Links 12/26/16

Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot Smithsonian (original).

Giant cell blob can learn and teach, study shows Science Daily

How JPMorgan could not save Italy’s problem bank Reuters

Restrictions on cash withdrawals may continue beyond Dec 30 Hindustan Times

£4m food crime unit set up over horse meat scandal has still not resulted in any prosecutions The Telegraph

Why the Computing Cloud Will Keep Growing and Growing NYT

Chat is the New Browser Medium. Talking his book, but it may be a good book to talk.


Russia: Focus is on faults, not terror, in plane crash probe US News

Officials Count Around 30,000 War Dead in Afghanistan This Year Voice of America

Aleppo’s Christians Celebrate Christmas and Hope for the Return of Peace Time

Kabila deal hangs by thread after marathon meeting Al Jazeera


Beijing imposes anti-independence rules on Hong Kong deputies to China’s top legislature South China Morning Post

Power surge: Chinese electric car battery maker charges for global market Reuters

China’s giant cow farms polluting the environment with manure and waste Straits Times

Our Famously Free Press

Stunned By Trump, The New York Times Finds Time For Some Soul-Searching Deadline Hollywood (MF). The headline is deceptive. Here are the key paragraphs:

For starters, it’s important to accept that the New York Times has always — or at least for many decades — been a far more editor-driven, and self-conscious, publication than many of those with which it competes. Historically, the Los Angeles Times, where I worked twice, for instance, was a reporter-driven, bottom-up newspaper. Most editors wanted to know, every day, before the first morning meeting: “What are you hearing? What have you got?”

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

We hear about “the narrative” constantly. I had no idea “the narrative” was also internal jargon at The Times [sound of puzzle pieces clicking into place].

War Drums

Back to the Future: From the USSR to the Eurasian Century Pepe Escobar, Sputnik News. Makes an interesting pairing with Don’t Be Putin’s Useful Idiot Politico (by AEI’s “resident scholar [snicker] and director of Russian studies”).

Russia, NATO, Trump: The Shadow World NYRB

World War Three, by Mistake The New Yorker. “Windows for Submarines” is a thing. Who knew?

Don’t Gut America’s Voice and Turn It into Propaganda Foreign Policy. Which is just what the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, just signed by Obama, will do (among other things. On the bright side, a provision supported by Democrats to subject women to the draft was removed).

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Summons U.S. Ambassador in Protest at U.N. Resolution WSJ. Bibi’s been wanting to tear up that big check we wrote him and throw the scraps in our faces, it would seem.

Germany: A nation ‘looks over its shoulder’ FT

Why I Can Feel No Fear Der Spiegel

Trump Transition

Against the Politics of Fear Corey Robin

Poll Finds More Americans Now View Donald Trump Positively WSJ

Trump’s unpopularity threatens to hobble his presidency Politico. Of course, the only candidate whose favorables aren’t underwater is Sanders.

Goldman Sachs, big donors, family ties: Trump sounds a lot like Clinton these days McClatchy

Inside the Trump Organization, the Company That Has Run Trump’s Big World NYT

Inside Trump’s dalliance with Democrats Politico

The Stolen Supreme Court Seat Editorial Board, NYT. Politics ain’t beanbag. Why, one might almost think that the only people Establishment Democrats play hardball with are Democrats are who are not Establishment…

Trump to inherit more than 100 court vacancies, plans to reshape judiciary WaPo

Reform Bill Would Drastically Alter Social Security Benefits Newsweek. Plenty of badness, including means-testing and Chained CPI. Janet Yellen and Barack Obama have supported Chained CPI. Clinton wants means-testing.

When Public Goes Private, as Trump Wants: What Happens? NYRB

Cyber security takes on new urgency for groups targeted by Trump Waging Nonviolence. “We can’t trust Trump with the NSA.”

RNC’s ‘new king’ Christmas message ignites furor over whether it compared Trump to Jesus CNBC. The headline is affirmatively deceptive, in that the RNC message capitalizes the “K” in “King.” See “king,” sense 2, “(initial capital letter) God or Christ.” For pity’s sake.

Jeremy Corbyn: The last comrade The New Statesman

Health Care

Cornerstone: The Rise and Fall of a Health Care Experiment NYT. “Accountable Care Organizations,” which work by capitation, making them rebranded HMOs.

The Quiet War on Medicaid Gene Sperling, NYT

Record level of cancelled urgent operations for NHS England The Telegraph

Unprecedented and Unprincipled Adversary Inside Higher Ed. “PR dressed up as science.”

Class Warfare

The Logical Space of Algocracy (Redux) Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Charles Dickens on Seeing the Poor Conversable Economist

Missing Credentials Overcoming Bias

Facing layoff at Carnival, IT employee makes bold counteroffer ComputerWorld (PT).

Tweetstorm from the heartland:

The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu — how advertising triumphed FT

Here’s to the lost art of lying down Aeon. Literally.

A Season of Consequences The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour (via):


Bonus antidote:

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. Synoia

      Second law of thermodynamics messes up the business case – 50% loss minimum on storing and then producing the energy.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Cite your source. The article discussed hydrogen and fuel cells, but not in any specific, technical way. Your comment is also entirely lacking in real specifics.

        1. craazyboy

          They are saying they are running electrolysis with solar to make hydrogen to power a fuel cell. Electrolysis, best case real world is 70%. Fuel cells are 50%. So that multiplies to 35%.

          Wiki talks about electrolysis, and the most fuel cell development so far has been done by the auto industry, where they have been able to do around 50%.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Fifty percent loss sounds too high. From Power Plant Engineering 4th edition by P K Nag:

        The main attraction of electrochemical energy storage [e.g. batteries, fuel cells] is that its efficiency is not second law or Carnot cycle limited, like thermal processes.

        This statement would apply to flywheels as well, where the main efficiency drags are windage and bearing losses. High vacuum reduces the former, while superconducting magnetic bearings from maglev technology ameliorate the latter.

        Trouble is that the gyroscopic force from spinning flywheels might tip Japan over into the sea. :-(

        1. craazyboy

          The main problem with storing power is that it’s like taking all the electric power lines in the world and winding them up in a ball, perhaps with the ends tied together, then pumping in a days supply of power and telling it you want it to stay put.

        2. hunkerdown

          Jim Haygood, on the other hand, if they’re set up in pairs to counter-rotate, they might prevent the next 1000-year earthquake. :D

      3. Cry Shop

        Pumped Storage already achieves approx 80% efficiency. sheesh.

        That’s just not good enough, and there are other issues which are just as problematic, to do with the quality of the AC power, cost of storage, environmental impact, carbon & methane emissions from the storage technology, etc.

  1. Bill Smith

    World War III, By Mistake

    The article is interesting but has a number of discrepancies between articles on incidents contained within. But a launch from a Russian ballistic missile submarine just off shore in the Atlantic Ocean would decapitate the civilian leadership the United States before the president even was informed.

    Other articles, some quoting Brzezinski, some updated in the last few years show the following timeline of Russian missile launch from off shore Atlantic: US missile detection time after launch of about 30 seconds, analysis time by NORAD of 2 minutes, phone call by NORAD commander to presidential assistant of 2 minutes. At the time presidential assistant is about to call the president the missiles are detonating. Thus no time for launch on warning by the president.

    But don’t take this comment to believe that I think launch on warning is a good idea. I don’t.

    1. Adamski

      Wouldn’t they phone the president as soon as thirty seconds after launch then and keep him posted as situation developed?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Is the computer calling the President or people? How many people? Is the President on the front nine nine or back nine? Does someone in the chain decide to call a spouse knowing the bomb is coming?

        If the President is taking a dump, or just drifted off to sleep, does he take the call?

