2:00PM Water Cooler 10/11/2017

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“It’s the first day of what could be a defining round of NAFTA talks…. the talks could see some of the thorniest U.S. proposals thrown onto the negotiating table, including on automotive rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement, a five-year “sunset” provision and a bid to rid the agreement of its trade remedy dispute provisions. Still unclear is whether those proposals are merely starting points for negotiations or red lines that will send the talks into free fall” [Politico].

“Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro and four other House Democrats will urge NAFTA 2.0 negotiators today to drop the investor-state dispute settlement process from any renegotiation, arguing that ISDS makes it easier for companies to outsource jobs and forgo public health protections. Policies like ISDS “have no place in any version of a trade agreement. The American people deserve a new trade model that is not crafted by corporations. … The people of our nation want a trade deal that works for them, not for the wealthy and corporations with the most lobbyists,” DeLauro told Morning Trade in a statement” [Politico].


Puerto Rico

Again the story that the goods are stuck on the docks. WTF?

Trump Transition

“Justices end 4th Circuit travel-ban challenge” [SCOTUSblog]. “In a brief order issued this evening, the justices sent Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot – that is, no longer a live controversy.”


“Senate Democrats worry Russia could jeopardize reelection bids” [Politico]. No, not their hysteria about Russia. Boris and Natasha. They’ve self-gaslighted themselves…


“Steve Bullock and the Lost Art of Political Persuasion” [Politico]. Donna Brazile and Celinda Lake are all in for this dude, a centrist Montana governor who knows how to work across the aisle. Say no more! Say no more!

New Cold War

Cheeky (I):

Yes, that’s DC in the background.

Cheeky (II):

There’s a deeper message there, when you think about it…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Second Gilded Age and Its Discontents” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. A panegyric to a Bruce Mehlman PowerPoint Presentation. Nevertheless: “He portrays a vertical class-war axis pitting insiders (Goldman Sachs is good, globalization works, America should lead the world) against outsiders (tax the rich, trade is bad, punish Wall Street, stop nation-building). Then he paints a more traditional left-right horizontal axis with immigration, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, and gun-control advocates on the Left pitted against white-identity activists on the Right who want less immigration, strongly support the Second Amendment, and think racial and LGBTQ issues are overblown.” Oddly, for both Mehlman and Cook, “class war” and “the left” are on different axes.

Listen and learn:

“How to save America by running for Middletown Township auditor” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News].

“The real fix for gerrymandering is proportional representation” [Matt Yglesias, Vox].

Stats Watch

JOLTS, August 2017: “Job openings held steady at a very abundant 6.082 million in August while hirings remained far behind, at 5.430 million” [Econoday]. “In an early indication of full employment, the gap between openings and hiring first opened up about 2-1/2 years ago signaling that employers are either not willing to offer high enough pay to fill empty positions and/or are having a hard time finding people with the right skills. At 652,000, the current spread between openings and hirings is one of the very widest on record.” And: “Job openings are mostly moving sideways at a high level, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This is another strong report” [Calculated Risk]. But: “I read this as weakening demand and employers unwilling to pay up to hire, and maybe even posting openings to replace existing workers at lower wages” [Mosler Economics]. (“[P]osting openings to replace existing workers” is impressively devious.)

Commodities: “Until now, investors looking for safe-haven assets used to turn to gold or Treasuries. Not anymore. A Singapore-based exchange began trading Tuesday a new standardized diamond product that aims to become one of the most-sought shelters from global risks” [Mining.com]. “Launched by the Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX), the new product is designed to store and display investment-grade polished gems sourced at wholesale prices on SDiX and issued in standard denominations of about $100,000 and $200,000 each.” I’m filing this under “Commodities” to be safe. But–really?

Shipping: “US box imports remain buoyant” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “US box import levels are continuing at ‘unusually’ high levels this month after setting new volume records in July and August, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report produced by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates…. ‘Growth has slowed from the first half of the year, but 2017 is expected to total 19.8 million TEU, topping last year’s previous record of 18.8 million TEU by 5.4%,’ said the report.”

Shipping: “For truckload carriers and their customers, the moment of truth has arrived” [DC Velocity]. “For years, trucking executives have warned that ultra-tight capacity, brought about by a long-term shortage of trucks and drivers, would need only a sustained U.S. economic recovery to lead to a significant upward movement in freight rates. That time may finally have come. Talk around the first day of the CSCMP EDGE 2017 annual meeting in Atlanta was that noncontract, or spot, rates, which have surged throughout the summer, will continue to climb….One rumor making the rounds is that a large, unidentified truckload carrier is prepared to increase rates by 10 percent across the board, and plans to do so in very short order.”

Shipping: “Drone deliveries are stuck in a holding pattern, at least in the U.S. An advisory panel meant to recommend rules for operating drone couldn’t agree on proposals…, a potentially serious setback for efforts to expand commercial drone operations. The committee couldn’t reach consensus on basic questions over the categories of drones that should require remote monitoring and tracking. That will make it more difficult for federal regulators to set rules that would satisfy law-enforcement agencies, hobbyists and companies that are looking to add drones to their business mix—including delivery operators” [Wall Street Journal]. “There’s some consensus on smaller drones, but it may take two or three more years to develop technical standards for communication links and collision avoidance technology for larger drones flying at higher altitudes.”

Housing: “San Francisco housing still in manic phase: Dump that is “uninhabitable” with fire damage has pending offer at $1.4 million” [Dr. Housing Bubble].

Retail: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shifting its growth strategy from storefronts to the web. The retailer will open fewer than 25 new U.S. stores in its next fiscal year and undertake other cost-cutting measures aimed at freeing up funds to go in part toward building up its e-commerce capabilities” [Wall Street Journal]. “The retailer is adding new delivery and click-and-collect options for groceries, and it expects recent acquisitions to boost online sales some 40% next year.”

