2:00PM Water Cooler 7/15/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Back to 2:00PM! And a belated Happy Bastille Day. –lambert


List of traitors in House and Senate, with phone numbers. Hat tip, reader Vatch. Be sure to visit them when they return to the district. If a traitor is mentioned in Water Cooler, their name is in bold. (A reader helpfully sent me an updated version with phone numbers which I will install shortly!)

Data: “When organizations can choose to store their data with any provider anywhere in the world, they have access to best-of-breed solutions providers – whether they’re located in the cloud or are using servers in another country – that have the best documented track records of securely managing a citizen’s or customer’s data and protecting their privacy rights” [Christian Science Monitor]. Case for the defense.

Australia: “With Trade Minister Andrew Robb claiming that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement could be concluded “in a matter of weeks”, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chief executive, Kate Carnell, has today called for greater transparency in negotiations whilst questioning the effectiveness of DFAT’s consultations on the TPP” [Macrobusiness].

Handy hashtag aggregator [#TTIP #TAFTA Watch].

TTiP: “‘There will not be any binding provision in this agreement that would force local governments to privatise their public services against their will. I can guarantee that.’ asserted EU Commissioner in charge of Trade, Cecilia Malmström” [Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)].

“David Brodwin, Vice President and Co-Founder of [American Sustainable Business Council] lays out five foreseeable implications of the current negotiations for companies committed to doing business sustainably [Bilaterals.org].

1.) Innovative companies that come up with cleaner, greener, safer ways to do things often depend on rules that require safety hazards to be disclosed (at a minimum) so that consumers can vote with their dollars. For example, a new bank that built its financial model on safe and responsible lending would want the government to require disclosure of true interest rates and fees on all lending documents. TISA could allow unscrupulous lenders to overturn these disclosure requirements.

2.) Governments have a vested interest in locally based economic development because that is more efficient for job creation, and the benefits are more durable and more fairly distributed. Some governments establish contracting preferences to give a slight edge to locally owned and independently operated businesses. TISA could allow non-local vendors to overturn these preferences.

3.) Governments have a major interest in maintaining the stability of financial markets, protecting against asset bubbles like the tech bubble of 2000-2002, the mortgage bubble of 2008, and the Asian currency collapse of 1998. The main tools they use are regulations. TISA may hobble the ability of governments to maintain stable financial markets.

4.) Governments differ in the extent to which confidential data be protected. Under TISA, international communications firms will likely be able to overturn these standards.

5.) Governments are deeply involved in health care services to ensure that their residents have access to affordable care. TISA could limit governments’ abilities to structure national health care systems to meet the needs of their citizens.

“A key House Republican supporter of U.S. trade policies [Brady] expressed doubt this week that the United States and its 11 partners will be able to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the upcoming ministerial later this month, but still held out hope for congressional approval of the trade deal by the end of the year” [Inside Trade]. Can’t get past the paywall….



Sanders gets standing O at La Raza [Alternet].

The S.S. Clinton

“Teachers Say No Freaking Way to AFT Endorsement of Hillary Clinton ” [Washington Teacher].

“But [Bill Clinton’s rehabilitation came in 2003 when Bush 43, battered by the Katrina hurricane in August of 2005 and castigated for inaction and insensitivity, reached for his father and Clinton as life preservers. At his suggestion, they teamed up as an unlikely duo to minister to the stricken hurricane victims. Clinton was rewarded with a redemptive rise in the polls, bouncing back to 60 percent favorability on Oct. 21, 2005. Soon the pair were en route to Haiti to visit earthquake victims there. (For the Clintons, it was a heaven-sent opportunity for thievery and plunder.) The closer Clinton hugged Bush 41, the better he did. And Clinton’s rehabilitation dragged along his wife in its wake” [Dick Morris, The Hill]. Morris, Clinton’s Rove, seems to have taken a dislike to his one-time dynastic meal ticket(s).

“She has resided at the center of so many scandals, psychodramas and culture wars that it’s hard to even keep track of them all, let alone know what the person within that bubble of attention is actually like” [New York Times]. I have never been able to hate the Clintons, possibly due to my anchoring my views on their integritude against the Little Rock integration-opposing baitshop operators, oppo researchers, bent legals, and conservatives — sorry for the redundancies — who opposed them, and impeached him. But judging from where Clinton’s language briefly runs clear in her speech on the economy, she would love to be president of the Children’s Defense Fund, and would make a good one. That’s not the same as being President of the United States.

Republican Clown Car

“Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s campaign reported on Wednesday that it had raised just under $579,000 during the second quarter of this year” [Politico]. Gee, that’s a shame.

“Conflict erupts in Green Party after censorship of Sanders supporters” [Bangor Daily News].

Stats Watch

Readers: As you must know by now, I’m a Maine bear. I know that’s not going to help craazy with his ten-bagger, but that’s my temperament! However, my sourcing reflects my priors, and I’d be grateful if anyone could suggest regular reading from any of those glibertarian nutballs on the wrong coast Silicon Valley. Nuanced, data-driven, timely — but with a more technical focus, and from a part of the world where you have to suck up to potential funders by constantly creating new and colorable narratives dynamic innovation is prized. I did follow Andreesen on the twitter, but he bellows his book. Thank you!

PPI-FD, June 2015: “Producer prices showed slightly more pressure than expected” [Bloomberg]. “Showing pressure were electric power, pharmaceuticals and cigarettes. Gasoline and food, specifically eggs, contributed to the overall increase.” The egg man cometh… “Chicken egg prices jumped 84.5 percent last month, the largest increase recorded since the government began tracking producer costs in 1937” [Chicago Tribune]. And see entry on Avian Flu, below.

MBA Mortgage Applications, July 2015: “[T]he purchase index has slipped 1.4 percent in the two weeks which is a negative signal for home purchases” [Bloomberg]. “Still up from last year this time but seem stalled out at relatively low levels and Q2 not any better than Q1” [Mosler Economics].

Empire State Mfg Survey, July 2015:  “The manufacturing sector isn’t picking up any steam this month based on the Empire State index” [Bloomberg]. “And hiring this month has slowed, to 3.19 vs June’s 8.65 in yet another soft signal.” But this is a noisy series: “The Empire State Manufacturing Survey improved enough to squeak into expansion. Key internals are in contraction” [Econintersect].

Industrial Production, June 2015: “A plus 0.3 percent rise in June industrial production looks respectable but still overstates strength” [Bloomberg]. “A manufacturing sector that is being hurt by weakness in exports and that’s dragging down the economy’s growth.” And: “capacity utilization rate inched up to 78.4%, still down over a percentage point from the 2014 high” [Across the Curve].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, July 2015: “Inching higher” [Bloomberg].

“Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sees a number of encouraging signs that the economy is reviving after a brutal winter and says if the improvements stay on track, the Fed will likely start raising interest rates later this year” [Crain’s New York]. But that would take free money away from people who already have lots of it. Generally, that’s hard to do. Has anybody made book on a “lift off” date? I mean, besides Mr. Market?

Yellen: “The U.S. economy also might snap back more quickly as the transitory influences holding down first-half growth fade and the boost to consumer spending from low oil prices shows through more definitively” [Calculated Risk]. On low oil prices: Surely if that were going to happen, it would already have happened?

“[Yellen’s] speech was very much a rehash of her speech in Cleveland last week and so any one who thought that speech noteworthy had re positioned already anyway” [Across the Curve].

