2:00PM Water Cooler 3/11/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I’m traveling today, and so wrote this yesterday and scheduled it for the future, now the present. I’m a little primaried out, so I’m just going to throw out a few topics for discussion:

1) If you garden, what did you order from your seed catalogs, and what are your plans for this year?

2) What was the best good thing that happened to you this week? (Try, if you can, to avoid schadenfreude…)

3) What are you reading?

Gotta go. Back tomorrow.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) 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 (pq):

Flowering Tree March 2010

“Flowering tree in March.” Won’t that be nice?!

* * *

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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.


  1. Isolato

    Reading King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, the brilliant retelling of the horror that inspired “Heart of Darkness”. One of the men brave enough to expose the massacre was Roger Casement. He was knighted for his effort, but…was presumptuous enough to see that Ireland was also a victim, and, in supporting Irish independence during WWI he was arrested, tried for treason, and hung. Pretty rare for a KBE. Here is the conclusion of his speech at his trial.

    “If there be no right of rebellion against the state of things that no savage tribe would endure without resistance, then I am sure that it is better for men to fight and die without right than to live in such a state of right as this. Where all your rights have become only an accumulated wrong, where men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to gather the fruits of their own labours, and, even while they beg, to see things inexorably withdrawn from them — then, surely, it is a braver, a saner and truer thing to be a rebel, in act and in deed, against such circumstances as these, than to tamely accept it, as the natural lot of men.”

      1. clinical wasteman

        Yes indeed, re Casement. I repeatedly forget that he isn’t a household name, before being reminded daily by anglo-English media that the sort of people who would curse him if they had heard of him continue to pullulate.
        In answer to Lambert’s kind (&/or worm-can-opening?) question about reading:
        – Götz Aly/Susanne Heim, ‘Architects of Annihilation’ (English translation: Phoenix, 2003). On Nazi upper-middle management or ‘technocracy’, in which the whole suite of (eg.) McKinsey techniques is shown to be at work from 1933 onwards. Guess who came up with the phrase ‘surplus population’.
        – And (admittedly rereading, but can’t recommend this highly enough): John Barker, ‘Futures’ (PM Press, 2014). Novel in a style somewhere between of James Kelman and George V. Higgins but really like no other, about — among other things — the City of London ‘Big Bang’ of the 1980s and specifically a couple of buffoons who try to set up a cocaine futures market.

    1. hermes

      I like Hochschild, he is a great writer and picks very interesting subjects. I will have to read this one. If you are interested in Roger Casement there is a great novel written about him, Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa.

      1. annie

        there’s also a wonderful/horrific chapter on casement in sebald’s ‘the rings of saturn.’

      2. RabidGandhi

        That’s interesting to hear. I’m generally allergic to Vargas Llosa because of his rancid reactionary politics, but he is a stunningly eloquent writer. I might be interested to see his take on Casement though.

        1. hermes

          I know what you mean about Llosa’s politics, his neoliberal inclination is repellent. He is a near mirror image of Borges in this way, horrible politics but great writing. I have really enjoyed the three novels of his I’ve read.

          1. RabidGandhi

            Borges may have been worse, in that at least Vargas Llosa (AFAIK) never came out publicly in favour of dictators. But Borges’ prose is second to none (sorry, I’m biased).

      3. Isolato

        Just ordered it. Thanks…Whatever you think of MVL , he has shown astonishing sympathy to native peoples and their crushing by the Europeans. “The Storyteller” alone was worth his Nobel.

    2. EndOfTheWorld

      If you haven’t seen it, check out Randy Newman on youtube doing A Few Words in Defense of our Country. He talks about what King Leopold did to the Congo. “He took the diamonds…took the gold…took the silver….You know what he left ’em with?…Malaria.”

        1. ekstase

          He always seems so unimpressed. I think maybe that’s why people don’t always get it that he’s satirizing something.

    3. Mucho

      If you liked it, check out Congo: The Epic History of a People by David van Reybrouck. Quite magnificent

    4. dale

      I’m forty pages into The Secret Agent, an awful set of characters so far, but Conrad makes them irresistible. His Under Western Eyes was on a list of one hundred-best-novels written in English linked here a while back…. so when I saw the Agent in a used book store I knew I had stumbled upon another treasure.

      1. marym

        Reading Secret Agent now too !! about 15 pages left….strange and unsettling characters and atmosphere. Thanks for the tip about Under Western Eyes.

          1. marym

            Interesting site. I still read the old-fangled way but wow, lots of titles and lots of downloads. Thanks for the link.

  2. Steve H.

    1) Multiple kinds of parsley for the superb vitamin C content.

    2) Doing ‘Lysistrata’ and just met with an organic ice cream maker who will create ‘Lickistrata’- honey, almond, and pomegranite for a pink tinge.

    3) Pollack on water, just got ‘Toxic Sludge is Good for You’ [Stauber]. But Mosler before that.

    1. Steve H.

      Taleb tweet:

      What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I saw a student production of Lysistrata years ago. One of the funniest productions I’ve ever seen. It was a small venue, but we were all howling with laughter.

      Incidentally, a little of Gene Sharp’s Lysistratic Non-Action would go a long way in today’s atmosphere; I can’t imagine why it hasn’t been tried….

  3. tomk

    We don’t have much sun, but the best thing this week was collecting maple sap and cooking it into syrup for the first time, primitive setup, but it was very easy, and fun. Not an easy way to make money, but its just kind of amazing, and so good.

    Just finished Saramago’s The Cave, which I loved, but I suspect it wouldn’t be for everyone, though potters and philosophical types would appreciate it.

    1. Reify99

      Drank some red maple sap today, not syrup. I’ve gotta say I was transported. Yes, sweet, but not too much, and I could taste tree, but it was more essence, “tree-ness”, if you will. Delightful.

    2. 3.14e-9

      tomk, congratulations! My father was an old Vermonter, and so the story goes, he had a sugar cabin in the woods with two vats running 24/7. My uncles joked that he almost burned the place down more than once. He collected the sap on a horse-drawn sled.

      Thirty years later, my 10-year-old brother decided he was going to make maple syrup on the kitchen stove. I have no idea how he knew how to do it, because by the time he and I were born, my father and mother had moved to Upstate New York, and none of us ever saw a maple syrup operation. My father still had taps lying around in the woodshed. My brother drilled a few holes in the sugar maples in our backyard, three or four of them, IIRC. Back in that time, there was a brand of peanut butter (Shedd’s) that came in aluminum pails. My mother saved them for us to take to the beach. But they worked pretty well for collecting sap, too. They just needed to be emptied more often, and my brother did that every day. He cooked it in one of those old-fashioned heavy pressure cookers, without the lid. Just like my father, he had it going 24/7. After one week and I don’t know how many quarts of sap — the ratio is 40-to-1 — he had one quart of pure, perfect maple syrup. It was thicker than what you buy in the stores now, so he might have used even more than 40 quarts of sap.

      And yes, we used to drink the sap! I recall it tasting like sugar water flavored with tree bark. Incidentally, the old Vermonters know that the best maple syrup is Grade B. The anemic Grade A is for tourists, who are stupid enough to pay extra for it. :-)

      1. RWH from VI Canada

        First time comment, though long time reader.
        My father grew up in Quebec’s Eastern Townships just north of the Vermont border. Some of his family were doing maple sugar when I was growing up in Hamilton, ON. They used to send us 5 GALLONS every year. What was left over the following winter my father threw into the snow for taffy.
        Here on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands “sapsuckers” collect sap from western maples and make syrup. A friend on Salt Spring Island has an expensive evaporator, though he did not start that way. Every year there is a maple syrup festival at the Forest Discovery Centre near Duncan, and the Salt Spring Fall Fair has a sapsucker demonstration every year.

  4. jgordon

    Ok, I’ll step up!

