Links 12/26/15

After Warmest Christmas Day on Record, Freakish Warmth Continues in East, South Weather Underground

‘Is this Planet Earth?’ Astronaut dials wrong number Des Moines Register

Our Parasites And Vermin Reveal Secrets Of Human History NPR

What Was Volkswagen Thinking? The Atlantic

‘All of a sudden being a CTO at a bank is sexy’: This technology could revolutionize finance Business Insider. Banks “going bananas” for blockchain. So I wonder what the phishing equilibrium will be?

Lower Jobless Claims Don’t Point to Robust Labor Market WSJ. So, the labor market is terrible, and there’s no inflation on the horizon. Remind me again why the Fed raised rates?

Oil price lows prompt Chinese gas pipeline deal FT

Top Iron Ore Shipper Cuts 2016 Forecast by 19% as Glut Grows Bloomberg

Anglo American steps up mine disposals with $36m Australian deal FT

DNA Manufacturing Enters the Age of Mass Production IEEE Spectrum

As marijuana industry expands, power demand taxes U.S. grids St Louis Tribune. Since, as a controlled substance, marijuana had to be grown indoors, under lights. So, having legalized it, we retain those cultivation techniques (and cultivars).

Justin Trudeau and the cannabis factory The Economist

Seven Big Summits to Watch in 2016 CFR


Heavily redacted Benghazi emails released on Christmas Eve The Hill. I actually admire Clinton for this; she gives zero f*cks. Privatize your email server while on government service, dole out the mail you want, redacted, then ask “What are you going to do about it?” Like Trump (and Sanders), Clinton is being wholly herself.

What Really Happened With the DNC’s “Datagate”? Jacobin (LifelongLib).

The Sanders campaign is taking its fight with the DNC to the next level Yahoo. Wasserman Schultz shouldn’t have rigged the debate schedule. Now the perception of favoritism colors everything the DNC does.

Clinton casts wider net for cash The Hill. Hmm.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Secret Weapon’ Could Escalate Campaign Rhetoric WSJ. That would be Bill.

Trump Insults Hillary, Everybody Wins? New York Magazine. Well, not everybody…

How Trump Has Neutralized Super-PAC Cash Bloomberg

Top Republicans don’t rule out backing Trump Boston Globe

Ben Carson’s brand benefits from campaign Politico. “He has folded into Carson Enterprises his presidential campaign, which has excelled at fundraising.” Sounds like he’s been taking lessons from Clinton.

Now it’s even easier for candidates and their aides to help super PACs WaPo

The Federal Election Commission has quietly given the green light to federal candidates who want to solicit contributions for super PACs by meeting in small groups — so small that there can be just two other people in the room.

Seems legit.

Scott Walker Corruption Case Threatens to Implicate Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Mother Jones


Big Christmas Gifts For Syria – Alloush Killed, Yarmouk Cleared Moon of Alabama

What really happened to the U.S. train-and-equip program in Syria? McClatchy

A Skeptic’s Take on Solving Syria Foreign Policy


The 12 Days of Christmas: the story behind the holiday’s most annoying carol Vox

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Dominates Christmas Eve Box Office Variety

FedEx Says Employees Working Extra Shifts on Christmas WSJ

Guns top Christmas wish lists and the industry seems to be booming Guardian. Holiday gifts combine with holiday depression to create a Darwinian two-fer!

2015 Lists

Our Annual Year 2015 The Onion

2015: The Year in Guns Gawker

2015: The Year in Mass Shootings Rolling Stone

As mass casualties continue, hospitals keep honing their preparedness WaPo


Hutong Neighbours The Anthill

Heard in the Hutong: What Do Beijingers Think about Christmas? WSJ. I don’t think these interviews took place in a hutong…

India’s prime minister makes surprise stop over in Pakistan Asian Correspondent

Vietnam Economic Growth Quickens on Investment, Manufacturing Bloomberg

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

If a Close US Ally Backdoored Juniper, Would NSA Tell Congress? Emptywheel. Betteridge’s Law…

Neural Networks, Recognizing Friendlies, $Billions; Friendlies as Enemies, $Priceless Another Word For It

Persistence of social signatures in human communication PNAS. Very interesting from a surveillance and an intersectional perspective (which is what you would expect, when you think about it).

Class Warfare

The Koch-Like Family You’ve Never Heard Of Influencing State Legislatures Political Research Associates

Charles Dickens on Management vs. Labor Conversable Economist

Britain for sale: £8 trillion, or nearest offer The Telegraph. So it looks like the 1% are getting a pretty good deal, working through the Tories.

Football’s War on the Minds of Black Men Vice

How to generate a Golden Age: TV Edition Digitopoly

Apple Watch Users Discover Another Way to Go ‘Hands Free’ WSJ

George Prochnik interviews Eyal Weizman LA Review of Books. Full of intriguing formulations: “Even the most militant environmentalists still regard climate change as the ‘collateral of history’ — the unintended byproduct of industrial development, trade, and transport; whereas I see it as the intention, the very telos, of the colonial project.”

