Links 8/8/17

The famous Hermitage Museum keeps 74 cats to keep its basements mice-free Vintage News (margarita). From earlier this year.

Remarkable New Evidence for Human Activity in North America 130,000 Years Ago NPR (Chris S)

Driver crawls across ladder in Texas floods BBC

Error 404: A Look At Digital Decay Visual Capitalist (micael). This is a big issue. For instance, NC is an important resource to economists and historians and even more so post 2011 due to our detailed reporting on the crisis in real time and excerpts from sources that have since gone dark.

The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice Wall Street Journal

How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy NPR (David L)

North Korea

North Korea vows to teach US ‘severe lesson’ Aljazeera (micael)

North Korea Warns U.S., Rejects Talks To Give Up Nukes Wall Street Journal

Let’s try and understand North Korea’s actions: it sees the world as its enemy Oxford Research (micael)

The Omnipresence of Dust in Kathmandu Pacific Standard

Brussels warns egg scandal could now involve seven countries Politico


UK drifts closer to a Norway-style Brexit transition Politico. I’ve quoted this take from Simon Nixon before:

But could the EEA be a short-term solution to the U.K.’s Brexit challenges, operating as a transitional arrangement while the long-term relationship is negotiated? This seems far-fetched too. The EEA doesn’t pertain to the EU customs union, all EU free-trade agreements and agriculture, so it could only be a partial solution and would mean striking many other deals. A push to join the EEA would in any case be complex to negotiate, requiring not only the consent of 27 EU members but also the three other countries in the EEA. And the EU has been clear that any transitional deal must come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice—precluding one under the European Free Trade Agreement court that oversees the EEA.

Government to release key Brexit policy papers in next few weeks Guardian

Brexit bill: No longer if, but when and how much Politico. Notice how the Government is trying to rebrand the exit bill.

Oettinger says UK payments will have to continue to 2020 despite Brexit New Europe (micael)

Brits increasingly skeptical of Theresa May’s approach to Brexit: poll Politico

Northerners more likely to die early from ‘diseases of despair’ The Times

The Future of Greece Jacobin

What’s Left of the Bolivarian Revolution? Venezuela Analysis (micael)


What is behind Israel’s attempt to ban Al Jazeera? Aljazeera (Micael)

Hezbollah takes journalists in Lebanon on a tour to prove Trump wrong Washington Post (Sid S). Missed this from last week…

‘This is not Aleppo’: Shock at extent of destruction of Saudi Shia town Middle East Eye (micael)

New Cold War

Our Russia Fixation Is Devolving Into an Assault on Political Discourse The Nation

Russian Bots Are Starting to Attack Republican Party MSN (TF). Rooskies under every bed! Note the lack of real evidence.

The Russian Revolution, Debt Repudiation, War and Peace Defend Democracy

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Why Facebook should pay us a basic income Financial Times (David L). A provocative ways of arguing users should be paid for their data.

You’re CLEAR CLEAR (UserFriendly). Super duper bad. Normalizing handing over biometric data for mere convenience.

We Anonymously Controlled a Dildo Through the Tor Network Motherboard. While this is all good fun, it also means someone can probably anonymously control your IoT device if he’s determined to do so.

Trump Transition. Look at what happens when Trump is on vacation and not getting himself in hot water! The news flow dies down. No wonder the MSM is up in arms.

These Are the Technology Firms Lining Up to Build Trump’s “Extreme Vetting” Program Intercept

Why Tax Reform Is So Fiendishly Difficult Bloomberg. As we’ve said, every loophole has a constituency.

The Congressional Map Has A Record-Setting Bias Against Democrats FiveThirtyEight (furzy)

Sanders ‘litmus test’ alarms Democrats Politico. Important. Lambert: “Good. They ought to be alarmed. More like this, please.”

De Blasio Proposes Tax on Wealthy to Fix New York City’s Crumbling Subways Bloomberg (furzy)

As Congress tries to criminalize BDS, the Democratic Socialists of America endorse it Intercept

I know this is supposed to be a family blog, but given that we are having a transgressive post, I thought I might as well cheer you up. Even though this photo might have been staged (as in the poster removed before sunrise; the reflection at the top is such a good touch that I doubt this was Photoshopped). a reader reports that this type of poster is popping up all over San Francisco:

Millennials Are Killing the Oil Industry In These Times. UserFriendly incurred great personal cost, as a chemical engineer who graduated IIRC in 2009 in not taking a job in the petroleum biz when there were pretty much no other jobs for someone with his education on offer. However, if young Americans continue to shun oil companies, they will lobby to. bring in foreign workers.

Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S. New York Times

New McCarthyism

Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount WSWS. Google is explicitly censoring non-MSM views:

In a set of guidelines issued to Google evaluators in March, the company instructed its search evaluators to flag pages returning “conspiracy theories” or “upsetting” content unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”

We also had our WordPress guru dig up our Google stats over time. Confusingly the WordPress analytics tools says we only get 3% of our traffic from search (of all types) while Google Analytics says it’s over 30%, which is down from over 50% in 2014 before the Panda change but still higher than I expect, given that we just about never appear on the first page of searches and 99% of the click-throughs are on first page results. But maybe that many people are searching for “naked capitalism”. We’ve seen a steady decay since the Panda algo change (meaning in addition to the dramatic drop we saw at the time) in search traffic v. “organic” traffic. We need to do more granular work on 2017. Referrals from Google have fallen since April but I don’t yet have it as a percentage of overall traffic to see if the fall was merely seasonal or whether the slide in Google’s contribution to our overall traffic levels has accelerated. We also understand why the WP reports are so different before we can say much more.

U.S. Credit-Card Debt Surpasses Record Set at Brink of Crisis Bloomberg (David L)

Tracking the Amazing Junk Bond Bubbles in the US and Europe Michael Shedlock (EM)

Behind the Push to Keep Higher-Priced EpiPen in Consumers’ Hands Wall Street Journal

Median Price-to-Revenue Ratio Higher in All Deciles vs 2007, 90% vs Dot-Com Bubble: THE Choice Michael Shedlock (EM)

Uber Chairman Says Travis Kalanick Won’t Return as CEO Wall Street Journal. Note that Uber should not feel the need to say this sort of thing during a CEO search…

Here Are All the Signs Investors Are Growing More Worried About Retail Bloomberg

Guillotine Watch

America’s most expensive home hits the market in Bel-Air at $350 million Los Angeles Times

Class Warfare

How Society Creates Ability Ian Welsh (martha r)

Whatever Became of the CCF’s Dream? The Bullet (Sid S). CCF = “The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded in 1932 in Calgary, uniting various working class labour and socialist parties with populist farm organizations.”

Fight over right to sue nursing homes heats up MSN (Kevin C)

Shown the Door, Older Workers Find Bias Hard to Prove DealBook

Google engineer says he has been sacked over controversial gender memo Financial Times. Appalling that Google didn’t rebut the engineer’s claim. Too late at night for me to track it down but Slashdot reported on a study where code samples by men and women were graded, both anonymously and with names attached. The women’s code was graded higher than men’s on average when the grading was gender blind and markedly lower than men’s with the gender identified. This is consistent with results in many other settings, such as grading of identical writing samples when attributed to a man versus a woman, and the famous example of how German orchestras went from being almost an exclusive male enclave to having women selected as often as men when auditions were on a blind basis.

As Downtown Detroit Gentrifies, Longtime Black Residents Fight Illegal Tax Foreclosures Democracy Now!

Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street San Francisco Chronicle (Glenn F, Bill C, MF)

Antidote du jour. Stephen L: “Bald eagle, Ladner, BC.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. financial matters

    Russia, Indonesia to Avoid Dollar in Su-35 Sale
    Indonesia offers to transfer billions worth of coffee, tea, and palm oil instead

    “”Indonesia says it will barter coffee, palm oil and other commodities for Russian fighter jets, calling US and European sanctions against Russia an opportunity to boost trade.””

    Why even mention the dollar? Are they still using it as a ‘money of account’?

    A ‘money of account’ basically means that money is accepted within a given area that also has the power to tax in that area. Barter often seems to rely on some background ‘money of account’ which is used to value various items.

    1. johnnygl

      If you don’t use dollars, you can avoid us govt sanctions and even the SWIFT system to move money around.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, the issue is not dollars, it’s using bank clearing systems.

        And Marc Rich, and later Glencore, along with Adnan Kashoggi, used to do this sort of thing all the time. This isn’t actually that unusual in the world of arms dealing, except 1. It’s state to state, as opposed to “state to some guy running a huge number of mercenaries” and 2. That it’s public information.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Jeenus! BARTER for war toys?

      I recall families and church groups running bake sales to buy body armor for “the troops” back in the days of Shock’n’Aweshucks, and then shipping the jackets to Iraq and Notagain?istan, where the Troops were told they could not wear it because it was not “issue gear.” If course this little point skips right past the truth that there was no good reason for said Troops to “be in harm’s way” in the first instance… The Pentagram originally either humorously or from tone- deafness called that idiocy “Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL, for the acronym-impaired)… quick universal rename to “Operation Iraqi Freedom…”

      Wonder whose “efficiency rating” took the hit for the initial nomenclature…

    3. bronco

      I think in the 60’s when the cost of Cold war US troops being stationed overseas got out of control , the US Military forced some foreign countries to offset funds owed by purchasing armaments. Britain and Germany were 2 countries involved as I recall. Those countries were then offsetting that by funneling their own equipment to 3rd world countries

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Pentagon pays $4.5 *billion* per year just for air conditioning on The Empire’s bases… maybe they could extract 90,000,000 barrels of local oil as tribute and barter that to pay the bill?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The telling of a story of some people avoiding the dollar necessitates the mentioning that it is the dollar that is being avoided.

      Maybe one day, the money of account is the RMB, with the US pegging her currency to it. Then, it’s not ‘printing money at will’ here anymore.

      1. financial matters

        Yes. Printing works to employ labor in its currency space but runs into problems outside that space.

        The resultant currency exchange has become a quagmire of speculation and power politics.

        Using the USD as a ‘money of account’ without actually using it ‘for real’ is an interesting idea. It’s all electrons anyway.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          See my comment above. It’s not the use of the currency. It’s that all dollar transactions clear through facilities ultimately backstopped by the Fed. Banks would never be able to run the ginormous exposures they have to each other during the day if they didn’t have a banker’s bank backstopping the system to assure everything would be squared up every day at the end of the day.

          Having access to dollar clearing systems means having a US banking license. The most common approach for foreign banks is a New York branch. That in turn means the relevant regulator can yank the banking license at any time. New York’s Ben Lawsky threatened to do that, explicitly, for repeatedly violating sanctions v. Iran and others (with Iran, it was facilitating government oil trading) and doctoring its records to cover up what it was doing.

          Any bank that is an international bank has to have its own dollar clearing facilities. Going through correspondents is pricey and cumbersome. Telling a bank it could not clear dollars would be a huge blow to its business, potentially a fatal one.

    5. Jess

      While avoiding the dollar as the medium of exchange for this transcation is quite significant, let’s not forget that they’re buying Su-35’s. That’s the warplane with the number 35 that actually [family blogging] works. I have three friends, two former Navy Top Gun guys from the Vietnam era and a former Air Force F-16 driver. All of them were flat out scared to death of ever coming up against the old Su-27 in an equal numbers combat scenario. They also say that the Su-35 makes the old 27 look like a Sopwith Camel.