    1) I’m growing a lot of moringa oleifera trees!! Ordering seeds? My babies are producing so many seeds I don’t know what to with them all! By the way, everyone should be growing moringa oleifera. It grows like a virulent weed in poor/sandy soil and is a super food whose leaves will sustain you and your family if society unexpectedly collapses. Or if you just want to eat healthier and save money on groceries. People who say that growing food is hard or that you need a lot of space for it have a pretty narrow and unhealthy idea of what “food” is. With my super worms and moringa I feel confident of surviving no matter what happens.

    2) Spring is here! Isn’t that great? The weather is so warm and beautiful now. This week I went outside and it was so warm and comfortable that I felt overwhelmingly happy. I was so excited I started petting and talking to my plants to help them grow. I’m excited about being able to plant a few more fruit trees this year.

    3) Currently reading Debt, the First 5,000 Years. It’s awesome!

    1. fresno dan

      You convinced me! What a salesman
      I assume they will grow in CA (northern valley)
      I hope birds like them

      1. jgordon

        It’s been my experience that birds will occasionally land on a moringa tree, but they don’t have much else to do with them. Moringa is a perennial tree that lives for about 20 years without coppicing–unless you get a hard frost. In a frost where the ground does not freeze it dies down to the ground and you’ll get a healthy crop of moringa in the spring. If the ground freezes too, well that’s the end of the plant. Luckily though moringa grows so fast that even in very cold climates you can treat it as annual vegetable. I had a particularly good bit of ground with rich hugelkultur soil that I’d been cultivating where I planted a moringa seedling. In four months it grew to about 25 feet tall whereupon I coppiced it and harvested the leaves. It had already flowered and trying to put out bean pods when I topped it.

        Every part of the moringa tree is edible aside from the trunk. The roots have a very strong horse radish flavor (you have to be careful with the roots–they contain a toxic alkaloid that’s dangerous in larger quantities) and can be used as a condiment anywhere horseradish would be. To me, the leaves taste like spinach with a nutty flavor and a hint of horse radish. They have a pretty potent flavor raw. You can powder the leaves and make a soup base with them, or turn them into bread (the bread is very bitter though). The immature bean pods can be cooked like green beans or eaten raw. The horseradish flavor is a lot more noticeable in them. Somewhat older bean pods can be eaten in a different manner. The seeds can be pressed and produce an extremely healthy cooking oil. After you’ve refined the oil from the seeds, the crushed seed husks can by used to purify dirty water.

        This tree is just so useful for humans. Add to the fact that the leaves contain a complete protein complex… I’m not religious definitely, but it’s almost like moringa was designed for humans to make use of. To me it just proves how crazy and messed our thinking is that everyone in America isn’t growing these trees everywhere they can. And people moan about how difficult it is to live locally and sustainable. I just want to pound my head on the wall when I hear it.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          FedCo doesn’t carry Moringa Oleifera so I assume Maine’s hard frost defeats them. And I’m looking for a shrub-like solution that will attract birds that will eat bugs and be musical.

          However, I’m done some hugelkultur (scraps from the woodpile) with great success, and I’m thinking planting them in a hugel AND serious mulching might carry them through. Thoughts?

          1. Clive

            You could consider a Berberis Dictyophylla variety https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/27773/i-Berberis-dictyophylla-i/Details?returnurl=%2Fplants%2Fshrubs%3Fcontext%3Db%25253D0%252526hf%25253D12%252526l%25253Den%252526s%25253Ddesc%25252528plant_merged%25252529%252526sl%25253Dplants%252526r%25253Df%2525252Fplant_plant_type%2525252Fshrubs%26s%3Ddesc(plant_merged)%26page%3D8%26aliaspath%3D%252fplants%252fshrubs

            The pale yellow flowers of late spring form a valuable source of nectar for bees; they later give rise to red fruits favoured by birds.

            It tolerates our Zone 5 in Europe so hopefully it can survive Maine.

    2. different clue

      I have read about the moringa tree. The only way I could imagine even trying the moringa tree in Maine or Michigan or anywhere else with a killer winter would be to grow little seedlings in a warm-enough greenhouse and plant them outside when its warm enough . . . . and take and root enough cuttings off them to grow again in the greenhouse for next growing season. And hope that one growing season’s growth would be enough to get some useful food from the moringa seedlings in the garden before first kill-chill.

  5. GlobalMisanthrope

    Our garden:

    We moved in September and had a terribly busy fall and winter, so we prepared the beds, but we never got anything going. Summers are so harsh here that we’ll wait ’til the fall to plant again. But, glory of glories, an all-volunteer garden has turned up from seeds and scraps in the compost that we tilled into the beds over the winter. We never had a freeze. So far we have squash, melons, onions, collard greens and what looks like is going to be a pepper of some kind. We’re thrilled.

    Also, our front yard is currently covered in a weed that we just discovered is cleavers, a very useful medicinal plant! We’re going to harvest and dry those this weekend so my wife can make tincture.

    1. tejanojim

      Are you in Texas? I planted volunteer pumpkins from the compost bin a few weeks ago and our yard is swarming with cleavers. Just recently found out the name and that it’s edible/medicinal. I’ve been calling it asterisk weed for years.

  6. Bottom Gun

    Shiso leaf and mitsuba alongside the usual tomatoes and squash. Now I have to persuade my wife and children to eat Japanese food.

    1. Uahsenaa

      We grow a lot of more uncommon Japanese produce, greens in particular, since the Asian markets around here skew Korean/Chinese. I’m particularly fond of mizuna, which is great raw, cooked, in noodle soups, etc.

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        I have some hostas and want to try to cook hosta this year or just eat it raw in salads. Also I want to get some Japanese kerria plants to put in front of some of my windows. A beautiful shade plant—-though inedible (as far as I know) it has sharp leaves which may discourage the casual burglar from trying to climb through my windows. The professional burglar, of course, will get in anyway, but a sharp-edged plant might discourage high school kids just looking for mischief.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          After doing some research, I see that the leaves of the Japanese kerria contain a lot of vitamin C and also some hydrogen cyanide, which is supposedly healthy in small quantities but will kill you if you overdo it. Anybody ever eat/cook Japanese kerria?

        2. Uahsenaa

          Funny story, I had to learn about kerria in order to be a better translator. The flowers are mentioned all the time in classical Japanese poetry.

          I didn’t know you could eat the greens. I’ll send an email to a friend of mine who grows everything under the sun in Japan and see what she says. Typically, with poisonous/bitter chemicals in plant, the Japanese will leech them for a few hours in a solution of vinegar and water.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            Yeah, the kerria leaves are too sharp to eat without cutting up your tongue. Maybe you could juice it theoretically. Hosta is a different story—-supposedly commonly eaten in Asia although not tried much in America. I’ve eaten some raw leaves—-tastes like spinach. They say the new shoots in spring are the most delicious.

  7. GlobalMisanthrope

    I just got a new job that takes me out of daily kitchen work. I’ve been hired to write the menu, recipes, etc and set up the kitchen for a new place opening in the summer. This week I submitted my first draft of the menu and got “beautiful,” “balanced” and “exciting” as feedback. Fantastically revitalizing to experience freedom and appreciation again!

    1. optimader

      Good for you GM!
      Slip in a toasted dark rye bread PB&J using black currant jam on the dessert menu…. served w/ coffee. That’s the unsatisfied monkey I have on my back today.

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        Mmmm. Crunchy or creamy?

        And, hey, did you see my note below about the brisket?

        1. Optimader

          Yes i did a brisket that weekend very good prep indeed.( I used honey instead of sugar, ). ill try it again w/ cane sugar this spring when i move back into my house.

          So you can have some fun maybe “Last Meal Wensdays”?

          The ubiqutous chef qustion.. Your last meal would be?

