2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on WHO, so this is an open thread. Enjoy! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

This is a Tangager (mentioned by alert reader wol), albeit from Venezuela.

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* * *

Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, but if some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative that “Covid is over,” and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

* * *

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:

The train is really rolling, now. Biden has handily beaten Trump’s first two peaks, even accepting the data, which of course nobody does. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out. Also 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.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The blue “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 113,000 * 6 = 678,000, i.e. not gamed. Biden has now handily broken 600,000, good job.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

Worth noting that cases have doubled tripled in four weeks.

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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

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

MWRA wastewater data:

Down (for both north and south systems). Any local reasons for this?

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.

Cases lag wastewater data.

From Biobot Analytics:

Northeast retrospectively revised downward. I don’t like this at all, and maybe I should drop this chart. The other thing I’m not liking is that big time lag with the variants. April 27? I want to know about BA.4 and BA.5 (dubbed “variants of concern” by The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week, but not WHO).

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

Status quo. The West and the Northeast are worse (so the chart is dynamic).

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:

East coast, West Coast, and Midwest are all red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile). Back to normal, so yesterday’s debacle (this chart disappeared) was only an editorial screw-up (CDC drone: “That guy Strether is onto us!”):

More and more orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,028,924 1,028,337. Now at the second-lowest “valley,” which is good. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Big jump in the UK and France! (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

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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 AM:

AM writes: “Here is a picture of a horse chestnut tree in bloom in Edgewood (Cranston) RI. The tree is near the William H Hall public library on Broad Street, and I couldn’t resist attempting a photo of the spectacular blossoms on my walk to the grocery store.”

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NOTE ON PAYPAL: As some readers may know, PayPal whacked Consortium News’s account, for no justification that I can see. It’s to be hoped that Consortium News has its account completely restored, and that NC doesn’t come under the same ban hammer. In the meantime, until I/we can come up with an alternative, I must continue to rely on PayPal (and rely I do). I will be cleaning out the account daily, and PayPal does give a heads-up, so your risk is minimal. Please carry on as before, or, if you feel you must, write me and I will send you directions for sending a check. Please put “PayPal” in the subject line. Thank you for your support! It is much appreciated, and helps me with responsibilities. –lambert

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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. jo6pac

    Well I got nothing so I’ll finish my hot dog and take nap.

    I hope the WHO thingy is about the band and not the front company for bill gates;-)

      1. Glen

        But later that year, all good things can get a little over done. Like when Keith loaded up the drum kit a bit too much on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Show.

        Keith moon puts to much gun powder in his drum kit and blows up in his face

        I know I saw this in “The Kids Are All Right”, but I might have seen it on live TV too.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks for that, jo6pac. Gates would be my nominee for Most Evil Billionaire, but maybe he’s more deluded than evil. He seems to be saying:

      I look around this world, and what I see is inefficiency. Birds flying around willy-nilly. Dandelions that my army of gardeners have to clean out of one of my lawns. Miles and miles of trees with nobody living in them but bears and wolves. It’s disgusting.

      I believe that the Great Invisible Hand has anointed me to re-design this decadent, wasteful world. As someone who knows how use every trick in the book to make capital give its return, I could make sure that every living thing on this planet worked 24/7 to contribute to the Ever Growing Economy bestowed on us by the merciful Great Invisible Hand. No more shrimp just drifting with the tide. No more ground hogs eating our spinach. We’ll just have vast tracts of monocropped soil-like substance growing the latest in GM-engineered Frankenplants and fed all necessary nutrients and pesticides with a smart irrigation system.

      I must go now to work on my robot bee project with the college I dropped out of to make my billions.

      Evil or deluded? Does it make a difference?

  2. Hepativore

    I did not know this…apparently, Klaus Schulze died last month…the reason is undisclosed, but it was some sort of chronic, age-related illness. He was 74. He was one of the founding members of Tangerine Dream, and then in the very early 1970’s left for his solo career. His music is very similar, as he also did a lot of very avantgarde electronic instrumental music like Tangerine Dream, and his best material was from the 1970’s and 1980’s. This is a later added bonus track to his ‘Cyborg’ album from 1973.


      1. Thistlebreath

        A divine pairing was TD and Michael Mann in “Thief” that starred James Caan and a memorable cameo by Willie Nelson as “Okla.” Tuesday Weld did a fine job as well. The first few creative stirrings that would lead to “Miami Vice” are teased in the film’s visual style.


        This combo is so flat out stylish that it’s held up for me over dozens of screenings. And yes, a Thermite stick will unzip almost any metal container.

        1. Hepativore

          I like the 1977 Sorcerer soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, and it is also one of my favorite movies of all time, and I think it is better than the original Wages of Fear from the 1950’s. There is something ominous and fitting about the soundtrack for two rusting hulks of trucks driving through mud, rain, and thick jungle in deepest, darkest, South America bearing unstable explosives.


          1. Martin Oline

            I absolutely loved that movie. Thank you for the reminder, I’ll have to look for a replay.

          2. Alex Cox

            Sorcerer is a great film, with a great score. But don’t underestimate the original Salaire de la Peur!

