2:00PM Water Cooler 7/3/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, July 4 on a Tuesday throws this whole “three day weekend” concept out of whack. So I am going to pretend today is a day off — maybe, for you, it is! — and make today’s Water Cooler an open thread. Tomorrow, I will do a full Water Cooler, and you can peruse it after your lunchtime consumption of grilled meats or meat-like substances, accompanied by beverages. Talk amongst yourselves!

Bird Song of the Day

Florida Scrub-Jay, Lyonia Preserve, Volusia, Florida, United States.

“Annual Florida scrub-jay watch rallies volunteers in Central Florida” [Orlando Sentinel]. “The 360-acre Lyonia Preserve is part of a tract of land that was set aside for education in the mid-1800s. In 1990, [Stephen] Kintner was part of the Volusia County team that warded off a shopping-center development and ensured the long-term preservation of this land, which he said Deltona has adopted as its ‘Central Park.’ It’s an important part of the conservation picture for the Florida scrub-jay, a species that numbers about 60 individuals in 20 families within the preserve. Over a period of two weeks, Kintner joined fellow volunteers in contributing to a statewide Jay Watch through Audubon Florida, which rallies volunteers on about 46 sites through mid-July to take a population snapshot of the state’s only endemic bird….. ‘They have facial recognition and they will not forgive you for six months if you do something bad to them,’ Kintner said. Luckily, he’s been on their good side for quite some time.” • Neat project!

* * *

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 EMM:

EMM writes: “A few trees here.”

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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. ThirtyOne


    The rise of AI is also sending all these companies into a tizzy. Large language models from companies like OpenAI and Google are built on top of data collected from the open web. Suddenly, having all your users and content publicly available and easily found has gone from a growth hack to capitalistic suicide; companies around the industry are closing their walls, because they’re hoping to sell their data to AI providers rather than have it all scraped for free. Much of Reddit’s current chaos started with CEO Steve Huffman saying that the company realized that the platform is filled with good information, and “we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.” On Saturday, Elon Musk introduced Twitter’s new login gate and view count restrictions “to address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation.”


    1. chris

      It’s like watching a snake eat itself, isn’t it?

      What’s amusing is that all this sudden concern for data integrity and access is not coupled with anyone saying all these content creators laboring for the platforms should be paid for their efforts.

      1. hunkerdown

        If you really want to watch an AI snake eat itself, just seed the web with GPT-generated responses. Those who want to see more generated content online could be stealth influencing the alignment of new models.

        The Curse of Recursion: Training on Generated Data Makes Models Forget
        Ilia Shumailov, Zakhar Shumaylov, Yiren Zhao, Yarin Gal, Nicolas Papernot, Ross Anderson

        Stable Diffusion revolutionised image creation from descriptive text. GPT-2, GPT-3(.5) and GPT-4 demonstrated astonishing performance across a variety of language tasks. ChatGPT introduced such language models to the general public. It is now clear that large language models (LLMs) are here to stay, and will bring about drastic change in the whole ecosystem of online text and images. In this paper we consider what the future might hold. What will happen to GPT-{n} once LLMs contribute much of the language found online? We find that use of model-generated content in training causes irreversible defects in the resulting models, where tails of the original content distribution disappear. We refer to this effect as Model Collapse and show that it can occur in Variational Autoencoders, Gaussian Mixture Models and LLMs. We build theoretical intuition behind the phenomenon and portray its ubiquity amongst all learned generative models. We demonstrate that it has to be taken seriously if we are to sustain the benefits of training from large-scale data scraped from the web. Indeed, the value of data collected about genuine human interactions with systems will be increasingly valuable in the presence of content generated by LLMs in data crawled from the Internet.

          1. hunkerdown

            MSNBC epistemology: Hearing one’s own priors reflected back to oneself reinforces them, and also deprecates the very possibility that any other narrative might or could exist.

    2. fjallstrom

      That is what they say, but I am not sure.

      Considering that avoiding feedback seems crucial for chatbots, and that any post chatgpt text can be chatbot generated, I would presume that they already have scraped what they will scrape.

      I am leaning more towards social media quickly approaching the last step in Cory Doctorow’s crapification ladder. With interest rates going up, new investor money dries up, so established investors wants to see profits. Preferably yesterday.

      But Facebook and Google has already stitched up the ad market, and nobody has any other good idea on how to make social media profitable. So the CEO’s are flailing around trying to look like they do, in order to get their sweet CEO pay, power and benefits for as long as possible. And since they lack ideas they are coping each other.

