2:00PM Water Cooler 6/15/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be truncated, as I must finish up two other posts. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert UPDATE The first, on Amazonia. The second, on the trillion dollar platinum coin.

Bird Song of the Day

Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Bosque Estatal de Maricao, Puerto Rico. “Song.”

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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 DC:

DC writes: “We pulled the carrots/planted tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant today. This photo is the carrot harvest, with a daikon on top. Music Garlic and Derby snap beans can also be seen in the picture.” In April (!). Liking that mulch.

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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. ambrit

    Carrots from a raised bed plot. Ticking all of the right boxes there.
    Are those garlic in the foreground? The use of straw mulch ads Extra Bonus points.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      those look good.
      and remember that the tops are edible and nutritious.
      i put em in everything.
      i do my carrots in containers, b/c i loathe hoeing and rows in general.
      aside from the million black pots of varying sizes(obtained from estate sale for nothing) which are for tree cuttings and acorns and seeding tomatoes, etc..i use lick tubs…that ranchers use for minerals for cows.
      drill holes in them.
      sand at the bottom, compost the rest of the way.
      all my raised beds are for the bigger plants…planted directly into the mat of cover crops.

      1. Hepativore

        Can you grow quince and Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) where you live in Texas? You can up here in the Upper Midwest, but the latter is very slow-growing, and with where I live now, my landlord does not allow us to have gardens. I am trying to move up to northwestern Michigan as it is Zone 6 up there as opposed to Zone 4 where I live, as I want to be in a place in the Upper Midwest that I can grow Asian persimmons in.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          prolly gets too hot here(100 miles northwest of austin), but we used to grow both in east texas.
          high heat has started already, this year.
          so when the seed packet says “full sun”,lol….
          i do cukes under…and all up in…the juvenile pecan trees, etc in big pots…shady, but the leaves poke out from the pecan canopy.
          same thing with green beans, after about april.
          arranged all the raised beds so that they’re shady after 2pm.
          by the middle of july, there will be no point in continuing,lol.
          start all over in september, usually with rooted cuttings from this summer’s tomatoes, etc.

          1. Hepativore

            Our summers are short but they are usually very hot and humid, as we often see temperatures in the 90’s and high-80’s…although we also get a lot of thunderstorms during the summer, so things usually do not dry out.

            One advantage of living in a humid continental climate “hot summer” variant is that our weather is never boring.

          2. ambrit

            Over here in the other North American Deep South I like to “acquire” grass clippings for my mulch over growing beds. Don’t ask me why. It ‘feels’ a lot easier to deal with.
            “High Heat(TM)” has started here as well. We are looking at high nineties with high humidity to boot. A summer rain pattern seems to have developed already. Pop up thunderstorms, but much stronger than the historical average, most afternoons.
            Had a storm blow through yesterday just before twilight. Several trees blown over in our neighborhood. Localized flooding is now a regular occurrence.
            Stay safe!

    2. doug

      Thank you. Music garlic in the foreground. I am in a wheelchair so raised beds work well. I am big believer in straw mulch. It needs to be removed a few days before planting seeds to rid the area of slugs/crickets. Otherwise thick straw. Those Derby green beans are now producing and we have fresh dill for them.

      1. ambrit

        Good work! There is nothing in the stores that can compete with home grown for quality and flavour.
        Some plain old bush beans I planted have grown up the garden side fence. When the neighbor is away I’ll nip on over and harvest those dangling from that side.
        Good to see that you let nothing stop you. Phyl is in a wheelchair and laughed. “See. He gardens in his wheelchair. With the proper will….”
        Kudos from the Sothrons.
        Stay safe and healthy.

        1. doug

          Thank you. To be clear the gardening is performed by two of us. We both have always enjoyed gardening, both vegetable and ornamental. And I can easily break into a very poor rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Homegrown’ when picking those beans.

    1. Screwball

      These people are nuts.

      I have also read various Twitter accounts saying the US has sent fighter jets to the middle east due to Russian aircraft.

      I don’t know if I read it here, or elsewhere, but someone suggested Biden’s 2024 campaign slogan should be “nuclear winter will solve climate change.”

