Links 4/25/15

Loose herd of buffalo that crossed NY highway near Albany shot, killed Syracuse (bob) :-(

Calbuco volcano eruption caught on video by a hiker YouTube (Lambert via @isaach)

Scientists see deeper Yellowstone magma Science Daily (Chuck L)

Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish PhysOrg

Pro/Con: Why Google’s Fi Could Be Awesome and Terrible Gizmodo/ They missed a biggie: Google is, by design, the WORST at customer service.

FBI And United Airlines Shoot The Messenger After Security Researcher Discovers Vulnerabilities In Airplane Computer System Techdirt (Chuck L)

Screens Are Wrecking Your Sleep. These Companies Say They Can Help Bloomberg. Lambert: “How meta.”

Brain Cancer Cases Shot Up in This Florida Town—Is a Defense Contractor to Blame? Nation (Adrien). Aiee.

Labour attack NHS ‘private medicine’ levels BBC

Could Britain vote to quit the EU and the US? William Pfaff (Chuck L)


US alarmed by Greek energy alliance with Russia Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. But keep in mind that the government has repeatedly denied that this pact is on (as in is the energy minister authorized to deal?) and Russia has also denied that it will give Greece an advance.

Greece Under Fire From Creditors As Bailout Talks Drag On Associated Press

‘Time Is Running Out’ in Greek Bailout Talks, Says Mario Draghi WSJ Economics

Germany and Greece: a twisted love affair Financial Times


UN: High civilian toll in Yemen conflict; at least 550 dead Associated Press

Stark reality behind CIA drone operations as innocent die Financial Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

German Intelligence Under Fire for NSA Cooperation Der Spiegel

America’s Intelligence Empire Marcy Wheeler

Imperial Collapse Watch

April 1961 versus April 2015 – David Petraeus and the demise of the “warrior” ethos Sic Semper Tyrannis. A must read. (Gabriel also recommends Passions of the Meritocracy Baffler

BART has a new problem: old tracks San Francisco Chronicle

Louisiana State to Draft Insolvency Plan as Jindal Cuts Loom Bloomberg (Joe M)

Trade Traitors

Obama Tries to Make His Bones Again with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ian Welsh. Obama is really losing it! Keep those calls to Congresscritters up!

Obama Escalates Feud With His Fellow Democrats Over Pacific Trade Deal Wall Street Journal

The trade-off Obama missed on trade Washington Post. Lambert” “Abomination.”

No trade breakthrough expected with Japan during Abe visit Associated Press


Seeking Hillary’s Favor: Dyson Attacks Cornel West Glen Ford. Brutal.

Top Clinton Foundation Donor Slams IBTimes & NY Times Investigative Reports International Business Times. The defender is screechy and attempts to deflect rather than address the issues.

Bill Clinton Steps Down As Honorary Chancellor Of World’s Largest For-Profit College Chain BuzzFeed

Chris Christie’s Wife, Mary Pat, Leaves Highly Lucrative Wall Street Job CBS

Obama may move to New York after presidency, insiders say The Secret Service detail is a huge constraint on where he can live. They need a house with enough acreage (to have enough in the way of sight lines). Obama will no doubt retire richer, but Hillary and Bill wound up in Chappaqua because they could not find a property large enough to be made secure closer to NYC. My then attorney had a house in New Rochelle (a close-in commute) with 4 acres (very very large for New Rochelle). Hillary’s broker called her (the attorney wife was from a real estate family and was in charge of all the property wheelings and dealings).

Broker: Hillary is interested in your house.

Lawyer: It’s not for sale. But if you are looking for comps, it would go for at least $2.5 million.

Broker: She can only afford $1.8 million.

Lawyer: I told you it was not for sale. You are wasting your time and I hate the bitch. The more you talk, the more my price goes up.

Lawyer then hangs up. Despite that, Hillary and her broker drive up the driveway the next day (as in they trespass). The nanny and the seven year old son see the pair staring in the front window.

That evening, the son says: “Mommy, we can’t sell the house to them. They are cheats and liars.”

Minnesota declares state of emergency over bird flu in poultry Reuters (EM)

In suit, Blue Shield cites extravagant spending by fired executive Los Angeles Times

U.S. Corporations Spent $1 Trillion in Stock Buybacks Economic Populist

HSBC Considers Leaving U.K. UBS made the same threat and found no country that could credibly backstop them would have them.

Flash crash charges garner increasing skepticism in high-speed world Reuters. The rest of the world is laughing at this case. The coverage in yesterday’s Financial Times was withering.

Class Warfare

The Asshole Factory Medium (Kathlene). A must read.

Antidote du jour (Phil). NC’s first ibis:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. ewmayer

        Eyeballing the problematic URL quickly reveals the missing leading ‘htt’, which one can simply manually prepend, like JoeK did below.

  1. Dikaios Logos

    That Hillary story was quality, THANKS! I think sharing stories of the questionable behavior of the rich and powerful is among the most helpful things concerned citizens can do.

    1. DJG

      Hillary House Hunting: Couldn’t she have had that Nuland terrorist woman threaten to blow up the house, the same way that they are handling events in Ukraine?

    2. Bottom Gun

      Upvote here. The Hillary story made my day.

      I’m a confirmed liberal and lifelong Dem — highly unfashionable for a junior officer in the early 90s, BTW. But I’m actually thinking of voting Republican for the first time. Given the choice between getting stabbed in the back and stabbed in the chest, there is something admirably forthright about the guy who looks you in the face and tells you he’s going to stab you in the chest.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You can do better: vote Green, even if you have to write in your votes. At least you’d be voting FOR something.

        1. Bottom Gun

          Let me take a look at that. What’s necessary to close the sale is not only respect for what the Green candidate says, but evidence to inspire confidence that the Green candidate actually believes what s/he says.

          But it’s certainly more appealing than sitting around my home on Election Day 2016 with a bottle of bourbon and my copy of Nebraska on the MP3 player, which is currently the leading option if it goes to Clinton v. [insert Republican here].

          1. Otter

            You know Clinton and [insert Republican here] don’t believe what they say. Surely even a faint possibility that the Green believes what s/he says is enough to decide.

      2. different clue

        If Webb decides to pursue the DemParty nomination, would you support that? If Webb pursued it and actually won the nomination, would that change your calculation about what to vote for?

        1. Bottom Gun

          I’ve written one check for Webb and am considering more. There were definitely guys I met in the military who blew smoke up various orifices about “honor, courage, commitment.” But I was privileged to know a lot more who walked that walk. I would love to have someone like that in the White House.

  2. Frances

    Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson: re President Obama’s presidency

    “Dyson has resorted to icon assassination because West’s highly visible critique of Obama’s domestic and foreign policy is an embarrassment to the administration, to the Democratic Party as an institution, and to the sycophantic Black Misleadership Class that has been more loyal to Obama than to Black people as a group.”

    I’ve seen Cornel West close up in New York. He was arrested at a peaceful protest against stop & frisk at a Harlem police station and later in court took a guilty verdict. He and Rev. Stephen Phelps, then at The Riverside Church, were on the news actually talking about these issues. They caught the attention of Mayor Bloomberg who saw the need to change those onerous police practices. Michael Eric Dyson wasn’t there. West spoke truth early on about President Obama’s real political and economic agenda. After all, West saw the early signs: he had resigned his teaching position at Harvard in 2001 after a well publicized dispute with then Harvard president, Lawrence Summers, who Obama appointed to head the NEC.

    Courage: that’s what it takes for a prominent black intellectual to strongly criticize the nation’s first black president. Was some of his language intemperate? Yes. Was his anger real? Yes, thank God.

  3. ex-PFC Chuck

    You must continue to solicit links from your cat. It’s obvious that his entrapment behind your bookcase did not affect his eye for snark.