      Reddit needed to get users on the official app (which I hear is bad) in order to pretend to be able to monetize them enough. So they blocked API and blamed AI. Twitter copied Reddit’s move and went one step further in banning doomscrolling without the blue checkmark (probably good for users mental health) and banned all none users from reading Twitter at all. One shot in each foot, right there.

      In the meantime Reddit is claiming that Twitter “proved” that you can fire half the staff.

      If you have anything useful on either of these sites (texts, contacts, links), you better move it off site as fast as you can. Personally, I am long popcorns.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > banning doomscrolling

        I doomscroll aplenty, and I have no Blue Checkmark. I wonder whether user experience varies by jurisdiction (since I log in through a VPN).

        > Cory Doctorow’s crapification ladder

        Enshittification, which is a process. Crapification (invented as a term by Yves) is a condition.

          1. JBird4049

            And ain’t it groovy that we now have two terms that perfectly encapsulates the modern condition?

            Not only do I not have my Jetsonian aircar, I don’t have the six hundred bucks that our Beloved Cabbage promised us, my hearing aids are still getting more, um… delicate with each new version; they are more feature-full, but their life expectancy keeps declining.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              I am afraid you may need to wait until 2049 before aircars become available. [I think that was the date posted on the last aircar-wait notice site.]

        1. fjallstrom

          I apparently don’t have a Twitter account any more (dormant for too long perhaps?), so I worked from Musk’s statement. Always a mistake to assume that what he says is true.

          Noted on the terminology, correction appreciated.

          I get that you have invested a lot of time in making Twitter useful for you. I practically abandoned my Twitter and Facebook accounts when I realised that my time invested in using Facebook was used by Facebook to manipulate my emotions to keep me on site.

          For me, the death of algorithmic media is mainly something to look forward to. A lot of people will lose texts, contacts and links but that was built into the enshittification process. Apparently my Twitter texts are already gone.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Yeah, they got their data. No reason to get more that’s tainted. This heist is complete. Just like no one can come in and be Uber or Airbnb again. Laws on the books for that stuff now. This is what move fast and break things means.

    3. Jason Boxman

      I see it as the greatest heist in history. Appropriating all the world’s content for free, not even, it burns bandwidth on both ends, and reselling it without attribution or royalties. It’s audacious.

  2. FlyoverBoy

    I’ll take this opportunity to seem the commentariat’s wisdom on nasal sprays.

    My wife and I are diligent maskers (with real masks, 94s, 95s and P100s). But she has a couple of personal and professional engagements upcoming that may leave her with no choice but to unmask for moments to hours, which leaves us both inquiring about the nasal sprays that have been discussed on this page.

    Last fall there was a helpful thread here about this. Obviously none of us is equipped to do a double-blind study that the Cochrane admirers among us know is the only real way to know anything. But the following have been discussed on these pages and meet my personal requirements that they 1) have some reason to believe they help, 2) haven’t been reported to burn your nose or quickly spoil like povidone iodine spray, and 3) seem to be available in less than weeks. Candidates mentioned on this page have included:

    • SaNotize (VirX) nasal spray, a nitric oxide-based prophylaxis, available on eBay
    • Viraleze(TM) a protective spray
    • Enovid, available on IsraelPharmacy for $45 with quick shipment when not back-ordered
    • Xlear Xyliton and Saline Nasal Spray
    • Nozin

    Anyone have any updates, satisfied usage, additional candidates that have helped you? Thanks for any and all experiences you can share.

    1. antidlc

      I’ve pretty much been a hermit the last three years, but the times i’ve had to go out (doctor, dentist), i have used Xlear Xylitol and Betadine mouthwash (thank you, NC, for the info on these products).

      I recently bought a small Westinghouse portable medical grade air purifier that I take with me:

      I have a family member who is extremely at risk so I have to do whatever I can.

      No problems so far.

      I was particularly worried about the dentist so I took some Betadine with me and gargled as soon as I got out to the car.