Retail: “After a failed effort to find a solution to save the company, Sears Canada said on Tuesday that it would shut down operations, leaving about 12,000 employees out of work” [New York Times]. “Aside from the employees who will lose their jobs, about 18,000 retirees of Sears Canada may be facing cuts to their pension payments. The company’s pension plan has a deficit of nearly 270 million Canadian dollars. In a victory for the pensioners, a judge froze payments to other creditors last month until the pension issue is resolved. But the fate of the compensation and benefits of the company’s current employees was unclear.”

Concentration: “FCC’s claim that one ISP counts as ‘competition’ faces scrutiny in court” [Ars Technica].

Tech: “Accenture left a huge trove of highly sensitive data on exposed servers” [ZDNet]. “The servers, hosted on Amazon’s S3 storage service, contained hundreds of gigabytes of data for the company’s enterprise cloud offering, which the company claims provides support to the majority of the Fortune 100.” Oopsie.

The Bezzle: “Ford’s Chariot shuttles are expanding to New York City” [TechCrunch]. Note Silicon Valley’s crocodile tears about delays for public transit.

The Bezzle: “Despite dire warnings from security experts, only about a quarter of the U.S. adult population checked their credit score or credit report in the first two weeks after the breach, according to a new survey from the credit website CreditCards.com, which asked 1,000 U.S. adults about their credit habits between Sept. 21 and Sept. 24” [MarketWatch].

The Bezzle: “How to spot fake Amazon reviews” [CNET]. There are software tools. But they yield very different results!

The Bezzle: “Blockchain company Ripple says it has $15bn war chest” [Financial Times]. “The head of Ripple, one of the biggest blockchain companies, has said its $15bn of cryptocurrency reserves could be used to acquire or partner with rivals, as it seeks to dominate its fast-moving sector within financial technology.”

The Bezzle: “There’s a link between CEOs who torture the English language and poor stock performance” [MarketWatch]. “The researchers scored the complexity of the language used by executives. They went further, using the recorded transcripts to track executives’ pauses, repetition of words and other factors to incorporate the ‘tone’ of the call into their statistical analysis. ‘Academic research shows when management is trying to hide bad news, they use language that is not easily understood. In so doing, they eat up time, so there is less time for the Q&A with the analysts on the call,” [David Pope, managing director of Quantamental Research] said in an interview Oct. 9. ‘Only 20% of communication is verbal,’ he said, highlighting the importance of the analysis of earnings call ‘metadata’ for pauses and other indicators.” With handy tables for the top and bottom 10 bafflegabblers; I’m not seeing a direct correlation between ticker and total returns and bafflegab, though.

Five Horsemen: “Alphabet powers out of the cellar in a fresh bid for greatness” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Oct 11

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 83 Extreme Greed (previous close: 85, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 91 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 11 at 11:38am.

Health Care

We have the greatest health care system in the world. Thread:

We have the greatest health care system in the world:

“Almost half of all money raised through crowdfunding is going toward medical expenses” [Business Insider]. “Medical campaigns make up $930 million of the $2 billion raised on GoFundMe, according to NerdWallet. Almost half of the $800 million raised on YouCaring, another crowdfunding platform, went towards medical expenses, Bloomberg reports.”

“Popular Enough to Live: A Reading List About Crowdfunding Health Care” [Long Reads]. “Crowdfunding takes time, energy, and a knack for marketing. Not everyone has these privileges or skills, and when it comes to paying medical bills or seeking life-saving surgeries, that chasm can be fatal.”

“Early Medicaid Expansion Associated With Reduced Payday Borrowing In California” [Health Affairs]. Which, I suppose, would be why Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t support #MedicareForAll.

“With breast cancer, privatized Medicaid adds insult to injury” [Des Moines Register]. “Fittings Unlimited in Urbandale is one of a few local vendors of supplies related to post-mastectomy care. It has a sign in its store saying Medicaid payment is no longer accepted, so Medicaid patients must pay in cash. The sign went up in June and blames untimely reimbursements from the state’s recently privatized Medicaid system. It directs people to call the governor’s office with questions. ”

“Our family, friends and communities deserve Medicare for all: Guest opinion” [OregonLive]. “One of my patients without insurance received a $100,000 hospital bill after a heart attack and newly diagnosed congestive heart failure. She has declined all recommended follow up tests, specialist care and cardiac rehabilitation due to the cost. I had a young patient in his 20s who developed worrisome neurological symptoms that warranted tests to rule out a stroke. But he declined hospital admission as his insurance required a $3,000 copay. A father had a bicycle accident requiring life-saving emergency care for a broken pelvis and fractured arm. The emotional toll from his accident was compounded by the shock of a $5,000 deductible bill, and the stress of the resulting collections agency calls and threat of home foreclosure. Patients’ financial stress has become a routine part of our medical practices.”

“Could there be a way to preserve Medicare for All’s simplicity and its guarantee of universal health care access while cutting its cost and increasing its bipartisan appeal?” [Ed Dolan, New York Times]. “Universal catastrophic coverage just might be the idea that could bridge the gap. So far, the idea has gotten more attention in conservative circles, but if liberals would give it a careful look, they would find a lot to like.” Dolan is a libertarian, so it looks like we’ve reached the bargaining stage.


“The annual meeting [of the governors of the World Bank] is the first since the OECD released a remarkable document, one that subtly but unmistakably damns the development community for failing to curb corruption in the projects it finances. In skillfully-crafted prose that points the finger at no one miscreant while charging all with dereliction of duty, the OECD’s Council for Development identifies weaknesses large and small in the corruption prevention efforts of both bilateral and multilateral development organizations and urges major reforms. Corruption in development projects not only defeats the reason development aid is provided but, as the council stresses, many times leaves the recipient worse off than had no aid been extended in the first place” [Global Anticorruption Blog].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s “Responsible Encryption” Demand is Bad and He Should Feel Bad” [Electronic Frontier Foundation].


“Fish farm has 60 days to fix net pens outside Seattle as 1 million Atlantic salmon move in” [Seattle Times (RS)].

