2:00PM Water Cooler 8/19/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/19/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Scarlet Tanager, Sugarloaf Mountain, Frederick, Maryland, United States. I have always loved the name “Scarlet Tanager,” but for once I actually recognize the song!

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

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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Biden Administration

“Biden keeps student loan borrowers in suspense over payment pause” [The Hill]. “President Biden is keeping student loan borrowers in suspense over whether he’ll decide to again extend a freeze on repayments with less than two weeks to go until the Aug. 31 cutoff date. It’s the smallest window of time borrowers have had so far since the pause in federal loan repayments began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lawmakers and advocates pressuring the administration to make a decision that revolves around crucial financial planning…. The delay in announcing a decision and the approaching midterm election raises questions over if the news will include more than a payment pause extension and potentially a long-awaited decision to forgive some amount of such debt. The freeze has been extended six times since loan payments were first put on hold in March 2020 under former President Trump.” • Kudos, President Trump [snicker].

“Biden to host summit on countering hate-fueled violence” [The Hill]. “President Biden plans to host a summit in mid-September focused on stamping out the effects of hate-fueled violence in the United States in furtherance of his campaign pledge to unify the country….. ‘The United We Stand Summit will bring together heroes from across America who are leading historic work in their communities to build bridges and address hate and division, including survivors of hate-fueled violence,’ [White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre] said.” • Perhaps some members of the Azov battalion will attend? (Not to denigrate the work of actual, ground level “heroes” — Ferguson provided many examples — this looks like an NGO beauty contest, to me.


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GA: “Senators Warnock, Ossoff, and Reed visit Robins Air Force Base” [WFXL]. • I hope they got the opportunity to fire off some weaponry! Also, where’s my six hundred bucks?

MN: “Democrats blast Minnesota GOP candidate’s ‘vote with bullets’ remarks” [NBC]. “Democrats on Thursday accused a Republican-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota Senate of condoning political violence, when he talked about the need for ‘voting with the ballot before we have to vote with bullets.’ The candidate, Stephen Lowell, countered that he wasn’t advocating violence but instead simply warning about what can happen when people lose faith in their government…. ‘We need to grow our teeth back. Fast,’ Lowell told the crowd. ‘So, part of those teeth, in this particular set of terms, is voting with the ballot before we have to vote with bullets. Because at the end of the day, when people don’t believe that their elections are stable, they don’t believe that police will protect them, they stop using the democratic, of any kind, method. … And so we have to bring back that faith, and we have to come out and vote.’” • Is this the Republican version of the Democrat “vote harder”?

Democrats en Déshabillé

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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Realignment and Legitimacy

Fun with HR at Vox:

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There’s a lot going on here, starting with the cheerful assumption that poking HR in the eye with a sharp stick by not filling out their lavish example of successor ideology is a job-winning strategy. I pass over in silence “Identify my ___ identity” (which leaves open the intriguing if slightly recursive possibility that my identified identity is not my actual identity). What really frosts me, though, is the single entry for “White.” I not only identify as a “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” (WASP), I am one. And yet HR throws me into the same bucket as “white trash.” This is violence.

Once again, whoever threw this over the transom, take a bow!


Lambert here: The decision on how to handle the Coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be that advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration crowd of democidal loons: Let ‘er rip. It seems reasonably clear that this collective decision on behalf of society wasn’t made at any level of “our democracy,” but…. higher up, by an elite that hates masking, thinks pills and injections can give them invulnerability, and loves to socialize at conferences and other such superspreading events. The “let me see your smile” attitude comes from the top.

• Resign, Walensky!

Note both the WFH and school ventilation situations are covered by Invariant #1 of “Neoliberalism Expressed as Simple Rules“: “The rules of neoliberalism do not apply to those who write the rules.” More:

So both Walensky and Jha are fully aware of what it takes to protect themselves and their children in wealthy Newton, and they make sure it happens, while denying that the same protections are needed for the rest of the country. Please explain to me, then, why “eugenics” is not an appropriate label for lliberal Democrat Covid policy? Too imflammatory? (I love it that both Walensky and Jha are from the same town. That’s just too perfect.)

