By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I am once again entangled in another post on a proposed HICPAC guidance, and so today’s Water Cooler is shorter than usual. Full rations tomorrow! –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Eastern Whip-poor-will, Bleuetières Rang Saint-Joseph, Les Bergeronnes, La Haute-Côte-Nord, Quebec, Canada. “Site de nidification connu de cette espèce depuis de nombreuses années. Première nuit de l’année où je remarque beaucoup de papillons, dont certains de bonne taille. Les engoulevents chantent constamment et se posent occasionnellement sur le sable du chemin où on peut les observer devant les phares de la voiture.”
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
#DavosSafe for me, but not for thee, prole:
The Powerful Deserve Protection From The Thing That We Told You Is No Longer A Problem. pic.twitter.com/FUwgX50dgi
— The Vertlartnic (@TheVertlartnic) July 19, 2023
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Tucker Carlson Could Help Donald Trump Counterprogram Fox News’ GOP Debate” [Vanity Fair]. “With a durable double-digit lead in the polls, Donald Trump continues to float the idea that he might boycott the first Republican presidential debate, scheduled to air next month on Fox News. ‘I haven’t really made up my mind,’ Trump told Fox on July 16. ‘When you have a big lead, you don’t do it.’ The question, of course, is how a ratings-obsessed Trump would counterprogram a prime-time Fox debate that is sure to draw a significant cable news audience and feature such 2024 challengers as Ron DeSantis. One idea Trump is mulling is to sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson on his Twitter show at the same time as the debate, two sources briefed on the discussions said. According to one source, Trump recently reached out to Carlson and asked if Carlson would do the interview, but no decisions have been made. The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Carlson declined to comment.” • Amusing!
“McConnell declines to say whether Trump should be charged criminally for Jan. 6” [The Hill]. “‘I’ve said every week out here that I’m not going to comment on the various candidates for the presidency. How I felt about that I expressed at the time, but I’m not going to start getting into sort of critiquing the various candidates for president,’ McConnell told reporters when asked whether it would be legitimate for the Justice Department to charge Trump in connection with efforts to stop Congress’s certification of President Biden’s 2020 election victory.”
* * *
“Will Latino voters help lead the GOP to victory in 2024?” [Brookings Institution]. “One of the best academic analyses of Latino voting behavior in 2020 by political scientists Angela Ocampo, Angie Gutierrez, and Sergio Garcia-Rios found that Latino concern over the economy and Trump’s promise to immediately re-open the economy did, in fact, help him gain support among enough Latinos to generate the improvement from 2016 that has been widely discussed by pundits and the media. Former President Trump was able to use his business background to convince about 10% more Latinos than usual to vote Republican due to the economic uncertainty the country faced during the pandemic. As the economy continues to return to normal after the pandemic, the fear and uncertainty that led to gains for the Trump campaign among Latinos may no longer help Republicans. Second, without the pandemic solidifying policy salience around either pandemic relief or addressing the associated economic collapse, Latinos’ policy priorities will be much more diffused in 2024. Just like in 2022 when abortion policy emerged as a key priority for Latino voters due to an unpopular SCOTUS decision, and large percentages of Latino voters identified gun violence as a top issue driving their vote, .” • Hmm.
* * *
“‘The stoning of R.F.K. Jr.'” [Patrick Lawrence, The Scrum]. “”Covid–19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. Covid–19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” the Post quoted Kennedy as saying with his usual aplomb. ‘We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted, but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact.’ Caucasians and Blacks have proven more susceptible to infection, Chinese and European Jews less: This is what Kennedy found in the peer-reviewed scientific papers he cited… The Post had the integrity to publish a 1–minute 47–second video—a snippet or the whole is not clear—that either Levine or a colleague recorded during the lunch. I cannot comment on the decisive question concerning the breaking of wind at Tony’s, but nothing raucous goes on in the video, and what Levine chose to quote in his copy was (1) a provocative misrepresentation of Kennedy’s point and (2) left out the most startling part of his comments. The Levine piece, with the video just under the headline, is here. … As to Kennedy’s reference to European Jews and the Chinese, he clarified subsequent to the lunch that this relied on a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic indicating that some ethnic and racial groups, among them Ashkenazi Jews, were less susceptible to the Covid–19 virus than other groups, among which are Blacks. This—the blood simmers as I write this sentence—is the basis of the charge that R.F.K. Jr. displayed anti–Semitic tendencies while consuming his pasta with white clam sauce at Tony’s earlier this month.” • Hey, anybody remember the T-shirt of Sanders on sale at the 2016 Democrat Convention? The one depicting him as a rat? Good times.
