By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Little Nightjar, Santa Rosa de la Roca, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Night sounds, too.
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!
* * *
“Kaitlan Collins Interviews Former President Donald Trump in CNN’S Republican Presidential Town Hall” (transcript) [CNN]. Took forever to dig this out; the press seems to believe I want to know what they say Trump said, instead of what Trump said. Some snippets:
COLLINS: Do you want Ukraine to win this war?
TRUMP: I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled, so stop killing all these people and breaking down these (inaudible).
COLLINS: What are your — can I just follow-up on that? You said you don’t think in terms of winning or losing.
TRUMP: One of things you have to do is you have to get the — you have to get —
COLLINS: Mr. President, can I just follow-up on that? Because that’s a really important statement that you just made there.
TRUMP: Excuse me, let me just follow up.
COLLINS: Can you say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?
TRUMP: I want everybody to stop dying. They’re dying. Russians and Ukrainians, I want them to stop dying.
And I’ll have that done –I’ll have that done in 24 hours. I’ll have it done. You need the power of the presidency to do it.
Collins seemed to think her question was a real zinger. It wasn’t. Now, given that the United States is not agreement-capable, 24 hours seems a little optimistic. But nobody can say that, not even Trump! More on Ukraine:
COLLINS: Do you believe Putin is a war criminal? He’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of men and women and civilians.
TRUMP: Well, I think this — I think it’s something that it should be discussed now, it should be discussed later. Because right now, we have to get a war — if you say he’s a war criminal, it’s going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to get this thing stop. If he’s going to be a war criminal where people are going to grab him and execute him, he’s going to fight a lot harder than he’s fighting under the other circumstance. That’s something to be discussed at a later day.
COLLINS: Isn’t it important to call it what it is?
TRUMP: Right now, we want to get that war settled. And I’m not talking about the money either, I’m talking about all the lives that are being — the number of people being killed in that war is far greater than you are hearing.
Well, at least we know that Trump is saner than Tony Blinken. Of course, that’s a low bar. Interestingly, a ton of pearl-clutching about the Presidential Records Act, nothing at all on Covid. Here’s an exchange on The Economy:
RIEGER: My question is regarding the economy. Over the past two years, we have seen the prices for everything skyrocket from food to gas to utilities and insurance costs. Many people’s bills are up several hundred dollars a month, including mine. If elected president again, what is the first thing you would do to help bring down the cost to make things more affordable?
TRUMP: Drill, baby, drill.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: We are going to make it happen. Well, we were energy independent. We were soon going to be energy dominant and nobody had ever done what I did.
We got oil down to $1.87. Actually, it fell lower than that in some cases, we had to save the oil companies the price was getting so — we were doing incredibly. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country, probably the greatest economy in the history of the world.
We were energy independent, soon to be energy dominant. We will get to be bigger than Russia and Saudi Arabia put together times two.
We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other nation, any other nation. And these stupid fools ended it and energy went from $1.87 and even lower for gasoline for a car, they went from $1.87 to five, six, seven, eight and even nine dollars.
And your electricity bills went through the roof, your heating bills went through the roof. And that’s what started inflation and it hasn’t stopped because people are paying now for bacon and for eggs two and three times what it was just a little while ago. We created the greatest economy in history.
A big part of that economy was what got you the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country, bigger than the Reagan cuts, bigger than any —
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
TRUMP: And also, Kaitlan, also, as you know, we got the biggest regulation and regulatory cuts.
This place was rocking, and then we were given a gift from China and China paid a big price. And let me tell you something, I took in hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes from China. But prior to COVID coming in, and then I rebuilt the economy again a second time.
But we had prior to COVID coming in from China, from Wuhan, which I said it came from Wuhan. Everybody says, oh, you’re wrong about that. You’re wrong.
It came from Wuhan. I said it right from day one.
So we had the greatest economy in the world. Here is a story. They made energy so high and energy is all invasive. It is massive as an industry and as a cost. It lifted everything.
If you made donuts —
He never did get to finish the donut riff, sadly. Trump seems to be in fine fettle, to me. DeSantis better watch out….
“CNN’s Trump Forum Was a Bracing Preview of Political Coverage to Come” [New York Times]. “Even Mr. Trump looked stumped when Ms. Collins asked, succinctly, “Do you want Ukraine to win this war?” (He would not give a straight answer.)” • Trump absolutely gave a straight answer (as you can see above).
“Shame on CNN for That Naked, Cynical Play for Fox Viewers” [The New Republic]. • It’s almost like the PMC think that CNN is a component of the Democrat Party, instead of being a business. What’s wrong with attracting viewers?
