2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2023

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2023 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Magpie-lark. Piesse Park (Katanning), Katanning, Western Australia, Australia. “Pair duet. Female woo-loop call in flight @ 0.17. 2nd duet- male lead. Near end- Male few out no call. Female called, followed male.” Woo-loop!

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“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

“The Wall Street Grumble” [American Economic Liberties Project]. “The American Economic Liberties Project has been tracking the number of editorials, op-eds, and letters to the editor published in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that raise concerns about the antitrust enforcement record of FTC Chair Lina Khan. In total, as of May 2023, the elite voices of the Wall Street Journal have published 63 pieces since the beginning of Khan’s tenure, all of them intending to undermine the FTC’s enforcement actions. In our view, that means Chair Khan is on the right path. According to our analysis, the Journal is publishing a screed against Chair Khan once every 11 days!”

“IRS Processing Updates Include Up To 20-Week Wait For Amended Tax Returns” [Forbes]. “According to the IRS, all paper and electronic individual returns received before January 2023 have been processed. Additionally, the agency claims it is opening mail within normal time frames. This means, they say, that all returns received for the tax year 2021 or earlier have been processed—if those returns had no errors or did not require further review. As of May 13, 2023, the IRS had 4.2 million unprocessed individual returns—yes, that number is higher than reported just a few weeks ago. That number includes tax year 2022 returns, 2021 returns that need review or correction, and late filed prior year returns. Of the unprocessed individual returns, 2 million returns require error correction or other special handling, and 2.2 million are paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed, nearly 3/4 million more than two weeks ago. These returns require special handling by an IRS employee, so in these instances, it will take the IRS more than 21 days to issue any related refund.” • News you can use!


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Tucker Carlson Hits ‘Draft Carlson PAC’ With Legal Complaint” [The Messenger]. “A recently unveiled super PAC that is urging former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to run for president in 2024 was hit with a cease-and-desist letter on Monday, according to reports. Carlson’s lawyer Harmeet Dhillon sent ‘Draft Tucker PAC’ the letter—obtained by The Daily Beast — saying the PAC is using Carlson’s ‘name, image, and likeness’ to raise money, despite the fact that he ‘will not run for President in 2024 under any circumstances.’”

“Marianne Williamson Loses Two Campaign Officials” [The Messenger]. “Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson lost two of her main campaign officials in back-to-back resignations, including her campaign manager, Peter Daou, and deputy campaign manager, Jason Call.” • Hmm.

“A ROCKSTAR JOINS FORWARD” [Andrew Yang]. “Some huge news came out this week – Krist Novoselic has joined the National Board of the Forward Party! Krist co-founded Nirvana with Kurt Cobain – he’s the tall, good-looking one playing the guitar toward the back…. Krist is no stranger to political activism. He was the chairman of Fairvote, an org championing Ranked Choice Voting, for 9 years and was the former chair of his local county Democratic Party. He even wrote a book, ‘Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy.’…. ‘The only way you do anything is to become really active,’ Krist says. He also said, in another context: ‘I kind of discovered my voice for the first time, and the more I did it, the better it got.’ That’s a pretty good summary of what Forward is about. Can we change the face of American politics? Krist thinks we can – and he’s done it once already.” • If that’s a good summary, the Forward Party is content-free.

Republican Funhouse

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.

“Maverick Joe Manchin on shaky ground in coal country over climate” [Financial Times]. “Democrats hope that the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains nearly $370bn in subsidies, can unleash a wave of green jobs across America, bringing prosperity to the faltering economies of the country’s depressed Appalachian region. But shortly after Manchin backed the plan, his approval rating in West Virginia — one of the regions likely to benefit from the green spending splurge — plummeted… A Morning Consult poll in October showed 51 per cent of West Virginia voters disapproved of Manchin’s job performance, compared with 38 per cent in the second quarter of the year, placing him among the country’s least popular senators… ‘No politician in West Virginia can win statewide office by saying that the climate is changing and we need to do something about it,’ said Hoppy Kercheval, a longtime radio show host based in Morgantown. ‘That is a political non-starter.’”

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Realignment and Legitimacy


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Look for the Helpers

If you are going to fly, read this excellent long thread from Jose-Luis Jimenez (an aerosol stalwart since before the beginning):

If you’re drinking coffee, put it down. Here is a long thread on “Bob” Wachter’s current Covid protocol (Wachter being the dude who infected his wife with Long Covid by chivvying her to go to a superspreader event, and got away clean with no reputational damage:

You can read the whole thing if you want to indulge your sense of grim fascination; notice in this first tweet that (A) Wachter assumes up front that he can judge risk when the public health establishment has carefully erased all the data he needs (though to be fair he later admits this, so why is point 1) even there? Further, he has nothing on CO2 metering, which would help him assess risk in real time, or sprays, which mitigate it. (B) it’s all about him (unsurprisingly). Surely the question of whether others (say, his wife) can live with Wachter’s behavior also matters? Even more offensively, Wachter wraps up this steaming load with hedonistic rhetoric about “joy” and “pleasure.” What a piece of work.

