By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, this Water Cooler is gappy because I had to do some actual research, several times [lambert sighs in martyred fashion]. More to come as I try to catch up. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Eastern Whip-poor-will, 10 Miles South Of Meadow Portage, Manitoba, Canada. From 1960, so extremely old-school. “Recordist’s Notes: evening. Also: cattle, Wilson’s snipe, another whip-poor-will, horned owl. Four-hundred and seventeen examples of the ‘Whip-poor-will’ Call of BNA* or, more appropriately, the song of C. v. vociferus.” NOTE * BNA = “Birds of North America.”
“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), more on my continuing coverage of Section Three.
* * *
“Fox News’ Jonathan Turley: Federal courts may intervene if Trump wins the presidency while serving time in state prison” [Media Matters]. “President Trump could indeed pardon himself for federal crimes. For the state crimes, it could create some serious complications. The court would first have to sentence him into jail. But then federal courts may get involved to the extent that that would interfere with presidential functions. We obviously have not been down that road but we have to look towards it and it’s going to be a messy situation. The courts are going to have to deal with it.” • Democrats had no problem “interfering” with “presidential functions” when they launched RussiaGate. So there’s precedent. Which is that “interfering with presidential functions” is jake with the angels, even, or perhaps especially, when spooks do it!
Our Famously Free Press
The @FBI emailed me their proposed edits to my upcoming book. They want me to redact info re: Jan 6, Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping, and my meeting with FBI executives about my protected whistleblower disclosures. Hmm… No, I think I'll publish it all.https://t.co/WC2qxKbhdc
— Steve Friend (@RealStevefriend) April 22, 2023
Don’t know the author, haven’t read the book. But since when do the organs of state security get to censor books about domestic affairs?
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Trump Could Clinch the Nomination Before the G.O.P. Knows if He’s a Felon” [New York Times]. “The former president’s trial is scheduled to start March 4, by which point five states are expected to have held nominating contests. The next day, March 5, is Super Tuesday, when 15 states, including delegate-rich California and Texas, plan to hold votes that will determine if any Trump challenger has enough political oxygen to remain a viable alternative. Primaries in Florida, Ohio and Illinois come two weeks later. Florida and Ohio will be the first winner-take-all contests, in which the top vote-getter statewide seizes all of the delegates rather than splitting them proportionally. Winner-take-all primaries have historically turbocharged the front-runner’s path to the presidential nomination. Mr. Trump’s federal trial, if it proceeds on its current timeline, won’t be close to finished by then. The collision course between the Republican Party’s calendar and Mr. Trump’s trial schedule is emblematic of one of the most unusual nominating contests in American history. It is a Trump-dominated clash that will define not only the course of the 2024 presidential primary but potentially the future direction of the party in an eventual post-Trump era.” • Dunno if it’s “Trump-dominated.” Who brought the charges, and who set the calendar?
“Trump’s Free Speech Runs Up Against Courtroom Decorum” [The Wall Street Journal]. “The only restriction Chutkan placed on Trump in the Washington case is a bar on discussing the case with possible witnesses. And earlier this year, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, presiding over Trump’s state case related to hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, said he wouldn’t impose a gag order on Trump even if prosecutors requested one. ‘Such restraints are the most serious’ and the least tolerable under the First Amendment, the judge said, adding: ‘That does apply doubly to Mr. Trump, because he is a candidate for the presidency of the United States.'” • So far, then, all sides are jockeying for the conflict to come. IMNSHO, conflict would benefit Trump, so he’ll do what it takes (no “guardrails”). I don’t think Trump would prefer witness intimidation*, but if that’s what it takes…. NOTE * Can a “swamp creature” really be intimidated? I doubt it. Now, if Trump intimidates any of the “contingent electors” who are to testify, that would be a different matter for me, since they’re as innocent as anybody in this mess can be.
* * *
Wait. What about my freedom? Why can’t I live my life?
— The Hill (@thehill) August 30, 2023
Yes, a hurricane is hazardous. But apparently a pandemic caused by an airborne Level 3 biohazard is not. Make it make sense. Honestly, I’m waiting for the CDC to recommend handwashing to Floridians.
