2:00PM Water Cooler 6/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am succeeding in getting my arms round the public relations debacle (and problematic science) that is the NIH’s Long Covid study, recently published in JAMA. So please talk amongst yourselves!

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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 EM:

EM: “I wanted to share this photo of my favorite early summer bloomer, the laceleaf elderberry. I love the pink blossom clusters in the morning sun floating on the purplish black leaves. Everything else has either bloomed early or does in summer.”

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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. britzklieg

          hahahaha! I’m stealing that…

          and imagining the song parody possibilities

          “Mamma mia, there he goes again
          Uh-oh, trippin’ on a sandbag…”

          yes, that’s cruel… and so is he.

      1. Judith

        Replying to myself: However, the People’s Party itself is going to require some more research. (See Margaret Kimberley’s twitter for some initial concerns.)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Maybe anybody who as actually exercised executive function has been so damaged we should never elect them. OTOH:

        The executive Power shall be vested in a

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Not sure where you were going with your “OTOH” invoking[?]:
          “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” — from Article 2, u.s. Constitution.

          1. skippy

            With extraordinary executive powers that were never rescinded as promised IMO … now permanent feature aka right are what again – ?????

    1. KLG

      Cornel West! Yes, I can wrap my head around that. Complete with a yard sign to make the neighbors crazy. Was first in line at a meeting in November to get a (second) copy of Race Matters signed. Brother Cornel did not want to stop talking to Brother KLG, even though the line was long. Problem is, he probably will not get on the ballot in this state, the former 13th Colony. Alas.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Another data point on the campaign: an interview of RFKJ by Charles Eisenstein. Eisenstein is tha author of The Ascent of Humanity, a grand overview of the development of the human race with a focus on our alienation from Nature, along with several other books on alternative economic systems including gift economies, the influence of worldview on society and politics, and an argument for a different way of approaching the climate situation.

      When Covid hit, Eisenstein wrote some pieces attacking lockdowns and what he saw as excessive Covid fear. Naturally, he came into contact with RFKJ and an affinity developed. Eisenstein, in later Youtubes, seems to think he’s part of RFKJ’s campaign at this point.

      In any case, I listened all the way through and found it interesting. RFKJ reveals several interesting things about influences on him.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe the Sanders campaigns had enough money from small donations to launch credible campaigns, and yet both campaigns were effectively knee-capped by the DNC before they got off the ground — and Sanders effectively abandoned the base supporting his campaigns. After the elections, Sanders acted as if he his wings had been savagely clipped. He can still sing occasionally — so long as his songs are short and carry but little wind — but he cannot fly.

      Cornell West may be able to obtain enough money from small donations to launch a credible campaign, and as a third party candidate I believe he can avoid the most direct assaults from the DNC, although there are considerable hurdles to ballot access confronting a third party. I am curious whether money for a campaign is the only or even the most important place that money affects the u.s. political process. Even without the opening provided by the Citizens United decision, I believe there are considerable other avenues through which money and vested interests control Political Power in the u.s.

      If Cornell West were elected, I wonder what sort of power he might exercise as a third party candidate. I recall one of Howard Zinn’s speeches where he described the powers President Woodrow Wilson exercised to assure the safe passage of the policies he wanted. As head of the democratic party, Wilson re-organized the committee structures in the democratic party controlled Senate and House. I remember hearing about this in Howard Zinn’s lecture:
      “The South and National Politics” https://www.alternativeradio.org/products/zinh043/

      1. ashley

        i think the DNC will block him from the ballots. or some kind of identity politics smear “cornell west hates trans people because hes bidens spoiler!”

        if there were ever a time for a third party candidate to shine… it would be now. i wont get my hopes up, too much money entrenched in the system (and i dont mean money in politics, i mean money buying politicians). if he gets anywhere near the presidency he’ll meet an untimely end somehow.

        also, re sanders, almost positive he was threatened in his meeting with obama back during the end of the 2016 primary…

    4. chris

      God damn! Praise the lord and pass the ammunition! Thank you for sharing this. Someone I can vote for in this awful election. Not only that, someone who when I tell other people I’m voting for them, it will twist their stupid minds in knots. What will the DNC say about this? Don’t listen to the black man who cares about the poor? Don’t vote for the guy who articulated everything Democrats are supposed to stand for better than anyone currently in office?

      I’m sure they’ll just ignore him. But I won’t.

  1. griffen

    Apple is having a big conference event today and CNBC is, or has been all over their latest iOS release. I confess only a passing interest, as their lead in the biggest market cap technology race grows slightly as far as I know. Oh and there is a new product release, a VR headset.

