Links 3/23/17

How to hunt for a black hole with a telescope the size of Earth Nature News (furzy)

The Meaning of Life (Part I) Independent Science News

Scientists evade the Heisenberg uncertainty principle ScienceDaily (Chuck L)

With Astronomy Rewind, citizen scientists bring zombie astrophotos back to life PhysOrg. Chuck L: “A new citizen-science project; this one for astronomy aficionados.”

“Dig once” bill could bring fiber Internet to much of the US ars technica (Chuck L)

Tesla’s the target of a law firm that claims it overplayed its self-driving capabilities — and it could wind up in court Business Insider (David L)

It’s happening! It’s happening! W3C erects DRM as web standard The Register (Chuck L). Important.

When CVS stopped selling cigarettes, some customers quit smoking Reuters

Children understand far more about other minds than long believed PsyPost (Chuck L)

Researchers create self-sustaining bacteria-fueled power cell PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Who Has The Healthiest Hearts In The World? NPR


What Would Happen in the Hours and Minutes After a US-China War Started? Vice (resilc)

U.S. Preparing Cases Linking North Korea to Theft at N.Y. Fed Wall Street Journal

Five dead, around 40 injured in UK parliament ‘terrorist’ attack Reuters (furzy)


Barnier warns UK of queues and shortages if Brexit talks fail Financial Times. 435 comments, which is extremely high for the pink paper.

One Sole Aim: “Steal Away” Global Finance from London Don Quijones, Wolf Street. As we’ve been sayin’ for some time…

EU has finally run out of patience with Britain Financial Times

Gesine Schwan: Schauble wanted and wants to overthrow SYRIZA failed evolution


‘Destruction of Israel’ is its abandonment by American Jews Mondoweiss (Chuck L)

New Cold War

#$@&%*! Irrusianality (Chuck L). Useful if you need to debunk Russian hysteria.

The Temporal Feint in Adam Schiff’s Neat Narrative Marcy Wheeler (Chuck L)

AP: Paul Manafort had plan to benefit Putin government St. Paul Pioneer Press. Chuck L: “Is this any different than ex-Congress Critters lobbying for Israel, Saudi Arabia or other countries?”

Trump Transition

Poll: Trump’s Base Support Is Eroding Daily Beast (resilc)

Hill Republicans say they’re growing frustrated with Mattis Politico (resilc)

Trump the Destroyer Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

The Donald Trump Show Is Flopping New Republic

What Trump’s SEC Pick Needs to Explain Bloomberg

Trump withdraws reappointment nomination of popular whistleblower advocate Washington Post (furzy)

Supreme Court reins in president’s appointment powers Reuters. EM: “Specific case involved the Obama administration, not the Trump one, though the precedent will clearly apply going forwad.”

What’s In President Trump’s Tax Returns? Lee Sheppard, Forbes. Lots of useful detail, to wit:

Purchasing US real estate is a favorite way for Russians, Chinese and other newly rich to move money of dubious origin or just beat the capital controls in their own countries. Being at the receiving end of money whose movement at least violated capital controls in its country of origin isn’t money laundering. Under the statute, the launderer is the financial intermediary that enabled the transfers. Actual knowledge of concealment or unlawful activity is required (18 USC section 1956).

Muslims inside FBI describe culture of suspicion and fear: ‘It is cancer‘ Guardian. Note Comey was already trying to address this before Trump won. This is not a new issue.


Freedom Caucus Closing In On Deal To Rewrite Health Care Bill At 11th Hour Huffington Post

29 Solid No Votes From Republicans On GOP Health Care Bill (Updated to 32) Decision Desk HQ (UserFriendly). Live updated whip count.

What we’re hoping for with the Obamacare repeal vote: that the rage of the GOP will overwhelm its reason Corey Robin (martha r)

GOP’s Health Plan: Tracking Key Changes One Amendment at a Time Bloomberg

AHCA would cost Americans roughly $33 billion a year in higher out-of-pocket costs by 2026 Economic Policy Institute

Exclusive: Lead poisoning afflicts neighborhoods across California Reuters (EM)

Regulators Seek Rare Lifetime Ban for Two Bankers National Law Journal (Mark H)

Two Ohio coal-fired plants to close, deepening industry decline Reuters. EM: “I am skeptical of the ‘a victory for environmental activists’ claim, since swapping coal for natgas may prove a dubious proposition, global-warming wise, methane being a far more potent – albeit shorter-lived – greenhouse gas than CO2. Sure, natgas-fired plants burn nearly 100% of the fuel, but I’m thinking of the upstream methane leaks associated with natgas fields.”

Trump Tantrum looms on Wall Street if healthcare effort stalls Reuters (furzy)

Class Warfare

DOL unequivocally has the authority to set an overtime threshold Economic Policy Institute

Bengaluru: India’s Silicon Valley offers the cheapest engineers, but the quality of their talent is another story Quartz (resilc)

Everyone Knows Tech Workers Are Mostly White Men—Except Tech Workers Bloomberg. Listen to the video. The way the researcher formulates the goal, that tech firms need to be more inclusive, is guaranteed to create resentment and resistance. The fact is that there is overt discrimination. I recall seeing a study of the grading of coding by women. It was uniformly scored worse by men than that of male coders, but when the women’s code was submitted gender blind, on average the women programmers got higher grades. Pounding on findings like this (and of course the famed results in Germany when orchestra selection was similarly changed to blind auditions, that women went from getting nearly no seats to roughly half) need to be pounded, hard.

Robotization Without Taxation? Robert Shiller, Project Syndicate

Antidote du jour. Steve M: “The new cat makes himself at home.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. MoiAussie

    Night parrot sighting confirmed in Western Australia for first time in 100 years
    As I haven’t figured out how to submit links or antidotes, please forgive my queue jumping with a rare piece of ecological good news – a confirmed sighting of the elusive night parrot.

    Hi-res images here, here and here. Gould lovers see here.

    Believed extinct for 75 years, it was rediscovered in outback Queensland in 2013 by naturalist John Young. The current sighting, however, is 2000km (1250mi) away in Western Australia, and suggests several viable populations may still exist.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      As I haven’t figured out how to submit links or antidotes

      email them to yves at the website you’ve come to know and love.

  2. fresno dan

    #$@&%*! Irrusianality (Chuck L). Useful if you need to debunk Russian hysteria

    The organization he heads – the FBI – is an internal policy agency. It isn’t its job to analyze Russia, Russian politics, or Russian politicians, nor does it have the expertise to do so. It doesn’t know what’s going on inside Vladimir Putin’s head; it doesn’t have an inside line to what Russians are thinking about their ‘mission’ and whether they want to undermine American democracy; it doesn’t have any particular knowledge about what Russia’s leaders think about Brexit.

    Simply put, unless he has been spending the last few years learning Russian, speaking to Russians, interrogating Putin and his ministers, reading Putin’s speeches, analyzing what well-researched publications have to say on the subject, and the like (which of course he hasn’t), Comey isn’t qualified to make judgments of these sorts. And he certainly isn’t entitled to present them as definite facts.

    Nor are his Congressional interrogators any better.

    First slowly, and now ever more rapidly, dogma shapes belief with regard to ever more thing in the US

    1. Bill Smith

      The article is silly. Comey states that is the assessment of the intelligence community – not his.
      COMEY: No, our — the assessment of the intelligence community was that early on, they thought he might have a shot. And so they wanted to mess with our election, hurt our country in general, that’s always the baseline. They hated her, Secretary Clinton, wanted to harm her and thought they might have a chance to help Mr. Trump. And then later, concluded that Mr. Trump was hopeless and they would focus then on just trying to undermine Secretary Clinton, especially with the European allies.
      The activities of the Russians to mess about with the US aren’t new. They have been doing this kind of thing for decades against the “Main Adversary’. It’s just this time it seems come together for them and to have worked much better than ever before.

      But I will say the whole ‘Red Scare’ thing is ludicrous and the questioning was weak.

      I would have wanted to know more Snowden’s charge made in the first two minutes here:

      Where he says they are lying about collection. Which I believe they are. Also how much evidence does it take them to decide someone is a ‘US person’? How often are they wrong?

      Or how many US citizens are really being swept up ‘incidentally’.

      What are the mechanics of ‘outing’ a US citizen? Are there audit logs that would tell who requested to ‘out’ someone? Are the audit logs to tell who actual responded at NSA to do the ‘outing’?

      Many other questions along those lines…

    2. Susan

      How many of my arm-waving, desperate, russophobe neighbors haven’t thought about geography and history? I can’t say. We’ve become accustomed to imagining that we are the center of the universe, and it’s a habit that’s hard to break. But break it must.

      Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate

      Don’t you think we’ve suspected this all along? Denial rules in the US. Energy and finance are inextricably bound – there are no two ways about it. Energy (oil, gas) is the master resource – nothing moves without it.