Antidote du jour:

links lion

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. JerryDenim

    I find the timing of the ‘commercial marijuana industry demand for energy’ story very interesting. I just had a strange first hand encounter with the new phenomenon. I was flying over southern Michigan last night when both the Captain and myself spotted a gigantic square of light off in the distance illuminating the clouds far above the burning yellow square below, much like the jumbotron lights of Times Square billboards do to the clouds above mid-town Manhattan some evenings, except my these lights were in the middle of nowhere Michigan. ( western outskirts of Battle Creek to be exact) Adding to the mystery the lights were much brighter, AND the intensely illuminated area on the ground was even larger than mid-town Manhattan. This was a new, and very unmistakable apparition in the southern Michigan landscape that neither the Captain nor myself could ever recall seeing in our many combined years of aviation, so we queried the air traffic controllers about the mysterious, intense, large area of concentrated illumination. They knew what we were asking about right away and said; “Yeah, that’s a new commercial marijuana growing facility. We get about four or five questions an hour about it now at night, it must be really bright.”

    I wish I was an electrical engineer and could estimate the power draw coming from the facility, but it must be enormous. I didn’t think too deeply about it after the air traffic controller solved the mystery, but the tremendous heat generated by the 1000 watt bulbs mentioned in the story help explain why someone would want to put a Weed greenhouse in such a cold climate. I thought modern commercial growers would be using cool-burning, low-energy LEDs for their needs now. Environmental morality aside, I would think using less energy intensive techniques/equipment for cannabis growing would yield higher profits. What gives with the crazy high-wattage incandescent bulbs? Any weed growers who can explain? Lower startup costs with incandescent bulbs or better yields? Something else?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Marijuana, last I checked, is a plant. And it’s easy to grow. It should surely be possible, given legal cultivation, to breed powerful varieties that don’t depend on powerful electric lighting, no? Am I missing something here?

      * * *

      Incidentallly, the parallel between giant power-hogging marijuana monoculture in remote locations, and giant power-hogging data centers in remote locations is very suggestive.

      Thanks for the tip.

      1. ambrit

        Not sure about the intensity of the light, but, the UV component is important. The wavelengths your lighting puts out will definitely factor in to THC yield. Michigan??? Mid to low altitude and high latitude equals lower yield. Here’s a capsule version care of good old High Times Mag. (Yet another Larry Flint ‘exploitation’ mag.)
        “Keep ’em flying!”×24-/230551669002

        1. different clue

          High Times did not start out as a Larry Flynt publication, surely. It was only aquired late in its history by The Flynt Group, surely.

          A neat thing about higher latitudes is that while the growing season is shorter, the days themselves are longer during that season. So the plants can still do a lot of “light-making” while the sun shines. And in higher latitudes, the nights may be “cooler” than the nights would be a lower latitudes, so the plants respire less of their daytime-produced food back down to water and CO2 than what they would if the nights were “warmer”. ( Interestingly, that will be another yield-reducing by-effect of global warming. As nights cool down less than they used to, plants will respire more of each day’s photosynthetically-produced food-product back down into water and CO2 than what they used to.)

          Marijuana grown in Matanuska Valley, Alaska was reputed to be very drug-rich and high-quality . . . at that very high latitude and low altitude. It got the name Matanuska Thunderfuck for that reason.

    2. John Zelnicker

      The original issue with the high-wattage lights was getting the correct wavelengths for the best results. There were no other options. Recently, a Colorado friend of mine was telling me that there are new LED lights being made for cannabis cultivation that will bring down both the huge amount of heat generated and reduce the power requirements substantially. They are also much cheaper.

      1. ambrit

        As an earlier link suggested, more than a couple of plants really becomes commercial level cultivation. How much can one consume before ‘brain rot’ sets in? YMMV

  2. allan

    Guantánamo Bay lawyers call bluff on Obama’s promise to close prison

    Lawyers representing Guantánamo Bay detainees who have been held at the camp in Cuba for up to 14 years without charge or trial have accused President Obama of stalling on his promise to close the military prison. … They see Obama’s criticism of Congress as a smokescreen to obscure the fact that a primary source of the current inertia lies not on Capitol Hill but within his own administration.

    The Antidote seems not to be looking forward to 2016. For good reason.

    1. Synoia

      If blockchain has the potential to eliminate the middleman (aka: bank), are the banks putting themselves out of business?

      Ifmy pay in in a blockchain, as a deposit, and I can settle my bills with segments of the blockchain, what does the bank do for me?

      1. Steve H.

        That’s a good question. Note the adjective in a line from the Links article:

        “… so banks are desperate to find a way to adapt the technology to traditional finance.”

        1. Steve H.

          More specifically, can a distributed system actually circumvent the imposition of prosecution futures by centralized authority?

          If not, expect more ‘reputation’ factors in online transactions, embargoing sites that use blockchain and downgrading the credit ratings of individuals who use them. But that seems very messy.

          1. Larry

            The way the block chain is written today, if you can control 50.1% of the machines processing the transactions, you control the block chain.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          That is the phishing equilibrium part. And anybody who thinks the banks and the blockchain tech dudes aren’t both in search of the same equilibrium is, I would argue, naive…

    2. different clue

      I notice that sometime recently John Robb abolished the comment section on his blog. Has anyone else noticed that?

      1. Steve H.

        As of today, Ian Welsh added a CAPTCHA for comments, due to spam attacks. And comments on NC sometimes evaporate, with the spam filter being a major factor. I read all the comments here, but can’t just look at the post time to know if I’ve already seen it, since an earlier comment may have been entangled.

        Abolishing the comment section is maximizing the selectivity. Saves on curating time, but reduces the observations available for orientation. To put it another way, positive feedback can induce squealing, and the recent MMT threads are a proof of the point.

    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

      But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!”

      ― George Carlin

      1. Carolinian

        Oh sorry thought you were describing our neoliberal economic system. At least Christianity theoretically believes in helping the poor, unlike the neoliberals who eat the poor. It seems our modern sophisticates have their own irrational beliefs.

