2:00PM Water Cooler 11/18/2021 | naked capitalism


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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

* * *

#COVID19

Vaccination by region:

Still chugging along. (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

58.9% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of November 17. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above the Czech Republic in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

“Fauci says 3-shot vaccine should be ‘standard,’ warns of winter ‘double whammy’” [ABC]. • It’s not winter. It’s people in close quarters indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, you democidal psycho. Honestly, on aerosol transmission, I’m starting to feel like Belushi here (at left):





Case count by United States regions:

The jump continues. I have drawn a black “Fauci Line” to avoid triumphalism. The cases are broadly distributed in the Midwest, and concentrated in New York and especially Pennsylvania in the Northeast (see yesterday’s Water Cooler for state data). Alert reader Cocoaman discovered that Pennsylvania was now counting reinfections as cases instead of ignoring them (which makes sense if you want to, oh, allocate health care resources). But even if you backed out those cases, which would bring Pennsylvania back into line with New York, the jump is still extremely concerning. And right before Thanksgiving, too.

At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). “Here is today’s version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above. The last time CDC updated the data, oddly enough, is 11/6, i.e. before the jump in cases.

(Note that the highlighted case data is running behind the Johns Hopkins data presented first.) Now, it’s fair to say that the upward trend in case data (black dotted line) is still within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within the grey area (aggregated predictions) It’s also true that where we see an upward trend in the predicted case data (lower right quadrant) it’s much later than where we are now. It’s too early to say “Dammit, CDC, your models were broken”; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. But maybe we’ll get lucky, and the problem, if indeed it is a problem, will go away before Thanksgiving travel begins.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Yikes. As I wrote: “It would be really bad if the case count jumped just as the students headed home for Thanksgiving.”

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report November 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Minnesota worse again. Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana really not. Pennsylvania is now normal (since the rise was a data artifact, and there was no further rise). California coast worse, Arizona improved. More red specks in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 788,012 786,268. Fiddling and diddling. But at this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid). CDC updated the chart:

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment’s duty to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Chile and Portugal, with Peru and Brazil slowing. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *

Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley sentenced to 41 months in prison for role in January 6 attack” [CBS]. “[F]ederal prosecutors sought a sentence of 51 months, the longest requested sentence in a January 6 investigation to date… Multiple videos and pictures showed the defendant inside and outside the Capitol building, yelling at officers and leading a mob down the halls of the Capitol. He made his way into the Senate chamber, where he scrawled, ‘It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming,’ on paper covering the desk where Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding over the Senate just minutes before, investigators said…. The day after the riot, on January 7, Chansley voluntarily called the FBI and admitted to his role in the attack, surrendering two days later. He was originally charged in a six-count indictment that included civil disorder, violent entry, and disorderly conduct before agreeing to plead guilty to the single charge of obstruction in September. Chansley has been jailed in Washington, D.C., and Virginia since his arrest.” • As opposed to reading the proclamation of a provisional government over the airwaves, having seized a radio station. Symbol manipulators gotta symbol manipulate. Commentary:

On point.

Biden Administration

“Harris says 2024 is ‘absolutely not’ being discussed yet with Biden” [The Hill]. • So it’s being discussed. Good to know.

Where’s Pete?

“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins Port of LA chief to applaud cargo progress” [Whittier Daily News]. • I assume the cameras were rolling?

“The U.S. aims to lift Covid vaccine manufacturing to create a billion doses a year” [New York Times]. “The White House, under pressure to increase the supply of coronavirus vaccines to poor nations, plans to invest billions of dollars to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity, with the goal of producing at least one billion doses a year beginning in the second half of 2022, two top advisers to President Biden said in an interview on Tuesday. The investment is the first step in a new plan, announced on Wednesday, for the government to partner with industry to address immediate vaccine needs overseas and domestically and to prepare for future pandemics, said Dr. David Kessler, who oversees vaccine distribution for the administration, and Jeff Zients, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator. ‘This is about assuring expanded capacity against Covid variants and also preparing for the next pandemic,’ Dr. Kessler said. ‘The goal, in the case of a future pandemic, a future virus, is to have vaccine capability within six to nine months of identification of that pandemic pathogen, and to have enough vaccines for all Americans.’”

