Home Economy 2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2023 | naked capitalism

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Karoo Long-billed Lark (Karoo), Northern Cape, South Africa. With buzzing insect!

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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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Tracking the 2024 Republican Primary” [Morning Consult]. Ramaswamy, eh?

Catching up with Ramaswamy a little:

“Vivek Ramaswamy highlights faith in his campaign — and navigates religious differences” [NBC]. “A core part of Ramaswamy’s message is talking about God and religion. At a town hall in Nashua on Tuesday night, a voter asked him, ‘How does your belief in your God inform policies that were originally informed by the belief in, fear of and obedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?’ Ramaswamy responded, ‘Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, there’s no doubt about it. It is a historical fact.’ Ramaswamy told the audience that while he is not a Christian, he can lead the country because ‘we share the same values, the same Judeo-Christian values in power.’ He added: ‘I’m not running to be a pastor-in-chief. I’m running to be our commander-in-chief.’”

“The Espionage Act’s Ugly, Un-American History” [Vivek Ramaswamy, Wall Street Journal]. “There are likely hundreds of violations of the Espionage Act every day, but politically disfavored opponents are the ones who end up targeted. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was indicted under this law, but the Washington press corps reports leaked information with impunity. Two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were charged for meeting with and listening to a former Pentagon official, while hundreds of similarly situated lobbyists faced no repercussions at all. A whistleblower on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program is charged in part based on unclassified documents about cost overruns found in his home, but former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Deutch and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who both took classified documents home, walk free. … The Espionage Act nullifies—or at least confounds—subsequently enacted laws that apply to specific types of government documents. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 gives the president the sole authority to decide what records to take with him when he leaves office. Judge Amy Berman Jackson held in the ‘sock drawer’ case that Bill Clinton’s decision on what to keep was judicially unreviewable. That statute would be meaningless if, as the Justice Department now contends, the Espionage Act is broad enough to criminalize an exercise of presidential discretion expressly granted under the 1978 act. The indictment of Mr. Trump, which doesn’t even mention the Presidential Records Act, suggests the Espionage Act is again a weapon against dissent, as it was in 1917. A startling number of those convicted under the Espionage Act have been pardoned or had their sentences commuted once political tides changed.”

“The C.E.O. of Anti-Woke, Inc.” [The New Yorker]. “That corporations are given to hypocrisy is hardly a novel observation. But Ramaswamy’s twist on the familiar critique, which he laid out last year in a book entitled ‘Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam,’ is to place E.S.G. investing at asset-management firms like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street at the center of what ails American life. He calls this kind of socially conscious investing—not political corruption or dark money, not election denialism, not disinformation—the gravest danger that American democracy faces today. E.S.G., he told his audience, lets the private sector ‘do through the back door what our government couldn’t directly get done through the front door.’ The three top asset-management firms collectively hold more than twenty trillion dollars in retirement funds and other capital, about the same as the national gross domestic product. And the stocks that the firms control give them extraordinary influence over almost every public company in the world. ‘It’s not a right-leaning issue, it’s not a left-leaning issue,’ he said. Private-sector attempts to address climate change are not only laughably insincere, he argued; they’re encroaching on work that should be done by the government—and only if the citizens agree. Ramaswamy’s crusade against E.S.G. is based on a pair of seemingly contradictory ideas: that attempts by companies to address societal problems are cynical and ineffective, and that those attempts also pose an existential threat to the democratic process. But such inconsistencies are often obscured by Ramaswamy’s frictionless oratorical style—a brisk patter, peppered with references to Hobbes and Hayek, that wends toward well-modulated moments of outrage. In Dublin, his words had gray and blond heads bobbing in agreement.” • I don’t see the contradiction in those ideas. What am I missing?

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“Pence would ban abortions when pregnancies aren’t viable. His GOP rivals won’t say if they agree” [Associated Press]. “In a recent interview, Pence went even further, saying abortion should be banned when a pregnancy isn’t viable. Such a standard would force women to carry pregnancies to term even when doctors have determined there is no chance a baby will survive outside the womb. ‘I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it,’ Pence said in the interview. ‘I just have heard so many stories over the years of courageous women and families who were told that their unborn child would not go to term or would not survive. And then they had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery.’ Doctors disputed Pence’s characterization, saying there are conditions that are always incompatible with life and others where the chance of survival is so slim that most patients, when previously given the choice, concluded that continuing the pregnancy wasn’t worth the suffering, grief or risk.”

