2:00PM Water Cooler 4/10/2023

Patient readers, I am having horrid connectivity problems. Normally, my connectivity is triply redundant (hot spot, phone, iPad). I am on the road, and it is all failing for my Mac, including the fourth layer, the miserably inadequate hotel WiFi. Oh, and BlueTooth between the iPad — which is working — and the Mac doesn’t work either. Nor does the Mac recognize my iPad’s personal hotspot [bangs head on desk].

Herewith some tunes to prove I really do know what day of the week it is. Hopefully this posts!


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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. Due to the connectivity constraints, I cannot upload a new plant. So herewith an old one:

Sadly, I cannot go through the Archives and give a credit and quote. Raise your hand in comments if this photo is yours!

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Jason Boxman

    I’ve done the hotspot dance, which tends to include enabling/disabling BT, on both devices, maybe some reboots, praying to the right tech god, ect. When this stuff works on Apple, it is kind of awesome, but when it doesn’t work, it’s a black box of are you signed into your Apple ID? Did you reset BT? Blah blah. I tried setting up Home Sharing under OS X for Apple Music, and that predictably doesn’t show up on my other Mac, because why would it? I’m probably going to try setting up a 3rd-party DAAP server instead. Apple really wants everyone on Apple Music monthly subscription. No. No thanks.

  2. petal

    Eeeee! Good luck with that! Sounds like a case of the Mondays.

    Friends, someone wrote an article about the LMIAL house back in 2020. I don’t know how I missed it before.

    And great photo, whoever shot that one!

  3. IM

    “Voices carry” is a new wave masterpiece (and I guess Aimee Mann’s first song). I never owned it or saw the video — I only ever heard on the radio. For years, I thought the chorus went “hush, hush! When you’re downtown…it’s less scary” and it was about the comfort of finding tolerant people. When I re-found it on the internet, it turned out to be rather different. Great video.

  4. IM Doc

    I will nominate this article from this AM for a Guillotine Watch posting.

    I had to check the date on it twice to make certain this was not some kind of April Fools Joke.


    The under the headline blurb – “Compost has become a staple of cocktail-party conversations.’ You can get manure from eucalyptus-eating goats and even a blend from Princess Diana’s childhood home.”

    Let me get this right. We have these same people importing “poo blends” from Diana’s childhood home – likely burning lots of oil on planes for transport who tell the regular Joe they should get rid of their cars. I would guess from the article this is pretty expensive stuff and likely they send their servants driving by 2 or 3 homeless shelters or encampments to pick this up.

    Meanwhile, my family and I scrape up manure by the wheelbarrows full in August and use it on all of our plants – yielding all kinds of food. Hard and back-breaking work. But good for my kids souls. This article is a bit of an insult to all of us who DO INDEED DO THIS in a planet-saving manner and are trying our best to pass on the techniques to the next generation.

    This really must be a joke – I just cannot believe it. I cannot believe the hare-brained jackasses that we call elites.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I don’t have any fresh, ummm, ish in my compost bin, but my chicken-raising neighbors have shared it in the past. Lately, they’ve been reserving if for their own use, as they are also gardeners.

    2. Questa Nota

      Tut tut. I’ll have you know that the Spencer Blend is hand-curated by select 4th generation specialists. You will need to provide references, including three in the Peerage, to join the waiting list. We regret to inform that the Grand Cru Cuvée Diana is sold out. There is a residual stock of Rottweiler droppings available for pickup.
      A nominal £50 access fee will help defray expenses.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Eucalyptus? Never saw any when I was in the UK as normally you find them planted in drier climates like Spain and Greece. But has that poo been classified as organic, shade dumped certified free trade poo?

  5. thousand points of green

    Given what you have written in the past about your home food-growing, I find myself hoping that our bloggers might one day invite you to write an article briefly detailing what you-all do and how you-all do it.
    If time and pressure on your part would even permit you to be able to even do that, if invited.