“Bank of Canada lowered its policy interest rate to 0.50% on Wednesday from 0.75% where it had been since a 25 bp cut in January, saying that Canada is undergoing a significant economic adjustment which requires more monetary stimulus” [Market News].

Bill McBride: “Update: The California Budget Surplus” [Calculated Risk]. Warren Mosler: “Fiscal drag from California” [Mosler Economics].

Class Warfare

“I have to work at Trader Joe’s to afford to teach at Webster,” says Elizabeth Sausele. Sausele, 50, has a master’s in divinity and a doctorate in education with an emphasis in intercultural studies” [Riverfront Times]. The elites have made induced agnotology a collective policy goal.


Iran deal: “Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, having embraced the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama, is now helping to lead the sales effort for it — both with her own party and the electorate at large” [WaPo].

Iran deal: “[T]he United States cannot bludgeon Iran into total submission, either economically or militarily. The U.S. tried that in Iraq. It is precisely this recognition that makes the Iran deal so infuriating to Obama’s critics. It codifies the limits of American power” [Peter Beinart, The Atlantic]. Not “the limits.” Some limits.

Iran deal: “‘This is a stunning accomplishment,’ said [former IAEA inspector Thomas Shea]. “‘I’ve been a part of this business for 40 years at this point and I’ve never seen anything that begins to approach the comprehensiveness of this agreement.'”

Iran deal: “American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and J Street, appear split” [WaPo].

Iran deal: “Iranian Nuclear Deal Is a Win for Anti-Semitism” [Rabbi David Wolpe, Time]. Only if anti-Semitism = not outsourcing U.S. foreign policy to Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Technology gives practically no advantage to any army during urban combat” [Foreign Miltary Studies Office]. Analysis of tactics in Syria.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Obama to be greeted on Oklahoma visit by Confederate flags” [Tulsa Frontier]. Totes heritage.s

“But experts say any conversations about race relations in America in 2015 and beyond won’t get far without coming to terms with a type of diaspora that is peculiar to the nation’s inner cities – a cycle of poverty, violence and drugs that has acted like a neutron bomb to eliminate young men in their late teens, 20s and 30s” [Will Bunch, Daily News].

Avian Flu

“No new detections of avian flu [HPAI H5] have occurred since June 17” [Food Safety News]. “The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 epidemic spread to domestic poultry by migratory birds may have burned out without getting anywhere near the human food supply, which was said to be an extremely low possibility in the first place.”

“Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad Monday signed a disaster emergency proclamation extension for 18 Iowa counties adversely affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which would assist with disposal and clean-up efforts on affects sites” [Sioux Land Matters].

“[USDA’s] Dr John Clifford] also mentioned the epidemiological investigation that [USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] had carried out, saying that whilst they could not pinpoint a cause, biosecurity measures that are sufficient in ordinary times were not sufficient in the face of such a large amount of virus in the environment [The Poultry Site].

“‘The report of a chickadee testing positive for avian influenza is the first detection of the disease in a songbird,’ Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. ‘This is further evidence that while waterfowl species can serve as a reservoir for avian influenza, other species are susceptible to the disease'” [Duluth News].

“Several varieties of avian influenza viruses have recently struck farms in the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and South Africa, affecting poultry species ranging from chickens to ostriches, according to reports today” [Center for Infectious Disease Resarch and Policy].

“LUCAS COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) – In an extreme move to protect your families from the Avian Flu, all live bird exhibitions at county fairs statewide have been canceled [Toledo News].

“Iowa, the hardest hit, has euthanized more than 31 million birds, including approximately 40% of the state’s 60 million laying hens, according to Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Poultry Association” [Guardian]. “[F]or turkeys and broiler chickens, which are floor-reared (ie not kept in cages), the use of water-based foam similar to that used by firefighters is the most effective way to euthanize a large flock in a short period of time.” Time to short meat?

News of the Wired

“No one could see the color blue until modern times” [Business Insider]. Dated, but interesting. I wonder if people could have the blues, and if so, when?

“That empty feeling in Singapore’s malls” [Nikkei Asian Review (furzy mouse)]. True for new malls in Bangkok, as well. This looks like overshoot, to me; neither city needed (yet another) new mall. And if peak mall in Southeast Asia has passed, who’s exposed to big buildings sitting empty on prime real estate sucking cash for aircon and attendants?

“Is this cold, rural state home to the nation’s healthiest democracy?” [WaPo]. Violating Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, yes.

* * *

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:


I waited a long time for that wildflower mix to get rolling, but when it did….

NOTE: Please free to test the donation dropdown, where the amount you select should finally appear on the PayPal form! Thanks to kind reader DK, who fixed my code. (And if you have problems, please let me know using the contact link, so as not to clutter the thread.)

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. jo6pac

    Conflict erupts in Green Party after censorship of Sanders supporters

    Amazing, so why don’t those that support BS join the demodogs. They don’t sound very Green to me.

    1. Unorthodoxmarxist

      I’ve been with the party since 2000 and have been to every presidential convention from 2004-present. The issue you raise is a good one, because those of us who have consistently fought for an independent left have seen these kinds of debates flare up every four years as Demo-Greens rear their heads and look for a shiny white knight to rescue the Democratic Party. In 2004 we had the Cobb/Nader split, where the Demo-Greens took over the party apparatus and used the campaign to push a “safe states” strategy so as not to harm John Kerry; those of us committed to independent left politics backed the Nader/Camejo ticket. In 2008 there was some movement for Kucinich – and in 2012 given the choices most backed Jill Stein.

      Nevertheless the fundamental split is between those who have joined the Greens as socialists, anarchists, radicals, and who see the system as fundamentally corrupt: we have a systemic analysis and realize electing a president cannot change the system and that the left has a history of being blinded every four years by a Democratic candidate. On the other side are those who are essentially looking for a reformed Democratic Party that resembles its New Deal self, and are in the Greens because they think that is the best option until the Dems “reform” themselves. It is this wing that is perenially attracted to Democratic challengers, and this one that is pushing hard for Sanders.

      What’s weird is that Bernie has never asked for, nor wanted the Green line. He has made it clear that he only wants the Democratic nomination and has no interest in continuing past the primaries should he lose, because he is “not a spoiler.” He’s done no work in Vermont or anywhere else to build an independent political organization, and in fact has worked hand-in-glove with Democrats for decades. The Green Party isn’t a cadre organization so if those Greens wish to go and work on Bernie’s campaign no one can stop them, but I do find it odd that they push very hard to get the party to accept Bernie, who wants nothing to do with us.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s good information, especially on the 2004 split.

        That said, to this outsider, this whole discourse all seems like one of those horrible family feuds with boatloads of pent-up and deeply impacted grievances that’s been going on for years and that one should never get involved in, and, worse, among party insiders, and even worse, among party insiders who have never been anywhere near actual political power. In my own state, I keep having to dedicate immense effort to get Greens from not relitigating Nader’s role in election 2000 which is, let me see, 15 years ago. I realize the Democrats s*ck, I really do. What I — speaking as a voter, here — need to hear is not how badly the Dems s*ck, but why the Greens do not also s*ck, but in a different way (which would be platform). The distinction between a profit-making enterprise like the Dems and an insular, dysfunctional non-profit like the Greens would, I think, disappear if the GP ever achieved national office. Why? Because “It’s all about my party!” regardless of which party, and not about voters or citizens. (I’ve seen very good, very smart Green candidates, but onesies and twosies are not enough.)

