2:00PM Water Cooler 8/27/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“[Sanders] said Wednesday that the Postal Service caused a “disaster that is negatively impacting Americans all over this country” when it shuttered more than 140 mail-sorting plants and slowed delivery times to cut costs” [WaPo]. He’s right. We should be setting up Post Office banks, like Warren suggested, not degrading the Post Office so privatizers can feast on the remains.

Clinton and McAullife call for gun restrictions [Think Progress].

“Hillary blames Virginia news-crew shooting on guns being too ‘readily available’ – just after touring community college machine shop where students learn gunsmithing” [Daily Mail].

“Trump Puts a Serious Wall Street Issue on the Table: Hedge Fund Carried Interest” [Bloomberg]. Issues are oldthink, Bloomberg!


“Mr. Sanders has raised more money in gifts of $200 or less than any candidate, Democrat or Republican, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows. A huge chunk of his money — $11.4 million, or about 75 percent of all his contributions — has come from small donations routed through ActBlue, an online site that facilitates contributions to Democrats, records show” [New York Times].

“CBS correspondent Julianna Goldman reported Tuesday that some in Biden world believe they can raise $25 million to $30 million” [Wall Street Journal, “Funding Options for a Biden 2016 Campaign”]. I have yet to see anybody give a good reason why Biden should run. But insiders think so. Therefore, it would seem they have a reason that we don’t know about. Ticked off worker bees at State stashed something away? And see What Does Joe Biden Know? 

The Voters

“Since 2006, there have only been seven public polls (out of thousands) showing that more people believe the country is generally headed in the right direction than the wrong direction. In recent years, the “right-track” optimists have rarely hit even the 30 percent mark” [National Journal]. Political class, in chorus: “Let’s run two dynasties against each other!” Works, until it doesn’t.

“Georgia County Admits To Illegally Disenfranchising Voters” [Think Progress]. ” To make sure the problems do not continue in the future, the county has promised to spend an additional $200,000 on new training software for their poll workers.”

The Trail

“Trump Telling GOP Brass He Will Forgo A Third-Party Run: Sources” [HuffPo].

“Sanders huddled with advisers at his home here Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level” [WaPo].

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2015: “The second-quarter did show a big bounce after all, up at a revised annualized growth rate of 3.7 percent which is 5 tenths over the Econoday consensus and just ahead of the high estimate” [Bloomberg]. “The impact of today’s report on Fed policy for September’s FOMC is likely to be minimal. Focus at the upcoming meeting will be on the state of the global financial markets and, very importantly, the strength of next week’s employment report for August.” And: “GDP revisions generally do not cause a ripple in the marketplace. That is not the case today as the revision of Q2 GDP manifests an economy in much better shape than initially believed. That suggests strong momentum as Q3 began” [Across the Curve].

Corporate Profits, Q2 2015: “Corporate profits in the second quarter came in at $1.824 trillion, up a year-on-year 7.3 percent” [Bloomberg]. But: “Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $33.9 billion in the second quarter, in

contrast to a decrease of $23.4 billion in the first.  Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations

increased $16.5 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $70.5 billion” [BEA].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2015: “Factory activity in the Kansas City Fed’s region remains in deep contraction” [Bloomberg]. “This report speaks to significant distress for the region which is getting hit by the oil-led fall in commodity prices. Taken together, regional reports have been mixed to soft so far this month, pointing to slowing for a factory sector that got a bit boost from the auto sector in June and July. The Dallas Fed report, which like this one has been badly depressed, will be posted on Monday.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 23, 2015: “The global markets aren’t holding down the consumer comfort index which is up for a second straight week” [Bloomberg]. Consumer Sentiment tomorrow.

Pending Home Sales Index, July 2015: “Pending home sales came in at the low end of expectations” [Bloomberg]. “[P]ositive but far from exceptional, pointing to no more than moderate growth ahead for existing home sales.”

Jobless Claims, week of August 22, 2015: “Unemployment remains very low with initial claims down” [Bloomberg]. “All the readings in this report are very low and suggest that remaining slack in the labor market [such as it is] is very thin.” And: “Claim levels remain near 40 year lows” [Econintersect].

The Fed: “Mind the Gap: Assessing Labor Market Slack” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Direct measures of slack, however, are not available and must be constructed. Here, we build on our previous work using the employment-to-population (E/P) ratio and develop an updated measure of labor market slack based on the behavior of labor compensation. Our measure indicates that roughly 90 percent of the labor gap that opened up following the recession has been closed.”

The Fed: “Second Fed rate hike delay this year slowly getting more official” [Reuters]. December, it now seems. But depriving the 1% of free money during the holiday season would be bad. They need to buy gifts!

“Back in January, I predicted that total 2015 bankruptcy filings for the U.S. would be “somewhere around 800,000.” Revisiting that prediction, the numbers seem right on track to meet it” [Credit Slips].

The Fed: “[Big-time hedgie Ray] Dalio argued [that the Fed] may ultimately be forced to reverse course. He compared the central bank’s predicament to the one it faced during the mid nineteen-thirties, when it raised rates only to do an about-turn as the economy fell into another slump [The New Yorker]. “[T]he Fed, rather than tightening policy (that is, raising rates), might well end up easing instead—purchasing bonds and pumping money into the financial system.”

Mr. Market

“Assessing just how large the bubble has grown in U.S. markets as a result of the Fed’s zero-bound interest rate strategy since December 2008, Tan Teng Boo, founder and CEO of Capital Dynamics appeared on a Bloomberg Television segment this morning and summed up our new market bubble in a few words. Boo said just five U.S. stocks — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon  — are worth more than the Frankfurt, Germany stock market, which represents the fourth largest economy in the world” [Wall Street on Parade]. “All five of these stocks have one thing in common: they all trade on the Nasdaq stock market. That’s the market that gave you the 2000 bust that erased $4 trillion from investors’ pockets in dot-com and tech blowups as well as the stock market that oversaw a massive price rigging cartel for more than a decade.”

“Just over half of Americans say they are invested in the stock market, but their direct stock holdings are small, making up only 14% of household balance sheets”  [The Economist, ” How exposed are American households to the stock market?”]

“Hedge-fund managers like to promise their investors protection from market swings. In the recent stock swoon, many were caught off guard” [Wall Street Journal, “Hedge Funds Bruised by Stocks’ Meltdown”]. “That is a hit to an industry that has for years excused its relative underperformance compared with benchmarks by promising that collections of bets on and against markets—a so-called long/short strategy—would insulate the impact of any future market gyrations.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Rhode Island Church Taking Unusual Step to Illuminate Its Slavery Role” [New York Times]. Excellent. More like this, please.

