2:00PM Water Cooler 3/12/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


O’Malley: “Frankly, I’m a little sick of the email drama” [Wall Street Journal]. I’ll have more on this tomorrow. I’m sick of it, too. See here, here, here, here, and here.

Bloomberg doctored an image of Hillary Clinton, taking her head from one shot and placing it atop her body from another [CNN]. Huh? They couldn’t find an image of Hillary Clinton?

“As much as it advertises itself as the party of a rising generation, the Democrats’ farm team is severely understaffed, and many of its leading lights are eligible for Social Security” [New York Times]. Too bad about that whole “50-state strategy” thing. The Democrats would have a bench if they’d kept up with it. Instead, in a classic case of the Iron Law of Institutions, they deep-sixed it. Now they have a bench of one: Hillary.

Sestak’s walking campaign for Senate in Pennsylvania [Lancaster Online]. IIR

“The 2016 Election Could Be a Popularity Contest Between Two Introverts” [Bloomberg]. Jebbie’s explicitly identified as an introvert, and the article points out several introverted characteristics in Hillary. As an introvert’s introvert, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this.


Jebbie has sold his ownership stakes in his consulting and investment firms, “freeing himself from business entanglements” [Wall Street Journal]. He already gave up his board seats, chairmanship of two think tanks, and his partnership in a private equity firm.

Jebbie sold his consulting business, Jeb Bush & Associates, it to his son, Jeb Bush Jr. The [Tampa Bay Times]. Seems pretty “entangled” to me.

Rick Perry on his 2012 debacle: “I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t prepared. This time I’m both” [Greenville News]. Well, why did you run, then?

Principled Insurgents

Unemployment rates are up in every Wisconsin county and major city [Wisconsin State Journal].

“During the 2014 race against Madison School Board member Mary Burke, Walker’s campaign released an ad in which he spoke directly to the camera and said the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made by “a woman and her doctor” [Wisconsin State Journal]. “Last week, however, Walker asked lawmakers to send him a bill that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks.” And I bet his supporters are saying, of the 2014 ad, “He had to say that.”

“Republicans champion bill to curb John Doe probes in political crimes” [Journal-Sentinel]. The bill, if passed and signed by Walker, would end an investigation into Walker’s campaign. (Prosecutors have convicted both Democrats and Republicans using the John Doe law.)

Clown Car

Huckabee is back at Pizza Ranch, which he made an institution in the 2008 Iowa primary [Guardian].

Huckabee: “Do you know of anybody in America who’s ever run against the Clinton machine and defeated it, not once, but repeatedly?” [Des Moines Register]. (The Clintons would campaign for his Arkansas opponents.) Stealing Walker’s clothes, here.

Fall guy for Christie in Bridgegate now, it is to be hoped, singing like a canary to the Feds, had more extensive contact with Christie than first thought, calendar shows [WNYC].

The Hill

Defense Secretary Ash Carter “insisted that Congress leave in place an indefinite timeline for the war against al Qaeda, the Taliban and its affiliates, authorized in 2001” [HuffPo]. Don’t want to break any rice bowls.

Herd on the Street

Cash-intensive startups [Bloomberg]. Well, with so much cash sloshing around, why not?

Dollar General forecasts full-year profit below estimates [Reuters].

Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and the U.S. unit of HSBC Holdings PLC, provided access to the American financial system to Banca Privada d’Andorra, a European lender accused of laundering money for organized-crime groups, according to U.S. authorities [Wall Street Journal].

Seoul seeks to capitalise on China’s drive to internationalise its currency [FT, “Samsung to trade renminbi in S Korea”].


“[A] complicated trail where hundreds of millions of ringgit from 1MDB [the Malaysian Ministry of Finance-owned strategic investment company] went round the world before returning to Malaysia disguised as a much flaunted ‘foreign direct investment’ from the Middle East” [Free Malaysia Today].


Timing is everything. I had no idea that Rahm shouted “You’re gonna respect me!” at mental health advocates after he made his warm and fuzzy sweater ad [In These Times]. Wowers, Tiny Dancer!

“In the last weeks of his campaign, Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems exhausted, spread thin” [John Kass, Chicago Tribune]. “You get the feeling there is too much toast and not enough cheese in him.”

