2:00PM Water Cooler 4/25/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“The Trump administration announced it will impose a 20 percent tariff on imported softwood lumber from Canada” [NPR]. “The dispute is not new — the United States and Canada have sparred over imports of forest products for decades. But the action comes as the two nations prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which President Trump has harshly criticized.”

“Canada pursues possible trade deal with China as softwood lumber dispute with U.S. heats up” [CBC].

“The U.S. business community is OK with the idea of modernizing NAFTA and using the upcoming renegotiation as an opportunity to address e-commerce and the digital economy, but any changes “must be done the right way,” Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue told a group of business leaders in Mexico City on Monday. In a speech geared toward reassuring the Mexican business community that their partners to the North remain interested in “maintaining a rocksteady strategic and economic partnership,” Donohue outlined a handful of key objectives he said should guide officials when they sit down to reopen the agreement” [Politico].

Politics

Corruption

“Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee will undermine everything he believes in” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]. Oh, man… I know editors write the headlines — the URL reads “obama-speaking-fee,” which likely indicates Matty was so gobsmacked he couldn’t come up with anything, and submitted a placeholder — which is why I’m so surprised there’s a glaring copy error: “will undermine everything” should read “shows what.” Fixed it for ya. And yes, it’s corruption: The use of public power for private ends, though to be fair Obama gets bragging rights over Hillary Clinton at Goldman on the numbers. The beauty part is that Obama’s cashing in at a health care conference (sponsored by the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald), so the fee is also Obama’s upraised middle finger to the “little single payer advocates.” Well-played, all. And somebody should ask Tom Perez what he thinks about this.

New Cold War

“Is Senate’s Trump-Russia probe going anywhere? This panel member is doubtful” [McClatchy]. Have any primary sources have gone on the record? You’d think that in a case of treason, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to get somebody to come forward…

Our Famously Free Press

“The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think” [Politico]. This is very good:

Where do journalists work, and how much has that changed in recent years? To determine this, my colleague Tucker Doherty excavated labor statistics and cross-referenced them against voting patterns and Census data to figure out just what the American media landscape looks like, and how much it has changed.

The results read like a revelation. The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too. This isn’t just a shift in medium. It’s also a shift in sociopolitics, and a radical one. Where newspaper jobs are spread nationwide, internet jobs are not: Today, 73 percent of all internet publishing jobs are concentrated in either the Boston-New York-Washington-Richmond corridor or the West Coast crescent that runs from Seattle to San Diego and on to Phoenix. The Chicagoland area, a traditional media center, captures 5 percent of the jobs, with a paltry 22 percent going to the rest of the country. And almost all the real growth of internet publishing is happening outside the heartland, in just a few urban counties, all places that voted for Clinton. So when your conservative friends use “media” as a synonym for “coastal” and “liberal,” they’re not far off the mark.

Think the Acela is gonna get funded, no matter what?

“New Mega Wall of Shame Update: Clara Jeffery” [Nina Illingworth]. “Wanted: for crimes against the memory of Mother Jones; both the magazine and the labor activist.” Good clean fun! For example–

“The Young Turks Really, Really Don’t Want You to Compare Them to Breitbart” [Mother Jones]. The headline — followed by the deck “and yet…” — presumably approved by Jeffery, is an out-and-out smear. I’d like to hear from readers on the content, but it doesn’t strike me as that bad:

At the same time [Young Turks founder Cenk] Uygur is gearing up to do battle in Democratic primaries, he’s mounting a major expansion at TYT. Since the election, TYT has raised $1.4 million in crowd-sourced donations and hired eight new staffers and contributors. The new hires largely fit Uygur’s combative model. One new recruit is Michael Tracey, a bomb-throwing former Vice writer who recently called the media’s “bizarre new obsession with (allegedly) rising anti-semitism” a “moral panic.” Other recent hires include Shaun King, the Black Lives Matter activist and former New York Daily News columnist, and Nomiki Konst, a reporter and commentator who was chosen by the Sanders campaign to serve on the Democratic National Committee’s post-election unity commission. The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim signed on as a TYT commentator, as did David Sirota, a popular progressive journalist who has recently specialized in business reporting.

Gotta say I was put off by the YT comments section last time I was there, which was some time ago. Again, readers?

Democrat Unity

“‘We must conclude that the current model, the current process by which the Democratic Party does business, is a failed process,’ Sanders said minutes after Perez left the stage in Mesa. ‘That is why I am here tonight. Enough is enough'” [CNBC]. But is that why Perez was there?

“Warning its audience, ‘This post contains profanity and language readers might find offensive,’ CNN reported Monday on the Democratic national chairman’s newfound cussing habit. At a rally in Las Vegas over the weekend, with children standing behind him, he said President Donald Trump ‘doesn’t give a shit about health care.’ That followed a rally in Portland, Maine, one week ago, where Perez declared ‘Republican leaders and President Trump don’t give a shit about the people they were trying to hurt.’ The chairman used the s-word to describe GOP budget proposals that day, and last month he said, simply, ‘Republicans don’t give a shit about people.’ All of this appears to be part of an intentional branding strategy by the Democrats” [The New Republic]. I can remember back in 2003 or so, when using the F-word was not only fun, it was a way to epater le Christian Right. But it didn’t work out that well, did it? But everything old is new again, and woke liberals have appropriated the light-hearted trope once deployed by “vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left.”

GA-06: At this point we recall that Ossoff doesn’t support #MedicareForAll:

GA-06: “Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) office removed from the congressman’s website articles about Democrat Jon Ossoff and the special election in Georgia’s Sixth District over the weekend after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution inquired about them” [Talking Points Memo]. Official sites aren’t supposed to be used for campaign activity.

“But in Omaha, the DNC’s response was greeted with dismay. ‘It was Heath [Mello]’s credibility with pro-life legislators that enabled him to take mandatory ultrasounds off the table and substitute a bill that stated that women had a choice to have one and to see the image,’ said Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, of the ultrasound legislation. The competing bill not only required ultrasounds before an abortion; it also required clinics to position the screen so that women would be forced to view the fetus” [The Nation]. “‘I wish the national organizations would respect the relationship we have been nurturing, instead of just assuming we don’t know what we’re doing,’ [ Sofia Jawed-Wessel, who teaches sexual health at the University of Nebraska] told me afterward. ‘Then they might have reframed their statement in a way that added momentum to someone we consider a strong ally.'” Of course the DNC knew what it was doing: (1) A candidacy endorsed by Our Revolution was wrecked, which is natural because the Democrat Establishment hates Sanders and all his works and (2) a 50-state strategy became harder to implement with abortion as a litmus test, which makes a lot of Democrat strategists very happy. Oh, and Randi Weingarten gets to flex some muscle, making (3) the Clintonites happy. Well-played.

“The Waffling On Abortion Isn’t Sanders, It’s Coming From The Democratic Party” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. Of course, principle has nothing to do with any of this. Wake me when the NNU cares. “*That Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia went out of his way to support the Hyde amendment has been studiously ignored by Sanders’ critics. One might conclude that something else is going on with the Sanders-specific criticism.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Are Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Changing Color?” [Inside Elections]. “If 2016 was a realignment, it was a shallow one. Yes, the Republican presidential nominee carried Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but the margins were extremely narrow: just over 44,000 votes out of over 6 million cast in Pennsylvania and under 23,000 out of almost 3 million in Wisconsin. Since some Obama-Trump voters in both states undoubtedly voted on candidate style and “change” rather than ideology, Republican nominees can’t count on the “Trump coalition” holding in 2018 and beyond. Democrats found that out during the right years of the Obama presidency. Moreover, if the president fails to deliver on key promises (or reverses himself), some of his 2016 supporters could sour on him, and his party. ” In other words, the notion of a Trump Coalition is as vacuous as the notion of the Obama Coalition was, and is likely to fail the test of battle for the same reason: Inability to deliver on promises — “hope and change”, “make American great again” — along with a corrupt and stagnant political class.

“[T]he threats the White House issued to members of the House Freedom Caucus for opposing that bill, which would have repealed much of the Affordable Care Act, aren’t resonating. And it’s evidence that, even in the Trump era, many of these hardline conservative members face little pressure from constituents to toe the party leadership line as more legislative fights loom” [McClatchy].

“Exiting the Vampire Castle” [The North Star]. ” The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism.” From the UK, but oddly familiar. For example–

“Bye bye, Bernie: He’s not fit to captain the Democratic ship if he can’t stop chasing the great white male” [Salon]. Well, either Sanders never started, he stopped, or he tried and failed. Whatever:

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, March 2017: “All elements are kicking in for housing right now with prices showing strength, permits moving up, and also sales on the climb” [Econoday]. And: “This month the backward revisions were small and the rolling averages significantly improved. This was a good month for new home sales” [Econintersect]. But: “Even with the increase in sales over the last several years, new home sales are still fairly low historically” [Calculated Risk]. And: “New home sales better than expected, but remember it’s about permits, as no home is built without one” [Mosler Economics].

