2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 3), Bourgo Home, Bayfield, Wisconsin, United States.

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

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

“Gaetz, Stefanik offer resolution declaring Trump ‘did not engage in insurrection’” [The Hill]. “Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) unveiled a resolution Tuesday that declares former President Trump ‘did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.’ The resolution — which spans one page and has more than 60 GOP co-sponsors — comes as groups across the country try to disqualify Trump from appearing on their 2024 presidential election ballots on claims that he engaged in an insurrection during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol…. ‘If we’re the purported victim, in Congress, and we’re saying this was not an insurrection, I think that will hold a great deal of weight,’ [Gaetz] added.”

“Sen. J.D. Vance: Congress “Should Have Fought” Over Multiple Slates Of Electors In 2020″ [RealClearPolitics]. Vance: “Do I think there were problems in 2020? Yes, I do. Do I think it was a problem that big technology companies, working with the intelligence services, censored the presidential campaign of Donald Trump? Yes. Do I think it’s a problem that Pennsylvania changed its balloting rules in the middle of the election season in a way that even some courts in Pennsylvania have said was illegal? Yes, I think these were problems, George, and I think there is a political solution to those problems. So, litigating which slate of electors were legitimate I think is fundamentally the political solution to the problems that existed in 2020. It’s a reasonable debate to have. … [musical interlude] . That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020. I think that’s what we should have done.” • I do have a vague feeling that PA could have been a little whiffy; IIRC, the rules for ballot box drop-offs were changed under circumstances that gave rise to controversy.

“Meet the GOP insider leading the push to disqualify Trump in Colorado” [Ivana Saric, Axios]. “The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed to keep Donald Trump off of Colorado’s 2024 ballot is a 91-year-old fixture of the Colorado GOP…. A staunch Republican, Anderson had a 19-year career as a Colorado legislator and was the first woman to serve as majority leader in both the state House and state Senate…. Anderson told the Colorado Sun that she’ll be watching the Supreme Court arguments closely and is hopeful a decision will be reached quickly. ‘I’m very happy I’ve done it,’ she said. ‘It does take courage.’” • I’m feeling a little queasy about this narrative, which takes the focus off the NGOs driving the cases collectively, as lawfare. And Saric seems a curious choice for this beat. Also, although when “majority leader in both the state House and state Senate” I’m sure she was an insider, not now, not if she’s a moderate who voted for third-party candidates in 2016 and 2020.

Capitol Seizure

“FBI charged with Jan. 6 ‘cover-up’ in Ashli Babbitt shooting case” [Washington Examiner]. “In its new FOIA suit, Judicial Watch said that not only has the FBI refused its two demands for files but that the law enforcement agency has also stiff-armed the Justice Department office that advocates FOIA compliance, the Office of Information Policy…. In the wrongful death suit [brought by Aaron Babbitt and Judicial Watch] a new camera angle of the shooting was provided. The time-stamped video showed an unarmed Babbitt being pushed into the House Speaker’s Lobby as Byrd raises his gun. After he shot, she fell back, bleeding from the shoulder and neck.”

Biden Administration

“Behind the border mess: Open GOP rebellion against McConnell” [Politico]. “Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson helped squash the border bill’s prospects in the House while Ron Johnson, Lee, Cruz, Scott and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) pummeled it on TV and social media. The intensity of that assault turned many GOP senators sour on a border security deal that would have amounted to the most conservative immigration bill backed by a Democratic president in a generation — a bill they once said was the key to unlocking Ukraine aid. Though McConnell touted the work of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and the bill’s endorsement by the Border Patrol union, he conceded what was obvious by Monday night: This legislation is dead. ‘The reason we ended up where we are is the members decided, since it was never going to become law, they didn’t want to deal with it,’ McConnell said in the interview. ‘I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.’ At Tuesday’s party meeting, Cruz told McConnell that the border deal was indefensible, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) questioned why the GOP would walk away from it, according to two people familiar with the meeting. That followed a Monday evening private meeting where Johnson got into a near-shouting match with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), one of several senators who has tried to rebut Trump’s influence on the party.” • It wouldn’t have helped Biden anyhow; why wouldn’t voters vote for a real Republican?


