Ocellated Thrasher, Oaxaca, Mexico. Over six minutes! Many thanks to SV for bringing this cheerful species to our attention. If any readers have more suggestions, especially for songbirds, please leave them in comments.
“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
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!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“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.
“Dem donor network works to build the party’s future bench” [Politico]. “A new Democratic donor network is springing up ahead of the midterm election with a focus on raising cash for candidates under 50. The Next 50 is a group of 17,000 donors that’s already raised $3 million for candidates in 2022, emphasizing support for younger candidates who are running in battleground races from state legislature up to the U.S. Senate. The group’s mission is to build up the Democratic bench — at the candidate level, by seeding campaigns with national donor cash, and at the donor level, by bringing along a new generation of younger Democrats new to political giving.” • A party worthy of the name would be doing this itself, not franchising out the brand (or at least the ballot line).
Who among us:
I have never encountered, even among the most dogmatic Stalinists, such hypocrisy and lying which for them, having practiced it so much, has become a way of life. They were also smart. So every argument that was going against their PoV was twisted, distorted, repackaged,
— Branko Milanovic (@BrankoMilan) September 9, 2022
Mauvaise foi: “In the philosophy of existentialism, bad faith (mauvaise foi) is the psychological phenomenon whereby individuals act inauthentically, by yielding to the external pressures of society to adopt false values and disown their innate freedom as sentient human beings. Bad faith also derives from the related concepts of self-deception and ressentiment.” • Seems legit.
Realignment and Legitimacy
Lambert here: Still at our high plateau. A million dead, and no rioting. Indeed, no political reaction whatever. An important takeaway for the ruling classes, with wide application. Of course, our own takeaways may be different.
• Heroes indeed, and heroes (as opposed to celebrities, or idols, or “leaders,” are in short supply:
Thank you for your very kind words, @RAKlotsky. I think Jim agrees that our roles are to be two cheerleaders. The real heroes are those building CR-boxes to help others reduce their risk of getting infected. It is a movement made of an army of smart, dedicated heroes!
— Richard Corsi, PhD, PE (Texas) (@CorsIAQ) September 8, 2022
An army of aerosol understanders cannot be beaten!
• I don’t think that in stuff on the top is functional:
— Wendy Wheatcroft, MEd ☮️ (@Wendy4SD) September 9, 2022
• Aerosol explainer comics:
Here is the link to the full set of explainer comics, “The Quest of the Virosols”: https://t.co/xRMaBBauHs
— Chia Wang (@ChiaWang8) September 9, 2021
• “Drug regulatory authority approves nasal Covid vaccine” [The Telegraph]. India. Last paragraph: “Scientists say the most promising aspect of the intranasal vaccine is its potential to confer so-called sterilising immunity — to stop the virus from replicating in the body. In contrast, current Covid-19 vaccines protect people from severe disease but are not as effective in preventing infections from mutated versions of the coronavirus. The vaccine was designed by scientists at Washington University, St Louis, in 2020. [Krishna Ella, Bharat Biotech’s managing director] had early during the pandemic recognised and invested in the candidate through a pact signed by August 2020.” • Sterilizing immunity is the Holy Grail (and the destruction of Big Pharma’s “Immunity as a Service” business model. What a shame that would be). I understand the logic. Are studies being done? By whom? Next–
• “China and India approve nasal COVID vaccines — are they a game changer?” [Nature]. “These mucosal vaccines target thin mucous membranes that line the nose, mouth and lungs. By prompting immune responses where SARS-CoV-2 first enters the body, mucosal vaccines could, in theory, prevent even mild cases of illness and block transmission to other people — something COVID-19 shots have been unable to do. … Exactly how successful these vaccines will be is unclear. Expecting a vaccine to stop transmission of a virus or prevent even mild illness — achieving what is called sterilizing immunity — is a high bar. Bharat and CanSino won’t know whether their vaccines can achieve this until they have conducted further efficacy studies.” • Well, hop to it.
• Maskstravaganza: We learn nothing:
BREAKING: Ontario is planning to procure 2 million CLOTH MASKS for kids in class if/when everything goes south.
Same CLOTH MASK fiasco as last year.
We learn NOTHING.
— Ryan Imgrund (@imgrund) September 8, 2022
More sabotage. “Masks don’t work.” “Yeah, if you use masks that don’t work!”
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.
Case count for the United States:
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.
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 ~68,700. Today, it’s ~65,170 and 65,170 * 6 = a Biden line at 391,020. (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:
Lambert here: If the Florida data weren’t so screwy, the national case count would be level or up.
Doing pretty well!
SITE DOWN Wastewater data (CDC), September 1:
• “Understanding the dynamic relation between wastewater SARS-CoV-2 signal and clinical metrics throughout the pandemic” [Science of The Total Environment]. From the Abstract: “Prior to global mass immunization campaigns and during the spread of the wildtype COVID-19 and the Alpha variant of concern (VOC), viral measurement of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater was a leading indicator for both COVID-19 incidence and disease burden in communities. As the two-dose vaccination rates escalated during the spread of the Delta VOC in Jul. 2021 through Dec. 2021, relations weakened between wastewater signal and community COVID-19 disease incidence and maintained a strong relationship with clinical metrics indicative of disease burden (new hospital admissions, ICU admissions, and deaths).” • Hmm.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 9:
-2.5%. The continuing downward trend inside the red circle is actually encouraging.
