2:00PM Water Cooler 10/13/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“A political firestorm is building over the protections for drug companies in Obama administration’s massive international trade deal, threatening support for a key piece of the president’s legacy” [WaPo]. (How I hate that “legacy” trope. Obama cares about cashing in from his bunker in the Presidential Library, and golf.) Meanwhile, Big Pharma is whining, which they would, and the USTR says wait to read the deal. Because it’s gonna be a surprise!

“I didn’t think TTIP could get any scarier, but then I spoke to the EU official in charge of it” [Independent].

When put to her, Malmström acknowledged that a trade deal has never inspired such passionate and widespread opposition. Yet when I asked the trade commissioner how she could continue her persistent promotion of the deal in the face of such massive public opposition, her response came back icy cold: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.”

Those honest, blunt Brussels bureaucrats! So different from our own political class!

“The broader region is not choosing between China and US, but each and both. Despite friction with China, the Philippines expressed interest in the TPP, but stayed out for economic reasons, as did Indonesia and Thailand. Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are not economically ready for the TPP” [Economic Monitor].

In the “containment déjà vu” scenario, the exclusive TPP contributes to the militarization of the Asia-Pacific, while economic benefits decrease. Instead of unity, fragmentation triggers friction. Economic growth dims. The “Asian Century” fails.

In the “much ado about nothing” scenario, the US Congress torpedoes the deal in the short term, or bilateral and multilateral trade deals in the region mitigate the TPP’s discriminatory effects over time.

In the “inclusive free trade” scenario, the TPP serves as a foundation for a truly Asia-wide FTA; one that has room for China, the US, and 21st century currency arrangements. China and the US conclude a bilateral investment treaty. Growth accelerates and economic relations broaden across South, East and Southeast Asia.

Only the last scenario can sustain the promise of the Asian Century.


The Voters

How a majority perceives a future majority vote [WaPo]. Hint: Scale free networks are intrinsically non-majoritarian. Bonus hint: What kind of network do you think best describes our political economy?


“Bush unveils ObamaCare replacement plan” [The Hill]. Always the tax credits with these guys.

The Debates

“Why Sanders may not enjoy his first faceoff with Clinton as much as he might expect” [WaPo]. An audible licking of chops.

“Will the Debate Be Hillary Clinton’s Moment of Economic Truth?” [Bloomberg]. An audible whetting of knives.

“Newsletter Essential Politics: 5 things we’d ask at the Democratic debate” [Los Angeles Times].

“Clinton tacks to the left ahead of Democratic debate” [Reuters]. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t believe the hype.

UPDATE Axelrove sticks in the shiv: “But [CLinton’s] task, as the undisputed front-runner and putative nominee, will be to give Democrats reason to believe.” What, they don’t already have it? [David Axelrod, CNN]. And:

There has been a strange disconnect between Clinton and Democratic voters this year and a sense of resignation, rather than excitement, about her candidacy. This challenge is reflected in the contrast between the large, enthusiastic crowds Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing with his populist crusade and the more tepid reaction Clinton is generating. (To be fair, the word from the trail is that for all the jitters about the relative size of her crowds, she is connecting well in the small rooms and town hall meetings, which is meaningful in the early states.)

On “small rooms and town halls”: As I’ve been saying. Again, that’s how the Clinton 2008 primary campaign won the popular vote (if all the votes are counted) and all the large states, after the caucus state debacle in February; the great uncovered story from that time, sadly.

UPDATE Hit piece from Reuters on Bernienomics [Reuters].

The Trail

“The stealthy, Eric Schmidt-backed startup that’s working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House” [Quartz]. Groundwork, it’s called:

We’re not trying to obfuscate anything, we’re just trying to keep our heads down and do stuff,” says Michael Slaby, who runs the Groundwork. He was the chief technology officer for president Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, a top digital executive for Obama 2012, and the former chief technology strategist for TomorrowVentures, Schmidt’s angel investment fund.

Uh huh. Here’s Groundwork’s logo, which sends rather a different message:


Nothing obfuscatory there! I like the digitized Cthulu tentacles below the surface, don’t you? Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn!

“Bernie Sanders exceeds Obama’s historic 2008 run in crowds, donors and polling” [Raw Story]. Though with a different demographic.

