2:00PM Water Cooler 8/2/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I’m going to add some more under Politics, because if I don’t catch up now, I never will! –lambert UPDATE Finished. I got absorbed and probably added too much…

Bird Song of the Day

Purple Martin, Georgia, United States. Recording made in 1955! Another species of songbird.

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Administration

“Opinion: Nancy Pelosi: Why I’m leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan” [WaPo]. No suspense in the Post “newsroom,” I see:

Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience. Taiwan is a leader in governance: currently, in addressing the covid-19 pandemic and championing environmental conservation and climate action. It is a leader in peace, security and economic dynamism: with an entrepreneurial spirit, culture of innovation and technological prowess that are envies of the world.

Yet, disturbingly, this vibrant, robust democracy — named one of the freest in the world by Freedom House and proudly led by a woman, President Tsai Ing-wen — is under threat.

In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is “likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”

The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC.

In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.

Our visit — one of several congressional delegations to the island — in no way contradicts the long-standing one-China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo.

Our visit is part of our broader trip to the Pacific — including Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan — focused on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance.

Shouldn’t we lose the war in Ukraine first? Meanwhile:

Oh, look. A cauldron.

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Better than nothing. But late. And Facebook?!

Here is the link to the Facebook page.


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PA: Does Dr. Oz have a campaign staff? Do they not have media buyers in New Jersey?

PA: On the trail, though perhaps not very:

WI: “A Democrat who dropped out of the Wisconsin Senate race is giving the party a $600,000 surprise gift” [NBC]. “The Milwaukee Bucks executive who dropped out of the Wisconsin Senate race this week is in a giving mood. After he immediately threw his support behind fellow Democrat Mandela Barnes, the state’s lieutenant governor, Alex Lasry is now offering another gift to boost his former rival. Lasry said he will use $584,000 worth of previously purchased airtime to run attack ads against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.” • This doesn’t happen all the time?

WY: “WATCH: Liz Cheney’s unpopularity grows, called ‘an embarrassment’ by Wyoming voters” [The Gazette]. “‘Can I cuss? Hell no,’ said Wyoming resident Sharon Tuggle bluntly before noting Cheney’s work on the Jan. 6 committee. ‘She’s done us dirty.’ In 2020, former President Donald Trump won around 70% of the vote in Wyoming. He remains popular in the state. ‘Look at how [Cheney’s] done Trump,’ Tuggle said. ‘She’s supposed to be supporting him. She’s a Republican, for crying out loud.'” • I’m picturing a sort of Mike and Joe situation on MSNBC, except with Liz Cheney and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


“Trump beats Biden, Harris in hypothetical 2024 match-up: poll” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump leads President Biden and Vice President Harris in hypothetical 2024 presidential match-ups, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday. The poll found that if the 2024 election were held today, 45 percent of respondents would vote for Trump in a race against Biden, who attracted the support of 41 percent of respondents, while 14 percent were unsure or didn’t know. In a hypothetical Trump-Harris match-up, Trump’s lead expands to 7 percentage points. Forty-seven percent said they would support Trump, compared to 40 percent for Harris and 13 percent who were unsure or didn’t know. Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, noted how Biden would be a weaker candidate in a race against Trump today than he performed in 2020.” • Ah, Mark Penn, reviled by Clintonites, perhaps even justly. Of course, all this is before the effort to make Biden seem Churchillian. Pass the victory gin. Liberal Democrat: “But Trump is a crook!” And–

““I’ve Delivered”: New Disclosures Demolish President Biden’s Denials on Hunter Dealings” [The Hill]. “New disclosures are demolishing the continued denials of President Biden that he had no knowledge and nothing to do with his son’s business interests. The emails (reviewed by Fox and The Daily Mail) include exchanges with at least 14 of Hunter Biden’s business associates while Joe Biden was vice president…. There are emails of Ukrainian and other foreign clients thanking Hunter Biden for arranging meetings with his father. There are photos from dinners and meetings that tie President Biden to these figures, including a 2015 dinner with a group of Hunter Biden’s Russian and Kazakh clients. People apparently were told to avoid directly referring to President Biden. In one email, Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter’s, was instructed by Biden associate James Gilliar not to speak of the former veep’s connection to any transactions: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.” Instead, the emails apparently refer to President Biden with code names such as “Celtic” or “the big guy.” In one, “the big guy” is discussed as possibly receiving a 10 percent cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm; other emails reportedly refer to Hunter Biden paying portions of his father’s expenses and taxes.” • ”Say a prayer for the common foot soldier.” After all, what song among us has grown up to be their father’s bagman?

“Donald Trump’s Great Escape: How The Former President Solved His Debt Crisis” [Forbes]. “he day Donald Trump left the White House, his business was facing $900 million of debt coming due in the next four years. Working through those loans would have been a significant undertaking for any firm, but the Trump Organization was contending with additional challenges. Deutsche Bank, Trump’s longtime lender, was reportedly looking to end its relationship with the real estate mogul. Two other financial institutions, Signature Bank and Professional Bank, had spread the word that they were cutting ties in the wake of January 6, 2021. Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney was getting close to charging the Trump Organization with a series of financial crimes, including falsifying business records, conspiracy and fraud. Soon plenty of people were trumpeting the end of an era.” The walls were closing in! More: “In the last 15 months, the Trump Organization—under indictment, with its founder characterizing the charges as part of a “political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Demo­crats”—has managed to rework almost all $900 million of the debt it had coming due. Two of its most troublesome Deutsche Bank loans, totaling $295 million, are now off the books. The former president sold his money-losing hotel in Washington, D.C., to an investment shop connected to former Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and retired boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, thanks to help from a firm tied to computer billionaire Michael Dell. Trump also refinanced $125 million of debt against a Miami golf resort and reworked a $100 million mortgage at Trump Tower. Trump’s business still has plenty of debt—an estimated $1.1 billion in all—but now most of it doesn’t come due until 2028 or later. Two loans that haven’t been refinanced—a $13 million mortgage against a property on Third Avenue in Manhattan and a $45 million loan against a tower in Chicago—mature in 2024. But neither of those should be too difficult to pay back. After all, Trump now has an estimated $375 million in cash on hand, more than three times the sum he had at any point during his presidency, thanks to the spate of dealmaking.” • You gotta respect the grift!

“The Memo: No, really — What if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez runs for president?” [The Hill]. “Ocasio-Cortez has conspicuously declined to commit to endorsing Biden for a second term. In a CNN interview last month, she told Dana Bash, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.’ The New York congresswoman, who shot to fame in 2018 when she defeated then-Rep. Joseph Crowley in a Democratic primary, is already a fundraising juggernaut. She could easily raise the funds to run a competitive campaign. She also has an enormous social media following — more than 13 million followers on Twitter alone. Pollsters have begun testing her name among other far more seasoned figures and, while the levels of support are modest for now, she is plainly in the mix. An Echelon Insights poll this month, asking Democratic-leaning voters who they would support if Biden eschewed a second term, put her in sixth place — but in a tightly bunched group of candidates, only 2 percentage points behind third-placed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Vice President Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg led that poll…. Two other factors suggest an Ocasio-Cortez campaign shouldn’t be written off out of hand. First: Yes, she is old enough to run. The minimum age to be president is 35. Ocasio-Cortez will celebrate her 35th birthday roughly three weeks before Election Day 2024. The second is that she has long leveled a broad critique of the Democratic Party leadership in Washington — in summary, that it is too cozy with rich, powerful interests and not responsive enough to the needs of its own voters.” • A “broad critique” by Beltway standards, I think. Still, wouldn’t the Democrat gerontocracy’s intracranial splatterfest be fun?