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.
This is actually still improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 9:
I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 9:
First time in a long time I’ve seen only green. I do wonder if there’s a Labor Day effect, though; not just on the data side, but people thinking “I’m not gonna miss the family barbecue for a little ol’ cough.” So let’s see if this persists.
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), August 27:
Still no sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.
• Andy Bloch has a site that reworks Walgreens data, including on variants:
Is a BA.2.75* COVID Omicron variant going to be threat in the US? If so, it should show up in the SGTF data @walgreens updates daily, which I use in my tracker here: https://t.co/giCNpfhrl8 I made some display changes to highlight the presumed BA.2 proportions. https://t.co/HKwOmHyKjl pic.twitter.com/ZAa5btZlmy
— Andy Bloch (@Andy_Bloch) September 9, 2022
For the life of me I can’t get the map at the site to do anything but throw errrors, but Bloch (and maybe you) have better luck. In any case, where’s the new variant? The BA.2s seem very, very low. Could Biden’s eugenicist strategy of “Let ‘er rip,” with the enormous Omicron peak, really have built an “immunity wall,” along with our (relatively low) vaccination rate? Maybe so–
• “COVID vaccines slash risk of spreading Omicron — and so does previous infection” [Nature]. “People who become infected with the Omicron variant are less likely to spread the virus to others if they have been vaccinated or have had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to a study in US prisons1. And people who have both had a previous infection and been vaccinated are even less likely to pass on the virus, although the benefit of vaccines in reducing infectiousness seems to wane over time. The findings are good news, says Megan Steain, a virologist at the University of Sydney, Australia. They show that the more exposure people have to the virus, whether through vaccines, boosters or infections, the ‘higher the wall of immunity’, she says. ‘If we can keep high levels of booster vaccinations up, then we can decrease how infectious people are when they’re sick,’ says Steain.” Then again: “Steain says the findings accord with what researchers know about the virus so far. But as new variants evolve, it is possible that the way they cause infections could change.” • So where are they? So far, the virus has “outsmarted” us at every turn…
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 13 (Nowcast off):
Still no sign of BA2.75.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Lambert here: We are seeing a drop in the death count. That suggests to me that a drop in the case count is real. (I don’t say “the” case count, because the cases we count are a fraction of the real number. It is interesting, though, that the deaths per 100,000 curve — with its curious recent flattening — has more or less the same shape as the case curve, suggesting that a “Biden Curve” would have more or less the same shape as the case count curve, as opposed to the straight line I am drawing for the current level.)
Total: 1,074,787 –
1,074,171 = 616 (616 * 365 = 224,840, 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). 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.
Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US advanced by 0.6% from a month earlier to $900.7 billion in July of 2022, slightly below an initial estimate of a 0.8% rise and after a downwardly revised 1.8% increase in the previous month. It was the 24th straight month of gains, albeit smaller, as stocks of durable goods rose at a softer pace (1% vs 2.2% in June) while inventory levels of nondurable goods ticked down (-0.1% vs 1.2%). On an annual basis, wholesale inventories jumped 25.1% in July, also slightly below an earlier reading of 25.4%.” • 25% seems like rather a lot, no?
The Bezzle: “The Case for Resisting Self-Driving Cars” [National Review]. “In the future, the self-driving car will distinguish itself from mass public transit only by the fact of ownership.” • This is dumb. It’s the recurring fever dream of pods, which never work (the latest example being Musk’s fraudulent scheme for Teslas in tunnels).
The Bezzle: “Twitter Agreed to Pay Whistleblower Roughly $7 Million in June Settlement” [Wall Street Journal]. “Twitter Inc. agreed in June to pay roughly $7 million to the whistleblower whose allegations will be part of Elon Musk’s case against the company, according to people familiar with the matter. The settlement was completed days before Peiter Zatko filed his whistleblower complaint in July. Mr. Zatko is the hacker who was Twitter’s security head before being fired in January. In his whistleblower complaint, Mr. Zatko accuses the company of failing to protect sensitive user data and lying about its security problems.” • Sounds like Zatko was very unhappy, since $7 million didn’t make him go away.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 8 at 1:28 PM EDT.
Painted by Lucian Freud pic.twitter.com/F8wEqLbcDo
— Orphee (@Orphee50883787) September 9, 2022
This is actually a pretty gutst moving, sitting to be be painted by Lucien Freud. I can’t imagine either of the Obamas doing it. Or the Clintons.
— Max Ernst (@artisternst) September 8, 2022
The Screening Room
“William Gibson’s novel comes to vivid life in first teaser for The Peripheral” [Ars Technica]. “A young woman struggling to hold it together in small-town America finds herself witness to what may or may not be a murder in the first teaser for The Peripheral, a new Prime Video series based on William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name…. [One story] arc takes place in a futuristic and desolate London in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event dubbed “the Jackpot,” which wiped out 80 percent of the population.” • Let’s just hope Amazon doens’t butcher Gibson as badly as they did Tolkien. I wonder how they’ll represent the (oncoming and results of) the Jackpot. From the trailer, they’re messing about with Gibson’s dialog. They shouldn’t.
