2:00PM Water Cooler 12/19/2023 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Kind readers, I have a query. I’ve been told that lowering my voice and softening my tone is a personal project I should undertake, for complicated reasons I can explain at a later date. My “set point,” if you will, is for my voice to carry to a room (debater; teacher; presenter). Not that I shout, but my register — if that is the word — is high. I’m really not clear on how to go about this, or even to sense it. Any advice for voice teachers or singers out there? Thank you! –lambert P.S. I got quite a late start. I also did the Covid section first, for the holidays, and so Politics will come in orts and scraps.

Bird Song of the Day

Stone Partridge (Stone), Shai Hills Resource Reserve, Greater Accra, Ghana. “Calls by a group.” “Chatter chatter!

* * *

Politics

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Capitol Seizure

“Protesters call for cease-fire as Senate looks to exit” [The Hill]. “Dozens of protestors gathered in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, as the Senate gears up to leave Washington for the holidays. U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) promptly arrested members of the group as they began protesting, escorting about 60 demonstrators out of the Capitol Rotunda one by one with their wrists zip-tied.” • Presumably they’ll be charged with “obstructing an official proceeding,” and jailed for many years?

2024

Less than a year to go!

* * *

“Trump polls shot upward after indictments started” [Washington Examiner]. “One notable thing about Trump’s national lead, now 50.6 points over DeSantis in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, is that it appears to have been turbocharged by the indictments, federal and local, against the former president. Without the indictments, there is no telling where the GOP race would be today. Look at the last day the national race was close, or relatively close: March 27 of this year, when Trump led DeSantis in the RealClearPolitics average by 15 points, 44% to 29%. Just days later, Trump was indicted for the first time, by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and his poll numbers rose sharply. By April 20, just three weeks later, Trump had risen 10 points to 54%. In the same time, DeSantis fell 7 points, to 22%. Trump’s lead over DeSantis had more than doubled, courtesy of Bragg. In the months that followed, Trump was indicted four more times, twice by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by the Biden Justice Department, and once by Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia. Through it all, Trump’s poll standing rose, from 44 points in late March to 54 points in late April to 58 points in September to 63 points today. Yes, his support has bumped up and down a little in that time, but Trump has not been below 50% support nationally since he first passed that mark on April 4 of this year. What has happened can only be called an enormous backfire for those Democrats and Never Trumpers who thought indicting Trump would bring him down. ” • Liberals. Owned.

“Why a Trump conviction might not save Biden’s reelection” [Politico]. “It’s the go-to refrain for Democrats watching Joe Biden fall behind Donald Trump in polls: Just wait until Trump is convicted…. They’re probably wrong. The evidence so far suggests the race might shift only slightly, by a few points. That could be important in another close election, but it’s not the kind of Trump collapse that Democrats may hope for — or Biden may need if his numbers don’t improve. Trump’s legal peril is unprecedented, and the sentiment that a criminal conviction could be a mortal wound to his candidacy is mostly driven by political intuition right now. But we’re starting to get more data on how a conviction would affect Trump’s chances to defeat Biden, thanks to pollsters who’ve asked voters what they would do if a jury found Trump guilty…. Last month’s New York Times/Siena College poll asked likely voters in six Biden-won swing states who said they weren’t supporting him — a collection of Trump voters and those who said they were undecided — what they would do if Trump ‘were convicted and sentenced to prison but were still the Republican nominee.’ Most of them would still vote for Trump, but 5 percent of the likely electorate across those swing states said they would vote for Biden under that circumstance. That’s potentially enough to tilt the race to the Democratic incumbent — but it’s not guaranteed, especially with Biden already trailing. Most of that 5-point shift came from voters who were undecided or preferred another candidate in the initial Biden-Trump contest.”

“Trump’s campaign expects to clinch 2024 nomination by mid-March -senior official” [Reuters]. ” Former President Donald Trump’s campaign team projects he could formally clinch the Republican presidential nomination by March 19, given his lead in polls in the early voting states, a senior campaign official said on Monday. The team believes Trump is on track to win 1,478 delegates by then, based on a mix of public and internal polls, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the campaign. That would be more than enough delegates needed to win a majority of the total of 2,429 delegates who will select a nominee at the Republican National Convention, set for July in Milwaukee.” • Hmm. Let’s see what the voters have to say. And, of course, the press.

