2:00PM Water Cooler 2/10/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I’m afraid I must sacrifice a Water Cooler to complete a post on the Canadian truckers, which is a shame, because I have a lot to say. I’ll make it up to tomorrow, I swear! In the meantime, here is a skeletal Water Cooler. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

From Hancock, Maine, so I suspect the white noise is the Atlantic.

* * *


Case count by United States regions:

Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. (Previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when BA.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

The official narrative was “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise!

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging, especially if you’re in “Waiting for BA.2” mode.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Continued improvement. Tennesse reports weekly. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Guam, come on! (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 935,922 932,443. A million deaths would be a real milestone, hopefully achieved before Biden’s State of the Union speech in March.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being. Except for Germany.

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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):

johnnyme writes: “I believe this is a Narrowleaf Zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia).” I stan for zinnias!

* * *

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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. ambrit

        Hmmm…. Tis a puzzlement.
        I get the point.
        “I wandered loneley as a crowd,”
        “Feeling less substantial then a cloud.”
        “Forging ahead with weary tread,”
        “Following the compass in my head.”
        “Fashioning insubstantial pun,”
        “My ephemeral race is done.”
        “Burma Shave”

  1. ambrit

    Do notice that Mississipi, (the modern Philippi for interstate transport,) is having a surge in Covid.
    I was at the Rural Health Clinic yesterday for the semi-annual cardio checkup. My observations confirm the case count map’s reading. The place was short staffed. Mutterings about co-workers being home with “it” were heard more than once. (I keep my ears wide open when out and about.) Also, the place was out of the ‘rapid’ tests again. (Not the first time for this.) Third, odly enough, my Medica checked my KN95 mask to make sure that it was “real.” Evidently there has been a rash of “counterfeit” KN95 and N95 masks locally. One of the other doctors was wearing a painters white hemispherically shaped mask. I recognized it since I have several of them myself, waiting in reserve. No one could give me a straight answer about what variant of the coronavirus was dominant here. I think that they simply do not know.
    I had to go to the State website to find out. It’s almost 100% Omicron A now.
    See: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/13324.pdf
    Look at how quickly the dominant strain switched! Omicron went from essentially 0% to 89% of reported cases in 42 days. The second variant of Omicron is said to be even more transmissable.
    This is the advertised “New Normal?”
    I feel like a lab rat.

    1. curlydan

      I saw that Mississippi surge and got a little worried. The link you have doesn’t seem to break out Omicron BA.1 vs BA.2. I’m concerned about BA.2 as well. I remember the lack of attention the first Delta wave in Springfield and Branson got in the spring of 2021–hoping there’s no repeat of that in Mississippi if something similar is occurring.

      1. ambrit

        I noticed something similar. The top end for Omicron is ninety something percent while Delta is zero. When Delta was ‘top dog,’ a similar event occurred. So, what is or are the “extra” few percentage points comprised of? Old lineages, or the “New Wave” coronavirus?
        Mississippi is a “natural” breeding ground for new variants. It has about the nations highest percentage of ‘vulnerable’ populations. I know that we lead the nation in many of the “Hall of Shame” categories. [Proper virologists please correct me if I err. Does percent of deviance in a population matter more than total deviant population numbers?]
        Stay safe!

      1. ambrit

        It’s a shame we aren’t Pinky and the Brain. It does seem to feel a lot like America is now Acme Labs.

        1. Hepativore

          I would compare it more to something like the future portrayed in Snow Crash, and Biden reminds me a lot of mayor Adam West from Family Guy in terms of his increasing dementia/insanity.

          “MY GOD! Somebody’s stealing my water!”

          “They’re crafty I tell you. It happens when you least expect it.”

          *waters a houseplant*


    2. skippy

      See Denmark@82%

      You wish you were a lab rat because that would mean a rigorous methodology and not a case of because Carneia …

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm… I’m afraid that I’m firmly with Casca when he mentions his reaction to speeches by Cicero. But then, I’ll do my duty.
        That’s a good point about the lab part of rattishness. Mayhaps we, in general, the ‘demos,’ are viewed as gutter rats, to be treated as such.
        Be safe over there!