* * *
“Marianne Williamson Can’t Promote Prez Campaign on TV … But Tiktok Saving the Day” [TMZ]. “Williamson has raked in over half a million followers — the most on the app compared to other candidates — and since making the switch, she’s been polling above 20% with voters under 30. If ya can’t beat ’em, go viral.” • Need a link on that polling, but given Carlson’s success on Twitter — not that I trust the actual numbers, why would I? — it makes sense that Williamson would have some success.
* * *
“Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice accuses liberal majority of staging a ‘coup'” [Associated Press]. “The conservative chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday told the new liberal majority in a scathing email that they had staged a ‘coup’ and conducted an ‘illegal experiment’ when they voted to weaken her powers and fire the director of state courts. Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, in two emails obtained by The Associated Press, said that firing and hiring a new state court director was illegal and ordered interim state court director Audrey Skwierawski to stop signing orders without her knowledge or approval. ‘You are making a mess of the judiciary, the court and the institution for years to come,’ Ziegler wrote to her fellow justices and Skwierawski. ‘This must stop. … I have no confidence in the recent hostile takeover and the chaotic effect it has had on the court, staff, and the overall stable functioning of the courts.’ Liberals gained a 4-3 majority on Aug. 1 when Justice Janet Protasiewicz began her 10-year term after winning election in April. Conservatives had held the majority for 15 years prior to that. The emails are the latest sign of broiling tensions on the court since liberals took control.” • Temper, temper! (And what the heck does “making a mess of” mean? Did I not get the memo on this new lawyerly term of art?
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.
* * *
But, if Democrats are serious about winning elections and addressing the major crises that we face, they must go further. They must embrace the working class of this country in a way which hasn’t been done in almost 60 years. It is absolutely absurd that, given the anti-worker ideology and policies of the Republican Party, that party now has more working class support than Democrats.
It should be deeply worrying that, according to recent polls, Democrats are losing more and more support within the Latino community and even among Black men. That has got to change – not just for the well-being of the Democratic Party but for the future of our country.
The Democrats, once and for all, must reject the corporate wing of the party and empower those who are prepared to create a grassroots, multi-racial, multi-generational working class party in every state in this country. Democrats, through words and action, must make it clear that they stand with a struggling working class, a disappearing middle class, and millions of low income Americans who are barely surviving.
Sanders needs to read Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal!. They would rather die as a party then take Sanders’ advice. As I wrote at the time, a small but real opening for Sanders to make this pivot personally was in 2020, right after Biden showed he was willing to infect his supporters at superspreading polling locations to make his numbers. At that time, Sanders was not only a candidate, but a movement leader, with his mailing list still active, and with some momentum (if only he had won Texas on Super Tuesday, and not just California). More to the point, the upsurge in labor activity and organizing that we still see today was already happening then. Pivoting away from electoral politics to supporting all forms of labor organizing, backed by a movement, on a national level would certainly have been greeted with opt in-level enthusiasm by a significant portion of Sanders’ mailing list; probably the only people who would have resisted seriously would have been Sanders’ idpol-addled staff, already looking for jobs with the next campaign. Instead Sanders — as indeed he warned us he would — shrank himself down to a “progressive” Democrat. Ask yourself whether the working class would have been better off during our ongoing Covid pandemic under my alternative history, or under Biden. Too bad. That opportunithy will never come again; Democrats will make sure of it.
“Covid Denialism” [Eschaton]. Quoting in full because Atrios is so terse: “Timelines get a bit jumbled in my head sometimes, but thinking through I realized if the Covid vaccine had appeared 3 months earlier, Trump could’ve taken credit for it (he still could, just too late!) and probably coasted to re-election. Would’ve wiped much of the covid denialism (and certainly the vaccine resistance) away. Instead we’re still stuck with it.” • It is indeed one of life’s little ironies that electing Trump in 2020 would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But ya know, as far as the timeline, I posted this in Water Cooler on November 9, 2020* (the election was November 3):
The third discordant note.