        One of the Snowden revelations (although it wasn’t really a revelation) was the national security apparatus still suffers from information overload. There is no effective way to identify and communicate information to relevant actors. My guess is the people watching for nukes are just as fallible.

        1. Dave

          All this speculation! Hillary Clinton announced to the world the time frame. She’s an expert at spilling the national defense beans, from her basement servers with no password protection holding 30,000 top secret cables, to her revealing on national TV during the debate:
          “You only have four minutes to respond to a nuclear launch”.

          Isn’t that revealing national defense secrets to which she was privy?

        2. Cry Shop

          The bigger threat is an accidental war cause by lack of time to diagnose and stop a reaction to a false positive. Russia came close at least once, and the USA came close (with in 5 minutes) of launching a “retaliatory” strike twice. See Sagan’s “The Limits of Safety”.

          By moving our missiles closer to Russia, and in reaction, vise versa by the Russians, we reduce the time available for technical staff/systems to detect and derail false positives from becoming actual nuclear war.

      2. Bill Smith

        Evidently not.

        The protocol that appears to be in use is that the person in charge at NORAD during the shift something happens calls the person the President has designated to get the call. Typically this appears to be the National Security Adviser. This person calls the President.

      3. Procopius

        Seems like this would need to be addressed by somebody versed in psychology, but I can’t imagine being able to give enough information to the President and him being able to process it and make a decision in less than a couple of minutes, especially if he was woken from a sound sleep. Launch on warning is a terrible idea, but how can we get rid of it?

  2. fresno dan

    Stunned By Trump, The New York Times Finds Time For Some Soul-Searching Deadline Hollywood (MF).

    She continued: “The red state America campaign coverage that rang the loudest in news coverage grew out of Trump rallies, and it often amplified the voices of the most hateful. …..That’s important coverage. But it and pieces like it drowned out the kind of agenda-free, deep narratives that could have taken Times readers deeper into the lives and values of the people who just elected the next president.”

    What we see is filtered by sooooo many factors. Americanism, capitalism, the driving force of “news” to be “newsworthy,” (what is NEWS? who decided a rare airline crash is more important than the daily carnage of auto crashes?) dramatic, entertaining. I suspect one sees 10 times (at least!) the number of stories about Israel than one does about South America, Africa, and Asia (except for China, Japan, Korea) combined.

    It hasn’t been that long that we didn’t have much of a choice in news sources. It hasn’t been that long that we didn’t have a real choice in candidates (remember when it was Jeb! versus Hillary…).

    AND “…kind of agenda-free, deep narratives” – there’s that word again. The only problem is that their “narrative” and my narrative don’t match…

    1. a different chris

      >except for China, Japan, Korea

      Lordy, for example I had to think to even come up with another country in Asia, which is doubly hilarious given all my friends from India.

    2. Carolinian

      The NYT may not set the agenda for the rest of the country but they definitely set the agenda for the pack journalistic MSM. Cronkite famously said he picked the stories for his evening news by checking the front page of the Times and the odd certainty about Russia and the election–even coming from respected figures like Moyers–undoubtedly stems from an elite mind habit that believes things that make it onto that front page must be vetted and true. Given such reality you’d think the Timesmen would be a lot more careful about what they consider fit to print. Perhaps the nepotistic management structure is to blame or perhaps it’s simply symptomatic of an establishment that is becoming more like traditional aristocracies. NYC is the sand into which this ostrich sticks its head. Half the movies I watch these days seem to be set in Brooklyn–the new boho paradise–and while that may be fascinating for the people who live there it’s not a very big canvas. The elites need to get out more.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Often, I surf the net and come across hundreds of stories, but it seems, the stories are all the same…the same events, the same perspectives on those events.

        Then, I come back to the not-the-net world (may be more real or less real, you tell me) and, again, it seems (and maybe I don’t see enough), but I see people dress the same (not all of us have fashionable legs that we look forward to the return of the mini-skirt, though we men are spared of that particular trauma), eat the same (Tikka Masala to go…wait, that was during my visit to London) and act the same (He’s not my president and the Russians are going to get us, do you know a good, honest fallout shelter contractor)…the same as those on TV.

        1. clarky90

          I have been actively working on making my “Dreaming Life” (my dreams, REM sleep) my personal “home theater”, as our forebears did for millions of years.

          The movies and TV on offer are just a constant rehash of current Hollywood script writer’s perversions, nightmares, fantasies, moral teaching “conversations” (basically, their weird dreams/thoughts/”values”). No thanks, my own dreams are more interesting, AND, mine. Get out of my head, Hollywood mind parasites!

          The movie scripts are just as fake and boring as the constructed “news”. (IMO)

          Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming
          Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. &
          Howard Rheingold

          The entire book!

      2. sd

        You’re seeing more movies and tv shows from New York solely because of tax incentives. Ditto, Georgia and until recently Texas and Louisiana who have both cut back. California has increased its incentive to try and lure work back to the state.

        Apparently multinational entertainment conglomerates can’t afford to make their product without significant financial assistance from government.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If you’re a poor Deplorable county or state, and have no money to incentivize a film company, your Deplorable life will never to known to the world through the entertainment industry.

          “If you don’t give me what I want, I will move to another place, another country.”

          That goes for producers, football teams, elite scientists, top professors, multinational corporations,etc, but not for a typical 99% worker who rarely can afford to decide which job offers to accept based on which nation or state has best to offer tax-wise or on other government incentives.

          1. Harry Shearer

            Where a film (or TV show) is made has almost nothing to do with where its story takes place. Toronto “stood in” for NYC for years.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              That’s true.

              First they don’t film where the Deplorables live.

              Then, when they do film there, they don’t portray the Deplorables right here before them.

          2. Procopius

            Many people who proclaim that people without jobs should move to where the jobs are (who knows that?) apparently are not aware that there are costs associated with moving. There are intangible costs, but there are real monetary costs which may be hard to overcome. Perhaps they are paid so much money that the costs are trivial to them, or their contacts are so good (I’m thinking Megan McArdle) that they know they’ll be reimbursed quickly so it isn’t a problem.

        1. fresno dan

          Wow – I am impressed that Mr. Shearer commented here.
          “Our guest is an actor known for, among other things, the many character voices
          for “The Simpsons” including Mr. Burns, Smithers and Principal Skinner”
          And you can’t get more varied viewpoints than a from man who is an old squillionaire, a young gay dude, and a public school teacher….

    3. Optimader

      A thread running through this article that i found to be telling but not suprising is that even this writer’s attempt at critique can’t get past repeatedly going to the LA Times as the biz model and “reporting style” counter point.

      Even the crituiqe is still stuck in the bicoastal paradigm. Why ever would they need 13 bodies in LA?? Cutting 13 in La down to 3 is part of the solution not the problem– if they are strategically relocating the other 10 to places other than NYC.

      “…last summer, a Los Angeles bureau that was built to house 13 had dwindled to four or five inhabitants. Visits by upper editors were rare or nonexistent. Los Angeles stories, especially about the entertainment business, were increasingly written by visiting New York staff members or freelance writers assigned by editors back in Manhattan. The drift was palpable — presumably no…”

      So maybe if they dwindled the LA office to 1 and put the another 2 or 3 up-coast; then hire the another 10 LOCALLY in selected regional cities w/ marching orders not to be caught in the office other than for filling out their travel expense accounts, they would not be so myoptically doomed with the present NE journalistic bunker hive inbreeding currently manifested?

      Maybe w a little regional journalistic missonary work all those stupid provincial “folk” might eventually have some interest in buying NYT pulp rags and then they would have some financial justification for growing larger regional presences?

