2:00PM Water Cooler 4/3/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren (Southern), Hosteria Amazonas Coca, Orellana, Ecuador.

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Moon Standard Time.

(2) Shanahan’s first marriage.

(3) Robert Frost.

(4) Matter and life.


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

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Biden Administration

“White House wants Moon to have its own time zone” [BBC]. “The White House wants US space agency NASA to develop a new time zone for the Moon – Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC). Because of the different gravitational field strength on the Moon, time moves quicker there relative to Earth – 58.7 microseconds every day. This might not seem like much, but it can have a significant impact when trying to synchronise spacecraft. The US government hopes the new time will help keep national and private efforts to reach the moon co-ordinated…. But NASA is not the only one trying to make lunar time a reality. The European Space Agency has also been developing a new time system for a while. There will need to be agreement between countries and a centralised co-ordinating body – currently this is done by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures for time on Earth. At the moment on the International Space Station, Coordinated Universal Time is used because it remains low in orbit. Another element that countries will have to agree on is where the new time frame begins from and to where it extends. The US wants LTC to be ready by 2026 in time for its manned mission to the Moon.” • I’m glad it’s the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, and not the Rules-Based International Order. Also, China, India, and Japan have all recently made moon landings. Do they get any say?


Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, March 29

I think I’ll leave this up until this coming Friday, so I can at least mumble something about trends. Nationally, Trump is up 2.4% in the Five-Way, same as last week, give or take. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here). I’ve highlighted PA, (1) because Trump is actually down there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there?

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Trump (R): “REVEALED: Billionaire ‘king of subprime car loans’ backed Trump’s $175million bond in New York fraud case and says former president provided his collateral in CASH” [Daily Mail]. Donald Trump paid his $175 million court judgement in his New York fraud case with the assistance of the ‘king of subprime car loans’ after the billionaire investor made the approach himself. ‘I had heard that he was trying to put together the $460 million bond. I reached out at that time. We began to have a conversation. The bond got reduced,’ billionaire Don Hankey told ‘So they thanked us for the help trying to put the larger bond together. So we said goodbye. A few days later they called back and said, “Would you come back and do the $175 million bond?”‘ He was referencing a New York appeals court that lowered the amount and gave Trump 10 days to secure a bond, after his lawyers said in a filing it was nearly impossible to obtain underwriting. ‘It was much easier, because he put up all cash,’ he said. Hankey departed from an earlier report that said Trump provided collateral in cash and investment grade bonds. ‘He first gave us a list of bonds and we approved the bonds as collateral along with some cash. When the collateral was finally posted it appears to be all cash. We have a screen shot of it and it was all cash.’ Asked why Trump didn’t simply pay the award himself, he said the transaction allows Trump to collect interest if the $175 million is invested in a money market or other allowable investment vehicle while being held in a trust account pending appeal. He said he said he didn’t have any concerns about lending to Trump, who declared bankruptcy over his Atlantic City casinos decades ago. ‘If the appeal is lost or we have to come up with cash, with a bond you only have about 24 hours to come up with the cash,’ he said. ‘If you have real estate it can take months to liquidate the real asset.’ He said during initial conversations, he spoke with Trump intermediaries about using real estate as collateral – something he said he was willing to do. ‘I thought his credit was pretty good,’ said Hankey, a Trump donor and Trump supporter who says he didn’t know the former president personally.” • As did Deutsche Bank, come to think of it. FWIW.

