2:00PM Water Cooler 10/19/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA” [WaPo]. “As the United States, Canada and Mexico prepare to wrap up a fourth round of talks Tuesday about revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement, there is growing fear that the talks could collapse around one of several “poison pill” provisions. Those include the demands of the Florida tomato growers, who say Mexico is selling tomatoes in the United States at artificially low prices. With the support of some berry, melon and pepper producers, the Florida producers are pushing for stronger anti-dumping measures — an idea that has been soundly rejected by the Mexicans.” Hope none of these growers are from Immokalee


2016 Post Mortem

“Facebook and Google Helped Anti-Refugee Campaign in Swing States” [Bloomberg]. But apparently social media embeds in political campaigns are not unusual? To put this another way, if Facebook and Google were not embedded in the Clinton campaign, was Robbie Mook worth what they were paying him?


“Cory Booker Explains Why He’s Making Legal Weed His Signature Issue” [Vice]. “My bill is focused on understanding that it’s not just about ending prohibition. It has to be about retroactively expunging records. It has to be about community repair and addressing the generational damage that’s been done by stripping communities of their economic strength.”


“In his first public campaign appearances since leaving office, Barack Obama today stumps for two Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Phil Murphy in New Jersey and Ralph Northam in Virginia” [NBC].

“Obama Returns to Campaign Trail to Rally Black Voters” [New York Times]. “President Barack Obama will hit the campaign trail on Thursday to rally black voters behind candidates for governor in Virginia and New Jersey amid stern warnings that African Americans may not come out in force on an Election Day that is just three weeks away.”

Trump Transition

“The silver lining of Trump’s rank cynicism” [The Week]. “We all understand that Trump’s relationship with his evangelical base is entirely transactional.” Not just that! Everything!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“J.D. Vance joins forces with Steve Bannon” [Craig Calcaterra]. Unsurprisingly. Of course, Vance love is bipartisan.

“Silicon Intersectionality” [Current Affairs]. “In particular, the language of “intersectionality” (the theory that different people are oppressed in different ways, and that these differing oppressions compound and intersect differently) has been keenly embraced by elements in the corporate world. Once confined to activist and academic discourse, intersectionality is now being used by some tech companies as a way to publicly demonstrate their liberal credentials. Tech risk assessment and management consultancy Deloitte’s web magazine asked “What if the road to inclusion were really an intersection?” (Even accepting the premise of intersectionality, this question makes no sense.) Deloitte urged its clients that an “intersectional approach that reaches all facets of corporate life is often more fruitful.” Michael Graham: “Nothing is more intersectional in American life than money.”

“Whatever his impact may be on the country or the world, Donald Trump’s presidency imperils the future of his party, and there isn’t a serious-minded Republican in Washington who would tell you otherwise, privately” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “For as much time as I have spent around politicians, and I have been writing about national politics for a good 20 years now, this is the one mystery I have never come close to solving. I will never understand what it is about the job — congressman, senator, city alderman — that makes so many politicians willing to sacrifice all self-respect just to keep doing it.” Ka-ching….

“The Senate’s top climate advocate explains why Congress is doing nothing about global warming” [Vox]. Sheldon Whitehouse on the differences between the politics of Medicare for All and the politics of a carbon tax bill.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, September 2017: “Hurricane-driven spikes in jobless claims pulled down the index of leading economic indicators in September which, at minus 0.2 percent, came in well below Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “But September’s index was also pulled lower by building permits where strength has been uneven all year and also 2 indicators on the factory sector: the workweek and capital goods orders.” And: “Leading Indicators Post First Drop in Over a Year” [247 Wall Street]. “The ‘leading’ aspect of this number is also not as leading as outsiders might expect due to the reading having almost a full one-month lag.” But: “Because of the significant backward revisions, I do not trust this index. This is a leading index, and hurricanes should not have any effect” [Econintersect].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, October 2017: “The Philly Fed report continues to post very unusual levels of strength” [Econoday]. “This report together with Empire State’s report on Monday are extensions of what have been unusually strong indications from regional reports, results that contrast sharply with much less strength in factory orders and outright contraction in manufacturing production. It’s important to remember that regional reports are based on small sizes where responses are always voluntary. Still the strength of the regional reports, if nothing else, is pointing squarely at improvement ahead, at least to some degree, for the nation’s factory sector.” And: “This suggests the ISM manufacturing index will show solid expansion in October” [Calculated Risk]. But: “Consider this a weaker report than last month because of the decline of the key internals” [Econintersect]. “Econintersect believes the important elements of this survey are new orders and unfilled orders . Both new orders and unfilled orders remain in expansion but declined.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of October 15, 2017: “Last week’s consumer sentiment report showed a big uptick at mid-month as does the consumer comfort index” [Econoday]. “Both the sentiment and comfort indexes had been ebbing off long-term highs before popping back this month. Full employment, the rally in the stock market, and solid home-price appreciation are all pluses for confidence measures.”

Jobless Claims, week of October 14, 2017: “Jobless claims have mostly returned to pre-hurricane levels” [Econoday]. “Hurricane effects are ebbing with Texas and Georgia back to pre-hurricane levels though Florida, at just over 11,000 in the latest week, is still running about 4,000 to 5,000 higher. Puerto Rico, which for the past 2 weeks has reported its own data and has not had to be estimated by Washington, is also at pre-hurricane levels though the jury is still out whether claims in the territory will move higher as displaced workers, amid the dislocations, get themselves to the unemployment office.”

Commodities: “The Supply Chain Can’t Handle Skyrocketing Demand for Lithium-Ion Batteries” [Vice]. “In short, the researchers estimated that over the next 15 years, there will likely be enough raw materials available to meet lithium-ion battery demand. But if we don’t work out supply chain issues, production could slow down—essentially delaying some of the world’s most promising alternative energy technologies…. Aside from the element in their name, lithium-ion batteries also also composed of other elements, including manganese, nickel, graphite, and cobalt. The researchers found that cobalt—which is also used in iPhones—was most vulnerable to potential supply chain issues.”

