2:00PM Water Cooler 12/17/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“But Congress has never rejected a trade agreement under fast-track authority, and some TPP opponents suspect that the administration gave a small group of Democrats a pass to vote no on fast track as long as they pledged to vote yes on the final agreement if needed. This is likely to be a close fight” [In These Times].



“Is Denmark as great as Bernie Sanders says?” [McClatchy].


“Last week, the president of Blackstone Group, Tony James, hosted a fundraiser for Clinton. The cash flowed to the Clinton campaign just two months after the private-equity giant settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges that it used so-called monitoring fees to enrich the firm at the expense of investors” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. “Clinton accepted the money from executives at the sanctioned firm even as she has criticized the Obama administration for not punishing the perpetrators of financial crime more strenuously.” Of course, the national unions endorsed Clinton, even though their pensions were hit.

The Voters

“For years I’ve heard the rumbles of the anxious class. I’ve listened to their growing anger – in union halls and bars, in coal mines and beauty parlors, on the Main Streets and byways of the washed-out backwaters of America.” Which is pretty much every place you can’t see from the Acela, or Silicon Valley [Robert Reich, Bill Moyers]. “When I visited so-called ‘red’ states this fall, I kept hearing angry complaints that government is run by Wall Street bankers who get bailed out after wreaking havoc on the economy, corporate titans who get cheap labor, and billionaires who get tax loopholes.”

“Neither the sudden rise of Donald Trump nor the unspeakable crimes of Slobodan Milošević emerged from the mere will of either man. The slow fragmenting of ethnic self-identification was in both cases eroding the fabric of society for years prior to each” [The Leveller].

Carson: “Republicans have this mental disorder sometimes that says, ‘A person doesn’t agree with me 100%, I’m not with them, I’m going to go and sit down. You know, I believe that was a disease that was implanted by the Democrats. That’s what they want you to do. As long as you feel that way they’ve got it, they’ve got it in the bag” [Wall Street Journal, ” Ben Carson Vents a Bit About Political Process and GOP Voters”].

Trump: “I would like to see the Republican party come together, and I’ve been a little bit divisive in the sense of hitting people hard” [AP].

The Trail

Republican debate: “‘Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged,’ [Trump] assured the audience at home. ‘He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares.'” [Guardian]. I hate it when Trump’s right.

“Cruz’s alternative strategy of ostentatiously flattering Trump is working wonders for him. Not only does “Nice Guy” Cruz lead Trump by 10 points [in Iowa], but he’s managed to ingratiate himself to Trump’s followers (whom he stands to inherit) while crafting an image with Republican caucus-goers that’s completely at odds with his image in Washington as a narcissistic bomb-thrower who constantly undermines his party’s agenda in Congress” [Bloomberg].

The Hill

“It’s A Deal: Republicans Settle for Notable Omnibus Wins” [Roll Call]. However “Republicans didn’t secure a policy rider curtailing the so-called “fiduciary rule” contained in the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul bill much maligned by the GOP. They weren’t able to undo a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling related to joint employment status.”

“[T]he broad sweeping $1.1 trillion [Omnibus Budget Deal] spending package lacks the riders that would prevent state GMO-labeling laws and block the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule” [AgWeb].

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, November 2015: “Boosted by yesterday’s strong showing for housing permits, the index of leading economic indicators rose a solid 0.4 percent in November on top of October’s very strong 0.6 percent rise” [Econoday]. “Leading indicators had been dead flat since July until jumping 0.5 percent in October, in a gain helped by the month’s rebound in the stock market and gains for housing permits. But October’s jump aside, this index has been pointing to no more than sluggish growth for the economy.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey. December 2015: Below consensus. “another rough month for the nation’s factory sector” [Econoday]. “Ominously, price data are beginning to turn deeply negative, at minus 9.8 for inputs and minus 8.7 for final goods — the latter an indication of weakening demand.” But: “This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of December 12, 2015: “Jobless claims are low and are pointing to stable and healthy conditions in the labor market” [Econoday]. “Initial claims data in today’s report should confirm expectations for another healthy month of employment growth, right in line with Federal Reserve expectations.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of December 2013: “Moved up for a second week” [Econoday].

