2:00PM Water Cooler 1/05/2016


“Just Because Australia Won Its Plain Packaging Case Against Philip Morris Doesn’t Mean Corporate Sovereignty Isn’t A Threat” [TechDirt].

“The Chilean government announced that it would sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) in February in New Zealand” [Fresh Plaza]. “For this purpose, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heraldo Munoz, will travel to New Zealand to complete the processing of an arrangement that involves 12 countries, including the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Peru.”

“The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said it will support the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was finalized in October after more than five years of negotiations” [The Hill].

“Canada and many other countries wanted to ensure that the lens promoted maintaining a balance between rights holders and users on all IP provisions. The exclusion from the objectives provision sets the tone for the IP chapter and highlights how user interests and the priorities of countries such as Canada were given limited weight within the final text” [Michael Geist]. First in a series of posts. About Geist, Boing Boing has this to say: ” Michael Geist has rung in the new year with the first in a series of posts that set out, in eye-watering detail, the bowel-loosening terror of the effects that the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership would have on Canada if the country ratifies it.”

“One of the biggest problems for deal advocates is timing: the Obama administration initially planned to send the deal to Capitol Hill for a vote in the spring or summer of 2016. But there’s one big vote of no confidence on this election-year plan: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in December that the deal is unlikely to come before Congress prior to the election. But new Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was a big ally to the White House in pushing fast-track trade promotion authority and could help Presdient Barack Obama if he supports TPP (which is now unclear). The agreement is complicated by the fact that several leading presidential contenders oppose it, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. I dunno. I thought that domestic politics in both the U.S., Japan, and Malaysia would make signing the deal difficult. They did, but in retrospect the correllation of forces included international relations invisible to me, and Obama showed impressive determination to muscle the deal through, ka-ching; the man can get the job done when he wants to.

“In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offer a snapshot of some of the reasons the TPP has become so divisive entering an election year. … As a center for international trade, Philadelphia stands to benefit from a deal that provides easier access to global markets. … In Pittsburgh, however, where Mayor Bill Peduto faces reelection in 2017, the TPP could cripple the city’s already unstable steel industry” [Philadelphia Voice]. As if the TPP were a trade deal….



“Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says ‘let’s be clear’: proposal to reinstate Glass-Steagall, ‘introduced by my colleague Senator Elizabeth Warren, aims at the heart of the shadow banking system;” [Bloomberg].

“Clinton and Summers are wrong on Sanders’s Glass-Steagall proposal” [The Hill]. Nice explainer. And “Clinton campaign launches preemptive strike on Sanders Wall Street plan” [The Hill]. Can’t the Clinton campaign even wait for Sanders to release his proposal before lying about it?

Saudis sign with Podesta Group for PR, and boy howdy, do they need some [The Intercept]. “The Podesta Group is a lobbying firm founded by Tony Podesta, a major fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.” Well, I’m sure a Clinton administration would not let that affect their Middle East policy in any way. I crack myself up sometimes!

The Voters

“Americans say their own government was the nation’s biggest problem in 2015, according to Gallup, though the number giving that response has dropped slightly” [The Hill]. And Obama hasn’t changed that, obviously. Why would that be?

“Fully 7-in-10 (70%) Americans say that the world’s climate is undergoing a change leading to more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise, including 41% who call climate change a very serious problem” [Monmouth Poll].

“Trust the state polls” [FiveThirtyEight]. That means Cruz (Iowa) and Christie (New Hampshire), not Trump.

The Trail

Missed this one from Nooners: “I have not seen a political cycle so confounding in my lifetime, and it could continue into a year of the most historic kind. If you love politics—the excitement, the unknowability, the to-and-fro—this is the year for you” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, “Will the New Year’s Tumult Trump the Old?”]. “We could see a great party split in two. That, I think, is what I’m seeing among the Republicans, a slow-motion break.”

“Bill Clinton Is to Campaign in Iowa” [New York Times]. So if you want a dynasty, vote for it. It couldn’t be more clear.

“But despite his outward displays of his belief, Cruz, the favorite in Iowa, is facing a whisper campaign of sorts from his Republican opponents: He’s Christian, but not Christian enough” [CNN]. Fighting breaks out among the Pharisees….

“G.O.P. Presidential Hopefuls Gird for a Month of Mud-Flinging” [New York Times]. Should be fun!

Stats Watch

Gallup US Economic Confidence Indicator, December 2015: ” December’s economic confidence index averaged minus 11 in December, slightly better than averages from July through November. Confidence was a bit lower in December than in early 2015, but better than it’s been for most of the time since 2008″ [Econoday]. “39 percent of Americans [say] the economy is ‘getting better’ and 57 percent saying it is ‘getting worse.'” Where the heck is that darn punch bowll? Did Janet donate it to Goodwill or something?

Motor Vehicle Sales, December 2015: Within consensus [Econoday].

“Who is Driving the Recent Decline in Consumer Inflation Expectations?” [Liberty Street]. “[T]he recent decline in inflation expectations is fairly homogenous across demographic groups.” Interesting to see “who” in the headline, and not “what.” But what did Janet do with that punch bowl? Maybe she accidentally put it out in the driveway for the yard sale?

Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth drops off a cliff (well below mainstream consensus) [Center for Quantitative Research].

“The U.S. Justice Department has sued Volkswagen for up to $90 billion for allegedly violating environmental laws – five times regulators’ initial estimate and a reminder of the carmaker’s problems nearly four months after its emissions scandal broke” [Reuters]. No executives going to jail, of course.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 (0); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“Senior city lawyer quits after judge rules he hid evidence in fatal police shooting ” [Chicago Tribune].

“[Illinois squillionaire and Governor Bruce] Rauner told reporters he would sign a bill allowing Chicago voters to recall their mayor from office if it reaches his desk” [Chicago Sun-Times]. That crunching sound you heard was the bus driving over Rahm.


