By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, I’ve been wrong-footed by a household emergency. More on Politics shortly (though the Covid section, though I say it, is especially rich today). –lambert UPDATE Finished!
Bird Song of the Day
Common Potoo, Mata ciliar do Rio Jacaré-Guaçu, São Paulo, Brazil. This is great. It sounds like summer nights will soon sound again.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Little-known scientific team behind new assessment on covid-19 origins” [WaPo]. “But the agencies are united, the official said, in the view that the virus was not developed as a bioweapon. ‘‘Lab’ does not equal ‘man-made,’ the official said, noting that lab workers could have collected the virus in nature and stored it at the lab from which it escaped. ‘Even if it was a leak from a lab,’ the person added, intelligence analysts ‘still think it would be a naturally occurring virus.’… ‘The bottom line remains the same: Basically no one really knows,’ one of the officials said.” Oh. And: “U.S. officials confirmed that an updated assessment of covid-19’s origins was completed this year, and said the document was based on fresh data as well as new analysis by experts from eight intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council.” • Sounds to me like a fresh batch of experts was the key factor, not data. (And we’re really putting what The Blob will use as a justification for war with China in the hands of the nuclear weapons complex? Really?)
“The Washington Post Is Coming for Your Retirement Benefits” [FAIR]. Quoting WaPo: “Mr. Biden was among 88 senators who voted in 1983 for a bipartisan grand bargain, negotiated by a commission led by Alan Greenspan and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, that rescued Social Security. Forty years later, if he and Republican leaders are willing to work in good faith, Mr. Biden could safeguard the greatest legacies of both the New Deal and the Great Society.” And: “To translate: In 1983, Congress ‘rescued’ Social Security by cutting it. The 1983 law did not change the actual age at which you can retire and draw Social Security benefits. It left that at 62. Instead, it simply said you’d get less money for retiring at any point before the new full retirement age, which reached 67 last year. For instance, those retiring at 62 today face a 50% larger cut in benefits for early retirement compared to before 2000. The Post apparently remembers these reforms fondly. And it wants more.”
“Williamson becomes Democratic primary’s 1st Biden challenger” [Associated Press]. “Bestselling self-help author Marianne Williamson, who brought quirky spiritualism to the 2020 presidential race, has announced she’s running for president again, becoming the first major Democrat to challenge President Joe Biden for his party’s nomination in 2024. Williamson, 70 [i.e., a spring chicken], is formally kicking off her campaign with an event in Washington on Saturday. Without mentioning former President Donald Trump, she noted in a weekend Facebook post that his unconventional White House win makes it ‘odd for anyone to think they can know who can win the presidency.’ ‘I’m not putting myself through this again just to add to the conversation,’ Williamson wrote. ‘I’m running for president to help bring an aberrational chapter of our history to a close, and to help bring forth a new beginning.’Williamson running against a sitting president from her own party would be the longest of long shots under any circumstances. But that’s especially true this cycle, as the Democratic establishment — and even potential presidential hopefuls who could have competed with Biden from the left or middle — has closed ranks with remarkable uniformity behind the president.” • I don’t see what’s “remarkable” about it; Democrat electeds are authoritarian followers. The DNC should never have booted Williamson out of the 2020 debates, and would not have, if they were small-d Democrat. I’m not much on woo woo stuff (e.g., mainstream macro), but Williamson was an interesting and perceptive figure. Perhaps that was their problem with her.
“Trump’s February bump” [Axios]. “Four new polls show former President Trump has received a boost in Republican support — with one survey showing him hitting 50% support in a crowded GOP field. After a shaky start to his presidential campaign, Trump has quietly found his footing over the last month. His visit to the derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio — ahead of President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — showed off a touch of empathy, at least by Trump standards. The former president got out of his mega-rally comfort zone in favor of several small campaign stops for ice cream in South Carolina and McDonald’s in Ohio, where his impromptu visits were well-received by the restaurant staff.” • I kept saying Trump looked good. Great visuals! But I don’t know what Axios means by “ahead of.” Biden hasn’t visited East Palestine, and says he won’t. You can’t beat something with nothing!
