2:00PM Water Cooler 7/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had to deal with a household emergency just when I sat down at my desk. More soon. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

A Willow Ptarmigan from Erkuta, Yamalo-Nenetskiy Autonomous Region, Russia. Just to keep the organs of state security on their toes, if they have toes, as opposed to (say) snail-like mucilaginous propodia. (Cheeping of hatchings and what sounds like insects (!)).

I’m going to leave this up in case anyone missed it Friday:

“What’s That Bird Song? Merlin Bird ID Can Tell You” [The Cornell Lab (GF)]. “It’s an almost universal feeling: the thrill of hearing a mysterious new bird song. And it’s usually followed up by the question: What was that bird? Today, the question got much easier: the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app can now identify bird sounds. At the time of the initial launch, Merlin can recognize the sounds of 400+ species from the U.S. and Canada, with that number set to expand rapidly in future updates. Automatic song ID has been a dream for decades, but analyzing sound has always been extremely difficult. The breakthrough came when researchers, including Merlin lead researcher Grant Van Horn, began treating the sounds as images and applying new and powerful image classification algorithms like the ones that power Merlin’s Photo ID feature. ‘Each sound recording a user makes gets converted from a waveform to a spectrogram—a way to visualize the amplitude [volume], frequency [pitch], and duration of the sound,’ Van Horn says. ‘So just like Merlin can identify a picture of a bird, it can now use this picture of a bird’s sound to make an ID,’ Van Horn says.”

* * *

#COVID19

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo.

Vaccination by region:

Oof. Kamala Harris better get cracking.

Case count by United States regions:

Oof. Now a definite upward trend, as shown by the anti-triumphalist black line. The slope is nothing like it was 476 days ago, but upward it is. We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings by July 4 + 14 call it July 21 or so. And of course summer camp, Bible School, etc.

Covid cases top ten states: for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

California passes Texas, hoo boy.

NEW From CDC “Community Profile Report July 8 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.) I didn’t feel the chart on the South was adding anything, so I replaced it with this more granular chart. Readers are welcome to page through the PDF, which comes out regularly, to suggest an alternative.

Test positivity:

South outpaces the field.

Hospitalization (CDC):

No bad news yet.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

No bad news yet.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up.

* * *

Politics

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

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

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

Democrats en Deshabille

Filing this here. Obviously.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Inflation Expectations” [Trading Economics]. “Median year-ahead inflation expectations in the US increased to 4.8 percent in June 2021, a new high for the series and the eighth straight month of increases, amid mounting concerns over inflationary pressure as the economy recovers from the pandemic hit. Meanwhile, expectations for inflation over the next three years remained unchanged at 3.6 percent, the second-highest level ever. The survey also showed households’ labor market expectations continued to improve…”

* * *

Commodities: “Rising crude prices aren’t drawing more output from the U.S. oil patch. Shale companies that once pumped with abandon now are barely doing enough to sustain U.S. production… as a tighter financial market forces frackers to rein in their spending” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s poor news for the tanker operators that traditionally benefit when rising oil prices coupled with stronger demand trigger a rush to get more crude cargoes moving. Shale drillers have helped fuel past shipping surges by quickly increasing output as prices rose, but investors are wary following years of poor returns and many drillers are now standing pat. Public shale companies have shown strong cash flows over the past year, but many are pumping that money into reducing debt while others are stocking up on cash.

Commodities: “Agriculture supply chains in the Pacific Northwest are buckling under the heat wave that recently rolled across the region. Businesses from salmon producers along the Columbia River to apple orchards near Yakima, Wash., are assessing the long-term impact of a temperatures that soared beyond 100 degrees and caused around 200 deaths” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he harsh weather accentuated what was already a hot, dry year in a region that produces a significant share of U.S. agriculture exports. Washington’s wheat growers, who mostly rely on rainfall for their crops, are expecting a large drop-off in production, and cherry growers are expecting lower yields. The heat wave is the latest sign of how extreme weather is buffeting supply chains built up over decades, including distribution channels fanning out from farmland in the upper Midwest to rail and port terminals along the Pacific Coast that connect exporters to Asian markets.” • If your business depends on the cilmate, you don’t have a business?

Shipping: “The long delays and rising costs rolling across ocean-going supply chains are having a particularly big impact on small and medium-size businesses. Retail heavyweights like Walmart and Amazon are rushing to restock ahead of the fall peak shipping season, and … that is increasingly crowding out smaller shippers who must battle over dwindling container capacity out of Asia” [Wall Street Journal]. “Those who want immediate shipments often must pay about three times the going freight cost, part of a “bidding war” that has pushed asking prices for late bookings beyond $20,000 per 40-foot container. Shipping executives say rising freight costs are the result of disruptions across supply chains that triggered delays at ports and inland distribution networks. Things aren’t expected to ease before the end of the year.” • If your business depends on containers, you don’t have a business?