        1. Synoia

          Exactly. Much of what is believed in the halls of power is dogma.

          If we fight them over there…
          Strength through military spending….
          Climate change is not man made…
          Representating the people…
          General Welfare….
          Due process….
          Right to remain silent….

      2. optimader

        personally I was thinking the NSA, but the giva away was a list of ten things. The list is longer..

    2. Massinissa

      Damn, I still dont even have a smartphone. Im going to keep using my flip phone for as long as I can. Im going to be ticked if America somehow forces me to use a more expensive phone service in order to pay for things…

      1. cwaltz

        I’m right there with you. My two youngest and I are holdouts. We all have dumb phones. I suspect the baby will eventually get a smart phone when he gets older since he’s very much into tech but the third has been different his whole life and I suspect he’ll be using a dumb phone for as long as he can too.

        1. different clue

          Me too. If AT&T finally shuts down or tears out all the copper landlines and I have to get a cell phone, my cell phone will be a dumm phone.

      2. beth

        Ditto. My flip died on me three weeks ago. No chance of getting it fixed locally. I tried & tried. It needed one part replaced. How long can one live w/o a phone if you mail it away for repair. You must buy a new one/reconditioned one. I will hold on as long as I can. The newer flips are more cheaply made. This is not easy.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘the church’s bank account number was projected onto a large screen. Worshipers pulled out cellphones and tithed through an app’

      Fifty years ago, churches in small U.S. towns with only one or two banks would put blank bank drafts in slots on the back of the pews. Parishioners could just fill out a draft, sign it (legibly), and their account would be charged. It was as easy as scribbling an IOU on a cocktail. errrr “dinner” napkin.

      There didn’t even have to be cell service or electric power for this payment system to work. It was like … magic or something.

      1. optimader

        HAHA! I need to start church! Is that legal?
        Will I actually need to show up or can I just hire someone to do the Bibical flow of consciousness?

        My all time favorite Church name remains “Good Times Baptist Church” south of UofI Chicago. Heaven on Earth I’m guess’in.

      2. Lexington

        With the added bonus that the church knows exactly how much each parishioner is kicking in, so social pressure can be applied to the cheapskates to up their game…

        1. JTMcPhee

          …and having “served” on the Every Member Canvass Committees of several brands of “Christian” denominations, I can add that long before the balance sheet was rendered in VisiCalc or Excel, gimlet-eyed people of both sexes with their Edifice Complexes on high function tallied into ledgers and examined those “offerings” to push them to the “true tithe” level from everyone, whatever the income level… those little easy-opening envelopes in the pockets on the backs of the pew seats, part of the Vestry’s function to slit ’em and count ’em, and press with various degrees of avarice to get the Elect to use their damn pledge envelopes and at the end of the year complete their pledged amounts, because after all those are DEBTS and OBLIGATIONS are enforceable,

          “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…” G_D: “Do as I say, not as I do!”

  3. timbers


    “The leader of the Jaysh al-Islam radical Islamist group was killed in an airstrike near Damascus, local media reports.”


    “BEIRUT (Reuters) – A top Syrian rebel leader and head of the most powerful insurgent group in the eastern suburbs of Damascus was killed in an aerial raid that targeted the group’s headquarters, rebel sources and the Syrian army said on Friday.”

    “Several rebel leaders have been killed since Russia began an aerial campaign on Sept. 30…”

    “The rebel sources said that in the raid Russian planes fired at least 10 missiles at a secret headquarters of the group, which is the largest rebel faction in the area and has about 15,000 to 20,000 fighters…”

    The Reuters article uses the word “rebel” and “rebel sources” about 10 times.

  4. Brindle

    re: Trump Insults Hillary…..

    In the article only three candidates are mentioned; Trump, Clinton and Bush— no mention of Sanders, who the MSM have made into an official “non-person”. Curious to see how the Iowa caucus plays out as Sanders supporters obviously are not driven by the amount of coverage their candidate gets.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Marijuana industry..power demand.

      Greenhouse/inside = All year round, any climate (climate controlled) = better quality control.

      You can do it even in a basement apartment/cubicle (unless we turn all public football stadiums into community gardens) or at the South Pole (perhaps Global Warming can eliminate the need for indoor growing there).

      That’s Localism.

      (Posted in the wrong place. The comment should be by itself).

    2. alex morfesis

      Sanders is helping…he should hold events in front of or on the same block as tv stations, radio stations, and newspapers…showing up with 500-8000 people will change their tune…

      1. optimader

        very doable in Chicago where storefront studios have some presence. It would be funny for the third party videographer perspective to video an event and network studio in the same frame, then the municipal response.– guerrilla media, for fun. Post it directly, or submit to the network whores. Could be viral

        As well, if Sanders had some campaign media ppl worth two shts, doing an event in front of Trump Tower in Chicago would surely garner free media.

        1. Daryl

          Didn’t Martin O’Malley already do that, or some other Democratic dude? It’s already too played out!

          1. nycTerrierist

            Just because it was done, doesn’t mean it can’t be effective.

            Especially in the United States of Amnesia.

  5. grayslady

    Lambert, have you heard from Yves since the storm in Birmingham? I recall that she visits her mother in Birmingham for Christmas and was wondering if she and her mother are okay.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Parasites, vermin…human history.

    Parasite definition: an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.

    Are we humans parasites living off Gaia?