“Scott Slater [CEO of Cadiz Inc] has a plan. It is not a popular plan, but he wants to pump 814bn gallons of water from under the Mojave desert to Los Angeles and other drought-stricken communities in southern California, and make more than $2bn (£1.3bn) doing so” [Guardian]. Maybe Slater and that Shkreli dude could get together? It sounds like they have a lot in common.

“Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder said he was sorry for Flint’s lead in water crisis” [MLive]. “Now, he must decide whether the situation amounts to a man-made disaster, created while the city was being run by emergency managers that he appointed.”


“Since October, [Sempra’s Porter Ranch gas] leak has spewed at least 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to 200,000 vehicles driving for a year, said Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board” [Bloomberg]. “‘I put my life savings into this home because it’s behind gates, and I felt safe there,’ Hemmis said. ‘I don’t anymore.'”

Militia Watch

“The White House on Monday referred to an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon as a ‘local law enforcement matter'” [The Hill]. Occupy BFE is kinda self-cancelling tactically, isn’t it? Starve ’em out, including starving ’em of publicity (which not even Cruz seems willing to give them).

“10 other federal government stand-offs like the one in Oregon” [WaPo].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The secrets the world’s top experts use to make really good predictions” [WaPo]. Sounds interesting, until we get to this:

The Good Judgment Project competed as one of five teams in a forecasting tournament sponsored by American intelligence agencies, who funded the competition in an effort to learn how to make better predictions after the intelligence failures in 2006, when the United States invaded Iraq believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

No, no, no, no, no. The United States did no such thing. It did not invade Iraq “believing” that Saddam had WMDS; see the Downing Street Memo: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Call me crazy, but I’d say that “Good Judgment” starts with not lying to yourself. Or others. Not so easy as it sounds, I know, but still.

Class Warfare

“‘Horrific’ Construction Revealed in Texas Post-Christmas Tornado Damage Survey” [Weather]. Reader ambrit comments:

I caught this because I have worked on just such kinds of job. This cheapening out of construction in public buildings is all too common. I have only seen proper Quality Control on some large jobs, and Federal Projects. Most mid and small level projects were, even twenty years ago, run on a primitive ‘honour system.’ The picture showing the base plate bolted to the slab with nails sticking up where the studs had been “connected” will bring a frisson of fear to any good carpenter.

At some point, I would think the curves of weirder and weirder weather, and crappier and crappier construction, would have to intersect, in a bad way. Have others noticed what ambrit has?

“[P]eople in more economically unequal societies live shorter lives. What was startling was that this was true even for the rich” [Yes!].

“The children of the affluent are becoming increasingly troubled, reckless, and self-destructive” [Reuters]. And the solution is quite simple…

“In some circumstances, even wealth created in a non-zero-sum way has the practical effect of making the poor poorer” [Inc]. On Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Graham.

News of the Wired

I’ll just leave this here: “The CEO of Google’s £400 million AI startup is going to meet with tech leaders to discuss ethics” [Business Insider].

“[A] fresh wave of automation would at least give us the opportunity to leave the robotic jobs to the robots, and find more fulfilling work for humans to do” [FT, “Leave robotic jobs to robots and improve humans’ lives”]. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Then again, suppose robots solve the servant problem for elites in a severely depopupulated world. Eh?

“PayPal, Square and big banking’s war on the sex industry” [Engadget]. Of course, if they were selling guns instead of pr0n, everything would be jake.

“The Developer Formerly Known as FreeBSDGirl” [Randi.io]. Ugh.

“Across the USA by Train for Just $213” [Stumbleupon (Paul Tioxon]. If Amtrak WiFI was reliable the whole way, I’d try the digital nomad route. And if one must cut ties to a physical dwelling, Amtrak might beat a Winnebago….

“Pranav Dhanawade: 15-year-old schoolboy becomes first batsman to score over 1,000 runs” [Independent]. “Mumbai school cricket is notoriously competitive.”

“In its most recent MacBook redesign, Apple took the bold step of abandoning the [breakaway] MagSafe charging cable in favor of a more standard USB-C design. MagSafe, the fancy name for the magnetic cables that MacBook users have become familiar with since their 2006 debut, were largely beloved and often considered a defining feature of Apple’s notebooks” [Daily Dot]. The Cook and Ive regime continues its slow and stealthy crapification of the Mac. I can’t tell you how often I’ve tripped on a power cord and thanked Apple because because the MagSafe plug pulled loose, and my laptop didn’t end up on the floor with a cracked screen or worse. Over my life as a Mac owner, the MagSafe could literally have saved me thousands of dollars and untold agony. Now that functionality has been pencilled out by some MBA or, worse, some goateed iOS designer who types with their thumbs. It’s still too much to say that Apple is running on brand fumes, but what’s wrong with these people? Oh, and read this, too, if you haven’t already. Crapification is never “bold.”

* * *

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 (PP):

Fisher Pond Trail

Yet another inviting path (Fisher Pond Trail).

Also, I’m a bit short on winter plants. In fact, plants in general! Readers?

* * *

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 a very unhappy plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. Andrew Watts

    RE: “The White House on Monday referred to an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon as a ‘local law enforcement matter’”

    Aww! So no airstrikes for the Cowliphate after all? Wait a minute… we can’t call in an airstrike. They have dozens of cute stuffed animals being used as human shields in the gift shop!


          1. Andrew Watts

            The Wildlife Protection Units and Democratic Forces of Oregon are organizing local ducks and geese to resist the yeehadis onslaught. Supreme Commander Quackers calls upon his mammal brothers and sisters to oppose the evil Cowliphate.

            On second thought they might be gathering together for the warmth and complaining about how cold it is. I don’t actually know. Don’t speak the language.

          1. Andrew Watts

            I don’t think anybody has tried to file a trademark for it. Any person who does is obviously a terrorist sympathizer. We cannot negotiate with terrorists!

          2. Carolinian

            Turns out Hammond, not just Bundy, really is a Yeehawdi.

            In an affidavit, Earl M. Kisler, a Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officer, said that rancher Dwight Hammond had repeatedly threatened refuge officials with violence over an eight year period. On one occasion Hammond told the manager of the federal refuge that “he was going to tear his head off and shit down his neck.”

