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Patient readers, maybe there really is something to this Mercury-in-retrograde woo woo. The shop replaced my borked screen with a screen that was itself borked. So I wait another day. And my espresso machine failed [snarl]. –lambert
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Mountain Chiffchaff (Caucasian) Ikizdere; Sivri Kaya, Rize, Türkiye. “One bird trapped and photographed; singing from 50cm high bush of beech scrub (Fagus) near snow limiit.” Not sure what the white noise is; I’m picturing a mountain waterfall.
“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
“Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Kick Trump Off Ballot” [Newsweek]. “The legal debate about whether or not former President Donald Trump should be allowed to appear on the 2024 ballot has made its way before the Supreme Court. The court distributed John Castro v. Donald Trump to the justices for conference on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming term, which will begin on October 2. Conference is to take place on September 26 and the case is expected to be decided on or before October 9. Castro, a tax attorney running for the Republican nomination next year, sent his petition to the Supreme Court last month, asking the justices to answer whether political candidates can challenge the eligibility of another candidate of the same party running for the same nomination ‘based on a political competitive injury in the form a diminution of votes.'” Sounds novel. More: “The lawsuit is seeking to argue that Trump should not be allowed to run for the White House based on section three of the 14th Amendment… Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani previously told Newsweek that it’s unlikely for the justices to side with Castro since Trump has yet to be charged or convicted of insurrection and rebellion. ‘A conviction is not required under the plain language of the Constitution, but it’s telling that even those prosecuting Trump don’t believe that there is enough evidence to convict him or insurrection or sedition,’ Rahmani said.” The headline is a little deceptive, since it assumes Castro already has standing. Here is his theory: “Castro, however, argues that his case would have enough standing [whatever that means] because since he is also running for the Republican nomination.” • The theory that one candiate can inflict a “competitive injury” on another seems like a Pandora’s box, to me; one that the Court would need very good reason to open. If I were a Supreme Court justice, I’d deep six Castro and wait for a clean case brought against an election official acting on Baude and Paulen’s theory (below). And maybe stuff Baude and Paulen back in their casket and nail the lid shut, so they don’t keep popping up through 2024.
“It’s time for Chris Christie to sue Donald Trump” [Hayes Brown, MSNBC]. Same theory as above. From August 26: “Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern and Yale and co-founder of The Federalist Society, has suggested that a candidate, specifically Christie, take the lead: ‘,’ Calabresi wrote this month in The Volokh Conspiracy, a libertarian-leaning legal blog. ‘They draw from some similar voters. Christie should sue, if necessary, to get Trump’s name off the ballot.’ I’d expand Calabresi’s call for Christie to sue to include Hutchinson as well, especially since he seems to be well aware of the arguments in favor of Trump’s disqualification. From there, the case is likely to rocket up to the Supreme Court….” • As it did, so good call (which says nothing on the merits).
“Does Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment Disqualify Trump?” [Cato]. “[N]o one should assume that just because Baude and Paulsen have made a powerful intellectual case for their originalist reading, that the Supreme Court will declare itself convinced and disqualify Trump. Justice Antonin Scalia memorably described himself as a ‘faint‐hearted originalist,’ which captures something important about the thinking of almost every Justice—if overruling a wrongly decided old case threatens to disrupt settled expectations to the point of spreading chaos and grief through society, most of them will refrain. Stare decisis, and a general preference for continuity in law, still matters.”
“Could the 14th Amendment keep Trump off the ballot in 2024?” [WaPo]. This is actually a good wrap-up. “In the traditionally first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) has asked the state’s attorney general to examine the issue and its potential applicability in the upcoming presidential election…. In the battleground state of Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) recently said “there are valid legal arguments being made” for keeping the former president off the ballot and that it’s something she is discussing with election officials in other states. In a recent interview with MSNBC, she said states will ‘likely need to act in concert, if we act at all’ regarding the constitutional challenges and predicted the issue will ultimately be settled in courts…. In Arizona, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) has said that he does not have the authority to bar Trump from the ballot, but that the question about Trump’s eligibility is not settled. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said when asked about Trump and the 14th Amendment that voters ‘deserve the right to decide elections.'” • Interesting that Benson wants to join hands with other Democrats so they can jump off the cliff together. I wonder if anybody is orchestrating that effort.
