2:00PM Water Cooler 11/30/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Wastewater stans, there’s an extensive review of CDC’s new NWSS site in the Covid Cases section, under the Biobot charts. Enjoy! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Screamer, Sucre, Colombia. Lots going on!

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Politics

“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 Administration

“Bombenomics: Biden admin circulates map showing states that benefit from Ukraine aid” [Politico]. “Battleground states Pennsylvania and Arizona are reaping billions of dollars from Washington’s efforts to arm Ukraine, according to a graphic the Biden administration has circulated on Capitol Hill…. POLITICO reported last month that the White House was switching up its messaging after running into continued resistance on Capitol Hill, after determining that selling the war funding effort based on national security wasn’t changing minds.” •

The Supremes

“The new SCOTUS Code of Conduct” [SCOTUSblog]. “There are things to like about the Code of Conduct that the Supreme Court promulgated earlier this month. It is a bona fide code of conduct—one that, in the main, tracks the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. It follows the same structure, features the same five canons, and includes most of the same provisions that are worded in the same way…. And it is not fair to condemn the new code as toothless because it includes no enforcement mechanism. That said, there are some problematic differences between the new SCOTUS Code and the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges…. The new code does not impose a duty to ‘be faithful to…the law,’ as required by Canon 3(A)(1) of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. It is possible that this duty was thought redundant of the Canon 2(A) obligation to ‘respect and comply with the law’ (which the court retained). The obligation to respect and comply with the law, however, concerns the duty to abide by the law in a judge’s daily life, while the duty to be faithful to the law concerns a duty to uphold and apply the law when deciding cases. For justices under increased fire for ideological, partisan-seeming decision-making, the optics of the court exempting itself from a duty to uphold and apply the law is unfortunate….. The new SCOTUS Code qualifies the statutory duty to disqualify when a justice’s ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned’ by adding language interpreting it to mean that ‘an unbiased and reasonable person who is aware of all relevant circumstances would doubt that the Justice could fairly discharge his or her duties.’ While consistent with interpretive precedent, this clause is cherry-picked to omit guidance that the ‘reasonable person’ is not a judge but an outside observer, who is less inclined than a judge to credit the judge’s impartiality. ”

2024

Less than a year to go!

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“Appeals court reinstates gag order that barred Trump from maligning court staff in N.Y. fraud trial” [Boston Globe]. “A New York appeals court Thursday reinstated a gag order that barred Donald Trump from commenting about court personnel after he continually disparaged a law clerk in his New York civil fraud trial. The one-sentence decision from a four-judge panel came two weeks after an individual appellate judge had put the order on hold while the appeals process played out. Trial judge Arthur Engoron, who imposed the gag order, said he now planned to enforce it ‘rigorously and vigorously.’” • I don’t know if you’ve read Frank Herbert’s wonderful The Dosadi Experiment, where the legal system constructed by the frog people, the Gowachin, permits anyone in “the Courtarena” to be killed, including judges, lawyers, and, of course, clerks. Trump seems to think he’s on the planet of the frog people, not planet Earth. Leave the staff alone, ffs. They shouldn’t be players!

“Judge and clerk in Trump civil fraud trial have received hundreds of ‘serious and credible’ threats” [CNN]. “Since October 3, when Trump posted on social media a baseless allegation about Judge Arthur Engoron’s law clerk, threats against the judge ‘increased exponentially’ and were also directed to his clerk, according to Charles Hollon, a court officer-captain in New York assigned to the Judicial Threats Assessment unit of the Department of Public Safety, who signed a sworn statement. Hollon said the threats against the judge and his clerk are ‘considered to be serious and credible and not hypothetical or speculative.’”

“Bid to hold Trump accountable for Jan. 6 violence stalls at appeals court” [Politico]. “A federal appeals court mulling Donald Trump’s legal liability for Jan. 6 violence is approaching a conspicuous anniversary of inaction. Nearly a year ago, the court considered three lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and members of Congress accusing Trump and his allies of inciting the attack that threatened their lives and the government they were sworn to protect. But their efforts to hold Trump accountable have languished. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals typically decides cases within four months of oral arguments, but the trio of Trump lawsuits has been sitting on the court’s docket with no ruling since they were argued last December.”