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Trump’s legal battles are at a critical moment with major implications for the 2024 election” [CNN]. “The collision between November’s presidential election and Trump’s extraordinary tangle of legal liabilities, trials, court appeals and tests of the rule of law is deepening as he tightens his grip on the Republican nomination. Several civil cases are moving toward their conclusions, with painful financial consequences for the ex-president. But there are growing signs that his delaying strategy, designed to postpone full accountability until after the election, could be working on several criminal fronts. And the nation’s top judges and justices are now wrestling with the consequences of Trump’s attempts to strain the guardrails of the political system to their limits. The resulting precedents will echo for as long as America remains a republic.” • A good round-up, if you filter for the aghastitude.

Trump (R): “Trump plans to stay away from Supreme Court arguments after turning past court appearances into campaign stops” [CNN]. “On Tuesday and Wednesday, lawyers and advisers for Trump are holding their first mock arguments to prepare to face the justices. The so-called “moot court arguments,” a staple of Supreme Court advocacy, are just one aspect of Trump’s more traditional approach to Thursday’s case…. Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell will argue the case for Trump. This will be his sixth time arguing a case before the justices. He’s also an accomplished legal scholar who has published numerous works of scholarship in law journals and written on issues at the heart of the case, including the 14th Amendment. Unlike many Trump lawyers, he has mostly worked in government and academia before opening his own firm in 2018. Longtime Trump lawyer David Warrington also has played a significant behind-the-scenes role to prepare for Thursday. Warrington does not have Supreme Court experience but has worked with the former president for years and “understands how to get things done in Trump world,” according to a source familiar with the matter. And John Sauer, the lawyer who argued Trump’s immunity case before the DC Circuit, is expected to attend and participate in the moot courts this week in Washington, along with some of Trump’s criminal defense lawyers and his close legal adviser Boris Epshteyn. The caliber of lawyers and their methodical approach to this case are a stark contrast to that of Trump’s legal team in the recent trial in New York to determine damages owed to former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll for defamation.”

Trump (R): “What Happens, Exactly, If Trump Is Sentenced to Prison?” [Ankush Khardori, New York Magazine]. The lead: “In the moments after the verdict, Donald Trump would not be hauled off to prison right away. White-collar defendants are typically allowed to remain out on bail pending sentencing, which means, in the case of our former and maybe future commander-in-chief, that he could continue to campaign for president in the meantime. But let’s game it out: If Trump is found guilty, how long till he has to put on an orange (or, as we’ll learn, olive-green) jumpsuit?” • The sheer thirst in this piece is overwhelming. It’s like very high-class prison pornography.

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Haley (R): “Nikki Haley loses to ‘none of these candidates’ option in Nevada primary” [Washington Examiner]. “With 86% of the ballots tallied, “none of these candidates” had 63% of the vote, while Haley had 31%, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who dropped out of the race last year, netted 4% of the vote.”

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Biden (D): The stupid! It b-u-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-n-s-s-s!

Mutually reinforcing hysteria about brown working class people at the Rio Grande, nothing about H1B’s in Seattle and Palo Alto (“They’re just like us!”), and nothing, nothing at all, ever, about an asymptomatic, airborne Level Three Biohazard loose in the population, that’s already killed a million people and looks likely to kill a few hundred thousand more. (Yes, I know the population at the border is more, er, diverse these days. But the clichés are clichés because they express certain truths.)

