By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
I believe I had a request for the Potoo?
Rufous Potoo, Side road at KM63 of BR-174, Amazonas, Brazil. The extraordinary spectogram is due to everything going on the Amazon jungle. It’s not a quiet place!
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Biden’s new deficit hawk persona has some progressives feeling some bad deja vu” [Politico]. “Joe Biden spent the last two years pursuing and enacting massive domestic programs meant to remake the U.S. economy. But as he prepares a run for reelection, Biden is trying out a new economic persona: deficit hawk. The president has made a fresh effort to sell his administration as a model of fiscal restraint in recent weeks, casting falling deficits as an increasingly central focus of his agenda. Biden now routinely touts a $1.7 trillion drop in the deficit on his watch as a top accomplishment. When the president releases his new proposed budget next week, he is expected to call for another $2 trillion in cuts over a decade. ‘My economic plan is working,’ Biden said in a speech last week, peppering his remarks with more than a dozen references to the deficit. ‘It’s reducing the deficit. It’s fiscally responsible.’” • Why not try bleeding and purging?
“A bipartisan group of Senators is talking about raising the retirement age on Social Security” [Semafor]. “A bipartisan group led by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Bill Cassidy, R-La. is considering gradually raising the retirement age to about 70 as part of their legislation to overhaul Social Security, Semafor has learned from two people briefed on their efforts. Other options on the table include changing the existing formula that calculates monthly benefits from one based on a worker’s average earnings over 35 years to a different formula that’s based instead on the number of years spent working and paying into Social Security. The plan also includes a proposed sovereign wealth fund (as previously reported by Semafor) that could be seeded with $1.5 trillion or more in borrowed money to jumpstart stock investments, the people said. If it fails to generate an 8% return, both the maximum taxable income and the payroll tax rate would be increased to ensure Social Security stays on track to be solvent another 75 years.
‘This is an example of two leaders trying to find a solution to a clear and foreseeable danger,’ Cassidy and King spokespeople told Semafor in a statement. ‘Although the final framework is still taking shape, there are no cuts for Americans currently receiving Social Security benefits in our plan. Indeed, many will receive additional benefits.’” • “Currently recieving.” So it’s two-tier? Inviting parents and grandparents to throw their children under the bus is bipartisan? Wait, don’t answer that.
“Democrat wants more Biden challengers in the primaries: ‘This is not a dictatorship’” [FOX]. “CNN panelist and former Democratic state senator Nina Turner called on other Democrats to jump in the race on Sunday as President Biden has still not officially announced his re-election bid. ‘I think the problem that Democrats are going to face is that Biden is not without risk,’ CNN political commentator Kristen Soltis Anderson said. ‘He would be the oldest man elected president. There are moments when he seems feisty and ready to fight Republicans, and there are moments that do leave doubts in the minds of voters who are watching.’ She added that Democrats ‘have to be a little nervous’ about if it isn’t Biden. ‘There’s no need to be nervous, I mean, people should just jump in. Let’s jump in,’ Turner said.” • Hmm. Burning a few bridges, here?
“Year three of Warren’s health care plan looks completely ridiculous now” [Carl Beijer]. “Recall that while Sanders insisted on passing the entire program in a single bill, Warren decided that it would be clever to split her agenda in two. First she would begin pass a public option, ‘and then follow up with legislation to end existing employer plans by her third year in office, once the new system has a foothold.’ So if Sanders had won, we the fight for Medicare for All would have already been won or lost. It would have played out in early 2021 when he was still in the honeymoon phase of his presidency, with America still laser-focused on surviving the pandemic, with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, and a year before the US started throwing billions of dollars into the war in Ukraine. Now consider where we’d be at with Warren. Best case scenario: in the same situation as Bernie, she would have won an equally ferocious fight, though with just a public option to show for it. Then Russia invades Ukraine and Republicans start complaining about how that, along with the public option, are breaking the budget. Then Republicans win back the House. Then, having spent two years tarring Warren as a big-government communist, the GOP puts forward a resolution denouncing ‘socialism in all of its forms’ and opposing ‘the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.’ Over 75% of the House votes for it, including a majority of House Democrats. Do even people who support Warren actually think, in this political environment, that she’s be picking a fight over abolishing the private health insurance industry?” • Not that I’m bitter over that 🐍 Warren sinking her fangs into Bernie’s back in 2020, no, of course not. I’m filing this here because Warren might be nutty enough to think she can run again.