“Genius or Suicide” [Judith Butler, London Review of Books (Acacia)]. From 2019, still germane. “I have offered no more than a dream sequence of my own. It may be that shame and guilt has suffused all he has ever felt. The jury is out. My wager/dream is that he would rather die than pause to feel the shame that passes through him and is externalised as destruction and rage. If he ever registers shame, it may be only in that briefest moment just as it turns outwards, to be expelled into the world around him. It can never properly be lived as his own, because his psychic structure is built to block it – a gigantic task. If in the end shame ever turns back on him, it would – according to the rules of his psychic playbook – be a suicidal submission. Expect then a very long and loud howl, as he launches a climactic accusation against the whole world. Let us hope that by then he has been deprived of his access to military power.” • Wild stuff, especially considering that Trump started zero (0) wars, and Biden started at least one (1).

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“Can the Anti-Trump Coalition Hold?” [The Bulwark]. “A lot can change in a year but the electorate is shifting, and the anti-MAGA coalition is splintering. Trump leads Biden in national polling and swing state polling. Biden’s overall approval hovers around 39 percent, nowhere near what is required for an incumbent to win a second term, and the numbers on his management of the economy—the number one issue—are worse… So who are the voters being newly persuaded by Trump? These potential new swing voters are not MAGA, they aren’t pumped for the release of the J6 tapes, and they don’t give a passing thought to the outrages of Hunter Biden. They are nonwhite, young, and independent, and they trust Trump more on the economy, foreign policy, and immigration. While a second term of Trump will destroy democracy and potentially destabilize the entire world, these Americans either don’t know that, don’t believe it, or don’t care.” In word: Deplorables. More: “[T]hus far, it doesn’t appear the need to protect democracy is keeping together the voting bloc Biden needs to block Trump. Pollster Stanley Greenberg concluded the Democracy Corps Battleground Survey findings show those issues won’t bring Democrats home. ‘That is a dangerous strategy when the base of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden,’ he wrote.” • Yikes!

“Black Voters Are Drifting Away from Democrats. Will That Hurt Biden in SC?” [Politico]. “Three years after Donald Trump pulled about 8 percent of the Black vote nationally, polling this month by The New York Times and Siena College of six battleground states found his support had bumped up to 22 percent of the Black electorate if the election were held today. Other polls looked even worse for the Democrats; a national poll by CNN registered Trump’s support among Black voters at 23 percent, while an earlier Fox News poll put it at 26 percent. Those are jaw-dropping numbers for a demographic that, traditionally, has been the Democratic Party’s most reliable voting bloc. And it’d be bad enough for the Democratic Party if the erosion of Black support was strictly about Biden or the likely Republican nominee, former President Trump. Among the Democrats meeting here, there was general and disquieting agreement that Trump’s appeal is only part of the reason for the erosion of Black support. Jeremy Jones, a Democratic Party official from Lexington County, said some Black people who saw Trump’s name on stimulus checks in 2020 tell him, ‘At least he got something done for the Black community.’ …. [Jay Parmley, the executive director of the state party’s] concern, shared by many Democrats, is not so much that Black voters will migrate to Trump in significant numbers, but that, when November 2024 comes around, some might simply not turn out to vote. And there’s a lot of evidence to back that concern. Turnout among Black voters in the midterm elections last year dropped off nearly 10 percentage points from 2018.” • Hmm. The same erosion was evident in 2016. Democrat being Democrats, nothing has been done.