      1. Utah

        I am a teacher. I have an air purifier good up to 2500 SQ ft in my ~700 sq ft classroom and I’m religious about changing the filters every few months (my maintenance guy gets irritated with my requests, but other teachers aren’t changing theirs so I figure it evens out, also Salt Lake City has horrible air pollution so it gets dirty quickly.) I also bought a tiny carbon filter air purifier for about 100 SQ ft that I can plug into a battery pack. I’ve yet to use it. I’m traveling to Hawaii soon and am thinking about bringing it onto the airplane to give myself some fresh air for water breaks, but am unsure if that will be okay. I’ve al never used the nasal sprays, but I will use mouthwash after getting home during bad surges in the school because alcohol dessicates viruses. I’m also religious about using hand sanitizer because I’m pretty bad about touching my face/ eyes. So basically, I’m agreeing with the portable air purifier being an option. I’ve been teaching for two years and haven’t gotten COVID.

    2. SteveD

      I have used Enovid from IsraelPharm – price seems to have gone up significantly. For me it is only slightly unpleasant when first applied, then not noticeable. I have not been infected (that I am aware of). I consider it a good extra layer of protection if you find yourself having to be in an enclosed space for an extended period. I’ve also tried the Covixyl. Much, much less expensive, but for me it is a prolonged irritant.

    3. ChiGal

      I was very conservative for the first two years of the pandemic and about a year ago began using Enovid (which is also called SaNotize) and sparingly doing things like eating and listening to live music indoors unmasked for an hour or two. I follow the practice of spritzing before and after these forays and to date have neither tested positive nor shown symptoms.

      In my circle, we call it the “magic nose spray.” I highly recommend it based on the experience of those I know. I absolutely would not do the things I do without it.

    4. Basil Pesto

      I believe Sanotize and Enovid are the same, just different brand names in different markets? I might be wrong.

      I was using a povidone-iodine spray last year when I was infected – I think the infection came about through either a) outdoor exposure or b) using a Flo Mask Pro that I didn’t go to the trouble of fit testing. I would have sprayed ~1 hour before and after likely exposure. I haven’t bothered with PVP-I spray since.

      I use Enovid and an OTC spray with carrageenan available in Australia. I use them in hope more than expectation to be honest, and I think the evidence that they function as a useful prophylactic is pretty weak. Testimonials that Enovid put on their website, for example, of the “I used the spray and didn’t get infected” sort are pretty meaningless in the context of a hugely divergent and constantly changing population-wide immunity profile imo (as much as I hope ChiGal’s experienced above are generalisable to a much larger portion of the population!). As happened with Ivermectin, Covid provides many opportunities for small- and medium- pharma grift via overstating what their products are capable of, so I’m reluctant to give too much weight to the claims made by these companies without better evidence. That said, we don’t have many tools individually beyond respirators and the evidence *does* suggest some degree of plausible utility and low risk of harm so if you’re able to use them, why not. I wear masks indoors but do eat/drink outdoors fairly regularly – so relatively low risk but not non-existent – I haven’t had covid (or any other respo infection) since late July last year.

      1. FlyoverBoy

        Thanks very much to all of you.

        Basil, my experience has been a lot like yours, right down to paying too much money at the outset for doses of the I-word that I never used. We too have been doing lots of outdoor dining and socializing (and trying to get the table in the windward corner).

        I have the job of trying to find somebody who can consult with me and rent/deliver HEPA filters for a large indoor gathering next spring in a small space that I otherwise can neither control nor prevent. I don’t even know if such people and services exist, although I hope being in the same metro area as ChiGal improves my odds a bit.

    5. Will

      No real experience that I can offer, but thought I’d mention that in late January of this year, not late fall, Lambert did a summary of nasal vaccines and prophylaxis which perhaps you haven’t seen.


      Further, not on your list is Covixyl, which uses Ethyl Lauroyl Arginine Hydrochloride (ELAH), in a nasal spray. Both were mentioned early June in this Water Cooler:


      And Covixyl is available here:


      I have no personal experience with it and haven’t seen anybody mention it in comments.

      Finally, a study on polypropylene glycol (PG) was linked in Water Cooler a few months ago:


      In Canada, can find it in something called Rhinaris as a gel to be used to treat dryness and irritation inside your nostril.


      I bought the gel and have used it but can’t really credit it for avoiding Covid the last few months since when I have used it, I also wore a mask, etc. Also, the gel only comes at a 20% concentration of PG whereas the study clearly showed better protection from higher concentrations. The spray version of Rhinaris does have a higher concentration but instead of PG it uses polyethylene glycol. Since I didn’t know if it would have the same effect, I opted for the gel.

