2:00PM Water Cooler 12/23/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



Clinton: “Now, I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better than average job” [Education Week]. Now, Yves handles the math stuff, but even I know that means Clinton just proposed closing half the schools in the country.

Clinton and Trump both use magical thinking to urge that “‘there must be a way’ to spy only on criminals’ encrypted messages without compromising the security of well-meaning Internet users” [WaPo]. No, there isn’t. Just because you can set up another Manhattan Project doesn’t automagically guarantee the desired result!

The Voters

“Marcotte Makes Basic Statistical Error: Mythical BernieBro Continues to Elude” [Matt Bruenig].

The Trail

“The Republican Establishment Would Rather Lose the Presidential Election Than Control of the Party” [New York Magazine] (keying off this interesting article by David Frum). And that reminds me…

“It’s been obvious from the start of the 2016 presidential race that just about the entire Democratic Party establishment is in the tank for Hillary Clinton” [The Week]. And that’s just the first sentence!

“A post on Hillary Clinton’s website meant to showcase how the former secretary of State is like ‘your abuela’ — Spanish for grandmother — is drawing mockery online” [The Hill]. “The hashtags #notmyabuela and #nomiabuela shot to the top of the trending list on Twitter.”

Donald Trump glossary [New York Magazine]. It’s huuuuuge!

“As few as six candidates could make the next GOP presidential debate stage in January, as Fox Business Network’s new criteria could drastically shrink the field less than a month before the Iowa caucuses” [The Hill]. Hmm. I would have thought the voters were supposed to do that, not FOX.

Sanders: “Now, I was there at the debate we had on Saturday night, but I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve got to be honest with you. I gotta lay it out on the table: I also went to the bathroom,” Sanders said, to great laughter. “I know, I know. I have to admit it. I guess I’m a man and men are allowed to go to the bathroom. But women, what can we say?” [Des Moines Register] *mic drop*.

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment, December 2015: “Consumer sentiment is on the rise going into the final shopping days of Christmas, up 8 tenths from the December flash to a higher-than-expected final December reading” [Econoday]. Current conditions are up, but expectations are flat, “indicating caution over the jobs outlook.”

Personal Income and Outlays, November 2015: “Personal spending rose an as-expected 0.3 percent in November in data released last night by mistake” [Econoday]. “Income, data not released early, also rose 0.3 percent and the wages & salaries component is very strong for a second month.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 18, 2015: Purchase applications up 4% [Econoday].

New Home Sales, November 2015: “Rising construction is bringing supply into the housing sector and helping to lift new home sales, which rose 4.3 percent in November to what is still however a lower-than-expected annualized rate of 490,000” [Econoday]. However: “The rolling averages smooth out much of the uneven data produced in this series – and this month there was a deceleration in the rolling averages” [Econintersect].

Durable Goods Orders, November 2015: “October was a rare good month for the factory sector, not November where manufacturing production in the industrial production report was no better than unchanged and now new orders were also unchanged” [Econoday]. “Excluding transportation, orders dipped into the minus column though just barely.” However: “Durable goods is not a good economic forecasting tool as it contains too many false warnings of economic contraction” [Econintersect].

Existing Home Sales (yesterday): “Housing was forecast to be the ‘driver’ of growth. Unfortunately all it’s done is turn south like most all the other stats, and nothing has stepped up to replace the lost oil capex which had stepped up to offset the tax hikes and sequesters. And remember the population grows at about 3 million per year, so it’s even worse on a per capita basis” [Mosler Economics].

Ag: “European wheat is seen at risk after record-high temperatures in November and December accelerated growth and delayed the onset of winter dormancy, leaving plants vulnerable to any cold snap in the spring” [Bloomberg].

Oil: “OPEC said demand for its crude will slide to 2020, though less steeply than previously expected, as rival supplies continue to grow” [Bloomberg].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 (+5); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Dear Old Blighty

“Why You Should Take A Black Cab, Not An Uber, This Christmas” [Londonist].

Police State Watch

“Community violence did not make it any more or less likely for police to kill people” [Mapping Police Violence]. Great project:


“In fact, 80 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s 850 dashcam video systems don’t record audio due to “to operator error or in some cases intentional destruction” by officers, according to a review by the Police Department” [DNAInfo].


