2:00PM Water Cooler 9/25/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“The veteran trade official [Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator Steve Verheul] said he did not expect the United States to make proposals this round on four hot-button issues: dairy market access, auto rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement and Chapter 19” [Politico].

“The Trump administration now has a date circled on its calendar: March 21,after which it can sign a renegotiated NAFTA deal. That date was set after the administration officially notified Congress on Friday evening of expected changes to trade remedy law as a result of the negotiation” [Politico].



Karl Rove: “Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot. Republicans will be asked, ‘Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God’s anger?’ He’ll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, ‘Do you agree with that?'” [New York Times]. Pass the popcorn.


“Randy Bryce: Iron Stache or Iron Cash?” [Progressive Army]. Politics ain’t beanbag.On the other hand, after the Sanders run, it’s hard to see the requirement for the donor class at all.


“Joe Biden’s Platform for 2020: Anti-Populism” [Politico]. Please kill me now. Or maybe not? “[Biden announced] his opposition to a ‘universal basic income,’ that newly vogue policy proposal in which every American would receive a periodic check from the government regardless of their work status. But there’s more in the post to decipher. Biden criticized the ‘Silicon Valley executives’ who have championed universal basic income for ‘selling American workers short’ and undermining the ‘dignity’ of work.” I don’t think there need to be irony quotes round “the dignity of work.” And somebody who understands the Jobs Guarantee should get close to Biden. Wouldn’t it be a lovely irony if Biden supported it?

Health Care

“Most Americans — 52 percent — disapprove of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, according to a CBS News Poll conducted between Sept. 21 and 24” [CBS News]. “Only 20 percent of those polled said they approved of the Republican legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama.”

“Paul outlines demands for yes vote on Graham-Cassidy bill” [The Hill]. “Paul’s primary demand, according to his office, is to substantially reduce the central component of the bill: … block grants to states with money to spend on health care… [Paul: “only a significant reassessment of this trillion-dollar spending regime would get my support”]. A “significant reassessment” of the spending, though, is likely to cost the GOP other votes, most notably Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is already focused on whether the bill does enough to help people afford coverage. Finding some way to win Paul’s vote, however unlikely, is crucial for GOP leaders, given that they can only lose two votes. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is also against the bill, and Sen. Susan Collins.”

“Republican health care bill revised to target key votes” [NBC]. “An internal GOP analysis, circulated to Senate offices, shows spending boosts states like Alaska and Kentucky — data that will almost certainly be used to sell the revised proposal in the days ahead…. In one new provision particularly beneficial to Alaska, the state would receive a 25% boost in federal matching funds for Medicaid due to its defined high-level of poverty.”

Trump Transition

“One individual who is familiar with an aspect of the Mueller inquiry but asked to not be named told New York that, unlike other federal probes that he’s seen in action, where prosecutors build their cases from clear allegations, this one feels different. ‘This is a backward investigation,’ the individual said. ‘You don’t have a crime. You’re searching. And so you’re not really sure exactly what you’re searching for. So you start asking around and you see what comes up. And you start creating a paradigm and you see what else comes up and figure out at some point whether or not there’s a crime'” [New York Magazine].

“Ivanka Trump Faces Courtroom Showdown Over $785 Sandals” [Bloomberg]. “‘Trump was not aware of the Aquazzura style ‘Wild Thing’ shoe at the time she signed off on the season line that contained the Ivanka Trump style ‘Hettie’ shoe,’ [Darren]Saunders, her lawyer, argued in a letter to the judge. ‘The burden of a deposition of Ms. Trump would far outweigh any likely benefit to Aquazzura.’ Saunders added that her role as a ‘high ranking government official’ should preclude her from having to submit to a deposition. (Trump was appointed to be an assistant to her father in the White House).” Didn’t Bill Clinton try something like that?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Rainbow Coalition or Class War?” [Hard Crackers]. Very important post on Redneck Revolt, race and class, and forgotten lessons of history (Tom Watson). Well worth a read.

“The Democratic Party has experienced an 11 percent drop in support from black women, while ‘the percentage of black women who said neither party represents them jumped from 13 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017,’ according to the 2017 Power of the Sister Vote poll, conducted by the Black Women’s Roundtable, an intergenerational public policy network, in partnership with Essence magazine” [The Root].

“Confidence in Trump drops on Main Street even among conservatives, survey reveals” [CNBC]. “The [CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey]s] Small Business Confidence Index fell from 60 in the second quarter to 57 in the third quarter. The index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight survey questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. An index value of 57 means that business owners on the whole are more optimistic than they are pessimistic about the direction their business will head over the next 12 months. The slight dip in confidence is the result of sharp decreases in the number of small-business owners who are optimistic about the impact of changes in tax, trade, regulatory and immigration policy over the next 12 months.” So, they don’t expect Trump to deliver. Because he doesn’t and won’t. I wonder when this is going to show up in the economics surveys that keep diverging from real data…

A learning organization:

This is super ugly. Thread:

Agent provocateur cops on both sides, too: Black bloc antifa and the militias; this is Ohkrana-level complexity. Which didn’t end well for the Czars.

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, August 2017: “Hurricane Harvey made its effects felt in the national activity index which fell to minus 0.31 in August for the weakest showing since August last year” [Econoday]. “Negative pull came especially from the production component as industrial production, hit by Harvey dislocations, showed declines for all 3 components — manufacturing, mining and utilities…. Positive contributions came from employment, where August payroll growth was solid at 156,000, and also sales, orders & inventories where a boost came from a sharp inventory build in the ISM manufacturing report. But today’s report is about weakness not strength and the prospect of Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida points to similar trouble for the September report.” But: “This suggests economic activity was close to the historical trend in August (using the three-month average)” [Calculated Risk].

