2:00PM Water Cooler 7/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I hope readers had a splendid holiday weekend. –lambert UPDATE This is a bit light, but I had household matters to take care of, and also had to understand the “State Of Missouri, Et Al. Versus Joseph R Biden Jr., Et Al.

Bird Song of the Day

Silvery-throated Jay, Copey de Dota–Providencia Road, San José, Costa Rica.

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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* * *

“LGBTQ conservatives say they feel misled by DeSantis” [The Hill]. “The video bashed former President Donald Trump’s (R) support for the LGBTQ community and leaned into conservative state policies passed under DeSantis this year that were criticized as anti-LGBTQ…. LGBTQ conservatives, reacting to the video, said DeSantis had shown his true colors as an ‘anti-LGBT champion,’ undermining his arguments that his support for the policies were about protecting children and parents’ rights…. ‘It’s like he’s going mask off,’ said Brad Polumbo, a Michigan-based libertarian journalist. ‘The cat’s out of the bag.’ Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who has endorsed Trump for president but vocally supported Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on the campaign trail last year, said that in light of Friday’s video, he now feels that he was “used” and misled by DeSantis. ‘I used to think he was a great governor,’ Santos, the first non-incumbent gay Republican elected to Congress, said of DeSantis. ‘Now, I’m starting to think differently.’ The video shared Friday — the last day of LGBTQ Pride Month — by the ‘DeSantis War Room’ Twitter account features footage of Trump at the Republican National Convention in 2016 saying he would ‘do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.’ Trump’s remarks were made in response to a mass shooting that had occurred just weeks earlier at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.” • One of the several ironies in this post is that the Pulse shooting was not homophobic, thought that was the instant initial narrative, which apparently stuck.

* * *

“The US Middle Class’s Economic Anxiety Will Decide the 2024 Election” [Bloomberg]. Note that yesterday’s Stats presented the Economic Optimism Index, where “51% of the respondents think the economy is in a recession.” That’s a lot. More: “The core premise of Bidenomics is that the middle shall come first. ‘Bidenomics is about building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down,’ Biden said in a Chicago speech last week, laying out his vision of a boom fueled by a surge in government investment. Yet as he gears up his 2024 reelection campaign for a vote that’s now less than 18 months away, the president has a middle-class problem. Among the 100 million Americans with annual incomes between $45,000 and $180,000 and wealth between $100,000 and $1 million, polling commissioned by Bloomberg News shows persistent angst about the future. The post-pandemic surge in inflation and the Federal Reserve’s reaction — the fastest increase in interest rates since the 1980s — have combined to put the middle class in a financial vice grip. They pay more for everything — food, homes, cars, energy — while the end of the easy-money era means loans, too, are more costly. The bottom line: More than $2 trillion in wealth held by the middle class has been eliminated since the Fed started hiking, according to data compiled by economists at the University of California, Berkeley.” • A proposition: If your wealth depends on the Fed, it isn’t wealth. Even colorably true? Or not even wrong?

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!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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 Democratic Party promised to overhaul its primaries. Doing that has been anything but simple.” [Associated Press]. “The new order had them being followed by Georgia’s primary on Feb. 13 and Michigan’s two weeks after that. Those states would precede most of the rest of the country, which would vote on Super Tuesday in early March — giving them enormous influence on deciding which primary candidates can make it that far. But New Hampshire responded by pointing to its state law mandating that it hold the nation’s first presidential primary — which Iowa only circumvented for five decades because it held a caucus — and threatening to jump ahead. Georgia, meanwhile, likely won’t take its place in the new top 5 because the state’s Republicans rejected calls to move their party’s primary to comply with Democrats’ new date. While South Carolina Democrats are set to go first, the state’s Republicans delayed their party’s primary until three weeks later, on Feb. 24. In Nevada, Republicans have sued to maintain their party-run presidential caucus, even as the state shifts to a primary system. Michigan has also approved its new date, but its Legislature may adjourn early to make that work. And Iowa has proposed holding a caucus before anyone else, yet may not release the results of its presidential contest until later in deference to new party rules. This year’s shakeup followed the 2020 Iowa caucus meltdown. Iowa responded by proposing new rules allowing Democrats to submit their presidential choices by mail, breaking with past caucus rules requiring in-person participation.” • Poor Iowa. They screwed Sanders and got nothing. Nobody likes a JudasMR “Holding a Grudge” SUBLIMINAL Talkin’ ’bout you, Liz Warren

