By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Common House-Martin (Western), Blåvand Fuglestation, Region Syddanmark, Denmark: “Flight calls, nest chatter. Seen. In and around the nests two days after arrival from wintering grounds.”
“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!
* * *
“Ron DeSantis decries public defecation, crack smoking during San Francisco stroll” [New York Post]. • Let it never be said of Ron DeSantis that he lacks political courage!
“Glenn Youngkin’s Opening in Virginia” [Wall Street Journal]. “Virginia’s off-year elections are regularly worth watching as a political harbinger, but this year’s could be a triple whammy. Beyond showing how the electorate is trending, November’s results could give the GOP full control of Richmond, and they might even—although it’s a big maybe—slingshot Gov. Glenn Youngkin into the 2024 presidential race…. Perhaps a few GOP candidates in iffy races can ride Mr. Youngkin’s coattails over the finish line. A poll this month by Roanoke College put his approval at 51%, down from 57% in February. Those are nice figures for a Republican Governor in a purple state full of the suburbanites who fled the GOP amid the Trump years. If Mr. Youngkin can take back Richmond and pass a few good bills, who knows what he might do in 2024.”
* * *
502 days is a long time in politics:
2024 Democratic Presidential Primary @JoeBiden 73%@RobertKennedyJr 15%@marwilliamson 3%
Someone else 10%https://t.co/R8yz0UlxWJ pic.twitter.com/ZsQTW8KbAm
— Emerson College Polling (@EmersonPolling) June 22, 2023
One shouldn’t underestimate Biden’s viciousness and lust for power, or that of his supporters. But for a sitting President with — supposedly — a stellar record, and the unanimous backing of his party (modulo Joe Manchin, that creep) Biden’s support feels soft, to me. RFK + Williamson, 18%? Really? And leaving aside the economy (cardboard box sales are down, a good proxy for trouble to come), a Ukraine debacle even if he can gin up conflict with China in time, liberal’s odd fancies about sex and gender, and a hard core of Covid conscious who might just stay home, what happens if he slips a cog?
“DOJ, FBI, IRS interfered with Hunter Biden probe, according to whistleblower testimony released by GOP” [FOX]. “The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday released testimony from two IRS whistleblowers who said the Justice Department, FBI and IRS interfered with the investigation of the tax evasion case against Hunter Biden…. According to testimony released by the committee, one whistleblower, IRS Criminal Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley Jr., said decisions in the case seemed to be ‘influenced by politics.’ ‘Whatever the motivations, at every stage decisions were made that had the effect of benefiting the subject of the investigation,’ Shapley said. ‘These decisions included slow-walking investigative steps, now allowing enforcement actions to be executed, limiting investigators’ line of questioning for witnesses, misleading investigators on charging authority, delaying any and all actions months before elections to ensure the investigation did not go overt well before policy memorandum mandated the pause. These are just only a few examples,’ he added…. Shapley, who oversaw the IRS probe into the president’s son, said the IRS obtained a WhatsApp message dated July 30th, 2017, from Hunter Biden to Henry Zhao, who the New York Post previously reported is a Chinese Communist Party official and CEO of Harvest Fund Management. ‘I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight’ Biden wrote. ‘And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.’ Shapley testified that communications like that message ‘made it clear we needed to search the guest house at the Bidens’ Delaware residence where Hunter Biden stayed for a time.’ However, Shapley testified that Assistant United States Attorney in Delaware, Lesley Wolf, told him “optics were a driving factor in the decision on whether to execute a search warrant.'” • Ah well, nevertheless…
“‘Back Off Joe Biden!’ MSNBC Analyst Loses It At House Republicans Outraged Over Hunter Biden Plea Deal” [Mediaite]. “‘And by the way, everybody needs to back off Joe Biden about this. He loves his son. Back off! It is okay for him to love his son and there’s nothing wrong with it,’ [MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill] concluded. ;They have no evidence of any kind of wrongdoing by Joe Biden. And it infuriates me that they’re using this heartbreak against Joe Biden in this way. It’s just not right.” • Gad.
“Typography 2024: For America! For America’s Best” [Practical Photography]. “Biden’s reelection site is largely a step down from his very good 2020 effort. The fonts have been upgraded to the excellent Decimal and the Caslon-inspired Frame. Otherwise, however, it’s just weird: the cream-colored background, the Mortal Kombat-inspired tagline finish the job, the scribbles on the page purporting to be Joe’s handwriting, and new wavy stripes in the Biden wordmark reminiscent of Andrew Yang’s baconesque 2020 logo. A quintessential example of what happens in design projects when a large budget is handed over to a large committee: by trying to be everything to everyone, it avoids being anything to anyone.” • Fun read. Here is the Biden site:
Yes, once you see the bacon you can’t unsee it.
