Wednesday , October 20 2021
Home / Naked Capitalism / 2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Patient readers, this is my promised pantry clearout of Health Care and Biosphere links. Presumably anything important in politics today will take the form of a 5:00 horror, and so I will move on to a pantry clearout on Class Warfare. –lambert UPDATE Not all done, exactly, but enough for today. Bird Song of the Day For our Mauritius readers. * * * #COVID19 At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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. I think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was

Lambert Strether considers the following as important: ,

This could be interesting, too:

Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 10/18/2021

Jerri-Lynn Scofield writes Links 10/18/2021

Jerri-Lynn Scofield writes Insurance Focused on Virtual Visits? The Pros and Cons of a New Twist in Health Plans

Yves Smith writes Bad Biden Foreign Policy

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is my promised pantry clearout of Health Care and Biosphere links. Presumably anything important in politics today will take the form of a 5:00 horror, and so I will move on to a pantry clearout on Class Warfare. –lambert UPDATE Not all done, exactly, but enough for today.

Bird Song of the Day

For our Mauritius readers.

* * *


At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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. I think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was to see if the advent of the “adults in the room” boosted the vaccination rate at all, and it did not. (Hence, kudos to the heroic efforts of people on the ground.)

Vaccination by region:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

Coercion works? Or boosters? As exhortation, Biden’s speech had no impact at all.

56.2% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Saudi Arabia). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. 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 10/8/2021

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. The question is whether we will ascend to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. Ditto the Midwest. And now the Northeast is falling as well.

We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population 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: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, 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. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, despite anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 1, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

A burst of green in Maine and the Mountain states. Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. 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 10/8/2021

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

Test positivity:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

The South looks like it’s back on track (given its rapid decline pre-data debacle). But what happens when test kits from Walgreens and CVS become dominant, and no reporting is done? We’re already partway there.

Hospitalization (CDC). Everything works today:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down.

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

Mountain states still stubbornly high. Tennessee’s long ordeal seems to be ending.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

Total: 730,413 727,826. A definite downward trend, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found 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.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases worldwide:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

European exceptionalism?

* * *


“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

Oh well, nevertheless:

Checking for a 5:00 horror, but at 2:00PM, I saw these headlines in Politico:

‘If He Makes a Successful Return in 2024, Democracy’s Done’ Fiona Hill, of Trump

Democrats likely to throw billions in tax hikes overboard as spending plans shrink

Sanders blames centrist opposition on drug industry donations That’s hardly fair; it’s not only Big Pharma

The Democrats seem to be doing a pretty good job destroying democracy all on their own. I don’t see why they would need Trump’s help, except as a convenient target for the blame cannons.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Antonio Gramsci, Cultural Marxism, Wokeness, and Leninism 4.0” [New Discourse]. • “Antonio Gramsci, Cultural Marxism, Wokeness, and Leninism 4.0” [New Discourse]. • A little child reading the brands and the warning labels aloud while playing with power tools.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added a meager 194K jobs in September, of 2021, the lowest so far this year and well below forecasts of 500K. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (74K), professional and business services (60K), retail trade (56K), and transportation and warehousing (47K). Meanwhile, employment declined sharply in public education (-161K) and in health care (-18K).” • Interesting that “essential workers” in health care and education would leave the workforce. I wonder why? Some angst over this one:’

Weisenthal comments:

The number is out and it’s another big miss. Just 194,000 jobs created in the month, less than the 500,000 consensus estimate.

However, the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%. Combined, these two numbers tell a story of slow hiring and seemingly tight labor markets at the same time.

Despite persistent frustration among employers that the labor market is “tight” (from their perspective), we’re still millions of jobs in the hole relative to where we likely would have been at this point in the absence of the pandemic.