        1. Paul Tioxon

          Political parties today and in yesteryear are always involving conflicting personalities, financial interests, ideological interests etc. It’s interesting to hear that Dems go into the Green Party as described by unorthoM then try to go back into the fold after being treated as hippie dupes only to try to use some of the organizational power, such as it is, of the Greens to the advantage of some leftist messiah among the Dems. Just to compare notes. It has happened the other way around. DSOC, The Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee was the group of Socialist Party members lead by Michael Harrington, into the Democratic party to influence them directly and have more impact on policy, aka, have more power. This was as late as the 1970s. Also at the same time, the NEA, the teachers union practically took over the Dems national convention propelling Jimmy Carter into the candidacy and then the WH.

          “Specifically, the NEA’s closest political ties are with the Democratic Party. In 1976 the union used its financial resources and manpower to help elect Jimmy Carter to the U.S. presidency. After the election, Carter in turn thanked the union by creating the Department of Education in 1979, prompting one NEA executive to boast that this was the only union in the United States with its own cabinet department. At recent Democratic National Conventions, up to a quarter of the delegates have been members of teachers unions.”

          Now you know why the Dept of Ed has been targeted for death from day one for whatever Repub gets in the WH and teachers are being crushed by privatization.

          This strategy of taking a well organized group, and going into a major party makes more sense, as teachers have shown, than alienated Dems, going into a powerless not quite there yet organization and hoping to use it as platform to out muscle the Dem Party on a national level.
          More advice from social scientists that would be good for Greens to hear, would be to go into the Dem party and influence them directly with your platform unchanged as is. The biggest stumbling block of the Dems until recently was the Southern Dixiecrat. That problem was solved when they just left wholesale and became Repubs, as happened in Texas. The party is really wide open for an organized group with a national base to come in and not reform the party but be an addition to the party that can’t be ignored.



          the next generation of change agents should take the findings of the social sciences seriously. Put another way, it is not philosophy or “Grand Theory” that will be helpful, but the application of systematic social science findings. The other ways have had their chance, and they have failed to bring about large-scale social change. This is partly another way of saying that social structure, history, group dynamics, and strategy do matter. It may sound either abstract or mundane, but in fact none of these points was taken seriously by those who relied on the likes of Moscow or Mao or Gramsci or Marcuse or Derrida or Foucault to shape their actions in the 20th century.

          So what might be the most effective strategies for left/egalitarian activists in the United States? Follow the links below to learn more.

          Fresh Start For the Left: What Activists Would Do If They Took the Social Sciences Seriously
          Why Doesn’t the Left Do Differently?
          Third Parties Don’t Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party
          Social Movements and Strategic Nonviolence
          Planning Through the Market: More Equality Through the Market System
          Keeping Leaders Accountable
          The What-If Nader Campaign of 2000

          The above from William Domhoffs site.


        1. McDee

          In 2012 here in New Mexico Stein got 2641 votes, one of them mine, out of over 770,000 cast. That’s three tenths of one percent. The Green Party lost it’s ballot line and, as near as I can tell, has pretty much disappeared. There were no Greens running in local races last spring and they were non partisan, so ballot line doesn’t matter. I do see a lot of activity for Sanders though. At this point in time, it seems to me, a Stein campaign is hardly worth the effort.

    2. cwaltz

      I personally think it’s short sighted for greens to make this a pissing contest. If issues are what matter than it shouldn’t matter which candidate is saying it. I’d also argue that the elites have been successful because they don’t put all their eggs in one basket, progressives would do well not to consider any one person or party as the answer to the problems we face. We need to multitask. We need to have a viable option so that the party elites of the democratic party don’t get to coronate the nominee again like they did in 2008. (When they foolishly decided there would be no floor fight.)

  2. curlydan

    On TPP and cloud storage, here’s the subconscious case for the defense: “When corporations can choose to sue organizations to store data with said corporation, they can increase profits and provide cleaner backdoors to the NSA – whether they’re located in the cloud or are using servers in another country – and this allows better citizen management while making up stats about how secure the data could be”.

    1. Synoia

      Or conceal breaches and evade liability, because the breach was in some offshore subsidiary in some other jurisdiction.

        1. Rhondda

          Lambert posted this link yesterday so I’ve been looking at the list for some time. Here are a few that raised my eyebrow.

          Hershey’s chocolate
          Service Employees International Union
          Pepperidge Farm, Inc.
          Otis Spunkmeyer
          Organic trade Association
          Audubon Naturalist Society
          Avon Products, Inc.
          Boston University
          Bread for the World
          Endangered Species Coalition
          Environmental Defense Fund

          Initially I had a negative reaction. I had to remind myself that being on this “TPP insiders” list just means you get to look at the text…it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re one of The Traitors.

          Shout-out to the companies and organizations on this list who aren’t part and parcel of The Jackassery — Be an American Hero! Expose this “trade” text to the people!

          1. jrs

            It’s often said corporations have access, while environmental and labor and consumer groups and so on do not. While perhaps generally true there is not just the Environmental Defense Fund but also Consumers Union on the list. And looky who:

            James P. Hoffa International Brotherhood of Teamsters
            Robert King United Auto Workers

            Who doesn’t’ have the ability to know about this law? Well I’m quite sure YOU don’t. Me either.

  3. Synoia

    Yellen’ (Or is it Yelled ) of the Fed:

    the boost to consumer spending from low oil prices

    Here in CA Gas (Petrol) prices are at about $4.20 to $4.50 a gallon.

    What low oil prices, I ask?

    1. ambrit

      You poor sods.
      We filled the PT Cruiser up last weekend before a trip to Laurel, for $2.30 a gallon.
      The regionality of gasoline pricing is not usually front and centre in public policy debates, but nevertheless real. We live close to the petroleum refinery complexes of Meraux and Baton Rouge Louisiana. California has about the same number of refinery complexes as Louisiana, though for a larger population. The U.S. Energy Information Administration groups refineries into ‘Regions.’
      The formulations of the gasolines also come into play. The West Coast, I believe perhaps California by itself, has more stringent rules for combustion byproducts, and, therefore, a different mix of additives to their gasoline. This accounts for some of the price differential. The rest of the difference in price per gallon at the pump can simply be attributed to the dreaded “market forces.” Remember how Enron manipulated electrical energy prices in California away back in the days when Mammoths and Mastodons were blundering into the La Brea tar pits?
      Greed is eternal, and blinding to the greedy ones. Greed is a classic definition of a ‘narrow focus’ point of view. Under neo-liberalism, Greed is the driving force of history.
      On another note; didn’t I read lately that the ‘average’ consumer was using his or her oil price ‘Christmas present’ to pay down debt, instead of buying more ‘stuff.’ (Cue the George Carlin “Stuff” rant!)

      1. Carolinian

        You left out the state gas tax differential. There’s probably a sizable diff in tax per gallon between California and where you live (or for that matter SC, one of the lowest gas tax states).

        1. Optimader

          Cali is one gaint epa nonattainment area so low emission gas blends are probably a big price component along w/ as you point out state and local taxes. These are certainly large cost components in my geography.

