/2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2020

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. Our five problem states, with New York for comparison:

I’ll just keep doing this one until I see a peak followed by a decline. Florida, California, and Texas all flatten (!). We’ll see if that’s an artifact. (There are no notes either on this site, 91-DIVOC, or on the Johns Hopkins site, indicating that there has been any interruption of data.)

I thought I’d also look at deaths (even if cause of death is contested and not the best data):

The virus is going to have to work awfullly hard in our five problem states to beat New York, even given time lags, gamed numbers, and so forth. Perhaps the biggest danger to watch for is hospitals reaching capacity. (I used a linear display because it makes New York’s uniqueness evident; that all the other states are crowded together at the bottom is the point, really.)

CA: “Military teams sent to five California hospitals amid coronavirus staffing shortages” [Los Angeles Times]. “[100] Active-duty U.S. Air Force doctors, nurses and other medical providers are being sent to work in California hospitals to assist with a steep rise in coronavirus cases that has strained some healthcare systems across the state. … The hospitals being served are Adventist Health Lodi Memorial in Lodi, Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, Dameron Hospital in Stockton, Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage and Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, the spokesman said. The move comes as some officials have described hospital staffing — not bed capacity — as the chief stumbling block when it comes to scaling up operations to accommodate more patients.”

GA: Beyond parody:

TX (via):

I wonder why people, especially poor and working class people, are reluctant to enter the medical system…

VA: “Despite pandemic, young bar patrons say they want to keep on partying” [WaPo]. • I had thought that using “party” was a verb was a sign of the collapse of civilization, but according to my OED, it’s been a verb since the early 20th C.


“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

The electoral map. July 17: Georgia, Ohio, ME-2 move from Leans Republican to Toss-up. Continued yikes. On July 7, the tossup were 86. Only July 17, they were 56. Now they are 91. This puts Biden at 278, i.e. over 270.

So, taking the consensus as a given, 270 (total) – 204 (Trump’s) = 66. Trump must win 66 from the states in play: AZ (11), FL (29), MI (16), NC (15), PA (20), and WI (10) plus 1 to win not tie = 102. 102 – 66 = 36. So if Trump wins FL, MI, NC, and PA (29 + 16 + 15 + 20 = 80), he wins. That’s a heavy lift. I think I’ve got the math right this time!


Biden (D)(1): “Electoral College Outlook: Biden Has the Edge” [Inside Elections]. “[W]e don’t have national elections in this country. That should have been one of the biggest lessons from 2016, not that we should dismiss or distrust all polling data. But the survey data in individual states and districts are no better, and arguably worse, for Trump. For example, the president won Montana by 20 points in 2016. Public and private survey data there show Trump and Biden are within a few points of each other. It’s a similar story in Alaska, which Trump won by 15 points and looks like a competitive state today. That doesn’t mean that Montana, Alaska, or Arkansas are swing states, or will even be close in November. But it does cast considerable doubt on the president’s ability to win previously agreed upon swing states that have much less of a GOP cushion. Four years ago, Trump narrowly won Michigan and narrowly lost Minnesota. He’s likely down double-digits in both today. States he won by wider margins, such as Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio are all at considerable risk for the president. Biden probably just needs to win one of them to secure the White House. Analyzing a combination of partisan and nonpartisan, public and private, national and state-level polling, we’re changing our presidential rating in 17 states- all in favor of Biden. With those changes, Biden leads Trump in our Electoral College projection 319 to 187, when 270 is needed to win. There are some key states, such as North Carolina, where Trump doesn’t appear to be hemorrhaging voters at the same rate, but there just isn’t significant evidence that there is a single state getting better for Trump right now.”

Biden (D)(2): “Biden Begins Receiving Intel Briefs, Warns of Russian Meddling” [Bloomberg]. • Boy howdy, that really came out of left field.

Trump (R)(1): “Trump campaign shakeup continues with three senior staff hires” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump’s newly appointed campaign manager is making more changes to the reelection effort as it barrels toward Election Day… The moves are aimed at tightening the leadership structure of a massive Trump political apparatus that stretches across 13 departments. With just over 100 days until the election, senior aides have complained that coordination has at times been hard, and they have expressed a desire for greater focus.” • We forget it’s not even Labor Day. Nobody normal is paying attention.

Trump (R)(2): “Why Steve Bannon would fuel Donald Trump toward victory” [The Hill]. “As chief executive officer of the 2016 Trump campaign, Bannon captured lightning in a bottle. For a 2020 Trump campaign beset by leaks, appeals to ungettable voters, and the damage from the coronavirus, only Bannon can bring in the missing spark. It might be hard to catch lightning twice, but the president cannot afford to leave out the only person of his first campaign who pulled off an unprecedented win four years ago…. Many of those surrounding the president and the campaign may be loyal to Donald Trump the man but not Donald Trump the idea. There is little that their advice or appearances in campaign stops offer the president.” • “Donald Trump the idea.”

