By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Eastern Meadowlark (Eastern)
Sturnella magna [magna Group], Field south of Cattail Pond, Larimer, Colorado, United States, “Song, including counter-singing by two birds. Good rattle call and brief flight song at 4:43.” ~14 minutes of Meadowlark goodness; very summery. Readers really seem to be taking to the meadowlarks. That makes me happy!
Look for the Helpers
Terrific long form Tweet by Leonardi, concluding:
SARS-CoV-2 represents an unprecedented challenge and I believe we will only rise to meet it by working together. This means putting aside personalities and not getting swept along with the crowd because it is the easy thing to do. It means standing up for what is right and encouraging people to protect themselves, and most importantly their children.
My pinned tweet is a letter a sent to a school board because I think one of our fundamental responsibilities as human beings is to safeguard those who cannot look after themselves. Children depend on adults to protect them, and right now the adults are gambling that repeat infections by SARS-CoV-2 will not violate that trust. The stakes could not be higher: we risk failing in our profound duty to make the world a safe place for the next generation. History will judge.
Don’t follow the crowd. Even if it’s difficult and there is a cost to be paid, do what is right.
The first part of the tweet shows The Semmelweis Reflex™ in action, something we’ve seen rather a lot of recently. Well worth a read.
I don’t want Water Cooler to be an exercise in doomscrolling. That’s why there are birds at the top, in the sky, and plants at the bottom, for the earth. That said, the world isn’t in the best shape, and we do have to report that clearly, especially in the face of denial, minimization, layers of impacted PMC bullshit. That said, “”””if it bleeds, it leads,”””” meaning that our famously free press has little incentive to report good news beyond clickbait-y heartwarming anecdotes. That’s one reason I invented, quoting Mr. Rogers, “”””Look for the helpers”””” in the Covid section; to relieve the bleakness. Let’s expand the principle
Links to stories about helpers are also good:
If readers wish to send me more links or photos of helpers in action, you can mail me with “”””Helpers”””” in the subject line. Could be Covid, could be any situation. Even helpful animals!
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund: “It Doesn’t Seem Like People Want To Get To The Bottom” Of January 6″ [RealClearPolitics]. The Interview:
Ep. 15 Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund reveals what really happened on January 6th. Our Fox News interview with him never aired, so we invited him back. pic.twitter.com/opDlu4QGlp
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 10, 2023
Sund is flogging his book. But it sounds like an interesting book:
“Only the chief of Capitol Police, not the DoD, can revoke permits on Capitol grounds, yet neither man reached out to me to discuss these concerns. Was this because they knew that if they informed me, I would immediately notify the two sergeants at arms and demand military support to protect my officers and perimeter on January 6? Milley has stated he feared that Trump was seeking a “”Reichstag moment”” in which he could invoke the Insurrection Act. But instead of notifying the chief on the Hill regarding the threats of violence, SECDEF Miller and SECARMY McCarthy implemented unprecedented restrictions on military assistance to law enforcement.”
I have not mastered the January 6 timeline. But the LIHOP v. MIHOP framing does seem to crop up rather a lot, and not just for this story.
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Judge warns of restraints to what evidence Trump can talk about, agrees to limited protective order” [Associated Press]. “Presiding over her first hearing for the case, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington heard arguments on how to structure a protective order that would prevent a public airing of all the evidence turned over by prosecutors…. The judge said that the more anyone makes ‘inflammatory’ statements about the case, the greater her urgency will be to move the case more quickly to trial to prevent the contamination of the jury pool. She noted that ‘arguably ambiguous statements’ could be construed as intimidation or harassment of potential witnesses….. The prosecutors proposed a protective order barring Trump and his lawyers from disclosing materials provided by the government to anyone other than people on his legal team, possible witnesses, the witnesses’ lawyers or others approved by the court. Trump’s team, meanwhile, asked for a more narrow order that would bar the public release only of the materials deemed ‘sensitive,’ such as grand jury documents. Defense attorneys wrote in court papers that the need to protect sensitive information ‘does not require a blanket gag order over all documents produced by the government.’…. [Chutkan] rejected prosecutors’ broader protective order proposal that sought to prevent the public release of all evidence they hand over to Trump’s defense as they prepare for trial. She instead seemed poised to impose a more limited protective order that would bar the public release only of materials deemed ‘sensitive,’ such as grand jury materials. The government considers the vast majority of evidence in the case to be sensitive. The judge sided with the prosecution on what materials are considered sensitive and therefore protected under the order.”