“A Chicago expat buddy of mine who’s living in Chicago’s Canada (Milwaukee) messaged me saying, ‘I wish I was a Chicago voter right now. I can feel the atmospheric electricity from here.'” [RedEye]. Can any readers confirm?

“All told, the number of [Chicago] technology jobs has increased by more than one-third, or 12,000, to an estimated 40,000 since Emanuel first took office in 2011. The tech community could be a key voting block for Emanuel” [Forbes]. One tech firm made a Rahm app.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Injuries to shot police at Ferguson protest serious but not life-threatening [Today].

“[T]he shooting, which occurred after midnight, took place as protests in the area were relatively quiet and after many demonstrators had left, according to police” [WaPo]. “EVERYTHING I have seen and heard from eyewitnesses is the shots did not come from protesters” [St Louis Public Radio].

“Faces of the Movement is a daily-release photo project that highlights the stories of everyday people who have joined together to fight for justice against police brutality in the United States” [Faces of the Movement].

“Just as in Ferguson, the primary mechanism for this new slavery [Jim Crow in the post-Reconstruction South], as recounted by journalist Douglas Blackmon in his groundbreaking book Slavery by Another Name, was two-bit charges designed to impose legal debts on blacks they would be required to work off” [Buzzfeed].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Child advocates want toymaker Mattel to pull the plug on a new interactive Barbie doll that records children’s voices and uploads them to a cloud server” [Charlotte Observer]. What could go wrong?


Resistance documentary on how “we” are squandering the resource of antibiotics [Vox].

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in West Texas feedlots [KCBD].

“How the pharmaceutical industry is contributing to antimicrobial resistance” [Pharmaceutical Journal].

Big Pharma stopped making antibiotics long ago, citing high costs of development and low returns [International Business Times]. Obama has proposed incentives, but behavior has not changed.

Merck bought antibiotic research company Cubist and then laid off 120 researchers [The Confluence].

A new meta-analysis from Princeton shows that antibiotics aren’t as effective at promoting growth as they used to be [Mother Jones].

Class Warfare

“Why spy? Because it’s cheaper than playing fair. Our networks have given the edge to the elites, and unless we seize the means of information, we are headed for a long age of IT-powered feudalism, where property is the exclusive domain of the super-rich….” [Cory Doctorow, Guardian].

Thomas Piketty interviewed by [Der Spiegel]. Read the whole thing for the combative tone of the Der Spiegel interviewer.

“The question is, does your next proposed political action hurt Rich Uncle Pennybags?” [Fredrik deBoer]. Word of the day: apoptosis (which is not a rhetorical form, even though it sounds like it should be). And while we’re at it:

This on “critique drift” is really, really excellent [Fredrik deBoer].

News of the Wired

  • 21 Instances of sledging in cricket [Scoop Whoop]. I believe in basketball, “sledging” is called “chirping.”
  • A look at Internet memes, where the author gives examples of “joke formats,” without apparently knowing of snowclones [Business Insider]. No knock on the author; it’s almost impossible to find anything on the Internet unless you know what you’re looking for.
  • “Ad Roulette combines video and audio of two different commercials” [Ad Roulette].
  • Maine B&B to sell for $125 (no zeroes) and an essay [Mental Floss].
  • “Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage, resides in the central government of China” [New York Times]. Assuming the Times is translating People’s Daily correctly, wowsers.
  • [M]illions of starfish dying all along the West Coast in largest known outbreak of disease in an animal population [McClatchy].
  • “The Anthropocene Epoch” [Bloomberg].
  • RIP Terry Pratchett [Mashable]. Last tweets.

* * *

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, the fourth of, er, Miscellaneous Week* (Furzy Mouse):

Combretum Constrictum - New Guinea Bottlebrush 5

Buds from the Combretum Constrictum, originally from Thailand.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the heating season!

* My concept was “Humorous Vegetables Week” (a Terry Pratchett reference) but the only submission was, well, not suitable for a family blog. So maybe that was not such a good idea. I wonder what would have been better?

Talk amongst yourselves!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Vatch

    Thanks for all the articles about the worsening problem of antibiotic resistance. In a few decades (or maybe sooner), we could again be at significant risk of dying every time we get a simple sore throat or shallow finger cut.