  2. allan

    Military can destroy drones over domestic U.S. bases: Pentagon [Reuters]

    The Pentagon has given more than 130 U.S. military bases across the United States the green light to shoot down private and commercial drones that could endanger aviation safety or pose other threats. …

    While the specific actions that the U.S. military can take against drones are classified, they include destroying or seizing private and commercial drones that pose a threat, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday. …

    Other threats … include … We can’t tell you … for your own good.

    How long before this is extended to drones over “critical national infrastructure”,
    including controversial projects under construction
    or law enforcement deployed with DOD supplied hardware?

    America, 2017: Privatize the profits, socialize the costs, secretize the law, militarize The Homeland.

  3. Dita

    Re: Why Facebook Should Pay Us … This is quite similar to Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns The Future I think. At the time, back in 2013, Lanier’s prescription was excoriated, so it’s heartening to see the ideas gaining some mainstream support.

    1. Christopher Fay

      Jaron Lanier the hairy one was featured in Wired once or twice, plays 20 instruments, whatever he does fuggit about it. Amazon is a branch of the Pentagon, MIC, or the other way around; and Google is supportive of Hillary and the DNC and it’s reciprocated. Zook, Sook, Zuck? is showing tendencies to merge the big data with big central committee of the DNC.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Customers sued Walgreens successfully in CA for compensation for Walgreens’ sale of their medical information. So there’s precedent:

      And how about the uppity customers suing Walgreens for insults that Walgreens inserted onto their medical records?

      I imagine Walgreens executives are shouting “This has to stop!”, meaning their lobbyists need to get the law changed to bar such suits, a la class action and shareholder-derivative “reforms…”

    3. DJG

      Thanks for the reminder, Dita. Both of Jaron Lanier’s books are worth reading, especially for the proposals of payment to the user for collecting his/her data. You Are Not a Gadget. (A good analysis of the wrongheadedness of the Silicon Valley types.) Who Owns the Future.

      He also has a lot of sharp words for how absurd EULA agreements and licensing arrangements with the end user are.

    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      Wish I could read this article but I can no longer get around the paywall by googling headline, even in an incognito tab

  4. bwilli123

    …” the famous example of how German orchestras went from being almost an exclusive male enclave to having women selected as often as men when auditions were on a blind basis.”
    I’ve read elsewhere that other orchestras (and musical auditions) are successfully employing the same blind testing process. It would be interesting were the Tech companies (being as progressive as they claim to be) to introduce the same.
    Just the sort of disruption to established procedures (ie, removing the human element from evaluation) that is supposedly their forte. I wonder why they still cling to traditional techniques?

    1. DH

      I read through the Google engineer’s memo, and the response from Google.

      A basic question I had about the Google engineer’s memo is that he attributed lots of things to “biology”. However, many of the things he attributed to biology are also easily explained by social norms and conditioning, which is often very different for girls and boys as they are being raised. Yes, men do have much more testosterone, but I have never seen any evidence that testosterone has much to do with mathematical or coding skills.

      It is pretty well known that the brain is still developing a lot of interconnections through the mid-20s. the relative youth of many of Google and other tech workers means that many of them are either still in these formative stages or were recently. What these interconnections related to risk-taking etc. become is as much due to life experiences and social interactions as biology. There is a real reason that auto insurance companies charge males under 25 more money for the same insurance coverage . However, I don’t think that the skill sets required to have higher insurance rates are the same skill sets that enable better coding, interpersonal relationships, or managerial skills.

      So I am very cautious about attributing just about anything other than the ability to get pregnant or to lift big weights to “biology.” The military is starting to struggle with this as they are trying to set actual physical norms related to actual combat situations (carrying ammunition loads over obstacles etc.) where it is clear that far fewer women will qualify than men due to basic physical strength capabilities, but it is also clear that some women will be physically qualified while some men will not, even for many of the toughest jobs. The averages may be shifted in some areas in the services industry due to “biology” but there is such a large standard deviation, that the averages are meaningless when assessing an individual..

  5. Emorej a Hong Kong

    In contrast with the decades old litmus test “don’t piss in our cash flow”, Medicare for All is the right litmus test at the right time. These two litmus tests are on a collision course, with the momentum of public opinion on Bernie’s side.

    Ironic consequence of Republicans not declaring Heritage-Romney-ObamaCare to be their victory (after demanding a few Lefty amendments be replaced with Righty amendments).

    1. oh

      I wonder what would prevent candidates in the primary who promise to vote for Medicare for all and then reneging on their promise once elected? (Just like a recent President we all know). We need a resignation letter from them before they run.

  6. flora

    Here’s a too longish comment on the google algo change….

    2 events and lots of questions.

    Assume for the sake of argument Google’s algorithm change is all about money.

    Google’s algo change -“Fred” – rolled out in early March.

    From ‘Search Engine Roundtable’ (informed speculation from a Google friendly site):

    “The Google Fred Update which we first spotted rolling out early morning on March 8th seems to be fairly big. After reviewing well over 70 sites that were hit by this update, 95% of them share two things in common. The sites all seem content driven, either blog formats or other content like sites and they all are pretty heavy on their ad placement.(1) In fact, if I dare say, it looks like many (not all but many) of them were created with the sole purpose of generating AdSense or other ad income without necessarily benefiting the user.(2)

    “The sites that got hit also saw 50% or higher drops in Google organic traffic overnight. I had them almost all of them share analytics screen shots with me to prove it. So this was a huge drop, in some cases up to 90% of their traffic was gone over night.”

    This raises some questions.

    1. Blogs and web news sites are generally content driven. Ads support small websites in the same way ads support MSM. Why discriminate against small content sites that use ads but not against MSM sites that use ads?

    2. How does the author determine a site was created solely for ad generation? How does the author determine what is of benefit to a user? E.g. NC is very beneficial to people interested in finance and economics. NC is content driven. NC’s content includes links. NC is supported by ad revenue. NC has been whacked by the algo change. (If this is an example of Google AI it’s not surprising they got the Clinton campaign wrong.

    A second event in mid March was ISP’s getting the OK to sell browsing info.

    From ‘Krebs On Security’:

    “On Tuesday, the House approved a Senate resolution to roll back data privacy regulations enacted late last year at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would block ISPs from selling to advertisers information about where you go and what you do online. President Trump has signaled his intent to sign the bill (S.J. Res. 34) into law soon.

    “The FCC rules hadn’t yet gone into effect, and traditional broadband providers successfully made the case to lawmakers that the new rules put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis purely Web-based rivals such as Facebook and Google. “ (my emphasis)

    Google and FB now have potential new competitors in the browser history/advertising data market. AT&T and TimeWarner are formidable companies.

    Did Google make the decision to drive traffic to MSM and online shopping sites to make its search data look like “richer fields” to advertisers than the newly marketable ISP browser data? Is this about keeping market dominance?

    This is a guess. As always, correlation is not causation.

    What is true is no company – not Google, not FaceBook – should have the power to crush small sites and businesses with little explanation using faulty criteria, with no recourse.

    “So this was a huge drop, in some cases up to 90% of their traffic was gone over night.”
    – Search Engine Roundtable

    1. Marbles

      Google discriminates based on page authority and unique content.

      NC isn’t SEO optimized (thankfully)
      – Same topics as big media – so Deal Book is more likely to rank higher than any given blog.

      – Republished content – If enough of the text exists elsewhere, Google will rank the “original” higher, and demote the “copycat”

      – vast majority of NC Blog post titles are long tail searches at best. Exact match keyword blog titles would be very strange to read, but also hard to write.

      – Most of the blog posts are not evergreen, they’re timely. Because this is primarily a news and analysis site. The Google algorithm likes a Wikipedia style blog post.

      This has been the case since the inception of the blog.

      If Yves wanted to rank for some topic, 3,000 words on a low search volume topic + links from notable websites would eventually put that particular topic on the first page. Enough of these, and overtime NC could beat a lot of the big guys. But given that the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, and The Financial Times – NC is out gunned. Finance and staff, (but not wit!)

      Imo, The bulk of NC traffic should be long tail searches anyway. If I type in capitalism, I should get Wikipedia or some university as my first page of results.

      If there has been an overall loss in traffic (and thus as ad revenue), I’m wondering if non centrist sites are being manually targeted. Also they could analyze the incoming and outgoing link profile. If Breibart and Jacobin are on a list someplace, linking to them it getting links from them (known quantities) could reveal a political bias.

      Also machine learning gets better and better. It’s easy to imagine latent dirichlet allocation program that can discover political speech. That would be trivial for the data scientists at Google. The real problem is them deciding to point the algorithm cannon in that direction.

      But assuming the best…

      Sites in similar situations tend to
      – buy ads
      – focus on social media content build out
      – buy ads on social media
      – more original content

      If it were my site I’d double down on the 2008 world financial crisis, and make one article the center piece. (Summarize the book into 10,000 words? Crazy, I know) From there, shop the piece to the usual and unusual suspects. Get links, profit from organic search and fellow travelers.

      That’s the way Google has rewarded/ranked sites for the past few years.

      If it’s not that, we are all in trouble

    2. flora

      adding : the above does not mean Google couldn’t also blacklist sites for progressive or left leaning content. No independent analyst has seen the algo.

      1. flora

        It looks like “Fred” is ranking sites by optimization for mobile device use, among other changes. If G can make algo ranking changes without telling the webmaster community what they are based on driving everyone nuts trying to figure it out and comply, well no wonder its search results are getting worse all the time.

        There’s still the possibility this algo design also results in a preference for MSM sites and demotes progressive sites.

        No wonder I stopped using G for general searches. I have several search engines I use, very seldom use G anymore.

  7. DanB

    Re: “How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy.” The psychologist who conducted this research was interviewed on PBS’ NewsHour last night. Of interest to me was her contention that the economy has improved in the past few years. Therefore, she asserted, various types of psychological distress and asocial behaviors could be -causally- attributed to the overuse of smartphones, not to the state of the economy. I am a college professor who teaches sociology and, as most NC readers know, the state of the economy, especially our discussions of debt and job prospects, is foremost in the minds of my students. This is not to say smartphones are unimportant as a factor in shaping identity and, overall, distorting human relationships. But the obtuseness of this psychologist to the effects of the larger political/economy was illustrative of what sociologists call the unexamined taken-for-granted view of the world, in this case the unstated premise that since “the economy” has “rebounded” it must be irrelevant to this discussion of the effects of extended use of smartphones.

    1. Jef

      Her position that the economy has improved in the past few years is what got her noticed, published and invited on NPR.

    2. Lee

      Saw the same. There were so many qualifiers and confounding factors glossed over that I remained unconvinced even though I am biased, based on casual observation, in favor of her basic contention. As a side note: I strongly believe that people who text and drive should have their thumbs amputated.

      1. polecat

        ‘thumbs amputated’ …
        Bad idea … just watch them clutch a steering wheel then !! Yikes !

      2. Jake Mudrosti

        so many qualifiers and confounding factors glossed over

        Right, it’s not really psychology research if there’s no actual research “legwork” behind the claims.

        The term “iGen” simply becomes the modern equivalent of “mal aria” — a term that’s associated with causes and effects but which doesn’t actually illuminate those causes and effects.

        This is unfortunate, since the underlying problems are all too real. Through my work as a volunteer advisor for education research at a different university’s psychology department, I’ve had a front row seat witnessing shifts in U.S. student attention and cognition from 2009 to the present.

        If cellphones turn out to be a factor in these declines, it would likely be related to the “mental habit” of tuning out the external world as a distraction — and instead living entirely in one’s own head. Such living conditions are already known to cause cognitive declines in neglected youths and prisoners.

        Separate from that, there’s the 1990s social/economic history in Russia, which establishes how quickly mental health trends can shift across a country’s whole population.