    Do we return carbon in our bodies back to the soil after we pass on? We do…mostly.

    Do we return our shares of car-generated carbon (nutrient in a broad sense) back to where they came from (not leaving them in the atmosphere)? We don’t.

    What about other nutrients we derive from our host?

    BTW, there is another definition: (in ancient Greece) a person who received free meals in return for amusing or impudent conversation, flattering remarks, etc.

    That goes to show you can’t just go by what others say, define or think, if you’re a comedian. Comedy work is not parasitic.

    1. different clue

      I see you are still propagating the willful confusion between human beings and modern civilization beings.
      The Indian Nations were not parasitic in the age of Terraforming the Amazon. Of course the chauvinist west doesn’t feel the Indians are/were human, and constantly has to remind itself to pretend that it does feel the Indians are/were human.

      1. cwaltz

        I have great respect for the nomadic tribes and their belief that our relationship with nature is meant to be more symbiotic rather than behaving with wanton wastefulness. Although since they were nomadic I’m not entirely sure that they still didn’t to some extent qualify as semi parasitic(taking from planet earth but giving thanks for the bounty.) At least though they were smart enough to know you aren’t supposed to kill the host(and would leave before they stripped the land of life.)

    1. Jim Haygood

      Conclusion of David Stockman’s Christmas message:

      So 101 years after the Christmas truces along the Western Front there is still no peace on earth. And the long suffering American taxpayers, who foot the massive bills generated by the War Party’s demented and destructive policies, have no clue that Imperial Washington is the principal reason.

      Not a single Depublicrat candidate has any plans to change this. They just want their finger on the trigger, as Leader and Chief Executioner of the Formerly Free World.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        American taxpayers do not foot those huge bills.

        Your conscience, the taxpayer, is clear.

        American citizens, on the other hand, should elect more anti-spending (specifically anti-military-spending) public servants who can better prioritize all-you-can-desire public spending.

        But the fulfillment of that civic wish comes and goes. There is no guarantee that public spending will always be better prioritized.

        That leaves the other option – make it not all-you-can-desire.

  7. Ron

    “[Baker] just has to worry about the overall damage to the Republican brand,” Cullen said. “Other people like Kelly Ayotte have to worry not just about the damage he is doing to the Republican brand, but what potential damage he is doing to her politically.”

    Republican Brand is driven by Southern/Bible States dominated by White voters and has been for years so exactly why is the mass media wringing its hands over the current batch Republican potential nominee’s?

  8. Carolinian


    There’s a compelling theory that the DNC leaked the controversy about the Sanders campaign to distract from the data security failure of their sole-source vendor. Indeed, whether political connections or mutual backscratching drives the relationship between the DNC and NGP VAN, it’s clear the two entities are intertwined in a way that raises Democratic vulnerabilities for no good reason.

    This is one reason why we should discourage monopolies. In addition to the ways monopolies use their market power to raise prices while degrading quality of service, they magnify risk through an undiversified supply chain. They suppress innovation by denying competitors access to customers. They increase inequality, as monopolists grow in economic and political power. That the DNC, the supposed party of the little guy, has created a monopoly in political technology should be hard to swallow for its members.

  9. ambrit

    I know that it is silly minituae like this that drive the Tinfoil Hat Cadres, but, what’s up with the two Antidotes?

      1. ambrit

        Huggles! I love it!
        I saw something on the order of: Depressed Alpha Male and/or “It’s so good to be home with Mommy!”

    1. Yves Smith

      Probably a good version of a fat-finger error. I can see in the backstage that Lambert as a matter of course uploads his Antidotes and Plantidote 2x, which I upload the image one and resize it for the excerpt, which is what you see on the site landing page.

      1. ambrit

        Ah. No conspiracy needed.
        I hope you and yours fare well with this aberrant weather. (The ‘new normal?)

  10. optimader

    RE: As marijuana industry expands, power demand taxes U.S. grids

    This article offers no nuance separating illicit grow house vs the relatively small “legal” cultivation electrical utility/energy footprint.

    …As marijuana industry expands, power demand taxes U.S. grids St Louis Tribune. Since, as a controlled substance, marijuana had to be grown indoors, under lights. So, having legalized it, we retain those cultivation techniques (and cultivars)…
    That analysis flows from the claim: marijuana has been “legalized” in 23 States.

    …Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire…

    more specifically, see how “legal” cultivation is in the New Hampshire example:
    The way I read it, after a decent sized fine cultivator could be 100% asset stripped in a prosecution trying to avoid a potential 7-20 years for one decent sized plant. Am I getting it wrong?

    Make no mistake, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, at the Federal level, and is only “legal” in some limited circumstances in those 23 States. Keep in mind, anyone participating in those State level “legal” exceptions is exposed to being a test case for a bankrupting Federal prosecution. And don’t be so naïve to think that will not happen.

    …23 states where marijuana is legal…” means a myriad of different things.
    Unpacking the claim, for example in one of the more liberal interpretations illustrated by the case of the Denver couple individually allowed to grow six plants for personal use “if grown out of public eyesight“. That in essence means Indoors.

    Please identify where in the United States someone can plant an acre of Marijuana plants, for whatever reason — a psychoactive feedstock, flowers for bees, making rope, just for the fck of it?… ect ect..
    Cultivation of Marijuana can still be prosecuted as a felony, no less as well, at the State and Municipal level today if done in an unfettered manner outdoors.

