2:00PM Water Cooler 3/3/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Thank you, readers, for the very interesting comments yesterday. It seems that Naked Capitalism has no dearth of readers taking on interesting projects! –lambert


Comments from geology mavens?

The damage looks enormous, to me.


I need to go bleach my brain. I’ll add some more UPDATEs shortly. –lambert.


“Confidence, in a president, is important. Mr. Trump’s speech was confident. He rose politically by painting an America in bleak decline, but here he insisted our problems are not irreversible. ‘Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. . . . The challenges we face as a nation are great. But our people are even greater'” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. “There was a heartening plainness. Mr. Trump told a story of meeting with officials and workers from Harley-Davidson. ‘They proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.’ He asked them how they were doing. ‘They told me—without even complaining, because they have been so mistreated for so long that they’ve become used to it—that it’s very hard to do business with other countries, because they tax our goods at such a high rate.’ One country, they said, taxed their motorcycles at 100%. ‘They weren’t even asking for a change. But I am. . . . I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer.'” But Russia!

UPDATE “Democrats the day after Trump’s speech: Steve Beshear? Really?” [McClatchy]. The quotes themselves, however, are not encouraging.

Trump Transition

UPDATE Claire McCaskill is a Russian stooge and a traitor, obviously:

Note the source: Charles Cook, a centrist purveyor of the conventional wisdom (and not always wrong). He’s saying the Democrats have turned the knobs up to 11.

I wonder how this will play in Peoria:

UPDATE Has Teen Vogue gotten on board with the Democrat Red Scare?

George W. Bush, liberal icon, I:

UPDATE George W. Bush, liberal icon, II:

We slaughtered some folks…

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “A New Diagnosis: ‘Post-Election Stress Disorder’” [Kaiser Health News]. I wonder what the IPC-10 code is. BS0000?

UPDATE “Ex-President Barack Obama Orchestrated Tom Perez DNC Chair Victory” [Hill Heat]. I don’t think we’ve linked to this; worth a read.

UPDATE “End of an Era” [Book Forum]. “The books listed here provide an image—sometimes impressionistic and sometimes brutally particular—of the world as it has actually existed these past eight years. What has been happening, really, and what does it feel like for those living in it? Subterranean movements have altered the terms of our society while most of its comfortable members were watching Barack Obama on a screen, resigned to the slog of incremental progress, and ignoring the tremors below. Let us feel them and see them clearly now.”

UPDATE An important liberal voice on immigration:

Plus ça change….

UPDATE “The DNC is working on what one official described as ‘an innovative, small-dollar digital fundraising effort’ authored by Perez and Ellison that is ‘designed to reach the most diverse cross-section of our party as possible'” [The Hill]. “Among the ideas being bandied about is a way for small-dollar donors to invest in specific programs at the DNC.” These idiots are so full of shit. Suppose I donate my $27 to a DNC-branded single payer operation. Then the whales from Big Pharma buy a couple of Democrat congress critters and sink HR 676, so I was only throwing away my money. No thanks. Try harder, you stupid, venal, secondthird-rate @#$%^&*-s, or I’m gonna get annoyed.

Stats Watch

Institute For Supply Management Non-manufacturing Index, February 2017: “The ISM is picking up strong signals of accelerating activity in the great bulk of the U.S. economy. The non-manufacturing index jumped a very sharp 1.1 points” [Econoday]. “This report is closely watched and may well strengthen the outlook for February’s data from the government. But it has been the government’s data that have yet to show the great strength indicated by anecdotal reports like the ISM.” But: “One survey slightly up and one slightly down – but both are in expansion. I am not a fan of surveys” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers’ Index Services Index, February 2017: “Growth in the service-sector PMI slowed” [Econoday]. “Though this is the lowest reading in five months, the report’s sample remains upbeat citing new contracts and the launch of new products. But backlogs are also down and hiring, though still described as solid, has slowed.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 26 (yesterday): “Tuesday’s consumer confidence index showed enormous strength as does today’s consumer comfort index” [Econoday]. “Record gains in confidence, however, have to result in significant gains for consumer spending.”

Jobless Claims, week of February 25, 2017 (yesterday): “The health of the labor market is unusually good based on jobless claims which remain unusually low” [Econoday]. But: “This chart tells me that it’s gotten a lot harder to be eligible for unemployment benefits this cycle, and an automatic fiscal stabilizer the cushioned weakness in prior cycles may have been deactivated as well” [Mosler Economics].

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 25 February 2017: February Month Movements Up 4.2% From One Year Ago” [Econintersect]. But insignificantly.

Supply Chain: “Wearable technology involves technology that is worn by a human to monitor human vital signs. One application in the supply chain space is to monitor brain waves to identify if vehicle drivers are falling asleep” [Logistics Management]. And maybe give the driver an electrical shock to wake them up? Interesting article…

IT: “Summary of the Amazon S3 Service Disruption in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region” [Amazon].

IT: “How a typo took down S3, the backbone of the internet” [The Verge]. The problem:

On Tuesday morning, members of the S3 team were debugging the billing system. As part of that, the team needed to take a small number of servers offline. “Unfortunately, one of the inputs to the command was entered incorrectly and a larger set of servers was removed than intended,” Amazon said. “The servers that were inadvertently removed supported two other S3 subsystems.”

The subsystems were important. One of them “manages the metadata and location information of all S3 objects in the region,” Amazon said. Without it, services that depend on it couldn’t perform basic data retrieval and storage tasks.

I’ll leave it to readers to determine — Clive? — whether billing systems tend to be more fouled up than other systems. And a typo can happen to anyone; programming languages, mostly, suck. To me, the key point is that subsystem that “manages the metadata and location information of all S3 objects in the region.” Reminds me of the Windows registry. In other words, Amazon removed redundancy, and when a non-redundant system went down, the Internet went down. Remember that old quote from John Gilmore that “the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it?” That was true because the Internet was designed to survive a nuclear war. But it couldn’t survive Jeff Bezos!

IT: “If Amazon Web Services Goes Down, Do the Cloud Services AWS Provides the Intelligence Community Too?” [emptywheel].

The Bezzle: “Sexism at Uber from female management #UberStory” [Medium]. Drivers sleeping in their cars? No problemo…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 3 at 12:54pm. Back to mere greed….


Ventusky weather map [Ventusky (Hana M)]. This is a lovely, soothing application, so unlike the gaslighting at Weather.com.

The Earth’s weather functions as an interdependent system. For example, a hurricane in the Atlantic has the ability to influence the distribution of pressure formations in Europe. Occasionally, it may even make its way to Europe itself as a post-tropical storm. The Ventusky application allows for the illustration of the interdependence of the entire system, displaying the development of pressure, wind, cloud cover, precipitation, and temperature on the map.

“Turning the water on in a sink can launch pipe-climbing superbugs” [Ars Technica]. One more thing to worry about…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A typical #BernieBro speaks:

“Has ‘Gang Policing’ Replaced Stop-and-Frisk?” [CityLab]. Yes.

“Seven Baltimore Police officers indicted on federal racketeering charges” [Baltimore Sun].

“War Against The Panthers: A Study Of Repression In America” [Huey P. Newton, Doctoral Dissertation, UC Santa Cruz, June 1980].

Class Warfare

“University of Michigan researchers found the number of rural newborns experiencing opioid-related withdrawal symptoms increased by more than six times during a recent span of 10 years compared to nearly 3½ times for urban babies” [Durango Herald]. Dead babies in flyover states don’t matter because Russia.

News of the Wired

“Medical errors could cause 250,000 U.S. deaths a year, study shows” [Knowridge Science Report] (original). The health care system, like the financial system, the law enforcement system, the welfare system, the tax system, and the educational system — to name a few — sounds like a good system to stay out of. That doesn’t mean I don’t think people who need it should always be able to get health care as a universal benefit; they should. But… yikes.

“How to Keep Messages Secure” [Teen Vogue].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (via):

Austrocylindropuntia floccosa, the mat-forming cactus (!).

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Altandmain

    I know that this may sound like a weird idea, but is there a list of everything that has been crapified in terms of consumer goods?

    – Tools
    – Clothing

    These are some of the most vibrant examples. I know there are “Made in Canada” and “Made in USA” lists out there, but that doesn’t always assure quality, although I am willing to support local industry.

    Is there a list of “good quality” brands still, that stand behind what they make? I suspect that although more expensive, many good quality items may be cheaper in the long run.

    1. fresno dan

      March 3, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I would suggest a list of things not crapified.
      I can think of two:
      etch a sketch
      play doh

      OK, actually I think inexpensive microwaves work remarkably well for the price.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Apparently the smallest microwave available measures about one foot in width, depth and height. Truckers still swear by the Sharp Half Pint, which commands a nice price on Ebay.

        For heating mugs of water, and for portability, I was looking for one that’s more like a 6-inch cube. But it doesn’t exist — a shock, because most things you can imagine are already out there.

        1. Andy

          I was looking for the same thing-small. I’m a trucker and didn’t remember the Sharp Half Pint. But like you want one smaller still.

          1. Edward E

            I have found the turbo area of a big rig makes an excellent fryer and oven if you experiment a little. Hint: various thickness of aluminum foils.

      2. cocomaan


      3. Yves Smith

        French press coffee makers. Too few moving parts to screw them up

        I think tennis balls.

        Most gym equipment (as in weight and cable machines) again a function of few moving parts.

        1. Altandmain

          Apparently we are following the trajectory of the old Soviet block. Anything mechanically complex will be crapified.

          But yes, balls and gym equipment. NExt thing you know, the rubber quality for balls will decline… sigh.

        2. b_rad

          For french presses it depends on the brand. The glass on Mr. Coffee french presses are so thin placing them down on the counter aggressively is liable to break them. Also, they have a poor fit b/w the glass and the mesh filter so more grounds sneak thru than with a Bodum.

          And with all the lines of presses Bodum makes, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are just as bad as a Mr. Coffee french press.

          1. Dan

            You are correct. I pulled one of these out of the box at the store recently and, I s*** you not, the glass broke in my hand. Luckily no injury.

            Considered buying a different brand but went with the stainless steel percolator instead.