“Is the President an ‘Officer of the United States’ for Purposes of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment?” [Josh Blackman & Seth Barrett Tillman, NYU Journal of Law & Liberty]. Student edited; from 2021 (!). Section 3 says that “No person shall… hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, who who, having previously taken an oath,
as a member of Congress, or , or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state,to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection….” I crossed out the parts not relevant to Trump. Raising the question: Is the President an “an officer of the United States”? The authors argue no: “Part I will contend that the phrases ‘officer of the United States’ and ‘office . . . under the United States’ in Section 3 refer to different categories of positions. Part II will analyze the phrase ‘officer of the United States,’ which is used in the Constitution of 1788 and in Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Part III will show that the meaning of the phrase ‘officer of the United States’ did not drift from 1788 through 1868. In both eras, there is substantial evidence that the President was not considered an ‘officer of the United States.’ Part IV will recount longstanding Executive Branch opinions, which affirmed that elected officials like the President are not ‘officers of the United States.’ Part V will respond to recent arguments suggesting that the President is an ‘officer of the United States’ for purposes of Section 3. Part VI will chart how the courts, and not Congress, will likely have the final say about whether President Trump is subject to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.” • Totally just throwing this one out there. Perhaps someone with more legal expertise than I have can comment. * * *
“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), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.
“Thanks to Biden, the War Party is back” [Responsible Statecraft]. “As Robert Kagan, Nuland’s husband and leading neo-conservative pundit, puts it, ‘Superpowers don’t get to retire.’ Kagan asserts baldly what this crew believes: ‘The time has come to tell Americans that there is no escape from global responsibility…the task of maintaining a world order is unending and fraught with costs but preferable to the alternative.’ In reality, the time has come for a brutally honest assessment of the growing costs and increasing perils that come from the militarization of our foreign policy and the relentless effort to police the world. As the Quincy Institute’s Andrew Bachevich puts it, ‘Our actual predicament derives from the less than honest claim that history obliges the United States to pursue a policy of militarized hegemony until the end of time. Alternatives do exist.’ Unfortunately the Biden administration appears committed to the war party’s failed playbook of the past, and the rising costs of a global policy we neither need nor can afford.”
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Fani Willis lays out criminal case against false electors” [Politico]. Or, as we say, “contingent electors” (at least in orginal expression). Lots of detail, worth reading in full. “On Dec. 14, 2020, the day presidential electors across the nation were required to meet and cast their votes, thereby affirming Joe Biden’s victory, dozens of Trump allies in seven states where Biden was the certified winner convened their own mock elector ceremonies, signing petitions claiming to be legitimate presidential electors and subsequently delivering them to Congress…. Shawn Still, Cathleen Latham and David Shafer — the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party — were among the Trump allies who signed the false documents in Georgia, and they’ve been charged as part of a sprawling racketeering conspiracy aimed at subverting Georgia’s 2020 election. They’re also charged with false statements, forgery and other related charges. In recent court filings, all three have argued that they believed they were doing Trump’s bidding when they signed the false documents, pointing to the fact that Trump sent a campaign attorney to their Dec. 14 meeting who urged them to sign the documents to keep Trump’s election hopes alive. That attorney, Ray Smith, is also charged in the alleged conspiracy. The false Georgia electors are attempting to “remove” their criminal cases to federal court, where they could attempt to argue that they are immune from the state charges. At the heart of their argument is the claim that they acted at Trump’s behest — and, therefore, became appendages of the federal government. Federal law permits those acting as federal ‘officers’ to remove their cases to federal court if they’re charged with actions that relate to their official responsibilities.”
