2:00PM Water Cooler 11/3/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Large-footed Finch, Cerro de la Muerte; km 107, San José, Costa Rica.

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“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

“Trump faces dual lawsuits to keep him off the ballot in 2024” [Olivia Rinaldi, CBS]. “Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” is prohibited from holding higher office.” • No, not “anyone.” This damaging distortion was propagated earlier this week by Larry Tribe; when quoting the Fourteenth Amendment he simply cut the words that undercut his thesis, as I show here. Now pack journalists like Rinaldi have picked it up.

“Section 3 Disqualifications for Democracy Preservation” [Ilya Somin, Lawfare]. Love the name. Here, CATO Institute goon Somin jumps into bed with Larry (and Olivia):

There is an ongoing debate over whether Donald Trump must be disqualified from holding the presidency—or any public office—under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Enacted in the aftermath of the Civil War, Section 3 states that and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Once again, the text of Section Three:

shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, , to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Very clearly, Section Three does not apply to “anyone.” If the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment had meant “previously held state or federal public office”, presumbly that’s what they would have written. And a colorable case has been made (here; here; here) that the President — being by the whole people — is not an “officer of the United States,” although he may indeed appoint those officers. Tribe and now Somin need to engage with that argument, not simply edit out words they don’t like. It’s like none of these nimrods can parse a gerund (“no person… who, hav….”) any more than the winger morons who handed our public spaces over to the gun humpers in a tendentious misreading of the Second Amendment (“be necessary”), in yet another sign of civilizational collapse. Be prepared for a ginormous jouissance of liberal aghastitude when the Supreme Court rules on the issue, in favor of what I regard as the proper construction (granted, IANAL).

CO: “Could the Courts Actually Take Trump Off the Ballot?” [The Atlantic]. “The trial is expected to last one week. Judge Sarah Wallace is determined to have the matter settled by Thanksgiving. Colorado is a “Super Tuesday” state, so its presidential primary will occur on March 5. Military and overseas ballots must be sent out 45 days before then, meaning that the ballots themselves will be printed in December or very early January. Griswold could not offer an exact ballot-printing deadline, noting that the sheets are prepared at various plants throughout Colorado.” • Presumably all the other judges in these cases are as aware of the printing deadlines for ballots (and surely the liberal Democrats aren’t going to manage to throw Trump off the ballot by filing a late case, so a State can’t make the deadline at the printers?).

MN: “Supreme Court Chief Hudson asks if court should disqualify Trump — even if it can” [Star-Tribune]. “Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Natalie Hudson posed a basic question Thursday at the outset of oral arguments on a petition seeking to use the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot. If the court’s justices agree that they have the ability to bar Trump, ”Should we’ is the question that concerns me most,’ the chief said. She raised the prospect of chaos if 50 state courts decide differently on Trump’s eligibility. ‘So, should we do it?’ she asked. The question went to Ronald Fein, lawyer for a bipartisan coalition including the national nonprofit Free Speech for People, former Secretary of State Joan Growe and former Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson. Hudson noted that prior cases on ballot disqualification gave mixed guidance on the issue. ‘Doesn’t that suggest we use caution and some judicial restraint and maintain the status quo?’ she asked. Fein countered that there is ‘ample authority’ to disqualify Trump and that the constitutional directive to the court is that it shall disqualify Trump.” Hudson is asking if indeed Section Three is “self-executing” (and implicitly contemplated an absurd result if it is so interpreted. I don’t think Fein is really answering that, at least as reported. More: “The court knows that time is critical. Arguing briefly for Simon, Assistant Attorney General Nathan Hartshorn took no position on Trump’s eligibility, but asked the court to rule no later than Jan. 5 so county election officials have time to prepare for the presidential primary before absentee voting begins Jan. 19.” • Good reporting. Worth reading in full.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

Only three more days until a full year to election day!

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“Judge Chutkan warns Trump’s attorneys not to share juror information with his campaign” [CNN]. “The judge overseeing the federal election subversion case against Donald Trump laid out some pre-trial deadlines and procedures for jury selection, as the former president tries to put the brakes on the entire case. On Thursday, Judge Tanya Chutkan handed down two orders, one setting up filing deadlines for prosecutors to respond to Trump’s long-shot dismissal motion and another outlining how jury questionnaires in the case will be handled. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on March 4, 2024, in Washington, DC. Jurors will be summoned to complete the questionnaires – which are generally designed to flag any issues a potential juror might have in the case – in early February. Chutkan made it clear that while prosecutors and defense attorneys can conduct open-source research on potential jurors, they can’t directly contact anyone or pass along any information that could identify a juror to a third party, including ‘the defendant’s campaign.’”