        1. skippy

          So much sophistry in supporting human sacrifice for a good crop becomes a tautology and now the obvious choice is denied … more vapors for the virgins – !!!!! – because divining is hard yacka and not to mention the after party … phew~~~~

          1. ambrit

            Was the “hierarchy of values” always an Aztec temple mount?
            “Congratulations son! You’ve made it to the top! Hold still now while we cut out your heart.”
            When we consider descriptions of the Mesoamerican “Sacred Rites” of that day, the fact that the ‘bravest of the brave’ sang songs and literally danced their way up the temple steps to their doom should make us pause. It was all a dream that everyone there participated in.
            Terran human nature in all of it’s glory; eternal, immutable, insane.
            In the dark watches of the night, I often see philosophy as the description and explication of insanity.

    1. jr

      Thanks for that article, I’ll need to re-read it again and digest but I agree with the broad outlines. It was a nice palate cleanser after the “Climate Change and Self-delusion” of the Meteorology-therapist and Dr. Happypants. More to the point, I agree with the author’s attitude. The ice creams hitting the AC, just as with the climate. No time for smiley face pain charts. Time to start designing stil-suits and new perspectives on everything. There will be synergies between economic collapse and climate catastrophe that will make it much, much more turbulent. That doesn’t seem controversial, unless you equate planetary wide disasters with worrying about a school shooting in another state.

    2. Lost in OR

      That was a pedestrian rant for CHS. He’s been at this a long time, I expect better. He can do better.

  2. jo6pac

    There been talk here on Amerikas RR and this adds to the mess they have become for profit. Thanks warren buffet and friends.

      1. ambrit

        Thank you for reminding me of them. Perfect music for late at night.
        Now to dig out my copy of “Rubycon.” Then, if I can find it, “Departure From the Northern Wasteland.”
        Stay safe.

  3. Raymond Sim

    This is the SCAN wastewater monitoring page I check every day or two:


    We do not seem to be enjoying a nice symmetric plummet. But I can discern no clear signs of BA.2, which I assume is a good thing. Using the 26 week time frame gives a sense of how high levels still are.

    If you scroll down to “RNA dry weight” you can get a sense of how much Delta is still around, i.e. not much compared to Omicron, but it ain’t exactly annihilated either. I reckon Delta gets its huntng license back on or around March 1, assuming Omicron hasn’t already reinfected everybody by then.

  4. 1UnknownSubject

    What seems off are the two charts – one for the US and the other for the other countries (sans US). I understand the time series is a bit different but the other curves are much more gradual than US curve. Probably many reasons but very different curves.

  5. Randy

    The New York Times has a good story about the chicken industry with an accompanying video. Anyone interested will have to pursue the story themselves, I’m not including the link which will put me in moderation and my post will not survive that.

    It talks about the atrocious conditions inside the barns and the poor treatment of the “farmers” that run these facilities.

    I read some of the comments and they seemed to be concerned about the poor treatment of the birds and the “farmers”.

    It is known that dangerous salmonella is a standard feature (not a bug, no pun intended) with this meat. It is plain that these chickens are living and dying on layers of their manure. The key to good animal husbandry is clean dry bedding, changed regularly underneath the animals. It is plain that there is no bedding, NONE, in use. These chickens are walking and laying down in a bacterial, viral soup of their own manure from “birth” to death. These birds are raised in FILTH, then they go the processing plant where things get even worse. High line speeds result in mass contamination of the meat with guts and intestinal contents.

    They talk about keeping the light level down. This is to keep the chickens from pecking each other. If a chicken gets pecked and blood is drawn the rest pile on and you have a dead chicken. They talk about the smell of ammonia from the manure. There are huge fans in the wall but they are not running. I’m surprised those birds can live breathing that much ammonia.

    Not to deny the hardship of the chickens and their jailer but this is just plain GROSS. If you are eating this product you are eating sh!t.

    I raise my own chickens and if they looked like those factory farm chickens I would dump them in the woods and let the crows, eagles and vultures eat them. It takes me 20 minutes from chopping the head to the finished product going into the freezer to process mine. My cost is about $2.50/lb plus labor. As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for”.

    Why isn’t this video on a national news program? Heh, heh. NC readers know the answer to that question. If enough people saw this the stink raised wouldn’t just be in the chicken barns. The pork and beef industries aren’t any better. Back in the past “The Jungle” got published, it would be totally suppressed today.