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Judge limits Biden administration contact with social media firms” [Politico]. “A federal judge in Louisiana ruled Tuesday that the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment by censoring unfavorable views on social media over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, calling the efforts ‘Orwellian.'” He’s right. More: “U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty also issued a sweeping preliminary injunction barring numerous federal officials and agencies — including Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and all employees of the Justice Department and FBI — from having any contact with social media firms for the purpose of discouraging or removing First Amendment-protected speech.The ruling and order from Doughty, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, are the latest developments in a long-running lawsuit spearheaded by Republican-led states alleging that the administration pressured social media companies to remove posts containing purported misinformation about the coronavirus, election security and other issues.” • Some thoughts: First, I doubt very much that this case would have been possible without the good efforts of Taibbi, et al., on the Twitter Files (released to them by Elon Musk, and good for him). Second, the plaintiffs include those eugenicist scum from some of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff, and doing anything to help them makes my skin crawl. Third, the First Amendment is more important (“Defend to the death,” etc., which Doughty uses as the epigraph for his opinion) then whether my skin crawls. After all, those evil clowns in the Censorship Industrial Complex would come for NC sooner or later (and indeed, with PropOrNot, they already tried). Fourth, “Trump-appointed judge,” constantly repeated in tones of aghastitude, is giving me a reason to vote for the dude.

“State Of Missouri, Et Al. Versus Joseph R Biden Jr., Et Al.” (Case No. 3:22-Cv-01213) (PDF) [Judge Terry A. Doughty, United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division]. Some choice bits:

Poor Lina Khan. She might have believed that the Biden Administration was actually serious about anti-trust, instead of just wanting a club to control their assets in Silicon Valley (and I’m too lazy to run a search, but I’ve muttered about this periodically). I mean, Psaki comes about as close to openly stating a quid pro quo as one can. And then, of course, there’s “how much content is being demoted?” I’m picturing a heavy-jowled Colonel in full-dress uniform, wearing sunglasses indoors, holding up the opposition newspaper in one hand, and clipping away the bits he doesn’t like with the scissors he holds in the other, so he can send the mutilated page back to the editor for revision. (Of course, this is completely unfair; the censor is probably a coke-addled yuppie who watched far too much West Wing when he was thirteen.)

Another choice bit:

Biden is, himself, a purveyor of [m|d]isinformation: The vaccines are not sterilizing, and hence do not prevent transmission, and hence the pandemic is not restricted only to the unvaccinated, no matter how much the “vaxed and relaxed crowd” might wish to believe it. It is true that one of the features of the pandemic was been wildly inaccurate and yet somehow broadly disseminated talking points; here is an excellent list: “Ten people who got it wrong.” But I would urge that the most damaging [m|d]isinformation of all has come from official sources: Masks don’t work, aerosol tranmission is false, “you are protected” (of vax), and any talking points, and there were many, that supported the Biden administration’s policy of mass infection without mitigation.

* * *

“Run DSA Candidates for School Boards!” [Socialist Forum]. “Outside of the state legislation being passed, a focus on school boards and other hyperlocal elections is one of the main ways the right is building strength. Through a combination of resentments about race, gender, Covid policies and vile conspiracies about teachers, the right is organizing to not only make the lives of trans youths miserable, but to gut our public school systems altogether.” • Speaking of “vile,” one issue is that the schools are ill-ventilated death traps for children, teachers, and administrators alike (except in #DavosSafe wealthy communities, naturally). And continuing to speak of “vile,” this is DSA’s current pandemic policy on ventilation for its convention, now a little under a month away: “The Convention will follow a robust protocol in line with other in-person DSA events (e.g. NPC meetings, committee conferences). This policy will be put together by the Convention Committee and voted on by the NPC. Once it is finalized, it will be linked here.” Why would there even be an issue that universal masking is required, and ventilation must be safe, and ideally CO2 metered?


“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).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

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!

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“Facial Viewing Deprivation Syndrome”:

Hard to believe there aren’t any journal articles on FVDS. Maybe we just have to wait.

Covid is Airborne

A good question, and a good answer:


“Trends in Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Reinfections and Associated Hospitalizations and Deaths Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years — 18 U.S. Jurisdictions, September 2021–December 2022” [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC]. From the Abstract: “During September 2021–December 2022, the percentages of reinfections among all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported by 18 U.S. jurisdictions increased substantially as new Omicron lineages became predominant. Increases were more pronounced among adults aged 18–49 years compared with those among older persons.” And of course: “CDC recommends staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and receiving early antiviral treatment, if eligible.” Heaven forfend that non-pharmaceutical interventions

“Something Awful”

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.

