2:00PM Water Cooler 11/21/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on Twitter. Talk amongst yourselves! This is an open thread. –lambert

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From AG:

AG writes: “The plant is the very fragrant Horsemint (Agastache urticifolia), which grows at higher elevations of the Sierras. These ones were at 5,600 feet, in a meadow near some seeps. Plants can range from 3 feet tall to over six feet in favorable conditions. The bird is a Rufous Hummingbird, nectaring on its migration from Canada to parts south. There has been a big decline in their numbers as their low–elevation migratory feeding areas are wiped out—just too far between the ‘islands’ that remain… Although we grow lots of Epilobiums for them on our property, we saw just one this year…”

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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. Bsn

      I just woke up from one. Finished making some “Werner Sticks”. My recently deceased father in law passed away at age 96. We use wood for heat and he would take the trimmings of the grape vines, break them and make little hand sized bundles with sticks tied together. We use those for kindling to start our fires. Great recycling and kept him busy and helpful to the family until the very end. Anyway, so now I bundle them as I listen to the Duran, New Atlas, Techtonic and my favorite podcasts and music. Life is good. Maybe I’ll make it to 96??

  1. Turnauer

    Now that congress is zeroing in on The Big Guy’s Chinese and other profit skimming deals, it’s about time for Biden to lapse into dementia, like Reagan did when asked about Iran Contra: “I just don’t remember……….”

    First Harris has to change her business cards and resign for some mysterious reason, like health, or a better job offer for a couple hundred million workigng for Soros, then Biden names Newsom or some other cog to be V.P, then he resigns for health or other reasons, President Newsom then names some other apparatchik as V.P.


    See how it’s done? No one has voted for them, just like Gerald Ford becoming prez. Oh, I forgot the pardons for Hunter and Joe as well.

    1. Carolinian

      The scary thing is he probably doesn’t remember.

      It’s likely at the time Biden never thought he would become president so who’s gonna know or mind? Now it’s a big oopsie and tangled up in US foreign policy.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Sounds like a plan but Newsom wouldn’t get confirmed and we’d get President McCarthy which would serve us right. (pun intended)

      I do not expect to see Biden ever testify. Take him off his meds and all they’d get from him would be Corn Pop stories about hairy legs because they’d never seen hairy legs before in the deepest darkest parts of Delaware.

    3. Questa Nota

      Those pardons, and others, will be hot topics.
      What did O contribute to that pardoned zeitgeist? Holder, etc?
      Did Bidet know which pardons he was signing, or did Jill just whisper and guide the pen? Hunter, check. Jim, check. Check cashed, check.
      Which secret pardons have allowed ongoing public appearances by what many would call Treasonous Felons or worse?

      Visualize a Pardon Pool, akin to a Dead Pool, with some aftermarket odds and price discovery. Would-be, wannabe pardonees could audition, send cash, send 8*10 glossies, tapes or other old school evidence, or just beg and plead.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Well he did just have his 80th birthday a day or two ago. There has never been a President that old in office I think, not even Reagan.

  2. Hana M

    An informal survey of the NC commentariat:

    If you regularly wear a mask have you ever experienced any negative effects (facial rashes, fatigue, headaches, mouth breathing, gum infections, other symptoms)?

    Do you feel anxiety if you lose your mask?

    What, if anything, would prompt you to stop masking?

    1. Carla

      @Hana M — 1. For me, the only negatives of wearing a mask: it’s sometimes harder for people to understand what I’m saying; and convivial socializing is reduced because it’s impossible to eat or drink with a mask on. I have never experienced any of the negative effects you list. 2. I would not be anxious if a I lost a particular mask because I have plenty where that came from. 3. I would stop masking if/when I’m convinced this pandemic is well and truly over and there is not another coming right behind it. (If Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute says it’s over, in my book, it’s over. Doesn’t look likely though.)

      P.S. I really dislike wearing a mask, but I like the protections it affords.

      1. Carla

        Should have said: I would stop masking if/when I’m convinced this pandemic is well and truly over and there is not another airborne disease roaring into the breach right behind it.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      I have not had any bad symptoms from wearing a mask and always have one with me. Hardly anyone in this locale wears masks anymore. I went to a funeral last week and of the fewer than 100 people there, I was the only masked person.

