2:00PM Water Cooler 2/5/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak, Cedar Pass in the Warner Mountains, Modoc, California, United States. “Birds were vocalizing from top of coniferous trees, probably firs.”

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

The Constitutional Order (Invasion)

“The real border crisis: Texas vs. the Constitution” [FAIR]. “For a great many people, a Southern state invoking its ‘sovereignty’ over the federal government in defense of violent and inhumane policing of non-white people sounds eerily familiar to the foundation of the nation’s first civil war. And 25 other states are supporting Texas in defying the Supreme Court (USA Today, 1/26/24), although none of them are states that border Mexico.” Indeed (making Abbott, again, a far more effective and attractive Trump-replacement than DeSantis, whose high point on the issue was the Martha’s Vineyard stunt. More: “As noted, AP and the Washington Post haven’t completely ignored the story—although the Times, as of this writing, has more or less looked the other way. But as the right celebrates Abbott’s defiance and legal scholars worry about a constitutional crisis, the two big papers and the major wire service have clearly underplayed the standoff’s significance.” • Yep.


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Behind the Curtain: Trump’s conviction scenario” [Axios]. “Sources tell us Trump believes he’d likely be convicted if the Jan. 6 case comes to trial later this spring in Washington. If that’s delayed, he could face a guilty verdict in the Manhattan hush-money case. Trump thinks he could still win the White House — partly by making daily, theatrical appearances whenever courts are hearing his four cases, totaling 91 felony charges. But his advisers worry independents will be turned off by a conviction in a jury trial… We’re told Trump plans to attend his trials in person most days, as has been his recent practice for recent court proceedings. That by itself would mean a massive change in the rhythms of a presidential campaign: Nominees typically spend their days trying to sway voters, not jurors…. Trump feels certain the more voters think this is a political pile-on, the better he’ll do. So look for Trump to continue to groan, moan and bemoan — then hit the TV cameras parked outside…. Trump’s team feels certain that the indictments helped him own the GOP primary field. Each new set of charges brought a surge in donations, and a bump in polls.”

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Trump (R): “Why Can’t Biden Move to the Center?” [Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot]. “Given that 2024 is shaping up to be a working class-driven election, it seems like Biden would be well-advised to ignore political advice from the likes of [Jayapal] and her allies. But that’s the problem: it’s very hard for Biden to ignore these voices who both loom large in the party and strenuously resist any and all moves to the center. He’s under enormous pressure from the party’s left and ‘shadow party‘ (as John Judis and I have termed it) of activist groups, think tanks, foundations, publications and websites, big donors and prestigious intellectuals—college-educated all!—not to move in that direction.” The institutions created to destroy the left prevent Biden from moving left. More: “Biden should instead heed the words of veteran Democratic pollster, Stan Greenberg: ‘Trump is running an effective campaign that has deepened support among working-class voters in the primaries and the general election. He has shown he understands how angry people are about spiking prices, elites growing richer, rising violent crime and a flood of refugees. Biden’s approval rating, meanwhile, is stuck below 40 per cent….Yet the White House, pundits and progressive commentators are all trapped in the same elite bubble that keeps them from seeing what is happening to most Americans.’” • The “elite bubble” has a a name: “Our Democracy.”

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Haley (R): “Scoop: Nikki Haley’s fundraising takes off while GOP tries to end her campaign” [Axios]. “The Haley campaign has the money to keep her long-shot presidential bid alive, even as many leaders in her party have called for the GOP primary to come to an end. Haley raised $16.5 million in January, including $11.7 million from grassroots supporters, according to her campaign. Haley brought in more than $5 million in online grassroots donations the week after New Hampshire. She saw a surge in support after Trump threatened to bar any Haley donor from ‘MAGA camp.’… Haley has 10 fundraisers over the next two weeks in California, Florida, New York and Texas to continue to make her case to mega-donors who were key to her rise.”

