2:00PM Water Cooler 7/28/2022 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Mongolian Short-toed Lark, Sühbaatar, Mongolia.

* * *

Politics

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

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

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“Former DOJ official labels Trump allies ‘malevolent nincompoops’ over fake elector scheme” [The Hill]. “Former Department of Justice (DOJ) official and federal prosecutor David Laufman on Wednesday called Trump allies who plotted to overturn the 2020 presidential election ‘malevolent nincompoops’ and said the DOJ ‘is going hard’ in its investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots…. ‘From yesterday’s reporting, we now know that the Department of Justice is going hard. They’re going directly at Donald Trump. They’re asking witnesses specific questions about statements that came from Donald Trump’s mouth, what direction he gave to others,” Laufman said.” • We’ll see!

Biden Administration

So, we can dial back the flight to Taiwan?

Oy:


2022

* * *

“House Rating Changes: More Movement Toward Republicans” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. Key points: “We are making 10 House rating changes, 9 of which benefit Republicans. Our overall best guess at the net change in the House — a GOP gain somewhere in the 20s — remains unchanged. We don’t see a huge impact, so far, from the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion opinion.”

PA: “Dr. Oz’s Turkish Nationalist Pals Living in His Secret N.J. Condo” [Daily Beast]. “Bergen County records show that since 2006 Oz and his wife have owned the condominium in the borough of Fairview, a seven-minute drive from their mansion overlooking the Hudson River, where the county sent the unit’s property tax bill as recently as this year. Yet this apartment is oddly absent from the otherwise exhaustive disclosure Oz made in April as a candidate for the U.S. senator from Pennsylvania… What was possible to ascertain is who those tenants are: a pair of apparent longtime friends deeply involved in Turkish nationalist activism and connected to groups that have fought to prevent the United States from recognizing the extermination of Armenians on Turkish territory during World War I—which Oz himself has refused to describe as a genocide, despite a consensus among respected historians…. It was impossible to ascertain whether Oz received rent payments from the condo, as neither he nor his tenants replied to repeated requests for comment.” • Presumably Oz isn’t letting them live there for free. Or?

PA: “John Fetterman Enlists New Jersey Legend Steven Van Zandt To Troll Dr. Oz” [Yahoo News]. “Fetterman on Tuesday posted a video of the New Jersey legend, musician-actor Steven Van Zandt, telling Oz to ― and we’re paraphrasing here ― get back to where he belongs…. ‘Nobody wants to see you get embarrassed.’”

PA: “Poll: Fetterman, Shapiro Hold Commanding Leads” [Politics PA]. “Fetterman leads Republican challenger Mehmet Oz by nine points (48.9% to 39.6%). It is the largest poll margin that the lieutenant governor has held over the celebrity doctor and boosts his average lead to 7.1 percent.” • So if Fetterman’s winning strategy is to stay off the traill and make jokes about Oz’s geographical disabilities, more power to him; elections might be a lot more pleasant if others took the same path. (Note that Fetterman was able to do this because he criss-crossed the state and visited every county; he’s a known quantity to many, many people. (It also occurs to me, just now, that characterizing Oz as “from New Jersey” is the time-honored tactic of introducing your opponent yourself, when they haven’t already done it. Canny!)

2024

“Hawley book ‘Manhood’ set for release next year” [The Hill]. “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is reportedly penning a book about masculinity. ‘Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs’ is poised to hit shelves in May, according to an Amazon sales page. … Available for pre-order ahead of its May 16 release by Regnery Publishing, ‘Manhood’ calls on ‘American men to stand up and embrace their God-given responsibility as husbands, ‘No republic has ever survived without men of character to defend what is just and true,’ the Amazon page states. ‘Starting with the wisdom of the ancients, from the Greek and Roman philosophers to Jesus of Nazareth, and drawing on the lessons of American history, Hawley identifies the defining strengths of men, including responsibility, bravery, fidelity, and leadership.’” • Hmm. “Responsibility, bravery, fidelity, and leadership” were all personal characteristics of Robert E. Lee, slaveowner and the dude who kept sending his troops uphill against Yankee guns at Gettysburg. Anyhow, that’s what this is all about:

Oh, great. Schoolyard taunting from Larry Tribe. That’ll change minds. And win votes.