“How Bernie Sanders Connects With His Crowds” [New York Times].

“The Betty White of American Politics: Why Bernie’s Young Fans Love Him” [National Journal]. Maybe they sense he’s not a lying weasel?

Keith Ellison endorses Sanders [The Hill].

Trump: “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!” [@realDonaldTrump]. Trump: Right again!

The Hill

“The partnership behind a shuttered “clean coal” power plant has enlisted former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to push for a revival of the federally-backed project” [The Hill]. Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, September: “Overall, this report is moderate though the strength in employment could raise talk of strength for the October employment report” [Econoday]. “[S]mall businesses are reporting the most difficulty in finding qualified workers since 2007, pointing to the risk ahead of wage pressures.” And: “Three percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, historically low. Thirty-three percent reported all credit needs met, and 49 percent explicitly said they did not want a loan” [Econintersect]. They don’t want a loan?! So that’s why negative interest rates! Maybe if we just push harder on this string… 

Ag: “Palm oil futures recover, as Malaysian supplies fall short” [Agrimoney]. “Output has been hit by a spell of dry weather coupled with heavy air pollution.” And the air pollution is due to Indonesis burning its forests — for palm oil plantations. So unsustainable practice props up futures, because of anticipated scarcity. Is that a weird set of incentives, or what?

“In the absence of fresh government data, a few private groups have stepped in to estimate how big this ‘gig economy’ thing actually is” [WaPo]. If you think of it  as “the gig economy,” probably not very. If you think of it as “System D,” probably quite.

Honey for the Bears: “Make no mistake about it, just as Lehman Brothers was set up to take the fall for triggering the 2008 collapse, China is being groomed as the new scapegoat for the coming crisis. But China’s economic slump is only a symptom, not the disease” [Wall Street on Parade]. My priors: I’m a Maine bear. As we say up here: “Depression? What depression? We’ve always been depressed!”

Honey for the Bears: “Market-watchers have pointed to the recent spike in high-yield bond spreads and noted that this is the kind of move that happens as an economy goes into recession” (with handy chart) [Business Insider].

Honey for the Bears: “The $12.9 trillion U.S. government bond market — long considered the deepest and most liquid in the world — is now plagued by more bouts of turbulence than at any time since at least the 1970s. By one measure, outsize swings are occurring almost twice as often as statisticians would normally expect, according to data compiled by TD Securities” [Bloomberg]. “While nobody is saying the U.S. government bond market is broken and New York Fed researchers also concluded that HFT firms bring more accurate pricing and reduce the cost of trading, the stakes are high. Any worries about undue volatility in Treasuries have the potential to threaten confidence in a market that’s the benchmark for borrowers everywhere in the world.” (The Fed study driving this story.)

Honey for the Bears: “A goal of a 4% economy? That objective, mentioned frequently in the 2016 presidential race, is getting farther away, according to the latest projections from the staff of the Federal Reserve” [Market Watch]. “Minutes of the Fed’s Sept. 16-17 policy meeting disclose the Fed staff further trimmed its assumptions for the rates of productivity and potential growth over the medium term. The minutes did not specifically quantify the new forecast of the Fed’s in-house economists.”

The Fed: “Central bankers meeting at IMF say Fed shouldn’t delay on rate hikes” [Market Watch].

The Fed: “Fed Watch: Brainard Drops A Policy Bomb” [Tim Duy, Economists’ View]. “I think that this speech is a very deliberate action by Brainard to let Yellen and Fischer know that she will not got quietly into the night if they push forward with their plans.”

The Fed, Roger Farmer: “The only way to get out of the trap is to raise rates now and offset the contraction through simultaneous fiscal expansion” [Brad DeLong].

The Fed: “Inflation expectations for one-year ahead and three-year ahead slipped by another tenth of a percent in the latest New York Federal Reserve Bank’s inflation expectations survey, released Tuesday, but job-loss fears jumped notably, though are still below the 2015 peak” [Market News].

“49%: Share of auditor errors linked to the value of M&A deals” [Wall Street Journal, “The Big Number”]. “The percentage of auditor errors linked to M&A deals jumped over the past two years of inspections by the government’s auditing watchdog, according to a study by valuation advisory firm Acuitas Inc.”

