2:00PM Water Cooler 9/27/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/27/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Bobwhite, Hog Island WMA, Surry, Virginia, United States. A lovely ensemble.

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“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

“Biden vs. his advisers” [Axios]. “It’s a pattern throughout the Biden administration: The president says something in an interview or makes an unscripted remark in an address, and his staff rushes to correct the record.” But: ” Biden’s instincts are often the popular ones.” • I keep saying Biden is the best politician the Democrats have (at least at the national level). Frightening but true!


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Lucy and the Football:

PA: Newt, Newt:

And the tag team–

PA: “Fetterman fires back at Tucker Carlson over tattoo insults” [The Hill]. “Fetterman, in an op-ed for NBC News, called [Carlson’s] monologue ‘unhinged” and explained how the nine tattoos on his right forearm indicate the dates when someone died violently in Braddock, Pa., while Fetterman served as mayor. ‘Gun violence and violent crime might be a joke to someone like Carlson, but they are very real to people in towns like Braddock,’ Fetterman wrote. ‘My decision to mark these deaths with tattoos was inspired in part by their permanence — the fact that these people, their stories and my town will be with me forever,’ he added.”


He’s running:

The problem isn’t the fee, apparently; the problem is the surprise. Fine.

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

“Were Dominion Voting Machines Certified For The 2020 Election in Georgia?” [Emerald Robinson]. • The writer is a NewsMax reporter, so take with a truckload of salts. That said, I’m used to well-documented certification shenanigains a decade or so ago, the last time voting machines were hot as an issue. Maybe the industry has cleaned itself up. Readers?


• Maskstravaganza: “Community-based N95 Distribution During the COVID-19 Omicron BA.1 Surge: 1-month Utilization and Price Implications” (preprint) [psyArXiv]. From the Deck: “High-quality masks are a key component of multilayered mitigation thatcan reduce the burden of COVID-19 surges. When the investigators provided free 5-packs of N95s during the Omicron BA.1 surge, community members utilized the N95s, felt safer, informed others, and planned to purchase more. Cost was a critical utilization barrier. Federal free N95 distribution programs may help with future surges.”

• Maskstravaganza:

• Maskstravaganza: This would not not happen unless the hospital Infection Control department approved:

• Maskstravaganza:

Well, nobody wants to make a scene. But respect?

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• “Ventilation Assessment by Carbon Dioxide Levels in Dental Treatment Rooms” [Journal of Dental Research (Ignacio)]. From the Abstract: “We conclude that ventilation rates could be conveniently and accurately

assessed by observing the changes in CO2 levels after a simple mixing of household baking soda and vinegar in dental settings.” • And speaking of dentists–

• “New Study Links Periodontitis and COVID‐19 Complications” (press release) [American Society of Periodontology]. n = 568″According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), the nation’s leading organization of periodontists, or gum disease experts, these findings signal the importance of diligent oral care during COVID-19. “It is well-established that systemic inflammation is not only linked with periodontal disease, but to several other respiratory diseases as well,” said Dr. James G. Wilson, President of the AAP. ‘Therefore, maintaining healthy teeth and gums in an effort to avoid developing or worsening periodontal disease is absolutely crucial in the midst of a global pandemic like COVID-19, which is also known to trigger an inflammatory response.’… hose with periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, were at least three times more likely to experience COVID‐19 complications including death, ICU admission, and the need for assisted ventilation. Additionally, COVID-19 patients with periodontitis showed increased levels of biomarkers associated with worsened disease outcomes including white blood cell levels, D‐dimer, and c-reactive protein.” • Let me see you smile!

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• Wildfire use case for CR boxes:

What I like about both this anecdotes is the gift relationship. “Next step = finding recipients in community.”

• I just clicked through. Not half-price, but still good:

I guess it’s an end-of-summer sale…

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• ”Evaluation of individual and ensemble probabilisticforecasts of COVID-19 mortality in the United States” [PNAS]. “The per-formance of 27 individual models that submitted complete forecasts of COVID-19 deaths consistently throughout this year showed high variability in forecast skill across time, geo-spatial units, and forecast horizons. Two-thirds of the models evaluated showed better accuracy than a naïve baseline model. Forecast accuracy degraded as models made predictions further into the future, with probabilistic error at a 20-wk horizon three to five times larger than when predicting at a 1-wk horizon.”” • I linked regularly to the CDC modeling hub until it blew up, as I knew it would.

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• “SARS-CoV-2 Community Transmission During Shelter-in-Place in San Francisco” (preprint) [medRxiv]. n = 3,953. From the Abstract: ” Risk factors for recent infection were Latinx ethnicity, inability to shelter-in-place and maintain income, frontline service work, unemployment, and household income <$50,000/year.” • Maybe I should have filed this under class warfare?
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 ~52,800. Today, it’s ~56,100 and 56,100 * 6 = a Biden line at 336,600. (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 the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2019 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).

Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.

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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California on a high plateau all of its own, with yet another backward revision.


