By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Case count by United States region:
Returning to the upward trend. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, here, and I hate to see the upward rise, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. As an aerosol believer, I think we should all pay great attention to the flow and condition of air indoors, but I confess I have no concrete suggestions; it’s hard (and costly) to open the windows in the winter. Apparently, low humidity makes it easier for the virus to spread, so if you have radiators, be sure to put a pan of water on top of each one. If anybody has thought through a winter system for covid, I’m sure readers would love to hear it. I don’t think the “six feet aoart” mantra is enough; we need to think about air flow.
I thought I’d look at some big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California) instead of the Midwest:
The big states all moving more-or-less in tandem now; perhaps spread was nationalized with colleges and universities opening and closing? The correlation seems to happen around 63 days ago (October 1).
Test positivity by region:
Hospitalization by region:
We should also take into account that hospitalization is also discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity.
Case fatality rate by region:
“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
UPDATE “‘This Must Be Your First'” [Zeynep Tufecki, The Atlantic]. “Much debate has ensued about what exactly to call whatever Trump is attempting right now, and about how worried we should be. It’s true, the whole thing seems ludicrous—the incoherent lawsuits, the late-night champagne given to official election canvassers in Trump hotels, the tweets riddled with grammatical errors and weird capitalization. Trump has been broadly acknowledged as “norm shattering” and some have argued that this is just more of his usual bluster, while others have pointed out terminological issues with calling his endeavors a coup. Coup may not quite capture what we’re witnessing in the United States right now, but there’s also a danger here: Punditry can tend to focus too much on decorum and terminology, like the overachieving students so many of us once were, conflating the ridiculous with the unserious. The incoherence and incompetence of the attempt do not change its nature, however, nor do those traits allow us to dismiss it or ignore it until it finally fails on account of that incompetence.”
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UPDATE GA: “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Rips ‘Kraken’ Rigged Election Complaints As ‘Myth’ In Legal Action” [HuffPo]. “A legal action by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has blasted the Trump legal team’s election fraud complaints as ‘myth.’ Kemp’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging election results called the complaints ‘outlandish.’ The filing Saturday night in federal court in Atlanta followed attacks by President Donald Trump on Kemp at a Georgia rally for failing to overturn the election results that handed victory to Joe Biden. The lawsuit’s convoluted conspiracy theory seeking to overturn Biden’s win involves foreign agents from Iran and China infiltrating voting machines and switching votes from Trump to Biden in Georgia and other swing states. The strategy was backed by ‘communist money’ and corrupt Democratic election workers, the suit claims. There’s no evidence for any of it. Republican lawyer Sidney Powell has said she would ‘release the Kraken’ with her lawsuit, referring to a mythical sea monster in Scandinavian lore and a well-known line from ‘Clash of the Titans.’ ‘Their claims would be extraordinary if true, but they are not,’ Kemp’s motion to dismiss declared, which also includes Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. ‘Much like the mythological ‘Kraken’ monster after which plaintiffs have named this lawsuit, their claims of election fraud and malfeasance belong more to the Kraken’s realm of mythos than they do to reality,’ the court filing noted.”
UPDATE GA: “Georgia election officials show frame-by-frame what happened in Fulton surveillance video” [WSB-TV]. • The counting was all video-taped. FFS.
GA: “Brian Kemp Unveils Specially Trained Hogs That Can Root Out Voter Fraud” [The Topical]. •
Democrats in Disarray
“Maloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine ‘stuck in the past'” [The Hill]. “To move the party into the future, Maloney is vowing to listen to younger progressives when it comes to social media and digital outreach; to shift away from “stuffy old traditional crappy polling” and adopt community-based focus groups; and to reject the idea that big fundraising hauls are synonymous with election success — a formula that didn’t play out this year, when Democrats raised historic amounts of campaign cash but still lost House seats. ‘When I look at the amount of money that the major committees on both sides and independent groups deployed this cycle, I think there must be a big room in Washington somewhere where they bring big bags of money and burn it. Because I don’t know what the hell anybody got out of it,’ Maloney said.” • I wonder what the five or six Democrat consultants who actually burn that money think about that. And Holy [Family Blog]:
Sara Gideon ended her losing campaign for Senate in Maine with $14,810,136.25 in the bank
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) December 4, 2020
Same as Amy McGrath. Wherever you look, you find mindboggling capital allocation problems, don’t you?
