By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I got a late start today. This should be enough to get you going; more soon. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Fiery-necked Nightjar, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. “Calling from bushes in the camp site by the vlei.”
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
Hat tip to Stoller:
“To the American Economic Liberties Project, thank you.” – Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/lVMatKccFy
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) May 6, 2023
I only hope it’s not the kiss of death.
“Most Americans support anti-trans policies favored by GOP, poll shows” [WaPo]. “Clear majorities of Americans support restrictions affecting transgender children, a Washington Post-KFF poll finds, offering political jet fuel for Republicans in statehouses and Congress who are pushing measures restricting curriculum, sports participation and medical care. Most Americans don’t believe it’s even possible to be a gender that differs from that assigned at birth. A 57 percent majority of adults said a person’s gender is determined from the start, with 43 percent saying it can differ… And some Americans have become more conservative on these questions as Republicans have seized the issue and worked to promote new restrictions. The Pew Research Center found 60 percent last year saying one’s gender is determined by the sex assigned at birth, up from 54 percent in 2017.” • “Assigned”? As opposed to recognized or discovered? I’m all for understanding power relations in medical care, as readers surely know, but at some point…. you’re bumping up against the uglies.
“Five takeaways from Florida’s crucial 2023 legislative session” [The Hill]. “Wielding the power of newly minted supermajorities, state Republican lawmakers kicked off their annual session with a clear goal: deliver DeSantis a long list of policy wins that he can tout to GOP voters, both in Florida and nationally. For the most part, they accomplished that mission. Legislators approved multiple DeSantis-backed bills, including a measure allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit, a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and a bill ending the unanimous jury requirement for death penalty recommendations.”
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
“For Saner Politics, Try Stronger Parties” [Wall Street Journal]. “Today, the movement to weaken the national party structures that began in 1968 has reached its logical result: The power of the two national party organizations has declined so dramatically that they sometimes appear to be bystanders to a political system in which they were once.” • Any Democrat who experienced either 2016 or 2020 knows that’s just not so.
“Berkeley professor apologizes for false Indigenous identity” [Associated Press]. • False? The professor “identified as.” Don’t we have to take them at their word?
“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).
Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!
Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); 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: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Look for the Helpers
In reaction to MGH eliminating masking:
Available for download here. Marketing mavens, what do you think of this collateral?
Covid Is Airborne
“Book Review: Healthy Buildings” [Construction Physics (Carolinian)]. “The basic argument of Healthy Buildings is simple. Modern society has created a large number of rules to protect the environment, both because we think the environment is valuable in itself, but also because we realize that a dirty, polluted environment can negatively impact people’s health. Clean air regulations such as the Clean Air Act, for instance, were created largely as public health measures…. But people spend nearly all their time indoors. Americans spend 90% or more of their time indoors… Allen and Macomber go through a variety of ways that indoor spaces can negatively impact health. The largest, most important one is ventilation and air quality. Current ventilation standards (such as ASHRAE 62.1 and 62.2), consider occupant health (along with comfort), and are designed to minimize pollutant concentrations, but they (according to Allen and Macomber) don’t go far enough. They also don’t include considerations for things like minimizing airborne pathogens. And standards such as 62.1 and 62.2 are design standards – they stipulate what ventilation performance should be achieved at the time of construction, but there’s little in the way to ensure that this is achieved during actual operation. In practice, buildings often have ventilation rates and measures of air quality that are substantially below design requirements.” • Good work, even if co-author Joseph Allen went completely round the twist, as an anti-masker.