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“Team Biden’s great double quarter pounder ‘misinformation’ campaign” [Washington Examiner]. “On Sept. 20, Politico published an article headlined ‘Biden’s campaign set to counterpunch on misinformation.’ The story reported that President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign is ‘overhauling’ its strategy to fight ‘misinformation’ on social media. The new effort includes ‘recruiting hundreds of staffers and volunteers to monitor platforms.’ To supervise the work, the campaign hired a former Biden White House staffer named Rob Flaherty, who was described as a ‘bulldog’ and a ‘controversial figure’ whose ‘combative emails to social media firms have become part of a Republican-led federal court case and a congressional investigation.’… The federal court case is Missouri v. Biden, a landmark COVID-era case involving government censorship of social media. Discovery in the case brought revelations that the Biden White House and other Biden administration officials, working with outside activist groups, ‘held biweekly meetings with tech companies over how to curb the spread of misinformation during the pandemic,’ with Flaherty ‘in constant contact with social media executives,’ in the words of the Wall Street Journal editorial page…. An important fact to remember is that Flaherty and his colleagues weren’t just targeting misinformation. Many of the postings they sought to ban were “scientifically debatable,” in the Wall Street Journal’s words. . And now Flaherty has a new role at the Biden 2024 campaign.” • Flaherty got a promotion! That’s nice. (Fascinating to imagine that the efforts described in Missouri v. Biden are the PMC’s operational definition of “scientific communication.”

“Hunter Biden Art Buyer Advocated for Her Grandniece’s Release From Hamas Captivity” [RealClearInvestigations]. “The American kidnap victim released by the terrorist group Hamas during its ongoing ceasefire with Israel is a great-niece of Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, a major Democratic party donor who paid handsomely for Hunter Biden’s art and won an appointment to a plum cultural post from President Biden…. While noting that the Biden administration has worked with Qatari and Egyptian mediators to free all the hostages, a senior administration official told RealClearInvestigations that ‘U.S. officials insisted that Abigail be included on an early list as well as the other two Americans in this category [of women and children].’ ‘The President raised Abigail in nearly all of his phone calls with counterparts as well as with the Amir of Qatar on Saturday,’ the official said, adding that ‘U.S. officials have also remained in close touch with Abigail’s family members including those the President spoke with on Sunday,’ the day Abigail was returned from Gaza to Israel…. Republican House members have been investigating possible connections between Hirsh Naftali’s art buying and her government appointment to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad since July. In a letter that month to Hirsh Naftali, Oversight Committee chairman James Comer of Kentucky said, ‘Your position on the Commission is particularly suspicious because of Hunter Biden’s previous actions to elevate his business partner—Eric Schwerin—to the same post while his father was Vice President.’” • Lovely. A cheap grift, right in the middle of a hostage negotiation. ‘Twas ever thus?

“Biden’s polling is in more dangerous territory than Obama’s in 2011” [NBC]. “There’s one big problem with all the talk comparing President Joe Biden’s standing in the 2023 polls with Barack Obama’s in 2011. Biden’s current numbers are in more dangerous territory for an incumbent than Obama’s ever were at this same point in time. For one thing, Obama held a consistent lead over GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in the polls — minus a few exceptions immediately after the debt-ceiling crisis — until that first general-election debate…. What’s more, our same November 2011 poll had Obama ahead of a generic Republican, versus our November 2023 poll showing Biden trailing a generic Republican by double digits.”

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“Top Ramaswamy aide leaves to join Trump campaign” [CNN]. “Brian Swensen formally resigned from his role as national political director for the Ramaswamy campaign over the weekend and has joined the Trump campaign, a source familiar with his departure told CNN. Swensen is expected to be working on the campaign’s political operation in the early-voting states, specifically in Nevada, two Trump campaign sources told CNN. Swensen’s departure is the latest indicator of Ramaswamy’s stagnating campaign, which has struggled to gain momentum even as the candidate closely aligns himself with Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination. Earlier this month, Brandon Goodyear, the Ramaswamy team’s videographer, stepped away from the campaign, a source familiar with the departure told CNN.” • So, videographers are leading indicators?

* * *

“DeSantis to debate California Gov. Gavin Newsom tonight” [Axios]. • Can’t they both lose?

