2:00PM Water Cooler 4/23/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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Patient readers, so far my strategy of “lying flat” has succeeded, and I am on the rebound. Today will be a little short, but I’m hopeful about tomorrow. –lambert

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, 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 SV:

TH writes: “A popular (with bees) purple Poppy Anemone. 😊”

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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. Tom Stone

    A couple of questions for the commentariat.
    Last year the feds seized two container load of Cocaine two weeks apart, they each contained 20 tons (40,000 Lbs) of pure coke.
    Does anyone here know roughly what the capital cost was of producing those and delivering them to the US East Coast ( Baltimore for one of them).
    Growing and processing the plants, security and shipping would add up to a fair amount of change.
    And finally, what kind of wholesale distribution network is needed?
    I’d assume a central location and then hubs handling 100 or so Lbs each with retail starting at the 1 Lb level.
    It would be interesting to test the waste water coming out of DC to determine if that is a 2 week or 1 month supply for our Gubbermint.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Cocaine? Cocaine is for poor people, school kids and independent contractors. Government and corporate employees are prescribed much better stuff.

      Given how easy it would be to find out, it’s somewhat telling that there aren’t any charts showing how many govt employees consume how many tons of which prescription drugs annually.

      Lambert, seasonal hopes your misery decreases with the pollen count.

    2. Lee

      You might get some answers from this article from the Wall Street Journal, 2006, (there appears to be no paywall): Cocainenomics

      Are you seeking business advice, asking for a friend or what?

      1. Tom Stone

        I have idiosyncratic drug reactions, when I tried Medicinal grade Coke more than half a Century ago it didn’t do much for me.
        A friend who was making honey oil traded an oral surgeon for an ounce of the stuff and since I had never tried it he laid out a fair amount (Half a gram) and while I got a barely noticeable buzz I didn’t like the taste.
        Colombian coffee and a Joint tasted better and had more effect back in the day.

        1. Lee

          I imagine a lot of what we got from the street back in the day was stepped on with speed or, as we used to joke, with battery acid. Caffeine and THC are definitely the better choices.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lambert “Sniffles” Strether:

    Thyme tisane. Keep a supply of thyme that comes in teabags / sachets. Otherwise, thyme is a mess.

    Ginger tisane. Infusion of ginger cures everything.

    Zinc. Yes, zinc as a supplement truly does work.

    All the best.

    1. Samuel Conner

      More household phytopharmacy:

      A friend who seems to be a magnet for mosquitoes reports that “Mint Leaf Bee Balm” (Monarda fistulosa, aka Wild Bergamot) is really useful for soothing itchy mosquito and other bug bites. She crushes a few leaves into a small pellet and holds the pellet on the bite with a bit of tape. For her, mosquito bites stop itching within tens of minutes.

      Here’s (abstract) an old study that documents anti-inflammatory action of M. fistulosa extracts.

      The plant is attractive and is pollinator friendly. It looks a bit ratty after going to seed. It’s easy to grow from seed and is a pretty hardy perennial. A bed of five plants, started from seed, that I planted last Summer have come back as a forest of shoots, around 100 stems in five foot-wide clusters.

      1. aleric

        Useful information! I’ve got several large patches of bergamot from natural spread and transplanting volunteers, did not know that it could be used for bites. Though the flowers are relatively small and not impressive to humans, native bumble bees swarm them.

    2. steppenwolf fetchit

      I feel as if sucking slow on a zinc lozenge may have worked a little for me.

      A pharmacist told me once about sucking slowly on a vitamin C tablet for back-of-throat contact.

      Chicken soup with as much tabasco sauce in it as I can stand has worked to decongest me. Also turning the indoor temperature up to 80 degrees and putting on layers of clothes and sleeping overheated to “burn out” the virus. It makes me feel like I am doing something. And also drinking lots of water with vitamin C powder dissolved in it.

      One interesting side effect of masking a lot and avoiding people a lot is that I have spent the last 3 years with way less colds than normal.

      1. Tom B.

        I think the suckable C and zinc lozenges might help because they get partly absorbed directly by the mucosal system rather than the roundabout systemic path through stomach, liver, bloodstream etc. with lots of dilution. I also supplement with suckable D3 even though I know that it requires metabolism by the liver etc. to transform to the active form. But they taste nice!

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Sometimes desperate symptoms require desperate measures. I remember several decades ago one time when I was so totally congested and nothing was working that the thought finally occurred to me . . . what would happen if I went out to the semi-pantry room where the garbage lived in its very own can and what if I stuck my head down close to the garbage and tried breathing the fumes in? Would it work?

