By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Chestnut-eared Bunting, Buryatia, Russia. “Several cuts from a male bird, mostly perched on wire fences at the edge of grassy pastures and steppe not far from a marsh.” Really lovely. And four minutes long!
* * *
“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
“REAL ID enforcement is delayed again to 2025” [NPR]. • That’s a damn shame.
I don’t know about pack journalism, but based on these headlines, “pack editorship” is a thing.
GA: “Five things to watch in the Georgia Senate runoff” [The Hill]. Can Election Day turnout save Walker? Are the polls wrong, again? How does Trump react? Has Walker lost the middle? Does Warnock thank Biden? • Warnock owes me six hundred bucks.
GA: “Georgia Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker: 5 things to watch” [Los Angeles Times]. How long will voters have to wait in line? Will early turnout in Democratic strongholds push Warnock over the line? Or will the GOP base pack the polls on election day? Will Trump’s influence make a difference either way? Will swing voters show up for Warnock?
GA: “5 things to watch as Georgia decides Warnock vs. Walker Senate runoff” [CNN]. Turnout boom or bust? Democrats seek a true majority. Trump’s last shot at a Senate win. Kemp looks to one-up Trump one more time. Georgia, a swing state? We’ll see.
“EXCLUSIVE: Biden’s married, non-binary nuclear waste guru who stole woman’s $2,325 bag from airport hosted SPANKING seminar at kink conference just weeks later – under ‘NuclearNerd’ nickname that’s still in use on fetish hookup website” [Daily Mail]. • 2024 is going to be so ugly.
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.
* * *
Lambert here: Eric Topol has called a winter surge (or “wave”) of Covid. I am but a humble tapewatcher, but I’m reluctant to do so. (Partly because I know my temperament, and I have strong priors. So “I won’t because all of me wants to,” as Sam Spade says.) Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges. Granted, Boston (wastewater) and New York (hospitalization) are both accelerating, they are good data, and they could be leading indicators (which is why I chose them). They could also be flashes in the pan. (Perhaps I need to take a rigorous look at wastewater, as for example in San Francisco (charts take forever to load).) So we’ll see. Let’s wait and see what the remainder of the holiday season brings. Reader discussion on this important point is welcome. Nevertheless–
Stay safe out there: High transmission (CDC), the elevation of positivity (Walgreens), the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens), along with increased hospitalization in BQ.1* hotbed New York, plus a wastewater surge in Boston are all more than a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). As one might expect at the beginning of a holiday surge, wastewater in Queens County, NY (JFK/LGA), Cook County, IL (ORD), and Los Angeles County (LAX) continues to be elevated. If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.
* * *
If, over the holidays, you plan to stay in a hotel, from an HVAC engineer:
Verify the ventilation is working
The standard way ventilation systems work in hotels and apartment buildings is outdoor air is supplied to the hallway, flows under the door and is exhausted through the washroom. Here’s how to check the ventilation:
— Joey Fox (@joeyfox85) June 8, 2022
* * *
• Mastravaganza: “CDC encourages people to wear masks to help prevent spread of Covid, flu and RSV over the holidays” [CNBC]. Walenksy is so, so bad:
“We also you to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” said Walensky, adding that people living in areas with high levels of Covid transmission should especially masking.
“Encourage.” “Consider.” That’s a real profile in courage. And the burden is all on “you,” the individual. Surely Walensky knows that workplaces will only act based on guidance? I love also that Walensky recommends tracking transmission when CDC buries the transmission map. Remember the woman who called CDC to find it, and the nice lady on the other end of the line tried for half an hour and failed?
The CDC director said the agency is considering expanding its system of Covid community levels to take into account other respiratory viruses such as the flu. The system is the basis for when CDC advises the public to wear masks. But Walensky encouraged people to take proactive action.
Dear gawd. Walensky is doubling down on “community levels” [bangs head on desk]. On the bright side, she waited until well after the midterms.
“” Walensky said. “We would encourage all of those preventive measures — hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, masking, increased ventilation — during respiratory virus season, but especially in areas of high Covid-19 community levels.”
A-a-a-n-d Walensky doubles down on the horrid “community levels” metric once more. And “one need not.” Who does Walensky think she is? The Queen of England?
• Anyhow, why would anybody believe Walensky about anything?
Someone retweeted this and I… https://t.co/ZBwKfOJr7A
— I Brake 4 Ants (@ibrake4ants) December 6, 2022
* * *
• Mastravaganza: A maskless conference of immunologists:
IMMUNOLOGISTS, my friends! Even the immunologists are holding crowded unmasked indoor superspreading dance parties in my honor! Is it great to be me or WHAT? 🦠 ❤️ #asi2022mel pic.twitter.com/1CfaaOxPAD
— Covid19 (@friendlycovid19) December 2, 2022
You’ll never guess what happened!
