By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I wish I could add more orts and scraps on Covid, but I must hustle along and finish up a review of Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Ocellated Thrasher, Huahuapin, Oaxaca, Mexico. “General climate: DRY.”
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Why Trump Did It” [Jack Shafer, Politico]. “Remember those guys in high school — it was almost always boys — who got a buzz from smashing windows, or sending firecrackers down flushing toilets, or throwing rocks at dogs and cats, and shoplifting for the pure rush of it? They didn’t have a reason for their vandalism or malice, they just lacked the “impulse control,” as the school shrinks liked to say, to inhibit whatever imagined mayhem or destructive mischief popped into their brain. Former President Donald Trump is that guy, six decades older, but still that guy. He thrill-seeks. He breaks the law for entertainment. He thinks the rules apply to other people, not him. Brawling with societal norms, he must believe, raises his status in the pecking order. Normally, teenagers grow out of this behavior and stop joy-riding in stolen cars, bullying the weak and generally acting like a juvenile delinquent. But the latest indictment shows, as if we needed convincing, that Grandpa Trump has only grown into the behavior. How else to explain his great classified document caper?” • Or “rational management of symbolic capital”?
“Karl Rove in Journal op-ed: Trump ‘will pay a high price’ in Mar-a-Lago case” [The Hill]. “‘Unlike Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s charges of falsifying business records, this indictment is devastating in its rigor of evidence and the seriousness of the alleged crimes,’ Rove wrote. ‘Even so, the case will further tear our country apart, as it has a heavy impact on the presidential campaign and—wrongly—undermines confidence in our justice system.’ ‘The blame for this calamity rests solely on Mr. Trump and his childish impulse to keep mementos from his time in the Oval Office, no matter what the law says,’ he added.” • Another way of saying this is that Trump could be an accelerationist. I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. At all.
* * *
Meanwhile, Mayo Pete jets into Philly to check on the I-95 collapsed bridge:
Just unconscionable. Residents of East Palestine have been in nightmarish limbo for 4 MONTHS. I've interviewed many of them @TheRealNews: they can't go home or drink their water, their kids are sick. They're begging @GovMikeDeWine to declare a state of emergency & he STILL WON'T https://t.co/rDGLeHltJj
— Maximillian Alvarez (@maximillian_alv) June 15, 2023
* * *
“Cornel West Discusses His Presidential Campaign” (audio) [Black Agenda Report].
I was wrong to say that the GP solved West’s ballot access problem (which the People’s Party could never have done). But at least the GP has an apparatus for addressing it.
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.
* * *
“The Label of ‘Extreme Right’ Has Become an Instrument to Repress Disagreements” (excerpt) [Glenn Greenwald]. “But look at what he actually said. Doing so will reveal how empty the phrases ‘left’ and ‘right’ have become in American discourse: just weapons for stigmatizing dissent. To label someone ‘far right’ now reveals almost nothing about one’s actual views or ideology. It is simply a means for maligning anyone who rejects the western neoliberal consensus and who questions U.S. institutions of power.” • Democrats never label anybody “extreme left” because they’ve done their job, and destroyed whatever left there is (at least in electoral politics).
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Election officials sound the alarm about violence against poll workers” [Politico]. “Seven battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — accounted for nearly 60 percent of all threats of physical violence that election workers reported to a federal task force on election threats. Of the more than 1,000 contacts reported as hostile or harassing by the election officials, approximately 11 percent of those contacts met the threshold for a federal criminal investigation.”
“Killing the Myth of The Guy You Want to Have a Beer With” [Dave Infante, Men Yell at Me]. “In 2009, then-President Barack Obama orchestrated a White House meeting between a Black Harvard professor and the white policeman who had, just a few weeks prior, wrongfully arrested him on his own property in Cambridge, Massachusetts…. [The White House] acceded to the Cambridge police department’s request to include then-VP Joe Biden in the meeting to make sure the white cop wouldn’t be outnumbered by Black men. Very cool and normal stuff! Also cool and normal, and relevant to our purpose: to consummate this neoliberal exercise in classless racial harmony, all four men drank a beer together…. 14 years later, Obama’s ‘beer summit,’ as the mainstream press breathlessly branded it at the time, has held up about as well as his track record of extrajudicial drone killings, environmental destruction, and corporate coziness. Which is to say: not well!” As for “the beer question”: “pundit-class consensus dates this particular mode of superficiality and juvenility at the ballot box to 2004, when George W. Bush won reelection against sentient Lincoln Log John Kerry. Even with ‘the fetid albatross of the Iraq War dangling from his neck,’ wrote Seth Stevenson for Slate in February 2016, Bush ascended because he seemed chill and down to earth.” More: “I want to highlight a less obvious shortcoming of the ‘beer-as-political barometer’ doctrine. Using the ‘guy I want to have a beer with’ test of a political candidate supplants adversarial scrutiny of that candidates’ actual politics with a sort of parasocial fandom willfully ignorant to this country’s deteriorating material conditions of existence. Politicians are not your friends! It’s weird to treat them like drinking buddies, celebrities, or—god forbid—sex symbols! They are supposed to be improving your life, not handing you a High Life!” • Well, yeah. That won’t stop our famously free press from repeating the trope, though! (Thanks for the reminder on “The Beer Summit.” What a farce that was!
