2:00PM Water Cooler 7/11/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

UPDATE Portland Maine meetup Friday, Bastille Day, July 14: I’ll phone around for a location at some point tomorrow, so speak now….

Readers, my post on TrumpUncare took hours longer than I expected it to take, or budgeted for, and so I have to punt on today’s Water Cooler. Sorry!

So I must ask you to talk amongst yourselves.

However, I will permit myself a tiny victory lap and happy dance. In this interesting Vox post today, Matt Yglesias writes:

It was convenient for Democrats that for years, Republicans were committed to profoundly unpopular positions on entitlement programs that made it possible for Democrats to win the votes of some cross-pressured, culturally conservative whites. But even though Trumpism hardly amounts to a coherent ideology, the promise to protect the concrete material interests of older working-class people has some real appeal on the merits.

As NC readers know, I’ve been advocating for a focus on “concrete material benefits” for many years (I owe the phrase to a long-time, now silent blogger named AnglachelR). So if this earworm has, through whatever devious channels, worked its way into the brain of Matt Yglesias, and hence into the hive mind of the political class, I think a little celebration is in order, as we all do our bit to drag the (actually triangular, not linear) Overton Window left.

How’s your summer going?

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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 allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (MK):

What an inviting vista!

NOTE Readers, if you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

97 comments

  1. jo6pac

    How’s your summer going?

    In my part of Calli this will be the first day in the mid 90s and not 105f. Then sadly it will be for just for few days then back to the 100s. Then again a lest we aren’t on Fire.

    I hope my comment was released from ? on this morning roll.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      How’s my summer going?

      Well, let’s just say that Tucson’s 2017 monsoon started with a bang. I’m having work done on the Arizona Slim Ranch, and yesterday afternoon, this work included a demolition crew that was removing a carport roof.

      The wind came up, the thunder rumbled, and lightning flashed. My guys were almost finished, and the approaching storm put their efforts into overdrive. Minutes after they cleaned the work area and left, heaven opened up. We also had a four-hour storm during the wee hours of this morning.

      Did I mention that this carport removal has exposed some of my home’s interior to the elements? Not that water is coming into the house, but there is that possibility. Something to ponder as I await the return of the work crew for chapter two of this project. Which is the replacement of my roof and carport. Perfect job for the rainy season!

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Arizona Slim, time to pull out the ashcroft duct-tape & plastic for what surely a rather mundane job …. no duck-n-cover !

        Reply
        1. luke

          Concrete Material Benefits is a solid moniker. I still can’t help but try to tell folks we need to offer “Free Stuff”. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff?

          Reply
  2. Seth A Miller

    The whole year shows that the debate has been moving left. This includes the rise of Bernie Sanders (who had no problem running as a socialist) and Trump as well. Contrary to the take of the corporate media, Trump won by running to the left of the Republican party, on trade, social programs, and, seemingly, on jobs. The right to keep your job (as against outsourcing), the right to health care and the right to decent social benefits were shown to be popular rights indeed.

    These are concrete material benefits, but they are not handouts. They are property rights, just as Locke (that conservative favorite) described them. Socialists just want the law to reflect the property rights that people naturally have. Most people would describe a person who has 25 years on the job as having some material claim to that job: its is a natural property right that our system does not recognize. The tenants who I represent in NYC housing court cases all point out how many years they have lived in their apartments: tenure gives them a natural and compelling claim, that is recognized only where there is rent control.

    It is a hopeful sign when the debate turns toward the material rights that people have, and when mainstream commentators use “benefits” as a word for what everyone deserves, rather than what “those people” get at the expense of “our kind of people.”

    Reply
    1. j84ustin

      I like your idea that “time on the job” or even the years spent in a rental unit translates to a claim to retain said job/housing. I think some of my well meaning yet not particularly open minded friends would be open to such an interpretation (versus “they should have gone back to school” or “they should have bought a house”).

      Reply
      1. Seth A Miller

        Thanks. It’s the basis for the kind of job protections that are common in Europe but unheard of here: if you work long enough, you get a form of tenure, and cannot be fired except if there is a reason that’s on the list of acceptable reasons. (The demand would be that outsourcing and downsizing doesn’t belong on the list). A similar idea is also the basis for the rent control and rent stabilization laws that I fight over for a living, that progressives in California want to expand, and that seem to be gaining some interest in places like Seattle and other cities.

        Reply
        1. epynonymous

          re: socialism

          China was way ahead on this issue, but has only seen ‘modern’ growth with the influx of Western capital and technology. It would be nice if economists would look into the post-‘iron rice bowl’ era with an eye to seperating freer markets (meaning freedom of capital, or as the US now claims … speech) from the Chinese policy changes towards individual ownership.

          The Russian interference angle pursued by the media, if Citizens United is to be taken seriously, is an argument for RT. Hmmm.

          If anyone here tunes back into CBS, you will find their new news tag-line is “Real News”

          Double hmmmm.

          Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            Comrade Haygood,

            You’re better than this. You know unemployment rates get manipulated. A better measure if prime age employment to population ratios. Otherwise, the USA gets flattered by the large number of old people that still continue working when they should be retired. And before anyone claims “it’s because they like to work”, then that person will need to explain why the elderly only started going back into the work force in droves post 2009!

            http://www.demos.org/blog/10/6/15/even-when-us-employment-recovers-it-will-still-be-weak

            Reply
          2. Seth A Miller

            A decent society is one where a worker can say “no” rather than take a lousy job. It’s called bargaining power, and supporting the “unemployed” and, without puritanical judgment, supporting those who are not working, is part of maintaining that bargaining power. Nearly every policy in the USA is designed to force people to accept absolute control at the hands of their employers. Sure it would be great if everyone in Europe worked in jobs they wanted, but a high unemployment rate in a country where unemployment is a better option than wage slavery (or the slavery of an “independent contractor” gig), is not necessarily a bad thing.

            Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Contrary to the take of the corporate media, Trump won by running to the left of the Republican party, on trade, social programs, and, seemingly, on jobs. The right to keep your job (as against outsourcing), the right to health care and the right to decent social benefits were shown to be popular rights indeed

      .

      Hello, he ran to the left of the Democrat Party. Dems have this aphorism about the voters preferring the real Republican over the fake one, but maybe it works, the other way, too? So, voters can be punked from both directions, who could have imagined?

      Reply
  3. Altandmain

    Trump’s Biggest Political Asset Is Supporters Who Believe Any Negative News Is Fake
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/trumps-biggest-asset-fans-who-think-negative-news-is-fake.html

    Sounds like a personality cult.

    I think this may have been linked, but another for imperial collapse:

    Nation “Too Broke” for Universal Healthcare to Spend $406 Billion More on F-35
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/07/10/nation-too-broke-universal-healthcare-spend-406-billion-more-f-35

    Jobs You Can’t Afford to Take
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/11/jobs-you-cant-afford-to-take/

    This is what ticks me off when people say there are shortages of workers. No there aren’t. Improve pay, benefits, working conditions, and treat workers with dignity.

    Surprisingly decent post from David Brooks on Dream Hoaders (not that Brooks has a very high bar mind you):
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruining-america.html?_r=0

    Apparently (and not a surprise), people cannot afford cars anymore
    https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2017/06/28/Bad-News-Automakers-Average-US-Household-Cant-Afford-New-Car

    How’s your summer going?

    Well I got a second interview with this company. Will see what that is like.

    Otherwise summer is uneventful. Got bitten a few times by insects. Luckily it’s not too hot here, which is nice.

    Some feedback for Lambert and NC
    Would it be possible to make a variable donation amount (ex: you enter the amount). I would like to donate a small amount, but I don’t have much money.

    Reply
    1. nippersmom

      Good luck with the second interview. I hope it will not be one of the “Jobs You Can’t Afford to Take”.

      Reply
    2. DH

      People can afford new cars, just not the ones the US manufacturers want to make. There are lots of decent new cars on the market for much less than $33k, but they are not the high profit pick-ups and SUVs that the manufacturers want to sell them. Possibly the fact that they are high profit vehicles means that they are less affordable?

      The average person is Europe is not driving a 2 to 3-ton, 300HP, 16 ft long SUV which is the focus of the American market. They tend to drive smaller cars (unless they live in Germany) that also tend to be cheaper.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        I’ve noticed a lot of older cars on the road lately. My neighbor replaced his truck (he needs it for work) with an older one. Guy up the street replaced his dead jeep cherokee with a much older SUV (also needs for work). I’m see a lot of cars that are 10 years and older out on the road during my commute – and that’s a marked change from a couple of years ago. Also noticed that a local dealership was prominently displaying a number of used cars priced at under 10k.

        My car is coming up on 10 years old. I could get a new one, but it’s paid for, and fully depreciated which is quite a joy when it comes to paying property tax on it. Now that I’ve found a reliable mechanic, its next 100K should be far less expensive than the first 200K.

        Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      On feedback, I don’t know how to make the PayPal form do what you ask, and I am EXTREMELY reluctant to tamper with it; I don’t want to anger the PayPal gods in any way. Perhaps we could send you physical mail addresses?

      In Maine, the insect bites are absolutely brutal this year. Not only are the black flies back, I’ve actually had to buy try out some salves to make the itching go away!

      Reply
      1. SpringTexan

        Well, other paypal donations often DO let me set an amount so I’d think it is possible. However a mail address is always good with me, but maybe not with others.

        Reply
    4. katiebird

      I have in the past: followed the form, written down Lambert’s address, backed out and gone to paypal directly to send money to that address with a note explaining myself (and my NC username). I know it worked because I got a very nice thank you from Lambert.

      Reply
    1. howseth

      I spend many hours every week inside yourself Poogonip (living 2 blocks away)…strange…did not know you could speak in other than bird sounds and wind. Sorry, for the digression… back to economics.

      Reply
  4. PKMKII

    Re: summer. Broken split system AC. Shoddy install job by prior owner. First company we tried might have wrecked it with a dye test that couldn’t find the leak anyway. Looking at anywhere from $2k to $10k in repair costs, depending on the extent.