    1. grayslady

      For the past two years, I have only been buying hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken and pork. It costs me twice as much–on sale!–but I just don’t want any unnecessary antibiotics in my system. About twice a year (now is one of those times) I have a sinus issue that evolves into an infection and I need an antibiotic. I can’t afford not to have the antibiotic work for me.
      I don’t know about antibiotics in beef, but beef is so far beyond my budget these days that I only eat it about 6 times a year, and then, only when I can find something on sale. I’ve also been using a lot more dishes that I can serve on rice, or with potatoes–like stews, Indian or Thai curries–that use less pork or chicken generally. Since I don’t go out to eat more than twice a year, I can only hope I’m helping to control any resistance to the normally useful antibiotics through buying healthier pork and chicken.

      1. ambrit

        We are fully with you on the anti-antibiotic foods issue. It really is more expensive, and we’ve wondered more than once why. Does the extra growth the antibiotics ‘gift’ to the poor animal really offset the cost of the antibiotic fed to the wee beastie? I’ve been inside some of the immense battery chicken sheds that dot the countryside here Down South. A closer analogue to H— I cannot think of. Simple compassion for the animals would drive any sane person away from consuming the industrially grown products.
        The severe cut back in beef consumption might be a blessing in disguise. You are probably eating much more healthily than most people simply by avoiding, out of necessity, the more toxic products in our food chain.
        Good luck with the sinus issues. Do you know what the triggering mechanism is? We had some of the dreaded ‘black mold’ in our house a few years ago. Since we, hopefully, eliminated it, my sinus attacks have decreased in severity.

        1. different clue

          Mass feeding of antibiotics to animals permits mass close-confinement of those animals in factory-like assembly systems. It probably costs less labor per animal to raise the mass-confinement animals.

          Animals not fed routine antibiotics can’t be crowded in that close because that kind of crowding without antibiotics would cause mass epidemics to wipeout the whole bunches of animals. Animals raised in a more chem-free bio-clean manner require more work and that takes more paid labor time, among other things. They are more expensive to raise by semi-hand, so they have to be sold for more to recoup the more money spent paying for more labor to care for them. That is my best guess.

        2. Elizabeth

          Hi grayslady, I used to have a lot of sinus infections and would often get an antibiotic for them, until I discovered saline spray for my nasal passages. (It is not a netti pot) – but a sterile spray that moisturizes and flushes out your sinuses. Most drugstores carry it. Since I’ve begun using it, I haven’t had an infection. I think it’s much better (and certainly cheaper) than using antibiotics. My two cents.

          1. grayslady

            Hi, Elizabeth. I routinely use the saline spray–mostly in the winter when the dry air aggravates the sinuses. If I feel an infection coming on, I may also use a steroid spray for a couple of days, which usually calms it down. Unfortunately, this time I knew an infection had developed because the gums around my upper molars were so sore I couldn’t even brush my teeth there–meaning the sinus cavity just above the molars had developed a severe infection. It’s just been a long, brutal winter….

            1. Lambert Strether

              I get the dry air because of the wood stove, and I’ve had the same symptoms as you, although luckily not as severely; sorry for that. I have had myrrh recommended to me; but whether myrrh or the red wine I sloshed around my gums did the trick, I don’t know.

              1. grayslady

                Just did some research on myrhh. Seems it has serious antiseptic and antibacterial properties. I’d love to try it in future for certain ailments, but it is super expensive: $25 or half an ounce! Were you able to locate a less expensive source?

        3. grayslady

          Hi, abmrit. I hope you didn’t have that contaminated Chinese drywall that made its way over here a few years ago. I read about whole interiors having to be torn out to get rid of that stuff. My sinus issues are mostly triggered by extremely dry air inside, even though I put fresh water in the bathtub every night to provide some humidity. My “whole house humidifier” hasn’t worked since I moved in, and after sinking hundreds of dollars into trying to fix it, I just gave up. Had I known, I would have spent the money on a decent humidifier instead of trying to repair the existing one.

          1. ambrit

            Dear grayslady;
            Thanks for that reminder. We don’t have the Chinese drywall, but we did live in one of the truly dreaded “Katrina Trailers” for about a year after the storm. I’ll have to look up the symptoms and duration of same attendant upon formaldehyde exposure. (If you are driving along I-10 near Denham Springs Louisiana, you will see a park that holds about a thousand or so of the ‘boxes on wheels.’ A company that built log cabin houses used to be there. The rows of identical white metal trailers sits there, slowly decaying. The Feds evidently still sell them , despite the liability issues, as you can occasionally see one or two being pulled off to another site by any and all.)

