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2:00PM Water Cooler 11/9/2020

Breaking News

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/9/2020


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as usual there was an enormous amount of material over the weekend, and I can’t get to all of it, since I have a post to complete. I will, however, get to Pfizer. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Wake up!


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

Case count by United States region:

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Waiting for the line to go vertical…

Test positivity by region:

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Case fatality rate by region:

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The Northeast (orange) really stands out.

Hospitalization by region:

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Again, the Northeast (green) stands out for its enormous spikes.

DE: “Coronavirus spike at UD ‘directly related’ to Halloween parties, spokeswoman confirms” [Newark Post]. “The recent spike in COVID-19 cases at the University of Delaware is a result of numerous large parties over Halloween weekend, a university official confirmed Friday.” • Can’t believe college administrators had the whole summer to figure out college kids partied.

IN: “Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick addresses Clemson postgame field storming” [South Bend Tribune]. “The bookend experience flashed through Jack Swarbrick’s mind as he watched a wall of humanity Saturday night coming toward him with relentless conviction to celebrate on Notre Dame Stadium’s turf…. Saturday night’s game [was] played in a pandemic and the field storm that took place afterward looking like a potential COVID-19 super-spreader event to a curious college football world.”

KY: “‘Truly frightening.’ 2,302 new Kentucky coronavirus cases and 10 deaths.” [Herald-Leader]. “Calling the latest case increase “truly frightening,” Gov. Andy Beshear announced 2,302 new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky on Friday — the second highest single-day increase of new cases — lifting the statewide infection total to 117,505. Thursday’s increase set a record for most new cases reported in a single day. ‘I know we’ve been in this fight for so long that it’s easy to get numb to the scary headlines and high case numbers,’ the governor said in a written statement. ‘That’s normal. It’s human nature. But you have to understand this is the most dangerous COVID-19 has ever been in the commonwealth.’ Hospitalizations continue to rapidly climb.”

RI: The “East Side” is where Brown University is located:


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

There are no statistics of note today.

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Real Estate: “Homebound workers inject life into suburban malls after downtowns empty out” [Reuters]. “‘A lot of people who used to commute to downtowns on a daily basis are not anymore,’ said Tim Sanderson, head of Canadian retail at real estate services firm JLL in Toronto. ‘Where are they getting dry cleaning done, picking up dinner? … They’re doing it in their suburban shopping centre.’ Traffic in Canadian suburban malls owned by Cadillac Fairview, the property unit of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, is now at more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels, while less than half of shoppers have returned to its downtown malls, Executive Vice President of Operations Sal Ianoco told Reuters. The same story reverberates around the globe.” • No quotes from the US, though. Readers? On the other hand–

“How many DFW malls will be left after COVID-19? Three or four, expert predicts” [Dallas Business Journal]. “Dallas-Fort Worth is currently home to 18 malls with a total footprint of 21.2 million square feet, according to Weitzman. After the dust from the COVID-19 pandemic settles, only three or four may be left standing. This is the prediction of Barney McAuley, the new managing director at Edge Capital Markets, the investment services platform of Dallas-based Edge Realty Partners. In his new role, McAuley will be working closely with CMBS lenders and the mall properties across the country that they are coming into possession of. “There are 1,100 malls in America and somewhere between 700 and 800 of them are not going to be malls much longer,” McAuley recently told the Business Journal.” • If you are a mall maven, this is a fascinating article, with a long interview with McAuley.

Retail: “There’s A Mason Jar Shortage Because So Many People Are Getting Into Canning, According To Experts” [Delish]. “When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States earlier this year, people began cooking and baking at home much more frequently as both a way to safely feed their families and as a way to relieve some stress…. CNN reported that there is already a shortage at many retailers nationwide, specifically for double ring mason jar lids. They spoke with Marie Bregg, the owner of Mason Jar Merchant, who said her online sales began to spike in the middle of August, going up 600 percent, and haven’t really dropped since. Of course canning is nothing new for many people and it has been done for years—centuries even—as a way to keep food fresh long after you make it. And that’s precisely why it’s gaining popularity right now. Experts told CNN the surge is probably fueled by a few reasons, such as people adopting new hobbies as they spend time at home. This could be canning itself or even gardening, which can lead to an influx of fresh food, which then leads to canning.” • Or people don’t have work and are running out of money, so they learn how to grow food. That’s how I got into permaculture after The Crash (this being Son Of The Crash).

