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Patient readers, I apologize for some formatting and content oddities in yesterday’s post. We were in the midst of our intermittent 521 error crisis, now fortunately solved by our God-like tech dude, Dave. –lambert
By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Common Loon, Kitimat-Stikine, British Columbia, Canada. “2 loons that I paddled right by. They were just swimming around in the middle of the lake. No sign of a nest, but I didn’t look. After I passed they started calling.” Wow!
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Congress Stock-Trade Tracking Funds NANC and KRUZ Are On Way” [Bloomberg]. “A pair of exchange-traded funds that would mirror the personal portfolios of members of Congress may be coming soon. The Unusual Whales Subversive Democratic Trading ETF (ticker NANC) and the Unusual Whales Subversive Republican Trading ETF (KRUZ) would analyze the financial disclosure of lawmakers from both parties and their spouses and dependent children to construct a portfolio of between 500 and 600 holdings, according to a regulatory filing Thursday. When a position is reported as sold, the ETFs will offload the security as well. …. While it’s unclear if packaging lawmakers’ portfolios into an ETF will generate returns, it will almost certainly produce buzz, said Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst James Seyffart.” • Well, the ETFs ought to produce returns. The Congress Critters think their trades will, after all, and they are very much in a position to know.
Zero Covid in Hollywood:
The entertainment industry is effectively ZeroCovid for productions
And thats in spite of massive community transmission
Entire shows get made without a single shut down; Sudeikis mentioned this in his Emmy speech https://t.co/RVntXvbWui
— Thomas Finch, MD, MBA (@FinchTH) September 16, 2022
It can be done, despite all the blinding and stiffing. And:
Not only do they not speak up about it, they hide it. To be in the live studio audience of Big Brother for example, you need to be vaxxed+boosted, test negative and wear a mask the whole time. They *never* show the audience on TV. The masks are intentionally hidden from viewers. https://t.co/nUBED4JDfT
— Dr. Lisa Iannattone (@lisa_iannattone) September 16, 2022
• “Study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80 per cent of kids, youth have had COVID-19” [Globe and Mail]. “Kyenta Martins, who speaks for parent-led group Safe Schools Coalition B.C., said the study validates the worries parents have had about ventilation in schools. ‘A lot of people have been ringing the alarm bell. I am one of many, and I hate that term, but (we’ve been) gas-lit, by [B.C.s Bonnie Henry] and many public officials,” she said.” • Aggregated commentary:
“More kids than adults. She mass infected kids. It’s her study. No words. ‘A study co-authored by British Columbia’s top doctor says at least 70 to 80% of children & youth in Greater Vancouver & the Fraser Valley have been infected with Covid-19.’” [Chris is | Globe and Mail]
“This entire article misses the huge bombshell from the release of that preprint: Dr Henry told the public schools were not a source of transmission, then waived ethics approval for a study on which she was an author to use the serology of BC kids to show schools were a massive source of transmission… with no regard for the risk of long covid from infection.” [Amanda Hu]
“Recap: For 2.5 years, Bonnie Henry (BC PHO) (respirators, ventilation, HEPA filters) and downplayed transmission risk to children and transmission in schools…” + “”Robust hybrid immunity.” They call it priming. Reinfections are rampant. Beware: these are the people advising our government on vaccines for our children. This is not a BC problem, this is Canada’s problem.” [C Pita | Diego Bassani, PhD]
“We now have:
-withholding 3rd doses to run an uncontrolled study on prolonged intervals (also w/o consent)>
-an RCT exposing HCWs to covid w/o N95s”
[Dr. Lisa Iannattone]
• I keep using the word “eugenics.” I don’t think it’s extreme.
• Gag me with a spoon. What “leadership”?
With all the talk today about failures at the start of the pandemic, in particular around failure to recognize airborne transmission, I want to acknowledge @AshishKJha46’s leadership in making enhanced ventilation and filtration a foundation of the WH pandemic response. pic.twitter.com/IkwyVPDyEP
— Joseph Allen (@j_g_allen) September 15, 2022
Damn. What’s that slurping sound? (“With all the talk” is no doubt a reference to the Lancet Commisssion report in Links. I say we should look forward and not back.)
Lambert here: Please note the long-awaited appearance of BA.2.75 onto the stage.
Case count for the United States:
Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~70,000. Today, it’s 69,000 and 69,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 414,000. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.
Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.
Regional case count for four weeks:
The South (minus Texas and Florida):
South Carolina figured out its data problem.
A backward revision with an enormous jump. Should somebody check in with California? What’s going on out there?
Wastewater data (CDC), September 11:
For grins, September 10:
• ”Wastewater COVID-19 Tracking” [MWRA]. “*Biobot will be closing their lab next week for a company retreat. We don’t expect any data updates between 9/18/2022 and 9/25/2022. They expect to catch up to the normal posting schedule by 9/27/2022.*” • One more reason wastewater laboratory testing should be a governmental function, like wastewater itself. If a pathogen were doubling, one week would be a long time. Nice little company that caught a wave, but a company retreat in the midst of a pandemic? Really?
