2:00PM Water Cooler 9/29/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Hong Kong

Here’s an explainer [Asia Times]. It’s not at all clear that the media should put on its Tiananmen glasses, but it is clear that Hong Kong police tactics have inflamed the situation. However, the demand of the protesters for universal suffrage, with their choice of candidates, was never contemplated in the “Basic Law” under which Hong Kong “reverted” to China in 1997. So in some sense, the protesters are trying to retrade the deal. That said:

As to the options available to Beijing, one is, of course, send in the tanks! – and endure international obloquy and the undying hatred of the citizens of Hong Kong.

Another, which attracts less interest among the Tiananmen-fixated, is to let Hong Kong stew in its own juice, allow the dysfunction to burgeon until a local backlash is triggered or, failing that, at least stew until the local worthies have had enough and publicly petition Beijing to help them out of the mess, perhaps through an ultimatum coupled with some post-2017 legal legerdemain relating to the electoral commission.

More explainers: “The big question is whether mainland citizens – if they can find real news about Hong Kong in China’s censored press ‑ will ask why they can’t enjoy the same kinds of freedoms” [Asia Sentinel]. So the Mainland faces a dilemma about going shopping in Hong Kong right now. Meanwhile, President Xi is calling on all Chinese to embrace the spirit of Mao [Asia Sentinel].

Democracy supporters ask for outside support [VOA]. Please, no. When demon figure Putin said: “Anything US touches turns into Libya or Iraq,” he was on to something.

Meanwhile, some businesses are closed, and a fireworks display has been cancelled [LA Times]. Protesters camped out overnight on highways [CNN]. Not clear if they’re blocking bridges yet….

And here are live blogs, the first from [South China Morning Post], the second from [BBC].

2014 and 2016

Great Headlines of Our Time: “The stars align for baby Charlotte” [Politico]. I think it’s hilarious that Grandbaby Clinton is named after Bank of America’s home town, but perhaps I’m just jaded and cynical.

Neel Cash-and-Carry is running for governor of California [WaPo]. One despairs.

Superweird Kansas Senate race where the Democrats throw their own guy under the bus to back Greg Orman, an “independent” “no labels”-style dude who won’t say where he stands on anything [WaPo].

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, August:  Personal income growth posted a 0.3 percent gain in August, matching expectation. Personal spending jumped 0.5 percent after no change in July, above expectations. These are averages, so we don’t know (though we can guess) how the gains were distributed [Bloomberg].

Pending Home Sales Index, August: “stubbornly flat.” “A lack of first-time buyers and strong demand for rentals remain key obstacles for home sales.” Weakness evenly distributed [Bloomberg].


Two important studies released on fracking, one on frack sand mining from the Civil Society Institute’s Boston Action Research [BAR, press release], and the other on fracking and wastewater from the American Chemical Society [ACS]. I hope to have more on this important topic in the near future (links in comments welcome).

Meanwhile, fracking sand is among the best pure shale plays [Forbes] and small firms are making big money [WSJ].

And fracking is becoming politically polarized [Phys.org].

News of the Wired

  • How to water-cool your overclocked computer [Overclockers]. Not timely, but makes the point that no matter how the squillionaires whine, there’s innovation and good old American tinkering going on all over.
  • How to protect yourself from shellshock [ZDNet]. More unix bashing!
  • Fun podcasts on the [The History of Rome], and [Revolutions]. The latter begins with “The Kingdoms of Charles Stuart,” so the Scottish Question was as relevant then as now.
  • I haven’t gotten my Ello invitation yet! [Guardian]. But I hope Zuckerberg is punished for messing with the drag queens.
  • The manager of the Thai food tasting robot had his PhD withdrawn for plagiarism [Asian Scientist].
  • Anthony Bourdain on travel, food, and war [Blogs of War].
  • Reggae and dub genius Lee Perry is 78, even though Zeke Emmanuel would prefer he dropped at 75 [VICE]. Warning: Lee Perry is to male chauvanism as Richard Wagner is to anti-semitism (or TS Eliot). So….
  • TPP and TTIP Investor-State Dispute Resolution mechanisms “would make policy implications of environmental research entirely irrelevant” [ACS].