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, February 2017: “The depth of strength is striking with lagging cities now reporting stronger price growth” [Econoday]. And: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect].

FHFA House Price Index, February 2017: Double consensus [Econoday]. “Rising home values are a significant plus for consumer wealth and spending and the economic outlook in general. They may also help explain the sharp rise underway in consumer confidence.” There’s no such thing as “consumer wealth,” if wealth be capital.

Consumer Confidence, April 2017: “Readings remain strongly favorable including jobs-hard-to-get” [Econoday].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, April 2017: “[T]he smaller than expected decline shows that the strong current conditions and optimism reported in March remains virtually unabated” [Econoday]. “Manufacturing executives continued to be exceptionally optimistic.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, April 2017: The rise in the confidence of global institutional investors was driven by North America, followed by Europe, with Asia weakening [Econoday]. “State Street noted that the improvement in North America and Europe is occurring despite geopolitical tensions and policy uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad, bolstered by a better glow growth outlook and expectations of higher inflation. However, the index is still shy of the 100 level mark, indicating that risk appetite is neutral and awaits details of the new U.S. tax plan and possible resurrection of the health care reform act.”

Auto Sales: “Annualized rate of total sales keeps working its way lower from last year’s peak of about an 18.5 million pace, which also coincides with the deceleration in auto lending” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Container Freight Rates up 102% in a Year [Sourcing Journal]. But: “Box shipping revival too early to call” [Lloyd’s List]. “The first few months of 2017 has offered carriers some encouragement for the year ahead with demand relatively healthy and fleet growth kept to a minimum, but it is far too early to gauge whether the year will signal a turning point for the beleaguered liner sector.”

Shipping: “China’s economy has continued to slow and is projected to grow by 6.6% in 2017, the latest numbers from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook show.Despite this, China remains a key support in the dry bulk market” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “If Tesla someday invents transformational batteries, then it will cease to be a car company and will become a battery company. The value the company creates will be in the battery, and the exoskeleton of the car will be superfluous and interchangeable with those of other car makers. Tesla is not the next GM or Ford. Investing in Tesla is really a bet that the company can transform battery storage, not a bet on its future success as a car maker” [Forbes].

The Bezzle: “For now, Amazon doesn’t intend to build a fleet of vehicles, according to people familiar with the project. Instead, the team serves as an in-house think tank to figure out how to leverage autonomous vehicles. The initiative, still in its early phases, puts a major consumer of transport services into the arena with tech giants and auto makers that are studying how to put self-driving vehicles on the road. The technology could help the Seattle-based company overcome the logistical and cost challenge of how to deliver packages quickly. And it could bring new investment to a technology some believe may see its biggest early benefits in trucking services” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Last October’s 120-mile beer run of a self-driving Otto truck for brewery titan Anheuser-Busch InBev “as a citizen, put me off,” [Danny Hefner, safety director of MCO Transport Inc., and a commercial driver] said. Noting the driver was in the sleeper cab for the entire trip, Hefner wondered what would happen, in a similar scenario, if a self-driving truck suffered equipment failure such as a blown tire?” [DC Velocity]. “Would the system be properly designed and programmed to adjust to a crisis with no human available to take the wheel to make a split-second decision, he asked? The government has created five levels of vehicle autonomy, ranging from “Level 0,” where no operational functions are automated, to “Level 4,” where the driver directs the vehicle where to go, and then relinquishes control. At that level, vehicles can be operated unoccupied, perform all safety-critical driving functions, and continuously monitor roadway conditions. For the foreseeable future, Level 3 appears to be the most realistic objective for industry and regulators to focus on. At that level, drivers can, at their discretion, turn over control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions. However, drivers are expected to remain in the vehicle and to be ready to take over its operation if necessary.”

Concentration: “Consolidation among hospitals is triggering new tie-ups among medical equipment suppliers… Hospitals have been striking deals in recent years to narrow the number of suppliers they use, in part to negotiate better discounts by purchasing more volume” [Wall Street Journal].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 39, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 25 at 12:14pm.

Gaia

“New study pegs Deepwater Horizon spill damage at $17.2 billion” [WorkBoat]. “The tally, published Thursday in the journal Science, is based on a survey of thousands of Americans that asked what they’d be willing to pay to prevent the kind of impacts unleashed by the spill, which began with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Remember Deray asking what neoliberalism was? This may help (and please click through to the whole thread, since Twitter’s miserably inadequate and random embed function isn’t showing the full scope of Deray’s seemingly commercial activities):

Deray’s continuing practice of product placement could be important: “In a landmark bout of activity, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has announced that it is, in fact, watching celebrities, athletes, and other influencers on Instagram. According to a statement from the government agency, after reviewing Instagram posts by celebrities and influencers, its staff has sent out more than 90 letters reminding influencers and marketers that they must clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships when promoting or endorsing products through social media” [The Fashion Law]. Somebody should ask Deray about this.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Alphabet Inc. company is making a rare, sweeping change to the algorithm behind its powerful search engine to demote misleading, false and offensive articles online. Google is also setting new rules encouraging its ‘raters’ — the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls ‘low-quality’ content” [Bloomberg]. Sure seems odd that there’s no way for the public to contact this 10,000-plus staff in any way. Normal editorial platforms have mastheads, named editors and publishers, and channels to the public in the form of letters to the editor, ombudsman, and reporters out in the community. So what exactly does Google mean by “low quality” content? Would Google have downrated the New York Times for Judy Miller’s fake WMD stories? Or is official propaganda deemed high quality?

“Google said it has updated its algorithms to better prioritize ‘authoritative’ content. Content may be deemed authoritative based on signals such as affiliation of a site with a university or verified news source, how often other sites link to the site in question and the quality of the sites that link” [Recode]. So would that mean economics links to, say, the University of Chicago would be deemed more “authoritative” than links to the University of Missouri at Kansas City? Seems to me the meritocracy is starting to eat its own tail, here.

“The co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is launching a new online publication that aims to combat fake news. The project is called Wikitribune, and it will bring together professional journalists and a community of interested readers to produce and publish news stories. The site will be financed by a crowdfunding campaign (that launches today) and will focus on a range of issues — from US politics to specialists science and technology subjects” [The Verge].

Class Warfare

“Days after a National Labor Relations Board official ruled that Harvard improperly conducted a November student unionization election, union organizers are again gearing up to convince eligible students to form a union ahead of a possible re-vote” [Harvard Crimson]. “Last week, NLRB hearing officer Thomas A. Miller wrote in a recommendation that Harvard did not conduct a fair election in November and failed to provide accurate lists of students eligible to vote in the election. Miller also recommended that 195 remaining challenged ballots from the election be opened and counted—at least 186 of these ballots would need to support unionization for the union to win. Unless the final results favor the union, Miller wrote that a re-vote should be conducted.” We’ve learned an important lesson today, kids…

“Although some countries most likely will de-cash in a few years, going completely cashless should be phased in steps. The de-cashing process could build on the initial and largely uncontested steps, such as the phasing out of large denomination bills, the placement of ceilings on cash transactions, and the reporting of cash moves across the borders. Further steps could include creating economic incentives to reduce the use of cash in transactions, simplifying the opening and use of transferrable deposits, and further computerizing the financial system. [“The Macroeconomics of De-Cashing,” Alexei Kireyev, International Monetary Fund (PDF)]. “The private sector led de-cashing seems preferable to the public sector led decashing. The former seems almost entirely benign (e.g., more use of mobile phones to pay for coffee), but still needs policy adaptation. The latter seems more questionable, and people may have valid objections to it. De-cashing of either kind leaves both individuals and states more vulnerable to disruptions, ranging from power outages to hacks to cyberwarfare. In any case, the tempting attempts to impose de-cashing by a decree should be avoided, given the popular personal attachment to cash. A targeted outreach program is needed to alleviate suspicions related to de-cashing; in particular, that by de-cashing the authorities are trying to control all aspects of peoples’ lives, including their use of money, or push personal savings into banks. The de-cashing process would acquire more traction if it were based on individual consumer choice and cost-benefits considerations.” Frogs in the pot….

“Cracking the Mystery of Labor’s Falling Share of GDP” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg]. Oddy, or not, no mention of unions!

Good jobs:

Not the best chart I’ve ever seen, but:

News of the Wired

“Dandelion Time….Again” [How Plants Work]. I don’t like dandelions because I think they are a sign of neglect (and even though I have no lawn, I still have dandelions!). But I dig them up. Don’t use pesticides! Anyhow, this link has lots of interesting information about the dandelion, which I just maligned so unfairly.

Today in science:

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here.

And here’s today’s plant (KH):

It’s an ice cream bean plant. KH writes: “So, this is the bloom, eventually, in late summer, the tree will produce beans that taste remarkably like vanilla ice cream. A treat for Earth Day. Aloha!”

* * *

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

Donate

Print Friendly
Tweet about this on TwitterDigg thisShare on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Facebook8Share on LinkedIn0Share on Google+0Buffer this pageEmail this to someone
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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.