    Reply
    1. justanotherprogressive

      I hear you. My AC went out during our first blast of 90 degree temperatures. $7,000 later I now have AC (my long haired cats are SOOO grateful)…so I am on personal austerity for the next few months until I get that bill paid off….

      In my case, it was the contractor who built the house that put in a shoddy AC that had no switch to turn off the compressor when it began failing and demanding too much amp and no drainage system to remove condensate…..so it took out parts of my furnace too……yay!!

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Your cats are lucky to have you as their owner (or maybe better put “have disdained to allow you to be their keeper”!)

        My mother-in-law is from that generation that eschews A/C. Her jet black cat gets uncharacteristically listless in the heat. Amazing how she (the cat, not the mother-in-law) manages to find the coolest spot in the house, which is never where I think it would be. But the cat is infallible. I’ve tested it with a thermometer.

        (Hope your long haired moggies don’t get knots, by the way. My mother-in-law’s previous cats were long haired, I couldn’t understand how they got their fur knotted. But they did…)

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > , it was the contractor who built the house that put in a shoddy AC that had no switch to turn off the compressor when it began failing and demanding too much amp and no drainage system to remove condensate…..so it took out parts of my furnace too……yay!!

        Crapification in the world’s greatest economy! But don’t worry. You’re giving the GNP a boost!

        Reply
        1. PKMKII

          Interesting crapification for our AC woes: the original company we went with did a stellar job installing a split system for the in-laws, and did a similarly good job with installing a new boiler and furnace for us. The crapification only crept in when it came to the repair “work,” which seemed to be a giant run-around. Probably more profits in the install work than the repair, as houses around here are rather uniform and boxy so installs are relatively cookie cutter, whereas the repair work requires more skilled labor, knowledge, and unique solutions.

          Reply
          1. optimader

            which comes down to ppl giving a shit about what do to earn their daily bread.
            Pride in workmanship no matter how modest the job.. often missing these days.
            This employee -employer compact is a two way street.

            Reply
    2. DH

      We just put in a new furnace and a new air conditioner this spring for a total of $7k for a 2,300 sf house. Most of that cost was the furnace. For $2k – $10k you should be able to replace the entire unit.

      Reply
      1. PKMKII

        The $10k mark would be for a full replacement. The dye test on ductless units tends to gum up the screens, so if that happened, even the leak is sealed, the unit still won’t function.

        Reply
      2. polecat

        Fans in the summer, and wood heat in the winter for us ! ….
        … screw AC and forced-air heating … can’t afford either !!

        Reply
  5. allan

    Snap, crackle, pop:

    Snap shares drop on downgrade by lead underwriter Morgan Stanley [Reuters]

    Snap Inc shares tumbled on Tuesday after Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the company’s initial public offering, downgraded the stock and raised concerns about the social media company’s ability to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

    The ratings move, a rarity by a lead underwriter so soon after a listing, came four months after the Snapchat owner’s public debut, which was the hottest for a U.S. technology company in years.

    Snap shares have tumbled some 45 percent from a high hit shortly after their debut and slipped under their $17 IPO price for the first time on Monday. …

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Pardon my heresy, but what makes these social media companies worth so much? I’m not seeing the real-world justification for their lofty valuations.

      Reply
      1. Bobby Gladd

        To the extent that there’s any quantitative due diligence valuation done, it’s gotta be in large measure the estimated value of the mined user data — your digital exhaust “mosaic” sold to all manner of private (and govt) entities.

        What’s the joke? “When you use a “free” internet app / service, you are not the “customer,” you are the product.

        Last year I covered a Health IT VC conference, during which this dude enthusiastically demo’d his “dynamic” smartphone “Health Score” app. You sign up, populate your account with some basic demographic info, and it thereafter goes out and AI/machine-learning mines your social media usage to continually “refine” your “health score” — sort of an unregulated health “FICO score.” What could possibly go wrong there?

        Reply
        1. jsn

          I think you’re right, and there has to be market saturation now with Facebook, Google et al. selling some unknown multiple of all the data they collect: buyers are not in infinite supply.

          Reply
    1. ChrisAtRU

      Ha! I’ll work more on this later today, but just a quick note – all but two of the top ten (FL, TN) are outside of the top 25 ranked by population. Correspondingly, of the bottom ten, all but three (KY, WV, NM) are in the top 25 ranked by population. I’m sure we can find some more potential dependent variables. This would appear to be a bit of conveniently lazy work by our friends at Mercatus Center.

      Reply
      1. Wombat

        More Independent or predictor variables? The dependent variable is the “financial solvency” – however they measure that. The author thinks it is dependent (as you pointed out) strictly on the categorical variable – political party and the tax rate. What would be more interesting is a 50 point scatter plot of tax rates and solvency, without cherrypicking I doubt you would get a great fit.

        Reply
        1. ChrisAtRU

          Ooooops! My bad. You’re right – independent variables. My initial feeling was that smaller, less populous states have less to worry about pensions; have less urban infrastructure to maintain; and can better afford to give tax breaks to corps to move in. I’ll see what else I can find.

          Thanks for the correction!

