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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Summary:
By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Patient readers, the cursor on my months-old MacBook Air M1 has frozen in the middle of the screen. Fortunately, I have a second Mac, which I am using. It’s a bit clunky, and I got a late start, so this Water Cooler will be too short. Also, reader suggestions are welcome. On the M1, I’ve tried resetting the NVRAM and the PMC, and booted into Safe Mode. Nothing avails. My guess is that Bluetooth is unhappy because the mouse it expecting is no longer present (I am traveling and didn’t bring it). Right now, I”m letting the M1 run out of power, in the hopes that will unf*ck whatever it is. –lambert Bird Song of the Day This woodpecker sounds like it’s breaking off entire branches! Also, I missed World Swift Day: Play with sound! Today is #WorldSwiftDay. To

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, the cursor on my months-old MacBook Air M1 has frozen in the middle of the screen. Fortunately, I have a second Mac, which I am using. It’s a bit clunky, and I got a late start, so this Water Cooler will be too short.

Also, reader suggestions are welcome. On the M1, I’ve tried resetting the NVRAM and the PMC, and booted into Safe Mode. Nothing avails. My guess is that Bluetooth is unhappy because the mouse it expecting is no longer present (I am traveling and didn’t bring it). Right now, I”m letting the M1 run out of power, in the hopes that will unf*ck whatever it is. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

This woodpecker sounds like it’s breaking off entire branches!

Also, I missed World Swift Day:

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#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Good news!

Case count by United States region:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

A little uptick.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Uptick in the South.

Hospitalization (CDC):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Continued good news

Covid cases worldwide:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

Molasses for brains:

“Biden won’t embrace filibuster reforms even as the rest of his party does” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden isn’t budging from his desire to keep the filibuster in place; at least not yet. And activists demanding reforms are growing increasingly befuddled by the administration’s hesitance. With more Senate Democrats expressing a willingness to abolish or modify the legislative filibuster, which establishes a 60-vote threshold to move most bills through the Senate, the White House on Monday continued to deflect on the issue. ‘The president’s preference is not to get rid of the filibuster,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, repeating Biden’s position on maintaining the rule. ‘His preference is not to make different changes to the rules, to the filibuster rules.’ Psaki’s statement was a reassertion of the White House’s long-standing position. But it came at a semi-critical juncture for the filibuster reform movement. On Sunday, one leading opponent of eliminating the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), expressed a willingness to make some changes to the rule, prompting a wave of jubilation among progressives who have pushed for reforms. The president’s reluctance to go as far as one of his party’s most moderate members puts him at odds with civil rights leaders, labor and social justice advocates, as well as an increasing number of Democrats in and out of Congress. Eventually, they say, Biden is going to have to address the issue more directly rather than stick to carefully-crafted statements.”

Trump Legacy

“Trump Successfully Wore Pants Correctly at Rally: Report” [New York Magazine]. “While any public comments made by Trump tend to cause controversy and a large number of the former president’s critics stand eternally ready to scrutinize his actions, few could have expected an out-of-focus video of the former blogger’s crotch to make headlines this weekend. In the possibly doctored video, which circulated across the internet on Saturday night, it was not clear whether or not Trump had a fly on the front of his pants. Sans other evidence, some came to the obvious conclusion that Trump had put on his pants backward, not realized it, traveled from wherever he put on his pants on to the stage of a political rally in North Carolina without him or anyone else noticing his pants were on backward, or without him having to try to go the bathroom, sit down, or attempt to use his pockets. Regardless, questions were asked, laughs were had, and #TrumpPants trended on Twitter.” • I saw these memage go by and I felt a great weight settle on my shoulders. Why do Democrats keep doing what doesn’t work?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “April 2021 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Again At Series High” [Econintersect]. “The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) can be used as a predictor of future job growth, and the predictive elements show that the year-over-year growth rate of unadjusted private non-farm job openings year-over-year rate of growth SIGNIFICANTLY improved and continues in expansion…. Remember one year ago we were entering a recession and we are comparing to the weak numbers one year ago. Still, there are a lot of job openings – which is at series high.”

