By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, so far I’ve focused on digging into Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, based on our very illuminating discussion last week, but adding new material. But it took awhile. More soon! –lambert UPDATE All done. I’ll catch up with the campaign trail tomorrow. Life’s rich pageant!
Bird Song of the Day
Bobolink, J. Clark Salyer NWR, North Dakota, United States. “Unbroken cut with internal recordist announcement gain change (MJA, 31Jan2005).” Another four minute cut!
Look for the Helpers
Alert reader Bob comments on the helpers who saved so many Vermont dairy cows:
I was in upstate NY for the ice storm in 1998.
They HAVE to milk the cows.
Without power it was impossible to milk that many cows. Normally it was accomplished with milking equipment, powered by electricity.
Someone actually did the math early on, after all the power went out, and figured that even if they pressed every man woman and child into milking they couldn’t do it. Too many cows, not enough people.
If you don’t milk cows they die. Thousands of dead cows in the middle of a disaster. People can help themselves. Dairy cattle can’t. There were people who were without power for weeks.
You can dump milk if you can’t move it. It’s awful to waste it, but you can if you have to. You can’t help the cows without power.
The pressing logistical issue was then how to get giant generators for the milking equipment between these farms.
The Army, out of Fort Drum, was one of the answers. Giant generators and high trucks. If not for that there would have been a lot more carnage.
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
The Constitutional Order
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. –William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare says the two households are “alike” in dignity, but he doesn’t say how much dignity they actually have. If Verona’s households are like our parties, the answer is “not much.”
* * *
“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:
The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.
Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), here is an aggregation on Section Three.
* * *
“Their Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3 and Ours” [JustSecurity]. From 2021. “[A] way of thinking about constitutions… gained hegemony in American constitutional thought only in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On this view, which continues to structure contemporary constitutional thought in the United States, constitutions are legal documents whose meaning is best interpreted by legal authorities. Persons who draft a constitution provision that speaks of ‘insurrection,’ ‘incitement,’ or, for that matter, ‘freedom of the press’ have in mind a fixed legal meaning that courts are expected to implement. From this legal perspective, the question ‘what did the persons responsible for Section 3 mean by ‘insurrection’?”” makes sense, just as the more common question ‘what did the persons responsible for Section 1 mean by ‘equal protection’?’ .” And: “The Republicans who drafted the Fourteenth Amendment had a similar political notion of how constitutional meaning was determined. If the Fourteenth Amendment worked as they expected, the national government would be controlled by persons of unquestioned loyalty to the government. These representatives could be trusted to determine what constituted an insurrection and what sort of participation in an insurrection merited disqualification under Section 3. No need existed to hamstring them with a technical legal definition of ‘insurrection’ or ‘participation’ that might turn out to be inconsistent with the constitutional purpose of giving Congress the tools necessary to maintain loyal control of the state and federal government. We might make an analogy to a tenure committee in a functional department (does one exist?). The standards are quite vague (original professional work of high quality), but the members of the committee because of their rectitude and expertise can be trusted to distinguish tenurable work from dreck.” • Oh. A tenure committee. A weird implementation of “popular constitutionalism,” though not perhaps in “our democracy.” I’m fascinated to see an early article on “Section Three” from the heart of the Lawfare establishment. (JustSecurity also maintains a Section Three tracker.)
“Voter advocates target Arizona officials linked to January 6 insurrection” [Kiowa Country Press]. “A legal advocacy group is taking an unusual approach in its attempt to prevent three Arizona officials linked to the January 6th riot from holding public office. Free Speech for People has filed complaints in an Arizona court to bar Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Rep. Andy Biggs R-Ariz., and Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, from office for their involvement in the Washington, D.C., insurrection. The complaints cite a clause in the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies officials who participate in a rebellion from holding any official position.” • This is not a case of Section Three being “self-executing,” however, since the advocacy group is working through the courts.
