2:00PM Water Cooler 9/13/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I had a power failure today, and that put me behind the eight-ball. That’s too bad, because I had a lot to say! Tomorrow for that. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! Here is a skeleton post, with bird song, charts, and a plant. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

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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….

We already start to an instant rebound from Labor Day, I assume because reporting is returning to normal. Nevertheless, Labor Day, as the end of summer, also signals life changes for Americans, so those changes will affect the numbers too. We shall see!

Vaccination by region:

Interesting little blip. If it persists, credit to Biden.

53.8% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Ecuador, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

I’m almost inclined to call the last peak and, as in December and January of last year, worry about the next peak from school re-opening. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January. The populations are different, though. This one is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: If the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible.

Covid cases top ten states for the last four weeks:

Fresh-squeezed numbers from Florida.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 10, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

The Midwest still improving. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers, so the case chart still has momentum. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

Hospitalization (CDC):

Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the source above:

Deaths (Our World in Data):

We are now well past the peak of last year at this time. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.)

Covid cases worldwide:

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “We bought a little house in Running Springs, California some 15+ years ago that stands directly across the street from this beautiful conifer. We’ve long considered that this may be the tree version of Damocles Sword. Thankfully, our prayers and these roots (and hopefully many unseen roots) continue to hold it erect.”

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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:

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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.


  1. FreeMarketApologist

    Thanks for the rapid riser counties report. My county in upstate NY changed status from gray to red as of the 9/10 report, and I’m only surprised it hadn’t changed earlier — although people are still pretty good about masking up — the kids at the local college (who are back to in-person classes) are better than many of the locals. The biggest ‘offenders’ appear to me to be the 30-40 year olds, across the spectrum of economic / political / social affiliations.

  2. griffen

    Climbing into the Wayback Machine, this week in 2008 Lehman brothers was cratering and AIG was hot on their heels. Washington Mutual got merged and subsumed into JP Morgan. Wachovia Bank was quickly following.

    SNL coverage put it succinctly, “if you sponsor a golf tournament you’re screwed”.

    Every day it was a new turn of events. And none if it the good kind, exactly, but it was notice the game was being played differently.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Ahhh, Wachovia Bank. IIRC, it was acquired by First Union, which adopted the name of the acquired firm, as it had come to be known — due to its unfriendly treatment of retail customers — by the initials of its name.

      1. Clark

        Mr. Conner’s comment about Wachovia and FU [sic] Bank brings back memories. I was born and raised in North Carolina (with a brief stint as a child in LA), but for decades I’ve been a resident of Tennessee. … There’s a landmark in downtown Nashville known to locals as the “Bat Building.” It was once branded “BellSouth,” but that moniker died in a few years. It was the AT&T Building for a bit. Then, it was named for First Union after their rapacious acquisitions of regional banks including Wachovia. … I always marveled at the expense and difficult labor it must have taken to change those big signs on a 33-story building. (The signs are perched on a 30-35 degree sloping surface of glass panes. My estimate of the grade before one drops off a 90-degree glass cliff is a guess from ground-level observation.) … I have no idea how those windows are cleaned. From my armchair view, I’d rather be the guys sitting on the beams on the Empire State Building, eating their lunch, than be a roped-in window-cleaner for this urban nightmare. … Presently, 333 Commerce Street has a “US Bank” sign on top.

    2. Screwball

      I remember it well. On the 15th was Lehman. That was the same day I walked out of a job due to being fed up with the BS and would rather be home watching the banking world go up in flames. I still call it my “Lehman” moment, and never regretted doing it.

      I spent the following year watching all the horror stories from the fallout including every single time the clowns in DC yanked the banksters in front of them so they could create sound bytes for their adoring constituents. Watching those $hitshows was quite the eye opener. Until then, I never really knew how utterly useless and inept these people are (congress). Every hearing I watched made me furious.

      They bailed them out; first Hanky Panky’s 3 page get out of jail free card bailout, to weasel dick Timmy Geithner foam the runway BS. More bailouts, the HAMP debacle, QE, QE2, 3, and then Operation Twist, more BS from Obama, CONgress, and whoever else decided to spew garbage.

      At the time, it was biggest heist in the history of the world from the poor to the rich. It still chaps my behind today. Funny, 9/11 was a tragedy and they say never forget. I’m ok with that, but I, myself, will never forget the scam pulled on the American people after the GFC of 08/09 and the people who caused it, the people who made it worse, and the people who continued to put the banksters and wealthy ahead of the people who lost the most and had their lives changed forever by that giant swindle.

      I also remember the picture and even a song; Jump you (family blog) which I still use as my avatar in some places.

      I will NEVER forget.


      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Our politicians considered Blankfein and Dimon to be the real “essential workers.” For what and to whom I’ll leave to you.

      2. Victoria

        Don’t forget OneWest. That was the bank that the bankster, later treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin owned. He got away with screwing over 35,000 California homeowners out of their property through illegal foreclosures.

        The “people’s advocate” attorney general Kamala Harris, gave him a free get out of jail card, for which he later tipped her senate campaign generously. Always good to have people indebted to you in high places.