    1. megrim

      I have a standing rule that if TD did the soundtrack, I will watch the movie. They scored so many unusual films back in the day.

  3. Samuel Conner

    This AM a friend of a friend stopped by to pick up plants from the ‘backyard nursery’. Having solved my supply side problems, it is gratifying that the demand side is picking up (it helps that everything is gratis, but even then it’s surprising the good things that people won’t accept at zero cost). In keeping with the prevailing public health strikethrough{gaslighting} narrative, the visitor was unmasked. I was wearing my customary 3M Aura 9210+ N95 respirator and was not so subtly encouraging ‘physical distancing’ by wearing work clothes visibly, and probably osmically, in need of laundering. Why waste clean water and good laundry soap washing clothes that you intend to, really soon, make really dirty again? The present value of keeping people at, or beyond, arm’s length adds crisis value to this down-to-earth consideration.

    The visitor accepted the plants, a small bag of fertilizer (if one wants repeat ‘customers’, it’s important to facilitate a good outcome) and, after a few carefully chosen words about personal safety, some proffered N95s.

    Maybe they will be used.

    1. John Beech

      Samuel Conner says . . . if one wants repeat ‘customers’, it’s important to facilitate a good outcome.

      NEVER have truer words been spoken. Well stated, sir!

      1. Samuel Conner

        Thank you, JB.

        A “trick” that I have been using to ‘seduce’ non-gardeners into gardening is to grow plants intended for newbies in larger pots with more fertilizer, to get them robust and more likely to survive the mishaps and neglect that are common with beginners (with which I am quite familiar from first-hand experience, not that long ago, as a beginner myself.) Loading a big root ball with slow-release fertilizer will help the plant thrive even if it is not fed again by the recipient. It’s not that I want the ‘customers’ to come back to me per se, but I want them to come back to gardening in future years, so it’s important that the first year be a happy experience.

        It turns out that there is more than one kind of ‘repeat customer’, and not all are equally desirable.

        More friends of friends stopped by in the PM to collect plants and fertilizer. As I was putting things away, a startled and exceedingly well-fed-looking ground hog broke cover and dashed across my path into some dense shrubs. While I didn’t recognize the specific animal, I’ve been tormented for years by what I think is a single ground hog that has a taste for lettuce and kale. The animal would show up, demolish the salad trays, and then move on, coming back a few weeks later to check the status of the ‘salad bar.’ I hadn’t seen a hint of it this year until now.

        Sure enough, the more mature red lettuce and kale were chewed down to stubs. Happily, I am succession planting this year and there are trays of small plants coming up that evidently were not worth the creature’s time, and it is easy to start more.

        This was a sad end to an otherwise happy day — 100+ plants placed into 5 families — and I spent the evening precariously raising my benches another 16 inches in hope of putting the delectables out of the d@mned creature’s reach. I have a honking big Havahart trap but the creature refuses to enter it. I’d rather not descend to the level of a Conibear decapitation trap — the creature’s crimes don’t rise to the level of a capital offense, though they make me quite cross.

        So, in addition to the desirable customers, I have a repeat pilferer — a ‘gardenlifter.’ “Shrink” is a problem even in non-commercial “enterprises”.

  4. Robert Hahl

    A polyglot language teacher with a unique method: learn how to pronounce words first, by listening to the syllables and rhythms, before knowing what they mean. Idahosa Ness tried to make a business out of this approach but eventually just released all the videos. His basic courses for a dozen languages are free.


    Here is an intro to his current project.

    Au revoir y’all.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That looks so interesting – by a coincidence I was just going to start my nightly lesson in Japanese – my current course focuses on exactly this technique (so far as I can see from a quick look at that website), using chorusing and shadowing to get the rhythm and tone/pitch of a language correctly. Its a very powerful technique, I wish I’d come across it years ago.

      1. Synoia

        Perhaps the US could improve by learning British English.

        And all sound like Boris. He is expert in speaking a language without delivering any meaning.

          1. JBird4049

            For that matter, which American English? Even now plenty of people do not speak California-Los Angeles-Hollywood-Broadcasting-Professional Managerial Class that is assumed to be proper American, which is nonsense.

            The range and strength is much less distinct then fifty or seventy years ago, but still quite real.

      2. The Rev Kev

        When I was relearning German (from High School) when in Germany, I used to have the radio playing in the background that had a lot of speaking. I figured that even if I did not understand everything that they were saying, that my mind would be taking in the the rhyme and rhythm of the language. It seems to have helped as by the time that I left several months later and was able to speak English again, that I found some English words awkward to pronounce and that I almost had to mouth them.

    2. Joe Well

      Wow, I knew people who were friends with him, they all said how nice he was, and a lot of fun which comes through in his videos.

      It looks like Mimic Method is still a business but it is focusing on live online classes and workshops with the free content as a hook, or did I misunderstand?

  5. haywood

    I like the new intro about covid. What needs to be said.

    Now to figure out what needs to be done…

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Just back from physical therapy. I was the only person masked out of about 25 people. No staff was masked. No patients were masked except pour moi.

