By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, because of the festivities on Capitol Hill, I have an enormous backlog of material on both health and the biosphere. I’ll have to do a pantry clearout shortly. Not today, I don’t think. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
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.
Coercion works? As exhortation, Biden’s speech had no impact at all.
56% 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:
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.
“Massive New Analysis Confirms Just How Many COVID-19 Cases Are Truly Asymptomatic” [Science Alert (Lee)]. “Now [a massive meta-analysis by a group of US medical researchers on more than 350 studies has found just over 35 percent of all COVID-19 infections don’t proceed to a symptomatic phase.” One wonders if natural immunity from asymptomatic cases is somehow “dark matter” throwing a lot of the models off…
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, some in the Southwest, and one big flare-up in California. 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 — for example — 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.)
Looks like the missing data rebound in the South has begun. But what happens when test kits from Walgreens and CVS become dominant, and no reporting is done? We’re already partway there.
Hospitalization (CDC). Everything works today:
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):
722,439. A definite 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
“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
“The Case Against Temporary, Half-Assed Reforms” [New York Magazine]. “There are multiple ways to fit a $3.5 trillion peg into a $2.3 trillion hole. One would be to retain almost all of Biden’s current policy initiatives, but in smaller and/or more temporary forms. Instead of giving dental benefits to all Medicare beneficiaries, you could restrict such benefits to seniors who earn less than $39,000. Instead of giving a child allowance to 88 percent of U.S. parents, you could give it to the minority of parents who earn less than $50,000 a year…. Alternatively, Biden & Co. could nix the means tests, and just implement the president’s full agenda for a very limited period of time: Give Americans a child allowance, long-term care benefits, paid leave — the whole works — for just three years. Then run for reelection in 2024 as the party that opposes making virtually every American family poorer by allowing automatic safety-net cuts to take effect. This is the approach counseled by Carlos Mucha, an economics blogger with a knack for generating ‘so crazy, it just might work’ policy proposals.” • But my means-testing (wail liberal Democrats). Needless to say, I’m with Mucha. As soon as people feel the impact of universal concrete material benefits, it won’t be possible to roll them back. Is DeSantis really going to run for President on a platform of rolling back dental? The other merit of this approach is that it allows the top line to remain the same. But oh well–
“Biden Team Seeks to Pare Back Economic Agenda in Strategy Shift” [Bloomberg]. “Biden’s strategy to enact two packages — a roads-and-bridges focused infrastructure plan and a trimmed-back social-spending bill — is evolving after a tense week of negotiations that yielded ill will between liberal and centrist factions of the Democratic Party. After congressional leaders had to indefinitely postpone votes on the measures, one Democratic operative said he hadn’t seen such vitriol between members of his own party since Biden took office. In meetings this week, the president has warned progressives — who have sought expansive new spending on education and social programs combined with tax hikes on the wealthy — that they will have to temper expectations for the final legislation. But he has also dialed up pressure on Congress to pass both packages, casting them in a speech Tuesday in a Republican-leaning corner of Michigan as essential to keep the U.S. competitive with fast-rising adversaries and calling opponents “complicit in America’s decline.’… “The biggest hurdles to this passing are internal divisions within the party,” said James Manley, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Senate for 21 years. “The longer this thing hangs out there, the more time opponents of the bill — whether it is big business or Republicans — can ramp up the opposition.” • Yep. Better whip the moderates into line. And: “Biden says the cost of the bill, which is still subject to negotiations, would be entirely offset with tax increases on corporations and high-income Americans. The focus on the legislation’s price tag in recent weeks has frustrated Democratic operatives and pollsters and White House officials alike.” • I disagree. The price tag didn’t hold up Trump’s relief bill — which actually reduced poverty! — or the Democrat copycat bill that followed, under the current guy. The cleanest and simplest way to send the message that government will spend money on important priorities…. is to spend money on important priorities, and you can only send that message with a firm top line (and nothing says you can’t tinker with it at the very end of the negotiated. Biden’s original strategy was to ask the moderates what they would cut. That was a better idea.
