4.9 out of 5 based on 10,856 reviews


4.9 out of 5 reviews

2:00PM Water Cooler 2/6/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Adamstown; Mt. Ephriam Road, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Filtered at 250 Hz. Other Behaviors: Advertise. Habitat: Forest, Deciduous Forest.”

* * *


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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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

Capitol Seizure

“McCarthy breaks with Greene on death of Ashli Babbitt” [The Hill]. “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) broke with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Thursday when asked about the death of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by Capitol police during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, concluding she was not murdered, as Greene has said. ‘I think the police officer did his job,’ McCarthy told reporters when asked if he agreed with Greene that Babbitt was murdered.” • RINO.

“Sorry, not sorry: Some 1/6 rioters change tune after apology” [Associated Press]. “Appearing before a federal judge after pleading guilty to a felony charge in the deadly Capitol riot, former West Virginia lawmaker Derrick Evans expressed remorse for letting down his family and his community, saying he made a ‘crucial mistake.’ Less than a year later, Evans is portraying himself as a victim of a politically motivated prosecution as he runs to serve in the same building he stormed on Jan. 6, 2021. Evans is now calling the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 prosecutions a ‘miscarriage of justice’ and describes himself on twitter as a ‘J6 Patriot.’ ‘Some ppl have said I need to apologize and condemn #J6 if I want to win my election as the media will attack me,’ he tweeted recently after announcing his bid for a U.S. House seat in 2024. ‘I will not compromise my values or beliefs. That’s what politicians do. We need Patriots not politicians.’ Evans joins a series of Jan. 6 defendants who — when up against possible prison time in court — have expressed regret for joining the pro-Trump mob that rattled the foundations of American democracy only to strike a different tone or downplay the riot after receiving their punishment.”

“Top Jan. 6 investigator says FBI, other agencies could have done more to repel Capitol mob had they acted on intel” [NBC]. “The House Jan. 6 committee concluded that the FBI and other federal security agencies could have prevented a violent mob from overrunning the Capitol had they acted on the large volume of intelligence collected beforehand, the chief investigator told NBC News in an exclusive interview — a judgment the committee left out of its televised hearings and final report. Former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy, the committee’s chief investigative counsel, said that while he endorses the panel’s main finding that then-President Donald Trump sparked the riot by urging protesters to go to the Capitol, his probe documented how federal law enforcement failures contributed to the debacle. Trump ‘was the proximate cause. But for his words, and deeds, it wouldn’t have happened,’ said Heaphy, who led many of the key witness interviews conducted by the committee. ‘That said, what happened at the Capitol was also affected by law enforcement failures to operationalize the ample intelligence that was present before Jan. 6, about the threats of violence.’ He added, ‘Law enforcement had a very direct role in contributing to the security failures that led to the violence.’” • If — tinfoil hat time — failures they were.

Biden Administration

Mission accomplished (1):

Mission accomplished (2):

“A fighting chance….” Until (see above) the odds kick in.


Why, the ingratitude:

Still, you can see why Clyburn needs his payoff.

Republican Funhouse

“The 5 Main Factions Of The House GOP” [FiveThirtyEight]. Moderate establishment (Reps. David Joyce of Ohio, Young Kim of California, Nancy Mace of South Carolina); Conservative establishment (Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Tom Emmer of Minnesota and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy); Far-right establishment (Prominent members: Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Patrick McHenry of North Carolina); Tea party conservative (Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Byron Donalds of Florida, Chip Roy of Texas); Pro-Trump insurgent (Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia). The “Freedom Caucus” is distributed across the “Far-right establishment” and the “Tea party conservatives.” • I dunno. I notice the reflexive resort to a spectrum rather than a field. What do readers think? I didn’t come up as a Republican, so these taxonomies are not easy for me to assess.

“House votes to remove Omar from Foreign Affairs panel as Democrats cry hypocrisy and ‘racism’” [Roll Call]. “‘Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted?’ Omar said in an at times emotional Thursday floor speech, which was attended by large numbers of the House Democratic caucus who cheered her remarks at different points. ‘Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced? Frankly it is expected because when you push power, power pushes back.’” • “It’s alll about the benjamins” is, in fact, true. AIPAC doesn’t slather all that cash around for no reason. That said, “When you push power, power pushes back.” I dunno. Maybe The Squad should try it?