“Judge delivers mixed ruling on Trump protective order in 2020 election case” [FOX]. The deck: “Judge in former President Trump election cases says only ‘sensitive’ material covered under protective order, then agrees with prosecution’s definition of sensitive.” More: “Trump’s attorney John Lauro then argued that the government’s request was ‘extraordinary.’ ‘We are in uncharted waters, we have a defendant running for president and his opponent has the DOJ bringing charges against him,’ Lauro said. ‘The fact that he’s tuning a political campaign has to yield to the orderly administration of justice,’ Chutkan replied. She suggested that Trump might release evidence about former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony, for example, to denigrate him as a witness. ‘The defendant’s desire to respond to political opponents has to yield,’ Chutkan said. ‘There are limits. This is a criminal case. The need for this case to proceed in a normal order means there are going to be limits on the defendant’s speech.’ She told Lauro that how a protective order might affect the presidential campaign was not her concern. ‘I cannot and will not factor into my decisions the effect it will have on a campaign for either side,’ she said.” • Except the case, by definition, does everything Chutkan said she did not want to do. For example: Can Trump, as a candidate, say, according to Chutkan, that the case is an example of “orderly administration of justice”? Can Trump, as it were, go meta?
“Judge Chutkan says Trump’s right to free speech in January 6 case is ‘not absolute'” [CNN]. “The former president has a right to free speech, but that right is ‘not absolute,’ Chutkan said. “”Mr. Trump, like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. In a criminal case such as this one, the defendant’s free speech is subject to the rules.’…. Whether or not Trump’s public statements are covered by the protecti]ve order that’s issued, she said, if they result in the intimidation of a witness or the obstruction of justice, ‘I will be scrutinizing them very carefully.” • The issue for Trump’s lawyers — who do look young (see the photo), so the question is whether they are smart and hungry enough — is whether Trump can, for once, use his free speech rights strategically instead of opening his big yap impulsively. (Trump needs a surrogate on the trail. As usual, he can’t find good help.)
“DOJ Wants Trump’s Trial on Election Charges to Be Jan. 2, 2024” [Bloomberg]. “The US Justice Department wants a Jan. 2 jury trial for former president Donald Trump on charges he criminally conspired to obstruct the 2020 election. Trump opposes the schedule proposed by Special Counsel John ‘Jack’ Smith’s office in a court filing on Thursday. The former president’s lawyers already signaled that they’ll argue for a longer time line, citing the complexity of the case and Trump’s crowded legal and political schedule as he seeks a return to the White House. Trump’s response in court is due Aug. 17. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington is expected to set a trial date at an Aug. 28 hearing. Trump has pleaded not guilty. A January trial would make the Washington case the first of Trump’s three pending criminal cases to go before a jury. It also would of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by Trump’s supporters — a key event in the prosecution time line — and the Jan. 15 Republican caucuses in Iowa.” • Liberal Democrat hysteria will be at its height. I wonder what that totally uncontaminated jury pool will hear when they go home at night (or think, if they are sequestered. All depends on what their media diet was, I suppose).