Private Equity: “The Top 10 Largest Private Equity Firms in the World” [US News]. “Private equity firms have come out of the pandemic red-hot, inking more than 2,300 deals in the first five months of 2021, an increase of 21.9% from the same period last year. A combination of historically low interest rates and record levels of fundraising has sent private equity investors racing to source deals – in fact, according to a recent survey conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence, only 7% of private equity investors expect the investment landscape to deteriorate in the coming months.” • It’s hard to conclude from data like this that finance capitalism is anything other than anti-fragile. Until its host dies, of course.

The Economy: “What Decade Are We In?” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. Tom Barkin, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond: “A little over a year ago, we shut down the U.S. economy to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Totally erasing “essential workers,” good job. More: “For me, all I can say is that every decade is unique. I do believe we are in the middle of a temporary adjustment cycle, during which workers will return to the workplace as schools open and fiscal payments expire, and suppliers will catch up to demand. For those reasons, I expect our near-term inflationary pressure to ease as we go into the fourth quarter. The key question, then, will be whether this episode has a significant lingering effect on businesses and consumers. Will they accept higher annual price increases going forward? I think the past 30 years of relative price stability must outweigh a few months of pressure. But one can never be too careful. That’s why you see the Fed starting our process of discussing normalization, and hopefully why you hear legislators talking about how they will pay for their proposed spending packages.” • Oy.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 12 at 12:47pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

Health Care

This is an important thread from Trisha Greenhalgh, on an entirely different topic from her BMJ article in today’s Links, and well worth reading in full because it covers a lot of ground besides being a retrospective on the masking controversy. Grab a cup of coffee. She begins:

And:

“Where’s the RCT?” As I understand doctors are trained to ask these days. But RCTs are a big hammer. But not everything is a nail:

And then there is the “Evidence-Based Medicine Complex” within which RCTs are embedded:

The entire thread is well worth a read, and I will be interested to see if our medical experts have further thoughts.

“Government oversight of COVID air cleaners leaves gaping holes” [Fortune]. “Electronic air cleaners, heavily marketed to gyms, doctors’ offices and hospitals, companies and schools awash in federal COVID relief funds, tend to use high-voltage charges to alter molecules in the air. The companies selling the devices say they can destroy pathogens and clean the air. But academic air quality experts say the technology can be ineffective or potentially create harmful byproducts. Companies that make the devices are subject to virtually no standardized testing or evaluation of their marketing claims. A KHN investigation this spring found that over 2,000 schools across the country have bought such technology. ‘That’s one of the reasons these companies thrive, is that there’s nobody, nobody checking every aspect of what they do,’ said Delphine Farmer, a Colorado State University associate professor who specializes in atmospheric and indoor chemistry. An alphabet soup of federal agencies have truth-in-advertising or product medical device oversight powers but have done little about air cleaners or left broad loopholes. That has left a handful of states to take the most decisive action on the industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not regulate the devices but, like academic air quality experts, recommends time-tested portable HEPA filters to clean the air in rooms. In comparison, ionizing and dry hydrogen peroxide air purifiers have a ‘less-documented track record’ in air cleaning, the CDC says. The CDC also urges consumers to research the technology and ‘request testing data.’ Those reports, though, can be difficult to parse. They include arcane terms like “natural decay” and test conditions that only an expert could spot as different from those that prevail in real life.” • So, the CDC is dragged, kicking and screaming, into accepting aerosol transmission. Do they then take the obvious next step, and regulate or at least jawbone the air cleaner industry? Need I ask? The light irony of “less-documented track record” for machines sold — in what I hope are deals totally on the up-and-up — to busy, non-expert local school boards is not enough. I have questioned before what business the CDC is really in, and it would seem they’re in the business of enabling cheapjack hustlers to thrive, and I don’t only mean people like Fauci or Big Pharma executives.

“Fauci says that based on current data from CDC, FDA, there’s no need for booster shot” [The Hill]. “‘No, there’s a lot of work going on to examine this in real time to see if we might need a boost, but right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don’t feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted,’ Fauci added. Tapper asked, ‘I wonder, are you worried at all that if the CDC and FDA change their recommendations and boosters do become recommended in a few months, that some Americans will see this as, and some demagogues in the media and politics will portray this as, another flip-flop and it will undercut trust in the FDA and CDC?’ Fauci acknowledged that Tapper raised a valid point but explained that the CDC and FDA were working off of current data.”

“Is Mixing Vaccines More Effective?” [Bloomberg]. “Last week, we published an article on drug-company executives seeking to boost their own immunity by mixing shots. But it’s more than just a trend among wealthy people.” • Great.