* * *

“Biden is reluctant to accept his ‘old age,’ aides say” [Axios]. “President Biden’s reluctance to acknowledge his physical limitations at age 81 is causing some tension on his team, as senior aides and First Lady Jill Biden [whistling the Nutcracker as she does?] push him to rest more and be vigilant about his health going into 2024…. In conversations with aides and friends, Biden frequently says some version of: ‘I feel so much younger than my age.’…. Jill Biden and her team are deeply involved in the president’s day-to-day schedule…. She often works to get him as much rest as possible, and to improve his diet [euphemism?]” • So Dr. Biden does control Joe’s juice?

“Biden’s Decision to Skip New Hampshire Is ‘Political Malpractice’” [The Nation]. “In February, the DNC decided to eliminate New Hampshire’s first-primary status for the 2024 presidential election. Instead, the candidate selection process would begin in South Carolina, which would hold a low-profile vote in late February of 2024—weeks after Republicans, who have gleefully embraced the traditional schedule of holding first caucuses in Iowa and the first primary in New Hampshire, were set to begin voting for their nominee. Unfortunately for the DNC, New Hampshire went ahead with an unsanctioned Democratic primary—one in which Biden, following the new party rules, is not competing, but where a crowd of other Democrats, including 2020 Democratic presidential contender Marianne Williamson and US Representative Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) will be on the ballot…. Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign will be a multibillion-dollar effort that employs the best political talent both in the Democratic Party and in supportive unions and liberals organizations. His bid is being pitched as a crusade not just to reelect a Democratic commander-in-chief but to save American democracy from the threat posed by Donald Trump’s election result-denying, violence-threatening MAGA Republicans. Biden himself says the stakes could not be higher. ‘I know that if the other team, the MAGA Republicans, win, they don’t want to uphold the rule of law,’ the president declared in early October, adding that “somehow we’ve got to communicate to the American people that this is for real. This is real.’ Yet White House political strategists and DNC members, the people who say they are desperate to communicate to voters—and the potential voters who need to be energized to come out to vote in November 2024—decided to mess with the 2024 primary schedule in a way that Granite Staters fear will give Republicans a PR boost. ‘Not being here reinforces the impression that he’s too old,’ says Arnie Arnesen, a New Hampshire radio host and former Democratic state legislator and gubernatorial nominee. ‘It leaves a void that the Republicans are going to fill. You know that.’” • Clyburn wanted a pay-off for 2020. So Biden paid him off. And so the local NH Democrats are doing a write-in campaign…

“Biden said to be increasingly frustrated by dismal poll numbers” [WaPo]. “After pardoning a pair of turkeys, an annual White House tradition, Biden delivered some stern words for the small group assembled: His poll numbers were unacceptably low and he wanted to know what his team and his campaign were doing about it. He complained that his economic message had done little to move the ball, even as the economy was growing and unemployment was falling, according to people familiar with his comments, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation…. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who is running for the state’s open Senate seat, has expressed concern to allies that she may not be able to win her race if Biden is at the top of the ticket, according to people familiar with the conversations. A spokesman for Slotkin’s campaign said she “ooks forward to running with President Biden.’” Slotkin is, of course, a CIA Democrat. Hmmm. More: “‘The Republican primary could end quickly, and ,’ said Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist. ‘Given Trump’s noisiness and his ability to bully his way through the daily information wars, I think it’s really important that the Biden campaign move into general election mode as soon as possible. We’re not where we want to be. Some of our coalition is wandering and we need to go get them back.’” • Not such a bad argumet from Rosenberg.

