2:00PM Water Cooler 4/19/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s memoir made him $245 a copy” [The Journal-News]. Not bad for the remainder bin!


“”If you are a Democrat and you are not raising a lot of money right now, there’s something wrong with you,’ [Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections] said, noting the record sums flowing into a Georgia House race to back Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political novice competing in a Tuesday special election” [USA Today]. “‘Democratic donors and Democrats in general are itching for the next fight,’ Gonzales said.”

“In the first two special congressional elections of the Trump Era, Democratic candidates are performing 10 to 20 points better than they did in 2016” [NBC]. “The question is: Can they sustain it — for the June 20runoff in Georgia, for the 2018 midterms, and even for the May 25 special in Montana (Republicans won that at-large district 56%-40% in 2016)?” They certainly won’t maintain it for Montana; Quist is associated with Sanders, so they surely want him to lose.

GA-06: “Republicans were hoping that the 2016 results were race-specific, and that without Trump on the ballot, this district would revert to Republican form. The reason is that there is a host of historically Republican suburban districts such as Texas 7, California 45, Texas 32, Illinois 6, and Virginia 10 where Trump ran well behind the traditional GOP baseline. If those numbers stick, there will be a lot of races that we haven’t seen as competitive in the past pop up on our radar screen. Additionally, this will help recruiting, as a bevy of Democratic officeholders will be thinking, “If a novice can do this, just think what I can do!” [RealClearPolitics].

GA-06: “Democrats believe that Jon Ossoff’s performance, coming up less than two points shy of the 50 percent threshold he needed to win outright, validated their emerging strategy of focusing on dozens of GOP seats in diverse, well-educated suburbs across the country in advance of next year’s elections” [WaPo]. As I keep saying. The Democrat Establishment wants to run the Clinton 2016 campaign all over again; this isn’t an “emerging strategy” at all.

GA-06: “A top Clinton aide believes Democrats’ best hope still lies with wealthy suburbanites” [Vox]. “[Top Democratic strategist Brian] Fallon’s argument is that the most winnable districts for House Democrats are those that largely fit the profile of the Georgia Sixth — suburban, affluent, and full of voters who may be traditionally Republican but who voted against Donald Trump this fall. (Clinton only lost Ossoff’s district by one point.)” As I keep saying… Clearly, it’s critically important for liberal Democrats that the working class continue to be written off. But Fulton County is no more a viable defensive position than the Hamptons are.

GA-06: “It is also notable that the candidates who most closely embraced President Trump finished poorly. As I write this, just after 1 a.m., the most pro-Trump candidates finished a distant third (Bob Gray), fifth (Dan Moody) and 10th (Bruce LeVell). (UPDATE: With the final votes tallied, Moody moved barely into fourth place, for what that’s worth.) The Republican whose campaign was least hitched to the president, Karen Handel, is the one who very easily advanced to the run-off with a total just higher than Gray’s and Moody’s combined” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

KS-02: “Both party cam­paign com­mit­tees played the Kan­sas spe­cial elec­tion smartly. The Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee and the Kan­sas Demo­crat­ic Party did not spend any­thing un­til the last couple of days be­fore the elec­tion; to do so would have been the kiss of death in such a rock-ribbed Re­pub­lic­an dis­trict. They wanted this cam­paign to fly un­der the radar and not be­come a red-Re­pub­lic­an-versus-blue-Demo­crat­ic race in the minds of re­li­ably con­ser­vat­ive GOP voters. The the­ory was to let GOP voters stay leth­ar­gic, some dis­il­lu­sioned with what is go­ing on with their party in Wash­ing­ton, while the Demo­crat­ic voters in the dis­trict would vent their an­ger at Pres­id­ent Trump and the GOP. This reas­on­ing may not im­press lib­er­al act­iv­ists, arm­chair ana­lysts on the Left, and the net­roots, but any­one ar­tic­u­lat­ing the op­pos­ite line pat­ently doesn’t un­der­stand con­gres­sion­al elec­tions in gen­er­al or spe­cial elec­tions in par­tic­u­lar” [Cook Political Report]. Cook’s “arm­chair ana­lysts on the Left” reminds me of David Broder’s “vituperative, foul-mouthed, bloggers of the Left,” and for much the same reasons. I believe the Democrats ought to contest every seat; Dean’s famous 50-state strategy. Cook, and his Democratic strategist sources, don’t. Of course, the 50-state strategy has been proven to work (in 2006), and the DCCC strategy has been proven to fail (see chart below) but Cook’s right, it’s a judgment call. The famous chart:

“With the political map glaringly free of obvious near-term win opportunities, [Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz] believes the party’s messaging needs some refining. In his view, that means officials at the DCCC should cut the doom-and-gloom messaging in their fundraising emails — a significant way the party communicates with backers” [Politico]. Idea: #MedicareForAll. Never, ever…

“Perhaps there will come a time when Trump voters actually do turn on him and either vote for Democrats or don’t turn out at all. So far, though, there is no actual evidence that’s happening now. There is enough polling and anecdotal evidence to conclude that Trump voters have enough patience to give their candidate more than 90 days to get his agenda accomplished. They seem to have more patience than the media does in jumping to conclusions, at any rate” [The Week]. Idea: Democrats should get behind a policy proposal that voters in both parties can support…

2016 Post Mortem

“In May 2015, Clinton’s aides started planning her first national TV interview of the campaign, and her communications director Jennifer Palmieri asked top aide Huma Abedin to find out who Clinton wanted to interview her. The answer Palmieri got back was ‘Brianna,’ which Palmieri interpreted to mean Brianna Keilar of CNN. Palmieri then got to work setting up the live TV interview” [Business Insider]. “But Clinton had actually said ‘Bianna,’ in reference to Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo News. Golodryga is married to Peter Orszag, who worked for the Clinton administration before going on to become President Barack Obama’s budget director.” So where is Choi Soon-sil Huma these days? Hunkered down working on her book?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Poll: Bernie Sanders country’s most popular active politician” [The Hill]. Clearly, if you’re a fan of intersectionality, Sanders is the candidate for you:

“Remember how Sanders was the candidate of white men? Among the demographics shown, he’s least popular among whites and men” [Doug Henwood].

Contrast this by Corey Robin to Ossoff’s vacuous proposal to turn Atlanta into the Silicon Valley of the South:

“[Feinstein] heard loud boos when she said she was ‘not there’ on supporting complete single payer healthcare and didn’t oppose Trump’s missile strikes on Syria. During the very first question, one man stood up and shouted at Feinstein while the crowd yelled back and forth. Later on, a barking dog joined in the cacophony” [Santa Cruz Sentinel].

“A Millennial Feminist Explains the New Feminism to a Boomer Feminist Philosopher” [Katie Halper, Paste]. “While the personal is, of course, political, it is worth considering how much your own personal identification with Clinton and your shared experiences prevent you from seeing her for what she was and is: a former senator, Secretary of State, primary candidate, presidential nominee and human being. Is it possible the feminists who weren’t and aren’t as enmeshed in the journey of Hillary Clinton might have a clearer, more rational and less self-centered view of her and her policies, political activity and campaign?” Interesting, despite the horrid generational headline.

Stats Watch

Philly Fed Coincident Index, February 2017: “The reality is that most of the economic indicators have moderate to significant backward revision – but this month it seems the majority rear view mirror says the USA economy is slowing, flat or improving. Out of this group of coincident indicators discussed in this post, only ECRI and the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index have no backward revision – and both have a good track record of seeing the economy accurately in almost real time” [Econoday]. “For February, it show that the economy is weak but not recessionary.”

Architectural Billings Index, March 2017: “Architecture Billings Index continues to strengthen” [American Institute of Architects]. “As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.” And: “his index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and early 2018” [Calculated Risk].

