By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I will return with more on the overly dynamic Capitol Hill situation shortly. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Not editorializing in the least, here.
Here's the audio of it's call. It is haunting when you realize you're hearing the last of a species. https://t.co/ndgGvvAkpl
— Jonathan (@NeutronTomato) October 2, 2021
At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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 think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was to see if the advent of the “adults in the room” boosted the vaccination rate at all, and it did not. (Hence, kudos to the heroic efforts of people on the ground.) I also need to look at positivity and see if the data problems (hat tip, Lou Anton) can be overcome, of indeed if the chart is even useful, given the advent of commercial test kits whose data is untrackable, CDC, good job. However, as Arya would say, “Not today!”, with so much going on over on Capitol Hill.
Universal rises. So, coercion works? As exhortation, Biden’s speech had no impact at all.
55.9% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Saudi Arabia). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. 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:
On the mystery of September’s non-peak:
76% of people 12+ have had at least one vaccine shot. And “something like one-half of all Americans have probably had the Covid virus,” giving them some immunity. @ScottGottliebMD: “I’m of the opinion that this is the last major wave of infection.” https://t.co/ClsiBqIma5
— Kurt Andersen (@KBAndersen) October 4, 2021
50% natural immunity? Where did Gottlieb get his figures? Of course, all our data is bad, so who knows…. (Gottlieb, Trump’s FDA Commissioner, has somehow become a good guy, I’n not sure how. One of these days, I have to review his book.) And from the linked article:
Covid-19 is once again in retreat.
The reasons remain somewhat unclear, and there is no guarantee that the decline in caseloads will continue. But the turnaround is now large enough — and been going on long enough — to deserve attention…..
These declines are consistent with a pattern that regular readers of this newsletter will recognize: Covid’s mysterious two-month cycle. Since the Covid virus began spreading in late 2019, cases have often surged for about two months — sometimes because of a variant, like Delta — and then declined for about two months.
Epidemiologists do not understand why. Many popular explanations, like seasonality or the ebbs and flows of social distancing, are clearly insufficient, if not wrong. The two-month cycle has occurred during different seasons of the year and occurred even when human behavior was not changing in obvious ways.
The most plausible explanations involve some combination of virus biology and social networks. Perhaps each virus variant is especially likely to infect some people but not others — and once many of the most vulnerable have been exposed, the virus recedes. And perhaps a variant needs about two months to circulate through an average-sized community.
Human behavior does play a role, with people often becoming more careful once caseloads begin to rise….
The recent declines, for example, have occurred even as millions of American children have again crowded into school buildings.
Whatever the reasons, the two-month cycle keeps happening.
Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. The question is whether we will ascend to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. Ditto the Midwest. And now the Northeast is falling as well.
We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population 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: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, 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. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, despite anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all.
Status quo, except for individual counties scattered here and there improving. (Why Maine? Highest cases ever, despite 64.91% of the population being fully vaccinated. The absolute numbers are small, but it’s worrisome. Could be rural areas, could be schools. It’s not chilly yet, so windows can still be open.) Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. 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.)
Waiting for the rebound from missing data from Alabama and Florida (go figure).
Hospitalization (CDC). Pop-up unresponsive today, much like the CDC itself:
From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down. I should dig out some regional or better yet county data. Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the “Community Profile” report above:
Mountain states still stubbornly high Tennessee’s long ordeal seems to be ending.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
716,867. Looks like a downward trend, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found 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.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)
Covid cases worldwide:
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
Australia’s NSW state premier resigns over corruption probe amid COVID-19 battle Reuters. “My work here is done.”
“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
“Senior White House adviser says Biden ‘expects to get’ both infrastructure and reconciliation bills” [The Hill]. “Senior White House adviser Cedric Richmond on Sunday expressed confidence about passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the larger reconciliation package, saying, ‘We know what we’re doing.’ Appearing on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Richmond made assurances that the Biden administration is not ‘not concerned with process.'” • Confusing double negative there…. More: “‘We’re concerned about delivering,’ he stated. Richmond also said that President Biden ‘wants both bills and he expects to get both bills.'” • And in what condition?
