By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Stock Dove, Wieswald, Freising, Bayern, Germany.
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Biden convenes his Cabinet on the heels of debt ceiling resolution” [CNN]. “The Cabinet last met on January 5.” • It’s almost like Biden doesn’t want to be seen in private.
I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Karl Rove on Trump-DeSantis feud: We learn a lot about candidates by ‘how they trade blows’” [The Hill]. It’s not a feud ffs. They’re competing to win a primary! “‘We learn a lot about the candidates by how we see how they trade blows,’ Rove said on Fox News. ‘We get a sense of their character, we get a sense of their thought process, we get a sense of their inner strength. We decide whether they like them or not. And it’s a helpful process.’” More, DeSantis: “Hell, his whole family moved to Florida under my governorship.” • Ouch! This is good, but a lot would depend on how DeSantis delivered the line.
“A psychic peeks inside the mind of Chris Christie” [NJ.com]. Another son of the Garden State throws his hat in the ring. This is really funny, well worth a read. “So, what is Christie thinking? His people all say he’s serious, that he sees a path to victory that no one else can see, that American politics is full of surprises. If you believe that, there’s nothing I can do for you.” And: “So, let’s game this out. Maybe I damage Trump enough so that he loses the primary to someone else, and the eventual Republican nominee feels enough gratitude to make me Attorney General, the cabinet job I’ve always wanted. Maybe I have no impact on the race at all, but I win some hearts and minds, raise my profile, and even my speaking fees. What do I have to lose?”
“We’re Sure There’s a Totally Innocent Reason the Mar-a-Lago Surveillance Footage Room Flooded Amidst the DOJ’s Trump Investigation” [Vanity Fair]. • Great headline. Nothing at all like Clinton having her lawyers “wipe” her server disks — the ones she had, one point, whirring away in her bathroom in Chautauqua — before she handed them over to the FBI. I suppose it’s the crudity, the sheer brazenness, that gets liberal Democrats so worked up.
* * *
The horror, the horror:
And RFK Jr has been showered with positive coverage on Fox News
But lets look at what RFK Jr ACTUALLY BELIEVES
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 6, 2023
This is a long thread and Legum means me to be outraged by every horror in the parade. But for example: “RFK Jr. argues that John Kerry, not George Bush, won the 2004 election.” We are, of course, meant to think, or rather react, “ZOMG Trump!” But I stayed up that night blogging, in a coffee shop in Philly, and I well remember many oddities that night (besides the long lines and the voting machines bought and sold by networks of Republican cronies). I forget the county — it’s been 2023 — 2004 = 19 years, and Google is what it is — but when the building in which the votes were being counted was locked down due to a bomb threat, putatively from the Feds, and then nobody could trace the call… Well, you had to wonder. Of course, what I really remember was that Kerry actually fundraised on challenging election results, a result of election 2000, and so I went to bed expecting to cover that story the next morning…. Only to wake up to find that Kerry had rolled, and conceded. So President Wakefield has a point.
“GOP push to prevent gas stove ban is scuttled by Freedom Caucus members discontent with McCarthy” [ABC]. • Ho hum. McCarthy won. The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.
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.
* * *
Our Famously Free Press
“CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht is out after a brief and tumultuous tenure” [CNN]. “Licht, who became network chief last May after most recently leading “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” to much success, saw his tenure dogged by fierce criticism in the press, often the result of leaks from employees around him who never fully trusted his leadership skills or editorial vision.” • Really? Licht was responsible for Colbert, and that wasn’t enough?!
“CNN Is Tanking After Its Unforgivable Trump Town Hall” [The New Republic]. • Unforgivable? Really? Who do these clowns think they are? Priests? The Pope? (Of course, the real issue was the liberal Democrats hated the idea of losing control of any more media properties, and so — led by Bush-era war criminal-abettor, now liberal icon, David Frum, who initiated the dogpile that lead to Licht’s removal — sent a message to all the other media executives about what happens if you step out of line. Well done, all.
“CNN Interviews Comey on Every Alleged Violation of the Rule of Law . . . Except His Own” [The Hill]. “[Anderson] Cooper also did not ask Comey about the blistering report of Special Counsel John Durham on the repeated failure of his own leadership in pushing an investigation without sufficient evidence. Under his leadership, the FBI took a false Russian collusion theory pushed by the Clinton campaign and continued the investigation despite early refutation of the underlying sources and claims. That included warnings from American intelligence that the agency was using suspected Russian disinformation funneled through the Clinton campaign.” • For more on the Durham Report, see NC here. Licht serviced Comey, but that wasn’t enough; he has to abhor Trump, too.
