Links 2/13/17

Four of Iceland’s main volcanoes all preparing for eruption Iceland Monitor (Chuck L). “Stunning volcano photos.”

Too much water: How Oroville Dam problems became a crisis LA Times.  Bob’s been monitoring the situation from afar:  “The pictures in the morning should tell a story. You’ll see how much material has been moved, and how futile dumping handfuls out of helicopters is.

Spending a ton of money to add projectiles to the water. The dams downstream must be very clogged, which is another thing to watch.”

Oroville Dam: Thousands evacuated in California after plans for emergency spillway fail Independent (includes video clip). “This is not a drill.”

‘This is the worst I have seen’: California’s roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director LA Times

Why Cities Are Demolishing Freeways The American Conservative

What do gorilla suits and blowfish fallacies have to do with climate change? The Conversation

Bias in the ER The latest from Michael Lewis.

Hundreds of ancient earthworks resembling Stonehenge found in Amazon rainforest (Chuck L)

India’s militant rhino protectors are challenging traditional views of how conservation works The Conversation

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Erasing yourself from the Internet is nearly impossible. But here’s how you can try. WaPo

In Jharkhand, compulsory biometric authentication for rations sends many away empty-handed

Mission possible: Self-destructing phones are now a reality (Chuck L)

HOW WOMEN’S STUDIES ERASED BLACK WOMEN Daily JSTOR (Micael) “So much for sisterly solidarity.”

Class Warfare

On the Line Jacobin

Congress Threatens State-Run Retirement Plans for Private Workers (UserFriendly)

New Jersey Finds Challenge to Combating Addiction Crisis WSJ

No place like home: America’s eviction epidemic Guardian

Pay anger spurs UK groups to rethink bonus plans FT

The Origins of the Overclass (Chuck L)

Does Depression Have an Evolutionary Purpose? (Micael)

The Wall Street Journal to close Google loophole entirely Digiday (Tony K)

France’s presidential race: Old and new media collide Al Jazeera

Swiss voters reject corporate tax reforms FT

Linux pioneer Munich poised to ditch open source and return to Windows Tech Republic (Chuck L) “If Frankfurt switches to Linux-based systems will Microsoft move its HQ there?” Microsoft Deutschland bezieht neue Unternehmenszentrale in München-Schwabing Microsoft Microsoft


A failure to tell the truth imperils Greece and Europe FT (UserFriendly)

What to do if immigration officers come knocking at your door USA Today

Police State Watch

Will Edward Snowden Return To The US? NSA Leaker ‘Not Afraid’ If Russia Hands Him Over To Washington International Business Times

Government advisers accused of ‘full-frontal attack’ on whistleblowers Guardian

Heat is on China after North Korean missile test SCMP

Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse Guardian. Tome raiders!


When it comes to Brexit, is the City a help or a hindrance? New Statesman

Britain’s youngest Euromillions winner planning to sue lottery bosses for ‘ruining’ her life Independent

The global targeted killings bandwagon: who’s next after France? The Conversation

TPP is dead, but its legacy lives on The Hindu

2016 Post Mortem

Hillary Clinton Is Running Again Politico (UserFriendly). “This nearly gave me a heart attack, but it’s ​just lots of groundless speculation.​” Moi: Groundhog Day.

The Labor Movement Must Learn These Lessons From the Election The Nation. (ChiGal). “This article was an eye-opener for me and might be for others like me who don’t have a background specifically in the labor movement but rather a broader commitment to social justice. It gave me a framework for understanding the debate of late amongst commenters.”

New Cold War

The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins NY Observer (furzy)

Trump Transition

The ultimate entrepreneurial achievement can be seen in Steve Bannon’s rise to the White House SCMP

Obama wanted to be the high-speed rail president. It might be Trump instead. McClatchy

Conflict Over Trump Forces Out an Opinion Editor at The Wall Street Journal The Atlantic

Trump Travel Ban Update: Supreme Court Tie Means Trouble For Executive Order International Business Times

Trump undertakes most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan WaPo

The Two Kinds of Trump Voters Politico (UserFriendly)

Q&A: The Marshall Project’s Bill Keller on the future of criminal justice reporting under Trump Columbia Journalism Review


Antidote du jour (J-LS photo, rose-ringed parakeet, Gir National Forest, October 2016) Far from the best of photos, from a technical perspective, but I like the expression: Feisty? Quizzical? (Or am I just projecting excessive anthropomorphism?):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. nechaev

    don’t know if this analysis got a mention -libertarian perspective but worth reading anyway (altho might be dated already if the reports about Priebus i read this AM in NYT are true: “Trump Ally Suggests Priebus Is in Over His Head”…

    As painfully clichéd as it is to say, it really does seem as if Trump has built his inner circle with an Apprentice-like dynamic of two competing teams.

    As Axios described it this weekend in a useful article, the dynamic is pitting “confrontationists v. conformists.” The confrontation side is led by Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and Stephen Miller, while the conformists are led by Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and most of the cabinet that weren’t in the trenches during the campaign (Tillerson, Mattis, etc.) (I find Axios useful here because it was started by one of the Politico founders. While they shouldn’t be seen as a go-to for policy analysis, it is a great source for Beltway gossip.)

    Lastly, I think Bannon’s relationship with Trump will be the true canary in the coal mine in terms of where the administration is going. There is a full out war being waged right now over Bannon, and people are going to do everything possible to poison that relationship.

    The best example of this battle playing out is how Joe Scarborough has been treating Bannon. For weeks now, he has been constantly talking about how “surprised” he is at the amount of attention a White House staffer like Bannon is getting – strongly suggesting that Bannon is intentionally trying to overshadow Trump. While rarely is anything on MSNBC particularly relevant, Morning Joe is an exception because we know Trump watches it. Scarborough not only knows that, but he knows Trump personally. He also knows how to push his buttons. Trump doesn’t want to be overshadowed by anybody, and could be sold to view this as a betrayal from Bannon. We will see how this plays out, but I tend to think it could unfortunately be an effective strategy going forward. Especially since it’s one of the few things the media has direct control over.

    Should Priebus end up outlasting Bannon, the Trump revolution will be over.

  2. winstonsmith

    Re: The Wall Street Journal to close Google loophole entirely

    There is another loophole. Create a bookmark pointing to


    which you can do by selecting the text and dragging it to your bookmarks toolbar.
    Whenever you find yourself on a paywalled article, click the bookmark. It takes you back to the same article but via Facebook. (The downside is that it leaks information to Facebook.)

      1. winstonsmith

        What I offered above doesn’t work because the plain double quotes were converted into fancy quotes by wordpress.

        1. Praedor

          Ah. So you don’t need an FB account. Nice.

          I’ve had trouble getting some of the FT articles this morning from alternate sites. Most go back to walled off FT. This trick should work.

        2. KFritz

          My OS is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. That facebook ‘prefix’ only works using Chromium–not Firefox. I also tried using it in Chromium for an article from the Times of London, without success. Does that mean that TOL is out in front of the WSJ, or is their some other trick to access the Times?

      1. Optimader

        No kidding.. the popularity o FB amongst otherwise seemingly well reasoned privacy concerned still amazes me.
        On WSJ, if their content is that important get a subscription and support their biz model?
        Is it ever that important?

      1. oh

        Eggzackly! I don’t understand why readers at NC would want to read the WSJ junk. And for that matter FT.

        1. uncle tungsten

          The Guardian sucks too and its “free” if reading crap and being prevented from commenting is worth your trouble. I never go there anymore.

  3. fresno dan

    Why Cities Are Demolishing Freeways The American Conservative

    But over the past two decades, many cities have found that running highways through dense areas has done more harm than good—and they’re increasingly opting to tear them down.

    Maybe they are FINALLY figuring out that people in cars don’t throw money out the window when they are zipping through urban areas. Maybe finally figuring out commerce only happens when people GET OUT of their cars…..

    The big freeway boom started in Fresno when I was a child. Besides having to move from our grand rental house (well, to a child) we had a heck of a time finding another house because….so many other houses were to be torn down for the freeways. Who knows…thousands??? Tens of thousands of low cost rental houses lost? The very easy system of street grids to navigate completely disrupted and truncated.
    To save how much time – 4 or 5 minutes at most on a cross town trip? And only because the freeways exacerbated even more sprawl…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The old Tokaido, from Edo to Kyodo, used to be lined with tea houses, eateries, local specialty shops, etc.

      Then many, many towns were bypassed when they built first a railroad, then a highway/freeway. Those towns are mostly gone now, except a few preserved as tourist spots.

      I think they would come back, if something similar were to happen there and we could look forward to another Shanks Mare novel, and more woodblock prints.

    2. Paid Minion

      Back before the Interstate System was complete, we would drive from Kansas City to SE Ohio every other summer to visit relatives. Because you had to drive on city streets to get thru St Louis, Terre Haute, Indy, and Columbus, Ohio, the trip took two solid days to drive. The only people who saw economic benefit were the oil companies, and a motel in Effingham, Illinois

      Now, I’ve done the same trip in 10.5 hours. You save more than “4-5 minutes”, take my word for it. Thanks to the current Interstate System, trips under 400 miles out in BFE can be done faster by driving. Assuming there is even air service between the city pairs.

      Trains? What a joke. At least outside of the top 5-6 metros. The only way you can get the BFE types to buy in/pay taxes for rail service, is for the train to STOP everywhere out in BFE. Which translates into 6 plus hours to do a 300 mile trip. Plus the cab ride or rental car when you get there.

      Wichita is finishing up their cross town expressway; even in a smallish metro like that, it has cut the crosstown drive down from over an hour, to 30 minutes.

      In that case, housing impact was minimal, because they turned the major east-west road into an expressway. One wonders if the retention of cheap rental houses was more than offset by the job losses due to the business disruption for a longer period of time.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Doesn’t sound like we flyover deplorable types will see/benefit from HSR (or slow rail) soon, if ever. But hey, if I could get dial up back for 20 bucks a month I would probably take it. First this country needs to string skinny easy affordable fiber to every home on the grid.

      2. ratefink

        Remember, the scenic drive through the center of every one horse town was a feature, not a bug, for the original U.S. route system. The idea in the 30s being that you would be exposed and tempted to overnight/spend your money on the new routes boosting the local economies. What FDR hath given, Eisenhower hath taken away.

        1. davidgmills

          It was a feature when people had three weeks vacation. Fuck that. I wish there were more expressways that bypassed the cities. Air transportation is so bad now in most places that you have no choice but to drive somewhere if the drive is ten hours or less. Deregulation took all of the airplanes out of anywhere but the major hubs.

      3. a different chris

        What are you even talking about? “Every other summer” interstate trips have nothing to do with the subject under consideration.

        This may be a little closer:

        > it has cut the crosstown drive down from over an hour, to 30 minutes

        By spreading the 30 minutes out to among all the points that used to be efficiently accessed, no doubt? The point of a “town” is not to “cross” it? Capice?

    3. polecat

      The same situation happened in Sacramento back in the early 60’s, which cut off Oak Park from the downtown/midtown area, sealing it’s demise towards gettoization. At the same time the city, in all it’s ‘wisdom’, tore up ALL the old electric trolley tracks that still existed up till then, thereby making it impossible to upgrade that mode of conveyance. BRAVO … not !

  4. alex morfesis

    Trump travel ban…he apparently can send another notice to congress and reduce the refugees to 40 thousand, basically shutting down the refugee program until next year…it was a giant distraction to get the front page off his “relationship” with the russians and move the chains down the field…

    1. Praedor

      Frankly, I don’t care about any such “relationship” with Russia. I don’t care if Flynn talked over sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before the election either. I just don’t see the issue.

      “If we win we will do what we can to ease up the sanctions, improve ties”.