” A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.” [Paul Monbiot, Guardian].


“Protesters Deliver National Petition Signed by 250,000 Asking Rahm to Quit” [DNAinfo]. “[O]rganizers granted that only about 5 percent of those who signed the petitions, or about 12,500 people, were Chicagoans.”

“Ethics law bans gifts to congressional officials, but public universities are exempted” [Wall Street Journal, “Why Tickets to College Games Come Easy on Capitol Hill”]. Virginia Tech Official: “[W}e need the Congressman for a lot of reasons and they are very helpful to us.”

“The latest extravagances in the college sports arms race? Laser tag and mini golf” [WaPo]. “Few people actually know how much [Nike co-founder Phil Knight] spent on the [Hatfield-Dowlin Complex], thanks to a series of financial transactions that obscure details from public records.” Alternatively, I could file this under Guillotine Watch, since these “extravagances” are destroying the university as an institution.

” It’s Your First Day On Wall Street” [Clickhole]. A fun interactive story, a lot like what happens with Bloomberg when they let the JavaScript programmers loose.

Guillotine Watch

Sagarmāthā is not happy [Reuters]. “In 2013, there was an unprecedented mass brawl between Sherpas and climbers that exposed deep-rooted frustrations over a lack of recognition of the risks local guides take to get foreigners up and down the fabled summit.” Into Thin Air is one of the saddest books I’ve ever read…

“So what happens when 200 majorly wealthy and minorly famous jet-setters go all-out in scenic Gstaad? [New York Magazine]. Remind me why these vicious young whippersnappers deserve to run the world?

Class Warfare

“The Melting Away of North Atlantic Social Democracy” [Brad DeLong, Talking Points Memo]. DeLong’s summary of discussion sparked by Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is well worth a read. A taste:

We as a civilization could decide that we are not willing to let money talk so loudly in politics. We could keep our politics from being one of establishing monopoly after monopoly and rent-extraction chokepoint after rent-extraction chokepoint. If we manage that, then the forecasts of Keynes (1936) and Rognlie (2015 will come true, and a rise in wealth accumulation will carry with it a fall in the rate of profit, and a highly-productive not-too-unequal society.

But right now money talks very loudly indeed. And I leave the Piketty debate more depressed about our ability to keep it from talking so loudly. What makes me more depressed? The Piketty debate itself does: The eagerness of so-many economists to aggressively make so many shoddy arguments that Piketty does not know what he is talking about.

(Incidentally, it creeps me out that the swipe- and clickbait-friendly tendency to leave publication dates off articles, leading to a seemingly eternal present, has crept into TPM. The only way I could find out when this article was published was to view source and look at the metadata: 2015-12-21T21:16:06Z.)

If you thought Human Resources was bad, wait ’til corporations are managed algorithmically with data-driven inputs. [Lucy Kellaway, The Economist, “Big Brother management”]. A must-read, even if you don’t work in a cube. Going to be a lot of managers joining the rest of us shelving at Walmart.

YT.’s mom decides to spend between fourteen and fifteen minutes reading the memo. It’s better for younger workers to spend too long to show that they’re careful, not cocky. It’s better for older workers to go a little fast, to show good management potential. She’s pushing forty. She scans through the memo, hitting the Page Down button at reasonably regular intervals, occasionally paging back up to pretend to reread some earlier section. The computer is going to notice all this. It approves of rereading. It’s a small thing but over a decade or so this stuff really shows up on your work-habits summary.

(Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash.)

News of the Wired

“The evolution of anti-evolution bills” [Boing Boing]. “The fact that humans can “selectively breed” legislative proposals, in other words, supports both the creationist hypothesis (which says that modern evolution is the result of human experimentation) and the evolution through natural selection hypothesis (because it shows that mutation and selection produce more fit organisms).”

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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 (FH):


This is an infra-red photograph of sword fern, from a “remote island” in the Pacific Northwest.

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and the plumber happy, and 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. Kokuanani

    Yves handles the match stuff,

    Do you mean “math stuff,” Lambert?

