By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
American Robin, Burton Drive Hideaway, King, Washington, United States. “American Robins upset by 2 Barred Owls in a tree, called for at least 15 minutes. Owl calls at 0:33 and 1:38. Occasional other birds include Pacific-slope Flycatcher.” Drama!
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“15 budget asks that are actually Biden’s reelection pitch” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden’s new fiscal wishlist outlines a policy blueprint for Democrats gunning to keep the White House in 2024, with a heavy emphasis on celebrating the legislative wins notched during his first two years in office. Rolling out the plan in Philadelphia on Thursday to the chanting of ‘four more years,’ Biden sold his budget as a way to both bolster the economy and the lives of regular Americans, looking to reinforce his image as an ally of working families. While Biden hasn’t announced that he’s running again yet, his budget proposal stakes out what might as well be campaign positions on how to counter Chinese aggression, save Medicare from insolvency, tackle tax loopholes for the wealthy and more.” Importantly: “Notably, Biden didn’t ask for significant new Covid funding, a reminder of the administration’s plan to wind down its emergency pandemic response in the coming months amid congressional Republican resistance to providing more money.” • Because heaven knows Covid doesn’t affect “working families.”
“Marianne Williamson: ‘Anything Is Possible’” (interview) [The Nation]. Throwing down the gauntlet:
Your background is different from the typical presidential candidate. You’ve run for office before, but you’ve gained notoriety as someone who helps people explore their experiences, often from a spiritual perspective. Do you see that as a challenge or an advantage?
[WILLIAMSON]: It is key to my strength here and I’ll tell you why: I have dealt in my 40-year career with helping people both endure crises, and transform them. That is exactly what this country needs now: someone who can help us both endure and transform the trauma of these times. The chaos is external, but the trauma created by the chaos is internal. Secondly, because of my experience with all kinds of personality types and all kinds of people, . A sociopath is someone who simply doesn’t care.… It is because of that that I recognize as deeply as I do that an economic system—namely —has at its root a deep spiritual darkness. It does not care. It . They recognize the disease to some extent, and they try to help people survive it. But they refuse to challenge the underlying corporate forces that make the return of all that pain and all that trauma inevitable.
Asking for my vote….
“Bernie Sanders says Marianne Williamson will run a ‘strong campaign’ and raise ‘very important issues’ in 2024” [Business Insider]. “Sanders has said he will support Biden if he seeks re-election, and told Insider on Tuesday that he doesn’t ‘want to speculate’ about Williamson’s chances. But Williamson endorsed Sanders in 2020 after dropping out of the campaign, and he indicated a respect for her that other Democrats haven’t shown. ‘I know Marianne,’ said Sanders. ‘I’m sure she’s going to run a strong campaign and raise very important issues.’ Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, by contrast, was firm in her support for Biden when asked about Williamson’s campaign. ‘I think that President Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee, and he’s going to be re-elected,’ said Warren, saying she supported Biden because he’s ‘accomplished a tremendous amount in the last two years, and he’s got real momentum to keep on delivering for the American people.’ Williamson announced her campaign to a packed room at Union Station in Washington, DC on Saturday, drawing applause from the crowd for her critiques about a ‘sociopathic economic system.’”
Unsurprisingly, The View hates Williamson:
Who is more serious about illness: the candidate who calls for universal healthcare, or a president willing to tolerate 68,000 Americans dying from lack of healthcare each year and saying he would veto Medicare4All if it came to his desk?
I know where I was during the AIDS… https://t.co/5e9to91i5w
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 9, 2023
“Manhattan prosecutors signal charges likely for Trump in Stormy Daniels case – NYT” [Reuters]. “Manhattan prosecutors have signaled to former President Donald Trump that he could face criminal charges relating to his alleged role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing four unnamed sources. The former president was told he could appear before a Manhattan grand jury next week if he wished to testify, the newspaper said. It said such invitations almost always mean an indictment is close.” • I hope Trump runs from jail. He’d win. And what a spectacle along the way!