        Interplay between all these causes and effects would require actual psychology research — the absence of which is thrown into sharper relief every time a journalist repeats the term “iGen.” The NC links have been very useful at documenting the spread of this.

    3. RUKidding

      I heard the overview of this sometime on Sunday while house cleaning. My first thought was that the case made was highly over-simplified. Yes, probably over-use of smartphones is a contributing factor to child/teen “unhappiness.” Sure. They’re mainly only interacting with everyone, including their peers, via a screen.

      But the overview I heard on Sunday said nothing about the economy, nothing about other factors in children’s lives, such as the degradation of our public/private educational system and other societal factors. Appeared that the research/study mainly only focused on smartphone use. Possibly that’s incorrect, and the research was more detailed and broadly based to account for numerous factors. If so, that wasn’t apparant from what I heard.

      If not, then the research is flawed, imo. Too simplistic and narrowly focused.

    4. Knifecatcher

      I believe strongly that smartphones / social networks have a negative effect on the mental health of teens, regardless of social status or economic security. My anecdotal evidence involves my own two girls, who seemingly have everything going for them but suffer from crippling social anxiety. Not coincidentally, they’re plugged into a smartphone close to 24/7.

      “So be a parent!” I hear you say. “Take away their phones and make them experience the real world!” I’d love to, and I do when I can, but while I’m away at work (I’m the sole breadwinner) my wife is in charge of discipline – and she’s also hopelessly Facebook / smartphone addicted. Limiting the kids’ screen time would mean limiting her screen time, and she’s made it clear that’s na. ga. happen.

      1. polecat

        Well, if a EMP get lobbed over the continental U.S., either by little Kim, or via sp’00’k false-flag (shifts super-super heavy mil foil helmet upon bumpy cranium), then it’s all good, as what’s old ( actually living, not constantly cruising the ether) is new again … either that, or it’s ‘wild in the streets’ !! … oh wait, that’s a redundancy, as in young folk were, within recent memory, both living real moments and, congruently, generally being wild in the streets !!

        1. Bill Smith

          No EMP out of those little nukes he is supposed to have at this point. Next year? Maybe?

      2. a different chris

        Weird though, isn’t it? The big thing that we’ve talked about, for decades, when it comes to teenage girls, is body shame. Nobody looks like, uh, well Cindy Crawford (ok now I’m dating myself) but that’s hard to deal with.

        Now they are on their smartphone, their figures aren’t even visible. Just a face.

        So you may have to dig further into your anecdote.

        1. reslez

          > Now they are on their smartphone, their figures aren’t even visible. Just a face.

          Um, I guess you haven’t seen some of these instagram / snapchat feeds…

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      My nieces play sports and musical instruments. The comment from my sister in law on the article this therapist wrote for the Atlantic:

      This is spot on. Whenever, they aren’t busy and are spending more time on their phones, you can see them change. I have had moments where I thought Katie might be depressed and these where times when she wasn’t busy at school and she was spending a lot of time on her phone.

    6. flora

      Smartphone apps are designed to be addictive. The more time online, the more money vendors make. Kids have even fewer mental defenses against these apps addictive properties. Depressing to feel hopelessly attracted to a thing, to feel no control over the attraction. Kids are too young to understand what is happening. And I’ve seen it happen to adults. One reason I don’t own a Smartphone is because I’m not sure I could resist the apps careful programming to keep me looking at the phone.

      ‘Smart Phone Addiction is Part of the Design.’ – der Speigel online

      “The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices? One major reason why is the number one psychological ingredient in slot machines: intermittent variable rewards.

      “If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable.

      “Does this effect really work on people? Yes. Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. ”

  8. FreeMarketApologist

    Re CLEAR: “Normalizing handing over biometric data…”

    Normalizing the handover of biometric data and you PAY to do so. ($15/mo, billed annually). Ostensibly the “service” you’re paying for is faster processing through the ID check part of TSA lines.

    Further reading shows that they’re targeting stadiums and arena as future customers: “Unlock biometric access for payment and age validation with the tap of a finger.” and “Control access permissions for your fans and employees. Give VIP fans access to suites, exclusive areas of the park, and more.” Because who wouldn’t give up their biometric data to speed purchase of a hot dog?

    The “ka-ching” link is found in their CAO’s bio: “Prior to joining the private sector, David [Cohen] served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Customs Service Commissioners Ray Kelly and Robert Bonner, and Acting Commissioner Charles Winwood.” and “Before Customs, David was a member of the professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, focused on oversight and investigations.”

    The founder’s (Caryn Seidman-Becker and Ken Cornick] hedge fund, Arience Capital, was shut down in 2008.

  9. RenoDino

    Let’s try and understand North Korea’s actions: it sees the world as its enemy Oxford Research

    No, N. Korea sees the United States as its enemy. The rest of world not so much.

    Articles like this want to blame N. Korea’s behavior on paranoia and fear stemming from the Korea War and a struggle for its survival. That’s certainly a big part of it, but never mentioned is N. Korea’s ultimate goal to unite the Korean peninsula under Kim’s rule. Seen in this light, all those concessions this article recommends, like letting Kim keep his nukes, are ridiculous.

    The United Nation’s sanctions resolution must have come about in response to some United States ultimatum to attack on some date certain. China and Russia are just buying time for Kim to beef up is arsenal making a U.S strike less likely. When Kim can take out three big west coast cities, the odds we will attack go way down.

    Kim will ultimately demand we leave the peninsula or else.

    1. bronco

      Didn’t the US kill about 25% of the population of North Korea via aerial bombing once upon a time ?

      Kinda hard to forget that if you live there

      1. Bill Smith

        Actually having traveled in a number of Asian counties it doesn’t seem that hard to forget. For example, in Vietnam a huge percentage of the population was born after the Vietnam War (War of American Aggression) and they are quite friendly to US travelers.

        One would think given the Korean War ended a generation and a half earlier more people in North Korea would have gotten over it. However if you have a State setup to not let you get over it, it’s much tougher.

        1. witters

          Sage refections Bill. I’ll add this for you: “One would think given the Cold War ended a generation earlier more people in the United States would have gotten over it.”

        2. wilroncanada

          The US has not forgotten the Vietnam invasion, but since most of the current Vietnamese are too young to remember then that’s OK, I guess, even though most of them probably had at least some ancestors killed, if not by actual bombing, then by the leftover poisoning of the air, land and water.
          In the case of Korea, the US is still officially at war ( I realize that, as in Afghanistan, they browbeat the UN and a bunch of colonies to join with them.). They did not allow an election when the fighting temporarily ceased because they thought, probably rightly, Kim’s family, who were the leaders of the North, and who had fought against the Japanese invaders while the leaders of the South had sided with Japan, would win. The North was, at the time, the developed part of the peninsula, which is why the Allied death dealers carpet bombed it.
          Any of this sound familiar? Yep, stir and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Kim (aka 1dumbsun) has no interest in america leaving the peninsula and would put a gun to his mouth if trump unilaterally removed all american troops from korea…

      fearless leader needs big bad enemy to justify his pillage and rape of his peoples right to live free…

      Fidel and raul played that game perfectly…

      it is the famous…”them over there…over that hill” that has been used by despots and witch doctors for 2 million sunsets…

      Just as the sauds and other fabricated kings in mena need to make sure the Israeli occupation and sharecropping of Palestinian goatherders never ends…

      Menakings: “You ask about freedom do ya…hey look over there…bobo frikynyahoo shot another grandmother…(make note…transfer another million to bermuda reinsurance cutout)”

      same old same old

      1. RenoDino

        Not the same old game.

        Kim wants to reunite the peninsula under his rule. Is he rational? No.
        Is is possible? Yes. He has the backing of Russia and China who both border N. Korea and don’t want a U.S. client state on their borders in the form of S. Korea. They have probably already supplied him with with all the ICBM missiles and miniaturized nike warhead he needs to back up his demands.

        I’ll grant you that Castro also played a not so similar game as well leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost ended the world as we know it.

        This one has the potential to do the same. This is not a diversion maneuver to suppress the masses. This is the world’s great powers squaring off for the final showdown.

        1. alex morfesis

          1dumbsun knows not to trust his troops since he has never “shown off” their great capacities by allowing them to be involved in foreign adventures, unlike raul and fidel who at least helped an american company protect its own oil fields in angola…then again they were dealing with the black version of a woody allen revolutionary so it was not exactly a difficult task…

          1dumbsun can not even trust those around him as he has had to off his family to keep comfortably in power…

          as to the russians and chinese giving him anything that actually works verses some duds…its not exactly possible to “test” one of those…if it was handed to you…

          1dumbsun projects himself (if he really does believe it) as an ancient korean demigod and imagines southern china and port arthur/lushunkou/dalian along with vladivostok as ancient korean territory…

          the russians and chinese are probably acutely aware of that mindset…and would not give him anything functional…mayhaps as stalin did with the spaniard republicans, taking gold and delivering duds while having allowed the german luftwaffe to train on russian soil…

          1dumbsun has no vivid imagination…he would rather be top dog in a slave camp nation than deal with integrating southern koreans into his little fembot zombies…

          life is good for 1dumbsun…why be burdened with actually fighting a war…

          are these interesting times ??

          more worried about china and india scuffling and the pakistani military imagining it can take kashmir while india is preoccupied…

          and as you hopefully recall, while we were counting the days in october 1962, china and india were fighting over that same territory…at the exact same time…and nixon lost and we were told we would not have him to kick around anymore…with eleanor roosevelt passing away that night…and the UN getting ready to force Katanga (and its yellow cake) back into the Congo…while deGaul pardoned General Jouhaud who along with Salan had made their move on Algeria at exactly the same time Frank Sturgis was putting the flares in the wrong spot, magically getting the cuban coffee stuck on the supply ship on the only sand bar in the entry to the bay of pigs…one year later, friends of Salan and Jouhaud would be loitering in dallas…

          yeah yeah,,,coincidences all…you keep disney, I’ll take hanna-barbera…

    3. MDBill

      According to area scholar Bruce Cumings, there’s considerable historical animosity too between North and South Korea, rooted in the period around World War II. Those Koreans who had supported Japan in Manchuria during the war achieved power in the South. Those who had supported Mao and his forces came to power in the North. And they did not like one another much at all.

      See, for example,

      1. a different chris

        Which supports my first reaction to RenoDino’s post:

        “N. Korea’s ultimate goal to unite the Korean peninsula under Kim’s rule. ” should be changed to “Kim’s ultimate goal to unite the Korean peninsula under Kim’s rule.”

        North Koreans probably want to unite with S. Korea about as much as people from Alabama wish they and New York City would become closely attached. And how does Kim take over South Korea? Seriously.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think Kim would say, “I just want all Koreans to get along. Keep the noise level down. Don’t protest. Under me, all is peace and quiet.”

        2. ewmayer

          Your trivializing AL/NY analogy is deeply flawed – it ignores the physiogeographical and cultural closeness of what is now the 2 Koreas and the sheer number of families separated as a result of the partition. Longterm historical-cultural and family unity is a huge part of Korean identity. Despite the enormous economic cost it would incur, I strongly suspect a large majority of Koreans would support reunification if it could be done on peaceful, democractic terms. Cold war Germany is a much better analogy.

          1. Anonymized

            Actually, I don’t think the average North or South Korean looks forward to reunification. The South will see its economy destroyed by Norks undercutting the barely scraping-by precariat of the young and old, and the Northerners can look forward to jobs as prostitutes and slave labour for rich Southerners (and southern criminals and carpet baggers coming north to loot their country). The cultural differences are also quite large at this point, as its been nearly 70 years since they last lived together – just look at North Korean refugee accounts of living in the South.