      1. Bart Hansen

        What I do is to stick my chin in the 3M mask and sweep the two straps way over my head back to my neck and then bring one strap back up over my ears.

        I wear them whenever I leave the property, which means for food and medical appts. No one disses me because I am old. All the clinics at the University of VA health clinics require masks.

        No rashes.

    3. hunkerdown

      No bad symptoms, aside from a bit of agitation which might be some very lowest grade of the panic that some wearers have experienced.

      Anxious only if I haven’t got another mask on my person. (When I don’t wear a mask, I get Round 2 (and 3) from some lady working sick and maskless at the auto parts store. DIY car repair can be expensive.)

      COVID actually being over would get me to consider stopping masking. But man, wouldn’t it be great to test the masking hypothesis of influenza decline. I’d much rather masking be normalized, the orthodontics profession be damned.

    4. MaryLand

      Have not received any negative remarks nor any problems wearing a mask. Husband wore one for 24 hours straight in the hospital with no bad effects. We have cut our social activities back quite a bit, seeing family outdoors mostly. In colder weather we see them when we can ventilate the room and/or have HEPA filters running. We are retired and in the age group that has a higher death rate from covid. So we will keep masking until the death rate from covid or other aerosolized diseases is down substantially in our area. We have not had covid that we know of, but many of our more social friends and family have had it at least once. We are usually the only ones masked in public, but being introverts we don’t care about that. We prioritize being able to see our grandkids grow up.

    5. mistah charley, ph.d.

      1/No negative effects from masking.

      2/Have never lost my mask.

      3/This year I was diagnosed with a chronic immunocompromising condition, so I expect to continue masking in public for the foreseeable future, however long that is. Life goes on – until it doesn’t.

    6. nippersmom

      Any symptoms from wearing a mask have been negligible, especially compared to contracting long covid.

      I always make sure I have an extra mask, so there is no need for anxiety if I lose one.

      As others have stated, I will consider unmasking (and resuming some indoor, crowded activities) once I am sure the pandemic is well and truly over and there isn’t another one close on its heels. As a side benefit to masking, while I still have to deal with seasonal allergies, I’ve had neither a cold nor the flu since I’ve been wearing a mask in indoor, public spaces. I usually have at least one cold per year and rarely go two consecutive flu seasons without getting ill.

    7. petal

      I wear an N95 every day. My gig is immunology research. No issues other than a zit once in a while where it rubs. I’d rather deal with that than covid and its after-effects. I keep extra masks in my backpack, carry bag, at home, in the car, and at work so I am not caught without one. I won’t go inside anywhere without one. It’s not worth it. Literally nothing except the great deity eliminating covid from the earth would prompt me to stop wearing it. I am assuming it will be like this for the rest of my life, but it’s better than the alternative.

    8. Daryl

      No side effects, other than it can feel warm and annoying after being worn for some time, particularly in the humid Texas weather.

      > What, if anything, would prompt you to stop masking?

      I will never stop masking on public transit now. Every illness I’ve had over the past few years was directly related to travel and (at least for now) I can wear a mask without being arrested for it.

      If covid were actually contained, I’d stop masking when just out and about where I live.

    9. ChrisPacific

      I wear a P2 (local N95 equivalent) any time I am indoors outside my home (which is all day on the rare occasions when I go into the office). I find it uncomfortable and annoying for long periods, but I don’t experience any real issues, except for some chafing in spots. It even seems to help with some things, like allergies. I have not lost my mask so far and I carry spares in case it happens.

      I’ve concluded that I would stop masking if we weren’t experiencing an infection spike and my risk factor under all of the three Cs was low. In practice that would mean a room that was well ventilated either naturally or with a filter and had CO2 monitors installed and visible and showing a safe reading, and that I wasn’t in a big crowd or forced into close quarters with others. This is a moot point at the moment since there is a total of one venue in our area that meets the first condition. In some places (e.g. public transport) it’s never likely to be true.

      I tend to avoid public indoor spaces as much as possible right now even with a mask. I am deeply uncomfortable with the prevailing attitude of pretending there’s no risk, and I don’t feel safe around people who take that view.

    10. Utah

      Middle school teacher here- I wear a mask most of the day. Sometimes I have to take it off so that students can see my face to know what my facial expression is. I ventilate the hell out of my classroom. Everywhere else is mask 100% of the time.

