By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Lark-like Bunting, Akkerendam Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa.
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Debt-ceiling standoff: With key meeting Tuesday, here’s what could go into a bipartisan deal” [MarketWatch]. “Biden, meanwhile, sounded open to clawing back some unspent COVID-relief funds as he took questions from reporters following his meeting on May 9 with the top four lawmakers. ‘We don’t need it all,’ Biden said. ‘I have to take a hard look at it. It’s on the table.””• Anybody remember Project NextGen, that was going to develop some new vaccines, especially nasal vaccines, and PPE? The budgeting for it was always sus:
The $5 billion for the effort came after HHS was directed by the White House to shift funds for coronavirus testing, personal protective gear and other priorities, The Post reports.
How much you want to bet that $5 billion gets thrown into the deficit reduction pot, instead of saving lives?
I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Biden calls white supremacy ‘most dangerous terrorist threat’ in speech at Howard” [Politico]. • Yeah, sheesh, the RussiaGate perps who organized to overturn 2016’s election result. Not a Black face among them. Wypipo, totally. String ’em up!
“The Kamala Harris question” [Financial Times]. “Fairly or not, few think Harris could beat Donald Trump. As a result, Democrats and much of the ‘mainstream’ media are working off an invisible memo that tells them to avoid talking about Biden’s age. This cannot last. Forget Republicans and independents: a majority of Democratic voters think Biden, who will turn 81 in November, should not run for a second term. That means the vice-president will be an unusually big factor next year. To those who say a running mate’s popularity never alters US election outcomes, there are two responses. First, history is a useless guide. It has twice told us that Trump could not be the Republican nominee. That looks on course to being twice disproved. The second consists of two words: Sarah Palin. I defy any US political scientist to put their hand on heart and say Palin’s presence on the ageing John McCain’s ticket did not harm his chances against Barack Obama in 2008 — especially after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Either way, Republicans, such as Nikki Haley, one of next year’s presidential contenders, have made it clear Harris will be the target. ‘If you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris,” Haley said recently.” And: “The more exposure she is given now the better. Harris needs to be prepared to be president. Biden picked her in 2020. Now he must invest in her.” • Can’t we regard Harris as a sunk cost, in invest in ways of getting her off the ticket?
“Trump is attacking DeSantis hard on policy, amid the flurry of insults” [Reuters]. “Amid the headline-grabbing insults and name-calling, Donald Trump is pursuing a surprisingly policy-heavy strategy to damage his closest Republican rival Ron DeSantis before he enters the presidential race, according to a Reuters analysis of the former president’s statements since he announced his White House bid. Forty percent of Trump’s attacks on the Florida governor have targeted issues such as Social Security, the government-run Medicare health program for older Americans, foreign policy and DeSantis’ record in office. Five political analysts who reviewed Reuters’ findings said the strategy marks a sharp contrast with Trump’s first run for president in 2016, when he won the Republican nomination with chaotic tactics based largely on personal insults leveled at his opponents. ‘This time it’s clear that Trump is changing the way he does this by hitting harder on the policy stuff,’ said David Gergen, a non-partisan analyst who has advised one Democratic and three Republican presidents.”
“9 Ways Vivek Ramaswamy Can Beat Donald Trump, According to Andrew Yang” [Politico]. Nine! Fancy that! But this is actually good advice: “Early in my campaign, someone said to me, “People can tell if you’re having a good time.” And if you’re having a good time, it rubs off on those around you. A lot of the other Republican candidates seem miserable. Their messages are of anger, grievance and despair. You can express emotion and urgency without being a drag to listen to or be around. You can out-positive other candidates, and that will attract voters who are tired of politicians’ fire-and-brimstone speeches.” • I don’t know if I’d call Trump a “happy” candidate. Gleeful, perhaps. Of course, happiness isn’t the emotion one most associates with professional wrestling. Or The Apprentice, for that matter.
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.
* * *
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Durham proves that Hillary and the FBI tried to rig the 2016 election” [New York Post]. Quite right. Though I have to say that the FBI didn’t supply the only personnel from the organs of state security involved in this little project. I wonder what a careful reader of the Durham report would find suggesting CIA and NSA involvement. I mean, was signing a letter the only thing putatively retired spooks like Clapper and Morrell did? I’m guessing no. And will the FBI be unhappy about being the whipping boy? More importantly, will they share their unhappiness with others? Not that I’m foily! More: “CIA chief John Brennan briefed President Barack Obama and other top officials on ‘alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal . . . to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.'” • It would be irresponsible not to speculate….