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Biden (D): “Is a Biden comeback quietly underway?” [The Hill]. “Since Biden addressed the nation in early March, polling shows that Biden is gaining ground, as former President Donald Trump now leads Biden by only one percentage point according to the RealClearPolitics polling average — Trump’s smallest lead since January. In the Quinnipiac poll released last week, Biden led by three points, 48 percent to 45 percent, bringing the total to 12 national polls showing Biden leading Trump since the SOTU, as Jessica Tarlov noted last week. Moreover, Biden’s bounce is being seen not only in national polls but also in the battleground states that will determine the winner. In Wisconsin, Biden now leads Trump (46 percent to 45 percent), a 5-point swing in Biden’s favor since February, per the latest Bloomberg/Morning Consult Swing State Tracking poll. In Pennsylvania Biden erased what was a 6-point lead for Trump in February, and the state is now tied at 45 percent apiece, according to the same poll. And in Michigan — a state that has been at the center of Democratic angst due to Biden’s support for Israel and the state’s large Arab population — Trump’s 2-point lead in February is now a tie (45 percent each) per Bloomberg/Morning Consult. Even Nevada, a state where Trump has dominated the polling — according to RealClearPolitics, Trump has led every poll since October — has slowly but steadily warmed up to Biden. In January, Trump’s lead was as high as 8 points (48 percent to 40 percent), and in February the former president still held a 6-point advantage in Bloomberg/Morning Consult’s poll.” • I’m not sure this is anything other than Trump having the field to himself (besides Kennedy) because the Biden campaign operation hadn’t deployed.

Biden (D): “Former ESPN host says her Biden interview was entirely ‘scripted’ by network execs: ‘Every single question’” [FOX]. “Former ESPN host Sage Steele revealed that her 2021 interview with President Biden was “scripted” by network executives. In an interview with Fox News Digital, Steele recalled the ‘structured’ nature of the pre-taped interview, so much so that her ESPN bosses handed her a ‘script’ to go off of. ‘That was an interesting experience in its own right because it was so structured,’ Steele said. ‘And I was told, ‘You will say every word that we write out, you will not deviate from the script and go.’… Steele said she didn’t know for certain whether ESPN sent the questions to the White House in advance of the interview but seemed confident that is ‘what happened.’” • And three years later, they ran him again. Elder abuse is what it is, at the very least.

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Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. Says Biden Is ‘Much Worse’ Threat To Democracy Than Trump: Weaponization, Censorship” [RealClearPolitics].


Listen, I can make the argument that President Biden is a much worse threat to democracy.

And the reason for that is President Biden is the first candidate in history, the first president in history that has used the federal agencies to censor political speech, so to censor his opponent. I can say that because I just won a case in the federal Court of Appeals and now before the Supreme Court that shows that he started censoring not just me — 37 hours after he took the oath of office, he was censoring me.

No president in the country has ever done that. The greatest threat to democracy is not somebody who questions election returns, but a president of the United States who uses the power of his office to force the social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to open a portal and give access to that portal to the FBI, to the CIA, to the IRS, to CISA, to NIH to censor his political critics.

President Biden, the first president in history, used the Secret — his power over the Secret Service to deny Secret Service protection to one of his political opponents for political reasons. He’s weaponizing the federal agencies.

Those are really critical threats to democracy.

Kennedy (I):If you’re explaining, you’re losing:

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Kennedy (I): “EXCLUSIVERobert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate Nicole Shanahan was married for just 27 DAYS to her first husband: Investor Jeremy Kranz filed for separation because of ‘fraud’… two months after she met Google billionaire beau Sergey Brin” [Daily Mail]. “Vice presidential candidate Nicole Shanahan’s first marriage officially lasted just 27 days according to her divorce settlement agreement obtained by…. Several weeks after meeting Brin in July 2014 at the Wanderlust yoga festival in Lake Tahoe, she tied the knot with fiancé Bay Area investor Jeremy Kranz on August 31, 2014. Kranz filed for separation on September 26, 2014 – just 27 days later.” More:

Shanahan’s first husband initially filed a ‘Petition for Nullity’ – an annulment in California legalese – alleging that ‘fraud’ had occurred in the relationship. While the documents do not disclose what motivated Kranz’s decision to end the relationship in this manner, in California fraud ‘must be very serious and be about something that goes to the heart of your marriage,’ a California courts website explained. The website also defines fraud as, ‘the other person lied to you or kept something from you in order to get you to marry them.’ That December in response, Shanahan filed that she wanted the break-up to be considered a ‘Dissolution’ of the marriage instead, with the divorce settlement stating that Kranz ‘agreed to allow this matter proceed as a Dissolution in order to preserve Wife’s ability to practice law.’ In doing so, Shanahan waived terms laid out in their premarital agreement including that she would receive either a BMW or Honda CRV [(!!)] and receive spousal support and other rights and benefits. She would keep control of the company she started as a law student, ClearAccessIP, her Toyota Prius and a Yorkshire Terrier dog. As part of the divorce agreement – which was dated February 26, 2015 – Shanahan also agreed to scrub pictures of Kranz and his family members from her Facebook account and other social media websites. … The couple ultimately divorced in April 2015. The Kennedy campaign did not dispute the short marriage in a statement to ‘The divorce settled in mutual agreement as a dissolution. Ms. Shanahan and her first husband met when she was 23 years old, and they were together for 4 years which included a two year engagement,’ said the Kennedy campaign’s senior adviser Link Lauren. ‘As everyone can understand, some relationships are not meant to be.’”

An old trick in oppo. Somebody *** cough *** the Biden campaign ***cough*** plants a story on famously ethical Fleet Street, and since “it’s out there,” the story then hops the Big Pond back to the United States. (One thing the Daily Mail intro does not make clear, that the Kennedy campaign does, is the 4 year timeline.) I was wondering why Shanahan hadn’t been out on the trail. Maybe the campaign knew this was coming? In any case, Shanahan will now have every opportunity to charm the yipping weasels of the press….

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“James Carville warns of Democratic Party’s ‘horrifying’ numbers among young minority voters: ‘They’re leaving in droves’” [New York Post]. “‘I’ve been very vocal about this,’ the former Bill Clinton campaign strategist said on his ‘Carville’s Classroom’ podcast. ‘It’s horrifying our numbers among younger voters, particularly younger blacks, younger Latinos … younger people of color. Particularly males.’ ‘We’re not shedding them, they’re leaving in droves,’ he added. Last year, 66% of black adults leaned or identified as Democratic while 19% said they leaned or were Republican, according to a Gallup survey released in February. The 47 percentage-point spread is the lowest in at least 25 years — and down 19 percentage points from 2020, when 77% of black adults identified as Democrats and just 11% identified as Republicans. Similarly, the poll found 47% of Hispanics calling themselves Democrats and 35% identifying as Republican, whereas in 2021, 57% of Hispanics identified as Democrats and 26% said they were Republican.”

Republican Funhouse

“A Night Out With Donald Trump’s Favorite ‘Alpha Male’ Influencerer” [Ezra Marcus, Slate]. “His latest book, he promised, would provide a ‘road map for every young man to unlock their full potential.’ That meant a few rules: “An alpha male diet consists of a minimum 80 percent protein, and precisely zero percent soy. Never mask up, never apologize, never pick up the Fortnite controller, always read the Bible.’ Then Adams looked straight at me. ‘Now, boys and beautiful ladies, I do want to make you aware that in the crowd here tonight, we do have a member of the fake news media,’ he said. ‘It’s the gentleman sitting right there with the glasses! Please stand up.’ I stood up. ‘Try and be nice to him, guys. His name is Ezra Marcus. I call him E-Z. And depending on the article that he writes, he’ll either be ‘low-T’ E-Z or ‘high-T’ E-Z. The jury’s out, but we’ll see. Take a pew, Ezra.’ I sat down and said, ‘Thank you, Alpha King!’ ‘No worries, my humble servant,” he replied. Then he launched into a jeremiad against ‘the modern woke feminists destroying every part of our society.’” • I picked one of the milder parts.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Ro Khanna Wants To Be the Future of the Democratic Party” [The Atlantic]. At the end: “After Khanna finished talking with the students, he and I squeezed into desk chairs inside a small classroom and spoke with Derek Longo, one of Khanna’s history teachers. Longo described how a long-ago visit to the American cemetery in Normandy made him want to teach history. Khanna asked him what he thought about the rise of Trump. Perhaps Khanna was expecting his teacher to talk about the threat Trump poses to democracy. Instead, he revealed something Khanna didn’t know: Longo voted twice for Trump. He praised Trump’s business background and told us that he worries about urban crime. In 2017, his daughter and son were struck by a driver under the influence of heroin as they were standing on a sidewalk in New Jersey. Longo’s son spent months in intensive care, and his daughter, who was seven months pregnant, didn’t survive. Under state law, prosecutors couldn’t charge the driver with a double homicide because Longo’s granddaughter wasn’t born. The driver pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of vehicular homicide. He’s due to be released from prison next year. The tragedy hardened Longo’s views on crime and abortion. ‘I could not vote for President Biden,’ he said. Khanna sat quietly as Longo spoke. ‘One of the challenges we have as a country is we have a wrong stereotypical view of the Trump voter,’ Khanna said to us after the conversation had moved on. ‘The Trump voter includes possibly the teacher you most respect.’ Longo spoke highly of Khanna, praising his slogan of ‘progressive capitalism’ and his push to use technology to create economic opportunity. He even said he might be able to vote for Khanna one day. ‘A Trump-Khanna voter!’ Khanna marveled.