* * *
“DeSantis greeted by ‘pudding fingers’ chant in Iowa” [Politico]. “It was an inauspicious start for Ron DeSantis in Iowa on Friday. Chanting ‘Ron DeFascist’ and ‘pudding fingers’ on a megaphone while ringing cowbells, two protesters effectively cut short the Florida governor’s first campaign stop of the day at a large roadside rock painted for war veterans. It was the second notable disruption of a Republican presidential candidate by the left in Iowa this week, after a Democrat on Thursday asked Mike Pence at the Iowa State Fair, ‘Why did you commit treason on Jan. 6?'” At the DeSantis event, Kara Ryan of Des Moines said she and her aunt, Heather Ryan, were there on behalf of a political action committee called ‘Bitches Get Stuff Done,’ that supports abortion rights. A man there to support DeSantis, wearing a hat given out by his aligned super PAC, Never Back Down, at one point tried to stop the noise by attempting unsuccessfully to knock the megaphone out of Heather Ryan’s hands. DeSantis, joined by his wife Casey, still tried to give remarks. ‘People like that,’ he said, referring to the two protesters drowning him out, ‘are what’s holding this country back.’ The handful of veterans gathered erupted in applause. But the event was hurried, DeSantis’ meeting with the veterans brief.” • Independent: “In March, Mr DeSantis chose not to outright deny that he ate chocolate pudding with three fingers on a private flight in 2019. … ‘I don’t remember ever doing that,’ the governor told Piers Morgan in an interview on Fox Nation.”
* * *
“Republicans say an impeachment inquiry is just an investigation: That’s not what they said about Trump” [USA Today]. “When it comes to the politically treacherous push to impeach President Joe Biden, House Republicans have been careful with their words. Republican lawmakers say they’re only interested in an impeachment inquiry to investigate the White House – not necessarily formal impeachment proceedings against Biden to remove him from office. If the claim sounds familiar, that’s because it is. That’s what House Democrats said in 2019 when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump. Pelosi had long faced calls from Democratic lawmakers to open an impeachment inquiry, but the former speaker publicly downplayed the prospect…. ‘They’re trying to deflect’: Democrats link GOP push to impeach Biden to Trump indictments.”
“A Timeline Of Joe Biden’s Intervention Against The Prosecutor General Of Ukraine” [Moon of Alabama (Lyman Alpha Blob)]. • I asked for a timeline; ask and ye shall receive!
* * *
IA: “CNN’s John King: Iowa Voters’ Opinions On Ukraine Sound Like ‘The Opening Of An Old Tucker Carlson Show'” [RealClearPolitics]. “CNN’s Jon King and Dana Bash comment on this piece investigating how Iowa voters are approaching the 2024 presidential election. Jon King said listening to Iowa voters’ opinions on Ukraine was ‘like watching the open of an old Tucker Carlson show.’ ‘They’re good people,’ he also said. ‘They raise money for the Girl Scouts, they go to church, but they believe things that would break our fact-check machine.’ ‘” [pause for hysterical laughter]. More: “JON KING, CNN: If you think the United States should be supporting Ukraine in the fight against Putin, raise your hand. IOWA VOTERS: [silence].” • Asking me to vote with them. Not for (precise) reasons I agree with, but ah well, nevertheless….
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
The Democrats the party of the rich:
DEMOCRATS THE PARTY OF THE RICH? Marcy Kaptur asked, “”How is it possible that Republicans are representing the majority of people who struggle?”” See chart below from Kaptur, with richest districts to the left, poorest to the right. https://t.co/EcepvmEclp pic.twitter.com/jdsR5XROqC
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) August 9, 2023
Not quite right. As I say above: “The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC,” who have higher incomes than the median American, no question. To me, “the rich” don’t have to work for a living, hence are capital.
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
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!
