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Covid 19

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/28/2020

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/09/200pm-water-cooler-9-28-2020.html

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Bird Song of the Day



I’m still struggling with the search function at Macauley, but sometimes you can spot an interesting call from the waveform alone!


#COVID19


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.





Here are the United States regions:



If current trends continue, we could be where we were August 1 in 30 days — the election now being 40 days out. But now there’s some flattening. Perhaps school shutdowns?


Here are the Swing States as I conceive them (see below):



Both Wisconsin and North Carolina look worrisome now.


UPDATE MI: “One person tested positive for coronavirus after Saginaw-area Trump rally, state health officials say” [MLive]. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been notified of one person who attended President Donald Trump’s Sept. 10 rally in Freeland who has since tested positive for COVID-19. ‘The department is unable to say whether this person already had COVID-19 prior to attending the rally or whether the individual contracted COVID-19 at the rally,’ said Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton.”


TX: “How a glitchy computer system skewed Texas’ coronavirus data and hampered its pandemic response” [Texas Tribune]. “A glitchy electronic system that state health officials had repeatedly warned was aging and at high risk of ‘critical failure’ has stymied efforts to track and manage the coronavirus in Texas and left policymakers with incomplete, and at times inaccurate, data about the pandemic’s spread. The state’s public health agency asked Texas lawmakers for money last year to improve a reporting system — the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, or NEDSS — it said was several versions behind what other states used at the time. The work was months from being finished when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Local health officials were left to navigate a public health disaster using a system they describe as ‘cumbersome,’ ‘archaic’ and ‘really slow’ and which until August could not keep pace with the 60,000 or more coronavirus test results it received on many days. It was also not equipped to manage the massive undertaking of tracking and tracing coronavirus infections. The state hired a contractor to build a separate system that was not ready until late May and is still not widely used by local health departments.”





Politics


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


“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune


“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord


The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270. August 18: Still no changes. August 31: Indiana moves from Likely to Safe Republican. September 9: No changes. September 14: No changes. September 21: No changes. September 22: Ohio moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican. Biden still at 278, Trump increases to 187, 73 are tossups. 187 + 73 = 260, so…. MI, WI, MN looking pretty tempting! For all the sturm and drang, and the polls, the consensus on the electoral college remains remarkably static: Biden ahead, Trump within striking distance. Of course, if Trump is still in striking distance on Election Day, that will count as a loss. Maybe.



The election countdown:



Here is an early voting calendar. Maybe we’ll have a whole series of October surprises, since election day is gradually being devalued as an event.


And here are mail-in voting ruies, which naturally differ state by state.


NEW “2020 General Election Early Vote Statistics” [U.S. Elections Project (SlayTheSmaugs)].


“How to Vote in 2020: Everything You Need to Know” [Bloomberg]. “Casting a ballot in the U.S. isn’t always easy, with a complex web of varying state rules governing how and when you can vote. The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced even more complexity in 2020, as many states have made significant changes to allow for more early voting or voting by mail. More changes could come as lawsuits in several states wind their way through the courts. That’s why Bloomberg News is answering these critical questions so you’ll know what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted in the 2020 election.”


Here are is an enormous spreadsheet on voting equipment, so you can check your own jurisdiction (hat tip, UserFriendly. I should really aggregate these onto a map…).


* * *

2020


Here is my list of Swing States, with votes in the Electoral College and selected ballot initiatives in parentheticals):

  • Arizona (11) (marijuana; taxes(=)
  • Colorado (9) (taxes, lottery, abortion, paid medical leave)
  • Florida (29) (minimum wage)
  • Georgia (16) (declaratory relief)
  • Iowa (6) (Constitional convention)
  • Maine-02 (1) (vax)
  • Michigan (16) (privacy)
  • Minnesota (10)
  • Nebraska-02 (1) (payday lending; gambling)
  • Nevada (6) (marriage)
  • New Hampshire (4)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Ohio (18)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Texas (38)
  • Wisconsin (10) (crime victims)

Inspired by the thread starting with Arizona Slim’s comment here, I went to Ballotpedia and added selected, hopefully hot button, ballot initiatives, because sometimes they affect turnout. If you live in a swing state, please comment if I got the hot buttons wrong!