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* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, June 29:

Lambert here: Slight uptrend, confirmed by airport wastewater (and local wastewater samples in California). Absent a new variant to race though the dry tinder, I don’t see an oncoming debacle even with July 4 travel. But plenty of people will still get sick (again).=


NOT UPDATED 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, June 24:

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 26:

-1.5%. Still chugging along, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 12:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, June 28:

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: 1,168,113 – 1,168,100 = 13 (13 * 365 = 4,745 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

Excess deaths (The Economist), July 5:

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. )

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured goods in the US increased by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month in May 2023, the same pace as in the previous period but falling short of market expectations for a 0.8 percent advance. Notably, demand for transportation remained the primary driver of growth.”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index fell for a fifth straight month to hit a fresh record low of 45.6 in June of 2023, pointing to another contraction in the logistics sector, mainly dragged down by inventories.”

* * *

Finance: “WSJ: Goldman Is Looking For a Way out of Its Partnership with Apple” [Daring Fireball]. “It’s unclear how much of Goldman’s losses in their consumer banking foray are attributable to the Apple Card specifically, but Sridhar Natarajan reported for Bloomberg* back in January that it’s the source of most of their losses…. How you lose money issuing credit cards that charge usurious interest rates is beyond me. Not quite in the territory of Donald Trump somehow losing money while running casinos, but it’s up there. Are they issuing Apple Cards to deadbeats? (Apparently, yes: they’ve been issuing a lot of cards to people with bad credit.)”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 3 at 8:59 PM ET.

The 420

“As psychedelics near approval, there’s no consensus on how they work” [STAT]. “The founder of Field Trip, a chain of shuttered ketamine clinics currently facing insolvency, put forward an unexpected theory of how psychedelics work to treat depression last month. ‘The truth is, almost all of the effect of psychedelic-assisted therapy could be placebo,’ said Ronan Levy, speaking at [the] five-day [Psychedelic Science 2023] conference on the emerging field of psychedelic medicine. ‘Personally I don’t have a problem with that. The outcomes are the outcomes, and that’s really what matters in my view.’… The confusion and combination of evidence presented at the conference reflects a field still in the early stages of trying to disentangle a potential medical treatment. Many types of psychedelics — both traditional drugs, such as MDMA and psilocybin (the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms), and newer, modified versions — are under investigation as treatment for a range of mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Though there are plans to submit trials on MDMA for PTSD to the Food and Drug Administration for approval later this year, none of the medications has yet been definitively proven to work. And the question of how they work is very much up for debate.”

The Gallery

I can’t bring the source to mind, but this Van Gogh reminds me of one style of illustration for children’s books, at least when I was growing up:

Class Warfare

“Can AI do the work of research analysts?” [American Bankers]. “‘Looking for information, analyzing data, interpreting data, looking for trends — all those things are completely possible with generative AI,’ said Darrell West, senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation. ‘That will free human analysts to focus on more creative aspects.'” • No, it won’t. Analysis will go to the lowest common denominator — autocoprophagic bullshit — except for extremely expensive boutique firms. The same will happen in healthcare, and everywhere AI is deployed.

News of the Wired

Mastodon doesn’t have embed, that I can find, so herewith a screenshot:

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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 upstater:

upstater writes: “From a cycling trip to Loire; my daughter lives in France and Loire is nicer than Paris.” Holy moley, the symmetry! My personal preferences, as readers know, tend toward the more informal “grandmother’s garden,” but there’s no denying this is an impressive approach! I wonder how it appears from within, as opposed to from above, and how the formality manifests itself “on the ground.” Have any readers experienced this style of garden?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dk

    In Mastodon, go to the post by clicking on text, use the three-dot menu at the lower right to select Embed and get an iframe element.

    <iframe src=”https://mstdn.social/@stux/110655560001689661/embed” class=”mastodon-embed” style=”max-width: 100%; border: 0″ width=”400″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

      1. tevhatch

        The Swedish Illustrator Edward Bauer had a similar look too.
        https://www.youtube.com/@petebeard/about Pete Beard is a UK based instructor of illustrations who set up this channel on his retirement to give exposure to illustrators who have slipped from public memory. He might be the man who can best answer the hosts query if he can reach him.

  2. Roger Blakely

    The version of the XBB variant that I picked up a month ago has come with a vicious rash on my face, neck, and chest.

    I went looking around. I found that Zoe and the British Association of Dermatologists came up with a photo gallery of COVID rashes.


