2:00PM Water Cooler 11/2/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/2/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Black Siskin, Catamarca, Argentina. “Flying.” Some purist has marked this down to one star because of the clucking of chickens and the crowing of a rooster, but I think that adds to the verité, and the siskins sound fine!

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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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

Mehdi: Do #CovidIsAirborne with Rochelle (or better yet, Tucker Carlson, but I doubt that would ever happen):

If only there were some sort of award I could give Klain…

“Book Publishing Mega-Merger BLOCKED” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. ” As I noted back in June, Kanter and Khan have put a bunch of torpedos in the water, and there’s a lag time after the launch of a torpedo and before it rams the hull. It’s easy to think nothing’s happening on the placid surface even as something is churning underneath. Well, one of those torpedos just exploded, in the form of Judge Florence Pan ruling against the merger of two large publishing houses, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, in a case that will reverberate in important ways across the economy. This ruling was front page news in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Financial Times, as well as publishing trade publications. Even seemingly unconnected groups, like the Writer’s Guild West of TV and movie writers, chimed in approvingly.” • The Biden Administration being good on anti-trust wasn’t on my Bingo card, I admit.


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“Top Democrats Question Their Party’s Strategy as Midterm Worries Grow” [New York Times]. “Even among the kibitzing chorus, there’s little agreement over exactly what could cost the party control of Congress. In areas where victory depends on high Black voter turnout, Democrats worry that they are not mobilizing that constituency. Others say there has been too much focus on abortion rights and too little attention on worries about crime or the cost of living. And across the country, Democrats point to an inadequate economic message and an inability to effectively herald their legislative accomplishments. ‘The truth is, Democrats have done a poor job of communicating our approach to the economy,’ said Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan who is in one of this year’s most competitive races. ‘I have no idea if I’m going to win my election — it’s going to be a nail biter. But if you can’t speak directly to people’s pocketbook and talk about our vision for the economy, you’re just having half a conversation.’” • No party discipline whatever. Can’t they wait a week before starting the pissing and moaning and blinding and stiffing? Slotkin is, of course, a CIA Democrat, so it’s interesting to see her joining the chorus…..

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MI: “Once a G.O.P. Stalwart, Liz Cheney Hits the Trail for Democrats” [New York Times]. “Stumping for Elissa Slotkin [that’s two stories on Slotkin, interesting] in Michigan, Ms. Cheney had an urgent message for voters: ‘We all must stand and defend the republic.’” • Perhaps there’s some definition of “republic” I’m not aware of. One where James Madison thoroughly approved of the Executive department managing the people’s “cognitive infrastructure,” as CIA Democrats — assuming, at this point, that there’s some other kind of Democrat — would wish them to do.


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

Realignment and Legitimacy


A really astonishing piece of science:

• ”Tracing the origin of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron-like Spike sequences detected in wastewater” [medRxiv]. “The origin of highly divergent “cryptic” SARS-CoV-2 Spike sequences, which appear in wastewater but not clinical samples, is unknown. These wastewater sequences have harbored many of the same mutations that later emerged in Omicron variants. If these enigmatic sequences are human-derived and transmissible, they could both be a source of future variants and a valuable tool for forecasting sequences that should be incorporated into vaccines and therapeutics…. The presence of the cryptic virus was narrowed from a municipal wastewater sample (catchment area >100,000 people) to an indoor wastewater sample from a single facility (catchment area ∼30 people), indicating the human origin of this virus…. High levels of persistent SARS-CoV-2 shedding from the gastrointestinal tract of an infected individual likely explain the presence of evolutionarily advanced “cryptic variants” observed in some wastewater samples.” • Here is a thread on the article:

And but:

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Sure is odd The World’s Best Health Care System™ hasn’t come up with an innovative delivery system like this:

• ”CanSino Biologics rolls out inhaled vaccine Convidecia Air in Shanghai” (press release) [BioSpectrum Asia]. “CanSino Biologics has announced that its recombinant COVID-19 vaccine (Adenovirus Type 5 Vector) for inhalation (Convidecia Air) has been approved by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council of China for inclusion in Shanghai’s booster vaccination programme, marking the start of the rollout of the world’s first inhaled COVID-19 vaccine, Convidecia Air…. Based on the same adenovirus vector technological platform of the intramuscular version, Convidecia Air has proven to be an innovative solution that provides safe and effective protection for people through a needle-free, painless and non-invasive delivery without any serious adverse events observed.” • What, no needles? No trained health care peronnel? No cold chain?

