2:00PM Water Cooler 8/7/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I must make this an open thread, since I misjudged the time I would need to spend on my earlier post. (Why do things always take longer?) And I must run errands now, so I can’t issue UPDATEs.

Some topics for your consideration:

1) How are your summer projects going? (Mine has been to entirely rethink the direction I want my garden to go, through an accidental conversation on the street).

2) What are you reading? (I’m reading, among other things, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. It’s terrific!)

3) Do you plan to visit your CongressCritter’s office during the Recess, and if so, what will you say to them? (I plan to visit Susan Collins’ office, congratulate her on nobbling TrumpCare, and push for Canadian-style single payer, just across the border from The County!)

Talk amongst yourselves!

* * *

And since there can never be enough cute pictures of cats, here’s another picture of the cat that seems to have adopted me, as cats will do:

What an intelligent creature! Storing up energy from the sun, with the object of gifting me with another small animal! (My garden truly is a habitat, with all that implies for what Disney unhelpfully calls “the circle of life”. So, for that matter, is my barn.)

* * *

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! 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. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Peter):

This is a euphorbia houseplant. Of course, this is no longer the Sixties, so most of us are not nearly as concerned with euphorbia as we once were.

* * *

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the Naked Capitalism fundraisers. Please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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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. Left in Wisconsin

    In keeping with the theme about mis-directed search, all of a sudden NC has disappeared from my frequently visited links on Safari, which is strange because it was lower left for I would guess several years until few days ago. Replaced by ESPN, which I visit probably less than 1/10 as much as NC.

    Others seeing same?

    1. divadab

      Yes NC has vanished from my Chrome browser’s most visited links when you open a new tab. On Firefox, however, still there. But Firefox is so slow now that I rarely use it.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Just checked, and for me, also Chrome, NC is there right after AT&T–my email.

        On my phone, Chrome gives me NC first, then Counterpunch, the Guardian, HuffPo, the Atlantic, the Intercept, NYT (which I usually look at in an incognito tab so that might reflect times I follow links there?), and Down With Tyranny (not sure why, I only recently started going there!)

        On my tablet which I got more recently I use Opera but it seems since I am not signed in it doesn’t show anything except whatever was generically on there when I got it. I usually go to bookmarks.

    2. PKMKII

      Yes, Safari on iPhone suddenly stopped listing it as a frequent visit, even though I look at NC more than any other site on it.

      1. Christopher Fay

        Yes. when I press command L to write in a link in the address bar Safari suggests my top 8 visited sites. Naked Capitalism is not included while NYT is still there.

    3. Angie Neer

      YES! Disappeared from Safari on iPhone, though it is by far my most frequently-visited site (one of very few sites I ever visit on the phone). Has PropOrNot gotten to Apple?

    4. JerryDenim

      Yes, not an anomaly. Same here. iPhone Safari browser, and I haven’t updated my OS or Safari recently either. The web-based suppression of the alt-left is getting more blatant by the day. Thankfully ESPN hasn’t appeared as a frequently visited site in its place. (yet) Next “nakedcapitalism.com” will be purged/banned from my phone’s predictive text auto complete memory. What comes after that I’m scared to see… Disappearing bookmarks? “This site has been blocked for your safety” messages?

      1. clarky90

        The “Neo-Iron Curtain” is descending.

        Congress voted 419 to 3 (Dems and Repubs, Yikes!) to impose sanctions on Russia-Russia-Russia, in spite of President Trump running and winning the election (The election!) on “no war” and “working with Russia”.

        This and the refusal of BOTH sides (Repubs and Dems) to enact (1) good, (2) affordable, (3) universally available health Care. Reading comments on the internet, I have never encountered a poster who was against Good Health Care. Never ever. Left, Right, Commie, Nazi, Atheist, New Age, Born Again, people living in ticky-tacky houses…..Everybody. At least for trauma and emergency…

        The first thing that the Bolsheviks did in the early days
        of their violent, Take-Over, was destroy the Free Press. Only the Party Line was acceptable. (And, The Party Line changed moment to moment, according to the whim of Lenin or Stalin. Deviate from the Party Line and face instant death or a Concentration Camp.)

        When the Bolsheviks shut down the free press, they censored everybody. Moderates, Left, Right, Monarchists, Anarchists, Mensheviks, Socialists, Christians…….

        Look forward to a Internet World of only CNN, WaPo, NYT and an infinite number of celebrity gossip sites……

        Happy Trails to You, my friends, until we meet again. Until we meet again……

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > alt-left

        Alt-left is a Clintonite construct; the argument is that alt-left and alt-right are fundamentally alike and both equally noxious, both being equally racist, sexist, etc.

    5. RUKidding

      Same here. I thought it was just some butter fingers thing I did.

      Thanks for letting us know it’s not just meeeeee (for once).

      1. Ebr

        Yes, it happened to me too. Safari on iOS 10 and MacBook Air. Autocomplete still works though.

    6. GeophRian

      Same here. But for some reason Zero Hedge is still there even though I only usually visit that through links from NC.

      TruthDig, Alternet, and even Salon remain but Thruth Out and The Intercept aren’t there anymore either.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        I didn’t think NC ever linked to ZH!!! Never knew why exactly but it seemed like there was some kind of negative force-field around it, cuz whenever anyone (Haygood, mostly) referred to it the vibe was kinda like it’s unmentionable in polite company–“the Z site”

        1. Yves Smith

          We don’t because they don’t care at all about accuracy. About 40% of what they post is wrong in material to significant ways, and what they say about the Fed and deficits is almost always wrong. We do not want to lead readers to think they are a reliable source of information. They also regularly publish copyrighted material without having gotten authorization and get away with that because their servers are in Sweden. It’s too bad, because they have access to a Bloomberg terminal and sometimes do interesting analytics.

          1. GeophRian

            Thanks for the info. Odd that they would still show as a frequently visited site on my Safari iPhone browser when I’ve only been there a couple times yet NC doesn’t show and yet is a regular visit for me.

            1. Procopius

              I didn’t realize Chrome had a frequently visited thingy. I quit using it a long time ago — I think on Firefox? Don’t remember. Anyway, NC is usually always open on my browser because I never get caught up. If I do get caught up and close it it’s the top bookmark in my Economics blogs section.

          2. sierra7

            Zerohedge has gotten way out there for like you say, “accuracy”…..I view it almost every day early for “entertainment” and to see how far out they can go. Their commenters are some of the most foul mouthed on the internet……..

        1. Laughingsong

          I disabled Safari through restrictions on my iPad, I just use Firefox. I only use bookmarks and the only political book mark is NC, because it’s a great leaping-off point, since of course one link leads to another and another . . . . Don’t need anything else, so I’ve turned off suggestions and all other “helpful” stuff .. And clear my history every time. Screw ’em.

    7. justanotherprogressive

      Yes. Naked Capitalism is missing on my Safari links too. I don’t use Safari that much, so I tried coming here with Safari a few times to see if it would put it in my favorites, but nope!

      I guess I’ll just keep using Firefox…….

      Odd! I went to WSJ once and yep, it showed up in my favorites!!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wait, would that mean that tech companies could analyze what their uses have for links on their browsers and on that basis, claim that NC is not a popular site as it does not appear on any links on user’s browsers anymore? A coupla months ago when I went to the RT site here in Oz it produced nothing. It was like it did not exist anymore. I do not know if it was a DNS attack on it or not but I wonder now if this was not preview of what could happen to sites that appeared on that crappy PropOrNot list down the track.

        1. flora

          That’s an interesting point. Normally I’d say ditch a browser that behaves this way.

          However, if people need Safari they can manually add NC back to the favorites by:
          Manually browsing to NC. then
          In the Safari menu bar click ‘ Bookmarks -> Add Bookmark’
          In the Bookmark window that opens, make sure the “Add this page to: ” field says “Favorites Bar”. (Use the drop down arrow to select “Favorites Bar” if necessary.) Now NC has been manually re-added to the Favorites list.

          1. Jonhoops

            Also if you open to the NC homepage drag the tab to the far left and it will create an iconic tab in the tab bar. This will remain as a quick link.

    8. Hobbs

      I’ll join the chorus. My quick link has disappeared! If I were conspiracy-minded, I might say . . . But nah, could never happen. Right?

    9. Zzzz Andrew

      Same on Safari on iphone … I only ever had two frequently-visited sites, NakedCaptialism and Languagehat, and now NC is gone. That’s messed up.

      Been using the Vivaldi browser on my laptop since someone suggested it in Friday’s Water Cooler comments, and NC is still front and center of my ‘speed dial’ links there (equivalent of the frequently-visited sites dashboard). So that’s another thumbs up for Vivaldi. It’s gorgeous, too.

      Apple saw huge backlash last year for “reaching into customers’ iphones” and automatically downloading U2’s Songs of Innocence album. I don’t expect they’ll attract anything like the same kind of notice for this stunt, but if anyone gets wind of a similar wave of criticism, it would be useful to hear about it here.

    10. PeonInChief

      Yes, it’s disappeared from Safari on my phone, as has Beat the Press (Dean Baker’s blog).

    11. Lambert Strether Post author

      > NC disappearing from frequently visited links

      To summarize, am I right in thinking that this only happens:

      1) With corporate browers (Safari, Chrome, Chrome variants) and not otherwise, e.g. not with FireFox?

      2) After an upgrade?

      I confess I’m having a hard time understanding this for several reasons:

      1) I’ve avoided upgrading iOS recently, so if it’s going to happen, I haven’t seen it.

      2) I do my writing on OS X, and there I don’t use Favorites at all (though I do use autocomplete)

      Favorites seems like a user Preferences thing. Sometimes preferences get blown away in an update. Can we be sure that’s not what’s happening here? After all, “the most persistent principles of the universe [are] accident and error”….