“The Alarming Calm of the Biden Campaign” [New York Magazine]. A good read. This paragraph caught my eye: “Early this fall, [Jim] Messina, who talks regularly with members of Biden’s inner circle, distributed a 22-slide deck that he hoped would send a message to concerned Democrats — or, as he termed them to Politico, the ‘f*cking bed-wetters.’ He acknowledged that the race would be close but looked to ratchet nerves down by arguing that Biden has at least four credible avenues to victory in the Electoral College. One is simply to replicate the 2020 map for 303 electoral votes. This was not easy to do the first time around and may be harder to pull off again; Biden flipped Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan and became the first Democrat to win Arizona and Georgia in decades. A second path is narrower: Biden could win exactly the necessary 270 by carrying those midwestern ‘blue wall’ states — even if he concedes Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada. A third route is the reverse of the second one, a ‘Sunbelt strategy’ that would net 275. The fourth option calls for replicating 2022’s Senate-race results, dropping Wisconsin and North Carolina but winning the other battlegrounds for 293. The hard part is that no two of these states require the same winning formula, not even the ones that tend to swing together or that look demographically similar from afar.”

“Biden’s Agenda Hangs in Balance as Tough Election Year Approaches” [Wall Street Journal]. “Those with concerns include former President Barack Obama, who ‘knows this is going to be a close race’ and ‘feels that Democrats very well could lose’ the 2024 election, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Obama worries that ‘the alternative is pretty dangerous for [our] democracy,’ the person said.” • The Wizard of Kalorama™ opens — forgive the metaphor — the kimono slightly to disclose the shiv….

* * *

IA: “Wheels threaten to come off DeSantis campaign” [The Hill]. “Over the weekend, a Washington Post report detailed chaos within DeSantis’s super PAC, Never Back Down. Hours later, a top strategist left the operation — just four weeks before voting kicks off in Iowa with what might be the most critical contest for the Florida governor. A complaint filed Monday by the nonprofit watchdog Campaign Legal Center also alleges DeSantis ‘illegally coordinated’ with the super PAC and that Never Back Down went against an ‘explicit legal requirement that super PACs must remain ‘independent.” These developments add to a string of setbacks and shakeups for DeSantis’s campaign as he struggles to hold on to second place in the Republican presidential field, with former President Trump in the lead and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on the rise.” • I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the evangelicals do….

NH: “Haley gains on Trump in latest New Hampshire poll” [The Hill]. “GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is gaining some momentum on former President Trump among New Hampshire Republican voters, though Trump still holds a strong lead in the early nominating contest. The latest CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday found Haley has emerged as a top alternative to the former president, consolidating much of the non-Trump vote. Among likely GOP primary voters, 29 percent say they would vote for the former South Carolina governor, putting her 15 points behind Trump.” • That’s within striking distance of a “nearly upsets” narrative, though I frankly don’t know of Haley has the organic support for a drive down the stretch like that.

* * *

“No Labels Is Pushing a Lie That Will Elect Trump” [Jim Messina, Politico]. Messina ran Obama’s 2012 campaign. “Our political system isn’t designed to support third parties at the presidential level. The biggest barrier is the Electoral College. States use a “winner takes all” system to distribute their electoral votes, which is why Perot won nearly 20 percent of the popular vote but got a big fat zero from the Electoral College. This leads to two practical effects: First, parties are incentivized to form the largest coalitions possible, which naturally leads to a two-party system. Second, many voters don’t want to “waste” their vote on a candidate with no chance of winning, so they default to the major parties. Both effects make it harder for third parties to compete.” • The Constitution was “designed,” and parties are not an entity within in, in fact not even conceptualized (the closest is “faction”). Our political system evolved. It was not designed.