Biden (D): “Counterpoint: Bidenomics’ rosy data vs. the price of Snickers bars” [Bruce Yandle, Orlando Sentinel]. “By many indicators that matter to a lot of brilliant economists, industrialists, financial analysts and Democratic Party politicians, “Bidenomics” is delivering the goods. But for rank-and-file voters, something is missing. Public sentiment about the economy has been rising lately, but it remains well below the pre-COVID years in respected measures like the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The mood, it appears, fails to match the latest 2023 real GDP growth estimates, which came in at 2.5%. Clearly, there is a disconnect, and we shouldn’t brush off the understanding of consumers who are more bothered by their job prospects or the prices of Snickers candy bars, ground beef or a tank of gas than they are impressed by Consumer Price Index trends. In fact, a closer look at the data reveals a picture more murky than rosy…. Writing recently on the disconnect in economic perceptions, economist Paul Donovan argued that we need a “Snickers bar index.” If politicians want to know how consumers really feel, they need to shop regularly at a typical grocery store, keeping an eye on the changing prices of Snickers (candy went up about 13% last year), ground beef and a pound of coffee. People buy and consume these things frequently; few scan or even care about Department of Commerce reports.” • I left out the part about Carl Jung on data v. understanding. A Mercatus Center dude quoting Carl Jung; that’s a turn-up for the books!

Biden (D): “Why Is Joe Biden So Unpopular?” [Sean Trende, RealCalerPolitics]. “Growth is over 3%, unemployment is under 4%, and inflation has fallen from its peak. So why the seeming paradox of an unpopular president in a time of strong economic growth, especially when the strength of the economy is itself a traditional predictor of presidential job approval? There are two reasons. First, we ought not fall into the trap that many commentators – especially political scientists – fall into of economic reductionism. Yes, it is ‘the economy stupid,’ as the iconic sign hanging inside Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters famously reminded his staff in 1992. Less well-remembered, however, the sign also listed ‘Change vs. more of the same’ as the first principle of the campaign, with ‘Don’t forget healthcare’ as an additional item. So people do care about the economy, but they also care about things ranging from the war raging in the Middle East to their overall perception of the president….. More importantly, commentators misunderstand the nature of inflation…. First, inflation is never “transitory.” Even after it is over, price levels rarely fall appreciably (indeed, deflation has its own problems). Consumers don’t automatically reset their baseline. So even if prices are level (and there is still inflation in the U.S.; it is just the rate that has slowed), people are still surprised when they pay $2 per pound for chicken, comparing it to when chicken was $1.44 for a pound in 2021. Second, inflation is constantly in our face. Every time a consumer goes to the store and makes a purchase, they’re reminded of the impact. This is true for gasoline, food, clothing – every commodity an individual consumes. That’s not to say other indicators don’t hurt; it’s just to say they are not felt as often. It isn’t just goods and services either. The main tool the Fed has to fight inflation – raising interest rates – has secondary and tertiary consequences…. [F]or a society accustomed to using their houses as ATMs when interest rates were low, it’s an unsettling change. For people who want to get into the housing market for the first time, it’s an even bigger problem. Finally, and most insidiously, inflation affects everyone…. Inflation hits you no matter what you’re purchasing. If your idea of a night out is dinner at McDonald’s, your extra value meals cost more. If your idea of a night out is Outback Steakhouse, prices were up by 5% in 2022 alone (though the beloved franchise has vowed to rein in price increases moving forward.) As for fine dining, my wife and I celebrated a special occasion at a fancy steakhouse in Ohio recently and shelled out around $80 per steak.” • $80 for a steak? Yikes! Does this match reader experience?!

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Biden (D): “Biden and the Democrats have a significant cash advantage” [MSNBC]. “Biden’s main campaign committee started 2024 with about $46 million in cash on hand, significantly more than Trump’s $33 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. To be clear, Biden’s lead over Trump isn’t massive, and around the same point in the 2020 election cycle then-President Trump had a whopping $102.7 million in cash on hand. But there are a number of reasons that Biden’s financial advantage may be particularly durable. While Biden isn’t facing a significant challenger in the primaries, Trump will have to spend money in the GOP primaries to defeat former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — who has a decent amount of cash on hand herself and could theoretically carry on for a while even if she continues to lose nominating contests. The bigger drain on Trump’s war chest, though, is his vast array of legal entanglements. The Trump campaign and affiliated political action committees reportedly spent around $50 million on legal bills for Trump and his inner circle. These efforts will continue to be a drain on Trump’s wallet, siphoning funds that would otherwise be spent on messaging, turnout and other campaign operations.” Lawfare working as intended, then? More: “Some — including my colleague Hayes Brown — would argue that Trump recoups some of his legal spending because his court appearances and his widely discussed legal arguments function as a kind of advertising for his presidential campaign and a way to boost his coffers. There’s some truth to that. But Trump’s ability to capitalize on his legal woes is waning: A new Reuters report shows that whereas his main fundraising group was once able to raise up to $4 million in a day around court appearances, by the end of last year those fundraising hauls sank to close to Trump’s overall daily fundraising average of $300,000.” • That should change when the cases begin; it’s interesting to think that Trump’s strategy of delay on the court cases might lead to a massive infusion of cash later in the election.