    Yes, my rash looks like that.

    One note says that it lasts a long time. I take that to mean one or two months.

    If you test positive, you can go back to work after five days if you have no symptoms. The implication is that COVID-19 lasts one or two weeks. However, my rash is lasting four to eight weeks.

    The virus is knocking around in my body. When the boss asks about my problem, I say that I have COVID-19. He says that I don’t have COVID-19 because I did not test positive. I say that my body is riddled with SARS-CoV-2. However, the virus is not up my nose. The rash is a visible sign that COVID-19 lasts for months. You can look right at me and see that SARS-CoV-2 is causing me problems.

    1. Val

      As I must assume you are not pregnant, vast data suggests a course of ivermectin would likely be safe, effective and well tolerated. You should know within a day or two if you will ever trust a western physician again.

        1. Jason Boxman

          The FLCCC still includes it in their early treatment protocol as the first item on the list, but I don’t know if they’re considered a legitimate source or not these days. I haven’t kept up with the whole IVM news stream. I wish it were a slam dunk, but the data has always been mixed. So far avoiding infection is the best option.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I say that my body is riddled with SARS-CoV-2. However, the virus is not up my nose.

      Hmm. I’m not the one with the rash, so I can say “interesting.” I wonder what the test for “whole body” Covid is, or indeed if there is one.

    3. Roger Blakely

      The rash is not caused by the virus attacking skin tissue. The rash is the immune system getting dysfunctional from being over-stimulated from trying to round up the SARS-CoV-2.

      SARS-CoV-2 is a trickster. XBB is immune evasive. Also we have seen studies where SARS-CoV-2 lingers in tissues for months.

      There is also the problem of getting constantly exposed. It is still safe to assume that SARS-CoV-2 is present in all indoor public spaces like grocery stores and office buildings. Even if wastewater concentrations are only 10% of the winter peak, SARS-CoV-2 is still present.

      I am sure that this week’s record 4th of July travel volume will help spread XBB.

    4. Clark T

      Wow. A co-worker was out sick with Covid a few weeks ago; I heard he came back after the CDC-approved “5 Days & Golden” period but I avoided that part of the building. I saw him today (about a week later), and asked how he was feeling, etc. He reported that he was OK; this was a second infection (news to me) and not like his “first time” when he came down with “the hives” after being “sick,” and the rash took weeks to resolve. He volunteered that this kind of thing — sequelae, not his word — was possible, so he recognized he was not “over it” yet.

    5. Roger Blakely

      Thank you, Clark T. That is what I am talking about. Your antidote about your coworker highlights several misconceptions about SARS-CoV-2. We used to think that you couldn’t get COVID-19 twice. We used to think that SARS-CoV-2 would be gone within two weeks.

  3. Mikel

    “If your wealth depends on the Fed, it isn’t wealth. Even colorably true? Or not even wrong?”

    And maybe:

    If your productivity depends on the Fed, it isn’t productivity.

  4. Objective Ace

    A proposition: If your wealth depends on the Fed, it isn’t wealth. Even colorably true? Or not even wrong?

    What does that leave us with? Houses, bonds, stocks, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, land, etc. all are based to one degree or another on the fed and interest rates/quantitative easing. Even if your wealth is overseas in assets not denominated in dollars, your still left to the mercy of the Fed due to the exchange rate.. if you want to spend the wealth here at least

    The best one can do is to diversify enough that different factors intrinsic to each investment offset whatever the Fed may do. (or have so much that it doesnt matter)

    1. skippy

      Then some bang on about stores of wealth, albeit not much debate about value/s … then again the Fed is still captured by quasi monetarists trying to administrate from an ideological preference and not a functional one … FIRE sector thingy skews everything …

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Just to clarify: according to the claim in the article (attributed to Zucman), it is inflation that has destroyed the $2 trillion in (inflation-adjusted) wealth, not higher interest rates per se.

      1. Objective Ace

        Inflation adjusted wealth is still largely attributable to Fed action. Even if inflation (which is also largely a function of the Fed) is also playing a factor

  5. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Updated! And one less chugging-along:

    29 Canadian Pacific train cars derail in Dodge County

    DODGE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) — A cleanup effort is underway following the derailment of a Canadian Pacific train in the Town of Lowell Tuesday, July 4.

    Officials say about 29 cars carrying grain and potash derailed just before 2 p.m.


    [Broadcast news version, as follows]

    Authorities provide more details on Reeseville train derailment


    1. vao

      If I am not mistaken, by default the buyer of merchandise assumes the risk of damage during transport to the place of delivery.