“Where Iowa Democrats go from here: Thoughts for the next party chair” [J.D. Scholten, Bleeding Heartland]. “After starting from absolute scratch and raising more than $6 million dollars over two cycles as the fourth Congressional district nominee, I have not had the Iowa Democratic Party, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, or any party organization contact me about our campaign. No one has asked what we learned, what we did right, what we did wrong, or about our data, or anything else. The state party should do post-election analysis with candidates and their staff.” And: “Democrats have a massive consultant issue. This complaint is more directed at the party nationally, rather than toward the Iowa Democratic Party. There are far too many consultants making decisions who have never been to Iowa or have no idea what’s happening here. They don’t realize that what’s happening in Des Moines is a far cry from what’s happening in the rest of the state.” • I remember, back in the day, Democrat consultants from out-of-state who thought Bangor was a big city because it was a biggish circle on Route 95 when you looked at a map. Yes, they lost their referendum.
UPDATE “Power struggle sparks tensions among Senate Democrats” [The Hill]. “Senate Democrats are mulling new limits on leadership positions and plum committee posts as long-simmering tensions about the balance of power within the caucus are spilling into public view. What started as a fight over Democrats’ top spot on the Judiciary Committee has instead turned into a sprawling debate about concerns that there’s a bottleneck to climb the seniority ladder. It’s a rare point of public division in a caucus that has prided itself on unity over the past four years. But Democrats, who failed to win the majority for the fourth cycle in a row, say the debate is a long time coming.”
PELOSI'S INSIDER TRADING
Just watch this astounding clip.pic.twitter.com/Vsy3S5OErF
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) December 6, 2020
From “’60 Minutes’ Questions Whether Pelosi Traded Stock On Inside Information” [CBS]. “Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and her husband have participated in at least eight IPOs. One of those came in 2008, from Visa, just as a troublesome piece of legislation that would have hurt credit card companies, began making its way through the House. Undisturbed by a potential conflict of interest the Pelosis purchased 5,000 shares of Visa at the initial price of $44. Two days later it was trading at $64. The credit card legislation never made it to the floor of the House.” • Those ice cream freezers don’t buy themselves, you know.
Transition to Biden
UPDATE “Maya Harris aided effort to boost husband’s attorney general bid” [Politico]. “Maya Harris has participated in conversations with allies aimed at boosting her husband’s candidacy for attorney general, according to people familiar with the calls. Harris, the sister of Kamala Harris, is married to Tony West, the chief legal officer at Uber and former U.S. associate attorney general in the Obama administration…. Beyond his legal work, West’s relationship to Kamala Harris is likely a nonstarter for many Democrats, who have eviscerated President Donald Trump over the last four years for elevating his family to key White House positions. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are both top advisers to the president. The foreign business entanglements of Biden’s son, Hunter, were a flash point during his presidential run, and Biden has shown he is eager to avoid any conflicts of interest in his administration.” • So what on earth was the Harris clan thinking?
UPDATE “Biden Administration Will Create Position to Reach Conservatives” [Bloomberg]. “The Biden administration plans to create a position to find common ground with conservatives, said Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the president-elect…. Richmond, who will resign his seat representing most of New Orleans in Congress, also said that part of his mandate would be ‘private sector engagement’ and to serve as a ‘conduit straight into the White House’ for chief executive officers…. ‘We will just do those things we find that are absolutely necessary to do and if that means raising the corporate tax rate to achieve infrastructure investment, which is important to both business and to normal everyday citizens, I think that that may be some middle ground that everybody can support,’ he said at the CEO Council.” • “A conduit straight into the White House….”