* * *

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:

sun flowers in columbia county 003

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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. Jim Haygood

    Today at the UN:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose the “gravest threat to us all” and called for a full dismantling of Tehran’s nuclear program.

    “The Islamic republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement … that will cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly. “Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all.”



    Fact check: Iran is a member of IAEA; Israel (with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons) isn’t:

    Member states of the U.N. nuclear agency rejected on Thursday a resolution expressing concern about Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal.

    The proposed resolution urged Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA supervision.

    The same resolution in 2009 was narrowly approved by IAEA members but was never followed up.


  2. wbgonne

    I am thinking of Lambert’s Norfolk VA real estate story earlier and I would like to pose a question to the finance experts here. How would someone invest to profit from AGW? I realize this is a twisted question but maybe there is a positive result that could come of it. So far, all I have heard suggested is shorting municipal bonds for cities like Norfolk and Miami.

    1. MyLessThanPrime

      For my can-afford-to-lose-money, I am tempted to go with 3 x the Neoliberal 100 Index*.

      But remember, I am not registered financial advisor. I am just talking about what I might do myself, with money I can afford to lose. You have to do your own homework.

      *Neoliberal 100 Index = the best corporations in the world at applying or working with Neoliberalism.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Sweet!… Seems like another “Win-Win”. Is this a 3x leveraged domestic and/or $USD-hedged global ETF, and besides prospective AGW beneficiaries does it include infrastructure LP funds that invest in debt-leveraged privatization of public assets as “Public-Private Partnerships”? Also concerned about overlap with the earlier “Neocon 100” index ETF from a raw asset allocation perspective? Just asking. :-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You have a lot of good ideas.

          Maybe we should launch an index-fund family with other NC posters – some may have the required licenses – who are interested.

      2. different clue

        As tropical diseases like malaria, dengue fever, Chagas disease, etc. spread into Temperate North America and Temperate Eurasia, more first and second worlders will be spending more money on cures or vaccines or at least treatments for these and other tropical diseases. Invest in any company which will make more money selling more such stuff to more new victims of tropical diseases.

  3. optimader

    1.) Wheat farmland in Canada? Invest in is the third most popular country in North America.
    2.) Agricultural land around the Great Lakes, my inclination would be heirloom fruit orchards

  4. TimR

    (This started as a reply to optimader from a previous day, but then I went all over the place so I’m omitting opti’s comment.)

    I’m not arguing that. I am saying the science of AGW is flimsy, and has been seized on for political (power) purposes.

    Part of how the corruption of science works is that, when a paradigm becomes established, it is very difficult for skeptics to speak out against it. This happens among laypeople, who criticize me for even voicing skepticism, but scientists are human too, and want to “fit in” (even if just at a sub-conscious level, they may not be aware of their bias) with their peer group.

    Also, if their bosses have settled views on the matter, they know what sorts of results or studies will advance their careers, and what may get them blackballed. I’m not saying they don’t “believe” in AGW, but they may have various pressures biasing their belief in favor of AGW.

    The really big science bosses, the ones who are perhaps “politicians” of a sort themselves, i.e. they know how to play the power game and get ahead, aren’t necessarily just pure scientists — those guys may not care whether AGW is “real” or not, because they support the political agenda itself (which, if you read into suppressed and alternative history, goes beyond just disliking the ickiness of industrial pollution, into a desire to establish a totalizing world order, with themselves at the top, naturally. The institution of internationally binding climate treaties, with small committees of top-level technocrats overseeing them, is a big step in the direction of this “utopian” (for them, they think) vision of the world.) Actually that applies to the low level scientists as well — just like many laypeople in their socioeconomic class, they have a generalized disdain for industrial capitalism, that may exert a biasing influence on their research.

    Certainly industrial capitalism has its shortcomings, as nobody can deny. But, I am not sure there aren’t better ways to deal with this devil, rather than exchanging it for a new devil: even greater centralized control by the same oligarchs and technocrats who make everything progessively worse and worse.

    Note that AGW fits the familiar Problem-Reaction-Solution model, by which elites advance agendas that would not fly if they were presented more directly. You build up fear and worry in the populace, until finally they DEMAND that you screw them over.