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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“Mainstream Democrats Picked Henry Cuellar. Look Where It Got Them” [Teen Vogue]. “Last week, Cuellar was called out for co-sponsoring a bill earlier in July which many see as a weakening of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, alongside two Republicans. The so-called ‘Worker Flexibility and Choice Act‘ amends the act, and establishes ‘worker flexibility agreements’ which serve to exempt gig workers from the federal minimum wage, preempting state- or city-level laws that enshrine a minimum wage. This could have disastrous consequences for American workers. As explained by Jacobin columnist Liza Featherstone, ‘The bill creates whole new ways for employers to get out of paying minimum wage and overtime, extending the gig economy’s stress and chaos to millions more workers.'” • It got them exactly where they wanted to be: Once they had two rotating villains: Manchin and Sinema. Now that Manchin is becoming a face instead of a heel, he needs to be replaced: Hence, Cuellar.

“Slice of Profits From North Carolina Casino Goes to Relatives of Politicians” [Wall Street Journal]. “A company profiting from a new North Carolina tribal casino gave shares to politicians’ family members and high-profile political figures as the casino’s backers were seeking federal approval for the project, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. One of the stakes is held by John B. Clyburn, a brother of Rep. James Clyburn, the powerful South Carolina Democratic congressman who introduced a bill in Congress last year that smoothed the way for the new Catawba Two Kings Casino. Other stakes went to Michael Haley, husband of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican who served in the Trump administration as ambassador to the United Nations; Butch Bowers, a lawyer who has represented both Ms. Haley and former President Donald Trump; and Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic political operative who helped manage campaigns in 2008 for Hillary Clinton and then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to the documents. The stakes, held indirectly through another entity, gave each of the recipients a slice of a slot-machine leasing company called Kings Mountain Equipment Supply LLC, whose major shareholders include financial backers of the casino or their associates, according to the documents. The company gets 20 cents of every $1 in profits the casino generates from hundreds of slot machines. The shareholdings are small—far less than 1% ownership for each recipient, the documents show. Those involved deny any quid pro quo.” • I don’t think people like Clyburn became what they are today by turning down anything, no matter how “small.” Why take shares at all, for pity’s sake?

“How AIPAC Betrayed Its Former Support for Democracy” [Tikkun]. “I am long past my years of cooperating with AIPAC. Nevertheless, I defended it on at least one occasion. In early 2019, when Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted that support for Israel is ‘all about the Benjamins,’ I joined those who condemned her statement as antisemitic (she later apologized). With respect to AIPAC, the implicit target of her tweet, many things may have gone awry but not the fact that it had never endorsed or contributed to a campaign.” Tediously literal-minded! More: “This was always a point of pride with the organization. They were there to educate. The ‘PAC’ in the name stood for ‘Public Affairs Committee,’ not ‘Political Action Committee.’ There were no Benjamins involved. That all changed this year when AIPAC founded the United Democracy Project (UDP) to endorse candidates and channel dark money to support them.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Do We Get the Government We Deserve?” [Wisdom of Crowds]. “The reality is that even in advanced democracies such as our own, it becomes challenging to believe in small-d democracy under conditions of duress. We, as Americans, are currently living under such conditions. By this I mean something quite specific. When electoral outcomes seem personally threatening, because so much (or too much) is at stake, then it becomes easier for one to put aside his or her supposed commitment to democracy. We are seeing a version of this with a Republican Party that, to various degrees, has indicated discomfort with—or outright opposition to—an election outcome in 2020 that was not to its liking. I don’t think Democrats would have been nearly as bad, but I do think that the counterfactual history of a Trump victory in 2020 would have created some degree of political instability, driven by the inability of tens of millions of Democrats to come to terms with the legitimacy of a second-term Trump presidency.”• Not controversial, given that the Democrat response to 2016 was RussiaGate.

“RNC links up with ‘Stop the Steal’ advocates to train poll workers” [Politico]. • What really frosts me about this kind of story is that is begins and ends with the aghastitude. Why or why don’t Democrats compete on this turf? What’s holding them up?


As readers know, I stan for nasal sprays and vaccines:

“Evaluating the efficacy and safety of a novel prophylactic nasal spray in the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection: A multi-centre, double blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial” [ScienceDirect]. “This study reports the development of a prophylactic nasal spray targeted to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is simple to produce and easily affordable…. The nasal spray was administered 3 times daily over a 45 day course…. The test agent significantly reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers, with 62% fewer infections when compared to placebo. It was found to be safe and well tolerated and offers a novel treatment option for prophylaxis against SARS-CoV-2 infection.” • I have to say, “Don’t try this at home,” but here are the ingredients (though not, naturally, their proportions):

The components of the test spray include sterile water, polyethylene glycol 400, poloxamer 188, xylitol, disodium hydrogen phosphate, sodium chloride, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, ginger oil, eucalyptus oil, basil oil, clove oil, sodium hydrogen carbonate, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, sodium hyaluronate, calcium chloride dihydrate, benzalkonium chloride, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, potassium chloride, glycerol, and zinc chloride.

Ring any bells with our more medically aggressive readers? The entire piece is well worth a read, because it has comparison to other studies of nasal sprays. It’s mostly written in English (not jargon).

“Next Generation Covid Vaccine Update: Intranasal & Other Mucosal Vaxes” [Hilda Bastian, Absolutely Maybe]. Bastian’s periodically updated list. “There are 88 mucosal vaccines in this post with preclinical and/or clinical trial results, or registered trials—16 more than in my last post…. There is still only 1 mucosal Covid vax rolled out—the Razi Cov Pars vaccine in Iran. But several vaccines have advanced.” •

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“Three Pressing Questions About Monkeypox: Spread, Vaccination, Treatment” [New York Times]. Given that smallpox vaccines work for monkeypox: “In 2018, the F.D.A. approved a drug to treat smallpox called tecovirimat, or TPOXX, based on data from animal studies. There are only limited data on its use in people. Supply is not an issue: The national stockpile holds about 1.7 million doses. Yet the drug has been difficult to acquire, and that has meant that ambiguities about how well and for whom the drug works have persisted even as case counts rise. Because tecovirimat is not approved specifically to treat monkeypox, it can only be prescribed through a cumbersome “investigational drug protocol” that, until recently, required doctors to send the C.D.C. detailed reports, a journal maintained by the patients to record their progress and photographs of the lesions. With so many hurdles, many clinics did not offer tecovirimat at all; even physicians at well-funded institutions were managing to treat only two or three patients per day.” • Groundpox Day.