“The Westiest programs in Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” [High Country News]. “We combed through the act and pulled out the Westiest programs and measures…. Ever since the extraction industries started to decline decades ago, folks have been talking about replacing them with a “restoration economy” that would put people to work cleaning up old mines, reclaiming oil and gas sites, and so forth. It’s never really taken off on a large scale. But the new bill might be the financial spark it needs…. The new law funds megadrought mitigation efforts, such as renting farmers’ water to bolster in-stream flows and restoring aquatic ecosystems, and repairing — perhaps even removing —dams…. The act not only throws resources at fire prevention, it also represents a shift in the way the government approaches wildfires and the people who fight them…. There’s also money for wildlife crossings, energy efficiency in buildings, railroads, for making the power grid more resilient and facilitating the construction of high voltage transmission lines to move renewable energy over long distances, for airports, public transit and for clean school buses. Even so, the bill remains incomplete without its other half: The Build Back Better Act, which has increased funding for social programs and climate resilience as well as potential oil and gas leasing and mining reforms. ”

Priorities:

“House Democrats planning 1,000 events to tout accomplishments” [The Hill]. “House Democrats are planning to hold 1,000 events throughout the country between now and the end of the year to tout their latest legislative accomplishments, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) announced on Tuesday. Maloney, during a press conference from the Capitol, said he and his colleagues have discussed a new effort in which each member of the Democratic caucus will hold five events to explain what is in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package signed into law on Monday and how it will help the American people.” • Something Obama failed to do for his miserably inadequate stimulus package (hat tip, Larry Summers), though why the horrid DCCC is in charge of this I can’t fathom.

Democrats en Deshabille

Doctorow: “The latest Build Back Better pharma proposal is basically a nothingburger in a my-eyes-glaze-over bun of bureaucratic nonsense.” But why?

Blast from the past:

I periodically quote this parable from Ian Welsh, who asks: “Why are politicians bought so cheaply?” and answers: “Because it’s not their money. It’s like selling your neighbor’s car for twenty bucks.”

“The drip, drip, drip of Democratic retirements” [CNN]. “On Monday, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy announced that he would leave Congress when his eighth term expires at the end of 2022. On Tuesday, California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said she would retire next year after almost 15 years in Congress. Neither seat should be a problem for Democrats to hold. Vermont went for President Joe Biden by 35 points in 2020 — his largest margin anywhere in the country. And Speier’s Bay Area 14th District gave Biden a whopping 89% of the vote last November. The bigger issue for Democrats then is not keeping those seats on their side. It’s that a steady drumbeat of retirements from within their ranks — especially in the holiday period leading up to Thanksgiving and then Christmas — is not at all what they want as they try to hold onto their slim majorities in the House and Senate. Congress is like high school. Everyone is looking around to see what everyone else is doing — and then adjusting their behavior accordingly.”

“Beto O’Rourke enters 2022 a weaker candidate with a harder race” [Texas Tribune]. “This time, O’Rourke’s statewide campaign is starting in a completely different place [than when he challenged Ted Cruz]. His run against Gov. Greg Abbott, which he announced Monday, is starting 229 days later than his U.S. Senate campaign did in 2017. O’Rourke is now well known statewide — and polls show more Texas voters have a negative view of him than a positive one. And Abbott’s not giving him a pass, regularly rallying Republicans against him on the campaign trail and releasing videos attacking him. This time, national politics will not play in his favor. Trump is out of office, President Joe Biden is deeply unpopular in Texas and Democrats are expecting to take a beating in the midterm elections nationwide…. One of O’Rourke’s top goals, Democrats agree, should be to ensure the race is a referendum on Abbott, who this year ushered through some of the most conservative laws — on abortion, guns and voting — in recent Texas memory. Abbott’s campaign is already trying to make the contest about O’Rourke, branding him ‘Wrong Way O’Rourke’ and spotlighting comments in which he has tacked to the left since the 2018 race.”