MBA Mortgage Applications, April 4, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 3 percent in the April 14 week” [Econoday].

Retail: “The lines between digital and physical stores are blurring even more. PayPal Holdings Inc. will make its transaction service available on Alphabet Inc.’s Android Pay, in the payment company’s biggest step yet to bring its digital wallet into the brick-and-mortar world” [Wall Street Journal].

Commodities: “Ecuador, until recently only known by its oil resources, will continue to attract investors to its mining sector, with the value of the dawning industry set to jump from $1.1 billion this year to $7.9 billion in 2021, a new report [from BMI Research] shows” [MIning.com]. “”While left-wing candidate Lenin Moreno won the April presidential election over the traditionally more business -friendly centre-right candidate Guillermo Lasso, we expect the incoming administration to continue to support mining development, as initiated by Moreno’s leftist predecessor Rafael Correa,” the analysts write.”

Commodities: “Out of the sand trap: Golf sand supplier transforming into large frac sand mine” [Houston Express]. “The energy sector is increasingly relying much more on sand for fracking, and in some cases using up to 1,000 truck loads of sand for a single well.” That’s a lot of trucks!

Shipping: “Little more than 2 1/2 years from now, the global fleet of merchant ships will have to reduce drastically how much sulfur their engines belch into the atmosphere. While that will do good things — like diminishing the threat of acid rain and helping asthma sufferers — there’s a $60 billion sting in the tail” [Bloomberg]. “That’s how much more seaborne vessels may be forced to spend each year on higher-quality fuel to comply with new emission rules that start in 2020.”

Shipping: “High hopes abound for the dry bulk sector, even if analysts cannot agree on why” [Lloyd’s List]. “Interestingly enough they are placing the same bet but for a different main reason, one arguing that it will be primarily demand-driven [Chinese steel] and another arguing that it will be primarily supply-driven [sulphur emission controls will lead to slow steaming, in effect a supply reduction]…. This may be a risk worth taking for a market segment that a mere 12 months ago was given up for dead.”

The Bezzle: “JPMorgan accused of fraud over tech company sale” [Financial Times]. “The lawsuit filed on behalf of some shareholders of Good Technology, a security software provider, accuses the bank of committing “fraud on the board” over the advice it gave when directors were debating whether to pursue a public listing or a sale in 2015. Good, once a ‘unicorn’ valued at more than $1bn, was sold to BlackBerry in September 2015 for just $425m, amid a cash crunch.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Drivers Are Paying Big Bucks to Test Flawed Self-Driving Software” [BackChannel]. “Some of the [Tesla Autopilot] system’s quirks are common enough that they have earned their own nicknames. ‘Truck lust” describes the cars’ tendency to shimmy up alongside 18-wheelers on highways, while ‘lane dancing’ is a wiggle in the Tesla’s dashboard display as it hunts for the right position on the road.” Hoo boy. You could argue that Tesla owners signed up to take the risks, but what happens when an innocent bystander gets whacked because Musk released buggy software into his cars?

Tne Bezzle: “Here’s one fintech that’s still going head-to-head against banks” [American Banker]. The “fintech” is an app that advances money to musicians based on projected future sales. Do we have any musician readers — or digital sharecroppers — who can comment?

Concentration: “Your Broadband is About to Get Much More Expensive” [DSL Reports (DK)].

Fodder for the Bulls: “The global economy is looking up, as long as those trade and geopolitical tensions stay tamped down. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting the kind of world-wide expansion that hasn’t seen in some time, the WSJ’s Ian Talley and Harriet Torry report, nudging up its outlook to the highest level in five years in a broad based rebound. The IMF points to growing global investment, manufacturing and consumer confidence in advanced and emerging markets in projecting global growth of 3.5% this year. And growth in cross-border trade of goods and services is projected to nearly double to 3.8%. The outlook is more restrained in the U.S., where growth has remained tepid this year, with manufacturing output falling 0.4% in March for the first time in eight months. But the IMF report suggests businesses generally are shrugging off unease over politics and trade and instead priming supply chains for expansion” [Wall Street Journal].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Apr 19 at 12:20pm.

Health Care

Medicare for All polls well:

It’s almost like the people really standing in the way are a tiny faction of elite Democrats….

“Obamacare’s Insurers Struggle for Stability Amid Trump Threats” [Bloomberg]. ObamaCare, as a “market,” is a lot like an aerodynamically unstable, fly-by-wire aircraft; constant corrections are needed to keep it from nosediving into the ground.

“When it comes to health care, why do we settle?” [Citizen Times]. “From sports to businesses (think free market economy and capitalism) to elections, competition is what we all understand. Being No. 1 is the goal we have been taught to seek. Yet, we are totally complacent about being No. 37, according to the World Health Organization, in the world. Most of us don’t even realize that’s where the USA stands. In what, you ask? The answer is in health care.” I like that framing.

Our Famously Free Press

Google demonetizes streamer (readers will remember Tim Pool’s work on Occupy):

Ditto Benjamin Dixon (readers will remember Dixon’s interview with Adolph Reed):

However Dixon, at least, is getting a bit of his own back:

Hat tip to The Intercept for doing this, but what happens when Facebook shuts down independent voices as Google’s YouTube is?

“The Washington Post Ran a Correction to Its Disability Story. Here’s Why It’s Still Wrong” [Talk Poverty].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“[T]ens of thousands of individuals around the world are unwitting targets of powerful, relatively cheap spyware that anyone can buy. Ordinary people—lawyers, teachers, construction workers, parents, jealous lovers—have bought malware to monitor mobile phones or computers, according to a large cache of hacked files from Retina-X and FlexiSpy, another spyware company” [Motherboard].

Class Warfare

“The top and the very top” [Occasional Links and Commentary]. Chart from this morning’s NBER link:

“If your plan lost 40% in the Great Recession, getting back to even in the ensuing years did not make up for the lost money that was theoretically supposed to come from that 40% compounding at 8% a year” [John Maldin, Econintersect]. No duh! Mr. Market can’t provide retirement security!

“Too poor to retire and too young to die” [Los Angeles Times]. From 2016, still relevant (not that parallel choices don’t have to be made no matter the age cohort).

“Watch Workers Learn How to Filter Obscene and Violent Photos From Dating Sites” [Wired]. Symbol manipulation has a dark side: Emotional labor (underpaid, of course).

News of the Wired

“Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove” [Andrew Ross Sorking, New York Times (Tertium Squid)]. At “USA Facts” (“facts,” like “innovation,” being a word I’m thinking of flagging. Sadly). And some MMTer needs to get Ballmer’s attention on sectoral balances…

“Climbing out of Facebook’s reality hole” [Buzzfeed]. “The proliferation of fake news and filter bubbles across the platforms meant to connect us have instead divided us into tribes, skilled in the arts of abuse and harassment. Tools meant for showing the world as it happens have been harnessed to broadcast murders, rapes, suicides, and even torture. Even physics have betrayed us! For the first time in a generation, there is talk that the United States could descend into a nuclear war. And in Silicon Valley, the zeitgeist is one of melancholy, frustration, and even regret — except for Mark Zuckerberg, who appears to be in an absolutely great mood.”

“Browser Security: Google Will Fix Phishing Exploit On Chrome Already Patched On Safari And Edge” [International Business Times]. See also “This Phishing Attack is Almost Impossible to Detect On Chrome, Firefox and Opera” [The Hacker News]. Yikes, at the image at the top of the page. How about Lynx?

“The Monster at ‘the End of Capitalism'” [Medium]. Actually a game review. I’d be interested in reactions from readers who play online games; that is a generational difference!

