2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2021 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient, patient readers, my post on containers took longer than I estimated. I’ll make it up to you over the rest of the week, I swear! At least today, I will have progressed from skeletal to merely emaciated. –lambert.

Bird Song of the Day

Chatty! I wonder if they scolded Darwin!

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Vaccination by region:

Data rollercoaster! (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.)

60% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 6. We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan in the Financial Times league tables as of this Monday). No change from last week, but I assume that’s a holiday data issue.

Case count by United States regions:

Now fiddling and diddling.

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 the current 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:

Now the Thanksgiving drop shows up. (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. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, not updated:

I have marked the previous peak in yellow, and the current peak with a black “Fauci Line.” Both 2020 and 2021 saw big jumps when the students returned after Thanksgiving vacation. 2021’s jump begins from a higher baseline. Now we’ll see how much higher it goes. It’s hard to know how pessimistic to be, but this tapewatcher’s guess is that this years peak will surpass 2020’s.

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” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties. Updated December 7 :

Yikes. Happy holidays.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), also December 2:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange. Google says it’s 51.8°F in Texas at 9:35AM EST, so the rising hospitalization is not due to wintry conditions.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 810,432 808,763. Back to normal. I have added a black “Fauci Line.” At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), not updated:

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:

South Africa’s rise looks linear. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

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“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 Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“Why the Jan. 6 panel is on the clock” [Politico]. “The Jan. 6 panel is the only comprehensive investigation in Washington that’s probing how the government responded to an attack on one of its branches.” Presumably, it’s not a criminal matter, or the Department of Justice would be handling it. More: “Right now, the need to wrap up the Jan. 6 investigation before Republicans take over the House is a Beltway assumption that has yet to resonate for most voters.” ¨• Er…

Biden Administration

“Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away” [The Hill]. “The goal for Democrats was to pass President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending package by Christmas, but that is slipping away as the Senate bogs down in one time-consuming fight after another. Democratic senators are growing increasingly doubtful that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be able to meet his Christmas deadline because several major disagreements are holding up the Build Back Better Act, including a fight over lifting the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. Schumer told reporters last week that his goal is to bring the $2 trillion bill to the floor the week of Dec. 13, but that timeline will be tough to meet because negotiators have a lot left to work out and Congress will also have to raise the debt ceiling by Dec. 15, which will distract attention from Biden’s agenda. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a key player in the debate, is predicting to colleagues the legislation will likely wait until after the holiday season. Senate Democratic aides say passage of the bill in January is looking more realistic than before Christmas. ‘I think there are issues with the parliamentarian’s office,’ said one Democratic aide. ‘I don’t think there’s the person power in the parliamentarian’s office to get everything done quickly.’ ‘It’s a chokepoint,’ the aide added.” • Of course! The Parliamentarian!

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, 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 that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

For an example of the class power that the PMC can wield, look no further than RussiaGate. All the working parts of the Democrat Party fired on all cylinders to cripple an elected President; it was very effective, and went on for years. Now imagine that the same Party had worked, during Covid, to create an alternative narrative — see Ferguson et al., supra, to see what such a narrative might have looked like, and with the unions (especially teachers) involved. At the very least, the Biden Administration would have had a plan, and the ground prepared for it. At the best, a “parallel government” (Gene Sharp #198) would have emerged, ready to take power in 2020. Instead, all we got was [genuflects] Tony Fauci. And Cuomo and Newsom butchering their respective Blue States, of course. The difference? With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance. In my alternative scenario, they would have been preparing for it.

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

Showing the PMC’s inability to govern, as a class they seem unable to expand their scope of operations into new fields. Consider the possibilities of the “Swiss Cheese Model.” Layered defenses include extensive testing, contact tracing, ventilation systems (not merely blue collar HVAC work, but design and evaluation), and quarantines. If we look at each layer as a jobs guarantee for credentialed professionals and managers, like ObamaCare, the opportunities are tremendous (and that’s before we get to all the training and consulting). And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get authoritarian followership (Fauci) and a totalizing and tribalizing faith in an extremely risky vax-only solution. Why? It’s almost as if they’re “acting against their own self-interest,” and I don’t pretend to understand it.

And I’m not the only one who’s puzzled. “Even if you…

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index increased to 73.4 in November of 2021, the highest in 3 months, from 72.6 in September mainly due to involving capacity, cost and downstream inventories. The transportation crunch remains particularly pronounced, with transportation prices hitting 92.7 and warehousing prices reaching a new record high of 89.3 for the sixth time in nine months. These high prices are due to the rapid movement of a significant volume of inventory from upstream storage to downstream retailers. The shortages of retail goods this holiday season have not been as severe as they were predicted to be. This seems to have been largely achieved by firms spending heavily on warehousing and transportation to get goods downstream. Warehousing space is in particularly high demand downstream, where capacity is contracting 9.2 points more quickly than upstream, as firms work to meet customer demand.”