  4. JoeK

    Re the buffalo story, and, in fact many other articles I read online, what’s more demoralizing to me than the sad stories are the comments. We seem to be a society severely lacking in empathy and civility but bursting at the seams with pugnaciousness and vituperation.
    It’s hard to decide which is more dispiriting, the sociopathic disregard of or even fun-poking at the misfortune of other beings, human or not, (see comments 1 and 2 to above story) or the extremely common (passive-) aggressive invalidation of others’ opinions (never mind the often only marginally on-topic and mostly ad hominem spats that end, or point at, the inevitable Hitler comparison–not that I read them, as 95% is unreadable, I just scroll past the more indented comments but note the length of said indentations). NC and some other blogs I visit are truly islands of (at least mostly) civility and intelligence in a vast idio-sea.

    Update: I just tabbed over to the “asshole factory” and read the first two paragraphs… comment

    1. JCC

      I noticed the same regarding the Buffalo story. Just sad in every way.

      As for the story, I’m calling BS on that one. Not that these “factories” don’t exist to some degree, but this particular one seems somewhat exaggerated and makes the story a little suspect. Name the retail establishment that does exactly this level of constant monitoring of floor sales people in retail settings at the level described and I’ll happily retract, but until then I wouldn’t forward this link to my dog.

      Actually, if someone can name the establishment, including proof, I’ll be sure to send the link to everyone, even those I’m only vaguely acquainted with, and to avoid the place like the plague.

      1. JoeK

        After posting my comment I went back and read the whole thing….indeed, sounds a bit hyperbolic. He seems to be more than hinting that it’s Apple, no? I will say, as a 20+ year Mac user, QC and CS both ain’t what they used to be. I had a truly Kafkaesque (ahem) multi-trip repair travail with my MBP a year or so ago, the CS was horrible (one of the techs had actually ruined my logic board doing a minor repair and it took several trips back to get it fixed, at which point a manager chirped “look, in the end you got a new logic board!”). You can’t make this stuff up anymore.

        I’ve heard much more depressing stuff about this company in particular, changes in culture post-Steve (not that it was all rainbow lollipops when he was in charge), but I’m afraid if I share they’ll track me down and sue me for libel :-).

        1. bob

          “the CS was horrible (one of the techs had actually ruined my logic board doing a minor repair and it took several trips back to get it fixed, at which point a manager chirped “look, in the end you got a new logic board!”). You can’t make this stuff up anymore.”

          No, but you can give it an honest label- asshole.

          I continue to wonder how anyone can use “polite” language to describe what is going on. “but you have to be polite, except to the asshole “techs” who broke MY logic board, and the “manager” who did not immediately allow me to whip him raw, and then dared to talk back. I’m a customer asshole, don’t you know!”


          1. JoeK

            I’m not sure what you’re saying here, but if you’re calling me an asshole because, when Apple fixed the loose hinges on my MBP, the tech ruined the logic board, which thankfully one astute manager knew was a possibility, and admitted, but that was after 3 more trips to the “genius” bar where no “genius” made the connection, and then the last manager I talked to when I picked it up had the crust to tell me not to be upset because I got a new logic board (even though they broke it and nearly made me pay for the damage they caused to the tune of $620). So I’m an asshole for that?
            If so, then thanks for being an example supporting my point about the Bison article.

            1. bob

              Yes, for that, and for yelling about it. If you didn’t figure out that I was calling you an asshole, let me make it official, and perfectly clear. You are an asshole! Congratulations!

              You can now hold lowly CS people in contempt for their bosses and owners lies and marketing. Did an IHole sell you a bill of goods? Surely not. Somewhere between the altar of IHoles and the local geniuses, some asshole, somewhere decided that you needed to be punished, and pay for the privilege. Was that asshole you? Well, you spent the money, and seem to have some pretty high expectations, and no shortage of opinions to share.

              Blame steve jobs. Not some “genius” making $12 an hour to listen to an asshole like you tell the how stupid they are. Stockholders? They’d be a better target, but I bet you’re a good iHole, and own some stock in them, right? Start a proxy war, it’d at least set you slightly apart from most the of assholes.

              Why did you need a genius anyway? You had it all figured out, why bother them with it? Did you enjoy the chance to exercise your asshole?

      2. frosty zoom

        well, if it’s not true today, it will be true tomorrow.

        however, the premise of the ever-increasing assholery, i feel, is quite sound.

        don’t you drive?

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        I read the Medium piece and a couple of the other essays posted by that same writer. I don’t believe you’ll find any place like what he described but many places incorporating some combination of the controls described. The piece was satirical — though unfortunately the exaggeration was not great and grows less each year.

        1. norm de plume

          BS maybe, exaggerated for sure, but the contours of reality mean you can’t dismiss the possibility that it’s true out of hand. Maybe it will be more accurate in a few year’s time.

      4. optimader

        mmmm. I go with pure BS.
        First of all, what are the two gradual degrees from the “storied universities” that only netted her a minimum wage retail job?? Either the degrees are BS, or there is an unrelated part of the story about the authors friend.
        Frankly, what retail operation would waste the resources with that level of micromonitoring a sales floor? What’s the point? At the end of the day, literally, either the sales metrics are satisfied or they are not.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Not proof of the retail story but when I was in Alabama over the holidays I went to get my mother’s mail from the mailbox as the post office guy was dropping it off from his little truck. He had to scan a bar code in my mother’s mailbox. I asked what that was about. He said it was to prove he made the deliveries and to monitor his speed on his route.

          1. John Zelnicker

            I live in Mobile and I participate in a program run by IBM track mail transit times for the post office. I get my mail at a post office box and every day I log the mail received on a website using a scanner to record the bar code found at the bottom of the mail piece. Mail comes from all over the country in all sizes of from small envelopes to 10×12 flats. The program has been running for over 15 years. IBM says the post office has greatly improved delivery times over the years, but it can still take 2-3 days for a piece of mail to get to me from an address that is a mile and a half from the branch where my box is.

            About 10 years ago, the post office decided to try to save money by closing the local processing facility on weekends and sending the mail to New Orleans for processing. There was such an uproar from the business community about the additional delay that the post office reversed the decision.

    2. winstonsmith

      Assuming some of the buffalo shooters are from Buffalo and that such people can be called buffalo for their animal behavior, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Albany buffalo.

    3. optimader

      The buffalo story was no too illuminating. We know the location was about 10 miles from the State Capitol (so what?) Do we know if they were processed into food/hide whatever after being shot? – yes/no?

      One looked to be a calf, would that one have been impractical to bring back to the farm?–yes/no?

      “Police say the decision was made after experts agreed tranquilizers would not be effective and no portable corrals could hold the animals.” –> The “expert” told Farmer Jones it was going to cost ~$5,000.00 per animal to tranquilize them, rent a backhoe w/ an operator, pick them up put em on a trucks w/ operators, maybe have a few die from stress and be only fit for rendering, have another backhoe w/ operator at the farm with an operator to unload them so they are not hurt thrashing on a truck, resuscitate them at the farm only to kill them there.
      Farmer Jones made his decision to shoot them when they were at peace i probably the best environment they’ve experienced?
      They were farm animals. I think most people prefer not to think about the backroom when looking at meat under the strechwrap on the foam tray

  5. Inverness

    What’s doubly frightening about the Asshole article is that this mind-numbing, numbers-crunching mentality has invaded American public education. It is getting to the point that even life as a public school teacher doesn’t free you from becoming a drone. Teachers are forced to be less creative with their lesson plans, and must adhere to scripts and test prep, so their supervisor can use a checklist to evaluate him or her.