“Eight Takeaways From the Durham Report” [Susan Schmidt, Racket News]. “A quick read revealed the following key takeaways: 1 There was no valid predicate for the investigation, and the FBI knew it. 2. ‘There’s nothing to this, but we have to run it to ground.’ 3. ‘It’s thin’; ‘There’s nothing to this.’ 4. The Trump campaign investigation was premised on ‘raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence,’ and U.S. intel agencies possessed no ‘actual evidence of collusion’ when the probe began. 5. Sensational stories published in the New York Times in February and March 2017 claiming Trump associates were in contact with Russian intelligence agents were false. 6. FBI Director James Comey pushed heavily for an investigation of Carter Page, starting in April 2016 when Page was a government witness in an espionage investigation of Russian diplomats in New York. 7. At the direction of the FBI, confidential human source Stefan Halper recorded lengthy conversations with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, in which each denied the campaign had any involvement with Russian officials. 8. Durham was highly critical of the FBI’s ‘startling and inexplicable failure’ to investigate the so-called ‘Clinton Intelligence Plan.'”
“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard);
MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV ( wastewater); WY ( wastewater).
Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Stay safe out there!
Look for the Helpers
“Family sues production companies after man dies from COVID while working on American Horror Story” [CBS]. A little too on-the-nose. More: “The family of an East Bridgewater man who died from COVID-19 after working in the filming project of the American Horror Story series, filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against three Hollywood production companies. Paul Woodward drove a passenger van, transporting cast and crew to and from the set of the show filmed in Provincetown in February and March of 2021, before vaccines were widely available to the public. His family alleges that Twentieth Century Fox, Ryan Murphy Productions, and the Walt Disney Company did not follow their own COVID safety protocols. ‘He was given a van that did not have a spit shield. There was no plexi-glass barrier separating him from all the passengers. One was requested. The request was denied,’ said Attorney Jonathan Sweet of Keches Law Group who is representing the family. Sweet says masking and social distancing protocols in the van were also not adhered to.” • Some kind Rhode Islander needs to give Keches Law Group a call and explain that plastic shields don’t work against an airborne virus (and we don’t want to enshrine the idea in precedent, either, or droplet dogma). Masking, however, works. More lawsuits, please!
Sanity in Washington, DC:
We are proud to still wear our masks in our office. Protection from COVID is not just for the *vulnerable as we are ALL vulnerable to COVID and long COVID.
— Ida Bergstrom, MD (@DCDoc33) May 16, 2023
Covid Is Airborne
And so is wildfire smoke:
Wildfire smoke from the boreal forest has arrived here in Southern SK. All five of our Corsi-Rosenthal boxes are running at home. They definitely make a difference to air quality. pic.twitter.com/wfqbRA9eoQ
— Adithya Ramachandran (@AdithyaR_YXE) May 17, 2023
SK = Saskatchewan.
“New CDC Standards of Air Hygiene” [John Snow Project]. “In addition to advising people who have “symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea” to stay home1, the CDC also recommended that children over the age of two wear masks whenever possible. This is not surprising because as the CDC notes, “COVID-19 can cause serious health problems, so it’s more important than ever to protect your child’s health.'” • CDC also recommends “5 or more air changes per hour (ACH) of clean air to rooms in your building.” • The draft ASHRAE standard is specific to building type and often higher:
Using standard densities from 62.1 at full occupancy, I've converted these rates into air changes per hour and what CO2 level you would expect to have if outdoor air was the only tool used (it won't be, but this is just for reference).
— Joey Fox (@joeyfox85) May 12, 2023
I don’t know about this particular tech, but I share Wu’s view:
The fact that we have folks still tinkering on this stuff, quietly and meticulously filling spreadsheets with information from particle counters on what actually works, it really is one of the few things left that gives me hope.
If there Powers That Be/the public ever has the… https://t.co/gODESjN5Na
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) May 17, 2023
The amount of citizen engineering going on with masks is astounding. Only good can come of this.
