By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Varied Solitaire, Darién, Panama. “Gen. Climate: Humid. Cover Density: Medium.”
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Biden’s Operation Warp Speed revival stumbles out of the gate” [Politico]. “They even had a name for the effort: Project Covid Shield. But months later, it’s barely taken off — stymied by fading political interest in prolonging a war against a pandemic that even the president has declared “over.” Mired in a standoff with Republicans over more Covid response money, the administration has yet to invest heavily in any of the promising vaccine targets it’s identified. The delay has compounded concern inside the White House over Americans’ vulnerability to future variants. More recently, administration officials have grown alarmed that the U.S. suddenly trails rival China in the global pursuit of new scientific breakthroughs aimed at curbing Covid. ‘The notion we’re going to sit on the sidelines and watch other nations build this stuff should be totally anathema to us,’ White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told POLITICO. ‘I think of this very much as a biosecurity issue as well as a pandemic preparedness issue.'” • Maybe they should call in the former guy to consult. At least he knew how to get the job done.
See, whatever is “emotional” is authentic and good:
Commanders of Ukraine’s celebrated Azov Battalion have held an emotional reunion with their families in Turkey, Ukrainian officials said, honoring the fighters released from Russian confinement last month.https://t.co/hDT6obH42M
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) October 4, 2022
Normalizing fascism is what this is. Nothing else. I hope these guys were told to take off their Confederate battle flag patches…..
* * *“Why Vicente Gonzalez may not be safe in his solidly Democratic district” [Texas Tribune]. “In a twist, Gonzalez, a three-term congressman, is not the incumbent where he’s running, since he opted to run in a new district after redistricting. That distinction goes to Republican U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, who won her special election and flipped the district red in June after a tsunami of support from national Republicans hopeful to make South Texas their new stomping grounds. Emboldened by that win, Republicans are relentlessly going after Gonzalez’s verbal gaffes and portraying him as an out-of-touch creature of Washington. Gonzalez’s aggressive spending in the race shows that he’s not taking anything for granted. His campaign has spent $2.2 million as of the end of June on a robust ground game — nearly twice the expenses of his past two campaigns combined — and that’s before he released his first TV ad in late September. With over $1.4 million in cash on hand, he’s on his way to surpassing his 2016 spending of $2.3 million. This year is his most robust operation since he first ran for Congress in 2016, he said. To Republicans, it’s an admission that their forays into the traditional Democratic stronghold of South Texas are scaring Democrats and that Flores’ special election was not the one-time, off-season fluke they’ve made it out to be. Flores stresses her message of hard work, faith and border security appeal to the socially conservative values of the region, saying Democrats took South Texas Latinos for granted even as the party became increasingly out of step with their values.” • Hmm.
“Senate Dems face brutal 2024 map with at least eight undecided incumbents” [Politics]. “Even as the caucus pushes to expand a 50-50 majority this fall, it’s bracing for a fight to defend 23 seats to the GOP’s 10 in the next election cycle — many of them in red and purple territory. Against that backdrop, at least eight members of Chuck Schumer’s caucus are agonizing over whether to run again, and a couple hail from states that may be lost to the GOP if the incumbent bows out. Several senators are waiting to see how the midterms shake out in a month before making any moves, according to interviews and statements from 22 of the 23 sitting Democrats up in 2024. And holding the majority this fall in a tough environment could help keep some incumbents happier about running for reelection.”
“DeSantis takes over the national conversation” [The Hill]. “No one has been at the forefront of the national conversation more in the last month than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis, seen as a top contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is firmly at the center of the national news cycle. He made headlines initially by choice when he had dozens of migrants flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in a bid to seize attention in the fight over the border. As that controversy continued to unfold, DeSantis found himself at the center over his state’s preparations and then response to Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida hard. Since then, DeSantis has remained in the national consciousness with daily news conferences carried live on national news networks, piquing the curiosity of viewers who are not only interested in the aftermath of the storm but also in the governor himself. ‘In politics, you want visibility almost more than anything else,’ one Democratic strategist acknowledged of the governor’s constant presence on the political stage in recent weeks. ‘And it’s safe to say he’s gotten that visibility more than almost any national figure these days.’ ‘People know who he is,’ the strategist added. ‘That’s the sweet spot.'” • I wish I knew what “the national conversation” was. I’ve never seen one, or participated in one.
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“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.
