2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2023 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Solitary Tinamou, Santa Catarina, Brazil. “The ‘chororocada’ song, heard in the breeding season.” Well, dammit, if it’s so solitary…. (I also love the ’30s newsreel-style voice introduction, also a vanishing breed.)

* * *

Politics

“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

“6 pro-Trump ‘fake electors’ indicted by Nevada grand jury” [The Hill]. “The six Nevadans face felony charges of offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged document for disseminating a document titled ‘Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada’ to several government entities…. Planning in Nevada to use an alternate slate of electors began as early as four days before the 2020 election, when DeGraffenreid — one of the charged fake electors — told other state party officials in a text that former Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) ‘might do a lot of things, but sending a slate of Republican electors without them being clearly the winners of the popular vote is not one of them.’… DeGraffenreid, a GOP committee member, emailed then-Trump lawyer Chesebro on Dec. 11, 2020, with the subject ‘URGENT-Trump-Pence campaign asked me to contact you to coordinate Dec. 14 voting by Nevada electors,’ according to the Jan. 6 committee’s final report. ”

“Nevada grand jury indicts six Republicans who falsely certified that Trump won the state in 2020” [Associated Press]. “The indictments in Nevada are just the latest to come out of investigations in several states into the activities of Republican electors. Michigan’s Attorney General filed felony charges in July against 16 Republican fake electors, who would face eight criminal charges including forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery, though one had charges dropped after reaching a cooperation deal. The top charge carried a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. In Wisconsin, 10 Republicans who posed as electors settled a civil lawsuit Wednesday, admitting their actions were part of an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Sixteen fake electors also have been charged in Georgia, three of which were also charged in August alongside Trump in a sweeping indictment accusing them of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally overturn the results of the presidential election. They have pleaded not guilty. Democratic attorneys general in New Mexico and Arizona also are investigating the role of fake electors in their states.”

Biden Administration

“Six Governors Push Biden To Reschedule Pot in Open Letter” [High Times]. “Governors across America are tired of waiting for President Joe Biden to fulfill his goal to swiftly determine if the country should reschedule cannabis at the federal level—leading six of them to urge the president in a letter to do something after months of inaction. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy urged the president to take action in a letter dated Dec. 5, given that it’s been 10 years since the first states legalized adult-use pot (starting with Colorado and Washington).”

2024

Less than a year to go!

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“Is Corporate America Betting on Trump?” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “A few well-connected contacts in the big tech world told me early on they were quite confident it would be a reversion to Obama era antitrust, that Kamala Harris would take care of them. Were they ever wrong! Biden appointed aggressive enforcers to both the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and to the Federal Trade Commission, and issued a meaningful executive order on competition. The net effect is a massive deterrent against mergers, especially large ones, with deal volume down 16% this year alone. There’s also a lot of litigation where judges have to start dealing with antitrust. From the book industry to health insurance to Google and Amazon to prescription routing networks to virtual reality to video games to semiconductors to sugar to health-specific adtech to pharmaceutical patents and private equity health care providers to airlines to pipelines to meat to pesticides, the antitrust world has been busy. And that’s unlikely to slow. The JetBlue-Spirit trial is ending, which could go to appeal. The IQVIA merger trial is ongoing, as is the first Google antitrust search trial. Another Google trial starts early next year, as does an FTC trial against Facebook. My guess is there will be more challenges, potentially against the supermarket combination of Kroger-Albertsons, the design software merger of Adobe and Figma, and/or pharma giant Pfizer’s purchase of Seagan. But what’s interesting is that over the past few months, the deterrent effect seems to be waning, as there have been some major announcements of big mergers.” What I don’t get: If Biden’s going to do all this, why isn’t he selling it, instead of Bidenomics™? More: “[W]hat’s happening is that deal-makers think that Trump could win.” • Leave it to Stoller to come up with a good reason to vote for Biden (even if, from his behavior, Biden thinks it’s not a good reason).