    I once owned an iMac, newly purchased in 2006. I think by about 2015 the OS updates had stopped, and or possibly I was resigned to knowing the usefulness of this machine was at an end. Overall I was pretty pleased with the experience.

    1. Angie Neer

      My computer of choice is the 2012 Mac Mini. I have one I bought new, plus several more I bought used a few years ago for my home-based business. I put solid state disks in all, which made them much faster than the old days, and they’ve all been completely reliable.

      1. Appleseed

        Agreed. A fine functional tool. I use two at home: one for work and one for my iTunes library.

    2. Bart Hansen

      Apple periodically changes its OS families such that older computers can not receive updates. I am in that boat with my old iPhone 5 which has me frozen on iOS 15. Need to get a newer phone.

  2. Rick

    Has anybody read Jonathan Howard’s We Want Them Infected?

    I found it surprisingly readable. Not a not of news for NC readers, but interesting tidbits.

    The problem I have is his relentlessly pro-vax position, especially for children. I also feel he falls into the same cognitive error he criticizes others for (fallacy of relative privation) by saying it’s not so bad if kids get infected if they’re vaxed because they aren’t as likely to die (leaving out the question of to what extent that is true, as well as the long term effects). Seems to be unquestioned that we all will get infected, and NPIs are not prominent.

    On page 318 he writes “19 children is a large number of children to die of a vaccine-preventable disease…” [emphasis added].

    I don’t believe there is much support for the idea the current SARS-CoV-2 vaccine prevents infection and that is an important aspect of the discussion.

    I am an old person with some of those dreaded ‘pre-existing conditions’ and have been vaccinated (Janssen and bi-valent). It’s annoying that I can’t get a Novavax booster, much less the Abdala vax.

  3. Hepativore

    So, Union Joe shafts labor unions again in the wake of the Supreme Court decision of allowing companies to sue unions for damages in the wake of Glacier Northwest vs. the Teamsters.


    I am so tempted to vote for Trump if I was not already going to vote third party in the presidential election. It is not that I am saying Trump was a great president, just that Biden has actually been worse and I am looking at this from a harm reduction standpoint. Plus, you will not actually getting Biden for president in 2024 even if he manages to win the race, but Kamala Harris, who is basically Hillary Clinton 2.0.

      1. chris

        Hillary could probably work a Martha style revival. But who would be her D-O-double G?

        Don’t say Obama!

  4. notabanker

    Awesome plantidote. I just planted a few elderberries, two of them Black lace, and they have their first flowers of the year just starting to pop.

      1. Angie Neer

        Lambert, I’m a huge fan of the plant photos. Thanks for featuring them. But they seem to suffer from what I assume is an artifact of compression: a smattering of many black pixels in areas with a lot of contrasty detail. This photo shows it particularly strongly—at least on my display. Lord knows you have much more important details to look after, but I wonder if you have any control over that.

        1. NYT_Memes

          Plant photo black pixels: The photo was taken with an iPhone 8 so photo quality is not pro level.

          Late reply but I just got back to NC this morning.

          1. Angie Neer

            NYT_Memes, thanks for the photo. The effect I’m referring to is not due to your phone. It affects all the plant photos, including ones I’ve submitted.

    1. ambrit

      Here in the North American Deep South we have lots of plain old white flower elderberry bushes. They grow wild here and are everywhere in this older inner ring suburb. They have been flowering for nearly a month already and the early bloomers are already setting fruit. It is always a race against the birds to harvest ripe elderberries. {Take a ladder. They grow pretty tall.}
      One mid-sized bush grows outside the kitchen window opposite the sink. It is a constant nature show: anole lizards chasing bugs, various birds doing the same, Cardinals hopping about the branches, catbirds, finches, even a Baltimore Oriole once. (He must have been “on the bench” for a while.)
      Home made elderberry anything is tasty. Collect those berries! They’re good for you!

      1. anon in so cal

        That’s the kind out West, also. The flowers have a great spicey fragrance.

    2. outside observer

      I might have bought the wrong variety, but my experience with elderberry was similar to bamboo – it tried to overtake the yard. A lot of work to finally uproot all of it.

  5. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s)

    Could this weekend’s wreck in India happen here?

    Emergency crews respond to train derailment in Nashville

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Emergency crews responded to a train derailment in Nashville Monday morning.

    Crews were dispatched at about 6:30 a.m. to Veritas Street and Seaboard Drive for reports of a train derailment. The Nashville Fire Department (NFD) said a locomotive tank derailed in the Radnor Rail Yard, causing a hole and fuel to leak.


    Train derailment in rural southern Oklahoma leaves no injuries, deaths or chemical waste

    No injuries or deaths were reported following investigations into a train derailment in Marlow Sunday afternoon.