Realignment and Legitimacy
VIDEO THREAD: “Protect our children!” Today a Muslim-led coalition rallied outside the Montgomery County Maryland School Board against the removal of an “opt-out” option from human sexuality related material.
Pro-LGBT activists counter-protested, chanting “secular schools!” pic.twitter.com/48qpRDJzyM
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) June 6, 2023
There are lots of things we don’t teach in school, mostly things we do in the privacy of our own homes, for fun. In general, we don’t have curricula for model railroading, or knitting, or stamp collecting, or brewing. These are all hobbies. So why don’t we — hear me out — collectively classify sex (hence, gender) as a hobby, and stop teaching it altogether in the public schools? This would have the additional advantage of blowing away an entire layer of administration — along with plenty of expense for consultants — at literally no educational cost. If parents want to have their children taught about sex, let them hire a tutor.
“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
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort.
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Stay safe out there!
Look for the Helpers
“Request for NIH to Retract RECOVER Study Regarding 12 Symptom PASC Score For Long Covid” [Covid Action Network]. • They’ve blown past their goal of 25,000 letters sent with 29,896. “Only 21,304 more until our goal of 51,200.” For more on the RECOVER study, see NC here.
Covid Is Airborne
“US CDC announces indoor air guidance for COVID-19 after 3 years” [The Lancet]. To be fair, that’s only six months in CDC time. More: “A day after the US Government formally lifted the COVID-19 public health emergency order on May 11—and 3 years into the pandemic—the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced long-awaited new ventilation guidance aimed at reducing indoor transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The announcement calls for indoor air to be completely replaced at least five times every hour and cleaned with minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV)-13 air filters… This guidance was released less than 2 weeks after Rochelle Walensky stepped down as Director of the CDC…. The absence of specific indoor air ventilation and filtration guidance early in the COVID-19 pandemic most likely cost lives.” • And yes, meeting those standards would cost money (see NC here) — no doubt why CDC waited to announce this until after Walensky was gone, and there was no incentive to do anything, the emergency being over. So the recommendation will gather dust. Along with our lungs.
“COVID Vaccine Hesitancy and Risk of a Traffic Crash” [The American Journal of Medicine]. Ontario. From the results section: “A total of 11,270,763 individuals were included, of whom 16% had not received a COVID vaccine and 84% had received a COVID vaccine. The cohort accounted for 6682 traffic crashes during follow-up. Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 1682 traffic crashes (25%), equal to a 72% increased relative risk compared with those vaccinated (95% confidence interval, 63-82; P < 0.001). The increased traffic risks among unvaccinated individuals extended to diverse subgroups, was similar to the relative risk associated with sleep apnea, and was equal to a 48% increase after adjustment for age, sex, home location, socioeconomic status, and medical diagnoses (95% confidence interval, 40-57; P < 0.001). The increased risks extended across the spectrum of crash severity, appeared similar for Pfizer, Moderna, or other vaccines, and were validated in supplementary analyses of crossover cases, propensity scores, and additional controls." • Handy table:
Surely lots of confounders?
“Narrow transmission bottlenecks and limited within-host viral diversity during a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak on a fishing boat” [Virus Evolution]. n = 13. From the Abstract: “Here, we use deep sequencing to investigate the transmission of viral genetic variation among individuals during a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak that infected the vast majority of crew members on a fishing boat. We deep-sequenced nasal swabs to characterize the within-host viral population of infected crew members, using experimental duplicates and strict computational filters to ensure accurate variant calling. We find that . The mutations that did fix in some crew members during the outbreak are not observed at detectable frequencies in any of the sampled crew members in which they are not fixed, suggesting that viral evolution involves occasional fixation of low-frequency mutations during transmission rather than persistent maintenance of within-host viral diversity. Overall, .” And from the Conclusion: “Even superspreading events in poorly ventilated, close-quarters environments appear insufficient to alter the dominant role of transmission bottlenecks in shaping the evolution of SARS-CoV-2.” • Were any of the crew members immunocompromised? Or did any have Covid previously?
At some point, doesn’t the denial and the coping have to fail?
In a mommy group someone asked how many days their kids missed this year. Answers were 12-90 days, lots of sickness, therapy appointments and suspensions. this is nuts anyone finds this normal. Some states parents get in trouble for truancy.
— doggolover 🐾 (@beckymucha274) June 7, 2023
Especially when one’s own children are involved?
“Did you have evidence?”
