By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Hillary Clinton on Libya, of Qaddaffi: “We came, we saw, he died.” [The Intercept]. But now we can see how that moment of Democratic triumphalism netted out: “There is no overstating the chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya” [New Yorker]. Of course, if we had an actual, functioning opposition party, from right or left, there would be questions raised about our imperial mission in Libya. Instead, we’ll get yammering from the Republican clown car about Benghazi ZOMG. Then again, now the Eqyptians are bombing ISIS in Libya [Informed Comment], so maybe it’s all good!
Political scientists with statistical models, as opposed to “Democratic strategists” (ugh), think Hillary’s chances are 50/50 at best [National Journal]. Good read.
Perry to KTIV photographer Leah Schwartz: “Good try, girl” [Des Moines Register]. Better than “sweetie,” I suppose…
Barbara Bush: “[O]ur problems are so big that it doesn’t matter what your last name is in America” [ABC9].
I should really put Jebbie in the clown car over the Schiavo case [AP]. If I’m ever that brain-damaged, I want my feeding tube pulled, even if the hospital loses a few bucks.
Walker “shaping his political brand around the idea that he does not shy away from a fight” [WaPo]. Hence proposing to poke the eyes of those pointy-headed intellectuals at the University of Wisconsin with a sharp stick.
Gail Collins blows detail on Walker column [Politico]. Nice work, Gail, especially since now you’re the story, not Walker.
Amash rightly trashes Rubio for proposing to permanently extend the so-called Patriot Act [Rare].
Rubio “book tour” hits Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada [Las Vegas Journal].
Philly’s “super voters” and “power wards” [Inquirer (Paul Tioxin)]. If Americans followed politics the way they follow sports….
Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Texas rules Obama’s executive action on immigration must be suspended until a lawsuit against it by 26 states is resolved [International Business Times].
Herd on the Street
Court reporting on Apple’s Jony Ive [The New Yorker]. Two takeaways: The elite are so polite to each other, at least when it’s in their interest to be so, that it makes your skin crawl; and both Ive and Jobs had fathers who shaped materials in manufacturing, and that informed their aesthetics. Too bad we don’t do manufacturing any more. Presumably the interview is part of the PR build-up for the April rollout of the Apple watch, even if nobody knows what it’s good for, yet [Wall Street Journal]:
Apple plans a range of watches at different prices, starting at $349. The high-end models, with 18-karat gold casing, are expected to be among the most expensive products Apple has ever made, likely surpassing the $4,000 high-end Mac Pro.
So I guess the Apple Stores will have separate showroom for the high rollers? I mean, the better class of customer would expect that, right?
Huge jury verdicts against companies over fatal flaws in their products made a comeback in a year of constant recalls, which may foretell more bad news for carmakers with defective parts [Bloomberg].
Empire State Manufacturing Survey, February 2015: On the low end of consensus, but “tangible falloff in confidence for the outlook” [Bloomberg]. “[G]rowth in new orders is nearly dead flat.”
Housing Market Index, February 2015: In consensus, but traffic is weak, “reflecting a significant lack of first-time buyers” [Bloomberg].
America the Petrostate
CSX Bakken oil train derails, causes a “massive explosion” and fire. Governor declares a state of emergency [Charleston Gazette], [CNN], [Al Jazeera], [Guardian]. One of the tank cars runs into a house, and another ends up in a creek that runs into the Kanawha, a tributary of the Ohio. This is the second derailment on the same route, the other one being in Lynchburg, VA last year. Somebody needs to write a book titled The Detritovores’s Dilemma….
Black Injustice Tipping Point
Justice files statement of interest in Clayton, Alabama “debtors’ prison” case [DOJ].
Legal Aid Society creates nationwide database of “bad cops” [Slate].