That moment of exhilaration had faded by the time we got back to the car. Khanna conceded that Longo wouldn’t consider voting for him if he hadn’t been a former student. Yet he was exactly the kind of voter, Khanna said, that Democrats need to figure out how to reach—the Trump supporters who might respond to a progressive economic plan. That someone like Longo, so turned off by the Democrats now in power, will listen to his message—and even consider voting for him—seemed like an affirmation of Khanna’s vision. That he still wasn’t sold on his cherished former student, however, might be a sign of its limits.” • Interesting. Though why on earth liberal Democrats would resist a message like “progressive capitalism”…

“Christine Blasey Ford is no hero, if justice is the measure” [Kathleen Parker, WaPo]. “No one who was supposed to have been at the party where Ford was allegedly assaulted remembered it, or her. Ford herself was unable to nail down the year the party took place (but settled on 1982 after several stabs) or where it was held, how she got there, how she got home or any other details, except that she herself had consumed just one beer, according to her testimony. Her claims against Kavanaugh ultimately were unsubstantiated…. In my own research for a book that never came to fruition, I also learned that Ford was a party girl, which means she and I would have been friends. Her real ‘best friend’ at the time, Leland Keyser, was known as her designated driver in those days, according to several of her friends cited in yet another book, ‘The Education of Brett Kavanaugh‘ by New York Times writers Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. A straight-A student and athlete who became a professional golfer, Keyser had her driver’s license at the time of the alleged assault. Keyser, who felt pressured by Ford’s supporters to confirm Ford’s story, testified to the FBI that she had no recollection of any such party and didn’t know Kavanaugh. When intimidation didn’t work, Ford and her friends implied that Keyser’s testimony couldn’t be trusted because she had ‘significant health challenges,’ as Ford put it during her testimony. It didn’t take long for the meaning here to become public. Keyser had at one point become addicted to painkillers prescribed for golf-related back and neck injuries. She has suffered years of surgeries and pain that continues today, thanks to her commitment to recovery. No meds. She also has had to cope with the psychological effects of her persecution by the anti-Kavanaugh brigade. At least one person from Team Ford tried to persuade her to adjust her story. She refused.” • Lovely people.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Civil War never ended” [Jill Filipovic, The New Statesman]. “The pre-Civil War South was not a democracy, nor did it aspire to be. It was, and wanted to continue being, a harshly authoritarian state…. As Jamelle Bouie wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2019, one of the men dedicated to upholding this system, John C Calhoun, vice president from 1825 to 1832, ‘was an astute politician, but he made his most important mark as a theoretician of reaction: a man who, realising that democracy could not protect slavery in perpetuity, set out to limit democracy.’ ” • So the party of the Censorship Industrial Complex agrees with Calhoun, then?