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, September 2017: “Hurricane Harvey didn’t slow down Texas manufacturing at all based on the Dallas Fed’s September report which is led by a strong 4.3 point gain in the general activity index to 21.3 for the best result in 7 months” (Huh?) [Econoday]. “The report includes special questions regarding Harvey and among the results, 41 percent say the hurricane had negative effects on revenue and production though only 6 percent see the impact over the next 6 months as significantly negative while 46 percent see no long term effect. And 69 percent see no effect on future employment. The economy will be lucky if Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida proves as light as Harvey’s hit on Texas, at least based on today’s report where responses are voluntary and sample sizes can be as low as 100.” And: “Dallas Fed: “‘Growth in Texas Manufacturing Activity Holds Steady’ in September” [Calculated Risk].

Retail: “German discount grocer Aldi is taking lean inventory to a new level in its bid for a bigger share of the U.S. market. The company is betting it can win over Americans spoiled by the wide variety in supermarkets by offering way fewer choices than rival retailers. It’s an austere proposition at the heart of Aldi’s growing business in Europe, the WSJ’s Zeke Turner reports, with stocking that puts the company’s lean blueprint on stark display on store shelves and offers consumers in exchange deep price cuts at the end of long checkout lines” [Wall Street Journal].

Retail: “In a commentary, Scott Galloway of the NYU Stern School of Business writes that Amazon’s growth raises difficult questions about the reasons for its dominance and the company’s impact beyond its basic gains in the retail, cloud services and entertainment markets. Amazon has changed the basic compact with financial markets, the marketing professor writes. It has replaced the expectation for profits with a focus on vision and growth, managing its business to break even while investors bid up its stock price. That’s provided the company with what Mr. Galloway writes is a staggering advantage in free-flowing capital” [Wall Street Journal]. Very noble of Mr. Market, I’m sure. Musical interlude

Retail: “Why is Amazon looking more and more like an old-fashioned retailer? The company’s do-it-all corporate strategy adheres to a familiar playbook—that of Sears, Roebuck & Company. Sears might seem like a zombie today, but it’s easy to forget how transformative the company was exactly 100 years ago, when it, too, was capitalizing on a mail-to-consumer business to establish a physical retail presence” [The Atlantic]. “Amazon may find, like Sears, that size can be both an advantage and a bull’s-eye. Sears evolved to become a microcosm of the American economy, with its corporate operations spanning retailing, manufacturing, marketing, and transportation. Warehouses filled 100,000 orders a day, 16 Sears-operated manufacturing plants built name-brand kitchenware and furniture, and a New York branch concentrated in apparel marketing. Amazon is already on this very road; in fact, on Thursday, the company announced that it is adding several thousand marketing jobs in its New York office.”

Shipping: “It’s hard to escape the irony in Amazon.com Inc.’s plan to lease space for an 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center where Cleveland’s once-mighty, but long closed and now mostly demolished Randall Park Mall once stood. Over the next few years—the Amazon center is scheduled to be operational in late 2018—locals who had once bought stuff at Randall Park will find their online orders fulfilled out of the same property” [DC Velocity]. “Many malls sit on large parcels with flat topographies that would be capable of accommodating the needs of a large [distribution center]. A large number of older malls are in densely populated residential areas, though in some cases the neighborhoods may not be particularly desirable. Many have decent road infrastructure, a holdover from an era when developers and communities invested in roads to entice suburban consumers to shop at the malls.” “[A] holdover from an era…”

Shipping: “Will software developers dominate the shipping industry? Part 2” [Splash 247]. “We shouldn’t simply rely on software developers, as we now rely on classification societies, banks and insurers, to be there when we need them. We’ve come to rely on class, our banks and insurers because of centuries of experience. How well are we likely to really know and trust a software company? I’ve no idea!”

Tech: “Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is starting to use virtual reality in its manufacturing supply chain. The British aircraft engine maker is using the immersive technology headsets for what it calls the “world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox” … highlighting the growing interest in virtual reality in industrial operations from factories to warehouses” [Wall Street Journal]. “Companies have approached virtual reality cautiously, but the Rolls-Royce operation may get a closer look in complicated and manually intensive operations from factories to distribution centers.”

The Bezzle: “8 ways to reduce the big threat posed by your ‘smart’ refrigerator” [MarketWatch]. One way: Don’t buy one.

The Bezzle: “MongoDB Looking To Create Unholy Trinity Of Terrible NYC Tech IPOs” [DealBreaker]. “According to its filing, MongoDB pulled down roughly $101.3 million in revenue for fiscal year 2016. That’s not too shabby for a subscription-focused data platform play. What does provoke concern though is a net loss of about $86.7 million for the same period. And that hemorrhage does not look to be healing anytime soon. The company is already reporting a net loss of almost $45.8 million for the first six months of FY2017 despite $67.9 million in revenue. So, we’ve got a 10-year-old startup with nice revenue but a real problem turning that revenue into profit?” And on to the Blue Apron parallels…

The Bezzle: “YC’s Essential Startup Advice” [YCombinator]. Looks like Uber followed all this advice…

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Tribulation Temple. “The Temple Mount has been relatively quiet the past few weeks” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 71, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 25 at 1:51pm.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Hot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation” [WaPo]. These are US citizens, let us remember. I wouldn’t put it past the bondholders who hold Puerto Rican debt to see Maria as an opportunity, exactly as charter advocates and privatizers saw Katrina as an opportunity.