Letters to the editor on Rosenthal’s “Insured, but Not Covered” [New York Times]. The headline, “The Health Law, in the Real World,” is doubly obfuscatory. First, the “law” is either the PPACA (or ACA) or, informally, “ObamaCare.” So why not use the name? Second, ObamaCare is not a “health law.” It’s not even a “health care law.” It is, in fact, a “health insurance law” (and Rosenthal’s title draws attention to that.)
HHS extends Obama enrollment glitches one week [Politico]. The glitches are “intermittent issues” with income verification; that is, the back end [Reuters]. “The department did not say how many people were affected.” No, that would be giving out information. (See Naked Capitalism, October 7, 2013 on intermittend back-end issues.)
Bob Laszewski takes the Republican ObamaCare replacement bill seriously enough to summarize and critque it [Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review].
ObamaCare’s horrible system design screws over poor and working class in the Red States [Washington Post]. For those below the poverty limit, Medicaid coverage was put at the mercy of the local oligarchies. For those above the poverty level, there’s King v. Burwell to knock out their subsidies:
Like Meredith, many of the people who receive subsidies through the federal exchange are white and live in the South, according to a recent Urban Institute analysis. Half have full-time jobs. Many live in states such as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas — states led by Republican officials who oppose the health-care law and have balked at setting up their own exchanges. Another big group lives in the Midwest, in states such as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
And there’s no point blaming those mean Republicans, given that the Democrats adopted a Republican plan.
Police State Watch
Former Seattle police chief on how to roll back the tide of militarization [Common Dreams]. Step 1: “Residents of cities across the country must rise up and reclaim their police departments.”
As it turns out, so-called Millenials who are wealthy are far more likely not to be working than those who are not wealthy [Inc.]. But we get the generational narrative anyhow!
News of the Wired
- CSS puns [Saijo George].
- “Tech founders emerging from immigrant stock is a common phenomenon [FT, “The migrant story behind thriving global tech sector”].
- Don’t try to build traffic with Twitter [Atlantic]. Of course, traffic isn’t the same as influence…
- At the quantum level, experiments show that the future can help determine the past [Motherboard].
- Australian greyhound racers are secretly blooding their dogs with live bait as part of systemic and widespread cheating within the country’s multimillion-dollar industry [Sidney Morning Herald].
- “Homeless Man Tells Reporter He Set Fire At Texas Islamic Center To Stay Warm” [Talking Points Memo].
- Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists [European Space Agency]. Plumes rise to an altitude of 250km (155 miles).
- I think any book with a title like How Forests Think is worth reading about [Savage Minds]. But I’m not familiar with the schools of anthropology mentioned, so if any readers would care to enlighten us, that would be great.
Bonus video: Solar Dynamics Observatory: Year 5:
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 (Morak):
A Lady Finger Cactus (Echinocereus pentalophus). Thanks, readers, for the cacti. I could use a few more, for Cactus Week!
If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the heating season!
Talk amongst yourselves!
The problem with DOT-111 rail cars:
They also leak volatile gasses (butane and methane) which prime any fire and explosion, subsequently igniting the crude oil contained within. In addition to this, fracking has increased rail traffic on lines that are likely maintained with the same due diligence as they were 10 years ago. Shoddy rails and ballasts means more derailments.
“On December 9 the North Dakota Industrial Commission issued an Order requiring production facilities to separate volatile gases, the so-called “light ends,” like propane and butane, from crude oil before it is shipped to ports and refineries. Twenty percent of all crude oil produced in North Dakota is shipped by rail to refineries in Philadelphia. Significant amounts are also shipped to New Jersey and Delaware.
Crude from the Bakken Formation is generally recognized as more explosive and flammable than other domestic crudes because it has a significantly higher vapor pressure than other strains of crude. As vapor pressure of crude increases more, and more volatile, gasses are released. As a result, when trains carrying Bakken crude, in contrast to oil with lower vapor pressure, derail there is often an explosion and destructive fire that follows.
Under the Order, operators must condition Bakken crude to a vapor pressure of no more than 13.7 pounds per square inch. The national standard at which crude is deemed “stabilized” is 14.7 pounds per square inch. The light hydrocarbons separated from the crude cannot, under the Order, be blended back before shipment.”
