2:00PM Water Cooler 4/26/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Extremely patient readers, this Water Cooler is abbreviated because I must finish posting about Christian Smalls. So this is a second open thread. I will have to hold a Water Cooler festival tomorrow! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Warblers from Serbia, sounding like they’re getting ready for sleep. With barking dog!

* * *


If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

First decisive upward turn, so we’ll see how it goes. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. Yikes. But how do we know? Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

A little encouraging! (I do have priors, and worries, but even I wouldn’t wish a pandemic on a population to prove a point.)

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

We’ll need to wait to week for the universitities and Easter weekend to unkink the data. (Both service areas turned down; I don’t think this is because the college semester has ended, either; readers please correct me.)

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 Biobot Analytics:

Also encouraging, in that the Northeast is flattening.

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

California is improving as is the Northeast is improving, as confirmed by wastewater. The Midwest looks a little spotty. (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:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you. In fact, every day I go to the same URL. Today, at that URL, I found this disgrace to humanity:

Fortunately, CDC only moved the transmissibility data to a new URL. So here again is the map CDC doesn’t want you to look at:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. (It looks like portions of Maine went from High (red) to Substantial (orange), but that part of Maine is the Unorganized Territories, where virtually nobody lives.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

if anybody tells you hospitalization is down, tell them “No, it very isn’t.” (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: 1,018,582 1,018,335. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Numbers still going down, still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Still a bumpy ride….

* * *

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. From TH:

TH writes: “I just love when the sun spotlights just the right flower in a garden!”

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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. lance ringquist

      as long as the american elite do not have to pay a price for their follies, we will get one nafta billy clinton after another.

      1. CGKen

        I was talking about this with my dad the other day. Who is the last American elite to have faced real consequences for their actions?

        My dad thought Trump because he didn’t get re-elected, but I don’t think not getting a second term is a consequence if you are free to live the life of an ex-president.

        We ended up having to go back to Jeffrey Skilling of Enron fame who served 12 years of his 24 year sentence and got out in 2019.

  1. Elim Garak

    Since today is an open thread I figured it might be a good time to suggest a media-based antidote for my fellow NC readers who, like myself, are perhaps feeling the weight of it all lately, especially after reading posts like Thomas Neuberger’s Climate Collapse & Adaptation from earlier this month.

    If you have the time and capacity, I strongly recommend going to the theaters and seeing Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. I don’t like to give too much away about films, in fact I most enjoy going into the theater without having even seen the trailer if I can, so I’ll just say that it’s a wonderfully original work of art that, at its core, has some very beautiful messaging in between all the chaos. It’s a feast for the senses, no doubt.

    For those who have seen it, I’d love to know what you thought!

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Herd it has Data/Short round from The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the temple of doom, so Becnel will Def watch it!


      “That’s what I said. BOOTIE TRAPS!”


    2. Geo

      Agreed! It’s a magical film with a lot of heart and humor. And the score was done by the amazing Son Lux (their albums are great and they’re on tour soon).

      If anyone is looking to venture the opposite direction and indulge their dark nihilism, The Northman is a wild psychedelic trip that captures the triviality of warfare very well.

      Both great films that bring fresh ideas and artistry that I hope can make way for more risk taking by productions than the usual mass appeal homogeny we mostly have in theaters.

    3. skippy

      My 26 year old son who worked at a big cinema during HS and even casual post getting a better job, big movie buff, not to mention pretty knowledgeable about all the aspects highly recommended it to me.

      He’s seen it twice now.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      Ok, that’s the second recommendation I’ve gotten for this movie this week. The universe is telling me I should go.

    1. Greg

      Thanks, that’s a really useful interview. Being on the frontlines of the Donbass civil war for the last 8 years explains a bit of the crazy eyes PL gets in some of his videos. He looks quite different in a regular interview without anyone shooting at him.

    2. Brunches with Cats

      Excellent interview despite the sound quality, thanks so much for the link. Hard to imagine witnessing the atrocities he has (I’ve had the same thought about the people of Donbas in general living through eight years this) and then how much worse it must be for someone who’s been there on the ground, seen things with his own eyes that are so hard to see and process, only to have images of those events appropriated by Zelensky and his Western handlers to distort into anti-Russian prop.

    3. WalterM

      Thanks for this. I like Daniel Dumbrill. He’s a pretty decent youtuber/interviewer who lives in Shenzhen, China and runs a brewery. He’s a contrarian on Xinjiang and the Hong Kong protests, more positive toward the Chinese establishment/government. I think he tries to be honest, not doctrinaire, not too partisan—although he can get kinda upset with certain youtubers and MSM. He seems to try to work out the motivations of the parties in Chinese political life, whether he agrees with their actions or not.

