2:00PM Water Cooler 7/24/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Readers, I have recategorized this section. I had been filing items in candidate- and party-focused buckets, but I think that’s encouraging people discussing their votes or, worse, proselytizing for candidates or even parties. We have Kos, Reddit, and any number of conservative sites for that. I hope this recategorization encourages discussion of policy and structural issues, though I have to confess I love the human interest of the campaign trail, which is in there too. I’m retaining the Clown Car because the stupid! It b-u-r-r-n-n-n-n-s!!!!!


Clinton advisor Teresa “Ghilarducci’s big idea is to create government-run, guaranteed retirement accounts (“GRAs,” for short). Taxpayers would be required to put 5 percent of their annual income into savings, with the money managed by the Social Security Administration. They could only opt out if their employer offered a traditional pension, and they wouldn’t be able to withdraw the money as readily and early as with a 401(k). The government would invest the money and guarantee a rate of return, adjusted to inflation” [National Journal]. Because fiat money is only for banksters.

Push to lift minimum wage now “serious business” [New York Times].


“Barney Frank joins Signature Bank board” [Crains New York]. Ka-ching.

“The Donald has pledged to self-fund his campaign, but his cash position isn’t even close to what he would need to make it to the White House” [Politco].

Tough call whether to file this under “Policy” or “Money,” eh? Clinton’s Wall Street speech:


Legal Troubles

“Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account” [New York Times]. National security stuff, of course, not privatization or corruption. “It is not clear if any of the information in the emails was marked as classified by the State Department when Mrs. Clinton sent or received them.” But since Clinton privatized her server, it’s a fair point that the potential is there.

“Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is rebutting reports that the State Department has formally requested a federal criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State” [The Hill].

UPDATE “The emails in question left government custody and are on both Mrs. Clinton’s personal home email sever as well as a thumb drive of [yes, that] David Kendall, Mrs. Clinton’s personal attorney” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton Sent Classified Information Over Email While at State Department, Review Finds”]. Didn’t know about that thumb drive….

UPDATE As part of close reading of the news, I’ve been saying “note lack of agency” for years. Now WaPo does the same thing, reviewing how the Times altered its headline, lead, and URL (thorough!) for the email story [WaPo].

“Chris Christie Aides Stalling Probe Of Pension Fees Paid To Wall Street: NJ Pension Chief” [International Business Times].

“A state appeals court on Friday threw out one of two charges in a felony abuse-of-power case against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) [Talking Points Memo].

Our Nation’s Capital

“Rising pressure on cable and Internet providers to shift away from the TV bundle — a big source of traditional income — could force cable companies to raise the price of their other products, namely broadband” [WaPo]. Because markets.

“Senate Republicans are pushing a measure to bar the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband Internet rates under its net neutrality rules” [The Hill].

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, July 2015:  “holding steady”   [Bloomberg]. “little change for the manufacturing sector this month, a sector that has been struggling this year and looks to continue to struggle through the second half.”

New Home Sales, June 2015: “[T]he headline plunged 6.8 percent to a far lower-than-expected annual rate of 482,000 and where revisions erased 40,000 from the prior two months. ” [Bloomberg]. But: “I view today’s reading for the typically volatile new home sales data as statistical noise, most likely just a hiccup on the path to a healthier housing sector” [Across the Curve]. And: “Econintersect believes there may be a New Normal seasonality and using data prior to the end of the recession for seasonal analysis could provide the wrong conclusion” [Econintersect].

Coincident indicators: “There is general agreement that the economy is expanding – but most show the rate of growth is flat (not speeding up or slowing down) or decelerating,” although coincident indicators are subject to backward revision. [Econintersect]. “The economy is expanding at main street level.” True on my Main Street, but I always view Maine is the laggingest indicator possible, because we’re marginal and poor. If the wave has reached us, it’s about to recede (although my priors come from the general Maine weltanschauung that a lovely summer means we’ll be terribly punished by winter (“We’ll pay for this”). Do any readers know of a Maine Index?

Median household income: “The apparent decrease in the median by $235 from May 2015 was not statistically significant” [Econintersect].

“Apple Inc.’s cash topped $200 billion for the first time as the portion of money held abroad rose to almost 90 percent, putting more pressure on Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to find a way to use the funds without incurring U.S. taxes” [Bloomberg].