“Liberal ‘dark-money’ behemoth funneled more than $400M in 2020” [Politico]. “The Sixteen Thirty Fund’s multi-million dollar grants singlehandedly powered some other organizations on the left, and it also incubated other groups, as a ‘fiscal sponsor,’ that fought against Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, backed liberal ballot measures and policy proposals in different states and organized opposition to Republican tax and health care policies. Its massive 2020 fundraising and spending illustrates the extent to which the left embraced the use of ‘dark money’ to fight for its causes in recent years. After decrying big-money Republican donors over the last decade, as well as the Supreme Court rulings that flooded politics with more cash, Democrats now benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars of undisclosed donations as well. ‘Altogether this is absolutely one of the largest fundraising machines I have ever come across,’ said Robert Maguire, the research director for the open-government group CREW and an expert in political nonprofits.”

Republican Funhouse

“Matt Gaetz said his office is open to hiring Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional intern if he’s ‘interested in helping the country in additional ways’” [Business Insider]. “‘He deserves a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and I sure hope he gets it, because you know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern,’ Gaetz said. ‘We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.’” • Damn. What’s that high-pitched warbling sound?

RussiaGate

“Episode 195: The Russia House” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. “We’re joined by the frequently frustrated Aaron Maté….to talk about the arrest of Igor Danchenko and the long, absolutely insane saga of the Steele Dossier.” • This podcast does not cover all the twists and turns. But it’s very funny, and does underline how liberal Democrats absolutely lost their minds over RussiaGate. For years. Remember when liberal Democrats were naming their dogs after Mueller? That, and much more. So much more.

“The Russiagate Whitewash Era Begins” (excerpt only) [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “After America invaded Iraq and failed to turn up weapons of mass destruction, the press went into CYA mode. Pundits who’d panted for war now cooked up a new narrative, that the WMD “mistake” had been caused by a combination of faulty intelligence, over-confident officials in the George W. Bush White House, and one New York Times writer named Judith Miller. Everyone else who so forcefully screwed the pooch on that story, from New Yorker editor David Remnick to New York columnist Jonathan Chait to current Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, emerged either unscathed, or draped in awards and promoted. Now, the Russiagate tale many of those same people hyped is falling apart, and the industry is again building battlements to protect careers from a cascade of humiliating revelations. This time, a combination of Danchenko, Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, and perhaps a few organizations like McClatchy will be tossed out of the lifeboat.” • I’m relieved to find that Taibbi didn’t stroke out over The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper™’s Glenn Kessler fact-checking RussiaGate.

Trump Legacy

“The Drama-Lover’s Guide to the New Trump Books” [New York Magazine]. “This year, there’s been a deluge of books about the inner workings of the previous administrations from journalists on the Trump beat and former White House insiders with scores to settle and reputations they’d like to rehabilitate; Axios reports that Trump himself has given “at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office.” While these tomes continue to sell well, I am now too cynical to devote even eight hours to “ear reading” a book whose basic take away is “Trump: not a great guy.” Therefore, please join me on this tour of the juiciest tidbits from the latest batch of Trump books. I do not know if they are true, but I do know they are darkly amusing and might even be shocking if we weren’t all numb.” • Any time Melania wants out, all she has to do is sign a book deal….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“White People’s Business”: On The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial & The Left Divide” (podcast) [Briahana Joy Gray, Bad Faith]. “This week, public defender & commentator for the Law Crime Network Olayemi Olurin returns to Bad Faith to discuss the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and how the media’s selective marshaling of facts has led to a divide not just between the political right and the left, but among left commentators.” • This is worth a listen, despite the running time (1 hr 28 min). Two sharp lawyers go over the evidence and competing theories of the case. Oh, and the prosecutor are doing a terrible job (apparently because they’re idiots, not because they’re trying to throw the case).

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 1K to 268K in the week ended November 13th, a new pandemic low, but less than market expectations of 260K as employers avoid layoffs and many workers quit. Claims are now approaching the 200K-250K range viewed as consistent with healthy labour market conditions but still, they remain above their 2019 weekly average of 218K.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Employment Situation: “United States Continuing Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “Continuing jobless claims in the United States decreased to 2080 thousand in the week ending November 6th of 2021 from 2209 thousand in the previous week. It is a new pandemic low and well below market forecasts of 2120 thousand.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US rose to 39 in November of 2021 from 23.8 in October and beating market forecasts of 24. The reading pointed to the strongest growth in factory activity in Philadelphia since April.” • This can only be bad for Joe Biden.