            According to the affidavit, Hammond threated to kill refuge manager Forrest Cameron and assistant manager Dan Walsworth and claimed he was ready to die over a fence line that the refuge wanted to construct to keep his cows out of a marsh and wetland.

            This incident, and report, is from the 1990s. But seems the rancher and his son may not be quite so victimized after all.


            1. ambrit

              Awwww… There go our cherished illusions! Someone elsewhere mentioned that this entire area might rightly belong to the Paiute Indian Nation.

                1. bob

                  Cowboy hats too. It’s always been how you tell who the good guys are.

                  Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond the white hat good, black hat bad days.

                  Any white guy in hat is good now. Doesn’t matter the color.

            1. ambrit

              When it’s ‘snark’ or blind inchoate rage, I’ll choose ‘snark,’ The alternative is to put your life on the line for a principle or two, and maybe some neighbours as well.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Sorry to take you seriously, but that claim by the White House is flat out wrong; as I posted below, it’s Federal land so it’s the FBI’s problem – as they’ve announced.

      I was actually shocked to see this: how could they get it so wrong?

      1. ambrit

        “They” want to get it wrong. I met and talked to someone who had been at the Storming of Waco. Even the FBI knows a Fubar in the making when they see one.

    2. Dave

      I laughed at those yahoos too until I read about the back ground of the event. I recommend everyone who is concerned about prosecutorial abuse and corruption do so as well. There is an interesting connection between the Netflix documentary
      “Making a Murder” and what happened over the last twenty years around this ranch in Oregon.

      This is a silly looking website, but they have a great timeline of what led up to the so called “standoff”.


      1. Darthbobber

        The article is less persuasive if one takes account of a few facts they don’t mention.
        1) I don’t know whether its “rare” for the feds to be appealing sentences issued by federal judges in Oregon specifically, but if it is it would be because the Federal trial judges in Oregon don’t normally disregard the congressionally mandated minimum sentences. When a trial judge does do that, the Feds virtually ALWAYS appeal. They also virtually always win. So this is nothing at all unusual. Its the norm.

        2)As to the effort at a hatchet job on Marshall, one fails to see the relevance of whether she attended a party at Grace Slick’s house or hung out backstage at Dead shows to her recommendation that they file an appeal they were virtually certain to win. (And note that the Circuit Court agreed with the government. Are they also uniformly commune-livin’, dead show goin’ lib’rul moonbat ne’er do wells?)
        Or did they simply follow ample precedent on the question of whether a 5 year mandatory minimum for arson falls afoul of the ban on cruel and unusual punishment?

        Their take on the Hammond grandkid’s mental health simply takes the defense’s version at face value. Whatever the trial judge may have said about the reliability of the lad’s memory of events when he was 13, the young man was NOT ruled incompetent to testify, and questions of FACT are the province of the jury, not the judge. They also fail to mention that while he was a witness to the feds claim regarding motive he was not the only one.

        3)It is also not true that going about burns the way they apparently did is just the norm for ranchers. The norm is to report in advance that you’re planning to do this, so that people can be ready to respond if something goes wrong. They not only didn’t do that with the proper authorities, but the second one took place at a time when they knew perfectly well there was a temporary BAN on fires due to an unusually high threat of wildfire.

        Nor do they bother to mention the various past affidavits claiming violent threats by the senior Hammond against BLM personnel dating back to the 90s.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I do think that’s a parody account:

        But then the line between parody and reality seems just a little fuzzy these days. Could this be an official Chinese response to a parody posting?

        I hadn’t thought that official Chinese humor was quite that dry…

  2. George Phillies

    ” The agreement is complicated by the fact that several leading presidential contenders oppose it, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas” ”

    It seems to be a pretty good bet, unless the Libertarian Party wins, that one of these people will be our next President. Having more or less all of the plausible contenders (plus several of their competitors) against the agreement says that it is a waste of effort to ram through the proposal through Congress, assuming it can be made to pass when the lead candidates are against it. They can just repudiate it when they are elected, just as President Carter repudiated our mutual defense treaty with the Republic of China. The strongest reason to suppose it may pass the Senate is that Ted Cruz is against it.

        1. polecat

          They’re just shitting on us,…and not even pretending to call it anything other than shit…

          1. polecat

            Also…Richard Fisher-Former Dallas Federal Reserve Pres…..We frontrunned some folks, just not YOU………

  3. Brian

    “I have not seen a political cycle so confounding in my lifetime, and it could continue into a year of the most historic kind. If you love politics—the excrement, the unknowability, the to-and-fro—this is the year for you”
    fixed the intent of the nice lady that drinks her lunch

    1. Jim Haygood

      This is the journo’s version of the old broadcast wheeze, “Don’t touch your dial.”

      Actually, this election will be just like every election for the past 150 years: a well-vetted status quo Depublicrat will win it for the War Party.

      It’s the R party’s “turn” in the 8-year rotation, with about 90% probability. Now you can go to sleep for ten months, without needing to read the WSJ or the NYT.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I could believe you, if there were a plausible Republican candidate. I mean, Cruz, after the Republican establishment finally bestirs itself to nobble Trump? Maybe they’ll bring the Mittster in off the bench?

        On another note, if the Republicans actually did split, dollars to donuts the Democrats would see that as a chance to move even further right….

  4. different clue

    Wait . . . I thought the natgas leak in California was spewing METHane into the air. Was I wrong? Because if it is METHane, then that is equivalent to the CO2 from 200 MILLion cars, not 200 THOUsand cars.

    Hemmis must be among the merely barely-sorta upper class. The tippy toppest Overclass protect themselves with more than just gates. And Global Megadeath Warming is what they hope for in hopes they can survive it, ride it out, and inherit a New Earth with nobody left but themselves.

    1. craazyboy

      IIRC, methane is 100X times the GW effect of CO2. But silver lining – the leak is in the Laguna Beach general area and spewing rotten egg smell into some rich people’s air. Warren Buffet has a not so little retreat in Laguna Beach too. That should put the heat on PG&E to get it fixed.