* * *

Lots and lots of balloting issues, now. Good thing voting is now so complicated you have to have a plan to do it.

AZ: “Federal court says Arizona ‘ballot harvesting’ law discriminates against minority voters” [Arizona Central]. “Arizona violated the Voting Rights Act by barring voters from delivering the early ballots of neighbors, friends and others to polling places, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The policy against so-called “ballot harvesting” disproportionately affects American Indian, Hispanic and African American voters, a majority of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. Republicans who control the Legislature enacted the policy with the intent of suppressing turnout among voters from minority groups, the court decided. And in a victory for Democrats, who challenged the 2016 law, the court also said the state’s policy of discarding the provisional ballots of voters who turn up at the wrong precinct is illegal, too.”

AZ: “Judge is asked to let some disabled Arizonans vote by video conference” [Tucson.com]. “Maricopa County’s recorder wants a court to bless his practice of allowing some people to cast a ballot by video conference. In a lawsuit filed Friday, Recorder Adrian Fontes said state law provides for “special election boards” composed of one Republican and one Democrat to assist voters who are confined because of illness or disability. In general, they will go to where someone lives and help that person fill out the ballot. But Fontes said the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions may keep board members from entering these facilities. So he has developed — and used in the August primary election — a system that uses video technology.”

IA: “Iowa counties can begin opening absentee ballots early” [Des Moines Register]. “County election officials will have more time to begin opening absentee ballot envelopes ahead of Election Day this year under an emergency election directive approved Friday by Iowa legislators. The directive comes as Iowa election officials anticipate they will need to count large numbers of absentee ballots in a short window of time as more people vote absentee due to the coronavirus. The Legislative Council Friday afternoon unanimously approved Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s request to allow counties to begin the process of opening the outer absentee ballot envelopes on the Saturday before Election Day, rather than the traditional day before. The ballots themselves must remain in their secrecy envelopes and still cannot be counted before Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.”

UPDATE ME: “Ranked choice voting in Maine a go for presidential election” [Associated Press]. ” Ranked choice voting will be used for the first time in a presidential race in the U.S. under a ruling Tuesday by the Maine Supreme Court, which concluded that a GOP-led petition drive intended to prevent its use came up short. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded the Maine Republican Party failed to reach the threshold of signatures needed for a ‘People’s Veto’ referendum aimed at rejecting a state law that expands ranked choice voting to the presidential election. ‘This is a powerful moment for ranked choice voting supporters: Voters will, for the first time, use ranked choice voting to elect the highest office in the country,’ said Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, which advocates for the voting reform. The court’s decision, just six weeks before the election, was issued after the state already began printing ballots using a grid-style for ranked elections.”

MN: “Project Veritas uncovers ‘ballot harvesting fraud’ in Minnesota: Devine” [New York Post]. “Under Minnesota law, no individual can be the ‘designated agent’ for more than three absentee voters.” • I’m running this because i have to, but Project Veritas and James O’Keefe have form, which includes deceptively edited videos.

OH: “Is Ohio, long a US bellwether, slipping out of play for Democrats?” [Agence France Presse]. “Four years after carrying bellwether Ohio and winning the US presidency, Donald Trump again needs the support of disenchanted Democrats in the critical state if he is to earn a second White House term…. Biden has run a strong campaign and courted Ohio voters with his economic revitalization plan, Betras said. But it might be too late in the Buckeye State, where many crossover voters continue to support Trump.”

TX: “The Race For an Obscure Texas Office Could Have a Lasting Impact on Climate Change” [Capital & Main]. “When asked how much sway one person on [the] three-person [Texas Railroad Commission] can hold over an industry that in 2019 paid a record $16.3 billion to the state in taxes and royalties, [Democrat Chrysta Castañeda] said, ‘a lot.’ The ‘number one job’ of the misleadingly named commission ‘has been for over 100 years to protect against the waste of natural resources.’ In fact, the commission could put an end to flaring tomorrow. ‘All we have to do is enforce the law,’ Castañeda said. ‘The only way flaring isn’t against the law is if [a driller] gets an exception permit.’ There were nearly 7,000 permits granted last year, all of them on a ‘consent’ agenda. ‘And consent,’ she said, ‘takes three people.’”