“Trump asks appeals court to stay gag order in D.C. 2020 election interference case” [CBS]. “In a late-night court filing, former President Donald Trump’s attorneys are asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s limited gag order in the D.C. 2020 election interference case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith…. Trump asked the court to make a decision by Nov. 10. That is just eight days away, and so far, it doesn’t appear that a three-judge panel has been assigned to consider the case.” And: “[Chutkan barred] Trump from publicly targeting court staff, federal prosecutors by name, and potential witnesses in the case. The judge said at the time her order was not based on whether she liked the comments in question, but whether they could imperil the future trial. Trump, Chutkan said, was being treated like any other defendant.” • IMNSHO, Chutkan’s order should shield the staff, should shield witnesses who are not public figures or officials, but should not shield Smith (ffs). From the Trump team’s filing:

Loving the term “heckler’s veto.” Being a bit of a heckler myselr!

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“UAW’s Victory And Joe Biden’s Curse” [Brian Beutler, Off Message]. “This is mostly a story about victorious workers and the power of collective bargaining, but by the transferative property, which I just invented, it should also be a victory for Biden, who sided with the workers, walked a picket line with them, and can rightfully note that their success is evidence of a strong economy, with tight labor markets. By the inverse property it is also another mark against Donald Trump, who tried to bamboozle the workers into thinking he supported their efforts, then held a campaign event at a non-union shop and tried to subvert the very solidarity that just prevailed. I don’t actually think there’s any other reasonable way to sum it all up, but apart from rare entries like this one by Greg Sargent, it’s not how the political side of the UAW strike story played out in the public sphere. Trump initially succeeded at confusing the issue, because he was able to convince many people of his lies while Biden was still deciding how tightly he wanted to link himself to the work stoppage.” • And Biden “was still deciding” why? Because screwing the workers — like railroad workers — isn’t something a Democrat should do in an election year?

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Republican Funhouse

“Republicans work to square election integrity with new early voting push” [Washington Examiner]. “Republicans across the country are looking to snag wins in state and federal elections in 2023 and 2024, and they’re embracing early and absentee voting like never before to do it. But the party’s base also becomes increasingly skeptical of election security and results, namely the 2020 presidential election, leading to intensifying calls for ‘election integrity.’ The two goals can appear competing, as Republicans have criticized vote by mail and practices such as ballot harvesting for years. And as the party continues its significant early voting push, prominent Republicans deride the practice. In former President Donald Trump’s pitches in favor of voting early, he still mentions his concerns over its security and distaste for the method. ‘I will secure our elections, and our goal will be one-day voting with paper ballots and voter ID,’ he said in Iowa earlier this month. ‘But until then, Republicans have to compete, and we have to win.’ At a separate New Hampshire event, the former president told his supporters they don’t need to worry about voting at all because he has ‘plenty of votes.’”

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.

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“The Democrats Are Their Own Worst Enemies” [New York Times]. “As [John Judis] and [Ruy] Teixeira write in the book, ‘The Democratic Party has had its greatest success when it sought to represent the common man and woman against the rich and powerful, the people against the elite and the plebeians against the patricians.’” Teixeira invented the concept of the Democrat Party as a bundle of identity verticals, so his repositioning here is absolutely as shameless as we would expect a Democratic strategist’s to be. More: “Much of the Democratic Party’s agenda has been set by what Judis and Teixeira call the ‘shadow party,’ a mix of donors from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, wealthy foundations, activist groups, the media, lobbyists and scholars.” Scholars? Really? More: “For too long, the Democratic Party depended on shifting demographics to shore up its side [persuaded by Teixeira!]. Then it relied on the horror show of the G.O.P. to scare people onto its side. Both have been an effective and damaging distraction. As Judis and Teixeira put it, Democrats ‘need to look in the mirror and examine the extent to which their own failures contributed to the rise of the most toxic tendencies on the political right.’ We [who?] can no longer afford to avoid the hard truths. If the Democratic Party doesn’t focus on what it can deliver to more Americans, it won’t have to wonder anymore where all the Democrats went.” • If there’s one thing we know that the Democrat base in the hegemonic PMC cannot do, it’s self-reflect. So, “looking in the mirror” is, to coin a phrase, “the failed policies of the past.”

“FBI Raids Home of Top Adams Fundraiser Brianna Suggs as Mayor Rushes Back to NYC” [The City (Furzy Mouse)]. “Federal agents raided the Crown Heights home of a top fundraiser for Mayor Eric Adams early Thursday, according to reports, leading the mayor to return to the city immediately after traveling to Washington D.C. to discuss the migrant crisis. The raid on the residence of Brianna Suggs, first reported by The New York Times, happened as Adams arrived in the capital where he had been scheduled to join the mayors of Denver and Chicago to meet with senior White House and other officials. But after 9 a.m. he abruptly canceled all of his meetings and turned right around to return to New York City to deal with ‘a matter,’ his spokesperson said.” • Oh. Nice timing by the FBI, I must say.