      Just as an addendum, when I was at the store looking at Rhinaris, I found it with many other products for treating dry nose. Most were saline washes but also various other “active” ingredients, like xylitol. Made me wonder if perhaps treatments for dry and irritated nostrils are generally applicable as aerosol infection prevention/minimization and at a lower price point than something marketed for Covid.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I found the approval study for Covixyl and it’s based on recovery from symptoms, not avoiding infection. So who knows.

        I’m skeptical that any of these really work without more data. I avoid participating in society.

    6. Duke of Prunes

      My wife and I were pretty avid xclear users. Before and after we’re forced to go out. We made it through all of the big waves, but let our guard down and she got it last Aug and me in Oct. It seemed to be waning back then so we were less vigilant and paid for it…

      Still avoiding big gatherings and crowds, especially indoors. I’d say my conclusion on xclear is i dont have one. The xclear does sting (kind of like eating strong horseradish) until you get used to it.

    7. GramSci

      My wife and I have been using povidone nasal spray since mid 2020 and and Enovid/SaNOtize since early 2021. We spritz before and after shopping, very occasional mid-week indoor dining, and fairly frequent visits with four school-age grandchildren. We now only mask in confined spaces (e.g., airplane travel, twice–once narrowly espcaping Europe in early March 2020.)

      So far we have not tested positive, but we haven’t been without virus-like episodes. I suspect the nasal sprays could have invalidated our nasal swabbing; for the last few months I have done *anal* swabs, but still have been testing negative.

      I think we’ve been lucky (we’re both 75+ and reclusive), but I *think* the nasal sprays help (N of 2, YMMV). Enovid/SaNOtize is pricey, so I’m thinking of only using povidone, which I now mix to 3%. That’s a “high” concentration, but unlike dentists who use it 3x per day, we only use it more like 5x per week.

    8. Acacia

      Got Xlear based on recommendations here at NC (thank you commentariat!).

      I use it when I go out to some busy place like a cafe or meeting room. Masking heavily, I haven’t gotten Covid since the epidemic began (unless it was asymptomatic, which I doubt).

      In my experience, Xlear has a slightly sweet smell. Doesn’t burn the nose. I can feel the nasal cavity inside is coated with something clear and slightly sticky. After two spritzes on each side, this coating seems to last for the better part of a day. The only slightly objectionable aspect is that if I apply it after lunch, the coating seems present when I go to sleep around midnight, and I often wake up feeling a bit congested. Needless to say, this is better than getting sick.

    9. Daryl

      Enovid, crest prohealth mouthwash (there’s a particular ingredient that is important, but that’s the brand I know that has it), I’ve taken to chewing xylitol gum (I don’t know if the xylitol makes any meaningful difference, but the artificial sweeteners usually used in gum give me terrible gas).

      That + masking, I’ve done overall OK. I did manage to get sick twice earlier this year after going through all of covid with no illness. Suspected colds due to symptoms and negative tests, my punishment for getting sloppy.

      I have no idea whether any of this stuff works, of course, but weighing the small cost of them vs. the cost of lifelong suffering from covid infection, seems worth a try.

      It is one of the many great crimes of this whole thing that we have some evidence simple things like this might aid in the prevention and treatment of viral illnesses but nobody has really followed up on it.

      I experimented also with “vitamin I” but as the evidence doesn’t seem to have borne out on that one, I stopped. But despite what the MSM promised, I had no ill effects from doing so.

    10. kareninca

      I use Xlear generously and take a claritin before I go out into the world; I even take two claritin in a day if I e.g. have to go to the dentist. I mask, but I did have to spend five days with my mom and her boyfriend and lots of visitors for a week in February, and did not mask then, and did not catch covid (I did take some black cumin oil capsules during that period). As far as I know I have never caught covid (I test weekly). I’m not vaccinated, and also take ivermectin about once a month (not medical advice).

  3. Roger Blakely

    I have not been listening to COVID-related podcasts on YouTube over the past month. That was a mistake. There is still good stuff coming out. This week on This Week In Virology Dr. Daniel Griffin discussed the Hong Kong study posted by Lambert today. The bottom line was that the only reason why anyone thinks that today’s variants are any less dangerous than the original variant is widespread immunity. Dr. Griffin also mentioned a stat from another expert indicating that COVID-19 is on track to kill 80,000 Americans in 2023.

