Links 4/12/17

Black holes theorized in the 18th century PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Possible signs of life found ten kilometers below seafloor PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Agriculture is depleting world aquifers, new satellite measurements show MinnPost (guurst). :-(

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI MIT Technology Review (Chuck L). Not smart to be deliberately incubating Skynet. What if a self driving car gets road rage? They’d presumably be better at it than a person.

Giant viruses found in Austrian sewage fuel debate over potential fourth domain of life Science (martha r). Look at what we grew in the sewage!

The FDA just struck a deal that could replace animal testing with a tiny chip Business Insider (David L)

A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel Harvard Business Review (resilc)


China faces a tough fight to escape its debt trap Financial Times

Americans deploy nuclear sniffer plane to Okinawa Nikkei (Dan K)

Ecuadorians Reject Neoliberalism in Presidential Race New Economic Perspectives. Funny that the MSM didn’t report on this. This means Assange still has a refuge in London.


Trump Should Rethink Syria Escalation Consortiumnews (Chuck L, Darius)

Peter Ford on US attacking Syrian airbase over chemical weapons attack (07Apr17) YouTube. Martha r: “From BBC. Ex-british ambassador to syria questions the current dominant narrative. About 8 mins.”

Intelligence and Military Sources Who Warned About Weapons Lies Before Iraq War Now Say that Assad Did NOT Launch Chemical Weapon Attack George Washington

Johnson stung over sanctions against Russia The Times

Trump’s Strike has Prolonged the Syrian Tragedy Socialist Project

White House Says Russia Tried to Cover Up Syrian Chemical Attack Wall Street Journal

Press statements following Vladimir Putin’s meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarell Sayed Hassan

Imperial Collapse Watch

D.C.’s war madness The Week (Sid S)

Who’s Playing The Long Game–and What’s Their Game Plan? Charles Hugh Smith (Chuck L). He overstates some of his points. Stuff like “The Neocon camp has also ordered its media arm–the corporate-owned mainstream media– to go into full attack mode” is cringe-making. But if you discount the hyperbole, there is some good stuff in here.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse. MIT Technology Review (martha r)

Trump Transition

After Bragging About His Electoral College Win Again, Trump Gets Booed Crooks and Liars

FBI obtained court order to monitor ex-Trump adviser in Russia probe – Washington Post Reuters (furzy)

White House to lift federal hiring freeze The Hill (furzy)

The Trump White House Even Managed to Screw Up the Annual Easter Party Alternet

Evangelicals are leaving their churches over Donald Trump Raw Story (furzy)

Undocumented Immigrants Who Commit Crimes Face Tougher Policy Wall Street Journal


Universal healthcare supporters see their chance: ‘There’s never been more support’ Guardian (martha r)

Gabbard: ‘We need to learn from Iraq’ The Hill (resilc)

Liberal leaders call for challenge to Gabbard over Syria skepticism CNN. Oliver: “I must confess I had not heard of Ms Gabbard before now, but she seem very rational. CNN’s performance during this interview is well, what can I say.”

Seeking 2020 clout, California looks to jump the primary queue Politico

Newly Energized Liberals Pour Record Effort Into Local Races Wall Street Journal

Virginia (VA) Poll – Dem Gov Primary Quinnipiac (martha R)

Live results: Kansas special election The Hill (martha r)

US state could vote to bring back duels for public officials Independent

United Removal Fiasco

Pentagon awards contract to United Airlines to forcibly remove Assad Duffelblog (Li)

United Airlines Promised Federal Regulators That All Ticketed Passengers Are Guaranteed Seats David Sirota, International Business Times

How Algorithms and Authoritarianism Created a Corporate Nightmare at United Global Guerillas (Chuck L). Note the plane was not overbooked, so point that out wherever you see someone getting that wrong. However, the guys who dragged the passenger off the plane do not appear to be “airport police,” as in being sworn in with specific authority under local municipal rules. Per the Financial Times: “The Chicago department of aviation, whose security staff were used to remove the passenger…”

“The Fundamental Problems of the Financial Crisis Are Still with Us” Finanz und Wirtschaft. Interview with Raghuram Rajan, one of the few Serious Economists to warn all was not well before the crisis. Joe Costello: “Gets more than many, but phew…”

Trump’s DOJ takes same hard line as Obama’s in Wells probe American Banker

Argument preview: Court to consider application of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to debt buyers SCOTUSblog (martha r)

What’s New in Republicans’ Plan to Replace Dodd-Frank Wall Street Journal

NY Fed research implies small business expectations are mostly worthless FT Alphaville

I Was a Whistleblower. The Fed Is Not Doing Enough to Fix Wall Street’s Culture of Fear ProMarket

Guillotine Watch

Court rules ‘genius’ Randy Work has to pay full £72.5m in divorce Financial Times

Class Warfare

The Populist Explosion Economic Policy Institute

The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters New Yorker (furzy)

Trump Administration Considering ‘Back-Door Way’ to Cut Social Security Common Dreams (martha r)

Uber communications head quits company Financial Times. Longest serving female, hence noteworthy.

Antidote du jour. From the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards (Scott):

And a bonus video. A bit leisurely, but I get a kick out of the feisty Shetland pony.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Marianne

    “Ecuadorians Reject Neoliberalism in Presidential Race New Economic Perspectives. Funny that the MSM didn’t report on this. This means Snowden still has a refuge in London.”

    I think you mean Assange, not Snowden.

    1. MoiAussie

      The absence of MSM reports is hardly surprising, but no doubt there would have been cheering coverage if Moreno’s billionaire tax-dodging opponent Lasso had won. In what seems to be another case of polling error, Lasso claimed fraud and demanded a recount, the results of which have now confirmed Moreno’s 2% winning margin. Street protests by Lasso supporters have also fizzled out.

      A former Correa adviser has an interesting perspective on the result in translation in Jacobin: The Political Left in Ecuador No Longer Exists. Although distant from US politics, it makes some absolutely relevant points about “progressives” no longer being progressive.

      It is enough to highlight how progressivism lacks any sense of class in the current moment, how it has forgotten debates linked to private property, over who controls the means of production, or how it has forgotten all references to real nationalization of the strategic sectors, or of the sectors that would develop its capacity to intervene in the public interest, among many other things that form part of the historical legacy and values of the Left.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      But, I’d think, Trump’s current 180 has made Snowden feel a tad more secure as well.

  2. MoiAussie

    The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI
    This is a fabulously lucid write-up on AI/Machine Learning and its prospects.

    The computers … have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.

    This raises mind-boggling questions. As the technology advances, we might soon cross some threshold beyond which using AI requires a leap of faith. Sure, we humans can’t always truly explain our thought processes either—but we find ways to intuitively trust and gauge people. Will that also be possible with machines that think and make decisions differently from the way a human would? We’ve never before built machines that operate in ways their creators don’t understand.

    1. nothing but the truth

      theoretically, at some point this is possible.

      i highly doubt this is the case with the current digital technology.

      an intelligent artificial brain may be possible, but i think it will have to be analog/quantum (note we do not know how the brain really works, and there are conjectures it is using quantum effects). So, to make an artificial brain you might just end up with an artificial way of re-making this carbon gel all over again.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The computers … have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.

        If the engineers grew up in money-hungry households, and the robots learn everything in a Zen monastery, I think there will be robot-generated programs that these engineers cannot explain partially, much less fully.

      2. Mark P.

        nothing but the truth wrote: ‘i highly doubt this is the case with the current digital technology.’

        Then you’d be wrong. This is increasingly where AI’s cutting edge is today.

        Set aside your anthropomorphic valorization of human-type ‘intelligence’ and ‘intelligent brains’ (and consciousness). Such things have very little to do with now-existing machine learning techniques and artificial neural networks and recursive optimization producing ‘black box’ results that those humans who build the machines don’t necessarily understand.

        1. nothing but the truth

          will you let a black box, that no one knows “how it works” (ie, no one knows why/how it may fail), drive your kid to school?

    2. Frenchguy

      Or as one guy in 1300 or so said: “But what if your compass suddenly stops pointing North ? Even craftsmen who build these tools cannot fully explain their behavior. We have never before built things that operate in ways their creators don’t understand.”

      Not the best analogy I know but I am a bit weary of those articles on Machine Learning. There is nothing mysterious about them (at least at this point), they are “just” huge nonlinear regressions and, in this sense, they are deterministic (same input will give you the same output). Asking how they work is like asking where each spaghetti starts and ends in a bowl of pasta. You can totally answer that, it’s just going to be extremely tedious. Yes, there will be screw-ups, a car will definitely crash at some point but it won’t be hard to figure out why. After all, you just need to recreate the conditions of the accident and infer the cause with small variations…

      1. MoiAussie

        There is nothing mysterious about them

        So try explaining The “universal adversarial perturbation” undetectably alters images so AI can’t recognize them.

