2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week Two at Naked Capitalism. From Dupage, IL. I am having fun with the warblers, so I thought I would continue. But readers, if you have other suggestions, please leave them in comments.

* * *

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

Biden Adminstration

Looks like I was way too gentle on Biden’s “Test to Treat” debacle (hat tip, alert reader Allan):

There’s a whole genre of “getting Covid treated” horror stories, just as there’s a whole genre of medical billing horror stories. Why is that, one wonders.

“Kinzinger introduces AUMF to defend Ukraine if Russia uses chemical, biological, nuclear weapons” [The Hill]. • I don’t know why The Hill didn’t put the full name of the act in the headline: “The Ukonazi False Flag Act of 2022.”

“Biden heads to Alabama facility where Lockheed is making key Javelin weapon for Ukraine” [CNBC]. “In the 50 or so buildings that make up Lockheed Martin’s Pike County Operations in Troy, Alabama, the crown jewels of U.S. missile defense systems are built and bred for battle.” Block that metaphor! More: “President Joe Biden is slated to tour the facility responsible for assembling the Javelin, a portable anti-armor weapon, on Tuesday afternoon. … While in Troy, Biden will deliver remarks on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine thus far and will reiterate his request to Congress for more funding. Biden is seeking $33 billion in additional assistance.”

“House Lawmakers Demand More Labor Board Funds As Workplace Organizing Spreads” [HuffPo]. “More than 140 members of Congress are calling on House leaders to end eight years of flat funding for the National Labor Relations Board, saying the agency isn’t equipped to handle a surge in workplace organizing at companies like Starbucks and Amazon. In a letter to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, the 149 lawmakers warned that a “dramatic increase in labor activity” could swamp the underfunded board, which has lost roughly 30% of its staff since 2010 due to attrition and a lack of money. All but four of the members who signed are Democrats. They called for a labor board budget of $368 million next fiscal year, a vast increase from the current level of $274 million, which hasn’t budged since 2014. The stagnant funding in recent years means the agency’s budget has gone down in real dollars. A similar letter with the same $368 million proposal has been circulating in the Senate, led by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).” A little late. More: “The NLRB oversees private-sector union elections and referees disputes between labor groups and employers. The agency’s general counsel says election petitions have increased 57% so far in fiscal year 2022 compared to the previous year. It has also seen a 17% jump in “unfair labor practice” charges, or allegations of lawbreaking. A sizable chunk of the swell in election petitions comes straight from Starbucks, where workers are waging one of the most notable organizing campaigns in decades. So far, 30 of the coffee chain’s stores have voted to unionize, and more than 200 overall have filed petitions to hold elections.” And: “A push for more board funding could set up a fight with GOP members in both chambers, who seem to have drawn a red line on giving the agency any more money. The labor board has a statutory mission to promote collective bargaining, and many Republican members seem happy to let it wither.” • As were Democrats, until workers took action.

* * *

“Biden says ‘radical’ draft abortion opinion throws ‘whole range of rights’ into question” [Los Angeles Times]. “In the short term, Biden and Democrats intend to seize on the apparent overturning of Roe to galvanize voters ahead of the November midterm elections. They are desperate to motivate a base that’s been disappointed by the president’s inability to get much of his agenda through a narrowly divided Congress, and to appeal to swing voters given that a solid majority of Americans support maintaining abortion rights…. But Biden’s ability to rally his party on the issue ahead of the midterms is no sure thing. His restrained response to the possible overturning of Roe did not match the emotion of many women and reproductive rights activists. And his history on the issue of abortion is complicated. Though a devout Catholic, Biden has long supported abortion rights. But his reticence to weigh in over the last year as several states have restricted abortion rights — to say nothing of his reluctance to use the word “abortion” — has frustrated activists. Democrats, who have been far more eager than Republicans to weigh in on the draft opinion so far, are certain to emphasize the importance of retaining their Senate majority to have the ability to confirm future Biden Supreme Court nominees should a second vacancy arise before the end of his term. They’ll also underscore the importance of governorships, given that protecting abortion would fall to the states.” • Frustrated activists. Since the NGOs have — based on outcomes — been completely ineffective on this issue for many years, with the sole exception of funding themselves off it, who cares what they think?

