2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2023

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2023 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I hope my [pastes]f[pastes]fing mis[pastes]firing “[pastes]f” key doesn’t a[pastes]f[pastes]f my style in any way; I’d hate to [pastes]find mysel[pastes]f writing around it.

Let me also reinforce a Thomas Ferguson’s point by quoting it: “If there were a sort of VIX index for instability in politics that you could easily calculate, I’d say this thing is much dicier than people think.” The upcoming elections are going to drive pandemic policy, both Covid and whatever is to come. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Namaqua Dove, NEAR ISIOLO; 12.8KM ON WAJOR ROAD, Eastern, Kenya. “SONG – SUCCESSION OF SOFT SINGLE COOS. BUSHES IN SAVANNAH, DRY TYPE. MACHINE NOISE.” Kenya, 1955. This is an amazing historical document; most of it is not a cooing dove, but speech from a Brit who sounds like he’s wearing a pith helmet complaining about his malfunctioning microphone; this example of the birding genre deserves the complete parodic treatment. I am reminded of this, by Alan Bennett:

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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


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Trying Trump: Scandal May Be His Element — But This Time May Be Different” [Jonathan Turley, The Messenger]. “Destroying Trump in a scandal is like trying to drown a manatee: Both are in their element. The fact is that many people will see this indictment as confirmation of their worst expectations of either Trump or the Justice Department. It will be difficult to get through a trial before the 2024 presidential election. Even if the Justice Department pushed for a trial, judges likely would balk at the notion of trying this case months before the election. Either way, Trump — if he won reelection to the White House — could give himself a pardon before or after any conviction…. Regarding Mar-a-Lago, the reported inclusion of a charge under the Espionage Act is a bit surprising, given the novel legal issues surrounding the handling of such documents. However, the inclusion of false-statement and obstruction charges is what many of us have predicted all along. These are the favorite charges of federal prosecutors; they are easier to prove and can be presented as stand-alone offenses… Indeed, the ultimate jury in this case could prove to be the American people. The 2024 election could become a referendum on this case. I have long maintained that presidents can pardon themselves, and Trump could well use his mugshot as a campaign poster…. The Justice Department has done tremendous damage to itself — and, potentially, to this case — due to its prior history with Trump. FBI and Justice officials have shown open bias against him and have treated him differently than figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That record was further exposed recently by another special counsel, John Durham, who found that the Justice Department lacked a basis to launch the Russia-collusion investigation. Polls show that the majority of Americans harbor serious doubts about the independence and integrity of the FBI. Many voters are skeptical over yet another criminal allegation just before a presidential election…. He will surrender on Tuesday — but that will be only the start of an existential fight for Trump.” • On the Espionage Act, so recently abhorred by liberals:


I would conceptualize Tracey’s point at a higher level. Recall the great PMC chain of being; predatory precarity, as Waldman describes it. Those above accumulating social capital from those below; and they in turn being preyed upon by those above them. Clearly, in the official Washington and the Acela Corridor generally, both the ability to classify information, and the ability to declassify it, whether de facto or de jure, are both forms of social capital available to the PMC* (“I would say that our Mr. Swain has recently come into possession of a very high-grade source of intelligence and is busy converting it into power.” –William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive.) Trump’s brutal handling of these precious secrets is both a cultural affront to the PMC, and a threat to their class power. In fact, if Trump does not have “a high degree of discretion” over classified material, unelected PMC classifiers would be running the exective branch, and not the whichever elected official holds the Presidency under Article II. This class power is something I think the PMC would very much like to exercise, and it should come as no surprise that they are collectively “working toward” it. (This would be one way of looking at the change in the Constitutional order initiated in 2016.) So, Trump’s indictment becomes a “classification struggle,” exactly at Bourdieu described it, a result that I think would please him very much. NOTE * A status hierarchy based on “access” to classified material might be a dividing line between what we might label as the “national” PMC, and other PMC **subclasses, an interesting result. NOTE ** I believe in multiple inheritance.