“Washington Just Sued a Giant Private Prison Company for Paying Immigrant Workers $1 Per Day” [Mother Jones]. ” Detainees perform “virtually all non-security functions” at the facility, the AG’s press release says. No matter how many hours they work, GEO pays them $1 per day or ‘in snack food such as chicken, potato chips, soda, and/or candy,’ the complaint alleges.”

News of the Wired

“Addiction hijacks the brain’s neural pathways. Scientists are challenging the view that it’s a moral failing and researching treatments that could offer an exit from the cycle of desire, bingeing, and withdrawal that traps tens of millions of people” [National Geographic].

“The challenges and adventures of life on the road, as told by 14 bands” [Vox].

“This ancient mnemonic technique builds a palace of memory” [Aeon]. “Although imagined memory palaces are still used by memory champions and the few who practice the memory arts, they are best known from Greco-Roman times when great orators, including Cicero, used them to ensure their rhetoric was smooth, detailed and flawless. The physical memory palace, usually a streetscape or building interior, would become so familiar to the orator that it was always available to them in their imagination. By ‘placing’ one piece of information in each site, they could mentally stroll through their memory palace, location by location, drawing out each portion of the speech in the required order without missing any element.”

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (MG):

MG writes: “Not sure what these trees are but they are spectacular. At Eleanor Roosevelt College dorms at UCSD.”

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Readers: Do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, please click the hat!


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. flora

    In case anyone is thinking of upgrading to the newest Mac OS right away, maybe wait a bit.

    From ZDNet.

    “Ex-NSA hacker drops macOS High Sierra zero-day hours before launch
    The vulnerability lets an attacker steal the contents of a Keychain — without needing a password.”


    1. Arizona Slim

      Does anyone have any experience with running Ubuntu on a laptop or a desktop computer? I’m considering Ubuntu and am looking for honest feedback.

      1. nippersmom

        We had Ubuntu on our old laptop. It was much faster than Windows. Laptop screen went out and we have not yet replaced the computer, but when we do I will be install Ubuntu again.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        I’ve been running it for over a decade.* Piece of cake. Download an image, follow the instructions to make a bootable USB stick, and give it a go. My 82yo Mom and her 78yo sister run it.

        *ever since I decided to quit giving money to the richest man in the world.

      3. Chris

        Went with Linux two years ago, never regretted. Got speed and more space and no longer have feeling that I am being constantly monitored….

        For MG, plant of day looks like an African Violet. Yes, pretty, but messy and, at least where I live, tree has been declared a weed. It is a very quick grower and will quickly take over big patches of rain forest.

        1. Harold

          I looked up African Violet tree and was redirected to African Tulip Tree, Spathodea campanulata, which I think is what you must have meant to say. I never heard of it, living in more northern regions, but it looks like that’s what it must be.

      4. Ian

        Brother swears by it. I set one up and you can highly personalize them, or stick with bare bones programs as it only does what you put in it. Constantly needs updating, the big difference is that you are taking responsibility for your system and have to put in more effort. End result though is a superior, safer system.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          When I ran Ubuntu some years ago, the updating process was very smooth. (It wasn’t a stone age nightmare of editing configuration files, like when I ran Red Hat back in the early 2000s.)

          It’s also much more granular and informative about updates than OS X, or whatever they’re calling it these days.

      5. Steve

        I’ve run Ubuntu, but not very intensely (just for my CNC router). The real issue is not Ubuntu or whatever flavor of Linux you want, but what application software is available? If you require xyz software and it is only available on a Mac, you have a problem.

        I was doing it coming from the PC world (we also have a Mac however). If you like MS Office, LibreOffice works great for me and is compatible for what I do. Also, you don’t have the silly ribbon.

        You can use virtualization software to create a virtual Mac or Windows machine on your Linux box, provided you have a Mac or Windows OS install disk. Then you could run xyz software and it would not know it wasn’t running on a Mac. Virtualization software like Virtual Box or Parallels.

        Easiest is if the software you want runs on Ubuntu. The rest takes more effort.

        1. Arizona Slim

          LibreOffice and a web browser would be sufficient. So, looks like I may be in the market for an Ubuntu machine.

          1. Propertius

            I’ve been running Linux on the desktop since the 0.92 kernel (back in the early 1990s – before there actually were prepackaged distros when you had to build everything yourself). I don’t actually run Ubuntu – for various reasons I run Fedora. That’s a personal preference issue, there’s nothing wrong with Ubuntu.

            Some really complex formatting may not be handled in a completely Word-compatible way by LibreOffice, but if you don’t have to interoperate with other authors on a complex document (e.g. a several hundred page formal technical response to a Federal RFP, complete with charts, footnotes, references, and indices), you should be fine.

      6. Elyse

        I have used Ubuntu on all my personal machines for several years. It is hard for me to judge (I have worked with UNIX machines since 1985) but I think Ubuntu may be better for a non-business non-developer user than a Linux in the Fedora/RedHat ecosystem — there is an active support community.

        The main tools I have not been able to find for Linux are US Tax prep software and some games, but I do sometimes need a Windows machine to access online meeting software required by customers. I expect the online meeting problem will decrease as Flash fades into history.

        If you use a lot of Java based software, you may need to learn more than you want about handling Java versions, but I have had that problem on Windows boxes, too.

        LibreOffice can often handle older MIcroSoft Office files formats better than the MS programs do.

        If you do a lot of work with graphics packages, test the ones available for Linux (or read up on them) to make sure they have the features you need. Bear in mind most packages have free versions that may do all you need.