UPDATE ‘Climate change provisions remain crucial piece of reconciliation debate” [ABC]. “Asked last week what the biggest sticking points were in the ongoing negotiations over the partisan budget reconciliation bill, California Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the progressive caucus, texted ABC News one word: ‘climate.’ In television interviews since, several other progressive leaders have also been quick to underscore their commitment to the climate-related provisions in the sweeping budget package… “The president cannot show up in Glasgow [for the United National Climate Change Conference at the end of the month] empty-handed,’ Jamal Raad, co-founder and executive director of climate change advocacy group Evergreen Action, told ABC News. ‘The current budget reconciliation package includes major pieces of legislation that will drive down emissions and let us be taken seriously on the global stage.'” • Reminds me of Wilson campaigning for the League of Nations. Let’s hope Dr. Biden doesn’t end up running the country like Edith Wilson, with the press saying nothing.
“Biden indicates he would sign reconciliation bill with Hyde amendment” [The Hill]. “President Biden indicated Tuesday that he would sign Democrats’ reconciliation bill even if it included the Hyde amendment, a controversial provision that bars federal funds from being used for most abortions. ‘I’d sign it either way,’ Biden told reporters Tuesday evening when asked if he would sign the bill if the Hyde amendment were included, a demand of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The White House has said that Biden opposes the Hyde amendment. Manchin’s demand that the amendment be included in the reconciliation package has emerged as a new hurdle in negotiations over the bill. ‘Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,’ Manchin told National Review last week. ‘It has to be. It has to be. That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she would not vote for a bill that includes the Hyde amendment.” • I think this was a misstep by Jayapal. It would have been better for her to have made $3.5 trillion the hill to die on, first because that’s Biden’s number and “the deal,” second, because it implies universal benefits. By nailing her colors to Roe v. Wade, Jayapal opened space between herself and Biden, abandoned universality, and put herself in the same room as the bourgeois feminists who’ve been failing everybody but professional women for thirty years. I think Manchin deked her on that one. (I do give kudos Japayal et al. for testifying on their abortions.; this should have been done thirty years ago. Had it been, it would have been the equivalent of “coming out” for gays, which ultimately yielded enormous (though not revolutionary) benefits for gays. Instead, credentialed bourgeois feminists treated Roe v. Wade as settled law, even though the policy was not enacted democratically. Conservatives did no such thing, and were ultimately much more serious about their politics. Oh well, nevertheless…).
UPDATE “GOP peels its centrists away from Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan” [Politico]. “Democratic leaders’ ambitious domestic agenda is trapped in a political tug of war: The more they yank toward progressives, the more they pull away from centrist GOP forces that rallied behind their infrastructure bill. That infrastructure plan passed the Senate less than two months ago with 19 GOP votes. But top Democrats’ insistence on linking it to a bigger, party-line social spending measure has squeezed House Republican centrists who’d hoped to deliver dozens of votes for the roads and rails bill from their side of the aisle. There aren’t many of those GOP centrists, but their support could further burnish the infrastructure bill’s bipartisan credentials. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden tying infrastructure to massive spending on progressive priorities, however, Republicans who’d wished for a standalone vote are now forced into an intricate dance — ignoring the linkage and backing an infrastructure bill that doesn’t stand on its own.” • I didn’t know there were “bipartisan credentials.” What does the diploma look like? Is it done with a branding iron?
“Biden: Senate filibuster change on debt a ‘real possibility’” [Associated Press]. “To get around Republican obstruction, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Democrats are considering a change to the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to quickly approve lifting the nation’s debt limit and avoid what would be a devastating credit default… Biden has resisted any filibuster rule changes over other issues, but his off-the-cuff comments Tuesday night interjected a new urgency to an increasingly uncertain situation. ‘It’s a real possibility,’ Biden told reporters outside the White House.” • Good. Do it.