      I would think that firms getting their wares tranported by train would start purchasing specific insurance to deal with those frequent derailments. Or have insurance companies jacked up their rates for railway freight to prohibitive levels (because the probability of accidents is so high) — in a similar way that insurance companies are jacking up their rates for real estate in fire-prone locations?

      I cannot help thinking that after exceeding some degree of unreliability, railways as a transport mode will become increasingly uneconomical. And that is without talking about delays or the lack of guaranteed time for delivery.

  6. skippy

    Ex girlfriend from Palos Verde sister had a nice late 60s VW bug with lots of media clippings on a side back window, best was – come in and feel free to browse – VW people are a wee bit different in my observations.

  7. Late Introvert

    re: Poor Iowa

    Oh, they’ve had it coming for a long time. No sympathy here at all.

    1. LawnDart

      Iowa has become red-state hell; corporate-owned, controlled, and drained of vitality: it’s become a land of mega pig-farms clustered throughout a sea of GM corn and soybeans– one, big, company-town.

      It’s humid and smells bad too.

      I miss the small-town Iowa of my youth, the family farms, and the overall chill, unhurried vibe.

      1. Redlife2017

        But having grown up there I can say that most of the people in the countryside welcomed it from the 80s onwards. They wanted all of this. Get the government out of everything! There were local people (including a parent of mine) in the 90s working on keeping the waterways clean in the county we lived in and let me tell you – the hostility or just total indifference of most people was impressive.

        Some of the real hunters (like they go out for days – I knew a guy who used bows & arrows to give the animals a fighting chance or guys who understood how all of that connected because at least they were truly connected to the land) were actually very understanding about trying to not despoil the land & water, but most farmers…seriously they wallowed in their ignorance. They were happy to sell out. A very “oh well” vibe with some added very oddly placed anger at the government. I guess at least the people selling the snake oil were “good Christians”. I mean Clinton was bad and all, but um, that doesn’t mean by doing the exact opposite you’ll have a good result…

        Another parent tried to get the town we lived in to not allow hog confineries inside the town limits. That parent got denounced as an “agent of the devil” by a local preacher. This was the mid-90s. So the bad smell and bad water have been a long-time coming.

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    > State Of Missouri, Et Al. Versus Joseph R Biden Jr., Et Al.”

    Taibbi now on the case: Take That, Internet Censors:

    These mainstream news observers are trapped in a bubble of their own making and can’t or won’t see that the average American looks at letters from the White House to shut down social media accounts, or piles of “suggestions” on content from the FBI, and feels instinctively that he or she really doesn’t like that, whatever it is. One can hope at least a few censorship advocates will read the ruling and grasp that in a democracy, you can’t have a situation where only half (or less) of the population thinks something as basic as the speech landscape is fairly arranged. That just won’t hold, making rulings like this foreseeable, if not inevitable. No matter what, this can’t be anything but good news for the First Amendment.

    Also Greenwald:

    1. Carolinian

      Another Taibbi.


      Clearly there is much more to come about this but I wonder whether the main point is not what the government does but rather what social media do and have the power to do. Some of us have always viewed Facebook and the like as a giant information shaping operation anyway even if the motives are more about making money than playing politics. Meanwhile there’s a whole other internet to play in for those who choose not to be sheeple.

      Media people like Taibbi and Kirn spend a lot of time on Twitter and consider it a bigger deal than some of the rest of us. I’ve always argued here that television has far more influence on voters than the internet which, for one thing, requires actual reading even if only so much as a tweet.

      But for those who choose to seek out some truth there are certainly better options than Facebook or Twitter. We are reading one of them.

      1. Acacia

        How large is the television audience now, really? Do we have numbers on how many people are actually watching television news vs. number of people getting their news from the Internet? Is it different for election news vs. ‘regular’ news? No doubt, this depends on age cohorts, as well. At several points over the past ten years, I have informally polled my students (university level), asking how many get their news from TV vs. Internet, and it’s always been a very small minority who actually watch TV for that, like 5%. Of course, this is only one tiny sample, but it suggests something to me. More recently, just after Tucker defected to Twitter, I saw some numbers floated to indicate he was getting a whole lot more visibility on Twitter than he’d been getting on Fox, though of course this got into all the questions about followers, impressions, vs. viewers, etc.