“Virginia Governor Stumbles As Trans Student Confronts Him On Live TV” [HuffPo]. “The student, who goes by Niko, noted they’re a transgender man and pressed Youngkin on his anti-trans policies, including proposals that would limit trans students’ participation in athletics and usage of bathrooms. ‘Do you think the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?’ asked Niko. Without answering yes or no, Youngkin swerved into touting his belief in strong parent-child relationships. ‘I believe first, when parents are engaged with their children, you can make good decisions together,’ he said. ‘I also think there are lots of students involved in this decision.’ He went on to call for , including gender-neutral facilities ‘so people can use the bathroom that they, in fact, are comfortable with.’ He claimed his policy on sports is clear and noncontroversial, and supports progress made for ‘women in sports.’” • Calling for plumbing infrastructure isn’t exactly throwing red meat….
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
“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison
Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).
• Readers, thanks for the push. We are now up to 38/50 states (76%). Could those of you in states not listed help out by either with dashboard/wastewater links, or ruling your state out definitively? Thank you! (I think I have caught up with everybody I missed.)
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (
wastewater); WY ( wastewater).
Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, Joe, John, JM (6), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (4), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3). (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)
• More like this, please! Total:
1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27 28 38/50 (76% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!
Look for the Helpers
I’m filing the story of the Cochrane implosion here because I think a lot of exceptional helpers brought issues to Cochrane’s attention, and they decided preserving their brand was a good idea:
“Statement on ‘Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses’ review” [Karla Soares-Weiser, Cochrane Institute]. Soares-Weiser is Editor-in-Chief of the Cochrane Library.
Many commentators have claimed that a recently-updated Cochrane Review shows that ‘masks don’t work’, which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.
Soares-Weiser gracefully omits saying that one such “commentator” was the Lead Author of the ***cough*** Review ***cough***, who gave an interview saying that, in so many words.
It would be accurate to say that the review examined whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses, and that the results were inconclusive. Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask-wearing itself reduces people’s risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses…..
While scientific evidence is never immune to misinterpretation, we take responsibility for not making the wording clearer from the outset. We are engaging with the review authors with the aim of updating the Plain Language Summary and abstract to make clear that the review looked at whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.
Again, it’s the review’s authors — and their funders and allies at the Brownstone Institute — who are going round making this “interpretation.” They not only need to revise the papers, they need to stuff the authors back in their boxes, and get them off any other reviews they’ve got going (along with anyone else their funders fund). This “Statement” is extremely weak tea. (For example, in my own piece on “Physical Intervention, “New, Buzzy Cochrane Study Sets the ‘Fools Gold’ Standard for Anti-Maskers“, and gosh, was I right [does happy dance], I show that the Review had an unlisted and uncredited author, Carl Heneghan, also — and I know this will surprise you — from the Brownstone Institute, against Cochrane Library standards. That calls for a revision. Will Soares-Weiser make it? Or will she try to sweep Brownstone Institute’s involvement under the rug?
“Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work” [Zeynep Tufecki, New York Times]. This is weird:
Soares-Weiser also said, though, that one of the lead authors of the review even more seriously misinterpreted its finding on masks by saying in an interview that it proved “there is just no evidence that they make any difference.” In fact, Soares-Weiser said, “that statement is not an accurate representation of what the review found.”
Where did Soares-Weiser say this? Not in the Statement above. To Tufecki? If so, shouldn’t it be in the study? (Meanwhile, Tufecki, like Soares-Weiser, carefullly erases the institutional backing of both lead author Jefferson and unlisted, uncredited author Carl Heneghan. Why? Surely that’s part of the story?