            Even better and more simple though is my copper Turkish coffee maker. Precisely zero moving parts.

        3. clinical wasteman

          1. Producer goods really, but: tube/valve amplifiers for musical instruments were horrendously crapified by the famous names (Marshall, Fender, but especially Marshall), but a Shanxi-based company called Joyo has inexplicably reversed that, perfectly reproducing beautiful and now unobtainable machines of 50 or so years ago — plus ancillary products like simple spring reverb — for about a 10th of the price of inferior ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment. It’s a good moment for handmade analogue synthesisers too: see the excellent Fact Magazine for regular updates on micro-manufacturers.
          2. Cats.

          1. a different chris

            Interesting… as there is also an Asian company ( I don’t recall where exactly, Taiwan I think??) for some reason has taken up re-making and quickly improving upon the classic English 3-spd Sturmey-Archer bicycle hub.

            1. HotFlash

              That would be Sun of Taiwan, which purchased the Sturmey-Archer marque and moved production to Taiwan in 2000. The Sturmey Archer AW’s are still bulletproof, or as a friend says, bomb-proof, and I have resurrected many, many AW and a few SW hubs that are 40 yrs and more old to full working condition. Usually without *any* new parts — just cleaning. Excellent design, casting, and machining and suberb choice of materials.

              I have a soft spot for the SW’s, and even knew a guy whose cycling club back in England test-rode them prior to production. The club *loved* them, but the move to mass production wasn’t happy, problems with the tolerances, so I heard, but I just loved mine. Lots more info at the S-A heritage site, and of course, Wiki.

              S-A was one of hundreds of cycle and parts manufacturers — and thousands of other British industries — that died under the Iron Lady. It is not really fair to say that the Taiwanese ‘make them better’, they are just picking up the tradition about 20 yrs BT (before Thatcher) and carrying it on. There is not, to my knowledge (which is considerable), any make, model, or year of Sturmey-Archer hubs which do not work like a trooper. For that you need to look at the early Shimano 3-speeds — ugly design and poor materials choices — although they were fast learners and the stuff is very reliable nowadays.

              But hey, we still have The City!!! Bigger and better than ever!! (eg, Libor, whale, etc. …)

        4. Ed Miller

          But hand tools don’t have many moving parts. Yet the quality of the metal is most important for some essential tools. Crapification isn’t limited to over-complexifying (is that a word?? LOL, but it sounds appropriate).

          Think made-in-china bolt cutters. My worst mistake. Even screwdrivers can be crapified.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Silver spoons.

        I understand they last a long, long time

        One sterling silver spoon at $50 for, what, 500 years – that’s 10 cents a year.

        “What a great deal.”

      5. dcrane

        Air travel is not yet crapified, and here I refer to the safety dimension only.

        I expect this to change as soon as first and business class move to their own dedicated flights/airlines/planes.

      1. Marina Bart

        The streaming service is still pretty good, although they are starting to prune back what they offer even there. I don’t blame Netflix for that problem; that’s driven by Hollywood’s aggressive, long-term effort to crush it. So they have ramped up original production and de-emphasized outside content.

        There’s no excuse for destroying the mailed disc business, though. And there’s no real alternative or competition for that. With Hollywood product so horribly crapified, the long tail of the catalog — precisely what is NOT offered by Redbox — is where most of the good stuff is.

        Its original series are starting to fade in terms of quality and cultural impact, as well.

        I think the CEO is a authentically (not in the neoliberal code way) smart, so I think he can fix the original content problem if he wants to. They did really, really well right out of the box (more than they had a right to, probably in part because the studios are so filled with meal-expensing mediocrities who neither know or care about art, craft, stories, production, management or entertainment). But I wish he hadn’t been so determined to kill disc delivery.

        1. Tom

          Streaming is all I’ve known in the 3 years or so I’ve had Netflix and I couldn’t be happier. The content was so good that I quickly I canceled my shitty DirecTV satelitte account, which at that time was costing me about $90 bucks a month — the service was crappy, with intermittent outages or low resolution; the DVR was buggy; tech help was infuriating; even the remote was crappy!

          So ditching DirecTV saved me more than $1,000 per year. I bought a TiVo DRV ($50) and a cheap rooftop antenna ($60) to get local network stations over the air (in HD, by the way, with a far better picture than DirecTV ever had) that I could record for later.

          The TiVo interface also allows you to navigate to any streaming services you subscribe to, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. The TiVo box costs $15 a month so you have a current schedule for OTA programming.

          So for a one-time $100 up front cost and less than $25 bucks a month, I have a far superior system that offers better content overall at a savings of about $700 a year. If I sound like I’m on the Netflix payroll, it’s only because finding a company that actually overdelivers is so rare as to be miraculous.

        2. Inquiring Mind

          The local public library works as a reasonable alternative to the Netflix mailed-DVD. I can order online and have the DVD sent to my local branch. Requires a short errand (4 blocks from home, two blocks from work, for me), but it’s also free.

          Disclaimer is that I live in a large metro area where I live in a medium-sized city and work in a mega-large city. Between the two different library systems, there hasn’t been a DVD I can’t get…

    2. Jim

      Veritas Tools by Lee Valley. Good quality, well-designed woodworking tools made in Canada. Their warranty is 1st class.

        1. MtnLife

          Veritas is nice but Bridge City Tool Works is just art. Woodpecker makes really nice stuff as well although I can’t tell you how frustrating their One Time Tool runs are. To see the solution to a consistent problem within my grasp but not have the spare cash (pricey, even for quality stuff) within their brief ordering window, thereby lose the chance at it forever barring a random eBay find, drives me crazy.

    3. MtnLife

      I’d say the crapification has happened mostly in consumer goods as opposed to professional quality items and where it has crept into professional items it is in the lower end of that category. Tool makers have realized that they could keep costs down by crapification and that homeowners and standard trade hacks won’t care about the lack of quality and precision in return for a low price. Powermatic used to be a quality American made brand. Their old stuff still rocks. Their newer Asian made equipment, while okay, isn’t anywhere near the standard it was. The crapification has luckily not hit the high quality European companies whose equipment fills my wood shop like Felder, Robland, Festool, and ACM. May it stay that way.

      1. Octopii

        One tool that has stayed true to pro grade is Milwaukee. Their cordless power tools are fantastic, and at some point a few years ago having had a growing number of good experiences, I completely committed to the line. But the stuff is made in China unfortunately.

    4. Carla

      Cast iron frying pans.

      Pyrex baking pans

      Melitta one-cup plastic coffee brewer — takes a #2 cone-shaped filter. I use a LOT of good coffee (2 heaping soup spoons per 10-11 oz mug), and pour the boiling water through s-l-o-w-l-y. Making one cup at a time means it’s always fresh-brewed. I have an extra one for when a friend comes by.

      Felco pruners. I eschew Amazon and order direct from Felco.com. If it costs a dollar or two more, I really don’t care.

        1. jrs

          This is inaccurate though, it was almost never made of borosilicate glass at least not in the U.S., it seems to be some kind of urban myth that it was.

          Oh I bought 4 glasses that were borosilicate glass (no not Pyrex brand). One was faulty to begin with, but the other 3 were dead in 2 months (including 2 that cracked in a hot kitchen sink, in theory they shouldn’t have).

      1. lb

        Cast iron frying pans? I have one of the Lodge 20 skillets (it weighs 20 lbs, it cost me $20 at the time, it’ll last 20 years if I don’t boil pasta in it) and as far as I can tell those, are pretty solid in most senses. I think they’re still American-made, too. I don’t see those as having been crapified.

        1. Eclair

          I’ve had mine (12″ skillet, dutch oven and griddle) for over 50 years. Never use soap to clean; half fill with water, heat and let boil for a a minute or two (or more if really caked-on food), dump out, scour with steel wool scouring pad (no soap!). Bad for the economy, though.

          1. Edward E

            Yes, cast iron! But when major cleaning, I take them outside and spray them down with greased lightning. Give them a good scrubbing with a steel pad and hose off with a garden hose. After drying, get an old sock and coat with a thin film of cooking oil and put them into the oven for a while at 175°. Works like a charm.

          1. Carla

            Good one — thanks! But I make spaghetti sauce in my Mom’s cast iron chicken fryer all the time, no problem.

            But the article inspired me to use my cast iron pans in the oven more often — especially for baked chicken or small roasts.

            And yes, I had noticed that modern cast iron doesn’t have quite as smooth a surface as the wonderful old pans.

        2. HotFlash

          I have three vintage cast iron pans, small, medium and large, one a Griswold. I bought them all second-hand (us-to-us 25th wedding anniv) and we rehabilitated them, ie, scoured w steel wool repeatedly to get the rust off, then seasoned. All work great, although I begrudge them the space in my tiny kitchen. I never did use Teflon, since I won’t be parted from my nice spring steel spatulas and lifters. My prev was/is a 50 yr old Sunbeam electric aluminum (yes, I know), a tank that has outlived innumerable power cords.

          What I am hoping to find at a yard sale though is one (or more!!!) Revereware copperclad stainless frypans. That’s what I grew up and learned on, and I love how they clean up, how non-stick they are and most of all, how responsive they are to heat change. Why yes, yes, I do cook on gas, why do you ask?

      2. dale

        Yep. That’s exactly how I do it too, maybe a little stronger, sweetened with pure cow’s milk. Coffee from Nueva Segovia, Madriz, y Matagalpa Nicaragua. I saw a ceramic version of the Melitta in the U.S., expensive.

      3. Tom

        Yes, yes, yes on cast iron pans. We threw out the flaky, cancer-causing teflon pans years ago and went back to the old cast iron pans exclusively. Once you get the hang of keeping the pans seasoned with oil correctly, I can make an omlette and clean that pan out far easier that I ever could with most non-stick pans. What a con job Du Pont was selling us all those years. Or should I say, what a crock?

      4. uncle tungsten

        +for Felco, nothing comes near these tools. I do heaps of random bush care and take them on camping journeys to terminate the invaders.

    5. cocomaan

      I think my sledgehammer I use to split wood is Stanley brand. It’s stood up to a ton of punishment.