Retail: “Retailer Supreme is carving out a bigger role in apparel by turning traditional inventory and distribution strategy upside down. The underground streetwear brand has just 11 stores yet is valued at more than teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and its global network of 900 outlets” [Wall Street Journa]. “Limited distribution is its virtue as Supreme builds a following based on the scarcity of its products. The seller of skateboarding T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts has tapped into the zeitgeist of teens seeking hard-to-get looks that run counter to the mass-produced goods that fill big industrial supply chains.” Somebody’s been reading their William Gibson; Pattern Recognition‘s Macguffin is just such an entrepreneur.

Shipping: “Both freight spend and shipment levels for the third quarter showed both quarterly and annual gains, according to data issued in the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, a new report form Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank” [Logistics Management]. “Looking at the shipment data, [American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello] said that he looks at drivers of freight shipments as ‘buckets’ in a way, with the 3.5 buckets being: consumer (1); factory output (2); construction with a housing focus (3); and the .5 bucket being the inventory cycle…. ‘For the first time, really, since 2014, those buckets of freight are all looking good or better, and that is why there have been three consecutive quarters of at least 3.3% quarter-to-quarter shipment gains,’ he explained.”

Shipping; “Analysis: is FedEx planning to put its stamp on a vulnerable Royal Mail?” [The Loadstar].

The Bezzle: “The most recent sign that recent IPO Blue Apron Holdings Inc. is in deep trouble is that the company announced it will lay off employees. It has only been public since June 29. Its shares trade at $5.30, down from an all-time high of $10” [247 Wall Street]. “CEO Matthew Salzberg clearly cannot rally investor support to what is seen as a broken business model.”

The Bezzle: “How the Frightful Five [See “Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse,” below] Put Start-Ups in a Lose-Lose Situation” [New York Times]. “Because today’s giants are nimbler and more paranoid about upstart competition than the tech behemoths of yore, they have cleverly created an ecosystem that enriches themselves even when they don’t think of the best ideas first. The Five run server clouds, app stores, ad networks and venture firms, altars to which the smaller guys must pay a sizable tax just for existing. For the Five, the start-up economy has turned into a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition — they love start-ups, but in the same way that orcas love baby seals.”

Five Horsemen: “Apple is looking decidedly sickly on this BTFD [Buy The Fabulous Dip] day, as is Amazon.” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Oct 19

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 82 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 19 at 12:39pm.


“C-sections might be relaxing the evolutionary pressure against big babies” [Ars Technica]. Evolution works fast (so I wonder what effect markets are having).

Health Care

“State governments, which run CHIP, are continuing to cover children with money left over from earlier appropriations and with emergency infusions from the federal government. But 11 states are expected to run out of federal funds by the end of December and 20 states and the District of Columbia will get to that point in the first three months of next year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. CHIP, created in 1997 to cover lower-income families who could not get Medicaid, helped lower the uninsured rate for children to 5 percent, from 14 percent. Most children in CHIP are from families with incomes below twice the poverty level, or $49,200 for a family of four” [New York Times]

Class Warfare

“Chipotle downgraded by Bank of America on concerns that labor is still too expensive” [CNBC]. “Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Chipotle and cut its earnings targets for 2018 and 2019, saying the struggling restaurant chain will have trouble cutting back labor costs any further than it already has…. The company has been testing new products and initiatives to drive traffic to its restaurants after its struggles with food safety outbreaks and subsequent setbacks.” I’m not sure how cutting wages is going to promote food safety…

“The Social Life of Opioids” [Scientific American]. “In the story of America’s opioid crisis a recent tripling in prescriptions of the painkillers is generally portrayed as the villain. Researchers and policy makers have paid far less attention to how social losses—including stagnating wages and fraying ties among people—can increase physical and emotional pain to help drive the current drug epidemic. But a growing body of work suggests this area needs to be explored more deeply if communities want to address the opioid problem. One study published earlier this year found that for every 1 percent increase in unemployment in the U.S., opioid overdose death rates rose by nearly 4 percent.” This is a good wrap-up; many other studies on “deaths of despair” are listed; no direct reference to Case-Deaton, interestingly enough.

News of the Wired

“Because every always-on microphone in your home should be able to identify individual targets, Alexa can now recognize different users as well” [New York Magazine].

Here is the video answer to the reader query I posted yesterday:

Not as good as I remember, the reader commented.

“You Think With the World, Not Just Your Brain” [The Atlantic]. “It’s been shown that spiders can use their webs to process and store information, essentially “outsourcing” mental processes to physical structures. Why is it, Clark and Chalmers ask [in their landmark paper “The Extended Mind”}, that mentally rearranging Scrabble tiles is considered a ‘part of action’ rather than a ‘part of thought’?… [T]he world of inert objects might think too, in slow and strange ways which we can only borrow for a moment, and which disappear again into what sounds like silence.” I should have saved yesterday’s shroom picture for today!

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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 (MF):

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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. Jim Haygood


    RT’s broadcasting provider in the West Bank, Pal Media, has been sealed off following raids by Israeli security forces on Palestinian outlets. The raids led to the closure of some broadcasting stations suspected of inciting terrorism.

    Eight Palestinian media organizations, which Israel suspects of distributing and broadcasting materials inciting terrorism, were raided in a joint operation of the IDF, the Israel Security Agency security (Shin Bet) and Civil Administration operating in the West Bank on Tuesday night.

    The military also closed broadcasting stations including Pal Media, one of the biggest Palestinian companies providing services to RT, as well as many other media outlets operating in the region such as TransMedia, the BBC, France 24 and the Lebanese Al Mayadeen.


    What a way to celebrate the 50th year of illegal occupation. West Bank = Warsaw ghetto.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      And the RT streaming channel is no longer available on Roku. Likewise, Alternet has a chart running on their send-money popup showing how their Google-inspired traffic has plummeted.

      1. Carolinian

        Well then the heck with Roku. Censorship is in the air. The blob has to “defend the narrative.”

    2. ewmayer

      Jim, off-topic for this thread but fyi, I replied to your skew-chart in yesterday’s 2pmwc and posed a question re. the lack of clear signal prior to the recent ‘hockey stick’. Would appreciate a reply. Thanks.

      1. Jim Haygood

        CBOE’s option-based Skew index seems to be a contrary indicator. Low values (suggesting complacency) in Spring 1997, Spring 2000, early 2008, and Spring 2015 preceded significant sell-offs. Whereas values above 130 have been good buying points.