        It did work. After two or three breaths of garbage fumes, I remember decongesting completely and staying that way for the rest of the night.

    3. GramSci

      Povidone iodine nasal spray. It’s not just for Covid. **

      Of course Lambert knows this, since he put me onto it. But listen, newbies. Juana and I have been relying on this to forestall and thwart all manner of grandkid-borne pestilence and plague since I first read about PI here on NC six months into the pandemic. Seems to work even for a day or two after the onset of a scratchy nasopharynx.

      You can buy 10% PI in any pharmacy for about $10 for 8 oz., maybe cheaper. (Also good for cuts and booboos.) Put four 1ml eyedropper squirts of PI in a $1.39 44ml squirt bottle of OTC nasal saline solution. Works out to ~$1.55 per 44ml bottle of 1% solution.

      Or Jeff Bezos will sell you the equivalent 4 Betadine(tm) PI nasal spray bottlettes (~ half strength) for only ~$70.00.

      ** May be contraindicated for hyperthyroidism. Useless for allergies.

  3. Pat

    take care of yourself. Along with everything else people have suggested, I’m going to tell you to listen to your body and sleep as much as it wants. Sleep allows the body to concentrate on getting well.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    If I may. [While Lambert Strether is in his boudoir, I will play.]

    23 April is considered Shakespeare’s birthday. In honor of that Kid from Stratford who made good. (Spare me all that stuff about the real writer being the Earl of Bangers and Mash.)

    One of his most appealing characters, who, unfortunately, comes to a bad end quickly, in a play that is too often addressed to teenagers.

    But I quibble. Instead, the Bard:

    O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
    She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
    In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
    On the fore-finger of an alderman,
    Drawn with a team of little atomies
    Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
    Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
    The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
    The traces of the smallest spider’s web,
    The collars of the moonshine’s wat’ry beams,
    Her whip of cricket’s bone; the lash of film;
    Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
    Not half so big as a round little worm
    Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid:
    Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
    Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
    Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
    And in this state she gallops night by night
    Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
    O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court’sies straight,
    O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
    O’er ladies ‘ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
    Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
    Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
    Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
    And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
    And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
    Tickling a parson’s nose as a’ lies asleep,
    Then dreams, he of another benefice:
    Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
    And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
    Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
    Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
    Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
    And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
    And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
    That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
    And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
    Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
    This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
    That presses them and learns them first to bear,
    Making them women of good carriage
    This is she—

    Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
    Thou talk’st of nothing.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I wonder what neoliberal economists dream of.

      Mine are generally troublous, typically finding myself in a familiar place, but thoroughly lost. Or waking on April 18 to realize that I napped though the entire tax preparation season (and am also weeks behind on the weeding).

      Thyme is super easy to grow; didn’t know that it could be made into a medicinal infusion. I wonder whether it may improve sleep.

    2. Bazarov

      Many years back, I decided to do a Shakespeare retrospective, having not read the plays in a very long time. I was dreading Romeo and Juliet, given that I did not have great memories of it in comparison to, say, Hamlet or King Henry IV Parts I and II.

      Obviously, Romeo and Juliet is lost on the young. It absolutely blew me away. People, I think, don’t “see” it for what it is. Preconceived notions, the play being a milestone of the anglosphere’s literary and culture history, blur the reading. You skim “parting is such sweet sorrow” or whatever and think “Oh, yes, that old chestnut.” But really, the play is rather strange and full of the most wonderful poetry. The portion you’ve excerpted is a great example of its power.

      Romeo and Juliet is certainly in the conversation for the Bard’s best. I have my own favorites–I admire Troilus and Cressida greatly. I quote from it often. For instance, whenever I’m having someone over for dinner, I’ll often say to my partner: “Let us feast him to the height!” Or when I’m sorting through bruised produce in search of a tasty-looking specimen, I might mumble to myself “the eagles are gone: crows and daws, crows and daws!”

      1. ambrit

        Sorry, but I have it on good authority that the Patriot Act was banged out by DoJ monkeys on word processors. As the “Emergency” went on, more and more monkeys were hired and the “Rules” became more arcane by the year.
        In Shakespeares day, quill pens dipped in ink were the primary means of information generation. So, the conspiratorially minded have had to make resort to the old classic “Infinite Earls” artifice. Thus, we end up with a scene straight out of Sheridan. A library in a Gentleman’s Club in Elizabethan London housing a parliament of Earls, sipping port and waxing vexatious over sonnets and quatrains.

  5. LY

    Came across this interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Ministry for the Future and The High Sierra: A Love Story. Audio at https://news.berkeley.edu/2024/03/22/berkeley-talks-sci-fi-writer-kim-stanley-robinson.