      Like most youtubers he can talk too much. He posted a long video of a CBC (Canadian) journalist interviewing him, plus commentary, which is important in showing bias and manipulation, but might not be the most interesting thing to watch.

      If he’s a Chinese puppet (yes, accusations are frequent), then both he and his fiendish masters are doing an incredibly brilliant job.

    1. Acacia

      P.S. Harris spokesperson saying “she has not been a close contact” to Brandon. Well all righty then.

      Or maybe theyll come out and say the latest booster was actually just an April Fool’s joke?

      1. Wukchumni

        I heard she’s cured already, all it took was incessant cackling amid a faked smile and the poor virus didn’t stand a chance.

    2. Michael Sharkey

      “Sooo… booster shots effective for less than a month?”

      “The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, found that effectiveness against infection in the fourth week after the second booster shot was lower than protection mounted after the third vaccine dose. The protection drastically falls after eight weeks.”


      1. ChiGal

        thanks! as I sent the link on to a few people I found myself typing:

        protects against infection/long-term disability for eight weeks, hospitalization/death for longer (TBD).

        anyone have other suggested wordings to efficiently convey that the potential for long Covid is present in every infection?

      2. Mikel

        NC reports from Israel, who went as far as booster number 4, showed research that told of these diminishing returns MONTHS ago.

    3. Geo

      Congrats to the VP. That’s the first “positive” result she’s accomplished while in office!

    4. chris

      If VP Harris dies before Joe Biden due to a SARS2 exposure from poor pandemic hygiene I will take that as direct evidence that whoever is in charge of the universe has a great sense of humor.

    1. paddlingwithoutboats

      A lotta people take aspirin to prevent stroke, anticoagulation property. Not so much about MI (myocardial infarct, AKA, heart attack)

    2. Louis Fyne

      1. talk to a doctor who has read the papers. and/or read the papers yourself

      2. IMO, absolutely do not take small-dose aspirin regularly if you have kidney issues or a family history of kidney issues. There are papers…essentially the aspirin chronically constricts the kidney blood vessels, impairing your kidney function, particularly as one ages.

      3. IMO, diet and exercise are the best preventative methods. Eat mostly plants. not a lot, except on special occasions. and avoid sugar as much as possible.

      4. Medicine and the scientific method have a spotty track record….. lousy science gets passed as “fact” and poor health outcomes ensue. See the low fat craze from the 1980’s. (when science should have been pushing low sugar)


      1. Louis Fyne

        IMO, Americans would be better off if we moved away from bread, potatoes, and meat to either Italian-Spanish Mediterranean-style and/or East Asian-style. ymmv

        1. Anthony G Stegman

          East asians eat lots of rice, noodles, buns, and other high carb foods. They also suffer from increasing rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.

    3. ghiggler

      Reduced chance of clotting should mean reduced chance of blood flow being interrupted by clots in the brain, heart or lungs. This is the good thing that aspirin is supposed to do.

      Increased chance of bleeding is the downside – which is particularly bad in the brain, stomach or intestines.

      I don’t have a clear answer for this but, given family history, the possibility of a brain bleed is something I keep in mind. So for me, I’m avoiding aspirin unless I were diagnosed with higher chance of clotting problems due to say, atrial fibrillation or deep vein thrombosis because of inability to move.

    4. Brunches with Cats

      Looks like this is the official recommendation following a public discussion last October. Ironically, I had just been in the hospital for a couple of days following an ER visit due to classic symptoms of a stroke. I have hereditarily high cholesterol and high BP due to an Aderall-type med, so even though the imaging was inconclusive, I was told I’d had a stroke and sent home with a bag of pills, including low dose aspirin. My protests were reprimanded/shamed with, “You just had a stroke!” as though I was intentionally killing myself by not following instructions. A week or so later, I had an appointment with my PCP, who essentially agreed with that diagnosis and treatment, and referred me to a neurologist. I told him I’d take the baby aspirin pending the neurologist’s opinion, but that was it.

      Well, after ten days or so, I started noticing bruises all over my body. I didn’t connect it with the aspirin until waking up one morning with my right arm bruised all the way around, from wrist halfway up to my elbow, as though I’d slept in handcuffs. And since it wasn’t being recommended anymore anyway, it was a no-brainer to stop taking it.

      l finally got in to see the neurologist in late November. Lo and behold, she said it definitely wasn’t a stroke. Turns out it was an inner ear thing. All that bruising, for nothing — not that it would have been acceptable even if the neurologist had confirmed the ER diagnosis.

