2:00PM Water Cooler 10/10/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/10/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be light, because I was finishing up my “smoking gun” post on hospitals and airborne transmission. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

White-breasted Nuthatch (Eastern), Roy H. Park Preserve, Tompkins, New York, United States.

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Capitol Seizure

“Text messages reveal what, exactly, the Jan. 6 crowd wanted Trump to do” [Politico]. “Central to prosecutors’ allegations is Rhodes and, more plainly, what his perceptions were of Trump in those critical moments. The Yale Law-educated Rhodes came to see political and courtroom paths as doomed for keeping Trump in power and the potential invocation of the Insurrection Act as the only viable way. So, the right-wing activist began promoting the Insurrection Act among fellow Oath Keepers, privately and publicly, urging them to also loudly call on Trump to take the extreme step of using the military and citizen militias to remain in office. But Rhodes also had a backup plan, according to the prosecution. If Trump failed to act, Rhodes said in the messages, the Oath Keepers would be ready to take matters into their own hands — even if it meant a ‘bloody’ Civil War. The trial, as well as a parallel case prosecutors are building against the leaders of the pro-Trump Proud Boys, underscored the degree to which right wing extremist groups sought to operate in tandem with Trump. Ultimately, the prosecution alleges, they saw validation in his rhetoric as they maneuvered to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration. Rhodes’ defense lawyers have suggested that much of his fiery language, particularly in a pair of open letters he addressed to Trump, amounted to little more than hyperbole aimed at fundraising for the Oath Keepers. Ultimately, they note, Rhodes didn’t enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, nor did he bring weapons with him. Instead, he remained just outside the building while the others can be seen on video joining the mob that surged into the building after police lines collapsed. But Rhodes’ own rhetoric alarmed even some members of his group, at least one of whom passed recordings and tips to the FBI — tips that weren’t acted upon until after Jan. 6.” • And did Trump do those things?

Biden Administration

“Pentagon: No sign Putin is planning to use nukes after Biden’s ‘Armageddon’ comment” [Politico]. • When the adults in the room are at the Pentagon, you know you’re in trouble.

Not bad:


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PA: “Why Senate hopeful John Fetterman’s masterful online trolling of Dr. Oz is working” [Fast Company]. “John Fetterman had a neat way of saying ‘Hi everybody!’ to his entire electorate recently. The Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate tweeted a video comparing his opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, to The Simpsons quack Dr. Nick Riviera—an alumnus of Hollywood Upstairs Medical College—using clips of Oz’s many dubious miracle cures. The video proved so brutally effective that a wide array of media outlets contributed to its virality, doing the candidate’s work for him. It’s just the latest example of Fetterman’s mastery of the comedic political hit job. His campaign has proven over and over again that, in the right candidate’s hands, Twitter trolling can have a devastating impact and a reach that goes far beyond the platform.” • Show me the votes, though… Again, I urge the theory that the real value of the online trolling is to distract the press with bright shiny objects (not a bad thing). I have yet to be shown it moves votes.

PA: “On Pennsylvania’s campaign trail, the doctor will see you now” [Politico]. “Physicians across Pennsylvania are politicking in unprecedented ways with less than a month to go before the midterm election, making the case that the abortion restrictions proposed by Republicans would threaten one of the state’s most important economic sectors. They’re flanking Democrats at campaign rallies and knocking on doors in flippable state legislative districts. They are registering patients and colleagues to vote. At town halls and in ads, they warn that doctors, residents and medical students will avoid a state where they could be prosecuted for helping a patient terminate a pregnancy — damaging one of the largest and most recession-proof pieces of the economy. Typically cautious establishment groups, such as the Pennsylvania Medical Society, are also sounding the alarm about ‘the potential criminalization of physicians and urging lawmakers considering new abortion restrictions to ‘stay out of the exam room,’ while doctors and doctors-in-training are forming newer advocacy groups like Medical Students for Choice, Physicians for Democratic Principles, Physicians for Shapiro and Fetterman, the Committee to Protect Health Care and VoteER.” • Now do #MedicareForAll.