    I.e., by definition, at least half of the schools are “below average.”

    1. Vatch

      Clinton: “Now, I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better than average job”

      Depending on how precisely one wants to define the average, there might be 1 average school, or even 0 average schools, if exactly half are better than the average, and half are worse than average. There could also be thousands of average schools: we might consider 30% of the schools to above average, 40% of them to be average, and 30% of them to be below average. In a case like that, Clinton is proposing to close 70% of the schools. In the imaginary case where all schools are identical, none would be better than average, and Clinton would close all of them.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was thinking median, instead of average.

        One exceptionally great school, it’s possible the other 99.99% of schools are below average.

      2. CWalsh

        Ya gotta love her — NOT.
        If your goal is to eliminate public education this oughta do the trick.
        How many schools will remain when this brilliant scheme has run its course?
        Innumerate ?*&hole.

      3. Optimader

        Actually as a “policy” the mathematical eventuality is one school. As 50% are perpetually removed by virtue of the below average rule, the series runs down to unity, (1.000001 continue adding zeros, but you cant have a fractional school so lets call it 1)
        Similar to the old frog jumping to the wall in 50% leaps remains infitesimally close.
        HRC’s flinging Sparkle piny sht at the door and seeing if it sticks anywhere.Pathetic stuff.

        1. Carolinian

          Sort of like “Manhattan Project for Encryption” or “Smart Soft Power.” Hillary is a TED talk reject.

      4. ScottB

        Of course, that’s only the first year. If she closes 50 percent in year 1, then 50 percent more in year 2…

    1. Christopher Fay

      Hey, your abuelita is so average. My abuelita has a multi-billion dollar slush fund and a philandering husband to go with it.

  2. Propertius

    Now, Yves handles the match stuff, but even I know that means Clinton just proposed closing half the schools in the country.

    Well, that depends on whether she’s talking about the arithmetic mean, the geometric mean, the harmonic mean, the mode, or the median, doesn’t it? ;-)

  3. Pavel

    hi Lambeth, I love the fern photo, thanks!
    As it happens I was just discussing ferns with a Québecoise friend involved in microfarming… for interest here is what she wrote:

    We also investigate what can be reasonably and respectfully grown and/or harvested in the forest like, for example, your favorite fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris in latin, Ostrich fern in English or plume d’autruche in French). I presume that you already know that they are edible if harvested in early Spring before they unfold (têtes de violon). They have to be boiled though because they are otherwise toxic for the human organism.

    Lots of amazing plants (and foods) out there. I am not remotely an expert but I gather ferns are among the oldest of plant species. Nice to see that the Kiwis may vote to put it on the New Zealand flag (getting rid of the archaic Union Jack).

    Nice to think about things other than odious Trump and hypocritical Hillary.

    1. Doug in Oregon

      Hi, Pavel

      Nice to meet a fellow fern fan! If you ever get to the Oregon coast, let me know. If you get here in the autumn, there are many dozens of different mushrooms (if of any interest).

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    MBA mortgage applications.

    Purchase application up.

    An ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of prevention.

    Purchasers should be required to sign a disclosure form that says real estate doesn’t always go up and housing is not for gambling, sorry, investment, but a place to call home.

    1. perpetualWAR

      If a borrower needs to sign something such as that, then likewise the bankster must sign a affidavit that they will not rehypothecate the note, nor will they convert the note into a security (changing the note from a negotiable instrument into a security….did anyone sign anything giving the banksters the authority to convert your note into a security????)

  5. fresno dan


    Yes, its zero hedge, so you must wear a tinfoil hat to read it – – but I give them kudos for pointing out that most terrorism victims are in the countries we invaded…um, er, liberated. As well as the fact that there is a sh*tload more terrorism after the war on terrorism.
    War on drugs
    War on cancer
    War on terrorism
    I am going to try and figure out how to “short” any war declared by the US…

    1. polecat

      Yeah, tinfoil…… fresno dan,…. I”ll believe zero hedge before i take anything from such a supposed bastion of liberal ideals of,say, the hufflepuffpost:…….. there you need kilotons of foil to protect oneself from whatever unicorn & skittles dreck they churn out!

