Links 12/28/15

Quest hots up for chocolate that doesn’t melt when mercury rises FT

How 19 Big-Name Corporations Plan to Make Money Off the Climate Crisis HuffPo

Nature’s Warning Signal The Atlantic. “The signal, a phenomenon called ‘critical slowing down,’ is a lengthening of the time that a system takes to recover from small disturbances

How Did The World Scientific Community Come To Believe That Global Warming Is Happening? Econospeak

Nutanix, Okta, Twilio and Coupa Ready 2016 IPOs Wall Street Journal. Where’s Globex? Stupid cutesie algo-generated startup names, just the sort of name a toothily grinning grey-t-shirt-wearing con artist would turn into a logo and print on their business card to prove they’re legit. Whatever happened to real corporate names, like “US Steel” or “General Atomics”? And speaking of valuations and the bezzle…

At Theranos, Many Strategies and Snags WSJ. “Snags.”

How drug companies are gaming an old law for greater profits NPR

The flawed system that allows companies to make millions off the injured WaPo

End of easy money for mini-refiners splitting U.S. shale? Reuters

In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears NYT

CITE: The $1 billion city that nobody calls home CNN.

The CITE (Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation) project is a full-scale model of an ordinary American town. Yet it will be used as a petri dish to develop new technologies that will shape the future of the urban environment. … Without a human population to worry about, the possibilities are endless. Driverless vehicles could be used on responsive roads…

What could go wrong? Yet, in a way, CITE is a perfect mirror of elite thinking, and so I imagine it will do very well. “If only it weren’t for that pesky 99%…”

Holidaze

Kentucky’s Mall St. Matthews Shuts Down After Brawls Involving Up to 2,000 NBC. (Seems to be a thing? Black Friday.)

Christmastime storms, tornadoes kill at least 43 in U.S. Reuters

Where Your Unwanted Christmas Gifts Get a Second Life WSJ

The hobbit approach to the sharing economy FT

2016 Prediction Roundup

2016 predictions: the emoji edition Wired. With translations.

The 2016 Fortune Crystal Ball Fortune

Five Tech Predictions for the Year Ahead WSJ

Cybersecurity predictions for 2016 USA Today

2016 Predictions: A Look Ahead at the Future of War Defense One

China’s economy: Seven predictions for 2016 Los Angeles Times

China’s planning addiction vs. a free market Japan Times. And quantitative easing isn’t central planning?

Former top Chinese official commits suicide after landslide disaster Reuters. Chinese officials more honorable than our own, I guess. Assuming the “fall from a high place” was suicide.

China has made obedience to the State a game Independent

Paranoid: North Korea’s computer operating system mirrors its political one Reuters

Syraqistan

U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far Reuters

A chasm at the heart of the Syrian crisis FT

ISIS Cyber Security Skills Suck Medium

Germany is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War The Intercept

A Fearful Congress Sits Out the War Against ISIS Editoral Board, NYT

2016

Bernie Sanders: Why Trump voters should back me CNN. Howard Dean would have agreed, and that’s what the 50-state strategy would have achieved, if Rahm hadn’t had Dean quietly strangled and replaced by life forms like Steve Israel.

Donald Trump’s bile is a healing balm for spurned Americans Frank Luntz, FT. Pitch: “If you really want to tick off the elites, elect a Socialist!”

Elites and media really hate Donald Trump’s voters New York Post

The GOP’s New Hampshire nightmare Politico

Our political future on holiday (part 1) Unqualified Offerings

Got Fascism? Counterpunch

It’s official — benefits and high taxes make us all richer, while inequality takes a hammer to a country’s growth Independent. Maggie, Ronnie: Take a bow! Along with both legacy parties for the entire neo-liberal dispensation, of course.

Class Warfare

Brazil’s Antipoverty Breakthrough Foreign Affairs. Bolsa Família.

Rich, White and Refusing Vaccinations NYT. Makes sense, since they can afford to get their children treated, even as their children infect others who can’t. So it’s a two-fer, isn’t it? If Typhoid Mary had been rich…

The game is completely rigged: The 1 percent has more than ever — and the system is too broken to deal with it Salon. Less repetitious than the headline would suggest.

Can a French Friar End the 21st-Century Slave Trade? Vanity Fair

How the ‘Weeping Time’ became a lost piece of Georgia history Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A bit stale, but worth a read.

Posse of Mathematicians Bridges Number Theory and Geometry Wired

A Wooden Laser-Cut Topo Map of Portland, ME Shamblog

Sir Terry Pratchett remembered by his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett Guardian

How Bad Are Things? Slate Star Codex

Antidote du jour:

elephants

To get to the other side.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour 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.

90 comments

  1. Victoria

    Thanks for sharing Rhianna Pratchett’s lovely remembrance of her father Terry (my personal greatest celebrity loss of 2015). It made me think about how much of childhood happiness stems from being in nature–unstructured, wondrous, challenging and sustaining, and how little from the things that money can buy. I think Terry and his wife showed more wisdom in how they raised their daughter than can even be found in his books. And that’s saying quite alot.