Tech: “Apple’s new Macs could revive the PC chip wars, analysts say” [Channel News Asia]. “Apple will design the chips using Arm technology and have them manufactured by a partner, most likely Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing… Arm-based PCs have key differences from Intel-based machines. Because the chips are derived from smartphones where power consumption is a key concern, they tend to claim better battery life than conventional machines. Like smartphones, they also turn on quickly and can remain constantly connected to cellular data networks…. But hurdles remain for Arm-based PCs. Most software written in the past 20 years was for Intel machines, and until it is rewritten, it may have to rely on ’emulation’ that could slow down apps.” • Ha ha ha, how many apps do you think will get rewritten to force you into The Cloud, and then charge you a monthly rent, so you don’t actually own the software? Good job, Apple.

Tech: “People are complaining the Amazon Echo keeps asking them if they want to buy stuff — here’s how to turn that off” [CNBC]. “It’s these sort of unwanted ads that seems to be annoying some people. I’ll show you how to turn them off, but first a reminder why they probably exist in the first place: Amazon can price its Echo speakers lower than some competitors by using it as a way to get you to buy more stuff from Amazon.” • Wowsers, monopoly power… In any case, you can open your Alexa app, if you’re nutty enough to have it on your phone, and “Turn off the option to “receive personalized recommendations and deals based on your shopping activity,” which for some reason is defaulted to “On.” He who controls the defaults, controls the world….


Shipping: “Vital World Trade Route Roiled by ‘Black Swan’ Container Crunch” [Bloomberg]. “Shortages of the ribbed steel boxes that have plied the global economy for a half-century are plaguing transpacific routes in particular. The dearth is boosting the purchase price of new containers and lease rates by 50%, snarling port traffic, adding surcharges and slowing deliveries heading into the holidays. A surge in Chinese exports and robust consumer demand in the U.S. help explain the tightness… Shipping liners own roughly half the world’s containers, and the rest are owned by lessors.”

Supply Chain: “Cold Chain (And Colder Chain) Distribution” [Science]. Dammit, missed this in August. “Let’s talk about the ‘cold chain’. That’s the distribution system for things (like most vaccines) that need to be kept refrigerated until they’re used in the clinic. This document from the WHO will tell you a lot more than you ever wanted to know (or thought there even was to know) about the subject. Details get down to how large the packages are (the vials in the middle will feel the effects of refrigeration last, and then warm up the slowest), the design of refrigerated trucks and their airflow, the various options for “cold pack” devices inside containers, where things are placed in chilled storage units of various sizes and how they’re retrieved, how long things need to be kept out at room temperature in order to be used and how long they must not be kept at room temperature before they have to be thrown away, and so on. There’s a lot of experience with this, and a lot of infrastructure. But let’s qualify that last statement: there’s a lot of infrastructure in the developed world. Cold-chain distribution has always been a major challenge in places that are remote, less developed, or have generally higher ambient temperatures.” • Worth reading in full to understand the issues involved in distributing certain vaccines, including Pfizer’s.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb hit with proposed class-action lawsuit from host missing payments” [CNBC]. Here is AirBnB’s response: “‘When the WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic, we made the difficult decision to activate our longstanding Extenuating Circumstances policy and provide full refunds to eligible guests because public health and safety comes first,’ Airbnb said in a statement. ‘While we know it had a significant impact on bookings and revenue for our host community, we still believe firmly that it was the right thing to do. The allegations in this complaint are completely frivolous and without merit.’” • “Our longstanding Extenuating Circumstances policy,” I love it!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 9 at 11:57am.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on earthquakes (Iran). “A strong earthquake strikes Turkey” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.) I’d expect “Beast Government” to be popping with Biden’s election, but no!