On the debacle of children’s Covid, an excellent thread:
The best-kept secret of the pandemic is that in 2020 those under the age of five (5), children, actually had >NEGATIVE< excess deaths
In other words, fewer children under the age of five died in 2020 than normally die in any given year
This became the foundation of a deadly lie pic.twitter.com/0IB3cKPXjO
— Gregory Travis. Make schools #DavosSafe (@greg_travis) May 17, 2023
Non-pharmaceutical interventions worked. So, naturally, policy-makers said “We’re done,” and turned them off (assuming good faith, of course):
The result was catastrophic
Because children were believed to be immune to COVID, schools returned to unsafe "in-person" instruction, masks were dropped & vaccinations were prohibited
Fifty million children were infected in six months from Nov 2021 through Mar 2022 pic.twitter.com/ZcgJ0wwPGm
— Gregory Travis. Make schools #DavosSafe (@greg_travis) May 17, 2023
“Depression hits new high among Americans, per survey” [STAT]. “The Gallup survey of more than 5,000 adults in late February indicates that depression, already labeled a crisis among children amid Covid-19 shutdowns and social media use, is much more widespread. Depression rates have sharply risen among women and Black and Hispanic people in particular. More than 36% of women report that a doctor has diagnosed them with depression in their lives, compared to 20.4% of men, with depression rates among younger people outpacing that of older respondents. While white people historically have reported the highest depression rates, Black and Hispanic adults are now reporting similar figures. Gallup researchers said that while women typically report higher depression rates than men, much of the recent surge could be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Women disproportionately lost their jobs or exited the workforce to take care of family. Women also account for two-thirds of the health care workforce, which has struggled with staffing shortages and the psychological toll of the Covid-19 emergency. The survey did not break respondents out by occupation. ‘The people that were hoping that the mental health crisis caused by Covid would stop when Covid stops will be disappointed,’ said Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. However, Duckworth also suggested a potential positive from the survey results: perhaps more people are reporting depression because cultural stigma around the diagnosis has declined.” •
Science Is Popping
“SARS-CoV-2 evolution in the absence of selective immune pressures, results in antibody resistance, interferon suppression and phenotypic differences by lineage” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Mouse study. “The persistence of COVID-19 is partly due to viral evolution reducing vaccine and treatment efficacy. Serial infections of Wuhan-like SARS-CoV-2 in Balb/c mice yielded mouse-adapted sstrains with greater infectivity and mortality. We investigated if passaging unmodified B.1.351 (Beta) and B.1.617.2 (Delta) 20 times in K18-ACE2 mice, expressing human ACE2 receptor, in a BSL-3 laboratory without selective pressures, would drive human health-relevant evolution and if evolution was lineage-dependent. Late-passage virus caused more severe disease, at organism and lung tissue scales, with late-passage Delta demonstrating antibody resistance and interferon suppression.” • If I am interpreting this study correctly, it shows that SARS-CoV-2 does not necessarily evolve to be milder (contrary to one of those talking points that suddenly and mysteriously appears in the zeitgeist).
“Reinfections and Cross-Protection in the 1918/19 Influenza Pandemic: Revisiting a Survey Among Male and Female Factory Workers” [International Journal of Public Health]. “Among the total of n = 820 factory workers, 50.2% reported influenza-related illness during the pandemic, the majority of whom reported severe illness. Among male workers 47.4% reported an illness vs. 58.5% of female workers, although this might be explained by varied age distribution for each sex (median age was 31 years old for men, vs. 22 years old for females). Among those who reported illness, 15.3% reported reinfections. Reinfection rates increased across the three pandemic waves. The majority of subsequent infections were reported to be as severe as the first infection, if not more. Illness during the first wave, in the summer of 1918, was associated with a 35.9% (95%CI, 15.7–51.1) protective effect against reinfections during later waves.” • Another myth: Reinfection is milder.
Should somebody check in on Canada, and see how they’re doing?
“Doctors, academics, activists call for removal of top Vancouver doctor from her role over COVID-19 claims” [CTV News]. “[Protect Our Province BC] is blasting [Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical officer Dr. Patricia Daly for encouraging listeners to think of COVID-19 ‘like other respiratory viruses, especially the coronaviruses that cause common colds.’ In its open letter, the group points out that there have been at least 12 studies to date that link COVID-19 infections to later diabetes diagnoses. PoP BC also linked to a CTV News Vancouver article that covers the latest study, in which the provincial health officer acknowledged the long-term impacts COVID can have on different body organs. ‘It’s not just affecting the lungs,’ said Dr. Bonnie Henry. ‘We know it can lead to heart disease, we know that people who have post-COVID symptoms have things like neurological issues, they have fatigue and brain fog and some of the other things that we have seen are related to things like diabetes.’ The group is also pushing back against Daly’s claim that, between high rates of vaccination and infections, B.C. has a strong hybrid immunity, meaning the population is protected against severe COVID-related illness and death. PoP BC describes this claim as ‘unsubstantiated.’ During her May 5 interview, Daly also made comments about young people being at low risk from COVID-19, and said the risk of experiencing severe illness and death from that virus versus the common cold is about the same for people living in long-term care homes. PoP BC’s letter disputes both of those claims, as well as ones Daly made about long COVID, post-COVID conditions, the efficacy of face masks and the availability of antiviral agents being available to the public. ‘Dr. Daly’s public statements are not based in science and they minimize the real risks of COVID-19 infections,’ the letter reads. ‘We expect public health leaders not to negligently misrepresent the accumulating scientific evidence related to SARS-CoV-2. We expect these authorities to protect all British Columbians who still put their trust in provincial public health leaders, not put them at risk of harm.'” • Too much even for Bonnie Henry!!!!!