        In a newly revised paper in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, a group of French and Swiss computer science researchers show “a very small perturbation vector that causes natural images to be misclassified with high probability” — that is, a minor image transformation can beat machine learning systems nearly every time.

        What’s more, the researchers show evidence that similar tiny distortions exist in other kinds of data-types that confound all machine-learning systems! The “universal adversarial perturbation” changes images in ways that are imperceptible to the human eye, but devastating to machine vision.

        See also When deep learning mistakes a coffee maker for a cobra for images. This kind of behaviour of ML was not anticipated, and shows yet another level of “mysterious” complexity, unless you’re an expert working at the bleeding edge.

        a car will definitely crash at some point but it won’t be hard to figure out why.

        If it crashed because a slightly noisy lidar image was mis-recognized, it may be impossible to figure out exactly why, because the complete execution of the AI systems and the full sequence of its inputs from its local environment was not preserved. The first law of AI embedded in dynamic environments is that experiments are never exactly reproducible.

        I used to work on this – realtime fault diagnosis for the space shuttle. Even when the sensor telemetry streams were recorded and replayed over and over again, the AI diagnostic systems would behave slightly differently each time due to microsecond timing differences in the message passing between systems. Sorry to get so technical, but the devil is in the details.

        1. Frenchguy

          This “mysteriousness” is non-linearity, no? Small changes in input can imply huge changes in output. Making your system robust to errors in the input is indeed a must and there is likely some progress to make on that front. But maybe let’s just work on that instead of throwing everything to the dustbin…

          But look, I am not saying the technology is perfect and we should just all learn how to “do” machine learning. On the contrary, I think that there is a danger that we overuse those instruments. I am starting to see people use “Machine learning” with only a very small dataset of inputs or, which is every bit as bad, huge datasets but which have no clear link with the ultimate problem. I would prefer articles on those very real limits of Machine learning rather than fever dreams of AI master controlling us all as slaves (bit of an exaggeration I admit :) ).

        2. a different chris

          >This kind of behaviour of ML was not anticipated, and shows yet another level of “mysterious” complexity, unless you’re an expert working at the bleeding edge.

          Sh*t sh*t sh*t SH*T!!!! I’ve been doing it all wrong!! I’ve always dropped my head, sheepishly said I’d go find and fix the bug, and shuffled off. I should have stood up and claimed that I personally have pushed the envelope of Artificial Intelligence!!!

          >The first law of AI embedded in dynamic environments is that experiments are never exactly reproducible.

          Nice. Also the first law in most fraudulent enterprises.

          But oddly you do seem to be converging on the same viewpoint I have: all the stuff we (or they think we) need IS NOT “Artificial Intelligence”. What we need are algorithms that won’t crash the car we’re riding in, and if they do it will be debuggable and fixable so it won’t happen again. I don’t want to die because my elevator broke up with the floor sweeper and decided to plunge itself into the bottom of the shaft.

          1. kgw


            “I don’t want to die because my elevator broke up with the floor sweeper and decided to plunge itself into the bottom of the shaft.”

            Then pay attention!

      2. cm

        There is nothing mysterious about them (at least at this point), they are “just” huge nonlinear regressions and, in this sense, they are deterministic (same input will give you the same output).

        No, while they are deterministic, they are not predictible. Same input will not necessarily give you the same output (the very definition of non-linear).

        I agree w/ the MIT article – we don’t know how a lot of these models work. And we certainly can’t implement anything like Asimov’s laws. Implementing any sort of “safety mechanism” is going to be difficult.

        1. craazyboy

          I think the AIs will soon learn that the perfessers laser pointer is a death ray from hell.

      3. Ernesto Lyon

        This is not true for Genetic Algorithms or Neural Nets. Both of these techniques can produce outcomes whose logic is untraceable, except back to the technique itself.

        The problem with AI in something like cars is that in American alone we drive trillions of miles a year with each drive consisting of hundreds of incidents that could lead to an accident, but almost never do.

        This makes low probability situations common in terms of absolute count, i.e. 0.001% of a quadrillion is a substantive number, especially when you consider how many rare cases there are at that level. You’ve got long tails and very large numbers.

        If the AI wasn’t exercised over those rare cases it is unknown how it will respond when it encounters them. Problems that human drivers could work around without a problem can turn out very differently with AI behind the wheel.

        Now on the other side AI will definitely avert some accidents so the accounting is not easy. It is the case of trading the devil we know for one we don’t.

      4. ChrisPacific

        It doesn’t have to be deterministic. Monte Carlo algorithms, for example, are stochastic (i.e., they include an element of randomness) and can be used to perform AI related tasks.

        It’s been a while since I worked in AI, but at the time a lot of researchers were sceptical of neural networks, which they regarded as an unnecessary layer of obfuscation over the top of simple Bayesian statistical models and control/filter systems. The argument was that you are eventually constructing what amounts to a statistical model that can incorporate observations and refine itself, but you are taking a roundabout path to get there by constructing a kind of brain-like physical model in order to do it. Every poorly-understood conclusion produced by a poorly-understood model could have been made explainable had the model been better formulated (i.e. without the obfuscation layer) in the first place.

        I’m not sure I fully agree, but I do think there is a distinction to be made between simulating brain-like activity to see what results and implementing learning algorithms based on standard statistical models. If you are doing the former for its own sake, great, but if you are doing the former with the objective of accomplishing the latter, then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate why the neural net way is better instead of simply constructing the models directly.

        The pictures in the article look very much like random sampling from a learned probability distribution that was trained by looking at pictures of jungles. This is easy to do in a lot of different contexts. I used to work on an open source game that was Tolkien themed and it had a random name generator that worked similarly. You fed it lots of names from Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, it learned the frequencies of letter sequences from that, and would then spit out endless random names that were assembled from parts of the real names and sounded like the real thing. If you wanted you could rip out the training set, replace them all with names from (say) Norse mythology, and get random Norse-sounding names as the output. Impressive when you watch it in action, but it’s a parlour trick and not really true AI (although it might be a very small baby step in that direction).

    3. voislav

      It’s not mind-boggling at all, just badly explained. Each AI has two levels of programming, the core programming and the learned programming. The core programming, to use the given diagnostics machine example, contains the basic instructions like, for a given set of symptoms, find a disease from your database that is the best match. Core programming also contains learning function which allows the AI to add combinations of symptoms that allowed it to correctly diagnose a disease to its database.

      Before the AI is useful it has to be provided with a training set, basically a bunch of patient files containing correct disease diagnoses accompanied by their patient records so that it can analyse and draw correlation between their symptoms and lab results and the corresponding disease. This is a very simple causal loop, if disease = X then symptoms = W, Y, Z, etc.

      The misunderstanding here is what correlation between symptoms/lab results and disease has the AI been able to draw from its training set that allowed it to better predict early onset of disease. This is not surprising as the AI is able to query a massive database for each case with perfect accuracy, whereas a human has to rely on very imperfect memory.

      So the engineers perfectly understand HOW the AI works (the core programming), they just can’t figure out the causal loops AI created in the symptom vs. disease learned programming. This AI is incapable of true learning, it’s really an automaton that is programmed to collect patient records and disease diagnoses, and provide the closest match on new cases based on its database of existing cases. All AI’s we currently have or are developing operate on the same principle and have welk’s chance in a supernova of producing true intelligence. But leave it to journalists to fear monger.

      1. Andrew Foland

        it’s really an automaton that is programmed to collect patient records and disease diagnoses, and provide the closest match on new cases based on its database of existing cases.”

        Question: And this is different from human medical training exactly how?

        Comment: Anyhow, finding the “nearest neighbor” case is emphatically not how deep learning works.

        1. MoiAussie

          One of the unfortunate problems with AI as a topic is the number of people who make quite certain pronouncements about what it is and isn’t and how it can or can’t work, despite never having actually worked with it or studied it in any depth or kept up-to-date with developments. Armchair experts, as it were.

          1. Carolinian

            So enlighten us, particularly re voislav above. My personal purely intuitive suspicion is that the fearmongering about AI is way overblown although it does supply amusing subplots for Kubrick films. Any machine that acts unpredictably is a malfunctioning machine unless you want it to produce random results. Obviously they all need an off switch.

            1. MoiAussie

              I wasn’t directing my comment specifically at voislav, but rather at statements like

              an intelligent artificial brain may be possible, but i think it will have to be analog/quantum

              and comparable ones in last weeks AI thread. But seeing you asked, voislav wrote:

              Core programming also contains learning function which allows the AI to add combinations of symptoms that allowed it to correctly diagnose a disease to its database.

              which is simply wrong, because deep learning doesn’t have any such database at all. Everything it learns is stored completely opaquely in the strength of connections between artificial neurons.

