By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Reader Query Once More: Periodically we’ve posted threads of recommendations for vendors (doctors, dentists, restaurants, retail, gyms, performance venues) that are what I might call “airborne conscious,” that is, having proper ventilation (HEPA, CO2 meter, maybe Far UV), and masking. Very infrequently I see a site float by, but nothing really seems to click. Thank you! –lambert P.S. There’s certainly nothing on Google Maps, in the sense that this information is a normal field like address and phone, which would indeed be very handy, though perhaps someone has built a Google map that does this.
Bird Song of the Day
Ultramarine Grosbeak, Distrito Capital, Venezuela. “Neotropical Institute Cut # 8. Bulk reel: 177 Background quite clean although Arremonops conirostris is heard faintly. Note: the last two songs may be of a different individual.”
“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
Biden’s SOTU stats:
biden’s sotu stats are in:
-27.3m views (second smallest audience in 30 yrs)
-73% viewers 55 and older
-5% under 35
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) February 9, 2023
However, if, as Stoller urges below, Biden’s real audience was the party, this doesn’t matter very much.
“Former Twitter Executives Say They Erred in Blocking Links to Hunter Biden Laptop Articles” [Wall Street Journal]. The deck: “Executives tell House Oversight Committee that mistakes stemmed from limited information, not pressure from government officials.” • The deck seems to encapsulate the Democrat(/RINO?) framing very well. So, no “government officials,” no problem? This is moronic. First, the pressure came from Democrat party officials (as “The Twitter Files” makes quite clear). The head of that party later became President, and it’s not implausible to think that’s the result of “election interference” in the form of Twitter’s suppression of the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s laptop. (Surely, what’s sauce for the “but her emails” goose is sauce for the “Hunter’s laptop” gander?) Second, the distinction between Twitter employees, government officials, and the Democrat Party is a false one. In reality, Twitter content moderation was a ginormous cuddle puddle of Democrat tribalist Flexians, some pitching, some catching, in which all such distinctions were collapsed. Holy Lord, the Republicans are going to butcher this easy lay-up, I can see it coming.
“House GOP’s under-the-radar Hunter Biden problem: DOJ got there first” [Politico]. “House Republicans are itching to investigate Hunter Biden. But they have a problem: The feds got there first. Though their probes differ in focus and scope — Republicans are looking at possible conflicts of interest by the Biden family writ large while the Justice Department homes in on potential crimes by Hunter Biden — they’re treading on overlapping terrain. That’s an issue for the House GOP, because any DOJ indictment of Hunter Biden would effectively close off certain investigative paths. The turf battle has flown largely under the radar, but it threatens to undermine one of House Republicans’ most highly visible priorities for their new majority. Investigating Hunter Biden is one of the few things they could do unilaterally, at least in theory. But the DOJ looms as a potential roadblock.” • I wouldn’t worry. Surely the DOJ investigation will be complete before 2024.
“Biden’s 2024 headaches” [Axios]. “Chicago Democrats are pushing President Biden to choose their city for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, warning that hosting the event in a right-to-work state like Georgia would be a major insult to the labor movement.” Note also: “The DNC has given New Hampshire and Georgia until June to comply with the new calendar dates, but Democrats will punish New Hampshire if they jump ahead, likely by revoking delegates at the national party convention.”
“Poll: DeSantis leads Trump for 2024 GOP nod — but not if Haley and others split the vote” [Yahoo News]. • This is their story: Trump won because the party was divided. No. Trump won because he was the better candidate. (Purely on the technical, nuts and bolts level: Show me another candidate who did A/B testing, personally, live before audiences.)
“DeSantis edges closer to 2024 decision” [The Hill]. “Several Republicans familiar with the deliberations say that DeSantis is almost certain to seek the GOP’s presidential nomination. His advisers have begun reaching out to and interviewing potential hires for a campaign and are gaming out the best time to announce his intentions. A formal campaign launch is still months away, they say, and won’t likely come until after the state legislature wraps up its regular session in May. Two sources familiar with the plans said that the Florida governor could announce his presidential bid as early as late May or early June. ‘I think his mind is pretty much made up at this point,’ one Republican operative said. ‘My read on it is: Let’s get through session, get some stuff done and see where things stand. But unless something changes drastically between now and then, I’d say he’s a go.’ DeSantis has said little about his 2024 ambitions, but his growing stature within the GOP is clear. Early polling shows him tied with or beating former President Trump, his onetime political benefactor, in a head-to-head primary match-up, and conservatives are increasingly naming him as a top choice for the party’s presidential nod.”