      I keep thinking – it sucks to Merkel as she’s right smack dab in the middle of all this, overrun with refugees (thanks US!), joined at the hip with the EC and that hater Schäuble, Russia/China on one side and mired as well in the panicky NATO/US. As the lyric goes, “Clowns to the left of me jokers to the right…” What a conundrum! Oy!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Merkel isn’t leader material. She’s an inoffensive placeholder to take advantage of SD implosion when more prominent members of the CDs couldn’t agree on who would be top boss. Her policies tend to be reactionary to short term events. If Merkel didn’t want refugees, she shouldn’t have joined the Friends of Syria or gone along with the Ukraine non sense. She brought problems on herself because she jumps to the dictates of Washington.

        She’s smart enough to know she lacks the character to be chancellor of Germany and de facto boss of the EU. She doesn’t warrant sympathy.

  3. allan

    “Trump Tantrum looms on Wall Street if healthcare effort massive capital gains tax cut stalls ”

    Fixed it for you, Reuters.

    The inability/unwillingness of the Dems to go after the AHCA by labeling it for what it is –
    a tax cut first and foremost, a scammy health insurance `reform’ a distant second –
    is yet another sign that they’ve learned nothing from the election. Good luck in 2018.

    1. craazyboy

      One of these days the CBO is gonna remind everyone that 2017 is Budget Cap year and that the National Debt has ballooned somehow to $20 trillion already, so it’s hard to make the case there has been no fiscal stimulus this past decade or so.

      Some may even say bad things about the efficacy and staying power of fiscal stimulus. Then maybe our Heros – the Ds – will counter that the GFC and bank bailouts, Bush Tax Cuts [and Obama permanent extension], automatic and otherwise safety nets kicking in post 2008, long and tepid recovery, globally weak economy, corporate mal-investment [stock buybacks financed by bond issues, offshoring – we used to call that de-capitalization] and perhaps less than effective policy from DeeCee may have something to do with amassing a great big pile of Treasury bonds.

      Also too, everything is awesomely Bubblicious .

      Looks to me like a blind spot in Mr. Market’s Third Eye.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      The next election cycle is the political equivalent of the religious next-life.

      “Accept your lot in life today, for there is a better tomorrow…in Heaven or paradise.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And Karma – without term limit – will get the bad guys (or gals), as one cycle proceeds along after another.

        1. RMO

          Hmmm….. since corporations have been ruled to be people in the U.S. I wonder what’s stopping them from pursuing elected office? That would get around those pesky “natural” term limits courtesy of the Grim Reaper…

          Love the antidote as my dog looked just like that when he was a pup!

    3. cybrestrike

      Those “silent” Democrats want those tax cuts, just like their Republican counterparts.

      1. RUKidding

        You beat me to it.

        It’s not that Ds “haven’t learned the lesson from the election.”

        It IS that THIS is WHO the Ds are – Republicans in drag, if you will. They are salivating after those tax cuts just as much as every R is, along with their obscenely wealthy paymasters.

        That’s also why this ginormous Tax Cut has been given such short shrift in the “nooz.” Shhhh – don’t discuss it and perhaps the rubes’ll not know.

        Well Trump’s voters may well miss this Tax Cut, but I haven’t. This horrid “Health” Insurance Tax cut legislation almost makes ACA look halfway good – but I did say “almost.”

        Feck ’em all. They’re all crooks. Every last one of ’em.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Messaging has to be loud and clear. Every time, a Democrat says, “OMG Russia,” they drown out effective messaging. Covering all your bases doesn’t motivate people to call their Congressman. A Republican Congressman who has weepy Dems bemoaning how John Podesta’s lack of cyber security and awareness is an act of war makes sane voices who might be Democrats look just like the bourgeois Dems who are having mental breakdowns over their trip to see the coronation ruined.

        One of the key messages of the election was “make America great” and “it’s already great.” Record poverty is not great, so all the efforts to paint Trump as a liar fail because on the one thing easiest to check, Trump is telling the truth and Hillary is lying. If Hillary said, here are the problems and here is how I want to deal with these problems, she would be President. If she did this in 2008, she would probably already been President.

        It’s nice Schumer puts out a proper release, but the first ten minutes of the nightly news matter most. Every hour of Rachel Maddow matters less than the news at 630.

        Look at Jon Oliver’s HBO show. He’s produced positive change by producing a few short segments on issues with explanations of how people can proceed. He doesn’t spend hours which turn into months trying to find an explanation for why Big Foot has never been captured and then blame it on Putin every show. Conversely if Maddow gets to a real issue at the end of the show, it’s not relevant.

  4. Expat

    It is appalling how the EU is prostituting itself to the CIty and the Banks. I shudder to think of the effects on smaller cities like Dublin or Barcelona. While no one gives a rat’s ass about Luxembourg except for the Luxembourgeois, it would still be a shame to let the bankers escape to there.

    Brexit is a perfect time to re-asses the role of banks in the our economy and society. Personally, I believe the best place to relocate the banks and bankers is about mid-way between Dover and Calais. Give them tax breaks and lift the bonus cap if they agree!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’d take a contrary view on that article. While I hate to see the bidding war take place, in reality, spreading the financial system around Europe weakens it. One good thing about Brexit is that the UK, which in terms of financial policy is owned in its entirely by the City of London, can no longer act to block Directives they don’t like. The financial system will always have an outsized influence, but not having a single captive member as they do now will reduce their power to influence policy at both national and EU level.

      1. vlade

        Long term not having outsized financial sector is likely to be good for the UK as well. The problem is that cutting it off overnight (well, even over 12 months which is really the timeframe we’re looking at ) is not healthy either.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        And think of the customer inconvenience, if you’re a Congolese warlord or a Chinese SOE manager it’s extremely convenient to have all of your laundering done in one place. Houses in Mayfair and nominee trusts in Jersey, all served up by a public school chap with an Oxbridge accent and a nice cup of Earl Grey. He can also tell you which polo club to join, when the best people go to Gstaad, and which school Idi Jr. should attend.

  5. fresno dan

    This is a repeat as I posted it so late yesterday (edited for brevity):
    fresno dan
    March 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    March 22, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I moved back to Fresno in October of 2016. There were a bunch of articles and things on the local newscasts about discolored water ….

    The Fresno Bee: “Many children in California, including those living in nine ZIP codes in Fresno County, tested higher in 2012 for lead exposure than children in Flint, Michigan, REUTERS is reporting.
    Reuters reported that in central Fresno’s 93701 ZIP code, nearly 14 percent of children tested had lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood or higher, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says would warrant a public health response.

    So…..I grew up in 93701. I am hereby requesting exemption and exoneration for everything and anything I post from here on out as I am obviously brain damaged and mentally deficient…..Sure, the cocaine, marijuana, gin, vodka, whiskey, wine spritzers, and soda pop, with excessive porn viewing (if it doesn’t kill you, how can it be excessive?), etcetera may have had fleeting minor inconsequential affects, but I think its the leaded water. Let this be a warning children – the safest thing to drink is booze and plenty of it….

      1. Adam Eran

        Also… Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever (daughter of the alcoholic John Cheever) documents a long history of American drinking. Those puritans had more taverns than churches, and it was a commonplace to pass the jug around the courtroom in Abe Lincoln’s trials.

      2. Lord Koos

        Most major decisions affecting the country were likely made over cocktails, and probably still are.

      3. wilroncanada

        That good old tradition was corn liquor, or so said Michael Pollan, and that corn likker is now genetically modified.

    1. craazyboy

      I’d recommend a healthier, more balanced approach. Say, 3 days heavy boozing a week alternating with 4 days of Anger Management class up in the Bay Area. It must work – they haven’t rioted that much in Oakland or burned the place down, yet. Hopefully Jerry, Nancy and Diane will continue to fund the program. Bus fare is cheap. See the Jack Nicolson movie for details. If you’re male, it involves sleeping with your male instructor, among other things.

      Then, while up in the Bay Area, why not enroll in yoga class? I’ve been watching some youtube yoga vids. One interesting maneuver is “inchworm rising to cow position” . This may resonate with you Ag people in Fresno?

    2. DJG

      Wine spritzers and soda pop? Say it ain’t so, Fresno Dan.

      Who needs lead when there’s Coca-Cola?

      Given that there are entire galleries in museums in Italy and Greece with vases (usually with the spicy seen turned to the back of the display case) and sculptures that would be deemed “pornographic,” I’m not sure how excessive pornography can be if we have museums of it.

      I note, though, that the ancient Greeks and Romans did not have wine spritzers. Something about wine spritzers is not Dionysian.

      1. Rhondda

        I have read that some of the Victorian excavators in Egypt destroyed great quantities of archeological finds because they perceived them to be pornographic.

        1. Oregoncharles

          And stored them in lead-lined casks, because it made them sweeter (not into dry wines, apparently.) This is one theory explaining the Decline and Fall.

  6. Jim A

    An note on the Vice article speculating on a Sino-US war. The US didn’t “used to recognize Taiwan as a country.” Rather the US recognized the Republic of China (located in Taiwan) as the government of ALL of China and didn’t recognize or have diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

    1. Ranger Rick

      This was used to great effect to authorize the Korean War (er, police action) by using Taiwan (nee China)’s seat on the UN Security Council.

