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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Summary:
By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Patient readers, more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done! Bird Song of the Day * * * #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…. We already start to an instant rebound from Labor Day, I assume because reporting is returning to normal. Nevertheless, Labor Day, as the end of summer, also signals life changes for Americans, so those changes will affect the numbers too. We shall see! Vaccination by region: Down again. 54.2% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). We are back to the 0.1% stately rise per day. This is the number that

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the 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….

We already start to an instant rebound from Labor Day, I assume because reporting is returning to normal. Nevertheless, Labor Day, as the end of summer, also signals life changes for Americans, so those changes will affect the numbers too. We shall see!

Vaccination by region:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Down again.

54.2% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). We are back to the 0.1% stately rise per day. This is the number that should change if Biden’s mandates “work.” However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January. The populations are different, though. This one is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: If the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 13, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Ohio Valley less red. The South mostly yellow or green (cases, not hospitalization). Rockies still under siege. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers, so the case chart still has momentum. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

The South, the leader, steadily dropping.

Hospitalization (CDC):

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Dropping.

Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the source above:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Now Alabama is flat again. Things are picking up in the West.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

We are approaching the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.)

Covid cases worldwide:

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

American exceptionalism?

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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

Capitol Seizure

“Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump in a Thursday statement offered sympathy for those charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot, while not mentioning a controversial rally at the Capitol scheduled for Saturday that is backed by supporters of people arrested in connection with the insurrection.” Riot. More: “‘Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,’ Trump said. ‘In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!'” • Surely if Trump though he wasn’t in the clear, he’d be paying for some defenses?

Biden Administration

““Does Not Present Sufficient Cause”” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “President Joe Biden has been touring climate-ravaged areas of America, warning that climate change is a “code red” emergency for the planet. And yet, his administration has continued to boost fossil fuel projects and is now preparing to vastly expand offshore drilling. The White House argues that a court order it opposes and is appealing requires federal officials to lease more than 78 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel exploration. Environmental groups, however, assert that federal law gives the administration broad discretion over whether or not to hold such sales. In fact, Biden’s officials have instead used that power to officially declare that the warnings in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reportdoes not present sufficient cause” to reevaluate the drilling plan. With the help of the nonprofit public interest organization Earthjustice, several environmental and Gulf groups have now launched a lawsuit against the administration to stop the Gulf lease sale. The complaint argues that the environmental analysis behind the lease sale is based on outdated and arbitrary science, in violation of federal law.”

UPDATE “Biden sets sights on the meat processing industry while lobbying soars” [Open Secrets]. “The White House took aim last week at meat processing companies for the prices of poultry, beef and pork increasing. The meat processing and products industry has already spent nearly $2.1 million on lobbying in 2021 and is on pace to match or beat its 2020 lobbying spend of $4.1 million. Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese and other White House officials said just four firms control the majority of the meat processing market, allowing them to push higher prices on consumers while reaping record profits. Since December 2020, the price of beef rose by 14%, pork by 12.1%, and poultry by 6.6%, contributing to over half of the higher costs consumers see at the grocery store, according to the White House. The largest meat processing firms also spend the most on lobbying, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. A study by the Open Market Institute found that JBS SA, Tyson Foods, Cargill and Smithfield Foods collectively control 53% of the meat processing market. ”