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.
* * *
“Democratic donors hope to recruit NBA legends Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade to run for Senate in Florida” [NBC]. • We can’t deliver, so let’s run a celebrity.
“Manchin attacked EPA’s new rules. They could cost him millions” [Politico]. “The West Virginia Democrat vowed to oppose President Joe Biden’s EPA nominees because the agency’s rules being proposed Thursday could push coal- and gas-fired power plants ‘out of existence,’ he said. The risk to one plant, in particular, could jeapordize a lucrative source of money for Manchin. His family business Enersystems Inc. delivers waste coal to the Grant Town power plant, a financially struggling coal facility near Manchin’s hometown that he has spent much of his political career protecting…. Last year, Manchin earned $537,000 from Enersystems, according to financial disclosure records he filed with the Senate. He has been paid more than $5 million by the company since being elected to the Senate in 2010. The Grant Town plant is the main facility to receive coal from Manchin’s family business. Enersystems is now run by Manchin’s son, Joe Manchin IV.” • Can’t somebody just buy the dude to shut him up?
“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
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).
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, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).
Look for the Helpers
“Covid-19 Patients Flung Out Hospital Windows As Public Emergency Ends” [The Onion]. • The Onion, on point as usual (that is the helpful part).
Covid Is Airborne
Mask victory #1, Stanford Long Covid study:
Last day at the Stanford Paxlovid Long Covid Clinical Trial. Hopefully my blood donation and testing of paxlovid on my body will help science find treatments for #LongCovid Until next time ✌🏽 pic.twitter.com/B0VHIBWSMV
— Long Covid Bro (@4runnerbro) May 11, 2023
Of course, the Daily Mail story (“Angry long Covid patients abandon Stanford Medicine study on infection after staff stop wearing masks around them: ‘It’s frankly abhorrent, selfish behavior‘”) might have had something to do with it. (This is an unspoken reason the PMC hates Twitter; the Mail story, and stories like it, would never happen without Twitter.)
Mask victory #2, MGH:
Mass General Hospital has removed their statement saying that patients cannot ASK practitioners to make.
Everyone should be asking for N95 masks to protect themselves and their loved ones. Standard of care does not allow for preventable infections in hospitals. https://t.co/0WAA8lJwkJ
— Yaneer Bar-Yam @email@example.com (@yaneerbaryam) May 10, 2023
We’re not the Daily Mail, but we did post on this three days ago. MGH simply removed the ban on asking staff to mask. It would have been better if they affirmatively stated that patients should make such a request. Further, the requirement to wear an MGH “Baggy Blue” over your own mask is still in place. Not only could that break the seal on your own mask, infecting you, it shows that the MGH Infection Control Unit actually knows nothing whatever about masks:
So, if you use a duckbill, you’ve got to crush it so MGH administrators feel good.
Do note that this is a small victory. The real goal should be to leverage the ADA to enforce universal masking. The People’s CDC material we published yesterday shows how.
* * *
Nose hack for dental appointments:
1/🧵On the Readimask Nose Only Hack(credit: Lisa Foreman APRN-C). Did some testing last night prior to an appointment for some dental work today. I was skeptical that it would work well but quantitative testing with Portacount showed some decent results after trying a few times. pic.twitter.com/PnKMfHdUwf
— Critical Aerosol Theory (@CriticalAerosol) May 11, 2023
* * *
Perhaps. But the medical appliance look needs to be replaced, or monkey-wrenched. (Masks, even non-woven masks, are fabric. Is there nothing that can be done?)
Testing and Tracking
“COVID cancels Thursday’s performances of Tina Turner musical” [Star Tribune]. • Celebrity sightings might be one of the few reliable metrics we have left, if anybody’s aggregating the data.
“Breath analysis by ultra-sensitive broadband laser spectroscopy detects SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Journal of Breath Research]. “We investigated breath detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection using cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy (CE-DFCS), a state-of-the-art laser spectroscopic technique capable of a real-time massive collection of broadband molecular absorption features at ro-vibrational quantum state resolution and at parts-per-trillion volume detection sensitivity. Using a total of 170 individual breath samples (83 positive and 87 negative with SARS-CoV-2 based on reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests), we report excellent discrimination capability for SARS-CoV-2 infection with an area under the receiver-operating-characteristics curve of 0.849(4). Our results support the development of CE-DFCS as an alternative, rapid, non-invasive test for COVID-19 and highlight its remarkable potential for optical diagnoses of diverse biological conditions and disease states.” • Or, ya know, you could use sniffer dogs.