“‘Sorry, Ron, you’re No. 2′: Sununu says he’s the top dog among conservative governors” [Politico]. “‘I’m ranked the most fiscally conservative governor in the country,’ Sununu, who is considering a 2024 presidential bid, told POLITICO’s Lisa Kashinsky. ‘I’m No. 1 in personal freedoms. Sorry, Ron, you’re No. 2,’ he added, a jab at the Florida governor, considered a frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. ‘I would challenge anyone on Second Amendment rights. We’re far and away the best, you know, because we believe in those individual freedoms. Regulatory reform, I’ll challenge any state on it,’ Sununu added. Sununu acknowledged that he may be ‘more moderate’ on social issues. But on those issues, New Hampshire has ‘better results than almost anywhere else,’ he said. ‘I would challenge anyone on conservative credentials.’” • Testing whether short-bodied Yalie DeSantis can take a punch? Because the DeSantis boomlet looks engineered by Never Trumpers, to me.
“Emails expose right-wing fraudsters’ scheme to use robo calls to suppress Black voter turnout in Cleveland” [Cleveland.com]. ” Hours after right-wing fraud peddlers Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl unleashed tens of thousands of robocalls on Black voters in Cleveland and other cities across the country to suppress their vote in the November 2020 election, Burkman dashed off a giddy email to his partner provocateur…. The emails bolstered Cuyahoga County prosecutors’ assertion that the men specifically sought to suppress Black voter turnout in the 2020 election between Democrat Joe Biden and then-President Donald Trump…. The email is among several pieces of evidence that prosecutors here used to charge and eventually elicit guilty pleas from Burkman and Wohl for calls that went to Cleveland and East Cleveland residents. The men also face similar criminal charges in Michigan, which are pending.”
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.
* * *
“Bill Clinton Has Left the Building” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. I put this in Links this morning, but I want to draw your attention to this paragraph:
The way to understand political arguments isn’t about who wins the debate. It’s about who gets to ask the question. If the President proposes something about flag burning, then politics becomes defined around what people think of flag burning. If he discusses big business, then big business becomes the realm of political activity. So what Biden said in his State of the Union mattered, because .
This jibes very nicely with the portrait of the Democrat Party — really, the heirarchy of elected and party officials, by no means the complete Party — painted by Kim Stanley Robinons in New York, 2140, quoted in Water Cooler, January 31. Charlotte, one of the protagonists, has just been asked to run for Congress:
“No way!” Charlotte said, shocked. “What about the mayor’s candidate?”>
[The Democrat] Party was a hierarchy; you started at the bottom and moved up one step at a time—school board, city council, state assembly—and then if you had demonstrated lockstep team loyalty, the powers at the top would give you the party endorsement and its aid, and you were good to go. Had been that way for centuries. Outsiders did pop up to express various dissatisfactions, and occasionally some of them even overthrew the order of things and got elected, but then they were ostracized by the party and could get nothing done. They just wasted their time and whatever little money could be dredged up to support such quixotic tilts.
So indeed “the powers at the top” tell “the Democratic Party establishment what to think about.” Seems like a vulnerability….
Realignment and Legitimacy
“U.S. lawmakers try again to end ‘forever war’ authorizations” [Reuters]. “Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday seeking to repeal two longstanding authorizations for past wars in Iraq, renewing an ongoing effort to reassert Congress’ role in deciding whether to send troops into combat. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, Republican Senator Todd Young, Republican Representatives Tom Cole and Chip Roy and Democratic Representatives Barbara Lee and Abigail Spanberger led the effort to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs.” • Moderates!
“Martin Wolf on Democratic Capitalism (and me as it turns out!)” [Equality by Lot]. “Martin Wolf is talking up a storm on the crisis of democratic capitalism, and he’s supporting sortition as you can hear from around 11 minutes in where I’ve set it up to begin.”