      1. Zzzz Andrew

        Hi Lambert,

        Came back to reread this conversation because I had some of the same questions. By way of answering yours, here’s what I’ve got so far:

        a) The square icons on the “main” view of Safari are clearly labeled as “Favorites” on the ipad, and less obviously (you need to open a sub-view, the one with the open codex icon, to see this classification) as “Favorites” on the iphone. Just below this unlabeled Favorites section on the iphone is a second section, explicitly labeled “FREQUENTLY VISITED”, with more icons. (I don’t know if the ipad has something analogous, we have an old one that I don’t use and I don’t see such a section there. I had to double-check all this stuff … I own an iphone but am very far from being a power user, mainly because I’m glued to a desk- or laptop about 14 hours a day and much prefer a real screen and keyboard. I really just use the phone browser for reading when I have a few minutes to kill, which isn’t often.)

        b) In reading through the results of a few Twitter searches today, I saw a lot of people expressing amusement/embarrassment about the presence of porn site icons in their “Frequently Visited” view. So I thought, it’s *possible* this is about the “naked” in naked capitalism … let me go back, reread the comment thread, see whether that’s possible.

        c) On rereading the thread, I note that only two commenters, divadab and ChiGal, mentioned Chrome: divadab saw a link to NC disappear, ChiGal found it was still there. Maybe not enough data to support a conclusion about Chrome yet.

        d) On Safari, on the other hand, we have lots of commenters clearly reporting that their NC links have vanished, while other links remain (Christopher Fay clarifies that this affects address bar suggestion as well). Further, GeophRian reports that TruthOut and the Intercept links have vanished with it; PeonInChief reports the same of Beat The Press. Safari certainly seems to be implicated, and it does seem that leftish sites with non-possibly-porn-related-names are also affected.

        e) Firefox and Vivaldi are reported to be unaffected but the fact that the OSes or usage patterns (e.g. Laughingsong’s bookmarks) in question are different makes this possibly not dispositive.

        f) It so happens that I switched physical phones just a couple of weeks ago, and still have the old iphone (running 10.3.2) lying around switched off. So tonight I switched it back on to see what I have in my Safari default view. Lo and behold, there is my friendly orange NC icon, frequently visited as it ever was! while it has definitely disappeared from my new phone (running 10.3.3). I knew that I only ever had two non-default icons in this view: Languagehat (a language blog) and NC. But now, going back to the old phone, I see that there was in fact a difference between those two: Languagehat was marked as a Favorite, while NC was a perpetual Frequently Visited site.

        g) My next test was to upgrade the old iphone from 10.3.2 to 10.3.3 to see what would happen. Surprisingly, in view of all the above, the NC Frequently Visited icon was still there after the upgrade.

        So, if I restrict myself to speaking of my own experience only, I think a few explanations are still possible:

        It may be that the counter that defines “frequently visited” got reset to zero when I moved to the new phone, and I just haven’t used it enough to bump NC up to icon status yet. I doubt that this is the case … everything else ported over, even the open browser tabs. But it could be.

        It may be that if I wait more than ten minutes after the upgrade to 10.3.3, updated Safari will run a periodic purge job and the NC icon will disappear from the frequently visited links. I will report back here if that’s what happens.

        It may even be that there was a cleanup action that caused the NC icon to be removed on my new phone, but that this was directed specifically at sites with offending names, in an attempt to help those embarrassed by front-row evidence of a salacious browsing history. This ignores the testimony of GeophRian and PeonInChief above, which I think is definitely worthy of closer investigation. Unfortunately my lack of links to other leftish sites doesn’t provide any cases to test for that.

        What I can definitively tell you is that I didn’t do anything active to remove the icon, and that the upgrade from 10.3.2 to 10.3.3 of a lately dormant but now reawakened iphone didn’t remove it either.

        Hope all of that is helpful. Will come back with more if I find out anything interesting.

  2. timotheus

    Reading several works from the nostalgia-for-the-dual-monarchy Austrians, including Zweig, Roth (Radetzky, The Emperor’s Tomb), and eventually A Man without Qualities. (Does “without” require a capital despite being a preposition?) Also Seghers (Transit) though not Austrian. Collapse is such a soothing theme.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Also reading Roth here: just yesterday finished the excellent Radetsky and re-reading What I Saw (Weimar feuilletons). Next up The Emperor’s Tomb and Report from a Parisian Paradise.
      I recommend his letters, too, which include many btwn Roth and Zweig.
      Concurrently, on a Sinclair Lewis kick. Having read all the great ones, am now just reading all of them and recently enjoyed the relatively minor (but still good) Bethel Merriday and Free Air.
      Coincidentally, I noticed Dorothy Thompson (married to SL for a few years) translated Roth.
      Both Roth and Lewis, amazingly prescient and fresh writers.

    2. hreik

      Also recently finished Radetzky, and then Job and The Wandering Jew, all J. Roth. Musil is very dense. Good luck.

    3. etnograf

      The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig, may be one of my favorite books and I’m tempted to re-read it again now. The portrait he paints of the world before WWI and the shock of living through the geopolitical and social transformation that followed continues to be compelling and relevant.

    4. GeophRian

      Found a book from 1853 that is a collection of religious sermons for masters to teach their slaves. It’s a fascinating read for the very real fact that this book was likely used by an actual slave owner, and because all the sermons are about all men being sinners and our toil is a penance for those sins with the reward being salvation. A very obvious use of religious indoctrination as a means of oppression and manipulation but also interesting how similar the wording and tactics are to more recent calls for “shared sacrifice” to appease the “job creators” in the hopes of salvation through trickle down economics. And, it’s intriguing to read the early formation of the American black church as described in the intentional approach to the sermons. Many of the techniques/stylistic approaches developed at the time and used in this book for the sermons are still prevalent in the modern black churches I’ve spent time in.

      Gotta love history.

      The book is titled: “Plantation Sermons, or Plain and Familiar Discourses for the Instruction of the Unlearned” by Rev. A. F. Dickson (of Charleston, SC)

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Does “without” require a capital despite being a preposition?

      This seems, unlike the Oxford Comma, to be a religious issue. “What to Capitalize in a Title”:

      According to the Chicago Manual of Style (8.157), a long preposition, such as between, should be written in lowercase. However, some style guides allow for all words that are longer than five letters to be capitalized (such as in the style guide of the Associated Press).

      “The Internet” is in doubt on this matter.

      Personally, in this case, I would invoke the “Looks Funny” rule. I think “A Man without Qualities” looks funny, and “A Man Without Qualities” does not. So I’m applying for the position of Editor of the Internet tomorrow.

      1. kgc

        For lawyers, the Bluebook mostly agrees with you, though with far more specificity. Rule 8 says: “Capitalize words in a heading or title, including the initial word and any word that immediately follows a colon. Do not capitalize articles, conjunctions, or prepositions when they are four or fewer letters, unless they begin the heading or title, or immediately follow a colon.”

        In my day (I was on the Yale LJ in a year when it was our turn to update the BB), the BB was 190 pages and about 4″ x 6″. The 19th edition of 2010 is 511 pages (plus quick references inside the front and back covers) and 5″ x 8-1/2″. Don’t law students have something else to do?

  3. Kokuanani

    I’m reading Janesville by Amy Goldstein, about Janesville, WI, home of Rep. Paul Ryan. It tells the history of the town [and area’s] destruction because of General Motors’ closing of its plant there. [I’m familiar with Janesville & Wisconsin in general because I used to work for a Congressman in the neighboring 7th District.]

    Although I’m only @ p. 60, dealing with plant’s imminent closure, I find it ironic that at that time Ryan was racing around Washington looking for Federal funds to help the district. Rather at odds with his general budget hawkishness and penny-pinching ways.

    Also good on this subject is Glass House : the 1% economy and the shattering of the all-American town by Brian Alexander.

    Prior to this I was on a bender reading about the Amazon, prompted by The Lost City of Z by David Grann — book is much better than the movie. Additional info gleaned from The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes and John Hemming’s Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon.

    Awaiting me is Grann’s latest book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Just discovered Grann & love him as a writer.

    1. GF

      Finished “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” earlier this summer. Excellent book with some good history of how the FBI began and became the organization they are today.

      Also read “What the Health” after watching the documentary on Netflix. So impressed by the facts presented in the book that my wife and I became vegans after reading it. The arguments are irrefutable.

      Am readin “Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West” now by Christopher Knowlton. An excellent history of the rise of big cattle/meat and open range ranching that took place after the Civil War into the early 1900’s. Interesting facts brought out include the cattle/meat industry creating the template that is the model for current corporate business structure and the European elites investing and loosing their shirts in the industry – an great example of a burst commodity bubble.

      1. Rojo

        The “facts” in “What the Health” are very refutable.

        Every single doctor he talks to is a vegan. Which would be fine, but the film never makes that clear.

        I have nothing against Vegans. I actually applaud it. But that movie was dishonest. It reminded me of those old John Stoessel segments on 20/20 where he’d pose as some sort of neutral truth-seeker but would learn in the course of his “investigation” that markets are great and every intervention by the government was doomed to failure.

        Meat causes diabetes. Please.

        1. GF

          The movie leaves out most of the clinical trial data detailed in the book. Movies just can’t present large volumes of empirical data and keep an audience engaged. The evidence the book presents is thoroughly documented often describing very large longitudinal studies, some with several hundred thousand participants over decades. The authors never state that meat causes diabetes by itself – it’s just a main contributor along with many other bad lifestyle factors. Please read the book then make up your mind. It is available in most libraries.

          1. rojo

            There are no “irrefutable” health studies. In fact a lot of health researchers are calling to scrap food diary studies as all but useless.

            The fact that the movie drove you to read the book must mean you found the film persuasive. But that film only preaches to the converted. That’s what cherry-picking stats and drawing up conspiracies do. See Russia-gate.

            Animal-rights people seem to think the only way to secure a better life for animals is through giving up animal produces, and the only way to do that is to convince people that meat is like cigarettes.

            That’s too bad. While their waiting for everyone to swear off butter and eggs, they could be working with the rest of us to, you know, actually improve the lives of farmed animals.

  4. JohnnyGL

    For those who are interested in the Sen. Warren town hall in Revere, MA.

    Here’s the full video:


    For those who want the abridged version, here’s my stab:

    Opening statement involved a nice anecdote about hearing aides becoming available over the counter, and a lot of celebration about defending the ACA.