WI: “Appellate court halts Wisconsin ballot-counting extension” [Associated Press]. “A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election, a momentary victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the key presidential battleground state. As it stands, ballots will now be due by 8 p.m. on Election Day. … U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled Sept. 21 that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Sunday’s action puts Conley’s order on hold until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action.”

* * *

UPDATE Biden (D)(1): “More than 200 retired generals, admirals endorse Biden, including some who served under Trump” [NBC News]. • Making a coup even less likely. And a shooting war even more likely.

RE-UPPING Bloomberg (D)(1): “How Mike Bloomberg Managed To Shield His Personal Finances While Running For President” [Forbes]. “Of the 15 Democrats and 3 Republicans running for president when the calendar turned to 2020, only one refused to disclose his financial holdings to the public. And no, it was not Donald Trump. Despite refusing to release his tax returns, the president has filed a list of his assets and liabilities every year since 2015. The lone outlier, instead, was Michael Bloomberg, the richest presidential candidate in American history. Bloomberg never filed a financial disclosure report, and he never published his tax returns. Now that he is out of the race, it seems unlikely that he ever will.” • From March…

Trump (R)(1): “The Ordinary Taxpayer’s Guide To The Extraordinary Story Of Trump’s Tax Returns” [Forbes]. Lots of interesting information here, including this nugget: “I have, however, tweeted that ‘Tax returns (even officially filed ones) aren’t dispositive when it comes to wealth.’ I stand by that. One of the flaws of reviewing tax returns on their own is that they are not a reliable measure of a person’s net worth.”

Trump (R)(2): “Trump’s tax revelation could tarnish image that fueled rise” [Associated Press]. “Trump has worked for decades to build an image of himself as a hugely successful business mogul — even choosing that moniker as his Secret Service code name. But The New York Times on Sunday revealed that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and in 2017, his first year in office. He paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the previous 15 years, largely because he reported losing more money than he made, according to the Times, which obtained years’ worth of tax return data that the president had long fought to keep private.” • But see above.

I’m going to wait for word from NC sources knowledgeable in tax before commenting. Meanwhile, here are some suitably jaundiced tweets:

And from Yasha Levine, who knows an oligarchy when he sees one:

Yeah, this time we’ve got him for sure! And Stoller:

Stoller doesn’t say that he’s answering his own question. But:

“This is America, man!”

Trump (R)(3): “Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized after he was armed and threatening to harm himself, Fort Lauderdale police say” [Sun-Sentinel]. “The police, called by his wife, went to the house in the Seven Isles community, an affluent area in which houses have access to the water. They made contact, “developed a rapport” and negotiated his exit from the house, the police said in a statement. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center under the Baker Act, which provides for temporary involuntary commitment. Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Karen Dietrich said the encounter at the house was brief. ‘We went out and it was very short. We went and got him help.’ Dietrich said he didn’t threaten police and he went willingly under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows police to detain a person who is potentially a threat to himself or others.”

* * *

UPDATE “Breakingviews – U.S. election dispute may demand months of hedging” [Reuters]. “Using the 2000 battle as a roadmap of how markets may react downplays the risks. A recount in Florida left the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the Democrat who won the popular ballot but was four electoral-college votes behind, in limbo for five weeks. The S&P 500 Index fell about 8% during that period. A U.S. Supreme Court decision favored Bush, and Gore conceded on Dec. 13. The 1876 election dragged on much longer. Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote against Republican Rutherford Hayes, but electoral votes for Tilden in four states were disputed. Florida and two others submitted two results that declared both men winners. Congress set up a commission in January 1877 to resolve the matter amid worries there could be another civil war. A compromise declared Hayes the winner on March 2, mere days before the inauguration deadline back then, and the following day he was sworn in behind closed doors to avoid the risk of an uprising.” • The Compromise of 1877 has been my preferred trainwreck scenario. Intuitively, it’s the stupidest possible outcome short of a coup (a topic for another day), and therefore the most likely. More logically, I think that Chief Justice Roberts would conclude, rightly, that the Court would not survive a second Bush v. Gore, no matter the outcome, and would make his unwillingness known to Congress and the compaigns. Of course, Biden might win an overwhelming mandate, rendering the trainwreck scenario moot, but that doesn’t seem very likely.