“Prof. Michael McConnell, Responding About the Fourteenth Amendment, ‘Insurrection,’ and Trump” [Reason]. , depriving voters of the ability to elect candidates of their choice. If abused, this is profoundly anti-democratic. ‘The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.’ Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964). The broader and more nebulous the definition of engaging in insurrection, and the fewer the procedural safeguards, the greater the danger. Section 3 speaks of ‘insurrection’ and ‘rebellion.’ These are demanding terms, connoting only the most serious of uprisings against the government, such as the Whisky Rebellion and the Civil War. The terms of Section 3 should not be defined down to include mere riots or civil disturbances, which are common in United States history. Many of these riots impede the lawful operations of government, and exceed the power of normal law enforcement to control. Are they insurrections or rebellions, within the meaning of Section 3?” • I have remarked that the distinctive competence of the modern political party (not, perhaps, in the 1800s) is control of the ballot. Is a potential “Sweep and Force” of “Section 3” formalizing that? If so, does that make parties part of the constitutional order, like the press? As the press is constituted by the First Amendment, are parties now to be constituted by the Thirteenth?
“Prof. Michael McConnell, Responding About the Fourteenth Amendment, ‘Insurrection,’ and Trump'” [Election Law Blog]. McConnell gets around! “Putting together my friends’ broad definitions of ‘insurrection’ and ‘engage,’ and lack of concern about enforcement procedure, I worry that this approach could empower partisans to seek disqualification every time a politician supports or speaks in support of the objectives of a political riot. . If that is what Section 3 necessarily means, we have to live with it. But in my opinion, we should seek the narrowest, most precise, least susceptible to abuse, definition that is consistent with history and precedent. In the absence of actual engagement in actual insurrection, judged as such by competent authorities, we should allow the American people to vote for the candidates of their choice.” • In other words, wait for the lawsuits against Democrats who supported Black Lives Matter (which some have characterized as a “rebellion.” Others not).
“The Conservative Legal Roadmap to Disqualify Trump From Office” [The New Republic]. “But [Baude and Paulsen’s] work stands as as they get ready to administer the 2024 elections, especially when it comes to deciding who can and can’t be on the ballot.” • As above. Though it won’t be some law review article that does the nudging, eh? Sounds to me like 2024 will be more volatile than we ever imagined. And here we go:
BREAKING: This new law review article is a must-read for every Secr. of State + chief election official in the country. As this article makes clear, they must follow the mandate of 14.3 + bar Trump from the ballot. If they do not, we will sue.@FSFP https://t.co/joF99KThho
— John Bonifaz (@JohnBonifaz) August 11, 2023
I looked up the Board of Directors for Bonifaz’s NGO. First hit: Ben Binswanger, former advisor to Teddy Kennedy. Dudes, come on.
“Of Insurrections, Presidents, and the Utter Failure of Constitutional Law to Address the Real Issues” [Dorf on Law]. “What Baude and Paulsen clearly missed, which Professor McConnell and Chief Justice Chase did not, is the most important question regarding the legal issues surrounding Section 3: what are its consequences? How will the authors’ interpretations play out in the real world? Is it a good idea to apply Section 3 to President Trump specifically and the events of January 6th generally? Will Section 3 be badly abused in the future to people who, unlike Trump, do not deserve to be disqualified from office? There are no clear answers to those questions but those are the questions we should be debating (as McConnell did)…. Bush v. Gore provides an excellent example of how we would all be better served if justices and law professors focused more on facts and consequences and less on foolish formalisms. It is a well-accepted idea that the equal protection analysis conducted by the justices in that case reversed the justices’ normal partisan preferences on equal protection with all the conservatives giving the clause a broad reading and two liberals giving it a narrow reading. More importantly, the justices’ interference in that election may well have changed the course of human history (just ask the people of Iraq). That interference was not persuasively grounded in text, history, or precedent. The merits and jurisdictional issues were complex, contestable, and new. Retired Judge Richard Posner, who had no use for legal formalisms, believed the case was decided correctly because America needed an answer and he feared the chaos and confusion would be very dangerous if the Court let the case go until Florida could finish the recount [bullshit]. Whether you agree with that analysis or not, and I do not, we are talking about deciding an incredibly close presidential election. Pragmatic on-the-ground concerns are completely appropriate for this kind of monumental case, especially when the legal issues are blurry without persuasive answers. If he were able today to respond to the Baude and Paulsen article, he would say something like, ‘.'”
