2:00PM Water Cooler 9/2/2022

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

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Great Bowerbird, Western Australia, Australia. Notes: “Male initially singing/calling near bower, then approach and scold me towards the end of the recording. Other Behaviors: Advertise, Scold. Habitat: Dry Forest.”

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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

Biden Administration

“Jon Stewart and the Pentagon honor Ukrainian Nazi at Disney World” [The Gray Zone]. “This August, during the Department of Defense’s annual Warrior Games at Disney World in Orlando, Florida this August 19-28, liberal comedian Jon Stewart awarded a Ukrainian military veteran named Ihor Halushka the ‘Heart of the Team’ award for ‘inspiring his team’ with his ‘personal example.’ Halushka happens to have been a member of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which has been armed by the US and integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard. The award-winning ultra-nationalist wore a sleeve over his left arm as he accepted the prize, presumably to cover up his tattoo of the Nazi Sonnenrad, or Black Sun…. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of this year, mainstream outlets from the Daily Beast to Vox to Foreign Policy, and even the US government propaganda outlet Voice of America, have each acknowledged the Azov Battalion’s embrace of Nazism. Right Sector group has been similarly identified as a fascist organization. Since the invasion, however, Western corporate media has downplayed the presence of Nazis in the Ukrainian armed forces as groups like Azov have taken on prominent front-line roles. Reached by phone, Warrior Games communication director Travis Claytor would not tell The Grayzone who covered the travel expenses of Team Ukraine and other foreign competitors.”

2022

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“Biden seeks to reframe midterms into stark choice between democracy and Trump-led extremism” [ABC]. “‘There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the ‘MAGA Republicans,’ and that is a threat to this country,’ Biden said Thursday during a prime-time speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. His remarks represented the culmination of weeks of ramped-up rhetorical attacks on not all Republicans but Trump-loyal Republicans, whom he has blasted as ‘ultra-MAGA Republicans’ and ‘MAGA extremists.’ Last week, he said ‘the entire philosophy that underpins; the GOP was akin to ‘semi-fascism.’” • But not suburban Republicans, good Lord no. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia.” I’m going to put on my yellow waders and look at Biden’s speech this weekend, but for now, I don’t even know what “akin to ‘semi-fascism’” even means. It’s not a serious statement. Maybe Biden is thinking of semi trucks? Meanwhile:

Adding, the Democrat did poll on “dark Brandon.” Ne

(To be fair, I think this image crops out the blue and white. Still, Marines in the background? Why not F-15s, while we’re at it?)

2024

“Trump search inventory shows empty ‘classified’ folders, commingled top secret and unclassified items” [Los Angeles Times]. “Twenty-seven documents with classified and top secret markings were recovered from former President Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to a detailed inventory of what the FBI removed during its court-approved search of the home last month. The eight-page inventory detailing over 10,000 government documents removed in the search includes the location where each item was found and if it was classified, but not the subject matter. In many cases, highly classified materials are listed as having been stored in the same boxes as hundreds of unclassified items, including newspaper and magazine clippings and clothing.” • Correct me if I’m wrong here — I’m not as on top of the detail here as I should be, because I have things to do, like re-organizing my sock drawer or lying in the sun with my eyes closed — but just because a document is marked “Classified” doesn’t mean it is Classified. Which, presumably, is why the Los Angeles Times is careful to say “markings.” The same goes for “documents” and “items.” So the headline is a bit deceptive.

#COVID19

“Tiny discovery in Chinese lab could be a big deal in stopping Covid-19” [South China Morning Post] (Nature original). “A Chinese research team has developed a nanomaterial that can find Sars-CoV-2 viruses in a living cell and remove them. Unlike most existing Covid-19 drugs, the material can inhibit infections from all major variants including Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron with high biosafety, the researchers said….. The structure of the material – called CIPS because it is made of copper, indium, phosphorus and sulphur – takes the form of nanosheets that are about 200 nanometres, around the size of two viral particles…. Normally, the Sars-CoV-2 virus invades human cells with help of the spike protein on its surface. The spike protein binds with the ACE2 protein on the surface of the human cell in the same way a key opens a lock, thus allowing the virus to invade the host cell. CIPS, however, is capable of selectively binding with the virus’ spike protein, resulting in the infection process being blocked… Once CIPS has captured the virus, it forms a stable complex. The complex is then recognised and eliminated by the host’s macrophages, large white blood cells in the human immune system that digest foreign substances…. The good news is that the nanomaterials could be relatively cheap enough for mass production and widespread applications.” • Leave to the Chinese to turn preventing infection into a manufacturing problem*. (Mouse study; no clinical trials.) NOTE * And take dead aim at Big Pharma, too. Who needs to sink an aircraft carrier?