“Third COVID-19 outbreak in three weeks declared at Burnaby Hospital” [BurnabyNow]. “Upon declaring the outbreak, Fraser Health immediately implemented precautions at the site, including enhanced cleaning to protect the health of all staff, medical staff, and patients,” a statement read.” • Enhanced cleaning. I really deprecate that “Please kill me” trope, because that’s something I don’t want to suggest, even in jest, but there are times…
* * *
“Students are increasingly refusing to go to school. It’s becoming a mental health crisis” [USA Today]. “[Jayne] Demsky sought help from educators, doctors and counselors, trying to understand what was stopping her son from going to school for nearly a year. Finally, a psychiatrist told Demsky about a condition that affects a growing number of students with severe anxiety: school avoidance. ‘It was almost like a revelation,’ she told USA TODAY. , also called school refusal, is when a school-age child refuses to attend school or has difficulty being in school for the entire day. Several mental health experts told USA TODAY it has become a crisis that has gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.” • Look, just because schools are death traps filled with an airborne Level 3 pathogen is no reason to avoid them! (And leave it to the PMC to invent a medicalizing term for it. I wonder if there’s a drug for SAB. Soma, maybe?)
“Macroeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic” [Economic Modelling]. “The analysis of the decomposition revealed that the largest losses from COVID were associated with the mandatory closure of businesses and the slow reopening process, followed by the avoidance of workplace and other activities by households. …” lol … “primarily due to the decline in demand caused by the declining population, the increase in demand for health care led to a rise in real GDP. Pent-up demand is a significant factor in the recovery process, raising growth ever closer to the original baseline growth. Early rounds (1–4) of fiscal policy were also very helpful in alleviating some of the losses in economic growth due to mandatory business closures, avoidance, and other causal factors. The benefits of the last round of fiscal policy are considerably lower, and even negative, compared to earlier rounds due to crowding out of private investment and the need for businesses to repay loans. Several areas of future research present themselves. A prime example would be developing future scenarios involving new variants, more effective vaccines, and more effective anti-viral treatments.” • Note, as usual, the complete suppression of non-pharmaceutical interventions (and the concomitant sucking up to Big Pharma).
“Hospitals create police forces to stem growing violence against staff” [NPR]. • Just in time for the pro-mask protests? (It’s been my view for some time that direct action at Hospital Infection Control offices is the only way forward.)
“Why UCSF’s Bob Wachter and other COVID experts say we’re at a pandemic ‘tipping point'” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Given the politicization of public health policies, a sudden resurgence of virus-related hospitalizations and fatalities would be unlikely to lead to more sweeping government restrictions such as lockdowns and mask mandates. The U.S. dropped many of its pandemic-era restrictions long before the public health emergency came to an end. And society has moved on too. It is unlikely that people would rally together against a common enemy as they did in March 2020.” Rule #2. More: “‘For a lot of people, it really is kind of like a tipping point where it’s like, ‘I have done that for two or three years and I just can’t do it anymore,” said Wachter, who added that he still puts on a mask in crowded settings. ‘Unless you start seeing a massive number of deaths* — you know, 2020 level of deaths — I think a lot of people really are past it and they’re not going back.'” • This from the dude who chivvied his own wife to a superspreading event, where she got Covid, and then Long Covid, which she still has. Remember how all the people who were wrong about Iraq cashed in, and all those who were right were ostracized? Like that, except orders of magnitude worse. NOTE * The number of deaths “under the curve” is still massive — more massive than the deaths during Biden’s Omicron jouissance, as I show here. But you’ll never hear that from PMC sociopaths like Wachter.