“A guide to debunking ‘black-on-black crime’ and all of its rhetorical cousins” [Fusion]. Nice round-up.


Malysia: After a talk with USTR Michael Froman, “International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said Monday that he has yet to see ‘the light at end of the tunnel’ in areas of dispute for Malaysia. These include state-owned enterprises, labor and Bumiputera rights — privileges granted to ethnic Malays considered economically weaker than the minority ethnic Chinese” [Malayian Reserve]. On Bumiputera: As careful NC readers already know.

Japan, Op-Ed by Supachai Panitchpakdi, former director general of the WTO: “The truth is that the TPP is a second-best option for Asia that will create significant adjustment problems, especially for smaller countries. The priority for Asia should be the [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership], and if the U.S. and other countries want closer trading relations with Asian countries, it should be in that context” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “[The RCEP] pact that would include China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand as well as the ASEAN countries.”


Obama Presidential Library selecting architects: “We’re not asking them for a design. We’re trying to get to know them,” says a consultant to the project [WaPo]. How cozy. 

The Obama Center will have an interactive museum about the president and his administration, expansive green space with community gardens and “quiet spots for passing the white envelopes reflection,” indoor and outdoor performance space, education programs, healthy dining for visitors, talent labs and offices for the Obama Foundation, officials said.

Ka-ching. I wonder what on earth the “talent labs” are for? 

Chicago pension officials turn to consultants Callan Associations to find out where to place $11 billion in teachers retirement funds. Callan associates recommends Bank of New York Mellon [Business Insider]. As it turns out, Callan is on the Mellon payroll, and Mellon itself is run by crooks. Ka-ching.


“Sea Levels Are 3 Inches Higher Than They Were in 1992” [Time]. That’s pretty fast for geological time.

“A retired couple hoped to save money by going solar, but after 11 months, their solar panels were never activated, and their bills were never lowered. The problem? The panels were creating too much­ power” [NBC].

“The washing away of Cajun culture” [BBC]. Katrina. 


Trudeau talks sense on ZOMG teh debt!!!!!!!!!! deficit spending [The Star]. Empowering fiscal policy, wotta concept. How come NDP bought into the neo-liberal line on this?

Police State

“First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist: [Daily Beast].

“The Minneapolis Police Department is discontinuing prostitution stings following three criminal cases being dismissed in the last month due to the officers engaging in sexual activities with the sex workers” [Photography is Not a Crime]. Shoulda used drones!

Wretched Excess

“Nazi Treasure Train Hunt: Significant Find Confirmed in Poland” [NBC]. Make up your own jokes!

Class Warfare

“Holocaust exposure induced intergenerational effects on FKBP5 methylation” [Biological Psychiatry]. “This is the first demonstration of transmission of pre-conception parental trauma to child associated with epigenetic changes in both generations, providing a potential insight into how severe psychological trauma can have intergenerational effects.” And: “The idea is controversial, as scientific convention states that genes contained in DNA are the only way to transmit biological information between generations. However, our genes are modified by the environment all the time, through chemical tags that attach themselves to our DNA, switching genes on and off” [Guardian].

“Getting Murdered At Work Is Incredibly Common In The U.S.” [Think Progress].

News of the Wired

Trademark Litigation Attorney Needed – Contingency Fee Case [Another Word for It].

“Recovering from the Wrong Abstraction” [The Chainline]. “When the abstraction is wrong, the fastest way forward is back.” The context is programming, but I can’t help but think the moral of the story has wider application…. 

“How security flaws work: The buffer overflow” [Ars Technica].

“How babies are REALLY made: Researchers find sperm use a tiny ‘harpoon’ to attach themselves to eggs” [Daily Mail].

“The many feuds of Donald Trump, diagrammed” [WaPo]. Who designed this? The guy they fired from Bloomberg after the redesign fiasco?

“The Cinematic Lost Cause” [Jacobin]. This Jacobin issue is unusually strong, even for Jacobin.

George R.R. Martin fields reader questions [Not a Blog].

“‘Tsundoku,’ the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language” [Open Culture]. I have a bad case of Tsundoku. To name a few, in no particular order:

  1. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (Dorothy Roberts)
  2. Shadow & Claw: The First Half of ‘The Book of the New Sun” (Gene Wolfe)
  3. The Anatomy of Revolution (Crane Brinton)
  4. A Brief History of Neoliberalism (David Harvey)
  5. Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All (Costas Lapavitsas)
  6. Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History (Ian Baucom)

(To be fair, there are many other books I have finished, and I’ve read bits of all of these!) 

Readers, what are your tsundoku?

* * *

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 (Optimader):


Optimader: “[P]runed back old espalier.” I have seen pruning make an immense difference in yield, but the pruner needs to know what they’re doing. I think the concept to understand is apical dominance, but readers will correct me.

Bonus video (optimader):

Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Spike, the Titan Arum” (Corpse Flower) live, as it were.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. This is turning into a tough month, and I need to keep my server up!


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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. sufferinsuccotash

    Tsundoku: Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity, by Daniel Stolzenberg; The Invaders: How Humans and their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, by Pat Shipman (instruction manual for dealing with neoliberalism); Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany: The Franco-Prussian War of 1813, by Michael V. Leggiere.

    1. craazyman

      wow those sound like massive time wasting tomes.

      that’s what a book should be.

      I’m tryiing to read math books but there aren’t any I”m not actually reading. I have too much discipline. You can’t read them fast.

      For example, it’s not enitrely impossible to understand Einstein’s equation for time dilation as a moving body like a satellite orbits earth. Actually it’s a simple equation and it’s very fascinating. Candidly, freshmen college kids can learn it in calculus class. but somebody had to think of it the first time. that’s like “Shit!” whoa!

      I’m at the point, after reading lots of books, that reading just a couple pages of math is quite interesting now to me. IT’s not advanced math, I donn’t want to pretend it is because it isn’t. But it’s really quite solid stuff. It’s not just something that changes with changes in perception (actually it is, but that’s another topic for another time. I have deep thoughts about that). It’s something that just “is”. That is quite remarkable. So the books, they go very slowly now. Even 7 pages in one day. That’s quite a lot. Even one page, that’s sometimes an hour. sometimes one page is a full day of absent minded contemplation (I have to work too, so that intrudes). But then you know. Then that’s like standing on solid ground, on a mountain top. And you just smile. That’s pretty cool.