“The Doomscroll Generation” [Washington Monthly]. And the deck: “Social media and smartphones have tipped an entire generation into anxiety and depression. Is there anything to be done?” • The psychologizing is relentless, relentless as the erasure of material conditions. When I was working in the mills of Providence, RI, starting out at $2.25 an hour and working my way up to $3.50, I was never in want; I could always get a full-time job; I could afford my own apartment with no room-mates, books, concerts, my intoxicants and beverages of choice. I had no debt, and I didn’t have to worry about climate. Or any plagues. It wasn’t an easy life, but I think I had it easier than people in their twenties today.


“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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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The Jackpot

Avian flu, long thread (1):

Avian flu, long thread (2):

(I don’t have time to make screen shots, sorry.) What really worries me is that all my institutional priors are being confirmed: Airborne tranmission is not a thing, droplets are; cases are mild; only the symptomatic will be tested; birds will be culled, but not cattle (at $2500 a pop; business is business); we have the vaccines, but there’s no mention of non-pharmaceutical interventions. And Zeints is involved. It’s like the people who fought the war in Iraq were promoted instead of being thrown out of office. Oh, wait…. (Of course, just because we’re in the stupidest timeline doesn’t mean this virus will leverage our stupidity the way the last one did. So there’s hope.)

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


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

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


[1] (Biobot) Our curve has now flattened out at the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Backward revisions, I hate them.

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

[4] (ER) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game…

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me.

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

[7] (Walgreens) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening.

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 184K workers in March 2024, following an upwardly revised 155K in February, and beating forecasts of 148K. It is the biggest increase in hiring in eight months.”

Services: “United States ISM Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI in the US fell to 51.4 in March 2024 from 52.6 in February and below forecasts of 52.7. The reading pointed to the weakest growth in the services sector in three months.”

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Manufacturing: “Further evidence of Boeing’s criminality exposed as near-silence on death of whistleblower John Barnett continues” [WSWS]. “On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published an article providing further evidence of the criminality and neglect of aerospace giant Boeing during the production stages of its commercial aircraft….. It is absurd, given the sheer volume of Barnett’s allegations against Boeing, a total of 32 pages, and the suspicious nature of his death, that none of this is mentioned in the article by the Wall Street Journal…. The New York Times, the supposed ‘newspaper of record,’ is no better. It has published several articles on Boeing defects in the past few days, including articles titled, ‘How Boeing Favored Speed Over Quality,’ ‘4 Takeaways About Boeing’s Quality Problems’ and an opinion piece, ‘You Don’t Need to Freak Out About Boeing Planes (but Boeing Sure Does),’ to name just some. Yet none of them mentions Barnett’s suit or comment in any way on his ‘suicide,’ despite the fact that Barnett is arguably the most prolific Boeing whistleblower, especially since he was finally forced out of the company in 2017. And the CBS News interview proves that the owners and editors of the newspapers are clearly aware of the significance of Barnett’s allegations, both past and present…. he underlying reason for the silence is the stature of Boeing itself…. There is little doubt that what else Barnett had to say would have thrown Boeing even further into crisis.” • In other words, we need to include investors in the pool of usual suspects, besides Boeing management.

Manufacturing: “The Boeing Nosedive” [Jeff Wise, New York Magazine]. “When Barnett failed to answer the phone, Turkewitz and Knowles called the hotel and asked the staff to look for his orange Dodge Ram pickup. It was sitting in the parking lot with Barnett inside, dead. His finger was still on the trigger of a silver pistol. Conspiracy theories exploded, intensifying further after a relative claimed to a local TV station that Barnett had told her that “if anything happens, it’s not suicide.” There were two ways to interpret the story: Either Boeing’s communications strategy had been expanded to include assassination, or its reputation had become so toxic that the public found it possible to believe the worst. , Boeing really is in trouble.” • Wise, a putative science writer, seems unaware that Barnett’s finger on the trigger speaks against suicide, not for it.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 3 at 1:20:11 PM ET..