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “The Democratic party’s double standards on wealth inequality” [Financial Times]. “It is better, they say, to have half a loaf than none at all. That is the case for this week’s tax proposals from congressional Democrats, which have watered down Joe Biden’s campaign plan. But the metaphor underplays the good fortune of America’s billionaires, who, at worst, would have to yield a few crumbs. For a moment it looked like the Democratic party would confront US inequality head-on. It has already passed. Barring a dramatic shift in partisan arithmetic, the super-rich seem to have bought themselves several more years’ reprieve. It cannot all be put down to Democratic “moderates”, such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, whose 50th Senate vote gives him great leverage over the contents of Biden’s $3.5tn bill. Manchin will surely shrink its size… [T]he loudest trumpet in this retreat belongs to mainstream party liberals from Democratic strongholds such as New York and California. They are hoping to repeal the $10,000 annual cap on the state and local tax deduction (Salt), which enables residents of high tax states to offset what they pay locally against their federal income taxes. Almost all the beneficiaries of scrapping the cap would be rich. The cost to the taxpayer would amount to $91bn a year, which would more than wipe out the income tax increases the wealthy would have to pay under the Democratic plan. The wealthiest 0.1 per cent would get an average $145,000 tax cut. For the middle 60 per cent of households, it would be $27 a year. This is not just bad economics — it is hard to find a single economist on the left or right who thinks it would be a good idea. It is also terrible politics. In 2017 Democrats found a popular echo in attacking the inequities of Donald Trump’s $1.5tn tax cut. But the repeal of the Salt tax cap would be far more regressive than Trump’s tax cut. It does not help that Democrats are presenting their Salt plans as “relief for the middle classes” — and now “pandemic relief”. It was Republicans who substituted ‘tax relief’ for ‘tax cut’ to make it sound better. Democrats are picking it up verbatim. ‘When Democrats say this is relief for the middle classes, what exactly is their definition of ‘middle’?’ asks Richard Reeves, a Brookings fellow and scholar of US meritocracy. ‘Do words have no meaning any more?” • Lol no.

“Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party” [The Hill]. “Democrats’ signature legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee on Wednesday as three moderate Democrats voted against their party. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats. The vote is a striking setback for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package. Drug pricing is intended to be a key way to pay for the package. Leadership can still add a version of the provision back later in the process, but the move shows the depth of some moderate concerns. The three moderates said they worried the measure would harm innovation from drug companies and pushed a scaled-back rival measure. The pharmaceutical industry has also attacked Democratic leaders’ measure, known as H.R. 3, as harming innovation.” • This is the party the Democrat leadership carefully built. And if you really want to innovation, fund the NIH.

UPDATE No war but the class war:

“Bernie has three houses!” “Engels has a factory!” This is the difficult with the concept of “the rich”: It’s income-based, and so social relations are erased.

Our Famously Free Press

“GOP online donation platform tweaks fees, sending millions more to midterm campaigns” [Politico]. “Republicans are making a small change to their online fundraising program that could have a big impact on the party’s finances heading into the 2022 midterm election. WinRed, the GOP’s principal small-dollar donation processor, is lowering the fees it charges candidates and committees for each contribution they receive through the platform. The shift — which follows months of behind-the-scenes deliberations involving the party’s most senior officials — could result in millions of dollars more being funneled into campaign coffers next year. Under the new plan, which WinRed President Gerrit Lansing outlined in a memo sent to senior Republicans this week, the platform will charge a flat 3.94 percent fee per donation. Until this point, the for-profit outfit had been charging 3.8 percent per contribution, plus another 30 cents. The change is set to go into effect Jan. 1. Given the large number of contributions made through WinRed, candidates are likely to see a payoff.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

We are looking at the remains of some more advanced civilization or a race of alien beings:

Clearly such things are beyond our powers.

“Pro-Sanders group rebranding into ‘pragmatic progressives'” [Associated Press]. “Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden…. ‘Coming out of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, in some ways the organization was probably more of a bridge organization between the two electoral cycles,” Joseph Geevarghese, Our Revolution’s executive director, said in an interview. ‘What we’re trying to build is something that is longer term’ and ‘part of the overall ecosystem of the progressive movement.’ ‘I think we are rooted in a bold, progressive vision, but we’re also pragmatic progressives,; Geevarghese said.” • From July. Good thing I missed then, or I would have stroked out.