    2. efschumacher

      TsunDoku: Strangers and Pilgrims, Travelers and Sojourners, by Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs. An incredibly detailed tome about what exactly was going on in Leiden in the first half of the 17th Century. I got a third of the way through it before switching to that other great unread work, The Dutch Republic, by Jonathan Israel. These are great antidotes to the common run of Plymouth Pilgrim hagiography.

      I had a long engaging conversation with Jeremy Bangs at the American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden a year or two ago. Well worth a visit for the man and his sardonic spirit.

  2. craazyboy

    Frak Christmas. Now we can put the September rate hike in Lambert’s tip jar!

    hahaha. Just kidding. Spend away, folks.

  3. diptherio

    Under “Corruption,” the BONY-Mellon story that should go to BI, instead goes to GRRM’s blog.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, fixed.

      Adding, I am having some sort of weird copy problem, where the first copy does not “take,” and only the second copy does (which is why I sometimes paste a link quote as the link URL, since (after over 20 years of using the Mac, it doesn’t occur to me to check whether the right text has been copied). I don’t know whether it’s that my touch is too light, or its a keyboard problem, or it’s an OS X Yosemite problem. Whatever it is, it’s frustrating.

      1. Synoia

        If Windows:
        1. Reboot
        2. Get a copy of linux and use it

        else if Linux
        1. Reboot

        else if Apple
        1. Get a cheap PC and install Linux

        1. hunkerdown

          May I offer an improved snippet?

          else if Apple
            if macintel
              1. Install Boot Camp and Linux
              1. Get a cheap PC and install Linux

        2. ian

          You actually have to reboot a linux box? I can’t remember the last time I had to do that.
          My tweak to advice: get a cheap PC (in my case 8 yr old thinkpad), install linux, forego the bloated desktop most distros have, use lightweight window manager (openbox for me).

  4. Steven D.

    Obama and the neoliberals “know” the post office is a dinosaur that needs to be taken over by Wall Street to become cutting edge and 21st Century or something. Just like Obama, Arne Duncan and the neoliberals “know” the public schools are fossils run by those evil teachers unions and a takeover by Wall Street is what all the cool people, i.e. billionaires, want.

    1. craazyboy

      Wall Street thinks the Post Office works great. I pay UPS and FedEx to deliver my stuff – and USPS brings it to my door!

      1. Gareth

        Fedex delivers my packages to the same wrong address consistently. The resident there has my phone number, gives me a call and I drive over to pick up the package, because markets. My self service is excellent.

        1. jo6pac

          Yes fed-ex bring everything to my back gate were I don’t see it for days because I live on a ranch. I’ve asked and begged but it still goes to the back gate. UPS and Post Office deliver to front porch. UPS rings the bell also to let me know it’s there.

          I’ve paid a few cents more to have shipments delivered any way but fed-ex and ups freight.

      1. grayslady

        Back in 1980, I had an older secretary who was one of the best educated, most articulate individuals I have known. She was a product of the Chicago school system. By my guess, that means that in the 1930s and 1940s the system was excellent.

        1. optimader

          My parents, aunts and uncles as well.. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure I think remains unchanged.

    2. Synoia

      Obama and the neoliberals “know” the post office is a dinosaur that needs to be taken over by Wall Street to become cutting edge and 21st Century or something a rent generator for their donors

      Pity those "rent generators" have to send bills to the unwashed consumers to tenable them to be paid.

      The "I imagined you owed me a bill, and you have not paid" attack on consumer does not yet work, as congress has yet to pass the "aetherial consent" law (the "I sent you a hypothetical bill over the luminifous aether, therefore you own me money", bill).

      1. efschumacher

        Try living in England without a TV. The disbelieving dunning letters from the BBC come right through your front door, with all the unstoppable subtlety of a collection agency baying after your home’s previous occupant.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I got a box number, but I occasionally get mail to my street address still. So, when mail is sent to my street address, rather than doing forwarding at the local distribution center, so there would be at most a day’s delay, they send it down to the regional center in Masschusetts, and then back up to Maine, with the result that there is at least a month’s delay. And of course they’re trying to close the regional center as well.

      I’m sure the excuse is some pencil-necked MBA’s idea of efficiency, but in fact what they’re doing is trying to destroy the service. Same thing with doing away with Saturday delivery, doing away with universal service to small towns, etc. Greedy and hateful.

      1. A Farmer

        At least in this part of rural America, people deserve the poor service because they voted for the idiots who are destroying the postal service, and the rest of civil government while they are at it.

  5. Tertium Squid

    Civil War Cinema

    Petulant fluff. From the way the author goes on it sounds like the South really won – like we played into their hands all along.

    The “Lost Cause” is clearly bollocks, but trying to recover an unequivocally pro-Union, pro-Emancipation, pro-Northern view of the war may be itself a lost cause.

    I don’t know qua southern sympathies in popular culture, but why would you replace a nauseating and self-serving whitewash of history with its opposite? So Dances With Wolves wasn’t good enough – the North needs its own Birth of A Nation?

    This is the historical version of “teach the controversy” and I don’t think it goes anywhere. Instead fight bad art with good art! And if some of the lost cause stuff is good art, well what are you complaining about?

    My own great great great granddads were Union boys, and they came back from the war with broken health and died young. They didn’t fight for abolition either – they fought for the sixteen acres of land they would get if they signed up. Their orphans got to farm it woohoo.

    I’ll tell you what was bollocks, it was the whole Civil War. Any film or story about it should come up bollocks or it is dishonest in some way.

    1. Vince in MN

      “I’ll tell you what was bollocks, it was the whole Civil War.”

      Please explain. Having extensively studied the history of the era myself over a 50 year period (admittedly as an amateur), I am always interested in what another aficionado has to say. Never too old to learn.

      1. Tertium Squid

        I won’t cry down that war as uniquely bollocky.

        We want to compartmentalize events in our mind. For example, separating the Civil War from the conquest of the West and who would get to do that and how. Also, ending agrarian chattel slavery so a system of factory exploitation (and giveaways of Native American land) could be imposed on the nation. Also, physical courage is not a sufficient condition of heroism, or all armies at all points in history are equally heroic.