The above excerpt is showing a new standard for volatile gases which is still dangerously too high. The vapor pressure is still at levels deemed unsafe by critics. The fact that there has been a severe enough response to alter the crude for transport implies the potential danger upon derailment but the solution does not specify low enough pressure levels for gases to stop all but certain disaster. The West Virginia explosion and fire yesterday burned out just this morning. It was in a low population area with no reported fatalities so far. This would not be true in Center City Philadelphia where these tanker cars by the hundreds roll through every week.
Video of 300 foot fireballs and fire storm from crude derailment.
On the other hand, understand this is a new problem for the railroads. The experience of 150 years of shipping crude is that when it derails/spills, what you get is a large blob on the ground. Now comes the product of fracking, which blows up in 500 meter wide fireballs.
The problem is probably the acid added to shale oil to make it flow. The reason it’s still in the ground is it’s too thick to pump. Breaking it down with detergents and steam means it can flow more easily, but it’s still awfully viscous. The oil companies add acid at the well head to break down the crude so it can flow through pipelines and into tank cars.
However, adding acid is also the first step in refining oil. It breaks the long carbon bonds, but that means the result is going to be lighter, more volatile fractions. And the vibration and friction inside the tanker is going to continue the fractioning process. So it’s no longer crude that’s being hauled, it’s more flammable hydrocarbons like you’d see in the chemical industry.
The current response to the problem is a nation-wide 40 mph speed limit for trans hauling crude. Fewer derailments, no matter the track conditions, and less force when it hits the ground. Heavier gauge steel in the tank walls would help, but the root of the problem is the chemical/physical process going on inside the car.
Good points, I’ll also introduce exhibit A:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/21/oil-fracking-idUSL3N0SG6B520141021 (this was just as oil prices were crashing)
and exhibit B:
This has all the intrigue and insidiousness of late 19th century robber baron capitalism.
Halliburton has been at the fore of this entire industry from the beginning. They were the first to use the fracking process in 1949 and they continue to lead the extraction method. Via Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney and friends fracking was exempted from the Clean Water Act and EPA regulations (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/safety-first-fracking-second/). Many would argue the prior point, but look to who provides their paycheck (I hear petroleum engineers are making around $150,000 a year and they have great PR). They have also put the blinders on the NTSB with respect to rail transport. Anyway, a bit off track from an analysis of fracking oil/gas transport by rail but I hope fracking dies and stays dead, we need something very different.
“…acid added to shale oil to make it flow. The reason it’s still in the ground is it’s too thick to pump.”
Acid is not added to shale oil to make it flow.
Light tight oil from shale (LTO–“shale oil”) is low viscosity, not high. It’s still in the ground because it’s contained in fractures in the host rock. It flows very slowly from those fractures into a well bore, so hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is used to create new fractures that intersect the natural ones where the oil is, to conduct the oil to the well bore.
The oil is called “light” because it is rich in light hydrocarbons, those with small molecules, such as ethane, butane and propane. They are what make the oil so explosive, and are removed from it before it is loaded into tank cars. Partially removed might be more accurate, judging from the explosions we’ve seen.
Acids have no effect on hydrocarbon viscosity–they are water based and so don’t even mix with oil. (Think oil and vinegar.) Nor is there chemical reaction between acids and hydrocarbons; they don’t react with much of anything except oxygen when they burn. Acids are added to break down carbonates or prevent them forming.
So carbonates don’t help make the oil too thick to pump? What the heck is a carbonate?
Carbonates=Limestone (not likely to be found in shale source rocks of course)
They add the acids to the wells, they claim, to help “break” the rocks, chemically. Bigger, better holes in the rock make the rock leach the oil faster.