UPDATE “Life After Default” [Council of Economic Advisers, The White House]. “A default—or even just the threat of one—would have a devastating impact on our economy. In the run-up to and aftermath of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis—where the country ultimately avoided a default—market risk measures rose persistently, and measures of consumer confidence and small business optimism weakened. Mortgage rates rose by between 0.7 and 0.8 percentage point for two months after that year’s debt ceiling crisis passed, and only declined slowly thereafter. For a family taking out a $250,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, an extra 0.8 percentage point means more than $30,000 in additional interest payments over the life of the loan. Rates for auto loans, personal loans, and other consumer financial products also rose in the wake of the 2011 crisis, and these increases often lasted for months. This all happened despite the fact that Congress acted to avoid default in time, before the U.S. Treasury exhausted its cash on hand and its other means of financing.
“Kerry: Biden ‘had not been fully aware’ of submarine deal’s impact on France” [The Hill]. • Thanks, John. Klain will love the headline, good job.
Democrats en Deshabille
“Are Democrats Dysfunctional Or Just Disagreeing?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “While it may not always seem like it, the different factions in the Democratic Party still represent policy differences — not fault lines. That’s namely because ideological differences still don’t map perfectly onto the party’s different constituencies. Yes, some of the party’s moderates, like Manchin, represent constituencies further from the mainstream of the Democratic Party — places with more white, older voters. But this isn’t true of all moderate Democrats. Rep. Carolyn Bordeaux of Georgia, for instance, represents a majority-minority district that has substantial populations of Black, Latino and Asian residents. And while someone like Jayapal, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, represents a far more diverse district with a lot of college-educated voters, Rep. Ilhan Omar, who isn’t that different from Jayapal politically, hails from a district with a much lower share of college-educated voters. As a result, ideological differences are not likely to create permanently warring factions in the Democratic Party — at least at this point. Party divisions are inevitable in big-tent coalitions. Policy disagreements across the ideological spectrum are healthy: It’s arguably the efforts to flatten out these divisions among Republicans that have made the past few years so troubling for the Republican Party and its role in American democracy. The nature of partisan politics has also made it harder for internal factions to splinter from the Democratic Party. Trying to form a third party would tank electoral prospects and all but ensure Republican victories at the federal level. And Republicans are unlikely to go after progressives, regardless of how disgruntled that group might become with the Democratic leadership. This should allow progressives and moderates to form flexible coalitions in the long term, and hold off the biggest threat to party stability — one faction getting angry enough to leave altogether.” • Would it be so wrong if the “moderates” left? I bet the Republicans — even the Never-Trumpers — would eat them up and spit them out.
Lambert here: We should also remember that in addition to genuine ideological conflicts, we are also seeing a succession issue, at least in the House, given the advanced age of the the liberal Democrat gerontocracy. So, the players are also playing for future leadership positions. That’s certainly true of Jayapal and Omar (though I can’t see Sinema being leader of anything, she might not agree; ditto the too-weather-vane-y for my taste AOC, for somewhat similar reasons; trust the Democrats to corrupt an extraordinary talent). So the stakes are high. “Fundamentally, nothing will change.” It seems that “progressives” are the faction of “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” (Lampedusa), while “moderates” are the faction of “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to stay as they are.” Or is that playing it too cute?
UPDATE “‘Her calculation is off’: Sinema dares the left to take her out” [Politico]. “When Kyrsten Sinema became the first Arizona Democrat in more than 40 years to win an open Senate seat, she was heralded by her party for breaking the Republican stranglehold on a state where Barry Goldwater’s brand of conservatism runs deep. Three years later, the novelty has worn off. Nearly one-third of Arizona Democrats view Sinema unfavorably, according to one recent poll. The state party put her on notice of a potential vote of no confidence. She was greeted by protesters over the weekend when she returned home for a fundraiser, and then confronted Sunday by activists who filmed her in a restroom. Her experience is a testament to the heightened expectations of Arizona Democrats. But it’s also indicative of a deeply polarized national environment that is increasingly intolerant of Sinema’s brand of centrist politics — whatever its local logic. ‘She’s trying to be a moderate, because Arizona is a moderate state and the way you get elected here — or at least the way you have in the past — is to not be challenged in a primary and get your ass to the middle to try to keep enough swing voters in your camp,’ said David Doak, a retired longtime Democratic strategist and ad maker living in Arizona.” • I can’t imagine a more reliable, disinterested source. More: “Calling Sinema an ‘obstructionist’ rather than a centrist, Garrick McFadden, a former vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, said it’s ‘not just the hippies and the 20-, 30-year-old’ Democrats who are fed up with her, but more moderate and institutional-minded Democrats, as well. ‘I don’t understand the calculus,’ he said. ‘It’s not like we’re asking her to do the Bernie Sanders or the Elizabeth Warren agenda. It’s the Joe Biden agenda.'”