“Conservative Case Emerges to Disqualify Trump for Role on Jan. 6” [New York Times]. “‘,’ Professor Paulsen said [modestly].” • One could look at this as the RINOs finally keeping their own side of the street clean. But more volatility!
Time for the Countdown Clock!
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.
* * *
“Please, Please Stop With the Progressive Hero Worship of Jack Smith and Tanya Chutkan” [Politico]. “Within days of being assigned to preside over Donald Trump’s unprecedented Washington trial, Judge Tanya Chutkan achieved a much more familiar modern political milestone: She became the subject of novelty T-shirt sales…. I get the impulse. Unfortunately, it undercuts everything the iconography is meant to celebrate… Chutkan is only the latest public employee whose interaction with Trump has turned her into an icon for the tote-bag-and-novelty-sock set. Last week, my colleague Calder McHugh wrote about the cult that has sprung up around Jack Smith, the man prosecuting Trump, complete with fanboy Twitter and Tiktok accounts and sales of a pillow depicting Smith as Jaws.” • The “adults in the room” also named their dogs after Mueller. Remember that?
“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!
Look for the Helpers
Fellow advocates for Clean Indoor Air:
– My presentation slides
– A video of me talking through my presentation
– My 5-step plan to IAQ success
— Liesl McConchie (@LieslMcconchie) August 14, 2023
Thank you, Twitter (or X, as the case may be):
— soft bb boy🏳️⚧️😷contact tracer (@COVID19_CT) August 12, 2023
As I’ve been saying:
I’d like to suggest to those working on masks/respirators, to please not underestimate the power of aesthetics/design/fashion. Please consider black instead of white. Making masks look cool could potentially convince a lot more people to adopt them. pic.twitter.com/jwzVFn5ut7
— Phi (@sophsoph_psd) August 13, 2023
“Waning protection after vaccination and prior infection against COVID-19-related mortality over 18 months” [Clinical Microbiology]. N = 14,936. “[A]lthough vaccination and prior infection are protective against COVID-19-mortality, protection wanes considerably after six months. With SARS-CoV-2 increasingly moving towards endemicity, the continuous threat of new virus mutations, and the public health response predominantly relying on vaccines, waning of infection-induced, vaccine-induced and hybrid immunity should be monitored. This may allow identifying vulnerable population groups with insufficient immunity and provide the evidence base to further fine-tune vaccination recommendations.” • “May.” Indeed.
Hat tip to Dave Anthony (previously of the wonderful “The West Wing” podcast, so helpful in diagnosing liberal Democrat brain damage:
Big appreciation to @daveanthony @reynoldsgareth keeping it extremely real safety wise on @thedollop‘s tour. Thanks for your visibility and doing all you can to encourage the audience to gather safely with KN95s+. If I were traveling again, your tour would be a must-attend ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/OMU3ANY1Hl
— Amanda Hu (@amandalhu) August 13, 2023
“The New COVID ‘Eris’ Variant and Rising Cases: What You Need to Know” [KQED]. “[Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at UCSF] says that in the context of previous rises in COVID cases over summer — and winter — he ‘kind of expected’ this latest surge for several reasons. The first, he said, is the amount of summer travel people have done — and are still doing: ‘More people moving around, record number of travelers, mixing people from more risky with less risky areas.’ The second is the presence of recent heat waves around the U.S. — and to some extent, within the Bay Area — and how they’ve driven people to seek shelter and moderate temperatures indoors: ‘Just like winter drives people indoors,’ Chin-Hong noted. Thirdly, there’s the fact of waning immunity. Whether people gained immunity from getting a COVID infection back in the winter or by getting their vaccine booster in the late fall of 2022, that’s about ‘six months and change’ ago, said Chin-Hong, ‘so people are losing immunity.’ ‘And we know that immunity wanes the fastest, from CDC data, in those who are over 65,’ he said. “”So that is all contributing to just a lot of more susceptible hosts.””