UPDATE “A centrist mandate for Joe Biden” [Douglas Schoen, The Hill]. “For Biden to chart a constructive administration of lasting significance, he should pursue a centrist agenda and build a consensus with Republicans to address our pressing issues. Most presidents come into office with one or two critical problems. Biden faces an economic recession, a pandemic that has killed over 280,000 Americans, a broken health care system, and threats from our authoritarian adversaries, none of which he will be able to address without some critical support from Republicans. I know from my time at the White House that reaching across the aisle will lead us to important reform and electoral success. After Republicans won back control of the House in the 1994 midterms, President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress toward a balanced budget and also welfare reform, both of which had key bipartisan support. Clinton won his second term by a landslide, and he left behind an economic surplus.” • Welfare reform? Really? No mention of a “Grand Bargain” or even of Social Security. Perhaps that wasn’t needed….
UPDATE “The Decency Agenda” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “Mr. Biden might consider a three-pronged approach. Call it the Decency Agenda. The first element is turning down the heat of the culture wars as they intersect with politics. Too often, proxy fights create more outrage than progress. The second part involves finding shared ground on policy that can push the country forward, even as it works to address its entrenched inequities and divisions. Could it at last be time for a serious “infrastructure week”? The third element involves accountability. Not a truth commission mounted out of spite, or justice sought in the spirit of vengeance. But some way to get answers about what happened during the Trump administration, coupled with an attempt to restore some guardrails that proved insufficient to restrain Mr. Trump’s worst impulses.” • I doubt very much there will be any sort of truth commission, if only because in too many cases (“children in cages”) Trump simply took advantage of institutions Obama had already built.
During the campaign Joe Biden's team was measuring the drapes in the Oval Office, not out of arrogance but because of their new private equity subsidiary White House DrapeCo and its tuck-in acquisition Oval Office Decorations Inc. VII.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) December 8, 2020
Surely the transactions with White House DrapeCo and Oval Office Decorations Inc. VII would be run through Perkins Coie?
Trump (R)(1): “Trump’s wild Inauguration Day exit” [Axios]. “President Trump is considering a made-for-TV grand finale: a White House departure on Marine One and final Air Force One flight to Florida for a political rally opposite Joe Biden’s inauguration, sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios. Why it matters: The former network star is privately discussing using his waning powers as commander in chief to order up the exit he wants after dissing Biden by refusing to concede the election, welcome him to the White House or commit to attending his inauguration. The big picture: The Trump talk could create a split-screen moment: the outgoing president addressing a roaring crowd in an airport hangar while the incoming leader is sworn in before a socially distanced audience outside the Capitol, as NBC News first reported.”
UPDATE Trump (R)(2): “Trump blows a hole in the GOP on his way out” [Politico]. “But Trump’s campaign to pressure GOP elected officials to support his baseless claims of a rigged election — and his success in convincing a majority of the party that widespread voter fraud occurred — is already showing signs of having far-reaching effects that will reshape the Republican Party for years to come. State party chairs are tearing into their governors. Elected officials are knifing one another in the back. Failed candidates are seizing on Trump’s rhetoric to claim they were also victims of voter fraud in at least a half dozen states. As his presidency comes to a close, Trump has not only imprinted his smash-mouth style on the GOP, he has wrenched open the schism between the activist class and the elected class, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican Party officials and strategists in the states.” • Democrats hate their base*. Republicans fear theirs. The schism was always there. NOTE * Back when the working class was the Democrat base.
UPDATE Trump (R)(3): “Here’s Where The Term ‘Lame Duck’ Comes From” [HuffPo]. “The earliest reported reference to the term [“lame duck”] comes in a December 1761 letter written by British historian and politician Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann. ‘Do you know what a Bull, and a Bear, and a Lame Duck are?’ he asked, alluding to a phrase used in the Exchange Alley, or ‘Change Alley,’ coffeehouses that evolved into the London Stock Exchange. ‘Lame duck’ described a person who defaulted on his debt. The idea was that this trader would be powerless and vulnerable to predators, like a duck unable to keep up with its flock. Unable to pay up, the defaulter has to ‘waddle’ off.”
