2:00PM Water Cooler 10/23/2015

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente


TPP: “‘I’m very worried about the Technical Barriers to Trade chapter…. This is the chapter that will essentially hamstring the capacity of governments in the United States and around the Pacific Rim to regulate dangerous chemicals of the kinds that cause cancer and autism and birth defects,’ said [Friends of Earth Trade Policy Analyst Bill Waren]” [Accuweather (!)].

TTIP: “As Miami talks wind up, environmental safeguards are ‘virtually non-existent’ in trade deal negotiating text for sustainable development, lawyers say” [Guardian]. 

TTIP: “The necessity of TTIP’s success stems from the threat to Europe (and, thus, to the transatlantic relationship) posed by Vladimir Putin, who is working to subvert the deal” [Cato Institute]. Wait, that means it’s not a “trade deal”?

TTIP: ” But even as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke sounded more optimistic on Wednesday about the negotiations, a European Commission decision that Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler must pay back up to $22 million in tax breaks set off grumbling in the U.S. business community” [Politico]. “‘The ruling injects ‘a significant degree of uncertainty into the business climate, retroactively calling into question thousands of tax arrangements that were previously understood to be legal and appropriate,’ complained Sean Heather, a vice president at the [US Chamber of Commerce].” I’ve never understood the whinging about “uncertainty.” I thought entrepreneurs thrived on risk.



Flesch-Kincaid readability test shows Trump speaks to voters at the fourth-grade level, Clinton at the eighth grade level, and Sanders at the level of a high school sophomore [USA Today]. So if Sanders wants to win, he should emulate Trump.


UPDATE “Jeb Bush is shaking up his struggling presidential campaign, ordering across-the-board pay cuts, downsizing his headquarters staff, cutting ties with some consultants and refocusing his efforts on retail campaigning and on-the-ground organizing in the early voting states” [WaPo]. Weird to announce this Friday morning, instead of burying it after 5:00PM. Message to funders? Wall Street always loves job cuts, after all.

UPDATE Private jet spending. Well, look who’s #3!

“The main super PAC backing Donald Trump is shutting down amidst increasing scrutiny of its ties to Trump’s campaign” [Politico].

UPDATE “This wireless meat thermometer out-raised Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal [on Kickstarter] by almost $300,000” [Recode]. Ouch. And Jindal isn’t even wired!

The Trail

Chafee drops Presidential race [US News]. Had raised $15,000. Message had been “prosperity through peace,” which has the great merit of being true, but politics ain’t beanbag.

“Lincoln Chafee finally says it: Hillary’s too corrupt to be president” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo]. A fair summary of Chafee’s views, actually.

“Iowa Poll: Carson surges to 9-point lead; Trump slides” [Des Moines Register].

UPDATE: “Here’s Why Donald Trump Really Could Be Elected President” [Vanity Fair]. “[T]he election comes down to Florida and Ohio, two states where Trump has significant advantages.”

“As a man who has been lauded and lacerated his entire career for a lack of political discipline, Biden certainly had the urge to hurl the football down the field for a Hail Mary pass one more time” [US News]. “Instead, he bucked his defining political instinct and took a knee.”

The Hill

Leadership Contest

Freedom Caucus co-founder, of Ryan: “It’s like interviewing a maid for a job, and she says, ‘I don’t clean windows, I don’t do floors, I don’t do beds, these are the hours I’ll work” [Chicago Tribune]. Well, that sets the expectations nicely, eh?

“[Ryan] promises to delay discussions of overhauling a procedural mechanism to oust a sitting speaker” [Politico]. “Possible changes to the so-called “motion to vacate” will now come as part of a larger discussion of reworking internal party and House rules. Should he become House speaker, Ryan will set a deadline by which the House Republican Conference will change chamber and party rules.” This is the mechanism that determines whether Ryan will keep his job.

“Paul Ryan, a Speaker for the Freedom Caucus” [Editorial, New York Times]. ” He showed real cunning [!] in stating his conditions for agreeing to accept the office, but he will have to be even more crafty [!!!] to survive their demands and ultimatums.”