  6. FriarTuck

    [Excerpt from Snow Crash]

    My favorite meme floating around the internet is a picture of the Snow Crash cover with the words emblazoned on the image: “This isn’t an instruction manual!”

    I fear there are enough people that either don’t care, feel that they’ll come out on top, or are so divorced from the average citizen’s reality (such as those in the Gstaad article) that society is blindly heading down the road sketched by Stephenson with no thought of morality, justice, or the vaguest sense of the common good.

    Who am I kidding. If you have enough money, everywhere is Vegas; there’s no rules baby, light it on fire.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Pretty sad, the New Yorker reporter who desperately chased some idle rich all the way to Gstaad, but failed to quote even one witty remark.

    So to épater le bourgeois, some drunk guy exposing himself became the centerpiece of the article.


    Real bad boys (Jim Morrison and Thomas Kinkade being two who come to mind), when too wrecked to navigate their way to the bathroom, rakishly peed into the potted plants.

    1. craazyman

      Ode Written on the Connection of Two Disperate Dots

      I took a trip down to L’America
      A sunken meadow and a sun of gold
      L’America L’America L’America

      C’mon people don’t you look so down
      You know the light man’s comin to town
      change the weatherr change your luck
      Gonna paint and make a, a, a . .

      Buck, L’america l’america

      1. Jim Haygood

        She was grasping for a Strange Days effect, poor dear:

        The hostess is grinning
        Her guests sleep from sinning
        Hear me talk of sin
        And you know this is it

        But it just don’t get that sinister at a party sponsored by a manufacturer of fashionable footwear, even with a few foot fetishers in the room.

        Must … try … harder …

        p.s. ‘the light man … paint and make a buck’ — I see what you did. :)

    2. Observer

      Hunter S. Thompson would have known what to do, and the article would’ve been a good read, too.

    3. RMO

      Jeez, where are the freakin’ boxcar sized meteors when you need them?

      A pretty sad article. All that money and power and that’s all they can think of to do? Pathetic.

  8. Propertius

    Remind me why these vicious young whippersnappers deserve to run the world?

    Remind me why some people think the “national razor” was a bad idea?

  9. knowbuddhau

    Not so sure about the Antidote. Out here in Wetlandia, we call that Bracken fern. I don’t see any sword fern at all.

    1. James Housel

      I believe you are correct. Post in haste…repent at leisure. I sent L two shots and was sure he would pick my shot of Salal!

  10. Vatch

    “Protesters Deliver National Petition Signed by 250,000 Asking Rahm to Quit” [DNAinfo]. “[O]rganizers granted that only about 5 percent of those who signed the petitions, or about 12,500 people, were Chicagoans.”

    I wonder how many of those 12,500 Chicagoans voted in the last mayoral election (assuming that they were at least 18 years old at the time and residents of the city)? Will they vote in future primary and general elections? There’s no way that Rahm will resign. The voters will have to get rid of him.

    1. DJG

      Vatch: Yes. Recently, we see many attempts to overturn elections through scandals. I did not vote for Rahm either time, yet I have a misgiving or two about trying to force him out by indictment. The electorate has to show up and do its duty (as archaic as that word is). But people would rather bloviate about the uselessness of elections. On the third hand, I’ll take what I can get, and a forced resignation may shake Chicagoans out of their self-absorbed corruption and passivity.

  11. Unorthodoxmarxist

    Wow, pretty radical for The Week. Still too much for them to consider what would happen if they suggested voting Green instead of a Dem-front party like Working Families, though.

    Imagine if Sanders’ supporters broke with the Dems went into and funded the Green Party nationally? Millions of real dollars, voters and campaign volunteers to flesh out a party apparatus that has guaranteed ballot lines in close to half the country? I think we’d have the Demo-Publican apparatus scrambling to institute proportional representation before long and too many lost elections.