    All of this malarkey about trying to find the “best and brightest” (time for a moratorium on this expression) is a lie. More and more, what counts is swallowing the latest lies that Pearson, Bill Gates, (who financed the Common Core curriculum which all states are going to have to adhere to) and the educational industrial complex are pushing to enrich themselves.

    Teaching, once one of the most soulful and rewarding of professions, is pushed to produce number crushing assholes too. If you can’t yell at a child who won’t succeed, you have no place in the Brave New World of public-funded charters. You learn to compete against your colleagues for merit pay, instead of collaborating to produce a enriched curriculum appropriate to your community and student body.

    Eva Moskovitz’s charter chain, Success Academy, permits child neglect and harassment in their quest for better test scores. Students learn that what matters are test scores, you are your test score, which might even be published on the hall walls. (Low-scoring students at Success are publicly shamed for being in the “Red Zone.”) Children have wet their pants, rather than take the time to urinate during mandated state exams.

    What will happen when these kids grow up? Will they value poetry, kindness, have developed empathy for others? Why, when we are pushing them, too, to become number-worshipping assholes?

    1. Ned Ludd

      What is the economic value in poetry, kindness, and empathy for others? Rational actors do not waste their time on such distractions.

      [W]e are pushing them, too, to become number-worshiping assholes?

      Number-worshiping assholes are educating students to become number-worshiping assholes – who are just like them! “We” may oppose this, but we are too weak – without collective organization – to mount a successful opposition.

      1. norm de plume

        ‘What is the economic value in poetry, kindness, and empathy for others?’

        I don’t know, but if they ever find any it will undergo the process of capitalisation described by Nitzan and Bichler in a quote Lambert includes in ‘TPP: Toward Absolute Capitalism’:

        ‘Capitalization is the algorithm that generates and organizes prices. What exactly is capitalization? We have mentioned the term several times in the book, and it is now time to examine it more closely. Most generally, capitalization represents the present value of a future stream of earnings: it tells us how much a capitalist would be prepared to pay now to receive a flow of money later.

        By the 1950s, capitalization was finally established as the heart of the capitalist nomos, engraved on both sides of the balance sheet. On the asset side, net present value became the practice of choice in capital budgeting to allocate corporate resources. Meanwhile, on the liabilities side, the invention of portfolio selection theory by Harry Markowitz (1952) and of the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) by William Sharpe (1964) and John Lintner (1965) bureaucratized the concept of risk and in so doing helped formalize the calculus of financial investment….

        And, so, finally the floodgates were open. Nowadays, every expected income stream is a fair candidate for capitalization. And since income streams are generated by social entities, processes, organizations and institutions, we end up with the ‘capitalization of every thing’.

        So let’s for God’s sake NOT try and find any economic value in those precious things…

    2. Jef

      “Asshole factory” great rant! One that I have delivered, in essence, many times over the last 10-20 years and have been derided for over and over.

      It might seem extreme, over the top, hyperbole but it actually isn’t. I just had lunch with a 30 something couple, both with multiple degrees, both with “jobs” and they both said that they didn’t know anyone with a degree working in their field. Even phd’s were just working retail or not at all. Chris was telling a story about a marketer who has been calling him about a product he has been looking into and because he has not committed and is a bit undecided, the marketer has started to get very abusive. Then it occurred to him, “hey you called me, you can’t start giving me shit” and the marketer called him names and told him to “put up or just hang the fu@k up”.

      Where the article looses it is in saying the solution is to not be an asshole. So you are a college grad with a degree and the debt with no prospects and you should tell your employer to “take this job and shove it”. Great advice….from someone with a job where you get paid to rant like that.

      1. Inverness

        Jef: “Where the article loses it is in saying the solution is to not be an asshole. So you are a college grad with a degree and the debt with no prospects and you should tell your employer to “take this job and shove it”. Valid point! The point of our current economy is that you have no choices — brilliant! You want to keep working? Suck it up, eat dirt, deal with it. What a prosaic existence.

      2. Brindle

        Once inside “the store” both employees and customers are subjected to a constant bombardment of psychologically designed constructions/communications whose goal is to decrease and minimize the capacity for independent individual autonomy. The customer faces an onslaught of “hello”, “hi”, “how are you”—but the there has been no eye contact between the customer and employee. The employee is required to address any customer within talking distance with some kind of pleasantry—phony to the core, but “the store” funded research has shown that both employees and customers can have their nervous systems re-wired to enable increased sales.

        —“It’s bananas. The whole scene is like a maximum-security mental asylum designed by sadomasochists in a sci-fi movie. If Jeffrey Dahmer, Rasputin, and Michael Bay designed a “store” together, they couldn’t do any better. Her “job” will begin to drive her crazy—paranoid, depressed, deluded—in a matter of years if she continues doing it. No human psyche can bear that kind of relentless, systematic abuse.”—

        1. different clue

          Do her parents understand what large parts of American society have been carefully re-engineered to be now? Does the author of the article understand that “don’t be an asshole” is a mocking taunt for most people in today’s economy? The only way this “Mara” can not-be-an-asshole is if her parents let her live with them for free until she can find a non-asshole job. It may take her years.

      3. different clue

        Dealing with a telemarketing phone-jockey on its own terms can be great fun, though. Hopefully if someone said that to me over the phone I would have the presence of mind to say “no. YOU hang the fuck up.” And take it from there.

    3. TedWa

      Neo-Liberalism at it’s finest. All that matters is markets and all that matters to markets (the top 10%) is that we all become cogs in the wheel to continue the ponzi and charade forever, or at least until they take us back to pre-19th century European values – which is where the psychology of the Federal Reserve originated. When it all comes down to it – It’s all the FR knows. When power becomes absolute power, it somehow drives those it effects into sadistic “innovations”, I would guess, either consciously or unconsciously, to protect their positions and power. I’ve had neither so I don”t know and can only report on what I observe. They obviously would rather have puppets and/or servants/serfs than real people. Real people see through them and can hold up a mirror to these elites so they can see just how ugly they’ve become – and that is something they truly fear.
      Just musings here is all. The simplest solutions are usually the correct course but those solutions are too simple for the “innovative”.

      How in the hell does Mara ever put up with that without going insane??!!! I can see going postal taking on a whole new meaning in this fearful new world, maybe domestic terrorist? Whatever it takes to protect the corporations and hide their crimes and to keep us all greased and willing cogs in the wheel. Depressing isn’t it.

      1. J. Bookly

        I’d prefer not to reward this act by shopping at places that do this. So . . . do all big box stores do this? Is there one that doesn’t? Should I assume that any store where employees wear a headset is a store that is managed this way? Sorry to be the voice of naivete, but I really don’t know much about this. If nobody shopped at AssholeMart, wouldn’t they go out of business?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is a VERY good question and one where people organizing to publicize which stores don’t manage their staff like this to encourage shoppers to go there would be a plus. We could help if anyone could make a good starters list by posting on this issue.

          1. Elliot

            Amazon and other catalog firms use similar setups on the packing lines in their warehouses (documented on Democracy Now I think, a year or so ago, and by people I knew who worked at another, now defunct mail order firm.

            It’s dehumanizing and horridly stressful. And you lose your unemployment if you quite a hideous job only because it is hideous, so you’re stuck.

            Similarly weird is the wifi & bluetooth in and near-store tracking done by nomi, including in-store facial recognition recording of customers (and, one assumes, workers), sold to increase sales by doing brick and mortar analytics in real time, only with video playback.

        2. Oregoncharles

          You might look for the parasite embedded in the clerks’ ears – want to make sure it isn’t a hearing aid, of course.
          I believe Costco (?) has a better reputation as far as dealing with employees, but their business model is gigantism, so it’s a tradeoff.
          We have 2 (!) regional chains, Winco and Bi-Mart, that are worker owned. Something to look for.