“The decline in Covid-19 preceded vaccines. But we need jabs to finish the job” [STAT]. “Nearly 50 years ago, medical sociologists John and Sonja McKinlay examined death rates from 10 serious diseases: tuberculosis, scarlet fever, influenzae, pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, smallpox, typhoid, and polio. In each case, the new therapy or vaccine credited with overcoming it was introduced well after the disease was in decline. More recently, historian Thomas McKeown noted that deaths from bronchitis, pneumonia, and influenza had begun rapidly falling 35 years before the introduction of new medicines that were credited with their conquest. There are two ways to develop immunity: natural infection and vaccination. The best explanation for declining rates of Covid-19 appears to be previous infections, which vary considerably from state to state. Individuals with confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses are only the tip of the iceberg. Although estimates vary, the most recent study from the National Institutes of Health suggests that about five people were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, for each person with a confirmed case. Multiplying known cases by five yields a rough estimate of the number of people who may have been infected. I performed a simple calculation of what I call the natural immunity rate by dividing my estimate of the number of people naturally infected by SARS-CoV-2 by the population of the state. By mid-February 2021, an estimated 150 million people in the U.S. (30 million times five) may have had been infected with SARS-CoV-2.” • Yikes.

“Why the Most Unusual Covid Cases Matter” [New York Times]. “Throughout the pandemic, there have been various kinds of medical anomalies. There are people who test positive for months and others who never get infected despite living in close quarters with Covid sufferers. Such surprising cases are often declared “outliers” and shrugged off (and, indeed, should be downplayed when designing public health policies for the general population), but unusual examples of any disease can offer important insights for scientists, and most critically, lead to new medicines for that illness and others…. One famous example of a treatment arising from someone who is seemingly impervious to a disease: Stephen Crohn, whose partner became ill in 1978 with the disease later known as AIDS, became a beacon of hope for a new medication. Mr. Crohn’s partner died, and so did many of his friends in the gay community, as H.I.V. spread during the 1980s. But Mr. Crohn did not fall ill. And when scientists tried to infect his cells in the lab with the virus, they couldn’t. A genetic mutation in a receptor on the surface of his cells made it impossible for the virus to enter them. That rare mutation, called delta 32, inspired an antiviral drug called maraviroc.”

* * *

Seems to be fomite day:

“Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security” [Guardian]. “Hygiene theatre can be actively dangerous because it prevents people from making informed choices about the levels of risk they’re willing to accept in their lives. “Your feelings of safety have to be science-based,” says Peters. “People can make their own judgment calls about the risks they are willing to tolerate, but the key is for people to understand how Covid spreads.” She fears that hygiene theatre causes people to avoid taking the mitigating measures that actually would reduce risk, such as opening windows or investing in high-efficiency particulate air purifiers. “In a restaurant,” Peters says, “instead of looking at how many hand sanitisers there are on the table, people should be looking at reassurances around the air exchanges.” With all restrictions on indoor contact likely to cease in England on 19 July, correctly assessing the level of risk in any given setting will be crucial. In short, it’s time to finally do away with hygiene theatre.”

“Fomites and the COVID-19 pandemic: An evidence review on its role in viral transmission” [Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health]. From Canada. “Although limited, current evidence indicates that the risk of infection from fomites is low, and fomites are not likely to be the major transmission pathway for SARS-CoV-2 in most situations. However, SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been found on environmental surfaces in hospital rooms, quarantine rooms, and other community settings, implying that the surfaces can become contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 despite few studies being able to culture live viruses.46,52,79-82 Additionally, new variants with potentially greater transmissibility continue to emerge, and they may behave differently on surfaces than the strains that have been studied to date. It is important to continue to follow the multilayered control measures approach in order to sever the chain of transmission at all possible links, including proper hand hygiene and appropriate cleaning and disinfection. Given that available evidence suggests that droplet and aerosol transmission continue to be the primary transmission route for SARS-CoV-2, it would be prudent to balance surface disinfection with other interventions to prevent droplet and aerosol transmission. Public health messaging should also emphasize the safe use of disinfection products to prevent acute and chronic health impacts from overuse and misuse of these products. To learn more about the overuse and misuse of disinfectant products, please see the NCCEH resource: “A rapid review of disinfectant chemical exposures and health effects during COVID-19 pandemic.” • If fomites are a concern for you, bookmark this,