“London Breed suggests changes may be coming to San Francisco’s mask mandate” [SFGATE]. “Two weeks after being seen in violation of the mandate at a Tenderloin nightclub and bemoaning the “fun police,” Breed told the San Francisco Chronicle that changes to the rules — which require all individuals regardless of vaccination status to mask in all indoor spaces unless ‘actively eating or drinking’ — are ‘overdue.’ … As mayor, Breed has no control over COVID-19 restrictions. Under California law, county health officers, who are not elected, are given expansive powers during ‘health emergencies’ and can issue public health orders without receiving permission from elected officials…. ‘When I took a picture, as I do in any case or do an interview, yes I take my mask off when I take a picture,” she said. “I’m vaccinated. I don’t need to wear a mask to take a picture every single time. .'” • And you can’t make me (throwing a flag on myself for infantilization, here). Breed, one hopes, is ignored of the fact that the vaccinated can transmit, and hence of the need to still protect others, and not just herself.
UPDATE Serious as a heart attack:
HOLY HELL—Anti-Vax Lieutenant Governor of Idaho briefly took power as Acting Governor without permission to block all #COVID19 vaccine & testing mandates, while Governor was briefly away. @GovernorLittle rescinded Lt Governor @JaniceMcGeachin’s illegal order just 8 minutes after! pic.twitter.com/nSKm7SgySb
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) October 6, 2021
I’m astonished too:
I'm astonished that more people don't see, or can't face, America's existential crisis. https://t.co/B44lfb7jZr
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 4, 2021
What’s Clinton on about? Oligarchs are always a minority.
Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 568 thousand workers in September of 2021, the most in three months and compared with a downwardly revised 340 thousand in August and beating market expectations of a 428 thousand rise. Most jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector (266 thousand) followed by education and health (66 thousand); professional and business (61 thousand); trade, transportation and utilities (54 thousand); financial activities (22 thousand); and information (11 thousand). The goods-producing sector added 102 thousand jobs, led by manufacturing (49 thousand); construction (46 thousand); and natural resources and mining (7 thousand). Companies with 500 and more employees added the most jobs (390 thousand), followed by midsized (115 thousand) and small companies (63 thousand)”
Retail: “Home Depot hires Walmart delivery drivers to drop off paint and more to customers’ doors” [CNBC]. “The home improvement retailer is the first retail client to sign up for Walmart’s new delivery business, GoLocal. Walmart launched the business in late August, with plans to attract customers ranging from local stores to national players and make money from last-mile deliveries, similar to a third-party service like Instacart. Deliveries are made by gig economy workers who use Walmart’s delivery platform, Spark Driver.”
Shipping: “Cost of shipping between China and U.S. plunges” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The cost of shipping between China and the U.S. plunged this week after hitting record highs in early September as the off-season approaches, a power crunch slows Chinese manufacturing and speculators rush to sell their hoarded shipping spots. An executive with a Shanghai freight company said Thursday that the cost of shipping a 40-foot container from China to the U.S. West Coast dropped nearly half in the previous four days, going from about $15,000 to just over $8,000. The spot rate for shipping to the East Coast had fallen by more than one-quarter from over $20,000 to less than $15,000. Prior to the pandemic, the rate was usually around $1,500. … Many long-term rates listed on the Shanghai Shipping Exchange for shipping a 40-foot container from China to the U.S. are under $5,000, much lower than the spot rates. The plunge in spot shipping rates, the analyst said, is mainly caused by the imminent off-season and a reduction in manufacturing due to China’s ongoing power crunch.”
Tech: On the Facebook outage:
Real correction in New York Times.https://t.co/eRMRXbMQXD
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) October 5, 2021
Tech: MacDonald’s to Twitter during the Facebook outage:
better than you handle your ice cream machines.