* * *

“Joe Biden offers bald-faced lies to all of America about his family affairs” [New York Post]. “Three times on Wednesday, Joe Biden denied that he has interacted with his son Hunter and brother Jim’s business associates, when it is an undeniable, documented fact that he has interacted with them dozens of times. Tony Bobulinski would like a word. Bobulinski, Hunter’s business partner on the family’s joint venture with Chinese energy company CEFC, voluntarily provided testimony to the FBI that he met Joe on two occasions in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2017, on May 2 and May 3. On the first occasion, Jim and Hunter were present, and on the second, Bobulinski met with Joe alone. ‘I am a former decorated naval officer who was willing to die for this great country and held the highest security clearance issued by the Department of Energy,’ Bobulinski told The Post yesterday. ‘Why is Joe Biden blatantly lying to the American people and the world by claiming that he did not meet with me face to face?’ ‘He should call his son Hunter and brother Jim as they can remind him of the facts. The American people deserve the truth.’” • Biden “denied” three times? Cf. Luke 22:34!

“Joe Biden owes me _____” is a pretty good template. Atrios:

* * *

“Israel, China and migration: Key takeaways from the US Republican debate” [Al Jazeera]. “Christie resumed his role as the most prominent Trump critic on the debate stage, but while none of his rivals matched his zeal, some still took their own modest shots at the former president. [America’s Most Organic Candidate™, Nikki] Haley, in particular, criticised government spending under the Trump administration, which approved a massive COVID-19 economic relief package in 2020. She also described Trump as an agent of chaos. ‘We have to stop the chaos, but you can’t defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos,’ Haley said. ‘And that’s what Donald Trump gives us. My approach is different: no drama, no vendettas, no whining.’” If somebody tells me “no whining,” my immediate assumption is that massive whinage is in the works. More: “For his part, DeSantis, who burst onto the national scene with his stern defence of Trump, questioned the former president’s electability, suggesting he may be too old to serve in the White House at age 77. He also argued that Trump did not deliver on his 2016 election promises. ‘He didn’t clean up the swamp. He said he was going to drain it. He did not drain it. He said he was going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. We don’t have the wall,’ DeSantis said. Trump is leading the race by as many as 40 percentage points, according to some polls. The presidential hopefuls voiced staunch support for Israel in its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians.”

“The Republican debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley” [Chicago Tribune]. “With Trump absent, the atmosphere around the debate lacked some of the buzz sometimes associated with such affairs, especially in ostensibly open primaries. Less than two hours to go before the opening salvo, the media room, which is normally the practice hall for the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, was barely half full. The television and radio platforms around the periphery — the spin room, in debate parlance — were noticeably quiet, lacking the high-profile surrogates or campaign staffers who might normally be appearing live on cable news or talk radio to pitch on their candidates’ behalf. Outside Moody Music Hall on campus, more buzz came from state high school football championship games being played in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The debate may have been hard to find for many prospective viewers. It aired on NewsNation, a cable network still trying to build its audience after taking over WGN America three years ago.”

* * *

“Ramaswamy sparks social media firestorm over ‘Nikki = Corrupt’ sign at GOP debate” [FOX]. “‘I don’t have a woman problem,’ Ramaswamy told Haley as part of an attack criticizing her work in the military contracting sector after her time as ambassador. ‘You have a corruption problem and I think that that’s what people need to know. Nikki is corrupt.’ As Ramaswamy was saying that, he pulled out a sign that had been sitting on the podium that read, ‘Nikki=Corrupt.’ ‘,’ Ramaswamy added. When asked by a moderator if she wanted to respond to Ramaswamy’s claim, Haley said, ‘No. It’s not worth my time to respond to him.’” • Is he wrong? (Of course it’s not worth Haley’s time. She can’t bill for it, can she?)

“Haley says Ramaswamy not ‘serious candidate’: ‘It’s not worth us dealing with Vivek’” [The Hill]. • I like Haley’s “we.” Throw ’em off the droshky!