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in September 2021, from 5.2 percent in the previous month and below market expectations of 5.1 percent. It was the lowest rate since March 2020, as many people left the labor force and the negative effects of Hurricane Ida and the Delta variant’s summer spike started to fade. Still, the jobless rate remained well above the pre-crisis level of about 3.5 percent due to ongoing labor shortages but is seen declining further in the coming months as companies fill widespread vacancies and as more workers are expected to go back into the labor force.” • “Are expected” lacks agency…

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US rose 1.2 percent month-over-month to $731.1 billion in August of 2021, in line with the preliminary estimate and accelerating from a 0.6 percent increase in July. It was the 13th consecutive month of gains, amid increases in both durable goods (1.2 percent vs 1.2 percent in July) and non-durable goods inventories (1.1 percent vs -0.3 percent). On a yearly basis, wholesale inventories advanced 12.3 percent in August.” • As they should, if Just-In-Time doesn’t work anymore because the supply chain is borked.

* * *

Retail: “Hated Brands by State” [The Big Picture]. • In several states, the most hated brand is Lego. How can that be?

UPDATE Retail: “The Truth About Those Dollar Stores” [Consumer Reports]. “Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree are billion-dollar brands taking over the discount/value retail space, as the category is called, and are sweeping the country. About 75 percent of us live within 5 miles of one of Dollar General’s 17,683 stores, the company says. Only about 60 percent of us live that close to a hospital. Counting just those three brands, dollar stores in this country outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. And more are coming…. But how good are the savings, really? To investigate, I teamed up with other CR staffers and secret shoppers in eight locations across the country to go to nearby outposts of each of the three leading national dollar store chains, as well as two local supermarkets. We all had the same basic shopping list of common household items…. Even as a third-generation dollar store shopper, I’ve been dubious about these stores being places to save. So I was surprised that all of us CR shoppers found that a dollar store was less expensive, on a unit-cost basis, than supermarkets for our items. At least, that is, for those items we were able to find. And that is a big caveat. While we all live near a branch of each dollar store chain—the Dollar Tree I go to most often is a 13-minute walk from my Brooklyn, N.Y., home—they weren’t exactly convenient. We had more trouble at dollar stores finding what we needed. For example, many of us found that a dollar store might have only one brand of dish soap, or just single-serving containers of popular breakfast cereals.” • I wonder if dollar stores will be more vulnerable to supply chain collapse, or less?

The Bezzle: Justine Haupt should be doing this instead of hacking open-source hardware:

Sure, it’s only a joke but why?

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s move to Texas further mars ESG credentials” [Reuters]. “Texas is a strange place to put an electric-power champion these days, but Tesla (TSLA.O) boss Elon Musk isn’t exactly known for following convention. He just unveiled plans to relocate the company’s headquarters to Austin. The reasons provided don’t add up, and he probably isn’t escaping the government interference that irked him. Musk threatened in May last year to up sticks from the Palo Alto area that has served as Tesla’s base since its founding in 2003. The rationale was California’s Covid-19 lockdowns that forced his factory to close, measures he called ‘fascist’. Remarks at the annual meeting on Thursday avoided reprising the theme. Instead, Musk linked the decision read more to a lack of space and the cost of living in the Bay Area. Both are valid points, but more for factory workers than well-paid executives. And a head office needn’t be in the same place as what might become its biggest production facility…. Moving to Texas further mars Musk’s environmental, social and governance [ESG] credentials, giving investors increasingly focused on such matters even more reasons to think twice.” • Perhaps Texas will allow Musk to treat his workforce even more poorly?

Tech: “Updates on the Twitch Security Incident” [Twitch]. “We have learned that some data was exposed to the internet due to an error in a Twitch server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party. Our teams are working with urgency to investigate the incident.” • That’s two major outages in a week due to server configuration changes. Isn’t managing things like that one reason we have big tech firms, I mean supposedly?