“A pilot metagenomic study reveals that community derived mobile phones are reservoirs of viable pathogenic microbes” [Nature]. The Abstract: “There is increasing attention focussed on the risks associated with mobile phones possibly serving as ‘Trojan Horse’ fomites for microbial transmission in healthcare settings. However, little is reported on the presence of microbes on community derived mobile phones which in 2021, numbered in the billions in circulation with majority being used on a daily basis. Identify viable microbial organisms swabbed from smartphones on a university campus. Entire surfaces of 5 mobile phones were swabbed and examined for their microbial content using pre-agar-based growths followed by downstream DNA metagenomic next-generation sequencing analysis. All phones were contaminated with viable microbes. 173 bacteria, 8 fungi, 8 protists, 53 bacteriophages, 317 virulence factor genes and 41 distinct antibiotic resistant genes were identified. While this research represents a pilot study, the snapshot metagenomic analysis of samples collected from the surface of mobile phones has revealed the presence of a large population of viable microbes and an array of antimicrobial resistant factors. With billions of phones in circulation, these devices might be responsible for the rise of community acquired infections. These pilot results highlight the importance of public health authorities considering mobile phones as ‘Trojan Horse’ devices for microbial transmission and ensure appropriate decontamination campaigns are implemented.” • No epidemiological studies on this, so far as I know.

Water

“Over $1 Billion In Marijuana Plants Seized In Antelope Valley Drug Bust” [Valley Post News (Laura in So Cal)]. “In 2020, there were an estimated 150 illegal cannabis operations in the Antelope Valley, growing to over 500 in 2021, a majority of which are connected to drug cartels, according to the sheriff…. Cartel members were threatening residents and stealing millions of gallons of water from the already limited supply in the desert, according to Villanueva…. ‘What began as water theft, has exploited to become the infiltration of organized crime groups in the Antelope Valley who are operating internationally,’ [Supervisor Kathryn Barger] said.” • I originally had this filed under “The 420,” but I think not.

Zeitgeist Watch

People making extravagantly repulsive food-like dishes is apparently a thing on Tik-Tok, and some of it bleeds over onto the Twitter. Here is Apple in that cultural moment:

This is not exactly the all-white, blond-wood Apple Store look, is it? Plus, the dude is — there’s no other word for this — pudgy. What happened to thin?

“Freedom” has a subtext:

“To ‘t, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.” –William Shakespeare, King Lear, the curmudgeon di tutti curmudgeons….

News of the Wired

Neat:

* * *

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 (HH):

HH writes: “Looks like it may be a good year for pears in Central Texas, if we can keep the trees watered through the predicted drought.”

* * *

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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!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

72 comments

  1. farmboy

    Both winter and spring wheats are curtailed by first drought and then heat in the PNW through to Minnesota. Drought maps of the northern tier of states and southern Canada have been ominous for weeks, months. Today USDA, through its survey and analysis functions of NASS, forecast the Soft White Wheat crop to be 181m/bu, nearly 53 m/bu less than last year and the Hard Red Spring wheat crop at 306 m/bu to be 225m/bu less than last year. HRS is milling wheat, for bread, the end users have been working the futures market trying to get adequate suppliers for the next year and now they will have no choice but to pay up, futures up $.35 today.
    SWW is 90% exported out of Portland and nearby ports. East Asia is the destination for the bulk of sales with China taking the biggest share. With quality issues for SWW, it’ll be tough to source what the buyers are looking for with discounts blowing out. Australian Hard White wheat is the main competitor.
    As usual when prices make these kind of historic moves, farmers have half a crop to sell.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-weather-agriculture/wither-away-and-die-u-s-pacific-northwest-heat-wave-bakes-wheat-fruit-crops-idUSKBN2EI11P

    Reply
  2. upstater

    re Hygiene theatre… I dunno, but I kind of liked getting on a thoroughly cleaned airliner for my travels to visit my late mother and for her service in winter. Not having a stained tray, sticky arm rests, a smeared window, stained carpeting and a seat back pocket filled with trash had been really nice. Prior to COVID cruddy planes and airports were pretty standard. I guess the airlines will save a lot of money returning to the standard once-a-night, semi-cleaning program.

    Reply
  3. SD

    Re: The WSJ’s write-up on shipping-related costs hitting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) especially hard: I’ve been “treating myself” lately to full-cost shipping by buying the products I want directly from the SMBs (via their websites) who make great stuff. Occasionally, this means shipping costs that are a significant percentage of the costs of the goods before shipping.

    The principal reason I’m doing this is because Amazon is so thoroughly flooded with counterfeit goods and fake reviews that I just don’t trust it anymore. I also loathe what Amazon has done to our supply chains–and not just for consumer goods–but that’s secondary.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      I’ve been boycotting Amazon for years out of loathing for what it has done not just to supply chains but to the crapification of jobs, governments, politics, the environment and the world. But I’m glad you finally got to the same place for whatever reason, SD.

      Hey, folks, that petition to deny Bezos re-entrance to the world from space only has 156,000 signatures. Sign here and share:
      https://www.change.org/p/the-proletariat-do-not-allow-jeff-bezos-to-return-to-earth

      Reply
      1. Josef K

        Kudos to both for voting with your dollars.