      2. norm de plume

        ‘How in the hell does Mara ever put up with that without going insane??!!! I can see going postal taking on a whole new meaning in this fearful new world, maybe domestic terrorist? ‘

        Reminds me of the story in Jacobin (probably linked here) about the employment environment background to the Germanwings co-pilot’s fateful decision, and why he might have been depressed:

        ‘It is unclear how much Lubitz was aware of or affected by any of the foregoing. What is clear is that he lived in this social context — characterized by weak or non-existent unions, poor working conditions, and rock-bottom morale — and became socially alienated to a pathological level’

  6. rowlf

    The airplane hack story is more sensationalism than substance. While the aircraft Wi-Fi system was accessible, it is separate from the aircraft systems, using the flight management system data bus out for flight (altitude, position, station) information and the warning system (EICAS) discrete for warning display (Wi-Fi off). Neither aircraft system will receive commands on those circuits shared by the Wi-Fi. If you care to argue otherwise, provide a schematic reference.

    As always, I wonder if journalists can’t research an aviation story where there is reference material available, how accurate are they on any other stories they write?

    1. Jack

      Journalists are too busy arguing about which style guide to use to bother with petty things like research. Thus anything that isn’t a pistol or shotgun is a ‘machine gun’. And any Kalashnikov is an AK-47, a model that hasn’t been manufactured since the 1950s.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall the link to an airplane hack story earlier in the week. That earlier story referred to a GAO Report that came out this month: “Air Traffic Control, FAA Needs a More Comprehensive Approach to Address Cybersecurity As Agency Transitions to NextGen,” GAO 15-370. If you look at page 23 of that report, there is a diagram showing the IP connectivity inside an aircraft. That diagram appears to show the in-flight entertainment system tied with the cockpit avionics separated by a firewall and “cybersecurity controls.”

      I have no idea whether this diagram is accurate or not. I didn’t read the GAO Report so this diagram may show a future design. The NextGen network architecture on page 9 shows a enterprise network of IP connected FAA facilities, apparently riding the Internet. The NextGen network adds a lot of new paths to the aircraft which could in theory serve as points of entry for spoofing aircraft control systems. Furthermore when capabilities are available via an enterprise service there is a strong tendency to save money by not providing those capabilities on the aircraft, making the aircraft a less robust system and removing aircraft on-board data sources which might contradict spoofed data.

      As I recall, the earlier story also linked to a BlackHat paper or presentation reporting on an airplane hack. I didn’t chase that link down and cannot speak to its content.

      1. rowlf

        The diagram and description at is bogus as far as an airliner system goes. The paper may be relevant for FAA systems security and for scaring money from Congress. The Wi-Fi piggybacks onto the aircraft systems to receive data only. Perhaps the writers mistook the post Swissair SR111 flight deck passenger entertainment system O-F-F switch for a cybersecurity firewall?

        What a lot of these stories leave out is the difficulties in getting the avionics systems in the airplane to communicate with each other during design development and in service. These are the designers having problems. An outsider is expected to trick the system while staying within the ranges the aircraft computers, the monitoring pilots and the air traffic control system will accept?

        1. norm de plume

          So you say it’s impossible, is that right? Difficulties, eh? Insurmountable, or not?

          If they could be surmounted, who could achieve that surmounting?

          There are lots of truther sites that can tell you about SPC for example being able to remote control aircraft from the late 90s. I find it hard to believe it couldn’t be done, and if confirmed it would explain some recent aviation puzzles don’t you think?

          From the linked article:

          ‘The government should be thanking its lucky stars that a benevolent force such as Chris Roberts was the one who found this exploit, rather than someone who might actually wish to do harm’

          Maybe someone already has. I hope Mr Roberts hasn’t ruined his prospects of promotion, at the very least.

          (takes tinfoil hat off..)

  7. Pat

    I realize this is extremely shallow of me, but hasn’t NY suffered enough?
    I mean we have the Clintons and Andy Cuomo, not to mention most of the Masters of the Wall Street universe. Must we have the Obamas, too. Let them go help in the continued destruction of Chicago.

    1. DJG

      I think that Obama himself has been sending off signals for years that he doesn’t care where he ends up. He lacks roots. You’d think that Hawaii might be of interest, but it is too far from the centers of power. If they truly have to have an estate with acreage, they can always try Lake Forest or Glencoe on Chicago’s North Shore.

      On the other hand, I have a feeling that Michelle Obama may be the Decider here. She’s sacrificed a career, her privacy, and her mother (who is there to mind the kids). He owes her a favor. And she’s Chicago through and through.

      1. optimader

        She’s sacrificed a career, her privacy, and her mother (who is there to mind the kids). He owes her a favor. And she’s Chicago through and through.

        You may perceive Michelle’s generally surly presentation as an artifact of someone who has “sacrificed a career” but she has been nothing more than a highly remunerated public sector parasite. So what is the sacrifice? Am I missing something?

        How has she sacrificed her mother? By her having to endure living in the WH on the public dime? I don’t understand.

        1. cwaltz

          She was an administrator at a hospital before he went to the Senate(who was promoted when he became a Senator) so perhaps that is what the poster is talking about.

          1. optimader

            Come on, don’t suggest she was a was Hospital Administrator, that implies real work …She was grifting fairly serious public sector patronage money out of the UofC MC.
            It was such an important job they didn’t replace her when she went under the magnifying glass locally, oh ahmm.. make that when she decided to “sacrifice her career” to help BHO run for POTUS.
            To be clear, I really don’t have a problem w/ people being well compensated when they are adding value, but in this case it was classic high level Chicago patronage parasitism.

            On Jan. 9, 2009, the University of Chicago Medical Center officially announced that Michelle Obama had resigned from her post as vice president for community and external affairs to join her husband, then-President-elect Barack Obama, in the White House as the new first lady of the United States.

            Michelle Obama had been promoted in 2005 to vice president for community and external affairs after three years as the executive director for community affairs. It’s true, as the e-mail (and National Review column) says, that she received a sizable pay raise that year. She went from earning $121,910 in 2004 as an executive director at the hospital to making $316,962

            Lastly, the column questioned the hospital’s decision not to fill the position vacated by the first lady, asking: “How can that be, if the work she did was vital enough to be worth $317,000?” It’s true that after her departure, the hospital did not fill the position of vice president for community and external affairs. But the column doesn’t mention that she had reduced her work schedule to part time well before she left and wasn’t making that much money when she officially resigned. Easton told us that “the responsibilities related to that position have been absorbed by those in other roles.” Dr. James Madara, CEO of the Medical Center, announced that the Office of Community and External Affairs would be “reorganized” under Dr. Eric Whitaker, executive vice president for strategic affiliations, according to a hospital press release

            1. cwaltz

              I’m aware her husband’s position earned her a promotion. However, I stand by my position that she HAS been giving up her opportunity to have a career even if that career was as a director in a hospital.

    2. buffalo cyclist

      I suspect he’ll stay in the most fashionable sections of Manhattan, like the Upper East Side, where he can socialize with other 1%ers. Obama will seldom, if ever, venture to the outer boroughs or Long Island. And, upstate and Jersey will never have to worry about seeing him.

      1. norm de plume

        A phone conversation in the Upper East Side in a few years:

        First 1%er: I have had them over 3 times this year! It’s your turn!

        Second 1%er: Well I’ve had them twice myself… what about (Third 1%er), he got more out of the man than the two of us combined and he’s not invited them to anything ever!

        First 1%er: Well, he’s 0000.1%, he pulls rank.