“The anti-Trump presidential candidates clear an important hurdle” [Politico]. “Donald Trump’s critics got a big break in the Republican primary on Wednesday, though they’ll need a few more for it to truly matter…. The poll showed eight candidates hitting another RNC debate criteria: that they garner at least 1 percent support. Those were Trump (56 percent), Ron DeSantis (17 percent), Vivek Ramaswamy (8 percent), Mike Pence (7 percent), Nikki Haley (3 percent), Tim Scott (3 percent), Chris Christie (3 percent) and Asa Hutchinson (1 percent). The last two are prominent critics of the frontrunner, but they — like all the candidates — still have to hit other benchmarks to qualify. RNC rules require candidates to hit that 1 percent in three national polls — or that same figure in two national polls and one early nominating state poll — along with having 40,000 individual donors (with at least 200 donors in 20 different states), and pledging to support the eventual nominee.”

“The big-money donors backing DeSantis — and RFK Jr.” [Axios]. “A small but growing number of wealthy campaign donors are supporting both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the leading Democratic challenger to President Biden. It’s tempting to see the moves by donors in banking, venture capital, hedge funds and tech as part of Republicans’ push to move past former President Trump while making Biden’s path to re-election more difficult. But those behind the movement say it’s driven by classic notions of liberty, lingering dissatisfaction with COVID-era restrictions [like what?!?!] — and yes, a sense of Trump-Biden fatigue in the donor class. Entrepreneur and investor David Sacks has hosted fundraisers for both DeSantis and Kennedy. Sacks sees the two candidates as part of a growing coalition that is anti-censorship, anti-war and pro-liberty, according to a person familiar with Sacks’ thinking. That approach buys into a specific definition of ‘liberty’ put forward by DeSantis in Florida, where the governor has led efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights and to make it easier to ban books from school libraries — all under the banner of boosting parents’ rights. Omeed Malik, a former Democrat, former Bank of America executive and founder of Farvahar Partners, a boutique merchant bank, has donated the maximum $6,600 to both DeSantis’ and Kennedy’s campaigns this year.” • “Freedom” seems to be going down on the charts, and “liberty” coming up (“Moms for Liberty”). Reminds me of when liberals decided (correctly) that the brand “liberal” was poisoned, and then tried to rebrand as “progressive.”

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“There is no long-term case for Biden 2024” [Carl Beijer]. “Every election we are presented with the same strategy: if we vote for the least right-wing of the two major parties we can prevent the most right-wing from taking office. But this strategy does not, of course, even demand a candidate who is less right-wing than the party’s candidate… Say what you will about the West candidacy, but at least it recognizes how far to the right Democratic presidents have moved and offers leftists a concrete strategy for turning things around with their votes. Historians and political scientists happen to think it’s a pretty good strategy; but it is, in any case, better than no strategy at all.”

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“RFK Jr: ‘I was the first person censored by the Biden administration’” [FOX]. “Kennedy told Fox News that the FBI has a history of being politicized by its top brass, pointing to J. Edgar Hoover’s alleged targeting of civil rights groups and figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Correct. More: “He suggested federal law enforcement in the past has engaged in ‘selective targeting’ under the Nixon and Bush administrations, adding that in Doughty’s ruling that the Biden administration potentially violated the First Amendment via speech suppression, he was personally name-dropped.” Also correct. And: “It seems that they’re also doing that [selective targeting] to any group now… to groups that are simply political enemies of the current administration or at least of the Biden administration. I was the first person censored by the Biden administration, according to Judge Doughty’s decision.” • I looked at Doughty’s decision (State of Missouri, et al., versus Joe Biden, et al.). It looks to me like Kennedy is correct:

(1) On January 23, 2021, three days after President Biden took office, Clarke Humphrey (‘Humphrey’), who at the time was the Digital Director for the COVID-19 Response Team, emailed Twitter and requested the removal of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine tweet by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr21. Humphrey sent a copy of the email to Rob Flaherty (‘Flaherty’), former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy, on the email and asked if ‘we can keep an eye out for tweets that fall in this same genre.’ The email read, ‘Hey folks-Wanted to flag the below tweet and am wondering if we can get moving on the process of having it removed ASAP.’

So it looks like Kennedy is correct. (Footnote 21 reads: “[Doc. No. 174-1, Exh. A. at 1]” (which I cannot find).