    Q1) question about education and LGBT and minority resources, Warren gives personal anecdote and talks about being against DeVos and cutting interest rates on student loans, nothing more ambitious than that. Strong rhetoric about education, including higher education.

    Q2) Trump-Russia question (with a Syria kicker). Warren didn’t minimize or refute the standard Dem narrative, she embraced it.

    Q3) someone who appears to be a pro-palestinian activist asked about proposed law banning BDS. Warren doesn’t like BDS, but doesn’t like banning it either.

    Q4) question about drug prices, warren suggests importing from Canada, has others in senate on board. Questioner specifically asked about prosecuting drug execs regarding price gouging, Warren seems somewhat supportive of that. She mentions Shekreli (sp?) and that he was nabbed on insider trading, not price gouging.

    Q5) questioner celebrating some decent stats in the economy. Warren, admirably, doesn’t take the bait and says economy isn’t helping ordinary people, gives lengthy story in support.

    Q6) questioner says it’s hard to get opiods, Warren talks about bad behavior of drug companies, offers to try to help advocate for the questioner.

    Q7) just after the 1hr mark, give gives story about buying booze, cigars in Montreal, says he doesn’t mind paying high prices for these things because “everyone’s covered” on health care. Warren seems to like the story, doesn’t say much, though.

    As an aside, I wish the questioner knew that there was an additional layer of Quebec-specific taxes that he’s paying (accounting for the high prices) and that he’s also funding nearly-free college education and nearly-free day care, above and beyond health care for everyone which Canada already does for the whole country.

    Q8) “Do you support single-payer?” Warren says “we’ve gotta get there.” But seems to want to do drug price deal first.

    Q9) asked about breakdown of unions. Warren gives a strong defense of unions as a mechanism to help middle class.

    Q10) “help elderly and please run in 2020”. Warren wants to “expand and protect” Medicare and Social Security and senior housing. Warren also says “let’s focus on the fights ahead of us right now”. News guy doubles down on the 2020 question…I think it’s worth asking if ‘kill me now’ should apply. They also ask about abortion and Russia…specifically about firing Mueller, because you can never get enough Russia….

    if you want to see a gap between media concerns and constituent concerns, those last two minutes of “2020 and Russia” as compared to the list of above questions-and-answers.

    It’s worth noting that 4/10 of the above questions touch health care in some way.

    In looking for the video/transcript I noticed the news coverage, local or non, was all about a yes/no around 2020 speculation, little else from the town hall was discussed.

    1. Praedor

      Hearing aids over the counter? Meh. Still cost an arm and a leg. My mother needs one but cannot afford one and insurance never covers that stuff. It’s “non-essential” that people be able to hear.

      1. reslez

        Have you looked into personal sound amplifier devices? They’re technically not hearing aids but they cost a few hundred dollars (instead of thousands) and you buy them without a prescription. I read an article here about them. That’s probably the route I’d go if my hearing worsened further.

        1. Arizona Slim

          My father seldom wore his hearing aid. It didn’t look to be that comfortable, and he said he still missed a lot of what other people were saying.

          If ever there were a need for disruptive technology — along with lower costs — the hearing aid industry is it.

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes, apparently even the pricey ones don’t discriminate in favor of “closer” sounds, so that if you are in space where there are several conversations going, all you hear is din and it is extremely hard to pick out the voice of the people you want to hear.

            Someone once called me via his iPad and the sound rendering seemed an awful lot like the way people with hearing aids describe trying to listen to conversations in a crowded restaurant. It was extremely taxing trying to isolate his voice. I had to punt after only a few minutes.

        2. Ned

          It’s not like there’s a stigma to wearing an old fashioned wire to speaker in your ear….every 20 something I know is walking around with ear buds in place. Thanks for the great suggestion.

          Now here’s one for you…get a chain or a string for your readers. It’ll save you hours of frustration per month looking for your glasses.

  5. jo6pac

    The garden sucks only have 3 tomatoes plants with no tomato’s.
    Firewood in laying the driveway waiting to be split and stacked.

    I’m busy changing outside lighting to come on when they see motion and I have one more to do tomorrow I hope. Then sadly add motion detecting cameras. The rural neighborhood is changing for some reason. People wondering around in the yard for no reason and the local sheriff is a long ways away and at lest their friendly. They came by the other night at 12:30am looking to find one my country neighbors who has dementia and I hope it ended well. Then later that same night there was 6 sheriff cars 1 sheriffs van and 2 unmarked cars parked in the road 100ft from my house and I have no idea what they were doing besides the road was closed to traffic so it was serious.

    The next day they were still looking for my neighbor only using a helicopter. I would move but the rent is so cheap do to wonderful landlords I can’t live anywhere near here in my part of Calli

    Oh well it could be worse and now it’s time for a nap;-)

    1. Lee

      Is a dog feasible? I have two. Will never own just again because they get too lonely. We used to have a problem with backyard bicycle thieves. My Airedale got a piece of one some years ago. No problems since then.

      1. jo6pac

        No, I can’t afford them as much as I like dogs and you should always have 2 if they live outside. This is a ranch house I rent and there are no fences around the house I live in. If I had the money I would have installed fences by now. That is what my neighbor going to do.

  6. cocomaan

    1) I spent a few hours making a picnic table from scratch. It’s under a black gum tree in our yard and provides a great place to sit, read, and enjoy the views from the ground, especially on summer days when the deck is blazing hot.

  7. David Carl Grimes

    As part of my summer reading, I read Bernanke’s “A Courage to Act”. One thing that struck me throughout the book was that he always used the “financial markets” as a barometer to gauge the health of the economy. Period. True they did cite employment numbers. But the Fed always gauged the effectiveness of their actions by the market’s reaction to them. There was not much emphasis on improving the long term health of the economy or increasing the employment to population ratio or increasing the median household income. It seems like the entire Fed swallowed the line that “What’s good for Wall Street is good for Main Street”. And Wall Street always comes first before Main Street. No question about it.

    It was hard to go through, especially after reading a lot of NC posts on the very same topic beforehand.

  8. JohnnyGL

    Regarding this:
    1) How are your summer projects going? (Mine has been to entirely rethink the direction I want my garden to go, through an accidental conversation on the street).

    Please elaborate at some point, as I’ve recently moved and I need to start a garden from scratch at a new house and my plans/ideas are very much in flux. I’m open to new ideas. This goes for other commenters, too.

    1. cocomaan

      I found that I had to really get an understanding of where the light fell in my yard for a year before we did a lot of the major plantings.

      But a great book for permaculture gardening is The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem by Shien. It’s got some great tips.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Much appreciated, I’ve still got “Gaia’s Garden” by Hemenway (big fan) and just picked up Eric Toensmeier’s book, too.

        I’ll have to check that one out, too.

      2. Hana M

        “I found that I had to really get an understanding of where the light fell in my yard for a year before we did a lot of the major plantings.”

        That is extremely good advice, cocomaan. Someone gave me the same advice on my new garden–it’s very true and very helpful to be patient and not try for instant effects. Also think of the garden from the inside as well as the outside. Are there windows that would benefit from a tree for shade or visual interest? Are there views that give you a bit too much of the next door neighbors or where noise from the street could be blocked with plantings? Are there rooms that get too much sun in the summer, or too little light in the winter? Can you pick up and highlight any of the colors or patterns on the interior with a succession of blooms in the garden? Take dated notes!

        And in the meantime, to add interest, try annuals and container gardening.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        That is very good advice. It’s difficult to tell exactly how much sun or shade a given plant really likes and I find I’m often moving them around to accommodate their needs. I had some volunteer iris that came with the house that had never blossomed until we tore down a large deck that had been shading them and built a new smaller one – they blossomed this year for the first time once they got a little more light.

        I also tried new guinea impatiens for the first time this year to give a little color around my clothesline as it’s mostly in the shade which they like. I find they like complete shade – the sun only hits some of them for maybe 2-3 hours in the morning and is gone well before the hottest part of the day however every day when I get home they are shriveled and look dead if the sun has hit them at all. I douse them when I get home and they perk back up in a couple hours good as new, not just the leaves but the shriveled petals too. I can’t imagine they really enjoy this torture so next year I’ll have to find somewhere a little shadier.

        1. Cocomaan

          You guys get it!

          Now, keep in mind that we did not follow this advice. Raspberries ended up in one area that might have been good for a garden. But we ended up colonizing and cross-colonizing and otherwise messing around. It’s the joy of gardening.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > get an understanding of where the light fell in my yard

        That’s absolutely true. It can’t hurt to get a sense of the prevailing wind, either, as well as the drainage patterns for your patch of land (where water runs, where it pools, where it isn’t, etc.)

    2. Clive

      As summer draws inexorably to a close, I’ve been occupying my free time in the garden as well. A tale of two halves, as we say here.

      1) Like Lambert’s unexpected replan, I also have been doing something I’d not intended but I’m getting such a sense of satisfaction out of doing it — reducing substantially or preferably eradicating the swathes (? or sheets?) of English ivy which has been obscuring some beautiful but previously hidden architectural features, such as old clay brick pillars which were used to structure the tennis court which my garden used to be before the huge Edwardian villa and its grounds which were carved up to make the subdivision where my house sits was. Hacking it all back is very therapeutic.

      2) Contrasting to the above, going through a period of dither and prevarication as to what to do for the best to replace the apricot tree I had which died. I am so tempted to buy a replacement and try polecat’s nematode cure for the blight which it succumbed to. But I’m also tempted to change it to something which is more climatically suited such as a pear tree. Decisions, decisions…

      1. Rhondda

        I searched NC for “nematode” and I’m not finding any comments by polecat. Do you have a link or could you (or polecat) repost? I have a 100+ year old maple that is our primary south-side shade tree that I am trying to save from both verticillium wilt and another type of fungus unknown (may be mostly a piggy-backer on the verticillium wilt). Hoping that perhaps polecat’s “nematode cure” might help. If anyone has any recommendations, I will happily receive them. I’ve already lost one of the three big “stems” ;-(.