      1. fosforos

        That was a clever play by Stalin to keep Mao under control. It worked, at least until after Beria had taken him down.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Taiwan was briefly an independent nation, in 1895, after the Qing dynasty ceded the island to the Empire of Japan.

      Not sure if any nation at all recognized it. The president was Tang Jingsong, the Qing governor then.

  7. UserFriendly

    The Meaning of Life (Part I)

    Much better than the headline would lead you to believe. It is a very interesting, yet somewhat overreaching, tale of how the Rockefellers and big tobacco funded a DNA centric approach to science to bolster eugenic arguments. Some very interesting themes but I see a few huge leaps too.

    1. diptherio

      I was disappointed, though, that they credit Watson and Crick for “discovering the structure of DNA,” when that honor rightfully belongs to Rosalind Franklin. Without her, W&C would have had nothing but some educated guesses.

      1. Portia

        yes, thank you. written by a dude. even Wikipedia gives her a meh role:

        who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite.[2]
        …Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA, particularly Photo 51, while at King’s College, London, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Watson suggested that Franklin would have ideally been awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Wilkins, but the Nobel Committee does not make posthumous nominations.[5][6]

        After finishing her work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work at Birkbeck on the molecular structures of viruses.[7] Her team member Aaron Klug continued her research, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.


      2. ewmayer

        Lise Meitner – who should have shared the prize awarded to Hahn and Strassman for the discovery of nuclear fission – is another example of a woman snubbed by the Nobel prize commission, which I’m going to surmise was all male back in those days, and is surely male-dominated to this day.

        Another inane aspect of the Nobel prizes – no posthumous awards. How many deserving scientists have died before the true importance of their work was finally recognized?

    2. HopeLB

      Are you referring to the leap from searching for a biological driver molecule to wanting to use that molecule to either separate the superior from the eugenic candidates or to manipulate the molecule to control behavior/outlook? Or the bigger leap to the Rockefellers controlling the scientific quest?
      The article certainly made this particular “conspiracy” theory about David son of John D

      look more probable. (But I liked Trading Spaces so I might just be biased in regards to Aaron Russo.) (And I am sticking with my alien takeover theory in which the aliens are guiding us, through, yes (!) manipulation of our greed and avarice genes, to geoengineer the planet for their comfortable, impending colonization. They want a methanated atmosphere clearly. The Rockefellers might simply be aliens, alien hybrids or alien allies. Standard Oil(Esso/Exxon) certainly helped to put things into high gear and they even studied the pace of their effect on the climate as recently has been unearthed. It is the only rationale explaination for our obvious self destruction.Maybe the Rockefeller’s got hold of some suicide gene and put it into all of the vaccines and GMO food in order to vanquish any real sustained fight for life in us and had neoliberalism/endless war do the rest (keep us scrambling,anxious and addled.))

      Can’t wait to see what leaps he has in Part 11.

  8. visitor

    When CVS stopped selling cigarettes, some customers quit smoking

    What kind of insanity leads pharmacies to sell cigarettes in the USA? We are in 2017, not in 1817.

    Profits above everything?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The same “insanity” that leads them to sell barrels of opioids or vioxx to anyone who can score a little piece of paper ostensibly signed by a “doctor” so they can get “healthy.”

      Where’ve you been?

    2. cnchal

      >Profits above everything?

      Yes. Where have you been?

      Even Robert Schiller with his ‘tax robots’ meme is into it.

      When taxes on high incomes are raised, usually in wartime, it turns out to be only temporary. Ultimately, it seems natural to most people that taxing successful people to benefit unsuccessful people is demeaning to the latter, and even the recipients of the handout often do not really want it. Politicians know that: they usually do not campaign on proposals to confiscate high incomes and pad low incomes.

      Bernie Sanders: The business of Wall Street is fraud and greed.
      Yes, those successful people stole their billions fair and square. Now hands off and tax the robots!

      Ever seen a robot with walking around money? Me neither.

      1. craazyboy

        Robots have NOT been getting their fair share of productivity increases. They need to unionize. Uber self driving cars too.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unionization and their congressional representation.

          “No taxation (of robots) without representation (of robots)!!!”

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I quit smoking at about the same time CVS stopped selling cigarettes. I never bought smokes from them but I did start buying lots of Altoids and jelly beans there while I was quitting. I think I may have traded lung cancer for diabetes.

      And now after reading and commenting about it, I really want a smoke….

    4. John Wright

      Pharmacies also sell the nicotine patch to help people quit smoking.

      CVS is to be applauded for their actions.

      The desire to preserve an income stream (arising from profits or a job) motivates a lot of behavior.

      Here is an old New York Times article about some public servants who attempted to directly increase demand for their services.

      ” Federal officials charged today that a group mostly made up of police officers, firefighters and private security guards set the string of fires three years ago that brought Boston the nationally reported title of ”arson capital of the world.””

      “The fires were set, according to United States Attorney William Weld, to scare the public into supporting more positions for the Police and Fire Departments after property tax reductions had reduced their ranks.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        And let us not forget how things have been ,and are being, done in another Windy City:

        The scandal known as “Summerdale” was of unprecedented magnitude, even for wicked old Cook County. Summerdale was not your ordinary police scandal. For the first time uniformed police officers plotted and carried out burglaries while patrolling the streets of the “City of Big Shoulders.”

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, John.

        That is not unknown in Europe. There are two meanings attached to “pompier pyromane” in French, one for the above reason.

    5. Octopii

      As a customer of the neighborhood CVS for things like deo and shampoo, it was truly shocking to find myself in a Rite-Aid the other day viewing the large tobacco display behind the counter. It is obviously out of place. I imagine that people got so used to it that nobody had a second thought until CVS made their move. Weird.

      1. fosforos

        If they were interested in profits, consumer choice, and public health (in any order) they would be selling joints and vaporizers instead of cigarettes.

  9. oho

    cradle to grave debtocracy.

    Americans Are Dying With an Average of $62K of Debt.

    Among the 73% of consumers who had debt when they died, about 68% had credit card balances. The next most common kind of debt was mortgage debt (37%), followed by auto loans (25%), personal loans (12%) and student loans (6%).

    These were the average unpaid balances: credit cards, $4,531; auto loans, $17,111; personal loans, $14,793; and student loans, $25,391.

    1. inhibi

      Disgusting. The new normal where you own nothing, and when you die it all goes to the bank. This will turn into a revolution one day…

      1. PhilM

        That’s not debt as in balance-sheet bottom line “died without a penny to his name” debt. It’s just accounts payable. Verizon has debt, too. That’s a fact of doing business, not a manifestation of “debtocracy.”

        People who their credit cards off every month, if they were to die today, would still die with balances on their cards, which would be considered “debt.” The only way to avoid it is to pay the card companies in advance. Seriously, you don’t want the free float?

        So the numbers quoted are really just another index of the penetration of financialization. As if we needed another one.

        1. Portia

          yeah, that’s dying with negative pennies to your name. that’s much better. if you don’t have assets that debtors will suck up after you die, leaving less for anyone you want to leave them to. if you’ve ever done probate practice, it’s pretty astonishing to see what comes out of the woodwork

          Verizon? oh yeah, I forgot, it’s a person

    2. gsinbe

      Does anyone else think the $25K in student loan debt (by far the biggest load) is kind of shocking, considering most of these people dying are probably pretty old?

      1. allan

        Parents and grandparents signing student loans for their children and grandchildren.

        This is definitely a sustainable business model.

        1. craazyboy

          I guess it comes out of the inheritance, then? One more reason we need to eliminate the estate tax. Banks and investors!

      1. Aumua

        I don’t really see why that’s more depressing than any other debt. Granted, I’m sitting on a pile of student loans, but I figure if for whatever reason I can’t pay it off and I leave this Earth with that debt.. meh. So what? I don’t believe it’s going to follow me, karmically or whatever, into the next life, if such a thing even exists.

        The fact that so much real wealth seems to get funneled to the banks one way or another, now that is depressing.

    3. Eureka Springs

      No mention of medical debts… I would be surprised if med. debts/loans aren’t the majority of that 62k.

      1. craazyboy

        Call me selfish, but I’m not buying the securitized hospice care investment product. Even if my broker does recommend it.

      2. Carla

        Maybe med. debts are on the credit card or the 2nd mortgage? But yeah, as the top cause of personal bankruptcies, they should definitely be broken out.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      You’ll know it’s really getting serious when debt collectors become single-payer “healthcare” advocates in an attempt to increase the average american lifespan.

      Maybe smilin’ joe biden can think up another law before such drastic measures become necessary.

        1. Massinissa

          Indeed. I dearly wish for Biden, Obama, and the rest of the last administration to have a wonderful retirement where they play golf eight hours a day, seven days a week, and have no time or necessity to do anything else. They deserve nothing less.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Two Ohio coal-fired plants to close, deepening industry decline Reuters. EM: “I am skeptical of the ‘a victory for environmental activists’ claim, since swapping coal for natgas may prove a dubious proposition, global-warming wise, methane being a far more potent – albeit shorter-lived – greenhouse gas than CO2. Sure, natgas-fired plants burn nearly 100% of the fuel, but I’m thinking of the upstream methane leaks associated with natgas fields.”