      BIG DEAL.

      Hell, it was the right thing to do: throw a monkey wrench into the Deep State’s desperate attempt to fire up a full-blown Cold War all over again (because the War on Terrah! is a fail). ANYTHING that kills off fantasies of either starting a new Cold War OR gets us going in the opposite direction of a hot war with Russia is a Good Thing, objectively.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Russia is a distraction from Clinton Inc.

        How exactly did the “most experienced candidate in the history of ever” with over a billion dollars, universal name recognition, a sycophantic press, a united Democratic Party establishment, and widespread Republican defections manage to lose to Donald Trump?

        Russia is large on maps and foreign. It’s easy to blame because there is nothing to do or anything to get upset about. Above all, we must look past not just actions of DWS but every elected, their staffs, planned parenthood, and even state party people. Most of these people were unaware or simply ignored how weak Hillary was as a candidate. Random people off the street would have defeated Trump.

        Why was the architect of the Anita Hill smear tolerated anywhere near any “serious” Democratic candidate? This is the real question.

        1. a different chris

          >Russia is large on maps

          The Mercator Distortion!! (see, if you say it like that it makes Russia seem even more malevolent, not less). Thank god Iceland is -currently- friendly.

        1. cwaltz

          Okay, using the same logic you all are using to defend Flynn, someone from the Democratic Party should be able to go behind the Trump admin’s back to Saudi government and say that their intent is to provide troops if elected to depose Assad. No harm, no foul nevermind that it would encourage Saudi to have a stake in our elections.

          By the way, breaking a law is not a “fake scandal” which is why he probably resigned.

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, but that’s nit-picking, since he was, apparently, in fact speaking as the authorized agent of the President*. It’s not like Reagan contacting the mullahs and saying that if they’ll hold off until after the election he’ll give them a better deal than Carter. Seems like Flynn is getting more attention than Reagan did. Or Nixon, who actually communicated with an entity we were de facto “at war” with.

  5. Kukulkan

    From the Two Kinds of Trump Voters article:

    When I spoke to them, these voters sensed that they were losing control of their country and its identity, that they were losing their place in the social hierarchy. Trump’s “America First” approach comforts them and reinforces the supremacy of white people.

    Oh, good grief. Everything gets pumped through this stupid identitarian filter. These voters can only care about “the supremacy of white people”. It’s just not possible that they’re tired of being deliberately screwed over and are just looking out for their economic interests.

    Let’s try an alternate view. Starbucks announced that they’re going to hire 10,000 refugees as a way of condemning Trump’s travel ban (link). This can be read two different ways. Among the Indentitarians, it says that Starbucks is a good, open-minded company that supports cosmopolitan values (and guarantees that the Identitarians will continue to be able to get relatively cheap coffee). To Exasperated voters it says Starbucks has 10,000 jobs that they are deliberately not going to give to unemployed Americans because they consider them them bad people and prefer to keep them destitute.

    Here’s a suggestion: if things like Britexit and the election of Trump are fueled by voters exasperated by a lack of good jobs and a reasonable rate of pay, why not drain away that support by providing everyone — white, black, gay, straight, male, female, every other “identity”, everyone — with good jobs at a reasonable rate of pay? I believe this was the policy following the Second World War to prevent Fascist and Communist parties from gaining a foothold in the Western democracies by promising such things to the disaffected masses. But, apparently, that’s no longer an option. God forbid that Identitarians should have to pay a bit more for their coffee.

    Instead we have a steady stream of pundits twisting themselves into ever more elaborate pretzels as they keep trying to come up with explanations that ignore jobs and pay and instead cast the blame on the moral failings of the destitute, showing them to be deplorable, and thus justifying their continued suffering.

    1. polecat

      Hear Hear !

      A suggestion for Yves and crew … how about a new links category : Prion Pundits alert …. for all those paid ‘folding fools’ who spew manure ??

    2. reslez

      It’s a two-fer. They get to feel morally superior while simultaneously defending an economic system that benefits themselves. Ever notice how hatred is strongest toward those you have wronged?

    3. JustAnObserver

      The reason they’re tying themselves into these topologically insane (to anyone outside their sealed bubble) positions is that otherwise they’d have to follow the “jobs & pay” logic to its conclusion and start a “conversation” about the great unmentionable of US politics – CLASS.

      And we all know that only hippies and Putin lovers talk about that.

    4. David B. Harrison

      Brilliant!Critical thinking at its best.Check out my page for a critical thinkers solutions to what ails us.You don’t have to give a penny; but please read the campaign description.(this is in reply to kikulkan)

    5. UserFriendly

      Did you read the rest of the story? The part I found interesting was the 2nd type of voter. The one who has given up on both parties, isn’t in love with Trump and could swing back under a Bernie type candidate.

      1. Kukulkan

        Yes, I read the full story.

        I thought dividing Trump voters into the Nationalists and the Exasperated was an interesting approach. And pointing out that the Exasperated voted for Trump because they felt that business-as-usual wasn’t working and wanted a change. It makes sense that such a group would vote for Obama — who offered “Hope and Change” — Trump — who promised to “drain the swamp” and restore American Jobs — and would support a Democratic candidate who offered something similar. They just weren’t prepared to support Hillary Clinton who just offered more of the same business-as-usual that they rejected.

        But, in addition to this relatively sensible analysis, they had to throw in the identitarian bit about “the supremacy of white people”, which doesn’t fit the rest of the analysis at all. Maybe something like that is a concern of the Nationalists — and even there I’d have to consider the claim to be not-proven — but it doesn’t fit the Exasperated. It’s like, even when they’re looking at the actual causes for Trump’s victory, they just can’t let go of the idea that, deep down, anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary is a racist and a deplorable.

  6. fresno dan

    Too much water: How Oroville Dam problems became a crisis LA Times. Bob’s been monitoring the situation from afar: “The pictures in the morning should tell a story. You’ll see how much material has been moved, and how futile dumping handfuls out of helicopters is.


    Maybe there is excessive snow melt, but I look at the actual rainfall amounts and it seems as if this has more to do with poor management than some great anomaly in rainfall amounts

    1. cocomaan

      For years I’ve been hearing about how the Mosul dam in Iraq was about to fall and kill hundreds of thousands of people. Crazy that it’s happening here.

      It’s also interesting to see Brown calling for FEMA aid after the CalExit talk.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        It’s time for all Americans to stick together and help those in Northern California.

        Perhaps now they shift to SoCalExit.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Last night when the emergency spillway started eroding, they cranked up the discharge from the main spillway from 55,000 to 100,000 ft³/sec to lower the lake faster and stop water flowing over the emergency spillway.

      But the main spillway has a giant crater in it (45 ft deep, 300 ft wide and 500 ft long yesterday) where its concrete apron was scoured away. Higher flow will dramatically accelerate the crater’s erosion, by a power law function of flow rather than linearly.

      What I’d like to see is a cross section of the main spillway, showing the horizontal distance between the spillway apron where it’s cratered, and the lake side of the dam. Many drawings of public works were taken off the internet after the Sep 2001 attacks, so it’s prolly not available.

      The spillway grade looks gentle, so there should be a couple of hundred feet of earth (horizontally) between the spillway and the lake to absorb the erosion, for awhile. But if lake water starts seeping out of that crater, then soon it’ll punch through like the Hand of Bog, and whole towns would get swept away. :-0

        1. Tigerlily

          Not to pile on, but…

          Johnstown Flood

          St. Francis Dam

          I’m not an engineer but according to the LA Times there is no danger of the Orroville Dam actually collapsing, though.

          Interesting factoid: according to Wikipedia Orroville is the tallest dam (770ft) in the US. Hoover is only 724ft.

            1. Tigerlily

              I admit the thought had occurred to me that officials may be putting on a brave face for the sake of public consumption. I try not to dwell on it, cynicism poisons the soul.

              Still, if I was living downstream from the dam you can be sure I wouldn’t be taking anything for granted.

    3. foghorn longhorn

      It is more of an engineering problem.
      The main spillway has a huge hole in it, they tried to utilize the emergency spillway and it is failing also.
      Opened the regular spillway again to prevent a catastrophic release of water.
      They are very much in a bind with more rain coming and a record snow pack.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They need instant curing concrete (if available) to patch up that huge hole, and send all drones we have to deliver it.

      2. Jess

        Boy are you right about that. The snowpack is enormous. At Mammoth Mountain, Cali’s number one ski destination — and well names because the mountain is effing enormous — the snowpack is 24 feet above the parking lot. Pictures of cars in the lot looks like they’re Tonka toys. When this melts, Katie-bar-the-door.

      3. Jim Haygood

        Video footage taken this morning by KPIX (via CNN) shows that the bottom 40 percent of the main spillway is gone, turned into a wild and scenic river.

        Question is how long it takes for the scouring action of the new waterfall to work its way uphill under the remaining (top) portion of the concrete spillway, till it reaches the spillway gates?

        Unfortunately there are no simple equations to make any projection. Depends on the subsurface material, and the jackhammering effect of turbulent flow. Days, weeks, months?

        Better hope “months,” because the rainy season extends into April, and the lake level sometimes tops out as late as June or July. Meanwhile, no repairs to the eroding main spillway are possible while it’s in use. And it appears that the emergency spillway was so hopelessly under-designed that patching will be to little avail.

        Meanwhile, how are 188,000 people uprooted from their homes on an hour’s notice going to manage, if this crisis extends into the spring? The knock-on effects have barely started. FEMA is going to have to start handing out money for these folks to survive.

          1. UserFriendly

            Maybe we could send in the Clinton foundation to build some of those Haiti homes. I’m sure they all voted for her.

    4. fresno dan

      I was thinking about buying a house in Oroville when I first retired and moved back to CA.
      There was a DARLING house that had been rehabbed on Riverview Terrace drive, Oroville, CA (google map it) – I mean it was really quaint and had some real character. It is JUST DOWN from the dam! Never in my life would I imagine that the dam, after 50 years, would ever imperil anyone!! The house had a great view of the river and the city (such as it is) of downtown Oroville with a nice pedestrian bridge just down the street over the river into downtown. And it was just up from the fish hatchery – I imagine I could saunter down there at 3 am and pick up some fish….(literally – there is more fish than water)

      I decided that the lot was too small and too steep to do the gardening that I wanted to do. Also, the road out of this little cul de sac was where you had to pull out onto a highway on a blind curve – there was absolutely no way to see if any traffic was coming. And my later experience in Redding would tell me that I needed to live in a bigger city, i.e., the megalopolis of Fresno

    5. Vatch

      Were the problems with the spillways detectable prior to the heavy rains? Was the state of California saving money by reducing the resources devoted to inspections and maintenance?

      1. kgw

        10 years ago, or so, several organizations, the Sierra Club among them, urged the state water authority to beef up the dam and spillways. The answer was “we don’t want to charge our customers more money.”

        Read this in one of the L.A. Times pieces, IIRC correctly.

        1. Jim Haygood

          San Jose Mercury News:

          Three environmental groups — Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, urging that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

          Federal officials at the time said that the emergency spillway was designed to handle 350,000 cubic feet per second and the concerns were overblown. [Others] urged FERC to reject the request to require that the emergency spillway be armored, a job that would have cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.

          On Sunday, with flows of only 6,000 to 12,000 cubic feet per second — water only a foot or two deep and less than 5 percent of the rate that FERC said was safe — erosion at the emergency spillway became so severe that officials from the State Department of Water Resources ordered the evacuation of more than 185,000 people.

          Well, there you have it. If the lake goes over the lip again, it’ll take only another 24 hours or so to erode away the temporary repairs. Can’t do a $100 million paving job in three days.