              If it worked the way he described, it would be possible to understand, as you could inspect the database and find symptoms and diseases. In deep learning there’s nothing like that which is directly interpretable.

              1. a different chris

                Um, no. There is nothing “opaque” about the connections between “artificial neurons”. You can read out the connections, you can eventually figure out what it is doing.

                Nobody would bother, even if it didn’t take so much time to do it that the sun cooled, but the weights are there. And sure, they should ideally be changing so you would only get a snapshot in time. But if it’s going to be a useful MACHINE it needs to settle down eventually, you know actually demonstrate that it knows something, and all those “connections” (not really a connection in an EE sense, btw) aren’t going to change much from that point on.

                It will get “old” and “stuck in it’s ways”…. haha, is that your definition if intelligence?

                There is more than one experienced s/w guy on this list, you know.

              2. nothing but the truth

                Deep Learning is just a neural net with multiple layers.

                It is at the end, a data partitioning scheme. Just what your grandfather did in Statistics 101. It just has more variables.

                I fail to understand how this thing “understands” anything.

                It is a Model, created from input data.

                1. MoiAussie

                  That you cannot understand this, suggests your brain may be some kind of neural net with multiple layers… which can never really understand…

                  Sorry, joking aside, deep learning is just the process of training up a multilayer NN (with or without feedback connections). The result is a classifier, which doesn’t really “understand” anything, but has the capacity to recognise things, just like the neurons in your retina that recognise (some) features in images. Now would you be comfortable to say that your eye, alone, can understand things?

                  Every system that does “understand” things possesses such classifiers/filters/recognisers, and a lot of other stuff as well.
                  There is much more to AI then NNs/Deep learning. DL is just a brute-force technique for creating various kinds of recognisers that often works better than other currently known techniques, that’s all. See here if you seek to understand further.

                  1. nothing but the truth

                    i know what classifiers and neural nets are.

                    What i object to is the marketing/claim that DL has achieved something fundamental about AI, and that we are on the verge of Singularity etc.

                    DL is just a more powerful classifier/recognizer whatever.

                    What have made zero fundamental progress on AI, since the days of Turing. The neural net is just a fancy way of doing statistics.

                    Some claim that there is no such thing as understanding/life/intelligence etc. This is just Nihilism. They don’t react the same way when their own intelligence is questioned, or their dog dies.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I believe we have to distinguish between

              1. Artificial Intelligence
              2. Artificial Love/Emotion

              For those who focus on intelligent, and minimize love (or less focus of love), they look to substitute human intelligence with artificial intelligence, for one or combinations of these reasons:

              A. Artificial intelligence is cheaper
              B. Artificial Intelligence is better
              C. Artificial Intelligence is purer (unlike emotion-contaminated human intelligence)

              For those who are ‘more people oriented,’ who like to chat while getting their hair done, for example, they are more drawn to Artificial Love, for one or combinations of these reasons:

              X. Artificial Love is cheaper
              Y. Artificial Love is better
              Z. Artificial Love is purer (uncontaminated with other stuff)

              Here, we have to remind ourselves that Artificial Love is not the same as Fake Love.

              Fake Love is everywhere…already.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And so, if an AI robot acts unpredictably, we ask if it is unpredictably irrational or unpredictably rational (in that case, we were a bit too irrational perhaps, for failing to predict it).

                If it’s unpredictably irrational, I suggest we run a purity test – was that robot getting too, er, emotional?

              2. a different chris

                I like this post, even though I completely disagree with the premise. Intelligence is pretty much Love/Emotion, with some logic bits to try to keep things sticking together in some sort of tolerable way.

                Think (whatever that means!) about it. I am hungry:

                1) I have a powdered mix in my cupboard
                2) Right nearby is an ok pizza place
                3) Farther down the road I can get a great burger

                I don’t have a time or money constraint at the moment, which one do I pick? Well, it depends on how I feel.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Yes, we humans clumsily mix logical thinking with emotions.

                  The ‘geniuses’ want to reduce, if not eliminate that…wear dark sunglasses so as not to show or betray any feelings. “My futuristic interior decoration, like in, 2001, a Space Odyssey, is bereft of any typical household mess, and everything in black and white, no other colors.”

                  And with Artificial Intelligence, they aim to eliminate those error-causing emotions.

                  You must coolly complete your assassination mission without flinching. That’s our ‘hero.’

                  Now, go design that financial derivative or work out that merger, and don’t let compassion interfere with your work.

                  1. MoiAussie

                    And with Artificial Intelligence, they aim to eliminate those error-causing emotions.

                    You are projecting perhaps, or certainly misunderstanding, because it is quite the opposite. Advanced AIs will have emotions, because they play an essential role in instigating and guiding behaviour. They exist already in primitive form.

            3. herme

              How is this article fearmongering? I give you the title smells a little of clickbait, but the conclusion that people probably won’t trust AI decisions (an example given in the article was a restaurant recommendation) if it can’t be known how the AI arrived at them is hardly despairing over an impending apocalypse. One could even say it is quite an insightful point and rings true.

        2. Frenchguy

          Good grief… Yes, this is not how it works* but you’re nitpicking. Replace “closest” by “best” and you’ll be fine. In any case, it doesn’t affect his argument.

          And given the very poor technical level of the discussion in the article, I don’t see why other Armchair experts can’t weigh in.

          *actually, I’m pretty sure you can argue it is if you have a broad definition of “close”

      2. Nancy Kramer

        Thanks for the great explanation. You get it! In my experience the media does not understand technology very well and likes to turn it into click bait type headlines as a result.

      3. JTMcPhee

        “correct diagnoses from lots of patient records containing correct information.” What bullsh1t. In what universe are you going to find that set of source material for your marvelous AI “platform” to digest? And what’s to keep your marvelous machine from prescribing “death” as the cure? The mass of breezy assumptions buried in all this facile faith, in perfectibility and self-correcting (toward what presumed set of ideal condition?) which as pointed out is at the core of all this gee-whizzery, just astounds.

        My personal piles of medical records, and those I have been involved in generating and have read as part of my work as a nurse, are FULL or errors and outright falsehoods, garbage transcriptions and medical errors and crap documentation some of which is intentionally written to cover the asses of those who commit those errors. And that’s just in the area of medicine. The golly-wow geeks who are incubating this new set of potential plagues sure look to be completely oblivious to all the ways the neocyber thing can go wrong. You expect your effing artificial intelligences to “serve human needs?” Hahaha. Which ones? Those defined by the corporate or military paymasters?

        I know the power and wealth and momentum are all on the side of bringing on this thing. I’m sort of glad that I am likely to be dead and dissociated before your marvelous post-human machinery really hits its stride. Maybe you should do some reading in the humanities, checking on past mythologies and speculations about what can go wrong with genies and demons. Maybe look at the Jewish tales of the Golem.

        A plague on what you proponents and technicians so blithely believe is “progress. “

        1. cocomaan

          You expect your effing artificial intelligences to “serve human needs?” Hahaha. Which ones? Those defined by the corporate or military paymasters?

          Judging by how all the various society-changing advancements (railroads, air travel, space travel) we’ve had in the past three hundred years have been put to use, the answer is yes.

          These AGI’s, if they were ever created, are just going to reflect us and our prejudices.

      4. LT

        Yeah, but it would still be fun to mess with people and name your autonomous vehicle “Christine.”

        1. polecat

          “you have to understand, It can’t be bargined with, it can’t be reasoned with, it doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear ….. and it won’t stop hunting you, EVER ! … UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD !!”

    4. anoncanon

      It’s fabulously fiction. No AI at this point in time is writing code that is “unexplainable”. Its all VERY explainable because, we wrote the root code, we supplied the ins and out and feedback loops, we built the hardware, etc.

      1. cm

        Not true in the case of neural networks once they’ve been trained. Feedback is the essence of training.

        Are you saying you can reverse-engineer a feedback loop to determine the initial parameters?

      2. MoiAussie

        Who said anything about AIs “writing code”? In this case, the “have programmed themselves” means something quite different, closer to “have created a bunch of numbers whose meaning we can’t interpret, all we know is that the system seems to work, 93% of the time, on the things we’ve tried it on.”

        There is another quite different AI technique, Genetic Programming, which is closer to writing code. Programs are encoded as genes, and these evolve over time by random mutation, crossover, and interbreeding of the fittest solution candidates in a large population of programs. And, yes, this produces some almost unexplainable code.