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Biden (D): Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life:

“Forget No Labels. Biden’s Third-Party Peril is on the Left.” [Politico]. If Kennedy claims the Libertarian Party line, which he’s warming to, Jill Stein is the Green Party nominee and Cornel West gets on any battleground state ballots, they would combine to drain far more votes from Biden than from Trump. …. In these early days of the 2024 campaign, though, it’s the No Labels push to draft a centrist which has drawn more scorn, alarm and opposition research among Democrats. Yes, that’s partly because the party can try to shame Jacobson, who’s married to longtime Democratic strategist and liberal bete noire Mark Penn. They have considerably less leverage with a certified vaccine skeptic, Kennedy, to say nothing of the patchouli caucus, Stein and West. But it’s also because Democrats are still catching up to the possibility of their coalition unraveling over Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Are the well-organized hecklers bird-dogging Biden at nearly every speech going to turn to a candidate who once proposed a Muslim ban? Of course not. Yet this White House race, like the last two, is bound to be won on the margins, and Biden is at risk of losing critical younger and left-wing voters to third-party candidates or apathy…. ;People don’t understand how few votes [the third-party candidates] would need to take away,’ said Lis Smith, the hard-charging Democratic operative who has recently signed on with the DNC, in part to grab voters by the lapels about the threat at hand. ‘It’s the whole election.’” And then there’s Israel: “‘This is a disaster politically,’ said this House Democrat, who rarely criticizes Israel. ‘The base is really pissed — and it’s not just the leftists. I have never seen such a depth of anguish as I’ve seen over this Gaza issue. Bibi is toxic among many Democratic voters and Biden must distance himself from him — yesterday.’… A recent YouGov poll found 50 percent of self-described Biden voters called Israel’s attacks on Gaza ‘a genocide.’” • 50%? That’s a lot.

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SC: “Joe Biden wins South Carolina’s first-in-the-nation Democratic primary as campaign moves on” [Post and Courier]. “President Joe Biden’s South Carolina Democratic primary win did exactly what he wanted: Elevated the Black voters who helped put him in the White House four years ago while spurring his grander hope that history will repeat itself. Biden’s Feb. 3 victory in the Palmetto State came as The Associated Press declared him the winner 23 minutes after polls closed at 7 p.m. He finished the night with more than 96 percent of the 131,286 ballots cast, according to unofficial returns.”

SC: “Biden easily won South Carolina Democratic primary, but faced low voter turnout” [Greenville News]. “Author and former 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson saw a second-place finish with only 2.1% of the vote, while U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) only secured 1.7%.” But: “Overall, voter turnout was low in South Carolina at 4% with 131,870 votes cast. The Upstate was no exception with around 2-3% voter turnout in most counties in the region. Low voter turnout could impact South Carolina’s position in the primaries in 2028.” • Turnout in 2020 was “record-breaking.” Of course, there was a contest.

SC: “‘The weirdest campaign’: South Carolina delivers a win, but Biden still faces an uphill path” [Guardian]. “But interviews with voters during primary season in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have offered a reminder of an undeniable fact: Trump remains toxic to huge swaths of the American population. They will do anything to stop him. A criminal conviction between now and November may make them redouble their efforts. America’s racial divisions will be at the heart of it again. Christale Spain, the first Black woman elected as chair of South Carolina’s Democratic party, recalled in an interview that her state’s primary following the Iowa and New Hampshire contests in past cycles meant ‘.’” • For some definition of “correct.” After all, the South Carolina Democrat machine gave us Obama. Not content with that, they gave us Clinton. And not content with that, they gave us Biden.

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“The Dissatisfaction of Young Voters” [RealClearPolitics]. “Four years ago, Generation Z, or those born from 1997-2012, broke the record for young voter turnout. Their champion? Then-77-year-old Joe Biden. Four years later, less than 50% of 18-29 year-olds ‘definitely’ plan on voting, and only 33% of the age group approves of President Biden’s job performance. The pressing question is why an overwhelmingly liberal generation – just 21% of Gen Z adults are registered GOP voters – is hesitant to support the Democratic Party incumbent, especially when their alternative option is the deeply controversial former President Donald Trump. Gen Z poses a question in response: Why would we be eager to participate in a system that isn’t working for or with us? … Many left-wing Gen Z voters feel that Biden has underdelivered on the issues most important to them, including , gun control, abortion rights, the war in Gaza, mental health, climate change, and racial justice.”