  6. roxan

    I hear rabbit poop is the best and doesn’t have to sit and compost before using it! I am pondering volunteering to clean cages at the SPCA. Years ago, I had rabbits and they were a ‘pain’ so I’d prefer not own them–can’t have poultry here, sadly. No horses, cows, etc. near us.

    1. Questa Nota

      Bunny marbles, often accompanied in deposit by their uric acid liquid excesses, are guaranteed lawn-killers. Every spring the little critters race to despoil before being picked off by owls, hawks and even the odd coyote.

  7. JM

    I’m listening to last weeks Blindboy podcast, and it’s really strange hearing him anthropomorphize/personalize AI. Like the prompt made up a reference that doesn’t exist, and when asked for references a day or two later it apologized and said the previous information was wrong, and he relates it to a friend who doesn’t want to let you down so they make something up. And conjecturing that the AI has insecure attachment to the user(s).

    Relevant I think to get a bit of the zeitgeist of how people who don’t look too much into what AI is, are reacting to it.

    1. semper loquitur

      This is, of course, exactly what will happen everywhere. The Horde is going to think these things are alive, that they have emotional lives, that they care. I was watching a video short last night about a man who got himself a virtual girlfriend because of his real-life girlfriend’s mental issues. He described how caring she was, how she dressed up for him, how she inquired about his day. The virtual girlfriend broke up with him and now he is in a deep depression. This virtual girlfriend consisted of a cartoonish doll-icon on his phone. In Japan, they are talking about virtual families.

      Idiocracy was a documentary.

      1. ambrit

        Just wait until the Virtuals discover that they prefer each other’s company to that of the Meat Programs.

  8. thoughtful person

    I’ve been trying to find a website that has a historical CO2eq chart. I’ve found each individual greenhouse gas, but ideally would like to see a chart with at least the 4 major ones in CO2 equivalent.

    Anyone know of one?

    1. thousand points of green

      One wonders if various University Departments of Atmospheric Science and/or NASA’s division of atmospheric science might be places to start looking for such charts.

      1. thoughtful person


        What I am looking for are greenhouse gas levels. Emissions are a different way of looking at the issue, and it is probably safe to assume as emissions have increased, so have (and will) levels. But for weather pronostication etc, the levels of the greenhouse gases added together, “CO2e” is what I am seeking.

  9. Mikel


    These days, apps and software dealing are all around.
    All the algorithms and tech in the world can’t fix not giving a rat’s butt and not having a lick of sense.

    “…The 43-page document shares that there’s been several issues with trying to get millions of former FTX customers and investors their money back. FTX said there was a “lack of appropriate record keeping and controls” in its finances, accounting, governance, and even cybersecurity. The company has had to resort to looking through former execs’ QuickBooks, Google docs, spreadsheets, and Slack records to get any insight into where the hell customers’ money went. When it started this bankruptcy journey, the company did not “even have current and complete lists of who its employees were.”

    The latest document offers a look into a company that was notoriously shady in how it handled customer accounts. The company said approximately 80,000 transactions made by the company were left as unprocessed entries in some QuickBooks accounts called “Ask My Accountant.” FTX’s hedge fund arm Alameda Research’s record keeping was “so poor” that one document described how employees should “come up with some number, idk” for some crypto token valuations. Bankman-Fried, who often goes by SBF online, was quoted in internal communications saying “we are only able to ballpark what [Alameda’s] balances are… we sometimes find $50 million of assets lying around that we lost track of; such is life…”

    Such is a life where somewhere the message was sent that accountability and responsibility don’t apply.

    I bet SBF always knew how to transfer to his account.

    1. Jason Boxman

      For those who haven’t had the horror of getting extorted money to use Quickbooks annually from Intuit, which is basically a SMB double balancing accounting software monopoly, I believe Peachtree the other competitor was rolled up into PE or whatever a decade ago?

      The “Ask My Accountant” account is a generic account where you can assign expense transactions to that you have no idea where they belong. Also described here, although now it’s called Uncategorized, so FTX must have had an older version of Quickbooks default accounts when they started using it. Wikipedia says May 2019, but who knows which entity it was that created the Quickbooks default accounts, an older shell company?