    3. mitzimuffin

      First have your soil tested at a local agricultural extension (Rutgers in NJ is my go to). When I first started my garden from scratch, there were no worms, bugs, anything; mostly clay…dead soil. I added what Rutgers told me to, and by the next Spring had a beginning garden w/worms, bugs in the soil, and butterflies feasting on flowers. It’s painful to wait, but this is THE important first step: get your soil in good shape. Meanwhile, use some potted annuals to spruce up the place while you’re waiting. Good luck and happy planting.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I agree on the soil tests!

        I also believe that maintaining soil structure is important, so don’t use rototillers, don’t even walk on your beds (except perhaps lightly in bare feet), don’t ever drive or park on them!

    4. Randy

      Start small to get an idea of how much care and upkeep you want to invest. You don’t want to go big and find out it is just too much work. You can always go bigger later.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That is very sound advice. I’ve seen several big gardens in my small town converted back to lawns. Bad!

        But start small and keep expanding ’til you are at your limit, and then you get a stable, long-lived system (especially if you have the philosophy of doing as little work as possible).

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Please elaborate at some point, as I’ve recently moved and I need to start a garden

      When I originally started gardening, I grew a small tomato patch in a portion of the front lawn because that is what my father had done.

      The tomatoes were good, and I expanded them, and discovered some permaculture people here and started sheet mulching. This was also in the midst of the Crash, and I had ended up having virtually no money (along with a lot of other people) and so ensuring my supply of food became very important to me (though not so important that I mastered the arts of pickling, for example).

      Some things happened to move me away from vegetables:

      1) I overproduced and ended up giving a lot away. That’s nice, but is it really the best use of my time?

      2) As the economy rebounded and I got more work, I cut corners and brought in flats, instead of growing everything from seed. As a result, I got squash bugs that I’ve never been able to get rid of.

      3) As it turned out, the real function of my garden is to be the area where I sit and work on my laptop. Really!

      4) A secondary function is as a photographic subject.

      6) Both functions combine to make beauty more important than nutrition (with beauty including birds*, pollinators, the cat killing voles…)

      This year I got started late, and as a result I have ended up with what a neighbor called a “habitat” rather than a garden. I am going to run with that insight, and abandon the whole concept of beds and vegetables entirely (except for a peripheral area with good sun). I will convert the garden area to something involving more trees, lots more wildflowers, and maybe a water feature, and think it through in three or even four dimensions as a canopy, as opposed to beds outlined on a two-dimensional sheet.

      So the Fedco tree sale for me, next year!

      * “Birds love a mess,” as some helpful person once commented to me, and I have certainly succeeded in creating one!

      UPDATE Adding, if, at the very beginning, I had thought of perennials and planted some, they would be grown or at least flourishing by now! So the moral for a beginning gardener would be to think of perennials at the very beginning, and not merely of annuals, because tomatoes are easy to grow, e.g.

  9. Lee

    Our principal garden features are tomatoes, and sunflowers, which are attracting a lot of attention from neighborhood strollers; we’ve promised seeds to many. A number of the latter are the Teddy Bear variety, which I have not seen before. Will send photo to plantidote.

    I’m reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Interestingly, as it is with Naked Capitalism, the introduction of plants and animals in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have profoundly salutary effects. As a former union rep for nursing home workers back in the 70s, I am pleased to learn that there is a quiet revolution going on in this field.

    Dr. Gawande, a surgeon and himself guilty of the many of the faults he now finds with the medical profession in the treatment of the elderly and dying, provides a convincing combination of data and illustrative anecdotes. Essentially, we spend too much effort and money on dubious and drastic end of life treatments that not only destroy quality of life and personal dignity but in fact shorten length of life as compared to hospice for the terminally ill.

      1. freedeomny

        Just finished Being Mortal. Should be required reading for all in the medical field….

  10. Tertium Squid

    Read at Home and in War, a forgotten 19th century memoir by a Russian aristocrat/soldier by the name of Alexi Vereshchagin, who is the brother of famous war artist Vasily Vereshchagin.

    The book is fascinating. The author grew up the son of an aristocrat landlord at the end of feudalism in Russia, and gives a child’s-eye-view of the many odd social dynamics of manorial life. He then gives a student’s eye view of military training, and then a staff-officer’s eye view of war in the Russo-Turkic War, first in the Balkans and then in Asia. He does not come across as having a point of view to advocate about politics or culture.

    You can get it via interlibrary loan, and you’ll be glad you did. Here’s a positive review from 1888.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I decided I wanted to learn more about China.

      Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, good exposition of the Taiping Rebellion (killed +/- 30 million right around the time of the US Civil War)

      Generalissimo about Chiang Kai-Shek, highly recommended

      Street of Eternal Happiness the author goes shop-by-shop down one street in Shanghai and gets all of the stories and history, amusing and interesting

      Mao: The Real Story very thorough. Here’s what Mao said about his people (which unfortunately I thought could apply to ‘Murkans too):

      “The danger does not result from military weakness or inadequate finances, nor is it the danger of being split up into many small fragments by domestic chaos. The real danger lies in the total emptiness and rottenness of the mental universe of the entire Chinese people”. Damn.

  11. Hana M

    Love that cat! And re earlier discussions there is no way that’s a ‘feral’ cat. She (?) has been (and maybe still is) a pet and probably at least a part-time indoor cat skilled in the arts of manipulating humans. Your earlier photo had her doing the classic pleading baby cat look. And now you get the flirtatious curvy stretch maneuver! With her pretty white belly showing no less–such a trusting, alluring gesture! She’s going to win you over no matter how many dead voles she has to sacrifice on the altar of your front porch.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > no matter how many dead voles she has to sacrifice on the altar of your front porch.

      The cat doesn’t leave gifts on my front porch; my desk is in my garden, and she (?) leaves them under my desk!!

      “Why are those flies here? Oh….”

  12. reslez

    That cat is amazing! And Lambert’s posts have been on fire lately. Very topical. I’m happy to have the posts instead of Water Cooler, though I like Water Cooler a lot too.

    1) Summer projects are all completed. We did a kitchen remodel, ended up tiling the downstairs bathroom floor, painted the living room, and replaced the fence around the rose garden. All that remains is to rehang some paintings. The kitchen was DIY except for the countertop install. It seems like some ladies get excited about shiny new countertops, but for me it was all about the sink. Our old kitchen sink was made of acrylic, cracked and stained. And none of the cabinet doors had handles or knobs. You had to pry the drawers open! The kitchen is so much nicer now. Though I rather disliked the narcissism inherent in picking out paint colors and backsplashes. “Which pattern of porcelain tile defines me as a person?” is the most consumerist question I’ve ever had to ask myself. Welcome to homeownership!

    2) Not reading much at the moment (too busy writing), though I ended up rewatching every season of Game of Thrones. So addicted to that show. Now that they’ve gotten past the books the plot actually seems to be moving.

    1. Rhondda

      “…Game of Thrones. So addicted to that show. Now that they’ve gotten past the books the plot actually seems to be moving.”

      I admit to being a GoT addict. This season isn’t just moving, it’s galloping. Don’t turn your head for a moment or you’ll miss something key.

  13. Huey Long

    I’m currently reading John Le Carre’s The Honourable School Boy at the moment.

    What can I say, I’m a sucker for George Smiley.

    1. Mike

      if you really want LeCarré in his depressed mood, read “Absolute Friends”, one of his darker books.

    2. Micky9finger

      Agree about George Smiley. An old man who defeats the moles and bureaucratic bastards and all he does is ask questions.
      Alex Guiness plays Smiley really well in a bbc series. There is also another bbc series by a different actor which is good too.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the Smiley books are absolutely terrific. And if you want insight into the intelligence community, it’s hard to find a better source (since LeCarre was once a spook). Granted, The Circus and the CIA are not the same instittutionally, which is one of the themes of Schoolboy, but I believe the mentality of the operatives, especially the field operatives, must be more or less the same.

      Frank Herbert, Dune:

      A thing to note about any espionage and/or counter-espionage school is the similar basic reaction pattern of all its graduates. Any enclosed discipline sets its stamp, its pattern, upon its students. That pattern is susceptible to analysis and prediction. “Now, motivational patterns are going to be similar among all espionage agents. That is to say: there will be certain types of motivation that are similar despite differing schools or opposed aims. You will study first how to separate this element for your analysis – in the beginning, through interrogation patterns that betray the inner orientation of the interrogators; secondly, by close observation of language-thought orientation of those under analysis. You will find it fairly simple to determine the root languages of your subjects, of course, both through voice inflection and speech pattern.”

      Now, sitting at table with her son and her Duke and their guests, hearing that Guild Bank representative, Jessica felt a chill of realization: the man was a Harkonnen agent. He had the Giedi Prime speech pattern – subtly masked, but exposed to her trained awareness as though he had announced himself.

      A similar “root language” to this from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (first paragraph):

  14. Jim A.

    I’m currently reading the science fiction novel Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald. In the same way Haldeman’s “Forever War” was a response to the militarism of Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers,” it feels like McDonald has written a response the the libertarian paradise that Heinlein wrote about in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

    1. Synoia

      Thanks. At one time I liked Heinlein, but now do not. The incest incident with Lazarus Long and his mother was the tipping point for me.

      1. Jim A.

        Oh I still like Heinlein…But not everything that he’s written and even the stories that I still like, such as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress deserve and can expect to have their politics re-examined. I mean, I can love Citizen of the Galaxy but still think that the last quarter of the book should be shredded and pulped. In fact the endings of MOST of his novels are quite awful. That’s actually not that uncommon. When pondering why that is, my father once said that “It is easier to ask interesting questions than to provide convincing answers.”

        And yes, that passage from “Time enough for Love” is ooky…

  15. PKMKII

    My Congressman was one of the few Republicans in the house to vote against Trumpcare, albeit on triangulated grounds (supported in theory, but opposed due to the upstate costs getting dumped on downstate).

  16. John S

    Recent Reads:

    A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW Amor Towles….once you get past the first 10 pages it is an easy and captivating read. His second novel, RULES OF CIVILITY was an absorbing look at NYC life in the ’30’s.