    My point is it is a Red Herring to suggest that the preferred cultivation technique is (remains/will be) a surreptitious, hugely energy intensive process that was devised as an illicit (and logical) response to the synthetic (legally driven) risk/reward equilibrium in the marijuana market.

    Ipso facto:
    –Grow lights are used to force (productivity/sqft) because illegality imposes constraints on the productive space;
    –Insulation is used to avoid thermal detection as a result of the thermal signature of “grow houses”;
    –Extraordinary air-conditioning is used to manage the “waste heat” that creates a thermal signature;
    –Presumably diesel generators are used in remote grow-house locations to avoid an abnormal utility consumption anomaly at remote “grow house“ locations.

    I’ll put out there that the fundamental issue to carte blanche legalization, and more environmentally benign cultivation is that Marijuana is a virulent (in the sense of robust) naturally occurring plant that presents a very low entrance barrier to Citizens cultivating themselves for the purpose of recreational intoxication and self-medication, or for whatever aesthetic reason someone might want to grow a plant!.

    This represents a huge risk to:
    –Presently legal, regulated, and taxed High Entrance Barrier products used for recreational intoxication. –Fermentation/Distillation/Marketing&Advertizing/Distribution/Transportation/ Industries;
    –Presently legal and regulated very high entrance barrier products used for conventional medication. –Pharmaceutical/Care Provider/Marketing&Advertizing/Distribution/Transportation/Industries;
    — The Present LEGIONS of employees in the Regulatory food chain from the LEO through the Prison Industry.

    Considering the existential threat true “legalization” implies for all of these deeply embedded Tax Revenue streams, For-Profit Product channel. and perhaps most significant to overcome — the potentially redundant Regulatory-LEO-Prison- Municipal/State/Federal parasitic employment drag, I think it safe to assume there will be HUGE status quo push back to allowing Marijuana to be cultivated in a more diversified and energy neutral manner.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Well urged, indeed.

      Another industry fighting to maintain prohibition (since the beginning in the 1920’s) is the basic chemicals such as Dow and duPont. This is because cannabis seed oil (not psychoactive) is a very suitable feedstock for many basic chemicals that are currently derived from petroleum products.

  11. susan the other

    Eyal Weiman’s “The Desert Threshold” – I thought EW was doing a good job of advocating permaculture by talking about the limits of colonizing unproductive desert lands which always revert to their dry reality and leave human settlements in ruin. That this failed “colonialism” is just part of the long continuum of industrialization which has led to global warming is interesting because it implies we really haven’t changed our methods in thousands of years. Until now, hopefully. We now know that deserts soak up more CO2 than other more productive lands, which is interesting but he doesn’t mention this new discovery. I get the feeling that we are on the threshold not of desertification, but of getting our act together. We really should make our cities bloom.

    1. Synoia

      We really should make our cities bloom

      In the 19th Century, London, as one of the the larges cities into world, had a problem.

      Horse Droppings. Tons and tons of them.

      Your solution to “Blooming Cites” is what exactly (provide link and examples), and how does this solution not introduce a different problem?

      One can postulate that the existence of cities themselves are the root cause of many of our problems. Personally I have a nasty suspicion that Gaia herself will resolve the overpopulation problem, and thus cities.

      Us humans are very good a “solving problem” by obfuscation — aka putting the problem under a different rock due to the willful refusal to accept root causes. (See political dogma addressed above).

    2. Steve H.

      Permaculture started when Bill Mollison observed how the native Australians carved tiny niches of productivity out of the desert. Weizman’s work is really interesting, but Laureano’s ‘Water Atlas’ shows many examples predating capitalism, back to neolithic times. There are aspects that predate humans, if you churn Dawkins’ ‘Extended Phenotype’ a bit.

      NC noted ‘The Neolithic Roots of Economic Institutions’ back in September, which was pretty convincing in how it treated concentrations of wealth and social structures.

      Good article, spurring much thought…

    3. different clue

      He may not have heard about it since it was so recently reported. I assume you are referring to articles about carbonate-rich and/or CO2 rich water building up under desert areas in China?

    4. quixote

      On the topic of the original mention, not susan’s comment, this line: “whereas I see it [climate change] as the intention, the very telos, of the colonial project” is such bunk I’d never bother to read the article.

      Climate change is the intention? Not shortsighted profit? Hello? What planet does this guy live on?

      Going right back to desertification induced by early agriculture, the desire, the goal, the intention, the telos, was to fulfill some immediate objective. The ruin of the environment takes people by surprise every single time. Every. Single. Time. (Tangentially, it’s a great example of my rule of thumb that when people start using expensive words they don’t need, check your bogosity meter.)

      Anyway, now that I’ve got that rant off my chest, I wanted to clarify that CO2 in the desert business. Astrobiology has a readable explanation.

      Carbon from plants gets washed into soil and from there goes into groundwater. Aquifers in deserts are very far underground, so more isolated from the atmosphere. The carbon dissolved in the water that reaches those aquifers can’t escape back into the air, so it accumulates there and forms a carbon sink. Irrigation, which is common near deserts, leaches more carbon into the soil some of which then percolates down into the deep aquifers.

      When people start mining deep desert water for irrigation, something people are doing more and more everywhere, all that dissolved carbon goes right back into the air, of course.

  12. Brindle

    re: Marijuana Industry…..

    There is no practical reason for individual back yard garden growing to be illegal. There are quite a few strains that will mature and be ready for harvest by the first hard frost—even coastal Alaska can probably be conducive to an outdoor marijuana patch.

    1. Synoia

      MJ would grow nicely in the fields currently used for growing Tobacco.