        There are several flavors of user interfaces available: if you find you are not comfortable with the default desktop (which will be changing in the upcoming releases anyway) you may find one of the others more congenial.

        If you are coming from Apple, google to see which Ubuntu desktop interface other Mac users like best (I’ve never been a Mac user).

        Ubuntu releases come out every 6 months in April and October, with Long Term Support releases every 2 years and frequent security updates. I’m currently running 2016.04LTS on most of my systems, but the most recent release in 2017.04, and 2017.10 will come out in a few weeks.

        There are bootable Ubuntu images for DVDs and USB thumbdrives that can run on an existing machine without disturbing the currently installed OS on the hard-drive. If you decide on an Ubuntu version (or need to choose between a cuple of them) and want to experiment and get a feel for the user interface, playing with a booted disk or drive image might help you make up your mind.

        There are also instruction around for setting up a dual-boot system, with Linux on the hard drive in addition to the original OS. I have not done that in years, but some people are happier with those setups, especially if they need specific games or other software that are not available for Linux.

        I do my taxes and some work for customers by mounting a virtual Windows machine on my Linux box, but that is probably overkill for most users.

        If you want a new machine that is optimized for Linux and has customized Linux device drivers available, I highly recommend ‘System 76’ for reliable machines and excellent customer service. I have a big desktop-replacement laptop and a smaller one that I use while traveling. They ship with Ubuntu as their native OS.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I wasn’t aware of ‘System 76’ — THANKS for the reference to them. I ran across a ZD-Net rave from several years ago: [http://www.zdnet.com/article/saying-goodbye-to-my-system76-notebooks/] like few positive reviews I’ve ever seen. I will need to buy a new computer soon and now I know where to look.

          As for Ubuntu — I’ve used Ubuntu or Unix for so many years that working with Windows or Mac has become positively excruciating.

        2. Arizona Slim

          Thanks for the System 76 recommendation. I’ve heard good things about their machines, and, if memory serves correctly, the company makes them here in the US of A.

          Only issue I might have would be printing from the laptop. That is, unless I can shell over to Windows and print from there.

          And file sharing. I trust that I can save a file as .doc or .xls (or .docx and .xlsx) and Windows or Mac users would be able to open them.

          1. clinical wasteman

            I remember file format compatibility being a problem for a long time around the first half of the last decade, specifically in opening or converting .odt into anything functional on Mac OS9 and eventually OSX. But in the last few years this seems to have improved a lot (although don’t know if that’s also true for Windows users). Relatively old versions of OS X (i.e. those compatible with actual computers as opposed to offensively ‘seamless’ quasi-phones) now open .odt in almost any file format you please, and if there’s still a problem, online conversion software across all file types (well, definitely text and audio) is also way more reliable than it once was.

          2. HotFlash

            When I switched over to Linux (I am currently running Mint Rebecca) one of the reasons was that my mandatory Windows upgrade at the time — to W8 I think? — refused to talk to my old workhorse HP Laserjet. I was able to find a work-around from the Linux community that did, and by running WINE (WINdows Emulator, free download) I was able to use many dear old Windows programs that I hadn’t been able to run since, jeez, maybe Windows 98. Yeah, many games, even. I find it ironic that Mr Gates has stolen a great deal of my bought-and-paid-for software and hardware by making me ‘upgrade’ to a version of Windows that won’t run them, and then has the nerve to complain about ‘pirates’. But I digress.

            The Vintage Game Network has lots more emulators for free download, and the Linux distros and flavours have much free software — I use LibreOffice (it’ll even run my old Lotus spreadsheets!), GIMP for graphics, does everything I need, and Blue Griffon for my fairly modest html work.

            If you are skeered, you can do what I did, install your Linux right on your existing Windows system using the dual-boot option, so you can choose which OS you want for a given session at boot-up. Haven’t booted into windoze for so long I’d have to look up how to do it anymore…

          3. Anand Shah

            Linux CUPS is a very good equivalent to Windows Print Servers, in our company, we use it across the 24 branches, running linux CUPS on raspberry pi servers…

            even our 1800 ipads print off of these 24 linux CUPS servers… running off of 35$ raspberry pi servers…


            Secondly, I highly recommend hardware print servers…

            using these, you do not need to shift to windows to print…

      7. xformbykr

        I use Linux Mint (similar to Ubuntu) on my last two laptops. For both I installed via DVD after buying a Linux magazine with enclosed DVD for about $15. One can also download an installation image from the web, but the image is 2 gigabytes or more, and the instructions are more involved. I installed Linux Mint onto a solid-state disk, purchased especially for the installation. On an ASUS laptop, replacing the disk drive was easy, but on an HP laptop it was tricky. Search on youtube for “how to” videos for your particular laptop. As an alternative, you can leave your rotating hard drive, probably with Windows on it, in place and install Linux Mint to replace Windows altogether. good luck and have fun!

          1. xformbykr

            At the command line Mint and Ubuntu are just about identical. Ubuntu has been using a new-fangled desktop, while Mint’s desktop resembles older Ubuntu versions’ desktops. I also had better luck getting my wireless USB dongle to run with Mint vs. Ubuntu on my desktop. Over the years I’ve come to have a ‘comfort factor’ with Mint.

          2. diptherio

            Mint has more of a Windoze like interface, whereas Ubuntu is more Mac-like (I prefer Ubuntu Mate, which lets you do either). There are surely some other differences, but for a non-techy, that seems like the main thing.