Our new monkeypox Czar:

Daskalakis is, naturally, a droplet goon–

“Monkeypox: Avoiding the Mistakes of Past Infectious Disease Epidemics” [Demetre Daskalakis, R. Paul McClung, Leandro Mena, et al, Annals of Internal Medicine]. “Monkeypox virus infection can be transmitted through cutaneous routes during close or intimate contact with a person whose lesions are not yet crusted over and healed, via fomites that have had contact with a person with monkeypox, and by respiratory droplets among people with close, sustained face-to-face contact.” But as we linked to yesterday:

So, apparently, Monkeypox is airborne (“spread through the air when they cough, sneeze, or talk“). Now, I have very strong priors on airborne transmission, as readers know. So I’m not making a strong claim, here (i.e., I haven’t seen that Monkeypox fills a room like cigarette smoke). But again, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before: Mixed messaging at the best, no real theory of transmission that the public can understand and act upon, and no investigation except by out-of-paradigm outsiders. (It’s not called “droplet dogma” for nothing.) How I would like to be wrong!

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Maskstravaganza: Handy response to “masks don’t work”:

“This DIY box helps clear indoor air of the coronavirus. Why aren’t more people using them?” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘People aren’t embracing any of the other things that can avert disaster in this pandemic,’ said LeVine, a 49-year-old cannabis company executive with an electrical engineering degree who started building trippy do-it-yourself filtration boxes as a hobby. ‘Maybe I can create a way to clean the air that people want in the middle of the room.’ As the pandemic drags on, cleaning up indoor air has become a passion project not just for aerosol scientists and epidemiologists, but for a grab bag of concerned citizens like LeVine.” • To answer the question, more people aren’t using Corsi-Rosenthal boxes because Dr. Jill Biden never went on the Today Show and assembled one, in the midst of some adoring school kids. This isn’t hard.

“Experts support this DIY project to protect your post-COVID-19 lungs during wildfire season” [Loma Linda University]. • Easy-to-follow directions for building a CR box.

Another passion project:

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Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, or, Aleister Crowley as Ur-Libertarian:

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.

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Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Lambert here: This tapewatcher is slightly befuddled by the case data. Set aside the worrying assumption that the curves for real cases are the same shape as the curves for reported cases, even though there’s nothing to prove this. But cases are not going through the roof, at least in terms of case reporting. Data artifact? “Vaccine wall”? Why this slow, sawtooth pattern when BA.5 is known to be very infectious? Speaking of immunity walls:

• “Immunity walls” [Eric Topol, Ground Truths]. “There have been marked differences for how the population of different countries respond to the Covid pandemic, perhaps best exemplified in the BA.5 variant wave…. The “immunity wall” of a population is an aggregate of many factors that include demographics such as age and comorbidities, like obesity or diabetes. Age is especially important given immunosenescence, the less potent immune response generally mounted with advanced age. For the pandemic, of particular note, it includes prior infections, vaccines, boosters, combined infections and boosters (hybrid immunity) and waning of the immunity from vaccines or infections over time. … With that background, let’s probe deeper into why the patterns are so different between New Zealand, Australia vs South Africa, US, and many other countries…. To summarize, the impact of BA.5 that I have described as the worst variant of the pandemic by its biologic properties is seen clinically where there are less intact immunity walls, mostly as a function of prior infections and the type (main variant underpinning) of infections. Our immunity wall in the United States has helped provide a lesser hit of BA.5, now starting to show a plateau of hospitalizations at a level below that of other countries in Europe, even though our vaccination and booster rate in the US is substantially lower than these countries.” • I’m not the only tape-watcher….

Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~125,000 Today, it’s ~125,000 and 125,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 750,000 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

A slow upswing in the rest of the south, beneath the Florida and Texas gyrations.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

North Carolina and Georgia have no data today (hence the gaps in the chart).

The West:

California drives the national drop. This big drop is supported by yesterday’s Walgreens positivity data (although not by wastewater. The populations for these two populations don’t necessarily overlap, however.) But I’m just not sure I can trust California data. For example, here is San Diego wastewater:

What do California readers think?


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 31:

-0.4%. (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.

Lambert here: See Water Cooler of 7/29 for oddities with the chart on that day (like no value at all for New York). We do see a rapid change in slope from 7/27 to today, 7/31. However, such changes are not unprecedented at a peak. Somebody who knows the math of Keynesian beauty contests can tell me: If one person known to be infected in a social circle causes multiple people to get tested, wouldn’t changes in the infection rate, whether up or down, get amplified in the testing rate?


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. Use the community transmission immediately below.

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. For July 21, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessments is only available twice a week.

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 29:

Improvements everywhere!

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 29:

More green. Good!


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 14:

Variant data, national (CDC), July 16 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), July 29:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest (red) and next-highest (orange) levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,055,576 1,054,422. It’s curious that deaths are fiddling and diddling just like cases. Suggests the effect in cases is real, whatever the actual level of infection.I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US fell by 605,000 from a month earlier to 10.7 million in June of 2022, the lowest in nine months and below market expectations of 11 million. It was the third consecutive drop in job openings after a record level in March. The largest decreases in job openings were in retail trade (-343,000), wholesale trade (-82,000), and in state and local government education (-62,000).”

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Retail: “SPAM goes on lockdown due to inflation in NYC” [New York Post (jr)]. “It’s the nation’s crises in a can. Inflation and crime have gotten so bad in Gotham that even cheap meat like Spam has to be locked up. At Duane Reade’s store in the Port Authority bus depot, the shelf-stable product — only $3.99 a can — is now being stocked in plastic, anti-theft cases. ‘I’ve never seen that before!’ one cashier laughed while using a magnet to remove a can of Spam from its cage. The cashier was among the employees, tourists and store regulars stunned that the iconic blue-and-yellow cans are now being kept under lock-and-key — some even poking fun at the sight as ‘a sort of Jeff Koons homage,’ per one viral tweet.”

Tech: “Court Rejects Google’s Attempt to Dismiss Rumble’s Antitrust Lawsuit, Ensuring Vast Discovery” [Glenn Greenwald]. “A federal district court in California on Friday denied Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Silicon Valley giant is violating federal antitrust laws by preventing fair competition against its YouTube video platform. The lawsuit against Google, which has owned YouTube since its 2006 purchase for $1.65 billion, was brought in early 2021 by Rumble, the free speech competitor to YouTube. Its central claim is that Google’s abuse of its monopolistic stranglehold on search engines to destroy all competitors to its various other platforms is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which makes it unlawful to ‘monopolize, or attempt to monopolize…any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.’ It is rare for antitrust suits against the four Big Tech corporate giants (Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon) to avoid early motions to dismiss. Friday’s decision against Google ensures that the suit now proceeds to the discovery stage.” • Yowza!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 2 at 1:43 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Earthquakes. “A Deadly Quakes strikes the Philippines” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 189. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) I’ve been waiting for the Rapture Index to hit the all time high again. Now it has.