          1. Optimader

            I see you moved to Austin.. Geeat live music scene to go with the seafood. youll have fun there if i were to nove to TX that would be the place for me.

            1. GlobalMisanthrope

              Last meal:

              1st course: cream of cauliflower soup with shaved black truffle

              2nd: brandade de morue

              3rd: jambon persille

              4th: veal sweetbreads panée

              5th: braised lamb shank w simple salad

              6th: cheese course: Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal, Brie de Meaux, Bucheron

              7th: salted caramel mousse

              I already lived in Austin. Off and on since ’78 and non-stop since ’98. Just moved houses. And now jobs. Don’t believe the hype. It definitely isn’t what it used to be. These days, I’m more of a Houston guy.

              1. Yves Smith

                OMG I love sweetbreads and hardly anyone makes them!

                Lamb sweetbreads even better but impossible to get in the US unless you can get to butcher who actually butchers.

                1. RabidGandhi

                  Yves… come to Argentina. Sweetbreads (mollejas) are a staple at an Argentine parrillada.

              2. optimader

                Nicely play.. Eat well Sir!

                Haven’t been to Austin since the early 90s, some fun times then w/ Marcia Ball banging away on piano.

        2. Optimader

          Personally i go crunchy but old school would be creamy.. Seriously, real bread,, black currant jam, as good as any dessert in my book

          1. GlobalMisanthrope

            I’m seriously mulling it. I love to put fun, surprising things on menus. I tell you what. If I do, I know what to name it!

            1. optimader

              GM.. I’d urge you raise the game w/ a name like:

              Noir l’écrou confiture de cassis et de beurre sur toast

              I have productive black currant bushes now, but I also buy the Cracovia brand.. A great substitute for sugar. Try mixing w/ balsamic vinegar (and rum) for making a reduction sauce .. in tuna fish salad…sauerkraut.. endless synergies
              Put a case in your kitchen and it will disappear in recipes..

  8. Kokuanani

    “King Leopold’s Ghost” is wonderful. I’m sure you noted how his papers — and thus the full story of his tyranny — were held secret for many years.

    I just finished another book by Ron Suskind, author of “A Hope in the Unseen” [terrific], “Confidence Men” and other works. This, “Life, Animated,” is about his autistic son, and the struggles to find help for him. The son’s primary connection with the “outside world” was via Disney movies, plays and characters, but when the son did “speak,” his wisdom and understanding were astounding.

    A self-effacing portrait of Suskind’s incredible devotion, and a glimpse of what may be going on inside the minds who can’t express themselves in clear and traditional terms.

    I hear it’s going to be made into a movie.

  9. savedbyirony

    Reading “Merchants in the Temple” by Gianluigi Nuzzi out of personal interest and reading “Mother Courage and Her Children” with plenty of critical source materials and artistic commentaries to go along in prep for a local production

    best thing to happen community wise is our local girls Public High School basketball team is going to the state championship today after losing to the same catholic H.S. team three years running in the quarter finals

    best personal thing, my mother, who lives in a nursing home and always gets a little down over the winter, was able to get outside again and this really picks up her spirits and health

    don’t garden, but enjoy very much to gardens of others and am thankful for those who do

    (This is going to be a great comments section to read throughout the day. Thanks)

    1. Isolato

      If you are producing “Mother Courage and Her Children” or are even just remembering it…I highly urge you to see “Theater of War”, a wonderful documentary about the 2007(?) production in NY featuring a new translation by Tony Kushner and starring Meryl Streep (!) and Kevin Kline. It includes lots of wonderful footage of the original production, Brecht’s testimony before the HUAC…and would be a great adjunct to study. Unfortunately you can’t find it on the innertubes to stream, but you can buy a DVD at the place we dare not name.

      1. savedbyirony

        Thanks for the heads up and yes i actually have the dvd and have watched it and passed it around. We have also been reading/comparing a number of translations including Kushner’s, but i admit to being partial to David Hare’s.

  10. RabidGandhi

    1. Rosemary and anise hyssop. Next years goals: replenished cover crop under the grape vines and fewer mosquitoes in the patio area.

    2. Our 4-month old started sleeping in 4 hour stretches! Yippee

    3. Finishing up Philip Knightley’s The First Casualty. A scathing survey of the history of war correspondents and their highly adulterous relation with the facts.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Re: your item 2. Been there (twice). At that age you can start letting them cry it out when they first go to sleep, it wears them out a bit, and they start to learn to put themselves to sleep. That means easier initial put downs, and longer sleep as they learn to rollover and go back to sleep without help.

      And make sure you get them on real food, too. That keeps them fuller for longer, so they don’t wake up hungry!

  11. Chromex

    Best good thing: Michigan Democratic Primary
    A Maze of Death by Philip K Dick

    he Amazing Colossal Apostle by Robert M Price

    1. RabidGandhi

      I was gonna put the MI primary, but realised a healthy portion of my joy came from seeing HRC and the DNC humiliated –> schadenfreude

      1. 3.14e-9

        That definitely was my best moment of the week, too. Yes, part of it was schadenfreude, but only part. I was thrilled not because it humiliated HRC or the pollsters, but simply because he beat incredible odds. Also, I just watched a video of Bernie’s rally in Miami. One of his best, I think. And the audience was hilarious, shouting his lines before he did, like a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tulsi Gabbard’s intro was brilliant.

        Second good thing that happened … I had a few bars of music going ’round and ’round in my head and couldn’t remember what it was from. It bugged me for days, and then suddenly it came to me that it might be from Kenneth Branaugh’s St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V. Sure enough, it was, and when I found it on YouTube, I realized how much I’d forgotten of the speech itself. And I wondered whether maybe that score was going through my head, because winning against all odds had triggered that memory. It’s amazing what the mind puts into deep storage, and then one day, it coughs up a file.

        Garden: I collected seeds from last year’s nasturtiums, which were from seeds I’d collected the year before.

  12. brook trout

    unseasonally warm Michigan early spring, so I’ve two beds of spinach in the ground; early cauliflower and broccoli out in the wind tunnel, along with red and yellow onions and some Skyphos lettuce, a butterhead. I keep seeds from year to year in a vacuum sealed jar, so not an especially large order this year. New Skyphos, some new varieties of tomatoes in search of the ever elusive perfect tomato (Marbonne, New Girl), a new carrot, new onion seed every year. Lotsa carry overs–cabbages, tomatillos, black beans, carrots, Brussels sprounts, on and on. Most of my seeds are from a seed catalog because after all these years I’m a bit picky as to variety. Buy common things like Bloomsdale spinach locally.

    best moment of the week was without doubt Bernie’s win in Michigan. Wife came home from our rural election spot where she is an election worker with some early pro-Bernie results, and I knew he had a chance. Good job, Michigan!

  13. GlobalMisanthrope

    I’m reading The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson, Granta No 134, and The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord (Ken Knabb translation). I’m also about to start Catastrophe 1914 by Max Hastings, as soon as my wife finishes.

    Well, plus combing through several dozen cooking and recipe books for inspiration. I am reminded of how much I love Elizabeth David and how much more interesting recipes are when written in prose style. Oh, and a warning to cooks in the crowd: the newer the cookbook, the less chance the recipes have actually been tested.

    Oh, yeah. Hey, optimader, did you ever try that brisket recipe?

    1. DJG

      Then you will like Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed. Wherein we learn to cook field poppies and a fox.

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        I’ll look for it. Thank you.

        A fox! My wife and I got the first edition of Larousse Gastronomique (1938) as a wedding present. It has a recipe for roasted camel’s hump.

      2. GlobalMisanthrope

        I just looked her up. Why haven’t I heard of her? Thanks again.

        I’ll be looking for her The Centaur’s Kitchen: A Book of French, Italian, Greek & Catalan Dishes for Ships’ Cooks on the Blue Funnel Line, too!