* * *
UPDATE GA: “GOP Swamps Democrats with 400% More Cash in Georgia Races” [Bloomberg]. “GOP donors gave $95 million to their party’s Senate super-PAC and party committee between Election Day and Nov. 23, more than four times as much as the $18 million Democrats gave similar groups over the same period. The GOP has been spending heavily to help senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler hold their seats in the Jan. 5 runoff.” • With a breakdown of the sources.
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What’s not to like?
Biden voters who voted Republican downballot were wealthier, better educated and more suburban than both voters who went Trump but Democrat downballot, and voters who voted Democrat all the way down. This is the precise demographic the party has organised itself around since '16. pic.twitter.com/MzuafZB5ck
— Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) December 4, 2020
“What’s Gone Wrong with the Democratic Party & How to Fix it” (podcast) [David Shor, Hidden Forces]. •
No, no, it’s not too soon.
Trump (R)(1): “Trump 2024 talk threatens to freeze other GOP hopefuls in place” [The Hill]. “President Trump is openly flirting with the possibility of running for president again in 2024, complicating the path of Republicans who hope to launch their own bids next cycle. Trump, who will travel to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for two GOP senators facing runoff elections next month, explicitly alluded to the possibility this week in remarks to supporters at a White House holiday party, while continuing to deny his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. Given the president’s ironclad grip on Republican voters, even the flirtation with a run could freeze some GOP hopefuls in place given the risk of a battle with Trump. ‘Trump is the 800 pound gorilla in the Republican Party right now. For the time being, everyone else is going to make room for him,’ said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist and former communications director for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
Realignment and Legitimacy
UPDATE Matthew Dowd was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign:
Happy bday philosopher/activist/linguist Noam Chomsky, b. 1928
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”
I have hope and faith we can.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) December 7, 2020
“Tacking” [Interfluidity]. “The electorate has spent decades swapping political parties and moving away from what, on average, it has wanted. The social extremity of the Trump coalition can be understood less as a discontinuity, and more as part of a reaction to the post-2008 discrediting of elite economic preferences…. Both parties’ elites shared an interest in polarizing the countries across a social and cultural terrain, while de-emphasizing economics. But Trump turned Washington’s gurus into sorcerers’ apprentices, as their usually calibrated tweaking of social resentments gave way to a figure they increasingly cannot control, and of whose governance no sane American should approve…. I do hope a new administration understands the stakes. . In order to bring down the temperature of social polarization in the United States (which, perhaps marking me as a squish sell-out, I desperately hope we manage), elites will have to reverse their 2016 mistake, and give ground to the left on economics while trying to talk the country down (‘unify’) from the social polarization that they themselves, in my view, quite cynically engendered.” • “Nothing would fundamentally change.” –Joe Biden.
UPDATE “Too Few Of The President’s Men” [The American Conservative]. “A president can only accomplish his policy objectives if administration personnel are both capable and ideologically aligned, willing and able to engage the machinery of government and to bend it toward implementation of the president’s priorities. This was especially so for President Trump, whose policy priorities either upended his own party’s orthodoxy—from economics and trade to foreign policy—or forcefully engaged on social and cultural issues where Republicans had long emphasized rhetoric over policy substance. Nor is a strong inner circle sufficient. A single cabinet official cannot redirect an executive agency by sheer force of will, gravitas, or even expertise. She requires assistance from philosophically committed, expert staff at the subcabinet level and below—something that was missing in the Trump administration’s agencies, whose heads found themselves frequently undermined by their own political appointees. The Trump administration suffered from an abundance of heavyweights, “experts,” and vipers, but a notable lack of loyalty to the president’s agenda. The result was an unwillingness to subordinate D.C. political machinations to a focus on accomplishing the president’s agenda, and long periods of infighting, drift, and internal gridlock that hamstrung the Trump policy agenda in key areas.” • The exact same thing would have happened with Sanders, especially since the NGO world from which a Democrat administration typically draws its personnel are committed to identity politics, and most definitely not to class-driven policy, let alone socialism.” • Also, I was not familiar with Morton Blackwell’s Laws of the Public Policy Process. Everybody knows #26: “Personnel is policy,” and #29: “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.” But I like #44: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.” And I don’t think moral outrage is the same as hate….