* * *
• “WashU COVID-19 nasal vaccine technology licensed to Ocugen” (press release) [Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis]. The deck: “Aim is for commercialization in U.S., Europe, Japan” More: ” A nasal vaccine for COVID-19 – based on technology developed at Washington University in St. Louis – is on the path to becoming available in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The university has licensed the rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize its proprietary COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, Europe and Japan to Ocugen Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing novel gene and cell therapies and vaccines…. Ocugen intends to work closely with U.S. government agencies tasked with pandemic preparedness and response to initiate clinical trials and manufacture the intranasal vaccine. The company also is interested in the potential for the nasal vaccine to be a universal booster, regardless of a person’s previous COVID-19 vaccination history…. The Washington University nasal vaccine technology was previously licensed to Bharat Biotech International Limited in 2020 for development in India and limited parts of the world. This September, health authorities in India approved the vaccine for emergency use in that country, making it the world’s first intranasal vaccine for COVID-19 to be approved.” • Of course, if the
eugenicist molasses-brained Biden Administration had built on the former guy’s Operation Warp Speed, we might have made the “shots in arms” paradigm obsolete by now. But then Pfizer wouldn’t like that, would they? So we’ll see how this goes.
— Pete 😷 #COVIDisAirborne (@PeteUK7) October 3, 2022
Two nits: I am not so sure about “non-contact” services, if that means payment. Cash payment make the line move faster, and that means less shared are. Also, “masks” and “respirators” are treated as two separate things, confusing, I believe, to the layperson. Otherwise, yes. More like this! (And I think we can safely eliminate an actual image of Swiss Cheese? I understand the metaphor that if the virus gets through a hole in one layer, the next layer won’t have a hole in the same position, but I think it’s a little strained. Nothing works 100% of the time and I think people know this. I suppose, though, that this is on a par with “the dreaded lifestyle change” said to help people lose weight. But we must try, and changes like this do happen (see smoking), though slowly.
• Maskstravaganza: “Multiple Massachusetts colleges extend mask mandates indefinitely” [New York Post]. “Three Massachusetts colleges are extending their COVID-19 mask mandate — and a fourth is putting it to a vote — even as masking requirements are disappearing around the nation. Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Hampshire College have all extended their mask mandates indefinitely, according to releases made in the past month. ‘I am sorry to say that because of the relatively high confirmed COVID-19 case counts on campus (approximately 50 per week since the start of the semester) we will need to continue our indoor mask mandate until further notice,’ Mt. Holyoke’s president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, said in an open letter last week. ‘It is clear that the current levels of infection have taxed our campus health care system and residential services to the limit.'” • Makes sense, given wastewater and hospitalization data.
Colleague who I used to get on with: Why have you still got a mask on?
Me: Because it hasn’t gone away.
Colleague: And what’s that?
Me: A HEPA machine.
Colleague: Looks like a torture machine.
Day 1. 😩
— The Underground Academic (@Itisallacademic) October 5, 2022
The virus is trying hard to escape:
Bird wings and bat wings are homoplasious (though the bones in the limbs are homologous).
What is happening with Omicron lineages is convergent evolution in which clusters of mutations that confer immune escape in the current host environment are evolving repeatedly. pic.twitter.com/QEKuoc11Z5
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) October 5, 2022
So far, it’s had good success. And the last time Biden declared the pandemic was over, Omicron happened. That’s why I continue to watch this stuff….
I’ve just checked your timeline
In the last 24 hours, Twitter labelled the @WHO ‘COVID is not airborne’ Mar 28, 2020 tweet as ‘not conclusively proven at the time & is now confirmed false’
— David R Tomlinson 🇺🇦💙 (@DRTomlinsonEP) October 5, 2022
I mean, you killed and disabled millions and convinced them it was unavoidable because actually doing something about it might slightly slow the process of wealth transfer from your poorest citizens to your richest. I stand in awe.
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) October 4, 2022
Case count for the United States:
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 nominal 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 ~45,800. Today, it’s ~43,300 and 43,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 259,800. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2020 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).
Regional case count for four weeks:
Florida’s japery continues.
Frankly. the steady drop among all this smallish Southern states collectively gives me more hope than anything else.
This drop is the reason the national figures dropped. Every time there’s been a drop this large, it’s been revised away.
Wastewater data (CDC), October 1:
Lambert here: I’m pleased to see that there are now some live sites in New York City.
For grins, September 30:
An alert reader suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:
Lambert here: Note that this rise is consistent with a rise in hospitalization in the Northeast.
This is a seven-day average, mind you, so the rise is no fluke. (MRWA is divided into north and south sewersheds. Both are rising.) Let us also remember that the Boston area is not only the home of many, many students, it’s also a PMC center, and we have already seen one ginormous superspreader event from the conference in Boston. Boston also has a major international airport, another cause of spread.