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell to 17 in November of 2021 from 25 in the previous month. Factory growth was driven by increased activity at durable goods plants, particularly machinery manufacturing, electrical equipment, transportation equipment, and furniture production. “Regional factory activity continued to grow but at a slower pace than in recent months”, said Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Many firms reported additional materials cost increases, and more contacts reported delivery time delays compared to a month ago and a year ago. Labor shortages remain a key inhibitor in meeting higher demand for goods.’” • So pay the workers more money and make sure the jobs don’t suck. This really is not hard.

* * *

Inflation: “Here’s Why All The Inflation Fearmongering Over The Reconciliation Bill Is Nonsense” [Talking Points Memo]. “A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that prices rose in October and are hovering at a notably high point has triggered a full-on Democratic panic attack over the fate of the reconciliation bill. While those two things may seem unrelated — spoiler alert: they are — one man binds them together: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). He tweeted Wednesday that the inflation spike is not temporary and is, instead, ‘getting worse,’ prompting a bout of furious tea leaf reading. Democrats speculated in public and in private that the West Virginia senator will use the inflation levels as an excuse to slow down or kill the reconciliation package (also known as Build Back Better, or BBB). He has cited inflation fears before, when enumerating his objections to a bigger reconciliation package. Republicans are glomming on to the talking point, which they see as handy to both imperil the bill and boost their midterm chances. While there are multiple valid theories about why this current inflation spike is surprisingly high and when it will subside, economists told TPM that there is overwhelming consensus that the reconciliation package will not cause inflation. ‘That claim has zero merit,’ Josh Bivens, research director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told TPM. “Whether or not BBB passes will not move the inflation rate up or down over the next year.’ … Bivens pointed to the fact that the package is not deficit spending, but entirely or almost entirely financed by taxes. It’s also, simply, not a stimulus package meant to inject a ton of money into the economy all at once.” • I’m quoting TPM. I don’t know what’s come over me.

Inflation: “EXCLUSIVE Rating agencies say Biden’s spending plans will not add to inflationary pressure” [Reuters]. “U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending legislation will not add to inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy, economists and analysts in leading rating agencies told Reuters on Tuesday…. The two pieces of legislation “should not have any real material impact on inflation”, William Foster, vice president and senior credit officer (Sovereign Risk) at Moody’s Investors Service, told Reuters. The impact of the spending packages on the fiscal deficit will be rather small because they will be spread over a relatively long time horizon, Foster added.”

Inflation: Another perspective:

Shipping: “How to make a billion when your ships are stuck at anchor” [Freight Waves]. “Ocean carrier Zim, by far the largest U.S.-listed shipping company by market cap, just blew away the profit forecasts. Again. But it’s not all smooth sailing. The Israel-based shipping line (NYSE: ZIM) is particularly exposed to the trans-Pacific trade lane, where port congestion is now having an extremely negative effect on volumes. Ship scheduling data confirms significant and growing fallout to Zim’s trans-Pacific services in the fourth quarter…. Soaring freight rates have been the overwhelming driver of Zim’s returns. Its average rate per forty-foot equivalent unit was $6,452 in the third quarter, 2.7 times rates the year before and up 38% from rates in the second quarter of this year. Zim does not expect average rates to fall in Q4 versus Q3, despite indexes’ recent dip. Zim’s rates are higher than most other carriers’. It specifically concentrates on markets with the highest returns, as opposed to larger players with more global footprints like Denmark-listed Maersk. Zim also keeps a high emphasis on spot cargoes, which make up 50% of its trans-Pacific volume, as opposed to seeking more contract coverage for more sustainable returns, the strategy pursued by Maersk. The result: Zim’s average rates were 81% higher than Maersk’s in the third quarter.” • Nice!

The Bezzle: “Is Decentralized Finance really all that decentralized?” [Francine McKenna, The Dig]. Sadly, paywalled. But here is the deck: “A limited number of investors and users are reaping all the rewards. Makes you wonder if this latest spin on “financial innovation” introduces more risk without changing much.” And:

I don’t want to be overly cynical, but couldn’t the fact that crypto enables fraud…. be the whole point?