        1. polecat

          Just finished reading ‘Cinnamon and Gunpowder’ a novel by Eli Brown…….

          a combination of piracy & gourmet cooking…w/ a strangely, evolving love angle !!

  14. Carolinian

    Emailgate–the fix is in?


    Also Dean Baker weighs in on the NYT Trump/merchantilism story and no likey.

    It is also worth correcting the notion that the United States has been committed to a policy of free trade. While trade agreements have explicitly sought to lower barriers to manufactured goods thereby putting U.S. manufacturing workers in direct competition with low paid workers in Mexico, China, and other developing countries, they have maintained or even strengthened protections elsewhere.

    For example, U.S. physicians earn on average twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy countries. This is in large part due to the fact that foreign doctors cannot practice in the United States unless they have completed a U.S. residency program. Dentists enjoy similar protection. In order to practice in the United States a dentist must graduate from a U.S. dental school. (In the last few years, graduates of Canadian dental schools have also been allowed to practice.)

    The article highlights a tariff on tires which apparently raised prices in the $40 billion tire market by 2.5 percent. In contrast, the market for physicians’ services is over $200 billion annually, with prices perhaps double what they would be in a free market. Nonetheless, the “free traders” never seem to pay attention to the protectionism in this market. The predicted and actual effect of this pattern of trade is to depress the wages of ordinary workers while increasing the wages for those at the top.


    1. Vatch

      I wonder whether the cost of medical malpractice insurance is a driver of high physician wages in the U.S.

      1. PeonInChief

        No. In California malpractice awards were limited many years ago. The effect on price here has been negligible.

        1. alex morfesis

          Just because the awards were limited doesnt mean insurance company rentiering was clawed back with reasonable prison pricing…
          the few dox whose business I know about all make major adjustments in their life from the draconian costs to their human capital by the outsized profiteering on malpractice premiums

      2. different clue

        How much of those high physician wages flow right back out to repaying high medical school loans?

    2. fresno dan

      March 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm
      thanks for that. Baker has pointed out the intellectual dishonesty of the “free traders” for quite a while.
      We protect the rich and throw the poorer to the wolves…

  15. Uahsenaa

    1) Outside our typical Armenian cucumbers (LOVE!), tomatoes, and Japanese greens, this year I’m hoping our blueberries don’t get devoured by the prairie in our backyard.

    2) My daughter started spontaneously singing “What a Wonderful World” in the kitchen. I later learned her class had been practicing the song for a surprise performance at her school’s community night, but it made me smile nonetheless.

    3) Aside from a 1st edition facsimile of Yumeno Kyusaku’s Dogura magura, for a translation project I’m working on, I’ve been reading a bunch of MFA translation manuscripts, one of which is by a young woman I’m convinced will be hot shit in the very near future, works mostly on Cuban writers, lacks the courage of her convictions, but is young, so it’s to be expected, I suppose.

    1. optimader

      Getting late, but you still have a chance to shove a dozen or so heads of garlic in the ground .. You’ll thank me in the fall.

      1. Steve H.

        One area of our front is all garlic and mint. When the garlic heads uncurl, they look like a flock of flamingos facing east. Then the scapes burst open, but we harvest before then – still have some in the freezer. Rich and mild.

  16. JohnnyGL

    1) Hoping to stick in an apple tree with a couple of breeds grafted onto it to stretch out the season when they’re available to eat. My 5 year old has been nagging on and off to put one back there. I also stuck a couple of grape vines in last fall that I’m hoping will enjoy growing all over a chain-link fence. I gotta get some comfrey plants, too!

    2) Some changes at work that will mean less annoyance and hassle.

    3) Nakedcap, of course! Too much election coverage! I got through “1491” a couple months back. Last night I checked out some old Gary Webb interviews on DemocracyNow. Crazy story about the CIA involved in drug running.

  17. Carla

    Reading “Thieves of State” by Sarah Chayes.

    Quote of the day: “The mere fact of holding elections, Americans already knew, was not sufficient to guarantee people’s rights. That truth–that an election per se is less important than the architecture within which it takes place–played out in the painful struggles that took place in Arab Spring countries after their revolutions.”

    Oops. Also playing out here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am reading The Troubled Empire, China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties.

      Apparently, the Mongols froze everyone’s occupation when they conquered Song China.

      So, if your father is a butcher, you have to be a butcher.

      And if your father is a software programmer, you are too.

      But if you father is the president, your only job is to be the president.

  18. Paul Tioxon

    I am reading some books, then I read this article this morning and it eclipsed whatever else was on my mind. A couple befriended a homeless woman and sought to get her help and wound up caring for her in their home for 2 1/2 years until the 80 year old woman succumbed to many medical issues, including psychological, and was sent to a medical care facility. Here is the opening of the article, a link, and the entire story was written as a memoir by the lady who provided the care, which you can get info about in the article. Random acts of unspeakable kindness go under reported in the news.
    THERE’S Hollywood, and then there’s real life.

    Out of the woods: In Philly suburb, a true-life tale of friendship
    Hollywood looks like this:

    Maggie Smith, the British grande dame of film, is starring in a new comedy called The Lady in the Van, about a homeless elderly woman who parks her beaten-up 1957 Bedford CA van in a stranger’s driveway and lives there for 17 years.

    Mayhem ensues. Delightful music underscores the funny parts; sorrowful notes amplify the poignant ones. By the time moviegoers leave the theater, they’ve fallen hard for Smith’s troubled but quirky character. All is well.

    Real life looks like this:

    Doreen McGettigan and her husband, John, take in a homeless, mentally ill 80-year-old named Sophie after John learns that she’s been living in a wooded area off MacDade Boulevard in Delaware County. Sophie settles into the couple’s nearby home for what the McGettigans presume will be a brief stay while they locate her family, find her shelter, or both.

    Mayhem ensues when Sophie’s kin want nothing to do with her anymore. And every agency that ought to help with Sophie’s crisis fails to do so – for reasons that may have as much to do with Sophie’s past noncompliance as with bureaucratic indifference.

    The “music” that accompanies these scenes?

    Sophie’s yelling.

    Sophie winds up living with the McGettigans for 2 1/2 years, until a terminal illness and mental decline force them to place her in a nursing home. She screams at Doreen to “rot in hell” for abandoning her, and dies within a few months.

    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20160311_Out_of_the_woods__In_Philly_suburb__a_true-life_tale_of_friendship.html#9wcp9mGt1jUiYIYr.99

    1. savedbyirony

      The article is misrepresenting “Lady in the Van”, which i have seen. The film is a thoughtful, bitter sweat reflection on certain artistic temperaments and social outsiders with ironic comedic turns but most important to mention is that it is based on the TRUE events of Alen Bennett, the British writer, allowing an older woman to park and live in his front garden for 15 years. I agree the ending seems to go “Hollywood” but one has to see the film to get a grasp of just why.

  19. timotheus

    No garden (apartment living), but daffodils planted last fall in the park out front are showing green.

    Film: Mountains May Depart (China). Unsettling, insightful.

    The Ferrante tetralogy but also Hobsbawm “On History”.

  20. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Read The Master Game by Graham Hancock. How teachings from the pagans, the Egyptians, and early Jesus were kept alive by Cathars, Rosicrucians, Manicheans, and Freemasons, and were brutally repressed by the Catholic Church and their lovely Inquisitions.
    You have to wade through many sections and chapters but there are lots of nuggets and real eye opening insights. How “thou shall not kill” turned into the hideous exploitative machine of colonialism, rampant capitalism, Crusades, Borgia popes. And a good examination of Freemasonry: Isaac Newton, George Washington, Ben Franklin, FDR, Nixon,and the meaning of the eye above the unfinished pyramid. The peaceful, open, enlightened kingdom of Occitania gets smashed by the monolithic murderous vengeful Orthodox church.