        US Grant’s genius was understanding modern war in a way McClellan didn’t – a soldier is an asset meant to be consumed by the war machine, not preserved from harm. Consumed advantageously – so if you have more than the enemy you don’t have to be cautious with the burndown rate. Only one of the two got to be president.

        For a more recent war, I recommend Paul Fussell’s The Boy’s Crusade – adequately shows the glamour of that greatest and best war, WWII.

      2. Ed

        I don’t think there has every been a really accurate (non myth encrusted) treatment of the Civil War.

        Actually there are problems with the name too. “War for Southern Independence” would probably be more accurate.

        Pre Civil Rights era histories tended to glorify the Confederacy and particularly the Confederate Army, which is a problem in an obvious way too much. The modern tendency to turn the war into a crusade against slavery have accuracy problems too. This simply was not one of the early war aims for the Union, and became one very slowly. It was obviously more important for the Southern states, but strangely even the Confederates seemed to forget they were trying to preserve slavery at key points.

        1. cwaltz

          Why was it the South wanted independence again? Oh, that’s right because they wanted to continue to own slaves. Yes, the North, which was more industrial, was not reliant on slave labor to the extent the south was and yes they were fighting moreso to preserve the union. However, I disagree that the Civil War was not about slavery. The secession was all about the “rights” of a state to continue to use slave labor and the subsequent fight was a result of secession.

          1. Carolinian

            For the people running the South it was of course about slavery. “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” For the North is was about saving the Union. Plus we shot at them first. See Lambert’s NYT Rhode Island link for how enlightened Northerners were when it came to slavery–at least while the trade persisted.

            The South deserved to be crushed and they were crushed. If the North then let them off the hook afterwards perhaps it was out of a sense of shared guilt or–more likely–shared indifference to the fate of the ex-slaves.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The difficulty of running an occupation/reconstruction was also an issue, and the South was a very different place before the war. Leadership was based on number of slaves, so the place needed new everything.

              April 1865 was very similar to the end of Robert Redford’s “The Candidate.” The Union won, Lincoln was dead, large portions of the South were devastated, the slaves were free, but no one discussed what came next. In 1864, the northern Democrats wanted to negotiate with the CSA.

            2. John Merryman

              As someone who has come to see morality as a cultural bonding agent, rather than a universal ideal, I think we all seem to adopt narratives to suit our emotions, rather than the realities. Good and bad are the basic biological binary code of attraction to the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental, rather than a cosmic duel between the forces of righteousness and evil. Such that even the most elementary of organisms will have this sense and any functioning society needs some collective determination of it, in order to exist.
              So it is reasonable to consider slavery as universally evil, but the reality is the African American population would be on a par with say the Arab American population, if it wasn’t for slavery and it is doubtful there would be more Africans today, if the trade in slaves hadn’t occurred. As a form of economic control, it is more a matter of degree, than kind, with many others throughout history. Debt and fear have been the usual tools of choice.
              Which is not to take sides in this, but to try to peel away some of the beliefs and understand the actual processes at work. If we really want to understand the forces of nature, we can’t always hide from the more politically incorrect factors and assume our ideals will carry us through to the pearly gates.

          2. hunkerdown

            If one assumes from the available evidence that Americans instinctively conceal their class interests in matters of morality, appreciates the documentary evidence that implies the USA was designed and constructed as a permanent imperial aristocracy, and observes the proto-Foxconns and company stores and factory-prisons of the Northern industrialists after the conflict, one might conclude that the Civil War was about nothing more than whose designs for property and bonded labor shall prevail. But, being good English, we’re not supposed to think ill of our betters…

    2. Ed

      I skimmed through the article. The latest example they gave dated from 1965. The two post-1965 movies they talked about were both pro-Union.

      Starting in the 1890s, histories of the Civil War tended to portray it as some sort of big misunderstanding, and emphasized how well the Confederates had fought. Starting in the 1960s, there started being alot of emphasis put on slavery.

      This obviously had alot to do with changes in how the US was governed. First it was important that both Southerners and Northerners view the South as an important part of a big, powerful nation. Later how African-Americans (the term only started coming into use in the 1990s) were treated became an issue.

  6. fresno dan

    [Sanders] said Wednesday that the Postal Service caused a “disaster that is negatively impacting Americans all over this country” when it shuttered more than 140 mail-sorting plants and slowed delivery times to cut costs” [WaPo]. He’s right. We should be setting up Post Office banks, like Warren suggested, not degrading the Post Office so privatizers can feast on the remains.
    I can certainly confirm the above. I moved to Redding CA from Sacramento CA, and mail from companies in Redding takes longer to get to me than mail forwarded from Sacramento, as well as often not showing up at all. Also, I have received mail with the same handwriting scrawled across the mail saying “not at this address” when in fact it is my correct Redding address.
    People tell me that the Redding sorting mail station was shut down, and any mail sent from Redding has to go to Sacramento for processing and than come back. This is the first time in my life that I have ever really had a problem with the mail, with getting utility bills late, and no idea of what has happened to my updated driver’s license and registration. Though inexplicably, Netflix discs are delivered flawlessly….

    Its just another aspect of “crapdonics” – my anti hedonics rant about inflation numbers can’t be trusted because soooooo many things are getting worser and worser…

    1. Pat

      He isn’t campaigning negatively, and I have to admit I doubt the Redding sorting facility is tops on Blum’s list, but selling the properties cheap is another way of enriching friends and supporters. And lord knows, Diane Feinstein’s husband is both.


      Between the selling off of facilities and the demand to fund the pension out 75 years they are trying to make the Post Office look incompetent. My only hope in all this is the fact that Senators from largely rural states have got to know that UPS and Fed Ex hand their stuff off to USPS and will not be the answer there so privatizing it completely is somewhat stymied.

      As Lambert says, they need to tell the people who want to end it to screw themselves and listen to Warren about postal banking.

      1. Steven D.

        It wasn’t the Postal System that closed the distribution centers. It was the board of governors. And guess who appoints them. Why it’s Barack Obama. Except for the Bush holdovers he’s been more than happy to allow to remain in place.

        1. Vatch

          I was in the process of agreeing with you about Obama and his appointees on the Postal Board of Governors when I decided to find out how many of the current governors started out in the Bush administration. I was surprised (I shouldn’t have been) to find that the Board of Governors is a complete mess. There are 6 vacancies on the 11 member board! 9 are supposed to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and the other two are appointed by the board to be the Postmaster General and the Deputy Postmaster General.