— Ayushi Mukhopadhyay (@Ayushi_muk) October 4, 2021
Ouch! (And somebody’s been reading Stoller.)
Tech: “Facebook’s backup argument to toss FTC case is public policy pickle” [Reuters]. “A back-door argument in Facebook Inc’s new motion to dismiss an amended antitrust complaint by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission presents a real policy conundrum. Do we want federal agencies to be led by experts who have developed and expressed strong views about companies they oversee? Or are agencies ultimately undermined when their leaders’ decisions are open to accusations of partiality?… Facebook contends that FTC Chair Lina Khan staked out such antagonistic positions toward the company in her previous work as a public policy analyst, law professor and Congressional investigator that she should have stepped aside when the commission voted to authorize the FTC’s amended complaint…. The FTC chair, Clark said, didn’t just take an ideological or industry-wide stance on tech companies and monopolistic behavior. She expressed specific views about Facebook’s conduct. ‘Would a disinterested person believe (Khan) was impartial with respect to Facebook?” Clark said. “I think there’s a good chance Facebook’s argument will succeed.'” • Clearly, credentialed experts, ciphers who over their careers have never taken a position on the actions of any firm would be absolutely ideal regulator. From Facebook’s perspective. An argument so degraded it just might win!
Tech: “Google abandons plans to offer Plex checking accounts” [Banking Dive]. “Google is abandoning its plans to offer checking accounts to its users in partnership with banks and credit unions, a project the tech giant announced almost two years ago. The decision to drop the project, first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed to Banking Dive by a Google spokesperson, comes after a series of delays and the March departure of Caesar Sengupta, the Google Pay executive who headed the project. The missed deadlines and Sengupta’s departure prompted the search engine behemoth to scrap the project, sources told the Journal…, Bank regulators, however, supported the project and played no role in Google’s plans to abandon the Plex accounts, sources told the Journal.” • What a shame.
Tech: “Google files document production demand against one of its biggest public critics” [The Verge]. “Late Monday night, Google filed for a court order to produce documents from longtime Google critic Luther Lowe, as part of its ongoing federal antitrust case, US vs. Google…. As vice president of public policy at Yelp, Lowe has long been a prominent voice pushing for antitrust action against Google, even launching an email newsletter called “This Week In Google Antitrust” to track support for action against the search giant. In public statements, Lowe has particularly focused on the search neutrality case against Google, alleging that the company uses the power of Google Search to co-opt and overwhelm subject-matter directories like Yelp. This isn’t the first time Google has used the antitrust proceedings to compel document production from rivals.”
Tech: “Twitch’s source code and streamer payment figures have been leaked following hack” [Engadget]. “Hackers have accessed Twitch and leaked a vast amount of company data, including proprietary code, creator payouts and the ‘entirety of Twitch.tv.’ Twitch confirmed the breach in a tweet Wednesday morning, but did not provide further details. … Although we haven’t verified the claim that ‘the entirety’ of Twitch’s source code has been leaked, the files in the 126GB repository do appear to be genuine, and the payout figures for almost 2.4 million streamers seem to be present…. The group also stated that Twitch’s community is a ‘disgusting toxic cesspool,’ so the action may be related to recent hate raids that prompted streamers to take a day off in protest. Twitch has previously said that it’s trying to stop the hate raid problem but that it wasn’t a ‘simple fix.'” Importantly: “.” • Waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Tech: “Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the BBC stage a very British coup to rescue our data from Facebook and friends” [The Register]. “BBC R&D discovered it too didn’t much like the way personal data was in the hands of the wrong people. That got in the way of creating better public value from the internet, and the BBC worries about these things. Public service broadcasting in the 21st century means public service internet. So, in 2017 it started a project called Databox with Nottingham University, using ideas kicked off by some cat called Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who’s apparently got some track record here. Two years later, work started on prototypes and last week BBC R&D put out a report on what the first testers thought of it all… The idea is simple. You keep your personal data stored on an edge device you control. This can be a phone app or an actual appliance. It implements the three strands of what’s called Human Data Interaction, HDI, the philosophy at the heart of it all. These three ideas are: legibility, agency and negotiation…. The researchers say that the test audience that has used the system – young people who don’t spend much time on the BBC particularly – was positive. Audience members liked the control and visibility it gave them; they understood the need to manage personal data but didn’t understand how to do it. This unlocked that door. … We do need a revolution that puts the power in the hands of the people, but we probably don’t want to shoot the Czar and his family. A more equitable sharing of power and value, more transparency and accountability, and the ability to say “no” will be disruptive, but in the right way. It’s about time we made Google read our terms and conditions – and the world’s finest public service broadcaster is on our side. Be rude not to.”