“Top World Health Organisation COVID-19 Advisor Bankrolled by Great Barrington Declaration Successor Organization” [Byline Times]. “A top World Health Organization (WHO) advisor and grant recipient researching COVID-19 transmission and respiratory viruses is on the payroll of a successor organisation to the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD)…. The advisor, who plays a key role in helping set the agenda for the WHO’s funding of external scientific research on COVID-19 while also being a beneficiary of WHO funding is Dr , a British epidemiologist who works with the Cochrane Collaboration. He is currently receiving WHO funding to provide an updated Cochrane review of physical interventions to interrupt the spread of respiratory viruses, as well as to participate in a systematic review of COVID-19 transmission by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University run by Professor . He is also a member of the WHO Infection Prevention and Control Research and Development Expert Group for COVID-19 (IPCRDEG-C19), which advises the WHO on how it should commission external research.” • Ka-ching. Does make you wonder if these guys had anything to do with WHO’s horrid positions on airborne transmission and masks.
Hey, nice timing:
“All randomized trials conducted to date have consistently shown that masks are ineffective in reducing viral transmission…the best available evidence does not support even the recommendation of wearing masks, let alone making them compulsory.”https://t.co/Kq8pw1z0Ti
— Michael P Senger (@MichaelPSenger) March 9, 2023
Senger, a prolific tweeter, is a “contributor” at the Brownstone Institute, according to his bio. Will he double down or back off? I’m guessing he’ll double down.
* * *
Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:
Thought I’d add this here in case anyone is interested. Places to find people who “Still Covid” in your area & online: https://t.co/T4ND4XbrpF & https://t.co/sP5wq4fAw5 You can also search on FB “Still Coviding ____” & see if there’s a specific group on your area.
— Adriel Rose (@adriel_rose) March 1, 2023
“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.
Readers, if you spot any “Let me see your smile!” demands in the wild, or if you experience them yourself, would you leave them in comments? I’m mulling a post. Thank you. Here’s a beaut:
1/ SMILES ARE BACK BABY!
North Metro Health Service in Perth, Australia, is removing masks from clinical areas. Let’s deconstruct this illiterate, nonsensical jumble of flummery in a short(ish) thread, shall we? pic.twitter.com/UE2dmqEpWY
— Dr David Berger, aBsuRdiSTe cROnickLeR (@YouAreLobbyLud) March 10, 2023
Science Is Popping
“Long COVID Now Looks like a Neurological Disease, Helping Doctors to Focus Treatments” [Scientific American]. “The most common, persistent and disabling symptoms of long COVID are neurological. Some are easily recognized as brain- or nerve-related: many people experience cognitive dysfunction in the form of difficulty with memory, attention, sleep and mood. Others may seem rooted more in the body than the brain, such as pain and postexertional malaise (PEM), a kind of “energy crash” that people experience after even mild exercise. But those, too, result from nerve dysfunction, often in the autonomic nervous system, which directs our bodies to breathe and digest food and generally runs our organs on autopilot. This so-called dysautonomia can lead to dizziness, a racing heart, high or low blood pressure, and gut disturbances, sometimes leaving people unable to work or even function independently. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is new, but postviral syndromes are not. Research on other viruses, and on neurological damage from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in particular, is guiding work on long COVID. And the recognition that the syndrome may cause its many effects through the brain and the nervous system is beginning to shape approaches to medical treatment. “I now think of COVID as a neurological disease as much as I think of it as a pulmonary disease, and that’s definitely true in long COVID,” says William Pittman, a physician at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, who treats Ghormley and many similar patients.” • Vascular, neurological…. It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!