      One can see a RJ Reynold’s or new improved Camel’s high on the horizon.

      I’d like to see the Tobacco states full of MJ crops…what an amazing southern strategy that would become. Could give whole new meaning to Southern Democrats.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Got news for you from Cracker Florida — a whole lot of Gun-loving Rebel-yelling God-fearing Mooslim-hating Trump-leaning rednecks spend a large amount of time in Mellowland, which does nothing for their politics or awareness. Pot is not a panacea, it’s just looking to be mainstream monetized like every other “desirable” thing…

  13. ambrit

    Dr. Haygood, did you see the new CME margins list? A lot of margins went up, while silver and oil margins went down! I’m scratching my admittedly ‘Markets’ challenged head. (Dad lost some serious money back in the ‘Go Gos’ playing pork bellies futures. His only big ‘score’ happened when he became privy to some ‘privilidged’ information.)
    My ‘big idea’ for next year is to ‘short’ democracy futures.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There was a time, you couldn’t go wrong betting, sorry, investing along with Hilary in the futures market.

  14. knowbuddhau

    I’m halfway through George Prochnik interviews Eyal Weizman – “The Desert Threshold.” Utterly fascinating, thanks so much.

    I’ve spent a lot of time arguing along the “collateral damage” path. I’ve tried to formulate AGW as an accident, the unintended consequence of our reduction of Mother Earth to a mechanical object with which we may do as we please. I’ve been trying to make an argument that will reach those just on the other side of the line.

    It all seems now like an effort in self-exculpation. “We didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident, so don’t feel guilty, but do do something.”

    But Weizman is arguing that oh yes, we did. And now that I think about it, there’s a phrase that says it all: “the conquest of nature.” FFS, we even went so far as to proclaim “the conquest of space.”

    Colonialism isn’t just about moving from a center into a periphery, it’s all about conquering nature herself, making Mother Earth our bitch.

    Gaia help me, I’m reminded of an old commercial for margarine: “You can’t fool Mother Nature.” But isn’t that exactly what colonialism has been all about, eg, “making the desert bloom?” ‘Nature was wrong to make such and such area a desert; the people living here are wrong, too; we will correct that mistake.’ I’m also reminded of Joseph Campbell in “Sukhavati: Place of Bliss.”

    I think what happens, in our mythology, is that the symbols, the mythological, archetypal symbols, became interpreted as facts. I think it starts with the Old Testament. I think, with the Old Testament, god is a fact, not a symbol; and ‘the Holy Land’ is that place, and no other; and man is superior to the beasts; and Nature is fallen; with the Fall in the Garden of Eden, Nature is corrupt. So we do not give ourselves to Nature, we will correct Nature. There is Good and Evil in Nature, and we are supposed to be on the side of the Good, so there is a tension: you don’t yield to Nature.

    These are Nature worshipers [images of perhaps S. American tribespeople]. Well, what else have ya got to worship? Some figment of your imagination that you put up in the clouds? And so we’ve lost the symbols. Meanwhile, we need the symbols. [Emphasis more or less original.]

    The idea that this religion isn’t an opinion, it’s a “hard” fact, just like Science, means you can’t reject it or you’re not only wrong, but more likely insane and/or in league with the devil, probably both. These two bogus claims can be found from economics to climate science.

    Contrary to this, Jesus came along and said, “I am the branch, and you are the vines.” The whole idea of communion, bread as the body, and so on. There’s a much more wholesome, organic interpretation of our relationship with Nature available, even within that religion. What’s more, the symbolism of an ever-dying, ever-living salvific figure being pinned to a tree, and thus fructifying the world (I’m thinking of Odin and Yggdrasil, but there ore others), goes back into time immemorial.

    And I’m not even up to the section labeled, “Land abandoned by the Lord.” Thanks again for a great read.

    1. JTMcPhee

      A pitch for a book by a distant relative, John McPhee — “The Control of Nature” —

      The Control of Nature shows these same strengths. It is personalized geology emphasizing a human time scale. Its title comes from an inscription McPhee once saw on the University of Wyoming engineering building (“STRIVE ON-THE CONTROL OF NATURE is WON, NOT GIVEN”). Its unifying theme is the ambiguity inherent both in the phrase “control of nature”—is it nature’s control, or our control of nature?—and in the attempts by human societies to gain the upper hand in this interaction, which McPhee describes throughout in military metaphors. The Wyoming inscription by implication reinforces the biblical assurance of mankind’s dominance but revises the terms: Man has had to declare war on nature. There is throughout Mcphee’s narrative a sense of the apocalyptic, of an escalating risk in human endeavor and a reduced list of alternatives. Nevertheless, The Control of Nature is not a preachy or political book. McPhee speaks frequently of the roles of pure human stubbornness and ignorance, which make confrontations with nature inevitable, but he focuses mainly upon the scientists and engineers at the battlefront. He tries to modulate a double view of what he ambiguously calls the “heroic chutzpah” of mankind’s endeavors to maintain a status quo before the powers of an ever-changing nature….

      Some stuff just can’t be fixed…

  15. Wyoming

    DeVos family.

    The article left out one of the more interesting factoids about the DeVos’s. Betsy DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince (founder of Blackwater). At least they are keeping security at the top of their agenda…..

    1. afisher

      If you happened to read the Libertarian Future articles ( yes, there are 6 parts that I was unfamiliar with until today) then you would understand why Blackwater is a main winner in the ending of Democracy and becoming a Libertarian world. They use the PC tem: GLO insurance companies will be sort of like governments. Can we call them security GLOs (Government-Like Organizations).