    “And then, how to hope in the situation that we’re in, which is filled with dread and filled with people fighting with wicked strength to wreck the earth and human chances in it.

    “The political battle is not going to be everybody coming together and going, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’ve got a problem, let’s solve it.’ It’s more like some people saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’ve got a problem that we have to solve,’ and other people going, ‘No, we don’t have a problem.’

    “They’ll say that right down over the cliff. They’ll be falling to their death going, ‘No problem here because I’m going to heaven and you’re not,’ or whatever. Nobody will ever admit they’re wrong. They will die. And then the next generation will have a new structure of feeling.

    And yes, there is a transcript! https://news.berkeley.edu/2024/03/22/berkeley-talks-transcript-sci-fi-writer-kim-stanley-robinson

  6. chris

    Take care of yourself! I’ve just come out of a head cold that ran 3 days. The result of too much travel and not enough sleep.

    First time I’ve had a cold that felt like a cold since 2019. Like, no bone deep fatigue. No interminable coughing. No feeling weak. No feeling dizzy. Just a regular kind of sniffle that got better quickly with rest and tea.

  7. djrichard

    Seeing how the GOP folded in the face of … nothing, this will be good fodder for the next time there’s a negotiation over a putative debt default by the Fed Gov. Why would the GOP finally find backbone for seeing the US default on its debt when they can’t find a backbone for what really matters to their constituency.

  8. flora

    My family includes all three faiths of the great book. So I’ll leave here this old spring time hymn. And yes, this will be the second time I’ve recently left this hymn’s link. I’ll stop now. Fair are the meadows, fairer still the moonlight, clothed in the blooming garb spring…. Darest I hope that when my time comes this hymn will be played at my going? For all of my family. / ;) The Hastlings College Choir. :


    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      What if that person could be found and hired by a new startup search-and-social company called something like Shinola Search and Social? Or some such name? And that person could be its Search Engine Algorithm developer, purifier and defender-and-preserver.

      How might such a company stay in business if it were satisfied to make mere megaprofits instead of the gigaprofits which Alphabet, Meta, etc. insist upon making? Perhaps it could have a two-tier or two-track subscription model.

      Track one . . . No Ads . . . pay a set amount of money per month to be subscribed to Shinola Search and Social, and for that subscription you get ad-free use of the Search Engine and the Social Medium. And no ad-space could be sold on the version going to monthly subscribers.

      Track two . . . Yes Ads . . . Anyone seeking to sign on to this, for “free”, would be forced to sit through a timeblock of ads before being allowed to log on to Search or Social. Once they had watched the ads to the very end, then they could log on. And maybe every two hours or so, the Search or Social would freeze up and say ” okay, buddy. Time for another timeblock of ads before Search or Social start working again.” And ads would only be allowed within those timeblocks. And the same time blockload of ads would be shown to every watcher, thus removing the need to spy on users to tailor ads targeted against them individually.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Hope you get better soon. There is that old traditional cure of drinking half a bottle of whiskey. You may still be miserable with that cold but you will no longer care.

  10. The Rev Kev

    When you are looking for that special present for someone, how about a spider like robot dog equipped with a flamethrower-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj9JSkSpRlM (1:47 mins)

    Almost any American with about $10,000 to spare can now own a robot dog with a flamethrower mounted on its back, the Ohio-based company Throwflame has announced.

    The four-legged creature dubbed ‘Thermonator’ is actually a drone, controlled via a first-person-view (FPV) interface, with a battery life of up to one hour. Its ARC flamethrower has a range of 30 feet (10 meters), according to specifications released by the company.


    1. JBird4049

      Is an AI included in the thermonator? I would guess that it would be just as reliable as those self driving cars. Flambé innocent stranger coming up?

    1. Lena

      Yikes. Pasteurized milk *appears* safe but the FDA admits they don’t know yet. Bird flu is more widespread among dairy cows than previously reported. Cats are dying on farms where cows are infected. What next?

      1. Randall Flagg

        I noticed that in the news reports too, it appears “safe” so far.
        Well, for years farmers have suffered with receiving low prices for the milk they sell to distributors so here’s a chance to “cull” the numbers to reduce the oversupply.
        And we reduce the numbers of those greenhouse gas belching cows, this time in the name of climate change. Reminiscent of the federal herd buyouts of decades ago. What a tough line of work, farming.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Just something that I came across in my meanderings on the internet. Haven’t heard a Joni Mitchell song in I don’t know how many decades.

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