By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Kashmir Nuthatch, Yusmarg Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, India. “Calls from the male of a pair of birds, responding to playback of Collared Owlet, along with a large group of tits and other birds. While calling the bird was moving mid to high in a tall dead pine tree, in mixed conifer forest.”
“How an audience changes a songbird’s brain” [NewsWise].
In the new research, Dr. Gadagkar and colleagues at Cornell University [Yay!] measured variations in dopamine in situations where a bird is choosing between several objectives at once, say practicing its song but also finding water or winning a mate. The scientists found that whenever courtship became part of the mix, replete with the external reward of a female calling in response to the male’s song, the dopamine-based error signals linked to seeking water or song rehearsal were suppressed. Simultaneously, the reward signal for performing a song well enough to elicit return calls from a female intensified.
“We think this is ,” said Dr. Gadagkar. “The big idea here is that your self-evaluation system, which you’re using to learn when you’re practicing, might be dialed down or switched off when you’re performing and your dopamine system instead becomes primed to receiving social feedback.”
“A big question for us now is whether these systems may be widely at play when it comes to learning many kinds of behaviors, including speaking, singing, playing an instrument and all kinds of behaviors where learning depends on internal self evaluations,” said Dr. Gadagkar. “Now I want to know if this same circuitry might be much more general-purpose than anyone previously had thought.”
“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 Constitutional Order
“The Supreme Court Needs to Make a Call on Trump’s Eligibility” [The Atlantic]. “Trump, right now, is already being challenged as constitutionally disqualified, and these issues are going to have to be resolved, sooner or later. My point is that sooner is much better than later. A number of legal doctrines could lead courts to kick this issue down the road for some time. Maybe the provision applies not to primaries, but only to candidates in a general election. Maybe voters don’t have standing to sue, because they can’t show a particularized injury. Maybe this is a political question to be decided by the political branches, such as Congress, rather than by the judiciary. But courts should not dally, because judicial delay could result in disaster. Imagine this scenario: Election officials and courts take different positions on whether Trump’s name can appear on the ballot in 2024. The Supreme Court refuses to get involved, citing one of these doctrines for avoiding assessing the case’s merits. Trump appears to win in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Democrats control Congress, and when January 6, 2025, arrives and it is time to certify the vote, Democrats say that Trump is ineligible to hold office, and he cannot serve…. The pressure to disqualify Trump is only going to grow until there’s a final resolution of the question.”
“Secretaries of state get ready for possible challenges to Trump’s ballot access” [NBC News]. “‘We need to run an election,’ [Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat elected last year, told NBC News] said. “We need to know who is eligible, and this is of incredible national interest. We aren’t taking a position one way or the other.’… [New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan] made the same point Monday — that he is ‘not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot’ but is trying to figure out what to do about potential challenges that are brewing.”
“The important role played by secretaries of state in administering fair elections is changing – and not in a good way” [The Conversation]. From 2022, still germane. “I’m a scholar of public-sector governance and a former local government official. I believe there are some disturbing signs emerging related to our highly partisan election administration system that could erode the public’s confidence in the neutrality of elections…. Overall mistrust in the neutrality of the election process is high, and voters are losing trust in U.S. elections. Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent have been repeatedly disproved through exhaustive audits, recounts, reports and reviews. Yet despite this fact, consistently about 70% of Republican voters suspect election fraud. This has led some states to alter the role of the chief election official. Some states have passed legislation that has shifted aspects of election administration to partisan bodies such as state legislatures or partisan-dominated election boards. When responsibility for an aspect of an election is changed in this way, it can intensify partisan gamesmanship, which in turn further erodes public trust. Further affecting their reputation for neutrality, from 2000 to 2020 almost 30% of state chief election officers publicly endorsed a candidate running in a race under their supervision.” • That 30% figure is disturbing. What are they thinking? A good explainer, worth a read. On our highly decentralized system, a handy chart:
* * *
“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:
The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.
Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.
Time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Trump Golf Courses Face Hazards in NY Judge’s Civil Fraud Ruling” [Sportico]. “Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump is liable for fraud, and his order cancels any certificates filed under New York General Business Law Section 130, which governs the filing of certificates by individuals conducting business under assumed name or as partners. The cancellation includes any certificates related not only to the former president, but also his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and others. Cancellation of certification doesn’t remove assets from Trump’s ownership, but it prevents the asset from conducting business. If Trump filed sports-related certificates under Section 130, they are cancelled. The order also instructs that the parties have 10 days to recommend the names of potential independent receivers to manage the dissolution of limited liability companies. Dissolution of an LLC does not take away a business or other asset from Trump, but it requires him to reorganize or relocate the asset or sell it…. As Sportico previously reported, Trump’s FEC disclosures reported him earning as much as $555 million through his golf course assets between January 2022 and April 14, 2023, roughly half of the $1.2 billion in income he specified as having received during that time period. Trump now has the right to appeal Engoron’s ruling and seek a stay, which would postpone the order taking effect until after an appeal. He can also ask for clarification from the judge regarding how he and his businesses must comply with it.” • As of this morning, Trump had sought “clarification,” not a stay, although his lawyers have said they will appeal. (I’m also really enjoying it that a sports journal has the best coverage I’ve seen, and the focus is Trump’s golf courses.)
“Did Judge Kill The Trump Organization? What Fraud Ruling Means For Ex-President’s Business” [Forbes]. “A lot about how the dissolution process will play out remains unclear, with Insider noting a company dissolution on this scale has only ever really been attempted before when New York Attorney General Letitia James—who brought the Trump Organization suit—unsuccessfully tried to shut down the National Rifle Association. There are still a lot of unknowns as part of the order, such as how it will impact Trump properties outside of New York and those that weren’t directly named as defendants in the lawsuit, such as Trump Tower. Ultimately, the issue is likely to take years to play out in court, and Trump and his family have already vowed to appeal Engoron’s ruling.” • Frankly, I’m still reeling that Engoron granted the prosecution summary judgment ion fraud; that really does sound like Third World stuff, to me. If inflated valuations in the New York real estate business be fraud, who shall ‘scape whipping?
“Explainer: What does New York fraud ruling mean for Donald Trump’s business empire?” [Reuters]. “The immediate impact of the ruling is unclear as Trump’s holdings comprise a network of roughly 500 entities spanning real estate, licensing and other business ventures. The ruling covers 10 Trump entities but includes pillars of Trump’s empire, including his commercial property at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, golf resort in Scotland and Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Independent receivers could continue to operate the properties as businesses or liquidate them, though Trump would likely be entitled the proceeds of any sale, legal experts say. Engoron declined to answer whether the assets would be sold or simply managed by an independent receiver when asked by one of Trump’s lawyers during a hearing on Wednesday, saying he would rule on that question later.” • It will be interesting to see who the recievers are (Schumer’s brother-in-law, Hochul’s mom, Cuomo’s cousin… Just spitballing here!).
“Judge denies Trump’s request to recuse herself in federal election subversion case” [Associated Press]. “In seeking Chutkan’s recusal, defense lawyers cited statements she had made in two sentencing hearings of participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in which they said she had appeared to suggest that Trump deserved to be prosecuted and held accountable. They said the comments suggested a bias against him that could taint the proceedings. But Chutkan vigorously objected to the those characterizations of her comments. ‘It bears noting that the court has never taken the position the defense ascribes to it: that former ‘President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned,” Chutkan wrote. ‘And the defense does not cite any instance of the court ever uttering those words or anything similar.’”