Fear & Greed Index, October 13, 2015: 40 (-4); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 30 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

MH17 Report

“MH17 report release: As it happened” [BBC]. Live updates. Has the tape of Putin’s conversation with Obama been released yet?

“Dutch Safety Board: Buk missile downed MH17 in Ukraine” [AP].

“Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Tuesday he had no doubt Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by Russian special forces because “drunken separatists” could not have operated the missile” [Reuters]. “I was too drunk” might work for bros in some situations, but I’m a little non-plussed to see it applied here.


Dear Old Blighty

Our Famously Free Press

“Twitter’s Moment] just reinvented the newspaper. It’s not just any newspaper though — it has the potential to be the best newspaper in the world” [Stratechery]. I hope this is true. Of all the Silicon Valley social media companies, Twitter’s good/evil net seems the best to me.

“McClatchy Expected To Close Foreign Bureaus By End Of Year” [HuffPo]. So wrong. As I’ve said: McClatchy, as Knight-Ridder, got Iraq right, so they’re being punished. And all the organizations that assisted the Bush administration in its WMD disinformation campaign are being rewarded. 

“BuzzFeed will begin creating native video ads for politicians and political causes, the website will announce Monday” [Buzzfeed]. So either they make the ads look like Buzzfeed, corrupting their brand, or they don’t make the ads look like Buzzfeed, taking the politicians’ money for nothing. Which will it be?

“China—not online porn—is why Playboy is dumping nude photographs” [Quartz].


“The enigma behind America’s freak, 20-year lobster boom” [Quartz]. A truly excellent long-form article on the Maine lobster fishery.

A long and powerful interview with (one of) permaculture’s founder(s), Bill Mollison [Mother Earth News]. “What does create stability is a diversity in the relationships between species. That is the basis of permaculture: to see how many interacting relationships one can build into an agricultural setup.”

“Say goodbye to Miami and New Orleans. No matter what we do to curb global warming, these and other beloved U.S. cities will sink below rising seas, according to a study Monday” [Japan Times]. All I can say is, I hope they’ve got insurance!

“Researchers urge medical marijuana over opioids to treat neuropathic pain” [Globe and Mail].


“The Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance (IDORF) has proposed new administrative rules, effectively providing a tax cut worth tens of millions of dollars for Iowa manufacturers” [Bleeding Heartland]. “This is a serious overreach of executive power. And what is the stated purpose of this rule change? According to the notice, the rules are the “subject of a substantial confusion and controversy.” Furthermore, the change will eliminate “administratively burdensome distinctions…” How burdensome? $85,000. This is a very dense article, but well worth a read, and it would be interesting to know if the same slick move is being tried in other states.

“Rarely enforced SEC rules may give green light to earnings manipulation” [Francine McKenna, Market Watch]. “In fact, a new analysis finds, the enforcement of those  [clawback] rules—meant to reclaim compensation paid executives whose companies restated financial results as a result of misconduct—has been virtually nonexistent since they were adopted in 2002.” Let the accounting control fraud continue!

How America’s literary archives are being looted [Literary Hub]. “Because the story of this country is written on the backs of single sheets of paper, the theft of archival material is nothing short of a disaster. Books, articles, long-form journalism, documentaries—all of our nonfiction, and a fair amount of our fiction relies in some way on what is in these archives.”

Class Warfare

“Some brains are better than others at certain things, simply because of the way they’re wired. And now, scientists are closer to being able to determine precisely which brains those are, and how they got that way” [Wired]. Filing this under class warfare because I have this crazy feeling “environmental factors” (and epigenetic ones) aren’t random. At all. Because–

“New Findings From War on Poverty: Just Give Cash” [Bloomberg]. National Bureau of Economic Research:

Our results indicate that there are large beneficial effects of improved household financial wellbeing on children’s emotional and behavioral health and positive personality trait development

Back to Bloomberg (quoting Nature Neuroscience):

The second big new piece of evidence comes not from economics, but from neuroscience. In a study published this year in Nature Neuroscience, a large team of neurologists led by Kimberly Noble found a correlation between child brain structure and family income. Simply put, family income is correlated with children’s brain surface area, especially among poor children. More money, bigger-brained kids.

As I keep saying: They don’t call it class warfare for nothing.