Wastewater data (CDC), September 22:

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Lambert here: I added all the dots back in. The number of grey dots really concerns me. How can all the sites for international air travel center New York be grey (“no recent data”). And California’s pretty gappy, too.

For grins, September 19:

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NOTE To get the CDC data pages to load, I have to turn off my VPN. Thanks for the security breach, CDC.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 21:

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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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Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow, which is pleasing/

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 23:

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I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers. Those two red areas in Northern Maine and upstate New York are both on the way to Quebec, Canada.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

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NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 23:

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Not a sea of green.

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


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), September 10:

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Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), September 3 (Nowcast off):

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Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). What about BA.2.75?

The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.

Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total

Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total (September 23)

CDC Region % Total States in Region
Region 2: 1.3% (0.8%) New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 8: 1.3% (0.0%) Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9: 1.2% (0.0%) Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….
Region 6: 0.6% (0.0%) Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 3: 0.5% (0.4%) Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4: 0.4% (0.4%) Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 5: 0.4% (0.7%) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 7: 0.3% (0.3%) lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 10: 0.3% (0.0%) Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington
Region 1: 0.1% (0.7%) Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

LEGEND: Previous CDC variant release shown in parentheses, (thus).

Not encouraging. Of course, the absolute numbers are small, but we’ve seen that movie before. I especially don’t like the jump in Region 2, because the New York area is “spready,” based on past history. Region 1, on the other hand, dropped.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,082,030 – 1,080,836 = 1,194 (1,194 * 365 = 435,810, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. 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.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for the US manufactured durable goods declined 0.2% month-over-month in August of 2022, following a revised 0.1% drop in July and compared to market forecasts of a bigger 0.4% fall. Transportation equipment drove the decrease (-1.1%), namely nondefense aircraft and parts (-18.5%).”

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Richmond Fed composite manufacturing index was at 0 in September of 2022 from -8 in the previous month. Improvement took place in the shipments subindex… [T]he employment index stagnated… [T]he wage index continued its upward momentum.”

Housing: “United States New Home Sales” [Trading Economics]. “New home sales in the United States soared 28.8% from a month earlier to a 5-month high of 685K in August of 2022, and above market expectations of 500K. It was the biggest increase since June 2020.”

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Shipping: “Signed, Sealed, Snatched” [Bloomberg]. “Mail theft complaints increased by 161% from March 2020 to February 2021, according to the inspector general for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The crime wave is being fueled by a thriving online community of criminals that congregates in such places as the Telegram channel in which “Liam Neeson” posted the stolen checks for sale. It’s a new incarnation of a crime that has worried people for years. And while the mail thefts start the way they always have—with criminals getting access to actual envelopes—the internet has added a twist: Criminals can sell stolen materials such as mailbox keys and checks in online forums, increasing the financial rewards. They also egg each other on by posting photos and videos of their exploits on social media apps and dark web sites.”

The Bezzle: “Welcome to Your Airbnb, the Cleaning Fees Are $143 and You’ll Still Have to Wash the Linens” [Wall Street Journal]. • Ah, the sharing economy. Nobody uses that phrase anymore, do they?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 16 Extreme Fear (previous close: 17 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 27 at 1:44 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil has dropped below $80 per barrel” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) • That won’t last….

The Gallery


Zeitgeist Watch

Groves of Academe

“Let me see you smile”:



Reminds one of segregation….

Class Warfare

“Alabama prison system reports work stoppage after group calls for inmate strike” [AL.com]. “The Alabama Department of Corrections said it has received reports of inmate work stoppages at all the major prisons in the state after a prison reform organization called for a strike. The organization Both Sides of the Wall called for the strike beginning this morning as a protest of conditions in the state’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons, which the Department of Justice says hold men in conditions that violate the constitution…. ‘You’re going to have enough men to fill those new prisons up. So you can give some relief to the ones that are stuffed in these cans right now.’”

The servant class:

I don’t make the rules:

“Neuroscience is vindicating the Marxist determinists” [Carl Beijer]. “This is the temptation I described earlier: to insist that there must be something in the human brain that works very differently than everything else does, something like the Cartesian pineal gland and its magical spirits. This was a perfectly sensible idea back in the seventeenth century; and for those of us who don’t have a doctorate in neuroendocrinology, I think believing something like this is completely understandable today. What Sapolsky shows us is that if you do decide you would like to learn more about the brain and the world it operates in, your intuition changes. You find mechanical descriptions for so much behavior — including behaviors that we never thought we’d be able to explain, like mood — that it starts to feel silly to fantasize that you’ll ever find anything else.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“A possible home for a bizarre Carboniferous animal: is Typhloesus a pelagic gastropod?” [Biology Letters, the Royal Society]. I have no particular reason to link to this (although the science is interesting). But I love the language: “Recent years have witnessed a steady thinning in the ranks of ‘weird wonders’, that is taxa with unfamiliar, if not bizarre, body forms that seemingly preclude confident assignment to known groups.” • Stylish!

Next, a round pool table!

Learn to code:

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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 MT:

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MT writes: “For the fans of tree ferns.” We look up to them because they’re tall.

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