WOW. Biden just dismissed Senator @kyrstensinema being harassed and cornered into a bathroom this weekend, saying "it happens to everybody… it's part of the process."
WATCH. This is absolute insanity. pic.twitter.com/UUmRnEJIkm
— Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) October 4, 2021
Pro forma condemnation, followed by (translating, here) “Grow a pair!” Interesting…. .
“Leader of House Progressives Says She Won’t Vote for Reconciliation Bill if It Includes Hyde Amendment” [The Hill]. • Jayapal should have done this immediately, but for the top line. “We’re compromising; we’ve negotiationg. The $3.5 trillion figure is the result of compromise and negotiation.” This should not be hard!
UPDATE “Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power” [Juan Williams, The Hill]. “Last year, she became the first Speaker to successfully impeach a President of the United States — Donald Trump — twice!” • Losing. Also twice. Come on, man.
UPDATE “Opinion: Wanted: A better Build Back Better campaign” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. “What Democrats must fight above all are misrepresentations of the Build Back Better bill as some left-wing scheme. On the contrary, Biden’s proposals are a direct response to critiques often emanating from middle-of-the-road Democrats: that the party needs to spend less time on cultural issues and more on fighting for direct benefits to the working and middle classes, a cause that unites voters across racial and regional lines. ‘This package goes to the very heart of why working-class Americans vote Democratic,’ Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), one of Biden’s earliest and staunchest supporters, told me. ‘If we are able to pass this bill, I am confident it will help us with those blue-collar voters who went for Obama twice and swung to Trump.’ But only if they know what’s in it. And, yes, only if it passes.” • That’s not enough. There need to be concrete material benefits enough before the midterms so that people experience them (i.e., delay is bad). Otherwise, it’s 2010 all over again. The simplest model for moderate behavior is that this is their goal. Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, as it were.
Democrats en Deshabille
“The Democratic Counterrevolution Has A Self-Appointed Leader: Josh Gottheimer” [The Intercept]. From 2019, still germane: “Breaking down Tlaib, Omar, and their allies on the left has been one of Gottheimer’s primary goals since the November elections. He has worked assiduously to carve out a role in the Democratic caucus as something of an avenger, a centrist proud of his centrism and willing to take the fight directly to the squad of freshmen trying to push the party in a progressive direction. He even has a name for his handpicked adversaries: ‘the herbal tea party.’ His definition of too progressive is startlingly broad. As the Democratic chair of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, he led a push against Nancy Pelosi as she ran for House speaker last year. He has consistently voted against the party even on procedural motions, threatening to hand control over the House to the GOP. This spring, he was one of just a handful of Democrats at a private retreat on Sea Island, Georgia, hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, mingling with Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other Republican heavyweights. He was one of just six Democrats to break with the party on a push for the DREAM Act in 2018, and he publicly undermined the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., during a hearing in which he fawned over CEOs of the nation’s biggest banks. His boldest bid for internal power, however, came amid the push for a congressional War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. As progressives in the House neared a historic achievement, Gottheimer organized behind the scenes to take the resolution down, in part by attempting to make it a referendum on support for Israel — and very nearly succeeded.” • He seems nice. “The herbal tea party”? Would it were true!
Lambert here: The “progressives,” if they want to take power, should learn from success. That means, in the American context, studying the Tea Party. One reason the Tea Party was successful was that its members were willing to lose their seats to stand on principle. Yes, the principles were bad, but the tactic whipped the country club Republicans out of the party. (They’re now becoming Democrats, but that’s another story.) If, indeed, the reconciliation (“Build Back Better”) bill is the last piece of legislation the Democrats are likely to be able to pass in some years, then progressives should act like those are the stakes!