UPDATE “Pelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report” [The Hill]. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is reportedly preparing lawmakers for the possibility of an Electoral College tie forcing the House to decide the presidential election, according to a Politico report published Sunday. Such a scenario would involve each of the 50 state delegations in the House having just one vote in the process, Pelosi reportedly warned House Democrats in a letter Sunday, and would force Democrats to shift their strategy ahead of November.” • This is a pretty stupid outcome too, but I think the Compromise of 1877 is even stupider.



Stats Watch


At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.


“The Week Ahead: Huge Economic Calendar” [Econintersect]. “All of the most important reports are on tap, with an emphasis on employment – the official employment situation report, the ADP private payrolls, and the weekly jobless claim data. We also get confidence data from the University of Michigan as well as the Conference Board. And that is just for starters! The ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing reports are important reads on the current month. Personal income and spending are good signs of consumer health and the accompanying PCE indicator is the Fed’s favorite inflation indicator. We should also not ignore construction spending and factory orders. They final estimate of Q2 GDP is not expected to change much, and it will be treated as ‘old news.’ Employment is the biggest news for most people, and this is the last report before the election. It will get even more attention than usual. The first Presidential debate is scheduled for Tuesday evening. It will command a lot of attention, but probably will not be a market-moving event.” • Hold onto your hats!


* * *

Commodities: “Natural rubber prices rose above 220 yen per kg at the end of September, the highest level since July 2019, bolstered by rising demand for protective rubber gloves due to the coronavirus outbreak and constrained supply. Thailand used to focus production on rubber sheet but shifted their output to latex, which is used to make rubber gloves” [Trading Economics]. “On the other hand, demand for automobiles is expected to remain subdued to the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Prices have been further supported by optimism surrounding China’s economic recovery and expectations that a labor shortage in Thailand due to the pandemic could hit supply. The price of rubber reached an all-time low of $129 yen per kg back in April when several countries across the globe were under strict lockdown measures.”


Retail: “A new round of stockpiling of consumer goods is underway, this time at distribution centers. Supermarkets and food companies are already loading up groceries across the U.S. and storing them early to prepare for the fall and winter months… as they brace for another possible widespread outbreak of virus cases and new restrictions” [Wall Street Journal]. “They hope to avoid a repeat of last spring’s shortages and consumer hoarding of essential household items as the holidays drive seasonal spikes in demand for some foods. The Associated Food Stores cooperative chain says it recently started building ‘pandemic pallets’ of products so it always has some inventory in warehouses. Such aggressive risk-management has often led grocers to override conventional forecasting models and ordering algorithms.”


Constructiion: “Brightline shaves almost a year from Florida rail project using precast tunnel system” [Construction Dive]. “The $2.7 billion, 170-mile Brightline high-speed rail extension from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Orlando International Airport (OIA) will see the construction of a train tunnel in two weeks instead of almost one year thanks to an innovative box-jack system suggested by general contractor Granite Construction. This is the first time the box-jack system will be used for a train project outside of the Northeast United States. The developer of the box-jacking system, Italian company Petrucco, is using special hydraulic jacks to push two precast concrete boxes — one 146 feet long and the other 126 feet long and both with 42-foot-long sidewalls — under a roadway east of the airport while an excavator digs out a path from inside the box and from the opposite side.” • Maybe we can have the Italians build a new Amtrak tunnel under the Hudson for us. Since we can’t.


Shipping: “Rebound in Volumes Contributes to Port Congestion Concerns” [Maritime Executive]. “As ocean carriers and the shippers work to rebound from the economic effects of the pandemic, ports have been reporting steady, sometimes dramatic, increases in volumes in recent months. One of the downsides of the increases in traffic has also been reports of increased port congestion. Some of the congestion concerns have been due to operational issues in individual ports while others are attributed to volume increases… The downside of the rebound, according to PMSA has been a significant increase in the amount of time containers are in the terminal.”