“On America’s crisis of Democracy” [George Scialabba, Los Angeles Review of Books]. A 2012 classic from Scialabba.

“The Man Who Builds Luxury Bomb Shelters for Paranoid One Percenters” [Vice]. Proverbs 28:1… 

“Rich people are jerks, explained” [Vox].

News of the Wired

“Brain’s activity map makes stable ‘fingerprint'” [BBC]. Working out the premises for a science fiction novel on “brain fraud” here….

“Accurate, sexy, body-positive v*gina emoji are here” (NSWF, kinda) [The Verge]. It’s fascinating to see a global ideography being invented before our eyes.

“Someone just uploaded their complete collection of Kmart in-store background music” [Chart Attack]. Attention, shoppers…

“Podcast Host Mike Duncan Inks Book Deal” [AdWeek].

“But I Want It” [Slate]. Reminiscent of Louis CK’s “Why?” routine, but still fun!

* * *

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, a Poncirus (OregonCharles):


OregonCharles writes:

I like the Poncirus the best — though it’s not the showiest plant. It’s a bush, about 6 ft high. “Living barbed wire.”

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter is coming, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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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. OIFVet

    “I do not take my mandate from the European people.” Refreshingly honest. Should make for a nice epitaph after she is sent to meet Marie Antoinette.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      My question of her would be to ask from Whom, exactly, does Malmström take her marching orders?… and Why? Ditto U.S. Trade Representative Froman?

      1. OIFVet

        Thom Hartmann often advocates that politicians must be required to wear their corporate sponsorships like NASCAR drivers. The same should apply to unelected bureaucrats.

      2. William C

        The short answer is that the Commissioners are appointed by the EU member states governments acting as the European Council.

  2. Vatch

    Yesterday evening, i spent a little time relaxing in front of the TV. Usually I prefer science fiction, but somehow I surfed to MSNBC. I was pleasantly surprised to hear “TPP” mentioned several times on the Chris Hayes show (I think that’s who it was — the host had glasses). If this keeps up, before long, we’ll be hearing regular discussions of the carried interest exemption and private equity pension abuses on the television!

  3. Bill Smith

    MH17 Report

    Do I read this right: From todays reports, the Dutch (and the Western governments) and the Russian’s all say it is was BUK missile (of some sort)? Just not saying much less agreeing on who fired it?

    1. Pat

      My reading of the CNN report on their conference:

      They have confirmed the crash is the result of a missile detonating next to the cockpit. The crew was killed. The passengers were either killed or passed out almost immediately. No one would have survived the crash.
      It could have been a missile of the type also known as BUK. The investigation will proceed in order to try to determine for sure it was a BUK and where it was fired from.
      Added: It was stated in the press conference the Ukrainian government should have warned civil aeronautical authorities that there was a danger in the airspace, they knew and didn’t take the appropriate action.
      Russia is still disputing that this was a BUK and saying the Dutch have refused evidence they have to the contrary.

      We’ll have to see where they get to in the later report.

        1. Gaianne

          The Netherlands:

          We already know what happened, so a crash investigation would be superfluous. That’s why we delayed this for over a year.

          Oh, yes: And the families of our own dead nationals are SOL. They should be grateful for the chance to show their patriotism by sucking it up.


      1. low_integer

        It is not just whether or not it was a BUK missile, it is also what type of BUK missile it was, if it was in fact a BUK that brought the plane down. Russia’s contention is that the shape of the fragments found, which are a mix of bow-tie shaped pieces and diamond shaped pieces, indicate that it is an older type of BUK missile that their military has not used for a long time. I’m assuming the new type they use also has a distincive fragmentation pattern, and I’m not sure how long it has been since they have phased out use of the old type, or if that information has been made available. Russia has also claimed that the Ukraine military did possess the older type of BUK missile that corresponds to the fragments found.

        Interestingly, here in Australia, the news coverage I saw (SBS channel) of the Dutch (JIT) investigation last night was immediately followed with coverage of the Russian points noted above, with the manufacturer of the BUK missiles refuting some of the JIT’s claims after apparently having done some tests. It was fairly brief however I was surprised to see both sides get airtime.

        I have also been hearing that it was reported that passengers may have remained conscious for up to 90 seconds.

        Still very unclear who is responsible, imo.