    No timeline is available for the crash, but the City of Marlow confirmed in a Facebook post that no hazardous chemicals were involved in the derailment.


    1. hunkerdown

      “Train derailment in rural southern Oklahoma leaves no injuries, deaths or chemical waste”

      New and Improved Derailments. Thanks, Biden! Thanks, PMC!

  6. notabanker

    Crapification of YouTube:
    The pay to play edition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wykUYpWa5TA

    Algo suddenly stops promoting your videos? No worries, you can pay us to fix that.

    How to earn a sidegig with bogus copywrite claims: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inr-hBiVHCw

    I would bet a good sum of Wuk’s money that these copywrite shenanigans are being driven by PE firms.

    I use YT quite a bit. If you need to fix stuff, or play an instrument or just really want to deep dive into hobby, there is tons of useful content out there. But at the same time, a lot of these self proclaimed content creators are really nothing more than glorified gofundme’s and it seems it is just a matter of time before the gig is up. If your business depends on a platform…….

    1. Walter

      I recently watched a Youtube video by Kyle Hill:
      where he claims that there are numerous heavily AI-assisted youtube channels producing science videos, sometimes more than one a day. He believes that the reliability is poor, that these are fundamentally a scam to extract clicks and revenue from the science video market, and that they will seriously threaten mere human Youtubers. Caveat: I don’t know Mr. Hill’s background, but a quick look at his titles show a fair bit of provocative stuff.

      So I filed it under “That’s interesting.” A day later Youtube recommended a video from “Future Space” about the impending explosion of the Yellowstone caldera, with a 100 foot wide fissure that has opened up—fact-checkers haven’t seen this crack yet, donowhy. Future Space has been posting videos VERY rapidly, does not seem to have an identifiable human presenter, and this video had some questionable bits (for example, confusion between the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as the crack). I haven’t looked deeply, but I don’t think the channel acknowledges use of AI.

      Anyhow, I stepped in it, and I’m sharin’.

      1. ambrit

        “Future Space” seems to be a form of ‘YouTube Scraper.’ Another is “Future Unity.”
        It pulls “content” from other sites and runs obviously AI voiced “What If” type of programs.
        As in: “Could it be possible that the Silurians actually built the Grand Canyon? And why would they do it? We explore the possible reasons for the Silurian Geo-engineering Hypothesis.”
        I’m wondering if this is a series of examples of ChatGPT “Programming” in action.
        As Joe Dallesandro says in “Andy Warhol’s Dracula,’ “Uh, I dunno about this Dracula cat.”

        1. Walter

          Thanks. I was not familiar with “YouTube Scrapers” but apparently there are many tools to do the scraping.

          Future Space and Future Unity have similar (and peculiar) logos. I think Future Unity was mentioned in one of the Yellowstone fact checks.

          If a horrible monster comes out of the Grand Canyon to eat these people, I’m going to offer it relish.

  7. John

    I have hazy memories of the uproar preceding … and following … the passage of Taft-Hartley in 1947. That was the first counter attack against the 1935 Wagner Act. The anti-labor, i.e. Capitalist or neo-liberal, take your pick, forces are relentless in their desire to take us back at least to the 1920s although with the general disregard for anti-monopoly laws perhaps the next stop is before the Sherman Act.

    The regressive instinct of the majority in this iteration of the Supreme Court can be counted to tread steadily into the past.

    1. barefoot charley

      The Supreme Originalists wish to restore the intentions of our founding oligarchs, whose Constitution assumed the states would continue to prevent white manhood suffrage. But when their rich man’s republic became democratic, that didn’t change anyone’s intention, right?

      1. pretzelattack

        oddly, they don’t share the founding white guys’ immense suspicion of corporations.

    1. ForFawkesSakes

      IMO, this is a military funding ploy with the bonus of distracting from the multitude of failures of the empire in decline. They’re just throwing anything out there anymore.

    2. Robert Hahl

      If UFO’s are real, it would mean that industrial civilizations can survive global warming, technology can solve all problems like fusion power generators, and nuclear war can be averted. So why worry? There is no need to do anything rash to survive.

    1. Hepativore

      The only thing is, though, does not every country have its own narrative of nationalism, unity, and the pride that goes with it? It would seem like it is baked into a country’s very identity as a nation-state.

      The US is only noteworthy in the sense that it has had the means and capital to act as a superpower on the world stage for the past few decades because of taking advantage of the post-WWII boom. Whomever takes over after the US’ failing hegemony will probably waste no time in trying to set up a hegemony of its own, and it will also go to the future empire’s head in a few decades where it will then wind down as it makes the same mistakes that every empire has made in the past.