“Could a New Georgia Law Defeat Fani Willis Before She Tries Trump?” [New York Sun]. “Georgia’s law launched on July 1 and will begin to field complaints on October 1, just months before President Trump and 18 other defendants will stand trial at a Fulton County courthouse…. The push to oust Ms. Willis, who is prosecuting Mr. Trump and 18 others for alleged efforts in Georgia to overturn the 2020 election, is emerging as a sidebar to her stewardship of the case, still in its early days. Governor Kemp at a press conference called the impeachment of Ms. Willis ‘political theater that only inflames the emotions of the moment.’ The governor added that a special session devoted to removing Ms. Wilis “would ignore current Georgia law and directly interfere with the proceedings of a separate but equal branch of government.” He added that the ‘bottom line is that in the state of Georgia, as long as I’m governor, we’re going to follow the law and the Constitution, regardless of who[m] it helps or harms politically.’ In May at the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, though, Mr. Kemp signed into law a measure called S.B. 92. The law creates an eight-member ‘Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission.’… Three of those members are designated as ‘investigators,’ and three are assigned to serve as a ‘hearing panel.’ The commission possesses the ‘power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of appointed or elected district attorneys or solicitors-general.’ One state lawmaker, Steven Dixon, has already promised to file a complaint against Ms. Willis for her indictment of Mr. Trump…. The committee members are to be appointed by the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of Georgia’s House of Representatives, all Republicans. All three of those who have been appointed so far have been district attorneys, like Ms. Willis, suggesting that they could be empathetic toward her exercise of discretion.” • Shark-infested waters. Including Willis herself, I might add.
“Deer leader?” (letter to the editor) [Valley News]. “When I’m driving, and a deer passes in front of my car, I don’t look at the deer; I look in direction it came from, to see if there are other deer following behind it. Former President Trump has been indicted on several fronts with more to come. The real question is not whether he’s convicted; it’s whether there is enough time before the election in 2024 to find him guilty of a crime that rises to the level of a offense against the Constitution, which won’t allow him to run. I would argue that there isn’t.” • I like the metaphor. Even if I’m not sure I understand it.
* * *
“Joe Biden’s ‘Iron Grip’ on His Party” [Wall Street Journal]. “Whatever may be said about the GOP’s solicitous attitude to Mr. Trump during the years of his presidency, it compares favorably with the left’s omertà in the face of President Biden’s obvious mental infirmity, incompetence and what appears to be a history of self-enrichment. Mr. Trump’s election occasioned some unlovely shifting of principles on the right, but it also precipitated fierce debate. Some Republicans refused to find fault with the new president for anything. Others made their peace with his election but remained critical when his conduct and decisions merited it. A few made it their mission to destroy him. Right-oriented policy organizations and conservative publications endured rancorous public schisms. Conservative religious leaders, including evangelical Christians, fell out with each other. That is more than one can say for the Democratic Party and the mainstream left of the 2020s.” Not unfair. More: “You might have expected a credible Democrat, maybe a retired military officer, to challenge Mr. Biden in a primary. But no; the party rearranged its traditional primary schedule to begin with South Carolina and so make any primary challenge nearly impossible.” • They did. Worse, putting South Carolina first was an obvious payoff to James Clyburn, avatar of the Black Misleadership Class, and the South Carolina Democrats for helping to nobble Sanders, pre-Super Tuesday, in 2020.
* * *
Harris on the various Trump matters:
Vice President Kamala Harris said that those responsible for the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and the ensuing violence on Jan. 6 must be held accountable — even if that means Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/tY7tyerl1x
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 6, 2023
And from the same interview:
“Harris says she’s ready to step into role of president if Biden is unwell: ‘May have to take over'” [FOX]. “‘I see him every day,’ Harris said of Biden. ‘A substantial amount of time we spend together is in the Oval Office, where I see how his ability to understand issues and weave through complex issues in a way that no one else can to make smart and important decisions on behalf of the American people have played out.'” • One doesn’t “weave through” complex issues, like a running back weaving through the defense; one weaves together. And of course “smart.” We love our smart. “You don’t need that mask, Joe. Let see your smile!”
* * *
“The Most Important Elections of 2023 Will Test Purple-State Voters—and Glenn Youngkin’s Clout” [Wall Street Journal]. “Virginia voters’ choices this November will give crucial clues about the direction of the national elections next November, and about the political future of a rising Republican star: Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Control of the state legislature is at stake, with all 140 seats in both chambers up for grabs. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans have an edge in the House. Youngkin, while not on the ballot, is pushing hard for a GOP trifecta so he can pass a 15-week abortion limit and other conservative priorities—and so he can burnish his reputation as a Republican who can win in swing territory after his 2021 victory put him on the national map. If the Nov. 7 elections go well for his party, Youngkin could make a late entry into the 2024 presidential race—a prospect he hasn’t ruled out and some national Republicans have pined for privately. GOP primary polling and some early ballot deadlines suggest such a bid would have little chance of success. Or Youngkin, 56 years old, could try to continue building legislative and political victories with an eye to running for president in 2028. Virginia governors can’t serve consecutive four-year terms.”
