Links 10/12/17

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Wild Sand Kittens Have Just Been Caught On Film For The First Time Ever And They’re Too Adorable Bored Panda (Furzy Mouse).

Scientists Can Read a Bird’s Brain and Predict Its Next Song MIT Technology Review

Central bankers face a crisis of confidence as models fail FT

How the world’s greatest financial experiment enriched the rich New Statesman

Why You Should Care About An Aluminum Supply Scandal In Japan Consumerist. Kobe Steel.

Junk Bond Boom Reaches Far Corners of the World WSJ

So You Want to Buy a Stake in a Private Equity Manager? The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

Hurricane Alley

Displaced by the Storm: Texas Evacuees Without Options Texas Monthly

A Month After Hurricane Irma, Florida Cities Are Still Struggling to Clean Up Governing

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: US officials privately acknowledge serious food shortage Guardian

The Growing Puerto Rico Disaster Ian Welsh (Furzy Mouse).

On-the-Ground Reports Destroy Trump’s Sunny Portrayal of Puerto Rico Recovery Common Dreams

Why many didn’t get cellphone warnings before Northern California wildfires swept through Los Angeles Times. Issues with Wireless Emergency Alerts.

Catalonia

Spain gives Catalan leader eight days to drop independence Reuters

Can Spain keep it together? Madrid ponders direct rule in Catalonia France24

Catalan referendum stirs up Balkan nationalists’ hopes Japan Times

Catalonia on the Brink NYRB

Brexit

Brexit talks are at a standstill, warn diplomats FT

Peering over the cliff-edge: why Dominic Cummings fears Brexit will fail Prospect Magazine (Richard Smith). Richard Smith: “Major rat sighting” (and in short form).

The legal ins and outs of implementation periods: avoiding the negotiation noose Brexit Central

UK logistics sector cautions over ‘no-deal Brexit’ Lloyd’s Loading List

Britain Reportedly Considering Joining NAFTA Right as Trump Hopes to Burn It Down Foreign Policy

Syraqistan

Saudi Arabia’s Revolution From the Top Has No Place for Critics Bloomberg

Hamas says reached deal with Palestinian rival Fatah Reuters

Underground in Raqqa LRB

North Korea

Your Apocalyptic Fantasies Aren’t Helping the North Korea Crisis Foreign Policy

Jimmy Carter offers to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un The Hill

China?

China’s richest control combined wealth of US$2.6 trillion: Hurun Report South China Morning Post

China’s `Financial Statecraft’ Takes Shape in Risk for Investors Bloomberg

A new front opens in Asia’s water wars Asia Times (Re Silc).

Growing complexities threaten ASEAN consensus politics Nikkei Asian Review

New Cold War

Ex-NATO chief urges allies to boost help for Ukraine AFP

Armed Ground Robots Could Join the Ukrainian Conflict Next Year Defense One

Spy Spin Fuels Anti-Kaspersky Campaign Moon of Alabama. “If one believes all the now made claims then Israel hacked Kaspersky, which was hacking an NSA employee who had stolen NSA hacks, while being hacked by Russia which was hacked by the NSA, while the NSA was warned by Israel about Russian hacks. Makes sense?”

Leading Lawmakers Wonder Why Trump Is Dragging Feet on Russia Sanctions Foreign Policy

Trump Transition

Triumph of the Shill Corey Robin, n+1. “The political theory of Trumpism.”

The Infantilization of the President The Atlantic

The Adults in the Room NYRB

‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer WaPo

* * *

Pledge to Impeach Trump, a Key Donor Demands of Democrats NYT

Democrat Unveils, Then Shelves, Articles of Impeachment Against Trump NBC

Faster, Steve Bannon. Kill! Kill! Robert Kagan, WaPo. “The rest of Republican voters should leave the party until it earns back the right to their support. They should change their registration and start voting for Democratic moderates and centrists, as some Republicans did in Virginia recently, to give them a leg up in their fight against the party’s left wing.”

Is Washington bungling the Census? Politico

Groundhog Day at the IRS Federal News Radio

Democrats in Disarray

The Democrats cannot ignore their Harvey Weinstein problem The Week. Sure they can.