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“Why A Second Trump-Biden Matchup Won’t Be A Rerun Of The 2020 Election” [HuffPo]. “It’s easy to overlook the ways in which Biden-Trump 2.0 would be dramatically different from the first time around…. Back in 2020, the campaign took place right as COVID-19 was first spreading, creating a[n ongoing] once-in-a-lifetime [we hope] public health crisis. This election is unfolding amid a pair of violent international crises, the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. The main economic challenge in 2020 was to prop up the economy as the pandemic threatened to shut it down. Today, the main challenge with the economy is to keep it running without letting it overheat. Violent crime is now going down instead of up. Illegal border crossings are going up instead of down. And of course, in 2020, abortion was still a right throughout the U.S., albeit with restrictions. Now it exists only in some states, and is under threat in others. But there’s another, less obvious difference between 2020 and 2024, and it might matter even more. Today, we know a great deal more about the two men who are likely to appear on the ballot.”

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“Democratic and Republican elites fear RFK Jr.’s growing path to victory” [The Hill]. “34. That may very well become the symbolic magic number in the November presidential election. In what is shaping up to be a three-person contest between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the question becomes: Which candidate can garner 34 percent of the popular vote or higher?… [B]y becoming the standard-bearer for the Libertarian Party, Kennedy would be significantly more likely to get on state ballots, including key battleground states… All of that hints at a very interesting political and electoral possibility. What if Kennedy — who “has no chance” and is only going to serve as a “spoiler” — not only runs on the Libertarian Party ticket and gets on key swing state ballots but continues to peel off more and more young and independent voters with a smattering of dissatisfied Democrats and Republicans? Some polls have already shown Kennedy at about 21 percent of the popular vote. With just over nine months to go before the election, what if he grows his support at just over 1 percent per month? Impossible?” • Gotta brush up on what happens if an election is thrown to the House.

“Third-party candidates could win Trump the White House again” [Unherd]. “Biden is six points ahead of Trump in a two-way national race, but the addition of RFK Jr., Stein and West reduces his lead to just two points in a separate Quinnipiac poll. Kennedy takes the lion’s share of third-party votes, 21%, compared to West and Stein’s 3% and 2%. December polling indicates that a three-way race involving RFK boosts Trump by five points, and it can safely be assumed that Stein and West primarily win votes from would-be Biden supporters. … Any impact of third-party candidates in heavily blue or red states would not bridge the massive margins that Joe Biden or Trump are projected to win in those states — only influence in swing states meaningfully impacts the election. ” • Handy chart:

That “three-way” locution is extremely unfortunate….

Spook Country

Democrats en Déshabillé

One of my favorite accounts, from Black Twitter days:

“Did Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign make up dozens of false news stories?” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Rochelle Bilal ran for Philadelphia sheriff as a reformer in 2019, pledging to clean up an office long plagued by corruption, controversy, and financial irregularities so extensive that they gave accountants actual nightmares. Her first term in office has been bumpy, to put it mildly, as she has dealt with everything from whistle-blower lawsuits to a broken tax-sale system. But Bilal has been telling a different story on her campaign website. It features dozens of favorable headlines attributed to local news organizations such as NBC10, CBS3, WHYY, and The Inquirer, all listing the dates of publication. ‘This page,’ the site proclaims, ‘highlights Sheriff Bilal’s record of accomplishment during her time in office.’ One snag: No one can seem to find any of the supposed news stories…. By Friday morning, the link to the 31 phantom news headlines had been removed from Bilal’s main campaign site…. Reaction from communications ethicists and media studies experts ranged from ‘nutty’ and ‘really odd’ to ‘brazen’ and ‘outrageous.’ One theory: Maybe a campaign staffer used an AI chatbot to generate headlines about the sheriff.” • Oops. Makes me wonder what else we’ve missed….