  2. Mikey

    I’m pretty skeptical about some of the reporting on Sesame Credit. I think this article from a few months ago highlights how much of this is speculation.

    This site has a translation of the government plan for the social credit system. The thing stressed over and over again is “sincerity” which isn’t necessarily the same thing as loyalty to the government. My impression is that China is still struggling with widespread corruption, varying levels of fraudulent behavior, and efforts to expand credit to provinces that haven’t developed as fast as the coastal powerhouses. It’s possible that this social credit system may be aimed at solving these problems, not political disloyalty.

    When I showed the video linked in the Independent article to some of Chinese friends, they were also quite skeptical of this spin on it. For one, many Chinese people are in fact loyal and supportive of the CCP. In addition, the example that posting pictures of Tiananmen is a little silly, because only a minority netizens that know about Tiananmen and think it’s important would actually post something a picture on the internet. If you take out those who don’t actively use the internet, don’t know/care about Tiananmen, aren’t willing to cross that line…we’re talking about a tiny number of Chinese people.

    So I’m pretty skeptical of this fearmongering–at this point these concerns are almost totally speculative. That said, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Chinese government does implement something like this. Currently, there’s a policy that you can go to jail for “spreading rumors.” The breathless hyperbole in some of the reporting isn’t really warranted though, I think. I guess it speaks to some of our domestic concerns about the erosion of civil liberties post-9/11.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Forget about such hybrid Confucian/Legalist conforming tools.

      They can simplify that to ‘loyalty to banks’ – an index measuring how good a banking customer (substituting that for ‘citizen’) you are, how obedient you are to your credit terms.

      A good borrower is a loyal, obedient and trustworthy citizen.

    2. Massinissa

      All systems and all games can be ‘gamed’.

      Even if its as bad as people are saying it is, there will be ways to game the system and get points or keep points while bending the rules. Like keeping anime purchases underground, for example (at least until China gets rid of cash…).

      1. subgenius

        No, only bullshit systems created by mankind are gameable. Nature? Physical reality? Only if you are a God. Mankind is not even close (despite certain types who seem convinced they are)

        1. LifelongLib

          What do you think the whole point of human culture is? If “nature” and “reality” were so great we would never have bothered to do anything beyond them. But they’re not, and we do.

  3. ProNewerDeal

    Happy Holidays to NC! Thanks for all your articles, links, & reader comments this year.

    fw: an Audiovisual Antidote: https://youtu.be/mj9XRorvs70 music video for The Foreign Exchange (duo from N Carolina & Netherlands) “Call It Home”. Starting at 0:59 mark, there is a sequence of beautiful vivid images from Earth, including many nature images

      1. auntienene

        There is still no special treatment for measles. I’ve been nearly deaf most of my life due to measles with complications, pneumonia. I got it before the vaccine was available. My then six-week old sister had to have gamma globulin shots as a precaution. Prevention is everything. Vaccinate your kids.

    1. RUKidding

      Problem is, the rich Anti-Vaxxers aren’t the ones who’ll suffer (mostly). It’ll be other kids who get infected bc the herd immunization just isn’t there.

      There are kids who have legitimate health issues who have a true, real, factual need to avoid various/all vaccinations. Those kids, especially – be they rich, poor or in between – are the ones who will suffer the most and possibly die. The wealthy kids? Eh? Their parents can afford to give them the best care money can buy. They’ll probably pull through.

      So, Darwin’s law not in evidence in this case.

      1. jnleareth

        Except the parents may choose to give them the best care they can be scammed into believing is care. I recently went down the rabbit hole of Germ Theory Denialism – a beautiful wholly dangerous belief set that encompasses the kernels of truth of eating healthy to stay healthy, only use antibiotics when you need to, corporations are greedy, and the government is corrupt, and spins it into a web of alt med woo upon which a whole bunch of medically dangerous stuff lives.

  4. edmondo

    Bernie Sanders: Why Trump voters should back me

    The more likely scenario might be the reverse since I doubt Bernie will be around after March 1st.
    As abhorrent as his immigration policies are, The Donald is running to the left of Hillary on economic policy, fiscal policy and foreign policy. She ran to the right so fast she may have tripped over herself to get there.

    1. craazyman

      A Sanders/Trump ticket could win with 70% of the vote.

      They have more in common than they realize. Or maybe Trump’s Performance Art wouldn’t let him be a VP. But this could be real! It doesn’t have to be just in his imagination.

      He could play VP and be VP. He could even criticize Sanders and get away with it. Oscar criticized Felix and they still shared an apartment. They even stayed roommates after Felix took Oscar to small claims court. That was the famous “When you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” episode.

      This is a critical moment and they can both see common ground and take a step toward the change we need. Not the change we believed in but never got. One small step for two men, a giant leap for mankind.