“What the Never Trumpers Want Now” {David Frum, The Atlantic]. Says the Never Trump Whisperer: “Once, Republicans and conservatives filled hours of cable-TV time and sold millions of books to argue the supreme importance of truthfulness [like George W. Bush], sexual fidelity [like Denny Hastert], and financial integrity [Newt Gingrich] in a national leader. Then their party nominated and elected a president who gleefully transgressed every one of those human decencies.” • It’s clear that Frum is completely delusional, and so he and his will fit in very well with the liberal Democrats.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

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UPDATE Capital: “Machine Tool Demand Slows to Start Q3” [American Machinist]. “U.S. manufacturers and machine shops ordered $472.6 million worth of new capital equipment during July, -5.6% less than the June total but only the second decrease in monthly orders this year. The July result also represents a 41.5% increase over the July 2020 total, as manufacturers continue to invest in reaction to building industrial demand…. Monthly order totals for metal-cutting equipment fell less than 10% in the Northeast, Southeast, North Central-West, and West regions, and each of these regions has reported solid increase for the year-over-year and YTD tallies.”

UPDATE Commodities: “Tech industry braces for skyrocketing rare earth prices” [Nikkei Asia]. “Electronic hardware manufacturers are sweating as prices for rare-earth metals surge amid soaring demand and simmering tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s most important source of these vital materials…. Demand for rare earths has risen sharply due to their increasing use in cutting-edge technologies, including the booming electric vehicle industry, while the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has fueled demand for electronics. Geopolitics are only making matters worse. China is the only country that has a complete supply chain for rare earths from mining, to refining, to processing. As of last year, it controlled 55% of global production capacity and 85% of refining output for rare-earth elements, according to commodity research specialist Roskill. … Rare earths such as neodymium oxide — a key input for motors and wind turbines — have jumped 21.1% since the beginning of the year, while holmium, which is also used in magnets and magnetostrictive alloys for sensors and actuators, have surged nearly 50% so far this year, according to Shanghai Metals Markets.”

UPDATE Shipping: “Jump in container moves per port visit causes further congestion: Over 40% of ships at key North American West Coast ports require to anchor before loading or unloading” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The average number of containers requiring loading and unloading per ship call at major global gateway ports has jumped during the pandemic, causing further delay and congestion at an already stretched supply chain. According to the latest Port Performance Data by IHS Markit, container call sizes are up between 10% and 70% (vs H1 2019) across major US, Northern European and Asian ports. The average vessel now requires more than 3000 container moves per single call as global trade volume bounces back.

At the Port of Long Beach, United States, average call sizes are now more than 70% higher than before the pandemic with terminals dealing with an average of more than 7,000 container moves per call on large ocean-going vessels. In Singapore and Yangshan (Shanghai), the call size increased by 27% and 23% percent respectively over the last two years. …. “The severe operational strain is caused by the surge in cargo volumes coming in much more concentrated loads. This spike in demand is placing heavy stress on ocean and landside operations, increasing yard congestion and cargo dwell times, with knock-on effects on equipment repositioning and intermodal links further fuelling the problem and resulting in sustained congestion at key global gateways.” Turloch Mooney Associate Director, Maritime and Trade at IHS Markit.” •

UPDATE Shipping: “Record 60 Cargo Ships Wait to Unload at Los Angeles, Long Beach” [Maritime Logistic Professional]. “A record 60 container vessels are at anchor or adrift in the San Pedro Bay, waiting to be unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach seaports and another 20 are due to arrive in coming days, a port executive said on Wednesday. With the pandemic still raging around the world, U.S. consumers have not fully resumed previous spending on restaurants and travel, yet they continue to splurge on goods ranging from appliances and home exercise equipment to sweatpants and toys. Volume at the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest U.S. gateway for trade with Asia – is up 30.3% so far this calendar year. The global supply chain has been reeling due to overwhelming demand for cargo;, temporary COVID-19 closures of ports and factories in Asia; shortages of shipping containers and key products like resin and computer chips; and severe weather. Transportation costs have spiked, exacerbating delays and fueling product shortages. ‘Disruptions continue at every node in the supply chain,’ said Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. Containers are waiting on Port of Los Angeles docks a peak of six days for truck pickup, Seroka said. Containers on chassis are waiting 8.5 days ‘on the street’ for warehouse space or to be returned empty to the port. There are nearly 8,000 containers ready to be whisked away by train, with the wait clocking in at 11.7 days, Seroka said.”