    2. ewmayer

      No, you are correct, and as the article clearly states everywhere else, the leak is of methane, the 90%-dominant component of natural gas. CARB spokesman Clegern seems to have had a slip of the tongue, and no copy editor caught the mistake. I can’t vouch for the number-of-car-equivalent-numbers – perhaps the 200,000 figure was computed using methane’s GG numbers. But in terms of such estimates, note that a recent Reuters piece stated the leak was responsible for roughly 1/4th of CA’s statewide methane emissions. That would seem to point in the direction of your many-millions-of-cars revision.

      1. ewmayer

        A bit of quick-estimation math I should not have been too !$^@ lazy to do earlier: Figure an average car uses ~1 gal gas per day, ~90% of which is carbon … thus ~2500 lbs C per year. Each C atom gets burned to a CO2 molecule which has (12+2*16)/12 = 11/3 or roughly 4x the mass, thus ~10000 lb CO2 ~= 4.5 metric tons per car per year, hence 200,000 cars emit ~1 million metric tons CO2 per year, within 2x the 1.6 million cited by the article, close enough to infer that they really did use CO2 for their greenhouse-impacts number.

        According to Wikipedia, “The 100-year global warming potential of methane is 29[1] (i.e., over a 100-year period, it traps 29 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide and 32 times the effect when accounted for aerosol interactions.[2]).” According to the same article, CH4 has 100x the greenhouse activity of CO2 molecule-for-molecule, but does not persist as CO2 does, hence the lower activity ratio when extrapolated to a century. Anyhoo, call it 30x, thus te leak is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of ~6 million cars.

  5. alex morfesis

    2016…el “Donaldo” Burlesque-ownee probably can’t believe he is in front…but since the pre-Publikan party has no other real candidates it will present…he will find himself with the nomination…TINA…

    the canadian cuban trying to do a george romney (some1 please get him a makeup artist who does not make him look like jack in 1 flew over the…)

    a standing senator who insists at age 15/16 he was too naive to notice his sister was married to a cocaine cowboy in miami…cause every 1 has their brother in law grooming pet lions and giraffes…its miami…no cubans involved in the nose candy factory business…

    Carlee( no not simon) cause the dems have a womanz and we got 1 too…

    Louis Cristillo the 3rd from Joy-zee

    A black guy who is not the son of a former driver for a fortune 500 executive…cause they got one
    and we gotta got one too…

    so el donaldo burlesque-ownee gets the coronation by default…

    and then he runs against BiLLary cause the demz klownz that be are NoT gonna let Bernardo get the nod…

    & the more Bill gets involved in the campaign, the more people will realize…wait…she is as boring
    and useful as a rain soaked couch at the side of the road…

    having Bill speak and her try to follow will only make her look duller than she really is…

    Jimmy Carter and his govt allocated monopoly peanut farm came out of “nowhere”

    ronnie raygun (but not john lennon…btw…how did oh no joke-oh not have any blood on her…did she not cry over him ?) survived the vision of a world that was to change with flying lead (100 days apart)…but TR got to be prez by bullet and Wilson got there because TR split the votes and Truman got his moment because the secret service left FDR alone in a room with a white russian nazi sympathizer “doing” his portrait…Ike was a republican since Adlai (its my turn) would not let him run as a democrat…JFK won since Ike & eleanore fought to prevent Nixon from winning(tricky stole Cali like JFK stole IL)…LBJ refused to allow a little thing like Bobby Bakers testimony remove him from the Vice Presidency so the turkey shoot happened(et tu brutal)…nixon found himself without a kennedy running against him after all…and Perot made sure the other Yalee got to carry the scepter for 8 yrs…

    so…stranger things have happened than finding El Donaldo Burlesque-ownee doing his version of Biff from Back to the Future…

    the mexicans wont build a wall…and SISI…I mean ISIS will probably be found to be a video game simulation since no one has actually photographed or videotaped more than 50 of them gathered together at any one time…maybe El Donaldo will send off the fake hollywood gangs like the krypz and bloods and latin queens to take them on and balance the budget by syndicating the programming on TeleUndo and CCCP-12…

    and the beat goes on…

  6. PQS

    Re: Construction (Lack of) Details

    Up here in the PNW we have tons of inspectors and detailed plan review. Yes, it can be galling and infuriating, but the idea is to prevent this kind of insanity. We’re in earthquake country, so holddowns are very common. I’ve seen ghastly problems like the ones in the video, but only in 25-30 year old buildings. (Or much older ones where there simply were no regulations). Of course, up here we have lots of water intrusion rot, which gets exposed during remodels and must be repaired, typically under the direction of an insurance claim.

    I also haven’t heard of an “honor system” for construction review. People I know who’ve worked on school jobs have described tortuous layers of construction field review: the School District hires some kind of heavy duty engineering/arch firm for day-to-day CM, often in addition to the architect of record. This review firm then also hires some more oversight in the field. Plus the SD itself typically has a construction manager, mostly to review paperwork and budgets. I can’t imagine someone (unless on the take, which I’ve never heard of) simply letting this kind of thing go.

    Of course, costs up here are much, much higher than Texas. Plus, Texas (wow, they sure hate gubmint) doesn’t even require any kind of certification for contractor’s licensing. Just call yourself that and pay the fee. Boom! You’re a contractor.

    Lambert, the intersection of weird weather and crappy construction is the Insurance Industry. They may start demanding a LOT more oversight during construction before they will insure a building….now this isn’t a big deal for a single homeowner, but a public agency has a LOT of buildings to insure….you get the picture.

    1. diptherio

      Just call yourself that and pay the fee. Boom! You’re a contractor.

      That’s how it works in Montana too. And I’m pretty sure the fees just go to administer the program–a perfect self-licking ice cream cone!

    2. GlobalMisanthrope

      I should have mentioned in my post below that I am in Austin, Texas. And, although we also have a detailed (Byzantine and arbitrary) plan review and an army of inspectors, nevertheless that 1.2M piece of crap got built. And fast.