Current Account, Q3 2015: “Widened sharply,” “pulled down by weak exports” [Econoday].

Shipping: “The data for [sea shipping containers] remains soft with the rolling averages remaining in contraction year-over-year – although imports did expand year-over-year comparing this month to the same month one year ago” [Econintersect]. After caveats, this: “Contracting imports historically is a recession marker, as consumers and businesses start to hunker down. Main Street and Wall Street are not necessarily in phase and imports can reflect the direction for Main Street when Wall Street may be saying something different.”

Commodities: “$100 Billion Evaporates as World’s Worst Oil Major Plunges 90%” [Bloomberg]. Looks like a bezzle, to me. (Idea: Given phishing equilibrium, “bubble” and “bezzle” are synonymous. Readers?)

The Fed: “fed funds are a quarter point higher which will will make no discernible difference to macroeconomic outcomes, including the Fed’s employment and inflation mandates” [Mosler Economics].

The Fed: “What Happens When the Fed Raises Rates, In One Rube Goldberg Machine” [New York Times]. This is fun, but the beauty of the original Rube Goldberg device cartoons is that they put the entire machine in a single panel. The Times has clever animations of each piece of the machine, but no overview of the whole. Sympomatic of Times  coverage, somehow.

“Mankiw’s Tenth Principle: Society Faces A Short-Run Trade-off Between Inflation and Unemployment” [Ed Walker, Emptywheel]. Part 10 (!) of an interesting series.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 (+1); Neutral [CNN]. Last week: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). 

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Students Chant ’16 Shots!’ As Emanuel Visits Urban Prep” [CBS Chicago]. Represent!

Police State Watch

“Video: Cop Shatters Window With Handcuffed Teen’s Face” [Gothamist].

“Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke has been formally indicted in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, whose death was captured in a widely viewed police dashcam that sent thousands of protesters marching down Chicago streets” [Chicago Sun-Times].

“Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams declared a mistrial [in the Freddie Gray case’] Wednesday after jurors made it clear they were hopelessly deadlocked over whether Officer William Porter had committed any crimes due to actions he didn’t take prior to Gray’s death” [AP].

“Prosecutors In Tamir Rice Case Bizarrely Pointed Toy Gun At Witness, Lawyers Allege ” [HuffPo].

“The mother of Amadou Diallo reeled at the news: One of the four cops who killed her unarmed son in a 41-shot fusillade is set for an NYPD promotion — and a raise” [New York Daily News].

“Just as the nation has developed an increasingly stale ritual on mass shootings — one of shock, followed by mass grief, followed closely or sometimes concurrently by public statements about gun policy — there are now a series of cultural cliches and almost meaningless declarations that can be expected after yet another police officer, facing the rare event of criminal charges, manages to go home a free man or woman” [WaPo].


“[Rahm] Emanuel’s governing style has been all tactics, no strategy” [City Journal]. “[Rahm] also brought a Washington-style spin-control mindset to Chicago. In Washington, an army of apparatchiks and a compliant media lets politicians like Obama create a reality bubble. In national politics, perception is often reality. But in local government, reality is reality. The West Side isn’t Benghazi. The people who live in Chicago can walk out their front doors and see for themselves what’s going on.” 

“The DC kleptocracy in two links” [Medium]. It’s worth noting that both Chicago and DC are both controlled by Democrats, who have no monopoly on virtue whatever.

“Judge Faults Firm’s Failure to Keep Notes in Christie Bridge Investigation” [New York Times]. The “firm” being Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who conducted the “independent” investigation.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Great, a new terror alert system, our third [CNN]. Except it’s really a revision of the second, which wasn’t used. 

[DHS Secretary Jeh] Johnson said the new alert system will reflect the current security environment when “not having a specific credible piece of intelligence specifying a plot isn’t the end of the story.”

Well, vague and incredible evidence seems to be standard operating procedure, so I’m not what’s been changed, except the obvious determination of the political class to gaslight the 2016 election to death.

“The U.S. Sends Out Its First Official Terror-Warning ‘Bulletin’ and Asks You to Stay Vigilant for the Next 6 Months” [New York Magazine]. “Please remain in a heightened state of tension until we tell you to relax.”