“Susan Collins isn’t saying much in person about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe. But her statement directly calls out Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.” [Politico]. “The Maine Republican voted for Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in 2017 and 2018, confirmations that cemented the conservative majority on the high court. In a Tuesday statement following POLITICO’s report on the draft opinion, she recalled interviews with the two now-justices in which she said she pressed them on their view of Roe. ‘If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office,’ Collins said. ‘Obviously, we won’t know each Justice’s decision and reasoning until the Supreme Court officially announces its opinion in this case.’”

“Manchin backs filibuster amid calls to codify abortion rights” [The Hill]. • Always check with President Manchin! Do we never learn?

And meanwhile:

Because naturally:

Deploy the blame cannons!

Simple question: Why was Roe never codified as legislation? The Democrats had over 40 years to get it done.

“This Was Always The Plan” [Lyz Lenz, Men Yell at Me]. “My whole life, I knew the plan. Vote for politicians who’d nominate justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion was murder. I heard this preached in churches; at Sunday dinners over brisket. I heard the plan at rallies for homeschoolers in D.C., where we’d lobby our senators for more rights for families — or so I was told. I heard about the plan when, as a teen, I read fundraising fliers for Christian schools that would turn out a whole new generation of lawyers, lawyers with a Godly worldview, who’d overturn Roe v. Wade. I heard about it again in 2016, when a nice lady from church smiled at me at school drop-off the day after Trump was elected. ‘I didn’t want to vote for him,’ she whispered to me. I was hung over, and sick. ‘But he will put good judges in place to overturn Roe v. Wade.’ Later, when I wrote a book about Christianity and the Midwest, and then another about mythology and motherhood, people at book events, journalists in interviews and editors looking for a hot take would all ask me why people would vote for a candidate like Trump. ‘To overturn Roe,’ I’d say. And they’d scoff. No, no. That can’t be it. But it is. It’s always been the plan. And it’s never been a secret. The plan has been shouted at rallies. Held up on signs. It’s been plotted and spoken of and written about over and over.” • Republicans were serious about their politics on abortion. Democrats were not.

2022

* * *

“7 ways Tuesday’s primaries could shake the 2022 election” [Politico]. “Rep. Shontel Brown’s victory over Nina Turner in a 2021 special election for Congress was widely seen as a victory for the Biden wing of the Democratic Party over the progressive left. But nine months later, the rematch in Ohio’s 11th District is taking place in a different political world. On Brown’s side of the ledger: She’s been an incumbent for about six months since winning the special election last November. She’s outraised Turner by about $150,000 since the first of the year, and she has the support of numerous outside groups, including a cryptocurrency-linked super PAC roiling Democratic politics lately. Turner, on the other hand, hasn’t seen the kind of outside support that rallied to aid the former Sanders campaign co-chair had last summer, when she lost to Brown by 6 percentage points. But Brown’s enthusiastic embrace of Biden might not be the overwhelming asset it was in early August, when the last primary was held — and before Biden’s tumble in the polls later that month…. [A] Turner upset on Tuesday would suggest that Democratic dissatisfaction with Biden — and his inability (or unwillingness) to deliver on some of the left’s biggest priorities — is deeper than previously thought.

2024

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!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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.

* * *

So we live in a world where @pmarca quotes Barbara Ehrenreich on the PMC. Extensively!

And:

And:

Hence diversity training, and so forth.

The danger here, and I do struggle with it (as I do not see Andreesen doing) is thinking of the PMC is an entity with a fixed essence, as opposed to being contradictory and dynamic like everything else. Different forms of social capital, I assume, accumulate at different rates. Some PMC — nurses, teachers, airline pilots, university adjunct professors — are being proletarianized, despite their credentials and training. Some PMC (many doctors, some of them known to us) retain the professional ethics that justify their class position. Other PMC, for example in the FIRE sector, engage in the grossest possible forms of fraud (as do the professional programmers and data coders who enable the frauds). Some of them, by virtue of wealth accumulated, move out of their class entirely. Synedoche — I was today years old when I learned this word was pronounced si-nek-duh-kee — or “part for whole” — is a prevalent and bad mental habit when dealing with classes. That psycho Leanna Wen, for example, is PMC through and through. And she is a member of the dominant faction in her field, and so we (indeed I) then to take her as representing that field. It’s not. The aerosol scientists who have been fighting the good fight on airborne transmission are also PMC through and through (although they do not dominate their field). PMC is, I think, a valid way to analyze a class of people according to their relation to the means of production. But I do think we (indeed I) need to make our moralizing a little bit more nuanced. Not every member of the PMC is eligible for a “Sociopath of the Day” award, after all.