“SARS-CoV-2 causes periodontal fibrosis by deregulating mitochondrial β-oxidation” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. “Previous studies have shown that the human oral cavity can potentially act as reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 can cause severe oral mucosa lesions and is likely to be connected with poor periodontal conditions. However, the consequence of SARS-CoV-2 viral infection on human oral health has not been systematically examined. In this research, we aimed to study the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 viral components on human periodontal tissues and cells. We found that by exposing to SARS-CoV-2, especially to the viral envelope and membrane proteins, the human periodontal fibroblasts could develop fibrotic pathogenic phenotypes, including hyperproliferation that was concomitant induced together with increased apoptosis and senescence. The fibrotic degeneration was mediated by a down-regulation of mitochondrial β-oxidation in the fibroblasts.” • Readers, anybody know of any examples of dental issues after Covid? I can’t find much–
“Taking a bite out of COVID: Japan study shows good dental care decreases infection rate” [The Mainichi]. “To investigate the causal relationship between COVID-19 cases and oral care, [Yamanashi] prefecture conducted free dental checkups from April 20 to June 20, 2022. It received reports from approximately 400 dental clinics in the prefecture including the names and ages of all patients aged 18 and older, for a total of 10,273 people. The number of coronavirus cases among all residents during the reporting period (June 26-Sept. 25, 2022) was 60,970 — an infection rate of 7.5%, while the number of infected people among those examined in the free checkups was 534 — an infection rate of 5.2%. In addition, the prefecture conducted a similar dental checkup program in the summer and fall of 2020, and the infection rate among those who received both this and the 2022 checkup (1,487 people in total) was even lower, at 4.5%.” • Free dental checkups, lol. On what planet?
“The Fauci Phenomenon” [NEJM]. • Filed under “Perspective.” I’ll say. I still find Fauci’s “noble lies” on masking unforgivable. And if noble lies are his modus operandi, it calls everything else he’s said or done into question (and the lying, and the perception of lying, has contributed greatly to the decline of public health as a discipline, and thence to the public’s health).
Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!
BioBot wastewater data from March 9:
For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from March 4:
NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 10:
-3.0%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,148,391 – 1,148,090 –
1,147,217 = 301 (301 * 365 = 109,865 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).
★ NEW ★ Excess Deaths
NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published February 26:
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learnning model. Again, we see a high plateau. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.
Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The unemployment rate in the US edged up to 3.6 percent in February 2023, up from a 50-year low of 3.4 percent seen in January and above market expectations of 3.4 percent.”
“The AI hype bubble is the new crypto hype bubble” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. Ya think? “Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest. But the people who gave him money – and the nimbler Ponzi artists who evaded arrest – are looking for new scams to separate the marks from their money. Take Morganstanley, who spent 2021 and 2022 hyping cryptocurrency as a massive growth opportunity: Today, Morganstanley wants you to know that AI is a $6 trillion opportunity. They’re not alone. The CEOs of Endeavor, Buzzfeed, Microsoft, Spotify, Youtube, Snap, Sports Illustrated, and CAA are all out there, pumping up the AI bubble with every hour that god sends, declaring that the future is AI. Google and Bing are locked in an arms-race to see whose search engine can attain the speediest, most profound enshittification via chatbot, replacing links to web-pages with florid paragraphs composed by fully automated, supremely confident liars. Blockchain was a solution in search of a problem. So is AI. Yes, Buzzfeed will be able to reduce its wage-bill by automating its personality quiz vertical, and Spotify’s “AI DJ” will produce slightly less terrible playlists (at least, to the extent that Spotify doesn’t put its thumb on the scales by inserting tracks into the playlists whose only fitness factor is that someone paid to boost them). But even if you add all of this up, double it, square it, and add a billion dollar confidence interval, it still doesn’t add up to what Bank Of America analysts called ‘a defining moment — like the internet in the ’90s.’ For one thing, the most exciting part of the ‘internet in the ’90s was that it had incredibly low barriers to entry and wasn’t dominated by large companies – indeed, it had them running scared. The AI bubble, by contrast, is being inflated by massive incumbents, whose excitement boils down to ‘This will let the biggest companies get much, much bigger and the rest of you can go fuck yourselves.’ Some revolution.” • AI = BS. Kill it with fire.