Headline: “Benghazi bust” [Byron York, Washington Examiner]. “There’s a reason Benghazi Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy offered Hillary Clinton the chance to testify in a private, closed hearing. And there’s a reason Clinton wanted to appear in an open setting, with the whole world watching.”

Headline: “The Benghazi Hearing Should Not Be, But Is, A Waste of Time” [Erick Erickson]. “The hearings are a waste of time because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen. There will be no scalp collection. In fact, it is clear from today’s hearing that Trey Gowdy and Peter Roskam seem to be the only two people on the committee of either party who are capable of asking exacting, precise questions. Most of the rest of the committee just wants to grandstand for the folks back home as either prosecutors of or defenders of Hillary Clinton.”

Headline: “The Conservative Reviews [see above] Are In: Benghazi Hearing a Bust” [Bloomberg]. ‘In the end, Republicans threw some red meat to their conservative base but failed to land a blow to Clinton’s credibility or unearth a meaningful discovery about the 2012 attacks on a U.S. outpost that left four Americans dead in Libya. It wasn’t just Clinton loyalists saying that.”

So, a Martian would conclude that: (1) The Libyan operation, as such, was jake with the angels (along with setting the rest of the south and east Mediterranean and Black Sea littoral on fire, I suppose) and (2) henceforth, American officials can privatize all their digital communications. So far as the bipartisan consensus in the Beltway’s political class, what’s not to like? Well done, all.

Debt Ceiling/Government Shutdown Cliffs

“If House Speaker John Boehner has a debt ceiling strategy, he has only a handful of days to sketch it out and begin to move legislation through Congress. Boehner is scheduled to leave Congress in a week and Treasury has said that it will exhaust it’s extraordinary measures on November 3” [Market News].

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, October 2015: “In a surprise upturn boosted by domestic demand, the manufacturing PMI is signaling monthly strength, coming in at 54.0 for the October flash for the best showing since May. New orders are at a seven-month high and are described as strong despite only a modest contribution from export orders.” [Econoday]. “This report conflicts with the regional manufacturing reports which so far are pointing to another weak month for October. And this report typically runs hot.”

“Investors raced back into higher-yielding junk bond funds at the fastest pace in four years, following a broad rally in both equity and fixed income markets as concern the Federal Reserve will tighten policy this year faded” [Across the Curve (quoting the FT)]. “Junk bond funds have recorded their best single month since the first quarter of 2012 following four months of declines, gaining 2.64 per cent, according to Barclays Indices.” Consistent with the Greed & Fear index; maybe there’s something to it (hat tip, Jim Haygood).

“Traditionally limited to institutional investors and high-net-worth clients, J.P. Morgan is about to make it easier for retail investors to gain access at the IPO price. The bank is announcing today that it will partner with Motif Investing to give ordinary investors the option to purchase shares in IPOs that are managed by J.P. Morgan” [TechCrunch].

“China’s central bank cut benchmark interest rates for the sixth time since November on Friday in a bid to support the slowing economy with lower financing costs for home mortgages and loans to big companies. [FT, “China cuts rates again as economy slows”]. “The People’s Bank of China also cut the share of customer deposits banks must hold in reserve, injecting Rmb560bn ($90bn) of cash into the banking system to counteract the cash drain from capital outflows in recent months.” That sounds a little sketchy to me. Readers?

“Total international containers handled by the Northwest Seaport Alliance increased 3.7 percent in September from the same month last year as the ports of Seattle and Tacoma continue to regain traffic lost earlier in the year due to port congestion and labor disruptions associated with the coastwide longshore contract negotiations” [Longshore & Shipping News]. Turns out the unions had some muscle after all, eh?

Ag: Farmers hedging on their machinery by leasing it [Agrimoney]. Literally hedging, if I understand the column correctly.

Honey for the Bears: “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index which forecasts economic growth six months forward – declined and remains in negative territory. This index had spent 28 weeks in negative territory, then 15 weeks in positive territory – and now is in its tenth week in negative territory [Econintersect]. Crapified economy staggering along….

Rapture Index: Down 1 on oil supply (180) [Rapture Ready]. The higher the index, the closer the Rapture.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 (+2); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“An amendment to a controversial cybersecurity bill will allow US courts to pursue and jail foreign nationals even if the crimes they commit are against other foreigners and on foreign soil” [Guardian]. Hmm. 