* * *
“Donald Trump was a no-show for the second Republican debate. He still came out on top.” [Susan Page, USA Today]. “Donald Trump won. At the second Republican primary debate Wednesday, one that stretched for two hours, neither a question nor an answer mentioned the 91 criminal counts that the former president now faces in four jurisdictions. Juggling a broad range of issues, the seven candidates on stage spent more time and energy attacking Vivek Ramaswamy, a political newcomer now scoring in single digits in national polls, than they did on Trump. Who, by the way, has a yawning lead over all of them. There were more attacks on Trump this time than in the first debate in August, but the jibes were more often simply for failing to show up on stage than for anything he has done, as president or since then…. When the evening ended, there were no signs that the fundamental dynamic of the race had shifted. None of the contenders had effectively challenged Trump’s standing as Number 1. None even emerged as the clear Number 2, the leading alternative to Trump, a standing DeSantis has lost. And a muddled field of multiple contenders eases Trump’s path to claiming the nomination, as it did in 2016.”
“Trump Wants to Freeze the Election at Halftime” [Jack Shafer, Politico]. “Trump has largely discarded the hard, steady work of campaigning against his Republican opponents on the stump and limited his appearance to ‘spot’ events, TV interviews, or tele-rallies. Instead of fighting for votes, Trump people have worked the nomination process to make sure that rules that reward delegates tip his way. Where he can’t raise money, he tries to persuade potential donors not to give to his foes…. In short, he’s acting like he’s clinched both the nomination and the general election — about a year early…. Trump might want to pretend the rest of the campaign is a meaningless charade, but a lot of history is about to go down between today and November 2024.” • Or — given that one of Trump’s great strengths is sensing weakness in others — Trump thinks history is on his side. A debacle in Ukraine, and prices six months from now like they are today, and he could be right.
* * *
“Trump Tells Autoworkers ‘I Don’t Care What You Get’ in Bizarre Nonunion Rally” [New York Magazine]. “Throughout the rally, Trump tried to frame himself as the pro-union candidate for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership that had the potential to take auto-manufacturing jobs abroad…. At one point during a long diatribe against electric vehicles, he said, ‘I don’t care what you get in the next two weeks, or three weeks, or five weeks,’ referring to the length of the strike. (According to Trump, it wouldn’t matter due to the Biden administration’s support of electric vehicles and the potential for the growing industry to undercut union jobs.) ‘I don’t think you’re picketing for the right thing,’ he added…. As for the Autoworkers for Trump signs in the audience, reporters at the rally found that Trump campaign staffers were passing them out to non-union workers.” • Notably, the reporting doesn’t give any crowd reaction. No quotes from the workers at all. (It sounds to me like Trump is trying to melt anti-EV conservative sentiment with the idea that EVs, no matter what, are going to give autoworkers the shaft simply because there’s not as much labor in them.)
* * *
“Biden takes his sarcastic side public to defuse age concerns and sharpen attacks on GOP” [CNN]. “As his reelection campaign lays the groundwork for a potential rematch with Donald Trump, Biden’s joke-telling is a way to keep him from coming off like a stodgy soon-to-be-81-year-old with a ‘stiffened gait,’ as some White House aides put it. It’s also a way of defusing some of the attacks about his age, which advisers felt he was feeding into by being so transparently sensitive about the topic…. But after years of running up against Biden’s desire to preserve a reverential feeling around the presidency, several in his inner circle spent the spring encouraging him to use his sense of humor more – and they’re pleased enough with the results that more than one privately claims credit for the idea. A sampling of those results: On being asked what he thought of Trump’s mug shot, last month: ‘Handsome guy.’ On the many doubts about his age, last week at a fundraiser: ‘I’ve never been more optimistic about our country’s future in the 800 years I’ve served.’ Then at another fundraiser: ‘I know I look like I’m 30, but I’ve been around doing this a long time.’” • Maybe Biden should start biting people, like his dog. That would squelch the rumors!
“Timeline: What Did the Feds Not Do About Alleged Biden Family Corruption and When Did They Not Do It?” [RealClearInvestigations]. • Timelines are now all the rage. Genuinely better than yarn diagrams!
