiest parts of his childhood in a failed socialist colony called Burley, located along the Salish Sea near the city of Tacoma, Washington. It was dreary and cold during the fall and winter, and back in the day, before Herbert was born, all the excitement further down the sea in the anarchist Home Colony, a much more successful experiment in collective living. While the socialists of Burley struggled to replicate their small colony, Home grew bigger every year, even converting some of Burley’s socialists into anarchist defectors…. Frank Herbert’s grandfather Otto had been a socialist and follower of Eugene Debs, and he moved his family to Burley Colony in 1905, just as the community was falling apart. Given how close Burley was to Home, the Herbert family learned much about their anarchist neighbors, especially when several of them were arrested during a nude bathing scandal. The Herbert family was in Burley from 1905 to 1919, the year Home ceased to exist as an anarchist community, and they were nearby for all the major intrigue and conspiracy that took place there. Given young Frank Herbert’s love for his grandfather Otto and grandmother Mary, both socialists, it’s likely he cherished their stories from the old days and sought them out over stories from his father, who became a cop” (!!). More: “In the novel Dune, a character named Duncan Idaho is sent to make an alliance with the Fremen, something he barely achieved with these distrusting rebels. Many have laughed and wondered why a character from the year 10,191 would have the last name Idaho, but back in the old days, Idaho was where the crazy bomb throwing miners lived, the ones who blasted apart their ex-governor in 1905. It was a place where Eugene Debs had called a rebel army to invade Boise, a place where rebels had hijacked trains and gone mine to mine blowing up their shafts with dynamite.” • Well, I’d always wondered “Why Idaho?”

For the knitters among us:

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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 Sub-Boreal:

Sub-Boreal writes:

These were planted on February 24th, and some of the easy ones like jalapeno were up in less than a week. It really helps to put the tray on a heating mat, and I even noticed that the germination was faster for the inserts above the middle of the mat vs. the edges.

About 2/3 of the seed varieties came from the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University which is a great source for anything pepperish. Although their online store says that they can’t take international orders, they were able to send seeds to Canada as of a couple of years ago. (One of the few advantages of being a proximal vassal state…)

Here in central British Columbia it should be safe to transfer the seedlings to my unheated greenhouse around the beginning of May, and if we get another warm summer like the last few, I can move the pots with small-fruited types outside to a sunny, south-facing spot in early July.

These are the photos I asked Sub-Boreal to send in yesterday. Neat project!

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