          3. carycat

            I ran Ubuntu for many years until they lost their mind and tried to force a perfectly good desktop to look and act like a smartphone. That was when I switched to Mint and never looked back. I heard that the Ubuntu brain trust has finally come to their senses and now offer the same alternatives as Mint (which gives you look and feels that are more or less like older Windows that people like vs the abominations that Microsoft marketing tried to force upgrade people to).
            Since DVD drives are not as common anymore, a very workable option is to buy a USB stick (4GB is usually sufficient, 8GB definitely, so you are out less than USD $10, plus it is totally reusable) to download / install with. Plenty of articles and you tube videos on how to do it.
            One nice thing about Linux is that it usually is happy on older / less powerful hardware for comparable performance to the latest and greatest Windows or Mac. So a used laptop (the Lenovo’s are especially good for this) off eBay can be extremely cost effective.

      8. Daryl

        I have been a full-time user for a long time of Ubuntu and various other distributions. The only thing I would add is that if you have a laptop or are planning on purchasing one to run Linux, do plenty of research beforehand on what may not work. It is much better these days (there is a good chance things will “just work” after install) but there are a lot of sketchy PC laptops out there.

      9. Synoia

        Buy a RaspberryPi, $35, and a couple of micro sd cards and download ubuntu or Raspbian.

        That cuts your costs.

        Reuse you hdmi monitor or TV, and usb keybaord and mouse.

      10. Ook

        I’ve been on and off various Linuxes since the early 1990s. I would prefer to use Linux, but don’t. The things that keep me on Windows for my production machine:

        1. Windows has better 4K monitor support
        2. Skype video is better on Windows and sound is better in general
        3. Localization/Internationalization on Windows is significantly better (I run multi-language environments including double-byte languages)

      11. Lambert Strether Post author

        I ran a version of Ubuntu a few years ago and it was fine. The user interface wasn’t quite as slick as the Mac, and of course everything Mac is part of my muscle memory, so for me there were (relatively minor) productivity issues.

        If there is no software on the Mac you can’t live without (not quite the case with me, unfortunately), and you have no hardware with exotic drivers that might not have been written for Ubuntu, Ubuntu should be fine. In fact, my second backup machine is Ubuntu.

        Adding: But see Joe Defiant comment on lapses, supra.

    2. petal

      Our institution sent out an email to everyone this morning saying people should hold off on the upgrade because it could cause some (institutional) applications to not work.

    3. Propertius

      OY! Thanks, flora – I missed that one and was actually planning on doing the update this evening. I’m so glad the NC commentariat is back!

  2. JohnnyGL

    I wandered onto 538’s site today. Once in awhile they have decent stuff.

    For those election junkies who can’t get enough 2020 horse race news! :)
    Abridged version: top 4 picks are: Warren, Sanders, Biden, and Harris.

    This bit on protests winning the long game was good, too. Especially notable how unpopular those Vietnam War protests were when they first got big.

    1. Arizona Slim

      How well I remember! Those antiwar protesters were called dirty hippies and MUCH worse.

      In the end, they changed our country. And it only took a few years. The year 1970 was very different than 1960.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I second that thanks! I poked around Hard Crackers site a little. Another link — to a short entry — caught my interest: [http://www.hardcrackers.com/people-simply-empty/]. This link posted a letter from a formal Postal Worker turned writer by good fortune and the help of a benefactor. Reading this letter made me more aware of how very fortunate I am to be retired with modest comfort and security — and more importantly it reminded me of how much I’ve wasted my great good fortune and must change my ways. Life is short and only a fool would waste twenty or thirty years of freedom after a lifetime licking the boot that kicked me.

      1. jrs

        Good one, but they tell us work, if only we had a job guarantee would be good, when we know what WORK IS …

        (I do realize that some are arguing for localized (local government) socialism when they argue a job guarantee. And I don’t have a problem with this, I just don’t think they are upfront about their radicalism most of the time. But at any rate work is hell, under any capitalist ownership system, and many others as well!, and we know what work is).

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “8 ways to reduce the big threat posed by your ‘smart’ refrigerator”

    So now one basically needs to be at least the equivalent of an entry level IT professional in order not to get punked by the refrigerator – is this really supposed to be taken seriously?!?!?

    I think I’ll take your advice instead Lambert.

    1. Propertius

      I’m a pretty high-level IT professional, and I wouldn’t dream of buying one of these [family blog] things.

      1. Synoia

        Ah, the promi$e of the Internet Of Thing$, whose manufacturers are IdiOTs.

        If Exquifax cannot secured their IT systems, how will the IdiOTs be secured.


        Some years ago I had to fix my wife’s credit, and it was, Eqiufax who were suddenly reporting $3.3 Million in bad real estate debts.

        So I called, after discussing my wife’s recent shopping spree, and checking her Credit Card bills, where I could find no six digit purchases, and Equifax answered.

        Generally the credit bureau operators are, at best terse, but in this case they were attentive and passed me to a “Special Services Department” very quickly.

        Where to my astonishment they were very very polite.

        I suspect finally tracked down the cause: The Credit bureau was matching debtors to debts.

        This process has three possible results – Missing matches, Exact and Precise Matches, or False Positives.

        The first Missing Marches, leaves money on the table. The second Exact and Precise matches is impossible. The third is to be expected, and explains the “Special Services Department”.

        The Credit Bureau was matching Partial Names against Partial Addresses. Which make large assumptions about distributions in name spaces, that are not valid for my wife’s nationality.

        All I have to postulate is that the Credit Bureaus can make money by helping collections. I’d also point out that @false positives@ raise the specter of collecting the same debt more then once from similarly named people, which is the ultimate profitable activity.

        I also wonder how much “Identity Theft” is lubricated by the Credit Bureaus. First the get to collect debts multiple times, then the gt to sell a service, for which you pay, to catch their errors.