“Superior is no longer the clearest of the Great Lakes” [MRP News].

Class Warfare

“Race, Economics and Reality” [Actify Press]. “Nothing is more intersectional in American life than money.” What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.

“Danny Meyer, David Chang, Others Sued Over No-Tipping ‘Conspiracy'” [Eater] (the suit). “A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in California federal court names several Bay Area and New York restaurants — including those owned by no-tipping pioneer Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group — as defendants, and claims that no-tipping policies are ‘part of a conspiracy to charge [diners] more for their food.'”

News of the Wired

“Swiss prosecutors are trying to figure out why someone apparently attempted to flush tens of thousands of euros down the toilet at a Geneva branch of UBS Group AG” [Bloomberg]. See Marietta’s memo, “NEW TP POOL REGULATIONS,” from Snow Crash, for one possible explanation.

Look at these horrid titles:

Reads like an airport bookstore “Business” section. O’Reilly! O mores!

“William Gibson interviewed: Archangel, the Jackpot, and the instantly commodifiable dreamtime of industrial societies” [Boing Boing]. Something discordant about this interview, but I can’t figure out what.

“Google’s new browser experiment lets you learn about basic AI” [The Verge]. “Just hit the ‘train green/purple/orange’ buttons, and the machine will record whatever it can see through your webcam. Once it’s ‘learned’ enough…” What could go wrong?

“Think of Thelonious Monk” [The New Yorker]. Or listen:

* * *

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 (GF):

GF writes: “Attached is a flowering plant similar to the recent photo of a morning glory; but it’s from here in AZ: the famous Datura from Carlos Castaneda’s infamous book series The Tales of Don Juan. I took the photo while walking near my house in Prescott, AZ in June. They grow wild around here and the desert regions of AZ as well as other locales.”

Readers, thanks for the nice pictures of plants! Now I have a little bit of a stash.

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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. NotTimothyGeithner

    This profile on the Montana Governor is so effing stupid. It almost makes Zuckerberg seem like a sensible choice. I guess he’s from Montana and likes cooperation. Wow! The worst part is they seem to think he will play well in New Hampshire because he is white like so many New Hampshirite Democrats who just voted for Sanders.

    Wow and it closes with a Republican testimonial on what a great guy he is. If this bum gets a speaking slot at the DNC in 2020 at anytime before 2 AM EDT, Trump will be reelected.

  2. Huey Long

    RE: Ford Chariots

    I had to do an internet search to figure out just what the heck these are; apparently they’re an Uberized corporate incarnation of what are popularly known in the NYC metro area as “dollar vans.”


    I’m not quite sure how they plan to make money as their overhead is likely higher than existing dollar van operators who don’t have to pay for an app and the salaries for a bunch of suits.

    I’m guessing they’ll either burn investor cash a la Uber in an attempt to bully out the competition and then jack up prices when they have a monopoly OR burn investor cash on lobbying efforts to get NYPD to crack down on unlicensed dollar van operators.

  3. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re Bullock

    From the article, I agree that Brazille is an anti-endorsement. But I don’t like the criticism predicting black voters in Detroit wouldn’t vote for him either. I wish I had a more comprehensive view of his record; according to the article, there’s years of a track record going against dark money in elections, and even electoral success as a result; there’s success in raising the minimum wage; there’s a commitment to actually campaigning everywhere, not just in comfortable spots, and in listening, not just preaching/condescending. If he supported Medicare for All (and I don’t care if he stays out of it for now, and the ‘litmus test’ comment is not necessarily code for opposing it) and isn’t a reactionary on reproductive rights there’s potentially a lot to like.

    1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

      oops, meant *legislative* success on dark money as a result of years of working on it, not electoral success

    2. Abigail Caplovitz Field

      oops, meant *legislative* success on dark money as a result of years of working on it, not electoral success

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Medicare 4 All is too popular to not be a litmus test. A politician who has reservation on the matter isn’t fit to be dog catcher on a dogless island. They would fail at that. The people injured in Las Vegas need GoFund me pages to pay their medical bills. If you weren’t for Medicare 4 All during the Sanders bill introduction, a politician should probably just retire.

      A candidate who runs on being a white guy liked by Republicans isn’t going to win more votes than an actual corpse running as a Democrat. Black turnout in 1996 is estimated to be the lowest African American turnout since before the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Democrats have seen sharp drops since 2012 in minority turnout. They saw a sharp drop in 2010. It is a concern how a politician would play, and if they just run on being friendly Republicans, they will lose just like Hillary.

      1. Vatch

        litmus test

        The House bill HR676 is up to 120 co-sponsors. That’s more than 27% of the House of Representatives. The Sanders bill S1804 is stuck at 16 co-sponsors, which is only 16% of the Senate (17% if Sanders is included). Perhaps people should ask their Senators why they haven’t co-sponsored ti.

          1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

            It’s a litmus test for me, in terms of the candidates I’ll support and work for, and the only sane policy. And I want Dems only to run candidates that support Medicare for all, though I doubt they will. I just meant I didn’t translate saying that into anything in particular. I’m not sure if you asked Bernie: ‘Should Medicare for All be a litmus test?’ that he would say “yes.”

            If Bullock is a center right corporate Democrat or even a center or center left corporate Democrat, I’m not interested. I want don’t want a corporate subsidiary president. I don’t want the second coming of Tim Kaine or Chaffee or any of them. I want someone who runs strongly on issues and doesn’t just virtue signal but actually gets something done. I also want someone who doesn’t patronize me and who actually goes to places that are out of their comfort zone to actually communicate with people.

            I think voters in general (black in Detroit or white in Arkansas) are ready to vote for someone they think is right on the issues, has credibility on the issues because they have a track record and they walk the talk in their own lives. I think the issues & the right position on them will reflect change–a real break from the neoliberal crushing of the past decades. E.g. Medicare for All.

            I would be surprised if Bullock was someone I could really like, but I’m open to ideas from outside the normal names. Who the 2020 candidate is/should be isn’t something I really think about much now, though, it’s much too early.