      2. Danny

        Yes, California has a different blend of gasoline for summer months (April 1 – October 31) that is formulated to decrease certain emissions that get worse with summer heat. This formulation is adopted by air quality basins and is mostly used in southern and central California.
        I paid $3.89/gallon in Los Angeles on Sunday. Also remember that the cost includes taxes, which are close to 50 cents per gallon. I look at the high prices on the bright side. High prices mean people are more likely to drive less, buy hybrid cars, take public transit where available, and supportive of higher density, transit projects, and cyclists. All of those help reduce smog. And it means more tax money for our roads and public transit.
        California publishes estimates about what comprises the costs for a gallon of gasoline. Check it out: http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/gasoline/margins/index.php

    2. jrs

      Yep 4.50 here in Cali at a mid-priced station (not the cheapest). Low gas prices? Not really. They were definitely less than that before.

      1. cwaltz

        We’re at $2.45 a gallon in southwest va. With my grocery rewards we’re usually usually averaging $2.25 a gallon.

        1. different clue

          I remember an article like this being linked to some time ago here. I remember commenters noting that the ancients used minerals like azurite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, etc. in their jewelry and etc. The Egyptians famously had some kind of blue-colored glass even if they didn’t have the word “blue”.

          So perhaps the ancients saw blue quite clearly but just didn’t have the catch-all word “blue” for all the different colors we nowadays call “blue”. Perhaps moderns who don’t know all the words for all the different blues are seeing less and fewer actual blues than the ancients saw . . . what with their having their 50 words for Fifty Shades of Blue.

    1. Geof

      I don’t think it’s right to say they just called it something different. As the Radiolab episode describes, for them the category didn’t exist. The cones in their eyes fired, but they did not consciously see blue as distinct from other colors. They saw the light from blue objects, but because they had not named Blue, they did not see Blue.

      The political implications are huge: something as basic and seemingly objective as the color blue is culturally constructed. No wonder ideological chasms are so wide. We literally do not see the same things. You may see sexism, racism and injustice: but I might literally not see them even as they pass right before my eyes. (I might even see reverse racism or sexism, or an opposite injustice.) I can see the police officer pin the black girl at the pool party to the ground, but I do not see racism. I may see the pollution in Beijing, but Chai Jing saw only fog until her daughter became ill and she embarked on filming Under the Dome. And we all have great difficulty seeing money.

      But even these examples are bad because they suggest a truth revealed. There are an infinity of colors on the spectrum; we cannot name them all. We must choose: the ones we choose, we can see; the ones we do not choose, we cannot. Bias is inevitable.

      The Radiolab episode, in my opinion, is essential listening, and its lesson is humility.

      1. jsn

        I think you may be missing the difference between seeing and naming. In “To Kill A Mockingbird Scout” is daughter to the same father she has in “Go Set A Watchman”, she just doesn’t see aspects of Atticus as a child that come into sharp relief as she grows. I had the same experience with my old man.

        The color blue was always there, it was always seen, artists no doubt named it the same way Martha Stewart has now named several thousand colors you and I don’t bother to memorize identities for. Blue just hadn’t yet achieved the normative rhetorical status to cary universal significance in literature.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think seeing here refers to the brain matching the sensation to a concept, a name.

          In that case, that type of seeing is naming.

          We can also say seeing to mean just having something in front of a non-blind person with the eyes open in bright daylight, with nothing in-between to obstruct the view.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s kind of deja vu for me – didn’t we have a link similar to this a while back?

        In any case, I remember trying to look up a quote, something along the line, if we don’t have a word for love, we would not know how to love.

        Maybe we first watched lots of romance movies or read a lot of love poetry, and we then try to act what we have seen or read.

        Or perhaps some one decides to be the number one virtuous person in the world, and afterwards, sees evil everywhere, to be criticized.

        1. Jeff W

          It’s kind of deja vu for me – didn’t we have a link similar to this a while back?

          Not quite, it was the identical link. (I wrote a much longer comment that referred to the earlier link but that one is, well, I’m not sure where. I guess it might turn up.)

    2. The Insider

      Yep. The ancients loved lapis lazuli and used it often in jewelry and artwork, and it is the literal definition of blue (“lazuli” -> “azure”). Exodus 24:10 uses “sapphire”, but really means lapis lazuli, and compares it in color to the sky. The ancients absolutely could see blue as a distinct shade.

      This isn’t really about some strange inability to see the color blue – it’s about language, and about the color spectra covered by various descriptive words. We have a much more fine-grained description of colors than the ancients did, and so have words for colors that they included in broader categories. Compounding the problem is the fact that words shift in meaning over time, and words that describe colors are certainly no exception. If they seemed to use strange words to describe what we call blue, in all likelihood it’s because those words’ definitions have shifted over time – not because they couldn’t see what we can.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think it shows that we are trapped by words we use – our perception of the world is limited by the ranges of meaning they suggest.

        So, it’s about our inability to perceive, to see the color blue, and it’s about language.

        Words are deceiving.

        Without the word blue, we have a hard time seeing it. And those who have a word for green, but not for blue, can’t seem to pick the latter color out.

        That is, without a word, we miss things.

        And with a word, we confuse or lump other objects into it.

        The question then is, have we added to our perception with the invention of language or have we lost some of the perception we had before the arrival of words (when cavemen gathered and hunted without words), 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 years ago?

        In Zen or Chan, the emphasis is on direct experience and Zen koans are exercises to remove that abstract hologram of words.

      2. harold

        A lot of our color words come from the textile and jewelers’ trade. Also painting. They were technical terms.

    3. Vatch

      Of course you are correct that people have always been able to see blue, and that some languages just lacked words. However, the human eye is less sensitive to blue (indigo) than it is to red, and it is less sensitive to red than it is to green. Sky blue (cyan) is a combination of indigo blue and green. People have always, and continue to be, less sensitive to blue than to the other additive primaries. (Cyan, magenta, and yellow are the subtractive primaries.)

      A related topic is the phenomenon of tetrachromatic women who can perceive 4 primary colors. Here’s an article:


  4. Bill Smith

    “Technology gives practically no advantage to any army during urban combat.”

    Bad quote to lead with from the article (and inaccurate).

    The author is a member of JMA (Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal Ansar), which is the Caucasus Emirate proxy force in Syria.

    The article is interesting though.

  5. pmorrisonfl

    r.e. ‘regular reading from any of those glibertarian nutballs on the wrong coast Silicon Valley.’

    My favorite technical news aggregator, and other mandatory daily read, is Hacker News

      1. pmorrisonfl

        ‘Tech Crunch’ is the first thing I thought of… but it’s probably not Tech Crunch you want. I’d say watch HN for a week or so and see if the kind of thing you’re looking for turns up. I regularly see tech articles here that were posted there days or weeks earlier. It might give you a jump.

        p.s. And, thanks for all you do.

      2. Max

        Not sure if he’s quite what you’re looking for but Evgeny Morozov is usually a fun read. He’s not part of the SV “in” crowd though he’s more of a seething polemicist.

      1. allan

        Let me Google™ that for you:

        Their analysis also determined that the difference in flight times between eastbound and westbound flights on any given route didn’t cancel each other out; rather there was a residual. … ” so multiply those couple of minutes by each flight per day, by each carrier, by each route, and that residual adds up quickly. We’re talking millions of dollars in changes in fuel costs.”