“I went 200 days without buying anything new and learned how toxic our need for possessions is” [Medium]. “Going through my father’s old things, I felt the loss of my father with each and every item I sorted. And there was a lot of sorting to do. It took weeks to clear out the lifetime of possessions in my single father’s small apartment. Weeks to sell, donate, recycle or throw out the boxes and boxes of kitchenware, clothing, furniture, office materials, and so much more. I threw away a normal life of accumulation.”

* * *

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 (MH):

What a glorious blue!

MH writes: “The plant is similar to the shower trees, the blooms produce a small fuzzy seeds that are then strung into jewelry, worth about a dime a piece. I harvested two bucks worth this morning. Called magambo beads. Color on the blooms never fades. Enjoy Hawaii! Aloha!”

* * *

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. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like no unity there.

      Why unity with neoliberals and war hawks? To me, that’s an illusion.

    2. TK421

      Well, Hillary sure knows all about good ads! “Don’t vote for Trump–what will the neighbors think?” Brilliant!

  1. Jim Haygood

    Trouble brewing for the bicoastal elite:

    Gary Cohn [Trump’s economic advisor] has privately said he’s warming to the idea of eliminating the local and state tax deduction to pay for tax cuts and simplify the code.

    What it means: The White House needs a ton of money to pay for corporate, individual and small business tax cuts. Getting rid of these state and local deductions is a dream Republicans have long held and would raise an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years.

    Who loves it: House Republican leadership, which included it in its tax plan; and Grover Norquist, the anti-tax warrior who views the deductions as the federal government subsidizing higher taxes at the state and local level.

    Who hates it: Governors and Democrats, particularly those from high-tax Democratic states like California, New York and New Jersey.


    This rumor seems plausible from a “path of least resistance” point of view. A border tax instantly gets entangled in international treaties such as WTO. By contrast, changing the US tax code can be done with the stroke of a pen.

    Currently, federal deductibility of state taxes effectively reduces their after-tax cost by 40% for top earners. This makes life at least marginally tolerable in tax hells such as CA (13.3% top marginal income tax rate), NYC (12.7%), OR (9.9%), MN (9.85%), NJ (8.97%), VT (8.95%) and Washington DC (8.95%). By no coincidence, these are all blue states, since Democrats and taxes go together like copy and paste.

    Yanking their state tax deductions would savagely whack denizens of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the one-party media town of NYC. When one imagines the pitiful bleating and feckless whingeing of these wealthy worthies, the proposed policy change becomes downright irresistible.

    1. Pat

      This is another Republican pipe dream that is not going to happen. And this time it isn’t going to be the Tea Partiers who kill it, it is going to be people like Mitch McConnell. As much as they would like to punish those states, they really can’t because too much of their funding also comes from people who live and work there. And I don’t just mean the Kardashians. Oops.

      1. LT

        But how many states will it help them gain electoral votes for the Dems coveted Executive Branch governing preference?

    2. Carolinian

      pitiful bleating and feckless whingeing of these wealthy worthies

      I like it!

      Cohn has also been making noises about restoring some form of Glass-Steagall according to Pam Martens.


      One theory is that Cohn is still talking his Goldman book. Patrick Jenkins of the Financial Times writes:

      “But Glass-Steagall is not exactly anti-Wall Street. It is anti-universal bank. So while it would be a nightmare for Goldman Sachs’s big investment banking competitors, it would be a relative non-event for Goldman Sachs itself. In competitive terms, it could be a huge boost.”

      It’s true that Goldman’s commercial banking operations are dwarfed by the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — all of which function as universal banks with investment banking, brokerage firms, and commercial banking under one bank holding company roof. But what people tend to forget is that Goldman Sachs has parked a mind-numbing amount of derivatives at its own commercial bank, Goldman Sachs Bank USA.

    3. curlydan

      Also who hates it? Maybe the 44M filers who itemize deductions. Basically, if you itemize, you’re taking this deduction in part thanks to W who added general state sales taxes to the mix. I assume there are a lot of Republicans among that 44M. So unless these filers get lower individual tax rates in the process, I think a lot of people are likely to howl.

      It sounds like Club for Growth and others would like to eliminate it as leverage against states raising their tax rates. Maybe that’s needed in a few states, but maybe it’s just another Norquist “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub” ploy.

      1. different clue

        That’s how I always understood it ever since Bush’s Brain, Mr. T. Urd Blossom suggested it. It was designed to pain-teach the higher-tax states to lower their taxes ( and standards) down to those of the lower-tax states.

      2. Procopius

        I’ve always suspected that most of the people who itemize deductions would be better off taking the Standard Deduction. I wonder if any of them look at the result of their hard work and compare it to S.D.

  2. Big River Bandido

    $245 per copy? Christ, what was the retail price of the book? And what was the title…Fortunate Son?

    1. Pat

      Nope, $29.99. Harper Collins screwed the pooch and paid him a whole lot of money for a book that only 6000 or so people were interested enough in to purchase.

      And while your title is far more accurate for Andy’s memoir, the real title was “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics in Life”. I am, of course, assuming that the ‘setbacks’ section is largely empty, as about the only one I can really think of is when his committee on corruption thought they were really investigating and started looking at him – something he would not want to highlight.

      1. Jim Haygood

        If Cuomo had only put in a chapter about humping a hooker while still wearing his black socks, he prolly could have sold 9,000 copies.

      2. Romancing The Loan

        Aren’t excessive upfront fees for politicians’ stupid books a known form of hiding a payout?

        1. Pat

          Well it was only close to half a million for a neoliberal hack who wasn’t going to ignore them or their interests in his bid for wealthy donors for his presidential run. Still it was obviously a backdoor payout though I’m pretty sure even though HC didn’t realize how much of one it was (The payoff to Cuomo was only part of the cost of producing it remember.)

          Sadly, I’m betting some poor schlub will get the blame for what was surely an upper upper management decision in the smoke and mirrors for the stockholders.

        2. Big River Bandido

          When the publishing company is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch, and the ultimate payment totals over 8 times the retail price of the total number of books sold, it sounds more like a “payoff” than a “payout”.

    2. dcblogger

      I am sure that Murdoch did very well out of the book. Think of all the interests NewsCorp and the Murdoch family have in NY state.

  3. Max

    In rebuttal to “I went 200 days without buying anything new and learned how toxic our need for possessions is”:

    The Problem With Minimalism

    Basically, minimalism is largely something only well-off people can afford to pursue, because their wealth provides a cushion of safety. If they get rid of something, and then need it later, they’ll just buy it again. They don’t need to carry much else besides a wallet when they’re out and about; if they need something, they’ll just buy it on the fly. No sweat. If you’re not so well-off, however, having duplicates of your possessions can be necessary, even if such back-ups ruin the aesthetics of owning just 100 possessions.

    No Fixed Abode: You gotta be rich to own a cheap car.

    Viewed from one perspective, this incident absolutely validated the cash-for-used-car-and-learn-to-fix-it mentality. Viewed from another perspective, it was a damning indictment of a philosophy that requires plenty of time and flexibility to make work. To own and run a million-mile Lexus, or any other car where the maintenance and repair is your sole responsibility, requires that you have time to deal with the breakdowns, resources to cover the gaps in your life when problems occur, and the ability to pay for and install anything from a radiator to a differential. Which means, when you think about it, that a million-mile Lexus is something that it perhaps wasn’t quite when it hit the showroom back in 1996.

    It’s a luxury car.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Going through my father’s old things, I felt the loss of my father with each and every item I sorted. And there was a lot of sorting to do. It took weeks to clear out the lifetime of possessions in my single father’s small apartment. Weeks to sell, donate, recycle or throw out the boxes and boxes of kitchenware, clothing, furniture, office materials, and so much more. I threw away a normal life of accumulation.”