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Who’s in Charge of Your World View?” [Matt Bivens]. Bivens helped Taibbi organize data for The Twitter Files. “And, in the initial files we sifted through, I saw evidence for what I’d suspected beforehand, something the Files continue to flesh out: That CIA, FBI and the rest of the U.S. security state — with little to no public discussion, and probably illegally — have become way too comfortable with policing what Americans see, say and hear on the Internet. …Twitter staff could, for example, prevent a person’s tweet from showing up in searches; or prevent an entire Twitter account from being seen by anyone that did not already follow it. The company jargon for this was “visibility filtering”. They could and did filter a person out of visibility, whenever they felt that person’s views should disappear….. Visibility filtering was also applied to politicians. However one might feel about Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, it is startling to see that Twitter, without informing her, labeled her Twitter account ‘not safe for work,’ as if it were some sort of pornography site, and also weighed it down with a ‘do not amplify’ setting, which would decrease its reach on searches and retweets… If you think this is just about “Republicans on Twitter” though, think again. The Twitter Files show Facebook’s approach was no different — and this forces a reassessment of the allegations by Bernie Sanders that back in 2017, Facebook “flipped a switch” to overnight stop engagement between the popular progressive and his supporters. ‘Bernie had this tremendous rise on Facebook. We had a really successful online video program,’ recalls Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders’ former campaign manager, in this video (start around the 22:30 mark). ‘We saw our numbers rising, rising, rising. And then one day, literally out of nowhere — this is the Senate office page, the Facebook page — it stopped getting followers. It just dead stopped.’ Meetings ensued with Facebook, including with Adam Mosseri, then in charge of Facebook’s newsfeeds and now head of Instagram. ‘During the meeting with Mosseri,’ Rabin-Havt recounted, ;it was revealed that Facebook had changed a setting on its back end that essentially shut off the pipeline of new subscribers to Bernie’s page. They could not come up with a reasonable explanation for the changed setting.’ Probably it had something to do with Facebook joining with the rest of corporate media to keep people from seeing things like this pro-Sanders video — still the best short video ever about politics in America.”

“Congress is set to expose what may be the largest censorship system in U.S. history” [The Hill]. Unless they produce another yarn diagram like Benghazi. “The “Twitter files” revealed an FBI operation to monitor and censor social media content — an effort so overwhelming and intrusive that Twitter staff at one point complained internally that “they are probing & pushing everywhere.” The reports have indicated that dozens of FBI employees worked on the identification and removal of material on a wide range of subjects and that Twitter largely carried out their requests. Nor was it just the FBI, apparently. Emails reveal FBI figures like a San Francisco assistant special agent in charge asking Twitter executives to ‘invite an OGA’ (or ‘Other Government Organization’) to an upcoming meeting. A week later, Stacia Cardille, a senior Twitter legal executive, indicated the OGA was the CIA, an agency under strict limits regarding domestic activities. Twitter’s own ranks included dozens of ex-FBI agents and executives, including James Baker, who featured greatly in prior FBI instances of alleged bias. The Twitter files also show various FBI offices monitoring social media and flagging ‘misleading’ information on various subjects. The dozens of disclosed emails are only a fraction of Twitter’s files and do not include still-undisclosed but apparent government coordination with Facebook and other social media companies. Much of that work apparently was done through the multi-agency Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), which operated secretly it seems to censor citizens. Ironically, during the outcry over establishing a Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security, Biden administration officials had to have known they already were employing an extensive censorship system. When the administration finally relented and disbanded the disinformation board, that censorship work appears to have continued unimpeded through the FITF and agency censors.” • Has Mush purged the spooks? Or are they still infesting Twitter? Readers?

* * *

“The Americans Who Are Fleeing the United States” [The New Republic]. ” I’m a gay man living in a country that I fear is slowly but inexorably backsliding from flawed democracy to right-wing authoritarian rule, turning into a place where the rights and safety of LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups are increasingly under attack by a Republican Party and right-wing majority Supreme Court that, given their way, would not hesitate to erase them entirely. In such a scenario, it makes sense to have an exit strategy—whether dual citizenship, the ability to work abroad, or some other means to escape—in the perhaps not inevitable but no longer unthinkable event that the stuff of dystopian science fiction becomes reality.” • Of course, if you’ve had to deal with our health care system, you’ve already experienced a dystopian science fiction reality.