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“The impact of generative AI in a global election year” [Brookings Institution]. “However, generative AI content has the potential to turbocharge campaigns designed to undermine democratic discourse by making content higher quality, more substantively distinct, and easier to mass produce than past information campaigns launched both domestically and as part of foreign influence operations. In these contexts, generative AI content can act more as an amplifier for the spread of disinformation. Previously, these efforts required coordination between multiple actors—or even an entire troll farm—and were somewhat discoverable due to their use of recycled photos or grammatically incorrect or repetitive messaging. Now, it is possible to create large volumes of distinct content, devoid of many of these prior errors, with just a few clicks of a button.” • Makes you long for the days of print, when it at least there was some friction….

Republican Funhouse

“Taylor Swift, Enemy of the People” [The Nation]. “With the Chiefs returning to the Super Bowl for a fourth time next Sunday, the specter of Taylor Swift’s becoming the best known superfan of a bona fide NFL dynasty would trigger an event horizon on an unparalleled scale in American pop culture. Still, it bears repeating that in what’s quaintly known as real life in our deranged republic of mass culture, all that’s really happening here is that an extremely famous pop star has been keeping company with a reasonably famous football player.” • “Keeping company” is delicately put. Anyhow, I can’t even. More–

“The Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory That Makes QAnon Look Sane” [American Greatness]. “If there’s one thing at which the fringe right excels, it’s coming up with conspiracy theories. Some of them are fascinating in their intricacy, whether right or wrong, while others can appear ludicrous and yet eventually prove themselves to be not too far off the mark from reality…. The theory involves one of the most popular celebrities in the world at the moment—pop singer Taylor Swift. It goes something like this: Swift, already an established leftist [liberal] who has shilled for Democrats and far-left political causes in the past, is preparing to be rolled out as a star-studded celebrity endorsement for Joe Biden (or whomever the Democrats nominate) this November. Taking advantage of her current popularity, from her recent Time Person of the Year award to her ongoing romance with NFL player Travis Kelce—which could culminate in an on-field proposal by Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs win the (rigged?) Super Bowl this year—Swift will command millions, perhaps even tens of millions, to vote for whoever she tells them to vote for, thus guaranteeing that Donald Trump will ‘lose’ again. And, just for good measure, even this theory includes some obscure references to George Soros in an attempt to promote the idea of grand collusion by the left to make this happen. As elaborate as it is nonsensical, this sounds like a third-grader’s idea of what it takes to win an election. Never mind the fact that celebrities have overwhelmingly endorsed and campaigned for Democrats for at least the last 60 years. After all, who could forget the star power that has been rolled out for Democrats in the past, such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Katy Perry, among others? How did that work out for Hillary Clinton again?”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“50 Years Of Home Rule: Despite Congressional Opposition, Non-Citizens In D.C. Celebrate Newly Gained Right To Vote” [DCist]. “Last February, the Republican-led House of Representatives (in which delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton had no vote for the District’s 700,000 residents) passed a measure to repeal the non-citizen voting law, with some arguing it would dilute the votes of citizens and potentially lead to foreign interference. In D.C., many called the move – which also sought to repeal a revision to D.C’s criminal code – an attempt to interfere in local affairs, a sentiment that some residents have felt for years. Former Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, warned his viewers that such a law would be a threat to the United States – though, with little mention of the history of non-citizen voting, particularly in the D.C. region. ‘We have tens of millions of illegal aliens… living in the United States, and our elections are determined by tens or hundreds of thousands of votes. So if they can all vote, we’re done,’ said Carlson. The Senate, however, chose not to follow the House’s move during the period of Congressional review. Ultimately, the bill to enfranchise non-citizens in D.C. became law, which Abel and its advocates say is a victory not just for immigrants but for the entirety of the District and its 50-year-old right to semi self-governance. ‘What the District is trying to do is to just make sure nobody in the District is left without some say in the local government. So it goes as far as it can go, short of statehood,’ [House DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton] told DCist/WAMU.” • Interesting precedent.