Mr. Market: “It’s Back to Economic Reality After Post-Lockdown Surge” [Bloomberg]. “The economic rebound from the virus lockdowns proved much stronger than anticipated, with Citigroup Inc.’s surprise index soaring to record levels in the past few months. But as the third quarter ends, the pace is flagging, and better-than-expected data are becoming rarer. ‘We probably just saw the best economic data in terms of surprising on the upside that we’ll probably ever see in our lifetimes,’ Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management, said last week. ‘Now things are coming back down to Earth.’” • Too bad Congress blew town before passing another stimulus…..


Mr. Market: “The volatility wake-up call for investors” [Financial Times]. “The volatility of the past two weeks in financial markets should serve as a timely wake-up call to return-hungry investors who had driven stock valuations to record levels, comforted by ample and predictable central bank liquidity injections. Not only are the liquidity injections proving less potent in reliably overcoming a weakening economic recovery and less responsive fiscal policy support, but there are no easy ways to protect portfolios against major sell-offs. That is due to the deeply distorted nature of today’s markets. Government bonds and gold, the principal tools used for portfolio risk mitigation, have offered little protection recently to investors looking for diversification. The rollercoaster ride in stocks is combining with multiplying signals of future large fluctuations in derivatives markets to raise doubt about the future. It is no longer clear that this is a short-term ‘healthy correction’ that cleanses markets from excessive risk positioning and strengthens the foundation for further gains. More people are concerned that we may have started a more sinister adjustment process that pulls asset prices down closer to what the underlying economic and corporate fundamentals would support.” • Sinister…


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 28 at 12:07pm. Stuck in neutral!


Rapture Index: Closes down one on Earthquakes. “The lack of major quakes has downgraded this category.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.)


The Biosphere


A thread with astonishing photographs of British rainforests (!). Why aren’t there more of them?



Water


“The innovative Ice Stupas of Ladakh, solving water crisis in the Himalayas” [Times of India]. “Climate change is real and a number of places around the world are bearing the brunt of it; one among those is Ladakh. The glaciers in this Himalayan region shrunk and made rainfall and temperatures unpredictable. Because of this, farmers in the high altitude regions have to face difficulties beyond their imaginations. In fact, several picturesque villages in Ladakh turned into ghost towns due to the water crisis. Keeping in view the issues in farming, the famous Indian engineer and innovator Sonam Wangchuk invented the Ice Stupas (an artificial glacier created by piping mountain streams). In 2015, Wangchuk managed to raise $125,000 on crowdfunding and created a 64 ft ice stupa. The water freezes into a cone, which resembles a Buddhist shrine. The intelligent stupa is designed in a way that it remains frozen until the sun warms the fields during the springs, making irrigation and cultivation manageable for farmers in the village…. Today, the final results of the Gangles Ice-Valley Ice-Stupa Competition 2019-2020 were announced at Gangles, where 5 ice stupas were made that stored 10 million litres of water.”


Health Care


“Trump vs Biden on Health Care” [Larry Levitt, JAMA]. An excerpt:


Trump: He has supported failed Congressional proposals to repeal and replace the ACA with weakened protections for preexisting conditions, reduced premium assistance, elimination of the Medicaid expansion, and a cap on all federal funding for Medicaid. He supports a lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA in its entirety, and expanded the availability of short-term insurance plans that have lower premiums but can exclude coverage of preexisting conditions and ACA-required benefits. In addition, he ended cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers, suggesting they would cause the ACA to be “dead” and “gone.” Insurers, however, largely offset the terminated federal payments by increasing premiums, which in turn increased federal premium subsidies. He also signed legislation to repeal the individual mandate penalty.

Biden: He proposes to build on the ACA by increasing premium assistance and creating a Medicare-like public option plan, which would be available to anyone and automatically cover people with low incomes in states that have not expanded Medicaid. He would also lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60 years, and supports increased federal funding to states for Medicaid during the economic crisis.