Dear Old Blighty

“The number of people in-work who fall below the poverty line has risen by 70 per cent in London” [Telegraph].

When I listened to the news this week reporting on George Osborne’s plans to take £1,300 a year or £108.33 a month – that’s £25 a week – away from low-paid families, I cried.

Of course, a mere £25 is what Osborne might spend on a single bottle of wine.

But when you are strapped for cash, like I am, £25 is equivalent to a week’s worth of vegetables, milk and eggs.

Luxury! Who said the poor deserved milk?

“The regulator of water companies has been accused of allowing firms to enjoy a profits windfall of £800m at the expense of the consumer” [Sky News].


“Dyson accuses Bosch of cheating on vacuum cleaner efficiency tests” [Ars Technica]. Bosch also wrote the cheat code for VW, of course. Sounds like they’ve got an entire engineering department devoted to that!


“Women hoping to fall pregnant should avoid “toxic June”, scientists have suggested, after showing that babies do less well if they are conceived in the summer month” [Telegraph]. “Scientists believe that high levels of pesticides sprayed on crops and differing levels of light and vitamin d could be responsible for the differences.”

Class Warfare

Political Economy 101 explainer: “You can divide up the economy into two parts: money that goes to workers, in the form of wages and benefits, and money that goes to owners of capital, in the form of corporate dividends, bond payments, rent to landlords, etc.” [Dylan Matthews, Vox]. Hmm. First, one might do a “Fixed it for ya” routine: There’s money that “goes to workers,” and money that “ goes to owners of capital is taken from workers.” (For the capitalist perspective, simply invert.) Second, just read the words: All the forms of capital listed are extractive and parasitical (see Michael Hudson’s Killing the Host). Vox mentions dividends, interest, and rent. But — amazingly — they do not mention profit, and they do not mention capital cycled back into the capital investment, presumably to satisfy demand and serve the social purpose that allocating capital surplus to requirements presumably serves. One might speculate that Vox is faithfully reflecting the views of its squillionaire funders, here; that they themselves agree they are parasites. Now, I don’t want to be overly harsh to Matthews here; this is, after all, a piece on labor’s declining share of income. But the words have a plain meaning..

“Study shows Maine’s lottery amounts to multimillion-dollar tax on poor” [Bangor Daily News]. “For every 1 percent increase in joblessness in a given ZIP code, sales of scratch and draw tickets jump 10 percent.” So the lottery is an automatic stabilizer. Except backwards.

“Entrepreneurs are redesigning the basic building block of capitalism” [The Economist]. “But, after a century of utter dominance, the public company is showing signs of wear.”

“I Cannot Stop Laughing at These Tone-Deaf Airbnb Ads” (with images of said ads) [Motherboard]. “Are the Yes Men viciously parodying Airbnb? This reads like something an entitled, clueless San Francisco startup would say, but then would be prevented from actually saying by the sole adult in the room charged by the board of directors to stop all the babies in hoodies from having an accident all over themselves.”

News of the Wired

“A Whirlwind Tutorial on Creating Really Teensy ELF Executables for Linux” [Muppet Labs (RE)]. I recommend that all humanities majors read this explication de texte; there really is such a thing as software engineering.

“System shock” [Medium]. “A story of a 25-year-old font coming back with a vengeance.” To me, typography is the last vestige of pure love in tech. I just hope somebody in the NSA (or the Google/Facebook/Apple imperium) hasn’t managed to turn fonts into tracking devices, or something.

“The cloud is well on its way to becoming the standard model for IT, just sixteen years after it first formed. It couples flexibility, scale, and reliability to user-friendliness and ubiquity. It has created some of the world’s largest companies, as well as empowering some of the smallest” [Ars Technica]. And all you’ve got to do is give up control of your data.

UPDATE “I’ll give you any valuation you want if you let me write the rest of the term sheet” – Every VC who has ever lived” [Pando]. Unlocked just now.

“NIH’s mental health chief on why he’s leaving for Google: Technology may hold key to better diagnosis” [WaPo]. “At Google, he’ll be exploring how the company’s technological expertise can be applied to mental-health issues.” Just what we need: Google’s nutball hive mind defining sanity.