    EVERYBODY’S FOOL, a sequel to NOBODY’S FOOL by Richard Russo, was a delight. Full lives lived in a small town in upstate New York. If you didn’t read his first book, no worries, as the second book gives you all you need to know to get both stories. Movie is available on DVED starring Paul Newman.

    THE UNDOING PROJET by Michael Lewis….how 2 Israeli psychologists worked together for years, and secondarily, how they changed the staid world of economics and history.

    THE LONG HAUL by Finn Murphy is the life of a Household Goods Moving Long Haul Driver. A college educated guy, who left school to become a driver for North American Van Lines in the ’70’s, Murphy writes with erudition, humor, insight and compassion. I sold both Residential and Corporate Moving for NAVL and Allied for 30+ years, and, I loved learning the ‘rest of the story’ after my customer(s) left LA.

  17. DonCoyote

    The Wikipedia entry on Euphorbia makes for some fascinating reading:

    1) The individual flowers are either male or female, with the male flowers reduced to only the stamen, and the females to the pistil
    2) Structures supporting the flower head and beneath that have evolved to attract pollinators with nectar, and with shapes and colors that function the way petals and other flower parts do in other flowers.
    3) It is the only genus of plants that has all three kinds of photosynthesis, CAM, C3, and C4.

    And that’s only part of one paragraph. I didn’t even know there were three kinds of photosynthesis. Definitely feeling dumber than a fifth grader.

    The Grant memoirs are excellent–the first e-book (not the last) I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. I’m reading Famous Men of Science now (published 1889), and as always, who is included and excluded is fascinating to me.

    1. Ranger Rick

      Gutenberg’s a great resource. I’m revisiting some of the classics: Ivanhoe and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

  18. RUKidding

    I work 2 jawbs, so I’m a slacker when it comes to reading. I keep thinking that someday when I retire, I’ll get more “serious” about what I read. Might happen, who knows.

    For relaxation of a sort, I read a lot of crime/police procedural fiction. Especially love those Scandanavian authors, although I enjoy crime/mystery fiction from around the world, as you can insights into different countries/cultures from them. Right now reading Asa Larsson’s third book in a series called The Black Path. Keeping me interested.

    I haven’t had a tv in ages but recently got an old PC from work. I borrow DVDs to watch on it from my public library. I have to control my binge watching tendencies. Here’s some recent faves:

    Wolf Hall highly recommended. About Thomas Cromwell for those not in the know. Excellent cast, esp Mark Rylance as Cromwell. When I go on an extended trip, I plan to read the book on which this is based. Meant to be very good.
    Scott & Bailey (somewhat recent British cop show but excellent & absorbing)
    Borgen – highly recommended to NC fans, if you haven’t seen it yet. Incredible show about Danish politics. Fiction about first female PM, which only narrowly preceded the election of the real first female PM. My understanding is that the insights into “real” Danish politics are pretty spot on.
    The Private Life of Elizabeth & Essex 1939 technicolor extravaganza starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. Worthwhile in a Hollywood sort of way. Davis is quite spectacular.

    1. savedbyirony

      Since you have two Tudor themed productions on your list have you ever seen “Elizabeth R” with Glenda Jackson? Highly recommend that one. And the writer of Scott & Bailey, Sally Wainwright, has had three best drama Bafta winners in her “Last Tango In Halifax” (series 1) and “Happy Valley” series 1 and 2. Those are great binge watches as well.

      1. RUKidding

        I was just thinking about Elizabeth R this weekend. I did see it years ago when it was on PBS. Would like to see again. I also did watch that other show called The Tudors, which ran for several seasons. I saw most of the first season. It was pretty good, although annoying bc they kept fictionalizing things that didn’t make sense. As in: what really happened was exciting enough, so why make stuff up??

        Yes, I loved Sally Wainright’s Last Tango in Halifax and have been told that I must watch Happy Valley. I’m sure I’ll like the latter. Wainright is good. Of course, I love anything with Derek Jacobi in it, and speaking of which, I have also been recently watching episodes from the fabulous I Claudius which stands the test of time.

        1. Hana M

          Mark Rylance was brilliant in Wolf Hall. For someone known best as a stage actor he uses the camera better than any actor I know–the tiniest flash of his eyes, a brief tightening of the lips and suddenly we see the Court politics in new and subtle ways. I also binge watched it at first; then I found myself rewatching a second and third time to catch the nuances. I had to do quite a bit of fiddling with the video contrast to get both the indoor candle-lit scenes and outdoor scenes right. I understand everything was shot with natural lighting, which adds to the sense of place and time.

          1. RUKidding

            Agree re Mark Rylance. What an actor! So very very quiet, but so very very effective.

            The lighting of the indoor sets – which the “extra” stuff provided with the DVDs said was lit that way to mimic as closely as possible the lighting in those times – did take some getting used to. I found it was somewhat easier to watch in a fairly dark room.

            The extra info provided with the DVD set – which is why I like borrowing these (unsure if you get the “extras” when you download or Roku or whatever – gave a lot of background into their research to make this as close to that time period. The different places where they filmed were mostly built or used during the times of the Tudors. So they were striving for verisimiltude, which I think they accomplished.

            I am still struck – months later – by Rylance’s look on his face in the very last scene where King Henry embraces Cromwell after the King is assured that Anne Boleyn is dead. Talk about a picture speaking a million words. Rylance is a master!

        2. savedbyirony

          What a cast in I Claudius but for me Sian Phillips stole the show as Livia Drusilla. Absolutely one of my all time favorite on screen villains.

          1. RUKidding

            Incredible cast, I agree. Of course, Jacobi is right up there. But yes, Sian Phillips as “Grandmother” Livia! Yikes! She’s incredible.

        3. Reader

          I also liked Last Tango in Halifax a lot. I found it to be mostly very entertaining while sometimes crossing the line into annoying soap opera. What I really didn’t like was Sally Wainwright’s decision to incorporate archaic cinematic conventions regarding lesbians, followed by her ridiculous claims of ignorance after the viewer backlash she spawned. I won’t say more so as to not spoil the plot for those who haven’t yet seen it.

          Happy Valley was very good too but completely different. Frequently dark, bleak, disturbing and at times a very violent depiction of life in a small town in northern England plauged by drug addiction.

          Great acting in both, particularly by Sarah Lancashire.

          1. savedbyirony

            Imo it’s series one of Tango that is the jewel. By the time number three came along (a series i tend to recommend fans don’t watch) i think Wainwright was well past the stories she was interested in telling, listened to some VERY poor plot line advice, rushed the writing and was too engrossed with new, more personally compelling projects. She now has an interesting piece coming up about Anne Lister which she has been try to make for years which i think is called “Gentleman Jim”.

            They are going to make one more Happy Valley but she is apparently taking the time needed to develop a good story and get the writing right.

            And oh to be in London this fall for a Sarah Lancashire fan as she will be performing in a new West End play, “Labor of Love”, about the evolving Labor Party: a play i could imagine might be of some entertainment value to some people here.

          2. RUKidding

            Sarah Lancashire is great. I agree that the series devolved over time & got silly & annoying, but it always had some redeeming qualities. Got too into the territory of: how many insane things can possibly happen to this small group of people??

            Liked the location.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > crime/police procedural fiction

      I’m a huge Elmore Leonard fan because I love his writing style; and of Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch series, though he’s no stylist. One may also read the Sam Vimes novels by Terry Pratchett as police procedurals, though not in this world.

    1. stefan

      A favorite bit from Molloy:
      “I remembered, I remembered, I mean I knew more or less what she was talking about, and if I hadn’t always taken part personally in the scenes she evoked, it was just as if I had. I called her Mag, when I had to call her something. And I called her Mag because for me, without my knowing why, the letter g abolished the syllable Ma, and as it were spat on it, better than any other letter would have done. And at the same time I satisfied a deep and doubtless unacknowledged need, the need to have a Ma, that is a mother, and to proclaim it, audibly. For before you say mag you say ma, inevitably. And da, in my part of the world, means father. Besides for me the question did not arise, at the period I’m worming into now, I mean the question of whether to call her Ma, Mag or the Countess Caca, she having for countless years been as deaf as a post. I think she was quite incontinent, both of faeces and water, but a kind of prudishness made us avoid the subject when we met, and I could never be certain of it. In any case it can’t have amounted to much, a few niggardly wetted goat-droppings every two or three days. The room smelt of ammonia, oh not merely of ammonia, but of ammonia, ammonia. She knew it was me, by my smell. Her shrunken hairy old face lit up, she was happy to smell me. She jabbered away with a rattle of dentures and most of the time didn’t realize what she was saying. Anyone but myself would have been lost in this clattering gabble, which can only have stopped during her brief instants of unconsciousness. In any case I didn’t come to listen to her. I got into communication with her by knocking on her skull. One knock meant yes, two no, three I don’t know, four money, five goodbye. I was hard put to ram this code into her ruined and frantic understanding, but I did it, in the end. That she should confuse yes, no, I don’t know and goodbye, was all the same to me, I confused them myself. But that she should associate the four knocks with anything but money was something to be avoided at all costs. During the period of training therefore, at the same time as I administered the four knocks on her skull, I stuck a bank-note under her nose or in her mouth. In the innocence of my heart! For she seemed to have lost, if not absolutely all notion of mensuration, at least the faculty of counting beyond two. It was too far for her, yes, the distance was too great, from one to four. By the time she came to the fourth knock she imagined she was only at the second, the first two having been erased from her memory as completely as if they had never been felt, though I don’t quite see how something never felt can be erased from the memory, and yet it is a common occurrence. She must have thought I was saying no to her all the time, whereas nothing was further from my purpose. Enlightened by these considerations I looked for and finally found a more effective means of putting the idea of money into her head. This consisted in replacing the four knocks of my index-knuckle by one or more (according to my needs) thumps of the fist, on her skull. That she understood. In any case I didn’t come for money. I took her money, but I didn’t come for that. My mother. I don’t think too harshly of her. I know she did all she could not to have me, except of course the one thing, and if she never succeeded in getting me unstuck, it was that fate had earmarked me for less compassionate sewers. But it was well-meant and that’s enough for me. No it is not enough for me, but I give her credit, though she is my mother, for what she tried to do for me. And I forgive her for having jostled me a little in the first months and spoiled the only endurable, just endurable, period of my enormous history. And I also give her credit for not having done it again, thanks to me, or for having stopped in time, when she did. And if ever I’m reduced to looking for a meaning to my life, you never can tell, it’s in that old mess I’ll stick my nose to begin with, the mess of that poor old uniparous whore and myself the last of my foul brood, neither man nor beast. I should add, before I get down to the facts, you’d swear they were facts, of that distant summer afternoon, that with this deaf blind impotent mad old woman, who called me Dan and whom I called Mag, and with her alone, I—no, I can’t say it. That is to say I could say it but I won’t say it, yes, I could say it easily, because it wouldn’t be true. What did I see of her? A head always, the hands sometimes, the arms rarely. A head always. Veiled with hair, wrinkles, filth, slobber. A head that darkened the air. Not that seeing matters, but it’s something to go on with. It was I who took the key from under the pillow, who took the money out of the drawer, who put the key back under the pillow. But I didn’t come for money. I think there was a woman who came each week. Once I touched with my lips, vaguely, hastily, that little grey wizened pear. Pah. Did that please her? I don’t know. Her babble stopped for a second, then began again. Perhaps she said to herself, Pah. I smelt a terrible smell. It must have come from the bowels. Odour of antiquity. Oh I’m not criticizing her, I don’t diffuse the perfumes of Araby myself. Shall I describe the room? No.”