“Haley and DeSantis are relying more on outside campaign groups with time running out to stop Trump” [Associated Press]. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are increasingly outsourcing central parts of their campaigns, drawing on the growing urgency of Donald Trump opponents to find a single alternative to the former president. Struggling to energize his campaign, DeSantis this week privately encouraged his donor network to support a newly formed super PAC that’s taking over advertising responsibilities. That’s after a leadership shakeup at the pro-DeSantis super PAC that for months has been handling the bulk of both his advertising and his get-out-the-vote operation. At the same time, Haley’s self-described ‘scrappy’ political campaign, which has never enjoyed the same level of funding or manpower as DeSantis’ operation, won the support of the the Koch network, the largest conservative grassroots organization in the nation. By week’s end, scores of Koch-backed activists are expected to begin advocating on Haley’s behalf at the doorsteps of tens of thousands of Republican primary voters. The extraordinary reliance on independent groups for the two Republicans who increasingly appear to be Trump’s closest challengers is testing the practical and legal limits of modern-day presidential campaigns.”

“Nikki Haley’s home-state strategy faces a hitch: South Carolina is Trump country” [NBC]. “Nikki Haley sees her home state as a launchpad. It could become her campaign’s crash site…. So far, she hasn’t made the sale. That’s at least in part because Haley has yet to give voters a reason to abandon Trump — the dominant political figure in the state for almost a decade — a recurring theme that emerged in interviews with almost two dozen Republican voters, current and former elected officials, county party chairs and Republican strategists. The same can be said for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of a field that Trump leads by more than 30 percentage points in recent polls of the state’s Feb. 24 primary…. Haley is looking to reconnect with voters who haven’t seen her on a ballot since 2014. She hosted a well-attended town hall meeting Monday in Beaufort, her first event in the state in almost a month. It came on the heels of Trump’s highly-publicized visit to Saturday’s marquee football game between the University of South Carolina and Clemson, a free media bonanza for the former president. Even though Trump received a mix of cheers and jeers, the dueling appearances served as a reminder of his ability to block out the sun — or the state’s favorite daughter — at a moment’s notice. For Haley to win, she’ll have to sway a large portion of voters who find her appealing even though they currently back Trump.” • I keep coming up to stature. Love Trump or hate him, he seems built to a different scale, even a gargantuan one.

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“Scoop: No Labels abandons its in-person presidential convention” [Axios]. “No Labels — the bipartisan group plotting a third-party presidential bid — is pulling the plug on its Dallas convention next spring and will instead conduct its ‘selection process virtually,’ Axios has learned… No Labels’ previous plan was to use the period between Super Tuesday on March 5 and the Dallas convention that had been set for April 14-15 to listen to supporters and then make a final decision on whether to launch a third-party ticket.” • So they’re pushing the decision off, putting them on the volatility side of the stability v. volatility dichotomy.

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“West says third party critics have ‘good reason to be afraid’” [The Hill]. “Independent presidential candidate Cornel West said Tuesday critics of a third-party ticket have a ‘good reason to be afraid.’ ‘I think they have good reason to be afraid because anybody who wants to speak the truth, when you have a regime in power that denies the truth, anybody who seeks justice, who runs away from justice, they ought to be afraid,’ West said on Fox News on Tuesday. ‘But that’s for the Republican Party and that’s for the Democratic Party.’”

2020 Post Mortem

“Court filing reveals Rep. Scott Perry’s vast web of contacts in bid to reverse 2020 election” [Politico]. “The newly disclosed documents reveal an extraordinary web of communications between Perry, who is now the chair of the House Freedom Caucus, and key figures in Trump’s orbit…. the exchanges with DOJ’s [Jeff] Clark — described in Smith’s federal indictment of Trump as one of six unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators in an effort to subvert the 2020 election — are perhaps the most revealing. Clark, then a low-profile figure who oversaw the Justice Department’s civil litigation in the final months of the presidential term, was introduced to Trump by Perry amid Trump’s effort to remain in office. Trump came close to appointing Clark as acting attorney general in the early days of 2021 before backing down amid a mass resignation threat by senior DOJ and White House officials. During this time, Clark pressured top DOJ officials to send a letter to state legislatures urging them to consider sending alternate slates of presidential electors to Congress, and he obtained a security clearance to review intelligence about potential foreign efforts to interfere in the election. Perry indicated in one newly disclosed exchange that Trump had personally approved a ‘presidential security clearance,’ a comment that followed Clark asking Perry to ensure that Trump was aware that CIA Director Gina Haspel needed to supply him with ‘security clearance tickets’ to access intelligence related to the 2020 election.’” And: “Many of the documents connected to the case had been kept under seal. But on Wednesday, the D.C. Circuit unsealed them — including a lower court’s opinion that described and quoted from a large volume of the very text messages that Smith has been seeking. By Wednesday evening, the unsealed opinion appeared to have been removed from the court’s public docket, suggesting it may have been posted inadvertently.” • Oops?