151 comments

  1. TK421

    “Everything Obama believes in”? Has he forgotten about foaming the runway with HAMP, standing between bankers and the pitchforks, preserving the insurance companies at the cost of human life?

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I remember Obama saying that we needed a public option in order to keep the insurance companies honest.

      Reply
      1. Jeff W

        And I recall that President Obama reassured a joint session of Congress that the public option would be “only be an option for those who don’t have insurance” and that “less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.” So much for keeping the insurance companies honest. (And, speaking of honesty, all that more than a month after the White House and hospital/Big Pharma lobbyists had made behind-the-scenes deals that assumed that there would be no public option.)

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Nobody needs the so-called public option. And it sets a terrible precedent for, say, Social Security. Imagine a “retirement marketplace” with a bunch of heavily marketeted 401k plans, with Social Security as the “public option” for retirement. It’s a neoliberal wet dream.

        Reply
        1. Adamski

          And you are right too… I think it was on NC I saw an article with the history of the “public option” policy. From being the size of Medicare, pre-loaded with millions of people who were on Medicaid or uninsured, and able to cut deals with providers from day one, it turned into something tiny with no hope of getting off the ground by enrolling anybody or being able to organise their coverage. Maybe it’s a good thing it died in case 1% of ppl ended up in it by 2016, with no admin savings, its failure being used as a cudgel against single payer.

          Reply
  2. Jim Haygood

    Gimme shelter:

    [Real estate agent David] Fogg listed a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,240-square-foot home in Burbank for $789,000 and had three offers before the first open house Sunday. In the Los Angeles-area market, that is considered an entry-level home. The open house drew more than 100 potential buyers, most of them already weary of the competition.

    Properties sold in March were on the market for an average 34 days, down from 45 in February and 47 in March 2016.

    In order to compete, buyers are coming in with cash and dropping contingencies. That is because in such a hot market, homes are appraising well below the sale price. That makes it even harder for first-time, mortgage-dependent buyers to succeed.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/24/spring-housing-strongest-sellers-market-ever.html

    Still time to move out of your parents’ basement and get in on the ground floor with a $789K starter home, if you’ve got the dosh.

    If it wasn’t apparent, that was sarcasm. :-0

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      An unpleasant notion keeps tugging at me: that Bubble III may reach its apogee as a twin bubble, combining “Party like it’s 1999” stock prices with the “Home $weet Home,” “Real Estate Never Goes Down” house prices of 2006.

      With popular sentiment still subdued, we’re at the stage where rank envy over our peers’ paper profits on their stocks and houses kicks in, and the gains go parabolic as a collective cry echoes across the land: “WAIT FOR ME-E-E-E-E-E!!!!!!

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You build them, then rich foreigners will come.

      “When you visit or migrate to America, do as you do at home. Open minded Americans respect cultural diversity, unlike the French.”

      Reply
    3. Marco

      In a perfect world how much should a middle class starter house cost? 3x yearly income? 5x? Personally I gave up long ago ever affording a home of my own.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        The historic metric goes like this: In any given market, the median home price should be 3x the median income. If it’s a rental house for sale, it should go for 100-120x the monthly rent that you can expect to collect in that area.

        Reply
        1. LT

          But how does a society get out of the “fantasy finance” speculation about housing?
          That is deciding a house purchase reflects what they aspire to make or continue to make.
          Or on the other end, it’s just a mortgage to create other financial products to fund the casinos(excuse me…banks).

          Reply
          1. Adamski

            Steve Keen suggests PILL, property-income limited leverage. Limit a mortgage to n times the annual rental value. While it will be possible to pay more than the PILL amount for a home, you won’t be able to get a mortgage for that amount, and would have to pay more of your own cash. A negative feedback instead of a positive one.

            Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The trickle-down theory works like this:

          1 Making housing unaffordable
          2.So unemployed homeowners can take out loans to spend.
          3.You will get a job
          4. And in 100 years, you can save enough to buy that unaffordable house.

          The distance between 1 and 4 is elastic, so it could 200 years or 300 years.

          Luckily, thanks to science, and luck, you too can live 300 or 400 years.

          Reply
      2. Jim Haygood

        Depends on what “middle class” means. A 1,200 sq ft house (enough for a typical American family in the 1950s) would cost $150,000 to build at a construction cost of $125/sq ft ex land. Lots are cheap in rural areas (some under $20,000); costly in cities.

        S&P’s Case-Shiller national home price index has exceeded its July 2006 peak. But adjusted for inflation, it’s 16% below it. If inflation carries on rising at 2.0% annually and house prices at 5.8%, a new real record would be set in less than 5 years.

        Hate to say it, but the inexorable logic of Bubble III as the long-awaited MOAB [Mother of All Bubbles] almost demands that stocks and housing crest together, in twin peaks of wild, heedless euphoria.

        Currently we’re right at the flashover point where rank envy of our peers’ fat, unjustified profits from asset inflation provokes a collective wail — “WAIT FOR ME-E-E-E-E!!!!” — sending Bubble III on its final parabolic rocket ride into Nightfall.

        Didn’t Trump say “It’s glorious to be rich”? One forgets … but it don’t matter.

        Reply
      3. clinical wasteman

        In a perfect world — or even a far from perfect one like Cuba until lately or some of the self-organized South African ‘shack settlements’ [http://abahlali.org/] — zero. Or in an even partly functional ‘social democracy’ in a world center of capital accumulation, no-one in that income bracket or below should ever have to think about ownership (or hyperindebted ‘ownership’.) This has worked in various ways in various places, but it wasn’t a figment of anyone’s imagination. Two very different examples that I’ve witnessed personally: in the UK until around the time I arrived (mid 1990s, but the breakdown started with Thatcher’s selloff of housing to its tenants from 1979 or ’80), you would have had to wait on a list for a while, maybe a few years, but as a low-to-moderate-income working person you would eventually be offered permanent tenancy at a rent fixed way below ‘market’ levels then, let alone now, in a small but not squalid apartment somewhere near where you already lived. (Subsequent systematic running-down of these buildings is another matter.) This system also kept private rents for those waiting relatively low. Much lower, though, were those in Montreal around the same time, where a universal system of severe rent controls had been applied to the private sector for decades and the standard of housing available to ordinary people (or sub-ordinary in all senses like me and my friends there) was unlike anything I’ve seen in a mid-size or bigger city before or since. Because the power — or at least a reasonable amount of it — was on the tenants’ side, landlords were sometimes even somewhat civil. They were still getting their money after all, they just weren’t tormented by the thought that they might get 10 times as much from someone else, or at least not without selling up and buying into the Manhattan East Village theme park, which at the time was what London, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Auckland and Sydney are today in terms of ‘lifestyle’ pricing for housing.

        Reply
    4. ewmayer

      Here in NoCal where I live in the heart of Apple-bubble country, Cupertino, on my way in the door of my [shared 2-BR] apartment just now I pulled a stiff, glossy 6″ x 12″ advert from one of our local Realtor™s out of the mailbox. The flyer features a photo of said realtor, the quite-fetching Ms. Annie Liou, whose named is rendered in both English and Chinese characters, above a list of around 20 recently-sold local homes, listed in descending price order. Top item is a 3,730-ft^2 6-br 4|1-bath home on a 10,450-ft^2 lot: ask $2.998M, sold for $3.15M, days on market: 8. Bottom item is a 1,142-ft^2 2-br 2-bath home on a 1,440-ft^2 lot: ask $1.098M, sold at same, days on market: 7.

      Things are even wilder a few miles north on the peninsula in Palo Alto, to say nothing of tony elite enclaves like Atherton and Menlo Park, the epicenter of NoCal Dem-establishment-fundraising, which are strictly in the “if you have to ask about the price…” category.

      Reply
    5. Tom Stone

      Jim, I’m a Real Estate Broker in the Wine Country and this market reminds me of 2005.
      And I’m not the only one who sees this as a top, it’s a view shared by every honest Realtor I know who has a lick of sense.
      I don’t expect the correction to be as severe in Sonoma County this time, but 30% over the next 3-4 years wouldn’t surprise me at all. It was 50% in the last go around…it’s time to shear the next quintile.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Interesting; thanks.

        In 2005, someone shared with me his retirement plan: since his house was going up $100K a year, his plan was simply to do a cash-out refi every year and have a $100K income for life. Sweet and simple!

        Whether it’s 2003 or 2005 in analogous year terms may depend on whether true belief in permanent property appreciation once again leads to 125% LTV, no income verification mortgages.

        As ol’ P. T. Barnum used to say, “This way to the egress!

        Reply
      2. Renter

        Here in Chicagoland, housing prices have been increasing rapidly sice 2012. Since 2015, the norm has been multiple offers on decent properties. The number of offers per property have increased month over month. Now there are often more than 10 offers for the same property. More cash offers with no contingencies, including no appraisal, are becoming more common. A local banker conceded that laundered money is, in part, fueling the action. Real estate agent describes current resale market as crazy and says it is telling that the market for mortgage reselling is shrinking as prices escalate. Same agent told me that an investor she knows rents 80 single family residences in a luxury suburb, Wilmette. Definitely a supply vs demand problem as facilitated by the elites. Buyer fatigue here in the midwest.

