By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Eastern Meadowlark (Eastern), Gettysburg National Battlefield, Adams, Pennsylvania, United States.
Look for the Helpers
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!
“Ozark Electric linemen help rescue kittens living inside the base of a transformer in Fayetteville” [KFSM (SV)]. “A family of cats living inside the base of a transformer was rescued by two linemen in Fayetteville on the evening of August 3. NWA Community Cat Project volunteers called Ozark Electric Cooperative for help saving the kittens. The company then sent Jacob and Bobby, two linemen, who were able to safely rescue the kittens. The mother was also trapped by volunteers. The family is now living in a foster home.” • Photo accompanies:
The helpers here are the unnamed people who spotted the cats, then the NWAC volunteers, then the lineman (making the “hero” headline not only deceptive but not really interesting). NOTE: For this section, I’m looking for examples of helpers who don’t fit into existing categories (or on-going stories we already track). Clara-the-borscht maker yesterday and today’s cat rescue epic certainly don’t do that. I’m still feeling my way on this concept, and granted we started with a cute kid and then a kitten, but it’s the helping that matters. Please send me more!
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“A day of legal action in Trump imbroglio previews a chaotic 2024 election year” [CNN]. “It’s already almost impossible for voters who may be asked to decide whether Trump is fit for a return to the Oval Office – or at least to carry the GOP banner into the election – to keep pace with all the competing legal twists and the scale of his plight. A confusing fog in which all the cases blend together could work to the former president’s advantage as he seeks a White House comeback while proclaiming he’s a victim of political persecution by the Biden administration. But the deeper his legal mire gets, Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination are getting braver in suggesting that his fight against becoming a convicted felon could be a general election liability. Trump’s dominance in the GOP primary has been boosted from his criminal indictments to date. But the sheer volume of cases unfolding alongside his campaign is increasingly daunting.” And: “All of this frenzied activity unfolding on one day represents just a snapshot of the complex legal morass now surrounding Trump. It’s just a taste of the enormous strain the ex-president is about to feel as he campaigns for a return to the Oval Office. . Already, Trump’s leadership PAC has been diverting cash raised from small-dollar donors to pay legal fees for the former president and associates that might instead have gone toward the 2024 campaign.” • That being the point.
* * *
“DeSantis Has Discovered No One Likes a Copycat” [Politico]. “Like their cousins in commerce, [DeSantis campaign strategists] studied the leading brand in their market — Donald Trump — and then devoted themselves to 1) imitating him, and 2) expanding on what he does…. Like something conjured in a mirror, DeSantis copies every political stance and gesture Trump has made in the past eight years. But instead of supplanting Trump in the minds of the Republican base, the Florida governor appears to be fading…. Why doesn’t DeSantis’ me-too act generate greater appeal to Republican voters?…. There is only one god in the party, and as long as Trump is on the ballot and demanding fealty, Republican voters will have no god before him. Why praise an imitator when you can have the real thing? That’s the state of Republican fundamentalism today. It’s Trump on top. Trump underneath. And Trump all the way down.”
“DeSantis Says Trump Rigged the 2020 Election for Biden” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “The Florida governor’s new departure is to blame Trump rather than the evil Democrats for the alleged voting irregularities that made the election suspect: ‘[H]ere’s the issue that I think is important for Republican voters to think about: ,’ DeSantis said, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. ‘They embraced lockdowns. They did the CARES Act, which funded mail-in ballots across the country.’ So there you have it: DeSantis is suggesting that Trump is as much a perpetrator as a victim of the rigged election of 2020. Not only does this provide an elegant solution to the problem of validating stolen-election schemes without exonerating Trump, but it also nicely meshes with DeSantis’s strategy of running to Trump’s right. Trump’s alleged empowerment of devil figure Anthony Fauci has been one of DeSantis’s most consistent targets.” • Wowsers.
“DeSantis replaces campaign manager in latest shake-up” [Politico]. “Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager Generra Peck, in what is the third major reshuffling of his operations, a campaign spokesperson and a person familiar with the move confirmed to POLITICO. Peck will be shifted to a role of chief strategist as part of the new order. Taking her place atop the campaign will be James Uthmeier, who has served as chief of staff in DeSantis’ governor’s office. In a text message, Uthmeier said the change was happening ‘ASAP.’ , even after the team shed a third of its staffers amid a budget crunch and concern about the direction of the operation. The governor’s team pledged to scale back, build an insurgent operation, and do more mainstream media outreach. They’ve done all that. But the results have yet to be reflected in the polls.” • Ah, the dreaded vote of confidence!