SITE DOWN From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 21:
-0.5%. Not so much down, as fluky. Something seems to have nuked the layout.
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.
Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), October 4:
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), October 4:
See the NOTE below. It’s mind-boggling that this report is being cut back at a time when hospitalization is rising in the Northeast. I mean, I thought hospitalization was what these guys cared about?
NOTE: From CDC: “Effective September 23, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated once a week, on Fridays. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the delayed upload for 09/30/2022.” At top right, the Download is labeled “Updated: October 4, 2022.” The file name: “Community_Profile_Report_20220929.pfd.” Even in the smallest things, CDC just lies and lies. To be fair, this file is really produced by “an interagency team with representatives from multiple agencies and offices (including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Indian Health Service. So they’re all lying, not just the CDC. “The way to control and direct a mentat, Nefud, is through his information. False information–false results”. -Baron Harkonnen.
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].
SITE DOWN Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 10:
Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.
Variant data, national (CDC), September 10 (Nowcast off):
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,085,366 –
1,085,060 = 306 (306 * 365 = 111,690, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a 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.
Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI came in at 56.7 in September of 2022, falling from 56.9 in August but beating market forecasts of 56, and still pointing to the growth above the historical average of 55.”
Well worth a listen!
Manufacturing: “Engine parts makers must cross ‘valley of death’ to reach EV era” [Reuters]. “Auto engine parts makers eyeing the promising electric-vehicle market are dealing with a severe case of delayed gratification. Until EVs truly take off, engine parts makers face a perilous few years where they must invest heavily in new machinery, while struggling with falling sales of fossil-fuel cars.”
The Economy: “Most CEOs are already preparing for a recession, with plans including laying off staff and cutting spending on environmental issues, a major survey shows” [Business Insider]. “Most CEOs are already preparing for a recession, which they think will slash earnings and stunt growth, according to a new survey by KPMG. Measures companies plan to take to weather the recession include cutting ESG spending and laying off staff, the survey, which canvassed the opinions of the CEOs of 400 American companies with annual revenues of at least $500 million, showed. The vast majority of CEOs – 91% – said they thought there would be a recession within the next year, and only a third said it would be mild and short. 80% said they thought it would affect their organization’s anticipated growth over the next three years. Goldman Sachs analysts said in August that there was a 30% probability that the US would enter a recession over the next 12 months, but that a recession in the Euro area was twice as likely. But data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Americans have already spent almost a third of their pent-up savings, which Pantheon Macroeconomics said shows ‘the risk of recession is higher than we previously thought.'”
“‘A common ground for the advancement of photography’: Aperture celebrates 70 years” [Christies]. “This September, Aperture celebrates 70 years since its establishment in 1952. The founders were a consortium of photographers, thinkers and champions of the medium, including Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, Nancy and Beaumont Newhall, and Minor White. The mission, as stated in the inaugural issue of the magazine, still resonates today: “‘Aperture has been originated to communicate with serious photographers and creative people everywhere, whether professional, amateur or student… Aperture is intended to be a mature journal in which photographers can talk straight to each other, discuss the problems that face photography as profession and art, share their experiences, comment on what goes on, descry the new potentials. We, who have founded this journal, invite others to use Aperture as a common ground for the advancement of photography.’” • I remember when my favorite bookstore on Brattle Street had a whole shelf of Aperture Books, squarish, with white covers. Robert Frank. André Kertèsz. Weegee. Many others. Glorious stuff. Anyhow, an interesting interview.
“Pair accused in fishing scandal won thousands of dollars, boat in string of wins” [The Hill]. “The world of competitive fishing, where anglers battle for cash and prizes, is being rocked by a cheating scandal that unfolded at a tournament in Cleveland on Saturday. The tournament to crown the best walleye fishermen on Lake Erie took a scandalous turn when the local tournament director discovered that the two fishermen considered the team to beat inflated the weight of their catch by stuffing the fish with lead sinkers and then padding the inside of the walleye with fillets, preventing judges from discovering the added weight. Cleveland fisherman John Stewart witnessed the cheaters being caught red handed. ‘That was the shocking part, like ‘oh wow, you really did that.’ Like, it was just so blatant. It was just like they didn’t have a care in the world,’ Stewart said.” • First chess, now fishing. What next?