Book Nook

“America’s Great Poet of Darkness” [The Hedgehog Review]. “Despite the stereotype of being the Norman Rockwell of verse, Robert Frost’s standing, even sixty-one years after his death, remains blue-chip, still perhaps the most famous American poet among the general public. Frost’s work remains anthologized and interpreted, and taught in secondary and undergraduate classrooms; his lyrics among the handful that can be expected to be namedropped as a reader’s favorite poem (two roads and all of that). If anything, Frost has suffered from the albatross of presumed accessibility. Among the luminaries of American Modernism, Ezra Pound was experimental, T.S. Eliot cerebral, H.D. hermetic, Langston Hughes revolutionary, Wallace Stevens incandescent, and William Carlos Williams visionary, but Frost is readable.” But: “Orr describes how Frost’s popularity has made him exist on two parallel but separate levels: one, the corncob bard of Yankee wisdom who appears on t-shirts and mugs: the other, the critic’s darling who is ‘bleak, dark, complex, and manipulative.’” Right, a Yankee. More: “The latter, it should be affirmed, is the accurate reading of Frost. As [David] Orr (and probably your college English professor) explains, ‘The Road Not Taken’ has nothing to do with inspiration and stick-to-it-iveness; rather it’s a melancholic exhalation at the futility of choice, a dirge about enduring in the face of meaninglessness. If you read Frost for the snow, but don’t feel the cold, then you’re not really reading Frost. Furthermore, I’d argue that Frost’s vision isn’t just contrary to the popular misconception of him, but that as an American poet he deserves to be categorized as among those with the darkest of visions, not because of those demonic images he played with in his freshman effort, but because he abandoned such ghouls and gremlins in genuflection before the actual hardness of this world.” And: “There is significance in the quotidian, where after the death of God the only grace is in the material estimation of life, in work. With Frost, the Protestant ethic of his ancestors has finally converted faith back into works, where in an inert and dead universe all that can stave off nothingness is that which you can hold in your hands, build with your hands. Everything else is but the most perilous abstraction, while the rest is the most sublime darkness.” • Dang. More to read (again).

Our Famously Free Press

“Tips for Linking Shell Companies to their Secret Owners” [Global Investigative Journalism Network]. “However, in a solo presentation at the recent 2024 NICAR data journalism summit in the US, Karrie Kehoe, deputy head of data and research at ICIJ, shared several tips, tools, and places to start that almost any reporter can try to track the person at the top of a shady empire — and their overseas assets. Kehoe invited attendees to first ask themselves: What words might appear in paperwork that must be filed for these front companies? And to then experiment with possible variations of those words that could be used in corporate registries and databases. For instance, might the name of a director or owner, like Ian, appear as ‘Iain’?” • Indeed, lots of tips. Sounds like a nice hobby!

News of the Wired

“Matter and Life” [RibbonFarm (Feral Finster)]. “The point of this discussion is that where life exists (based on our n=1 case) living matter is a significant phase in the cycles of all matter, perhaps even the dominant phase. We often talk of life as though it’s a fragile bit of material poetry that is alienated from, and in thrall to, the far vaster non-living processes of matter, but it isn’t. We talk as though the processes of life are less powerful than those of non-living matter, such as wind, rain, or earthquakes. They’re not. Life punches in the same weight class as non-life where the two touch. We should think of “life” as a material-energetic-spatial-temporal phenomenon with the same sort of raw, irresistible power as wind or waves. We say earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but we could say, with equal justice, life to life as the karmic destiny of non-living matter. Under the right conditions, non-living matter can no more resist the irresistible tug of life than living matter can resist death. We lament that there have been half-a-dozen mass extinctions on the planet. We might equally say, there have been half-a-dozen mass vivifications of non-living matter…. We talk of the Anthropocene as though life reshaping non-life is ‘new’ but it is as old as geology; as old as sand and free oxygen. ” • Being animist-adjacent, I find this perspective appealing.

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

GD writes: “Fungus found off Sunset Boulevard. It was ready for its close-up. Google Images couldn’t decide what it was. Anybody’s guess….” Readers?

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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!

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