“They Can’t Let Him Back In” [Compact]. “The people who really run the United States of America have made it clear that they can’t, and won’t, if they can help it, allow Donald Trump to be president again…. Anti-Trump hysteria is in the final analysis not about Trump. The regime can’t allow Trump to be president not because of who he is (although that grates), but because of who his followers are. That class—Angelo Codevilla’s “country class”—must not be allowed representation by candidates who might implement their preferences, which also, and above all, must not be allowed. The rubes have no legitimate standing to affect the outcome of any political process, because of who they are, but mostly because of what they want. Complaints about the nature of Trump are just proxies for objections to the nature of his base. It doesn’t help stabilize our already twitchy situation that those who bleat the loudest about democracy are also audibly and visibly determined to deny a real choice to half the country.” • Interesting article from the right. This on the “country class” is interesting; heaven forfend we should do class analysis based on economics!

Republican Funhouse

Democrats en Déshabillé

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.

* * *

“Wokeness isn’t why Democrats are unpopular” [Carl Beijer]. “Whenever we get a new clip of some Democratic official, journalist, social media poster, cartoon character, guy from another country, Republican, etcetera saying something woke, an avalanche of pundits make the same point: this is why Democrats can’t win. So when Kamala Harris gave us her pronouns and described what she’s wearing at a meeting on disabilities, it was only a matter of time until guys like Kinzinger above made the same point. And whenever I see this, I always think the same thing. Does anyone really believe that if Democrats were providing Medicare for All, universal childcare, UBI, free college, and so on — that voters would throw all that out the window because Kamala Harris talked about her blue suit? If you could have real economic security, would you actually trade that away because a politician said ‘birth giver’ instead of ‘mother’? Socialists have long insisted that workers are not going to accept egalitarian rhetoric and gestures as a substitute for real economic gains, and that Democrats are going to lose working class voters if they proceed otherwise. The right loves this point; they’ve been so aggressive about co-opting it in recent years that I doubt many of them even remember where they first heard it. But there’s a second half of this critique that you almost never hear: if you give voters real material security, people who get annoyed about wokeness will still support you.” • NC readers will be not unfamiliar with this line of thought.

“January 6 Was Scary. The Democrats’ Inability to Respond Has Been Scarier.” [Jacobin]. “We might sum it up this way: looking at the media sensationalism, misinformation, and political hyperbole, the reality of January 6 fell far short of what we’ve been told over and over again happened that day. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been much worse than it was. And it doesn’t mean that it still couldn’t be — say, in two years’ time, when the country faces another presidential election, and the antidemocratic forces behind Trump have one dry run under their belt and years of prep time to do it properly…. Commentators can cry cynicism at those who look at the hearings with a jaundiced eye, but there’s no one more cynical than those supposedly leading the charge on saving American democracy. At the same time Democrats have turned the whole matter into a hours-long campaign ad for themselves, they’ve deliberately funded and promoted the very kind of right-wing extremists they say threaten American democracy. One of them, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, would be in a prime spot to carry out election-denying shenanigans in a crucial state come 2024 if he wins. Does this sound like a party that believes its own messaging?” • Lol no, but since when has that ever been an option with Democrats? Maybe in Carter’s day. And an excellent point on Mastriano,

Mothership Strategies still hard at it:

I used to get these ads all the time, but I guess they’ve taken me off their list because I never gave them any money. But Democrats wouldn’t be running direct email campaigns like this unless they worked. What does that say?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Life After Bernie” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “The question for the broad constellation that makes up the left in the United States—self-identified progressives, socialists, left-liberals, and their attendant organizations—is what kind of presidential campaign can come after Sanders and what value it will have. Sanders ran for president for two reasons, with one reason taking precedence for 2016 and the other for 2020. The first, a primary theme of his challenge to Hillary Clinton, was to raise issues that the Democratic establishment was neglecting and offer some kind opposition to a centrist pro-Wall Street campaign that had been anointed by every power broker imaginable. When Sanders announced his first presidential bid in 2015, he was mostly ignored by the press, and the momentum he gathered was a shock to journalists, pundits, and even fellow leftists. Since Sanders was such an underdog, there was never much of a plan for victory. For long stretches of the campaign, Sanders probably expected to be a popular protest candidate, not someone who could defeat Clinton in large states like Michigan. In 2020, Sanders ran to win. He was one of the front-runners in a race where expectations were much higher. For a time, after his victory in Nevada, it appeared he could run away with the race and succeed on Super Tuesday. Instead, Joe Biden pulled far ahead, buoyed by older Black and white moderates, the sort of voters who show up in greater numbers than Sanders’ cohort. It became apparent, too, that Sanders probably lacked the killer instinct to secure the nomination. In 2008, Barack Obama aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton’s record, particularly her vote for the Iraq War. It was one of the more nasty and bitter Democratic primaries in modern times, eclipsing even 2016, in which Clinton backers maintained Sanders, in highlighting economic issues and noting Clinton’s propensity for taking huge checks to deliver speeches, crossed some kind of line. In 2020, Sanders simply could not lash Biden in the way a young Obama would have targeted Clinton. Sanders felt an affinity for Biden and it showed.” • There was also Sanders’ move away from the “economic” message (universal concrete material benefits, of which #MedicareForAll was but one example).

“Lost in the Archives” [Systematic Hatreds]. “Democracy requires accountability; accountability requires record-keeping; record-keeping requires nonpartisan, competent, and upstanding administration…. The keystone of the Archives is the Archivist of the United States. One of the very few “OTUSes” in the system (along with POTUS and Chief Justice OTUS), the Archivist is a presidential appointee with an indefinite term.1 Like the FBI director, AOTUS is supposed to be above politics and chosen for their qualifications. That the AOTUS has occasionally been a political hack does not change those qualifications. At times, AOTUS choices have been inspiring but ultimately flawed; at other times, they’ve betrayed a potential White House confusion about the distinction between running a library system and running an archives. An archives is about the dynamic preservation of records that should be open eventually, while a library system is about the management of a shifting collection to serve various publics. One has a public-facing mission; the archives have a much less pronounced emphasis. The ideal Archivist would be resolutely committed to nonpartisanship and the collection of records. The past few years has shown that this requires a stepped-up presence and a willingness to pull the fire alarm. Executing that mission requires cultivating the assistance of allies in the public, the media, and especially in Congress. That’s a public-facing job that’s different from thinking about how to more efficiently run the vast Federal Records Centers, which account for the less-visible (and truly obscure) bulk of NARA’s work, but such is the difference between politics and administration: when you’re an agency head, it doesn’t matter if you follow the checklist for ordinary times during periods of extraordinary challenges. Separately, an ideal Archivist would campaign for massively stepped-up budgets.” • Sounds like “The Records Department of the Ministry of Truth” would have many advantages and be cheaper to run…

#COVID19

• Maskstravaganza: When you’ve lost (of all people) Taylor Lorenz:

• Maskstravaganza:

I confess I haven’t hammered on elastomeric masks as much as I should have; hammering on (K)N95 v. surgical was an enormous enough battle. Then again, I’m not in Dr. Fauci’s position! (Elastomeric masks are not disposable; hence, like athletic shoes, as opposed to (say) booties, they could be really be marketed as fashion items, which I have argued consistently is important.)

* * *

• ”Outdoor Transmission w/ Dr. Theresa Chapple (06/09/22)” (podcast) [Death Panel]. “We speak with epidemiologist Dr. Theresa Chapple about how seemingly everyone became convinced that you can’t catch covid outdoors, common misconceptions about the pandemic driven by an overwhelming focus on individual risk assessment, and lessons from her work in the field during the first two years of covid.” • Interesting podcast, Choppie is good, and Death Panel is always great. That said, Chappie mentions, IIRC, that she’s aware of six cases of outdoor transmission, but gives information on the six. I would have preferred for them to be listed.