        ZH labeled the chart as “crash risk,” but I disagree. Punters loading up on puts are not likely to be rewarded with a crash that produces overnight riches. If the market carries on rising, the Skew index probably will come down, as the notion of a Permanently High Plateau gains traction in the popular imagination. :-)

    3. sierra7

      Someday down the line there has to be a reckoning for this monstrous crime begun more than 100 years ago!

    4. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      That reminds me: I am re-reading:

      The Crimean War, A History by Orlando Figes,

      .. and specifically about the importance of Holy Land to the Russian Orthodox spiritual identity whereby it is an extension of the spiritual motherland. The line that made me sit up was:

      The Idea of ‘Holy Russia’ was not contained by any territorial boundaries…

      Given Russia’s relapse into religionism, I imagine Israel’s secret police is re-checking to the bona fides of all those Russian immigrants to weed out the fifth column (real or imagined); especially as Turkey and Russia seem to be cosying up.

      Those maps they showed me at school should have been entitled ‘Holy War Land’.

      Pip Pip

  2. allan

    “CEO Matthew Salzberg clearly cannot rally investor support to what is seen as a broken business model.”

    Perhaps Blue Apron could pivot to selling lists of ingredients,
    together with the instructions for how to turn them into cooked dishes,
    organized by food category and collected into bound volumes.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hmmm, I think I have owned a few of those things. ISTR that they’re called “cookbooks.”

    2. jrs

      yea but apparently those are passe as recipes are free on the internet. Actually foolish as a good cookbook (granted there are many bad cookbooks) will be far more reliable than random internet recipes.

  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    Just caught a snippet of Dubya in the hospital waiting room; the good was denouncing white supremacists; the bad was proclaiming socialism as the enemy, not fascism.

    Anyway, shouldn’t he be in prison?

    1. Vatch

      Of course he should be in prison, along with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Yoo (torture advocate), Steven Bradbury (another torture advocate), and others.

      1. jgordon

        I agree with you, but you left out Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of their crew that compounded and expanded on W’s crime. It was probably an innocent oversight.

        Anyway, I often think back to that famed Hillary Clinton clip where she chortled in mad glee, “we came. We saw. He died. Hahaha.” That is the symbol of the entire Obama regime for me. I can’t think of any similar scene that summarized W’s regime so tidily.

        1. JBird

          Bush, Obama, Clinton and the others are murderous posers who, if they were dragged off to the International Court of Justice, would warm this cynical heart, but it would be Clinton’s guru Henry Kissenger, a true Machiavellian monster, and practitioner of realpolitik, who should be tried; it looks though that he will die in his bed at home. Almost makes me want to believe in the existence of Hell.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Or declaring victory on that aircraft carrier.

            And Cheney shooting his hunting buddy in the face.

    2. Sid Finster

      No, W (and not only) should be placed in irons and delivered over to a country where his crimes were committed.

      I am sure that the grateful citizenry will prepare him a hearty welcome.

      1. Terry Humphrey

        How about a place where his playing with matches had such a political and social impact–the EU. He may change his mind about fascism, many EU countries have.

    3. Livius Drusus

      I caught some of Bush’s speech too. Nice words but I don’t understand the current love Bush is getting from both conservatives and liberals. Bush was much worse than Trump (so far). The Iraq War alone is enough to put Bush over Trump in the “bad presidents” category.

      The rehabilitation of George W. Bush is a good example of how American politics is all about style over substance. Somehow saying bigoted things about Mexicans and Muslims and increasing deportations is worse than lying the country into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people and destabilized an entire region contributing to both the migration crisis in Europe and the rise of ISIS.

      It reminds me of the people who want to remove Trump from office and replace him with Mike Pence. Trump’s incompetence has been a good thing since it means that he has not been able to get much done. President Pence would be far more effective getting things done with the Republican Congress and the media would give him a pass as a “reasonable Republican.” I would take a vulgar, bigoted but ineffective Trump over a competent but sensible-sounding Republican who wants to legislate us back to the Gilded Age and might actually succeed.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The number one complaint from Versailles about Trump is he behaves in public the way the elites behave in private and they can’t trust him to bomb the right things.


        The Trump praise after he launched cruise missiles at Syria was bizarre. Despite a popular agreement with Iran being certified by Trump for “reasons,” no one in Washington cares. Its a diseased place. George W. Bush is a POS who was liked in Versailles. He gave them videos of bombs for CNN to run. Does anyone remember the cool embedding program W had for reporters in Iraq where they could get cool photos and “sources.”?

        43 and Hillary both ran as celebrations of Washington and politics as usual. Gore was treated like garbage by the msm, and Gore was a DLC hack and the son of a Senator. He was still nothing compared to W.

      2. Pat

        Actually you need to limit that to

        Somehow saying bigoted things about Mexicans and Muslims

        because the current administration has not really increased deportations. Or at least when comparing the last two fiscal years or for the last weekly figures I have seen. Nope, Trump just talked about it more. And people who should have been raking Obama over the coals have taken to the courts for Trump.

        The rampant hypocrisy from our previous Presidents is sickening. Especially if you consider that Trump is just the logical outcome of their policies and politics, even if they refuse to see it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Since it was brought up yesterday, 43’s proposed immigration program would have likely just created a permanent underclass of labor who could be deported at any time, but don’t worry it would just be legal.

          Part of me thinks this is still about Iraq. If George W. Bush is bad because of the Iraq War, etc, then by extension his Congressional supporters, the media, lobbyists etc who also supported the Iraq War, hid torture (the gang of eight received intelligence briefings after all), and so forth are also evil.

          The Office of Faith Based Initiatives! Lets give churches money so they can discriminate freely! Don’t worry Obama stepped in and gave the program more money than even Shrub.

      3. Vatch

        The Iraq War alone is enough to put Bush over Trump in the “bad presidents” category.

        True. But at this stage of the second Bush’s presidency, the Iraq war was still a year and a half in the future. The vote authorizing it was almost exactly one year into the future. We will probably have to wait until October, 2018, before we can adequately compare Trump and Bush II.

        Several of Trump’s cabinet level appointments have already done some very bad things. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is the poster child for bad behavior, but he’s not alone: Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, Sonny Perdue, Ajit Pai (not cabinet level, but close) are very scary. HHS Sec. Tom Price was jettisoned not for wasting government money on his luxury flights or for any plans to eventually privatize Medicare. He was sent packing because he was an embarrassment. So long as an official avoids embarrassing Trump, that official will be able to get away with almost anything.