“Cheese is addictive as drugs, study finds” [Telegraph]. “Research by University of Michigan finds love of pizza is largely because of cheese addiction.”

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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 (Pat):


Mastershalums, as Pooh called them.

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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. Tertium Squid

    Chafee drops out, it’s for the best – “Feel the Chafe!” would have been much inferior to Senator Sanders’ unofficial slogan.

      1. Laughingsong

        ROFLMAO! I purt near soiled myself laughing so hard . . . Thanks T. Squid, for a big Friday giggle!

  2. hardWorkingBee

    Re TTIP and the environment. Looks like oil companies are going to be paid to keep their ‘alleged reserves’ of crude on the ground to stop ‘global warming’. The con is coming.

    Companies will be able to sue countries if environmental regulations affect profits or even reputation.

    From Angry Bear.

    1. Synoia

      Has the appearance of either:

      1. Methinks he doth protest too much (Dyson that is),


      2. Evidence of German Thoroughness is executing an idea across the board.

      Probably not both.

    2. Ulysses

      Don’t let the prospect of scoring a ten-bagger, as Jeb Bush’s speechwriter, go to your head, c-man. You have standards to uphold here!

      1. craazyman

        I wonder if somebody who cheats on a vacuum cleaner test feels dirty afterward. hahahah

        Whoa! How dumb was the dumb blonde?

        She was so dumb she studied all-night for a vacuum cleaner test.

        Whoa! It’s Deep Thoughts Time!
        Does the winner of a vacuum cleaner test leave any crumbs for the competition?


        Whoa! if you win a vacuum cleaner test three times in a row did you sweep ’em!

        If they made a movie about a dude who cheats on vacuum cleaner tests would they call it “Dirty Hairy”? hahahahahaha

        Whoa these are so bad they’re hilarious. hahahah. That’s it. I’ve got to go lay around and do nothing. See ya . . .

    1. griffen

      I think if you view past the headline, you’ll see the real point of the name. College students collectively decide on doing something inane in January or February; go out for a run, and then chow on some doughnuts. Notably, those students were attending NC State.

      “The Krispy Kreme Challenge started as a friendly dare among 10 N.C. State students in December 2004. After the event received coverage from campus newspapers and was ranked 85th on Sports Illustrated’s “102 More Things You Gotta Do Before You Graduate” list, student organizers from N.C. State’s Park Scholars program decided to capitalize on the zany event’s ability to draw crowds and attention by turning the Challenge into a fundraiser for UNC Children’s.”

  3. optimader

    RE: Trump/Sanders/Clinton Grade Level Comprehension
    There may be some political merit to Tump’s approach. Not necessarily healthy for the countries political discourse/decision making process, but strategic merit for him.

    “Summarizing several studies done in the United States and Canada, the average reading skill level was estimated to be at around the 8th to 9th grade (University of Utah Health Sciences Center). However, this same study found that about one in five adults had a reading skill level at the 5th grade level or below.” http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/jun02.asp


    But it’s interesting to note that:

    many newspapers and magazines are written to a 9th grade level;
    USA Today, New York Times, and the New Yorker are written to a 10th grade level;
    The Times of India is the least readable, at a 15th grade level.
    John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, and Clive Cussler write at a 7th grade level;
    Romance novels are often written at a 5th grade level


    1. Carolinian

      It’s a silly thing to be concerned about much less to try to quantify. The purpose of language is to communicate and for that purpose simpler can be better. Shaw, of course, satirized the whole notion of language as class signifier with Pygmalion.

      1. optimader

        I can agree there is no honor in obfuscation with language, vocabulary, rhetoric, or creating barriers for that matter. OTOH there are legitimate reasons why communication skills advance past the third grade that go well beyond the superficialities of class distinction.
        Einstein’s comment about over simplification comes to mind.

    2. James Levy

      I would dare these people to give a copy of “The Andromeda Strain” or “Duma Key” to a 7th grader and have them come out understanding what went on or why. Perhaps 7th grade kids from privileged Jewish and WASP families in the 1960s, but average 7th graders today? Not a chance. My college Freshman would have had issues with both those books.

