HomeEconomy2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2021 | naked capitalism

2:00PM Water Cooler 10/15/2021 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got an extremely late start today. More later –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

A lively bunch! Especially the bongo player weighing in every so often….

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Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Re workload: I eliminated charts for positivity, because I think private tests make those numbers useless. I cut back to a single hospitalization chart, because I think state-by-state data is more useful than a national aggregate. I retained vaccination (new administrations per day, plus percentage total), case count, and death rate (plus total). To spot new variants if and when they emerge, I changed the world chart to include countries that have form creating new variants: the UK, Brazil, and India, with Portugal as a baseline. I also retained rapid riser counties (though for now, with things so relatively quiet, I am including only this week’s data). Winter is coming! Do feel free to make additional suggestions. (If there were a global map that showed the emergence of new variants dynamically, for example, that would be helpful.)

Vaccination by region:

Coercion works? Or boosters? (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.)

56.7% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Turkey, 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…

Case count by United States regions:

Seems to be a little bit of jitteriness and waffling in the descent, which is no longer so steady.

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of social distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, although we have plenty of anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all. So what’s up with that?

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection. Readers seemed to like this, so I’ll add as a regular feature:=

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 October 14, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Speculating freely: One thing to consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. (Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 741,979 737,795. The downward trend in death rate begins anew, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment 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. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources:

I added Chile, Peru, and Iran, based on remarks from the Brain Trust. I also changed to 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

Biden Administration

“As Budget Bill Hangs in Limbo, Kyrsten Sinema Heads to Europe” [New York Times]. “Ms. Sinema’s office declined to say how long she would be abroad, what countries she was visiting, how the trip was being paid for and whether she was doing any additional fund-raising for her own campaign. Her political team had reached out to set up meetings in London and Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter.” • Since Schumer is silent, he wants her to do what he’s doing. Lucy and the Football!


I like Briahna Joy Gray a lot:

Guest Burden-Stelly: “Kamala is a failed Condaleeza Rice.” Ouch! OTOH, she stans for Stacey Abrams… Interestingly, both speakers think the Reconciliation Bill won’t happen.


“‘Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier’ | Oct 18 only on Hulu” [ABC]. • So they’re cranking up RussiaGate again…

“Trump Shares His Thoughts On Golden Showers In Bonkers Off-Script Moment” [HuffPost] • As if the entire smear weren’t bonkers! (Although perhaps Steele will revive it on the way to his book deal?)

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index fell fifteen points to 19.8 in October of 2021 from 34.3 in September and well below market forecasts of 27, pointing to a slower factory growth in the NY state but solid overall. New orders and shipments increased, though by less than they did last month. At the same time, labor market indicators pointed to ongoing growth in employment and the average workweek. Meanwhile, the delivery times index inched up to a record high and both the prices paid and prices received indexes held near record highs. Looking ahead, firms were still very optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months.”

Retail Sales: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US unexpectedly increased 0.7 % mom in September of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.9% surge in August, beating market forecasts of a 0.2% fall, in another sign of resilience from consumers despite supply constraints which affect vehicles and computers among other goods.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US fell to 71.4 in October of 2021 from 72.8 in September and below market forecasts of 73.1, preliminary estimates showed. The gauge of current conditions dropped to 77.9 from 80.1 while the expectations subindex went down to 67.2 from 68.1. Meanwhile, inflation expectations for the year-ahead edged up to 4.8% from 4.6% while the 5-year outlook eased to 2.8% from 3%. The Delta variant, supply chain shortages, and reduced labor force participation rates will continue to dim the pace of consumer spending into 2022. There is another, less tangible factor that has contributed to the slump in optimism: confidence in government economic policies has significantly declined during the past six months.” • That last reading is odd; Democrats are supposed to be good on the economy.

Inventories: “United States Business Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturers’ and trade inventories in the US rose 0.6 percent from a month earlier in August of 2021, following an upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain in July and in line with market expectations.” • And so they ought to be up.

* * *

Retail: “White House Warns Supply Chain Shortages Could Lead Americans To Discover True Meaning Of Christmas” [The Onion]. • A new angle on Christmas starting before Halloween, for sure.

The Bezzle: “Antiquities Dealer Admits Mass-Producing Fakes He Sold for Years” [New York Times]. “‘Over the course of three decades I have sold thousands of fraudulent antiquities to countless unsuspecting collectors,’ [Mehrdad Sadigh] said, according to the statement he read in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, adding, ‘I can only say that I was driven by financial greed.’…. In describing his scheme in court, Mr. Sadigh said that to hide his deceptions he had hired a company to flag, remove and bury Google search results and online reviews that suggested that some of what he had sold might be inauthentic. Mr. Sadigh also admitted to getting others to post glowing, but false, reviews of his gallery, inventing dozens of appreciative customers. After Mr. Sadigh was arrested in August, prosecutors said he appeared to be among the biggest purveyors of fake artifacts in the country, based on his ‘substantial financial gains’ and the longevity of his business…. Matthew Bogdanos, the chief of the district attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, said in August that Mr. Sadigh had been using a sort of assembly-line process, involving varnish, spray paints and a belt sander, that seemed designed to alter contemporary mass-produced items so they would appear aged.” • Sadigh gets probation, but the Sacklers get away clean. Go big or go home, I guess.