And speaking of 🐍s:
In the 1990s, America had 51 major contractors bidding for defense work. Today, there are only five massive companies remaining. Defense contracting should be reworked to break up the massive contracts awarded to the big guys and create opportunities for firms of all sizes.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 24, 2023
So the concept here is what? To extend the Empire’s life by breaking up defense monopolies?
“The GOP’s Addiction to Culture War May Cost It in 2024” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The urban, liberal college graduates who dominate the Democratic political class have distinct cultural sensibilities and social-policy preferences when compared to the middle-age, working-class rust belters who often play kingmaker in the Electoral College. Progressive ambition plus right-wing demagoguery has been a formula for electoral backlash more than once in modern history. And yet if hyper-political Democrats don’t always see eye to eye with the U.S.’s ‘low-information‘ normies, the same is at least as true of their counterparts in the GOP. For every Ivy League–educated nonprofit executive who believes in open borders and police abolition, there are two car-dealership owners who think the 2020 election was rigged by a cabal of pedophiles…. Meanwhile, in order to sustain the attention of their ideologically self-selecting audiences amid competition from other journalistic outlets, cat photos, video games, porn, and virtually every movie and TV show ever made, news purveyors have a strong incentive to keep consumers in a constant state of agitation…. As a result, strong partisans can find themselves locked in seemingly epochal political struggles that don’t even register on swing voters’ radar. This state of affairs creates problems for both parties. When your base lives in a distinct informational universe from your persuasion targets, finding messages that animate the former while placating the latter can be difficult. Nevertheless, that balancing act is far more challenging for Republicans than it is for Democrats…. Last week, a group of Democratic strategists released a report on public opinion in working-class, postindustrial counties of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — areas where Biden will likely need to hold down Republican margins in order to win reelection. The researchers found that while ‘working-class folks find urban and intellectual ‘wokeism’ annoying,’ they are far more concerned with Democrats’ alleged failures in economic management.” • The strategist is Mike Lux.
“Let’s All Do the DeSantis Shimmy!” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “There are two dominant views on Ukraine within the Republican Party. The first one, embraced by, say, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, holds that Russia’s assault on Ukraine threatens the liberal world order. Helping the Ukrainians push back is in America’s vital national interest. The second view, embraced by the populist wing, is that the United States has no vital national interests in Ukraine…. DeSantis has magically cast himself in between these two positions. In the past, DeSantis was tougher on Russia than Trump was. In 2017, he noted that Putin ‘wants to reconstitute the Russian Empire,’ and chided Trump for being too soft on Putin, saying that ‘you’re better off dealing with Putin by being strong.’ If Putin thinks he can gain an inch, DeSantis argued, ‘he’s apt to take a mile.’ But this week DeSantis went on ‘Fox & Friends,’ where great statesmen have always gone to unfurl their foreign policy doctrines, and he feinted in a Trump-like direction. He said the war wouldn’t have happened if Joe Biden weren’t so weak. He said he didn’t want to give the Ukrainians a ‘blank check’ (as if anyone does). He said Biden should be more concerned with securing the border at home and less concerned with borders far away. He minimized the threat Putin poses to the West, adding, ‘I don’t think it’s in our interests to be getting into a proxy war with China, getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea.’” • Asking for my vote again. I wish they’d stop doing that.
“Trump easily beats DeSantis in GOP primary: poll” [The Hill]. “Former President Donald Trump is still the heavy favorite to win the GOP’s 2024 nomination, according to a new Emerson College poll. In a hypothetical 10-way Republican presidential primary, Trump scores 55 percent of the vote, the poll found, putting him 30 points ahead of his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who stands at 25 percent support. No other candidate breaks double-digits. Former Vice President Mike Pence takes third place with just 8 percent of the vote, while former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who became the first major Republican candidate to challenge Trump for the GOP nod earlier this month, finishes with just 5 percent support.” • 30 points?!