UPDATE Shipping: “Investor scores a fortune selling container ships named after Patriots” [Freight Waves]. “It’s a time-honored tradition among old-timers to consider a commercial vessel a ‘she’ and christen it with a female or non-gender-specific name. [New York-based Mangrove Partners] opted for testosterone instead. Once Mangrove purchased its ships, it renamed them after former or current members of the New England Patriots… Ship brokerage Compass Maritime called it “one of the most remarkable asset plays in recent memory.” According to information from U.K.-based data provider VesselsValue and Compass (which cited other reports), the six Mangrove container ships were bought for an aggregate price of around $62 million and sold for $348 million to $358 million-plus. Assuming all six sales go through, this implies a return of almost $300 million.” • Not clear from the story whether the names drove the prices. Nevertheless.

UPDATE Shipping: “The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why the container crunch is going to get worse before it gets better” (podcast) [The Shipping Podcast]. “Spoiler alert – the container crunch is going to get worse before it gets better. With the seasonal surge in demand only adding to the existing chaos there is no immediate end in sight to the supply chain disruption that has generated one of the most extraordinary container markets ever witnessed.” • Since the Lloyd’s List site is brutally paywalled, this is a useful alternative.

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Why an Electric Car Battery Is So Expensive, For Now” [Bloomberg]. “Largely because of what goes in them. An EV uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are in your laptop or mobile phone, they’re just much bigger — cells grouped in packs resembling big suitcases — to enable them to deliver far more energy. The priciest component in each battery cell is the cathode, one of the two electrodes that store and release electricity. The materials needed in cathodes to pack in more energy are often expensive: metals like cobalt, nickel, lithium and manganese. They need to be mined, processed and converted into high-purity chemical compounds. At current rates and pack sizes, the average battery cost for a typical EV works out to about $6,300. Battery pack prices have come down a lot — 89% over the past decade, according to BloombergNEF. But the industry average price of $137 per kilowatt hour (from about $1,191 in 2010) is still above the $100 threshold at which the cost should match a car with an internal-combustion engine. Costs aren’t expected to keep falling as quickly, and rising raw materials prices haven’t helped.” • Hmm.

UPDATE Concentration: This video is worth watching, at a minute-and-a-half:

Impressive for railfans. Amazing trains! But also consider that each one of those containers represents a condensed piece of the manufacturing capabilities that our elites moved away from this country, mostly to China.

UPDATE Labor Market: “Uber drivers are employees, not contractors, says Dutch court” [Reuters]. “Uber (UBER.N) drivers are employees, not contractors, and so entitled to greater workers’ rights under local labour laws, a Dutch court ruled on Monday, handing a setback to the U.S. company’s European business model. It was another court victory for unions fighting for better pay and benefits for those employed in the gig economy and followed a similar decision this year about Uber in Britain. The Amsterdam District Court sided with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV), which had argued that Uber’s roughly 4,000 drivers in the capital are employees of a taxi company and should be granted benefits in line with the taxi sector.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 17 at 12:35pm.

The Biosphere

“World weather groups forecast a year of global warming of 1.5C before 2025” [Financial Times]. “The world is likely to temporarily exceed 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times within the next five years, according to a major report by leading weather organisations and scientists that supports alarming conclusions drawn by the recent UN landmark study. The findings published on Thursday follow the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last month that detailed the science behind the urgent need to limit global warming. The 1.5C threshold has become a rallying point for policymakers. In May the G7 group of nations pledged to aim for a maximum rise of 1.5C, in a shift from the 2015 Paris accord headline goal of keeping temperatures at ‘well below 2C’. In its August report, the IPCC said that even in a best-case scenario of deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, long-term average temperatures — rather than warming in any given year — were likely to reach 1.5C within 20 years.”