“Ramaswamy calls Haley ‘fascist’” [The Hill]. “‘The only person more fascist than the Biden regime now is Nikki Haley, who thinks the government should identify every one of those individuals with an ID,’ Ramaswamy said during the debate, which is being hosted by The Hill’s sister organization NewsNation, to boos from the crowd. ‘That is not freedom, that is fascism, and she should come nowhere near the levers of power, let alone the White House,’ he added. Ramaswamy was referring to a previous proposal offered by Haley suggesting that social media users needed to be verified by name, saying in a Fox News interview, “. That’s, first of all, it’s a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden, people have to stand by what they say.’” • Haley has seized on an attractive item from the fascist smorgasboard, that’s for sure. I’m surprised not to hear any liberal Democrats from the Censorship Industrial Complex saying “Well, she’s got a point.” And speaking of social media–

“Nikki Haley says TikTok makes people ‘17% more antisemitic, more pro-Hamas’” [Guardian]. • Spurious precision?

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* * *

“‘Whatever it takes’: Cheney considers third-party bid to stop Trump in 2024” [Axios]. “Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is considering a third-party presidential bid as she seeks to do “whatever it takes” to stop former President Trump from winning in 2024, she told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday…. Cheney said that she will decide whether to launch a presidential campaign early next year.”

“Liz Cheney says she may launch 3rd party bid against Trump, claims he could end democracy” [ABC]. “She said, however, that she would not join the so-called ‘unity’ ticket that could be put forth by the No Labels group if it seemed like that would help elect Trump.” • Dream ticket: Clinton/Cheney 2024!

Republican Funhouse

“Chuck Todd: How elected officials are gaslighting America [NBC]. “Among Republicans nationally, just 26% believed Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate. Among former GOP members of Congress, a whopping 82% believe he won legitimately…. It’s obvious that members of Congress too often give in to the belief systems of their (sometimes overly whipped-up) constituents out of fear of losing their jobs. What’s less clear is exactly the price those self-preservation decisions cost us….. I’ll never forget a conversation I had, when Trump was first elected, with a prominent Republican senator who pulled me aside while getting off of a plane and promised to stand up to Trump. They were the guardrail, they swore, against Trump’s running roughshod over the system and the Constitution. Needless to say, that senator’s pledge lasted less than a year….. As has been said numerous times, authoritarians usually don’t take power, they are handed it, and the elected GOP class has gotten more comfortable handing power to Trump with every year that has gone by since he burst onto the scene in 2016.” • Hmm.

“Congressman Dave Joyce Will Introduce Bill To Reclassify State-Legal Cannabis At Federal Level” [Benzinga]. “Republican Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) is leading the charge for marijuana legalization in the United States through the proposed STATES 2.0 Act…. Anticipated to be officially introduced this week, the STATES 2.0 Act aims to rectify the current federal-state discord in cannabis laws by acknowledging individual states’ decisions. The legislation, an enhanced version of Joyce’s 2019 STATES Act, seeks to enable the descheduling of state-legal marijuana while upholding federal illegality for marijuana produced outside regulated markets…. Recognizing the diverse approaches of 38 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, which currently have some form of state-regulated marijuana market, the STATES 2.0 Act upholds states’ rights. It enforces federal regulation solely in states opting to legalize, leaving prohibitory states unaffected.”

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.

* * *

#COVID19

“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, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: 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, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“222 nm Far-UVC Use Case: At The Dentist” [Pandemic Enclave]. “I ran a very informal poll on Twitter not long ago, asking folks what situations were their biggest concern where they thought 222 nm far-UVC might be able to help. An important caveat is the focus in this instance is on consumer devices, rather than looking at commercial applications, which is a bit of a different animal…. Not surprisingly, this was the biggest concern that cropped up, for obvious reasons: you’re basically stuck in a chair, mouth agape, with one or more people poking around in your mouth, with their mouths and noses maybe 12 to 18 inches from yours. On top of that, there may also be times when you have to move between the chair and other equipment, say a specialized x-ray machine. Many dental clinics these days are also ‘open bay’ designs, which don’t have structural walls between exam areas and aerosols can flow much more freely. And dentistry can kick up a LOT of aerosols, not just from folks exhaling, but from drilling, spraying water, etc. While aerosols wafting around on air currents are certainly a threat, I submit the biggest threat is posed by the dentist and techs working on you, with their faces roughly (at a guess) 12 to 24 inches from yours.” • There follows a discussion of devices and power levels…. Worth a read!

The American genius for tinkering:

Not sure about this — why not just mask? — but I’m glad this guy is in there punching!