British Medical Journal study: “In conclusion we have shown that the oral health of Americans is not better than the English, and there are consistently wider educational and income related oral health inequalities in the US compared with England” [Sky News]. Ouch. We have worse teeth than the Brits. Joe Strummer! Thou shouldst be living at this hour….


“Water industry wins round in fight against ban on plastic bottles in national parks” [WaPo].

“Hatred, Insults and Even Death Threats Over Climate Science?” [NBC Philadelphia]. “[S]ome colleagues in the TV weather field have gotten threats just by talking about climate change.” Wow.

“Anyone celebrating ‘cracks in the wall of Republican climate denial’ (as journalists are wont to do periodically, and have for 20 years now) needs to grapple with this fact: It’s the base and the donors that matter, and there are no cracks showing there” [Vox].

Guillotine Watch

“Shkreli, CEO Reviled for Drug Price Gouging, Arrested on Securities Fraud Charges” [Bloomberg]. Christmas came early!  From Shrelki’s 8K, under “Litigation Update”: “In December 2014, Mr. Shkreli filed an answer to the operative complaint, in which he, among other things, admitted to owing the Company over $600,000 in short-swing profits. The parties are currently engaged in discovery. ”

Best Shrelki quote: “”If I hand you $2 million, fucking show me some respect” [HipHopDX].

“When I reached the actual party, the first thing I saw was CEO Marissa Mayer herself behind a series of velvet ropes, dressed in a long sequined gown and seated on a pure white arm chair. Attendees could sit next to her on an adjacent couch and pose for a photo” [Vice]. “She was very pregnant and ended up giving birth to twins less than a week later.” Will nobody think of the children?

Class Warfare

“A letter to our daughter” [Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook]. But: “Peek inside the mind of the man in control of Facebook with the data of 1.55 billion people at his fingertips” [CCH Freedom]. “He calls for “‘the talents, ideas and contributions of every person in the world’ to be ‘channeled.’ For what purpose and by whom? Him?” A critique from the right.

“Men with moustaches outnumber women in top U.S. academic medical jobs-researchers” [Reuters].

News of the Wired

“This startup bets up to $10,000 that your marriage will end badly” [WaPo]. The “This ___” clickbait snowclone, plus “startup” to fill in the blank. Froth, I hope.

“Textio, A Startup That Analyzes Text Performance, Raises $8M” [TechCrunch]. Here’s a quote from CEO Kieran Snyder. I’ve helpfully underlined some cliches and other problems:

“We had this premise that word processing in text hadn’t been disrupted in a while, from command line to GUI. We had the internet come along, it was about social [not a noun] and sharing, and we think that AI and the set of related technologies is the next big disruptor of text. If you know the performance of a document before it’s ever published then you can fix it before it’s published.”

The idea that “documents” have “performance” gives me the willies. Of course, if millions of people start scoring their documents using the same algorithms, then the algorithms won’t “perform” any more, will they? I hope the investors in Textio lose a great deal of money.

Apparently, marginalia is having a moment MR SUBLIMINAL About time! [Los Angeles Review of Books].

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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 (Rebecca Rojer):


Rebecca writes: “From [Tuesday]! December in the Hudson Valley. Fall blooming saffron crocus.” For some reason, my own forsythia decided to bloom in September…

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If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, 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. sleepy

        Nothing blooming here in Iowa, but the snow all melted weeks ago, the grass is greening up, and it needs mowing.

        1. LaRuse

          Same here in Central VA. I will be mowing my grass on Sunday. The latest I had ever let it go before was late October in 2014. Something is amiss.

  1. Anon

    Re: Swanluv

    This sounds like a convoluted, outsourced pre-nup. What’s next, outsourcing marriage itself?

  2. Jim Haygood

    A frayed-cuff Bloomberg journo celebrates commodities’ collapse:

    The world shouldn’t be worried that materials prices have crashed. Indeed, the bigger worry is that they haven’t crashed enough to mark the turning point toward faster economic growth.


    Funny how you don’t see farmers joining the jollity.

    Time for a tractor parade down Wall Street. Oops, I accidentally hit the release button on the manure spreader!

    1. fresno dan

      Jim…..you never miss something this obvious:
      Spreading Unadulterated Bullsh*t…..
      Don’t they call Bullsh*t on wallstreet pure gold?