“‘Gold has always had a dual nature as a currency and a commodity,’ [Macquarie Group Ltd] wrote in the report. ‘At present, it is not desired in either form'” [Bloomberg].

“Economic projections prepared by Federal Reserve Board staff as background for the June 16-17, 2015, meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) were inadvertently included in a computer file posted to the Board’s public website on June 29” [Federal Reserve]. Oh?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Sandra Bland: “a number of comments culled from online forums suggest that even in [the police] community, the issue is not one-sided” [HuffPo].

Sandra Bland: Background on Waller County, TX [HuffPo].

Sandra Bland: “[F]rom a citizen’s perspective, it’s often impossible to know what is a lawful order. As a result, it’s often impossible for citizens to know what they can and can’t do during a police encounter” [WaPo]. Loud chorus on comments section: “Just comply!”

Police State

“[President Charles Rice,] president of the U.S. military’s medical college said he took swift action after learning in 2013 that John Henry Hagmann, a former Army doctor teaching there, was injecting students with hypnotic drugs, inducing shock by withdrawing their blood, and performing rectal exams in class” [Reuters]. “[R]ecords reviewed by Reuters, including the university’s own investigation, show that school officials had known of Hagmann’s teaching methods for more than 20 years. The records also show that three faculty members sat in on Hagmann’s course in 2012 but did not alert their superiors.” And: “One former dean even pushed to have Hagmann court-martialed in 1993 over similar allegations, records show.” I’m surprised to find myself doing this, but well done, that Dean. And why “former”? Bring that Dean back and make them President!

“That time the Internet sent a SWAT team to my mom’s house” [Boing Boing]. Hearty thanks to both legacy parties for building the infrastructure that made swatting possible!

“Self-Censoring Font Redacts Words the Feds Are Watching For” [Wired]. Steganographic Roman, Steganographic Bold, Steganographic Italic…. 


“Bank of America, Goldman Sachs Group (GS) and J.P. Morgan Chase are among 22 financial companies accused of colluding to manipulate auctions of U.S. Treasury securities in a lawsuit filed by investors” [Pensions and Investments]. “The $4.1 billion State-Boston Retirement System alleged the so-called primary dealers used electronic chat rooms and instant messages to inflate the prices of Treasuries they sold to investors and to deflate the prices they paid for those Treasuries at auction.” Why, the ingratitude! After all we did for them in the bailouts!

“Members of Congress, influential government contractors and high-ranking federal officials have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to managing the country’s nuclear weapons research and design facilities” [Reveal]. 


“Former Vice President Al Gore said this month that drilling for new sources of oil in the harsh Arctic conditions was ‘insane'” [Truthdig]. Obama cleared it.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which looks to cut emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030, is expected to hit coal-fired power plants especially hard” [The Hill]. So Big Coal CEOs are hysterical, but that’s a good thing. Kudos to Obama on this, at least.

“With care, offsets can help to reconcile development and conservation. But if they allow governments to renege on their commitments by stealth, biodiversity offsets could cause more harm than good” [Nature].

“After more than 30 years of side-by-side research in our Farming Systems Trial (FST), Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future” [Rodale Institute].

“Researchers identify plant cultivation in a 23,000-year-old site in the Galilee” [Eurekalert].

Our Famously Free Press

“It’s expensive to persuade someone to believe something that isn’t true. Persuading someone that _nothing_ is true, that every “fact” represents a hidden agenda, is a far more efficient way to paralyze citizens and keep them from acting. It’s a dark art, one with a long past in Russia and in the US, and one we’re now living with online” [Ethan Zuckerman].

Class Warfare

Sad unicorns: “[A]mid a sea of headlines about billion-dollar valuations are many thousands of employees who stand to lose countless millions of dollars unless companies start to go public, or else sell to an acquirer” [TechCrunch].

“A single mother was placed under arrest by Houston police and later released after being accused of abandoning her children at a mall food court while she interviewed for a job just 30 feet away” [Raw Story]. But if she gets the job she’ll be able to afford a nanny!

“Pluto scientists were masters of the long haul – here’s how people stick with extremely long-term goals” [The Conversation]. Elites and the right clearly know how to do this. Does the left? For some definition of left?