      1. craazyboy

        The Inauguration Day speech would be interesting. I bet trump steals the mic from Bernie and says “You realize we’re just kidding about me and this VP title.”

    2. Brindle

      I occasionally check in on Trump’s twitter–often entertaining. Here’s one from a few hours ago where he hits at the bi-partisan economy:

      —“Many of the great jobs that the people of our country want are long gone, shipped to other countries. We now are part time, sad! I WILL FIX!”—

      I hope Trump is the GOP nominee, could not stay awake if it is the somnabulant Jeb Bush

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My guess is he is going after all the different single-issue voters who can block out whatever they don’t like about Trump, because, for each, he has that one single issue they care about.

    3. Nigelk

      “We have had our differences of opinions with the DNC,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the DNC, Hillary Clinton and myself — we want to defeat right-wing extremism in this country.”

      I love ya Bernie, but if you think Clinton wants to defeat right-wing extremism in this country — rather than use it as an excuse why during her term she couldn’t get all those progressive things she said she favored in order to win the primary while further lining the pockets of her benefactors — we disagree about the nature of the threat.

        1. 3.14e-9

          It seems like that, doesn’t it? Many of us want him to hit back harder. But I’m wondering whether the lawsuit got them thinking real hard about their split voter base. How likely is it that either of them will win the general election without a substantial number of the other’s supporters? Sure, Bernie said he would support Hillary if he lost the primary, but many of his followers are making it clear they won’t vote for her under any circumstances. There’s already talk of organizing a campaign to write him in, which could be disastrous for her. If he wins, he may or may not be able to defeat the Republican candidate without a good number of Hillary’s base, so he can’t risk p-ssing them off by beating up on her. I’m starting to think that the limited number of debates might not be such a disadvantage for him after all.

      1. tongorad

        “But at the end of the day, the DNC, Hillary Clinton and myself — we want to defeat right-wing extremism in this country.”

        I was hoping against hope that this dude might even be a slight approximation of the real McCoy – but this comment is the tell. Bernie is a clown.

  5. flora

    My favorite headline of 2015:

    “Man steals combine, leads police on low-speed chase.”
    “….it attempted to elude officers at speeds approaching 20 mph. “

    1. OIFVet

      I thought that ‘Duck walks into pub, drinks pint, fights dog, loses. Maintains bow tie. Not a joke’ had it clinched, until I stumbled upon ‘Man dies after blowing up condom machine on Christmas Day’ Tough call.

      1. craazyboy

        I think that’s why you should always carry 4 quarters in your pocket so you can just buy one.

        Or maybe we could score that as a belated “win” for Planned Parenthood?

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: A Fearful Congress Sits Out the War Against ISIS

    I have no idea what they’re talking about. There aren’t any American troops fighting the Islamic State in Northern Syria or Iraq. Only advisers and volunteers who do not see much frontline action… right?

    The problem with the Obama Administration is that they seem to believe that every issue is a matter of public relations. I mean take the “degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State” statement for example. One of those words doesn’t mean what they think it means. It makes a great marketing line from a toothpaste salesman though. “Our toothpaste will degrade and ultimately destroy cavities.” F— yeah! In any case it’s probably asking too much of Congress to give their vote of confidence in a war that lacks a coherent plan from the administration and when the US military may have exceeded it’s military prerogative.

    As for the British/German response there are potential consequences at stake that need to be considered. Fallout… eh? That’s an interesting choice of words. D’oooooooooh!

    1. Andrew Watts

      …and because Congress shouldn’t get off that easy and the fact it’s the holiday season I offer the Obama administration the plan and media spin they desire in the spirit of the season. The military strategy to defeat the Islamic State can be summed up as “isolate and eradicate”. By attacking and cutting major supply lines to and from the Islamic State’s centers of gravity, with the co-operation of local and other opposition forces, IS forces will find themselves in increasingly dire straits. This is the strategy being followed by the Syrian Democratic Forces and was previously pursued by the Kurdish YPG/J. (“Just in case anybody didn’t get the memo the first time around…”) The successful result that this strategy has produced is self-evident thus far.

      With the capture of Tishrin Dam and the ongoing advance from that area west of the Euphrates River and the forthcoming SDF campaign for the remaining IS territory in Hasakah province the Islamic State will find itself isolated in Aleppo province and cut off one of the last major supply lines from Turkey to the rest of the alleged Caliphate. By securing the remaining IS territory located in Hasaka province SDF will have effectively closed the most direct path from Mosul to Raqqa leaving it vulnerable. Raqqa will fall.

      Ultimately, facing isolation and eradication in Mosul and cut off from it’s remaining city strongholds in Anbar the Islamic State will face two incredibly bad choices; a guerrilla war of attrition that it will eventually lose or a high risk “Long March” maneuver into Saudi Arabia. We should all know which choice Mao successfully made.

      God, this is gonna be an exciting year!