“U.S. Investigating Whether Adams Received Illegal Donations From Turkey” [New York Times (Furzy Mouse)]. “Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. are conducting a broad public corruption investigation into whether Mayor Eric Adams’s 2021 election campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations, according to a search warrant obtained by The New York Times. The investigation burst into public view on Thursday when federal agents conducted an early-morning raid at the Brooklyn home of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs. Ms. Suggs is a campaign consultant who is deeply entwined with efforts to advance the mayor’s agenda. Investigators also sought to learn more about the potential involvement of a Brooklyn construction company with ties to Turkey, as well as a small university in Washington, D.C., that also has ties to the country and to Mr. Adams. According to the search warrant, investigators were also focused on whether the mayor’s campaign kicked back benefits to the construction company’s officials and employees, and to Turkish officials.” And the university: “Investigators specified documents relating to Bay Atlantic University, a tiny Turkish-owned institution that opened in Washington, D.C., in 2014. The following year, Mr. Adams visited one of the school’s sister universities in Istanbul, where he was given various certificates and was told that a scholarship would be created in his name.” • Whoopsie. Well, so much for the cop-lovin’ Black Democrat with the million-watt smile! I wonder who has it in for him, and why?


“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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“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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Elite Maleficence

Second day of HICPAC meetings. Briefly because I need to process this:

HICPAC votes the draft through, rolling back masking so that it’s worse than pre-Covid pandemic levels, setting the stage for hospital mayhem in the next airborne pandemic (which come along every ten years ago, if memory serves):

I am Lambert’s lack of surprise. As I wrote back in July:

1. None of the hospitals with which the HICPAC members are affiliated have a policy of universal masking.

2. Though some of the HICPAC members look not unfavorably on masking, and on airborne transmission generally, none could be characterized as advocates.

3. Favorability toward universal masking, ideally with N95s, is inversely correlated with institutional clout; Mass General/Brighams vehemently opposed; the University of North Carolina and Barnes-Jewish persuadable..

4. (i.e., no universal masking, let along universal masking with N95s, going forward). One might, indeed, go so far as to characterize the HICPAC meeting as theatre, were there drama involved in a clearly pre-determined outcome[2].

Shorter: The fix was in. I will have more to say on this masterwork of stochastic eugenicism.

There is still time for comments:

Transcript from Day One:

“The HICPAC Public Comments threaded” [Lazarus Long, ThreadReader]. Many embedded videos.

Crowded, closed, close-contact:

I wish I could identify the two HICPAC members who are wearing masks.

Remember that footnote 2 of the HICPAC draft cites to that horrid Cochrane study, as I showed yesterday:

Jefferson is a nasty piece of work.

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, October 30:

Lambert here: Cases leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card. And Thanksgiving is coming up.

Regional data:


NOT UPDATED From CDC, October 28:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, with FL.1.15.1 and XBB. trailing. No BA.2.86 (although that has showed up in CDC’s airport testing). Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, October 14:

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, October 28:

Lambert here: Flattening. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of November 3:

Leveled out, totally. (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. October 28:

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?


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, October 30:

1.3%. Increase. (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, October 28:

Lambert here: Slight increase. 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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, October 16:

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

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance. This variant chart has not been updated, which makes me wonder if CDC is gaming the data, and BA.2.86 is worse than we think.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

Lambert here: Dunno why no updates. I may have to drop this one, with great reluctance; I like my sources non-CDC.

Total: 1,181,289 – 1,181,151 = 138 (138 * 365 = 50,370 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). 

Excess Deaths

The Economist, November 3:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The unemployment rate in the United States increased to 3.9% in October 2023, slightly exceeding market expectations and the previous month’s figure of 3.8%. This marks the highest jobless rate since January 2022, with the number of unemployed individuals rising by 146 thousand to 6.51 million, while the count of employed individuals decreased by 348 thousand to 161.2 million.”

Services: “United States ISM Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI fell to 51.8 in October 2023, the lowest in five months, and way below forecasts of 53.”