      Serious must read.

  16. different clue

    I have begun reading the Eyal Weizman interview and it will take a long time for slow careful patient reading. But just in the first 3 paragraphs something jumps out at me: Eyal Weizman got Luntzed! He talks about “climate change” whereas the correct word is “global warming”. But Frank Luntz got the whole world to say “climate change” instead of saying “global warming.” So Weizman can display his brilliantly verbose intellectuality with plays on the word and meaning and history and uses of “climate change”. ( He can also show off what a brilliant intellectual he is by using smart-mouth intellectual words like ‘telos’ and ‘nomos’. Where is George Wallace when we need him? Wallace would kick Weizman’s pointy-headed ass all over the street with ‘telos’ and ‘nomos’. But I digress . . . .)

    So I will read the rest of the interview before saying anything more.

  17. rich

    Slumlord – How Warren Buffet’s Clayton Homes Intentionally Targets & Preys Upon Minorities and Poor People

    Michael Krieger | Posted Saturday Dec 26, 2015

    It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

    – Warren Buffett

    He walked them through Clayton-built homes on the lot, then into the sales center, passing a banner and posters promoting one subprime lender: Vanderbilt Mortgage, a Clayton subsidiary. Inside, he handed them a Vanderbilt sales pamphlet.

    “Vanderbilt is the only one that finances on the reservation,” he told the women.

    His claim, which the women caught on tape, was a lie. And it was illegal.

    In minority communities, Clayton’s grip on the lending market verges on monopolistic: Last year, according to federal data, Clayton made 72% of the loans to black people who financed mobile homes.

    The company’s in-house lender, Vanderbilt Mortgage, charges minority borrowers substantially higher rates, on average, than their white counterparts. In fact, federal data shows that Vanderbilt typically charges black people who make over $75,000 a year slightly more than white people who make only $35,000.

    Through a spokesperson earlier this month, Buffett declined to discuss racial issues at Clayton Homes, and a reporter who attempted to contact him at his home was turned away by security…

    She continued to raise concerns, writing in an email to Clayton’s director of marketing that when she spoke to new borrowers, “there were many things they were not made aware about during the sale.”

    Managers and executives, she said, dismissed her concerns; she recalled one replying, “It doesn’t really matter as long as we get the money.”

    – From the Buzzfeed article: Warren Buffett’s Company Wants to Sell You a Mobile Home

    Buzzfeed News has just published a hard-hitting, extremely sickening investigative report which shines further light on the shady and unethical practices of Warren Buffett. A man who I have often referred to as the greatest American actor alive for his uncanny ability to convince the general public that he’s just a kind, philanthropic grandfatherly figure, when in reality he is a ruthless, cunning, parasitic loanshark.

    The latest Buffett expose relates to his Berkshire Hathaway owned mobile home company Clayton Homes. I’ve covered this previously, most recent in April’s post, Warren Buffett the Slumlord – Predatory Loans, Kickbacks and Preying on the Poor at Clayton Homes. Here’s an excerpt:

    he’s stumping for sHillary….

    1. edmondo

      I’m sure that the Black Lives Matter people will be all over this at the next Hillary/Buffett campaign event, right? Right?

    2. cwaltz

      Anecdotal, Our household is white and had a 13% interest rate for our mobile home through Vanderbilt. We. of course, were grateful to get the mortgage since we ended up in bankruptcy following the death of our third child. I don’t think he’s willfully picking on minorities, it’s just that minorities are more likely to be poor and as a result have less economic opportunities available. Banks aren’t exactly lining up to finance the people working at Burger Kings(particularly for housing). We’ve since paid for the home. It, once it was paid(10 year loan) for, is largely for our ability to upgrade to what we have now. I tucked away what we paid on our mortgage to help with the downpayment on our home and kept our house cost down to what we paid for our house and lot payments in the early days, when we paid for this home. Through the FHA we were able to get a loan at 3.75% for the home we live in now.

      Warren Buffet may not be providing a perfect solution but he’s far from the problem, which is affordable housing for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It’s still problematic that someone working FULL TIME can bring home a weekly paycheck of around $250 after taxes are taken out. Meanwhile a studio apartment runs around $400(in my region.) So, you end up with a low end rental that is 40% of your income or 12% above what the HUD recommends for reasonable housing related costs. So what exactly are these people supposed to do? One way or another they are paying more for housing then they should. Their wages don’t cover reasonable housing costs even if they don’t use Vanderbilt. At least with Vanderbilt, they have a chance that at the end of walking the financial tightrope that they might own something for the money they spent.

  18. alex morfesis

    Weed saps utilities infrastructure…hmmm…didnt we have something called deindustrialization…did the utlilties tear down the infrastructure and not tell us ?
    How can a bunch of strobe lites compare to a steel factory…?

    1. hunkerdown

      Current LED grow light offerings provide a “sufficient” amount of light while consuming about 200-250W per m² of plant canopy. From the glory days of Usenet about 20 years ago, HID or fluorescent lighting was prescribed at about 400W/m² bulb power, not including considerable ballast or ventilation loss. (Wonder if they’re setting up “pot users = terrorists” when summer driving season comes round and KSA isn’t slaking our thirst?)

      Obviously, legalize outdoor too.