The Biosphere

“Air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States: Strengths and limitations of an ecological regression analysis” [Science]. “[H]igher historical PM2.5 exposures are positively associated with higher county-level COVID-19 mortality rates after accounting for many area-level confounders.”

Health Care

Sounds great:

Until you realize Slavitt not only opposed #MedicareForAll, but is well-paid to do so.

“The Double Whammy of Seasonal Affective Disorder in a Season of Covid” [New York Times]. “But while the pandemic, with its myriad economic, vocational, educational and social disruptions, is challenge enough for people who are not normally prone to the blues, the days of truncated daylight this November through March could be far gloomier than usual for millions of Americans who suffer annually from seasonal depression…. An estimated 5 percent of the population — one person in 20 — has the full-blown SAD syndrome, said Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, the psychiatrist who first identified it in the 1980s and then devised an effective treatment…. Most helpful for people with SAD, he said, is exposure to sunlight or its artificial equivalent for 20 to 30 minutes every morning. The standard amount of light needed is 10,000 lux. Sitting under a commercial light box at least one-foot square will do the job…. “A 20-minute early morning walk in the sun is as good as commercial light therapy,” Dr. Rosenthal said.” • Get moving! (And send me photos of plants you see on your walk 🙂

“An Amazonian tea stimulates the formation of new neurons” [Medical Xpress]. “One of the main natural components of ayahuasca tea is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which promotes neurogenesis —the formation of new neurons—according to research led by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). In addition to neurons, the infusion used for shamanic purposes also induces the formation of other neural cells such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.”


The 420

Our Famously Free Press

Guillotine Watch

The incentives aren’t good anywhere:

News of the Wired

“The Last Days of Mankind” [Karl Kraus]. “This site contains an annotated translation of Karl Kraus’s extraordinary satirical drama of the First World War, ‘Die letzten Tage der Menschheit’, ‘The Last Days of Mankind’, by Michael Russell.” Here’s the Part One of the Prologue. Archduke Franz-Ferdinand has just been assassinated. Seems rather similar to our own day. “In Berlin, things are serious but not hopeless. In Vienna, they are hopeless but not serious.” –Karl Kraus

“Mutual Aid Hub” (map) [Town Hall Project]. “Find Mutual Aid Networks and other community self-support projects near you. Reach out to these groups directly via the map above to get involved, offer resources, or submit needs requests.” • Interesting?

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (cjmxc):

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cjmxc writes:

Lambert, I enjoyed seeing your Favorite Flower list and wanted to accept your challenge to offer a pick.

In addition to my recent infatuation with the evening primrose, there is another photo/flower that fits the theme – nature’s beauty and toughness in reclamation despite man’s destruction. The primrose overcame my building a garage and paving the ground.

The Fringed Gentian overcame – in fact, judging by the search hits, seems to thrive on – significantly more disturbed ground. In this case an area that had been a large gravel/sand mining pit ‘given’ the State in exchange for a similar site across the road. (That was mined and then developed with luxury homes. No comment). I had hiked this ‘outback’ section for several years with BC my 4-legged friend when the gentian suddenly appeared in fall of 2008 or 2009. That it appears at the end of summer and into the fall brings a special joy. I also stumbled on this poem by William Cullen Bryant celebrating its beauty and its determination. Being well into autumn myself, the appeal of the both the gentian and the primrose is not surprising.

Unfortunately, the flower will have to try again as this area has been re-leased to a mining operation for 15 yrs during which time it may or may not mine and/or allegedly reclaim mined portions with a ‘native short-grass prairie’. I’m glad BC no longer needs it. Screw cement. It hasn’t even gotten into ‘fixing our damn roads’ as far as I know.

And, I think there is reason to bet that someone and their dog will see the gentian again when the operation runs out or goes bust. Or, at least, the gentian will return when man’s folly has finally removed him from life’s equation.

Does anybody else want to take up this challenge? Something to do before the snow flies!

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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!

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