        Reply
        1. andyb

          Ah! Chicago. Where the annual property tax will soon be equal to the yearly 80% LTV mortgage cost. It’s all about the unfunded pension liabilities, dontcha know.

          Reply
    6. vidimi

      i think we are heading towards the greatest destruction of wealth ever seen. all we need is for trump to drop one of the many matches he has lit to ignite the conflagration.

      Reply
  3. gsinbe

    In addition to the cited good qualities of dandelions, they are a great source of nectar/pollen for bumblebees, other natives, and occasionally honeybees at a time when there’s not a whole lot else in bloom. The leaves can be boiled and eaten as a green (maybe not too regularly, though) – they’re pretty mild in flavor, or added to salads. The flowers can be used to make a tea, but you’ll have to use a lot to get any flavor.

    For an exotic species, one of my favorites…

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Four or five dandelion leaves furnish the green stuff in my morning miso and tofu soup, plus a couple of flowers for pretty, season permitting. Right now I am only getting a few small leaves, so I am filling in with daylily shoots. In the winter I use microgreens (don’t need much space or light) and in a pinch, boughten baby bok choi. I keep a row of dandelion plants in my front yard garden — my neighbour said, wonderingly, “I’ve never seen anybody transplant dandelions before.”

      I gather the flower heads for salad garnish and wine (takes two years or more to clear, but worth it) and the buds are a nice nutty texture in pasta sauces. The roots, roasted and ground, make a cocoa-like beverage, but it’s a lot of work if you only have a few roots, and I like them better as greens.

      So, Lambert, if you really want to show those dandelions who is boss, eat ’em.

      BTW, you have any purslane or chickweed?Edible, tasty, nourishing and *free*.

      Reply
    2. DJG

      Dandelions are good in early spring as a kind of tonic for the body. Good on their own. Tasty chopped up and cooked with rice.

      See Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray for some dandelion ideas. She insists that these early-spring greens are good for sprucing up the liver and other internal organs after the rigors of winter.

      And then later in the season there’s purslane, which grows out of the cracks in the sidewalks in Chicago.

      Reply
      1. Annotherone

        Reading these comments brought to mind something my grandparents (back in England) used to tell me when I was very young: “You mustn’t pick or smell a dandelion or you’ll pee the bed”.

        I’ve Google-searched and found that there’s some basis for this – not quite, but near:
        “BOTH NAMES for this plant are descriptive of its properties. Dandelion = dent de lion (French for lion’s tooth) i.e. the jagged leaves; and piss-in-the-bed (the same in French, too: pissenlit) on account of its diuretic effects when eaten.”
        ~Roger Townsend (rtownsend@btinternet.com),
        More here:
        https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-2265,00.html

        Reply
    3. RUKidding

      In Ye Olden Days of Yore, my grannie used to pick dandelion leaves and make a great and tasty salad with them. Sometimes she made a hot bacon dressing for them. I think you can still find dandelion salad with hot bacon dressing in some restaurants in Amish Country in eastern PA.

      Yummy and nutricious. Weeds are often very nutricious, but it helps to know which ones to pick and how to prepare them.

      Reply
  4. allan

    Orrin Hatch Says He Can Accept Temporary Tax Cuts That Raise Deficit [NYT]

    The powerful chairman of the Senate finance committee said Tuesday he was prepared to support President Trump’s plan to cut corporate tax rates to 15 percent even if it added to the budget deficit.

    Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican finance committee chairman, is a critical voice on tax issues in Congress and support from him could make the difference in whether members of Congress fall in line and support the president’s proposal.

    Republicans in Congress have generally been against tax cuts that add to the deficit.

    File under Our Famously Free Press Will Write Beat Sweeteners for Cash.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Hatch is more than willing to accept HIS CUT of the tax cuts for corporations that will raise the deficit.

      Hatch will ensure that he gets HIS. Screw the nation, screw “his” state, screw everyone and everything except for himself.

      Isn’t that the “law” in Wash DC these days??

      Thanks, Trump!

      Reply
    2. Jim Haygood

      Let’s win one for the Gipper! Oh wait, his budget director David Stockman disagrees:

      Owing to the Fed’s systematic falsification of financial asset prices for three decades now, households at the top of the economic ladder have reaped enormous windfall gains on their business and investment endeavors. They have had all the “incentives” imaginable to swing for the fences.

      At the same time, such a huge share of the work force has been excused from the Federal income tax that little labor is being withheld from production on account of personal income tax rates, if any at all. The Donald can pretend to “pivot” all he wants, but it will be to no avail because Democrats become deficit hawks whenever there is a Republican in the White House.

      The Donald’s most recent tax plan will be DBA (dead before arrival) before even the vaunted 100 Day mark has been reached. And, besides, it would be an absolute fiscal disaster if by some miracle it were actually enacted into law.

      http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/the-biggest-tax-cut-ever-some-lessons-for-the-donald-part-2/

      Erm, I dunno, Dave. As the old joke goes, we all know what they are; now it’s just a question of price. With OPM [Other Peoples Money[, why can’t enough votes be purchased to push this through?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This part is interesting:

        The Donald can pretend to “pivot” all he wants, but it will be to no avail because Democrats become deficit hawks whenever there is a Republican in the White House.

        Interesting because the same polar reversal occurs to Republicans as well.

        Sound tools like fiscal deficit spending and taxation become ulterior-motive instruments. Conflict of interest there? On top of that, the hypocrisy of looking only at Trump’s conflicts of interest.

        Reply
    1. Uahsenaa

      Noah and I were in grad school at the same time at Michigan (different programs, though). He is not a terribly creative thinker.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      I took a look at the graph. The highest point is in 1980. After that there’s a net downward trend; most obvious if you look at the valleys. Even the peak in 1999 is below 1980’s.

      As another commenter there said, the net decline looks like about 3%. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a large portion of the peak-to-valley range and, as he says, a big hit to people’s incomes – maybe enough to explain the stagnant economy.

      Although I think the root cause is resource restraints. That turns the economy back into a zero-sum game, which explains the predacious behavior.

      Reply
    3. Marco

      Went to the comment thread there and saw the argument break out about what is “Labor” and what is “Capital”. Dean’s response:

      “…you’re welcome to develop your own definitions of labor and capital income. I am using the standard ones used by the statistical agencies”

      juat a layperson here but isn’t that part of the problem of economists waving away obvious widespread hardship with a “la-la-la I can’t HEAR you” attitude? Is the economics profession so warped or obtuse that there can be confusion over basic foundational concepts like how to define labor and capital?

      Reply
  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Structure for the DNA published in 1953.

    I have a story to tell.

    I understand the idea of the DNA structure came while the discoverers were feasting on Rotini spaghetti on a spiral staircase.

    “As above, so below. A human fetus journeys through our evolutionary story. It’s a fractal world.”

    Reply
  6. Reify99

    Are Wisconsin and Pennsylvania changing color?

    I think it has more to do with whether one colors within the lines, er, moves the lines or not. The fight against Repub gerrymandering in Wisconsin is statistically based which indicates it might have a chance at the SCOTUS. Justice Kennedy has said he’d be interested in looking at the issue if there was rigorous evidence.
    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN13H0SV

    https://thinkprogress.org/one-of-the-biggest-legal-guns-in-the-country-is-coming-for-partisan-gerrymandering-4e6d3a0385fe

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The fight against Republican gerrymandering should have started in 2000, after Jebbie tried to steal Florida using the felon’s list, and Scalia selected the President. Voter registration should have been a core party function, and the base should have been expanded.* The billion bucks Clinton flushed down the crapper of her campaign, for example, would have bought a lot of people IDs who didn’t have them. So, instead, and as so often, Democrats rely not on a democratic process but on the courts, which their base of meritocratic professionals loves.

      * Of course, that would raise awkward questions, like what the Democrats would actually deliver for them.

      Reply
      1. PhilM

        Why is gerrymandering even worth your attention? Are we not all agreed that the pyramid is so acute that gerrymandering is nothing more than intra-class squabbling among the corporations who run Washington DC, and therefore the empire?

        That’s actually not sarcasm; it is a serious question. Why does anything about the dumb-show of the so-called “federal” elections matter except to that small set of corporate clients who profit by having their government-based patron win? Surely that is nobody here?

        Reply
        1. Marina Bart

          That was my first thought, as well.

          The Democrats demonstrably want to select the voting pool just as much as the Republicans do; they merely use different metrics and mechanisms to do it.

          They literally gave away their governing power throughout Obama’s administration. Hillary was demonstrably trying to gain the presidency while ensuring she’d have a Republican Congress. This gift to the Republicans facilitated a lot of the gerrymandering. So does the Democratic policy preference for colonizing the interior and only supporting certain industries in certain concentrated locations via direct delivery of fiat currency. That’s also going to concentrate voters both by attracting more people inclined to back the party to those limited urban areas, and drive voters unable or unwilling to move to those limited urban areas away from voting for that party, which does nothing for them.