“Empathising with masked targets: limited side effects of face masks on empathy for dynamic, context-rich stimuli.” [Cognition and Emotion (square coats)]. “Recent research suggests that face masks undermine observers’ ability to correctly identify emotions in faces that are partially covered by a face mask. Nearly all these studies used still images of target faces. However, such images represent a rather decontextualised way of perceiving affective responses and preclude the investigation of emotional (as compared to cognitive) components of empathy. In our study, we examined whether face mask effects would hold once the presentation mode was changed to observing film clips of people talking about autobiographical events, and whether such effects would extend to emotional components of empathy (i.e. emotional congruence and sympathy). Our findings indicate that under these more ecologically valid conditions, face masks do not have an effect on empathic accuracy and emotional congruence. Face masks also did not shift empathic motives related to affiliation and cognitive effort. Covering the face by either a mask or by a black bar did, however, reduce feelings of sympathy for the target persons.” • Hmm.
“Direct SARS-CoV-2 infection of the human inner ear may underlie COVID-19-associated audiovestibular dysfunction” [Nature]. “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A growing number of sensory symptoms have been linked to this illness. Here, we describe patients with COVID-19 and new-onset of hearing loss, tinnitus and/or dizziness. To examine the underlying molecular mechanisms of these symptoms, we studied human and mouse inner ear tissue. We also generated some of the first human cellular models of infectious inner ear disease. We show that human and mouse inner ear cells have the molecular machinery to allow SARS-CoV-2 entry. We further show that SARS-CoV-2 can infect specific human inner ear cell types. Our findings suggest that inner ear infection may underlie COVID-19-associated problems with hearing and balance.” • And speaking of hearing:
I had this at Brighton Eye hospital from a receptionist wearing a mask as a chin strap.
She told me to take my mask off because ‘she couldn’t hear me’ so I simply shouted my name instead. 🤷🏻♂️
— les paul junior 🍔🍺🎸🚍🐕 (@lespauljunior3) May 9, 2023
Readers will recall that communications difficulties for the hard of hearing were one of the excuses MGH’s Erica Shenoy gave for dropping universal masking.
Brain damage anecdotes:
I’ve spent the last month & a half running unmoderated testing and watching the 40+ recordings. Consistent patterns: losing train of thought during task, stopping because they’re coughing or someone else is at home, missing key words while reading prompts out loud. https://t.co/XlvKMMLlJ2
— no pos wow (@Firstofallputa) May 8, 2023
“We Want Them Infected” [bioethics today]. “During a raging pandemic with a brand-new virus, influential doctors from prominent universities advocated for the mass infection of unvaccinated youth in the failed hopes of achieving herd immunity. In an effort to unpack this physician-led misinformation disaster, I recently published a book titled ‘We Want Them Infected.‘ I catalog how vocal physicians from prominent universities embraced the anti-vaccine movement in the failed quest for herd immunity and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID. The book title’s four words, we want them infected, come not from some random crackpot, but from Dr. Paul Alexander, an epidemiologist and official in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration. On July 4, 2020, before anyone had been vaccinated, he said: “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle-aged with no conditions, etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd [immunity]…we want them infected….” Dr. Alexander avoided euphemisms and spoke in plain language. His stated plan was to use unvaccinated young people as human shields to open everything up and ‘protect the vulnerable’ via ‘natural immunity.’” • IIRC, Fauci was for “herd immunity” too — and kept moving the goalposts for the percent of the population that needed to be infected to achieve it.
On that noxious and offensive “living in fear” trope:
“Living in fear” really ought to be classified as “fighting words.” I’m so sick of it (not literally, fortunately).
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).
From BioBot wastewater data from May 8:
Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Indeed, a slight uptick. Still on the high plateau.
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.
NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 6, 2023. Here we go again:
Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.
Covid Emergency Room Visits
NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 29:
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. 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.
Lambert here: Walgreens is back up (hat tip, alert reader ChrisRUEcon). Hoorary! (I assume this also means you can still get test kits at Walgreens. It looks like you can order free test kits until May 11. What happens after that is not clear to me. Readers? (I would also be very happy if the site continued live after May 11.)
Lambert here: 4%. That’s a lot. Though I don’t know how whether they reported, or are interpolating, the data from April 11, the last day I recorded, until today.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.
Total: 1,162,471 –
1,162,403 = 68 (68 * 365 = 24,820 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).
Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 9:
Lambert here: I don’t like sudden drops to zero much. The same thing also happened with the death rate data after WHO took over the feed.
Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )
• These two mortality sites seem to be telling very different stories, both from each other and from the Economist’s chart above. I’m not a mortality maven. Can readers clarify?
Mortality Watch (fjallstrom):
US Mortality (aleric):
Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States fell to 89 in April of 2023, the lowest since January of 2013, from 90.1 in March, and compared to forecasts of 89.6. Labor quality was the top business problem as more owners struggle with finding qualified workers for their open positions.” • I wonder why? ‘Tis a mystery!
Business Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index dropped 5.8 points to 41.6 in May 2023, the lowest level since November and significantly below market expectations of 48.2. The latest reading was also lower than April’s 16-month high of 47.4 and has been pessimistic for the past 21 months.”
Tech: “Introducing Total Crap, The First Magazine Written Entirely by AI” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “In many ways, fear of automated writing is similar to fear of automatic elevators without operators. At first, passengers were afraid to ride in automatic elevators because they were accustomed to the presence of human operators. In time, they realized that it was safer to use the automatic versions. Similarly, many people are now afraid that automated writing is prone to errors, incapable of originality, or destined to relegate millions of skilled workers to lives of uselessness and destitution. In fact, automated writing is safer than the manual version.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 9 at 1:12 PM ET.
Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil prices are back down” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! I wonder where that’s coming from?
Our Famously Free Press
“Biden calls for ‘fair deal’ for writers as strike continues” [CNN]. • A fair deal is what the workers want. How about that?
Everything’s going according to plan:
I’m just screen capping this tweet by Bloomberg, as I don’t want to help amplify this insanity. But THEY ARE SAYING THE QUIET PART OUT LOUD. It’s good for big business if you start working as a child and die at the end of your ‘productive’ life, before you can retire. /contd/ pic.twitter.com/mHS4IhSeV1
— Caught in a Perfect Storm of Clusterfuckery (@Michael59503746) May 9, 2023
When my plumber came to the door and saw me in a mask, he ran to his truck to don his n95. When I wore my n95 to the eye doctor today, neither the assistant nor the doctor wore masks. Why wouldn’t they have the same courtesy as my plumber, being as they are MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS?
— I Brake 4 Ants (@ibrake4ants) May 8, 2023
Deploying social capital:
Making a bad argument with confidence can be a show of strength.
It says: You don’t acknowledge an interlocutor, you have the institutions behind you, you’ll fight dirty if confronted, you can’t and won’t be reasoned with, you have power.
— Coddled affluent professional (@feelsdesperate) May 9, 2023
News of the Wired
“Dose-response relationships of LSD-induced subjective experiences in humans” [Nature]. “The considerable variability observed in most factors and scales points to the role of non-pharmacological factors in shaping subjective experiences.” • No sh*t, Sherlock!
Seeing clearly for the first time:
Little boy seeing his mother clearly for the first time.. 🥲
🎥 TT: magenluster pic.twitter.com/Dd5cH2OGdA
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 8, 2023
Of course, seeing clearly for the first time isn’t always wonderful. But this is wonderful.
This is a real shame:
It is with the most profound sadness that I announce the passing away of my husband, @DavidMirandaRio. He would have turned 38 tomorrow.
His death, early this morning, came after a 9-month battle in ICU. He died in full peace, surrounded by our children and family and friends. pic.twitter.com/wtRvGyJyGl
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 9, 2023
We can never know what a marriage is like from the outside. That said, apparently Miranda brought a lot of joy into Greenwald’s life (whose life, I would speculate, was not markedly joyful before he met and married Miranda in Brazil). My sympathies to Greenwald and his family. What a terrible event, especially with Miranda so young, and with so many good years ahead of him. Readers on the Twitter may wish to go and say kind things.
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FM writes: “Pretty purple creepers in Portland, Oregon. I saw this scene on my way to the dentist.”
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