        Second 1%er: (sigh) the things we do…

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        1. No coop will approve him (coops generally nix celebrities of any kind so it is not personal), but he could buy a condo

        2. However, based on the broker conversation re Hillary’s needs with my lawyer buddy about her four acres, the Secret Service detail needs serious sight lines to do its job. I doubt they would approve an apartment. Even a townhouse would be hard for them to secure adequately.

  8. Ellen Shaffer

    How can I convey critical commentary by the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
    on this site, such as CPATH is an independent organization that has been involved for many years in bringing a public health voice to debates on trade and sustainable development through research, policy analysis, and advocacy. [Fast Track and the TPP] confer new and expanded rights to transnational corporations to protect their profits over the rights of democratically elected governments and the public…Not one objective would safeguard or improve the economic well-being of the American middle class. Rather, they prioritize commercial gain at the expense of people’s health, including access to affordable medicine, protection from deadly tobacco products, and democratic sovereignty to make decisions to safeguard and improve our health. A more appropriate title would be: Bargaining to Concentrate the Power and Wealth of Global Corporations Including Finance, Drugs, Tobacco, Fossil Fuel, Agribusiness, Media and Information Technology; to Entrench and Deepen Income Inequality; and to Progressively Reduce the Rights and Policy Space of People and Democratically Elected Public Officials and Governments.

  9. diptherio

    Re: The trade-off Obama missed on trade -WaPo

    Moving in generally the right direction, but still way off on the overall message:

    Now, more than 20 years after NAFTA and 14 years after China joined the World Trade Organization, there is no real question among economists that expanding trade has been good for the world and has helped reduce poverty. It has also unquestionably been good for U.S. corporations as they grow their global reach. But there is equally no doubt that trade liberalization has hurt low-skill manufacturing workers and aggravated income inequality, which is now at its worst since the 1920s.

    Of course trade-liberalization has aggravated income inequality–that was the point all along! It’s called “factor price equalization” in econospeak (if I’m remembering my econospeak correctly). It means, among other things, that wages across trading partners will tend to equalize, lowering wages in the high-wage country and increasing them in the low-wage country. Of course, it’s not a one-to-one correlation: a dollar less spent on wages in the US can be replaced with a nickle’s worth of wages in South East Asia, leaving 95 cents left over for the shareholders and C-suite bozos.

    And, because capital is free to go where it pleases but labor is not, capitalists can move their money to wherever has the current highest returns/lowest wages/most lax regulations, but us laborers are forced to stay put and deal with whatever the returns to labor happen to be where we live. So more income inequality…duh.

    “Free” Trade is good for some and bad for others, even according to mainstream theory. Free trade will tend to be good for “first world” capitalists and “third world” workers…but more for the capitalists than for the workers–anyone who says it can be good for everyone is either being disingenuous or they haven’t bothered to actually consider the implications of their own theories. It’s much like how the Federal Reserve is said to be “fighting inflation” when they raise interest rates (back when they did that sort of thing), but not mentioning that wage inflation is what they are mainly concerned with. But, of course, no Fed chair is going to come out and say, “According to our theories, there is an inverse relationship between interest rates and employment levels, so we’re going to raise rates to try to lower employment.”

    1. diptherio

      Adding, corporations are legal fictions, not real beings–nothing can be good or bad for a corporation, just good or bad for individual people within that corporation.

      [Expanded trade] has also unquestionably been good for U.S. corporations as they grow their global reach.

      Once again, expanded trade has been bad for the workers in US corporations and good for the shareholders and upper-management of US corporations. It is utterly meaningless to say it’s been “good for U.S. corporations.”

    2. different clue

      Free Trade has caused the hyper-speedup of carbon skydumping. How is that good for the world in general?
      Whoever wrote that article needs to buy seafront property in Florida and eat more pacific tuna.

      1. rich

        Rights of the Privileged Corporate Sector Enshrined in Trade Deals

        Every asset, capital, expectation of profit, assumption of risk. It takes very little imagination to see how far this might go.

        The Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein speaks frequently of his firm’s ability to achieve 30% annual returns on investment. This number is gamed by not including Carlyle’s failures or by rolling them up before their annual anniversary. as Carlyle recently did with two mutual funds. Yet, it clearly is Carlyle’s marketing spiel to investors.

        What happens if a government action, based on the legal framework of local citizens and their elected leaders, negatively impacts Carlyle’s investment? Can Carlyle can take that to arbitration based on an unfulfilled expectation of profit?

        America walks back in time to the Magna Carta, a treatise from forty barons.

        Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. It is concerned with many practical matters and specific grievances relevant to the feudal system under which they lived. The interests of the common man were hardly apparent in the minds of the men who brokered the agreement.

        President Obama’s trade deals are on behalf of 21st century robber barons to protect their rights of commerce and profit against constitutional governments. The interests of the common man are hardly apparent if the common man has no right to see or view the deal.

        Will members of Congress and the President violate their oath of office in approving trade deals that make the U.S. Constitution irrelevant? It appears to be a bipartisan effort, fully supported by America’s two royal families, Bush and Clinton. Even Prince Charles visited the U.S. recently to talk about a new Magna Carta for the world.
        It appears we have it in Obama’s secret trade agreements. .

  10. jjmacjohnson

    Your attorney seems rather nasty. “Bitch”, not vey nice indeed. An angry person.

    1. Jess

      It would suggest to me that anyone who can’t get angry at the Clinton’s has some deep-seated problems with the concepts of honesty, integrity, and how a democracy is supposed to function.

    2. Marianne Jones

      As a rule, if somebody calls me a bitch or drops the c-bomb, I thank them for the compliment.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      She is a superb negotiator and lawyer and has been a generous friend. You are way off base. And you also misunderstand courtesy in New York. We regard not wasting people’s time as a form of kindness. The broker was pushy and politer messages were not cutting through her delusion that she could talk the attorney into selling a house she had no interest in selling at a way below market price….because the Clintons! The broker was rude and you are defending her? She was asking to be dressed down.

      Nice is highly overrated in our culture. As that immortal philosopher Stephen Sondheim said in Into the Woods, “Nice is not the same as good.”

  11. DJG

    From the Ian Walsh article:
    “What I am averse to is a bunch of ad hominem attacks and misinformation that stirs up the base but ultimately doesn’t serve them well. And I’m going to be pushing back very hard if I keep hearing that stuff,” Obama told a small group of reporters on the call.

    For all of the eleven-dimensional chess, the man is mainly just plain peevish when thwarted at playing the philosopher king. He hasn’t reached Nixonian levels of peevishness. Yet. And we wouldn’t want anyone “stirring up the base” that the Democratic leadership has such contempt for.

    So I sent letters to my senators and representative about these nasty draft treaties. I recommend using the post office, since Congress is so thoroughly complicit in destroying that great institution.

    1. buffalo cyclist

      Actually, I wish Obama was more like Nixon. Nixon, for instance, had a very good environmental record, which is a far cry from the record of President Hydrofracking.

        1. optimader

          Sentiment granted, but don’t over anthropomorphise Nixon. He was his own sort of creature.

          Maybe the difference is Nixon wanted to document his legacy, BHO I feel has proven to be a guy more living in the moment, interested in self aggrandizement while dragging the leafy branch behind himself.
          In other words, Yeah BHO would burn the tapes in a heartbeat, but he would have never recorded the evidence to begin with

          As for Nixon, he may or a moment, but in the end he told Haldeman to destroy the tapes, but Haldeman didn’t do it.

          President Nixon and Bob Haldeman, April 18, 1973
          President Nixon: I’d like for you to take all these tapes, if you wouldn’t mind. In other words . . .
          Haldeman: Yeah.
          President Nixon: I’d like to–there’s some material in there that’s probably worth keeping.
          Haldeman: Yeah.
          President Nixon: Most of it is worth destroying. Would you like–would you do that?
          Haldeman: Sure.