    3. Jess

      Same thing here in CA. Standards for school construction are particularly stringent and everything gets checked and inspected and signed-off on by inspectors. Home construction is similarly exacting. One construction manager I know said that our residential buildings, “now have so much metal (meaning hold-downs, metal strapping, engineered metal shear panels, etc.) in them that they shine.”

      1. Dave

        All public school construction is under the purview of the California State Architect, not local school districts, building review or planning departments. That’s because of the Field Act, passed in the 1930s that revealed shoddy school construction after the Long Beach Earthquake which fortunately hit when school was not in session. Today, two dissimilar earthquake faults were discovered to be connected under San Francisco Bay, raising the potential for a much larger earthquake there.

        Yes, could all you Midwestern chickens please leave now? We need the housing.

    4. Dave

      Minimal lumber use based on engineering theory, the employment of cheap foreign labor instead of skilled carpenters, staple and nail guns instead of hand nailing, the crapification of products, it all gets revealed by a storm.

      Many contractors find the replacement of American carpenters with unskilled, or semi skilled day laborers from Central America to be their biggest money saver. Most of New Orleans was rebuilt after Katrina by imported labor.

      Just drive by a construction site near where you live and see who is doing the work. Where do you think the homeless males come from? Formerly employed Americans working in the trades, now made expendable by politicians’ decisions.

      1. Jess

        Using staples where you should use nails is obviously not to be condoned, but nail and staple guns are not a problem if used properly. Studs, rafter, plates, and shear paneling are all just as sturdy and securely nailed using a nail gun as they are hand-driven. And staples are fine for thin materials such as vapor barriers, tar paper, etc.

      2. Daniel

        I can’t vouch for all those “foreign, unskilled” construction workers, but I can vouch for a few. A long-time good friend is a general contractor and builds custom houses in Silicon Valley. All his work crew are immigrants from Mexico or Central America. He teaches them the right way to do things. They are highly motivated and are hard workers. And they are not whiney. These are all characteristics not shared by the few native white guys that come into the trades these days. He much prefers hiring the hispanic immigrant guys over the white guys because the white guys are whiney and cut corners. (Note: he is about as much a white guy as they come.)

        One more thing: he teaches these guys about the culture too as they want to buy affordable cars and trucks, they want to buy a house, they want their kids to go to good schools, they want a nice home life. Also, they are proud of their work and they want their work to please the boss and to please the inspectors. (These houses get a lot of inspection by the county building inspectors.)

        1. OIFVet

          How dare they whine! Call the Pinkertons immigrant replacements!

          I love how you emphasize your friend’s whiteness. The plantation owners and robber barons were as white as they come, too. But he does sound like a swell guy.

          BTW, I am an immigrant. I have nothing against immigrants. What I am against is using immigrants to drive down working class wages. The fact is that “whiney” in this context is nothing more than a slur against the rightful resentment of the labor class over the loss of good wage jobs, be it by exporting the jobs or importing cheap replacement labor.

  7. GlobalMisanthrope

    Have others noticed what ambrit has?

    Yes. But I’ll go further and say that competency has simply vanished from the scheme. We were able to watch a new house go up around the corner from us (we rent in a neighborhood with houses going for around 1M). It sold for 1.2M. We were shocked at what we saw. Even the finished and sold house had obvious flaws visible from the street. Meaning no one—not the workers, not the sub-contractors, not the contractor/builder, not the inspectors, not the real estate agent, not the buyer—noticed or cared.

    I asked a neighbor who’s a real estate broker about it he said something like, “Yeah, it’s almost impossible to find good contractors and crews these days. That’s why I always try to use the same guy. He’s not great, but he’s honest and I’ve learned what to look for.”

    What accounts for this?

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        Your comments make sense. I see all kinds of terrible incentives to cut corners everywhere I look. But how do we account for the buyer?

        1. diptherio

          When it’s all crappy, whatcha’ gonna do?

          And the RE agent probably told them it was just cosmetic, nothing to worry about, a cheap fix, etc. Most people don’t have a clue about this stuff, so they’re easy to manipulate.

        2. bob

          They’re buying location. RE agents know this, and so do the developers and builders.

          The price of the house has no relation at all to the cost of building it.

          Find some land near some 800k houses*, build something “comparable” for 250k and ride away into the sunset.

          *ability to buy zoning laws, sewer and water boards required. But don’t worry, no one pays any attention to that stuff until the costs show up 10-15 years in. IBGIBR (I’l be gone, I’ll be rich)

    1. PQS

      Homebuilding isn’t the topline of the money in construction. Commercial work is. Skilled labor gravitates to commercial work and prevailing wage jobs.

      Architects used to be very good at QC. Now, nobody wants to pay for this, or for independent QC. Most developer types hire someone to do this, and if they don’t, the bank makes them do it.

      As with every, everything, it’s all about the benjamins.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve been on school jobs in both Louisiana and Mississippi where the Architect did its’ own QC. Even at that level, the old “as long as it stands up for the one year workmanship warranty” gag was half humourously invoked.

      2. bob

        Putting the bank in charge of QC is insane. They have every incentive to get it built to get it sold to someone else, and no incentive, or expertise, to get it built right.

          1. abynormal

            we got TWO sports fields being constructed simultaneously. the baseball field, SunTrust Park, is deadline for opening pitch April 2017…never been done before! one bridge is 9M…i’d laff but too many people i know have to drive thru the toothpicks. http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/smyrna-vinings/2015/03/03/braves-stadium-billion/24336351/

            ADD an extra 1.2B highway ‘re’constructing surrounding the SunTust field http://www.fuquadevelopment.com/files/atlanta/021115-suntrustparkbrochure.pdf

            i’ve counted the cranes and for all the rain, heavy lifts and hours total, i’ve yet to see one manitowoc with a dragline….i know where i won’t be on deadline day…i don’t do Train Wrecks.

            1. bob

              That’s the only “infrastructure work” that’s happening these days- a stadium for a privately owned baseball team and the road work to rehab the damage they are doing while building it.