      I went through the same experience….without that accumulation, I wouldn’t have the once-in-a-lifetime journey.

      Still, going through, say, 2 jackets can be as meaningful as going through 10.

      A side note. Most toxic accumulation is the possession of books, I believe.

      First of all, there is the question of whether we can really own books, which are too sacred to be ‘owned.’ They should be, er, free.

      Then there is the question of insulting books by using them as interior decoration.

      And lastly, we ask if after reading a book, we haven’t really digested fully, if they haven’t become a part of us, living in us, what is the point, then, of keeping it? And if we have merged with it to become a new entity, why do we need to ‘possess’ it?

      1. Jim Haygood

        One is reminded of protagonist Lenny Abramov in Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story. At a pick-up bar, he gets shunned by the iPhone-wielding young hotties because he stinks of old books.

        TIMATOV, they text to each other: Think I’M About To Openly Vomit.

        1. clinical wasteman

          If there are people like that out there they can go family blog themselves. And inasmuch as they do exist, I doubt that they’re predominantly young. SMS! It takes years and money to upholster a demographic niche that way.

      2. Lee

        Simple, durable tools I inherited from my father will pass to my son. I’m using two of them today to replace a broken window: a 50 year old aluminum platform ladder and a limber bladed putty knife with a wooden handle. His chef’s knives we use daily.

        As for books, there was a time when surveying a person’s bookshelves was an important indicator of their interests and internal life, a starting point for conversation and an aid in service of seduction in some cases.

      3. different clue

        Because you might want to read the book again and again. And again and again and again. Like listening to a record.

        When the internet goes dark for good, people will be glad for all the useful books they have kept.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Au contraire. Poverty is what motivated my interest in minimalism. I couldn’t afford to buy things, so I just did without. I had no other choice.

      My simplicity wasn’t voluntary. It was mandatory.

      1. TK421

        Yeah, really. “The problem with minimalism” reminds me of overweight people who tell me they can’t afford to eat less food.

        1. MtnLife

          Inaccurate comparison. Food is highly perishable, most consumer items are not. The only people I know who live minimalist lifestyles are middle class or wealthy. They are the only ones who can afford to call their plumber, electrician, gardener, carpenter, and mechanic whenever they need and/or want to. I cannot afford their services so I am forced to dedicate a large portion of my living quarters to the tools necessary to provide their services for myself. Would love to have the free space. Would also love to have enough money to not need those items to survive.

          1. jrs

            most of those tools aren’t needed when it’s the landlords responsibility to keep the place habitable.

  4. flora

    re: KS-04 and Cook Political report. Bull.
    Fly under the radar? As if everyone in KS-04 – Wichita area – didn’t know Thompson was the Dem candidate? As if the national GOP didn’t see what was happening and send big cash and ad buys to help Ron Este’s campaign in the final week? I think the DCCC hoped their virtual abandonment of the Dem candidate would fly under the MSM radar. (The KS-02 race – KC area – isn’t up for a vote until 2018.)

    Cook Political Report can’t put enough lipstick on this to make it presentable.

    1. flora

      And as for “reliably GOP district”, even the reliably GOP districts are sick of Brownback and his administration, in which Ron Estes was state treasurer, and voted out several of Brownback’s strongest lege allies in the 2016 election.

      1. Phil In Kansas City

        Reliable? It was a Democratic district in the early 1990’s, represented by Dan Glickman, who was tapped to become Clinton’s Sec of Ag. It could be Dem again, as Brownback has really stained the Repub brand. In fact, if the Nat Dems had been paying attention, Kansas today could have had a Dem governor, senator, and two Dem representatives. Feels like Kansas and my neighboring state of Missouri have been written off by the National Committees and abandoned to the Repubs.

        1. different clue

          Perhaps this is an opportunity for local Bernies to begin building a Kansas-sized Bernie-faction to either take over the Kansas DemParty if they can, or in the meantime to keep running Berniecrats to make sure that no Clintocrat can ever be elected to anything in Kansas.

          Keep sabotaging the Clintoncrats till Kansans are so sick of their Brownbackers that they will start voting for Berniecrats.

        2. Code Name D

          Precisely. That places like Kansas are a “red state” is a myth. The national part stops sending the state money or other resources, Republicans start winning – and suddenly it becomes a “red state” which prompts even larger budget cuts and more fiscal starvation. When they do run a Dem, it’s always a neo-liberal or just an out-and-out corrupt carpet bagger. And they have the nerve to be surprised when they lose.

          Kansas used to be a very progressive state. It’s “red” because there are never any progressives to vote for.

          Currently, the real battle is between the social conservative Republicans and the moderates. This last election cycle saw massive gains for the moderates, and they have been flexing their muscle in Topeka. They recently sent Brownback a Medicare expansion bill which he had to veto. They are hoping to bring the vote to the floor again, this time with a veto prove majority, after one of our major hospitals is threatening to close for financial reasons. And they are trying to dismantle his tax cuts too.

          But its like what Jimmy Dore says, they would rather lose to conservatives, than win with progressives.

        3. Procopius

          Don’t try to tell that to Rahm Emanuel. Or Chuck Schumer. They’re certain that the only way the Democratic Party will survive is to attract Republicans. Therefore they only support Republicans. Remember Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Red to Blue initiative? And her statement when she was observed undercutting Democratic candidates, “Well I have to support them (the Republican candidates). They’re my friends.”

    2. Code Name D

      I agree. Thompson is well known here. His name keeps poping up for Govonor, but for some reason they never let him run. (They would rather run carpet baggers from California.) You want to keep your money to the end because Republicans here always run 11th hour smear campains. And Ester had a lot of resorces flying in from around the contry and threw out all of the old tropes. (Polosie puppet, secret “liberal’ aggenda, take your guns). They do this EVERY TIME!

      The thing is that Democrats can’t lose – literly. Ossoff failes to win the election outright – and they take a victory lap. And if he loses in the run off – they will STILL declare victory.

      1. flora

        Yes. I guess it serves the DCCC’s interests to make noises like they know what’s happening in the country and have it taped. They don’t know and they don’t have it taped.

  5. Mirjonray

    “Tesla Drivers Are Paying Big Bucks to Test Flawed Self-Driving Software”

    When I see stories like these I always think of French noblemen (like Marquis St. Evremonde.in Tale of Two Cities) running over peasants with their horses and carriages.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Mr. Market can’t provide retirement security!

    Perhaps the most astonishing factoid in John Mauldin’s sobering essay is this:

    In the early 1980s, about 60% of companies had defined-benefit plans. Today it’s about 4% (source: money.CNN). Such pensions are all but gone from US private-sector employers. They’re still common in government, particularly state and local governments.

    These plans face a double-barrelled problem: not only are they assuming 7.0 or 7.5% rates of return that Mr Market can’t deliver, with stocks and bonds both currently priced to deliver returns of only 2.0 to 4.0% … but also, private-sector workers with meager or no pension plans are going to fiercely resent being taxed to bail out generous plans for gov’t workers.

    “Pension envy” is going to explode with a bang when the next recession exposes the insolvent state of dozens, nay hundreds, of public pension plans. Asking folks with no pension to dig deeper so gov’t workers can retire comfortably at 60 or 80 percent of their final salary likely will send some of the sans-culottes into the streets, heaving bricks and torching cars.

    Unfunded government promises are about to come a cropper in spectacular fashion.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Everybody should have pensions, not just the government workers.

      The 401k system was never meant to be a replacement for DB pensions and the creators just admitted that. In the WSJ.

      1. jrs

        They also admitted that even in 1980 only 60% of the population had pensions, that means that for 40% of the population even in the good old days the pension system NEVER worked!