      The chisels, on the other hand, are pretty bad. I’ve been surprised how many have mushroomed, split, cracked, or shattered.

      Firearms tend to store value well.

      Finally, I think art is something worth holding onto. We’ve taken to collecting paintings of chickens at thrift stores and the like. It’s a good time.

      1. Annotherone

        “Antique”, vintage, thrift stores are good sources for many types of pre-crapification goods, and for art. We’re lucky in that we have tons of such stores within reasonable distances (OK, TX, KS). I’ve often observed to husband that these stores, come the fall to “Mad Max World”, will be replacement supermarts.

        Stores in non-tourist areas are best, especially in small to medium-sized towns, for best prices, variety and quality. I’ve found some super bargains in artwork worth, I found to my surprise, far, far more than I paid. Need to “get your eye in” to spot them – it took me a while but practice makes…..

        1. jrs

          Most of the “art” at the thrift stores is of course someone took a few art classes, made a landscape and eventually disposed of it. But if it appeals to one there is nothing wrong with that either.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Goodwill is deeply crapified, overpriced and full of surplus or dollar-store stuff. I do still go in occasionally; they have so much that there has to be something good once in a while.

          Local stores are much better. We buy as much as possible that way; the day-to-day stuff pays for the time to find the occasional treasure – either art, or something like overlooked sterling. Don’t find that any more, though.

    6. polecat

      charcoal and paper ….. for artistic endeavors, of course ….

      …. can’t crapify that !

    7. LostHighway

      High quality gardening/landscaping/pruning hand tools still exist if you know what to look for. Good brands include, but are not limited to, Felco, Bahco/Sandvik, ARS, Okatsune and Silky. King of Spades all steel spades, forks and shovels are still American made and very good, albeit heavy. The English Clarington Forge/Bulldog forks and spades are still available but here the best of the PRC made knockoffs now offer serious competition.

      Much American, Japanese, European and Korean high end audio gear is quite good if you avoid the bleeding edge, although the very small size of many of these companies sometimes catches them out. Ayre Acoustics from Boulder, CO is just one example of great products and great customer support but the prices are daunting. There has been some consolidation in the industry. Audio Research Corporation, Wadia and McIntosh are now owned by an Italian investment group. The quality of the products still seems to be good although there have been scattered reports of a decline in customer service.

      You can still buy good German and Japanese and French (Sabatier is confusing because there are multiple companies using that name, it is not a registered marque) kitchen knives although PRC companies are trying to enter that realm.

    8. dandelion

      Appliances. Thirty year old Sears Kenmore washer & dryer went out, looked around shopping — everything’s computerized now, which I already know from the GE refrigerator that replaced my 30 year old Frigidaire, means that w/in 5 years I’ll need costly repair. I still don’t understand why a refrigerator needs a computer. Then there’s the oven whose computerized thermostat breaks down. Or that with front loading washing machines I’ll be taking a crapshoot whether the whole thing will be come mold-infected around parts I can’t reach to clean. The mold is such a problem, hitting these front-loaders randomly because there’s no quality control, and so well known, the appliance shop had a special No More Moldy Washers display about a certain special detergent to help. Plus the things are so sensitive to imbalance you have to do multiple loads because you can’t combine differently weighted fabrics. The top-loaders have the same high-efficiency water restrictions per load, but since they don’t toss the clothes like front-loaders do, the clothes don’t get wet. They claim they get clean via friction with each other, and sure I guess that can work, on the principle of beating your clothes on rocks. Maybe. I get water issues, I’m in CA. But I can choose a lower level and, really how high efficiency is it to have to replace these things every 5-10 years? Ended up going old school: Speed Queen. Made in America using steel parts not aluminum. Cost 30% more but likely to last me 20 years at least and more likely to run as long as my old Kenmores did.

      1. Greg L

        Speed Queen has always worked for me in the condo I managed. They use them a lot in commercial laundries.

        1. kareninca

          Speed Queens are great. After getting a Kenmore washer that was a lemon, and hearing that a neighbor’s Fisher and Pascal washer was a lemon as well (not that I’d buy anything so effete), and that another neighbor’s Maytag washer ate clothing, I ordered a Speed Queen washer on Amazon. It took a month to arrive, but the wait was worth it (there is probably some better way to order it, e.g. through an appliance store). It’s as solid as a rock, and has been working well since Sept. 2013. It was $800 including shipping, which isn’t cheap, but the multiple repairs on the lemon Kenmore weren’t cheap either. And it was made in Wisconsin.

          1. Yves Smith

            Oh, another category that has not been crapified is running shoes…again athletic.

            New Balance (US) are good, plus tons of gradations for your stride, your foot width, how much you pronate/supinate. I don’t run so I find the heel strike a bit hard but I believe runners who like them swear by them. I believe there are other performance shoe makers who have good products.

            One category where there has been real innovation is in yarns. If you look at high end men’s suits (like the kind Daniel Craig wears when playing James Bond), they are made of fibers with some kind of high twist (over my pay grade) which makes them wrinkle resistant without using lycra (the old fix for women’s pants, but I could always tell from how they creased, and they still would crease, that they had lycra).

            1. UserFriendly

              Other actual innovation in fibers would be silver infused socks. Silver is naturally antimicrobial, so anyone who has foot odor or stubborn athletes foot should check them out. You can also get away with wearing the same pair of socks for a few days reducing amount of laundry you need to do. They make other articles of clothing but I can only vouch for the socks.

            2. Roger Smith

              I always hear about US made New Balance shoes… where the heck are you finding them? Every single pair I have looked at are made in the same third world sweatshops as usual.

              1. steelyman

                You have to find a standalone NB store usually in a bigger city and ask for the Made In The USA items. Some of the major NB stores in Asia also carry Made In The UK NB shoes as well. But, yes, I believe the majority of their shoes are still made in Asia.

    9. Jen

      Probably aren’t as good as they used to be, but I’m happy with LL Bean. They stand by their products. Almost every time I go in to the local store there’s somebody in there sending their 100 year old Bean boots in to be repaired.

      1. Yves Smith

        I buy LL Bean jeans when they make high waisted ones in black (not often) and their T-shirts for summer. They hold up well. I bet their boots are still good because they are a classic, but their turtlenecks are a mixed bag. Some are a thin weave.

    10. Leah

      There’s a sock manufacturer in Osage, Iowa called Fox River. They make excellent wool, wool blend and cotton socks. As good as the smart wool ones from New Zealand. The prices are OK if you buy several pairs, about $6 to $14 per pair. And no I don’t work for them, but I’m originally from Iowa and it’s really nice that there is a small clothing manufacturer still chugging away there.

      1. LostHighway

        Smartwool socks are mostly made in the USA although they use New Zealand wool. However, IME they aren’t all that durable (their PhD series is better in this regard) and their street wear socks also don’t stay up all that well. Fox River is a viable alternative but I prefer Darn Tough and FITS both of which are also US made. The caveat is that they aren’t exactly inexpensive.

    11. bdy

      Speed Queen washer/drier — still made in Wisconsin, same heavy steel machine parts, same 10 yr warranty on the commercial ones, rated for 10 times as many cycles as any other washing machines save Mielle, and competitively priced with the POS plastic-geared designed-to-fail rattletraps built by de-facto slave labor in god knows which corporate owned banana republic.

    12. amfortas

      20 or so years ago, my mom bought a plastic chair at wallyworld, which I soon absconded with.
      Sitting in it, drinking beer, one day, I was mindlessly fingernailing the “Made in America” sticker on the left armrest, and accidentally peeled it off. Underneath it, to my surprise, was a “hecho in mexico” sticker. Intrigued, I endeavored to peel THAT one off, and…sure enough….beneath the Mexico sticker was one indicating that the cheap plastic chair was made in Malaysia.
      The Ontological Crises continue apace.

  2. fresno dan

    “Medical errors could cause 250,000 U.S. deaths a year, study shows” [Knowridge Science Report] (original). The health care system, like the financial system, the law enforcement system, the welfare system, the tax system, and the educational system — to name a few — sounds like a good system to stay out of. That doesn’t mean I don’t think people who need it should always be able to get heatlh care as a universal benefit. But… yikes.

    In an incentive based system….are they incented to get you well….or get you treated more, OR just get as much profit as possible?

    1. james wordsworth

      Numbers sound off. US deaths were 2.6 million in 2014 – so article is saying 1 in 10 deaths were due to medical errors! Not saying there is not an issue, just that the numbers look inflated to pump and issue.

        1. toolate

          If anything, the study methodology used would UNDERESTIMATE, not overestimate deaths.That said, the studies conclusions are not that strong due to how the deaths were measured.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Modern medicine is extremely powerful technology; that comes at a price. One aspect of the price is that errors have a very large impact. There are other issues, of course, that reflect financial motives, but some of the problem is built in.

          We went through a really major medical siege with our son about 25 years ago; unforgettable – don’t get me started. We were lucky; his odds were poor all the way through. When the doctors kill you and bring you back to life, any error has huge ramifications. It was bleeding edge technology and still would be, and that’s another factor: the life and death, time-is-short quality creates great pressure, often from patients, to use untested techniques.

          All that is the reason that, eg, young doctors should not be sleep-deprived.

    2. Bob

      That article links to the study that has been rehashed here repeatedly since it was published May 3, 2016. There is nothing new in the article above. Furthermore, there has been thoughtful response to this absurd claim published in medical journals (but these get far less coverage because the claims aren’t outlandish).
      Re: Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US
      “First, the estimate fails the plausibility test. Of around 2.5M deaths in the US each year, approximately 700,000 occur in hospital.[2] We – and many clinicians and researchers – find it very hard to believe that one in 10 of all US deaths, or a third of inpatient deaths (the 251,454 estimated by Makary and Daniel) result from “medical error”.

      Second, the authors of the article do not provide any sort of formal methodology. Their estimate seems to rely on extrapolating preventable death rates from those reported in other studies. They then place the estimate derived from these heterogeneous studies in a “ranking” of causes of death in the US to make their argument that it is the third leading cause. These two steps are both precarious. The four studies on which they appear to base their estimate on use different methodologies and wildly varying definitions that Makary and Daniel collapse into their vividly-titled construct of “preventable lethal adverse event”. It is not clear how the “point estimates” they derive were calculated, but it is notable that the denominators across the studies are not comparable and no confidence intervals are reported.”