    2. Oregoncharles

      A sidelong view on antibiotics: I just warded off a tooth abscess with a heavy dose of echinacea extract over about a week. It was developing slowly, so I figured I had a chance. Pain gone, nervy feeling still there, so I’ll probably have to do it again. (Echinacea has a strong distinctive flavor, so you can tell if it’s really in there.)

      This because we’re going to have to reduce our dependence on antibiotics. I’m thinking, for instance, of grayslady’s biannual sinus infections. You need to fix that sort of thing, or ward it off early.

      It was a short, happy run anyway. Now it’s time for some ingenuity.

      1. Yves Smith

        I hate to tell you, but you need to go to an endodontist or oral surgeon ASAP. If you were starting to get an abscess, that means the infection is in the nerve and you are on the way to having a dead tooth. If you get to an endodontist IMMEDIATELY, you might be able to save enough tooth structure to have a root canal. Otherwise you are looking at an extraction.

          1. Yves Smith

            It’s only about $2000 or so in Birmingham, AL from a great guy, including the restoration (the crown afterward from a separate dentist) and even cheaper in Texas if you know where to go.

  2. NOTaREALmerican

    Damn, these neo-liberals! If only we could lead the teaming-masses away from these neo-liberals.

    1. ambrit

      Wait, wait. Neo-liberals love ‘teaming’ masses. Non cooperative masses are what they fear the most.

  3. Mel

    “Barbie doll that records children’s voices and uploads them to a cloud server”. What could go wrong?

    Wrong? Children sing songs and recite copyright material to their dolls, implicating the cloud server operators in intellectual property theft, and bringing on DMCA takedowns.

  4. George Phillies

    “Now they have a bench of one: Hillary.”

    And while I do not wish her anything but good health, she has reached an age where those actuarial tables do not just show zeros. There is a calculable likelihood that by their convention or Inauguration Day they will have a bench of zero.

    1. Jim Haygood

      For her consort ‘Bill’ the actuarial tables are even grimmer. Given the 5-10 point sympathy vote associated with running as a widow, along with a complete lack of scruples, it’s all too likely that Miss Rodham will give nature a little help with ‘Bill.’

      As Mandy Grunwald told her (quoting Bob Dylan), ‘Yes, I think it can be very easily done.’

  5. Mel

    “reincarnation of the Dalai Lama”
    NYT won’t show me the story, but this has been cooking for a while. Logically, it’s like that property of monotheism: that all monotheists believe in the same god, because there is only one. The Communist Party of China is Marxist and bases its rule and actions on the economic law of motion of contemporary society. Since the Dharma is also the law of motion of society, therefore the CPC embodies the Dharma, and so all decisions about reincarnation are in the purview of the Party.
    I believe the Dalai Lama countered this step a while ago by giving up politics forever. Any politician from now on claiming to be the Dalal Lama will not be.

    1. different clue

      According to my memory, there are “2” great head lamas. The Panchen Lama is the one who discovers and announces the newly re-incarnated Dalai Lama. And the Dalai Lama is the one who discovers and announces the next newly re-incarnated Panchen Lama. Some years ago people considered to be acting legitimately on the Dalai Lama’s behalf found and announced the new upcoming Panchen Lama, a very young child. That child was kidnapped by the ChiCom regime and his whereabouts and status are unknown. The ChiCom authorities then announced their “own” Panchen Lama. The ChiCommie theory was that the ChiCommie’s own choice of Panchen Lama would be installed, China’s Panchen Lama would “discover” a pro-China re-incarnated Dalai Lama to succeed the current Dalai Lama; and China would have the whole double-lama co-baton handoff wired up into the future. Perhaps the Dalai Lama has implied “no more Dalai Lamas after me” in order to break China’s planned chain-of-control.

      By the way, here’s a riddle.
      Question: What do you call a West Bank the size of Tibet?
      Answer: Tibet.