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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“Not wearing a mask during COVID-19 health emergency isn’t a free speech right, appeals court says” [Associated Press]. “‘A question shadowing suits such as these is whether there is a First Amendment right to refuse to wear a protective mask as required by valid health and safety orders put in place during a recognized public health emergency. Like all courts to address this issue, we conclude there is not,’ the court said.” • What a shame. “The right to infect others shall not be infringed.”

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“Phil Hellmuth Wants Ike Haxton to Take Off the Facemask: ‘This Isn’t Online Poker’” [Poker News]. “‘No one should be able to cover their face, unless you use your own hands to do it. This isn’t online poker. ‘Tells’ matter in live poker: it is a skill to hide your tells and another skill to read your opponent’s tells,’ Hellmuth wrote…. ‘When there’s six people left in a tournament, you don’t have any real concerns of COVID,’ Hellmuth continued.” Dear Lord. No, #CovidIsAirborne, and moves like smoke through the entire facility. Anyhow, the obvious solution is to mandate universal masking.

“Opinion: Hellmuth Should Walk Back His Comments About Ike Haxton’s Mask-Wearing” [Vegas Slots Online]. “Taking a bizarre shot against players who choose to wear a mask at the table, Hellmuth proclaimed that ‘no one should be able to cover their face’ at the poker table. He singled out Haxton as someone who he claims gains an advantage over his opponents by wearing a mask. It was a puerile take backed up by weak arguments about the importance of live tells. Haxton doesn’t wear a balaclava. He wears N95 Respirators and similar quality medical masks that provide respiratory protection to the wearer by very effectively filtering airborne particles. Hellmuth questioning his motivation is asinine and as Haxton rightly points out, poker writers that ‘both sides’ this story should be ashamed of themselves.” • Masks don’t “cover the face,” since our eyes — the windows of the soul — aren’t covered (at least by a respirator; we’re not going all Darth Vader here). Is Hellmuth really saying that eyes give no tells? And how come “nobody should be able to infect anyone else with an asymptomatic, airborne Level Three Biohazard” part of the discussion?


A good question:

Eliminate the “sterilizing” part, and capitalism will swing into action. A subscription-based nasal vaccine business model would be a surefire winner!


The labor market would like a word:

“Dang. I know I put those bolts somewhere!”

Elite Maleficence

I guess I have to follow US Right to Know more closely, because here they’re doing the Lord’s Work on airborne transmission:

Shorter: They knew. (Munster claims priority on #CovidIsAirborne as of February 20, 2020 — how long ago but Xi told Trump the same thing on February 7, according to Woodward.)

“Measles has exploded in Europe. Clinicians say it’s only a matter of time before outbreaks hit Canada” [CBC]. It’s almost as if there’s a common thread here, all these contagious diseases so suddenly. Anyhow: “But measles is exceptionally contagious. ‘Normally we think that, as long as somebody doesn’t cough in our face … or shake our hand with their, you know, snotty hand, we will be OK, right? ‘ [Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, division head of infectious diseases at McMaster Children’s Hospital] said. ‘That is sort of the rule for most respiratory viruses.’” • What is it with hospital infectioon control?

One more reason to avoid air travel:

What will they do? Eject passengers who care them?

“Long COVID research goes private” [National Public Radio]. “Proal doesn’t work for the government or a university. She runs a nonprofit called PolyBio Research Foundation. It’s funding much of this cutting-edge work thanks to $30 million donated by a Russian Canadian billionaire from the world of crypto.” • [bangs head on desk].

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] Yes, up, but we’ll want to wait until next week to see if there are backward revisions. I’d be more comfortable if some positivity figures were up, too, or the ER (UPDATE: It’s not). Verily data, FWIW, also suggests an increase:

[2] Biobot data suggests a rise in the Northeast. MRWA data does not suggest that:

I also tried Verily’s regional data and CDC’s mapm but I wasn’t confident I was seeing a signal in either.

