2:00PM Water Cooler 9/1/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/1/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Queensland, Australia. Media notes: “Habitat: Montane wet forest, not as viney as some we have seen, but very good stature Behavior: Male directly above his court.” I wonder if the dinosaurs built a whole civilization on bowers, which we don’t know about, because the bowers never fossilized…

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Politics

“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

“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap

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.

I have written of my disappointment that Bordieu’s Forms of Capital is nothing like The Bearded One’s Capital; it is, in fact, much more like a fabulously sophisticated and rigorous form of the media critique. So I finally took the bit between my teeth and ordered both Classification Struggles and Habitus and Field (from the Book Depository which although Amazon-owned, sigh, is not Amazon; they actually have customer service!). In Classification Struggles, Bordieu lays out his whole program starting on page one, and so I feel I am starting from first principles with his methods. I believe we have some Bordieu stans in the readership, so I would appreciate any help they can give in bringing me up to speed.

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Realignment and Legitimacy

Obama Legacy

#COVID19

• CDC’s site is down again:

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How am I supposed to do my daily personal risk assessment homework without any data? And speaking of “personal risk assessments”:

Thanks, liberals! No need to mask up for your conferences, no indeedy! And although I’m pressed temporally, and so don’t have time to create a sociopath of the day award, a special shout-out to David Leonhardt, liberel icon, from whose daily mailer the above chart was taken:

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A million corpses, and Leonhardt thinks “many liberal” took covid “too seriously” [bangs head on desk]. As for the liberal brainworms that turned public health measures into partisan signifiers, I can’t even. I thought it was only right-wing lunatics who did that! How wrong I was. And the focus on “[my personal] convenience” is a ***chef’s kiss.*** It’s unbelievable — rather, all-too-believable — that Leonhardt lets this moral vacuity pass as a mere data point, without comment, or indeed excoriation. (“The inconvenience of wearing a seatbelt is more than worth it to have people think I’m not a conservative.” “The inconvenience of wearing a condom is more than worth it to have people think I’m not a conservative.” And so forth.)

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• A collection of useful tips. Thread:

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• ”New data shows long Covid is keeping as many as 4 million people out of work” [Brookings Institution]. “The Census Bureau’s June to July 2022 HPS survey found that 16.3 million people (around 8%) of working-age Americans currently have long Covid.[1] This report uses HPS data rather than Current Population Survey (CPS) data—which is generally more robust—because the HPS asks questions specific to long Covid, and the CPS does not. The CPS asks about six specific manifestations of disability, which will likely identify some cases of long Covid, but almost certainly not all.[2] A recent Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis study corroborates the HPS figure. Using a longitudinal survey, it found that 24.1% of people who have contracted COVID-19 experienced symptoms for three months or more, which the author defined as long Covid.[3] And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70% of Americans have contracted COVID-19. If 24.1% of them have had long Covid, 34 million working-age Americans have, at some point, had long Covid. The Minneapolis Fed study found that 50% of respondents had recovered from long Covid. If we exclude that 50%, we are left with around 17 million people who may currently have long Covid—very near the HPS estimate of 16.3 million.[4]…. Using the Minneapolis Fed, TUC, and Lancet data on extent of work reductions gives us 2 million, 3 million, and 4 million full-time equivalent workers out of the labor force due to long Covid, respectively. The midpoint of this range—3 million full-time equivalent workers—is 1.8% of the entire U.S. civilian labor force.[5].” • A critique:

Whatever. Isn’t the real question why “a single Brookings think tanker” is putting together this rather important number? Instead of, for example, a First World government like our own?

• Hat tip CDC for saying you can leave quarantine after five days with no test (1):

• Hat tip CDC for saying you can leave quarantine after five days with no test (2):

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• Maskstravaganza: From a former Surgeon General of the United States:

Because hospital infection control departments have (a) a lot of institutional power and (b) brain worms?

• Maskstravaganza: Masks as fashion items once more:

This isn’t a mask I’d wear; I think we need to get away from the lapidary, and work on the construction of the mask itself, as a fashion designer would. Why not, for example, spherical, transparent space helmets? (“André Courrèges released his Moon Girl collection, including white go-go boots and tall, spherical hats, in the spring of 1964″)

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I’ll pass on the go-go boots. But the space helmet is pretty neat!

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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 ~88,700. Today, it’s ~87,550 and 87,550 * 6 = a Biden line at 525,300 per day. (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 we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

Regional case count for four weeks:

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The South:

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Florida and Texas to resume their dance, though Texas is a little coy.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

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The West:

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California on a “high plateau”?

Wastewater

SITE DOWN Wastewater data (CDC), August 27:

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Very unhappy with the grey dots in California, or virtually no dots in Texas and Florida. We have no check on case numbers in critical states.

For grins, August 23:

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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.

Positivity

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 1:

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-2.0%. The downward trend inside the red circle is actually encouraging.

Transmission

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.

SITE DOWN 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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This is actually improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 30:

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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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NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 30:

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Lots of green, which should make the hospital-centric goons at the Centers for Disease happy. Then again, Light Green is trending down, and Dark Green is straight down. What I would like to see is a lot of Dark Green. But I’m not.

NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.

Variants

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].

Lambert here: The last real — i.e., not modeled — data from CDC is August 6. That’s such a ginormous derelection I don’t even know what to say. Basic disrespect for honest, hardworking Americans trying to make their “personal risk assessments.” How on earth are people supposed to do that without variant data? Do the morons at CDC think BA.5 is going to be the last?

Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 20:

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Still no sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

SITE DOWN Variant data, national (CDC), August 6 (Nowcast off):

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No sign of BA2.75 as yet.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,071,420 – 1,069,748 = 1,672 (1,672 * 365 = 610, 280, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). Rather a lot; maybe CDC found some deaths in a drawer. 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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 5 thousand to 232 thousand in the week ended August 27th from a downwardly revised 237 thousand in the previous period and well below the market estimate of 248 thousand. It was the lowest level for initial claims since the week ending June 25th, pointing to tight labour conditions even in an economic growth slowdown.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 20,485 jobs in August of 2022. It is the lowest reading in six months.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI was steady at 52.8 in August of 2022, the same as in July, and close to 53 in June. Figures beat market forecasts of 52, but still pointed to low levels of factory growth not seen since June 2020. New orders returned to expansion (51.3 vs 48), supplier deliveries remain at appropriate tension levels (55.1 vs 55.2) and prices softened again (52.5 vs 60), reflecting movement toward supply/demand balance. Meanwhile, employment rebounded (54.2 vs 49.9), with few indications of layoffs, hiring freezes or head-count reductions through attrition. On the other hand, production slowed (50.4 vs 53.5).”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 1 at 1:40 PM EDT.

Gunz

“Federal judge rules New York can restrict gun carrying” [The Hill]. “Judge Glenn Suddaby of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed a motion for an injunction blocking the law from taking effect on Thursday, arguing the plaintiffs, the Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the Gun Owners Foundation, did not have standing to represent their members in court. … New York passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA) in July, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a previous state law requiring a proper cause for those who wish to conceal and carry in public. The CCIA requires applicants for a concealed carry permit to undergo 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire exercises. Applicants would also be subjected to a review of social media accounts for the past three years to assess character, a rule coming in the wake of deadly mass shootings. Additionally, carrying a firearm in amusement parks, schools, churches, subways and other places deemed sensitive by the state would be prohibited. Gun owners would also need to gain permission from property owners to bring a gun on private property. The CCIA also requires four character references who can attest to the applicant’s ‘good character,’ a point the GOA challenged as subjective. The plaintiffs also challenged the sensitive locations provision determined by the state and the training requirements, as well as other aspects of the law. Suddaby, while dismissing the plaintiff’s request for an injunction blocking the CCIA from taking place, delivered a mixed opinion on each of the challenged counts but seemed inclined to back the plaintiffs if the case had went the full distance. ‘The undersigned is left with a strong sense of the safety that a licensed concealed handgun regularly provides, or would provide, to the many law-abiding responsible citizens in the state too powerless to physically defend themselves in public without a handgun,’ Suddaby wrote. He was in favor of the plaintiff’s arguments that the ‘good character’ requirement was based on ‘vague, subjective criteria.’ The judge also disagreed with the state’s list of “sensitive” locations barring gun owners from carrying, which he said includes places that are ‘nonsensitive by nature.’ However, Suddaby did back the state on requirements for training, character references, an in-person interview with an officer and a social media background check. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who defended the new law on behalf of the state, released a statement Wednesday night saying she had successfully fended off ‘baseless attacks by the gun lobby.’” • Sounds well-regulated to me. What’s the issue?

Zeitgeist Watch

No:

Please, please make this a parody, I’m begging you. Think of the hotel staff!

Class Warfare

“‘Hot Strike Summer’: Hundreds of Thousands of UK Workers Are Going on Strike” [Teen Vogue]. “Organized labor has coordinated a long, hot summer of strikes across the United Kingdom, with close to 200,000 workers from vital sectors fighting for decent wages and fair working conditions. Many are also opposing cuts to pensions, the introduction of grueling working hours, and compulsory layoffs. Dubbed ‘hot strike summer,’ this recent wave has set the scene for some of the largest walkouts in decades — and it shows little sign of fizzling out soon. Since April, industrial action has been springing up across sectors whose ‘key workers’ have sustained essential services since the start of the pandemic: railways, buses, garbage collection, telecoms, postal services, ports, and criminal courts. More are likely to follow, with unions for nurses, teachers, university staff, civil servants, airport staff, and firefighters considering votes for possible action. Why now? Because several calamities have curdled into one. After enduring more than a decade of wage stagnation, workers are now grappling with runaway inflation, set to top 22% in the UK by the end of this year. What’s more, some unions are accusing employers of capitalizing on COVID-19 as an ‘opportunity‘ to push through cost-cutting measures and contract changes. Many workers claim they face pressure to sign away certain conditions that would have them ‘working longer and harder for less‘ and to accept changes that would undermine job security. There is significant public support for those striking for a fair deal, particularly among young people, who are overrepresented in precarious, low-wage work with poor union density.” • Hmm. Perhaps a long cold winter will deal with all this. (Very glad to see Teen Vogue continue with labor coverage.)

News of the Wired

“This is a test of Twitter’s new Edit Tweet feature. This is only a test” [Twitter]. “For this test, Tweets will be able to be edited a few times in the 30 minutes following their publication. Edited Tweets will appear with an icon, timestamp, and label so it’s clear to readers that the original Tweet has been modified. Tapping the label will take viewers to the Tweet’s Edit History, which includes past versions of the Tweet. For context, the time limit and version history play an important role here. They help protect the integrity of the conversation and create a publicly accessible record of what was said.” • Finally (though it will be interesting to see how twisted minds game it).

“You’re Not Stringer Bell, but You May Still Need a Burner Phone” [Wired]. “If you pay cash for the hardware and the service, you are theoretically untethered from being traced to the phone with your bank account, credit card, or home address. …. A burner phone can allow you to be accessible by phone but with a different phone number than your main one. If you value keeping your main cell number nonpublic, but you still need to be reachable to a large number of people, a prepaid phone may be simpler than getting a second line or using a service like Google Voice.”

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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 PH:

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PH writes: “My Irish plants are as yet uncompiled, but, just for fun, here’s a nice one, Stachys officinalis, wood betony, from Bull Island, Clontarf, Dublin.”

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Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

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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!

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