      Note to Biden et al; WWIII will not get you re-elected.

    2. flora

      adding: most of Hersh’s article discusses the recent essay by Sergei Karaganov. Here is Hersh’s introduction to readers of who Karaganov’s is in context.

      ‘Meanwhile, there has been an escalation in rhetoric about the war and its possible consequences from within Russia. It can be observed in an essay published in Russian and English on June 13 by Sergei A. Karaganov, an academic in Moscow who is chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. Karaganov is known to be close to Putin; he is taken seriously by some journalists in the West, most notably by Serge Schmemann, a longtime Moscow correspondent for the New York Times and now a member of the Times editorial board. Like me, he spent his early years as a journalist for the Associated Press. ‘

      And here is Karaganov’s essay.

      A Difficult but Necessary Decision


      I wonder if Mearsheimer finds anything surprising in the outlook expressed in this essay.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Schmemann’s reporting on the Soviet Union for the Times was always a reliable gauge of official and received opinion; like the Spookiverse where he cultivated sources, he too was impervious to any inkling of rapid Soviet decline.

        His opinions should transact at a very high discount.

      2. Carolinian

        That link is a bit wackadoo and I seriously doubt it reflects the views of Putin who does not seem irrational.

        I also think Biden will not do anything that would threaten his coming campaign and this is the view of Alastair Crooke and many others. They think Biden just wants it all to go away for awhile, perhaps to be resumed later. But the original expectation was that Russia would easily collapse so they could move on to China. And because they believe their own bs that is still the expectation at least for a few more months.

      3. jumbo baines

        Interestingly, he’s rather tied in to ostensibly “western” organizations, albeit those that are quite internationalist in nature.

        From Wikipedia:

        “Karaganov has been a member of the Trilateral Commission since 1998, and served on the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.”

  2. none

    Tired: you and your date both get tested for STD’s before having sex.

    Wired: both get tested for Covid before meeting indoors without masks.

    1. ambrit

      Quired: Your daughter’s divorce attorney subpoenas you for a DNA sample for a paternity test. Much more of this and somebody’s going to get reamed.

  3. EGrise

    Regarding Lambert’s oft-expressed frustration with the ens***ification of Google, this is from the developer of the Apollo app, whose decision to shut down helped trigger the Reddit blackouts:

    As a side note, I wanted to Google Reddit’s old API policy. When I went to do so, every single result was an article about the API changes, and none of these articles discussed what the old API costs were. This is a direct result of search engines becoming a battle royale of publishers gaming the system for top results, rather than anything approaching a useful tool. It took me going on Twitter and asking my followers to actually get the answer.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It’s going to get worse. The UK is getting ready to supply the Ukraine with heavy drones that can drop a torpedo.

      ‘On Wednesday, the ministry released a video on Twitter featuring several types of drones. One was seen dropping a torpedo over the water, while another was shown taking off from land while being guided by an operator, and a third was catapulted off a navy vessel deck.’


      I don’t know how they are going to do it but they are going to make the UK pay when this war is over.

  4. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Nothing in the media, but this is great:

    Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Railroads has ‘no jurisdiction’ over train derailment incidents

    Village of Howard Public Works Director Geoff Farr confirmed the train derailed on Sunday, and now, public works is in the process of cleaning it up.

    Farr said he didn’t know the cause of the derailment, but he believes there were no hazardous materials being carried on the train. However, he said the village doesn’t have much information on the incident.
    Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Railroads Don Vruwink said since Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad owns the railroad, Vruwink’s office does not have legal power over the tracks, despite what people might think.

    He said their office’s job is to be proactive for and regulate safety at public railroad crossings.


    1. upstater

      Here’s a good one… the railroad line back in service the day after the derailment, but the public highway out of service for almost a month.

      Minnesota highway remains closed from May 31 derailment

      LANCASTER, Minn. — A section of U.S. Route 59 remains closed near the Canadian border more than two weeks after the derailment of a CPKC freight train, and clean-up efforts will keep it closed for most of another week.