        It’s obvious Jeff Bezos is a very bad actor, and not in the Steven Seagal sense. All one has to do is not buy from Amazon. Is that so difficult? I ocassionally check prices there for comparison, when doing so the unnavigability of the site is mind-boggling: it seems any search leads to a million results with little rhyme or reason (or relation to what I’m searching for).
        Add to that the counterfitting problem. It’s basically a lowest-common-denominator dump.

        Reply
      2. Josef K

        Kudos to both of you for voting with your dollars.

        Since it’s been demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jeff Bezos is a bad actor in society, at least the amazon retail side of his operation (no knowledge or comment on AWS), and his website is hard to navigate, produces poor search results, and is peppered with fakes, boycotting it shouldn’t be that hard.

        I’m convinced that “free shipping” and huge increases in shipping costs at the counter for us mopes is intimately related.

        Reply
  4. Thistlebreath

    Mike Garcia and Kathy Barger are all in on Trump. Their shrill cries of alarm at the weed with roots in hell is pure grandstanding, stump thumping, a run up to the house election hysteria. Mike won his seat by a wafer thin margin.

    In other news…..

    Alarms sounded over diversion of water to campaign donors who grow high water consuming nut and fruit trees in deserts: 0.

    Alarmist headlines about the Sackler Family Trust’s scarpering away with their fortunes intact after flooding areas like the Antelope (Palmdale/Lancaster) with Oxy. Crickets.

    And as for that pesky Middle East ratline of opium/morphine/heroin production, more crickets.

    The water table in the Antelope is now below 600 ft, drawn down by decades of field-crop-and-abandon practices from reliable campaign donors. Yet more crickets.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Alarms sounded over diversion of water to campaign donors who grow high water consuming nut and fruit trees in deserts: 0.

      Good point! I guess the difference is that Big Ag leaves the neighbors alone. Thanks for the “Cactus Curtain” detail.

      Reply
    1. John Zelnicker

      Lambert – I’ve scanned for updates and don’t see any. I refreshed the page which I loaded just after I got the email, I’ve clicked the link at the top of this page, and I’ve started back at the email. Except for more comments the post doesn’t seem any different than the original.

      What am I missing?

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    “[T]he harsh weather accentuated what was already a hot, dry year in a region that produces a significant share of U.S. agriculture exports. Washington’s wheat growers, who mostly rely on rainfall for their crops, are expecting a large drop-off in production, and cherry growers are expecting lower yields.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Shockingly, Washington cherries were just 98 Cents a pound today @ WinCo supermarket. I’ve never paid so little per pound, ever.

    Reply
  6. Lou Anton

    Lambert, thanks for linking to the CDC community report. There’s underlying data there too. Love the county level detail here. With infection rates AND vaccination rates at the county level that this provides, we’ll be able to see if/when variants start breaking through.

    Either that or they’ll stop sharing the dataset.

    Reply
    1. IM Doc

      I have not had time to look at these county level graphs very well – I will do so a bit later – having a very busy day.

      I would urge one bit of caution in this whole experience. My own county has stopped reliably counting cases sometime in the middle of May. What is currently being reported in my county in this system has no chance of being correct. Why? I personally have had more COVID positive patients than is reported for the whole county.

      I know from colleagues all over the country that this is true. We are just no longer counting cases especially among the vaccinated. Where I live, they simply do not want to hear if a vaccinated patient is positive.

      Totally moronic – but it is what it is.

      At this point, the far more important numbers that have a chance of being reliable are the hospitalization numbers – and eventually God forbid – the death numbers. They simply cannot fudge those very well at all.

      My own practice from JUL 5th to JUL11th – yielded 19 positive and symptomatic COVID cases – 17 were vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated. All with one exception mild cases – and the really sick one is already getting better – but it was dicey for a day or two. To put the above numbers in perspective – I live in a county where 54% of age 18-70 are vaccinated – and 92% of those above 70 are vaccinated. Of the 17 positives I had last week – only 3 were in the above 70 group. The only sick one was the only one who had morbid pre-existing conditions, all else were healthy at baseline.

      I cannot say this too many times. These vaccines are clearly non-sterilizing. For whatever reason, our health agencies have decided not to follow the protocol in the event that happens.

      Until we have an idea where this going – I am reverting back to our prevaccine summer and fall recommendations – It is incumbent on everyone of us to reduce our risk factors – LOSE WEIGHT – GET YOUR BLOOD SUGAR DOWN – EXERCISE HARD – GET ON THE VIT D 2000 daily – GET OUT IN THE SUN – AND GET THE POVIDONE READY TO GO.

      Reply
      1. Lou Anton

        Really appreciate this, Doc. Good reminder that the reporting is only as good as the dataset and the quality of its lowest level of disaggregation.