Maskstravaganza

“Maskless Mandy” mentions masks, so things must be really bad:

I don’t think there’s all that much to be thankful for. There are three items in this order: Handwashing, ventilation, masks. CDC keeps trying to throw all the respiratory viruses into one bucket as “seasonal.” But (a) SARS-CoV-2 is not seasonal, and (b) handwashing doesn’t not prevent it (although it may help with RSV and flu, but they aren’t, as far as we know, brain-damaging). So the order should be: N95s (not “masks”), and then ventilation, since cleaning the air helps with all three. Only then handwashing. Also, why the heck isn’t she practicing what she’s preaching, and wearing an N95? “Scarlet letter” or sumpin’?

Speaking of sheep:

Vaccines

“One in four who had Pfizer Covid jabs experienced unintended immune response” [The Telegraph]. “More than a quarter of people injected with mRNA Covid jabs suffered an unintended immune response created by a glitch in the way the vaccine was read by the body, a study has found. No adverse effects were created by the error, data show, but Cambridge scientists found such vaccines were not perfect and sometimes led to nonsense proteins being made instead of the desired Covid ‘spike’, which mimics infection and leads to antibody production…. In the case of the Covid jabs, the end result is a nonsensical and harmless protein, the team found, which the body attacks and leads to an immune system flare-up. The new study, published in Nature, found this occurred in around 25-30 per cent of people.” • Well, at least they’re not using the word “mild.” Anyhow, for those still interested, Novavax is not mRNA.

Testing and Tracking

“Using both nose, throat swabs boosts sensitivity of rapid COVID testing” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Using both nasal and throat swabs increased sensitivity for HCW- and self-collected specimens by 21.4 and 15.5 percentage points, respectively, compared with a single nose swab. ‘Our findings suggest that the current testing recommendations should include throat specimens to improve the sensitivity of rapid antigen testing,’ the study authors wrote. ‘Further research should confirm our findings using redesigned and other rapid antigen testing devices and explore whether throat specimens can also improve the detection of other common airway infections.’” • Maybe decrease those false negatives from RAT!

Interesting question on wastewater:

Not resolved on the thread!

Transmission

“Eyeglasses and risk of COVID-19 transmission – analysis of the Virus Watch Community Cohort study” [International Journal of Infectious Diseases]. From the Abstract: “Participants from the Virus Watch prospective community cohort study responded to a questionnaire on the use of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Infection was confirmed through data linkage, self-reported positive results, and, for a subgroup, monthly capillary antibody testing…. . Multivariable logistic regression model showed 15% lower odds of infection for those who reported using eyeglasses always for general use (OR 0.85, 95% 0.77-0.95, p = 0.002) compared to those who never wore eyeglasses.” • Many more eyeglasses links on this thread.

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, December 4:

Lambert here: Biden’s doing great. His Omicron spike is, of course, incomparable, but now he’s beaten Trump’s case count for both January and September 2021. In 2023! Case counts moving smartly upward (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition). Only 19 superspreading days until Christmas!

Regional data:

Those near-vertical curves in the Midwest and the Northeast are concerning, although as ever with Biobot you have to watch for backward revisions.

Variants

NOT UPDATED From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, but BA.2.86 coming up fast on the outside.

From CDC, November 11:

Lambert here: I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “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.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, December 2:

Lambert here: Slight increases in some age groups, conforming to wastewater data. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

NOTE “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.

Hospitalization

Bellwether New York City, data as of December 7:

Steadily up. New York state as a whole looks more like a spike. (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 25:

Up….

Lambert here: “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†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?

Positivity

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, December 4:

0.2%. Up. (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.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, December 2:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, November 13:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 6:

BA.2.86 20% of the the total last week, 25% of the total this week.

Deaths

Total: 1,184,345 – 1,184,189 = 30 (156 * 365 = 56,940 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). 

Lambert here: This number is too small no matter what. Iowa Covid19 Tracker hasn’t been updated since September 27, 2023. I may have to revert to CDC data. Yech.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged higher by 1,000 to 220,000 on the week ending December 2nd, slightly under market expectations of 222,000, but marking the second-highest reading since September. The result extended the current trend that the US labor market is showing signs of cooling from tighter levels displayed earlier in the year, albeit remaining strong from a historical standpoint.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced plans to cut 45,510 jobs in November 2023, higher than 36,836 in October.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 1:50:34 PM ET.