• ”USask team’s dorm monitoring project shows passive COVID-19 sampling effective: paper” (press release) [University of Saskatchewan]. “For the dormitory project, the team used a passive sample collection system that provided round-the-clock monitoring of wastewater, maximizing chances of capturing COVID-19-linked genetic material. The system used 3D-printed cigar-shaped devices, known as torpedo samplers, that were placed inside the wastewater flow, accumulating viral RNA samples over at least 24 hours. Inside these tubes were membranes that attract RNA, with cotton swabs to grab some of the particulates. USask Facilities staff gathered samples five days a week for eight months by accessing the tubes through manholes near the dorms. Researchers used a platform provided by the partner company, LuminUltra, to determine the amount of RNA in the samples to measure the prevalence of COVID-19.”
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 10:
-0.7%. Should be a leading indicator…
NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.
Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 16:
I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 16:
Sea of green!
NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 1:
Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.
Variant data, national (CDC), August 27 (Nowcast off):
Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). Also, first appearance of BA.2.75. So where is it, you ask?
The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.
Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total
|CDC Region||% Total||States in Region|
|Region 2:||0.8%||New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands|
|Region 5:||0.7%||Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin|
|Region 1:||0.7%||Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont|
|Region 3:||0.4%||Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia|
|Region 4:||0.4%||Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee|
|Region 7:||0.3%||lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska|
|Region 6:||0.0%||Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas|
|Region 8:||0.0%||Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming|
|Region 9:||0.0%||Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….|
|Region 10:||0.0%||Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington|
Let’s see if it BA.2.75 doubles.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Lambert here: It is interesting that the deaths per 100,000 curve — with its curious recent flattening — has more or less the same shape as the case curve, suggesting that a “Biden Curve” would have more or less the same shape as the case count curve, as opposed to the straight line I am drawing for the current level.
Total: 1,078,018 –
1,077,477 = 541 (541 * 365 = 197,465, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
There are no official statistics of note today.
Anyway, I think ai-art, just like nfts, is a technology that just amplify all the shit I hate with being an artist in this feudal capitalist dystopia where every promising new tool always end up in the hands of the least imaginative and most exploitative and unscrupulous people.
— Simon Stålenhag (@simonstalenhag) August 17, 2022
(If you’ve never seen Simon Stålenhag’s work, check it out.)
Mr. Market: “The stock-market bears now have the upper hand as S&P 500 drops below 3,900” [MarketWatch]. “The S&P 500 index on Friday broke below a closely watched support level that could augur a deeper slide, chart watchers warned. Technical analysts have identified the 3,900 level as the bottom of an important range of support for the large-cap benchmark.” • So invest in Naked Capitalism. Because you may need us.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 15 at 1:37 PM EDT. Mr. Market having a sad.
Adversity’s Sweet Milk
“Curation, Digitization, Path Dependence, and the Urgency of the History of Philosophy” [Daily Nous]. “Certain contemporary developments, such as pressures on libraries to cull their collections of hard copies and the academy’s increasing reliance on digitized materials, contribute to the worry of forgetting some valuable voices in the history of our discipline.” • Especially (dread word) marginalized voices.
Groves of Academe
“Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care.” [Kansas Reflector]. “A plan to restructure the school and allow the firing of faculty members with only a 30-day notice is expected to be approved this week by the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s higher education. If adopted, the “workforce management plan” would effectively suspend tenure for the fall 2022 semester. A semester doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough time to wreck careers and burn down programs that have taken decades to build. It’s enough time to change an institution that has contributed to the common good in Kansas for more than 150 years to one that is dedicated to … well, we just don’t know yet. There are few details in the draft “workforce management plan” presented to faculty just last Wednesday, no metrics by which to consider the closing of programs or the firing of instructors. There is a lot of hot air about being ‘forward focused and future ready.’ The draft is not a management plan, as observed by one professor at a faculty forum on Friday, but a blueprint to quickly terminate employees — and not just faculty, but classified staff, graduate assistants, anybody the university administration might want gone. The reasons for termination are so broad as to invite abuse, and range from program restructuring to employee conduct deemed disruptive of the work environment.” • “Forward focused and future ready” sounds like something Scotty from Marketing would come up with.
“Middle Earth In The Content Economy” [im1776]. “The Lord of the Rings – the book, not the films – is a work of remarkable depth and complexity. Tolkien’s work is one of those rare accomplishments so overshadowed by its own commercial success that academia has not yet fully appreciated its artistic merit. But as much as I hate to admit it, its success is exactly why you should expect to see Middle Earth turned into a wide variety of endless trash. I didn’t understand this ten years ago. But Christopher Tolkien did; he saw the writing on the wall and it broke his heart.”