Another way that acid figures into it is that not only does the acid from the wells end up in the railcars, but hydrogen, and a lot of very small hydro-carbons are very good at “Permeation”
That is the major problem with “hydrogen” as a fuel. It “passes through” tanks and seals pretty well. Not only that, but on the outside of the tank, in the presence of air and humidity, the hydrogen forms an acid which will eat away at the metal of the tank, from the outside.
Thanks to all for this really informative thread. We’ve got oil going up through Maine, in fact right through the massive conurbation of Bangor [snort], right along the Penobscot, on the worst rail you’ve ever seen.
Adding, because of rational choices by surveying engineers a century ago, railroads tend to run alongside rivers: Think “the water level route” of the New York Central. So its not random that we see oil cars running along the Schuylkill (sp?) or the Penobscot or (last year in Lynchburg) the James. (I’d add the Kanawha, but I don’t know West Virginia’s mountainous topography well enough).
I’m sure there are lots of implications to this — like people tending to live in cities along rivers — but at a minimum our water is under threat in a new way. (And if you think that oil should be left in the ground because its taboo, as I do, then the gallons spilled don’t really matter ;-)
Railroads were also a lot easier to build on the land next to rivers because the river had done it’s work and leveled the land out.
Timber and Railroad “development” decided a lot of this. First, the trees were moved via floating them down the river, so they needed lots of water in the rivers.
Then, as the trees closest to the rivers were disappearing, railroads came into play. They needed the rivers lower, so that they could build the RR beds on what used to be underwater. Shrink the river in order to use the riverbed.
Chicken or egg type story. In the northeast, most rivers, and water bodies that could be lowered were lowered, opening up plenty of nearly flat land that was ready to build on. Before big earth moving equipment, it was often the only, or only “economically feasible” way to “level” land. Flood it and then drain it.
Jim Haygood on Hillary Clinton, 9 Nov 2016:
“She came, we saw, she lost.”
Disdain, arrogance and myopic vision rival Dubya’s “Mission Accomplished!”
It has been said that a People get the government they deserve. I disagree.
“It has been said”… typically by self-proclaimed Players who didn’t get what they wanted from their victims this time, despite their best machinations, and seek to lay the blame elsewhere… “that a People get the government they deserve.”
Camus: “Democracy is when we are all guilty.” On that basis, most of us may honestly and in good conscience plead innocence.
What schools are you referring to? Other than his co-workers and thesis adviser, most of the references are fairly mainstream.
I know the names, but not the relationships.
“Letters to the editor on Rosenthal’s “Insured, but Not Covered” [New York Times]. The headline, “The Health Law, in the Real World,” is doubly obfuscatory. First, the “law” is either the PPACA (or ACA) or, informally, “ObamaCare.” So why not use the name? Second, ObamaCare is not a “health law.” It’s not even a “health care law.” It is, in fact, a “health insurance law” (and Rosenthal’s title draws attention to that.)”
Or as Valerie Jarrett on NPR repeatedly called it: “access to health insurance.”
Nothing more, nothing less.
Since only relatively rare events are insurable, it’s not even insurance really. Just a form of cost redistribution in which the taxpayers collectively subsidize what they can’t afford individually. Yeah, that sounds sustainable!
(This is a third attempt at posting a reply to Mr Haygood in a half an hour.)
“Yeah, that (cost redistribution) sounds sustainable!”
What, an appeal to ignorance from you? Not possible!
We all understand that the extent of the pool of resources from which any social program is funded determines its’ chances of success or failure. If we tax all wealth equitably, the funding problems disappear.
Besides, insurance systems marginalize the “relatively rare events” and focus upon the regular and common events. That’s where the “Money” is in insurance. Indeed, insurance itself is a form of socialism.
(Let us try again. *crosses fingers and toes*)
It’s plenty sustainable, as long as you defend it against predators.
I encourage you all to imagine Liz Fowler, Valerie Jarrett, Jonathan Gruber, and the rest of that team not as persons, but as collections of organs to be harvested. I expect anyone who disagrees to tell me why we should continue to acknowledge their existence instead of liquidating them for their only remaining social value, when THEY ARE DOING JUST THAT TO US.