      1. ambrit

        Second try at a comment.
        The rise of mini computers and digital ‘aids’ could have a hand in that. I remember having to hand in my slide rule for math tests. We were expected to know the subject well enough to do the work in our heads, or on paper.
        Crichton is hard for these people??? I had to read Henry James, (“We could have been friends…”) Conrad, and Sartre in tenth grade, then do an essay in class for each as the test. Granted, we might have been the exceptions, but academics was pushed in my schools. One memorable year, some of the “bussed” students from Miami’s “Overtown” rioted, partly due to the expectations suddenly thrust upon them. They were justifiably pissed off because of the sudden intense pressure to ‘succeed’ placed on them resulted in a giant proportion of them failing. This was eventually a teachable moment, as it were, because it showed starkly how low the academic standards were in the ‘segregated’ schools. Alas, instead of providing more support for raising the standards in the ‘poor’ schools, the nation turned about and lowered the standards for everyone. You (don’t) get what you (don’t) pay for. As a school teacher I used to argue politics with put it; “No Child Left Behind” means we are all left in the dust.”
        Good luck in your endeavours Mr (Professor?) Levy!

      2. optimader

        Later in grade school I began testing the limits of the interlibrary loan service and it really had nothing to do with privilege, or school for that matter. Two observations I will offer, I was sampling a lot of material that was way above my intellectual process level and vocabulary. I had the family unabridged Webster dictionary (which I still have) so I was at least absorbing language, style and the ability to focus. Content?, much of that was above my paygrade at the time as it turned out.

        Going back as an adult reading and rereading authors like KVonnegut, Gunter Grass, Schopenhauer, Dostoyevsky… ? The value of all the factors that added up to mature reading comprehension are vitally important. The notion of anything past say 5th grade comprehension being a form of class warfare it toxic to our society.

        IMO you can draw a straight-line inverse cause /effect relationship to the lowering barrier of personal technology and the operational reading/writing/comprehension/math skills/music skills of the AVERAGE population in our society.. We don’t have a monopoly on this phenom,, but our society is the one I am most familiar with.

        Sidebar to Ambrit,
        You have a few years on me, but same deal, couldn’t use the slideruler in gradeschool/highschool and couldn’t use the slideruler/ hand calculator in college during tests.
        I feel the consequence to our acquiescence to the reliance on calculators/computers is observable is the inability of many younger people to whom I am exposed to mentally interpolate, –basic math and orders of magnitude. Preposterous spreadsheet conclusions that cannot possibly be.

        The innumerate conditioning can been seen at the most ubiquitous societal level of fast food registers using product icons that generate correct change rather than a numeric format and the requirement of making change. We’ve come along way from the mechanical cash register and cash receipt reconciling, and I am not so sure this “progress” it isn’t reflected in the basic critical thinking skills and brain wiring of the average citizen.

        1. ambrit

          Remember the original Texas Instrument handheld calculators? I do because one of my room mates at University was first generation Chinese Texican. We earned beaucoup pitchers of beer down at the Boot, the local hangout, when this roommate would regularly beat some engineering students using one of the TI behemoths in a computation speed contest, using an abacus! He ended up in medical research. He had Voice of the Theatre speakers for his sound system. Glory days indeed.
          I too have to had to help the cashier make change at the check out line. What is most disconcerting about this is that the young people don’t realize the disadvantage they are at.
          I must admit that I got a lot more out of books such as The Secret Agent, the Americans, and Nausea with a second reading later in life. Not to mention Kerouac, Bowles, or both Burroughs.

  4. ekstase

    You know, about that assessing people’s speech by grade levels: didn’t it seem, even back in third grade, that we were not all operating on the same levels? I mean, I get it about the speech, but could it be that there are other factors here that we are missing, like someone may have derailed emotionally in 3rd grade, and perhaps their adult speech is a desperate attempt to get some help?

    1. jrs

      Maybe never use language more complex than is needed to communicate whatever you are communicating.

      Trump derailed emotionally at 3rd grade? I would believe it :)

  5. reslez

    > I’ve never understood the whinging about “uncertainty.” I thought entrepreneurs thrived on risk.

