2:00PM Water Cooler 9/3/14

For those who wish scan for links, they are now enclosed in square brackets: [Naked Capitalism]. And this is a less conversational format. What do you think? –lambert


(Here we go on MH17. Or not!) “(Wim van der Weegen, spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board) told the news outlet that the report would take into account information from various sources, including flight data recorders, information from air traffic controllers, radar and satellite data, as well as the conclusion of international investigators that visited the crash site.” [World News Report]. (Posturing on Russian warships.) “(Hollande’s office:) The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorise the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place” [BBC]. (Posturing on Ukrainian gas.) “Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, responding to a Ukrainian proposal to pay seasonal prices for Russian gas, has said Moscow would resume supplies only if Kiev paid down its ‘astronomical debts’ and named a gas price well over that previously cited by Kiev” [Telegraph]. (And now a ceasefire?!?!) “After conflicting reports on a possible cease-fire deal for Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have agreed on a plan to settle the conflict and called on Kiev to pull out its troops from the disputed areas and for rebels to stop their military operations, particularly in Donetsk and Luhansk” [USA Today]. (Agreeing on a plan is not the same thing as formally signing an agreement, however. And in any case, Russia can hardly sign a ceasefire agreement to a conflict they are not officially involved in. So what the “rebels” say counts.) “The Interfax news agency later carried positive remarks from top rebel commander Miroslav Rudenko, who said ‘there’ll be no sense in a military solution to the conflict’ if Kiev was to withdraw its troops” [AP]. (And a rather jaundiced view of said ceasefire.) “Here it is, folks, the ‘off ramp’ we all have been looking for. … Why has the chocolate mogul (Poroshenko ) agreed to this? Simple. (T)he Ukie forces drove forward with great enthusiasm to their own doom and now are surrounded in pockets all over SE Ukraine. Yes, the great Prussian Gerd )von Runstedt)’s musings over ‘culminating points’ have proven fruitful yet again. Will the United States let the world “off the hook” by accepting this outcome?” [Turcopelier]

Whither ISIS?

(How are we supposed to Google on these stories if the Powers That Be can’t settle on consistent acronyms?) “‘Our objective is clear, and that is: degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States,’ Mr. Obama said Wednesday, using the acronym the administration prefers for the Islamic State (IS), which is also known as ISIS” [Christian Science Monitor]. (Beheading works!) “Sixty-seven percent of Americans now identify ISIS as a ‘major threat’ to the U.S., more than Iran’s nuclear program and second only to al-Qaida. Until recently, ISIS was dealing with a White House that was extremely reluctant to involve itself in more Middle East conflicts. Now it’s facing a U.S. public that wants action and an administration that’s going to have a much harder time avoiding it” [Slate] (Yet another self-licking ice cream cone.) “Though the militants of ISIS would undoubtedly be horrified to think so, they are the spawn of Washington. Thirteen years of regional war, occupation, and intervention played a major role in clearing the ground for them. They may be our worst nightmare (thus far), but they are also our legacy — and not just because so many of their leaders came from the Iraqi army we disbanded, had their beliefs and skills honed in the prisons we set up (Camp Bucca seems to have been the West Point of Iraqi extremism), and gained experience facing U.S. counterterror operations in the “surge” years of the occupation. In fact, just about everything done in the war on terror has facilitated their rise. After all, we dismantled the Iraqi army and rebuilt one that would flee at the first signs of ISIS’s fighters, abandoning vast stores of Washington’s weaponry to them. We essentially destroyed the Iraqi state, while fostering a Shia leader who would oppress enough Sunnis in enough ways to create a situation in which ISIS would be welcomed or tolerated throughout significant areas of the country” [Tom Engelhardt].