* * *
“What the world should expect from a second Trump term” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “But there’s one possible leading indicator for 2024 that is currently looking very good for the Donkey Party: strong performances in this year’s special elections…. Historically, this level of performance in off-year special elections has had some significant predictive value, notes FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich. He calculates that Democrats have exceeded their past share of the vote in this year’s special elections by an average of 11 percentage points and suggests this may carry over to next year… If Democrats do continue to exceed electoral expectations in 2023, it may serve as a reminder that many Republicans love extremism more than victory. And that’s Biden’s abiding ace in the hole for 2024 as well.”
“James Comer brings the MAGA circus to town: What the House GOP witness list says about impeachment” [Salon]. “Do we now tar presidents with the brush of an impeachment inquiry before we have a single fact that they profited from any abuse of office?” • Again, Hunter swans around invoking his loving Dad’s name as a branding exercise and placing calls to him while closing business deal. Loving Dad does nothing about it. That’s the bare minimum fact set, and how can it possibly be right?
“Impeachment memo: Biden family collected $15 million in foreign money, DOJ ‘obstructed’ probe” [Just the News]. “The memo said congressional investigators have tracked bank records showing $24 million in foreign funds flowed to Hunter Biden‘s businesses and those of associates between 2014 and 2018, with $15 million of that ending up in the accounts of Biden family members or their businesses.” • Here is the memo. From the memo, an important point:
Given that impeachment is designed, among other things, to protect the American people from corrupt public officials, it makes sense that the Constitution does not limit impeachable offenses to those an officer committed while serving in his current office. In fact, the Constitution says nothing at all about the timing of impeachable acts. An officer may be impeached for conduct in a former office as well as his current office. Indeed, the House has adopted articles of impeachment based on conduct occurring prior to an officer assuming his current position. As a result, President Biden may be impeached for any impeachable offenses he committed as Vice President in addition to any such offenses he has committed as President.
Obama would walk the UAW picket line for a cool $325,000 speaking fee.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) September 28, 2023
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.
* * *
“The biggest donor group in Democratic politics privately moves against No Labels” [Politico]. “A powerful network of liberal donors is joining the push to stop No Labels’ threatened plan to launch a third-party presidential run — warning major political funders to stay away from the group. The donors club, Democracy Alliance, shared its thinking about the bipartisan organization’s operation exclusively with POLITICO. Democrats have grown increasingly concerned that an independent No Labels ticket would function as a spoiler and help former President Donald Trump or another Republican candidate defeat President Joe Biden in 2024. ‘No Labels has no chance of winning the 2024 election. But it has a very real chance of tipping that election to Donald Trump and catapulting our country into MAGA authoritarianism,’ said Pamela Shifman, president of the Democracy Alliance. ‘They want to splinter the coalition of voters who banded together to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.’” • Any coalition that Joe Lieberman and some grey-skinned centrist can “splinter” wasn’t much of a coalition to begin with.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Senate unanimously passes formal dress code after uproar” [Axios]. • Dress codes. The Senate really is high school all over again, isn’t it? Maybe we could make them wear little uniforms. Might bring some discipline to the place.
“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; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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 (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern 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).
Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Stay safe out there!