* * *
“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential run gets support from Wall Street veteran Omeed Malik” [CNBC]. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist who’s now running for president, has another wealthy backer in his corner: veteran Wall Street executive Omeed Malik. Last month, Malik took Kennedy to a swanky private dinner at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to rub elbows with an array of political power players, according to people familiar with the matter. Attendees at the dinner, which coincided with the SCALE Global Business Summit, included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, ex-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Democratic megadonor Marc Lasry, the people said. While these people said Kennedy didn’t pitch himself as a candidate, his attendance at the dinner represents another way to beef up his presence in the political conversation despite having publicly pushed numerous conspiracy theories, including debunked takes on vaccines. The people declined to be named to in order to speak about private deliberations and conversations. The election was nonetheless on attendees’ minds at the dinner. A person familiar with the matter said there were some, including Clinton, who suggested that President Joe Biden’s age could be a hurdle that he’ll need to shrug off to voters. Clinton also cheered on Biden’s tenure as president, another person said.” • Wait. “Shrug off” a “hurdle”? Did an AI write this?
“RFK Jr., Speaking in New Hampshire, Bills Himself as the Peace Candidate” [New York Sun]. “In a speech in New Hampshire Tuesday night, Mr. Kennedy called for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine and an end to military adventures abroad. He peppered his speech with anecdotes and quotations from his late uncle, President John F. Kennedy, to frame his calls for peace as a continuation of President Kennedy’s policies…. ‘Every empire ends itself through over expansion of its military abroad,’ Mr. Kennedy said. ‘I therefore call on our present leadership to adopt President Kennedy’s maxims and start de-escalating now.’ ‘We’ve become addicted to comic book good-versus-evil narratives that erase complexity and blind us to the legitimate motives and legitimate cultural and economic concerns, and the legitimate security concerns of other peoples and other nations,’ Mr. Kennedy said.” • The article includes this photo from RFK’s campaign launch, April 19, 2023 at Boston, Massachusetts:
Kennedy’s advance team managed to get a group of photogenic and properly diverse people into the background of this shot. So apparently his campaign is professionally run (a good sign, if you’re into victory in electoral politics).
“Jill Stein enlisted to help build Cornel West’s third-party presidential campaign” [CNN]. “‘She is helping him transition to the Green Party as he is building his team,’ a source close to both West and Stein said Thursday. On Wednesday night, Stein described herself as the nascent campaign’s ‘interim coordinator’ in an interview with Bloomberg News…. West, a prominent surrogate for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his two presidential campaigns, announced his own plans to run as a candidate with the little-known People’s Party in a video earlier this month. But he quickly broke off from that group, which has limited infrastructure and concerns about ballot access, to join the Greens and seek their nomination. ‘When it comes to infrastructure and institution, it’s much broader and deeper. Access to the ballot, much broader,’ West said on the ‘The Katie Halper Show‘ earlier this month. ‘But in the end, as you know, any candidacy to run the empire, in order to dismantle the empire, has to be part of a movement.'” • This speaks well of Stein.
“Pritzker quickly wields expanded authority to freeze noncitizen health care enrollment” [The Dispatch]. “Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration wasted no time last week in exercising new authority granted by lawmakers to limit the number of enrollees in a pair of state-funded health care programs for low-income noncitizens. In a move that drew intense backlash from immigrant rights advocates, Pritzker on Friday signed House Bill 1298 then immediately filed emergency rules authorized by the law to “temporarily” pause enrollment in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults program as of July 1. That state-funded program serves individuals aged 42 to 64 years who would be eligible for Medicaid benefits based on income levels but not their citizenship status. A similar program serving noncitizens age 65 and older, known as Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors, will remain open unless enrollment reaches 16,500, at which time it will also be paused. ”
* * *
“State lawmakers join forces with the Forward Party” [City & State Pennsylvania]. “Andrew Yang’s newly established Forward Party is taking root in Pennsylvania. And based on the reception the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate received from state lawmakers in the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Wednesday, there seems to be at least some appetite for new political solutions in Harrisburg. Longtime Democratic state Sens. Lisa Boscola and Anthony H. Williams both announced their affiliation with the Forward Party – and while the two will remain registered Democrats, both expressed frustration with the tribalism in the nation’s politics in general and the chamber’s in particular, and made the case for a collaborative, reform-minded approach to governing. ‘We’re here today because, one, we see the edges creeping into the main of our politics,’ Williams said, noting that his voting record can, at times, stray from that of his own party. ‘I refuse to be bullied or intimidated by an ideology that, frankly, doesn’t represent the interests of my people.'”