        1. likbez

          From the post in another discussion:


          BREAKING NEWS: MH17 Downed by Missile Fired from Kiev-Controlled Territory – BUK Manufacturer

          Contradictory findings to the Dutch probe
          •– MH17 was downed by a missile fired from Kiev-controlled territory
          •– missile exploded 20 meters above portside area of engine
          •– explosion was on portside not starboard side of plane, as Dutch probe claims
          •– missile was an older version than previously thought because of the shape of the shrapnel holes found in the fuselage
          •– Dutch probe shows two types of strike elements, but there were three
          •– BUK is ready to give their probe’s conclusion to European courts

          Dutch probe findings will be released within the next few hours, stay tuned.

    2. Christopher Fay

      Who thinks of shooting down commercial aircraft while stumbling around the White House? The President, that’s whoooo

        1. Chris Williams

          No worries, mate. Enjoy your many posts.

          Not going to find truth here.

          Our guys, the ATSB, would have found the truth and be in the same position as the DBS, watering it down.

          Three, yes three, pieces of the numerous metal particles examined, hundreds, fit the right pattern of buk missile.

          I got nothing here, but a hunch. Already eating my words for suggesting the cause was not a Russian sponsored event. Where was the motive?

          1. low_integer

            Cheers. In a world with less deception I would just sit back and drink beer, and not bother to post my thoughts online. From what I’m seeing a BUK ain’t a BUK though, if you catch my drift.

          2. low_integer

            And now that I have had a few beers, I must say that “enjoy your many posts” sits a little uncomfortably with me.
            I will just assume it was well intentioned though.

    1. Ulysses

      “Maybe they sense he’s not a lying weasel?” This is, of course, a big part of his appeal, yet all serious politicians know telling the truth is a big risk:

      “At some point in this campaign, voters are going to get truth fatigue,” Dorrinson said. “Right now, the novelty of a politician who doesn’t constantly spew lies is grabbing headlines. But after months of Bernie Sanders telling the truth, voters are going to start wondering, Is that all he’s got?”


      1. different clue

        I hope he sticks with plain non-lying and makes it clear that “that’s all he’s got”. That would give us all a fair chance to see how many primary voters feel that plain truth is all they want.

  4. Brindle

    Groundworks logo…
    How ugly. I felt instant distrust and a low level revulsion. Perhaps that’s intended.

      1. Jim Haygood

        As for the ‘seeing eye pyramid’ on top, watch for hdr17 to give the devil’s horns hand symbol.

        1. ambrit

          You lost me there. What does hdr17 signify?
          I’m going to watch closely to see if Clinton wears that brooch with the ‘Pleiades’ design. If she does wear it, my worst fears will rise again from the depths of the White River.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Search your email. If ‘hdr17@clintonemail.com’ doesn’t appear, then you won’t be getting a national security letter from the FBI.

            1. Ian

              I always thought that instead of an eye and asshole would be a much better and more appropriate symbol. Perhaps someone should mock up a design.

                  1. ambrit

                    You are ‘officially’ a live man.
                    Anyway, have a look at all the vulval emojis on offer. An anal emoji shouldn’t be all that difficult to devise. H—, I’ll wager there are several floating around already. Besides, your idea gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Anal symbolism.” St. Genet, save us!

      2. ambrit

        My first thought on that was that it is a schematic for the microchip our “Benevolent Masters” will implant in us at birth in order to “keep us safe” and “help” us “live better.”

      3. Brindle

        Recently I was driving on a very remote road in the the middle of the desert in central Nevada. Didn’t see another car in over an hour, then a convoy of a dozen semis or so came by. They were all totally white except on the sides—where the Groudworks logo was visible…… (fiction, but…)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looks a little like Yangshao Banpo culture pottery, like this one:


    2. Carolinian

      It looks like the civil defense logo they used to put on bomb shelters–for those of us old enough to remember that.

      So actually it’s highly appropriate.

      1. Jessica

        Yes, it looks like the logo left behind on the toxic sites of a fallen civilization in an attempt to warn away people tens of thousands of years later.
        Or if it was on an alien artifact, you know that Sigourney Weaver can’t be far away.

    3. different clue

      It looked to me like a stylized evergreen tree. The little dot is the “trunk”. The lines in the “ground” are the roots. It could have been prettier, but I am guessing that is what was intended.