      I developed a small “tumor” on my nose- basically a bunch of blood cells at the surface of my nose that clumped together. I got it removed but it’s still red and I suspect I’ll have to get it removed again. I have rosacea anyway, so I suspect that it’s just part of that. My doctor wasn’t worried and said she’d removed a few in the same area of the nose. Insurance paid for the removal because they tested it for skin cancer, so it was preventative.

      To stop masking, I would want covid numbers to be under at least 100/ 100,000 in my area. But because the data is bad, I’ll never know what the true number is and therefore probably won’t stop masking for a long time.

      I haven’t had covid, and I know too many people who have symptoms who just go about their day unmasked, only to discover they have covid the next day. So, I don’t really trust people to stay home when sick and might revise my number to reflect the lack of data and safety protocols.

    11. albrt

      No negative symptoms from masking. Slightly uncomfortable when working in temperatures over 100 degrees, but otherwise no inconvenience at all.

      I don’t feel anxiety if for some reason I don’t have a mask with me, but I don’t go in crowded places if I don’t have a mask.

      I never masked outdoors even at the height of the Covid panic. But I will probably continue to wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces for the foreseeable future. There is no downside and a decent mask minimizes other communicable diseases besides Covid. Also, I see wearing a mask as a protest against how badly the pandemic was bungled and how much our government lies to us, and against American stupidity in general.

      1. albrt

        Correction – I never masked outdoors to prevent Covid. I often mask outdoors for dust, pollen, or other good reasons, as I did before Covid.

    12. Bsn

      I mask with no obvious discomfort or hesitance. I don’t worry if I lose my mask. I just ensure I do an iodine rinse of nasal passages and gargle upon getting home. Only time, in a busy/crowded place that I take my mask off is if I am performing music – I’m a wind player. Don’t think I’ve ever had Covid.

    13. Ben Joseph

      I utilize a standardized cognitive screen that utilizes a random letter response task. I routinely get short-winded in my mask. It feels like it is sacrilege to acknowledge the drawbacks.

      I’m in a medical setting and when the able-bodied ask if masking is necessary, I request obedience by pointing out there is a lot of shared air over the course of the day. But then autistic or demented people come in with chin coverage or less and I just survive.

    14. caucus99percenter

      Increased regular mask wearing did lead to a persistent, disfiguring facial rash and/or fungal infection that took a referral to a dermatologist to diagnose and deal with.

      Never have lost a mask, but the loops often bend an ear in such a way as to cause an over-ear hearing aid to fall off —> anxiety about possibly losing an expensive hearing aid.

      Strongly inclined to continue masking no matter what. The East Asian cultural associations that come to the fore are positive for me, e.g. I think of a certain video, made long before Covid, showing members of the Japanese pop group AKB48 arriving at their theatre to prepare for a performance, and they are all wearing masks as a matter of course.

    15. Lambert Strether Post author

      1) If you regularly wear a mask have you ever experienced any negative effects (facial rashes, fatigue, headaches, mouth breathing, gum infections, other symptoms)?


      2) Do you feel anxiety if you lose your mask?

      No, because I always carry a spare. If I were in a 3Cs space, and lost my mask, I would leave (i.e., anxiety is, plenty of times, adaptive).

      3) What, if anything, would prompt you to stop masking?

      The end of this pandemic, assuming we don’t have another one. Also, at least in cities, clean air.

    16. Basil Pesto

      1) If you regularly wear a mask have you ever experienced any negative effects (facial rashes, fatigue, headaches, mouth breathing, gum infections, other symptoms)?

      I have had difficult skin issues since long before pre-pandemic. I used to grow stubble/short beards to mask them but have to shave daily now so that I get a good seal with the mask. It’s hard for me to say whether the masks are making the skin worse but I can’t imagine they’re making it better. Less of an issue than repeat Covid. Vaseline soothes the redness.

      2) Do you feel anxiety if you lose your mask?

      Yes, though I usually carry spares, so I’ve only been caught short once.

      3) What, if anything, would prompt you to stop masking?

      I stopped masking once, when, in late 2020 after a few months lockdown, Victoria successfully eliminated Covid, rejoining the rest of Australia, and it ceased being a threat. It was great, because as wonderful a tool as masks are, wearing them indoors all the time also sucks. Repeating that, or the emergence of some sort of miracle cure (or combination of both), and I would stop masking again. I would not stop masking in highly HEPAfied/ventilated environments, unless maybe they were *very* sparsely occupied. Outdoor transmission absolutely occurs and so it will in indoor environments that are well ventilated and where the air is well cleaned. Air cleaning and ventilation cannot solve the problem of near-field transmission.