      The derailment of 24 cars of the CPKC train took place on May 31 about 9½ miles south of the Canadian border [see “CP train derails in Minnesota …,” Trains News Wire, June 1, 2023]. Subsequent information determined that included 13 tank cars carrying hazardous materials. KFGO Radio reports that Kittson County, Minn., Emergency Director Scott Olson says the contents of those cars are now being removed, and the cars’ proximity to the highway is a safety issue.

      Once the cars are emptied, they will be cleaned, dismantled, and trucked to a salvage business in Thief River Falls, Minn., about 60 miles away.

      Cars containing grain and non-hazardous cargo have been moved away from the site. The rail line was reopened the day after the derailment, Olson said.

      The Kittson County Enterprise reports Route 59 will remain closed through June 21; once the derailment is cleared, the highway will require repairs. Vehicles continue to use an approximately 10-mile detour involving State Route 174 and County Road 5.

      The state of Minnesota and Canadian Pacific have their priorities, don’t they?

      Next up: the Rail Safety Act of 2023 will either be completely gutted (after lobbyists have relieved themselves) or not even brought up for a vote.

  5. Wukchumni

    Was at beautiful Round Meadow in Sequoia NP, and only 1 of the 2 bathrooms was open, and it had no TP and 1/2 an inch of standing water on the ground.

    These are our national treasures, our National Parks-you wouldn’t have known it yesterday.

    No excuse for lack of upkeep!

  6. Jason Boxman

    The Moral Crisis of America’s Doctors

    The corporatization of health care has changed the practice of medicine, causing many physicians to feel alienated from their work.

    Some years ago, a psychiatrist named Wendy Dean read an article about a physician who died by suicide. Such deaths were distressingly common, she discovered. The suicide rate among doctors appeared to be even higher than the rate among active military members, a notion that startled Dean, who was then working as an administrator at a U.S. Army medical research center in Maryland.

    Because markets. Go die.

  7. Tom Stone

    Covid related?
    I had a spinal fusion earlier this Month and as a consequence stopped taking a blood thinner a week prior and for a week after the procedure.
    Which I did.
    When I tried to order a refill using the automated system I got the auto response ” Not in our system”, so I tried calling the pharmacy direct and got through to a Human after only six tries.
    “Your Doctor cancellled the prescription”
    So I drove to the cardiologist’s office and after moving up the chain from the receptionist to the office manager got things cleared up in a little more than 30 minutes, it was a coding error by the Physician’s assistant.
    Yesterday I got a letter informing me that I needed to make a follow up appointment with the same cardiologist, which puzzled me because I already had such an appointment.
    So I called, clerical error, now straightened out.
    This office stopped masking earlier this year and had a sign on the door for several months asking patients to be patient because they were short staffed due to illness.
    Lots of persistent colds…
    I’ve been going to this office for 5 years and it has always been run “STRAC”, everything done by the numbers and on time.
    I was the only one there who was masked (P100) including several other elderly patients.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Tom, you’re a brave fellow to entrust yourself to our increasingly incompetent medical industry.

    1. Acacia

      Revised article title:

      Never-on-Netflix series “Grifting” tries to catch you up on decades of élite corruption and plunder — more than Saint O has time for

  8. The Rev Kev

    Seen on twitter-

    ‘The Perpetual Shadow Band 🏴‍☠️
    Me: I wasn’t going to vote at all, but I’d vote for Cornel West

    Lib: so you’re voting for Trump

    Me: that doesn’t even make any sense

    Lib: just admit you’re a racist

    Me: Dr West is black and Biden wrote the crime bill

    Lib: why do you hate democracy’


  9. Clark T

    It was encouraging to see Long Covid featured in a local news outlet, and I’d like to hear more about what this MD is doing with these patients. I’m a little concerned, however, if he’s suggesting that LC due to “acquired brain injury” or “ABI” (a term I’ve not run across before) is only correlated with anoxia from, say, being on a ventilator or even having respiratory distress. (Note: I don’t comment much and am not 100% that my link showed up. It’s on Nashville’s Newschannel5 today featuring a VU doctor.)

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