    1. optimader

      That may all be, but I try and be pragmatic.
      I had dinner this weekend w/ a friend that has done 15 science seasons on Antarctica and I asked him how the PIG research is coming along (which they are only beginning to understand).
      Bottom line, he doesn’t recommend buying land in the Florida Keys.
      Of course this is such fundamentally important research to wrap an understanding round that there is an ongoing effort to kill the paltry funding. This hunk of glacier is basically the keystone for much of the Antarctic icesheet and it is presently being undermined where it is grounded on the seafloor.



      Weak underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet[edit]

      The Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are two of Antarctica’s five largest ice streams. Scientists have found that the flow of these ice streams has accelerated in recent years, and suggested that if they were to melt, global sea levels would rise by 1 to 2 m (3 ft 3 in to 6 ft 7 in), destabilising the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet and perhaps sections of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.[10]

      In 1981 Terry Hughes proposed that the region around Pine Island Bay may be a “weak underbelly” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.[11] This is based on the fact that, unlike the majority of the large West Antarctic ice streams, those flowing into the Amundsen Sea are not protected from the ocean by large floating ice shelves. Also, although the surface of the glacier is above sea level, the base lies below sea level and slopes downward inland, this suggests that there is no geological barrier to stop a retreat of the ice once it has started.[11]

      Acceleration and thinning[edit]

      The speed of Pine Island Glacier increased by 73 percent from 1974 to the end of 2007, with an 8 percent increase over the last 16 months of this period alone. This speed up has meant that by the end of 2007 the Pine Island Glacier system had a negative mass balance of 46 gigatonnes per year,[6] which is equivalent to 0.13 mm (0.0051 in) per year global sea level rise.[12] In other words, much more water was being put into the sea by PIG than was being replaced by snowfall. Measurements along the centre of the ice stream by GPS demonstrated that this acceleration is still high nearly 200 km (120 mi) inland, at around 4 percent over 2007.[13] It has been suggested that this recent acceleration could have been triggered by warm ocean waters at the end of PIG, where it has a floating section (ice shelf) approximately 50 km (31 mi) long.[3][4][14] It has also been shown that PIG underwent rapid thinning during the Holocene, and that this process may continue for centuries after it is initiated.[15]

      As the ice stream accelerates it is also getting steeper.[13] The rate of thinning within the central trunk has quadrupled from 1995 to 2006.[13][16] If the current rate of acceleration were to continue the main trunk of the glacier could be afloat within 100 years.[16]

      1. ewmayer

        Thanks for the reference — one wonders whether the faster-flowing glaciers might have something to do with this year’s record antarctic sea ice, which AGW deniers have seized on as “evidence that global warming is bunk”.

    2. wbgonne

      “I am saying the science of AGW is flimsy”

      Not according to the scientists. But thank you for that authentic frontier gibberish.

    3. Banger

      Flimsy? So you are willing to play Russian roulette with your progeny’s future based on what? The fact greenhouse gases aren’t greenhouse gases? That 95% of scientists oppose you because they are all con-artists and politicians? Now, I don’t disagree that group-think exists in many situations but, in my experience, it tends to be less prevalent among scientists who are real sticklers for details and nerdy. And here’s what I don’t get about those that think scientists are con artist after a fast buck–do you know that it is much more lucrative to be on the side of Big Energy? I have worked for those guys in the past and they pour money out of their coffers like there’s no tomorrow–they’ve got the finest and most intense lobbying presence in Washington outside of the MIC. If I wanted to make a ton of money and I was a scientist I would sign up with them.

    4. Jagger

      A few years back, I spent the time looking at the basic science and it is very basic. I have also looked at the process for determining historic PPM levels vs todays levels and the atmospheric results of various PPM levels. It is all very logical and convincing using fairly basic and non-controversial processes. I find the conclusions convincing and apparently so does 98% of climate scientists. And I have no dog in any corruption of science battle. I am just following the reasoning.

      IMO, just about anyone with an analytic mind can make up their own mind if they look at basic science and follow it to the logical conclusion. My brother refuses to look at the process. What few times we have talked about it, he cites right wing sources and that is it. He is fully capable of looking at the process and reaching his own conclusions but refuses to do it. He is relying on others to tell him what to think. Maybe one day.