“You’re probably wrong about how things have changed” [Experimental History]. “I think the better solution is to crank down your convictions. It’s easy to feel like you know what things were like back then and what they’re like now, but it’s hard to actually know. You can’t get a good sense of the past or the present by skimming the headlines, just like you can’t get a good sense of America by spending a 4-hour layover at the Reno airport. You have to rent a car and drive around, talk to people, eat a burrito, fall in love, watch some bad standup, host Thanksgiving, go camping, get your heart broken, take the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, play intramural basketball, and move apartments four times in three years—and even then all you really know is that you don’t know much. And that’s just what it takes to know the present. Knowing the past is much harder. History is an endless display of priceless vases and time is a dude with a sledgehammer smashing each one in turn: once a moment is gone, it’s gone for good, and all we can do is try to piece together what it used to look like. Maybe this piece went with that one? Maybe it’s a picture of a—is that a lion, or is that a person? Meanwhile, the pile of shards grows taller. These studies show that, when we try to glue the vases back together, we don’t just mix up some pieces randomly. We consistently put some of them in the wrong place. One of the big mistakes we make is failing to realize how liberal attitudes already were in the past, and how little they’ve changed since then. Americans were already split on abortion in the 1970s, they’ve long thought that people with unpopular opinions should have the right to free speech, and most of them have believed for decades that humans are causing climate change. A majority of them also thought interracial marriage was bad as recently as 1990. The past is complicated, man. So next time you’ve got an inkling that things ain’t like they used to be, consider the possibility that you might be totally wrong. Man, people used to be so much better at this!”
Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. Stay safe out there!
A bit of self-criticisism here: Unlike Eric Topol I did not call a “surge” in January, because in my mind a “surge” worthy of the name would need to be of Bidenian, Omicronic scale. However, I prepared to make the call. My theory of the case was that (1) holiday travel, the elimination of all mitigations, and new variants that were more transmissible and immune evasive would make the numbers, and (2) the pattern of spread, given holiday travel, would be similar to the pattern in 2020: Starting in airports, with air travel, and spreading. Hence, as you will remember, I started tracking wastewater in airports and hospitalization in 2020’s epicenter, New York (JFK/LGA), and indeed both wastewater and hospitalization in those areas were high. But no surge on the Omicron level made itself visible, and so I did not call one. However, what the wastewater case data (see below) clearly shows is that there was a surge, slightly higher than July 2022, and higher than all the surges except Omicron. This surge I did not call, for which I apologize. (I flashed on using the wastewater data as a proxy for case data too late.) Perhaps I’ve become jaded, idk.
I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.
Lambert here (again):
Today I’m going to reconfigure Covid coverage (at least temporarily; we may need to adjust to another surge). I’ve always thought of this section as providing readers with not only trend data, but early warning about locations (to the county level) particularly in travel season. But now the data is simply too slow and too bad, unsurprisingly, since “Covid is over.” So I will revert to three charts only: national Case Data (Biobot), state Positivity (Walgreens), and national Deaths (Our World in Data). I will include links to Transmission (CDC), Wastewater (CDC), and Variants (CDC; Walgreens). I will still cover all of these topics (especially variants), but eliminate the charts. I also feel that the top of the #COVID19 section has not been sufficiently structured, and I’m going to create some buckets, like “Indoor Air,” or “Masks” (and “Variants,” if I encounter a good link). This reconfiguration is not a “step back,” as Dima would say; but I do think I can use the freed-up time to beef up other sections, like Politics and especially Stats. Reader comment welcome!
“Hidden harms of indoor air pollution — five steps to expose them” [Nature]. “Air pollution is a leading cause of illness — from asthma to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and, probably, dementia. For outdoor air pollution, improved standards and regulations, guided by science, have over the past three decades markedly driven down emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in many parts of the world. Indoor air pollution hasn’t received the same attention, even though it might cause almost as many deaths globally — 3.2 million in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), compared with around 3.5 million linked to polluted outdoor air (see go.nature.com/3jngf7x). In industrialized nations, most people spend 80–90% of their time indoors — in private homes as well as in public spaces such as schools, workplaces, transport hubs, hospitals and supermarkets. Such spaces are typically not subject to legally enforceable ambient air-quality standards… Decision makers need scientific evidence to help them prioritize groups of interventions and to develop strategies for improving indoor air quality. There are many options, but it is difficult to quantify the effect of each intervention (see go.nature.com/3wv28vt). Generally, as for outdoors, removing the largest sources of emission is most effective. That might mean replacing gas cookers with electric stoves, or reformulating products — for example, changing sprays such as deodorants and air fresheners that contain butane and propane to use nitrogen or air instead. Some indoor sources are surprisingly large — in the United Kingdom, compressed-aerosol cans now release more volatile organic compounds than do petrol cars.”