• ”CanSino rallies 76% on the promise of inhaled COVID-19 vaccine” [Seeking Alpha]. “Vaccine maker CanSino Biologics Inc. (OTCPK:CASBF) added ~76% on Wednesday after the company announced that more Chinese would follow Shanghai in deploying its inhaled COVID-19 vaccine. The Tianjin-based company said in its official social media account that 13 Chinese cities in Jiangsu province, including Wuxi, Huai’an, and Yangzhou, are rolling out the vector-based non-invasive vaccine option. Hopes of a potential improvement in vaccination rates also led to the rally amid speculation that China was considering a gradual reopening of the country.”

• ”Inhalable vaccine in trials” (advertorial) [Nature Portfolio]. “[CanSinoBIO’s co-founder, chief scientific officer and executive director Tao Zhu] says the inhalable vaccine imitates the way COVID-19 enters human bodies via the airways. When CanSinoBIO’s vaccine is aerosolized into tiny particles, it can then be inhaled into the respiratory tract and lungs to trigger immunological memory and initiate an immune response in the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.” • Hmm. Mucosal immunity, but no claim of sterilizing immunity? Again–

• “China rolls out first inhalable COVID vaccine” [Reuters]. “‘Our body’s first line of defence is the mucus membrane of our respiratory system, we want that to be directly stimulated to improve immunity and using the inhaled vaccine does that,’ Dr Zhao Hui, chief medical officer at Shanghai United Family Hospital Pudong, told Reuters.” • If in fact an inhalable vaccine produces mucosal immunity was also sterilizing, that would make all the sacrifices of Zero Covid more than worth it (leaving aside the millions of lives saved).

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• ”Dozens dead, hundreds infected, but health authorities fight to conceal B.C. hospital outbreak findings” [CTV]. “A CTV News investigation into COVID-19 outbreaks in hospitals in the Lower Mainland has resulted in scant information from health authorities, which have fought disclosure even though hundreds of patients and staff have contracted the virus in hospital and dozens have died as a result. For months, multiple attempts to obtain information and documentation around investigations, responses and fallout from COVID-19 outbreaks in Lower Mainland hospitals have been met with stonewalling, redactions and insistence that no such documentation exists, even though lives were lost. Fraser Health fought a months-long battle with a freedom of information request, ultimately resulting in 79 pages of written documentation, of which 55 pages’ worth were redacted. Every page is marked ‘Confidential,’ and some say ‘Confidential Do Not Distribute.’ Meanwhile, a Vancouver Coastal Health privacy officer insisted that – despite the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks taking place in that health authority – there was ‘no documentation’ to provide under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.” And: “‘Air flow measurements found the actual air changes per hour (ACH) to be below the design expectations,’ the report reads. ‘International experience with COVID-19 and observations of super-spreading events in various settings suggest crowding and poor air flow may contribute to outbreaks.’” • So where are the lawsuits in the United States?

