By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, there was a lot of political activity over the weekend,
At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:
New York looks like it could be approaching the peak, but holy moley.
Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.
That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.
On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.
I removed population adjustment, based on this exchange from alert reader dk:
A quick chart for those who keep asking for per-capita adjustment:
Here’s population vs total death toll one week after 10th death.
As I’ve been saying, population does not affect pace of spread. All per-capita figures do is make smaller countries look worse. pic.twitter.com/yWsa4YNNxI
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) March 29, 2020
I hope this change is helpful. One also notices at once that the New York and New Jersey metroplexes stand out.
“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
* * *Biden (D)(1): “A ‘Never Biden’ movement vows not to vote for Joe” [Politico]. “In Michigan — a state critical to Democrats’ efforts to reclaim their general election footing in the Rust Belt — just 2 of 5 Sanders backers said they would vote Democratic in November, regardless of who became the nominee, according to exit polls. Four in five said they’d be dissatisfied with Biden as the Democratic standard-bearer…. ‘At the end of the day, it’s Biden or Trump,’ said Boyd Brown, a former South Carolina lawmaker and former Democratic National Committee member. ‘They’ll turn out.'” • So I guess we’ll see if the South Carolina political establishment are successful wypipo whisperers or not. They certainly were in 2016. Oh, wait…
Biden (D)(2): “New York Times edits Biden sexual assault coverage, deletes references to past inappropriate ‘hugs, kisses and touching'” [FOX]. • FOX is correct; I saw the whole discussion flow by. For example:
Remember the press spent a month essentially arguing that underage drinking was evidence that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, but a long pattern of “hugs, kisses, and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable” proves Biden’s innocence. pic.twitter.com/CPGr48o8nK
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) April 12, 2020
“We saw no pattern of sexual misconduct, except for the sexual misconduct.”
Cuomo (D)(1): “There Are Worse Governors Than Andrew Cuomo, But None Who Are Personally Responsible For As Many Coronavirus Deaths” [Down with Tyranny]. Accurate, but check out this little nugget: “How big a scumbag is Cuomo inside Democratic politics? We know he hates the Congressional Progressive Caucus and everything they stand for. Now, Maggie Moran, Cuomo’s top political operative– the one not currently serving a prison term– is surreptitiously fund-raising against AOC and soliciting campaign operatives to work against her reelection.” • If Cuomo gets Sanders off the New York ballot and neutralizes AOC, the DNC will owe him a solid.
Sanders (D)(1): “Bernie’s Winning Strategy: Suspend His Campaign While Continuing to Collect Delegates” [Vocal Media]. “As I sat there thinking about the timing of Bernie’s suspension - with nearly half of the states left to vote - I started to think that perhaps this is shaping up to be the most strategic move the Sanders campaign has ever made. It may seem like - from the outside - the end of his bid for the nomination, but I wonder if Bernie Sanders and his closest campaign advisers see it that way.” • I would need to see numbers on this, and some signs from the Sanders campaign. Then again, I can’t take the time to watch the Sanders videos (and AFAIK there are no transcripts) so I could be missing some messaging. Readers?
UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): “Sanders endorses Biden for president” [The Hill].
Ex-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed former rival Joe Biden during a virtual event on Monday.
“I’m asking all Americans…to come together in this campaign, to support your candidacy which I endorse, to make sure we defeat…the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” Sanders told Biden during the former vice president’s virtual event on the coronavirus.
Sanders’s endorsement comes less than a week after he suspended his own presidential campaign.
And we get?
UPDATE Sanders (D)(3): “Sanders endorses Biden” [Politico]. “Their staffs have in recent days met to discuss establishing six task forces — concerning the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration, climate chage and healthcare — to bridge any gaps between the two wings of the Democratic Party.” • I don’t know how you bridge a gap between Biden’s horrid health care plan and #MedicareForAll. And it sounds like a way to avoid a platform fight by doing deals behind closed doors. But where is Sanders leverage now? (And if Sanders, as everyone keeps saying, “won the battle of ideas,” will the task force deliverables reflect that? I’m guessing no.)
UPDATE Sanders (D)(4): “Sanders backs Biden as ex-rivals join forces to beat Trump” [Associated Press]. “Sanders referred to the former vice president as ‘Joe.’ Biden answered him repeatedly as “pal.” The two men asked the other to give regards to their wives, Jill Biden and Jane Sanders. Biden told Sanders: ‘I really need you, not just to win the campaign but to govern.'” • Pal?