  21. meeps

    1). My 2016 seeds (so jazzed!) are:

    Glacier (early season semi-determinate) tomato
    Berkely Pink Tie Dye (indeterminate) tomato
    Cour di Bue (an Italian oxheart heirloom tomato from last year–best I’ve ever tasted)
    Ring of Fire, Grandpa’s Home and Black Hungarian chili peppers
    Slo Bolt Cilantro
    Golden Beets
    Shin Kuroda carrots
    Bleu Solaise Leek
    Tom Thumb lettuce, Rouge D’Hiver and Mesclun mix
    Green Purslane
    Swiss Rainbow Chard
    Thai and Emily Basil
    Lemon Queen Sunflower, Tennessee Purple Echinacea, Nasturtium, Borage and drought tolerant wildflower mix for pollinators
    Colorado Yarrow and Crimson clover for the soil

    2). Best good thing this week was sitting outside with the sun on my face, listening to a symphony of songbirds

    3). I’m reading, Mirrors; Stories of Almost Everyone, by Eduardo Galeano. An excerpt:

    Mirrors are filled with people.
    The invisible see us.
    The forgotten recall us.
    When we see ourselves, we see them.
    When we turn away, do they?

    Thanks for orchestrating a re-tune today, Lambert. Happy journeys.

  22. rich

    Watching…Video: Bernie Rips Rahm (And Hillary) In New Ad

    In a Bernie Sanders campaign ad released five days before the Illinois primary, Chicago Public Schools principal and perennial Rahm antagonist Troy LaRaviere ties Chicago’s corrupt political system, Rahm’s closure of 50 South and West Side Schools, and Hillary Clinton together so seamlessly it’s almost easy to forget you’re watching a political ad.

    “If you have a presidential candidate who supports someone like our mayor, you have a candidate not willing to take on the establishment,” LaRaviere says, bringing to mind Clinton’s shrugging off of the mayor’s potential culpability in the Laquan McDonald cover-up.

    LaRaviere has been a thorn in Rahm’s side for years. In a letter to the editor printed in the Sun-Times in 2014, he wrote that CPS’s budget cuts and school closures showed that Emanuel cared little about the public school students of Chicago. And he is the frontrunner to lead the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, the principals’ union, which would bring him even more directly into regular conflict with Rahm.


  23. Kurt Sperry

    1. Haven’t bought seeds this season, seldom do. I mostly grow perennials and usually buy starts for annuals (still generally too early, even here in Western Washington).

    2. Bernie’s upset in MI (ignoring the schadenfreude component for now).

    3. Haven’t cracked a real book this week, NYRB article/review on Dietrich Bonhoeffer dissident anti-Nazi theologian, good story.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The piece doesn’t seem to be on their site. It’s in the December 3rd paper edition.

  24. PQS

    Best good thing this week was actually last weekend, when I spent the entire day IN THE GARDEN. It was unseasonably warm and clear.

    I am very excited this year to be planting “Tom Thumb”, a miniature pea with short vines but full sized shelling peas. I am hoping it will be a great player for my hanging baskets, which had unsuccessful strawberries in them. Once things really warm up, I’m planning on putting in a miniature white pumpkin just based on the name, “Gooligan”, which was irresistible. I am also going to try tomatillos, which I’m told are dangerously productive. But who doesn’t love green salsa?

    So far, I’ve put in Yukon Gold potatoes in mulch enclosures (“the lazy way”), spinach and greens mixtures in pots, and onions, which I pull when still little. Weather in the PNW is pretty sketchy all the way until May, so I don’t put things out until it really settles. I didn’t plant half the beds last year due to other projects, so this will be a full year for me, and I’m looking forward to it.

    Am reading “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel. Story of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, etc. Actually quite timely during a Presidential race year…..and utterly worth reading.

  25. mcdee

    Saw one of the Folger Library’s copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, printed in 1623. Opened to the page in Hamlet: “To be, or not to be…” Gave me goosebumps.

    1. Steve H.

      So you know, there are scanned versions online, and the punctuation and capitalization give strong clues for presentation. We’ll be using them for ‘Much Ado’ this summer. For understanding I use Riverside, but the plays are meant for performance, and the First Folio was a labor of love.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Never occurred to me that capitalization would give clues to performance, but now that I think of it, it makes total sense. Typographic options were few in those days.

    2. GlobalMisanthrope

      Shakespeare fans might enjoy a talk Marilynne Robinson gave in 2014 on the subject of his audience. She wrote her dissertation on Shakespeare. As she loves to do, she makes some very convincing and provocative arguments that run counter to the orthodoxy. Here’s the link:

      watch?v=6hvUwFOFGAA at youtube

      1. threeskies

        oh goodie, a lead. I’ve left off Lear for Macbeth and Deleuze on Francis Bacon. That’s how I’m coping.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s interesting to think of Claudius’s (very under-rated) soliloquoy as a meditation on political responsibility (as befits a king):

        O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
        It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
        A brother’s murther! ….

        …Then I’ll look up;
        My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
        Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murther’?
        That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
        Of those effects for which I did the murther-
        My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
        May one be pardon’d and retain th’ offence?
        In the corrupted currents of this world
        Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,
        And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
        Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above.
        There is no shuffling….

    3. nihil obstet

      I’m currently reading A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599 by James Shapiro. Lots of fun. It’s the year he wrote Julius Caesar so last night I watched the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2012 filming of it, set in the modern West Indies. Very good.

  26. Steve in Flyover

    An item for my “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up file”

    An inspection item on one of the corporate jets I work on was 100 flight hours from being due. My “spidey sense” and my experience nagged at me, told me I should take a look at it a little early.

    So when the airplane got back Monday, I looked at it. Suspicions confirmed, IMO, component needed to be changed before the next flight.

    No telling how long it could have continued to run. Maybe a couple of months. Maybe a failure on the next flight. Losing a big percentage of your electrical power in flight can generate problems. No matter, it’s not a problem now. Nobody knows or cares, except me and the flight crew.

    The PTB think all of this happens by magic. They have no freaking clue that no matter what the technology is, there are a bunch of guys like me who are the difference between the system working, and the house of cards collapsing into daily disasters.

    1. HopeLB

      Thank You! Maybe write a little summary up and send it to the FAA to get some action? Or to your Congressperson? They probably fly often and will actuallly care/act in order to secure their own safety. Thanks!!!

    2. HotFlash

      Thank you Steve! Sometimes, very occasionally, but still sometimes, I am in a plane. And I cannot thank you enough.

    3. Norb

      The capitalist system is fragile because many subtile actions in the workplace are never adequately accounted for. Like your example, the important actions that keep the machine running flow naturally from dedicated and caring workers making important decisions daily. The worst employees are the ones who only follow the company rules to the letter and are concerned only with self interest.

      The PTB have gotten off easy so far because the bounty of the natural world has obscured their true destructive nature. One day, we will have damaged the environment to such an extent that our current wasteful way of life will no longer be possible. Until then, shining a light on that destructiveness is the way forward.

      Spidey sense is caring about the work you do- and how that work effects the world around you.

  27. DJG

    1. I don’t garden, but I plan to go to the local farmers market weekly, which is just steps from ye olde condo. Temptations (here in Chicago): Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Grapes with seeds (Concord, Niagara). Purslane, which I seem to be obsessed with.

    2. High points of the week: My birthday is this week. Last Sunday, I went to the local rock shop for a reading. My natal astrological chart, as well tarot. C.G. Jung used to check both as diagnostics, so I thought that a birthday personality-tuneup might be in order. Quite the reading. Checked the I Qing. Under the influence of hexagram 14, Possession in Great Measure. Propitious. Yes, writers are superstitious. I can’t sit around being rational all the time.