“Trump Associate Indicted in Mar-a-Lago Documents Case” [Wall Street Journal]. Really a wrap-up: “Donald Trump shook up his legal team Friday, one day after he and an associate were indicted in Miami over the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as prosecutors considered unsealing the charges against the former president and law enforcement braced for the potential for unrest. Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta—who went to work at the Florida resort after working in the Trump White House—also faces charges alongside Trump, according to a social media post from Trump and a person familiar with the matter. The federal case against Trump and Nauta has been initially assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020 and last year approved a request from the Trump team to appoint an outside arbiter—known as a special master—to review documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago in an August search. A three-judge appeals court panel later overturned her ruling and disbanded that review process, saying it represented a radical departure from past criminal cases.” • Trump’s “associate” is his valet? That seems a little low.

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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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“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.

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

Let’s straighten out Hospital Infection Control:

You can still comment, before 5:00pm today

So if you have the inclination, go comment when you finish Water Cooler!

Covid Is Airborne

The Big Smoke:

More dunking on the droplet goons:

Can’t have too much of that, really.

More dunking on the anti-maskers:

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“What Wildfire Smoke, Gas Stoves and Covid Tell Us About Our Air” [Linsey Marr, New York Times]. “If the pandemic was whispering to us about air quality, the wildfires are screaming to us about it. Add to that concerns about gas stoves and longer allergy seasons, and it’s clear we should be on the precipice of a new public health movement to improve the air we breathe.” The pandemic wasn’t “whispering,” nor were aerosol scientists or NPI advocates. But do go on. “The particles in wildfire smoke are about the same size as respiratory particles that carry the coronavirus, so some of the same tools we used during the pandemic also work for wildfire smoke. Indoors, the portable air filtration unit that some people used to scrub viruses from the air will also remove smoke particles. Run it on high. If you must go outdoors, wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask such as an N95 or a KN95, which are designed to filter out at least 95 percent of particles of all types.” So now the PMC are authorizing themselves to protect each other because (a) this being the stupidest timeline, they are only reacting to what they can see and (b) because the authorities told them they could. More: “As the saying goes, we wouldn’t accept a glass full of dirty water, and we should no longer accept a lungful of dirty air.” • I won’t dunk on Marr, because the Times is justly giving space to one of the aerosol scientists who made this moment, if moment it be, come true. But Holy Lord, did the Times editorial team have molasses brain on this, or what? More:

Instant. Just instant. PMC schooling behavior (I’m assuming this is Dupont Circle, not Anacostia). Just imagine: Many thousands of lives could have been saved if Biden had said “Wear a mask!” and modeled masking behavior, consistently, throughout the pandemic. Instead, we got that “scarlet letter” foo-fra from garbage-mouthed Rochelle Walensky.


Hot mask summer:

This tweet doesn’t even have a hash tag and it’s still going strong. The power of a great concept!

Testing and Tracking

“COVID-19 monitoring with sparse sampling of sewered and non-sewered wastewater in urban and rural communities” [Cell]. “However, large-scale studies on SARS-CoV-2 detection in wastewater from low-and middle-income countries is limited due to economic and technical reasons…. Results showed an increase in SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in wastewater from urban and rural areas 14-20 days earlier than infected individuals were officially reported. It also showed that community/food markets were ‘hot spots’ for infected people. This approach offers an opportunity for early detection of transmission surges, allowing preparedness and potentially mitigating significant outbreaks at both spatial and temporal scales.”


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Elite Maleficence

As soon as Walensky disappears — though I think she’s still wandering about the office, dispensing her famous “warmth,” and smiling — things improve:

CDC immediately and heartily endorses masks for wildfire smoke; I’ll take the win. But remember how I’ve been whining that clip art always represents masks as ineffective and gappy “Baggy Blues”? The mask in that tweet looks a lot like a KN95 to me; it’s white, and not blue. True, it’s got earloops and not head straps, but at least the artwork isn’t steering people in the wrong direction.