“How key SBC decisions on abuse, women pastors raise fundamental questions on church identity” [The Tennessean]. “Local church autonomy is central to Southern Baptist identity. Unlike other denominations with a top-down hierarchy, the SBC believes national leaders can’t tell an individual Southern Baptist church what to do.” • Ah, “identity.”
“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.
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);
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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!
“Evaluation of Mask-Induced Cardiopulmonary Stress” (research letter) [JAMA]. N = 30. China. “Given that the N95 mask offers the highest level of protection against viruses such as COVID-19, we systematically evaluated the effects of extended use of the N95 mask during daily life…. With the use of stratified randomization, participants were randomly assigned to receive interventions with and without the N95 mask (9132; 3M) for 14 hours (8:00 to 22:00), during which they exercised for 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon using an ergometer at 40% (light intensity) and 20% (very light intensity) of their maximum oxygen consumption levels, respectively….. The findings contribute to existing literature by demonstrating that wearing the N95 mask for 14 hours significantly affected the physiological, biochemical, and perception parameters…. Although healthy individuals can compensate for this cardiopulmonary overload, other populations, such as elderly individuals, children, and those with cardiopulmonary diseases, may experience compromised compensation.” • I think I would want to see actual effects on the populations for which harm is suggested. Where’s the evidence that people do not, in fact, compensate successfully?
Testing and Tracking
“Study: At-home rapid COVID tests may miss many infections” (press release) [CalTech]. “New research conducted at Caltech suggests that in many cases, rapid tests that use a nasal swab provide false negatives—suggesting that a person is infection-free even though other parts of their respiratory tract are teeming with the virus. … Researchers in [Rustem] Ismagilov’s lab tracked viral loads in three places in the human body during the course of a COVID-19 infection: the nose, the throat, and the mouth. Because the nose, throat, and mouth are so closely connected, one might expect to see similar virus levels in those locations. That turns out not to be the case…. At the beginning of the pandemic, the gold standard for testing was the deep nasal swab (PCR test) administered by a medical professional, which is highly sensitive and accurate but uncomfortable for many people and slower to provide results. As the pandemic progressed, people more and more relied on at-home nasal rapid antigen tests, which can be performed without the assistance of a medical professional and provide results in as little as 15 minutes. However, in their study, the Caltech researchers found that most people showed a delay of several days between when the virus first appeared in the throat or saliva and when it appeared in the nose. Importantly, 15 of the 17 study participants had high and presumably infectious levels of virus for at least a day prior to getting a positive antigen test.” • Hmm. Everything I’ve read convinces me that the virus first lodges in the nasal tissues. So I presume the mouth/throat – nose sequence is an artifact of proessional swabbing vs. “lay” swabbing?
“Repeat the truth, don’t lead with a lie” [Teams Human]. “The ‘truth sandwich’ means leading with the facts and repeating the correct information. It’s probably the only way to debunk lies without helping to promote them…. Planck’s Principle isn’t the only route forward — progress does not depend solely on funerals or replacing all the pundits & public speakers — as Planck himself demonstrated, people are capable of change. And the ‘truth sandwich’ is a low effort and simple method that we can all use to avoid this common pitfall. And anyone can get familiar with other marketing and influence strategies. This is needed against a very cognitive savvy opposition. The big shots should especially consider it because of their own potential halo effect. And because the side of truth, science, equity, and salubrious ideals, really needs to do better — lives depend upon it.”
“‘We’re drowning and we’re alone’: a qualitative study of the lived experience of people experiencing persistent post-COVID-19 symptoms” [CMAJOpen]. N = 41. “Whereas policy and practice increasingly emphasize the importance of self-management within the context of post-COVID-19 symptoms, new investments that enhance services and support patient capacity are required to promote better outcomes for patients, the health care system and society. Pandemics leave ‘long tails’ in their wake — substantial numbers of survivors likely to experience high levels of symptom burden and disability, decreased quality of life, high rates of health care utilization, potentially reduced life expectancy and reduced economic productivity. … The personal, health care, economic and societal impacts resulting from post-COVID-19 symptoms will become increasingly apparent as the numbers of people affected rise. Disability is anticipated to account for most of COVID-19’s burden and to disproportionately affect women, especially those who were infected at a young age.”