“Just how big is the Always Trump component of the Republican Party?” [Politico]. “Vivek Ramaswamy, the anti-woke entrepreneur and most recent entrant into the race, went so far as to say he’s ‘not running against President Trump’ at all. He is, of course. Every candidate in the emerging GOP field will be. That they can’t quite acknowledge as much underscores one of the defining features of this very early primary and, more generally, GOP politics over the last six years: Trump’s base remains rigid, and even his critics believe it may be fatal to annoy them. Despite his difficulties since he left office, about a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters still consider themselves supporters more of Trump than the Republican Party, according to a recent NBC News poll. Many of them aren’t going anywhere. Fully 28 percent of Republican primary voters are so devoted to the former president that they said they’d support him even if he ran as an independent, according to a national survey last month from The Bulwark and longtime Republican pollster Whit Ayres. Indeed, the ‘Always Trump’ component of the party is so pronounced that it’s affecting how Trump’s opponents operate around him. ‘,’ said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire Republican Party chair. ‘Not much of a strategy.’” • Trump’s not dumb. He owns a big plane. He doesn’t go up in small ones.
“With Trump running, nearly all Republican senators say no to a presidential bid” [NBC]. “There’s an old joke that senators look in the mirror and see a president. These days, a whole lot of mirrors in the chamber seem to be broken. Republicans have an open presidential primary in 2024, and the Senate is packed with hyper-ambitious and self-confident politicians, many with national followings and barely concealed presidential aspirations. Yet nearly all of them are taking a pass at a White House bid next year after former President Donald Trump launched his attempted comeback campaign in November… a newer group of Republican senators rumored to have higher aspirations — Rick Scott of Florida, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa — are also bowing out or sitting on the sidelines. ‘Every senator has a different reason,’ Conant said. ‘A lot of them are young and have the luxury to wait. In 2024, you’re running against an incumbent president and a former president, so historically it’s a big hill to climb. This isn’t like 2016 when there was an open White House and wide-open GOP race.’ Cruz, Hawley and Rick Scott, whose seats are up in 2024, have chosen to seek re-election rather than roll the dice on a White House run.”
“Trump will have to make loyalty pledge to join RNC debate stage, Ronna McDaniel says” [FOX]. “Republican Presidential candidates will have to pledge support for the eventual nominee in order to be included on the Republican National Committee’s debate stage, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said Sunday. McDaniel says candidates will have to sign the pledge prior to the first primary debate, which will be held in Milwaukee. Former President Trump has expressed opposition to the pledge, however, echoing his hesitancy to make the same pledge in 2016. ‘We’re saying you’re not going to get on the debate stage unless you make this pledge,’ McDaniel said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday. ;Anyone getting on the Republican national committee debate stage should be able to say, ‘I will support the will of the voters and the eventual nominee of our party.’ ‘I think they’re all going to sign it. I really do,’ McDaniel added. ‘I think President Trump would like to be on the debate stage.’”
“Failing at polls, election deniers focus on state GOP posts” [Associated Press]. “Embracing election conspiracy theories was a political albatross for Republicans in states that weren’t completely red last year, with deniers losing every statewide bid in the swing states of Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But the movement has focused on GOP state party chairs — positions that usually are selected by only dedicated activists and have the power to influence the party’s presidential nominating contest and some aspects of election operations, such as recruiting poll watchers.”
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.
* * *
“The Democrats Are Bad, But We Can’t Leave the Working Class to the GOP” [Freddie deBoer]. “[A]s the Democratic coalition is increasingly defined by the college educated, and in a context where the phrase “white working class” is now often treated as a racist dogwhistle, we cannot allow the fortunes of the working class to be dictated by Republicans. The symbols and rhetoric of elite liberals may be increasingly hostile to those who are not college-educated urbanites with vocabularies carefully calibrated to signal that status. But Republicans are not an alternative; the GOP remains the party of plutocrats, and its populist rhetoric is employed in pursuit of lower taxes and less regulation for the rich and corporations. My argument today takes place against a backdrop of one of the most consequential developments in recent American politics: the rise of educational polarization.” • Paywalled, so leaving us hanging….