* * *
Ramaswamy asking for my vote:
Vivek Ramaswamy: “”We live in an era of the noble lie. The so-called lie that the government tells to its people because it believes the people can’t handle the truth…The government does not trust the people to select their leaders.”” pic.twitter.com/wYtoZfr6WX
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) August 3, 2023
Fact: the climate disaster death rate has *declined* by 98% over the last century, even as carbon emissions have risen. The average person is 50X less likely to die of a climate-related cause than in 1920. Why? Fossil fuels. An inconvenient truth for the climate cult. pic.twitter.com/nJJRDmwIlF
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) August 7, 2023
He’s a loonie.
* * *
“Democrats Are Handling the Hunter Biden Story Wrong” [The Bulwark]. “Biden’s role as ‘the good father’ is embedded in the national psyche, reinforced by his public devotion to and defense of Hunter. Josh Barro, a Democrat who left the GOP in 2016, sees that devotion in a dark, depressing light. ‘To love Hunter Biden is to expose yourself to being used and abused,’ he writes. He says Hunter has wreaked ’emotional terrorism’ on his family ‘as they have struggled to keep him alive and sober.’… The Biden family has made its choices out of love. But strictly from a political standpoint, the pattern is dangerous…. Veteran Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik says in his latest campaign memo, the White House staff must have ‘the authority to manage’ the president’s son. Otherwise, ‘Hunter could become a serious campaign liability. It is inexplicable how Hunter has been allowed to parade around White House State dinners and fly so conspicuously on Air Force One.’ The Hunter problem is going to take an ’emotional toll’ on the Bidens no matter what, Sosnik writes. I think he’s right. It will hurt them when his troubles make news. It will hurt them to exclude him in order to avoid even more public notice. These are tough family decisions, yet Joe Biden has a higher duty right now, a duty to his country. One hopes an adult child, even a troubled one, will understand that and be secure enough in his father’s love to do what he must: fade from the spotlight as much as is possible, and let his father do what he must: win a do-or-die referendum on America’s future.” • How on earth can this person have insight into the Bidens’ family dynamics?
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 New York City mayor is having his Aaron Judge year after all. And it’s not good.” [Politico]. “Adams — not unlike the Yankees captain, who was sidelined by a toe injury in June and July — has struggled all summer. There is a law enforcement investigation into a former member of his administration. There’s a looming federal takeover of city jails. The City Council overrode his veto of affordable housing bills. And now migrants are sleeping on sidewalks in Manhattan as a crisis over their arrivals grows worse. The nonstop hits call into question Adams’ depiction of himself as a strong executive who is running the nation’s largest city competently after years of mismanagement. And if the problems continue to spiral, Adams could have what every New York City leader fears most — a one-term mayoralty. ‘It has been a difficult couple of months,’ Basil Smikle, the former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, said in a phone interview. ‘He needs some victories. He really needs some ways to change the conversation.’ A high-ranking Adams administration official put it more bluntly. ‘Horrible,’ said the official about the mayor’s recent troubles. The official was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the boss.” • What a waste. The cop with the million-watt smile implodes….
Realignment and Legitimacy
“An airplane pilot went viral for scolding his passengers—Harvard expert says it’s great leadership: ‘Bravo'” [CNBC]. “‘I say bravo to the American Airlines pilot. He has every right to do that. He’s the captain of the flight, and he’s in charge of what happens,’ Bill George, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School and author of ‘True North: Emerging Leader Edition,’ tells CNBC Make It. ‘If something goes wrong, he has the obligation to go back to the nearest airport and land … and no passenger likes that.’ In the video, which started circulating last week, the pilot set some ground rules for his passengers — including what they should expect from their flight attendants, and how they should treat each other during the journey.” The key passage: “[The flight attendants are] going to take care of you guys but you will listen to what they have to say because .” • There’s a word for that. Something to do with leaders, which explains why the Harvard dude is so enthusiastic. I know it’ll come to me….
“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
“Teaching a Graduate-level Research Methodology Course with Comprehensive COVID-19 Precautions: Implications for Safety Knowledge, Attitudes, Behavior, and Inclusivity” (preprint) [Research Square]. N = 11. From the Abstract: “University instructors experience uncertainty regarding how to teach in person in effective, safe, and health-inclusive ways during periods of high COVID-19 transmission. This article provides a blueprint for implementing proven COVID-19 safety precautions based on a small graduate-level health psychology research methods course in 2023.” And the Results: “COVID-19 safety knowledge increased from 55.5% at baseline to 93.6% and 87.3% at post-test and follow-up, ps < .001. Students masked better (72.7%), promoted improved indoor air quality (90.9%), changed testing strategies (45.5%), manage risk (27.3%), to understand Long COVID (54.5%), and rated the course as more health-inclusive than their other courses (100%). Course evaluations were highly favorable, with 89.3% of all ratings and 96.4% of target ratings as at least a 4 out of 5.” • I do think layered protection shouldn’t need a graduate-level course, but perhaps that’s where we as a society are. I also think that leveraging the entire “preprint” apparatus for a course description is novel and interesting. And probably useful.