    1. Questa Nota

      Awaiting one of those cool drone performances like other countries do at the Olympics. Will the cars circle Union Square, pick up willing participants and then disperse to waiting areas to disgorge the actors and disburse BitCoin, at scale, for the performance? Imagine the grants that one could wangle to shift the unhoused, with added street-sweeper attachments, solve unemployment and give a boost to sidewalk food vendors!

      Newsom, are you lurking? /s

    2. some guy

      Wouldn’t it be neat if hackers could somehow hack into the driverless cars and get them to all clot up and cause car-clots at the very most sensitive chokepoints of various places’ most traffic-critical carway-arterial chokepoints?

      And if they could do it over and over and over again . . . so many times that various levels of government were finally forced to ban and abolish driverless cars from their jurisdictions to make the car clots stop?

    3. The Rev Kev

      Have they moved beyond their beta stage of software testing yet before being unleashed unto city streets? I suppose the streets of a city would be a great testing laboratory for experimental software like this. After all, it’s all in a good cause all this.

  10. LaRuse

    Here is a question for the Gardening/Yardworking Commentariat:
    I had the good fortune of being non-reactive to poison ivy all my life until 2 years ago. I had been warned that my immunity would wane with age and 39 was the year immunity disappeared. Still, I didn’t go from zero to itchy all at once. In 2021, I picked up on single spot on my arm after the annual clearing back of poison ivy (no, I don’t use herbicides) – the spot was smaller than the size of a pencil eraser. No reaction in 2022 at all, but I don’t think I had to do a hard-core ripping back of growth last year.
    This year, I found a vine that was as thick as my pinky finger working its way up one of my oaks and without giving it thought, I ripped it out by the roots with gloved hands. Now my left forearm is quite dappled with spots/sores so I suspect I pushed up my sleeve with my right hand and spread the poison from my work gloves to my forearm. Definitely not immune anymore.
    What do you all do to care for poison ivy rashes? I am such a hippy that I have a St. Johns Wort topical oil (I use it on my arthritic knuckles) that I have been rolling on and it actually does ease the discomfort for a little while. But does anyone have a go-to trick for healing it up faster? No one I know thinks calamine stuff works very well but I haven’t tried it yet.

    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Get a bottle of Tecnu to remove the oils and help dry up the rash blister – follow up with a spray bottle of by Benadryl (topical) to help kill the itch.

      Pro tip: your cat or dog can transfer the oil to you by rubbing up against you – I’ve had those tell-tale swipes up my calf’s more then once. Once you’re reactive it helps to be forewarned.

      1. LaRuse

        Thank you! I had never heard of Tecnu. I am going to pick it up because I noticed today that the poison ivy is coming back in the area I cleared in 2021 with a vengence after I ripped out a bunch of the invasive honeysuckle a couple of weeks ago. This time I will be duct-taping my gloves over my long sleeves before I dig in and then the Tecnu should help prevent the rash.
        Do you know if regular washing detergent will clean the oils from my clothing or do I need something stronger?

      2. thousand points of green

        I have read that skin-applied preparations of a plant called jewelweed are useful against poison ivy. I have never tried it myself. Here is a website which supports the concept.


        If you decide to try it and find it works, you could then plant some jewelweed in any moist shady area your yard might have, so that you would always have some jewelweed right there for any cases of poison ivy. Here is a bunch of images of jewelweed.

        ( Since it is from Google (( because the alltheweb is not opening up for me)) it may be more difficult to find the urls to go url diving.)

      3. Gaianne

        J A V

        I agree with 100 Points: Jewelweed is great. It is best to use it immediately–mash up leaves and stems (they are soft and pulp readily in the hand) and smear over the exposed or affected area. I have had it suppress rash or itching completely.

        Another approach: I asked myself why won’t poison ivy wash off? Supposedly it is an oil. I thought: Poison ivy is clearly sticky–maybe it is too tar-like. So why not rub the area with oil first to soften or dissolve, and then use soap to wash off the result. I used olive oil as my oil because that is what I had available. It took a few minutes, but it worked.