    What we are increasingly seeing is the energy industry cannibalising itself. There is simply too much investment going into too much capacity. Coal is one big loser, but I suspect thats only because coal investors don’t have the deep pockets (or are as big mugs) as gas/petroleum investors. The long term decline in coal seems inevitable.

    What I never understand about those industries is that they work so hard to weaken regulations, apparently oblivious to the reality that tight regulations actually benefit large incumbent industries – they protect them from upstart or less ethical competition. The Trump agenda of drilling everywhere and reducing emission regulations won’t just destroy the environment – it will result in a huge surplus of supply which will lead to many of those free market cheerleaders losing their shirts.

    1. Olga

      It is basic economics – nat gas is cheap – it has been very cheap for several years now – which has made coal plants uneconomic. Plus gas plants are much more efficient than coal plants. Add to it the growth of renewables – and something has to give. There are days now in the Southwest Power Pool, during which almost half of the load is served by wind power. Xcel has just announced close to 4GW in new wind-powered capacity. Even nuclear plants are closing. Calling it cannibalising misses the point entirely – it’s more like a normal progression of technological development. Long time ago, coal replaced wood – it was then the new technology. Eventually, even nat gas will be replaced by renewables and energy storage. There are already entire towns running only on renewable power (while conventional generation provides the needed back-up) – and in a few year, energy storage will provide that back-up. When we can now get solar power at 4cents/kWh – coal’s game is up.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I use the term ‘cannabilising’ as its a term frequently applied to the renewable energy industry. The theory is that once supply of renewables reaches a particular level of supply, it starts to reduce its own profitability as it can no longer get the bonus from providing supply at peak times, and that excess production will in effect be waste (for example, on a windy mild night with low demand). But this process is exactly what we are now seeing in the fossil fuel industry.

        Its not just a case that gas is cheaper, it is now cheap enough to compete at baseline loads, which is a disaster for coal powered thermal plants (nuclear too), because its not easy to turn these plants output down – hence they end up producing electricity wth little or no value. This completely undermines the economics of baseload thermal plants. Gas powered plants were intended only to provide peaking power. In other words, plants which were supposed to be complementary, have become competition for each other. Gas is winning at the moment, but only by providing very cheap gas – its questionable as to whether they are making any money doing this, everyone is just trying to survive by generating turnover.

  11. toshiro_mifune

    Children understand far more about other minds than long believed

    I see articles like this with fair regularity and I have come to one of two conclusions;

    1) The article writers are greatly oversimplifying previous scientific consensus

    2) Most early childhood researchers have never spent any time around actual children

    1. katiebird

      Like when they suddenly discovered (in the 80’s, I think) that infants felt pain. OMG. Anyone who ever accidentally poked a baby with a diaper pin knew that!!

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I remember a meme that was going around in the 70’s parenting classes – that “You must always believe your children, because children are incapable of lying”. I guess they never met my children…..

        1. toshiro_mifune

          Oh, I remember that. That same line was trotted out to support some of the absolutely crazy allegations made during the 80’s Satanic Panic.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      2B) Most childhood researchers never experienced actual early childhood (to at least get some help when lost). Probably so smart they skipped early childhood and 1st grade all together.

      3) I have probably understood some things before learning any words. I think, once I started knowing and using words to understand the world, those understandings became repressed.

      “Literacy is not all good.”

      1. Portia

        they are probably Early Childhood researchers in some attempt to find out what they missed and are smart enough to want to be paid well for it and get famous….

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      They [children] also fall prey to magical and mythical thinking: A child might believe that the sun was once a ball that someone tossed up into the sky, where it grew bigger and bigger.

      “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

          1. optimader

            Yes.. Ah yes.. those patient the turtles..

            I usually have to revert to D Adams on these Epistemological matters

            There is a theory which states that if anybody ever discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
            — Douglas Adams

      1. Pat

        My version. As a child back when television was black and white and color was only slowly coming, I believed that when my grandparents’ television set was turned off, the there was no television anywhere. Their set created and controlled it all. Ahhhhh, their godlike powers….

  12. Andrew Foland

    On the Heisenberg article, the Uncertainty Principle was not violated. Not! It had been misunderstood, and this article explains how, once correctly understood, it no longer stood in the way. A better title would have been, “Scientists realize they were doing it wrong, find Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle doesn’t limit them the way they thought.” What they evaded was an incorrect belief about what the HUP limited. (The issue in the incorrectness is subtle, it’s not that they or the MRI community had been complete idiots about it.)

    Critical quote from the article: “In this way they still obeyed Heisenberg’s requirement for uncertainty, but hid the uncertainty where it can do no harm.” This is a form of quantum “squeezing”, and the general idea of squeezing the quantum state like this is long- and well-known.

    I’ve found that articles on ScienceDaily generally come from university PR departments, so while the underlying science is nearly always good and correct, the ScienceDaily treatment nearly always spins them a little harder than they probably deserve.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is probably another principal at work here – Anthropo-uncertainty.

      We humans, including credentialed-to-practice/to experiement science humans (actually credentialed, paid and funded), are never certain we are infallible.

      And that’s the meaning of life – there is no one final answer. Beyond one question lies another.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      I for one, am glad that NC does cover science articles. It’s kind of like eye candy for people like me. I think you need to remember that most science writers who write for the general public, are told as I was in one of my science writing courses, that if you want your article read, you have to gear it to the level of an 8th grader. It would take an extremely smart 8th grader to understand the ramifications of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle!
      But where this article fails as do other popular articles on science, is that they equate advances in technology with new scientific thought, and they lead people to think that advances in technology is “new science”. If you are going to say that the Uncertainty Principle has been challenged, you’d better have some really good science to back that up – and this article doesn’t – what it describes is a technological advance that allows better quantification of the Uncertainty Principle.
      The article on the whole world interferometry project suffers from the same fault. It isn’t new science, but it is a technological advance….
      That being said, technological advance DOES sometimes lead to new science, so I await results…..
      But then we come to articles on human health and psychology like the one on the Tsimane or the one on what children know….yea…..(no science and no technology, just a severe dependence on societal prejudices). I’ll wait for the genomic studies, thank you…..

      1. Andrew Foland

        I quite agree, I love NC’s science articles and I think the underlying research of this one is perfectly good. I just wanted to prevent, as much as possible, a headline-based misunderstanding along the lines of “those wishy-washy scientists, first they tell me the HUP is inviolable, and now they tell me it isn’t”.

        It is!

        1. craazyboy

          The bit of new news is reported here:

          “The trick is to realize that the spin has not one but two pointing angles, one for the north-east-south-west direction, and the other for the elevation above the horizon. The ICFO team showed how to put nearly all of the uncertainty into the angle that is not measured by the instrument. ”

          So we are supposed to believe they can measure angle, perhaps indirectly, without having the act of measuring impact the magnitude of angular momentum.

          That still takes a leap of faith in my mind, but I’m generally agreeable when scientists tell me real quantum stuff. Then I forget it and go back to reading sci-fi novels where cool things happen like interstellar private detectives talk to each other over quantum coupling walkie talkies.

        2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          A relative sent me this link today for a four part documentary called ” Why are we here “. The clips on the website appear interesting, although so far I have only watched this thirty minute one with paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris on convergence……it might be of interest to someone.

    3. makedoanmend

      I’ll add a secondment to justanotherprogressive’s view on NC’s highlighting of science articles. The insights I’ve gotten from the commentariat have been most enlightening.

      Thanks NC and to its knowledgeable commentators (of course, Andrew in this case).

      Gin and lemon lollis all around.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This was from before I learned to read or write, when both my parents asked me which one of them I liked better.

        Not knowing much (at the tender age), I said, why both, of course.

        Needless to say, it set me on a favorable course for many years.

        What is the point of this babbling? Well, it’s this – I enjoy many, if not all, articles here.

        “Here is an apple for you, Ms. teacher.”

    4. Jake Mudrosti

      The NC responses to the poorly-written article once again make it clear why I’ve always advocated that quantum mechanics be deemphasized in NC links. If someone can honestly state with a straight face that the uncertainty principle had “been misunderstood”, then we are truly living in DeVos’s world now. Why encourage a slide in that direction?

      Specific pockets of scientists & science writers will always insist on remaining outside of the main conversation, and will always announce that they are a Columbus discovering America.

      Conceptual knowledge requires an investment of time and good pedagogy. There’s just no substitute. To give this fact its proper consideration, here’s Harvard’s Eric Mazur discussing the overwhelming difficulty of teaching any conceptual knowledge of Newtonian mechanics to Harvard premed students who’ve already aced their high school AP calculus & physics tests (I mean, forget about quantum mechanics — just consider the absolute basics in the field as taught to highly prepared and motivated Harvard students):
      Mustn’t miss the key takeaway message, at the 29:40 mark: “have not understood the material that’s taught in week two, on which everything else hinges.”