“They were handing out free masks outside an Albuquerque hospital. Then security stepped in” [Source NM]. The deck: “New mutual aid network distributing thousands of masks, want health care settings to keep or return masking safety measures.” And: “They held signs that read, ‘FREE MASKS,’ ‘Life-saving masks here,’ and ‘Keep masks in health care.’ In about one hour, they handed out 675 free high-filtration masks to patients, health care workers and visitors going to and from the hospital…. Some people declined the free mask. One nurse who works at the hospital gratefully took some, and said she would distribute them to her coworkers inside Presbyterian. … Everything was going smoothly for the mutual aid group until about 2:20 p.m., when two hospital security guards pulled up in a truck, got out and asked the group to leave. One of the guards told Source NM that Presbyterian Hospital doesn’t have a policy prohibiting mask distribution, but does prohibit gathering on the property if someone has no business inside the hospital. ‘They don’t want solicitors,’ the guard told the group. ‘And I know you guys aren’t selling anything, you’re just giving out masks which, I don’t see a problem with that — I don’t see why anyone else would — but it’s just how our policy works.’ In response to questions from Source NM about the group giving away free masks, Dionne Cruz Miller, chief hospital executive at Presbyterian Hospital, said on Monday the hospital system doesn’t allow ‘vendors’ to hand out anything on any of their campuses without approval. .” • lol.
“KISS took Vancouver firm’s treatment to avoid COVID and cancelling world tour: manager” [Vancouver Sun]. “Members of the band KISS used a little-known treatment created by a Vancouver biomedical company to avoid getting COVID-19 and cancelling their farewell world tour after lead singer Paul Stanley tested positive for the virus, their manager says…. The company McGhee called was Vancouver-based Ondine Biomedical, which created Steriwave, a technology that involves putting a disinfecting liquid into the nose and then activating it with lights attached to probes to kill viruses lurking in the respiratory system. It has been used by Vancouver General Hospital to reduce infections in surgery patients for more than 11 years. A study released last Thursday showed the use of this ‘nasal photodisinfection’ at Ottawa Hospital reduced the length of patients’ hospital stays, readmissions and antibiotic use.” • See Water Cooler July 28 for more on Ondine Biomedical. Interesting!
Immune System Dysregulation
“SARS-CoV-2 Uses CD4 to Infect T Helper Lymphocytes” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Brazilian study. “The mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 infection may result in immune system dysfunction is still not fully understood. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2 infects human CD4+ T helper cells, but not CD8+ T cells, and is present in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage T helper cells of severe COVID-19 patients. We demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S) directly binds to the CD4 molecule, which in turn mediates the entry of SARS-CoV-2 in T helper cells. This leads to impaired CD4 T cell function and may cause cell death. SARS-CoV-2-infected T helper cells express higher levels of IL-10, which is associated with viral persistence and disease severity. Thus, CD4-mediated SARS-CoV-2 infection of T helper cells may contribute to a poor immune response in COVID-19 patients.” • Oh.
Testing and Tracking
“A covid uptick is here. Good luck finding a free test.” [WaPo]. “The Biden administration stopped mailing test kits to households in June. The ones Americans stockpiled over the last year and a half are expiring. Major insurers no longer pay for over-the-counter tests once the requirement to do so ended with the emergency declaration. As a result, those who still factor covid into their daily lives are weighing whether it’s worth roughly $12 to test for every sniffle and scratchy throat and every visit to grandma. The costs quickly add up for larger families and for people who’ve contracted covid by following federal guidelines to test repeatedly to end isolation and masking.” • “People intent on protecting others?” What’s wrong with them?
“Influence of Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection on COVID-19 Severity: Evidence from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative” (preprint) [medRxiv]. N = 7,446,481. From the Abtract: “Overall, prior infection was associated with a significant slightly elevated risk of severe disease. This effect varied month to month. As the pandemic proceeded, the effect of prior infection tended to evolve from generally protective during the pre-Omicron era to unprotective during the Omicron era. This points to the need for continued strategies to avert and minimize the harms of COVID-19, rather than relying upon immunity acquired through previous infection.” • Commentary: “While the study design can’t assess reinfections prevented by immunity, it blows a hole in the hull of the ‘hybrid immunity’ party boat.”
