By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I’m sorry this went up a bit late; I had a household emergency to deal with. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Wood Thrush, Indian Springs WMA, two-track road, Washington, Maryland, United States. “Adult male Wood Thrush singing from elevated perch along the two-track road during the dawn chorus. A Northern Cardinal lands beside him and sings for a minute or so.”
Since birds are dinosaurs, did the OG dinosaurs see the earth’s magnetic field or not?
Magnetic storm event. Keep those eyes on the skies.
Birds can see Aurora constantly. It’s beautiful. It’s how they navigate.
To them, the sky is a constant shifting roil of glory.
It’s fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/J8Z6hXR9YV
— discord.gg/falconryfinance (@FalconryFinance) March 24, 2023
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“The Surreal Post-Trump Embrace of Mark Milley” [Politico]. “Like Anthony Fauci, another unelected public sector lifer who became a bete noire of the far right, Milley has become a cause celebre in Washington, an icon of guardrail-respecting professionalism — and a presence around town. A few nights after the party at the French residence, I saw him posing for other pictures at the white-tie Gridiron dinner, an annual to-do for a rather more venerable class of media bigwigs. Scan POLITICO’s Playbook newsletter and you’ll find mention of him at shindigs like a New Year’s Day brunch at the home of the philanthropist Adrienne Arsht. Where people outside the Pentagon ecosystem might not have been able to pick Milley’s immediate predecessors out of a lineup, Milley is the most famous Joint Chiefs chair since Colin Powell — and without an actual ongoing war to boost his profile. Like the politically savvy Powell, of course, he’s helped himself, especially when it comes to cultivating the folks who shape reputations. Reporters on the national security beat say he’s a blunt, intellectual and remarkably available source, particularly off the record. Veterans of the beat described Pentagon run-ins that turned into long, candid conversations. Beyond the Pentagon media, he’s also been a ubiquitous presence in books about the late days of the Trump administration, where his perspective on the dramatic events (if not his direct quotes) have been exhaustively presented, right down to the resignation letters he drafted but never sent.” • Oy.
“Advice for Alvin Bragg from Former Trump Prosecutors” [The New Yorker (Furzy Mouse)]. ” If Trump is acquitted, Bragg’s decision to prosecute the former President will be seen as a major debacle that could help Trump politically. Three former Justice Department officials who have been involved in investigating Trump or in prosecuting his allies predicted a protracted, ugly, and raucous legal and public battle ahead. Their advice, over all, was for the Manhattan District Attorney and his prosecutors to ignore Trump’s antics as much as possible and to hope that the former President sabotages himself legally.” • That’s it? That’s what these guys have going for them?
“What We Know About Trump’s Legal Troubles” [FiveThirtyEight]. The Stormy Daniels payoff (rotten subhead, since Bragg needs to make a Federal case with (presumbly) election law violations); Georgia election law allegations (I need to run this down; I think this is the one where a dead guy is a witness?); The 2020 election and Jan. 6 insurrection (insurrection being a crime). So far, I’ve been served very well by assuming that whenever the walls were “closing in” they were, in fact, not. So we’ll see how it goes. I mean, we’ve been working on all these cases for some time, and presumably with a degree of urgency. Maybe Trump’s background in real estate has given him some mad skillz regarding liability?
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
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.
“How Vallas Helped Wall Street Loot Chicago’s Schools” [The Lever]. “When he led the Chicago school system, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas took actions that resulted in more than $1.5 billion being transferred out of the city’s budget-strapped public schools and to some of the wealthiest individuals and banks on the planet, a new report shows. Now, Vallas is in an election runoff against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to lead the city of Chicago, with big support from wealthy investors and other corporate interests — including from executives at law firms and banks that benefited from the controversial financing methods he used as CEO of Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001. With less than two weeks left before the April 4 election — which polls show is a tight race — Vallas has faced little scrutiny over his tenure as the Chicago Public Schools chief, even though he helped create a slow-moving financial disaster for America’s fourth-largest school system. With Vallas at the helm, Chicago Public Schools issued $666 million worth of so-called “payday loan” bonds, according to a report from the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE). The interest payments on the bonds totaled $1.5 billion. A 2016 analysis from the Texas Comptroller’s office found that the type of bonds Vallas issued can be three times more expensive than traditional bonds — meaning that Chicago Public Schools could have faced up to $1 billion in additional interest payments above a normal rate. That $1 billion is almost exactly the budget shortfall that former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the current Ambassador to Japan, cited as justification to shutter 50 Chicago public schools a decade ago. Some of Emanuel’s largest donors, like Citadel hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin and executives at private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, are currently backing Vallas. ‘[Vallas] got Chicago Public Schools into really bad deals that we’re still paying for a quarter century after he left,’ said Saqib Bhatti, the co-director of ACRE. ‘And the fact that his strongest base of support comes from Wall Street should in and of itself be a big red flag.’”