“Universities have hired a bevy of academic administrators, paid handsomely, to handle the myriad structural and political demands of the modern multiversity: increasing graduation rates, maximizing student success, coordinating strategic planning, and conducting program reviews. As the number of well-paid administrators increased, there was less money available to hire tenure-track faculty. Courses still had to be taught, and hiring adjunct faculty became an academic godsend” [Belt (TG)]. Must read on adjunct organizing. Somebody should tell Belt their fershuggeneh fundraising pop-up can’t be closed on OS X in Firefox or Vivaldi. I had to read it in Safari.

News of the Wired

“Web Design: The First 100 Years” [Idle Words]. The 1995 page style is a design statement. This is a great talk, well worth reading, especially if you want framing for why the glibertarian squillionaires who run Silicon Valley are bonkers.

“NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star” [Science Daily]. Hopefully we’ll deal with climate change, and Gaia will get the Ekumen to lift the Galactic Quarantine….

Kepler-452b already has a Wikipedia entry [Wikipedia].

“Four-legged fossil snake is a world first” [Nature]. And now for the two-legged ones….

“Who, What, Why: Is it safer to cook rice in a coffee percolator to avoid arsenic?” [BBC] (original).

“This year, a start-up launched that lets lonely souls buy a text message-based significant other. Called Invisible Boyfriend or Girlfriend—depending on your gender of choice—the start-up relies on thousands of crowd-sourced workers to write messages to its customers. Each ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ is not a single person, but instead a rotating cast of workers being paid 5 cents per message to bring the lover created by the customer to life” [Fusion]. Deskilling emotional labor… 

“Your Startup’s Pitch Needs Only These 10 Slidees” [Guy Kawasaki, Inc]. Froth.

“[C]lose reading stimulates many more areas of the brain” than casual reading [Open Culture]. The study is of Jane Austen, but applies to modern media as well. “Early modern writers were just as aware of—and as concerned about—the problem of inattention as contemporary critics, Phillips argues, “amidst the print-overload of 18th-century England.” This sounds a lot like McLuhan’s distinction between “hot” and “cool” media; I’m picturing close reading being “hot” in that more energy is expended, and assuming casual reading is a lot more like watching TV, passively. So know we know why the humanities are good for people… 

* * *

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:


American bellflower, an Iowa wildflower (via Bleeding Heartland).

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. jrs

    Alright policy. At a certain point does one really even want to know what the new thing they have for us to bend over for is? So WHERE is the money going to be “invested” in these new retirement plans. Yes I know it’s possible to have a retirement plan without investing, it would be something like social security. But if that’s what they wanted they could just increase social security, not propose a new plan (yes even increase funding but not while it covers current outgo at least). A new plan rather than expanded social security is entirely unnecessary so by proposing one they are up to no good. That money is going to WALL STREET one way or other.

    Trump: no experience or qualifications for the job whatsoever, openly sleazy, foot in mouth disease, but people would still prefer him to the slimemolds emerging out of the Washington cesspool.

    1. Uahsenaa

      The part that confuses me is that what the NJ article describes sounds like SS but with slightly different rules (larger contribution, no cap like with the current payroll tax). If that’s the case, then why not just change the SS rules and be done with it–oh, I know why: Congress. Silly me…

    2. Brindle

      The optics of this look like part of Clinton’s feint left—for the base of the Dem party:

      —For the Clinton campaign, Ghilarducci offers significant benefits, too. As Clinton tries to move away from the centrist economic legacy of her husband’s administration, with its welfare reform and deregulation of banks, Ghilarducci offers a fresh take—and a fresh face—on economic-policy debates long dominated by a small, sharp-elbowed cast of white men who have advised the Clinton or Obama administrations.—

    3. Oldeguy

      Actually, the Social Security tax money is going to pay current recipients and the excess is skimmed off into General Revenue with a promise to repay the SSA.
      Hillary’s proposal certainly looks like a 5% of all wages feed to Wall Street and a backdoor to the eventual turning of the Social Security Program into an increasingly cash starved means tested Welfare Program to serve “the truly needy” elderly and thus erode its broadly based political support.
      It’s easy to imagine the Middle Class morphing into Neo-Lib CNBC addicts as Wall Street becomes an “Us” rather than a “Them”.
      This has the potential to benefit Wall Street more than anything being floated in the GOP Clown Car.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Idea: Have a “Retirement Marketplace” just like a “Health Insurance Marketplace” and make Social Security the retirement “public option” that progressives love so much!