[3] “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

[4] Does not support Biobot data. “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

[5] Decrease for the city no longer aligns with wastewater data (if indeed Biobot’s spike is real).

[6] Still down “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

[7] It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US increased to 55.6 in January 2024, the highest in three months, from 50.6 in December. For the first time since September 2019, every metric is in expansion territory, led by an increase in the restocking of inventories (52.8 vs 44.3), especially for retailers, after a busy holiday season.”

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Tech: “”Wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement” [Anil Dash]. Late to the party, but a welcome guest. “[B]eing able to say, “wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement. Because what it represents is the triumph of exactly the kind of technology that’s supposed to be impossible: open, empowering tech that’s not owned by any one company, that can’t be controlled by any one company, and that allows people to have ownership over their work and their relationship with their audience. See, podcasting as a technology grew out of the early era of the social web, when the norms of technology creators were that they were expected to create open systems, which interoperated with tools by other creators and even other companies. This was based on the successes of earlier generations of the internet, like email and even the web itself. Podcasting was basically the last such invention to become mainstream, with millions of people listening every day, and countless people able to create in the medium. And of course, it creates tons of oppportunities for businesses too, whether it’s people making amazing podcasts like Roman Mars does, or giants like Apple or Spotify building businesses around the medium. Contrast this to other media formats online, like YouTube or Tiktok or Twitch, which don’t rely on open systems, and are wholly owned by individual tech companies. On those platforms, creators are constantly chasing the latest algorithmic shifts, and are subject to the whims of advertising algorithms that are completely opaque. If a creator gets fed up enough to want to leave a platform, they’re stuck — those viewers or listeners are tied to the company that hosts the content. But in the podcasting world, creators can (assuming they work out the business deals necessary to do so) actually take their ball and go home, because the underlying ‘feed’ — the special file that podcasting apps look at to know when there’s a new episode — is something they can actually move over to a new system or a new host, without losing all their subscribers or followers. Indeed, this idea of having a ‘portable’ audience is so appealing that it’s even been revived in the new wave of open format-based social networks that have arisen.” • What the blogosphere used to be before the Robber Barons of Silicon Valley took over. Should be “social [inter]media[tion].” That way the rental extraction part — the flip side of which is the censorship part, that being the social media side hustle — gets neatly erased.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 6 at 2:26:21 PM ET.

The Gallery

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Art” [William Deresiewicz, Salmagundi]. “Art is for increasing life. That, I believe, after all the other purposes receive their due, is really what it’s for—why we revere it, why we give our hearts to it. What do I mean by increasing life? How can we live more, given that we can’t live longer? Through attention and intensity. Being fully present to the world, and feeling without reservation: the two things that making art requires and that experiencing it involves. “Being in love,” Tim Kreider writes, “is one of the only times when life is anything like art,” but the reverse is also true. Art is one of the only times when life is anything like being in love. Attention, intensity. It is also one of the only times when waking life is anything like dreaming. I awaken from a dream, from its saturation of meaning and feeling, its world of color and complete fulfillment, its crowd of presences, of distant friends, old lovers, dead parents, to the drabness of quotidian life, to the narrowness of my existence, to my same old dismal self. Oh yeah, it’s me again. How can I regain that paradise, which was here just a moment ago? Only through art: through music, through story, through the alchemy of verse. I was listening to Abbey Road the other day. Somewhere between “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Golden Slumbers,” I finally understood Nabokov’s definition of aesthetic bliss: “a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.” It is in this respect, and this one only, that art is utopian….” • “Art is for” used as anaphora…. (Source of the “Thirteen Ways” trope.)

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, 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 BB:

BB writes: “This dahlia plant was seeded indoors in mid-April then transplanted outdoors; where it survived the munching rabbits. Then, after surviving a few light frosts, the dahlia plant finally bloomed late in the season.” Too all late bloomers everywhere….

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

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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