      1. Carolinian

        Until not too long ago the NYT owned my town’s newspaper and lots of others. I believe they’ve been retreating from their national presence rather than the opposite.

        As for movies are made in NY “solely because of tax incentives”….well not really. Many of the films I’m talking about are specifically about NY life or Brooklyn life and not simply using the city as a generic backdrop the way those made in Toronto or Atlanta often are. The filmmakers are “writing what they know” and they all know the same things.

    4. Ignim Brites

      Much of the Times agenda is driven by the profit motive. Nationalizing all politics decreases the costs of operations. Thus its continuous “payments in kind” to the Democratic Party. Only when (fake) news organizations are required to audit and report quarterly to the IRS the value of their payments in kind will the problems of the news industry be ameliorated.

  3. fresno dan

    World War Three, by Mistake The New Yorker. “Windows for Submarines” is a thing. Who knew?

    The other day, Senator John McCain called Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, “a thug, a bully, and a murderer,” adding that anyone who “describes him as anything else is lying.”
    If not for a financial crisis, all of human civilization could be smoldering ruins. This establishment thought this man was a good choice to be the president…

    1. I Have Strange Dreams

      All one really needs to know about Hanoi John’s treason:

      According to the elder Hopper, McCain told his North Vietnamese captors, “highly classified information, the most important of which was the package routes, which were routes used to bomb North Vietnam. He gave in detail the altitude they were flying, the direction, if they made a turn… he gave them what primary targets the United States was interested in.”

      McCain was also involved in the cover-up of hundreds of US military left behind to die horribly in Vietnamese work camps. The man is pure evil.

      1. RabidGandhi

        If McCain did in fact provide the Vietnamese with valid, actionable information to help them thwart further savage bombings of their civilian population and infrastructure, this would actually be in McCain’s favour: a rare bright spot on an otherwise mass-murdering criminal career.

      2. Bill Smith

        All likely worthless information as the routes / turns / altitude are supposed to be changed each time.

        It was mistakes like not changing the routes that got the F-117 shot down over Serbia.

      3. Optimader

        “… the package routes, which were routes used to bomb North Vietnam. He gave in detail the altitude they were flying, the direction, if they made a turn…”

        I dislike McCain but rewinding the tape to back then, what aspect of that information was not self evident if it was a pattern?? I knew a b-52 crewchief in college, who survived the experience, and one of his laments was the sheer predictability of their missions. Are you implying the NV did not have radar????

        On a higher level point, McCain obviously got fked up by his captors, quite apparent looking at the guy . You never know how you would behave in the moment until you are in the moment, that said i am pretty sure i would have told them anything they wanted to know. Thats why any military strategy worth 2shts is structured with compartmentalized info. Need to know…

        1. Sy Krass

          Yeah low blow about McCain, you don’t know how you would react in that situation, and even the toughest person would crack, I wouldn’t hold that against anyone for any reason ever. Information and the secrecy of information is over rated to any true long term success strategy anyway…

          1. hunkerdown

            It’s not a matter of moral value. It’s that the man is broken and unfit to serve others. The best thing to do with him would be to give him a patrician’s opulent retirement on the condition he never utters a word in public again.

        2. I Have Strange Dreams

          You obviously didn’t read the article about him. He returned in rude health and helped cover up the fact that hundreds of US servicemen were left behind to die.

      4. Skippy

        Rule number one – everyone breaks…..

        All the testing done to see if high security holders can holdout, is just so the don’t go running at the mouth from dot one.

        Disheveled…. information has a shelf life and with it the application of….

      5. Procopius

        I was in Thailand when the Army created the special team to recover remains from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, Central Identification Laboratory, Thailand. We were convinced at the time that there were no prisoners left behind in work camps. There were slimy con-men making money off selling that vile story and apparently they are still with us. I know very well the DoD often lies to us, but I know enough about this back story to give it a high probability of being true.

  4. Hana M

    From the Sputnik article

    Shoigu stressed Russia “for the first time in its history” has fully protected the extensive Russian borders with early warning anti-missile systems.

    The Pentagon must be processing the information with extreme seriousness. That means, essentially, that before the S-500s were fully rolled out, Moscow could not but exercise extreme prudence. Now Russian air space seems to be effectively sealed. Putin could not actually admit on the record that Russia is the strongest military power in the world until the rollout of the S-500s is complete. All US offensive missiles and stealth aircraft as it stands are rendered useless. And that does no even take into account nuclear weaponized Russian silent submarines.

    A far more important development IMO than Russia eavesdropping on the DNC or RNC and something I have not seen elsewhere.

    Read more:

    1. Steve H.

      I can think of three huffpufferies in the quote, and that’s not all-inclusive. First, ‘protected… borders’ does not equal ‘strongest military power’ as one is defensive and the other is about extension in space. Second, ‘All US offensive missiles’ is a lot, especially considering multiple warheads, and just one slipping through is an existential problem to the target (say Moscow).

      Third, recollect the ‘Star Wars’ system that was supposed to protect the U.S. and how that was a bezzle and boondoggle rolled into one. Lying and misdirection are standard in politics/war, and Russia is investing in internal manufacture of strategic resources. It hasn’t failed until it’s tested, and Europe is not going to be hot to do that, since it’s Europe that will suffer the consequences.

      What this means is that the S-500, both in fact and implications, may very successfully protect Russia from external threats. Unlike America, Putin’s work can be viewed as nationalistic and Slavic, and not (like America) attempting to impose a global empire.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The F-18 first entered service in 1992.

        Part of the problem with the F-35 is it was promised as a magical all in one plane, and the money thrown away besides not being spent on schools wasn’t spent on useful or potentially useful weapons. Trump asked about a plane as old as the Clintons time on the national stage. In the end, they are planes for the carriers. If Iran can knock out the flat top, the carrier can’t launch planes and becomes a glorified cargo ship.

        The V-22 for its design faults at least had a point, reducing the time it takes to drop and recover troops in a war zone so the enemy doesn’t have enough time to bring up the shoulder mounted missiles they can use to knock out a helicopter and extending the operational range of formerly helicopter based operations. The F-35 was meant to replace the F-18 because counters have been developed before the S-500. Interceptors can out class the F-18.

        We get away with this poor thinking because geography is our best defense, but the Russians have NATO and Chinese bases on their border and the fallout from various central Asian problems.

        1. Optimader

          “Part of the problem with the F-35 is it was promised as a magical all in one plane, and the money thrown away besides not being spent on schools wasn’t spent on useful or potentially useful weapons.”

          The Pentagon buying tenderloin and recieving 80%fat ground chuck.

          I have read more than one retrospective analysis that it eould ironically been less expensive to have shtcanned the “economical” F-35 and put those funds toward building F-22, a far superiof aircraft that was excoriated at the time and subsequently cancelled.

          Who didn’t know the VTOL F-35 was an absurd variant to contemplate for oh so many reasons, but kept quiet because it was necessary to justify it to pull the trigger to fund the program. Pentagon Staff rolling their oranges on the keyboard to make the career sustaining funding spreadsheets workout.

      2. OIFVet

        I don’t know about Putin’s work being Slavic, Slavophilic idealism is hardly fit for a stone-cold realist, and besides sentiment within Russia right now most closely matches Dostoyevsky’s: “This second thing is my inner conviction, complete and overpowering, that Russia never will have and never has had anyone who can hate, envy, slander, and even display open enmity toward her as much as all these Slavic tribes will the moment Russia liberates them and Europe agrees to recognize their liberation! ” (Fyodor #Dostoyevsky on the #Slavic Question). I would say that the past 130+ years have proven Dostoyevsky correct, and Russians are rather sick of other Slavs blaming Russia for everything that ails their societies.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting quote.