Ebola: The virus isn’t the only problem

(Crazy idea, but maybe if West Africa had Western-class medical infrastructure ebola’s mortality rate would be a lot lower.) “‘It’s spiraling out of control. The situation is bad, and it looks like it’s going to get worse quickly,’ said CDC and Prevention director Tom Frieden. … It’s spreading from rural areas to big cities. … It’s hit fragile health care systems and overwhelmed staff. … It could threaten the food supply… There’s no effective treatment …. The WHO says as many as 20,000 patients are within the realm of possibility” [World.Mic]. (Drug wrap-up with important qualifier.) “It’s important to study and roll out new Ebola drugs and vaccines, but not at the expense of measures that we know work. We know that supportive care — to maintain adequate blood pressure, replenish lost electrolytes and treat complications — can reduce mortality from Ebola, but access to such care remains limited in West Africa. And while some of the new drugs may prove effective for treating Ebola patients, it’s unclear whether they will prevent spread of the virus from person-to-person. An epidemic can’t be contained if transmission isn’t blocked” [Reuters]. (Cultural practices.) “Mostly, Liberia has tried to get its people to stop touching bodies. The Liberian Red Cross began conducting burials in full waterproof bodysuits, hosing the bodies and graves in bleach. The U.S. Agency for International Development has donated 5,000 body bags, which are making their way into Liberia’s Ebola-infected hamlets. Radio announcers urge listeners not to bury their own relatives.” [WSJ]. (Infrastructural issues.) “(Medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail:) Ebola is a terrible disease. It is more terrible in countries without basic supplies. But I don’t think that fanning the flames of Ebola fears are going to solve those problems. We should be more worried that the basic infrastructure isn’t there. I’m more frightened of MERS, for instance, than I am of Ebola. Ebola cases might trickle into the U.S. or other cities” [Scientific American]. (Class warfare issues.) “(Dr. Paul Farmer: The ebola epidemic) is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic systems of healthcare delivery. … We’re talking about Medieval-level health systems and a modern plague that’s going to spread. And when we can overlap modern medical systems and modern public health systems, then we can see what the case fatality really would be” [Democracy Now].

Ferguson Isn’t Going Away

(Clearly, the Stasi need moar better PR.) “‘They didn’t even cover him up with a sheet, they just left him out there for everyone to see,’ (Stevon Statom) said of Brown. The message was clear to him and his friends: The lives of young black men are disposable.” (Michael) Brown’s killing was the straw that broke the camel’s back — a sentiment echoed by nearly everyone with whom I spoke in Ferguson” [Vice]. “(Compared to Jena) Ferguson is an altogether different story. There are multiple grounds of leadership, multiple organizations working on the ground to register people to vote, advocate for changes in legislation, and create teams of people to monitor the police. … As we piled back onto the buses, throughout the weekend, that is the refrain – “we are unafraid to die” — that stuck with many of us, that let us know something is different.” [Salon] “After raising more than $400,000 for the police officer who killed an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., two donation pages were shut down without explanation over the weekend” [McClatchy]. (And I expected Holder to be as effective with cops as he is for banksters. I was not disappointed.) “In remarks since his visit, Holder has argued that the tensions at play in Ferguson are nothing new. He said there is ‘mistrust and mutual suspicion’ with law enforcement in some communities, and argued the time has come for a national conversation followed by ‘concrete steps’ on policing, led by the Justice Department” [The Hill]. (Oh. A “national conversation.” So that’s alright then.)


(Dean Mafia at work! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) “The defining battle of the 21st century is between open and closed systems and New York State is one of the ultimate closed systems. Politics here in our home state is systematically corrupt, in the sense that self-dealing and lack of accountability are the norm in Albany. Three men–the Governor, Andrew Cuomo, the Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver and the Senate Majority leader, Dean Skelos–make all the decisions about the state budget with no transparency or participation by other legislators, let alone the public” [TechPresident]. (New York real estate is, of course, famously corruption-free.) “In late July, one day after the release of a damning news report that accused the governor of directing the Moreland Commission to stop investigating his real estate ties, some of the industry’s biggest names sent an unequivocal message of support. In a 24-hour period, they and other business leaders opened their checkbooks to the tune of $329,950 for his campaign — among the largest single-day hauls in this entire election cycle” [The Real Deal]. (Profiles in courage.) “(Cuomo:) ‘I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy. So anyone who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn’t watched all the debates I’ve been in'” [Village Voice]. (Progressives for Corruption signs up a new member!) ” Under attack by liberals, Gov. Cuomo’s running mate Kathy Hochul will receive a ringing endorsement Wednesday from the leader of the state’s progressive Democrats, Mayor de Blasio, the Daily News has learned” [New York Daily News]. (Wu on Hochul.) “Wu: Remember when Democrats had the big walkout to protest the Holder contempt vote? She stayed with Speaker Boehner and voted with him. She took several votes to repeal Obamacare. Her environmental record is probably the most conservative in the caucus. That was all supposed to be secret and hidden. But it’s like a time bomb” (Slate).

Readers, feel free to send me (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) images of plants. Vegetables are fine! See yesterday’s Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s a plant:


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Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Ned Ludd

    On Firefox 31.0 (Linux Mint) and Firefox 32.0 (Windows 7), there is a design issue with the headings. The headings are close to the preceding text but farther from the subsequent text, when it should be the reverse (from a design perspective).

      1. Larry

        Hi Larry,

        I recommend going with the Firefox ESR.


        It’s a pretty great way to keep some stability in your browsing experience. Yeah, constant updates are great (we’re in Beta, always!), but sometimes those updates fuck up some things. ESR can help smooth your browsing experience, as long as you don’t mind losing some of the latest and greatest updates.