Discouraging that the Democrat left is nowhere on Ukraine. From Sanders’ foreign policy advisor:

So who’s making the running on Ukraine, er, resistance? Tucker Carlson, ffs.

Clinton Legacy

No:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Depoliticizing Social Murder in the COVID-19 Pandemic” [Bill of Health]. “The present pandemic nightmare is the most recent and an especially acute manifestation of capitalist society’s tendency to kill many, regularly, a tendency that Friedrich Engels called “social murder.” Capitalism kills because destructive behaviors are, to an important extent, compulsory in this kind of society. Enough businesses must make enough money or serious social consequences follow — for them, their employees, and for government. In order for that to happen, the rest of us must continue the economic activities that are obligatory to maintain such a society…. Depoliticization is an attempt by government ‘to place at one remove the politically contested character of governing,’ in the words of the political scientist Peter Burnham. This might be called rule in denial: making decisions without seeming to make decisions, treating consequences as inevitable, and trying to displace authority elsewhere so as to avoid accountability for what occurs. Burnham’s analysis is helpful for understanding the Biden administration’s pandemic response, in several ways. First, he places depoliticization in a larger theoretical and social context by stressing that governments must manage the potential political consequences of problems that are fairly predictably generated by capitalism. Depoliticization helps withstand demands for government action by presenting some events as inevitable (as when President Biden said two days after taking office that ‘there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months’) and others as impossible (as when Press Secretary Jen Psaki scoffed in a December press briefing, ‘should we just send one [covid test] to every American?’). Other depoliticization strategies deployed by the Biden administration trade on the abdication of decision-making power, such as delegating decisions to state and local authorities; and rhetorically scapegoating others (the list includes the Supreme Court, the unvaccinated, Republicans, coronavirus variants, and the supposed recalcitrance of the population in the face of largely non-existent mitigation measures). According to Burnham’s analysis, these tactical choices should be understood in a context of social conflict. Social conflicts are sites of the potential eruption of politics from below. Governments depoliticize in part to retain control over who sets the terms for what is and is not political, and, above all, to prevent the politicization of what are ostensibly routine aspects of life in capitalist society. That kind of politicization always challenges the state, and depoliticization as a tactic is an attempt to defuse that challenge.” • Interesting.

“The Ties that Blind: Misperceptions of the Opponent Fringe and the Miscalibration of Political Contempt” (PDF) (accepted manuscript) [PsyRxiv]. The Abstract: “Americans’ hostility toward political opponents has intensified to a degree not fully explained by actual ideological polarization. We propose that political animosity may be based particularly on partisans’ overestimation of the prevalence of extreme, egregious views held by only a minority of opponents but imagined to be widespread. Across five studies (N= 4993; three preregistered), we examine issue extremity as an antecedent of false polarization. Both liberals and conservatives report high agreement with their party’s moderate issues but low agreement with the extreme issues associated with their side. As expected, false polarization did not occur for all issues. Partisans were fairly accurate in estimating opponents’ moderate issues (even underestimating agreement somewhat). In contrast, partisans consistently overestimated the prevalence of their opponents’ extreme, egregious political attitudes. (Over)estimation of political opponents’ agreement with extreme issues predicted cross-partisan dislike, which in turn predicted unwillingness to engage with opponents, foreclosing opportunities to correct misperceptions (Studies 2-4b). Participants explicitly attributed their dislike of political opponents to opponents’ views on extreme issues more than moderate issues (Study 3). Partisans also reported greater unwillingness to publicly voice their views on their side’s extreme (relative to moderate) issues, a self-silencing which may perpetuate misconceptions (Studies 1, 2, 4a&b). Time spent watching partisan media (controlling political orientation) predicted greater overestimations of the prevalence of extreme views (Studies 2, 4a&b). Salience of opponents’ malevolence mattered: first reflecting on opponents’ (presumed nefarious) election tactics made partisans on both sides subsequently more accepting of unfair tactics from their own side (Studies 4a&b).” • Synecdoche once more.