• “Stop Telling Americans That They’re ‘Tired of Covid’” [The Nation]. “As health equity expert Anne Sosin recently commented, US pandemic policy is being shaped by ‘acceptance of a high death toll rather than the aspiration to reduce it.’” Again, somebody please explain why “eugenics” is the wrong word for liberal Democrat Covid policy. More: “Over recent months, official efforts to steer messaging away from the pandemic and roll back Covid protections have been justified with claims that could seem like common sense: that the public is ‘tired‘ and ‘burned out‘ and experiencing ‘pandemic fatigue‘; that we find Covid measures ‘burdensome.’” Naturally, they’re lying: “[T]he data on public opinion and the pandemic suggest that levels of concern about the pandemic have not declined significantly. While it is true that some opinion polls have suggested high levels of public frustration regarding Covid, only a slightly larger fraction of respondents believe Americans should ‘learn to live with the pandemic’ than believe we should ‘do more to vaccinate, wear masks, and test.’ More recent polls suggest that 70 percent of Americans see the pandemic optimistically—as ‘a problem, but manageable’—potentially suggesting widespread support for preventive measures. A poll last week found that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support vaccine and mask mandates in schools.” And the obvious: “America’s leaders have long understood that popular opinion is far from fixed, and that public sentiment can be whipped up when necessary.” • Well worth reading in full.

• ”‘Most have thrown their hands up’: has the US forgotten about Covid?” [Guardian]. “Arghavan Salles, a clinical associate professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, expressed her frustrations over how officials and the public appears to be moving on from Covid-19, which continues to put healthcare workers under huge strain. “It feels somewhat like a personal affront, like all our sacrifices mean absolutely nothing because in the end, no one cares,” said Salles, who worked at ICUs during the height of the pandemic.” • To my knowledge, Biden has not once acknowledged the tens of millions of Americans who adopted non-pharmaceutical interventions like masks or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes. That silence is about as big a “[family blog] you” as can be imagined. Especially from one of the adults in the room who was supposed to be better than Trump.

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• Twitter now censoring any negative inforrmation on Covid, even if it’s “the science”?

The Twitter support notes on the several examples are idiotic. This stuff is not easy, as this humble blogger knows!

• Here is another example:

I believe it was IM Doc (please correct if wrong) who coined the phrase that “Covid is a vascular disease that presents as respiratory.” So what the account says is perfectly reasonable.

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• ”Air and surface sampling for monkeypox virus in UK hospitals” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Methods: “We investigated environmental contamination with MPXV from infected patients admitted to isolation rooms in the UK, to inform infection prevention and control measures. Surface swabs of high-touch areas in isolation rooms, of healthcare worker personal protective equipment (PPE) in doffing areas, and from air samples collected before and during bedding change were analysed using MPXV qPCR to assess contamination levels. Virus isolation was performed to confirm presence of infectious virus in key positive samples.” Results: “Significantly, three of four air samples collected during a bed linen change in one patient’s room were positive (Ct 32·7-35·8). Replication-competent virus was identified in two of four samples selected for viral isolation, including from air samples collected during the bed linen change.” • The CDC Monkeypox case report form cannot capture aerosolization during changing bed linens. I’d say this was unbelievable, if it were.

• Monkeypox shows up in New Haven wastewater:

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I forget who to credit for this link. Take a bow in comments!

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If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

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Case Count

Case count for the United States:

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Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~ 99,800. Today, it’s ~93,500 and 93,500 * 6 = a Biden line at 561,000 per day. First case count below (nominal) 100,000 for a long time. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

• ”High plateau”:

Regional case count for four weeks:

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The South:

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The South (minus Texas and Florida):

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The West:

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From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 17:

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NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

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Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 19:

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I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

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Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 19:

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Flat calm on the hospital front. If you’re CDC, and that’s all that matters to you — because Long Covid isn’t a thing, and everybody who is really sick can get to a hospital — you’re probably feeling good right now.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. 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? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 6:

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Complete takeover by BA.5/BA.4. I wonder what’s coming next?

Variant data, national (CDC), July 30 (Nowcast off):

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BA.5/BA.4 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), August 15:

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For grins, August 14:

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Looks unchanged. What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots (“no recent data”). because that would mean the effort is being shut down or defunded.

Lambert here: How come no new sites over the past week? The (nominal) case numbers are showing drops in Florida and Texas, but we’ve got no way of crosschecking with wastewater!


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Lambert here: If in fact the drop in cases is real, as CDC seems to believe, we should start seeing deaths, which lag, drop around September 1.

Total: 1,064,780 – 1,064,207 = 573 (573 * 1120 = 641,760; today’s LivingWith™* number. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. 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. NOTE * Perhaps YouGenix™ would be better? Although given the givens, perhaps MeGenix™ (Slogan: “I never thought it would happen to Me!”) would be more in keeping with the times.

The Gallery

Class Warfare

“UPS Says No to Air Conditioning, But Here’s a Surveillance Camera” [Labor Notes]. “The agitation and momentum we had generated through Safety Not Surveillance brought hundreds more members out to our campaign kick-off events, along with some reporters who had initially reached out because of our safety campaign. UPS has now installed fans in some trucks and apologized publicly for failing to install them before.” • Great, but “some”? Commentary:

It’s your own fault!

News of the Wired


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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 IM:

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IM writes: “Black and white nubbly textures to make the eyes dance!” Well done, Mr. Adams!

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