2:00PM Water Cooler 10/9/14

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Lambert here: “Bad-ass.” Yes, that’s totally the word. Help Yves become even more bad-ass! The PayPal button is to your right.

Hong Kong

Talks between government and students are postponed, students call for rally at Admiralty [SCMP]; transcript of Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam’s remarks [info.gov.hk].

Handy map of barricades still up in Hong Kong [Barricades in Hong Kong]. So the troops, as it were, have dispersed, but the materiel is still pre-positioned.

The fences of Hong Kong [Times]. Nice atmospheric piece.

The letter that shows what C.Y. Leung got those £4 million in secret fees for [Quartz]. I like the way that “provided that such assistance does not create any conflict of interest” is a handwritten addition to the typescript. Leung has a good lawyer!

Mainlanders snapping up Hong Kong condos with bags of cash [NPR]. One can only wonder what’s going on with the mainland that they’re so afraid of, and whether what’s happening in Hong Kong will increase their fear.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of October 4: “Initial claims edged 1,000 lower to a lower-than-expected 287,000 in the October 4 week while the 4-week average fell a very sharp 7,250 in the week to 287,750. The average is also at a new recovery [sic] low, its lowest level since February 2006” [Bloomberg]. (No mention of labor force participation rate, the permanently lousy new normal). These crocodile tears let, as it were, the cat out of the bag:

Layoffs may be down but that doesn’t always spell a corresponding increase in hiring which may still be lagging

The lack of hiring (IMNSHO) is the flip side of the dead parrot labor force participation rate: Jobs offered and jobs taken have been steadily diverging for some time, and why not? The money’s lousy, the work is crapified, and benefits are being steadily cut. Better to muddle through with System D, or follow the example of executives, and loot what you can, while you can. YOLO, and a “silent strike” could be the rational choice!

Consumer Confidence, week of October 5: Climbs to 36.8 from a four-month low of 34.8, probably driven by lower gas prices [Blooomberg].

Rapture Index: Steady [Rapture Ready].

Annals of Financial Probity

The operational definition of “audacity” in elite banking circles [Guardian].

America the Petrostate

Port of Albany New York key rail distribution point for tar sands crude [Times Union].

EU drops plan to label Canadian tar sands as “dirty” (have you ever seen them?) because Russia [CBC]. So maybe Ukraine was Obama’s reach-around for Harper and a make-good for Keystone. Pure speculation!

Water Wars

Documents reveal billions of gallons of oil industry wastewater illegally injected Into Central Valley aquifer [Center for Biological Diversity]. Good thing the Central Valley aquifer is sinking so fast, otherwise we might be drinking that stuff!

Coca Cola sucking up Uttar Pradesh groundwater [Bloomberg]. Just like Poland Springs in Maine.

2014 and 2016

UPDATE Crack White House campaign team introduces new generation after so-called Millenials [wait for it]: “The Homeland Generation” [WaPo].

Words fail me. OK, they don’t. As of now, anybody who uses generational identification as a serious analytical tool should be… spoken to severely, because all these other so-called generations are just as solidly based as “Homeland Generation,” which the White House just made up out of whole cloth, for marketing purposes.

Another Presidential travel reimbursement flap [WaPo]. Yawn.

Cartagena flap from 2012 rears ugly head again [The Hill]. Cue moral panic. It looks like an intern (granted, the son of a big Democratic donor and top lobbyist for Wal-Mart) is being measured for the drop.

I’m leaving out the personal names deliberately, because I think the story is systemic: How White House advance teams organize “party space” as a general practice, across administrations (“wheels up,” as they say). Naturally, the political class will keep the focus as narrow as possible, just as they did in 2012. Anyhow, the NSA has it all, so why don’t we just ask them?


81 percent of Cuomo’s campaign war chest comes from people who gave him $10,000 or more, and 50% gave $40,000 or more [Politics on the Hudson].

Cuomo will emit bio next Tuesday [WSJ]. “Progressives must now demonstrate that we can do what we preach; that we can deliver the product we presold.” Awesome.