Supply Chain: “Plan to Run LA Port 24/7 to Break Backlog Falls Short” [Manufacturing.net]. “Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in an online briefing Tuesday that the sprawling complex has “24/7 capability,” but a shortage of truck drivers and nighttime warehouse workers pose problems in establishing a nonstop schedule, along with getting importers to embrace expanded hours. ‘It’s an effort to try to get this entire orchestra of supply chain players to get on the same calendar,’ he said. Among thousands of importers, ‘we’ve had very few takers to date.’ U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that going to a 24 hour-a-day schedule at the busiest port in the Western Hemisphere ‘is, of course, not flipping the switch. There are so many players, even just on the grounds of port.’ As for moving cargo, Seroka said there was encouraging news: Since Oct. 24, the port witnessed a 25% drop in the number of import containers on the docks — from 95,000 to to 71,000. During the same time, cargo sitting nine days or longer dropped by 29%, he said.” • Good to see Buttigieg kicking ass and taking names here. He’s clearly prepared for a leadership role.

Supply Chain: “A record number of ships are stuck at LA ports, even as port chiefs say the backlog is easing up” [Business Insider]. “A record number of ships were reported in and around LA ports on Tuesday afternoon, even as port chiefs said backlogs are clearing. According to the Marine Exchange, a total of 179 ships were recorded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday, the majority of which were anchored at sea waiting for the chance to dock and unload. These new records come one day after LA port chiefs said that the backlog at the two ports was easing, highlighting a 26% decline in the amount of cargo that had been left on docks for over nine days. The two ports said in October that, starting November 15, they would begin fining shipping companies $100 a day for every container left on the docks for more than six days, if they were being moved onwards by rail, or nine days if being moved by truck. The ports announced Monday they have pushed back the start date for new fines coming into force until November 22.” On the fines: “Those fines will ‘simply get passed onto beneficial cargo owners who will begrudgingly accept that their rates have gone up,’ [Corey Bertsch, VP Solutions Consulting at Slync.io, a global logistics company] added. ‘These containers would move if they could, but it’s a combination of warehouses, truck, and labor issues.’”

The Fed: “Tweedledum and Tweedledee at the Fed” [The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal]. “We never thought we’d say this, but economist Larry Summers would be a logical Democratic choice given his prescience about inflation.” • Now they’re just trolling us.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 18 at 12:34pm.

Health Care

“Echoes Through Time: The Historical Origins of the Droplet Dogma and its Role in the Misidentification of Airborne Respiratory Infection Transmission” [SSRN]. Authored by a galaxy of aerosol stars, including Jimenez and Prather (and also Tufecki). “ And critically, he turned absence of evidence into evidence of absence. ‘We are warranted then, in discarding [airborne transmission] as a working hypothesis, and devoting our chief attention to the prevention of contact infection,’ he concluded. ‘It will be a great relief to most persons to be freed from the specter of infected air, a specter which has pursued the race from the time of Hippocrates.’…. Chapin was much better positioned to change the paradigm of transmission, as the long-serving Health Officer of Providence and also thanks to the success of his emphasis non contact transmission in reducing infections in a new hospital. In 1927 he became the President of the American Public Health Association. His ideas about the dominance of contact infection and the implausibility of airborne infection were widely adopted in the fields of public health and infectious diseases. , and as late as the 1980s Chapin’s views were dominant there (60). Critically, Chapin’s unproven hypothesis was accepted as true: ease of infection in close proximity is accepted proof of transmission from spray droplets. This key error conditioned the evolution of this field over the next century. .” • That is, CDC’s refusal to accept aerosol transmission dates from its founding. I’m re-upping this from Links in September, because it jibes so well this article I ran yesterday, “The Ebola Gamble,” which shows that “CDC has been broken with respect to aerosol transmission not only since the Ebola crisis (c. 2014) but since SARS (2002).” The CDC should be burned to the ground, the rubble plowed under, and the earth scattered with salt.