      1. rfdawn

        Thanks for that BMJ link. The Johns Hopkins piece is just a press release and reveals nothing about the what (did they die of) and the where (in what kind of hospital). Many patients near death have multiple conditions and multiple treatments. The detail is important in deciding what counts as a medical error. Good treatment for one condition may have bad effects on another and often that is unavoidable or incalculable.

    3. Bob

      An article on KevinMD recently addressed this as well. “Extrapolations should not be put forward as if they are facts. They are not. Patients should not be scared by false statements, they have enough to worry about already. We saw how misinformation could harm the public when a journal published an article about vaccines causing autism. Even after that was proved to be false, the damage could not be undone, and many people suffered because of that error.” http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2017/02/medical-errors-not-third-leading-cause-death.html

      1. sunny129

        It is hard to collect and verify data on DEATHS caused by Medical errors’ b/c of potential MALPRACTICE suit. As an MD, I am quite aware of that this is an ugly fact, under appreciated by the general population! There is significant UNDER reporting and UNDER statement of errors by Hospital and Medical personnel. SELF preservation is strong instinct unless it was a GROSS error, which cannot swept under the rug!

        Besides Mortality figures, there is no mention of MORBIDITY/complications resulting in injury!

        Besides, there are errors of omission and commission. Errors due to wrong and or wrong dosage of drugs, allergies NOT in the computer system. Wrong patient and or body part surgery. Please be aware that between 1/3rd and 2/3rd tests and surgeries are NOT MEDICALLY indicated ( By Rand Corp & Fraser Inst-Canada).

        Add to this, increasingly complex regulation, codes and inefficient Medical IT systems which itself resulting in medical errors!

        IMHO the numbers are UNDER REPORTED!

        1. Bob

          As a recently retired physician with 30 years of experience I respectfully disagree. There are internal reviews of patient deaths at every hospital. I have filed complaints when I felt that there were errors. However, to say that 10% of deaths were caused by the medical system is too high. It is far more likely in the range of 2% to 3% and that includes all hospital systems errors, not medical malpractice by physicians.
          I would be interested in a link to the Rand Corp. – Frasier Inst. study. Then again, it was a Rand Corp. study in 2005 that famously claimed that billions of dollars would be saved by using electronic medical records. That study, funded by IBM and Cerner, led to huge profits for IBM, Cerner, and others, while none of the cost savings that were to develop from this effort have appeared. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/business/electronic-records-systems-have-not-reduced-health-costs-report-says.html

          1. skippy

            Were not really feeling the love from IBM wrt its efforts in Oz neither… Queensland Health payroll, Centerlink, nor the Census….

            disheveled…. must be a bug or something….

      2. sunny129

        There is also drastic reduction in number autopsies done since early ’70s at the hospitals (other than for forensic path) again b/c of threat of malpractice suit due – WRONGFUL death or WRONG/missed diagnosis!

        As an intern/Resident I used to attend ‘Mortality rounds’ where autopsy findings were a revelation of limitation of our medical knowledge. Reduction in # is also due to aggressive testing by CT/MRI/PETS?Ultra sound?Nucl Medicine etc. Still they are no substitute for confirmation by Tissue pathology! A lot of TRUTHS remain uncovered! Been there and done that!

        1. Bob

          Again, I respectfully disagree. The drop in autopsies is in part due to the lack of payment, not malpractice cncerns. Who pays for autopsies? Health insurance companies won’t pay because the patient is no longer alive (duh). Most families don’t want to pay out of pocket thousands of dollars for an autopsy. If a case can be made for a criminal act you may get the state to intervene, but that’s (fortunately) very rare.
          Frontline (PBS) covered this, and it is a problem. “Autopsies are not covered under Medicare, Medicaid or most insurance plans, though some hospitals — teaching hospitals in particular — do not charge for autopsies of individuals who passed away in the facility. A private autopsy by an outside expert can cost between $3,000 and $5,000. In some cases, there may be an additional charge for the transportation of the body to and from the autopsy facility.”
          I honestly feel that most physicians would appreciate more autopsies. We often have questions about the cause of death.

      3. LT

        Did a journal really publish an article that said “vaccines cause autism?”
        I remeber it as a debate and suit over a specific vaccine from a specific manufacturer (with specific gov’t contracts).

        1. Bob

          Former doctor Andrew Wakefield published in The Lancet a paper “that implied a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease.”
          “Authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 others, the paper’s scientific limitations were clear when it appeared in 1998. As the ensuing vaccine scare took off, critics quickly pointed out that the paper was a small case series with no controls, linked three common conditions, and relied on parental recall and beliefs. Over the following decade, epidemiological studies consistently found no evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. By the time the paper was finally retracted 12 years later, after forensic dissection at the General Medical Council’s (GMC) longest ever fitness to practise hearing, few people could deny that it was fatally flawed both scientifically and ethically. But it has taken the diligent scepticism of one man, standing outside medicine and science, to show that the paper was in fact an elaborate fraud.”

    4. marieann

      My healthy active 82 year old brother in law died a few weeks ago in a US hospital. He drove himself to the hospital while having a heart attack, a stent was put in and he was to go home in 2 days.
      He became confused because of sedation,was then given more sedation to calm him down, after 14 days spent mostly in bed ( apparently nurses do not get patients up anymore) he developed pneumonia and died.
      As a retired nurse I was not impressed with his care, our family did what we could to care for him to no avail.
      I have always said hospitals are no place for sick people

  3. Corbin Dallas

    DT’s campaign to dehumanize everybody brown or black is proceeding with gusto:

    New Paltz man faces deportation over misdemeanor pot conviction

    Immigration agents deport Houston father of two who previously held immigration reprieve

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When we expose tragedies, but not all tragedies, it’s a tragedy in and of itself.

        Here, we remind ourselves of our failure to expose the slow motion death, over the last 4 or 5 decades, of life in the Rust Belt.

        “They are American workers. They can take it. Nothing to report here. You prick and they don’t bleed.”

        1. Art Eclectic

          The rust belt screamed about gun rights while people in the cities were under assault. The rust belt said “throw the bastards in jail” when it came to pot, crack, and other non-white drug problems. Maybe the rust belt just needs more jails for their opioid addicts? Doesn’t that fall under infrastructure?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not all in the Rust Belt…no more than all immigrants screaming about assaulting victims.

      2. Marina Bart

        You do realize these same agents and bureaucrats were employed under Barack Obama and did similar things, right? The big difference here is that corporate media is now incentivized to cover these abuses, so you will be aware they are happening and blame “the ogre,” instead of the carceral state ramped up by the Clintons and continued under Obama — now with more deportations and surveillance!

        You would be a stronger ally for change if you didn’t default to this phony moralizing, despite how good it makes you feel.

        1. jrs

          I’m not sure that’s entirely true though. In number of deportations Trump has not yet broken any records, but he does seem to be more indiscriminate in who he deports. Yes I read that in the news, well maybe I don’t have the raw statistics themselves on who exactly is being deported, do you if you are so sure Trump is no different than Obama?

          1. Yves Smith

            Trump is deporting people at a slower rate than Obama, about 1/3 his rate. So the “not broken any records” claim is really wide of the mark.

            You have no idea how he has been going about it, given the media bias in reporting. Trump is apparently focusing on people with criminal records, although some of the cases are appear to be recidivism but comparatively minor abuses.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He looks at all colors.

      Even going after Caterpillar (see below).

      Earlier, he dehumanized Hillary who is white, and the CEO’s of Ford, GM, Boeing, etc

      I think the Australian author was white too.

    1. HBE

      Ha, very accurate indeed. One wonders what would happen to coke sales (not really). And the dems think this is their winning strategy.

      1. hunkerdown

        They’ll come back around to “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” mid next year. As they do.

    2. Gareth

      Speaking of which, I just got back from the gym where we are subjected to CNN on a big screen TV, mercifully with the sound on mute, and who was on but Robby effing Mook, smug as ever and talking of course about Russia Russia Russia. It seems were aren’t through with this incompetent SOB yet.

  4. allan

    Oroville: Now that’s a shovel-ready project.

    On the bright side, I expect the place is crawling with Hollywood location scouts.
    You know how much it would cost to recreate that on the back lot?

    1. Ivy

      Back lot and location scout people are always looking to save money. In that regard, they are following in the footsteps of former Governor Pat Brown. He cheaped out on the Oroville budget (as noted by the LACK OF REBAR in the spillway concrete) to get it passed through the California State Assembly.

      Such projects in other parts of the economy, such as real estate, were called “developer-style”, where cheaper capital investment facilitated approval and funding of construction or whatever. That cheap upfront cost got the publicity, votes and loan approvals, while the ongoing operating expenses, maintenance, reinvestment and all-around asset crapification were left to the poor saps who had to live with the project.

      1. bob

        There was plenty of re-bar in the spillway. Those “reports” were based on bad pictures, and people who couldn’t see it in the correct scale.

        Concrete wouldn’t survive curing without without re-bar, not even a week. Peas and carrots, concrete and steel. Add the heat loading from the sun on the slab, which tends to make the concrete larger, and puts the steel under more tension. Without the steel, it would be rubble after a few hours of sun.

        Steel does very well under tension, concrete very well under compression.

        1. Oregoncharles

          If there were rebar in those slabs, it would hang out like spaghetti. I showed the picture to my son, who is a structural engineering draftsman, meaning he draws rebar all day long. First response: no rebar.

          Then he added that in other countries, like the Middle East, it still isn’t standard, as he learned while working on reconstruction projects for Iraq. The buildings were “designed to fall down” – verbatim.

          The spillway will have to replaced in toto, or they can just go with the natural one the water cut. Makes a very attractive waterfall – we all saw those pictures. And now it’s bare rock.

          Fixing the lowest release gate might help, too.

          1. bob

            If you can’t see the re-bar in the slabs, you’re blind. There’s a bunch of it hanging out of the chunks that broke off and got stuck in the teeth at the bottom. There’s more in the slab that’s still there.