    1. Jess

      That’s not going to happen because the Green Party is a joke, a plaything for dilettantes. How long has it been in business? And what has it accomplished in terms of party-building at any level? Here’s a perfect example: I am what the pros call a “high propensity voter”. I have only missed one election in my life, and that was local one and I had to go out of town unexpectedly at the last minute. Yet I have never, ever, ever had a Green Party candidate (or a precinct walker on their behalf) knock on my door. Never received a single piece of campaign literature or a phone call asking for my vote. I know what you’re going to say: that costs money. Well, not necessarily. I’ve been involved in multiple successful local initiative and referendum drives. Most involved volunteers going door-to-door or working outside stores. Costs for printing and such generally ran less than $10K, all donations. (And with referendums and initiatives you have to print the entire text of the measure which can sometimes run 100 pages.)

      Way back when I also helped get nominating petitions signed to put Bobby Kennedy on the CA ballot. Guess what: volunteer labor is a great substitute for money. And you know what else? Establishing the party infrastructure at the local level is what positions a party to take statewide and eventually national offices. If the Green party is going to grow it must either pull people away from the established parties — which means contacting those voters — or it has to lure in those who have forsaken the electoral process, which means door-to-door contact with both voter reg forms AND material on your party/candidate/slate, etc.

      1. Eureka Springs

        These days you knock on most peoples door and you’ve already scared the daylights out of them or merely pis**ed them off. I haven’t knocked on a door for a political or initiative campaign in 31 years… I rather doubt I will ever again. And I live in a very small friendly community compared to most.

      2. sd

        Green party: seems to me that staffing a table at the local farmers market and trying to sign up volunteers would at minimum be a good place to start.
        Oddly enough, I only ever see tables at public events signing up Libertarians….

      3. Oregoncharles

        We go door-to-door here; also table at the farmer’s market (outside it, to be precise) and every suitable event that will have us. Actually, I do that part, in my town. But yes, there are plenty of places where the Green Party has very little presence; it takes an active group of volunteers to do the things you’re talking about.

        UOM is saying that there’s a framework available if disgruntled Bernie supporters (minus their candidate, mind you) want to use it. Actually, quite a few of them ARE Greens, as I know from talking with people locally. They don’t, for instance, have to form a whole new party; that would be re-inventing the wheel. There are states and communities where they’d be starting from scratch, though, as you pointed out. But there’s a national organization that at this point is pretty energized, and there are some strong state parties.

        Lambert has said that he’d like to see the Sanders phenomenon split the Democratic party; this is how it would happen. On the other hand, if they just pick up their marbles in disgust and go home, nothing will have been accomplished – except to re-establish that insurgent campaigns are hopeless in the Democratic Party. In living memory, the only one that’s succeeded was the McGovern campaign, when there was no anointed establishment candidate, and the party sabotaged him in the general. Fortunately, Nixon went down in flames before he could do too much harm.

  12. DJG

    No datelines on articles? No receipts because we can send an electronic receipt? No display of prices charged by the apparatus on buses and in subway stops? Impossible to understand EULAs? The fiction that you rent your modem from the telecom? Why, a person could begin to suspect that much of digitization and the WWW are an invitation to fraud.

  13. Mbuna

    Re: Brad DeLong, TPM- This is just talking about closing the barn door after the horses have all left but I guess economists actually don’t deal with reality. The reality we have to deal with is the fact that whatever is left of “civilization” is already in the hands of those with money and power and there really isn’t anything that is going to change that on the horizon. In the actual reality of this moment, the “we as a civilization” that DeLong refers to is a figment of his imagination.

  14. Mbuna

    Re: Big Brother Managment, The Economist- Well the ongoing corporate psyche is only concerned with profit and therefore humanity necessarily must be reduced to a crop to be harvested in some way shape or form. The rise of corporate power that rivals nation states makes me inclined to think that humanity will be enslaved before it has a chance to otherwise destroy itself… Happy Holidays!

  15. craazyman

    Holy smokin crap. They’re still going at it on the MMT thread from 4 days ago. It either makes you wince or it makes you stubbornly proud of the lunatic side of the human condition. Yes this is the species we are a part of, it can do things like that for 4 days.

    Where are all these people when serious things are being discussed? There was only three comments to the post on Germany and Finance. I felt it was embarrasing to the peanut gallery, so we held a musical and set the post to the tune from Springtime for Hitler. That seemed a contribution to the advancement of economical eruditiion. At least it cracked me up.