“Poll finds Trump beating Biden but DeSantis, Haley losing” [The Hill]. “Trump holds a 4-point lead over Biden, with 46 percent saying they would support the former president in a rematch in 2024 and 42 percent saying they would back the current president, the Emerson College poll found. However, Biden leads DeSantis by 4 points, 44 percent to 40 percent, and Haley by 3 points, 40 percent to 37 percent, in separate match-ups, according to the poll.” • Margin of error yadda yadda yadda but numbers like that should chill the RINOs blood.
“Gov. Youngkin fires back at Biden’s criticism of ‘MAGA Republicans’ in Virginia: ‘Go to Ohio’” [FOX]. “‘He should go to Ohio,’ Youngkin told Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer Wednesday. ‘When there is Americans in need, and they’re in need of leadership, our president should show up, and what he’s demonstrating is he’s going to choose politics over people.’” What does that even mean? Here’s the important part: “‘The challenge we’ve got is Joe Biden would rather try to divide us as a nation and try to put people in this box or that box as opposed to right now, bring us together and recognize that we have to have unity against China,’ Youngkin said.” • OK, the war with China part got worked in, good, but these are really not very good quotes. Youngkin needs to improve his form, or Trump will eat him for breakfast in debate.
MI: “Democrat Elissa Slotkin to seek Michigan’s open Senate seat” [Associated Press]. “Slotkin, a 46-year-old former CIA intelligence officer and third-term representative, is coming off an impressive victory in last year’s midterms, winning reelection despite having been considered vulnerable. Her contest against Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett was the third-most expensive House race in 2022.”
IL: “Chicago mayor loses re-election bid after race dominated by crime” [Financial Times]. “Chicago voters ousted Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday night, making her the first mayor in the city to lose re-election in 40 years…. Tuesday’s top vote-getter was Paul Vallas, who was appointed chief executive of Chicago Public Schools in 1995, later holding similar posts in New Orleans and Philadelphia. The only white candidate in the race, Vallas hammered on the theme of public safety and won the backing of the city’s police union. He won 159,000 votes, or 35 per cent of the total. Vallas’s campaign strategist Joe Trippi noted ‘if you’re not safe to walk the streets, nothing really matters . . . I didn’t think we’d break 30 [per cent], but we have.’ Joe Trippi, still in the game after all these years. More: “Brandon Johnson, a commissioner in county government, placed second in the race, with 92,000 votes, or 20 per cent of the total. Johnson, a political progressive backed by the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, surged late in the race.” • I would imagibe most of Lightfoot’s 16% would go to Johnson, so the race could be closer than it looks (although I’m sure Vallas will open a gusher of cash).
WI: “The biggest election of 2023 reaches final sprint” [Politico]. “Millions of dollars are flowing into the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, as the state rockets toward an election that could decide the future of abortion rights, redistricting and more in the key battleground state. The court has a 4-3 conservative majority, with one swing conservative justice who has broken with the rest of the ideological bloc on some major cases. The April 4 election could flip that dynamic to a liberal-leaning majority. The contest is poised to be the most expensive state Supreme Court race ever, with major outside groups — particularly those focused on abortion — rushing in funds. The previous record was over $15 million for a 2004 Illinois contest, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In Wisconsin, $10.4 million was spent on advertising alone in the runup to the primary, according to data from the ad tracking firm AdImpact. ‘This election is off the charts,’ said Ben Wikler, chair of the state Democratic Party. ‘It’s off the charts in terms of the stakes, it’s off the charts in terms of how much money is likely to be invested on both sides, it’s off the charts in terms of the number of people who are voting.’ The election, he added, ‘is the hinge on which Wisconsin’s political future will swing. And Wisconsin is the hinge on which national politics swings.’” • I’m so old I can remember when the national Democrats and Obama didn’t give the Wisconsin state Democrats a dime when they were first fighting Scott Walker. Perhaps the Norms Fairy didn’t like the Wisconsin State Capitol occupation, which happened prior (and prior to Occupy proper, interestingly).
Live tweeting the House Republican Covid Hearing. Marty Makary, Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya:
Marty Makary, a surgeon with no expertise in public health or epidemiology, making a number of ridiculous claims about the virus and vaccines. Suggests no healthy children have died from the virus, boosters pose more risk than the virus to young people.