          What stands out for me is the reference to Europe’s observation of events in Slavic part of the world, and the impact of its reaction (here, to agree to recognize the liberation) – that it should matter to some people was perhaps an indication of its influence, as in ‘sphere of influence.’

          Contrast that with UN Security Council votes. “We may be alone, the only one to see things this way, whether you people around the table recognize it or not, but we vote to veto it. Too bad you don’t recognize it.”

        2. Steve H.

          OIFVet, you’re right, I was being too general. Edit:

          Putin’s work can be viewed as nationalistic and Slavic,

    2. a different chris

      How do you go from “air space seems to be effectively sealed” to “the strongest military power in the world”.

      God people are nuts. I guess a turtle is “the strongest animal in the world”, too. So today Russia would win – whatever the f that even means – in Afghanistan? Amazing. And Russia can keep their commercial airliners from being hijacked and flown into…. actually, given the state of Russian’s airliners it’s probably hard to direct them to the airport itself so when they crash who knows what happened, so never mind…

      Do the people that write and distribute this crap literally suck on fear like a child on a lollipop?

    3. Bill Smith

      “All US offensive missiles and stealth aircraft as it stands are rendered useless.”

      Alas, if it was only that easy.

      1. Mark P.

        ‘Alas, if it was only that easy.’

        Indeed. While many Pentagon’s big platform systems — the F-35, a navy of ships with aluminum superstructures that will burn down to the waterline if they ever get hit by missiles — are crap ‘military Keynesianism’, there are things the U.S. has that none of its potential competitor states do.

        Something that never gets discussed, for example, is that the U.S. Air Force’s Space Command has three robot shuttles moving around up there on missions that last about 250 days on average. Their holds could be filled with nukes, could be anything — we don’t know. But they’re up there.

    4. alex morfesis

      Fearless leader has spent money on missles no one will ever have to test…no one wants to invade russia and russian women have no interest in making russian babies…obviously riding shirtless on a horse does not inspire his nations women to rebuild his 11 time zone monstrosity(9 zones ?)…greece has more tanks than putin…he couldn’t cause a traffic jam in Lithuania with that tiny set of tanks he has…why would america attack or invade russia ??

      But pepe (like many) is confused about the future of asia and always ignore indonesia…Indonesia is the future lord of asia, with its direct link to india, bangladesh, vietnam and the philippines…2 billion people…not sure that china can keep its 9 dashes if indonesia insists otherwise…

      Russia is the new france…

  5. olga

    I was trying to tell a friend who reads regularly Sun. NYT that she’s not getting unbiased news, but rather a certain narrative. She wouldn’t have it. If one has come up from the provinces, gotten an education, and become more affluent, one must read the NYT to confirm (and reconfirm) one’s status. (She also listens to 6pm news and NPR and firmly believes that she’s informed.) Reminds me of a boss, who only listened to Fox and followed its directive not to believe any other news (remember that Fox bubble). It actually is so easy to deceive people… and keep deceiving.

    1. Clive

      My mother-in-law has just made the same sort of comment (about the BBC and the Daily Mail, which are roughly equivalent). I was trying — and failing — to illustrate that, for every reasonably accurate story which was fact-based and well researched there were two or three other stories positioned and layered in the navigation (or broadcast running order) which were deliberately “positive” or “good news” pieces. As per your example, not at all unintelligent and by most standards very well informed and interested in politics (so long as they are national rather than international and conventional rather than anything too boat-rocking).

      This is going to be one long, l—o—-n—–g Boxing Day afternoon before I can politely make an escape. At least I can play with the cat, who is very smart and shows every sign of being quite discerning.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        What you are trying out tell them is obvious, too obvious. What do you mean MSNBC gives the Microsoft (no longer affiliated, guess what the MS stands for), GE, and now Comcast corporate line? Pointing out newspapers are businesses and not magical truth telling devices as magical as Ouija boards (created in the 1890’s and now owned by Parker brothers) is embarrassing. What do our mean that story about Wal-Mart making its employees ring bells for the Salvation Army was was a commercial?

      2. Jim Haygood

        Boxing Day … is Lambert letting his manservant Dimitri go, or acquiring a valet as well with his blogger millions?

        1. Clive

          Alas the latest Naked Capitalism fundraiser fell somewhat short so the only thing in Lambert’s boxes were some leftover “Hillary in 2016” t-shirts. Still, better than nothing and it’s the thought that counts. Besides, they should’ve been grateful for the noblesse oblige.

      3. OIFVet

        I just picked up my cat’s ashes from the crematorium. As sad as I am, they still make a better companion than people whose eyes are wide shut. Your mother-in-law sounds like mine, a NYT and NPR liberal with a wall’s worth of credentials, who cannot wrap her mind around the supposed contradictions between my US military service and my support for Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria.

        1. Clive

          Bless you and the departed soul of your loyal feline friend and my deepest sympathies and best wishes to you at this time. Maybe the worst time of year to suddenly lose the guiding and wise counsel from your life but then again there’s never a good time really is there. Sending love and healing to wherever you are in the hope it reaches you and does a little good. Take it easy.

        2. Pat

          Let me add my condolences on the loss of your companion. For such small creatures they leave such big holes…

          I’m so sorry.

    2. ERA

      I know tons of young psuedointellectuals who listen to NPR or read the Guardian and think they are informed. It’s not the source that makes you informed, it’s how you process information. Most people who I know who are wise are foxes, not hedgehogs. They don’t pretend to know everything, and they don’t think the truth is wrapped up in a single thing.

    3. Ian

      “to conform (and reconform) to”. Slight alteration I feel works for most in similar circumstances, though previous version more then adequate.

    4. beth

      I once was one of those people until I began yelling at the Times when it was supporting GWB’s war intimations after 9/11.

    5. Daryl

      I remember the glorious time when my local NPR station just played lots of classical music.

      Thank goodness my car is new enough to have an AUX input. Podcasts and audiobooks have rescued me from the wasteland that is radio.

  6. Sam Adams

    I read this article on judicial nominations and immediately thought that the ‘Vichy’ Democrat House and Senate leaders Pelosi, Schumer and Clyburn will start a rigorous opposition to Trump and the Republican 100 judicial nominees. Then I broke out laughing so hard I peed a little.

    1. John Morrison

      Return to this issue in half a year, and see how often they use the filibuster against the nominees, or against Trump-proposed legislation in general. (Second of two things to check in the future):

      1. Computer voting — accompanied at the very least by a voter-verifiable paper ballot by 2018. If not, the talk of Russia hacking the election was garbage.

      2. Democratic use of the filibuster. If not, the Democratic promises in the WP article were falsehoods.

  7. a different chris

    Lost art of sleep – if you read it make sure to click on the “technologies” link in this sentence near the end and read another Aeon article, what first seems to be simply the ravings of a lunatic:

    “With the rise of sleep-tracking apps – and technologies to radically reduce how much shut-eye we need ”

    I wasn’t getting the weird ravings about how we all want too much sleep and how we would be so much better if we found ways to not need it and…. well some reference to some crappy sci-fi novel that I can’t really explain.

    And then Aha! … turns out she’s a disaffected Canadian who somehow has not been clued into the fact that there is a whole monster group of people, just south of her, that pride themselves on how little sleep they can operate on and use that extra time – scientifically proven to mess up your ability to do anything even remotely resembling “deep thinking” – to completely trash the other inhabitants of and the planet itself.

    Anybody know how much Trump sleeps?

    1. Steve H.

      Weird ravings are exactly what we would expect from authors who don’t get enough sleep.