      1. Synoia

        Ultimately, facing isolation and eradication in Mosul and cut off from it’s remaining city strongholds in Anbar the Islamic State will face two incredibly bad choices; a guerrilla war of attrition that it will eventually lose

        And how pray, will ISIS, with legions of faithful supporters and new converts, a process fueled by US policy, US Military actions, and unwavering US support for Israel’s bashing fellow Muslims on a daily basis, lead to a loss of a guerrilla war?

        One cannot “win” a guerrilla war by attrition, because the actions of attrition generate supporters for the war at a greater rate than the loss from so called attrition.

        I suggest you read about the Boer War, where Roberts lost, and Kitchener, who replaced Roberts, won. Focus on the mechanism Kitchener employed to win – depopulation the countryside and gathering all the civilian (Afrikaans) population in camps, where a significant percentage died of diphtheria.

        Then explain how the lessons learned from the Boer War, an insurgency, from1899 to 1902, apply to ISIS today.

        Those who do not know their history, etc…

        1. Andrew Watts

          For all it’s pretense the Islamic State doesn’t come close to representing every Sunni Muslim in the world. Although the idea of the re-emergence of the Caliphate must be an appealing ideal. As for blaming the US for everything wrong in the region, why do you think that the Shia and other minorities are targeted for annihilation by Sunni jihadists is solely the fault of Uncle Sam?

          There are quite a few ways to win a guerrilla war. The Boer War was won by the British through the eradication of the guerrilla’s base of support. Similarly the America crushed the Filipino insurgency through similar methods. Their loss was almost destined from the beginning though. The Filipinos were already divided by class, ethnicity, and geography and it’s the latter I am focused on in the context of the former.

          As other historical examples will prove there are less gruesome ways of accomplishing that goal. The Chinese Civil War will furnish many lessons to the students of history. The Chinese Nationalists tried and failed to wage a insurgency after they fled to Taiwan. In no small part due to the repeated defeats that were inflicted upon their forces by both foreign and domestic enemies and the subsequential humiliation that resulted.

          Nobody wants to fight and die for a losing cause. Only for glorious victory.

          1. Synoia

            Answer the question: How will the ISIS insurgency collapse when there appears to be a large supply of the disaffected?

            You made the assertion, state the means.

            1. Banana Breakfast

              US/Western/capitalist imperial boondoggles will continue to create disaffected youths, who will continue to become guerillas, but if IS, having talked some big talk and taken the big step of capturing territory and making the pretense of being a state level actor, loses their territory, IS will not be such an attractive name to associate with. Al Qaeda shrank because they became associated with losing, and only the serious, long game playing, professional revolutionaries have the patience to stick that out. When IS becomes associated with losing, they’ll be replaced as well.

              1. Andrew Watts

                Somebody gets it. Furthermore IS fighters can be divided by their status as conscripts, mercenaries, and even fewer who are true believers that’ll stick out the jihadist revolution to the end. Plus more than a few infiltrators from foreign intelligence agencies. It’s the Levant after all.

                Everybody thinks they can manipulate jihadist sentiment and it’s gotta be one of the reasons why there’s a glass ceiling for the advancement of non-Iraqis in the Islamic State.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s human nature.

            And you see that towards the end of any war, with generals defecting, leading to a swift defeat of the losing side. ‘Saving lives,’ they tell themselves and anyone will listen.

            Going with the winner is how the rich will always have followers and supporters.

      2. optimader

        ISIS…ISIL..IS..(ok I prefer Daesh.. but whateva whateva)… is stockpiling RedBull for “The Long March”
        http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2015/07/19/Western-products-showcased-in-ISIS-shopping-mall-.html

        I get the impression they are more a Wahhabi brand of ME Organized Crime in a religious jihadist wrapper than a bona-fide organizer of worldwide Caliphate. I mean, let’s be generous and say the “organization” is good for what 40k dingdongs,, against the world?.. Really? How many times in History has that not worked?, (or as the Military would ultimately frame such an operation: “… it has been less than a complete success…)

        Unlike, say the Taliban which has pursued a more modest goal of converting Afghanistan into a retro-fantasy barbaric Islamic fundamentalist State, IS has more ambitiously declared Jihad against the entire World. Now that’s anyone and everyone including other Muslim sects that are not Wahhabis, or more precisely ANYONE including other Wahhabis not with the program!

        I think of them more along the lines of the overly ambitious but ultimately doomed to fail Virus strain that kills it’s hosts. Maybe they’ll be the cause of a lot of death and destruction directly and indirectly as sovereign countries are used as fullscale weapons proving grounds, but ultimately IS will be hoisted by it’s own Petard.
        In the long play, targeting the least critical thinking disaffected youth in the West and ME with stale packages of M&Ms, Cadbury Chocolates and an opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie of shooting an AK (or being summarily married off to a GoldStar member if you’re female) until you’re aerosolized is not a solid longterm plan IMO.