Trump (R)(3): “Every day, I watch Trump’s psychodrama play out in my inbox” [CNN]. “The news media are filled each day with reports about President Donald Trump and his ceaseless campaign — his tweets, his speeches, his surrogates’ comments, his legal battles. But under the roar of that turbulent news there flows a quieter, subterranean river that runs directly into millions of homes, including mine. This is his email stream. Many people never see this stream, but I think it explains a good deal about why a substantial minority of Americans still say they support him. First off, this stream is relentless. I may be alone, friendless, trapped at home by the epidemic, jobless. My family may forsake me, my friends grow bored. But Trump never forgets me. Since last June, when he announced his re-election bid, I have received at least 712 emails. (There were more, but I failed to save the rest.) They come in the name of the President; his sons, his daughter, his daughter-in-law, his vice president, his vice president’s wife, his campaign manager Brad Parscale, his former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and several Trump PACs. This spring, they picked up the pace, sometimes sending six or seven messages in a single day.” • I subscribe to Mothership’s “Train Democrats,” which I consider the most vile email operation in the world. I would bet Trump’s is worse. But they wouldn’t be the way they are if they didn’t bring in the bucks!

West (I)(1): Very dry:

West (I)(2): “Rapper Kanye West criticizes Harriet Tubman at South Carolina rally” [Los Angeles Times]. “Rapper Kanye West, in his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate, ranted against historical figure Harriet Tubman on Sunday, saying the Underground Railroad conductor ‘never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people,’ comments that drew shouts of opposition from some in the crowd.” • GIven the givens, I would need to see a transcript…

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2016 Post Mortem

Clinton’s maneuvered herself into handing out diplomas, apparently…

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Great Assimilation™:

I remain unconvinced that combining the Party faction that led us into the greatest strategic debacle in the history of the country (Bush Republicans; Iraq) with the Party faction that gave us an economic recovery where wages for 70% of the population didn’t recover after a decade (the Obama Alumni Association) will bring changes that are anything other than marginal. Expect continued volatility. (Speculating wildly: If Biden made [drumroll] Obama his Secretary of State, that would solve a lot of our public relations problems around the world; we might even get working passports again. But “marginal” is what I said; liberal Democrats have signaled in every possible way that their warmongering will continue.)

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“‘Everybody Is Suing’: Trump-Biden Election Sets Up Legal Logjam” [Bloomberg]. “A recent count by Loyola Marymount University law professor Justin Levitt found 154 cases already filed across 41 states and the District of Columbia. Many more are expected in the months ahead as Republicans, Democrats and advocacy groups battle over how to vote during a pandemic. ‘Everybody is suing about everything,’ Levitt said. Many of the lawsuits center on the use of mail-in ballots, which is expected to surge to historic highs given concern about catching the virus while voting in person…. Many of the lawsuits filed by Democrats have demanded that election officials give voters a chance to fix any problems with mail-in ballots, particularly issues around their signatures on absentee-ballot envelopes. Research has shown that young, Black and Hispanic voters face a much greater risk of having their ballot rejected, and voting-rights groups have long sought to reform the practice of “curing” a rejected ballot.” • Not encouraging.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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Commodities: “Lockdown Renovation Boom Sends Canadian Lumber Stocks Surging” [Bloomberg]. “Canadian forestry stocks are surging as consumers stuck at home during the pandemic ramp up renovations on their homes and dwindling lumber supplies send timber-product prices to a two-year high…. The Covid-19 pandemic was initially expected to hurt lumber markets as surging unemployment curtailed demand and lockdowns shuttered the offices that issue permits for cutting operations. Instead, spending on home repairs and renovation is ‘high and accelerating,’ and new home construction is recovering, RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn said.” • It’s an ill wind….

Tech: “Google’s Cookie Fight Will Shape Future of Digital Advertising” [Bloomberg]. “If the web is an unfathomably complex machine driven by billions upon billions of cogs, then cookies are the lubricant that keeps the thing moving. That’s because the web is, for the most part, funded by ads. And the tiny little text files known as cookies determine which ads get shown to whom. For now. Come next year, that’s all going to change…. Discussions now focus on what comes next. Every week, members of the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, an international standards organization founded by a creator of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, dial into a video call to work out the options.” Google is, of course, the driver… This, being a standards process, is too complicated to excerpt. I recommend reading in full.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 11:49am.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Beast Government. “The government mevement [sic] is having trouble with world unity” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.) Correct perception on “Beast Government”!x

The Biosphere

“Dogs may use Earth’s magnetic field to take shortcuts” [Science]. “Dogs are renowned for their world-class noses, but a new study suggests they may have an additional—albeit hidden—sensory talent: a magnetic compass. The sense appears to allow them to use Earth’s magnetic field to calculate shortcuts in unfamiliar terrain. The finding is a first in dogs, says Catherine Lohmann, a biologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies ‘magnetoreception’ and navigation in turtles. She notes that dogs’ navigational abilities have been studied much less compared with migratory animals such as birds. ‘It’s an insight into how [dogs] build up their picture of space,; adds Richard Holland, a biologist at Bangor University who studies bird navigation…. When Benediktová showed the data to Burda, her Ph.D. adviser, he noticed a curious feature: In the middle of a scouting run, the dog would stop and run for about 20 meters along a north-south axis (see video, below) before it began to navigate back. Those short runs looked like an alignment along the magnetic field….” • Neat!