          Reply
    2. PKMKII

      This is telling:

      Alaska dropped from first place last year to 17th this year, driven mainly by the fall in oil prices.

      Which is to say, the running of the government or the party in charge is irrelevant. It’s the whims of whichever market they’re dependent on, and I would assume this carries through to a lot of the other states. I’d also be curious to see what % of these states’ budgets are coming from the federal government.

      Reply
    3. Left in Wisconsin

      Here is a brief dissection of the rightwing echo chamber (RWEC) responsible for this particular ranking (from source watch.org):

      1. According to the latest ranking of states by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

      The Mercatus Center, part of George Mason University, is one of the best-funded think tanks in the United States. It is listed as “sister organization” to the Institute for Humane Studies. Mercatus describes its mission as “to generate knowledge and understanding of the institutions that affect the freedom to prosper, and to find sustainable solutions that overcome the barriers preventing individuals from living free, prosperous, and peaceful lives.” The Mercatus Center was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundations. According to financial records, the Koch family has contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason University, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization.

      2. The most fiscally sound states also tend to have the lowest tax burdens, according to a separate analysis by the Tax Foundation, which measures state and local tax burdens as a percentage of state income.

      The Tax Foundation is the oldest non-profit tax think tank in the country, founded in 1937. Its stated mission is “to educate taxpayers about sound tax policy and the size of the tax burden borne by Americans at all levels of government.” … Tax Foundation is an “associate” member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country.

      3. The matching of the list of states to R or D was done by the author of the commentary, not the Mercatus Report. If you search on the author of this commentary (not news story), John Merline, he seems to be a member in good standing of the RWEC.

      4. Somehow Kansas doesn’t make the top 10 of worst run states.

      Reply
  6. efschumacher

    Sumer is ycumen in

    I retired. Now I get to ride the bike to my (optional) destination, instead of having to fire up the monster motor every day. I also get to take back the daylight hours, rather than sacrifice them to the employer.

    Drumming my heels waiting for the wife to retire, then we can both go off to Brexit-land.

    And you know what? half the money is better than we were netting before, since previous income stream was encumbered with Soc Sec, 401K, Pension contribution, mortgage payments, a bigger tax bite, and having to save yet more for retirement ‘just in case’.

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Similar story here. Just visited Bears Ears National Monument today. Figured we’d better visit before Trump and co. remove the NM designation. Tomorrow, we visit the Manhattan Project NHP (outside Santa Fe) before heading home.

      Note: No Cabernet yet so no John Calvin rants. Yet. :)

      Reply
  7. Jim Haygood

    Learn not to burn:

    On its website, Arconic, formerly part of Alcoa Inc., says the 750-room Marriott Waterfront [in Baltimore] used 83,000 square feet of the type of panel used on Grenfell Tower, marketed as Reynobond PE.

    Baltimore officials said Friday they don’t know what is on the Marriott Waterfront despite a permitting process that involves a multiagency review of construction plans and a series of inspections, including fire safety.

    Tania Baker, a city spokeswoman, said Baltimore doesn’t require developers to submit the names of specific building products and that it is “ultimately the architect’s responsibility” to ensure those materials comply with the building code.

    She said the International Building Code has height limits for Reynobond PE panels “unless, as is the case here, the building is sprinklered.” However, nothing in the city’s building code in place at the time of the Marriott’s construction, nor in the current one, says the installation of sprinklers automatically negates the 40-foot limit, experts say.

    Douglas Evans, a retired fire-protection engineer, said if the outside of a building catches fire due to an external source like a burning dumpster or car, “interior fire sprinklers will have no effect.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/baltimore-doesnt-know-if-hotel-uses-combustible-panels-1499726283

    All of this is incredible: that the building dept doesn’t have the records; thinks the architect is responsible for code compliance; and claims sprinklers would negate the 40-ft height limit, when even a lay person can see that internal sprinklers can’t stop a “chimney effect” exterior curtain wall fire.

    By next week, they’ll prolly retreat to “mistakes were made …” ;-)

    Reply
    1. DH

      This is how building codes evolve. Just about every line in the IBC can be traced back to forensic analyses of past failures. If something is new, then it may take a failure (often fatal) for the building codes to catch up. Seismic standards are one of the many items often grandfathered in old construction since it is so difficult and expensive to upgrade old buildings. Flammable cladding would be one of the easiest (but not cheap) things to replace.

      If building codes become “anticipatory”, the wails of “over-regulation” soon start up, similar to what we see with the banks whining about financial regulation. Please keep in mind how few major failures we see in the building industry due to the robust nature of codes – that is what makes the Grenfell Tower incident so shocking. If the building industry had the same level of regulation as the banking industry, we would be living in tents in a field to save us from the collapsing, flaming buildings around us.

      Engineers and architects generally review submittals that are kept in the project files. For a building the size of the Marriott there were probably hundreds of detailed submittals, including everything from concrete testing to paint chips. No building inspector is going to go through that unless the city wants to hire many, many of them. That is the purpose of professional licensing of engineers and architects – they do that work instead.