    The article also talks about the debt slave farmers. They aren’t the only debt slave commodity producers. Loggers, soybean and corn producers, etc. are also debt slaves. NC in the past has talked about low wage worker debt slaves. Commodity producers make low wage workers look like pikers when it comes to debt slavery. Commodity producers borrow 100’s of thousands of dollars for machinery to produce commodities like beans, corn, meat and lumber, etc. They take what their corporate masters give them. They are at the mercy of “markets” which are controlled by their corporate masters.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I wondered about cooking temperatures for chicken, and why internal temperature matters, and what I found was that because of how permeable chicken meat is, the bacteria can migrate deep into the tissue. I hadn’t realized, but it certainly has me using a temperature probe when cooking chicken breasts now.

    2. Skunk

      Consider the treatment of these animals for profit. Then ask how people who do this to animals are likely to treat their fellow human beings.

  6. jr

    Birding news: We have a pair of ravens in the neighborhood! I noticed one out on a wall over our back yard the other day. It was absolutely enormous! It had something small and round delicately held in it’s beak. My partner was a bit scared of it but I was elated.

    Later, I saw it and it’s presumed mate on a tree about a block away. All the smaller birds are back now and doing their thing. It will be time to put the water out for them again to frolic, bathe, drink, and make whoopee in.

    1. Thistlebreath

      In other avian matters, a pair of Great Horned Owls has returned to nest in one of our big old coastal live oaks, Quericus Agrifolia. A real hootfest every night, which apparently means there is a clutch of eggs.

      Halleluja! Our population of Western Pocket Gophers is overdue for thinning. Phylum Rodentia, walk carefully at night, y’all hear now?

      And….a normally raucous murder of Corvids that likes to loiter about has been notably absent. Smart birds. These are big owls with a thin sense of humor and fierce defenses.

      1. ambrit

        We’ve been hearing calls from our local Barred Owls this last few weeks. There is one that ‘lives’ in a cluster of oak trees in a back yard, (we have allyways here behind the houses,) a few blocks south of us. It will sit there and watch passers by from it’s perch up in the trees.
        Our ‘varmint snack’ of preference is squirrels. (I have been seeing some red squirrels lately. The average is grey. Local population changing?)

  7. Ranger Rick

    Facepalm moment today when I received vacation photos from a family member who is out on a cruise in the Caribbean. (!!)

    Retirees sure love tempting fate, don’t they?

  8. The Rev Kev

    Just saw a news interview here in Oz on the telly. Apparently it is a serious problem how people are not crowding back into the cities CBDs again and this is happening in all the big cities in Oz. The female reporter said that you could fire a gun a Circular Quay (in Sydney) and not hit anybody and the business dude agreed. The New South Wales Cabinet is going there as this is a serious problem that people will not crowd together in the middle of a pandemic. Imagine my surprise. Business dude suggested that public servants be forced to go into work and maybe free transport offered to encourage people back in. Both agreed that people should be told that it is safe again. I hate our media. Cheering that all the borders are opening again and restrictions be removed. The return of tourists when the real story is the return of cheap, foreign workers to drive down wages. Talking about the return of ocean liners because money. Nothing but trash.

  9. Greg

    So the NZ version of a “Freedom Convoy” parked up outside parliament a few days ago, and the police have been gradually working through removing anyone that gets even a little bit violent or aggressive, bottling up the rest.
    It’s amusing to watch the NZ police in action when faced with the same sort of protests we’re seeing elsewhere; I think this video from yesterday sums it up https://twitter.com/tony_lyall/status/1491588511497355264

    They’re just in mop up mode now, but it was interesting seeing the tactics earlier on. They first established a cordon along the entire front of the protest, then every half hour or so a wedge of cops would push through that cordon and into the protest mass, dividing them in two. They’d haul out a couple dozen of the most aggressive front liners, then back out again, and the cordon would have moved a few steps in. They kept that up for more than a day.
    Simultaneously they closed off the back of the protest mass with fencing to prevent anyone coming in to backfill, while still allowing people to leave that way (all the “leaders” walked away as soon as arrests started happening).

      1. Greg

        I’m sure the sprinklers overnight will be a thrill for them all. I’m not sure what you’re getting at posting the video of the streaker from yesterday getting arrested/covered.

        Streakers aren’t really considered the start of the revolution from what I know of the tradition, but maybe it’ll turn out that way and then won’t I feel foolish.

  10. djrichard

    13 week treasury yield jumped by 10 basis points (another huge jump) to 0.37%. Fed Rate hike has to be imminent.

    1. ambrit

      Can’t have the ‘workers’ reaping any of the benefits of the rentier economy, can we?
      Time for a New New Improved Volcker Shock. The last one worked out so well.
      Will QE unwind slowly, or all at once?