* * *

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Gerontocracy Waged War on Gen Z. Now They’re Fighting Back” [Rolling Stone]. “I am sitting in the dark cool of the Watergate Hotel, listening to Gen Z describe a childhood filled with lockdown drills and existential dread over a heated world. It is the third and final day of a summit hosted by Voters of Tomorrow, a Gen Z-led organization dedicated to turning out the youth vote and advancing its “Gen Z agenda,” policies like abolishing tipped wages and the filibuster in Congress. When I walked into the conference room a few hours earlier, the scene was indistinguishable from a Model U.N. conference: clusters of young people huddled over something called “legislative strategy,” Crayola markers sprawled nearby. Born in 2019, out of the sense that older politicians have left their generation high and dry, Voters of Tomorrow has one message: If you want us to vote for you, you’re going to first listen. There’s an urgency for the people in this room — they believe the failure of older generations to leave behind a livable future means it is up to them to turn things around before it’s too late. ” • No, you’re really not “listening to Gen Z.” You’re listening to the small fraction of Gen Z — whatever that is — who could afford to travel to and attend a three-day shindig at the Watergate Hotel. There’s no reason at all to treat the attendees “in the room” as representative.

#COVID19

“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).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

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!

* * *

Maskstravaganza

“Intranasal mask for protecting the respiratory tract against viral aerosols” [Nature]. Mice and model. From the Introduction: “Here, we engineer an intranasal mask (Fig. 1a), which is composed of an irreversibly thermosensitive hydrogel with positive charges, into which we introduce engineered cell-derived microsized vesicles (MV). These MV contain known receptors for specific viruses that are overexpressed on the vesicle surface. The resulting “MV@GEL” can be sprayed into the nasal cavity at room temperature and quickly transforms from the liquid state to the gel state at body temperature, which is favorable for prolonging the retention time on the intranasal wall of the nose. The positively charged hydrogel can intercept the negatively charged viral aerosols presenting in airflow, while the receptor on the vesicles can interact with the virus that is released from viral aerosols to MV@GEL, thereafter mediating the entrapment of virus for inactivation…. This concept of an “intranasal mask” could meet the protection requirement against viral aerosols in the daily life of the general population and could provide effective protection for some individuals who cannot conveniently wear face masks, such as patients with asthma. Moreover, aiming at high-risk individuals, such as doctors and nurses, our intranasal mask could also be combined with face masks to further reduce the risk of infection from aerosols containing threatening viruses.” • Interesting!

Finally, a public health authority’s director uses a respirator not a “Baggy Blue”:

Although, “if you’re sick”? How many years or decades will it take for these reactionary dinosaurs to wrap their tiny brains around the idea of asymptomatic transmission?

Vaccines

JN.1 hits the Big Show:

Scientific Communication

“Influenza surging in Alberta, vaccine fatigue to blame: expert” [Calgary City News]. • The headline is misleading. “Vaccine fatigue” isn’t even in the article. Commentary:

Transmission

“Unravelling the effect of New Year’s Eve celebrations on SARS-CoV-2 transmission” [Nature]. Belgium. From the Discussion: “To our knowledge, this study shows the first example in the literature of a strong link between public holiday celebrations and a surge in cases of SARS-CoV-2. Interestingly, simultaneous celebrations in small circles, rather than mass gatherings, appeared as the main driver of the surge. The observed wave of cases consisted largely of first-generation infections directly originating from these social gatherings. Incidence in the targeted student population quickly stabilised thereafter, likely due to a combination of government-mandated contact restrictions, low threshold testing, contact tracing and reduced social interaction due to the students’ approaching January exams. However, in the absence of these limiting factors, such a simultaneous increase in transmissivity could logically accelerate an exponential rise in cases. In fact, nationally reported case numbers and their derived effective reproduction numbers suggest that this may be exactly what happened on a national and even international scale with the spread of the Omicron BA.1 strain. Estimates of the national effective reproduction number suggest a possible “triple whammy” of transmissibility effects around the winter holidays. First, Christmas and New Year celebrations provide two occasions for large scale inter-generational and inter-regional transmission, as friends and family gather with a range of risk factors: enclosed spaces, extended contact, close physical interaction, inter-household contact and strong vocalisation. The resulting cases have relatively little opportunity for onward transmission until schools and many workplaces reopen simultaneously, leading to further transmissions within regions and generations. Further research might confirm the relative contributions of transmission across regions and generations.”