        1. Andrew Watts

          “ISIS…ISIL..IS..(ok I prefer Daesh.. but whateva whateva)… is stockpiling RedBull for “The Long March”

          They call themselves Islamic State so that’s what I call them. It’s been tough over the years trying to keep up with their constant name changes. I forget what came before ISI > ISIS > ISIL > IS. And hey when you can’t drink alcohol because your religion forbids it you need other stimulants.

          “I get the impression they are more a Wahhabi brand of ME Organized Crime in a religious jihadist wrapper than a bona-fide organizer of worldwide Caliphate.”

          Who knows. I still haven’t made up my mind if the revanchist Baathists are using the jihadists for their own self-interest or the other way around. Before the inception of Al Qaeda in Iraq it was some motley crew of jihadists trying to destabilize Jordan and overthrow the government which sounds like something the Iraqi intelligence apparatus would want. After the Iraqi invasion they relocated to Anbar to wage an insurgency against the American occupation… who just so happen to link up with Saddam regime loyalists drawn from the intelligence services?

          If the Iraqis who comprise the leadership positions in the Islamic State are only in it for the money the whole Caliphate could collapse as the leaders abandon the cause when the prospects turn sour. That seems like wishful thinking though.

          “Unlike, say the Taliban which has pursued a more modest goal of converting Afghanistan into a retro-fantasy barbaric Islamic fundamentalist State, IS has more ambitiously declared Jihad against the entire World. Now that’s anyone and everyone including other Muslim sects that are not Wahhabis, or more precisely ANYONE including other Wahhabis not with the program!”

          Undoubtedly the Islamic State will target other Wahhabis as their jihad is aimed at other Sunni Muslims. That’s why I think of them as Wahhabi revolutionaries. They’re trying to overthrow not just the state, secular or otherwise, but eradicate other sects of Islam.

          1. john

            I hear the Israeli Secret Inteligence Service isn’t so happy about the “ISIS”-branding issue.

            The elites tell us the truth right to our faces, but it is so terrible and offensive to our humanity we can only turn away.

            The same narciscists who see us as animals, and cast themselves as gods are mere beasts.

          2. different clue

            Probably each thinks it is using the other. But because the Old Baathists are smarter, and they have the institutional memory of decades of conspiratorial activity, and then secret police activity, etc.; the Old Baathists will outlive ISIS in the end. The Old Baathists will not disappear on their own. They will either have to be invited to Come In From The Cold, or they will have to be separately and specially hunted down and killed.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘There aren’t any American troops fighting the Islamic State in Northern Syria or Iraq.’

      Things have changed, comrade. Jim Dandy Special Ops to the rescue:

      WASHINGTON — They are taking on a larger combat role in Afghanistan, where the war was supposed to be over. They are headed to Syria to help fight the Islamic State in its stronghold. And President Obama recently ordered nearly 300 of them to Cameroon to assist African troops in their battle against a militant group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.

      Even as Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he opposes American “boots on the ground” in far-flung parts of the world, his administration continues to carve out exceptions for Special Operations forces — with American officials often resorting to linguistic contortions to mask the forces’ combat role.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/world/middleeast/more-and-more-special-forces-become-obamas-military-answer.html

      This is how empires die: $58 billion for “overseas contingency operations” in the omnibus spending bill.

      It would just as productive (and create more jobs) to build a giant marble sphinx on the Capitol Mall, featuring the fatuous mug of Obamamandias, King of Kings. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When the legions retreated from Britain (or, was it Dacia), the empire was over.

        Perhaps the lesson is, never retreat.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The Romans didn’t exactly go out with a whimper. So the potential lesson to be learned is that even when the empire is collapsing you can still annihilate some barbarians on the way out.

          It’s not a perfect world.

        2. Synoia

          Don’t be ridiculous. Rome fell in 410 AD, well after Constantine moved the Roman Empire to Constantinople, where it continued for about another 1,000 years.

          It was the western roman empire which crumbled in 410 ad.

          Rome at that time was governed by the Church.

        3. efschumacher

          Lest We Forget: the Romans retreated from Britain because they needed to protect the ‘heartland’ that had already been sacked by Attila and his running dogs. The Romans retreated because the Germans were in the process of winning. That led to the 1500 year Reich that we are still enjoying.

      2. Andrew Watts

        I can still pretend that they’re just advisers and volunteers even though the Obama administration is making it impossible to do so. That’d be the smart move as opposed to the other option.

        …and where’s your holiday spirit?!

        1. Jim Haygood

          Holiday spirit? I donated to Médecins Sans Frontières to help offset the damage that the Kunduz Killa did when he bombed their hospital.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    No surprise to most here, but the “affordable” care act is not so “affordable” after all.

    “I love my family, and I’m not going to let them go without health insurance,” said Kevin Broyles, a 63-year-old insurance broker from Knoxville, Tennessee.