        “One West Bank currently owns and operates 73 banks throughout Southern California and holds over 23 billion in assets. On July 11th, 2008 the Office of Thrift Supervision closed IndyMac Bank FSB and named the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) the conservator. Less than one year later on March 19th, 2009 a shell company set up by Steve Mnuchin named IMB HoldCo LLC set up a new Federal Savings Bank called OneWest Bank, and began buying up IndyMac assets from the FDIC.”


        1. Tom Stone

          That Kindness to Steve Mnuchin did not go unremarked among those that matter and it definitely had quite a bit to do with her becoming VP despite polling at less than 2% in her home state.
          Pause a moment and reflect on your home state, would your AG poll that badly if they had also been DA in your state’s second most important city?
          The good news is that Dr Jill has a long memory and never forgets a slight, thus the various no win jobs Ms Harris has been given.
          Biden/Harris represent two wings of the Dem Party, Aristo’s and uppity Plebes.
          Governor Noisome is definitely in the Aristo camp with some support from the plebes through Willie Brown’s machine.
          Because Willie always coppers his bets, he is a political genius of the first water.

        2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          I’m tweeting this info to my (half MAGA) followers. The collusion between Trump adjacents and Biden adjacents needs more publicity.

          1. griffen

            Great point you make. It would be helpful for all to understand better, just how much the FDIC offered up to investor groups for acquiring failed institutions. Mileage varied with circumstances.

            At the time, the regulator was offering a ring fence program that often shielded the “new ownership” from the worst dreck in the asset and loan portfolio.

            Back to your point, it’s a big club and we ain’t in it.

  3. Lee

    “I’m almost inclined to call the last peak …”

    Between those who’ve gotten the shot and those who have immunity from being naturally infected, the number of potential viral victims must be pretty seriously diminished, at least for the time being until immunity wanes, whenever that might be, or when an evasive variant pops up. I’m wondering if vaccine drip feeds could become a thing.

    1. clarky90

      A tip of the hat to “Scarfie”. This is the first comment in the comment section. (I love reading comments!) This post is from New Zealand.


      “by scarfie | 14th Sep 21, 7:52am

      “I’m in day 12 of managed isolation after returning from a business trip to Zambia.

      Covid is functionally over in Zambia, or I would not have been invited.

      Stats for you guys. Population around 18m. Covid deaths 3600, case numbers 207K, vaccine rate about 2%.

      Covid was managed without lockdown. They did close schools, restaurants and bars. Bars and restaurants re-opened in the two weeks I was there. Zambia could not afford lockdowns.

      Personally I didn’t wear a mask unless it was courteous to do so, didn’t social distance and shook everyones’s hand. The locals liked that I did that and I got a lot of kudos for it. I wanted to give my immune system a look at the virus, and I back myself not to catch it.

      At the lodge where I stayed I had a chat with the 70 year old Scottish woman managing the place. She’d had a mild dose of Covid back in Scotland. Of the sixty native Zambians working at the lodge they only had four mild cases.

      The company that I consult to has similar numbers also only had a small number of cases with one woman being hospitalised. That woman is the chef and is obese.

      I socialised with some farmers, three of whom had self treated with Ivermectin and Zinc. They said they felt like they wanted to die for a few days but the treatment cleared the severe symptoms in 48 hours. They were not anti vax, but were well informed about the world not be taking the vaccine. The associate I was working with was anti vax but succumbed to company pressure and had the Johnson and Johnson version. He was pole axed by it, very sick for a week.

      The farmers there in general are probably like farmers everywhere, right wing. They were laughing at the state of the Wests’ response to Covid. Biden in particular is seen as the laughing stock of the world, Jacinda not far behind in locking the country down for one case.

      The trip was a technological success. Perfect combustion for the second time since I’ve worked as a combustion engineer. Thing about that is no one else has done it and it is why they keep me going back.

      Interesting trip that is for sure”.

        1. Objective Ace

          The median age of Zambia is 17 and the life expectancy is 65.

          1) With less older people the country will naturally have less “bad” outcomes
          2) I’m guessing Covid, when weighed against many of the causes of low life expectancy, (like Malaria) is not high enough to note/change your life for the way we do in the West

          1. Lee

            And the rate of obesity in Zambia is about 1/3 that of the U.S.

            I could stand to lose about 5 lbs. but unfortunately I can’t get any younger. It looks like the best we can hope for is to reduce the risk of serious disease and death due to Covid-19 to something on a par the flu. If so it will be just another more or less random bullet for codgers such as myself to dodge. The prospect of becoming a vagabond hermit living in a van or travel trailer becomes ever more inviting.

  4. Samuel Conner

    > power failure today

    if that was due to crapification of infrastructure through ageing with inadequate maintenance, it would bookend nicely the recent post on sewage treatment systems.

  5. Samuel Conner

    A request for feedback from the commentariat (and my apologies to the site principals is this is an improper use of “discuss among yourselves” time):

    I am hoping to install significant numbers of perennial butterfly/hummingbird attractor plants at a local community center.

    The plants are in 12oz and 1 pint pots, 3.5″ square and 2.5″ to 3.5″ deep.