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) February 28, 2023
“We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April” [Marty Makary, Wall Street Journal]. • From February 18, 2021. Dude:
Often wrong, but never in doubt, now testifying to the House.
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.
* * *
Dan Goldman (D), a newly elected congressman from NY, wasted no time trading stocks as politician
Just 3 weeks after being sworn in, he traded over $5.5M dollars including $2M in buys & $3M in sells
He was also just appointed to the Committee of Oversights and Accountability
— Nancy Pelosi Stock Tracker ♟ (@PelosiTracker_) February 28, 2023
Realignment and Legitimacy
“‘Greater Idaho’ movement to absorb conservative rural counties from liberal Oregon gains momentum” [FOX]. “Moving the Idaho-Oregon border would require the approval of both state legislatures as well as the U.S. Congress. Despite the support of Idaho lawmakers, the idea may face greater resistance in the Democrat-controlled Oregon legislature. Oregon state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, a Republican, has filed a similar proposal to begin talks with Idaho, but the proposal is unlikely to make it out of committee. Still, proponents of Greater Idaho note that 11 counties in eastern Oregon have voted for ballot measures to explore the move and that, according to some polling, Idahoans would welcome expanding the state boundary. In Oregon, meanwhile, polling has shown a roughly equal number of voters support and oppose the idea, with about one-fifth of the population undecided. Some critics have warned against ‘self-segregating by ideology,’ saying the creation of a Greater Idaho would fuel division and disgruntled residents can move if they’re unhappy with how their state is governing. Others say Idaho legislators should be focusing on their own state rather than helping Oregon residents. Another concern is that sparsely populated areas have high rates of Medicaid enrollment and could be an added expense to Idaho taxpayers.” •
Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!
• Readers, since the national data systems in the United States are being vandalized, let’s start collecting links to state data, too. If readers would send me links (see Plant below) to their favorite State and local dashboards/wastewater sites, that would be great. Canadians, too! Or leave a link in Comments.
Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).
Resources, United States (Local): CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OR (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater).
Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).
Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).
Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Festoonic, FM, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, RL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)
• More like this, please! Total:
1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27/50 (54% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!
Look for the Helpers
I’m filing this here, as opposed to masking, because this looks like citizen science for mask testing, and the method seems very ingenious. Perhaps readers can comment. Click through for the complete results:
And the ingenious method:
See Maskstravaganza for my comments on fit-testing. What strikes me about this Tweet is that it’s something that could probably be organized as a group, for the maximum variation of facial shapes, and the maximum number of masks tested. Could not the masking trade assocation publicize such efforts?
* * *
Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:
Thought I’d add this here in case anyone is interested. Places to find people who “Still Covid” in your area & online: https://t.co/T4ND4XbrpF & https://t.co/sP5wq4fAw5 You can also search on FB “Still Coviding ____” & see if there’s a specific group on your area.
— Adriel Rose (@adriel_rose) March 1, 2023
“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.
Covid Is Airborne
“Airborne transmission: a new paradigm with major implications for infection control and public health” [The New Zealand Medical Journal]. The Abstract: “Recognition of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses is a paradigm shift in the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) field, contributed to by New Zealand’s experience in Managed Isolation Quarantine Facilities (MIQF). Slowness to embrace this shift by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies highlights the importance of applying the precautionary principle and subjecting established theories to the same level of critical scrutiny as those challenging the status quo. Improving indoor air quality to reduce infection risk and provide other health benefits is a new frontier, requiring much additional work at both grassroots and policy levels. Existing technologies such as masks, air cleaners and opening windows can improve air quality of many environments now. To achieve sustained, comprehensive improvements in air quality that provide meaningful protection, we also need additional actions that do not rely on individual human’s behaviour.” • The authors are interesting: a Public Health Physician, a Clinical Director Infection Prevention and Control (!!), and two Mechanical Engineers (!!!).