          Is the lake level going over 901 ft again? Thirty-five years of historical lake level charts, most of which zoom upward during Feb-April, suggest the answer is “probably.” If rain starts Thursday, next Sunday night could look just like last night.

          1. fresno dan

            Jim Haygood
            February 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm

            “Federal officials at the time said that the emergency spillway was designed to handle 350,000 cubic feet per second and the concerns were overblown.”

            So….just like with Iraq…. (hmmmmm….maybe if they toss roses into the torrent, it will dissuade the water from rushing down the hillside???), a high level commission will be appointed, with all necessary authority to assure a totally objective and complete investigation by the best experts and most honorable people available to assure accountability and responsibility with regard to all decisions made regarding the dam….so that we can be confident that such a debacle never occurs again….

            OUCH! I hurt myself laughing….

            1. Antifa

              There’s still time to get TEPCO involved . . . they have a proven track record of making problems appear smaller than they are.

      2. Anonymous

        If it’s anything like Los Angeles, “inspections” are a joke, at least for residential and commercial construction. Los Angeles Building and Safety LADBS inspectors routinely ignore building code violations.

        Where we live in LA, a major two-lane road has been reduced to one lane for several weeks now, because rains caused a hillside to erode under someone’s illegally-constructed concrete patio, which came sliding down onto one of the lanes.

    6. JTMcPhee

      Re dam and reservoir management, it goes two ways (at least): When I lived in Seattle a couple of decades ago, the area was in drought condition. Mandatory restrictors on shower heads, no glass of water with your Chateaubriand and truffles, “watering restrictions” except for the rich of course, the Gates compound stayed pretty green. Seattle’s water comes primarily from precipitation onto river watersheds, restrained by several dams. Other dams up in the mountains also create further reservoirs. I forget which year it was, but there was a really low snowfall, so the snow pack that ordinarily melts and challenges the manmade structures with lots of water was unusually thin.

      But come an arbitrary date in the annual cycle of watershed events, the engineers and techs that operated some of the upstream dams opened the spillways and dumped a whole lot of water from the depleted reservoirs, “because that is how we have always done it” in order to “protect the dams from overtopping.” Despite all the reports generated by the people that went out into the cold to actually measure the snow pack and report how much snowmelt might actually be expected that year. Exacerbating the shortage, of course, but “the paperwork was all in order.”

      Humans. Ignorance of Murphy’s law is no excuse?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Also worth noting in that photo is that the so-called “emergency spillway” is all that terrain to the left with the trees and the power poles. (I guess technically it’s the area between the power poles.) It’s been washed out at the top, including the road, by being used for 1? day. It seems like less of a “spillway” and more of a “hillside.”

    7. TimmyB

      The problem is being caused by both the rain and the snow. There is a huge amount of snow on the ground. The rain that has recently fallen has fallen on that snow and melted some of it very quickly. This combination of rain and rain melted snow is what has caused the flooding.

    8. Procopius

      Sounds like what happened to us in Thailand in 2011. We had unusually heavy rains throughout the rainy season, and the water managers let the dam reservoirs fill up early in the season because of the usual weather pattern. Then we got a couple extra large storms in September and in October the drainage system was overwhelmed.

  7. Terry Humphrey

    All this conjecture about Trump voter conversion ignores the 50% who stayed home. Give them a reason to get off the couch and vote. This means voting Democratic will have to make a difference.

  8. Jason Boxman

    As someone that used Linux full time on my personal computer for 15 years, LibreOffice and Thunderbird are awful.

    If I needed to seriously interoperate with people using Office, I’d be out of luck. I finally switched to Gmail after much resistance to Web based email. I got tired of running my own mail server. I finally switched to Google Docs for documents, again with a sigh.

    The best non Dos word processor was Word Perfect. It was great and stable. So was 5.1 of it on DOS 3.11. So much software today is crap.

    I run a Mac now and couldn’t be happier.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Thunderbird is handy for one thing only — inserting photos into the body of an email, which doesn’t seem to be a native capability of most web-based email. Otherwise it snoozes harmlessly in the app tray.

      WordPerfect was like circulating silver currency. When you remember what real quality was, cheap & nasty substitutes like sandwich coins and MS Word never fail to activate the gag reflex. If every extant copy of MS Word were burnt in a giant bonfire, the world would be a better place.

      1. Katharine

        I agree Word Perfect was incomparable, but I have no quarrel at all with Thunderbird for email and am curious about why you dislike it.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I worked for The Borg in Redmond WA (MSFT) for 10 years, every year they would spend millions on focus groups asking people what new features they wanted in Word.
        88% of the features cited were already in the product but it was so complex/poorly designed that people couldn’t find or use them.
        The reaction every year of course was to add even more new features.

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, every edition after Word 2.0 was unnecessary. Or maybe it was the edition after that. Once they incorporated the ability to link to the other Office components everything new just made things harder. I built up a complex system using a database in Excel and form letter in Word that allowed me to calculate everything, including letter grades from test score percentages, for a report card for about 300 students in a day, and print them out. From fighting with Libreoffice I don’t think you can do it with them.

          I missed out on WordPerfect. I did a lot with DOS based PCs, but not much word processing until after we had converted to Windows 3.0. Didn’t like Electric Pencil, though.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Actually, Word 1.0. They got it right and should have left it alone. The bloat started immediately. I’m still holding a grudge because Word’s hideously unsatisfactory outliner killed the outliner market, including my favorite outliner, Acta (which empowered me to write).

            1. aab

              You mean this:

              I’d never heard of it. There are a ton of apps that look like they do this. What was special about Acta? (I love me some list-making and outlining.)

              This is probably not what you miss, but Scrivener is amazing. Ta-Nehishi Coates loves it, too.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Yes. The desktop version is Opal, a brilliantly simple outliner (for OS X only). It’s a “single pane” outliner whose functions are as easy to control from the keyboard as with the mouse. Make a box. Type in it. Move it left, right, up, down. That’s about it, but that’s all you need (there’s a spellchecker, too). Well, formatting and links, which is also does. It exports to Word, but I export to text and munge the HTML. I’ve tried many outliners, but for my taste they are all too complex and too slow. (I write in it, and export to HTML, so I don’t need Scrivener, or indeed any Word Processor. Of course, I’m not doing scholarly work that requires footnotes or tables, for which Opal is not ideal. But for straight prose, it can’t be beat.)

    2. sleepy

      Agree with you about WordPerfect. When I first started using a PC at work in 1990 or so it seemed to be the gold standard for word processing. I miss some of its features.

      Decades later I still have it drummed into my head c:/wp/wp

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      Couldn’t agree more on the superiority of WordPerfect. It was so intuitive and on the rare occasions when one’s intuition went afoul the “Reveal Codes” mode told you exactly why in an instant. If the OS playing field hadn’t been tilted so steeply in MS’s direction Word would never have gained mind share.

      I find Libre Office very much OK for what I do, but then I don’t have to interact with the MS world any more.

    4. diptherio

      Personally, I haven’t had any interoperability problems between LibreOffice and MSOffice in about 5 years or so. It used to be a problem, but the dev team seems to have fixed it…and I actually like Thunderbird, although I’m sure there are probably better clients hiding in the software center. Running Ubuntu MATE 16.04 right now and lovin’ it!

      1. Carolinian

        I’m with you and typing on linux at the moment. MS’ proprietary software model is becoming less and less relevant and the problems with linux stem from low interest due to the small user base. MS was giving away Win 10 in a desperate attempt to keep people onboard with their ancient product.

        1. Dead Dog

          My Asus Zenbook, 4 years old, was dying under Windows 7, no space and just so slow, and my partner’s new Windows 8 machine was just simply awful.

          After reading for several days, the transition to Linux Mint only took a few hours, including restoration of all my files. When the machine asked me if I wanted a dual boot, I wasn’t having any more of that MS crap and smiled as I pressed the delete key.

          I went from having nothing to having 40GB of space and the machine just hums, much, much faster now that all those background programs are no longer running.

          Miss nothing.

          1. Praedor

            I go with a virtual machine and install some version of windows there for the software that must be run on windows and wont work with WINE. The beauty is the vm windows can even get virus infected and do no harm.

    5. Lynne

      Yes to Word Perfect. As to Macs, well…. I switched everything (office and home) to Macs 9 years ago and it was great. Since then, there has been a gradual crapification of the Mac. They gutted tons of functionality out of Pages so it could be as incompetent as the Pages on iOS, and then promised we’d get it back. So instead of putting back any of the functionality, they concentrate instead on what colors their emoticons are and what pictures they use on their wallpaper. And instead of “it just works,” now it frequently does not for much more than cruising the internet. *sigh*

      1. kgw

        When the main box died a while back, I got new innards for it, and installed Ubuntu 16.04…Never looked back. I had already put an SSD drive into my notebook, and installed Ubuntu Mate 16.04 on it last year. Mo’ Betta!

      1. polecat

        Come on you all ….Admit it ! …. things really WERE better before the wide spread use of computers, PC’s or otherwise ….. I mean, remember when it was being said how ‘easy’ life would be for everyone when computers, and software were coming into everyday usage ….. well, what do think now, SLAVES ??

        Go on .. work faster, go through more hoops, with ever more crapified product lines at your disposal ….. for less and less time and money …. before the bots do you in !

        1. RMO

          OK, I will admit it. Even the things I find useful about computers I have to admit I could get along quite well without after a withdrawal period.

  9. Jim Haygood

    After Dr John “Ursus Major” Hussman’s DEFCON1 crash warning a week ago was followed by a nasty pop late last week, do you reckon he’s backed off on his bearishness? Why, no, not at all. In fact he’s quadrupled down:

    If there’s any point in U.S. stock market history, next to the market peaks of 1929 and 2000, that has deserved a time-stamp of speculative euphoria that will be bewildering in hindsight, now is that moment.

    I believe the equity market now faces the likelihood of deeper losses over the completion of this cycle than any other in history, save for the collapse that followed the 1929 peak.

    Even before the election, steep market losses over the completion of this cycle were already likely, as a consequence of obscene overvaluation baked in the cake by years of yield-seeking speculation. The election outcome only added a caboose to the back of a freight train already headed toward that cliff.

    Well, that’s pretty sobering. Dr. Robert Shiller’s price/10-year earnings ratio reached 32.5 in Sep 1929, and 44.2 (its all-time record) in Dec 1999. Currently it stands at 28.7, higher than its 27.3 value at the last market peak in Oct 2007, but lower than 1929 and 2000.

    No doubt another recession and bear market are coming, perhaps as soon as 2018. But that doesn’t mean Bubble III has to stop in its tracks today, just because we’re rudely shaking sticks at it. In fact, pre-opening S&P futures indicate that we’re off to the races again this week. A round of mimosas for all! ;-)

    1. Robert Hahl

      If you liken the 2008 financial crises to the rich man’s panic of 1907 that JP Morgan ended by walking through the floor of the stock exchange, personally buying everything in sight, as similar to President Obama’s telling Wall Streeter they would get all their money back, we can calculate 1929 – 1907 = 22 years, while 2008 + 22 years = 2030; so, we still have 13 years of bull markets to party and Dow 36,000 sounds about right.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Many commentators equate the trough in Mar 2009 to the Great Depression trough in July 1932. From the latter, a 5-year rally ensued to 1937.

        With Bubble III having already surpassed 7 years, 8 years is the next Fibonacci multiple of five. Its 8th anniversary is less than a month away, on Mar 9, 2017 (bearing in mind that a tolerance of +/- several months applies, as these are very rough, qualitative figures).

        Meanwhile the S&P 500 is at a fresh record of 2,324 this morning, as Apple (its largest component) makes a run for the roses toward a new record high. AAPL chart:

        1. craazyman

          I think the last time I tried to short the market was when he started writing about the Sornette Pre-Crash Dynamics showing a “log periodic bubble with finite time singularity in Jan. 2014”.