      So TimR, what specific bits of the science to you find questionable?

        1. kimyo

          i’m curious, how would you describe volcanic science? also settled and very basic? in its infancy? sporting a white beard? or, in your own words?

          i ask because volcanic events in relatively recent history have had profound effects on the climate, for instance the eruption of icelandic volcanos ‘laki’ and ‘grimsvotn’ over 1783-1785. (interestingly, the sulfur dioxide emissions were the ‘real’ problem, there was relatively little ash released).

          there is some interesting new science linking increased volcanic activity with periods of low solar activity, as is occuring now.

  5. cwaltz

    Democratic activists are a bunch of suckers continually being played by the party oligarchs. The oligarchs tell activists like kos to tell anyone and everyone that even thinking about voting for a third party that it is akin to voting for a Republican. Meanwhile the Democratic Party oligarchy have no such qualms about throwing the democractic activists under the bus and using third parties to thwart primary results or further their own agenda. Third parties- perfectly acceptable when the oligarchy finds them convenient. Awful, terrible, and horrible when utilized by average citizens fed up with being forced to choose between bad and worse. Two sets of rules that they’ll hope folks don’t notice.

    1. Vatch

      “… even thinking about voting for a third party that it is akin to voting for a Republican.

      The tragicomic reality is that voting for a Democrat is akin to voting for a Republican.

      1. cwaltz

        and yet any day now we’ll be told we should eat a turd sandwich because……pragmatism and we must not give in to pie in the sky idealism blah, blah blah….. The stupid pragmatists won’t even acknowledge that the Democratic Party has no problem with third party candidates- as long as they’re the ones vetted by the oligarchs.

    2. wbgonne

      Kos is a neoliberal and a moron to boot. Really, he is. Just read the columns he writes. Kos is all-in for HerTurn and thinks Obama has been great except for the bad things the Republicans made him do. Most of the sensible people at DKos — and there are still quite a few — know Kos is a fool. Why they don’t leave is something of a mystery. Anyway, Daily Kos has a hard and fast rule against promoting third parties. Do it and you get banned. DKos is simply an instrument of the Democratic Party and Kos himself is a neoliberal tool. The denial on display throughout DKos should be studied in abnormal psychology classes. Maybe it is.

      1. Banger

        As someone who was banned twice by Kos for coloring outside his lines–I obviously think he’s a POS.

        DKos is a DP site nothing more, nothing less and the DP has nothing but contempt for the left and how thinking people can support the DP I can no longer understand not after the Obama deception. I don’t have an alternative, mind you, because there is no alternative.

  6. Vatch

    ISIL/ISIS bans philosophy, evolution, art, music, and other subjects from schools that they control. It almost seems like the Texas Education Agency is working with ISIS!




      1. Vatch

        They’re both fundamentalist organizations that are financed by oil money and are devoted to turning the clock back.

        1. ambrit

          Both are ultra paternalist ideologies stemming from a common patriarchal monotheism. Both can be shown to be the tools of old guard elites in their respective cultures. The Wahabbi House in one and the Peterson Kochs in another. Both also want to restrict education to a “core” curriculum, as in “hard core.”

  7. Jim A

    The primary limitation on the PRCs inclination to “send in the tanks” is that Taiwan is watching. I believe that the “one nation/two systems,” policy was ALWAYS viewed by the PRC as a dress rehearsal for the re-unification of Taiwan.

  8. Veri

    Latest of the understanding of Syraqistan:

    So, neo-con foreign intervention in Syria has grown to absurdity – My enemy (IS) who happens to be friends of my friends (Saudi Arabia/Qatar), and an enemy of my other enemy (Assad) is my frenemy (Saudi Arabia/Qatar/US/IS/Al-Nusra/FSA Coalition of The Unwilling). With Obama has the spokesperson for Neo-Con Foreign Policy. I don’t hate The Prez. Never did. Now? I have supreme Pity for Him. His positions are increasingly an embarrassment and display of incompetence, supreme. One wonders if he were ever in charge at all.