Look for the Helpers
“Covid hunters: the amateur sleuths tracking the virus and its variants” [Guardian]. “[T]he pandemic’s trajectory is becoming more difficult to predict – and decision-makers are increasingly reliant on the warnings of a diverse bunch of independent researchers. This week, Ryan Hisner, a teacher from Indiana, US, was listed alongside various academic co-authors on a paper in Nature, describing how the antiviral drug molnupiravir used to treat patients with Covid-19 may be fuelling the evolution of new variants by creating a specific set of mutations. The first of these mutated variants was identified by another amateur virus hunter – Nick Rose, 27, a software engineer from Wisconsin. While it is not clear whether such mutations help the virus to tolerate the drug, the findings could have implications for how antivirals are deployed, scientists say. In common with other self-taught Covid sleuths, Hisner has no formal education in virology – just a knack for spotting patterns and the motivation to wade through reams of genetic data each day. Now with several years of experience under their belts, experts argue that such individuals have become a crucial component of global virus surveillance.” • Excellent article that shows citizen science really is possible. Note also the key role played by Twitter: “During the early days of the pandemic, such work was the preserve of experienced scientists with the biological knowledge and technical skills to make sense of the tens of thousands of genetic sequences being uploaded each day. But as the pandemic has rolled on, they have been joined by people from all walks of life with the interest and motivation to learn these skills, aided by the interactions they have had with these experts on Twitter, now rebranded as X.” No other platform could have done this (other than the blogosphere, of course); Twitter’s universal address space enabled these interactions. Note also we have not advanced one millimeter from the fragile, volunteer-based system I described back in 2023; although, it has to be said, integrating a “a diverse bunch of independent researchers” with scientists has also avoided the corruption so prevalent in anything funded by, say, Big Pharma. Or CDC. Or NIH.
Covid is Airborne
For some definition of “work”:
This is how life works, right? https://t.co/XFBqXbsvnJ
— CT (@cdtwriter) September 27, 2023
“COVID-19 rampant among musicians despite ‘end of the pandemic’” [WSWS]. “A remarkable number of musicians—from Ringo Starr to Harry Styles—have canceled concerts and other appearances in the past year due to acknowledged cases of COVID-19 or, more frequently, due to undisclosed illnesses. While governments have averted their eyes from the COVID pandemic, halting its reporting of cases and other crucial data, observable phenomena such as an epidemic of canceled shows demonstrate that the deadly, highly contagious disease is still very much with us…. the vast majority of artists, along with the population more generally, have not been able to withstand the ruling elites’ unrelenting propaganda campaign aimed at falsely portraying the pandemic as over and COVID-19 as no more harmful than the common cold or flu. This is understandable, as it has been driven from the highest levels of the state and involves the entire political establishment and corporate media.”
Immune System Dysregulation
“135 people at Kentridge High School recommended for testing after active TB case identified” [K5]. ” Over 100 people from Kentridge High School are now recommended to be evaluated for tuberculosis after a school community member was diagnosed with active tuberculosis, according to the Seattle & King County Public Health. The 135 people were contacted based on the time spent exposed to the diagnosed person within an indoor space. The exposure happened between March through September 2023. Tuberculosis is spread through coughs and sneezes but is less likely to spread than the cold or flu. In order to be infected with tuberculosis, a person typically must be exposed to it more than once and for a prolonged amount of time within a confined space.” • Commentary:
If you are not at least considering the hypothesis, “The increased frequency and severity of various viral illnesses in 2023 may be an immunological consequence of widespread COVID infection”, then you are not a serious interlocutor.
— Dr David Berger, aBsuRdiSTe cROnickLeR (@YouAreLobbyLud) September 26, 2023
TB is bacterial. Nevertheless.
Science Is Popping
“Opteev Develops World’s First Multiplex Biochip That Precisely Identifies COVID, Flu, RSV, and Respiratory Pathogens in Under 1 Minute” (press release) [Opteev Technologies]. “Opteev Technologies, Inc., a pioneering technology company at the forefront of diagnostics, has filed a patent (Patent Application #63/513,007) for a revolutionary multiplex biochip for respiratory infection diagnostics. The groundbreaking polymer-based biochip offers the potential to test multiple pathogens responsible for respiratory infections, including SARS-CoV-2, RSV, and Influenza, and precisely identify the specific virus or bacteria in under 1 minute. This game-changing technology paves the way for an ultra-rapid, portable, and accurate syndromic diagnostic device to empower healthcare providers with immediate results at their fingertips. The tiny biochip can directly detect whole viruses in real-time in both processed and unprocessed samples such as saliva or nasal swab and has demonstrated an unprecedented accuracy rate of 99.49% with an impressive limit of detection in its analytical performance evaluation. Furthermore, the biosensor achieves fine-tuned specificity by carefully selecting specific virus-binding peptides, enabling accurate identification of target viruses in complex samples.” • Big if true. Miniaturize the chip so it goes in a cellphone, and you’d really have something; don’t just limit the tech to “healthcare providers.”
Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.
* * * * * *
Lambert here: Wastewater data, ER visits, and positivity are all telling me the current peak is past; we dodged a bullet post-Labor Day/school opening. I wish the darned anecdotes — granted, Twitter’s algo amplifies my tendency toward doomscrolling — would co-operate:
“A recent study estimated that 60% of people infected with COVID in 2021 lost some ability to taste or smell, and a quarter of those patients, approximately 28 million Americans, didn’t fully recover”https://t.co/oTCzM1DPW5
— lizwhatsherface.bsky (@RealGayArbys) September 25, 2023
Again granted, loss of taste is a ghost of Covid past, as is loss of smell with the Yankee candles indicator we posted recently. The problem is, we don’t really have national data gathering anymore, and worse, we don’t have national data from multiple sources that confirm (or disconfirm) each other. Even biobot is so partial as to be proxy, albeit a good one. Chants: “Just the flu (mild!)! Just the flu (mild!)! Just the flu (mild!)! Just the flu (mild!)!
NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, September 25:
Lambert here: “Data last updated September 18, 2023 from samples collected during the week of September 11, 2023. This Thursday’s update is delayed. Visualizations are next expected to be updated on September 25, 2023. Most recent data are subject to change.” So even wastewater data is turning to garbage? (I checked CDC data, and it was updated on September 18, too? Funding issues? Everybody using the same lab behind the scenes, and there was a debacle of some kind?)=
Lambert here: Dropping everywhere but the Northeast.
Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 16:
Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). Still BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.
From CDC, September 2:
Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. 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.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 23:
Drop coinciding with wastewater drop.
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.
Bellwether New York City, data as of September 28:
Return to the upward climb. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.
NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 16:
Lambert here: At least we can see that positivity and hospitalization correlate.
Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?
NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 25:
-4.7%. Another big drop. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)
NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, September 23:
Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, September 4:
Back up again And here are the variants:
No BA.2.86 for three of the long-delayed collection weeks. We know BA.2.86 is in the country, so apparently it escaped CDC’s net.
NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 20:
Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?
Total: 1,176,595 –
1,176,310= 285 (285 * 365 = 104,025 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).
The Economist, September 28:
Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.
“United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.1% in the second quarter of 2023, unchanged from the previous estimate, and compared to an upwardly revised 2.2% growth in the first quarter.”
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edged higher by 2,000 to 204,000 on the week ending September 23rd, well below market expectations of 215,000 to remain close to the over-seven-month low in the earlier week. In the meantime, continuing claims rose by 12,000 to 1,670,000, under market expectations of 1,675,000 and remaining close to the near-eight-month low recorded previously. The data added to evidence that the labor market remains at historically tight levels, pointing to added resilience to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening cycle and adding leeway for a potential hike in November.”
Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production sank to -13 in September of 2023 from 12 in the prior month, pointing to the seventh negative reading year-to-date. The results were in line with other forward-looking indicators, pointing to a slowdown in the US industrial sector and suggesting that the economy is feeling a greater impact from the Fed’s aggressive tightening cycle. The decline in output was largely due to a faster deterioration in the volume of new orders.”
Tech: “GitHub CEO: ‘Wall Street relies on software that was developed under Eisenhower. Here’s how AI can prevent the next financial crisis’” [Fortune]. • Wait a minute. It’s worked for fifty years and that’s a problem?