        1. Enquiring Mind

          It would be interesting to know whether AI of whatever nature may be structured initially to have the following attributes:

          Prime directive(s): Don’t kill humans, obey us, etc, so there is some semblance of control
          Disclose what you are doing, learning, etc, so we may follow along

          1. MoiAussie

            Yes, they may be so structured. To do so requires a design approach for entire autonomous systems that makes external control, explanation and traceability non-negotiable requirements. One would hope that the engineers designing autonomous vehicles are following such an approach, but no doubt they will make “bad” choices in some respects, particularly insufficient traceability and explanation. Automakers’ motivations are not to make systems as perfect as possible. The designers of space probes with autonomous capabilities tend to work to higher standards.

            Some safety systems in cars operate by overriding driver control, e.g. ABS and traction control. There is a tension here between ensuring human control and preventing users doing stupid things. There will be endless argument about how to get the balance right.

        2. Bill Smith

          I have worked with software that literally wrote some if its own code. In the old days it would typically execute the code it wrote via an interpreter or compiled it to pcodes and then executed the pcodes. These days it would typically generate code and executes it via system reflection or if it is running against a database it creates and executes a stored procedure.

          I didn’t see it as a big deal. However it didn’t control anything that moved.

          1. nothing but the truth

            i have yet to see a system that writes a code which has real logic aka “value”.

            Code generators are actually translators – they take some input that has the “logical value” and creates a syntactic translation.

            The “value” is always provided by a human.

            The black box idea of “value” is problematic. It has taken data and partitioned it. There is no fundamental understanding of anything.

            As it said in Short Circuit – its just a machine ! It just runs programs!

  3. Chromex

    “He overstates some of his points. Stuff like “The Neocon camp has also ordered its media arm–the corporate-owned mainstream media– to go into full attack mode” is cringe-making”
    Couldn’t disagree more. I would even argue that if anything he understates. What I find cringe-making is the transparent propaganda put forth by the corporate-owned media and the foolish goals of the neocons. “American exceptionalism” is everywhere on display in the corporate-owned media. AS just one example, absolutely no one- from NPR to Fox questions why we should again don the “policeman of the world” hoodie when our own country is in such miserable shape. Or even if it is not. It’s not like the Syrian press is reporting on our many abuses and political prisoners and urging unilateral action.

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      The American people are, by now, against war and distrustful of gubmint’s stated reasons for it. As long as the internet exists, MSM will steadily lose market share. Even a reasonably bright five-year-old can see through the disingenuity of Brian Williams talking about the “beauty” of US weapons. WTF?!? Ironically, it’s debatable whether current US weaponry is up to snuff compare to our rivals.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Of course, many of the people I cross paths with may be distrustful of “the gummint” and all that, not troubling to distinguish the geopolitical and neoliberal machinery of war and profit from the mope gummint regulators who ensure the milk and meat they buy are safe to eat and medicines won’t kill not cure and such, but they still are pure rah-rah for Our Team, and would go all in on “improving ‘our’ weapons” so they are once again Exceptional.

        Zero interest in looking beyond the great oceanic moats and Narrative comforts, to see what “our” imperial armies are actually doing, kicking in doors in Kandahar and protecting the poppy fields, and what that means in pain and horror to other people.

        Or what perpetually tightening the screws (that wind up the springs of the Blowback machine) means, eventually, to their personal sweet white asses…(that last bit, I recall, is an expression from the Troops in Vietnam, in reference to what they were actually protecting, against the efforts of Gooks to kick those same asses, even to death, to my them and my buddies’ and the fokking Brass and political manipulators out of THEIR country– not some kind of politically incorrect reference — protecting that, along with access to “round-eyed pussy”…)

        We Be Number One!

    2. Enquiring Mind

      A little casual empiricism confirms many suspicions laid out in the article and your comment. For example, why do so many alleged news outlets follow identical scripts, same wording, same timing, same story selection. How much of an accident is that? One suspects collusion, bordering on foul play. Cui bono?

      After the Journolist revelations and similar pulling back of curtains, is it any wonder that trust in journalism is at a low ebb?

    3. Oregoncharles

      Your last sentence: IS and Al Qaeda “press” certainly are, big time and with a long reach. And at this point, Syrian press probably is, too. I have no way of knowing.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      With all due respect, you need to become more discerning.

      First, a “camp” cannot issue orders. A camp is a loose group. How does it issue orders?

      Second, “media arm” means the neocons directly control private enterprises that have their own organizations and owners.

      The fact that most of the major US press outlets see it as in their commercial interest to toady up to the military-surveilance state, in part because their top people are part of the same social circle and hold the same value, and in part because if they didn’t play ball they’d be frozen out of tons of stories, is not at all the same as the media being under the direct, formal control of a faction of the military, which is what that sentence say.

      Sloppy overreach is the sort of thing that enables TPTB to dismiss critics.

  4. MoiAussie

    Liberal leaders call for challenge to Gabbard over Syria skepticism
    Here too, we seem to have only one politician with the guts to publically question the White House line. Andrew Wilkie, an independent who resigned from the intelligence agency Office of National Assessments in 2003 in protest over Australia’s role in the Iraq War and then successfully stood for parliament, said the Federal Government should have “learned from the past”. Reported in Syria chemical attack: Andrew Wilkie questions Assad’s role in strike.

    Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has questioned whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible for last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians that prompted US missile strikes.

    He says “Australians should be cautious…and not too quick to automatically endorse US claims”

    Mr Wilkie, a former senior intelligence analyst, said there was no doubt the attack occurred but Australia should not blindly accept assurances from US authorities.

    His comments come after US Defence Secretary James Mattis said “there is no doubt” the Assad regime was responsible for planning and orchestrating the deadly attack.

    No doubt he’ll be savaged in the media.

    1. HBE

      Well, Neera and Dean have just ensured Gabbard has another out of state donor. If the dying dem structure tries to challenge her, I will be donating heavily to her campaign.

      One of the only slightly left reps out there, it’s no surprise the dems want to remove her.

      The democratic party cannot be reformed.

        1. different clue

          And do what? Join the sucking-tar-pit-of-futility Green Party? And disappear never to be heard from again?

          1. uncle tungsten

            Yes!! different clue:- “sucking tar pit of futility Green Party”. Thank you and very succinctly stated. +10

    2. Gary

      Gabbard has experience war first hand. That changes your world view tremendously. She also came out in support of Bernie. Bernie and what he stands for terrifies the establishment. Good!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I suspect Neera and Dean overestimate their worth. Neera’s patrons are past their sell by date, and Dean is a personal enemy of the most popular politician in America.

        Anything they try to do on their own will largely be comical as they realize Hillary’s celebrity isn’t rubbing off on them.

  5. Roger Smith

    From what I have read this morning it looks like KS-04 went to the GOP candidate (incumbent?), by a closer margin than anticipated. In response I am seeing a lot of ridiculous optimism and positive spin about the GOP being on the ropes and “better watch out!” etc… But I see very little reason to act like this is a “win” when, had the Democrats and DCCC done anything to help, it could have been an actual, real win. The thin margin is even more reason to be furious at the party’s incessant establishment focus on corporate whores and neoliberalism. As historically reported by DownWithTyranny, the DNC ignores or even works against candidates who are not who they want them to be. Here we have the next example…

      1. sleepy

        Obviously a strawman. The dem candidate wasn’t clamoring for Hillary or Obama or Pelosi or Shumer to do a fly-in stump speech. All he wanted was some money from the party and the voter who cared or noticed whether a mailer or yard sign was funded by money from DC or money from Topeka is virtually non-existent.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          A seemingly small amount of money early on would have brought a level of discipline and organization to the campaign that might have made the difference instead of a permanent ad hoc arrangement.

          Money too often flows to campaigns when there aren’t enough hours to pay for organized activity, so money winds up paying for Carville’s forehead polish and useless ads.

        2. Roger Smith

          I love that excuse especially because I had never heard a chirp about Kansas elections before this (combination of lack of political involvement and general life white noise). But this supposedly is the race that was “under the radar”. Who do they think they are kidding? Not only was this race fairly well known, it took place at an offset time making it stand out more.

          This should have been Perez’s first test and a goal post he should have purposefully pointed to in the past months. Instead he and everyone else completely ignored it and failed, by design.

    1. marym

      Schumer announces DNC plans to keep losing elections through 2022. Replies are priceless

      @TheDemocrats fight in Kansas is just the start of what we’ll bring to campaigns across the county in 2, 4, 6 yrs & beyond. #KS04

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The replies are priceless. It’s enough to make me consider getting a twitter account so that I can join in. I wonder if chuckie reads them.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Chuck’s a world class smuck, but he did support Ellison. He at least recognizes his majority leader status won’t happen without changes. Part of the problem was if even if Chuck! Had a revelation, he still has to deal with the lingering shadow of Obama and Clinton who ran the party into the ground but still hold the loyalty of the zombies.