    4. DJG

      Ghilarducci on pensions: Two problems. First, I’m from Chicago. I know Jane Addams. Hillary Clinton is no Jane Addams. Sheesh. So we see right away that Ghilarducci is infected with the current disease, desperation-to-be-quotable.

      Second, what’s wrong with Social Security? She’s talking about replacing Social Security, and there’s no way around the implications of Ghilarducci’s 5 percent plan. Social Security would have to go. Or maybe we could lower the age to collect benefits and raise the monthly payments? Naaah. No chance to skim the program. Which is what she is proposing, just one more skimmable program instead of an effective program.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    RE: ‘Loud chorus on comments section: “Just comply!”’

    Amazing that so many who would consider themselves “brave ‘Muricans” have developed this peasant mentality. Every time I check the comments on a police brutality article it’s the same chorus. May be time to reread ‘A Nation of Sheep‘. Read it the first time because it was on my parents’ bookshelf; evidently it was required reading in high school back in the 60s. High time it was again.

    1. EGrise

      As the legend goes, Germans are notoriously incapable of revolution. Nobody mocked them better than Lenin. “If the Germans staged a revolution at the train station, they would buy tickets for the platform first,” the Bolshevik leader once said.

      …or in our case, comply with the orders of the station guards. I wonder how bad things will have to get before we (Americans) change?

    2. shinola

      An uncle who was once with the L.A. county sheriffs dept. warned my cousin, my bother & me to always act respectfully if stopped by a cop because: “Some of these guys just want to hold a gun in one hand and their d*ck in the other.”
      You don’t know if the cop you’re dealing with is a decent guy just doing his job or one of “those guys.”
      Still good advice.

      1. shinola

        Forgot to mention: I am a WASP.
        I can’t even imagine being stopped if I was a “beaner” or “DFN”

    3. lyman alpha blob

      More peasant mentality, at least in the headline: ‘Tipped Employees in Portland say wage hike could hurt‘.

      This was front page top of the fold in the print version staring out from every paperbox in the city today. The Portland City council inadvertently raised the tipped minimum wage in its efforts to bring the non-tipped minimum up over $10/hr in city limits and now the sky is falling. “Please don’t pay me any more, I wouldn’t know what to do all these green paper thingies!”

      Granted the article does a decent job of mentioning the pros of a wage hike, but how many people read the whole thing as opposed to just the headline as they walk by? And while it does quote one waiter who worked in a state where the wage for tipped workers was high, it doesn’t go far enough. It could have mentioned the several states which for decades, by state law, have had the same minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped workers. And guess what, they all have plenty of restaurants. The original screw up would have only raised the tipped minimum in Portland to $6.35 an hour (the Greens are now proposing an even higher minimum evidently, but that’s a separate issue).

      I waited tables in WA state 20 years ago and was paid $7.15/hr way back then which was the state minimum at the time, about $2/hr higher than the federal minimum IIRC, and nobody stopped tipping me and restaurants certainly weren’t going out of business due to high wages. Doesn’t take much math to figure out the a small, barely noticeable price increase per menu item would more than make up a $2.60/hr wage increase and have some left over for extra profit for the owners. People aren’t going to stop eating out because their burger has suddenly gone up in price a quarter.

      But what fun would it be if the chamber of commerce couldn’t do their chicken little act?

  3. Uahsenaa

    As contingent faculty myself, I can second everything in the piece on Maria Maisto. She’s great, and we’re both survivors of Comp Lit!

    What I can add, though, is how the administrative explosion over the past dozen or so years has created an environment university wide that slows getting anything done simply because there’s so much busy work to do. My spouse, for instance, who works in the uni main library, now spends probably a good third of her job writing documentation of what her job is, so as to justify her continued existence to layer upon layer of budget and oversight committees as well as profoundly hostile mid rank administrators who only care about their particular metrics. Time that could otherwise be spent, say, dealing with donors, helping faculty with instruction, assisting students with research, doing outreach is now taken up with forms and extensive writeups saying what all that is for people who, quite often, don’t have the first clue what education is about.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Max Weber meets Max Headroom, in the administrators’ lounge. It just grows…

      Speaking of administrators and management of complex processes, aybe you’ve seen this insane “graph” before: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/flgi4b/afghanistan-stability-chart Here’s the NYT bit on it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meghan-ohara/diagram-of-a-war-strategy_b_555389.html The thing I most love about it is that it was a work-for-hire by a British Consultancy that, after being paid millions to polish it up, had the cheek to claim a copyright on it (check the bottom corner).