        Reply
        1. QuicksilverMessenger

          Yves has been writing about this for a while as it looks to be a virucidal. I purchased some and have started the nasal regimen. There are a number of links and studies out there now. I think doing a search for ‘povidone iodine covid’ will get plenty of results

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Apparently, we were onto Povidone on or before February 12, 2020.

            I cannot find our original Link, because even though Google has plenty of results for the year, it claims there are no results when I restrict by date. I am so sick of being unable to find material that I know exists. It’s like Google sets the Library of Alexandria on fire on a daily basis, making us more and more stupid.

            Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Qwant are equally sucky. And of course our own backstage search is borked. So I’d be patting NC on the back for being early and right, if only I could prove it.

            Thank you,

            Reply
            1. Acacia

              Not to sound like too much of a nit pick, but that link goes to February 2021.

              It is indeed maddening that Google seems to have memory loss at the scale of multiple data centers (do they care?). I was able to do this search (note the date in the URL path):

              povidone site:www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020

              …to find the earliest mention of Povidone was a comment I posted on August 4th, 2020. Actually, there was one mention of Povidone on NC in 2019, but it concerned disinfecting cat scratches (with apologies to Ted Nugent ;).

              Reply
        2. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

          Several studies have found OTC povidone-iodine gargle solutions can help prevent Covid. Here is a link to one study from U. Conn: Simple Oral Rinse Can Inactivate Covid-19. Based on someone here on NC’s recommendation, I recently purchased some Betadine (a brand of povidone-iodine solution) as a precaution (note: the manufacturer denies it has an effect against Covid). I feel better having it on hand, regardless.

          Reply
        3. IM Doc

          You can call me old-fashioned.

          Povidone has been used since I was a young doctor – and by my forebears back to the day it was invented – as a sterilizer of the nasopharynx.
          Old fashioned – I know – but it really seems to work –
          It is very important that you get the right dilution. It is 30:1 of the surgical type.
          But you can easily make a batch – and then keep it on hand and gargle daily.
          There is ample evidence of its both bactericidal and viricidal properties.

          This link is probably one of the best done studies/reviews about this issue out there. And it also has the benefit of actual testing of SARS COV1 – a close relative of COVID. Povidone was instantly viricidal to SARS COV1 and multiple other viruses as you can see – as well as some really important bacterial pathogens.

          Reply
          1. Utah

            If I have a history of graves disease that is currently in remission without any medicine usage, would iodine (providone) be contraindicated? I know you’re not my doctor, but my doctor thinks these vaccines are a cure all. I tend to avoid iodine, even iodized salt if I can help it.

            Reply
            1. IM Doc

              In the past years, I have spoken to endocrinology specialists about this.

              The ingestion of large amounts of iodine can indeed make some hyperthyroid states worse. It would however require much much more of a dosage load then this would cause. You are not actually investing it. It is a gargle, swish and spit. Followed by the same swish and spit with a mouthful of water a few times.

              Fern, I would be very interested to see the paper you are referring to. I have never known this to harm a single patient in 30 years of flu seasons. I cannot fathom a 20% thyroid damage issue.

              Reply
              1. Utah

                Thanks for that information, IM Doc. I’ve tried to be so careful because I know graves can come back, but it might be worth the risk to avoid covid. And it doesn’t sound like there is too much of a risk.

                Reply
              2. Yves Smith

                When I made my 1% homebrew (stronger than the Japanese mouthwash) I did so after finding a study that said povidone gargles and nose sprays had been tested at strengths up to 2.5% for six months with no ill effect.

                Reply
        4. Fern

          One published research letter said that 42% of covid patients treated with topical providine for 5 days had abnormal thyroid readings. Again, that’s only for 5 days. I’m wondering what the effect would be if it is applied daily over a long period of time?

          It’s not something I would feel comfortable exposing these delicate tissues to on a daily basis in the absence of thorough safety studies.

          https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/2775984

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            Topical povidone is not what we are talking about!!!! That would make you sick.

            Topical povidone is 10%.

            We are talking about diluting it to gargle strength, which is 0.5% to 1.0%, a 10X to 20X dilution.

            Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          gargle it when ya get home.
          use the mouthwash, not the stuff they use for surgical prep.
          it’s abundant everywhere i’ve looked for it, since i first read about it on NC, maybe a year or more ago….walgreens, cvs and our local pop and pop pharmacy.
          kills virii in and around your mouth/nose/throat, which is where it gains entry, and where it might be hanging out after an outing among the mundanes.

          two guys at the end of my road just got diagnosed with covid…one…88 years old, bowlegged and the spitting image of PI Parker…drives a cattle truck all over the country…and is doing just fine.
          the other, the nephew,…maybe late 50’s…works cattle in the pens at the feedlot…and is also a righty/maga guy…is doing poorly.
          neither have been vaxxed…the former, because he’s lived like a cowboy his whole life(“…his horse and his saddle are his only companions…”, etc), and it probably never occurred to him.
          the latter, because “It Ain’t Real!”
          former is one of the most genuinely decent people i’ve ever known…the latter, not so much,lol.