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“Will Joe Manchin Run Third Party?” [Politics Extra]. “Third parties would be bad news for President Biden next year. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) —who is hinting even louder about a No Labels run — would take just 9% against Biden and Donald Trump, according to a new poll, but that would tip the election to Trump…. If Manchin instead runs for re-election in West Virginia, national Republicans are counting on Gov. Jim Justice to take him down. But the Club for Growth is all in for Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who might be easier for Manchin to beat.”

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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.

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“Ruy Teixeira: How the Democrats Became the Party of the Ruling Class” [Public]. “Ruy Teixeira, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributor at The Liberal Patriot… argues [that the Democrat Party] has abandoned its traditional working-class base and become a party of college-educated elites. For decades, the party has been hemorrhaging white working-class voters. But in recent election cycles, it has suffered big losses among Latinos without a college education, and has started to slide with non-college-educated Asian and even black Americans as well. The Republicans have capitalized on that loss by embracing these exiled voters, creating an inverted political dynamic that has left those of us old enough to remember the traditional pro-worker, anti-war left with our heads spinning.”• Holy moley. God can make irony that’s too heavy to lift. First, Teixeira is cashing in on work that Thomas Frank already did in Listen, Liberal! — and was ostracized for. Second, nobody did more to sever the Democrat Party from its working class roots than Teixeira, who as a dominating Democrat strategist invented the “coalition of the ascendant” (a.k.a. the Obama Coalition) ground zero for identity politics, not a working class politics by definition. Ka-ching. These people are shameless.

Realignment and Legitimacy

If you wish to avoid governing, this is a fine layered strategy of defensiveness and denial:

I wonder if there are other examples using this strategy? It seems very general.

I wonder where future historians will date* this transition:

I think Yang and Boresjö have got hold of the right end of the stick here, but I’d take issue with some of language and the concepts: “managerial class” (PMC); “trans-organizational frameworks” (Flex nets); “cancel culture/social credit” (symbolic capital/social capital). I say this not to be picky, but because all other things being equal, I’d go with terminology backed by solid scholarship, as opposed to reinventing the wheel. In addition, if we say “class,” lets be serious about it, as Ehrenreich and Bourdieu are, and Wedel in her own way. Sociology is a martial art, as Bourdieu says; so let us learn from the masters.

NOTE * 2007 – 2008, Obama’s first campaign?

This too:

“Liberty, equality, etc.” [Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness]. I’m happy to report that the great old school blogger, Michael Smith, of “Stop Me Before I Vote Again,” has moved to Substack. “Each of the three acts as something of a check on the others. Equality and fraternity impinge on absolute individual liberty (though perhaps not on liberty in a larger sense). And vice versa. You and I are certainly equals but don’t tell me what to do unless I ask you to; I am, after all, a free man. Fraternity allows, perhaps implies, complementarity (you can do what I cannot, and vice versa; we help each other out). The sense of equality that says “every man must be his own plumber” is bad for the plumbing, and hence for people who depend on plumbing. Fraternity implies a more substantive equality, not the interchangeability of people, as if people were mass-produced widgets. But the internal tensions, though they are real, subsist above a deeper unity. For really, none of the three is possible without the others: there’s no liberty – in the actual human world, not the desert island – without equality and fraternity. Equality is meaningless without liberty, and arid without fraternity. Fraternity is impossible without liberty and equality. I probably should have saved this for Quatorze Juillet [that’s tomorrow!], but who knows, at this point, whether any of us will live so long.” •

“Baby Steps” [The American Conservative]. The deck: “Is getting married and having a family a political act?” More: “There are three parts to Mother Keenan’s practical guide to becoming a shield maiden of the future. First, women readers must recognize what has been taken from them by the triumph of a feminism that claims men and women are the same. They have lost their all-too-fleeting fertility, feminine virtues, covenant marriage, parental authority, even their gender. They must reject lies like “abortion is health care” and “children don’t need a father” and “public schools know best when it comes to educating your children and would never indoctrinate them politically or groom them sexually.” Second, women must “explore promiscuous monogamy” by marrying a man whom they love and respect—this takes becoming the sort of gal he’d want to wed, too—and then, to use a Davidic coinage rather than a Peachy-ism, they should happily fill their quiver full of children, which are as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, and stay home with them. Finally, they should stick at it, till death does them part. (Mother Keenan does not pretend that this part is easy.) In the meantime they can convince their friends to join the victory parade.”