      1. ilpalazzo

        Ha! Beckett. I have read Molloy a couple of times too.

        My favourite of his: The loss of consciousness for me was never any great loss.

  19. fresno dan

    For those who remember when I was a frequent poster, I was going to quit posting because I was becoming a volunteer at HICAP (health insurance counseling and advocacy program) and would have little time for posting, but as I have a minute, I will tell you of my adventures. For the weak of heart, I recommend plenty of whiskey and LSD. For those of sterner composition, add some cocaine.

    HICAP basically advises people on or about to be on medicare as to their insurance options. There are paid government employees and volunteer counselors.
    So I have completed all my reading, and I have been “shadowing” experienced counselors as they…uh, counsel their clients for the last two weeks.

    Some points
    1. Medicare is more expensive than I had imagined. What with all the co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, caps and things it don’t cover, it is not like it really is gonna take care of you. IT is NOT all that INEXPENSIVE.
    2. Most of our “clients” are very poor, so the idea that penalizing people for delaying the buying of say, part D, strikes me as counter productive. People don’t worry about paying for prescription drugs because something MAY happen in 10 years if they need food today….
    3. The incredible complexity means that the clients can’ts understand it, and the government employees get it mixed up as well. Old people who are poor who have troubled getting around are shuffled from the Medi-CAL (medicaid in CA is called Medi-CAL) to Society Security (medicare) bureaucracies and back, as they are constantly given contrary advice on income and asset limits that they can have to qualify for benefits, which are almost a parody of differing criteria – I have yet to find one where you have to hop on one foot three times, but I suspect that is because I am new at this. Even though most of our clients are on Medi-Cal, we have no inkling, and are not suppose to know, anything about how Medi-Cal determines income limits for aid.
    4. Screwiest thing so far? The “Over the Limit” and “Pay Down” for Medi-Cal.

    What is the “Over the Limit” – first, I can’t say definitively, because I have had it ONLY orally described to me, but as I said, we are not suppose to deal with Medi-Cal limits and rules. Apparently, if your income/assets are above a pre-determined amount (which we are not suppose to know), and one wants to be eligible for Medi-Cal (people want to be on Medi-Cal including “middle class” people, because the only way almost anybody can afford on-going IN-HOME care, and preclude going to a nursing home, is by being on Medi-cal. Remember that IN HOME care, while expensive, is still substantially cheaper than nursing home care.

    Who knows how the criteria for “Over the Limit” and “Pay Down” are actually applied. I have seen people whose only income is 1,000$ have an “Over the Limit” of 500$ BUT only have a Pay Down of 20$. I have seen people with incomes of 1,300$ with paydowns of 460$ that have to be Pay Down entirely, all 460$.
    What do I mean by “Pay Down”? “Pay Down” is the amount of monthly health insurance premiums one has to actually buy to get to be on Medi-Cal if one is over the income/asset limits (i.e., “Over the Limit).

    One accomplishes this, not by paying Medi-Cal directly, but by buying an approved health insurance (including dental, drug, and vision, and buying a HIGHER costing health insurance) but of a higher cost so that the “Pay Down” Medi-Cal criterion is met. Of course, there is no insurance that covers ONGOING HOME HEALTH care, so all this extra health insurance is bought for the purpose of………??? (enriching insurance companies – if not, what is the point?)

    and that’s how I spent my summer vacation….(well, I am retired, not on vaction)

    1. diptherio

      Good to hear/read from you! Seeing the beast from the inside, eh? Sounds even crazier than I’d imagined.

    2. Hana M

      This is my biggest problem with the facile Medicare-for-all “solution’ to our healthcare woes. Elizabeth Rosenthal discuses some of these issues in An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back but NC has done great work covering the crapification of everything
      “healthcare” in the US. There is something to be said for Direct Healthcare models being tested at many levels: see
      Molly Rutherford, MD

    3. Lee

      You are one of my favorites here! Do hope you will check in and keep us posted on the trials and tribulations of navigating through the Kafkaesque healthcare system. Kafka was an insurance company employee as was I. Even with this experience, I found enrolling in Medicare rather daunting. Online access to the Medicare website was essential for comparative shopping purposes. But some 40% of people in my age group either don’t have access to or don’t use the internet. I have no doubt that you will do right by those you assist. Cheers!

    4. RUKidding

      Thanks, Fresno Dan. That’s insightful.

      Speaking as someone just over 65 but still working full-time, I can only say it was Byzantine to figure out what to do in terms of registering for Medicare. Because of my work, I must remain on my employer’s insurance for now (due to size of organization), although, of course, if I WANT to pay for Medicare Part B, I can. Well I don’t want to pay for it NOW, but I wanted to make sure I did everything correctly so that I wouldn’t be penalized later.

      It took several months (planned well in advance) of reading, reading, reading, attending a class, meeting with a CalPers rep, plus finally getting a personal appointment with Social Security (who managed Medicare) to make sure I had done what I needed to do correctly.

      Agree that most Medicare employees don’t really know what to tell you. I had several helpful staff on the phone tell me totally different things (at different times). Finally the staff I met with face to face pretty much had things correct, but I insisted that she send me a letter, as well as getting a letter from CalPers, both stating that I had applied correctly for Medicare but only needed the “free” Part A for now.

      So… I think I’m “ok,” and when I finally retire, I have 8 months to apply for other Parts of Medicare without being penalized with ongoing, forever “late” fees.

      I’m well educated and a quick study, and I can state that it’s far from easy to figure out what’s going on. I wish those with less reading comprehension (and listening comprehension) skills all the best.

      That’s good of you to do that work, Dan, and good luck with it. People definitely need help figuring out what to do.

      And yes, I agree, Medicare (can’t speak for MediCAL or Medicaid) is NOT cheap. It’s less than my current employer insurance, I believe, but not something that’s super cheap. I think the costs vary by state, however, and CA does tend to be more expensive.

    5. steelhead

      Keep up the good work and check in once in awhile. I have been extremely lucky with the vendors associated with Medicare Part D. My PCP kept insisting that I needed more than the quantity limits of a certain RX and after two sternly worded faxes, I got the needed allocation. Unfortunately, I have to file my first Medicare appeal due to a payment rejection of a cardiac stress test. You basically learn something new every day…

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for this report.

      It’s a little discouraging. I had always pictured myself as it were hopping from rock to rock across a river, with Medicare and safety on the other shore. Apparently, that’s not so. Discouraging.

  20. savedbyirony

    Just finished “Codebreaker: A History of Codes and Ciphers” about famous unsolved codes and the ongoing attempts to break them.

    Presently reading “A Distant Mirror” because i have a thing for that time in history and Barbara Tuchman can write.

    Next up, “The Dispossessed” because even though I am not much of a sci-fi reader, the recent NC comments about the book have convinced me to check it out.

      1. Katsue

        My own favourite books about the period are Jonathan Sumption’s unfinished 5 volume history of the Hundred Years War.

        They’re super-detailed, so they’re not for everybody, but I love them. The Parisian revolution in 1358 was particularly interesting to me, because it prefigured so much of what happened in 1789.

    1. Kris

      I read The Dispossessed as a teenager and it remains one of the most important books I’ve read. She remains one of my favorite authors for several other books that had profound influences, as well. A couple other books that had influence along the same lines include Wave Without a Shore by C.J. Cherryh (sp?) and The Fiction of a Thinkable World by Michael Sternberg.

  21. Arizona Slim

    My summer project? Major renovations at the Arizona Slim Ranch.

    So far, I’ve dealt with the replacement of a termite-infested back yard fence and the house’s original carport and roof. And, wouldn’t you know it, right after the roof replacement was done, we had almost two inches of rain. Roof didn’t leak a bit — hooray! I also have a beefy new gate at the front of the carport.

    The place still needs a lot of work, so this project will probably stretch on for at least another six months.

    Now, you’ve probably heard that expression, “Give back to the community.” It’s often followed by rhetoric about the importance of volunteering or donating to charities.

    All well and good.

    But you can also give back by supporting local businesses. All of my Arizona Slim Ranch fixers and renovators have been local. Every one. And one guy even shook my hand and thanked me for allowing him to be part of my success.

  22. DJG

    I am reading Austerity Measures, an anthology of the new Greek poetry, recommended on this very blog by Yves Smith. Enlightening. Distressing.