Darth Vader’s brother:
TREND AIRSHIELD PRO: This is an industrial helmet with “”high efficiency solid particulate filtration”” (HEPA-like) used primarily by woodworkers 🪵 and carpenters 🪚 to protect their face 😊 and lungs🫁 . (2/5) https://t.co/kQNhTkRJL5
— Devabhaktuni "Sri" Srikrishna (@sri_srikrishna) August 7, 2023
Covid is Airborne
A terrific thread on everything that can go wrong electrically with air filtration units over time:
#1 PLUGS CAN BREAK OFF AND POSE A SHOCK ⚡️ RISK: A solution is to inspect 👀 plugs 🔌 regularly and minimize plugs on the floor where people step if possible wherever possible. (3/10) https://t.co/dw9MZY6Mzt
— Devabhaktuni "Sri" Srikrishna (@sri_srikrishna) August 11, 2023
“Metallica Can’t Force Insurer To Pay for Tour Canceled by COVID-19 Pandemic, Judge Rules” [Billboard]. From 2022, still germane. “A California judge says Metallica’s insurance company doesn’t need to pay for six South American concerts that were canceled when COVID-19 struck, thanks to an exclusion in the policy for ‘communicable diseases.'” …. In a decision on Nov. 30 obtained by Billboard, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly J. Fujie said she didn’t buy it. ‘The travel restrictions which caused the concert cancellations were a direct response to the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic,’ the judge wrote. ‘The evidence … demonstrates that the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the travel restrictions to South America and restrictions on public gatherings. The COVID-19 pandemic was therefore the efficient proximate cause of the concerts’ cancellations.’ Metallica’s lawyers had also argued that the ‘diseases’ exclusion didn’t apply at all, since the exact wording of the policy said Lloyd’s wouldn’t pay coverage stemming from a disease ‘or fear or threat thereof.’ Citing that language, the band said ‘none of its bandmembers felt threatened or fearful.’ But Judge Fujie was similarly unswayed, ruling that the Metallica policy’s language ‘does not require that the policyholders [themselves] feel fearful or threatened.'” • If the origin of the “living in fear” trope was Metallica… that would be a turn-up for the books.
“EXCLUSIVE: Sandra Bullock and Bryan Randall seen ‘exchanging vows’ and dancing in intimate Bahamas ceremony three years before his ALS diagnosis” [Daily Mail]. “During this time DailyMail.com understands that which was still in place at her Beverly Hills residence at the tine of Randall’s death. According to one insider: ‘She just stopped letting people in the house. All the testing was done outside, at the pool house, two, even three times a week. ‘It was a huge undertaking, and the general understanding was that it was because Bryan was in there, in the back of the house, receiving care. ‘It was a horrible situation. It got so the children and even Sandra wanted him out of the house at some times. He was seeing a psychologist too at one point – I don’t know if that was because of the progression of the illness or the mental toll of coping with it.” • Too bad Bullock didnt model the behavior, though I’m sad for both of them.
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.
* * *
“NTSB releases uninformative preliminary report on United Maui dive” [The Air Current (PI)]. :
The National Transportation Safety Board on April 25 quietly released a bare-bones and uninformative preliminary report as part of its investigation into the United Airlines Boeing 777-200 that went into a sharp dive and recovery shortly after takeoff from Maui in December. The investigation into the still publicly unexplained December 18 dive is unusual for the NTSB, which launched the investigation on February 14 only after the occurrence was revealed publicly by The Air Current on February 12. At the time, the NTSB said that it expected a preliminary report within two to three weeks. The NTSB has had a spate of new high-profile investigations in recent months as investigators, airlines and federal regulators try to understand the causes of numerous close-calls involving major U.S. carriers. The NTSB has stuck to its standard reporting schedule for other incidents.” • ‘Tis a mystery!
I don’t know what happened to the Los Angeles County Public Health department, but whatever, it’s not good. First, the handwashing poster. Now this:
Los Angeles County abruptly rescinds mask mandate for patient facing healthcare workers effective August 11. https://t.co/Sbfh55UstW
— CyFi (@CyFi10) August 11, 2023
This is a long thread demolishing handwashing propaganda along much the same lines as droplet dogma. The studies are bad:
Hand washing EDUCATION reduces infections in the community.
Right off the bat, we can see possible confounding behavior.
If someone teaches me to be more careful…I could become more careful, in general. Etc.
But let's just accept their premise, and look at their first study
— Lazarus Long (@LazarusLong13) August 9, 2023
Worse, the key study is bad:
And what is he now known for?
Developing the product used in this study.
— Lazarus Long (@LazarusLong13) August 9, 2023
Sadly, Twitter is what we have. The blogosphere was so much better, for both writers and readers.