          It seemed convincing to me. I thought I was gonna get rich quick! So I did it. I shorted the market! I think the market is up another 25% since then.

          There were lots of Asteroid Sightings about that time. I think Chris Martenson put out a crash alert. Shedlock I think had been predicting a recession for, I don’t know how long. I think Martenson put out another crash alert sometime last year too.

          I think the market is up another 7% since the election even!

          All those guys shifted to politics, I’ve noticed. All of them are now political analysts. If you can’t prediict what the market will do, maybe you can tell politicians what they should do. That seems easier. Even Hussman! I think he’s getting into political commentary now too (not to be too mocking, however, he has integrity and he leaves up his articles for anyone to read for years. Total Props to that.)

          It’s hard to predict the market. But no matter how futile, useless and hard it is to do. I remain convinced that I’ll be able to get rich quick somehow. I’m just taking a pause now while I figure it out. My only requirement is that it does not involve much work on my part. Reading stuff on the internete isn’t much work, and I thought that would do it. But it didn’t. I’m not sure what will, but I’ll find it, that I’m confident abbout. And if somehow it doesn’t work — which seems implausible to me, but if it doesn’t — I’ll guess I can start writing about politics. Oy Vey that’s awful to even think about. Whoa.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Poor Dr. Hussman, a general fighting the last war.
          Nowadays stocks only go up, because we have finally discovered the secret elixir ingredient to reach a permanently high financial plateau: air. Who knew it would be that simple?

          It used to be you needed the sweat of your brow, to be productive, building something, growing something, working hard in order to earn something called a “profit”. Then you could take the fruit of your labor (money) and buy a share of an enterprise.

          How quaint, today we have mastered this flaw that has bedeviled people since the dawn of time. Using exceedingly complex mathematical formulas, the brightest Ph.Ds on the planet have engineered a pipe into our money creation factories that inject this simplest of raw materials. When it’s time for shares to go up they simply use this new ingredient to create new money, they then exchange this “air-money” with the hapless investors who had to toil and do “work” in order to own stocks. Since “air-money” can be created in unlimited quantities at any time, stocks can continue to go higher and higher with no end in sight. There is actually no theoretical limit to how high they can go, with some commenters discussing the Dow Jones Average exceeding the psychologically-important 1 billion level. What is less clear is whether this “wealth” would still be useful in a world where the average dwelling costs 1-2 billion in air-money units and a rectangular unit of baked wheat flour costs 1 million units.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hopefully we’re not following the 1907-1927 timeline.

        That would mean a great war during that 22 year period.

  10. Clive

    Re: “Britain’s youngest Euromillions winner planning to sue lottery bosses for ‘ruining’ her life”

    When I worked in my TBTF’s Wealth Management division, I dealt with several clients (agh! how quickly one slips back into the terminology — if you’ve not got your piece of the cake and that piece is sufficiently large and copiously iced you are a customer; if you’ve got millions, you become a “client”) who had hit the jackpot by one means or another. There were a couple of lottery winners, some inheritances, a lot of “self made” business people who were lucky enough to find themselves in the right places at the right times and some premiership football players (soccer, that is). Net worth was £2m and upwards, often a long way upwards.

    They were, as a rule, not a bunch of terribly happy people. They certainly were not discernibly happier than anyone else. They did not have the sorts of stresses brought about by a chronic lack of money such as “how am I going to buy food”, “how do I keep the debt collection agencies at bay”, “where is this month’s rent coming from”. But they created a new, different but — to them — equally troubling set of problems for their lives. Most of these were around being “done out of” some aspect of their wealth. Minimizing or, better yet, eliminating the tax take. Cramming down the (often exorbitant) fees from accountants, agents, managers, legal counsel. Bitter disputes with ex-partners because, while relationship failure rates were no higher than average, the cost of a failed relationship was huge in terms of cash outlay. Relationships were definitely more difficult, though, because however hard the individuals tried, money came into them. Always the unasked but ever-present question was “are you just after my money?”

    A significant amount of free time of high or ultra high net worth individuals ended up being devoted to managing their wealth. And the things they bought with their wealth (when they were not afraid to spend it, often they were) were chronic time-stealers: country estates, vacation homes, yachts, cars, racehorses started off as being distractions or novelties but became like sticky toffee papers, you enjoyed consuming them but couldn’t easily get rid of the mess they made afterwards.

    And similarly, when I volunteered at a treatment centre for drug and alcohol abuse, the patients were rarely — if at all — impoverished from the get-go. If they had money problems it was as a result of practicing their addiction first rather than “turning to” addiction as a result of dealing with poverty as is commonly held. Conversely, many patients had more money than they could ever possibly spend.

    This all certainly ties in with my own experience too. The more money I have — I won’t say the more miserable I become, that isn’t quite the right word — the more it prays on my mind about “how to make best use of it”. More money certainly does not bring more happiness.

    1. j84ustin

      The more money I have — I won’t say the more miserable I become, that isn’t quite the right word — the more it prays on my mind about “how to make best use of it”.

      So very true. And I’ve only gone from poor to “middle class”!

    2. Jim Haygood

      Ms. Pamela Downs of Kingsport in Tennessee certainly agrees:

      Inside her purse, the officer found a $100 bill which was counterfeit, according to the report. The bill was printed in black and white and the backside of the bill was upside down.

      A couple of receipts from Walmart were also found inside the purse, showing Downs had purchased copy paper and a printer.

      At that point she was arrested, and she gave the best money-counterfeiting “defense” we have heard in a long time:

      I don’t give a sh*t, all these other b*tches get to print money so I can too.

      As the MMT professors tell us, you should stop printing money before it causes problems. Unfortunately, this is like a teenaged boy telling his girlfriend that “I’ll stop before I get you pregnant.” :-(

      1. Clive

        Ha ! That one is right up there with the time that “representatives” from the “adult entertainment” “industry” went to Capitol Hill during the depths of the GFC to say they’d fallen on hard times and to ask “where’s our bail out?”

        1. fresno dan

          February 13, 2017 at 9:48 am

          I kinda thought “hard” times for adult entertainers were “soft” times…..

    3. paul

      That lass has certainly done much to highlight the problem, she’s hardly been out of the local rags since she won, and her predicament is regularly updated to her 17,000 twitter followers (!).
      I think michael carroll had the right idea, blew 9 mill in four years (mostly drugs,cars and prostitutes – wasted the rest). I think he works in a biscuit factory up in Nairn nowadays.
      Seriously,its a bit twisted that the lottery, with its outlandish odds, isn’t for 18 years and over, like voting and other uk gambling activites.

      1. MtnLife

        I’ve known two people that suddenly came into money. One was living with his wife and two kids in a tiny two bedroom apartment before receiving an 8 figure inheritance from a distant relative. He does still like to work as it keeps him out of trouble (ish). Hasn’t kept him out of rehab twice or his marriage together but he is still pretty down to earth.
        The other guy received a multi million dollar settlement and blew over a quarter million on cocaine alone in the first 6 months. He got dragged off to rehab and we never saw him again.
        Some days I’m actually thankful I’m not rich.

        1. polecat

          Oh Heyzeus on a stick !! … what’s wrong with these people ??!! .. Do they not have vision ?

          I would’ve bought some arable land with water rights, in some out-of-the way boonyville, trying to eek out a sustainable living, and being one with the forces of nature …… !

          but no ….. lets just blow it all on smack, nose candy, and hookers …..


          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Everyone is unique, so the lesson may not apply to the reader.

            The moral of the story is not money is bad (the rich do want to brainwash you to think that though).

            It’s this – you need training from a young age to handle money. Those born with money know that. Their parents give them plenty of experience spending money. Gradually, they master the art of having a lot of money.

            So, we should continue to give more money to the Little People, preferably from the day we are born.

            Don’t let this scare you into thinking to yourself: I am glad I don’t have that much money.

            Never think like that!

            1. MtnLife

              You’re right, I should amend that statement to: I hope I never become rich quickly.

              I do know a number of wealthy people who have no issue with it but they all either were born into it or gained it slowly through business. The problem seems to be when you go from living on $30k/yr to $3million/yr without time to properly process it mentally.

              Personally I agree with polecat and Praedor about moving into the hinterlands and being self sufficient as possible.

              1. gepay

                on the other hand I have been so poor that I had to think about money as constantly as a miser. I made “poor” decisions because often the cheapest way doesn’t cost the least in the not too long run. It took 20 years of middle class living and raising children to change my core assumptions about how to spend money to a healthier attitude. I thank the woman I married.

            2. djrichard

              The moral of the story is not money is bad (the rich do want to brainwash you to think that though).

              Eh, I don’t know. The moral of the story in the particular case of this lottery winner seems to align pretty well with Jesus’s admonitions against obsessing over treasure in this world, ““For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

              Unfortunately in my case I have the reverse problem. I just want to pay off personal debt. But I think I’ve made it too much a critical path issue, that in a way it’s become my treasure.

        2. Procopius

          I remember reading some (former) hedge fund manager saying, “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money.”

    4. Praedor

      I would be VERY happy to just win it big in a lottery. No stress to me. No worries about the tax take…hell, even after all the taxes it would leave enough to live comfortably for the rest of my life, never worrying about whether I can afford needed healthcare.

      I’d buy some land (few hundred acres, preferably with a stream/creek running through it somewhere) and stick a modest 3 bedroom home on it. Done. Keep my horses, dogs, chickens, goats all fed and happy, and my garden growing. Sell off the mineral rights into a Conservation Easement so it can NEVER be developed even after I’m gone. No more 9 to 5. No more stress over whether I have enough retirement saved up to actually be able to retire. No worry about whether or not my wife loves me “for the money” because she has already been there BEFORE there was any hint of money. Ability to travel when I feel like it, on MY schedule, not on some barely adequate job permitted week or two now and again. Easy peasy.

      I’d do this quickly and quietly, drop out of sight except for my immediate family (who would each receive a “relatives bonus” too).

      Me thinks the unhappy people are simply defective on a personal/moral/ethical level.

      1. paul

        Knowing someone who has won, it is quite a disorientating experience, especially in relation to other family members. However,they haven’t really changed.
        I think it helps if you’ve always been ‘careful’ about money.

        1. Praedor

          I don’t know that I’d say I’m “careful” about money…I just don’t care about it much beyond “Do I have enough to live?” By “live” I mean not live, just barely, or paycheck to paycheck. I mean enough to buy new clothes when my old wears out, enough to buy a decent TV (no big screens…40″ is about the biggest I need) when the old one just doesn’t cut it. Enough to pay the vet or farrier when they come out to deal with my 2 horses, etc. I like toys as much as the next guy but my toys are not Ferrari’s, Mercedes, a Lexus, etc. My toys are not a big mansion (why do I need a house bigger than 1800-2000 sq/ft? THAT’S plenty of room.

          As long as I can buy/maintain a few nice tools, keep a simple, fuel efficient car happy, buy ammo and acoutrements for my rifle and handgun (a hobby I enjoy), take my wife out to dinner or a movie or on a nice vacation…all’s good.

          I’d be more interested in spending the bulk of my new-found winnings in this scenario on as much land as I could afford with assurance that I can live decently for the rest of my life. Land to use as just open space, habitat, protected zone. Set up some butterfly habitat, some deer habitat, raccoon habitat, coyote habitat, maybe setup a large fish pond too.

          Oh, one special toy I’d love to have: this ultralight

      2. Clive

        I hate to be some sort of anti-fairy godmother, but while you may well think that your wife loves you now and would love you just the same if you got a load of money, money changes people. Right now, she can love you and your attitude to money (including what you’d do with it if you had it) safe in the knowledge that you don’t have that kind of money. But there’s a whole world of difference between evaluating something — and someone — in an abstract theoretical way compared with dealing with that abstract made into reality.