I had no idea Cuomo had created a “Women’s Equality Party” to give himself another line on the ballot [New York Daily News].

Cuomo tees up $500 million public-private partnership for broadband [Press and Sun Bulletin]. Ka-ching.

News of the Wired

  • Twitter news head leaves [Recode]. Twitter distributes breaking news brilliantly. That’s how the Twittersphere works. They don’t need a news head. They need a curation head; that’s what I need help with. Twitter’s execs don’t understand their platform. Let the death spiral begin!
  • Delivery of big-screen iPad delayed as supplies focus on iPhone 6 [Apple Insider]. So, capacity problems. I wish the squillionaires would stop whining that there’s no place to put their money; here’s yet another example.
  • Google pays $75,000 in bounty, patches 159 security holes in its flagship browser, Chrome 38. 113 of the holes were “minor” [Techworm]. I thought those Google guys were good with math. The decimal point in $75,000.00 should be at least one digit to the right. I guess they’re rolling in so much money they can be careless.
  • The boring front end developer [Adam Silver]. So, so true. Boring is good. We enjoy being bored.
  • Mom of man killed by St. Louis cop: He was unarmed [AP]. And if not, I bet we’ll see the open carry dudes rush to his defense, right?
  • Police pepper spray Wake County teen inside his home after he’s mistaken for burglar [ABC11]. Surely, he must have been asking for it?
  • Jetblue refuses to book passenger who tweeted about rotten service [Bloomberg]. Race to the bottom!
  • Cave paintings in Indonesia humanity’s oldest works of art [Atlantic].
  • Louis CK tweets the origins of life on earth [io9].
  • UK’s NHS: The classic play from the neo-liberal playbook: 1) Underfund public institution; 2) Create scandals and moral panic about resulting problems; 3) Privatize!!!! [The King’s Fund] (no, “The King’s Fund” didn’t explain things exactly that way). In the U.S., the same play is running right now with the VA and the Post Office. It’s a long con. Career “progressives” are coolers. We are the marks.

* * *

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 (Mitzi Muffin):


OK,OK, I know this isn’t seasonal, and I know this isn’t plants in any sort of habit, but just to make the point that fungi are deemed to be honorary plants….

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. abynormal

    wicked shroom display…is that legal?
    …with that i think i’ll venture into the rapture index ive so religiously avoided.
    (crazy diamond over n out)

  2. Jim Haygood

    Bill Gross said he expects to live a “happy second life” at Janus Capital Group Inc., after leaving Pacific Investment Management Co.

    Gross, who had a bandaid under his right eye, said “it’s been a rough few weeks” since he decided to leave his former employer.


    Nothing like getting into a little punch-up on your way out the door. As Gross plaintively asked in his resignation letter, ‘Was I so different from any other California billionaire?’

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whatever happened to ‘don’t let the door hit you…’

      No one kind enough to warn him? That wasn’t so nice.

  3. ambrit

    Since you’re from up Maine way; have you seen any of the ‘Fungi from Yuggoth’ this season? If you hear a peculiar ‘buzzing’ sound, run like the dickens! Unless you enjoy travelling to exotic locales.

  4. Vatch

    Police pepper spray Wake County teen inside his home after he’s mistaken for burglar [ABC11]. Surely, he must have been asking for it?

    Absolutely! Plus, if the police really wanted to get tough, they would have severely burned his 5 year old foster brother with a stun grenade, so what is everyone complaining about?

  5. Banger

    System D is the result of the global Empire’s lack of moral and legal legitimacy. We live, at least in the USA and the societies dominated by Washington/Wall Street elites, in a regime that deserves to be undercut and sabotaged in every way possible because it is run by gangs of criminals. System D is our way of moving on to build more legitimate lives. Mind you, I’ve come late to this notion and swallowed being “responsible” after having a bunch of kids and I guess I was wrong. I should have stayed on the margins where I was in my twenties. I will try to transition in that direction if I can and am encouraging others to do so as well.

    1. different clue

      That won’t undermine the Criminal Upperclass gangs and wannabe gangs here anymore than its functional equivalent did in the falling Soviet Union, will it?