    What about all those comments on the MMT thread. Is money a credit, a debt, or a banana. Maybe it’s two out of three, but like three-card monte it keeps jumping.. That’s why they can’t find it..

    1. craazyboy

      “Is money a credit, a debt, or a banana. Maybe it’s two out of three, but like three-card monte it keeps jumping.. That’s why they can’t find it..”

      Takes more than one guy to find it.

      But say we did away with fractional banana banking and went to whole banana banking. Then there could be no credit or debt. Unless borrowers just sold bonds to creditors and skipped banks altogether. That would make things easier to figure out. Especially using double entry book keeping, an invention of MMT, which proves they’re right about everything!

      1. craazyman

        then the Austerians could sing “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no . . bananas . . today!’

        i have several very deep thoughts about this topic but i’m too lazy to type them out. I do believe, with a fervent and humble honesty, that I understand this better than anybody alive. Better than Professor Wray and Professor Kelton. Better than anybody who posted a comment on that thread. Do you remember the time Professor Kelton “slummed” down into the peanut gallery and actually talked to us? That was amazing. That to me showed true character and self-confidence. Nevertheless, she’s still partly delusional, suffering from the Newtonian Delusion annd the economic mental disorder that confuses quantity and form. But nobody’s perfect. She get’s an “A” just for socializing.

        1. craazyboy

          Yes. I remember that. It was like being touched by the Money Goddess, except there was no real gratification in any sense of the term, which left me feeling quite flat afterwards. Almost makes you feel like there is nothing but shamans out there. But Kelton is a zillion times cuter than Janet Yellen, so that’s something. Yellen needs to put my money where her mouth is, IMO.

          On Deep Thoughts:

          I’ve got many on the subject I’ve accumulated over the years. Problem is they keep changing, and it’s not due to anything I’ve done. It’s too much work to type it all out. Little squirts here and there is all I can muster.

      2. HopeLB

        Hilarious and insightful!( As usual.) Thank You! And Jubilations (Debt Free Of Course ( Pope’s not getting any press either)). I am off to think about your game idea, the one about searching for new particles and economic models.Before I get to deeper thinking about it, I’m thinking you should have three layers of play with the Bankers and their sycophantic politicians (the pawns) playing one game, then a layer of physicists ( completely oblivious to Bankers) searching for the Newest Higgs while Economists have to incorporate the new found particle while simultaneously pleasing the banksters and then a third layer of play about manipulating the 99% to get them to be afraid, divided and frazzled. This third part could be about what you get them to do, like buying low cut skinny jeans ( with pitifully shallow pockets! Pockets that literally dump your money if you bend, The Banksters must love this feature!) even though their asses are fat to convincing them that they should hate Mexicans, Blacks,Gays, environmentalists, and unions while loving Fracking, GMO’s, low minimum wage and wars.
        You could (if this MIT game program has the capability) have a cool zooming in effect so that while you play one level the others must then correspondingly be made to match up.
        Thanks Very Much for All of the Laughs !!! Hope you do not vote Trump, but what does it matter with Diebold or Hillary leading the GAME?

        Hope LB

    1. James Housel

      I’ll take that as a compliment! Thanks! Wasn’t aware of his work until you mentioned it. This is a didital camera modified to have a larger spectral acceptance than usual then filtered for the IR. I use this camera more often for photographing the stars.

  16. ewmayer

    o Re. “Now, Yves handles the match [sic] stuff, but even I know that means Clinton just proposed closing half the schools in the country.” — Eh, that would be if the proposal targeted the worse-than-median schools. Using the average could mean far fewer, about the same, or far more, depending on the underlying distribution — picture a hundred-element sample where one point = 100 and the other 99 are all zero: average = 1, thus 99 of 100 are worse than average. Important in considering “who gets schlonged” under such a proposal, to use a standard statistical term of art. :)

    o Re. BoingBoing’s “The fact that humans can “selectively breed” legislative proposals, in other words, supports both the creationist hypothesis (which says that modern evolution is the result of human experimentation) and the evolution through natural selection hypothesis (because it shows that mutation and selection produce more fit organisms).” — False dichotomy: selectively breeding is simply human-guided accelerated selection. Darwin used it as a crucial sort of experimental model in formulating his (and Wallace’s) famous theory of how nature does it.