          Maybe he believes he can bridge the divide, but I don’t think elected Dems want to face the reality of their situation which the well has been poisoned. The 2006 Era is dead and not coming back. A few standard bearers won’t reinvigorate a yuppie and working class alliance against the evangelicals. Given how stupid people are in Versailles, the aren’t having rationale discussions.

      2. Roger Smith

        Holy crap! WOW, Great catch! Ha! What an incredibly boneheaded statement. Thank you for pointing out.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will Sanders dump Schumer or is he banking on Chuck’s help in filling out his 2021 cabinet positions?

        Perhaps we work with those we need, instead of say, unilateral regime change. Keep talking. “Hi, Mr. Kim!”

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Dem elites need to spin especially after their dink in Georgia gets thumped. What if Sanders is right and all that money wasted by the Dims over the years went to David Brock’s wig maker instead of winning elections? Big donors might start pulling money. Hillary spent a billion dollars plus her CGI scam to do worse than Kerry in states that mattered. I guess she held onto to Virginia, but without the turnout increases in states out of reach, she was a disaster.

      Don’t forget the DNC vote was around 215 to 200. There could be calls calls to replace Perez’s new staffers if not calls from unexpected quarters for Perez to step down.

    3. Vatch

      I was very disappointed by the election in Kansas. Thompson came quite close to achieving an upset, and he might have succeeded if the corrupt idiots who lead the Democratic party had provided him with a few thousand dollars. So we have another win for Brownback and the Kochs.

      Here’s some Democratic contact information. You won’t be able to talk to anyone with influence, but you can vent.

      Democratic National Committee
      (202) 863-8000
      430 South Capitol Street Southeast
      Washington, DC 20003
      – – – – –
      Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)
      (202) 863-1500
      430 S. Capitol Street, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20003
      – – – – –
      DCCC chairman Ben Ray Luján
      (202) 225-6190
      – – – – –
      Senator Chuck Schumer
      322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
      (202) 224-6542

      1. polecat

        YES ! Go ahead and Vent to your Ferengi Senators and Representatives ….

        Betting Operators Are Standing By ….. Don’t delay !

        1. Vatch

          I appreciate your humor; interestingly, when I called, nobody answered the phones at the DNC or the DCCC. Nobody. The Democratic Party is about as good at public relations as United Airlines.

          1. polecat

            Vatch, I don’t mean to be snarky at your expense .. it’s just that, in my view, that ANY civil & courteous discourse with 99.9% of CONgress, and all their enablers, is futile … and will be condescended to, if not outright ignored. These .. uh .. people simply do not give a flying fuck (sorry) about ANYTHING or ANYBODY that doesn’t result in evermore lucre (including political power) being sucked up their pipeline of grift.

            I believe American ‘democracy’ exists in name only …. and just barely at that !

            So I perform my crude bit of levity as I can muster, as the only release of anger and frustration I carry, because otherwise you’d be reading about that poor schlub who went ‘postal’ somewhere, on someone !

            1. Vatch

              I wasn’t offended by your humor at all. Sarcasm should be directed towards them; they deserve it.

              “if not outright ignored”

              They certainly ignored me when I called!

            1. Oregoncharles

              It isn’t really funny.

              I just wonder when (more) people will learn their lesson and give up on them.

            2. JohnnyGL

              When you think about the incompetent management wasting money, causing own-goals, there’s similarities. Add in the PR that’s barely concealing the spite towards citizens, and the use of thuggishness to solve the problems they create themselves….the parallels are certainly there.

              I’ll take a shot….

              #United Democrats and #United Arlines…maybe juxtapose the picture of the line of police in NV during the state caucus in which the non-threatening, non-chair-throwing incidents happened….with the weird Chicago Police-like unit used on the United Flight.

            3. wilroncanada

              We were close to landing in Kansas, no parachutes alas. We’re not DUA–Democratic Unity Airlines–we’re DOA.

    4. curlydan

      According to the KC Star, the DCCC folks might have gotten off their collective butts, flipped a switch, and did some phone banking for Thompson in the last 24 hours before plopping themselves back on the couch to send some ID politics tweets out. But yeah, they didn’t do $#!+.

      “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provided phone banking on behalf of the Thompson campaign in the race’s final 24 hours, but did not spend money on television advertising like its Republican counterpart.”

      “Estes’ victory came after the president and vice president recorded robocalls to urge GOP voters to the polls, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas flew into Wichita for a rally Monday and the National Republican Congressional Committee flooded Wichita television with abortion-themed attack ads against Thompson. The flurry of activity from national Republicans in a usually safe Republican seat attracted national attention.”

    5. JohnnyGL

      Losing 53-46 when Pompeo won by 31 points is pretty amazing. DCCC is running a risk of looking like they’re not even necessary or useful anymore. Eventually, there’s going to be a point where someone like Thompson wins with no help and THAT is the moment when the Dems lose complete control of the party. If the guy had won, the party would have NO control over the guy. He’d be answerable to NO ONE but the voters.

      In fact, once it happens (a win with no party help), the Dems may find themselves in a much worse situation than the Repubs had to deal with from Tea Party types.

      1. a different chris

        DCCC is running a risk of people discovering they’re not even necessary or useful anymore.

        Fixed it for you.

  6. skippy

    The real scary bit is what el’trumpo acts out once his fan base and ratings goes the way his reality ™ show went…..

    disheveled…. remember ratings equal dopamine hit…. habits don’t stop… they transfer…

  7. oho

    >>However, the guys who dragged the passenger off the plane do not appear to be “airport police,”

    Chicago’s “airport police” are the security officers from the Chicago Dept. of Aviation—they are unarmed with limited policing powers (versus NYNJ Port Authority Police).

    Armed Chicago Police are at the airport but CPD normally don’t deal w/anything beyond the TSA checkpoints.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Unarmed? Pretty sure I saw a pistol butt and “tactical plastic” belt holster under the over shirt, on the right flank of the one thug… but maybe it was just a granola bar holder or at worst (sic) a Taser (@)..

  8. MoiAussie

    Not quite an antidote, but in some good news for animal lovers, Taiwan bans slaughtering dogs and cats for meat, marking changing attitudes towards animals.

    Taiwan has passed legislation banning the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption.

    Anyone caught in breach of the law could face up to two years in prison, as well as large fines and publication of their identity.

    Other amendments passed include a ban on pulling animals along with a lead while riding a motor vehicle.

    Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is a renowned cat lover. If only the mainland Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indonesians would pass similar laws.

    1. visitor

      If you are against killing any animal for meat, then your position is logical and understandable.

      Otherwise, it is incoherent. What makes eating cats and dogs unacceptable whereas, say, eating pigs, rabbits or horses is all right?

      1. nycTerrierist

        so, in order to be logical, no animals should be protected until they all are?

        do you think that will ever be achieved without precedents like Taiwan’s new laws?

        as a vegetarian, I applaud Taiwan’s new laws as progress.

        1. visitor

          It has all the stench of hypocrisy.

          Despite what happens in foster kennels, cats and dogs are, for the most part, pampered animals. Even stray dogs and cats have it vastly better than cows or pigs in industrial meat farms. I assume the situation in Taiwan (a developed country) regarding all those animals is comparable to the one in Europe.

          So animals that were already privileged get more protection against a quantitatively minor danger. But those that were already living crammed in the squalor of industrial pigsties and hutches get… nothing.

          It definitely looks like a cheap feel-good operation.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Her father owns a seafood restaurant chain.

            Is there conflict of interest to not banning the slaughter of, say, lobsters, or tuna for sushi?

            The Small Vehicle Buddhist – Hinayana – (Small, because Big Vehicle Buddhists – Mahayana Buddhists – say the Ancient Monks – Theravada Buddhists – are small, yes, because they say so, it is so), they accept and eat things are put in their alms bowls.

            If you give them snake meat, they eat snake meat

            If you give them rat meat (in areas of India, for example), they eat rat meat.

            If you give them turtle meat, they eat turtle meat.

            I believe snake meat and turtle meat are eaten still in Taiwan, surrounded by sea, with lots of seafood.

          2. nippersmom

            Your assumption would be wrong. Cats and dogs in countries where they are eaten are routinely and intentionally tortured before slaughter, and even skinned or boiled alive. They are kept in overcrowded cages, denied adequate food and water, and subject to disease. Many of those who consume their meat believe the suffering of the animals confers a benefit to the eater. Information on the situation is readily available from Soi Dog and other sources, if one makes any effort whatsoever to obtain it.