“Twenty Years Of Zero Tolerance Day To #EndFGM: But No End To Gender Debates And Genital ‘Treatments’” [Hilary Burrage]. “We are already aware that [Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)] is a practice where the consent of the girl or woman to receive it is usually far from central to decisions about when and how. It is generally an imposed tradition, enforced rather than consensual. It is likewise routine in parts of the world ranging from Africa to North America to the Middle East and Asia to ‘circumcise’ a male baby, small boy or young teenager. Moving to modern-day western practices, only rarely is genital surgery an essential and urgent procedure in children and young people such that surgeons may be able to go ahead without parental consent. Yet increasingly genital surgery is performed in modern clinics on western adolescents who give nominal consent to the cosmetic or ‘trans’ procedures… It is simply not possible that children can know what they are giving up forever if they receive significant medical and surgical treatments. Children don’t fully understand adult sex resulting in orgasm, and obviously they don’t usually have babies, or know the joy (for most of us) of parenthood. Neither do they give much weight to future physical frailties such as possibly weak bones, or nor perhaps to how much their minds and bodies will over the next few years mature, let alone to the psychological or developmental changes which may result from medications. In short, children are not in a position to give informed consent to life changing pharmaceuticals and procedures.”


“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, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: 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, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Look for the Helpers

Propaganda techniques:

Not exactly a banner drop, but perhaps stickers catch more eyes. I wonder if any would work in a hospital setting….


Astronomy > Infection Control:

Covid is Airborne

Karma strikes Bob Wachter, winner of the coveted Sociopath of the Day Award:

… working in mysterious ways (at least mysterious to our Bob):

‘Tis a mystery! (As I wrote: “Covid is airborne, spreads like smoke, and is present everywhere, not merely in ‘direct clinical encounters; that’s why masking needs to be universal throughout the facility.”)

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It’s not the tornadoes I’m worried about:

It’s only a matter of time…

For why I’m worried about transmission from Okinawa, see this morning’s Links.

“NYC Schools Bought Weaker Air Purifiers. Now Underventilated Campuses Are More Prone To COVID Cases” [Gothamist]. “The New York City public schools that rely solely on open windows and portable air purifiers have seen 23% more COVID-19 cases per students and a 29% increase in staff case rates when compared to buildings with stronger ventilation, such as HVAC systems, according to a new WNYC/Gothamist investigation…. Starting in summer 2020, the city purchased two air purifiers for every classroom from a Manhattan-based startup named Delos Living and its upstate partner Intellipure — a choice officials strongly backed ahead of the school year, even though the devices lack HEPA filters, the industry benchmark for air cleaning. In interviews with WNYC/Gothamist, independent engineers warned of relying too heavily on the Intellipure purifiers and open windows, which city officials countered were adequate in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread. To learn why Intellipure air purifiers were selected for classrooms, WNYC/Gothamist has discovered that New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) got those devices for a bargain, according to contracts obtained via Freedom of Information requests…. Yet despite the purchase of Intellipure air purifiers for schools, New Yorkers who walk into most city buildings are unlikely to find that brand of purifier humming in the background. City contracts and photos sent to WNYC/Gothamist by city employees across several departments indicate that most offices rely on other brands, all of which use HEPA filters and provide substantially higher ventilation rates compared to the purifiers in city schools. Some were purchased even as the city made new deals with Delos for non-HEPA purifiers, the contracts show.”

Testing and Tracking

“Repeat testing with a rapid antigen test may be required to rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection” [Medical Laboratory Observer]. “Using the PCR test as a comparison, the data showed that the performance of the rapid test was optimized when asymptomatic participants tested 3 times at 48-hour intervals and when symptomatic participants tested 2 times at the same interval. False-positive rates were low for rapid tests, suggesting that repeat testing is not needed for those obtaining a positive result on the first or second try. While testing, people should continue to practice mask wearing and social distancing until infection is ruled out.” • Oh great. Testing optimized for false negatives.

“Something Awful”

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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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Elite Maleficence

By Rules #1 and #2:

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, July 10:

Lambert here: Still a trend upward. Happy July 4! Absent a new variant to race though the dry tinder, I don’t see an oncoming debacle even with July 4 travel. But plenty of people will still get sick (again).

Regional data:

If you look at yesterday’s Biobot regional data, you’ll see that the data for both the West and the South has been retrospectively revised (upwardly).

