2:00PM Water Cooler 1/31/2024 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Shrike, Chemin Bradley, St-Armand, Brome-Missisquoi, Quebec, Canada.

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

The Constitutional Order (Invasion)

“Election Countdown, 282 Days to Go: The “States’ Rights” Era Returns.” [James Fallows, Breaking the News]. “This past Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US federal government had jurisdiction over US national borders. And specifically that if Texas National Guard and other Texas forces kept installing razor wire along the Rio Grande, on orders from Governor Greg Abbott, they could not prevent US Border Patrol officers from removing it. The Supreme Court ruling came with no explanation and was only by a 5-4 margin. It’s a sign of our times that this was even a close call, given longstanding Court rulings that the national government controls national borders. Americans hold passports from the United States, not from Iowa or California. When an international flight lands at Newark airport, inbound passengers deal with federal agents, not New Jersey state police…. The politics of immigration and ‘the mess at the border’ are long-brewing and increasingly nasty. But the Texas reaction is significant. The Supreme Court said: Here is what you will do. Texas said: We won’t. That’s oversimplified but not by much. Even more important is what happened next. Apart from Greg Abbott in Texas, there are 26 other Republican governors. All but one of them signed a letter three days ago, supporting the Texas assertion of ‘Constitutional Right to Self-Defense.’” • To be fair, gun-humping does scale. Look at Biden’s foreign policy! Handy map:

Good think those nukes in North Dakota are obsolete….

“Republican Governors Band Together, Issue Joint Statement Supporting Texas’ Constitutional Right to Self-Defense” [Republican Governors Association]. “The authors of the U.S. Constitution made clear that in times like this, states have a right of self-defense, under Article 4, Section 4 and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Because the Biden Administration has abdicated its constitutional compact duties to the states, Texas has every legal justification to protect the sovereignty of our states and our nation.” • Compact theory. Hat tip, Greg Abbott (far more effective and dangerous than that short fella from Florida).

Biden Administration

“Our Open Border Policy Is Not an Accident” [Michael Lind, The Tablet]. “Over the past three years, the Biden administration has effectively rewritten U.S. immigration law, creating an entirely new stream of quasi-legal immigration under the rubric of “parole.” The discretion of the federal government to grant parole or legal residence and work permits to a small number of refugees and other foreign nationals has been used by the Biden administration to rip a hole in America’s southern border in order to invite millions of foreign nationals, most of them from Latin America and Central America and the Caribbean, to travel to the U.S. border, from which they are dispersed across the country and supported chiefly by state and local governments and government-funded NGOs. As of September 2023, an estimated 3.8 million immigrants entered the U.S. under the Biden administration. Of these, 2.3 million have been given Notices to Appear (NTAs) before an immigration court—which could allow them to stay in the U.S. in a ‘twilight status’ for years before a court date. Of the rest, an estimated 1.5 million are illegal immigrants who sneaked across the border or overstayed their visas and remain, with the government having no idea of their whereabouts, and with Democrat-dominated ‘sanctuary cities’ actively thwarting the ability of federal immigration officials to identify and deport them.” And: “America’s economic elite agrees that immigrant-driven wage suppression, thanks in part to Biden’s policies, has ameliorated inflation. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell in 2022 attributed inflation in part to lower numbers of immigrants. The chief political economist of Goldman Sachs, Alec Phillips, recently declared that ‘the labor market has started to loosen up,’ reducing the ability of workers to bid up wages: ‘And there’s clearly been a disproportionate contribution from immigrants.’ Although immigrants are only 18% of the workforce, three-quarters of the increase in the labor supply over the last two years [i.e., since the pandemic] has consisted of immigrant workers.” • Making up the million lost to Covid, I would imagine, who were disproportionately working class.


Less than a year to go!