“A No Labels candidate would likely throw the election to Trump” [Al From and Craig Fuller, WaPo]. “We agree on three points: (1) In a head-to-head general-election contest, Trump faces the same challenges to winning the popular vote as he has in the past, perhaps worse; (2) a moderate independent third-party candidate on the ballot gives Trump the best possible chance of winning reelection; and (3) with Trump saying he will seek reelection even if he is convicted of crimes, we can’t just hope that this threat will go away.” • The bios say it all: “Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council and author of “The New Democrats and the Return to Power,” is an adjunct professor of graduate studies in government at Johns Hopkins University. Craig Fuller is a longtime Republican strategist and served as assistant to President Ronald Reagan for Cabinet affairs and chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush.” These two worked as hard as anyone to create the conditions that made Trump who he is today.
Life is unfair:
It will be very difficult for anyone to claim the 2024 election campaign is fair, since at least two of the candidates (RFK and Trump) have been subject to extensive censorship and “visibility filtering,” and a third, Cornel West, represents a party that’s been denylisted. https://t.co/KmuHEDI9c6
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 20, 2023
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
“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!
Look for the Helpers
14,000 members certainly leaves room for expansion:
https://t.co/ouWAbXcrlM has 14,000 members.
Many are not aware of the opportunity to reach out to others who are still taking precautions, and that it has groups and a directory of safer businesses. pic.twitter.com/ELuMQM7tPa
— Yaneer Bar-Yam (@yaneerbaryam) June 14, 2023
You can always start a Meetup in your area, if you are so inclined. IIRC, Meetup site is not horrid to run or use. Meetups certainly worked well for the Howard Dean campaign, back in the day!
Slowly, the tide turns (1):
Me: “Covid. Covid is still rampant”
Him: “What? But on tv, everyone says that it’s over!”
Me: “They’re lying”
Him: “Maybe I should start wearing mine again…”
— Kara McNair. #BringBackMasks 🦀 🌊🐠💉😷 (@karamcnair) June 15, 2023
Slowly, the tide turns (2):
Talking to masker number 3 (of 3) at work. She said when she gets asked when she'll stop she feels like saying "don't ask me. It's not up to me. You're the one spreading it around. How long do you think I'll have to?" I've never really known her. I think we'll hit it off. 😊
— Gita Salinger ⚜️ 🇨🇦 ✡️ (@SalingerGita) June 13, 2023
“Mask mirroring” isn’t patient-centered care:
Censorship and Propaganda
“Why are some of us suffering from lockdown amnesia?” [Financial Times]. “In a survey conducted this week by market research firm Prolific, shared with the Financial Times, a quarter of a representative sample of almost 1,000 respondents said they only have “a vague memory” of how they spent their time during lockdown. A study published last month, meanwhile, in the science journal PLOS One, found that participants, who were surveyed in May 2022, were just as bad at recalling the timeline of major news events from 2021 as they were for events that had happened three or four years earlier. Lockdowns, the researchers concluded, had a similar effect on our memory to that which has been observed in people who have served time in prison — our ability to recollect distinct points during that period has been impaired… Arash Sahraie, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Aberdeen, tells me that monotony is partly to blame… Stress and unhappiness probably contributed too…. The commonality of the lockdown experience, in other words, is exacerbating our collective amnesia.” • Blah blah blah, blather blather blather. The author doesn’t even consider the idea that memory problems are a physiological effect of Covid infection! All we get is potted psychologizing. (This is also yet another example of Covid optimizing conditions for its own reproduction.)
“Middle schoolers’ reading and math scores plummet” [Axios]. “American students’ test scores in math and reading got significantly worse last year — continuing a decade-long freefall. The decline in math scores last year was the biggest in the past 50 years, according to newly released federal data…. Reading and math scores of elementary school students also plummeted, demonstrating the far-reaching effects of education changes during the pandemic.” • Blah blah blah, blather blather blather. Once again, no consideration given to the possible effects of Covid itself. It’s teh lockdowns!