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Airlines: “HOTR: A near $100bn Equity Hole to Fill” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “Revenue across those airlines decreased by 60% year-over-year. Net profits went from $17bn to $-140bn, or a $-157bn swing. It is worth noting that US carriers earned $14bn out of the $17bn in profits among carriers worldwide. Note that we’re using the Net Profit, not the Operating Profit. Despite several carriers issuing large amounts of new equity, it is nowhere near enough to compensate for the losses across the airline industry. The Equity (Assets minus Liabilities) decreased from $206bn to $112bn. Large amounts of debt issuances meant that airlines’ balance sheet assets increased overall. As a result, the aggregated debt to equity ratio grew from 3.8 to 8.0 among those carriers. As passenger traffic, let alone revenues, are nowhere near their 2019 levels, most airlines will still incur sizable losses during the following year. Capital raises won’t likely be sufficient to cover those losses.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 1:24pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.) Wait ’til Roe….

The Biosphere

“Honolulu shut down its largest water source in Oahu due to reported contamination of Navy well near Pearl Harbor” [CNN]. “Records show a history of fuel leaks plaguing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in the past decade, with the most recent leak occurring 11 days before the Navy announced it had discovered contamination in the Red Hill well on Oahu. Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply (BWS) shut down the Halawa Shaft, Oahu’s largest water source, on Thursday after the Navy said it found ‘a likely source of the contamination,’ the Navy said in a virtual town hall meeting.”

“A rush to mine the deep ocean has environmentalists worried” [Climate Change News]. “Too little is known about the oceans’ deep, its biodiversity and the role it plays in storing carbon to fully understand the impacts the nascent industry will have, Amon said. ‘Whatever way you look at it, mining is going to be very destructive in the deep ocean. It’s certain to say that this will be irreversible damage.’ Yet, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which regulates mining activities in international waters, is convening from Monday to consider a roadmap for negotiating extraction rules. It is proposing to finalise a mining code by July 2023, after being given an ultimatum by the world’s smallest island state Nauru. Countries have been discussing mining the bottom of the oceans for years. While some exploratory activities are under way, no commercial extraction has started in international waters. The reason for the hype is mineral concretions on the sea bottom known as polymetallic nodules. About the size of a potato, they are thought to take millions of years to form and are rich in manganese, nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals, key components of batteries for electric vehicles. As the energy transition accelerates, demand for critical minerals could increase sixfold by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Supply is lagging.


The infrastructure bill will fix this:

Health Care

WHO’s got aerosol transmission wrong, never admitted it, and that’s still doing damage:

The 420

“Jurvetson’s Big Gift Shows How Psychedelics Capital Is Different” [Bloomberg]. • No, it doesn’t.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Just because you can format a footnote, that doesn’t make you a scholar:

Zeitgeist Watch

“America’s Gambling Addiction Is Metastasizing” [The Atlantic]. “Gambling has become one of the defining pleasures of our time, the perfect accompaniment to an era of high-risk, rigged economies and a looming sense of collapse. Once there was Las Vegas; now there’s a Las Vegas in every phone. You can bet on almost anything today. Elections. Literary prizes. If you have a feeling that, say, Lapuan Virkiä is going to beat Porin Pesakarhut in the women’s Superpesis, the top professional pesäpallo league in Finland, you can put your money where your mouth is. During the pandemic, as casinos and racetracks closed, you could wager on the evening’s forecast in real time, or on the upcoming winter snowfall.” • I’ve never understood the attraction. Still, the writer. “During the pandemic,” case closed. Maybe I could inveigle them into a game of poker?

“The Sex Parties Really Are Better Than Ever Optimists predicted a horny free-for-all post-lockdown. They were right.” [New York Magazine]. • Dinner at Trimalchio’s?

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I thought this was just some rando, but he’s the Representative for the Fourth District of Kentucky:

“Armed formations”:

I bet Massie was his own contractor:

Xmas Gift Ideas

Better than the original:

Although I believe that should be “smol son.”

“5 Games That Explain The World” [Foreign Policy]. “There’s a well-developed genre of board games drawing on 20th-century counterinsurgency, most notably the COIN games, from Vietnam’s Fire in the Lake to Afghanistan’s A Distant Plain. But none has been as successful as Root, a recent classic inspired by the struggles and intrigues of the Vietnam War, 19th-century India, and other conflicts. Unlike in Vietnam, though, everyone in Root is an adorable fuzzy animal.”

Class Warfare

Run! Run!

News of the Wired

“Has the Photobook Become More Interesting than Photographs Themselves?” [Aperture]. • Was it Aperture who printed those lovely square books with white covers, one book to one photographer? All black and white? And have any readers created photobooks?

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Contact information: 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 (ulfarthelunatic):

ulfarthelunatic writes: “Attached is a photo of this years pumpkin harvest, some sort of french heirloom variety. One of the few plants (along with basil) that seems to thrive at 6500 feet in New Mexico. Old orange cat for scale.” That cat looks like it’s done some living.

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Readers, I could still use more plants, so if you could send some photos to the address below, that would be great! I’d really like to see photos of harvests or completed projects, to inspire people to plan for spring over the winter. Also fall foliage? Thank you!

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