* * *
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.
* * *
“Inside the Blue Bubble” [Matt Taibbi, Racket News (flora)]. “I think a lot of people in the world I once inhabited, in center-left media and academia, don’t realize they’ve slipped into a deeply unattractive habit of substituting checklists of unquestioned assumptions for thought. In the blue bubble Trump’s limitless evil is an idea with such awesome gravitational pull that it makes nuanced discussion about almost anything impossible. It’s why no one in media could suggest even the possibility he hadn’t colluded with Russia. He’s become an anti-God, of a faith that requires constant worship. When do we get to go back to being atheists?” • Funny and insightful, but if this were epidemiology, I’d want a mechanism. “Sociology is a martial art,” as Bourdieu says. We need more of that, both art and martial. (“Checklists” is a good data structure, though; it applies in identity politics, reified in e.g. LGB+, and in evidence-based medicine. Also airplane cockpits.)
Realignment and Legitimacy
“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison
Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard);
MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV ( wastewater); WY ( wastewater).
Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Stay safe out there!
Covid is Airborne
“SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC)” [Nature]. The Abtract: ‘Millions of people are suffering from Long COVID or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). Several biological factors have emerged as potential drivers of PASC pathology. Some individuals with PASC may not fully clear the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 after acute infection. Instead, replicating virus and/or viral RNA—potentially capable of being translated to produce viral proteins—persist in tissue as a ‘reservoir’. This reservoir could modulate host immune responses or release viral proteins into the circulation. Here we review studies that have identified SARS-CoV-2 RNA/protein or immune responses indicative of a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in PASC samples. Mechanisms by which a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir may contribute to PASC pathology, including coagulation, microbiome and neuroimmune abnormalities, are delineated. We identify research priorities to guide the further study of a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir in PASC, with the goal that clinical trials of antivirals or other therapeutics with potential to clear a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir are accelerated.”
“Determinants of the onset and prognosis of the post-COVID-19 condition: a 2-year prospective observational cohort study” [The Lancet]. “At least 5–10% of subjects surviving COVID-19 develop the post-COVID-19 condition (PCC) or “Long COVID”. The clinical presentation of PCC is heterogeneous, its pathogenesis is being deciphered, and objective, validated biomarkers are lacking. It is unknown if PCC is a single entity or a heterogeneous syndrome with overlapping pathophysiological basis. The large US RECOVER study identified four clusters of subjects with PCC according to their presenting symptoms. However, the long-term clinical implications of PCC remain unknown…. Preexisting medical and socioeconomic factors, as well as acute COVID-19 symptoms, are associated with the development of and recovery from the PCC. Recovery is extremely rare during the first 2 years, posing a major challenge to healthcare systems.”
“Long COVID as a functional somatic symptom disorder caused by abnormally precise prior expectations during Bayesian perceptual processing: A new hypothesis and implications for pandemic response” [SAGE Open Medicine (Raymond Sim)]. “This review proposes a model of Long-COVID where the constellation of symptoms are in fact genuinely experienced persistent physical symptoms that are usually functional in nature and therefore potentially reversible, that is, Long-COVID is a somatic symptom disorder. First, we describe what is currently known about Long-COVID in children and adults. Second, we examine reported ‘Long-Pandemic’ effects that create a risk for similar somatic symptoms to develop in non-COVID-19 patients. Third, we describe what was known about somatization and somatic symptom disorder before the COVID-19 pandemic, and suggest that by analogy, Long-COVID may best be conceptualized as one of these disorders, with similar symptoms and predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors. Fourth, . Fifth, we describe the current theoretical model of the mechanism underlying functional disorders, the Bayesian predictive coding model for perception. This model accounts for moderators that can make symptom inferences functionally inaccurate and therefore can explain how to understand common predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors. Finally, we discuss the implications of this framework for improved public health messaging during a pandemic, with recommendations for the management of Long-COVID symptoms in healthcare systems. .” • This is the stupidest timeline. I wonder which approach to Long Covid will win out?