          And then there’s the problem of Dems refusing to allow non-corporatists to run for Congress and block them from funding and support if they win the primary.

          I realize gerrymandering is bad, but it doesn’t seem like the first, second, or even third thing to worry about right now — if you’re a leftist who wants leftward change.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > They literally gave away their governing power throughout Obama’s administration

            One of the goals of the 2008 Democrat platform was to restore the Republican party as an interlocutor; Obama’s faction wrote that into the preamble using this language:

            “A great nation now demands that its leaders abandon the politics of partisan division and find creative solutions to promote the common good. A people that prizes candor, accountability and fairness insists that a government for the people must level with them and champion the interests of all American families. A land of historic resourcefulness has lost its patience with elected officials who have failed to lead.”

            Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Why is gerrymandering even worth your attention?

          Mr. Information always answers questions.

          > Why does anything about the dumb-show of the so-called “federal” elections matter…

          So far as I can tell, it’s the only way forward (even if it’s an ugly way). When you think about it, it’s rather remarkable at the most popular active politician in America is an avowed Socialist. That’s a good start for more serious efforts.

          Reply
      2. Reify99

        Agreed about the democrats. In the 2016 races, the WI democrat party did not allow “Insurgents”, (their word), running against incumbents, like Monsanto democrat, Ron kind, to have access to the voters’ info. A bunch of Debbie Wasserman Schultz protégés. They need to be run out of town.

        But whatever party rises to fight needs a deck that isn’t stacked. They will rise and fight within the same district footprints.

        Incumbents in 40% of Wisconsin state races are running unopposed.

        http://wisconsingazette.com/2016/06/09/40-percent-of-state-uncompetitive-due-to-gerrymandering/

        Reply
    2. Gareth

      The Democrat party in Wisconsin is pretty much an empty shell right now. Even if they win the gerrymandering lawsuit the odds of taking back the assembly are low. They are also having a difficult time finding someone of substance to challenge Walker. The problem is that prospective candidates are finding there isn’t much of a party organization to back them up. They sure could use that money that the Hillary Victory Fund sucked out of the state under false pretenses. I’m afraid they will revert to the time worn tactic of nominating a millionaire who can self fund, although a progressive populist would do quite well. Anyone?

      Reply
      1. John k

        Unfortunately a wealthy progressive seems to be a contradiction of terms. I think the opportunities for progressive candidates are huge, though a modest amount of money helps… Townsend couldn’t scrape up 20k for a mailer.

        Seems progressive candidates should memorize and deliver Bernie’s stump speech… is anybody doing that? Why not? Is it patented?

        Reply
      2. Stillfeelinthebern

        There is a progressive populist. Mike McCabe, founder of blue jean nation. He could give Walker a real run. He would ignite the grassroots activists in Wisconsin. He is well respected. If he runs, it will mean a whole new era.

        Reply
          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I’m late to this party. Mike McCabe is very good guy with what I would call “good guy” politics. He was one of the first to call out the Wisconsin Dems for not having a rural strategy. That said, I think he is super-naive in that he doesn’t really have a class analysis or economic program at all. OTOH, his approach to politics is very similar to the complaints one often hears about politics in Wisco: no one looking out for the little guy, the only ones who benefit are the ones with connections, etc. So perhaps a campaign based on such would resonate.

            McCabe is now involved with Our Wisconsin Revolution, the Wisconsin branch of the post-Bernie “keep hope alive” effort. It would not at all surprise me if he turns out to be the OWR candidate for Gov. In fact, the more I think about it, I think I will be surprised if he isn’t. One thing his (former?) outfit, Blue Jean Nation, allowed him to do is spend a year or two traveling the state. But I’m not sure he won’t get trounced by some personal injury lawyer in a Democratic primary.

            Reply
  7. jsn

    Like Matt Yglesias, I started following Noah Smith when he began blogging right out of school.

    Like Matt, I’ve watched him grow blinder and blinder to simple obvious realities as the lures of finance journalism draw him down their remunerative sewer.

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      All of our precursors dodged the “Serpentine Ramp” that meanders “peacefully” to the killing floor.

      Looking at modern genocides, there is some commonality. (1) Marginalize the target (Deplorables, Yids, Kulaks…), (2) confiscate their homes. (3) Raise tax rates to 100%. (Report to the town square, with ALL of your valuables, for transport, by railroad, to your new homes in the East). (4) The now docile, targeted group is then killed by bullet (Nazis, Soviets), gas (Nazis, Soviets), freezing (Nazis, Soviets), starvation (Nazis, Soviets), alcohol poisoning (Soviets, USA), drug abuse (Nazis, USA), absence of basic medical care (every murderous maniac does this), absence of basic public health (clean water etc)

      IF 50% of us will get cancer at one point in our lives, AND we are members of families and extended families that number in the tens or even hundreds, THEN every single one of us is going to repeatedly face the dilemma of a child, parent, sibling … with cancer, or an infection, or a catastrophic injury or even intestinal parasites. If a simple drug that costs $5 in the UK, costs $850 in the USA……. and helps, primarily, children? This is intentional genocide…….

      https://www.ft.com/content/f0080fe4-c3ad-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

      (A simple order halting noncompetitive behavior could fix this, but NOTHING)

      This is not “market driven”, but, rather this is 100% taxation. This is exactly how Stalin killed millions in the Ukraine in the early 1930s.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Spikelets

      I am watching, from afar, this American Genocide unfold before my eyes. It seems that it has been so incremental that Americans do not fully grok what is being done to them. Even the very wealthy could not survive a few cases of protracted illness/injury in their families, without losing everything. Only the 1% and their agents are immune.

      During the Holodomor, the “tax collectors”, feasted. Much of the collected grain rotted. It was left in guarded piles, exposed the rain and rats.

      Reply
  8. Altandmain

    Interesting, but not surprising, apparently Clinton endorsed anti-abortion activists:
    https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/04/clinton-feminists-ignore-hillarys-endorsements-of.html

    Goes to show that they are willing to sacrifice their social issues to oppose Sanders.

    Nathan Robinson on Bush – he belongs in jail:
    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/04/i-dont-care-how-good-his-paintings-are-he-still-belongs-in-prison

    Pretty much nails it. Cut the fluff and social issues. These people belong in jail.

    Reply
    1. shinola

      Thanks for the links Alt.

      Nathan Robinson’s rant absolutely nails it! I would suggest that anyone who might be taking med’s for high blood pressure avoid reading the article.

      Reply
        1. RabidGandhi

          After publicly fornicating with war criminal Henry Kissinger, is smooching GWB really that far of a stretch?

          Reply
        2. JustAnObserver

          IIRC there was some kind of trial rehabilitation of Dick “Darker than the deepest black” Cheney. Seems even the deaf dumb and blind, bought and paid for, Clintonoids realised that was a smooch too far.

          Reply
        3. polecat

          The Dishonorable Nancy Pelosi should be thrown in the stammer, with George, and Hillary as well, as cell mates … they all deserve each other !

          2 despicable women …. and a punk, enter

          No one leaves

          Reply
    2. Ptolemy Philopater

      Until there are war crimes trials, this country, the world, cannot “move on”. Until these people, and I include Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barry Obama, George Tenent, Judith Miller, David Ignatius etc etc are tried and executed there can be no justice, no morality and the whole world is indicted for their crimes.

      This is no joking matter. The murderers and assassins are starting to feel the rage of the world’s peoples, they are getting nervous, their crimes are being exposed, hence the George W. Bush hagiography. They know their time is coming and are desperately trying to deflect justice, but justice must be done or we cannot call ourselves civilized beings and place ourselves above animals, “red in tooth and claw”.

      Reply
  9. Tim

    For the foreseeable future, Level 3 appears to be the most realistic objective for industry and regulators to focus on. At that level, drivers can, at their discretion, turn over control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions. However, drivers are expected to remain in the vehicle and to be ready to take over its operation if necessary.”

    Psychologists have proven this is not a reasonable expectation. Therefore if we continue to proceed down this path it is clear that the desired outcome is not safety, but consumer convenience and 100%shifting of liability from the automakers to the individual.

    Reply
    1. Disturbed Voter

      The whole point is to enslave, and shift responsibility. The ruling class has always been psychotic and malicious.

      I have studied AI, and know what a fraud it is. I will die before anyone puts me in an autonomous cattle car to Auschwitz.

      Reply
      1. different clue

        And I, in the meantime, will walk or bicycle or take the human-driven bus or take the human-driven train before anyone puts me in an autonomous cattle car to Auschwitz.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > be ready to take over

      So, the human has to be attentive at all times without actually doing anything (like driving). For hours at a time, whether on a commute, or a long haul.