        My own sense is that TV is just too slow to communicate information — reading is so much faster —, as the news stories are sort of looped over and over, the same sound bites delivered in drips and drabs, interlarded with advertising or commentators just blathering on as the video clips loop over and over. I’m not into multitasking with a TV always droning on in the background, which strikes me as the most depressive sonic wallpaper imaginable. And why waste even a minute of your life admitting the babble of a certified idiot like Mika Brzezinski into your living room or kitchen, when you could be listening to Coltrane? Maybe that’s just me, though. Anyway, I’m not arguing that it’s one or the other — Internet or TV — in terms of broad influence, but more just wondering if there’s a link to some serious data on this.

        1. skippy

          Early on at NC there was much discussion about the effects of full immersion 24/7/365 media/marketing/advertising would have on successive generations post the 50s – physically and cognitively.

          What is it again, you only need to nudge about 20% of the population and then the rest eventually fall into line or close too it thingy.

    2. upstater

      Greenwald should not forget NYT knew of the domestic spying before the 2004 election, but sat on it until December 2004 (IIRC). It all seems quaint in 2023, just like the Church hearings in 1975.

    3. JBird4049

      Everything I read of history shows that unhindered spying and censorship by the powers that particularly the government and corporations are preludes to dictatorship and oligarchy; they are normally followed by violent repression, mass imprisonment, even mass murder, goon squads in the night and the fog, using the excuse of public safety, or order, or communism, or some other similar excuses.

      The 20th century is filled with it from the putative left and right.

      Have any of these fools read a book other than Jack and Jill? Seriously, the folly shown screams a lack of knowledge buttressed by a hatred of reading. Maybe it is a mental illness?

      1. Acacia

        “preludes to dictatorship and oligarchy”… ? Well, wouldn’t you agree that the oligarchy part is already more or less in place?

        I wonder if the innovation — if we could call it that —, at the current conjuncture is perhaps that old skool dictatorship and methods of subjugation have been largely supplanted by the manufacture of consent, via the censorship industrial complex, narrative/perception management, or “societies of control” à la Burroughs, Deleuze, etc. (feel free to insert further specialized apparatuses here !), such that much of the former violence of mass imprisonment, goon squads, death squads, etc., has been effectively internalized. Why physically imprison people when you can lock up their minds or selectively kill their thought concerning the official double-plus-ungood ideas du jour (e.g., Putin might be a very reasonable and rational guy, Azov are actually Nazis, etc.)?

        1. digi_owl

          I swear that the one thing that kept the west in check after WW2 was that it needed to be seen as better than their communist opposition.

          After the wall came down, they no longer see the need and is happy to adopt the methods etc of STASI and KGB.

          Another thing is that back then continued 24/7 surveillance and policing required a impractical large force of “men”. These days each of us carry one or more devices that automate much of it. Supposedly France is readying legislation that will allow their police to turn anything with a microphone and a net connection into a listening device.

          If anything, the enforcement of copyright is a litmus test for these things. Back in the day, hope copying of cassette tapes were, while nominally illegal, largely ignored as it was practically impossible to police without having an officer in every home. These days however, it can be enforced and snitched on by the copying device itself as they are all connected to the net.

  9. aj

    ‘Bidenomics is […] a vision of a boom fueled by a surge in government investment.. [Yet] The post-pandemic surge in inflation and the Federal Reserve’s reaction — the fastest increase in interest rates since the 1980s — have combined to put the middle class in a financial vice grip. They pay more for everything — food, homes, cars, energy — while the end of the easy-money era means loans, too, are more costly.

    This whole paragraph (shortened by me) just speaks to how clueless the mainstream (monetarist, neo-liberal) economics profession is. Their solution to rising inflation (that they falsely attribute to monetary policy instead of wars, embargoes, and a pandemic) is to tighten monetary policy which they think will lower aggregate demand (it hasn’t) by increasing unemployment (also hasn’t happened). Now grampa Joe is going to come along and “invest” in something. I’m guessing this won’t be anything link the WPA, but more a hand-out to states and companies to hopefully do “something” probably with word “green” nominally attached. Then the Fed is going to complain that grampa Joe is undermining their “throw the working people under the bus” strategy of fighting inflation by printing up money and giving them jobs. They will no doubt have to continue to raise rates and eventually wonder why we have another recession in 4 or 5 years. Sounds like it will be a fun time.

    1. ambrit

      The best way to test the results of being logged out is to wait for the spring rains and measure the amount of erosion. This year’s fires up in Canada should be a case study.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      AHEM, he’s back!

      [sounds of people scurrying around hiding the keg and Twister floor mat]

  10. Bugs

    “Run DSA Candidates for School Boards!”