UPDATE Sanders (D)(5): From Obama’s surrogate, a *** [chef’s kiss] ***:
This quick, warm and unambiguous endorsement from @BernieSanders is a huge and important boost for @JoeBiden. Without papering over their differences, the two projected a united front. Each handled this well.https://t.co/MEBXPtBJQF
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 13, 2020
UPDATE Sanders (D)(6): Also quick but not so warm:
With the utmost respect for Bernie Sanders, who is an incredible human being & a genuine inspiration, I don't endorse Joe Biden.
I supported Bernie Sanders because he backed ideas like #MedicareForAll, cancelling ALL student debt, & a wealth tax. Biden supports none of those.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) April 13, 2020
UPDATE Sanders (D)(6): I think the Democrat Establishment thinks Sanders can “deliver” voters in the same way they did, but I’m not so sure:
Anyone who thinks that the social movements who backed Sanders campaign are going to just be folded into the Biden campaign b/c Bernie endorsed him doesn’t know anything about social movements. People who organize 24/7/365 outside the electoral arena aren’t for sale.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) April 13, 2020
UPDATE Sanders (D)(7): Opportunity cost:
and what do we know. bernie sanders could've endorsed a may day 2020 general strike and redirected his entire base and network of resources towards shutting down this country in solidarity with gig/undocumented/essential workers and the unemployed, and.. he chose to endorse biden
— Jamie (@jtbrg) April 13, 2020
Warren (D)(1): Her non-endorsement is indeed odd:
Sanders endorses Biden days after suspending campaign; Warren “still deciding,” needs “several more months to recover from violent emojis” pic.twitter.com/2D7TCeqMZ0
— MSDNC – Commentary & Satire (@MSDNCNews) April 13, 2020
* * *
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 Coronavirus Shock Looks More like a Natural Disaster than a Cyclical Downturn” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Although many observers are comparing the current economic cycle to the Great Recession, the two situations are very different. First, the Great Recession was driven by economic and financial imbalances, while the current situation results from a non-economic shock. Second, the Great Recession developed gradually—first as a sub-prime mortgage crisis, then as a broader housing bust, and eventually as a full-blown global financial crisis and recession. The coronavirus pandemic, in contrast, came on suddenly, hitting the economy at full force in one month. Third, the current pandemic is widely viewed as a temporary situation with an endpoint, though how soon that endpoint is reached is of utmost concern and remains to be seen. Given the nature of the current crisis, a better benchmark for assessing the current economic cycle would be the regional economic impact of a severe natural disaster, as seen in Louisiana’s economy after Hurricane Katrina or Puerto Rico’s economy after Hurricane Maria.”
The Bezzle: “Red Light Camera Company Says It’s Dying Of Coronavirus [Tech Dirt]. “‘Redflex, an Australian company that operates “traffic safety programs” in roughly 100 US and Canadian cities, warned that less traffic and suspended construction amid the pandemic will be a stress on its balance sheet.’… Yeah, that’s a real shame. It’s too bad a company that engaged in bribery to grab market share won’t be able to weather this unexpected downturn in questionably-obtained income. There are several competitors in the crowded “worst traffic cam ever” field, but Redflex did everything it could to stay ahead of the pack. This behavior resulted in other unexpected downturns, like refunding millions of dollars of tickets in multiple locations due to the tech’s inability to do the little things… like accurately judge vehicle speed…. Let’s hope there are no more installations ever, even if drivers return to the roads to undo the environmental damage reduction they inadvertently contributed to by staying home. Redflex is a terrible company with terrible ethics and terrible products.”
Fodder for the Bulls: “Goldman Sachs abandons its bearish near-term view on stocks, says the bottom is in” [MarketWatch]. “Our call of the day, from a team of Goldman Sachs strategists led by David Kostin, says the worst of the market rout is behind us. A ‘previous near-term downside of 2000 [for the S&P 500] is no longer likely. Our year-end S&P 500 target remains 3000 (+8%),’ says the team in a note to clients on Monday. Why? ‘The combination of unprecedented policy support and a flattening viral curve have dramatically reduced downside risk for the U.S. economy and financial markets and lifted the S&P 500 out of bear market territory,’ said Kostin, whose gloomy stock prediction from last month came the day before a complete market meltdown.” • I wonder if the term “Democratic strategist” orginated on Wall Street.