        1. Vatch

          I just saw this article:


          Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

          One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in The Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2% of the global economy.

          I realize that simply because it was published doesn’t mean that it is true. But it’s worth thinking about. Scott Pruitt, Sonny Perdue, Ryan Zinke, and Rick Perry can cause a huge amount of damage. This is also relevant for evaluating policies and leaders in other countries.

          1. jrs

            yes saying that Trump’s only harm is “saying bigoted things about Mexicans and Muslims” is simply not keeping up with the news.

            During the campaign trail that was maybe the main beef but we’re WAY beyond that now (actually maybe people who held those things against him, were just astute judges of character, as Trump is certainly proving bad enough, certainly they have proved more right than anyone giving Trump the benefit of the doubt for the few reasonable things he said, almost none of which affects policy). But better or worse than W? Ah a lesser evils argument. Almost too soon to tell, although Obama wasn’t as bad as W either.

  4. Louis Fyne

    how in the world is shipping tomatoes from Mexico good for the environment? (preaching to the choir, i’m assuming)

    how can any “progressive” support environmentalism and Nafta? (very easily i’m guessing, cuz the opposite of anything Trump has to be right).

    By all means if you’re an environmentalist, cheer on those Florida tomato growers.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I guess you meant “collusion?” And this computes how?

        All this big data and AI and apps and everything, and “price discovery” as a supposed virtue of “markets,” yet somehow the externalities and warpage and fraud never seem to appear in the algorithms. Certainly not until monopoly is achieved, and the curve bends upward more sharply,…

        Never mind. The Beast is loose on the land…

  5. Wukchumni

    “The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.”~ Václav Havel

      1. Wukchumni

        My heritage likes it’s humor served blackened, and my aspirations are more along the lines of Jaroslav Hašek and his opus The Good Soldier Švejk, comedy twisted into unbelievable scenarios of argot while spinning a yarn sale. Not that there can’t be music involved, maestro strike up the band!


          1. Wukchumni

            When words are seared to perfection, the outer black surface gives it an irony look, fresh from being poured in the foundry of my mind.

      2. John

        That made me laugh!!!

        (It is getting pretty weird out here. I’ve had two “progressive” friends go off the deep end of Putin pool. Very strange times… Or maybe I’m just not old enough to see all the patterns yet – at 60…)

  6. Livius Drusus

    Re: The Social Life of Opioids, hopefully in the future policies will take into account things like community, friendship, family togetherness and other things that are usually not accounted for by economists. Science is proving that most humans are not really like homo economicus and seem to suffer under regimes that force people into the homo economicus mindset.

    For a good look at a community that avoided (for a time) the worst features of American life, see the case of Roseto, Pennsylvania.


    1. Wukchumni

      According to Wiki, the population here is 90% white, and in the next town over in Woodlake, it’s 87% Hispanic. All of the orcharding work along with more general crops here in the Central Valley is done by Hispanics, mostly Mexicans. And they’re damned good at it, as you drive by endless acres of their hard work paying off in bountiful harvests. They’re pretty clannish in a good way from from i’ve seen, and will perfectly assimilate into Americans, given the chance.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It is probably self-evident that people everywhere are equally good at agriculture.

        No one is inferior to others.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          It’s almost as if the soil conditions, quality of seeds, precipitation, temperature highs and lows, length of growing season, and wind and erosion patterns matter more than the culture of the person working the land…


    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Science proves with experiments.

      If it proves most humans are not economicus, if there has been an experiment done, the question is, did the experimenters, those ‘scientists’ get approval, or consent, from their test subjects?

    1. Huey Long

      This century isn’t a good time to discuss global warming or gun control.

      Why be so pessimistic?!? All it would take is a bloody civil war or massive coastal flooding to start a discussion and we’ve got 73 more years until the dawn of the next century…

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t know if it’s the case or not, but post communism-you could buy eastern bloc ammo ridiculously cheap in the USA, and it kind of corresponds with the beginning of our gunocracy.

        1. Watt4Bob

          I remember reading an article about a kid from Florida in his early twenties who got a license to sell ammo just as the Afghanistan/Iraq war was starting, circa 2003.

          He was buying in China and delivering to our ‘allies’.

          The government is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations that AEY Inc. knowingly misrepresented what the company would provide the Afghan security forces.

          Under the contract, AEY said it would supply ammunition manufactured in Hungary. But an investigation by the Army found most of the bullets were made in China, a violation of the contract, according to the Army documents.

          U.S. regulations bar companies from purchasing weapons or ammunition from a Chinese military company directly or indirectly, according to U.S. military officials.

          Made $millions, created a big stink because what he was delivering was dangerous, corroded bullets the sort of stuff that gets you killed if you’re foolish enough to try and use it.

          The Army documents show that since 2004 the company entered agreements with the U.S. government that totaled about $10 million.

          The papers also reveal the company struck it big in 2007 with contracts totaling more than $200 million to supply ammunition, assault rifles and other weapons to the Afghan National Army and Police.

          My thoughts at the time were that he had to be well connected to get the license in the first place and then to cheat on top of it.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I remember that story. He was not that long out of high school and I could not believe that such a simple scam would fool the Pentagon supply system. Silly me – this is an organization that has literally lost track of trillions of dollars and refuses to let itself be audited.
            If I remember the story right, he was also sourcing a lot of ammo and gear out of very old eastern European military stores so that when it hit the front lines in Afghanistan it would often would not fire. Awkward. And it as that story that led me to understand that bullets age far worse than the firearms which shoot them.

  7. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re the c-section article. The focus on baby head size is silly.

    A female relative was born by c-section b/c of obstructed birth not because her head was too big, but because her mother’s birth canal was too small. When that relative in turn had children, she also needed c-sections to deliver because her birth canal was also too small.

    Which is to say the idea that a higher percentage of female babies born of obstructive birth c-sections disproportionately go on to deliver by c-section b/c of obstructed birth while men who were born of obstructive birth c-section do not disproportionately seem to trigger obstructive birth c-sections is much more consistent with the idea that the girls’ bodies are mimicking their mothers’, not all babies somehow getting bigger heads. That is, it’s based on pelvic size, not head size. The evolutionary pressure to prevent women like my relative from reproducing, thus humanity evolving toward easier childbirth is thwarted by c-sections. (Since I adore my relative & her kids, I’m very grateful for c-sections’ subversion of that evolutionary pressure.) (I wonder if the lead researcher has an extra large head.)