Our Famously Free Press
“Wine Media Is Broken: A Case Study” [Everyday Drinking]. “During a phone conversation last week, the president of a major public relations agency, one with a client list that includes wine regions, big brands, and importers, told me that his firm pays “about $25,000 a year” to a certain influential wine publication. This was not for advertising purposes, he said. Instead, this fee was “to ensure that our clients’ wines are reviewed” and to make sure “poorly reviewed wines aren’t listed” in critics’ tasting reports. That’s what he alleged. This “about $25,000” fee also allows the agency and its client to see reviews two days in advance of publication date, he said. He insisted that his firm is not the only one who pays this kind of fee to this publication.”
Kids eating bugs. Isn’t that cute?
1000 Australian schools have just introduced to their canteens snacks containing bugs. Kids are now munching on chips laced with “eco-friendly” cricket protein made by Circle Harvest. Only a few years ago we would think this was an April fools prank… pic.twitter.com/Afxfjwv38n
— Evelyn Rae (@_evelynrae) September 9, 2022
“Segregation’s Sequiturs” (review) [New Left Review]. A review of Reed’s The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives. “Adolph Reed, now something of an elder statesman on the American intellectual left, has long argued for an understanding of race as a distinctly modern phenomenon, pushing back against essentialist notions in the process. Rejecting the idea that black people, within or outside of the United States, formed a single unified class, held together by communitarian notions of a shared culture, he has consistently argued that black politics cannot be understood in isolation from the broader currents of American society.” • Very sadly, paywalled just when it gets rolling.
“Ep 7: The Jim Crow South + Listener Questions” (podcast) [Class Matters]. Reed’s podcast. “In Part 1 of 2, Adolph Reed Jr discusses his new book, The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives, with Toure Reed. The Reeds explore how tendencies to romanticize Jim Crow undercuts our ability to address the root causes of racial inequality today. They also tackle questions from our listeners about race and about the labor movement.”
I remember a podcast which I cannot now find, where Richard Wolff patiently explained that prices rise [astonished pause]. It seems that we’re all Marxists now:
Remember that time, just a couple of months ago, when it was considered unreal economics to link profits to inflation? Here is what the Fed vice chair Brainard is now saying.https://t.co/dyE3rLgIhm pic.twitter.com/Jcpj3vMvdB
— Isabella M. Weber (@IsabellaMWeber) September 9, 2022
“George Risk Industries” [Rational Reflections]. “The United States is full of family-controlled businesses that fly well below the radar of most investors. The obvious reason is that most of these companies are very small and privately held….. In most cases, if you observe a family-run business that you would like to invest in, you’ll have to approach the controlling shareholder at the local Rotary Club. But some of these businesses are publicly traded and available to anyone with a brokerage account and enough patience to purchase thinly traded stock…. Then and now, GRI is very thinly traded. However, it was possible and still is possible to put money to work provided that an investor is willing to sit and wait for an execution and is not alarmed by the inability to quickly sell the position. Just as you would not jump in and out of a small private business, you would only invest in a public company like GRI with an indefinite time horizon. You might be buying a stock, but what you are really doing is going into a partnership with the Risk family.” • American gentry. Fascinating article for me, although perhaps if you play the ponies its old hat.
News of the Wired
Maybe the real burning man is the friends we made along the way:
#BurningMan created an art installation one can see from space. It’s called INSANITY and included tens of thousands of people burning thousands of gallons of gas while spending up to 13 hours trying to exit the festival in 110 degree heat. pic.twitter.com/hYos8em2A9
— Dialogist (@JimBarrett) September 8, 2022
“Truck-powered vasectomy? How a doctor improvised when electricity went out in Texas” [Miami Herald]. “A man who scheduled a vasectomy in Texas really didn’t want to have to reschedule when he learned the clinic’s electricity was out. After all, he already had the time off work. With a little creativity — and an electric pickup truck — his doctor proposed an unusual solution: a male sterilization procedure powered by an electric truck. Dr. Christopher Yang said the idea came from one of his staffers who jokingly suggested the doctor should use his newly acquired Rivian R1T pickup truck for power, according to WGLT. Yang did happen to have an extension cord that ran the length from the parking lot to the patient’s room. “When talking to the patient, we mentioned that we could just reschedule the procedure itself, or, if he was up for it, we could do the vasectomy using power from the truck,” Yang told WGLT. ‘And he had a good laugh as well, and we agreed.’” • And the rest of us had a good laugh as we joined the Third World!
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 TH:
TH writes: “It’s been in the upper 80’s here in Southern California most of this summer, and while *I* wilt in temperatures this high when humidity is a factor, these lovely Iris in a residential garden near Alamitos Bay in Long Beach appear completely untroubled.” I have many favorite flowers, but iris are definitely included!