          In his own words:

        2. Paul Tioxon

          Your Barry Obama bile machine is going overtime. Nixon didn’t want tapes destroyed because it was in his mind a future tax deduction. Nixon was so bad, you will never hear the end of it from me if you insist on ridiculous comparison of any president, much less Obama, with Dick Nixon. Nixon wanted so desperately to donate to his presidential library his presidential papers and tapes which up until he got into office, were regularly appraised for a dollar value then donated as private property to the public presidential libraries. Unfortunately for Nixon, the courts did not see his presidential material as his personal property but the property of the office of the president which he happened to occupy by virtue of being placed there by election. Congress was tired of this as well and passed a law disallowing presidents from donating obvious public property to a library with tax exempt status. Nixon signed the bill into law and then, amazingly enough, proceeded to cheat on his personal income tax by taking the very same papers he signed into law as president as an illegal tax deduction. The man who did his taxes for him was tried and convicted and went to jail, but of course, Nixon had a free pass and the mother fucker certainly needed for all of his crimes which were so many that newspapers and magazines could create an industry of corrupt political reports for a decade due to him and the republican party. Nixon wanted the tax deduction because of the payday from corporate America he had while on hiatus, like his Pepsi Cola speech in Dallas Texas the day Kennedy was killed there.

          As smart as you and Yves are about Wall St finance, banking and economics you paid the price of many specialists in not knowing other areas. Some of it simply my age, since a lot of this transpired as grew up and read about it each and everyday in the newspapers I delivered for 6 years through high school. But for everyone sake, especially all of the embittered republicans out there who want democrats scalp to even things up for Nixon’s forced retirement, try to read some history about Nixon before you drop the “he’s as bad as, no he’s much worse than Nixon” meme.

          1. optimader

            Nixon didn’t want tapes destroyed

            Initially yes perhaps, in the end Wrong,

            Haldeman did not execute Nixon’s instruction when Nixon realized he had implicated himself.

            1. different clue

              Nixon inspired part of a generation to revolt and rebel. Obama has destroyed all hope of hope for generations to come.

      1. twonine

        From Chris Hedges on Nixon.

        The question is: how do you make the power elite frightened of you? Who was the last liberal president we had? It was Richard Nixon–not because he was a liberal, but because he was frightened of movements. And there’s a scene–I think it’s in Kissinger’s memoirs, 1971, huge antiwar demonstration surrounding the White House, and Nixon has put empty buses, city buses end-to-end as a kind of barricade, and he’s standing at the window wringing his hands, going, Henry, they’re going to break through the barricades and get us. And that’s just where you want power, people in power to be.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Nixon also instituted revenue sharing, which Reagan undid. That was a really great innovation and it was too bad it did not survive.

    2. Jack

      “philosopher king.”

      Jesus, is that how Obama really sees himself, do you think? That’s horrifying.

    1. different clue

      I would expect two mass responses. 1: Niche markets will arise for strictly analog cars. 2: People who cannot avoid digitized car-puters will lease their car-puters rather than “buy” them, if “buying” no longer confers ownership.

  12. buffalo cyclist

    The huge speaking fees Obama will earn from Corporate America as a thank you for passing TPP will provide him with the income stream to buy whichever house he so desires.

    1. TedWa

      He bailed out the banksters and placed them all above the law. Yes, it was him. Bush wanted strings attached to any bailouts but Obama insisted on absolutely no strings attached. That alone should provide him a wealthy beyond your dreams retirement. So why does he want these trade agreements so badly? He doesn’t like us is my best guess. …and he’s a psycho that doesn’t see an end for his con or his vanity.

      1. different clue

        Yes. He is a spiteful and vengeful pathotoxic narcissist. But he also wants the separate whole-other banker-sized payout he will get if he can achieve his Obamatrade Pacts.

        For psychological reasons he wants to get richer than the Clintons while they are still alive so he can sneer down at them from atop a taller pile of money.

        If “Wee Thuh Peepul” could somehow deny him his Obamatrade pacts, it would hurt him emotionally. It would be the sweetest revenge we could take upon him, since we have no power to affect his money and power otherwise.

        1. TedWa

          I’m staying in touch with my Senators and Reps on this abomination, almost daily. It would be sweet wouldn’t it, to thwart the would-be king and watch him fume and have a hissy fit.

  13. buffalo cyclist

    Obama’s outburst over progressive and Democratic skepticism of TPP is nothing short of nauseating in its utter dishonesty and self righteousness.

    First, Obama says people who are criticizing don’t what know what they are talking about. Of course they don’t, because only heads of multinational corporations have seen the proposed TPP text, which is why many people are so critical.

    He completely mischaracterizes the criticism of TPP, saying critics only talk about NAFTA, when in fact people have talked about very specific parts of the leaked text (ie: the tribunals and IP provisions).

    Third, despite being a former constitutional law professor, he seems completely unaware that fast track is unconstitutional given the constitutional requirement that treaties (and TPP, a proposed agreement with other nations that sets up international tribunals to resolve disputes, is definitely a treaty) be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and not a majority vote of both houses of Congress. Instead, opponents of fast track are portrayed as ignorant neanderthals when its the proponents who are ignorant and/or dishonest.

    Obama must be nervous that TPP might not pass and that, as a result, he might not be able to command huge speaking fees.

    1. TedWa

      They keep calling it what it isn’t – a free trade agreement. Only about 5% of the TPP is actually about trade, the rest is a corporate/mafiosa protection racket being run on the world. We nearly destroyed the worlds economy in 2007-08, why would any country think things have changed? The chaos and ruin will continue with fast track

    2. CB

      As far as I can research, he was a intro course instructor, never a professor. But what’s a little inflation among (cough) friends.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Lambert, if you actually “check the website” (by the way, I did that in 2008, and tried to point out what it actually had to say, in 2008, on particularly the Improvement To Health Insurance Profitability Act in posse, to people at “progressive places” like dailykos, and was told to “Go. Away. This site is for Grownups.”) you find these two articles:

        “The Trans-Pacific Partnership:What you need to know about the most progressive trade agreement in history,” , and “Chart of the Week: How The TPP Improves On NAFTA,”, under the heading and opening paragraphs as follows,

        “Chart of the Week: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Improves on NAFTA
        Greg Nelson
        April 23, 2015
        04:48 PM EDT
        Share This Post

        President Obama is the first to say it: Past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.

        Coming from Illinois, he saw first-hand how trade could devastate small-town communities as manufacturers moved overseas in search of lower wages. Previous trade deals like NAFTA also failed to put in place tough labor and environmental standards, leaving American workers to fight an uphill battle on an uneven playing field.

        That’s why the President is working with Congress to secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s the best opportunity we have to level that playing field and engrain (sic? or not?) American values in a trade agreement that will put American workers first….

        “working with Congress to upgrade our existing trade deals with one that reflects American values. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen.”

        “To help deliver the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the President is also asking Congress to work together to pass bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority which will help guarantee that America speaks with one voice on trade priorities like protecting our workers and environment.”

        “The TPP helps preserve a free and open internet for American businesses…

        The fu__kers post the bullet points in image form so it’s not easy for me to cut and paste and I am a lousy typist, so since I am already terminally depressed by the shit these bastards are getting away with and trying to sell like it’s roses and lollypops, I’ll leave it to younger and more “agile” people to go through this steaming pile and pull out the salient points of fraud and the reality that this is shit being pushed in our faces, Obamashit.