“Standing 3 steps apart on escalator lowers COVID risk: Japan research” [The Mainichi]. Droplet dogma — or a translation issue — but I think one can extrapolate to aerosols: “Standing three steps apart on an escalator significantly reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection while it is safer to descend than ascend one, recent research by a team involving the Kyoto Institute of Technology showed. The team lined up 10 maskless men, each 175 centimeters tall, on an escalator and computed the dispersion of droplets assuming that the man at the front coughed. The traced droplets measured less than 1.5 millimeters. The research showed that on a descending escalator, the droplets were quickly blown upward and traveled over the heads of the others. But on an ascending one, the droplets fell to a level around the waist of the coughing man and remained in the air for a long time. ‘It is important to keep a distance as human movements make (surrounding) airflow unsteady and cause the dispersion of droplets,” said Masashi Yamakawa, a professor at the Kyoto institute who led the team. The research was published in the scientific magazine Indoor Air in November.’”
The fitting process is far more arduous than it should be:
Shoutout to the CAN99 for coming through for small / angular faces!!! First respirator I’ve ever tried that fits with no strap or chin adjustments 🥳
Huge thank you to @michael_hoerger for sending me some samples! pic.twitter.com/fU996ddH3c
— alex (she/they) (@yesallcrops) March 1, 2023
Here again, could not the masking trade assocation set some standards here? Sizing and fitting standards for masks should be at least as good as they are for shoes and clothes (imperfect, I grant). People shouldn’t have to guess or order starter packs. This would certainly help the market!
“Community-based N95 Distribution During the COVID-19 Omicron BA.1 Surge: 1-month Utilization and Price Implications” (preprint) [psyArxiv]. “Masks and other non-pharmaceutical interventions can complement vaccines and treatments as a part of multilayered mitigation toreduce the burden of COVID-19 surges. Accordingly, the investigators distributed 2,500 N95s in 5-packs with informational handouts during the BA.1surge in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA(12/13/21-1/17/22). Recipients completeda voluntary 1-month follow-up utilization survey (N=153).At 1-month follow-up, participants had usedanaverage of 3.42 (68.4%) of the five N95s, felt safer wearing N95s (Ps<.0001 and="" discussed="" n95s="" with="" others="" would="" wear="" n95sagainif="" free.="" purchase="" intentions="" were="" price="" sensitive.="" after="" our="" distribution="" program="" the="" u.s.="" federal="" government="" distributed="" free="" but="" stockpiles="" are="" depleting="" not="" included="" in="" ongoing="" policy="" plans.="" governments="" can="" prepare="" for="" winter="" surges="" new="" variants="" by="" developing="" plans="" of="" n95s.="" we="" could="" also="" do="" serious="" work="" on="" how="" to="" move="" masks="" away="" from="" look="" feel="" a="" medical="" device="" into="" realm="" fashion="" something="" that="" somebody="" might="" normally.="" like="" athletic="" shoes.="" or="" hat.="" wearing="" mask="" pandemic="" should="" be="" as="" unremarkable="" bringing="" an="" umbrella="" case="" rain.="" ffs.="" want="" nyc="" businesses="" require="" customers="" show="" their="" faces="" href="https://pix11.com/news/local-news/police-want-nyc-businesses-to-require-customers-show-their-faces/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Pix11]. “Customers should be required to show their faces before being allowed into businesses, NYPD officials urged on Tuesday. Removing a mask and allowing identification can be a “condition of entry,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said. Businesses can then allow people to put masks back on after they’ve shown their face.” • Masks don’t cover the face, since the eyes are visible (though perhaps that messes up whatever facial recognition system the NYPD has, in which case NYPD tech is inferior to China’s). And of course, you knew that as soon as the anti-maskers got the whip hand, all this “individual choice” foo-fra would go out the window. Commentary:
4/ So in what way is this an effective strategy? What does it deter? It makes it harder to mask in public spaces, & so, is a deterant against masking. It also sets up a perception that those who mask are up to no good; they need to get with the program, obey the social compact.
— J. Offir, Ph.D. (@dontwantadothis) March 1, 2023
Struggle sessions are never pleasant:
Wow I’m so jealous! Way to go! I’ve basically gotten to the point where he’ll wear the darn aura (thank goodness) but still thinks he’s 100% invincible and will go out for coffees and to restaurants. I don’t have energy to argue this anymore but this gives me some hope.
— Jackie 🦈 (@FiliaOmnium) March 1, 2023
But sometimes they’re necessary!