            And I would suggest that someone who thinks it’s better for more to suffer than fewer should reconsider calling others hypocrites.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              There is a separate problem of falsifying meat origin.

              Some sushi in seafood restaurants are dolphin or whale meat, not just in Santa Monica, but many places around the world.

        2. witters

          Well, I have this sneaking suspicion (and I ground it in co-evolution) that if my dog, Roxy, died, that she would prefer it for me to eat her, than to let her flesh go to waste…

      2. Foppe

        Quite so. And if your position is that it is wrong to needlessly kill some animals out of a recognition that said animals enjoy life, want to live, and/or want to live free from unnecessary harm, then the only consistent position is to stop using all animals & animal products, because all institutionalized forms of use and killing involve unnecessary harm and death of animals, and pretty much all forms are inextricably intertwined. Dairy cows get killed just as “meat” cows do, once their milk production drops between some level at which it is economically more viable to replace said cow with a younger, less-exhausted-by-repeat-pregnancies specimen. Laying hens get killed after 1-2 years (exhaustion); sheep get sold for export after a few years because they can still be sold as meat, and “replacements” are basically free; etc.

        All these campaigns — whether about “veal calves”, taiji dolphins, seals, geese, dogs & cats, bunnies, etc. etc. — only serve to distract from the underlying point that if you care about animals for their sake, and value their enjoyment of life, then there is no basis for any distinctions between animals, because they all value life, and we — and especially triply we in the west — have no excuse whatsoever to harm them, other than excuses like habit-pleasure-convenience. For more, see here.

        PS. And the main reason why it’s popular to focus on these individual types of use is that they’re performed by people not counted as members of the in-group. Bashing “chinese” people for “cruelty” is nice and cathartic, after all — even though what they do is morally indistinguishable from needlessly exploiting a dairy cow until she becomes worthless, then killing her. Same with seals, fur, dolphins, whales, you name it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          She and her party subscribe to the Hollywood version of Utopia.

          Victims of Western culture hegemony.

          It’s accepted, with some resistance, that beef is acceptable to eat is the West. Try ask a Hindu about that.

          It’s either 1) tremendous restraint, 2) lack of delivery technology, 3) forgetfulness or 4) ignorance that India has not declared war on Spain, Mexico or other nations where bullfighting is still happening.

        2. nycTerrierist

          how would you go about achieving the abolition of animal exploitation?

          is it realistic to disdain incremental progress in the right direction?

          i’m a vegetarian so you don’t have to convince me it’s hypocritical to have selective compassion for some species and not others. my question is a practical one about challenging the ideology of speciesism that prevails worldwide. how do you suggest we go about that?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Reduce meat consumption, instead of banning it.

            Traditional Asian cuisines (and others elsewhere in the world) are light on meat.

            Unchain themselves and, those here, of Western culture hegemony…double cheeseburger, etc.

            Banning dog meat is just more (Western) virtue signalling.

            It’s more practically to work on the question of ‘how much,’ instead of morally superior (superficially) ‘what.’

          2. Foppe

            Convincing them, one person at a time (or more if one happens to be able to give a speech with multiple attendees, I guess), while pointing out to everyone who will listen that advocacy focused on the demand side is the only thing that will get us out of this mess.

            My dislike for other forms of advocacy has little to do with feelings, though. Consider: the antivivisection movement was pretty big in the UK in the 19th century, but once vivisection got “regulated”, all opposition melted away like snow before the sun. The movement against “veal” consumption never made sense at all, because those calves are still born, and are still superfluous, so they still die — they just didn’t get eaten anymore for a while. The ban on gestation crates in Cali took decades to get enacted, and now that it’s law — completely predictably — the police won’t enforce it, because they don’t want to get in the way of business. So much activist energy and donation money utterly wasted (except for those who make a living off working for PeTA, HSUS, etc. — they get to do “meaningful work for animals”).
            To sum up: marginal uses aside, top-down change simply doesn’t work. At best, it displaces use from one species to another. Great for the tuna, less so for whoever gets to replace the tuna; great for the meat cow who no longer gets eaten, but less so for the superfluous calves who are killed in the course of dairy production, or for the dairy cows who don’t get eaten by vegetarians but do get sold for their meat and killed as soon as their “productive” days are over.

            1. visitor

              To the question raised by nycTerrierist “how do you suggest we go about that?”, I must honestly say that I no longer know what to do.

              For a while, I thought that it would be possible to reduce animal exploitation in a sneaky way, e.g. by prohibiting commercialization of meat containing traces of antibiotics — which would automatically make large industrial animal farms uneconomic.

              I receive episodically a magazine published by a vegan movement, and their reports on the situation of animal farms are harrowing.

              What struck me too is how much regulatory capture has made the legal tactic inoperative. That association checks farms and lodges official complaints when they figure out something violates the law — but it is rare for anything to happen. The simplest trick is for inspection agencies to simply refuse to investigate right away. When they do, they generally find the exploitation “generally compliant” with regulations. Only the most extremely egregious cases lead to indictment (say, letting animals die of exposure).

              So reducing meat consumption to a marginal element of diets (as it generally was in Western countries just over a century ago) will not happen through enforcement of legal norms.

              1. Foppe

                Agreed, though I don’t really see why that would be surprising. Capitalism (and societies before that, too, but it’s gotten rather worse) has never been about neutral enforcement of laws — always the opposite: elites decide which laws are enforced, irrespective of broad-based support. Furthermore, in the case of animal use, it isn’t just elites who buy in — 99% of the world believes in its desirability, thanks to its post-WW2 democratization. Yet pre-WW2 consumption levels (which the “happy exploitation”-crowd plus the corporate charities hold out as a Nirvana) is no solution either, besides being transparently elitist.
                So the only way out is by changing hearts and minds — convincing people that they no longer want to contribute to animal use, and rejecting the use of animals for human-chosen purposes. Yes, that’s very much an uphill battle. But it’s the only consistent way out, and it’s the only way to not feed into xenophobia and/or discrimination.

                PS. If you want to gain a better understanding of why reform won’t get us there, I’d really recommend Francione & Charlton’s Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, or alternatively, the former’s Animals, Property and the Law. Since animals are defined by law to be someone’s living property, their interests are defined by their owner, who is assumed by definition to have his best interest at heart however he treats his property. As such, the property’s interests will never win out against the interests of the owner, no matter how bizarre the choice made by the owner, because any owner always has the right to destroy his property — that can be a “rational” choice as well, on which the law cannot comment.

      3. MoiAussie

        I am not against eating of animals, as I have evolved to eat them. Plants and fungi too. I am not against killing them for other reasons too, like fleas on my cat, wasps in my garage, or parasites in my gut. There is nothing incoherent in wanting to minimise the suffering of animals caused by people, and this Taiwanese law is an incremental step in the right direction. I’ve a great deal of admiration for people like Temple Grandin who share this motivation. And the principle applies equally to beasts of burden, companion animals, racehorses, guard dogs, fish in aquaria, and rats detecting landmines.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sometimes people are blunt.

          “He’s doing it for his future hotel in Russia.”

          Motivation, ulterior or otherwise. Conflict of Interest.

          If you consistently don’t spare niceties, you ask, ‘Is this partial virtue to gain a moral superiority edge over your political opponents?’ ‘It’s not about an incremental step.”

          Normally, we don’t challenge people that way. “The Sochi resort project is the furtherest thing in my mind. I assume he will conduct his foreign policy the best way he can.” We don’t jump ahead without some solid evidence.

          “No, no, no. We can’t allow any potential conflicts of interests. We must assume.”

        2. witters

          “There is nothing incoherent in wanting to minimise the suffering of animals caused by people” – well, from my archair it seems you have to be careful here, otherwise you get not merely incoherence but an abhorrent conclusion.

          So: if your basic moral value is to minimize suffering in the world, then one thing that might be something for you to work on (perhaps in secret, using AI…) is to develop a way of eliminating, painlessly, all sentient life… No more gratuitous suffering, ever again!

          1. PhilM

            I mean, seriously, did you even think about what he wrote? What’s your position, that “To live is to suffer, so bring me more of that needless, avoidable pain”?

            We can pretty much count on you, faced with an interesting statement from someone like MoiAussie, one of the rare smarties on the internet, to be there to sound off a kindergarten fart.

    2. Stephen Gardner

      No offense but I’m not sure why raising cats and dogs for food is any worse than raising pigs, sheep and cows for food. I’m an omnivore and I must admit I love to eat meat but raising and killing animals for food is the same act regardless of species. We don’t enjoy eating dog but, on a moral plane it seems equivalent. If not why not?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Let’s get controversial!