          All 3 of the Presidentially appointed governors were originally appointed by Bush. I guess they were all reappointed by Obama. I don’t know why it’s so bad; I suspect that Republican filibusterers in the Senate are largely responsible.

          1. Vatch

            It’s worse than I thought. It looks like one of their terms expired in December, 2014, and the other two were never reappointed by Obama. So the web site is out of date, and there might only be 4 members of the 11 person board. Nobody on the current board was appointed by Obama! I wonder whether there were any earlier appointees by him who resigned before their terms expired?

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Filibusters are a rule the Democrats voted to enact in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013, and the Supreme Court has already ruled 50+VP is the only constitutional standard for the Senate. The Democrats are complicit.

            Obama would also be required to make a decision or appoint someone to handle this kind of situation, and there aren’t any crowds or people in costumes to salute so it’s not very fun.

            1. Vatch

              Obama has made numerous nominations to the Postal Service Board of Governors. They have either been rejected or ignored by the Senate. Go to the Advanced Serach screen of the Congress.gov web site. Be sure to choose All Congresses, and select Nominations rather than Legislation in all search text windows. Here are some of the names that you’ll find:

              PN2102— David S. Shapira — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1922— Mickey D. Barnett — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1460— Victoria Reggie Kennedy — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1173— David Michael Bennett — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1172— Stephen Crawford — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1170— James C. Miller III — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
              PN1703— Stephen Crawford — 112th Congress (2011-2012)
              PN1500— James C. Miller, III — 112th Congress (2011-2012)
              PN1422— Dennis J. Toner — 111th Congress (2009-2010)

              This is just a partial list. The Senate is not cooperating with Obama regarding nominations to the Postal Service Board of Governors.

  7. hermes

    Tsundoku: Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan; The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti; The Third Reich by Roberto Bolano; 54 by Wu Ming; Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe by Norman Davies; The Extreme Center: A Warning by Tariq Ali; Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution by Wendy Brown

    1. DJG

      Semitsundoku: I’m most of the way through 54 by Wu Ming. And Wu Ming are a group that this blog should get to know. Wu Ming has a groovy blog called Giap. Most of their work is in Italian and has not been translated. I’m a fan of Q (when they were Luther Blissett) and Altai.

      Piccoli Impedimenti alla Felicità by Carla Vasio
      I Ching di Ernst Bernhard (edited by Luciana Marinangeli) Bernhard was, for a time, Fellini’s psychotherapist. Image that.
      It’s Not Over by Michelangelo Signorile
      Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante (and for some reason, I’m resisting Ferrante–others may want to give advice).

      1. hermes

        I think I’ll actually read 54 next. I recently read Q myself, the history of the reformation brought to life in that book is absolutely fascinating.

      2. annie

        Ferrante’s quartet is important–though you won’t find many italians who agree. (not having read Ferrante, they’re the same ones who think Sorrentino a great director.)
        but you could also try ‘the lost daughter.’

      1. hermes

        Mo Yan is a favorite of mine! He is actually the only Chinese author on the list though. Wu Ming is actually five Italians. I’d highly recommend Mo Yan though, start with Red Sorghum.

  8. optimader

    Lambert.. JD is my emails handle’s handle!
    apical dominance, yes that I think is exactly the phenomena/strategy.

    AN underlying point of the pictures I sent you is to illustrate that fruit trees can be kept quite small, even potted, while still being quite productive.

    I have started a number of apples and pear trees from seed and pit several years ago sourced from a local what I’ll call an heirloom orchard, cultivated by Franciscan Monks who resided here http://www.mayslakepeabody.com/history/#Franciscan

    They were stone masons, carpenters, arborists, bee keepers and experimental gardeners extraordinaire. Very cool cats actually. I would ride my bike over there w/ lawnmowing loot and they would sell (basically give) me honey..You could not fit a razor blade in the gaps of the dryset cut stone walls of the building they constructed there..

    The property has since been absorbed by County Park District, which to their credit, are trying to preserve what they can, but the orchard was left to be forgotten.. except by me apparently.

    In anycase best apples and pears ever, they really knew what they were doing, but alas the trees are now dying so I decided I would give their cultivars a future as espaliers and miniatures.

    And yeah, what’s not to love about a Corpse Flower?

      1. optimader

        not important..

        fun to have a link posted for the Corpse Flower Cam! It will be col when it splits open and gags everyone.. they will be keeping the facility open for vistors into the wee hours (like 2-or -3am) when the CF opens

        1. Emma

          Just like any lady, I sharpen my pencil with a penknife to feel womanly! With the gentle consternation of delicate flowers we’re obliged to. It depends which way the wind blows…..or when the blowhards get windy!
          Anyway, with much love and relief (!), the basic tenets of ‘freemadaughtery’, I’m writing a ‘mistressful’ letter to Sir David Attenborough and certain Messieurs at this blog!
          I ask them to answer for why they’ve made our world so damned beyond all redemption! See Wiki on the abominable naming of this corpse flower of a plant!
          ‘Amorphophallus’ to ‘Titan Arum’ is not only blasphemous but downright sexist! Hmmph! The measure of corruption by value in this matter must be forthwith exposed to a bossy bevy of beauties!
          In meantime, and at some length with admirable adroitness…….I propose ‘Rigour Moretits’ !

    1. Orchid

      Apical dominance is not the only factor in pruning fruit trees. Cutting the leader (the apex limb) will allow side branches to grow more than previously. Espaliered limbs can give more fruit because of the horizontal orientation of the limb. Some people tie weights to limbs for this reason. Vertical limbs, or watersprouts, will produce little fruit. Solar access by leaves is also important. The arborist I work with says that in Japan, fruit trees are pruned into a 30-degree plane, much like a solar panel. Summer pruning can also control eventual size – see the Dave Wilson website for information about summer pruning.

  9. Blurtman

    To Lambert,

    I hope by your comment “Make up your own jokes!” that you are not encouraging tasteless ethnic jokes. Please tell me that is not the case.

    “Nazi Treasure Train Hunt: Significant Find Confirmed in Poland” [NBC]. Make up your own jokes!

    1. craazyboy

      Dumb Polish economist finds Nazi Treasure in 1946, but leaves it where it is because it’s worthless – not being real fiat currency.

      1. Blurtman

        Yes, I hope Lambert is not meaning to encourage such humor. I would never have pegged him for a bigot.

        1. lambert strether

          Never crossed my mind. I was thinking more along the lines of: “Where did Jamie stash his gold train? The Hamptons?”