“Democrats ‘need new blood,’ congresswoman says” [Politico]. “‘We need a new generation,’ Slotkin, who is 46, said. ‘We need new blood, period, across the Democratic Party in the House, the Senate and the White House.’” • A CIA Democrat…


“Youngkin declines to say if he will run for president: ‘2024 is a long way away’” [The Hill]. “”I am focused on getting some Republican congressional candidates elected in Virginia and some governors elected around the nation,’ Youngkin said on CNN. ‘2024 is a long way away. And I’m really humbled by the speculation, but right now I’m very focused on Virginia.’” • Humbled!

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!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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.

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Republican Funhouse

“A majority of GOP nominees — 299 in all — deny the 2020 election results” [WaPo]. “Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory — 53 percent of the 569 analyzed by The Post — are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in three states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined…. Far from repudiating candidates who embrace Trump’s false fraud claims, GOP primary voters have empowered them….. The Republican fervor to elevate election deniers this midterm cycle comes at a time when pro-Trump allies and activists are continuing to doubt the administration of elections in the United States, demanding investigations of voter fraud and accusing state and local election officials of rigging races or using fraudulent voting equipment.” • The difficulty here is fundamental: There is no way to prove that compiled code does not yield fraudulent results.

“Falsehoods, harassment stress local election offices in US” [Associated Press]. “Yet ever since former President Donald Trump began falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Mickley, Whipkey and local election workers like them across the country have been inundated with conspiracy theories and election falsehoods, and hounded with harassment. They’ve been targeted by threats, stressed by rising workloads and stretched budgets. The stress and vitriol have driven many workers away, creating shortages of election office staff and poll workers. During Ohio’s second primary in August — an added burden for election officials stemming from partisan feuding over redistricting — Mickley’s two clerks darted around the county all day filling in for absent poll workers. Two staff members’ husbands were enlisted to help. And then there’s the stream of misinformation falsely alleging that voting systems across the country are riddled with fraud. Unfounded conspiracy theories about voting machines, manipulation of elections by artificial intelligence or ballot fixing have found a wide audience among Republicans.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Gloria Steinem, spook:

The whole thread is wild. NGOs as a counter-insurgency operation, for sure.


Patient readers: Friday I reconfigured the Covid-19 section. Since CDC will now make case data available only weekly, that data will become entirely useless for early warning purposes, instead of only partially useless, so I eliminated that section entirely. I will retain CDC’s wastewater chart (still daily), and Walgreen’s positivity chart (still daily). For transmission, CDC also made Rapid Riser and Hospitalization weekly, so I have eliminated them, too. I will retain the CDC community transmission map (“the red map”), the CDC and Walgreens variant data, and the death rate (for as long as CDC supports them).

The net result is that the best early warning system for an oncoming surge will be wastewater, which has (a) spotty national coverage and (b) is routed through CDC with no check (except for the Biobot regional chart, which I gave up on because of its constant backward revisions). All this is a recipe for tragedy, especially when we consider that the only system that CDC explicitly built for early warning was the horrid and deceptive “community levels” metric (“the green map”), which by incorporating a lagging indicator (hospitalization), didn’t provide early warning at all.

I will continue to aggregate Tweets, as before; modulo censorship, the Twitter may end up being the best early warning system we have. Meanwhile, if some experts are correct, we should get whatever the UK is having in a month or so. But maybe not! If we still seem to be on a plateau after Thanksgiving travel, I will reconfigure again, back to more emphasis on the economy (because I have sorely neglected business news).