      That doesn’t seem like the greatest design choice from a usability engineering standpoint. For example, with trains:

      “There are a number of hypotheses that can be made on why conductors or engineers are indulging in texting on duty : mental underload if the tasks are too repetitive and boring can push operators to look for outside stimuli, isolation can also push the operators to search for contact, excessive confidence can lure operators to think they can divide their attention successfully. […]

      In our view simply banning cellphones from train operations does not resolve the issue of safety and attention. Cell phone usage on duty, should alert us to the fact that isolation, long shifts, repetitive tasks are not sustainable and that they have serious consequences on operators’ alertness, vigilance and safety.”

      Reply
  10. LT

    Re: Trade

    Hopefully, this can be a beginning of driving a stake through the heart of the hysterical meme “anti-trade” – applied to anyone who questions, dislikes, or suggests an alternative to current global trade policies.
    Other than that, the devil’s in the details.

    Reply
    1. RabidGandhi

      Can you be more specific? If you’re referring to the Politico article, I read it as saying “Trump and Mexican Officials looking for way to turn NAFTA (eg “modernizing*” and “an opportunity* to address e-commerce and digital economy”) into the TPP and then sell it to their respective constituencies as improvements”.

      Even stakes don’t work with these ones, you have to kill them with fire; and El Donaldo ain’t no tinderbox.

      *BS tells

      Reply
  11. lyman alpha blob

    Thanks for more Nina Illingworth – she’s spot on again.

    Mother Jones is another that has gone way downhill. Kevin Drum’s articles during the campaign were absolutely puke-worthy in their fawning over Clinton and disparaging about the only current politician Mother Jones might have actually favored.

    I remember reading the actual magazine back in the day. Her slogan “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” used to be featured prominently on the cover – go to their website now and it’s nowhere to be found.

    No more fight – just watered down neoliberal pablum is all that remains. I would have said “is all that’s left” but there’s nothing left about the current incarnation of the once proud publication.

    Reply
    1. JustAnObserver

      Personally, in a huge wealth of choices, I think this one line has me cheering in my seat:

      “ … like a lawn sprinkler hooked up to a septic tank – once Jeffrey starts firing off trash-fire tweets; it’s only a matter of time before everyone in the immediate area is covered in pure, unadulterated bullshit.”

      Priceless.

      Reply
    2. robnume

      Damn right, lyman alpha blob. I got rid of “The Nation,” as well as MJ for those very reasons. And the formerly great blog “The Smirking Chimp.”

      Reply
    1. tegnost

      went to the major local rag to see if there is something I’m missing re war with korea and there’s nothing there, do you have some info that no one else has? I think water cooler has been leading with trade for quite a while, but I could be mistaken…

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        OH NO THEYRE HOARDING BOMBS! Like they have been doing since the 1950s!!!

        QUICK LETS ALL PANIC! /sarcasm

        Grey Lady is so facepalm now…

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve gotten to the point where the first thing I look for are the weasel words and the sourcing. Here are the first two paragraphs from the Times story:

        Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: a growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports that conclude the country is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks.

        That acceleration in pace — impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago — explains why President Trump and his aides fear they are running out of time.

        It’s certainly odd that no sources from the administration are cited, either. Who exactly is feeling this “sudden urgency” and “fear”? Nobody quoted, in fact no sourcing at all.

        Not to say there’s no problem, but (the usual) warmongering garbage from the Times doesn’t help.

        Reply
    2. Huey Long

      We’re not about to go to war with NK for a wide variety of reasons including:

      1. They’re in possession of nuclear weapons. This means they can wipe out Seoul, RoK/US bases, a CBG, you name it. I don’t see the DPRK wasting a nuke on Japan/Okinawa/HI though, as their ballistic missile tech just doesn’t seem to be there yet.

      2. They have a functioning, if antiquated, air defense network, in mountainous terrain, which will give us fits if operated even somewhat competently. Remember kids, even ancient tech like SA-2 SAMS can take out slow prop driven drones.

      3. They have a large enough army and enough ammunition and fuel stockpiled to, in concert with the RoK’s massive army, turn the entire Korean peninsula into an unmitigated humanitarian disaster.

      4. They possess enough submarines, mines, and anti-shipping missiles to keep USN amphibious assets far off shore, although I’m fairly certain they’d have a difficult time attacking a CBG. The logistics train of a CBG is a different story however.

      5. China has no desire to have the Korean peninsula united under the RoK government, now nuclear armed following their conquest of the north.

      6. The US does not want a nuclear armed RoK (see 5).

      7. The RoK does not want to undergo “Die Wende” in the north, especially on its own dime. Inner reunification is a whole ‘nother ball game entirely, which I foresee as being very difficult considering how isolated the North has been since the 50’s and how westernized the South has become over the same time period.

      So yeah, don’t expect the Korea situation to heat up anytime soon, and if I’m wrong I can assure you that a US victory will be Pyrrhic. North Korea is just the hobgoblin du jure, to scare the masses and divert their attention from elsewhere, namely our operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

      Reply
    3. Ptolemy Philopater

      There will be no war in Korea or invasion of Syria. The corruption of the Military Industrial Complex is all show and no muscle. The Russian Air Force can fly rings around the F-35. Of the 50 or so Cruise Missiles fired into Syria only 14 hit! If the US instigates mass murder on the Korean peninsula again, game over for the American hegemon. The US is great at murdering innocent women and children, but a determined army, forget it.

      This is all a dog and pony show for domestic consumption. The lower Trumpenstien’s polls go the more he will bluster and bellow, but when all is said and done the US will be shown to be a toothless tiger. Korea is not a former US client with a demoralized army as was Iraq. Korea has once before been drowned in a sea of blood by our blood thirsty politicians. The Koreans are determined that this will never happen again. They are motivated by a deeply held desire for revenge. Hell, we’ve been in Afghanistan for 15 years and haven’t been able to defeat the rag tag Taliban.

      US politicians have a history of murder to impress their subjects, as in Bill Clinton rushing to Arkansas to murder a mentally challenged man child, the Roman circus in Arkansas today. Your not considered a serious politician in this country unless you can kill. One must prove their psychopathic credentials to get elected in this country.

      Reply
      1. fajensen

        Your not considered a serious politician in this country unless you can kill.

        I could sort-of go along with the utility of that concept if these “serious politicians” would dare to pick up a sword, axe, rapier or perhaps the spear and put some of their own skin in the game against an equally equipped opponent.

        Murdering by Proxy requires Zero “balls”, just a solid disconnect between action and consequence that anyone living in the sheltered 1% lala-bubble-land can quite easily achieve.

        That is another way that “the rich” are different: For normal people we may employ specialists in white lab coats to reconnect them with reality when they “loose it”, but, in the case of our “leadership” “we” instead pay for media, analysts, consultants and communication experts to maintain and enforce the disconnect so “rational decisions” can be made.

        Our collective leadership is clinically insane, I.O.W. Psychotic, basically. Why would a psychotic not attack North Korea should The Voices demand it!?

        Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      You must be a new reader; there’s a structure, a template, and Trade comes first. North Korea was given plenty of coverage (by me) in Links this morning. Go there. Or farther away.

      Reply
  12. cripes

    Here’s a couple of stray thoughts:

    I keep reading about how it’s the creative, educated liberal class that populates the coasts and gentrifies inner cities, displacing those destructive (un-creative?), illiberal, RACIST, lower income types…

    But, like Bernie Bros, fake Russian news, Sarin Gas Attacks, Disruption and 9/11, is any of this true?

    First, I’ll venture that plenty of college-educated types are debt saddled and working in lower wage jobs; once I read a million MA’s and Phd’s are collecting food stamps, probably higher now…so maybe it’s not education that’s the key, it’s privilege, of which education is just a single cog.

    But that doesn’t play as well in the Atlantic or the NYT.

    As for diversity, which the rarefied liberal elites exhort us to practice in out daily lives, anyone care to venture what percentage of $100,000 plus zip codes are diverse, and what percentage of $30,000 zip codes are diverse? Maids don’t count.

    Living on the LES answered that one for me, or Amsterdam Ave compared to Riverside Drive.

    I wonder what the actual rates of racial intermarriage are within various incomes quintiles, but my interracial partner and I are too busy working low paid jobs and staying one step ahead of condo conversions to sift through the census data right now.

    Maybe one of the educated creatives with plenty of spare time can bang out some snazzy graphs for me.

    These are the same shits that forced school busing on low income blacks and whites and tsked-tsked from their penthouses at the predictable mess that ensued.

    “White liberals are (like) foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives”

    –Malcolm X

    Reply
      1. PhilM

        Don’t forget Marvel’s new Captain America. He’s diverse. That ought to teach the racists a lesson they won’t soon forget.

        Reply
        1. cripes

          PhilM:

          You’re right.

          Oddly, the first volume, “Truth: Red, White And Black” was inspired by the Tuskegee experiments. I was high school friends with the writer, Bob Morales, who passed away in 2013. He was a scathing critic of liberal BS.

          Reply
        2. Massinissa

          To be fair Phil, Sam Wilson was Cap’s sidekick-of-sorts for years back in the 60s and 70s. Was the first African American superhero, actually (Not the first black one: Black Panther did that, but hes an African native). So its exactly the same as some of the other ‘diverse’ superheroes they are pushing down peoples throats right now.