    1. JeffC

      Never mind weightier moms’ ample umbilical nutrition growing weightier babies. That’d be the first thing any OB would point to (I used to be married to one), not C-sections.

    2. Bob

      I believe the article is quite clear that it’s the discrepancy between the head size and the birth canal that’s the problem, not just the head size. They state “the mismatch in baby size and pelvis size (called fetopelvic disproportion)” is the problem. Both factors are involved in the need for C-section.

      1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

        my point is the headline is about head size, and the thesis is that heads are growing. They offer no evidence of that. Yes, they talk about the mismatch with the pelvis, but they don’t posit that there’s a perpetuation of too small pelvises because of c-sections. But that makes much more sense than c-sections triggering babies with big heads, mysteriously only passed on by moms to the female offspring.

  8. Wukchumni

    We subjected the Unabankers to an Ignoremberg Trial, where they agreed to pay tiny civil fines taken out of future winnings to be doled out by our government in a neat accounting trick that turned gamblers on the losing end of longshot wagers, into longshot winners.

    …haven’t they paid for their crimes?

  9. JohnnyGL


    Full debate of Bernie vs. Ted Cruz on CNN last night.

    I’m only 1/2 hr in, but Ted Cruz (though a reprehensible human being) is so much smoother and more skillful than Graham and Cassidy a few weeks ago.

    Also, I’m going to include this clip of an Indiana Trump supporter arguing with Ted Cruz. At the 1:30 mark, right there, for all to see, the understated intelligence of the working class voter. The Trump supporter, who otherwise doesn’t come off sounding particularly bright or well-informed says. “Where’s your Goldman Sachs jacket, we know your wife works there.” The guy doesn’t get much else right, but he gets that part dead-on.


    1. Wukchumni

      Ted is all hat and no Canada, and a formidable master debater, who could convince the devil via argument, to rent out time shares in hades, in lieu of free digs for his patrons, and pocket a cut for the idea.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        You flatter him too much. He has a plethora of idiots in Texas fooled and not much of anybody else.

        Now, if you want to be impressed with how he’s gotten away with being Zodiac all these years…

  10. Huey Long

    RE: Chipolte

    So let me get this straight. Some “analyst” at a financial firm decides that Chipolte’s earnings should be XYZ and if they fail to attain XYZ the stock tanks. If the stock tanks low enough, the board then fires management and hires new management that’s willing to put the squeeze on the workers (or crapify the firm by other means) to hit the aforementioned XYZ earnings numbers.

    If the new management fails in its endeavors to boost earnings and the stock tanks further, eventually vultures like KKR get in the game, take the company private, crapify everything, strip mine the company’s assets, and load it with debt until it goes belly up.

    This is my basic understanding of what’s going on with the equities markets across the board in this day and age. Am I missing anything here?

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t remember much greed in the 70’s, just the opposite, crippling inflation and a couple of gas shortages, one of which had a newly minted hellion waiting in line for almost an hour one time, to fill up a puke green Pinto that was the family hand me down car.

          1. Wukchumni

            The 70’s was the only time in my life that our military ceased to be the end all-be all that it’s been the rest of life so far since the oddly named Operation Urgent Fury, in terms of hero worship, which has only been perfected since 9/11.

            You gotta understand another thing about the 70’s, making money wasn’t the end all-be all that it became in the 80’s, the real start of greed being agreed to.

          2. Arizona Slim

            One of my friends was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. Let’s just say that she wasn’t a fan of Frank Borman’s leadership of the company.

          3. diogenes

            Yup, Frank Lorenzo so buggered the rule of law, Congress updated the BK laws to make sure he never happened again.

            And it didn’t, until the airlines took advantage of 9/11 and the Bush presidency to bust their unions.

    1. todde

      Generally the CEO and the stock analyst meet and come with an earnings number.

      And in my experience, they don’t want the number to be more or less than that. I’ve received phone calls before saying “We need $100 million in additional expenses, go thru your balance sheet.”

  11. Jim Haygood

    Leader worship:

    Some ruling Communist Party officials were moved on Thursday to song, dance and tears in adulation of Xi Jinping, a day after he opened a twice-a-decade conclave pledging to build a prosperous “modern socialist country” for a “new era.”

    Party officials hailed Xi as a wise and great lingxiu, or leader, a reverent honorific bestowed on only two others: Mao and his short-lived successor Hua Guofeng.

    Three outgoing members of the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee that Xi heads lauded “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” No other leader has had an eponymous ideology included in the party constitution while in office since Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.


    Xi’s rock star status is way overdone, and the title of his ideology is an awkward mouthful. He should try “Xi, Tea & Thee,” at least making a ritual nod of inclusion toward the powerless peasantry.

    And — wait for it — he just made the cover of The Eclownomist last week!


    It’s ovahhhh … time for the wheels to fall off. :-)

    1. Matt

      Their whole ideology is a mouthful, what’s a few more words?

      Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought-Deng Xiaoping Theory-Three Represents-Scientific Outlook on Development lead the way!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      May he live to be ten thousand years old.

      On the subject of lengthy names, you have this from Posthumous Name, Wikipedia:

      The number of characters in posthumous names was increasing. The emperors of the Tang Dynasty have names in between seven and eighteen characters. Those in the Qing Dynasty have twenty-one characters. For instance, that of the Shunzhi Emperor was “The Emperor of Order who Observes the Heavenly Rituals with a Solemn Fate, Destined to Unify, Establishes with Extreme Talented Insights, Admires the Arts, Manifests the Might, with Great Virtue and Vast Achievement, Reaches Humanity, Purely Filial” (體天隆運定統建極英睿欽文顯武大德弘功至仁純孝章皇帝, About this sound Listen to pronunciation (help·info): tǐ tiān lóng yùn dìng tǒng jiàn jí yīng ruì qīn wén xiǎn wǔ dà dé hóng gōng zhì rén chún xiào zhāng huáng dì).

      An emperor’s temple name (see which in Wikipedia for further information) is slightly shorter, the reader will be relieved to know.

      What you need, for day to day usage, is his era name (and an emperor could have several era names though).