True:

And generalizable.

Why should members of Congress be allowed to trade at all?

“Mexico Shifts Trade Railway from Texas to New Mexico over Abbott’s Enhanced Border Checks” [National Review]. • Mexico likes New Mexico’s foreign policy better, I guess.

#COVID19

WHO boards the failboat for another cruise round the continent of Fail:

I grant that handwashing is a good thing, for hepatitis and general. But no similar program for airborne transmission? Why is that, WHO?

* * *

Lambert here: If some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative, and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

* * *

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 by United States regions:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 2

First decisive upward turn. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. The “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 55,000 * 6 = 330,000, i.e. not gamed. (I changed the Biden Line from dotted to solid because the dotted line was too hard to draw properly in my crude tool.)

Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 3

These numbers don’t seem like a runaway train, but it’s worth noting that cases have nearly doubled in four weeks.

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.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 4

I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 5

Both North and South services have turned up. Let’s see if it persists.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From Biobot Analytics:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 6

Northeast unflattened, and — hat tip to readers for pointing to this — it looks like past aggregation was adjusted up.

Cases lag wastewater data.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 7

California slightly better. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

Well spotted by alert reader Lou Anton:

Rapid Riser Counties:

As the “COVID weather pattern” moves NE to Midwest (and maybe West to SW in the future?), I can see the big metropolitan areas and college towns are getting hit:

Illinois: NE Cluster is Chicagoland, central Illinois is college towns (University of Illinois, Illinois State, Illinois Wesleyan), SW is the Metro East of St. Louis.

Wisco: Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay

Indiana: Gary, South Bend, West Lafayette, Indianapolis

Michigan: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek

Ohio: Youngstown and Akron, Cincinnati meeting soon, meet you in the middle Columbus.

Let. ‘er. rip.

Confirming: The one red county in Kansas is Sedgwick, home of Wichita State. But don’t worry. All those kids will soon by traveling home for the summer! Oh, wait…

The previous release:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 8

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.

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 9

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (It looks like portions of Maine went from High (red) to Substantial (orange), but that part of Maine is the Unorganized Territories, where virtually nobody lives.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 10

Hospitalization is most definitely up in many places. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 11

Total: 1,021,089 1,020,854. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Numbers still going down, still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 12

Still a bumpy ride…. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US rose by 205,000 from a month earlier to a series high of 11.549 million in March of 2022, above market expectations of 11 million, as work shortages persisted. Job openings increased in retail trade (+155,000) and in durable goods manufacturing (+50,000). Job openings decreased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-69,000); state and local government education (-43,000); and federal government (-20,000). Job openings increased in the South region. Meanwhile, a record level of 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs with the so-called quits rate rising to 3%.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “Factory orders in the US jumped 2.2% mom to $557.3 billion in March of 2022, the biggest rise since May last year and twice the market forecast of a 1.1% rise, signalling strong demand for goods despite soaring prices and supply constraints. Biggest increases were seen in orders for ships and boats (18.1%), metalworking machinery (13.4%) and defense search and navigation equipment (10.8%).”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell to 69.7 in April of 2022, the lowest since January of 2021, from a record high of 76.2 in March as main metrics shifted. Transportation Capacity increased for the first time in nearly two years (+11.2 to 56.9) while Transportation Prices declined (-15.8 to 73.9). Despite the slowdown in transportation, respondents still indicate growth in the sector. ”

* * *

Commodities: “BP plunges deep into red on pullout from Russia” [Channel News Asia]. “British energy giant BP said Tuesday (May 3) that its decision to pull out of Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine pushed it deep into the red in the first three months of this year. BP said in a statement it booked net loss of US$20.4 billion (€19.4 billion) in the period from January to March compared with a bottom-line profit of $4.7 billion a year earlier. The huge loss was attributable to the group’s decision in February to pull its 19.75 per cent stake in energy group Rosneft, ending more than three decades of investment in Russia, BP said.”