Mass producing Corsi-Rosenthal boxes:
This is such a great project s/o Dave and others for working on it consistently for so long https://t.co/zOlAgqI73R
— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) February 9, 2023
I don’t know why the hatred and shaming for masks doesn’t happen with CR Boxes too. Odd!
“Is Orthrus the Next Top-Dog COVID Variant?” [MedPage Today]. “The Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5opens in a new tab or window — aka “Krakenopens in a new tab or window” — has climbed to more than 66% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., but a relatively new Omicron subvariant named after a two-headed dog may be nipping at its tentacles. Over the last several weeks, CH.1.1 — deemed “Orthrusopens” after a monster canine in Greek mythology — accounted for less than 2% of new COVID cases in the U.S. as of January, per the CDC. However, Orthrus has a mutation, L452R, previously seen in the highly pathogenic Delta variant, and highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 variants, according to researchers from the Ohio State University in Columbus. In a BioRxiv preprint, Shan-Lu Liu, MD, PhD, and colleagues said Orthrus emerged in Southeast Asia in November 2022, and now accounts for about a quarter of cases in the U.K. and New Zealand. At other times in the pandemic, the U.K. has served as a bellwether of what could hit the U.S. in terms of new variants and potential surges. They also explained that Orthrus, along with another new variant, CA.3.1, possess a ‘consistently stronger neutralization resistance than XBB, XBB.1, and XBB.1.5, which is astonishing and warrants continuous monitoring and further investigations.’ Liu’s group called for continuing current vaccination strategies, or the investigation of new ones, and the ongoing surveillance of emerging variants. The February 2023 COVID epidemiological update from the World Health Organization (WHO) lists Orthrus among the top three most prevalent variants in Europe, clocking in at 12.3%, slightly behind BQ.1 at 13% and BQ.1.1 at 31.3%.”
“Early Treatment with Pegylated Interferon Lambda for Covid-19” [NEJM (NL)]. n = 933. Brazil. From the Discussion: “This phase 3 trial, which was conducted in a predominantly vaccinated population infected with various SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, showed the efficacy of a single subcutaneous dose of administered within 7 days after the onset of symptoms (mean, 3 days). This regimen resulted in a greater than 50% reduction in the risk of a primary-outcome [hospitalization or ER] event. Our trial findings were consistent across the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and across multiple subgroups according to vaccination status.”
“Incidence and predictors of breakthrough and severe breakthrough infections of SARS-CoV-2 after primary series vaccination in adults: A population-based survey of 22,575 participants” (accepted manuscript) [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. n = 89,762. From the Abstract: “Breakthrough infection was 4-25 times more common during the Omicron-dominant wave versus earlier waves. Higher burden of severe breakthrough infections was identified in subgroups.”
This is a brilliant segment by the @Todayshow about the direct connection between catching Covid and the raised risk of a heart attack.
I had to keep pinching myself to check it was real and I wasn’t dreaming.
Thank you @NBCNews @ErinNBCNews @DrJohnTorres
Please share widely! pic.twitter.com/z7EqqMruwx
— tern (@1goodtern) February 9, 2023
Good to see this make it through on one of the networks.
Science Is Popping
“Scientists discover receptor that blocks COVID-19 infection” (press release) [University of Sydney]. “University of Sydney scientists have discovered a protein in the lung that blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection and forms a natural protective barrier in the human body. This protein, the leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 15 (LRRC15), is an inbuilt receptor that binds the SARS-CoV-2 virus without passing on the infection. The research opens up an entirely new area of immunology research around LRRC15 and offers a promising pathway to develop new drugs to prevent viral infection from coronaviruses like COVID-19 or deal with fibrosis in the lungs. The study has been published in the journal PLOS Biology. ”
“Inhalable ‘SHIELD’ Protects Lungs Against COVID-19, Flu Viruses” (press release) [North Carolina State University]. “Researchers have developed an inhalable powder that could protect lungs and airways from viral invasion by reinforcing the body’s own mucosal layer. The powder, called Spherical Hydrogel Inhalation for Enhanced Lung Defense, or SHIELD, reduced infection in both mouse and non-human primate models over a 24-hour period, and can be taken repeatedly without affecting normal lung function. ‘The idea behind this work is simple – viruses have to penetrate the mucus in order to reach and infect the cells, so we’ve created an inhalable bioadhesive that combines with your own mucus to prevent viruses from getting to your lung cells,’ says Ke Cheng, corresponding author of the paper describing the work. “Mucus is the body’s natural hydrogel barrier; we are just enhancing that barrier.” • One can only wonder how much creative, useful, life-saving work has been held back by “vax only” and “the pandemic is over.” But there seems to be a lot of work coming out just now (I commented on all the nasal-related work coming out in prestigious journals). One can only hope that’s not a sign that funding has dried up.