Testing and Tracking
Denial is the universally preferred strategy:
There was another compact CO2 sensor announced a few years ago. I wrote to them to let me know when it was produced or of they wanted help getting scaled manufacturing funded. But, nothing…
— Jeff Smith on Air Pollution (BreatheLife2030.org) (@jksmith34) November 13, 2020
“Scientists shouldn’t debate gaslighters” [Science]. “Hucksters like RFK Jr are skilled at flooding the zone with garbage. Kennedy recently told Rogan that Wi-Fi could open the blood-brain barrier and cause cancer. Absurd statements like this are a trap for scientists. A scientist wants to explain how conservation of energy works and why Kennedy’s assertion violates just about every principle there is in chemistry and physics. This approach sets up two huge problems. First, it gives RFK’s garbage equal footing with principles that have been established by centuries of science. The second is that to a lay listener, the scientist just comes off as fitting the stereotype of a nitpicking nerd and RFK looks like a powerful communicator. Hotez debating RFK about vaccines would produce the same result. I’ve fallen into this trap a few times myself. I went to the Heterodox Academy to be on a panel that also included the conservative pundits Richard Lowry and Batya Ungar-Sargon, who rattled off all kinds of misinformation about COVID-19. Each thing they said would have taken 15 minutes to refute based on the evidence. So, I picked one and did the best I could. (BTW, they were both gracious participants and very cordial in the green room.) But my knowledge of the evidence and burning desire to cite it all was no match for their rhetorical skills. When scientists refuse these ‘debates,’ the other side gets the opportunity to say that they are turning them down for fear of being challenged. The opposition can claim to be ‘just asking questions,’ even though they don’t care about the answers. But these reactions are preferable to giving them a platform.” • tl;dr: Never sh*t a sh*tter. Fair enough. But who then?
“Survey finds 8% Omicron-positivity rate after medical meeting” [CIDRAP]. “Of attendees at the in-person 2022 German Society of Ophthalmology meeting who completed a survey 3 weeks later, 8% reported testing positive for COVID-19, according to a research letter published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. A team led by Saarland University Medical Center researchers sent online surveys to attendees of the meeting, which took place during the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant wave. Held in Berlin, the conference was the first face-to-face meeting in 3 years due to the pandemic. Infection-prevention measures such as COVID-19 testing, confirmed vaccination, and mask wearing were not required.” • PMC wholly committed to the bit. Globally. But I bet they saw a lot of smiles!
For those who want their children to get sick to toughen up their immune systems:
“VUMC researchers study long term neurological impacts of COVID” [Newschannel5]. Nashville. ” It’s something Dr. James Jackson sees every day. ‘It’s far more than a fog,’ he said. ‘It’s really disruptive functionally, it’s impairing and it’s disabling.’ Dr. Jackson is the Director of Behavioral Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s ICU Recovery Center. He is studying why some long COVID patients struggle with their memory. He works with hundreds of long COVID patients. Many of them exhibit similar symptoms. ‘It is putting metal in the microwave, it is backing into cars in the parking lot, it is stopping at green lights, driving through red lights,’ Jackson said.” Lots of anecdotal data here. More: “Jackson said long COVID may have accelerated dementia symptoms in older patients. In younger ones, he’s seen signs of ABI, or ‘acquired brain injury’. ‘When you have an ABI there’s no external mover, there’s not traumatic event that happens,’ Jackson said. ‘There are medical, internal, biological processes at work — not getting enough oxygen, developing delirium, having something we call neuroinflammation.'” • “Acquired brain injury” (ABI) is in fact a real term of art (and not invented by some minimizing charlatan).
Personal Far-UVC devices another layer but not a substitute for masks:
More evidence that personal portable low-power (3w) Far-UVC can't inactivate aerosolized virus quickly enough to permit any change in masking behavior. It's "personal" only in that it will reduce overall levels in an area- given time, much like a portable HEPA filter. https://t.co/RW0EikI5a6
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) December 3, 2022
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.
* * *
“Taylor Swift Has Rocked My Psychiatric Practice” [New York Times]. “A few months ago I started joking that half of the treatments in my psychiatric practice had become ‘Taylor-based.’ Many of my patients are adolescent girls and young women, and they have leaned on Taylor Swift as a kind of big sister…. But as the Eras tour steadily lurched toward our favorite city, the Taylor-based therapy issues reached a boiling point. ‘How am I going to stay calm before she goes onstage?’ ‘.'” • Here in perhaps its most debased form, is the intensely propagandized “personal risk assessment” paradigm: Increase your protections so you can go to a concert? Instead of maintaining your protocol at a steady high level?