Manufacturing: “Maker of plane parts Boeing calls flawed supplied Spirit, others: Report” [Channel News Asia]. “An Italian sub-contractor at the centre of the latest snags to emerge on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has worked for a broad set of aerospace companies including Spirit AeroSystems, according to industry sources and documents. Boeing and regulators said earlier some 787 jetliner parts were improperly made over the past three years. They were supplied indirectly by Manufacturing Process Specification (MPS), as a sub-contractor to Leonardo. In March, Boeing warned Spirit AeroSystems about suspected problems with parts at MPS and asked it to use alternative suppliers as it continued an audit of the Italian company’s operations, according to a letter seen by Reuters. It also asked Wichita-based Spirit to trace any MPS parts it had used back to 2017 and to treat them as “suspect nonconforming,” meaning they would be subject to further checks. ‘Out of an abundance of caution while Boeing conducts further testing and evaluation, Boeing has also decided to consider all product processed by MPS to be suspect,’ it said.” • “A snag.”

Manufacturing: “Ex-Boeing test pilot indicted for fraud in 737 Max probe” [ABC]. “Boeing’s former 737 MAX test pilot, Mark Forkner, was indicted for fraud Thursday for allegedly misleading regulators about problems tied to the aircraft’s two fatal crashes. The ex-chief technical pilot is the first Boeing employee to be charged over the 737 Max’s failures…. ‘In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,’ Acting U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas said in a release. ‘His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 MAX flight controls. .’” • Well, maybe things have changed at Justice since Obama’s day:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 34 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 15 at 12:51pm.

The Gallery

Good for Banksy, but what a metaphor:

Screening Room

“The Man Who Finally Made a ‘Dune’ That Fans Will Love” [New York Times]. Possibly. I hope so! But this is the most sycophantic, obsequious profile I have ever read. One of many gems: “Villeneuve’s laughter, I would learn, often precedes statements of searching honesty.”

Our Famously Free Press

Good question:

“If they’re lying about a commedian taking horse medication, what are they telling us about Russia?”

“Gupta tells Joe Rogan CNN shouldn’t have called ivermectin ‘horse dewormer’” [The Hill]. “‘Do you think that’s a problem that your news network lies,’ Rogan asked. ‘Dude, they lied and said I was taking horse dewormer.’ ‘Yeah, yeah yeah, they shouldn’t have said it was horse’ dewormer, Gupta responded. ‘If you got a human pill, because there were people who were taking it, the veterinary medication, and you’re not obviously because you got it from a doctor, so it shouldn’t be called that.’” • It wasn’t just CNN. They all did it. Pack journalists inciting a moral panic. And then every liberal Democrat blue check on the Twitter piled on. They even corrupted Trisha Greenhalgh!

News of the Wired

Chris Arnade walking again:

Downtown Chicago seems empty and could be anywhere; but further out, more scenes that could be nowhere but America..

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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 (JB):

And also fish:

JB writes:

Like the Beverly Hillbillies, I have a cement pond. Back at the beginning of the pandemic (coincidentally but it’s a handy way of keeping time for this), and frustrated with the swimming pool’s general lack of use (maybe three or four times a year, max) I hit on a plan everybody told me wouldn’t work . . . to turn it into a 20,000 gallon aquarium for the purpose of housing koi. Why wouldn’t it work? Too deep to see the fish (I see them often enough to suit me), too hot in the FL sun (I’ve just begun planting water lilies in hopes of shading the water somewhat – more about that anon).

Anyway, you see, amongst other hobbies, I’m an aquarist of sorts. No, not to the extent you see amongst some, which I consider a bit overboard (like 10 aquaria in their homes), I’ve nevertheless kept a tank for more than forty years of marriage (both freshwater and marine, back to freshwater again at present). Had one as a kid living at home growing up beginning with an alligator and turtle as a child when these were still sold (and picked up the fish hobby from a neighbor as a preteen).

So I’ve one tank in the living room most would consider large. However, the big tank, the cement pond is a work in progress. One, which attracts various types of life in addition to the three goldfish with which I initially stocked it. These, incidentally now numbering over thirty because they’re breeding. And I was told by many pros this wouldn’t happen, either.

My point? I’m sharing a few photos to include some water lilies we have successfully introduced. Specifically a water lily blossom. And interesting (to me at least), is discovering they bloom during the day, fold up again in the evenings, and like an umbrella, unfurl again in the morning. How many times? Dunno, only discovered they do this today!

Note, I don’t feed these fish. They subsist exclusively on whatever they catch – mosquito larva I presume, plus who knows what else, bugs of various sorts that fall in, algae, maybe?

There are also frogs inhabiting the pond. Food for the fish? I doubt it as they’re generally as large if not larger than the fish. Maybe the other way around, dunno because I don’t keep a close count of noses. But I will note I began with three goldfish and have counted more than 30.

And birds come by occasionally. Have seen a blue heron perched on the pool deck wall but the water depth (3′-9′) probably dissuades it. No photo but I did snap one today of a cow bird eying the menu. Anyway, the water lilies are planted in pots we sink with pieces of concrete block for weighting, and soil covered in gravel to keep it floating away. Also have some reeds of some type. I’m indiscriminate at present as just making it all live is the goal. Fine tuning can wait. The only green thing growing better than the water lilies, which are now growing like gangbusters? The algae. That shit really grows!

Anyway, I am deriving great pleasure from my experiment. It took about 6 months for the chlorine to dissipate 100% before I tried introducing the fish back in January, or so. The plan is for koi but the darned goldfish I introduced for biological cycling (and testing the concept) are more fun right now. Three are getting rather large so they must be eating enough. Who knows, maybe they plow through the spawn? Again, dunno.

Photos attached for your flora and fauna pleasure.

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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