“The Screw Tapes” [The Baffler]. Great stuff:
CALL IT CHOPPED AND SCREWED or slowed and throwed—it’s a sound that got its start in the small town of Smithville, Texas, and can now be heard on tracks by Beyoncé, Travis Scott, and the Justin Timberlake/Timberland/Three 6 Mafia collaboration “Chop Me Up,” which against my better judgment I actually listened to for this article. The chopping is the cutting up of distinct elements of a song, which are mixed back into it in a different order—the chorus may loop around, chorus and verse may mix, verses may be cut so abstractly that they become more music than words. Screwing means slowing the song down until it sounds, for those who can remember this, like a tape recorder when the batteries are running down. (Some cite a mythical night listening to tapes slowed in this way as the origin of the screwed sound.) DJs have chopped music since the origin of hip-hop, and more than one has claimed to be the originator of the slowed sound, but chopped and screwed as a genre is indelibly associated with Houston DJ Robert Earl Davis Jr. (1971–2000), popularly known as DJ Screw.
Screw was born in Smithville, Texas, a former railroad town, to a family of modest means. His mother was an R&B and soul fan, and had a side hustle selling eight-track mixes of her favorite songs to friends. Screw showed strong musical inclinations from early on but was uninspired by the piano lessons his mother purchased for him or the drums set up in the living room. Instead, he would spend the evenings listening to faint radio signals from Austin playing the New York hip-hop that was just going national: Run DMC, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, UTFO. Screw was fascinated with scratching, and set to teaching himself, ruining many of his mothers’ records in the process. He was a tinkerer: he taped loose change to the arm of his turntable to keep it from skipping and rigged a jukebox AM/FM tuner into a fader.
Queen Coffin Queue™️ Actually Leads Mourners Into Power Plant Furnace, As New Government’s Energy Policy Revealed To Be Very Dark Indeed pic.twitter.com/mmPSQRRd0Z
— Le Chou News (@LeChouNews) September 16, 2022
Police State Watch
“He Called 911 Because His Car Was Stuck. The Cops Killed Him” [Vice]. • Many, many stories like this. I managed to subscribe to a Google watch on the phrase “police killings.” The 911 shootings come in regularly. I’m amazed anybody calls 911.
“Railroad CEOs Were Paid Over $200 Million As Workers Suffered” [Lever News]. “‘The (companies) maintain that capital investment and risk are the reasons for their profits, not any contributions by labor,’ a recent federal report noted. The contrast between gigantic executive pay packages and worker grievances is the context for a possible nationwide strike that has been long in the making.” • First. capital is, exactly and precisely, a “contribution [of labor power] by labor.” Second, fuck around and find out. Even a short strike would make who makes what contribution clear.
Yes, the workers have a lot of power:
WOW: Rail workers going on strike could slow weapons and equipment deliveries to Ukraine and American troops deployed overseas. It’s not just food and packages traveling on the rails, folks https://t.co/AeLNJCM0JW
— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) September 15, 2022
So give them what they want (which is pretty meagre, all things considered).
News of the Wired
“How an enormous project attempted to map the sky without computers” [Ars Technica]. “This article tells the story of how photography changed astronomy and how hundreds of astronomers formed the first international scientific collaboration to create the Carte du Ciel (literally, “Map of the Sky”), a complete photographic survey of the sky. That collaboration resulted in a century-long struggle to process thousands of photographic plates taken over decades, with the positions of millions of stars measured by hand to make the largest catalog of the night sky. Unfortunately, the Carte du Ciel project came at a time when our ability to collect measurements of the natural world was not matched by our capacity to analyze them. And while the project was in progress, new instruments made it possible to study physical processes in distant celestial objects, tempting scientists away from the survey by offering the chance to create new models to explain the world. For the astronomers working on the Carte du Ciel, no model yet existed that could abstract the positions of millions of stars into a theory of how our galaxy evolved; the researchers instead only had an intuition that photographic techniques could be useful to map the world. They were right, but it took most of a century and the entire careers of many astronomers for their intuition to bear fruit.” • Not all institutions have the patience….
“You Should Read Books” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “If you’re reading this, there are decent odds you have a college degree. You live in a big city, like New York, or somewhere close. You are properly encultured, leaning left. You read the news, maybe even imbibe it. You’re on social media or at least cognizant of the conversation, in all its bile and banality. You have opinions on Joe Biden, the Democratic Congress, British colonialism, or the state of the Ukrainian resistance. You mean well…. What is not fine is the abdication of reading among the leisure classes, the Zoom classes, the professional managers and their ilk who fancy themselves educated enough, who are sure they have mastered the intricacies of existence over the Other, whomever that Other might be. A rigorous reading diet is not two-tenths of the New York Times and Twitter. It is not half of one novel, abandoned in July. It is not a morning newsletter, or two morning newsletters. It is not a hot take on The Little Mermaid, She-Hulk, or The Rings of Power. You’re conversant enough in pop culture rehash. It’s time to do something else. Reading can be hard, or at least it can present the sort of challenge that modern life is supposed to ease or optimize away. Reading is harder than streaming Netflix, watching a movie, listening to music, or playing video games. Hardness, on its own, is not a virtue. It does, however, matter. It matters to be a disciplined adult.” • Our increasingly frivolous PMC.
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 CG:
CG: “A rose of sharon.” Wow!!!!