            It’s the scale of things that keeps screwing with everyone. It’s there, it’s just normal sized. The spillway is very, very big!

            1. Michael

              rebar comes in sizes, metal types and coatings. grid density, welded or tied, amount of wire grid mesh etc. all these factors present opportunities for costs cutting.

              need a lot more detail than the pictures present.

  5. Roger Smith

    Regarding the new liberal icon: Self-Proclaimed ‘Liberals’ Are Now Fawning Over George W. Bush [Liberty Blitzkrieg]

    Great section from the article:

    In conclusion, we need popular movements, we don’t need stupidity. If you don’t like Trump’s vision, you better have competing vision and be willing and able to articulate it. The status quo is dead. We are in a populist age, with tremendous opportunity to make the world a better place if we can take the moment and run with it. As it stands, the Democratic Party remains business as usual, and if it stays that way, will continue to lose election after election and become a increasingly irrelevant factor in American political life.

    If you don’t want to be an irrelevant victim of history, the time is now to become involved in powerful political movements. This doesn’t include covering your ears, smashing windows and complaining about the Russians.

    1. tongorad

      Nice bit from the faceborg Against Lessor Evilsm page:
      Vocabulary of the Center and Left:
      Progressive is a synonym for Liberal.
      Liberal is not Left.
      Liberal is left-of-center, the Center being the status quo, maintaining what is.
      Liberals are unprincipled. They advocate social equality on such questions as women’s equal pay, abortion, working class jobs programs, welfare state, anti-racist in word only, and transgender rights. Liberals are the primary political force that maintains and protects capitalism and the ruling class by functioning as a model for “proper, reasonable” thinking, and by defining freedom and peace as identity politics rights. Liberals love war. They might show up for a war protest when a Republican is in the Presidency, but never when a Democrat is President. More recently, Liberals have not seen any US illegal invasion they didn’t like. They now like perpetual war.
      Liberal is not Left. The Left is anti-capitalist, anti-war, anti-imperialism, actually anti-racist, in addition to all the other good things Liberals advocate.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Rather than saying the left is “anti-” anything, I would say the left is pro working class; all the antis you list follow from that.

        That distinguishes the left from both liberals and conservatives, who both put markets first, since they are different flavors of neoliberalism.

        1. Mark P.

          Lambert wrote: ‘I would say the left is pro working class; all the antis you list follow from that.’

          The problem with that definition, of course, is that most current working-class jobs really could be automated into non-existence over the next three decades.

        2. Marina Bart

          Speaking for myself, I don’t think that’s accurate. I am an egalitarian. I feel that value point is more relevant. I don’t care whether you spend your days clipping Alzheimer patient toe nails, composing symphonies, writing computer code, or managing some organization (whether it’s the Ford Foundation or Exxon-Mobil). To me, each one of those people should have the same basic quality of life, without hierarchical organization facilitating labor value and asset theft due to power concentration driving a pyramid system in which all wealth and personal freedom is controlled by an ever-narrower and more rapacious tip of society.

          I consider myself FOR human equality across society, as the best way to deliver justice, individual freedom and meaningful community. I oppose capitalism because of its inherent tendency to incentivize hierarchy and exploitation. Likewise liberalism, which, as with conservatism, relies on racism, sexism and xenophobia to divide, exploit, and rule.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I don’t think liberals are unprincipled. They are certainly principled when it comes to hating the left. No pragmatism there, even if it means losing elections.

    2. EndOfTheWorld

      The populist movement for the left was and is Bernie. There is an unsubstantiated rumor he is starting a new political party. Is there any truth to this?

      1. dcblogger

        all his actions point towards a hostile takeover of the Democratic party. He lost with Ellison. Lets see what happens in the primaries of 2018.

      2. Roger Smith

        I know of the #DraftBernie movement which is essentially trying to co-opt him into doing just that. But he is mostly busy playing Democrat and espousing the same useless garbage as that clan. He never had the stones to do what was necessary. He’d rather sit back and make the same obvious statements about healthcare and socioeconomic inequality until he calls it quits.

        1. Montanamaven

          +100. And “Waiting until the next election” to kick butt is also what “liberals” do over and over and over.

        2. Marina Bart

          I guess that’s why he’s walking a picket line in the Deep South, huh?

          Please name the last national Democratic politician who did that — and you can’t name Hillary’s blatant copycat of Bernie this past year.

      3. Edward E

        What good would it do for Bernie to start a new party if he will not raise hell about election fraud and abuse of his delegates? Oh, Russians did it…

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Ah, yes, the vindication of the Shrub just warms the cockles of one’s heart.

      “There is nothing that this man says or does that deserves any praise. He should be sitting in a prison right now along with the other members of his administration who authorize torture and who lied us into a war that cost us thousands upon thousands upon thousands of American lives. He weakened the United States all over the world, the image that they hold of the United States. He squandered all of the good will that we received after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”

    4. Montanamaven

      . This doesn’t include covering your ears, smashing windows and complaining about the Russians.

      Well put. I’m going to use that.

  6. Corey

    programming languages, mostly, suck

    Odd statement. Programming languages are tools, and like all tools some are better than others for accomplishing a particular task, and some work quite well. I read this as, “orbital sanders mostly suck” which seems equally nonsensical. Some orbital sanders are better than others, particularly in the hands of an experienced craftsman. And very few function well when used as a hammer.

    On to the subject of unemployment. A single data point. I was contacted by a professional recruiter yesterday – which happens only very rarely since my résumé is not “out there” – who was looking for leads to fill IT help desk positions in the Southern California region. He said IT unemployment in the region is running at 3% and they have 7800 positions to fill. Jobs? They’re certainly out there for people with basic computer literacy skills and something resembling a decent work ethic (show up on time, don’t be drunk or high, speak decent English).

    1. lb

      programming languages, mostly, suck

      Odd statement. Programming languages are tools, and like all tools some are better than others for accomplishing a particular task, and some work quite well.

      As with many complex tasks, software development is an act of multidimensional balancing. Finding the relevant dimensions (many of which a naive developer will not realize or assume away) and then optimizing across the whole set for given priorities is where much of the difficulty lies. Optimize for A and you lose ground in B, C and D. Fail to recognize B and C, and you may choose very sub-optimally for the overall program. Searching out the set of variables which is even relevant is a big part of being an effective developer, such that you’re even looking a reasonable calculus with which to optimize.

      Programming languages vary greatly in what they incentivize. Many make obscuring these dimensions and writing simple code easy. The tool and the user both bare some responsibility when their collective action goes awry. The tools are not blameless if they incentivize patterns of development which, while easy, do a net harm: higher time and space performance costs (possibly by orders of magnitude!), less maintainable code, etc. A system built upon this sort of patterns, across various layers, can take years to re-write, re-optimize and so forth. For software which is not simply thrown away every few months, but instead which might last as a foundation for years, this is quite costly.

  7. Benedict@Large


    “The damage looks enormous, to me.”

    The more appropriate word would be “catastrophic”. The spillway appears to have been built on the local bedrock, which has been deeply broken and washed away. My guess is that the entire spillway will have to be redesigned with at least a partial relocation, and built again from scratch, a project perhaps several years in duration.

    1. polecat

      The ‘bedrock’ appears to be serpentine .. what washed away was the ‘deconstructed’ spillway, and the ‘fill’ between it and the bedrock.
      And, yes .. Catastrophic it be …

      1. Scylla

        Serpentine crossed my mind as well as I know there is alot of it in CA, but the samples I have seen were more colorful, so I was not sure (we have no serpentine deposits in my region for me to compare to). Serpentine has a great many flaws and weak areas, making it easy for the exposed bedrock to be broken up and removed. This may explain why so much was eroded. (although CA geology is heavily folded as well, which creates many joints in the rock-either way, 100,000 cfs is going to break off anything that is not extremely well consolidated/without flaws) Serpentine is formed in mid-ocean spreading areas, where hot rock is in contact with subsurface water at high temperature, cauing shock fractures that fill with minerals as the rock moves away from the spreading center and cools- this is why there are so many flaws/fractures in serpentine. (It is also a gorgeous stone when polished- I have serpentine tile on my bathroom floor). I did a quick search and serpentine is commonly crushed and used as aggregate out there, so the deposits of it in the river are sure to be recovered and used for such.
        I am still not certain what the bedrock is, and I would need to see a sample. I am also certain that the concrete from the spillway would be a minor component in the alluvial fan now extending into the river at the base of the spillway.

        1. bob

          Agree on the spillway concrete. Pebbles on a mountain.

          I got a huge kick out of them using helicopters to try and move material. If a helicopter (max payload 5-10 tons, good day) can move your rocks, a lake won’t have much trouble with them.

          You can see in some of the film where they told the helicopters to dump the bags of rocks- WAY over to the left, away from the equipment that was actually doing something in the emergency spillway area.

          “you want us to fly rocks?”

          “Yes, the TV cameras love that!”

            1. bob

              I don’t believe so. They were pouring concrete, or grout, really, onto the emergency spill way area. The were putting the rocks, carried in bags, below the parking lot.

              I just checked the video from today. they’re still uncovered, all the way to the left, looking at the spillway area from the bottom.

              It was theater. Anytime you see helicopters trying to move any weight, it’s a desperation move. You have no other choice.

              As soon as you can start building a road, you do. Then, don’t let the helicopters near the road. They’re dangerous! You have to keep them separated by thousands of feet, whereas a 50 ton mining dump truck can work within inches of another. Trucks can also work at night.

            2. bob


              That shows one of the helicopter flights from upstream of the dam area. They fly all the way past the emergency spillway, where all the equipment is working, and place the bag in the area under the parking lot.

              There’s another video from that time that shows the whole downstream face of the area, and you can clearly spot the bags piled up, all the way to the left, away from anything they might be able to drop them on.

              It was a dangerous, and costly way to keep the press and TV cameras occupied.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Serpentine is beautiful.

          Many Hongshan jades (oldest jade culture, older than Liangzhu) – among them pig-dragons and alien looking ones – are serpentine, not nephrite.