“Mucociliary Clearance Augmenting Drugs Block SARS-Cov-2 Replication in Human Airway Epithelial Cells” [bioRxiv]. “A prominent component of COVID-19 is the infection and destruction of the ciliated respiratory cells, which perpetuates dissemination and disrupts protective mucociliary transport (MCT) function, an innate defense of the respiratory tract. Thus, drugs that augment MCT could improve barrier function of the airway epithelium, reduce viral replication and, ultimately, COVID-19 outcomes. We tested five agents known to increase MCT through distinct mechanisms for activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection using a model of human respiratory epithelial cells terminally differentiated in an air/liquid interphase. Three of the five mucoactive compounds tested showed significant inhibitory activity against SARS-CoV-2 replication.” • Same comment as above.
Hospital Infection Control is at it again:
I have never, nor will I ever have a private practice
Happy to discuss my reasons openly online, but @nick_coatsworth has just given me another
H/t @AshFWH pic.twitter.com/05nHcFswNc
— David R Tomlinson 🇺🇦💙 (@DRTomlinsonEP) February 9, 2023
“Cost neutral” is rather a give-away, isn’t it? Nickel-and-diming patients to death to keep the mask line item low! As Coatsworth would, in his private practice (as opposed to Canadian Medicare).
At the doctor’s office:
Fathomless arrogance and ignorance!
BioBot wastewater data from February 9:
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.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 10:
-0.8%. Still on the high plateau, equal to previous peaks.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Total: 1,139,675 –
1,137,929 = 1746 (1746 * 365 = 637,290 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).
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.)
There are no statistics of note today.
Shipping: “More boxships inactive as freight levels tank” [Container News]. “Close to 6% of the global boxship fleet is now idle, up from just under 5% a week ago, according to Alphaliner. It appears that it is mainly the carrier-controlled small and mid-sized vessels that are now unemployed. Alphaliner’s count suggests that 338 vessels totalling around 1.48 million TEUs are now inactive, as freight levels, cargo volumes, and port congestion revert to pre-Covid-19 levels. The inactive fleet was dominated by 1,000 TEU to 2,000 TEU ships, with 74 idle vessels followed by 3,000 TEU to 5,100 TEU range, of which there were 64 idle vessels. Vessel inactivity increase across all ship size classes with the exception of very large and ultra large ships above 12,500 TEUs, where it remained more or less stable, with just 31 inactive ships. nIdle ships are defined as vessels that are not generating revenue, such as those in warm or cold lay-up, in-between service assignments for longer-than-normal periods, arrested, detained, abandoned, or idle for any other reasons.”
The Bezzle: “Cheating carriers could cost web-starved Americans billions in subsidies” [The Register]. “Major US carriers are exaggerating the availability of fixed wireless services and leaving under-served communities at risk of missing out on billions in federal funding that would pay for improved services. The findings, detailed in a Bloomberg report this week, found that T-Mobile and Verizon routinely claimed to offer fixed wireless services where no such service was actually available. The incentive to do so is obvious from a competitive standpoint: marketing is marketing after all. According to Bloomberg, the carriers’ coverage maps claim services are available before they’ve actually built the necessary infrastructure. But if they have plans to build the infrastructure eventually, what’s the harm? The harm is that if carrier maps show that particular cities and towns already have broadband access they won’t be eligible for a share of the $42.5 billion in federal infrastructure funds the Biden administration allocated to improve internet service across the US.”
The Bezzle: “U.S. judge extends FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail restrictions” [Reuters]. “‘I am far less interested in the defendant’s convenience’ than in preventing possible witness-tampering, [U.S. District Judge Lewis] Kaplan said at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.” • And there is like a billion dollars floating around out there somewhere, no?
The Bezzle: A thread on spotting ChatGPT papers:
Well, we are on week five of this semester and I’ve already been handed a paper written by ChatGPT.
They’re not hard to spot if you know how the AI crafts ‘answers’ and the mistakes it makes, but now is the time to familiarize yourself with what that looks like.
— Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux) February 9, 2023
Manufacturing: “Boeing 737 MAX plea deal withstands challenge from crash victims’ families” [Reuters]. “A U.S. judge in Texas on Thursday denied a legal bid by families of the victims of two Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX crashes to reopen or reject a January 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. Boeing won immunity from criminal prosecution as part of the $2.5 billion Justice Department agreement over a 737 MAX fraud conspiracy charge related to the plane’s flawed design. The families had asked the court to strip Boeing of immunity from prosecution, toss out, revise or supervise the agreement and order disclosure of information about Boeing’s conduct. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled he did not have legal authority to grant the relatives’ requests despite what he called ‘Boeing’s egregious criminal conduct.’”
Mr. Market: “The Stock Market Is in the Mood to Rally, Even if It Defies Logic” [Barron’s]. “There’s still a big disconnect in the market’s logic. If the labor market and the economy hold up, then the Fed would probably not feel inclined to lower interest rates in the back half of 2023, as futures pricing implies. It might take some real deterioration in the economic data to spur the central bank into action. In other words, it’s hard to see a scenario aside from rates staying higher for longer—lifting bond yields and putting pressure on stock valuations—or growth disappointing, dragging down earnings. There’s still a big disconnect in the market’s logic. If the labor market and the economy hold up, then the Fed would probably not feel inclined to lower interest rates in the back half of 2023, as futures pricing implies. It might take some real deterioration in the economic data to spur the central bank into action. In other words, it’s hard to see a scenario aside from rates staying higher for longer—lifting bond yields and putting pressure on stock valuations—or growth disappointing, dragging down earnings.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 10 at 1:40 PM EST.
Civil War Studies
It is said that after the 1st Minnesota’s charge on July 2 at Gettysburg, where they lost 82% of the unit, when Hancock asked Col. Colvill how he was, he responded “all good, no worries” https://t.co/vdCJ1ZIZCu
— Angry Staff Officer (@pptsapper) February 9, 2023
Many other examples, you betcha!
Bird Flu (H5N1)
Let’s hope it’s a flash in the pan. Reader updates welcome!
This Louisiana physician is reporting there was a confirmed case of H5N1 on a flight from Hong Kong to Houston, but there has been no public confirmation or media coverage yet. https://t.co/3OEjYpxkLI
— Laura Miers (@LauraMiers) February 10, 2023
See the thread for commentary on the sourcing. I think Najberg is at least real enough to draw to your attention. (Note that I have very strong priors on air travel. But just because something rings true doesn’t mean it is true.)
A follow up on the questionable report of the H5N1 case from Houston. https://t.co/kXieWZQFdq
— Michael Olesen 💉😷🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@maolesen) February 10, 2023
The difficulty here, after Covid, is believing public health officials. They don’t want us to panic (meaning they are panicked because my gawd, careers are at stake).
“US – Medical doctor reports there is an H5N1 avian flu case in Houston, reportedly traveled from Hong Kong – February 9, 2023 – no official confirmation yet” [Flu Trackers]. • This looks like the source to watch. It’s a forum, so there’s a long thread, including a response from the physician, Tiffany Najberg, as well as a copy of her physicians license, follow-ups, etc. The moderators published it in “Discussion,” not “News,” a nice distinction!
“Explore Hundreds of Exquisite Botanical Collages Created by an 18th-Century Septuagenarian Artist” [Colossal]. “At age 72, Mary Delany (1700-1788) devoted herself to her art practice, taking up a form of decoupage to create an exquisite collection of botanical collages from dyed and cut paper. She interpreted many of the delicate specimens she encountered in Buckinghamshire while staying with her friend, the Duchess of Portland, through layered pieces on black backdrops. From the wispy clover-like leaves of an oxalis plant to the wildly splayed petals of the daffodil, the realistic works are both stunning for their beauty and faithfulness to the original lifeforms. Known for her scientific precision, Delany labeled each specimen with the plant’s taxonomic and common names, the date, location of creation, name of the donor, and a collection number, the latter of which was used to organize all 985 collages in her Flora Delanica series. Together, the works create a vast and diverse florilegium, or compilation of botanicals and writings in the tradition of commonplace books.” For example:
Like the Moscow Subway:
This is a sewage pumping station from 1865.
Why did the Victorians build things like that? Were they just confused? Or did they have the right idea? pic.twitter.com/Za5RPUcqZt
— The Cultural Tutor (@culturaltutor) February 10, 2023
Or the New York Public Library, in its own way.