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.

* * *

“Hollywood Goes Home: How Celebrity Endorsements Are Helping Dems Win Down Ballot” [The Messenger]. “In towns across the nation, there is that person – the kid who made it big, starred in some movies, became an action hero, maybe even won some awards. What if that person told you about an upcoming local election? Or a candidate who you should consider supporting? They are famous, sure, but they are more than that: They are your town’s famous person, someone with local credibility because they know what it’s like to grow up where you did. That’s the theory behind The Hometown Project, an progressive effort that looks to pair celebrities with candidates for state legislature, school board, or other local offices from the areas they grew up in. The goal is to use their local celebrity to increase voter engagement, educate voters on the upcoming election, and support Democratic candidates in often overlooked and underfunded campaigns. The theory is simple: The Hometown Project works with local organizations to find competitive races in key states, then uses its network to ask celebrities from those areas to tape short videos either urging people to vote or endorsing a specific candidate. The group then runs those videos as digital ads targeted to key voters in the district it is looking to win.”• What is is with “progressives” and celebrities?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Anthony Fauci to Testify in House on Covid-19 Pandemic’s Origins, U.S. Response” [Wall Street Journal]. “The arrangements for Fauci’s testimony are extensive. They will begin with two days of transcribed interviews behind closed doors in January. A public hearing, which is expected to be contentious, will be held at a later date…. In a letter to Fauci today, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R., Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, said the committee and Fauci’s team had agreed Fauci would give a transcribed interview on Jan. 8 and 9 for seven hours each day. The letter states that two government lawyers and two personal attorneys can accompany Fauci at those sessions, which won’t be public. The date for the public hearing hasn’t yet been set. Wenstrup and other House Republicans, citing email exchanges, have charged that Fauci worked with other scientists to play down the possibility of a lab leak in a seminal March 2020 scientific article, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” in the journal Nature Medicine.” • And the spooks worked right alone with Fauci (said Kristian Andersen; too lazy to find the link). I wonder if they will be questioned too? Or whether Fauci will try to drag them in?

#COVID19

“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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Covid is Airborne

Novid success:

Takes discipline.

Maskstravaganza

I’m all for probiotics, garlic, ginger, etc., but holy moley! #CovidIsAirborne!

Some ventilation people really ought to evangelize the Mommy Blogs…..

“Habitual Mask Wearing as Part of COVID-19 Control in Japan: An Assessment Using the Self-Report Habit Index” [Behavioral Sciences]. N = 2640. “Although the Japanese government removed mask-wearing requirements in 2023, relatively high rates of mask wearing have continued in Japan. We aimed to assess psychological reasons and the strength of habitual mask wearing in Japan…. A regression analysis examined the association between psychological reasons and the frequency of mask wearing. The habitual use of masks was assessed in the participant’s most frequently visited indoor space and public transport using the self-report habit index. The principal component analysis with varimax rotation revealed distinct habitual characteristics. Among the 2640 participants surveyed from 6 to 9 February 2023, only 4.9% reported not wearing masks at all. Conformity to social norms was the most important reason for masks. Participants exhibited a slightly higher degree of habituation towards mask wearing on public transport compared to indoor spaces. The mask-wearing rate was higher in females than in males, and no significant difference was identified by age group. Daily mask wearing in indoor spaces was characterized by two traits (automaticity and behavioral frequency). A high mask-wearing frequency has been maintained in Japan during the social reopening transition period. Mask wearing has become a part of daily habit, especially on public transport, largely driven by automatic and frequent practice.”