      As I mentioned in previous NC comments, Art Hobson recently published some totally botched articles and a book on quantum mechanics geared toward a lay audience. When it was pointed out to him that his recent article’s botched descriptions and definitions weren’t even internally consistent, he very very very very brilliantly responded by getting testy and abruptly clamping shut a AAPT discussion about his book — a discussion that he himself had started. But he still tries to advertise his book every chance he gets.

      As mentioned in other previous NC comments, the German Physical Society straight-up lied about the Karlsruhe Physics Course, and then reaffirmed their demonstrable lies after they were called out. As the expression goes, “They ain’t sendin’ their best.” Yet these are the loud voices and careerists that increasingly dominate today. Everyone else just waits for the current sick era to run its full course and extinguish itself, in the same way that the Soviet Lysenko era extinguished itself.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Like other commenters on this thread I value NC’s links to science articles and including articles on quantum mechanics.

        I followed your link to Dr. Mazur’s youtube presentation and watched and listened to enough of it to wonder what is the point of your comment. Are you suggesting NC links should avoid links to quantum mechanics because quantum mechanics is a difficult subject to understand? I can’t understand how the last two paragraphs in your comment relate to this thread or to the rest of your comment.

        1. Jake Mudrosti

          I linked to a video about Newtonian mechanics, to make a key point about conceptual knowledge in general. Even under ideal conditions, it’s hard to teach conceptual knowledge of any sort. The “Force Concept Inventory” that features in Mazur’s video is the key to this. It reveals very starkly the state of a test-takers actual conceptual knowledge, as opposed to their blind memorization.

          With regard to quantum mechanics, I tried to give enough quick examples of the minefield of utterly demonstrably bad content bubbling up in front of everyone in the current culture. It’s just propagating a lot of misleading stuff. Anyone who nods along while reading the NC linked article, for example, would fail a basic conceptual test on the subject.

          Mazur’s talk explains how this minefield of bad information can persist (and in fact come to dominate, when loud voices and careerism are rewarded). In summary, good articles on quantum mechanics are astoundingly rare, just as solid articles about, say, Iraq, are astoundingly rare. What a waste, and what a net harm, to spend time on counterproductive ones.

        2. B1whois

          Jeremy grimm, I have to laugh when you wrote this,

          Are you suggesting NC links should avoid links to quantum mechanics because quantum mechanics is a difficult subject to understand?

          because I still don’t understand economics, or politics for that matter…

  13. Carolinian

    The Taibbi piece, which goes on forever, is kind of awful. He starts out with some funny observations about Trump at CPAC and then launches into a gonzo overdrive that seems devoid of all memory that there were once presidents named Reagan, George W. Bush or, yes, Barack Obama. Whether or not Trump really is just goofing around the country will survive. Our overheated pundits and their reputations, on the other hand, could be another matter. They are people who take themselves way too seriously while showing glib contempt for everything outside the elite bubble. Taibbi is right that Trump has produced a kind of derangement among the Democrats but he seems all to happy to jump on the bandwagon himself with hopes that Russia may bring down the source of this idee fixe.

    Perhaps the people who voted for Trump were foolish to put any faith in a TV host and perhaps many of them simply didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be president. But here’s suggesting they were instinctively right about one thing–a ruling class that gave us the Iraq war and trillion dollar bailouts of crooked Wall Street banks is the real clown show. The Trump presidency is merely pulling back the curtain.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Accurate and, thankfully, concise critique. Damn, Taibbi did go on.

      And I can’t remember ever being so annoyed at Matt’s relentless analogies:

      For Trump and his inner circle to name Perry to any Cabinet post at all felt like trolling, like a football team wrapping the mascot in packing tape and mailing him to Canada. (What does that even mean?)
      DeVos stammers a brief response, then freezes. She looks like a duck trying to read a parking meter.

      Has he always done that? I’m thinking he’s spending too much time reading thomas friedman.

        1. witters

          & if he doesn’t get better fast or quit it, then Hunter will be forced to come back and drive in the wooden stake.

    2. Carla

      “The Trump presidency is merely pulling back the curtain.”

      I keep re-iterating this to all the Democrats I know (which is just about everyone I know, with maybe two or three exceptions I can think of) to no lasting effect whatsoever.

      After my explaining it with as much patience as I can muster, they nod in agreement, and then literally two minutes later are wailing “But ain’t Trump a travesty!” yet again. It’s like a brick wall.

      1. polecat

        “It’s like a brick wall.”

        I see their reactions/replies more like a political Mobius loop ….. one can never got off track, as their whole identity is tied to that little strip of dogma !

        The far-right folks have their own loop ….. it’s just the inverse of the above.

        HeyZeus help us should those two strips collide !

      2. RUKidding

        I have the same experience with my D voter friends, which is most of them. They are no different from my Tea Bagger relatives. None of them want to hear that their HEROS have giant sucking blemishes and are simply Not. Your. Friends.

        Very frustrating. Most of my friends worship at the shrines of Clinton and Obama. UGH!! No getting through to them.

      3. flora

        I’ve run into the same thing with friends who are highly educated, competent, and successful. It’s been a shock to me to discover they cannot think for themselves but only parrot what they’ve been told is the ‘correct’ thing to think in both academia and, apparently, in politics and civic life. ( In academia parroting the correct thinking gets you tenure. In politics and civic life it sets you up to be taken for a ride by the politicians.) These friends are narrow minded in this sense: they repeat without question received wisdom, in part because it confirms their group status. This leaves me shaking my head.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s bizarre how closely attached people get to people they have never even met, passed by on a handshake line, or saw in a crowd.

          Then of course, civics classes, books, cinema, and TV always provide warnings of the mob blindly following “dear leader” in fairly direct ways. The idea that a brilliant liberal could be the conned idiot is an attack on their identity or have been complicit. How hard would it have been to call the White House switch board, congressman, or senator in 2009 and demand better behavior from Obama? It might have taken a minute or two. They might not have been able to enjoy Michelle dancing on the Fallon show if they made that call.

          Ask an Obot to describe an Obama speech, any Obama speech, their eyes glaze over as their mind reels trying to explain away why they can’t recite Obama’s brilliance. The JFK crowd goes nuts when the “missile gap,” “agent orange,” or a host of other problems are mentioned.

          The Catholic Church, Reagan, Penn State, the NFL, and so forth. It’s all the same.

          Scott Adams had an old Dilbert strip where I think Dogbert, possibly Catbert, where he points out 5% of people are good, 5% of people are evil, and 90% of people are weasels. The inference is the most 5% who are good have to stop expecting the weasels to not act like weasels but figure out how to get the weasels to play, as the game in the weasels interests, the good care about the weasels after all.

          1. roadrider

            You’re really off base about JFK and the missile gap and agent orange.

            Agent Orange:

            However, by November 1961 President Kennedy agreed with his advisors that the US should ‘participate in a selective and carefully controlled joint program of defoliant operations in Vietnam starting with the clearance of key routes and proceed thereafter to food denial only if the most careful basis of resettlement and alternative food supply has been created.” The first official Operation Ranch Hand mission took place on January 13, 1962 along highway 15 using C-123 aircraft

            As the American involvement in Vietnam escalated so did the use of herbicides, Operation Ranch Hand was expanded to include parts of southern and eastern Laos in December 1965. The herbicide program reached its peak in 1967 when over a million and a half acres were sprayed.

            So both the escalation of the war, which Kennedy had already decided to wind down and disengage from by end of 1965 (don’t bother arguing, this is beyond dispute), AND the escalation of the use of Agent Orange began under LBJ. I’m pretty tired of hearing Kennedy bashers blame him for stuff that LBJ did and that would not have been consistent with Kennedy’s plans.

            Furthermore, it was not until 1969 that the human toxicity of Agent Orange was known:

            In 1969, it became widely known that the 2,4,5-T component of Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical (chemical structure illustrated above) found to cause adverse health effects and birth outcomes in laboratory studies.

            I’m not endorsing Kennedy’s introduction of Agent Orange into Vietnam but lets have a little perspective please.

            Missile Gap: standard Democratic Party refrain in the late fifties. Kennedy neither invented it nor was the first one to use it (Stuart Symington IIRC). At that time everyone outside of the inner councils of the government and the military, not just Kennedy, believed it was true. This was because 1) Khrushchev’s boasts (which were pure BS) and 2) Eisenhower and Allen Dulles ran a con on the the public to in support for a massive expansion of US ICBM research and production by echoing the Soviet boasts even when they found out it wasn’t true. Eisenhower saw nuclear weapons as a cheaper way to ensure security than a large standing army.

        2. Lord Koos

          With Democrats, I think many people who are well-educated are also well-indoctrinated, with an entire world view that keeps them from seeing what is really happening.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            And often their jobs help keep them well-insulated from the impacts of what is really happening — further maintaining their indoctrination.