        And all they had was Social Security and any savings they had accumulated which is why EVEN for those generations Social Security was and is a life and death matter.

        No, we don’t need to go back to a completely unjust system where even in the best case scenario 40% of the population was tough out of luck despite working all their lives (because they had worked for the wrong companies – they weren’t lucky enough to have worked for the right companies see). Rather we need better Social Security which is a truly universal program.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Totally concur. At only 20% funding (headed to zero in 2034, according to its trustees), Social Security is in the worst shape of any public pension plan, while also being by far the largest — about 100 times larger than CalPERS, for instance.

          Trustees who owe no fiduciary duty to Social Security beneficiaries are a set-up for disaster. They cater to the politicians who appointed them, while somberly wringing their hands over the oncoming train wreck.

          Mistakes were made — something should have been done! :-0

          1. Gareth

            Thanks for recycling the ‘social security is going broke’ propaganda. It’s and oldie but goodie.

            1. GF

              Yeah. Ever heard of MMT. SS can’t go broke unless it is directed to do so by ignorant politicians.

    2. Huey Long

      I am one of the fortunate few private sector workers to have both union representation and a pension plan. Unfortunately, my pension has been crapified via the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, so that in the future my pension benefit is likely to be dramatically cut. Thanks Obama!

      There’s a clear cut reason working folks are abandoning the Democrat Party; we get promised things like card check on the campaign trail and then after the election we get our pensions screwed with instead.

    3. Vatch

      Here’s a thought: before we raise taxes on people who can’t afford it, let’s raise taxes on the billionaires and hecto-millionaires who can afford it. Let’s eliminate the carried interest loophole, and create a new top tax bracket with a much higher marginal tax rate.

          1. Procopius

            He was just conservative. He wanted to preserve something he inherited from FDR. But I agree I’d like to see something like what Piketty and Saez calculated to be optimal, 70%. See, what Laffer never admits is that while taxes too high may reduce your revenue, taxes too low certainly will. “No, no, don’t look over here, look over there.”

            1. Vatch

              Of course I was joking! Thanks for the reminder of Laffer’s laughable ideas — his jokes are unintentional.

    4. vidimi

      turning the have-nothings against the have-nots is a reliable back-up plan for the elites when tshtf

  7. hemeantwell

    “That’s how much more seaborne vessels may be forced to spend each year on higher-quality fuel to comply with new emission rules that start in 2020.”

    One would think that the author of this piece would let us know how much merchant vessels contribute to pollution. As I recall — not only in a cognitive way but also because it was one of the most disheartening enlightenments I had last year — merchant shipping pollution outweighs automotive pollution something on the order of ten to one. Omitting that fact lets the article’s tone curdle into another biz whine about gummint regulation.

    1. Huey Long

      Most merchant vessels are powered by diesel engines burning #6 fuel oil these days, i.e. the dirty sludgy stuff you need to heat just to get it to flow out of the tanks and through the pipes. Apparently, the plan here is to replace #6 oil with Marine Gas Oil (MGO), which is roughly equivalent to #2 fuel oil.

      This presents a bunch of problems:

      1. MGO costs more than #6 oil
      2. Fuel injection equipment designed for #6 oil will either need to be replaced, or additives will need to be added to MGO to keep the fuel injectors from failing due to poor lubrication, as the only thing that lubricates it is the fuel itself (MGO is less viscous than #6)
      3. MGO contains fewer BTUs per gallon than #6 oil (139600 vs 152400). This means that on a given shipping route, 8.39% more fuel will have to be burned to maintain the same schedule, and the fuel’s more expensive to boot (see 1).

      For a more thorough analysis, check out this report from the European Community Shipowners’ Association:


      1. Darius

        Is #6 the same as bunker fuel? As I recall, gasoline and highway diesel fuel have an EPA sulfur limit of 0.15 ppm. Bunker fuel has about 2,000 ppm of sulfur.

        1. Huey Long

          Yes, #6 is often colloquially referred to as “bunker oil” or “bunker-c,” while #2 oil differs from highway diesel in terms of sulfur content, is typically dyed, and is used in off road, home heating, marine, and industrial fuel applications.

      2. a different chris

        >This presents a bunch of problems:

        Ugh well we’d better get started then, shouldn’t we?

    2. Lee

      Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping have increased in tandem with this rise in demand. While information about global shipping is less readily available than for other transport sectors, it is estimated that shipping accounts for 1.5 percent of global anthropogenic GHG emissions each year.[4] International shipping—movement of goods between countries—comprises nearly 85 percent of these emissions. The remaining share of emissions results from domestic activities, such as recreational boating, and movement of goods within a country’s own borders.[5]



  8. grayslady

    Thanks for the articles on personal spyware and browser phishing. (I just changed my Firefox settings per the recommendation.) It’s difficult to keep up with all the security threats these days.

    1. oho

      if you want to go above and beyond the norm, (and don’t mind an occasional hassle in exchange for added security)….

      get the “NoScript” extension, or

      the “Quick Java” extension, which gives you easy access to an on/off toggle for javascript/flash/java/silverlight.

      1. grayslady

        Yes. I added a javascript toggle awhile ago. Love it! The NoScript add-on was a bit more complex than I wanted. Never realized how many site specific pop-ups were written in javascript.

    2. montanamaven

      Me too! Changed some setting from false to true. I hope I did it right as I’m not too savvy about this stuff.

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    You got to hand it to Team Blue types, not only do they want the most reliable Republican voters (moderate suburban republicans or the white flight types), the are pursuing a declining demographic.

      1. different clue

        It demonstrates their ill-hidden desperation to delay a Berniecratic takeover for a few more years.

  10. Vatch

    It’s almost like the people really standing in the way [of Medicare for all] are a tiny faction of elite Democrats….

    I don’t understand. Is this sarcasm? The numbers clearly show that Democrats strongly favor it, and that Republicans are slightly in favor of it. In other words, most opponents are Republicans, and they control the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Executive branch, the Supreme Court, and the majority of state legislatures. What am I missing?

    1. sleepy

      You are missing Schumer, Pelosi, Clinton, Feinstein, etc., all of whom are opposed to single payer and who constitute the dem elite. .

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      You are missing the “tiny faction of elite Democrats” part, Vatch.

      Because, recall, although the Democrat voters might be all in for Medicare For All, The Queen of the Night and the rest of the “tiny faction of Elite Democrats” make their money from giving hand-jobs to their owners, and not the voters, who will unsurprisingly never, ever get access to a single-payer system that would fail to continually replenish the coffers of the “tiny faction of Elite Democrats” .

      It’s quite simple, actually; merely distinguish the self-dealing of the gatekeepers at the top of the party from the best interests of the mopes in the veal pen. “But, but, they keep saying that they’re fighting for us!”

      It’s kayfabe, suckers. Catch a clue sometime.

    3. Jeff W

      Almost always, whenever lambert writes something like “it’s almost like…” or “it’s almost as if…” he is being ironic, The translation is something like “It’s blindingly obvious that…”

      Some of the prominent Democrats say they are “for” single payer (Nancy Pelosi: “I supported single payer since before you were born,” town hall in San Francisco, 25 March 2017) but they will not actually do anything to bring single payer closer to fruition (e.g., co-sponsor Rep. John Conyer’s H.R. 676 [Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act] or legislation like the forthcoming bill in the Senate by Sen. Bernie Sanders). Others, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, are merely incoherent.

      1. different clue

        There should be an easy-to-say word for that kind of support. Since “faux” means “false or fake” and “faux” is easy to say, grafting “faux” onto the front of “support” should also be easy to say.

        Pelosi faux-supports Single Payer.