  19. Plenue

    “Vietnam Economic Growth Quickens on Investment, Manufacturing”

    Doesn’t seem to have changed much so far. According to a guy I know who’s been living there for six months, it’s a boring dump filled with rude people who blatantly try to scam you. The abysmal tourist return rates to the country seem to support his view. He can’t wait to get to move to China.

    Not that I begrudge them being jerks. If whittie killed 4 million of my people, I’d hate his kind too.

    1. JTMcPhee

      That was all a part of the seemingly inchoate early phase of “creative destruction” and “demon-cratization” from my young days. The conflict sure cemented the control of the “Communist” Elite over the Mopery, and built a really strong structure of corruption, institutionalized and near perpetual… “them” are not being jerks, across the board, but they have their Massas too, and neoliberalism out the ying and yang… Mea maxima culpa for swallowing the idiot noise of the Boy Scout Law and Oath, and

      When I think back
      On all the crap I learned in high school
      It’s a wonder
      I can think at all
      And though my lack of education
      Hasn’t hurt me none
      I can read the writing on the wall

      Momma don’t take my Kodachrome away…

  20. Plenue

    Syria has already been ‘solved’. It was solved within a week of Russia’s intervention. Their goal was to prevent the collapse of the Syrian state and government. They’ve already accomplished that, now it’s just about slowly expanding the territory that government has control of. The rebels are a broken mess, and only grow weaker with each passing day. ISIS is being hit hard, and once Aleppo is retaken will be quickly kicked out of the empty eastern half of the country. After that, who knows what the future holds. Syria is a sideshow for ISIS, the real fight is in Iraq. If Russia gets involved there (at the invitation of the Iraqi government) I expect that they will be in for a truly long and slow fight. But the Syrian theater is a forgone conclusion. The West can blather all it wants about peace talks, and Al Jazeera can keep having front page stories like “Syrian rebel commander’s death imperils peace process”, but the solution to this crisis is at the end of a Russian gun. Washington and the Gulf States are just going to have to come to terms with the reality that they’ve lost this one, and they aren’t going to come away with some compromise that gives them even a little of what they want.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Why does that not sound at all like the Game of Risk! ™ level of analysis that was applied by prior imperial armies to the “solution” of insurgencies and civil wars and all in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan? Not betting that Russian guns are going to be any better at re-installing a damaged oppressive central government than any of our or old-Soviet ventures. Though the Russian military people seem a lot more disciplined and aware and actually interested in a military victory, a notion that is something between a miasma and a myth… and which our own military studiously declines to define as an entity…

      Conflict is the game, not some boolsheet “peace process,” conflict with lots of wealth and weapons moving about unaccountably, immense corruption and dislocation, idiotic simplification of the relations of the players, incompetence rewarded with medals and promotions, fraud, fraud, fraud…

      1. Plenue

        Except this situation is very different from any of our mid-east ventures, or the Soviet Unions entry into Afghanistan. Like I said, Russia’s already won. Their primary goal was to prevent the fall of the Syrian government, and they accomplished that months ago. And they aren’t ‘re-installing’ anything. 86% of the population of Syria remains in government controlled territory. Assad was and remains the legitimate ruler of the country, with a lot of genuine popular support, even among people who don’t much like him. He is simply worlds better than the chaos the other sides offer.

  21. ewmayer

    Re. “Remind me again why the Fed raised rates?” — because they should have started doing so 3-4 years ago but they always wait too long and then make such moves at precisely the wrong moment? That’s what happens when you take your marching orders from Wall Street.

    Re. 2015 Lists, here’s another interesting one: The most successful crowdfunding campaigns of 2015 | Sydney Morning Herald [MST3K – yay!]

  22. Brooklin Bridge

    HuffPo has a splash entitled, “Rage At Ryan.” The so called rage is from Rethugs because Ryan supposedly went along with the spending bill without getting more concessions.

    This is noise to deflect from the fact that so there were so many give aways to the rich, particularly by Democrats.

    Everyone is hitting tin cans and whistling as loudly as they can.

  23. ewmayer

    Re. “What really happened to the U.S. train-and-equip program in Syria? | McClatchy” — For once I agree with the Turks:

    Officials in the office of the Turkish prime minister and the Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. A Turkish security official who spoke only anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to speak for publication did not comment specifically on the allegation of tension between Turkish and American trainers but he made clear that Turkish officials were skeptical of the program. “The Americans live in a fictive world,” he said.

    The very next snip contains a example of that fantasy-world thinking:

    U.S. officials responded to several questions about the program but were reluctant to discuss trainees’ alleged discontent.

    “These are all good questions,” said a defense official who also wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. “All I can say is that we work with thousands of Arabs” through a new Arab-Kurdish alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Syrian Arabs “are very supportive and fighting alongside the SDF daily.”

    Not even gonna dignify the “People’s Front of Judea”-esque fantasy team naming with my bolding, but the deeper “fictive world” aspect of the above snip – which the McClatchy piece dutifully fails to mention – is that the Kurds in the above fictive alliance (whose falsity the rest of the article describes at length) are the very real ones which the U.S.’s fictive ally Turkey is really bombing almost every day under the pretext of the “joint U.S.-Turkey alliance to combat the Islamic State.”

    1. JTMcPhee

      A little peek into the world of “train and equip and paramilitary CIA funsies:”

      “First In: An Insider’s Account of How The CIA Spearheaded The War on Terror in Afghanistan,” by Gary Schroen. The CIA official review:

      Lots of clues about what is so terribly wrong with the whole Game… and why it’s unlikely that short of meltdown, anything is going to ever get any better for the average mope…

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