The Conservatory

Maybe I should have put this under “Zeitgeist Watch”:

I learned about “Common People” from alert reader Petal back in 2019, IIRC. Catchy tune. Here’s a live version:

The Gallery

How it started (1):

How it’s going (1):

How it started (2):

How it’s going (2):

I don’t even play an art historian on TV, but if Louise Bourgeois orginated “punk pasteup” that would be awesome. Bourgeois is terrific, even the giant spiders.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Why So Many Supercars Have Montana License Plates” [Bloomberg]. • Regulatory arbitrage, our most distinctive competence as a country after bloated weaponry.

Police State Watch

“Easy Money: How Counties Are Funneling Covid Relief Funds Into New Jails” [The Nation]. “Throughout the country, counties are dipping into funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to build and expand jails and prisons. At least 20 counties in 18 states are using, or want to use, Covid relief money this way. The problem is, their decision to do so violates the spirit, and likely the letter, of the rules governing how relief money can be used. These rules, finalized by the US Treasury earlier this year, ban jurisdictions from using Covid relief money to build or expand correctional facilities. Yet that hasn’t stopped local officials in a number of counties from pushing their projects through, spending their ARPA and CARES Act windfalls like winning lottery tickets for long-sought expansions.”

“Fear of Rampant Crime Is Derailing New York City’s Recovery” [Bloomberg]. “Perhaps nowhere has the perception of rampant crime overpowered the reality more than in New York City, where the murder rate has certainly increased in recent years but is nowhere near where it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Fears of violence have now surpassed Covid concerns when it comes to why workers say they won’t return to their Manhattan offices or ride on public transit in the financial capital of the world. Besides the impact on the residents of New York, there are far-reaching implications for the tourists, investors and other people who bring business and capital to the city’s economy. Part of the outsized perception can be traced to the city’s new mayor, Eric Adams, whose focus on crime helped propel the 22-year veteran of the New York City Police Department into the job. Once in office, he staked his administration on the idea that he’s uniquely suited to provide a quick fix to the complex problem of eradicating violence in the city. Crisscrossing the city to show up at crime scenes big and small, he became well-known for delivering sermon-like admonitions in apocalyptic terms. “We’re in a real scary place,” Adams said in a May police briefing where he likened the NYPD’s work to war deployment.”

Class Warfare

“Socioeconomic status and public health in Australia: A wastewater-based study” [Environment Internationa]l. From the Abstract: ” In this study, fifteen wastewater samples covering 27% of the Australian population were collected during a population Census. The samples were analysed with a workflow employing liquid chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry and chemometric tools for non-target analysis. Socioeconomic characteristics of catchment areas were generated using Geospatial Information Systems software….. Markers of public health (e.g., cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease, anxiety disorder and type 2 diabetes) were identified in the wastewater samples by the proposed workflow. They were positively correlated with descriptors of disadvantage in education, occupation, marital status and income, and negatively correlated with descriptors of advantage in education and occupation. In addition, markers of polypropylene glycol (PPG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) related compounds were positively correlated with housing and occupation disadvantage. High positive correlations were found between separated and divorced people and specific drugs used to treat cardiac arrhythmia, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Our robust non-targeted methodology in combination with Census data can identify relationships between biomarkers of public health, human behaviour and lifestyle and socio-demographics of whole populations.” • Wastewater really seems to be having a moment these days.

News of the Wired

Out of box thinking:

I wonder if we could process a lot of media the same way; perhaps a change in “the current thing” would equate to a sudden change in tone or texture. This would certainly be quicker than actually listening to it all.

The timeline Sluggo is in, is the best timeline….

… as any economist will tell you. If that were a real fifty-dollar bill, somebody would already have picked it up.

* * *

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 IM:

IM writes: “This is from the continental divide, up in Yoho park in BC. There is a nurse log underneath the foliage. Cool forest greens for the hot summer days.” Gorgeous light. Definition of “nurse log”; museum-grade nurse logs.

* * *

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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. RoadDoggie

    The components of the test spray include sterile water, polyethylene glycol 400, poloxamer 188, xylitol, disodium hydrogen phosphate, sodium chloride, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, ginger oil, eucalyptus oil, basil oil, clove oil, sodium hydrogen carbonate, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, sodium hyaluronate, calcium chloride dihydrate, benzalkonium chloride, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, potassium chloride, glycerol, and zinc chloride.

    AnecData: Wife and I took a 1 month cross country trip from USA northwest to new england to south east and back. This was from April to May.
    She had me snorking some xylitol spray by “Xlear” before entering any sketchy shared rest stop bathrooms, along with requisite N95 masking.
    Xlear Nasal Spray Ingredients(in order):
    Purified Water, Xylitol, USP Sodium Chloride, Grapefruit Seed Extract

    So not exactly the same but not that different. Up to this point neither of us have had ‘rona to our knowledge.
    I’ll just say that I bet it helped and it certainly didn’t hurt. Add in the rest of the mitigations and hopefully we can remain ‘rona free.

    1. Meme

      When my family got covid19 from son’s daycare I had this on hand (use xylitol spray for allergens regularly) and used it daily (in addition to n95s 24/7, corsi rosenthal boxes, vit c, vit d, copper and zinc…) I was the only person who never got it and was the only one who held to the 24/7 mask and the nasal spray. Multiple layers risk minimization so no clue what was the defining piece (and that’s kinda the point layers wise).

      The xclear spray will get rid of an allergen headache for me almost instantly so highly recommend!

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        this is possibly related, as far as volatile oils go.
        we get terrible allergies around here…right now it’s haybale season, for instance.
        so a year or two ago, i’m at the wilderness bar, trying to decompress…and snotty as hell.
        sneezing fit.
        happened to glance at the large sage plant right there.
        rolled up a leaf for each nostril…breathed through it for a bit(yes, it burned…much like Zicam does)…and my sinuses were clear.
        now my youngest(he with the worst of all our allergies) swears by it…at least for acute bouts.

    2. Skip Intro

      I think it is xylitol as the active ingredient, though the oils may also be important. I thought the Listerine with xylitol was also recommended as a prophylactic gargle.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The components of the test spray

      I wonder how many of those ingredients are active, instead of preservatives, etc. For example, polyethylene glycol 400.

  2. Jason Boxman

    So, apparently, Monkeypox is airborne (“spread through the air when they cough, sneeze, or talk“). Now, I have very strong priors on airborne transmission, as readers know. So I’m not making a strong claim, here (i.e., I haven’t seen that Monkeypox fills a room like cigarette smoke). But again, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before: Mixed messaging at the best, no real theory of transmission that the public can understand and act upon, and no investigation except by out-of-paradigm outsiders. (It’s not called “droplet dogma” for nothing.) How I would like to be wrong!

    It has become clear over the past number of years that, when in doubt, assume it is airborne and that we’re being lied to. It seems like, in this case, it was airborne until it wasn’t. That doesn’t pass the smell test, so to speak.

    The Centers for Disease is again intent to inflict pain and suffering upon Americans.

    1. fajensen

      Our “experts” are just being sore losers: they failed against Covid-19 so they demand a rematch against Monkey Pox.

      Eventually, there will be a disease that follows their declarations on how it must behave and then they can finally Win, proving how Great they are.

    1. c_heale

      This was the track that really got them noticed back in the UK. It was playing everywhere when it came out. Back in 1995.