“It’s still OK to think masks were a good idea” [Star-Tribune]. A discussion of the Cochane study that gives it a lot more credit for scholarly integrity than it deserves. Concluding: “For a brief while in the early stages of the pandemic, there was unity in the public response. Would society be as proactive again?” Depends on who’s the hegemon. More: “COVID mutations are unpredictable. Vaccine uptake is dwindling. Meanwhile, a broad outbreak of bird flu has been spreading uncharacteristically among mammals. It’s not reaching people but could have a high fatality rate if it did. Meanwhile, COVID still kills hundreds of Americans each day. You know, in case you lost track.” • As to the headline, were and are.
And set the attic on fire…
— Sophie Block (@SophieBLock3) March 1, 2023
ID/IC at it again:
From Mario Possamai’s 2020 report, “A Time of Fear.”
Why is that statement faulty inference? Because it doesn’t consider the impact of ventilation. And it’s factually incorrect, they were getting sick.
There’s that “gold standard” of evidence again. Said the same about Sars1.
— Matthew Oliver (@sameo416) March 1, 2023
NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from February 27:
For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.
• “Study shows COVID-19 rates were likely forty-times higher than CDC estimates during BA.4/BA.5 dominant period in the U.S.” [News Medical Life Sciences (NorD94)]. Original. n = 3042. “About 17% of study participants reported being infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 dominant period. This equates to 44 million cases, which is much higher than the 1.8 million cases estimated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during that period.” • Holy moley. Readers will remember I estimated six to eight times. This is very bad news, if you buy that Covid causes immune dysregulatoin (as I do. No wonder everybody is coughing). NOTE: I should give a hat tip
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published March 1:
-0.9%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,145,661 –
1,145,415 = 246 (246 * 365 = 89,790 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). Big jump because I missed yesterday.
It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)
Commodities: “Australia blocks Chinese investor from raising stake in rare earths miner” [Mining.com]. “Australian rare earths producer Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) said on Tuesday that the federal government had prevented its largest shareholder, China’s Yuxiao Fund, from raising its stake in the company on grounds of national interest. Yuxiao Fund needed the Foreign Investment Review Board’s (FIRB) approval to increase its holding in Northern Minerals to 19.9% from 9.92%.”
Energy: “Chesapeake Energy to reduce drilling amid natgas price slump” [BIC Magazine]. “U.S. natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp said it would pull back on drilling and completing wells this year as natural gas prices have crashed to a quarter of what they were last summer… Chesapeake said it will drop two rigs in the Haynesville region that covers parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana this year, and one rig in Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania and West Virginia…. Other operators, primarily private firms, were also pulling back activity in that region, he said. Earlier this month, Comstock Resources Inc said it would cut drilling rigs to seven from nine this year.”
Healthcare: “Novavax raises doubts about ability to remain in business, shares fall” [Reuters]. “COVID-19 vaccine maker Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) on Tuesday raised doubts about its ability to remain in business and announced plans to slash spending as it works to prepare for a fall vaccination campaign, and its shares plunged more than 25%. The company said there is significant uncertainty around its 2023 revenue, funding from the U.S. government, and pending arbitration with global vaccine alliance Gavi. But its cash flow forecast indicates it has sufficient capital to fund operations over the next year. Novavax also said that depending on the outcome of its arbitration with Gavi, it could be required to refund all or a portion of the roughly $700 million it received from the group, meant to pay for doses of the company’s COVID vaccine for low- and middle-income countries.” • Pfizer, good job.
Manufacturing: “Hyundai was poised to become Tesla’s top contender. Then the U.S. government blindsided it” [Los Angeles Times]. “When the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6, compact electric SUVs with base prices around $48,000, debuted a year ago, U.S. sales totaled 37,000 vehicles in the first three quarters of 2022. The Ioniq 5 and the EV6, built on the same basic platform, together overtook the Ford Mustang Mach-E as second-place contender, according to Edmunds. The Korean brands were poised to take the mantle as Tesla’s top challenger, and because of their lower price, perhaps move the needle forward on mass adoption of EVs. Then the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration’s $369-billion climate bill, put on the brakes. Under the act, only electric vehicles assembled in the U.S. would qualify for a $7,500 customer tax reblate, bad news not just for Hyundai and Kia but also for all electric car makers in Japan and Europe. That part of the IRA kicked in immediately when President Biden signed the bill in August.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 1 at 12:59 PM ET.