  5. allan


    Iraq has begun bombing Islamic State insurgents with help from a new intelligence center with staff from Russia, Iran and Syria, a senior parliamentary figure said on Tuesday about cooperation seen as a threat to U.S. interests in the region.

    When Condi talked about the birth pangs of a new Middle East, little did she know …

      1. OIFVet

        True. There are a number of websites that list alternative names and common products that contain palm oil, so one can do the research ahead of time. Safe rule of thumb to figure out whether a food-like product contains palm oil: if the label lists only vegetable oil and no animal fats, and also lists presence of saturated fat, than it is quite safe to assume that it contains palm oil. Most other vegetable oils are required to be listed (peanut, sesame, soy, etc) due to allergies. Palm oil has almost 4 times the amount of saturated fats than most other vegetable oils, so if saturated fat is 40% or higher of the total fat content, then palm oil is present.

        1. different clue

          I am guessing here that palm oil and coconut oil are two different kinds of oils grown in different parts of Asian countries. Coconut oil is grown outside the Orangutan Zone, I believe.
          So coconut oil remains harmless to buy. Does anyone have better information?

    1. ambrit

      Hah! These MSM lite articles don’t go far enough. If Miami and N’awlins go under, so will dozens of world ports, not to mention all the coastal food producing regions. One example would be Bangladesh. It’s not just flooding, but political chaos following on the displacement of tens of millions people. There will be wars for land and food. The “Syrian” migrants ‘bedeviling’ Europe are but a foretaste.

      1. Lee

        My house is about a half-mile from the SF bay shoreline and ten feet above sea level. If the earthquake doesn’t get me, the sea-level rise will.

        Who coined the phrase: “San Francisco, the city that waits to die”? I associate it with Columnist Herb Caen for some reason but I can’t find confirmation of that association online. The Google brings up a 1971 BBC documentary geological film by that name.

        1. ambrit

          I’m not up on SF history, but N’awlins has a similar love hate relationship with the sea. I lived there and in the region for twentyfive years. My wife is from Metairie, the primary suburb of New Orleans. The pumping stations for the Parish Drainage System are incredibly large. You have to stand next to one of the pumps to understand how much work must be done to keep Orleans and Jefferson Parishes above water. Yet, with all of the hard data available concerning sea level rise, plus the unpredictable ‘surge’ scenarios, no one is planning for the relocation of the entire population to higher ground. Central Louisiana and Mississippi have giant areas of undeveloped land available. As usual, nothing will be done until the disaster hits. Then fingers will point, and apologia blossom forth.
          I think Frank Herbert wrote a novel about a human colony offworld where the people had to live either in habitats under water or on floating islands. There used to be a tribe that lived on floating reed islands in the marshes at the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Saddam got rid of them by getting rid of the marsh itself. This was when he was still “our man in Baghdad.”

              1. ambrit

                Perhaps a subconscious linking of ‘Tony Soprano’ and Saddam Hussein? (I was going to add Obama to that list and decided at the last moment that ‘Barry’ wasn’t in the same class as Tony and Saddam.)

        2. Gio Bruno

          The state of California is way ahead of you, Lee. They’ve done modelling of sea level rise all along the coast and SF is actually high and dry. Sacramento (Delta areas) and San Diego (lots of low beach area/Naval port) are the most critical zones.

          A secondary affect of sea level rise is that streams and rivers will now flood inland areas. This is expected to impact the sole hospital in my city.

    2. Synoia

      If those Cities go underwater, so does every coastal sewage plant on the planet.

      Which provides real meaning to the phrase “No Shit,” and a baseline value for all that expensive coastal real estate — $0.

      1. different clue

        We should all try our very hardest to convince global warming deniers to buy all the oceanside seacoast land they can possibly afford to buy. We should take their own stated belief in denialism at face value and get them to see what a huge contrarian investment opportunity they have if they are right and everyone else is wrong.

  6. ambrit

    I like the Cthulu logo. The triangle is great! (Hey, think ‘triangulation’, trilateral commission, and the dreaded Eye of the New World Order!) The tentacles need some work. Contact Guillermo del Toro about that. He takes his tentacles seriously!
    The invocation for Groundworks should more accurately be: “Ia! Ia! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Clinton R’lyeh wgah’nagl ftaghn.” True on so many mundane and extra mundane levels.