      I am positive Goldman Sachs, using a shorting and hedging strategy utilizing reverse repo’s synthetically squared, and futures on CDC spreads, could parlay ACTUAL wallstreet Bullsh*t of 30 cents per ton into a five billion dollar profit…

    2. craazyboy

      “Funny how you don’t see farmers joining the jollity. ”

      Demand for food hasn’t gone down. Tho the carry trade cost just went up .25% for food speculators.

      1. ambrit

        Carry trade is it?
        Shopping this past week at the several food departments that get our business showed us a definite retail cost increase of about ten percent. Most of the glaring price increases were in ‘basic’ foodstuffs. One example, ramen noodles, the bedrock food of struggling students, went up a full twenty five percent at Wal Mart. That same emporium seems to have shifted stocking the shelves to the day crew, thus eliminating the overnight stocking crew in its’ entirety. (I once looked into applying for the position of maintenance man at the local Wally Mart. Then I discovered that to Wal Mart, a maintenance associate is really a janitor. Thus are our dreams crushed.)
        Jolly Farmers? We have to visit one of the Treasure Islands to find them.

  3. Ivy

    Reuters may have cracked open the case of discrimination against post-menopausal women in top US medical jobs.

  4. allan

    Security theater is for the little people, Down Under edition:

    A female worker at Melbourne Airport was suspended after conducting a security screening on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

    The incident occurred on September 22 as Ms Bishop cleared security in Melbourne on her way to New York for the United Nations leader’s summit.

    The worker, employed by airport security contractor ISS, was stood down from work for “not adhering to standard security screening procedures”, Melbourne Airport said in a statement.

    Specifically, her request to scan Ms Bishop was not random, Fairfax Media has learned, and may well have been prompted by a co-worker who recognised the Foreign Minister and deputy Liberal leader.

  5. Tertium_Squid

    Financial crime is so pervasive you have to wonder whenever they actually arrest someone. I think Shkreli’s biggest “crime” was being so publicly abrasive.

    America wants its criminals to have a modicum of class.

    1. fresno dan

      I’m thinking someone in the organization who didn’t like him got to Shkreli’s PR people, and Shkreli’s PR people told him his best option was to out Trump, Trump

      1. Observer

        Yep. He’s low-hanging fruit. He’s a loose cannon and is an easy target anyway. Time to pick him off before he does anything else embarassing.

    2. RUKidding

      Think Shkreli’s crime is ripping off those who are richer and more powerful than him. Otherwise, raising the cost AIDS drugs by 5000%? Hey! Good job, son! Acting like a jerk? Keep it up! Rip off those higher in the pecking order? Book ‘im, Dano!

      Although Shkreli is more or less a scapegoat to make it seem like the SEC actually does it’s “job,” I hope he gets the full Madoff.

  6. Unorthodoxmarxist

    Shkreli is clearly odious, but I’m not sure how much more odious than the CEOs of any health insurance corporation that profits from providing (or not providing) health care coverage. He just seems to have a nastier public persona.

    1. Kurt Sperry


      Health insurance is an “industry” that has no rational place in any health care system; it shouldn’t exist. Shkreli is emblematic of the entire medicine for profit system, its model is holding people’s lives and health for ransom with the primary aim of extracting as much profit as possible doing so. It’s as morally corrupt as any Mafia activity.

    2. RUKidding

      Shkreli is the future. He’s what we can expect. I don’t know what Shkreli reads or if he has any sort of political “philosophy,” but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s one of those Ayn Rand acolytes who believes in the so-called “Free Market” and no regulations whatsoever. Plus screw you if you’re not in the .0001%. Well in his case: screw everyone.

      The current crop of BigPharma CEOs might come from a slightly different era, where they hide their greedy nastiness and loathing disgust for the small people behind closed doors.

      All Shkreli did was act out loud what they all think and do what they’d all love to do: jack up the prices skyhigh, and if the proles die? F*ck ’em. Die fast and do it somewhere out of sight.

  7. tyaresun

    I scored the Gettysburg address on Textio and got a score of 31 (weak). Here is the report:
    Strength: Strong use of verbs.
    Problems: Listing is too short

    1. fresno dan

      If only our 16th president had been more eloquent…..maybe could have avoided much unpleasantness….
      Of course, he couldn’t help it – they only had those candle powered laptops back then.