The unmasked Immunology Conference in Melbourne has turned out to be a superspreader event…. 🤦♀️ @friendlycovid19 @ImTheN95Parody @YouAreLobbyLud @DavidJoffe64 pic.twitter.com/fvy31XC9FF
— Put a Mask on it (@patientadvAU) December 4, 2022
• Maskstravaganza: Another maskless conference, this time at WHO:
Because nothing says “Patient safety” like a maskless conference in a pandemic. https://t.co/MUGMwEtMgg
— Dr David Berger, aBsuRdiSTe cROnickLeR (@YouAreLobbyLud) December 5, 2022
And speaking of WHO:
• WHO still rejects airborne transmission of Covid:
At yesterday’s Independent SAGE briefing @davidnabarro you said “Covid-19 is primarily, primarily, a droplet-borne infection, it may be airborne in certain circumstances, we still in WHO contexts still say its primarily droplet-borne”. Please can you point to the evidence
— docjon 💙 (@docjon55) December 3, 2022
The Hague for these people. I am not kidding. (Navarro’s bio: “Special Envoy of @WHO DG on #COVID19, Co-Director of @Imperial_IGHI & Strategic Director of
@4SD_info – Skills, Systems & Synergies for Sustainable Development.” Deeply, deeply embedded in the network of globalist NGOs, unsurprisingly.)
• “Study Comparing Surgical and N95 Masks Sparks Concern” [MedScape]. Here is a politely phrased takedown of the study from CIDRAP. From memory: Conly is an Infectious Disease specialist (bad) from Alberta (worse), a droplet goon (even worse), and is a gatekeeper at WHO against both masks and airborne transmission. He’s the dunce who kept yammering about the need to weigh the harms of masks against the benefits, and when pressed on the harms, came up with… acne. As opposed to vascular and neurological damage. The Hague for Conly too.
* * *
• A better world is possible:
This is only possible because of ventilation, filtration and masks. Otherwise, chances are that the entire kitchen staff and more would be off sick now and the restaurant would be closed for the next week or more. pic.twitter.com/t41dnzqB8e
— Apricot Tree Cafe (@ApricotTreeCaf1) December 4, 2022
* * *
• Inhaled Chinese vaccines:
Good to see but we’re going to need a better translation than “The Seed Recipient”😬 https://t.co/MTi68FlSWt
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) December 6, 2022
Note the label: Adenovirus.
* * *
Just for another angle, I went back, temporarily, to the case data (which I know seriously underestimates actual cases by an order of magnitude, since people test at home). Here is the yearly data:
And here is the data for the last four weeks:
Regardless of where the baseline is, I expect doubling behavior in a surge, and I’m not seeing it here. This data feels like a long, grinding slog. “A pandemic we can’t shake,” as it were.
Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map”). (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)
Lambert here: The powers-that-be don’t even see transmission as a problem, obviously. But you might!
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published December 3:
2.3%. Yesterday was 4.1% (4.3%). A slight slackening.
Wastewater data (CDC), December 1:
JFK/LGA, Queens County is still red; ORD, Cook County is orange; LAX, Los Angeles County is orange. Stay safe when travelling.
And MWRA data, December 1:
I hesitate to say “going vertical.”> Looks vertical to me.
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, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.
UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), November 19:
Lambert here: BQ.1* dominating. XBB coming up on the outside.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), November 12 (Nowcast off):
BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. Note the appearance of XBB, and see the highlighted note: Like BQ.1*, XBB appears suddenly when CDC decides to disaggregate the data. Exactly as with CDC’s infamous “green map,” a lag is introduced, this time by CDC’s decision-making process; Walgreens had XBB last week, but CDC has it only this week. I don’t see what purpose the aggregation serves. If the issue is a jillion low-circulation variants would make the table impossibly long and confusing for users, that’s a UI/UX issue; handle it with software. Have a slider/filter that aggregates variants under 1%, say. Allow scrolling the results. Whatever. But stop concealing data!
New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher. BQ.1.* is dominating:
• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 3:
Lambert here: No further acceleration.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,106,990 –
1,106,378 = 612 (612 * 365 = 223,380 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). NOTE Not quite fair, since I missed Monday.
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.
Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell for a second month to 53.6 in November 2022 from 57.5 in October. It is the second lowest reading ever, only surpassing 51.3 in April 2020 at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. The slowdown in logistics growth was largely due to the long-anticipated wind down in Inventory Levels (54.8), prompted by the movement of goods downstream towards retailers and the sale of those goods as holiday spending picks up.”
* * *
The Bezzle: “Uber Eats and Chicago Reach $10 Million Settlement Over Deceptive Practices” [Eater]. “In the settlement, the city contends that Uber ‘listed unaffiliated Merchants on its Platforms without consent’ and ‘deceptively advertised that Eats Pass and Postmates Unlimited subscribers would receive ‘free delivery’ or ‘$0 Delivery Fees.’” • What, I thought Uber was supposed to be clean after Kalanick left?
Tech: A long thread on Google’s crapification:
lemme explain that last bit. PageRank is the OG Google algorithm – basically, figure out what pages are worth showing not by looking at the page, but by looking at what pages are linking to it.
— v buckenham (@v21) September 7, 2021
Goodhart’s law: “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes,” or simplified: “every measure which becomes a target becomes a bad measure.” For example, Google pagerank.
* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 6 at 1:54 PM EST.