  3. petal

    Cheers, Lambert! It’s always a good time to hear Common People either by Pulp or Mr. Shatner.

    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      Pulp: the only Brit-pop band I could ever get into. Never heard the Shatner version before: banal and brilliant, simultaneously, as usual.

    2. Revenant

      And, NC link, the rich Greek girl that Jarvis Cocker sings about is in real life… Yanis Varoufakis’s sculptress wife. Allegedly.

  4. Tommy S

    This curbed article is a surprising antidote to the ny post article..As even hipster broke ass Stuart in SF, had more factual articles about ‘skyrocketing crime’..our democrats and media and corporations have an obvious vested interest in never looking at 10 year crime rates, increased poverty, not massive drug addiction and homelessness….BUT crime is NOT skyrocketing….That should be the headlines………..https://www.curbed.com/2022/02/shoplifters-arent-why-nycs-chain-pharmacies-are-closing.html

  5. Angie Neer

    IM: I love the plant photo! It has a beautiful impressionistic quality and composition.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have just read Colonel Lang speculate in his Turcopolier blog that Manchin will primary Biden in the primaries for being DemPrez nominee. He bases this on Manchin’s sudden acceptance of just enough ” Build Back Bitter” legislation to shore up his credibility on the ” I-want-to-believe” left, such as it is.

    So there is a provisional prediction. Events will prove Lang right or wrong about that.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Is it sour-tempered of me to hope that there will be an entertaining D presidential primary in 2024?

      I’m thinking that, by then, we all — or those of us who are still here — might be in need of something laugh about.

    2. Louis Fyne

      LMAO. Would love to see Manchin run.

      Another Senate ego gets crushed as he-she leaves the DC circle-jerk bubble

    3. Telee

      Mark Penn, an advisor for Hillary during her presidential campaign wrote an op-ed in the NYT advocating the nomination of Manchin as a presidential candidate. His reasoning was Manchin is more aligned with democratic voters who feel that the reforms proposed by “progressive” members of the democratic party are too radical to be accepted by democratic voters. Penn believes that lowering the cost of drugs, support of day care, coverage of eyeglasses and dental, reducing the burden of student loans etc. will never be supported by the masses. Perhaps we should invite Trump or DeSantis to run as democrats.

  7. CloverBee

    While I love the idea of prophylactic nasal sprays, it runs into the reality of getting kids to take them. my kid started refusing after the 3rd day. Rationality does not help with small kids when it comes to pain avoidance. Any tips?

    1. Utah

      Positive reinforcement? Kids respond to rewards well. Maybe a sticker, or pencil/ eraser, or 5 minutes to play with a toy? You can also set expectations with negative reinforcements (taking something away or not letting them do something), for example “my expectation is that you use the spray before xyz. If you don’t, then you have to stay home, or you have *insert developmentally appropriate consequence here* if you do, then you get a sticker.” If they are old enough you can also brainstorm rewards and consequences with them to get them to buy into the plan. Structure and routine will help them tolerate it.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        well…ive always kept a big net with a handle around…for catching geese and whatnot…

        seriously, though…just explain it.
        youngest, at 5 years old, submitted to weekly allergy shots…in the hospital infusion room(all the cancer ladies in there loved him)
        (and yes, his allergies were that bad)
        ended up being character building.
        we explained it all…borrowed a model nose from doctor friend and everything…
        he was already aware of the usual consequences of him having unmitigated cedar fever, beginning in october: snot provided a ready seedbed for whatever bug was floating around the school.
        we’d talk about knights and superheroes and such…and encourage him throughout.
        “how brave you are”, etc.
        it can be done.

  8. jr

    I’m not a Thelemite but I feel compelled to defend Crowley here. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” is not a carte blanche to do whatever you want. Consider the second part of the quote:

    “Love is the Law. Love under Will.”

    The goal of the Theurgist, from the ancient Greek Theos – God and ergon – work, is to bring him or herself in closer contact with the Unity via the Knowledge and Conversation of the Guardian Angel. It is about self-control and reflection. It is about bringing Love under the aegis of the rarefied Will. Here is one take:

    “love is the force that creates union

    love is also a blind force and cannot be applied indiscriminately or the subject would destroy the object

    you must master your own will and apply your love properly to the world around you and form a union with it by bringing that force under your will and control

    thou has no right but to do that”

    and then

    “In layman’s terms, it’s the oh-so-important caveat to “Do what thou Wilt” and clearly differentiates it from “do what you want”. If your Will isn’t governed by Love, by respect for yourself and for the sovereignty of every other individual’s Will, then it isn’t in accordance with the Law. Often this can be the exact opposite of what we might think we “want”, but those little idiosyncrasies are for you to suss out.”

    Here’s the whole thread:


    The idiots who self-centeredly bring their sick children to ball games and such are succumbing to their mundane wills, not engaging with their Wills.

    Two caveats: Crowley, as many Magicians, was fond of word-play and mental cul-de-sacs to test the unwary. Magic is not for everyone, the temptations to worldly power are everywhere and mostly illusory. A lot of practitioners start as or end up as base manipulators of others, thinking they have tapped into the Source. And even with good intentions but bad conceptions you can bang your head against it for years to no effect. It’s totally like him to phrase the initial part of that quote so that the unreflective will flounder. Or in the words of Dion Fortune:

    “Let him hew wood and carry water in the service of the Temple if he will, but let him not profane its holy place with his pathologies and immaturities.”

    Magicians do not suffer fools gladly.

    The second caveat is that having practiced briefly with a Ordo Templi Orientis and having got to know some of them, I know that there are a lot of libertarian types in the formal organization of Thelema. I understand there was/is a problem with white supremacists infecting the order as well, although I didn’t meet any of them. To be honest, of the 20 or so Thelemites I met, I’d say maybe two of them have any clue as to what it’s all about. The rest are paying 40$ a month to dress up and send the elders on trips around the world.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I read a bunch of his more discursive essays–somebody turned me on the the fact that he’s a good read outside the flashy stuff. If you want to learn about esoterica and not snooze, he’s a good choice. Lotta esoteric puns.

      I was in the airport bookstore in Portland ME once and saw a copy of The Book of the Law on a little easel. Such an odd thing, I bought it. Turned out the small publisher was nearby in Old Orchard Beach.

      1. jr

        Thanks for the comment. That’s an interesting find. I have to say I wasn’t impressed by his poetry.

  9. griffen

    Thank you for posting the Rapture Ready update. I’ve got cold beer for the end times, but might need to stock up on the snacks. Is it wrong to feel enthused when it reaches this lofty mark of 189 ?

  10. jsn

    About 15 years ago I was in a grocery check out line with my wife when a can of spam fell from under the dress of the very large woman with little kids in front of us, she shouted “who threw that canned ham at me!?!”

    Louise Bourgeois:
    In an interview I can’t find a link to, she tells the story of her mother working in a textile mill that made tapestry material. Her mother’s job was to cut out all the genitals in the tapestries and stitch in fig leaves. Mom brought home all the excised genitalia and stitched them together into a blanket she gave Louise.

    1. jsn

      Mom, of course, was doing her work for the American market. Sorry I omitted that in my haste.