    2. JCC

      Odd, I did the same and it came up with a score of 44 – Below Average, but still “no equal opportunity statement” kept the score below average. Must be a beysian type learning algorithm or two in there somewhere. So Lambert’s statement on the algorithm is correct… 31 to 44 is a big leap in less than 4 hours or so.

      Then I tried Andrew Jackson’s famous statement on closing the Second Bank of The United States and it scored a little higher, 57 – Ordinary… still “no equal opportunity statement” kept it down… thank goodness :)

      Offhand I would say some people just pissed away $8 million dollars.

  8. fresno dan

    British Medical Journal study: “In conclusion we have shown that the oral health of Americans is not better than the English, and there are consistently wider educational and income related oral health inequalities in the US compared with England” [Sky News]. Ouch. We have worse teeth than the Brits. Joe Strummer! Thou shouldst be living at this hour….


    Funny, the smiles aren’t nearly as bad as I remember.
    Anyway, the Simpsons episode actually was very good. Somehow, Homer becomes the Union representative, and as management is trying to bribe and undermine him, he is faced with doing the right thing so that his daughter can get braces (as I recall – its been decades since I saw the full episode)

  9. Clive

    Re: U.S. Dental Health

    I’ve noticed that in people under about the age of 30, Americans’ teeth are a mirror of society. For some, the majority, there are visible problems with cavities and orthodontic misalignment not being treated which I guess is down to not having the funds to pay for dental care and / or people can’t afford a dental plan. Are employers also ditching dental as part of what they provide to employees?

    For others, there’s these obviously expensive but outrageously fake-looking implants and veneers.

    Here in England, the conservatives (and, to their shame, the Blair administration) tried to withdraw NHS dental coverage by stealth (they so dis-incentivised dentists it wasn’t worth their while to offer NHS care but instead only took patients on in private practice, ka-ching) — but people just turned up in the Emergency Room with chronic, urgent problems so even our brainless government realised that was a silly way to go about things and encouraged more community-based dentists to accept NHS cases.

    1. PQS

      I think dental coverage is often provided, and preventative care is typically 100% covered. Crowns, root canals, and other such things are often only very halfheartedly covered, like at 50%, and these can be very expensive. $800 – 1000 or more is the patient’s portion…..I think the other major problem is that most dentists don’t take Medicaid, so poor patients end up at charity clinics, many of which are totally overwhelmed when they’re offered.

      Orthodontics are NOT covered by any dental plan I’ve ever seen in my 20 years of employer provided coverage. Straight, whitened teeth are certainly a class marker in America. Implants and veneers are similarly not covered under normal dental plans, to my knowledge.

      There was a scandalous story a couple of years ago about a poor kid who actually died from an infection in his brain due to untreated dental problems. God, we are a bottomlessly cruel society.

    2. grayslady

      Dental is a cheap add-on for most employers, because it generally covers next to nothing. Premium employer plans still offer a free check-up and cleaning every 6 months, but the network of dentists is very restricted. These days, if you need a crown, the dental plan only pays one-half (if the dentist is in-network), meaning you have to come up with $500 out-of-pocket. Several years ago, I checked to see if any dental plans covered implants: only two plans in the entire country covered implants, you had to live in Pennsylvania in order to be covered by the plans, and only $1000 of the approximate $3000 per implant cost was covered by the insurance. There’s a reason dental tourism is so popular for Americans.

      Add to the above the real implications of not coordinating dental with overall health plans, resulting in frequent misdiagnoses. A friend of mine was suffering from excruciating pain on one side of his face. The doctor diagnosed it as trigeminal neuralgia, for which medical treatment options are limited. A few months later, while visiting his dentist, my friend was told he had a severely infected tooth root. Following a root canal, the facial pain completely disappeared. You Brits have the right idea in making sure that dental is covered.

    3. RUKidding

      Where I work now, we have to buy dental insurance (a policy via where I work, which is an ok plan). We have a fund on top of our salaries that we use to purchase insurance. Prior to this job, I didn’t have dental insurance for quite a while.