  17. ewmayer

    Re. BoingBoing’s “The fact that humans can “selectively breed” legislative proposals, in other words, supports both the creationist hypothesis (which says that modern evolution is the result of human experimentation) and the evolution through natural selection hypothesis (because it shows that mutation and selection produce more fit organisms).” — False dichotomy: selectively breeding is simply human-guided accelerated selection. Darwin used it as a kind od experimental model in formulating his famous theory of how nature does it.

  18. OIFVet

    Curious developments in Bulgaria: MRF founder Dogan hits out at party leader over Turkey-Russia declaration ‘gaffe’. MRF (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) is a predominantly ethnic Turk party, and one that often plays kingmaker in the formation of coalition governments. Dogan, its founder, is credited with keeping the ethnic peace after the fall of communism in 1989. He was also on the payroll of the fearsome secret police (DS, now disbanded) during communist times. For him to make such a declaration about putting Bulgaria’s national interest first, and connecting the interest of the Turkish minority to the larger national interest, is a stunning rebuke to the pro-Turkish drift of the MRF under Mestan. Dogan still controls MRF from the shadows and the MRF electorate is overwhelmingly influenced by him. Tomorrow the executive committee of the MRF will meet and likely strip Mestan of his leadership role. Mestan is rumored to be holed up in the Turkish Embassy with his wife.

    What does this all mean? Too early to say, but the rest of Dogan’s speech noted the decline of the US, the rise of Russia, and the fact of the overwhelmingly russophile population of Bulgaria. Given that, and the fact that early elections appear to be on the horizon, it is likely a declaration that any future government will have to moderate its anti-Russia stance in favor of a more balanced approach to foreign policy and rapprochement with Russia. It’s also a loud and public face slap of the current government’s puppet approach. Many Bulgarians are stunned that it was an ethnic Turk that came out and said these things, of all people. In any case, it’s an indictment of the puppet status of Bulgaria, the neo-ottoman ambitions of the wanna-be sultan in Ankara, and the US strategy in the region. I am quite thrilled, that’s for sure, as there is the possibility that the Bulgarian national interest is not yet completely dead, and that ethnic peace in the country appears to be secured for the time being.

    1. polecat

      That’s really fascinating. I knew Dogan was trying to rebuff any political shenanigins being brought about behind the scenes by western influences, but I didn’t realize the Turkish aspects, especially as it pertains to the current Turkish national scene, Erdogan, etc. Another bit of thread being pulled out of the fabric that is Europe.

      1. OIFVet

        Dogan has never been enamored with the wanna-be sultan. Back in 2010, the sultan tried to stage an internal split in the MRF, using a guy by the name of Kasim Dal. When that didn’t work, Dal started a party to provide an alternative to the MRF. It has been a total non-entity. Dogan appears to have miscalculated with Mestan though, his hand-picked successor. Or perhaps Mestan’s head got too big for his scrawny neck, and thought he could defy Dogan. Major miscalculation, it would appear. In any case, Dogan is more likely to call for the resurrection of Kemalism than ever bow to the wanna-be sultan.

  19. JTMcPhee

    Seems to me a lot of very smart people have for very good reasons come to the conclusion that we humans have “f__k” as such a significant part of our common parlance for many very good reasons. Goes to denote the act of sexual congress (pun intended? I don’t know, maybe) with or without procreational possibilities. To killing some other human(s) (“We f__ked them good! Pink Mist, dude!”). To what we think other people do in efforts to do anything in any way that we don’t approve of (“F–Ked it up again, eh, Smithers?”) And all the other usage noted in all the various dictionaries that notice the word and its contexts. Seems to be common to many other languages too.