          Thanks for the information on how it was formed.

    2. Scylla

      At about :58 into the video, you can see what looks like deep, native soil under the spillway (I say native because I see no riprap or granulation to indicate gravel placement during construction).
      This would NEVER be done with modern dam construction on such a large reservoir. All native soil would be removed down to bedrock. The bedrock would be pressure washed and then large diameter rebar would be inserted and grouted into the rock (usually at a right angle to the strata in my experience- but that would be difficult at Oroville due to the stratigraphic layers being tilted so strongly toward the vertical) Rebar would protrude out of the rock. If the rock was poorly consolidated or unstable, a high strength concrete cap would be installed atop the bedrock, and then grout would be injected through the cap and into the bedrock below to increase strength and stability. Roller compacted concrete, which is concrete that has a very low water content when mixed, allowing it to be placed without forms, would be placed atop the bedrock until the subgrade for the spillway was reached, and then the high-strength concrete for the spillway proper would be poured in place atop the spillway. Rebar in the spillway would be directly tied to rebar in the roller compacted concrete, and via the RCC rebar to the rebar inserted into the bedrock. Let me stress that huge amounts of rebar are used- much more than the minimal amount that appears to be evident in the video. This all creates an extremely high strength and well anchored spillway. I have seen this done on dams much, much smaller than Oroville, so it would certainly be worth doing there- and of course, this is why a replacement spillway will have an astronomic, but necessary, cost.

      1. bob

        “you can see what looks like deep, native soil under the spillway”

        probably the edge between soil and rock. It’s the “red stuff”. It’s not very good rock. The grey/bluer stuff is what they put all the load on top of. The “span” was probably built between two high points in the better grey/blue rock, over the “red” stuff.

        It’s probably also why the slope of the dam was more of less constant through that bit of the spillway. They didn’t want any, or much down force on that.

        There’s a ton of good discussion on the geology of the area out there.

        The plane of the grey stuff is not helping. It seems to be tilted to the right, toward the main dam, and back, toward the dam. You can see the layering under the giant teeth at the bottom.

        The whole “central valley” is a story of eons of “dam failure” type occurrences, but before dams. Water would somehow get impounded in the higher valleys, build up and then go around, or over the impoundment, and then flood out onto the valley floor.

        It’s very cool geology. Real time geology.

      2. bob

        This is a liitle PSA type film real of them building the dam-


        The dam itself is not concrete. The “ORO” in Oroville gives away the larger story- Someone had giant piles of mine tailing to get rid of.

        The RR they built, and the other infrastructure, is really impressive.

        This is a few photos of an accident during construction where a fully loaded train hit head on an unloaded train.


        A locomative, almost airborne.

        The dam has a concrete core, but the much larger mass is the mine waste spread over the top of it. The PSA doesn’t show much of the spillway.

        1. bob

          Korea is the re-bar champ.

          re-bar is low quality steel, to begin with. In more plain terms, it’s probably closer to what they’d use as feedstock for making higher quality steel.

          In concrete and steel construction, all you want out of the steel is “tension resistance”. Ductility. Higher quality steel is usually “harder” and therefore more rigid and less ductile. “Stronger”, yes. But you don’t need “stronger”, and you certainly don’t want the cost (4x+ as much)

          1. JTMcPhee

            Hey, bob, don’t confuse us with engineering factoids! The meme is so much more fun!

            For anyone not clear on Murphy’s law, entropy, human arrogance, and all that, might I put in a plug for a book by my distant cousin, John McPhee, titled archly and sarcastically and ironically “The Control Of Nature.” Takes one to the reality of puny human Great Plans to “control” the motions of Mother Nature, particularly in the form of the great central rivers of the United States, including the Mississippi that so poignantly divides the land mass. A capsule: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77.The_Control_of_Nature He’s written a lot of other articles and books on a wide variety of topices, with a talent and acuity and careful prose that I wish I had ..

            There’s no need for any disclaimer — my only relation to him is that a distant relative got kicked out of Scotland and then Ireland as part of an earlier ‘neoliberal’ exercise — enclosure, potato famine, etc.

    3. Aumua

      Conspicuously missing from the video is what we actually want to see: the damage and it’s location in relation to the top of the spillway. Maybe they don’t want to freak people out..

  8. Jim Haygood

    I worried that this was one of our valued correspondents, until noting it’s from Japan:

    A lonely Japanese man who amassed more than six tons of porn died when a huge pile of magazines fell on top of him. Even more tragically, the man’s body was only discovered six months later when the landlord entered the flat to find out why the rent had not been paid.

    The dead man, a 50-year-old former carmaker identified only by the name Joji, had died buried underneath under a pile of the pornographic magazines. At the time of his death the collection weighed in at six metric tons (13,228 pounds).


    Yep, that’s Japan — they actually weighed them. Prolly counted them too.

    Remember, folks: laptops save lives.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > six tons of porn

      Of course, if the six tons that buried the guy were portraits of Benjamin Franklin, we’d be hailing him as an exemplar of all that is fully human. So there we are.

      But what a great link! There’ll always be a Japan.

    2. Tom

      I’m more impressed by Japan’s exceptional building codes. The 6-ton stash of a porn-hoarder in the U.S. would plunge right through the cheap OSB subfloor and wind up in the basement.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Probably right about the building codes in the US. I can’t believe his landlord didn’t check on him earlier than six months for not paying the rent.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Seriously, everything is reinforced concrete construction in Japan, designed to withstand earthquakes.

        The only wooden houses left are some ancient ones in Kyoto. They didn’t have OSB back then. :-)

    3. Marina Bart

      As I mentioned in passing in a comment yesterday, physical pleasure is a far more powerful driver of behavior than pain.

      Unfortunately, our ruling class enjoys hurting us more than it enjoys — well, anything else, really.

      Also, just to slip into stereotypes for a moment: man, you dudes and your porn*. There are ways to prevent the need for this much new stimuli to achieve your desired result. Really.

      * Yes, yes, people of all genders and orientations enjoy porn. But six tons of it? That’s duderific.

    4. bob



      Good one showing a couple of people in the spillway, for scale.

      There’s also one from march 2, which shows the repairs to the emergency spillway.


      They’re doing a ton of work, quickly. The equipment they were able to bring to bear is impressive. Coordinating that much takes skill. “bring some things heavier than tanks in, and then work with them, without crashing, within inches of each other.”

      You can chart the work over the days. DWR seems to be the only reliable outlet for footage now.


  9. Scylla

    Re: Oroville
    I studied geology, and I am now involved in civil engineering and construction inspection. I also have some past experience with dams, although much smaller ones than Oroville of course. That is the most detailed video I have seen to date. The damage could be repaired of course, but the cost would be ridiculous and so there will be no repairs (on that spillway at that location). As I suspected would be the case, they are removing the alluvial deposits on the riverbed first- these likely will cause problems for the powerhouse by preventing efficient outflow. Those alluvial deposits (limestone, or possibly some kind of chert- I could not decide from the video, and I know eastern US geology much better than CA geology) look like excellent aggregate material that I would suspect will be used to construct an entirely new spillway at another location. The existing spillway will then be decomissioned, demo’d, and the eroded slope/new canyon will be stabilized to prevent future erosion due to rainfall. There is a great deal of discussion regarding the benefits of dams vs. the impact on the environment. I bet there will be talk of decomissioning the entire dam, especially considering the cost that is going to be associated with cleanup and construction of a new spillway. I do not think this will be the outcome however. My guess from 3000 miles away is that a new spillway will be constructed to the northwest of the existing one, and that this may or may not utilize the existing spillway flood control gates. New gates would be better due to the complications of the hydraulics as the outflow from the existing gates would have to be redirected to the right after leaving the gates, and we are talking about a huge amount of kinetic energy considering the high rates of Q (flow volume/velocity), so new gates would be much safer, but much more expensive as well.
    My 2 cents anyway.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        What I’m hearing from my California friends is that downstream of the spillway and elsewhere in the hills is now prime gold prospecting ground again.
        Silver (or should I say gold) lining!

      2. Scylla

        I wouldn’t say expert, but I was a surveyor for two smallish eastern dam projects (the size you would find in medium sized state parks -$30 million range projects in the 2000’s). I just found the projects to be much more interesting than what I was used to, and paid attention. I work for an agency now that has control of many (small) dams across the US, which has been renovating many of them. Although I do some work with hydraulics for unrelated projects, I do not take part in any of these dam renovations. I do have conversations with the engineers that do though, just because I find dams interesting due to my past experience on them. Oroville is orders of magnitude larger than the ones I worked on- so I am basically just extrapolating. I might be way off!

        1. Edward E

          I would just cut a channel in the bedrock for the new spillway and be the end of it.

      1. bob

        pebbles on a beach. The deposits below the spill way are thousands, if not millions of multiples of the mass of the former spillway.

  10. EndOfTheWorld

    George W. Bush doesn’t like Trump because Trump demolished the Bush dynasty by annihilating W’s purportedly “smarter brother” in the primary. He also defeated W’s other hugmate, HRC, thereby demolishing the Clinton dynasty as well. And he called out W himself for blowing trillions of dollars on the stupid Iraq invasion which could have been spent on infrastructure.

    BTW, there is no reason to pay any attention at all to what W says about anything. Ignore him and he will eventually quit trying. That’s what happened to Dick Cheney.

    1. RUKidding

      Bingo! Agree with what you wrote.

      Why anyone would seek to quote W and/or use him as some sort of “expert” or whatever is way beyond my imagination.

      Of course the Bush Crime Syndicate hates Trump for taking them DOWN. It’s one of Trump’s redeeming features. That and taking down the Clinton Crime Syndicate.

      No surprises to see Michelle hugging the shrubya. Birds of a feather….

    2. JohnnyGL

      “George W. Bush doesn’t like Trump because Trump demolished the Bush dynasty by annihilating W’s purportedly “smarter brother” in the primary. He also defeated W’s other hugmate, HRC, thereby demolishing the Clinton dynasty as well. And he called out W himself for blowing trillions of dollars on the stupid Iraq invasion which could have been spent on infrastructure.”