  2. Mahesh

    The water-cooler links format appears to be broken. Not sure if it is intended.
    Most likely , you are already fixing it.

      1. Ned Ludd

        He’s a rabbit; he’s looking for a certain colorful root crop.

        Bugs Bunny was wrong,” said Rachel Roxburgh, an animal scientist for the [RSPCA]. “We want all pet rabbits to be eating hay as their main food. People also think their rabbits should eat carrots because that’s what Bugs Bunny does.

        “But he’s a cartoon, real rabbits don’t talk, and they shouldn’t be eating carrots too often either.”

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you are really a rabbit.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probably Victorian etiquette that we don’t show roots. Better that we cover those parts.

        Of course, there are ‘exhibitionist’ plants that like to show off, like the banyan tree.

        But most plants are ‘modest’, even though, in fact, iactually, flowers are how some of them reproduce.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Flowers are the sex organs of plants. It isn’t a coincidence that we like them – they’re designed to attract animals. Attracting people has proven an excellent survival skill.

          There used to be a building in SF whose outside walls were as mural of gigantic, and very sexy, orchids. It was a porn theater.

      3. craazyman

        I’ll send you some leaves and branches. Not sure about the roots, but there might be a few if somebody looks hard at the grass.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      This place is a hotbed of anti-fungists.

      Mushrooms, damnit!

      And more cowbell . . .

    1. Ned Ludd

      Where they are holding the “peacekeeping exercises” is the heartland of Ukrainian fascism. The nearby city of Lviv is run by “the hard-right antisemitic Svoboda, whose leader Oleh Tyahnybok claims that a ‘Moscow-Jewish mafia’ controls Ukraine.”

      The party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torchlit march earlier [in January] in memory of the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera…

      1. different clue

        Apparently nowadays one is expected to show which side one is on by how one pronounces and spells these city names. Perhaps to show a studied sense of neutrality one should speak of Lvoviv or Livov, Luhagansk or Lugahansk, Kharkoviv or Kharkivov, etc.

    2. larry

      I have two conflicting views of Ukraine. I remember that it was the first country to translate Animal Farm and Orwell wrote a preface for that edition, and we mustn’t forget how the absurd Foreign Office tried to get Orwell to change the top animal from pigs to some other less insulting kind though they relented when Orwell pointed out that pigs were a farm’s most intelligent animals. Then I remember that part of the country is currently run by fascists.

      How to feel? What to do? I never had much hope for a cease fire.

      1. Carolinian

        Apropos of nothing: My movie biz buddy sent me this link of an old Hitchcock film being shown on the Odessa steps as part of a film fest this summer. For non movie buffs the Odessa steps played a prominent part in film history in Eisenstein’s silent film, Potemkin.


        So despite the Odessa trade hall massacre and other unrest life goes on in parts of Ukraine.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And the beautiful red of the plantidote reminds me of the flag in that area of Eisenstein’s era.

      1. lolcar

        Looking through all those links. It really is just, “See the active armour on the turret of that one tank. It’s slightly differently shaped than the armour on a Ukrainian tank.” “See the fittings on the rifle that soldier is holding. Looks like the fittings used by the Spetsnaz.” “See that fuel carrier – it should have “flammable” written in Ukrainian not Russian.” Is this meant to be unambiguous. If this really is a Russian invasion they must have been ordered to attack a numerically superior force of Ukrainians who supposedly had the rebels almost completely surrounded while leaving all of their most modern equipment behind, crossing the border in small groups to avoid satellite surveillance, and operating without air support. During this attack the Ukrainians captured or destroyed no material that can be examined and unequivocally identified as Russian. Nor did they capture or kill any Russians whose faces – even if they weren’t carrying any identification – could be broadcast for identification by their relatives back in Russia. Does any of this sound remotely plausible ?

      1. ewmayer

        And of course the location/date/provenance of those “Russian invasion tanks” have been independently verified by multiple non-interested-parties, right? Just like the Youtube videos of the “Buk batteries fleeing back to Russia! [just ignore that location-telling roadside car dealership sign in the background]” after the MH17 crash, right? Keep spewing that “Kiev says!” and “Western MSM outlet parrots something Kiev says!” propaganda, Murky … maybe you`ll be able to convince yourself it`s true, even if you can`t convince anyone with a semi-intact critical reasoning ability.

        Here is a good antidote to help “cut through the Murk”:

        How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine?