Ashish Jha tells the whole truth, or once in his life:

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From what? The answer is: From nothing. Biden’s policy of mass infection without mitigation protected nobody.

Hospital Infection Control whacking more patients:

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from June 5:

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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.


From CDC, June 10:

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Lambert here: Looks to like XBB.1.16 and now XBB.1.16 are outcompeting XBB.1.9, but XBB.1.5 has really staying power. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell. Looks like the Walgreens variants page isn’t updating.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 3:

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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.


NOT UDPATED From Walgreens, June 5:

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0.4%. Frequency down to once a week.


Death rate (Our World in Data), from June 7:

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Lambert here: Theatre of the absurd. I can believe that deaths are low; I cannot believe they are zero, and I cannot even believe that all doctors signing death certificates have agreed to make it so. Looks to me like some administrative minimizer at WHO put the worst intern in charge of the project. And thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 billion endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to the clown car at WHO.

Total: 1,166,408 – 1,166,331/del> = 77 (77 * 365 = 28,105 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).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 4:

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Lambert here: Actually some encouragement!

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Monopolies: “The Saudi-PGA Tour Golf Deal Isn’t Going to Happen” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “There is no way this merger happens in its current form, as it’s obviously creating an illegal monopoly. There is a lot of grey area in antitrust law, but when two companies want to merge to a monopoly, and announce it as such, that’s a violation of black letter law. In fact, this deal is so wildly and comically against the law that I actually don’t think it is intended to close. If I had to guess, I would say it’s a desperate move by the Saudis to keep their dirty laundry out of an American courtroom in a separate but related case. Indeed, the more I look into it, the more baffled I become.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 6 at 1:39 PM ET. • What’s gotten Mr. Market so exuberant? Trump’s indictment?

The Gallery

“How a New Wave of ‘Hypersentimental’ Portraiture Is Serving Up Painting for the Age of Vibe Shifts and Nano-Influencers” [Artnet]. • No.

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Look, I grant that velvet isn’t the most forgiving surface…

Class Warfare

“Hollywood’s hot strike summer” [Axios]. “This fall might be a great time to catch up on your streaming list — Hollywood has one union on strike, and studios are facing more labor strife that could result in further shutdowns this summer. Why it matters: The streaming era has fundamentally broken the industry, and that has Hollywood’s biggest unions united to a degree we haven’t seen in decades. It’s not just Hollywood that’s embroiled in media labor battles either….” • Maybe the writers — I’m not knocking the writers — could demonstrate solidarity by writing content for other unions? Having listened to many episodes of “West Wing Thing,” I know they could add some humor to the situation — sorely needed!

You can bet nobody’s reporting PMC children to CPS, let alone the children of the wealthy:

News of the Wired

On the spectrum:

When I worked at Midwest firm, I actually had to be told — not unkindly — that some amenities were required before I got down to business.

This is a bit long, but un; I hadn’t thought Pierre Bourdieu would look a bit like a French movie star, but he does:

Sociology is a Martial Art from SCWIBI on Vimeo.

I’m really posting this for two pretty trivial reasons: First, I love the title: “Sociology is a Martial Art.” Let’s do that. Second, while I was finding it, the phrase “shambolic capital” (to go with “symbolic capital” and “social capital”) popped into my head. Is it possible to accumulate chaos, to achieve power over others by embodying and creating it? I think it can; recall also — I think I have this right — that volatility favors the speculator, and the deeper the pockets, the more favor. One thinks of Boris Johnson. Or Trump. Or for that matter any of the “disruptors” in Silicon Valley (and their backers). Chaos is a ladder….

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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 Chet G:

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Chet G writes: “This dogwood is close to my front door (very convenient as well as very lovely).” This photo reminds me of a Japanese print, it’s so lovely (though no particular print). And “close to my front door” reinforces a prior of mine, that beauty can always be found close at hand; it’s only a matter of looking (though perhaps a change of scale, or distance, may be required).

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