    NC’s Water Cooler: Your source for Vetinari-level snark…

        1. omg the stupid i just can't anymore

          707 = LOL that LOL’d so hard it fell out of its chair and is upside down

  6. mle.detroit

    “Entrepreneurs are redesigning the basic building block of capitalism” [The Economist].”:

    “Because they are private rather than public, they measure how they are doing using performance indicators (such as how many products they have produced) rather than elaborate accounting standards.”

    The rest of the piece is equally amusing. Oh, the pleasures of failing often with OPM.

  7. Ranger Rick

    Just wait, our first control study (Dell before and after going private) should be a blockbuster at MBA school in a few years.

  8. Daryl

    > “Cheese is addictive as drugs, study finds”

    > The key to cheese addiction is an ingredient called casein which is found in cheese and releases opiates called casomorphins.

    This idea that fat foods mimic opiates is a sort of persistent, odd idea.


    Some foods do contain these which interact with the body’s opoid receptors, but assuming that food is going to do pharmacologically similar things as opium is pretty extreme: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8169274

    Of course, companies do engineer food to be addictive which is concerning in its own right: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html

    1. armchair

      Getting off of cheese is the worst. First, there are the cold cheese sweats, followed by nightmarish cheese-withdrawal hallucinations. It is no coincidence that rats are associated with cheese, because that’s what you’ll be seeing if you try to quit the junk, cold turkey. Anyone buying stock in cheese addiction recovery centers?

    2. 3.17e-9

      I have been allergic to milk all my life – not lactose-intolerant, but allergic (ironic, because I grew up on a dairy farm in the second-largest dairy state in the nation). When I was in kindergarten, the teacher forced me to drink my milk, sometimes putting me in a dark corner for two hours, until I finished every drop. Every day, I went home with a screaming headache, which no one noticed. It would be at least 15 years before milk allergies were confirmed. In the meantime, I got sent home with a note from the appropriately named Mrs. King informing my mother that I had a “problem with authority.”

      As we know, the studies finally came out, and it turned out that headaches were indeed a common symptom of dairy allergy. This was not just milk, but all dairy, including cheese, which was not deemed to be any worse, even though one of the two proteins that trigger the allergy is casein. According to the cheese addiction theory, cheese is more addictive than milk because the caseins are concentrated; it takes ten pounds of milk to make a pound of cheese. Well, ten pounds of milk is about 18.5 8-oz. glasses – as opposed to 16 1-oz. servings in a pound of cheese. Even if you eat double or triple that, we’re still talking about 3:1 and not 10:1.

      There are many other possible reasons for not being able to get off the cheese. Cheese is high in fat, and usually it’s not eaten alone in chunks but melted on some bready thing or paired with crackers and fruit – in other words, fat plus carb/sugar. Pizza is the ultimate, not only because of sugar-fat combo but also the comfort of the soft, yeasty crust. Fats and sugar release dopamine. This is a far likelier reason for the “addiction” than casomorphins, which we don’t even know for sure can cross the blood-brain barrier, much less in amounts significant enough to cause cheese-dependence.

    3. jrs

      Yea none of the “as addictive as drugs” claims sounds realistic. However, if cheese is as addictive as drugs, it is now suspected it is mostly those with the emotional susceptibility from a troubled upbringing that get addicted to drugs, others take heroine and don’t. So the same for cheese?

      1. 3.17e-9

        Studies show that getting a dopamine fix requires progressively more intake. So I suppose that compulsive eating could be in the category you describe, although it’s legal and typically doesn’t lead to crime.

  9. Carolinian

    A defense of The Birth of a Nation on its 100th anniversary. Here’s a paragraph to chew on

    That self-flattering mainstream-media perspective was typified when The New Yorker claimed: “The worst thing about [The Birth] is how good it is.” That’s all wrong, an example of liberal sophistry wrought to distance and patronize white racism. The fact is: The best thing about The Birth is how good it is, how its revolutionary techniques changed modern art — a forerunner to Griffith’s ultimate masterpiece and humanist plea Intolerance (1916). The worst thing is that such innovation was put to the service of racist ideology — and to the diminution of the sensitivity and aesthetic genius that made Griffith a great artist. To say otherwise is intellectual censorship. But as Hari Jones, assistant director of the African American Civil War Museum, advised C-SPAN: “We should not ban this film. We should not be afraid of this discourse.”