The Biden team was informed before the press release went out:
2) Biden team was informed last night about the Pfizer vaccine’s preliminary findings. And his team is correct in pointing out the vaccine is still months away from public availability. So until then, public health safety measures still needed. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/FQnLDmU0gX
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 9, 2020
(The Pfizer press release was time-stamped “Monday, November 09, 2020 – 06:45am”; in other words, after “last night”.) The fourth discordant note. And the fifth:
“BioNTech, Pfizer stocks soar after COVID-19 vaccine candidate achieves ‘success’ in first analysis” [MarketWatch] and “Stock futures surge, with Dow futures up 1100 points, after Pfizer vaccine news” [MarketWatch].
Lambert here: Somebody with a paranoid and suspicions disposition would be strongly reminded of remdesivir. Remdesivir was hyped in a press release, and immediately endorsed by an expert ([genuflects] Anthony Fauci), which had the effect of “ramping” (Yves’s word) Gilead’s stock, in a manner that would have permitted insiders to profit who might have been aware of Fauci’s plans before they were executed. We see the exact same pattern with Pfizer’s vaccine — only this time, anybody on or associated with Biden’s team could have profited. Why not, after all, inform the Biden team with the press release, and not before? Surely there are norms about that? Of course, remdesivir was also a damp squib, sadly albeit profitably for Gilead. One only hopes the same is not true of Pfizer, a company for which fraud is not unknown.
Oh, and either Yglesias is inhumanly wide-eyed and innocent, or he thinks this is sketchy too:
Biden released the names on his Covid task force early this morning and within an hour we had a 90% effective vaccine. Talk about building back better!https://t.co/vKEiDqObk9
— Matthew Yglesias ? (@mattyglesias) November 9, 2020
“Pfizer CEO says he would’ve released vaccine data before election if possible” [Axios]. From November 9, 2020, still germane. • So that’s alright then. Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied. Turn Atrios’ post around. Knowing what we know now about election 2020, and also knowing what we know about how Big Pharma manipulates its trials, are we really to believe that Pfizer couldn’t have manipulated its own internal timeline, such that the data to evaluate its vaccines was only available after the election?
“Pfizer CEO: Our vaccine timing had nothing to do with politics” [CNN]. From November 9, 2020. Still germane.
“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!
Censorship and Propaganda
For some definition of “mission” and “accomplished”:
Exactly this. https://t.co/mrpvb63dO3
— Conor Browne (@brownecfm) August 30, 2023
On the bright side, Social Security payouts will be going down!
“1st Canadian case of highly mutated COVID-19 virus variant BA.2.86 detected in B.C.” [CBC]. The headline is the shot. The deck is the chaser: “‘We’re not seeing more severe illness, but it is something for us to … continue to watch’: Dr. Bonnie Henry.”
“Scientists Sound the Alarm: COVID-19 Virus Is Rapidly Evolving in White-Tailed Deer” [SciTech Daily]. “New research has found that white-tailed deer across Ohio have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Alarmingly, the results also show that viral variants evolve about three times faster in deer than in humans. Scientists collected 1,522 nasal swabs from free-ranging deer in 83 of the state’s 88 counties between November 2021 and March 2022. More than 10% of the samples were positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and at least one positive case was found in 59% of the counties in which testing took place. Genomic analysis showed that at least 30 infections in deer had been introduced by humans – a figure that surprised the research team. ‘We generally talk about interspecies transmission as a rare event, but this wasn’t a huge sampling, and we’re able to document 30 spillovers. It seems to be moving between people and animals quite easily,’ said Andrew Bowman, associate professor of veterinary preventive medicine at The Ohio State University and co-senior author of the study.” • Not good for the burbs, where deer are pests.