“Omicron Spike confers enhanced infectivity and interferon resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in human nasal tissue” (preprint) [medRxiv]. “nlike earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2, Omicron enters nasal cells independently of serine transmembrane proteases and instead relies upon matrix metalloproteinases to catalyze membrane fusion. This entry pathway unlocked by Omicron Spike enables evasion of interferon-induced factors that restrict SARS-CoV-2 entry following attachment. Therefore, the increased transmissibility exhibited by Omicron in humans may be attributed not only to its evasion of vaccine-elicited adaptive immunity, but also to its superior invasion of nasal epithelia and resistance to the cell-intrinsic barriers present therein.” • Obviously, to keep the pandemic rolling, we’ve got to suppress nasal vaccines, which the Biden administration is doing very successfully. In the meantime, work those nasal sprays, both preventive and “morning after”!
“How to fortify the U.S. against the next pandemic” [Amy Maxmen, WaPo] I can’t break the paywall on this, and its not in the Wayback machine, but somehow Google has the high points:
And above all: No Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions!!!
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).
NOT UPDATED 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 May 6:
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.
NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, May 8:
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? UPDATE Something’s going on, because the date remains 5/8, but the difference percentage is now 5.4% (up).
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), from April 30:
Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.
Total: 1,162,662 –
1,162,47 1,162,403 = 188 (188 * 365 = 68,620 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).
NOT UPDATED 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):
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 22 thousand to 264 thousand on the week ending May 6th, the most since October 2021, and well above market expectations of 245 thousand. The result emphasized a batch of recent data that points to the softening of the US labor market, caving to a prolonged series of aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”
Inflation: “United States Producer Prices Final Demand Less Foods and Energy MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Core producer prices in the United States increased by 0.2% over a month in April 2023, matching market estimates, after a revised flat reading in the prior month. On a yearly basis, core consumer prices rose by 3.2% in April, the least since March 2021 and below market expectations of 3.3%.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 11 at 1:39 PM ET.
“What are the health impacts of high-potency THC? Colorado researchers looked at 452 studies to find out” [The Colorado Sun]. “In an interview, [Dr. Jonathan] Samet said he wasn’t exactly surprised that the review didn’t come up with more conclusive answers. One of the problems was the studies they had to work with. The research team at the Colorado School of Public Health screened roughly 66,000 studies and found 452 that were relevant to their questions about high-potency THC. But what the team really wanted to examine was the effects of the kind of high-THC products sold today in the cannabis marketplace. The studies looking at the effects of THC spanned some five decades, meaning the products in those studies varied greatly and were often quite different from what is sold today. Another problem: Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health were constrained to using cannabis from the government’s official research pot farm at the University of Mississippi. Cannabis from that facility is notoriously low quality. ‘We learned there was a vast number of studies, potentially,’ Samet said. ‘But that in fact there were not that many that directly addressed the policy questions we were interested in.’ It’s also not particularly easy to study effects when there are so many other elements that can go into the equation besides potency. For instance, Samet said the method of consumption could have an impact, as could the amount consumed and the tolerance of the consumer.” • Odd there are so few studies of contemporary marijuana. Now that marijuana has gone corporate, and all.
NOTE Elon’s API pricing is nuking the artbots. Such a loss.
“‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’: Hiroshige’s Seminal Series of Woodblock Prints Gets a Vibrant Reprint” [Colossal]. “A new reprint from Taschen pairs each of the artist’s remarkable prints with text by authors Lorenz Bichler and Melanie Trede, celebrating the scenery, the city’s history, and Hiroshige’s contribution to ukiyo-e. The authors highlight how the colorful depictions of the country helped define the Western world’s visual interpretation of Japan, referencing the influence of Japonisme on European decorative arts and painters like Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and James McNeill Whistler.” • Trying to give a miss to the cherry blossom specials:
In the age of cholera, only those wealthy enough to have servants could have all their drinking water boiled. Today, the less well-off may not be able to afford respirators, fit testing, and HEPA filters. From “Death in Hamburg” by @RichardEvans36. 🧵https://t.co/jBlWwmPHjA pic.twitter.com/gGJXjbC0dC
— Dr Satoshi Akima FRACP 『秋間聰』 (@ToshiAkima) May 11, 2023
Richard Evans is the author of the magisterial Third Reich Trilogy, so it doesn’t surprise me that Death in Hamburg is superb. It only surprises me I only just now heard of it. One more damned book to read!
News of the Wired
Fun. Also co-operative:
Well, maybe not on a blistering hot day. But you see what I mean.
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