        But immediately you became rich, you’ve got choices you didn’t have to respond to before. Take the money and throw it in the Hudson? That’s a choice. Buy some land? That’s a choice, Give a bit of it to so-and-so (friends… family members who ask for it) or don’t? Another choice. Keep doing the work you currently do or give up? More choices. More consequences. More decisions. It is not the presence of just a few, well-known, familiar decisions that causes the stress, but rather the unavoidable emergence of hundreds of new, unfamiliar decisions (and not deciding on a matter is still a decision) that causes the psychological impact.

        Plus, if you can’t use the lack of money as an excuse for your unhappiness, the demand (from your own psyche and other peoples’ attitudes) to be happy — or not sad — what excuse are you going to come up with and what implications are there for you when you look back on your life and all the times you’ve said “right now I’d be okay if I had more money …” only to now discover that it wasn’t the lack of money that was causing you to be unhappy but something else you didn’t have to recognise because you had your own handy, ready-made reason?

        1. paul

          …and who do you tell?
          Past the socially awkward ones, you might come to the attention of local entrepreneurs, as M Carroll (cited above) did and find yourself handing over 130 large at the wrong end of a shotgun.

        2. Praedor

          No. It’s lack of needed money.

          I NEED/WANT a couple artificial spinal disc replacements. Lower back. In Europe, I’d already have gotten them from their VASTLY superior healthcare systems years ago (be it France, Germany, even Britain) at a fraction of the cost for it here. Insurance wont cover something like that in the US because even though it has been done FOR DECADES in Europe, in the US it’s still called “experimental” (multiple disc replacements). To pay for it here would cost upwards of $30k EACH. Instead, I get what the insurance will pay for: an electrical implant to short-circuit back pain without actually correcting the problem causing the backpain (degenerated/damaged lumbar discs causing bone to contact bone and nerves to be compressed).

          Money for that WOULD make me VERY happy. Money to buy/own a large piece of land with a house on it about the same size as my current (3 bedroom, ~1800 sq/ft) would make me VERY happy. My wife too. We are both very much the same in our likes/dislikes. She’d LOVE for me to be the big source of money at this stage. Her career makes her the bigger breadwinner in our pairing by about 40%. She’d be more than happy to be able to cut loose and not do her job anymore. I’d be happy to see her able to drop her job and for me to not need one either. She comes from a family that has a fair amount of money in it to begin with, but we wont see any of it until people start dying and we don’t actually want THAT to happen. Money would relax us both because money comes up short often: we can’t go on a vacation we wanted to take because one of our horses got sick and needed care that ended up costing quite a bit. A dog has cancer and the chemo drugs cost a lot (horses and dogs are NOT things to be dispensed with when inconvenient, they are FAMILY).

          Money WOULD make us both breath easier and be happier. The stressors we DO experience are always related to money. A disaster occurs at the most inopportune moment and there’s goes our extra cash. Poof!

        3. PlutoniumKun

          Best approach to a money windfall is a story I was told by a land valuer a couple of years ago. So far as I’m aware it is true.

          The valuer was talking to a farmer who had sold his farm in Ireland in 2006 to a major developer for 25 million euro. The condition of the sale was that the farmer would keep farming as normal until the planning application went in so the developers competitors didn’t know what was going on. The 2007 crash came and wiped out the developer. The farmer then bought back the land for its agricultural price post-crash of less than 5 million. Nobody but the farmer and the developer and the developers creditor knew about the deal.

          The valuer asked the farmer what his family thought of all this. ‘They don’t know’ he said. His kids were teenagers and he thought they’d be ‘spoilt’ if they knew they were rich and wouldn’t study. And he said his wife would just ‘go a little mad’ so he decided not to tell her either. When he asked when the farmer would tell his family he said ‘oh, it’ll be a nice surprise when the kids have graduated from Uni and got jobs, and it will be a retirement surprise for my wife’. The farmer didn’t even buy himself a new car. He was happier that way, and he was probably right that his family were happier too.

          1. Praedor

            Nice, except for the authoritarian/I know best attitude vis a vis his wife. HE’S good enough, smart enough, controlled enough to handle being rich but not his wife! Oh no, SHE’D “go mad”. Silly woman.

            My wife would know as soon as I had it confirmed. No one else would until I handed them a windfall (pay off mortgages, student debt, etc).

          2. Clive

            Well, I knew a similar case where someone kept their sudden wealth a secret from everyone including their spouse. By accident (it was a bank error, you can imagine the you-know-what that hit the fan afterwards!) their spouse discovered their hidden hoard. They went to a divorce lawyer within a week.

            The court took a very dim view of the secret (well, not so secret now…) millionaire’s actions and the now-ex spouse got a lot in the settlement, way over 50%. The kids disowned him believing that he hadn’t trusted them (and really, he hadn’t).

            He then, understandably you might feel, got embroiled in legal action against the bank, who got their horriblest legal team engaged to shred his reputation. An illegitimate child then turned up from a brief dalliance way way back who’d somehow gotten wind of this pretty little mess. I lost track after that of what happened but the bits I got to know were bad enough.

            Honestly, I thought afterwards, is always the best policy…

        4. Anne

          As much as people don’t think it will, money changes everything – and everyone, I think. People who were married mostly because they couldn’t afford not to be, now have the freedom to divorce – and what are the chances there’s no wrangling over who gets what? People who thought their problems would be solved if only they had enough money to pay the bills, find out that they aren’t as happy as they expected to be. The jealousy and envy and resentment at one’s great good luck poison even the best of friendships. You don’t want to be friends with people whose bank accounts are the same size as yours – and they likely wouldn’t want to be your friend, either – so maybe you get stuck with no friends and a suspicion that people who want to be your friend really just want to be friends with your money.

          If ever I won something sizeable, I wouldn’t touch a dime of it until I had a real plan. In Maryland, lottery winners can remain anonymous, and you can be sure that’s exactly what we’d do. I don’t need the world to know our business!

          I’d make annual exclusion gifts to the kids and grandkids – which, with the ability to split them with my husband means we could each give $14,000 to each child, each spouse and each grandchild. We’d make similar gifts to our extended families, as well. I’d want to put more sizeable amounts in trust, with provisions for when and at what ages they could access portions of the principal. My husband and I would create additional trusts for ourselves.

          I’d get good investment, financial and legal advisors on board at the start.

          I’d like to start a foundation and use it to give back to people in need.

          I like where we live, but I’d make some improvements to the house – maybe add on, redo the kitchen, etc. We’d buy more land in the area. I’d like to take the whole family on a nice trip somewhere.

          At 63, I’d definitely quit my job. More time with the grandkids!

          Honestly, it’s the best entertainment one can get for a dollar (we did just recently win $5,000 on a scratch-off ticket; it’s going to help pay for the new roof we’re putting on the house).

          1. polecat

            Hell yeah !! …..

            …. without a (sound) roof over one’s head …. what’s left ?

            I have the quandary of deciding whether to pay the fucking ‘cACA mandate’ this spring … or kick that dough into the much needed roofing fund …. hummm ??

    5. hreik

      Money cannot make one happy. It can make you materially comfortable though and ease your mind about paying for this or that. You trade one anxiety for another. That’s all. If you have kids it’s eaten up and even if not, you can save and help them. Most are going to need it unless something fundamental changes in the old USofA

      1. neo-realist

        Money cannot make one happy

        I’ll take the extra anxieties as long as more $$$ gives me the ability to retire earlier (sleeping late from not having to get up for a 9 to 5 gig is a very good thing:)) and travel more—That would make me happy, I am very sure.

        I don’t have kids so that helps:).

        1. jrs

          I don’t care about travel. I’d like to be able to buy a house rather than worry whether I can afford a studio apartment in 10 years from now. But yea I’d quit work, that goes without saying, that’s the main thing, ok that’s the ONLY thing, not to have to work.

    6. Altandmain

      Clive, here’s an article that your anecdote gave me a reminder of:

      It is a big argument for a steeply progressive tax and very high inheritance taxes, especially at the top levels. You could also make a case that it is desperately needed since the marginal value of money may reach a point where it is stagnant – or perhaps even negative, while poor people desperately need it.

      1. Clive

        I agree. I’d implement — when my omnipotence is acknowledged and I rule the world — a 90% tax rate on all income over £1m (or equivalent) income p.a. and a similar rate of inheritance tax on estates above £10m with draconian sentencing for evasion.

        1. paul

          But then nobody would invest and innovate leading us to end up eating each other…but I suppose we’re heading that way already.

    7. crittermom

      I read the article & then some of the comments.
      One said it best:
      “Complains about the money then sues to get more. Euromillions whiner.”

      She was offered unending counseling on how to handle the money, but ‘didn’t understand it’. So now she wants to sue? Ridiculous. Absurd.

      I’ve always thought there should be a cap on the winnings. If one person wins hundreds of millions & then goes broke buying foolish things (Oh, look. Shiny!), who has benefitted (other than very high-end stores where they chose to spend it?)
      And apparently, there’d be less chance of someone becoming ‘miserable’ from too much wealth.

      Yet if there were a cap such as $50 million & then another drawing for the next $50 million & on down the line for each drawing, the odds would be much better that not all of those folks would be stupid with the money & the wealth would be spread around better. More winners. Literally.

      True, the lottery sales may then decrease as some may quit playing if they could only win $50 million, but even if the govt took half ($25 million) in taxes, that still leaves a hefty sum to enjoy & invest. I sure as hell wouldn’t complain!

      Or, could it be that more people would play, since the odds of winning a large amount would be better?

      Who needs hundreds of millions to live on? (Don’t ask that of the 1%)

      Thoughts, readers?

    8. craazyman

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      1. Clive

        I am leaning more towards a bursary to the University of Magonia for the foundation of the Clive Faculty. This new wing will build on the proud and noble tradition of this great seat of learning but also serve as a national and international Centre of Excellence in the teaching of IT with a particular — and much needed from what I can tell because the current low levels of attainment in US citizens in this field is depressingly obvious — focus on how and how not to plan and implement major system changes such as for new sovereign currency issuance.

        An educational niche to be sure, but the benefits to mankind — and womankind too, there’s going to be special scholarships for “suitably qualified” women students — will be substantial and run for many generations to come.

        What better use could anyone’s money be put to?

  11. Jean

    Re: Four of Iceland’s main volcanoes all preparing for eruption

    When it comes to analysis of volcanoes and news stories about them, I recommend VolcanoCafe. It’s sorta like Naked Capitalism but with geophysics and lava :-)

    “First of all let me state that I deeply respect Páll as a geophysicist, problem is just that he is probably the most misquoted and misinterpreted scientist on the planet. The problem is that he is talking about geological timeframes and he uses words like “shortly” and “soon” in that context and then the journalist happily thinks he is talking about the next few weeks…”

    1. Praedor

      Ah. So by Pall’s words/timeframe, the Yellowstone supervolcanoe is set to erupt “soon”, meaning soon in geologic time, not human time.

      No problem.

      1. polecat

        ….. unless the russians …” Squirrel “………….. kick-start Vulcan into doin his thang …… right ? ‘;]

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if it was the same misquotation that the world was created in 7 days, each day a geological day.

      And the same mistake the savior said, hope and change will come shortly and soon.

      1. Skip Intro

        The order is roughly correct, and might correspond to the big bang and evolution. I don’t think the length of each day is the same though.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Wow, there is a lot there! Thanks (though I confess I am unlikely to wade through all those PDFs)!

  12. cocomaan

    Anyone else not give a damn if the National Security Council is in turmoil?