Another data source gone dark, with curious timing:
NYS has been tracking “nosocomial”(infected at hospital) infections since 2005. These type of infections have been known as a public health danger for a century+. The NYS health website reporting these infections hasn’t been updated since.. 2019. https://t.co/NARROGBAGX https://t.co/6RLjTcVqBm
— thomas 🛠 IATSE STRIKE! (@t_NYC) June 22, 2023
One can only wonder why. Given that this is Hospital Infection Control, the possibility that they stopped gathering data because there was no longer a problem is nil.
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from June 20:
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 17:
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 19:
2.0%. Still chugging along, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say.
Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 21:
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: 1,167,387 –
1,167,381 = 6 (6 * 365 = 2,190 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).
NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 20:
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. )
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits were at 264,000 on the week ending June 17th, above market expectations to match the prior week’s upwardly revised value, the highest since October 2021. The result aligned with other recent data that reflects some softening in the US labor market after a prolonged period of stubborn tightness, as US businesses start to feel the impact of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening campaign.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 82 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 22 at 2:09 PM ET.
Readers, especially those of you who “meet the public,” can you confirm with any anecdotes?
Anyone who works w/ the public can tell you rich people are angrier than they’ve ever been – *completely* unhinged over the smallest things – and it’s like, you got absolutely everything you wanted, now you can reward the rest of us with your silence. Chill atop your dragon hoard
— Decorum Disassembly – mas.to/@decorummanager (@DecorumManager) June 15, 2023
“The Biotech Edge: How Executives and Well-Connected Investors Make Exquisitely Timed Trades in Health Care Stocks” [ProPublica]. “Among the notable examples: The chairman of a biotech company bought shares in a corporate partner just as the partner was reaching the final stages of secret negotiations to be purchased. The chairman of a bone health company made aggressive bets on a medical technology firm run by an adviser to his board just before its sales took off, netting him $29 million in a series of options trades. A wealthy investor with ties to a niche area of cancer research personally traded, for the first time ever, in a company in that sector just before it was taken over. He bought high-risk options that earned him a quick $1 million in profit. An information edge can be lucrative in any industry, but especially so in the health care sector. Many of its companies are built around only one or a handful of products, making their shares particularly volatile and ripe for profit by investors with inside knowledge. Biotechs and other up-and-comers face clear make-or-break moments: Clinical trials, signals from regulators or takeover rumors can cause wild swings in share prices.”
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union:
MEMPHIS: “We’re not asking for a ridiculous contract, we’re just trying to hold onto our pay & insurance.”
200 workers on Strike at the IFF Plant (formerly Dupont) — little media coverage despite 6 press releases and a rally with 200+ people & multiple elected officials. https://t.co/SROVsD8ic1
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 21, 2023
“The labor force is smaller than you think and that’s making the Fed very nervous” [Fortune]. “The leading cause of the worker shortfall, according to research by the Fed, is a surge in retirements. In his recent speech, Powell noted that there are now about 3.5 million fewer people who either have a job or are looking for one compared with pre-pandemic trends. Of the 3.5 million, about 2 million consist of ‘excess’ retirements — an increase in retirements far more than would have been expected based on pre-existing trends. Roughly 400,000 other working-age people have died of COVID-19. And legal immigration has fallen by about 1 million.” • Notice there’s no mention of Long Covid at all; deaths is the only metric. It’s entirely possibly that Long Covid is the primary cause for many of those “excess retirements.” And it’s entirely possible that many workers decided that a commute to the workplace was a death march to a death trap, and decided they wanted no part of it.
News of the Wired
“Crews Searching for Missing Submersible Find Debris Field in North Atlantic” [Wall Street Journal]. “One of the vehicles looking in the North Atlantic for a missing submersible with five people aboard discovered a debris field during its search, as crews mounted a desperate hunt for the lost craft. The source of the debris wasn’t immediately clear. Experts are evaluating the information about the debris field, which was found Thursday by a remotely-operated vehicle near the Titanic, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a tweet…. ‘We continue to find in particularly complex cases that people’s will to live really needs to be accounted for as well,’ Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, who is leading the search, told NBC’s ‘Today’ on Thursday morning.” • It’s never been clear to me why we should assume incentives operated to, well, preserve the lives of all five….
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 EMM:
EMM writes: “A great man once said ‘I’m bourgeois enough to regard an unkempt lawn as a serious moral failing.’ I let the lawn go crackers and I can’t say I regret it. Purple Clover.” For what it’s worth, I have successfully used white clover as a deer decoy. I plant it round the edges of the garden, they start munching on it, and don’t to further.
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:
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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!