The Bezzle: “New York AG goes after the Ethereum blockchain” [Axios]. “A lawsuit against a cryptocurrency exchange by New York State looks a lot more like a referendum on the world’s second biggest blockchain, Ethereum. Ether has a nearly $200 million market capitalization and something like 400,000 daily users. Its popularity was partly driven by the fact that entrepreneurs had become convinced that the coin had become exempt from securities regulations…. The complaint takes pains to argue that ether (ETH) is a security under existing law. It describes the initial coin offering that funded the development of Ethereum. Then it draws attention to the network’s transition to a new consensus mechanism as evidence that a small group retains control over it. ‘The developers of ETH promoted it as an investment that was contingent on the growth of the Ethereum network,’ the complaint notes. Independent operators that verify the validity of transactions on the blockchain are paid automatically in new ethers issued by the network, securing its ledger against manipulation…. The AG is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains from New Yorkers, injunctive relief and other remedies.’” • Good, though a bit late.
The Bezzle: “New York Attorney General Alleges Ether Is a Security in KuCoin Lawsuit” [CoinDesk]. “James’ suit argues that ether is considered a security under the Martin Act – a 102-year-old New York anti-fraud law that gives the Attorney General powers to investigate securities fraud and bring both civil and criminal actions against violators – because the value of ether is dependent on the efforts of others, including co-founder Vitalik Buterin. According to the lawsuit, the NYAG’s office believes ETH, the luna (LUNA) token and terraUSD (UST) stablecoin, all traded on the exchange, are securities. The price of ETH was down 8% 30 minutes after the suit was revealed, with the broader crypto market similarly plunging…. James also argued that KuCoin sells unregistered securities via KuCoin Earn, its lending and staking product.”
The Bezzle: “Stay Calm, It’s Just a Bank Run” [The Heisenberg Report]. “That was Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker’s exhortation to VCs during a call on Thursday, when the lender’s shares plummeted some 60% amid what looked like the beginnings of an old fashioned bank run. Peter Thiel and other high-profile VCs had suggested their portfolio companies pull money from the bank out of an abundance of caution after a “mid-quarter update” found SVB announcing the sale of its AFS book and unveiling a $2.25 billion capital raise, most of which is common stock ($1.25 billion and then $500 million in restricted common to General Atlantic in a private placement). Admittedly, this situation spiraled faster than I’d anticipated, but… well, what can I say? That’s bank runs for you… In any event, this is a problem — I don’t see any use sugarcoating it. Bank shares as a group suffered an anomalous drop Thursday. Were it not for the volatility around the pandemic, it would’ve counted as one of the worst collective sessions since the financial crisis.”
The Bezzle: “Silicon Valley Bank Collapses Following Run on Deposits” [Wall Street Journal]. “Silicon Valley Bank collapsed Friday in the second-biggest bank failure in U.S. history after a run on deposits doomed the tech-focused lender’s plans to raise fresh capital. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it has taken control of the bank via a new entity it created called the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara. All of the bank’s deposits have been transferred to the new bank, the regulator said. Insured depositors will have access to their funds by Monday morning, the FDIC said. Depositors with funds exceeding insurance caps will get receivership certificates for their uninsured balances. Once a darling of the banking business, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed at warp speed after it announced a big loss on its bondholdings and plans to shore up its balance sheet, tanking its stock and sparking widespread customer withdrawals. The bank is the 16th largest in the U.S., with some $209 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, according to the Federal Reserve. It is by far the biggest bank to fail since the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, second only to the crisis-era shutdown of Washington Mutual Inc. The bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group, was racing to find a buyer after scrapping a planned $2.25 billion share sale Friday morning. Regulators weren’t willing to wait. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed the bank Friday within hours and put it under the control of the FDIC. SVB, based in Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this week surprised investors by announcing that it lost nearly $2 billion selling assets following a larger-than-expected decline in deposits. The stock has lost more than 80% since then, and tech clients rushed to pull their deposits over concerns about the bank’s health.”