“Why Everyone Is Suddenly Slamming Energy Drinks” [Wall Street Journal]. “Energy-drink sales in the U.S. were 17% higher in August compared with a year ago, and up 56% since summer 2019, according to analytics firm NielsenIQ.” • The following re-assuring photo appears with the article:
I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to appear:
Wait cause i really thought this was the GTA at first.😭 pic.twitter.com/YAvBySP7R1
— Marije Blen🀄️🦍 (@MJ_Blen) October 3, 2022
Or maybe I just missed it?
Groves of Academe
Correct, sad to say:
*Universal* student loan forgiveness (as opposed to forgiveness of unscrupulous for-profit diploma mills) is a tacit acknowledgment that the whole system is fatally corrupted
— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) October 4, 2022
My impulse is to roll everything back. I wish I knew what a “roll forward” would look like. Because that’s what will happen.
Police State Watch
All is not well in Newton, IA:
This evening I was kidnapped at the Newton City Council meeting by the chief of police. This evening I began to read the statement attached. I after I read the second sentence I added that they are a pro-domestic abuse organization after that the mayor gaveled me ‘out of order’ pic.twitter.com/puTJayxHgq
— IC ANTIFA Member (@IcAntifa) October 4, 2022
Zoom in on that “victim statement” at left.
“Railroad executives want to eliminate conductors — and exhausted rail workers are terrified” [Freight Waves]. “Norfolk Southern, like most Class I railroads in the U.S., is looking to whittle down crews to one person. Most freight trains in the U.S. currently have a conductor and engineer on board. The conductor typically monitors and stages freight cars, while the engineer monitors the speed and condition of the engines pulling those cars.” One guy running a mile-long train? This is nuts. More: “A recent study commissioned by the AAR explored these cases to show that one-person crews can be safe. Looking at collisions, derailments, and other employee injuries or fatalities, the study concluded that ‘major European operators using single-person crews appeared to be as safe as Class I multiple- person crew operations.’ However, there are key differences between those trains and Class I freight trains that make the latter potentially more challenging to operate with just one worker. Those trains are rarely as long as the ever-expanding Class 1 freight trains. And those trains tend to be far lighter, too — with the average European train around a sixth of the typical weight of a U.S. train.” • Freight Waves on the side of the angels, here. The article includes this photo:
“Maine Lobster Union Points the Way for Organizing Gig Economy Workers” [Bloomberg]. “Lobstering is an inherently individualistic pursuit. Most boats are crewed by just two or three people, and some captains go it alone. They leave harbor before dawn, spend the day hauling traps up from the seafloor , then motor back to the dock to sell the creatures for the best price they can get. It’s hard work that draws rugged, self-reliant people—in other words, not your typical union members. That’s what makes Local 207—the only lobstering union in the US—so unusual. The decade-old group in Maine represents about 200 lobstermen (as men and most women in the business call themselves). The union members own three 18-wheel trucks, a pair of smaller vehicles for hauling the produce from wharves, and a so-called tank room, a warehouse packed with tubs of refrigerated ocean water in which the crustaceans spend a final few days in something resembling their home environment before reaching their ultimate fate: a quick plunge into a vat of boiling water. ‘We work for the fisherman,’ says Jason Rizzitano, manager of the tank room near Bar Harbor. The lobster union offers a potential model for gig economy workers seeking to push back against large companies that siphon off the bulk of profits in many trades, says Rebecca Lurie, a professor of Labor Studies at the City University of New York. By working together, such groups have organized Uber drivers, home health-care workers, and cable-internet technicians. Moreover, they can get a big boost from organized labor, which ‘offers unparalleled support, as well as an air of legitimacy,’ she says. The union—more often referred to as “Lobster 207”—got its start after a crash in prices 10 years ago.” • Dirigo!
“NYC’s Financial District now blighted with spiking crime, vagrants” [New York Post]. “Once one of the hottest neighborhood in NYC, the Financial District is now simply a dumpster fire, residents and workers told The Post. In early September at least four trash fires were set along Cliff, William and Water streets.” • Yes, now the trash is on the outside. That is the problem.
Class conflict can be fractal:
— 🇺🇦 Alexey Merz (@Merz) October 5, 2022
News of the Wired
IN BALTIMORE THE CATHEDRAL OF BOOKS
This is how they call the George Peabody Library on a university campus in Baltimore (USA).
They say she is the most beautiful in the country and even in the world. pic.twitter.com/EgIEKx4xZT
— Edward Elderman (@edwereddie) October 4, 2022
JU writes: “Fall colors, Three Rivers, CA.”
Readers, I could still use more plant photos (and honorary plant photos, like fungi or coral). Fall colors, garden yield, whatever you’ve got!
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!