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Now make it a transparent space helmet with a respirator:

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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 ~87,550. Today, it’s ~83,350 and 83,350 * 6 = a Biden line at 500,100 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 still a little coy.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

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Doing pretty well!

The West:

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Backward revision in California completely changes the shape of the curve. Downward. Very downward.

California on a “high plateau”?

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), August 29:

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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 27:

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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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-2.2%. 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.

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 still improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.

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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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?

NOT UPDATED 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.

Variant data, national (CDC), August 13 (Nowcast off):

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Still no sign of BA2.75.

Deaths

Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,072,125 – 1,071,420 = 705 (705 * 365 = 257,325, 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 Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent in August of 2022, the highest since February and above market expectations of 3.5 percent.

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The Bezzle: Thread on fossil fuel ownership changes:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 45 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 2 at 1:20 PM EDT.

The Gallery

1947:

1917:

Guillotine Watch

“The Haves and the Have-Yachts” [The New Yorker]. We ran this before, but I missed this part: “If you’ve just put half a billion dollars into a boat, you may have qualms about the truism that material things bring less happiness than experiences do. But this, too, can be finessed. Andrew Grant Super, a co-founder of the ‘experiential yachting’ firm Berkeley Rand, told me that he served a uniquely overstimulated clientele: ‘We call them the bored billionaires.’ He outlined a few of his experience products. ‘We can plot half of the Pacific Ocean with coördinates, to map out the Battle of Midway,’ he said. ‘We re-create the full-blown battles of the giant ships from America and Japan. The kids have haptic guns and haptic vests. We put the smell of cordite and cannon fire on board, pumping around them.’ For those who aren’t soothed by the scent of cordite, Super offered an alternative. ‘We fly 3-D-printed, architectural freestanding restaurants into the middle of the Maldives, on a sand shelf that can only last another eight hours before it disappears.’” • “Imaginary gardens with real toads in them” (as Marianne Moore said of poetry). Perhaps other forms of over-stimulation are on the horizon?

Class Warfare

Win for Amazon Labor Union:

“The State Of The Unions 2022” (PDF) [Ruth Milkman and Joseph van der Naald, City University of New York]. Some of the most dramatic union wins occurred in New York: the first Starbucks stores where unionization votes succeeded in 2021 were in Buffalo, and the warehouse where the independent Amazon Labor Union famously won an election in April 2022 is in the New York City borough of Staten Island. More generally, as pages 4-9 below document, New York City leads the nation in the recent wave of union organizing ” But: ” the scale of this new wave of organizing has been insufficient to reverse the long-term downward trend in privatesector union density. To do so would require far more extensive, large-scale efforts. ” • Well worth a read.

“Casino Capitalism, Literally” [The American Conservative]. “When Sen. Estes Kefauver’s organized crime investigation discovered in 1951 that illegal gambling dens near Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi were absorbing $500,000 out of the base’s $4 million monthly payroll, nobody said that airmen were grownups who should spend their money however they want. People said that casinos and slot parlors took advantage of traits that every human possesses and military men possess in abundance—appetite for risk, concentrating on the present rather than the long view—in order to separate them from their money. Abstract notions of freedom of commerce were not assumed to be a defense. That is how present day regulators should regard Big Tech. There are many ideas floating around for how to limit technology’s addictive power, from banning autoplay to limiting apps’ ability to tailor stimuli to individual users based on their personal data. Some of these ideas may not be practical. But none of them should be dismissed out of hand. Looking at Big Tech and saying it is free speech is like looking at a casino and saying it is just commerce. It’s not. It’s a parody of commerce.”

News of the Wired

“Kids Yell “Poop” At Alexa, And These Musicians Profit” [Wired]. “There are many topics that my 5-year-old and I don’t see eye to eye on: how many popsicles per day is reasonable or the virtues of sleeping past 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday. But there is one area where we are in philosophical lockstep: ‘Poop’ is a funny word. So when my son commanded our Amazon Echo Dot, ‘Alexa…play poopy diaper,’ I shot him a faux-stern look that indicated this isn’t appropriate, but I’ll allow it. And when Alexa replied, ‘OK, playing ‘Poopy Diaper’ from Spotify,’ I was intrigued. When the voice robot creation of one of the richest men on the planet started playing a thumping techno banger with a soaring chorus of a woman vocalist signing, ‘I’ve got a poopy diaper, a poopy diaper, that’s me,’ I descended into hyperventilating eye-watering laughter. As it turns out, there are quite a few songs that will fill Alexa requests for the whole gamut of things a kindergartener might dream up: poop, diapers, dog poop, stinky butt, farts.” • The stupidest timeline. Then again, this dude is stupid enough to install a surveillance device in his house. So here we are, fathers and sons.

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