“Simulating the Environmental Spread of SARS-CoV-2 via Cough and the Effect of Personal Mitigations” [Microorganisms]. From the Abstract: “Scientists and engineers at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) laboratory used a human cough simulator that provided a standardised cough challenge using a solution of simulated saliva and a SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus… Viable virus spread up to 2 m from the origin of the cough outwards in a cloud. Recommended interventions, such as putting a hand or elbow in front of the mouth changed the pattern of cough aerosol dispersion. A hand deflected the cough to the side, protecting those in front from exposure, however it did not prevent environmental contamination. It also allowed for viral transfer from the hand to surfaces such as door handles. A balled fist in front of the mouth did not deflect the cough. Putting an elbow in front of the mouth deflected the aerosol cloud to above and below the elbow, but would not have protected any individuals standing in front. However, if the person coughed into a sleeved elbow more of the aerosol seemed to be absorbed. Coughing into a bare elbow still allowed for transfer to the environment if people touched the inside of their elbow soon after coughing. Conclusions: Interventions can change the environmental contamination pattern resulting from a human cough but may not reduce it greatly.” • So, another piece of folk wisdom from the public health establishment disproved. Naturally, I don’t recommend coughing on people. Who wants that? But let’s at least understand what’s going on.

“Something Awful”

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.

* * *

Origins Debate

“American scientists misled Pentagon on research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology” [U.S. Right to Know]. “U.S. Right to Know has obtained [how] an early draft of DEFUSE [A 2018 research proposal called DEFUSE called for synthesizing spike proteins with furin cleavage sites] with comments from “PD” and “BRS.” Emails show these commenters to be “Peter Daszak” and “Baric, Ralph S.”” The project was not approved, but the annotations on the draft look to this bystander to be exceptionally nasty:

The Wuhan Lab, in other words, will use the cheaper BSL-2 facility:

“BSL-2 experiments are more convenient and less expensive than BSL-3 experiments … However, BSL-2 provides a far lower level of biosafety than BSL-3 does. This lower safety level is especially dangerous for experiments involving viruses that can be transmitted by air,” [Justin Kinney, a quantitative biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and co-founder of Biosafety Now] said. “It is very concerning that Daszak and Baric appear to have considered it legitimate to move high-risk experiments from BSL-3 to BSL-2. It is also concerning that they appear to have considered doing so in secret, instead of disclosing this important change of experimental plans and biosafety precautions in their grant proposal.”

Not a good look, at the very least. And projects that aren’t approved can get recycled into projects that are.

Elite Maleficence

Sociopath of the Day Bob Wachter meets with Long Covid Experts:

You’ll never guess what happens next!

Here’s a larger version of Wachter’s post, which is indeed 1/25:

Wachter’s complex algorithm is pure cope. It’s supposedly data-driven, but our data is bad, and most of it lags. Wastewater (sadly, now impossible to cross-check with any other case data) is the best we have, and even it lags by a week; sufficient time for a really nasty variant to get rolling. So IMNSHO the best solution is to decide on your protocol for a layered defense, and follow it rigorously, day and day out. No reason to tweak it. Wachter is simply giving himself an illusion of control that in the end is only a rationalization for what he wants to do anyhow: Dine indoors.

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, December 18:

Lambert here: As a totally “gut feel” tapewatcher, I would expect this peak to meet or exceed the two previous Biden peaks; after all, we haven’t really begun the next bout of holiday travel, or the next rounds of celebrations. Plus students haven’t come from from school, and then returned. So a higher peak seems pretty much “baked in.” And that’s before we get to new variants, like JN.1. The real thing to watch is the slope of the curve. If it starts to go vertical, and if it keeps on doing so, then hold onto your hats. (Next week’s reading, however, is Christmas Day; there may well be a data-driven drop.) Stay safe out there! Only 14 superspreading days until Christmas!

Regional data:

Hard to see why the regional split (and it sure would be nice to have more granular data). Weather forcing Northerners indoors? Seems facile. There’s snow in the Rockies (green color, West), for example.

Variants

NOT UPDATED From CDC, December 9:

Lambert here: JN.1, shown on the NowCast for the first time, coming up fast on the outside, while BA.2.86 fades.