    Focusing on “race, gender and Covid” is the dumbest way to gloss over class issues and not get elected to anything that I’ve ever heard from supposed socialists. But hey, you do you.

          1. NoFreeWill

            Their membership is pretty much white middle class intellectuals. Working class people don’t have time to go to a committee debate/vote for a party that is unlikely to get elected in most districts. Electoralism has never worked on the left and socdems have always been snakes (for the best example, look up them helping vote Hitler into power in Germany) for various reasons.

    1. ThirtyOne

      From the 2023 DSA Convention FAQ
      What is the COVID policy?

      The Convention will follow a robust protocol in line with other in-person DSA events (e.g. NPC meetings, committee conferences). This policy will be put together by the Convention Committee and voted on by the NPC. Once it is finalized, it will be linked here.

      synonyms for robust
      i’m going with zippy (the pinhead)

    2. Darthbobber

      They won’t run then in Philly, because we fill our school board by mayoral appointment. Presumably because pesky voters can’t be trusted.

      As a “strategy” for DSA it isn’t one. The author is still caught up in the idea that it pays to focus entirely on opposing the “right wing”. But centrists and “liberals” are willing to do that, as a substitute for lack of a positive program. Clearly DSA hasn’t overcome the limitations of the class composition of the bulk of it’s core membership.

  11. marym

    > “Judge limits Biden administration contact with social media firms” [Politico]

    Thread with a critique of the preliminary injunction:
    “In the injunction against Biden administration officials “jawboning” social media companies, the judge makes a classic legal and logical error. He thinks he can protect “free expression” while leaving the govt free to restrict content he personally considers bad or dangerous…The injunction has a long list of things the government officials can and can’t do. They CAN’T encourage platforms to suppress “protected free speech.” But they CAN urge them to suppress content in 7 listed categories — which include a bunch of 1st Am protected speech.

    Comment on the preliminary injunction with reference to the issues of the case
    “Some of the facts Judge Doughty describes in this opinion raise serious constitutional questions, but his order would insulate social media cos from criticism, not just coercion. He should narrow the order, or the appeals court should do it for him.”

    Critique of the injunction (somewhat “Our Democracy” and snarky in tone, imo, but highlights some points in the injunction)

  12. Bugs

    “WSJ: Goldman Is Looking For a Way out of Its Partnership with Apple”

    I’m willing to bet that Goldman is not losing a cent on this but rather the deal is not paying the margin the responsible MD set out in the original deck and it’s gone through a review and was shot down. Probably brutally. Anything under 30% is going to get you fired these days.

  13. LawnDart

    Re; Class Warfare (or maybe, “Nature Fights Back”?)

    First we had whales attacking and flipping-over sailboats– out of spite, or perhaps just for fun, who knows? Now Jaws and his brethren are getting in on the act:

    Sharks Show Up in Hamptons as Summer-Holiday Crowds Hit Beaches

    (Bloomberg) — Sharks are suspected to have bitten five people swimming off Long Island over the extended Fourth of July weekend as tourists and locals celebrated the holiday beachside.

    The encounters, none of which were fatal, occurred Monday and Tuesday in waters including those off Robert Moses, Quogue, and Fire Island beaches.


    Bon appétit.

    1. digi_owl

      With all that blubber, i’m sure the sharks thought they were being served walrus…

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Facial Viewing Deprivation Syndrome”

    I’m going with the idea that the psychological reason behind it is that the person is irritated that the Pandemic is not over and that the virus is still hanging around and that the person with the mask is a constant reminder of it.

    1. Acacia

      …and thus a reminder to the person irritated that they are too lazy to take any precautions.

  15. Jason Boxman

    The latest stupid from public health: Federal Officials Hatch a Three-Pronged Defense Against Another ‘Tripledemic’

    So they’ve “hatched” a plan.

    How much Pfizer and GSK will charge for the new R.S.V. vaccines is still unclear. Pfizer said the price of its vaccine was still being negotiated, but might fall between $180 and $270.
    GSK doubled its initial price of $148 two weeks before the C.D.C. advisers were scheduled to meet, giving the agency staff little time to redo its cost-effectiveness analysis, according to one C.D.C. scientist with knowledge of the matter. GSK now has settled on a range of $200 to $295.

    Of course.

    Safe and effective:

    Although flu and other vaccines carry a small risk of the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome, those numbers generally are on the order of one or two cases per million. Evaluating the new R.S.V. vaccines, the manufacturers each reported three neurological cases, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, within 42 days of vaccination in a population of about 40,000 people.