Supply Chain: “Inspector general spotlights DoD pharma supply chain gaps” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “In August 2019, the US government identified that 72% of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturers were located outside the United States, with China accounting for 13% alone…. The question of foreign reliance wasn’t a new one, though—Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 4140.01, effective Mar 6, 2019, had already tasked the DoD with mitigating the risks of pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions. Now, about two and a half years later, the Pentagon’s inspector general evaluated the progress and reported that, while some efforts were made, more could be done….. As the situation currently stands, the authors write, “Senior officials from the [DLA] Medical Pharmaceutical Prime Vendor Division stated that if some countries decide to stop producing APIs or shipping them to domestic manufacturers in the United States, the results could be catastrophic for the entire U.S. pharmaceutical industry.'”
Mr. Market: “This Market Makes No Sense” [A Wealth of Common Sense]. “There is certainly an insane amount of speculation going on in a variety of markets today. But that insanity is also being balanced out with more reasonable, cautious investor behavior. Today’s market is a head-scratcher…. Despite generationally low interest rates, investors continue plowing money into bond funds. According to Yardeni, there was a record $1.01 trillion of inflows into bond funds for the trailing 12 months through April. The 12 month numbers through July and August were close to that record as well. How could there be a speculative mania if so much money keeps flowing into fixed income?…. On the opposite end of the risk spectrum, the start-up market is scalding hot.” • Readers, as you know, I don’t play the ponies. Thoughts?
Mr. Market: “Pension Investment: BTS Takes Care of South Korea’s Retirees” [The Blue Roof]. “The world-beating K-pop idols are not only musical sensations, but also a phenomenal investment. In 2018, the National Pension Service 국민연금, South Korea’s pension fund, invested in the pre-IPO shares of HYBE 하이브, BTS’s production company that was at the time called BigHit Entertainment. With an investment of KRW 31.2b (USD 27m), the NPS earned a strong return of KRW 282b (USD 240m), or .”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 2:00pm.
“Only 6% of financial firms think climate risk is fully priced in: GARP survey” [Yahoo News]. “A recent survey by the GARP Risk Institute found that just 6% of firms think that climate risk is fully priced in, though ‘quite a lot of them do think that it’s partially priced,’ Jo Paisley, president of GARP Risk Institute, told Yahoo Finance (video above). ‘And I think what we’re seeing across the risk profession and the finance profession, is just a growing awareness, a growing understanding of the risks.’ The survey, in its third year running, polled 78 financial firms worldwide, encompassing 47 banks, 20 asset managers, and 11 other firms in insurance and financial market infrastructure.” • Maybe that can’t be done?
The Agony Column
“Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” [New York Times]. • Holy moley, another heaping spoonful of cray cray! Well worth a read for the plot twists (and I blame the CIA, since they’re responsible for the Iowa Writers Workshops).
Our Famously Free Press
“Ozy Media Is A Monumental Bummer” [Defector]. • This is absolutely as cray cray as yesterday’s story about the Busch children, except now “The Fourth” is your boss. Oh, and Laurene Powell Jobs gave the “founders” money. Yay! Oh, but–
“Ozy Shows That Serious Black Media Needs a New Business Model” [New York Times]. “Now that Ozy has proved to be too good to be true, marketers and investors should look around.”
“U.S. Coal Mines Are Running Out of Miners Just as Demand Booms” [Bloomberg]. • They probably all learned to code. Maybe the Beltway press should get to work at a literal coalface?
News of the Wired
“William Shatner will launch into space with Blue Origin on Oct. 12” [Space]. A man of many talents:
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 (johnnyme):
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