      I am not sure how we can get out of this endless cycle of rising and falling empires as it seems to come from humanity’s innate desire for power, gifted to us from our violent and territorial great ape ancestors.

  8. The Rev Kev

    Nikki Haley being Nikki Haley-

    ‘When Ukraine wins, that sends a message to China with Taiwan, it sends a message to Iran that wants to build a bomb, it sends a message to North Korea testing ballistic missiles, it sends a message to Russia that it’s over.”

    “It is in the best interests of America, it is in the best interests of our national security for Ukraine to win. We have to see this through, we have to finish it.

    A win for Ukraine is a win for all of us, because tyrants tell us exactly what they’re gonna do,” Haley continued, claiming “Russia said Poland and the Baltics are next,” should Ukraine fall. “If that happens, we’re looking at a world war,” she repeated.’


  9. Tom Stone

    The Magnolias are coming into bloom and there’s a row of 12 along my side of Farmer’s lane that is perfuming the neighborhood.
    And the artichokes this year are flurishing to a degree I have never before witnessed, there’s a house with half a dozen in the front yard along Montgomery, the tallest of the bunch is more than 10′ tall.
    LOTS of growth this year and less high weed management than usual, it’s going to be a hellish fire season in California unless we get lucky…and I’m not feeling lucky.

  10. Glen

    The Youtube World War Two channel is doing a “real time” replay of D-Day, June 6th. This is by Indy Neidell and a whole team of people. It’s been a “real time” presentation so, just like the war itself, they’ve been at this for over three years.

    Invasion by Air – D-Day [Part 1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0AKc7xxQQk

    This is pretty much the same team that earlier did the video series The Great War Channel. They seem to be doing a very good job of re-telling history in a factual manner without too much of a bias, and with some excellent digging in, presenting more textured details.

    Given what’s going on in Ukraine, it can be used to learn more about some of the pre-history that got us to where we are today with NATO/Europe, and Russia.

  11. Jason Boxman

    S.E.C. Accuses Binance of Mishandling Funds and Lying to Regulators

    The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday accused Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, of mishandling customer funds and lying to American regulators and investors about its operations, in a sweeping case that has the potential to remake the landscape of power and wealth within crypto.

    The S.E.C.’s lawsuit was the second time this year that federal regulators have accused Binance of evading laws designed to protect investors in the United States. Regulators have long seen the exchange, which has said it does $65 billion in average daily trading volume, as a major target in their quest to bring to heel a crypto industry that has been built around an explicitly anti-government ethos.

    Oh, and it seems like Binance is an even bigger scam, as it might not even be a real blockchain:

    Binance Built a Blockchain, Except it Didn’t

    For all its claims of promoting decentralization, Binance runs two “blockchains” that are not just highly centralized, but regularly alter history, undermining one of the core tenets of the blockchain — immutability.

  12. Jason Boxman

    So I was curious and found “LAEH Formulation Nasal Spray to Reduce Viral Load“, which is the clinical trial for Covixyl.

    The Covixyl-V LAEH Nasal Spray’s safety and efficay is clinically tested for use in subjects with COVID-19 infection.

    A randomized, double-blind, multi-center study is conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ethyl lauroyl arginate hydrochloride (LAEH) formulation versus a matching placebo formulation administered as a nasal spray to reduce viral load from nasal area of subjects with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    Sadly, it’s a small small small trial. I wish a larger trial were conducted, simply because you’d probably get a higher confidence in the result:

    In the study, 33 subjects were screened and 3 of them failed in screening tests. Total 30 subjects were enrolled in the study. Out of these 30 enrolled subjects, 15 subjects were randomized to Covixyl-V group and 15 subjects were randomized to placebo group

    The 78 page clinical study report is available: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ProvidedDocs/13/NCT05768113/Prot_SAP_000.pdf

    Interpreting these is way beyond my pay grade. The report is dated almost 18 months ago. These things take a long, long time when they aren’t rushed ahead like the COVID shots. So much for Biden’s moonshot. Oh, that was for cancer.

    Sadly can’t copy and paste, but:

    Therefore, this present clinical study was designed to assess the efficacy and safety of LAEH formulation versus a matching placebo formulation administered as a Nasal Spray to reduce viral load from nasal area of subjects with COVID-19.

    So, for this at least, my takeaway is that they tested on people that are already infected. I really wanted to know if this is useful to actually prevent infection to some degree. Maybe there’s another study that does this, I dunno, I can’t tell.

    They do find it effective in early treatment of COVID-19 based on PCR results. So there’s that.

    I found no other studies associated with this company at clinicaltrials.gov.

    So don’t buy this stuff and go nuts out in the world, as I considered. That would be a grave unforced error.

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