Regional variant data:

Whatever the cause of the uptick in the Northeast, it’s not EG.5 (the orange pie slice), which seems evenly distributed.



Lambert here: EG.5 moving like a bat out of hell, showing unactionable nature (uselessness) of these CDC two-week-lag charts (here, and in positivity, too). They’re not even performative!

From CDC, June 24:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “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.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, July 8:

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, July 10:

5.7%. Going vertical, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, June 19:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 12:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,168,558 – 1,168,533 = 25 (25 * 365 = 9,125 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, July 12:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. 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. )

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 from the prior week to 237,000 on the week ending July 8th, sharply below market expectations of 250,000. The result aligned with recent data that underscored a stubbornly tight labor market in the United States, strengthening the likelihood of a 25bps rate hike in the Federal Reserve’s upcoming meeting.”

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Inflation: “Measure It Differently, and Inflation Is Behind Us” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. and Europe use different methods to calculate inflation data, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates American price rises the European way too, although the statistic remains obscure. Right now, measuring U.S. inflation using the two methods shows radically different results. Investors who think they have a handle on the current consensus—that underlying inflation is falling but not fast enough for the Fed—should be troubled by the alternative message coming from the much lower European version of the figures. U.S. core inflation—which excludes volatile food and energy—measured using the standard consumer-price index was 2.6 percentage points higher than the European-style inflation, known as the harmonized index of consumer prices. It is the biggest gap there has ever been. The main reason is that Europe’s measure, known as HICP, doesn’t include the imaginary cost of what a homeowner would pay to rent their house, which makes up about a third of the U.S. core CPI. Known as ‘owners’ equivalent rent’ or imputed rent, the measure has long had its critics. Exclude something that no one actually pays, and the weight of which in the index is calculated from guesses by homeowners of the rental value of their house, and core inflation is looking basically fine, at just 2.3%.”

Insurance: “Farmers Insurance drops 100,000 policies in Florida” [Orlando Sentinel]. “Insurance companies have stopped writing policies, dropped customers and left the state outright after receiving $3 billion in taxpayer-provided reinsurance aid to shore up the market. Reinsurance is a critical part of the insurance market that companies buy to protect them from huge payouts for hurricanes and other catastrophes. DeSantis also signed a bill taking away homeowners’ rights to recover attorney fees when they prevail, under the premise that the number of lawsuits filed against insurance companies has contributed to the cost of doing business in hurricane-prone Florida. Each time the Legislature passed a new reform, lawmakers said the changes would take 18-24 months to trickle down to homeowners. But the changes have had zero impact on lowering rates at least so far.”

Housing: “Mapping Changes in US Home Prices” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “As to the coming crash, my pal Jonathan Miller observes: ‘If you talk to brokers on the ground, there are far fewer investors than the prior boom. Heavy primary and second home demand.’ This, plus the shortage of single-family homes due to underbuilding and cheaper mortgage lock-in, suggests that a housing crash is unlikely any time soon…”

Housing: “Part 1: Current State of the Housing Market; Overview for mid-July” [Calculated Risk]. “It took a number of years following the housing bust for new home inventory to return to the pre-bubble percent of total inventory. Then, with the pandemic, existing home inventory collapsed and now the percent of new homes is close to 23% of total for sale inventory. The lack of existing home inventory, and few distressed sales, has been a positive for homebuilders. And for housing starts there are a near record 1.698 million units under construction.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 13 at 1:49 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“New findings show a direct causal relationship between unemployment and suicide” [The Conversation]. • Jay? Janet? Hi [waves].

“Amazon hit with labour complaint over alleged bargaining refusal” [Al Jazeera]. “Amazon.com has been hit with a complaint for allegedly refusing to bargain with a New York workers’ union, a spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said… Workers at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfilment centre in Staten Island voted to join the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) last year, a first for the company in the United States. An NLRB official rejected Amazon’s bid to overturn the results of the JFK8 election in January this year. Amazon is still challenging the results before a US labour board and has yet to engage in bargaining with the union. The NLRB complaint comes as dozens of Amazon warehouse workers in New York sued the union on Monday, alleging that top union officials were refusing to hold democratic elections to fill leadership posts.” • Yikes, and yikes!

News of the Wired

A history of bricks, as a standards maven would write history:

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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 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 petal:

Petals indeed!

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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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