      And perhaps the new era name can be Tian Jiao (From Google search of Tian Jiao: “I read tian jiao 天驕, a reference to strong and haughty tribes of the north inherited from the ancient words of the Xiongnu leader writing to …” Further on, Tian Jiao is explained as Heaven’s Proud Ones, or Favorite Ones).

      The name matches well against our Exceptionalism.

      We are exceptional; they are favorites.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Ponderous is the word that comes to mind with 21-character screeds, reminiscent of 18th century English sentences which could ramble on for pages.

        Xi’s Trumpian-populist successor, inspired by the concision of MAGA, likely will stick to no more than six characters. Like this six-word story:

        Longed for him. Got him. Sh*t.
        – Margaret Atwood


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But you should never say that to his son’s face though.

          Whether you should kowtow when in his presence was something that Macartney had to work out. From Macarthey Embassy, Wikipedia:

          The kowtow issue[edit]
          Even before Macartney’s departure from Britain, he and Dundas had anticipated that there might be some disagreement with the Chinese side on the details of the ceremonies and rituals to be performed at the meeting between Macartney and the emperor of China.

    3. David May

      The Chinese continue to lift more of their people out of poverty while the US heads in the opposite direction. Wages are approaching parity in some areas. The Chinese are accomplishing more in a couple of generations than the US in a couple of centuries. Poke fun at the Chinese for having an ideology; at least they have one. What does America have? “Greed is good” is not an ideology; it is a destructive impulse, a childish behavior, a refusal to deal with reality. America has about as much chance of being great again as Britain.

  12. Wukchumni

    [T]he world of inert objects might think too, in slow and strange ways which we can only borrow for a moment, and which disappear again into what sounds like silence.” I should have saved yesterday’s shroom picture for today!

    My world view whilst walking does a 180 when i’m on an out and back hike in the Sierra as the scenery goes through backwardation @ the turn, and sometimes it can look dramatically different as you wind your way back into the front of beyond.

    1. stefan

      There can be no doubt that artworks, for instance, are extensions of mind. Even the most fragmentary (the poetic fragments of Sappho for example) can lead to rich outpourings of subjective experience. When I visit a temple in Nara, Japan, as I did the other day, I come into immediate engagement with expressions of consciousness in carved wood and architecture that speak directly to me from minds seven hundred years old. In a similar manner, gravitational waves from neutron star collisions 1.5 billion light years away are now entering our awareness through new sensing devices.

      And on the other hand, if we place ourselves in the lukewarm baths of a sensory deprivation chamber, we will soon be hallucinating whatever comes to our pathetically isolated minds. The same thing happens to pilots when they lose track of the horizon in a fog. Which way is up?

  13. paulmeli

    I’m not sure how cutting wages is going to promote food safety…

    …or anything else.

    Comment of the day/week/year/millenium

      1. David May

        What a magnificent and inspiring woman. The Tories used to admonish the opposition as being economically illiterate but when confronted with FACTS, their reaction is to put their fingers in their ears and go “la la la la”.

        1. JBird

          Her attack on how they are trying to Incentivize people to work is good. Here in the States much of the country has ~10% unemployment and often it’s worse, and income earned often doesn’t meet the requirements of life like rent and food. The fact that there are increasing numbers of American homes living on two dollars a day per person, put’s the lie to incentivizing the lazy.

          <What it’s like to live on $2 a day in the United States

  14. Wukchumni

    The view of the NZ election from a friend in Auckland…

    “Half the country wringing their hands, the other half joyously singing The Red Flag. The disturbing part is the involvement of the Greens which explains the NZD’s small cardiac arrest. I presume life will go on as normal. The national pastime is breathlessly waiting for results – no one what happens after they come in.”

    1. mike

      New Zealand’s new government is a Labour Party-led coalition with the New Zealand First party, with the Greens offering confidence and supply in the 120-seat Parliament. 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern is the new Prime Minister. She brought Labour from 23% in the polls on August 1st to 37% at the September 23 election. the neo-liberal National Party gained the most seats, but not enough to form a majority in Parliament.
      In announcing their choice to form a coalition government with Labour, NZ First’s leader Winston Peters said: “Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism, not as their friend, but as their foe. And they are not all wrong. That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible – its human face. That perception has influenced our negotiations.”
      Saying anyone here is joyously singing the Red Flag is a bit OTT, we are Kiwis after all. Our dollar is one of the most-traded currencies by speculators, so bounces around like a rubber ball..
      But a lot more people now have real hope for a better life.

  15. ewmayer

    Latest example of stealth-inflation-via-product-shrinkage, which I never hear mentioned when one of our dear Central Wankers opines to the media about “too-low-inflation”: Preparing to ship a birthday package to a friend, and rummaging through my foot-wide stack of accumulated once-used USPS Priority Mail flat-rate boxes – I typically fold these up and save when I receive one, to ensure they get re-used at least once. (NOTE that such re-use is apparently a no-no, but I only re-use boxes if they are still in good shape and make sure my label and tape cover the ones. No forced-returns for me yet.)

    So I pull out a folded-up Large flat-rate box from last Xmas, and happen to notice that it seems a lot “lesser” than the ~10-year-old Large FR box nearby which I use to store miscellaneous shipping-related supplies like tape, labels, small padded mailers, and such. Comparing at the dimensions printed on the bottoms of the 2 boxes (and verifying with a ruler), both have the same 12″x12″ length x width, but the old is a full 8″ high, the new just 5.5″. In other words, the old box is just about 150% the volume of the new. And shipping prices for this service have been rising at least as fast as the official “too low” rate of inflation. Alas, even going 5 pages into the DuckDuckGoGo search results, I found no links conatining a history of the rising prices (or shrinking box sizes) for the various options, but ISTR prices 15 years ago being roughly 65-75% what they are today. (If anyone reading this can supply a link to hard data for a decently long time span, I would be most appreciative).

    1. jo6pac

      1. the new dozen is 10
      2. the new pound is 14oz
      3. the product is in a smaller container but looks the same

      I guess I should be happy a gallon is still a gallon

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Another cruel measure is the 14 ounce pint. Watch those bartenders and ask for a full pint glass. That extra little bit helps soothe the savage beast, along with appropriate music.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A baseball game is still nine innings and a football game two halves, unless it’s a tie.