Commodities: “Enough nickel, lithium for 14 mln EVs in 2023 – European climate group” [Reuters]. “In a study based on BloombergNEF data on global maximum volumes of EV battery-grade nickel and lithium, [Transport and Environment] said that in 2025 there would be enough to make 21 million EVs globally. Excluding Russian nickel, T&E said there should be sufficient raw materials for 19 million EVs in 2025. Global EV sales more than doubled to 4.2 million vehicles in 2021 from just over 2 million in 2020.”

Commodities: “This Russian Metals Giant Might Be Too Big to Sanction” [Wall Street Journal]. “From its base at a former Arctic gulag, Russia’s MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC digs up a large portion of two metals that are essential to greener transport and computer chips. So far the U.S. and its allies haven’t sanctioned the company, or its oligarch chief executive, underscoring the dilemma some analysts say governments face in seeking to punish Russia without hurting their own access to key commodities. The mining company is responsible for about 5% of the world’s annual production of nickel, a key component of electric-vehicle batteries, and some 40% of its palladium, which goes into catalytic converters and semiconductors. Nornickel, as the company is known, also supplies energy transition metals such as cobalt and copper.”

Commodities: “We Don’t Need Nickel From Russia” [CleanTechnica]. “There’s another potential source of nickel, not as well known yet plentiful, lying at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. See my previous interviews with The Metals Company CEO, Gerard Barron, if you missed our pieces on this option. Formerly known as DeepGreen, the company is focused on literally scooping up nodules from the seafloor — in a manner that is far less environmentally impactful than other nickel mining methods. The company isn’t Russian. It’s Canadian, eh, and it has the largest undeveloped nickel project on the planet. The company offers a true alternative to both Russian and Chinese-controlled nickel supplies.” • The ocean is already salted, heh heh.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 2 at 1:58 PM EDT.

The Gallery

Oh come on:

I prefer this:

Class Warfare

This must be putting some Stanford profs noses out of joint:

News of the Wired

“Massive study of pet dogs shows breed does not predict behaviour” [Nature]. “Dog enthusiasts have long assumed that a dog’s breed shapes its temperament. But a sweeping study comparing the behaviour and ancestry of more than 18,000 dogs finds that although ancestry does affect behaviour, breed has much less to do with a dog’s personality than is generally supposed. ‘When you adopt a dog based on its breed, you’re getting a dog that looks a certain way,’ says co-author Elinor Karlsson, a computational biologist at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. ‘But as far as behaviour goes, it’s kind of luck of the draw.’ That’s partly because breeds are something of a modern invention. Humans have been shaping how dogs look and behave since domestic dogs first evolved from wolves more than 10,000 years ago. But for most of that time, these efforts were focused on dogs’ working ability — how well they herded livestock, guarded against danger or pulled sledges, for example. Breeds as we think of them today — distinctive canines such as beagles, pugs and Labradors — are a by-product of more recent evolutionary meddling. Starting around 200 years ago, dog enthusiasts in Victorian England began inventing breeds by actively selecting for canine traits that they found aesthetically pleasing.” • The Victorians have a lot to answer for.

“How to Walk (12 miles a day)” [Chris Arnade, Walking the World]. “Walking twelve miles takes about three and a half hours. Most people don’t have that time, not people with kids, commutes, and full time jobs. A more realistic goal is around seven miles, which takes about two hours….. My three mantras on clothing are: Comfort comfort comfort. Consistency consistency consistency. Simple simple simple…. For long walks in new places, especially cities, I try not to be too flashy. So no watches, rings, necklaces, flags, horns, sparkles, or clothes with fancy logos. Nothing distinctive…. Now that I am close to sixty, this is a really big deal, and partly why I walk. It is the least injury-prone exercise. Certainly less than running. I haven’t been injured from all this walking yet, which is pretty amazing. My rule of thumb is to try and aim for consistency, and never try to change my total miles walked in a week more than roughly 30% a week. Not up, or down. ” • Many interesting tips. Well worth a read. But two hours a day? Hmm.

* * *

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 Marku52:

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022 13

Marku52 writes: “The adequately named Redbud, pursued by Sasquatch.”

* * *

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