“Efficacy of three antimicrobial mouthwashes in reducing SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva of hospitalized patients: a randomized controlled pilot study” [Nature]. Pilot study, N = 40. From the Abstract: “Group 1—0.2% Chlorhexidine digluconate (CHX); Group 2—1.5% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2); Group 3—Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) or Group 4 (control group)—No rinsing.” And: “Although a reduction in the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva of COVID-19 patients was observed after rinsing with mouthwashes containing 0.2% CHX, 1.5% H2O2, or CPC, the reduction detected was similar to that achieved by the control group at the investigated time points. The findings of this study may suggest that the mechanical action of rinsing/spitting results in reduction of SARS-CoV-2 salivary load.” • Interesting! I’d sure like to have seen something more mainstream compared to CPC, like alchohol and Eucalyptol (Listerine), and Povidone Iodine. In any case, in real life, since the cost of mouthwashes is so low, I don’t see a reason not to choose which mouthwash to use based on one’s own concept of a reasonable mechanism. Also in real life, or at least in my life, I know I’m a lot more likely to unscrew the cap on a bottle of mouthwash as part of my protocol, then I am simply to rinse and spit, because there’s a visual trigger (and speculating, perhaps even spending a small amount of money on the mouthwash invests me in the process). Readers?
Science Is Popping
“Evidence for Aerosol Transfer of SARS-CoV-2–Specific Humoral Immunity” [ImmunoHorizons]. The Abstract: “Infectious particles can be shared through aerosols and droplets formed as the result of normal respiration. Whether Abs within the nasal/oral fluids can similarly be shared between hosts has not been investigated. The circumstances of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic facilitated a unique opportunity to fully examine this provocative idea. The data we show from human nasal swabs provides evidence for the aerosol transfer of Abs between immune and nonimmune hosts.” • Hmm….
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.
National Nurses United on HICPAC:
This @CDCgov committee wants to WEAKEN infection control guidance. Yes — you read that right. Weaken.
Here is what’s at risk for nurses and patients. pic.twitter.com/A2z1NUEWVO
— NationalNursesUnited (@NationalNurses) August 7, 2023
Every time I read a story like this, and I read a lot of them, I want to write a letter to Biden and Cohen (once Walensky), thanking them for having put us in this position:
“Lessons from COVID-19 Can Help the U.S. Prepare for the Next Pandemic” [Commonwealth Fund]. “The pandemic revealed major fault lines of socioeconomic and racial disparities. Black, Hispanic, and Native American people experienced substantially higher death rates than their white counterparts, even when accounting for differences in age and underlying comorbidities. Racial disparities were evident within the first year of the pandemic and were subsequently exacerbated by differences in vaccine uptake. We must take concrete steps to address racial disparities in health outcomes, including measuring disparities, diversifying the health care workforce, and rebuilding trust between government and communities at risk.” • No mention of the working class as such, naturally. And “communities at risk” carefully erases class and replaces it with idpol. Anyhow, pious hopes. Look at the patheric Operation NextGen.
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, August 7:
Lambert here: We have now surpassed the second peak (#2), of the previous Covid pandemic infection peaks. 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! I wonder which of the previous peaks (#1, #3, or #4) we’ll surpass next. A curious fact: All of Biden’s peaks are all higher than Trump’s peaks. Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders! Musical interlude.
Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.
Regional variant data:
EG.5 (the orange pie slice) still seems evenly distributed.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 5:
Lambert here: EG.5 at the top of the leaderboard (after waiting two weeks ffs). EG.5 is big in Japan:
As far as we can tell, in Japan it's mostly Eris (EG.5.1*) and Arcturus (XBB.1.16*) there. There's nothing super notable about either of those, and they're already found elsewhere, so it's not at all clear that the surge in hospitalizations is variant-driven per se in Japan. pic.twitter.com/pYEm2jHAe1
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) August 1, 2023
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, July 29:
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 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.)
NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 17:
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 2:
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: 1,170,784 –
1,170,781 = 782 (3 * 365 = 1095 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: This is now being updated daily. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )
Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States increased for a third consecutive month to 91.9 in July 2023, a fresh high since November last year, beating again market expectations of 90.6. Twenty-one percent of business owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, down three points from June. Also, owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved 10 points from June to a net negative 30%, the highest reading since August 2021; and the percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased four points to a net 25%.”