      On the other hand, it could be a viable survivalist strategy if the system is already under terminal self-undermine countdown to pure mafia rule without the soothing mask of government.

      If we successfully undermine “the system”, one aspect of “the system” we will lose is the National Parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges. They will be completely divided up and privatised, as public assets were in the ex-Soviet Union. That would seem sad to me.

      1. Banger

        Not necessarily. We live in a world of networks and we can, by empowering people can provide order–because that is what we are talking about. I think the unofficial networks are the only chance we have. It is a risk but it’s the only option we have unless you know of a better one. My views are based, btw. In the work of Robert David Steele who I recommend very highly.

    2. trish

      “System D is our way of moving on to build more legitimate lives.”

      Seems for most it’s a way of putting food on the table. Being scrappy and resourceful out of necessity.

      Laudable to choose (or “transition to”) the “D” in order to undercut and sabotage the system of the looters, but for many of us, it’s more about going in whatever direction will ease the difficulties of life, with minimal torment, provide for small pleasures…ie allow for a decent-enough life.

    3. Peppsi

      If you’re interested in that sort of communalist alternative to the state, you should read the writings of Subcomandante Marcos. It’s essentially what the Zapatistas did, after winning de facto autonomy from the state, they set up their own parallel economy.

  6. LaRuse

    “Generation Homeland”? Why? Was Nazi Youth not original enough?
    Could it sounds more Orwellian?

  7. craazyman

    at first that looked like a picture of bagels and bones. I thought “WTF is this???” haha

  8. Eureka Springs

    I rather like the idea of including fungi, jelly, slimes in with plantidotes. In case anyone with much knowledge on the subject passes by… What is this, por favor? It appeared in abundance on ceder trees in cool early Spring here in the Ozarks. reminds me of several orange jellies I’ve seen, but never in this form.

      1. abynormal

        just another reason why i hangout here “The recommended method of control is to “remove cedars located within a 1-mile radius” :-/
        …Thanks Petal for the share

      2. Eureka Springs

        That must be it. Thanks! My alien invasion theory will have to wait for another day….)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That would pre-date modern humans.

      And probably the oldest debate/argument/controversy – is it art or is it a functional object? Can art be functional? Can a stone tool, any stone tool, be an art object? Do we have even older stone tools?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mainlanders snapping up Hong Kong condos with bags of cash [NPR]. One can only wonder what’s going on with the mainland that they’re so afraid of, and whether what’s happening in Hong Kong will increase their fear


    Don’t know about what they fear with the mainland, but this is for sure – Hong Kong, presumably, is one place you can buy a condo with bags of cash.

    I think in California or Vancouver, the buyer might get a phone call from our state security people.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Squillionaire mainlanders buy in London or Manhattan or Singapore and work through straws. So the mainlanders with sacks of cash must mere millionaire canaille. But everybody with money wants to escape. Odd, that. I wonder why?

  10. ChrisPacific

    ‘Homeland generation’ actually sort of makes sense, although I would place the start date a little earlier.

    I think the word ‘homeland’ came into regular use right after September 11, 2001. The ‘homeland generation’ could refer to those people who cannot remember a time before the War on Terror, the Patriot Act, government-fueled paranoia as a justification for military spending, the Iraq war, and the curtailment of personal rights and freedoms in the name of national security. For anyone born after about 1995, this is the world they will have grown up in. In this sense they may end up having a lot in common with the Boomers and early Gen X, who grew up in the nuclear arms race era and were generally just as afraid of their own government as they were of external enemies.

    That might not have been what the White House meant, but I think it fits.

  11. AR

    —>> Homeless Generation

    Generation of kids who will have at some point experienced homelessness in greatest numbers? In any event, a way of pointing out the real threat/lived reality of economic terrorism/shock doctrine now in full force in the ‘homeland’.

    1. jrs

      What’s the carbon impact of all that “experience” if it’s all international travel? And how many earths would it take for everyone to do it? About 20 maybe?

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