          Reply
        2. jr

          https://www.instacart.com/landing?product_id=22026350&retailer_id=231&region_id=1826330878&mrid=402536653&utm_source=instacart_bing&utm_medium=sem_shopping&utm_campaign=ad_demand_shopping_food_ny_nyc_bing&utm_content=accountid-146005746_campaignid-367540450_adgroupid-1207264161960608_device-c&utm_term=matchtype-e_keyword-_targetid-pla-4579053615929051_locationid-&msclkid=2fb4410254361114b69b21ee8123a49c

          An NIH study I found which I cannot re-find recommended gargling at least 30 seconds for cleansing and a two hour window of protection.

          Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘At this point, the far more important numbers that have a chance of being reliable are the hospitalization numbers – and eventually God forbid – the death numbers. They simply cannot fudge those very well at all.’

        Going by what has happened in the past, the death numbers will be fudged by having the death certificate simply read that the death was caused by ‘infection of unknown origin.’

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think we can assume that the numbers are fudged downward, whether accidentally, accidentally-on-purpose, or on purpose.

          That makes any rise all the more significant.

          Reply
      3. Mikel

        “My own practice from JUL 5th to JUL11th – yielded 19 positive and symptomatic COVID cases – 17 were vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated.”

        If you recall, which vaccines had they taken? And how long had it been since their last shot?

        Reply
        1. IM Doc

          Around here, it has been 45/45 Pfizer and moderna, the other 10 are j and j. It is happening to all of them.

          The older patients are now out about 6 months. Most everyone who has been vaccinated was done with it in early April. Then the vaccination numbers fell off the cliff. So all these patients were theoretically fully vaccinated.

          Reply
      4. Aumua

        My own practice from JUL 5th to JUL11th – yielded 19 positive and symptomatic COVID cases – 17 were vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated.

        I have a hard time rectifying this statement with (regular) headlines like this one from the LA times:

        “L.A. County sees new significant rise in COVID-19 cases, 99% involved the unvaccinated”

        I wonder how you might explain the apparent disconnect between your findings of ~90% vaccinated for covid positive cases and others’ apparently regular findings of 95% or greater unvaccinated for covid positive cases?

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Did you miss our posts and comments on the fact that the CDC is not counting Covid cases among the vaccinated unless they wind up in the hospital? And public health authorities are falling in with the CDC?

          This is just pervasive, deliberate bogus reporting.

          Reply
          1. Basil Pesto

            I’m reading Seymour Hersh’s autobiography at the moment, parts about his early Vietnam reporting. Taking IM Doc’s dispatches as true, while reading Hersh’s accounts of journalistic practice in the 1960s (which was by no means universally good, back in the day), would indeed cast modern reporting in a very dim light indeed. (bad) Covid journalism as (bad) Vietnam journalism?

            Reply
            1. PlutoniumKun

              Thats a brilliant book, well worth reading.

              I’m sure there is an element of selective memory about the ‘good old days’, but its pretty clear that there are very few Seymour Hersh’s around anymore. The remaining ‘good’ journalists are often highly ideological, which can be a problem, even if they share my ideology. Hersh simply followed the evidence relentlessly, nothing more.

              Reply
            2. Procopius

              There were stories, back then, about how publishers were forcing editors to suppress the reporting from Vietnam in favor of the news releases from their friends in the Pentagon. A particularly egregious offender was Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life Magazines. He was the son of missionaries in China, very conservative, fanatic anti-Communist, and blamed the State Department for “losing” China, as if it was ours. People often blame the reporters, and we’re seeing some terrible examples nowadays, but forget the editors really control what gets printed, and the publishers control who the editors are.

              Reply
          2. Aumua

            I’m definitely willing to consider the possibility that such headlines are outright fabrications, and are even the complete opposite of the truth, but also that’s an extraordinary claim and you know what they say about those. If it is true then that would be disturbing indeed.

            Reply
        2. IM Doc

          If you look at the numbers coming from Israel and the UK where the counting standards are not so arbitrary, you will see a very similar case percentage as what I am seeing. Also please realize it had not been so lopsided in the past two weeks since we started seeing symptomatic positives again. In total more like 60-40 with most being vaccinated. Mine is an anecdotal case series in a big picture.

          My original point is that case numbers at this point are a very unreliable metric because of the way it is being done.

          Our national health agencies decided for reasons they think are very good to literally quit counting vaccinated patients unless they are in the hospital or dead. There are all kinds of variation in counting across our country as local health departments follow the lead.