            I also think a lot of articles miss the fact that China doesn’t actually have a lot of pull in North Korea. The ruling elite base their legitimacy on resisting foreigners and the Northerners consider it humiliating to accept aid from a people they consider beneath them (even South Koreans look down on Chinese). Any attempt by China to impose conditions would be severely opposed. North Koreans consider themselves the true successor to the historical Joseon empire – even their name for their country is Joseon – and see their culture and bloodline as the only pure example of Han (Korean) identity. As to where this attitude came from, it’s a twisted descendant of Japanese fascism, as outlined in the great book The Cleanest Race by B.R. Myers (

  10. Better for you than for me

    “Someone bought their street”

    Beautiful story! As always privatization is always great as long as it inflicts its consequences on the poor but when the rich are on the receiving end, then it is a scandal.

    1. Vatch

      This is one of those news stories that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! I hope the next feel-good story about San Francisco will be about the indictment of senior Wells Fargo executives.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope I’m wrong, but it reads like a story of some people, maybe a couple, wanting to be in the 1%, themselves.

      Ultimately, or subconsciously, it’s another Horatio Alger story of working hard (studiously going over trust deed sales) so you can be in the 1%.

      1. Massinissa

        The sad thing is that what that couple is doing, even if it benefits them, contributes no value at all to society, the neighborhood, or even the nebulous modern ‘economy’. Something is wrong with wealth accumulation as a principal motivator for society if it can be done in such obviously anti-societal ways.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Never thought I’d tip my hat to speculators, but to you Mrs Lam and Mr Cheng, I say:


  11. Darius

    I Googled calpers and private equity. An NC article from April 17 came up on the second page, behind WSJ, Barron’s, I think IBD, and several other publications I didn’t know were leaders on this story. Also, why that one article? I know nothing about the algorithm. Maybe it’s normal.

    1. flora

      I just used an EU based search engine to search ‘Calpers Private Equity’. The first page of results included 2 links to NC and 1 link to Correntwire (Lambert’s blog). So the Google algo results – whatever it is and however it has recently changed – shouldn’t be seen as authoritative. It only seems authoritive with regard to Google itself. That can change depending on the country you search from (as determined by ip#’s) or Google deciding to change its algo for unknown reasons. imo.

      1. flora

        This same EU based search results on page 1 include links to Pionline, Calpers, Businessweek, Fortune and Pension Pulse.

        On page 2 are DealBook, NYTimes, LATimes, FT, NC, and Reuters.

        Big US MSM sites aren’t priviledged in the results over over smaller but more focused sites. imo.

        Compared to the EU site, Google seems to be putting its thumb on the scale in weighing search results.

  12. ocop

    Re: Google Employee

    I’d suggest reading the letter, it’s quite non-offensive (if poorly conceived). The reaction to it has been leagues more frightening than anything he wrote.

    A couple of core points:
    (1) He was not making a biology-based distribution of abilities argument, but was much more focused on a biology-based distribution of interests. Scott Alexander at SSC has a very thoughtful discussion of the literature on gender differences, suggesting that could well be part of the explanation.

    (2) More or less argued that the internal culture at google was hostile to opposing viewpoints (he was right)

    (3) He went out of his way to suggest a set of policy alternatives

    I think anyone circulating that notable of a criticism of his employers should expect to be canned, but its the rhetoric surrounding it that’s bizarre. “employees afraid to express themselves”, “misogyny”, etc, etc. He may be conflating some social and biological factors related to status-seeking and anxiety (Ian’s article in the Links is a good reminder), but that’s a subject that can be engaged on, not silenced as being “dangerous”.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Yea, I read his “letter”. I think you should reread it. I found it quite offensive and full of old worn out stereotypes. I heard the same thing back in 1994 when I had to attend a lecture about why women can’t be engineers (BTW, I have a MS in Engineering- how’d that happen?)…….that old “we just don’t have the right psychological makeup”, yada, yada, yada…..

      You can make all the apologies for this man you want – and you can quote any “expert” you want on “gender differences” ( “experts” are a dime a dozen, and oddly enough, but I can quote you experts who say your experts are dead wrong), but it all goes back to the same kind of thinking held in the South about why educating blacks was useless too…..because you know, it wasn’t that they were dumb people, it was just that they were different and couldn’t do the thinking whites could do…..

      Just because you think it was well written in “nice terms” doesn’t mean that it isn’t more of the same old, same old misanthropy for certain segments of our population that we’ve been fighting off for years ……

      Also loved it that he whines about Google needing to “stop alienating conservatives (like him)” because it’s bad for business because “conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness”……..yea…..

        1. reslez

          There’s no free speech at work. Unless he was under contract Google can fire him for any reason it wants, which includes spouting off unpopular or bigoted opinions or hurting Google’s feelings. Maybe he makes up for it in other ways, but knowing nothing else about that guy I wouldn’t want him on my team. Can you imagine assigning a female engineer to work with him? No thanks. He’s not a special snowflake who gets to escape the consequences of his actions. He knew what he was doing when he wrote the damn thing.

      1. Plenue

        The guy is a dipshit, no doubt. As someone pointed out on Twitter (, the guy isn’t actually calling for a debate. He’s unilaterally declaring that women are shit and need to get out of his workplace.

        But by the same token, I’ll say Google just outright firing the guy for voicing an ‘unacceptable’ opinion isn’t really right either. Moon of Alabama of all places has a post about this (why is b wasting his time on this? The fall of Al-Sukhnah and other recent events in Syria are of much more importance, and the type of thing he usually covers), and that part is about the only thing from the MoA post I agree with.

        1. Tom

          Please point me to the line in the letter in which the Harvard Biology PhD “unilaterally declared that women are shit”. It’s hilarious how mad and wrong you are.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I read the letter as someone wanting Google to shift more to a right-wing conservative stance by being more accepting of those attitudes, hence the drive-by verbal shooting at women in computing. If they fired his a** it is hard to criticize them here. An equivalent would be someone working at the National Rifle Association writing an open letter saying that the organization should work hard at gun control!
      This all tends to reek of a Bro Culture that seems rampant in the US, particularly Silicon Valley but perhaps some of these geniuses might bone up on some history to realize the fact that women were at the forefront of computing ( and that today’s situation is an aberration, not a norm. Good thing that he never came up against the late Admiral Grace Hopper!
      Ignoring a computer programmer because of gender is depriving yourself some of the most talented people out there. Would it be more clearer if the author of that letter said that blacks should not be accommodated because everybody knows that they have not much talent with technical matters? Or Jews? Or Hispanics? Or gays? All have happened in the past or are still happening. Its the talent that you should pay the big bucks to – not the outer package.

    3. Ranger Rick

      Google did the worst possible thing a company could have done in this situation: they made a martyr out of him. There is nothing they can do now that will fix the damage to their reputation that this event and their reaction to it has caused.

      1. reslez

        Google did the only thing possible for it to do, which was show him the door. He was already guaranteed to be a popular guest on all sorts of alt-right Youtube shows, it’s just that now he’s a popular guest who can’t say he works at Google.

        Imagine if this person had written the same thing about Blacks or Native Americans, now try assigning him to work with people of those categories. Google is simply an employer with a public image to consider.

      2. JTFaraday

        “There is nothing they can do now that will fix the damage to their reputation that this event and their reaction to it has caused.”

        Something tells me Google will be fine without the MRA nutters, (who fellate each other for a reason).

    4. a different chris

      >He was not making a biology-based distribution of abilities argument, but was much more focused on a biology-based distribution of interests

      And his qualifications to tackle either? None, so I’m not going to waste my time. I can whine about stuff I have no expertise in, too. Nobody will or should listen to it.

      >went out of his way to suggest a set

      Out of his way. Out. Of. His. Way. He has already gone so far afield, publishing a commentary that he had no business writing, but adding some crap at the end was “going out of his way”?? It was all out of his way.

        1. a different chris

          And he cuts code for Google to put bread on the table. Not sure that doesn’t further underline my point.

          And further, you can have a PhD in “biology”, run a freaking lab at an Ivy in “biology”, and… it’s a big, big field. If you did have those type of professional qualifications, you would well know they make this kind of stuff even further out of bounds unless it’s your specialty and you have years of work and many papers to back that up.

          GMO’ing amoebas to deliver, I dunno plastics ain’t the same thing.

          Let alone, returning back, cutting code that has nothing to do with biology at all.

        2. a different chris

          Wait were you talking about the original employee or the SlateStarCodex guy? I was talking about the original employee.

    5. Bill Smith

      I was amused by all the commentators that found the letter offensive and wanted to respond with violence.

      I think a lot of people didn’t read the actual letter but instead read the news articles that said things the author didn’t say and one or two news articles that actually had things in quotes that didn’t appear in the letter.

      1. JBird

        I do not get the fuss, or rather, I do not get the vitriol.

        Yes, it was a tin-eared 10-11 page memo, but the man wasn’t advocating any views resembling the Klu Klux Klan’s. His main point was that Google couldn’t or wouldn’t say what it meant by diversity, and that stating any opinions that was different than “diversity it’s good! rah, rah, rah!” is likely to get a person in trouble, or as the memo’s title said “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” He did use some questionable “facts” to back up his assertions on biological differences, and maybe he should not be working there, but while it might be foolish, stupid, or even just wrong, it is not indicative of hate or even malice.

        I find Google’s, and the wider Liberal responses, counterproductive, especially since the memo ended with

        …which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.

        When I read about Google employees fearing for their safety, or how such “hate” is a problem I wonder if they know what true hate, or violence is. I remember, just barely, seeing news reports of people driving into San Francisco to look for fags to beat-up on. Of hearing people advocating violence on, or at least the of ostracizing, gays openly. Such abuse was a thing. And my parents could talk about seeing real racism, or real sexism. As for myself, being hard of hearing has gotten me some serious ostracizing, even some abuse, and this memo is nothing. Hell, just think about being Black in many parts of America now.

        I get why some people are defensive, and there are some real problems with sexism, and other isms, but there are also very real problems with people attacking free speech from both the left and the right, or of the increasing poverty, or of the homeless, often mentally ill, people I often see, smell, and step over in fabulous San Francisco. I just have to say to the well educated, well paid, privileged tech workers that maybe they should talk to some people outside of their bubble, maybe read some history books, and get over themselves.

        1. reslez

          There’s a big ole difference between suffering violence because of your free speech views — which we can all agree is bad — and suffering negative career consequences because of your free speech views. If you’re going to espouse unpopular or bigoted opinions, negative career consequences go with the territory. Whining about it is what entitled jerks do.

        2. JTFaraday

          Well, I can’t say toxic politically correct environments don’t exist, but if that was really the problem at Google– which I rather doubt, but okay– then he would have written a memo with examples of such witch hunts, much as Susan Fowler documented her sexual harassment at Uber. I’ve been in some of these hyped up environments, and it is possible to give an account of them. People have indeed done this from time to time.

          That’s not what he did. From all anyone can tell, he is the aggressor here, stewing in his own juices.

          As for getting fired, who among us doesn’t have opinions we can’t bring to work? Or anywhere else for that matter? No one gets to spew whatever kind of crap they want in social settings. What does it say about him that he thinks he’s entitled to do so?

          1. JBird

            You both make points and I will say he is not the most aware person to be polite about. I will also say Google is within its rights to fire him and people should feel offended.

            However, I didn’t see anything in his memo that avocated hatred, violence, or even absolute inferiority in anybody. His views would have been radically liberal a century ago and maybe a bit old fashioned forty to fifty years ago.