      We worry about the West Bank because Israel is small enough that we “can” make it behave better and set the West Bank free if we re-arrange our own internal politics enough to grab the levers of power over Israel and use them. We don’t worry about Tibet because there is not a damn thing anybody can do about Tibet.
      So why worry? China will leave Tibet, including the Tibetan regions referred to as so-called “Chinghai” and so-called “Szechuan” province a smoking charred cinder. Israel would be proud and envious over what China will do to Tibet in the end.

      I hope some of the Chinese elites buying land and houses here are buying land and houses just downwind/downstream/downplume from those hog manure lagoons. Or along the West Coast, so they can breathe the ever-rising mercury levels their industry is contributing to the global atmoshphere. And liberal guilt-mongers who whine about “Western environmental imperialism” in “displacing our bad old factories to China” should remember that the American Majority did not ask for that. The bicoastal elitists and the International Free Trade Conspiracy arranged that shift. Not us out here in Heart Landistan.

      1. different clue

        By the way, Steven “Cock” Roach should eat more tuna. It’s good for his health.

  6. reslez

    > Critique drift is the phenomenon in which a particular critical political lens that correctly identifies a problem gets generalized and used less and less specifically over time. This in turn blunts the force of the critique and ultimately fuels a backlash against it.

    This is seriously wrong-headed. The existence of criticism in itself fuels backlash. Backlash exists happily on its own, independent of whatever “drift” is. Do terms like “mansplaining” and “trigger warnings” get used improperly? Sure, and OMG what a distressing problem that is, compared to the actual problems they are meant to address. /s Isn’t it weird how every term deBoer calls out is one of the ones the misogynist bro-brigade is up in arms about? And busily driving people off the internet and out of their homes on account of? The breath-taking vitriol of the backlash against these terms make the whole idea of “drift” ring hollow. (Let us now clutch our pearls against the misuse of terms.) And isn’t it kind of weird how the essay starts off with deBoer being uncomfortable when a female engineer calls out a male one for his imperialist overtones — which deBoer admitted really were there? He states her criticism was accurate, except he was unhappy about it, which somehow invalidates it? As the internet would say: Wat.

    I was much less impressed by this essay than Lambert.

    1. snackattack

      Totally agree reslez, that deBoer article was not very good at all. In addition to the problems you mentioned, the article provides _no_ examples to back up his claim that terms like “mansplaining”, “tone policing”, etc. are being misused, he just rants on and on with essentially no links or evidence.

      Yes, there are plenty of annoying comments and commentators that can be found on Twitter/the internet, but IMO this “issue” is not worth the attention of deBoer, and if he is going to waste his time on it, the least he can do is call out some specific examples of “critique drift”.

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s a sample size of one, but I’ve been using the term “gaslighting” to refer not to the specific case of gradual adjustment of the argument to make the opponent feel insane, but to counterfactuals used to that same end a la the Big Lie or Alice in Wonderland — and de Boer’s article was what set me straight.

    2. hunkerdown

      You seem to be distressed that he’s not singing the notes you expect and are entitled to. Perhaps your false Clash of Civilizations narrative that everything male is evil until proven otherwise by women needs to be reconsidered?

    3. Tom Allen

      Yet another scolding of student activists and academics by deBoer? I’d say that “PC backlash” articles were a dime a dozen, but I think that dramatically overstates the price.

    4. JD

      I had a similar response to the essay. When 8 different instances of a supposedly general problem all happen to be to the left of the writer, it’s hard to distinguish the supposedly general phenomenon from a standard ideological fight between (relative) right and left. At the very least, deBoer should ask himself what caused this coincidence of “critique drift” and “to the left of me”. Though I doubt he would want to outright admit that it’s a phenomenon particular to women, minorities, and other folks to the left of white male centrist liberals like himself.

      1. hunkerdown

        Do your own homework. If you weren’t too busy trying to pretend it didn’t exist, ‘socialism’ ought to have come to mind as a blatantly obvious example of the same coming from the right.

      2. bob

        I dunno, it sounds like you’re calling him an asshole. That my or may not be true, but it doesn’t have anything to do with his argument.

        I believe your ‘critque’ is exact evidence of what he’s speaking of. Instead of talking about “it”, you assume he’s a ” white male centrist liberal” who cannot and wouldn’t “want to outright admit that it’s a phenomenon particular to women, minorities, and other folks to the left”

        Facts not in evidence- women and minorities are “on the left”– to begin with. But you did drop a whole lot of loaded terms, broad generalizations and passive aggressive venom. Good work. Gold star from your left. Drift accomplished. We all now know he’s the enemy.