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Why Has the Left Deprioritized COVID?” [Midnight Sun]. From 2022, still germane. “In the context of this social murder – a form of heightened class war waged by the rich, who are increasing their profits by forcing poor people to continue working, with inadequate protection, through waves of infection – the organized left has failed to show that another pandemic response is possible, and that our lives depend on fighting for it…. In the US, Democrats who are critical of the party’s centrist mainstream, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been nearly silent on COVID-19 since Biden took office, allowing the administration and Congress to oversee mass death without serious pressure from the party’s left flank…. Faced with the crises of the pandemic, perhaps the most common intervention by leftist groups across North America has been to start grassroots mutual aid projects, providing food, money, and other essentials to people in need. Kristen Smith, Vice-Chair for Programs of the Democratic Socialists of America Disability Working Group (DWG), has observed this phenomenon proliferating in the DSA…. The left needs to unite against pandemic ableism, not out of goodwill or charity towards disabled leftists, but for our movement’s survival. Organizations limit their potential membership when they romanticize pre-pandemic organizing practices, where everything happened in person and those who couldn’t attend due to disability or illness, lack of transportation, a work conflict, or family caregiving duties simply couldn’t participate. When unions fail to understand – or act on the understanding – that scarce, poverty-level disability benefits and the end of pandemic unemployment supports are political attacks on all workers, whose exploitation happens in relation to the parallel misery of unemployment, they miss an important opportunity to help build power for the working class as a whole…. The left’s job is not to accept the narrative of events that corporate media and government officials give us – “the pandemic’s over” – but to craft our own.” • Well worth a read. I’m not sure it answers the question in the headline, though.
“Everything Is Hyperpolitical” [The Point]. “All the critiques of post-politics recognized the separation between “politics” and “policy.” On the one hand, politics named the formation of a collective will that determines what society would do with its surplus materials. Policy, in turn, relied on the execution of that will. In the 1980s and 1990s, when the politics of crisis steadily turned into a crisis of politics, these two moments underwent a mutual estrangement. The determination of the collective will was relegated to a mediasphere addicted to novelty and run by public-relations experts, while the execution of policy was handed over to unelected technocrats. In the widening of this separation lay the seeds of a transition from post-politics to hyperpolitics…. [T]he mood of contemporary politics is one of incessant yet diffuse excitation. Emotionally, it is related to the crisis of attention characteristic of the age of the internet and smartphone. “Hyper,” in turn, indicates both a state of supersession and intensification: the elongation of a vowel that has already been vocalized but does not yet spell out a new word…. Hyperpolitics comes and goes, like a neutron bomb that shakes the people in the frame but leaves all the infrastructure intact—an awkward synonym rather than an antonym to post-politics.” • An interesting essay, structured around photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’s body of work.
“How big Christian nationalism has come courting in North Idaho” [Religion News Service]. “North Idaho has long been known for its hyperlibertarians, apocalyptic ‘preppers’ and white supremacist groups who have retreated to the region’s sweeping frozen lakes and wild forests to await the collapse of American society, when they’ll assert control over what remains. But in recent years, the state’s existing separatists have been joined by conservatives fleeing bluer Western states, opportunistic faith leaders, real-estate developers and, most recently, those opposed to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccines. Though few arrived carrying Christian nationalist banners, many have quickly adopted aspects of the ideology to advance conservative causes and seek strength in unity. The origin of North Idaho’s relationship with contemporary Christian nationalism can be traced to a 2011 blog post published by survivalist author James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is his addition). Titled ‘The American Redoubt — Move to the Mountain States,’ Rawles’ 4,000-word treatise called on conservative followers to pursue ‘exit strategies’ from liberal states and move to ‘safe havens’ in the American Northwest — specifically Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and eastern sections of Oregon and Washington. He dubbed the imagined region the ‘American Redoubt’ and listed Christianity as a pillar of his society-to-be.” • I don’t think any state in the American Redoubt has nuclear weapons. Fortunately.
“WA lawmakers work to keep public records from the public — again” [CrossCut (PI)]. “This is the untold story about how the Washington Legislature has spent more than 15 years trying to consolidate its power in an effort to make sure it can keep secrets from the public. The way Washington lawmakers are refusing to share the content of their own emails, texts and memos – despite a state law requiring their disclosure – is not a new concept. When questioned about their use of a legislative privilege – which has not yet been granted to them by the courts or in state law – House and Senate leaders go back in history to a centuries-old practice from England. Legislative privilege is a concept in at least 43 other states, they say, and it is grounded in the Washington Constitution’s Freedom of Debate clause.” • “Legislative privilege? Huh? A long and detailed account.
Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!
• Readers, since the national data systems in the United States are being vandalized, let’s start collecting links to state data, too. If readers would send me links (see Plant below) to their favorite State and local dashboards/wastewater sites, that would be great. Canadians, too! Or leave a link in Comments.