    If it matters the author, critic Armond White, is black. And if it matters the New Yorker’s Pauline Kael called Griffith’s follow up film, Intolerance, “perhaps the greatest movie ever made” for its innovations and influence.


  10. cwaltz

    This should be interesting to watch. The for profit rails were supposed to have positive train control in place by Jan 1 2016 (law was passed in 2008) but they don’t. Now they are threatening to shut down the rails(not just for their freight service but for passenger service) if they don’t get their extension.


    Emphasis mine-“In addition, NSR has notified in writing Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express and Metra that passenger trains will not be permitted to operate on NSR track after December 31, 2015.”

  11. NeqNeq

    re: Retail sales of IPO shares

    I am always suspicious of “opportunities” marketed to the plebs. By the time the unwashed masses are let in on a play, the patricians have already sucked the real money out.

    I read this piece as saying demand has dried up and the only way to prop up prices (so that VC and Banks get paid) is to broaden the channel. I assume the hope is that every yahoo with dreams of being an instant billionaire (selling into the initial pop) will be banging down the door. Obviously, firms that fleece them during the subsequent drop gets double points.

    Full disclosure: I am heavily invested in Tin

  12. Massinissa

    I like how Sanders is 0 on public jet spending.

    Lastly, im surprised Christie isn’t higher. Maybe he doesn’t have the money anymore. Or maybe its just because he cant charge it to New Jersey this time.

  13. optimader

    we’ll see if this posts, a consistently thoughtful blog I lurk

    ergobalance.blogspot dot com

    Permaculture: Regenerative – not merely Sustainable.

    1. lambert strether

      I like that distinction between sustainable and regenerative. Clearly the latter is preferable.

      1. optimader

        agreed, that’s the tough nut to crack.
        Rhodes has some excellent order of magnitude assessments on various topics.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Now you can hire a fixer to avoid dealing with the cable company:

    Engineers Earl St Sauver and Eli Pollak made headlines with their online service that cancels your Comcast service for you for $5 — allowing you to avoid talking to the company’s notoriously poor customer service. They’ve now widened the service to include Time Warner Cable Inc.

    Comcast customers can go to their website, pony up the $5 charge, and plug in their information, which is used to generate a form letter to cancel service and is mailed off to Comcast through their choice of certified mail or the U.S. Postal Service.


    How bad does your business have to suck, that customers would pay $5.00 to avoid having to talk to you?

    CenturyLink, in my experience, is another braindead utility company that I’d be willing to pay a lot more than $5.00 to avoid dealing with.

    1. Carolinian

      Funny. My brother says getting shed of ATT Uverse is a nightmare. Because they don’t have sales offices everything has to be done via internet and UPS.

      1. Daryl

        Hmm, I quit U-Verse and all it required was a phone call where I explained to them that I was moving to Pluto (or where-ever) and couldn’t continue U-Verse service.

      2. hunkerdown

        I see AT&T storefronts well-peppered throughout the Detroit metro area but I’ve no idea how involved those are with their “triple threat”, er, “triple play” offerings. Direct mail must actually not go straight into the birdcage in your neck of the woods. Hunh.

        1. Carolinian

          The storefronts are for cell service. They won’t take returns of the modems which have to be returned via UPS. Meanwhile billing continues and you are refunded the overage. At least that’s how he explained it to me. Also if your equipment has problems–and his did–you have to go to the UPS store and return after receiving replacement via UPS.

          1. participant-observer-observed

            Verizon operates the same scam in CA.

            There are no OTC records of subscription requests for wireless or cable, so the phone sales rep can write you down for whatever THEY want (that gives them their best commission), not what YOU ordered.

            If you go to a Verizon retail office, for customer service on anything other than mobile handsets they show you a corner stall with a phone that you can use to call the same customer “service” for billing that you would get dialing from home.

            I tried complaining to FTC, Warren watchdogs etc but they all claimed this scam was out of their domain.