            1. Vatch

              Who the 2020 candidate is/should be isn’t something I really think about much now, though, it’s much too early.

              Yes, absolutely, we need to do some good in 2018 before we think much about 2020. There are even a few places that will have elections later in 2017.

    4. diptherio

      He’s of the milquetoast, corporate Dem variety that has given us Baucus and Tester…which is to say, don’t get your hopes up.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Does anyone remember O’Malley and Chaffee candidacies? Or the most recent Democratic VP nominee? Kaine is a man so forgettable in all aspects no one ever brought up the 2010 wipe out that happened on his watch at the DNC.

        What really drives me crazy isn’t that Bullock is a run of mill center-right who wants to be liked, its that they would still put a Donna Brazille testimonial in an obvious puff piece. Why not get Hugh Hefner to talk about the importance of a chaste lifestyle to pregnant teens?

        If Bullock wants to run or anyone, they pick a few issues and get out in front of them. They aren’t going to out token Kamala Harris, and the strategy of appeasing “white flight” Republicans is never going to work. “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.” -John Kerry 2004. I bet this line was cooked up to win “white flight” Republicans.

  4. Quentin

    RT, brilliant. Some might even blame them for HRC’s so-called book tour = cow cash exhibitionism.

      1. JustAnObserver

        As an ex-Brit long disillusioned by England’s dismal performances the Russian Embassy one was so accurate its painful.

        Playing with their heads in Faraday cages won’t make the slightest difference to their goal scoring.

  5. Wukchumni

    We have datura growing all over the place here, and in this age of demented drugs, it never caught on really. I know of 4 or 5 people that tried it, and each time it was a bit of a nightmare situation for them.

    The indians considered it sacred, and the Unabankers of the tribes around here were the Chumash, as the most valuable item around these parts was shells, and they had a veritable shitlode of them being on the coast, and the value only increased farther away from the ocean’s shore.

    They used it a lot, and their wall art is a testament to it’s powers.

    I’ve seen more indian wall art than most people, and can usually discern what they were trying to say, but the Chumash were a different breed of cat when it came to artistry. I’ve been to dozens of sites of theirs and the ‘gimme’ is painted cave, just off of SR 154, 11 miles from Santa Barbara, go check it out!

    Here’s an armchair version for everybody else that can’t make the journey:


    1. Huey Long

      I’ve never heard of Datura until today, so I wikipedia’d it real quick and here’s what it said under the “effects of ingestion” heading:

      Due to the potent combination of anticholinergic substances it contains, Datura intoxication typically produces effects similar to that of an anticholinergic delirium (usually involving a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis (dilated pupils) with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect.[18]

      In Pharmacology and Abuse of Cocaine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Related Designer Drugs, Freye asserts: Few substances have received as many severely negative recreational experience reports as has Datura. The overwhelming majority of those who describe their use of Datura find their experiences extremely unpleasant both mentally and often physically dangerous.[18] However, anthropologists have found that indigenous groups, with a great deal of experience with and detailed knowledge of Datura, have been known to use Datura spiritually (including the Navajo and especially the Havasupai).[19][20] The knowledge of Datura’s properties was critical to minimize harm.[6]

      Yikes! This stuff sounds like one heckuva bad trip! I assume the Navajo and Havasupai had some sort of ritual/protocol they developed over the ages to provide the right set and setting for the use of this substance because taking it sure doesn’t sound fun.

      1. Wukchumni

        A friend told me to stick your nose into the flower and breathe deep, but i’m not going there, as I might’ve undersold the nightmare part.

        One fellow I know was a mess for 3 days after ingesting, and just the sight of a plant gives him the heebie-jeebies to this day, many decades later.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        Years ago, I read about Hernando de Soto’s men ingesting jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) and going mad for days during their tromp through Alabama.

        1. s.n.

          Hernando de Soto’s men ingesting jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) and going mad for days during their tromp through Alabama.
          Reply ↓

          too lazy to goggle it but the story i heard was that jimsonweed is named for Jamestown, and the first English settlers, just off the boat, confused the plant with some sort of greenery they were familiar with and made themselves a hearty salad which sent them into oblivion for five days. They all survived no worse for the experience which they could not recall a moment of. btw I knew a datura ‘head’ who regularly ingested and went off on lengthy out-of-body trips. Very creepy fellow whom i suspected was placing ground datura seed dust into and onto whatever he could (opened milk cartons, doorknobs, on pillow covers) in my house just for the sheer malignant pleasure of it. Ditto on the backpacker trail in India / Nepal, various bandits tried their luck getting western neophytes to smoke chillum laced with d.

      3. polecat

        It’s no wonder Don Jaun sewed up a lizard’s mouth while ministering to his pupil ..
        I mean, that’s what I’d probably be doing if I too ingested Datura … well, that and astroplanning, I suppose.

  6. David, by the lake

    Minor correction to the Vox quote: the solution to gerrymandering is proportional representation •within each state’s House of Representatives delegation.• Yes, direct representation is lost, but state identity is retained and the ability for minority views to be expressed, plus the end of gerrymandering, is worth the exchange, I’d argue.

    At the state level, a unicameral assembly, proportionally elected. Work off of Nebraska’s unicameral model — state senates are unnecessary and have no basis paralleling the federal Senate, since states are coherent polities and not comprised of sovereign components.

    1. Scott

      And looking at the situation in Germany, proportional representation combined with coalition governments appears to ensure that neo-liberal parties remain in power as the far left and the far right will never agree to anything and may not even get seats. A feature, not a bug as many here would say.

      1. Darius

        The collapse of the institutional left in Germany and worldwide can’t be attributed to proportional representation.

        Proportional representation works better with medium-sized districts, ie. 5-7 members. Larger districts leads to a multitude of splinter parties, like in Israel.

  7. Byron the Light Bulb

    Heh, heh…RT…state security organs. So playful. An instrument of state power grows up to be a state power in its own right, so fast.