      Reply
      1. DH

        I have a garden designed for pollinators here in the Northeast. Way fewer hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees this year compared to most years. It was a chilly spring with very high rainfall to date. Its possible many of them were slow to come north.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Pictures, please!

          I’ve noticed the same thing. I’m looking up at the bee balm right now, and there’s one hummingbird, but generally I’d expect to see several dive-bombing each other.

          However, everything had been pollinated…

          Reply
        2. polecat

          Since having planted a yard that is bird and insect friendly, the avians feel so relaxed, that they (mostly) do not flee when we are out in it …. water features help with that … the ‘mini-oasis’ factor .. even more important since the lots, both behind ours, and across the street in front of our’s, were completely logged off of 60+ year-old Douglas Fir/Spruce timber at the beginning of this year !!!
          Of course, I’m not out there looking MANLY ENOUGH (ha !), working hours upon hour, constantly tricking-out my 4wheel phalic symbol (chose any or all) …. so I guess I’m lacking in ‘something’ …. but it’s not other lifeforms, that’s for sure !

          Reply
        3. Aleric

          Similar situation here in MN – many fewer bees this year than the last few in my native pollinator gardens. Our spring was warm early and cold late – I suspect many bumble bees may have woken up early and then died in the late cold snap.

          Reply
        4. HotFlash

          More anecdotes, which tend to weight heavier with me than many ‘data’ sources …

          As an urban forager, I have been watching the development of the various edibles around the ‘hood. Here in Toronto the spring was very wet although mild. Wild greens were abundant and got some nice batches of garlic mustard and dandelion pesto and lots of blossoms for dandelion wine.

          Fruit blossoms were spectacular, although I did not see a lot of pollinators, and we got a lot of rain through May (historical from Environment Canada here, for nerds).

          When I was collecting blossoms for elderflower champagne last week, I noticed that a remarkable number of the older blossoms were dropping their petals without setting fruit. When I made the ‘champagne’ it didn’t fizz by itself as usual, I had to add a bit of yeast to get it working. Hmm, the elderblossoms are supposed to have their own wild yeasts, which are transmitted on the feet and fur of bees and other pollinators, that’s the beauty, and the simplicity, of making elder champagne. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe.

          My little pear tree had lots of blossoms but no fruit set. Maybe not a suitable pear-mate within pollinator distance? Maybe, but there is a Bradford pear down the block, which is supposed to be a viable pollinator for my Bartlett. Also it’s just a baby, year two. Maybe that’s it.

          My syringa normally attracts so many hundreds of bees as to be a hazard to sidewalk nevigation. This year it was pretty quiet. Too quiet, as they say. We saw maybe one bumblebee per day, 2-3 honeybees, a couple of various bees and some wasps. It was like a neutron bomb hit the pollinators.

          Apples this year, though, seem to be doing well. I see lots of fruit forming on ‘my’ trees. However, I don’t know the variety of most of the the apples I forage. Some varieties are are self-fertile, others are not, or not so much.

          Anyway, it gives me to ponder and to worry.

          Reply
  8. cocomaan

    Summer:

    The honey season was a bust – it rained almost all the way through May and June, meaning the ladies missed all our good nectar flows (tulip poplar, black walnut, black locust, bramble).

    But on the other hand, the plants seem to be loving the alternating sun/rain. We had wild cherries this year, which doesn’t happen every year, and lots of raspberries. A quart a day at least. We’re just getting into tomatoes. Squashes are slow for some reason, maybe all that rain, but are starting to pick up the pace.

    And the chicks we had our hen raise are now pullets and are doing great.

    Things are good! Can’t complain!

    Reply
  9. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Chilling at the Lakeshore Library in Metairie.

    Just finished a Candidate Application for the PCCC.

    Luckily for me, they don’t provide lodging and travel!

    YAYYY RICH DEMOCRAT ACTIVISTS!!

    Fuck it, I’ll just go smoke a bowl and sleep at a Park.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Speaking of rich Democratic activists, one of my Faceborg friends is running for governor of AZ. He just posted a request for interns and, guess what, I had to ask if those interns were going to be paid.

      Answer: No.

      I called his campaign out. Why? Because in this economy, there aren’t many people who can afford to give up 10-15 hours a week for no pay. In my mind, not paying the interns smacks of elitism.

      And, sorry, promises of down-the-road jobs to the best of the volunteer interns won’t cut it. Pay the interns from the get-go!

      Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Stephen, please, as Whoopie implored Mick, “talk English”.