Concentration: “The Iowa Farm Bureau is a small nonprofit. It’s sitting on a huge business empire” [Midwest Center for Investigative Journalism]. “In May, senior executives at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation finalized a little-noticed financial maneuver that could boost their income for years to come. While a nonprofit, the Farm Bureau owned a highly profitable, publicly traded insurance business, FBL Financial Group. For nearly a year, the executives — whose incomes depended on FBL — had wanted to privatize the company. But the move spurred several lawsuits, with a major investor publicly accusing the Farm Bureau of low-balling the remaining shareholders it was attempting to buy out. To settle, the Farm Bureau paid investors more, and the deal closed this spring. If history is any indication, the move was a smart one, at least for Farm Bureau leaders. A review of public filings, depositions and internal memos show Farm Bureau leaders have benefitted for years from the nonprofit’s majority ownership of the insurance company. The story of FBL also highlights the complicated nature of the modern Iowa Farm Bureau, and the potential conflicts of interest at the heart of the nonprofit organization that sits atop multiple for-profit companies.” • If everything is like CalPERS, the Iowa Farm Bureau is a cesspit.

Mr. Market:


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 27 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 8 at 12:39pm.

The Biosphere

“Climate Change Is the New Dot-Com Bubble” [Wired]. ” I made a list of all the interesting climate startups, around 2,000 of them, and turned it into an ebook so I could read it on my phone at night…. Sometimes, as I scrolled down the list, a big investment would catch my eye—$60 million for a company that promises to take carbon dioxide out of the air, $68 million for one that will turn it into fuel and materials. But the funding thins out quickly. It’s easy for investors to get distracted; there are just so many butter knives we could wield against the dragon of global collapse…. I began to feel a strong sense of déjà vu. I couldn’t place it until, one night, in the glow of the e-reader, I realized: It’s Web 1.0 all over again. We are in the era of climate. The comedy of the technology industry is playing again as a kind of Ibsenian tragedy: Scientists and academics told everyone about this thing for decades, and almost everyone ignored them. But then enough people got interested, and now there’s a market. And as a result there are a million business models, a million solutions, huge promises of the change to come: We’ll pour everything we have into green-energy infrastructure. We’ll transact in carbon marketplaces. We’ll pull a trillion tons of CO2 out of the air every year. Never mind that today we can do about 0.0005 percent of that, which rounds to nothing…. There are good VCs being venturesome with their capital. There are funds that are investing in green things. But—and God help me for wishing it—there’s no Google, no Apple or Microsoft, no monster in the middle taking its cut. There isn’t one carbon market; there isn’t one set of standards to follow; there are dozens of options, which means there isn’t really anything at all. Whole careers are dedicated, wonderful people, great science, online carbon calculators, but for right now it rounds to nothing. Amazon Web Services hosts open climate data, but I wish there were an AWS for climate. I wish I could tell you what it should do. I assume that the money will come. There are too many hot days for it not to. And obviously I want things to go differently this time. But I don’t know how you bootstrap a globe-spanning bureaucracy yesterday. I can’t even tell you what infrastructure we need, just that in general infrastructure evolves, slowly, in response to tragedy. Worse, if my déjà vu is accurate and history repeats itself—if the internet was the last big thing, and climate is the next big thing (or the last big thing)—then we aren’t at the precipice of a new era. We’re at the beginning of a bubble. The trillions in investment have to go somewhere. By the time all the money is spent, the companies in my ebook will probably be gone, save for a few dozen.” • Unsettling, extremely plausible, and well worth a read.

“Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers: the End is Nigh” [James Fallows, Breaking the News]. “Pound for pound, gallon for gallon, hour-for-hour, the two-stroke gas powered engines in leaf blowers and similar equipment are vastly the dirtiest and most polluting kind of machinery still in legal use….. [T]hese machines persist in American landscaping because they are cheap. And because—to be brutally honest—the people paying the greatest price in much of suburban American are the hired lawn-crew workers.Those workers are convenient to hire, at the moment. But they are not likely to be in the neighborhood 10 or 15 years from now, when they are deafened, or have lung disease, or need other forms of care as the worst long-term health consequences kick in.” • That’s what we call a win-win situation….

“#PeatData” [@PeatlandECR (MA)]. “This is a collection of peatland data initiatives (i.e. databases specifically targeted to peatland data as well as databases that contain some peat data amidst other soil, carbon or vegetation data).” • It would be even more amazing if the various databases were integrated or crosslinked, like on a big map, but I assume there are funding efforts in train… For NC on peat, see here, here, here, and here.