      Maybe they will offer shorter songs or more terse poems (like haiku), so artists in those field can ‘produce more.’

      Another area to make smaller or shorter: the National Anthem.

    3. Huey Long


      I’ve noticed this across the board, especially with coffee:


      I remember when I was a kid my folks used to get Eight O’Clock Coffee by the pound at A & P, it was sold in whole bean only, and if you wanted it ground every check-out had a coffee grinder at the end of it and the cashier would grind it however rough or course you desired.

      Nowadays there’s no more A &P, Eight O’Clock is been reduced to a mere brand of a giant beverage conglomerate based in India, you’re lucky if you can find whole bean coffee at the grocer, and there’s certainly not a coffee grinder at every cash register. It’s a damned shame that all the good things in our society seem to keep getting “disrupted” and “innovated” out of existence.

  16. Wukchumni

    I was reading that Sancho Don’za has a piece of art on the wall of his gilded office, which the original of, has been on the wall of a museum in Chicago since 1933.

    Is the Chief Executive an artificial art official?

  17. Louis

    With respect to the CNBC article on Chipotle, it’s another case of “this is why we can’t have nice things”

    The truism about service comes to mind here: you can have cheap service; you can have fast service; you can have good service, but you can’t have more than two. If cheap is already one of the demands, it’s either not going to be good or not going to be fast.

    It’s also questionable how much more labor costs can realistically be cut—sure you pay employees at, or not much above minimum-wage and you assign hours based on payroll but then what? You could go, as some places have, to the insidious practice of just-in-time scheduling, more commonly known as “on call.” In essence, employees have to call in a couple hours before their scheduled shift starts find out whether they’re working—sometimes they are and sometimes there aren’t—and a “no” means no hours (or pay) for that day.

    The contagion of “do more with less” has hit the low-wage service sector as hard, if harder, than other parts of the economy. There are only so many efficiencies to be ironed out before things that need to get done either don’t get done right or don’t get done at all and in places like retail or food service this has a noticeable impact on the quality of service.

    1. Huey Long

      You could go, as some places have, to the insidious practice of just-in-time scheduling, more commonly known as “on call.” In essence, employees have to call in a couple hours before their scheduled shift starts find out whether they’re working—sometimes they are and sometimes there aren’t—and a “no” means no hours (or pay) for that day.

      I wonder how far crapification of jobs can go before people start taking up crime for a living en masse? I mean why suffer the indignities of a JIT schedule so you can make poverty level wages when you can mug a banker on Park ave instead?

      If violent crime’s not your thing, there’s still a ton of money to be made smuggling cigarettes, dealing in illicit drugs, and burglary.

      1. Louis

        JIT also makes it difficult to take on a second-job or go to school, for obvious reasons. While a lot of places will allow you block out days or times you’re unavailable, schedules change week to week–the amount of hours available to allocate is continent on sales–and all things being equal, the more days or times you’re unavailable the fewer hours you are likely to get.

        While a handful of jurisdictions have made JIT illegal, it is perfectly legal in the vast majority of states and localities. I think making JIT illegal everywhere is more important than raising the minimum-wage–a higher hourly rate doesn’t do you a lot of good if you can end up with zero hours for a week. Stabilize scheduling first then think about raising the minimum-wage.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        In far northern California, or Calabama if you’re an elitist, or DNO (Damn Near Oregon) if you have to explain it to someone who doesn’t understand it’s a 10 hour drive from SF to Portland…

        A young person has 4 choices for employment:
        1. Live on minimum wage of a part-time job and live with roommates. Full time does not exist, and you will never be able to afford to live alone, much less get married or have a life.
        2. Move to an area that is not an Economic Sacrifice Zone and never return. Hope things work out.
        3. If you care whether you hurt people or not, grow/sell marijuana.
        4. If you don’t care whether you hurt people or not, cook/sell meth or get in the pill game.

        I sold a business a year ago and work from home in a non-location-specific job that requires me to go to town about 4 times a month, which I still hate doing. I’m one of the lucky ones who escaped the 4-doored game show of doom that is growing up in this part of the country. I’m sure many of the other ESZs have similar templates. It’s TRIBAL out here in the hinterland.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I believe Oregon just outlawed just-in-time scheduling for all but a very few jobs, requiring at least a couple of days’ notice.

  18. WheresOurTeddy

    “How the Frightful Five [See “Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse,” below] Put Start-Ups in a Lose-Lose Situation”

    “Government by Organized Money is Just as Dangerous as Government by Organized Mob”- FDR

  19. Wukchumni

    When glorious leader was throwing paper towel rolls to needy Puerto Ricans a while back, would that be The Mutiny of the Bounty?

  20. kareninca

    I heard three things in the past month, in re particular elderly people.

    My dad’s best’s friend’s mom was living out her old age happily in rural New England, enjoying hanging out with her friends from childhood. She had two kids who were not exactly nearby, but not terribly far. But her eldest son in Tennessee kept nagging her to move down with him. Finally she gave in; her other two kids helped her move; she told them she wasn’t happy to be doing it but the elder son kept insisting. So she lived with him in TN for a short while, then he moved to Florida where he was starting a new church; he brought her with him. Then soon afterwards he sent her back to Tennessee, to a nursing home, where she died alone before her other kids could figure out what was up.

    I have a friend who has three siblings; he took care of his demented mom for about ten years in her home in Palo Alto. He is both a very nice person, and he had no other economic options. Now the four of them have put mom in a nursing home, since she has progressed a fair bit, although she does seem happy. It is a good nursing home; it is expensive; she will be out of cash in about 10 months. Her house is worth 2 million. They’ve decided to stop her anti-clotting medicine; a factor is cost (this is with the blessing of the doctors). I asked my friend about this “cost” aspect. He was kind of embarrassed; clearly his siblings are being firm about this. Now, this woman was a hideous human; I knew her when she was not demented. If her kids hate her, they have a good excuse. Still. Cost??? Her net worth is over 2 million. And her form of dementia is due to strokes.