      Passaic County Community College – PCCC
      Progressive Change Campaign Committee
      Park Crescent Conference Centre
      Palomar Christian Conference Cente
      Pointe Claire Curling Club

      Reply
  10. polecat

    Our summer has entered into the dry season here in near the western tip of the PNW … all the natural fauna is beginning to show that slightly desscated look, which will increase until Novermber, when the rains begin anew. The bees are a mixed bag : 1st hive expanding nicely, and hoping it doesn’t swarm, 2nd hive cast a swarm, which I captured and put into an empty hive, and then proceeded to cast 2 after-swarms, going on their merry ways. Watching the Bamboo shoots grow, with the culms growing 6″ to a foot daily. The hens somewhat squabbly, probably ready to hit their summer molt soon ! Jarring last year’s honey, yummmm ! Cherries to be picked .. pronto ! NO RACCOONS … so far …

    Reply
  11. Clive

    Re: Summer

    My apricot, which I’d nurtured and put into intensive care as it started to drop a heck of a lot of leaves is now officially d-e-a-d. I’m more upset than I should be. I always say that you shouldn’t be a gardener if you can’t bear to have some plant casualties. But following my own advice is strangely hard in this case for reasons I can’t rationalise. I think the significant water stress we’ve had here (no noticeable rain since early May and recurrent heatwaves) did for it. I tried to keep it watered, but probably not enough. I can’t believe how water-intensive citrus growing is.

    I’m going to replace it with a pear tree so wish me luck with my continued efforts as grow-your-own.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Clive ..perhaps part of issue could the result of Peach tree borers ?? …
      Just an armchair guess, having a nurseryman’s background ….

      Reply
      1. Clive

        I’d not heard of those, being a complete amateur with no experience at all but having spent a happy (well, unhappy!) half hour doing some internet research I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. They symptoms match exactly what I saw in my tree. Unfortunately it seems there’s no cure other than to try again and hope for better results next time…

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Clive, if it is indeed peachtree borers that are the issue, you can apply (to a live tree, of course!) Nematodes that with kill said pest … Ask your nurseryman/woman !!

          Reply
    2. HotFlash

      Please accept my condolences, Clive. Lost a cherry bush this year. Must have done something wrong, but no clue what. It’s not just losing a plant, it’s feeling responsible for its death that haunts.

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Glad it’s not just me that feels that way. Thanks. Sounds silly but some of my favourite plants become sort-of friends (will stop there in case I sound a bit nuts!)

        Reply
  12. Mad Mack

    I’m enjoying the book “When Globalization Fails” by James MacDonald. The book provides a historical context to the current debate. Its amazing how closely the economic ideology leading into WW I rhymes with current mainstream thinking.

    I’m wondering if anybody else has any thoughts on this book.

    Reply
  13. Lil'D

    Mostly from the garden:
    3 tomatoes, a cuke, Anaheim pepper, half a red onion, 4 cloves garlic, juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, splash of olive oil & red wine vinegar. Pinch of cumin
    Blended
    Fridged for an hour
    Served with chiffonaded basil when my wife got back from barre
    Gazpacho!

    It’s a lovely day here

    Reply
  14. Eureka Springs

    Despite ailments and time of year I went to Florida last week. Spent most of the time convalescing on the beach. Turned out it was sea turtle nesting time. Wondrous, primal, ancient, yet timeless. Mid way through the week over 700 nests in one night. Nests as big around as a tractor tire. We were able to just sit and watch it unfold all around us for several nights. Beautiful creatures.. and at least for now I’m feeling much better.

    Back in the Ozarks it’s as green here in July as one would expect in the midst of April showers. Everything bloomed a month early this year and I’m wondering what a late green Summer will look like when everything has long since bloomed. Will some wildflowers bloom again, fill in the void? Anyhow, it’s great to have the choice of kayaking the river, which is still up or running, or run over to the lake for a boat ride, swim and picnic under a shady bluff w/waterfall. We motor by the mansions and their boathouses with 50 to 150k boats along the shore wondering where all the rich people are since we have this enormous lake (600 miles of shoreline) seemingly to ourselves most of the Summer. What’s the point of having them if you can’t be there?

    And congrats Lambert… don’t let Iggy woo you so easily. /s

    Reply
  15. Richard Musser

    I want to first say that I just discovered your wonderful site a few months ago, entirely because the Post ran that smear article! I happened to be looking for different sources of reliable information and I took their attack as a recommendation. I am so glad that I did, for not only have I found a great news source, but a community defined by intellectual rigor, getting the details right, humor, and a humanistic opposition to neo-liberalism.

    I live in Seattle, and our summer is going fine, after a super wet winter and spring.

    I have a sort of new thread to introduce: Has anyone around here read much Walter Karp? His ideas about the collusive nature of our two parties have seemed especially useful to me lately, especially as the dem leadership recoils from any attack on trump that might resonate with the public (immigration, police violence, anything whatsoever to do with class). The “leadership” demonstrates how focused they are on controlling their party, with winning elections being a secondary consideration (recent NC by-election for example). Anyway, I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else has reflections on Karp and our current political terrain.

    Reply
      1. Richard Musser

        There are two especially important books of his I could suggest, and start with either. The first is Indispensible Enemies, and it is Karp’s history of the two parties in collusion historically, paying particular attention to FDR trying to pack the Supreme Court after the ’36 landslide, and Johnson’s war in ’65 (after another landslide).
        The second book, Liberty Under Siege, describes in heartbreaking detail the Reaction that began in Carter’s doomed presidency. It is stylistically brilliant, written in a more narrative style.
        Pardon for not underlining titles; my I pad won’t let me be free to follow the rules.