    1. cojo

      I find it fascinating that RT is broadcasting so many progressive American voices, probably more than any other cable channel. I cannot believe for one moment that they are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts and the principles of the enlightenment.

      And then it hit me…
      This whole Russia spat can be broken down to one thing, best paraphrased from a quote from Animal House:
      Otter: He {Russia} can’t do that to our pledges {citizens}.

      Boon: Only we {mass media} can do that to our pledges {citizens}.

  8. Wukchumni

    Come and listen to a story about a thing called the Fed
    Now over a century old, some say it ought to be dead
    Then one day because of this here Bernanke dude
    And up from the modem came a whole lotta loot
    QE that is, hacked gold, as much as you please

    Well the first thing you know it goes to the billionaires
    The feeling was it’d trickle on down from there
    Said Wall*Street is the place it ought to be
    So they bought a ton of MBS and stocks on the cheap
    Shills that is, money pools, CEO stars

    Well now we said goodbye to Ben, but not his kin
    We want to thank Yellin for steppin’ in
    She’s invited to keep on giving to this locality
    To have a heapin’ helping of her hospitality

    Free money that is, an easy sell, take the risk off
    Y’all come back now, y’hear?

    1. Jim Haygood

      This calls for a round of new highs for all — Dow daiquiris; S&P sours; Nasdaq nutcrackers.

      Just put it on my margin tab.

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks to all for the plaudits…

        The beauty of pitching humor online as a sit-down comedian, is you need not worry about your delivery, as one very seldom forgets punchlines, especially when you’re making it up as you go.


    There’s a link between CEOs who torture the English language and poor stock performance

    Whether you’re a CEO trying to polish a financial turd, a student trying to desperately turn a D- paper into a C paper, or an Internet smart guy trying to make your narcissistic philosophy sound deep and and nuanced, World Salad is there to obfuscate your incompetence.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Now, Now! That’s really unfair on innocent Lettuces whose only crime is thinking they’re just temporarily embarrassed greenbacks.

  10. allan

    The health care tweet thread: “This story begins on Monday evening, while I was playing soccer.”

    Fun fact: eviCore Healthcare, the firm referred to in the thread,
    which Aetna uses for outsourced-preauthorization-for-an-MRI-talk-to-the-hand denials,
    is being snapped up by ExpressScripts for $3.6 billion because markets
    everyone in the sector is bulking up in fear of Amazon diversifying into health benefits management.

    I think there’s a way of organizing health care under which rent seeking parasites like these
    wouldn’t exist, but can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, it will never happen.

      1. allan

        I’m not a doctor and can’t comment on the specifics in this case,
        although some of the replies indicated that they had had an MRI in
        what seem to be similar situation.

        But my family and I have had lots of interactions with Aetna,
        and denial-through-exhausting-the patient seems to be one of
        the foundations of their business model.
        In some cases, we (or providers) have prevailed, in some cases, not.
        But it’s an incredible tax on time, and one that many working people can’t possibly afford to pay.

    1. B1whois

      I really like the point of this tweet in that thread:

      Donal Behan @Irish_Beano
      Oct 4
      Replying to @queersocialism and @MikeStuchbery_
      Horrible thing is, the guy who shot him had the ‘right’ to get that bullet with no checks. He has no ‘right’ to affordable healthcare

  11. clarky90

    Re “The Culture Wars”

    My First Video — Advice from Creators


    10K thumbs up, 69K thumbs down

    Susan Wojcicki (Youtube CEO)
    Published on Sep 27, 2017

    “Welcome to my new-and-improved YouTube channel. For my first video, I asked a few creators to give me some advice on getting started. Watch to hear what they had to say!

    Thank you to the many creators who gave me advice:”

    Youtube commentators are pissed off about the recent demonetization and censorship at Youtube.

  12. Vatch

    I was listening to the Andrew Tobias video, and it seemed pretty bland, and not offensive at all . . . . until it reached the 48 or 49 seconds mark. Suddenly, it all became crystal clear.

  13. Wukchumni

    This is quite hilarious, as the wholesale price of cut diamonds has been on the downswing for years now as interest in the most overpriced bit of carbon out there fades…

    Commodities: “Until now, investors looking for safe-haven assets used to turn to gold or Treasuries. Not anymore. A Singapore-based exchange began trading Tuesday a new standardized diamond product that aims to become one of the most-sought shelters from global risks” [Mining.com]. “Launched by the Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX), the new product is designed to store and display investment-grade polished gems sourced at wholesale prices on SDiX and issued in standard denominations of about $100,000 and $200,000 each.” I’m filing this under “Commodities” to be safe. But–really?

  14. Kurtismayfield

    RE:Price fixing suit at San Fran restaurants..

    That is a really interesting case.. but I don’t see how someone can prove that it is truly collusion and price fixing when there are thousands of restaurants in the metropolitan area that are in the cases. The consumer can easily go somewhere else, unless these restaurant conglomerates have taken control of most of the restaurants in the city.

    What really interests me is how the owners have effectively taken control of every dollar that goes in and out of the restaurants.. and are using the service fee to pay all of their staff. Not that most staff have any power over the owner in that relationship, but it seems the owners can now compensate at will with the service fee.

  15. Wukchumni

    When I first visited New Zealand and Australia in 1981, it was a bit of a revelation that no tipping was required not only in restaurants, but also in taxis, etc.

    You’d think that the service rendered might’ve been a little slipshod on account of lack of incentive to please the customer-but not really, as the employees were paid a fair hourly wage and the whole tipping concept was foreign to them. I remember being in a taxi in Auckland with 4 bags, as I was going to be in NZ quite awhile, and the taxi driver laboriously moved them for me when I got out, and I fished out a few dollars from my wallet, and he told me that wouldn’t be necessary, but if I wanted to give him something, a 20 cent piece would suffice.

    It’s changed a bit since then, and I haven’t been to Aussie in like forever, but in NZ you’ll see a tip jar near the cash register in restaurants along the lines of what you would see in Starbucks, that sort of thing.