UPDATE “Kyrsten Sinema– The Most Hated Politician In Arizona– Keeps Digging The Hole She’s In” [Down with Tyranny]. “Arizona Democrats have been getting their sea legs. Had not Schumer interfered in the 2018 nomination process, Ruben Gallego could well have been nominated and elected senator– in which case no one would be worrying about Sinema’s incessant howling at the moon now.” Hmm. Schumer keeps showing up. More: “After Sinema voted against raising the minimum wage, her support among Democrats started falling apart. It’s been getting worse since then and her polling numbers indicate that unless she starts changing her basic stands– something she has done the way other people change their underwear– she will have no path to renomination.” More from Howie Klein:
That's right; she has long been one of the most villainous characters in US politics. I had the misfortune of serving on a board with her when she was still in the state legislature. She was an unstable, power-mad crackpot, back then as well. I blame Schumer for her ascendency https://t.co/maH7MeT2Sh
— Howie Klein (@downwithtyranny) September 30, 2021
As I keep saying, we are seeing the Democrat Party Pelosi and Schumer built, and here we see Schumer building it. Maximum fundraising, minimum governing.
UPDATE “Impact Winter w/Special Guest Prof. Adolph Reed” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. • Nice get!
* * *
“Is Nithya Raman About to Lose Her Seat?” [Los Angeles Magazine]. “Only a year ago, Nithya Raman was taking a victory lap after accomplishing that rarest of feats in Los Angeles, unseating an incumbent at City Hall. The 40-year-old urban planner, a newcomer to city politics, won with a platform of unabashedly progressive values that included a plan to forgive rents in L.A. and to reduce funding to the police budget. Today, a commission busy redrawing the boundaries of Los Angeles City Council districts is threatening to make most of Raman’s hard-won Fourth District disappear. At issue is a proposal that would lop off a whopping 73 percent of Raman’s current district in central Los Angeles. Goodbye, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Larchmont, Koreatown, Mid-City, Miracle Mile, and most of Hollywood; hello, northern San Fernando Valley and rural Shadow Hills! Raman, who was a tenant advocate before she was an elected official, would stand to lose a large chunk of her base made up of low-income L.A. renters of diverse backgrounds. And the suburban homeowners of the San Fernando Valley eyed as possible replacements do not necessarily cotton to progressive activism. ‘This map is effectively erasing the results of an election and denying Angelenos the representation that they voted for less than a year ago,’ says Stella Stahl, communications director for the freshman council member. ‘It really does feel like an invalidation of an election.’ The group of political appointees who make up the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission evidently disagree. ” • Shocking that Democrats would do this. Especially California Democrats.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“No, We Can’t Get a National Divorce” [New York Magazine]. “But how could I happily accept the accelerated subjugation of women and people of color in a new adjacent Red America, any more than abolitionists could accept the continuation and expansion of the slavery they hated? Would it really be safe to live near a carbon-mad country in which the denial of climate change was an article of faith? And could I ever trust that a “neighbor” whose leadership and citizens believed their policies reflected the unchanging ancient will of the Almighty would leave our fences intact? I don’t know if the hypothetical leaders of an America facing red-state secession would have the unshakable will of a Lincoln. And it’s not at all clear that young men and women in Blue America would be willing to take up arms in large numbers to resist secession with fire and blood. But this Union is still worth fighting for, no matter how frustrated we all are with congressional chaos, with elections that feel like nuclear exchanges, and with “debates” taking place between people who can barely communicate with each other. I’m not willing to peacefully give up our Constitution, abused and abusive as it has sometimes been; our Capitol with its surly bureaucrats and devious pols; or the bonds of kinship and history that connect me with so many red-state people, much as we disagree on most everything other than college football and fried food. So I say to the would-be secessionists: Please don’t go. And if it’s somehow in my power, I won’t let you go. I have no illusions of compromises yet untried or “third ways” left unexplored. So let’s have it out right here in America as peacefully as we can manage.”
Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods jumped 1.2% mom in August of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.7% rise in July and beating market forecasts of a 1% rise. Biggest increases were seen in orders for transportation equipment (5.4%), namely nondefense aircraft and parts (77.9%); and fabricated metal products (2%). On the other hand, decreases were seen in orders for machinery (-1%). Excluding transportation, factory orders edged up 0.5%.”