    2. griffen

      That headline about the Spam in a cage ought to be from the Onion. Alas, it appears that all is not satire….like cigarettes maybe they could be on a shelf behind the counter ?

      Let’s see, I need a pack of Marlboro Lights, a can of Skoal and two of them Spam containers.

  11. Sea Sched

    Xylitol and essential oils are antimicrobials so of course it makes sense that the natural nasal spray blend they studied works/helps…but no one will care since it’s not some fancy pharmaceutical. I’m guessing nasya oil blends would help too which are also popular in India- as long as there is a barrier between the air and your mucous membranes, the viral load will be less.

    In the 90s I worked at a day camp for the Y in an expensive Chicago suburb one summer…one of our 5 year old campers came in seeming a little off and sure enough he had a fever. I called the parent to notify her that her child was ill and needed to go home and she was furious with me. She said her child didn’t have a fever when he left that morning and there is no way he is sick and she had no time to come get him/take him home and asked to speak with my supervisor. So I can see nothing has changed and parents have no qualms about sending kids to school/events sick since either they are too busy and/or don’t want to deal with their kid.

    Pulp is the best…my favorite Q magazine (RIP) cover was the one titled “Jarvis vs Jacko” covering that time Jarvis Cocker ran up on stage and mooned Michael Jackson…

  12. Pelham

    Re Pelosi: Agreed, it seems to be a broadly perilous thing to do. I’ve tried to game out how it might benefit anyone, even defense contractors, but the array of possible calculations is beyond my mental capacity, especially given my high degree of cynicism.

    Still, I do have to admit that for a moment there it was actually inspiring to see Pelosi (whom I revile) being greeted in Taipei. One can only hope the situation doesn’t go straight south at mach speed. And if it doesn’t, it’s a plus for Pelosi and makes the doubters (like myself) look wobbly.

  13. LaRuse

    As a tapewatcher now in my own personal COVID adventure I have more anecdata – as I wrote last week, my husband’s COVID case did not hit the “books” by Virginia’s count – his PCR was negative. He was still testing positive yesterday on AG tests at home.
    Finally, after a week of exposure, I am officially positive for CV on an AG test now too. So, also being a tapewatcher – I decided to get a PCR test because 1) work will need it if I have to take serious sick time, and 2) thanks to NC, I want my positive case to actually be a datapoint (assuming I don’t get a false neg like my husband did). So I scheduled an appointment at CVS. Sign up required my insurance information, and it had a disclaimer to explain that without insurance, I would receive the bill. I don’t think I had realized that PCR tests are not free anymore (I blame brain fog). Since I have a high deductible policy, I will ultimately get a bill for a test I didn’t need to tell me (and importantly, the VA health department) that I have COVID. Now I wish I had just closed the browser and said forget it.
    So tests cost you or your insurer now. How long has it been like that? When PCR tests stopped being free, how many people went to request a test and then stopped altogether when they saw the words “you will be billed”?
    Not only the billing issue stands between you and getting a PCR. I had an 1120 appointment for my test. I got to the drive though at 1110. The line was 4 cars deep and it took until 1140 for me to finally take my test and drive away. While I was waiting, the car line for service got 6 or 7 cars deep and several eventually just drove away. Maybe they were just picking up prescriptions or maybe they didn’t have 30-60 minutes to wait or maybe they felt too horrible to stay in line that long (I was getting close there by the end).
    My point being, there are PLENTY of disincentives for formally getting tested these days to be skewing the numbers severely, where they aren’t outright being gamed (like clearly in FL).

  14. jr

    A rare voice in the MSM who isn’t celebrating Pelosi’s ego tripping:

    Pelosi could have helped Taiwan more by staying in Washington

    It’s up to the Taiwanese, rather than U.S. politicians, to chart our course with China.


    The author makes the good point that no matter what happens to the US after this lunacy, it’s the citizens of Taiwan who have to live in the shadow of the dragon.

    1. digi_owl

      What we are seeing is that the west coast has the same problem as Florida and DC.

      SF, where Pelosi has her constituency, is some 20%+ Chinese-american.

      How many are willing to be that the wealthiest among them are people, or their descendants, that emigrated around the time of the CCP takeover, or right before, and are holding a grudge because they lost their family holdings back in the old country?

      As in, they want to see the CCP bleed. And are putting money in Pelosi’s pot in order to make that happen.

        1. HotFlash

          My thought exactly. Similarly, we have displaced Ukrainian and Polish aristos from 1940’s era here in Canada. They are often active in business and politics. I think of them as Bebe Reboski, or Reboschuk, depending.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I somehow suspect that Taiwan is a lot better and tighter run than Ukraine is.

  15. Carolinian

    The Cooler got a lot bigger while I was napping. Re

    wouldn’t the Democrat gerontocracy’s intracranial splatterfest be fun?

    It would be fun. Maybe AOC could finally deliver on the promised reform image. Our revised Boomer motto is “don’t trust anyone over eighty” so a 35 year old president could be “a trip.”

    And re that NC/SC border casino–this will only be a few miles from me and has been controversial. There is a longstanding Cherokee tribe casino over in the Smokies, but pinning one between Charlotte and the once churchly SC upstate is very much in your face for the so called Bible Belt. And unlike the Cherokees the tribe being awarded barely seems to exist except for this purpose.

    1. HotFlash

      “don’t trust anyone over eighty” Carolinian, I love it, that is totally Tshirt-worthy.

  16. Mikel

    People first really started hearing about Covid causing some havoc in China in Jan. 2020.

    Nobody really did a thing until March 2020.
    I can’t with the infantile clown world that doesn’t want to admit “something bad is happening and we aren’t sure what to do.” Instead, they go into silly season about hoaxes or how “mild” they want to believe it is rather than confront: “there is something going down that you are not in control of and nobody else is. There will have to be changes to lives.”

    Now monkeypox,
    It’s grow the hell up time.
    It doesn’t have to get as bad as it can get.

    1. Sardonia

      “It doesn’t have to get as bad as it can get.”

      It doesn’t HAVE to – but it will.

      By next summer we should have the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that features a token Monkeypox victim, signaling to us that we should all CELEBRATE those skin scars!

    2. digi_owl

      Because people thought it would be another swine or bird flu, that could be curtailed by telling people to limit their visiting to China. But what had changed was the number of Chinese traveling abroad to work.

      That is what kicked things off in Europe, because they had come to Italy to work in the garment industry there (so the designer clothes could still claim “made in Italy” while cutting costs closer to the imports from Asia).

      In the end these issues keep coming back to two points. Wet markets and international travel.

      Wet markets have since the early days been a source of animal to human crossover.

      It is how pretty much all of the nasty European diseases came to be, as food animals were corralled in city markets for sale and slaughter.

      And the increasing speed for international travel means that diseases can move to places where the population has no generational exposure. This similar to how European diseases decimated the native Americans.

  17. Michael Ismoe

    …as any economist will tell you. If that were a real fifty-dollar bill, somebody would already have picked it up.

    Hunter Biden? But $5 gotta go to The Big Guy.

    They promised us FDR and gave us Whitey Bulger.