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“Toward a Values-Informed Approach to Complexity in Health Care: Hermeneutic Review” [The Milbank Quarterly]. “[R]eal-world complexityis not only (or even primarily) a mathematical phenomenon; it is a human, social, and political one characterized by strongly held values, contested meanings, and stakeholder conflicts. It requires not merely generalizable, abstract, and formal knowledge but also what Polanyi and Tsoukas have called ‘complex knowledge’—including embodied, intersubjective, collective, and distributed elements.The human and political dimension of complexity is illustrated by what have become known as ‘grand challenges,’ such as the climate emergency. These are often presented as grand in difficulty (multiple interacting components), grand in scope (extended temporal or spatial scale), or both and as requiring a heroic, all-out collaborative effort. Such framings emphasize the mathematical (or structural) complexityaris-ing from the sheer number of components and interactions in a system and resulting logistical challenges. However, another key feature of grand challenges is that they are grand in wickedness—that is, putting scale and logistics aside, they resist definitive description or clear solutions, they are inherently unpredictable, and efforts to address them often generate conflict among stakeholders. In other words, they also exhibit value(or normative) complexity, which we define as complexity that arises from differences in world views, interests, and values, leading to mistrust, misunderstanding, and conflict among stakeholders.” • A little turgid, perhaps, but worth some study (as is anything in which Trisha Greenhalgh is involved). Anyhow, I’m a sucker for hermeneutics. On “wicked,” see “wicked problems.”


Fashion-forward masking (1):

I clicked through: “As seen in People.” Good! Ear loops: Gaaah!

Fashion-forward masking (2):

Fashion-forward masking (3):

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“Emily Landon: Ending masking requirements in hospitals and clinics is a step backward for health care” [Chicago Tribune]. “A universal source-control masking strategy is a harm reduction approach that asks everyone to wear at least low-quality masks to reduce the amount of COVID-19, tuberculosis, influenza, rhinovirus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus, measles, mumps, etc. in the air around them, whether they know they have infection or not. It works much like the myriad other things we do in health care to protect you even if we may not know for sure that you need it, like hand washing, gloves, and cleaning rooms with bleach. We can’t easily tell when these things are needed and when we can safely skip them, so we do them for everyone, every time.

These kinds of interventions have reduced spread of multidrug-resistant organisms, decreased device related infections, and generally made health care safer, paving the way for more complex medical treatments and procedures. Without progress in infection prevention, many of the things we are able to do today (cancer treatments, transplants, complex surgeries) would not be possible because the risk of infection would be prohibitive. Unmasking in health care in order to ‘give health care workers a break from masks’ or ‘keep up with what others are doing’ is like saying we are going to provide the best health care 2019 has to offer. Yes, masks can be annoying and uncomfortable and there are definitely a few situations where we should ditch them for the sake of good communication. But they aren’t much different from gloves, electronic medical record best practice alerts, hand washing, bar code medication administration, fall precautions, medication reconciliation, or pharmacy verification — and you deserve every single one of them.” • Excellent piece. Circulate!

“Regional Healthcare Organizations Adopt Joint Consensus Statement: Continuation of Masking in Healthcare Facilities” [Northwest Healthcare]. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic healthcare organizations and local health jurisdictions throughout our region have maintained a strong commitment to collaboration with one another to ensure a coordinated approach to the healthcare system’s pandemic response and caring for patients. This collaboration continues as many of the region’s major medical institutions have again committed together to continue masking in their acute care and outpatient clinic facilities in advance of the removal of the Secretary of Health Mask Order on April 3, 2023. This decision is timely as the region continues to face a burden within the healthcare system and the risk for severe disease associated with infection amongst vulnerable populations is ongoing. This regional consensus provides a consistent and clear message that these healthcare organizations continue to prioritize the health and safety of both their patients and employees. This consensus statement informs each organization’s individual policies and procedures related to the continued protection of employees and patients through masking in patient care areas and public spaces.”

ACT-UP used shaming too:

“Highly regarded”:

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Celebrity Watch

“Paul Simon opens up about his ‘sudden’ hearing loss: ‘Nobody has an explanation for it’” [Yahoo News]. “Tis a mystery!


“Potential Prion Involvement in Long COVID-19 Neuropathology, Including Behavior” [Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology]. “Prion disorders exhibit, in part, incubation periods, neuronal loss, and induce abnormal folding of specific normal cellular proteins due to enhancing reactive oxygen species associated with mitochondria energy metabolism. These agents may also induce memory, personality and movement abnormalities as well as depression, confusion and disorientation. Interestingly, some of these behavioral changes also occur in COVID-19 and mechanistically include mitochondrial damage caused by SARS-CoV-2 and subsequenct production of reactive oxygen species. Taken together, we surmise, in part, long COVID may involve the induction of spontaneous prion emergence, especially in individuals susceptible to its origin may thus explain some of its manesfestions post-acute viral infection.” • I’ve gotta admit, this “potential” induces fear. I’ve seen other articles on Covid and prions, but this is the first one to propose a mechanism, so I included it. Readers?