    I am still working my way through a big anthology of Antonio Gramsci’s letters from prison. (This isn’t the complete letters. ) Moving. As I write now and again in the comments, if the left wants to find a way forward, we have to turn to a great humanist like Gramsci for ideas. And they are there, even in the letters. His Italian is extremely exact, as befits someone who majored in literature at the University of Turin. Piero Sraffa, a dissident Italian economist, supported Gramsci long distance, from his own exile in England and comes up now and again like a benevolent angel.

    One of the translators of Austerity Measures is an American poet, A.E. Stallings. She lives in Athens now, got a Macarthur Genius grant, and translated Lucretius. So I have On the Nature of the Universe on order. I re-read Lucretius periodically to ground me in the simplicity and wisdom of Epicurean thinking. Nothing more bracing that reading an Epicurean on the indifference of the gods, which is borne out endlessly.

    As to politics, I have been going to community meetings and forums. I live in Jan Schakowsky’s district, and she has been coming along well, except for the occasional lapse. Durbin was to the left of Obama, and Durbin remains one of the lefty-ish of the senators. Duckworth is not yet proven. The forum with Daniel Biss at The Armory in east Edgewater was heartening: Very little complaining from the members of the public, and a lot of questions about plans and policy. Biss acquitted himself well.

  23. Phacops

    Summer projects?

    Finally completed my cedar-strip sea kayak. A 17-1/2 foot beauty that came in at 32 pounds. Been paddling and getting used to it.

    Going to Grand Teton National Park to see the total solar eclipse. Never saw one before.

    Politics? Time taken up (besides reading this blog) in helping fund raise for a local park on the Platte River (Michigan) that is sorely needed by recreational users.

  24. barefoot charley

    I’ve escaped to the seventeenth century with Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle trilogy, starting with Quicksilver. He’s shelved in sci fi/fantasy because he started out doing cyberpunk, but he’s come a long way into impressive historical fiction. Great tinkle and stench of place in these books. The series purports to be a history of modern banking, among many other things, moiling back and forth between backwaters of backwater Boston (where pedants piffle) and the counting-houses and associated sewers of London, then to plots with William of Orange en route to the several British thrones, then excursions to Hanover where his successors await the Reaper’s sweep, all while Newton and Liebniz’s acolytes backstab over who invented calculus and who’s an alchemist, and modernity itself is gestating. It’s impossible to sum these doorstoppers up, so I’ll just appreciate his handle on how the British, in systematizing reliable banking credit, created power unbound. it’s not the philosophers stone, it’s only where all the money comes from.

    1. Mel

      I’d call it sci-fi. I fully trust his historical research, but wait till you get to the volume where one of his touring company of characters (not Sir Isaac Newton, I think, somebody else,) invents the punch card.
      Re banking, I borrowed Greg Steinmetz’s The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, the life of Jakob Fugger of Augsburg, the world’s first mega-banker, ca. 1500. Interesting story.

      1. Jim A.

        I enjoyed the Baroque Saga, but each volume could have lost 100 pages and been the better for it. It feels like he did an incredible amount of research which he insisted on putting all of into the books.

      2. DonCoyote

        Alternate Universe may (or may not be) a better description. He’s invented two fictional families (the Shaftoes and the Waterhouses), both first appearing in Cryptonomicon, and who usually end up doing many the non-historical/anachronistic bits. The Baroque Cycle does have a nice shout-out to Leibniz.

        IMO, Stevenson is always worth reading, but YMMV on which you prefer (I’m still really grooving on Anathem).

    2. voteforno6

      Stephenson is still writing sci-fi. Seveneves came out a couple of years ago, and his most recent book is definitely sci-fi, though a bit more whimsical than his other books.

  25. RabidGandhi

    1. My winter is proceding just dandy, thanks!

    2. Given my propensity to fainting spells, Ms RG has forbade me from reading non-fiction for a spell, so I am giving Dostoevsky another go– of all reactionary authors. I’ve written a bit elsewheres on the politics of debt in Crime and Punishment, but it’s in a language not compatible with that of this blog. Nevertheless, to crassly summarise: Raskolnikov was a victim of the vampire squid!

    3. I don’t want to talk much about my congress critter (cf Ms RG ut supra) but I am very happy that there is a wee fleeting ray of light in the Milagro Sala case, so hope springs eternal, even in the murky bowels of winter.

  26. Chris

    My summer projects have been a bust so far. Too much to do, too many thing around the house keep breaking so I need to fix them instead of starting new projects, I started a new job, etc. I’m hoping some of them can wait for the fall.

    In other news, is anyone here subscribed to the EPA newsletters? The press release they sent out today about eliminating the backlog for reviews of new chemicals has me scratching my head.

  27. curlydan

    Reading “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace–my first foray into his work. I like his essays on tennis, and the title essay about travel on cruise ships is excellent and funny. Most of the other essays I just skipped through a bit.

    Finished “Black Elk: The Life of An American Visionary” by Joe Jackson. Incredibly interesting biography. That book inspired my first trip to the Black Hills this summer.

  28. Jane

    Trying to get through Gibbons, one chapter a day. I’ve owned the books for years, figured it was time to actually read them.

    Just finished ‘The Man in the Queue’. An Inspector Grant novel by Josephine Tey, next up is ‘A Shilling for Candles’. (I’m a sucker for English crime novels, these are from the 20s and 30s).

    Also just started ‘His Dark Materials’ by Philip Pullman. It too has been sitting on my reading list for a couple of years.

    Best book I’ve read in the last year was ‘Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern in case anyone looking for something new, it was quite original. Also, Henry Green’s ‘Loving’ which was the only book I’ve ever read where I felt as if I actually inhabited the book, it was quite a strange reading sensation. There is almost no description other than what you might first notice on meeting a person or walking into a room…makes you feel as if you are the narrator/observer. At least, that’s what I think results in the unique reading experience.

  29. diptherio

    Summer projects: co-hosting a weekly talk radio show on the college station – going well so far. This week a listener informed us that he was pretty sure our conversation had caused his Alexa to order him a sex-robot…so there’s a win.

    Helping four friends start up a worker co-op brewing kombucha. They’ve got a location and are just waiting on the bureaucrats to give them the final sign off so they can start officially selling product. What a learning experience that has been…

    Exploring options for creating an eco-village in Bumfrack, MT (it’s not on a map, don’t even bother looking). Still in the very early exploratory stages, but I sense potential. We’re thinking elderly care as a communal enterprise…

    Books: Signal and Boundries by John Holland on modeling complex adaptive systems. Wisdom of the Idiots by Idries Shah; classic Sufi stories and sayings.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for reminding me of Sufi masters.

      I have learned a lot from Nasreddin. From Wikipedia:

      Nasreddin was walking in the bazaar with a large group of followers. Whatever Nasreddin did, his followers immediately copied. Every few steps Nasreddin would stop and shake his hands in the air, touch his feet and jump up yelling “Hu Hu Hu!”. So his followers would also stop and do exactly the same thing.
      One of the merchants, who knew Nasreddin, quietly asked him: “What are you doing my old friend? Why are these people imitating you?”
      “I have become a Sufi Sheikh,” replied Nasreddin. “These are my Murids [spiritual seekers]; I am helping them reach enlightenment!”
      “How do you know when they reach enlightenment?”
      “That’s the easy part! Every morning I count them. The ones who have left – have reached enlightenment!”
      [this quote needs a citation]

      And there are many such tales.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Or this one:

        Whom do you believe?[edit]

        A neighbour came to the gate of Mulla Nasreddin’s yard. The Mulla went to meet him outside.
        “Would you mind, Mulla,” the neighbour asked, “can you lend me your donkey today? I have some goods to transport to the next town.”
        The Mulla didn’t feel inclined to lend out the animal to that particular man, however. So, not to seem rude, he answered:
        “I’m sorry, but I’ve already lent him to somebody else.”
        All of a sudden the donkey could be heard braying loudly behind the wall of the yard.
        “But Mulla,” the neighbour exclaimed. “I can hear it behind that wall!”
        “Whom do you believe,” the Mulla replied indignantly, “the donkey or your Mulla?”[23]

  30. Hana M

    I confess I’ve been doing mostly escapist reading since I’ve no heart or energy for big projects this summer. Georgette Heyer for superb historical romances; Helen MacInnnes, Hammond Innes, Eric Ambler, Len Deighton (Why, why would anyone want to go back to the Cold War era, except in fiction?….oh, wait…)

    And I’ve even thrown in some Louis L’Amour and Mary Stewart for really rough days.

    1. Kris

      Reading: A Redder Shade of Green by Ian Angus, and The Nature and Logic of Capitalism by Robert Heilbroner. Have a Jacobin reading group coming up where we’re discussing “Your Personal Consumption Choices Can’t Save the Planet: We Have to Confront Capitalism”, by Kate Aronoff (In These Times) so both should be relevant. Just finished The Last Colonial Massacre by Greg Grandin, and although I wanted to like it, and was definitely interested, I found the writing style repetitive.

      Summer project was removing lawn from front yard and replacing with herbs, perennials, and veggie areas. I grow for community gardens and end up planting whatever is left over, so had lots of thymes, salad burnet, Welsh onions, winter savory, plus kale and peppers. Currently drowning in peaches, tomatoes, Korean radishes, and perennial arugula.

  31. Shane

    It is winter here but in the subtropics summer is always right around the corner. My big summer project is to prepare a big push converting our old cow farm intoa goat farm. That means, among other things, planting thousands of trees and shrubs for them to eat and turning the pastures into forests of a sort. The geese are laying so furry goose babies are due soon, and the goats should kid right before xmas.

    I am trying to get into reading “Love in a time of cholera” after absolutely loving “100 years of solitude” many years ago. I am starting to wonder if the internet has destroyed my ability to enjoy a novel.

    Politics in Australia is pretty much dead in my eyes, though at some point I must get involved with some local community organisations.

    BTW- Your lovely red flower is an Epiphyllum, not a Euphorbia. Epiphyllums are the tree dwelling ancestors of cacti. It gets pretty dry from time to time living at the top of a tree, so thats where the cacti we are more familiar with got their first taste of desert living.