For an insight into why Tasmania has the highest SARS-Cov 2 transmission rate in the nation, here’s our part time Health Minister trying to explain why he led the National Cabinet charge with Perrottet to remove mandatory 5 day isolation #politas https://t.co/eTE7jKq17S
— Cassy O’Connor 🪲 (@CassyOConnorMP) June 7, 2023
“The CDC wants people to stop eating raw cookie dough. But it’s so tasty’ [WaPo]. • Priorities!
Covid’s not all that’s airborne:
Good time to close windows, stay indoors as much as possible and run HEPA (or MERV13) filters to protect against this.
Yes — those are the same systems recommended to filter viruses from the air. If you got them for the pandemic, you also have a protective layer against smoke. https://t.co/KFUohULhr2
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) June 7, 2023
And speaking of smoke (I apologize for the long graphic, but I can’t cut the original thread):
More on the experiment. Psychology mavens, feel free to comment!
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from June 5:
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.
• It would be irresponsible not to speculate:
Somehow, despite their mutational advantage on paper, we’ve slowed transmission of XBBs in people. And nobody seems to have a clue why, or even reslise it tbh. The only explanation i have is that it might not replicate well in the upper respiratory tract. @GuptaR_lab @jbloom
— Ted Brautigan (@T_Brautigan) June 5, 2023
NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 27, 2023:
Lambert here: XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.9.1 still on the way up, eating into XBB.1.5. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).
CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell. Looks like the Walgreens variants page isn’t updating.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from June 3:
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. 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.
NOT UDPATED From Walgreens, June 5:
0.4%. Frequency down to once a week.
NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 31:
Lambert here: I’m happy the numbers are down, but zero they cannot be. Looks like some administrative minimizer at WHO put the worst intern in charge of the project. And thanks, Johns Hopkins of the $9.32 billion endowment, for abandoning this data feed and passing responsibility on to the clown car at WHO.
Total: 1,166,160 –
1,166,043 = 117 (117 * 365 = 42,705 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 Excess deaths (The Economist), published June 4:
Lambert here: Actually some encouragement!
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (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. )
The Economy: “United States Used Car Prices YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks prices of used vehicles sold at its US wholesale auctions decreased 7.6% year-on-year in May of 2023, the biggest annual drop in four months. However, “the rate of decline might slow over the next several months as we encounter the lower prices seen at auction from May through November last year. Two consecutive reads in either measure do not a trend make, as used retail inventory is still below last year, and that tends to keep buyers at the auction, supporting prices”, said Chris Frey, senior manager of Economic and Industry insights for Cox Automotive.”
Tech: “Is AI Killing the Stock Industry? A Data Perspective” [Stock Performer]. “Looking at all Adobe Stock files since 2022, we get a sell-through rate of 13%. Or, put another way, 87% of all Adobe Stock files created since 2022 have not made a sale yet. (The STR for all non-AI images is the same, 13%.) How does this compare to AI-generated images? The sell-through rate for AI-generated images is somewhat lower, at 9%. So at this point, more AI-generated images don’t sell on average. To many contributors, this may not be a problem because it is much more cost-effective to produce large volumes of images than it is with traditional photography. It is also worth noting that the difference is not that big and over time, this value will likely approach Adobe Stock’s average as in general, sales for files take some time to pick up. We can say that AI-generated images are definitely being bought. Although text-to-image tools are available to everyone now, many buyers still appear to resort to stock agencies to get the images they need. This is not surprising because prompt engineering is a skill just like photography is and for many buyers, it is easier to buy AI-generated images off-the-shelf rather than to create them themselves. More important than STR for contributors, however, is RPI/m, which is short for “revenue per image per month”. This metric answers the following question: For each file you produce, how much money can you expect to make on average per month? Adobe Stock’s RPI/m for any file is 3.75 cents. Compare that to AI-generated images at Adobe Stock, for which the RPI/m is 17 cents. That is quite good. Given that the STR is lower, this means that each AI sale earns more money than other files. The RPD, short for “revenue per download”, confirms this: Overall it is $1.22 for Adobe Stock vs. $1.94 for AI-generated images on Adobe Stock. Over time, we expect this number to go down as more AI-generated images enter the market and there is more competition. Rumours are Adobe Stock is getting so many AI image submissions, they are falling way behind with inspections. Looks like we’re seeing some kind of AI gold rush at the moment.” • Ugh. “Images capturing the style of the top sellers”:
I have never seen an AI-generated image that I wasn’t repelled by, and these images confirm me in my priors. Who but a psycho would buy that stuff? Wait, don’t answer that.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 6 at 1:39 PM ET.
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