          1. craazyboy

            Dunno, but what do Jamie’s Bentley’s tires sound like after running over that skinflint ### Blankfein? Dago wop, wop, wop…


        2. OIFVet

          Oh lighten up. First of all, the above is an economists joke. Second, how does one define “tasteless” when it comes to ethnic jokes? To some thin-skinned patriotic ethnics any and all jokes about their ethnicity is “tasteless”, BTW, best jokes about Egyptians I ever heard come from Egyptians. The ability to laugh at oneself can be quite healthy, you know.

      2. Skippy

        One day some will wake up…. Law is the Foundation – bimetallism, fiat, et al are secondary attributes…

    2. Synoia

      Nazi Treasure Train Hunt: Significant Find Confirmed in Poland Far East Germany.


      Nazi Treasure Train Hunt: Significant Find Confirmed in Poland Far West Russia.

    3. ambrit

      In Poland the people make Russian Jokes! Everyone has a ‘scapegoat’ it seems. As long as we don’t start lynching them, all’s fine. Please, whatever you do, do not quote me any political correctness blarney. People are people, now and forever. (Or at least until Gaia decides to go with some other species as Crown of Creation.)

  10. Clive

    My Tsunndoku List of Shame:

    Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, fiction. A novel by Maggie Gee. Got about a third the way through but it turned out to not be as good as I thought it would be and I’ve not had the heart to finish it. That’s what you get for going by what’s on the back of the dust jacket…

    The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis, non-fiction. A history by Yannis Palaiologos. Not even started, shamefully. Time restrictions, caused by having to try and help stem some of the tide of nonsense posted in comments about Greece, IT and the possible abandonment of the euro is my official reason for that. But in truth, and it doesn’t really reflect well on me as a person, but I’m pretty well all Greece’ed out unfortunately.

    The Cartel, fiction. A novel by Don Winslow. Winslow is a real curate’s egg. Sometimes really great storytelling. But, as here, sometimes gets carried away with his own stylisation to the detriment of the plotting and the characterisation. Got about 2/3rds the way through but was ultimately defeated by one schoolboy fantasy sex scene too many.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Back in black!

    West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in October jumped $3.96, or 10.3%, to settle at $42.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the largest single-session percentage gain for a most-active contract since March 2009.


    Venezuela asked OPEC for an emergency meeting, as it teeters on the edge of default.

    “Thanks, Comrade Maduro!” says a grateful Wall Street.

  12. neo-realist

    Epigenetic inheritance: Perfect study for Black Americans of previous and present generations to measure the effects of racist trauma on black folk. Jackie Robinson (Exhibit A?) Died in his early 50’s and suffered numerous illnesses in his later years. Looked 80 at the time of death. Who couldn’t say that the years of 47, 48 didn’t negatively impact his health and possibly his genes. And what about the higher rates of death from heart disease and diabetes among black people? Couldn’t present and past trauma have had an influence? As much as this study may be justified, it will be hard pressed to be initiated because….fear of reparations.

    1. Lee

      Lamarck was right after all?

      Some problems with the study: the sample size was quite small; epigentic science is in early days; many in the field believe epigenetic effects to be transient, i.e., not particularly persistent or evolutionarily significant; alternative medicine quacks are enthusiastically embracing epigenetics as yet another way to promote even more unproven yet lucrative treatments.

      For more: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?s=epigenetics

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thanks. I was hoping somebody would take a look at the methodology.

        That said, assuming adaptability… It doesn’t seem “sensible” (to anthropomorphize) for nature not to take present circumstances into account. So I don’t think the Lamarck comment is fair. And if anything, it’s both Darwin and Lamarck (taking “Lamarck” as a proxy for epigenitcs, and not his actual views)>

        1. Skippy

          I would be very careful with Lamarck Lambert, he had a whopping case of bias.

          Skippy…. not to mention that bit of kit was largely responsible for the so called political – ideological starvation in the USSR.

  13. EmilianoZ

    Re: Jacobin piece about Hollywood and the Civil War

    The Jacobin seems to think that a movie has to be either pro-Union or pro-South. But Hollywood produced many fine nuanced complex movies that cannot be classified as either pro-Union or pro-South. “Cold mountain” (not mentioned by the Jacobin) comes to mind. Although the hero (Jude Law) is a southerner, the movies shows the worst aspects of the South and the hero ends up being killed by his fellow countrymen.

    The Jacobin also fails to mention the movie “Gettysburg”:


    As far as I can remember it is pretty neutral or even pro-Union. The director later made another Civil War movie that was more pro-South:


    1. Carolinian

      I don’t think modern H’wood has much interest in making Civil War films. Cold Mountain was a flop. Gettysburg, if I’m not mistaken, was made for Ted Turner’s cable channel. When Griffith made Birth of a Nation there were still people around who had been in the Civil War. Ken Burns shows them in his PBS documentary series. It was a lot more alive to people.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        And the suffering white people are usually bad guys, so it’s not really primed for domestic audiences or even international audiences. What is the appeal to a Chinese market? How familiar are non-Americans with the U.S. Civil War? My anecdotal experience is not very. We learned about the English Civil War because the fallout reached here, but do elementary students in London have a tale woven about how ugly American slavery was when their own government wanted to support the Confederacy?

        At least people around the world have a vague idea of the sides in World War II and the Autobot/Decepticon conflict.

      2. ambrit

        “Birth of a Nation” was also made back when white people in blackface played black characters on stage and on celluloid. My wife, who grew up in New Orleans remembers being in an amateur Minstrel Show where blackface was di rigueur. I was very little but am told that my Mom and I were almost thrown off of a City bus in Miami for sitting in the back when we first moved to segregationist Florida around 1960. (If you may have some doubts as to the truth of this, try this experiment: rummage through local civic regulations and find out when racially based curfews were struck off the rolls. As Ferguson has shown, racialism is alive and well in America.)

        1. Carolinian

          The minstrel shows started even before the Civil War. Hollywood, when the time came, carried on the tradition–sometimes with real blacks. Personally I can never stomach Al Jolson. While some dismiss Hollywood’s casual racism as a sign of the times I’m not so sure forgiveness is merited. Stereotyping is a symptom of bad art.