    4. Vatch

      Thanks for your responses. Yes, I agree that Pelosi, Schumer, et al are hypocritical phonies, and they are opposed to single payer health coverage. Their opposition was crucial in 2009-1010, but in recent years, and especially in the current Congress, they are close to being completely irrelevant. The significant opponents to single payer health coverage are currently all Republicans.

        1. Vatch

          Yes, of course we do. The people standing in the way of Medicare for all are a tiny faction of elite Democrats plus almost all of the Republicans in the Congress.

  11. Deschain

    As with many other things, if you get your information on gaming from the MSM you’re going to be missing a whole lot. I haven’t played NitW but it has gotten a lot of positive buzz in the gaming community.

    If you have 4 hours to kill sometime and you want a really interesting, thought-provoking experience, I highly recommend “Inside” by Playdead. It’s very non-gamer friendly and you can download it on your PC. try something new!

  12. McWatt

    Advancing money to musicians is a record company scam. In the old days the record company would tout the band’s advance in industry advertising. A $500,000.00 advance was not uncommon. The record company would then spend the bands “advance” on recording sessions with kickbacks, instrument rentals for recording with kick backs, advertising with kickbacks, photo shoots etc. etc. the band members themselves saw very little cash.

    37 years after the band that I was involved in received their advance they only still owe $426,000.00 .

    It’s serfdom in a nut shell.

  13. doug

    ‘released buggy software into his cars?’

    News flash: ALL software is buggy until it is discarded. But you know that, or should….

    1. JustAnObserver

      True but there’s a fundamental difference between buggy IoS hairbrush software and an airliner’s flight controls … to take two cases at the extreme ends of the consequences spectrum.

  14. LT


    “The problem with connecting everyone on the planet is that a lot of people are assholes. The issue with giving just anyone the ability to live broadcast to a billion people is that someone will use it to shoot up a school. You have to plan for these things. You have to build for the reality we live in, not the one we hope to create.”
    And the reality we live in is that corporations aren’t here to “give” you anything. Facebook, like any traded company, is about meeting that short term, quarterly profit number for their financial sector overlords. The article is totally on point about Facebook not building for the reality we live in, but do-gooder corporations are also a false reality in the socio-economic system we live in, not the one we hope to create.

    1. LT

      Just another note:
      Hypothetically, if this week’s shooter had made targets of upscale Bay Area residents, then maybe Zuckerberg’s speech to his minions may have had the sense of urgency and alarm that some expected.
      But as long as they can view the worse effects of their designs as only affecting people outside their bubble, they will be as blind to it as their sense of entitlement permits.

  15. dcblogger

    What Cook and the rest of Versailles ignore is that lefty activists who criticize the hands off strategy are the very activists who donated money, publicized James Thompson’s campaign, and got it within striking distance of winning. And if the best strategy for DCCC is to do nothing, well why does anyone donate $ to them?

    1. mle detroit

      Certainly not on the basis of the latest mailer, which asked me for money before asking me to rank order their list of vague and vacuous “priorities.”

    2. different clue

      To make sure that nothing gets done by making sure that “something” is prevented from getting done.
      Every single time.

  16. allan

    Tesla Workers File Charges With National Labor Board as Battle With Elon Musk Intensifies [David Dayen]

    Workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California electric car factory have filed a unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the company of illegal surveillance, coercion, intimidation and prevention of worker communications. The employees, who have been attempting to organize the approximately 7,000 workers at the plant through the United Auto Workers, claim that Tesla violated multiple sections of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right to unionize. …

    Employees also object in the complaint to a confidentiality agreement presented last November, which vowed consequences (including “loss of employment” and “possible criminal prosecution”) for speaking publicly or to the media regarding “everything that you work on, learn about or observe in your work about Tesla” – including wages and working conditions. Confidentiality agreements are common in auto factories to protect trade secrets, but Tesla’s was so far-reaching that five members of the California legislature wrote to the company, warning that the agreement violated protected employee activity. …

    Sounds legit.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Are humans so exceptional that it doesn’t work some other way around – young turnip blood makes old humans smarter?

    1. Huey Long

      So Elon Musk, hero to many a smug surbanite Clintonista, is turning out to be just another modern day re-incarnation of a 19th century robber baron?


      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Together with Bezos, Zuckerberg, Kalanick and all the rest of them.
        Used to be we knew what to do with monopolists, and we even had a president (T. Roosevelt) who led the charge against them.
        Nowadays we lionize them and pretend they’re really cool and smart and lucky.

        1. Huey Long

          Nowadays we lionize them and pretend they’re really cool and smart and lucky.

          I don’t think we pretend they’re lucky (they are of course), but rather we pretend that they’re the virtuous, deserving, scions of our “meritocracy” who got to where they are via hard work and education.

          How many aspiring young STEM students are being told by parents and teachers that if they only study hard enough and hustle they too can become filthy rich and successful like the great Elon Musk I wonder?

          P.S. Mods, 100% of my comments seem to be ending up in the moderation queue. Is there any way you can change this? I’d appreciate it greatly.

  17. LT

    Re: Climbing out of Facebooks Reality Hole
    “The problem with connecting everyone on the planet is that a lot of people are assholes…You have to build for the reality we live in, not the one we hope to create.”

    And the reality we live in is that corporations like Facebook are about meeting the short-ter, quarterly profit numbers for their financial sector overlords. The article is totally on point about Facebook not building for the reality we live in, but “do-gooder” corporations are also a false reality in the socio-economic system we live in, not the one we hope to create.

    Hypothetically, if this week’s shooter had made targets of upscale Bay Area residents, Zuckerbergs speech to his minions may have taken the tone and urgency that the many expected. But none of these failings are ever going to be seen as a problem as long as the ill effects are concentrated in areas outside their bubble and imaginary civilization.

  18. timbers

    “[Feinstein] heard loud boos when she said she was ‘not there’ on supporting complete single payer healthcare and didn’t oppose Trump’s missile strikes on Syria. During the very first question, one man stood up and shouted at Feinstein while the crowd yelled back and forth. Later on, a barking dog joined in the cacophony” [Santa Cruz Sentinel].

    If only the establishment Dems like Feinstein would listen to the barking dogs (because they won’t listen to people), we might get single payer healthcare and less wars.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Three parties.

      The elephant party.

      The donkey party.

      And now, the barking dog party.

  19. TK421

    A top Clinton aide believes Democrats’ best hope still lies with wealthy suburbanites

    Oh yeah, there’s sooo many of those. They’re like 70% of the country! That’s the wave they’ll ride back to relevance!

    1. Huey Long

      It seems to me that the Democrat Party was hijacked by the exiled Rockefeller Republicans, the GOP’s been hi-jacked by the Goldwater-Reagan crowd, and the unwashed masses are being prevented from organizing politically via:

      1. Taxes on time (Obama care)
      2. Drugs (Purdue pharma)
      3. The Police/Prison Industrial Complex
      4. Job Crapification (Hard to organize when working 2+ crappy jobs)
      5. Austerity (hard to organize when starving/homeless/sick)

      Yup, the New Deal coalition is dead folks.

      1. Montanamaven

        I wrote a piece back in 2004 called “Hey, Get Your Own Party”. I theorized that the Rockefeller Republicans that I grew up with in Illinois in the 1950s had slowly but surely taken over the Democrat Party. They didn’t do it deliberately. They drifted over to the Democrats, as you say, because they were repulsed by the more bigoted and crude Reagan crowd. But they took it over none the less. At the same time the opportunistic Democratlic politicians like Clinton and Gore saw that they could actually make some money, big bucks, by catering to these rich “folks”. And so the end of “The New Deal”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Keep tilting at the ‘Unity’ windmill.

      “That’s a barking dog and donkey show.”