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Tech: “YouTube crackdown leads to ‘hundreds of thousands’ of ad blocker uninstalls” [9to5Google]. “After a few months of testing, YouTube has opened the floodgates to its blocking of ad blockers, and that’s led to a wave of uninstalls – but not of YouTube. YouTube’s crackdown on ad blockers started earlier this year in a limited capacity and slowly ramped up to affect more and more users. As of this week, the practice was in full swing, affecting virtually anyone using an ad blocker around the globe. YouTube says that using an ad blocker violates the platform’s policies. As Wired reports, this rollout has led to ‘hundreds of thousands’ of uninstalls, not of YouTube but of ad blockers. The figures apparently come from various ad-blocking companies, where October saw a ‘record number’ of people uninstalling ad blockers. Meanwhile, it also led to a record number of new installs, as many users looked to switch from one blocker to another in an effort to keep blocking ads. One ad-blocking company, Ghostery, shared that 90% of users who completed a survey when uninstalling their ad blocker cited YouTube’s changes as the reason.”

Manufacturing: “Auto execs are coming clean: EVs aren’t working” [Business Insider]. “With signs of growing inventory and slowing sales, auto industry executives admitted this week that their ambitious electric vehicle plans are in jeopardy, at least in the near term. Several C-Suite leaders at some of the biggest carmakers voiced fresh unease about the electric car market’s growth as concerns over the viability of these vehicles put their multi-billion-dollar electrification strategies at risk. Among those hand-wringing is GM’s Mary Barra, historically one of the automotive industry’s most bullish CEOs on the future of electric vehicles. GM has been an early-mover in the electric car market, selling the Chevrolet Bolt for seven years and making bold claims about a fully electric future for the company long before its competitors got on board. But this week on GM’s third-quarter earnings call, Barra and GM struck a more sober tone. The company announced with its quarterly results that it’s abandoning its targets to build 100,000 EVs in the second half of this year and another 400,000 by the first six months of 2024. GM doesn’t know when it will hit those targets…. almost all current EV product is going for under sticker price these days, and on top of that, some EVs are seeing manufacturer’s incentives of nearly 10%.” • Hmm.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 27 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 3 at 1:02:53 PM ET. Not sure why the turn-around. Nasrallah’s speech?

Our Famously Free Press

“No, newsrooms don’t need to cede control to social media” [Werd I/O]. “In the Washington Post, Taylor Lorenz writes about how influencers creating news content directly on modern social networks are outstripping traditional news sites in popularity:… The trouble is, of course, that creators and publications who publish directly on social media platforms are putting themselves at the mercy of the business decisions and policy whims of those companies…. But that’s doesn’t mean Taylor or the Reuters Institute report she cites are wrong. There are two key factors at play here: a loss of trust in journalistic institutions in favor of individuals, and a change in expectations around where to find content on the internet. The loss of trust in institutions has been ongoing for decades, and in some cases is well-earned. It’s also part of a shift in trust from brands to individuals overall. That’s been accelerated by social media in part, but really comes down to human dynamics. Influencers tend to be more representative of audience demographics than news institutions, which still skew older, richer, whiter, and male. They’re more likely to more closely represent the views of younger people. It’s fundamentally easier to trust a real person who is representative of your communities than some faceless organization that represents the more traditional values of the older audience members who are more likely to pay for subscriptions or make a donation.” • I dunno. The author trashes the blogosphere, to which I wish we could return (a time, also, when bloggers were the demographic Lorenz points to today. “We Were Bloggers Once, And Young.”

News of the Wired

“If You Plant Milkweed, They Will Come. (And Not Just the Butterflies.)” [New York Times]. “If you welcome this plant, a diverse, living fan base will follow close behind — and not only monarch butterflies… ‘The hungry throng’ that Mr. Lee-Mäder enumerates includes at least 40 insect species that ‘feed often or exclusively on North American milkweeds in the summer,’ he writes. They include butterflies, moths, beetles and aphids. In a milkweed seed-farm field in the Midwest, he recalls witnessing a cloud of aphids descend on the breeze, as if tuned in by GPS to the emerging crops’ location. ‘It’s like seeing nature sort of manifest itself out of thin air around this plant,’ he said. Before you say, ‘No, not aphids; not in my garden,’ think about their role in the big picture, Mr. Lee-Mäder said — as food for beneficial insects like lady beetles and lacewing insects, for instance, which are, in turn, food for birds. And one of the most abundant milkweed-visiting aphids, the nonnative oleander aphid, is host-specific, meaning it doesn’t eat other plants. Other invertebrates, including slugs, snails and spider mites, may feast on milkweeds, too, as do some larger animals, like rabbits and ground squirrels, which are apparently resistant to poisoning. Beyond so many opportunities for herbivory, Asclepias flowers provide nectar to adult butterflies and moths, along with an astonishing lineup of bee species and wasps.”

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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 ST:

ST writes: “Found the attached example of plant life in my backyard. Don’t know what it is, but it has interesting colors. Share with the readers if you like it.”

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