        Thanks for the welcome Lambert!
        Richard

        Reply
  16. TarheelDem

    I’m finding the assertion that Trump is doing anything about “concrete material benefits” for the older working class devoid of facts in evidence.

    Not that there is an opposition party doing anything about concrete material benefits.

    As a euphemism, I think that that formulation fails. It too easily suggests Jimmy Hoffa’s retirement.

    Reply
  17. montanamaven

    Continuing from my anti -Katha Pollit rant from yesterday in regards to Russian agriculture. From Dimitry Orlov’s new book “Shrinking the Technosphere”; Chapter 5: Naturelike Technologies.
    “A number of new initiatives and new legislation are making it easier for people to go back to small-scale farming. Certain categories of people, such as veterans and young families with children, now receive free parcels of land from the government (limited right now in the pilot stage to lands in the Far East and only open to locals.) Income tax which is normally a 13% flat tax, drops down to just 6 percent for those who take up farming…..Slowly but surely the landscape is being resettled.”
    Internet service and good cell phone service and payment to parents who home school also have helped to resettle farm lands that had been “industrialized”.

    Reply
    1. Richard Musser

      May I ask, what is/are TDS and PDS? I’m thinking syndromes here? Partial denial and total denial?

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Trump derangement syndrome which is often seen in the company of Putin derangement syndrome. Apparently the former is considered justification for the latter. Which is to say that for The Resistance, fostering dangerous cold war tensions with a nuclear power is considered fully justified if it brings down Trump or at least makes him look bad.

        Reply
  18. petal

    Summer is going okay here in the Upper Valley of NH. I have also noticed a lot less insects both at home and at my garden. It’s weird. Sweet onions are growing fatter, rest of garden is catching up after so much rain.

    This is the information for the Osher summer lecture series at Dartmouth: “Global Challenges Facing the United States”. I would attend but they are apparently on Thursday mornings 9-11:30 and I have to work for a living. However, if there are any that people would like me to attend/think it would be important/would like a report, I can try for a couple.

    “The World Order that has been in place for decades is suddenly facing important challenges from all sides. Russia is flexing its muscles again, worrying NATO and the countries on its border. China is becoming militarily assertive, especially in the South China Sea. Britain is exiting the European Union, leaving it potentially weakened. Terrorism has become a de-stabilizing force globally – are nuclear weapons within their reach? Cyber attacks are proliferating from many sources, threatening the security of nations. And the planet is warming, with many potential negative long-term effects on the way we live.

    When you put 7 billion people on earth, there will always be critical challenges somewhere. But this time they are happening simultaneously and there is considerable uncertainty about how these challenges will work out and how the U.S. (and the world) should respond to create the most positive outcomes possible.
    This lecture series probes the most important challenges in depth. There will be seven sessions. In the first six sessions a different, prominent speaker will provide his/her insights into one of the challenges, framing the key issues and explaining U.S. policy options to deal most constructively with them. In the seventh and culminating session, our speaker will tie the six sessions together into a coherent “big picture” world view.”

    Speakers: James Steinberg-Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Chris Inglis-Former Deputy Director National Security Agency, William Perry-Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Julie Smith-Former Acting National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden, currently Director at the Center for New American Security; Matthew Rojansky-Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center(session is called “Why Russia Matters”), Kerry Emanuel-MIT professor and Director of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate at MIT, Admiral James Stavridis-NATO’s 16 Supreme Allied Commander Europe and 15 Commander of the U.S. European Command (2009-2013)/Head of U.S. Southern Command (2006-2009)/Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

    Reply
    1. c_heale

      I live in the countryside in Korea and I’ve also noticed a lot less bees and other insects this year. They regularly spray the countryside around here with pesticide from a truck in the evenings to apparently keep down the mosquito population. However we went for a walk in the nearby mountains and the azaleas were teeming with insects. The mountain areas are not sprayed. I think it’s possible that neonicotinoid pesticides could be having a cumulative effect.

      Reply
  19. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

    Here in Australia we’re having a particularly cold winter, but the season has its joys too, including a nice tuna run as cooler waters come up and my son plucked 9 nice lobsters from approx 5 miles up the coast from downtown Sydney. Roasted chestnuts are in the Chinese markets as well as some really unusual fish like the hairtail, that comes from 2000 ft depths to the shallow inlets where they spawn and can be caught. A moveable feast.

    Reply
  20. Annotherone

    Summer? In south-west Oklahoma it’s too darn hot, for me. Mid 90s most days, likely to rise to triple figures in a couple of weeks. This year we have unpleasant humidity too, due to more frequent stormy spells this time around, I suppose.

    Last line of the lyrics of “The Summer Knows” often float longingly through my mind these days – “…One last caress, it’s time to dress for Fall. ” (Should not be wishing time away at my age, though.)

    Our two Redbud trees, planted in May, look to be feeling as disenchanted as I am with the heat. We felt so worried about them that we asked the tree farm guy to come take a look. He thinks they are just experiencing trauma from the re-planting process. I know how that feels from my own re-planting process back in 2004 (UK to USA). :) We followed his advice and put plenty of mulch around the trunks. They do perk up after a storm, so will likely survive. It’s hard not to water them every day, but tree guy says no – only once a week, and not even then if there has been a heavy rain. Tough love!