Honey for the Bears: “America should be ready for 18 months of shutdowns in ‘long, hard road’ ahead, warns the Fed’s Neel Kashkari” [MarketWatch]. “Kashkari, while acknowledging the downside of what a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy, said the U.S., ‘barring some health-care miracle,’ is looking at an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns based on what has happened in other countries. ‘We could have these waves of flare-ups, controls, flare-ups and controls, until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,’ he said. ‘We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk, back to work and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future.’ Looking ahead, Kashkari doesn’t envision a quick rebound for the U.S. economy, which has already suffered more than 16 million job losses in the past three weeks. ‘This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine,’ he said. ‘It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.’
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 42 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 13 at 12:20pm. Now mere fear. The prospect of “re-opening” the economy?
Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.
“Nobody Knows How to Wean Manatees Off Coal Plants” [Bloomberg]. “Manatees are the chubby vegan hippies of the sea. Neither predator nor prey, the world’s three remaining species are all considered vulnerable, including the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), of which the Florida manatee is a subspecies. Manatees seem to have evolved almost immune to Darwinian struggle. They’re small-brained, radically farsighted, almost deaf, and barely able to smell—effectively floating digestion machines propelled by paddle-like tails. They survive mostly on seagrass, 100 to 200 pounds of which is working through a manatee’s intestinal system at a given moment. Their lungs stretch the entire length of their trunk, helping them maintain optimal buoyancy so they can munch like Jersey cows grazing a field of clover. Yet though manatees are sitting targets, even sharks leave them alone, uninterested in an animal that, despite its corpulence, lacks a tasty, insulating layer of blubber. So unflappable are manatees that a wild one will roll over and let its only true predator—us—rub its tender underside.” • Shut down the coal plants and let the manatees display adaptability?
Agriculture really was a mistake:
you: Industrial Agriculture is kinda like a machine that turns fossil fuels into foo…
John Deere (bursts in): THIS IS SPUDNIK!!!https://t.co/zGQCxDe6k0
— Albert Pinto (@70sBachchan) January 26, 2020
“Pharmacologic Treatments for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” [JAMA]. “The COVID-19 pandemic represents the greatest global public health crisis of this generation and, potentially, since the pandemic influenza outbreak of 1918. The speed and volume of clinical trials launched to investigate potential therapies for COVID-19 highlight both the need and capability to produce high-quality evidence even in the middle of a pandemic. No therapies have been shown effective to date.” • And here is a lovel visualization of how SARS-COV-2 hijacks a cell’s machinery, and how (some of) the various drugs undergoing trial may (or may not) interfere with that process:
— JAMA (@JAMA_current) April 13, 2020
“Could a Japanese Encephalitis Drug Prevent COVID-19?” [Contagion Live]. “Investigators in Germany took a step toward determining a potential novel therapeutic intervention for COVID-19 after identifying a cellular protein that may allow entry of SARS-CoV-2 into lung cells. The research, published in the journal Cell, examined how SARS-CoV-2 enters human cells and found that a drug currently approved in Japan to treat pancreatic inflammation could block the COVID-19 infection. ‘Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 requires the protease TMPRSS2, which is present in the human body, to enter cells,’ Stefan Pöhlmann, head of the Infection Biology Unit at the German Primate Center, said in a statement. ‘This protease is a potential target for therapeutic intervention.'”
I remember a similar visualization done for Lombardy:
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) April 12, 2020
A very good video on social distancing:
— Ohio Dept of Health (@OHdeptofhealth) April 9, 2020
Made by the State of Ohio and so, in its way, a minor triumph for Federalism.
“Making your own face mask? Some fabrics work better than others, study finds” [NBC]. “The best masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight ‘quilters cotton’ with a thread count of at least 180, and had thicker and tighter weave. Lesser quality fabrics also worked well, as long as they had an internal layer of flannel. ‘You do want to use a woven fabric, like batik,’ Segal said, ‘but you don’t want to use a knit fabric, because the holes between the knit stitches are bigger.’ In other words, if the fabric allows for a substantial amount of light to shine through, it’s probably going to allow tiny viral particles through, as well.” • With other useful tips.
Hero of a thousand faces:
Watching Jesus Of Nazareth.
Explaining it is in 4 parts.
My son “oh, it’s a saga. Like Lord Of The Rings but with Jesus instead of Frodo!”
Yes, that’s right.