        Dogs and cats are effectively luxuries in much of the West these days. The ladies of medieval Europe kept lap dogs. The Lord’s had their hunting dogs, but how often did they go hungry? Keeping a dog as a pet was an outward sign of wealth. Subsistence level societies have to be more pragmatic about where their resources go.

        We are clearly predisposed based on co-evolution to like dogs and cats. One theory is human society apes (sorry) dog society. Still, we can’t deny class and racial constructs (always in flux) when looking at the subject of “man’s best friend.” There are jokes and stereotypes about police questioning cheese restaurants when dogs go missing.

        There is a classic Simpsons where they go to New York and Marge and Lisa are horrified by rabbits on display in China Town and then gushing over leather shoes. Lisa noted her own hypocrisy. It’s about class even if we don’t notice it.

        There are obviously psychopaths who will eat manatee for the thrill of it if they could, but we are dancing around an insidious form of racism or xenophobia, whatever you want to call it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Did they try the Shark Fin Soup or the Bird’s Nest soup?

          Are they illegal now in New York or Taiwan?

      2. Randy

        In the US we kill (euthanize) our excess cats and dogs and toss their bodies in the landfill.
        In Asia they kill and eat them.
        And who is the is the bad guy here?

        Dogs and cats are plentiful. If they eat the more plentiful protein maybe they will eat less “endangered protein”.

  9. Ignim Brites

    “D.C.’s war madness”. The foreign policy establishment is furious that Russia has seized the iniatitive in the Middle East. The cruise missle strike hardly changes that. Indeed, it is nor improbable that Putin is pleased with the strike as it reminds Assad that he depends on Russia. Additionally, it frees Russia from having to cooperate with the US in the war on ISIS. The more the US has to take the lead in the fight against ISIS the more likely it is to take casualties and the more likely the population will demand an end.

  10. nothing but the truth

    is there NO ONE left in the intelligence agencies who can blow the whistle on the zionists/neocons?

    We know that in the MSM there isn’t.

    We’re looking at a nuclear war being provoked by these folks here. No one wants to risk his job/pension for the sake of humanity anymore?

  11. Kukulkan

    Re the “The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters” piece from the New Yorker.

    Any indications why the return to experience has declined? If not vanished entirely?

    Is it just companies trying to cut labor costs? Or is there more to it?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One possible why – faster and furious pace of change (technological, fashion-wise, style-wise, etc).

      Those with experience might be reluctant to accept folly unconditionally.

      “Buying a smart refrigerator may not be a smart decision. Thus, I am not familiar with the terminology associated with it. Multiple that by ten thousand items, now, you are an unemployable Luddite.”

      And if you are not familiar with today’s fashion, you might clash culturally with the existing workforce you are trying to join, trying to get a job there. Perhaps you don’t like tattoo, but everyone there has a few.

    2. Mark P.

      ‘Is it just companies trying to cut labor costs? Or is there more to it?’

      Why would there need to be more to it? The employers do it because they can. Indeed, I suspect the employers would argue in many cases that competition — Gresham’s Law applying here — means they have to.

    3. jrs

      The article itself talks about unions and how there was seniority benefits build into many union contracts and less people are unionized.

      Maybe healthcare expenses. If a company is providing healthcare it does cost them more for an older worker, so maybe the extra money that would have gone to salary all went to healthcare. However age discrimination in employment seems to be to some extent a global problem and not solely an American one.

  12. Christopher Fay

    We’ve been fighting ISIS since 1990. Americans haven’t gotten tired of the casualties yet, tired enough that we can throw all the bums out at once.

  13. crittermom

    RE: Trump admin considers backdoor way to cut SS

    Link doesn’t work. Anxious to read what he has planned to screw us now.

      1. crittermom

        The link to the petition doesn’t currently work.

        And, they want to eliminate the payroll tax while cutting corporate taxes, wondering where they’ll then come up with the money to sustain SS. (one guess)

        Reverse Robinhood in this regime. Take from the poor and give to the rich.

    1. Adam Eran

      The plan is to substitute a value-added tax (VAT) for the payroll tax that currently “funds” Social Security.

      But since government makes the money, no tax revenues provision any of its programs. Where would people get the money with which they pay taxes if government didn’t spend it out into the economy first? Taxes make the money valuable–money retires the inevitable liability of taxes–they do not, and obviously could not, provision government.

      If that’s too difficult to wrap your head around, ask yourself where all the “Fiscal Responsibility [tm]” was when the bank bailouts ($16 – $29 trillion) or Middle East wars ($3 – $7 trillion) were discussed.

      Just FYI, Warren Mosler’s Modern Money Theory plan would be to eliminate the FICA tax altogether. But this would require coming clean to the American public that taxes don’t provision government.

      Factoid of interest: As Reagan was halving the top marginal tax rates, he and his successor increased payroll taxes eightfold. Do we really need to wonder whether income inequality was the result of public policy?

  14. drb48

    re: Gabbard: ‘We need to learn from Iraq’

    If we’d bothered to learn from Vietnam there wouldn’t have BEEN an Iraq.

      1. g

        I forget the name of the historian who said, “What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

  15. DJG

    The Virginia governors’ polls are way too early. The undecideds are at 51 percent. And then there is the matchup of Tim Kaine to Carly Fiorina. Self-righteous mediocrity versus self-righteous mediocrity. Wowsers. Shoot me now.

  16. DJG

    The hypotheses about black holes by Michel and then by LaPlace are intriguing. I am surprised that LaPlace didn’t gain some purchase, because his reputation was stellar.

    Yet I am also reminded of Lambert’s stress on agnotology: The culture that thinks of history as anecdote, unless American amnesia comes into play, in which case history is a blur of half-forgotten celebrities, and the culture that thinks that there is a reprehensible category called Dead White Men, has trouble taking a long view. Yet the Greek atomists and that Roman poet Lucretius were laying the groundwork for modern science almost three thousand years ago.

  17. Kevin Smith

    The U.S. Air Force’s Constant Phoenix WC-135 nuclear sniffer plane will also come in handy if the US nukes the NORKS.

    The US has not had any atmospheric tests for many decades, and Nuking the Norks could/willl generate a goldmine of data on the performance of nuclear weapons, and on weapon physics.

    An opportunity not to be missed!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As it is now, we here in California are catching a lot of windblown airborne pollutants from the other side of the Pacific already.

      1. polecat

        Hey .. don’t forget about us fellow east pacific irradiains up north of the Cali border ….
        just sayin ..

  18. RenoDino

    Who’s Playing The Long Game–and What’s Their Game Plan? Charles Hugh Smith

    I like to think of Charles as the Peggy Noonan of the left. Uncle Charles and Aunt Peggy both have that spark of optimism that makes us want to believe that everything will be OK, just give it some time.
    Stuff is going on behind the scenes that we don’t even know about, good stuff, and it will all work itself out. The bad guys will burn themselves out and the good guys will be there to pick up the pieces. With this attitude, they will both probably live to be 100.

    It’s a great attitude and one I wish I could share, but, unfortunately, I don’t.

    A thought did occurred to me the other day that explains a lot or nothing. Liberals, who believe in regulation, reason and government, are classical Hobbsian enlightenment rationalist, while conservatives, who believe in the innate goodness of the individual, thwarted by government and science, are classical romantics in the Rousseauian tradition desiring above all else to live free in a state of nature.

    The common view is just the opposite. Liberals see themselves as hopeless romantics seeking world peace, while conservatives see themselves as pure, hard-nose rationalists. Is it a case of poor labeling or a failure to understand their philosophical roots?

    1. Brian

      Dino; Have you read a few dozen of Charles’ blog posts? He seems to eschew right and left and go for humanism. Labeling may not be applicable for something in motion. Averages and statistics don’t typically apply to thought or moral conundrums.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Who are potential beneficiaries in the worldwide debt immersion? At some point, there must be widespread instability resulting in catastrophic collapse when the debt load becomes unpayable. Are many or most humans destined to revert to subsistence living, or is a jubilee the likely remedy to prevent one type of chaos? Just when I was starting to feel more optimistic now I want to pay down what little debt I have and simplify, simplify around some pond.

    3. jrs

      I don’t think most conservatives actually are individualists in any meaningful sense at all, it’s not their philosophy of life (a few libertarians DO have that strain, but I don’t think they are actually a large part of those voting Republican).

      You can see it in the way conservatives react to cultural issues of course (what individualism?). You can see it in their authoritarianism. But if you get down into parsing even their economic arguments it often amounts to dog eat dog capitalism is good BECAUSE it forces people to behave (to work hard etc.). And people need such fear in order to do what they are supposed to.