    It’s not like they’ve been stellar on the job lately, between antagonizing Russia in Ukraine, antagonizing China in the S China Sea, destabilizing the entire Middle East (and much of Africa), watching the EU fall downward into oblivion, and taking resources away from the biggest security threat of all, namely the hollowed-out US economy.

    Also, much of the pearl clutching about Trump/Russia/China/Taiwan has been “they aren’t allowed to talk to those people!” So, Trump isn’t allowed to talk to Taiwan, Flynn isn’t allowed to talk to Russia, etc. What’s with refusing to talk to anyone?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not so much that they are talking, as (given the nature of past and present such contacts) what they are talking ABOUT. I imagine high-ups talked to the Pope about that edict that divided up the “New World” between the Spaniards and the Portuguese, and Hitler “talking” with Stalin in the run-up to WW II, The Sequel.

      And of course on the really big scale, all that “corruption,” where the Commons is reduced to private lootable “ownership.”

      Apocryphal tale, where “talking” may have helped avoid conflict and created a modified “commons” in the deal:

      The exaggerated name “Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg” (/ˌleɪk tʃɚˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/),[8][9] is a 45-letter alternative name for this body of fresh water, often cited as the longest place name in the United States[10] and one of the longest in the world. Many area residents, as well as the official website of the town of Webster, consider the longer version correct.[11]

      The humorous translation is: “You fish on your side, I’ll fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle”. Both the exaggerated name and its humorous translation were apparently invented by Laurence J. Daly, editor of The Webster Times.

      And along come the “Colonists,” with the same notions as the “colonists” displacing other natives in Giza and the West Bank…

      1. cocomaan

        Not so much that they are talking, as (given the nature of past and present such contacts) what they are talking ABOUT.

        It seems to me that this has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with what Max Weber talked about as one of the inherent properties of bureaucracy, the secret meeting. That concept has been taken to its most ridiculous end in the “state secret”, based off a court case in which no secrets were even revealed. Trying not to be pedantic here, but we don’t know at all what any of our diplomats talk about or how they are carving up our country every time they talk with a foreign dignitary.

        But that is a great example with the Lake Whose Name Invokes Peace.

      2. Vatch

        longest place name in the United States[10] and one of the longest in the world.

        This reminds me of the official ceremonial name of Bangkok, the short version of which is “Krung Thep”. It’s much more elaborate than “Ciudad de Los Angeles”, although the meaning is surprisingly similar.

        Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit

        City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.

        I wonder whether Thai school children are required to memorize that?

        1. RabidGandhi

          That’s actually “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula” to those less familiar, but her closer acquaintances just call her L.A. for short.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The first dwellers here called it by a different name.

            From Los Angeles, Wikipedia:

            A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ (written Yang-na by the Spanish), which has been translated as “poison oak place”.[18][19] Yang-na has also been translated as “the valley of smoke”.

            And it’s still smoky today.

          2. JTMcPhee

            My home town (darn it):

            Given the city’s roots, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that “Chicago” derives from a Native American word. However, there are different theories about which specific word it was derived from. The Native Americans who populated the area before European settlement had several different words that sounded similar to Chicago. One of the popular theories is that it was named after a chieftain named Chicagou who was reportedly drowned in the Chicago River. Other ideas about the origin include a derivative of “shecaugo” meaning “playful waters” or “chocago” meaning “destitute.” The origin of the name is wildly contested among academics due to the small number of documents contemporary to the time of Chicago’s establishment that actually discuss how it was named.

            All that being said, the most accepted name origin is the Miami-Illinois word “shikaakwa,” which means “striped skunk” or “smelly onion”. Not exactly a glamorous name origin either way, right? Most historians think that the “onion” version is correct because the Miami-Illinois were known for naming natural landmarks after plants that grew in or near them, while naming something after an animal was a rarity.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              More fun with native names. From Wiki, about today’s town du jour, Sacramento:

              In 1808, the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River. A Spanish writer with the Moraga expedition wrote: “Canopies of oaks and cottonwoods, many festooned with grapevines, overhung both sides of the blue current. Birds chattered in the trees and big fish darted through the pellucid depths. The air was like champagne, and (the Spaniards) drank deep of it, drank in the beauty around them. “Es como el sagrado sacramento! (It’s like the Blessed Sacrament.)”[13] The valley and the river were then christened after the “Most Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ”, referring to the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist


              Today, thanks to generous campaign contribution donors, the place still reeks of champagne.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I’d make a couple of points….

      1) It’s part of the campaign to undermine Trump to portray his administration as ALWAYS in turmoil/chaos. It’s part of the color revolution playbook. They’ll portray internal chaos with articles suggesting political infighting, and external chaos with more coverage of protest groups. I saw this kind of look in Brazil where the media was constantly yelling “corruption!!!” and “massive protests!!!”

      2) If there really IS some kind of unusual level of turmoil, maybe it means they all get in each other’s way and can’t start up new wars?

  13. Marco

    RE “The Labor Movement Must Learn…”

    Thanks! Must read for me today. Can you blame rank and file voting for Trump? And where have we seen this before? Just like the rot at the top of our higher education institutions we see a similar “crapification” / shortsightedness in the strategies pushed by “management” in Labor. Also curious what McAlevey problems were with SEIU national. Putting my tin-foil hat on here…but one has to speculate about infiltration / sabatage at the top of Labor National Orgs and whether a serious PURGE is needed.

    1. Montanamaven

      Any talk about labor organizing has got to include doing away with mandatory dues. All that money makes for corruption and not solidarity. Labor needs to go back to the concept of mutual aid at the local level and cooperatives. No need for any kind of bosses including labor bosses.

      1. fosforos

        And the NLRB as well. The right to organize is absolute (first amendment) as is the right to strike (thirteenth amendment). A real labor movement forcefully enforces those rights–without and against the government and the courts.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Please help — my browser made hash out of the article on the Labor Movement from the Nation. [Besides — I used to subscribe to the Nation until found I was completely unable to read an entire article — my eyes would gloss over passing from paragraph to paragraph to page to pages searching for the point of the Nation’s articles. Sometimes even the poetry in the Nation was clearer than the writing.]

      From the two comments so far am I correct in guessing that the Nation article is elaborating on the disconnect between union leadership and the union rank and file? If so — how is that a new discovery? I thought the co-option of union leadership was very old news. I recall the ending of Animal Farm where the men and the pigs sit together and the animals can’t tell the pigs from the men — and recall the ending of the German movie of the Three-Penny Opera where Mack-the-Knife sits down with the bankers — and I thought C.Wright Mills was explicit in placing Union Leaders among the Power Elite in his book by that title — and I recently studied a George Grosz political cartoon from the 1930’s: “Einheitsfront” [a title evoking a workers song by that name from that era]. Didn’t organized crime also dabble in the co-option of labor through their efforts in the Teamsters Union? And correct me if I’m wrong here — I thought the Corporate acceptance of union organizations in the 1930’s U.S. was a compromise worked to curb wildcat strikes and sabotage and establish some control over the labor movement — and make tacit arrangements for establishing the co-option of union leaders.

      The best I could tell — the Nation article seemed to hint around at the co-option of Union Management by detailing the latest baloney strategies and tactics used to provide Kabuki entertainment for the rank-and-file. What did I miss?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        You should find a way to read the article because it is worthwhile. It is an interview with Jane McAlevey, based on her long experience as a union organizer and some case study research she has done for a later-in-life dissertation. (IMO most dissertations in social science are done by very young people with virtually no real life experience who don’t really know anything.)

        The most interesting thing to me was her comparison of two home health-care workers unions, SEIU 775 in Seattle, probably the most praised union in the US today, led by the charismatic labor superstar, David Rolf, and 1199 in Massachusetts, of which I could not tell you who any of their leaders are, goes on strike fairly often, and apparently wins much better contracts than 775. Then she says a lot of nice things about a non-profit called Make the Road NY, of which I know relatively little but which is not what anyone would call a union.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I would push back very strongly on the notion that most labor leaders are out of touch with their members.

        1. Union members are all over the map, some much more risk-tolerant than their leadership, some much less, and some about the same. The vast majority of union leaders are a) elected in fair elections, b) try to serve their members, esp those that elected them, as best they can and c) can easily be voted out of office if members prefer a different approach.

        2. People who claim that union leaders do not represent their members are invariably either (not union members themselves or) more risk tolerant than their union leadership (they want to strike more often, file more grievances, all-in-all take a harder line with management) or they have leaders who are more risk-tolerant that they are and fear those leaders are hot heads who could easily lead to worse outcomes than currently exist. The former are almost always incorrect, in that most members are generally not of the opinion that union leadership not aggressive enough, and the latter are virtually always correct (and those leaders end up getting voted out of office).

        3. Most union leaders are willing (and sometimes eager) to take a harder line with management than their members are, but typically are very cautious in doing so, so as not to “get ahead of the membership.”

        4. The union members I see voting for Trump are much more disgusted with the D Party than they are with their union, though many wonder why their union persists in only endorsing D’s, many of whom hate unions.

        Not always, but that is what I see.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for your help. I’ll see if I can cut and paste just the text of the article into a file. What I could read of the article didn’t bode well for my complaints about the quality of the writing and its long winded elliptical style.

          Your comment below [1:44 PM] does not help entice me to read the Jane McAlevey interview and the good things she has to say. Unions are for and serve dues paying union members. The pay raises the unions get/got help raise the level of pay for all including many of the professional and managerial classes who all too frequently serve as strike breakers. But as long as our laws work to make unions illegal, support out-sourcing and off-shoring and encourage continuous immigration of competing workers — Labor will pull the short-straw regardless of whatever nostrums McAlevey may elaborate.

          Labor has a mixed history. Unions practice feather-bedding and stifle innovations. Labor and Capital have contrived together to stifle innovation in the construction industry. As capital imported a sea of non-union labor — scabs — they were easily lead to oppose union labor as a matter of survival. The problems with unions are reflections and consequences of underlying problems with our society.

          To clarify what seems a misapprehension — I worked for GM Delco and benefited from the Autoworkers Union even though I was a low-level worker on an engineering staff. I haven’t forgotten where my COFA came from. I am encouraging my son to find employment in a trade and constantly emphasize the importance of joining the union. I like to work with glass and am quickly coming to think in terms of a need to recreate Guilds to protect the products of labor and imagination. So — I am not at all opposed to unions. After a lifetime spent in the workplace I remain skeptical of leaders and managers of all categories. And I twice subscribed to the Nation magazine at different points in time and both times let my subscriptions run out in disgust at the quality of its writing and the wide-reaching irrelevance and too frequent cluelessness of most of its content.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            CORRECTION — COFA should be COLA — it’s been so long since I saw one of those I forgot how to spell it.

          2. Katharine

            Regarding your complaint about the quality of the writing, I think the problem here is mostly due to this being an interview. I almost always find them too hit-or-miss, the interviewer having had a list of questions to get through and not the quasi-miraculous gift of following the conversation naturally and still covering them; and inevitably someone responding orally is unlikely to be as coherent as someone who has sat down to write and rewrite a piece. I sometimes skip links when I discover they are for interviews, but this one had some value for me.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I’ll push back on your push back about most union labor leaders being out of touch with their members. Divide the category “most union leaders” into two subcategories — local union leaders, perhaps regional labor leaders — and the national labor leaders who head the giant union organizations. I think we can agree that most of union leaders in the first category are not out of touch with their members. If we differ — I believe we differ in our opinions of the national labor leadership.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      Look, organized labor has been dying since Taft-Hartley was passed in 1947, slowly at first, then more rapidly. Yes, there are lots of lousy union leaders (mostly elected by their members) but lots of truly excellent ones who are doing the best they can. Yes, the big (private sector) unions of old have lost their appetite for the fight but that is primarily because they, and their members, are in declining industries with aging workforces who are still well-paid relative to the pay they would be able to get if they lost their current jobs, and both leaders and members recognize that duty #1 to dues-paying members (as opposed to “duty” to non-members or society at large, which IMO is a dubious concept) is to try to get as many to retirement as possible. SEIU and the public sector unions are a different animal. But I would argue their main problem is that there is no way for them to do better for their members without the rest of us hating them more because we can’t improve our own situation. So they appear “selfish,” which is a weird diss for an organization whose main task is to improve its members’ standards of living.