    1. RUKidding

      I used to wait tables in Aus a long long time ago, and indeed I rarely received tips, but I didn’t really need them, like I had needed them here in the USA.

      I visit Aus regularly now (lots of friends), and tipping is a bit more of a “norm” than it used to be. But typically one only tips around 5% or even less.

      I think the wait staff must love me bc I tend to forget and go for the 20% tip. Woo hoo!

      1. Terry Flynn

        Yeah I lived in Sydney for 5 years recently and it is generally 5% max (or simply round up to nearest dollar)

  16. D

    Re “Accenture left a huge trove of highly sensitive data on exposed servers”

    Hmmm, wonder about those ACA records and wonder how many State Licensed Professionals have their data (digital fingerprints, etcetera) on Accenture Servers, unbeknownst to them? For instance, despite the fact that Accenture [previously Anderson Consulting] had already been fined 64 million for False Claims On Hardware, Software & Technology Services Sales Accenture , the California Department of Consumer Affairs thought it would be a good idea to award Accenture a contract for it’s professional licensing system software, which Accenture named BreEze™. California is still using that system for at least some licensed professionals (see http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3570). BreEze indeed:

    02/27/15 $96 million California IT project late, flawed, busting budget

    Another flawed multimillion-dollar state computer project has busted its budget and made work it was supposed to streamline even less efficient, according to a scathing state auditor’s report released Thursday.

    Bills for the BrEZe [sic – D] system stand at nearly $37 million, and the Department of Consumer Affairs estimates it will ultimately cost $96 million – more than three times its initial estimate of $28 million in 2009. The department runs 40 state entities that do everything from licensing podiatrists to registering and regulating car repair shops. Only half of the 19 licensing and regulatory boards and commissions that originally planned to implement the system are using BreEZe.
    In 2013, Consumer Affairs moved boards and commissions for registered nurses, physician assistants, doctors and respiratory care practitioners into BreEZe. Delays ensued. Some nursing school graduates, for example, lost work because the Board of Nursing fell three months behind assigning test dates. Before the online BreEZe system, the old paper process took six weeks or less.


    Can’t speak for other states, but regarding California’s bad Accenture decision, they’ve got a long history of contracting ‘bad actors.’ Deloitte – which also had a huge breach recently – despite prior disasters, starred in a California Court Case Management System [CCMS] software disaster which likely included Tom Ridge, who was hired by Deloitte in late 2006 to advise states on ways to deploy IT to improve government services, enhance education and boost states’ abilities to serve those in need.:

    12/22/12 Despite string of problem projects, firm continues to win state work

    In the costliest collapse of a state computer project, Deloitte received $310 million before the state pulled the plug in March on a project to link every court computer in California. The system was supposed to cost $33 million.
    As the project developed, the software had to be replaced nine times at six civil courts using the system because of defects. System crashes would intermittently paralyze those courthouses. Deloitte’s contract, however, did not require it to fix all of the defects because the warranty expired before the system went online.

    Those problems prompted a legislative committee to order an audit in 2011. The review found that the computer network, which was supposed to be finished in 2009, might not be finished until 2016 and could cost up to $1.9 billion.

  17. Wukchumni

    There tends to be more séance than science in economics, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  18. D

    The Tom Ridge/Deloitte connection, I referenced above:

    11/02/06 Deloitte recruits Ridge for state government practice

    In a move to enhance its state government practice, Deloitte and Touche USA LLP has hired Tom Ridge, former two-term Pennsylvania governor and first secretary of the Homeland Security Department, as a consultant.

    As a senior adviser to Deloitte’s U.S. State Government Practice, Ridge will counsel clients on major issues and other challenges facing governors and state governments.

    Ridge will advise states on ways to deploy IT to improve government services, enhance education and boost states’ abilities to serve those in need.

  19. Wukchumni

    Anybody here follow historical financial bubbles of much smaller size than the current goings on?

    I quite liked the 1980’s tin & Ferrari bubbles~

  20. ChiGal in Carolina

    Universal catastrophic!?

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The way to control costs is to beef up preventive care, and focus on managing chronic conditions BEFORE it’s a catastrophe.

    IIRC, catastrophic was all I could afford back in the early 90s when I was between jobs. True, it picked up most of the tab for hospitalization but had that happened to me I would still have been out tens of thousands of dollars, depending.

    And all outpatient and Rx was out of pocket so I was holding my breath until I got real coverage again.

    1. Tooearly

      If we could define catastrophe as any illness or condition the treatment of which costs more than some miniscule portion of ones income perhaps it could work (;

  21. Jen

    Our health care is the best…

    Adventures in neoliberalism – open enrollment edition

    Open enrollment begins with an email from HR.

    Come to one of the town halls with our Executive Vice President! There are three, on three consecutive days, all the following week. I check my schedule. I can’t make it.

    Bookmark our open enrollment website! I check it out. Ah. Here’s the link to the open enrollment guide. I click on it. Thirty one pages of small print and cheesy power point diagrams. My eyes glaze over. What’s changing? Most importantly, how much more expensive will it be? If the answers lie within, I can’t find them. I’m thinking “tax on time.”

    Sign up for one of our information sessions! I sign up. Twenty five of us show up at the end of what has been a grueling day, in a marathon week of our benefits team attempting to guide us through decisions that will affect our health coverage for the next year. They look exhausted; their upbeat demeanor forced.

    We start with the easy stuff. Wellness! Once upon a time we had a simple fitness reimbursement program. Send in your receipt for your gym membership; attest that you actually used it, get $200 back. Two years ago things got fancy. Get a free activity tracker. Have it monitor your sleeping and waking activities. Participate in “challenges.” “Earn” up to $400 in points which you can redeem in debit or gift cards. Your spouse can participate too, making you eligible for up to $800. The wellness coordinator informs us that this is taxable income, and that as of October, we will be taxed as we “earn” these points, not when we redeem them. So make sure you redeem your points, she chirps. Oh, and there’s a “new” wellness option this year – which is basically the old fitness reimbursement program. She notes, disapprovingly, that your spouse can participate in this as well, but the two of you will share the total $225 maximum. Lastly, she tells us that we must select an wellness option during open enrollment, or we can’t participate in either. Spiffy.