“Cornel West To CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “You’re Very Much Part Of The Democratic Party Establishment” (video) [CNN]. “Green Party 2024 presidential candidate Cornel West responded to criticism from Democratic strategist David Axelrod that his candidacy could be a “spoiler” that helps former President Trump win during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. ‘Brother David Axelrod looks at the world through the lens of the establishment. Well, of course, from the lens of the establishment, he is concerned about reproducing the establishment,’ West said. Cooper suggested: ‘David Axelrod, he seems more interested in preventing former President Trump from getting re-elected more than I’d say recreating the establishment.’ ‘No, I’m talking about the Democratic Party establishment though, brother. Axelrod, you see what I mean? You would agree. You’re very much part of the Democratic Party establishment,’ West said.” • “Brother David Axelrod,” I love it.
“Cornel West and the Campaign to End Political Apartheid” [The Chris Hedges Report]. “Third parties not already ballot-qualified and independents must collect valid signatures on a petition to run for president. Some states require a fee or a few hundred signatures. Others require tens of thousands of signatures. The Republicans and Democrats set the requirements in state legislatures, and then, flush with corporate cash and teams of lawyers, haul independents and third party candidates into court to challenge the validity of their petition signatures. These lawsuits are used to invalidate signatures to force candidates off the ballot, deprive voters the opportunity of supporting other candidates, as well as drain the campaign budgets of small competitors. Republican and Democratic party state-level officials, either elected or appointed, administer the federal elections to serve their party’s advancement.” • This is a modern political party at work; controlling the ballot is their distinctive competence, unlike the parties in George Washington’s day.
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.
* * *
“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
Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Stay safe out there!
A summer tip for the COVID cautious: don't store your 3M Aura masks in the hot car. The adhesive for the foam nosepad detaches. One nosepad came off entirely; others shifted or bubbled up. pic.twitter.com/FJmlUMTx0z
— Amy Mitchell (@amymitchellart) July 19, 2023
“Mucosal immunisation of African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) with an attenuated parainfluenza virus expressing the SARS coronavirus spike protein for the prevention of SARS” [Lancet (dougiedd)]. From the Abstract: “The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 was caused by a previously unknown coronavirus—SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). We have developed an experimental SARS vaccine for direct immunisation of the respiratory tract, the major site of SARS-coronavirus transmission and disease…. A vectored mucosal vaccine expressing the SARS-coronavirus S protein alone may be highly effective in a single-dose format for the prevention of SARS.” • From 2004, still germane. What do we learn, Palmer?
Totally over my head:
First, to make a few things clear.
1) This is a nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal (NP/OP) swab, not a cryptic wastewater sequence
2) It's almost certainly from a person with a chronic infection. It's very unlikely to transmit, though that possibility can't be ruled out 2/18 pic.twitter.com/0AZDOVI8yy
— Ryan Hisner (@LongDesertTrain) July 19, 2023
Tiny sample sizes (at least in the UK):
Let me help you out…
Do you see it now?
Now tell the truth… had you even spotted that inconspicuous little black line before I highlighted it for you? pic.twitter.com/MHHdfUeOzh
— Cat in the Hat 🐈⬛ 🎩 🇬🇧 (@_CatintheHat) July 20, 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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.