“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison
Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).
• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 47/50 states (94%). I have helpfully added “______” to the states still missing data. We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (______); NE (______); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (______); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (
wastewater); WY ( wastewater).
Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (1), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (6), JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)
• More like this, please! Total:
1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27 28 38 39 43 47/50 (94% of US states).
Look for the Helpers
Alert reader John Zelnicker’s Corsi-Rosenthal Box (he of the NC songbook):
Alert reader ambrit presents This Old House, where they make a Corsi-Rosenthal Box two years ago:
(I actually linked to this in a contemporaneous post, of which ambrit’s find reminded me.)
* * *
“Introducing: The Covid Underground” [Covid Underground]. The deck: “Welcome to The Covid Underground, a newsletter for the Covid-free movement and all of those who continue to avoid infection.” More: “True health is the ability to change. About 10-30% of the U.S. population has changed their lives in the light of the freeing revelations of 2020, and we keep changing. We are dynamically, creatively faithful to what was— briefly— plain to all: normal is a dangerous illusion.” • Worth a read.
“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.
Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:
Thought I’d add this here in case anyone is interested. Places to find people who “Still Covid” in your area & online: https://t.co/T4ND4XbrpF & https://t.co/sP5wq4fAw5 You can also search on FB “Still Coviding ____” & see if there’s a specific group on your area.
— Adriel Rose (@adriel_rose) March 1, 2023
“Efficacy of FFP3 respirators for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection in healthcare workers” [eLife]. From the Abstract: “Here, we use observational data and mathematical modelling to analyse infection rates amongst HCWs working on ‘red’ (coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19) and ‘green’ (non-COVID-19) wards during the second wave of the pandemic, before and after the substitution of filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirators for FRSMs. Whilst using [fluid-resistant surgical mask (FRSMs)], HCWs working on red wards faced an approximately 31-fold (and at least fivefold) increased risk of direct, ward-based infection. Conversely, after changing to FFP3 respirators, this risk was significantly reduced (52–100% protection).” • Wait. It’s not an RCT? Forget about it!
Covid origins controversy:
TLDR is I agree w WHO’s @DrTedros (https://t.co/fXF30JSauG):
These data don’t tell us how pandemic began, but every bit of information helps.
Here is what I glean from the available analyses by the two groups w access.
— Bloom Lab (@jbloom_lab) March 22, 2023
This is where I am on the “racoon dog” controversy (one interesting fact I glean from the controversy is that the racoon dog map of the market doesn’t include the bathrooms, which were in the racoon dog stall area; fomite transmission in China’s er, facilities has always been a lurking fear of mine, though to my knowledge never documented. Regardless, it’s just one more aspect of motivated scientific communication from the natural origins crowd, starting this time around with leaking the story to the Atlantic before the paper and its data were ever published, thereby winning the day on narrative, yadda yadda yadda. Darwin doesn’t need this kind of defender!
Long Covid on a high plateau:
Around 5.0% of adults say they are currently facing activity limits from long COVID
This marks fourth straight month where this indicator has not declined
Per March’s @uscensusbureau survey, from @CDCgov‘s @NCHStats https://t.co/u9aMJ1ZUBo https://t.co/vQsLKnKo09 pic.twitter.com/42ANUXurL6
— Alexander Tin (@Alexander_Tin) March 22, 2023
Science Is Popping
“Stealth Omicron: A Novel SARS-CoV-2 Variant That Is Insensitive to RT-qPCR Using the N1 and N2 Primer-Probes” [Cureus]. “In Osaka, the second biggest prefecture in Japan, we identified a novel SARS-CoV-2 variant from a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient that was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using E primers, but not by real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) using the N1 and N2 primer-probe sets recommended by CDC…. This finding led us to affirm the importance of monitoring the genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 variants continuously.” • Lol, Covid is over, why monitor anything? We’ve got budgets to think of! (What makes me a little nervous about this study is not the variant itself, but the idea of SARS-CoV-2 evolving not to escape treatement but to escape testing. I mean, it would, wouldn’t it?