  6. Oldeguy

    Hi Lambert. I’m going to try to ask a few questions here that I was too cowardly to ask Yves this AM- feel free to block this if I’m being ” out of line”.
    1 ) Since the finance writers who I read ( Krugman, Stiglitz, RNN, etc. ) all seem to agree that Grexit, painful though it would be, is inevitable and even quite possibly beneficial to all parties concerned, why not have the expensive prolonged operational expertise included in the ” humanitarian aid ” to be furnished Greece ? Put the cost into a lien on future tax receipts.
    2 )And speaking of taxes, that 30% figure cited as those Greeks paying tax on their incomes is a jaw dropper the would turn Mother Theresa into a hardliner.
    Here’s my obviously uninformed total amateur suggestion of one way to address this:
    2a ) Every Greek income earner to be provided with a smart phone.
    2b ) Every Greek income earner to be ” pre-assessed ” a wacking big tax bill based on expected yearly ( quarterly, monthly , whatever ) earnings.
    2c ) Every transaction’s VAT would then REDUCE the individual earners tax bill by that amount. The advantage of ” working off the books” disappears- it is of direct financial benefit to the earner to have payment in the VAT system.
    2c ) The eventual goal would be the first cash free economy.

    1. Synoia

      The eventual goal would be the first cash free economy.

      And there would be no small businesses – because they cheat, while big business launder their profits offshore through double dutch-Irish-Bahamian sandwiches.

      1. cnchal

        . . . And there would be no small businesses – because they cheat . . .

        I disagree. To imply that small businesses exist because they cheat is nonsense.

        1. ambrit

          Having known several small business owners and operators personally through the years, I most emphatically attest that the “average” small business owner will lie, cheat, and divert funds as a basic part of simple survival. Greshams Dynamic is alive and thriving in this neo-liberal paradise of ‘ours.’ Operating margins for small businesses grow as the business grows. Economies of scale aren’t just herpetological witticisms. Until a small business crosses that ‘break even’ event horizon, everything is a gamble.
          “To imply that small businesses exist because they cheat is nonsense,” is true. Most small businesses begin as dreams, and end up as nightmares. Once one goes through that “baptism by fire,” subsequent attempts at commerce change in tone and implementation. I believe only one business out of ten start ups survive past two years.
          It used to be that, when you approached the head of the business loan department at your local bank, if you had experience in a start up, even when it was a failure, you had an automatic preference. As much as the existence of small businesses may be a philosophical pursuit, the survival and growth of small businesses is nuts and bolts “real world.” The survival of small businesses can be and often is based on deceptions of one sort or another. Why? Because the “Big Boys” have reached the point where they can ‘buy’ special favours from the regulators and financiers. The playing field is not only not level, it is often a step slope. Guess who is already at the top of that slope?
          My moral is; transactional ethics is a basic element of all business dealings. Inequalities of power are natural conditions. Coming to an agreement on the ground rules of any negotiation is a prerequisite for successful outcomes. Such agreements can be either imposed by society, for its’ purposes, or imposed by individual actors, of which corporations are synthetic ‘individuals’ for purposes of argument. When the ‘rules’ are imposed by individual actors, a natural and predictable bias is introduced. The stronger actors in unequal pairings tend to prevail and impose ‘rules’ favouring themselves. As a response to such imposed inequalities, a rational actor in a weaker position will attempt to circumvent such inequalities. This circumvention will take many forms, most of which have been branded as deviant by the stronger actors, out of self interest. Thus is established an economic version of Hobbes’ “State of Nature.”
          See you at the Bourse!

          1. Lambert Strether

            Dumb question: I’m familiar with information asymmetry in markets, but is there a similar concept of power asymmetry? If so, what’s the name for it? (Or is it something obscurantist, like friction or hysterisis?)

            1. Synoia

              “Cheat” is realistic. Through recorded history businesses which accept cash have short changed, that is cheated, the taxman.

              Sometimes Small Businesses cheated their customers. The foundations of Weights and Measures Acts underscores that effort.

              Historically all businesses accepted cash. All under reported income, because it increased operating margins.

            2. ambrit

              There are no dumb questions, good sir.
              I’m not too up on the ‘official’ versions of power dynamics, but I’d consider “Political Clientelism” as a good approximation.
              This popped into my mind because I’ve been thinking about the Roman Republican social system a bit. (Why I’m doing that, I couldn’t quite explain. It’s just interesting.)
              Doing some Googling for the subject ‘Political Clientelism’ I came across this little gem which I will try to wade through tomorrow when I feel up to it, and have found my maths book.
              This one’s for craazyman:
              I’m going to keep musing on the power asymmetry question. Then I’ll let my subconscious work on it while I sleep tonight. Here’s hoping. Crossing my fingers and my toes.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                If there are power relations in markets, then “free market” is an oxymoron. That is my hidden agenda. One can handle information asymmetries with, as it were, epicyles like “transparency” but not, I am guessing, power asymmetries.

                1. ambrit

                  “Free” anything is an oxymoron. Free lunch, Free love, Free will, the list is well nigh endless. Everything short of the Godhead, which concept is itself a human construct, is bounded by its’ relationships with “others.” Simply put, God is unity, the World is multiplicity.
                  Any asymmetry is a power asymmetry. I would go as far as to say that ideas have relative ‘weights’ amongst themselves. I mean to say that existence implies action, and action is measured as power. How can something at complete rest be measured? If something cannot be measured, is it still ‘there?’ (Philosophy can be fun.)
                  The one saving grace in all this is that existence implies action, and action is the ground state for change. Power asymmetries thus are fluid, and subject to change. Managing the changes is key.
                  As the poor man said when he was about to be hanged, “Organize.”

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    However, I think information asymmetry is a subset of power asymmetry (and then only when the asymmetry can be arbitraged by someone with the knowledge and power to take advantage of it).

                    1. ambrit

                      (It’s five in the morning here and I’ve just woken up with a raging headache. I’m thinking this power asymmetry problem is more intractable than I envisioned.)
                      You’ve posed two problems with your statement sir.
                      First problem is the assignation of “influences” in any real world relationship. This becomes a second order set of relationships which define the borders of the first. This second order set is further complicated by the fact that it includes partial relationships. The problem of interconnectedness comes into play. (The Butterfly Effect writ small.)
                      Second problem is the weighting of influences as to effect. Some arbitrage is of significant effect upon the relationship being considered. Other arbitrage is of lesser, and indirect effect. As any competent military strategist will tell you, indirect movements can be the determining factor. Many wars have been won through the act of threatening the opponents base indirectly, which compels the opponent to desist offensive actions and retire into a defensive posture.
                      Moral: Bluffing is power when carried out successfully. When bluff is carried out unsuccessfully, it is power alienated.
                      Excuse me. I have to brew a cuppa and take some powders.

                2. Oregoncharles

                  “Free Market” was always an oxymoron. Markets depend on rules (in the most primitive case, the rules of social order). Modern markets depend on things like contract enforcement and the provision of money. And they depend on an outside entity. like government, to make and enforce those rules, or the whole thing collapses.

                  The real question is: who makes the rules, and who benefits?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      As to your first question, what is the goal of Merkel? her party replacements? Euro businesses? smaller Euro countries? the U.S./NATS? Greece isn’t dealing with one entity with a number of bystanders. Syriza negotiators have already noted center left elements weren’t open to a better deal because their home audiences would want their own deal. Next, what resources are there to fix Greece? The solution to a peaceful exit would require Uncle Sam funding it or massive changes to the EU which had no chance of happening before everyone remembered Germans haven’t stopped being German in the last 10 years.

      In this age of austerity, who is going to do the heavy lifting? Merkel is in a grand coalition.She isn’t the towering figure she seems to be, but she is still first among equals. As for the U.S., Obama spent too much time wasting good will on a half cooked adventure there isn’t a demand for U.S. mediation or the potential for a U.S. funded bailout.

      I’ve long been an EU skeptic and largely because it can’t function in a crisis.