        That’s a nice business to do people with.

  4. Left in Wisconsin

    “Randy Bryce: Iron Stache or Iron Cash?” [Progressive Army]. Politics ain’t beanbag. On the other hand, after the Sanders run, it’s hard to see the requirement for the donor class at all.

    Well, I don’t think Ryan has a snowball in hell’s chance of being beaten, so maybe that makes me more skeptical of Iron Stache. The fact that he had an extremely well-produced video-movie ready to go on announcement day was the first sign for me that he had serious establishment support. His campaign manager is a well-known politico who is a partner in a Podesta Group-style consulting operation here that works “both” sides – but not our side as far as I know. Expanding the Enbridge pipeline that runs through the district is a big issue among lefties and ironworker Bryce apparently refuses to take a public position. And Joy Reid loves him!

    I know virtually nothing about Cathy Myers. This link was the first time I had heard her name. Bryce is routinely introduced as “Paul Ryan’s challenger.” There is no question that the local “progressives” – John Nichols, Working Families WI – have thrown in with Bryce.

  5. Annotherone

    Re the memory palaces piece : if I’m understanding the method correctly it sounds like a lot of hard work – more work than simply remembering the straight stuff.

    Common mnemonics are hard enough to deal with. Before the US citizenship oral test, in 2008, I was advised to commit to memory (among other things), the names of the 13 original states. I thought I was being helpful, to me, in constructing a mnemonic using the initial of each state. As I was then into things astrological I came up with:
    “Venus Mercury & Mars Retrograde Carry No News of Saturn; Neptune’s Nervous; Pluto Dominates Gemini”
    Then I found that just as difficult to remember as the actual states’ names! :) That question didn’t come up for me though – and I did pass muster.

    1. neighbor7

      I first encountered the memory palace material in two fascinating books:

      The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, by Jonathan Spence

      The Art of Memory, by Frances Yates

      The first concerns a 16th-century Jesuit missionary among the Chinese, the second is a thoroughgoing intellectual history including Bruno, Llull, Ramus. Both are more concerned with different ways of perceiving our “mental media” than with practical applications.

    2. DonCoyote

      My B.A. is in psychology, and mnemonics (memory strategies) have always seems to be one of those “this one may work for you, that one may work for someone else, and the third person is just SOL.” I can still remember “Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me Now “, learned in 8th grade astronomy for the letters (and order) of stellar spectral classification (letter/word mnemonics), and several years back created the ARID (At-Risk Identification Data) method of quantifying how “risky” students were. Wikipedia claims that “Mnemonics were seen to be more effective for groups of people who struggled with or had weak long-term memory, like the elderly.”

      In any case, the method of loci (memory palace) is one that seems to require more effort, but with potentially more payoff in terms of how much can be remembered. Simonides of ancient Greece was supposed to be its founder (and have quite a prodigious memory of his own). In any case, mention of a memory palace always makes me think of the scene in “Soldier of Arete”, where Simonides himself helps Latro (who has been injured and cannot form new long-term memories, but keeps a journal) to sacrifice to Mnemosyne (the mother of the nine muses, and the goddess of memory) and build a memory palace. One of my favorite quotes:

      I have taken the opportunity to read all that I wrote during the past three days. Of Cimon’s banquet, and our offering to Mnemosyne after it, I recall nothing; yet the memory of the palace remains vivid before my minds eye, more vivid even than the house in which I was born….It would be remarkable indeed if a man could remember only his dreams, but the truth is I can remember no other dream than that. Soldier of Arete, Gene Wolfe

      1. Jeff W

        I was a psychology major also and, while I might employ mnemonics really rarely, say, to memorize a list of items in order (e.g., ROY G BIV) that I will have to regurgitate, I find some of the typical mnemonic techniques almost less than helpful, especially for something like learning foreign languages. Imagining a horse being hit by a shovel to learn the world le cheval in French is too distracting—that intermediate shovel is something I feel like I have to work to forget, not remember. I’d much rather do something that is bit more like real-life behavior, like look at an image of a horse and try to name it: C’est un cheval.

        1. Basil Pesto

          That’s a nutso way to learn vocab! It’s worth pointing out that the image/word dynamic is used in Duolingo, and it’s more or less what was used in various ways in our high school french/latin textbooks (although we also had long vocab lists to learn/absorb as well)

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      The idea of a “memory palace” is reliant on more than bad verse. Memory includes a whole array of sensory input such as smell, touch, and taste. The goal is to make what one is remembering matter. Randomly associating two unrelated words doesn’t work. My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Nesteas (Niburu; thank you very much Neil Degrasse Tyson) wasn’t meant to help us remember the planets but to help with the order. We would simply fill in the planets. I barely remember this mnemonic device, but I suppose if I didn’t remember the order of the planets it might help.

      1. Wukchumni

        Those learning guitar chords are taught: Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually…

        When I was learning to fly, the emergency frequency is 121.5, or as I remembered it:

        Magna Carta

        1. JustAnObserver

          That just reminded me of learning to sail. It was in France so the mnemonic for left/right was batri = ba-bord/tri-bord. Needed one in English so came up with post = port/starbord.

          Been using it ever since …

        2. clinical wasteman

          A happier outlook, then, for the dealers of German guitarists, whose ‘b’ string is called ‘h’.

          ‘Home?’ ‘high?’ ‘heedless?’

      2. Oregoncharles

        It works better for me to visualize actual arrangements (eg, the solar system) – but then I can remember a route better from seeing a map than from following the route.

        It’s true that remembering the ORDER of things is more difficult than the things themselves.