“Republican lawsuits challenge mail ballot deadlines. Could they upend voting across the country?” [Associated Press]. “Republicans are challenging extended mail ballot deadlines in at least two states in a legal maneuver that could have widespread implications for mail voting before the presidential election in November…. The suit challenges a Mississippi law that says absentee ballots in presidential elections will be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day and received within five days. It argues that Mississippi improperly extends the federal election beyond the election date set by Congress and that, as a result, ‘timely, valid ballots are diluted by untimely, invalid ballots.’… In North Dakota, a similar federal lawsuit against the state election director was filed by the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation on behalf of a county auditor, Mark Splonskowski, who cited what he said is a conflict between state and federal law. A court is expected to decide soon whether he has the legal right to bring the lawsuit.” • My lonely, dogged quest for paper ballots cast on a single day (a Federal holiday) continues. I opposed all efforts to move ballot casting and counting away from Election Day because (a) that reinforces partisan affiliation, the last thing we need, (b) means that late events do not affect the election, and (c) all voters should be casting their votes with the same information available to them. (These views are not directly addressed in the lawsuit.)

“Why a Recent Federal Lawsuit Filed by Republican Party Officials Challenging Mississippi’s Approach to Counting Ballots in Federal Elections Lacks Any Significant Chance of Success” [Justia]. “Here is the relevant background: Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution permit/direct states to provide for the times, places and manner for electing members of Congress and appointing presidential electors, but the Constitution also explicitly allows Congress to override state regulations of the timing of congressional elections and in a similar vein, with respect to presidential elector selection, to ‘determine the Time of chusing the Electors.’ Pursuant to this power, Congress has enacted a law providing for a uniform, national day to elect members of Congress and to choose presidential electors. That day, which we colloquially call ‘Election Day’ is (for congressional elections) the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every two even-numbered years (2 U.S.C. §§ 7, 1) and (for presidential elections) the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four even-numbered years (3 U.S.C. § 1)…. One way to explain why counting ballots after Election Day is permissible is that the counting of ballots is different from the actual voting for/ selection of members of Congress or presidential electors. (The plaintiffs themselves acknowledge this distinction insofar as the Complaint challenges Mississippi’s allowance of late ‘voting’ rather than late ‘counting.’) An Election Day deadline ordinarily does not mean that the identity of election winners must be known by 11:59 PM on Election Night, but instead only that the antecedent facts—who voted for whom—have to be locked into place by that time.”

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“American Greatness and Decline” [Joseph Nye, Project Syndicate]. “while Americans have long been drawn to what I call the ‘golden glow of the past,’ the US has never had the power many imagine it did. Even with preponderant resources, America has often failed to get what it wants. Those who think that today’s world is more complex and tumultuous than in the past should remember a year like 1956, when the US was unable to prevent Soviet repression of a revolt in Hungary; and when our allies Britain, France, and Israel invaded the Suez. To paraphrase the comedian Will Rogers, ‘hegemony ain’t what it used to be and never was.’ Periods of ‘declinism’ tell us more about popular psychology than about geopolitics. Still, the idea of decline clearly touches a raw nerve in American politics, making it reliable fodder for partisan politics. Sometimes, anxiety about decline leads to protectionist policies that do more harm than good. And sometimes, periods of hubris lead to overreaching policies such as the Iraq War. There is no virtue in either understatement or overstatement of American power.” • Fair enough. Still, I don’t think we’ve ever actually run out of ammo before.

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“Why political leaders are so unpopular now” [Financial Times]. “I track leaders’ approval ratings in 20 major democracies, using leading pollsters such as Morning Consult, Gallup and Compolítica. In the developed world, no leader has a rating above 50 per cent. Only one country (Italy) has seen its leader gain approval in the 2020s. At 37 per cent, Biden’s rating is at a record low for a US president late in his first term — but above average for his peers.” • From the Brookings Institute piece quoted above:

In 2024, a record number of countries will hold elections. Collectively, they are home to more than 41 percent of the world’s population and 42 percent of global GDP. Much like past elections, the online ecosystem will play a role in shaping the contours of these campaigns, but new developments have strained an already contested information space. One of these developments is the rapid advance of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which allows anyone to conjure up realistic images, video, audio, or text based on user-provided prompts or questions.

Making the Censorship Industrial Complex, which I assume is even now putting forth AI pseudopodia, a legitimating role not merely in the US, but globally.