      1. Synoia

        EU skeptic and largely because it can’t function in a crisis

        Certainly can function in a crisis, as has just been demonstrated. Becuse you do not like the results, does not mean it cannot function.

        Please remember: the Whipping Will Stop When Morale Improves.

    3. cnchal

      2c ) The eventual goal would be the first cash free economy.

      Why should that be a goal? Everybody should be using cash more often. Do you want every little purchase made to be able to be tracked and monitored?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      Modulo Machiavelli’s saying that “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both,” I think in all cases the lesson that Yves and Nathan have been hammering home is that you have to look at organizational capacity; to restate (I hope accurately) the idea that one must look at the real abilities of the Greek government and Greek people to implement the idea. (This is why technical handwaving devolves instantly into cheerleading, being as it is free of substance and in fact useless to the Greeks.) A part of this analysis capacity is looking at the real power relationships involved (which must take into account the organizational capacity of the other powers reciprocally involved). I mean, if, and by “if” I mean “since,” the Greeks are involved in a war, albeit one fought on financial terrain, it would make, or would have made, sense to assess their own capacities, and those of their enemies, with cold eyes, before sending their population off to the trenches.

      1) “Why not have…” Lack of agency. Who does that and why? The Germans, because they are good-hearted?

      2) Agreed on taxes, which makes it all the more curious that Syriza never seriously engaged with collecting them.

      2a) “be provided with…” Lack of agency. Who does that and why?

      2b) “be pre-assessed…” Lack of agency. Also vulnerable to bail-in.

      2c) “direct financial benefit” To me, that’s actually a cool idea, but I will leave it to the systems people around here (we have at least two) to estimate the time it would take to build such a system, and the organizational capacity of the Greeks.

      2c) “first cash free economy” I’m not sure that cash just hasn’t become digital cash; one of our monetary experts will correct me. I also picture the whole system being taken over by the banksters and used for total financial control, which is so ugly I think it would only be tolerable under autarky (assuming autarky itself to be tolerable).

      There are a lot of people working, some more seriously than others, on what is to be done in Greece after a Grexit when Greece reverts in essence to autarky (or, to put this another way, exits from the globalization process). For the purposes of argument, assume no pharmaceuticals and no petroleum (mostly refined and exported) and no tourist industry* and heating in the winter done with wood (assuming deforestation has not been too brutal). This proposal would fit into that: 1850 with cell phones, putting on my Archdruid hat.

      There will be no way to get to that point without great pain (picture Athens as Detroit). I don’t think the Greek people have decided, and they may not be allowed to decide. On the one hand, they really don’t want to leave the Euro. On the other, as the Jacobin article in Links today pointed out, the working class feels conned and ticked off (rightly). But and so the Greek people do not exist to be the vessels of other people’s hopes and dreams.

      * I’m just waiting for the first German tourist to be mobbed or shot. That will deal with the issue of what to do with the tourist industry.

      1. grizziz

        Speaking of organisational capacity, what are the preparations of Greek Military? If the banks cannot open and merchants start raising prices due to lack of future inventory, people start hoarding and hunger takes over leading to riots, will the police be able to handle the chaos? Are the Greeks politically mature enough to avoid a junta?

      2. bindlestiff

        Greece is certainly headed for what, when a second one still existed, was known as “third world” status. There are other countries in hock to the banks who have to import food and petroleum that some EU members would have Greece emulate; the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka come to mind. Neither is currently a technically failed state, they do have differing levels of industry, and were Greece to emulate either one quickly they would provide a powerful incentive to, say, any random Italian or Latvian voter to shut up and eat their porridge. Getting there will be tricky, as in “no fun to watch” as opposed to “difficult to do”, but many on the other side of the wealth divide will share some scraps to make the transition easier to watch, I have no doubts. What’s UNICEF up to otherwise these days?

    5. hunkerdown

      2a. How, and at what TCO? The very quickest one could get 5 million or so smartphones would be buying Apple’s full iPhone output for over a week, if they would be so kind as to besmirch their lugzhury good status, and if one had *ahem* cash not otherwise committed that they would accept. Samsung might be amenable to such an offer as well, and (if between new releases) might have spare capacity and less costly models to supply. Anything else means dealing with long supply chains for bespoke or volume components and/or throwing oneself at the mercy of the spot market.

      Then, connectivity. Those phones are going to be interacting full-duplex with the international mobile telecommunications network, which means they’ll need SIMs. (It’ll cost about $2mn and six weeks to get that squared away.) They also need a national network that will agree to haul all that data without demanding too large a commission. Cyprus’ national telco is the only semi-governmental player of their four-carrier mobile space. Greece’s national telco is already owned in large part by Deutsche Bank. The other two are privately held. Presumably, all would want to be paid for their “part” in a system that transmits value, unless the expectation is that citizens would be willing to pay to do so.

      Then, server capacity. I have no data on transaction volumes in Greece, but a quarter billion transactions per day (25 per person, ~3000/sec on average) seems like a reasonable peak to me. Each connection lasts maybe three seconds due to TLS overhead × network latency, so 10000 at a time. I’ll guesstimate one would need a few dozen quad-core machines to handle it.

      “No plan survives contact with the enemy,” and here come the users. Software for recording the transaction and its category and thus the VAT paid, which is going to take at least a good couple or three months to nail down for a soft launch. Then, users, with a new-fangled, complex way of paying debts shoved in their hands. And a lot of sh-t happens to users and new-fangled, complex things. K-12 schools’ experience with laptops is instructive. I suspect a lot of support calls and generally poor uptake on the part of pensioners.

      To the extent Greek society utilizes them, coin-operated conveniences won’t be remanufactured to play nice with the phones in a timely fashion. Likewise, existing systems built to automatically talk to payment processors (hotel billing systems) will need quite a bit of rework.

      2b, 2c. How to distinguish between the unemployed and the under-the-table employed?

      2c(2). Communities are well known to create their own media of exchange to suit their own needs, with little mind paid to absentee landlords or publicans, when the one they’re using becomes unsuitable or unavailable. A cashless society seems like an especially hard sell in the very birthplace of Western money.

      1. Oldeguy

        Thanks for the informative , thoughtful detailed reply to my off-the-top-my-head post.
        “How to distinguish between the unemployed and the under the table employed ?”
        The point of my little scheme is to flush out the under the table employed tax dodgers by removing their employer’s incentive to hire them off the books.
        The employers would forfeit having the VAT for the transaction credited against their pre-assessed tax bill.
        Support for the unemployed would be minimal soup kitchen type ( I suspect that probably it already is ) .
        I really don’t mean to be Scrooge here, but there’s something wrong with the picture of a populace waving their Nation’s flag and loudly proclaiming for Democracy yet having only 30% of the population bearing the financial burden of that Nation’s government.
        I am old enough to remember when ” Taxes are the Price we pay for Civilization ” was the common belief and tax avoidance, to say nothing of tax evasion, was thought to reflect poorly on one’s character.
        P.S. This is, of course, aimed at the “self employed ” in the Greek economy who I seem to remember constitute a large portion of the population.

  7. Jim Haygood

    “Obama to be greeted on Oklahoma visit by Confederate flags”

    *Potus breathes a sigh of relief that they aren’t waving Kenyan flags*

  8. Jess

    I’m on MoveOn’s email list just to see what bullshit they peddle. Today there is an outreach/fundraising appeal about the 47 GOP “traitors” who wrote to Iran trying to scuttle the nuclear deal. Gee, I don’t remember any emails about the Dem TPA traitors. Funny how that works.