* * *
I don’t know what the world has come to when Trump’s Surgeon General makes more sense on Covid policy than any liberal Democrat:
Our covid response has gone from a lack of resources (tests, masks, treatments, vaccines) to what now seems like a lack of will to use or update them.
We truly could lose our window to intervene on this current wave, and end up with a new strain that nothing works against.
— Jerome Adams (@JeromeAdamsMD) August 9, 2023
Not that Armstrong is a force in the Republican party. But still.
* * *
Find the smart people round this table:
Grateful to @HHSGov Chief of Staff Sean McCluskie and Counselor Dr. Steve Cha for coming down to Atlanta this week. When it comes to protecting our nation’s health, it’s a one team approach! pic.twitter.com/s2BjrkwYLX
— Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) August 10, 2023
UPDATED (Saturday) From BioBot wastewater data, August 11:
Lambert here: We blew past Peak #2, and (I would guess) are well on our way to surpassing Peak #4. It will be interesting to see what happens when schools open up. I would like to congratulate the Biden administration and the public health establishment, the CDC especially, for this enormous and unprecedented achievement. And a tip of the ol’ Water Cooler hat to the Great Barrington goons, whose policies have been followed so assiduously! A curious fact: All of Biden’s peaks are higher than Trump’s peaks. Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders! Musical interlude. NOTE I’m not happy that Biobot can’t update this data more frequently.
UPDATED (Saturday) Regional data:
Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it. There is a big surge in the Midwest, but let’s wait for the next drop before drawing conclusions, since backward revision of biobot data is frequent.
Regional variant data, August 5.
EG.5 (the orange pie slice) still seems evenly distributed. Sadly, the Midwest data is not available, so we can’t infer anything about the Midwest surge and any variant(s), one way or the other.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 5:
From CDC, July 22:
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, August 5:
Lambert here: Increase is even more distinct. (The black line is “combined”, but it is easy to see that Covid, the red line, is driving everything.)
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, August 7:
3.4%. Interestingly, people are citing to this, too, as well as Biobot. Vertical-ish, 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.)
From CDC, July 24:
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, August 9:
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?
1,170,864 = 828 (828 * 365 = 302,220 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 The Economist, August 6:
Lambert here: No longer updated daily. Odd when it was, odd when it stopped. 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. )
Inflation: “United States Producer Prices Change” [Trading Economics]. “Annual producer inflation in the US accelerated to 0.8% in July of 2023 from 0.2% in June, above forecasts of 0.7%, amid base effects.”
Tech: “The Reddit Protest Is Finally Over. Reddit Won.” [Gizmodo]. “Despite the infinite blackout threats, most moderators relented as the weeks rolled by. Three major holdouts were r/aww, r/pics, and r/videos, some of Reddit’s largest communities that account for more than 91 million subscribers. The three subreddits reopened weeks ago but adopted rules by popular vote that prohibited content that did not feature HBO’s John Oliver, rendering the forums useless for their previous purposes. For a while, the subreddits stood strong, but r/videos was the first to backpedal, dropping the John Oliver rule but requiring all posts to feature profanity. Soon that rule was abandoned as well. Last week, the moderators of r/aww announced the John Oliver rule was over, and over the weekend r/pics quietly gave up the protest as well, as reported by the Verge. ‘More than a month has passed, and as things on the internet go, the passion for the protest has waned and people’s attention has shifted to other things,’ an r/aww moderator wrote in a post about the rule change. According to Reddark, a site that tracks the subreddit protest, 1,843 of the original 8,829 protesting communities are still dark. But most of these are small communities, and today only protesting subreddit with over 10 million subscribers is r/fitness. Even if those subreddits never reopen, relinquishing the John Oliver rule officially brings the Reddit protests to a close. Though the Reddit team likely caused permanent damage to the platform and its relationship with users, Spez got his way. But that victory might not mean much. Reddit, along with Twitter (or X, as Musk would like you to call it), still have thriving communities. But the tides are shifting. Even Instagram and Facebook are struggling to secure long-term relevance as competitors like TikTok continue to dominate, and TikTok’s future in the US isn’t certain either as it faces down a potential federal ban. We’re at the dawn of a platform shift. As Google tunes its algorithms and incorporates more AI content into its search results, the business model of the entire internet is undergoing an unpredictable change. Over the long term, Reddit’s scrambling efforts at financial security may prove just as futile as the moderators’ attempts to fight back.” • Returning to the blogosphere would solve all this. No?