      I’m not suggesting that anyone ditch the baby aspirin against their doctor’s advice but simply illustrating by way of personal experience that the side effects can be substantial and have to be weighed against the benefits.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > for the “graph theory” enthusiasts

      I read that paper but understanding was just over the horizon, frustratingly.

      Can any actual graph expert supply a worked example of this “cover” thing? With a real life graph, of which there are many?

      1. Steve H.

        Not an expert, but I’ll take a crack. If you have a three-node graph, no loop will appear until there is an average of two edges per node.

        It seems trivial, and previous proofs were nearly there, but the authors used this one weird trick of averaging and it solved for the general class of equations, not just particular applications. The interest isn’t so much a developmental taxonomy of structures, it’s that it provides a proven solution in an Ockham/Kolmogorov sense, such that subsequent work is tied to a single strong foundation. In the mathematical universe, the sun of harmony hath broke the clouds.

        Ha, ha? keep time : How sour sweet Music is,
        When Time is broke, and no Proportion kept?

  2. Wukchumni

    My Kevin (since ’07) got into a boxing match with his conscience, with the former lying on the floor.

    I guess i’m lucky to have him, what if instead I had a standard issue Congressman of whom I could barely tell you anything about?

    1. shinola

      Thanks for linking that bit. I’ve been thinking this Russia-Ukraine war must be like “manna from Heaven” to the USA’s MIC. Former General/ President Eisenhower’s warnings have been totally ignored; not much profit in peace…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The “Gentlemen’s Agreement”

      The remedy really is not to watch the teebee at all (but then of course one detaches from “the narrative” which may not be adaptive). If only we didn’t have to cobble the news together by curating extremely random sources. (Does anybody remember Vietnam War-era reporting? It actually existed! Today, we have Gonzalo Lira. Not to take anything away from Lira, but Ukraine reporting seems a little… underpowered, once you throw out the propaganda organs).

  3. Wukchumni

    Most all aspects of the supply chain to and from China are broken with Covid calling, and a retail rapture seems likely.

    One thing i’ve noticed about us, is when we can’t have something, it only makes us want all that much more. As made in China consumer goods dwindle, we could see something similar to new cars, where prices get adjusted upwards over suggested retail price in a battle of supply versus demand.

    It does present another interesting chapter in the USA-USSR Bizarro world comparison in that towards the collapse, our shelves were full of nothing, similar to the USSR.

    Our new car lots have a similar look to the Lada dealership in Moscow displaying just a few cars.

  4. Bugs

    In the chart for Covid cases in top us travel destinations, I think we should be clear that France is still keeping accurate statistics and offering free testing at pharmacies, results of which are automatically sent to the health ministry and the statistics institutions. The UK is not doing anything of the sort. I have colleagues there who didn’t even bother staying at home with a positive test. Same in the US, for what it’s worth.

    1. Mikel

      This is going to be real “cute” in subscription-as-service-land. The US keeps squeezing money into fewer hands and those hands are going to have to subsidize cheaper prices in foreign countries that are feeling the effects of war and sanctions in other ways.

  5. Mikel

    This is an interestingly twisted narrative:

    Headline: Chipotle earnings: Price increases, new locations boost bottom line despite inflation.

    First line: Chipotle Mexican Grill said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit and revenue rose as it saw more sales and dealt with inflation by raising menu prices.

    Rising prices are not “depite inflation”. They are right in line as a contributor to inflationary times.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Looks like the war in the Ukraine is starting to spread out. There were several attacks in the breakaway region (from Moldova) of Transnistria where two radio towers were brought down and the security headquarters were attacked. Transnistria has been controlled by Russia for decades now and Moldova is getting nervous how the war may spread to them. Unbelievably, Al Jazeera had this guy on from the German Marshall Fund on in an interview and blamed Russia for the attacks. I noticed too that this turkey had a little Ukrainian flag on his desk in the background so not even trying to hide his bias-


  7. Jason Boxman

    Widespread infection raises a troubling prospect: a potential increase in cases of long Covid, a poorly understood constellation of lingering symptoms.

    Up to 30 percent of people infected with the coronavirus may have persistent symptoms, including worrisome changes to the brain and heart. Vaccination is thought to lower the odds of long Covid, although it is unclear by how much.


    Sixty percent of Americans, including 75 percent of children, had been infected with the coronavirus by February, federal health officials reported on Tuesday — another remarkable milestone in a pandemic that continues to confound expectations.

    That’s insane. So that’s millions of likely long COVID cases.


    1. Jason Boxman

      I’m not sure this guy understands what that word means.

      Perhaps his time with COVID will come as well.

    2. ambrit

      I wouldn’t put it past him to say; “Out of the Pandemic phase and into the End of Days phase.”
      There is another meaning possible with the locution “out of phase.”

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