            Getting corporate contact numbers from Verizon lineman technicians was helpful. Finding CEOs and contact through LinkedIn and Twitter has gotten me results with smaller companies running similar scams.

          2. pretzelattack

            i hate dealing with at&t. their customer service reps kept assuring me i would get one price then i get billed for another. they won’t give you a name, just an employee id, then when you try to reference that the next person has no idea who they are.

          1. ambrit

            Sorry Lambert, but the Stormfront lads will stomp all over the AT&T ‘salesforce.’ When one is attempting some skullduggery, secure command and control communications is requisite. These so called public utilities are anything but secure, or efficient.

  15. rich

    Spoofing trial to shine light on secret world of high-frequency trading

    In less time than it takes you to read this sentence, Michael Coscia could make more money than most Americans earn in an 8-hour day.

    If you blinked, you miss it.

    But if you slowed down time, sliced a second into a thousand tiny parts, and looked at a span of just 65 milliseconds — about as long as it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings once — you’d see the unmistakable evidence of a sophisticated criminal at work, the feds say.

    That’s because Coscia, 53, was allegedly a “spoofer,” a high-frequency trader who used computer algorithms to rip off rivals in markets where business is conducted at the speed of light.

    His scam using huge spoof orders for commodities futures contracts to goose prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange netted him $1.6 million in just three months, according to a federal indictment, helping fund an anonymous but comfortable lifestyle that included a waterfront New Jersey mansion.

    Coscia, of Rumson, N.J., is due to find himself thrust into the public eye Monday when he becomes the first criminal defendant tried under anti-spoofing legislation included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

    Expected to be closely watched on both Wall Street and LaSalle Street, the weeklong trial scheduled to start in federal court in Chicago is an important test of that law, which was also used to charge Navinder Sarao, the alleged spoofer authorities say is to blame for 2010’s “flash crash.” That episode temporarily wiped nearly $1 trillion off the value of U.S. equities in a matter of minutes.

    Coscia’s trial comes at a time of increased public scrutiny of high-frequency traders. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign earlier this month said some traders are engaged in a “harmful” practice that threatens the wider economy and should be subjected to additional taxes.

    The case also promises to shine a light on a secret world, one that accounts for about 50 percent of all trading volume and has helped mint the fortunes of some of Chicago’s wealthiest and most generous political campaign donors.

    Among the purported victims expected to testify against Coscia is a representative of Citadel, the giant hedge fund founded by Illinois’ richest person, Ken Griffin.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also made it a priority to protect high-frequency traders on the CME, a group he has described as vital to Chicago’s economy.

    Earlier this year, the Tribune documented how he flew to Washington, D.C., in 2011 to lobby the Commodity Futures Trading Commission against rule changes affecting high-frequency traders, including three trading firms that also attended the meeting and were major donors to his campaign fund.


  16. hunkerdown

    That deep dive into Linux ELF, through the eyes of the software analogue of the Arts and Crafts movement, was some of the best control fraud I’ve seen this week!

    The obsession with teaching kids to code seems almost as if it were meant to dissuade kids from deciding for themselves what code should do and where to apply it (The Register). Here we have IoT embedded networked computers providing minimal elder care, home-brewed by an 11-year-old girl with a rasPi. As much as the “maker” “movement” gives me chills, this application impresses me for being one of those labor-saving devices that serves the family economy and fails to convey power upward.

    1. Chris Williams

      Bloody hell. He won’t be a popular president for long. Already isn’t.

      This could be ugly. People will march

    2. ambrit

      The comment stream below the Telegraph article is an amazing agglomeration of Trollery. Someone in the mix remarked about EuroTrolls, and was flamed like ribs on the grill. Everyone seems to be doing Hasbara now.

  17. Propertius

    Henh. The “tiny ELF” piece reminded me of my misspent youth writing PP code for CDC 6000s. Brought a tear to my eye, it did.

  18. Propertius

    And all you’ve got to do is give up control of your data.

    Well, that and (if you’ve got serious computing to do) spend several times as much money to obtain substantially less performance than on your own infrastructure. That’s not quite as bad as losing control of your data, but it’s still pretty bad.

    You do get the emotional satisfaction of firing all those perky sysadmins, though. And who can put a price on that?

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