      That all said, if Covid disappeared tomorrow, I think I would wear respirators more often as a matter of course, I think. At airports, on public transport in winter, visiting the doctor and suchlike.

    1. Ang

      Likewise here in Seattle. Where I grew up in NY state, hummingbirds were rare and certainly only seen in summer. I thought of them as frail and elusive. But here they are all-season and they’ve corrected my assumptions about their frailty, a few times dive-bombing me to remind me whose territory is whose.

  3. Hepativore

    So, this is no big surprise, but once more the “squad” shows how utterly useless they are as they fold in the face of Pelosi’s pick for her successor.


    At this rate, I wonder if we should call them the “Submissive Squad” as there almost seems like sub/dom thing going on between them and the DNC leadership that still hates them, anyway.

  4. 430MLK

    True confession for an open thread:
    For the first three or four years of reading this site, I thought Lambert was writing from a place called Corrente.

    About two years in, my slow-reading mental map placed him in Corrente, Maine.

    It still does. I imagine Lambert Strether of Corrente like a modern day Roman philosopher banished to some northern gale-lashed village. Surrounded by flowers. Writing writing writing.

    1. albrt

      Lambert had a website called Corrente before he signed on full time with Yves. The Lambert Strether link in the Blogroll goes to the address where it used to be.

  5. Kengferno

    I might have missed it but I haven’t seen any discussion of The Peripheral (and the ensuing Jackpot) on Amazon. Here’s an interesting, very slight spoilery look at the differences between the book and the show:

    Some Spoiler-free quick thoughts: It’s somewhat different, but certainly contains the essence, along with much of the plot and me in characters of the book. The biggest change is a shift of emphasis from far-future based London to life in rural near-future America. And honestly, I like how they’ve drilled down to the gritty details of life just before the Jackpot (kinda like our current reality, just much, much suckier). It’s not very action packed but I find it pretty riveting.

    1. notabanker

      I like the show so far, haven’t read the book. I was expecting more why and less individual character drama. While the CGI plays a critical part in the story, it seems like it is used gratuitously too often. I don’t get the Roman/Greek figures thing either.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > any discussion of The Peripheral (and the ensuing Jackpot) on Amazon.

      I read the summary, and I was disappointed that they changed Wilf’s character. The scene in the book were Wilf, jacked into the Wheelie Boy, explains the Jackpot to Flynn, is great. I would hate to think that scene was cut from the movie.

  6. Nikkikat

    We have no negatives to report with masking. We wear it every where. I am not comfortable taking it off outside unless we are alone. I do wonder how people like my brother go to restaurants, concerts and have people over to visit have not been infected. Yet, maybe they had no symptoms. Another relative got it along with his wife back early on when Delta was happening. Both have long Covid. We see no one and go no where. Very depressing. We miss people. I do not feel that we are ever getting out of this mess.

  7. rowlf

    (From Georgia) After getting new political mailers in the, well, mailbox today, I have to say they are pretty good cardstock for scraping up cat hork off of hardwood or tile floors.

    Isn’t about half of the US indifferent about US politics because the people in the US are too busy with life or they have figured out voting for the two main political parties doesn’t mean anything to most of the US or maybe making veterans to support the financial geniuses isn’t working? It’s wonderful team followers (The 1/4 of the population D and 1/4 of the population R supporters) have some excitement in their life but to go Will Rogers, how does all the Versailles On The Potomac stuff matter? (Other than descendants of immigrants using the US to settle family grudges in, say, Ukraine?)

      1. rowlf

        I am impressed I got a door hanger for the Warnock/Walker run-off election yesterday. Where I live there are properties with horse or cattle with one acre or larger lots along the road, so someone got a lot of exercise even running from a parked car.

    1. skippy

      “Chokepoint Capitalism”

      The gig for some time has been to set up endless flows of funds to investors be it primary RE or Netflix, see Elon Musk and twit … and yes Thiel is a die hard libertarin AnCap that thinks monopolies are earned in a Survival of the Fittest mind set … its only – NATURAL – and should dictate all human and planetary agendas …


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