“Could a Rogue Billionaire Make a Nuclear Weapon?” [Wall Street Journal]. “It would take as little as a billion dollars’ investment and five years to produce the first bomb, the [Office of Net Assessment] study concluded [in 2018]….. Not everyone I spoke with about the study agreed that billionaires could—or would want to—operate a nuclear weapons business. After all, Musk’s grandiosity led him to buy Twitter, not a uranium mine in Kazakhstan, and the Wagner Group, whose ultimate fate remains unclear, doesn’t appear to be pursuing nukes.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“Clean Air Delivery Rate Is All That Matters!” [Joey Fox, Medium]. :A clean air delivery rate (CADR) is the measurement of how quickly air that is free of a pollutant is supplied to a space. It is specified as a volume of air per unit of time. For example, it can be measured as cubic feet of clean air per minute (CFM), or liters of clean air per second (lps), or cubic meters of clean air per hour (m³/h). Because the amount of air supplied and removed from the space are the same, the CADR can also be thought of as the dirty air removal rate. Despite many marketing claims, the CADR is the only relevant measurement of air cleaner effectiveness. Unfortunately, not just air cleaner salespeople, but even academics and health experts are often mistaken on this issue. It needs to be addressed once and for all….. ‘The dose makes the poison.’ It’s a simple enough concept. Anything in quantities too low is harmless. Anything in quantities too high can be lethal. The same is true for air pollutants…. Reduce the dose by reducing the concentration. Reduce the concentration by increasing the removal rate. It’s that simple. When assessing the risk of the space from an air quality perspective, all that matters is the CADR.” • Well worth a read.


“Mucosal SARS-CoV-2 vaccination of rodents elicits superior systemic T central memory function and cross-neutralising antibodies against variants of concern” [The Lancet]. Mouse study. From the Discussion: “Here we tested an intranasal (I.N.) vaccination with the receptor binding domain of Spike antigen of SARS-CoV-2 (S-RBD) in combination with the mucosal adjuvant mastoparan-7 compared with the sub-cutaneous (S.C.) route, adjuvanted by either M7 or the gold-standard adjuvant, alum, in mice, for immunological read-outs. The same formulation delivered I.N. or S.C. was tested in hamsters to assess efficacy…. I.N. vaccination improved systemic T cell responses compared to an equivalent dose of antigen delivered S.C…..” • Monkeys exaggerate and mice lie. So, cum grano salis.

Immune Dysregulation

“Washington state faces first outbreak of a deadly fungal infection that’s on the rise in the U.S.” [NBC]. “Since reporting began, the sharpest increase came from 2020 to 2021, when the number of Candida auris cases rose 94%.” • Curious timing. I wonder why? ‘Tis a mystery!

Testing and Tracking

“Underestimation of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater due to single or double mutations in the N1 qPCR probe binding region” (preprint) [medRxiv]. From the Discussion: “The CDC assay targets two distinct regions of the virus to provide additional confidence in the specificity and accuracy of the results. As both targets are to the same gene, they are expected to be present at a 1:1 ratio. … However, Omicron and its sub-lineages which started circulating worldwide in late December 2021, had several mutations in the N1 probe binding region while had no mutation reported in primer regions… In our routine SARS-CoV-2 WBE program at the University of Toronto, we noticed a shift in the ratio of N1 to N2 since the outbreak of Omicron in late 2021 in samples from all Toronto municipal wastewater treatment plants. This led us to systematically investigate the impact of mutations in the N1 probe binding region…. These data unequivocally confirm that the observed “N1 drop-out” or discrepancy between N1 and N2 signals in RT86 qPCR-based surveillance was due to strain-dependent mutations in the probe region.” And: “For all targets with mutations, quantification is underestimated, which is especially pronounced for BA.5.2 and BF.10 where the measured value is about half the true value. .” • I guess I’m gonna have to redraw the Biobot chart… This is both extremely important above my paygrade. Can some kind readers take a look?

Elite Maleficence

“California’s 24-hour isolation recommendation will lead to more long COVID” [Sacramento Bee]. “Following the lead of Oregon, California has shortened the recommended isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID. Formerly five days, a person without symptoms is now only required to isolate for 24 hours. This policy is not based on science, and we urge for it to be reversed. Public health officials in Oregon and California should revise their harmful one-day isolation policies, and should, instead, work to decrease the spread of COVID while carefully balancing the costs and benefits of each policy’s impact on the community. OPINION COVID remains the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Last week, there were 1,700 COVID deaths; a toll that would have been staggering early in the pandemic. This new policy will result in additional deaths and substantial reductions in quality of life — with the heaviest burden on marginalized populations, as the risk of death is disproportionately higher for older, immunocompromised Black and Hispanic individuals.” And the working class generally; all are subject to stochastic eugenicism. More: “The policy appears to put COVID practices on even footing with other illnesses (such as flu) by noting that individuals can return to work or school after 24 hours without a fever. The key difference is that, unlike COVID, other illnesses are not contagious at that time. For those without symptoms, peak COVID infectiousness can vary from three to seven days after an infection begins. A far better indication of whether someone is contagious is their results on a rapid test; while some individuals test positive for a handful of days, others test positive for over two weeks. The new policy disregards asymptomatic spread.” • All these facts are well-known, four years into the pandemic, to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the literature. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the public health departments of California and Oregon are engaging in a population cull.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