    I did run across an obscure claim that the word is etymologically related to “death, killing, dying”, and that led to the odd speculation that maybe the hyperuse of that particular ejaculation (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ejaculation, pick whatever definition suits you) leads to some invocation process that conjures the Grim Reaper. Our Troops and certain population subgroups certainly avail themselves of the word frequently, to the debasement of elevated discourse and all that old-fogie stuff.

    Reading and commenting here at NC if one pays full-spectrum attention to all the stuff on all the pieces of the complexity that is the present state of the planet and its biosphere and the human political economy seems to be leading several of us to the ever-more-choate (or given the drift of many links today, the unisyllabic pronunciation denominating a snotty-ass prep school might also apply) and depressing conclusion that all high-minded hopefulness for a world where “decent people can live simple decent kindly lives” is just the eyewash that the Elite allows us to keep us from one more spasm of massive violence that might inexcusably bring a different Elite to power and into position to satisfy their every deadly and self-indulgent impulse. With so many of us just aching for our turn to grab at the brass ring if only we could get a seat on one of the ponies going up and down on the outer margin of the carousel…

    Words, it’s all just words… Better to focus on illuminating a few roaches, like the CALPers Elite and their Banksters, and argue about the nature of “money” and “debt” and all that… One of my personal heroes is a couple, actually, who for decades have sailed the world, soaking up wonderful experiences, on perfect wooden vessels that the husband builds himself. By writing, photography, speaking engagements, consulting, and repairing other people’s boats and such, they break up the legs of their perpetual world tour into segments of local experience and days or weeks of sun, ocean motion and pellucid night skies. The breaks are all about accumulating a sufficient store of “Fun Units,” dollars, which they abbreviate as “funnits,” to get to the next port, over the next stretch of horizon, while doing minimal damage to the biosphere they impinge upon. One kind of Money. They know where all humans end up (so far — the techs are working to fix that for the Elite) and so “live in the now.”

    My personal observation is that this couple is an extraordinary rarity. Pretty much everyone else, everyone, just wants “MORE,” and it’s completely set up, planet-wide, in a system and structure that enlists anyone that gets close to it into nailing down any aberrant wisps of DFH-ness and building the Ziggurat ever higher, so the only way to get MORE, on the maybe impossible path that so many apparently aspire to of GETTING IT ALL, is by accumulating whatever it is that dollars and deutschmarks and zlotys represent.

    So keep fighting , those of us who have the Quixotic penchant, for sure! (Actually, I prefer “working” and “organizing” — as noted above, all the “wars” our tribe embarks on only seem to be a Kline bottle that empties back on our foundations). Maybe the critters that may once again creep up onto Dry Land from the environs of the deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, http://hydrothermalvents.weebly.com/life.html, critters which don’t need oxygen to live and like it REALLY hot, may thank us for leaving a little residue of decency, for keeping the real “alien plague organisms” among us from destroying all virtue and energy, from sending the whole planet down the entropy hole… Though so many of us secretly admire the tech savvy and disruptive innovativeness of the Death Star builders — if only they could perfect their defences against the little Rebellion wasp attacks…

  20. ex-PFC Chuck

    “The Republican Establishment Would Rather Lose the Presidential Election Than Control of the Party”

    Ditto for the Democratic party establishment. Case in point, the Saturday night debates that, unlike the Republican debates, for some reason are not accessible after the fact in the internet.

  21. Doug

    Re: Police Violence vs. Community Violence.

    This graph would be FAR more interesting if adjusted for the # of white officers on the police force.

  22. RicRadio

    Oops, wrong post the first time.
    The Guardian piece by George Monboit – the hill farmers get a hell of a beating! What with all the trashed watersheds, dangerous flooding, the destruction of our otherwise pristine empty uplands, they have the nerve to park domesticated wildlife there abouts, flatulatingting their and our way to global warming. How will the global economy cope when it has to accommodate these rapacious mavericks? I just cannot be bothered to take Mr Monboit to task over his dodgy math, or the factoid that animals and their environment are pretty much carbon neutral, whereas fossil fuel consumption is far from it. But I would dearly like to see this man explain himself to a Scottish hill farmer and and his generations of preceding him, and watch him hobble away with a sheppards walking stave placed firmly where it shouldn’t ordinarily reside. Disgraceful drivel.

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