  7. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    On the EU: Maastricht created a beast- a pliant tool of the Americans that can be counted on to manage European politics the same way American politics are run. Plenty of vigorous ‘debate’ within carefully approved channels. Chomsky/Hermann had this stuff figured out 20 + years ago.

    On the “Wired” thing – Like Bergson, I don’t believe we can reduce psychological phenomenon to physical states. Naturally, the wiring and plumbing has some impact. But it’s never been remotely proved that reality can be reduced to the random collisions of particles.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I like the Poncirus the best — though it’s not the showiest plant. It’s a bush, about 6 ft high. “Living barbed wire.”

    Is it to keep the ponciruses in or to keep the fruit-pickers out?

    1. optimader

      Hey Beef
      Utterly OT but this is for you

      The Velvet Glove by Harry Harrison, Unabridged audiobook full length videobook

      SF writer and editor Harry Harrison explores a not too distant future where robots–particularly specialist robots who don’t know their place–have quite a rough time of it. True, the Robot Equality Act had been passed — but so what?

      New York was a bad town for robots this year. In fact, all over the country it was bad for robots. . . .

      The Robot Equality Act released robots from human ownership, but didn’t make them equal. They’re still subject to number of legal and social restriction plus they have the added burden of having to find work in a society that by and large hates them.

      Like most robots, Jon Venex has been making do with a series of temporary jobs. When he read a notice that a company is looking robots with his specialty, he can hardly get there fast enough…

  9. Oregoncharles

    “It’s fascinating to see a global ideography being invented before our eyes.”

    It’s the return of pictograms – like hieroglyphics, or old Chinese characters. It may not be coincidental that the Japanese are leading this; until recently, Japanese was literally written in Chinese.

    The article uses “vagina” for “vulva,” an annoying error that is becoming standard. Those are vulvas.

    I don’t quite get why there are so many versions, granted that the real thing is at least that varied. It defeats the purpose of a pictogram. (One picture=one word.)

    1. ambrit

      My take on this:
      To the best of my knowledge, ’emojis’ are pictorial representations of emotional states. Thus, the use of ‘vagina,’ an emotion freighted word in todays’ language, instead of the correct ‘vulva,’ a more staid and dispassionate term. Another example of this would be the use of “F— You” instead of “Copulate You,” as an expression of emotional distaste.
      Since ’emojis’ are intended to be representations of emotional states, the plethora of pictographs for vulva can be compared to the Inuit languages possession of a myriad of words to describe snow. I found it curious to not find an example of “vagina dentata” among the emojis.

      1. 3.17e-9

        I always thought it was interesting that in the English language, we use male parts to insult a particularly stupid or mean person, while in French, they use female parts, specifically the vulva and not vagina. “Il est con” typically is translated to, “He’s a dick,” but “con” derives from the Latin cunnus, about which more need not be said, lest one transgress the boundaries of « le capitalisme nu».

      2. Peter Pan

        ambrit beat me to it. Where’s the one with teeth ? Would it be too representative of Hillary Clinton ?

        1. ambrit

          Actually, I was hesitant to put that particular idea out there because it is a generally ‘male’ conception, and thus betrays my personal psychology a bit too much. But hey, everybody here already knows I can be a “d—head.”

    2. hunkerdown

      Until there’s a UCS codepoint assigned, it’s “some dude/chick’s art project”, just like company names or swishy insignias in a frothy bubble. Sounds more like a native ad for a clip art library integrated with chat clients…

      1. low_integer

        I had to have a look at this link, being a guy and all, but I too primarily saw it as an attention seeking endeavour by the creators. “Let’s make something controversial!”

        Would women ever use these? I can’t imagine they would, or maybe with their partner(s?) only. The only use I could see for these would be guy’s replying to their buddy after said buddy messages that they can’t make it to the bar/party because they’re too tired or hungover. “You’re a pussy”.

        Then again, what would I know? I’ve never even owned a smart phone. I’m just glad these weren’t available when Julie Bishop did her ‘groundbreaking’ emoji interview (shudder).

        1. low_integer

          And just to be clear, it is not Julie Bishop’s appearance or age that make me shudder, it is who she is as a person. A google search of ‘asbestos Julie Bishop’ will provide some insight, for anyone who is interested.