* * *

Trump (R): “Trump Will Win” [The American Conservative]. “Trump’s voters look for America and worry they see a future Brazil. Their detractors blame the Electoral College, or talk radio, or ignorance, or Putin. So are Trump’s win in 2016 and likely win in 2024 inexplicable? Try again.” • Hard to excerpt…

Trump (R): “This Isn’t Only a Trump Election” [Peggy Noonan]. “[Haley] could ruminate on the Trump tragedy. He was a breakthrough figure, he did defeat a weak and detached establishment. But he can’t be president again because there’s something wrong with him. We [who?] all know this, we all use different words to describe the ‘something,’ but we know what it produces: impeachments, embarrassments, scandal, 1/6.” All of which appear by spontaneous generation, apparently. More: “Meanwhile three things cause unique disquiet among the non-Trump-supporting majority in America, especially after Iowa. One is that in 2016 Trump supporters didn’t know precisely what they were getting. Now they do. Eight years ago it was a very American thing to do, giving the outsider a chance. You never know in life, people grow in office, the presidency softens rough edges. That didn’t happen. They know what they’re electing now. Second, when Mr. Trump first came in, in 2017, he didn’t know a president’s true and legitimate powers, he wasn’t interested in history, wasn’t up nights reading Robert Caro. He got rolled by a Republican Congress, was too incompetent to get a wall, was surrounded by political aides who were inexperienced and unaccomplished—the famous “island of broken toys.” This time he’ll go in with experience and can be more effectively bad. How long will it take before he starts saying the Constitution mandates a limit of two presidential terms, but his second term was stolen so that means he gets another term after this one? Third, Mr. Trump shouldn’t be president, and neither should Joe Biden, because they aren’t what we need for the future. What do we need? Someone who feels in her or his gut the wound of the open border and will stop illegal immigration; someone who can cut through the knot of ‘globalism’ vs. ‘isolationism,’ a serious argument that is becoming a cartoon one (internationalists don’t really want to start wars all over; isolationists know we are part of the world and can’t just pull up the bridge). If we can cut through all that we’ll go some distance to forging a true national stance toward the world, and only then can we answer the proper strategy toward China, the responsibility of America in Asia and the Mideast. Someone who can take on identity politics, who knows we all must stand equal. Someone who can reiterate the idea that we do have national values. Those few (but huge) things, if a leader got them right, would mark a national comeback, and not a further sinking into the mire of the dramas of the past decade.” • Hey, how about not whacking a few hundred thousand people after declaring the Covid pandemic is over?

Trump (R): “Trump Is Not the Cause of the Chaos” [RealClearPolitics]. “Trump’s chief primary opponent, Nikki Haley, says that “chaos” accompanies him. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan argues that ‘impeachments, embarrassments, scandal, [and] 1/6’ follow in his wake. Democrats and their stenographers at once-great news organizations say Trump’s description of his enemies as ‘vermin’ upon whom he will seek “retribution” is proof that he plans to rule as a murderous dictator. In their telling, all of this has come out of thin air – the uncaused cause and inevitable result of Trump’s movement across the landscape. Like the winds and thunderclaps of yore, he unleashes himself upon an innocent people. The tumult is solely a reflection of his evil nature. This is superficial to the point of being laughable, but it’s the story they’re telling. Trump is not the cause of this uproar. The behavior they deem beyond the pale and disqualifying is largely the effect of the vicious and dishonest attacks they have leveled against him since he announced his candidacy in 2015. Donald Trump is the greatest victim not felled by an assassin in the history of the presidency. No one has more of a right to express grievance than this man whose enemies have sought retribution against him for the sin of winning an election. He is not a cosmic force determined to impose his will, but a man under siege who largely lashes out in self-defense.”

Trump (R): “To beat Trump, we need to know why Americans keep voting for him. Psychologists may have the answer: [George Monbiot]. “Trump is king of the extrinsics. Some psychologists believe our values tend to cluster around certain poles, described as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”. People with a strong set of intrinsic values are inclined towards empathy, intimacy and self-acceptance. They tend to be open to challenge and change, interested in universal rights and equality, and protective of other people and the living world. People at the extrinsic end of the spectrum are more attracted to prestige, status, image, fame, power and wealth. They are strongly motivated by the prospect of individual reward and praise. They are more likely to objectify and exploit other people, to behave rudely and aggressively and to dismiss social and environmental impacts. They have little interest in cooperation or community. People with a strong set of extrinsic values are more likely to suffer from frustration, dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, anger and compulsive behaviour. Trump exemplifies extrinsic values.” • Wowsers. DId I grumble recently about binary thinking? Or projection? Or cope?