  32. Big River Bandido

    Mostly…I read history:

    Brendan Wolfe, Finding Bix: the Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend
    Michael C. Harris, Brandywine
    Ian W. Toll, Six Frigates (on the first six frigates of the United States Navy)
    Stephen Budiansky, The Perilous Fight (War of 1812)
    Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Passage of Power

    All of these have been excellent. The Bix Beiderbecke book is the most creative, out of the box; appropriate for a figure who remains elusive for the lack of primary sources that remain. Ian Toll’s books on American naval history are great reads especially for one not so knowledgeable about naval warfare. And of course Caro’s cycle is a feast.

    Just started today on Carlos Harrison’s The Ghosts of Hero Street.

  33. Rhondda

    Every year in mid-summer I try and re-read “Little, Big” by John Crowley. Usually around the “downtime” of the Egyptian epagomenal days, which we celebrate a little later than most. Then in September or early October I re-read “Engine Summer.” I finished “Little, Big” quickly back in July — when you’ve read something so many times it’s less reading than it is a kind focused skimming that delights in details — so I decided to get wiggy and bought a clutch of his newer “Aegypt” cycle scritchings for my iPad. I’ve been rather lost in Crowley’s world. Which is good, because the news seems all bad. Fantasy in lieu of the vacation I can’t afford ;-)

  34. Mike

    1) Purchased new computer, went through semi-Hell setting it up by “migrating” to the new from the old. Also had much work to do inside and outside my semi-detached (“Twin”) home due to aging of its…er… infrastructure.
    2) Reading several books at once- “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson (re Chicago during Columbian Exposition – fascinating); a relatively new translation of Jaroslav Hašek’s “Good Soldier Švejk” from two Czech translators who fixed up Parrott’s Anglicization; “Till Eulenspiegel: His Adventures” translated by Paul Oppenheimer (with original language and nastiness before kid’s version was released).
    3) I do not plan on seeing any representatives of government, local of national, unless accompanied by bodyguard.

  35. dbk

    Summer reading:
    – Robert Harris’s Cicero trilogy. Just finished Imperium. I’m trying to figure out who to liken to whom in the current admin. Hubby says POTUS is most like Crassus, hmm. Who’s most like Cicero?
    – Democracy in Chains
    – American Amnesia

    Other summer activities:
    – as I promised (!) on Lambert’s last open thread (January?), I actually did start a blog. It takes about 12-14 hours a day of reading/thinking/trying to keep up with ongoing developments in Health-Environment-Justice-Education (HEJE). I also do fairly regular “Illinois Updates”, given that Illinois is my native state and some pretty scary stuff is going down in Springfield these days. Education funding is, well, excruciating to try to understand.

    -political stuff. I live abroad but am back for long periods recently. I write about once a month to Dick Durbin (D-IL) and have started publishing my letters on the blog in a regular feature. I’m convinced some 20-something intern reads them; I get form responses which only peripherally address the content (like, maybe, same general subject area). Trying to figure out how to convince Senator Durbin that single-payer is the future.

    -in view of the previous (single-payer), I’ve been following the healthcare debacle – oops, I meant debate. Incredibly complicated but absolutely fascinating–and meaningful, if you’re into thinking about longer-term policy issues. I’m grateful to Lambert for getting me thinking about healthcare during ACA implementation (seems ages ago now).

  36. Kurt Sperry

    The Plantidote looks a lot more like a Schlumbergera or Hatiora than a Euphorbia to me, although native tropical houseplants are well outside my plant identifying wheelhouse.

  37. Theo

    Your plant picture may be an orchid cactus most likely. It’s not a euphorbia, I’m pretty sure. Not the right kind of flower or leaf form, although euphorbias come in a wealth of shapes, sizes, flower colors. It may also be some kind of night blooming cactus such as a cereus.

    As always the 2pm water cooler is excellent and the cat picture wonderful.

  38. Anonymous

    We went to Russia for six days: three each in St. Petersburg and Moscow. We always wanted to go, and the Russia-gate propaganda made us stop procrastinating. It’s an amazing place, very friendly people. Wish loathsome NeoCons didn’t dominate our US government.

    1. stefan

      My father grew up in St. Petersburg and was in the gulag from the 1931 to 1942. My grandfather was worked to death in the gold mines of the Far North in less than a year.

      Right now I am re-reading Plato’s Phaedrus, one of the truly pioneering and astounding monuments of Western literature. A marvel to read.

  39. Jen

    1) It must be the rain and the cooler temperatures. Summer seems so short this year compared to the last two. Projects: new tile in the upstairs bath; new floors in the living room and kitchen; painting the few spots on the exterior of the house that i couldn’t get to last year before it got too cold; and an unplanned repair to the chicken coop after a large branch fell on it.

    2) Reading – haven’t had much time for anything other than naked capitalism but vacation is coming up and the pile of books I acquired from the 5 colleges book sale will keep me busy. I second the recommendation for Everybody’s Fool.

    3) Visiting my congress critters – no but plan to make use of some of my free time at the end of the month to call their offices.

    And that cat is lovely.

  40. polecat

    Re. Gardens

    Just today, as I’m watering the ‘zen’ portion of our yard, I’m looking at one of the bamboos (P. ‘Castilon’) we have planted …. and lo and behold …. the damn things’ in flower !! I was staring at a branch, and my brain popped out ‘corn tassles’ … an immediately realized what my eyes where seeing ! Now the thing is, when a Phylostachys bamboo species flowers, they ALL flower …… globally, at roughly the same time …. after which they die ! So that means I’ll have to save some seed (as will others), which hopefully will germinate ! After going on 5 years since planting, it was looking really nice ….

  41. stefan

    A book that I read recently and thought was pretty interesting (other Lear books are also good):
    “Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation” by Jonathan Lear. Harvard U. Press (2006)

    A disquisition on the memoirs of Plenty Coups, the last great chief of the Crow Nation.

    “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.”

  42. Kim Kaufman

    Summer project: repiping the plumbing from very old galvanized original to house built in 1946. I knew I had to do it and was taking my sweet time cleaning out the garage. I got a couple of slight but apparently intermitent leaks a week ago and am now moving forward – quickly.

    Repiping business seems to be quite a hustle to the unsuspecting. I got bids from $4,800, $5,500, $7,300. All three were neighbor recommendations. The two highest were large companies with an estimator, probably on commission, doing the inspection, such as it was, and setting the price. For the lowest bid, the owner came, spent a lot of time and consideration of the job and was very proud of being a second generation repiper, with his son making the third generation. He no longer does the work but oversees the jobs (I assume he stops by during the day). Needless to say, I’m going with the lowest bid.

    Back to the garage…

  43. McWatt

    Have to highly recommend Hue by Mark Bowden. It lays out in clear concise terms what happened to
    both sides in Viet Nam. A fantastic nail biting read.

  44. Plenue

    Not directly about a book, but it is about Mary Beard, who was recently the subject of a dedicated post here on NC. Apparently the BBC made an educational cartoon about Roman Britain, and one scene featured a black Roman soldier. Twitter went mad over it, with the ‘alt-right’ types coming out of the woodwork to decry the PC revision of history to excuse immigration, or whatever. Mary Beard weighed in, saying it was essentially accurate and plausible, pointing out that even one of the governors of the entire province was a Berber. The reaction to that was a lot of gendered insults, but also Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a man with no classical studies education whatsoever, going out of his way to insult not just Mary Beard (“I get more academic citations per year than you got all your life!”), but to decry the entirely of UK academia as compromised by political correctness. This from a guy who once coined the phrase ‘The Intellectual Yet Idiot’.


  45. Ed Walker

    I just finished The Dialectical Imagination by Martin Jay, which is an intellectual history of the Frankfurt School, the founders of Critical Theory. I’m going to read The Dialectic of the Enlightenment by Horkheimer and Adorno. I’m interested in the cultural criticism stuff, as well as the dialectic. This was my Summer Project, so it’s going well.

    Also, I finished reading Possession by A.S. Byatt, which I highly recommend.

  46. Reify99

    I’ve pulled out the Chopin F Minor Ballade and I’m slowly rebuilding it. Somehow these pieces that have lived inside me for so long have been refining themselves and that’s the conception I receive now. It’s a privilege to have one’s ideal lifted. The pursuit then lifts me higher even if I don’t attain the goal.

    It’s church for me.

  47. Enquiring Mind

    Re-reading Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand to reflect on interactions over the years and decades. Age provides some insights to balance the regrets. Next on to some different reading with Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.

  48. ChrisPacific

    Reading: most recently ‘The Three Body Problem’ by Liu Cixin, which is pretty good hard/speculative sci fi written by a Chinese author. The translation is fairly heavily populated with footnotes explaining the cultural context, which can make it a tough read at times. But he writes well and it’s interesting reading science fiction from a non-Eurocentric viewpoint.

  49. Lambert Strether Post author

    From the suggesting reading, it seems that I don’t have to worry much about my Flesch-Kincaid readability rating. Just for grins, with today’s Water Cooler:

    Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading
    Gunning Fog index : 13.23

    Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text :
    Coleman Liau index : 10.93
    Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 11.17
    ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 10.49
    SMOG : 12.82


    Flesch Reading Ease : 47.92

    For Flesch Reading Ease:

    65: Plain English. Average sentence is 15 to 20 words long. Average word has two syllables.

    30: A little hard to read. Sentences will have mostly 25 words. Two syllables usually.

    I’m bummed. Only halfway between plain English and a little hard to read?!

  50. witters

    Hey, my strict setting on safe search at DDG no longer lets me see the NC site! You require the moderate setting!

  51. Jobs

    I’ve been reading “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914”, by Christopher Clark. It’s a very readable, detailed description with lots of anecdotes about the buildup to the First World War. Recommended.

  52. Anonymized

    My summer project is trying to read 50 books this year (http://50bookpledge.ca) . Actually, my pledge is only 25 but I’m almost at 20 now so I think I can make at least 30 by year’s end. Also trying to get a decent batch of tomatoes and bok choy, and to finally replace the brake pads on my bike (I’ve just been using the front one because the back is so worn out). I bought new brake pads a couple weeks ago but staring at it on my dresser hasn’t proven to be an effective method.

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