    1. nippersdad

      They finally tested the premise of dragging a hundred dollar bill (value corrected for inflation) through a trailer park and they came up with Hunter!

      That’s funny.

  18. Sardonia

    Well, I’ve been trying for days to post a really GOOD song parody about Pelosi thinking of going to Taiwan for days, and it hasn’t been posting, but now that she’s actually doing it, time to quickly pound out a lame one and see if it posts – it’s my patriotic duty! Only got a few minutes so I’ll rip off Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp” once again:

    I’m an ugly broad with a botox’d mug
    Fly into Taiwan just to poke a thug

    Got a buncha nukes and a Navy fleet
    Telling all you commies I can’t be beat

    Think you can collect on your Trea-su-ries??
    Bow on down before me, get on your knees

    Joe and Jake said I might set off some war
    They don’t have half the balls I grew in Baltimore

    Standin’ on the beach lookin’ ‘cross the China Sea
    Nuke us now – who cares? I need a legacy

    See me!
    Dig me!
    Not Xi!
    Me me!
    I pee
    On my knee
    Tee hee
    Hee Hee
    Wee Wee!

  19. Mikel

    “For the pandemic, of particular note, it includes prior infections, vaccines, boosters, combined infections and boosters (hybrid immunity) and waning of the immunity from vaccines or infections over time…”

    Somebody tell this fool that Bix has already admitted the shots never stopped people from catching the virus.
    They are ONLY a therapy that is supposed to help people deal with Covid after they catch. And that is dependent on many environmental and health factors.
    Non-sterilizing shots do not and have never equaled immunity.

  20. digi_owl

    Using the change in audio to find the right location reminds me of my dialup internet days.

    Basically the modem, once the other hand picked up, went through a handshake sequence where it tried ever faster encodings until it either didn’t get a response or the response came back garbled. If you listened to it, you could tell how fast your connection would be, and thus could hang up and try again if it cut out early.

    Time and time again i find that modern computing relies far too much on vision for user IO. Yes, an SSD is far faster than a spinning place HDD. But with and HDD, never mind a floppy or CD, you could hear the system working without looking (never mind that many laptops these days do not even have a drive activity LED!).

    Similarly, moving from a physical keyboard to onscreen inputs remove the tactile element of typing. The F and J for example have small nubs on them to help place your hands for touch typing, where each key is within reach of a specific finger with minimal wrist and arm movement. and you can feel the edge of each key as well, allowing you to find them without looking.

    Honestly the basic problem of tech right now is that so much of it is decided by people that came to “tech” from the publishing industry, and is treating everything like some glossy magazine layout.

    1. Greg

      Interesting point, about the way interfaces are being incrementally reduced to displays. Not sure publishing background can explain all of it – most people building these things now have come to the market after the semi-death of publishing. Probably different influences for different segments of the responsible?

      One I can think of to add to the list, although it is closely related to publishing. Trained designers in my experience have been taught by relationship to paint and ink first, so that definitely influences the way they design for computers (“buttons” are fine because they’re just an image you can touch, but anything more complicated is nowhere near top of mind).

      Another group would be the MBA-like “scrum masters” and additional middle management, I suspect they bring a different set of baggage to the problem.

      Unrelated, I’ve been touch typing for some 25 years since IRC days, and never paid attention to the nubs on F’s and J’s. My typing is going to be off for days now I can’t ignore them, so thanks for that haha.

      1. digi_owl

        Observe the rise of Apple in tech circles and you see the persistent influence of publishing.

        Apple’s last toehold back in the 90s was desktop publishing. This even in nations that were otherwise 99% Windows. The one original mac i personally saw back then was in the photo lab of the local newspaper, hooked up to some flatbed scanner via a SCSI cable. Likely used to digitize old photos and negatives before being loaded into their desktop publishing pipeline.

        But then came a one two punch. Apple launching the unix derived OSX, and newspapers etc moving online. Because at the time the post dot-com server stack was Linux running the mysql database and the apache webserver.

        And Linux being another unix clone OS allowed much of the same software to run on a mac. And publishers were already deeply familiar with the Mac UI. And now their more technical bent could run much of the same web’s software stack on their mac as well. Thus mac became the go to platform for web design, and much of its thinking go influenced by publishing.

        And from there we move on to the iPhone and touch interfaces in general.

        that in turn bled onto the desktop by way of Microsoft trying to counter by basing everything on the UI they came up with for their flash in a pan media player, Zune.

        Never mind that more and more software these days is a web site wrapped in a Chrome windows with the typical browser UI stripped away (Electron). It is how you get “desktop” clients for Slack, Discord, Spotify, Zoom and more.

        1. Greg

          Interesting, thanks for explaining!

          I wasn’t overly paying attention to the drift until after touch surfaces started to interfere with everything, so wasn’t familiar with the early apple/publishing link.

          1. digi_owl

            I suspect you need to be outside of USA to see the link, as Apple is far more of a household brand inside. I have been berated by many a west coast techie for even suggesting such a link.

  21. Mikel

    I’m absolutely fuming about the CDC telling the lie MSM sex was the thing to worry about with monkeypox.

    They are intentionally sowing confusing.

    And too many people aren’t bothering to do a quick search and find out what a big, fat lie that is.

    It’s insanity to think a society like this is going to solve any big, major issues.
    They will continue to cover up, deny, and print a bunch of quasi-religious musings about “progress.”

    1. Tom Stone

      Any time you hear “Gay Disease” you are being lied to.
      Every time.
      “Don’t worry, only degenerate homo’s get it”
      It’s a sickening lie that only a psychopath would promote, unfortunately there’s no shortage of psychopaths.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. Saw this being done in the 80s and have no desire to repeat that era when you had an infectious virus making its way around the world, a US President suffering senility and in denial, tensions with Russia and China…oh wait.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If I were a “public health authority” and I wanted to spread monkeypox around the world on purpose but make it look like an incompetent mistake, how would I do that?

  22. Dave

    Re: text collage art in punk. I would push it back at least to Dada artists like George Grosz.

    1. Rattib

      Agreed; “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century” by Greil Marcus is a super entertaining exploration of this connection.

  23. Carolinian

    Re that Trump/Biden poll–true it’s only a poll, but if the major 1/6 charge against Trump is that he was traitorously defying Biden’s “obvious” popular win then shouldn’t Trump be getting a lot more respect now that he is more popular than Biden? One almost suspects that the Dems are slaves to the popular will until it goes against them–not unlike that scene in Citizen Kane where the press ready headlines are either “Kane Wins” or “Fraud at the Polls”

    True this is what they accuse Trump of being like, but he had precedent in 2016 as well as Orson Welles. Any Hillary mentions of “Rosebud”?

    1. Louis Fyne

      Dems. are truly ret×××ds. They only scenario in which Dems. can salvage 2024 is if Trump runs, and Dems. are trying to knock him out? great move people.

      Hypotheticaĺly, no Trump in 2024, DeSanctis wilĺ sweep the field. And as a policy maker, communicator and executive, DeSanctis will be much more successful in roĺling out a national conservative agenda than Trump.