    Dr. Osterholm said some good things on the Osterholm Update. He said that Japan is the only place in the world today dealing with a surge. Not necessarily related to Japan, he said that the lack of good surveillance data is making it impossible to determine whether surges are due to waning immunity or new variants. Other than in Japan, COVID numbers are low everywhere. We will see how long it lasts.

    1. Acacia

      Based upon some direct observation, I would venture that the surge in Japan is due to three things: (1) most people have stopped masking; (2) data collection has really dropped off, and only weekly numbers are available for some; (3) the numbers of Okinawa are especially bad, because the US military bases there are bringing Covid into the prefecture, and spreading it into local communities.

  4. GoneEast

    It felt good to leave our native state, California. The “San Francisco Family”, made up of corrupt public officials, idPol cutouts like Harris and Newsom, the arrests, federal incarceration (Mohammed Nuru S.F. D.P.W. director), all of it requires further parsing:
    It is important to keep in mind that there are two powerful factions of the California political mafia, the “Newsom” faction is old money(Getty’s, Guggenheims, Pritzker’), the “Aristocrats” of California politics and the other faction is the Willie Brown/Kamala Harris/London Breed faction.

    Pelosi and the husk of Feinstein are definitely among the Aristocrats.
    It’s not a perfect split but you can see the results of some of the infighting in the tasks Harris has been assigned because that split is mirrored across the rotting expanse of the Democratic party.

    Newsom is being groomed to take over when Biden “leaves to spend more time with his family.” The big question, how to get rid of Harris, so that Newsom can pick a Vice out of the cesspool?

    1. MissionExcelsior

      Have you seen this?


      Prior to my Community Benefits exposé and a subsequent report by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit in December 2020, media mentions of Jones were few and far between, but his escapades occurred under the same four mayors as those of former San Francisco Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru, who is currently serving seven years in prison for fraud. Also, like Nuru, it all started for Jones with former mayor and current power broker Willie Brown, the godfather, if you will, of the San Francisco City Family.

      In 2004, then-mayor Gavin Newsom announced the Communities of Opportunity program, intended to help families living in San Francisco’s public housing. Newsom ponied up $370,000 in city funds to cover the cost of Jones, a top mayoral deputy and friend (Newsom officiated at his wedding) to oversee the program. But after two years and nearly $4 million, the eight programs operated by a dozen nonprofits had little to show for it. Instead, the money was spent frivolously, going back into the pockets of Jones and his allies, until it shuttered…


    2. herman_sampson

      Per the Constitution, the VP cannot be from the same state as the Prez; although Harris could probably find a state with instant residency, like Cheney did with W.

  5. Hepativore

    Legally speaking, could the federal government step in and stop the UPS strike if the Teamsters decide to go ahead with it at the end of this month?

    Can any president just up and declare that an employment sector is “essential” and forcibly end a strike like what Reagan did with the air traffic controllers? Just what are the limits if any, in regards to what a president can and cannot do when it comes to government-sanctioned union-busting?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The air industry more or less runs on direct federal subsidies and the air traffic controllers operate a key piece. UPS runs a small percentage of freight, and there are other suppliers.

  6. semper loquitur

    A/V Club:

    An iconic Hollywood sound effect called the Wilhelm scream was uncovered in an archive

    Jun 28, 2023

    The original recording of Hollywood’s worst-kept secret — a sound effect used when characters meet a grisly end called the Wilhelm scream — has been found. Movie insiders share their thoughts. Jamie Yuccas reports from Los Angeles.


    This is the scream I hear when I am tossing our leaders out of a helicopter in my head.

    1. griffen

      Out of the helicopter into a wood chipper, where they can be turned into mulch and nourish the earth? You know we can get some use of the dead leadership class. Not sarcasm?

      I just started to stream Stranger Things on Netflix, alas I am few years behind the times as always. Just completed season 1 and onto season 2 likely tonight. I must say, that is a horrible creature. Spoiler alert aversion, please and thank you!

  7. indices

    So the oceans are being killed off, and it sure looks like global warming will make us humans goners sooner than later. Here’s something that hits closer to home for one who thinks of birds as an outstanding gift from Nature:
    A Third of North America’s Birds Have Vanished (Nautilus)
    And rather than fix the real problems, Joe’s gonna block out the sun to cool things down…

  8. Lee

    “Annual Florida scrub-jay watch rallies volunteers in Central Florida” [Orlando Sentinel].