I feel like I’m trapped in an insane asylum. Obviously, Trump’s policies are, well, let’s not say crazed, but suboptimal. (To be fair, Trump axed ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which all the experts said was needed, and turned out not to be. Because I no longer had to pay a penalty for purchasing a high-deductible plan that put health care out of reach for me in any case, Trump saved me $1200 on my taxes over two years.) So, on the one hand we have Trump’s noisy gibbering, and on the other we have a smooth-talking professorial type in a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches proposing a “Medicare-like public option plan,” when (1) “-like’ is doing a lot of work there, (2) the public option is always a way of heading off #MedicareForAll and when its job is done it is discarded, (3) the public option does not “bend the cost curve” because it is not single payer, and adds to complexity, instead of reducing it, and (4) will hence always be vulnerable to cuts. (To be fair, protecting half-measures like ObamaCare from cuts does bring in a lot of money to Democrats.) Oh, and why on earth reduce Medicare eligibility to 60, and then set up a parallel, Medicare-like plan? Why not reduce Medicare eligibility to 55 for starters — as even Hillary Clinton wanted to do, before Biden trolled us all by making her proposal worse — and then keep on reducing it, 5 years at a time, until we reach the age of 0? And all these half-measures in the midst of a pandemic! Tell me who the psycho really is: The gibbering idiot, or leather elbow patches-dude?


People love their ObamaCare (1). A thread:



People love their ObamaCare (2):




Black Injustice Tipping Point


“‘This Does Feel Like A Different Moment”: As Public Support For Black Lives Matter Drops Off, Will Corporate America Stay The Course?” [Vanity Fair]. “Now, months after Floyd’s death, the number of people expressing opposition to BLM has risen to heights not seen in two years. Civiqs shows that BLM is now underwater with white people, with people over 65, and with men. In this renewed polarized environment, even modest expressions of support come with risks…. In theory, the increasing disharmony around Black Lives Matter would be enough to throttle corporate enthusiasm for social justice issues…. But below the surface, many businesses are still being pushed toward accountability. Rick Wade, the senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told me that ‘this does feel like a different moment.” In addition to “the moral imperative…this is about the business case for racial equity,’ he said. Corporations now understand ‘that they have to be front and center on the issues of diversity and racial equality, because this is also about the market.’ Perhaps you might expect to hear sunny words from the Chamber of Commerce, but they are similar to comments from the social justice sector. Arisha Hatch, the chief of campaigns for Color of Change, told me that she has seen a ‘sea change’ in how companies are approaching issues of racial justice and a new sense of obligation to move beyond rhetoric.” • The funder and the the funded agree!


Groves of Academe


“The New Order” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “Fueled by growing skepticism of higher education, board members at public colleges across the nation increasingly comport themselves more as watchdogs than as collective guardians of sacred trusts. Some appear willing to trade the sober work of high-level policy making for the adrenaline rush of a good culture war…. A Chronicle investigation, based on 75 interviews, reviews of more than 2,000 pages of public records, and an unprecedented analysis of appointments to public-university governing boards, reveals a system that is vulnerable to, if not explicitly designed for, an ideologically driven form of college governance rooted in political patronage and partisan fealty. Hundreds of sitting public-university board members govern 50 flagship universities across the nation. Of 411 board members appointed through a multistep political procedure, 285, or almost 70 percent, assumed their roles through an appointment and confirmation process controlled by a single political party. Just 93, or 22 percent, of politically appointed trustees navigated a confirmation process that included a meaningful bipartisan check. (The remainder have not yet been confirmed or, in two cases, a confirmation date could not be identified).”


Imperial Collapse Watch


No, corn dogs don’t count:



Class Warfare


“How Work Became an Inescapable Hellhole” [Wired]. “What these technologies do best is remind us of what we’re not doing: who’s hanging out without us, who’s working more than us, what news we’re not reading. They refuse to allow our consciousness off the hook, in order to do the essential, protective, regenerative work of sublimating and repressing. Instead, they provide the opposite: a nonstop barrage of notifications and reminders and interactions. They bring life to the forefront, constantly, so that we can’t ignore it. They’re not a respite from work—or, as promised, a way to optimize your work. They’re just more work. And six months into a society-throttling pandemic, they’re more inescapable than ever.” • And then there was slack. On the Mac, you can tell immediately that Notifications are a hell-mouth because the interface works like it was designed for iOS.


News of the Wired


An enormous thread on the best pen:



These are interesting lists, but Henry’s practice itself is a good one:



* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (cjmxc):



cjmxc writes: “‘Marsh Pond’ Proud Lake Recreation Area, Southeastern Michigan. Great discussion/topic. Thanks!” Thank you!



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