    Broyles, who had been paying $629 per month for coverage from a long-standing Blue Cross plan for himself, his wife and their three children, recently got an an “eye-opener” when Blue Cross canceled his plan because it was not compliant with ACA standards. He learned the lowest-priced “bronze” plan in his area would cost $1,161 per month, or $13,932 annually to cover himself, his wife, and their two teenage children who will remain on the family’s plan.

    “This is almost 14 percent of our pretax income,” said Broyles. “If we could afford the [second least-expensive] ‘silver plan’ in our area, that would cost $1,568 per month, or $18,816 per year. That would be almost 19 percent of our pretax income.”

    Broyles makes about $100,000 per year. I can remember when that kind of income was considered “wealthy.”

    Gee, I wonder where all the “savings” from lower gas prices went.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/24/obamacare-plans-put-big-dent-in-customers-wallets.html

    1. edmondo

      See, under ObamaCare, he can get insurance, he just can’t afford it!

      And the clowns over at the DNC will sit there in wonderment why these “stupid people” continue to “vote against their own interests”.

    2. allan

      But as with a glass of red wine with dinner, too much of a good thing creates new problems. If people have insurance that pays for too much, they don’t have enough skin in the game. They may be too quick to seek professional medical care.


      (Mankiw&Summers, 2015).
      The problem with the family in the story is that
      they don’t have enough skin to get in the game.
      Which should incentivize them to get another job or two. Or vote GOP. I wonder which will happen.

      1. Vatch

        Huh. I wonder what kind of health insurance policies Summers and Mankiw have; pretty good, I would imagine. They’re both tenured full professors (not adjunct professors) at Harvard. I suspect they’re doing rather well financially, and will continue to do so whether or not they have the proper amount of skin in the game. It’s easy for people like that to demand that others should pay more.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Always love that “skin in the game” bit. If they wanted “healthcare consumers” to have “skin in the game,” they’d have put price tags on everything. That “shoppers” could see PRIOR to “purchasing.”

        Interesting concept those price tags. And pretty hilarious watching people try to “shop” without ’em.

        1. flora

          “Always love that “skin in the game” bit.”
          heh. It always comes out sounding like “pound of flesh.”

          1. ambrit

            Or, as Obamas’ “Uncle Shylock” would put it:
            “My debtor! Oh my ducats! Oh my debtor,
            Fled with an Austerian! Oh my Austerian ducats!
            Justice, the Law, my ducats and my debtor!
            A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
            Oh double ducats, stolen from me by my debtor!
            And jewels–two stones, two rich and precious stones–
            Stolen by my debtor. Justice, find the churl!”

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            Always reminds me of the movie “Silence of the Lambs.” The serial killer kidnapped his victims and starved them for a few days to loosen up their skin. Then he killed them and cut pieces of skin off to make a dress.

            Sounds about right.

        2. Pat

          I always feel the need to point out the various things the insurance industry and Private Medical jettisoned when adapting the Swiss system for the Heritage/Dole/Romney/Obama health insurance plan.

          In this case, the government also regulates all medical costs. In Switzerland if you get an appendectomy it costs X. There might be some differences of price based on Canton, but otherwise if you get it at one hospital it costs X, if you get it at another it costs X. If you have insurance it costs X, any insurance, if you don’t it costs X, Same with drugs, medical tests and doctors visits. You may not chose not to have the appendectomy, but you know what it costs.

          That and everything else they jettisoned is why the Swiss system still works. It may be the most expensive version of universal health care out there, but it still works. But we had to butcher it to have it because even though it was the most ‘market friendly’ it was highly regulated and controlled and so not market friendly. So we have the most expensive health care in the world and still do not have universal care – even with our piece of crap version of ‘reform’.

      3. Jagger

        They may be too quick to seek professional medical care.

        I don’t know about everyone else but I don’t want to go to the doctor. I suspect most people have other things to do and only go if they absolutely have to. The percentage of people who go to the doctor just because they have an urge has got to be pretty small.

        1. cwaltz

          I have co pay insurance for doctor’s visits and I still can think of at least a half a dozen things I’d rather do with the $25 than sit in an office with other sick people waiting on a doctor that may or may not tell me what’s wrong and how to fix it.

          $25 buys flowers for my garden, it pays for the movies for the family, it pays for the indoor pool for the family in our burg, it could pay for a new book from the bookstore, etc, etc

          All things I’d rather do with the money than visit with the doctor. I think it’s absurd that the insurance community is selling this idea that people are visiting doctors too quickly for no reason whatsoever(which just so happens to cost them in profits.) When individuals go to the doctor they’re going because something is wrong and they want help(whether the medical community can provide it or not is in my mind a different argument.)

    3. Carolinian

      But according to Dem shills like Krugman Obiecare is going to “nudge” us along towards a better system. Just be patient. Or don’t read Krugman.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Forgot to note that the “healthcare” insurance company “Oscar,” mentioned in the article, was started by Joshua Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law.