— Steve Brookstein (@stevebrookstein) April 12, 2020
“Millions of Americans face crisis payment delays” [Financial Times]. “Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, said on April 2 that direct payments of up to $1,200 per person would be wired ‘within two weeks’ to the bank accounts of people with direct deposit details on file at the Internal Revenue Service. Cheques for others, including Social Security recipients, would be sent by mail “very quickly after that”, he said. The problem for consumers who have received tax preparation assistance is that many might think their deposit details have been sent to the IRS when they have not. That is because they have used ‘refund transfer’ services in which their refunds have been routed through a temporary account set up at a bank working with their tax preparation company. As a result, these taxpayers could have to wait to receive their ‘economic impact’ payments via cheques sent to the home addresses on their tax returns, significantly slowing down the distribution of the money. Ron Wyden, a Senate Democrat, has said such cheques could take ‘months’ to arrive.” • Of course, it’s an open question whether parasitical middlemen like tax preparation services should even exist, when the IRS has a free program that does the same thing (“While 70% of taxpayers could use the program, the actual use is closer to 3%,” good job H&R Block/Turbotax lobbyists, and dark pattern programmers!) That said, this distinction — if you get your refund directly, you go to HappyViille, and if you get it through a service, you go to Pain City — is exacty the same random creation of first- and second-class citizens that drove me crazy about ObamaCare. Wherever you look in the relief efforts in the bailouts, you see this. It seems our systems are so chocked and sclerotic that they simply cannot deliver material benefits to citizens in a uniform, consistent way. Too bad, so sad:
Gen X and Millennials can’t wait until 60 for their bailout, They need a debit card with 2k a month for the next 12 months and medicare right now. https://t.co/xVgqtOQSie
— Winifred (@WaywardWinifred) April 13, 2020
(As Tlaib has proposed, to exactly no reaction from the flaccid and
indifferent malevolent Democrat powers-that-be) Interestingly, this is the demographic that the Democrat Establishment has effectively disenfranchised by selecting Biden. Expect volatility.
East Side, West Side….
— Ben Smith (@benyt) April 13, 2020
The Elegy Of Serological Racialism: The Search For ‘Biochemical Races’ [Policy Tensor]. “In 1908, Wilhelm Weinberg, a German physician, and Godfrey H. Hardy, the famous mathematician at Cambridge, independently clarified the elementary mathematics of gene frequencies in a stable population. Anthropologists immediately sensed the opening of a new frontier. Raciology may have been more popular then ever before, but there were problems aplenty. One could only go so far with skin pigmentation, hair cross-sections, stature, and other skeletal and cranial measurements. For one, there was little agreement between physical anthropologists on the number and identity of the races of man — there seem to be as many races as race scientists, if not more! For another, progress was excruciatingly slow in understanding the origins of the races. All manner of theories abounded. The one issue on which all concerned agreed was the supremacy of the Nordic race. The only question was whether not just contemporary but all civilizations in history were secretly the creation of Grant’s Great Race — had the ancient Egyptians been Nordic too before mixing led to their racial degeneration? How else could one square the abjection of the contemporary Egyptian races and the astounding achievements of the ancient Egyptians? Such old wives’ tales were a minor irritant to serious scientists. They were more concerned about the results of Dr Boas, who had shown in 1912 that the cephalic index (the ratio of the length and breadth of the skull) was not as stable as hitherto believed. More precisely, Boas demonstrated that the cranial index of second generation immigrants differed from their parents.” • No doubt the ravings of mainstream macro-economists will read, one day, as the pseudo-science they are.
News of the Wired
“Prime Obsession” [OneZero]. • A lovely story about Oliver Sachs, two autistic twins, and prime numbers. “John would say a number—a six-figure number. Michael would catch the number, nod, smile and seem to savor it. Then he, in turn, would say another six-figure number, and now it was John who received, and appreciated it richly. They looked, at first, like two connoisseurs wine-tasting, sharing rare tastes, rare appreciations.”
“Human cryptochrome exhibits light-dependent magnetosensitivity” [Nature]. From 2011, still intrigues: “Humans are not believed to have a magnetic sense, even though many animals use the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation and navigation…. Here we show using a transgenic approach that human CRY2, which is heavily expressed in the retina, can function as a magnetosensor in the magnetoreception system of Drosophila and that it does so in a light-dependent manner. ” • Fruit flies do it…
CC writes: “Easter in Colorado. It has snowed all day. Daytime temperatures were in the seventies last week, yet here we are experiencing the first white Easter I can recall.”
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.
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