Not big fan of religious paintings, at least modern ones, as a rule:
Follow me, Satan (Temptation of Jesus Christ), 1903 #repin #impressionism https://t.co/uo0lxu16vQ pic.twitter.com/oJriNa0l1y
— Ilya Repin (@artistilyarepin) February 22, 2023
I wish there were more like this (though perhaps there’s a whole school and I just don’t know about it).
“The Practice of Attention” [Andy Adams, FlakPhoto]. “Digital media is the default mode for viewing photography for many of us. I’ve been a longtime champion of web-based photo experiences for obvious reasons. Digital images are beautiful, brightly backlit, and undoubtedly meaningful. Still, with so much of our contemporary photoland experience happening on Instagram, they scroll by far too quickly, which means we give them short shrift too much of the time. Printed photography doesn’t just last longer; it affords a different kind of attentional experience that changes our relationship with the pictures and the people who make them. That kind of sustained attention is continually under assault on social media, and it’s essential to comprehend someone’s photography fully.” • 100% agreed.
Our Famously Free Press
“Axios Details Mike Wilbon’s Morning “Anti-Routine” So You Too Can Be A Productive Tool Like Mike Wilbon” [Defector]. This is a sports controversy I don’t follow. That said: “It was only a matter of time before Axios and Michael Wilbon joined forces. If you’re unfamiliar with the bulletpoint fetishists at Axios, they’re one of those those digital money pits like Puck and Semafor that’s designed to make you, the peasant, feel like you’re rubbing elbows with some of the most connected and vacuous people in what’s left of the news media. If you’re unfamiliar with Wilbon, he’s the co-host of Pardon The Interruption, a preening starfucker of the highest order, and a man who regards everyday sports fans with outright disdain. I’ve hated this man’s guts for decades, and I’m ready to hate Axios for just as long. So you understand how these two entities might have something in common. And thank god for that, because on Monday Cuneyt Dil of Axios detailed Wilbon’s morning schedule, so that you can behold it with great awe and then feel much worse about your own station in life.” • It’s good that the spirit of Hunter Thompson is alive. (Also, Defector is a co-operative supported by subscriptions, and Axios is very much neither of those things. So there’s that.) Also, I had to quote Semafor the other day. Sorry.
East Palestine Toxic Train Bomb:
“East Palestine’s record of devastating derailments” [Axios Columbus]. “Long before the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment exposed East Palestine to hazardous chemicals, residents suffered from a series of devastating rail car derailments that destroyed businesses, ruined local infrastructure and often left the city stuck paying for the damage… An Axios review of hundreds of old newspaper clippings across the state and into Pennsylvania identified at least nine freight derailments in East Palestine between 1946 and 1976. All nine happened on the same line now owned by Norfolk Southern.”
“New U of M Graduate Labor Union Could Unionize 4,000 Jobs” [Racket]. “This campaign to unionize the U of M’s grad workers began in 2020, catalyzed, in part, by the university’s reaction to the pandemic. There have been past attempts to unionize those 4,000-ish jobs, though [third-year PhD candidate Anya] Auerbach says the current UMN Graduate Labor Union is by far the best organized push. (Similar union efforts have been defeated five times at the U since 1974, Minnesota Reformer reports.) This time the union is backed by United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE), which has helped graduate workers win unions in recent years at MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Northwestern. Grad assistant unions exist around the Big 10 at Iowa, Michigan, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Michigan State. The recent national surge of unionizing grad students “may become a wave,” Forbes reports. If successful, the UMN Graduate Labor Union would represent a vast swath of jobs across the U.”
“Association between precarious employment and BMI in the United States” [Obesity]. n=7280. From the Abstract: “There is growing recognition that precarious employment is an important determinant of health, which may increase BMI through multiple mechanisms, including stress. It was investigated whether increases in precarious employment were associated with changes in BMI in the United States…. Given that even small changes in weight affect chronic disease risk, policies to improve employment quality warrant consideration.”