* * *

• ”‘Fear Is Spreading Faster than SARS’ – And So It Should!” [Risk = Hazard + Outrage]. From 2003, still germane: “Regardless of the hazard, fear is a tool, not just a problem. The purpose of fear is to motivate precautions – that is, self-protective behaviors that diminish the risk of bad outcomes. To be useful, then, the fear has to outrun the thing that is feared; fear that lags behind its object is useless. Yet somehow the public is being told that it is wrong, irrational, panicky, or hysterical to be fearful of SARS just yet…. Imagine a huge hurricane working its way toward town. It is three days away, and headed right for us. We know it may well change course or blow itself out. Or it may hit us full-force in about three days. Forethoughtful people go buy extra food and duct tape for their windows now – even though the weather today is clear and balmy. “Fear Is Spreading Faster than Hurricane”? Well, duh!… The three Golden Rules for addressing legitimate fears: 1) Don’t be contemptuous of our fear. Treat it as natural, inevitable, and appropriate…. 2) Don’t understate the risk in a misguided effort to allay our fear – which only leaves us alone with it and undercuts your credibility. … 3) Teach us what to do with our fear. Offer us useful things to do as substitutes for the not-so-useful things we may be doing. In the case of SARS, redirect our fear from ‘Will it kill me tomorrow?’ to ‘Could it devastate my community within months?’ – and then work with us on a prevention and preparedness strategy.” • Good thoughts, none of which we implemented.

• A thread on the various poxes:


* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Lambert here: This tapewatcher is slightly befuddled by the case data. Set aside the worrying assumption that the curves for real cases are the same shape as the curves for reported cases, even though there’s nothing to prove this. We have a period of fiddling and diddling at A), after which Omnicron takes over and cases go through the roof. We are in the midst of another period of fiddling and diddling at B), in the era of BA.5/BA.4. But cases are not going through the roof, at least in terms of case reporting. Data artifact? “Vaccine wall”? Why this slow, sawtooth pattern when BA.5 is known to be very infectious? For example, even though wastewater data is patchy, we’d expect it to be coupled to case count. It isn’t, at least in San Fransciso (check the chart):

Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~129,000. Today, it’s ~131,400 and 131,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 788,400 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

A slow upswing in the rest of the south, beneath the Florida and Texas gyrations.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

North Carolina and Georgia, take a bow!

The West:

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 19:

4.8%. Up! (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.

Lambert here: I’m depressed. Walgreens has been so great, and now this data isn’t updating. What gives?

Transmission

NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you. For July 21, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 26:

Worse in California and Upstate New York (what’s up with that). Better in Texas. Status quo elsewere.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 26:

Lots of yellow. Haven’t seen so little green (good) in quite some time.

Variants

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 14:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 9 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 24:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest (red) and next-highest (orange) levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,053,969 1,052,935. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The American economy shrank an annualized 0.9% on quarter in Q2 2022, following a 1.6% drop in Q1 and technically entering a recession, the advance estimate showed. Most investors were expecting a 0.5% growth although some were betting on a negative reading. Inventories and business investment were the main drags.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index rebounded to 7 in July of 2022 from -1 in the prior month. Indexes for production, shipments, new orders, and order backlog grew from June’s readings, while inventory and supplier delivery time indexes declined slightly.”

Employment Situation: “United States Jobless Claims 4-week Average” [Trading Economics]. “Jobless Claims 4-week Average in the United States increased to 249.25 Thousand in July 23 from 243 Thousand in the previous week.”

Consumer Spending: “United States Real Consumer Spending QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “Final personal consumption expenditure in the United States grew by 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2022, easing from a 1.8 percent increase in the previous three-month period.”

* * *

The Economy:

Worth reading in full.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 28 at 1:34 PM EDT.

Healthcare

“Have breast implants? Israeli study warns they cause autoimmune, mental problems” [Jerusalem Post]. “The decision in the 1960s by the medical community to allow silicone breast implants for cosmetic surgery and reconstruction was a ‘historical medical error,’ according to researchers at Ariel University, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. ‘The medical society mistakenly considered silicone to be an inert material in relation to the human body and to the immune system,’ the team headed by TAU immunologist Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld and Ariel University molecular biologist Dr. Gilad Halpert wrote in the latest issue of IMAJ, the English-language journal of the Israel Medical Association, under the title ‘Silicone breast illness [SBI] as a classical example of autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvant.’ 

Feral Hog Watch

“Pigs Can Breathe Through Their B*ttholes and So Could You, Scientists Say” [Vice]. “A team of scholars in Japan has found that pigs can absorb oxygen through the anus, in studies exploring treatment for people with respiratory conditions. By pumping oxygen and oxygenated liquid through animals’ buttholes into their intestines, the researchers found that they could survive without breathing through their lungs. ‘It’s so impressive because we never thought of breathing from the gut, but it’s possible,’ Takanori Takebe, an author of the study and a doctor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, told VICE World News. Last year, his team and collaborators from Nagoya University Graduate School and Kyodo University’s Department of Respiratory Surgery published their study focusing on mice. Now they’re looking to submit their research on pigs, which are closer to humans in physiology and genetic makeup, to a U.S. medical journal in August.” • Speech next, I suppose.