  11. Jason Boxman

    This is such a huge number, it bears repeating from STAT earlier today:

    A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published Friday in JAMA Network Open estimates roughly 1 in 10 people will develop long Covid symptoms more than a month after infection, with more severe Covid-19 raising that likelihood. That’s lower than an estimate from Oxford University that puts the toll at more than 1 in 3 people. With the staggering total of Covid cases in the U.S. since the pandemic began, even that more conservative number translates to more than 7 million people with long Covid.

    (bold mine)

    And the pandemic is nowhere near done; This is just as of now. What shall tomorrow bring?

    Also, that “staggering” number of cases is a result of elite malfeasance, period.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Promising news for people with long COVID may have arrived in a new case report, as two people report that their symptoms were almost completely relieved by taking common over-the-counter antihistamines. Authors of the new paper express that while the evidence thus far is anecdotal and based on a very small sample size, it’s a worthy avenue of investigation considering that – for most people – antihistamines are safe to take on a daily basis.

        One wonders if this will be the next target for the IVM treatment. Will OtC antihistamines get widely panned and purchasers shunned?

  12. farmboy

    “The fundamental ratio of the planetary scale is 9:8. This ratio is important in the history of mathematics and music because it is the Pythagorean epogdoon, which is displayed by Raphael in a famous detail of his masterpiece “The School of Athens.”

    In music, the epogdoon is the difference between the Perfect Fifth and the Perfect Fourth, which is a whole-tone; for example, the interval from C to D. Figure 2 summarizes the Pythagorean music theory with a diagram showing the relations between the epogdoon, diatessaron, diapente, and diapason, which correspond to the Major Second (9/8), Perfect Fourth (4/3), Perfect Fifth (3/2) and Octave (2/1), respectively.”

  13. Carolinian

    Just wanna say that the Galbraith interview from this morning was really good. Thanks Lambert for the link.

    It’s a pity in a way that Biden seems to have dropped the new FDR talking point. If he had hired people like Galbraith he may have begun to get there. What the country needs is sensible thinkers instead of all these political hacks.

  14. The Rev Kev

    A few days ago Macron met Putin and people talked about the fact that they were at each end of a very long table and now it has come out why. Macron refused to take a Russian Covid-19 test when he arrived because ‘‘We could not accept that they get their hands on the president’s DNA’ a member of Macron’s entourage said’ and that was why there were no handshakes and so that table was all about social distancing-


    Somebody forgot to tell Putin that the Pandemic is over now.

    1. OliverN

      Although we should already know from examples such as Havana syndrome, it’s stories like this that show just how crazy the beliefs of the people in power are. I suppose we can expect some articles in the next few days to justify Macron’s caution, maybe some “high ranking intelligence sources” who will explain that Putin has the capacity to manufacture highly contagious diseases that are invisible and benign to everyone except for specific individuals that they have coded the DNA into the virus for. Maybe we’ll get some blurry satellite photos of some trucks to show “these are the labs”.

      And yet, even if you accept this silliness on face value and agree that Macron’s DNA must be kept secret from Putin; As a highly visible public figure you are not on guard 24/7 and will be leaving half-eaten meals at hundreds of dinners, blowing your nose and discarding hundreds of tissues, shaking hands with thousands of voters, using hundreds of different restrooms; Or to put it another way, if Putin really wanted Macron’s DNA he would already have it

        1. The Rev Kev

          Prince Charles does – for a second time. And so all those people who came in contact with him are at risk too, including the 95 year-old Queen.

          1. ambrit

            I have always suspected that Prince Charles has Baldrick as an advisor.
            “My liege, I have come up with a cunning plan!”

  15. Geoffrey Dewan

    What the hell just happened to “thoughts-on-the-canadian-trucker-freedom-convoys”?????
    I left the page, tried to getback and got a message that it “couldn’t be found.


    This was the best analysis I’ve seen so far and now it’s gone? What’s up with this — you’re turnonh me into a goddam conspiracy theorist.

    Please re-post immediately or tell us exactly why it was taken down.


    1. Sub-Boreal

      Just noticed this too – I’d returned from teaching my evening class and was looking forward to catching up on the interesting chatter.

      REALLY hoping that there’s a technical reason for this glitch!

  16. Roland

    I can’t access the trucker post, either, although I could find a cached version. In the comments feed at right, it seems to be marked “Private,” and the links all go 404.

Comments are closed.