      To extend the comparison: But that slide was child’s play compared to the three-foot wall chart the military uses to explain its gajillion-step process for developing, buying, and maintaining gear. The “Integrated Acquisitions Technology and Logistics Life Cycle Management” diagram is kind of a precis to the whole interminable progression, from “decompose concept functional definition into component concepts & assessment objective” to “execute support program that meets materiel readiness and operational support performance requirements and sustains system in most cost-effective manner.” Stare long enough, and you’ll start to see why it takes a decade for the Defense Department to buy a tanker plane, or why marines are still reading web pages with Internet Explorer 6.

      The chart is put out by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisitions University, where the Pentagon educates 180,000 people a year on its, um, unique process for purchasing equipment.

      “You ever read Superman comic books?” Eric Edelman, the former Pentagon policy chief, once asked me. “Well, acquisitions is like the Bizarro universe. Everything is reversed; the world is square, not round.”

      Allow me to disagree. This world has no simple shape. From the looks of this chart, it’s a twisting, endlessly-recursive, M.C. Escher-on-LSD three-dimensional hedge maze. Actually, it’s kind of amazing our troops have any gear at all. http://www.wired.com/2010/09/revealed-pentagons-craziest-powerpoint-slide-ever/

      What’s the object of the game, again?

  4. DJG

    With regard to the habitable planet, Kepler 452b, all you have to do is take a look at the Drake equation, plug in a couple of low values, and you end up with our dilemma as earthlings, now confirmed by this sighting. Yes, there is life in the universe on some planets other than Earth. But these planets are very far away–Kepler 452b is some 1400 light-years away. Even if we start to decipher signals from an intelligent civilization there (don’t put a value in the Drake equation that’s too low for techno development), they would be signals that are 1400 years old.

    We’d all like Zaphod Beeblebrox to show up here, but it just isn’t likely. We are “virtually” alone, maybe “essentially alone” is a better expression, which is why saving the planet is all that much more urgent. (See the spate of recent articles about how unlikely a mission to Mars with humans aboard, yes, our red neighbor Mars, will be.)

    1. Yves Smith

      We have a very narrow conceputalization of what and where intelligent life might be. What if stars are intelligent? They’d have to operate on very different time scales than we do. Why does it even have to be what we recognize as corporeal?

      1. Oregoncharles

        “Whipping Star,” by frank Herbert. Pretty good, not his best. There’s darn little that hasn’t appeared in SF somewhere.

        1. ambrit

          Also, “Out of the Silent Planet” by C S Lewis.
          For the more outre minded, “The Mind Parasites” by Colin Wilson.
          Not only wasn’t there much not thought up by Sci Fi and Horror writers, but it has been suggested that many UFO reports were influenced by early exposure to Sci Fi and Horror themes that became ‘background’ noise in the psyches of the reporters of said phenomena. Life imitating art equals pseudo life I guess.

  5. allan

    Schumer has $19.8 million for 2016 race

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer ended June with $19.8 million in campaign cash for his 2016 re-election campaign, with no sign that any prominent Republican is interested in running against him in New York.

    The 64-year-old Brooklyn Democrat even has a larger campaign stash than any candidate running for president next year, with the exception of Schumer’s former Senate colleague from New York, Hillary Clinton, with $28.85 million.

    The good news is that this gives Chuck the freedom to support reining in Wall Street and support the Iran deal, amirite?

    1. DanB

      “The good news is that this gives Chuck the freedom to support reining in Wall Street and support the Iran deal, emirate?” Well, tut,tut, Senator Warren begs to disagree with your sarcasm: “Warren dismissed the idea that Schumer was too closely affiliated with the financial industry in a recent NPR interview, undercutting the notion that she could lead any liberal discontent with Schumer due to his ties to the financial industry.” (Warren is my senator and shoveling such BS to defend Schumer calls her worldview and motives into question -in my opinion, which my friends think is overwrought “because Liz in on our side” and not to be criticized.)