“Watch the Great Fall” [The Abbey of Misrule]. “Nostalgia is a curious thing. The love of a dead past is, on the surface, pointless, and yet it seems to be a universal, pan-cultural longing for something better than an equally dead but often less enticing present. This is something which its critics never seem to understand. ‘That’s just nostalgia’, they say, dismissively, when you suggest that a high street made up of independent shops might have been better than one giant superstore, or that folk songs around the fire in the pub might be better than Celebrity Love Island. The suggestion seems to be that this thing, ‘nostalgia’, is a kind of sickness, like flu or measles, that just hits you sometimes, with no rhyme or reason to it. Of course, there is a cure: a commitment to Progress. To the future, rather than to the past. There was no Golden Age – but there will be! Keep the faith. Keep going. I would suggest, instead, that nostalgia can be a rational response to a world heading in the wrong direction. Perhaps a practical response too.”

“Congress Members To Wear Barcodes So Lobbyists Can Scan Prices, Self-Checkout” [Babylon Bee]. From 2019, still germane.


Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but unlike Eric Topol, I’m not calling a surge, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and after an Everest like that, what’s left? Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the universal acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges.

I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet (but see here for immune system dysregulation, which is looking pretty awful).

Lambert here: Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. Stay safe out there!

* * *

• “It’s not the COVID economy, it’s just the economy now” [Axios]. “‘COVID is no longer playing an important role in our economy,’ chair Jerome Powell told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. The Fed chair’s comments are a big deal, marking the end of an era — but they don’t mean COVID is gone. Instead, the shocks of the pandemic have reshaped the very fabric of the economy itself. Powell was explaining why the FOMC dropped the term ‘public health’ from the risk factors listed in its post-meeting statement this week. COVID is still out there, it’s worth emphasizing. People are dying from the disease every day, and getting sick. Something Powell understands personally, he said. (He tested positive, with mild symptoms, in January.) But ‘,’ he said. It doesn’t really need to be in ‘a post-meeting statement, as an ongoing economic risk — as opposed to, you know, a health issue.’” • In other words, our current high plateau (look at cases, positivity, and deaths) has been successfully normalized (with, let us not forget, mitigation for elites). We have a good blueprint:

Now wait for climate!

• And speaking of normalization:

Normalization, and propaganda.

* * *

• “Reader question: Covid risk at a conference” [Violet Blue]. An excellent wrap-up of what a personal risk assessment really looks like, with tips. Well worth a read. I think most of the individual items will be familiar to NC readers, but here is a tip I have not seen: “Because covid has been allowed to freely mass-infect (and mass-re-infect) communities and populations, it has evolved on a supercharged schedule and we are nearly out of treatments. Paxlovid is currently the last one left that works. Remember that many people have not been able to get their doctors to give them Paxlovid and lots of people can’t take it for a variety of reasons. Find out how the location you’re traveling to deals with Paxlovid; for instance, California has a variety of free, no-contact options. It may be that the hotel you’re staying at could help; find out in advance.” • Good point on the hotel concierge, who could probably also help with sprays, etc.

* * *

• “We Now Face an Army of COVID Viruses” [The Tyee]. “What began as an airborne pandemic driven by a single virus has become a viral cloud roiling around the globe thanks to public policies that have allowed unfettered transmission. As a consequence the pandemic now represents different threats in different regions for different classes of people at different times. The wealthy elite attending Davos may be protected by tests and clean air machines, but the rest of us face contrasting realities. Some virologists have argued that people shouldn’t be concerned by these evolutionary doings, and that the messy world of Omicron subvariants is better left to the experts. But that’s a patronizing attitude. The pandemic affects us all, demanding citizens make decisions individually and together. So the point is not to be complacent or alarmed, but curious and attentive. We have entered an epoch of biological volatility and the risks this entails demand constant vigilance. Here are six observations on viral evolution and how it may shape our lives in this, the fourth year of the pandemic.” The six: “1. One virus has become many…. 2. The new COVID soup is a unique experiment in evolution…. 3. What were viral peaks are now a constant rising sea of infections with high and low tides…. 4. One pandemic has morphed into regional epidemics…. 5. Reinfections rarely happened. Now they are commonplace…. 6. We can do more to blunt the evolutionary threat of COVID subvariants.”