          When Fauci makes statements like 99% of the deaths are in the unvaccinated I just do not know where that is coming from. I have seen enough news reports in the USA that could dispute that. It certainly is not the case in the UK or Israel. You can see this easily in the weekly numbers.

          Reply
  7. Carla

    “If your business depends on the climate, you don’t have a business?”

    If your dinner depends on the climate (and it does), you don’t have dinner…

    Reply
  8. ambrit

    Curmudgeonly Geezer Non Politically Correct Querry.
    I have decided to ‘self censor’ this time. Don’t ask me why. Such decisions follow an at best skewed and twisty logic. The older I get, the more I realize just how “not with it” I have always been.
    To paraphrase Orwell; “We have always been at war with ourselves.”

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. The use of “uncle joe” to refer to Biden makes me wonder if his handlers are thinking of modelling him more on FDR contemporary “Uncle Joe” Stalin than the heretical oligarch of Hyde Park.

        Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    VISALIA – A month before Visalia was set to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day, the city council voted to expand a program honoring those who keep the country free from foreign attack.

    At its June 7 meeting, the Visalia City Council unanimously approved expanding The BRAVE Project, which allows banners honoring local, active military men and women to hang from streetlight poles throughout the city.

    The Brave Project was founded by Gary and Jana Cole, in partnership with the American Legion, in 2012 with the purpose of honoring citizens of the city of Visalia presently serving on active duty in the United States military. BRAVE, is an acronym for Banners Recognizing & Appreciating Visalia’s Elite. The project originally started on Caldwell Avenue from Santa Fe Street to Akers Street and Demaree Street between Orchard Court and Visalia Parkway.

    https://thesungazette.com/article/visalia/2021/07/07/visalia-expands-project-as-home-of-the-brave/
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We’re about to leave with tales between our legs from the ‘stanbox, but luckily our local ‘ elite heroes’ will hang out and watch over us, their main accomplishment being that they enlisted in the armed forces.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Somehow, this isn’t how we imagined “hanging from lampposts” would end up. Though, it is poetic; our ‘heros’ left dangling in the breeze, a prey to whichever ill wind blows their way. Thus are the Elite’s minions rewarded for their sacrifices.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        There was a notorious cat burglar in LA in the 60’s or 70’s who evaded the coppers on many an occasions even in close proximity by hiding in trees, rooftops, etc.

        He claimed the constables never looked up, so our pseudo elite echelon may be even more ignored than imagined, and old banners never die, they just fade, fade away.

        Reply
    2. fresno dan

      that is just pathetic. Wasn’t it if we don’t fight them over there, we will fight them over here?

      Reply
  10. ambrit

    Mr Escher’s Office would be an illustration of?
    Overton’s Window cleaning 101.
    The old run around.
    Hyper intersectionality.
    Lovecraftian political geometry.
    Unipartisanship. Parts A and B.
    Dr. Funkenstein Meets the Parliament!!! (No one will be allowed in for the last five minutes.)
    D of C Rehab. {Introducing the 12 to Infinity Step Program.}
    Etc. Etc.

    Reply
  11. djrichard

    The Economy: “What Decade Are We In?” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. Tom Barkin, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

    We’re in the 4th decade of the yield on the 10Y treasury continuing its descent from when Paul Volcker pulled the rug out from underneath labor.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my mother’s teaching colleagues had this as a side effect to the 1976 swine flu. Mom said that her colleague’s recovery was long and slow.

      Reply
    2. Keith

      Not sure if correlation equals to causation, but I recently got the J&J vaccine (maybe a week and a half ago), aside from the fatigue and a little nausea, I was hit with some serious gastric distress the day after with some intense abdominal pain (not constant to indicate blood clot), but the end result was my diverticulitis was activated/flared up. I am still slowly digging myself out of that hole with a lot of fasting. FDA doesn’t link gastric distress with J&J, but the timing is very suspicious to me.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        I’ve had that. Took forever and a day to get that danged diverticulitis out of my body.

        What’s helping me keep it away is the Joint Warfare supplement I bought from a company I read about on NC last summer. That would be Origin USA.

        Joint Warfare has turmeric in it, and it really agrees with my gut.

        Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    “Those who want immediate shipments often must pay about three times the going freight cost, part of a “bidding war” that has pushed asking prices for late bookings beyond $20,000 per 40-foot container. Shipping executives say rising freight costs are the result of disruptions across supply chains that triggered delays at ports and inland distribution networks. Things aren’t expected to ease before the end of the year.” • If your business depends on containers, you don’t have a business?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I haven’t kept up with the used TEU trade, but they used to fetch $2-4k for decent ones in the USA, might there be arbitrage possibilities in bringing them back to the Orient?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s very interesting, thank you, and consistent with the idea (I hope I summarize this accurately) that although Covid is transmitted and presents via the respiratory systems (coughing, lung damage) it is in fact a vascular disease.

      Reply

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