Type to search

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020


2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, another household debacle caused me to get a late start. Worse, the echoes are still reverberating. So I’ve put out a skeletal version with an item in every bucket, and I will update on a rolling basis. Sorry! –lambert


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020 2

The data is the John Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I have changed to a logarithmic scale for US States and territories.

New York’s geometric growth is back up to 1.02 from 1.0. This is getting tedious. Upstate spread?

* * *

See Vice, “How to Read the Coronavirus Graphs“:

Quantities that grow exponentially, when depicted on a linear scale, look like curves that bend sharply upward, with the curve getting constantly steeper. On a log scale, exponentially growing values can be depicted with straight diagonal lines.

That’s the beauty of plotting things on log scales. Plots are meant to make things easy to understand, and we humans are much more adept at understanding linear, straight-line behavior. Log plots enable us to grasp exponential behavior by transferring the complexity of constantly steepening curves into the simplicity of an exponentially increasing scale.

On a log scale, we want to constantly be making the line more and more horizontal. The general concept of “flattening” is still a good one, but it’s never going to curve down. And so what we should be looking, and hoping for is a trend toward horizontal.


“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

* * *


Amash (R)(1): “2 competing theories about how Justin Amash changes the 2020 race” [Chris Cillizza, CNN]. “his likely candidacy has set off a furious debate within the political world that centers on this question: Does Amash’s candidacy make it more or less likely that President Donald Trump can win a second term in November? There’s no simple answer — partly because of Amash’s current status as man without a political country (he left the GOP and became an independent after saying Trump should be impeached) and partly due to the difficulties of calculating just how high Trump’s electoral ceiling actually is.”

Biden (D)(1): “Republicans Ridicule Democrats For Caring As Little About Sexual Assault As They Do” [The Onion]. “‘The silence of liberals on these allegations speaks volumes to how they apparently treat sexual assault as lightly and inconsequentially as we as a party always have—man oh man, it’s really astounding,’ said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).”

Sanders (D)(1): “Biden reaches deal to let Sanders keep hundreds of delegates” [Associated Press]. “Democratic candidates win convention delegates based on their share of the vote in the party’s primaries and caucuses. Nearly two-thirds of delegates are won based on results in individual congressional districts, and they stay with the candidates all the way to the convention. It’s the other third of delegates — won based on statewide results — that are at issue. To keep these delegates, candidates must still be running for president when the people who will serve as convention delegates are selected, usually at state party conventions, according to the party’s delegate selection rules. The delegate agreement says Sanders would get to keep a little more than 300 delegates that, under party rules, he sacrificed when he suspended his campaign. Officially, they would remain Biden’s delegates, but Sanders’ supporters would get to fill those seats. Both the Biden and Sanders campaigns will have the authority to approve or reject the people who want to fill those delegate slots.” • I’m a little dubious about this whole concept of “rules,” since there are so many other cases where they are bent, revised, mysteriously ignored, etc.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Meet the Lobbyists, Developers, and Insiders On Bowser’s ReOpen DC Committees” [“Loose Lips,” Washington City Paper]. “LL needs to take a shower, and it’s not because he’s been wearing the same pair of sweats for the past week. He’s just feeling a little slimy after reading through the list of individuals who will join the advisory group that will help Mayor Muriel Bowser and her administration figure out when and how to reopen the District after the coronavirus pandemic. As others have pointed out, Bowser’s advisory committee, broken up into sectors such as restaurants, education, public safety, health, and real estate, include many of the usual suspects who hang around the District government—the “highfalutin mucky mucks,” as Rev. Graylan Hagler calls them.” • Another “empowered council”?

“Op-Ed: Yes, the government can restrict your liberty to protect public health” [Los Angeles Times]. “There have been very few Supreme Court cases involving the government’s power to deal with the spread of communicable diseases. The most relevant decision for today was issued in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts in 1905. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a state law requiring compulsory vaccinations against smallpox. The court declared, ‘Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.’ The court explicitly rejected the claim that “liberty” under the Constitution includes the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health in instances where those decisions could endanger others. But the court also made clear that restrictions imposed by the government to control communicable diseases must have a ‘real or substantial relation’ to protecting public health. Under this standard, there is no doubt that quarantine, ‘shelter in place, and closure requirements are constitutional as a way of stopping the spread of COVID-19, even though they restrict freedom.”

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.

Purchasing Managers Index: “April 2020 Chicago Purchasing Managers Barometer Drops Deeper In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The Fed manufacturing surveys were in contraction this month because of the coronavirus impacts.”