    1. jo6pac

      Good for you, they finally drop me their list. They would email me about putting an Occupy group together but not in front of some criminal bank but in a public park for punch and cookies. I guess they didn’t like my answer;)

  9. Cugel

    This will blow your mind: Apparently, at least some Germans are waking up to the fact that the horrific images of German cruelty and selfishness so vividly on display recently might not be totally awesome for Germany:

    First, this bitterly satiric German video (with English sub-titles): UNSERE SCHÖNEN DEUTSCHEN EUROS – Our precious German Euros // EUROPA 2015

    Apparently, every line in this satire was quoted from the German daily Blid.

    “I think we Germans should be asked if we want to keep paying!” shouts one. “Sell your islands, you broke Greeks… and the Acropolis too!” screams the other. The sketch, which has already been viewed more than one million times on YouTube, ends with the tagline: “This summer, we Germans have a historic opportunity — not to behave like assholes for once.”

    Then this article appeared which is quoted from Der Spiegel: Backlash brews in Germany over Berlin’s role in Greece debt talks The article itself is from Al Jezeera, but quotes several German news sources.

    German commentators of all political stripes said they feared that Berlin’s “bad cop” stance in Brussels had brought back “ugly German” stereotypes of rigid, brutal rule-enforcers.

    “The German government destroyed seven decades of post-war diplomacy on a single weekend,” news website Spiegel Online said.

    “There is a fine line between saving and punishing Greece. This night the line has disappeared,” tweeted Mathias Mueller von Blumencron of the conservative standard-bearer Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as the details of the German-brokered austerity-for-aid deal emerged Sunday.

    “Merkel managed to revive the image of the ugly, hard-hearted and stingy German that had just begun to fade,” the center-left daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote. “Every cent of aid to Greece that the Germans tried to save will have to be spent two and three times over in the coming years to polish that image again.”
    ‘Humiliate Greece’

    After a Schaeuble proposal for a temporary Greek exit from the euro, or “Grexit,” surfaced over the weekend, spooking Athens and many European partners, the Sueddeutsche asked in an online forum “Is Germany too hard on Greece?” It drew an outpouring of sympathy, along with some criticism, for Athens.

    Spiegel called the package that was finally hammered out a “catalogue of cruelties” that read like a “plan to humiliate Greece.”

    I often wonder if there are any real limits to German arrogance. Given their history, there certainly should be. On the other hand:

    Stelzenmueller warned, however, that Germany’s unique role in Europe meant that even skillful diplomacy would not ensure its popularity.

    “I think that’s the price of power,” she said.

    Translation: “Sometimes you have to march over a road of bones, and you can’t worry about whether people like you or not.”

  10. grayslady

    Couple of interesting additions to the AFT debacle regarding supposed Hillary endorsement:

    1. A petition at Change.org demanding that Weingarten retract the endorsement already has 4700 signatures.
    2. A commenter in the linked article suggests that Weingarten has cut a deal with Hillary to be Sec. of Education if Hillary is elected. May or may not be true, but sounds plausible.

  11. NotSoSure

    Having gone to school and lived in Singapore, Orchard Road is just cluttered with too many malls, a lot of which are offering the same brands, etc. It also doesn’t help people offering new concepts that rents are so high.

  12. Roland

    That article on the colour blue is the sort of pseudo-science I treat very sceptically. How can one be sure that what might have changed over time is not the sensation of colour, but the use of the words? It is far more plausible to me that the meaning of words altered over time, than anything else–words shift meaning quite often and quite rapidly.

    Note that the article makes no attempt to tell us when people did begin to “see blue.” Since, according to the article’s own logic, this would have taken place well within historical times, how come the author fails to even make the effort?

    The article is really based on half-assed etymology and a single anthro study.

    I can do my own half-assed etymology. Who doesn’t like half-assed etymology? It’s sort of fun, and classical sources indulge in it all the time, so we can proceed under the aegis of authority!

    1. Blue (“azure”) is one of the original heraldic colours, so it would seem that the colour was fully recognized and explicitly described by various Eurofolks at least as early as the 13th cent. So there’s a terminus ante quem, at least.

    2. Indigo was imported by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The word applied to the dye was simply, “indikon,” i.e. “the India stuff.”

    This practice of naming was very typical of the ancient Greeks and Romans. For example, the word the ancient Greeks used for their character system loosely translates as, “them Phoenician thingies.” In turn, the Romans called their character system, “alphabetum,” which is quite literally, “that A-B thing.”

    Because there was a wide variety of bluish things to which Greeks or Romans could refer in such a manner, one would have to make a quite careful study to make sure that one is not inadvertently missing many colour references.

    3. The use of purple dye was very ancient in the Mediterranean world, which suggests at the least that those peoples were able to distinguish between purple and red, which in turn suggests an awareness of blue.

  13. Roland

    About the urban combat article: note that the article contradicts itself neatly within a few lines of the passage quoted. What immediately follows:

    “For the successful outcome of an urban combat mission,
    it is necessary that groups contending with a larger enemy force must have powerful weapons, reliable communications, and be well trained in tactics. The last requirement is the most important because insufficiency in tactics negates the value of the rest.”

    What are “powerful weapons” or “reliable communications,” other than technology?

    If you want to say that technology is useless in battle without training or morale, that’s fine, and I fully agree. But that does not at all suggest that technology gives no advantage.

    The US forces were able to engage in a great deal of urban fighting during their conquest of Iraq, while suffering very light casualties for that sort of warfare. The reasons why are mostly technical: e.g. their enemies lacked portable weapons which could penetrate US armoured vehicles or shoot down US aircraft. US troops had body armour which gave good protection against the small arms used by their enemies. No matter how well-executed an urban ambush by insurgents, time and again the lack of effective modern weapons led to their failure against the invaders. Why else were Iraqis eventually forced to depend on the use of passive immobile landmines as their principal tactic?

    In Syria, starting in 2012, rebel forces began receiving modern portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons from a variety of foreign sources (including much Western-made material sent from the Gulf monarchies). If the defenders of Iraq had enjoyed such supplies, the USA would have suffered casualties higher by an order of magnitude.

    Again, don’t get me wrong. Training, discipline, cohesion, morale, and political indoctrination are essential. But training and morale are not enough. When you shoot at the enemy, you must have weapons that can actually kill him.

  14. Oregoncharles

    Does anyone have a link for up-to-date news from the Greek Parliament and Syntagma Square?

  15. Roland

    Note that when I referred to IED’s as “passive,” I meant it in a tactical sense–of course many such devices were detonated by an observer.

    It’s hard to use IED’s to take the fight to the enemy, except when the weapon is vehicle-borne.

    In any case, Iraqis couldn’t fight the USA the way the Chechens fought in Grozny in the 90’s, mostly because of the gap in relative weapons performance. Throughout the Iraq War the USA was able to move armoured forces through Iraqi urban areas without suffering the sort of losses often taken by the less well-protected Russian forces.

    1. Jess

      Very accurate and informative perspective in both of your posts. I would add to your list things like infrared night vision equipment (including on choppers), the ability of the .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle to reliably reach out and touch targets a mile away (again, in nighttime as well day), and medivac ability to limit combat fatalities.