Retail: “More items over $1 to be sold at Dollar Tree” [The Hill]. “The retail chain long known for its affordable goods set at around $1 will begin to sell more goods above that price point, Dollar Tree announced on Tuesday. The retail chain, which has nearly 8,000 stores, has already sold items at some of its locations for over $1. Beginning in 2019, some of its stores had an area of their space called Dollar Tree Plus that sold items for $3 and $5, The Wall Street Journal reported. Dollar Tree noted in its announcement that it was making the move following the success of its Dollar Tree Plus format and positive customer reaction. ‘For decades, our customers have enjoyed the ‘thrill-of-the-hunt’ for value at one dollar – and we remain committed to that core proposition – but many are telling us that they also want a broader product assortment when they come to shop,’ Dollar Tree CEO Michael Witynski said in a statement on Tuesday.”
Shipping delays… pic.twitter.com/hhNF0bI6Cu
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) October 4, 2021
Shipping: “Christmas at Risk as Supply Chain ‘Disaster’ Only Gets Worse” [Bloomberg]. “Early in the year, the hope was that the bottlenecks that gummed up the global supply chain in 2020 would be mostly cleared by now. They’ve actually only gotten worse — much worse — and evidence is mounting that the holiday season is at risk… On the supplier side, Jay Foreman’s been making toys with manufacturing partners in China for more than three decades, and he’s never seen anything like this. His mid-sized toy company, Basic Fun, is on pace for its best year ever — possibly reaching $170 million in sales. There is no shortage of demand, with parents loading up on gifts as the pandemic drags on. But a dearth of cargo containers has left thousands of the company’s Lite Brites and TinkerToys waiting to be shipped. At just one factory in Shenzhen, there’s roughly $8 million worth of finished goods that could fill 140 containers. ‘I got Tonka trucks in the south and Care Bears in the north,’ Foreman, the company’s CEO, said of logistical troubles in China. ‘We’ll blow last year’s numbers away, but the problem is we don’t know if we’ll get the last four months of the year shipped. The supply chain is a disaster, and it’s only getting worse.'” • I loved my Tonka trucks, but really, not getting one would not put “Christmas at Risk.” Maybe just be happy all the people round the tree are alive?
Jim Swartwout, Robinhood’s President and COO, is both trading on MNPI and tipping. This isn’t a gray area. This is black and white.
— Ben Hunt (@EpsilonTheory) September 29, 2021
The Bezzle: “Why the startup party is coming to an end” [The Hill]. “t’s no secret that American startups have and continue to create products, services and technologies that have changed the world countless times over. They’ve only been able to do this over the past 10 to 20 years thanks to the trillions of dollars of capital received from the venture capital and investment banking industry. And those investors, in their endless pursuit of unicorns and multi-baggers, have turned to startup funding to beat the markets and make them billions. So yeah, it’s been a startup party. But unfortunately, that party will soon be over. Why? Two words: interest rates. Despite what officials are telling us, it appears more and more likely that today’s inflation is not transitory. … To combat inflation, the Federal Reserve will step in and increase interest rates. Does anyone doubt that interest rates are going to rise, and that this increase will happen in the not-so-distant future? Ask any of the hundreds of owners of small and midsized businesses that are my clients and you’ll find that all – I mean all – expect this to happen and are already taking defensive steps like converting their short term variable debt into longer term commitments with fixed rates. Rising rates means a higher cost of capital. A higher cost of capital means less capital available for small business and startups. Less capital available means fewer opportunities for entrepreneurs. All of this is coming in the next few years.” • Fewer rent-sucking opportunities for Silicon Valley, what a shame.