            Also his thesis that Google is an ideological echo chamber was vindicated. The fact that the company keeps saying that it is all for diversity in safe environment without explaining what they mean except to use diversity in a safe environment as one would use a prayer, or an invocation to ward off evil.

            Acting, believing, that the memo he wrote in a “private” and “internal” forum, and was leaked to the news media, was a full throated shoutout to sexism and mass hatred, makes it much, much harder to change the beliefs of people like him. It’s hard enough to have a conversation over serious, yet sensitive subjects even when you trust others not to abuse your being open on your beliefs.

            Google could have used this as a teachable moment by:

            Apologized for a private memo being leaked,
            Thanked the writer for his honesty and yes courage,
            Explained why he was wrong,
            Given clear explanation on what they mean on safety and diversity and shown by example.
            Inform everyone that despite the effort on diversity its stats matches the industry’s
            Say how they were going to get the company’s reality to match its rhetoric.

            Instead Google:

            Fired the writer.
            Supports informants and distrust.
            Acted as if his words were calls to hate and violence.
            Repeated their safety and diversity mantra.
            Confirmed his thesis.
            Terrified the apparently large percent who agreed with him.
            Confirmed that dissenting views are doubleplus ungood.
            Crippled any attempts to change the beliefs of people like.

          2. gepay

            His firing, in fact, proves one of the points he was trying to make. “This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.” I read the memo. Compare the tone of the memo to the misogyny and sexism of the miners in the movie North Country starring Charlize Theron – the racism of the segregated South of the 50s. There were a number of statements he definitely should have left out even if he thinks they are true. “Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.” or “Women are more prone to stress” (although I would agree with him if he had said – women who are mothers worry more than men) “Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance). This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.” He could have left out his poor analysis of left-right. It is true for me that suffocating and/or just silly political correctness is found more often on the left liberal side. Of many conservatives it can be said, “The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental.” Robert Anton Wilson He did show a bias when discussing the differences between men and women. Maybe because I’m an older white man I didn’t find them so much insulting as wrong enough to not be bothered with. As a small in stature white man should I be bothered that all of the NBA is tall and most of it black males.
            There were other statements that I found correct “men take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.” It is also true that many of the problems that diverse peoples or women have are equally true for many white men not in the upper crust.
            I certainly think he shouldn’t have been fired for bringing up these issues. The differences between men and women as they relate to employment should be considered and studied. I guess we all are aware there are consequences when we say what we really think without considering where we are.

  13. lyman alpha blob

    Here’s one for the guillotine watch – looks like someone is oiling up the machinery although it may be a case of the wealthy cannibalizing each other.

    A SF couple bought a private city street at auction and the well-heeled residents are not happy –

    Emblidge said the residents didn’t know their street was put on the auction block, let alone sold, until May when a title search company hired by Cheng and Lam reached out to ask if any residents had interest in buying back the property.

    That was one of several options Cheng and Lam have considered for making the investment pay off.

    Another option is to charge residents to park on their street — and rent out the 120 parking spaces that line the grand circular road.

    “As legal owners of this property, we have a lot of options,” Cheng said, adding that nothing has been decided.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And now I see you already had a different link to the same story. Enjoyed this bit from that one –

      “I was shocked to learn this could happen, and am deeply troubled that anyone would choose to take advantage of the situation and buy our street and sidewalks,” said one homeowner, who asked not to be named because of pending litigation.

      It would be very interesting to find out who the homeowners are and if any of them got rich through any sort of privatization.

      1. Elizabeth

        At least one homeowner is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (hubby profited massively from post office building sales). Nancy Pelosi used to live on the street, but don’t know if she still does..

  14. DJG

    Sanders’s Litmus Test article is definitely worth your time. The litmus test is single payer. But the underlying story is how the Democratic Party establishment is readying itself to game the single-payer advocates. We all know about how “the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good.” So the party establishment, led in prayer by the newly divine Hillary Clinton (see yesterday’s links and then gouge out your eyeballs), will come up with a new excuse for inaction: What We Need Is Better Skills at Choosing an Emergency Room! Sign Up for the App!

    Single payer isn’t the only defining issue, though, which is what the article gets wrong. The People’s Platform is more wide ranging. In some respects, what single payer now represents is the necessity of breaking the upper middle class and its deathgrip on the economy. What has to happen if we are to have progress in the U S of A is to deal the upper middle class a major defeat (whether they are Ds or Rs). So single payer may not be a litmus test: It may be the battle that redefines alliances.

    But what do I know? I guess that I should go ask Steny Hoyer.

      1. DJG

        The guy in the video is one of the Yes Men. Check the archives here at NC: Yves and Lambert posted about this prank just a couple of days ago–and it turns out that he indeed pranked the meeting.

    1. dbk

      Agreed (the Politico piece is good) and agreed (single payer isn’t the only possible “defining issue”). But the idea of single payer as one litmus test for independent/progressive challengers in state and national elections is valid. It will separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

      I just listened to a new campaign video by Ameya Pawar, one of the Democrats lining up for the gubernatorial primary in Illinois next March. His campaign platform supports single payer (strongly), plus a whole lot more.

      Two observations:
      (1) At one point in the ad, he said “Why not talk about poverty?” Yeah, why not? In fact, that’s another litmus test for candidates willing to campaign for what most Americans want–economic equality, or at least more of it than they’ve seen in a long, long time– economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice …
      (2) One commenter on the post (by capitolfax, Illinois’s minute-to-minute documentation of all-things-political) said he thought it was a mistake for Pawar to campaign downstate–he doesn’t have the money, and probably doesn’t have a lot of draw outside Chicago. I disagree: one thing a genuine progressive has to be able to do is unite people rather than divide them. Poverty is both urban and rural; violence (the subject of the video, more or less) occurs on the South Side, in Danville (location of video) and in East St. Louis. Chicago Public Schools’ problems are replicated in poor school districts all over the state. It’s a strong progressive candidate’s task/mission–Pawar’s or whomever’s–to demonstrate to voters that the issues that matter to them are more vital than those which divide them.

      P.S. Frankly, I didn’t even bother to read the Dems’ Better Deal program. I know it already, and it’s just not good enough.

      1. DJG

        dbk: Yep. I attended a community forum for Daniel Biss, and he also supports single payer. He was at the People’s Forum. Biss is already campaigning down state.

        I like Pawar well enough. My ward is adjacent to his ward. But he’s awfully ambitious. And Ben Joravsky points out that Red Ameya suddenly has turned up after he voted for Mayor Rahm’s package 90-something percent of the time.

        But either is better than J.B. Sheesh.

        1. dbk

          90-odd percent voting record congruent with the Mayor? Not a good recommendation for downstate support.

          I too am looking at Pawar and Biss more seriously these days. The prospect of $300 million going down the drain in a fight between two billionaires isn’t very enticing.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. One approach is to assign weights to various issues, and sum up the total.

      X% (Peace)
      Y% (Single Payer)
      Z% (H1B visa program)

      And we can compare the totals of different politicians, to arrive at a choice.

      2. The other way is to use one of them, Single Payer, here, as a litmus test.

      This second one is winner-take-all.

      That is, winner-issue take all.

      I know a lot of people are against winner-take-all.

      They want the ‘popular vote.’

    3. TK421

      Single payer isn’t the only defining issue, though

      Well, no, obviously not, but it’s still a perfect litmus test. Just asking, but do you know what a litmus test is?

    4. Cat Burglar

      They are scared, the Dem elites. If you have to ask someone not to block you, it means they have the power to do it. We are approaching the “then they fight you” stage of single-payer. I imagine we can expect the elite to bring out the really dirty tools now and try to cripple the single-payer movement.

      If single-payer advocates can block Dems from winning elections, it will hurt the ability of the party to deliver goodies to their donor handlers. Inevitably there will be frustration if they cannot break the power of the single payer advocates, and some might become ready to cut a deal (Tom Steyer?) so they can go back to collecting their rakeoff. If it is possible to split the Dem donor base, their party stooges might suddenly discover in their hearts they have always been for single-payer.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Disagree, the “Dem elites” are not scared even one little bit, recall how they “win”: not by being elected, or (heaven forfend) by promoting policy that serves their human constituents. They win by ensuring there is a funnel of cash, any cash, to their various consulting, thinktank, media, legal, lobbying, and industry career choices. “Winning an election” and “passing decent legislation” is so far down the list it wouldn’t move the needle. And if “winning” was an objective all they have to do is what Obama did for 8 years, say one thing and then do the opposite, people won’t even notice.

          1. R. Duray


            Best political oration of the decade. And why did the judge not dismiss the case as he should have? Upton Sinclair noted that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

            When the judges have been captured by the elites, we can judge what the results will be.

    5. UserFriendly

      It is a good article but this got me heated,

      The fears are acute enough that when the Nevada chapter of Our Revolution — the political group spawned from the Sanders presidential campaign — endorsed long-shot candidate Jesse Sbaih in the state’s Democratic Senate primary over party favorite Rep. Jacky Rosen, retired former Sen. Harry Reid felt the need to call Sanders directly.

      Don’t endorse Sbaih, and don’t let the national Our Revolution group accept its Nevada chapter’s recommendation to back him either, the former minority leader implored his friend. Sanders agreed, said a Democrat familiar with the interaction.

    6. Cat Burglar

      Paul Krugman has called in on single-payer again with a bunch of talking points —

      1. Too hard to get. (donors too strong)
      2. If the left uses up power on single-payer, it won’t be able to get anything else.
      3. The Children! — who apparently are not in need of health care at time of birth or after — are more important to the truly virtuous.
      4. Let’s make a deal! — single-payer advocates shut up and play ball now, they get the Dutch health care system down the road. “Universal coverage.”

      Another sign it is time to press harder. But next they will get out the knives.

    7. JTFaraday

      I tend to dislike single issue platforms, but I do think that there are some things about a single payer health system, established as a universal right of citizenship, that serves as a productive corrective to the very long standing US tendency to view human beings strictly in terms of their utility, (otherwise, go die). So, I’m willing to get behind this litmus test.

      It also doesn’t hurt that it should make things easier for employers, including small employers, and grant more freedom of movement to employees, which is very important.

  15. Carolinian

    Justin Raimondo does a better job than the NYT at explaining the Trump/Bannon/McMaster dispute.

    However, from a noninterventionist perspective, the battle lines are not all that that clear. In an interview with an administration insider, the Daily Caller reports:

    “Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan – McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria – McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue – McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue – McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal – McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.”[…]

    Reflecting – in part — their increasingly anti-interventionist orientation, Trump’s base is out to get McMaster: a full-fledged campaign to oust him has been launched in the pro-Trump media, and the left is reflexively defending him. Here again we see how the political spectrum is being turned on its head, with the right going “isolationist” and what passes for the left these days taking a neoconservative turn.

    Clearly the Trump/Bannon desire to confront Iran is not a good thing (even while fears of actual warmongering against the 70 million Iranians are surely exaggerated) but any move to dial back the new cold war and the DC consensus has to be a ray of light.

    Meanwhile there’s a move in an increasingly Orwellian Congress to build a War on Terror memorial on the Washington Mall.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When I look at McMaster, I think of this balancing act, for anyone going into DC with little connection there:

      1. Do you get people who share your vision


      2. Do you go with people who know how things work in DC, in their particular field?

      Another one is Trump’s thinking he can make use of Goldman people’s brains, and be on top of their money hearts.

    2. wilroncanada

      Wow! It must be gospel. Quoting one Right Wing Libertarian quoting another Right Wing Libertarian quoting an anonymous source. Financed by another Born again Right Wing Libertarian who finances Koch Brothers, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker, .
      There’s no “clearly” about it. And, that’s assuming that what Trump may have said to that person that minute was not repudiated the next minute to someone else he needed something from.