        One more– the asshats dare to say this is the most transparent process ever, with “stakeholders” not including the public fully “invited to provide input,” including those left out of previous invitations (not “participation,” a different word isn’t it? Look at the list of groups who Obama claims, THIS TIME, he is “bringing to the table to help negotiate the most progressive trade deal ever:” Labor unions, environmental groups, faith organizations (!), public health advocates, consumer health advocates, local and state officials, farmers, ranchers, small businesses.. Look real close at what input these people have, who they are, how they were selected from among those most likely to go along to get along. “Ordinary people” in there anywhere? Nope. They are not “stakeholders,” which if you read it close, are just really corporate interests.

        Anyone who reads this shit, and still believes Obama and his crew are anything but deadly to whatever it was that ordinary people found pleasant or attractive or enough to stimulate that violent patriotic response, well, I was going to say they deserve what they get but first that is not very nice, very Golden-Rule-y, and second, these dead-weight dead-enders share a lifeboat with me and my family. The evil is so very deep, and apparently so very seductive…

        I picked up these two links, by the way, from an Obamabot’s comment to the effing WaPo’s recent article on where it stands — the ‘bot’s terse attack on critics was that they haven’t even read the stuff that lays out in stultifying detail “what is in the agreements.” I read it — clearly not what it’s advertized to be,not in any way, shape or form.

        By the way, I was a “sales associate” and assistant store manager for West Marine, a corp that went from quality products and customer service and ethics to that other thing. And yes, they micromanaged people on the sales floor, and pretty quickly got rid of all us older people who actually knew something about boating and gear. And polluted what had been a good brand by slapping it on cheap Chinese crap that failed quickly. I pointed this out to a headquarters type, that people would get pissed that the rechargeable spotlight they just bought failed after a weekend’s use and bring it back for a refund. “So what?” he said. “We’ll have the use of their money from the time they buy that junk until the refund gets processed through their credit card company. And not everybody will even want a refund! Win-Win!”

        We ordinary people are well and truly screwed. The pot is on the fire and the cooks are paying no attention to how hot the stew is getting…

      2. cwaltz

        Even if they were to “post” it how in the world would I trust that it was the actual agreement and it would not be something different agreed upon behind closed doors. It isn’t like everyone doesn’t have the health care debacle to draw upon where Congress ran interference while the President met with the insurance industry behind closed doors and negotiated away any type of government option that might hold the industry in check.

  14. words

    Re the Asshole Factory:

    Read it yesterday and loved it!

    I witnessed something very similar, at an Office Depot in Silicon Valley, over five years ago. The store was clearly highly understaffed and many (can’t remember whether it was all) had ear plugs and were communicating with some unseen entity/person to the extent where I initially thought a sales person was talking to me (Because They Were Looking At Me) – though they were actually carrying on a conversation which had nothing to do with my specific purchase – with an unseen entity/person.

    I had written a check for over $100 worth of goods (with more than enough account balance and no bounced checks ever). First the VeriFone type auto check cash apparatus ate my check and couldn’t confirm payment, I wrote another check, and was ultimately tied up for an hour at the cash register, none of which had to do with me, before finally leaving with my purchases. I haven’t purchased at another Office Depot since.

    It’s high time that the Psychic Damage, …Damage to one’s soul, or whatever one wants to describe it as, being done, solely for profit and power with no concern for the harm done to human beings – who are undeniably social animals who rely on one another – is acknowledged as the deadly harm which it actually is.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Although profit is often asserted as the motive for the kinds of control described in Asshole Factory I think the second of the two motives you identify, power, is the truer motive.

      A comment above suggests identifying the businesses that DO NOT practice these dehumanizing controls and avoid those that do. Given the degree of consolidation of retail outlets, particularly in some of our smaller cities and towns, that could prove very difficult. Your example mentions Office Depot. Where else do you go to buy office supplies? Staples? an Amazon vendor? Do you try to locate an independent Internet vendor? Although some independent storefront businesses still exist, they are few and growing fewer. The tactic of taking business elsewhere is increasingly defeated by the continuing market consolidation and the spread of neoliberal ideology. Where do we go when there is no elsewhere to go to.

      And the independent storefront businesses may be little better than the big stores — only less evidently micro-controlled. I enjoy the 1940 movie “The Shop Around the Corner,” and watch it every Christmastime. The shop around the corner is a small enterprise owned by a Mr. Matuschek whose every whim is catered to by his fawning staff. He is a benevolent dictator, whose heart is made of gold, but focus on the very real fear each member of his staff has about losing their job.

      There is something far more objectionable about the Asshole Factory controls though. The same control based on fear is there. There is no Mr. Matuschek. He’s been replaced by a system of “machine-based” control. This system has no heart.

      In the end both forms of control are based on fear of losing a job — a fear guaranteed by our present economic system. That fear is the heart of the problem.

  15. throwaway

    Complete breakdown, indeed!:

    “”He is completely isolated,” a senior euro zone official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “He didn’t even come to the dinner to represent his country,” the official said of the event where ministers, serenaded by a Latvian choir, ate salmon and sea bass.”

    “According to people present in the room, several ministers rolled their eyes, closed their eyes or put their hands over their ears during Varoufakis’ interventions at Friday’s meeting.”

    1. Demeter

      I sympathize with Minister Yanis, because I am enduring the same kind of public shunning on a smaller scale, and for no discernible reason–except power-grabbing by a fellow board member whose previous incompetence in office is already surpassed this time around in one year.

      Is it the fate of Those who Make Change Happen, to be thwarted by those adamantly opposed to change (even when it would be to their benefit?) Even if it costs nothing? Makes for the greater good?

      It’s a form of mental illness or character defect or both: the craving to control the driving, even when blind, drunk, and lost.

  16. words

    The bottom line, the way I took it from the Asshole Factory piece, is that Highly Meaningful and Ultimately Life Sustaining … one on one human contact – one on one contact which generally encompasses simultaneous (at least five human senses usually operating at one time: sight; sound; smell; touch; and ‘gut’ intangible reaction): sight; sound/timbre; smell; touch; taste; and ‘gut’ intangible reaction (sans “rare earths” machinery) – appears to be in the process of being deliberately destroyed by a teeny and horrid handful of billionaires.

    Perhaps when some are forced to subject the cats and dog PETS they adore to FORCED 24/7 machinery connection and VALIDATION, in order for those beloved cats and dogs to stay alive, something will be done to address this horror? At which point, it will be far, far too late.

    (Nothing whatsoever against cats and dogs, I’ve lived with and loved them my whole life (along with a grey squirrel (oh my! ;0) …), bunnies, birds, fish, toads, frogs, etcetera, until a few years ago, when my very, very, beloved cat companion died; that is not the point at all (for those who insisted on missing the point).)

    1. norm de plume

      ‘Perhaps when some are forced to subject the cats and dog PETS they adore to FORCED 24/7 machinery connection and VALIDATION, in order for those beloved cats and dogs to stay alive, something will be done to address this horror? ‘

      Nah, well before that we will have robo-dawgs and cats foist upon us (Fido 2.0) which may seem a tad expensive (though there would be range to cater for every purse and wallet) but which need never be fed or treated for illness or indeed replaced and so would ‘pay for themselves’ in a year or two. Just a weekly re-charge and update on yr computer. It would be ‘rare earth machinery’ of course, but responsive to your needs. If for example you get sick of the timbre of the bark/miaow, just change it. And if your bark turns into bite, it could helpfully alert the authorities over at the Internet of Things..

  17. words

    and, a hug out to Margaret Cho and her efforts for San Francisco homeless, I watched Robin Williams (middle aged, hung by belt, not gun, ) in The Fisher King, last night ..and thought of you immediately, and your love for him. Beautiful movy (made that word up), all about that intangible sense of caring for others …

  18. words

    that intangible and primal desire to be able to care for others they love, to my mind, is the only thing which allow human beings to not feel absolutely barren (horrified) inside.