      Jane McAlevey has a lot of good things to say but she often gives the impression that all of the problems with today’s unions could be solved with better, more committed organizing. I have been informally tracking union “success” stories, the ones that are used in articles on the subject “why can’t unions do more of this?,” for the last 40 years. They fall into two categories: very old stories that become mythologized, like “Justice for Janitors” in LA, which no doubt did many good things for LA janitors but I don’t see in any way influential, or even necessarily relevant, to most current labor struggles, or stories about pilot projects or “new” ventures that are never again reported on because three years later there is nothing there.

      The problem is not the quality of labor leaders; after all, if members were unhappy, they could always vote in someone else. (Yes, I know lots of unions mess with election rules but it is simply not true that many current labor leaders are immune from electoral challenge or that many opposition candidates lose elections they would win due to election shenanigans.) Also, look at some labor history from the 1930s. The notion that labor leadership was better then than it is now is laughable. Movements on the front side of history don’t depend on leadership.

      John R Commons nailed the issue 100 years ago. Unions organize a labor market in response to worker agitation and employers immediately set about destabilizing, usually by relocating production outside the labor market that has been organized. Sometimes, typically when employers can still profit under union organization and the state agrees to “institutionalize” a particular union-management accord, that accord can appear stable. But beneath the surface employers ever and always look for ways to destabilize it, and eventually they succeed.

      We are in such a period now, where unions are not able to match union organizations up to labor markets, so there is no coherence and no way to achieve labor gains. Yes, it should in theory be possible to organize the many workers whose employers are site-bound: mostly service-sector and public-sector jobs (though outsourcing remains a problem). But, in addition to the working-class resentment that emerges when they get theirs but I can’t get mine, there has never been a case of a successful union movement that was not strongly represented in export-competitive industries.

  14. oho

    >Why Cities Are Demolishing Freeways The American Conservative

    I’m surprised that–being in the “American Conservative”–the article didn’t rant about how highways/sprawl are one of the biggest legacies of 1930’s-70’s era big, interventionist government planning.

    Ironically if urban planners let Mr. Market dictate transportation policy, there would’ve been a lot less highways cutting through American cities and today’s cities would look more like the “New Urbanism” ideal.

    1. JTMcPhee

      From what I have observed over decades, “Mr. Market,” which of course includes all the corruption and leverage that “the market” creates and applies, has in fact “dictated transportation policy.” Along with so much else. What gets built is what the “secret meetings” and “incentives” and various pressures on the legitimizing fronts called Planning Commissions and and various boards and the local and state legislatures bring into being. The “leaders” in bedroom communities like the one I grew up in bring the “demands” for rail lines and of course the forking Highway system and malls and the death of community and comity, miles of garage doors facing the streets of Slurbia… Groaf Rules!

      1. Vatch

        I agree with you JTMcPhee. If urban growth had been planned, it would be less messy. Instead, many of our urban areas have expanded chaotically like tumors (and markets).

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The notion the invisible hand of Mr. Market on our transportation systems would craft the magic kingdom of the New Urbanism ideal seems quite as fanciful as the New Urbanism ideal. I think you need to look at some of the cities developed without the benefits of urban planning to get a better idea of the workings of Mr. Market — old world cities of Asia or some of the New World cities in South America developed without planning around their ancient cores [I’m deliberately vague about examples to avoid debate about whose cities are the worst planned.]

      I feel very crabby today. I read the article about tearing down highways as an indication of the declines in Federal matching funds for highway construction, and the mismanaged and declining funds in state and city coffers — besides — highways benefit suburban commuters in outlying incorporated areas which don’t contribute to downtown city coffers. Nice to have a noble purpose for not doing something you lack the funds for. The article didn’t mention details for how tearing down the highways created all the wonderful income, jobs and benefits. I smell so-called public-private ventures in the works. [How did the development of downtown Winooski, Vermont work out? It’s been several years since I last visited. My favorite restaurant there “Waterworks” and the shopping center in the old mill building were being “developed” and surrounded by what looked like empty office high rise buildings staring down from around the town center.]

      Didn’t Eisenhower develop the freeway system — at least in part — out of concern for being able to defend the U.S. from coast-to-coast? The automobile, glass, and tire industries were also big proponents of course.

  15. Lynne

    Re the Women’s Study piece: Does anyone else find it ironic that this was written by a white woman? Or that it contents itself with conglomerating a few basic conclusions that have been repeated for years now, which it passes off as obvious fact with no support (other than a cite to one 13-page article) in what is supposed to be a journal of “scholarly” match to politics? Getting close to the get off my lawn — as well as the “when I was in university” — stage here.

    1. Dandelion

      Yes, all these articles and claims actually erase significant feminist work done by Black and Latina women in the Scond Wave. I’ve yet to find any contemporary critic of Scond Wave feminism who’s gone into the archives to read primary source material, which is necessary because almost all Second Wave writing is now out of print. But of course the whole purpose is to keep 50% of the population divided.

      1. JTFaraday

        Agree. It’s suddenly become very fashionable to be completely full of shit. I’m just surprised this ignorant claptrap wasn’t written by a white MAN.

        I didn’t vote for Trump, so I’m going to go around saying whatever I want.

  16. Anne

    Stephen Miller, on Face the Nation yesterday:

    Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many case a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is — is — is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

    The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

    Miller hit all the Sunday shows, and in the three that I saw – Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation – he fired his talking points – most of which were just utter bullshit – with a level of zeal that was disconcerting, if not downright terrifying. I’m not usually someone who brings up comparisons to Nazis, but I have to say that again and again, he said things for which an enthusiastic “Sieg Heil!” seemed like the only appropriate way to respond.

    He lied about the voter fraud issue, over and over again, insisting that thousands had been bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally – but offered exactly zero evidence of it.

    I guess the administration wasn’t going to put Kellyanne Conway out there, after the third week in a row where she’s put her foot in her mouth, they’ve moved away from Priebus (such a worm, that man), who seems to have fallen out of favor, Sean Spicer has already become a caricature of himself, thanks to SNL and Melissa McCarthy, so Miller was next man up. And by all accounts, Trump loved his performance.

    It made my skin crawl, because this is clearly not someone just collecting a paycheck; this man is a true believer.

    He’s got dead eyes, too, which may be what completed the ensemble for me.

    1. Ranger Rick

      In a way, we are still dealing with the aftershocks of World War II. FDR transformed the office and powers of the presidency in ways that his successors would later expand on. It’s just amusing from a historical irony perspective that people are just now coming to terms with the fact that the President can unilaterally start World War III thanks to the AUMF.

      1. Jim Haygood

        FDR’s WWII wage controls accidentally gave us the employer-provided health coverage model. How’s that workin’ out for us?

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          We have employer-sponsored health care because employers, with the help of rightwing politicians, refused to consider national health care when the unions put it on the table and the large employers ponied up employer-funded health care to get the unions to shut up. It wasn’t FDR and there was nothing accidental about it.

        2. JTMcPhee

          It worked pretty good, until the greedheads figured out how to game it. Who brought us Obamacare, again?

          Viva La Libertariano!

    2. Katharine

      I don’t watch those shows, but just reading his remarks as quoted in the Guardian made me ask where’s John Dean when we need him. Slap this kid down now!

      According to Wikipedia, he’s 31, not quite a kid but hardly suitable for a senior official, and has no law degree, and he’s making all these grandiose pronouncements condemning members of Congress (including some who do) for daring to criticize the executive order he wrote. As far as I am concerned, there are too many sick minds in the White House.

    3. broadsteve

      Had a similar reaction to the paragraph you highlighted. That anyone in the public realm in a democracy could think in those terms, let alone choose to articulate them…frightening.

  17. David

    Just to note that the Al Jazeera article on Le Pen is not only superficial, it also ignores (curiously) the most important form of media, which is television. By law, all candidates basically get equal time during the campaign itself, and Le Pen (and Florian Philippot, the articulate and openly gay Deputy Leader) have been on TV quite a bit already Le Pen was on for two hours last week. I only watched bits of it, because the programme degenerated into the two other guests (Najat Vallaud-Belkachem, the talent-free Education Minister and Patrick Buisson, one of Sarkozy’s clan) trying to shout her down. But she held her own pretty effectively. The story is right that the traditional print media, from notional Left to extreme Right, will go berserk against Le Pen because they are solidly neoliberal and pro EU, but trying to read across the media dynamics of the Clinton-Trump, or even Brexit, episodes, would be a mistake here.

  18. Vatch

    Numerous articles say that Steven Mnuchin is very likely to be confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury today. Sad.

    Here’s yet another article about why he should not be confirmed:

    Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy and He’s Unfit for His New Gig –

    The article begins:

    There are plenty of signs that Steve Mnuchin is not a good guy, even by the lax standards of today’s banking industry. OneWest, a bank he established with partners and ran from 2009 to 2015, mounted a record of ruthless foreclosures (in one case over a 27-cent error). A memo from top prosecutors in California’s state attorney general’s office saw evidence of its “widespread misconduct” and repeated violations of law, according to The Intercept. Mnuchin misled the Senate (accidentally, he says) on his banking history, his personal finances and his role in running a Cayman Islands tax-haven account.

    Nevertheless, Senate Republicans will almost certainly succeed at their goal of confirming Mnuchin as the next Treasury Secretary as soon as possible.

    Republican senators like Rob Portman of Indiana used contorted logic in an attempt to convince voters that Mnuchin did not mislead them. Mnuchin attributed his failure to list $100 million of his own assets in his disclosure forms to “oversight.” (If you’re rich enough to overlook $100 million, it’s safe to say you’re obscenely rich.)

    The article concludes:

    The Obama administration’s failure to prosecute crooked bank executives gave a green light to ongoing fraud. If Mnuchin and Trump repeal or roll back some of the regulations now in place, as seems likely, brace for more fraud in the future. That fraud will increase the risk of another financial crisis.

    1. Lynne

      Sorry, but I can’t take seriously any article that drags out the bogus 27-cent foreclosure meme. There’s plenty to criticize Mnuchin about, but when they can’t be bothered to separate fact from eye-catching fiction, they aren’t worth reading.

        1. Lynne

          Dayden’s article links as sole authority for his 27-cent meme this article at Politico: the tl;dr summary is that OneWest filed to foreclose based on a claim that the borrower was not living in the house. She responded that she was, and the case was dismissed. Then she allegedly did not carry insurance, OneWest obtained the insurance and billed her for it, she underpaid that bill (by 27 cents), OneWest merged with CIT, and later CIT filed to foreclose based on the alleged insurance default — not a 27 cent bill. When she provided proof of insurance, the bank said they would not foreclose and she sued them.

          Personally, I don’t doubt the bank processors honestly thought she did not have insurance. As a title closer (unrelated to the banks), we struggled frequently to get adequate certificates of insurance on home loans, usually because the insurance agent gets backed up, and then the insurance underwriter gets backed up, and it can take months to get the certificate of insurance to the right person at the bank. Meanwhile, the bank loan officer says to go ahead and close because they need the loan booked, and then it’s a mess. It’s not just banks; my credit union failed to pay the insurance premium on my house out of the escrow and it was a mess getting it straightened out.