This is my mother. She lives in a memory care facility. None of the caregivers, nurses, doctors or administrators wear masks. Neither do visitors. She caught covid, and never recovered her ability to walk after that. They are "following CDC guidelines". #KeepMasksInHealthCare pic.twitter.com/xvfILLpEZ4
— Carol Ezell (@CarolEzell7) May 16, 2023
I could file this under Class Warfare, too. Since that’s what it is:
Because lockdowns saved many lives but lockdowns also disrupted capitalist activity the only place left for mainstream discourse to go was to argue saving lives shouldn't be a priority goal of state governance. In this context, don't be surprised by anything that comes next
— Nate Bear (@NateB_Panic) May 17, 2023
The whinging because for two months people couldn’t go to Applebee’s unless they decided infecting others was worth it!
A totally normal thing to do in normal times is to frantically tell everyone how normal everything is over and over again.
— The Yeti of Kananaskis (@LordOfTheYeti1) May 14, 2023
Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from May 15:
Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau. Are we are the point in the global pandemic where national experiences really diverge?
For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 13, 2023:
Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 13:
NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.
NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, May 15:
Up 1%. Frequency down to once a week?
NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 7:
Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.
Total: 1,163,294 –
1,163,026 = 268 (268 * 365 = 97,820 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).
Lambert here: Still low.
NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 9:
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )
Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US unexpectedly increased 2.2% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.401 million in April of 2023, compared to market forecasts of 1.4 million. Data for March was revised sharply lower to 1.37 million from 1.42 million, as high prices, interest rates, and tighter lending standards continue to weigh.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 16 at 1:36 PM ET.
“A Retrospective Study to Determine the Impact of Psychedelic Therapy for Dimensional Measures of Wellness: A Quantitative Analysis” (preprint) [medRxiv]. n = 65. “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines wellness as the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. No study to date has identified the impact of psychedelic medicines on optimizing wellness using a dimensional approach. Using this approach, treatment effects can be measured more broadly using a composite score of participants’ global perceptions of change for pain, function, and mood scores. Given the precedence in previous work for retrospective studies of participants’ self-medicating with these substances, the nature of this study design allows for a safe way to develop further evidence in this area of care, with wellness as the broad indication…. The use of various psychedelic medicines may be associated with a broad range of changes that could help clarify the mechanism of how they impact wellness in the future. Pain, mental health, function, and overall quality of life accordingly improved after the use of these medicines. Minor differences between the drugs were not found as significant, indicating that the perceived benefits seemed to be specific to the psychedelic class. Numerous limitations exist to this type of study which was relatively small in size, retrospective and anonymous in nature.” • I loathe the very concept of wellness, not least because Obama made sure ObamaCare funded it. Nevertheless…. Paris is worth a mass…..
“Elon Musk: Working from home is ‘morally wrong’ when service workers still have to show up” [CNBC]. “‘I think that the whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, ‘Let them eat cake,” Musk said. ‘It’s not just a productivity thing,’ Musk said. ‘I think it’s morally wrong.’ Musk referred to tech workers as the ‘laptop classes living in la-la-land,’ telling [CNBC’s David Faber] it was hypocritical to work from home while expecting service workers to continue to show up in person. ‘People should get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bulls***,’ Musk continued.'” • Musk is correct, but the only solutions are society wide: Air quality combined with universal masking.
Stochastic eugenics. You can bet 40-year-olds from rich families are doing fine, just fine:
One in twenty-five American five-year olds doesn't make it to their 40th birthday, the kind of number you would typically see in failing and failed states pic.twitter.com/GvM1ExSnTO
— Nate Bear (@NateB_Panic) May 17, 2023
Everything’s going according to plan!
News of the Wired
“Hardcover Chapbook 1.0” [DIY Bookbinding]. “Overall I was very pleased with the way this first edition turned out. But, I’ll be making a few changes for the next version. The biggest change will be my interior paper. I used the closest paper at hand to print the interior pages and it was too thin. Run of the mill copy paper is fairly thin and light weight. This caused a few issues. First, the printing on the back sides of the paper shows through. It also absorbed moisture from the glue when the cover was applied and warped the pages a little. Finally, it just feels flimsy. The paper I used is not awful, but my goal is to give this little book a high quality feel. So, I’ll be upgrading to a 32lb (120 gsm) paper for the interior on the next edition.” • Very nerdy! Also Jackpot-ready, on the assumption that this e-book thing is just a fad.
Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From AM:
AM writes: “A scrawny azalea that I never noticed in prior years in the backyard, adding a little spring color. Grass getting green but rain needed!”
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
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!