    1. Oregoncharles

      This would be the reason Corbyn is unenthusiastic about the EU – or, apparently, EEA.

  16. diptherio

    Must be gettin’ them forest fires up in BC too, eh? The ‘Apocalypse Now’ sunsets are a give away. The one silver lining to having everything around you on fire — the sunsets are amazing!

    1. polecat

      “the sunsets are amazing”
      Yeah (COUGH .. WHEEZE .. COUGH .. HACK .. COUGH !!) they sure are …. ‘cough’ …

    2. wilroncanada

      Amazingly horrible. The biggest fires mostly started with dry lightning strikes several weeks ago. The land burned so far is more than the area of Prince Edward Island. We, in my little corner of Vancouver Island, have had no rain since June 20. It is supposed to rain (some) this Saturday or Sunday, August 12 or 13.
      The drought in the Kootenay region may be even longer–they normally get less rain than we do on the coast.
      And yet, some of the fires have been human-caused; stupid cigarette tossing, ATV owners whose possession of said behemoths claim thus the right to wade through dry forests, where hot engines or random sparks can ignite underbrush, campers who think campfire bans are for the inexperienced,

  17. Carolinian

    Wyden gets pushback at townhall on the BDS legislation.

    And there’s this

    The pushback against Wyden follows two Democratic senators going wobbly on Israel. Last week NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took her name off the anti-boycott legislation. She was promptly targeted by the Israel lobby group AIPAC; but when a questioner mentioned her stance at the Wyden town hall, Gillibrand got applause.

    1. a different chris

      I don’t have enough familiarity with what is going on to be sure, but that whole “40 years and nobody has gone to jail” thing — so this is a law that doesn’t do anything? If it isn’t doing anything, get rid of it. Or — uh oh — modify it so it does have an effect.

      This type of stuff gives me chills, and not good ones.

    2. Brian

      Mr. Wyden is my senator. He is an insurance patron. He will not speak of single payer because his handlers don’t like it. He defends Israel because his handlers want it. He is a great senator some times, but he forgets that his goal for power and our needs are quite different. He suggests free speech is still available under a law that prevents it.
      Sorry Senator, but you are apparently quite out of touch with those little things that keep us awake at night.
      I voted for him each time because he is slightly better than evil, but he is pushing the limits and is now demonstrating that his views are not ours. He is famous for fighting the police state, but he does not follow through.
      What is the worst part? Senator Wyden does not have to advertise or spend big bucks to win his election, yet he still takes money from the scum of the earth. Too many contradictions Senator, and you forget who you are working for.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Wyden is a Senator. You vote for/legitimize the U.S. Senate in any way this is what you should expect, at best.

          1. a different chris

            And if we don’t vote? How does that work exactly? Like this I’m supposing:

            1) Don’t vote
            2) ???
            3) Profit!!!

          2. polecat

            I’ve voted ney re. MY state (Wa.) Senators & Representative, who I regard as nothing more than snakeoil propagandists and opportunists, who talk the ‘good lie’ !!

          3. polecat

            I’ve voted ney re. MY state (Wa.) Senators & Representative in the last several elections, who I regard as nothing more than state-sanctioned snakeoil salewomen/men and opportunists, always and above propagate the big lie : They Work for Us !!

      1. makedoanmend

        Boycotts can be very effective.

        “The word boycott entered the English language during the Irish “Land War” and derives eponymously from Captain Charles Boycott, the land agent of an absentee landlord, Lord Erne, who lived in Lough Mask House, near Ballinrobe in County Mayo, Ireland, who was subject to social ostracism organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. As harvests had been poor that year, Lord Erne offered his tenants a ten percent reduction in their rents. In September of that year, protesting tenants demanded a twenty five percent reduction, which Lord Erne refused. Boycott then attempted to evict eleven tenants from the land. Charles Stewart Parnell, in a speech in Ennis prior to the events in Lough Mask, proposed that when dealing with tenants who take farms where another tenant was evicted, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should shun them. While Parnell’s speech did not refer to land agents or landlords, the tactic was first applied to Boycott when the alarm was raised about the evictions. Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated – his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as in his house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.

        The concerted action taken against him meant that Boycott was unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually 50 Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered to do the work. They were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers, despite the fact that the local Land League leaders had said that there would be no violence from them, and in fact no violence materialized. This protection ended up costing far more than the harvest was worth. After the harvest, the “boycott” was successfully continued.”

        If the BDS initiative was a damp squib, why are some trying to make it, if not illegal, at least onerous to follow?

        Sounds like some anti-BDS people do know the history of effective boycotts.

        And boycotts, by empowering local people, often have more profound effects on political thinking that can reach beyond localities.

    3. Vatch

      Sen. Gillibrand did indeed withdraw her co-sponsorship. See:

      At the bottom of the page, one can click a button that says “Show cosponsors who withdrew”.

      There is a companion bill in the House, and it has been co-sponsored by 249 members, which is more than half of the membership of the House of Representatives. Perhaps a foreign government is trying to influence U.S. elections. . . .

    4. Vatch

      Oh, by the way, in case anyone is unsure what “BDS” stands for, it’s “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”. I’m one of the people who was unsure about the “D” and the “S” in the acronym.

    5. Alex Morfesis

      More boycott noise…blah blah blah…byecots are painfull…boycots only work in a company store sharecroper scenario…byecots are painfull if done right…purchase of loss leader items to drive up costs and over purchase of items to cause inflation…instead of being a rainmaker, be a typhoon…

      Boycots can be handled…inflation destroys governments…

      Spitballs are perhaps cathartic but only cause annoyance, not change…

    6. Oregoncharles

      Boy, was that fun to read. My wife really admires the activists in Portland. Better yet, they got applause from the audience, and seriously rattled Wyden. Wish I’d seen it; the guy is a slime, and usually the picture of arrogance. Unfortunately, he has a safe seat and is unlikely to be moved.

      Was at a Merkley town hall yesterday; didn’t get to ask him about S. 720, but gather he opposes it. Generally adulatory – he really is much better than Wyden. Still just a Democrat, though, with a lot of half-a**ery. Much talk about a “Public Option;” meaning Medicare; Lambert would have been apoplectic.

      Merkley must have studied at DeFazio’s feet; he does the populist aw-shucks routine very well.

      1. neo-realist

        I’d take a pro-Sanders Democratic Senator like Merkley, who at least likes a public option, over either one of our WA State Senators, Murray and Cantwell, who merely want to fix ACA with the GOP. He’s not perfect, but his good is arguably much better than what we’ve got in WA.

  18. Damon Harris

    RE:Google engineer says he has been sacked over controversial gender memo Financial Times

    This may be the study you are looking for.
    Terrell J, Kofink A, Middleton J, Rainear C, Murphy-Hill E, Parnin C, Stallings J. (2016) Gender differences and bias in open source: Pull request acceptance of women versus men. PeerJ Preprints 4:e1733v2 td=sd”>


    Biases against women in the workplace have been documented in a variety of studies. This paper presents the largest study to date on gender bias, where we compare acceptance rates of contributions from men versus women in an open source software community. Surprisingly, our results show that women’s contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s. However, women’s acceptance rates are higher only when they are not identifiable as women. Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless.

  19. Edward E

    Rooskies are under every bed, well no but… our president a minor Russian oligarch? My apologies if this has already been discussed. Think I’ll watch ‘Arkiefornia’ tonight and brush up on more money laundering tactics.

    How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, this article is completely off base. It’s another proof that the media is so out to get Trump that they are effectively making stuff up.

      Banks are responsible for money laundering checks, not real estate brokers or developers. The banks laundered the money.

      Moreover, the time when Trump Tower was completely was long before the fall of the USSR that then led to plutocratic land grab that created Russian oligarchs. “Russian mobsters” were often “Brighton Beach connected mobsters” like Felix Sater, who my experts on Russia say are not “Russian mafia” but “international Jewish mafia”. Their Russian ancestry is not the nexus of their connections.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Your mention of Brighton Beach made me recall a cab ride I had there many years ago, Russian cabbie.
        He regaled me with tales of his wife who had 24 Social Security numbers and spent her time driving her 7-series BMW from one agency to another picking up checks.

        He said Russians generally view scamming the US system like taking candy from babies, they came from a system where running various scams to get by was a way of life, whereas over here the assumption is that people are basically honest so scamming opportunities are usually wide open.

        He was also part owner of an MRI lab, connected to a variety of scam doctors and insurance agents, somebody would go to a clinic with a cold, “you need MRI!” and the insurance plan would get charged $5000, kickbacks to the doctor and the insurance agent. Good times!

  20. Vatch

    Remarkable New Evidence for Human Activity in North America 130,000 Years Ago NPR

    Interesting, but not convincing. As one expert quoted in the article said, if people were in North America 130,000 years ago, we should find some human remains:

    If humans did roam through North America 130,000 years ago, their numbers were likely sparse. This means that the chances of finding human remains are slim—but not out of the question, says Pobiner of Smithsonian. “If people were in North America 130,000 years ago,” she said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t find them.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Multi-disciplinary job here.

      Probably need UFO and ET experts here.

      That might explain the lack of remains – they left. That was their vacation planet.

      1. a different chris

        Not a vacation, probably marooned. Thus the hacking away at the prey as their cutting tools lost power or maybe they didn’t even have such things aboard. Eventually they got found (could have been 1000 years later) by a search ship. It cleaned up the remains – if it sadly didn’t get there in time, but maybe it made an actual rescue! – and the wreckage.

        So that’s that. Why do people make simple, obvious things so complicated?

        1. polecat

          They had to wait until Nibiru moved into alignment along the elliptical plane …

          They must have had quite the ongoing galactic poker game !

    2. Lee

      Doesn’t current evidence indicate that migration of anatomically modern humans didn’t migrate out of Africa before 125,000 years ago?

      Since modern humans have been dated to at least 200,000 years ago, it might be possible that small populations migrated and left few or as yet undiscovered remains sprinkled lightly here and there across the globe.

    3. Anon

      The more reliable skepticism of the assessment of the mastodon site is that the “effects” ascribed to the ancient bones MAY, in fact, been the result of natural processes. The archeological site (present-day San Diego) is geologically active: portions of this area are now found on the Channel Islands (some 200 miles to the north-west). Local land movement (colluvial/alluvial) is a common occurrence today, and may have been a consideration 130,000 Y.A.

      Another reason why “we wouldn’t find” more human remains in the vicinity is that the last Ice Age ended 18,000 Y.A. and the ocean levels were more than 300′ lower than they are today. Coastal sites of ancient humans would now be underwater (and probably destroyed by rising tides/wave action); not likely to be discovered by modern archeologists

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In the article, it’s mentioned that the bones were broken while still ‘fresh,’ based on spiral fractures observed on them.

        Could landslides and mass movements produce similar patterns?

        This is the interesting part:

        Archaeologists have found hand axes dating to at least 130,000 years ago on the island of Crete, which has been surrounded by water for about five million years, according to Heather Pringle at National Geographic.

        And also this:

        The occupants of the Cerutti Mastodon site could have been Neanderthals, their Denisoven cousins, or even anatomically modern humans


        What we common call an Ice Age is, I believe, a glacial period.

        From Wikipedia, Glacial Period:

        The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age, occurring in the Pleistocene epoch, which began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 15,000 years ago.[1]

        And Ice Age (Wikipedia):

        There have been at least five major ice ages in the earth’s past (the Huronian, Cryogenian, Andean-Saharan, Karoo Ice Age and the Quaternary glaciation)

        The current ice age, the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, started about 2.58 million years ago during the late Pliocene, when the spread of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere began.