      My goodness, those words made me want to pledge allegiance to president Trump. He’s an a-hole, and I hate him as much as any self-respecting lefty, but we really owe him a debt of gratitude. For this deed alone, he’s a true American patriot!

      1. RUKidding

        There’s lots to dislike about Trump, but there are a few things he’s done for which I’ll be eternally grateful. These are 2 examples.

  11. toolate

    Can someone tell me how this is NOT a lie?
    “I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.

    Now I understand that this is really NOt the best reason to be opposing Sessions as AG, but this is politics after all

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      He could have legitimately conversed with a Russian in his role as US Senator, a la “Claire de Lune” from the show-me state.

      It’s hard to believe this “kick out Sessions” movement is going anywhere. If you want to prosecute somebody for a conversation, a more likely target would have been Loretta Lynch chatting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac, on national TV, while her Justice Department was purportedly investigating his purported wife.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Are they being too easy on Sessions?

        I mean, don’t we also have to be wary that he communicated with the British ambassador or Cuba diplomats, for example?

        “The conspiracy is huge. They talk via third or fourth parties.”

        Did he talk with the Syrians, via Tusi, or the Vatican via Bernie Sanders?

        What was Sanders doing in Rome (and this was during the campaign)? Should we look into that?

    2. Jess

      It’s my understanding that the first of these “contacts” with the Russians was at a Heritage Foundation event at which Sessions gave a speech. After he concluded, a handful of the 50 ambassadors from various countries in attendance converged on the stage where Sessions received their compliments on the speech. Several mentioned that they would invite him to upcoming events of various types, and he supposedly was non-committal about attending. So if that’s a heinous, treasonous contact with the evil Rooskies, I’d say we’re stretching things more than a little.

      I understand that the other meeting was in Dec, and may be explained away by the idea that Sessions interpreted the question as applying to contacts prior to the election.

    3. RUKidding

      I’d love love love to see nothing more of Sessions. Ergh.

      But I fail to see how this Russia nonsensical hype is enough to kick him out. I thought Sessions talked to a Russian Ambassador. Don’t politicians talk to Ambassadors periodically? When has that become illegal?

      Someone I know said breathlessly “but but but the Roooskie Ambassador is a KNOWN SPY!!!1!!” I said: mebbe, but I think most Ambassadors from most countries, including our own, probably could be deemed spies, as well. What? Are we now saying that no US politiican can EVER talk to ANY ambassador bc Spy??

      Really this is all just whacky.

      1. Montanamaven

        Talking to ambassadors is called “diplomacy”. There should be more of that. So nothing to see here except th Dems trying to distract from Hilary’s loss. However, Sessions should be removed for being a weasel and a pathological and stupid liar. But then they would have to remove most of D.C. Power players.

        What about this theory? Trump is putting in his cabinet and inner circle a lot of weasels. Then they get investigated. Then they get booted. “Not my fault,” he says. Win win. Is that Maybe too conspiratorial a way to drain the swamp?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What if Sessions’ contact was a Syrian refugee taxi driver?

          Did he communicate with any Syrians?

    4. marku52

      I believe the full, unedited quote is “I didn’t have conversations with the Russians about the campaign”

      That’s rather different, and conceivably even true. Funny how that critical word got left out of the media accounts.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          OK, let’s say he did actually make a statement to the US Congress that was not 100% accurate. So what?

          The Democratic Establishment (which is of course 100% truthful every second of every minute—ha, ha) has no “next move” to make. It’s grandstanding.

          1. HotFlash

            Scuse me, he denied having ‘sexual relations” with ‘that woman’. There is a difference, or something.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Did he lie? To ascertain, you would have to ask him a few more times, framing the same question differently to make sure he understands what you’re asking.

          That’s how it works, usually, to ensure the person doesn’t disadvantage himself for not understanding the question correctly

          “You sure? You never chatted casually, waved hi, communicated, were in contact or in the vicinity of any Russian officials, in any place, say the Heritage Foundation, any time, before and after the election?”

        3. YY

          I get the impression that the questioning was designed to elicit a “no” answer, and Sessions obliged without realizing that the technical “no” would result in later smear by the press that are so willingly and easily manipulated. Whether it be Sessions or Flynn, it does not make sense that these people would be unaware that the Russian ambassador would be subject to constant and heavy US security monitoring. So meetings and calls would not just be known but potentially be widely known in IC. The lessons the Dems have learned from the “opposition” in Whitewater and Bengazi should not have been the advantages of pursuit of scandal, but of how futile unfounded investigations are. Having the press in your pocket does not make fundamentally fantastic stories real and they certainly appear not to have gamed out the logical conclusions to what they are doing, assuming they are that self-aware.

    5. Yves Smith

      Please read the Vanity Fair piece carefully. It gives the context of the question.

      And more narrowly, Sessions disputes being a surrogate when acting as a Senator on whatever intel committee he was on and did not communicate with “the Russians” on behalf of the Trump campaign.

  12. Benedict@Large

    Wow! The Ventusky weather map is simply awesome. It may not entire replace my weather apps, but it will certainly go a long way. A definite keeper.

    1. Cujo359

      Agreed. It’s pretty impressive, and the wind direction animation is both mesmerizing and useful information I can’t find anywhere else.

    2. JustAnObserver

      Yes. Really great. Only thing missing for me is any option, as far as I can tell, to add isobars as per a standard synoptic chart.

    1. dbk

      No, pretty sure it wasn’t in links. What a mess. The Journal Star is providing continuous updates.

      The new CEO, Jim Umpleby, stated he was “sorry we had to experience this today”, which goes nicely with his Jan 31 out-of-the-blue announcement that Cat loves Peoria so much it’s moving to Chicago. Umpleby could use some help with his messaging these days.

      Oh well, all the best Fortune 500 countries are doing it (hiding profits in what are essentially – or actually – shell companies abroad). Cat’s appears to be in Switzerland – at least, the one IRS, FDIC et alii are currently investigating.

  13. Clive

    Billing systems are usually the most complex an organisation runs and therefore in the top two or three most failure-prone.

    The problem is the plethora of inputs (customer details, product purchases, rate cards, payment methods, marketing incentives applied, feeds from the purchase ledger, sales taxes, currencies in use, ForEx rates…), outputs (invoices, itemisation, payment terms, acknowledged payments made, flagged payments due or missed, penalties applied, feeds to the sales ledger, CRM updating…) plus ad-hoc exceptional procedures such as chargebacks, chargeback reversals, bounced cheques, putting particular customers “on stop” or cash-only.

    Etc. etc. etc.

    Most import and export jobs are scheduled and are marked as critical to complete in the job scheduler. This means that the entire billing cycle gets halted if a particular job fails. And because an unpaid account usually means a customer has their services suspended, a failed billing cycle can end up fooling the system into thinking all (or a lot of) customers haven’t paid and automatically locking them out.

    Thus billing systems are open gasoline cans running around looking for a small child playing with matches.

    1. HBE

      Informative (thanks), but the real reason I had to comment is that last line, brilliant.

      “Thus billing systems are open gasoline cans running around looking for a small child playing with matches.”
      – Clive circa 2017

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for pointing out that great quote from Clive’s post. I grabbed it and put into a text file. I may not get an opportunity to apply Clive’s formulation to billing systems but it holds potential for numerous substitutions in place of billing systems.

  14. ChrisAtRU

    Ummm … this just came across via #Twitter



    “The alt-right receives the meatiest share of attention in the media, as it should. It’s powerful, vicious, steeped in neo-Nazi ideology, nativist white supremacy, men’s-rights misogyny, and Ayn Rand capitalist übermensch mythos, and it heralds a conquering hero in the White House in President Donald J. Trump, while the former executive chairman of the venereally right-wing Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, functions as despot whisperer, trickling Iago-ish poison into Trump’s receptive skull.

    The alt-left can’t match that for strength, malignancy, or tentacled reach, but its dude-bros and “purity progressives” exert a powerful reality-distortion field online and foster factionalism on the lib-left. Its outlets include not only Jacobin but also the Intercept, one of whose co-founders is the inexhaustible Glenn Greenwald, lawyer, author, journalist, and crucial conduit for Edward Snowden’s stolen N.S.A. data to The Guardian; Web sites such as Truthdig, Consortiumnews, and Naked Capitalism; and anomalous apostates such as Mickey Kaus, a former contributor to liberal percolators of ideas and opinions such as Washington Monthly, the New Republic, Harper’s, and Slate, who migrated sideways and down to the right-wing Daily Caller, did a temporary hitch as a columnist for the Breitbart bughouse in 2016, and serves as a tweeting defender of Trump’s proposed wall. Other busy beavers on Twitter include Michael Tracey, Freddie deBoer, Mark Ames, Connor Kilpatrick (a Jacobin contributor), Jeremy Scahill (journalist and Intercept co-founder), and similar fun guys.”

    Just when I thought I was part of a “shadow culture” … #NowIBeAltLeft

    Have at it …

    1. Buttinsky

      The alt-left can’t match that for strength, malignancy, or tentacled reach, but its dude-bros and “purity progressives” exert a powerful reality-distortion field online and foster factionalism on the lib-left.

      What a whiny load of hackery. I started to write something longer, but then decided that Mr. Wolcott’s “reality” is so clearly unhinged tribalism — his appeal to the tribe’s most beloved and trite myths (didn’t he mean Putin-loving dude-bros and purity progressives?) as pathetic as it is condescending — that engaging such nonsense would be as much a waste of time as performing an exorcism on DailyKos. It’s nice to think it might do some good… but really.

      1. bob

        “But if the Deep State can rid us of the blighted presidency of Donald Trump, all I can say is “Go, State, go.””

        We can agree on the last part. Please, just go. As a mater of fact, if that’s all you can say, in 1300 words– get the fuck out of the way. A lot of other people have a lot of other shit to say. You assholes keep grabbing the platform, pretending the mob is a parade, and singing along to “go, state, go(Plus mad love to Wall St!!!)”, in some sort of noble exercise of sneering?

        Who’s the god damned obstructionist now?

    2. RUKidding

      Everyone, including Vanity Fair, loves to indulge in Hippy Punching. It’s the national past time, doncha know??