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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.
* * *
To answer the highlighted question, yes, we could, but then we wouldn’t have a functioning PMC. (Love the banner on the table, though. Certainly a “new era”!
“Pandemic Necropolitics: Vulnerability, Resilience, and the Crisis of Marginalization in the Liberal Democratic State” (forthcoming) [Stefania Achella & Chantal Marazia, ed., Vulnerability in Post-pandemic. Medicine, Politics, Humanities]. “Vulnerability, marginalization, and resilience in the pandemic and in an eventual “post-pandemic” state are examined through the lens of Achille Mbembe’s theory of necropolitics. The central claim made is that vulnerability and marginalization are products of a covert and intentional politics of death. It is also argued that for the vulnerable and marginalized, the pandemic does not demarcate between a previous normal and eventual normal state, but is rather, an escalation of a persistently abnormal state. A final claim is that reflection on the fate of the vulnerable and marginalized must resist a Kantian impulse to find and urge resilience and focus instead on a direct attack on the necropolitics that sustains suffering for this population.” • Might we look at necropolitic as “original accumulation” but from the human body?
From BioBot wastewater data from June 15:
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, June 10:
Lambert here: Looks to like XBB.1.16 and now XBB.1.16 are outcompeting XBB.1.9, but XBB.1.5 has really staying power. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).
CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell. Looks like the Walgreens variants page isn’t updating.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 10:
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, June 12:
Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 14:
Lambert here: Theatre of the absurd. I can believe that deaths are low; I cannot believe they are zero, and I cannot even believe that all doctors signing death certificates have agreed to make it so. Looks to me like some administrative minimizer at WHO put the worst intern in charge of the project. And thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 billion endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to the clown car at WHO.
Total: 1,166,899 –
1,166,818 = 81 (81 * 365 = 18,250 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).
Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 16:
Lambert here: Still some encouragement! Not sure why this was updated so rapidly. The little blip upward?
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. )
There are no official statistics of note today.
The Bezzle: “Music publishers accuse Twitter in $250M lawsuit of copyright infringement” [Axios]. “The National Music Publishers’ Association accused Twitter in a lawsuit Wednesday of repeatedly violating copyright law by allowing users to post music to Elon Musk’s platform without permission. ‘Twitter fuels its business with countless infringing copies of musical compositions, violating Publishers’ and others’ exclusive rights under copyright law,’ alleges the NMPA’s lawsuit, brought on behalf of 17 music publishers that represent some of the world’s biggest artists…. While platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have licensing deals, Twitter does not and this ‘breeds massive copyright infringement that harms music creators’ and gives it ‘a valuable and unfair advantage over its properly licensed competitors,’ according to the suit.”
The Bezzle: “Bitcoin climbs as BlackRock files for ETF backed by the cryptocurrency” [MarketWatch]. “Bitcoin rose Thursday afternoon as BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, filed an application for an exchange-traded fund backed by the cryptocurrency. The largest crypto gained over 2% over the past 24 hours to around $25,665 on Thursday, according to CoinDesk data. The coin rallied over 50% so far this year, but is still down about 60% from its all-time high in 2021.”
The Economy: “Machine Tool Orders Down Nearly 40%” [American Machinist]. “U.S. machine shops and manufacturers’ new orders for machine tools fell -38.7% from March to April, totaling $336.7 million in the latest monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report. That figure also represents a -34.4% drop from last April’s total, and brings year-to-date manufacturing technology orders to $1.72 billion, a -13.6% decrease from the January-April 2022 total. The USMTO is a monthly report by AMT – the Association for Manufacturing Technology, summarizing nationwide and regional demand for metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating machinery. It is a forward-looking indicator of overall manufacturing activity, as machine shops and other manufacturers make capital investments in preparation for demand expected in the weeks and months ahead. ‘March has traditionally been one of the better months for manufacturing technology orders, so April is typically a ‘down month’; however, this April was disproportionately off,’ stated AMT president Douglas K. Woods.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 82 Extreme Greed (previous close: 81 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 16 at 1:04 PM ET.
“The Final Triumph of Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023)” [The Honest Broker]:
p>So why did the culture arbiters at legacy media give these books so little attention?
I could come up with many reasons:
A new book from an old dude (almost 90!) in New Mexico is not a cool, fashionable news story. Publishing, it seems, is also no country for old men.
McCarthy’s new books (like his previous ones) are brutal and unapologetic—and many readers will find them disturbing.
Cormac has always been a prickly recluse who doesn’t play the publicity game—and repeatedly refused to give interviews to the media outlets in question. So he drops to the bottom of their priority list.