        I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like it might be important.

        Donald Trump “used” to be a single payer supporter.

    4. Synoia

      “That would be almost 19 percent of our pretax income.”

      That is certainly proportional to the Medical Industry’s share of GDP. Seems fair to me /s.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s just the premium portion.

        To receive actual health care and obtain prescription drugs, they will have to fork over more of their pretax income.

  8. Jagger

    Another Atlantic article, the Great Republican Revolt, which analyzes the failure of the republican elites to present an acceptable presidential candidate to their base. For the most part, I think the author is accurate in his analysis of the factors in play. I would love to see this same sort of article on the Democratic party elites. I believe they are just as clueless and just as vulnerable to a Trump like candidate.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-great-republican-revolt/419118/

    1. flora

      Very good read. Thanks for the link. GOP pundits express bewilderment about Trump’s appeal to the base. Said pundits should read this article.

    2. PQS

      “I believe they are just as clueless and just as vulnerable to a Trump like candidate.”

      This.

      Otherwise, why in the world would we be constantly force fed Mrs. Clinton over just about anybody else, by not only the MSM, which barely covers the Democratic contest anyway, being too busy with the Klown Kar, but the so-called “bloggerverse” which also seems totally in the bag for Clinton?

  9. tegnost

    From the “How bad things are” article
    “These numbers might be inflated, since I took them from groups working on these problems and those groups have every incentive to make them sound as bad as possible.”
    Obliquely related to this was my all time low point for NPR (wow that’s pretty far down…) talking about liver disease, the interviewer asked the doc if he sat up at night unable to sleep hoping paris hilton got hep B, he chuckled and said, paraphrased, well it would help with fundraising!
    Couldn’t change the station fast enough to hold down the bile

    1. Jake Mudrosti

      Good question. Huffy reactions to basic questions (as described in media reports) could be rooted in scams or delusions or some awful mix.

      Their hunger for investors & well-connected Board Members, shadowy core technologies, and lack of transparency in their methods all scream “scam.” But based on various articles, it seems that Ms. Holmes has veered into a world of really deep self-deception, to preserve a self-constructed pre-scripted narrative of a brilliant young innovator.

      Or maybe certain well-connected Theranos Board Members have set her sights on the bushels and bushels of money showered upon junk DARPA-funded projects every day.

      1. J

        But based on various articles, it seems that Ms. Holmes has veered into a world of really deep self-deception

        This has been my impression as well. But at what point does her hyping become illegal?

        The comments section was interesting as well; every ~10th comment felt like a plant.

        1. Yves Smith

          I noticed that too. A $9 billion valuation, at least before the WSJ and other media outlets started asking questions, is something interested parties would defend keenly.

  10. kevinearick

    that cookies thingy

    Artificial Intelligence Servers

    I am not going to bother detailing all the ways Family Law violates the due process provisions of all the governments assembled for the purpose, which ultimately rests upon expert testimony by government, as I already addressed those issues before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1999, and the Court has only become less relevant since. Without children, which government cannot produce, there is no economy for government, and all its income is debt, with falling living standards as the only possible outcome, because government, a contract made to be broken, produces nothing but make-work activity. Government is a brake, resisting change, until it can’t.

    You now find yourself in the wild, wild west of artificial intelligence programming. Who do you want writing the rules, and what do you want them to write?

    Funny, the majority now has no input, and no one worth their weight in salt is going to respond to a $1B bounty managed by FANG. The majority has now voted itself the right to kidnap children and confiscate 100% of income, with an automated system, and its economy is imploding accordingly, taking legacy capital down with it, precisely because it’s a closed system. The consuming majority doesn’t just want to make the producing minority a physical prisoner to its own self-destructive behavior, but demands intellectual compliance as well, which is a problem-solution if you think about it.

    The Law, governing the majority demanding equal rights, that all minorities must get in line, behind the majority, itself controlled by feudal behavior, is a hierarchy of monopolies implemented with arbitrary accounting rules written in even more irrational legal language. The majority is born into this artificial world with little hope of understanding the rules governing behavior, and so is left to replicate behavior in ever-growing derivative stupidity. All of this is easily replaced by a few lines of AI code to govern the gravity incline, and because dc programmers cannot reinvent the arbitrary wheel, and the system replicates itself like a cancer with best business practice, you can enter the code anywhere, to be copied and replicated in code libraries.

    Who is going to shut down the dc-controlled energy grid first is anyone’s guess, but you are better off being prepared. You are best off teaching your children that liberty is about taking responsibility for teaching themselves, rather than being paid in debt to avoid responsibility under the law, which is what government is all about, a majority of consumers attempting to hold a minority of producers in a state of extortion, to feed the legacy FILO bankruptcy queue from the top down, with increasing rent/income. All governments begin in moral bankruptcy, and depend entirely upon the one-way liquidation of natural resources for their existence, none of which has ever managed to exist in equilibrium with nature.