        1. Murky

          Golly, you just might be right. Those videos could be falsified. No question about it. Sky News probably lies all the time. I don’t have evidence for that, but it’s definitely possible. Them news channels could be like Borg drones all under control of the Neoliberal overlords. Whoever they are. Every outlet of the mass media must be under state control. And none of them can ever be trusted. Without your seal of approval that is. More sinister still are those average citizens recording events with their personal video cameras or iphones. It’s all staged! Doesn’t matter if there are clear landmarks in a video identifying highways, buildings, and places. That could all be photoshopped. Or sent to Hollywood for special effects. Or there’s a giant basement at CIA headquarters, where armies of neo-liberal neo-conservative neo-nazi drones perpetrate mass video falsifications. Wow. Genius observation, Ewmayer. Can you be our official spotter for fraud here at Nakedcapitalism? You’ve got such talent! Keep the comments coming! And thanks for sharing.

          1. hunkerdown

            Now that you’ve exhausted yourself on busting down your carefully constructed generalization, you are aware that news publisher in particular has a very well-documented history of bending the facts to fit the narrative, right down to a SCOTUS decision that legalizes lying in the “news”, aren’t you?

            You might try a source that’s not in the Five Eyes or NATO alliances, whose members’ statures stand to directly gain from starting a war.

            1. Murky

              Hunkerdown wrote:

              “That news publisher in particular has a very well-documented history of bending the facts.”

              Uhm, you have evidence for that, right? Please make your best case about how Sky News falsifies videos.

              We gonna get the low-down from Hunkerdown. He gonna beat down Sky News! Yeah!

              1. Yves Smith

                You could try using Google. I tried “Sky News” + falsified, and on the first page of Google found two incidents, repeated on that first page, of Sky getting FINED in the UK for broadcasting fake news on the Iraq War (who ever lies so badly on TV that they get fined, save for slander?), and of Sky accusing the NHS of falsifying records and being wrong about that (there were lots of errors, but that is not the same as deliberate misrepresentation).

                So keep putting your foot in mouth and chewing.

                1. Murky

                  Not good enough Yves. So Sky News get a story completely wrong once in a while. So what. Out of thousands of stories that are reported correctly. Your effort here to discredit Sky News will take a whole lot more work than, Oh! I did a google search! Most likely that Sky News video of Russian troops in Ukraine is legit.

                  You excel at reporting financial fraud. Thank you for that. But as regards the war in Ukraine, you have become a crass propagandist for the Putin regime.

                  Dogpile! Guns and knives! The Queen Bee has been insulted!

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    Way to move the ol’ goalposts, there, Murky.

                    I’ve always wondered over the question why so many people who seem to pride themselves on their capacity for strategic insight end up by insulting the moderator; you’d think that’s the very last thing a successful strategist would do. ‘Tis a puzzlement!

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      HORATIO (aside to HAMLET) His purse is empty already. All ’s golden words are spent.

                      * * *
                      He being Osric, a foppish courtier. Foutre le camp is, I think, the phrase I’m looking for.

                  2. Yves Smith

                    Wow, an ad hominem, straw man, and logic failure. All signs of someone who has run out of arguments.

                    Among other things, “not A” (not supporting the US /Nato position on Ukraine) is not B (supporting Putin), particularly since we were talking about the veracity of reporting on Sky Network. But a propagandist would conflate the two. In other words, your remarks look an awful lot like projection.

                    1. Murky

                      Not ad hominem. Not straw man. Not logic failure. What I wrote I believe to be fact. It’s no coincidence that you were offered a job at Russia’s RT television. Because, they employ propagandists. You have labeled the leadership in Ukraine on more than one occasion as ‘fascist’, and alluded to them as ‘nazis’. This is exactly the sort of defamatory language which propagandists use. Whereas in fact only a small percentage of Ukrainians in government have extremist political affiliations. Lambert rants constantly about a CIA coup in Ukraine, but he has never produced any evidence whatsoever. These are the tactics of propagandists. Allegations without factual substantiation. Same with the video. You make allegation that it’s bogus, but you have absolutely no proof.

                      And if you are so damned concerned about the veracity of Sky Network reporting, then write a flipping article with some real depth, more than 2 or 3 sentences of dismissive comment. Show me where and when Sky Network has falsified videos, because that’s what this whole argument is about, nothing less. Oh I hear your refrain! “I don’t take assignments.” Well then your beat-down of Sky Network is not substantive. Broaden the discussion if you like; it’s pertinent to other Western media. Does the New York Times deliberately falsify stories in any systematic way? No doubt they twist the truth on countless occasions, but that’s not the same thing as open falsification or lying.

                      I suspect this discussion is going absolutely nowhere. Fine by me. But that won’t resolve issues about the credibility of Western mass media, particularly in war reporting. It’s a topic that deserves careful scrutiny.