Trade: “April 2021 Trade Balance Improves” [Econintersect]. “Trade data headlines show the trade balance improved with exports numerically rising faster than imports.”

Small Business Optimism: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States stood at 99.6 in May 2021, slightly down from the previous month’s five-month high and well below pre-pandemic levels. It was the first decline in morale this year, as small-business owners were concerned about labor shortages and growing inflationary pressure. A record 48% of small businesses surveyed could not fill open jobs, even with many of them offering higher pay; while higher inflation was making it harder for them to plan ahead.”

Debt: “April 2021 Consumer Credit Expanded” [Econintersect]. “Headline consumer credit expanded in April and near expectations. Our analysis of the unadjusted data shows annual growth is now growing year-over-year…. Student loan year-over-year growth rate marginally declined and remains in an overall slowing trend. Not only does this data set suffer from backward revision (at times moderate to significant enough to change trends -, but the use of compounding (projecting monthly change as annual change) by the Federal Reserve to determine consumer credit growth rates exaggerates the volatility in this data…. There is little evidence that loan defaults have increased due to the recession and pandemic.”

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Retail: “Key Ingredient of Luxury Skin Cream Yields $11 Billion Fortune” [Bloomberg]. “Zhao Yan built most of her $11 billion fortune selling cosmetics giants a chemical they can’t live without. Now she hopes to become even wealthier by going directly to the masses with the compound—hyaluronic acid, or HA—in her own line of skin-care products. ‘We can compete with the top brands in the world,’ says Zhao, 54, chairwoman of Bloomage Biotechnology Corp., which makes about half the global supply of HA…. Bloomage, which has developed special fermenters to bring down the cost of manufacturing HA, makes hundreds of variations used in skin creams, medications, and more. The company is now moving beyond its behind-the-scenes role and selling branded goods, first in China and soon in Europe and the U.S.” • Special fermenters….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 48 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 8 at 12:39pm.

Health Care

“Schools forge ahead without CDC guidance, some leaning away from masks” [ABC]. (For the CDC on schools, see here and here.) • Nothing to prepare the public mind for ventilation issues, good job CDC.

Police State Watch

Correct:

Groves of Academe

“Why do people feel like their academic fields are at a dead end?” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “[F]or now I want to stress one big idea: Encouraging not just novel research, but research in novel directions. Asking questions no one has asked before. Using methodologies no one has tried before. Creating new fields that don’t have an established hierarchy of prestigious journals and elder luminaries. Finding new veins of ore to mine.” • Fine in theory, I suppose, but the example used is AI, which to my mind is about as close to The Bezzle as it’s possible to be. (I’m not sure I’m comfortable with mining as metaphor, since are scholarship and science really extractive?)

“The Tiger Mom and the Hornet’s Nest” [New York Magazine]. “Only 200 students enroll each year, less than half of Harvard’s 1L class. In turn, these students are set afloat on even smaller boats of 16 to 18 students — the ‘small group’ — captained by a single faculty member who introduces them to the world of the law and of Yale Law School…. Small-group professors get a budget for socializing, and most of this student’s small-group gatherings were held at bars or a house where there was drinking. Not all small groups drank together — some went apple picking or played stickball — but that in itself wasn’t unusual. Rubenfeld would often send out emails with the subject line ’emergency drinks,’ and there were lots of emergencies. He would buy the first round. One night, at Cask Republic, the student ordered Scotch. She liked Scotch, but she says now that, if she’s honest with herself, her choice was also a performance, a show of toughness. Rubenfeld, impressed, ordered a second round of whiskey just for the two of them. When he drank, she remembers, Rubenfeld would start leaning toward her, touching her arm or the small of her back as he joined a conversation, or staring into her eyes.” • 200 students a year, the elite of the elite of the elite… One really has to wonder what these students are really being prepared for.