  6. Wukchumni

    Dude, like have you heard about Bitchin’Coin?

    So it’s totally limited to how many people want to buy them, and please no hodads or gremmies on this caper, serfs up!

    1. ambrit

      Serf City USA!
      But, as Lord Hendrix put it, “And you’ll never hear serf music again.” The “blowoff” is built into this caper.

  7. The Rev Kev

    I do sometimes wonder if there is another site on the net that gives such a comprehensive view of the stats and figure of the present Pandemic and does not even try to pretend that it is all over and so passe. One official site here in Oz you have to dig around and add up the figures on a piece of paper to get an overall view.

    1. lambert strether

      > I do sometimes wonder if there is another site on the net that gives such a comprehensive view of the stats and figure of the present Pandemic and does not even try to pretend that it is all over and so passe.

      [lambert preens]

      I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen one. I’m also not too bad at calling the turns :-)

      I think of it as a reader service….

  8. thoughtfulperson

    Possible local reason for MWRA wastewater data: its warming up in the NE. More people eating and hanging out outdoors. Less transmission.

    If this holds up, we should see cases heading up in too hot to be outside areas like FL and TX.

    1. Joe Well

      Also just the nature of waves, crest then trough, until the next wave…and the northeast seems to be catching the waves first.

  9. griffen

    Tornadic activity is prominent herein this Monday evening. Upstate region of South Carolina, my phone went ballistic and the local TV weather forecasters are updating the forecast. Fortunately or not, tornadoes will move quickly!

    I got slowly used to these alerts whilst living in the Dallas metro region and North Texas. I have no clue if an actual tornado has touched down as yet. These maps are pretty wild to watch.

      1. griffen

        all good here, thanks. No discernible damage around that I can see, but thankful rain cooled things off a ltitle.

  10. thoughtfulperson

    Fwiw, meant wastewater data. Cases are pretty much meaningless (even official deaths I suspect). Only more certain stats are wastewater and excess deaths.

  11. Revenant

    Hi Lambert,

    The data from Johns Hopkins CSSE via 91-divoc.com that you show for the UK are consistently screwy. IN fact, today is a doozy: I went to the 91-divoc site and it told me (hovering over the green line) that after several days of sub-10k new cases, the UK printed +2.1m two days ago and -1.9m yesterday. Only it chose to display the -1.9m as +1.9m.

    England has truly excellent data (yes, do allow for absolute levels of case ascertainment being suppressed by ending free community infection testing but, nevertheless, the case trend and the remaining absolute data we collect and present are excellent) available here.


    The UK data is worse because Scotland follows its own schedule of data collection. Devolutionary eye roll….

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Andropov was very smart and brain-sharp right till his death, so far as I know.

      1. dermotmoconnor

        You’ll know USA is really in the sheeter when the American Yeltsin arrives. Some blowhard poseur with pseudo-mil cred, a baby Trump. Country won’t be lucky enough to get a Putin though.

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    Seen on reddit and offered without any comment beyond a question .. . ” well? what does it mean?”

    . . . ” BREAKING: 🇷🇺 Russia’s Counsellor to the United Nations in Geneva has resigned.

    Boris Bondarev: “Never have I been so ashamed of my country.”

    UN Watch is now calling on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations—and worldwide—to follow his moral example and resign.”


    1. The Rev Kev

      Redux from the First Cold War when you had people jump borders and denounce their former country i.e. defectors. Another name for these people are traitors and Lee Harvey Oswald was one such character.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Was Jane Fonda a traitor?

        Are the various Myanmar diplomats and ambassadors resigning their posts just lately traitors to Myanmar?

        1. The Rev Kev

          I am shocked, shocked that you do not know. If your sides wins, they are heroes. If your side lose, they are traitors.

          As for Jane Fonda, if she had gone to North Vietnam as a peacemaker, I would have no quarrel with that. But to let herself be filmed in the seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun vehicle that was used to shoot at American aircraft, then she crossed the line-


          1. Basil Pesto

            Why is Bondarev a traitor in this instance? This just seems like an inversion of the cheap slight on western iconoclasts (from the McCarthy era through to Assange, for example) who don’t go along with whatever their country or the dominant faction therein happens to say. When such people have a personal crisis of conscience that goes against western leadership, it’s great, but against Russian leadership, their treacherous stooges? (one should be able to accept that many Russians themselves will not believe in the precept that Russia can do no wrong and can in fact do Bad Things and should be able to state this publicly and act on this belief if it is weighing on their conscience as an employee of the state without that necessarily making them a traitorous stooge. I believe some US diplomats and civil servants even opposed the Iraq invasion. They were probably called traitors for their trouble too.

            1. Mark Gisleson

              Or maybe Bondarev has always been an American agent, and Biden just burned him for a momentary headline?

          2. Procopius

            I reluctantly have to agree with you that Jane Fonda fits the requirements for treason, so she was a traitor. However, I was stationed outside of Pleiku when she made her trip, and was very comfortable with it. That excursion to the exotic Far East nearly broke the U.S. Army, and, I guess, the other services as well.

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