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

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


[1] Even after a decline, we’re still higher than any of the surges under Trump.

[2] Slight increase in MWRA wastewater data, as of January 25, i.e. the incubation period from the student’s return:

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

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

[5] Decrease for the city aligns with wastewater data.

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

[7] -0.7%. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

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

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

Stats Watch

Retail: “United States Total Vehicle Sales” [Trading Economics]. “US vehicle sales fell by 6.9% month-on-month to 15.00 million annualized units in January 2024, down from December’s revised figure of 16.12 million, which was the highest level since May 2021.”

Services: “United States ISM Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI for the US jumped to 53.4 in January 2024 from 50.5 in December, beating forecasts of 52. The reading pointed to the strongest growth in the services sector in four months.”

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Manufacturing: “Boeing Finds More Misdrilled Holes on 737 in Latest Setback” [Bloomberg]. “Boeing Co. found more mistakes with holes drilled in the fuselage of its 737 Max jet… The latest manufacturing slip originated with a supplier and will require rework on about 50 undelivered 737 jets to repair the faulty rivet holes, Boeing commercial chief Stan Deal said in a note to staff…. In the latest instance, Deal said a worker at a Boeing supplier flagged that two holes in the plane’s fuselage may not exactly meet specifications. The problem ‘is not an immediate flight safety issue and all 737s can continue operating safely,’ he said. Still, he said many employees have expressed frustration at how unfinished work, either by suppliers or within Boeing’s factories, can ripple through aircraft production lines. To address this, Boeing has recently told a major supplier to hold shipments until all work has been properly completed, he said. ‘While this delay in shipment will affect our production schedule, it will improve overall quality and stability,’ Deal said.” • Hopefully. This rework bit… I’m not sure Deming would approve?

Software: “The fastest-growing countries for software development, according to GitHub” [Rest of World]. • Handy chart:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 66 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 5 at 1:26:29 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • What are they waiting for in the Middle East? A red heifer?

Zeitgeist Watch

Wealth + lowered situational awareness:

Seems like a metaphor….

Class Warfare

“U.S. winning world economic war” [Axios]. “‘The enormous labor market churn of COVID in 2020-21 had the unintended benefit of moving millions of lower income workers to better jobs, more income security, and/or running their own businesses,’ [Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics] tells Axios.” • Wowsers. Everybody’s a winner!

Nice usage example:

Although I would put small shopkeepers, for example, in the “petite bourgeoisie” bucket, distinct from the PMC, since their “identity of revenues and sources of revenue” is founded on ownership, albeit on a small scale (“petite”) and with a lot of self-exploitation.

News of the Wired

“Beyond Self-Attention: How a Small Language Model Predicts the Next Token” [Shyam’s Blog]. “I trained a small (~10 million parameter) transformer following Andrej Karpathy’s excellent tutorial, Let’s build GPT: from scratch, in code, spelled out. After getting it working, I wanted to understand, as deeply as possible, what it was doing internally and how it produced its results…. But none of the papers or tutorials I encountered give a satisfying explanation of what happens after attention: how exactly do the results of the attention computation turn into accurate predictions for the next token? I thought I could run a few example prompts through the small but working transformer I’d trained, examine the internal states, and figure this out. What I thought would be a quick investigation turned out to be a 6-month deep dive, but yielded some results I think are worth sharing. Specifically, that explains how the transformer produces its predictions and some empirical evidence that suggests this explanation is at least plausible.” • Not to go all Luddite, but what this sounds like to me is that we have no idea how language models (small or large) work. No idea at all. Can that possibly be true? Readers?

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