The Bezzle: “Why SVB’s Bad News Clobbered Bank Stocks Like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo” [Barron’s]. “Wells Fargo analyst Mike Mayon, for one, says that the issue isn’t one of deposits but the diversity of deposits. SVB’s customers were primarily venture-capital firms, and venture capital has been under pressure recently, forcing companies to draw down their deposits as they burn through cash. That’s likely not the case for bigger banks with more diversified sources of funding. ‘To us, the larger the bank, the more diversified the funding,’ Mayo writes. ‘To us, this is part of the test that the largest banks, i.e., the ones that caused the Global Financial Crisis, are today the more resilient portion of both the banking and financial systems.’” • VCers losing a lot of their stupid money is bad why?
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 10 at 2:06 PM ET. A pretty quick flip. A bank run will do that.
ObamaCare is going great:
So in a four year period, over 20% of the population is uninsured at some point. As you can see, new uninsurance spells are very common in January of each year.
— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) March 9, 2023
Our Famously Free Press
“New York Times Spokesperson Came to Paper from National Security Agency” [New York Times]. “Charlie Stadtlander, Director of external communications for the New York Times, joined the paper directly from the National Security Agency, where he served as head of public affairs.,… All of this raises obvious questions. Is being the spokesperson for the nation’s most prestigious newspaper a completely different job from being the spokesperson for the NSA? Or are they pretty much the same job? Most importantly, are the perspectives of the two institutions fundamentally different — or are they, in more ways than you might imagine, fundamentally the same?” • Rhetorical questions, right?
Direct action brings satisfaction:
What if, and just hear me out, they found a way to stop NS trains from coming through their town until the company fully paid for their medical bills and covered all expenses the company caused? It’s almost like direct action is the only thing corps listen to. https://t.co/0iRulySslA
— Sean McCaffery #StopCopCity (@seanmc_eth) March 9, 2023
See, e.g.: “Kentucky miners are blocking a coal train asking for back pay. They claim they haven’t been paid for nearly a month.” Phone the press. Bring the pets, babies, and grandma in a wheelchair, and park them on the tracks. Make sure the train crew knows. Given Precision Scheduled Railroading, I’m sure there’s not a lot of slack in the Norfolk Southern system, so it would be hard to route around any blockage.
News of the Wired
“Allegations of Scientific Misconduct Mount as Physicist Makes His Biggest Claim Yet” [Physics]. “If Ranga Dias of the University of Rochester, New York, and his team have observed room-temperature (294 K), near-ambient pressure superconductivity , their discovery could rank among the greatest scientific advances of the 21st century (see Research News: Muted Response to New Claim of a Room-Temperature Superconductor). Such a breakthrough would mark a significant step toward a future where room-temperature superconductors transform the power grid, computer processors, and diagnostic tools in medicine. But for the past three years, the Rochester team—and Dias in particular—has been shrouded in allegations of scientific misconduct after other researchers raised questions about their 2020 claim of room-temperature superconductivity . In September, the Nature paper reporting that result was retracted, as documented in Science and For Better Science. Further misconduct allegations against Dias have recently emerged, with researchers alleging that Dias plagiarized substantial portions of someone else’s doctoral thesis when writing his own and that he misrepresented his thesis data in a 2021 paper in Physical Review Letters (PRL) . Jessica Thomas, Executive Editor of the Physical Review journals, confirmed that PRL has launched an investigation into that accusation. ‘This is a pretty serious allegation,’ she says. ‘We are not taking it lightly.’ To understand those allegations, Physics Magazine independently examined Dias’ thesis and spoke with more than a dozen experts in high-temperature superconductivity, including Dias. Although opinions differ, an overwhelming majority agree that some form of misconduct has likely occurred. Dias denies the accusations. ‘I really do see all this as a scientific debate,’ he says. ‘So even though these are meaningless, baseless claims, I really do think that these are adding to advancing the science.’ He insists that the data for both of his room-temperature-superconductivity claims are robust and valid.” • Hmm. Above my paygrade. Physics mavens in the readershIp?
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 GD:
GD writes: “Aloe plant with flower. Found on a walk in Los Angeles.” Walking in Los Angeles? I’m surprised you weren’t arrested!
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:
Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:
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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