“What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks & Romans” (interview) [Thomas E. Ricks, Hidden Forces]. Another excellent podcast. Here, podcaster Demetri Kofinas interviews Taibbi on election 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.
Productivity: “3Q2020 Final Headline Productivity Improved” [Econintersect]. “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that labor costs are growing slower than productivity on a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis…. Please note [that] doing a productivity analysis during a major recession or recovery period is a waste of time as productivity is obscured by government interventions.”
Debt: “September 2020 Loan Performance: Serious Delinquencies Leveled Off for the First Time Since Start of Pandemic” [Econintersect]. “The Loan Performance Insights Report for September 2020 shows an a national level, 6.3% of mortgages were in some stage of delinquency (30 days or more past due, including those in foreclosure). This represents a 2.5-percentage point increase in the overall delinquency rate compared to September 2019, when it was 3.8%.”
Small Business Optimism: “November 2020 Small Business Optimism Declined, Owners Remain Uncertain After Election” [Econintersect]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index declined 2.6 points in November to 101.4 but remain well above the 47-year historical average reading of 98. Six of the 10 Index components declined and four increased. The NFIB Uncertainty Index decreased 8 points to 90, still a historically high reading. Owners expecting better business conditions over the next 6 months declined 19 points to a net 8%.”:
Tech: “Outages at Interactive Brokers, Robinhood Leave Stock Traders Furious” [Bloomberg]. “Interactive Brokers Group Inc. apologized to clients in a letter Monday evening, after an outage left some users unable to trade for hours while markets were open. The brokerage said its issues, which drew fury from customers, stemmed from a “high availability” data system provided by another company, which it didn’t name.” • AWS? More: “Interactive Brokers’ issue is the latest in a series of disruptions at firms large and small that have received more scrutiny amid a boom in retail trading during the pandemic.” • Hmm.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 83 Extreme Greed (previous close: 88 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:55pm.
“FDA scientists endorse ‘highly effective’ Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ahead of key panel” [STAT]. “cientists at the Food and Drug Administration endorsed the efficacy and safety of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech in detailed documents released Tuesday, setting the stage for an emergency authorization as early as this week. The documents are a prelude to a Thursday meeting of outside experts, which is likely the final step before the FDA grants an emergency use authorization, or EUA. The FDA reviewers state that the two-dose vaccine was “highly effective” in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, and that the data “suggest a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA.” The data also suggest that the two-dose vaccine may begin preventing some Covid-19 cases after the first dose. But the document dump — 53 pages of documents from FDA reviewers and another 92 from Pfizer and BioNTech — also provides new information about the side effects of the vaccine (most patients have sore arms and headaches). And it sets up topics for discussion about the vaccine’s efficacy, including what potential rare side effects regulators and the manufacturers should watch for, and how well the vaccine protects against severe Covid-19.” • Here is a link to the document dump; this is Pfizer-BioNTech’s briefing document. Have at it!
“New Vaccine Data Is Coming: Watch Out for These 3 Claims” [Hilda Bastian, Wired]. “This week, the real data deluge will begin. The Food and Drug Administration has been analyzing thousands of pages of data for BioNtech-Pfizer’s vaccine, in preparation for an all-day meeting on December 10 to decide whether to authorize its emergency use—and detailed summaries of that data could be released as soon as Tuesday. Then the agency will repeat the process next week for the Moderna vaccine. The first publications of the vaccines’ efficacy data in medical journals should be coming out soon too.” Bastian says to watch out for:
Misleading Claim 1: The trials were so humongous, all the results must be iron-clad. Or else, The trials included so few people who actually got sick, the results must be unreliable….