The World’s Greatest Public Health Agency™:
The CDC really needs to stop presenting “Do the entire CDC’s job and be an epidemiologist who can determine community-level risks but without fulsome and accurate data” as a personal safety measure https://t.co/ap2rNorDfb
— Amanda Hu (@amandalhu) March 2, 2023
The CDC doesn’t think they need to. Why would they think anything else?
Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!
BioBot wastewater data from March 23:
Lambert here: Note that if we look at “the area under the curve,” more people have died after Biden declared that “Covid is over” than before.
For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.
• Just because we are on a high plateau doesn’t mean everyone is:
Man, remember how bad things were in … *checks notes* … March 2023? https://t.co/vpnYSXfVjn
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) March 24, 2023
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 18:
NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 24:
-1.2%. Still high, but we’ve now reached a point lower than the low point of the last valley.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,153,526 –
1,152,525 = 1001 (1001 * 365 = 365,365 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).
NOT UPDATED (but updating). Excess deaths (The Economist), published March 7:
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. Again, we see a high plateau. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.
Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “Durable goods orders in the US which measure the cost of orders received by manufacturers of goods meant to last at least three years, dropped 1% month-over-month in February of 2023, following an upwardly revised 5% plunge in January and compared to market forecasts of a 0.6% increase.”
Manufacturing: “[Global] Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P Global US Manufacturing PMI increased to 49.1 in March of 2023 from 47.3 in February, beating forecasts of 47, preliminary estimates showed. The reading pointed to the smallest contraction in the current five-month sequence of falling factory activity, amid a renewed rise in production and a softer fall in new orders. Also, inflationary pressures softened amid less marked supplier price hikes and moderations in some raw material costs. There was also an unprecedented improvement in supplier delivery times which in turn led to a slower fall in input buying and a softer depletion of pre-production inventories. Lead times were reduced to the greatest extent on record, allowing firms to start replenishing stocks and process backlogs of work, which fell solidly.”
Tech: “Adobe made an AI image generator — and says it didn’t steal artists’ work to do it” [The Verge]. “This is a big launch for Adobe. The company sits at the center of the creative app ecosystem, and over much of the past year, it’s stayed on the sidelines while newcomers to the creative space began to offer powerful tools for creating images, videos, and sound for next to nothing. At launch, Adobe is calling Firefly a beta, and it’ll only be available through a website. But eventually, Adobe plans to tightly integrate generative AI tools with its suite of creative apps, like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere. ‘We’re not afraid of change, and we’re embracing this change,’ says Alexandru Costin, VP of generative AI and Sensei at Adobe. ” • So, a race to the bottom on pricing, then? Oh, and: “Costin says that Adobe plans to pay artists who contribute training data, too.” Scabs, too?
Tech: “UNIX co-creator Ken Thompson is a… what user now?” [The Register]. Thompson: “I have for most of my life – because I was sort of born into it – run Apple. Now recently, meaning within the last five years, I’ve become more and more and more depressed… And what Apple is doing to something that should allow you to work is just atrocious… But they are taking a lot of space and time to do it, so it’s okay. And I’ve come, within the last month or two, to say: even though I’ve invested a zillion years in Apple, I’m throwing it away, and I’m going to Linux. To Raspbian, in particular.” • Raspbian.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 36 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 24 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 23 at 2:01 PM ET.