  14. Carolinian

    Interesting Jacobin on race in cinema. However it’s worth saying that anyone visiting the cultural past looking for modern attitudes on race is sure to be disappointed. You are going to have to kick not just Keaton but John Ford out of the pantheon. Even the great Fred Astaire once danced in black face and while you can say he was doing homage to the black dancers he admired, it’s cringe inducing. Gone With the Wind may still be the highest grossing movie in current dollars. Nobody has seen fit to carp at the film’s race aspect other than long gone tv comic Flip “I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies” Wilson.

    And from mass cult to high culture it’s no different. Fitzgerald does some coon baiting in Tender is the Night as does Thomas Wolfe in Look Homeward Angel. Back then this sort of thing was just taken for granted–probably not thought twice about. If you want to look for some larger explanation you are going to have to talk about more than just movies.

    Anyway, thanks for the link…..

  15. Martin Finnucane

    Tsunndoku List:

    _Green Wizardry_ by the Arch Druid. (He has a real name, but I can’t recall right now.) I am increasingly preoccupied with the project of keeping my wife and children alive, hence I bought this book. It doesn’t help, though, that I lost it, so it’s floating around the house somewhere unread.

    _The Five Stages of Collapse_ by Dmitry Orlov. Bought this with the same thing in mind, but have been grinding through at a slow pace because the author’s childish misunderstanding of money and debt makes his otherwise charming writing unpalatable.

    _This Changes Everything_ by Naomi Kline. To be honest, I am afraid of this book. It gestures at me from the shelf, like the cold finger of fate.

    I just ordered a CD containing thousands of pages of repair manuals for various Briggs & Stratton motors. That one I might make it through.

    1. DJG

      This Changes Everything is a surprisingly easy read. Naomi Klein knows that she is delivering a huge message. So she writes with great humor and grace. And everything is backed with the gazillion end notes.

    2. open

      Can I *most highly* recommend this book:
      A World on Fire: A Heretic, an Aristocrat, and the Race to Discover Oxygen. Joe Jackson. xiv + 414 pp. Viking, 2005. $27.95.
      Details the precise moment when men decided that “what is true” perhaps did not emanate from God after all. Told in a most engaging manner by an author who avoids the smug and snarky traps of this new genre (you know, “History of Salt” etc). Priestley, the “furious free-thinker”, stuck in the old view that fire was a substance, and Lavoisier, forced by religious intolerance in France to abandon dogma and measure everything. Intrigue. And humor: “Let’s see, people who eat vegetables don’t get scurvy, and people who eat vegetables are gassy; so maybe that gas is what prevents scurvy? So let’s have Priestley make some “windy water” and we’ll put it on Capt. Cook’s ship (known as “tonic” water). Five stars.

  16. Oregoncharles

    “As John Oliver once put it, “if you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” Discussions of carried interest are pretty boring. With Trump in the race throwing word-grenades at every turn, though, all of the candidates may be forced to confront the issue. No matter one’s views on Trump himself, this wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

    I like “word-grenades.” Paragraph sounds a bit like Lambert, only more Bloomberg.

    Trump is actually serving a purpose in the campaign, despite his personal offensiveness.

    I’m enjoying the fantasy of a Sanders vs. Trump election. Not good for the Green Party, but good for the country, I think. To say nothing of entertaining. I think Sanders would actually win that one.

    Oregoncharles (Anonymous is what you get when you fill outthe comment before the ID – I just discovered.)

  17. Oregoncharles

    ““Trump Telling GOP Brass He Will Forgo A Third-Party Run: Sources””
    Sad, but actually very ambiguous.

      1. hunkerdown

        Publicly. As we know, contracts are good until they aren’t, and the first person to exploit their Party then kick them in the teeth would pretty much own the independent vote. I’d hope, against hope, that would be Sanders.

  18. NotTimothyGeithner

    Concerning Biden:

    My personal view Is Democratic elite, very very serious people, consider Sanders supporters or anyone who scoffs when they explain why they need to run a pro-gun, anti-abortion Democrat to be children who are attached to Bernie because he’s different. Biden has an Internet presence in the former of memes and was the idol of Leslie Knope. Hillary doesn’t have an Internet presence or strong support among young people. She lost young women last time. Her career since then hasn’t earned her any street cred.

    My sense is Biden backers believe Biden will eat into the “flippant” Sanders supporters because all “serious people” recognize Hillary as a great candidate.

    I don’t have much respect for the intellect of Democratic insiders, but I think Biden is seen as a way to shut those troublesome kids (Sanders supporters or Hillary skeptics) up. Much like Hillary, “serious-minded” voters are either crooks or heavily emotionally invested in Team Blue, Obama, Hillary’s gender, and so forth and have no concept of Biden’s 40 year Washington career or that voters might even care about living memory history. Obama and his close cronies probably recognize that without Iraq or Hillary’s yes vote he wouldn’t be President and know that Biden had no traction in 2007/8 because he is just as crummy as Hillary but without the women power strength behind him which is why the White House seems to be cold towards a Biden run. I don’t think much of the President, but there is a reason Democratic strategists think he’s a super duper genius. Obama can on occasion recognize the obvious.

    Hillary and Bill are just not liked in some quarters for bizarre reasons. Local Chamber of Commerce Democrats strike me as a self loathing group and would not want a nominee who would drudge up the various Clinton scandals among their GOP friends.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And we know what happened to him (and his own d..n fault, too.) I have a thing about HH – ’68 was the first year I could vote, and I voted for the pig – literally. Look up “Pigasus.” Humphrey did himself in by endorsing Daley’s police riot. Chicago, again. I thought, and think, that he was a ruined man after being LBJ’s VP.

        I think you’re right: Biden is being brought forward in case the e-mail server scandal takes Hilary out, as it should. They probably know something we don’t. That, or she just turns out to be not very popular, like the last time.

      2. Ed

        The comparison is unfair to Humphrey. His 1960 presidential run got more traction than either of Biden’s runs, and he had accomplished more in his political career as well. He was also substantially to Biden’s left.

        1. jo6pac

          I agree H was an old D and believed sadly it was taken away from him. Sorry but look it up and I was not a fan of his in the day.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “The problem? The panels were creating too much­ power” [NBC].”

    Profoundly stupid situation, and a good example of the sort of thing that gives “government regulation’ a bad name. In this case, there’s no consideration of the PURPOSE – which is surely to maximize solar generation.

    Of course, that is NOT the utility’s purpose, so they’ve rigged the regulations.

  20. Oregoncharles

    You seriously want me to go look over my shelves for books I haven’t read or finished? Sheesh! Not nearly enough room in this box for that.