Health Care

“Trouble with the new normal” [Helen Salisbury, British Medical Journal]. “We’re being encouraged to accept that 130 deaths a day from a preventable infectious disease is unremarkable and the “new normal.” I beg to differ, and I see trouble ahead.” • Yep.

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Elizabeth Bruenig Is Already in Fall Mode” [Grub Street, New York Magazine]. “Around nine, I broke for breakfast. There’s a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager, and I’ve honored it every place I’ve ever lived, every continent and country I’ve ever visited: The day begins with a frosty Coca Cola Zero, or a Diet Coke if I must. It’s the combination of caffeine, carbonation, and icy cold that really gets the day going for me.” • Holy moley!

The Agony Column

“Daphne Franks: the woman who lost her much-loved mother to a predatory marriage” [Guardian]. • Eesh, what a story.

Screening Room

America’s industrial policy:

Bible Corner

“This pastor will sign a religious exemption for vaccines if you donate to his church” [WaPo]. • Just a little too on the nose. (But to be fair: “How televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker became an unlikely ally in the AIDS crisis” NBC.)

Our Famously Free Press

“The New Yorker Archivist Erin Overbey on Her Byline-Diversity Project” (interview) [New York Magazine]. “Erin Overbey has worked at The New Yorker since 1994. As archive editor, she publishes a twice-weekly newsletter, excavates work from the magazine’s history, and serves as an internal resource about it. Today, she published [on Twitter] the results of just some of her research into 30 years of The New Yorker. Her data so far (which we have not, and could not, independently confirm) shows that: In 30 years, 2.5 percent of movie reviews were written by women; in 15 years, less than 0.01 percent of print feature and critics pieces were edited by a Black editor; in 30 years, 3.6 percent of book reviews were written by Black writers. When you have conversations about race or diversity with a fellow liberal at a media organization, it almost inevitably turns out with them saying, ‘Are you saying I’m a bad person? Are you saying I’m racist?’ You never really get anywhere. You never get to the heart of what you want to talk about…. There’s always a wall up. But what about data? Numbers don’t really lie, and numbers don’t have an emotional attachment to them. I started in 2019 looking at our tables of contents. It really was a lengthy project… I haven’t received any institutional feedback as of yet.” • Interesting. NOTE * Important to know, since you could be dogpiled and/or fired if you are seen to be. Not exactly a conversation starter. Nor are HR consultants conversation starters. Perhaps a data-driven approach will be more effective…

“The Guardian proclaims Anthony Fauci as ‘sexiest man alive’” [New York Post]. ““At the core of Tony’s popularity is that people intuit that this is a man who is speaking the truth and will not let anything stand in the way,” [“Fauci” documentary co-director John] Hoffman told The Guardian. ‘Tony is the signal amid the noise. People are able to sense that there’s a lot of noise and their ears are trying to find the signal and Tony is the signal.'” • Oy.

Who needs the classics?

Groves of Academe

“Down with the Thought Police!” [Academe Blog]. “1984 meets Professor Umbridge. That’s what came to my mind when I heard of two bills currently being debated in the Ohio legislature, HB 322 and 327. Seeking to define a category of ‘divisive concepts’ that Ohio children and adult students in college need to be protected from, these bills legitimize the policing of thought by the state government. With punishments that can include the firing of staff and withholding of state dollars from classes and institutions that teach ‘divisive concepts,’ these bills will effectively take control away from teachers, administrators, boards of education at the K-12 level and departments and administrators at the university level.” • ”Divisive concepts.”

Guillotine Watch

“The Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is a Wake-Up Call for Sexism in Tech” [Ellen Pao, New York Times]. “as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, Calif., it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.” • It’s true that Elon Musk is still on the streets….

Class Warfare

Players who all shared a stake in projecting an appearance of the anointed’s racial authenticity“:

One does wonder what the royalty arrangements are.