                    2. Doug Terpstra

                      Murky sounds like an obnoxious angry drunk, spewing nonsense and spittle in all directions. Unable to follow his own arguments or others’, he covers his obvious confusion with aggressive bravado, and then imagines he’s issued something truly profound. Although most drunks’ boorish machismo and incoherence vanish in the morning and from their own blessedly impaired memory, Murky’s now remain on public record. He’ll probably want to find a new pseudonym to hide behind, but it’ll be hard to find one so fitting.

  3. EmilianoZ

    RE: France reneging on the delivery of the defense purposed vessels

    Whatever happened to the sanctity of contract?

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Apparently, France never considered that this military equipment would ever be used for military purposes.

      Do over.

    2. Carolinian

      If they don’t deliver the ships they will owe the Russians a multibillion euro cancellation fee. This is the first I’ve heard them even hint at cancelling.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        During the Sino-Franco War of the late 19th century, France asked Germany to delay the delivery of the Dingyuan, a pre-dreadnaught battleship that, according to Wiki, that “would raise the Beiyang Fleet to an equal status with the fleets of the European powers stationed in the Far East.”

        And “Dingyuan was a very powerful ship and would have drastically altered the balance of power in China’s favor had it and her sister ship been available at the time of the conflict.[1]”

        But I think Russia today is no Qing empire nor Peter the Great’s Russia.

  4. Ned Ludd

    I wonder how Martin Luther King, Jr. would respond to calls for a “national conversation”, to be followed, later, by concrete steps.

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.”

  5. Kurt Sperry

    The bracketed links looked strange to me at first, but I think I like it.

    I like this format innovation too, thanks for trying new stuff out that might be better.

  6. abynormal

    btw, i eyeball ‘recent comments’ and kept wondering why everyone was still yakking on 9/2 thread
    now i am :-/…well the waters still fresh’)

  7. Banger

    Great format–keep up the good work!

    ISIS, IS, ISIL or the term I prefer “the bad guys” (when we played guns in the fifties we used to just call them “the bands”) are now in BIG TROUBLE. The propaganda organs have scored a victory–it’s managed to get everyone worked up by staging a dramatic but short on believable video with Mad Avenue touches to arouse the ire of the populace–whoeeee we’re going to WAR once again.

    Uncle Joe Biden is in fine form imitating the antics of my man Rowdy Roddy Piper or any of the many great names in that golden age of pro-wrestling. Finally the world of pro-Wrestling is the World–I’ve been waiting for that. Thank God they didn’t have blow up buildings anywhere to get the American people screaming for blood! Whether the beheading execution was real or not it was show-biz 100% by a group that wants an enraged American populace to throw money at the MIC–is there any other explanation?

    1. ewmayer

      U.S. says Islamic State video of journalist’s killing is authentic: An Islamic State video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff in reprisal for U.S. air strikes in Iraq is authentic, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said on Wednesday

      “The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic,” — Like they “analyzed” the evidence for Iraqi WMDs in 2003, and last year`s “poison gas attack by the Syrian regime”, and the recent “Russian invasion of Ukraine”? Okee-dokee.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Ah, if only they would limit themselves to kayfabe instead of actually blowing shit up and killing people.

      Eh, no money to be made that way.

  8. McMike

    Sorry to miss the conversation the other day re Burning Man Jumping the Shark.

    The obvious connections were made to the rich’s propensity to hijack anything with cachet or monetization potential – I can think of a zillion examples of earnest community assets and institutions that were built over a long period by grassroots organic effort, only to be destroyed by their own success as soon as they fall into the radar of the elite; usually by the two pronged attack of rich participants who ignore the cultural norms and impose new expectations, in symbiosis with “entrepreneurs” who expropriate the asset for their own profitable use/ownership.

    It is, I think, a natural consequence of the capitalist system, if not the human condition. Tragedy of the commons as it were.

    However, was curious to see no mention of the Grateful Dead, or music festivals.

    The Dead in particular jumped the shark at various points in time, depending on who you ask. Back when Pigpen died, if you ask the really crusty really old hippies. Or with Kieth and Donna. Or Bobby’s Pink Guitar. The release of Touch of Gray…

      1. abynormal

        magic! exactly. one night my 6yro daughter & i watched a dead show on pbs…i lit candles and told her she was in for a surprise. i explained she’d ‘get it’ or not and either way she’d remember the experience. didn’t take long for me to transport back 2 shows id attended. smiling i looked over at my daughter and she was swaying…eyes watering.

        burnt man couldn’t touch that.