“With ‘Eris’ rising and now ‘Fornax,’ when are COVID cases likely to peak again? A look at what may lie ahead for fall and winter” [Fortune]. “As of Friday, another new player is more officially in the mix: ‘Fornax,’ or FL.1.5.1, an Eris relative named after a constellation in the southern hemisphere. That’s according to Ryan Gregory, a biology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, who has been assigning ‘street names’ like Kraken to high-flying variants…. FL.1.5.1 is the top variant currently reported in New York, considered a bellwether state by variant trackers…. But the current swell hovers higher than wastewater levels at past low points in the pandemic, including spring of last year and even May of 2020. In short, the damned thing’s still very much with us. From COVID’s introduction to humans in late 2019 through the initial Omicron wave in January 2022, ‘you kind of have big, distinct, sharp waves, a big peak that went up fast and came down fast, driven by an individual variant—Alpha, Delta, Omicron,’ he tells Fortune. But since last summer, there ‘just hasn’t been that pattern anymore.’ Instead, a new cadence developed—and it’s likely to continue this fall and winter. It’s one of a high wall of cases sustained by mini-waves of multiple new variants overlapping each other—one slicker, faster, sleeker Omicron spawn after the next. It’s all about the ‘high sea level rather than tsunamis,’ says Gregory.” • Until it isn’t?
“14th century Yersinia pestis genomes support emergence of pestis secunda within Europe” [PLOS Pathogens]. “Pestis secunda (1356–1366 CE) is the first of a series of plague outbreaks in Europe that followed the Black Death (1346–1353 CE). Collectively this period is called the Second Pandemic. From a genomic perspective, the majority of post-Black Death strains of Yersinia pestis thus far identified in Europe display diversity accumulated over a period of centuries that form a terminal sub-branch of the Y. pestis phylogeny…. Through consideration of historical sources that explore first documentation of the pandemic in today’s Central Germany, we argue that these data provide robust evidence to support a post-Black Death evolution of the pathogen within Europe rather than a re-introduction from outside.” • The Black Death killed 25% of Europe’s population, Pestis secunda 10-20%. So one could argue that Yersinia pestis did, in fact, get “milder.” I’m not sure I would want to, however.
“Prevalence of Symptoms ≤12 Months After Acute Illness, by COVID-19 Testing Status Among Adults — United States, December 2020–March 2023” [Morbibity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC]. “These findings expand the understanding of post-COVID conditions. Previous studies have reported symptom prevalence estimates across varied, nonstandardized periods or at a single point in time, resulting in challenges comparing studies and difficulty distinguishing among the presence of reported persistent symptoms at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, those that resolved and then reemerged, and those that emerged after initial recovery (3–9). Few previous longitudinal studies have compared symptoms in COVID test–positive participants with those in persons with a COVID-like illness and who received negative SARS-CoV-2 test results. By conducting serial measurements of emerging and ongoing symptoms, this study was able to ascertain that participants who were symptomatic at a given time point included participants with ongoing symptoms as well as those with emerging symptoms (i.e., symptoms that were not present 3 months earlier). The inclusion of participants with COVID-like illness and negative test results guides discussions on characterizing symptoms associated with post-COVID conditions (10). This differentiation adds nuance and clarity to the natural history of post-COVID conditions and characterizes the fluctuating nature of symptoms over time and recognizes that these symptoms are not unique to COVID-19 or to post-COVID conditions. Many participants experienced new symptoms ≥6 months after the acute illness, suggesting that the prevalence of emerging symptoms in the months after acute COVID-like illness might be considerable. Cognitive difficulties and extreme fatigue were two common symptoms that emerged after 6 months and are often reported to occur with post-COVID conditions (1,3,6,9). Differentiating between symptoms that resolve and emerge over time helps to characterize post-COVID conditions and suggests that measurements at single time points underestimate or mischaracterize the true effects of disease.” • Too bad NIH p*ssed away a billion dollars without looking for biological markers, but here we are.