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• ”What were the historical reasons for the resistance to recognizing airborne transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic?” [Indoor Air]. We ran this back when it appeared (hat tip alert reader sub boreal), but it’s worth a read now if you didn’t catch it then. Not a p-value in sight! “The very slow and haphazard acceptance of the evidence of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by major public health organizations contributed to a suboptimal control of the pandemic, whereas the benefits of protection measures against aerosol transmission are becoming well established.24-26 Quicker acceptance of this evidence would have encouraged guidelines that distinguished rules for indoors and outdoors, greater focus on outdoor activities, earlier recommendation for masks, more and earlier emphasis on better mask fit and filter, as well as rules for mask-wearing indoors even when social distancing could be maintained, ventilation, and filtration. Earlier acceptance would have allowed greater emphasis on these measures, and reduced the excessive time and money spent on measures like surface disinfection and lateral plexiglass barriers, which are rather ineffective for airborne transmission and, in the case of the latter, may even be counterproductive.” • “Suboptimal control of the pandemic” = tens of thousands of preventable deaths, but who’s counting? Here is a thread on the paper, worth reading in itself:

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• ”Someone in my home has COVID. How do we isolate safely?” [CleanAirCrew]. “When someone in your household needs to quarantine at home, you want them to be isolated from others as much as possible. Remember that the virus transmits predominantly through the air, so sanitizing surfaces is not enough.” • Here is a handy diagram:

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Since preventing Covid infection is naturally not a goal of the public health establishment, I haven’t seen any studies on this sort of arrangement, but I’ve seen plenty of testimonials on the Twitter. Not all homes will have bedrooms with private bathrooms, of course, but the principle of circulating plenty of fresh air seems clear enough. Do any reader have experiences with isolation, hopefully successful?

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• Hucksters slipstreaming on #CovidIsAirborne:

This in Colorado, one of the centers for aerosol research:

That, or steak dinners…

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• Somebody should ask the Metropolitan Opera why it makes every opera-goer sign a Covid waiver, if it’s so safe to go unmasked:

• And once more:

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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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From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 31:

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0.4%. Increase slows.


Wastewater data (CDC), October 29:

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October 23:

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Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academid pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 19:

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Lambert here: BQ.1*, out of nowhere. So awesome.

Variant data, national (CDC), October 8 (Nowcast off):

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Lambert here: Most of the screenshots of CDC variants running around crop out whether Nowcast (CDC’s model) is on or off; see red box at top. The BQ1.* figure of 27% that’s running around is CDC’s Nowcast projection, three weeks out. (It’s telling that CDC would rather build a model than fund faster acquisition of real data.)


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,095,646 – 1,095,315 = 331 (331 * 365 = 120,815, which is today’s LivingWith™ number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the LivingWith™ 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.

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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US unexpectedly created 239K jobs in October of 2022, the most in three months, and compared to market forecasts of 195K.” • It’s like a horror movie, where Powell is trying his hardest to strangle the economy, but. Just. Can’t. Choke. It. To. Death.

Retail: “United States Total Vehicle Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Total Vehicle Sales in the United States increased to 14.90 Million in October from 13.50 Million in September of 2022.”

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Tech: “Twitter Co-Founder Already Beta-Testing New Social Media Platform, Bluesky” [BizChina]. “In late 2019, Dorsey founded Bluesky. The latter is considered a decentralized social media platform. By the way, initially, Twitter also provided start-up capital for Bluesky. Bluesky is based on the ‘AT Protocol’ (Authenticated Transport Protocol). This is a new federated social network that many websites run. The protocol allows users to choose among providers, individuals, or businesses to self-host. As a decentralized network, the AT protocol operates independently. Thus, it doesn’t depend on any company’s wishes. This independence ought to protect users’ private data. The next step is to test the AT protocol. Bluesky explained that developing such a distributed protocol is a tricky process. Also, it requires coordination among multiple parties once the network goes live.” • This is very interesting, and I wonder what view Doctorow, a strong proponent of data interoperability, will take of it. (I don’t hate Dorsey with the hatred of a million burning suns, as I Musk or The Zuckerberg™. Twitter, in its bad neighborhoods, really is a hellscape, but, as Miss Marple always says, “Human nature being what it is….” Perhaps a protocol that permits federation an interoperability will allow the break-up of the platforms; their enormous scale is the problem. (Of course, that scale is what makes censorship easy, so it will be interesting to see what posture the liberal Democrats adopt on Dorsey’s platform.)