* * *

Trump (R): “The Beltway Judge Hearing Trump Cases and Her Anti-Trump, Anti-Kavanaugh Husband” [Julie Kelly, RealClearInvestigations]. “For months progressives have been insisting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any case that involves Trump because of his wife Ginni Thomas’ political involvement and participation in the events of Jan. 6. Those same interests have yet to express similar worries about [Judge Florence Y. Pan’s] objectivity, despite her husband’s longtime political activism and current opposition to another Trump presidency… Power couples are the lifeblood of Washington so it’s not unusual for political activists, judges, and White House bigwigs to rub elbows at fancy soirees like the October gala at the Kennedy Center. But Max Stier’s longtime ties to the Democratic Party, his access to key Biden administration officials, and his suggestion that Trump represents a threat to democracy at the same time his wife is handling sensitive matters related to the Department of Justice’s prosecution of the former president should raise questions about her impartiality.”

* * *

Biden (D): “Why Is Biden Running?” [Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal]. Jenkins is a member of the Journal’s editorial board. “If Mr. Biden heeded the wishes of apparently 70% of voters, not only would he be freer now to take some steps vis-à-vis Iran and others that might be good for the country. Dominating the political news wouldn’t be Mr. Trump’s rout of a weakly contested GOP primary. It would be the thrilling battle of for the privilege of taking on the scandalized Mr. Trump and, in all likelihood, becoming the next president.” And: “If Mr. Trump is such a danger to America, democracy and apple pie, shouldn’t Mr. Biden be heeding voters, stepping aside and opening the door to —albeit not represented by Adam Schiff, of course—with some class and decency, who can put up a better show against Mr. Trump?” • Correct. Everybody knows what a strong bench the Democrats have!

* * *

D: “Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza” [New York Times]. “As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it. More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.” • Interesting, but I search in vain for a mention of South Carolina.

D: Some state Democrats breaking with the national party on Gaza:

* * *

“Pandemic lessons for the 2024 US presidential election” [BMJ]. “During the devastating global covid-19 pandemic, one nation stood out: the United States saw “eye wateringly high” death rates compared with its peer nations. The 1.16 million Americans killed by covid-19 represent 16% of global deaths in a nation with 4% of the world’s population. One in three Americans knows someone who died from covid-19, about 300 000 children are estimated to have lost one or both parents, and there is a substantial burden of long covid.” On the bright side, we can eat again at Appleby’s with no masks! A new series at BMJ. See under Class Warfare.

Republican Funhouse

“Right-wing media figures target Taylor Swift with absurd conspiracy theory ahead of the Super Bowl” [CNN]. Not a fan of Swift’s, given her tour of superspreading events. “Right-wing media is burning red at Taylor Swift. With the Kansas City Chiefs headed to Super Bowl LVIII, influential MAGA Media personalities have started circulating conspiracy theories about the pop superstar, promoting the deranged notion that she is part of a sprawling psychological operations plot staged by the NFL and Democratic Party to deliver the 2024 presidential election to President Joe Biden. The attacks on Swift have been steadily building for weeks (see Fox News host Jesse Watters asking on his prime time program earlier this month if Swift is a ‘Pentagon asset,’ for example), but it reached a fever pitch on Monday. The bad blood is related to Swift’s 2020 endorsement of President Joe Biden and the fact that Travis Kelce, the Chiefs tight end whom she is dating, participated in an advertising campaign for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. A Monday story published by The New York Times, which noted Biden would like Swift’s endorsement again this year, added fuel to the fire.” • “I need to be on the right side of history”:

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Democrats rashly ignore political problems among their own usual voters” [Washington Examiner]. Well-meant advice from Republicans to Democrats, a genre unto itself. Nevertheless: “Biden’s problems include inflation, the border crisis, the Middle East, and his advanced age. The one most ignored, though, is the sin Clinton committed and Biden is continuing: the utter dismissal of the lives, their interests, and the contributions to this country of the people who live in places like here in Boone County or in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, or Mahoning County, Ohio, or Kenosha County, Wisconsin or Macomb County, Michigan.” • Or East Palestine, OH.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Americans Losing Trust in Nearly All Professions” [America’s New Majority Project]. “An initiative led by Gingrich 360,” so cum grano salis. Nevertheless:

Gallup’s 2023 Honesty and Ethics poll asked 800 respondents from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20 to rate the honesty and ethical standards of 23 listed professions. Nearly all answered negatively compared to previous years, following a downward trend in ratings since 2019:

  • 56% rate doctors highly, down from 65% in 2019. 
  • 45% rate police officers highly, down from 54% in 2019. 
  • 42% rate college teachers highly, down from 49% in 2019. 
  • 32% rate clergy highly, down from 40% in 2019. 
  • 19% rate journalists highly, down from 28% in 2019. 
  • 12% rate business leaders highly, down from 20% in 2019.

“Mapping the Lobbying Footprint of Harmful Industries: 23 Years of Data From OpenSecrets” [The Milbank Quarterly]. “We found that the ultraprocessed food industry spent the most on lobbying ($1.15 billion), followed by gambling ($817 million), tobacco ($755 million), and alcohol ($541 million). Overall, companies were more active than trade associations, with associations being least active in the tobacco industry. Spending was often highly concentrated, with two organizations accounting for almost 60% of tobacco spending and four organizations accounting for more than half of alcohol spending. Lobbyists that had formerly worked in government were mainly employed by third-party lobby firms.” And the lead: “The definition of (CDoHs) set out in The Lancet 2023 series recognizes that commercial actors are diverse and have different impacts on health. Yet too often, public health advocates fail to make these distinctions, referring to ‘the industry’ or ‘corporations’ as a proxy for harmful commercial actors. This lack of nuance stymies efforts to develop a science of commercial determinants.”


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Testing and Tracking

“Continued selection on cryptic SARS-CoV-2 observed in Missouri wastewater” [PLOS Pathogens]. From the Abstract: “Deep sequencing of wastewater to detect SARS-CoV-2 has been used during the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor viral variants as they appear and circulate in communities. SARS-CoV-2 lineages of an unknown source that have not been detected in clinical samples, referred to as cryptic lineages, are sometimes repeatedly detected from specific locations. We have continued to detect one such lineage previously seen in a Missouri site. This cryptic lineage has continued to evolve, indicating continued selective pressure similar to that observed in Omicron lineages.” And: “The convergence of the cryptic lineage and Omicron variants suggest similar selection pressures. The origin of Omicron and the origin of the MO45 cryptic lineage are unknown. At least in some cases, cryptic lineages appear to be derived from individuals with persistent SARS-CoV-2 infections. However, as the MO45 cryptic lineage hasn’t been traced, a non-human source cannot be ruled out. Since the cryptic lineage in some cases acquired changes prior to Omicron, continued monitoring of waste water for such cryptic lineages may provide foreknowledge of changes, or at least the position of changes, likely to be selected for in the circulating Omicron variants.”