      1. c_heale

        What about using a different word than r*******. This word is really offensive to people with disabilities. And on cursory search of the internet, idiot, and moron, historically both had similar meanings.

        Stupid seems like an appropriate word.

        1. Dermotmoconnor

          We should start a campaign to stop people from using idiot and moron.

          That’s a really great use of our finite time and energy and would totally succeed.

  24. Mikel

    “Fear of Rampant Crime Is Derailing New York City’s Recovery” [Bloomberg].

    I still bet whenever there is a burglary, robbery, forgery, murder, etc., the police (like everywhere all over the globe) first look at associates, friends, and family. This has been done for centuries and will be done for centuries to come. And for a reason…

  25. ThePodBayDoorsAreClosed

    Another day, another scene from a Magritte painting. Ceci nést pas une pipe. We’re not in a recession, the vax is safe and effective, men give birth, Kamala is transformational, the border is not open, our side is winning in Ukraine. Fitting that John Kirby is now the White House spokesman, as his institution has seized the keys to the White House. Vacuums will be filled. Yesterday Blinken stating he did not know whether Nancy would land in Taipei: so State is not running foreign policy any more. Maybe we can get Mayor Pete to confirm that everything is peachy in the transport sector. Has he launched his “highways are racist” initiative yet?

  26. nippersdad

    I thought this was really funny:
    “Slain al Qaeda leader’s presence in Kabul strains U.S.-Taliban ties”


    Because it wasn’t the twenty years of war or stealing their 3.5 billion in foreign exchange funds that had already done that.

    “The Taliban simply cannot be trusted to keep any of the commitments they’ve made,” he added.”

    Says the agreement incapable US. The jokes write themselves. The only reason State is upset about Zawahiri, the original Al Qaeda #2 with nine lives, is that he probably refused to lead the AQ mercs we sent into Syria.

  27. Pat

    This isn’t a group that is going to go there but right after thinking that the xylitol would be a no go for me looking at that ingredient list I thought 21st century thieves oil.

    The usual essential oil suspects in thieves oil is clove, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon so obviously only a bit of overlap, still interesting.

    If it weren’t for the xylitol I would be very curious about it.

  28. LawnDart

    USA wars took years off my life. As many former-military do, I ended up in law enforcement (an experience that really sealed the deal, and destroyed any belief I may have had in the good of the USA), mostly because it mostly paid well, and I got “veterans preference” points that helped put me into the job.

    Coming home, as a young vet (25, with three wars, two coup-de-tats, and a number of other actions under my belt)… I hated “average Americans.” I hated the arrogant, fat, cowardly, out-of-touch American slobs, so comfortable in their ignorance and self-obsessions. Like Tim McVeigh, I felt they needed a taste of the shit sandwich that they made us eat. But I’ve mellowed a bit with the years… I’d rather go back into the world and leave them all to drown in their own shit– those f#(kerz ain’t worth fighting for.

    This article might offer a whiff, a sense of why many former and present USA military think their countrymen suck (and yes, many of us do (“f#(king civilians”):

    Why are Americans so unplugged from the wars in their own name?

    There is an important cultural dimension to the disconnect between Americans and U.S. wars. For most American civilians, war is an abstraction. It doesn’t touch them directly. Paying attention is optional. It is a story in the newspaper or an issue in a political debate. It isn’t experienced by U.S. civilians as a matter of life and death.


    1. digi_owl

      Probably also why 9/11 cased such a stir. It was almost like a mental/cultural auto-immune response, with the sheer panic from the idea that someone could use their own hardware against them. This even though the number of dead was tiny compared to the number that would perish in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years to follow.

      To some degree i can see where Heinlein came from with his Starship Troopers, though i suspect Verhoeven’s take is more accurate on the result of such a system long term.

      And we keep seeing politicians that claim they served, only to find that they did so via some desk job far from the actual fighting.

      One thing to ponder is that the protests against the Vietnam war was more protests against the draft than the war itself.

      I do wonder how many was surprised to learn it was still going on when they saw the first images of the helicopters evacuating the embassy on TV. After all the draft, and thus the protests, had ended some years earlier.

      1. Dermotmoconnor

        Verhovens movie is an uncanny depiction of present day USA. Even the bug attack predates 911, and in the movie we see the post 911 response.

        The movie also sneakily reveals that it was humans … That is, the US … Who were the aggressors against the bugs. The truth sneaks out, even with the movies faithless narrator.

        Do you want to know more?

  29. LifelongLib

    With the exception of some of the conflicts with Native Americans, I can’t think of a war in U.S. history that started as a result of popular pressure. They’ve mainly been top-down affairs. Whatever popularity they gained was more the result of intense propaganda than “war fever”. This applies even if you believe those wars were right/necessary. FWIW I believe the Civil War and WW2 were unavoidable, the Revolution was a toss-up, the rest we should probably have stayed out of — not really up for debating any of this though…

  30. flora

    Kansas primary results are in. The vote on the KS amendment to change the state constitution to remove a woman’s constitutional right to abortion failed by nearly 60% to 40% — a Yes vote would change the state constitution opening the way for legislators to ban abortion, a No vote would leave the state constitution as is protecting a woman’s right to abortion. Good news: the KS constitution amendment failed. The NO votes is winning 60% of the vote with over 90% of the votes counted.

    The constitution amendment vote was open to all registered voters: Rep, Dem, and independent. Primary voting turnout was off the charts for a primary, higher than many general election turnouts.

    Kansas is a hugely GOP state, the GOP itself is split into ultra conservative and moderate groups. I think lots of moderate GOP voters voted against the amendment, and plenty of unaffiliated voters voted against the amendment.


  31. Greg

    With that background, let’s probe deeper into why the patterns are so different between New Zealand, Australia vs South Africa, US, and many other countries…. To summarize, the impact of BA.5 that I have described as the worst variant of the pandemic by its biologic properties is seen clinically where there are less intact immunity walls, mostly as a function of prior infections and the type (main variant underpinning) of infections. Our immunity wall in the United States has helped provide a lesser hit of BA.5, now starting to show a plateau of hospitalizations at a level below that of other countries in Europe, even though our vaccination and booster rate in the US is substantially lower than these countries.”

    Topol’s argument here seems to be that there is a correlation between exposure to an earlier variant sharing a specific mutation with the BA.5 family, and decreased deaths per case in countries.

    An interesting theory, but it seems to me that a simpler explanation would be that countries which had large out of control waves earlier have already culled the weakest. This is a much sadder hypothesis, but would more simply explain the observed differences in countries that had strong controls in earlier waves but let it rip for this one.

    We would need to have the raw numbers and disaggregated demographics by country to match each factor in Topol’s proposed model to check which hypothesis was a better fit, and I don’t think that data actually exists.

  32. griffen

    WSJ article on the tribal casino, and relatives to famous (infamous) politicians receiving checks from profitable operations. Probably a little more worthwhile digging to do, at least based on the related articles I could find. This casino was on the books and planning stage for a long time, not sure why or what the hold up might have been.

    The location is incredibly odd, just a few miles north from the SC border on I-85. Viewed from the road, it just seemed like another far flung warehouse for Amazon or what not. I imagine much of the play is the slot machines.

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