    3. Jim Haygood

      I see a convoy of Expeditions and Range Rovers with soccer club decals, taking their vital “suburban soul” message cross-country to the streets of DC!

  20. charles leseau

    “The Monster at ‘the End of Capitalism’” [Medium]. Actually a game review. I’d be interested in reactions from readers who play online games; that is a generational difference!

    I haven’t played this game, but looked into it from your post and am thinking of picking it up. I went over to the Steam page for it and looked through the discussions. It seems to be a big hit with its audience as a sympathetic story and character study that discusses the soulless crush of modern life and society for many.

    There are surprisingly few inflammatory right wing posts about it. They typically infect game forums like a plague, especially when there’s anything either “SJW” or (even mildly) critical of capitalism in a game, but they do tend to pour their attention more into AAA games than indie titles, so…


    Anyway, this was an interesting discussion thread, asking people how old they are and what they like about the game. Mostly it’s teens and twenty-somethings, including many who dropped out of college.

    Amidst this sea of youth, there’s a surprising post on page 6 of the thread by a 54-year-old man. A partial quote:

    ANIW is the only game, maybe ever, during which I stopped and cried, like I did with two novels I read last year. ANIW engaged my desire to lose myself in a twitcher (Demon Tower), it caught me up emotionally, and perhaps most importantly I found myself thinking more carefully about my real life. The well-thought out connections made between class, jobs, material goods, housing, education and personal depression surprised me. I was not expecting a sophisticated take on the relationship of our material world to depression, political depression, etc.

    1. Plenue

      I’m skeptical. The review makes it sound like the game throws all the people in the Rust Belt who have lost their manufacturing jobs under the bus. Vilifying them as resorting to hate and cruelty (which is obviously an allegory for voting for Trump).

      Also, Strether, minor correction. From the sounds of it this isn’t an online game; it’s a single-player game. Just one player and the story. An online game would be something that, well, involved online interaction between multiple real humans.

      As for a generational difference, I’m not so sure. And not just the 54 year old reviewer referenced above. From my anecdotal experience, I see a large number of players in online games with years in their user names that I assume are when they were born. There seem to be plenty of people who are older than the 18-34 demographic developers usually target.

      Makes me wonder if other new medias had generational divides. Were there lots of old people who couldn’t understand the appeal of those newfangled moving pictures?

      1. charles leseau

        I had the day off, so went ahead and bought it. I’m about 4 hours in, including breaks here and there while leaving the game running.

        It’s hard even to call it a game. There are a few puzzles and minigames, but mostly it’s an interactive story and dialog experience where your character goes through everyday life with little breaks for sleep cycles in between each episode, and where sections of the town open up as it goes along.

        I’m not sure about the Trump allegory yet. It’s not a cleanly political tale. Its setting and a big part of its theme so far is the dilapidation of modern small town America and its effects on the lives and attitudes of the characters though. One thing it does really well is capture the sunny views of the economy shown by TV and news pundits while these ordinary working class people are tired and dogging it in the real world and watching everything around them fall apart. There are a few moments where it shows the breezy “how’s it goin?…oh, doing great” affectation that Americans push in casual conversation while their lives are actually pretty miserable. And there’s lots of humor. I guess I haven’t reached a point yet like the 54-year-old where I’m ready to cry about anything, but the undercurrent is depressing for sure even with the overall humorous element.

        I remember an art history professor in college saying to me that he felt Art Spiegelman’s Maus books trivialized the Holocaust. I didn’t push for a full explanation from him, but I figure it was related to either the anthropomorphized cat & mouse metaphor of the Nazis and their victims or the graphic novel (AKA wordy comic book) format, or both. This game reminds me of that problem a bit – that the medium is to some extent inconsistent with the pathos that such a subject might demand. OTOH, maybe it’s more effective for a certain audience; I don’t know.

        As for a generational difference, I’m not so sure. And not just the 54 year old reviewer referenced above. From my anecdotal experience, I see a large number of players in online games with years in their user names that I assume are when they were born. There seem to be plenty of people who are older than the 18-34 demographic developers usually target.

        For games in general, I agree. Certainly, some genres of gaming are stuffed full of oldsters (e.g. flight sims I feel pretty certain are dominated by middle aged players). The various gaming forums I’ve seen have had plenty of people between gen X and Boomer age groups too. This game, though, really does have a target demographic consistent with the player character of around 20.

  21. mle detroit

    Has anybody read Elizabeth Warren’s new book, “This Fight is Our Fight”?
    Does it contain specific goals and targets? Does it propose a strategy and tactics? Although I’m all in favor of barking dogs, I’m still waiting for something more than “resistance.”

  22. allan

    Theranos Inc. investors accused the company of threatening to file for bankruptcy protection if they don’t agree to give up their rights to sue the firm over its flawed blood-testing business.

    Officials of Partner Investments LP and two other funds, which invested more than $96 million in Theranos preferred shares, said a lawyer representing the privately held medical-testing company suggested it would seek Chapter 11 protection if the investors won’t abandon their lawsuit and accept more equity instead. …

    Surely if Mad Dog were still on the board he would never put up with this outrageous behavior … oh, never mind:

    …Theranos officials first talked to investors about the offer to give preferred shares to investors who pledge not to sue over the testing scandals in September 2016, the funds suing in Delaware said. …

    Theranos Investors Say They Were Pressured to Abandon Lawsuit [Bloomberg]

    1. polecat

      well … at least fungi can be seen as beneficial …..

      phony demonrat idpol, not so much !

  23. Aron Blue

    While I agree with McWatt that the old advance system as conducted by the labels was an effective way to put musicians into indentured servitude, I’m cautiously optimistic about the Lyric Financial and TuneCore partnership. Here’s why.

    (1) Advance amounts are based on previous sales. So, unless a musician decides to release a second record of whale sounds after a first release of some moderately successful pop tunes, there is clear and fair expectation of ability to pay back.

    (2) Independent musicians often have a profoundly difficult time qualifying for traditional loans. Our income streams are sporadic, relatively meagre, and often cash based. (Why am I doing this to myself as a career? Digression.)

    (3) A 3-5% rate is very competitive.

    (4) Unlike the traditional record label advance system that McWatt so accurately vilifies, there are no strings on the money. You don’t have to spend it within the label’s “company store” structure of studios and equipment rental houses. This allows the musician to shop around for the best deals and use any advance in the most cost-effective way possible.

  24. fresno dan

    Nothing about the end of Bill O’Reilly???


    It strikes me the other media had had enough of FOX, and they saw an opportunity to stick it to Fox and friends and took it. GOOD. Its time the media started reporting the flaws, foibles, omissions of their competitors instead of extending “professional courtesy to their “colleagues.” I hope, but I doubt that there will be more and more riffs, instead of just the tired, and lame, and FAKE conservative/liberal dichotomy …. but that will take some real knowledge, insight, and reporting instead of employing party hacks to “debate” contrived issues…

    Question to rile everyone up: If Megyn Kelly is such a wonderful and courageous reporter, and America is such a noble land of opportunity and so, so, SO just, where everyone gets WHAT THEY DESERVE, why didn’t she report sexual harassment years ago…..(because the money was too good OR maybe American’s legal system works well….only if your richer than who you are suing and Kelly knew that)?


    In the chapter (first released by Radar Online), Kelly claims that after months of harassment, the 76-year-old “crossed a new line” in January 2006 when he grabbed her and repeatedly tried to kiss her. Upon shoving him away, Kelly alleges Ailes asked her the “ominous question” of “When is your contract up?” before trying to kiss her for a third time.