The Bezzle: “DeFi Platform’s Mistaken Token Giveaway Climbs to $160 Million” [Bloomberg]. “After a glitch in the so-called DeFi lending platform Compound led to nearly $90 million in mistaken rewards being distributed last week, Compound Labs’ founder and Chief Executive Officer Robert Leshner said millions more are at risk. On Sunday, Leshner tweeted an additional 202,472.5 COMP tokens were issued, bringing the total dollar amount of crypto that was accidentally distributed to about $160 million. COMP is the “native token” used to conduct transactions. The price of COMP fell about 4% to $316.14 Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.com data. The fiasco began last week when users approved an update to Compound’s platform that contained a software bug. According to a tweet from Leshner, the glitch caused too much COMP to be sent to some users. Unlike other lending platforms like BlockFi, which are run by a centralized company, Compound is operated by a distributed network of users utilizing smart contracts, or predetermined software programs. Neither Compound Labs nor anyone else can pause distribution of the tokens through the platform.”
maybe the most damning part of this presentation… it concludes with a dozen ways FB could disrupt the IG spiral of depression.
it’s not that there aren’t solutions; Mark Zuckerberg just doesn’t care. pic.twitter.com/EhrTjgrJFe
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) September 30, 2021
Tech: “Apple’s software update lets users create burner email addresses — here’s how to do it” [CNBC]. “The newest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 15, has new privacy features for people who pay for iCloud storage. One of the handiest new features is the ability to create a temporary email address — an address that’s not linked to your identity but still forwards messages to your inbox. It’s called ‘Hide My Mail.’ These burner emails are good for signing up in forms on the web that you might not want to share your main email address with, Apple said when it announced the feature in June. Users can spin up as many burner email addresses as they need and delete them when it’s convenient.” • Handy. So long as I don’t actually have to store anything important in iCloud…
Tech: “Researchers find Apple Pay, Visa contactless hack” [BBC]. “Large unauthorised contactless payments can be made on locked iPhones by exploiting how an Apple Pay feature designed to help commuters pay quickly at ticket barriers works with Visa. In a video, researchers demonstrated making a contactless Visa payment of £1,000 from a locked iPhone. Apple said the matter was ‘a concern with a Visa system’. Visa said payments were secure and attacks of this type were impractical outside of a lab.”
Tech: “Cashless Payment Outage Leaves Square-Shaped Hole in Many Wallets” [Cash Matters]. “A malfunction in cashless payment provider Square’s system over the weekend cost workers across America several hours’ worth of tips on the busiest day of the week, leaving customers red-faced and businesses missing sales. No technical details for the outage have been provided, with The Register reporting Square’s status page only noted ‘multiple service issues’ on Saturday. These issues, however, caused chaos in affected businesses, with service-oriented venues hardest hit, given tips amount to more than half of the earnings of wait staff and bartenders, according to the National Employment Law Project. Business owners have been left with a difficult decision over whether to reimburse their workers out of their own pockets.”
Manufacturing: “Boeing adds capacity for 767 freighter conversions in China” [Freight Waves]. “Boeing Co. on Tuesday announced it will add production lines in China to expand capacity for converting 767-300 passenger planes to freighters to help meet strong demand from cargo airlines and express delivery operators. Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO) signed an agreement to open two new conversion lines for the 767 next year.”
Manufacturing: “The truck that can be sent as a flat-pack parcel” [TruckerWorld]. “Two West Midlands companies have created a fully-electric utility truck that can be shipped abroad as a flat-pack parcel and built once it arrives. It is designed to be rugged, easy to maintain and financially accessible for farmers in Africa and Asia who otherwise would not be buying vehicles.” • No internal combustion engine, so the flat pack is possible!
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 4 at 12:31pm.
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Israel. “Violence in Israel has quieted down in the past few weeks.” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)
“Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States” (correspondence) [European Journal of Epidemiology]. “Vaccines currently are the primary mitigation strategy to combat COVID-19 around the world. For instance, the narrative related to the ongoing surge of new cases in the United States (US) is argued to be driven by areas with low vaccination rates. A similar narrative also has been observed in countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom…. At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days… Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated. Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated.” And the conclusion: “The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants. Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.” • A member of the NC brain trust comments: “Nothing surprising in there. The dynamics of Covid epidemiology depend on various factors other than vacc rates. This summer, notably, the appareance and spread of the delta variant, not very much affected by vaccination percentages (and possibly facilitated by behavioral relaxation after massive vaccination). Local, regional factors etc. If the vaccines were providing sterilizing immunity the landscape would be different.”