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil has declined to $80 per barrel” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)
I have not had the heart to post this, but I feel that it is time. Professor Lance DeHaven-Smith died of cancer last month. A dear friend and a mentor to me, he was a true iconoclast–one of the most important social scientists in the US since the end of World War II.
— American Exception (@Aaron_Good_) December 3, 2022
His “radical turn”:
His radical turn began when, as *the* authority on Florida state politics, he observed multiple felonies committed by the state’s governor during the 2000 presidential election.
— American Exception (@Aaron_Good_) December 3, 2022
In the prime of his intellectual life, he suddenly came down with an uncommonly aggressive case of Parkinson’s disease. He managed to finish his 14th book—the classic ‘Conspiracy Theory in America’—in 2013, but he did not have much time to enjoy it or to continue his scholarship.
— American Exception (@Aaron_Good_) December 3, 2022
Conspiracy Theory in America seems like a topic it would be useful to have scholarly, and modern, perspective on. Does anyone know where I can find a PDF? I’ve looked, without success.
* * *
“Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” [Orion]. “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?…. Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter. …. Here on Earth, we are blessed, or have been blessed, with living on a planet with a range of climates, many of which have been mild or fairly easy to adapt to. This is not to say that there have not been terrible periods of famine and privation even before the climate crisis, but we have also been allowed the luxury of a range of acts of the imagination not available to the planet Winter. We have, for example, in truly terrible ways, been allowed the “luxury” of war. Even if recovery from this luxury has varied depending on circumstances of resources and landscape as well.” • I’m not sure I agree with this reading. But it’s a sensitive reading nonetheless.
“Pitiless misogynist?” [Times Literary Supplement (AL)]. “[Lucien Freud’s] biographer William Feaver says that Freud’s portrait of the Queen, on show here, “wasn’t so different from the 1952 head of Francis Bacon”. Both are small. Both are painted close to. Bacon and Freud sat with their knees practically touching – not the case with Her Majesty. Both required many sittings. The royal portrait took a year, the Bacon two or three months. The Queen was captured on canvas, Bacon on a copper plate. And there is something copperplate about the Bacon portrait – meticulous, controlled, uniform, classical, a brilliant exercise in Ingres detail and finish. Part of the portrait’s power is the way it fills the space exactly, so the impression of mass is created, though the painting is small, cognate, you might say, with an Elizabethan miniature, a Nicholas Hilliard or an Isaac Oliver. The finish is quasi-enamel. It resists revealing its process. The portrait of the Queen is all process and brushstrokes. You see the Queen and you see the painter at work. The Bacon was painted in 1952, the Queen in 2001. At some point in the middle 1950s, under the influence of Bacon – whose portrait heads are wipes, approximate, confident swipes, gestural and kinetic, heads in motion – Freud changed his brushes from fine sable to coarse hog’s hair Filbert brushes. Which is why the two portraits are utterly different from each other. Feaver reports that when Richard Hamilton told Freud that his painting was no longer tenable – “You can’t work in your style nowadays” – Freud replied that it was ‘the only way he could work’. Meaning realism.”
Lucien #Freud – #KHM Exhibitions ” “Francis Bacon” (1952) #art #vienna #twitart #iloveart #wien #artwit #austria pic.twitter.com/jZQVldGJOG
— Frederic Hutter (@hutterdesign) January 11, 2014
Lucien Freud: “Queen Elisabeth II” pic.twitter.com/dwYtzGjj0N
— Alexander Verbeek 🌍 (@Alex_Verbeek) September 8, 2022
Portrait of Lucien Freud by Francis Bacon (1965) pic.twitter.com/fKHjG1I2H2
— Like Mike (@likeabletoo) July 2, 2022
Bacon’s paintings always remind me of…. bacon (only visually). Am I the only one?
“Long Social Distancing” [NBER]. “More than ten percent of Americans with recent work experience say they will continue social distancing after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and another 45 percent will do so in limited ways. We uncover this Long Social Distancing phenomenon in our monthly Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes. It is more common among older persons, women, the less educated, those who earn less, and in occupations and industries that require many face-to-face encounters. People who intend to continue social distancing have lower labor force participation – unconditionally, and conditional on demographics and other controls…. Economic reasoning and evidence suggest that Long Social Distancing and its effects will persist for many months or years.” • That’s an amazingly high number of sensible people, given the intensity of the propaganda and the forces arrayed against them. Maybe the Fed needs to crack the whip harder?
Silicon Valley’s labor aristocrats were riding for a fall:
Funny how the disappearance of unlimited equity funding regardless of risk forces businesses to behave like, well, businesses. 🤨 https://t.co/cVptBSggLj
— Semi-Official TED (@EpicureanDeal) December 6, 2022
Turns out that instead of scarfing down the free lunches and massages + fighting about idpol, they should have been organizing unions. Ah well, nevertheless.
News of the Wired
News you can use (except in the snowbound areas of the country, of course):
Okay so this is why you always turn off your gas at the valve. Some little asshole chewed through my BBQ’s natural gas line. Luckily it was off. pic.twitter.com/ufUQsEiPoH
— SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) December 2, 2022
* * *
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:
* * *
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:
If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!