Banking: “Banks hit with $549 million in fines for use of Signal, WhatsApp to evade regulators” [CNBC]. “U.S. regulators on Tuesday announced a combined $549 million in penalties against Wall Street firms that failed to maintain electronic records of employee communications. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against 11 firms for “”widespread and longstanding failures”” to maintain records, including by allowing employees to use unsupervised side channels such as messaging apps WhatsApp and Signal, the regulator said. Wells Fargo was the biggest U.S. bank cited Tuesday in the sweeping actions.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 8 at 1:50 PM ET.
If the aliens landed and turned out to be art collectors, which would they prefer? This:
— Pablo Picasso (@pablocubist) August 8, 2023
Diego Velázquez – Las Meninas pic.twitter.com/VeUFinLJXL
— Art Gallery (@Best_ArtGallery) August 4, 2023
“Authors Reject New Literary Database” [Today in Books]. “We are going to need some court to rule on what counts as fair use when it comes to AI, LLMs, and copyrighted work. Fast. The latest accelerant is called Prosecraft, and it bills itself as the first large linguistic database for literature. It has sucked in the work of more than 12,000 authors so that it can spit about speciously useful info like how “”vivid”” something is. It also says it can analyze passive voice, but whoever made this doesn’t know what passive voice actually is. And how are authors whose work has been fed into this thing feeling about it? Not terribly enthused.” • Outright theft, to produce bullshit, wrecking the livelihoods of producers. That’s AI in a nutshell. Silicon Valley, too.
Well, now we know why the SIlicon Valley timeline is so stupid:
Monitoring your staff while they sleep at night is fucking wild pic.twitter.com/AnEVXZO1Ft
— The State of LinkedIn (@StateOfLinkedIn) August 8, 2023
Cf. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s management principles:
I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.
Which officers are these lunatics selecting for?
“Amazon Says It Doesn’t ‘Employ’ Drivers, But Records Show It Hired Firms to Prevent Them From Unionizing” [Vice]. “Amazon hired at least two union-busting consulting firms specifically to prevent its drivers from joining the International Brotherhood of Teamsters over the course of 2022, according to six reports filed to the Department of Labor and ob’tained by Motherboard. This is notable because Amazon claims that the drivers who deliver its packages are not its employees. Motherboard reviewed five reports filed to the Department of Labor, which showed that Amazon spent more than $14.2 million total on anti-union consulting in 2022. Of that, $160,595 went to Optimal Employee Relations and Action Resources, who, on their own reports, specifically referred to ‘drivers’ as the target group of their persuasion. Amazon and the contractors it hired are required to file these reports with the government each year. Amazon’s filing references nine contractors hired throughout 2022.” • ” Optimal Employee Relations.” I love it!
“‘Lazy girl jobs’ reflects Gen Z’s work anxieties” [Axios]. “TikTok videos under the ‘lazy girl job’ hashtag — coined by 26-year-old Gabrielle Judge— have amassed more than 17 million views, often featuring women at their desks discussing the benefits of their office jobs. A ‘lazy girl job’ could help employees achieve better work-life balance, Judge told Axios, adding that the idea has gotten people ‘reflecting on their relationship with work.’
She defines this kind of job as one that can be ‘quiet quit,’ is physically safe, and offers flexible hours, remote work, and what she calls ‘comfortable salaries’ of $60,000 to $80,000. Examples include marketing associate and account manager roles, according to Judge.”
“America’s white majority is aging out” [The Hill]. But: “By 2045, according to census projections, non-Hispanic white people will fall below 50 percent as a share of the American population. By 2050, non-Hispanic white people will represent less than 40 percent of the under-18 population. Demographers warn, however, that those milestones vastly oversimplify the story of a diversifying America. For a start, millions of Americans no longer embrace a single racial identity. How many? It’s hard to tell…. Getting back to those census projections: By 2045, more than 18 million people will claim two or more races. Subtract them from the total, and the population of non-Hispanic white people leaps from 49 percent to 52 percent of the remaining population, their majority status restored. ‘Whites are going to be the largest group in this country for a long time,’ said Richard Alba, distinguished professor emeritus in sociology at the City University of New York. ‘In a sense, we’re forming a new kind of mainstream society here, which is going to be very diverse. But whites are going to be a big part of that. It’s not like they’re going to disappear and be supplanted.’ Alba argues that the census itself is ‘locked into a way of thinking that dates to the 20th century, and that’s the idea that people are only one thing when it comes to ethnicity and race.'”
News of the Wired
“Is Google Making Us Stupid?” [The Atlantic]. From 2008, still germane: “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. .” • Absolutely true for me. Readers?
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 SR.
SR writes: “Glamour Gal hibiscus bloom. That’s the name! My phone doesn’t capture the dusky orange pink….”
SR writes: “Glamour gal bloom 4 hours later.”
The color seems to be fine now!
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!