    The FSA (the “moderates” Islamic fighters The CIA and Obama claim to exist yet privately realize that no such thing exists) whom The US Gov’t arms with lethal weapons, has a cooperation agreement with IS and Al-Nusra (The over-hyped Khorasan Group is actually like a CEO Boardroom for Al-Nusra and is nothing new – except to Americans who now believe it is some new, existential threat to Der Fatherland Homeland because the neo-cons and Obama and a Pentagon spokesperson said they were – “trust us”) to attack Assad. US weapons supplied to “moderate” Islamic Fighters find their way into Al-Nusra/IS hands – as The FSA has mentioned.

    And did anyone bother to notice that The PKK (The Kurds) is or was a designated terrorist group by The US? And now, we are arming them. Meanwhile, Turkey is growing nervous about The Kurds (something to do about a long insurgency waged by The Kurds against Turkey for over 3 decades) while providing training and support to The FSA/IS/Al-Nusra who are attacking The Kurds. And Turkey is a NATO ally.

    Neo-con foreign policy does not get anymore absurd unless we were to ally with Iran and Syria, officially, and begin bombing everyone who are our frenemies.

    And do notice that our bombings are concentrated on targets in certain areas, and not in others. Which is rather odd. IS has gone off-script and the bombing is to convince them to get back on the same page as Saudi Arabia/Qatar/US and attack Assad, which was what they were originally supposed to do in the first place before the started “thinking for themselves” – which is called “blowback” whenever The CIA neo-cons do something stupid that eventually leads to results like 9/11 and a lot of dead Americans; which would suit neo-cons in America just fine as they can then justify a GWoT II and III and… ad naseum. As well as eliminate some targets and provide some nice propaganda to justify war.

    We are bombing our frenemies.

    And for a much simpler example: US supplied Stinger MANPADS to Qatar who supplied some of those US-supplied Stinger MANPADS to The Taleban that ended up in Afghanistan, being used by The Taleban (which is now a generic category for any group that attacks allied forces in Afghanistan – even a Afghani Grandmother throwing dirt clods at allied forces who is then filled with lead) to disable an American CH-47 full of Marines(?) around June 12th, 2012.

    Look it up yourself. You have enough info. The Taleban-Qatari incident is a much simplified version of what is happening in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon (The Syriqastan Theatre of Operations) where it is just about to become a free-for-all where it is anyone’s guess and no one knows anything anymore.
    Meanwhile, back in The United States, Democrats who were against Bush Wars? Now support Obama in blowing up other people. Becuase, basically, the neo-cons and Obama said, “trust us”. Which is what Bush basically said. And The Republicans? They are hating on Obama either for or against and are just f*cked in the head in the first place. With Democrats who support Obama’s actions, not far behind.

    It doesn’t get any better than this. But to say so may be a little premature.

    If anyone has ever bothered to read “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller… the reality created by US mis-adventure (arrogance, ignorance, incompetence, mad scheming, etc.) has superseded a fictional account of absurdity of war and made it a concrete reality.

    1. lightningclap

      “His positions are increasingly an embarrassment and display of incompetence, supreme. One wonders if he were ever in charge at all”.

      I stopped wondering about that quite a while ago. The last Prez who tried to “be in charge” was JFK and he was made into a very public example.

    2. Banger

      The whole policy is chaos and then more chaos. There are a couple of reasons for that–first, it is easier to steal money in chaotic situations and a good part of the intel community requires serious cash flows to keep everybody happy; second, there is genuine chaos in the National Security State–I will give you the example of how the Iraq Occupation/War was managed–just do the research–total chaos–every agency and military district had a different policy that had more to do with careers, contractors corruption, kick-backs and perhaps the most massive fraud of any war the U.S. has ever conducted. It wasn’t until Bush cleaned house and put in Petraeus to crack the whip that the U.S. even had a coherent policy there.

      1. Veri

        Cheney and Halliburton and KBR no-bid contracts. That destroys The Bush years and the myth of Bush cleaning house – more like, let the rats in. The lowering of military standards that allowed neo-Nazis and other extremist groups as well as criminals, gain a foothold and military training in The US Military. Not appreciated.