    “‘They have facial recognition and they will not forgive you for six months if you do something bad to them,’ Kintner said. Luckily, he’s been on their good side for quite some time.”

    There’s a pair of California scrub jays that have been nesting in my back yard for some years now. A few years back I saved their nest from being raided by a opossum. Since then they are quite friendly, often choosing to perch quite close to me. It’s nice to be well thought of.

    1. indices

      Scrub-jays, as well as blue jays, are members of the Corvid family, which includes crows and ravens, so they are pretty damn smart birds:

      “Blue jays are a member of the Corvidae family, which includes crows, ravens and magpies. The family is regarded as the most intelligent of the bird species. They have a high brain-to-body mass ratio, similar to the great apes. Crows and ravens, in particular, enjoy showing off their intelligence.” The handsome blue jay is one smart bird

  9. Queen of Swords

    It’s not finance, economics, politics, or power, but I hope this topic is acceptable for an open-thread day. Being, sadly, chronically behind in my reading, I didn’t learn of Ambrit’s unsuccessful sherbet quest (June 27th Water Cooler) until it was too late. Pineapple sherbet is very easy to make at home, though, even without an ice cream maker, so if Ambrit wants to get started preparing for next year, here’s one way to do it:


    Ingredients (all measures in U.S. units):

    1 cup sugar
    3/4 cup water
    1 cup pureed fresh pineapple or a 10-ounce can of crushed pineapple packed in juice
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/2 cup heavy cream


    Heat the sugar and water together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow to cool. Combine the pineapple and lemon juice in a bowl. Add the cooled sugar syrup and blend.

    If you have an ice cream maker, let this mixture chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, add the cream, blend, and pour the mixture into the ice cream maker’s canister. Freeze as usual.

    To finish the sherbet without an ice cream maker, place a freezer-safe cake pan or casserole dish in the freezer and let it get cold. (Pineapple is acidic, so something non-reactive is preferable.) Meanwhile, whip the cream with a hand mixer or whisk until it thickens and forms soft peaks. (This step may be omitted, but incorporating some air into the cream makes the finished sherbet softer.) Fold the whipped cream into the fruit-and-sugar mixture and blend gently. (It may look curdled at this point.) Pour the sherbet mixture into the cold pan, cover, and return the pan to the freezer. From here there are two options:

    Option 1: Let the sherbet freeze for about 4 hours or until completely frozen. Then remove it from the freezer and let it thaw just enough to be workable. Use a food processor or a blender to break up the ice crystals until the desired texture is achieved. Serve immediately or return to the freezer in a covered container.

    Option 2: Let the sherbet freeze for 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how cold your freezer is), then check it. Once the edges start to freeze, remove the pan from the freezer and stir vigorously to break up the ice crystals, then return the pan to the freezer. Repeat this process 4 or 5 more times, until the desired texture is achieved. Serve immediately or return to the freezer in a covered container.

    Makes a scant quart.

    Belated congratulations to Phyl!

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    The plantidote suggests skeleton trees looking down at Humankind in judgment.

    1. britzklieg

      right move for the wrong reason but we should take the victories however they occur.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I realize the Latin meaning is different but the common meaning: “wood shavings used for packing material and shipping material” makes this an odd thing to put on New York license plates. Maybe it is a reference to Bullwinkle’s uses of the word in its Latin meaning? [But Bullwinkle is in L.A. — I saw his statue!]

  11. Acacia

    Regarding the situation in France, this short article (below) by Didier Fassin is pretty good. Fassin is an anthropologist who has written on police in urban France. Paywalled, so I offer a rough translation, below.

    The Death of Nahel: A State of Legitimate Anger
    Didier Fassin

    For the anthropologist [i.e., Fassin], the protests expressed in the streets after the death of the teenager on Tuesday are in particular the result of the normalization of lies up to the highest level of the State.

    The reaction of the President of the Republic to the video of the death of Nahel, the teenager shot in the heart at close range by a policeman, was that it was an “inexplicable” act and “inexcusable”. Even if these words were intended to be soothing, especially for a mother who has just lost her only son, one can wonder if they were right.

    Because is the act really inexplicable? For the inhabitants of working-class neighborhoods, who experience daily the aggressiveness of the forces of order, who know year after year of the deaths by firearms, strangulation, suffocation, or accidents in which they are involved, who observe the consequences of legislation which constantly extends its prerogatives to the detriment of the rights of citizens, there is nothing that can come as a surprise. The trivialization of this violence has, for them, an explanation.