The Gallery

Subject matter not as bourgeois as it usually is for the impressionists, much as I love them. Unfair?

This is fun:

I’m not sure this digital artwork goes beyond technique, however.

The Screening Room

“The Movie Business Has a Supply-Chain Problem” [Bloomberg]. “Ticket sales are still down almost 40% from before the pandemic, and it’s about to get worse. At least in the short term. The reason? Not enough movies in theaters. Or, at the very least, not enough movies people want to see in theaters. The share of movies released on more than 2,000 screens is down more than 30% from both 2018 and 2019. Hollywood, like the rest of the economy, is suffering from a supply-chain problem. Production halted for months due to the pandemic, and was both slower and more costly when it resumed. Even when production finished, the visual-effects industry was often unable to handle all the product. There has been a full meltdown in the sector, according to executives at several studios. Visual-effects houses expected business to slow down during the pandemic. While that happened for a beat, the amount of work they had to do increased as soon as studios figured out the proper protocols. VFX houses weren’t equipped to handle it all. Many had transitioned to remote work, which made them less efficient. They lost talented staffers to the great resignation and poaching from companies like Meta Platforms Inc. (aka Facebook). Some of the movies mentioned above aren’t done because the visual effects aren’t ready.” • Oh, what a shame. Maybe — hear me out — the movies could go back to scripts, character, and plot? Instead of mind-numbingly stupid special effects?

Class Warfare

“CEOs Discuss How Unions Have Affected Their Companies” [The Onion]. Walter Craig Jelinek (Costco): “Unions have fostered open dialogue with management, fair and equitable pay across the company, and high levels of employee morale, so, in all, a total nightmare.”

“UAW delegates increase leader salaries while rejecting ‘equal pay for equal work’ amendment” {Detroit News]. “United Auto Workers delegates on Tuesday rejected an opportunity to codify in their constitution ‘equal pay for equal work’ ahead of next year’s negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers, and increased the salaries of International Executive Board officers. The ‘two-tier’ system implemented during 2007 negotiations prior to the auto industry’s taxpayer bailout have long been a complaint of workers…. Later, following some procedural confusion and heated debate, delegates approved a 3% salary increase for IEB members.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of NGOs, a thread:

“Everyone smiles at crabs”:

A power relation, as I’ve been arguing.

“How Hybrid Working From Home Works Out” [NBER]. “This paper evaluates a randomized control trial on 1612 engineers, marketing and finance employees of a large technology firm that allowed odd birthday employees to WFH on Wednesday and Friday and kept even birthday employees full time in the office. There are four key results. First, WFH reduced attrition rates by 35% and improved self-reported work satisfaction scores, highlighting how employees place a considerable value on this amenity. Second, WFH reduced hours worked on home days but increased it on other work days and the weekend, highlighting how home- working alters the structure of the working week. Third, WFH employees increased individual messaging and group video call communication, even when in the office, reflecting the impact of remote work on working patterns. Finally, while there was no significant impact of WFH on performance ratings or promotions, lines of code written increased by 8%, and employees’ self- assessed productivity was up 1.8%, suggesting a small positive impact. Given these benefits for retention, job satisfaction, and productivity, after the experiment ended the firm extended hybrid WFH to the entire company.” • Lines of code is a terrible metric. IIRC, nobody knows how to measure programmer productivity.

News of the Wired

“Yankee Candle rival Confederate Candle smells of defeat” [Duffel Blog]. • Ouch!

“Am I an Idiot for Wanting a Dumber Phone?” [Wired]. • No.

* * *

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 DCblogger:

DCblogger writes: “Mushroom in a lavender container.” This photo documents two things: (1) it’s possible to grow plants in a very small space, like a porch; you don’t need land. (2) Life is, well, lively. Who would have expected that mushroom? “Reality is more cunning than any theory,” as The Bearded One said, if I am not misquoting him.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful 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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email