        As for Petreaus, he has his roots back in The Reagan Years where he learned to play the political game. Good commander, loved by the troops, and popular with the ladies. Stellar career and a “nerd” when it came to doctrine. Of which his counter-insurgency manual was but a rehash of lessons learned from prior wars. Nothing brilliant there; just a reminder.

        He also went to school with Gen. Alexander back in The 1970’s. It is no coincidence that Alexander and Petraeus ended up as heads of The NSA and CIA at the same time. His entire career consisted of grooming for command.

        He had dirt on people from his Reagan Years where he learned to play the political game. They couldn’t do anything and he couldn’t do anything as long as the politicians and he were satisfied, scratching each others backs. Friends, they were not. Patraeus left an opening for whomever when he had his extra-marital affairs. Typical scenario. The other side did not retaliate and let him retire from The CIA without repercussions. Both sides were satisfied.

        Thus, life goes on.

    1. Vatch

      Brought to you by the wonderful folks who’ve been destroying Appalachia with mountaintop removal coal mining for the past 30 years.

  9. craazyman

    faak I’ve got a bunch of plant pictures I took up on Cape Cod last week, some even have the ocean in them. one has a public restroom AND the ocean in it — along with the plants. I’ll send a few. There were no shark attacks the whole week! That was surprising, as there was one two years ago when a man was bitten by a Great White Shark. That means the odds are one in three (one attack divided by three years). I guess everybody got lucky this year.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Craazy, I just learned about ‘tonic immobility’ recently.

      When you see a shark, flip it over and it’s tame as a cat. I have been wanting to try it out myself…though they warn that amateurs shouldn’t try at home, or in this case, anywhere in the world, until supervised by a professional with experience in ‘tonic immobility.’

      On the other hand, everyone should just forget I said that. I don’t want to be responsible for any accidents. Forget ‘tonic immobility.’

      1. ambrit

        I used to try that with the kids. It did not work. Perhaps kids aren’t close enough to sharks for the ‘Theory of Psychic Contagion’ to work. I have yet to try it out on a Lawyer. I predict success with that experiment.

  10. alex morfesis

    mao was a yalee so does that mean that chinese people should strive to enter ivy league schools and pretend to be part of and one with “the people”(embrace the spirit of mao)…although i don’t understand what the crying is about for the right to choose a candidate…most people in the western world are quite happy allowing their own political parties horse trade for democracy and only allow “the chosen ones” to be presented as “the available condidates”…personally I suspect both china and india will have a most unfortunate turn of events in the next 25 years as their attempts to hold together nations built on multiple languages and extreme regional differences may lead to the united states being the most populous country in the world by 2060 (at about 400 million with the largest former provinces of china or india being no larger than 350 million)…now go home you little people and think of living like the west, as happy slaves voting for the CONdiates presented on the ballot…

      1. ambrit

        This is a Harvard lampoon of Mr. Mao, as it derives from Harvard alumnus John Adams operatic work “The Chairman Dances.” (It was actually published as an independent piece.)
        The piece is a cleverly disguised evocation of the ‘Skull and Bones’ initiation rite. It is reported that Henry Stimson, Secretary of War, a Skull and Bones man, approved the later Chairmans initiation into the group in 1947, when it was nearly certain that the Communists were winning the Chinese civil War. How Adams found out about it is anybody’s guess. Membership in ‘Skull and Bones’ is the bridge between Mr. Mao and Yale.

  11. lightningclap

    Man, someone could write a whole book on Lee Perry (“genius” is accurate). Oh wait, there’s “People Funny Boy” by David Katz. Recommended.

  12. alex morfesis

    just kidding about the yalee part…in case anyone wants to waste energy thinking about tin foil hat days…

  13. Kim Kaufman

    “Neel Cash-and-Carry is running for governor of California [WaPo]. One despairs.”

    Well this one despairs that no Dem – or some more progressive candidate – primaried Jerry Brown, owned by Big Oil and the Prison Industrial Complex.

  14. ChrisPacific

    From the Bourdain piece:

    A constant on my travels is nice, incredibly hospitable people, often very reasonable people. Unfortunately, another constant is that nice, reasonable people are being ground under the wheel.