The Conservatory

“We Should All Give Thanks for Taylor Swift” [Peggy Noonan]. “Right about now Time magazine would be choosing its Person of the Year…. Here I tell you who it will be and must be or I will be displeased. Miss Taylor Swift is the Person of the Year. She is the best thing that has happened in America in all of 2023…. What she did this year is some kind of epic American story…. Her tour has broken attendance and income records across the country. She has transformed the economy of every city she visits. The U.S. Travel Association reported this fall that what her concertgoers spend in and around each venue ‘is on par with the Super Bowl, but this time it happened on 53 different nights in 20 different locations over the course of five months.’ … Bloomberg Economics reports U.S. gross domestic product went up an estimated $4.3 billion as a result of her first 53 concerts. The tour made her a billionaire, according to Forbes the first musician ever to make that rank solely based on her songs and performances.” • And that’s before we get to the superspreading! Anyhow, Nooners was on the money–

“Taylor Swift Named Time’s Person of the Year, Tells Her Enemies: ‘Trash Takes Itself Out’” [Hollywood Reporter]. The full quote: “There is one thing I’ve learned: My response to anything that happens, good or bad, is to keep making things. . But I’ve also learned there’s no point in actively trying to quote unquote defeat your enemies. Trash takes itself out every single time.” • She’s about that (although whatever it was with the Kardashians, I missed it entirely).

“The dark truth about Taylor Swift” [Unherd]. “So what is it about her work that so captivates the young women who form the backbone of her fanbase? Crucially, I think, her love songs don’t tend to be about relationships that end well. A few — ‘Mine’ and ‘Love Story’ for instance — describe happy endings. But by and large even her requited ones are upbeat only when describing the first flush of infatuation, as in ‘Enchanted’, ‘Fearless’, and ‘Ready For It?’ Instead of inclining towards the happy ever after, Swiftian passion comes with its own doom baked in: an assumption that, for any number of reasons, the high won’t last. ‘Delicate’ is a stuttering, anxious hymn to the fear that declaring your feelings will destroy a budding romance. ‘Endgame­’ captures both the longing to be someone’s ‘happy ever after’ and, implicitly, the expectation that this the dream will turn sour.” • This is literally the only Taylor Swift song I’ve listened to, 2023 – 2008 = 15 years ago:

Catchy, but to me a bit cringe (though belong “with” and not “to” is a nice touch). Interestingly, Swift, playing the protagonist, may be dressed as a teen, but is clearly not a teen. Not sure what to make of that.

Class Warfare

“Vegas shooter who killed 3 was a professor who recently applied for a job at UNLV, AP source says” [Associated Press]. “The gunman in Wednesday’s shooting was a professor who had unsuccessfully sought a job at the school, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. He previously worked at East Carolina University in North Carolina.” • Even though AP doesn’t say what rank of professor — Tenured? Full? Associate? Adjunct? — nevertheless we seem to be moving up the ladder from postal workers and alienated teenagers….

News of the Wired

“Behind the Scenes of Sound ID in Merlin” [Macaulay Library]. “Today we announced one of our biggest breakthroughs—Sound ID, a new feature in the Merlin Bird ID app—and a major leap forward in sound identification and machine learning to date. Sound ID lets people use their phone to listen to the birds around them, and see live predictions of who’s singing. Currently, Merlin can identify 458 bird species in the U.S. and Canada based on their sounds (with more species and regions coming soon). Sound ID runs on your device, without requiring a network connection. Download it today for free and test it out in your own backyard! If you happen to be located in the Northeastern United States you can test out Sound ID on the audio below which was recorded in New Hampshire.” • I found this on Hacker News; I wonder if some NC readers propagated “Macaulay Library” there?

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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 MG:

MG writes: “This is a lovely autumn morning in my neighbor’s garden, which is the view out from our west windows. You should hear the “Dublinese” begrudgery from Himself whenever I comment on how beautiful it is. Sigh.”

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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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