    On to Dental! Here we have some actual good news – expanded coverage for not much more money. We take a deep breath and plunge into…

    Health Insurance! A rep from Cigna begins by telling us we have a really good plan. She’s seen a lot and, well, yeah. Really good plan. Her plan isn’t as good, in fact. She purses her lips. She works for the damn insurance company, and we, mere ratepayers, have a better plan than she does. Important terms. Co-insurance. Co-pays. Deductibles. In-network. Out-of-network. My eyes start to glaze over. Emergency room visits. She segues into a reminder that we should only use the emergency room for, you know, emergencies. She had to go to the emergency room last winter when she fell on the ice and hit her head. It was filled with people with colds and sniffles! Colds and sniffles, while she, herself, had an actual medical emergency [and we have better insurance than she does]! To keep us out of the emergency room, we’re now offered Telehealth. Sign up and you can call in anytime, anywhere. You will be charged the cost of an outpatient visit. A woman raises her hand: “How much is that?” The cigna rep doesn’t have an answer.

    On to our three options. This is pretty standard fare – pay more for the plan with the lowest co-pays, co-insurance (which she refers to as “cost-sharing.” Skin in the game as it were) and deductibles; pay less for the high deductible plan. Then we get into H.S.A./H.R.A/F.S.A. You get an HRA with all three plans but it only applies to deductibles and co-insurance. Cigna will debit the HRA automatically, but you should check your balance regularly because, in her words, you are 10 times more likely to be a victim of medical insurance fraud than credit card fraud. Well yes, because my credit card company actually monitors my activity and notifies me if they suspect fraud. Moving on, any unused balance will roll over to the next year, but only if you keep the same plan. You can only have an H.S.A. with the high deductible plan, except if you use our local IORA health clinic, in which case you can’t have an H.S.A, but you still get the H.R.A. If you switch from a standard plan to a high deductible plan you can only use your F.S.A for expenses incurred this calendar year, but if you switch from a high deductible plan to a standard plan, you can use the remainder of your H.S.A. Got it? Good. People are shaking their heads and smiling grimly. I open my laptop and google Dante’s Inferno, trying to determine which circle of hell we have descended into.

    Question time. A woman sitting across the room from me asks: I’ve sat through this session every year and could probably sit through it another 8 times and still not be able to get my head around this – is the high deductible plan a good idea for me? The Cigna rep, whose insurance isn’t as good as ours, uses a lot of words to say: “I can’t answer that question for you.” Another woman raises her hand. She is trying to estimate her medication expenses. Our prescription drug provider can give her the market price, but not the negotiated discount price. If she puts too much into her FSA, she loses it at the end of the year. How can she find out the negotiated price? Long winded response boils down to: she can’t. A third woman asks which plan would be best if someone in her family needs surgery next year. Again, the rep can’t answer. She keeps using the phrase: your doctor knows you best. You should talk to your doctor about your needs. Sure. Those primary care physicians who are running like hamsters on a treadmill with 15 minutes for a new patient visit and 7 minutes for a follow-up have all the time in the world, during the next 3 weeks, to sit down with you and plan your health care expenses for the next year. Of course they also have a detailed understanding of all the costs you might need, and when they applied to medical school, they dreamed of advising their patients about health care finances.

    Need more help? You can sign up for a one on one session. Except that these are really to help you walk through the actual enrollment process. The person you are working with might not be able to answer questions about what plan is best for you (which is really the only question we have). That’s okay, though, because we have an online decision aid.

    Tax on time. Tax on time. Tax on time.

    For all this, my employer does provide excellent benefits. We self-insure, so Cigna’s role is to push paper, not deny claims. We’re one of the area’s two largest employers, both of whom self-insure, so one has to work pretty hard to find a medical provider who is out of network, and we have good national coverage. And the cost is “only” going up 7% next year. Apparently the details are in the video of the Executive Vice President’s town hall, which is supposed to be on the open enrollment website by Friday, a mere three weeks after the town halls. Huh. Maybe I missed something interesting?

    And lastly there’s this factiod: our premium increases are, wait for it, driven by increases in prescription drug costs, and 42% of that cost relates to 1.43% of the enrollees who require specialty medications.

    Because (family blogging) markets.

    Go die.

    1. petal

      Oh Jen, it sure sounds as if we work for the same employer! Thank you for the wonderful update. I’ve been ranting about this for a while now, including the fitness reimbursement. I thought I had read in a flyer mailed recently(it’s on my desk so I don’t forget) that everyone who does not choose an option will be automatically funneled into the Virgin stalker scam(nice bump of Virgin’s numbers, yeah? Markets!).

      I don’t want to think about having a medical emergency. I already ignore my 2 chronic illnesses and do not get the recommended tests/screening because I am terrified of the potential bills which I could not afford. Death would be cheaper. Am hand to mouth already. Unless I’m bleeding to death(I’d actually try to sew myself up first before going to the ER after the last experience-I mean bill), I don’t see doctors and don’t use my insurance. I can’t afford to use it-there but for the grace of Dog go I. Happy Open Enrollment to you, neighbour!

      1. Jen

        And may the odds be ever in your favor.

        You may be right about the Virgin Stalker default. That would be the more neoliberal solution and there were a few times during the session when resisting the urge to claw my eyes out distracted me from the presentation.

        I’m in the fortunate position of being able to afford the mid-tier plan, and, probably, the out-of pocket max if I ever got there. I tried the high deductible plan a few years back figuring, based on my past medical history, that it would be a good deal.

        That’s when I learned the lesson of past performance not being an indicator of future results. I needed surgery that year. And therapy. I didn’t max out on my health savings account because, save for knee surgery over two decades ago, I’ve never had more than an annual physical. So I finished off my health savings account, but never quite made the out of pocket max. Fun times.