“Teen Suicide Plummeted During Covid-19 School Closures, New Study Finds” [Forbes]. “Researchers with the University of Texas’s Houston School of Public Health studied more than 73,000 emergency department visits and hospitalizations between 2016 and 2021, of which there were an average of 964 suicide-related visits per 100,000 children between ages 10 and 18 each year. The rate of suicidality among young people, which has been increasing for a decade, rose from 760 per 100,000 children in 2016 to 1,006 in 2019 before an unexpected decrease in 2020—the first year of the pandemic—brought the rate down to 942. The study also found peaks in suicidal ideation in April and October of most years, with a dramatic low in the summer months when school was not in session, but in 2020 saw a disruption in that seasonal pattern with the lowest suicidality rates in April and May—when schools were closed for Covid.” • And all the GBD goons yammering to this very day about the unforgivable damage our half-assed lockdowns did.
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.
* * *
“New emails show COVID vaccine mandates were based on a lie” [Washington Examiner]. Missed this in June, still germane. “Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and former NIH Director Francis Collins were aware of, and discussed, ‘breakthrough cases’ of COVID in January 2021 — right when the vaccines became widely available. In her email, Walensky says that ‘clearly,’ it is an ‘important area of study,’ links to a study raising the issue, and assures the person she is sending it to that Dr. Anthony Fauci is looped into these conversations. However, in public, Walensky was saying something quite different. Two months after discussing this data, she said vaccinated people ‘don’t carry the virus’ and ‘don’t get sick.’ In a congressional hearing, after it became clear people were able to get infected with COVID even after receiving the vaccine, she defended her original statements by claiming it was true at the time she said it — namely, for the strands we were dealing with in early 2021. We now know that was not true and that Walensky herself knew it was not true.” • Anything that empowers Jay Bhattacharya is bad….
Has anyone else heard from this little bird?
A little birdie told me Long Covid funds were poorly used because leadership thought Long Covid was much less likely to occur in subsequent infections
— AJ Leonardi, MBBS, PhD (@fitterhappierAJ) August 13, 2023
* * *
From BioBot wastewater data, August 14:
Lambert here: Not much of a jump over the last three days. Happy memories of tape-watching days! 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.
No backward revisions; perhaps the Midwest surge, and leveling off everywhere else, is real. Let’s wait and see. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.
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.
From Walgreens, August 14:
-0.7%. A pause here, too? 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.)
NOT UPDATED 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?
Total: 1,172,112 –
1,171,692= 420 (420 * 365 = 153,300 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).
The Economist, August 15:
Lambert here: Back to almost dailiy. Odd when it is, odd when it stops. 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. )
• “Covid still significant as mortality rate jumps” [The Actuary]. The UK. “The Continuous Mortality Investigation’s (CMI) Q1 2023 update reveals that 20,000 excess deaths were reported between January and March – the highest number since the pandemic’s second wave in Q1 2021, when they topped 30,000. It reports that, between January and March, 8,600 deaths registered in the UK mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate. This accounts for around 40% of total excess deaths…. The number of deaths registered in England and Wales in week 13 of 2023 was 10,374 –1,210 higher than if mortality rates had been the same as in the 13th week of 2019 and equivalent to 12% more deaths than expected.”
Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index sank to -19 in August of 2023 from 1.1 in July, well below market forecasts of -1, and pointing to the first decline in manufacturing activity in the NY state in three months.”
Retail: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US were up 0.7% month-over-month in July of 2023, marking a fourth consecutive rise, and beating market forecasts of a 0.4% increase. It follows an upwardly revised 0.3% gain in June, in another sign consumer spending remains strong despite high prices and borrowing costs. Sales in July likely got a boost from Amazon’s Prime Day.”
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Media: “ESPN Is About To Get Much More Annoying” [Defector]. “ESPN announced on Tuesday that it was making a billion-dollar deal with casino company Penn Entertainment. Over the next 10 years, Penn will pay ESPN $2 billion in exchange for the right to slap ESPN’s name on its sportsbook, and for the ability to market that sportsbook through ESPN’s various media channels. This is going to suck. The legalization of sports gambling has made being a sports fan much more annoying. Over the last few years, the entire sports media industry has been steadily and increasingly underwritten by advertising dollars from sportsbooks, who have made deals with as many leagues, publications, and broadcasters as possible in order to get more bettors onto their apps. Not so long ago, you could watch an NBA broadcast on TNT without Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith interrupting the action to tell you about an exciting new parlay available on whatever stupid gambling app they are in bed with, but that time has passed. To watch, listen, and read about sports now is to be assaulted by advertising for a product meant to separate you from your money as quickly as possible.” • Because markets.