      I’ve had two sources in the last couple months give different and compelling reasons to not shortcut sleep. Compernelle’s ‘Brain Chains’ is concerned with effective and functional thinking, and lack of sleep makes for lousy decision-making. Fung in ‘The Aetiology of Obesity’ (thanks, TheCatSaid) directly links it to metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, diabetes and cancer.

      Lack of sleep is more tied into the ‘Don’t Fight Sober’ link provided yesterday. Less sleep = moar war.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It depends on one’s age.

          When 18, one tends to party more, thus voting is probably not advised.

          When 80, one sleeps a lot more, in one’s nursing home. Maybe seniors votes should be given more weight, (say, twice as much as a partying-too-much, as in all-night-long, young college student’s).

          Do we then say that maybe we push back the voting age from 18 to 21? But that goes against our idealism of having more people vote. Of course, to be consistent with that ideal, perhaps we lower the voting age to 16, or 14…kids seem to be maturing younger and younger. Some 12 yr olds make more sense than 18 year olds.

      1. Dave

        What’s not obvious in the sleep article is that when you lie down more blood flows to your brain, it gets more oxygen and your muscles need less.

        Speaking for myself, I get my best ideas in the penumbra just before dawn when the bed hugs me in the cold air and I have the luxury of drifting insomnia from one thought land to another.

  8. edmondo

    The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

    Legends in their own minds. It’s obvious why they got along so well with the Clintonites, they reinforced their own (false) self-importance.

    1. Arizona Slim

      During my wild and crazy youth, I was part of my campus newspaper. Certainly not one of the elites of the place. Y’know, the kids who went on to become editors and columnists, Pulitzer winners, that sort of thing.

      Any-hoo, from my exalted perch near the bottom of the reportorial totem pole, I could see a certain arrogance creeping into the mindset of my betters. It got more noticeable as they edged closer to graduation.

      Well, that was then and this is now.

      A while back, I saw a comedic tour of the NYT. I think it was a “Daily Show” segment.

      And wait a minute. Who’s that? Rick from my alma paper? Yes it is! He’s in a senior editorial position with THE New York Times!

      The tour narrator asked him if anything published in the Times had occurred that day. Rick’s initial response was a very puzzled look. And then he said “No-o-o-o.”

      I was amazed to see how floored he was by the question.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Operation Mockingbird gets off to a brisk start setting the country’s agenda this morning:

      ABOARD A JOINT STARS SURVEILLANCE PLANE, Over Northern Iraq — Flying at 30,000 feet, the powerful radar aboard this Air Force jet peered deep into Syrian territory, hunting for targets on the ground to strike in the looming offensive to seize Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital.

      American commanders said the air war would probably play an even greater role in Syria over the coming weeks in the battle to retake Raqqa.

      The air operation is a pivotal component of a military campaign that has cost $12.5 million a day in Iraq and Syria. The effort has destroyed hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, military vehicles, command centers and fighting positions, and killed more than 50,000 fighters, according to American estimates. Since the air war began in late summer 2014, American and allied aircraft have conducted about 17,000 strikes in both countries.

      Remember Robert McNamara’s Vietnam body counts? Impressive kill totals still led to abject military defeat for the U.S.

      After 15 years in Afghanistan and 13 years in Iraq that have achieved bloody nothing, the Military Intelligence Complex is still wowing the NYT with how much sh*t it’s blown up.

      When the only tool you’ve got is an air war, every problem looks like a bombing target. That’s what Def Sec Asshat Carter learnt at Hahhhhhvid’s Kennedy School of Gubmint.

  9. George Phillies

    The Times “narrative” article makes the Times sound like the old Pravda. One might hope this was not intentional. Perhaps the interesting question is what “the narrative” was, which hopefully does not make it sound like a fake-news generating machine.

    1. andyb

      All the news that the Establishment sees fit to print, viewed under a Progressive filter, and only superficially critical of Establishment memes. As a result, it is too often misinformation, disinformation and outright propaganda. Goebbels would be pleased.

    2. Crazy Horse

      The difference between the New York Times and Washington Post and the old Pravda is the sophistication of their readership. From long experience citizens of the Soviet Union knew exactly how to interpret Pravda. In the USA a majority still erroneously believe that the function of the MSM is to provide NEWS. A growing number no longer believe everything they are told, but are so intellectually deficient that they cannot conceive of a coherent alternative explanation of the world they live in and therefore are susceptible to equally mad tweetings of a master salesman.

      The starting point is quite simple: If a politician makes a statement or the MSM publishes an analysis assume that it is disinformation until proven otherwise. You will be correct far more often than the faithful morning readers of the NYT.

      1. tgs

        The narrative extends far beyond the NYTimes and WSPost. I remember back at the turn of the century when the BBC news was genuinely different than the US MSM. Now there is one narrative driven home daily by the media throughout the neo-liberal world. It was well described last August in a piece that appeared in the Guardian.

        A substantial body of research conducted over many decades highlights the proximity between western news media and their respective governments, especially in the realm of foreign affairs. For reasons that include overreliance on government officials as news sources, economic constraints, the imperatives of big business and good old-fashioned patriotism, mainstream western media frequently fail to meet democratic expectations regarding independence. In our own study of UK media coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Manchester University found that most UK mainstream media performed to reinforce official views rather than to challenge them.

        Russian news may be biased – but so is much western media

        However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce the narrative. Hence:

        Obama Quietly Signs The “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” Into Law

      2. Plenue

        “A growing number no longer believe everything they are told, but are so intellectually deficient that they cannot conceive of a coherent alternative explanation of the world they live in and therefore are susceptible to equally mad tweetings of a master salesman.”

        This really is a major problem. Once you come to the realization that the MSM is lying to you, what do you replace them with? You flail about for an alternative. You’re very likely to land on someone like Alex Jones. After all, he’s been saying for years that the MSM is lying. He was right about that, why not everything else? But people like Alex Jones merely throw vast amounts of shit at the wall, and some of it is bound to not be completely wrong and stick. And they never go back and draw attention to the vast amount of things they were completely wrong about.

        I’m not even sure how I stumbled onto naked capitalism, but it’s fortunate I did, and not some completely unhinged loony-bin further down the hall.

  10. Edward

    One of the many ironies these days is that now it seems to be Russia and China that are pursuing a containment strategy against the U.S. and not the other way around.

      1. paul

        Favourite moments, hearing wham rap’s deep synth bass intro for the first time on the john peel show and seeing him,20 odd years later, demolish his peers at a freddy mercury valedictory concert.
        A special talent and no mistake.

  11. Pat

    Regarding the upcoming attempts to slice and dice Medicare and Social Security, I am at least happy that I have pounded on the various attempts of the Obama administration, the revelation about Bill Clinton’s intentions AND the various private remarks made public from Hillary Clinton with my friends. So far pointing out how the public is going to have to make it clear to our political betters that this is NOT going to happen without pitchforks, tar and feathers or maybe guillotines, none have even hinted that it might be better IF it wasn’t Trump.

    As for those judicial vacancies, funny how that worked out. Not that I probably would have liked Obama’s nominees (see Sotomayer and Kagan), the Democrats should have had every friggin’ vacancy filled by July of 2010. But let’s be real, both parties conspired to not only make sure that only the only judges that got appointed were acceptable to the top but that there was always a way to offset any stealth judge that got through. Neither side has seemed interested in clearing the backlog. It will really be a change if the Republicans do reduce or eliminate that backlog of needed appointments. Deadly, but interesting if they go that route.