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 11 at 1:54 PM ET.
“Bureaucratic Collage: Ghosts in the System” [Art Institute of Chicago]. The deck: “Bureaucracy is a system of processes that organizes authority across institutions.” Hmm. More: “What often comes to mind when I think of bureaucracy is the circulation of documents, usually in the form of paperwork or media in the form of film and photography. A defining characteristic of this material is its functionality; its intended form fulfills an active purpose within the system it serves. The art of collage is often characterized by frayed seams, revealed edges, and uneven surfaces, and can sometimes appear as a Frankensteinian concoction of substances. Through the combination of disparate elements and material mutations, the assembled work becomes something else. And when it’s combined with bureaucracy, it becomes something else altogether.” For example:
(A collage of the lunar surface). And:
(A collage of city records on artists.) Neat stuff! Makes me wonder what could be done with the records in Trump’s court cases….
“There is no ‘getting back to normal’ with climate breakdown” [Mark Blyth, Guardian]. From 2021, still germane. “[Climate breakdown] is . In plain English, there is no mean, there is no average, there is no return to normal. It’s one way traffic into the unknown. As study after study shows, the one thing humans hate dealing with is uncertainty. Risk – odds you can count on – is fine. But systems with truly random outcomes freak us out. We are also terrible at dealing with scale. As evolutionary psychologists put it, ‘Our modern skulls house a stone age mind.’ It evolved to solve problems in a pretty stable mean-reverting world with face-to-face interactions. When we encountered things that freaked us out in such a world, we filled in the gaps with a mutually agreed story (religion or political ideology, for example) that helped us ignore what we could not explain. But now we live in a world we can explain, and yet rather than accept what we know and act upon that knowledge, we increasingly imagine our world to be different from how it actually is.” • I’m not sure Blyth has the causality right here, with all this talk about “stone age minds.” He leaves propaganda out of the question. Hence he leaves class out of the equation. I grant this is the stupidest timeline, but it was made stupid.
“The Case for More Strikes” [The Nation]. “Today the strategy card deck has been reshuffled, and strikes are on the table again. Reform leaders in the UAW have already started negotiations with the Big Three automakers—Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors, covering 150,000 workers—ahead of contracts expiring on September 14. With the campaign ramp-up on a short timeline, the union isn’t wasting a second, whipping up fighting enthusiasm among the rank and file with contract actions nationwide. We are witnessing an uptick in labor militancy the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. Thousands of workers have started picket lines around the country, from striking screenwriters and actors to hotel workers, locomotive manufacturing workers, and Amazon workers. It won’t last forever. The time to build credible strike threats and hit the bricks is now.” • Or one big one. I wonder if the union leadership realizes how tightly coupled the economy really is?
News of the Wired
“Want to pwn a satellite? Turns out it’s surprisingly easy” [The Register]. “In a presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Johannes Willbold, a PhD student at Germany’s Ruhr University Bochum, explained he had been investigating the security of satellites. He studied three types of orbital machinery and found that many were utterly defenseless against remote takeover because they lack the most basic security systems. ‘People think that satellites are secure,’ he said. ‘Those are expensive assets and they should have encryption and authentication. I assume that criminals think the same and they are too hard to target and you need to be some kind of cryptography genius. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to give this talk.'” • Oh.
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 TF:
TF writes: “Hypericum prolificum in Isham Park, upper Manhattan. Sure is popular with these large bees. They bounce around quickly on the blooms.” You can actually see the blooms shake when a heavy bee comes in for a landing.
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!