    4. Jeff W

      That reminds me. In college I took an introductory geology course and figured I better memorize the geologic timeline in preparation for some exam or other. So I came up with “Presley can order silly devils, Carol permits trying juice…”—I don’t recall if it went on much longer— where the first two or three letters track those of the names of the various time periods—Precambrian, Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian and so on. I think some question involving those time periods actually did come up. It’s exactly forty years later and I still remember it, perhaps because it was one of the only times I used an actual mnemonic in school—it’s not so much that I remember the mnemonic, it’s that I remember that I used the mnemonic and, along with that, the mnemonic itself.

    5. funemployed

      I did it by accident once. Took the same train to work every day. Enough variation, even underground, that after a few months I always knew more or less exactly where I was. One day, I had a 25ish minute conversation with a coworker on the way home. Girlfriend asked what we talked about. 15 minutes later I realized that I had effortlessly shared every single detail of the conversation, in order (which would ordinarily be very impossible for me).

      I think the hard part is familiarizing yourself with enough details of a place, and then it gets easy.

  6. HopeLB

    At CMU, we freshmen/women were required to take a class about memory and learning techniques including Loci. We should be teaching our middle school children these techniques.

  7. Kim Kaufman

    More bad behavior from Harvard:

    Harvard Shames Itself by Staging a Koch-Sponsored Betsy Lovefest–No Dissenting Voices Allowed
    By dianeravitch
    September 25, 2017 //

    The Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University has always been pro-school choice, pro-charters, pro-vouchers.

    But now the PEPG–headed by the General of the School Choice Movement Paul Petersen–has outdone itself.

    It is staging a two-day celebration https://newrepublic.com/minutes/144980/betsy-devos-headlining-harvards-koch-backed-conference-school-choicewith-no-critics-school-choice of Betsy DeVos and the Trump agenda of public school-bashing, funded by the Koch Brothers and other rightwing foundations.

    There is nary a critic of this radical rightwing agenda, not as a presenter or a panelist.

    The conference is called “The Future of School Choice.”

    The Charles Koch Foundation is a major funder, but after it became clear that his name was embarrassing, it was removed from the list of sponsors.

    How shameful that Harvard would lend its name to a one-sided effort to cheer on the destruction of public education and would give a platform to a woman with no academic credentials.

    As the writer for the New Republic, Graham Vyse, points out, the Harvard Institute of Politics invited Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski to accept fellowships, so the University apparently has low standards.

    Apparently Jeff Sessions is about to give a speech about “free speech” in which he will decry “political correctness” on campus, meaning I assume the refusal to debate issues.

    Do you think he will single out Harvard’s PEPG for refusing to hold a debate about the future of school choice and excluding those who recognize the civic importance of public education and the failure of charters and vouchers to live up to their claims?

    I’m not holding my breath.

    I am adding Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance to this blog’s Wall of Shame for its failure to permit even the most minimal expectations of academic and scholarly fairness, and for turning itself into a propaganda mill for the privatization movement, at the behest of Big Money.

    1. Vatch

      Thanks for this. One would think that Harvard, with an endowment fund estimated to be worth more than $37 billion, would not need to go begging for tainted Koch brothers money. The policies of Betsy DeVos (Education), along with those of Scott Pruitt (EPA), and Jeff Sessions (Justice), are among the very worst manifestations of the Trump administration.

      1. JTMcPhee

        See the NatGeo article Lambert linked to on addiction, for maybe a clue why Harvard’s trustees can never pass up the white powder of “donations.” Maybe there’s a way to lay that pulsing electronic coil next to the noggins of Blankfein and the Koch boys and all the others…?

        1. Old Jake

          One would suspect some kind of organizational dysfunction like the development staff gets paid based on the funds raised, so they can’t help themselves, they are out there scratching for every last penny whether the establishment really needs it or not.

  8. clarky90

    One hundred years ago, The Provisional Russian Government of Russia (a progressive Democracy) was still in power. In just four more weeks, the World was about to change……..


    The declaration of The Provisional Government

    “Full and immediate amnesty on all issues political and religious, including: terrorist acts, military uprisings, and agrarian crimes etc.

    Freedom of word, press, unions, assemblies, and strikes with spread of political freedoms to military servicemen within the restrictions allowed by military-technical conditions.

    Abolition of all hereditary, religious, and national class restrictions.

    Immediate preparations for the convocation on basis of universal, equal, secret, and direct vote for the Constituent Assembly which will determine the form of government and the constitution.

    Replacement of the police with a public militsiya and its elected chairmanship subordinated to the local authorities.

    Elections to the authorities of local self-government on basis of universal, direct, equal, and secret vote.

    Non-disarmament and non-withdrawal out of Petrograd, the military units participating in the revolution movement.

    Under preservation of strict discipline in ranks and performing a military service – elimination of all restrictions for soldiers in the use of public rights granted to all other citizens.

    It also said, “The provisional government feels obliged to add that it is not intended to take advantage of military circumstances for any delay in implementing the above reforms and measures.”

    Then On October 25, 1917, The Bolsheviks seize power.

    This is “a” beginning of a mass, worldwide, hysteria that, sadly, still rages.

    1. Roland

      The “Provisional Government” in Petrograd was never really a government. “Imaginary Government” might be a more accurate term.

      Throughout the course of 1917, more and more places in the Russian Empire were being governed by ad hoc local committees after the Tsarist regime’s authority broke down. Most of these committees did not recognize the “Provisional Government.”

      For example, when the USA in mid-1917 sent a high-level delegation to Russia, including former Presidential candidate Elihu Root, upon landing in Vladivostok nobody from the “Provisional Government” was there to greet them. Vlaidivostok was being governed by its own council, which heeded or ignored the “Provisional Government” as it saw fit.