“COVID mitigation make sense whether or not it’s a pandemic” [New York Daily News]. “one of the unfortunate upshots of the extreme politicization of public health has been the description of mitigation as all-or-nothing. Either we have shutdowns or everyone breathes directly on each other in a crowded room. In reality, we should get comfortable living somewhere in between…. That might mean pushing to reinstate government funding keeping COVID tests and boosters free after it’s largely fallen by the wayside, not because it’s a crisis, but because it’s a good investment and a way of actually preventing a crisis. It might also mean choosing as an individual to wear a mask during upticks in infections, skipping out on social events if you’re feeling sick, and pushing for employers to be more flexible about workers staying home when sick. .” Or — follow me closely here — putting on your clothes if you’re going out in public. More: “Let’s not forget that contending with COVID hasn’t produced a definitive victory but an arms race, one in which a particularly nasty emerging variant could crash through the protections we think we’ve established…. On that front, it’s good that the city continues to offer testing and vaccination for free, making it now an outlier nationally. Yet these tools are only as good as their utilization, so it’s on everyone to do their part. No one likes getting sick, after all.” • Cigarette smoking is not a matter of “choosing as an individual.” So why are “individuals” “choosing” to exhale hazardous bio-effluent into our shared air given any form of deference at all?
As readers know, CDC director Mandy Cohen recommends handwashing, but not masking, against Covid. Perhaps she’s projecting? Because her own hands are so dirty?
Given the majority of public health messaging, you'd think that the public was just a bunch of panic-prone people with filthy hands.
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) August 29, 2023
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1: “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” It seems that Lady MacBeth has a Covid symptom: parosmia. I wonder how Rochelle Walensky and Mandy Cohen sleep at night. Do the words “She has light by her continually” apply to them?
From BioBot wastewater data, August 29:
Lambert here: Happy memories of tape-watching days! A flattening curve?
Regional data. As we can see, the national flattening is due to the Midwest downward swoop:
I’m a little mistrustful of that Midwestern data. I don’t know why the Midwest would be flattening, and the rest of the country not. (At this point, let us remember that depressives are the only personality type that accurately assesses risk, and that introverts make good actuaries.) So I expanded the regional chart to a year:
So the discrepancy we see in the six-month chart is not unknown. (I also noticed what I should have noticed before, that all the peaks, whether under Donald, the First of His Name, or Biden, are in the Northeast. This is case counts, not deaths, but it does tend to throw cold water on the idea that Covid’s continued prevalence is due to those darned Red States and their vaccine refusal.
Anyhow, it did occur to me that Illinois held in fief by J.D. Pritzker, a man who’d grab the Presidency like a fistful of donuts if offered, but who for that very reason needs to look more loyal than loyal, so I looked at Illinois wastewater in the last fifteen days:
No gaming here that I can see. Not enough lower-case b blue. And the national map:
Plenty of blue in Michigan, but is Michigan really enough to turn the national tide? Midwest readers, what do you see?
NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 19:
From CDC, August 5:
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
From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, August 26:
Lambert here: I changed this ER chart to a Covid-only chart broken down by age. Note the highlighting.
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 Bellwether New York City, data as of August 29:
Still getting worse. But how much worse? I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.
NOT UPDATED Here is CDC’s map…. “In Past Week,” because there’s no [family blogging date]:
Orange = “substantial increase” (more than 20%). The cadence: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates Mondays and Thursdays by 8 p.m. ET.” So apparently, on Friday, I have to compare the map here with the one on the CDC site to see if the update has, in fact, been performed. Why are they making me think?
NOT UPDATED Walgreens, August 28:
So, Walgreens is back in the game (and how the heck did that debacle happen? We breathlessly await the news coverage). The percentage of positives is the highest ever, though absolute numbers are still small relative to past surges.
NEW Cleveland Clinic, August 26:
Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good, and we’re starved for data, so….
NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 7:
Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data, confirming the current surge, only two weeks late. Sure would be useful to know if there were any BA.2.86 in those samples, though!
NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, August 23:
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: 1,173,448 – 1,173,422 –
1,173,081 = 26. 26 * 365 = 9,490 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 29:
Lambert here: Back to almost daily. 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. )
Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 177 thousand workers in August 2023, the least in five months, missing market expectations of a 195 thousand rise and following an upwardly revised 371 thousand increase in July.}
Travel: “How The Steep Decline In Chinese Tourists Will Cost The U.S. More Than $20 Billion” [Forbes]. “‘Before Covid,’ Raimondo said, ‘as many as three million Chinese travelers visited the United States annually, contributing more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy.’ In 2019, 2.8 million Chinese visitors accounted for only 4% of all inbound foreign travelers to the U.S., yet they accounted for 13% of spending. This year, fewer than 850,000 Chinese will travel here, according to the National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO), the agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that tracks tourism statistics. That 68% drop in traveler volume translates to more than $20 billion that Chinese visitors will not spend in the U.S. this year. Three months after the official end of the pandemic, the U.S. tourism industry is still in recovery mode. Before Covid, 79.4 million international visitors to the U.S. injected roughly $239 billion into the national economy, accounting for nearly 10% of America’s total exports and services. In 2023, the U.S. expects to welcome 62.8 million foreign visitors–a 21% year-over-year jump but still 21% below pre-Covid numbers. Inbound travel volume to the U.S. is not expected to hit pre-pandemic levels until 2025.” • Just in time for the next airborne pathogen.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 50 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 30 at 2:02 PM ET. C’mon, Mr. Market! One way or the other!
Material reality (1):
— Claude Monet (@artistmonet) August 30, 2023
Material reality (2):
LS Lowry, 'Going to Work (Factory workers going to work at the Mather & Platt, Manchester, in the snow)' (1943) pic.twitter.com/rYTijn0L3Z
— Christopher 🎶💃✊🏻🕺🎨 (@ChriXCoenen) August 17, 2023
Lowry looks like a detective at the scene of a crime:
LS Lowry on a note-taking expedition around Manchester, April 1958, by Frank Martin. pic.twitter.com/AQunbLeFyA
— Brian Groom (@GroomB) January 12, 2023
As indeed he is: The crime is social murder.
“Amazon CEO reportedly tells remote workers ‘it’s probably not going to work out for you'” [MarketWatch]. “Earlier this year, Amazon asked all of its workers to return to the office at least three days a week by May 1. That sparked a vocal backlash from employees, including a walkout in May. The situation was exacerbated in July, when Amazon warned that some employees may be forced to relocate to the company’s main offices in big cities. ‘It’s past the time to disagree and commit,’ [Chief Executive Andy Jassy] said in a recent staff meeting, according to Insider, which cited a recording it obtained. ‘And if you can’t disagree and commit, I also understand that, but it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week, and it’s not right for all of our teammates to be in three days a week and for people to refuse to do so.'” • He seems nice. How’s the ventilation, Andy? Sure, Amazon offices are hellholes, but are they also death traps?
News of the Wired
“A DIY ‘bionic pancreas’ is changing diabetes care — what’s next?” [Nature]. “What they wanted was automation — an algorithm that would analyse glucose data and program the pump itself. Coalescing around this aim in 2013, the community debuted a hashtag: #WeAreNotWaiting. Then, in February 2015, group member Dana Lewis shared the code for an algorithm that she and two collaborators had developed and tested. ‘We didn’t set out do to anything big,’ says Lewis, now an independent researcher in Seattle, Washington. But soon, people who had downloaded and used the algorithm shared their personal experiences and gave feedback. When users suggested tweaks and potential improvements, others tried them and reported back. Katarina Braune, an endocrinologist at Charité – Berlin University Medicine, estimates that around 30,000 people now use open-source technology for automated insulin delivery (AID). Some use Lewis and colleagues’ original OpenAPS system, which requires a minicomputer to control it, whereas others use either AndroidAPS (which evolved from Lewis’ system) or Loop, which are smartphone applications.” • Wow!
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 TH:
TH writes: “It looked fine when I took it… but now I’m seeing how taking this photo at the angle I did has made for some keystoning that has me wondering if I could have straightened any of those lines in editing, or if to straighten one would send others careening. I’m seeing how taking this photo at the angle I did has made for some keystoning that has me wondering if I could have straightened any of those lines in editing, or if to straighten one would send others careening. I like that this nursery (Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona Del Mar, California) has uniquely employed this cabinet as both shelf (drawer), and shade (cupboard)… and then, I always love a splash of multi-hued hydrangea flowers.” Well, my angle on everything is pretty skewed, so perhaps I’m not the best judge. Readers?
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!