        1. abynormal

          wow that took me somewhere i didnt see coming. my daughter turns 21 next mo…she’s moved to FL and i miss her more than words can describe.
          hope she still remembers to sway…

          lots of tears now…but good ones, Thank you muches Ulysses

          1. Eureka Springs

            Wonderful story, aby. By the time I entered the Haight Ashbury scene it was the mid 80’s. Every show was a multi-generation family affair. Considering shows always sold out far in advance I don’t think they ever “sold out”. Considering they allowed tapers, sold their own printed tickets (of which I still have dozens safely tucked away with my photos) and allowed quite a bit of small business minded creativo’s to do their thing without a cut… And the music, well it was as good as any other point mentioned with Bruce and Vince at the end.

            As for this new water cooler… it reads like a new, greatly improved, Paul Harvey script.

            Good day…)

          2. Ulysses

            You’re very welcome! If only more people had your kind of heart the world would be a very fine place indeed.

            “Love is enough: through the trouble and tangle
            From yesterday’s dawning to yesterday’s night
            I sought through the vales where the prisoned winds wrangle,
            Till, wearied and bleeding, at end of the light
            I met him, and we wrestled, and great was my might.
            And the Shadow of the Night and not Love was departed;
            I was sore, I was weary, yet Love lived to seek;
            So I scaled the dark mountains, and wandered sad-hearted
            Over wearier wastes, where e’en sunlight was bleak,
            With no rest of the night for my soul waxen weak.
            With no rest of the night; for I waked mid a story
            Of a land wherein Love is the light and the lord,
            Where my tale shall be heard, and my wounds gain a glory,
            And my tears be a treasure to add to the hoard
            Of pleasure laid up for his people’s reward.”

            — William Morris

              1. abynormal

                the rest of my day was painful and my sleep restless, but thanks to your kindness… i know my heart will glow again and my smile return.

      2. McMike

        I enjoy their music from all the “phases”. Saw many shows, and camped right there in the parking lot for the weekend at Red Rocks, Alpine Valley, and others. The intentional community of the shows/ campground/ parking lot scene is very reminiscent to me of the thing I suppose that Burners seek and may or may not find.

        But must say that after Touch of Gray, the popularity really put a lot of pressure on the vibe. I think in this there are some parallels with Burning Man. Culminating in stadium shows with VIP sections near the front, where heavily up-scalped expensive tickets were snapped up by yuppie Masters of the Universe who didn’t know the first thing about the Dead beyond ToG, and sat on their hands (and sat) through the entire performance, despite a variety of epic Dead moments being presented to them by the band.

  9. Ulysses

    This “water cooler” makes me think somewhat nostalgically of traditionalist Rhode Island, where I lived for so many years before I returned to my roots in the Empire State. Lil’ Rhody still has (unlike all other 49 states) a paid day off for Victory Over Japan day in early August. Not because the people there are particularly vindictive about the war in the Pacific, but because no one would risk political suicide by eliminating a paid day off. Likewise, when new technologies replaced the old-fashioned water coolers in many places with what the rest of the nation calls “water fountains,” Rhode Islanders continued to call the new-fangled contraptions “bubblahs.”

    I could go on and on about grinders, cabinets, coffee milk, Johnnycakes and more, but that would make this comment an even more self-indulgent waste of space than it already is!

    1. abynormal

      ‘wasted space’ no way! yours is the stuff that will keep the cooler clear.
      Yves n Lambert have tapped into something unique…i’ll blissout watch it grow.

      earlier i posted a piece w/link(s) about ebloa, somalia and navy seals…i forgot to copy it and it poof’d. i figure it’ll show up somewhere some time or maybe it doesn’t belong here…i’ll just sway with the place as it unfolds.

      1. Ulysses

        I expect that the downeasters of Maine are a traditionalist lot as well. Northern Rhode Island still has a thriving drive-in movie theatre, the Rustic, where the custom of paying per car, not person, encourages teenagers to become very closely acquainted!

  10. Marianne Jones

    The more I read about Ebola and what it takes to halt effective transmission, I have come to realize Western media is being overly dismissive of the “native African burial rituals”. European / Americans “native rituals” would be just as vulnerable. Ebola does not present with obvious bleeding. If a person in your household came down with a cold or flu, does the healthy spouse cares not for the ill, does the mother not comfort the child, etc? These aren’t African behaviors, these are human behaviors.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg publishes a monthly calendar of economic releases, some of which may be worth including in a 2 pm post:


    Some highlights:

    1. Sep 2 (10:00 am) — ISM manufacturing index, first business day of the month. Correlated to GDP, so provides a monthly real time indication of how growth is progressing (or not).

