2:00PM Water Cooler 5/1/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’ll have a bit more shortly. –lambert

UPDATE As of 2:46PM, lots more under Politics. –lambert


Obama Legacy

UPDATE “‘I think President Obama, like many others in both parties, talks about a set of big national statistics that look shiny and great but increasingly have giant blind spots,” [Elizabeth Warren] says. ‘That GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans. And the lived experiences of most Americans is that they are being left behind in this economy. Worse than being left behind, they’re getting kicked in the teeth'” [Guardian]. And that’s bad, because who has dental these days?

UPDATE “Former Obama adviser and CNN political analyst Van Jones suggested President Obama go on a ‘poverty tour’ as a way to mitigate some of the criticism surrounding news he’ll make $400,000 for a speech at a Wall Street firm’s healthcare conference. ‘We need a Bobby Kennedy in this country,’ Jones said in an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday” [The Hill]. “He suggested the former president ‘go to Appalachia, go to Native American reservations where they’re shoving these pipelines down their throats and they don’t even have clear, running water. Go to South Central, go to the Arizona border where you have a lot of poverty.'”

UPDATE “‘While mainstream liberal defenders of the president have argued that the services rendered for the financial industry have nothing to do with why Barack Obama is collecting just shy of a half million dollars (almost twice as much as either Clinton) for an hour long speech at a Wall Street firm; I think that too fails to qualify as an impartial, adult argument — this is what a quid pro quo relationship looks like in real time and the fact that the ‘bonus’ is coming after Obama has left office simply makes it impossible to prosecute anyone for bribery; friends don’t bribe friends, they merely do each other ‘favors’ after all'” [Nina Illingworth].

UPDATE Cheap labor coming and going:


UPDATE I’ve lost all will to live:

UPDATE Zuckerberg: “Working at Ford is a long-term thing”:

UPDATE “Biden returns to New Hampshire as 2020 rumors swirl” [CNN]. “Debt peons for Biden!”

2016 Post Mortem

“Emails reveal FBI, Justice probe of Burlington College” [VT Digger]. There seems to be an unusual amount of Sanders oppo floating about lately, but since this is VT Digger… Any Vermont readers care to comment?

“Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Turns Over Email List To DNC” [HuffPo]. Missed this one. So get the Sanders list, do a mailmerge… What could go wrong?


“New Democratic ads: Putin ‘laughing’ about House Republicans” [McClatchy]. Because this strategy is working so well…

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Sanders at the City Club in Cleveland today:

UPDATE “Three months ago, just before Donald Trump took office, about half of Americans said it was very likely that the new President, armed with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, would repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare” [CNN]. “Now, after multiple unsuccessful efforts to fulfill that campaign pledge, a new CNN/ORC poll finds just 20% say it’s very likely the President and Republicans in Congress will fulfill that promise.” That was fast. We’ll see how Trump voters, particularly volatility voters, react.

“Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, first Cuban-American in Congress, to retire” [CNN]. First ripple of a 2018 wave? Probably too soon to tell.

UPDATE “What’s the Matter with Wisconsin?” (PDF) [Polly Cleveland]. Review of Katherine Cramers The Politics of Resentment. I’ve heard Cramer on the This is Hell podcast; worth a listen.

UPDATE “Why Do So Many Americans Think Democrats Are Out of Touch?” [The Atlantic]. “‘I do think that there’s a lack of trust that has amplified and grown between voters in certain parts of the country and the party, but I think that’s fixable,’ said Adam Parkhomenko, a former Hillary Clinton aide. ‘We have to have a big tent, and the national party has to support state and local parties so that we can invest in candidates who can compete everywhere in the country.'” Too funny, after the Clinton Victory Fund used the state parties to launder money for itself. As for “Big Tent,” I’m tempted to modify George Carlin: “It’s a Big Tent, and you ain’t in it” [NSFW; not for a family blog!]

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, March 2017: “Based on the consumer and based on inflation, FOMC members won’t be feeling much pressure to raise rates at least not any time soon. Consumer spending was unchanged in March, even weaker than Econoday’s 0.1 percent consensus” [Econoday]. “More startling is the weakest showing in 16-1/2 years for core PCE prices which fell 0.1 percent to take down the year-on-year rate by a sizable 2 tenths to 1.6 percent. Income is also disappointing, up only 0.2 percent with the wages & salaries component posting a very weak 0.1 percent rise. Consumers nevertheless managed to move money into the bank as the savings rate rose 2 tenths to 5.9 percent (which is another factor behind the weak spending).”

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, April 2017: “Of all the advance reports, only PMI manufacturing has been signaling a loss of momentum for the factory sector” [Econoday]. “Orders are described as subdued and the sample, after building inventories for six months, is now destocking. Production slowed in the month as did purchasing activity. Costs are at a 2-1/2 year high but, in a sign of strength, the sample is successfully passing through the costs as selling prices are also at a 2-1/2 year high.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, April 2017: “After 7 straight months of beating expectations, the ISM manufacturing index finally fell short and sharply so” [Econoday]. “But the unusual 60 run for new orders has been building up backlogs which continue to rise, at 57.0 which is very strong for this reading. Delays in delivery times eased slightly but still point to demand-related congestion in the supply chain. Inventories rose slightly which is a contrast to the PMI manufacturing report released earlier this morning and which is reporting intentional and defensive destocking.”

Construction Spending, March 2017: “Data on construction spending are subject to unusual volatility, evident in today’s report which came in far below expectations” [Econoday]. “March’s weakness is tied to a sharp 1.3 percent decline in the private nonresidential component, where spending was especially weak for commercial units as well as office units. Public spending was also weak with educational building down for a 2nd straight month. The positives in the report are in housing with multi-family units extending their strong run.”

The Bezzle: “The Bloomberg U.S. Startups Barometer rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier, marking the first year-over-year increase since the end of 2015. Bigger funding totals and more exits buoyed the index” [Bloomberg].

Retail: “The outlook for physical retailers is grim, the sector roiled by store closings, layoffs and bankruptcies. This year, Amazon will surpass Macy’s, which last year announced it would shut 100 stores, to become the largest seller of apparel in America, by several analysts’ estimates” [New York Times].

Retail: “What are ‘clothes,’ anyway?” [Quartz]. I know I’m supposed to applaud Rei Kawakubo for her integrity, but she strikes me as the Frank Gehry of clothing: Ugly products suitable for the jaded palates of bored, wealthy funders.

* * *

Rapture Index: Unchanged from last update [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

In addition to the Rapture Index, and the Fear and Greed Index, we now have the “Five Horsemen of the Techpocalyse,” as explained by the estimable Jim Haygood, who writes:

To the extent that the Greed and Fear Index has an antidote, it might be the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalyse, which collectively constitute over 10 percent of the entire US market capitalization. When they’re up, Mr Market beams radiantly. When they’re down, the financial world is a dark place.

With the caveat that Naked Capitalism in no way offers any sort of investment advice, here is the chart:

Five Horsemen May1

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 1 at 1:14pm. Gentlemen prefer bonds.


“Next battleground: An aging Great Lakes pipeline stirs new protest” [Reuters]. Restlessness in the colonized hinterlands…

Health Care

“We the Patients is a patient-powered movement co-developed by Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You can Fight Back” [“We the Patients”]. Tell your outrageous billing story! I’ve gotta say, I don’t see a policy solution, but Rosenthal’s book is getting good reviews….

Our Famously Free Press

“UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it” [Seattle Times]. “We”?

“Social media is polarizing users faster than ever” [Quartz]. “[I]t is quaint to imagine the days when people expected the internet to discourage, rather than encourage, echo chambers.” Hmm…

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong” [New York Times]. A study in Ethiopia: “[M]ost people who got an industrial job soon changed their minds. A majority quit within the first months. They ended up doing what those who had not gotten the job offers did — going back to the family farm, taking a construction job or selling goods at the market. Contrary to the expert predictions (and ours), quitting was a wise decision for most. The alternatives were not so bad after all: People who worked in agriculture or market selling earned about as much money as they could have at the factory, often with fewer hours and better conditions. We were amazed: By the end of a year only a third of the people who had landed an industrial job were still employed in the industrial sector at all.” That’s why people have to be compelled, as in England, through the destruction of the commons…

News of the Wired

“Why most people’s favorite color is blue” [Medium]. The headline is clickbait; this is an interesting article on color. “Color names point more to concepts rather than to the real thing.” Nominalism alert!

“Parking garages are getting a second life as places for people” [Curbed]. I have no problem rewriting this sunny little article in dystopian terms…

“New data suggest that the reading public is ditching e-books and returning to the old fashioned printed word” [CNN]. “Sales of consumer e-books plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children’s books surged 16%.” Good. For me, e-books have some utility, but have I ever experienced pleasure from the digital reading experience? No.

“10 steps to happiness learned during an intermittent life abroad” [Medium]. Expat readers? Economic refugees? What do you think?

* * *

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

And here’s today’s plant (Re Silc):

It’s a good day when plants arrive. Maine’s famous FedCo tree sale was last weekend, but I have no more space for new trees, unless I do a rethink.

* * *

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the Naked Capitalism fundraisers. Please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. dcblogger

    Emails reveal FBI, Justice probe of Burlington College

    not from Vermont, but I had heard about this back in 2014 (not the FBI part). I assumed that HRC would bring it up, but she never did. I suppose since Bernie never went after he emails it would have been conspicuous to go after this. Offering free university was a great way to neutralize this issue. the donor community is scared of Bernie. they think if they can sink Bernie they can sink his ideas. we will find out if they are correct.

    1. mac na Michomhairle

      Vermont Digger is a very odd fish.

      They are supposed to be a Vermont news bureau to take the place of vanished local Vermont newspaper reporting, but I really sometimes wonder if that is all they are. They are not Progressive or left or whatever, and have always struck me as so standoffish about Bernie Sanders, in a state where a huge majority is very enthusiastic about him, that their approach communicates hostility to him (to me).

      I’m not familiar with the story, but plenty of important people in the Democratic Party want Bernie to lose cred.

    2. MtnLife

      Yeah, this has been a slow burn item since before Bernie was seriously on the national stage. From what I understand, the college hadn’t been on especially solid financial footing for some time. The bid to expand was part the neoliberal “bigger is better” approach and part “if we get in all these people that we expect with the expansion the economics of this small college might actually work” type of thinking. Not sure how the loan misrepresentation happened but this thing had been a clusterf*ck from the get go, making larger than expected political waves in the state. Wouldn’t be surprised to find a big money/political backroom deal at the center of it.

      1. Cody

        I’m from Vermont, and I worked for the bank that loaned Burlington College the money they were unable to pay back. Jane O’Meara Sanders headed the college at the time. A few impressions:
        1. The investigation was instigated by the the Vice President of the (politically impotent) Vermont GOP during the height of Sanders’s campaign popularity;
        2. Vermont media seems to me generally hostile to Sanders, including local paper Seven Days and VermontDigger, both of which pulled for $hillary during the election;
        3. Jane Sanders probably made some mistakes while heading Burlington College. It has since closed – the ill-advised land deal sunk the school. I would be very surprised if it amounted to fraud.
        4. I will be alarmed when it reaches the level of quid pro quo payments from foreign governments channeled through a “charitable” organization plus enormous giveaways received from the casino criminals who destroyed the economy and made life horrible for millions of people.

        1. bob

          I heard this story used by credentalists to disqualify bernie, to the favor of the queen. It had some well funded legs under it. Pitch perfect, and right on time.

          If this would have been the biggest scandal of the 2016 election, we’d have been much better off. Let’s make it a battle of numbers, assuming for a moment that the innuendo adds up to anything-

          Neither trump nor hillary would get out of the limo for that chump change.

        2. Marina Bart

          IIRC, Jane Sanders hired a fundraising consultant to oversee all this, and the COO or Treasurer who was there at the time was later proved to have done a bunch of other financially or legally questionable things.

          It’s been a while since I read all the details, but these problems seemed to have zero to do with Jane Sanders herself. It was a tiny school with no feasible means or reason to keep going in the current educational environment.

          Given the tensions that have always existed between Bernie and the political establishment in Vermont, I would assume there are a lot of old resentments being inflamed by Bernie’s national popularity. It must be driving the old guard mad.

          I will be alarmed when it reaches the level of quid pro quo payments from foreign governments channeled through a “charitable” organization plus enormous giveaways received from the casino criminals who destroyed the economy and made life horrible for millions of people.


  2. Fox Blew

    Re: “Social media is polarizing users faster than ever”. What is so fascinating to me is how many people were very critical of internet-based communication in the very early – and even pre-internet – days. I think immediately of Marshall McLuhan who coined the term “Global Village”. Through the speed of electronic communication, he believed that our society was becoming more “tribal” (and he saw didn’t see this as a positive). Neil Postman also gave us some critical language around the internet. I think now we have enough evidence to weigh in on this, as a society. Having experienced the internet in it’s current shape and trend, it has been a net-negative.

    1. Adamski

      Hopefully polarisation sinks Zuckerberg when he enters the 2020 Dem primaries!

  3. Jim Haygood

    First sighting of a late-cycle Superbull:

    “The market call I am making could be life-changing,” said Joseph Fahmy, managing director of New York-based investment firm Zor Capital. “The explosive bull market from 1995 to 2000 helped so many investors multiply their accounts many times over, and we could be heading into a similar period now.”

    “Ultimately, it will end with a ‘blow off’ move to the upside where everyone just throws in the towel,” he said. “I don’t know if this will happen three months or three years from now, but I am leaning toward the latter because it will take a long time for investors to change their mentality.”

    “Constant fear is helping to drive the market higher, as many people are underestimating the power of psychology in fueling market rallies,” Fahmy said. “Since everyone is already nervous, there’s a huge rush into put hedging, shorting stocks, and buying toxic [long] VIX products.”

    “Most people can’t even consider the possibility of the market going significantly higher from here because, according to the media, this 8 year recovery is ‘long in the tooth’ and about to end,” he said. “Now, imagine if the news over the next year or two actually turns positive.”


    What tells us that Fahmy is a serious observer is his forbearance from specific predictions of “S&P 3,000” and such, which are generally cheap publicity stunts [though in a shameful moment of fame trolling, I posted a “Dow 22,942” projection in Links 12/5/2016].

    Fahmy’s observation that pervasive fear is out of sync with the facts is the same drum I’ve been beating ever since the November presidential election.

    If Fahmy is correct, the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse will be the generals marshaling the troops up the long hill to victory. Whereas if the generals falter and turn tail, Bubble III itself may crumble, and our prosperity (such as it is) along with it.

    Bubble III is the last game in town. But it’ll let us down, just when True Belief dictates that it must go on forever. :-(

    1. Jim Haygood

      Today was a royal flush among the Five Horsemen, with all five of them reaching record highs.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s tempting to look to the past to try and get clues about what comes next but you end up being a general fighting the last war, what historical precedent do we have for $200B+ per month being materialized by hyper-leveraged hedge funds central banks year in and year out and flung at any asset that’s not nailed down? And it used to be you could jump out and earn a “risk-free” real rate for a while that at least was positive, LOL no soup for you fool, Janet says “Dance dammit!”. I keep hearing about how “Mr. Market” is gonna punish the sinners someday in stocks, bonds, houses, whatever, but that’s also a just a historical artefact from the times when we HAD markets. Instead picture a brand new gambler at the table, he bets on every hand win or lose and has a little machine under the table that materializes chips anytime he wants, you gonna play against him? The Fed already said that QE 4,5,6 are on the cards, they’ll take their “balance sheet” (LOL) to $10, $20, $50 trillion, “to infinity…and beyond!”. So take your wheelbarrow full of chips to the store to buy a loaf of bread and stop yer grumbling.

      1. DJPS

        Thoughts about this strategy? – > “Buy it when it breaks the 200 day sma and hold it till it breaks the 200 day sma again”

  4. Jane

    “New data suggest that the reading public is ditching e-books and returning to the old fashioned printed word” … since they began charging the same price for e-books that they charge for printed books. Quelle surpise.

    1. Lee Dennis

      “New data” collected mainly by Big Publishing and mainly from brick-and-mortar bookstores. It conveniently does not include most of what’s sold by a certain online retailer.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Sometimes more than. I’ve seen Kindle books priced higher than trade paperbacks, because that was the price initially set by the publisher so the ebook would undermine hardcover sales; and they figure to use the same tactic to drive sales of the paperback. That is, after all, what that whole “agency pricing” thing was about—the Big Five were convinced that if Amazon were allowed to price all ebooks at ten bucks, they’d loose mega-sales of their $30 hardcovers right out of the gate.

    3. Robert Hahl

      eBooks have their uses, like after waking up at 2 am unexpectedly then reading in the dark to fall back asleep. This method is especially effective if combined with a couple swigs of sherry.

      Secondly, one can buy the complete works of many authors, e.g., Virginia Woolf, and see that her fiction is greatly overrated but her essays are good. The same goes for George Orwell.

      Thirdly, one can download and keep samples of books to evaluate whenever you want to find something else to read, even at 2 am.

      Books available in multiple translations can be sampled; a good way to escape from Constance Garnett, for instance.

      I still read paper books when the lights are on.

    4. Huey Long

      I used to buy eBooks, but I much prefer the tactile feel of paper books, and the ability to write in the margins, hi-lite things, loan them to friends, etc.

      Currently the only time I opt for eBooks is when reading older material downloaded from The Gutenberg Project.

      1. River

        Paper books also have higher resolution. I can read for hours on end with paper. E-books not near as long. Plus as you say the feel and smell of the book add to the enjoyment.

    5. Mark Alexander

      Maybe I’m just weird, but I enjoy reading both paper books and ebooks.
      I have a six-year old Kindle that is extremely useful for certain things, especially old public-domain classics and big Russian novels. When you’re reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, it’s super-helpful to be able to quickly look up a character when you’re 158 pages into the thing and suddenly encounter a name you can’t remember (oh right, he was last mentioned on page 17!). Plus the dictionary is terribly useful when you’re reading 19th century literature that is full of words no longer in common use. And not having to hold the thing open with one hand is a great feature when I’m reading in the pantry while grinding flour (hand-cranked flour grinders are the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread).

      The downside of ebooks is that new ones are ridiculously overpriced, they’re encumbered with DRM, you can’t lend them out, you have to keep charging a fragile piece of glass and metal to read them, and they are terrible for image-rich, high-res books. That is why I have a huge stack of paper books to be read, some of which I borrowed, and some of which I intend to give away when I’m done.

      The point is, there is a place for both, but ebooks are definitely not going to replace paper books.

  5. dontknowitall

    About “New data suggest that the reading public is ditching e-books and returning to the old fashioned printed word”

    It is really a strange phenomena…maybe it is the intimacy of the paper and the note taking…I think it is something more than just the pricing structure…seriously, if someone has an inkling please share…have any devices felt as good as paper for you?

    1. PKMKII

      Someone once asked me why I didn’t buy an e-reader. I responded by taking the book I was reading at the time, slamming it against a solid object several times, and said “I can’t do that to an e-reader.”

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Your question has no real relevance, as people who read (and in many cases prefer) ebooks also read print when they want to. This whole tactile theme that keeps being brought up as though it were relevant to the discussion has no bearing on reality.

      I’ve been reading, and prefer, ebooks for twenty years (yes—long before Harlequin and Amazon “invented” them). I have a four-foot stack of TBR print books and enough ebooks unread I figure I’ll still be at it ten years after I’m dead. Are there advantages to having nonfiction in print? To a degree, but as the readers have advanced those are becoming fewer and fewer; and the simple fact is that if holding a print book open is difficult or if your eyes aren’t as good as they once were the ebook advantages of tapping to turn a virtual page and increasing font size to prevent eyestrain are much more important than whether the books feel “as good as paper.”

      Here’s the truth: the entire print v. ebook debate was concocted for the sole purpose of undermining the ebook industry in favor of those expensive hardcovers. Period. Oh, I understand there are sensualists who delight in the feel and smell of print books, but that’s so subjective a reason for trying to decide which is better as to be worthless.

      After all, it’s what’s inside that matters, not the package it comes in. Unless you’re a cat.

      1. Bunk McNulty

        I dunno. The reason I buy paper books is because the seller can’t one day decide I can’t have them anymore. With big for-profit e-readers like Kindle, you’re not buying the book, you’re buying a license to read the book. A license can be taken away. A book can be taken away too, but meatspace is complicated and takes time, and is difficult to deny.

      2. crittermom

        I think a point to be made is that while those who read e-books may also enjoy printed books, those who prefer printed books do not read e-books.

    3. XXYY

      I think ebooks have a few things to offer:

      o Much lower prices (mostly not realized).
      o Possibility of different economics, e.g. 50 page books (mostly not realized).
      o Less bulk and weight (both for storing and for lugging around).
      o Ability to search.
      o Can be acquired instantly without traveling.
      o Good features for the visually impaired (large print, read aloud).
      o Shorter time to market, no out-of-print problem.
      o Can’t get lost/wet/ripped/set on fire, etc.


      o Existing ebook formats mostly suck, esp. when figures, graphs, tables, photos, etc. are included. This needa to be solved.

      o Hard or impossible to share, lend, give., etc.

      o Most ebook readers don’t work well in bright light or sun.

      o DRM and proprietary formats mean you don’t really *own* the book.

      So, it’s a mixed bag.

    4. polecat

      It’s really hard to get cuddly in bed with an e-book …. especially when one rolls over it to pet the cat !

      1. Hana M

        On the other hand, the cats sit on physical books (mostly the ones I’m reading, not just stacking up). They can’t sit on my Kindle as long as I’m holding it over my head while reading in bed. That said I got a very nice Kindle three years ago and I almost never use it except as back up on long trips. I do like having free classics right there on Kindle with no wrist pain whenever I get the urge to re-read Trollop.

        But still I prefer the lure of library books. Perhaps I miss the fur piling up on the pages with Kindle. Or the lovely smell of old books and another reader’s dogears and notes.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Does one have to worry about e-book radiation, with it being that close to the head?

    5. Yves Smith

      I hate e-books. In addition to being harder to read, the fact that they are all rendered in the typeface/layout results in my being unable to recall in which book I read something. I typically recall not just what I read but have a image of where I saw it on the page, even if I’ve lost the zoom (as in I can’t “see” the exact words, so I don’t have total recall). So not “seeing” where it came from means I don’t remember where it came from.

      Separate from how I relate to books, studies have found that readers remember what they read in e-books less well than what they read in physical books.

      1. River

        Good point. You can’t really skim an e-book. I read a lot of .pdf stuff and that is one annoyance I find.

      2. crittermom

        “…studies have found that readers remember what they read in e-books less well than what they read in physical books.”
        That’s good news to me that I had yet to read, despite the research time I’ve been spending regarding publishing.

        I teach lessons in my children’s books so retention is a factor.
        I’d already decided to publish in print only since the photographs need to be seen in a larger size to have the impact, that I didn’t feel they would have in a smaller format such as an e-book.

        Plus, I think the printed book–especially for children–is a wonderful gift (that can include personalization from the giver).
        The retention factor makes me feel even more secure in my decision.
        Thanks, Yves.

    6. marieann

      I will admit I’ve never used an e reader. Our son bought one for my husband and I but I was never interested.

      Many of the books I own are knitting/crochet/quilting/craft books. These are useless with an e reader as you have to continually reference pages at the front or back for techniques, abbreviations, instructions etc.
      I read a lot of non- fiction books, I check the back section frequently for footnotes.
      I am a fast reader and often I skim and so sometimes I have to go back through a book to check a paragraph I missed, I have to flip around checking the story line to find the part I am looking for….while I’ve never tried it with an e book…I don’t think it’s doable.
      However for full disclosure….we don’t own cell phones or smart phones….heck we don’t even own a portable phone, the one on the kitchen wall is about 35 years old. Our computers are desktop models. We don’t have cable or any of it’s derivatives.
      So not using an e reader is completly normal at our house.

    7. justanotherprogressive

      I use an e-reader almost exclusively now. I love books – the feel, the smell, etc, but the e-reader is so convenient that I really can’t give it up.

      My kids bought me my first e-reader when they first came out (they thought books were overtaking my house since I read so much!) and that thing was a dog. It was very unfriendly to use. But the technology has improved over the years. I now have the kindle app on my ipad and it is so much more convenient to use. I can mark passages, search, and make notes just like I did with regular books.

      I read a lot of techy type books on math and science and I can rarely find them at libraries or brick and mortar bookstores – but I can always find them online, and usually for much cheaper on kindle than in hardback or paperback. And the online versions aren’t so heavy to carry around….

      The only real problems I have are when I want to compare what one author says to what another is saying, like when reading economics books. Kindle still hasn’t figured out a way to make that possible…..

    8. Ook

      I would like to see the business justification discussed more here, in terms of whether or not it was a good idea for Anglo publishing houses to go in this direction.

      Off the top of my head, I can think of two countries (France and Japan) where e-books are not at all popular, because publishing houses in those countries have decided en masse that it might be dangerous to hand over that level of control over their IP to quasi-monopoly e-book distributors.
      So for example, if you want to read the English translation of a Yukio Mishima novel, you can download it. But if you want the original Japanese, you need to go to a book store and get the paper.

    9. Adamski

      Ebook readers should open out in two halves like a book, the readable area should be as big as a book, they should be VERY high resolution, and they should be waterproof like a shower radio in case you drop them in the bath.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Linguistic Thoughtcrime, comrades: it still plagues our nation —

    At the University of Florida, a student was recently penalized for writing “man” instead of “humankind” in a class paper.

    History major Martin Poirier wrote “Water is a thing prior to man” on a paper for a history class called “History of Water.”

    “Thoughtful paper, although the writing-mechanics errors are killing you,” Professor Jack Davis wrote at the bottom of the paper. He gave the student a B minus.


    Oh, man [rimshot] … where to start?

    Were I the prof, I would’ve docked Poirier for his inchoate use of “thing,” in place of “presence,” “issue,” “challenge,” or whatever it was that he actually meant (if anything).

    Whereas Poirier’s poor cuck of a prof seems to have a bit of a “writing-mechanics” [sic] blind spot hisself. Nothing that a STEM major couldn’t fix with an Allen wrench, a feeler gauge [an actual thing, not a reference to groping] and a spanner. ;-)

    1. Jess

      I wonder how many millenials and other such young people know what a feeler guage or a spanner is. (Allen wrench is probably more commonly known as the thing you use to assemble furniture from IKEA, although lots of that now comes with star-drive bolts.)

      1. Huey Long

        Millennial here, and I know what all that stuff is and more; I’m a building engineer by trade and knowing what the tools are called and how to use them is a huge part of my job.

        There’s still a ton of legacy assets out there such as office buildings, power plants, sewage treatment plants, ships, heavy trucks, and cars that will require skilled tradesman to keep them in a state of good repair long into the future.

        Even Star Trek had maintenance guys, in the form of Mr. Scott and his crew of engine room techs on the Enterprise.

        So while interest in mechanical hobbies seem to be fading amongst my generational cohort, millennials are getting into the trades and learning these skills, at least in my little corner of the world.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Should be “tradesones.” Per-SON excludes “daughter.” I lived through this sh!t soup in college and law school. Hence you can’t say “manage,” note the perverse gender preference bias BUILT RIGHT INTO THE WORD! The mode of thinking fits tight in with military jargon that requires The Obligatory Parenthesized Acronym (TOPA) after every momentous milbabble phrase. And the Tower of Babel lingo of bureaucrats? Don’t get me started (DGMS). The power that language gives the rectitudinal Pecksniffian… Guilt and shame — too bad the Eliteare affected by neither…

      2. yamahog

        You’d be surprised. It helps that precision tools are as cheap as they are – a decent feeler gauge set and a digital vernier caliper will only set you back about $25.

        I’m in a bubble – a lot of my millennial friends have DIY car / motorcycle / robot hobbies but I’d say 2/3rds of my friends have feeler gauges and more have used feeler gauges.

    2. PKMKII

      From the click-through:

      Davis defended the penalization in an email to The College Fix. He explained that the “exercise and inclusion of ‘humankind’ are consistent with the Chicago Manual of Style, the style and the usage guide followed in the discipline of history.”

      It may be lost on the almighty STEMlords, but stylistic consistency is important for the humanities. Both within a paper as to not confuse readers as to whether or not two similar terms are referring to the same thing or not, but also across a field as to avoid semantic confusion. Sounds to me more like the student didn’t like getting docked on a technicality, and so cried “PC police!” as to generate sympathy from the freeze peach crowd.

      Also, don’t use “cuck” as an insult. Makes you sound like a child.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I’d have dinged him for use of the word is.

      What does “water is a thing prior to ‘humankind’ ” even mean? (I’d guess he meant “that existed prior to the emergence of humans” since the class is called History of Water, but that’s just a guess.)

      History in the present tense is kind of hard to wrap my head around.

      1. hunkerdown

        “Is a thing” stands on its own demerits. Is that from the UC Riverside Manual of Style or something? The grade was rightly earned just for that, never mind “man” or whatever. The “aspirational classes” have to learn to make much ado over nothing somewhere.

  7. Annotherone

    RE “10 steps to happiness learned during an intermittent life abroad”
    Lambert asked ex-pats for views. I’m one of those, but probably not exactly in the way the author of the article had in mind. I married a US citizen in 2004, emigrated from England to live in Oklahoma, somewhat late in life – aged 64. I had difficulties at first, relied a lot on a British ex-pats forum (USA Section) for support and advice. On that forum I picked up and saved a list of stages most who emigrate from Britain to USA experience, this:

    1. The honeymoon period when all seems new and interesting. It is a very exciting time for all.

    2. Period of weariness from the adaptation to a new environment. During this phase you start to understand, that you must work to adapt to a new life. You feel pressure, isolation, irritation, disorientation, and depression or apathy. You can start to eat and sleep too much. You can become upset over trifles. You, at times, feel ill.

    3. Period of non-acceptance of the culture of the host country. In this period you suddenly feel animosity to the USA and are surprised, how Americans can live how they live. You begin to question why you have come to America.

    4. New culture starts to make sense. You start to acquire new knowledge and skills. As you gain confidence, you become more sociable. You start to feel satisfaction that you begin to understand the American culture.

    5. Adaptation to new the culture. There is a feeling of comfort. You begin to feel and seek interaction with the new cultural environment. You accept life and conditions of American culture and take pleasure in making the distinctions between your new culture and the old.

    What the person who offered the above list didn’t say, however, is that the immigrant can experience re-runs of some of the stages at any time. Although I consider that I completed the 5-stage cycle long ago, I do still return to stages 2 and 3 on occasion, all these years later. I have not returned to England since 2005, when I took 2 trips back.

    1. Pat

      I have lived in America my entire life, and although I have traveled outside the country more than a great many Americas it has never been for any extended length of time. That said, I can honestly say that I have have experienced Stage 3 off and on for most of the last couple of decades. I don’t think it is limited to those who have lived in a different culture, familiarity with other cultures and with our own cultural changes probably means that for whatever reason the person experiencing that has recognized how many of the things irritating things Americans take for granted are unnecessary.

    2. Huey Long

      Shoot, I have been going through some of these things since moving to Brooklyn from New Jersey. I can only imagine how much worse it would be moving from the US to anywhere else!

    3. Sandler

      I am American and experience that whole cycle almost monthly! And I don’t know how you did it… Oklahoma?! Spent a week in Tulsa and have never disliked a place more… I have no problem saying they have some of the most unpleasant people in the country. And there is *nothing* to do. It makes Dallas look like Paris!

      1. Annotherone

        I know – as the song goes: “sometime in my youth or childhood, I must have done something….bad”.
        :) The people are rather nice in this S.W. area, though – and New Mexico, Land of Enchantment isn’t too far away when it all gets too much.

      2. akz

        I had the exact opposite experience in Tulsa. I found them to be the nicest people in the world.

      1. Annotherone

        No chance of that! :) Thanks y’all (I picked that up) above – makes me feel better when I’m in a Stage 3 mood, to know some natives feel the same.

    4. Zzzz Andrew

      Man, that’s a pretty good article. I spent about 3 years abroad in my 20s, in 3 different countries. A lot of what the author says resonates; I walked away with some similar lessons, in fact. Some things that I thought while reading his list:


      I didn’t have this problem, partly because I had been pretty damn down at home (the US) to begin with, partly because I had no particular expectations once I’d solved the problem of paying for food and shelter abroad (which occupied a lot of time and energy); but mainly, I think, because I have never in my life had such an easy time with people. When you’re a hardcore introvert and suddenly every single conversation is a portal of discovery (for both sides), down feelings can be flipped pretty easily.


      This is the very first thing I would recommend to anyone abroad. Finding a way to communicate with whatever words happen to be in your hand is a miracle that you can experience over and over, and it’s the best feeling ever. It doesn’t go away with fluency, either, because after linguistic fluency there is cultural fluency. Stuff you’re just not supposed to know, but randomly do, comes through in the clutch time and time and time again. Plus it was a way to justify to myself all the time that I wasn’t spending building a career or something productive like that. Best investment ever.


      My take on this was to focus on going “deep,” rather than “around.” Find a place where you can take care of the basics and then just learn what’s there. This was partly making a virtue of necessity — I was too broke to actually travel — but things you can see as a tourist are likely to be there for another, future visit. Conversations, tastes, smells, turns of phrase, stories … those things are hard to reach, and you have to try to cull them while they’re in focus.


      Took me a long time to wake up to this one. There was a night once that I was drunk in a slum after a party, with people I didn’t know, and this guy pulled out a wedge of cheese he’d brought from his hometown — with large worms crawling on it, like yellow, half-a-centimeter-long worms. Everyone else there was from the same place, and they all ate some, assuring me that the worms were supposed to be there … and because I was an idiot, I declined. Afterward I realized what should have been obvious at the time, that I was never going to get a chance to eat that cheese again. In retrospect, by far the most important things I experienced, or at least that I remember as objects of experience, were people, language, alcohol, and food. (In fact it’s probably true to say that it was living abroad that taught me the primary importance of concretenesses — sense details — ahead of broad ideas, if that makes any sense …)


      This was something I learned big time. It is unbelievable how many doors will open to a proleptic apology for not knowing how to behave, and a smile. I thought at the time, and still do, that this was partly a function of my being an American; despite all the awful sh*t wreaked by the US across the planet, for whatever reason, lots of people’s first reaction to an individual American wanting to experience their world is one of generosity, and I rather doubt that this extends universally, let alone in reverse. Even people who wanted to argue with me about America were welcoming, on the whole. Maybe that’s changed over the years, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had, but man, what an undeserved fortune for me personally.

      Good article.

      1. Jagger

        ——-On eating things you don’t recognize.—-

        Dependent on the part of the world you are in, you can eat stuff that can you put you in the hospital for miserable weeks. Better be comfortable with the sanitation standards. What the locals can eat, can be an absolute disaster for you.

    5. ChrisPacific

      Anthony Bourdain put it well:

      A constant on my travels is nice, incredibly hospitable people, often very reasonable people. Unfortunately, another constant is that nice, reasonable people are being ground under the wheel.

      In my experience this was definitely true in America.

    6. Ook

      Most of my adult life has been overseas, in two Asian countries and one western country. Most of the points he made seemed self-evident, except number 8: Learn how to explain the culture you’re living in to your fellow citizens.

      In fact, this is so far outside most people’s experience that nobody really wants to know about where you are living, except insofar as you can offer up insights that validate their preconceptions. And these are often well-educated, successful, intelligent people, so it is not just a matter of lack of curiosity: some things can’t be explained, they have to be experienced, and on a gut level, most people know this.
      Plus, it’s hard to distill 20 years of experience in a very different country into an elevator speech. Even worse than people who don’t ask are those who say “so you lived 20 years in Upper-Ookboovia! What’s that like?”

    7. a different chris

      This is good stuff but this was boiled down into three, not 10, simple steps by my BIL:

      1) Love it, all new, approx 1 yr
      2) Hate it, still can’t really speak the language, feel alone, approx 1 year
      3) It’s suddenly simply where you live, now and for the foreseeable future.

      The transition between #2 and #3 is only noticed when looking backwards.

  8. Mark Gisleson

    Sales of ebooks are down because they are overpriced, DRMed, and a pain in the butt. That doesn’t mean people aren’t reading more and more ebooks.

    An entire generation has grown up not understanding why anyone would buy a book, CD or movie and really, why would you? These industries aren’t giving us what we want. It’s still up to fans/pirates to create inspired collections, digitally restore old recordings, clean up live performances, etc.

    The suits can’t be bothered because they’re too busy making the newest remake of something we’ve already seen, heard or read. The longer the copyright industries take to reform themselves, the more likely it is that digital culture will become something everyone expects get for free.

    1. Pat

      I think a lot of people are also discovering how much digital media is legally “loaned” and how much more control there is over it than of physical versions. Even if the media industries want them treated the same, they can’t. In many ways an ebook is just an expensive library book with no due date.

      I am probably the exception here, as I don’t feel a need for paper except for the knowledge that short of fire I will probably have something forever. And while I do sometimes roam the library for books that aren’t for ‘entertainment’, I fully admit I have an extensive ebook library (supposedly) purchased on the cheap. With promotional pricing, it is the modern version of a cheap paperback from the drugstore. It is easy to transport, I can read them anywhere and change willy nilly from book to book. The ones most likely to be ‘keepers’ are largely cookbooks also acquired at cheap promotional costs. But I do troll used book stores for hard covers of any book I want to keep forever.

      1. katiebird

        Pat, I agree with you on every point (although I want to learn a LOT more about your first paragraph)

        When I read fiction, I get lost in the story. It doesn’t matter to me at all whether I am holding a book or an ebook. There’s a movie in my brain and I don’t even notice much about what’s going on around me. I LOVE having my library at my fingertips.

        I do actually like reference material in paper. But I just can’t justify spending maybe $50 for a hardcover computer book when all I need is a chapter or two … and mostly just need THAT for a maybe a month. So I’ve come up with an ebook compromise on that. And hope that my Public Library develops a larger Technology Collection.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am hoping for artificial intelligence book-robots this Christmas.

        AI book-robots read books to me on demand, or project them holographically for me to read.

        It can retrieve any passage from any book.

        The real good AI book-robots, the ones that know origami, can fit into any pocket of one’s tweed jacket, when they origami themselves into something like a cigarette case.

        1. Adamski

          OK. Ebook reader I described above, with a foldable screen and body, which can be reduced to the size of a pamphlet and go into a trouser pocket. And can appear as a hologram of Mélenchon.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And, in my not-so- humble opinion, Carter’s post-presidential writings​ are a lot more interesting than what we will see from Obama.

    2. Andrew Watts

      That’s what happens when society is governed by the petty logic and values of the merchant.

    3. ChrisPacific

      I recently Googled this myself after discussing it with my wife (whose position on it was similar to Trevor Noah’s, although she did concede that expectation of big speaking fees after the fact might conceivably influence policy decisions while in office). Carter and especially Truman were admirable, but it’s a depressingly short list. At least it seems to be registering in public consciousness now, which is a positive step.

    4. Darius

      It’s significant that Warren has now publicly criticized The Awesome One. Perhaps she sees an opening that wasn’t there before. Whether it’s the Wall Street reward or a dawning realization that things sucked throughout the Obama years, Obama may be vulnerable to real criticism.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        I don’t think Obama would have gotten such lucrative speaking fees on the corporate speaking circuit if he had gone after the crooks on Wall Street, the robosigners, or enacted single payer healthcare. Obama chose Wall Street over Main Street from Day One. Anything otherwise would have earned him the label “anti-corporate” or “anti business” and he would have been treated like a leper by the very elite folks that he desires to be part of.

        If Bernie ever does get elected President, I expect him to get very little on the speaking circuit, post-presidency. He’d probably shun it anyway. But he would have been loved by millions and treated with same reverence depression era folk reserve for FDR.

        1. Adamski

          +1. Anyone else hope the Zuck, Chelsea and Booker run against him for the Dem nom in 2020? (So that he’ll crush them)

    5. JustAnObserver

      Interesting cynical (?) though occurs to me: May be these $400,000 speaking fees are a kind of sacrificial protection. After much criticism Obama graciously abandons them. Leaving only the $60,000,000 from the book … which everyone has conveniently forgotten while focusing on the Wall Street speeches. A truly Bernaysian coup as he retains the BIG $$$ and while simultaneously burnishing his “civilized” reputation by dropping the little stuff.

      As has been said on this blog many times. Obama thinks anything can be fixed with better PR.

      1. John k

        There is never enough. Corp jet too small.
        There will be many 400k fees. Clinton nicely paid for taking out glass Segall, but lots of bankers should now be in jail… remember Black jailed over 1000 in S&L crisis. Corp fines never as much as the booked profit, just cost of doing business.

        But jail time… what would you pay of somebody else’s money to stay out of jail, keep your CEO position and maintain bonuses?
        So they owe him big time. And clearly would want Biden or whatever neolib comes next to know he too will get the diamond retirement package, nicely adjusted for inflation, to protect them from the pitchforks.

        1. Adamski

          Anti-Biden campaign ad writes itself, puncturing any populist pretensions by contrasting him with the Kinnock footage

      2. JTFaraday

        “Leaving only the $60,000,000 from the book … ”

        Obama was always going to be rich. Which is why he should have prosecuted every angle of the financial crisis to the fullest extent, (although I’m not surprised he didn’t).

        “A truly Bernaysian coup as he retains the BIG $$$ and while simultaneously burnishing his “civilized” reputation by dropping the little stuff.”

        Obama doesn’t have to justify his earnings from the book. He has to justify his failed presidency.

  9. DonCoyote

    Wow, that Medium article stirred up many years of accumulated science fiction color references, which I will now dump here in a (futile) attempt to settle them back down:

    1) Restaurant At the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams): Hotblack Desiato and the black stunt ship

    “It’s so … black!” said Ford Prefect, “you can hardly make out its shape … light just seems to fall into it!”
    Zaphod said nothing. He had simply fallen in love.
    The blackness of it was so extreme that it was almost impossible to tell how close you were standing to it.
    “Your eyes just slide off it…”

    “It’s the wild colour scheme that freaks me,” said Zaphod whose love affair with this ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight, “Every time you try to operate on of these weird black controls that are labelled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let you know you’ve done it. ”

    2) Shadow of the Torturer (Gene Wolfe) The garb of the torturer”:
    I put on the cloak… the hue fuligin, which is darker than black, admirably erases all folds, bunchings and gatherings so far as the eye is concerned, showing only a featureless dark.

    The New Sun series also featured argent, a color that was “more pure than white”.

    3) Shades of Gray (Jasper Fforde). Much more obscure than the above two, but color is absolutely critical. I can do no better than quote the Wikipedia page:

    “Chromatacia is a future dystopian society that exists at least five hundred years (although possibly more) after the collapse of our own society, identified as ‘the Previous’…

    The social hierarchy of Chromaticia is defined by the ability to see colour, which is limited in most people to varying degrees of one hue, or at most two. Those who can see red predominantly are in the second-lowest social order (only ranking above ‘Greys’, who cannot perceive colour), and ‘Ultra Violets’ hold the highest rank. The perception of colour also affects their health and wellness: certain colours have medical effects on people, and doctors in this world are called “swatchmen”, since they show swatches of colour to their patients. Shades of green, especially Lincoln green, act as a narcotic, and are often abused as recreational drugs.”

    Nature is much less appreciated than now, and Chromatacians overall have a very hard to impossible time seeing in the dark. Fewer/more specialized rods and no cones, perhaps.

    But back to the Medium article–it makes sense to me that, like sounds, you can learn color distinctions at an early age (e.g. tonality of Chinese) that are much harder to distinguish later in life.

    1. Jim Haygood

      References 1 and 2 are examples of SF describing the look and feel of a fictitious product which subsequently is actually produced:


      Much as William Gibson’s utterly convincing description of a web browser with 3D data visualization in Neuromancer (1984) helped shape the UI of actual browsers which followed a decade later.

    2. ChrisPacific


      The colour of magic (Octarine, the eighth colour in the spectrum that can only be seen by wizards in Pratchett’s Discworld series)

      The colour out of space (H. P. Lovecraft) which was the feature in one of his most famous short stories (now public domain and easily accessible)

  10. Pat

    It is going to be an even longer four years than I thought. Between Democrats that won’t go away, and the founder of the incredibly evil Facebook trying to be one with the working class gouging out your eyes and ears may become irresistible.

    1. jrs

      He sure makes those $400 plus fake dirt, fake working class pants, look harmless. I mean how harmful are a pair of pants for people with more money than sense really?

      So unless Zuckerberg aspires to be the new Studs Turkel in early retirement, he’s up to no good. Doing a political tour WITHOUT actual politics. He is the Huell Howser of touring a manufacturing plant (wow that’s amazing!) The perfect set up for a neoliberal candidate.

    2. Huey Long

      Will the proles in flyover find the taste of Zuckerberg’s Bernays Sauce palatable I wonder?

      I think they’ll find him about as credible as they found Nelson Rockefeller, so I think Zuck’s ceiling is California governor, maybe veep.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      Interestingly, Z’s excursion to the hinterlands has gotten no local press here. Which seems strange.

      1. Marina Bart

        It could be that the primary goal is good PR (and film clips to use later) directed at Democratic Party donors and power players.

        It would be a viable play. The Democratic Party demonstrably does not care if people in the hinterlands actually like them. They only care if they can tell a story saying the necessary number of hinterlanders like a candidate, so they can run the same play again. “Here’s our billionaire candidate. See how young and clean-cut he is? He’s such a great guy, he’s willing to actually enter Wisconsin and shake hands with those deplorable people. What courage! What committment!” Zuck would be the presidential version of Ossoff.

    4. voxhumana

      I doubt anyone else will write this so I will: besides lacking anything close to charm or charisma, Zuckerberg is butt ugly. The boy was hit hard with the ugly stick, fell high from the ugly tree, dipped deeply in the ugly pond. Who could vote for a face like that?

      1. Art Eclectic

        Ugly is a state of mind, in that respect he’s better looking than you.

        1. hunkerdown

          I strongly disagree. Harvard is one of the places where minds get beaten with the ugly stick.

        2. voxhumana

          I am humbled, indeed, chastened by the exceptional humanity evident in your defense of Zuckerberg’s woeful mug and apologize profusely if I’ve hurt the delicate feelings you have for him, Art. He is, after all, a very important person…

          “Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the Bureau of Wildlife” – Muhammad Ali

          “I was so ugly my mother used to feed me with a slingshot” – Rodney Dangerfield

          “Very ugly things were said about me” – Carly Fiorina

          “Optimism – the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly” – Ambrose Bierce

          “We live in ugly times” – David Byrne

          “Never pick a fight with an ugly person…. they’ve got nothing to lose.” – Robin Williams

    5. Kurtismayfield

      No one is really going to take this grown man child seriously as a politician right? Anyone that has seen “The social network” or knows anything about bookface’s history is not going to believe a word that man says.

      1. John k

        He could pay 100/vote to 70 million people… Er… pay that much to the super smart elites that ran her campaign, plus 1million each to the supers…
        What he’s doing now is based on super smart advice…
        That much money is dangerous.

        1. Adamski

          $1.3 billion, token gestures and all the super smart advice in the world didn’t clinch it for the equally inauthentic Clinton.

    1. Roger Smith

      Looks like hanging out with those establishment fools is working out real well for him, or Weaver, or both.

      What a shame. Pretty degrading for political action as well, as it if is some trendy crap peddled by J14 magazine. Will it include scratch and sniff stickers? Didn’t anyone tell him that the current liberal understanding of politics as a hipster, cool kid paradise was part of the problem?

      1. Mac na Michomhairle

        Judging from the article in the link, it’s a book for teenagers about current American issues and organizing. I’m not sure where you guys are getting the other stuff you said, and I’m not quite sure what is degrading or shameful about the book.

      2. Adamski

        Such cynicism. Have only just heard of this book, but his “Our Revolution” one got good reviews. And anything that gives him a war chest to sink Hillary 2020 is good

  11. Pedro

    Ebooks would be great if their response time were fast enough. Perhaps the latest models are better but all the ones I have dealt with are very laggy. Are they improving?

  12. reader

    Wisconsin hasn’t been “squeaky clean” in a long LONG time. Idiot raters. People are disgusted – they know local roads all over are disintegrating, schools have to have referendums to meet operating expenses (there’s a move in the legislature to not allow that any more), and they can’t even hire teachers because so many have fled the state. I think the unemployment rate is only officially low (if it really is) because so many people are working multiple jobs. Bridges etc need repair, along with the local roads, but what the DOT is building is millions of roundabout complexes – often three in a row for one intersection, and bigger interstates from Milwaukee to Chicago. More wells are polluted or going dry all the time.

    The corruption started with Tommy, and just continued with Doyle and Walker. State government is incredibly bad these days (I used to work in it). It’s totally corrupt. It demands ignorance and mindless sucking up in its managers at all levels. Not good working conditions fir people who have even a scrap of integrity.

    No, I’m not exaggerating.

    The Democratic Party, too, is just as hopeless as the R’s, (though I used to work on their campaigns).

    1. Huey Long

      Reading your comment brought an old saying to mind coined by Mayor LaGuardia:

      ““There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets.”

      1. Adamski

        reader’s comment makes Wisc sound like your home state before you took over back in the day, Huey

    2. jrs

      And anyone could have foreseen some of it, basically you take a state with good schools etc. and then add Walker and any Californian can tell you what’s coming when everything is underfunded and a cluster@#$# (because we know what Prop 13 actually did). But it’s what WI wanted. What madness possesses formerly sensible mid-westerners to get them to vote for those types of Republicans anyway? Who knows. A death drive or something is the only way to explain such behavior really.

      1. Darius

        Walker is a product of the Democrats’ implosion in 2010 and 2014. The Party About Nothing and all.

  13. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re: Ethiopian Industrial Workers: I always predicted that after people in Asia got too uppity, the capitalists would move on to Africa, which they’ve been ruthlessly stripping of resources and politically manipulating for a century and a half. It’d be encouraging if people in Africa just said, ‘Eff It’ as those seem to have done. The Archons will have to find a way to force them into it. Maybe some more destabilization by western intelligence agencies. That sure keeps the price of diamonds high.

    1. Huey Long

      Intel’s already pretty deep in Africa (See Françafrique, Thomas Sankara), although I could totally see them importing a Charles Taylor type figure from abroad to destabilize the countryside in order to terrorize the populace into fleeing to company towns to seek the protection of the industrialists.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Flash back to Angola: Cuban troops protecting US mining activities from attack by CIA-sponsored terrorists (oops, freedom fighters) led by Jonas Savimbi, under the brand name “UNITA.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-12-04/news/8603310808_1_angola-cuban-rebels This all part of de-colonizing from the gentle ministrations of the Portuguese imperial entity… https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angolan_Civil_War

        “You wouldn’t understand. It’s complicated.” “But Yossarian still didn’t understand how Milo could buy eggs in Malta for seven cents apiece and sell them at a profit in Pianosa for five cents.” Or contract with the Nazis to use US bombers and crews and bombs, and .50-cal ammo and fuel, to bomb and strafe US troops on their own air base, for “cost plus fifteen percent,” because it was “good for the Syndicate, of which “everyone has a share!”

  14. LT

    RE: NY Times – “Everything We Knew About Sweatshops…”
    “The first defense of industry probably still holds: Over time, a booming sector tends to improve labor conditions and bid up wages as more businesses compete for workers.”

    Don’t laugh….nah…go ahead.

    1. diptherio

      It’s a very telling article. The conventional wisdom that turned out to be wrong is just one example of the panglossian nature of orthodox economics. An economist who puts forth a seemingly sound argument that valorizes the actions of capitalists will be rewarded by capitalists, and will thereby gain a reputation as an expert, since we tend to equate financial and intellectual status. Any who question the panglossian take are required to provide evidence to back up their assertion, something which the apologists are never asked for. But, of course, data are difficult to acquire in terms of both money and time. By the time evidence can be gathered and analyzed, the status-quo serving argument has become the conventional wisdom.

      It helps if the argument in question regards something most people have no direct experience of, like what poverty looks like in an African country. Urbanized Westerners assume that life in the rural non-West must be just the worst thing ever. And doing anything that will benefit the West, like producing manufactured goods for them, must necessarily be more desirable than whatever other options exist. It’s simple ethnocentrism.

      There’s also the bizarre blindness that refuses to acknowledge that the capitalist economic system (or whatever we have now) is dependent on squeezing labor as much as possible, whether in a “core” nation or in one of the imperial colonies. You can’t be both the recipient of the squeezing and the beneficiary, but I’ll be darned if orthodox economists don’t keep trying to convince us otherwise.

      1. Huey Long

        Urbanized Westerners assume that life in the rural non-West must be just the worst thing ever.

        I was one of those aforementioned urbanized westerners until I saw a documentary called “The Happy People” about a small Russian village on the Yenisei River.

        These people had no iPhones, flat screen TVs, running water, or flush toilets yet by the end of the film I found myself envying their lives. These people didn’t have to answer to bosses, the tax man, anybody really.

        I highly recommend the film to the entire NC commenteriat. I prefer the four part version that aired on Russian TV that is available on YouTube, but the 90 minute version narrated by Werner Herzog works too.

      2. LT

        “By the time evidence can be gathered and analyzed, the status-quo serving argument has become the conventional wisdom.”

        Conventional wisdom is what you say over and over again to people who don’t pay attention.

  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: “UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it” [Seattle Times]. “We”?

    The intelligentsia. I’ve found that the vast majority of professionals will typically align themselves with institutional power under the guise of intellectual neutrality as it provides their social status and privilege. Professor Starbird is nothing more than a lone voice in the wilderness without her present employment and association with the University of Washington. Hence her perfectly understandable alarm about the spread of, in her study’s words, “alternative narratives” to the ones presented by our government or corporate media. Neither of which have proven to be free of any kind of bias or stand as a paragon of truth.

    I think this phenomenon is driven by a crisis in political legitimacy, collapse of institutional credibility, ignorant skepticism, and superstitious belief that is just barely secular in nature. Besides being culturally and politically corrosive mass media is a disempowering force in modern society. It’s a passive experience where the only interaction is the emotionally-driven response generated. Even if that’s just contemptuous humor.

    The antics of Alex Jones / Infowars is an emotional and/or spiritual release of sorts for it’s listeners from what I’ve observed. They get to silently scream and yell alongside the host at the presumably evil and unseen forces which control their lives. For all intents and purposes it’s an incantation or a curse. Beyond that there is a deep seated individual fear of a chaotic/violent world where in the absence of invisible forces, whether man or deity, they’ve been abandoned to flail about as best as they can. The inability to deal with existential despair is one of the reasons why I think religion is going to play a bigger societal role in the future.

    Members of the intelligentsia aren’t really capable of understanding this phenomenon as they are exempt from the economic insecurity, uncertainty about the future, and cruelty which the proletariat-deplorables are faced with on a daily basis.

    1. LT

      Sanders, long-time elected official, had to know he was “running with a bad crowd.” Pun intended.

    2. dontknowitall

      I agree. I wonder if it is what Lambert mentioned as an uptick in opposition research against Bernie and also maybe the blob refusing to give him credit for legislative accomplishments.

      1. Adamski

        There were some anti-Sanders diaries on Daily Kos around the time the April Harvard-Harris poll came out, which showed Sanders beating Clinton (they’re still polling about her) among women, equal with blacks, and more popular than her with Dems.

        So naturally those Clintonite Kossacks were saying he is being racist and sexist and isn’t a real Democrat blah blah.

  16. Optimader

    Re the obama fixed pic..
    I think michelle is trying to make a hand gesture of a Black Widow spider paralysing a victim, kinda like some people pantomime a Heart shape?

    1. polecat

      Barry better watch his back then …. or is it his head ….. ??

      I do know that female spiders will often eat the males head whilst .. uhh .. copulating !

      …. of course, that particular pair of spiders might possibly have moved beyond such behaviors.

    2. nippersdad

      The first impression I got when I saw that picture was of the Grinch, just after he had made off with Whoville’s Christmas but before they started to sing anyway.

      It is an uncanny likeness.

  17. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “10 steps to happiness learned during an intermittent life abroad” [Medium]. Expat readers? Economic refugees? What do you think?

    Especially #7 and #1 together. I knew an American in Seoul who knew all of 12 words – and was proud of his ignorance. There was no end of fun to be had in arguing with Koreans about whether the food was too spicy for my American tastebuds – and pointing out that since we were having the argument in Korean, perhaps I actually knew what I wanted (mmmmm….jampoong at the 19th floor Chinese restaurant of the Korea Press Center behind City Hall). “Explain the culture” includes “Don’t be an ignorant and rude American – you wouldn’t act that way in the US (or maybe they would, who knows?) don’t act that way here!” I certainly had polite debates about America (frequently opting for “hellifIknow!” as no better answer), Korea, and the relations therebetween….but they were POLITE!

    Re: Number 3 – also eat things you do recognize, but eat them from little tiny shops tucked away where the tourists never seem to find them. And if possible, as a part of explaining your culture, grab some coworkers for homemade something-or-other. My office friends didn’t believe I could cook – until they watched me sit down at the stove. Granted, it was nothing more exciting than burritos, but just the idea of a single male preparing his own food was an amazing novelty for them to see….

    I would agree, too, on keeping a journal. I wish I had.

  18. a different chris

    Warning: Skip this post for your own mental health!

    So in ref to the other “derangement” syndrome, yes I still regularly parse thru the Daily Kos catastrophe! So in the spirit of “I read those guys so you don’t have to” here is another reminder of why you don’t go to that site anymore:

    He remains an illegitimate POTUS, who stole the election and almost certainly committed felonies in doing so. Just like Nixon in ‘72 (but with even less honesty!) Were would be be if we accepted this advise — which the John Connely Dems pushed — then?

    Deal with reality. Der Traitor has the market on fantasy sh*t cornered.

    That is the comment in full. I mean… ugh really. You think he stole the election (proof?), committed felonies (proof?)… yeah you got no proof at all. At all. It’s just in your head — that’s the corner where all the “fantasy sh*t” got stuck, dude. Do you really understand what the words “Deal with reality” actually mean?

    Ok, and if you haven’t been smart enough to avert your eyes yet here is a Recommended Diary by some other snot:

    These towns are fiscally conservative but socially moderate, and Republicans have been allowed to win these areas for far too long. Democrats from these areas are going to run centrist campaigns, but they are going to be for all of the things that are important to being a Democrat: pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-environment, etc.

    Literally, the list stops there. Hey, how about a country that offers respectable, stable employment opportunities? Not important to a Democrat? Well enjoy watching the sun set on the Party, then. (and I’m a enviro-Nazi but at least I have a clue that people like/need to work..)

    1. Huey Long

      What’s the Daily Kos anyway?

      I know they get pilloried here regularly, but I am unfamiliar with the site.

      1. JustAnObserver

        Its ZeroHedge for Dem apparachiks. As Gold is to ZH so Hillary is to DK, a cosmic absolute never to be questioned.

        And ye shall know them by their comment section.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s commonly referred to as “the great orange Satan.” I’m pretty certain this is an Atrios.

          DailyKos started as a user generated political blog focused on “more and better” democrats. It was a hotbed for support of candidates such as Ned Lamont. Without DKos, I doubt his candidacy would have existed. It’s founder MarkKos besides tolerating fairly nasty people (the 2007/2008 Hillary/Obama supporters were vile) largely sold out to the Democratic Party elite and drove the site to not tolerate dissent or criticism of elected Democrats.

          One result is every six months or so their are new exiles who lament what happened to that place. It was always garbage except for Meteor Blades.

          Those people, the Kossacks, are also obsessed with picture blogs of politicians families.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe there’s an early one for those who have already ordered.

      That said, everybody who can should go to the FedCo tree sale! They’ve got every kind of plant you could want, including plenty of interesting perennial flowers.

  19. Lupemax

    Don’t know where to post this but it is brilliant satire and everyone must watch it – with a most optimistic ending, IMHO. If only. I’ve watched it twice and it has made my day. Very well done! The link has been dropped from youtube many times so I hope this link works. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh7lSIBqfBg

    We need bernie Sanders version…….

  20. LT

    Re: Zuckerberg 2020:

    Just when “anti-trust laws” and “Silicon Valley” were being used in the same sentence….

    1. LT

      And I’d imagine a billionaire health insurance company owner or executive will run. That’s when you will know Medicare-For-All or Single Payer is really on the table.

  21. cocomaan

    Ebooks are a Bezzle and many now realize it.

    An amazon library can’t be ported to someone else. Ebooks just can’t be shared easily, if at all, because of DRM. Nobody is inheriting grandma’s ebook collection!

    Give me a book I can share any day of the week. Reading is more than a personal activity to me, it’s also social.

  22. Kim Kaufman

    ““Former Obama adviser and CNN political analyst Van Jones…

    Thanks for the reminder to keep ignoring Van Jones.

  23. JoeK

    All you need to know about creeps like Zucky is that he has to add “you’re welcome future F150 owner.”


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