      4. jrs

        A theory: they might be somewhat authoritarian. And some lefties are extremely anti-authoritarian, so of course never the twain shall meet.

        If you respect existing institutions (or even institutions as such) to some degree (more authoritarian) then yes you may think Trump is a travesty to those very institutions really independent of policy.

        (Oh I think it’s perfectly reasonable to hold a position that Trumps policies are even worse than the usual but that’s separate than the authoritarianism continuum.)

    3. fresno dan

      March 23, 2017 at 9:50 am

      I just finished a long comment about the Guardian article about how Trump is causing a climate “of fear” among Muslim agents at the FBI, even though EVERY example given occurred in 2016…when…oh, who was the president back than???? Bush? Nah….Romney??? Oh yeah, Romney lost…. well, whoever it was, it wasn’t Trump…unless of course he took over the policy apparatus of the Federal government a year before he was elected….damn, that Trump is ALMOST as omnipotent as Putin…..

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      I credit President Obama with establishing a new standard for elegant rhetoric expressing one message coupled with contrary action. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton set a new standard for unabashed greed and duplicity both exposed to the public as leaks pulled the curtain away. I believe President Trump is well on his way to setting a new standard for political uncertainty. The Talbi link is working toward a new standard of its own — perhaps a standard for the most aspiring Hunter Thompson wannabe — a likeness Lord Koos suggests in a comment above. The people around Trump — his advisors and his appointments and also the advisors and appointments around our last too many Presidents and the advisors around Clinton all seem to working toward a new standard for madness. The honorable opposition seems intent on a new standard of their own.

      I want to believe the “Trump presidency is merely pulling back the curtain” as you state in your closing. I really do. I hoped that would be the case when Trump won — and no I did not and do not support Trump — or Hillary. I expect Trump will greatly expand the transfer of wealth from poor and what middle remains to the point zero zero one percent. But I hoped he might also pull back from the many wars bleeding our polity and avoid a new, potentially fatal conflict with Russia or China or some other substantial power — a category in which I include Iran. Trump’s Mercurial shifts in direction combined with the “quality” of his appointments give shifting ground to even these limited hopes.

      Like Eclair — in a comment below starting a separate thread — I avoided maintaining awareness of the details of Trump’s succession to power — the cabinet hearings and questionable appointments — the tweets — and all the bizarre aura around Trump and his government as it shifts into shapes. Like Eclair I was upset reading Talbi’s diatribe. I seldom bother reading Talbi but was drawn to read today’s link by Eclair’s upset. I have regard for Chris Hedges. I’ve read his essays, watched several of his videos and read a couple of his books. Talbi was upsetting but I’m not sure what to make of one of Hedges recent videos: “After Trump and Pussy Hats” []. After this video — I sincerely hope he or at least his views in this video represent just one more among your “overheated pundits” — and there are plenty of those.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Purchasing US real estate is a favorite way for Russians, Chinese and other newly rich to move money of dubious origin or just beat the capital controls in their own countries. Being at the receiving end of money whose movement at least violated capital controls in its country of origin isn’t money laundering. Under the statute, the launderer is the financial intermediary that enabled the transfers. Actual knowledge of concealment or unlawful activity is required (18 USC section 1956).

    The 34th favorite way to move money – the purchasing of used cars.

    The next time a foreigner wants to buy your used car, will you risk him/her with money laundering?

    This is just more foreigner suspicion-mongering. And not likely to get Trump impeached.

    “Why do you want to buy my used clothes? Is this your 99th favorite way?”

    1. Sandler

      Who decides what “dubious origin” means? To me, private equity guys’ money is of “dubious origin.” It’s funny when westerners decry the “corrupt Chinese/Russian money” buying assets here, as if wealthy westerners all earned their keep through good old, pure, honest hard work.

      1. skippy

        Silly me…. I thought it was just the post mid 70s [neoliberalism] productivity that went walkabout and now is returning home….

        disheveled…. tactical baths on the way are just geographical realities…..

  15. jfleni

    RE: The Meaning of Life (in a nutshell);
    Plutocrats like the Rockefellers and their fellow travelling bordello keepers in the tobacco trade will NEVER stop trying to bu**bang the peasants while blaming them for their problems. Try believing that wolves really lie down with lambs instead!

  16. Eclair

    I read the Taibbi piece in the dead hours of early morning, and it hit me hard. He summarizes the freak show of the cabinet hearings, which, since I had avoided reading/listening about them in real time, mainly to preserve my sanity and keep my blood pressure down, provided relevant details. But they were way worse than I had imagined.

    Taibbi-like, the mental images he conjures up of the cast of characters, is superb. His final three paragraphs hollowed me out, laying forth some truths that had been gnawing at the edges of my consciousness but which I had been studiously avoiding letting into my mind and verbalizing.

    His take: Trump is ‘crazy or stupid or cunning (or perhaps all three at once)’ and is leading his enemies on a futile chase, keeping us occupied trying to guess what he will do next. Our responses have become increasingly frenzied and idiotic as he capers always one step ahead of us: a ‘monkey clutching history’s biggest hand grenade.’ He brings out the worst in us, ‘making us dumber just by watching.’ Which, I guess, is why I have been fleeing from the nattering TV, rending my garments and screaming, ‘they’ve all gone crazy!’

    His prognostication: ‘ … after four years of this we will forget what civilization ever looked like – and it will be programming, not policy, that will have changed the world.’

    We have staying with us for a week, a young friend, a millennial who just completed his final applications to be accepted into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Is that what it will take to preserve the world?

    1. polecat

      Perhaps he should begin by perusing the used bookstores and yard sale in earnest ! Either that, or start collecting scraped pig skins and ink for future manuscripts ……

    2. Carla

      “His prognostication: ‘ … after four years of this we will forget what civilization ever looked like – and it will be programming, not policy, that will have changed the world.’”

      Nothing new there. It was always programming.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Agree…but then what matters is what show is playing to the masses on Panopticon TV. I’ve always felt the “crisis” is one of character, whether it is Wall St regulators and credit agencies thinking it’s perfectly OK to be bribed by banks, or a feckless melanoderm president thinking it’s perfectly OK to appoint a Monsanto predator to head the EPA, or a Congressman nuzzling the corporate tit with policies that hurt his constituents, or just every billionaire, telling themselves their pile is really not quite big enough. Somewhere post-WWII the people who manufacture and distribute power decided it was all about “Me”, not “We”. And so of course they manufacture TV Reality to reflect the same, and we all lap it up. We no longer have great men and women of character, so we’re left with TV hucksters, Silicon Valley monopolist rent-seekers, robber baron banking types, and sports and music Neanderthals to adulate.

    3. DJG


      As a bad Catholic and a bad Buddhist, I often contemplate whether Saint Francis of Assisi and the men and women of the Franciscan Movement may be part of the best that Western Civilization has to offer. Even for me, a visit (pilgrimage?) to Assisi was deeply moving. And holy poverty is still a pointed critique of our acquisitive, greedy, wretched excess. So now your young friend will venture into trying to make those Flowers of Saint Francis into actions…

  17. cybrestrike

    Regarding the DRM article, a friend of mine just claimed that it was complete nonsense due to lack of legal power. Not really sure what he’s talking about, but I’ll have to ask for clarification from him.

  18. Jim Haygood

    David Stockman wants to see Speaker Ryan’s “Obamacare Lite” crash ‘n burn:

    [America’s] bloated and unsustainable health care system consumes 18% of GDP compared to 10-12% in most of the world’s social welfare democracies. Unlike state-controlled single payer systems elsewhere, the US system is a mutant hybrid of socialism for the recipients and crony capitalism for the providers.

    Consequently, there is no brake on the volume and price of services. Health care demand is only limited by what the crony capitalist lobbies for every medical specialty and delivery system can extract from payers — mainly the state.

    Ryan’s small-ball beltway wonkdom truly amounts to Obamacare Lite. Ryan’s plan must be stopped dead in its tracks and Obamacare allowed to continue its built-in death spiral until the GOP can come back with an altogether different Plan B. Fortunately, the two dozen or so members of the House Freedom Caucus seem to grasp the enormity [sic] of the historic inflection point at hand.

    Stockman goes on to describe a “super block grant” approach which would turn health care policy over to the states. He also proposes a critical change in tax law:

    Give every employee the option to elect to receive the actuarial cash equivalent [of their group health care premium] and make it tax-free as long as it’s put in an HSA. Turn them loose to shop with their own HSA dollars, and the health care delivery system will be Walmartized in no time.

    “Walmartized” — YEE HAW! Missing here is the essential step of abolishing the health cartel’s de facto antitrust exemption, and forcing them to actually, you know, post prices:

    Three-stent special, only $4,995 if you act now. Book your op today and enjoy a queen-size hospital bed with 1,200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and a Wolfgang Puck three-course dinner when you wake from anaesthesia.