“Vast area of Scottish Highlands to be rewilded in ambitious 30-year project” [Guardian]. “A large swathe of the Scottish Highlands stretching between the west coast and Loch Ness is to be rewilded as part of a 30-year project to restore nature. The Affric Highlands initiative aims to increase connected habitats and species diversity over an area of 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres), incorporating Kintail mountain range, and glens Cannich, Moriston and Shiel. Plans include planting trees, enhancing river corridors, restoring peat bogs and creating nature-friendly farming practices. The project has been launched after two years of conversations and meetings between local communities and conservationists from rewilding charity Trees for Life. Similar to the WildEast project in East Anglia, it is a community-led effort to restore nature over a large area, which organisers hope will be a catalyst for social and economic regeneration. ‘This was once a much more peopled landscape that was rich with wildlife and we think we can find new ways to establish that connection again, today,’ said Alan McDonnell, a conservation manager at Trees for Life, and the project leader. ‘The idea of doing it at scale is that you get a much bigger natural response because you’ve got room for change and dynamism in that landscape.’ The Affric Highlands initiative is located west of the Cairngorms Connect project, which is one of the UK’s largest land restoration projects at 60,000 hectares.” • Colonel Smithers comments:

One stumbling block to rewilding in the Thames valley is farmers selling peripheral land to well to do Londoners who want to make artisan beer, bread, cheese, gin, wine and whisky, something that has accelerated in the pandemic. Hobby farmers do bring in jobs and money in rural communities. The produce is good, too.

IMNSHO, we should do the same thing for the entire Great Plains. Pay the people who live on the prairie to be stewards of it (which many claim to be already, and some actually are).

“11 stats on Washington’s problematic so-called ‘murder hornets’” [High Country News]. “The Asian giant hornet, colloquially known as “the murder hornet,” is the largest of its kind in the world and is notorious for its decimation of honeybee hives. In the Pacific Northwest, the first confirmed sighting of the hornet (scientific name: Vespa Mandarinia) came in December 2019. At the time, the WSDA created a public hotline for reported sightings and received thousands of tips, leading to the extermination of the first nest found in the state in 2020, which contained over 500 hornets. But the species persisted, and the nest found last week was home to approximately 1,500 hornets. The WSDA’s recent effort was successful thanks to a resident who spotted an Asian giant hornet attacking paper wasp nests on their property, snapped a picture and sent it to the department. Once the sighting was confirmed by the WSDA, agents were able to capture live hornets in the area and affix radio tags to three of them with a piece of kevlar thread. One eventually led them back to the nest.” • By “giant,” we mean 1.75 inches. Good thing that’s not 1.75 feet, but still…

“Hundreds of giant sequoias may have burned to death in KNP Complex, Windy fires” [Los Angeles Times]. “Hundreds of giant sequoias may have been killed after high-intensity flames from the KNP Complex fire tore through several groves of the massive trees in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Since igniting Sept. 9, the lightning-sparked blaze has encroached on 15 groves of the colossal trees, with two that appear to have been at least partially subjected to high-severity fire, said Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science for the parks. The extent of the damage to those groves — Redwood Mountain and Castle Creek — won’t be known until officials can survey the area, either from the air or the ground, she said…. Park officials on Wednesday wrote on Facebook that they suspect some groves were hit by flames severe enough ‘to result in sequoia mortality, possibly for significant numbers of trees (hundreds).’ The post said personnel were prioritizing and treating threatened groves outside the current fire perimeter, as well as ‘mopping up trees that need it,’ extinguishing residual fires and cooling them down.”

“October wildfire potential to remain high in Montana, Northern California, and the Carolinas” [Wildfire Today]. • Handy map:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

“Los Angeles shifts water supplies as drought hammers State Water Project” [Los Angeles Times]. • “Don’t worry. We’ll just buy it somewhere else.”