“collections of organs to be harvested” Fair enough. After all, the feeling is mutual.
Why is it that redistribution upward is always sustainable, but redistribution downward never is?
Regarding the author of the motherboard.vice article on quantum states: this is a great example of science enthusiasm masquerading as science literacy. Here’s a sense of what the article sounds like: “it’s well known that the planetary orbits stem from the rotations of concentric solid crystal spheres, but in the bewildering world of astronomy, detailed observations prove that these solid spheres regularly pass through each other without causing any structural damage. Truly, the more we learn about astronomy, the more we are awed by the amazing nature of these crystal spheres.”
In a pair of posts in yesterday’s Links section, I mentioned some specific physicists who’ve failed to understand their own field’s foundations before presuming to “teach.” This includes one who presumes to publish a textbook on the topic while misunderstanding (among other things) usages of the English word “is.” I blame them & certain other self-promoting scientists for the current state of things.
But hey, why listen to me? After all, I merely performed some of the early physics simulations that informed the design of subdetector systems and data systems in the BaBar experiment. And the data from that detector is merely the basis for this first paper on direct observation of time asymmetry in particle processes:
(Note: in the above article, the phrase “time-reversal violation” refers to time *symmetries*, not to the flow of time)
RE: ObamaCare’s horrible system design screws over poor and working class in the Red States
Um… it’s not so much ObamaCare’s design. It’s the Republican officials trying to dismantle it piece by piece. Yes, the working class in the Red states could get screwed… but it’ll be by their own elected officials.
The Republican are playing the “Why do you keep hitting yourself” game with their own constituents. (Or more accurately the “Why does Obama keep hitting you” game.)
Sorry, but here down south is has become a game of “Who’s got the biggest hemorrhoids.”
The vulnerability to Republican state officials is part of the design.
” Of course, if we had an actual, functioning opposition party, from right or left, there would be questions raised about our imperial mission in Libya. Instead, we’ll get yammering from the Republican clown car about Benghazi ZOMG.”
I sometimes think the Republican yammer about “Benghazi” is INTENDED to cover up the real problems with Libya (and for that matter, the Benghazi attack, a classic security and intelligence botch.) In general, Libya is a perfect example of the disastrous results of most foreign interventions.
“‘It was hard to convince the Americans,’ [Levy] said. ‘Robert Gates was totally opposed. Obama as usual was hesitating. But Hillary got it.'”
How could anyone have foreseen that NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya would leave the country a failed state and a Petri dish for terrorists?
Results not withstanding, Hilly did a heck of a job in “shaping” Libya. I know that she’s ready to do the same for the rest of the world.
Apple watch: the transition to a fashion company is complete. It’s literally a computer that you wear. Google tried with Glass but neglected the all important branding. As a story opined the other day, they let the social narrative get away from them.
I’m not sure Apple has the social branding right either; that’s what the “cattle prod” riff is aimed at.
RE: Kohn’s How Forests Think…like Tim Mason above, nothing discussed in that article is radically new or out of the mainstream. But if you don’t know the discipline the interview is just a lot of inside baseball, so forget the schools of anthropology question.
The question is whether Kohn is breaking new ground or not and, I guess, whether he gives us a way of understanding how forests might think. His and my theoretical/empirical interests overlap somewhat so I’m an interested party. The book is a contribution, and I’m glad he did it. While I agree the general problem he addresses is acute– “we” need better ways of conceptualizing how nonhuman being and beings live in the world that doesn’t fall back on the old dichotomies that always prioritize specifically human modes of intelligence (language and abstract reasoning)–I am ambivalent about how he goes about it.