— Horace Pippin (@HoracePippin) October 2, 2021
The simplicity and cut-out shapes remind me of the backgrounds I have seen for some games (and I mean this as a compliment). Maybe the darkness, too.
Groves of Academe
“A secret USC payout had a catch: Images of ex-dean using drugs had to be given up” [Los Angeles Times]. “On a November day in 2017, USC entered into a secret mediation agreement with the family of a young woman whose drug-fueled relationship with the former dean of the university’s medical school had engulfed the institution in scandal. Carmen Puliafito, who was dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC during the relationship, was also a party to the agreement, which paid Sarah Warren, her brother and their parents a combined $1.5 million to head off a lawsuit by the family against him and USC, The Times has learned. Confidential payouts to settle legal disputes are common, but one provision of the Warren pact was not, according to legal experts: To receive the money, family members had to turn over to USC all of their videos and photographs showing Puliafito using illegal drugs to allow the university to destroy them, two sources with knowledge of the agreement told The Times. To comply with the agreement, the Warrens took their smartphones, computers and hard drives to a tech shop, where the devices were wiped clean of the videos and photos — some of which also showed him in sexual situations — along with any other material concerning Puliafito or USC, such as emails, text messages and letters, the sources said. The Times could not determine whether USC retained copies of the images and other material.” • Administrators…
“How Did Universities Get So Woke? Look to the Administrators” [Newsweek]. “How did the administrators get so uniform in their views? What I found in researching college staff was that the majority of administrators’—54 percent—have degrees in education. And reports have shown that graduates of education programs are fixated on a narrow progressive view of demographics, identity, diversity and capitalism, as well as ideas about the oppression they believe permeates American society. These views are also supported by scores of centers, which put out academic statements and initiatives to promote them. The truth should not be sugar-coated: America’s education programs are dangerous for higher education because they adhere to a pedagogy that transforms their graduates into activists. Their training teaches future administrators to deconstruct the society in which they live and then promote their views at work, in dining halls, dormitories, and throughout campus.” • Well, golly. No mention that Administrators would l-o-o-o-v-e to get rid of tenured faculty and wokeness is a great way to do that. And it’s a little rich that a so-called fellow at the American Enterprise Institute should be whinging about “scores of centers.” We also have the classic confusion between left and liberal….
News of the Wired
From Twitter’s Inuit account:
I was asked, why red?
Our belief is that
Red is the only color spirit sees
It is hoped that Red
We can call back the missing spirits of our women and children and lay them to rest. pic.twitter.com/ZtKe39hfwZ
— angusandersen900 (@AndersenAngus) October 3, 2021
Kill it with fire:
If AI art can create itself, what's next for creativity? Nora Khan meets AI and generative art pioneer Bill Seaman and AI artist Mario Klingemann, whose AI works grant an unusual poetic license to neural networks, GANs and AI systems. Sponsored by @Hyundai_Global
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) October 4, 2021
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 (SC):
This is a Fresca “day neutral” strawberry, about 7 months after starting from seed. It seems to be doing very well in a medium sized pot (for scale, the glass dish underneath is a standard 11″ pie dish, I think). The seeds are somewhat dear, but as the variety is open-pollinated, one could propagate loads in subsequent years from saved seed (provided that it doesn’t hybridize with the wild strawberries in one’s lawn 🙁 ). I was not thrilled with the germination rate, about 30%, but with masses of saved seeds that becomes less of a problem.
I haven’t protected this plant, and nearly every ripe berry I have noticed thus far is bird pecked. They are welcome to the hydration; it’s been a pretty brutal Summer here. I haven’t tasted it yet, but a friend who has several of these tells me that the berries are very sweet.
Per the seed seller’s description, this variety continues to bear fruit until cold weather, is not an aggressive spreader, and can thrive in containers. Judging from the masses of blossoms on this one, if the plant had enough space for its roots and enough nutrition and water, it might bear heavily.
Containerized strawberries strike me as an ideal “door-opener” or “gateway drug” into home gardening for newbies, and a local community garden accepted dozens of these in the Spring and early Summer for that purpose.
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!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021