“Can the government ask social media sites to take down Covid misinformation? SCOTUS will weigh in” [STAT]. ” The Supreme Court will this March hear arguments centered on the government’s role in communicating — and sometimes censoring — pertinent public health information in the midst of a pandemic. At the core of the lawsuit is whether the federal government’s requests for social media and search giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to moderate Covid-19 misinformation violated users’ First Amendment rights. While the suit was originally filed by then-Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt — and known as Missouri v. Biden — a range of plaintiffs arguing that the Biden administration suppressed their Covid-19 content later joined. Those include Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, who co-authored a paper, the Great Barrington Declaration, advancing the theory that people could achieve herd immunity without vaccines.” Jay, Martin, good job. More: “The case is now referred to as Murthy v. Missouri. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — the same court that heard the mifepristone case that will head to the Supreme Court later in March — ruled that a range of government agencies, including the Health and Human Services Department, the State Department, and cybersecurity officials, were prohibited from influencing social media companies’ content-moderation policies.” • On the Great Barrington Declaration:

An open letter that made headlines calling for a herd immunity approach to Covid-19 lists a number of apparently fake names among its expert signatories, including “Dr Johnny Bananas” and “Professor Cominic Dummings”.

The Great Barrington declaration, which was said to have been signed by more than 15,000 scientists and medical practitioners around the world, was found by Sky News to contain numerous false names, as well as those of several homeopaths.

Others listed include a resident at the “university of your mum” and another supposed specialist whose name was the first verse of the Macarena.

Sky News discovered 18 self-declared homeopaths in the list of expert names and more than 100 therapists whose expertise included massage, hypnotherapy and Mongolian khoomii singing.

Sky News yet! One can only wonder why GBD got the traction that it did.


“Omicron Spike confers enhanced infectivity and interferon resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in human nasal tissue” [Nature]. From the Abtract: “Omicron emerged following COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, displaced previous SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern worldwide, and gave rise to lineages that continue to spread. Here, we show that Omicron exhibits increased infectivity in primary adult upper airway tissue relative to Delta. Using recombinant forms of SARS-CoV-2 and nasal epithelial cells cultured at the liquid-air interface, . Unlike earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2, our findings suggest that Omicron enters nasal cells independently of serine transmembrane proteases and instead relies upon metalloproteinases to catalyze membrane fusion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this entry pathway unlocked by Omicron Spike enables evasion from constitutive and interferon-induced antiviral factors that restrict SARS-CoV-2 entry following attachment. Therefore, .” • Good thing those nasal vaccines are proceeding at an Operation Warp Speed pace! Oh, wait…


“Lung function trajectories in mild COVID-19 with two-year follow-up” (accepted manuscript) [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. N = 52. From the Abstract: “Objective To characterize lung function dynamics in individuals with mild COVID-19 from pre-infection to two years post-infection…. Conclusion Our results indicate that mild COVID-19 infection affects lung function at time of infection with limited recovery two years after infection.”

Elite Maleficence

The sheer historical ignorance of “vax and relax”:

We seem to instinctively — or not, perhaps, instinctively — reject multilayered solutions. This goes for “The Swiss Cheese Model” as well.

NOTE This is an attempt to improve the legibility of Twitter screen dumps. Is it working?

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] Even after a decline, we’re still higher than any of the surges under Trump.

[2] Slight increase in MWRA wastewater data, as of January 25, i.e. the incubation period from the student’s return:

[3] “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

[4] “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

[5] Decrease for the city aligns with wastewater data.

[6] “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

[7] -0.7%. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 107K workers in January 2024, below a downwardly revised 158K in December and forecasts of 145K. Services-providing companies were responsible for 77K jobs, while goods producers added 30K.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “Chicago PMI in the United States decreased to 46 points in January from 47.20 points in December of 2023.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “Intel’s Humbling” [Stratechery]. “At Intel, manufacturing has always called the shots. The design side of the company had to accommodate the fabs, whether that be using their archaic design software, working around manufacturing challenges, or figuring out how to make a faster chip on recycled equipment. This made sense for a long time, but there was a cost: Intel designs stopped being innovative and became dependent on Intel’s manufacturing for performance; when Intel’s manufacturing prowess hit a wall Intel’s designs were exposed…. Intel did none of these things, and had a mentality and culture that ran in the exact opposite direction: in a foundry, manufacturing is not king but a servant; customer sales is not about “take-it-or-leave-it” but “let us help you solve your problem.” I was — and frankly, remain — dubious about Intel’s ability to create that sort of culture internally….” • Hard to excerpt for me, since I’m neither a chip nor a Silicon Valley maven. It does seem, however, that Intel is doing better than Boeing. That’s a mercy!