“Alex Bennett & Jordyn Woodruff: We Don’t Wash Our Hands” [Vendetta]. “Barstool’s attempt to replace the Call Her Daddy podcast is failing. Don’t worry, the Mean Girls featuring Alex Bennett and Jordyn Woodruff are pulling in viewers. They’re just repulsive humans and are getting attention for all the wrong reasons.” • This video is making the rounds, but divorced from its context, as here:
Please wash your hands. pic.twitter.com/uzxQXLciir
— Dr. Jonathan N. Stea (@jonathanstea) March 23, 2023
You have to know Bennett and Woodruff from their faces, which I of course do not. Lots of people heading for the fainting couch! Reminds me of some other public health issue…
“Commercial determinants of health” (series) [The Lancet]. From the Executive Summary: “Commercial actors can contribute positively to health and society, and many do, providing essential products and services. However, a substantial group of commercial actors are escalating avoidable levels of ill health, planetary damage, and inequity—the commercial determinants of health. While policy solutions are available, they are not currently being implemented, and the costs of harm caused by some products and practices are coming at a great cost to individuals and society. A new Lancet Series on the commercial determinants of health provides recommendations and frameworks to foster a better understanding of the diversity of the commercial world, potential pathways to health harms or benefits, and the need for regulatory action and investment in enterprises that advance health, wellbeing, equity, and society.” • Um, I think it makes sense to look for common factors — profit and exploitation (Rules #1 and #2) — than bleat about “diversity.” I mean, I’m happy to have the subject broached, at least, but holy moley, this graphical abstract:
I mean. “Rebalancing this power dynamic requires coordinated efforts from multiple stakeholders groups,” as Frederick Douglass famously said. (Kidding. Douglass said that “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”) Who wrote this thing? Davos Man?
“Howard Schultz ends third stint as Starbucks CEO early” [Guardian]. “Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, is ending his third stint as head of the coffee chain early as he faces growing scrutiny over the company’s labor practices. The company announced on Monday that Schultz had stepped down as interim chief executive, nearly two weeks earlier than expected. The new CEO, Lax Narasimhan, was slated to take over on 1 April…. Earlier this month, Schultz agreed to appear in front of a key Senate labor committee on 29 March after the committee nearly voted to subpoena him for testimony. ‘For nearly a year, I and many of my colleagues in the Senate have repeatedly asked Mr Schultz to respect the constitutional rights of workers at Starbucks to form a union and to stop violating federal labor laws,’ Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the committee, said in a statement at the time. Investors will also be voting on a shareholder proposal at the company’s next shareholder meeting on 23 March that could see the company undergoing an independent review of its labor practices.” • Meanwhile:
BREAKING: Starbucks workers are on strike nationwide, demanding the company stop union-busting and negotiate a contract.
The strike was timed to “Founder’s Day,” a holiday invented by Starbucks to honor CEO Howard Schultz… who resigned early.
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) March 22, 2023
“U.S. Announces Plans To Reclassify Everyone’s Race Based On Net Worth” [The Onion]. “‘It is resolved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that any American whose wealth exceeds $1 million shall be white,’ read the bipartisan legislation, which went on to state that citizens who were dissatisfied with the race they were assigned under the new criteria would be ‘free to pull themselves up by their bootstraps” in order to reach a racial category of greater privilege. ‘Now, regardless of the color of their skin, those who are rich will receive all the rights a wealthy person is entitled to in this country. Meanwhile, those with a net worth in the six figures, though they cannot be white, will still qualify as Asian, with the social scale moving downward from there to Latino and Black. This should go a long way toward making our racial stereotypes as accurate as possible.’ In an attempt to deal a final blow to the complications of intersectionality, Congress was reportedly taking up additional legislation to ensure everyone earning above the median income level was classified as a man, and everyone below it as a woman.”
More on hot boxes:
Visual inspection and “hot box” detectors are supposed to detect wheel bearing failure. “Nobody reports it though, because you stop the train, you lose your job” At most they slow it down.
— sansnom (@86thistimeline) March 21, 2023
Liberal Democrats should really talk to workers occasionally. They might learn something.
News of the Wired
For the knitters among us:
Personally I just think it’s a cute photo and it’s tiresome to be cynical even if it was staged, but I just learned from @foggyknitter that the girl was wearing a knitting belt. That would seem to lend credence to the idea that she was actually knitting. https://t.co/6L8CR67BV0
— Cats of Yore (@CatsOfYore) March 22, 2023
And for the menders:
her example: in the mid-century, an American woman would have paid about $300 for a dress ($300 in today’s dollars). this dress might have a matching collar and cuffs, a scarf, a belted waist, and a skirt made from six separate pieces of fabric, etc. it was complicated to make! pic.twitter.com/mcwqN0M5N5
— derek guy (@dieworkwear) March 23, 2023
Not worth mending a much simpler $10 tee. Both threads are worth reading in full.
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 Bob White:
Bob White writes: “Attached is plant image…. obviously. It is a Satsuma in early bloom here in New Orleans, it is loving this warm weather – a record 77% of days this year (so far) above average.” How not wintry!
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