From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: 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, December 9:

Lambert here: Here also we see something of a pause, like the wastewater. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

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. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

Hospitalization

Bellwether New York City, data as of December 18:

Lambert here: I don’t like that little upward spike (you’ve got to look closely at the most recent date). Let’s hope it doesn’t keep happening.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 9:

Moving ahead briskly!

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?

Positivity

From Walgreens, December 18:

-0.3%. Down. (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, December 2:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). 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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, November 27:

Turning upward.

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 27:

BA.2.86 blasting upward. This would be a great early warning system, if the warning were in fact early instead of weeks late, good job, CDC.

Deaths

Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 9:

Stats Watch

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US unexpectedly soared 14.8% month-over-month to an annualized 1.56 million in November of 2023, the highest rate in six months, and well above market forecasts of 1.36 million, benefiting from a fall in mortgage rates and low inventory.”

* * *

Antitrust: “Google to pay $700 million to US states, consumers in app store settlement” [Associated Press]. “Google has agreed to pay $700 million and make several other concessions to settle allegations that it had been stifling competition against its Android app store — the same issue that went to trial in another case that could result in even bigger changes. Although Google struck the deal with state attorneys general in September, the settlement’s terms weren’t revealed until late Monday in documents filed in San Francisco federal court. The disclosure came a week after a federal court jury rebuked Google for deploying anticompetitive tactics in its Play Store for Android apps. The settlement with the states includes $630 million to compensate U.S. consumers funneled into a payment processing system that state attorneys general alleged drove up the prices for digital transactions within apps downloaded from the Play Store. That store caters to the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones. Like Apple does in its iPhone app store, Google collects commissions ranging from 15% to 30% on in-app purchases — fees that state attorneys general contended drove prices higher than they would have been had there been an open market for payment processing. Those commissions generated billions of dollars in profit annually for Google, according to evidence presented in the recent trial focused on its Play Store.” • Good. Let’s hope damages at the Federal level are more significant.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 19 at 1:57:16 PM ET. Holy cow! Extreme Greed! Why?

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Satanism. “The people refind [sic] statues to Satan are mostly atheists, but they are grow in number” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • WTF.

News of the Wired

“Ministry of Justice plan to destroy historical wills is ‘insane’, say experts” [Guardian]. “‘Sheer vandalism’ and ‘insane’. This is how leading historians on Monday described government plans to destroy millions of historical wills to save on storage costs. The Ministry of Justice is consulting on digitising and then throwing away about 100m paper originals of the last wills and testaments of British people dating back more than 150 years in an effort to save £4.5m a year. But Tom Holland, the classical and medieval historian and co-host of The Rest is History podcast, said the proposal to empty shelves at the Birmingham archive was ‘obviously insane’. Sir Richard Evans, historian of modern Germany and modern Europe, said ‘to destroy the original documents is just sheer vandalism in the name of bureaucratic efficiency’. Ministers believe digitisation will speed up access to the papers, but the proposal has provoked a backlash among historians and archivists who took to X to decry it as ‘bananas’ and ‘a seriously bad idea’…. Wills are considered essential documents, particularly for social historians and genealogists, as they capture what people considered important at the time and reveal unknown family links.” • I’ve known library administrators who actually hated books and tried to get rid of them whenever they could. They remind me of Hospital Infection Control administrators.

“He felt ‘creatively dead.’ Then he harnessed the power of boredom” [NPR]. “A thing that I learned was how much boredom was like an essential part of creativity. Maybe boredom is too strong of a word for it. It’s some kind of idleness to let a kind of alchemical reaction happen in your brain molecules. If they’re constantly occupied by something else, it’s never gonna happen. But if you go on a walk or you go on a drive or something where you’re leaving 80% of your brain unoccupied, that’s when I found new ideas could come out or I could sort of metabolize things that have been stirring in me for a while.”

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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 Desert Dawg:

Desert Dawg writes: “Adventurous Spider Wort plant hovering over a ant hill that they made from little bits of scoria that they have packed about five feet over from the road to make the hill.”

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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