Water, everywhere:

A BBC documentary on the Satoyama system of integrating of landscape, towns, rivers, canals, fields, forest, wildlife…. Part one:

Oy, the swelling, heart-tugging music. But the landscape itself is interesting. Part two.

From a trip to an abandoned sanatorium/medium-security prison/wannabe hydroponic farming company:

Health Care

“Quantifying human and environmental viral load relationships amidst mitigation strategies in a controlled chamber with participants having COVID-19” (preprint) [Research Square]. I grant, n=11. Here is the entire Abtract:

Several studies indicate that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted within indoor spaces. Therefore, environmental characterization of SARS-CoV-2 viral load with respect to human activity, building parameters, and environmental mitigation strategies is critical to combat disease transmission. We recruited 11 participants diagnosed with COVID-19 to individually occupy a controlled chamber and conduct specified physical activities under a range of environmental conditions; we collected human and environmental samples over a period of three days for each participant. Here we show that increased viral load, measured by lower RNA cycle threshold (CT) values, in nasal samples is associated with higher viral loads in environmental aerosols and surfaces captured in both the near field (1.2 m) and far field (3.5 m). At ambient conditions with ~ 0 Air Changes per Hour (ACH), near field measurements showed a higher particulate matter abundance and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration as compared to far field measurements. We also found that aerosol viral load in far field is correlated with the number of particulates within the range of 1 µm -2.5 µm. Furthermore, increased ventilation and filtration are associated with lower environmental viral loads, and higher relative humidity is associated with lower aerosol viral loads and higher surface viral loads, consistent with an increased rate of particle deposition. Data from near field aerosol trials with high expiratory activities suggest that respiratory particles of smaller sizes (0.3 µm -1 µm) best characterize the variance of near field aerosol viral load. Moreover, our findings indicate that building operation practices such as ventilation, filtration, and humidification substantially reduce the environmental aerosol viral load, and therefore inhalation dose, and should be prioritized to improve building health and safety.

B-b-but that would cost money, and besides, individualism.

“The impact of real-time whole genome sequencing in controlling healthcare-associated SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks” [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. “We utilised whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify outbreaks and focus infection control resources and intervention during the UK’s second pandemic wave in late 2020. Phylogenetic analysis of WGS and epidemiological data pinpointed an initial transmission event to an admission ward, with immediate prior community infection linkage documented. High incidence of asymptomatic staff infection with genetically identical viral sequences was also observed, which may have contributed to the propagation of the outbreak. WGS allowed timely nosocomial transmission intervention measures, including admissions ward point of care testing and introduction of portable HEPA14 filters. Conversely WGS excluded nosocomial transmission in two instances with temporospatial linkage, conserving time and resources. In summary, WGS significantly enhanced understanding of SARS-CoV-2 clusters in a hospital setting, both identifying high risk areas and conversely validating existing control measures in other units, maintaining clinical service overall.” • I understand the necessity for cheap, mass testing, for anyone and everyone. But why stop there? And why not forward samples up the line for WGS?

“America’s pandemic is now an outlier in the rich world” [The Economist]. Handy chart, which I have helpfully annotated:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

Enjoy your vacation, America!

“Chinese scientists say wild animals should be screened for coronavirus to cut risk of deadly variants being transmitted back to humans” [South China Morning Post]. “Chinese health experts have called for intensive monitoring of the coronavirus in wild animals, warning that its spread between different species risks further dangerous variants. A number of animals have been found to be susceptible to Covid-19, and the potential for ongoing mutations of the virus in these animals, such as mink, poses ‘a huge threat to public health if they transmitted back to humans’, wrote the report’s lead author Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘It is necessary to carry out large-scale Sars-CoV-2 screening for terrestrial and marine wildlife, especially those susceptible ones … so as to formulate further prevention and control strategies,’ said Gao and co-author Wang Liang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a perspective published in the China CDC’s weekly bulletin.” • Unfortunately, I can’t find the original.