A useful thread on airborne tranmission. Plain language and links:

“Effectiveness of public health measures in reducing the incidence of covid-19, SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and covid-19 mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis” [British Medical Journal]. An enormous meta-analysis. The Conclusions: “This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that several personal protective and social measures, including handwashing, mask wearing, and physical distancing are associated with reductions in the incidence covid-19. Public health efforts to implement public health measures should consider community health and sociocultural needs, and future research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of public health measures in the context of covid-19 vaccination.”

“A COVID strategy backfires at schools” [Axios (Kevin DeNardo)]. “Hundreds of school districts and universities around the country rushed to invest in new electronic air cleaning systems in the last two years to help alleviate COVID concerns. But in many cases, those investments turned out to be doing more harm than good… 40% of school districts of more than 1,000 districts in the U.S. have used federal money to update their HVAC system and air filtration systems…. School districts and universities have spent as much as $100 million on this technology — often for electronic air cleaning systems that have misleading, company-funded studies that boast 99.99% efficacy, said Marwa Zaatari, mechanical engineer and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council.” • Every aerosol scientist I follow, and I follow a lot, recommended open windows and doors, HEPA filters, or Corsi boxes. None of them recommended this garbage, and some (too lazy to find the links) recommended against it. Modulo steak dinners from the manufacturers to the administrators and school boards, it’s hard to see this as anything other than an enormous — and lethal — dereliction of duty by CDC, the Biden Administration, and probably OSHA, who (a) refuse to allow aerosol transmission to affect policy, (b) refuse even to publicize it (or a layered strategy of defense), and hence (c) fail to create a regulatory environment that protects schools and universities against fraud. Worse, the entire debacle may be used to discredit ventilation efforts entirely.

Nothing fundamental will change:

I see that it’s not quite correct to say that we won’t spend money on ventilation because that’s capital investment. We will spend money — on technology that’s fraudulent and ineffective. What does that tell you?

Zeitgeist Watch

I don’t want to whinge, but where’s the quilt? And the wall-to-wall coverage for it? (I don’t think the flags on the National Mall qualify.)

Is the sense of collectivity that weak?

“Hochul says additional investigation into Cuomo pandemic response is not necessary” [WRGB Albany]. • Obviously, “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” And that’s the charitable interpretation.

Class Warfare

“Why Capitalism Loves Corruption” [Tribune]. “The [U.K.] is one of the epicentres of political corruption historically, and a key node in global corruption today. As Mafia expert Roberto Saviano remarked in 2016, there is good reason to think that the UK is ‘the most corrupt country in the world.’… Britain is in fact the grandfather of corruption. As George Robb argues in his history of white-collar crime, the industrial revolution in Britain brought forth a new network of finance, insurance, and legal professions with which came corrupt practices like bank fraud, credit fraud, and stock fraud…. Britain successfully exported its culture of corruption into colonial governance, exhibiting itself in the endemic corruption at which the British colonialists were masters. Mulinge and Lestedi have shown how taxes introduced in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Bechuanaland (Botswana) to create revenues for British colonial rule were sometimes collected through financial kickbacks for local leaders, which corrupted existing public roles and caused warped relationships that in some cases persist to this day. The East India Company provided a template for the corrupt activities of multinationals today as they invaded more and more of modern-day India and Pakistan, widely utilising corrupt practices forgery and bribes alongside the violence of its private security force. Many of its employees, including its leader, Robert Clive, were actively embezzling funds from both the company and tax collection into their own private fortunes. At one point nearly a quarter of MPs were shareholders in the East India Company, and they dutifully voted in its interests, even if they conflicted with those of the Crown. Eventually the East India Company would be taken over by the state, but writers have shown that the corrupt practices it instituted in part shaped the bureaucracy of modern-day nations—including constructing the idea that corruption is a problem inherent to the peoples of former colonised nations. Far from being a bastion of liberal probity, British history is dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with the blood and dirt of political corruption. This history is foundational to contemporary corruption in former colonised nations, but the legacy has also continued domestically. The City of London and its imperial network of ‘offshore’ tax havens is the heart of global corruption.” • Bracing stuff!

News of the Wired

I remain unwired today!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (RH):

RH writes: “Rain coming.” Gorgeous!

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