• A success story:

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• ”CDC: Nearly Every American Can Drop Wearing Masks Indoors” [US News]. And the deck: “COVID-19 transmission levels, however, remain high across the majority of the country.” Good job, whatever beacon of sanity got that deck in there. More: “According to CDC data, less than 1% of Americans live in a county with a ‘high’ COVID-19 community level, where masking is recommended while inside. The majority of the country – 79% – lives in a county with a “low” level, while 20% of the population lives in a ‘medium’ level, where masking should be considered by those at-risk for severe COVID-19.” CDC pushing its deranged and lethal “community levels” metric [bangs head on desk]. At least they’re committed to the bit! More sanity: “Additionally, COVID-19 transmission levels remain high across the majority of the country, and a fall and winter COVID-19 surge is expected in the U.S. One warning sign of a coming surge is increasing coronavirus infections in Europe. Fifteen countries in the region are reporting increasing cases. It’s the first spike in coronavirus cases across the region since the most recent BA.5 wave began, according to a report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.” • To be fair, it looks like BA.4.6 is taking over here, not BA.5. But maybe that infection sink over there in the UK will have something entirely new in store for us! Just-in-time demasking, Rochelle, good job. Commentary:

I’m not the only one fed up to my back teeth with this “smile” power trip, then.

• And while we’re on CDC:

Yep, no question.

• So we go with the data we have:

• “‘There Is No Scent!’ What Yankee Candle Reviews Can Tell Us About Covid-19 Trends” (press release) [Northeastern]. From June, still germane: “Beauchamp took the Twitter joke and turned it into a full paper—presented at this week’s ‘International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media’—that examines the clear link between the ‘no smell’ reviews and upticks in COVID-19 cases. The work follows a rising trend of researchers using online clues known as ‘breadcrumbs’—such as Google searches for restaurants that deliver chicken noodle soup—to help predict the next surge in COVID-19 cases. In theory, if one follows trends like this, it could give us information that other data, like the number of hospitalizations in a given period, cannot.” • However, Yankee Candle went viral. So now the test population is self-aware. Interesting article, though!

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• Maskstravaganza:

This whole thread is quite bracing.

• Maskstravaganza: Since anecdotes are what we have now:

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• Oh dear. Gastrointestinal symptoms:

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• Now, of course, we know that indeed children get sick from Covid. Too late for Sweden, sadly:


Wastewater data (CDC), October 4:

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October 3:

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An alert reader suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:

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Lambert here: This seems to have stalled. Then again, it’s a long weekend.

This is a seven-day average, mind you, so the rise is no fluke. (MRWA is divided into north and south sewersheds. Both are rising.) Let us also remember that the Boston area is not only the home of many, many students, it’s also a PMC center, and we have already seen one ginormous superspreader event from the conference in Boston. Boston also has a major international airport, another cause of spread.


UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 5:

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/10/2022 5


Readers, please click through on this, if you have a minute. Since Walgreens did the right thing, let’s give this project some stats.


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

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Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….

NOTE: The case data driving this map has always been weekly, so it is not affected by CDC’s decision.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 24:

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First appearance of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, confirming CDC data below.

UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), September 17 (Nowcast off):

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• Good framing:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,087,880 – 1,087,350 = 530 (530 * 365 = 193,450, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. NOTE I may need to configure this as well. But I have reconfigured enough for one day.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

• They’re not “enormous.” They’re normal:

Learn to live with it.

Stats Watch

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 14 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 6 at 12:59 PM EDT.

The Gallery

My goodness:

I had the idea, from the books on Bloomsbury and Woolf’s circle I read when much younger, that Carringtoin was some sort of lightweight. Oops!

Class Warfare

Guillotine Watch

“Former Fed Chair Bernanke shares Nobel for research on banks” [Associated Press]. • I hate this timeline. Then again, is The Bernanke smarter than Yellen? Probably.

News of the Wired

Sadly, I am not feeling wired today. Perhaps tomorrow.


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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From HH:

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HH: “From Canyon of the Eagles, in the Texas Hill Country about 60 miles northwest of Austin on the weekend of August 22, 2020.” Fantastic! But why is a “live oak” called “live”?

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