        And one wonders if the Peking Man or the Neanderthal Man (or his ancestors) could have made it to North America during the many glacial periods in the past 500,000 years.

  21. leftover

    RE: rebuttal to Google engineer’s diversity issues
    Gizmodo has the full text of the “manifesto” and a statement from Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown. Here.
    I think Brown’s response and CEO Sundar Pichai’s statement, (“To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”), coupled with WhatsHisName’s reported dismissal is about as much of a rebuttal as you’re going to see right now considering Google is pretty busy defending its “principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws” against Department of Labor allegations of “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.”

    Cue the lawyers…stage right.

    1. jsn

      You know, if there were actual competition in the search space, say a half dozen Baby Googles, like the Baby Bells of my youth, it just may be that one of them would discover the value of code independent of gender.

      I keep pointing out as a sort of salve for the predators at the top that John D Rockefeller didn’t get really rich until Standard was carved up: his non voting stakes in the successor companies exploded in value.

      We need to cut all of our oligopolies and monopolies back down to size and still have all the tools to do it at the Federal level.

    2. TK421

      “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

      But is it wrong? Frankly I don’t care whether or not something offends people, since there are people who are offended by objective truth such as the theory of evolution or the need for universal health care. I haven’t read the man’s manifesto, but if the strongest objection they can bring against it is “it bothers me” then maybe it’s worth a good look.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Yes, it is wrong. See the study linked by Damon Harris above.

        No amount of proof ever seems to be enough to keep fools who benefit from bigotry from popping their heads up periodically to wonder publicly if maybe it’s justified after all.

        Here’s a rather nice response by another engineer dealing with the related issue of why someone with his beliefs makes a bad engineer and a bad employee:

      2. leftover

        But is it wrong?
        Depends on the people making the rules.
        Damore was using company property and company resources to voice his opinion. Brown stated the post was not consistent with Google’s “principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws.” It’s not like Damore was on a soap box on a street corner, or the digital equivalent. There’s no law or 1st Amendment involved. So right and wrong becomes a personal judgement call on the content.

        Damore is obviously a really intelligent guy, skilled at his occupation, who has given the topic of workplace diversity at Google a great deal of thought. And it soon becomes obvious, reading what he published, that there’s something about women and their approach to his profession that just plain pisses him off. So he pulls this ideological diversity versus demographic diversity thing from somewhere north of his anus to rationalize…to whoever…the notion that, because women just piss him off, their role in his profession should be marginalized.

        So is he wrong?
        Leaving the DoL issues aside.
        Yeah. IMO. He violated company policy, (according to his bosses…cue the lawyers). He refuses to acknowledge the fact that it’s the difference in the way men and women approach problem solving and task management that make gender diversity so important for the future of the modern workplace, and society. And he refuses to acknowledge that it’s bullshit like his that fuels regressive harassment, subterfuge and discrimination that is well documented in his industry.

        Identity politics and intersectionality and feminism, all these things, and more, need to be part of our public discourse. But we must not tolerate discourse that produces harms to dignity.

        Stanley Fish interpreting Jeremy Waldron from 2012:

        [H]arms to dignity, he contends, involve more than the giving of offense. They involve undermining a public good, which he identifies as the “implicit assurance” extended to every citizen that while his beliefs and allegiance may be criticized and rejected by some of his fellow citizens, he will nevertheless be viewed, even by his polemical opponents, as someone who has an equal right to membership in the society. It is the assurance — not given explicitly at the beginning of each day but built into the community’s mode of self-presentation — that he belongs, that he is the undoubted bearer of a dignity he doesn’t have to struggle for.

        This is all women want in the workplace…and society. That same dignity, that same implicit assurance, men enjoy without challenge because of their gender. An unassailable equal right to full and equitable membership, meaningful participation. In my opinion, Damore’s “manifesto” runs contrary to the public good. At least as contrary as systemic compensation disparities, wherever that occurs.

  22. Carolinian

    America’s most expensive house once the fictional home of Jed Clampett and Granny.

    Classic TV watchers may remember the 25,000-square-foot main residence, built in 1933, from the credits of “The Beverly Hillbillies” sitcom.

    LOL! But is the cement pond still there?…

    1. roxy

      And the fancy eatin’ table, which was actually the billiard table, and they used the pool cues to pass around the old iron pots.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice Wall Street Journal

    Does it mean everyone on the Acela Express will know what you are doing with your phone?

    “Russian hacking false flag, false news operations, phase 3, please.”

    “My password?”

  24. jfleni

    RE: Evidence of Google blacklisting of left and progressive sites continues to mount.

    Evidence of “GIGGLE” as principal shill-daddy for the MSM and the plutocracy is also mounting too;switch to UNBUBBLE or Duck-Duck-Go or other sources of truth — not deception — now! Sign off from the nest of “snoops, smellers, and spies” (H.L Menkens memorable description) now!

  25. Tom

    Hi Yves Love your blog. So please don´t mind this critique. Regarding the bloke at Google: why fire somebody with another opinion? Even if he is wrong he is entitled to his opinion. Just the same with guy who used drugs in free time. What business is it to any employer as long as he works well? And doesn´t bother anybody? I find one and the other abominable.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      He up-front admitted that he discriminated against and was prejudiced towards women, meaning he treated his female colleagues unfairly in accordance with his bigoted beliefs. That’s a liability for any company; of course they fired him. God help them if he ever interviewed job candidates!

    2. Alex Morfesis

      Garggle has a pending obvious problem with the department of labor…they could not allow damore to continue…

      but he did it all on purpose…probably was going to get fired…apparently he sent a notice to the nlrb a few seconds after he hit send and is claiming they couldn’t fire him since it was “retaliation”…he’s just gaming the system…

      but don’t feel to bad for him…his dad is apparently somewhat important in the insurance biz…he didn’t get all those hook ups from univ of Illinois bounces due to his “genius”…daddy will take care of him and hook him up again…onto some real news…

    3. dafnie

      I think Google is being short-sighted here. They have won the battle, but may lose the war. Google is under suspicion of blacklisting both left and right sites. There are articles online with rumors that managers at Google are creating blacklists of employees who attended right-wing rallies, for the purpose of harming the employees’ careers. If this second rumor is true, it would be illegal under California law. Google should be a utility that is highly regulated to ensure amongst other thing that it does not engage in censorship, and it is not wise to keep poking a suspicious political administration in Washington.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Wowsers, project much?

      I said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about whether the guy should be fired. I criticized the letter Google wrote justifying the firing. You really need to learn to read with less bias.

      Personally I think he should be for manifesting that he’s a complete jerk and not having the sense to realize that his letter would create big PR problems for Google. You don’t go around biting the corporate hand that feeds you. Maybe Google is like Uber and elevates jerks, but I wouldn’t want a guy like that on my payroll.

      1. witters

        “You don’t go around biting the corporate hand that feeds you.”

        Could someone translate that into Latin? I want to put it above the driveway of the mansion.

        1. blennylips

          Right away sir,

          googlestrangulate says:

          Et nolite ire circa serpens jaculus super corporatum manum pascit vos.

          If that’s too boring, put the old snake’s tail in the mouth, and run it around a few times.

          Seems to stabilize at

          Non autem serpens ad a corporatum feeds apud te.

          which, as we all know is “And do not go near the snake from the corporate feeds you.”

          Anything else, sir?

      2. Liberal Mole

        It’s not just Google. My husband just retired after 30 years in the financial industry. He read about the letter in the NYT and said Wall ST would have fired the guy as well.

    5. a different chris

      >as long as he works well? And doesn´t bother anybody?

      If your name was Tomasina wouldn’t you be bothered? It seems like he bothered a whole lot of people of all (what is it now, 8?) steps along the sex spectrum.

      I have a lot of problems with Google but like most s/w guys would not mind having that stamp on their resume. You have to realize when you are replaceable. You have to realize when you are out of your depth in a given subject. Fail to grasp those two and get to teach the new guy your job.

  26. allan

    UC Berkeley ex-chancellor to receive $434,000 while on leave [SF Chronicle]

    Nicholas Dirks stepped down as UC Berkeley’s chancellor this summer but will receive almost all of his executive salary, $434,000, for another year though he won’t teach or run campus programs.

    The paid year off is a benefit provided under a policy approved by the University of California regents at least 17 years ago that rewards executives who are also tenured professors and will return to the classroom.

    The purpose “is to allow top-flight academics to get back up to speed in their field and begin research, which they weren’t able to do while in their administrative role,” said Dianne Klein, a UC spokeswoman.

    Dirks, a historian who has written books about India, won’t begin teaching at UC Berkeley until a year from now. Meanwhile, the former chancellor will receive a salary that is $196,700 higher than what he’ll earn as a professor next year. Klein said the paid leave is like a sabbatical, and because Dirks earned the credit for his leave while he was an executive, it is paid at the executive rate. …

    File under Classroom Warfare.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s educational for people to study that.

      What else can we learn? Maybe his health insurance. Is its premium 70% subsidized by the school or the state government?

    2. a different chris

      He needs nearly half a million to “get back up to speed” on, of all things, India? How many smart guys from India, that are just naturally already up to speed on India, can you hire for that?

  27. Jim Haygood

    We’re outta here:

    Energy giant Repsol SA pulled all foreign workers from its fields in Venezuela, Bloomberg adds that Norway’s Statoil ASA also removed all expat staff.

    According to Bloomberg, Repsol field workers left the country in the past few weeks, with a skeleton expatriate staff remaining at the company’s offices in Caracas. Separately, Statoil withdrew its last three foreign workers before the July 30 election to ensure their safety, Erik Haaland, a company spokesman, told Bloomberg by phone.

    The immediate result of the departures will be an even bigger decline in Venezuela’s oil output — the only remaining asset which Maduro can readily exchange for dollars — further exacerbating the country’s financial crisis as the inflow of hard currency slows further.

    As expats leave, Venezuela’s refineries are operating at about 45 percent capacity. Of twelve distillation units in the Puerto la Cruz, Amaya and Cardon refineries, seven are inactive due to overdue repairs and limited supply of essential crude grades.

    Expecting the shambolic Maduro regime to fix them refineries without foreign help is like expecting Zimbabweans to manufacture smart phones. Come to think of it, how do we know that Maduro and Mugabe aren’t the same person?

    1. Alex Morfesis

      The sauds are probably paying maduro big offshore bux to manufacture a problem…there is too much oil in the world…have a buddy who works big tail risk currency plays on foreign oil producers…mispricing on out of the money options has allowed him a nice living…he just pokes around looking to figure who is next up on the merry go round…

      theatre dahlings…it is all theatre…

      gotta move that price up…

      yeah yeah foreign specialists…

      because the natives are blind and are not paying attention when the foreigners are doing all this specialized work…

      it has always been about energy…

      ww1 removed the morganatic romanov from control of rooskie oil and the othmans from control of their oilfields…

      when the dust settles…hoobenefitz…

      1. skippy

        Egads…. Alex the next thing you’ll know people will start questioning neoclassical price mechanics….

  28. TK421

    Not that I disagree, but what is the motivation behind that anti-Zuckerberg poster, especially in San Francisco of all places?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its easier to fight campaigns in their infancy rather than later on. Sanders main problem against Clinton was one of time. Clinton was already the Queen. If instead of asking people to run for President he had simply run, he might have had the time he needed to win.

      The msm would love a Zuck campaign, not that hes a threat to become President, but he would eat up valuable time from legitimate candidates and time to expose other candidates as frauds.