    2. JTMcPhee

      “The US forces were able to engage in a great deal of urban fighting during their conquest of Iraq, while suffering very light casualties for that sort of warfare.” Does that all mean we WON? asks the broke-down Vietnam vet…

      Or is that just more of the self-licking noise that comes from the Imperial war college and the trade press for the MIC?

      Snipers used to be scorned as cowards, when armies met less asymmetrically. But humanity is too far into a species suicide to let honor and all that affect doctrine and tactics and procurement and advancement… Stupid effing humans.

      1. Jack

        The US is essentially unbeatable on a tactical level, at least against those we choose to fight. If worse comes to worse we just call in an airstrike and end a small-arms firefight by turning the enemy into a crater.

        But since real victory “is the creation of a better political reality”, to paraphrase Clausewitz, the US always ends up losing in the end. “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”, to quote Sun Tzu. I don’t know what they’re teaching at places like West Point, but it certainly isn’t sound military thinking.

  16. ewmayer

    Re.. “Canada is undergoing a significant economic adjustment” — ah, is that the latest sanitized term for ‘recession’ deployed by the weasel-wording PTB? Check.


    Obama commutes 46 prison sentences, still shy of estimates | Reuters

    The ‘still shy of the thousands candidate Obama promised’ prompts me to make a math-geek joke: ‘Q: Why is Obama like matrix multiplication? A: Because neither of them commutes!’ Hahahahahaha, a million laughs, I’ll be here the rest of the week, make sure to tip your hostess generously, &c.

  17. blowncue

    Habemus memorandum. You ever feel like this is like that ex-lover who just won’t stop calling you?

  18. Carolinian

    Chris Hedges on Sanders. This bit of Sanders tea leaf reading is worth passing on–could explain why Sanders seems a somewhat tepid revolutionary.

    Hedges said. “And Bernie has cut a Faustian deal with the Democrats. And that’s not even speculation. I did an event with him and Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Kshama Sawant in New York the day before the Climate March. And Kshama Sawant ,the Socialist City Councilwoman from Seattle and I asked Sanders why he wanted to run as a Democrat. And he said — because I don’t want to end up like Nader.”

    “He didn’t want to end up pushed out of the establishment,” Hedges said. “He wanted to keep his committee chairmanships, he wanted to keep his Senate seat. And he knew the forms of retribution, punishment that would be visited upon him if he applied his critique to the Democratic establishment. So he won’t.”

      1. grayslady

        Counterpunch has been desperate to smear Sanders. Every other day the magazine seems to find someone anxious to criticise him. Hedges and Counterpunch are both incapable of starting any type of political movement, although they are keen to encourage some new Ralph Nader to sacrifice him/herself on the altar of political oblivion. It’s a bit like the Marxist academics in Syriza calling for a return to the drachma, but being totally incapable of rounding up the support structure within their own or other parties to make it happen technically or administratively.

        1. jrs

          I don’t think Hedges can start a movement though he’s a good writer. But of course Sanders is also *equally* incapable of starting any type of political movement. No, a movement to “elect me” is NOT a political movement. A political movement isn’t about a single actor or office.

        2. Carolinian

          I suspect that were Sanders ever to become President he might be a lot more like Syriza than you expect. You can’t defeat the powerful by wanting to be part of their clique. This is probably why liberals as a group are so ineffective these days. They still have too much to lose.

          But I agree that it’s probably too early to be gratuitously bashing Sanders (and Nader in the interview seems to be giving him the benefit of a doubt). Lets see what he does. I don’t think there’s much to the “sheepdog” idea unless you believe voters are just sheep.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      An alternative explanation (and the fact that it didn’t occur to Hedges is telling):

      Sanders wants to win. Nader is a loser.*

      * As a Presidential candidate, not as an activist. He also, as I understand it, did no party building, so the Greens were even worse off than before.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        And Team Blue fanatics (sigh…me) did trash Nader instead of Gore, Warren Christopher, and the Clinton political operation.

        Michael Moore’s begging of Nader not to run in ’04 was disgusting.

  19. Danny

    It appears regulators do catch up with the scofflaws who’ve been practicing regulatory arbitrage to build uber-market caps.

    LA Times: Uber should be suspended in California and fined $7.3 million, [administrative law] judge says
    “Uber … took a big blow in its home state Wednesday when an administrative judge recommended that the ride-sharing giant be fined $7.3 million and be suspended from operating in California.

    In her decision, chief administrative law judge Karen V. Clopton of the California Public Utilities Commission contended that Uber has not complied with state laws designed to ensure that drivers are doling out rides fairly to all passengers, regardless of where they live or who they are. She said Uber’s months-long refusal to provide such data is in violation of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing firms.

    Uber said it would appeal. Whether the fine and suspension are enforced will depend on the appeals process, which could take several months.”

    This quote sums it up:
    “Michael Pachter, managing director of equities research at Wedbush Securities, said Uber should start complying now.

    “No amount of bluster is going to get the CPUC off their case,” Pachter said. “You don’t pick a fight with someone who can kick your butt. Uber needs to restrain its hubris.””

    1. VietnamVet

      Uber uses new technology, exploitation and venture capitol to spread 3rd world Jitney transportation to the rest of us. It was common at the beginning of automobile age including California but it was regulated out of existence. This is get rich scheme using a smart phone app and deregulated taxis. If California follows the federal example, Uber will be fined a few millions for violating their regulations but it will continue to operate. The exploitation and risks of jitney transport will remain as the World is divided into corporate run institutional areas and failed states.

  20. Optimader

    A decent SV tech brain candy blog that comes to mind is paul kedrosky’s Infectious Greed eponomyouly found at
    I have a few others bookmarked Which ill pass along when im at a computer.
    Thee notion of a 10bagger is pretty much dreamstate stuff these days unless youre an insider imo.

  21. Danny

    The following piece by the Center for Investigative Reporting is worth reading, especially In light of the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

    Reveal: Obama pledged to reduce nuclear arsenal, then came this weapon

    “How the B61-12 entered the U.S. arsenal of weapons is a tale of the extraordinary influence of the “nuclear enterprise,” as the nuclear weapons complex has rebranded itself in recent years. Its story lies at the heart of the national debate over the ongoing modernization of America’s nuclear weapons, a program projected to cost $348 billion over the next decade.”

    Yes, we still have a nuclear weapons program designing new nuclear weapons to deploy against ….

    1. JTMcPhee

      C’mon, man, this is a JOBS program, just like the F-22-35-43 whatsthenextnumberinthissequence. Lighten up! JOBS programs are all about wealth transfer, no? And it’s not like these things will ever actually be used for destruction, right?

      {Unless the Christianists, who unlike ordinary people and “progressives,” are organized around a potent, seductive, idiotic principle as strange(love)ly as attractive as whatever draws the moths of youthful enthusiasm to ISIS/Daesh, unless those Christianists succeed in the goal of ruling the Air Force… “Military Christianists: America #3 on their loyalty list,” http://crooksandliars.com/2006/12/11/military-christianists-america-3-on-their-loyalty-list (linking a Corrente piece, even).}

      Fun reading for the masochist and psychopath:

      “‘Jesus Loves Nukes’: Air Force Cites New Testament, Ex-Nazi, to Train Officers on Ethics of Launching Nuclear Weapons,” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/2356:jesus-loves-nukes-air-force-cites-new-testament-exnazi-to-train-officers-on-ethics-of-launching-nuclear-weapons#

      But wait! There’s more!


      It’s getting impossible to keep even a fraction of the Dysfunction and Dead-End-ery in mind, and increasingly painful to even try…

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