Misleading Claim 2: Now we know that claims of “95 percent efficacy” were hype….
Misleading Claim 3: The vaccine was well tolerated, and side effects were mostly mild or moderate
Note that these claims are misleading, which doesn’t equate to mis- or disinformation. Lazy journalism can mislead. These are not gotchas, but guideposts for close and careful reading.
“Coronavirus: Indonesia says not yet able to determine Sinovac vaccine efficacy” [South China Morning Post]. “In a statement, Bio Farma said the interim report from the Phase III trial is expected to be available in January. Bambang Heriyanto, an official at Bio Farma, said efficacy cannot be determined at this time, and it was necessary to wait for complete data. Bio Farma had said earlier on Tuesday that clinical trial results showed the vaccine has 97 per cent efficacy. Sinovac said last month that 97 per cent of healthy adults receiving lower dosage taking part in its Phase 1-2 trial showed antibody-related immune response after taking its Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac.”
“The COVID-19 herd immunity threshold is not low: A re-analysis of European data from spring of 2020” [medRxiv]. “The recent publication of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), which calls for relaxing all public health interventions on young, healthy individuals, has brought the question of herd immunity to the forefront of COVID-19 policy discussions, and is partially based on unpublished research that suggests low herd immunity thresholds (HITs) of 10-20%. We re-evaluate these findings and correct a flawed assumption leading to COVID-19 HIT estimates of 60-80%. If policymakers were to adopt a herd immunity strategy, in which the virus is allowed to spread relatively unimpeded, we project that cumulative COVID-19 deaths would be five times higher than the initial estimates suggest. Our re-estimates of the COVID-19 HIT corroborate strong signals in the data and compelling arguments that most of the globe remains far from herd immunity, and suggest that abandoning community mitigation efforts would jeopardize the welfare of communities and integrity of healthcare systems.” • Oopsie.
“Cracking the meat-allergy mystery with the tick-bite link” [Nature]. • I can’t excerpt this adequately, but readers who have allergies and are tick-adjacent may find this article of interest.
This sounds like the sort of thing Taleb would have a view on, but I don’t know what it would be:
"It's frustrating to calibrate your precautions when there's only one kind of really definitive feedback you can get, you can only get it once, and when you do it's too late."
— Barry Ritholtz (@ritholtz) December 8, 2020
“Surplus and stress control autumn timing” [Science]. “The presence of leaves on deciduous trees not only marks the changing of the seasons, but also defines the period of time in which trees store carbon from the air in leaves, wood, and roots. Warming winters causing earlier spring-leaf emergence is a widespread pattern of climate-change impacts across temperate tree species and their locations (1). Much more idiosyncratic is the timing of leaf senescence (deterioration), which offers no clear indication of whether future warming will cause an extended autumn growing season that leads to greater carbon-storage potential (2). On page 1066 of this issue, Zani et al. (3) demonstrate that there might be limits to how much carbon a tree can use or store in a single year. Further, if all carbon needs are met, leaves might senesce earlier rather than later in the autumn.”
“In surprising sign of resilience, some corals can survive long heat waves” [Science]. “Starting in May 2015, the temperature rose about 1°C within 2 months. As expected, corals that housed heat-sensitive algae bleached sooner than those that housed the heat-tolerant genus of algae. And as the water continued to warm, even heat-tolerant algae were ejected. Also, no surprise. The ‘jaw dropper’ on Kiritimati, Baum says, was that many brain and star corals recovered from bleaching while the water was still unusually warm. Up until now, marine biologists had only seen bleached corals recover once water had cooled to its normal temperature. The unexpected recovery on Kiritimati provides new hope, Baum says, ‘because it means that even under prolonged heat waves, there’s a path forward for some of them.’ An unusual feature of the recovery is that brain coral that started out with heat-sensitive algae had a higher survival rate (82%) than coral that began with heat-tolerant algae (25%), the team reports today in Nature Communications. That finding is surprising and ‘superinteresting,’ says Madeleine Van Oppen, a coral geneticist at the University of Melbourne, who was not involved with the work. The expectation was that heat-tolerant algae would be better suited for helping coral survive a heat wave, Baum says. But during a longer heat wave, it might be more advantageous to start with a heat-sensitive alga, says lead author Danielle Claar, now a postdoc at the University of Washington, Seattle. That’s because these algae supply the coral host with more food than do heat-tolerant algae, thereby providing them with greater reserves to survive bleaching. Water quality could influence the choice of algal partner.”