  19. JTMcPhee

    Re latest “terrorist event:” Anthropologists, some or many of them, like neat categories. I think “we” are going to experience a lot more of what people in Malaysia and Puerto Rico and the Philippines have lived with, in the “culture-bound syndrome” laid out in the following article: “Running Amok In Malaysia,”

    Running Amok is a rare culture bound syndrome most prevalent in Malaysia, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines although there are traces of it in modernized cultures. Running Amok refers to a condition in which an individual becomes erratic and irrational and causes havoc along with the homicidal and subsequent suicidal actions of such individuals, which often result in the fatalities and injuries of other individuals. An individual on an Amok spree is usually killed by bystanders during an attack if they do not commit suicide first. Running Amok is considered to be a psychiatric condition. This CBS was discovered about two centuries ago among primitive island populations and interestingly, culture was considered a predominant factor in the development of the condition. This was thought to be a result of the geographic isolation of the tribes and their spiritual practices. The characterization of Amok does not recognize that some of the behaviors of the CBS have been observed in western cultures with no geographic isolation and although it is considered a rare disease, displays of Amok’s characteristic violent behavior have become common not in the indigenous societies they are thought to have originated, but among modernized cultures. Mythology considered Running Amok to be an involuntary ailment caused by an evil spirit entering the body, resulting in violent behavior the afflicted individual was unaware of.

    Maybe Taibbi will go beyond rending garments and screaming… or the guy in the next open office position… or your Uber driver…

    1. Jim Haygood

      “An individual on an Amok spree is usually killed by bystanders during an attack if they do not commit suicide first.”

      This sentence illustrates how the gender-free pronoun “they” doesn’t work after “bystanders,” when it’s meant to refer to “an individual.” That is, the bystanders are not going to commit suicide first.

      The urgent search for a gender-free singular pronoun continues. Linguistic scientists are working 24/7 to find an answer, before more innocent bystanders get harmed.

    2. Eclair

      Is not ‘going postal’ our culture’s version of ‘running amok?’ Or, one of them. A ‘CBS’ prevalent in the USA, which does suffer from ‘geographic isolation.’ Our ‘spiritual practices’ might be suspect, also. Anthropologists can be so blind to their culture’s idosycracies.

      Nice piece, BTW. I had not heard that phrase for decades.

    3. freedeomny

      Spotted in my quiet, residential neighborhood yesterday afternoon…a longtime local business owner, walking down the street with Trader Joes bags, screaming/rambling at the top of his lungs. I could only make out certain words “Trump, “Fascism”, “Who Voted”…..

      He was shaking his head from side to side. It was really unnerving. I’m wondering if he has an underlying psychiatric issue and the Trump election has put him over the edge….

      This is probably the extreme, but I’ve also noticed with friends and acquaintances that many people seem very “tense”. I can’t imagine watching this “show” for the next four years.

  20. Katniss Everdeen

    19-year-old, dual israeli-american citizen arrested in israel Thursday for making the bomb threats against jewish community centers and schools. No motive specified, mental deficiency speculated.

    “He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

    Shoulda called crowdstrike. Even the sophisticated geeks in Russia couldn’t fool them.

  21. fresno dan

    Muslim special agents and intelligence analysts at the FBI are reporting a climate of fear inside the agency coinciding with the political ascendance of Donald Trump, the Guardian has learned.
    Barodi was fired on 1 February 2017 after a YEAR-long investigation that stemmed from what he considered to be a strict adherence to the rules.
    On 18 May 2016, Comey held a meeting with representatives of minority groups at the FBI, including African Americans, Muslims, women, Asian Americans and LGBT employees.
    Fatefully, Barodi took three photos on his cellphone of the officer. Barodi asked if the officer thought he lacked constitutional protections while overseas, and received an answer: yes.

    There was no discussion of Barodi’s decision to protect his FBI affiliation in a foreign airport, let alone his concern that he was profiled. By 23 February [2016], Barodi met with security agents at the field office who also rejected the profiling claim out of hand; it might have been “Morocco day”, one said, implying that Barodi had the misfortune of flying on a day when CBP was checking travelers from Morocco.
    He was left in a holding pattern for months. An attempt to seek redress through the equal opportunity office was rejected. He wrote to his senator, Virginia DEMOCRAT Tim Kaine, without result. On 7 September, the office of professional responsibility wrote to Barodi to inform him that it was recommending him for dismissal: he had, in “two busy international airports … refused to cooperate” with customs officials, and had displayed a “lack of candor” by refusing to answer questions. The FBI even referred to Barodi’s letter with Kaine and accused Barodi of overstating his case to the senator….

    OK than…..all of the things that set up the firing of Barodi….happened when evil, evil Trump was president….WHA!?? Trump wasn’t president in 2016????? Obama was president?!!? But, but, but….but AND that bad repub senator….uh, I mean dem senator didn’t do anything….

    Again, I concede what a terrible person Trump is. But the article really is pretty clear that if you have a smooth, dulcimer toned speaker like Obama, you can violate civil rights till the cows come home cause gosh darn it, Obama is just terrific – and Obama would never, ever act against Muslims, even though this article says this Muslim was abused….when OBAMA was president…but somehow this is Trump’s fault….
    Is there no one in the media who thinks the ACTUAL policy is important and if you like or dislike the president that is irrelevant????

    1. SpringTexan

      Thanks. Yes, and Tim Kaine did nothing to help. Your points are terrific. All the civil rights’ violation, and wars, and surveillance are just fine if it’s one of “our guys” doing it.

      Why I’m not a Democrat and haven’t been since 2001 when they all lined up behind the Afghanistan War and the Patriot Act — though I vote in their primary.

      Some of the most decent people I know still think the Democrats are “our side” and in my opinion no side is “our side” if we have to give them a pass on stuff like this.

  22. DJG

    Failed Evolution: Yes, the Germans have been antidemocratic. Yes, the SPD is making noises now but is unlikely to diverge from what the bankers want. Meanwhile, elderly people are begging on the streets of Athens, because, as we all know, “pension reform” (in U.S.A.speak, The Grand Bargain) is what is needed.

    And then there is the thoroughly unprejudiced Dijsselbloem:

    It makes one wonder.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Guessing diesel boom will be joining lindsey graham and john McCain in key west where one does not much have to worry too much about “women” in public…or maybe sobe and lincoln road…or was that them walking out of the sauna blue river together at the hague…nah…probably just some celebrity look-a-likes hoping for some publicity…

      How wonderfully enlightening to hear the “finance” minister with a background and degree in gardening, chastise 100 million men for having the audacity to want to romance women…

      how icky to him it must be…imagine kissing on a woman…

      However, he probably takes in some things a little stronger than alcohol since he tried brushing away the whole issue calling it a misunderstanding of a joke from a strong Calvinist background…

      funny that since he is(or was raised)Catholic…

  23. Alex Morfesis

    Adam Schiff and his girl svetlana…wag the dog congressman (burbank studios and jet prop lab) claim to fame was his acceptance of testimony from a purported “russian” agent and the battle between the agency mormon mafia and the agencies top hispanic agent bernardo “mat” perez, who was brushed aside when he started digging too deep in investigating Puerto ricans nationalist murder of american soldiers…so the agency dumps him to LA where he bumps into the wall and to misdirect the issue, schiff prosecutes the first fbi agent for espionage, which was denied by the agent as Richard Miller insisted he was trying to penetrate russian intel and not the other way around…

    years later, one might imagine agent miller was telling the truth as magically, the fbi used svetlana on the kimberly bailey/janet fleming Tijuana murder of richard post…

    Svetlana is married to weed dealer and now “legal” public company marketer, bruce perlowin…

    But we should fully put our faith in congressman schiff…

    Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

    1. Anonymous

      “July 18, 2013, a fundraiser for Schiff’s reelection campaign was held at the home of Ukrainian arms dealer Igor Pasternak in Washington, D.C. Price of admission: $2,500 a head, and $1,000 for guests. Why is Pasternak such a fan of Schiff’s?

      The answer may be found in a Washington Times story published in January, headlined “Ukraine Desperate for Surveillance Equipment in Stand Off With Russia,” which details the efforts of the Ukrainian government to get around the Obama administration’s reluctance to provide them with the “defensive weapons” Schiff is so eager to shower them with. Yet the Times tells us that Pasternak has somehow managed to get around the prohibition imposed by the administration, at least to a limited extent:

      “In the meantime, a private, State Department-approved transaction has a Montebello, California, company, Worldwide Aeros, set to erect eight sensor-mounted towers that would deliver immediate surveillance along the southeastern border this winter.

      “’This system will provide a much more robust capability to detect incursions into their territory,’ said Drew Shoemaker, vice president of government relations for Aeroscraft, a division of Worldwide. ‘It detects with the radar and then confirms with the camera.’

      “Worldwide Aeros was founded by a Ukrainian-born engineer, Igor Pasternak, who has won Pentagon contracts to develop different sizes and shapes of airships.”

      Follow the money. Pasternak is selling the Ukrainians military hardware, and is doubtless eager to sell them more – paid for by US taxpayers, of course. According to news reports, Pasternak is deeply involved with the Ukrainian government’s military production, which is seeking to eliminate its dependence on Soviet era military hardware:…”

      1. JTMcPhee

        Schiff is channeling Charlie Wilson? Wants a war of his own?