The Economy: “U.S. winning world economic war” [Axios]. “Strong growth in the U.S. labor force was one factor — both due to more Americans choosing to enter the workforce and a surge in immigration. • Hmm. Immigration?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 31 at 1:47:04 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Elmo’s wellness check uncovers existential dread and despair on social media” [NBC]. Here’s the Tweet:

More: “All Elmo did was ask a simple question, but the responses were so overwhelming that ‘Sesame Street’s’ official X account shared a link to mental health resources.”

Class Warfare

“American Oligarchy” [Mother Jones]. Here’s the lead: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered an unprecedented crackdown by the United States and other Western nations on the mansions, megayachts, and bank accounts of Russia’s ultrawealthy tycoons. Yet targeting Russia’s oligarchs surfaced some uncomfortable questions about our own political and financial systems and the people who shape them. So we thought it was time for a good, long look in the mirror. For our January + February 2024 issue, Mother Jones explores the rise and power of the emerging class of billionaires—fueled by the monopolistic growth of Big Tech—who are remaking America in their own decadent and extractive image. Their bored whims and futuristic fantasies shape how and where you live and work, even as their own worlds are increasingly siloed off from the rest of us. Welcome to the American Oligarchy.” • I don’t know what’s gotten into Mother Jones. Anyhow, here’s the TOC. David Corn makes an appearance, and there’s nothing from Stoller, so I dunno….

“US workers during the covid-19 pandemic: uneven risks, inadequate protections, and predictable consequences” [BMJ]. Key Messages:

  • Covid-19 disproportionately affected workers who had to leave home and go to work to keep society functioning

  • Low wage Black and Hispanic workers were disproportionately represented among workers who could not work from home, and disproportionately affected

  • Actions by US occupational and public health agencies fell far short of what was needed to make workplaces safe during the pandemic

  • Protecting worker health in the next pandemic requires action now for paid family and medical leave, better social supports, and better workplace protection policies

Musical interlude.

“More People Are Being Classified as Gig Workers. That’s Bad for Everyone” [New York Times]. “What comes to mind when you think of a mom-and-pop small business: A hardware store? A diner? A family-run clothing store or small-scale supermarket? Here’s one that’s probably never crossed your mind: a dishwashing business. By that, I mean a business of a single person — unincorporated, no business address or capital behind him, just one guy — working as a dishwasher for a restaurant, using the restaurant’s machinery to wash the restaurant’s dishes on the restaurant’s premises. Two explosive enforcement actions disclosed by the City and County of Denver this month expose the lengths to which some corporations will go in trying to exploit the ‘gig’ business model. At issue is whether dishwashers and others like them, placed in their jobs by online temporary staffing agencies, are employees of the agencies or independent contractors running their own businesses.”

The peasants did rather well after the Black Death. For awhile, anyhow:

News of the Wired

“I Spent My Childhood as a Guinea Pig for Science. It Was … Great?” [Slate]. “In my earliest recollection from the story of my life as a human lab rat, I’m 7 or 8 years old. I’m sitting in an experiment room in Tolman Hall, a Brutalist building on the north side of the University of California, Berkeley, campus. In the room, there are two people: a man and me. For the past hour or so, he has been asking me questions about myself, my relationships with my family members, and who I imagine I might grow up to be…. Here, I am seen. In this sparsely decorated small room, I feel special. In Tolman Hall, to which I am periodically brought for reasons that have not been revealed to me yet, I am the center of attention. When I speak, these adults listen attentively, nod encouragingly, and take notes. It feels like love.”

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From TH:

TH writes: “This agave in our front yard grew this stalk upon which appeared many flowers, now it has many babies. We’re not sure how to collect and plant them successfully, or whether we even have space for all of them.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the 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:

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Source link

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button