“Nikole Hannah-Jones at the Summit” [National Association of Scholars]. ” I am among those others who view Hannah-Jones’ principal contribution, “The 1619 Project,” as an abject failure of both accurate reporting and well-founded historical interpretation…. She compounded these errors by refusing to correct them when they were brought to her attention by a who’s who of eminent historians, and she further compounded those errors by lying about what she originally said. She did that, for example, when she declared that she had never said that the year 1619 was the ‘true founding’ of our country. It was right there on the cover of the original ‘1619 Project,’ and Hannah-Jones repeated it many times in subsequent statements. But at some point around September 2020, the phrase mysteriously disappeared from the digital version of the project maintained by the New York Times, and Hannah-Jones herself declared that she had never said such a thing.” • This must also be the first time that the National Association of Scholars, a conservative venue, has mentioned the World Socialist Website approvingly! (I think the question to ask 1619 proponents is: “If slavery were not profitable, would it have persisted?” I think the only defensible answer is “no,” which also makes profit the driver, not racism.)

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

Yes, but what did the dish start?

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Brazilianization of the World” [American Affairs]. “The West’s involution finds its mirror image in the original coun­try of the future, the nation doomed forever to remain the country of the future, the one that never reaches its destination: Brazil. The Brazilianization of the world is our encounter with a future denied, and in which this frustration has become constitutive of our social reality. While the closing of historical horizons has often been a leftist, indeed Marxist, concern, the sense that things don’t work as they should is now widely shared across the political spectrum. Welcome to Brazil. Here the only people satisfied with their situation are financial elites and venal politicians. Everyone complains, but everyone shrugs their shoulders. This slow degradation of society is not so much a runaway train, but more of a jittery rollercoaster, occasionally holding out promise of ascent, yet never break­ing free from the tracks. We always come back to where we started, shaken and disoriented, haunted by what might have been.”

Always a bright side:

I hate all these “we” stories:

“Our lives.” Somehow, I don’t think essential workers have suddenly taken up rollerskating.

Guillotine Watch

“Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan” [Franklin Foer, The Atlantic]. After a lengthy build-up: “[T]o say that Bezos’s ultimate goal is dominion over the planet is to misunderstand him. His ambitions are not bound by the gravitational pull of the Earth.” Oh my! But wait, here’s the final sentence: “He is fixated on the distance because he knows it belongs to him.” I’m not really being fair to the article, which is well-researched and worth a read. But Bezos, as a world-historical figure, seems, if his teenage ambitions are realized, on the scale of Napoleon. Or Genghis Khan. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, and I’m not sure Bezos-designed space colonies would be livable. For anything.

Class Warfare

“Employed in a SNAP? The Impact of Work Requirements on Program Participation and Labor Supply” [NBER]. “Using linked administrative data on food stamps (SNAP) and earnings with a regression discontinuity design, we find robust evidence that work requirements increase program exits by 23 percentage points (64 percent) among incumbent participants after 18 months. There is a 53 percent overall reduction in program participation among adults who are subject to work requirements. Homeless adults are disproportionately screened out. We find no effects on employment, and suggestive evidence of increased earnings in some specifications. Our findings indicate that, per dollar of public expenditure, eliminating work requirements would likely transfer more resources to low-income adults than other programs targeting the same population.” • Everything’s going according to plan!

“Staffers at The Atlantic Unionize” [WWD]. “Unionization is showing no sign of slowing down in 2021. The Atlantic is the latest media outlet to have their staffers form a union, with 80 percent of staff writers, copy editors, fact checkers, editors, art directors, engineers and producers at the magazine signing cards in favor of The Atlantic Union, part of the NewsGuild of New York. It also represents the likes of The New Yorker, Wired, The New York Times and Reuters. In its mission statement, the new union stressed that it has faith in the outlet’s leadership, but in a time of upheaval in the media industry it wants to ensure that all staffers are justly rewarded for their work and free to speak their mind on matters of concern.”

And The New Yorker:

News of the Wired

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (lyman alpha blob):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

lyman alpha blob writes: “Water lilies from Maine.”

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant:

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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