        Spent a couple of hours re-acquainting myself with the wonderful world of war porn, so freely available via Youtube. Rah-rah bits on Marine snipers, blasting towelheads half a mile away to greasy shreds, with .50-cal high-precision rounds from their Barrett .50-cal sniper rifles. Lots of clips of various loyalties of moderate jihadis engaged in whoop-te-doo street fighting in what used to be the cities of the mideast. US GIs shouting out with glee, liberal use of the “f” word in all its grammatical forms, as 500, 1000 and 2000 GBUs rubble-ize more “infrastructure” and terrain and turn other humans to smears and shards and pink mist, all under huge clouds of that ugly Hell-colored sh!t-brown smoke from the detonation of high explosives. Nice selection of “we don’t use white phosphorus” detonations of all kinds of munitions, usually to jovial “other”-hating shouts in the sound tracks from all those recording devices that flood the warspace and give the prurient all those different views of the horrors. And lots of during-and after-action insights into the dugouts and trenches and tunnels where “gunmen” live and die, the ground littered and piled with the marvelous end-of-supply-chain, “modern” detritus of designer water bottles, cans of Del Monte-branded produce, cigarette butts and all the other garbage that “gunmen” engaged in combat so happily generate in their filthy subsistence between killings and dyings… I’d post links, but Skynut or moderators might not take that kindly… Bear in mind that a couple of million of your fellow humans and mine are busy, 24-7-365, entering into the contracts and making the ammo and weapons and transporting it all to the combat areas and arranging payment for same, and of course the “effectives” busily filling their magazines and suiting up and playing a deadly game of “Capture the Flag,” the gentler version of which I really got into as a youngster. And desk commandos are busy with “Call of Duty: Annihilation,” and lining up their squads for a rousing weekend of beer and paintball…

        Gahan Wilson pulled the whole thing together and put it in perspective, in one of his cartoons from my own time in the war zone:

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Destruction of Israel’ is its abandonment by American Jews Mondoweiss (Chuck L)</blockquote

    That's a lot to ask.

    "Destruction of Russia is its abandonment by American Russians?"

    "Destruction of the Papacy is its abandonment by American Catholics?"

    "Destruction of Denmark is its abandonment by American Danes?"

    "Destruction of Mexico is its abandonment by American Mexicans?"

    1. John k

      Israel more likely to make deals with Palestinians without us Jewry support.
      Us does not support Russia, rather the opposite.
      Denmark not affected either.
      But Mexican remittances critical, plus taking young unemployed reduces internal pressure for change.

  25. fresno dan

    Middle-age white Americans with limited education are increasingly dying younger, on average, than other middle-age U.S. adults, a trend driven by their dwindling economic opportunities, research by two Princeton University economists has found.

    The economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, argue in a paper released Thursday that the loss of steady middle-income jobs for those with high school degrees or less has triggered broad problems for this group. They are more likely than their college-educated counterparts, for example, to be unemployed, unmarried or afflicted with poor health.

    “This is a story of the collapse of the white working class,” Deaton said in an interview. “The labor market has very much turned against them.”

    I’m not sure how this differs from their previous paper on the subject. Still, this is such an important subject it just shouldn’t be written once and forgotten. I think it was in the WSJ today as well, but I can’t get past their gate.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      A little like Janet Yellen’s statement today that if you grow up poor it’s much harder to get rich. And I wish I could get paid for producing a study that concluded that the loss of jobs for middle class people made them more likely than their college-educated counterparts to be unemployed.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It wasn’t easy (and maybe I was expected to do some work reading the article), but after some confusion right from the start, as in this very first sentence:

    The World Wide Web Consortium has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management as a new web standard.

    Then, as I mentioned, after some work, I figure it reads like this (because abbreviations like W3C and DRM just pop up in the article like I should know them already):

    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management (DRM) as a new web standard.

    I’m grateful I went from a low-information reader to a not-as-low information reader.

  27. allan

    The Republican Hypocrisy on Surveillance, Leaks, and Snowden [Marcy Wheeler @ Vice]

    … this is a very new discomfort on Nunes’s part. He has long championed such spying against people he didn’t know personally. In a letter opposing an effort to rein in direct access to such “incidentally” collected communications from Americans in 2014, for example, Nunes insisted that the intelligence community had to retain such direct access because “communications between individual foreign intelligence targets and [Americans] can have significant intelligence value.” …

    There used to be a saying: a neoliberal is a liberal who’s been mugged.
    Let’s hope that we’re getting to the point where an ACLU member is a conservative who’s been bugged.

    1. fresno dan

      March 23, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      + one million!

      Nunes….probably just starting to figure out what Schumer meant when Schumer said, “they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you.”

  28. giantsquid

    Re: The Meaning of Life (Part 1)

    Jonathan Latham writes:

    “Many people date the DNA revolution to the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. But really it began thirty years before, conceived by the mind of John D Rockefeller, Sr. Thus it is fitting that DNA is named after him. DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid and ribo stands for Rockefeller Institute of Biochemistry (now Rockefeller University) where the chemical composition of DNA was first discovered in the 1920s.”

    Firstly, while ribose was first isolated at the Rockefeller, the name and structure of ribose, from which the ribo in Deoxyribonucleic Acid is derived, were first proposed by the German chemist Emit Fischer in 1891. And secondly, Rockefeller University has never been called the Rockefeller Institute of Biochemistry. It was originally known as the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and most people I know still refer to it as the Rockefeller Institute.

    I point this out as an example of Dr. Latham letting his agenda get the better of him. Readers might get a more accurate assessment from one of the articles Latham cites in support of his thesis: The mystery of missing heritability: Genetic interactions create phantom heritability

  29. Oregoncharles

    On the China-Us war scenario, this para made me cranky:

    “Still, despite the threat of sophisticated weapons designed with just this occasion in mind, President Trump could send carriers to escort incoming ships to their Taiwanese destinations. The result: Everyone is on edge.”

    Why would he send carriers? Taiwan itself makes an excellent, unsinkable carrier, so you would keep them well back. It doesn’t matter what ships you send as an escort: the point is that attacking them would be an act of war. No, I don’t want that duty, but I’m not in the Navy, either. Using carriers would be silly. At most, you’d send missile cruisers, so you have a plausible means of counter-attack. Better might be aircraft, from Taiwan, which wouldn’t be so vulnerable to the Chinese missiles.

    Granted, the whole scenario is highly speculative, but it should at least make sense. The S. China Sea poses a real dilemma, because the Chinese claim is imperialistic nonsense, as the World Court concluded. It will probably remain a dangerous standoff for a long time, and is genuinely one reason an impulsive, aggressive President is a problem.

  30. chicagogal

    Can anyone explain to me why there is all the howling about Trump’s tax returns? What do they expect them to show, that he pays taxes like normal people, that he uses the tax rules as they currently exist to avoid paying, or underpays, what taxes he might be subject to?

    The simple truth seems to be that the brainwashed, kool-aid drinking Clinton/Obama zealots absolutely refuse to believe the truth about why Trump is President and have to cling to their moral outrage instead of constructively doing something to change the rules by which the oligarchs play. Just because they can’t (or maybe outright refuse to) understand someone else’s point of view, they seem to think it’s just fine to call them names and tell them they are the stupid ones and aren’t allowed to have a different opinion based upon their reasoned reading as opposed to listening to only the MSM/Sunday political farces/Facebook. Sorry for ranting, but just spent last weekend in that situation with a close family member and am pretty peeved about being told how stupid I am for not voting for the queen.

  31. Jesse

    Just to clarify, ‘Snooki’ was not paid by the University of Rutgers administration to speak at their commencement. The Post and the legislator has it wrong. And the Post knows better, but they got it wrong back in 2011 as well.

    ‘Snooki’ was paid 32k by the student organization out of their discretionary student fee entertainment funds for two one hour sessions on separate days that had nothing to do with any official university function. They were designated as ‘entertainment.’ I forget how much the annual fee is at Rutgers New Brunswick, but Snooki’s gig worked out to be about 90 cents per student.

    An absurd waste of funds in my opinion, and certainly an excessive amount. But this was student money controlled by students for entertainment.

    I remember the incident because I had a young one there at the time. He did not attend. I kidded him about it at the time. He just shrugged his shoulders. That’s college life.

    I am curious to know how the legislator will limit student spending on entertainment?

    At my own son’s graduation, Condoleeza Rice had been invited to speak, and had to defer because of the protests from the students including a position taken in the student newspaper:

    “Rice signed off to give the CIA authority to conduct their torture tactics for gathering information from detainees as well,” the letter continues. “These are clearly human rights issues. By inviting her to speak and awarding her an honorary degree, we are encouraging and perpetuating a world that justifies torture and debases humanity.”

    The Post is grinding an axe here that is familiar: students are foolish snowflakes and deserve what they get if they go into debt and cannot pay it.

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