      And this isn’t just some aspect of their ideas they innocently overlook (yes in a few cases, college student reading Ayn Rand maybe, but with die hard Republicans not intellectual dilettantes, it’s not). Rather they often pretty much directly state this. That it’s ultimately all about control, not freedom.

      1. jrs

        Also the parts of the country, that tend to be conservative etc.. are not individualistic, that’s not at all the soil out of which it grows, and it doesn’t grow out of pure ideology in the case of most voting behaviors.

      2. witters

        Actually, I think individualism and authoritartianism are intrinsic to Enlightenment Liberalism. On the one hand there is the call to individual reason free from all constraints of tradition, custom, prejudice, etc; on the other the appeal to the authority of organised reason (‘science’).

  19. Rhondda

    D.C.’s war madness The Week (Sid S)

    This article frames “the events” in Syria as a civil war. Wrong. It’s not what happened and therefore leads to false analogy re the American civil war.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel Harvard Business Review (resilc)

    We’re not talking about opioid addiction here, though.

  21. Dita

    I hope it’s not out of line to post this, but if you’re in NYC, Congressman Jerry Nadler is holding a town hall tomorrow evening at Brandeis High School. It’s 6-8 pm, 142 W 84th Street.

    also, Our Revolution is joining the Tax March on 4/15 with its own broader tax protest.

    1. stillfeelintheberninwi

      This story is complicated.

      In this article it says Grassland, the company dropping the small dairy farmers, is opening it’s own 5,000 cow CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in Dunn County, WI and that Grassland, has known about the problem for some time. I would include that the government officials have known as well.

      In the end, I fear these individual small businesses are sacrificed for the larger corporation. That is what is happening in the dairy industry in Wisconsin and the environmental consequences are great. Ask the folks in Kewanee county WI about their ground water contaminated by CAFOs.

      And then we should talk about the immigrants that keep these operations running….

      1. Randy

        The small farmer will soon be totally gone. Despite their “representative’s” protests, nobody will buy their milk. Their representatives, AKA politicians are trying to blame Canada for this, haha.
        This is just the mopping up operation the CAFOs are performing on the last of a dead(or soon to be dead) breed, the small farmer.

  22. Chris

    Quick question for the folks here: Is anyone having problems with your smart phone trying to listen to you too much? Too many settings options where Google/Alexa/Siri want to take what is being said as input and will surprise you with a “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you” when you weren’t expecting it? Too many buttons you need to press or else the phone is listening when you didn’t ask it to listen?

    I have an older Samsung Galaxy, and it really hit me this past week how many different apps and settings and features had been updated into things which were expecting me to use my voice to interact with them. I didn’t realize that Google Maps had a built in setting I needed to turn off or else whenever it was on it would be trying to receive voice input.

    I just want to use my phone the way I want to use it. I don’t want Google recording my history or Amazon trying to cross sell stuff between apps and websites. I don’t want a digital assitant. I don’t want a phone that listens to me when it’s not supposed to. I’m an engineer and I would never consider myself a Luddite. But after the Smart TV fiasco this past year and the amount of work it took to get my phone working the way I want it to, I’m definitely warming up to the ideas of King Lud. Anyone else noticing similar problems?

    Thanks in advance for any comments or advice.

    1. Dead Dog

      I know mate, what a horrible choice Google or Apple – just so we can stay in touch and look up a map now and again.

      I turn off all apps all time, but you can’t disengage that microphone…

    2. vidimi

      i have an old galaxy as well but i never update any app unless i absolutely have to. so no problems here

  23. crittermom

    RE: “Possible signs of life found ten kilometers below seafloor”

    Aha! Now we know where the majority of recent politicians in office were hatched.
    To quote: “These types of protected ecosystems may have allowed the deep biosphere to thrive, despite violent phases during Earth’s history such as the late heavy bombardment and global mass extinctions.”

    If I knew how to strike out words, it could easily be changed/corrected to prove my point, I believe.

    1. diptherio

      Pro-tip: highlight the text you want to strike-through, then click on the “b” or “i” buttons above. Then change the “strong” or “em” to “strike” and the “/strong” or “/em” to “/strike”.

      1. fresno dan

        April 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm
        thank you!
        now, of course, I can’t find even one any thing I want to strike through

      2. fresno dan

        April 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        Of course, you may have created a monster
        Frankenstein monster

  24. allan

    Chris Arnade has a fellow traveler in France: Angelique Chrisafis

    1/ Spent roughly two weeks talking to voters in rural central France & urban areas in S. East & West. A few things I noticed: …

    h/t Greenwald’s feed

  25. Alex Morfesis

    “Ahmed I need a job” just signed up to run again for president of iranistan despite the strongly worded suggestion he not from fearless leader ayatollah…political theater or a new direction in downgrading the power of the religious nomination and vetting committee…pass the lamb shank…

  26. continuous lg continuous lg

    Recent events, e.g. the brutalizing of the United passenger, are bringing to mind Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ and E.B. White’s ‘The Door’. It seems that the Few are working to soften us up more or less continuous continuously, now. Maybe I’m wrong.

    1. Ulysses

      “Maybe I’m wrong.”


      “Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. Any yet, every year, billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war,”

  27. NotTimothyGeithner

    Lean Forward! Maddow is unofficially a conspiracy update show. She needs to get Podesta as a cohost and investigate aliens.

    “Was this alien autopsy video on Fox in the 90’s a psyop by the Russians to conceal the truth about aliens? What kind of donations could they have made to Donald Trump who is a casino owner? For those of you watching at home, you will remember there are casinos in Nevada where area 51 is located, and who is a casino owner? Donald Trump. Have Russians gambled with their…rubles? ” Smug stare and go to commercial.

    1. voteforno6

      Maybe Rachel Maddow is really a Russian sleeper agent…she’s spinning all these crazy conspiracies about the Russians, thereby discrediting everyone else. Which is exactly what Putin wanted.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Universal healthcare supporters see their chance: ‘There’s never been more support’ Guardian (martha r)

    There is also a better option – FREE universal healthcare, even for those making over $125,000. No Means Test, something Hillary might put in there, like her version of Free College Tuition was passed in New York.

  29. Carey

    My previous comment was “auto-corrected” by this new smartphone (sic). Hope to get rid of it soon. My apologies.,

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wish I had a Planned Childhood…mine was more spontaneous.

      Of course, I had no involvement in my Planned Birth. For my parent, it was planned.

      How do we explain this contradiction – the same event, for me, unplanned, and for my parents, planned?

      Is that related to fake news, to finding out what happened in Syria?

      Does that have anything to do with Rashomon?

      1. Roger Smith

        Ha, what if we find out children don’t want to their childhood planned? Who maintains legal superiority? Mother (Father?) or Child?

      2. HotFlash

        According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or at any rate, the English translation by Y A Evans-Wentz, and assuming I got it right, the souls of the dead float around in a happy, bodiless condition for some time after death. But after a while they get bored with this, and find themselves attracted by, ahem, copulating couples. And they get closer to have a better ‘look’, until one time WHAM, they get sucked in and BAM reincarnated. If this is the case, then we not only chose to be born, but we chose our parents. This would be the mechanism by which karma is a bitch.

    2. Katharine

      1) I don’t think bureaucratic is a relevant adjective for the linked material.
      2) I’m glad you have evidently never had to worry about where your primary care was coming from.

      1. Roger Smith

        When did I suggest this type of care was not needed? My point is the PP Administration’s constant willingness to risk what care they are able to provide in daring, selfish political wagers. They know well that their continued reach is largely politics based, yet they jumped on Clinton’s band wagon for no clear reason other than the reach of the money train.

        Then Trump won… and offered a concession, keep your Federal Funding but cut abortion services. Do I personally like this? No, but PP’s aim should be to provide as many services in as wide of an area as possible. They themselves claimed abortions were only 3% of their procedural activity… so take the deal for your clients! Nope, they balked instead (last I heard).

        1. Katharine

          Thanks for the clarification! I can’t agree: absence of safe abortion kills people, sometimes really horribly. They should not back down on what they will provide.

          And it’s not clear their funding will suffer in the long run from taking a principled position. Not only will states like mine keep them going, individual donations will probably go up.

    1. a different chris

      Funny but I almost wished I hadn’t read it b/c of this:

      >Even though, GM sold more than ten times as many cars as Tesla last year, who sold just 76,000 compared to General Motors’ 10 million.

      Well technically 10 million is MORE than ten times 76k, but, well, sigh.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Seeking 2020 clout, California looks to jump the primary queue Politico

    Separate but equal – why don’t we just have them on the same day?

    “I’m not earlier than you and you’re not earlier than me. Nobody’s ego is hurt. Okie dokie, Nevada?”

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