    I’ll give you one I’m finally finishing: “Sweet Tooth,” by Ian McEwan. I may not read all the way to the tragic ending he’s setting up, but it’s excellent so far.

  21. Oregoncharles

    I’ve been pruning fruit trees professionally for almost 40 years. Indeed, apical dominance is a key factor, but there are others:

    Sunlight. The lower branches need to extend beyond the upper ones, or they’ll be shed.

    Height. How high do you want to climb? To keep the tree low, you have to save the lower branches; see above.

    Fruiting wood. You need to tell the fruit buds from the leaf buds and leave a balance. There’s such a thing as too much fruit.

    Espalier is a thing unto itself I haven’t done a whole lot because it’s labor intensive and not sensible for my customers – unless they insist. Same principles, though. You don’t need to worry about the lower branches as much because they’ll get sun from the sides. Linear trees (or garden beds) should run south to north, to minimize shading.

    Then the trees turn out to have little minds of their own, like children, so it’s going to take a few years of experience before they make much sense. when I worked in a vineyard pruning, we used to get all excited when we found a “textbook” vine that had responded as they’re supposed to. Pretty rare. Trees aren’t textbooks, either.

  22. ambrit

    Tsundoku list:
    Essential Hypertension Management Second Edition- various authors
    Seven Red Sundays- Ramon J Sender (Spanish Civil War by someone who was there.)
    Original Self- Thomas Moore (Ex Catholic monk.)
    The Complete Romances of Chretien de Troyes- David Staines (Where we Westerners came from.)
    Baudolino- Umberto Eco (Fabulism as History.)

  23. Skippy

    My book pick…

    Undoing the Demos
    Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution
    By Wendy Brown

    Neoliberal rationality—ubiquitous today in statecraft and the workplace, in jurisprudence, education, and culture—remakes everything and everyone in the image of homo oeconomicus. What happens when this rationality transposes the constituent elements of democracy into an economic register? In Undoing the Demos, Wendy Brown explains how democracy itself is imperiled. The demos disintegrates into bits of human capital; concerns with justice bow to the mandates of growth rates, credit ratings, and investment climates; liberty submits to the imperative of human capital appreciation; equality dissolves into market competition; and popular sovereignty grows incoherent. Liberal democratic practices may not survive these transformations. Radical democratic dreams may not either.

    In an original and compelling argument, Brown explains how and why neoliberal reason undoes the political form and political imaginary it falsely promises to secure and reinvigorate. Through meticulous analyses of neoliberalized law, political practices, governance, and education, she charts the new common sense. Undoing the Demos makes clear that for democracy to have a future, it must become an object of struggle and rethinking.


    Wendy Brown: In this book, I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is “economized” and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere—that’s the old Marxist depiction of capital’s transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres—such as learning, dating, or exercising—in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value.

    Moreover, because neoliberalism came of age with (and abetted) financialization, the form of marketization at stake does not always concern products or commodities, let alone their exchange. Today, market actors—from individuals to firms, universities to states, restaurants to magazines—are more often concerned with their speculatively determined value, their ratings and rankings that shape future value, than with immediate profit. All are tasked with enhancing present and future value through self-investments that in turn attract investors. Financialized market conduct entails increasing or maintaining one’s ratings, whether through blog hits, retweets, Yelp stars, college rankings, or Moody’s bond ratings.

    Skippy…. “The Century of the Self” – like opti’s “Corpse Flower” is about to bloom….

  24. hunkerdown

    Tsundoku nearest me:
    The Society of the Spectacle by Guy DeBord
    Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
    Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television by Adam Kotzko
    The Theory of Business Enterprise by Thorsten Veblen
    The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler
    The Art of Not Being Governed by James C Scott
    Astrology Restored by William Ramsey

  25. Big River Bandido


    Benjamin Franklin (Carl Van Doren)
    Harry S. Truman: The Tumultuous Years (Robert Donovan)
    Dear Bess (letters from Harry to Bess Truman, 1910-59)
    George Washington (Willard Sterne Randall)
    Arrogant Capital and The Cousins Wars (Kevin Phillips)

    But I have to finish a so-so bio of Henry Clay before I get to these.

  26. Jay M

    I thought getting murdered by your job was de riguer, at least metaphorically. The days of the non sociopathic management were long gone, I thought. Actually getting X’d, that sucks. Seems like Glock is always in the news this way.

  27. JerseyJeffersonian

    A link to a post at Moon of Alabama (also concerned with international conflicts being sparked by access to water, as was seen in today’s earlier post on conflict in Central Asia):

    The Wars In Syria And Iraq Are Also Water Wars – More Will Come

    Hope my attempt to post the link worked…

    Turkey, particularly under Erdogan, is becoming an increasingly negative influence in the neighborhood, and more generally, in the world at large.

  28. craazyboy

    Time out to checkup on what Persons of Consequence are doing

    Live from Jackson Hole!

    CNBC fake economist-reporter Steve Liesman gently tosses the usual nerf ball questions to Ms George, KC Fed Chieftainess. Ms. George says it may, in fact, be the perfect time to increase the overnight rate a quarter point in September. (I shortened up the dialog a lot – watch it for the full richness of cluelessness)

    For more insight another interview (sound bite) with the Wild & Crazy iPhone Eater, NYC Chief Bill Dudley come up next. He adds some drama saying recent market volatility is still giving him some doubts, but they have a few days yet before deciding if it is, in fact, the perfect time to increase the overnight rate a quarter point in September.


      1. craazyboy

        It’s his full job description. CNBC used to introduce him as the “CNBC Economist”, but then someone did a background check and found out his only degree is a 2 year journalism degree.

        Not to imply an economics degree makes one real, of course.

  29. Paul Jonker-Hoffrén

    Tsundoku: When work disappears (William Julius Wilson), The Limits of Neoliberalism (William Davies), Re-Forming Capitalism (Wolfgang Streeck), Macroeconomics beyond the NAIRU ( Servaas Storm and C. W. M. Naastepad). I read bits of all of these but not nearly enough.

  30. different clue

    One hopes some of Sanders’s people tell Sanders about how it wasn’t the Post Office which caused the disaster by shutting down the sorting centers. It was the Bush-era Bush and Congress who caused the disaster by passing a law requiring the Postal Service to forward-save so much money for far-future retiree benefits that the Postal Service would be starved of money to maintain itself in viable functional existence.

    One hopes Sanders can find his way to that deeper analysis and suggest something to cure the problem . . . like repealing that law.

Comments are closed.