Links 5/22/17

Ringling Brothers circus stages final show BBC (furzy)

The vanishing animals that future generations will never see Telegraph

Norway to boost protection of Arctic seed vault from climate change (martha r)

Mount Everest’s famous Hillary Step destroyed, mountaineers confirm  BBC (furzy). And in this case, global warming has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Remeasuring Stephen Jay Gould Jacobin

Big game hunter is crushed to death when an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe is shot and falls on top of him Daily Mail (martha r). Oops. takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives (Chuck L). Despicable.

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence Guardian

California Authorities Are Failing to Track and Prevent Abuse of Police Databases TruthOut

Trump Administration Deploys a Controversial Tool in Its Immigration Crackdown Truthdig

Police State Watch

The cruel but usual conditions inside two Georgia immigration detention centers The Hill (Phil U)

A predictable nuclear accident at Hanford Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Hanford contractor finds radioactive contamination on worker’s clothes The Oregonian

How a US Non-Proliferation Failure Became a Global Cyber Security Threat The Wire


Agent Based-Stock Flow Consistent Macroeconomics: Towards a Benchmark Model Phil U: “Stiglitz essentially jumps on board with MMT. Below is just a small highlight.” Moi: Wowie zowie!

Corporate America’s “Reverse Yankees” Shoot to Record in ECB Absurdity, But Who Are the Losers? Wolf Street (EM)


EU dusts off forgotten body for Brexit big time Politico

WHO spends more on travel than some major health initiatives, internal documents show SCMP. This story breaks just in time for today’s kick off of WHO’s 9-day World Health Assembly in Geneva, at which a new WHO director general will be elected tomorrow, to replace the outgoing Margaret Chan.


Sad and bad news at Calpers: Jelincic to retire and Governor and Treasurer propose a gimmick Meditations on Money Management


Column: The entire health care industry is panicking that Trump is about to blow up Obamacare Chicago Tribune

Don’t send me back to a high-risk pool, Obamacare enrollees say CNN (Phil U)

Health Care

A Vital Drug Runs Low, Though Its Base Ingredient Is in Many Kitchens NYT

Class Warfare

MALTA FILES A single comprehensive site to access stories about investigations undertaken by the network, European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), comprising 13 media outlets and 49 journalists in 16 countries and 12 languages. First place to check for stories on this topic.

The Secret Anti-Landlord Origin of Monopoly Vice

Even if you don’t have student loans, you should want them to be forgiven Business Insider. Yes, I agree, but the objective should be much, much broader.  Free college!


Did China Hack The CIA In Massive Intelligence Breach From 2010 To 2012? International Business Times

Opinion: why Afghanistan’s stability is so important to China SCMP

Chinese paper applauds anti-spy efforts after report CIA sources killed Reuters

S&P downgrades the entire dumb bubble Macrobusiness


Bank NPA crisis: Narendra Modi needs to do a real ‘surgical strike’ on bad loans, not random shots Firstpost

India looks to the heavens as monsoon dance begins Asia Times. And not a moment too soon for parts of the subcontinent afflicted by either heat or drought.

From war protestors to labour activism: India’s first IT workers union is being formed in Tamil Nadu


Peace Activists Confront Amy Goodman on Biased Syria Coverage Black Agenda Report (bob k)

Trump Transition

All the President’s Guests Politico (Phil U). The UNAUTHORIZED White House visitor logs.

Melania Trump hails ’empowerment of women’ at Saudi company visit Reuters. You can’t make this stuff up: Who writes her material? Sign that writer up for a sitcom!

Landslide Win for Iran’s Reformists Doesn’t Fit Trump’s Script, So He Ignores It The Intercept

Corporate A-Listers Descend on Riyadh for Trump’s CEO Summit Bloomberg. Lest anyone had forgotten that the business of America is business (my paraphrase).

Trump Comes To Riyadh Bearing Gifts – Weapons Approved By Obama Foreign Policy

Asia in the Trump Era Foreign Affairs. Worth the occasional glance at the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Donald Trump’s speech to the Muslim world was filled with hypocrisy and condescension Independent. Robert Fisk’s latest.

Donald Trump puts US on Sunni Muslim side of bitter sectarian war with Shias Independent. Patrick Cockburn’s take.

Trump visits Israel amid tight security BBC (furzy)

Donald Trump and Barack Obama on the Arab world – how do they differ? Telegraph. Posting this so that readers who may have missed the infamous sword dancing sequence may see it in all its glory in the embedded clip. Unusually, Trump looks a bit uncomfortable in his skin, and the moves he busts seem to this unpracticed eye at least to have germinated in Studio 54 rather than from any Arabian Nights.

Worries mount about vacancies in Trump’s State Department The Hill

Feinstein scalded by anti-Trump fervor Politico

US warned on dangers of abandoning Paris climate accord FT. More interesting than the dull headline suggests. The US seems to be standing increasingly alone on climate denialism. Note the deck: “Shell chief says Trump pledge would weaken country’s global standing.”

Phil U: “This is a much better response than getting the speaker disinvited. Great Video.”

New Cold War

Chaffetz Says He’ll Talk to Deposed FBI Director Comey on Monday. JTM: “’Deposed.’ Eh?”

2016 Post Mortem

Colorado law could increase partisan scrutiny of state journalists Columbia Journalism Review

Bill Maher gets into epic shouting match with Cornel West over Hillary versus Trump Politics Video Channel (Phil U)

The Library of Books and Bombs Paris Review (martha r)

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Deadl E Cheese

    Quoting @Delo_Taylor:

    Bill Maher told Cornel West he needed be “taught a lesson” for refusing to fall in line behind HRC. He epitomizes liberal white supremacy.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I’m glad you watched it for me. I can’t stand to listen to the smarmy Bill Maher. After his watching just enough of his anti-religion movie to make me furious, I won’t ever pay any more attention to him. I don’t know why someone with the bona fides of Cornel West deigns it appropriate to appear with him. Free speech I guess. Maybe there’s a pay day too.

      1. Marco

        Oh was it ever PAINFUL to watch. What Maher and other elite Dem’s refuse to acknowledge is that portion of the electorate in WI, MI, OH, PA, FL that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but chose to stay home in 2016. Maher is incapable of this simple cognitive twitch because of his role as douche-nozzle for power.

          1. Procopius

            No, I feel the same way. Maher is just mean-spirited, inflexible, and has no sense of humor. I can’t stand watching his smug assumption of superiority, either. He’s a perfect representative of the Democratic Party Elite. 2018 is not going to go well.

      2. Whoa Molly!

        Smarmy is the exact word for Maher.

        People I respect keep telling me he’s great, but I cant stand to watch him. After a few minutes I feel a deep need to go take a shower.

    2. DanB

      Listening to Maher I realized how trapped in a self-serving view of reality he is. His comment about -going from memory here, don’t want to watch it again- how black men wouldn’t lost health care under Hillary is preposterous in several respects. This comment ignores that fact that Obamacare does not provide health care to millions, makes real healthcare unaffordable to many who have “health insurance;” and the comment also ignorers Hillary’s “never gonna happen” single payer remarks. Maher is essentially satisfied that if you keep electing Dems incremental beneficial change for the common person will occur. It has not and it will not. This exchange also moves me closer to the conclusion that the Dem Party is utterly hopeless. Bernie Sanders served his purpose of legitimizing real options to deal with inequality, but he’s still a first pancake: you need it to get the griddle working but you don’t eat it.

      1. bmeisen

        Am tickled by the first pancake idea … do you mean that the Dem establishment used Sanders to get the attention of and/or committment from the 99%, planning all along to deny him the nomination? If so, I don’t go for it – in fact it’s a little conspriacy wacko. Also why would the Dem establishment want Sanders to “legitimize real options to deal with inequality”? If the options are real then they don’t need legitimizing. Is your mind on vacation while your fingers are typing overtime?

        I think Sanders rolled the dice, as Trump did, got his name on the ballots and history took its course. There might be some reason to ask if the Dem establishment took Sanders’s efforts seriously. Could they have kept him off a good number of ballots? Maybe not … the country is big and state party organizations may communicate poorly. Did they let him succeed thinking that he would be a useful idiot? I don’t think so. The Dem establishment lost touch and thought that HRC was a shoo-in. The story of 2016 is not that Trump won but that the Dems nominated HRC. And Maher disqualifies himself as a proletarian megaphone by carrying water for HRC.

        1. DanB

          By first pancake I mean that someone had to get the ball rolling. For example, Betty Friedan was sometimes derisively referred to as the first pancake of the feminist movement of the 1960s.

      2. Benedict@Large

        “Maher is essentially satisfied that if you keep electing Dems incremental beneficial change for the common person will occur.”

        This is the disease of the upper middle class liberal. The Democratic Party tells them that healthcare is better and will get better, and because the lived experience of being on ObamaCare’s margins is not their lived experience, they believe them that all is as good as it can be. Most do not have that Jimmy Kimmel/Wendell Potter moment, when suddenly, through all of their privilege, they can begin to count the dead bodies, and feel the heartbreak of loss in those who were left behind, knowing that in a better world — a possible better world — it all could have been so easily different.

          1. John Zelnicker

            @Plenue – I don’t remember Potter’s moment, but Kimmel’s was the birth of his son with heart defects that required immediate surgery. He gave a moving monologue about it on his show.

            1. Plenue

              Ah yes, that. I did hear about that one. Reminds me of Glenn Beck, still high on the anesthetic, talking from a hospital bed about how bad American healthcare is, and how he had no idea it was in such need of reform. He very quickly dropped that line of thinking.

      3. Adam Eran

        Worth remembering: Maher publicized donating $1million to Obama’s presidential campaign. Perhaps there’s a movie in this: Clueless in Hollywood

        He’s not the only one with Hillary/Trump derangement syndrome. Chelsea Handler finds uninformed Trump supporters and makes jokes…

    3. CanCyn

      And how is that Maher can completely forget Bill’s ‘super predators’? “Hillary would not have been ok” with police getting away with murdering black people? What is it in the Clinton past gives Maher that idea? American jails are full to over flowing with poor, black people. That didn’t happen in the past 100ish days. Obama was ok with it, HRC is ok with it, most well to do professional white Dems are ok with it.
      I used to really appreciate Bill’s show but he lost me with his blind support for HRC and his inability to see the Dems for what they are. Another case of it being hard to see something that your paycheque depends on your not seeing.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bill was a “libertarian” for much of his career where his ability to smoke pot in public was his primary concern. Maher is the epitome of the “Ive got mine to hell with everyone else” crowd.

      2. neo-realist

        The bigger issue that I have with Maher is that with the exception of Cornel West, most of the lefties/liberals that appear on his show tend to be rather milquetoast, while the righties and establishmentarians tend to be very outspoken in their views, thereby giving Maher some semblance of opposition and making him look progressive (I know he isn’t beyond pot and religion.) I wish more lefties like West appeared on his show to get in Maher’s kitchen and give him and his audience the real deal (I know I’m dreaming.)

        1. Plenue

          West was for a long time, and to some extent still is, one of the few real leftists mainstream media will actually allow on. I think they figure that with his wild hair and snaggletooth, people will view him as a clown and discount him.

          1. petal

            Yes, it happens-the morning after his talk at Dartmouth, the write-up in the local paper started off with snarky comments about his physical appearance in order to discount him-even went so far as to use the term “buck-toothed”.

    4. bob

      Maher- “learn a lesson”

      Maher, at close of video “time for new rules”

      Now Pense is acceptable.

      It’s good he styles himself as a comedian. I can’t imagine anyone else getting away with what he did in that clip.

    5. RUKidding

      I only ever paid attention to Maher briefly and rapidly realized that (as others have said) he was a “I got MINE, Eff you” fake “libertarian.”

      I can’t imagine why someone of the stature of Cornell West would bother to give that pissant the time of day.

      File it under: there’s no such thing as bad publicity… or something.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Cornel West, Susan Sarandon, and Rosario Dawson are the greatest villains in American history. Their negativity on behalf of the white male patriarchy caused Hillary to be denied her life’s dream.

        Look at Chris Hayes tackle the great issues of the day! A tweet from the hot chick from Bull Durham! Thank God, he’s there to be super “woke,” and he wears glasses so we know hes a nerd.

        On a more serious note, the toleration for Hillary as a credible candidate given her record and general demeanor is responsible for Donald Trump. A few celebrities aren’t why Hillary under performed KERRY 0’4 in virtually every non-safe state. Donald Trump is the result of blind Democratic cheerleading. The cheerleaders created him, and they are looking for someone to blame.

        1. jrs

          Since it’s all counterfactual arguments that can’t be proven either way, it seems to me Bill Maher cheering for Hillary in the PRIMARY and not even giving Bernie the time of day or any media attention then (and he like much of the media did a near complete black out Bernie’s candidacy) had as much to do with Trump’s victory as Cornel West opposing Hillary.

          It’s all counterfactual and can’t be proven either way. But it seems more probable, that preventing a better candidate from running against Trump was at least as disastrous as “bitter Berners” who wouldn’t vote for her highness in the general. Many of whom were probably NOT EVEN DEMOCRATS, so to assume people who aren’t even Democrats somehow OWE the Dems their vote at that point is just silly.

        2. Plenue

          As Jimmy Dore pointed out, Chris Hayes showed up to the MSNBC town halls in a crisp 600 dollar shirt. Either because he’s totally oblivious to how it looks, or because it’s genuinely the cheapest thing in his wardrobe. But don’t worry guys, he rolled up the sleeves! So you know he’s just an average working Joe!

    6. EGrise

      Re: police shootings, where Maher declares that “Trump is all for it, and Hillary would have been against it”; I really wanted West to ask him “And what exactly would Clinton have done about it?” Talk is cheap, Bill.

      1. a different chris

        >and Hillary would have been against it

        One of the few good things done in recent years is the coinage of the term “virtue signalling”. Heck, if it was a coin it would have Hillary’s face on it.

      2. jrs

        Or “what did Obama” do against it? Because then your talking historical facts and not speculation. Although it’s perfectly rational to make the assumption that Hillary would continue Obama’s policies.

        1. neo-realist

          To Obama’s credit, he and the DOJ did install Federal Monitors in cities that had issues involving police brutality of POC; And it’s likely those monitors are going away under Trump/Sessions. I’m not an Obama fan, but it’s not cut and dried that he was no better than a republican administration in this regard.

            1. witters

              And don’t forget you got it on “Obama’s credit”, so now you owe him big time…

            2. neo-realist

              It’s not the structural “change I can believe in”, but I’ll take improvement over no improvement or an even worse pattern of brutality and killing.

          1. hidflect

            Before he quaffed the Hillary Kool-Aid, Cenk used to go after Obama a fair bit and labelled him the 5% President. Federal Monitors is a good example; do 5% of what’s needed and walk away with a “done and dusted” manner.

      3. oh

        We all know Bill Maher is a kiss ass and he has no empathy for the blacks nor the people who are being imprisoned in the Gaza strip. I can’t stomach his show. Only fools and DimBots watch that moran.

    7. petal

      Here is the video of Cornel West’s talk at Dartmouth the other week. It required 3 overflow auditoriums spread out over 2 different buildings. The overflow rooms’ seats filled up so people sat on the floor and stood in the doorways. All ages, all colours were there. It was booked in a small auditorium-when I found out which room it was in I was shocked due to its small size. Also maybe only the second time I’ve seen Dartmouth security personnel at a talk. I think I had seen them when Gordon Brown spoke at Tuck, but that’s pretty much it. West did talk about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, not just Trump. I was exhausted that day but glad I attended.

    8. jrs

      plus he doesn’t seem to understand what neoliberalism is, Cornel West talks about the threat of Hillary and neo-liberalism and he seems to think Cornel is bashing Hillary for being liberal as if it was 30 years ago and “liberal” was a dirty word.

      Yes I know the term neoliberalism is a very confusing one in an American context as it’s not liberal, yes in some cases the term “capitalism” might do just as well, but come on … don’t engage in debate with Cornel West without knowing enough to even understand the basic points he is making because you don’t understand political terms. It’s completely pathetic.

      1. jrs

        this was a different discussion West had with Bill Maher but it just showed Maher is either stupid or a propagandist or both. I’m going with both.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Thanks for pointing out the error. I indeed garbled my intended link– which is different from the one you’ve so helpfully provided. Now fixed.

    2. Dead Dog

      More below, but hey, the paper suggests that taxes don’t pay for anything the government does. Not what my government tells me (sigh)

      Can’t economists (I was one) speak plainly? The paper would get more traction if it was readable.

  2. Ruben

    Thanks for the link to the Jacobin article on SJG. He was a big influence on my very young self. I think I have all his books in my old house far south, he understood Darwin like no one else.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I used to read Gould books side by side with Dawkins. The latter loathed Gould and continually attacked his scientific work. When I initially was reading both writers I knew nothing about their political backgrounds, I was simply interested in biology and palaeontology, but it became very obvious that the divide between the ‘selfish gene’ proponents and the ‘punctuated equilibrium’ ideas was fundamentally ideological, not scientific.

      Sadly, most scientists now prefer the epistemological neatness of Dawkins. But it was an introduction to me to the notion that there is an enormous amount of underlying ideology and even theology beneath many scientific notions. This doesn’t mean the science is wrong, but there is a strong tendency for subtle underlying biases to push science in directions away from abstract notions of truth. That evolutionary biologist could have such fundamental disagreements while agreeing on 99% of the science was very illuminating.

      1. Ruben

        True. Passion first, then reason, it’s the way we are and it does not mean that passion-driven reason will not find truth: passion is both an incentive and an obstacle.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To be passion is to be human. Human evolution currently favors greedy men and women (keep the faith, don’t give up…thought it’s very dark).

          The Scientific Method awaits a better species.

          Until them, it’s very dangerous for greedy humans to be associated with that method.

          1. Ruben

            “The Scientific Method awaits a better species”. That sounds awesome, but see Feyerabend.

      2. John Merryman

        One thing Gould doesn’t dwell on is that the equilibrium stage isn’t really stable, so selection pressures manifest as increasing complexity. Which sets up for the punctuation, because the finely adapted organisms can’t adjust to change.
        Which is very political.

        1. Ruben

          I think you are talking abut what SJG learned in his dad’s knees, the dialectical thing.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Evolution is driver-less.

        So should cars be…that’s the logic, I believe.

        Perhaps also driver-less corporate boards.

      4. Carolinian

        Well–contra Gould–maybe he was just “stamp collecting.” The article suggests that Darwin was prey to this “cognitive bias” due to influence from the economists of the time but the genesis of Darwin’s theory included trips to the London Zoo and observations of the commonality between animal behavior and our own. This core insight was of course what shook the world in the 19th century. The elites of the time were more than willing to view their colonial victims as animals but quite unwilling to apply the same attitude toward themselves.

        Personally I’d say the politicization of science by both racists and humanists is a mistake. The only thing that should matter is “what is true?” But it remains to be seen whether we humans are ever going to be truly objective about ourselves.

        1. Ruben

          I would slightly re-phrase the core insight of Darwin’s by saying that it is that humans are not exceptional. This continued a trend started by Galileo. It is a great temptation to feel exceptional (some very large State machinery is big on being the exceptional one) but science has been demoting our supposed exceptionality. Squirrelkind will feel exceptional too, once they rule the Earth after the exceptionally big rock from space hits and exceptional humans are out.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Grey squirrels, although a little smaller in recent eons, have been around for 30 million years in more or less the same form. They aren’t inheriting the Earth. Let someone else try!

            I for one welcome our new octopi overlords.

            1. Mudduck

              Octopi live only two to five years. They’re intelligent, interesting, but don’t linger long enough to accomplish much.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            It is a great temptation to feel exceptional… but science has been demoting our supposed exceptionality.

            Would you mind quoting that to Diane Feinstein? As discussed elswhere in today’s comments, she is awful but seems to feel Californians just can’t get by without her and plans to die affixed to her sinecure Senate seat.

            1. Shirley Ende-Saxe

              My favorite Gould quote….
              “….don’t be tempted to equate transient dominance with innate superiority or chances of extended survival.”

          3. Harold

            Copernicus (1473-58), too, maybe. Some ideas about the universe being infinite had been floating around since Aristotle is my impression. The Church wanted to revive Aristotle but not that aspect (see Averroism ) — hence the Inquisition. Averroism seems to have persisted as an undercurrent at the U of Padua – under juristiction of Venice – and hotbed of medical and other physical science. Gallileo taught there, too for a while. (Confession: years and years ago I studied Dante.)

          4. subgenius

            LIFE is exceptional… egotistical fool humans seem to miss this and are apparently intent on making it hard to impossible for it to continue in the name of idiotic and harmful con-veniences and bright shiny techno geegaws

          5. witters

            Two things: my impression from inside the Ivory Tower is that Darwinian pluralism of the Gould kind is increasingly the norm in the sciences where it counts – it has way more of the data on its side, and greater explanatory power. And two: it is obvious, post Darwin and the End of Natural Theology, that while “from the point of view of the universe” we are not special in anyway (though nor is anything else) we are (and for good natural reasons) often special to each other. And we certainly have (like everything else) distinctive species traits/properties – like those involved in doing science in the first place.

            1. Ruben

              Just following your train of thought: all our differences with other living things are of degree, all we do some other species do it too to a lesser or higher degree.

      5. lyman alpha blob

        Judging by the 2nd article in the links today and other studies regarding the 6th great extinction, I suspect we’re about to find out whether ‘punctuated equilibrium’ is correct or not. There are going to be a lot of biological niches to fill in fairly short order.

        1. Ruben

          Right, all species connected to humans will have a great time speciating away in the next few hundred thousand years. I reckon those species that made themselves evolutionary successful by adapting to being ‘kusna(*) to us (pigs, chicken and turkey, cows et al.) will explode in diversity once we develop the techniques to fabricate their meat in the lab for mass production.

          (*) ‘kusna: yummy in Russian, Putin told me.

    2. georgieboy2

      Gould faked his data. End of story.

      Only irony is that faking data is what he accused others of doing in the service of ideology.

      Ask EO Wilson about Gould’s misconduct in the service of his ideology.

      Once our generation fades away Gould’s entertainment value will be forgotten, and his role in late-20th century science may merit a footnote in some Phd student’s thesis, that is all. Punctuated Equilibrium was a marketing ploy that worked. Nothing new to the study of evolution.

      1. makedoanmend

        Please provide evidence and citations that Gould “faked” his data.

        And what’s your ideology?

        1. Bob

          I take no sides in this battle. I merely googled “Gould faked his data” and here’s what arose.

          “But the Penn team finds Morton’s results were neither fudged nor influenced by his convictions. They identified and remeasured half of the skulls used in his reports, finding that in only 2 percent of cases did Morton’s measurements differ significantly from their own. These errors either were random or gave a larger than accurate volume to African skulls, the reverse of the bias that Dr. Gould imputed to Morton.

          “These results falsify the claim that Morton physically mismeasured crania based on his a priori biases,” the Pennsylvania team writes.”

          1. makedoanmend

            Be that what is may, see my comment below which touches on the topic. The situation is more nuanced and complex than the NYT article by itself seems to convey.

            Also, to accuse one of “faking” data on the one hand or stating that one may have mismeasured data on the other hand are very different concepts with very different implications.

            As a recap of below “…At the end of their article, Lewis et al. wrote, “were Gould still alive, we expect he would have mounted a defense of his analysis of Morton.” This is a virtual certainty: Gould openly acknowledged his errors throughout his career and called “factual correction . . . the most sublime event in intellectual life.” Gould cannot defend himself, but, since Lewis et al. can, it’s curious that they have not responded to more recent peer-reviewed studies that refute key aspects of their work…”

            Like yourself, I’m not too bothered about the debate. I find Gould interesting, as I do many other scientists. Believing that any human can necessarily jettison their intellectual or belief systems in a true unbiased fashion is rather questionable in my opinion. Rather, one can acknowledge one’s limitations, and in fact learn about and incorporate them, as a furtherance to a given methodology of inquiry. I quite often found Gould acknowledged to some extent this situation.

            I can’t really remember the specifics but there was a round table discussion about such topics (Rupert Sheldrake was involved) on youtube with Gould in attendance, but is was rather long at 3+ hours.


          1. makedoandmend

            “…Far-right “race realists” unsurprisingly trumpeted the news that Gould’s findings had been “refuted.” Even among more measured critics and defenders, a narrative began to take hold: Gould had proved his point, but “it just wasn’t the example he intended.” Morton started to appear more “sinned against than sinning.”

            At the end of their article, Lewis et al. wrote, “were Gould still alive, we expect he would have mounted a defense of his analysis of Morton.” This is a virtual certainty: Gould openly acknowledged his errors throughout his career and called “factual correction . . . the most sublime event in intellectual life.” Gould cannot defend himself, but, since Lewis et al. can, it’s curious that they have not responded to more recent peer-reviewed studies that refute key aspects of their work…”

            Is this the link (one of numerous) you are citing? If so, the story is far more nuanced than the statements put forth by the poster.

            In fact, the article is far more nuanced than many comments, so far, portray.

            I really don’t have any fish to fry about evolution debates, although I am currently an aged biology student. Despite my own ideological leanings, I tend to keep a very open and, I hope, humble mind about such a complex subject.

            Gould’s ideas certainly engender food for thought in debates about evolution; whether or not said ideas can be corroborated or refuted through historical scientific methods remains to be seen.


            1. makedoanmend

              Thanks for the Feyerabend reference mentioned to another poster above. Really enjoying reading his work.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            Read the linked article; the statement: “Gould faked his data” is false, if based on the words in this article. The article cited a dispute about Gould’s remeasurment of 19th century data used to support social Darwinism in that era. His anti-racist history and biases were cited as one of the key the reasons why his findings should have been regarded as false. There were no links to the scholarly works for any of it.

            Yet another bit of soft libel in an internet comments section.

        1. a different chris

          Looks like a hit-and-run posting, so I dug myself. Turns out that EO Wilson is pretty darn interested in championing “innate”, aka “at birth” elements of human behavior. And Gould did not like that at all as you might imagine.

          What I also, accidentally and comically enough, found out that amongst these titans “an an enemy of my enemy” is at best a frenemy, as Dawkins and Wilson went after each other with pithy pitchforks as well:


          “I am not being funny when I say of Edward Wilson’s latest book that there are interesting and informative chapters on human evolution, and on the ways of social insects (which he knows better than any man alive), and it was a good idea to write a book comparing these two pinnacles of social evolution, but unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of erroneous and downright perverse misunderstandings of evolutionary theory,”

          What’s sad is the saying about the less important something is the more bitterly academics will fight over seems to be beginning to apply here, as the world devolves (see what I did there? :)) into religious theologies fighting each other, as usual, over who is right about something which is wrong.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Its actually quite funny reading how intense the disputes were over what most outsiders would consider fine points of interpretation. One writer I read talked about a meeting of Dawkins fans and noting that several reminded him of a ‘born again’ relative. The intellectual connections between the Dawkins wing and a particular strain of self righteous protestantism (as the philosopher John Grey has noted, Dawkins world view is firmly rooted in a particularly English form of Christianity despite his outspoken atheism). Gould of course was an agnostic jew, while Wilson is an atheist from a very calvinist family. Its impossible not to see this coming out in their interpretations.

        2. georgieboy2

          First off, I enjoyed Gould’s essays, and chuckled at his ability to inject the Boston Red Sox into the discussion whenever futility needed a call-out. Now to more important items:

          PLOS has kindly made this article available to the public:

          from there, a few excerpts, naturally chosen to display the point:

          “Gould famously suggested that Morton’s measurements may have been subject to bias: “Plausible scenarios are easy to construct. Morton, measuring by seed, picks up a threateningly large black skull, fills it lightly and gives it a few desultory shakes. Next, he takes a distressingly small Caucasian skull, shakes hard, and pushes mightily at the foramen magnum with his thumb. It is easily done, without conscious motivation; expectation is a powerful guide to action” [5]. While Gould offers this as only a “plausible scenario,” and did not remeasure any crania, subsequent authors have generally (and incorrectly) cited Gould as demonstrating that Morton physically mismeasured crania (e.g., [15]).”….

          “Our analysis of Gould’s claims reveals that most of Gould’s criticisms are poorly supported or falsified. It is doubtful that Morton equated cranial capacity and intelligence [6],[13], calling into question his motivation for manipulating capacity averages.”…

          “Samuel George Morton, in the hands of Stephen Jay Gould, has served for 30 years as a textbook example of scientific misconduct [12]. The Morton case was used by Gould as the main support for his contention that “unconscious or dimly perceived finagling is probably endemic in science, since scientists are human beings rooted in cultural contexts, not automatons directed toward external truth” [1]. This view has since achieved substantial popularity in “science studies” [2]–[4]. But our results falsify Gould’s hypothesis that Morton manipulated his data to conform with his a priori views. ”

          “Ironically, Gould’s own analysis of Morton is likely the stronger example of a bias influencing results [11].”

          As Gould’s preface to the 2nd edition of his book notes, he was responding to the bad science cum political agenda of Jensen and Herrnstein:

          Gould writes:
          ….Two most recent episodes also correlate with political swings.
          T h e first inspired me to write The Mismeasure of Man as a positive
          reaction with an alternative vision (not, I trust, as a negativistic
          diatribe); the second has prompted me to publish this revised version.
          Arthur Jensen launched the firs t of these recent episodes in 1969
          with a notoriously fallacious article on the supposed innateness of
          group differences in IQ (with emphasis on disparity between whites
          and blacks in America). His chilling opening line belied all his later
          claims that he had only published as a disinterested scholar , and not
          as a man with a social agenda . He began with an explicit attack upon
          the federal Head Star t program : “Compensatory education has
          been tried and it apparently has failed. ” My colleague Richard
          Herrnstein fired a second major salvo in 1971 , with an article in the
          Atlantic Monthly that became the outline and epitome of The Bell
          Curve, published with Charles Murray in 1994, and the immediate
          prod for this revised version of The Mismeasure of Man. ”

          ‘Gould faked his data’ is reasonable short-hand for what Gould did. He made a straw-man bad guy out of someone dead for a century, then tore him down. That Gould is dead now does not mean we should let our guard down for BS, no matter how beloved the source, or how just the cause may seem. That is my ideology.

          That Gould and Lewontin attacked Wilson first, with zero scientific justification for so doing, but plenty of Marxist ideology to motivate them, was the initial source of my ire years ago.

          As an aside, Wilson ran his Sociobiology book by many great scientists before he published it. One was Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, later the author of Motherhood. If you want to see a real scientist take down a stupid political actor read her comments on the rantings of the then-young Rick Santorum. That was priceless. Sadly her insight into Santorum’s delusions did not prevent him from briefly strutting across the big stage, but as the man said, so it goes.

          1. makedoanmend

            “That is my ideology.”

            Taking a scientific argument or disagreement and elevating it into a polemic is a pretty facile ideology. However, by taking the historical disagreement and imputing that someone’s ideas you oppose is faking their data (falsifying data) in order to support your own contention and so-called ideology only serves to highlight your lack of depth in scientific encounter when no such definitional event occurred.

            Scientific inquiry often benefits from disagreement and contention. It does not benefit from polemic nor false categorisation. There is nothing “reasonable” in your assertion.

            On the whole I find the whole Morton thing, in the context of evolutionary theory and in the context of Gould’s extensive enquiries, to be rather a distraction and trivial. To have an axe to grind in such circumstances doesn’t seem a fortuitous route of enquiry.

          2. Ruben

            What you quote at length here does not make it reasonable to say that Gould faked his data, far from it. You failed.

            1. georgieboy2

              Sigh…once again, the proverbial money shot, from the 2011 paper by Lewis, et al:

              “Our analysis of Gould’s claims reveals that most of Gould’s criticisms are poorly supported or falsified. ”

              Time and the truth about scientific inquiry will now do its work, your protests notwithstanding. The fact that racism is bad, and that some modern-day racists misuse science, does not justify what Gould’s falsifications. Never will.

    3. Brindle

      As an eight year-old boy in the early 60’s I had the good fortune to experience a Jay Gould lecture. My father was a geology professor at Antioch College and Gould was then a student. My childhood memory of Gould is that of a funny guy and his twinkling kind eyes.
      He certainly was one of the most brilliant scientists of our era. He always held my father in high regard.

      —“Our planet is not fragile at its own time scale, and we, pitiful latecomers in the last microsecond of the planetary year are stewards of nothing in the long run. Yet no political movement is more vital and timely than modern environmentalism — because we must save ourselves (and our neighbor species) from our own immediate folly.”—.

  3. Dan

    Re: Fienstein – some never know when they are past their use date. Her voting record is suspect. Her
    unconditional support for HC and the DNC deplorable. Maybe that MO was commendable at one time –
    as old as I am, I sure can’t remember it.

    1. XXYY

      Californian here. Feinstein has been heinous since the Iraq invasion and before. I recall her matter-of-factly making a point at the time that she was voting in favor of the war despite the fact that 99% of her constituents’ communications were opposing it. She long ago stopped representing her constituents.

      Feunstein is another good example of the point that merely electing women into positions of power is not necessarily going to help or change a thing.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Many times, the vote in the senates and the vote in the House doesn’t reflect the underlying popular vote.

        Is that also a legacy of slavery (House votes for example), when representatives don’t vote what their constituents want, when it’s the personal problem of the representative? Then, you also have the problem of indirect voting (versus direct voting), where the popular vote result(or its equivalent, the popular will) is not guaranteed to be reflected in the result of indirect voting (through representatives)…that is an inherent characteristic of indirect voting.

      2. Vatch

        Dianne Feinstein will be up for reelection in 2018. Since she’s 83 years old, it’s possible she won’t run, but if she does run, it will be important to support someone against her in the primary. Democrats Nancy Pelosi and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin already have Democratic primary opponents.

      3. RUKidding

        Feinsten rode in on the coattails of the Harvey Milk murder. Maybe in her salad days, she was better. I didn’t live in this country back then, so I don’t know.

        I’ve now lived in CA for over 25 years, and I’ve never voted for this predatory, might-as-well-be-a-Republican parasitical gorgon.

        As noted, she’s 83. One can only hope she’ll give up her seat. Sad to say, even if so, she’ll probably be replaced by someone like fake “Democrat” Kamela Harris. It’s the way things roll out here anymore. Sigh.

        1. Down2long

          I was working in TV news in San Francisco when Milk and Moscone were assassinated. This happened 3 weeks after almost 800 San Franciscans “drank the (poisoned) Kool Aide in Guyana in the “Jonestown Massacre.” Make no mistake, the City was in a terrible emotional state. The calls to the newsroom were full of paranoia and despair.

          Feinstein was useful for about 2 months. Her steadying hand helped the City get back on track. But us gay people and liberal San Franciscans had worked really hard to get Moscone and Milk elected. As I recall, that was the first year of district elections, finally wresting control of the city from downtown interests.

          While I adored Milk (I lived up tne street from his photo/camera shop on Castro Street and he had made very clear he thought I was “very cute” too”) Mayor Moscone was the true progessive hero, and it was he that Dan White wanted to kill (White was a County Supervisor elected from an old-school part of San Francisco who had resigned his position citing lack of money. Moscone appointed a replacement, and then White changed his mind, and asked Moscone for his job back. Moscone said no. White murdered him in a rage of that decision. My understanding is that Milk had tried to convince Moscone to relent, and was not the target, he was collateral damage, Supervisor Carol Ruth Silver was very opposed to White, and I spoke to her once about that day. She feels she would have been a target but she was out of the office.

          All of which is to say Feinsfein was a conservative nightmare as a mayor, as you can imagine. She set Mosone’s vision for the City back 10 years. It is safe to say many of us hated her. She had run for mayor before (as I recall) and lost. She would never have been mayor nor ascended to the Senate were it not for Moscone’s dead body.

          One year she ran for mayor and Jello Biafra, lead singer of the Dead Kennedys ran too to show Finstein for who she really was. It was a raucus campaign, delightful to to San Franciscans. He made a very strong showing as a Feinstein protest vote.

          Unfortunately Feinstein was mayor when AIDS crisis hit San Francisco like an atom bomb. Her response to the crisis was terrible, basically victimizing those suffering from the disease. Yes the times were very different, but she was/is a throwback.

          Richard Blum, her wealthy husband, has benefitted handsomely from Feinstein, since her County Supervisor days. The rest of us, sadly, not very much in my humble opinion.

          I still wish Moscone had had his chance to transform San Francisco.

          1. gepay

            its my belief that White was a programmed killer. After leaving the police department in 1972, White took an extended vacation since known as White’s ‘missing year’.
            “He broke all contact with friends and family. He kept no records of the trip, purchased no travel tickets, and did not use a credit card. He later accounted for his mystery year by explaining that he’d worked a stint as a security guard in Alaska.”
            The following dialogue is quoted from Double Play by Mike Weiss:
            Goldie (the first manager for Dan White’s campaign for supervisor who quits shortly after this exchange) – Dan, what are you all about? Who’s behind you?
            Dan – No one’s behind me. I’m my own man, just like you said I should be.
            Goldie – You are a liar. Who’s putting you up to this? Who’s programming you?
            Dan – Why are you so excited? …
            Goldie – You’ve got a wall around you, Dan. Take your campaign and shove it.

            I belief he got very little prison time for an offense such as his would normally get – his lawyers created the “twinkie defense” for irrational acts. . He served 5 years and 1 month in prison for killing 2 men, one of them, the Mayor of San Francisco. “DAN WHITE’S LAST CONFESSION” by Mike Weiss.
            September 18, 1998 San Jose Mercury News.
            “I really lost it that day,” White said. “You can say that again,” Falzon answered. “No. I really lost it. I was on a ‘MISSION’. I wanted four of them.” “Four?” Falzon said.
            “Carol Ruth Silver—she was the biggest snake of the bunch. And Willie Brown,” White continued. “He was masterminding the whole thing.”
            Funny how these things only seem to happen to progressive reformers who are reasonably effective.

    2. jrs

      Yes she’s horrible but at least at present she’s trying to take an innocent until proven guilty stance on Trump (who of course is also horrible, but not necessarily guilty of everything the Dem propagandists want to fling at him).

      Don’t be surprised if whatever passes for California liberalism (I don’t think it’s very far left economically, not at all equal to most northeast states) is after Fienstein for many of the wrong reasons (and remember in all the talk of the state swinging left in it’s referendums, it also reaffirmed and strengthened the death penalty among them).

    1. nothing but the truth

      too much money not enough opportunities.

      so now come the “story” spinners, who will sell you an opportunity for a steep price.

      whatever has been considered a hard problem, the valley will say it shall solve for you for a steep price, till the next fad takes over and all this is forgotten. Nuclear fusion, cellulose alcohol, AI (the biggest problem except Death itself), etc etc..

      It seems to me the real job of the sillyCON valley folks is to look into the desires of the masses and come up with an empty, expensive promise to solve those.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      I know a senior engineer at Ford and he commented that, I think it was Google, had hired most of his most promising young engineering talent out from under him. Whether we like it or not, the future is autonomous vehicles, the people saying it won’t happen are mostly just leaning on a litany of largely improbable and even ridiculous scenarios and asserting that autonomous software won’t be able to deal with them. The thing I think they are missing is that autonomous vehicles don’t need to be perfect, or infallible, or even anywhere near to that; they only need to be safer and more efficient than humans to be worthwhile. And I believe that’s a *lot* lower bar than most opponents of the technology realize. Humans by and large* really, really suck at driving in case you haven’t noticed.

      *with the proviso that anyone reading this will be assumed (at least by themselves) to be in the upper 95th percentile of drivers who are excellent and could never be replaced by algorithms and actuators.

      1. a different chris

        Yes the impediment isn’t technological, it’s in our minds (or at least what we are told is in our minds to save us the problem of thinking for ourselves).

        No, I don’t mean that cars will be able to see little kids chasing balls into the street &etc. I just mean that 80% of our mileage can be controlled well enough for autonomous vehicles (stage 4, maybe even stage 3) and that will be enough to adjust traffic to work with them. Heck trolleys did and would work again but we are too good for that. There will be a modern version of “tracks” and that will do it.

        And like Kurt implied, the problem with humans is staying focused on repetitive tasks. We can dodge that kid quite effectively if we are paying attention, but 2 years driving down the same street w/out said little kid darting into traffic, and, well oops.

        The whole thing about imitating human behaviors is just a sham to get publicity and thus money and most importantly at all, an acceptance even if it’s a world-weary “well it’s just inevitable” one. Then they can pull the bait and execute the switch.

        Also electric cars most certainly do not have to go 350 miles on a charge. You can “refill” them at home where cars in America dominate, the suburbs. Who has a 100 mile commute? Some people do, so they can stick with gasoline. For most people: why waste money (and some of that electricity) dragging around twice as many batteries as you actually need – that will become obvious soon enough.

      2. subgenius

        The future is public transport – if we are lucky. Autonomous cars and airborne drone delivery belong in the same category as Martian colonisation…a total waste of resources on a plan doomed by it’s inherent nature that is distracting attention and talent from the real needs of action to harmonise the ecosystems of the planet we evolved to inhabit.

        1. CD

          We will get autonomous cars whether we want them or not, because auto manufacturers will get to slap on an extra 10,000 price for each car.

          We can’t have inexpensive electric cars — what will Wall Street think?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Re autonomous inevitable realities: Some of this assumes that “we” will have those zombie cars — Not what I sense at all. This whole thing will first, cut out the mopes with the old iron, which like the execrable “cash for clunkers” was a giant ripoff fail. And these vehicles will be expensive, and the model of “ownership” (except for the Very Few) most likely will be some kind of rentier ripoff owned by GoogleVW, with additional, easily add-uppable fees and charges for every 1/5 of a mile traveled.

            So it won;t matter what the vehicles ‘cost’ (as usual, jettisoning huge externalities), ‘we” ain’t gonna own them. And of course you will have to have an implanted chip that allows for instant deductions from your wealth for all the fee-able elements of the scam. And of course as with all the rest of the neoliberal bullsh!t, ‘the law’ will be written to relieve the Owners of any liability for accidents or electromechanical failures.

            History rhymes? In 1968 I was given an “R&R” from Vietnam (officially “rest and recreation,” but known to us troops as “I&I,” for “intoxication and intercourse”) in Taiwan. Part of the little briefing we got (along with a supply of condoms) before we were turned loose on the economy was about the amazing fleet of little red taxis that swirled around Taipei. We were told, in no uncertain terms, that if the cab we were riding in was involved in an accident, we should jump out and run like hell. Because the “law” at the time said that since the cab would not have been at that location “but for” our hailing it, we would be liable (on a GI’s pay) for all damages and injuries. A nice model for the automotive liability law of the future…

            Another tidbit: I was told that there used to be lots of “cyclos” or pedicabs in Taipei, but the ruling party decided to get them off the roads, for a variety of reasons (“modernization” and “safety” stuff, maybe kickbacks from the Japanese car makers?). The cyclo operators apparently went up in arms about that draconian termination of their livelihoods, so the Rulers gave each cyclo driver a Tiny 3-Cylinder Toyota (maybe Datsun?) to replace the cyclos. These new drivers had little to no training, but since the accelerator and horn were the only important controls for most of them, no big deal. “Full speed ahead!”

            I’m not sure whether my life was in more jeopardy from riding in those cabs, or flying around in a UH-1, or sitting waiting for incoming mortar and rocket rounds in the “bases” and camps I was assigned to “in-country.”

            1. CD

              JTM at 5:45 pm —

              I like your ideas about doing an economic rent on autonomous cars. I hope Detroit lawyer-crats aren’t getting ideas here.

              One more thought — Since it looks like we’re going to lease software rather than own it, will that mean that we won’t own these cars, despite our loan on them? The IRS, bill collectors, and others will love this. Make them mad and they’ll brick your car.

              [I & I and condoms — The image of Slim Pickens in Dr Strangelove riding a buckin’ bomb out of the chute came to mind as I read your passage. Couldn’t help it, sorry.]

      3. visitor

        Autonomous vehicles will never be perfect. The problem is that the technical issues to make them work correctly in a “normal” environment are too daunting to make them work efficiently as well.

        I already presented my view of the matter in a previous NC post, so I paraphrase it here:

        The following will happen: something like a three-classes society for roads.

        1) Select roads and highways will be reserved for fully automatic vehicles — and nothing else. They will be endowed with all the required infrastructural elements (dense wireless communication network, perfect road markings, bright lighting), will be kept permanently ship-shape, will be gated so that only autonomous vehicles can enter them, and fully enclosed so that nothing (human being, animal or other machine) can trespass.

        The vast majority of public funding for roads will be allocated to build them or upgrade existing roads to that effect, and to maintain them.

        2) A large number of ways, mainly major ones, will be reserved for autonomous vehicles (that can possibly gracefully revert to manual control) and newer cars that are endowed with beacons and automatic collision avoidance features. They will be gated, so that other kinds of vehicles cannot enter that network.

        3) Every other road will allow any kind of vehicle — including bikes, horse carriages, and old cars devoid of any electronics. Of course, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades will be nearly inexistent for those roads. Whatever taxes and tolls (since once an infrastructure is gated, tolls can be levied through it) are paid by the public, they will go towards maintaining the expensive infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.

        In a sense, it will a kind of modern enclosure movement: the most essential roads and highways largely built thanks to the taxpayers will be withdrawn from public use, reserved to those new, AI-driven cars and trucks, and serve to facilitate their operation — since no matter how much IT they throw at it, the likes of Google, Tesla and Uber will not be able to make them work safely and economically in normal, often chaotic traffic conditions.

        Summary: if you cannot improve half-baked autonomous vehicles enough so that they work in the existing road network, then the road infrastructure will be tweaked till it can accommodate half-baked autonomous vehicles.

        1. subgenius

          Now explain how you intend to create all the infrastructure in an age of depletion and the slow motion crash of global economies as growth inverts…

          The hopium is ever more potent

          1. visitor

            There are plenty, plenty of resources to build huge phantom cities in China, a myriad US military bases across the globe, gargantuan olympic stadiums in Rio, Sochi, Tokyo or Beijing, megalomaniac artificial residential islands in Dubai or futuristic technocities in India.

            It will happen just as I stated: resources will be diverted from the common folk (say, the 90%) to ensure the 10% can enjoy the marvels of fully autonomous vehicles. The back-, side- and secondary roads serving the populace will be left to rot.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Back in feudal days, one of the duties owed to the upper class was the maintenance of roads. So as things devolve, with gates and toll stations and walled manors and such, maybe this is where we’re headed?, and from Wiki, Yep, road maintenance was part of the operation of the decentralized system of tenure.

              So mope traffic will move, slowly, over rubble roads that the serfs will have to donate their labor to maintain.

        2. CD

          Lot of good ideas for politi-crats and lawyer-crats to screw the 90% with an invention.

          You guys are good at finding new rents. I hope the 10% doesn’t read these pages.

      4. Fiery Hunt

        No, no, NO!
        What you, and every other “It’s coming whether you like it or not!” are missing is that neither safety nor efficiency is the issue.

        It really is about control and freedom of movement.

        If the corporations control the transportation, the corporations control the population.

    3. robnume

      And Mike Shedlock has today, I think 3 stories about his beloved self-driving cars and trucks. I still am not aware of his financial position in this matter, but he’s really “on board” and pushing this idea to the max.
      I like Mish and find his site credible and rational in the main, but my eyes are beginning to glaze over when I see yet another, “you’d best accept this; it’s coming whether you want to believe it or not.”
      That said, I may also just be an old bat who can’t or won’t believe it until I see it.

      1. ewmayer

        Mish had a similar bout of “religious proselytizing” a few years back “cryptocurrencies will revolutionize everything!”, touting similar inevitability and timeframes as he is currently pitching for autonomous vehicles. Often multiple posts per day indulging his then-current pet techno-fetish.

        I pretty much only read him these days for econ-stats involving actual data, and foreign policy.

  4. fresno dan

    Remeasuring Stephen Jay Gould Jacobin

    Or rather, it was — until Gould returned to the Times’s headlines in June 2011. “Study Debunks Stephen Jay Gould’s Claim of Racism on Morton’s Skulls,” the article proclaimed.
    Though the Times has yet to report it, more recent evidence suggests that the reanalysis of Morton’s skulls makes computational mistakes that favor Caucasians. And as several studies now show, the scientists did not ultimately challenge Gould’s main claim that the inconsistencies between Morton’s measurements in 1839 and 1849 indicate unconscious racial bias. Moreover, the differences between mean values for all races when corrected were, as Gould originally argued, so small as to be statistically insignificant.

    Why hasn’t the Times reported these more recent findings? The answer also helps explain why they and other outlets so enthusiastically reported the criticism against Gould in the first place. As he would have recognized, it’s politics.
    Gould: We will win now because ordinary humanity holds a triumphant edge in millions of good people over each evil psychopath. But we will only prevail if we can mobilize this latent goodness into permanent vigilance and action.
    Bunking, debunking, and so on. Why do we believe what we believe? – whether skull size or that most people are latently “good”
    I bring up the Gould quote simply to note wryly that no one is immune from belief based on emotion or desires. So how many psychopaths are there?
    A 2008 study using the PCL:SV found that 1.2% of a US sample scored 13 or more out of 24, indicating “potential psychopathy”.

    Suffice to say that definitions and reproducible studies are hard to come by. Perhaps another mental condition, schizophrenia, can give some insight,
    The Prevalance Rate for schizophrenia is approximately 1.1% of the population over the age of 18 (source: NIMH)

    So, even though I am unaware of any studies that show any relationship between types of mental disorders, it would incline me to doubt that “… ordinary humanity holds a triumphant edge in millions of good people over each evil psychopath.” I doubt the ratio is “millions to one.”

    And speaking of wry, psychopaths, and percentages:

  5. fresno dan takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives (Chuck L). Despicable.

    Funny how that’s not mentioned in the commercials….

    1. visitor

      I am not surprised. Twenty years ago, the first large-scale project to collect DNA was launched in Iceland. The accumulated genome was supposed to lead to advanced prophylactic measures, new kinds of targeted medicines, discovering genes responsible for specific illnesses, etc.

      The project underwent a series of turbulent phases, including an IPO during the dot-com boom.

      Significantly, the DNA provided by Icelanders ended up licensed with “presumed consent” to a firm registered in Delaware, for commercial purposes. That corporation, after many twists being acquired and divested, ended up being bought by a Chinese company

      Oh, the Estonians started a similar, more ambitious project at about the same time. Collected DNA was to be licensed for 25 years to an USA-based corporation for any kind of commercial usage. The terms and conditions included the following statement:

      a gene donor has the right to withdraw his or her consent until his or her tissue sample or the description of his or her state of health is coded.

      which is eerily similar to those used by almost twenty years later. Once the DNA is in the database, tough luck erasing the information.

      Ultimately, both Icelandic and Estonian projects were mired in controversy regarding “informed consent”, never managed the exhaustive collection of genomic information they were planning for, and disappointed with respect to practical results.

      Centuries ago, in many cultures, people were wary of letting hair, nail clippings, or pieces of clothing worn close to the body or soiled with blood fall into the hands of other people — as these body bits could be used for nefarious magical purposes, without recourse from the victim. Perhaps people should start considering subjecting biometric data (DNA, retinal scans, fingerprints, voice signatures, etc) to the same protective attention: do not give them away, do not let other people grab them.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The goal is to quantify everything for the corporate surveillance state. 23andMe’s agreement has you consent to the sale if your information, and Google was one of the initial investors (Sergey Brin’s ex wife is the CEO)

      Imagine if Google, with it’s advertising and it’s links to the surveillance state , had access to your DNA.

      1. nowhere

        They may take my genome, but they will never take my EPIGENETIC EXPRESSIONS! Alba gu bràth!

        1. Harold

          I think there may be less than meets the eye in what you can deduce from a DNA test.

      2. Harold

        Maybe I’m just naive, but isn’t it like having access to your blood type — just a bunch of numbers and letters. How can they “own” it? What are they going to with it?

  6. fresno dan

    Trump Comes To Riyadh Bearing Gifts – Weapons Approved By Obama Foreign Policy

    What happened to Trump doing the opposite of Obama? O yeah, it wasn’t enough….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if Trump had anything to do the $40 billion infrastructure investments in America Saudi Arabia announced a few weeks back.

      1. nowhere

        I wonder if those investments are really just the continuation of buying public assets? Coming soon, the King Abdulalziz Bridge, formerly known as the Golden Gate Bridge.

    2. nowhere

      From the article:

      The deal for the [16,000 guided munitions] kits was suspended by the Obama administration in December, citing concerns over the high civilian casualty toll in the Saudi air campaign in Yemen.

      The Trump administration has openly said that those kinds of humanitarian concerns will be less important going forward, and there is little indication the president will touch on human rights during his highly anticipated speech about counterterrorism in Riyadh over the weekend. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explicitly laid out the administration’s view that Washington won’t “condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values,” as doing so “creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”

      I can’t tell, is the swamp draining or filling?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s a question whether Saudi Arabia has the money for the deal.

        Perhaps it will exhaust the kingdom the way military spending did to the USSR (exhausted, not necessarily collapsed).

  7. fresno dan

    Melania Trump hails ’empowerment of women’ at Saudi company visit Reuters. You can’t make this stuff up: Who writes her material? Sign that writer up for a sitcom!

    As noted yesterday:
    May 21, 2017 at 8:07 pm
    Even more bizarre is that Trump was at the opening of The Global Centre for Combatting Extremism. In Saudi Arabia. Yes, this actually exists. The universe sure has a strange sense of humour.

    Reply ↓
    fresno dan
    May 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
    May 21, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    “…. The Global Centre for Combatting Extremism. In Saudi Arabia. Yes, this actually exists. The universe sure has a strange sense of humour.”

    That’s not “unwomen” – its UN women’s rights commission…
    Hmmm….if that isn’t called….in humor….a “double tap” it should be….

    1. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

      Re Fresno Dan – The Global Centre for Combating Extremism.

      When I worked in Saudi Arabia in the mid ‘seventies at Ras Al Mishab positioning US dredges, there was a Saudi (or maybe pan-Arab) blacklist* of necessary electronic survey equipment which was produced by manufacturers who supplied Israel. Needless to say the we had the required equipment to position the dredges. There was also strident Saudi anti-Israel propaganda, and I had to demonstrate that I was not jewish to go and work there. The project I worked on was under the aegis of the US corps of engineers.

      It was obvious that the US was playing off both sides of a low level conflict, the machinations of which I was oblivious. However, I reckoned there was a queer deal involving oil supplies at the dead heart of it.

      That said, it is perfectly logical for me that the Saudi government should have a centre as mentioned above. As with American exceptionalism, it can only be really appreciated by those with a taste for black comedy.

      Not being a religionist, I’m not really into the Bible, but I recall that it has some good stuff about sowing and reaping that has current resonance, since Afghanistan is still on the go for some reason.

      Pip pip (Stingers all round)

      * The Kuwait government operated the same blacklist as I recall.

      1. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

        Oh. I forgot:

        The former enemy of my former enemy,
        Is now my enemy,
        Mission creep
        Is my name,
        No withdrawal,
        Without honour,
        For ever and ever.

        Pip pip (keep those Stingers coming)

    2. Andrew

      There’s no need for satire anymore, what’s going on in the world these days is more amusing than anything the writers at The Onion can come up with.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      So basically, poor people die because there isn’t profit in treatment. I feel like I am in a Doctor Who episode.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No profit in treating the poor.

        But profitable in making the poor sick or allowing them to get sick – GM foods, food-like stuff, not safe to drink water, houses near high voltage power lines, etc

  8. Sputnik Sweetheart

    All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron:
    Bel Ami:

    I have just finished Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami and am starting to get an odd sense of deja vu with the main character, Georges Duroy, who has a series of affairs with rich and powerful women and engages in a series of morally dubious events. This includes taking the money that his wife inherited and then finally calling the police on her when she is caught in adultery with one of the government ministers. He also has an affair with the wife of his boss and then convinces their daughter to marry her after he divorces his previous wife. The book ends with their wedding, and it is heavily implied that he will continue cheating on his new wife. He comes from a poor family but becomes influential through social climbing and betraying the people who have helped him: rags to riches if you will.

    There’s something Macronistic about the whole story: perhaps it is Duroy’s absence of genuine love, with only lust for money and power in his heart. Macron’s refusal to appoint Bayrou as his prime minister and immediate rejection of Valls shows that he can form alliances and betray them at the drop of a hat, even if they are with politicians who have no interest in helping the middle class. His “renewal” of France is purely cosmetic: if he chooses candidates for the legislatives who have had no experience in politics, it is because they are financially successful and are likely to agree with him in voting to dismantle the labour code. Perhaps there will be laws against political corruption, but none to prevent employees being exploited by their bosses, as the ministers play the same old game of economic and ecological exploitation imperialism, war, Europe. Of course, we can’t help but credit the media, the rich, the powerful, the few…

    As Duroy continues on with his affairs, the old corrupt system continues, disguised as the new.

    1. DJG

      Next on your reading list: The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. How things have to change to remain the same. A beautifully told story (so is the film by Visconti with Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon in the Macron role of Tancredi) but memories of it will come back to you as you observe events and chill you.

      1. Nechaev

        how serendipitous: The Leopard – long overdue for a reread. Thanks for the suggestion.
        so many exquisite and unforgettable passages: f. ex: the hunted rabbit:
        The animal had died tortured by anxious hopes of salvation, imagining it could still escape when it was already caught, just like so many human beings.”

    2. Carolinian

      That’s a great Counterpunch article by the great Diana Johnstone. She says one contributor to Macron’s victory was France’s large elderly population who favored him heavily.

      Similarly here in the US the greatest defenders of neoliberalism seem to be long-in-the-tooth pundits and geriatric billionaires. It may, in the end, be that the neoliberal curse will only make an exit feet first.

      1. jrs

        only then the young people get married, have kids, and get more status quo as well. You would think student debt or something would radicalize them for life (but even of the young the majority never went to college probably) but most of the time it doesn’t really seem to work that way. The generational theory of change seems mostly not to work, is there much evidence otherwise?

        1. Sputnik Sweetheart

          I can think of one person who doesn’t fit the theory: Bertrand Russell, who campaigned for peace and nuclear disarmament all his life and was imprisoned for seven days for “breach of peace” at the age of 89. May we all grow to be like him.

          I do agree with you and believe that it is a combination of different factors, including cynicism and learned helplessness. People get used to the status quo and things getting worse, as well as internalise the idea that success and happiness are individual rather than collective. If you were an idealist at a young age and had your dreams of a better world crushed in each election you voted for, you would eventually give up on civic action and believe that things “are as good as they get.” It’s also very difficult to look past the family unit in everyday life, especially if you don’t belong to a religious community, and the neoliberal brainwashing that we’re exposed to doesn’t make selflessness and courage easier. Rather, we’re pressured into acting happy and feeling good all the time. I don’t think that therapists would normally recommend political activism/volunteering to someone who was depressed, even though it may be the healing cure, and it doesn’t seem to be a popular subject of self-help either…

          1. JTMcPhee

            The frogs are slowly swimming, with their fixed smiles, in the water in the chafing dish, as les chefs du Maison d’Armageddon gently turn up the wick…

    1. Anonymous2

      Sorry to tell you this but it is very standard for larger states to push smaller ones around. It has been going on since Thucydides. Study the activities of the UK government in recent months and see the extent to which you can detect the hand of the US in its behaviour. Macron knew what he was talking about when he described it as now being a US vassal.

  9. Ranger Rick

    My jaw dropped reading that article on China executing CIA spies. Would not have been out of place in the 70s and 80s in the Soviet Union. Sounds like something (much more likely: someone) was compromised. They’d better hope it turns out to be a technological deficiency — those you can fix.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      China might have McDonald’s, but their government hasn’t changed. Here in the good ole USA, we execute all kinds of people: spies, the mentally ill, American citizens when the President feels like it.

      Besides, this is the risk of treason or genuine resistance depending on one’s perspective.

      In case you are wondering why China isn’t our current super villain. The potential Chinese market is too large.

      1. Abate Magic Thinking but NOT Money

        re: NotTimothyGeithner – Chinese market is too large.

        Yes, but what do the Chinese want from US manufacturers that US corporations haven’t already handed over one way or another? And what about the other high-tech suppliers of the world – are they resting on their laurels?

        It would be just peachy if the US bans Chinese produced personal computers because of security concerns. I remember when they were “IBM-compatible”.

        Pip pip

    2. RUKidding

      I skimmed that article yesterday in my nooz paper. My brief simming seemed to suggest to me that I should be outraged or something that China had executed CIA spies.

      My thought: Why?

      Isn’t that what happens to spies when they’re caught? Especially in a place like China?

      I don’t take pleasure in learning that someone was killed, but OTOH… that’s what spycraft is all about, isn’t it?

      Doesn’t the USA play fast and loose with our spies anyway? Does anyone at the top really care beyond the loss of access to Intel?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why did China not turn them into double agents? Wouldn’t that be more useful to them?

        Execute some and keep some. But that would make you suspect the ones who are still alive.

        Better to keep them all – that should be obvious from the Art of War.

        1. ambrit

          Ah but, the cunning of it is that now the CIA will suspect all of the remaining China “assets,” compromised or not. This is a big spanner in the Alphabet Works.

      2. subgenius

        Live by the sword, die by the sword….

        Far less offensive than extrajudicial murder and collateral damage (murder) by assholes.with drones operating thousands of miles from.what can be considered home turf.

    3. Alex Morfesis

      China & the genius of loudmouth michael morell…nyt original article is rather limp in respects to details…no booz allen revolving door questions…no asking how with all the bloated funding a grand total of 20 agents are “the keys” to china…

      20 agents…that’s it…???

      sounds like funding theatre…american kabuki…

      hopefully this is just smoke and mirrors to throw off the chinese…

      If we only have (or had) 20 warm bodies in the middle kingdom…a large number of people need to be retired yesterday…and more than one person had access to 20 names…and now all things are in the bezos cloud…

      probably very secure that cloud thingee…secrets for all to see…next he will convince the chinese and russians to also trust his genius and algoze…

      Sadly nyt does not name names of who was responsible for what during that time…forcing one to bounce around looking for clues such as deputy division chief of east asia division and wasting energy tripping over easily available dot connections…hardly anyone hides their cv on lin(k)yd inn anymore…

  10. allan

    Turkey slams US over ‘aggressive’ acts against bodyguards [AP]

    Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to protest what it called “aggressive and unprofessional actions” by American security personnel against Turkish bodyguards in Washington during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit last week.

    The action appeared to be in retaliation to calls in the U.S. for strong action against the Turkish security officers who were seen hitting and kicking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington during Erdogan’s visit. A video shared on social media showed Erdogan watching the melee. …

    Words fail.

    1. Vatch

      From the second article:

      Oliver is president and director of Oliver Funeral Home of Winona.

      Well gosh, if they’re lynched, they’ll die, and that would provide customers for funeral homes!

    2. ambrit

      Yes, well, this nation goes through periodic spates of “rewriting history” to suit the latest version of political correctness. “We have always been at war against East Alabama.”

  11. marym

    Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina maps for Congress

    The Supreme Court ruled Monday that racial considerations pervaded the way North Carolina lawmakers drew congressional maps after the 2010 Census in order to maximize Republicans’ advantage.

    The 5-3 ruling, written by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in a series of decisions by the justices against the excessive use of race in redistricting, the decennial process of drawing new district lines for Congress and state legislatures.

    Thomas was the 5th vote.

  12. allan

    Arrest rate triples for ‘noncriminal’ undocumented immigrants in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Montana [SLC Trib]

    … Arrest rates for people suspected of “noncriminal” offenses, or immigration violations, more than tripled in the region — which includes Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Montana — in the 100 days following Trump’s executive order changing immigration priorities this year …

    Nationally, the arrest rate for immigrants without any previous criminal convictions grew by 150 percent during the time period. …

    Though the agency’s main focus is to target convicted criminal offenders, the detention rate of that group has essentially remained stagnant in the region, decreasing by three people (1,317) when compared to numbers from a similar time period last year (1,320). …

    All immigrants included in the “criminal” category have been convicted of some type of crime, …
    whether it be misdemeanors or felonies. In Utah, some minor traffic violations are categorized
    as class C misdemeanors.

    The shortage of really bad hombres was never going to be an obstacle.

    1. Andrew

      Tell that to Bill Maher (see the video in today’s links) and all the other ‘liberals’ who are hoping for salvation from Trump. They’ll get a rude awakening, I hope.

  13. barrisj

    Perfect symmetry: Shi’a v. Sunni – at least a millenium’s worth of warfare…and US on permanent war footing forever. Add in gazillions in arms deals, what could go wrong? Everybody wins, except for millions of brown-skinned people killed or displaced, plus increase in US vet suicide rate. Small price to pay for FREEDUM. and merchants of death bottom-line enhancement.

    1. Ancient 1

      I haven’t seen much commentary from the U.S. media about the Saudis’ Sunnis “NATO organization” being formed or Mr. Trump’s participation. An organization that has one purpose and that is to make Iran another Syria. What is pitiful is that Mr. Trump has now taken sides in this centuries old battle between the factions of the Shi’a vs. the Sunni and that is dangerous. Perhaps an effort should have been made to bring about a better and peaceful understanding between the splinter groups instead. That is to much to wish for though?

      The other thing that concerns me is the distractions presented in Washington with Trump/Russia, while the real government changes are taking place out of our sight. And we are not really watching the Store. Blame the Media and it’s owners.

      How much longer can all this go on before we, the U.S. ordinary citizens, no longer recognize our republic? Sorry to be so negative.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Even if you don’t have student loans, you should want them to be forgiven Business Insider. Yes, I agree, but the objective should be much, much broader. Free college!

    Forgiving medical debt should be the top priority.

    No premium (free) Medicare-for-all as well.

    1. Louis

      I’m fine with forgiving student loans for public-service, like the article talks about.

      There is no way in hell I am ever going to support a “get of jail free card” for everyone with student loans, unless you’re prepared to refund me the thousands of dollars I’ve diligently paid on time.

      I guess I’m a chump for working hard and making sacrifices to stay current on my student loans.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Library late fees, for sure.

        I went to school to get into a money making career.

        I check out books these days because I truly am curious.

        It seems to me all late fees should be waived.

      2. HBE

        Just wow. I’ve also paid $1000’s into my student loans. But I still recognize the complete injustice (college should be free), and find it absolutely ridiculous you would suggest holding those who were unable to pay due to economic hardship hostage until you get yours back.

        The ability of both of us to pay back our loans on time comes down to 90% luck and 10% hard work (unless your working for family then it’s almost all luck). So really you want to punish people for being unlucky.

      3. pricklyone

        So, we should never change a policy for a better one, unless we compensate all who were harmed by the previous policy?
        Do you also argue for reparations for slavery?

      4. marym

        The purpose of a debt jubilee is to achieve something that’s good for all of us in common, not just the individual beneficiaries. I believe it would be better for all of us if some of the burdens of debt, or health insurance premiums, or tuition were lifted. Due to luck and work I don’t need those benefits for myself, but it would be a privilege to live in a society that had made a decision to lift some of those burdens.

    2. jrs

      I’m not sure it actually is the class interest of those without college degrees to want student loans forgiven. People without degrees who are often shit on by society, are supposed to want better for “their betters” for the social good (never mind this social good may not be doing them much good), without hearing almost anyone address THEIR economic problems except perhaps to rub meritocracy in their faces and tell them they “shoulda gone to college”.

      If you want broad support talk about labor issues (wages, working conditions etc.) and unemployment, not just issues that effect at most the top 50%.

      1. pricklyone

        How about we return student loan ‘debtees’ the same bankruptcy rights as their ‘debtors’?
        My impression is you could sell this to Trumpers and HRC devotees alike. No, this does not address all of the issues, but the bankruptcy reforms were an obvious overreach, in service to banks over common people, no?

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Ding, ding, ding!
          We have a winner!

          If student loans could still be discharged in bankruptcy, A) borrowers who made mistakes could get out from under them (but not without “punishment” and 10 years…better than current “debt for life”) and B) schools and lenders would come to recognize their overblown costs are out of alignment with the degrees they “give”.

          Speaking as a 40something who still owes, after 20 years, nearly $30,000…

        2. JTMcPhee

          And how about credit card debtors as well? Corp raiders can loot, including pension funds and operating plants and businesses “sent overseas,” then disappear into Chapter 7.

          Ah who cares, all this is pipe dreams by a very few people taking part in a blogging exercise that is still allowed, for the moment, and serves not only as a convenient safety valve for folks who might otherwise build up a real head of steam and get something going, but as a convenient self-identifying listserv of targets for our Stasi types when they reach that countdown moment when enough ligatures are stitched in place to completely strangle any thought of the change we though so stupidly would be part of the Second Coming of Barack FDR…

    3. JTMcPhee

      And MMT says that the wherewithal to do all that stuff, forgive those zombie debts that were incurred via so much fraud and corruption, Medicare for All, maybe something other than “private/public partnerships” for fixing bridges and other critical infrastructure like a more robust grid and the turn to renewable energy sources, and (God forgive me for mentioning it) a national functional regulated-as-a-utililty internet, etc., as long as the mass of political clout and energy leans heavily enough in that direction. But no, more $1.5 billion “Littoral Comeback Ships” and Flying Turkey F-35s and “charter schools” and shi!t sandwiches and Flint water at every 99%er meal.

      What ever even happened to the silly notion of “lifting the cap” on wages, WAGES now, subject to FICA withholding, that enforced savings program that so many of us have come to believe is “bankrupt” and/or just old farts stealing from young punks?

      Maybe “we,” or a moiety of us, have reached that point of Bernays-induced dumbness and blindness and deafness that “we” can’t even remember that at the national level, taxation does not fund operations but is purely a mechanism of social policy and control, to favor potent interests as a general rule and provide the faux arguments for the neolibs and neocons about how “we have to balance the budget somehow (since we’ve given all those trillion dollar welfare payments to the MIC and banksters and ag and pharma and UNsurance interests, “the money has to come from SOMEwhere, amiright?”).

      What outcomes are “we” willing to demand from “our” political economy, the one that of course never has really belonged to “us,” not since the first mud walls and granaries went up in old Mesopotamia, or wherever “civilization” will be found to have started…

      Dear Jaysus, as I age I wish more and more often that I had been born into a different species, or at least a different country… maybe next time around…

      1. jrs

        Republicans are no longer saying we have to balance the budget (I know this is no surprise, they never do when they are in power). In fact as a Politico article today about Republicans changing the rules (you know all the one’s Dems don’t change because they are too bought out) any constraints on budget deficits are one of the rules they want to get around. Why? Tax cuts for the rich of course.

        But let’s pretend it’s about ideology and how Republicans actually believe in balanced budgets (they do when it’s convenient for them, just like Dems) rather than all about the bezzle …

        1. marym

          Please take care. I’m glad you were born because the more things fall apart, the more smart, good people will be needed to care for the wounded and build whatever’s next.

  15. Altandmain

    Bank of America Foreclosure gone wrong – another perhaps for class warfare:

    One of the comments in that Reddit about Bank of America not closing your account is telling.

    Article about the Divine right of the DNC:

    Apparently LIz Warren is now supporting universal healthcare:

  16. Oregoncharles

    This is a bit esoteric, but there seems to be an important editing error in the Jacobin article on Stephen Jay Gould, in the discussion of the Burgess Shale fossils:

    ” Contrary to earlier studies, many of the shale’s fossils do not have known ancestors. This means that life was, in crucial ways, more diverse at the outset of the multicellular period than since. ”

    That doesn’t make sense unless “ancestors” should have been “descendants.” The conclusion flows from the nature of evolution: it’s essentially a process of elimination (also important in economics). Hence, although mutations constantly introduce new material at the species level, at higher levels like families diversity mostly decreases. The chief exception would be from the intense evolutionary events after mass extinctions.

    I majored in biology in college and have followed it ever since, so I’m an educated layman on the subject – Gould’s target audience. I’ll attest that reading his books was like a strong dose of coffee: the mind starts racing. I didn’t always agree with him, but he sure made you think hard.

  17. Kim Kaufman

    “Peace Activists Confront Amy Goodman on Biased Syria Coverage Black Agenda Report (bob k)”

    Good. Glad to see this getting out more.

    However, Ann mischaracterized the relationship between DN and Pacifica as “Amy Goodman, host of the Pacifica Network’s flagship news hour “Democracy Now.””

    In 1999-2002, Amy (and others) successfully ginned up a war within Pacifica against the then board. The results allowed her to steal, er, take control of what was then “Pacifica Network’s flagship news hour…” and which is now Amy’s news hour.

    1. Plenue

      Democracy Now is of highly variable worth. It’s gotten especially bad since Trump won; these days it regularly does things like uncritically treat fake ‘protest’ parades like the Women’s March as some genuine display of resistance. The hosts themselves seldom do much to critical challenge their guests, so the worth of any segment usually boils down to whether the guest in question is full of shit or not. So amid all the DNC apparatchiks and brain dead “Trump is a fascist!!1oneone”, you’ll have guests who really are worth listening to.

      I have no idea if DN has always been like this or not, but today it’s a kind of gatekeeper. Venture out further left and you’ll find places like The Real News Network, which far more often has guests with something of real value to say.

    2. hunkerdown

      While I agree that Democrats Now has tanked of late… say what? Mary Frances Berry, Clinton appointee and one-time Pacifica chair, tried to turn the network into a Democrat idpol network from its radical leftist orientation. Perhaps you’ll unpack your statement.

      1. Kim Kaufman

        Nope. I stand by what I said.

        If you read the Pacifica Mission statement you’ll see that it was never intended to be “radical leftist orientation” although there were those who pushed it to be so. At any rate, I don’t believe that’s what the fight was about, that was a pretext or McGuffin.

  18. Dead Dog

    The MMT paper is a serious moment, particularly given the list of authors.

    Hard for most to push through, even me, but I scanned through. Salient points:

    1. Banks do create money (who’d have thought?);
    2. Payments like taxes to the government destroys money; and
    3. The government must spend first in order to tax.

    Excerpt: (DSGEs are Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models that economists use to predict economic variables like GDP…)

    Important consequences derive from this economic fact. First, since financing allows investment projects to be carried out, the national account identity between investment and savings implies that lending is a pre-condition for savings, rather than a consequence. Second, as long as banks are free to create claims which are universally accepted as means of payment, their credit creation potential does not find any upper bound in the amount of savings available in the economy. In financial frictions
    DSGEs, the monetary side of the economy is fully determined in the real sphere and savings need time to be accumulated through the production of additional goods. In reality, banks can create money instantaneously by expanding their balance sheet, the only limit being represented by their own assessment of the implications of new lending for their profitability and solvency. In practice, neglecting this aspect prevents to understand the causes of financial instability and induces to dramatically underestimate its consequences.

    Besides neglecting the endogenous nature of inside money, modern DSGE models are also deficient in understanding the nature and functioning of outside money. This aspect has drawn less attention also among critics of standard macroeconomics. Standard DSGE models assume that the stock of legal money circulating in the economy is either fixed and pre-existent, or postulate that the monetary authority exogenously sets the growth rate of real money balances. No explanation is given of the actual channels by which this additional money is injected into the system, and distributed across agents. In most cases it is simply assumed that seigniorage from this activity is redistributed in a lump sum fashion to the consumers through real money transfers.

    In reality, legal money is injected into the economy through two fundamental channels. The first one is represented by cash advances granted on demand by the Central Bank to banks, at the Central Bank policy rate. Since banks’ demand for cash advances is determined in relation to the stock of deposits they hold, this channel fundamentally reflects the endogenous dynamics of loans and (matching) deposits.

    The second channel is related to fiscal policy and arises from government’s payments and transfers to the private sector. These do not only increase the deposit of the receiving agent, but also (and in equal measure) the reserves of the bank holding the deposit. Conversely, legal money is destroyed whenever a private sector agent makes a payment to the government forcing their deposit bank to transfer a portion of her legal reserves to the government. Reserves (or legal money) must be already available when making these payments suggesting that government spending must logically come before government financing, and not the other way round as postulated by standard macroeconomics, for a similar reason to why bank lending is a pre-condition to allow private agents to hold their savings in the form of liquid assets.

    1. craazyboy

      Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models that economists use to predict economic variables like GDP

      Snort. When MMTers cease and desist from their myopic and awed focus on minutia dribble, I may consider being a little impressed. Because of the miraculous recovery of all those hopelessly broken brains, I think.

      But first, learn some dictionary words, like Dynamic, especially before trying to us them in a scientific description of a math model. Truth is, beginning in 1913, The Fed had to create money, which acted as the “grease” lubing the wheels of commerce, and then from positive cash flow, there could be taxes. Anything else serves the Pete Peterson outlook of the world. We don’t need to be feeding the enemy fodder to fuel their gigantic BS machine.

      Then, the Fed is the only one that can “destroy” money. They do it by asset sales. Treasury bonds being the preferred asset.

      Until MMTers understand the process, they will continue to gibber endlessly about it.

    2. UserFriendly

      Yeah, I wish more of the paper had pushed into the MMT aspects, but it seams to have largely been a response to this paper which unequivically disproved fractional reserve banking in favor of credit creation. That’s how I found it anyways.

      Of course I have zero faith any of it will ever do any good for anyone besides the billionaire class. I just came home for a week to help my parents move to a new home after they have been living in a rental since Irene damaged and Sandy destroyed their home. My dad had COPS on TV and I couldn’t even stand to watch it, this sad excuse for a society is content to make a spectacle of the poor being abused for being poor. I can’t handle the fact that fixing it is so eminently doable, yet will never happen. I have so much rage when I think about people with the power to affect change yet do nothing….. There is just no point to any of it, no matter what I do the entire world will bumble along under oligarchy. I can’t even make my own life worth living because there is no future where I will ever pay off my student loans, so why the f should I even keep running this rat race? I certainly am not getting anything out of it.

  19. Expat

    Why is it that the ones who protest free education are either rich or uneducated?
    pssst. that was a rhetorical question.

  20. robnume

    On the article: Regarding the TSA of Ancestry, how is it that your “relative” can sign away your rights to your DNA if your are not a party to this agreement in any way shape or form?
    I ask because an uncle of mine, who really ought to know better, may have used this method of finding out genealogical information about his mothers side of the family – my grandmother – for an annual family reunion. I do not know that this is the case for a fact, but I remember a comment made by my dad about being the avenue for info which my uncle took to get familial historical information.
    I would never, ever willingly participate in a scheme to allow any stranger or group of strangers to access any personal info and most especially not my own DNA.
    Any attorneys here who might have an inkling of whether or not a third party can sign away your rights for you?

    1. pricklyone provides genealogical info apart from DNA testing. The DNA stuff is a more recent offering.
      I know many people who use the service to look up family tree info. Nothing really sinister about that, except for the privatization of previously public data (another story). Can you check with your uncle?
      Just using the ‘family tree’ lookups shoudn’t pose any risk.
      If he did the DNA test, then you may have cause to worry, but I imagine most people use in the way my friends do, as a document database, rather than a DNA database.

  21. Harold

    I’m sorry, I maybe I am being dense, but how is genealogical information in any way a secret? Most of the information is public records, census data, ships’ passenger logs, draft cards, parish record books, cemeteries and so on. A lot of it is already on the web for anyone to see. Families publish books about it that are available in public libraries, book stores, and by mail. The only difference is that Ancestry and other firms take this public info. and monetize it — or rather monetize the convenience of their way of organizing it.

  22. robnume

    Thanks, Pricklyone. Your comment pretty much answered my question. Also, I cannot imagine that my uncle, whose wife is a highly placed attorney in a large state A.G.’s office, would do anything as stupid as sending any corporation his DNA.
    Since this happened several years ago, it was more than likely before had such a business as collecting people’s DNA.

  23. Harold

    As far as I can tell, what these ancestry companies test for is how similar people’s DNA is to the profiles of large groups peoples who live or used to live in certain geographical areas. From that they can deduce that your ancestors probably came from a certain part of the world, but due to the huge role that chance plays in heredity, even among siblings, even that is a statistical probability not a certainty. They do not test for medical conditions, which would likely be prohibitively expensive.

    The fact is there is not too much that can be deduced from the DNA of people who are not already very close relatives, which is why old fashioned paper trails are still the best way to determine who is related to whom.

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