    Sad but true. His Palestinian experience (or rather, the reaction to it that he describes) was an eye opener.

  15. Glenn Condell

    Mike Duncan’s Rome podcast is now legendary, and inspired lots of others, rarely as good. Revolutions looks interesting, probably should be ingested alongside the Druid’s latest series.

    My current fave is Kevin Stroud’s History of English podcast; his History of the Alphabet is fascinating too.


  16. H. Alexander Ivey

    “How to protect yourself from shellshock [ZDNet]. More unix bashing!”

    Uh, no. It’s more like “don’t blame me, I didn’t do it” double talk and techno-jargon BS. The writer refuses to make a clear analogy that lay users could understand so they could see what is the danger as well as he refuses to clearly state what is the problem, what is the cure, and why this ill is happening.

    The analogy of shell shock, from my very limited, long out of touch programmer point of view is this: Think of the computer operating system as a business (I told you this analogy is for lay people – coders, administrators, and other tech people have their own analogies which are impenetrable to end users). Now, like most businesses, there is a receptionist at the front door that handles people and items that call on the business. Lets call this receptionist “Bourne”, like that guy in the movies. Now the receptionist gets a package. Bourne reads the address, “123 Main Street, Unit 01 – 01, Any Town, USA, 000001-0001; give me all your money”. If Bourne was a human receptionist, Bourne would laugh at the “; give me all your money” words, ‘cos a human knows those words are not an address. But our Unix Bourne doesn’t know that. Our Unix Bourne looks at the words “; give me all your money” and thinks it is a command. So it does the command. Now that is the basic problem, a computer running this O/S (probably the most common O/S on the planet) is vulnerable to hackers slipping in instructions in what should be non-instruction code, like addresses.

    So, you say, just fire that receptionist, or hire another one. Well, you can’t fire Bourne, it is the oldest, longest lasting receptionist for the company. Yes, there are other receptionists, like Korn (an actual Unix software similar to Bourne), but you have to ask for Korn, Bourne is the one every one knows and will ask for when they deliver a package or call on the company. Now you can start to see the problem. And, yes, your Mac/Apple is almost certainly vulnerable, only the older ones may not have Bourne as the front line receptionist. And yes, your laptop will not be the first thing attacked, the big servers that run the internet will be first, your laptop is small potatoes here so ZDNet is correct in a small way. But, really, get patching? Is that what ZDNet advises?? WTF?! Ha. Ha No, really. HA! HA! That’s why I say he is correct, but only in a small way, and is really wrong in a big way.