        And I’m lucky, because I could still afford the care I needed. I know a lot of people who can’t.

        So I should revise my comment to say: “my employer offers excellent insurance to those who can afford it.”

  22. Adam Eran

    OK, thanks for the Monk (it’s his 100th birthday).

    Meanwhile, the plutocrats are taking refuge in diamonds….? Isn’t the diamond market a cartel controlled by DeBeers? Aren’t artificial diamonds now competitive? Gold was bad enough, but this demonstrates the cluelessness of a class whose ideology makes them ignore the social nature of money as a store of value.

    1. JBird

      Yes to all that and it gets worse. Diamonds would be the last thing I would invest in especially as it is only De Beers that has kept them valuable. The little research I have done includes actual armed suppression in the Congo, and not just because of “blood diamonds” and less violent and fatal tactics elsewhere. I really should redue the research. It reminds me of how the Dutch gained control of much of the spice trade although the Dutch East India company (a corporation naturally) used armed fleets, armies, conquest, and genocide as tools. Then again, De Beers, and the Boers, were originally Dutch. No wonder the tactics are similar.

      Without the cartel squirreling away all the extra production, and having an extensive ad campaign, for the past century or more, diamonds would be cheap, or at least much less expensive. The extra fabulous ones would still have extra worth, but it is just very compressed carbon, which is why they can make artificial ones nowadays. Gold is at least fairly rare.

      If it ever gets so bad that they would have to use their horded wealth, it’s likely that the cartel would be unable to function effectively. There are mines on all the continents, so it’s problematical now.

  23. Duck1

    The tropane molecules are used for anti-nausea, ophthamology, neutering organophosphate poisoning. Mainly derived from Hyoscyamus Niger in cultivation

  24. kareninca

    I woke up this morning at 11:30 a.m. (I have the night dog shift; she is on prednisone), and thought I smelled wood smoke. We live in the Palo Alto area. So I opened the door; yes, the air was terrible; if you stepped outside the smell was very strong and the sky was hazy. So I closed the sliding door, and turned up our air filters (we have four since the dog has allergies). All day long the air outside was terrible. Not terrible like what the people in the fire area up north are experiencing, of course; things are beyond horrible for them. But still, it was not something you would breath if you could avoid it. I went online to the county site and there was no indication on their “air quality meter” graphic that there was any problem.

    So, it is now 7 p.m.. The air outside has actually improved a fair bit. But, just a minute ago we got our first recorded message from Santa Clara county, telling us that there is an air quality emergency and people should avoid being out in it.

    What use are the people who are supposed to be alerting us? The last time something like this happened, several years ago, there was a huge recycling plant fire about 10 miles north of us. The air was acrid; it smelled like burning tires; you could smell that something was very wrong. I closed the windows; I turned up the air filters; I could tell there was a problem. But I had a friend who spent the night opening the windows ever wider, in an attempt to breath – she didn’t think there was a air problem (she thought it was her), because no notice had been given. In that case as well, the notice finally came out after the worst of it was over.

    Don’t wait for the government to tell you that there is a problem.

    1. JBird

      Just eyeballing the fire perimeters of all the fires in and around Sonoma, the burned/burning areas could cover the counties of San Francisco and Marin, or they cover the same amount of area as the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, with fire left over. No wonder you have poor air quality.

  25. JBird

    Well, I bet here in the Northern Bay Area it’s much worse. Palo Alto only gets what’s left after going through three entire counties and the wind tunnel that’s the Golden Gate. The people actually in Sonoma must be suffering much much more.

    1. kareninca

      Yes, that is very true. I did say that. It is infinitely worse where the fires are, and closer to them. My point was that we were alerted over 8 hours after our air got bad – 8 hours after the fact, we were bombarded with “don’t go outside unless you must” messages.

  26. Tony Levelle

    Re: Gibson interview
    “Something discordant about this interview, but I can’t figure out what.”

    I gave up after a half page. To me it reads like ‘inside baseball’ talk about the worlds that Gibson has created. In the past Gibson’s books described worlds that had immediate and easily grasped relevance to what was going on in the real world at the time. I don’t get that from this interview.

    I have been reading a lot of sci fi lately, and I find a similar problem in less accomplished authors all the time. They get so involved in their imaginary worlds that they end up writing reams of stuff describing the politics, or technology, or relationships in their “imaginary world”. The result is a confusing mishmash that is impossible to decipher for anyone but a devoted follower who is willing to put in endless hours figuring out what is going on.

    1. KTN

      First of all, the subtitle should read ‘pervasive commodification in the postindustrial dreamtime.’

      That is, after all, probably what the editor meant, and the reader can decide whether ‘postindustrial’ is ironic or a sincere attempt at characterization.

      Second of all, who could read past ‘a distant future in which some event, “The Jackpot,” had killed nearly everyone on Earth, leaving behind a class of ruthless oligarchs and their bootlickers’? And who could read the book in question?

      Why is a (presumably) suicidal eruption called a ‘jackpot’ necessary to describe life on 21st century Earth? Who would be left for the ruthless oligarchs and their bootlickers to employ as a slave race, which is of course always de rigueur for ruthless oligarchs and their bootlickers? Why, when with a certain amount of genuine longing bumper stickers appeared for ‘Giant Meteor 2016’ less than a year ago, would anyone describe such an event as ‘the jackpot’? The term is neither adequate nor darkly humorous, it just smacks of having run out of steam.

      When one scrolls down to a random passage and reads such preposterous concoctions as ‘for decades, you’ve been frontrunning the mainstreaming of bohemian subcultures,’ one is both glad not to live in Brooklyn and more than a little sorry that such (probably, refuse to read him) DFW-inspired impressionistic gibberish passes for intelligent discussion.

      Postscript; let me try: For decades, you’ve been the Purdue Pharma of the mainlining of synthetic bohemia into the public arteries, etc…

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