“Not Getting Vaccinated? It Is a Matter of Problem-Solving Abilities and Socio-Cognitive Polarization” [International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health]. “The process that led individuals to accept COVID-19 vaccines required the ability to gather, synthesize, and weigh-up information within a novel, dynamically changing, complex, and ambiguous context. To deal with such complexity, we hypothesized that both the ability of reflection and flexible adaptation played a fundamental role. Based on previous research on cognitive predictors of vaccine refusal, we decided to investigate the combined role of two constructs, namely, problem-solving skills and socio-cognitive polarization (SCP), on vaccine acceptance and uptake. Two-hundred-seventy-seven US participants completed an online survey aimed to measure problem-solving ability, through a rebus puzzles task, and SCP, through a composite measure of absolutist thinking, political conservatism, and xenophobia. Mediation analyses indicated that SCP mediated the association between problem-solving ability and vaccine acceptance, so lower problem-solving abilities associated with higher polarization predicted vaccine rejection. Thus, our findings suggested that low problem-solving skills may represent a risk factor for COVID-19 vaccine refusal, with cognitive and social rigidity playing a crucial role in undermining the anti-COVID-19 vaccine uptake.” • One important function of the PMC is to use their technical and managerial skills to address society-wide irruptions like pandemics. They failed. Miserably, and lethally. So who are the stupid ones? Naturally, they blame others. This article is Blue State v. Red State hatred wrapped in verbiage, using the standard trope of “against their own interests.”
“America Is Trying to Electrify. There Aren’t Enough Electricians.” [Wall Street Journals]. “Electricians, the essential workers in the transition to renewable energy, are in increasingly short supply. They are needed to install the electric-car chargers, heat pumps and other gear deemed essential to address climate change. Electricians say they are booked several months out and struggling to find enough workers to keep up with demand. Many are raising wages and prices and worried that they won’t be able to keep up as government climate incentives kick in…. The median age of electricians is over 40 years old, in line with the broader workforce. But nearly 30% of union electricians are between ages 50 and 70 and close to retirement, up from 22% in 2005, according to the National Electrical Contractors Association. The average annual electrician salary rose from roughly $50,000 to about $60,000 from 2018 to 2022, an increase roughly in line with the national average, according to the BLS.” • If your children are making college decisions….
Brooklyn hates masks too?
I tried to recruit a young friend to “the left”. he went to an organizing event. it was indoors, no masks in sight (as in people didnt even wear them on the commute/have them on their person). he said he wouldn’t go to another one. Great movement building we are doing
— ··· (@subzerocovid) February 28, 2023
News of the Wired
Science is popping:
Darwin’s word is generally heralded as the authoritative opinion on matters of evolution. One of the things he said that we’ve been nodding along with for centuries is that males are larger than females in most mammals. (1/13) pic.twitter.com/dUJAc1Dtg7
— Kaia Tombak (@kaiatombak) February 27, 2023
As it turns out, Darwin’s sample was inadequate!
“May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.”
Wisdom of Maimonideshttps://t.co/4qxp8jFaU5#MedTwitter pic.twitter.com/vam0tBvOtB
— WesElyMD (@WesElyMD) March 1, 2023
“May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.”
“Life Need Not Ever End” [Noema]. “Perhaps the most depressing scientific idea that has ever been put forth is the infamous “heat death hypothesis.” It is a theory about the future of the universe based on the second law of thermodynamics, which in its most well-known form states that entropy, a complicated and confusing term commonly understood to simply mean “disorder,” tends to increase over time in a closed system. Therefore, if we consider that the universe is itself a closed system, the law seems to suggest that the cosmos is becoming increasingly disorganized…. In fact, some leading scientists are beginning to think that the cosmos is becoming increasingly complex and organized over time as a result of the laws of physics and the evolutionary dynamics that emerge from them. Seth Lloyd, Eric Chaisson and Freeman Dyson are among the well-known names who have questioned whether ‘disorder’ is increasing in the cosmos. Outside of physics, complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman, neuroscientist Christof Koch and Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil all believe that the universe is not destined to grow more disorganized forever, but more complex and rich with information. … David Deutsch, the father of quantum computation… argues that there are no fundamental limits to knowledge creation. [This is a very strong claim] because it specifically suggests that life in the universe need not come to an end.” • Fascinatingly, Maimonides has the same idea as Noema’s writer: “Knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend infinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements.”
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 AM:
AM writes: “This is what I got in the Big Apple!” I got to this a bit late, but it’s still lovely!
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