    5. Sibiriak

      reslez: “This is seriously wrong-headed. The existence of criticism in itself fuels backlash. Backlash exists happily on its own, independent of whatever “drift” is. Do terms like “mansplaining” and “trigger warnings” get used improperly? Sure, and OMG what a distressing problem that is, compared to the actual problems they are meant to address.”

      You make a good point that criticism itself fuels backlash. However, I think that’s a separate notion. There is criticism, backlash to criticism, misuse of criticism, and backlash to the misuse of criticism. ( I prefer the notion of criticism misuse to criticism drift.)

      And, quite often, the misuse of criticism can be just as distressing as the problems addressed by the valid use of criticism.

      While it’s true that a backlash to criticism itself can sometimes take the guise of a backlash to the misuse of criticism–an excellent point you bring out– that is by no means always the case.

      Consider, for example, accusations of antisemitism. Antisemitism is real, pernicious and worthy of condemnation. However, the misuse of antisemitism accusations is also real, pernicious and worthy of condemnation. It’s worthy of condemnation not only for the direct harm done to the falsely accused, but also for the indirect harm of undermining valid accusations.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I like “drift” because it’s parallel to “semantic drift,” a similar process. Perhaps my perspective is unique, or jaundiced: I process massive amounts of material online, and it seems obvious to me that “critique drift” happens, all the time. And I’ve invented some, too.

        Do terms like “mansplaining” and “trigger warnings” get used improperly? Sure, and OMG what a distressing problem that is, compared to the actual problems they are meant to address.

        I know this is snark, but to me, that’s like saying that because we want to build a house (“the actual problem”) we shouldn’t worry about whether the tools we’re using are sharp or dull. “So what if I left the saw out in the rain and it rusted? Building the house is what’s important!”)

        No criticism implied, but I see in miniature the same thing with “Clown Car.” My semantics for the “Clown Car” are that the people in it aren’t dangerous; hence, Trump in the Clown Car. Some readers would like to push the term in the direction of putting dangerous fools in the Clown Car; from the 30,000 foot view, that’s drift. Maybe the term was not well-crafted enough to prevent drift, but probably that’s not possible.

        1. Sibiriak

          Lambert Strether: I like “drift” because it’s parallel to “semantic drift…

          “Critique drift” may occur, but “drift” suggest a natural, gradual, basically involuntary process of change or evolution. In the case of “semantic drift”, a word gradually takes on, for various reasons, a new meaning or usage that is not necessarily better or worse than the original meaning, just different. Wikipedia gives the example of “egregious”:
          The word is from the Latin egregius “illustrious, select”, literally, “standing out from the flock”, which is from ex—”out of” + greg—(grex) “flock”. Now it means something that is remarkably bad or flagrant.
          Okay, the meaning has changed. So what? The word with its new meaning can still be used precisely and clearly and to good effect. There is nothing necessarily bad about the change; it’s evolution, not degeneration.

          Now back to critique misuse: its not so much about a critical term’s gradual, unmotivated drift in scope, but rather its inappropriate, unreasonable, harmful –and quite often malicious–application.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It is true that one person’s sloppy usage is another person’s evolution, and the evolution if language is something we should not halt even if we could.

            That said, if we intend, on a less than historical timescale, to effect change through language, then we had better keep our language precise and real at the same time; unlike classical economists, who sacrifice reality for precision, or the press, who achieve neither.

        2. Pepsi

          I agree. It would be nice if we all agreed on a language that would be mostly intelligible to people 300 years in the future.

  7. valley gurl

    Mattel’s Hell[o] Barbie Doll – Faithful Reporter to The Cloud on all utterances of little children in homes apparently no longer safe whatsoever from 24/7 audio visual tracking – is mind boggling in its blatant violation of what were once the only totally safe from predators (yes, there are exceptions, but most parents love their children more than themselves) place for children; and, in the fact that less than a decade ago, Mattel would not have gotten away with even marketing that MultiNational Corp[se]/DOD Ghoul.