Immune Dysregulation

“What we know about risk of a ‘triple-demic’ this respiratory virus season” [National Post]. “One recent study suggested COVID-19 infections may have been a driving force for the 2022 surge in RSV infections among children five and under, possibly because of the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on a child’s immune and respiratory systems.” • Remarkably, no mention of so-called “immunity debt.”

Testing and Tracking

A very long thread on testing:

“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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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, November 27:

Lambert here: Case counts moving smartly upward (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition).

Regional data:

That Midwest near-vertical curve is concerning, although as ever with Biobot you have to watch for backward revisions.

• “CDC revamps wastewater COVID data reporting” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently unveiled new wastewater data tracking dashboard to make it easier to track local and national trends, even by variant. Wastewater tracking is one of the early indicators health officials use to gauge the activity of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses. Called the National Wastewater Surveillance Program [NWSS], the main page says that, nationally, wastewater viral activity of COVID is high. On Twitter (X), Niall Brennan, MPP, senior adviser to the CDC’s director, said the makeover was done over a 4-week period by a team informally called “Poo’s Clues.” He added that the goal was to reimagine how to present the data and improve the visualizations, which were previously underwhelming. Wastewater tracking users can now see national trends in 1-year, 6-month, and 45-day increments and examine regional and local trends. The new portal also has maps showing wastewater viral activity levels and shows shifts in variants over time. ‘It was fun and fast paced and my thanks to the incredible team at CDC who willingly ripped up the rule book in the process of making this incredible resource more accessible to a wider audience. Much more to come!,’ Brennan said.” • Hopefully. CDC being CDC, the old wastewater page does not refer to the new. Confusingly, CDC being CDC, the main NWSS page (updated November 29) has a near-useless chart (compare to BioBot’s). I’ll start with the national data, then regional (Midwest, because levels are high there), then Minnesota. I have helpfully annotated and added notes to each chart. At the national level:

“Near useless,” as I said. NOTES [1] “FromDB”? Who let that slip through? [2] The color scale doesn’t seem to relate to anything. [3] The chart truncates the course of the pandemic, beginning only in January 2022, which is flat-out ridiculous.

The clickthrough regional page chart (updated November 25) is more useful, and shows the concerning spike in the Midwest:

NOTES [1] There is no color scale. The national and regional charts should be consistent. [2] “Select a geography” isn’t English; replace with “Select a region.” Also, explain which region, using (one assumes) the same terminology as the CDC variant chart.

The second level of clickthrough (updated November 25), for national, state, and regional data, is even more useful, and shows a really concerning near-vertical in Minnesota:

NOTES [1] The gray shading is a good feature! [2] Presumably an oblique reference to the Biobot lawsuit. [3] There is no Level indicator (“High”, or whatever), whether accompanied by a color scale or not.

Lambert here, overall comments: (1) Three clickthroughs is dumb. Consolidate to one chart on the main page. (2) Institutionally, it looks like three teams were at work, one per chart, and their work was incompletely integrated, as shown by inconsistencies in the Level indicators and color scale, and the massive typo on the national chart. So whatever org chart debacle produced that result should be fixed. (3) The cadence with which the data is refreshed is nowhere documented. (4) Regional names should be consistent with CDC variants, e.g. (5) “All Results” (national chart) should mean just that: Data for the entire course of the pandemic (so integrate the [family-blogging] Biobot data ffs, if that’s what it takes). As matters stand, it looks like CDC is trying to erase the first two years of the pandemic — including the Biden Administration’s enormous Omicron spike — and that’s not a good look. (Also, I checked the Verily site, and it seems as horrid as ever. Perhaps they were part of the CDC NWSS development team, I don’t know.)

Variants

NOT UPDATED From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, but BA.2.86 coming up fast on the outside.

From CDC, November 11:

Lambert here: 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, November 25:

Lambert here: Slight increases in some age groups, conforming to wastewater data. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

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. 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.