  19. Gaianne

    On the Florida cancer clusters:

    I would certainly like to know more about the contaminants–still, it is obvious that exposure to radium, cesium-137, etc. is bad.

    But trichloroethylene was also in the list. This turned up a decade or so in Connecticut–again, Pratt & Whitney. It is a degreaser–and a good one–but it reliably causes brain cancer. Brain cancer is like its signature.


  20. words

    Dear Gaianne,

    That chemical, trichloroethylene, is reminding me of a series of (now “old” Los Angeles Times articles about how the pentagon shut down the EPA about toxins emanating from California Army (etcetera) bases. (and, Defense Industry supported Silicon Valley, has the United States record for as yet uncleaned Toxic Superfund Sites)

    Further, It does not surprise me at all that, to my recollect, that the highest population of FEMALE, & MALE, BREAST CANCER VICTIMS, appears to be possibly be related to military base POISONS. Camp Lejeune, is the first one that comes to my mind.

  21. words

    March 29, 2006:

    How Environmentalists Lost the Battle Over TCE
    First of two parts
    March 29, 2006|Ralph Vartabedian |[Los Angeles – words] Times Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON — After massive underground plumes of an industrial solvent were discovered in the nation’s water supplies, the Environmental Protection Agency mounted a major effort in the 1990s to assess how dangerous the chemical was to human health.

    Following four years of study, senior EPA scientists came to an alarming conclusion: The solvent, trichloroethylene, or TCE, was as much as 40 times more likely to cause cancer than the EPA had previously believed.

    The preliminary report in 2001 laid the groundwork for tough new standards to limit public exposure to TCE. Instead of triggering any action, however, the assessment set off a high-stakes battle between the EPA and Defense Department, which had more than 1,000 military properties nationwide polluted with TCE.

    By 2003, after a prolonged challenge orchestrated by the Pentagon, the EPA lost control of the issue and its TCE assessment was cast aside. As a result, any conclusion about whether millions of Americans were being contaminated by TCE was delayed indefinitely.


  22. kareninca

    So how is one to avoid the Asshole factory? The exhortations at the end of the article are of no help. I don’t understand why there aren’t more communes these days, and intentional living situations, as a survival world for those without debt, and for those who decide to default on their impossible debt. Huge portions of the Midwest (for instance) and upstate NY have really cheap housing; why don’t more people organize this? In the 80s in Berkeley I lived in a commune and it was possible to live for far less than in the “regular” world. There were people in the Berkeley commune who were middle-aged and on disability (they were seriously physically disabled), so it’s not just an option for the young and healthy. But you have to be willing to live far from the big cities.

  23. words


    I don’t understand why there aren’t more communes these days, and intentional living situations, as a survival world for those without debt, and for those who decide to default on their impossible debt.

    do you think that part of the answer might me found in why you no longer live in this commune:

    In the 80s in Berkeley I lived in a commune and it was possible to live for far less than in the “regular” world.

    Can you explain the reasons why you moved from that commune to however you’re living now? (and, how are you living now?) Further do you believe that only the poor or nearing poor should be the ones stuck in the environment which you yourself have long since left, for whatever reason?

    1. kareninca

      “words”, I moved out because my husband refuses to live there. If it weren’t for his distaste for it, I’d still be living there. I am now living in a condo complex; there is community here but not as much as I’d like. I miss the old group dinners.
      It’s funny that you think that I moved out because I have more money; that’s quite an assumption. I also don’t see why it’s so wrong to try to think of a survival means for people who are broke. I am constantly trying to think of what I will do if I become broke.
      You seem to have a big chip on your shoulder. What are you saying – that people who are broke, should spend everything they have on housing? No matter what? Or demand that they get a discount somehow, from Blackstone? LOL, good luck with that. Did you have some sort of terrible group-housing experience, that the suggestion angers you so?
      Of course I think everyone, of every economic class, might get something out of this. Just like everyone would benefit from eating simple home-cooked vegan meals. Which I do (we do not eat out). But there is an extra advantage if you are broke, and why not enjoy that advantage?
      Do you get angry when other money-saving suggestions are made?

  24. words

    karen inca

    There were people in the Berkeley commune who were middle-aged and on disability (they were seriously physically disabled), so it’s not just an option for the young and healthy.

    There are also middle aged and seriously physically disabled surviving while unsheltered and Homeless, does that make that yet another viable option which you have actually never experienced, except maybe in your youth (which is not at all the same reality, particularly when those middle aged may have both younger adults (such as yourself, in your commune ‘era’) they were looking over, while also trying to care for their elder parents), and clearly moved on from?

    1. kareninca

      “words”, could you be a little clearer? I’m not really sure what point you’re making, although you are obviously very angry. I also know people (friends of friends) who live in a Christian group community in Connecticut; they are very happy there. Most of them are older; many are disabled. There are a range of such places although again, I don’t know why there aren’t more. I’m not sure what your point is about homeless people. Your reasoning seems to be that if I suggest one setting which you destest (intentional communities), I must approve of another setting which you detest (homelessness); that really doesn’t follow.
      If your view is that people don’t like these sorts of places, why not just say so? Are you taking it as a law of nature that they are hated? You know, people do differ. Just because you loathe them, doesn’t mean that they are not a good option for someone else.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        A commune sounds nice in theory, but you have to negotiate so many things and what do you do with the people who don’t do their share, like leave dirty dishes in the sink? That would be my big concern, that you could have a ton of interpersonal tension or unresolved beefs that would be lurking below the surface all the time.

        1. kareninca

          Yes, you do have to be fairly live and let live, if it is one house. I also lived in a group rental in San Francisco (not an intentional community; the landlady chose the tenants; we each rented a room) where a couple of the women were just there because it was cheap and they hated it; they hated sharing the kitchen, they hated sharing the fridges, they hated sharing the bathrooms; it just didn’t suit them; fair enough. In the “Christian commune” in CT, people have their own little huts (er, houses); that allows for more personal variation without conflict. Of course there can be simmering conflicts; there are in my condo complex; there are among regular “living in house” neighbors. It isn’t for everyone; I would never claim that (I just claimed that it could be for all economic classes); I just think that it could suit a lot of people who have never tried it and also that there should be more such places for people to escape to if they need an escape hatch. People tend to only try it if they are poor, but it doesn’t have to be that way; in the Berkeley commune there were people who could have afforded to live in an apartment.

          And (contrary to “words” view), it can be really well suited to people who have elderly parents or kids. One of my Berkeley housemates was in his 60s and disabled. When his mom in Georgia got old and ill in her 80s, he had her move out to the commune, which she loved. He was able to tend her wonderfully in her last years. It helped that there was ‘always someone around.” He told me that he thought his disability had pretty much ruined his life (it had), but that he could thank it for putting him in the position to tend his mom when she needed it.

  25. Procopius

    Maybe it’s because I live in Thailand and there’s an eleven hour time difference between here and the East Coast, but I’m amazed that there hasn’t been an explosion on the intertubes from Obama’s assertion on the conference call Tom Perez was using trying to sell FastTrak. OK, it happened on Thursday, I don’t know what time, but it was reported on MSNBC (which I usually don’t read) by Alex Seitz-Wald

    And on Friday, Obama made a surprise appearance on a conference call with reporters and Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Obama took what seemed to be a shot at liberal lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and progressive groups for “send[ing] e-mails out to their fundraising base that they’re working to stop a secret deal.” There’s “nothing secret” about the treaty, he said.

    I’m flabbergasted. Maybe even gob-smacked. How is that “There’s nothing secret” not worse than “If you like your health care plan you can keep it.”?

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