Tech: “Weirdly, Taylor Swift Is Extremely Close to Creating a True Metaverse” [The Atlantic]. “To call what Swift is doing with this album release ‘online savvy’ or ‘audience engagement’ or ‘marketing’ is to undersell it. She has, in a way, created a virtual universe in which fans can experience the launch. As The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr recounts, Swift has left puzzles and secret messages for fans for more than 15 years, embedding them in her album liner notes, music videos, and social-media posts, and even (if the theories are right) in the clothing she wears. The result is a near-year-round ecosystem that’s pretty much constantly bubbling away online. Fans gather in the tens of millions to obsessively dissect every move she makes. Last night, they seem to have crashed Spotify. A mass of people are gathering to participate in a large virtual world with direct ties to the real one. Talk about it enough, and it kind of starts to sound like another much-discussed concept: a metaverse. This may seem like a leap, but a metaverse—a futuristic virtual-reality world—is essentially a shared online experience, which is not all that different from the online fanscape that Swifties inhabit.” • A data structure representing the work product of such a fanscape was in fact the technical premise of William Gibson’s Idoru. “‘Where I can see,’ Laney said, staring down into intricately overgrown canyons, dense with branchings that reminded him of Arleigh’s Realtree 7.2, but organic somehow, every segment thickly patched with commentary. ‘Yamazaki was right. The fan stuff seems to do it.’”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 2 at 1:37 PM EDT. I must admit I don’t understand Mr. Market at all. OTOH, it’s now November, and we haven’t had a Crash.

Thanksgiving Pre-Game Festivities

“This Recipe Reveals the Lighter Side of Brussels Sprouts” [Wall Street Journal]. • No.

News of the Wired

“The First Minute of Every Phone Call Is Torture Now” [The Atlantic]. “[T]he telephone used to be one of the most reliable communication technologies around. Once wired into homes and businesses, the public switched telephone network facilitated calls with resilience, even in the event of power failure. But when phone networks went digital and then cellular, a combination of factors made calls less reliable: Digital sampling captured voices poorly; environmental noise made calls hard to hear; wireless networks offered a signal in some places but not others. The speakers and earpieces were smaller and designed for looks rather than acoustics, making already tenuous calls even more unintelligible. And so, as digital, mobile telephony overtook copper-wire analog calls, telephony degraded forever. But all of that sits underneath the current phone-failure malaise. Before a call can even begin, you are now forced to fight with the apparatus that makes the call in the hopes that it will successfully connect you… That’s the bad news, but it has an upside. A new ritual for telephonic greeting has emerged: discoursing about the collapsing infrastructure of telephonic intercourse.” • And speaking of phones–

“T-Mobile will start charging a $35 fee on all new activations and upgrades” [Engadget]. “T-Mobile may be joining rivals Verizon and AT&T by introducing an $35 charge for all new postpaid activations and upgrades, according to The T-Mo Report and some Redditors. According to T-Mobile internal documents, it’s introducing a ‘Device Connection Charge’ for ‘all activations and upgrades for mobile, Beyond the Smartphone and broadband devices.’ Before, the Uncarrier charged activation fees only if you received in-store customer support for new activations, with online orders exempt. Now, all new postpaid activations are charged, whether or not you were assisted. This includes updating to a new device, adding a Bring-Your-Own-Device line, or ordering a Home Internet line, according to The T-Mo Report. T-Mobile has always tried to separate itself from regular telecoms, but charging customers for essentially nothing doesn’t sound very Uncarrier-like, if the reports are accurate. And you can’t take your business to Sprint, as it no longer exists thanks to its merger with T-Mobile. When that deal was finalized, T-Mobile said things would be “better for customers,” but constant activation charges would definitely not be better.” • No. They wouldn’t.

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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 Carla:

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Carla writes: “Bouquets from the autumn garden.”

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