    3. Reading the Landon Robbins biog of Antonio Vivaldi, truly one of the greats, a restless genius. I just finished a graphic novel, and I seldom read graphic novels, so I will recommend it: Dare to Disappoint by Özge Samancı, about how she grew up in Izmir, Turkey. (Although she now lives here and teaches at Northwestern U.)

  28. polecat

    planting the following: Blue Hooker’s &, or, Painted Mountain Indian Corn….to dry for masa….
    Kabocha Wniter Squash
    Hot Chile Peppers
    Nigella sativa / East Indian Kalonji
    Epazote – great in beans….yum !!

    two surprises this week: #1 – the terrestrial orchids are coming up (Cypripedium, Bletilla, Dactyloriza, & Epipactis

    #2 – One of my three bee hives survived the winter !!!….. lots of activity yesterday……mucho foragers, bringing in the pollen…Hurray!!

    1. polecat

      Hey Lambert…..My posted comment above supposedly is in moderation…for a hour!…. what gives…….seems like alot of immoderate moderation, no?

      1. polecat

        Ok…..I shall try again…’sigh’…..

        Garden planting this season: Blue Hooker’s, or Painted Mountain Indian Corn….or both…for masa
        Kabocha Winter Squash
        Chile peppers-Ancho
        Nigella/East Indian Kolonji

        our terrestrial orchids are coming up (Bletilla, Dactyloriza, Cypripedium, & Epipactis)

        One of our three bee hives was REALLY active yesterday…with lots of foragers returning with mucho pollen…HURRAY !!!

        1. polecat

          I see now my 1st garden comment has reappeared…’ugh’……..quantum comments in space/time……i guess.

  29. Brian

    How Politics Makes Us Sick: Neoliberal Epidemics
    Authors: Schrecker, T., Bambra, C., 2015

    The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine
    Author: Henry A. Giroux

  30. ChrisA

    My raspberries are getting pulled out. Last year I discovered the lovely and talented, invasive, “spotted wing drosophila” laying eggs in my berries. Not sure how many larvae I ate before I noticed. Since I’d rather not spray and everything Ive read indicates that they are difficult to control, I’m just ripping it all up. Another casualty of globalization. If you have raspberries, keep your eye out. They are spreading quickly.

    1. polecat

      We get a continual ‘crop’ of fruit flies every summer hangin in the compost bin,…sometimes having to hold our breath opening& closing the lid, being SO profuse! I could turn the pile every day, to no avail….. One ultimately can’t destroy Nature, so one as to compromise to live within it!!

      …so we share with the drosophila our compost bounty.

        1. polecat

          In summer, I often have to contend with them flittering to and fro, in the house, usually between me and the computer screen! I try to catch them with a swipe of the hand,….but man, they make an F-35 seem like a flying brick…..humm…..

          don’t ever let ’em get into your beer(or mead) wort……disaster may ensue!!

          1. RWH from VI Canada

            Take an old jam jar you still have a lid for, or a 250ml canning jar. Punch half a dozen holes in the lid, add about 2 cms of apple cider vinegar, and set on a window ledge. In a few days all the fruit flies will be pickled. Leave to collect more flies. Should last a month or two.

  31. RabidGandhi

    [Warning: have barfbag ready]

    Just when you thought she couldn’t get any more hideous, HRC just reversed history and said:

    “The Reagans, particularly Nancy, helped start ‘a national conversation’ about HIV and AIDS.”

    link: twitter.com/MSNBC/status/708363242737766401?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw


    1. GlobalMisanthrope


      Just today at the Guardian online: us-news/2016/mar/11/nancy-ronald-reagan-aids-crisis-first-lady-legacy

      Oh, now she’s apologized. Will she be let off the hook? Will it never stop?

    2. Carolinian

      Luckily I don’t get cable so don’t have to watch the rending of garments. Counterpunch had a mean thing Peter Lawford said about her on their site the other day–you can Google it. Nancy of course spearheaded the post mortem Reagan hagiography that climaxed with the naming of the capital’s airport after the dotty old criminal.

      1. Kokuanani

        Since returning to the DC area, we have steadfastly refused to refer to “National Airport” by the name of the “dotty old criminal” [thanks for that], and call it “Voldemort National” [he who shall not be named].

      2. RWood

        There are several YouTube lectures by Michael Parenti in which he insists that Reagan was no dummy. He certainly got away with high crimes and misdemeanors and got no dirt on himself or his proficient crew.

    3. GlobalMisanthrope

      I. Just. Can’t. Leave this alone. This makes her a TOTAL fraud.

      As First Lady of Arkansas she was so out of touch with or unconcerned about the AIDS crisis that she didn’t register the Reagans’ unvarnished disdain for the suffering of millions of American families.

      If the LGBTetal. patriarchs and matriarchs don’t tear her limb-from-limb, I might really and truly lose my mind.

    4. sd

      Wow. That’s insulting on so many levels, I just don’t even know where to start….so I’ll just link to Act Up NYC who actually deserves credit for their tireless work to try and save people’s lives.


      Excerpt from Michael Bronski:

      Although AIDS was first reported in the medical and popular press in 1981, it was only in October of 1987 that President Reagan publicly spoke about the epidemic. By the end of that year 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 of those women and men had died. How could this happen, they ask? Didn’t he see that this was an ever-expanding epidemic? How could he not say anything? Do anything?

    5. polecat

      the Gipper: “This is your brain……this is your brain on Horoscope!……..did your hear me Nancy!”

    6. Gio Bruno

      See my recent comment about HRC’s tendency to put her foot in mouth. The longer Bernie extends the campaign the better his chances. Expect to see more missteps from the Hill.

    7. HotFlash

      Checked out RG’s link to the Reagan admin’s AIDS response (I cannot say how revolting I found it, b/c there aren’t words) but thanks to youtube suggestions went digging a bit further. Apparently the surviving Reagans don’t think much of the current Republican field!

      So much for the Stepford Republicans trying to wrap themselves in the mantle of St. Ronald.

    8. Lambert Strether Post author

      Man oh man, does the Democratic establishment love their “conversations”! Whenever you hear that word, run for your life, because you know the fix is in!

  32. Martin Finnucane

    (1) Gardening: I am starting a small raised bed garden for the first time. I’ve put in radishes, basil, lettuce, arugula, yellow onion, peas, pole beans, a fancy brocolli thing, and flowers for my daughter. Potatoes and leeks, and maybe carrots and parsnips, this weekend. Ours is a warm, sunny, and soon to be blistering hot environment, so I reckon I could probably do this year round. I’m also working on an, um, indoor growing project. Cough.

    (2) Good stuff: building the raised bed frame in the carport a few nights ago, with the help of my six-year-old daughter. The help is what did it.

    (3) Books: War with the Newts, Karel Copek. (Defies explanation. Just read it.) On standby: Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson. (The English go out with a bang in Kenya. Why do they always get off so easy?)

  33. rusti

    Just picked up a copy today of Zephyr Teachout’s book Corruption in America. But first I need to finish a fun travel history I stumbled across at the library, On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads.

    The best thing this week is probably having moved to a new office and sitting right next to a coworker who has taught me a tremendous amount about politics and history of the Indian subcontinent, and realizing what a tremendous privilege it is to be able to take the last 45 minutes of the day to drink tea and discuss such things while on the clock.

  34. William Sircin

    1) Not applicable, for the moment. We’ll see how things pan out in the next few weeks.

    2) Completed and submitted a second project in my metalsmithing class. Received an excellent grade.

    3) Reading, among other things, Jacques Jouet’s My Beautiful Bus, and The Selected Poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky.

  35. petal

    1. Seedlings are sitting in the magic north window at work. I take a picture of them once a week. Can’t really put stuff in the ground here until May/Mem Day. Heirloom tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, yellow and orange peppers. Waiting for the sweet onions to arrive. Will also put in potatoes, gourds, and various flowers.
    2. Best thing to happen this week: I survived a term of German I with the undergrads while also working a full time job. Final is on Sunday-passing that is another story.
    3. Have been working my way through Catiline, The Monster of Rome: an Ancient Case of Political Assassination (by Francis Galassi) when not studying.
    Have a nice weekend, guys. Cheers.