Gov. Cuomo Could Oust DA Vance But They Share A Party — And Donors Business Insider

Health Care

Trump healthcare order could face strong legal objections Reuters. See NC on “association plans.”

Zombie Care Robert Laszewski (interview), Sinclair

“I recently gave birth in Japan. Here is some of the hospital food I ate” Hahahah1111111, Imgur. For example:

I checked with Clive to make sure this wasn’t some kinda fancy private suite, and he replied: “No, that’s just your standard Japanese hospital room.” Sigh.

There are 3 types of single-payer ‘concern trolls’ — and they all want to undermine universal healthcare Los Angeles Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

Nearly Half the Pentagon Budget Goes To Contractors The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Germany’s largest trade union pushes for shorter working hours for 3.9 million workers Independent

Column Bad news: Your 401(k) won’t give you a decent retirement Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. A successful long con.

The people GoFundMe leaves behind The Outline

Is There a Constitutional Right to Cash in on the Poor? The Marshall. Appalling.

Post-racial rhetoric, racial health disparities, and health disparity consequences of stigma, stress, and racism Washington Center for Equitable Growth

How Norms Change The New Yorker

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

.

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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.

155 comments

  1. Terry Flynn

    re: biases change in the New Yorker.

    Whilst I don’t disagree with what has been demonstrated, it fails to “join the final dots” between these behaviours and underlying psychological personality type. For instance Schwartz’s list of values is good at placing people on the conceptual circle with segments showing if you “like authoritarianism” or “bow to tradition” etc. Plus Schwartz himself now recognises and disavows the old bad scoring system that is vulnerable to response styles rooted in cultural/other factors.

    Such evaluation (streets ahead of silly myers-briggs etc) may be useful in better identifying who to direct what type of intervention at (or maybe just tweaking it). But here, unless the academics will step up to evaluate people more, we may end up having to rely on big companies who already are doing so.

    Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    “Therefore strive and search, ponder and invent all sorts of new stratagems and deceits, double-dealing and finagling, tricks and feints, as to how you can deceive your fellow man as swiftly as you can, and utterly ruin the poor, so that your traditional and laudable praise, with us and the world, becoming still more pleasing and not fall into decline.”

    From a 1623 contemporary German broadsheet, in “The Kipper und Wipper Inflation, 1619-23: An Economic History with Contemporary German Broadsheets” (Yale Series in Economic and Financial History)

    Sounds rather like today, no?

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I wanna tell you about Wall*Street and the Big Beat
        Comes out of the lower Manhattan swamps
        Cool and slow with plenty of precision
        With a back beat narrow and hard to master

        Some call it heavenly in it’s brilliance
        Others, mean and ruthful of the American Dream
        I loathe the fiends that have gathered together on this thin raft
        They have constructed financial pyramids in honor of their escaping
        This is the land where capitalism died

        The nests of the traders in the green-felt jungle are brightly feathered
        They’re saying forget wrong and right
        Live with us in forests of cash, for sure
        Out here on the perimeter there are no scars
        Out here we is atoned for bad loans – immaculate.

        Listen to this, and I’ll tell you ’bout the heartache
        I’ll tell you ’bout the heartache and the loss of law
        I’ll tell you ’bout the hopeless fight
        The meager pay for souls forgot
        I’ll tell you ’bout the Unabankers without a soul

        I’ll tell you this
        No eternal reward will forgive them now for wasting the pawns

        I’ll tell you ’bout Wall*Street and the Big Beat
        Soft drivin’, slow and mad, like some new language

        Now, listen to this, and I’ll tell you ’bout the Wall*Street beat
        I’ll tell you ’bout the Texas ratios
        I’ll tell you ’bout the hopeless fight
        Wondering ’bout the the American Dream
        Tell you ’bout the industry without a soul

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laAT18_YbDo

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            A twofer Thursday:

            Before you again do something remiss
            I’d like to have another diss
            Another flashing chance at bliss
            Another diss, another diss

            You fellows are bright and filled with pay
            Excuse me for causing you pain
            The things you did were too insane
            We’ll meet again, we’ll meet again

            Oh tell me where your motivation lies
            That greed & dishonesty justifies
            Deliver me from reasons why
            You’d rather lie, I’d rather cry

            The Cristal shift is being filled
            A thousand ills, a thousand shills
            A million ways to spend your dimes
            When you go to jail, I’ll drop a line

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU1sLx1tjPY

            Reply
  3. bronco

    The concept of emergency alerts sounds great but there must be a glitch.