He never networked with the influential people or glad-handed his way to the centers of power, and even now a price must be paid for this.
This whole experience reminds me of why I rely so much on personal recommendations from trusted sources nowadays. These are simply more reliable—in books and music—than the resident pundits at the leading institutions. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it really is.
I could give other reasons for the puzzling media response to these brilliant books. But this is the place to explain that McCarthy, from the very start of his career, repeatedly faced indifference or hostility—and it lasted for decades.
Not to preen, but I cover the Covid beat and American electoral beats, so in my off-hours reading I don’t need any more “brutal and unapologetic” writing. P.G. Wodehouse for me, thank you very much.
Jokić’s passing reminds me of the Bird-era Celtics.
“At a Post-Crypto-Crash Art Basel, Tech-Based Art Is Trying Hard to Blend in and Look Like… Painting?” [ArtNet]. “After the big busts of 2022, seemingly everyone buying and selling at the uber-chic Swiss fair Art Basel has closed their digital wallets. The NFT-based art that shot onto the scene in 2021 was a notable absence from the stalls of all but a few of the 284 exhibitors this year. And Tezos, once the crypto-currency darling of the art world, was also absent as an official partner at the marquee Swiss fair (unsurprising, since it has lost 56 percent of its value year-over-year).” • That’s because all the grifters have moved on to AI.
“These millionaires want to tax the rich, and they’re lobbying working-class voters” [NPR]. • Shouldn’t they be lobbying each other?
I keep saying “portfolio”; this is why. I want to get away from aghastitude about individual cases and look at class: How the rich rule electoral politics (through the governing PMC). “Sociology is a martial art,” as Pierre Bourdieu says.
“Tax records reveal more contributions from Publix heiress to ‘dark money’ groups sponsoring Jan. 6 rally” [Open Secrets]. “Deposition transcripts, tax returns, corporate disclosures and other records reviewed by OpenSecrets reveal new details about the level of involvement one donor had in planning the rally in the leadup to the Capitol attack…. [Julia “Julie” Jenkins Fancelli, daughter of late Publix Super Markets founder George Jenkins and an heir to his roughly $9 billion fortune, is currently the sole funder and president of the George Jenkins Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit that made a $1.3 million contribution to Moms for America — another dark money group that sponsored the Jan. 6 rally — in 2020, according to OpenSecrets’ analysis of charitable filings and tax documents. The contribution is previously unreported and was not discussed in Fancelli’s publicly-available Jan. 6 select committee testimony transcript. Previously reported contributions include $300,000 to Women for America First, $200,000 to State Tea Party Express, $150,000 to the Rule of Law Defense Fund and at least $1 million to Turning Point Action in late December 2020 — a little more than a week before the protests on Jan. 6. After revelations about Fancelli’s role in the rally emerged, Publix sought to distance itself from the heiress.” • So, those entities are items in Fancelli’s portfolio. Doubtless there are others we don’t know about.
“Koch Network Unleashes Early Attacks Against Trump” [CMD]. “Even before the Justice Department announced the federal indictment of former President Trump last week, the super PAC for Charles Koch’s political operation, Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action), had spent $347,022 in May to discredit his presidential bid in 2024. The group joins Club for Growth as the first right-wing super PACs to openly oppose Trump’s candidacy, according to The Washington Post.” • AFP being an item in the Koch portfolio.
News of the Wired
The treachery of public images:
In 1983, Steve Jobs typed this reply to a letter asking for his autograph: pic.twitter.com/B2THVUktC7
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) June 14, 2023
“This Ancient Language Has the Only Grammar Based Entirely on the Human Body” [Scientific American]. This is a wonderful article, on a language of an isolated tribe in the Great Andaman Islands: “The lexicon consisted of two classes of words: free and bound. The free words were all nouns that referred to the environment and its denizens, such as ra for “pig.” They could occur alone. The bound words were nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs that always existed with markers indicating a relation to other objects, events or states. The markers (specifically, a-; er-; ong-; ot-or ut-; e-or i-; ara-; and o-) derived from seven zones of the body and were attached to a root word, usually as a prefix, to describe concepts such as “inside,” “outside,” “upper” and “lower.” For example, the morpheme er-, which qualified most anything having to do with an outer body part, could be stuck to -cho to yield ercho, meaning “head.” A pig’s head was thus raercho….. Along with the genetic evidence, which indicates the Great Andamanese lived in isolation for tens of thousands of years, the grammar suggests that the language family originated very early—at a time when human beings conceptualized their world through their bodies. The structure alone provides a glimpse into an ancient worldview in which the macrocosm reflects the microcosm, and everything that is or that happens inextricably connects to everything else. • Well worth reading in full.
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