    For those with some kind of programming experience, humans complying with arbitrary empire rules are nodes controlled across a dc credit network built for the purpose. As labor, you are the server, issuing gates ad hoc, minimizing time as an empire node in one of many dimensions. That ac multiplexer handles communication across the mirrors, with which you implicitly program the empire node assigned to you.

    Humanity recognizes no predator, so it has created one with public healthcare selection, public education reinforcement, and war as media – civilized self-obsession. If we made the system widely transparent tomorrow, everyone in the middle class and capital would lose their jobs, labor would take over and become capital, and the stupidity would start all over again, with the same conclusion, History. The self-obsessed empire pays participants in their own debt to be self-obsessed, and the majority votes for it every time, becoming redundant, when it rotated out for another manufactured majority; the Internet is now just the new TV, only globally pervasive.

    Born into this artificially linear world of gravity and its derivative time, most accept it as reality, which is then reflected in the physical development of their individual and collective neural networks, forever trapping them in the past, experiencing trauma after trauma due to the opportunity cost of ignoring everything they don’t want to see, systematically shorting themselves into self-obsession. Some manage to think in multiple dimensions, eliminating time as a variable net, and some are caught in the middle, rebelling against a linear empire as the cause of outcomes, at least recognizing that trauma is not normal. Labor throws its children into the pool of this gravity at birth to trigger the instinct for survival, navigation in the space between black holes, which also provides propulsion, if they choose to put their brains to work instead of replicating the behavior they are shown, by communists bred for the purpose.

    A community cannot raise a child, a commune destroys itself every time it tries, and the arm-chair majority is just silly enough to try, always with an actuarial ponzi that would make Bernie Madoff a saint in comparison. The majority in the economic multiplier, having never seen a bond for empire infrastructure it didn’t like, is automating away their own jobs with each purchase they choose to make, complaining and doing nothing about the resulting income inequality, as they were bred to do, and Silicon Valley is making the process more efficient, globally. Does it get any dumber than that?

    By the time you are served notice for non-compliance with State mythology, the State has already gathered its evidence against you, made judgment against you, and confiscated your life electronically, with a 98% conviction rate. Whether you see socialism, communism or fascism depends upon your level of compliance, and it’s all called democracy. The AI code is simply a set of mirrors, functioning as an electrical c-clamp, employing gravity, a heaped stack, against itself.

    You may rely upon the self-obsessed socialists to fashion fascism from capitalism due to the opportunity cost of destroying natural productivity. And if you wait in line for the procrastinating majority, they will print debt as money and assign it to you as a jobs program, until you are dead and gone, when they will make a jobs program out of that, while they train your child to comply with more of the same, to seek credit as a prize for compliance. The answer to those who talk and do nothing is to do and then say nothing, until it is far too late, when the central banks are trapped themselves.

  11. kevinearick

    if you get something like firefox development tools, you can see all the calls made in processing your comments.

  12. JTFaraday

    re: Pitch: “If you really want to tick off the elites, elect a Socialist!”

    This tendency many have to transform all apparent kicking down into an allegedly real desire to kick up, strikes me as wishful thinking at best. When I think back on the kiss up, kick down people I’ve encountered in my own life and times–and one in particular stands out here– they most certainly were not kicking me because what they really wanted to do was kick the person above them in the hierarchy. Oh, no.

    They’re kicking exactly who they want to kick. I’m waiting for someone to ask if Trump is really going to be their willing tool. That was the real question.

    1. Synoia

      Trump is really going to be their willing tool

      Not a chance. For his friends, yes. However, I’m willing to bet Trump has a private enemies list, and I’d not want to feature upon that list.

    2. hunkerdown

      That’s only because they’re not used to being kicked back from below. Every manager knows that’s just a training problem.

  13. Synoia

    CITE: The $1 billion city that nobody calls home CNN.

    Ah a perfect model of a mid 1950s American city, with 35,000 residents. What a predictor of the future.

    No high rises, completely walk able, no pesky historic homes, and a WalMart.

    Wow, that’s so forward looking.

    Now what else could we do with $1 Billion? Take a bite out of homelessness?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Without a human population to worry about, the possibilities are endless.”

      My first reaction is, is this a city for robots only?

      Is that our future? Or rather, since we human have no future, but robots’ future.

  14. Jake Mudrosti

    Heh heh… I’m reminded of a paragraph in Robert Jay Lifton’s “Destroying the World to Save It” (page 96, viewable thru Google Books), describing Shoko Asahara’s doomsday cult:
    “In our interviews, he could mock himself and Asahara for their feelings of omnipotence, Asahara for wishing to be ‘the king of the earth, of the universe’ and for ‘wanting to construct a robot kingdom with robots as followers.'”

  15. RicRadio

    ‘the bezzle’ – I’m from the other side of the pond, so I had to look it up. Given the shinanigans alluded to, I tried the Urban Dictionary – oh dear, big mistake!

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