      The “Provisional Government” never had control over most of the armies or fleets. The Black Sea fleet did not obey the Provisional Government. The armies on the northern half of the front did not obey the Provisional Government. When Kerensky tried to organize a summer offensive in 1917, it wasn’t like he he wasn’t issuing orders. Instead, he went from division to division on the southern part of the front, trying to persuade troops to adopt his idea.

      The “Provisional Government” never even had proper control of the imperial capital. The combined workers’ and soldiers’ committee had de facto control over most aspects of everyday life in Petrograd (although the “Petrograd Soviet,” like the “Provisional Government,” had little recognized authority over anywhere else in the Empire).

      The reason why the “Provisional Government” has a high profile in our histories is that Russia’s allies were hoping that this group of people would be able to govern, and keep Russia in the war.

      1. uncle tungsten

        Thank you Roland for that “imaginary government” line. That’s what I consider the USA government to be right now. A faux president with a faux legislature and a utterly devious and malicious deep state.

        If only October 2017 for the USA resembled 1917 for Russia perhaps the global slaughter might abate.

  9. Daryl

    MongoDB going public is pretty horrific. I don’t really see any new projects with MongoDB these days. It seems like they have nowhere to go but down as various cloud offerings grow and noSQL-like functionality is added to more traditional database software with vastly better track records of stability.

  10. Jim

    The “Rainbow Coalition or Class War?” post raises many important issues.

    When speaking of the transformation of Tom Watson, Ignatiev says:

    “How to explain the change? It was not a result of corruption, bribery or personal betrayal; in fact, it was not personal at all, but representative of a general problem In U.S. history and there was logic in it.”

    Lawrence Goodwyn in “Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America,” takes an opposite tact in attempting to explain the transfomation of Watson:

    “The frustration of his Populist years dogged Watson through a hopeless 1908 campaign in which he served as the last presidential candidate of the die-hard Populist remnant. After more than a decade of stolen elections and what he regarded as fusionist betrayals, Watson became extremely embittered. He eventually blamed Blacks, Catholics and Jews for his own and the nation’s political difficulties. He became a violently outspoken white supremacist. In the twilight of a life steeped in personal tragedy and blunted dreams and flawed at its end by the political malice he had developed as a battered campaigner. Watson in 1920 won a surprising victory and became a United States Senator from Georgia. He died in office in 1922.

    Goodwyn seems to see the transformation of Watson as being significantly influenced by personal imperfection by personal betrayal while Ignatiiev argues that:

    “… the only way to overcome this divisions within the white working class is to confront them directly. The problem of white supremacy must be fought out openly within the working class. Without a direct challenge to the race differential and to the institutions that reproduce it, all denunciations of white supremacy and all appeals for working-class unity, are empty words. In fact, they may do more harm than good, as shown in the history of Tom Watson.”

    Personal betrayal and personal imperfection or socially constructed social structures?

    The choice of frameworks may determine the degree of viciousness involved in future conflicts around race.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Personal betrayal and personal imperfection or socially constructed social structures?

      “It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!”

      There’s that “or” word again…

  11. Wukchumni

    Somehow there’s a Cinderella story about the little class slipper not fitting the crime, in this Ivanka tale of owe.

  12. ewmayer

    “One individual who is familiar with an aspect of the Mueller inquiry but asked to not be named told New York that, unlike other federal probes that he’s seen in action, where prosecutors build their cases from clear allegations, this one feels different. ‘This is a backward investigation,’ the individual said.”

    — Someone please tell the author that we have a perfectly good colloquialism for this sort of thing, in the form of “fishing expedition.” I know, hard to fill up a word-count target with that sort of concise brevity…

  13. joe defiant

    I just want to say reading the comments here let’s me know that while I don’t know much I’m at least looking in the right places. Thanks to all the people contributing and especially the people who make the site and the comments possible.

  14. stefan

    If you really want to learn about memory, read “The Art of Memory” by Dame Frances Yates.

    The archetypal image of the poet wandering through an empty building is a picture of the orator placing the parts of a speech in the rooms of a memory palace, to be recollected by the mind’s eye later on while speaking.

  15. Jess

    In case anyone missed it, Anthony Weiner got 21 months in jail for sexting that 15 year-old girl. Way to go, Carlos Danger. (Hint to Weiner: most prison inmates really don’t like pedo’s.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Speculating very freely here, but one can’t help but remember that half the data on Clinton’s famous server was destroyed, never to be seen by anyone but Clinton’s lawyers (and of course whoever read the mail). And one can’t help but wonder if the destroyed material included not only mail about Chelsea’s wedding and Clinton’s yoga lessons (as the official story goes), but mail between Clinton and Huma Abedin about how to handle her (Huma’s) sex offender husband. Just a thought.

  16. skippy

    Trump says Puerto Rico’s debt ‘must be dealt with’

    US President Donald Trump said Puerto Rico is in “deep trouble” and that its billions of dollars of debt to Wall Street and banks “must be dealt with”.

    “Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.

    “It’s (sic) old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

    Mr Trump did not offer a pathway for dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt.

    The US territory, struggling with $US72 billion ($90.6 billion) in debt, filed the biggest government bankruptcy in US history earlier this year. – snip


      1. skippy

        Don’t you love the old bought too much house short skirt excuse to cover up the looting…. and then when it triumphantly goes boom… its the people that got whacked [force majeure] – twice – sins [so Pat R.]…

        disheveled…. seems MUD bond holders in Houston live in another reality….

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