* * *

• “CO2.Click Review – An Affordable CO2 Monitor with Advanced Features” [Breathe Safe Air]. This is a good tutorial on CO2 monitors and a generally favorable review. One positive: The CO2.Click has “a measurement titled ‘RFA’. RFA stands for the rebreathed fraction of air…. I love this small addition because while the parts per million readings are useful, the RFA percentage is also a great stat to share. If I’m with my friends and they ask about the monitor, it’s often hard to explain carbon dioxide in terms of parts per million and their impact, as by the time I’ve explained it, they’ve usually lost interest. On the other hand, if I explain it as ‘you’re rebreathing 2% of your air right now!’ they tend to be far more interested.” One negative: “The build quality of the case also generally doesn’t feel as good as a mass-manufactured product such as the Aranet4. The plastic quality doesn’t feel as high, and the device feels more fragile. While I would still be happy to stick the CO2.Click in my backpack and carry it around with me, I feel more confident in the build quality of devices such as the Aranet4 or Qingping Air Monitor Lite.” • Also, the price is right!

• “I Bought a CO2 Monitor, and It Broke Me” [The Atlantic]. • What is wrong with these people? Helpful advice:

Then again, how indoor air moves isn’t all that easy to understand, is it?

* * *

Look for the helpers:

• Dude, no:

So far, I haven’t seen one single dogpile or moral panic about Corsi-Rosenthal boxes. So let’s not allow the focus to drift from engineering, mkay?

* * *

• “As many as 1 in 10 Coloradans may have been hit by long COVID, a report says” [CPR News]. “State officials have released their first estimate of how many people in Colorado have been hit by long COVID-19. The figure is staggering: Data suggest that between 230,000 and 650,000 Coloradans may have been affected. With a state population of nearly 6 million, the data suggest as many as one in 10 Coloradans have experienced long COVID, according to the report from The Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare in the Lt. Governor’s Office. And many of them have struggled to find treatments and answers about what can be a life-altering illness.” • I love it that there’s an “Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare.” Just out of curiosity, why not single payer?

• An aggregation of Covid’s neurological effects:

* * *

Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from February 3:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

• “Unreported SARS-CoV-2 Home Testing and Test Positivity” [JAMA]. “Timely SARS-CoV-2 testing is critical to reducing transmission.” Yes. Biden’s policy is mass infection without mitigation, and hence our ability to test has been nuked. More: “Our findings confirm common wisdom5,6 that official COVID-19 case counts increasingly underestimate the number of people who test positive and vastly underestimate the number of true infections. The percentage test positivity in officially reported tests appears to reflect home test positivity, though these trends may be diverging.” • But who knows? Who cares?


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map,” which is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.) The map is said to update Monday-Friday by 8 pm:

The previous map:

NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 6:

0.2%. Still at a high plateau, equal to previous peaks.

• “Almost 1,000 people wait up to 13 hours for COVID-19 testing in Maryvale” [Arizona Central]. • Over, totally over.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 30:

Again, what the [family blog] is the [family blogging] use of a national wastewater map where nearly all the collection sites are [family blogging] greyed out?

January 30:

And MWRA data, February 2:

Looks to me like New England’s regional surge is winding down. No bump from the students returning.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), January 23:

Lambert here: XBB overtakes BQ. CH not moving too fast, reassuring, because a Tweet in Links, January 11 from GM drew attention to it (“displays such a high relative growth advantage”) and in Water Cooler, January 18, from Nature: “CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 variants were highly resistant to both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccinations.”

Lambert here: Wierdly, the screen shot about has been replaced today by data from “10/7/2022.” (It’s clearly not current data; BQ.1* and XBB do not dominate.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), January 14 (Weighted Estimates Only*):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) CH.* now appears, a week after Walgreens. Here is Region 2, the Northeast:

CH.1* appears, but slightly below the national average. XBB utterly dominates, making clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average.

Here are all the regions, in a series of uncaptioned, legend-free and confusing pie charts:

It almost looks like, with respect to variants at least, there several pandemics, not one. The Northeast, where XBB (blue) dominates, and the other regions, with different proportions of other variants, but XBB not dominating. Odd. (Yes, I know the colors are the same as on the bar chart above. However, there are two charts, one bar, one pie, and on a laptop one cannot see both at same time. Just another example of CDC blithering at the level of the smallest detail.)