“Yes, you’re tired. But are you hungry tired, angry tired, resignation tired, stupid tired …?” [Guardian]. “A new tiredness has dropped. According to the market researchers Mintel, 2023 is the year of ‘hyperfatigue‘ – which seems to describe a state of continual physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It’s nice of them to enrich our weariness one-upmanship with this concept, even if it sounds like something a French teenager would have said in the 90s; my computer even keeps trying to add an accent. But they aren’t wrong: tiredness – possibly, yes, hyperfatigue – is the malaise of our age. Everywhere is too light and too loud to sleep properly, and our animal brains are overwhelmed by rolling news of hundreds of global atrocities and dangers, TikTok, deepfakes and monitoring 48 WhatsApp groups. In a recent survey, 35% of people said they were too tired to make healthy changes to their diet and activity levels, suggesting many are in a vicious circle of fatigue-induced self-sabotage, leading to more fatigue. We’re too tired to tackle our tiredness, basically.” • I wonder if there could be some common factor. ‘Tis a mystery!

Elite Maleficence

Infection Control whacking more patients (1):

Infection Control whacking more patients (2):

“Dr. Bonnie” (!!!).

“Column: These ‘experts’ sold the U.S. on a disastrous COVID plan, and never paid a professional price” [Los Angeles Times]. “They’ve held credentials from some of the world’s most elite universities — Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Oxford. They’ve been welcomed into the highest government policy councils. They became fixtures on television news shows and were quoted incessantly by some of the nation’s leading newspapers. They’re a cadre of academics and scientists who pushed a discredited solution to the COVID pandemic, shunning masks, school closings, even vaccines, all in the name of reaching the elusive goal of ‘herd immunity,’ resulting in what may have been hundreds of thousands of unnecessary American deaths. That’s the contention of ‘We Want Them Infected,’ a painstakingly documented new book by Jonathan Howard, a neurologist at New York University and a veteran debunker of the pseudoscience contaminating our efforts to fight the pandemic.’” And: “In his book, Howard reserves his deepest scorn for the promoters of the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a manifesto for herd immunity published in October 2020 and signed initially by epidemiologists Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford; Martin Kulldorff, then of Harvard; and Sunetra Gupta of Oxford. (Thousands of other academics and scientists would later add their signatures)…. As Howard documents, the declaration was little more than a libertarian fantasy.” • Needs a copy editor. “Libertarian fantasy” is redundant.

“Might “Vitriolic Attacks” Against Emily Oster Rival COVID’s Carnage?” [Science-Based Medicine]. “Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in a New York City hospital throughout the pandemic, but I’m not too worried that vitriolic attacks against a famous, sheltered economist will soon rival COVID’s carnage. To be honest, I can’t even conceive of a ‘vitriolic attack’ that compares to tens of millions of dead people, especially considering so many of them should still be alive. The Delta and Omicron variants arrived shortly after Professor Oster published her article in the spring of 2021, proving that being a child wasn’t always a really great vaccine. However, even before this, there was already evidence that not all children were ‘naturally protected.’ Sadly, the fact that we did an OK job of protecting children early in the pandemic was used as ‘evidence’ they didn’t need protecting at all. It’s not a ‘vitriolic attack’ to point any of this out to Professor Oster- though assuredly, someone who pretends to value ‘debate and discussion,’ will frame it that way in the hopes of dissuading me and anyone else from making pointed criticisms in the future.”

The Jackpot

Catch ’em young:

Of course, I can’t be sure we didn’t have “Executive Functioning” camp for children before Long Covid was a thing. Nevertheless. Readers, have any of you spotted anything like this in the wild?

* * *

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from May 22:

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Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau. Are we are the point in the global pandemic where national experiences really diverge?

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

• “Bay Area doctor believes COVID-19 to become endemic this year” [ABC7]. “As health emergencies end across the country and in the Bay Area, UCSF Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong can finally say with confidence that society can collectively breathe a maskless sigh of relief… ‘I think this is a critical year because this is the year that COVID will become endemic,’ Dr. Chin-Hong said. Dr. Chin-Hong believes COVID is becoming predictable thanks to the amount of immunity in society as well as tools like treatment and vaccines. On top of this, he thinks yearly vaccines may only be needed by the most vulnerable and people over 65. ‘We as a society have to be prepared for as much as 100,000 to 250,000 people a year dying of those vulnerable groups,’ Dr. Chin-Hong said. ‘But, in general for your average person, it will probably fizzle out.‘” • So that’s alright then.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 13, 2023:

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Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 13:

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NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.