  8. valley gurl

    The next thing ya know, is possibly Mattel/DOD Public Relations claiming that they were only trying to give the little mini-wimmenz a bootstrap towards not ending their lives’ in excruciating physical and non-physical pain and poverty, as has been happening forever and is getting even worse now, in the US, Mattel’s domicile.

    1. Light a Candle

      Yes, DeBoer’s article on critique drift was outstanding, a very thoughtful exploration of how conversation is encouraged or discouraged.

  9. valley gurl


    Have to say I did more than a double take on our -within few minutes time-back to back comments. My comment implicitly noted the verifiable fact that females have forever been more likely to receive the raw end end of the US stick if they aren’t connected with a healthy, living (predominately light skinned) male mate, or, choose to go it on their own and not rely on a (predominately light skinned) male; your following comment implicitly noting that females can be stunningly ghastly (in those very few circumstances where females are even able to force their influence, I would add) also.

    I believe we are both correct, and when I look at the time stamps of our back to back comments, I’ll take the high road and assume, you weren’t responding to my commment; as you were likely busy writing your comment and had not even noticed mine by the time you posted yours, at least I hope not.

    1. DJG

      valley gurl: Your comment may not have posted as I wrote. In any case, I don’t consider Barbie, as goofy as Barbie is, a major cultural issue. My seven nieces, with several master’s degrees among them, learned that being an independent woman matters more than thinking that a toy oppresses.

      As to Laura Kipnis, she is not the oppressor.

  10. Carla

    Douglas Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name” is a phenomenal book. I highly recommend it.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Very strange that nobody could locate the perpetrators as I’d image there was more than the usual amount of security and surveillance in the area.

      Also strange when the riots started after the verdict – masked individuals showed up in the midst of all those police, gmen, and other assorted spooks and yet nobody could stop them or figure out who they were. Then in a subsequent protest the masked individuals trying to start trouble turned out to be police and nobody in the corporate media seems to be interested in connecting the dots…

      1. different clue

        Perhaps demonstrations should have a corps of stealth silent members mixed in with the crowd watching out for “masked individuals” working to start a riot or draw police action. Those stealth silent members could be called the “Silent Stealth Peace Corps”. Their mission would be to “knockout game” a masked would-be perpetrator into instant unscosciousness to fast for the masked would-be perp to throw a rock or draw a gun.

        If it turned out the masked perp beaten into instant unconciousness turned out to be a police provocateur, the Silent Stealth Peace Corp could apologize and explain that they thought the perp-wannabe to be a piece of Black Bloc scum. The demonstration spokesfolks could then ask why policement are dressing up as members of the Black Bloc?

        1. hunkerdown

          Bravo! I like the way you think. However, the MSM deftly wield the violence of willful blindness. I encourage you to not assume that your opponent will happily comply with a neat three-move checkmate and try gaming out other likely responses as well, especially as to how they fit in with the master narratives of the MSM, GOP and others.

          1. different clue

            I am too physically afraid and squeamish to be such a Silent PeaceKeeper myself. I merely offer the suggestion as one among many. If executed with extreme speed combined with sufficient physical force to render the target immediately unconscious, it could prevent planted provocateurs from achieving their provocation. The goal really truly would be to stop the planted riot-starters from starting the pre-planned riot.

            How to control “maidan snipers” I have no clear idea.

            1. different clue

              I am not up on current digi-language so I will just guess that streamers means realtime cell-phone candid-camera uploads. If I am wrong, then what are streamers?

              Also it occurred to me that if a demo has a lot of people with a lot of cellphones, bunches of those people can point their cellcam phones at any masked person and scream COP! COP! COP! Whether they are a cop or a black bloccer, they could be somewhat distracted from their immediate task by all the noise and cellcams pointed their way. Perhaps they could even be spray-painted with indelible safety orange paint and also mixtures of butyric acid and putricine for ease-of-tracking later, in case someone wants to track them.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks to our taxes, no one, no Mongols, no Teutons, no Visigoths, will be allowed to conduct regime change or color revolution here, this blessed plot, the earth, this realm, this civilization.

      That’s according to one theory.

  11. valley gurl

    woah DJG,

    just attempting to verify that you don’t consider WIFI recording dolls/toys being marketed to children (of any gender) not old enough to understand how everything they utter is being tracked for nefarious purposes, is a problem.