    1. Isolato

      Hi Pat,

      Having just entered the social safety net at age 65 I have very complex reactions to the existing system. First of all it is impossible to ignore that the SS system is upside down. Those who need the benefit the most get the least and vice versa. I, who have not worked since I was fifty, stand to collect nearly the maximum benefit because I earned a lot. The supermarket checker who has never stopped working in her life cannot possibly retire on her benefit because she didn’t earn enough. Because of the ACA I pay an “adjustment” (2X the normal) to my Medicare premium. I’m OK with that. I SHOULD pay if I can. If I were to set out to reform SS there are two very obvious fixes. Remove the cap on earnings subject to FICA taxes and restrict benefits to anyone who makes over a certain amount. This would require that we surrender the notion that somehow we are “getting our own money back” and acknowledge that we are instead providing a transfer of income from rich to poor.

      1. hunkerdown

        Isolato, if we didn’t live in a society that celebrates social Darwinism and cultural sadomasochism as “tough love”, that can’t function without “losers” to exploit under color of “moral correction” or similar horse dung, and that considers continuous personal improvement our debt to the oligarchs and/or gods (depending on sect) that is ours to enforce on one another, that would happen.

      2. Pat

        I do agree about raising the cap. Mind you that should be done if only because the larger earners have a longer life expectancy anymore.

        As for restricting benefits, sorry one of the more brilliant things about SS is that it doesn’t do that and people do feel that they are getting their own back. Want to watch it become even easier for politicians to destroy something that generally works – allow it to be equated with welfare. The little old ladies on the UES who will go after Chuck Schumer if he decides to make Pete Peterson happy wouldn’t be so likely to sharpen their pitchforks if it was restructured the way you say.

        Just remember that if America was really about taking care of each other especially those less fortunate, cutting SNAP benefits wouldn’t be an annual affair. Something that helps feed people, is massively stimulative AND also supports both farmers and Walmart would not face cuts every year. There also wouldn’t be a problem having school lunch programs. One wouldn’t think that feeding kids who might otherwise go hungry would be celebrated rather than an offense against American exceptionalism and can do spirit, but offense it is. No, once again the cap does need to be eliminated but it all needs to be about the fact that pretty much the only people living longer anymore ARE those who get to stop paying at some point. They are the ones who are on it for decades.

        1. Isolato


          We live in a country where “the common good” is not our ambition. And I agree that making SS benefits income dependent is dangerous, but it already works that way…only backwards.

    1. KFritz

      Today’s antidote nitpick: that’s a Dall Sheep, rather than a Bighorn–however the Wikipedia Bighorn article mentions debate about the ‘species’ being separate.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Ayahuasca gains a toehold in Drug War America:

    Los Angeles (AFP) – Dominique was hooked on cocaine and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day until she stumbled onto ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic concoction that she says has changed her life.

    The French-American woman is among thousands of people across the U.S. who are increasingly turning to the powerful psychedelic brew from the Amazon to overcome addiction, depression or psychological trauma.

    The potion, prepared and consumed as part of a shamanic ritual, is especially gaining a following in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

    While scientists in the United States confront legal obstacles in studying the brew, much research is being conducted in other countries, notably Spain and Brazil, where ayahuasca is legal.

    In a U.S. plagued by opioid overdoses, researching a treatment that has shown promise for breaking addictions would seem urgent. But the law enforcement, private prison and rehab industries that monetize human suffering don’t want that.

    Its petrified political system unable to correct a 46-year-old error, the US looks like taking a back seat in research on natural compounds to LatAm, Spain and Portugal, where the anglosphere’s fanatical superstitions about drugs have been calmly set aside.

      1. Daryl

        Ayahuasca is pretty monetizable (see 4 and 5-digit Ayahuasca retreats). But it doesn’t fit in well with the current pharmaceutical industry scheme, that’s for sure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That it’s gaining a following in Hollywood and Silicon Valley is not comforting to those who believe in total therapy, that is, you can’t just take a remedy for any health problem without also looking at making changes in the lifestyle.

      In one culture, one may drink alcohol with food, with one’s family, being happy and content, and in another, the counterpart drinks away sorrows or loneliness in a hotel room.

      What works wonderfully for a shaman does not imply the same with a living-high and fast movie star.

      Maybe, he or she should just quit Hollywood.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Your skepticism about a one-shot miracle cure is consistent with common sense.

        Yet for some who have gotten habituated into a destructive lifestyle, a day’s respite from the malaise to examine themselves from a third-party point of view can be the break they needed.

    2. Isolato

      I watched some friends participate in an Ayahuasca ritual in the Bay Area at least a decade ago. My SSRI use ruled out my participation (sadly). This was a reverential event, everyone dressed in white, arrayed in a circle w/a “shaman” who had brought the drug from Hawaii (apparently it is pretty easy to grow). They spent 8 hrs moaning and vomiting which certainly didn’t look like fun but every single one of them did it again the next night…

      Psychedelics are frequently proposed as the “cure” for many psychological ailments from addiction to PTSD. I’m not sure if it is actually the drugs themselves or the distinct marker of “before” and “after” they represent. My own experience of entheogens is very positive. But they haven’t cured me of anything that I know of except the notion that there is independent meaning in the universe.

    3. different clue

      And you forgot the illegal drug cartels who would lose trillions of dollars over the decades to come if all their customers got de-addicted by using ayahuasca. And you forgot all the Greatest and Goodest money center banks which would lose hundreds of billions of dollars laundering those trillions of illegal drug dollars over the decades to come if their money-cleaning-services customers ran out of money to clean because they ran out of addicted customers because of ayahuasca.

      So look for ayahuasca to be put on Schedule 1 any time now. De-addiction is bad for bussiness.

  13. Organ Grinder Monkey Tricks

    Oh dear. The asskissing neosoviet glavlit weasels of the New York Times are whining about the Supreme Court. My heart is breaking. Merrick Garland, the CIA tool who got his big break covering up government provocation and support for the OKC bombing (Story #2, which was inadvertently omitted from the NYT’s phony bullshit narrative).

    What we should should do is un-pack the Supreme Court. Don’t put anybody in there. Let those crooked party hacks die off, or send them to Cibolo Creek Ranch to take a dirt nap. When they’re all dead, replace the whole bug pit with a grown-up independent court subordinated to a National Human Rights Institution in accord with the Paris Principles. It would be nice to have an apex court that’s not an international laughingstock.

    It would also be nice to have a so-called paper of record that’s not an international laughingstock. You couldn’t even stop hand-picked hopeless asshole Donald Trump. Hey, Ivy League legacy quota big shots, you want to set the agenda for the country? I got your agenda for the country here, in my pants.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Merry Christmas from Mauricio Macri:

    Alfonso Prat-Gay was fired as Argentina’s finance minister Monday after just one year in the post, as a long-heralded recovery in the economy fails to materialize.

    President Mauricio Macri requested Prat-Gay’s resignation following disagreements over economic policy. GDP fell 3.8 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, defying President Mauricio Macri’s forecast that it would return to growth in the second half, while the inflation rate has risen to about 40 percent.

    Prat-Gay had pushed for policies to revive growth, while central bank President Federico Sturzenegger had prioritized the fight against inflation.

    Nearly a year after the peso’s official devaluation to about 15 per dollar, the J-curve effect should have kicked in by now to boost exports and growth.

    Only one thing left to do: devalue the dólar soja — still way overvalued at 11 pesos per dollar owing to export taxes — and let farmers plant fencerow to fencerow. It’s summer in the pampas, with those amber waves of grain.

    1. JohnnyGL

      …and this is where the limits to ‘markets’ kick in. As Yves wrote, it’s where the wet dream of Friedman and the Chicago boys rapidly collapses into a nightmare of lawlessness and criminality. With an open capital account, the elite, often criminal, elements of society yank money out of the country as fast as possible (to avoid the coming devaluation as well as to hide from future governments). This squeezes the balance of payments and drains reserves unless more devaluation is forthcoming.