UPDATE “NBA star Andrew Wiggins on getting vaccinated: ‘I guess you don’t own your body'” [The Hill]. “‘I guess to do certain stuff, to work and all that, I guess you don’t own your body,’ Wiggins said. ‘That’s what it comes down to. You want to work in society today, I guess they make the rules of what goes into your body and what you do.'”

UPDATE “On Kyrie Irving’s Vaccine Refusal” [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jacobin]. Nice get for Jacobin. “After Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins received criticism for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine for personal reasons, his teammate Draymond Green said the public needs to ‘honor’ that decision: ‘There is something to be said for people’s concerns about something that’s being pressed so hard,’ he stated. ‘Why are you pressing this so hard? You have to honor people’s feelings and their own personal beliefs.’ To which LeBron responded that he ‘couldn’t have said it better myself.’ Actually, it couldn’t have been said worse. On the surface, it appears that Draymond and LeBron are arguing for the American ideal of individual freedom of choice. But they offer no arguments in support of it, nor do they define the limits of when one person’s choice is harmful to the community. They are merely shouting, ‘I’m for freedom.’ We’re all for freedom, but not at the expense of others or if it damages the country. That’s why we mandate seat belts, motorcycle helmets, car insurance, and education for our children…. I think of the situation like those old fire brigades, when people stood in a line, passing buckets of water to save their neighbor’s house from burning to the ground. Maybe some people were afraid to join the line. But when the town leaders joined in, it encouraged others to do their duty. Today’s celebrities and athletes are like those town leaders. You either join the line to save your neighbor’s home, or you stand by and let it burn because you don’t owe them anything.” • Yup.

Our Famously Free Press

Who knew, trust is not an infinitely renewable resource, so the elites can’t just strip mine it:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Massive takedown of the 1619 Project (hat tip, alert reader jr):

I keep linking to this post from Adolph Reed — The Trouble with Uplift — but it applies perfectly to Hannah-Jones and her project. If you haven’t read it, please do.

Class Warfare


From Google, the only venue covering this? WSWS.

UPDATE On the Kelloggs strike:

* * *

UPDATE So many updates here I’m not going to bother to label them.

“Facing a merger and a pay cut, chicken farmers push back” [Food and Environment Reporting Network]. “Decades of mergers and vertical integration have left the poultry industry dominated by a handful of companies. Those companies have near-total control over the contract farmers, determining everything from the types of birds they raise to what those birds are fed, how they’re medicated and how and when they’re slaughtered. The farmers don’t own the chickens but any losses are the farmer’s responsibility. The typical U.S. grower has over $1 million in loans and the take-home pay is often a far cry from what the company advertises during recruitment. In the years before Rusty died, Trina said, they had negative cash flow for at least part of the time, and were relying on credit cards for groceries and other household expenses. But the McClendons made it work. Their farm is one of the best performing in their region, consistently ranking in the top five in the tournament system, the scheme through which poultry farmers are paid bonuses, or assessed penalties, based on how well they perform compared to other farmers. Their farm produces mainly broilers, large chickens raised for their meat.” • Holy moley, a tournament system for farmers…

“Blue Marriage and The Terror of Divorce” [Culture Study]. “It is a failing of white bourgeois feminism that its adherents have failed to agitate in ways that are un-ignorable for significant changes that make single life — including single life as a mother — possible. Which is why it’s not enough, not nearly, for bourgeois feminists to embrace a Blue understanding of marriage* and the privileges it affords. As Britney Cooper writes in the foreword to Kyla Shuller’s The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism, “it’s not that white women can’t do good in the world or be useful allies in feminist world-making. The problems, rather, is white feminism and its gravely limited conception of how to address the injustices that all women face.’ Feminist liberation will only arrive when we have the genuine freedom to not just have the option to be alone, and/or without children, but for that option to be stable, and to feel complete, and, as feminists have long promised, and as I personally believe, for that path to be understood as what it is: glorious.” • Funny how “white” is so often as identical with “bourgeois.” It’s not, it’s really not. NOTE * By this, the author means: “You can see the larger ideological consequences of these paradigms: the Blue Model, according to Carbone and Cahn, “places less emphasis on family form (marriage by itself is not the answer) and more on creating an infrastructure (e.g., education, family-friendly jobs, access to contraception and abortion) that encourages the right choices.” The Red Model creates a system “that tries to channel sexuality and childbearing into marriage in an economy that fails to provide a financial basis that can sustain resulting unions.” And so: participants in Blue marriages who theoretically place less value on the institution of marriage have longer lasting marriages, whereas people in Red marriages divorce quicker and at a higher rate.” FWIW, I think the author’s view of “Red Marriages” (assuming the posited binary) is a little schematic. I would venture to guess that “blended families” are far more prevalent in “Red Marriages” than the author suggests, simply because of the carnage that deindustrialization and the opioid epidemic (plus meth) have wrought.