    Broken Contract

    But can we call the act inexcusable? On the contrary, everything shows that, in practice, these homicides almost always benefit from impunity, that the first reaction of the police authorities is to exonerate their perpetrators, that the blame is transferred to the victims who are represented as delinquents, that the ésprit de corps led witness officials to defend their colleague, and that in the end, in most cases, neither the administration nor the courts found the culprit. If there is a culture of excuses, as we often hear about young people from working-class backgrounds, it is certainly the police that it benefits.

    Under these conditions, the protests that are expressed in the street, including through destruction, cannot be reduced to popular violence opposing police violence, revenge, or even a vendetta, as a trade union official was able to say. They proceed from a moral economy, if we are willing to use this term which was used to account for the rebellions of the English peasants in the 18th century against the profiteers who aggravated misery and caused famines. The social contract that binds the members of a society presupposes a minimal respect for human life, a fortiori on the part of the agents who are supposed to protect them. When the police kill without justification, this contract is broken.

    Feeling of Outrage

    It is all the more so when lies are used to cover up the facts. These are the statements of the author, his colleague and the police institution, which only the existence of an amateur video made it possible to refute, and in the absence of which the victim would have been found guilty of attempted homicide. These are the assertions of the Minister of the Interior before the National Assembly, according to which, since the vote of the law of 2017, which authorizes shootings for a simple refusal to comply when the occupants of the vehicle are “likely to perpetrate, in their escape, attacks on their life or on their physical integrity, or on those of others”, that police shootings and fatal cases in these circumstances have decreased, while they have, on the contrary, increased, according to statistics of its own services and, in terms of shots, have even been multiplied by five according to a recent study. It is also against this normalization of public lying up to the highest level of the State that this moral feeling of indignation is expressed.

    It is therefore necessary to take the measure of what these manifestations mean. Not to justify them but to understand them. They appear to some as the only voice that remains audible to denounce the double injustice of brutality and impunity. If the law today allows law enforcement to use their firearms without the obligation of self-defense, at least society must recognize, in memory of the victims, the right to legitimate anger.

  12. Carolinian

    Re lightning bug shortage–just back from my evening walk and they are charmingly everywhere. Just thought I’d mention.

  13. Jason Boxman

    Another day another mass shooting.

    heavily armed gunman wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire in southwest Philadelphia on Monday evening, killing four people and injuring two others, the police said.

    Philadelphia had recorded 185 gun deaths this year by Sunday, including the deaths of 144 Black people, according to the Office of the Controller (in a city whose population is only 43 percent Black). An additional 744 people had been injured by gunfire.


  14. chris

    My last day walking around in Paris and in France before returning to the US. One of the things I’ve found most disorienting here is how there are so many gracious features to life here that could be included in general life in the US, but for some reason, they aren’t. The other significant thing I will take back with me is how real food smells. My God, the smell! The first time I went into a good cheese shop in Paris I nearly fell over from the florid, blooming, bouquet coming from the cheeses! And it dawned on me and my nose that what I had experienced in the US was dead food. So I don’t know what exactly these cheeses, wines, meats, breads, have in them that is missing in what I eat in the US. All I can say is that they taste fantastic and make me feel good after eating them. Two things that have started to become quite rare in my diet at home despite spending more and more money on what I eat. Even my wife, who had gotten to the point where drinking any wine or beer would give her a terrible headache, has no problem enjoying a glass at each meal in France. I’ve tried to ask French people about this but they just look at me like I’m mad. They don’t understand what I’m talking about or why shopping at places like Whole Foods doesn’t come close to the shops they take for granted in Paris.

    I thought I understood what places like Italy, France, and Mexico were fighting against prior to this trip, when it comes to the ISDS oriented food labeling coming from our trade agreements. Now I get it. When you’re buying something marked AOP/AOC/DOC you’re buying something that’s alive and healthy and aligned with traditions that no one in the corporate world is capable of appreciating because they can’t monetize this kind of authenticity at scale. So they want to crush it. Or make it seem like it’s not significant. Which is why our product labels seem so funny now. For example, in the wine shops in Paris, it’s hard to see which grapes are in what wines but you have easy markers for quality and region which if you know what you want, make it simple to do pairings. In the US you can read all the details on labels and yet have no idea what’s really in the food or if it’s any good. No wonder they don’t want to put things like GMO labels on things.

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