    But this hits against reality:

    Sometimes, vaccines work against one another when administered simultaneously. According to data presented to the C.D.C.’s advisers, the R.S.V. and flu vaccines produced lower levels of antibodies when given at the same time than when either was given alone.

    No mention of anything except shots. And definitely no mention that masking eliminated flu and RSV in 2020.

  16. Jason Boxman

    On the CDC’s travelers surveillance, this is actually valuable, because it sort of confirms our data from Walgreens. Because of this:

    Pooled samples: A sample pool combines nasal swabs from several travelers arriving on the same flight or from the same departure country. A pool can contain 5-25 swabs (11, on average). Positivity rates are calculated based on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the entire pool, not per individual. This differs from how percent positivity is calculated for individual COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) results, which is shown elsewhere on COVID Data Tracker (United States COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Deaths, Emergency Visits, and Test Positivity by Geographic Area). Therefore, while comparisons in trends are appropriate, direct comparisons in overall values are not.

    (bold mine)

    It isn’t based on whether someone decides for whatever reason — like being sick — to get tested at Walgreens. On the other hand, it isn’t counted the same way, which I just realized and bolded. So it is not apples to apples sadly. But it does show there is double digit positivity from samples of travels, even if it doesn’t map to that percentage of tested people being positive. Still disturbing. It means this is very much not over and spreading easily and often.

    1. JustTheFacts

      It’s a shame that each pool does not contain a fixed number of people n.

      If n were fixed, it would be trivial to compute (1-p)^n = the probability that n people do not have COVID, from which we could compute p, the probability people have Covid.

  17. Old Sarum

    Feature: Very good!

    It reminds me of a very recent experience in a new car traveling on the orbital autostrada which skirts Rome. The GPS was not happy with the traffic conditions to say the least, and every few seconds it blurted out extensive delay information between such-and-such locations. The usual delay mentioned was only three minutes. Conversation between driver and navigator became almost impossible due to the frequent GPS interjections. Despite diving into the settings menus the tech-savvy navigator was unable to disable the audio madness apart from halting vocal instructions completely. The only redeeming aspect was the comical way in which the GPS frequently exclaimed “Traffic jam!” whilst we were moving along at a fair clip.


    ps GPS route choices could be also equally nuts to such an extent that we actually stopped the car to photograph the narrowness and pot-holed road conditions the GPS had chosen. Grarbage in Grarbage out.

      1. LawnDart

        Case-in-point of why I prefer transcripts over video/podcasts– the latter being a haven for fast-talking BSers: inside of 2-minutes, I had at at least a half-dozen “wait… what?” moments without a chance to reflect or process before he leapt to the next statement.

        I give them a catchy title for the speil, but after a few minutes I couldn’t be bothered to give it any more of my time– it just seemed like verbal diarrhea to me.

        [Edit: not pure liquid diarrhea, but explosive and chunky.]

        1. Steve H.

          > without a chance to reflect or process

          That seems to be where the scale/frame shifts occur in the rhetorical ladder. A simple version is when a local fact is shifted to a universal.

          Text is so much better for comprehension that I’m wondering if all spoken should be considered persuasive speech. Emphasis carries attitude and implicits can be contagious (“you killed and ate them both?”).

          1. hunkerdown

            > Text is so much better for comprehension that I’m wondering if all spoken should be considered persuasive speech

            I presume as much. Cynically speaking, one tends not to wiggle their lips, teeth, and brain speech centers around for absolutely no reason at all.

        2. skippy

          I’m always checking for narrative crafting, via the suspension of disbelief, through bingo like rhetorical terms/devices = your card is now full = now you are prepared to accept the whole narrative maypole and any – bolt-ons – now and into the future …

          Sorta like watching people be cold read …

            1. skippy

              Cold reading is a set of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, and mediums.[1] Without prior knowledge, a practiced cold-reader can quickly obtain a great deal of information by analyzing the person’s body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. during a line of questioning. Cold readings commonly employ high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, then emphasizing and reinforcing chance connections and quickly moving on from missed guesses. Psychologists believe that this appears to work because of the Forer effect and due to confirmation biases within people.[2] – wiki

              Those that are quite adept can convince reasonably informed people of just about anything. Sorta like how a top interrogator can get subjects to abandon previous beliefs/views and spill the beans without any sort of violence.

            2. Steve H.

              Cold reading can loosely be described as ‘how to talk to a complete stranger as if you have known them all your life’.

              Ricky Jay was such a good cold reader he began to think he really could read minds. So I’ve heard.

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