  10. Carolinian

    The Eric Schmidt story: buried in all that management-speak is this key paragraph

    With tech policy an increasingly important part of the president’s job—consider merely the issues of NSA surveillance and anti-trust policy, not to mention self-driving cars and military robots—helping to elect yet another president could be incredibly valuable to Schmidt and to Google.

    However in case this motive sounds a bit crass there’s also

    He explained that the Groundwork and its parent company, Chicago-based Timshel—which according to its website is named for a Hebrew word meaning “you may” and is devoted to “helping humanity solve our most difficult social, civic, and humanitarian challenges”—are “all one project, with the same backers,” whom he declined to name.

    A vote for Hillary is a vote for Humanity–it’s that simple.

    1. OIFVet

      Meet our newest product: “You may” – 50% more bootstrappiness than our best-selling “Yes we can,” for the same low price! This limited time offer expires November 2016, hurry while supplies last!

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert, Thank you for the link to the article from Wall Street on Parade. Agree that “China’s economic slump is only a symptom, not the disease,” which Pam and Russ Martens have diagnosed. However, my question is the extent to which the central banks in the BRICS, and particularly the leadership of the Peoples Bank of China, have been complicit, and why?

  12. rich

    McConnell’s Last Stand: He Wants Medicare, Social Security Cuts to Raise Debt Limit

    The changes McConnell is reportedly demanding are not minor tweaks to government programs. According to CNN, he wants to reduce the annual cost of living adjustment to the Social Security payments that millions of Americans rely on each month. He also wants to raise the eligibility age for Medicare and limit the benefits available to wealthy recipients. In addition, McConnell is looking to add policy riders to any debt limit legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing some of its new Clean Water requirements.


    1. different clue

      So McConnell wants to Obamafy our Medicare and Social Security. Hopefully Sanders will be nasty enough to hang that around McConnell’s neck. Drive him out of the primaries before the CFP MSM can start selling McConnell as the “other progressive”.

  13. 3.17e-9

    The poncirus photo is THE BEST ever! A plant with thorns and bitter but edible fruit is right up my alley. If they grow in Oregon, we probably have them up here in Washington, too.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, they’re deciduous and very hardy, despite being a citrus relative. The fruits smell heavenly (not like citrus) and are used as a flavoring – marmalade, etc. Haven’t tried it myself.

      They’re sometimes literally used as living barbed wire; the thorns can be two inches long.

  14. jo6pac

    I would like to say thanks to Lambert for tonight’s live blog and to all commenters. I’ll come back tomorrow and read up on it, all do to I’m starting my own drinking game early so I miss the rush;)

    1. Peter Pan

      I already finished my 3rd hobo-beer & two bong hits. So I too will be reading up on it when I wake up at noon tomorrow.

  15. low_integer

    Re: Children’s brain development as a function of parents financial stability.

    I wholly agree that class warfare is the appropriate place for this to be filed.

  16. Jim Haygood

    While the big stocks of the S&P 500 drifted down mildly today from their ‘Mad Dog 2020’ glass ceiling, the 2,000 minnows of the Russell 2000 small cap index got whomped by 1.47%. Chart:


    Also unlike big stocks, which equalled their mid-September level today, the Russell 2000 index shows nothing but downward-sloping stair steps since the first day of summer.

    It just don’t look right.

    1. ambrit

      The big boys could be buoyed up by stock buy backs while the Small Caps don’t have the liquidity to indulge in such shenanigans. If that’s so, then there’s trouble in River City. I must admit to trepidation at seeing such a big drop so fast. All those Small Caps are the secondary employment drivers for our economy. Sooner or later the much anticipated ‘Demand Drop’ effect should kick in big time.

    1. different clue

      The more millenials can learn how to provide some of their physical subsistence/survival needs directly without going through the earn money/ spend money cycle now, the better they will be able to meet more of their physical subsistence/survival needs when they are old . . . when they really will be getting less or very little money.

      Of course that is also true for pre-retirement boomers too . . . perhaps to a lesser extent.

      1. ambrit

        I agree. Too many people are assuming an adequate food supply from ‘somewhere else.’ As to that ‘annual’ figure…

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