    I’d like to find a digging tool, analogous to a bulb planter, that is appropriately sized to create holes the size and shape of the root balls of these plants, in order to speed the process of installation. The plants are, for the most part, native wildflowers and I’m not planning to put much effort into amending the soil, just “make hole, jam the plant in, and on to the next plant”.

    Google isn’t much help. I imagine that if a tool like this does exist, it would be an usual specialty item and might not come up in searches; everything I’m seeing is the standard small diameter round hole maker for smallish bulbs.

    If anyone has encountered a tool like this, I’d appreciate being pointed toward it.

    Or maybe I should DIY rig one up.

      1. Samuel Conner

        A square post-holer might do the job, if such exist; I could jam the plant into one corner of the hole, which would simplify backfilling. Will look in to that. Thanks!

    1. sjh

      I’d recommend a ‘Japanese hoe’. Best small digging tool ever for me. Has a wicked sharp point with a curved blade. And a sturdy wooded handle. Great for transplanting perennials.

    2. Romancing The Loan

      I have had great success with a battery powered drill, using a very large drill bit, for this purpose.

      1. Gareth

        I’ll second jo6pac on this. These are called garden drills or bulb augers, and the come in many sizes. They work best with a high-torque corded drill a couple of days after a good rain or watering. If you have a certain depth you need to plant to, you can mark it on the bit with a paint pen. Lastly, if you are going deep, you need to call the local utility that marks power and phone lines before getting started.

        1. Lee

          I don’t have any bulbs to plant but there’s something about your linked photo that makes me want to run right out and buy that product.

        2. drsteve0

          Excellent suggestion. I actually use my gas powered (I know) post hole auger to dig holes for setting plants, and break up the rock hard clay. Smaller augers are available that will even work with cordless drills.

      1. Tom Stone

        Animals won’t always dig up Bone Meal, the last large planting I did was 3,000 daffodils and I had the bone meal dug in with a rototiller before topping it off with 17 yards of mulch.
        It was the most fun I have had preparing a place for sale, the landscape budget was $25K.

    3. CuriosityConcern

      Do you know if glycophosphates have been applied to the soil where you intend to plant? If yes, maybe consider reading up on strategies to mitigate the remnants. I could post a 3 hr cannabis centered soil discussion where in the first hour they discuss glycophosphates and touch upon remediation, among other things.

    4. Tim W

      I have used a masonry trowel to good effect. Not the long triangular pointing trowel but one with a short, 4-5″ rectangular blade about 2″ wide. Flexible enough but sturdy too. Cheap at the big-box hardware store but buy several. They fail at the handle/ blade joint after a while.

  6. allan

    U.S. bankruptcy judge approves Purdue Pharma’s $7 mln executive bonus plan [Reuters]

    Purdue Pharma, the bankrupt maker of the OxyContin painkiller, on Monday obtained court approval to pay up to $7.1 million in incentive payments for five top executives if they meet certain goals, despite opposition from U.S. government lawyers.

    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, signed off on the executive incentive plan at the conclusion of a virtual hearing. …

    The judge said repeatedly during Monday’s hearing that he does not consider the incentive payments “bonuses” because even if they are paid out in full, the executives would still only fall in the middle of the total compensation range for executives at major pharmaceutical companies. The incentive payments, he said, are essentially part of the executives’ salaries, he added. …

    “No doubt my ruling will be construed by some as authorizing large bonuses to executives. I do not believe that is in fact the case here,” he added. “A bonus is something you get over and above median compensation.” …

    Sadly, there is no known treatment for addiction to Law and Economics.

  7. Jason Boxman

    The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden, in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns.

    Well played, Twitter!

  8. Carolinian

    I get that Alex Berenson is too much of a smartass but this one hits home.

    Jacobson – a 116-year-old ruling about a virus roughly 100 times as deadly as Sars-Cov-2 – must be preserved forever and forms the core support for a mandatory vaccination scheme.

    Makes total sense.

    All the happy talk about Jacobson/vax has really been bothering me, so I went back and looked at the period surrounding this alleged Jewel of the Enlightenment.

    Between Dred Scott and the New Deal court, the Supreme Court continuously held that individuals had few if any rights as individuals. The vax decision [Jacobson] sits squarely in the middle of a timeline where nine white men in robes loudly scoffed at the idea that there was anything more important than the sheer brute power of business and government.

    Check out the line-up of horrific cases that surround the alleged “mandatory vax is permissible” law.

    And the list


    And do note that the long forgotten Espionage Act has been getting a workout lately not to mention minimum wage being a virtual deal letter. Funny how such a liberal safe space era like ours can seem so much like the robber baron era….

    1. voteforno6

      So, what’s the point? There are much older cases from when slavery was still legal that are still precedent.

      1. Carolinian

        It’s a minor point but worth making: the Supreme Court precedent that Politico and others are so impressed by comes from one of the Court’s most repressive eras. Consider it a follow on to Greenwald’s piece about how the ACLU was against vaccine mandates (the ACLU of an actual liberal era) before they came out for them in our fake liberal era.

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