Resources, United States (Local): CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OR (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, RL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)
• More like this, please! Total:
1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27/50 (54% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!
Look for the Helpers
If a hospital or clinic tries to force you to take off your N95 and replace it with one of their crap surgical masks, here is a thread that explains what you can do:
This is from the top, the CDC.
Show this to the person.
“allow the use of a clean mask or respirator with higher level protection by people”
Source for the article is here:https://t.co/fIBRuAPLK2
The link to the CDC source is in there.
Dear hospital employee, if not pic.twitter.com/0tCxKOZb4V
— Lazarus Long (@LazarusLong13) September 13, 2022
I don’t regard the CDC as a reliable authority, but the HCWs might, so for tactical purposes…
Covid Is Airborne
“Thanks to saliva, infectious coronavirus particles linger twice as long in drier air” (press release) [EurekAlert]. “[A]irborne particles carrying a mammalian coronavirus closely related to the virus which causes COVID-19 remain infectious for twice as long in drier air, in part because the saliva emitted with them serves as a protective barrier around the virus, especially at low humidity levels. The study carries major implications for not only the current COVID-19 pandemic, but potentially for all infectious diseases transmitted by saliva-coated viruses. The research also further emphasizes the importance of managing indoor air filtration and ventilation to mitigate airborne disease spread, especially for buildings in arid states such as Colorado, dry enclosed environments like airplane cabins and during dry winter months in temperate climates worldwide.” • Hmm. I’m not sure how to mitigate this. Humidifiers? Do any readers use them? (Wood stoves and steam heat make the indoor air pretty dry too, at least in New England, which is why I leave a lot of water on top of them…).
“Air changes per hour, Flow per person, Flow per area. What is the right metric for clean air?” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. “Measuring the amount of clean air begins with determining a clean air delivery rate (CADR) or non-infectious air delivery rate (NADR). … The danger of any airborne pollutant is related to the inhaled dose, which is directly correlated with the concentration of the pollutant in the air and the length of time spent inhaling it. The concentration of pollutants is influenced by the rate at which they are generated and removed. By increasing the rate at which pollutants are removed, either through ventilation, filtration or UV light, the concentration in the air is reduced, and the inhaled dose is decreased. If the pollutant is an infectious disease, reducing the inhaled dose will lower the risk of infection. The question then becomes, what CADR is required to reduce the concentration of airborne contaminants to acceptable levels? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as different contaminants and spaces require different levels of clean air.” • Well worth a read.
Angst among school parents; see the comments on the thread:
Same angst, but with more angst:
Welcome to the Third World, where you can’t discuss clean air in the schools without being hit by a power failure.
If the poster were not Dutch, I would say this was another example of American-style tinkering:
Again, I think replaceable filter shapes should be standardized, like safety razor blades. That will really help make a market for better masks. Manufacturers can compete on mask design and filter composition, without trying for “lock-in” — it never gets old, does it? — with proprietary filter shapes. After all, if standard filters make switching costs between replaceable masks low, that means you can take business away from your competitors, too!
“LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) Reviewed.” [The Technovore]. A powered mask with H13 HEPA graded filters. “I’m going right out and saying that the LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier (2nd Gen) is hands down the best mask I’ve used in the past few years. I’ve tried masks with valves, I’ve tried regular cloth masks, I’ve worn N94-rated masks…Hell, I’ve even work CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) masks during my NS training. Don’t forget, I also reviewed the Phillips Fresh Air Mask… .The mask is simply in a league of its own. The Face Guard secures your face really well and there’s a LOT of room inside that you’re never left feeling suffocated. Taking in deep breaths is no issue at all as there’s lot of room and the sensors in the mask automatically (more in this later) draw in as much air as you require.” • This (by no means a product endorsement) looks like very interesting technology. The battery works for eight hours, so you’d need three for a really long-haul flight.
All the elites ultimately did this, globally. China too:
When the levels of cholera infection in London became dangerously high, we did everything—and I mean everything—we could to make them low by changing the threshold for what’s considered “high.”
— Neoliberal John Snow (@NeoliberalSnow) February 27, 2023
BioBot wastewater data from February 27:
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.