      The focus is put on exporting everything and increasing production in a vain attempt to balance payments. But that kind of short termism has environmental consequences for future productivity. So planting fencerow to fencerow falls apart after a few years without ever increasing inputs. Those inputs, of course, need to be imported. You can see where this is going…more balance of payments pressures, ever decreasing reserves….more capital flight…more inflation. With spiraling food prices (prices can’t be controlled because MARKETS) since everything MUST be exported, domestic voters urges to eat be DAMNED.

      Shorter version:

      Agricultural free trade has environmental contradictions (overuse and abuse of land) and domestic political contradictions (angry voters that hate expensive bread)

      Open capital accounts are pretty much always bad news…sooner or later.

      1. different clue

        Here in America itself, agricultural exportism has not yet raised the “price of bread” because of abundant GMO shitcorn, GMO shitsoy, and shitmeat and shitmilk from mass-confinement livestock fed on GMO shitcorn and GMO shitsoy. Not to mention GMO shitfructose from all the GMO shitcorn . . . as well as GMO shitsucrose from GMO ( Roundup Ready) shitsugar shitbeets.

        The fallout here has been in quality so far, rather than price and quantity. The falling quality leads to falling health and rising sickness-maintainance costs. When the glyphosated GMO shitsoil can’t grow shitcorn and shitsoy anymore, then we’ll get the rising prices and falling quantities too.

      2. RabidGandhi

        Spot on Johnny, the Macri/Friedman model is: no value-added exports. Rape the natural resources and destroy the internal market.

    2. RabidGandhi

      My two centavos: Prat Gay leaving will not mean any notable policy changes in the Argentine Gov’t. His dismissal was some time coming, with rumours abounding for months now, and it was due to internal tensions in the government. Macri wanted P-G to tackle inflation, but the CPI has at least doubled in 1 year. Macri also wanted inflationary utility hikes and elimination of anti-inflationary price controls. This set P-G’s anti-inflationary orders against the inflationary orders of other ministries, making him the odd man out at cabinet meetings for some time now. Nevertheless, his replacements Nicolás Dujovny and Luis Caputo come from the same austerian/ Washington Consensus philosophy and are very adept to Macri, so expect no substantial policy changes. Frankly, the economy has not worked out the way Macri et al wanted, so they are like an uncomfortable sleeper, changing sleeping position.

      That said, no tears should be shed for Prat-Gay. He increased Argentina’s debt in dollars faster than any other FinMin (“a vertiginous rate” according to Ámbito Financiero), he brokered the humiliating caving-in to the Vulture Funds, and he apologised for Argentina nationalising its formerly privatised resources. None of which should hamper his return to JP Morgan whence he came.

      Lastly, what the samhell does any of this have to do with the Dollar Soja? Answer: nothing whatsoever.

  15. Synoia

    Bat speech:

    One of the call types indicates the bats are arguing about food. Another indicates a dispute about their positions within the sleeping cluster. A third call is reserved for males making unwanted mating advances and the fourth happens when a bat argues with another bat sitting too close. In fact, the bats make slightly different versions of the calls when speaking to different individuals within the group, similar to a human using a different tone of voice when talking to different people.

    I wonder about the percentage of complaints from female bats vs male bats.

  16. Dave

    Carnival outsourcing?
    I’ve always wondered why don’t the employees having to train their replacements just plant some creative code bombs that will go off in the future? Or, train their replacements to be bad coders?

    Curse the national traitors who use our laws to collect their money, protect their rights and our people to stuff their purses. Boycott them and spread the word about them.

  17. Jeffrey Radice

    The links to NYT cloud article and the Chatbot piece in Medium provide an interesting contrast.

    From my perspective, deep in it, the Times article fairly accurately describes the current and near future landscape of computing. Internet of Things is inextricably linked to the cloud … where Amazon Web Services dominates today. AWS is the market leader, and has been growing like gangbusters for years. Microsoft is not standing still with Azure, nor is Google, nor Apple nor IBM …. It is a fundamental shift in technology taking place!

    “He wasn’t explicit, but if you were hoping to invest in storage, computing — anything below applications — you are hosed,”

    On the other hand Ted Livingstone, talking his book down a blind alley. The whole premise of his piece is a false equivalency. Chat is not the new browser. It is, at best, the new IVR — Interactive Voice Response. I’m also still struggling with the graph at the end, regarding WeChat and Tenpay. It comes off as misleading.

    1. Anonymous

      The “cloud” (a word I despise, because it means absolutely nothing) is a grift. (I’ll focus on VMs, but it’s the same story all around, including with storage, etc.) The marketing story is that costs can be reduced due to granular (i.e. per-minute) billing and the ability to start and shut down VMs dynamically. The reality is that the costs are so insane compared to dedicated hardware, that only *extremely* bursty workloads could possibly benefit from this (and most web applications aren’t as bursty as people think).

      Nobody should ever run a baseline workload on the “cloud.” Even with reserved instances or sustained use discounts, the compute costs will be higher than faster dedicated hardware (available from numerous providers), and bandwidth pricing is absolutely insane. By “insane,” I mean there are tons of dedicated server providers who will sell you a mid-range (e.g. latest-gen E3 quad-core) config with multiple *terabytes* of outbound included, for under $200/mo., whereas all of the “cloud” providers you listed include no (or almost none, e.g. Amazon “generously” (LOL) includes 1 GB/mo. free) bandwidth and charge around $0.10/GB. Even IBM/SoftLayer, who is well known for being overpriced, includes 500 GB/mo. on a dedicated server.

      1. Jeffrey Radice

        If by “means absolutely nothing”, you are correct in that there is no one cloud. It is a very generic term. The cloud is not so different from mainframe computing, in that timesharing is paramount. What’s old is new again. In that sense it is a form of grift. But as there is no one cloud, there is no one set of information needs. Just because one particular narrow application is not cost effective does not automatically malign all use cases.

        In many circumstances it may not be obviously cheaper, but there are other considerations. What was Capex becomes Opex, which matters to some organizations.

        One of the greatest benefits* of moving back to a timesharing model is that the cost of IT staffing is reduced. If you’re doing it right, the personnel costs for system administration, maintenance, and security staff should be longterm reduced. The cloud provider is responsible for those. Some organizations also find this matters. Not reduced to zero, but if you have dozens or even hundreds of such staff in a global organization — those numbers start to add up quarterly — if you can cut the IT headcount by 20-30-40% or more. Conversely, in a startup, you can outsource many of these more commodity skills to your cloud provider, which means you can focus on your core competency.

        *The organization benefits. The IT staff, who find their numbers reduced due to automation, do not.

        1. Anonymous

          (Again, primarily focusing on the VM component of “cloud” platforms.)

          > In many circumstances it may not be obviously cheaper, but there are other considerations. What was Capex becomes Opex, which matters to some organizations.

          The reality is that most decisions to use AWS are based on their marketing machine, which has somehow convinced people that it’s the “best” option for everything. As you said, and as I acknowledged, there are certain applications that may benefit (things that are bursty, don’t need to run all the time (spot capacity), just need to run for a short time periodically, etc.). Baseline workloads do not fit this pattern, but the marketing machine has convinced people otherwise.

          The OpEx consideration is moot — there are many providers (including IBM which we both mentioned; while more expensive than most, their dedicated offerings are *still* cheaper than AWS for most baseline workloads) that lease dedicated hardware to you on a month-to-month basis. The provider obtains the hardware (their CapEx), hosts it in their facility, and leases usage to you.

          > One of the greatest benefits* of moving back to a timesharing model is that the cost of IT staffing is reduced. If you’re doing it right, the personnel costs for system administration, maintenance, and security staff should be longterm reduced. The cloud provider is responsible for those. Some organizations also find this matters. Not reduced to zero, but if you have dozens or even hundreds of such staff in a global organization — those numbers start to add up quarterly — if you can cut the IT headcount by 20-30-40% or more. Conversely, in a startup, you can outsource many of these more commodity skills to your cloud provider, which means you can focus on your core competency.

          Dedicated servers are identical to the “cloud” in this respect. The provider handles hardware problems and their facility handles physical maintenance and security. Neither AWS nor an unmanaged dedicated provider is going to handle software administration, maintenance, and security for you.

  18. bob

    Can any brits or Australians confirm the true history of boxing day?

    I’ve heard from several people that prior to the consumer orgy of modern Christmas, that Boxing day was formerly named after the day that queen elizabeth traveled to Australia to free her subjects from the evil hands of commie kangaroos. She fought a grueling 12 round bout, and won by decision in the end.

    Evidence of this battle can still, apparently, be seen on any of her coins- Her nose. Broken in 3 places during the legendary 8th round.

    1. Annotherone

      bob~ Yours is as good an explanation as any. ;)
      TheTelegraph has a reasonable piece up – search engine + “Boxing Day 2016: What is it and why to we celebrate it?”

      For most of us, during my own 60+ years in England, Boxing Day was a day when we had to “eat up”: all manner of cold left-overs from Christmas Day feasts (more like Thanksgiving feasts here in the US).
      Cold turkey, cold roast potatoes (y’all don’t have a proper version of these) cold brussel sprouts (better than they sound), and lots of left-over sherry trifle (yum!) Guys then would watch soccer, either at a pitch somewhere or on TV, while the rest of us might visit Boxing Day sales in the nearest big city.

      In the evening, sometimes we’d all go see a pantomime at our local theatre, enjoy the inanity of yelling “He’s behind you!!” every time the wicked Baron appeared to menace the poor peasant. Of course, here in the US such things are ongoing, but y’all, mostly, in the past, must have forgotten to do the shouting. ;)

      1. Clive

        Unfortunately the rather more upstairs-downstairs social divide and know-one’s-place aspects have been cunningly airbrushed out of the holiday we know in the modern era. From Wikipedia:

        In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older British tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses and sometimes leftover food.


        The tradition continues though in the Clive household. Lunch today consisted of the bits of turkey which we didn’t eat yesterday served cold (with salad). The remains of the dessert were also dished up. It did have a rather nice quality to the meal — using up what wasn’t needed the day before rather than simply throwing it away. I always prefer Boxing Day lunch to Christmas Day dinner.

        That said, and I will carp, even if it is Christmas, everything we bought this year was quantifiably more crappified than the same from last year.

  19. gonzomarx

    Supermarkets to fly in emergency salad from US after Spanish floods

    Heavy rains in southern Spain have hit supplies of leafy salads, celery and broccoli with shortage set to last into new year

    ‘This is possible. We did it’: the week Portugal ran on renewables

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would also like to ‘We did it, one week without shopping on the internet.’

      And “We did it, one week camping out in the front or back yard without electricity (green or otherwise), living on raw sushi or meat,” nationwide.

  20. Elizabeth Burton

    I prefer to think of the Republican National Committee’s Christmas letter as a Freudian slip. I say this for several reasons. First, this is the party that thoroughly embraced Frank Luntz, who is not known for choosing words unwisely. Granted, some intern in the PR department might have been ordered to toss this out at the last minute, but even so, that particular choice of wording cannot be dismissed.

    Second, the reason it can’t be dismissed is that the use of the word “king,” capitalization notwithstanding, is incorrect when used with the word “new.” Is anyone familiar with the language of the season will be aware, the appropriate word if the reference actually were to the birth of Jesus would be “newborn.” And that may well have been what was supposed to have been written. That the word “king” was used instead is, to anyone who is accustomed to using words to provoke emotion or communicate a message, telling.

    Finally, are we seriously going to pretend that the current administration and its wholly-owned political party don’t see themselves as the new royalty? Everything in their agenda is clearly intended to establish a new system of feudalism, and you can’t have a feudalistic society without nobility. And any such system requires a monarch.

    So, we can pretend that that furor over that particular choice of wording is a tempest in a teacup (in other words, smaller than a tempest in a teapot), but it’s precisely by ignoring that kind of wording that we can be led to be insufficiently suspicious. Let’s face it, from this point on paranoia may be our biggest and best defense.

  21. Pat

    Just another recognition that the crash of the Russian jet largely wiped out the choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble.While this is certainly not the most difficult thing they ever sang or display what a loss this was, I’m posting it because a large percentage of them seem to be enjoying themselves.Better times and all.

  22. Light a Candle

    Chris Arnade’s tweetstorm from the heartland was a really good, thought-provoking read (it links to his excellent articles over the past year). He has good insights about the system that’s set up to fail them/us.

    And he’s kind and respectful to the people he interviews. It’s in clear contrast to the easy and misleading denigration of the “deplorables” by Democratic “elites” and their followers.

  23. alex morfesis

    So is el donaldo the 3rd, 4th or 5th version of the nixon administration ??
    Will dita beard be showing up with two bolts protruding from her neck soon ??

    Have seen this movie once or twice before…

    then again no one remebers the
    Gainesville 8 &
    emmerson poe/bill lemmer

    the more things change…

  24. ewmayer

    o “Giant cell blob can learn and teach, study shows | Science Daily” — Man, who writes you guys’ op-ed copy? This headline is just screaming out for a “remind you of any of your former teachers?” quip. Sheesh.

    o “Poll Finds More Americans Now View Donald Trump Positively WSJ” — Amusing to see the MSM acting surprised at this after their wildly biased coverage leading up to the election. You repeatedly play the Hitler card and then are stunned when hoi polloi, seeing WW3 has not yet broken out nor mass deportations begun, express relief. It’s called “setting the bar really, really low”, and the establishment types have no one but themselves to blame for that. Similar dynamic on the economic front: Tribalist twits like Krugman with his NYT soapbox-sinecure direly predicts markets will crash and never recover if Trump is elected. Well, guess what? Most folks with any kinds of investments got a nice EOY surprise in their 401k statements. What’s not to like?

    “Cyber security takes on new urgency for groups targeted by Trump | Waging Nonviolence. “We can’t trust Trump with the NSA.”” — Uh, we can’t trust the NSA with the NSA, irrespective of who is president. What rock have these folks been living under?

    o “Here’s to the lost art of lying down Aeon. Literally” — Probably the #1 reason to have furry friends in our lives, to remind us how to relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures: A bowl of good food, a sunny spot to nap in, a squeaky chew toy or catnip mouse … life is good.

  25. neo-realist

    Regarding the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act, I disagree with the removal of the provision for women to be subjected to the draft—keep in mind, I’m against the draft (and I’m pretty sure we’ll never have one anyway) for the reason that the usual suspects will continue to get out of it one way or another—the rich and the politically connected—but if there was to be one, why shouldn’t all genders participate if all it takes to be drafted, more or less, is to be able bodied, which you will find plenty of in both genders? Equal gender subjugation for those who aren’t wealthy or connected.

    1. hunkerdown

      The important mens won’t have breeding stock if the womens are overseas fighting. Won’t someone please think of the oligarchs and their lonely suffering?

      1. neo-realist

        Considering the present overpopulation of the earth, many of which we can’t feed, breeding is not a concern. However, a multi-gender fighting force might lead to new dating apps for our brave and unselfish cannon fodder—Cumbat? Foxyhole? Drone-her?

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