      In general, I don’t see a huge cost-savings to having insurance. Yes, it does cover basics, plus, as others indicate, there is some off-set to the more expensive procedures. But generally for those nasty big things like root canals, crowns and/or implants, you’re still out of pocket by quite a bit. By the time I pay for my insurance policy, plus costs for treatments of various types, I don’t save a lot with insurance, frankly.

      My family doesn’t tend to have very strong teeth (going back generations). Despite my A++ “home care” on my teeth, I’ve lost 4 teeth and consequently have 4 implants. I am darn lucky that I can afford it bc implants are ridiculously expensive and rising in cost every year. I think the last one cost me close to $6K after all was said and done.

      My dental insurance would’ve paid something towards a bridge but coughs up nothing for implants. Especially if your implant is your back molar, a bridge is nigh unto worthless. A lot of people simply can’t afford even a bridge. I duly note more US citizens with missing teeth that don’t get replaced (anecdotally).

      It’s pathetic, but the dog forbid that citizens have access to reasonable dental care.

      1. JCC

        I have a good friend that recently went down to Costa Rica for a two week vacation, an implant and a couple of crown repairs. Total out-of-pocket cost, including the vacation, was less than $2K. He gets all his dental work done down there including a checkup once or twice a year and saves a small fortune compared to US Dental Care and insurance.

    1. different clue

      This sort of thing will just encourage more people to buy, or keep buying, analog things and dumm appliances. Eventually the “analog amish” will consider the “buyers of internetted things” to be a standing joke. Sometime after that even the owners of internetted things will realize what a joke they are as human beings.

      “You bought a smart house? You must be pretty dumm to need a smart house. I’m smart enough for me AND my dumm house.”

    2. Clive

      Nest just released a new version of its O/S for their “smart” thermostat which prevents root-kit hacks that allow you to replace the Nest-supplied software stack with any third-party / open-source alternative. This was a reassuring option in case Nest suddenly decided to “do a Zigbee” and cut you off for non payment (i.e. deem you to be on a product which had gotten “too old” to be supported or similar).

      (sigh) — I’ve paid 250 pounds for something, and it turns out it’s now no longer even mine to do with as I please…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like disruptive innovations?

        Adding, I paid $30 bucks for a programmable thermostat in the hardware store. See, when the temperature falls below a certain level, which I set, the boiler goes on. Is there something I’m missing about why one would ever need a Nest thermostat? I mean, why do I need a thermostat to learn my habits, if I can just tell it what they are?

        1. ambrit

          Silly rabbit!
          The beauty of the Nest innovation class of “things” is that they soon learn to “predict” your needs and tell you what they will be before hand. You need do nothing! (Except figure out a way to pay the manufacturers and vendors.)

        2. MikeNY

          LOL. We have a Nest (at my beloved’s insistence). It tries to out-think me, and often succeeds. I turn the heat up, and Nest turns it down. We fight, and it has never once conceded it was wrong or apologized. One thing I do like about is that you can adjust the temperature remotely and check on the house if you’re away.

  10. allan

    By 2100, Spokane could be the new Napa

    First it was coffee, then chocolate. Now, researchers are predicting that climate change could shake up yet another gastronomic delicacy: wine. Data presented today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggest that by 2100, Washington state could unseat Northern California as the most diverse wine-producing region in the western United States. And two of the most prominent wines in these regions right now—cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir—may have to take up residence elsewhere.

    As might we all.

    1. PQS

      S’OK. If he hits prison/jail, he’ll find out the meaning of “economics” behind bars when he tries to hike the price of cigarettes 700%.

  11. ekstase

    I’m not sure how I feel about marginalia. On the one hand, it defaces books, but how can you not love these gems–

    these curious marginalia from the Middle Ages. Instead of intellectual disputation, we find such nuggets as:

    “I am very cold.”

    “The parchment is hairy.”

  12. ProNewerDeal

    A victim or victim’s family member of pharma murderer-by-spreadsheet Shkreli, who died, suffered worsening health, &/or went bankrupt, as a result of Shkreli’s jacking the price of the pharma product, & who believes in a concept like revenge or karma, might wish that:

    1 Shkreli becomes bankrupt due to FBI’s “Asset Forfeiture”

    2 Shkreli is convicted of a felony prison sentence in a genuine “PITA” prison, & not a “Club Med” minimum security “Corporate Criminal” prison

    3 Shkreli gets unwillingly PITAd in prison

    4 Shkreli contracts HIV via #3

    5 A broke Shkreli faces death or health worsening as a result of not being able to afford the high cost of his old HIV pharma product

    Now I am not desiring this outcome, so pls do not ban this comment. I am merely suggesting that hypothetically a Shkreli victim might theoretically desire such an outcome.