• How many infections are reinfections:
So many fascinating things here in the percentage of infections that are confirmed reinfections in the UK. pic.twitter.com/lj16Op64hw
— tern (@1goodtern) February 25, 2023
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 28:
-1.0%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,145,415 –
1,144,368 = 1047 (1047 * 365 = 382,155 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). Big jump because I missed yesterday.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)
Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States fell for a second consecutive month to 43.6 in February of 2023 from 44.3 in January. Figures came lower than market forecasts of 45, pointing to another contraction in economic activity in the Chicago region, which extended for a sixth straight month.”
Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics].
Transport: “Union Pacific CEO to leave after push from activist shareholder” [CNN]. “Union Pacific shares jumped 10% in premarket trading Monday after the railroad company announced CEO Lance Fritz, 60, will leave the company by year-end, following a call by an activist hedge fund for his ouster. Union Pacific just reported a record profit for the second straight year. But the hedge fund, Soroban Capital Partners, put out a statement saying that Fritz had lost the confidence of ‘shareholders, employees, customers, and regulators.’ UNP’s total shareholder return has been the worst in the industry,’ said Soroban’s letter to the board. ‘Among all S&P 500 companies, UNP is rated by employees as the worst place to work and has the lowest employee CEO approval rating (ranked 500th out of 500 in both),’ said the letter. And it said that the Surface Transportation Board, one of the regulators of freight railroads, ranked Union Pacific as providing the worst service among the major railroads.” • So the activists like the profits of Precision Scheduled Railroading, just not the inevitable consequences: Bad labor relations and customer dissatisfaction. I guess we will see if the new CEO can square that circle.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 28 at 12:21 PM ET.
Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!
— Barnes Collection (@the_barnes_bot) February 27, 2023
Reminds me of this, for some reason:
— Claude Monet (@artistmonet) February 27, 2023
Different styles, though!
Groves of Academe
“The End of the English Major” [The New Yorker]. “‘Young people are very, very concerned about the ethics of representation, of cultural interaction—all these kinds of things that, actually, we think about a lot!’ Amanda Claybaugh, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education and an English professor, told me last fall. She was one of several teachers who described an orientation toward the present, to the extent that many students lost their bearings in the past. ‘The last time I taught ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ I discovered that ,’ she said. ‘Their capacities are different, and the nineteenth century is a long time ago.’” • Why not just say they can’t read?
“Hamstrung by ‘golden handcuffs’: Diversity roles disappear 3 years after George Floyd’s murder inspired them” [NBC]. • That didn’t take long.
Class and cultural markers:
ive mentioned this story before but one time i was standing in line at the grocery store while wearing a margiela jacket like this and an actual tradesman in a genuine pair of paint-splattered coveralls looked at me, smiled, and asked “hard day at work?”
i wanted to die pic.twitter.com/L13zDBYTCI
— derek guy (@dieworkwear) February 28, 2023
News of the Wired
“iPad dispute on train: Man blasts ‘Friends’ sitcom in quiet section, disturbing woman at work” [FOX]. The woman’s tactic: “The woman on Reddit wrote that it ‘was so bizarre and annoying, but my friend just gestured for me to stay calm and leave it. So I closed my laptop and started watching with him. And commenting…. The woman said that as she now watched along with the man, she said to him, ‘Omg, I love this bit!’ She also said to him, ‘Watch the next part, it’s soooooo funny.’ She said she continued her running commentary, also saying to him, ‘Oh, is this the one where X happens?’” • Which worked; the dude flounced off. He got off easy, in my book. The quiet car is the quiet car.
“A Visit to Third Man Records Reveals the Remarkably Analog Process of Cutting Vinyl Records” (video) [Colossal]. “From adding the finicky lacquer coating to etching the matrix number by hand, the undertaking requires at least 14 steps before the album is packed and shipped, and each record passes through numerous sets of hands on the production floor. As the music industry becomes increasingly digital, the cutting process remains remarkably analog. ‘Vinyl is in the real world. It’s not something that exists only on your computer or your phone. It’s three-dimensional,’ says one of the pressing plant’s engineers.”
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 CanCyn:
CanCyn writes: “Our snow covered vegetable plot. The rain barrel to the left is not a mistake, I included on purpose. We have a little system that pumps water from the rain barrels at the house to this one. At the back you can see my half finished pseudo wattle fence. Iron posts and saplings (from clearing woods for paths) instead of willow.”
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!