• Here is a completely unserious review from Mother Jones (you just read a serious review [lambert blushes modestly]).

Hospitalization

Bellwether New York City, data as of November 30:

Up. Level-ish, but I bet hospitalization drops over the holiday weekend. Let’s wait and see. New York state as a whole looks more like a spike. (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 18:

Lambert here: “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†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?

Positivity

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, November 27:

0.4%. Up. (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.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, November 25:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, November 6:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 6:

BA.2.86 coming along nicely.

Deaths

Total: 1,183,664 – 1,183,455 = 209 (209 * 365 = 76,285 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). 

Lambert here: This number is too small no matter what. Iowa Covid19 Tracker hasn’t been updated since September 27, 2023. I may have to revert to CDC data. Yech.

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, November 18:

Lambert here: Gonna have to whack this, too. How does an automated model not update? Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to 218,000 in the week ending November 25th, an increase from the revised number of 211,000 reported in the previous week but slightly below market expectations of 220,000. Meanwhile, continuing claims surged by 86,000 to 1.927 million in the prior week, marking the highest level since November 2021 and hinting at a softening labor market. ”

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.2% month-over-month in October 2023, the least in four months, and matching market forecasts.”

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Tech: Zuckerberg is not a nice person at all:

Tech: “Google to pay Canada’s ‘link tax,’ drops threat of removing news from search” [Ars Technica]. “Google has agreed to pay Canadian news businesses $100 million a year to comply with the country’s Online News Act, despite previously saying it would remove Canadian news links from search rather than make the required payments. Google and government officials agreed to a deal that lets Google negotiate with a single news collective and reduce its overall financial obligation. Facebook owner Meta is meanwhile holding firm in its opposition to payments. ‘Google will contribute $100 million in financial support annually, indexed to inflation, for a wide range of news businesses across the country, including independent news businesses and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities,’ Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St-Onge said in a statement today. The $100 million in Canadian currency is worth about $74 million in US currency. Before today’s deal, the federal government estimated that Google would have to pay $172 million a year.” • Chump change! What Google should be paying is whatever the newspaper industry made before Google gutted it.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 30 at 1:32:29 PM ET.

News of the Wired

“On Pneumatic Tires” [Scope of Work]. “The invention of the wheel is often put forward as a pinnacle of human ingenuity, but it strikes me that the defining characteristic of modern transportation systems is not the wheel but the pneumatic tire. In the United States, vehicles with tires carry twice as much freight as vehicles without them. Tires have an outsized role in individual transportation: The vast majority of Americans commute on tires, outweighing all other modes by about fourteen to one. Tires are on our lawnmowers, those iconic symbols of twentieth-century middle-class independence, and they’re on our e-scooters, perhaps the zenith of twenty-first century globalization and consumerism. The tire’s meteoric rise might have surprised nineteenth-century observers of the wheel, which took millennia to penetrate (and shape) human culture. Wheels emerged in various forms between 3000 and 4000 BCE. Yet even in spite of its obvious utility, wheeled transportation remained expensive, uncomfortable, and relatively rare well into the early modern period. Richard Bulliet writes that as late as 1570, the number of four-wheeled carriages in Britain ‘could be counted on one hand,’ and even in 1814 there was only one carriage for every 145 British inhabitants. By comparison, today Britain has about one car for every 1.6 people – and roughly half of Brits own or have access to a bicycle. Wrapped in leather and riveted to an iron ‘tyre,’ the first pneumatic tire came about fifteen years before the velocipede – the first widely successful bicycle. The tire was patented, evaluated positively by engineers, and then promptly forgotten. The popularity of bikes, cars, and wheeled transportation generally has much to do with the tire – and the popularity of the tire owes a lot to bikes and cars.” • Being able to fix punctures in my bicyle tires all by myself was a big step forward in autonomy for me as a child (as was the bicycle itself, of course).

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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 SC:

SC writes: “Photo taken in the drought stricken riparian woods of Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park in the middle of Houston, Texas. Edible and medicinal. Berries have a peppery, somewhat bitter taste.”

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