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.
* * *
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, September 5:
Back to a steady upward climb.
The Midwest now movint upward as well. I’m not sure what the downward swoop was all about. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 2:
Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). No BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.
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, September 2:
Lambert here: Another Labor Day weekend drop, like Walgreens? Typically, three-day weekends don’t coincide with peak infection!
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 September 2:
Leveling out? I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.
Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. August 26, 2023:
At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are. And positivity as high as it’s been at any time, except for Omicron.
NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 4:
-2.7% Big drop, probably due to Labor Day travel, 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, traveler’s data, August 14:
Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. And the variant data:
NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, August 30:
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: 1,174,291 –
1,174,149 = 142 (142 * 365 = 51,830 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).
Lambert here: Big because over a weekend.
The Economist, September 4:
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. )
Services: “United States ISM Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI unexpectedly jumped to 54.5 in August 2023, pointing to the strongest growth in the services sector in six months, compared to 52.7 in July and forecasts of 52.5.”
Vehicle Sales: “United States Total Vehicle Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Total Vehicle Sales in the United States decreased to 15.04 Million in August from 15.75 Million in July.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 6 at 1:26 PM ET.
“The climate crisis is a crisis of inequality” [Science]. “Historically, the premise that economic growth ‘lifts all boats‘ has justified maximizing growth, which ‘free market’ proponents often interpret as demanding minimal regulation and redistribution. But this growth requires energy, which largely comes from burning fossil fuels, the major cause of the climate crisis. And thus far, markets have largely failed to price the social cost of carbon. Economic and climate inequality are tightly linked, within and across countries, with richer nations and individuals appropriating vastly more fossil fuels while rarely paying the social cost of carbon and often assuming that they can shield themselves from the adverse consequences of their fossil fuel use. Meanwhile, globally, poverty closely corresponds with climate shock sensitivity. The world’s poor are more likely to reside in climate-vulnerable countries and have fewer resources to guard against and recover from climate shocks. Their food and water are threatened by climate breakdowns. Poorer people—those who work outdoors, live in households without air conditioning, or cannot migrate from flood or fire-prone locations—will pay the highest price for climate disruption in even rich nations. Even if those with economic power believe that there may be a hard limit to carbon emissions, they have incentives to act swiftly to appropriate most of those resources, profit from them, and develop their economies, leaving behind those less equipped, creating a vicious circle that increases inequality. Rising inequality undermines democracy as the richest wield considerable influence over politics, which can diminish policy efforts on redistribution, climate regulation, and carbon pricing. This may explain why global oil and coal use and carbon dioxide emissions are at record highs, despite humanity having known for 30 years the potentially disastrous climate impacts of greenhouse gases.” • Commentary:
Why haven't we acted more quickly to slow climate change?
In a new presentation, @algore argues it’s not b/c the technology to reduce carbon isn’t ready.
It’s because the people who profit from carbon aren’t ready—and never will be, until we make them.https://t.co/883GZD8jjA
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) September 6, 2023
News of the Wired
“Remembering Doug Lenat (1950–2023) and His Quest to Capture the World with Logic” [Steven Wolfram]. “One of the surprises of LLMs is that they often seem, in effect, to use logic, even though there’s nothing in their setup that explicitly involves logic. But (as I’ve described elsewhere) I’m pretty sure what’s happened is that LLMs have ‘discovered’ logic much as Aristotle did—by looking at lots of examples of statements people make and identifying patterns in them. And in a similar way LLMs have ‘discovered’ lots of commonsense knowledge, and reasoning. They’re just following patterns they’ve seen, but—probably in effect organized into what I’ve called a ‘semantic grammar’ that determines ‘laws of semantic motion’—that’s enough to often achieve some fairly impressive commonsense-like results.” • “Pretty sure”? “Probably in effect”?
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 EMM:
EMM writes: “Rhododendrons are a class act.”