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Retail: “Costco CFO: Retail theft ‘not a big issue for us’” [Yahoo Finance]. “On a call following Costco’s fourth quarter earnings results, CFO Richard Galanti told investors that inventory shrink is ‘thankfully, not a big issue for us.’ While some retailers are reporting that theft is hitting profits and causing them to close stores and lock up merchandise, Galanti noted that Costco’s inventory shrinkage hasn’t dramatically increased, even after the company brought back self-checkout in 2019 after ditching it six years prior. ‘In the past several years, our inventory shrink has increased by a couple of basis points, in part, we believe, due to the rollout of self-checkout,’ he said. ‘Over the past year, it has increased by less than 1 basis point.’ One factor that may help to prevent theft — people are paying to go there. Costco’s Gold Star membership costs $60 per year while an Executive Membership goes for $120. And in its annual report, the wholesale retailer said it keeps inventory losses to a minimum by ‘strictly controlling’ entrances and exits….. It’s worth noting that as a percentage of sales, .” • So much for the moral panic!
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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 30 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 28 at 1:56:11 PM ET.
“YouTube prankster says he didn’t know he scared man who ended up allegedly shooting him” [FOX]. “YouTube prankster Tanner Cook said in court on Tuesday that he had no idea he had scared or angered Alan Colie, 31, who ended up allegedly shooting him during a prank…. Cook operates the ‘Classified Goons’ channel on YouTube, which has over 55,000 subscribers. The YouTube channel films ‘pranks’ in public settings…. During Tuesday’s hearing, jurors saw a video of the shooting that was recorded by Cook’s associates. In the video, Cook could be seen approaching Colie, a DoorDash driver, while he picked up an order. Cook, who is 6-foot-5, could be seen holding a cell phone about 6 inches from Colie’s face. The cellphone broadcasted the phrase ‘Hey dips—-, quit thinking about my twinkle’ through a Google Translate app several times. Colie could be heard saying ‘stop on three separate occasions and tried to back away from Cook, who continued to advance towards him. Colie attempted to knock the phone away from his face before he allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Cook in the lower left chest. When Cook was asked why he didn’t stop the prank despite requests from Colie, he said that he ‘almost did’ stop, but not because he sensed fear or anger, but rather because Colie wasn’t giving the type of expected reaction.” • Social media reinvents Candid Camera, another vicious and reprehensible program. I loathe pranks (unless directed at institutionally powerful figures, as for example by the Yes Men).
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“The Definitive Guide to All Things Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce” [The Ringer]. • No.
“Blind Item #8” [Crazy Days and Nights]. “The A+ list singer and the NFL player are filming a commercial for the big game. That would explain a lot of this.”
“The Last Gasps of American Labor” [Michael Lind, The Tablet]. “The major obstacle to a revival of private sector unionism is American labor law itself…. [T]he Wagner Act was designed with a flaw. As amended by later law and court interpretations, it requires “enterprise bargaining”—that is, the unionization of each worksite, not each company, unless a company agrees otherwise. This was not a problem in the case of integrated, consolidated steel or automobile factories. But it means that each Amazon warehouse must be unionized one at a time. This presents a huge obstacle to unionization efforts of companies with many worksites. Unionization can also be thwarted by franchise organization, and by the replacement of full-time employees with contractors.
News of the Wired
“Food Delivery Robots Are Feeding Camera Footage to the LAPD, Internal Emails Show” . “A food delivery robot company that delivers for Uber Eats in Los Angeles provided video filmed by one of its robots to the Los Angeles Police Department as part of a criminal investigation, 404 Media has learned. The incident highlights the fact that delivery robots that are being deployed to sidewalks all around the country are essentially always filming, and that their footage can and has been used as evidence in criminal trials. Emails obtained by 404 Media also show that the robot food delivery company wanted to work more closely with the LAPD, which jumped at the opportunity.” • Because of course.
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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 TH:
TH writes: “Taken on the shady side of a dogwood reaching east from under much taller oaks, on May 21, 2023, in Washington DC SW.”
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