    2. Sep 5 (8:30 am) — employment situation, first Friday of the month. Probably the most watched data.

    3. Sep 17 (8:30 am) — consumer price index, mid-month. Watched as a guide to Fed policy.

    4. Sep 17 (2:00 pm) — FOMC meeting announcement. Timing is every 6-7 weeks, according to Fed calendar.

    5. Sep 19 (10:00 am) — Conference Board leading economic indicators. Another real time clue to groaf.

    6. Sep 26 (8:30 am) — GDP. This is the third tweak of 2nd quarter GDP. At the end of October, the first estimate of 3rd quarter GDP is released, subject to two more revisions at end-Nov and end-Dec.

    7. Sep 30 (9:00 am) — S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index. How America’s favorite leveraged speculation is treating us.

  12. Brindle

    Appears to be another action which hurts the middle class and poor but the wealthy won’t notice”

    —With U.S. expatriates giving up their citizenship in record numbers, the State Department announced last week that it’s raising the administrative processing fee for formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship from $450 to $2,350 – nearly a five-fold jump – beginning September 12, 2014.—


  13. sd

    Is this an appropriate place to report on Iceland’s current eruption? I’m not yet clear on cooler vs links protocol.

    This is a somewhat bleak but not apocalyptical post on the current status of Bárðarbunga.

    PS 2 cents fwiw, reading on an ipad, the longer paragraphs are a little hard to read and the section headings are in a smaller font than the body text. If possible, I’d like to see more paragraph breaks within the sections.

  14. Yonatan

    Ukraine is just a proxy for the US’s war against Russia. Peace of any form in Ukraine will not stop the US attempting regime change in, or other forms of destabilization of Russia. Any surviving Nazi’s will be more than happy to continue guerrilla actions against the Novorossians, or even better from the US perspective, in Russia itself.

  15. Carolinian

    Moon responds to the Pat Lang post


    If Obama, as Pat Lang believes, wants to keep the conflict brewing we will see more destruction, more dead people and larger land losses for the current Ukraine. The end state will not change. Ukraine will become a bankrupt finlandized federation, not join the EU and not join NATO. The EU will lose a lot of business with Russia and take even longer to get out of the second great depression. China will win a lot. Not only in commerce but also because the U.S. will be busy to herd the NATO cats and to fight the non-existing Russian “threat”. This will give China probably a decade of less pressure in south Asia. All for the genius of Obama and his Children’s Crusader.

    1. Jackrabbit

      So in the span of 24 hours, Moon of Alabama has recognized that their ‘worst case’ is likely: that Obama continues the conflict. But MoA is too still too optimistic:

      The end state will not change. Ukraine will become a bankrupt finlandized federation, not join the EU and not join NATO.

      The whole reason to continue the conflict IS to change the outcome. As I wrote this morning when replying to Banger (who is even more optimistic than MoA):

      Like many, you have been lulled into complacency. You’re hopeful that Deep State oligarchs will push back against neocon ideologues that have time and time again outmaneuvered realists and everyone else.

      We are witnessing a showdown between Putin’s Russia/BRIICS and the US/Western neocons over the fundamental nature of the world order. This conflict will continue and likely intensify until one or the other prevails.

      H O P

      1. Jackrabbit

        “Prevailing” means that one side is defeated. What that means exactly is a bit uncertain. But I’d guess it means: the overthrow of Putan/Putanism and Russia’s joining the US/Western orbit (via West-leaning oligarchs gaining power) -OR- the breakup of the EU and end of NATO (i.e. Europe pries itself from US grip).

        It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this conflict, which may continue for years before a resolution. This is why Kissinger weighed in a few days ago and why I was so troubled by what he said.

        1. Carolinian

          “may continue for years”

          And who is going to do the fighting? It sounds like the Ukrainians themselves are played out.

          Maybe the neocons in D.C. can form up a Lincoln brigade to take up the slack.

        2. Jackrabbit

          PS Doesn’t necessarily mean fighting directly between US/NATO and Russian military. Ukraine is a proxy war and there are likely to be others that break out (ZH reported today that ISIS threatened the Caucus region, and one could well wonder about Kazakhstan which has their own variety of very moderate Islam).

    2. Carolinian

      While I’m not that big a fan of RT’s Crosstalk, this one is pretty good and features, among others, Karel Van Wolferen, the Dutch writer who wrote an article about MH17 and Europe’s subservience to the US–discussed in comments the other day. Items include

      –The rise of “Atlanticism”….the acceptance among Euro elites of the “indispensable” nation status of the US and how this is a relatively recent phenomenon.
      –The lockstep of the media. Wolferen claims that this is in part because Europeans and Asians now get much of their foreign news from English sources controlled by the US and Britain.
      –And briefly touched on is a real taboo: the degree to which Israel supporters are pursuing an agenda through this English media and the US and Euro governments.