          Oh yeah, and Sam isn’t the first person to take up the mantle of Cap from Steve. When Steve Rogers ‘died’ for like a year and a half, Hawkeye took up the mantle temporarily.

          Reply
    1. Huey Long

      maybe it’s not education that’s the key, it’s privilege, of which education is just a single cog.

      It was never about education; it was and still is all about social class. Education is but one of many class markers, including where you buy your clothes, what clothes you wear, how you talk, what your parents do for a living, where they went to school, what clubs they’re members of (country or otherwise), if you “summer” and if so where and with whom, etc.

      The narrative of “Work hard, get an education, and class ascendancy is yours for the taking” is something concocted by Madison avenue to keep those of us on the bottom chasing our tails.

      Or as the late, great, George Carlin would say:

      “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it”

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > plenty of college-educated types are debt saddled

      I would bet the distribution of winners and losers from credential acquistion is not a bell curve, but a power curve. It’s the few “winners” that cause the problems…

      Reply
  13. Plenue

    Regarding the Jimmy Dore video from the SallyTomatoPi tweet. Dore has been really good of late on drawing attention to just how much nothing the Democrats have to offer. Yves has said pretty regularly that that Obama’s solution to every problem is better propaganda. Now the Democrats have made that explicit: they won’t stop talking about how they need ‘better messaging’. Certainly it’s good to have messaging; you need to inform the public about what your stance on issues is. But the Dems have nothing to message, other than vague platitudes. “Lead with our values”. But they have no values (or at least no values they want to advertise). It’s not even really trying to put lipstick on a pig, or polishing a turd. The Democrats have no pig or turd to begin with.

    Reply
    1. Adamski

      And a higer percentage of voters think the party is out of touch now than before the election. The “resist” message and TrumpRussia is not working.

      Reply
  14. Grumpy Engineer

    Boiling frogs, indeed. De-cashing is a terrible idea, and it will hurt the poor far more than it will hurt the rich. After all, it’s wealthy people who walk around with multiple credit cards and a payment-enabled smart phone all the time. But what will happen to the poor person who can’t even scrape up a photo ID for voting purposes? Who doesn’t even have a bank account? How the heck are they supposed to obtain the credit/debit cards and smart phone necessary to navigate a cashless society?

    Virtually every argument that applies to votor ID laws applies to de-cashing. Except this time the risk isn’t “mere” disenfranchisement. It could end with *homelessness* if the inability to pay bills is severe enough.

    Reply
    1. Allegorio

      What do you want to bet that as soon as society becomes cashless, negative interest rates will proliferate!

      Reply
  15. Jason Boxman

    Unless something has changed in the past few years, that staff of 10,000 is comprised of contractors who must review search query results and are allocated about 60 seconds per query. Those that can’t keep up the pace obviously aren’t kept on. So the hourly wage in practice can be broken down as a payment per query reviewed. From what I saw, it’s a mind numbing occupation where extremely high accuracy is required, hour after hour, with a minimum hourly quota per month. And yeah, no health benefits. But it’s a “work from home” opportunity, so hooray.

    And there was a manual for determining content “quality”. It was all the kind of stuff I assume everyone here does, like checking for freshness of content, whether there’s a webmaster link, if it looks like a link farm or if there’s actual legitimate content, and so forth. Somewhat subjective, of course.

    I assume the approach used for hoax content and such will be similar, but much more subjective.

    And this will probably still all need to be completed in 60 seconds, 60 times an hour.

    Reply
    1. Disturbed Voter

      Google and Wiki have always been organs of the CIA. Their intent was to encourage the dissidents to self identify, so that they can be rounded up, or turned into controlled opposition. The enemies of humanity, are both human, and not fooling around.

      Reply
  16. Adam Eran

    It just occurred to me that the preferred method of repatriating dollars is to get foreigners to buy homes. This prices the natives out of secure housing and give foreigners an unmovable asset within our borders (no messy business purchase like the port of New Orleans are permitted!). …further crushing the middle class and making home ownership something to which no heavily-indebted student can aspire.

    Brilliant!

    It even props up the value of all those foreclosures Wall Street bought in the wake of Lehman’s bankruptcy! A two-fer!

    Stick the hot money with the depreciating asset, then run off to find the next deal!

    Reply
  17. LT

    Re: “Consumer wealth” term in FHFA article…

    Since they are using the term in the context of housing, could it be a new code for “home as ATM machine”?
    “Consumer wealth” could be money they expect to be spent or other forms of extraction will be activated.

    Reply
  18. jerry

    I’m sure this has probably been documented, but did you all realize Ontario is piloting UBI program?

    The obvious (economically ignorant) argument against it is the deficit hysterics and that people will not work or do anything productive if they don’t have to, both of which are false in reality.

    If the rise in domestic demand/GDP is enough to prove the value of this program in an ever unemployed and automated economy then we could be in for a breakthrough!

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      No, the argument against is it winds up subsidizing business and drives wages lower. Why do you think all these Silicon Valley squillionaires are pumping for it?

      Reply
        1. Stephanie

          I would think the argument from business would be that a minimum wage isn’t necessary with UBI though. It would be framed as a win/win: businesses can pay lower wages in the name of competitiveness, and workers would get the UBI to make up the difference.

          Reply
          1. jerry

            Yea really depends how its structured. One program I saw reduced the UBI benefit by 50 cents for every dollar of other income you had, I suppose you could increase or decrease that ratio to whichever level you wanted in order to influence the business subsidy/incentive to work aspect of it.

            Reply
  19. hush / hush

    Re: Corruption

    Has Yglesias always referred to mainstream corporatists as the “center left”? Or have Bernie and like minded movements successfully moved the Overton window further to the left than it has been in a long time?

    Also, I’m sick of the way a lot of the punditry will trot out a vague concept like “ethics rules” then offer a deceptive definition of it (from Yglesias: “Nobody can ever work in the private sector before or after joining the government”) … and then use that as an intellectual straw man while explaining why we can’t have nice things. It’s lazy and transparent.

    Reply
  20. Jeff W

    …so the fee is also Obama’s upraised middle finger to the “little single payer advocates.”

    I dunno—the way I see it, from President Obama’s point of view, the “little single payer advocates” don’t even rise to the level of being dissed in that way by him. He would obviously have to care about what they—or the US public—thinks to do that and he doesn’t. The opposite of any sort of regard, positive or negative, is indifference and even that might assume too much.

    Reply
    1. Allegorio

      “little single payer advocates’ can’t offer $400K speaking fees, that is why they are “little”. Careerist murdering scum. Definitely destined for a bullet proof glass booth at his war crimes tribunal.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > don’t even rise to the level of being dissed in that way by him

      If you’ll look at the link, “little single payer advocates” is a direct quote from Obama, dissing them.

      Reply
      1. Jeff W

        I remember the exact quote. And I remember the post you linked to at Corrente. (And, even so, I did look at the link.)

        The “dis” I was referring to was the one you were referring to: “the upraised middle finger” of taking money at a health care conference. I doubt the guy gave a moment’s thought to single payer advocates at all as he pocketed the fee.

        Reply
    1. Adamski

      I would call them commentary (political advocacy) rather than “news”, the category they’re in. Whereas the Real News, another Youtube channel, has actual journalism and is substantial. That said I do enjoy the Young Turks

      Reply
  21. ewmayer

    “Published #OnThisDay in 1953: A structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” — and scarcely a mention of Rosalind Franklin’s crucial X-ray-crystallographic work, nor of Franklin’s trio of resulting DNA-double-helix articles in press at the same time (2 to Acta Crystallographica, 1 which appeared in the same issue of Nature as Watson/Crick but was placed so as to make it look like the X-ray data “conformed” Watson/Crick’s model, when in fact the latter relied on a sneak peek at the former and was otherwise evidence-free. Alas, Franklin died at 37 only a few years later, and thus by the inane Nobel rules was ineligible for sharing the resulting prizes, 1 to Watson/Crick/Wilkins in 1962, one in 1982. The latter ineligibility-due-to-death was arguably more cruel than the former; as Wikipedia notes:

    “Franklin’s colleague and principal beneficiary in her will, Aaron Klug was the sole winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1982, “for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.”[208] This work was exactly what Franklin had started and which she introduced to Klug, and it is highly plausible that, were she alive, she would have shared the Nobel Prize.[209]”

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for mentioning Rosalind Franklin. James Watson’s The Double Helix is, among other things, a narrative of how to avoid giving credit, if not outright theft.

      Reply
  22. LT

    Re: Vox on Obama’s $400,000 speech…

    I read the article to see if the speech would be released to the public. Any word on that?
    Anyone going to hold their breath for it?

    Reply
  23. Adamski

    Re Russia, the Harvard-Harris poll was interesting. Only Democrats and liberals are buying it. GOPers and conservatives mostly think the Trump camp is innocent, moderates are split, and independents think they’re innocent by ten points.