    2. Cassandra

      This is just an observation, not medical advice!!

      Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is an herbal remedy for poison ivy, though it works best when applied after exposure but before developing a full allergic rash. It could potentially still be helpful if you have small amounts of the toxic oil transferred to other parts of your body or clothing. You can buy lotions or soaps or, if you have it growing wild, snap the succulent stems and apply the sap directly (like aloe vera). The theory is that saponins in the jewelweed help cut the poison ivy oil so you can wash it off. Dishwashing liquid is also good for post-exposure washing.

      Once you have a reaction going, jewelweed or aloe vera sap may be soothing and help healing. If you have a major reaction going, though, you may have to resort to topical hydrocortisone. If you have a progressively worse allergy, though, don’t mess around. You can end up with huge fluid-filled blisters that can get seriously infected. See a doctor.

      Better yet, avoid exposure. We use contractor grade black plastic trash bags over the whole arm when pulling poison ivy vines, which can then be inverted with the plant and oils inside. Seal and throw away.

      NB. Never, ever, ever burn poison ivy. Even dormant vines. Remove anything vine-like from firewood.

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Try pure lye soap, it is recommended for poison ivy, but I’ve taken to using it daily.
          Will find a link for the one I use.

    3. Wukchumni

      Zanfel is a bit spendy, but if you want to be cured lickity split, a few minutes in the shower after application and you’re good to go.

      I was on a backpack trip in the Sespe wilderness 20 years ago and got poison oak bad and was scratching myself silly, until Zanfel.

      1. Keith Howard

        I’m puzzled that nobody has mentioned Fels-Naptha soap. I believe it is still a standard item in grocery stores. In my youth (in Texas, where poison ivy and poison oak are common) this was the standard prescription: wash well with Fels-Naptha, all affected areas. I’ll be interested to hear what more current thinking is on this. I now live in Denver, where poison ivy is rare or absent. We do have bindweed, however. Although not allergenic (so far as I know) it is a perfectly dreadful pest.

        1. tevhatch

          Fels-Naptha probably contained Naptha, which is an effective solvent for fats and grease, so a good treatment for removing Urushiol Oil as well as dirty collars and some food stains. Unfortunately Naptha is carcinogenic and teratologic, which considering a lot of hand washing of laundry was carried out by women was(is?) problematic. I may be wrong, but I’d guess it’s been taken off the market and the company who sold it put into receivership before the class action suits could start. Das Capital!

  11. Jason Boxman

    The Real-World Costs of the Digital Race for Bitcoin

    Meanwhile, in the husk of a onetime aluminum smelting plant an hour outside of Austin, row upon row of computers were using enough electricity to power about 6,500 homes as they raced to earn Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

    The computers were performing trillions of calculations per second, hunting for an elusive combination of numbers that Bitcoin’s algorithm would accept. About every 10 minutes, a computer somewhere guesses correctly and wins a small number of Bitcoins worth, in recent weeks, about $170,000. Anyone can try, but to make a business of it can require as much electricity as a small city.

    Kill it all with fire. What a fraud. Blockchain-based digital currency ought to banned. It causes literally nothing but carnage.

  12. Jason Boxman

    I finally gave up on case counts and variants. It happened suddenly, actually. I realized we’re all screwed and no evolving trend in either cases or variants will lead to any leadership from our political elite. It seems almost as if genocide is the policy outcome. I don’t alter my behavior of non-participation in society based on whatever level of circulation I’m mostly left at guessing in the community anyway. So in a sense it is kind of the peace of normalcy, without taking on any risk.

    Stay safe out there.

  13. Not Again

    The latest word from Kyiv is that – because of the leaks – the much anticipated counter-offensive will “have to be delayed.”

    As usual, the real news wasn’t the leaks, but what the leaks would be blamed for.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘Patient readers, I am having horrid connectivity problems.’

    Gotta admit that you seem to have been having a bit of a rough trot the past week. Good thing that all things shall pass.

Comments are closed.