* * *
“‘The Guy Isn’t Totally Wrong’: The Curious Case of Covid-19 Scientists and Senator Tom Cotton” [Matt Taibbi, Racket News]. “The point is the scientists were not just conscious of politics, but conscious of how politics intersected with what they perceived to be the goal of their paper, i.e. to try to quiet the “diehards” and “conspiracy theorists.” After the authors were rejected by Nature initially, Andersen wrote a seething letter back to an editor there, complaining that of course the scientists would have loved to blame everything on pangolins and dispose of the lab leak theory once and for all, but they just couldn’t…. It’s in the context of all of this that Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton gets a handful of bizarre mentions. On February 16th, 2020, Dr. Garry shared a Washington Post article by Paula Firozi titled, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed.” Garry’s comment: “Important to get this out.” The Post piece blasted Cotton for repeating “a fringe theory suggesting that the ongoing spread of a coronavirus is connected to research in the disease-ravaged epicenter of Wuhan, China.” In classically heavy-handed Post fashion, that February 16th piece linked to an earlier Post story saying the same thing, as the DC brahmins had already, on January 29th — really before even very wired-in people like the Proximal Origin authors knew much about Covid-19 — decided that ‘experts’ could already ‘debunk’ theories connecting the virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” January 29 does seem awfully early. “Intel” inside? More: “But the early 2020 comments on Covid-19 that earned [Cotton] years of excoriating headlines were simple, true, even boring. He said there were only four possibilities when it came to the pandemic’s origin: natural occurrence, accident resulting from ‘good science’ like vaccine development, accident involving something less savory like bioweaponry, and ‘deliberate release.’ In saying this, Cotton made it very clear from that he felt the natural explanation was ‘the most likely,’ while he classified deliberate release as ‘very unlikely.’ This obvious take of course wasn’t ‘totally wrong,’ as Andersen admits in this chat. But because Cotton was perceived to have bad or anti-Chinese motives in even bringing up the possibility of lab escape, Andersen did what ‘anti-disinformation’ experts now frequently do on whole ranges of issues involving factual-but-unpleasant matters like vaccine side effects, declaring him not-wrong-but-obviously-wrong, or narratively wrong. Andersen’s comments were made in private, but he was soon joined in spirit by a stampede of furious pundits, who ignored Cotton’s ‘still most likely’ language about natural origin, and created an alternative interpretation of his remarks out of whole cloth.” • PMC gotta PMC.
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, July 17:
Lambert here: A distinct upward trend. Not seeing the upward slope of doubling behavior, but we are now — just scan the chart backward — at a level above every previous valley.
Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.
Regional variant data:
Whatever the cause of the uptick in the Northeast, it’s not EG.5 (the orange pie slice), which seems evenly distributed.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 8:
Lambert here: EG.5 moving like a bat out of hell, showing unactionable nature (uselessness) of these CDC two-week-lag charts (here, and in positivity, too). They’re not even performative!
From CDC, June 24:
Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. 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.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, July 15:
Lambert here: Notice the slight increase.
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, July 17:
1.1%. Going up, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)
NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 26:
Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….
Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 19:
Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?
Total: 1,169,029 – 1,168,944 –
1,168,914 = 85 (85 * 365 = 31,025 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).
The Economist, July 20:
Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. 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 fell by 9,000 from the prior week to 228,000 on the week ending July 15th, the lowest in two months, and sharply below market expectations of 242,000. The result further underscored the stubborn tightness in the US labor market, consolidating Federal Reserve officials’ calls for another 25bps rate hike in its upcoming meeting.” • Jay Powell to give his rubber thumbscrew another turn…
Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US was little changed at -13.5 in July of 2023 from -13.7 in June, worse than market forecasts of -10, and continuing to point to an overall decline in manufacturing activity in Philadelphia.”