I don’t want to get too technical, but his way of attributing the capacity of “thinking” and “representation” to animals or forests seems to reinforce what he wants to criticize. To know how forests think demands a real dislocation of the common (human, all too human) meanings of terms like thinking, representation and so on. It seems to me that what (modern) humans presently regard as thought is so distant from what a tree or a jaguar might “regard as thought” that it is counterproductive to attribute it trees or jaguars; which is just another way of saying Kohn’s way of going about this was not convincing to me.
He argues against using the concept of affect for getting at ways of relating to and understanding nonhumans and there I just think he is wrong. Affect can be “representational” and a kind of thinking. It’s not just “feelings;” not that he claims this specifically. Anyway, that’s the place to begin, imo.
Agree, though my anthropology is a bit rusty. I suppose, a la Bateson, the minding of a forest is just a slower information loop(s) than the thoughts of an animal. For animal affect, the place to start is Jaak Panksepp, then Silvan Tomkins. Affect is intelligent and the sine qua non of consciousness. Just please don’t cognitivize it.
“Affect is intelligent and the sine qua non of consciousness. Just please don’t cognitivize it”
It’s like I understand every word in that sentence but not the sentence. (Mason’s article, and the trees article, had the same effect on me at the paragraph level. Where are you going with this? was my mental question. (I know where I’m going with it — an assault on the neo-liberal concept of what it means to be human.)
Er, what I’m trying to coax out here is a bit of discussion for the readers on the baseball; to bring them (mixing metaphor) out of the disciplinary silo just a bit.
If I were Senator McCain, I’d be demanding to know why our allies can’t call in tactical nuclear strikes too, if necessary.
After all, when our moderate rebels are fighting a two-front war against Assad the butcher and the extremists, we should all ask ourselves what more we can do for these embattled, lovely people.
Lambert, love your stuff, but I believe the term of art is ZOMFG.
Well, that’s the more intense version; as Z, more Z, most Z, we have ZOMG, ZOMFG, and…. ?
“Millenials don’t see a future with their employers.” Too right about that generational narrative. Not seeing a future with employers is probably a problem with any age. Everything else in that article seems irrelevant to me. I left employment myself, and I’m determined to never go back. Instead I want to help start a labor cooperative or take part in one. I’ve wasted too many years watching all of my financial goals get farther and farther away as costs shot up while my salary went nowhere. I’d have to be insane to continue as an employee under those circumstances. I’m far better off doing what I can with what I already have than piss away any more years of my life.
Given that a growing number of employERS have been employEE-surfing for a couple decades now, and are trying to enshrine the part-time job and the short-term freelance “contract” and the labor-broker contractor as the new mainstream job-system, why would anyone feel loyalty or permanency to any employER? (Except for the few that still offer long-term jobs?) What future with employERS are millenials or anyone else supposed to see when their is no future with employERS to be seen?
And to the employers: Good luck with that.
Of course, if you’ve got squillions in capital, like Amazon, you can a deskill the employees sufficiently with automation, and install the cameras and guard towers and fences for the necessary compliance regimen, but not every business can afford that.
Oh, sh*t, I smell business model. Somebody’s going to get into the business of leasing compliance regimens. Or maybe Wackenhut already does it. Better whack a few free range kids to make sure demand keeps up.
I hope that’s the same tune he strikes in his memoirs, about the alternative. FDR sounds like pretty weak sauce at this point.
Response in the the new New Republic to 2/16 link on “public intellectuals”:
“Mourning the public intellectual, in this context, seems like an almost willful distraction from the huge amount of intellectual work taking place in public—intellectual work often perpetrated by folks who would never have been granted access to the pages of The Partisan Review.”
I do agree with Grief’s point, put bluntly, that the public itself has been dumbed down into a bunch of politically disenfranchised job seekers.
Why it’s important for ***clowns like Andy Sullivan to insist that blogging is dead because he’s not doing it any more.
This latest story about Scott Walker HAS to put him in the clown car:
I’m sure the public employees who lost jobs will be comfort to know that God was consulted before Walker decided to cut their budgets…. ay yi yi!!!
No, that’s just Democratic japery.