    Reply
  21. DJG

    Here in Chicago, where microclimates and microdisasters seem to be everything, I notice something peculiar. A few years back, the city or the county sprayed the Far North Side and parts of Evanston because of an outbreak of West Nile Virus. It is only now that creatures are recovering: Crows are in evidence again. And what is more elegant than a crow? I am also seeing many birds, especially robins and cardinals. We are awash in rabbits. They are so tame that the littlest of bunnies (five inches long) sit on the lawns and graze. Rumor is that there are deer about, too. And the catbirds are more or less in their usual locations.

    The wet April and May mean that cool-weather crops predominate in the farmers market: lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce. Which is good. Red leaf and oak leaf are a treat. I also bought some purslane, a healthy and tasty oddball of a plant. Sure beats pulling purslane out of the cracks in the sidewalk for salad.

    Last week, one of the farmers still was selling peonies. Rather peculiar. The peony season in Chicago usually barely lasts through the month of June.

    Reply
  22. ProNewerDeal

    What is a good used of limited free time allocated in the citizen category?

    What about electoral politics vs party-independent social movements like FightFor$15? Editorialist/historian Paul Street stresses the latter are more effective in advancing policy, throughout US history including now.

    What (if any) is the most effective social movement advocating for MedicareForAll?

    Is it ever the case that it can be more effective to work extra hours in one’s career & donating part of the extra proceeds to a social movement, versus volunteering in the movement directly?

    I hate to sound like a neoliberal douche or robotic accountant about effectiveness, but unfortunately the cliches about “time is money, money is time” & “Cash Rules Everything Around Me..” (c) Wu-Tang ring true in a Perma-Crapified 2008-now Job Market with expensive non-guranteed healthcare & housing costs.

    Reply
  23. Carl

    Typical summer in San Antonio. Here’s the forecast: today-hot, tomorrow-hot, next week-hot, next month-hot, the month after that-hot, the month after that-somewhat less hot. Find a body of water and get in it.

    Reply
    1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

      When I lived in Tucson they said there were four seasons: early summer, mid summer, late summer, and next summer

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Uhg ! I thank Heyzeus that we no longer have to endure the California Central Valley summer heatwaves any more. Triple digit heat would probably kill me at my age !

        Reply
  24. meeps

    The late afternoon rain clouds in Colorado are one of my favorite summer delights. They’re a dark, Chelsea grey (?) blended with periwinkle and a hint of cerulean. In contrast to the vibrant, greening pine, it’s breath-taking. I’ve never had a camera that could capture it.

    We planted living mulch in our fenced gardens this year. It’s providing superior water retention and drawing more pollinators, although there are few true honey bees. There’s always a lot of wildlife here, but there’s so much hanging around lately my husband joked that going outside is like walking into a Disney flick. Fingers crossed he’ll bust out a tune next time we’re strolling.

    Having fresh herbs and salad greens during our short season is a perk I can’t overstate. There’s a notable uptick in associates asking why everything, especially food, costs so much–more than the rent or mortgage payment. It’s been like that for years in my household. Is this common elsewhere?

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      Huh? Food seems fairly cheap to me, and mortgage payments and rent huge, in most areas of the country. Baffled by meeps’ comment.

      Reply
      1. meeps

        Thanks, Spring Texan, for your reply. I’m baffled, too.

        For a time I thought we were getting punished at the checkout because we don’t eat meat. A veggie diet is expensive, perhaps more here than in other places because we’re landlocked and it’s not a farming climate the way the southern, west-coast and mid-western states are. The people I mention, however, are not vegetarian (some are aged 30s to 40s, with and without kids to feed, others are older with kids no longer at home). All claimed that food costs as much or more than housing.

        Maybe it’s the rapid population boom here? The figures I’ve seen are 60,000 to 100,000 new arrivals annually. It’s causing auto insurance rate hikes too, even for those of us with no tickets or accidents.

        Reply
  25. Jen

    Summer (also in the Upper Valley)

    Delightfully cool and very wet. Storms on July 4th weekend made a wreck of most of the roads in a number of towns including mine. It will take a long time, and a lot of money to get everything back to the way it was. Some roads probably won’t be repaired if they aren’t absolutely necessary for travel. Others will make do with temporary patches until funds become available. Of course those temporary patches can fail pretty easily. We’re only one month into hurricane season, and these days a random dump of 5 or more inches of rain seems to happen every couple of years. Fortunately my road was one of the few not to sustain extensive damage. It’s also the only paved east west road left in town, so anything that goes wrong gets fixed quickly.

    The tomato crop has been slow to come in, but the local strawberries have been amazing. My hens decided, this year, that spiderwort is their favorite delicacy. Last year it was pansies, which they are ignoring this year. Fortunately they have no taste for most day lilies, hydrangea and bee balm, all of which are just coming in to bloom.

    I let one of my hens go broody and got one chick out of 9 eggs. Probably a boy at that, but still fun, and I have found a home for him if a him is what it is.

    Reply

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