    Ailes’ attorney Susan Estrich told PEOPLE in a statement: “Mr. Ailes denies her allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind.” The statement also referred back to Kelly’s words about Ailes on Charlie Rose: “I really care about Roger. And he has been NOTHING but good to me. And he’s been very loyal. And he’s had my back. And he’s LOOKED OUT for me.”
    Contradictory – no?
    To paraphrase a certain conservative: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good female reporters at FOX news to do nothing.

    1. LT

      You think it was the “media” that got rid of O’Reilly?
      After Ailes and then the NY Times story about Fox and O’Reilly settlements, it was about Newscorp/Fox saving their own butts and what it probably has done to overall “morale.”
      Anyone with a title of supervisor or higher is required to take Mandatory Sexual Harassment training every year or two at Newscorp/Fox. It’s mandatory and began way before even the Ailes situation. You can be reprimanded for even making jokes during the training.
      People at Newscorp/Fox have been let go due to infractions that barely register on the harassment richter scale compared to the threats posed to employees by O’Reilly and Ailes.
      So they couldn’t keep going to their other managers and VPs with a straight face when they expected them to sign off on all the mandatory Sexual Harassment Training they insist that the rest of the company take seriously.

      1. fresno dan

        April 19, 2017 at 6:53 pm

        “You think it was the “media” that got rid of O’Reilly?”
        No, not exclusively. But this sexual harassment has been going on …for at LEAST a decade, maybe two, and probably from DAY ONE. So….why didn’t all the rules kick in back than???? Probably because women complainants understand that they can be picked off if only one at a time. Once there is a history, and that history becomes public, and the women are fighting alone……

        I said, “It strikes me the other media had had enough of FOX, and they saw an opportunity to stick it to Fox and friends and took it.” In the past, it struck me the things that happened at FOX were ignored by the rest of the media – which I think was do to the fact that the MSM did not want to antagonize potential viewers and thought that a fight with FOX would only benefit Fox. But considering how this got out in the open….and ADVERTISERS decided to bail on FOX – hard to say publicity had NOTHING to do with it…

        The Murdolch’s are first, second, and always about the money. The fines paid by FOX I doubt are 1/100 of 1% of a month’s revenue of FOX – but now, it was gonna cost them more…..so bye-bye Bill O….

    2. LT

      And the reason I’m skeptical about the “media” doing away with O’Reilly is because he’s the type of swine that will pop up soon enough on some other media outlet.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        So can we collectively make odds on where O’Reilly ends up?

        -employed by Liberty University (I know he’s Catholic, but they are hiring Baylor people)
        -Bill Maher guest appearance.
        -replacement for Glenn Beck on Sam Bee’s show when she realizes O’Reilly hates bussing too.
        -the Catholic League (this is the one; he can remain a pig and rehabilitate or hide behind religion)
        -podcasts favored by engineers and dentists.

    3. allan

      Fox exec fired over alleged sexual chats didn’t get fat exit package like Ailes’ due to anti-Semitism: lawsuit [NYDN]

      An executive vice president at Fox fired over inappropriate conversations with female subordinates says he wasn’t given a generous exit package like Roger Ailes due to anti-Semitism at the network.

      Cliff Pozner, whose salary was $584,000 per year when he was terminated on Sept. 10, 2016, says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court that three women accused him of “ribald conversations,” which he denied.

      But instead of the network making secret settlements with the accusers — like they did for ousted host Bill O’Reilly and ex-CEO Ailes — Pozner was fired.

      “Start with Ailes, O’Reilly, a number of other executives, all non-Jewish, whom they paid millions in settlements,” said Pozner’s attorney, Neal Brickman. “What’s the reason for the disparate treatment?” …

      Discovery would be fun if it ever happens. Which it won’t.

  25. LT

    UC Berkeley just cancelled Ann Coulter’s appearance due to fears of violence.

    The Berkeley student Republicans are just running game on the hysterical left at this point.

  26. allan

    Bose headphones spy on listeners: lawsuit [Reuters]

    Bose Corp spies on its wireless headphone customers by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling the information without permission, a lawsuit charged.

    The complaint filed on Tuesday by Kyle Zak in federal court in Chicago seeks an injunction to stop Bose’s “wholesale disregard” for the privacy of customers who download its free Bose Connect app from Apple Inc or Google Play stores to their smartphones. …

    Free app is just another word for no privacy left to lose.

  27. John k

    … should get behind a policy proposal voters could support.
    No, no, no. That would mean going against some of their donors. And reducing the money flow.
    What if they picked just one policy? Keep money flowing from banks, chemicals, fossil, and MIC? Just go for single payer and give up on insurance pharma money?
    No, they need it all. Big mortgage, private schools, the boat, Paris (the real one, not vegas), and might have to cut back on the nest egg for the platinum years…
    And think of Pelosi and schumer. They have to raise big bucks to help out their colleagues… otherwise how would they get the votes that keep them on top of their (dwindling) corrupt party?
    Cannot be reformed, no matter if a few are feeling the heat and suddenly are for 676, knowing never, ever.

    If Bernie wants to push the policies he talks about he has to go third party, otherwise all his popularity won’t amount to a tinker’s dam.

  28. Kim Kaufman

    Has anyone posted about this here?

    The Moscow Project
    “Investigating the extent, nature, and purpose of Trump’s ties to the Kremlin.”

    According to Stephen Cohen (who I am listening to now on Coast to Coast), Hillary is planning on running again. She cannot admit she was a sh***y candidate and is doubling down on proving that Trump/Putin stole the presidency from her. She will not let this die.

    RELEASE: CAP Action Releases The Moscow Project, A Central Hub for the Trump-Russia Investigation

  29. Oregoncharles

    “what happens when Facebook shuts down independent voices as Google’s YouTube is?”

    This has been an obvious danger for some time. They’re giant corporations, with no reason to be supportive of left-wing or even just independent media.

  30. Musicismath

    Katie Halper’s letter to Susan Bordo in Paste Magazine is a pretty righteous piece of fisking. And it also gets to the heart of what’s wrong with a lot of liberal political argument in this current moment: it’s too often a bundle of personal memories, biases, and associations projected narcissistically onto politics. Sanders, to Bordo, “represents” the spectre of sexist leftist men from her ’60s past. But that’s not what he actually *is*. It’s time to call out this slippage from the personal into the political for what it really is: projection, not analysis or argument.

  31. UserFriendly

    I found the Oddest thing in USA Facts,.they have a section on Driver’s License

    Excell image of data

    # of licenses increased by 1.49% per year 1980-1990
    ” ” ” ” ” ” 1.41% ” ” ” 1990-2000
    1.04% /yr 2000 -2005
    0.95% /yr 2005 -2010
    0.84% /yr 2010 -2011
    -0.03% /yr 2011 -2012
    0.16% /yr 2012 -2013
    0.91% /yr 2013 -2014

    WTF happened to new drivers 2011-2013? Delay from recession?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      -families without a spare vehicle: cash for clunkers arguably pulled new car purchasing forward a bit but destroyed a teen’s vehicle in the longer term
      -long term effects of helicopter parenting; many kids are simply driven
      -disgust at driving whether preferring walkable communities over recent years and life in suburbia.
      -social media and cell phone ubiquity. It’s easier to bum for rides.

      Is that the bustlet in the population? It didn’t get the press of the BabyBoom, but the population turning 18 around 2003 to 2010 was large. It was key to fueling Dem wins in 2006 and 2008. Dems then decided they would prefer the mythological soccer mom’s and lose elections. I don’t think the age 18 population picks up until about now.

  32. allan

    Please don’t hold it in – let us know what you really think, Reuters:

    Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left tax-and-spend candidate in France’s presidential election, has surged in opinion polls before Sunday’s first round vote …

    No journalist has ever been fired for labeling someone left of Third Way as far-left.

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