              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I’m reading that the St Louis Rams hope to decamp to Los Angeles. The “city fathers,” including — love the name — Mayor Slay, having failed to keep them in town by offering to build a stadium for them, now plan to go ahead and build the stadium anyhow, ka-ching. Please, St Louis readers, tell me I’m getting the crazy wrong, here.

    2. John

      IBG, YBG. I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone. Fly by night sleazebag American business ethics. Take the money and run. Skim your fee, by the time it goes bad, you’ll be gone.

    3. Stephen Gardner

      What accounts for this?
      Answer: seeing mindless and continuous cost cutting as a virtue instead of a flaw in our economic system. You cannot reliably cut costs every year, year after year without cutting away bone. True cost cuts come from increases in productivity not executive diktats. Ecce late stage capitalism. Ain’t pretty is it.

      By the way, as I type these words I’m sitting just a few miles from the tornado’s zone of destruction. I’m starting to see local news talk about shoddy construction. Hopefully people will start to get it.

  8. Steven D.

    If it’s Christie, I may have to change my mind about Hillary. The thought of that “tough talking,” manipulative, scheming, lying, sanctimonious bully being able to call himself president is more than I can bear.

    1. Eureka Springs

      manipulative, scheming, lying, sanctimonious bully

      You are describing Hillary as well.

      1. Carolinian

        I think even I might prefer Hillary to Christie. We’ve already had eight years of one preening peacock–can’t handle another. He’s really awful.

          1. Steven D.

            Of course, since J Yell decided to tank the economy in 2016, the Democrats are going to eat it anyway so hello President Christie.

  9. diptherio

    My work buddy and I have definitely noted shoddy, half-assed construction–but in private houses, since we never work on public jobs. We’ve determined that the whole industry is a racket. Everyone, from the general contractor on down to the grunt laborers* are trying to make as much for as little effort as possible. Ethics are hard to maintain when if you bid high enough to do the job right, somebody else will underbid you and do it crappy. And then you’ll just have no work. So it’s a race to the bottom in construction. The actual craftsmen are fewer and farther between every year, and because they demand to be paid what they’re worth, you usually only find them working for the rich. Your average Joe and/or Jane can no longer afford good quality work and, at any rate, most contractors aren’t even set-up to provide it. Just part of the on-going crapification of everything, I guess.

    *who are all “independent contractors” [hahahaha]

    1. PQS

      Agreed. I do blame Wall Street, though. The banks drove the prices down to the very bottom of the barrel for all aspects of construction, refusing to lend beyond some spreadsheet’s calculation of a price for the work, no matter any other factors, such as location, time of year, or anything else we learned about in “CM” school.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Really? I’ve been in construction for years. I blame the nouveau riche who dont know enough, take the lowest bid and expect the most quality work.

        1. PQS

          Oh yeah. Im coming up on twenty years in this business and Ive lived through at least two major downturns not including the Great Recession.

          Every time a fee percentage gets cut a banker gets his leathery wings.

          1. perpetualWAR

            Just left construction to go to work in the 420 business. Couldn’t be happier.

            I got tired of getting laid off every time the bankers created a credit event

    2. Will

      Yes, absolutely this. I work for an engineering firm that does mostly commercial buildings, and what I see from looking at site observation reports is that there are a lot of places where skilled labor is less common and sloppy work is the order of the day. My guess is that if you plotted it out on a map you’d see the worst problems happening in places where the labor unions have been gutted most thoroughly, but I admit I don’t have the data to back that up. You can race to the bottom a lot faster if you’ve already gotten rid of people’s ability to bargain on the price of their labor, though.

      It’s the same attitude that led to the high-rise fire in Dubai on NYE, only there the critical element was (probably) materials more than labor. Buy the cheapest material you can get away with, get it installed by the cheapest labor you can hire, sprinkle with negligent and/or crooked oversight, sell the resulting mess for as much as you can get away with.

  10. diptherio

    Anybody else see this?

    How LSD Microdosing Became the Hot New Business Trip ~Rolling Stone

    Ken is one of a growing number of professionals who enjoy taking “microdoses” of psychedelics – in his free time and, occasionally, at the office. “I had an epic time,” he says at the end of one such day. “I was making a lot of sales, talking to a lot of people, finding solutions to their technical problems.”


    1. perpetualWAR

      Pretty sad that our modern world forces us to imbibe in the “soma” of your choice to make it through the day.

      1. SumiDreamer

        Hear! Hear! Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooma!
        Whether it’s microdots — or psych meds that kill your ganglia — it’s happening far more than we are being told. Opiods are all the rage! Huxley called this part of the New World cultcha correctly unfortunately.

  11. Pavel

    Agree re the MagSafe connectors on MacBooks. I must trip over mine or otherwise jerk on it 2 or 3 times a week. It has indeed saved me thousands of dollars or at least hours of downtime.

    Now there are rumours that Apple is going to ditch the standard 3.5″ headphone jacks for the proprietary Lightning cable. Crapification continues!

    1. Propertius

      I have a dog, and I telecommute. I cannot count the number oftimes the MagSafe has prevented a canine-induced catastrophe with my superduper MacBook Pro Retina.

      I also cannot fathom the utility of creating an ultra-light notebook (the new Mac Air) that requires 20lbs of specialized dongles to do anything useful.

      It’s analogous to Gordon Bethune’s observation about making a pizza so cheap nobody will eat it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Remember the TI-99? The Timex-Sinclair 1000 and 1500, on which with a cheap tape recorder for storage and 16k of memory and a puny processor I learned something about machine language programming? Dongles and plugins and shitty flat connectors that if you breathed wrong would send you offline and off your chair…

        1. human

          LOL. Don’t forget the black and white telly! Had to keep the windows closed as it seemed that the slightest breeze would disrupt the contraption. That 16k memory module connection was the worst.