  6. Jack

    I’m waiting for Haygood to step in and tell us how awesome and what a sound investment gold is, contrary to the evidence.

    1. Vatch

      Just about all commodities are down now, not just gold. It’s best to try keeps one’s investments diversified, so that a plunge in one category won’t completely wipe out a person’s entire portfolio. Durable commodities such as gold, copper, and silver have an advantage over stocks. The price of a stock can fall to zero (Enron, Worldcom, GM, etc.), but that won’t happen with the metals. And dividend paying stocks have an advantage over commodities, because gold and copper don’t make quarterly payments to anyone.

    2. Jim Haygood

      In response to the WSJ’s ‘pet rock’ snark, and more piling on by other journos, I commented that you can usually buy when sentiment is so negative.

      What evidence do you speak of — that gold has fallen 40% in three years? Tech stocks fell 80% during 2000-2003, but are back near record highs.

      Volatility does not determine investment merit. An asset that gets beaten down enough (but can’t go bankrupt) eventually becomes cheap enough to buy.

      My gold model has not turned positive yet. When it does, I’ll let you know, so you can back up the truck and scrabble them shiny nuggets into the bed till your hands bleed.

    3. SubjectivObject

      No, gold is definitely not a good “investment”, because, in the implied context for an investment, there is no authentic “market” for trading it. For gold (and silver), there are, effectively, only interventions by central banks, and ergo, by your governments. This is so because any appreciation of gold, whether emotionally or financially, attacks the psychological confidence in that central bank’s, that government’s, local fiat currency.


      So, in light of the evident concerted repression of the precocious metals by the extant corporape bankster hegemoniacs and their aparatchiks in government, it may relevant to wonder where value can/will lie once their house of cards cracks.

    4. BobW

      Maybe I should buy some silver before the price goes negative and we have to pay not to have any.

  7. shinola

    “Web Design: The First 100 Years” is a very interesting article. I’d mark it as a Must Read.

    Read it in the context of crapification.

  8. DJG

    Web design, the first 100 years: A great tribute to the 747, which is still an astounding machine. The 757, too. And the Airbus 320. But as Maciej C points out, they are knockoffs of the 747.

    Much of the rest of the talk points out people who are desperate to be too clever by half instead of building something that is serviceable and that doesn’t cause undue technical troubles. I’m reminded of this at so many restaurants these days, with their blueberry charlottes made by cloistered nuns in Greenland and the artisanal beer with hops from Newfoundland and essence of scotch bonnet peppers grown by lumbersexuals in Oaxaca. You can have machines that work and food to eat, or you can have P.T. Barnum all over again.

    And the Singularity? That’s just good old American religion meeting software. Amazing Grace 2.0. And about as equally intellectually honest.

    1. Jess

      747 is the best commercial aircraft ever built. Newer models have been reconfigured with just a two-person crew, rather than the original three.

  9. PQS

    Just comply, indeed….I would like one so-called conservative to explain to me how “just do what the police say” isn’t tyranny yet paying your taxes somehow IS.

    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      I’d love to see a Venn diagram of those who own a gun (or a lot of guns) because of “government tyranny!’ and those who side with the police in all these cops-out-of-control incidents.

      1. ambrit

        You would have to include a third area consisting of people gunning up because they are afraid of everyone, in uniform and out.

  10. Desperate Measures

    Each ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ is not a single person, but instead a rotating cast of workers being paid 5 cents per message to bring the lover created by the customer to life” [Fusion]. Deskilling emotional labor…

    No. Outsourcing emotional labor. No reason that this can’t be done by guest workers in Qatar. Because comparative advantage.

  11. Benedict@Large

    After 6 attempts (and 6 crashes) to access the Matthew Rose article:

    Internet Explorer has stopped trying to restore this website. It appears that the website continues to have a problem.


    I’m completely vanilla Microsoft/Internet Explorer. I accessed Links and Water Cooler without problem. Thanks for your attention.

  12. jgordon

    I just had a thought. On the off-chance Hillary does become president, wouldn’t Chinese et al hackers have a field day with her new private servers? Hillary could be quite a boon for those seeking to gracefully manage the empire on its way down, not to mention Wikileaks of course.