    Reply
  24. duck1

    Decashing society:
    We visited some early adopters of the decashing project living under a freeway overpass nearby. Talked to “Jim” who obligingly turned out his pockets to prove his cashlessness. Probably the holes in his pockets didn’t help, either. According to Jim studying MMT in early life convinced him of the uselessness of circulating currancy and from there was no turning back. He said the mission that he relies upon for food accepted payment in prayer. He felt his life was a victory, as he looked out at his neighbors who were late to cashlessness, and didn’t fit under the protection of the overpass.

    Reply
  25. allan

    Cherokee Nation Sues Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens Over Tribal Opioid Crisis [NPR]

    The Cherokee Nation is suing top drug distributors and pharmacies — including Wal-Mart — alleging they profited greatly by “flooding” communities in Oklahoma with prescription painkillers, leading to the deaths of hundreds of tribal members. …

    When reached for comment, one of the defendants, Cardinal Health, sent a statement to NPR saying the suit was a mischaracterization of facts and a misunderstanding of the law. “We believe these lawsuits do not advance the hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis — an epidemic driven by addiction, demand and the diversion of medications for illegitimate use.” …

    Nowhere has the country’s opioid crisis hit harder than in Indian Country. Compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., American Indians have the highest rate of drug-induced deaths in the country. The use of OxyContin by American Indian high schoolers is double the national average. …

    “Hard work” is the new “innovation”.

    File under Class Warfare and Native American Injustice Tipping Point.

    Reply
      1. allan

        From the article:

        Oklahoma, where 177,000 tribal members live, leads the nation in opioid abuse. Almost a third of the prescription painkillers distributed in that state went to the Cherokee Nation.

        Population of OK: 3.911 million. Population of Cherokee nation within OK: 177,000
        = 4.5% of OK pop., not 33% of OK pop.

        You left out the

        Compared with other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., American Indians have the highest rate of drug-induced deaths in the country.

        Or is your point that some victims of the opioid scourge are more deserving of our empathy?

        Reply
        1. bob

          “Or is your point that some victims of the opioid scourge are more deserving of our empathy?”

          “Nowhere has the country’s opioid crisis hit harder than in Indian Country.”

          It’s the FUCKING POINT of the article you quoted from. This is kindergarten level writing. I bet it sounds great when read. Maybe with an english accent, for authority and added cynicism.

          “Compared with other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., American Indians have the highest rate of drug-induced deaths in the country.”

          It also seems to be the point to deliberately mix up “Indian Country” with “American Indians”, whatever the fuck those two terms mean. It also slides from opiates, to “drug induced death”. Given that there are more drugs than just opiates, it doesn’t follow that all of the deaths are from opiates.

          This is the worst sort of liberal sermon- Speak up about a glaring, glad-handing, nonsensical statements, get shouted down as a bigot and force fed straw.

          Now sit down and take your NPR medicine. Nice Polite Republicans. The sermon will resume after a message from your betters.

          Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      The “hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis” is much like the American Hospital Association’s diligent work on “tools for better price transparency.”

      Having price transparency without posted prices is a subtle and elusive quest, which is occupying the finest minds among American health care managers.

      Likely the breakthrough will be a variant on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, such that you can know the procedure code, or you can know the price, but you cannot know both simultaneously.

      What is the sound of one hand clapping?

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > such that you can know the procedure code, or you can know the price, but you cannot know both simultaneously.

        Could any medical billing experts comment on this? I think Haygood meant this as a joke, but I can envision aggregating procedure codes in such a way that mapping price to code really was literally impossible. Is that done? There would seem to be every incentive to do so.

        Reply
  26. allan

    Trump Plans to Seek Tax Rate of 15% on Owner-Operated Companies [WSJ]

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday is planning to unveil a proposal to cut corporate taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits and to slash the top tax rate on so-called pass-through businesses,
    including many owner-operated companies, to 15% from 39.6%, said White House officials familiar with the planning. …

    So, he can technically fulfill his promise to get rid of the carried interest scam while, due to the self-incorporations that will bloom like mushrooms in the night, effectively doing nothing.

    File under One Hundred Days of Potemkin Populism.

    Reply
  27. freedeomny

    ” I don’t like dandelions because I think they are a sign of neglect (and even though I have no lawn, I still have dandelions!). But I dig them up. Don’t use pesticides! Anyhow, this link has lots of interesting information about the dandelion, which I just maligned so unfairly.”

    Yes – the dandelion is dissed in so many ways…and yet it is so delicious! I foraged up some ramps (only take the leaves), mustard garlic and some dandelion greens in my local woods this past weekend. It made a lovely fritatta with some mushrooms and cheese. The leftover ramp leafs were dehydrated in the oven, ground in the coffee grinder and mixed with sea salt. The aroma is swoon worthy….:)

    So–please give dandelions and other wild growths another chance! There is stuff to be eating in your own backyard!

    Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    The original Permaculture books, by Mollison, have most of a book dedicated to a list of useful plants, with their uses.

    Dandelions have the longest single listing, with the most uses. There is a reason they were introduced. Not only are they edible, they can be used as a source of rubber.

    And an anecdote: During WWII, the US made a serious effort to grow dandelions for rubber. I had a chance to talk with a man who participated in that research; he said that as soon as you set out a large monoculture of dandelions, you were dealing with a great many pests and diseases.

    And: as you may have noticed, digging them out doesn’t kill them. They grow back from tiny bits of root. You can keep a lawn fairly clear of them that way, but it will take many hours of labor – so yes, they’re a sign of neglect.

    After many years of digging them out, I’ve decided they’re very pretty. Don’t actually eat them, though. I’m told they make a good winter green, as they’re evergreen here.

    Reply
  29. bob

    “At that level, drivers can, at their discretion, turn over control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions. However, drivers are expected to remain in the vehicle and to be ready to take over its operation if necessary.” ”

    This point is never analyzed properly- All of the techno-utopians claim that “self driving cars will result in much more organized, orderly traffic management. They’d be “networked” is the handwave.

    Where are the cars that can speak with each other, and THEN be able to analyze and network with each other? That might POSSIBLY result in sort of gain. But, that’s not proof. Or even anywhere near reality.

    The current state of the art is barely capable of running protected, pre-progammed routes with HUGE resources dedicated to keeping one vehicle on the road, tire-side down. The next version will worry about pedestrians.

    “we’ll be much better with LOTS of them”

    Didn’t the banks pull this one too?

    Reply
      1. funemployed

        They could probably handle this. Bit more concerning to me is what happens when a bored teenager figures out how to hack the system and disable 10 million cars’ autopilots at once.

        Reply
  30. different clue

    Around SE Michigan there live numbers of Canada geese. In late spring-early summer, I have seen in suitable parkland area goose-groups of two or three adults together with 40 or more goslings loosely packed in a semi-tight herd. I watched the goslings very carefully to see what in the lawn they were feeding on. They all, to a gosling, were pulling up or biting off dandelion plants and eating them.

    Dandelions have deep roots and can drag nutrient minerals up from deeper soil to the surface and incorporate these minerals into their own leaf and stem tissue. Perhaps the goslings sensed the value of this dandelion nutrition.

    Reply
  31. Musicismath

    Always good to see Mark Fisher’s “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” essay linked. As always with Fisher, it’s a rigorous, thoughtful, clear-headed and above all original piece of writing. Of course, he was utterly pilloried and effectively blackballed by the social-media “left” for writing it, and I can’t help but see the whole affair in the context of his tragic suicide earlier this year.

    The way the knives came out for Fisher; the way certain Twitter users greeted news of his death with glee. The same sorts of people who might have happily voted for Blair and Brown but couldn’t countenance a vote for Corbyn due to his “managerial incompetence,” but who nevertheless still see themselves as being so, so left. The sorts of people who “should have known better,” but excuse their bad behaviour on the basis that they just *care so much* and let their feelings run away with them sometimes, and that’s not bullying or abuse, is it?

    The sorts of people who went to Oxford, but we shouldn’t hold that against them because they sympathise so very deeply for all those trauma victims and marginalised people in countries and communities far, far way. (But not, oddly enough, for any of the homeless people clustering around the entrance to the local tube station. They’re just obstacles to be stepped around, mainly.)

    It couldn’t be that their eagerness to denounce and silence a working-class man with an East Midlands accent who’d gone to Hull and Warwick but still presumed to occupy the same discursive spaces as them, and what’s worse, actually say something, had anything to do with class, could it?

    Reply
    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, Fisher’s “The Vampire’s Castle” is a splendid essay. I remember reading it one bright November morning in 2013 looking over a beautiful kettle pond and experiencing that wonderful uncanny feeling of someone expressing exactly what you’d been thinking for quite some time but had never quite articulated.

      His passing has been very sad. I had no idea about the twitter reaction, but while horrified am not exactly surprised. Neither, I think, would Fisher be surprised — indeed, it proves precisely his point, I would think.

      I’m very glad to see NC bring attention to his work.

      Reply
  32. Victoria

    Dandelions are the first food most bees get when they wake up from their winter nap! Do not dig up your dandelions–eat the greens for a healthy wild salad!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *