2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

UPDATE We have now made the goal of 250 contributors, and so this mini-fundraiser has come to a successful close (although naturally I will continue to accept donations :-). I’m grateful for this very tangible appreciation of Water Cooler, and look forward to more posting in these interesting times. Thank you all so much! –lambert

Our mini-fundraiser for Water Cooler is on! And we are a-a-l-l-l-l-most there! As of this writing, 221 donors – our goal is 250 – have already invested to support Water Cooler, which provides both economic and political coverage, to help us all keep our footing in today’s torrent of propaganda and sheer bullsh*t. Independent funding is key to having an independent editorial point of view. Please join us and participate via Lambert’s Water Cooler Tip Jar, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, PayPal, or even the US mail. Thanks to all!


“The broad coalition that derailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) delivered more than 100,000 petitions demanding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be replaced with a deal that benefits working people. Activists with “Replace NAFTA” signs and T-shirts made the delivery today as witnesses arrived for hearings on NAFTA renegotiation at the U.S. International Trade Commission. This followed the unprecedented submission of more than 50,000 comments to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) docket on NAFTA talks. The dozen groups that alerted members to the opportunity to submit comments were surprised by the overwhelming response, which crashed the USTR’s submission platform” (PDF) [Eyes on Trade].

Before his meeting with Trump, “[South Korean President Moon Jae-in] did seem to want to cast [the U.S.-Korea free-trade agreement (KORUS)] in a more favorable light, calling the United States and South Korea ‘inseparable economic companions’ and noting that trade between the two countries has grown by 12 percent over the past five years, even though overall global trade has fallen by 12 percent over the same period. He also expressed hope his visit would ‘elevate our bilateral economic partnership to the next level'” [Politico].

“Add Norway to the list of countries jockeying to make its voice heard in the ongoing discussion over how best to address the fisheries subsidies issue at the World Trade Organization. In addition to four other countries, Oslo is now circulating its own proposal laying out a preferred way to word a commitment against subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, Geneva sources told Morning Trade” [Politico].


Ossoff Debacle

“The not-so-secret sauce for Demo­crats is that polls show their party mem­bers are agit­ated and angry about Trump’s elec­tion, and are mo­tiv­ated to do something about it…. A tight race was ex­pec­ted, but the GOP nom­in­ee, former Geor­gia Sec­ret­ary of State Kar­en Han­del, beat Demo­crat Jon Os­soff, a 30-year-old former con­gres­sion­al staffer, by nearly 4 per­cent­age points, 51.9 per­cent to 48.1 per­cent. It turned out that Clin­ton per­formed bet­ter than Os­soff. So what happened? The blame game is well un­der­way” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “[Dav­id Wasser­man, House ed­it­or of The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port,] goes on to ob­serve that “the di­ver­gent res­ults in Geor­gia-06 and South Car­o­lina-05 prove sat­ur­a­tion-level cam­paigns can back­fire on the party with a baseline en­thu­si­asm ad­vant­age—in this case, Demo­crats. The Geor­gia-06 elec­tion drew over 259,000 voters, an all-time turnout re­cord for a stand-alone spe­cial elec­tion and an amaz­ing 49,000 more than par­ti­cip­ated in the 2014 midterm there. The crush of at­ten­tion mo­tiv­ated GOP voters who might have oth­er­wise stayed home, help­ing Han­del to vic­tory.” So maybe the DCCC should stop flushing money down the consultant toilet and put some money into infrastructure? Seeking to win the war (Grant) not the battle (McClellan, on a good day)? Just a thought. Of course, that would smash a lot of consultant rice bowls…. More: “Tues­day’s res­ults show that the bot­tom has not fallen out for Re­pub­lic­ans, as some had sug­ges­ted. At the same time, Demo­crat­ic spe­cial-elec­tion can­did­ates are out­per­form­ing nor­mal Demo­crat­ic vot­ing pat­terns by 7 to 12 per­cent­age points, something that should alarm Re­pub­lic­ans run­ning for reelec­tion in com­pet­it­ive dis­tricts and states.”

UPDATE “Amidst the wreckage of Ossoff’s campaign there emerges only one winner: Mothership Strategies, which reportedly earned $3.9 million for its work. Everyone else—voters, the party, the candidate Mothership promoted—lost” [The New Republic].

Health Care

“Best encapsulation of the White Hat (optimist) thinking, from an administration source: “I think we’re going to pass this. I really think they’ll bribe off the moderates with opioid money and then actually move policy to shore up Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. … If it was going to fail, McConnell would’ve put it on the floor. He wants people on the record — put up or shut up. He would’ve said: ‘F— it, let’s fail now and move onto tax reform.’ … Now he’s going to eat up another two weeks of floor time. He’s not going to waste those weeks unless he thinks he can do this” [Axios].

“Once-unified Democrats are splintering into competing factions over how to best move forward, with progressive lawmakers and activists aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., telling NBC News Wednesday they see the problems in the GOP as an opportunity to double down on their preferred health care reforms, like single-payer health insurance. They have shown little to no interest in negotiating with Republicans” [NBC News]. “On the other hand, several Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., have said they have in mind a variety of modest changes to Obamacare that they’d love to sit down and discuss with Republicans. Schumer even invited President Donald Trump to a bipartisan meeting with all senators.”

“Several members, including [Sen. Joe] Manchin, have co-sponsored a bill that would add a cheaper catastrophic plan to the insurance exchanges, among other tweaks. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., recently introduced legislation that would allow people in counties with no insurers to buy from the same exchanges members of Congress use. Other Democrats have talked about restoring Obamacare provisions that cushion insurers against unexpected high costs that were removed in a prior bipartisan spending deal. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., for his part, has suggested allowing insurers to sell across state lines, a proposal that has also gotten support from Trump. Warner acknowledged that ‘folks on both ends of the extreme’ could torpedo efforts to work across the aisle, but said he would still try” [NBC News]. I love McCaskill’s idea: “people in counties with no insurers to buy from the same exchanges members of Congress use.” So how come everybody doesn’t get to ride the train to HappyVille?

“Despite those collegial words, Schumer has kept his caucus united in opposing the Republican legislation — even Democrats from states that Trump won remain against it — and established barriers for starting bipartisan talks: Democrats have insisted they would work with Republicans only if the GOP abandons its efforts to repeal the Affordable Care act and drops proposed cuts to Medicaid and tax breaks for wealthy Americans” [RealClearPolitics]. “‘It’ll be dealt with in one of two ways: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or the markets will continue to collapse, and we’ll have to sit down with Senator Schumer,’ McConnell told reporters outside the White House. ‘And my suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none of the reforms that we would like to make.'” Query: Would the Democrats make a Grand Bargain and cap Medicaid? Everybody’s silent, so I assume that’s an option.

“A recently published analysis of the impact of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House of Representatives, from researchers at the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University, predicts more than 900,000 jobs will lost nationwide by 2026 if the House bill becomes law, the vast majority of which (725,000) would be lost from the health-care sector. This magnitude of job loss would mean a roll-back of nearly half of all health-care jobs gained just since January 2014″ [MarketWatch]. I’d like to be sure these jobs are in direct care, like nursing, and not in rental extraction.

UPDATE “Hundreds of activists marched around the Capitol on Wednesday to protest the Republican health care bill in a demonstration organizers called a “human chain” protest” [HuffPo]. Hundreds. I’m not seeing any images of an actual chain, either. Readers?

2016 Post Mortem

UDPATE Wrong about everything, though perhaps of interest only to Twitterati:

New Cold War

“Is War Between a Rising China and a Dominant America Inevitable?” [David Ignatius, RealClearPolitics]. “An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine a Chinese version of Allison, who decides to examine the ledger from their side. What would such applied history teach the Chinese about their looming intersection with the dominant power of the United States? I’m no expert on Chinese history or foreign policy, so I’ll simply sketch some areas of possible focus for a hypothetical Sino-Thucydides analysis.” Even if, or because, Ignatius is one of the intelligence community’s water carriers, this isn’t so bad.

UPDATE “CNN Journalists Resign: Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat” [The Intercept]. “THREE PROMINENT CNN journalists resigned Monday night after the network was forced to retract and apologize for a story linking Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund under congressional investigation. That article — like so much Russia reporting from the U.S. media — was based on a single anonymous source, and now, the network cannot vouch for the accuracy of its central claims.” Oopsie. Then again, CNN dealt with the matter a heck of a lot faster than the Times dealt with its Judy Miller WMD fiasco, which helped get us into Iraq, so if anything this story raises CNN in my estimation (though granted, the baseline is low).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Deconstructing the Administrative State” [RealClearPolitics]. Interesting:

According to [Adam J. White of the Hoover Institution], the term “administrative state” is used in different ways. In a straightforward sense, it simply refers to the group of federal agencies tasked with carrying out the executive branch’s constitutional duty to execute the laws passed by Congress. Such agencies have existed for as long as our Republic, of course, but they have multiplied and grown over the centuries. During the last century, in particular, administrative agencies — think of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Environmental Protection Agency — were empowered by Congress to formulate federal rules and regulations that carry the force of law.

While overseen by Congress along with the president and presidential appointees, today’s administrative agencies effectively possess the power to create and enforce (and sometimes even adjudicate) law­ — despite being part of the executive (rather than the legislature or judiciary). For this reason, the administrative state is sometimes called the “fourth branch of government,” a governmental body not envisioned by the Constitution. In this latter sense, White argues, the administrative state refers to “a general approach to governance in the United States — an approach in which, by and large, the federal laws that govern us on a day-to-day basis come not from Congress with the president’s signature, but from this massive set of agencies.” The administrative state in this sense is not merely a collection of federal agencies so much as an “alternative to the Constitution’s framers’ vision of republican self-governance, governance through the elected branches of government under the rule of law.”

Interestingly, this dovetails neatly with — and does not mention — Glennon’s article, “Security Breach: Trump’s tussle with the bureaucratic state,” in Harpers.

UPDATE Hoo boy (1), this NRA ad [Facebook].

UPDATE Hoo boy (2): “Oath Keepers is assuming the role of a paramilitary security force within the ultranationalist movement backing President Trump” [Scalawag]. “The rationale of Oath Keepers’ armed presence in flashpoints of social conflict switches from libertarian—where the rights of White ranchers are at stake—to law-and-order, where it opposes Black people seeking liberation and freedom from police violence.” Hmm.

UPDATE “Republicans don’t hold town halls anymore” [Vox]. With handy chart.

UPDATE “Inspired not merely by their opposition to Trump but in many cases by the experience of the Sanders campaign, these next-generation progressive candidates—often running with the backing of Our Revolution, the national group developed by Sanders backers—share a belief that effective opposition begins with saying “no” but never ends there. They recognize that an alternative vision can be proposed and put into practice in communities where taxes are levied, services are delivered, commitments to fight climate change are made, resolutions to establish sanctuary cities are adopted, and questions about poverty, privatization, and policing are addressed” [The Nation]. “For progressives, figuring out where to win and how to win—not merely to resist, but to set the agenda—is about more than positioning. This is the essential first step in breaking the grip of a politics that imagines large parts of the country will always be red, and that says the only real fights are over an elusive middle ground where campaigns are fought with lots of money but little substance.”

UPDATE Good news (?). I like Nina Turner a lot, so and but we’ll see how she functions in an executive role:

Of course, since Turner is a Sanders supporters, she’s no true woman, and no true Black, so be prepared for that nonsense…

Stats Watch

GDP, Q1 2017 (Final): “The first-quarter was still weak but does get an upgrade with today’s third estimate, now at a 1.4 percent annualized rate vs 1.2 percent and 0.7 percent in prior estimates” [Econoday]. “Consumer spending also gets an upgrade, to 1.1 percent from prior estimates of 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent. This had been the weakest consumer showing in 7 years but is now the weakest in 4 years… Slower inventory growth stripped 1.1 percentage points from the first quarter rate. Looking at final sales, which exclude inventories, growth was very respectable at 2.6 percent. Both residential investment and business investment were the big positives that offset consumer weakness, adding 0.5 points and 1.2 points respectively. Government purchases subtracted 0.2 points as did net exports.” And: “The overall impact on Federal Reserve policy is likely to be limited, especially in terms of growth, with the consumer spending data reinforcing expectations that a the [sic] slowdown was temporary” [Economic Calendar]. Yes, that “a the” blooper is in the text. What’s going on there? And but: “Not sure the inflation change is real – but overally the first quarter is now better than the previous quarter using year-over-year analysis” [Econintersect]. And: “This was above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

Jobless Claims, week of June 24, 2017: “Jobless claims remain solidly stable at historic lows” [Econoday].

Corporate Profits, Q1 2017 (revised): “Corporate profits rose a revised 11.5 percent year-on-year in first-quarter 2017” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 25, 2017: “Eased sharply for a second straight week” [Econoday]. “This is the lowest reading since February but still points to solid consumer optimism.”

Durable Goods (Monday): “Worse than expected and prior month revised lower, but otherwise muddling through at modest rates of annual growth” [Mosler Economic].

Shipping: “The world’s largest container shipping group Maersk has been hit by a major cyber attack that is affecting a number of major companies around the world, with Maersk’s IT systems down across multiple sites and business units” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “Maersk Line vessels are maneuverable, able to communicate and crews are safe,’ the company said. ‘APM Terminals is impacted in a number of ports.'” Not that I’m foily, but is there reason to think a “cyber” (ugh) attack would render vessels unmaneuverable?

Shipping: “[F[or a broad array of businesses the attack on Maersk marked an alarming sign of the vulnerability of supply chains to hacking. Maersk carries an outsize share of global trade on its ships, leaving the potential financial pain from the hack to reach companies far beyond the vessels themselves” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “According to a DHL Trend Research report, it’s estimated that drivers spend 40-60% of their time locating the correct boxes within their truck for the next delivery. For many, this process relies on their memory of how the truck was loaded. An AR [Augmented Reality] app could be used to streamline the time it takes to identify packages upon delivery and reduce the time it takes now to figure out what package goes where” [Supply Chain 247]. “Augmented reality: Layers virtual elements onto the real world. It blends digital components and the real-world imagery and can be experienced through smartphone and tablet devices”; Apple just released an SDK.

Shipping: “Will you please pack your container properly..!!” [Shipping and Freight Resource]. “There are innumerable cases of damage to cargo, containers, personnel, lifting equipment and ships due to improper packing of cargo into containers. Cargo damage can take many forms such as Physical, Wet, Contamination, Temperature related etc. As per UK P&I Club, 25% of the cargo claims that they receive [are] due to physical damage.” As with AR above, we’re seeing the heavy hitters of Silicon Valley swinging for the fences with AI, autonomous vehicles, drones, etc., when they could be scoring runs by playing small ball. Apps for packing trucks (above) and packing cargo (here) aren’t the sort of projects that attract goatee-stroking brand evangelists or daddy’s stupid money, but catering to those use cases would yield real, measurable benefits in a short time. Hitting singles is the anti-Bezzle….

Housing: “Using your home as an ATM is dumb. Yet here we go” (chart) [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “Home equity withdrawals are now getting back in fashion. People are already leveraged up to their eyeballs in other forms of debt (see later in article). So what if they don’t have a NINJA loan. What happens when there is a correction and the next recession hits? Just look at the balance sheets of many tech companies based in California. They are ridiculous. And these companies employ hundreds of thousands of high paid tech workers. Many of these workers are keeping the bubble afloat in places like San Francisco. Does it matter that you put 20 percent down on a $1 million crap shack but lose your job? Many of these tech companies have balance sheets that are not performing. So the stock market is hot, the housing market is hot, and now the mania is making people think that using your home like an ATM is smart. It is not.”

Debt: “Strict underwriting criteria are part of the reason that Redwood City-based lender Oportun has been hailed by many as a responsible outlier in a subprime market where ‘payday lenders’ dominate. The company, which primarily targets Latino borrowers, declines half of all applicants” [Capital and Main]. “Founded in 2005, Oportun has managed to operate profitably while making a dent in a difficult-to-serve market – the 45 million people that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identifies as having little-to-no credit history….A key ingredient in Oportun’s secret sauce is advanced data analytics. The company has developed the ability to score applicants, even if they lack a FICO score — as do half of Oportun’s borrowers. That scoring system, developed with the help of $260 million in venture capital, contributed to Oportun’s reaching profitability just over two years ago.” They also have physical branches.

The Bezzle: “When people refer to putting land titles or diamonds “on the blockchain”, they’re using a short hand that belies blockchain’s limitations. To represent any physical thing in the ledger requires firstly a schema – a formal agreement about which symbols in the data structure correspond to what property in the real world – and secondly a process to bind the owner of that property to the special private key (known in the trade as a Bitcoin wallet) used to sign each ledger entry. Who does that binding?” [Constellation (Richard Smith)]. If you follow blockchain, this is must-read.

The Bezzle: “Blue Apron Breaks Infatuation With Growth at Any Price” [Bloomberg]. “Or maybe this isn’t just about Blue Apron but a signal that broader doubts have crept in about the wisdom of fairly full valuations for untested companies. I assume Spotify is watching. It’s another fast-growing company with many red flags that is hoping to go public at a rich valuation.” Blue Apron also treats its workers badly, in common with other Silicon Valley startups, especially Uber, but that doesn’t seem to affect its valuation. At least not downward.

The Bezzle: “Customer retention is one of the biggest challenges for Blue Apron. More than half of meal-kit subscribers in general cancel their subscriptions within the first six months, CNBC reported last month, citing data from the purchase-analytics firm Cardlytics” [Los Angeles Times]. “Blue Apron’s revenue totaled $795.4 million last year, up from $77.8 million in 2014, but it also lost a combined $132.7 million over those three years, including a $54.9-million loss last year…. One reason for the losses is that Blue Apron’s spending on marketing also soared in that period, to $144 million last year. The heavy marketing spending, along with Blue Apron’s promotional discounts for new subscriptions, is needed partly to attract enough new customers to offset cancellations.”

The Bezzle: “[Blue Apron’s] orders, too, are rising rapidly — especially a big jump between Q4 last year and Q1 this year — but it still has to effectively acquire a customer and return the value on what it spent marketing to that customer. Services like Blue Apron may have been effective initially through word of mouth and promotions, but as it gets more and more expensive to acquire customers the company has to figure out ways to keep them for a longer amount of time in order to earn back that spend. As of Q1 this year, Blue Apron says the average customer orders 4.1 meals” [TechCrunch]. That’s not very many.

The Bezzle: “Short Sellers: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Give ‘Em $15,000-An-Hour Consulting Gigs To Turn Rat” [DealBreaker]. This is fun!

Political Risk: Zuckerberg: “We want to help 1 billion people join meaningful communities. If we can do this it will not only reverse the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen around the world … but it will also strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together” [247 Wall Street]. “We”? “Our”? What’s wrong with this dude? The very last thing I want is some lucky squillionaire writing an algorithm that defines, for me, what a “meaningful community” might be. If Zuckerberg really wants to encourage “meaningful communities,” the best thing it could do is break itself up.

Political Risk: “New paper finds that political and personal interests have a major impact on politicians’ decisions regarding bank bailouts” [ProMarket]. Sweetheart, get me rewrite!

Five Horsemen: “Amazon reigns as King of the Tech Wrecks, while Apple can’t even keep up with the S&P. What have they done to the Goog?” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jun29

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Greed (previous close: 60, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 29 at 11:36am


“A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change” [Guardian]. “The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised ‘on the go’ culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.”

Word of the day: plastiglomerate [e-flux]. This is a very good post:

What is a beach actually? It is marginalia, a footnote to the essay that is the ocean. Beaches are many things and can range from rocky outcrops to lush vegetation. But the sandy beach of popular imagination is made up of sediment, of particles coming from eroded coral reefs in the ocean, sediment from the sea floor, eroded sections of the continental shelf, or weathered and eroded rocks from nearby cliffs. In Hawai’i, volcanic basalt sometimes contributes to the mix, creating black beaches of small-to-tiny particles that are eroded by the constant, lapping wave action of the ocean. Beaches are far from sedentary. They are in constant motion, as wind and water wear away at rocks, coral, shells, and other matter. They also stretch across time as certain minerals, such as quartz and feldspar, are chemically stable and strong enough to last well through erosion, often forming the base of beaches millennia old. When plastics are released into the ocean, they join this process

Class Warfare

“Haiti garment workers launch another protest over wages” [Daily Mail]. “Garment workers have taken to the streets of the Haitian capital for the second time in two weeks to demand a minimum wage increase The workers at factories making T-shirts, pants and other apparel were also demonstrating Monday against the firing of roughly 40 union members at a Port-au-Prince industrial park.” Nice to see the Clinton family, who have done so very much for Haiti, out on the front lines here. Oh, wait….

“New York Times newsroom to walk out after editors, reporters send letters decrying direction of paper” [MarketWatch]. Good thing management got rid of the Public Editor, eh? “‘Editors — and yes, that especially means copy editors — save reporters and the Times every day from countless errors, large and small,” [the reporters] say in the letter. ‘Requiring them to dance for their supper sends a clear message to them, and to us, that the respect we have shown the Times will not be reciprocated.'” It’s almost like shifting to “digital” is an excuse….

“Looking for a job? Brace yourself for very invasive background checks…” [MarketWatch]. Your alternative digital identities — if any, of course — are a real asset…

“The richest people on the planet just got even richer, but one country was an all-star” [MarketWatch]. Love the clickbait, but: “The world’s ultra-high net worth population — individuals with $30 million or more in assets — grew by 3.5% to 226,450 individuals in 2016 after a sharp fall a year earlier, according to new data by global wealth consultancy Wealth-X. Their combined wealth also increased in 2016 by 1.5% to $27 trillion. There were sharp regional fluctuations in dollar-denominated wealth creation last year, with North America (up 5.1%) recording the only significant rise in wealth, followed by Asia (up 3.5%)…. Buoyed by a stronger dollar, rising equity markets and a robust tech sector, the U.S. consolidated its dominant position as the world’s leading ultra-high net worth country.” USA! USA! But: “In the U.S., average workers did not see the same kind of gains as the super-rich. The average chief executive at a S&P 500 company received a pay raise in 2016 nearly three times the rate of the average worker.” Odd, that. Also, fewer billionaires and more millionaires. But there are not very many of the Shing.

“United Parcel Service Inc. is taking bigger actions to pare its growing pension burden. The package carrier plans to freeze pension plans for about 70,000 nonunion employees… seeking to corral a retirement fund with a nearly $10 billion deficit. The company closed the pension plan to new hires last year and offered buyouts to former workers, joining major U.S. corporations looking to rein back a collective deficit in the S&P 1500 pension plans that totaled $408 billion last year” [Wall Street Journal].

“In fact, modern corporations struggle to create a sense of a collaborative community of employees, managers, suppliers, lenders, distributors, service providers, customers, and shareholders, all cooperating to create value by better satisfying customer needs and aspirations” [Ricardo Hausman, Project Syndicate]. “To create functioning collaborative organizations, humans have evolved a sense of “us,” a feeling of belonging to what the historian and political scientist Benedict Anderson famously called an “imagined community.” We owe such communities our loyalty, and we feel pride in their achievements, pain in their stumbles, and hope for their continued success. We cooperate not just because it is in our cold pecuniary interest to do so, but because a cocktail of moral sentiments – loyalty, pride, guilt, shame, outrage, glee – make us work and root for our team… It is easy to see why the vision of the firm as a collaborative community is winning out in business schools and the most successful companies.” Hmm. I can see why modern corporations would like us to believe this. But it’s hard to see how people who have trained their outsourced successors and been fired, or been threatened with being replaced with robots, or are members of the precariat, would view these concepts with anything more positive than irony.

News of the Wired

“Remains from ‘skull cult’ discovered at world’s oldest stone monuments” [Ars Technica]. Just to pre-empt one obvious question, the monument is nowhere near Chappaqua.

“Burning Man will go on under Trump (probably)” [Axios]. “Rumors were floating around the Burning Man online community that President Trump may try to block the event, possibly because the participants tend to skew much more liberal than conservative (There are exceptions, of course, like tax guru Grover Norquist, who wrote a piece about his experience there a few years ago).” Why hasn’t some clever person franchised Burning Man, anyhow?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Chris):

Chris writes: “As a bonus, and to remind you of the festive season, and as you head into warmer times, a beautiful flowering Poinsettia. Loves full sun and my partner’s loving care and watering most days. We also have the pink ones in flower too.”

UPDATE Now that that the 2017 Water Cooler fundraiser post is launched, I can say that directions for sending a check will include a request to send me a parallel email so I can thank you. I was not able to thank all you sent me checks this year, because I was unable to connect physical mail identities to online identities. Apologies!

* * *

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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

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



    Gov. Cuomo Declares MTA State of Emergency

    “We need ideas outside the box, because frankly the box is broken,” Cuomo said.

    Translation: Suspension of normal procurement procedures (big pay day for politically connected firms), personnel changes without board approval, and Dear Governor extending his chokehold on New York state politics.

    1. Huey Long

      Dear Governor is taking a beating on Twitter for this at the moment:


      For those commenteriat members in NYC so inclined, the above Twitter feed and associated blog is an invaluable resource for keeping track of what’s going on with the MTA.

    2. Marco

      Compare and contrast with Paris. America can’t do anything right. Anyone care to speculate how an NYC economy fares with a crumbling public transit system?

  2. Vatch

    For those who are interested, the UN’s latest population projections are here:


    For those (like me) who don’t want to wade through 53 pages, here’s a brief discussion:


    The principal “medium variant” projection is that the Earth’s population will be 9.8bn in 2050 and 11.2bn in 2100.

    There is a 95 per cent probability that the global population will be between 8.4 and 8.7 billion in 2030, between 9.4 and 10.2 billion in 2050 and between 9.6 and 13.2 billion in 2100.

    The chance of population growth ending before 2100 is only 23 per cent.

    The 47 least developed countries will see their populations more than triple between 2017 and 2100, reaching more than 3bn people.

    The medium-variant projection assumes that the global fertility level will decline from 2.5 births per woman in 2017 to 2.2 by 2050, and then to 2.0 by 2100. (A fertility level of 2.1 is considered to be the “replacement rate”, at which numbers of births and deaths will balance out over time.)

    Africa remains the region with the highest fertility levels, although total fertility has fallen from 5.1 births per woman in 2000-2005 to 4.7 in 2015. Over half of global population growth up to 2050 will occur in Africa.

    In the last ten years, fertility levels in Asia fell from 2.4 to 2.2.

    The population sizes projected in the principal projection will not be met without action. In the words of the report, “it will be essential to support continued improvements in access to reproductive health care services, including family planning, especially in the least developed countries, with a focus on enabling women and couples to achieve their desired family size.”

    I doubt that the world’s population will reach 11 billion by 2100. Resource shortages (including food, water, and energy), pandemics, and multiple wars will prevent that from happening. We can expect a lot more people will live in poverty over the coming decades.

    1. hemeantwell

      “it will be essential to support continued improvements in access to reproductive health care services, including family planning, especially in the least developed countries, with a focus on enabling women and couples to achieve their desired family size.”

      I would have to be hypnotized, drunk, stoned and in a room saturated with elevator music not to look ahead to 2100 and not see mass die-offs along the way. To think of policies of that sort as key is like ensuring the soap trays on the Titanic are good to go.

      1. Huey Long

        I would have to be hypnotized, drunk, stoned and in a room saturated with elevator music not to look ahead to 2100 and not see mass die-offs along the way.

        Funny, that’s how I’ve been coping lately except I prefer the band moe. to elevator music.

    2. Ed

      “The principal “medium variant” projection is that the Earth’s population will be 9.8bn in 2050 and 11.2bn in 2100”

      Well that is good news because I probably then won’t have to off myself.

      I would be 80 in 2050 and likely to die for the normal reasons around that time. But whatever the planet’s carrying capacity for humans is, 10 billion comes way to close for it. There really is a strong ethical case for suicide once things get to that point. And life then would be pretty crappy anyway.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Posted my film reference without seeing yours, honestly! Great minds and all that….

    3. john k

      There will be an armada in the mediterranean keeping people from crossing.
      Africa already facing rapid desertification, gross mismanagement, refusal to allow family planning maybe worse than the reps, imagine more people. they will be fighting each other for the meager resources.

        1. ambrit

          Well, as Congo shows, indeed has shown as far back as King Leopolds’ day, resource exploitation, of which the local human populations are viewed as a disposable part, also effects population trends. Once more economic information is supplied, events “on the ground” in almost any place become much more understandable.

    4. andyb

      The projections will be meaningless if the psychotic Russia-baiting neocons have their way and there’s a nuclear WWIII. Then of course there is the totally unstoppable nuclear radiation emanating from Fukushima which will, it is estimated, reduce life spans to 50 years by 2050. And that’s not counting the nefarious incremental genocide foisted on the population through Fluoridation, glyphosate, GMOs, and the poisons of Big Pharma.

      It’s interesting that a CIA connected website called Deagle is projecting a 2025 US population of only 69 million. What will happen to the other 300,000,000 people?

  3. allan

    Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

    Abstract: Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

    File under Gaia/Class Warfare/Another Solid for the Back Row Kids.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality

      You say that like it’s a bad thing…

      Seriously, “spatially explicit” is something I’d like to see a lot more of. It helps sort winners and losers, unlike these effing averages I ware through all day….

    2. a different chris

      >empirically derived estimates of economic damage

      It’s weird. I alternate between being (family blog)ed-off at people who even think economics are an issue to be considered in this, and grateful that they at least are saying what needs to be said, stupid as it is, to have any hope of getting the attention of the 0.01 percenters.

      I am lucky I guess that I don’t come from a long-lived gene pool.

    3. Burritonomics

      Economic “projections” are dubious at best, much less those forecasting almost ONE HUNDRED years from now. We have no idea what technological, political, and social shifts will occur in the coming decades. I’m not denying the massive risk built into climate change, but stuff like this is darn near worthless.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Projections about future events, economically or otherwise…are difficult.

        Measuring what has happened economically last 90 days shouldn’t be hard, but even that is problematic….see inflation, GDP, unemployment, etc.

        1. Art Eclectic

          Yeah, I don’t think I’d place any bets on how the coming war between nationalists/white supremacists/religious fundamentalists vs everyone else turns out.

  4. Altandmain

    Re: UPS – they are screwing their own hardworking employees over, but they don’t want to admit it.

    There goes Musk’s dream – CHina is about to go crazy with batteries:

    DNC Still Won’t Pay Interns or Overtime for Field Organizers

    Sy Hersh, Exposer of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, Strikes Again, Exposing US Lies About Alleged Assad Sarin ‘Attack’

    US is asking INdia to screw its own people over patents

    When you’ve lost the New Republic (a pro Democratic mouthpiece)

    On a personal note, I just had another phone interview. We’ll see how this one goes, because it is a company that I really think is interesting.

    1. PKMKII

      On the TNR piece: I got a ton of those messages related to the Quist campaign, although I’m sure they came from the DCCC and associates. Quickly turned into ignored noise.

    2. Ranger Rick

      People are missing the strategic value of the battery factory in Nevada: before capacity, before money, it shows that things can still be manufactured from raw materials in the US and that people are investing in it. Naturally China is going to try to dump it out of the market as a threat to their own manufacturing, but that “factory of the world” image of theirs is ripe for a challenge.

      1. Altandmain

        In theory I agree.

        Batteries could be a US infant industry. The problem is that I don’t think that the US sees things that way. Will they subsidize Musk’s batteries too even in the face of cheaper Chinese batteries?

    3. Jim Haygood

      From the Musk article:

      As Elon Musk races to finish building the world’s biggest battery factory in the Nevada desert, China is poised to leave him in the dust.

      Chinese companies have plans for additional factories with the capacity to pump out more than 120 gigawatt-hours a year by 2021, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

      By comparison, when completed in 2018, Tesla Inc.’s Gigafactory will crank out up to 35 gigawatt-hours of battery cells annually.

      Competing with the Chinese on a commodity product is a b-a-a-a-d idea. Once they get the bit between their teeth targeting a market, they flood it until the marginal producer is losing money. I have a bad feeling about that Gigafactory.

      Couple of ideas for Elon: (1) Visit Donald T and pitch “American steel, American batteries!” (2) Convert the Gigafactory into a cannabis grow op and rule the Cali recreational market.

      Elon, Elon likes his money
      He makes a lot they say
      Spends his days counting
      In a garage by the motorway

      He was born a pauper
      To a pawn on a Christmas day
      When the New York Times
      Said God is dead and the war’s begun

      — Elton John, Levon

      1. Altandmain

        Musk likely burned that bridge with Trump when he left the advisory team over the Paris Agreement.

  5. Huey Long

    RE: Corporate Bernays Sauce

    In fact, modern corporations struggle to create a sense of a collaborative community of employees, managers, suppliers, lenders, distributors, service providers, customers, and shareholders, all cooperating to create value by better satisfying customer needs and aspirations”

    Perhaps modern corporations are hitting some hard limits on the effectiveness of propaganda. I mean one can only lie for so long before one exhausts one’s credibility.

    1. Mike

      Well said, and, by the way, the US is not Japan, if my cultural education was correct. When just-in-time manufacturing was the rage there, only the Defense Department could get excited about it, and gave it a good shot with contractors, until the contractors moved a good bit of their DoD manufacturing offshore. Hard to keep a “community” together when it’s trying so hard to pull apart in order to “be someone”.

      A kill-or-be-killed business ethic interferes as well, but let’s not get too nit-picky…

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hey, General Motors was excited about lean manufacturing too. Toyota agreed to teach GM at the Nummi plant in Fremont, Cali. A quarter century later, GM was bankrupt.

        Now the Nummi plant is Tesla. Nummi produced 74 vehicles per worker per year. Tesla produces 8 to 14 vehicles per worker per year. Yet Tesla’s market cap is bigger than Ford’s and GM’s.

        Lesson: take the slow road to riches! ;-)

    2. mirjonray

      When I read that paragraph in Huey Long’s comment about that “collaborative community of employees….” I immediately thought of an article I read recently in the Detroit News about some sort of squishy gobbledygook initiative called “Thrive Petoskey”.

      Carlin Smith, president of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes Petoskey can do better and is helping spearhead a chamber-led movement called Thriving Petoskey.

      It’s an effort that embraces a “conscious” business philosophy in which companies pursue a purpose beyond profit. The goal is enjoyable work environments with flexible schedules and employee involvement in decision-making. They keep customers in mind when making decisions and see vendors as part of their team. They also create a caring culture — seeing mistakes as opportunities to learn and not to punish.

      “Thriving Petoskey goes beyond the thriving and successful business,” Smith said. “It’s about having a thriving and successful community, school system and nonprofit systems. It’s about successful families and people leading successful lives. It’s much more broad-reaching than what visitors might see when they pass people carrying shopping bags in a busy downtown.”


      There seems to be some sort of nationwide movement to teach organizations how to do things they should have been doing all along without even thinking about it. When I read this article I remarked to my partner that I’m so cynical I always smell a rat when I read stuff like this, and I wonder if there’s some underlying agenda.

    3. Indrid Cold

      Where propaganda fails, there is always the truncheon, the prison, the sacking. I’m surprised black listings of employees who are troublesome politically awake have not become a thing again.

  6. hemeantwell

    “Deconstructing the Administrative State”

    Gets a growl from me for the failure to refer to Ted Lowi’s 1969 book The End of Liberalism that was all about this. His idea that there was a cascade of bargaining, running from original legislation to “bargaining on the rule” to “bargaining on the application of the rule” is tremendously useful, so why not cite it?

    1. cocomaan

      I think it’s a little unreasonable to expect everyone to have read everything.

      Then again, isn’t most of this administrative bloat just based on the Commerce Clause? I didn’t listen to the podcast, but I didn’t see any mention of it in there, either.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Commerce Clause is the initiator, for sure, the shield and curtain behind which all that administrative machinery operates. It is, and always has been, in the nature of large political economies, to conduct the government through administrators, with more or less accountability.

        A lot of effort and Deep Thought went into the Administrative Procedures Act, and still does in the many law review articles that try to rationalize how it really works and “prove” its real-world consistency with “Constitutional principles.” And there are still intense and various efforts to ensure that some modicum of what we laughingly call “transparency” and “due process” and “equal protection” and consideration of the General Welfare got rolled into the actions of the administrators.

        But human nature assures that the seams and weaknesses and pressure points will appear, will be found, and will be exploited for personal and “group” benefit and advantage. That there’s not a lot more outright theft and fraud is sort of amazing to this former bureaucratic minion — there were, and are still, a lot of people who join up in actual “government service” to try to serve the
        ‘public good,’ honorably and honestly. But what happens when Mr. Zabriski goes to Washington and rises to a GS-11 or 13 level, and develops some familiarity with all the “unwritten law” that constitutes that vast body of not only APA-governed rules that pack the Federal Register, but often obscure guidance documents and policies and interpretive memoranda and institutional memory and tradition? The seduction, or the browbeating or straight abuse, starts up.

        And “the People” often leave something to be desired. Years ago, EPA was developing rules, under delegation of Congressional power citing the Commerce Clause, to regulate toxic chemicals going into the “Navigable Waters Of The US.” The rulemaking process was very contentious, corps hate to spend money on anything that is not a “profit center,” and was protracted long beyond the time Congress had decreed that the rules implementing the legislative decree to reduce the discharge of such substances. Various groups had sued the EPA to try to force the Agency to promulgate, and even when ordered to do so, EPA’s administrator declined because the elbowing for position was still on. The lobbying and subversion and corruption were hot and heavy.

        And it finally got to a point where the “stakeholders” had negotiated regulations they were willing to price into their operations. At that point, a nominally “environmental” group, the NRDC, that was deep in the DC scene and loved the administrative warfare, (remember the snail darter?) filed suit to bar the promulgation of the final rule (implementation would take years longer) because their perfect people felt that the public-participation allowed in the notice and comment period was not adequate. The DC Circuit enjoined EPA’s promulgation and ordered additional public comment that in the end did not change the actual rule at all. I called the attorney for the “environmental” group and asked what they thought they were accomplishing. Delaying the rule would result in millions of pounds of polychlorinated nastiness to continue to be discharged, since no corp would so a damn thing about their crapification and shedding of externalities until there were some teeth to bite them. The response was, “So what? We have a good issue. It keeps us in the game.”

        There’s bloat and corruption, to be sure, but regulation is in the nature of the human beast. And it was clearly effective and necessary, to varying degrees, in times past, but of course the K Street and Beltway Bandits, and the shites who run the Pentagram shell games, have figured out how to leave a patina of “protection against abuse” while looting everything in sight. Though they have begun to see and act like they know they don’t even have to maintain the chimaera of ‘being regulated” any more (antitrust, control fraud, you name it).

        Speaking of Musk, as we’re doing today, and others who fatten and bloat on wealth transfers from the federal and state and local governments, they are fed off the tables and labor of the mopes who still, sort of, in their hearts, feel and maybe believe, in one of the cognitive phases they hold in mind so dissonantly (“Keep yer stinking government hands off my Medicare/Social Security/etc!”), that “government” is actually there to help. And they are minutely, fractionally, and decliningly right, but the bit of that which is true is shrinking, as it appears always to do when “government” reaches the Empire-oligarchy stage…

        A little aside: Some corps discovered that they could actually make a profit by reducing their environmental insults — could recover product lost by bad maintenance practices, found markets for waste products, discovered that despite the kicking and screaming about the ‘technology forcing” aspects of the law that they could institute process improvements that increased their profits, and by patenting and licensing their forced waste reduction technology and in the presence of actual enforcement by EPA, they could turn a nominal liability into an often very valuable asset. But some corps just like to tell the government and the public to fokk offffff. Monsanto, Dow/duPont or whatever those Corporate Persons are this week: https://seekingalpha.com/news/3273847-dow-chemical-dupont-confirm-u-s-antitrust-clearance-merger .

      1. Oregoncharles

        in 1969, “liberal” meant the New Deal and Great Society. At that point, that included ending apartheid in the US.

        OTOH, liberals were responsible for the Vietnam War. The ideology was imperialist and militaristic.

        The New Left (the kids, mostly) insisted that they were not liberals, in part because they were peaceniks but also because “liberal” represented the status quo, hence was the real conservatism.

        The stuff you’ve been calling “liberal” is rather different – neoliberal, without the economic populism.

    1. different clue

      All kinds of people who don’t really approve of Facebook feel they have to be on it to survive in this digital society we have today. How many of those people read Naked Capitalism? How many of those people read Sic Semper Tyrannis?

      I don’t have Facebook and don’t understand how it works, how to post things there, etc. But I wonder if those who do understand it, and who disapprove of Facebook censoring SST and trying to black it out, can form a sort of leaderless fog of mosquitoes to keep biting Facebook and draining blood from it until it is tortured into uncensoring SST and restoring the blacked out material? Can people with a Facebook account write favorably about a blog or website they recommend and describe how to reach it in “english” without giving the sort of URL or link which Facebook would censor or block?

      And could a TwitterSwarm of SST supporters and censorship-opposers try launching different hashtags on the subject to see if any of them trend upward so fast and furious that Twitter dares not try to censor them or throttle them? And could those hashtags keep referring to Facebook accounts which keep referring to SST and the Facebook censorship and blackout?

      What good is “being an enemy” if you can’t punish and torture the person who made you its enemy? Ultimately, what good is “being an enemy” if you can’t crush and defeat the person who made you an enemy, and compel it to obey your will? ( In this case to uncensor and restore SST)?

  7. Altandmain

    More class warfare if you want it:

    Get laid off from Sears … and receive no severance:

    MOre people are too poor to afford university in the UK:

    Meanwhile community college students are increasingly homeless

    Young people are too open with salary information:

    Interesting interview
    Nina Turner with Naomi Klein:

    1. Huey Long

      Sez Nader: what do they even know for that kind of salary.

      They’re members of the “big club” that George Carlin refers too in the following clip:


      Harvard guys are “men of honor” after all, just like certain other “men of honor” in the southern reaches of Italy.

      1. Carolinian

        That’s not too far from the reply given by author Duff McDonald. He says the school is a process whereby the graduates show that they will be suitably committed to the money making ethos. Half the graduates go into finance. Far fewer go into manufacturing or other real world activities.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They should be able to afford the tuition then.

      Philosophy majors definitely need help with tuition. Not sure about business majors.

  8. flora

    ” “Maersk Line vessels are maneuverable, able to communicate and crews are safe,’ the company said. ‘APM Terminals is impacted in a number of ports.’” Not that I’m foily, but is there reason to think a “cyber” (ugh) attack would render vessels unmaneuverable?”

    Not as long as they keep the onboard OT network separate from the IT network, which a shipping company (or manufacturer) would do.

    1. Huey Long

      Former sailor here:

      Hydraulic rams make the steering gear work, and there’s always a manual mode on those in case the controls fail or for troubleshooting. As for the engine, so long as they keep the computers that control the fuel injection system and governor disconnected from the IT network as flora states, it’ll keep turning the screws.

      So long as the crew is keeping on top of things ships are fairly resistant to cyber attack. Therein lies the problem.

      Most big commercial ships are navigated by the autopilot during open ocean steaming to save fuel:


      These autopilot systems are dependent on electronic charts, GPS, AIS, and radar sensors to navigate the ship. All of the above can be hacked/spoofed to serve nefarious purposes and the only way the bridge watchstanders would know would be if they were maintaining a plot on a paper chart and verifying the ship’s position periodically using celestial navigation techniques or piloting if within sight of the shore.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Or they could just check/plot their true position on their GPS phone couldn’t they? You can’t hack the ship’s nav *and* all the crew’s phones. A cheap consumer un-networked GPS reciever could pretty easily even give alerts if the ship left its preprogrammed course.

            1. Huey Long

              Yeah, I’ve been following the Fitzgerald tragedy pretty closely. Regardless of what actually happened, the beltway spinmeisters may try to hang this on the North Koreans or Chinese a la the USS Maine as hacking/spoofing are plausible causes. Not likely, but definitely plausible.

              Gcaptain has the best reporting on the topic IMNSHO:




              What’s more likely is the Fitz’s OOD, bridge watch, and CiC watch or some combination therein screwed up and let a freighter not only sneak up on them, but run them over too.

              To get a feel for how this could have gone down, I recommend watching this training video the Navy put out after one of their destroyers got run over by an Aussie aircraft carrier back in the 60’s:


              1. bob

                “hacking/spoofing are plausible causes”

                Don’t rule out the USN ship as the hacker. That ship is, at least, a floating RF jamming station. Taking that one step further is spoofing. Guided Missile Destroyer.

                Someone forgot to turn off the Invisible Machine?

                Agree on the crew cause, but wondering what else went wrong.

      2. a different chris

        I swear I read a piece of sci-fi, a very long time ago, where an autonomous ship/space ship was redirected and some important cargo removed and replaced with subtly altered versions.

        And if there is no such book, you are not allowed to steal my idea! I am so going to write it and, yes, add explosions/hotties and sell film rights to Michael Bay I don’t care his money spends just like that from somebody who doesn’t stink.

  9. dcblogger

    Hundreds. I’m not seeing any images of an actual chain, either. Readers?

    I was there, there were thousands. Not as big as the anti-Keystone Pipeline protest that formed a human chain around the White House, which was hundreds of thousands, but there were certainly thousands in yesterday’s protest. It was cheerful, mostly women.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    Re Blue Apron:
    As I’ve noted elsewhere about the ‘disappointing’ IPO:

    “… the Blue Apron IPO was spooked by the Whole Foods / Amazon link up. Whole Foods are experts at selling designer ready-to-eat foods and ingredients to people with more money than time. Amazon are experts at order assembly, supply chain, and delivery, with a significant client base of people with strong desires for immediate gratification and more money than time. Between the two, I’d expect them to blow Blue Apron (and all their competetitors) to dust.”

  11. DJG

    From the Nation article on the new wave of candidates (and I thought that such people weren’t supposed to exist and used publicly generated electricity[!])

    “Dylan Parker is a 28-year-old diesel mechanic and member of the Quad Cities chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. In 2016, Parker was a Sanders delegate; in early April of this year, he was elected to the City Council of Rock Island, Illinois, with a campaign that updated the “sewer socialist” municipal politics of the 1930s by focusing on providing universal high-speed Internet access and expanding Rock Island’s publicly owned hydroelectric power plant.”

    Further, I was at a meet-the-candidate appearance by Daniel Biss, running for governor of Illinois. The central part of his pitch was policy, but this paragraph from the article describes the tone of his discussion at the Broadway Armory:

    “This is the essential first step in breaking the grip of a politics that imagines large parts of the country will always be red, and that says the only real fights are over an elusive middle ground where campaigns are fought with lots of money but little substance. The resistance-and-renewal politics that’s now gathering momentum rejects such empty politics and embraces what Chokwe Antar Lumumba identifies as ‘the struggle [that] does not cease'”

    1. a different chris

      So we have a white dude from Illinois name-checking Lumumba and pushing substance. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Don’t tell Joy Reid her head will explode.

  12. dcblogger

    If Mothership Strategies is really poisoning small donor online fundraising, mebbe that was the strategy all along.

    1. ambrit

      I’m always very suspicious of any political apparatus that springs up well funded from the beginning. I suspect the motives of the initial funders. H—, I suspect everyones’ motives nowadays.

  13. Mike

    RE: CNN Journalists Resign (Intercept)

    Seems they are trying to walk back the Reality Winner Show. It is amazing to me how they have skipped explanation of how that air rifle got across their editorial tightrope.

    Have I missed an article or posting from them that even mentions it, or a mild mea culpa?

  14. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    A shout out to our company’s Chief Security Officer Steve Wilson, linked in the Bezzle blockchain article. A heaping serving of truthiness. Hi Steve!

  15. Jess

    I’m suddenly seeing a lot of (family blog) inserted into comments. Is there some new NC policy on profanity that I’m not aware of, or is this just one of those memes that goes viral?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      No (family blog) idea but you might be right. Vulgarity especially the F bomb is overused and out of fashion.

      1. Huey Long

        Vulgarity especially the F bomb is overused and out of fashion.

        I cannot wait for vulgarity to go out of fashion; I’m a former sailor, I cuss like one, and it’ll be nice when all the trendy interlopers go back to talking like normal people.

        Professional folks just sound odd when they try to talk like me. Observe Sen. Gillibrand:

        “Has he kept his promises?” she asked the crowd. “No, F*ck no!”

        She sounds like a parent trying to act cool and use the kid lingo instead of genuine which is what I think she was going for.

        She would have been better off saying something along the lines of:

        “Has our lying (family blog)sicle of a president kept any of his promises? No, not one.”

        I love the eff word for its versatility and hate seeing it wasted on adding emphasis to the word “no” like in her original statement. I mean why do that when you can use it to invent whole new words to express your disdain?

        This brings me to my favorite cuss word of all: (familyblog)sucker. I like it for its sheer vulgarity, because it’s the only thing I can think of that one cannot say in front of one’s mother. Ever.

        1. ambrit

          I dunno sailor. The c-s word accurately describes the post-industrial policies that Ross Perot warned against with his infamous NAFTA comment: “Hear that giant sucking sound? That’s the job your old lady will have to take to pay the bills after your job is offshored!”
          So, some profanity is actually descriptive of empirical f—ing reality.

        2. wilroncanada

          You mean something like?
          Did you buy your seersucker suit from Cock’s, or the reverse?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Avoiding profanity is long-standing policy at NC, the excuse being that “this is a family blog.” Like children read it.

      Someone started substituting (family blog) for profanity – especially amusing as a verb – and it caught on. Inside joke.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, back in 2003 – 2006, profanity seemed liberating (“vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left,” as Broder famously wrote*). I don’t think it turned out to be. And now people like Perez are adopting profanity as a sign of authenticity. Fuck that.

        I’m not a prude, and I don’t have principled objections to profanity. However, I think that stylistically, it’s boring. And it may be offputting to the policy makers who really do read us. So pragmatically, it’s best avoided.

        * That Broder column is worth a read. It’s amazing how much of it is still true, or rather false, even today.
        And I think “family blog” is (family-blogging) funny.

      1. different clue

        Well . . . it is a gesture of recognition in the direction of your own past admonition that “this is a family blog”.

  16. a different chris

    > An AR [Augmented Reality] app could be used to streamline the time it takes to identify packages upon delivery and reduce the time it takes now to figure out what package goes where”

    Awesome, so the delivery men will get paid more plus work less hours, right?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Why is the truck not packed using software that translates the destination info into stacking order?

      Starting the weekend–so reading the article would violate promises I’ve made to myself. I’m going to assume packers are employees, drivers not. Also assuming drivers will pay for the headset and training. And neuro problems.

      1. Greg

        In our ops the drivers pack their own trucks and there’s no digital destination information for more than half the items – just what’s written on the outside.
        The sort goes down to a fixed route and that’s what gets given to the drivers when they rock up to the depot at 5am.

  17. Pelham

    Re the New York Times hacking away at its copy editing staff, here’s the real value of copy editors, and why they’re actually more important than other editors:

    Stated simply: They work at night. Unlike editors with management duties who work and schmooze with reporters and higher-ups during the day, in the process often compromising and cutting corners as part of the mainstream gang (the 4th-estate offshoot of “the blob”), copy editors are temporally separate and thus free of such taint.

    They bring the freshest and least corrupted of all eyes to a story before it can hit the streets, doorsteps or the internet. At one of the papers I worked at, this was explicitly acknowledged and valued. This didn’t mean that ethical compromises weren’t made, but when it happened it was up to higher-ranking editors to dirty their hands and conceal the deed in such a way as to preserve the indispensable integrity of the copy desk.

    This isn’t to say that copy editors are flawless. They can massage copy in a way that displeases writers, especially those with inflated ideas about their prose. I take it the Times has no shortage of this type, so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that when the push comes, copy editors get shoved.

  18. Plenue

    >“Remains from ‘skull cult’ discovered at world’s oldest stone monuments” [Ars Technica].

    Looks like worship of Khorne is older than anyone knew.

  19. allan

    Neoliberalism information asymmetry alert,
    apropos of the recent discussion here about dynamic pricing.
    From the inbox:

    Since you’re a valued United MileagePlus® member, we’d like to share details with you about Everyday Awards, a new award travel option that will be available for bookings made on or after November 1, 2017.

    Everyday Awards will replace Standard Awards, and prices will vary from flight to flight. While prices will fluctuate, we’ll publish an award chart for Everyday Awards so that you’ll know the highest number of miles needed for each award.

    We’ll also introduce an updated award chart for Saver Awards booked on or after November 1, 2017. With this updated Saver Award chart, you’ll notice that select routes will have pricing changes, which may be higher or lower than today. ….

    Prices will fluctuate. A tagline for the 21st century, oligopolistic, Big Data-enabled,
    deregulation-empowered economy.

  20. Mo's Bike Shop

    “Just to pre-empt one obvious question, the monument is nowhere near Chappaqua”

    How old are your trolls?

    Well actually I’ve got a lot of resentment against WTWilson.

  21. programmer03

    I canceled Blue Apron after 6 months a few years back, but I know people who have stuck with it. Personally, it was too much work, and I always felt I got the worst-looking “periphery items” such as limes and lemons. I’m supposed to zest this brownish ugly-looking lime?

    And yes, the Amazon/Whole Foods merger matters. I’m open to meal kits – especially if they are partially prepared – but I think it can be done on a more local, impulsive level.

  22. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Recently, I’ve been wondering how to break onto the political scene, and Nina Turner/OurRev are really inspiring me to test out the waters against Scalise in my hometown – Metairie – which coincidentally also elected David Duke.

    Any advice?

    1. dcblogger

      you can put your zip code into the Our Revolutions map and see if there are any events near you, there do not seem to be

      I can’t work out if the Jefferson Parish Democratic Committee includes Metairie

      or maybe you would feel more comforatable with the Green Party

      Democratic Socialists of Louisana

      there is probably some Louisana equivalent of Moral Mondays, but I have no way to guess what it might be.

      look around and find something you feel comfortable with.

    2. ambrit

      Phyllis grew up on Haring road, just off of Airline Highway. Metairie has always been the addendum to New Orleans. That meant, white flight area. Today, it has large Hispanic and Oriental sub populations. The big “upscale” suburbs nestle snugly out “in the Parish,” so, fundraising can be, trendy. That district also includes the Northshore, so, count on courting a lot of old fashioned whites. The Northshore started out as an exurb, but with the opening of the Causeway, “the worlds’ longest bridge,” (crowd goes crazy,) it developed into a little further out suburbia. David Duke was based on the Northshore for years. He had an early AM talk radio show for years. Don’t ignore that demographic. Fired up people will get out and vote, plus argue a lot and get your points out into the noosphere for you.
      Finally, Louisiana has a storied history of wide ranging political free for alls. Don’t be afraid, and remember, the best “focus groups” are sitting around b-sing at the Mickey Ds’ every morning over their cups of “senior” coffee. (Why, I don’t know, but Mickey Ds’ seems to have become the informal agora of our times.)

  23. rjs

    i dont think any one caught that current dollar GDP was actually revised down slighly….but the GDP deflator was revised from 2.2% to 1.9%, and that made all the difference…

  24. Blennylips

    Google’s gone too far with this new news (fake proof and all vetted, I’m sure) outlet. I know who I blame for getting us here: (Huey’s gonna like this link) Eric (family blog)ing Schmidt.

    Introducing Google Social Search:
    I finally found my friend’s New York blog!
    Official blog – October 26, 2009

    Google’s Schmidt: Society not ready for technology
    Kicking off the inaugural Techonomy conference, Google’s CEO says that technology is moving faster than society can answer the questions it raises.
    Trukee, Calif – August 4, 2010

    He did have his torches of freedom moment with the Obamster, but gratifingly went down with the SS Clintoon, only to now reek revenge upon us — more bernay’s sauce.

    Anyone else remember in the pre-social search era where you could get an RSS feed of further blog search matches as they get published? Blog search is useless now.

    Okay experts, how does one break up a google? What are the pieces? Might have to defang the whole lot.

    I call dibs on the secret sauce software that was running google.com on 1 Oct 2009. Create an Apache like foundation to manage, and for heavens sake, give Richard Stallman a seat on the board.

    Then we can all enjoy searching again.

    How can I help to wrest control of search from google, pardon, alphabet?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Who can understand these neural networks, or why they keep giving us advertising while rejecting three of our very funky search terms?

    2. ambrit

      I’ve noticed a substantial degradation of search results in the Yahoo search function lately. The commercialization of “searching” has accelerated.

    1. ambrit

      Well, many years ago, when mastodons roamed the plains, funds had an expectation of a reasonable rate of inflation producing steady, if not spectacular returns on investment. Then, the “markets” intervened and dictated that “returns” must be spectacular and disconnected from the world of the “Main Street.” Short termism and excessive managerial “bonus” packages drove stability off of the cliff. We now inhabit the wreckage strewn about at the base of the talus.
      The centre has not held.

  25. BoycottAmazon


    Researchers in Europe and Canada have new evidence that neonicotinoid pesticides reduce the survival and reproductive success of bees. The effects, however, vary with location and bee species, two teams report June 30 in Science.


    In the second study, scientists at York University and Université Laval examined honeybees living near corn grown in Canada from neonicotinoid-treated seeds (2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aam7470). The researchers found that neonicotinoid-contaminated pollen collected by the honeybees did not originate from the corn. “This indicates that neonicotinoids, which are water soluble, spill over from agricultural fields into the surrounding environment, where they are taken up by plants that are very attractive to bees,” says York’s Nadia Tsvetkov, a Ph.D. student who worked on the study.

  26. kimsarah

    Re: So maybe the DCCC should stop flushing money down the consultant toilet and put some money into infrastructure?
    I’d almost consider donating a dollar if the DCCC showed where it spends its money.

  27. Dead Dog

    Thank you, Lambert, for the picture of the poinsettia. I appreciate the pictures both you and Yves put up each day and it’s nice to see one of mine every now and again.

    It is a reminder of the winter weather others are enduring while you northerners warm up for summer.

    How is the garden structure going??

    So pleased your fund raiser is going well.

    Click the hat!

  28. Lupemax

    I love McCaskill’s idea: “people in counties with no insurers to buy from the same exchanges members of Congress use.” So how come everybody doesn’t get to ride the train to HappyVille?

    For the same reason Sen. Baucus put a special provision in the original ACA that all the people in the town of Libby in his home state of Montana get to join medicare no matter what their age because of asbestos… to obtain votes…

    Lambert you probably talked about this long ago…

    “Under the new national health care law, victims of Libby’s asbestos are eligible for Medicare, regardless of age. Generally, Medicare is reserved only for senior citizens, or those with long-term disabilities.

    The health care law contains a clause that opens Medicare to anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease who stayed in Lincoln County a total of six months over a 10-year period. Even those who have never worked – and so never paid into Social Security – are eligible.” http://missoulian.com/news/local/federal-officials-bring-new-medicare-benefits-to-libby-asbestos-victims/article_91f27e90-62fb-11df-b05f-001cc4c002e0.html

Comments are closed.