Health Care

“Safety and immunogenicity of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: a preliminary report of a phase 1/2, single-blind, randomised controlled trial” (PDF) [The Lancet]. This is the Oxford study. The Interpretation: “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 showed an acceptable safety profile, and homologous boosting increased antibody responses. These results, together with the induction of both humoral and cellular immune responses, support largescale evaluation of this candidate vaccine in an ongoing phase 3 programme.” • That’s good news; progress in this trial, at least.

“Immunogenicity and safety of a recombinant adenovirus type-5-vectored COVID-19 vaccine in healthy adults aged 18 years or older: a randomised, double-blind, placebocontrolled, phase 2 trial” (PDF) [The Lancet]. A Chinese study. The Interpretation: “The Ad5-vectored COVID-19 vaccine at 5×10¹⁰ viral particles is safe, and induced significant immune responses in the majority of recipients after a single immunisation.” • Also good news.

On the new South Korean study on transmission among children:

“Bjorn’s Corner: Do I get COVID in airline cabins? Part 11. Wrapup.” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “[T]he respiratory tract mucus attacks the virus as it enters. To keep your mucus fit it shall be kept hydrated. Drinking water during flights is more important than ever.”

Feral Hog Watch

“Peccaries & Climate Change in Mexico’s Southern Jungle” [Yucatan Times]. “In Mexico’s southern jungle, stretching across the Yucatán peninsula and into Guatemala, a group of white-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari) move from drinking hole to drinking hole. In the recent past, however, their task has been made increasingly difficult by the onset of climate change as over a ten year period between 2005 and 2015, available water sources reduced by an estimated 90% in the region. Notwithstanding these increasingly long dry periods and groundwater scarcity in the southern jungle, these wild pigs somehow seem to find their way, causing biologist Rafael Reyna-Hurtado to theorize that perhaps they, like elephants, navigate the landscape using spatial memory. Elusive, shy and yet highly social among themselves, the peccaries’ movements orbit around water sources, specifically the ponds that intersperse the southern jungle, but their range extends across Central and South America.” • Like dogs?!

Class Warfare

Context for the next tweet:

Neoliberalism is bleak:

News of the Wired

“Your ‘Doomscrolling’ Breeds Anxiety. Here’s How To Stop The Cycle” [NPR]. “Still, you incessantly scroll though bottomless doom-and-gloom news for hours as you sink into a pool of despair. This self-destructive behavior has become so common that a new word for it has entered our lexicon: ‘doomscrolling.”” • Set a timer. Curate your list carefully to include a variety of personality types and political views. And a sense of humor helps — along with antidotes of all sorts!

“Your Weekend Reading: The U.S. Coronavirus Depression” [Bloomberg]. “The majority of Americans in the nation’s largest cities feel down, depressed or hopeless, according to a survey on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people’s mental health. Consumer sentiment has also slumped, and most people disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the crisis. Bank earnings signal there will be no V-shaped recovery, Blackrock’s Larry Fink warned of a “bipolar economy,” and the spate of U.S. bankruptcies may be just getting started. While America spirals downward, China’s economy has returned to growth and European carmakers are seeing signs of recovery. ” • Seems to apply to urban dwellers only. If this is you, my $0.02, having been there, worth what you paid, is: (1) Get moving. Direction and distance are not important. Just move. (2) Get some sun. (3) Outside, look up, not down. Also, I wonder how much working from home increases depression. Not just the loss of human, physical contact, but the screen experience itself.

“Scientists Now Know How Sleep Cleans Toxins From the Brain” [Wired]. From 2019, but neat: “[BU’s Laura] Lewis was curious how those toxins were cleared out and why that process only happened during sleep. She suspected that cerebrospinal fluid, a clear, water-like liquid that flows around the brain, might be involved. But she wasn’t sure what was unique about sleep…. Neurons don’t all turn off at the same time when we’re awake. So brain blood levels don’t drop enough to allow substantial waves of cerebrospinal fluid to circulate around the brain and clear out all the metabolic byproducts that accumulate, like beta amyloid.” • Neat! And be sure to get your sleep!

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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 )TH):

TH writes: “My husband and I took a little drive south to Laguna Beach the other day and went up to the hill-side neighborhood we used to frequent for garage/estate sale treasures. I liked the cool (kelvin scale, not groovy) colors of the gray bark on the tree in the background, and the lavender, which I am ALWAYS a fan of, statice flowers.” I like the dappled sunlight.

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