NOTE * CDC used to have a “Nowcast Off” radio button, which I used because of my bad experience with CDC models like Nowcast. CDC explains (I think) the change in the following note:

Weighted estimates (provided for all weeks except the most recent three weeks) are variant proportions that are based on empirical (observed) genomic sequencing data. These estimates are not available for the most recent weeks because of the time it takes to generate the unweighted data, including sample collection, specimen treatment, shipping, analysis, and upload into public databases.

Sublineages with weighted estimates less than 1% of all circulating variants are combined with their parent lineage. When the weighted estimate of a sublineage crosses the 1% threshold and has substitutions in the spike protein that could affect vaccine efficacy, transmission, or severity, it may be separated from its parent lineage and displayed on its own in the variant proportions data.

Nowcast estimates (provided for the most recent three weeks when the “Nowcast on” option is selected below) are model-based projections of variant proportions for the most recent weeks to enable timely public health action. CDC uses the Nowcast to forecast variant proportions before the weighted estimates are available for a given week.

Someone who can interpret The Great Runes can look at this; but I don’t have time today.

• “CH.1.1 ‘Orthrus’: How Concerning Is This New Covid-19 Subvariant?” [Forbes]. “Guess what. Yet another new Covid-19 coronavirus subvariant has been spreading. This one’s called CH.1.1, and it’s a descendant of the BA.2.75, you know that lovely Omicron subvariant that I wrote about for Forbes in July 2022. The CH.1.1 has a mutation that was present in the Delta variant, you know that lovely variant that turned what some prematurely thought would be the Summer of Sex in 2021 into the Summer of Surge. Since CH.1.1 may not be the easiest name to say, some have been calling this the ‘Orthrus’ subvariant, which is by no means an official name. Orthrus is the two-headed dog in Greek mythology who guarded Geryon’s cattle, as opposed to your everyday run-of-the-mill two-headed dog that you see near the local Starbucks. It’s not surprising that the CH.1.1 has emerged because mutate is something that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has proven that it can do. The big question is how “ruff” will this “Orthrus” subvariant be on everyone.”

As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated February 4:

Hospitalization data for Queens, updated February 3:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,136,313 – 1,135,341 = 972 (972 * 365 = 354,780 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

Stats Watch

There are no officials statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “When Does Elon Musk Sleep? Billionaire Speaks of Limits to Fixing Twitter and His Back Pain” [Wall Street Journal]. “His schedule has become part of the man’s myth. Last month, a fan on social media marveled at Mr. Musk’s single-day itinerary: He testified in a lawsuit that morning, attended a Tesla event in Nevada that evening and then met with Tesla’s artificial-intelligence team late into the night.” • Good luck on the AI thing. Let me know how it works out.


I was about to argue that crypto isn’t represenational, but then… NFTs. No pr0n NFTs. Hmm.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 6 at 1:16 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

The Conservatory

Lovely guitar intro, and possibly the best segue in live rock and roll:

“Why Did the Beatles Get So Many Bad Reviews?” [The Honest Broker]. “I think it’s more valuable to ask how these critics, specialists in their field, not only missed the mark, but in such an absurd way. They literally were handed the greatest recordings of their era to review, and blew them off. Every classic song on these albums was not only attacked, but actually mocked…. I now realize that the Beatles were getting punished for how quickly they were pushing rock music ahead. If you read enough of these hit pieces, you keep hearing the frustration that the new Beatles album doesn’t sound like the previous one….. The sad truth is the critics typically operate by looking in the rearview mirror. Like generals, they fail on the battlefield because their strategy is built on the last war. And that’s the same reason why jazz critics attacked Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk in the 1940s. Or Coltrane in the 1960s. Etc. etc. And are probably making similar missteps in the current day…. I raise all this primarily to give the Beatles full credit for their achievement. No musicians in history, by my measure, ever worked so courageously to disrupt the very same formulas that they themselves created. Perhaps Miles Davis comes close, but even Miles would only make a major change in his style every two or three years. The Beatles reinvented themselves with every album.”

The Gallery

This, to me, is what a “normal” house looks like (well, maybe not the dog. But the book-cases at right). It’s my baseline:

Which classifies and dates me pretty accurately!