    (Hint: your adult nieces outcomes have nothing to do with the conversation at hand; as, when they were younger children there were no dolls, or any other mass marketed MATTEL TOYZ, recording near everything they uttered.)

  12. ewmayer

    @Grayslady; By way of a non-antibiotic option for your sinus issues, try homebrewing thusly: 2 parts tapwater (need not be sterilized), 1 part rubbing alcohol (any variety, I use the cheap isopropyl but people who hate the smell can opt for ethanol), then add table salt in a ratio of approximately 1 tsp per quart total liquid (if in doubt, best to err on the high side here), shake to dissolve, refill as needed into nose squirter, use as needed. You should feel a mild stinging – that’s the alcohol doing its job – but quick relief sans any lingering irritation. Works great for me, also as a mildly disinfecting eyewash.

  13. Kris

    Re: “Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens”
    This article confounds economic mobility with wealth inequality – as do so many others on the topic. I think this is punting a very important conversation. For example, there could be a fairly egalitarian society with very low social mobility. On the other hand, a society with significant wealth inequality could conversely have more social mobility. I agree that high social mobility is probably more likely the more egalitarian a society is, but they are not the same thing. The reason this matters is because the only “solution” that arises from this framing – and the only one serious people talk about – is to increase social mobility, whether through education or technology as this article contends. What use is more social mobility if the bottom 50% are still living paycheck to paycheck? Or, play this mind game: imagine that tomorrow every poor person were suddenly educated. Would there suddenly be highly-educated jobs available to them? Clearly, the structure of the economy comes first, and we adjust by modifying the hoops people have to jump through to get to the next level as needed – until we reach a point where the different levels of society self-segregate and differ so much in terms what they can pass on to the next generation (money, worldview, expectations, knowledge, everything) that it becomes essentially self-sustaining, pretty much where we are now. I don’t think it is a mistake that this framing has occurred, but I do think it’s the responsibility of people who write on the subject to keep the real issue front and center.

    1. Sibiriak

      Kris:What use is more social mobility if the bottom 50% are still living paycheck to paycheck? “

      1) If there is social mobility, persons in the “bottom 50%” can have hopes and dreams of ascending to a higher social rung.

      Kris: “…imagine that tomorrow every poor person were suddenly educated. Would there suddenly be highly-educated jobs available to them? Clearly, the structure of the economy comes first…”
      This is a good point, one I often make myself.

      2) If there is social mobility, social position is more likely to be based on individual merit.

      1. hunkerdown

        As determined by the current hegemony. Meritocracy inevitably undoes itself after a few iterations; in fact, one might suggest that’s its very object in governance.

  14. Howard Beale IV

    Be Careful with Freddie deBoer: apply a heaping dose of Dunning-Kreuger when reading his works.

    Or,as the late Master of the Age, Idries Shah states: “He who tastes, knows.”

  15. Michael

    My personal experience of “critique drift” was on the DKos blog borg, where from 2008-2013 (or so), any critique of President Obama whatsoever was called racist, and the Obots would follow you around to other unrelated areas to try to HR your comments to the point where you were auto-banned.

    Kos eventually came around to the non-Obot view (that took a long, long, long time) and laid down the banhammer. It let up. But it’s still a standard critique. Folks, we know what racism looks like. It looks like Ferguson. It doesn’t look like calls for marijuana legalization or a fond wish for bankster prosecutions.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      As the deBoers article says:

      I have occasionally been surprised to meet people who think that I don’t believe, for example, that mansplaining or tone policing are real, or even worse that I don’t think privilege is real. Of course I think those things are real. They’re real and pernicious and have to be accounted for. But I find myself arguing against their particular use in so many instances because they’re often employed in a sloppy, unhelpful, or dishonest way. Worse, ever pointing out that they’ve been employed in a sloppy, unhelpful, or dishonest way is treated as absolutely anathema by a very vocal and influential part of the online left.

      “Sloppy, unhelpful, and dishonest” describes the Obot use of “racist” to a T.

  16. Anon


    As to Laura Kipnis, I’m sorry, I actually misread your initial comment regarding her as being critical of her (hence my first response to you). I have no personal opinion about her myself as this is the first time I’ve ever even heard about her.

  17. Arif Khan

    While this subject can be very touchy for most people, my opinion is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do appreciate that you’ve added relevant and intelligent commentary here though. Thank you!

Comments are closed.