Tech: I finally figured out how to turn off Chrome-clone Opera’s stupid AI pop-up (and at least I could, kudos to Opera):
Ha ha! Why on earth not? Looks like Bud from Legal has been at work here….
Tech: “Notes on using a single-person Mastodon server” [Julia Evans]. “There’s no way to search past posts you’ve read. If I see something interesting on my timeline and want to find it later, I usually can’t. (Mastodon has a Elasticsearch-based search feature, but it only allows you to search your own posts, your mentions, your favourites, and your bookmarks). These limitations on search are intentional (and a very common source of arguments) – it’s a privacy / safety issue. Here’s a summary from Tim Bray with lots of links.” • Well, no wonder very few people moved to Mastodon from Twitter. Yikes. Especially when Google search is so horrid. For anything newsworthy, Twitter is often superior. Not so Mastodon!
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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 15 at 12:52 PM ET.
Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!
Feral Hog Watch
“Feral Pigs Are Increasingly Running Wild In Some Oahu Neighborhoods” [Honolulu Civil Beat]. “As roving herds of feral pigs get bigger and more intimidating, grunting and rooting in backyards island-wide, many people living in Oahu’s forested valleys are starting to feel the menace. Martha Noyes, 73, of Pacific Heights, recently left her purchases in the car overnight rather than venture outside in the dark while a herd of pigs — as many as 20 at a time, some weighing 150 pounds or more — snorted and lumbered across her lawn. ‘A couple of times I have felt genuinely threatened,’ she said recently. ‘They don’t like it when we come outside. Sometimes I can’t get to my car.’ … Nobody seems sure why the pig population has shot up so quickly and in so many places. Some think dry weather at higher elevations has caused pigs to forage farther afield. Others think that people in residential neighborhoods began feeding pigs during the Covid-19 shutdown, which attracted more of them to affluent urban suburbs.” • That’s a Jackpot-level cascading effect!
“The wait between major video game sequels is getting longer” [Axios]. “Whether it’s Zelda or God of War or Assassin’s Creed or Forza, new installments take more time to develop than they did a decade ago, as annual releases or two-year gaps give way to dev cycles lasting five years or more…. Fans expect bigger, more graphically detailed games each time out, several developers mentioned to Axios, which requires bigger teams and richer budgets. The often-painstaking process of finding the fun in game design, requiring multiple iterations and the scrapping of lots of work, doesn’t get any faster with more people on board…. To make their money back, publishers have de-emphasized quick-turnaround sequels by diverting resources into a single big game’s expansions and seasons of post-release content, chasing recurring live-service game revenue… ‘There just aren’t as many games being made overall,’ [analyst Doug Creutz] says.” • We don’t need games. We have our games….
“Boots Riley on SAG, WGA Strikes and the Future of Hollywood’s Labor Movement” (interview) [Teen Vogue]. RILEY: “I heard this saying at one point, that class consciousness was knowing what side of the fence you were on; class analysis is knowing who’s there with you. What I’m seeing is people realizing who’s there with them, connecting with each other, strategizing, and actually being in each other’s faces and spaces, meeting in person. It has created this culture that, for some folks, it’s their first time having that. For other folks, like me, it’s something they maybe know about, but haven’t been having in their life right now. I think that’s one thing the [studios don’t] realize, is that it’s fun, right? That doesn’t mean people aren’t worried about the fact that everything stopped, especially for folks on crews, like IATSE and Teamsters — there’s a lot of work not happening. But again, that feeling of being together with people is something that’s a payoff in and of itself.”
News of the Wired
“Some blogging myths” [Julia Evans]. “Blogging isn’t for everyone. Tons of amazing developers don’t have blogs or personal websites at all. I write because it’s fun for me and it helps me organize my thoughts.” • A fun post on blogging. Still dulce et utile today!
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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 Chet G:
Chet G: “This photo is one of those rare ones in which I found out the name of the flower: birdsfoot trefoil. I consider the bumblebee in the photo to be a bonus.”
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