    1. lambert strether

      I’m still reeling from some of the files being on her lawyer’s thumb drive.

  13. Peter Pan

    Regarding the category of “Our Famously Free Press”, I wonder how the authors would perceive NC in line with the statement “that every “fact” represents a hidden agenda.”

    This is what NC does everyday (PE for example) albeit not through some government sponsored MSM channel.

    From a political point of view it also made me think of Sibel Edmonds, who was the third person to receive the Sam Adams Award of whistle-blower from the USA intelligence community.

    Here is a link to a fairly recent audio interview of her that I found interesting (sorry to the moderators for the extra work).


    1. LifelongLib

      Even Noam Chomsky says he goes to mainstream sources like the New York Times for “facts” — what happened where. He just ignores their analysis of the facts. And I. F. Stone said something along the lines that you could always find the truth in an American newspaper, it’s just that it was often buried in a paragraph on page 16.

  14. Oregoncharles

    “how people stick with extremely long-term goals” [The Conversation]. Elites and the right clearly know how to do this. Does the left? For some definition of left?”

    No one else responded to this?

    From my own experience, a couple of things:

    First, for a long game you need an institution. Whether it’s a political party or a service organization, there have to be roles people can step in and out of. Of course, you can still get it wrong. so luck is required, as well. The institution has to be truly self-directing, and flexible enough to adapt.

    Second: wide coalitions aren’t sustainable. The first group I joined came out of the Battle in Seattle, so anti-globalization ( note that we’re still fighting this battle, and still losing). It was a very wide coalition, anarchists to unionists. And it tore itself apart: those two don’t get along. Similarly for Occupy: anarchists to Democrats. They did surprisingly well, but both ends kept them from addressing the election, and they couldn’t agree on “demands” or even a plan. Lots of good spinoffs, but not itself sustainable.

    Podemos is the Indignados getting serious.

  15. Gabriel

    May I apply some square-bracketed translations to the excerpt from the piece on adjunct faculty organizing?
    “Universities have hired a bevy of academic administrators, paid handsomely, to handle the myriad structural and political demands of the modern multiversity: increasing graduation rates [gaming the admissions process], maximizing student success [grade inflation], coordinating strategic planning [f*ck-all], and conducting program reviews [making faculty fight each other other for funding] in their place.”

    As it happens, am currently re-reading Heller’s Catch-22, really The Great American novel to an extent I couldn’t appreciate before living and working in the country. Re administrators, see:

    When fellow administrative officers expressed astonishment at Colornel Cathcart’s choice of Major Major, Captain Black muttered that there was something funny going on; when they speculated on the political value of Major Major’s resemblance to Henry Fonda, Captain Black asserted that Major Major really was Henry Fonda; and when they remarked that Major Major was somewhat odd, Captain Black announced that he was a Communist.

    “They’re taking over everything,” he declared rebelliously. “Well, you fellows can stand around and let them if you want to, but I’m not going to. I’m going to do something about it. From now on I’m going to make every son of a bitch who comes to my intelligence tent sign a loyalty oath. And I’m not going to let that bastard Major Major sign one even if he wants to.”

    Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.

    Without realizing how it had come about, the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them. They were bullied, insulted, harassed and shoved about all day long by one after the other. When they voiced objection, Captain Black replied that people who were loyal would not mind signing all the loyalty oaths they had to. To anyone who questioned the effectiveness of the loyalty oaths, he replied that people who really did owe allegiance to their country would be proud to pledge it as often as he forced them to. And to anyone who questioned the morality, he replied that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was the greatest piece of music ever composed. The more loyalty oaths a person signed, the more loyal he was; to Captain Black it was as simple as that, and he had Corporal Kolodny sign hundreds with his name each day so that he could always prove he was more loyal than anyone else.

    “The important thing is to keep them pledging,” he explained to his cohorts. “It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what ‘pledge’ and ‘allegiance’ means.”

    To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of “Continual Reaffirmation” that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to m ake each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.

    “Of course, it’s up to you,” Captain Black pointed out. “Nobody’s trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it’s going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don’t care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that’s nobody’s business but your own. All we’re trying to do is help.”

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