Mr. Market: “The stock market’s ‘fear gauge’ gives investors little to worry about: Morning Brief” [Yahoo News]. “[T]he market’s ‘fear gauge’ — the CBOE Volatility Index (^VIX) — rose slightly but still closed the day with a 13 handle. Before June of this year, you’d have to travel back in time to before the pandemic to see a reading this low. A low baseline fear level means more room for greed, which tends to result in higher stock prices as they climb the proverbial wall of worry. But this isn’t only a theory or an old wives’ tale traders tell one another — history bears this out. Going back to the inception of VIX calculations in 1990, sub-14 readings have coincided with long-term bull markets.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 81 Extreme Greed (previous close: 82 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 1:32 PM ET.
Groves of Academe
“ChatGPT goes to Harvard” [Maya Bodnick, Slow Boring (Dave)]. “A. A. A. A-. B. B-. C. Pass. That’s a solid report card for a freshman in college, a respectable 3.34 GPA. I just finished my freshman year at Harvard, but those grades aren’t mine — they’re ChatGPT-4’s. Take-home writing assignments are the foundation of a social science and humanities education at liberal arts colleges around the U.S. Professors use these assignments to assess students’ knowledge of the course material and their creative and analytical thinking. But the rise of advanced large-language models like ChatGPT-4 threatens the future of the take-home essay as an assessment tool.” • What nobody’s saying is that the vast majority of student work is not original — and how could it be? They’re students! Lack of originality = AI reproducibility. So, do we want more originality from our university, or less? Hand-written, proctored essays. The only way forward, and I do mean “forward.”
“Blame capitalism? Why hundreds of decades-old yet vital drugs are nearly impossible to find” [The Conversation]. “Patients and their providers increasingly face limited or nonexistent supplies of drugs, many of which treat essential conditions such as cancer, heart disease and bacterial infections. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists now lists over 300 active shortages, primarily of decades-old generic drugs no longer protected by patents. While this is not a new problem, the number of drugs in short supply has increased in recent years, and the average shortage is lasting longer, with more than 15 critical drug products in short supply for over a decade. Current shortages include widely known drugs such as the antibiotic amoxicillin; the heart medicine digoxin; the anesthetic lidocaine; and the medicine albuterol, which is critical for treating asthma and other diseases affecting the lungs and airways. What’s going on?” Rule #2. More: “I’m a health economist who has studied the pharmaceutical industry for the past 15 years. I believe the drug shortage problem illustrates a major shortcoming of capitalism. While costly brand-name drugs often yield high profits to manufacturers, there’s relatively little money to be made in supplying the market with low-cost generics, no matter how vital they may be to patients’ health.”
News of the Wired
“Uncensored Library: Banned Journalism Housed in Virtual Minecraft Architecture” [99% Invisible]. “when governments censor the media, groups like Reporters Without Borders spearhead efforts to make such censored material extra visible. Their Uncensored Library project brings together architecture and journalism in an unlikely virtual reality space: the interactive gaming world of Minecraft…. On the surface, Minecraft is a game of collaborative construction and its low-res look may not appear conducive to elements like: reading articles or even entire books in-game. But there are ‘items’ within the game that effectively work like books with a theoretically infinite number of pages. Creators can transcribe text into these ‘books,’ rendering them legible and downloadable. The books are then put in ‘chests’ and organized in the virtual space for accessibility. The idea, in part, is to work around normally filtered channels. The non-profit Reporters Without Borders has experience on this front with projects like the audio-centric Uncensored Playlist, which evaded censors by operating through music streaming services. In the Uncensored Library, the spatial design makes finding material easier, and allows for other forms of creation and interaction as well, such as a memorial to murdered journalists housed within the library’s walls.” A Palace of Memory (lieux de mémoire):
I wonder what their indexing system is like. Card catalog?
“become ungoogleable” [joeyh]. “Nobody really expects to be able to find anything of value in a Google search now, so if they’re looking for me or something I’ve made and don’t find it, they’ll use some other approach.” • Hmm.
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 FreeMarketApologist:
FreeMarketApologist writes: “Attached, a proposed plantidote from friends in Xalapa, Mexico (they have all the beautiful stuff): A very vibrant bleeding heart vine (clerodendrum thomsoniae).”
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!