    I ran into a coworker of my husband’s who I hadn’t seen in years. He gave me a hug, and then bragged about his kids; that was fine. Then I mentioned that my 93 y.o. father in law had moved in with us; he has been with us for over a year. He got a kind of sick look on his face, and said “It’s hard when they’re older.” I agreed. He then said, “I wish I had been more proactive with my mom.” Knowing she had been in FL (we are in CA), I said, “Well, people like to stay where they are.” He said again, “I should have been more proactive.” I said, “But you were; I had heard you were on the phone with her every day.” He said “But that was because she was so far away; I should have been more proactive.” And then he wandered off, repeating himself. Leaving me to wonder exactly what happened to that poor woman.

    I’m not sure what the lesson is here.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I think the lesson here is:

      As a society we have no idea what or why we’re doing what we’re doing.

      We subject our elders to all manner of disgusting disrespect knowing full well we will be as vulnerable as they some day. Why?

      Because we have no idea what or why we’re doing what we’re doing.


      1. kareninca

        I think that’s too charitable. I think my friend’s siblings know very well they are keeping their mom from getting optimal care, in order to get more of her money. And I think my dad’s friend’s mom’s son knew he was setting his mom up to die alone, and that her other kids would forever be saddened and enraged by that. There is cruelty and malice and greed here, along with cluelessness. But you’re right that it is a “society” problem. Beats me how to solve it, or how to avoid being a victim myself. Clearly having kids is not an answer (not that that was ever on my agenda).

      2. jrs

        Well one problem is if elderly people need real care-taking is people can’t necessarily quit their jobs to do it full time, and they can’t necessarily afford to pay for it either (the elderly themselves don’t necessarily have much money – but neither are their kids necessarily rolling in the dough – they may badly need their paychecks and not have that much to spare). Now this is different than kids deliberately seeking to get the most inheritance etc. but it’s probably far more common. The truth is: there is no way to take care of elderly people needing real care-taking on a ordinary income if those elderly themselves didn’t sock away a lot of money. To live in this society in many ways you have to be rich – get rich or die trying. But we aren’t really all of that mold (don’t have the singular focus on getting rich above all else, or the ruthlessness) or of that luck either.

  21. allan

    University of Chicago grad students vote to unionize [Chicago Tribune]

    Graduate students at the University of Chicago have voted to form a union, despite efforts from the school to delay the vote.

    After balloting Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board tallied 1,103 votes for the union and 479 against. There were 149 challenged ballots.

    The university has argued that the graduate students are primarily students rather than employees. The school later asked the NLRB to postpone the unionization vote and review its decision to allow an election. …

    Graduate Students United, which is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, is set to represent the graduate employees.

    The bargaining unit could comprise 2,500 teaching assistants, instructors, lecturers and others …

    Weirdly, or not, although the university claimed to the NLRB that graduate student instructors produce
    nothing of value, the undergraduate courses they teach are not priced accordingly.

  22. dk

    Some kayfabe in the making? If someone at Breitbart could/would, pro- or retroactively, directly or indirectly, get ICE to actually initiate such an arrest order, we have the makings of theater. How explicit such prompting would be and the media of the actual prompt could depend on whom is being prompted. The meme about fires caused by immigrant/other instead of climate is furthered, regardless.


    1. dk

      LATimes says it’s a debate!

      California’s deadliest fires set off debate about illegal immigration and sanctuary policies

      Giordano said ICE’s detainer request was not signed by a judge and therefore not legally enforceable. He also said that Gonzalez has been in Sonoma County jail eight times for minor misdemeanor offenses and that his staff notified ICE of his release in several of those cases.

      “Multiple federal court cases have determined these administrative detainers are unconstitutional,” Giordano said. “If ICE obtains a warrant, I can legally hold the person and would be happy to do so.”

      He also reiterated that there’s no evidence Gonzalez started the wildfires, the causes of which are still under investigation. Giordano went as far as to say “it appears highly unlikely” that Gonzalez was involved.

    2. Jen

      If PG&E could/would, pro- or retroactively, directly or indirectly, get ICE to actually initiate such an arrest order, we have the makings of cover-up.

      [adjusts tinfoil tiara]

  23. Oregoncharles

    “C-sections might be relaxing the evolutionary pressure against big babies”
    So what happens when safe C-sections aren’t available? Nature still bats last.

  24. tony

    Intersectionality looks a lot like Divide and Conquer to me. A common argument made in left wing spaces, at least back when I read them, was that capitalism is built on racism and misogyny, and if you defeat those capitalism disappears. Asking for a rationale lead to bunch of book recommendations and possibly a ban.

    The conclusion is usually that socialists and leftist should ally with capital against racists. Racist being defined very, very widely.

    1. JBird

      >>capitalism is built on racism and misogyny, and if you defeat those capitalism disappears.<>The conclusion is usually that socialists and leftist should ally with capital against racists. Racist being defined very, very widely.<<
      It does sounds like an idea some cunning capitalist would spread around.

    2. jrs

      Capitalism per se maybe less so (although colonialism ..), but the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE oh heck yes it was built on that. So a discussion of whether capitalism in the abstract requires that, I don’t know, but that discussion kind of becomes one of building castles and utopias in the air, and how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, because it’s not grounded in history nor current reality. Because real U.S. history and even current policy does depend on all those things.

      And even if we can imagine domestic capitalist (of the most ruthless sort possible) policy without those things, it’s still hard to imagine empire without them. And to what extent does capitalism require empire and colonialism and etc.? Guess that’s what your leftists friends were on about. But removing domestic ugliness of the alt-right sort will not cure that, not when we even now glorify the empire, although killing brown people in foreign lands seems as ugly as anything alt-right to me.

      1. JBird

        Part of my response to tony got chopped. I said Capitalism is separate from racism and misogyny has nothing to do with them directly although many capitalists have used them either as tactics, or excuses for some of their tactics.

        Capitalism has been a major impetus for empire, colonization, slavery, racism, the industrialized, (and deindustrialization) of entire nations and whole empires as well as the glorification, and deification, of both itself and the Free Market as well as the subordination of people to them; however, racism, and misogyny, existed since at least since the beginning of civilization, and class and slavery before then.

        What I meant by a cunning capitalist, is that tying capitalism, and, by extension, the free market, to things that have existed separately, while ignoring class which while it has also existed separately, is ,if anything, even more strongly produced and maintained by free market capitalism. It is an example of using race and gender inequality to ignore class inequality. If one cannot acquire food, clothing, and shelter, or worse, cannot provide for one’s family, what does racism or sexism matter? Trust me. Hunger fucking clarifies things. One cannot eat privilege.

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