Honey for the Bears: “May 2020 Economic Forecast Now In Coronavirus Contraction” [Econintersect]. “You do not have to be an economist to understand the U.S. is in a recession. The question now is how fast will the economy recover – and it is too early to make any realistic forecast as too little is still know on how this pandemic will subside. This is a black swan economic event.” • Is it, though?

* * *

Retail: “Macy’s to Reopen Dozens of Stores, Sets Timeline for Full Return” [Bloomberg]. “Macy’s Inc. plans to reopen dozens of its U.S. stores on Monday as the first wave of retailers prepares to get back to business after a mass shutdown of American shopping. The department store chain will resume operations at 68 locations in states that have loosened lockdown measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, Macy’s confirmed on Thursday. The retailer has more than 750 stores across the U.S. that have all been closed since mid-March, though e-commerce remained open.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 30 at 1:39pm. Holy cow! Back to neutral?

The Biosphere

“Cultivating fungal research” [Science]. “Fungi cover epithelial surfaces of the human body, engaging in many mutualistic interactions with the host and other microbiota such as the more prevalent bacteria. These interactions are shaped by multiple factors, including host physiology and immunity, as well as nutrient competition. The beneficial effects of fungal colonization for hosts include resistance to pathogens and tuning of the immune system. Although health benefits continue to be explored, recent studies have revealed expanded roles of fungi in human disease, including inflammatory disorders and specific cancers. The global burden of fungal infections is also expanding, with increased numbers of at-risk patients and increased resistance to limited antifungal drugs. More fungal research is needed to overcome these unmet needs…. Recent studies have begun to explore how fungi are multifaceted in their potential to lead to beneficial as well as pathogenic outcomes for the host. Commensalism in the context of human fungi is exemplified by colonization resistance against pathogens. An example of a beneficial effect is the dominant human skin–associated Malassezia, which have adapted to their niche by making use of skin lipids as a nutrient, and then secreting antimicrobial products that deter bacterial pathogens…. Given the complexity of host-microbial interactions, any alteration in the host or microbiota can result in infections.”

Health Care

Plus ça change….


“Virtual rate cut forces Nintendo gamers into riskier assets” [Financial Times]. “Savers at the Bank of Nook [in Animal Crossing] are being driven to speculate on turnips and tarantulas, as the most popular video game of the coronavirus era mimics global central bankers by making steep cuts in interest rates….. The total interest available on any amount of savings has now been capped at 9,999 bells — the in-game currency that can be bought online at a rate of about $1 per 1.9m bells….. The abrupt policy shift, imposed by an obligatory software update on April 23, provoked fury that a once-solid stream of income had been reduced to a trickle with the stroke of a raccoon banker’s pen…. It did not take long, however, for players to spot that they could defraud the game’s bank by depositing large sums in saving accounts and then ‘time travelling’ into the future by tweaking the console’s internal clock. The bank duly pays decades of compounded interest, making rapid bell millionaires. People familiar with the situation said the Bank of Nook rate cut was an attempt to curb that practice. Nintendo has made no official comment on the matter.” • Lol, a phishing equilibrium.

Guillotine Watch

“Hilarie Burton lets her gray hair grow out in solidarity with front-line workers” [Page Six]. “‘For all of our frontline and essential workers who are too busy to fuss with things like hair color, I grow mine out in solidarity with you,’ Burton continued. ‘When I see it, I’m reminded of all you’re doing to keep us safe. I’m reminded that you deserve to be taken care of.’” • “I’m reminded”…

Class Warfare

“Coronavirus Has Caused More Than 150 Strikes. This Map Is Tracking Them All” [Vice]. Map developed by Mike Elk of Payday Report. “‘But the strikes are ongoing, and probably more numerous than the strike map indicates, since so much of the country is now a ‘news desert’ meaning not covered by local reporters who would do things like write about strikes even if it wasn’t big national news being discussed by the president. It’s for good reason that Payday Report’s tagline is ‘Covering labor in news deserts.’”

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020 3

Click on the pin that represents a strike, get the strike details.

News of the Wired

“”Who’s Laughing Now, A**holes?” A Letter from Henry David Thoreau to Literature Faculties at Cushy Liberal Arts Schools” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “A few months ago, you were talking smack about my year in a cabin. Now you’re trapped in your condo in Yonkers or the backside of Amherst or wherever, and you’d trade it in a heartbeat for 150 square feet and a whole forest full of owls and frogs and shit.” • McSweeney’s is formulaic. But it’s a good formula

* * *
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 (TH):

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020 4

TH writes: “I over exposed this one a bit and sort of like it that way. But then, Iris is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite, and I’d probably like it at any exposure.” I am always saying this or that flower is my favorite, but iris is really my favorite.

* * *

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.

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2020 5

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Up