“Curated Tolerance: the aesthetics of gentrification” [Scalawag]. “The specific imagery associated with gentrification varies from location to location, yet some consistent markers remain: newly built cubed houses, at least one restaurant that serves acai bowls, microbreweries, yoga studios, and, of course, the ever popular Bird scooters. These amenities intentionally mark the bounds of the gentrified environment, specifically welcoming those with disposable income to enjoy their new pristine city. Every system of political and social thought is accompanied by a symbolic system, an iconography that expresses and visually promotes the values of the political project. And gentrification—or revitalization, or urban renewal, or “negro removal”—is no different. The slow creep of gray cubes towards east Durham is not only unsettling to me as a person of color living in a predominantly low income Black and latinx neighborhood, it also looks absurd and blatantly out of place. I recall a Black coworker and friend of mine telling me: ‘When you see the bright colored houses, you know those aren’t for us.’ I believe she meant that not only in terms of affordability, but also in terms of safety.”

“The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers” [Nature Human Behavior]. “Here, we use rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls and workweek hours of 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020 to estimate the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication. Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.”

“The Fatal Elitism of the Time’s Up Charity” [The New Republic]. “The type of elite professional women who drove Time’s Up’s mission often shared the same vested interest in their industries’ status quo as their male counterparts. High-powered men are able to abuse those below them with relative impunity for largely material reasons: Their victims are pressured into silence by credible fears of blacklisting or job loss, and their abettors benefit more from their proximity to power—and the exclusive resources, invitations, and perks it provides—than they would from confronting it. For Tchen—Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff—it wasn’t worth blowing up her cozy relationships with allies of the Cuomo administration over a few rumors of sexual harassment that could be more conveniently swept under the rug. Kaplan surely made a similar calculation when she opted to continue doing lucrative outside legal work representing well-heeled clients accused of complicity in sexual harassment, including Cuomo’s top aide…. In 2020, the nonprofit’s kid-gloves handling of President Joe Biden’s accusations of inappropriate touching raised eyebrows, with some observers wondering whether Time’s Up’s mild response was related to the fact that several board members served on the Biden campaign.” • Chalk up another win for bourgeois feminism. Not direct commentary, but alliied:

Euthanize the NGOs, say I. Whatever work they do is dependent on the whims of donors, and should be done either by the state, or by a party.

News of the Wired

“How wildlife sightings create community” [High Country News]. “I’d forgotten how wildlife sightings create community. A few years ago, I came upon a wild turkey running between four-foot-high snow berms. Except we don’t have wild turkeys. I told the story shyly at a dinner party. I saw it too, my neighbor cried. I saw it, too! Once, midsummer, I came upon a mountain goat walking the same stretch of road. Mountain goats don’t visit the valley floor when the temperature’s over 90. Not usually. Not ever. I pulled my Tercel next to a Dodge Ram and rolled down the window. Did you see? I asked. Did you? the driver asked. We shook our heads, grinning. One winter, trumpeter swans showed up on the lake. In the post office, ever since, swans dominate every conversation: How many did you see today? This early summer, we saw more fawns than usual, more rattlesnakes, more bears: a blond with black haunches, a cinnamon yearling, a big black male sitting mid-road in the dark. River otters on a dock. Ermine in the woods. Harlequin ducks riding rapids. Some we learn about secondhand. Four new fisher kits somewhere in the county. Cougar, bobcat, elk and wolverine: camera-caught and ghostly. Why so many? Maybe the pandemic gave nonhumans silence and space, a chance to reproduce? I doubt that’s true. What’s new is we’re out of the house. We’re talking again. There aren’t more animals, just more sightings, more casual conversations, more connections. I am relieved.” • Well worth a read. A bit of a sting in the tail….

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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 (ChiGal):

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

Looks like hummingbirds and beneficial insects have had their way with that bee balm….

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

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/17/2021

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

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