Our Famously Free Press
Groves of Academe
In my post on the death of the universities, I mentioned teaching and scholarship, and claimed that faculty could be both rigorous and popular with students. Here are two podcasts that show this:
“The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877” (lecture) [David Blight, Open Yale Courses]. • A series, really excellent (I’ve recommended it several times, and I believe it was first recommended by alert reader Bunk McNulty).
“Politics in Academia: A Case Study” [Psychology Today]. “Consider this post exactly what Clay suggested. Here, after years of efforts from our team to publish a study of political values among academics, is, in full, that paper, titled as such: Politics and Academic Values in Higher Education: Just How Much Does Political Orientation Drive the Values of the Ivory Tower? Ironically, this paper, now easily self-published thanks to the magic of cloud technology, officially should be cited as an unpublished manuscript. This said, the full APA citation is found in the references below and it is perfectly appropriate to cite in academic papers (the fact that it is “unpublished” clearly lets the reader know that it did not pass the process of peer review, for whatever reason; I figure people can do whatever they want with that information).”
No aristocracy in this country, not at all:
Steve Jobs’ youngest daughter, Eve, models for Glossier in the beauty brand’s latest campaign, and Bill Gates’ daughter is ‘obsessed’ with it https://t.co/HLGJa6Rrqn
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) December 8, 2020
“Are people with dark personality traits more likely to succeed?” [Psyche]. “We know that approximately 1-2 per cent of individuals in the general population display extremely dark personality features – enough to meet the clinical threshold for a personality disorder – and about 10-20 per cent of individuals have moderately elevated levels. We know that even people with moderate levels of dark traits can wreak havoc: they are more likely to lie and cheat, show racist attitudes, and be violent towards others. As researchers, we have studied these traits ourselves. But in a bid to balance out the extensive literature on dark traits, we have recently started to focus on the light side of human personality instead – the ‘everyday saints’ among us. These people are genuinely interested in others and treat them well without question, not as a means to an end. They applaud the success of others, believe in the fundamental goodness of humans, and respect the dignity of everyone. Our recent study of more than 36,000 adults suggests that these traits are common: around 30-50 per cent of people show prominent light personality trait profiles, depending on world region, and these traits are particularly common in women…. So far, we have made it seem as though people fall into one of two binary groups: dark or light. But in reality, there’s a third group: we found that about 40 per cent of individuals show a balance of dark and light traits. People in this mixed group are similar to the light group when it comes to critical variables involving empathy and social connectedness, but they still show some dark tendencies – hampering their relationships to some degree with deceitful, self-absorbed or hurtful behaviour toward others”
News of the Wired
Amazon Web Services is a single point of failure:
Welcome to the future pic.twitter.com/oCNWhaioVg
— Dare Obasanjo (@Carnage4Life) November 25, 2020
“Reasons We’ve Loved New York A send-off to the many places, big and small, that closed in 2020” [Curbed]. “500 Good-bye An honor roll — from the earliest founded to the most recently opened — of the many lost businesses that were, at least in their own corners of the city, essential.” • Peter Daou comments:
I settled in NYC in the 80s. I've seen the billionaire takeover destroy much of the city's unique character.
Now the #pandemic has decimated what remains.
Very painful and sad.https://t.co/EhZNQuleRa
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) December 8, 2020
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 (LR):
LR writes: “Springtime in Uruguay; trees with parasitic plants on them.”
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!