      Its the same with the awful Democrats the elites are desperate to run.

      I can’t speak for the people behind the posters, but its likely they recognize a Zuck run will focus on FACEBOOK and mindless “ENTREPRENEUR INTERNET OF THINGS” instead of issues.

  29. Altandmain

    Bernie Sanders and prescription drugs:

    The oil industry and Generation Y:

    Oh and a trip down memory lane:

    I firmly believe that Bernie would have won against Trump and the Democrats won’t admit how wrong they were. They prefer to blame Russia as a scapegoat.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why Facebook should pay us a basic income Financial Times (David L). A provocative ways of arguing users should be paid for their data.

    Also consumer credit reporting companies should pay those who are being reported on, not the snitches, sorry, stores that pass the information.

    The same with corporate rating agencies, like S&P. Pay those corporations being rated.

    And when polled, one should be paid too. Your time is not free.

  31. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    Millennials Are Killing the Oil Industry In These Times. UserFriendly incurred great personal cost, as a chemical engineer who graduated IIRC in 2009 in not taking a job in the petroleum biz when there were pretty much no other jobs for someone with his education on offer. However, if young Americans continue to shun oil companies, they will lobby to. bring in foreign workers.

    Is it xenophobic to fear corporations bringing foreign oil workers pr foreign fracking workers? Maybe not foreign or Hessian private security workers?

  32. tongorad

    Not a wide turn, I reckon:

    Al Gore’s Pivot to Idiocy

    Gore’s financial ties to corporate America do more than hollow out the claim he makes during the film’s finale that he’s leading a moral movement on the scale of women’s suffrage or the abolition of slavery. The pathology runs deeper: Gore is constitutionally incapable of telling a story that is resonant with Americans who have had houses foreclosed on, wages slashed, wealth eradicated, and futures set to flame by Wall Street traders and fossil fuel executives. To do so would require him to point fingers. But Gore cannot indict the filthy rich—who emit more carbon dioxide than anyone else, who buy off politicians to stall climate action, who are the sole villains of the climate crisis—because he cannot indict himself.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Ugh. Thanks for link. Option 2: FoS.

      This is helpful info:

      Instead the bulk of the film’s action occurs in Paris during the 21st Conference of the Parties. This is Gore’s arena, where he can shine as envoy and entrepreneur, dealmaker and democrat, without too much, well, inconvenience. …

      [In Paris,] Gore has hatched an irresistible scheme to entice Musk’s SolarCity to come to his aid. Gift India the intellectual property of your latest solar-panel-techno-mumbo-jumbo, Gore advises SolarCity’s CEO, and in exchange revel in the ovations of heads of state, who will deem you the “corporate hero of Paris.” And with this union of SolarCity, a benign billionaire benefactor, and Al Gore—the man who saved the Paris Agreement—the film climaxes. Here’s the thing though: India’s Energy Minister suggests his government’s deal with the clean-tech firm is a fiction. …

      Gore [and his] investing partner, David Blood, an erstwhile executive at Goldman Sachs… are cofounders of Generation Investment Management [GIM], a London hedge fund that bets on the long-term profitability of sustainable capitalism.

      According to SEC filings, GIM bet big on SolarCity in 2013. In Paris, Gore wasn’t approaching SolarCity merely as a concerned statesman lugging around the burden of the planet’s future. As a major investor in the company, Gore was poised to make a killing off the good publicity. Given how prominently SolarCity features in the film as well as in subsequent reviews, it’s no great leap to conceive of An Inconvenient Sequel as a conveniently aggrandizing PR move.

  33. LT

    Median Price-to-Revenue Ratio Higher in All Deciles vs 2007, 90% vs Dot-Com Bubble: THE Choice Michael Shedlock (EM)

    All one can do is wait and see how far the banks and govt will go to sustain myth and ideology.

  34. Bill Smith

    Didn’t think much of that response.

    Here is something the author seems to be quoting from the original memo (Yonatan put the quotes here):

    “I think one-third of my colleagues are either biologically unsuited to do their jobs, or if not are exceptions and should be suspected of such until they can prove otherwise to each and every person’s satisfaction.”

    The author of the memo doesn’t say that. See if you can find that quote or even part of it in the original memo. But Yonatan seems to be saying he did.

    For example from that response (I put the quotes here):

    “Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them.”

    Yonatan advocating violence?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some think or hope One Race is the solution to many problems we have today.

      Another is One Sex or One Gender.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “. And the EU has been clear that any transitional deal must come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice—precluding one under the European Free Trade Agreement court that oversees the EEA.”

    Still the contrarian: why is that treated as some sort of hard-wired obstacle? It’s a bargaining position, adopted to punish Britain for leaving. But if it’s ultimately against everyone’s interest, it’s movable.

    It seems clear from reporting here that the EU PTB are deliberately engineering a “hard” Brexit. That’s a lot like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  36. D

    There are those who appear to be (deliberately?) missing the point of why James Damore’s manifesto was so degrading, insulting and infuriating.

    Google’s current incredibly minuscule population of female employees in the better paying jobs (emphasis mine):

    The company released figures in June showing that the proportion of female and black employees across the company as a whole had not changed from 2015 to 2016. There was a modest increase in the proportion of women in tech and leadership roles and the number of Latino employees, but only 20% of Google’s tech roles were filled by women, below the [also pathetic – D] national average of 26%.Asian employees made up 35% of the company’s workforce, but they were underrepresented in leadership roles.

    Google’s current gender pay gap:

    The US Department of Labor found in April that there were systemic issues with equal pay across the company, and described discrimination there as “quite extreme”.

    Last, but not least Damore’s covert slur (which he clearly knew he wouldn’t be able to get away with overtly) towards currently utterly unrepresented blacks and Hispanics, along with underpaid Asians:

    “When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence,” the author writes. “Conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is required for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.”

    Yeah, Google has created a politically correct monoculture, just not the one Damore, or Google are claiming. Clearly James Damore would have been totally satisfied, and manifesto-less, if Google were 100% white males.

    Lastly, Google gets no kudos for the firing, they had no choice whatsoever, he totally reflects their (Silicon Valley’s) culture.

    (source piece: 08/06/17 Google staffer’s hostility to affirmative action sparks furious backlash – ‘Manifesto’ arguing against promotion of race and gender diversity attributes lack of women in tech to ‘biological causes’ via . )

  37. Waking Up

    It seems to me that one of the links listed, “Error 404: A Look At Digital Decay”, has very important long and short term consequences which we all should be aware of.

    “Digital Decay – The internet is stitched together by an incalculable number of hyperlinks, but much like cells in an organism, the sources and destinations have a finite lifespan. Essentially, links can and do die.”

    How many people believe that once something is on the internet, it is there forever? Well, maybe not.

    “This idea of a public record is at the heart of why digital decay is an issue worth addressing. Once millions of links simply burn out, what will people in the future know about society in the early-ish days of the internet? What record will remain of people’s thoughts and feelings in that era?”

    And this…

    “I worry that the twenty-first century will become an informational black hole. – Vint Cerf, Internet pioneer”

    Just think, if all books went digital, we could have a future where our past could “disappear”. A future “global leader” could re-write a book.

    I have so many concerns regarding these issues that it could be a dissertation.

  38. nostromo

    Notice that the jacobin Greece link is broken, it contains extra space and text and does not load.

  39. Plenue

    >The famous Hermitage Museum keeps 74 cats to keep its basements mice-free

    “Currently, there are 74 neutered cats living at the Hermitage. They live in the basement and are not allowed to roam the galleries.”

    They should let them go wherever they want. I assume everything fragile is already behind glass, and I like the idea of completely unimpressed felines lounging on old statues and the like.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are countries where rats are on the menu.

      This is just one more straw on the never-human-workers camel.

      First, it was robots.

      Now, cats.

  40. Propertius

    As far as the Google “diversity” kerfuffle is concerned, I said my peace about the original story over at the Glenn Reynolds Home for Disaffected Libertarian Martyrs (Instapundit), to wit:

    “In the memo, which is the personal opinion of a male Google employee and
    is titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” the author argues that
    women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and
    discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological
    differences between men and women.”

    Tell that to Grace Hopper. Or Ada Lovelace for that matter.

    When I (a male, by the way) started as a software engineer at NASA in 1978, I’d estimate that the programming staff at Langley was about 40% female – less in the systems group (where I worked), but more in the graphics, realtime, data reduction, etc. Somehow these “inherent psychological differences” didn’t keep Columbia from flying or wreck the Viking program, or even make the development of fly-by-wire systems for aircraft impossible.

    Later on, when I moved to Cray, we somehow managed to build the most powerful computers in the world – with a woman as VP of software development, a woman in charge of operating system development, and a woman in charge of the compiler group.

    Of course, we actually were doing high-tech, rather than coming up with innovative ways to sell ads.

    All I know is that the proportion of women in the business has declined throughout my career. I don’t know what’s to blame, but it ain’t “inherent psychological differences”. I’m not a big fan of Google, but if they want to try to do something about this, more power to them.

    I met Grace Hopper (back when she was a mere Captain). I’d love to have heard her respond to this.

    That being said, I do think it’s appalling that this benighted young fool was apparently dismissed for a comment on a supposedly “anonymous” forum. I think it says a lot about how seriously one should take any of Google’s claims about privacy or security.

  41. Richard H Caldwell

    As of this morning, I am not receiving new posts via RSS and The Olde Reader RSS feed aggregation service.

    Have you possibly changed site configuration in a way that has afected your RSS feed at

    I hope to resume receiving your posts via RSS.

  42. D

    Oh lord, priceless! [Infamously misogynist – ‘woman shouldn’t have been given the right to vote’ – Peter] Thiel Capital’s Managing Director, Eric Weinstein, is sniveling and outraged over Damore being shown the exit door (a hug of thanks to tweeter Dr. Chanda/@IBJIYONGI for the heads up):

    I believe that Google just fired a biologist & created an unsafe work environment for *anyone* who even entertains selection in humans.

    Welp, I think its somewhat fitting that arrogant bigots and misogynists are not totally (yet mostly!) exempt from the horrid, Libertarian Silicon Valley culture which has historically used California’s brutal Employment At Will backdrop against historic multitudes of blacks, Hispanics, US born (and not) Asian Americans, females, and those of both genders who are over 35:

    If you are employed at will, your employer does not need good cause to fire you.

    Also, a ten page (or even a two page) commentary, replete with an entire page of cross references (eleven of them), is not a mere comment; and, from the numerous pieces I’ve seen, I’ve yet to read that it was an anonymous missive Damore shared with those fellow Googlers.

    Lastly, the argument that the core of this issue is either insulting or irrelevant to those suffering from homelessness, or facing it, seems mind bogglingly insane to me.

  43. Procopius

    Back in the ’70s I read a book titled “The Psychology of Computer Programming.” I don’t remember much of it, but he did mention one interesting fact. In the earliest days of “programmable” devices, when “programming” often meant plugging wires into circuit boards, IBM found that the best programmers were women, preferably music majors. It seems the music majors were trained in careful analysis even more than math majors, and they were both cheaper and less likely to get bored with the job.

  44. Expat

    I can imagine the denizens of Presidio Terrace at work. Lawyers, CEO’s, IT entrepreneurs, Investors, and Bankers all. They spend their days devising ways to rob, steal and cheat. They buy off Congressmen and Senators. Steal from the Treasury, the poor, the rich, and anyone in between.

    But when the tables are turned, they cry foul.

    If I were the new owner, I would not only rent out the parking spaces, I would put up a toll gate. Surely the residents would pay $100 a day to get home!

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