  36. jo6pac

    Already planted
    All doing well.
    I rototilled the garden just before rain here in my part of Calli (Tracy).

    Fresno Dan that tree sounds interesting, I think I’ll order some seed next week. Thanks to the commenter for the idea.

    Best thingy. I was able buy wine cheap to rebuild my lieberry and after hurting my knee last Oct. I’ve been able to get some work done out side;)

    Lambert are there yet? Will we have fun? Why do have to leave just when things are turning weird?

    I do hope this get through skynet.

      1. Faye Carr

        I use a shallow till. Especially after any significant, uncontrolled pest infestation. It exposes the eggs and larve left behind in the soil and plant debris to the surface where they meet their end.

        It’s useful if the cardboard and over mulching haven’t entirely completed decomposing by bringing highly nutrient soil to the surface while retaining the benefits of water retention and soil texture

        As an older backyard producer working alone, I’d never be able to manage this scale without it.
        Deep discing is another thing entirely.

  37. curlydan

    3. Despite not reading many books and not finishing many that I start, I am reading “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones about America’s addiction with opiates. I saw this recommended a couple weeks ago by someone here (maybe Katniss Everdeen?). Anyway, it is as excellent as the recommender said and one that I will finish.

    Trying to finish Data vs Goliath by Bruce Schneier…don’t think I’ll be able to make it despite being pretty interesting. Not as good as Dreamland, though.

      1. RabidGandhi

        I just watched it. Heartrending, with brutal personal stories. Although I have to say I was disappointed in what they showed of Quinones (after seeing his book recommended here several times). There is a part where he essentially says “we were weak and those evil messicans knew how to kick us when we were down”, which is a bit of the tail wagging the dog, seeing as who creates the supply for the drug industry (US) and who gets the short end of the stick (most Mexicans).

        Also, I had a hard time connecting the dots between the housemom getting hooked because of Oxycontin and the kids getting addicted to heroin at age 14. Seems like there may be a more systemic connection that Frontline (interviewing Stephen “Too Big To Jail” Holder for crissakes) didn’t care to address.

  38. rjs

    the most important thing about seed catalogs is to know what not to order…stick with what works…you can waste a lot of time, effort and space trying to grow something that’s not suited to your soil or climate…

    1. HotFlash

      Plants, they are so *fussy*! One wants this, the other wants that, then sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t. My strategy is to plant lots of everything, bound to be a good year for something.

  39. fresno dan


    Turnout in the GOP race this year has soared, compared to 2012, as Trump has frequently noted. In the states that have voted so far, turnout is up by 4.5 million in the Republican contests compared to 2012, or 61 percent, according to a compilation by Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP public-opinion firm.

    But while turnout has increased, the composition of the vote has not significantly changed, exit polls have found.

    61% !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Some diehard repubs were claiming that Trump had gotten all these cross over votes. These are the true believers (dare I say “deadenders”???) who can’t believe that the repub base doesn’t thing Bush “kept us safe” that Iraq would have been fine save Obama withdrawing (yes, that was a Bush agreement), that the economy can be cured if only, only we would stop besmirching the rich, and lower taxes, and that the police and war are always right, but every other aspect of government is always wrong…

    So, Bernie and The Donald – who will have the more lasting effect on substantially changing the character of their respective parties?
    Ask me after the election – but it seems like REAL change is coming, whether for good or ill….

  40. H Richardson

    Frogs woke up in the pond here today, So peas go in tomorrow. Kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts too if there is time. Still a lot of fallen branches to pickup and making time to watch the rows of daffodils grow. The current book is “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo – an account of life death and hope in a Mumbai undercity. Gardening has special meaning this spring. Was a shared activity for years, but my wife died this winter.

    1. HotFlash

      My dear H, condolences on the loss of your life partner. One who has not experienced it cannot imagine the hole it leaves in one’s life. Every day. The plants help us through, I find, and this year I have a special project. My next door neighbour, just turned 6, is keen on gardening, her parents are clueless WRT plants, so I am giving her an early Easter Basket — they do Easter, I do Spring :) — with seed packets in it and some small garden tools. They have a sunny fence, so I am including scarlet runner beans, morning glories, cucumbers and pumpkin. Tomatoes and kale for a patch near the garage where the big chestnut came out. We won’t be able to plant the outdoor stuff until late May, but I have some peat pots and potting soil so she can get started now. I am so looking forward to gardening with her!

  41. Doug

    Plum, apricot and peach are in bloom. Apple not far behind. Cherries are not yet awake.

    Just finished The Robber Barons by Matthew Josephson (1932, new preface in 1964). An excellent summary of the untrammeled post-Civil War era – railroads, steel, coal, meat packing, and the (crooks) entrepreneurs that made it happen.

    Next – preparing a word list for the annual library foundation fund raiser spelling bee. Words gleaned from the Robber Barons: Skullduggery, calumnate, labyrinthine, disingenuousness, knavery, cozenage, cataclysmic, malefactors, halcyon, apothegm (“the public be damned” – Vanderbilt), and untrammeled. Gives you some idea of the book.

  42. Ulysses

    Reading the fascinating collection of true stories, We Will be Heard, edited by Bud & Ruth Schultz. Here’s Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael), as quoted in the book:

    “We were a unified force against local southern sheriffs with their guns and the Ku Klux Klan. But the FBI was able to split us on every conceivable issue with their channels to the press and their informants inside our organization.”

    1. Norb

      Our only protection against exploitation is to become self sufficient. This is going to take building a social network based on making the goods that sustain everyday life- food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and art.

      It centers around taking back ownership. The principle must be the creation of a fair and just community.
      Without that, divide and conquer techniques will always prevail.

      We must change ourselves and our way of life- not expend energy trying to change the greedy.

  43. ewmayer

    Sorry to go against the flowers-and-happy-puppies theme, but 2PMWC simply is not itself without a healthy dose of current events an politix. To that end a WaPo piece on Trump:

    Donald Trump’s baffling explanation for violence at his campaign rallies | WaPo

    Some good points in there, but the author makes very bold claims about “coded racial language” which he then jumps through some real rhetorical/logical hoops to support. AFAICT “big powerful dudes” doesn’t connote “Mexicans” in most people’s minds, so he must mean blacks, right? Except the auhor then notes “It is also true that some of the protesters assaulted at Trump rallies have been white people who don’t agree with Trump’s ideas.” Weak tea supporting those histrionics, IMO.

    Plus, consider the source — WaPo is arguably the nation’s 2nd-most-influential establishment propaganda organ, behind the NYT. They seem to have little problem with the “racially charged” practices of pink-misting hundreds of thousands on brown people all over the globe, nor in Hillary’s depiction (during Bill’s presidency) of black men as “superpredators”, nor in the colossal government-abetted wave of white-collar economic crime and violence which has led to a literal public-health crisis among the same demographics which are driving the Trump campaign. Because punching someone is way more evil than robbing him of his life’s savings and job prospects and driving him into an early grave.

    More on the establishment propaganda angle — this is the same oligarch-owned WaPo which was noted to have run 16 negative (at least in the headline sounding that way) article on Bernie Sanders in a 16-hour period following the Michigan Dem debate. They apparently got enough flak from their readers about this that they felt compelled to issue an official denial containing more logical contortions:

    Has The Washington Post been too hard on Bernie Sanders this week?

    It is important, of course, that a newspaper’s opinion and analysis pieces reflect a range of perspectives. Overall, I can confidently say The Post’s do. But if you’re going to take a one-day sample — on a day when Sanders was coming off a debate performance that was widely panned — you’re going to find a lot of opinion and analysis that reflects that consensus.