  17. Ross Kapernick

    Interesting to see a group of US citizens have there say. I am Australian and also don’t know who to turn to regarding Foreign Policy. We are OK domestically. Both major Parties adopt a better line here in my mind than the USA. I am basically a Liberal Economically and Socially. Here I use our original Australian definition of a Liberal. [that is not Left]. That is a Capitalist Free Enterprise person with an Economic and Social Conscience. Middle of the Road. The problem here is while we maintain our Liberal standards domestically e.g. Good Universal Health Care, [not run by Corporations – works well and costs far less than the US system and provides a far superior service overall – a good merge of free or close to free Public Health working with the Private sector] free Education with a generous loan system to go to Uni etc, a livable Unemployment allowance [probably twice as good as the US] and reasonable minimum wages [twice as high as the average in the US]. Overall far superior to the USA in those areas. Still our society seems to be polarising a bit. From reports I hear the USA is in very big trouble in this area. A society that is becoming very fragmented and divided. [Loss of a true Middle Class].Our best free enterprise Government here actually was our Labor Party about 20+ years ago that made the tough decisions in terms of economics the US is having to face now. Labor here is more left than the Democrats but they did bring about good economic reforms. Our Liberals are about the same as US Democrats in terms of welfare and social. More economically “dry” though usually. Our present Liberal/National Party Government seems to be holding this line in terms of economics but it has taken a decided turn to the Right in Foreign Policy along with the Labor Party. [Originally the party of poor Irish Catholic Migrants]. We unfortunately are becoming a mirror of the USA in this area. That is one area in which the USA shows no balance at all and I personally think we are stupid as our future lies in Asia and we should not go along with US paranoia about China and Asia. Simply a repeat of 30-40 years ago. One thing is very obvious and that is most Asian countries are doing much better and becoming more democratic and less corrupt since they managed to kick all Europeans out of Asia. Most of the mistakes of the past that have resulted in suffering and death for millions all around the world have had there origins in the West. Vietnam was a crime and Australians accepted that decades ago and people of my generation overall accept that we should never have been there. It was crime against the people of Vietnam. US support for the Taliban against the USSR when they tried to clean it up also was simply a petty USA act driven by paranoia. The USSR was trying to do no more than we have been trying to do now for the last decade. These unbalanced US policies and actions including those in the in the Middle East only create radicals. The British and French also must be included here as they still strive for a position in the world far beyond there true significance. That also can be said for the USA now. Its relevance is declining as the worlds biggest economic power and it is time it steps back and acts with a bit more balance. It was a trip to Russia about 8 years ago when I spent one month with a Russian family with one excellent English speaker that confirmed my suspicions were always correct. I was shocked at the “shit” we had been fed about most things during the Cold War. I soon realised the West and especially the USA had actually got to the stage it believed its own Propaganda and Disinformation campaigns. I thought it would improve as time went by but to my alarm in the last 8/10 years it has got worse. Most of course comes from the USA closely followed by Britain. The old born to Rule and the new Born to Rule. I now despair at all the crap reported about Russia and directed at Putin in particular. Invariably 100% of what Putin says and legislates is twisted and distorted in the West. Why? I don’t think I have seen one balanced report from US sources on Putin or Russia in recent times. Russians are not stupid. One of the most Educated people in the World. Gorbachev went down to 16% popularity because of his hopeless Domestic Policies. Russians admire him as a Statesman and for bringing about the breakup of the USSR without bloodshed but he proved hopeless in the Domestic area. Yeltsin went down to 6% popularity. Reasons obvious. Russians knew they were conned soon after they elected him in the first big TV style election campaign they had ever been part of. Also there was a far more concentrated and unbalanced Media in Russia than now but he still fell to 6% despite his greater media control. Putin has never gone below 60% and often as high as 80% with a far more diverse media than in Yeltsin time. Why is he popular? Very simple. His fearless, pragmatic and balanced Policies at home and abroad. He never distorts or tries to con people. He is straight up and gives his reasons. He has never been caught lying or distorting. That is his main problem as far as I can see with Western Politicians. He will not play there childish games. He decides everything on the facts also. Too honest, too straight and too pragmatic. Probably the best Politician in the world. I have to laugh when the US and Britain say his press is not free. You see plenty of un-doctored Western Political Statements in and on Russian media critical of him and Russia. All they do is strengthen Putin’s position. Most times he will have spelt out to the Russian people exactly what he thinks or is doing and why he is doing it. Putting the sort of “shit” that often slips from Hillary’s or Obama’s or McCains or????? mouth up on Russian media only serves to strengthen his position. Add to that other statements made by Britain etc. and it is no wonder Putin stays very popular. There statements often are ridiculous and childish. If he is so bad why don’t Western Media outlets actually put a few of his statements up in full not doctored or twisted on our media. In about 10 years I have not seen that once. French and German TV are better. I have been back and most Russians now I am certain are really starting to understand while Putin and his party are not perfect they are very lucky to have him compared to the “shit” we often have in power. Ten years ago many Russians admired the USA. You will be hard pressed to find one in 10 now that does not despise the USA for its duplicity and bias. US propaganda only strengthens Putins position. Now understanding the Russian position well I am certain now that will be true in other areas of the world. The Middle East, China and South America etc. That is the reason more and more I as an Australian don’t want to see my own country align itself too closely with the USA. It will mean disaster for Australia. We are part of Asia and we must be balanced if we are to be respected in Asia. If we align our selves with the USA we will end up hated also. After visiting Russia twice I now know why and how it happens. USA disinformation is easy to pick. Time the USA dismantles the NSA, CIA etc. etc. and gets a less biased media. A truly free media interested in reporting facts and not a Hollywood style media. I fear for Australia in this way also as most things US have a habit of coming here.

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