          1. allan

            Thank you for clarifying the chain of title for the 27¢ foreclosure story :)
            It’s still very damning of OneWest:

            Two years ago, OneWest filed foreclosure papers on the Lakeland, Fla., home of Ossie Lofton, who had taken a reverse mortgage, a loan that supplies cash to elderly homeowners and doesn’t require monthly payments.

            OneWest thought that Lofton wasn’t living in the house, a violation of its rules. She was, and the filing was dismissed. But that wasn’t the end of Lofton’s trouble. After confusion over insurance coverage, OneWest sent Lofton a bill for $423.30 in March 2015. She sent a check for $423. The bank sent another bill, for 30 cents. Lofton, 90, sent a check for 3 cents, unknowingly leaving a 27 cent balance on her insurance bill.

            In April 2016, the bank — now CIT — foreclosed again, this time claiming Lofton hadn’t paid her insurance. She fought back and in October the bank agreed not to foreclose. Lofton’s lawyers at the nonprofit Florida Rural Legal Services weren’t satisfied. They’ve accused CIT of malicious prosecution and violating state debt-collection laws and have asked the Polk County Circuit Court for a jury trial.

            So, OneWest (a) claimed that she wasn’t living in the house when she was,
            (b) sent her a bill for 30¢, when the cost of generating and mailing it far exceeded 30¢,
            and (c) finally scored when this 90 year old woman sent 3¢ instead of 30¢.

            I think an objective observer would say that the business model of OneWest was foreclosure.

            Sadly, Reuters tells me that in 10 minutes the World’s Greatest Deliberately Dishonest Body will vote to approve Mnuchin, 52-48, so it’s all moot. Or mnut.

            1. Lynne

              Absolutely damning of OneWest and CIT, its successor. The thing is that it can’t really be attributed to Mnuchin; it’s the kind of mess that happens when things go into loan processing, a/k/a computer hell.

              That does not mean Mnuchin should be in the cabinet. There’s plenty of reasons he shouldn’t be there. It is just that repeating that story about the 27 cent foreclosure has two effects: it irritates the left base, who apparently think that some guy on a board of directors signs off on individual foreclosures; and it obscures and undercuts the real concerns about the guy.

    2. Vatch

      Well, Mnuchin was confirmed, 53-47. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the only Democrat to vote for him. I know why Manchin voted for Sessions: it was because the NRA ordered him to do so. But I don’t understand why he voted for Mnuchin — not that it would have changed anything. Is Manchin planning to switch parties?

  19. cocomaan

    Publishers are now hiring sensitivity editors to ensure that published books do not contain language, situations, characters, or whatever, that might be offensive: The community sees themselves as a line of defense against readers encountering damaging artifacts in books.

    One reader for hire in Ireland’s database is Dhonielle Clayton, a librarian and writer based in New York. Clayton reviews two manuscripts per month, going line by line to look at diction, dialogue and plot. Clayton says she analyzes the authenticity of the characters and scenes, then points writers to where they can do more research to improve their work.

    Clayton, who is black, sees her role as a vital one. “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

    1. David

      “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.”
      Didn’t Dostoyevsky make a similar point in one of his letters? Or was it Samuel Beckett?

      1. Tigerlily

        Thank Gawd for people like Dhonielle Clayton, if they had been around a few years ago I could have been spared exposure to a lot of damaging literature. I mean Lord of the Flies, I Am The Cheese, Slaughterhouse Five, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Brave New World…and that’s just the cr*p I was force fed in high school.

        And the Diary of Anne Frank?

        What a downer!

        It’s outrageous that publishers have been able to operate for decades without gatekeepers to make sure that anything that makes us feel uncomfortable, conflicted or sad ever sees the light of day.

        Given that’s these so much of this toxic dreck already out there I propose a socially inclusive clensing ritual: we build this really big fire, then we invite people to bring their contradband literature and throw it in the flames, which will both ensure no one else is harmed by exposure to it and give them the opportunity to publicly affirm their commitment to socially responsible books. The people who don’t contribute any books – we bring them in for questioning first. People who exhibit such anti-social tendencies are probably hiding something.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If they can make math books a pleasure to read, I’m all for it.

          Who knows, maybe more people will read ‘Introductory Robotics,’ or ‘How to Genetically Modify Foods Yourself.”

  20. thump

    In the LATimes article about how bad CA’s roads are, I saw nothing about needing to make the transition to electrified transport, so maybe we shouldn’t be repairing all the broken roads in the first place…

  21. Katharine

    Thanks very much for the Michael Lewis article! The title is misleading. There is so much intellectual meat there!

  22. Carolinian

    Re Origins of the Overclass–this is necessary reading for those who feel inclined to defend the CIA or grow misty over its “wall of honor” with those anonymous stars. While this useful overview may somewhat exaggerate the agency’s power and influence, it is still a quite informative look at the deeply conservative and generally horrific history of the CIA. Should lefties take heart in the probability that intelligence agency leakers are also treating Trump as public enemy number one at the moment?

    1. Benedict@Large

      When was “The Origins of the Overclass” written, and what’s the purpose of linking it here today? [Not a criticism, btw. It just sort of sticks out as unusual for these links.

      1. optimader

        yes indeed.. wasn’t going to add a third link, but he does indeed fairly well nail it against the wall. Cathartic..

  23. PKMKII

    From the Politico “Two Kinds of Trump Voters” article:

    But these views might not be so easy for Democrats to swallow either. The party has largely moved to a free trade platform that relies on the support of minority groups who are also averse to the white working-class perspective. To win back white working-class support, the Democratic Party, like Trump, needs to make a deliberate, authentic appeal to these voters and demonstrate why it represents their best interests.

    I don’t buy that you can’t simultaneously appeal to minority groups and the white working class. A lot of these issues that are getting harped on as being important to the WWC (loss of manufacturing, lower wages, less work stability) have hit the working class urban minority voters just as hard, if not harder. Likewise, despite the typical media depiction, LGBT are typically less well off as well. This isn’t an either/or scenario, the Dems can appeal to both, if they’d just jettison the bougie minority tokenism approach to appealing to minority voters.

  24. susan the other

    today’s link’s expression is pure logic. is it or isn’t it … something or other? “That is the question.”

  25. JerryDenim

    Greenwald’s Libertarian slant and market fetishism was on full display in the highly opinionated Intercept story about the Gulf Airlines and unfair government subsidies. The Gulf Airlines are receiving billions of dollars in non-recourse loans which are then forgiven by their governments. They have used this free money to amass the world’s greatest collection of wide body jets in a few short years. They then bring their new, luxurious jumbo jets to the States and offer cut-rate, money losing fares to fly these jets around the world half-full or less.

    The US airlines have every right to complain about these anti-competitive market distorting practices. American Airlines with its tiny market cap of 24 billion employs 115,000 Americans. Compare that to Facebook’s 18,000. Are jobs bad now just because Donald Trump has said he prefers Americans to have jobs? Are we to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of good paying union jobs with benefits so Greenwald can buy a cheap ticket on Emirates or Qatar Airlines that is unfairly subsidized with Gulf oil money?

    The article’s kvetching about US airlines needing to be more competitive reminds of some of the Clinton voter rants I’ve heard recently worrying that tariffs designed to bring jobs back to the US might increase the price of their electronic gizmos purchased from Amazon, so US factory workers should just suck it up and learn how to “compete” with foreign sweatshop labor. I wonder if US airline workers will have access to a gigantic pile of free oil money like the Gulf carriers do when they attempt to become more competitive?

    1. giantsquid

      Firstly, the Intercept article was written by Lee Fang, who is neither a libertarian nor a market fundamentalist. In fact his politics appear to align most closely with those of Bernie Sanders, among well known politicians. Secondly, where in the Intercept article is there “kvetching about US airlines needing to be more competitive”? I don’t see it. Thirdly, as the article points out, U.S. airlines are being extremely hypocritical in complaining about government subsidies, having received billions in government subsidies themselves.

  26. Adam Eran

    About the crumbling U.S. infrastructure: It’s instructive to take a look at Wikipedia’s article about government spending. It contains a table comparing spending and tax burdens for many nations (note that you can sort the table by clicking the headers). It also cites Wall St. Journal and Heritage as its sources.

    If you sort on spending, you’ll see that the U.S. is between Argentina and Luxembourg in the level of spending from government. If you normalize for regular military spending (say 89% of the level currently), you’ll see the U.S. is between Bhutan and Namibia.

    So…wonder no more why U.S.infrastructure (e.g. Flint Michigan) is like a third world nation’s! It’s part of that austerity plan!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When an American taxpayer says taxes are too high, he/she is right…based on your numbers (of return on investment, or rather, return on taxation).

      He or she is not getting much back.

      Naturally, lowering taxes is appealing understandably. Understandable because most people can’t eat, drink or use state-of-art drones or surveillance systems.

      So, the rational approach is not to call these people ‘racists or libertarians,’ but to say to them, ‘You’re right. Based on what you’re getting back in services and products from the government, you should be paying only $3,000 in taxes, instead of $10,000, if we cut out military spending. And because we want a more progressive society, so we can take care of the weak, old or those in need, can you pay $5,000 in taxes? That is still less than the $10,000 you’re paying today. That’s still lowering taxes (as you so correctly pointed out!”

      “WE NEED TO LOWER TAXES!!!”….for average citizens.

  27. ChrisPacific

    The Guardian eviction piece needed more detail on the background of the subprime crisis and the deliberate targeting of lower income and less financially savvy borrowers, so that readers understand that this situation came about by design and not by accident. It’s still heartbreaking:

    Most of the movers lived on the north side and had at some point experienced the awkward moment of packing up someone from their church or block. Tim had evicted his own daughter.

    America is good at airbrushing these people out of existence. Trump is their message in a bottle. Unfortunately Democrats can’t be bothered to read it.

  28. Daryl

    > Linux pioneer Munich poised to ditch open source and return to Windows

    Bahahahaa, on a recommendation by Accenture. What a waste of money.

  29. Dave

    Here’s a Scenario for ya, CALEXIT succeeds, California begins the adventure of becoming the first Sanctuary Nation as tens of millions of illegals pour in across the Mexican border, millions of Californians leave the state and economic chaos reigns as people joyfully no longer have to pay taxes to the IRS but now face a fifty percent state income tax to fund state food stamp costs as well as a VAT and doubled local sales taxes, including a new tax on food.

    Then, The Big One hits as the San Andreas lets go, then the Hayward Rogers Creek fault.
    Ten million people are without shelter, food or water, plus millions of “guests.”

    President Trump sends his thoughts and prayers to the independent nation of Califas.

    The entire dam finally lets go as snowmelts. :-(

    1. Lambert Strether

      MoA writes:

      It would be astonishing if Trump falls for this obviously well organized campaign against his administration. Should he fire Flynn or give in to such pressure his enemies will smell blood, find a new target within his administration and intensify their fire.

      So Flynn fell on his sword. What now?

      1. integer


        Office of the Press Secretary


        February 13, 2017

        President Donald J. Trump Names Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. as Acting National Security Advisor

        Accepts Resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn

        President Donald J. Trump has named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. (Ret) as Acting National Security Advisor following the resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret). General Kellogg is a decorated veteran of the United States Army, having served from 1967 to 2003, including two tours during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” device, and the Air Medal with “V” device. He served as the Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1997 to 1998. Prior to his retirement, General Kellogg was Director of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Directorate under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

        I couldn’t find any info about it at, but this seems legit to me. There are rumors that Petraeus is being considered for the role, though perhaps that is someone’s effort at reality creation. Not sure what to make of it all, though I’m pretty sure The Blob is celebrating.

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