Our Famously Free Press
“Finish line: Fighting unwinnable wars” [Axios]. • Anecdote about Roger Ailes. Funny, I thought the story would be about something else. Maybe I shoujld have filed this under Zeitgeist Watch.
“Two former factory workers are going head to head in a battle to control one of America’s most powerful unions” [Fortune]. “[This] will be the first-ever direct election of a UAW president in the union’s 88-year history… Until this year, the leaders of the UAW had always been chosen by delegates to a convention rather than by rank-and-file union members. But in the aftermath of a bribery-and-embezzlement scandal involving union officials, members voted to hold a direct election this time…. Under Curry’s leadership for the past 19 months, the UAW has taken a more aggressive stance in labor talks, having gone on strike against Volvo Trucks, John Deere, the University of California and CNHI, a maker of agricultural and construction equipment. In forthcoming contract negotiations, Curry and Fain have each said they would seek to restore traditional pensions, which, beginning in 2007, were replaced by a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan for new hires. Both also want cost-of-living and general pay raises and an end to differing tiers of wages and benefits for workers doing the same jobs, depending on their length of service.” • However:
More workers shut out of the fraudulent UAW election:
“Nobody on my team got a ballot. I’m talking 14 or 15 people.”
“I’m disgusted about it. I’ve got a right to say who leads us just like anybody else who pays dues. A lot of us feel the same way. None of our voices got heard.” pic.twitter.com/jg9TbbiZ1x
— Will Lehman | WillforUAWpresident.org (@WillforUAWpres) February 10, 2023
“It’s pretty shameful and disrespectful, for us to not know about an election that has to do with our future.”
This worker explains she didn’t get a ballot in the first round of the UAW election, but now the runoff between Curry and Fain is being advertised widely in the plant. pic.twitter.com/TWcp0gHxYw
— Will Lehman | WillforUAWpresident.org (@WillforUAWpres) February 10, 2023
“Will New Leadership Make the UAW Labor’s Vanguard Once Again?” [The Nation]. “The insurgent candidate, Fain, joined the UAW in 1994 as an electrician at Chrysler’s Kokomo Casting Plant. After nearly 20 years in the shop, he became a union staffer but also a burr under the leadership’s saddle. He was among those on the UAW bargaining team who urged rank-and-file rejection of contracts that won little or nothing from Fiat-Chrysler. With other reformers, Fain wanted the UAW to elect top officers by vote of the entire membership—a break from the long-standing delegated convention system that insured control by an Administrative Caucus all too adept at doling out favors or punishing dissidents. Curry, an African American who got his start in a North Carolina truck plant, has been on the union executive board for more than a decade. He won board appointment to the union presidency in 2021. The Administration Caucus was founded three-quarters of a century ago by the newly empowered forces supporting Walter Reuther. At the time, it was a vibrant coalition of militants, ranging from Trotskyists on the left to Catholics corporatists on the right, all ready to take on the big auto corporations. But after 1980 UAW membership plummeted as plant closures, foreign competition, periodic recessions, and the growth of nonunion production in the South sapped the union’s strength.”
“‘Disrespectful to the Craft:’ Actors Say They’re Being Asked to Sign Away Their Voice to AI” [Vice]. “Voice actors are increasingly being asked to sign rights to their voices away so clients can use artificial intelligence to generate synthetic versions that could eventually replace them, and sometimes without additional compensation, according to advocacy organizations and actors who spoke to Motherboard. Those contractual obligations are just one of the many concerns actors have about the rise of voice-generating artificial intelligence, which they say threaten to push entire segments of the industry out of work.”
News of the Wired
“Rage Against the Machine” [American Philosophical Association]. “Until machines can themselves reason with us and shape our collective moral norms, our reactive emotional responses to them will not fall into the participant attitudes and will not confer responsibility.” • So we can kill ChatGPT with fire?
“Heat pumps boom in Maine, despite frigid cold and oil industry pushback” [WaPo]. • I looked inside one once and it had circuit boards. Outside? Really? I dunno. Also, Maine doesn’t really do air conditioning in the summer. If heat pumps allow that, that’s bad from a climate perspective.
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 Lee O.:
Lee O. writes: “Fungi, species unknown to me, appeared for the first time in the neighborhood along with the ‘atmospheric rivers’ we’ve been favored with recently. Their shiny orange glow caught my eye–as if lit from within.”
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