    2. JTMcPhee

      How much are the Chinese adaptors for 3.5mm to lightning, again? Fokk Apple and all the rest of it.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ““The White House on Monday referred to an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon as a ‘local law enforcement matter’” [The Hill]”

    That is false. It’s Federal property, so it’s the FBI’s problem. They say so themselves. And yes, it’s the Portland office, with a history of serious problems. Besides which. the Hammonds just went to Federal prison on Federal charges.

    I can’t imagine why the White House would say that; at best it’s bizarrely incompetent.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        White looking.

        A lot of white looking people are mixed, to various degrees.

        And some white people look black, or black looking. It could be advantageous, or not. Like dynastic wealth, or wealth in any perpetual inequality societies, it’s inherited.

        On the other hands, there are some attractive Asian blonds. I think they work hard to look that way….self-made, not inherited.

  13. MikeNY

    I think Nooners must have written that piece before lunch, because it sounds sober and right to me. Now we just need the same thing to happen in the Democratic party.

  14. MLS

    re: state polls. I have heard much the same as well, and I’ll take it a step further: ignore the results in Iowa (since it’s a caucus, not a primary), NH is much better indicator of how sentiment is trending at that point in time. New Hampshire-ites(?) take their role as the first primary very seriously.

  15. Propertius

    Of course, if they were selling guns instead of pr0n, everything would be jake.

    I’m confused, Lambert. I thought guns were an expression of “ammosexuality” ;)

  16. Daryl

    > “I have not seen a political cycle so confounding in my lifetime, and it could continue into a year of the most historic kind. If you love politics—the excitement, the unknowability, the to-and-fro—this is the year for you”

    Just like the scene in Alien where the xenomorph bursts out of that dude’s chest. I’ll be watching on in horror.

    1. Daryl

      Luckily for the moderate Republicans there’s already a party for them — the Democratic party. When they get booted out they can just go and kiss Hillary’s shoes, I’m sure all will be forgiven if they toe the line on those appointment votes.

  17. hunkerdown

    Tognazzini and Norman nailed it to the wall. Would that they had used the term “affordance” (Don Norman) anywhere in the article, as it is loaded in potentially rhetorically useful ways: “Apple can’t afford me a freakin’ bone”

    Cringely’s 2016 Predictions #1, historically 70% or so correct. To start: the beginning of the end of the engineering workstation… in favor of remote desktops in the cloud. Gotta light up the dark fiber somehow, I guess.

  18. Synoia

    Most mid and small level projects were, even twenty years ago, run on a primitive ‘honour system.

    Really? What they skip the inspections regime somehow? The code includes rough framing, and where I live, if one nails or screw incorrectly and don’t use the required brackets, then you will be cited and have to have the job re-inspected until it meets code.

    Best to meet code before the inspection.

    1. ambrit

      I’m not sure of your physical location, but down here in the Gulf South we used to have, and probably still do have, something called a “driveby inspection.” Check out your local inspectors and find out which ones have a partner driving a nearly new BMW, or Navigator. Start digging there, unless he or she is lucky enough to be partnered with a high earner.
      An anecdotal example; on an Elementary School rehab, a woman came out from the Architects office to do a walk through. The General wasn’t aware that this woman was the Lead Architect! So, to the intense delight of us watching, when this General tried some soft soap on the lady, as in, “you don’t have to worry about that, we’ll fix it tomorrow,” the lady rounded on him a ‘tore him a new one.’
      Something like “…don’t you try to blow smoke up my a– buster. I’m the biggest swinging d— on this jobsite. You will have this fixed today or I’ll know why. Got it?” “Yes Maam.”
      That’s when you know the job will be done right. On the other hand, the soft soaping General Sleazeball has slowly, as predicted by Gresham lo these many years ago, driven the honest and upright from the field. If only corruption was its’ own reward.

  19. gerry

    “Then again, suppose robots solve the servant problem for elites in a severely depopupulated world. Eh?”

    I don’t think it’s very satisfying to lord it over a robot. Poor humans will be required to serve as comparison.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I think that would depend on the quality of the simulation. You’re saying, really, that robots can’t perform emotional labor. I’m not sure that’s warranted.

  20. tegnost

    My personal little construction beef is the engineered materials. All of that osb and fiberboard falls apart when wet so if improperly installed it loses structural integrity. Also the new treated lumber dissolves nails that aren’t double coated, but the nails that are double coated don’t look much different than single coated and I’ll be like”I don’t know, nail it off…” In my work carrer it started off tarpaper for vapor barrier so you’d overlap 36″ courses, then tyvek came along in the same dimension (36″), now you’re supposed to wrap with one piece or tape the seams. All those changes are attempts to keep water out, but they also keep vapor in, so you can see the problem, and wrapping the structure is a low paying job that might not seem that important to the installer. The new water disaster in the wings in my little circle is cement board panels, they might not get soft, but cement loves moisture and that stuff is getting put up all over. West coast codes are pretty good, not many electrical supply boxes burst spontaneously into flames anymore except when rodents get at them, circuit breakers are better than fuses, you can’t over fuse a 15 amp circuit, right? But this summer I wired a 15 amp ungrounded outlet into old aluminum wires, and once again, use lots of tape and cross your fingers. Now we look at that and wonder what they were thinking, What is today’s product that will leave future generations scratching their heads, and crossing their fingers? Same house I repiped the shower. The house is from 1950 or so and originally had galvanized pipes, a few remodels ago someone else soldered copper to the galvanized below the tub but not quite in the basement, customer didn’t want to deal and since there was a closet with access to the pipes on the other side of the wall I let it go with the old “you’ll have to deal with that at some point…”. In between my two journeys I was asked to stop over, no water pressure in the bathroom, now the galvanized is being replaced a short 3 months later…

    1. perpetualWAR

      Concrete absorbs alright. Think of all that cultured stone on the sides of homes. In the PNW it looks like sponges during rain storms. That shit is the stupidest product known to man.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘All of that osb and fiberboard falls apart when wet so if improperly installed it loses structural integrity.’