      At any rate, could be worth a look.


  16. optimader

    “For those who wish scan for links, they are now enclosed in square brackets: [Naked Capitalism]. And this is a less conversational format. What do you think? –lambert”

    excellent format.. don’t hold back on the bias HAHA. There is some aesthetic to framing the link with a context (like you did yesterday.. ) but this format rev.1 works beer for scanning..
    Too bad I have to actually work today..

    KURT VONNEGUT: 2 B R 0 2 B – FULL AudioBook | Greatest Audio Books
    a fun 22 minutes to run in the background while tasking

  17. John Smith

    I don’t like this watercooler posts.
    too difficult to scan to figure out if I’d like to read it or not.

  18. JeffC

    In Safari on the iPhone, headings are in a tiny font, smaller than the text. Then the topics under a heading are mashed into one long (folded at screen borders) line, without benefit of line breaks between. It’s frankly awful, nearly unreadable. Looks much the same in Reeder except there I didn’t see section titles at all. The original format was 100x better.

      1. PhilK

        I’m seeing the tiny headings, too, with Opera on XP. They’re the same size as the time-stamp on each comment. Don’t know about site-wide — can’t recall seeing headings on other NC posts.

          1. sd

            I’m having the same issue with Safari on iPad, mentioned above. More paragraph breaks would help make it easier to read too.

  19. aliteralmind

    Yesterday’s premiere water cooler was great. Today’s was hard to get through. Very dry (and long) paragraphs.

    I’d definitely choose more personality!

    1. sd

      Access has been very sporadic the last 2 days. However, I think there were some recent solar storms and have a vague memory of some warnings that the storms disrupt electrical devices. ymmv.

  20. ewmayer

    o Ah, those naughty economic models used by the FedHeads again:

    St. Louis Fed: US consumers have decided to ‘hoard money’

    During the first and second quarters of 2014, the velocity of the monetary base was at 4.4, its slowest pace on record. This means that every dollar in the monetary base was spent only 4.4 times in the economy during the past year, down from 17.2 just prior to the recession. This implies that the unprecedented monetary base increase driven by the Fed’s large money injections through its large-scale asset purchase programs has failed to cause at least a one-for-one proportional increase in nominal GDP. Thus, it is precisely the sharp decline in velocity that has offset the sharp increase in money supply, leading to the almost no change in nominal GDP.

    Fed policy, in which it has expanded its balance sheet to nearly $4.5 trillion by buying various debt instruments, including Treasurys, has driven interest rates lower. Under normal circumstances, the decline in 10-year Treasury rates would have pushed monetary velocity lower by 0.085 percentage points. Instead, it has declined 5.85 percentage points, fully 69 times more than models would suggest, the paper states.

    Clearly the models are not inherently flawed, they just need a little added “calibration”.

    It’s an interesting redefinition of “hoarding”, though, as “cutting back on spending money you don’t have.” Kinda like government “budget cutting” redefined as “asking for the moon in terms of a funding increase for next FY, settling for 90%-of-moon, then claiming you cut spending by 10%-of-moon”.

  21. Larry

    I like the Water Cooler links. It reminds me of the Readings in Harper’s . Though more focussed and providing the direct links. Keep up the good work.

  22. ScottB

    “(Medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail:) Ebola is a terrible disease. It is more terrible in countries without basic supplies. But I don’t think that fanning the flames of Ebola fears are going to solve those problems. We should be more worried that the basic infrastructure isn’t there. I’m more frightened of MERS, for instance, than I am of Ebola.”
    Wow! She’s more frightened of the effing banks and their phony electronic recording system for mortgages! That’s… What? Yes? Oh, THAT MERS…

  23. proximity1

    Les Daly interviews Pat Oliphant for The Atlantic magazine: (Headline: “Legendary Cartoonist Pat Oliphant: ‘We Are in a Forest Fire of Ignorance’ ”
    Sub-head: “For 50 years, the Australian-born artist has been a mainstay of America’s politics and opinion. Here’s why he’s not optimistic about the future.”

    ( http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/legendary-cartoonist-pat-oliphant-we-are-in-a-forest-fire-of-ignorance/379524/?single_page=true )

  24. Oguk

    I like the list format better – what we’re used to on the Links page. The commentary is fine but the paragraph breaks between items really help. So, +1 Elyse Grasso.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      There must be prose because Google will ding us if they think we’re a link farm. The only issue is what sort of prose there is to be. And that is why the links are in a list, at the end, so Google doesn’t get the wrong idea.

  25. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    I continue to prefer lambert comments*, whether conversational or bullet-point-ish, to just naked links. The brackets on the links are a good idea.

    *whether I agree with ’em or not. :D

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