      Vanity Fair gets brownie points for that swill.

    3. jrs

      the alt left doesn’t EVEN EXIST (and the alt-right should probably just be called hard right or else less flattering terms, as they seem to fit the description and I’ve never been sure why we need a new word).

      What he is describing is just leftish political commentators, or if he needed a new word he could call them non-Dem party left (which he would probably find useful even though we could argue about the Dem party not being left of course).

    4. LT

      The alt-right recieves the most attention in the media because the media establishment (like the writer of th article) and DC establishment have belief systems closEr to the alt-right. The alt-right is just the ugly face for their unspoken beliefs and the ugly face of the results of their policies
      Nothing more racist than imperialist thought and action, even when you rebrand it as humanitarian intervention. The alt-right they’re clutching their pearls over are just repeating what they have learned from institutions.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Grand opening day:

    The elusive British artist Banksy has opened a hotel wedged up against the Israeli security wall that wraps around Bethlehem.

    All of its rooms look out onto the wall’s bleak concrete slabs and its upper floors stand eye-to-eye with the Israeli watch towers that loom over parts of Bethlehem.

    The hotel was built in complete secrecy over a 14-month period, surprising even Palestinian officials when its doors suddenly flew open on Friday.

    The hotel opening is designed to coincide with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. “It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture – with chaotic results,” Banksy said.

    No amount of luxury can shield guests from the ever-present wall which fills the view from all of the windows and the balcony. The hotel is built in Area C of the occupied West Bank, meaning that Israelis are able to come.


    Kinda like the former Berlin Wall. Except this time round, we’re the wall builders, instead of the heroes airlifting essentials into Tempelhof. It’s what happens when you pick bad friends.

    1. Clive

      Shhh! Please don’t mention the British and Palestine. We’re desperate to have everyone forget about the whole unfortunateness. We can’t quite believe no-one blames the whole Middle East thing on us, it’s really all our fault. But, like Benny Hill chasing the scantily clad women at the end of the show which you’d have thought would have us made into unforgivable international pariahs, somehow we got away with it.

      1. Marina Bart

        On a related note, I was just discussing with my kid this morning how awesome it is that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise launched itself using the East India Company as the underlying villain. Casting a tiny (incredibly talented) Oxbridge grad made it even better.

      2. Annotherone

        Maybe it’s because native Brits (self included) tend to say “Sorry” rather a lot at any and every opportunity; so it’s taken as a given that Brits are…well sorry.

  16. footnote4

    Love the Erica Garner tweet. Rachel Dolezal is a real problem for the usual idpol narratives. Singer Rihanna’s reaction when the news came out:

    “I think she was a bit of a hero, because she kind of flipped on society a little bit. … Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people’s perspective a bit and woke people up.”

    No no, that will never do. Black isn’t really great as in something you would choose for expressing your deepest sense of identity. It’s “great” in a sad-face-liberal-virtue-signalling-to-our-entrapped-underclass way. Can’t have people’s perspectives changed.

    1. Marina Bart

      I only know her from following her on Twitter, but I have nothing but respect and admiration for Erica Garner. If the Democrats were a real political party, she’d be elevated, not frauds like Deray and Tom Perez. She is far more skilled at communications, on top of all of her other strengths.

      I want a party where Erica Garner and Josh Fox are the up-and-comers. Now that’s a coalition. Oh, wait, someone had that awesome coalition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP4Xasc1t7Q

      Has anyone anywhere mentioned the distasteful tone deafness of elite Democratic women wearing white to symbolize their virtue, thus reinforcing the racist idea, deeply embedded in our culture, that darkness and blackness are evil and whiteness and lack of color represents purity and virtue?

      Aren’t they all supposed to be super-woke?

  17. solarguy

    About the Oroville dam, fantastic footage.
    I keep waiting for someone to mention that there doesn’t appear to be any rebar holding the spillway together? I would expect to see a twisted mass of rebar holding massive chunks of concrete, but I just don’t see any. And also expecting to see pieces of rebar sticking out into the air from the existing broken concrete?

    1. JustAnObserver

      Not only no rebar but … maybe its just a trick of the perspective … but the spillway looks incredibly thin esp. considering the volume of water its supposed handle. IIRC it was designed for 150000 ft^3/sec and was dumping 100000+ ft^3/sec during the worst part of the crisis.

      And how, exactly, do they propose to rebuild it before the next rainy season?

      People in the Oroville area must be the only CAians hoping for a return of the drought.

    2. JustAnObserver

      One possibility: Rebar’s used – I think – to handle tension loading which concrete on its own is very poor at doing. Maybe the engineers/designers were convinced that the spillway would only ever be under compressive loads & so that $$$ could be saved by doing without rebar.

  18. Portia

    I almost died in 1999 due to: error by anesthesiologist during cervical laminectomy operation, then MRSA infection in neck operation site, then heparin concentration mistake (way too concentrated) in injection to clear midline for antibiotic to cure MRSA infection. I could have died at least three different ways. I am grateful, I obviously have kickass guardian angels. but not everybody is that fortunate. My surgeon listened to me, though.

  19. LT

    Thoughts on this hypothetical “grand bargain 2.0”?

    (A couple of excerpts below)

    “This bipartisan policy shift has been proposed before, most notably by the Progressive Policy Institute in their November 2016 report by Joseph E. Aldy: “Long-Term Carbon Policy: The Great Swap“. He described the CLC proposal in “The Great Swap” at Democracy — “Does a deal now gaining momentum across the aisle actually have the potential to break the stalemate on climate change?” Aldy describes the result in delusional terms.

    “Republicans would tap into new revenues to support a sweeping tax overhaul. …An economy-wide carbon tax would produce substantial revenues — as much as several hundred billion dollars annually — that could finance significant reductions in existing tax rates. For example, a credible carbon tax could allow for significant cuts to payroll taxes to benefit workers and to reduce corporate income tax rates to promote business investment. It could also finance the infrastructure investment the President-elect has highlighted as part of his incoming Administration’s agenda.”

    “The Democrats will have to give up something to get a carbon tax. My guess is the GOP will offer the Democrats a harsh choice: tax carbon if they agree that the bulk of the proceeds go to tax cuts for the rich and corporations. That would complete the Democrats’ great betrayal, begun in the 1970’s, abandoning their long support for America’s workers to embrace polices sought by upper class professionals, managers and academics. That would be a logical decision, since the middle and lower classes are weak and apathetic — while the upper classes are politically mobilized and affluent.

    If the GOP makes the offer, how will the Democrats choose? The Republicans faced such a choice in the 1960s. Their decision has made them powerful.”

    1. HotFlash

      He has been for ages. That is one of the things that makes Bernie’s endorsement — and BHO’s vigorous pushback — so very interesting.

  20. Jen

    From End of an era

    Refund by Karen E. Bender
    “There is nothing that makes me question the familiarity of American pundits with the actual emotional experience of human life like the attempt to overrule fear with statistics. They hear a million voices express their worry, their fear, their sense of narrowing possibility and respond with a chart titled: Well Actually, Things Are Better Than Ever. Nobody likes the chart and the pundits don’t understand. “Why do so many people feel the economy is failing when projections for the gross domestic product are so positive?” “Why do these middle class people think they’re like, poor?” “Why does behavior keep failing to correspond to the rational implications of statistics?” Tens of millions of Americans rush into the arms of a fascist who promises to assuage these fears, and our punditry responds by issuing a fact check: Wrong again, assholes!”

    That there is a beautiful summation.

    1. different clue

      If the alt.left is already enough of a problem that second-tier establishment magazines are writing stories against it, then it is already making progress.

      So be of good cheer, alt. left. You are making an impact.

    2. bob

      It’s not even a good hit piece. The idea that Eileen Jones is any sort of “voice” is hilarious. I like her writing about films, but I think she’d agree that to put her up as someone with any kind of power, or even stage, is — laughable, man.

      She got a kick out of it-


      I can die happy now: I’m hated by James Wolcott of Vanity Fair for representing the dastardly “alt-left.”

  21. different clue

    About the DNC’s ” innovative small-donation mission-targeted” digital fundraising thingy . .
    Maybe it is a Darwin selection protocol to see who is stupid enough to send in money on that basis . . . and keep their names in a database of future willing junior activists for various political tasks.

    1. Marina Bart

      It’s such a good sign that if the left is just fairly disciplined, and doesn’t fall for the pussy cap brigade’s pleas for unity, we can kick those parasites out yet.

      I’m hoping.

    2. HotFlash

      Ok, so HOW small a donation can I send them? Seems to me that 10 cents should create a negative ‘donation’ at their end, what with processing fees and all. And I could send them lots of 10 cent donations. Oh, and I am out of country, so they would have to process that and ask for my passport # and such to make sure I am donating legally. Sounds like fun.

  22. marym

    Exclusive: Trump admin. plans expanded immigrant detention

    The Trump administration is planning to radically expand the program and facilities for the detention of immigrant families seeking asylum in the United States, according to documents obtained exclusively by All In.
    The plans for the expansion reflect the Trump administration’s planned overhaul of U.S. policy for dealing women and children seeking asylum, thousands of whom continue to show up at the southern border fleeing violence, vengeance and sexual assault in Central America.

    Under the plan under consideration, DHS would break from the current policy keeping families together. Instead, it would separate women and children after they’ve been detained – leaving mothers to choose between returning to their country of origin with their children, or being separated from their children while staying in detention to pursue their asylum claim.

    This is sick.

    1. marym

      and yes I know this is building on Obama’s and Clinton (send them back to send a message)’s legacy too.

      1. Marina Bart

        When Obama did it without comment and notice, it was bad.

        When Clinton advocated something crueler and more lethal, that was bad.

        This is also bad. Those detention centers were already a nightmare under Obama, IIRC. What’s the excuse for the “family values” party doing this? This is the sort of thing liberal women ought to be motivated to address. I hope they will. If they stopped being mean to Ivanka at yoga class, they might find her a useful ally. It’s worth a try.

    1. bob

      Thank you for sharing that one. Great stuff there, will keep me busy for the weekend. I’d found some of that, but to see all that material in one place is great.

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