Perhaps if I were French I would feel the same way about this:

Class Warfare

“SEIU Local 1 Lays off 10 Staffers Amid Allegations That Dues Remain Uncollected” [In These Times]. “n January 31, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 — the founding local of the 2-million-member international union — laid off 10 of its 89 unionized staffers after little over two weeks’ notice due to a budget shortfall. Nine of those impacted by layoffs are organizers or grievance representatives, which is nearly a third of the member-facing staff at the union, according to the Chicago News Guild, the union that represents Local 1 staffers. ‘All of us on the ground actually doing the organizing, doing the work, building coalitions — we got laid off,’ says Emily Little, a laid-off Local 1 staffer who helped organize workers in sports stadiums in Columbus, Ohio. Anne Balay, another laid-off staffer who spent three years organizing adjunct professors at four universities in St. Louis, Mo., tells In These Times she is worried about her members, some of whom no longer have an organizer on their campaigns. ‘All of us on the ground actually doing the organizing, doing the work, building coalitions—we got laid off.’ Local 1 staffer Adam Stant (who was not subject to layoff) says that these layoffs come at a moment when the labor movement should be hiring, not firing, organizers. An Economic Policy Institute report presents evidence that suggests 60 million workers would join a union if they could. Some labor observers argue that the bottleneck preventing these workers from having a union is unions themselves. ​’There has been no investment in the army of union organizers necessary to meet demand,’ writes Hamilton Nolan in a 2022 In These Times article, citing a 2022 report showing that .” • Unions are like universities, then?

“REI, union agree to hold election after Cleveland employees walk out” [Bicycle Retailer]. ” After REI Co-op’s Beachwood suburb store employees walked off the job minutes before their shifts Friday morning, the store agreed to terms with the union to hold an election. According to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), employees returned to work at 1:30 p.m. The agreement came after employees walked out at 9:45 a.m., demanding the right to vote in a free and fair National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election and for the company to stop what the RWDSU called ‘unlawful surveillance’ of workers. The election will include all NLRB-eligible workers at the Ohio store, a reversal from REI’s position last week. It will take place on March 3 from noon-6 p.m. EST at the Beachwood store. The workers walked out as an NLRB hearing was about to begin Friday. The hearing was scheduled because of workers’ demands for the right to vote in a free and fair election and ‘for the company to stop its union busting.’ REI wanted to remove more than half of the eligible members and to dismiss the election at the hearing, the union said. … Previous union elections took place at the New York City and Berkeley, California, REI stores. Beachwood’s unionization efforts have been ongoing for more than a year. On Jan. 11, its employees filed to have a union election and sought RWDSU representation.”

“Ohio union membership on the rise” [Axios Cleveland]. Local Axios bureaus is an intriguing development: “The percentage of statewide workers represented by a union rose from 13% in 2021 to 14% last year. That might seem like a modest increase, but it amounts to 52,000 more Ohioans belonging to organizations designed to advance and protect their rights at work. The increase is further evidence of a growing labor movement involving local workers at Ohio institutions and global companies alike.” • The national story is a little different. Handy map:

It makes perfect sense that the poor can’t cheer-lead:

News of the Wired

“Jury rules in favor of backyard pizza oven owners in Cleveland Heights lawsuit” [WKYC]. “According to the complaint, the situation dates back to May 2017 when the Jones family informed the defendants that use and operation of the oven would fill their residence ‘with smoke and fumes and causes the Joneses significant physical discomfort and emotional distress.’ The complaint also stated that ‘on many occasions’ use and operation of the pizza oven ‘has caused intolerable smoke and fumes at the Jones residence, and has caused significant physical discomfort, mental anguish and loss of use and enjoyment’ of their residence…. The Jones couple admitted to having gone over to their neighbor’s home for pizza, enjoying the food and the visit prior to filing the suit. It makes the attorney for the defendants question, why sue now?” • The first installment for “Feel Good Cleveland Week,” and I had to work harder than with Fresno. Can readers help?

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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 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 ChetG:

ChetG writes: “Here is an icicle collective, made possible by dense bushes. My wife had a heart attack on November 26, and the shock of it is still with us, especially in terms of present and upcoming doctor visits. So my concentration is none too good, and I’ve only begun going outdoors and taking photos again in January.” I always find that taking photographs washes my mind free of a lot of stressors. Very calming. Probably not true for some, like street photographers, but I take a contemplative approach. And best of luck to ChetG and his wife.

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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!

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