      Exactly. Spent years living in a spec house built in 1930 (not a typo). Even 75 years later, we were still finding and fixing structural flaws and obsolete materials. Cloth wiring insulation, dissolving to dust. *shudders*

      By contrast, our current dwelling was built by a hands-on owner who invited his contractor buddy to live on site for a year, while he drastically overspecified everything from engineered foundation fill to metal roof (no osb or fiberboard). His overbuilding didn’t pay on resale value. But the quality difference from a spec house is like night and day.

      *sighs in relief*

      1. ambrit

        With the structural integrity of ice cream. You know you’re on the wrong job when the lead carpenter tells you to wear a dust mask every time you cut into a structural member. (That glue is bad stuff. I don’t want to huff it in any form.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m sure every town has at least one of these sad sacks; mine does, and yes, the local oligarchy does circle the wagons against them (“collegial”).

      Another indication the Bundy faction isn’t all that serious; poor location for an occupation, no supplies, less-than-ideal poster children for their cause, not enough people care about land use or big gummint, etc.

      Of course, the entire political class — even Ted Cruz — has united against them, which is actually a positive, to me. But not enough to net out positive….

    1. redleg

      A time crunch prevented me from posting on construction and water supply until now.
      Residential structures should withstand wind up to 90 mph or so.
      Water in MI- testing of a public water supply for lead, pre- and post- treatment, is a minimum requirement in every state I’ve worked in. There is no excuse whatsoever in allowing water with that concentration of lead into a public water supply. It is either intentional poisoning or criminally negligent. There is no gray area. In my 7 years of utility construction and 12 in water supply system design I’ve never seen anything so brutally corrupt as this.

  21. different clue

    I once saw a shorter pithier form of the “sometimes I crack myself up” formulation. It goes: ” I crack me up.” Feel free to use if if ever/whenever appropriate.

  22. different clue

    About Volkswagen: no executives going to jail. Well, the executives are in Germany, aren’t they? So their immunity and impunity would say something about Germany and Germany’s neo-colonial attitude to America.

  23. knowbuddhau

    Rats, looks like I missed one of my favorite things: griping about the the crapification of construction. I’ll just chip my 2 cents in anyway.

    The vast majority of what I’ve seen as a house painter has been as described above: everybody’s cutting corners to the point where it’s all cut, not corner. In ’06 I had the displeasure of painting the work of siders who used caulk like 3-year olds use paste. Countless joints where the cut is no where close, so they packed it with caulk and then just wiped their hands on the siding, like a thin film of paint would make it “go away.”

    And this was on a federal job: new construction housing on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Saw 3 or 4 immigration raids in 6 moths. Lots of the other contractors were using guys you could tell were undocumented. On a federal freaking installation (in this case, a former seaplane base), with guard houses and guards with sidearms and everything.

    The buildings we worked on were house-shaped, but I wouldn’t want to call one home.

    So I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I sure as hell was, when I showed up to work (on the last day of August, 2006, iirc), and work wasn’t there. We had been waiting for months for the next big job. Instead, the job just disappeared. Had a helluva time convincing the painting company to cooperate in my unemployment claim.

    It was maybe 2 years later when I found out what happened. The gd general contractor, American Eagle, instead of building 400 houses for USN personnel and families, just kept the money. To add insult to injury, the report calls AE “a politically connected Dallas company.” Somehow the Pentagon “forgave” AE its cost overruns.


    OTOH, I did spend six months painting on the San Juan Island estate of Steve Miller. Even met the great guitarist, helped him move some furniture.

    Our company motto was, “This ain’t no mainland painting company.” Our method was, “Take your time, make it look killer.” And then 9/11 happened and half a dozen of us had out jobs taken away.

    That kinda spoiled me. I don’t last long with people who ask me not to do my best. And that’s most employers. Not interested in busting my a$$ just to make vast quantities of crap.

    But on that same other hand, I’m working for someone whose standards are the first to challenge me since that glorious summer of ’01. Started out office cleaning, now we’re branching into painting. Spent all day cutting & rolling primer on 2 elevator doors and surrounds, then knocking out a stairwell with 22′ ceilings. I just love making innocuous things pointlessly beautiful.

    1. ambrit

      Glad to see you!
      What I don’t understand is how 9/11 deprived you of work. The mechanics of that escape me.
      The sad truth is that; “Good work is it’s own reward.” Get that and a paycheck! You’re doing good.
      On another front; Phyllis and I were checking out the Slidell Goodwill while waiting for a doctors appointment for her, and ran into two legitimate saffron clothed monks. Perhaps Tibetan since they wore quilted jackets and thick wrap around skirts. Nice cats, adjusted to the West but doing their own thing.

  24. Mark Alexander

    I’m a ThinkPad diehard, but the MagSafe is the one feature of my wife’s MacBook that I envy. The rest of the Apple design repels me, though. For example, the flat (“chiclet”) keytops; I hate typing on them. The design looks cleaner than the sculpted keytops on the ThinkPad, but my fingers don’t like the feel.

    Or take the difficulty in replacing basic parts like the optical drive. After my wife’s DVD drive failed, I decided I wasn’t going to risk taking the machine apart, and ended up buying her an external (USB) drive. On my ThinkPad, replacing the drive would take 10 seconds. Of course, the Apple design is, again, is much cleaner — just one barely visible slot for the disc — and I guess that is the point.

    1. weevish

      The sacrifice of sensible design to a purist sense of visual aesthetics goes back quite a ways at Apple. I have an iBook G4 that has one of those completely idiotic slot loading optical drives, presumably because the presence of tiny gaps around a tray offended St. Steve’s tender sensibilities. It decided to eat a CD in such a way that none of the usual software/firmware based methods will extricate it. No mechanical override exists, after all, who could predict that such a needlessly complex mechanism might fail?

      Just one of a fairly long list of reasons I don’t plan to buy any more stuff from Apple.

  25. vidimi

    some goateed iOS designer who types with their thumbs

    that’s an uncharacteristically cringeworthy thing for you to write, lambert. when referring to a goateed iOS designer, the gender-neutral ‘their’ just looks brutally awkward.

Comments are closed.