    1. different clue

      It’s a good thing I am not a Shkreli victim at this point in time. Therefor I am able to remember that a system which can engineer this outcome for Shkreli can engineer it for you or for me. Remember . . . ” the bed you make for convicts is the bed you lie in when you get convicted.”

      On the other hand, it might be good to have this happen to enough policemen, policewomen, lawyers, judges and legislative officeholders to where the rest of them decide to engineer this sort of outcome back out of their legal enforcement system.

      1. ambrit

        The weak point in your argument is that the ‘disappeared’ functionaries no longer have input to the policy making apparatus. As long as the ‘system’ itself keeps co-opting members of the ‘lower orders,’ the system meets no crisis threshold. An equilibrium is reached. In effect, as long as the punitive prison system benefits key positions in the overall system, nothing will change.

  13. RabidGandhi

    Re: Robert Reich

    “For years I’ve heard the rumbles of the anxious class. I’ve listened to their growing anger – in union halls and bars, in coal mines and beauty parlors, on the Main Streets and byways of the washed-out backwaters of America.”

    I can imagine. As the Labour Secretary in the regime that passed NAFTA, I should hope you get an earful.

    1. RUKidding

      Don’t get me started on Reich. When he happens to provide a “comment” on NPR, I have to turn off the radio to avoid having a medical emergency of some sort. Pissant smarmy sleazebag liar with his phoney-baloney “concern” for the little people. Spare me.

    2. sleepy

      I find his use of the terms backwaters, bars, beauty shops, coal mines, etc., elitist and patronizing. Shows to me he has no clue.

      1. ambrit

        I wonder how he gets his information regarding the various “backwaters” he mentions. Does he go slumming regularly, hang out at the Salvation Army, or have a network of ‘informants?’ Anecdotes are all fine and good, but nothing beats staring the beast in the face.

  14. ewmayer

    Re. Water industry wins round in fight against ban on plastic bottles in national parks | WaPo — Properly used, plastic water bottles are both extremely handy and eco-friendly – I use one as a refillable water bottle until it wears out, at which point I recycle it. Still miss the 1L-sized Aquafina bottles with the big mouths which were discontinued a few years back – those were the bomb for hiking and camping, unlike steel bottles they were ding-proof and partially collapsible, as well as being super tough and very easy to create a pressure-proof seal on screwing the cap on. As with plastic bags, the real issue is that over 90% of people are lazy !$%@^ idiots who can’t be bothered to find a recycling container even when one is only a few feet away from the nearest trash can.

    1. aliteralmind

      IIRC, disposable water bottles start leeching plastic at some point, and shouldn’t be reused extensively.

  15. aliteralmind

    Bernie Sanders just had the biggest 24 hours of the campaign so far. 2,000,000 individual donations, reached a month-and-a-half-before Obama reached his record ONE million, and two enormous endorsements from unions having a total of 1.7 members. He won one of them by a vote of its members (fancy that), by an almost EIGHTY point margin over Hillary. 89.7-11, IIRC.

    I really wish this was covered in today’s links.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      1) If you really want something linked to, your best option is simply to add the links yourself, as other readers do, instead of complaining.

      2) Issues of timing and workload affect which links get aggregated. You will see several Sanders links later this morning.

  16. allan

    Omnibus roll call vote. Congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Democratic Party for pushing it over the finish line, and to the nameless Dems who switched from `Yea’ to `Nay’ after being told their votes were no longer needed.

      1. Ignacio

        It tracks the efforts of creationists to impose this “theory” in schools and stablishes an evolutionary phyllogeny tracking their efforts to the last proposals that have been approved in Tenessee and Louisiana. Their new approach is to appeal to teacher’s liberty to teach what they consider more suitable. It occurs, according to the author, that one out of every eigth high school teachers believes in creationism.

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