“Where do public lands factor into the homelessness crisis?” [High Country News]. “[There is] a growing contingent of Americans living nomadically in vans, RVs and tents on U.S. public land. Most of those approximately 625 million acres are managed by federal agencies, including the BLM, the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Many tribal, state and municipal agencies also allow camping on their public lands. Most nomads opt out of established fee-based campgrounds in favor of free dispersed camping — also known as primitive camping, boondocking and dry camping — a time-honored tradition across the West that often involves driving up a forest access road to a pullout without toilets, running water or other amenities. The rules vary across the different land-management agencies, but most allow campers to spend 14 days in one location. For some nomads, camping is a lifestyle choice, popularized by Instagram hashtags and the possibilities of remote work. For others, though, it’s a necessity owing to crises such as lost jobs, mental illness and housing costs.”

“Billionaires Won’t Save the World” [Tribune]. “The billionaire class which profits exorbitantly from the exploitation of workers and the plunder of nature have really taken to throwing breadcrumbs at the environmental movement – no surprise, given how consistently lauded they are for it by the mainstream press…. What ties these billionaire philanthropic initiatives together? As mentioned, they are all modest sums of money relative both to that which nation states are able to mobilise and to the billionaires’ own wealth. Additionally, they are usually constructed as a prize. … The focus also tends to be on sucking carbon out of the atmosphere, rather than developing technologies that would allow us to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Finally, these prizes are heavily PR-driven. As the beneficiaries of global inequality and ecological collapse, it’s not surprising that billionaires may be conscious of their public reputation. What better way to rehabilitate their brand than by whipping up fawning media attention over your efforts to save the world?”

“The Forms of Capital” (PDF) [Pierre Bourdieu (1986)]. “Capital is accumulated labor (in its materialized form or its “incorporated,” embodied form) which, when appropriated on a private, i.e., exclusive, basis by agents or groups of agents, enables them to appropriate social energy in the form of reified or living labor….. Depending on the field in which it functions, and at the cost of the more or less expensive transformations which are the precondition for its efficacy in the field in question, capital can present itself in three fundamental guises: as economic capital, which is immediately and directly convertible into money and may be institutionalized in the form of property rights; as cultural capital, which is convertible, in certain conditions, into economic capital and may be institutionalized in the form of educational qualifications; and as social capital, made up of social obligations (“connections”), which is convertible, in certain conditions, into economic capital and may be institutionalized in the form of a title of nobility.” • I would swear that I read this article — Orthodoxy, illusio, and playing the scientific game: a Bourdieusian analysis of infection control science in the COVID-19 pandemic, by Trisha Greenhalgh (!) et al. — this month, but it turns out we linked to it in May (!!). In any case, the PDF linked to here is a 15-page pager, but there is also a 500-page tome. I think I’ll order it, just for grins.

News of the Wired

“Frugal Radio: Decoding Fire, Ambulance MDT and Hospital Pagers With SDR++ and PDW” [RTL-SDR.COM]. • You’ll like this, if this is the sort of thing you like.

Guess what, nothing about this building is really transparent:

Here’s an article describing One Vanderbilt’s architecture. It reads like an extremely peculiar variety of pr0n.

* * *

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 (via):

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/8/2021

A mushroon fron below.

* * *

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 10/8/2021

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.