    Widely panned by whom? By the usual establishment propaganda organs, naturally.

    (To be fair, I also gave Bernie a hard time over not jumping all over Hillary for her oft-used “you were against the government help for the automakers in 2009” smear in the MI Dem debate, but I appear to have been in the minority around here on his overall debate performance there.)

  44. ewmayer

    !^&$#* mod-queue limbo … will check back in couple hours to see if post still stuck there.

  45. Cry Shop

    Been re-reading Arthur C. Clarke, a good line of nostalgia. His stories were optimistic about humanity’s ability to pull together, to recognize dangers like over population, climate change, and that we better move on because eventually both earth and the powers to be will get tired of us gumming up the chance for really intelligent life to evolve.

    Will spend some of the weekend going through pro-publica’s archives. This is a recent interesting report, not news – as we all know what Obama’s like on transparency, but interesting about the degree to which they hide everything as a reflex, even information that looks relatively harmless to Obama.

  46. dbk

    (1) Balcony garden (heat-tolerant flowers/greenery) will be majorly revamped when I return home next month.
    (2) Best thing that happened apart from all that Schadenfreude: not much.
    (3) Books: Finished rereading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (even better than I recalled) and an outlier work by Agatha Christie entitled Passenger to Frankfurt. Very strange – not especially recommended, but still. Trying to begin (again) the first volume of Leon Edel’s biography of Henry James (vol. 1 The Untried Years).

  47. Gio Bruno

    Thanks to all of today’s commenters. The personality, humanity, clarity and perspectives are all so enjoyable.

  48. different clue

    Gardening. . . I have a few beds of different sizes.

    Realistically, I will plant again seed from hickory cane corn I have been growing the last 8 years to slowly Michiganize it. If any of last years black lacinato tuscan dinosaur kale survive the winter and grow again, I will let them set seed for planting next year. I planted a bunch of garlic last pre-winter and will see which come up and how well. I will redig and repeat-moss and re-nutramineral-feed a long narrow foundation bed and replant the dug up fennel plants in it to grow yet again for the insects the flowers attract. In a little back bed I will see if any cosmos and rocky mountain bee plants come back up from seed (after having been deliberately seeded there 2 winters ago.)
    In a little front bed I will re-peat and re-feed the soil and reset some ornamentals back into it which are already there. And especially try to grow a random self-seeded goldenrod to hugest possible size for attracting most possible insects. In one little place I flung a bunch of somebody’s gifted grape-plum tomatos to see if they volunteer.
    In another little bed I will super peat and super nutrafeed the soil and then buy and plant a bunch of parsley plants. When they are big enough I will plant between them some buckwheat for short term soil improvement. In fall I will plant garlic bulbs between each parsley plant. This is an experiment to see if the parsley plants will regrow year two and try to flower. And if the garlic will come up between them. And if both can grow without holding eachother back.

    Finally, in last garden bed where I planted winter rye for soil improvement, I will let it grow till early summer, pull and mix it in and let decay a short while, then plant sordan grass there for huge green-matter production. Pull and mix that in in early September and then plant tillage radish. If super ambitions will plant winter rye between the tillage radish when first killchill kills the tillage radish. That should make soil very good there in two years. If stuff super-grows there after all that, I have a protocol for supercharging vegetable beds.

  49. ambrit

    Not particularly much gardening this year.
    Mammoth sunflowers along the back yard southern fence.
    Zucchini and yellow squash in ‘pods’ also there.
    Set out some ‘volunteer’ tomatoes.
    Dug in a half dozen Italian Parsley plants, next to last years flat leaved parsley plants.
    Set out some Sweet Basil plants.
    Planted a dozen old garlic cloves around the compost heap.
    Some onion sets along the back fence.

    The azaleas are out! Fuschia and mauve and pale pink blooms around the house.
    As poor abynormal mentioned the other day; POLLEN! (Hang in there aby, spring won’t last forever.)

    Just finished a book about the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest; “The Battle That Stopped Rome.” Archaeologists have finally found the site of this pivotal battle of antiquity.
    Also reading a tome from the early sixties; “The Outdoor Cooks Bible,” and a book of C. S. Lewis essays and shorts, “On Stories.”

  50. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    One of the novels I liked the most in the past few years was “Exiled from Almost Everywhere ” by Juan Goytisolo.
    It’s a dark humor novel set in an afterlife with Intenet connections to planet earth.
    I read reviews and free excerpts, which is enough to get a general idea of the relatively short novel.

  51. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    To Lambert and or Yves: there’s been a simple model to predict the Clinton vote in Dem Primaries up to Tuesday March 8. It’s based on only two factors: (a) whether the State is from the Civil War South Confederacy, and (b) the percentage of ethnic non-Whites in voting-age population.
    At: “Sabato’s Crystal Ball”, University of Virginia Center for Politics, http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/a-simple-model-for-predicting-hillary-clintons-vote-in-the-march-15-democratic-primaries

  52. Norb

    On gardening, I started my seeds indoors march 8th. Tomatoes-Roma, Big Boy, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Tumbler, Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear. All are starting to germinate nicely. Yellow and Green summer squash. Cilantro. Peppers- Red, Green, and Jalapeño.

    I’ve been growing Mammoth sunflowers the last couple of years- impressive height and just pleasing to look at. I’ve been planting them along a fence line and the squirrels have been taking them down late in the summer for the seeds. This year I’m going to try moving them to the center of the garden for protection. My dog chases the squirrels away if they venture too far into the yard. I’ll have to see if this is a good idea. I might draw the squirrels into the garden itself.

    Looking forward to sowing seeds directly in the garden this weekend.

    I’m currently reading “The Comeback” by John Ralston Saul. I find his view that Canada’s strength lies in its historical relationship to Aboriginal people compelling. I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking on my part- responding to what you want to hear, but Saul makes a lot of sense to me. His “A Fair Country-Telling the Truths About Canada” was also very good. He puts forth the view that we must work together to address the worlds problems and aboriginal peoples have something important to add.

    I find it heartening that good ideas don’t die- they enter a dormant state. As long as a few individuals carry on the spirit and principles of that truth, a day will come when those ideas can flourish in the world again. Fits the gardening theme pretty well I think.

  53. pdehaan

    Watched a very good Frank Zappa cover band in São Paulo, Brazil, called Let’s Zappelin
    A few day earlier another Zappa cover band called The Central Scrutinizer band performed in front of a decently sized public. Very happy Frank’s music is still alive in these parts and people dedicate themselves seriously to it.

  54. McKillop

    Initially, upon reading the comments of you people from the southern climes, and reading of your gardens and what is -already-growing< I was a tad pouty and envious. Where I live, north of Michigan, the early spring is raising my hopes. The snow is melting rapidly but there is still a good 40-45 centimetres through which I have to trudge. My snowshoe harnesses have broken and I'm too optimistic and cheap, both, to buy new ones at this late date. Usually, the snow begins to melt in April, late April. Now, the river that flows through my place is already rising (in two days, the ice melted.)
    In the last week of May I'll be able to pick fiddleheads from the patch I have across the river. Your comments reminded me that there are only two months left 'til the fronds begin their growth. Such amazing plants; within a week they grow from 'nothing' to a height of two feet so one must get them picked and eaten while the getting's good.
    I still have some frozen in my freezer so I'll treat my family and myself to poached eggs and fiidleheads for breakfast this morning. I'm glad that your comments were read for I rid myself of the envy.
    You've also reminded me of a friend, now passed away, with whom I used to collect maple sap in a 'native' way (he was an Alquonkian) and boiled in copper pots bartered years ago with the Hudson's Bay Co. On an open fire. The sap was used to make tea that was sweet and smoky.
    Hmmm. Envy and excited anticipation and melancholy and a touch of grief. Thanks.

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