Links 4/27/2017

Commensal bacteria and essential amino acids control food choice behavior and reproduction PLOS Biology. In Drosophila.

NYC Pensions’ Push Into Private Equity Yields Index-Fund Returns Bloomberg. The masters of the universe in private equity revealed as levered beta boys

UK Parliament fails to tackle financial secrecy in its overseas territories Tax Justice Network (Richard Smith).

State Banking Regulators Sue Feds Over Fintech Charter Proposal National Law Journal. See Clive on fintech.

Banks should let ancient programming language COBOL die The Next Web. Idea: Train new COBOL programmers and pay them commensurately? Wrong, perhaps, but oddly, or not, never mentioned!

The Government Seems to Have Disregarded the Immense Dislocation That Demonetisation Caused The Wire (J-LS).

These are the countries clinging to cold, hard cash Quartz

Mexican bank intervenes after woman, 116, deemed ‘too old’ for card Guardian (J-LS).

Why Brazil Is Striking on Friday Jacobin

New Cold War


North Korea

Bernie Sanders: Trump’s big North Korea meeting was a ‘road show for the White House’ Business Insider. He did not attend.

Kim Jong Un Is a Survivor, Not a Madman Foreign Policy. From the heart of The Blob… But who knows…

The Drumbeats Don’t Add Up to Imminent War With North Korea NYT

Top Admiral Says Not Looking at Regime Change in North Korea Foreign Policy

U.S. says strategy on North Korea centers on sanctions, open to talks Reuters

Military preparations ‘underway’ on North Korea, Trump aide says Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

PACOM Commander Takes Blame for Carrier Carl Vinson Confusion


American Intelligence Officials: Mattis ‘No Doubt’ Stance on Alleged Syrian CW Smacks of Politicized Intelligence Washington’s Blog

Syria’s forgotten pluralism and why it matters today The Conversation

Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative


Chinese money market fund becomes world’s biggest FT

China Ups the Ante in Bid to Quash Financial Risk: QuickTake Q&A Bloomberg


Mapu, you will be missed: Design fraternity remembers textile pioneer Martand Singh Hindustan Times

A 103-year-old lexicographer has spent a century thinking about one of India’s oldest languages Quartz


Melenchon asks supporters if they will back Macron Politico

Landscape of Treason n+1. Before the first round of voting, but useful on the electorate.

Marine Le Pen’s narrow path to French victory: Get opponents to stay home WaPo

Macron Jeered by Hometown Crowd After Le Pen’s Ambush Bloomberg

Emmanuel Macron offers the patriotic antidote to nationalism FT

The trouble with Emmanuel Macron The Week

Matteo Renzi faces sterner test if he wins race to lead his party FT

Trump Transition

Cohn And Mnuchin Made It Through Their Big Tax Reform Prank Without Losing Composure Once DealBreaker

The White House Unveiled a Tax Reform Plan. It’s Not Really a Plan Time

The 7 Key Elements of the White House Tax Plan NYT

* * *

Bribe Cases, a Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts NYT

Contempt for ethics hobbles Trump: Painter and Eisen USA Today

* * *

Trump Tells Foreign Leaders That Nafta Can Stay for Now NYT. “At this time.”

Why the FCC’s Plans to Gut Net Neutrality Just Might Fail Wired and FCC’s Lone Democrat Faces ‘Tough Choice’ on Blocking Net Neutrality Move Bloomberg

Trump gives Pentagon authority to set troop levels CNN

U.S. chief justice alarmed at Trump administration immigration case stance Reuters

The Trump era, summarized in six little circles Philip Bump, WaPo

Two Special Elections Add Suspense to Midterms Charles Cook, The Cook Political Report

“Make White People Be Nice to Me!”Progressive Army

Obama’s New Job: Guardian of Official Lies Black Agenda Report (MR).

Yglesias on Obama Crooked Timber. “More succinctly: [Yglesias] wants Obama to behave better, because otherwise political centrism will start to look like a hustle. But if someone like Obama is not behaving better, doesn’t that imply that the hustle theory has legs?”

Health Care

Single-payer health care bill passes 1st hurdle at California Capitol KCRA

White House will continue Obamacare payments, defusing a potential obstacle in talks to avert shutdown Los Angeles Times

Trump administration to defend contraception mandate required under Affordable Care Act Star-Tribune

GOP Health Care Bill Picks up ‘a Few’ Moderate Supporters Roll Call

The MacArthur Amendment Language, Race In The Federal Exchange, And Risk Adjustment Coefficients Health Affairs. “It is unclear at this point whether this amendment will garner enough votes to pass the House. The blanket waiver of essential health benefits at least should be of concern to some moderate Republicans. If the bill as amended passes the House, however, it is hard to imagine how this provision will be approved by the Senate. None of this has anything to do with the revenues or outlays or the United States government, so it would appear it could be blocked by the Byrd Rule which applies in reconciliation bills.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Auditor issues damning report alleging Ferguson court collected illegal fees, lost money St Louis Post-Dispatch

Guillotine Watch

With Secret Airship, Sergey Brin Also Wants to Fly Bloomberg

ESPN’s Latest Layoffs Are Just A Way To Buy Time Deadspin (MB).

What Led to Councilman Brian Cummins’ Last-Minute Flip-Flop on the Q Deal? Cleveland Scene. How the sausage was made for Cleveland’s arena and the Cavaliers.

Class Warfare

The cost of economic inequality to the nation’s physical health Boston Globe

Desperate Families Driven to Black Market Insulin NBC

The Looting Machine Called Capitalism Paul Craig Roberts, Counterpunch

The Age of War and Revolution Ian Welsh (MR).

Family buy plane tickets for condemned inmate’s daughter AP

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. Jim Haygood

    Speaking of Sergey Brin’s zeppelin, his company Alphabet is a member of what I call the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. These five companies now represent more than 10 percent of TOTAL US market cap.

    Naw … I didn’t believe it neither. But you can look up their individual market caps on Google. They sum to $2.76 billion, compared to the $26 billion market cap of all stocks listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq exchanges.

    The Five Horsemen occupy a 41% weight in the QQQ ETF which tracks the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index. As is apparent in this chart, the Cukes [as I call the ETF] are in runaway mode, up about 26 percent in the past 12 months:

    When will Bubble III meet its pin? Nobody knows. But as long as the Five Horsemen are leading the stock market cavalry charge, everything looks copacetic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The race is on to mono-elite-ism.

      “No other elites before me.”

      Note it’s not that there are no other elites, but only one comes first…or in the presence (out of sight, out of mind…kind of thing)

      Intolerance among elites, you may say…why can’t they just get along? Instead, they punish (not other elites) but the 99% for worshiping the wrong elites first.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        We used to know exactly what to do with destructive, dangerous monopolists, today we think they’re oh-so-cool and lionize them. GOOG, AMZN and FB should be broken up, like way yesterday

          1. Procopius

            I wish I had bookmarked it. There was a Supreme Court case in 2004 that essentially stopped ALL antitrust prosecutions. I mentioned it to somebody, I think I posted a link, and now I can’t remember enough about it to even google it again. I can’t even remember who I posted it to — probably on my facebook timeline, but I don’t know how to search that. Maybe some commenter who is also a poster here would know how to check out the Supremes’ cases from 2004 to find it. Or would just know the reason off the top of their head. Of course, the other reason was corruption of the antitrust division of the Justice Department.

    2. bronco

      The ETF’s are going to be what craters the market . There is something unhealthy about the whole concept of derivative investing. They will be very fragile in any abrupt down turn as no one has any particular investment (mentally ) in them . People think they will just trade like a stock but in a panic situation I don’t see how these things are going to get good executions

    3. bondsofsteel

      $2.76 trillion… seems about right for the value of the internet.

      Of the 3 ‘C’s of the internet (Content*, Commerce, and Communication), these 5 companies control most of it.

      * via search and browser access.

    4. different clue

      I would suggest changing “Techpocalypse” to “Technopocalypse”. Yes, on paper it is 2 letters and one syllable longer. But it flows off the tongue a little easier than “Techpocalypse”. At least it does for me.

      Why not try it both ways and see which is more rhythmic to say?

      1. ambrit

        That’s what I like about the commenteriat here. They’re not afraid to try it both ways.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Merci, Eustache.

      There has been little of this type of reporting in the MSM, both francophone and anglophone. I found interesting that the anglophone alternative media, including this blog, have provided better news and analysis, including what a phoney Macron is.

      I caught up with a friend who heads a control function at Rothschilds in London yesterday evening. The view at his shop is that Macron’s rise, une ascension fulgurante, puts the scions of the family to shame and shows that Macron is the servant of other / bigger interests. We concluded that we have watched this film before and ce long metrage (en anglais) did not end well in the UK and US.

      I had a look at Macron’s backers, including the one who organised the celebrations at La Rotonde on Sunday night and his wastah. The presence of so many dual citizens, including a former investment banker suing Morgan Stanley for insufficient bonus, could be a worry. If they pressure France into serving their first love’s interests, there would be even more mayhem in France.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        It all appears to have a Bourbon quality about it, but to be fair within the confines of the EZ, globalisation & Neoliberalism, the governing class has it’s hands tied behind it’s back even if it decided to make a serious attempt to relieve the ever growing pressure, which will no doubt grow to bursting point if not provided with any viable outlet.

        Nemesis, waiting in the wings ?, while as you illustrate, the winners fight for the contents of the trough.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Its not exactly scientific, but my brief skim of the news this morning flagged a surprising number of articles expressing misgivings about Macron from the type of outlets you’d expect to be singing his praises. I wonder if even within the elites there are concerns that he’s either an empty suit, or that he may owe too much to very specific backers. Even the core neolib elites must be concerned that they can overplay their hand.

        If such misgivings become widespread I wonder if it could lead to a serious collapse in his support. There seems no real electoral path for Le Pen from the polls, but I wonder what impact a very low turnout, especially from the left and rural right (i.e. Fillon) supporters might have. I saw one poll suggesting that something like half of Macron’s vote was tactical. It might be much weaker than we think.

        1. Dead Dog

          MLP is the change candidate and will win the Presidency if enough voters turn out seeking change, any change, to the country’s current pathway.

          The polls were wrong about a Trump victory.

          If she wins, it will strengthen the hopes of those in the UK seeking radical political change. Although, I reckon Corbyn has blown a once in a lifetime opportunity and the Tories will return to power

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Le Pens results were pretty close to the poll predictions, so either there is no ‘shy voter’ phenomenon in France or the pollsters have accurately tweaked the figures to account for that effect.

          1. witters

            “Although, I reckon Corbyn has blown a once in a lifetime ”

            Ah, its all the fault of the one decent man in the room.

      3. David

        Anecdotally, it seems that a lot of people on Sunday voted for Macron because they thought that he was best placed to ensure that Fillon (with whom they were utterly disgusted) didn’t make it into the second round. This having been achieved, they won’t necessarily come out next time, which is one reason why Macron’s vote is very soft. Other things being equal, a low turn-out should benefit Le Pen more, and that’s what Macron’s backers are determined to avoid. The problem is that the man is an empty suit, and has nothing to offer except platitudes, and the fact that he is not Le Pen. That last point represents virtually the only selling point for Macron: Vote Macron and stop Fascism! (which is now being openly discussed as an argument). The fact that Macron’s a lousy candidate, and would make a lousy President, doesn’t really matter, by this argument, as long as his election stops a repeat of Germany in 1933, or whatever.
        It’s unlikely that Macron’s financial backers believe this nonsense. It’s already clear that he is a vehicle for the creation of a “technocratic” (but actually neoliberal economic and social) bloc which is intended to dominate French politics, co-opting opposition with money and patronage. Oppose this bloc from the Left, and you’re a Communist. Oppose this bloc from the Right hand you’re a Fascist. That’s the plan anyway, although I’m not at all convinced it will work.

      4. lyman alpha blob

        That “Macron Jeered” link above doesn’t inspire confidence that Macron is anything but a phoney.

        After what happened to Clinton which I’m sure Macron is not ignorant of, I find it amazing that he has to be publicly embarrassed by Le Pen to speak directly to workers whose jobs are on the chopping block rather than meeting union leaders privately. And all he can come up with are vague threats that even more jobs will be lost if Le Pen is elected. Just more of the same “there is no alternative” neoliberal bushwa.

        So many complaints that the right wing is on the rise worldwide and yet the TINA liberals doing the complaining can’t see that they are the ones driving people who desperately want and need an alternative right into the arms of those presenting the only alternative being made available.

        1. Anon

          It’s Michael Moore’s “biggest FU in human history” all over again. Except my guess is that the French electorate is slightly more sophisticated than their US cousins, so an historically low turnout is more likely. Global elites have stacked the deck and by doing so subverted the democratic process. It doesn’t matter if in fact “it has always been rigged”, most people today are more aware than the commons of old, and they were expecting better. Now they’re sitting back deciding what to do. This isn’t going to end well.

        2. David

          I was told that, on the radio this morning, there was a story about Macron visiting a hospital. He apparently referred to the patients as “clients.”

          1. HBE

            That sadly made me laugh, dark humor seems to be the only kind these days.

            Macron must be studying up on how we do “healthcare” in the US.

            1. Alex Morfesis

              Ft in an article on macron insisted some unnamed source who worked with him stated at age 30, after having been given some special type of inspector general for finance designation previously while working in guvmynt, had to ask what ebitda was once he was in the private sector…

              Maybe someone can dig up herbert lom and shoot him up some adrenalin to see if he can keep this clouseau in check…

          2. Praedor

            What? How did he fuck that up? All neoliberals KNOW they are “consumers”. Not clients and certainly not patients.

            1. Outis Philalithopoulos

              In French, one of the standard meanings of client is “customer.” See the CNRTL definition B:

              Personne qui achète régulièrement des services ou des choses dans un établissement commercial.

  2. rich

    Ex-Congresswoman Accused of Living Large on Charity Funds

    Jacksonville, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors in Florida have told jurors a former congresswoman financed a lavish lifestyle of Beverly Hills shopping trips and fancy parties on donations to a charity ostensibly set up to help poor children with scholarships.

    Testimony will continue for a second day Thursday in the trial of former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, 70. She has pleaded not guilty to multiple fraud and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors have laid out an expansive case in U.S. District Court, charting years of payments they say were funneled from the charity to her personal bank accounts.

    “She knew exactly how to lie to these donors, and knew exactly where the cash money was going,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva in his opening statement Wednesday.

    Lawyers presented two opposing portraits of Brown to the federal jury in Jacksonville, part of a district the former Democratic congresswoman had represented since 1993. One was of an entitled, corrupt politician and the other that of a befuddled, aging lawmaker whose trusted adviser betrayed her. Her attorney James Smith said she was duped by her former chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons.

    Federal prosecutors said Brown and her associates used a charity called One Door for Education to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, much of which they used for lavish trips, tickets to a Beyoncé concert, shopping excursions in Beverly Hills and other personal expenses.

    Brown’s indictment says the Virginia-based One Door only gave out one scholarship for $1,200 to an unidentified person in Florida.

    Meanwhile, prosecutors said, Brown and two of her closest associates — Simmons and former One Door President Carla Wiley — were transferring donations to their personal accounts. Simmons and Wiley already have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against Brown.

    This is small potatoes compared to what’s going on out there. Every charity needs an independent forensic accountant to screen all outside vendors, invoices, charges.

    1. ambrit

      It’s a shame this couldn’t be a capital offence. (For the encouragement of the “others” you understand.) The betrayal of trust is bad enough. The betrayal of trust by a politician is bad to the second power. Oh, the list of potential “perps” is quite long, dontchano.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Ambrit.

        You won’t be surprised that this is common in Blighty.

        In addition to funding lavish lifestyles, the charidee work serves political ambitions. Paul and I chipped in about that recently.

        On another note, the flat season is moving up a gear with trials at Epsom this week and the Guineas at Newmarket next week-end.

        1. a different chris

          >the flat season is moving up a gear with trials at Epsom this week and the Guineas at Newmarket next week-end.

          I love the British Empire. I know every word in that sentence and have less than a clue what you are talking about. :) Two countries separated by a common tongue indeed..

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Chris.

            I am talking about horse racing.

            Ambrit is a Brit and racing enthusiast.

            1. ambrit

              Thanks Colonel.
              Remember, whenever in doubt, cry out, “I’ve got a horse!” Voila! Instant crowd!
              Yes “a different chris,” it’s a sport called “The Sport of Kings.” However, the sobriquet leads to the contemplation of an almost infinite series of events, attitudes, and opportunities for learning. In “Yee Olde Days” (TM), the crowd was as much fun as the races themselves.

              1. ambrit

                “a different chris,”
                I phrased the above rather unfortunately. Sorry if I came off as patronising; I didn’t mean to do that.
                If it’s called “The Sport of Kings,” it shouldn’t. A more leveling enterprise one could not find. Thus, a rather clumsy attempt at irony on my part. So, sobriquet should read, sport.
                “I’ve got a horse” is what the English racetrack touts would cry out to the betting crowd in an attempt to drum up some betting business, or, more sinisterly, to throw the odds off. I was a nipper then, so this is from Dad and Uncle Gerry’s “revealed wisdom.” Both would on occasion get up really early in the morning and go down to the big newsstand Downtown to get the latest Sporting News fresh off of the truck. Then they would sit up at the kitchen table handicapping the local races. Things like “It rained overnight, are there any good mudders on today?” and, “Oh. This horse was scratched yesterday. Now she’s back on for the third race. Worth a flyer.” would be heard.
                Uncle Gerry’s big score, ironically enough, was from a bet on the Jai Lai games, this being in Miami of Florida. He would bet using a “numbers” system. He pulled off a parlay series of bets and bought a new ’67 Bonneville with the winnings. Knowing Uncle Gerry, if he’s still around, he will still have that automobile.

    2. Jomo

      I attended a talk by Congressperson Brown shortly after she was elected to Congress. She was discussing her recent activities as a Congressperson which included junkets to Asian countries where she received many “gifts.” She was in no way secretive about her activities. This sent off alarm bells with me, but she completely lost me when she started talking about her visit to “West Korea” (I am not making this up.) The alleged criminal charity in no way surprises me. The fact that all her activities as a Congressperson apparently pass the “legal” test should raise everyone’s eyebrows and not just about her, but the ethics of every Congressperson. I also believe that Congressperson Brown has no ability to discern that she may have been engaged in criminal activity. Everything is just all for her.

        1. ambrit

          C’mon now. She was just advocating for the newly “personhooded” River of the same name.
          Of course now, if she was advocating for the south African province, she would be following in the footsteps of such stalwart ‘politicos’ as Rhodes and his ilk.
          “Free Limpopo!” And then make it a dependency of the International Incorporation of Monsanto.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s OK if the brain was not quite at the genius level (few of us can boast that), but the heart in this case, was not there either.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s OK if the brain was not quite at the genius level (few of us can boast that), but the heart in this case, was not there either.

    3. diptherio

      How silly of them. If they’d just paid themselves outsized salaries, everything would have been kosher. Why embezzle when you can just pay yourself $150,000 a year to be a fundraising coordinator?

    4. diptherio

      Every charity needs an independent forensic accountant to screen all outside vendors, invoices, charges.

      No, #notallcharities. Just the ones where the directors are making more than the average income of the locale they’re situated in. If you think you deserve more than most people for doing what you’re doing, then whatever it is that you’re doing, it isn’t charity.

    5. Alex Morfesis

      Brown is being punished for having refused to attend the dita beard congressional institute leadership courses mandated by her fellow kleptokratz…she is being punished for not having stolen enough to afford the multilayered plausible deniability expected from an elected official…

  3. MoiAussie

    The Age of War and Revolution (Walsh)

    While not disagreeing with most of the article, this seems a bit over the top.

    This fear [of job loss & homelessness] goes right through the economy, including in many who would be considered upper class (not rich, but the professionals make 150K+/year). Anecdotally, almost all upper class and upper middle class women seem to be on psychoactive prescription drugs, for example.

    Almost all“. Seriously? And why only mention women?

    I know times are tough and big pharma has a lot to answer for, but tell me it ain’t so.

        1. Adamski

          thx. Maybe Yves can chime in as she wrote something about the health of older affluent women some months ago.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      When I read that article, YIKES was the first thing that came to mind, but I cannot say he is wrong…….

      Perhaps you are picking at lint, because I did not see this article as overtly anti-woman…..

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I read that as just a throwaway comment. I certainly think its true that many of the higher professional classes are feeling very insecure. Even some very high paid professions are under threat from the same processes that destroyed working class jobs (off-shoring, automation, short term contracts replacing pensionable jobs, etc) and low returns on investment are undermining a lot of well off peoples pensions (especially high earners who don’t have inherited wealth and property). But upper class women on drugs is more a sign of ennui than economic stress. As a friend of mine once said ‘marrying into money is the hardest way of all to get rich – you have to work 24/7 at it’. I didn’t quite believe her, even if I did see her point.

      1. Brian

        It seems empathy is coming back in vogue. I hesitate to call it that, because it still appears as self protection and self interest. Is it possible that those in the well off, or formerly well off, are realizing there is no safety blanket for them? Many people think the government would never do that….. both before and after the government does that, for the thousandth time.
        Is it possible that the people of this nation and many others are doing painful self examination about their future?, and considering more “others” in that future. Is there a hint of cooperation and inclusion on the horizon?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a very difficult thing to say for sure – I’m not aware of any studies on the subject, but I think anecdotally, there are changes afoot. Certainly the huge popularity of Sanders would demonstrate a ‘hidden’ radicalism across a wide spectrum of US society, and in Europe there are plenty of indicators that more radical parties are getting support from more than just the poor and working classes.

          My own personal theory is that there is an increasing awareness among the 10% that the old assumption that if you worked really hard, got top of your class, then went into a core profession (medicine, law) or worked your way up a big corporation, you were guaranteed a good life and cosy retirement no longer holds. Increasingly people are finding that these jobs are getting harder to get, and worse still, a combination of rising housing costs (and the costs of getting your kids a good education) in the major growth cities and low returns on investments means that even earning a good six figure salary is no longer a guarantee of being ‘rich’.

          I recall reading a while back an article written by a wealth manager who said that he frequently had to deal with people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year who were horrified when they realised that what they considered ‘normal’ aspirations for a high professional were beyond their grasp. I know several people who complain that they have better jobs than their parents, and yet can’t afford to buy a house in the area they grew up in. The truth is that most of the rich these days are almost all rentiers to some extent – people who have inherited wealth and property or who have otherwise cashed in (or just got very lucky) with property and other investments. A friend was recently telling me of a cousin who, along with her husband, earn close to half a million dollars a year in IT, but were transferred to San Francisco and found to their horror that they could barely afford a tiny house in a bad area, and other costs with their kids, etc., meant that they had a lifestyle no better than when they both earned a very modest salary, but in a cheaper city. I suspect people like this are starting to get discontended and are asking harder questions about the system than they did in the past.

    3. Dead Dog

      It’s a worthwhile read though, sport –

      The age of neoliberalism is over, it’s a zombie, and the age of war and revolution has begun.

      Climate change and how quickly the change occurs will tip people and countries to the brink, so I think his conclusions are reasonably formed, which is scary

    4. JustAnObserver

      The Stones said it well for a previous generation:

      She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
      And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

      Even if “almost all” is an exaggeration the fact that this is coming back is a very depressing zeitgeist indicator.

  4. efschumacher

    Banks should let Ancient Programming language COBOL Die

    This introduces an opportunity to present a video called the Queen of Code, about the life of Grace Hopper, who was an early driver of high level languages and the progenitor of COBOL. After she had spent the war years, and later at Univac with Eckert and Mauchly, programming on the bare metal

    File it under History about the Implosion Bomb and the Dawn of Computing. Bliss must it have been to be alive in that early dawn when Gods and Goddesses walked the earth.

    1. MartyH


      It was bliss even in the late 1960s when computer departments were hiring everything from math to music to chinese language majors and training them up under such still practiced.

      1. efschumacher

        Gives me an opportunity to fix the quote: Bliss must it have been in that bright dawn when Gods and Goddesses roamed the earth. Sounds more poetic. I spent time in the late 70s at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. The quaint custom in the Computing Building was to have ‘the afternoon tea club’ on the 1st floor landing of the stairs, where you could rub shoulders with the early giants of Computer Networking, like Donald Davies, the inventor of packet switching. I was testing the link with the Arpanet by sending 1/4 Megabyte files over the satellite link via University College London and Norway, to USC-ISI in Los Angeles. Programming in BCPL, where the evolutionary history goes: Algol -> CPL -> BCPL -> B -> C -> C++ -> Go.

        1. zer0

          Is Assembly not part of that evolutionary history, or is it a branch extending from when IBM chip architecture became popular?

          1. efschumacher

            You might argue that compilers for high level languages constitute a paradigm-shift in how programs are conceived , and so it would be impossible to identify which particular assembly language(s) gave rise to the block structure evolutionary chain. There is a case for saying Fortran -> Algol -> CPL -> etc, however, and that indeed, Fortran begat them all.

            Anyway it certainly looks like Alan Turing, working in Manchester on whatever it is he was programming, was not looking at making programming easier for the lumpen-programmer, and didn’t seem particularly concerned that he had to program right down on the bare metal. He was solving actual problems, not people problems.

            1. Mel

              In retrospect, Turing was very strange. It seems he didn’t believe in branch instructions, which make a decision to shift the path of execution over to a different part of the code. If he wanted some variation in the code, his program would compute new instructions and drop them ahead into the path of execution. Not something we approve of now.

          2. Mel

            Not part. Assembly isn’t really a language. It’s a set of ways of life. Each computer design provides a set of distinct operations, and an assembly program is just a list of the ones you want to use to compute the result.

    2. Vince

      I’ve used COBOL for years as well as many other languages & platforms & COBOL is great. Many of the suggested replacement systems are gold-plated junk from the Silicon Valley clique – not scalable & unreliable – something like connecting refrigerators & washing machines to the Internet.

      1. JustAnObserver

        Yes and the interesting thing is that COBOL as a language is still being maintained & updated. The latest being COBOL-2014.

    3. Procopius

      I was lucky enough to attend a presentation she gave in Washington, D.C. She described her experience as a Captain when, on an evaluation, she used a computer program to generate a random walk for a search pattern rather than order her fleet (hypothetical) to use a standard grid pattern. She presented us with souvenir nanoseconds — lengths of wire that an electrical impulse would take a nanosecond to traverse. Interesting (delightful) woman. “It’s all just a bunch of ones and zeros, after all.”

  5. russell1200

    I thought Ian Welsh’s piece was interesting. But mixing our “themes of the moment” with long term trends and historical truths tends to leave me cold.

    It’s like when folks do in depth research into the “historical Christ” and find out that he was a feminist Marxist. It’s not to say you couldn’t find some points of contact there, its just that by filtering so heavily through our concerns of the day, you sort of think that maybe they are more cherry picking their data points than looking at true trends.

    So when he starts talking about “inequality” being an issue, I think that is fine as far as it being a political issue for today. But I don’t think that it translates very well to the stage of historical empires and long term social trends.

    1. Ian

      I am amused. Please read Republican Roman history, to start. Then read the history of the 100 years before and after the French revolution. Then read the history before and after the Glorious Revolution, then…

    2. tony

      Inequality is a major causal factor in the collapse of pretty much all empires, and equality often seems to be a cornerstone of empires. I suggest reading some Turchin, who has modeled this, reading The Assasination of Julius Ceasar, or at least listening the lecture, and reading Why Nations Fail.

      Inequality causes elite experience and interests to differ greatly from those of the general population, and the intraelite competition causes the elites to invest primarily in extracting resources of the state. The elites also grow increasingly arrogant and incompetent as there are no checks from the bottom.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Inequality and decadence go together.

        The poor individuals see the rich lords and their decadence.

        So do poor nations look on the rich nation and their decadence.

  6. MartyH

    The hand-wringing by “the young” about COBOL is a sad commentary on our novelty-driven youth. The problem of a shortage of COBOL skills is caused by Computer Science departments becoming enamored with novelty for novelty’s sake and failing to even offer training in vocationally valuable skills (of which COBOL is one). It is exacerbated by Enterprise hiring protocols that demand that applicants be found with both skills and experience … that push training onto academia or the applicants themselves. It is an interesting conundrum for both by those tasked with the education of future STEM (CS) workers and by those who NEED the skills.

    The big enterprises with vast COBOL libraries have all tried to convert them. Most of those projects cost small fortunes and failed spectacularly. Some “succeeded” but the results were so mediocre that they were rejected. The simple answer is training and wage-motivation for the CS students who want a good job outside of the hot-houses of the Unicorn start-ups.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Seriously? Is this a snark? Maybe my snarkmeter isn’t working, but I assume you think we should all be driving on dirt roads because asphalt is caused by Civil Engineering departments “becoming enamored with novelty for novelty’s sake…….”?

      I would remind you that software is also apart of our “infrastructure” and should have been upgraded all along but hasn’t been because those businesses refused to pump money back into their companies, they just wanted “growth” and profits. Now it has become a massive and expensive problem that must be addressed, and you think the solution is trying to revive the past? Screw COBOL, why don’t we all go back to programming in machine language? BTW, I’m not “young”……

      1. fred

        Yes now we have digital libraries with less actual books, which makes it much easier to purge the collective memory of things not pc. That being one of the improvements.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Yes, let us beat and demean each other, those who are struggling every day to just *maintain* that “infrastructure” to keep everything from falling apart, and, let’s be honest about it, carve out a bigger slice of the shrinking pie for themselves, or at least a “living wage.” While commenting out the real bugs in the code, hinted at in that bit about “just wanted growth and profits:” that we are all subject to the overarching architecture of a “logic system” that lets, clearly incentivizes in an endless, positive-feedback loop, a relative few to loot everything and get away with it, to demolish the chance at a semi-stable future for the planet and our misbegotten species while the few stuff their pleasure centers with all kinds of endorphins. “Apres ils,” intone the Rulers and looters, of course, “le deluge” — there’s no “profit,” no mega yachts or private island paradises or mountain retreats or knowing that everyone in the entire power structure will feel compelled to “take your call,” in seeking the Golden Mean, much less abiding by the Golden Rule…

        So, are asphalt- and reinforced-concrete superhighways and byways an index of “goodness,” or just part of the selfish looting that is the entire petro-fueled, carbo-consumption culture that is apparently slowly killing the habitability of the planet for us and many other species?

        As if there is any chance that any kind of “stability,” even metastability,, can be achieved, in code or the rest of the complex, vastly vulnerable, intricately inter-related and inter-dependent mess that is “modern life,” a mess that gets geometrically more complex and vulnerable every picosecond… Individuals, both real and corporate, pursuing their “interests,” peddling “progress” without deigning to even mention failure modes, or even thinking much about the externalities except as a mode, in shedding them, for increasing “profit” which so clearly is just looting the Commons, that silly notion that smaller communities sometimes were wise enough to recognize and enforce. Seems to me that we are increasingly likely, and apparently destined, to share a common end as a species, while the very few “live large” at the horrible expense of the people who might hope to live decent, moderate lives, eating only to their reasonable hunger and drinking only to their necessary thirst, through present and future iterations of “progress.”

        But that kind of thinking is just for “suckers and losers,” of course…

        Yeah, “change” happens, and the “agents of change” demand the right to do as they damn please (Microsoft, Uber, kids with CRSP-R and similar “improvements” to play with, even the proliferation of drones, and golly-wow! nanotechnology. Wonder why there are themes in literature and culture like the Golem, and the Butlerian Jihad, and Dr. Frankenstein’s monster…

        I would not last long, personally, if “we” get to that other kind of singularity, when all the failure modes achieve that glorious apotheosis of Murphy’s Law, and everything goes out like the lights and “infrastructure” in the Northeast power failures of 1965 and 2003, and the systemic-risk collapse of the house-of-cards code that “supports” and fosters the vast corruption and looting that is FIRE. One wonders, being still a partisan for what I consider the better parts of our species, if there is a survivable landing spot for enough folks who might not repeat the looting models to prolong that species. But of course die-offs occur, we humans are killing off dozens of species every day, and tens of thousands of our fellows… While a very few “live very large,” and so many aspire to join, or at least serve, those creatures…

        1. justanotherprogressive

          Perhaps society will fall under its own weight and you can revert back to a world you would feel more comfortable in. Would stone tools work for you? Or is that still too advanced?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Yah, let us beat on each other some more, using the clumsy tools of forensics. While the looting and undermining proceeds apace.

            Maybe re-read my comment? Not at all what I was saying.

            And do you have a great progressive path for society, that big word, to follow, to avoid that collapse that I am hardly longing for and would be an early casualty of, me and my loved ones? Or just some cheerleading for behaviors and systems that are massively vulnerable and teetering on edge?

                1. Fiery Hunt

                  Honor regained, Progressive.

                  Yet another fine example of why I love this site and its commentariat!

            1. justanotherprogressive

              I’m sorry JTMcPhee, I’m Aspergers so nuances and cynicism tend to fly directly over my head more often than not. I’m still trying to figure out what you do mean……

              So you aren’t a Luddite and don’t want to go back to a less technological life? But your comments seem to defeat that argument. If I may: “Yeah, “change” happens, and the “agents of change” demand the right to do as they damn please (Microsoft, Uber, kids with CRSP-R and similar “improvements” to play with, even the proliferation of drones, and golly-wow! nanotechnology. Wonder why there are themes in literature and culture like the Golem, and the Butlerian Jihad, and Dr. Frankenstein’s monster…” OK, so how far back into the past do you want to go to get away from “change”? Hence my comment about the stone age…..because at least from that time, humans have been on a technological path….and yes, there are those who have abused that technology for their own purposes, and yes, that will continue….and your solution to that problem is????

              So we should not “beat and demean each other, those who are struggling every day to just *maintain* that “infrastructure” to keep everything from falling apart,”? That was hardly what I was saying. A programmer can program in any language, once they learn the basics. Why do you think training a COBOL programmer is any different than training any other programmer? Why would COBOL programmers be a “protected class”, as a necessary hire to attempt to maintain a decaying system in lieu of banks spending some of their profits upgrading their own infrastructure? Or perhaps it’s just all “logic systems” that you are opposed to?

              Or maybe you were just making an existential rant about this particular brand of scientific progress?

              1. JTMcPhee

                Maybe you should look up something about the Luddite movement. Not what most people think it was, when they toss out the intended-to-be-pejorative label. I have said nothing about, and have no interest in, “going back to the past.” Can’t un-ring the bell, right? Or put the toothpaste back into the tube? But:

                At what point do any of us have a vote on what constitutes decent, safe, beneficial technology, and what should not be “pursued” for ego or money or position? How about the “scientist” who thinks it’s really cool to re-create the 1917 influenza virus, just because now he can? Or the folks who cheerily are building “battlefield nuclear tactical weapons,” and the doctrines and protocols for their use? More plastic crap, more pesticides (aka “poisons”)? Autonomous killing machines? And more “code,” that makes possible derivatives, and ideas like Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative that would have turned the decision to fire off the US nuclear weapons to a complex of satellites and sensors and ground stations, millions of lines of code expected to make a shall I say critical decision in hostile environments and low-bid contract performance, to ‘remove the human element’ from the loop?

                And of course the Stone Age had its high technology and improvements, too — . But the way people lived, in relation to their environment, was a lot different than “progress-“style living these days. But none of us mopes get to vote on what is “appropriate technology” and what is just foolish and/or idiotically dangerous, both of which sorts are made possible by ‘science and tech.’ With the actual decisions being taken by short-sighted grifters, as a general rule.

                Let me make it clear that I HAVE NO SOLUTION TO THE HORRORS THAT THE “TECHNOLOGICAL PATH” ENGENDERS. Neither you nor I have a tiny voice in either the pace and direction of that collective thing called so arbitrarily “advance” and “progress.

                And I had nothing to say about COBOL and programming and values of people or code languages. Don’t mix my comments with the others in this part of the bitstream.

          2. Alex Morfesis

            Over yonder…over there…new and improved trinckets…roads roads everywhere…moving my stuff to you and your stuff to me…since your stuff is better to my eyes and my stuff is better to yours…

            Dirt roads and stone tools…for those who might be able to do things without the help of an app…

            Motion and movement is not progress…done on a saturday night in a dark club in NYC, we used to call that dancing…

            Distractions and infractions…our eyes deceive us…does a blind man know he is living in a dump instead of a palace if the stuff around him functions and works…water is water…pouring out of a cheap fixture or a trump brand gold plated one, it still does as it has for a century…

            Every school should teach every child to grow a simple tomato plant…tomatoes evolved in the minds of feable men…for quite some time, it was imagined it was poison and not to be consumed…

            Faith in a seed…

            1. JTMcPhee

              At least that movement in a dark NYC club often presaged a chance to get laid… so some progress. I guess.

              I guess I was lucky to grow up when I did, with the teachers I had. Several of my grade school classes included planting seeds and growing stuff. Not that the small exposure of that sort begins to be enough to enable one to farm well, or feed oneself and family. But it at least gives one a bit of a frame and a small appreciation for where the stuff of life comes from.

      3. Procopius

        Screw COBOL, why don’t we all go back to programming in machine language?

        Well, apparently what they’re actually saying is that the source code is in COBOL. After all, once it’s been run through the compiler what you get is machine language. I remember back well before Y2K I was interested in looking at COBOL because the same complaint was being made then. COBOL actually seemed to be kind of a fun language, but I couldn’t find a free compiler and moved on to other interests. Why are managers unwilling to offer bonuses and higher salaries for people to learn COBOL? Why are modern programmers so determined to learn only one programming language? Has all the fun gone out of computer programming except for black hat hacking?

    2. StevenA

      You’re making the assumption that different programming tasks are equal or even similar, they aren’t and maintaining the archaic live COBOL systems used in banking is an extremely fringe and difficult one which requires a lot of experience and domain knowledge.

      You can teach COBOL, but a fresh graduate knowing COBOL is almost as useless at maintaining these applications as one who wasn’t. These systems are poorly documented and barely understood, filled with layer after layer of dodgy hacked together code added just to get things working by other developers who were rushed and underfunded. This means your new COBOL developer isn’t going to be useful until they have had years of experience unravelling the mess, experience which won’t transfer to any other work.

      It’s the domain knowledge of the systems that commands the high salary of the aging banking developers, not COBOL, each separate one it’s own twisted unique snowflake.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        You make a good point! One year, when I had to drop out of college to earn some money I worked as a C programmer. Part of my job was to take undocumented Fortran programs and convert them into C. Once I understood what the function of the old program was, it was a snap to convert it. Fortran, like C, like COBOL or any other software program, is just a set of logical commands. The trick was understanding WHAT the function of the old program was and how it interrelated with other pieces of software.

        Perhaps the banks themselves no longer understand what their many times modified COBOL programs are supposed to accomplish so how can a programmer, even a COBOL programmer, just jump in and figure it out?

    3. zer0

      I think its more along the lines of “the young” realizing how batshit stupid it is to work in a language that is obsolete, all so that the company doesn’t have to pay to rework the code from scratch, which it should have done decades ago.

      This is a similar problem in CAD software: many (except Solidworks recently) are still using the kernels coded 30 years ago, instead of building it from scratch again to improve the speed. Instead, they simply update the UI to make it look more “modern”. I played around with CAD called TopSolid that was coded recently from the ground up. It was amazing and blew NX, CATIA, and Creo out of the water.

      No one is going back to programming in Assembly or machine code. No one. Its useless in all but the most unique of circumstances, where your coding root level for hardware. For any high-level software, like bank software, there is no need to reinvent the wheel: which in the case of coding, has been reinvented umpteen times already.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        In your first paragraph you implicitly support rewriting large complex software suites with good documentation, using modern languages. In your third paragraph, you inveigh against re-inventing the wheel. If you believe all banking software should be re-written in, say, C++, keep in mind a great deal of wheel-reinvention will go on during the conversion process, like it or no.

        Regarding 3D modeling software still based on antique organization and code structures ……ZOMG, ZOMG, ZOMG. I am struggling with this right now. It’s ridiculous and horrible how much kludged together, initially ill-conceived crap is still standard. It’s not just a speed drag. It’s crashing, it’s the inability to do basic things that would be part of a non-computer modeling work flow, it’s never being sure if the program will work as indicated……

      2. jrs

        maybe they should have middle aged people that have coded in other languages retrain in COBOL, get those 50 somethings and so on, afterall it’s them who have a hard time getting hired in I.T. otherwise due to being seen as too old (ie age discrimination). And if COBOL has no longer term future, well that matters less if one hopes to retire someday sooner rather than later … oh if only people were more able to retire at a decent age! This work until 70+ plan is cr@p.

    4. hunkerdown

      The failure of initiatives to port from COBOL couldn’t be the fault of some of the permissive, and frankly obsolete (i.e. now known to be insane, unsafe, unmaintainable, irrelevant, etc.) constructs used by necessity or convenience in ancient COBOL code, and disallowed by modern languages, just could it? Religions can not fail, only be failed, etc.

      In the half a century plus of software development for critical applications, including highly reliable and highly available systems, we have learned to reason about our programs, not just write and read them. We’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, what’s risky, and elucidated a few of the formerly unknown unknowns. All that is knowledge which was not necessarily known by or available to programmers of past decades.

      For one example, we have assumed the custom that bare constants should almost never be inserted directly into code, and should usually be referenced indirectly through a symbolic name describing the constant’s purpose and meaning. Back in the day, storage capacity and throughput made such verbosity expensive in time and money. Today, all but the loosest, most disposable coding standards demand it, in order that the code can be adapted to future requirements more easily.

      In a similar vein, we have learned that application programmers have no real reason to modify running code from within itself, and that the ability to do so severely restricts the provability of theorems regarding that code. COBOL and M, both popular in financial IT, enable just this sort of thing through the ALTER verb resp. @ indirection. Today, we typically use jump tables and symbolic addresses, except for a few notable warts like database query construction (in cases where the alternative, parametrized queries, is too inflexible or unavailable) and C language programming in general (where pointer manipulation is unremarkable and the alternatives, safe languages that compile to machine code like Go and Rust, are still underripe), both of which warts are common targets for hackers.

      Finally, at the risk of sounding like the back cover of a fantasy novel, there is critical code in production right now to which no living mortal knows the secret has source code, about which code almost nothing can be proven to mathematical satisfaction, not even necessarily consistency with the rest of the system. As hard to port as the aforesaid weird source constructs might be, reverse-engineering from machine code is another layer of hell. It’s easy to wonder how much of the shape of the present-day financial system is determined by a sort of reverse Conway’s Law.

  7. allan

    The Commensal bacteria and essential amino acids control food choice link seems to be broken.
    This one works.

    And in other fruit fly news:

    Drosophila melanogaster—the common fruit fly—is widely used in laboratory experiments because it can provide insights into the biological processes of other, more complex organisms, including humans.

    However, what is seen in fruit flies in the lab may bear little resemblance to what is seen in fruit flies in the wild—especially when it comes to the bacteria found in their intestinal tracts, two University of Rochester researchers and a colleague at Cornell report in Ecology Letters.

    Their findings challenge some widely held assumptions about whether an organism’s diet determines the bacteria likely to be found in its gut. The findings also challenge a recent hypothesis about how this bacterial population should vary among different species. …

    1. polecat

      HeyZeus on a stick ! Maybe these ‘researchers’ should drop their clipboards, an visit that heap of organic matter, often created outside the confines of Academia, also known as a COMPOST PILE, once in a while !!

      Our’s, last year was a virtual Drosophila factory …..

    1. JTMcPhee

      Wrong spelling –“peace” should be “piece,” as in ” piece of the action.” Jared Kushner apparently has “deep ties” to the Corrupticon that rules the Israelites, that “people” which has done so much to teach “our” Imperial leaders the arts of impunity. A few thousand Israelites and their Fifth Column dual-citizenship cognates in the Imperial capital set the course and pick the targets. And many of them don’t even seem to be actually invested, “exposed to risk” as the financial advisers say, in the future and fate of the Jewish state ( their preferred description).

      And what can ordinary mopes do to “de-couple” the US that we live in and die for,from that little parasite, with 400 nuclear weapons, from “our” political economy again? Just invest in Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, eh? “War futures,” thanks to the brain parasite of covetousness and calculation that’s got the world to where it is.

      Retail tactics, Elmer Fudd strategies, Revelation doctrine and dogma…

      1. sid_finster

        Israel is trying very hard to provoke a response so that they can run screaming to their neocon friends and demand immediate regime change.

        Russia is trying very hard not to respond to the provocations. As a result, Israel is behaving more aggressively, in hopes of getting the desired response.

        You see this dynamic in any redneck bar.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The fun part in the bar scenario is when the provocateur gets his (or her) a$$ throughly whipped. What’s the analog for an a$$hole in a bar that happens to have 400 nuclear weapons all deployed and targeted at everything in reach? “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” or “use ’em or lose ’em”?

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Oh great oracle (jtmc)…mayhaps bobo frikynyahoo is just looking to start a skirmish to distract from that little problem known as “case 2000” with noni and adelson and arnon…and there is the money from packer…and his wildebeest partner, sara, who has turned the public trough into her own private bank…and then “case 1000″…
            & that money from mimran…

            Yup…that former regular on nightline sure knows how to sacrifice for his homeland…he is ready to sacrifice the lives of young israelis to stay in power and not be indicted…

            and the darkness continues…

  8. kimyo

    Higher sodium intake associated with lower blood pressure. You read that right.

    Consuming fewer than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily is actually associated with higher blood pressure, according to the Framingham Offspring Study report, given today. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, equal to a teaspoon of ordinary iodized table salt.

    High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Hence, lowering salt intake is supposed to lower blood pressure and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. But the study found that supposition to be unfounded.

    Moreover, the lowest blood pressure was recorded by those who consumed 4,000 milligrams or more a day — amounts considered dangerously high by medical authorities such as the American Heart Association.

    1. cojo

      Don’t go out and buy a salt brick just yet…
      From author, Lynn Moore,

      “There’s been consequently a lot of controversy over the last five or six years over this topic, but there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the relationship between sodium and cardiovascular disease is actually J-shaped.”

      Moore was referring to a pattern in which an extremely low level of the substance being measured produces a higher risk, which falls to a plateau and then rises again at the higher extreme.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, one of the stupider nostrums of science (one I’ve heard many times from people who should know better), is that ‘the dose equals the poison’. In reality, the manner in which a vast range of compounds we ingest are processed within our bodies are very complex with multiple feedbacks. Sometimes (as with hormone-mimicking compounds), very small doses might be more toxic than high doses, because the body is less able to respond to the stimulus. With something like salt its entirely possible that there is a narrow range which is healthy, with consumption above or below that unhealthy.

        1. a different chris

          Good reply, but your last sentence: the evidence seems that being in the middle is unhealthy. Like a dead skunk, I guess.

        2. Jeotsu

          Oxygen being a great example.

          Too little? Go blue and fall over?

          Too much for too long? Not very good, either. 100% O2 is good for critical care patients, but it will mess you up in the long term. Oxygen is quite toxic. That is shy our blood is full of SOD- superoxide dismutase. Its what my the hydrogen peroxide bubble in your wounds.

          Oxygen is both vital for our type of multicellular life, while simultaneously being quite toxic to it. Life is full of fun contradictions!

      2. kimyo

        she should have said ‘reverse j’. low sodium levels are quite deadly. and, as she reported, those with the highest levels had the lowest blood pressure, so the threshold for the uptick is probably way past any typical human level of consumption.

        in any case, i wonder how many years it will be before i can wander through a supermarket without seeing zillions of labels reading ‘low sodium’ or ‘cholesterol-free’ on every single shelf.

        1. Harold

          Hyponatremia –low sodium— is in fact quite deadly and can be caused by many things.

          It is an established fact that people in places where they consume large quantities of salt have higher rates of stroke and people in places where they consume little excess salt have low rates. The point is not to tell people to kill themselves by omitting all salt, but that the the amounts of sodium in processed foods are hugely excessive. This does not mean that high salt diets cause stroke in everyone. We could reduced the rate of death from stroke appreciably by lowering the salt in processed food (such as bread) by 5 percent, which would hardly be noticeable to consumers. Besides, highly salted foods increase appetite and, in our conditions of overabundance, contribute to obesity.

        2. Procopius

          I remember reading many years ago, probably in Analog Science Fiction Magazine, a column by Isaac Asimov, who pointed out that, in fact, cholesterol is absolutely essential to us, so much so that our bodies create all the cholesterol we need. He explained that the medical reasoning for low-cholesterol diets was that, because our bodies create all the cholesterol we need from vegetables, we are taking a risk by eating meat with large additional amounts of cholesterol. He seems to have been unaware of an experiment by some jamoke back in the ’30s, who wanted to point out that the Inuit, who have very little carbohydrate available during about half the year, and for a full year ate nothing but whale or seal blubber. At the end of the year his blood cholesterol was no higher that at the beginning.

  9. Pat

    The comments on the Crooked Timber link are almost equally split between “hustler” and “stop picking on Barack”. It is interesting seeing the pretzels the latter group twist to make that argument. My favorite was he had the worst job in earth for eight years and deserves everything he can get. Someone pointed out no one forced him into that job and then it became “voluntarily” with no recognition that the post job ” rewards ” could be why he volunteered, IOW inadvertently making the argument for hustle.

    1. Adamski

      I don’t see these speaking fees as kickbacks for his policies in office, 400 grand is still small change to Obama. Not corruption, just greed. That said, why not 225 grand and why anything much? Suppose it’s because he’s still so powerful in the party, what with him installing Perez over Ellison at the last minute.

        1. John k

          Are you sure? Maybe it’s what he asked. Or maybe had to be more than what she got.
          Most interesting is not a one time payment but the stream over time… bill got 100 mil… surely big o should do better? Stood between them and pitch forks? You do know what a pitchfork can do, right? Plus sixteen years of inflation.
          My over under over time is 200, just 199.6 to go.

          1. Procopius

            I’m pretty sure he has an agent, some speakers’ agency, that goes out and hustles up speaking dates for him, and also negotiates the fees. He probably doesn’t even ask, he just knows he’s going to be well paid. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear what other perquisites they demand for him. I remember one of Sarah Palin’s contracts at one of the California Universities got leaked and it was hilarious. I think it specified some rare and expensive mineral water be provided in an absurd quantity, two stretch limousines, stuff like that.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I wouldn’t put underestimate the importance to the elites of not just providing payments for services provided, but ensuring that they are overt and deliberately provocative. Paying bribes is just so lower class. Providing an ‘understanding’ that politicians who play the game can be guaranteed multi-million dollar book advances for books nobody wants to read, giant speaking fees for speeches that say nothing new, and seats on committees that pay 6 figure salaries for one afternoons work a month is the best way to ensure that all politicians know exactly who’s side they need to be on to ensure a good pension.

      2. voteforno6

        The $400K also sends a message to current office holders about their future prospects, as long as they play ball.

      3. Pat

        What is Barack Obama going to say in a speech of an hour or even less that is going to be worth $400,000 to…well…anyone? What insights can he give traders that are worth $8000 or more a minute?

        Can any publisher really sell enough books of his collected wisdom to turn a profit after paying him over 20 million dollars? And the same for one by his wife?

        The last decades have been all about take care of us while you are in office, when we are limited in what we can give to campaigns, and we’ll make sure you are taken care of when you are out of office. Think about what you said, that a payday for one hour’s work that is almost twice his annual salary as President is ‘small change’. Not because he was so rich when entering office, although the books have been lucrative, but because of his opportunities for even greater book deals and more speeches. He is not getting his reward in heaven, he is getting it now. And it isn’t from the gods.

      4. RUKidding

        I call it both greed and corruption.

        The system is corrupt from start to finish.

        What, indeed, can Obama say to Goldman SUCKS parasites that’s worth $400K? Sure, it’s chump change to Goldman SUCKS. Why? Because their water-carrier, Obama, kept them outta jail. So it’s cheap pay-back for services rendered while Obama was “in office” (in office for whose sake is the question. Certainly not for MY sake or YOURs).

        And don’t you worry… this is just the very beginning of all the pay-back graft, grift and payola that the vaunted, Sainted, much Haloed, Peace Prize Drone King Obomba will get. There will be more. Much much more.

        After all, he’s got TWO daughters to marry off to some US nobility at multi-million dollar weddings. Do you think that kind of dough-si-dough grows on trees?

        Taking bets now on the type of “jobs” that Sasha and Malia’s future spouses have. Hedge Funders? Goldman Sacks boys? PE?

        1. Vatch

          Obama’s speech will be at an event sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, not Goldman Sachs. He doesn’t have any Goldman Sachs speeches scheduled (yet). Soon, probably, but not yet.

            1. Procopius

              Your general principle is correct, but they may have learned enough by now to understand how provocative the optics would be. Probably not, though.

  10. Bunk McNulty

    The Three Hot Trends In Silicon Valley Horsesh!t (Medium)


    For tenants, RentBerry offers… well, the opportunity to pay more in a pre-existing housing crisis, the chance to make the process of finding an apartment an even more horrific exercise in stress and disappointment, a reason to hate faceless strangers with even more intensity, and more reason to view city life as a ceaseless Nietzschean struggle from which they will never escape. What RentBerry gets in return is, eventually, a % of your already hideously overpriced rent, for the duration of the lease. I bet you can’t wait to know a portion of your rent check is going not just to the landlord you hate but also to a company that did nothing beyond giving him the ability to take more of your money! Of course, if you live in New York, your “landlord” might very well be a hedge fund that also funded RentBerry! Sweet, right?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Bonus points to Quip for emphasizing simplicity while hawking a product that employs an engineering team to innovate the concept of a brush.

      What a great sentence. Pretty hard not to envision the hilarity that’s going to ensue when future historians write this one up. And “juicero.” And fake muddy jeans.

      “How the hell did they never see it comin’………”

  11. MightyMike

    That article about Chrystia Freeland is just some incoherent rambling. I can’t see why it is linked to here. She lied about things that her grandfather did twenty years before she was born. I don’t why Amercians would care about that.

    1. JEHR

      I don’t pretend to know the answer to why it was written but I took it to mean something about the dark side of Canadian culture. See my comment below.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think it was possibly partly about the dark side of small town Canadian culture, but I think to understand his broader points you need to have read his other writings on Freeland. In short, he has argued that her frequent lies about her knowledge of her families nazi past suggest that she may be knowingly part of a far right nationalist Ukranian splinter interest group who is using her position to further extremist policies in the Ukraine which have absolutely nothing to do with Canada’s best interests.

        Whether that is true or not, I have no idea. I wonder sometimes about his writings – its refreshing sometimes to read pro-Russian writers like Helmer to provide a counterbalance to the ridiculous anti-Russian bias of the MSM, but that doesn’t mean he is right. Some of his blog is well informed, some of it is a bit too tinfoil hattish for my taste.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          His name was hanz…first paperclipper I came across in my life…he came along with the lease from the nyc on what was a parking lot at the very end of harlem river drive…it had a marina type set up on the east river…there is a school there now…was not “allowed” to remove him…

          Then there was the gentleman in ukranian village in Chicago with the closed down paint factory…and of course the general mihailovic society sitting in the middle of a no mans land in lawndale in Chicago…and that strange pavlovic fellow and his basement swimming pool…

          If you imagine the gnatzees and their friends decided to give up their ways in the ten days between april 30th and may 10th…I have a few bridges to sell you…

          Just because they wear black suits with their black boots today, does not change who they are…the events of 1933 in germany were not a 24 hour virus…

          And I dont see helmer as pro russian…unless you mean he does not hate the average russian citizens…I dont hate the average german citizen…dated a few female ones along the way…white russians and Bolsheviks have never had any interest in doing anything other than pillaging the average russian…as schaeuble could care less about the mess he is leaving for future german generations to pay for…

        2. MightyMike

          I’m pretty sure that Canadian involvement in supporting Ukraine in its current conflict with Russia started under the previous prime minister, the Conservative Stephen Harper. The fact that there is large population of Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry no doubt influenced Harper’s decision to get involved. Regarding Freeland, I saw something that she wrote in which she stated that it’s probably not possible for Ukraine to get the Crimea back. That sounds pretty sensible, not far right or extremist.

          For a lot of Russians WW2 is something that happened recently. They remember that many Ukrainians embraced the German invaders back then. Now some Ukrainians want to move out of Russia’s orbit and become part of the West by joining the EU. The most influential member of the EU happens to be Germany. Putin doesn’t like the idea a big country that he wants to keep in Russia’s sphere if influence falling under Germany’s influence. Of course, that’s similar to America’s attitude regarding the whole western hemisphere. We call it the Monroe Doctrine.

          One of the Western countries playing a leading role in helping Ukraine defend itself from Russia is Canada. From a Russian point of view, it’s a great propaganda coup to find out that the woman in charge of Canada’s foreign policy had a Ukrainian grandfather who collaborated with the Nazis. From my point of view it’s much ado about nothing.

          1. Olga

            Or – one could just take all this as another piece in learning about historical context to current events. (One reason Americans are sooo very gullible is because most lack knowledge about history – and so have no way independently to judge whether news they read today are (or can be) accurate.)
            Helmer knows Freeland well – and so he can write about her; she is Canada’s FM (a post for which her qualifications are quite thin); her worldview was obviously framed by (misplaced) Ukrainian nationalism; her family co-operated with the Nazis (a fact she has lied about); during WWII, many Ukr. welcomed Hitler’s soldiers – and they actively fought against other Soviet citizens (just talk to older Belorussians – they’ll tell you that Ukr. were more cruel than the Nazis); after the war, there was significant Ukr. immigration to Canada – of particularly the Ukr. fascists; it is estimated that there are about 1 million people of Ukr. descent in Canada (a significant voting bloc; OBVIOUSLY – today, not all (or even many) fascist-linked); there have been reports that Canada (not only) actively supported neo-Nazi groups in Ukr. in the 40s-50s (and btw, their war against the Soviet Union continued even after 1945); the Ukr. coup d’etat in 2014 came about with the help of Ukr. neo-Nazis, who hate Russia; the situation now threatens the security of Europe.
            And the biggest irony of it all? There would be no modern Ukraine if it were not for the Bolsheviks and Stalin – who created its modern borders (in a very complex process that tried to balance nationalities, workers and farmers, and USSR’s international ambitions – to name just a few considerations). (One more tid-bit – Hapsburgs encouraged development of the Ukr. language (which was really just a dialect still in the 19th cent.) – as part of their ‘divide-and-conquer’ strategy.)

            1. MightyMike

              You essentially restated what I wrote with more words. You appear to think that Freeland should be held responsible for the actions of her grandfather and that Russia has some sort of right to dominate Ukraine. Even if some people in Kiev happen to be “neo-Nazis”, that doesn’t justify aggression against Ukraine. Of course, Nazi is a somewhat strange term to use, given Hitler’s attitudes regarding Slavic people.

              1. alex morfesis

                even if some are “neo-nazis”…wowzers…the person I am named for did not have any children and his sister, my grandmother, insisted on my being named so…oh…he was not liked much by the italians nor the germans on ithaki, during that little gnatzee thingee…

                he, i am told, would ignore the order to let certain people starve for not being “cooperative” and would arrange for food to be delivered to them…my dad told me of being sent out as a child with a grenade while making such deliveries to deal with any gnatzees in the middle of the night who might not like the idea of the “officially declared” not being starved to death…

                once they found my namesake was behind keeping certain people from starving, it was decided that instead of just killing him, they might inject him with two illnesses…each needing therapy which would hasten the other…nice folks them gnatzees…for some beyond russians, ww2 also seems like yesterday…because it is…the war never ended…russia and japan have still not signed a peace treaty…

                the world has not “stood down” since July 17, 1936 (or september 18, 1931)…

                and germany has technically not signed a peace treaty with most of the european countries it invaded…

                the two plus four had to do with giving back control of germany to a united germany…it never invaded england, it only officially took part of france (viva la vichy) and russia got its piece of revenge along the way…

                the gnatzees are still at war with humanity…they never surrendered…they just moved along…

  12. jfleni

    RE: UK Parliament fails to tackle financial secrecy in its overseas territories

    How can they? That is the root and branch of their “Swindle The Peasants” operation!

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      I am reading Louis Theroux’s Deep South and have visited the south and other places off the beaten track / in fly over in the past thirty years. These forgotten, deplorable even, regions, too, could do with some populism.

      I am tempted to send the book to HRC after I have read it.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      And what I am here to say is that the Midwest is not an exotic place. It isn’t a benighted region of unknowable people and mysterious urges. It isn’t backward or hopelessly superstitious or hostile to learning. It is solid, familiar, ordinary America, and Democrats can have no excuse for not seeing the wave of heartland rage that swamped them last November.

      Another thing that is inexcusable from Democrats: surprise at the economic disasters that have befallen the Midwestern cities and states that they used to represent.

      I’m always curious about what goes through democrat leadership’s mind when they read statements like this. They must know that Thomas Frank and Jimmy Dore and Bernie are onto them. Do they really think they can wait this out? That Tom Perez or Howard Dean is the secret weapon that will turn this situation around? That barack can juke his way back into the hearts and minds of the disaffected deplorables and preacherize them back into the fold? That death by opioid will tip the demographics back in their favor?

      They must, at least, be aware of what’s going on, since it would appear that smilin’ joe biden has been placed on the disabled list. I just don’t get it.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          joe biden is routinely trotted out as the democrat’s ace in the labor hole. He purportedly speaks their language. He has a reputation of having bootstrapped his way up from genu-inely dirty jeans to a successful career in public service, complete with expensive suits, hair plugs and a mouthful of capped teeth that enable him to speak out of both sides of his mouth.

          The disabled list is a sports reference to the fact that he has played no part, so far, in the democrats’ effort at rehabilitation. I would have expected him to be front and center since the industrial Midwest is generally considered his bailiwick, so I am suggesting he has been benched due to injury which, in this case, might be that no one believes his bullshit any more.

        2. voteforno6

          I think it means that he can’t be called back up to the majors for a minimum of ten days.

      1. sid_finster

        As long as Team D can keep the grift going a little while longer, I don’t think that they care.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        It may be that they are taking a leaf out of the private equity playbook. Take a well known and respected brand, then squeeze every cent out of its value for the few years it takes for the customers to realise they are buying rubbish, and walk away at the very last moment.

        As for many of the footsoldiers, I would never underestimate just how out of touch many urban dwelling professionals are. Its not that they are cynical or uncaring, but they quite literally have no idea what life is like if you have few skills living in a declining town. They are not a majority, but there is a very substantial minority of people who are living in sealed off bubble and who genuinely think they are progressive and open minded because they support the liberal cause du jour and buy organic quinoa. And this minority are the wealthiest and most influential cohort outside the 0.1% who own everything.

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        Agreeing with PK, I wouldn’t be so sure that the Dems get it at all. Even out here in flyover, the geographical sorting is unbelievable. One big point that I think has been underemphasized is how most self-identified Dems now view their party as the party of the smart people – with the other party being the party of Trump, Scott Walker, W, deplorables, etc. Combined with the sorting, this leads to a situation where everyone one knows and associates with is smart, successful in the meritocracy, and culturally tolerant (of other smart, successful people of any race, gender, ethnicity, etc.). Kind of by definition, smart, interesting people don’t live “out there.” In fact, virtually everyone among said group with whom I talk cannot understand why anyone in their right mind would want to live “out there.” (To be fair, several including my spouse grew up out there and know of which they speak.)

        If one combines this with some simple understandings of money-based politics in a capitalist society (political parties cater to the interests that fund them, smart people in a meritocracy believe they should make good money, capitalism is not by definition bad – we just need to make sure to constrain its worst impulses, etc.), it isn’t hard to imagine the Dems continuing on the same path indefinitely.

      4. polecat

        They may see, but they don’t care. They’re grabbing as much grift as their tiny hands can grab hold of, just like their counterparts in the (((WhiteHouse))) !

        1. forgotmynick

          Flagging the moderators. The ((())) is dog whistle anti-semitism. Do we really have to put up with this sort of thing here?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            AFAIK, the “((())),” originally a right wing meme, was ironically adopted by some Twitterati as an “I am Spartacus” form of virtue signaling.

            It would probably be best for all not to participate in the silliness.

            1. forgotmynick

              I think by what you are referring to as virtue signalling you probably mean the adoption of the ((())) in twitter usernames. The above comment however seems to be very easy to read as “the Jews control the white house” and I don’t see how it could be plausibly read as an instance of ironic adoption.

                1. different clue

                  I’ve only seen it around a ((( likely jewname ))). I’ve never seen it used in any other way in any other context. I’ve certainly never seen it around a ((( likely gentile name ))). So I would assume that’s what it means.

      5. Toolate

        Mostly they are so impossibly wrapped up in their own anxieties and fears that they have no time nor desire to begin to understand the plight of others except as in the case of keeping up with the Joneses.

      6. Swamp Yankee

        Katniss, I think they (elite Democrats) are actually that deluded — they believed their own propaganda for so long, they really don’t think anything is fundamentally wrong. When I was still on social media, these people were many of my “friends” (read: acquaintances from college and high school, etc.), and they, while very credentialed, are quite dense when it comes to the real world. They’ve also been trained in a Pavlovian fashion all their little careerist lives to hew to the ideological line, so thinking outside the official ideology is often impossible for them (I remember one, in 2004, who later became an Obama bagman, looking at me like I had three heads when I told him I was a New Dealer).

        Don’t forget, also, the powerful effect of consuming only Borgist/Blob/Neolib media for years on end, never meeting anyone who makes less than $80,000/year who isn’t their servant, etc. Antonio Gramsci called it “hegemony”, the full cultural, intellectual, moral effect of capitalism, on its ruling classes not least of all.

        In other words, I don’t think they are in fact aware of what’s going on. They are really just patricians — they care more about Trump ordering a well-done steak — quelle horreur! — than they do about the immiseration of the country and the destruction of the plebeians.

        It reminds me of a wonderful term I learned in that recent article about the metropolisation of France, the French 10%ers who consider themselves, despite all their policies, somehow “on the left”; the wags have called them “le gauche hashtag.” Quite right. Beyond the immediate questions of electoral results, in the medium term, the decisive defeat of this faction of liberal capitalists is crucial so that a true Left alternative can arise; otherwise, we will continue to see repetitions of the patterns of 2016, and the strengthening of right-wing elements on both sides of the Atlantic.

        (For the record, I think Sanders, in taking his case to the People directly, has it exactly correct.)

        1. montanamaven

          I’ve asked my le gauche hashtags to stop posting on social media and the ones in LA to work for California’s single payer bill. Stop trying to get Trump impeached and work for something. Or maybe just keep quiet.

          1. Massinissa

            I don’t understand why the ‘IMPEACH TRUMP’ people don’t realize that if they impeached trump they would get President Pence instead…

            And if they managed to somehow impeach Pence afterwards, I think the Senate Majority Leader is next for the presidency, so that would mean… President Mitch McConnel.

            What a waste of time impeachment would be. The rest of the Republicans aren’t any better than Trump is.

      7. John k

        Dem fond hope is that trump is/ will be so bad that voters will once again see the dems as lesser evil. Just continue following donor orders, crush progressives, and pretty soon the bad dream will be over.
        While waiting pretend to support single payer higher wage knowing can’t pass the rep congress. Never ever, of course.

        Patience, dem elites, the deplorables will return on their knees, begging us to rule again with our neolib enlightenment. We just need somebody a little younger, no offense, Hillary… chelsea’s looking pretty good, isn’t she, on her European tour? Getting great foreign policy experience while showing the flag and supporting ME regime change… Fab genes… Say senator in 2018…

    3. mcdee

      Frank writes of how people are …”frustrated beyond words about the stupidity of the (Democratic) party’s leadership.”

      I received in the mail yesterday the third “Official 2017 Democratic Party Survey” that I have received this year. I sent back the other two with scathing comments and a request to be removed from the mailing list. This one will get the same treatment.

      It’s amazing. The Personal Priorities section has a number of issues to check off. First on the list is “Ensuring that our democracy is free from Russian interference.” In the section “Which international issues are most important to you?” First on the list is “Russian intervention in Europe and increasing global influence.”

      Simply incredible.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Russian interference meme has receded tremendously in the national news since the Potemkin Tomahawk Syrian job.

        Not sure why the D operatives still insist on the plan.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Russian interference meme has receded tremendously in the national news since the Potemkin Tomahawk Syrian job.

        Not sure why the D operatives still insist on the plan.

  13. jefemt

    Antidote pic of mantis/ orchid is breathtakingly astoundingly wonderful. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. crittermom

      Agree! I hadn’t know praying mantis come in that color. All of that which appears to be an Orchid is actually the bug, isn’t it?
      Ain’t nature grand!

    2. polecat

      Insects are often the terrestrial equivalent to squid and octopus, and can change color, although not as rapidly, to suit their environment.

      very cool mantid …

  14. justanotherprogressive

    Sigh, North Korea…..
    I recently watched a video about the Stasi and how they managed to convince Russia that despite Reagan’s warmongering and the NATO exercises in Europe, that no, the West was NOT planning to invade Russia. We have the Stasi to thank for the fact that we didn’t end up in war in the 1980’s. And then I am reminded about how JFK managed to deescalate the tensions between Russia and the US back in 1962 after he and Russia had spent weeks ramping up the tensions…..

    What I fear is that we have no one now who can perform that function…..perhaps there are saner heads in our top military leadership…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We’re all cats in the box – no one knew during the Cuban Missile Crisis how it would end.

      We don’t know either today how this one will play out.

      But once you’ve opened the box, you will know what kind of cats we are.

    2. Procopius

      I was hoping for that “saner heads in our top military leadership…” when I read about Mattis and McMaster being selected. Since then I’ve read about their commitment to Israel, and figure we’re doomed.

  15. human

    The Looting Machine Called Capitalism

    It is depressing that one as intellectually inquisitive as PCR is just now writing about this. As Rosa Luxemburg said, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

    Praise Zeus that more will recognize the cost of externalities.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Today, we can all move about as much as we want.

      Still, we are going nowhere (good or nice).

    2. Massinissa

      Just now writing about this? But hasn’t he been talking about stuff like this for a decade now?

  16. s.n.

    two worth skimming:
    Fear and Loathing in Turkey
    The Backstory to Erdoğan’s Referendum
    “…. Erdoğan is the poster child of a new genre of world leaders who embody a major shift toward the decline of democracies. The leaders in this genre give voice to some fierce, deeply rooted resentment. In the US, it is the once dominant white conservative plurality’s indignation at the dislocations of global capitalism; in Turkey, it is the historical alienation of the conservative-religious masses, who felt excluded from key institutions, as well as the decisions and benefits of the secular, Westernized regime. In the eyes of this restless base, the AKP governments have restored freedom of religion (for instance, ending the ban on headscarves in public-sector workplaces), delivered enviable economic growth that elevated their constituents’ social and financial standing, and made Turkey a big player in the region. This last effort, by opening up Middle Eastern markets, also serves the wellbeing of the rising conservative middle classes….”

    and naxalites,still at it after exactly 50 years:
    Who are India’s Maoist rebels?
    “….Their exact numbers are not known but various estimates put PLGA strength between 8,000 and 10,000. The total Maoist cadres across the country varies from 10,000 to 15,000, even as high as 25,000…..Their presence has considerably gone down from nearly 200 districts across 20 states until a decade ago to 106 districts across 10 states. The states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar are considered severely affected. Maoists are also present in the states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh…”

    1. Massinissa

      Naxalites have been in serious decline the last decade though. Wikipedia has some good maps on their decline. Still theyre able to pull off some crazy stunts now and again. IIRC just a couple years ago they attacked a major government military convoy in order to kill a couple important politicians

      1. different clue

        If the Modi government drives anti-tribal forest and other indigenous villager land-development fast-forward hard enough, the Modi government will drive the indigenous tribes of India right back to Naxalism all over again.

  17. JohnnyGL

    RE: NYT and Kushner business connections

    Holy crap, the NYT did actual research and real reporting?!!??! The phrase “anonymous sources” doesn’t appear anywhere in the article.

    How did this writer, Jessie Drucker, make it through the hiring process????

    1. John k

      It’s all about Resistance. Let’s see an expose on the Clinton foundation before celebrating the return of journalism at that gray hag.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope they don’t promise money will go to education and then take it out.

      That’s like ‘stealthing’ that was mentioned in one of the links yesterday.

  18. Altandmain

    If Progressives Don’t Wake Up To How Awful Obama Was, Their Movement Will Fail

    Pretty good article by Caitlin Johnson.

    Oh and in regards to the oil spill in North Dakota:
    Feds Say It’s Too Dangerous To Share Dakota Access Oil Spill Report

    Gee …. I wonder why the Native Americans did not want a pipeline there.

    1. crittermom

      Great links. Thanks.
      Remember the Dakota pipeline was originally supposed to go near a big city, but those citizens were in opposition to it for the same reasons the Native Americans are. (So they dumped it on those citizens they care the least about).

      Regarding Obummer, I totally agree with what the author says.
      While I never supported him, my view quickly turned to extreme hatred long ago upon losing my beloved home to the banksters under Obummer’s HAMP (Hellbent At Making Profits–for the banks).

      I continue to wonder who the hell can replace Bernie (if he doesn’t run again)?
      The so-called ‘choices’ forced upon us this last election were ridiculous, absurd, disgusting…

      I want my country back!

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Solidarity, crittermom! Your comment struck a chord with me, as the Banksters stole my house, too, back in the 90s; they are absolute criminals and we must resist them with our utmost strength.

        People are getting together, though, getting organized, like Woody Guthrie said — I’ve been hearing quite revolutionary things from Old WASPS here in P_____, Mass., things I would never have expected ten years ago, so I am cautiously optimistic. Plus I see young people who would have been liberal goodthinkers ten or fifteen years ago becoming honest-to-God democratic socialists, and I take heart. Comment sections like this one are also great, esp. to know that we are not alone in our views.

        I agree with you — let’s take our country back!

        I think we can do it.

        1. crittermom

          I continue to check the Sigtarp website now & then.
          Chase stole my home. Note on how page 70 that 84% of us were denied (no doubt after making those HAMP pymts for a full year, like me) while dealing with Chase.
          While they are supposedly ‘getting better’, that sure hasn’t helped us one tiny bit, has it?
          Here’s the latest report…

          At the beginning of the report, they list those banksters punished for their crimes of illegal greed, yet sadly, none of the big banksters are on it.
          Instead, we have someone like Jamie Dimon advising Trump.
          Aw, hell no!

          Hopefully, more people are waking up to the reality of our govt.
          It should have started with the 8 million who’ve already lost their homes, but I’ve found as I tell my story to others, most are completely, totally unaware of how many were harmed. They are absolutely clueless that it even took place.
          THAT still amazes me, that so many are uniformed.
          They must be just listening to MSM.

          As a result, I’ve recommended NC to many people, to get the ‘real’ news.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              If so, an apt one! Thanks very much for the link above!

              But to your larger point, I couldn’t agree more. There have been massive crimes committed against The People that have been deliberately hidden from us.

              But, more and more people are waking up, I hope.

    2. RUKidding

      Sadly progressives are clinging and grasping to staying profoundly and indefinitely ASLEEP and refusing outright to ever AWAKEN to how appalling and abysmally awful Obama was, is and no doubt will continue to be.

      There are websites that I no longer visit bc the merest mention that Obama may not be all that and bag of chips ends up with a giant Pile On of commenters ranting about traitors and similar with urgent reminders about Trump is So. Much. WORSE!!!!111111111!!!!!1111!!!!!!

      I loathe and detest Trump, but I also loathe and detest Obama.

      The rationalizations going on now about Obama’s $400k speaking fee to Goldman Sacks is just nauseating.

      Wake up sheeples….

    3. different clue

      But if the progressives DO wake up to how awful Obama was, then they will lose the Black Vote for many decades to come. So that is a choice that the progressives will be forced to make rather than get to keep dodging.

  19. Vatch

    This looks promising: Nancy Pelosi has a Democratic primary challenger.

    San Francisco attorney Stephen R. Jaffe is a lifelong Democrat and he intends to do what no Democrat has been able to do so far: make it to a runoff election against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    Jaffe, 71, is an employment attorney who became a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign last year.

    “I was a pretty hard-core Bernie supporter,” said Jaffe, who gave money to the campaign and volunteered during the Nevada caucuses. He was one of two attorneys who filed for an injunction on behalf of Sanders supporters in the California primary, requesting “re-votes” and an extension of the voter registration deadline. (The request was denied.)

    Jaffe said he was “devastated” by Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the primary season and that Sanders, in part, inspired him to run. He says he supports single-payer healthcare and criticized Pelosi for raising money from corporations and special interests.

      1. Liberal Mole

        Schumer is a jerk but not quite as stupid as other democrats and is grabbing onto Bernie for all he’s worth. I joined a local group of Berniecrats now involving themselves with local and state issues, and there is no talk about primarying our congressional senators. We have an evil bunch of “Independent” Democrats in our state senate that we need to primary out. They are about 8 traitorous Dems that caucus with the Republicans and (to our rotten Gov’s delight) prevent anything remotely progressive from passing the State Senate. Loathsome creatures…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He’s too smart to be stupid.

          From his powerful position, he will scheme, using Sanders, to become even more powerful.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He’s too smart to be stupid.

          From his powerful position, he will scheme, using Sanders, to become even more powerful.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Schumer seems to see which way the winds are blowing, and adjust accordingly. He’s a snake, but maybe he’s flexible enough.

        DiFi and Pelosi are blatantly obstructing progress. They’re openly defying the calls for Medicare-for-all. Those two are nice, juicy targets who are still seen as top level power-brokers. Somehow Pelosi still holds the whip-hand among the House Dems. If we can make examples of those two, the others will rapidly fall into line.

        Also, speaking of which way winds are blowing, check this out…

        Insulting Obama was like insulting Jesus himself among Dems only six months ago. Something is changing.

        1. Vatch

          Sen. Dianne Feinstein is 83 years old. She’ll be up for reelection in 2018, but will she run? Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, is only 77 years old.

          That’s good news about Sen. Warren expressing concern over Obama’s speaking fee. The scales may start to fall from people’s eyes about The One’s questionable ethics.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That makes Schumer even more effective, I believe.

          And the number one person, the top priority, to challenge.

          1. Vatch

            I’m not convinced. Sure, Schumer is an opportunist, but if he really changes his behavior, it makes sense to reward him. It’s still too soon to know whether he has really changed his stripes. Anyhow, he won’t be up for reelection until 2022.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Ooh, possibly some fresh new blood injected into the sclerotic Democrat party – at only 71 he’s a comparative youngster! Wonder what the Vegas odds are on either of them dying of old age before the election?

      I shouldn’t be so cynical and pretty much anyone would be better than Pelosi, but isn’t there anyone south of 60 who might be interested in public office?

      1. a different chris

        To be fair, an upper class white guy (assuming white?) from California has a pretty stunning life expectancy.

  20. montanamaven

    Yesterday I had a “discussion” with a Democrat friend who supported Bernie then Hillary. She was “totally” sure that Russia had timed the released of Podesta and DNC emails to hurt Hillary. In the course of the conversation I told her about Crimea being part of Russia until Krushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954. She knew nothing about the coup in Kiev or the Kiev fascists issuing statements about banning the Russian language and setting fire to a bunch of trade unionists in Odessa which had made the Crimeans more than a little nervous and how they voted overwhelming to go back to being part of Russia. “But Putin kills lots of Russians,” was her answer. When I said that I thought she should stay away from reading or believing most anything in the NY Times, Washington Post, she said, “Speaking of the Media, did you see the Politico article on the Media Bubble?” She found it interesting. I found it vapid and more of what I was trying to explain to her was happening in the media i.e. articles that detract the reader from what’s really going on. This article contends that the media got the election wrong because it is concentrated in a few urban areas and that reporters can’t help reporting from this bubble. It pooh poohs the idea that many in the media were actually on Hillary’s (the establishment) side and doesn’t mention the Politico reporter who wrote to Podesta:

    “No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u,” Thrush wrote to Podesta in an April, 2015 email. “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I fucked up anything.”

    Another reason that there is not bias in the media, the article contends, is that they were critical of her e-mails. I said that’s the way propaganda works. You have articles that are critical but in general you get the really important points to stick like “the Russians did it and the heartland is filled with misogynists and racists.
    Am I wrong? or not explaining it right?

    1. RUKidding

      You’re not wrong.

      I don’t know how to explain it any better, either.

      Most D voters are clueless about so much that goes on, but one has to be dedicated to following a variety of sources on the Internet. Staying away from TV and radio also does wonders, but I’m one of the few people I know who does that.

    2. Carolinian

      There once was a time called the 1950s when conformity reigned supreme and relentless propaganda kept most of the public politically docile and convinced of external threats. We seem to be living through a similar period even though circumstances are quite different since the US isn’t the economically dominant force it was then. Instead of Ike we have Trump…the second time as farce a it were (not that one should take Ike too seriously either). Vietnam was eventually the comeuppance for the first Cold War. What will it be this time?….

      1. Massinissa

        At least the 50s were ok for working class white people.

        At the moment the current decade isn’t good for working class anybody, and becoming less and less ok for what used to be the ‘middle class’ to boot.

    3. John k

      Maybe focus on corruption, how both parties share the same donors, and how all corps and their minions in congress join together to push down wages in pursuit of ever higher profits.
      Ask her if she expected big o to jump in the trough after leaving office? Or what she thought of the ‘never, ever’ statement?

    4. Vatch

      setting fire to a bunch of trade unionists in Odessa which had made the Crimeans more than a little nervous and how they voted overwhelming to go back to being part of Russia.

      The horrible fire occurred on May 2, about 6 weeks after the election and annexation of Crimea by Russia, so the fire could not have had an effect on anyone’s vote.

  21. JimTan

    “The White House Unveiled a Tax Reform Plan. It’s Not Really a Plan”

    One potential windfall for the super wealthy in this Tax Proposal which is not being discussed is its suggested Tax Holiday on overseas profits. In 2004 we had a Tax Holiday which allowed companies to unconditionally repatriate $362 billion back to the U.S. while paying only a 5.25% tax rate. Companies paid most of these post tax proceeds to shareholders as special dividends and share buybacks. Repeating a Tax Holiday unconditionally would be a significant gift to the super wealthy who have much of their assets in these shares.

    To illustrate just how much, in 2004 Microsoft paid a one-time dividend to shareholders with their repatriated profits totaling $32 billion. Bill Gates their largest shareholder received $3.3 billion of this amount (which he donated to his charitable foundation), and his deputy Steve Ballmer received $1.2 billion. That same year the maximum tax rate for dividends was reduced to 15% (from 35%) so stockholders would’t be too burdened by personal taxes on this windfall. A Tax Holiday this year would allow companies to unconditionally repatriate $2.5 trillion back to the U.S. while paying some similarly minimum tax rate. The unrepatriated profits of Apple and Pfizer alone would exceed the entire amount repatriated by all companies in 2004. This would be a multi-trillion dollar payday for the largest stockholders of the largest firms in the U.S. The largest shareholders who in some cases approved dubious tax strategies which accumulated these unrepatriated profits would now be able to personally collect a share of these amounts. Lawmakers would be wise to attach conditions to any Tax Holiday that require reinvestment of repatriated profits back into this economy, and restrict cash dividends which simply provide an outrageous windfall to the few.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There has to be a stick to back up the carrot; otherwise, they just keep their money overseas, like they are doing now, status quo.

      The stick could be a requirement to report money parked overseas and to tax that money whether they bring it back or not.

    1. different clue

      But this offense was committed in service to the Establishment’s “Assad Must Go” Prime Directive. Therefor now more than ever the Establishment has given Trump its Good Clintonkeeping Seal of Approval. That means that Trump is immunized and impunified from Impeachment no matter what the crime as long as it is committed in service to Assad Must Go and Then Putin Must Go Too.

      Trump is a Clintonite now. The Clintonites in the House and Senate will be instructed to obstruct and prevent Trumpeachment by every hook and crook they have.

  22. JEHR

    Dances With Bears reveals the very dark side of Canadian culture.

    Re: corporal punishment: I was occasionally strapped for misbehaving in school (on the hands usually); however, the worst strapping I ever received was from my mother who used a leather strap abundantly over my backside more than once. When I had my own children, I would spank them, too, but when they were still pre-school, I asked myself, What punishment would I eventually deal out if the behaviour got worse later? and I didn’t like the answer. From that day onward, I never hit my children with either an object or with my hand. It was a hard way for me to learn a lesson and I feel my children still suffered for the lapse I had had previously.

    Thus, the origin of some darkness in the culture.

    1. Jim Haygood

      This sounds pretty dark too:

      Home Capital Group Inc. secured a C$2 billion ($1.5 billion) loan from Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan. Home Capital didn’t identify the lender in a statement Thursday, though people familiar with the process said the health-care workers pension fund is backing the loan.

      HOOPP is a Toronto-based pension plan which represents more than 321,000 healthcare workers in Ontario. HOOPP President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Keohane sits on Home Capital’s board and is a shareholder of the mortgage lender.

      What qualifications does a pension fund have to assess Home Capital’s creditworthiness? Who’s their investment banker (if any)? Why is HOOPP making this extremely risky loan, when Canada’s banks, insurance companies and private lenders passed on it? And what’s with the secrecy?

      If I were a HOOPP member, I’d be heaving bricks at the headquarters of this extravagantly corrupt union, gambling with my money to bail out the union president’s own selfish interests.

    2. paleobotanist

      It’s a pretty good article describing the intense racism against Indigenous people in Canada. Read it through to the end. Like I explain to my American friends, Canada is very very good at propaganda that Americans desperately swallow hook, line and sinker.

      Best, Paleobotanist

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Tax the Rich.

      Some of the many singles making $300,000 will be taxed more

      But not the Super Rich and their 15% pass through rate.

      Those for taxing the rich will be happy.

  23. Jeff W

    “Single-payer health care bill passes 1st hurdle at California Capitol”

    Ugh, the typical talking points uncritically reported:

    “So many Californians get health care coverage through their employer, and that would end under single-payer health care…They would now be receiving their coverage through the government.”

    And the problem with that is what, exactly?

    But state analysts estimate single-payer health care would cost at least $250 billion — and that is troubling to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

    “Where are you going to find the money?” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the governor’s Department of Finance.

    Some quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations: 39 million Californians now paying (on average) about $8700 per capita for health care (based on OECD figures for the US—it’s probably actually higher)—that’s a little over $339 billion. Where do people find that money? Seems like paying $250 billion under single payer is better than paying $339 billion which is now the current price tag.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      $339 billion vs. $250 billion.

      Is it because

      1. $250 billion is too low
      2. $89 billion ($339 billion – $250 billion) represents no-longer-needed middle-man corporate insurance rent
      3. Government negotiated lower health care provider fees and lower drug prices


    2. John k

      Thought you were high. But CMS says you are low, 10k per capital or 3.2 trillion. But Medicare is .65 trillion, so 2.55T less Medicare. Or 16% of GDP. Maybe the same as total salaries.
      CA is 10% of us pop, so we now spend about 255B. So if we spend that now, it should be possible to tax sufficiently to raise this amount in lieu of what corps pay now.
      The question is how to tax such that we avoid big gainers and losers? Basically a 16% tax on all workers, say 8% on workers and same on corps. But 16% on self employed.

      And who is covered? Maybe limit to residents same as qualifying for in state tuition. And maybe not illegals to avoid controversy and reduced support.

      Hospitals should be happy, more paid business, reduced emergency room. Insurance hates it. Big corps that provide health care logically would be happy to have gov provide. Those that don’t probably against, though their competitors would see the same… pass costs thru to public, plus their workers very happy. Doctors and nurses should be happy, more business.

      Economy should grow, need more hospital, diagnostics etc. less insurance though.

      Brown obviously against, would veto. Probably no chance until next gov in 2018.

  24. Carl

    Black market insulin for our children, mortgage frauds, declining standards of living etc.

    This is what our guys died fighting for in WWII?

    The enemy is within, not without…

    1. crittermom

      The article about the young girl who was allergic to her ‘insurance’ insulin is heartbreaking, but sadly, not surprising.
      Apparently, even letters from her Dr just caused them to shift the blame to others, in a vicious circle, with no results. ‘Just pass the buck, so it doesn’t harm our ridiculous profits’.

      The govt should be negotiating cheaper drug prices, or allow us to buy from other countries, without penalty. Period.

      Just like the stealing of homes is largely ignored by most (unless you’ve been a victim), is it going to take everyone getting sick and not being able to afford their meds to realize what’s going on with big pharma, and how entrenched the govt is in aiding those absurd profits?

      How many victims must it take before we rise up and say, “We’re not gonna take it anymore!”?

      I must agree. The enemy is within.

  25. allan

    Schumer: Spending deal coming ‘very soon’ [The Hill]

    Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) says White House and congressional negotiators are close to a funding deal to avoid a government shutdown. …

    Schumer also downplayed a threat made earlier in the day by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) that he will urge his colleagues to block the spending bill if House Republicans move ahead this week with legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare. …

    If there is any danger of the Dems getting actual leverage over the GOP,
    their instinctive first move is to throw it away.

    No worse friends, no better enemies.

    1. John k

      Try to remember both reps and dems are on the same side, the donor side. leverage to do anything against any donor is a hot potatoe to be discarded at once.

  26. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Drumbeats Don’t Add Up to Imminent War With North Korea

    If it makes anybody feel even better about all this… an acquaintance who I will name as ‘C’ met with a retired US Army general named ‘B’ while he was visiting family in Oregon. ‘C’ asked about the likelihood of a conflict with North Korea after Trump took office. This was a few weeks before the attack on the Syrian airfield and MOAB. General ‘B’ didn’t think that there was a chance in hell that Trump would start a war on the Korean peninsula and if this became an issue it would essentially be a bluff to extract diplomatic concessions via China. I gotta be honest though and admit that the area of expertise of ‘B’ is NATO/Russia and not Asia.

    Before the chat ‘C’ asked ‘A’ what else he could talk about with ‘B’ that wouldn’t put him on the spot or in an uncomfortable position. I told him to ask about the glorious A-10.

    1. optimader

      I would agree with the general on this point, but he may as well be just another guy off the street like me.
      More fundamentally, what is Trumps motivation?

      Yeah, someone gave NK solid rocket booster technology (which is otherwise hard fought technology to do correctly). The implication of solid vs liquid fueled rockets is minutes vs hours prep to launch.

      But in the eventuality Pyongyang leadership decided to attack a neighbor with a ballistic missile, what could they put in the air on it as a payload with a primitive guidance system that is worth being vitrified moments later??

      I think Trump understands that, and I think Pyongyang leadership understand that too. those at the top of the heap in NK have it good, why mess it up?

      1. Andrew Watts

        Honestly, it feels like we go through this song and dance with North Korea every 5-7 years. I really believe Trump is a blowhard who thrives on conflict. He retains the added benefit of being seen as unstable and inconsistent. All the same he’s desperate for a win that will overshadow his domestic failures and bringing about a negotiated end to the NK nuclear weapons program is as good as any.

        I’m not too worried about a war yet. There are many other things that would need to be in place that aren’t happening. It isn’t simply a matter of moving a new carrier group towards the peninsula. In any case ‘C’ has family in harm’s way.

        But in the eventuality Pyongyang leadership decided to attack a neighbor with a ballistic missile, what could they put in the air on it as a payload with a primitive guidance system that is worth being vitrified moments later??

        The War Nerd wrote about this a few years back and the payload was estimated to be somewhere around the effect of leveling a dozen city blocks. That’s assuming it landed in the middle of a major metropolitan area.

        An opportunistic first-strike barrage of artillery from the DMZ would do more damage to Seoul.

        1. Optimader

          The NK missle dance is just a way of asking for treats. If they actually tried to use them offensively they would be badly spanked. Makes no sense
          Regieme change as always has to be organic– from from within the country.

  27. Alex

    Regarding the piece on the forgotten pluralism of Syria, I don’t understand why so many people wanna idealise the interreligious and interethnic relations in the Muslim world in the past.
    In the Greater Syria there were, to name just a few major events, the pogrom-like destruction of Safed (1600), the Druze-Maronite war in 1860 with thousands of Christians massacred and Damascus blood libel affair (1840). So much for the “cohesive identity as well as a deeply rooted tradition of religious pluralism.”

    1. tony

      Because diversity is a primary value for most the left and the liberals. So they must explain away the problems associated with it.

  28. LT

    Re: Banks Should Let ancient COBAL Language Die…

    That’s one more lesson the “new” economy learned from the “old” one: Planned Obsolescence.
    Yet another reason the tech industry titans find the auto industry a good one to slip into.
    Have to sell new software and the next one after…

  29. LT

    Re: ESPN Layoffs.

    “Yum, yum,” says the stock market. “I loves me some layoffs!”

    Hope we get stories on where the bonuses go.

  30. Oregoncharles

    “With Secret Airship, Sergey Brin Also Wants to Fly”

    “Guillotine Watch” might not be the right category. Airships could make a big difference in transport technology. They are vastly more efficient than airplanes, because they don’t expend energy to stay up, and even better over helicopters. Since they can hover, they don’t need large airfields – though they do need large hangars, if they’re to be brought indoors. There is a dirigible hanger at Tillamook, OR, that dates back to to WWII. There used to be 2, but one burned down. It’s very impressive, even from a distance. But they need only a few of those, and might not need them at all with the right surfacing. (One theory is that the Hindenburg burned, not because of the hydrogen, but because the outside coating was essentially guncotton. One spark was all it took.)

    They also don’t need roads, bridges, etc, and can travel straight lines, like airplanes. If he succeeds, it could be a rare example of using great wealth for the public good – and quite likely making yet more money at it.

    1. Gaianne

      Blimps work, and have some limited uses.

      Dirigibles–rigid airships, that is, airships with a rigid frame–are another matter. They have always been attractive for their possibilities–large payloads carried at moderate speeds at low costs–but they have always suffered from one big problem, which is that they tend to break up in stormy weather.

      This is a real problem. You can steer around a local thunderstorm, but if you are facing a squall line you have to find shelter: You cannot outrun it and if it catches you you may crash. Perhaps weather reports are more precise and accurate now than they were back in the 1930s, so that you have sufficient warning, but even so there will be periods where your airship is grounded, evading, or hiding. You won’t meet schedule.

      Modern light, strong materials might help. The old skeletons were made of duraluminum. Skins were flammable. But even if the body is lighter, stronger, and more flexible than in the 1930s you still have to worry about winds that can take you in unwanted directions faster than the ship’s ability to respond.

      The article does not suggest any thought has been given to old practical problems.


      1. Oregoncharles

        This sounds like a problem with a technical solution, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what it would be.

        Of course, non-flammable skins would be a good start.

  31. LT

    Melanchon could have asked a simpler question:
    Do you prefer your austerity to come slowly or quickly?

    You have to love neoliberalism’s fire or frying pan options for the economy.

  32. Altandmain

    Fitzgerald Cantor, a major brokerage firm’s lead partner apparently got really wealthy from a 9-11 lawsuit:

    Money talks it seems.

    Meanwhile Trump is slashing some national security programs related to global warming.

  33. ewmayer

    “With Secret Airship, Sergey Brin Also Wants to Fly Bloomberg” — Should there be a public naming contest, my entry will be the “Brindenburg”.

  34. montanamaven

    Got a letter from Oscar Munoz, president of the friendly skies United. Looks like there will be an App that the service personnel can use if you have a problem. It will give you treats. And a $1500 lost luggage reimbursement. Up to $10,000 for taking another flight and once on a flight, you can’t be asked to leave. And no more dragging and punching by law enforcement since they will no longer be asked to remove passengers from the plane. Thanks Dr. Dao for taking one on the chin for the rest of us.

  35. east

    Good futuristic news for any woman too horrified to give b.

  36. hunkerdown

    Facebook admits: governments exploited us to spread propaganda. (Guardian) Which government info ops could he be talking about?

    The company also explained how it monitored “several situations” that fit the pattern of information operations during the US presidential election. The company detected “malicious actors” using social media to share information stolen from other sources such as email accounts “with the intent of harming the reputation of specific political targets”. This technique involved creating dedicated websites to host the stolen data and then creating social media accounts and pages to direct people to it.

    Ohhh, so the aristocracy have a right to their reputation and the rest of us can be lied about with impunity. Makes sense now.

  37. St Jacques

    What a bizarre but beautiful praying mantis. Nature never ceases to surprise. Incredible.

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