    I mean the people who’s houses burned probably didn’t have it set up when they passed papers or it would have warned them about buying a house in an area that catches fire every other year.

    WHOOOP WHOOOP !!!!! DANGER !!! DANGER!!! DO NOT SIGN THAT MORTGAGE!!!

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I live in the forest for the trees-literally surrounded by them, with just a scintilla of cement. Probably just the opposite of where most dwell in what I consider a fiendish version of hell.

      The reward to risk of living in such a manner has paid off handsomely so far, but i’m under no delusion that Elysian Fields are fireproof, and that’s what insurance is for.

      Reply
    2. BoycottAmazon

      Hehe, we’re all helping pay for part of their stupidity, no matter how remotely removed you are. The blessing of a modern economic system.

      Reply
    3. Anon

      Not all the homes lost were in the so-called ‘urban/wildland interface’. Many were in a suburban setting (close together) that was swarmed by a storm of fiery, wind-blown embers that torched random homes that, being close together, set a neighboring one on fire. Total destruction ensued.

      Fire departments were easily overwhelmed by the scope/spread of the conflagration.

      Reply
    1. tongorad

      That’s depressing beyond words. Here’s the headline:

      Distressed Investors Are Already Buying Houston Homes for 40 Cents on the Dollar

      Flooded homes, big money, and hard choices.

      “Hard Choices.” One of those words/phrases, such as “folks,” that makes me grind my teeth.

      Reply
      1. mcdee

        When a politician or business mogul talks about “hard choices” it means they are about to do something really bad to other people.

        Reply
    2. David

      Also: “Puerto Rico: US officials privately acknowledge serious food shortage”

      Mass exodus of populace. Hedge fund swoops in and buys. And in a blink of the eye, a new paradise is born with spas and gatehouses and private airports.

      Not a failure of response, a design feature of it.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The next target: Distressed Real Estate in Northern California Wine Country.

        How many will rebuild there? How many will sell out?

        Reply
        1. Anon

          I imagine that many of the suburban homes had fire insurance (often a mortgage requirement). While it doesn’t get them back to “whole”, rebuilding on a pre-existing foundation is easier than without, and proximity to a job and the cost of land/housing in CA makes rebuilding easier (but not easy).

          Reply
          1. bronco

            Rebuild it and they will cancel your fire insurance . Then 3 years later it burns again and you walk away with nothing?

            Reply
  4. cnchal

    Bad news: Your 401(k) won’t give you a decent retirement Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. A successful long con.

    I think Michael is in on the con.

    . . . They’re not offered by enough employers, they’re not taken up by enough workers, and for most people, their balances aren’t large enough to provide for a decent retirement. . .

    After the finance parasites eat most of the fictional gains, you get leftovers.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Anyone who ever thought that a 401(k) by itself was a “good” retirement vehicle was radically misinformed. Unfortunately not enough citizens and workers have figured that out to their detriment.

      I’m also a bit surprised when people choose to retire (and don’t have health or other issues) in their early 60s and expect Social Security and a small amount of savings to be “enough” to last them the distance.

      I’ve recently been strongly advising a friend of mine not quit his full-time job in retail – which he hates due to a nasty supervisor – until he’s at least 65 so that he can get Medicare. Otherwise, he’ll go a year or more without health care insurance, which is not a good idea for him (he has health issues). Nasty supervisors are really bad, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and hang on.

      Not blaming the victim here, but people really do need to make a better assessment of their financial status before retiring or quitting.

      Reply
      1. justanotherprogressive

        One of the big problems is those “retirement seminars”. I went to a couple before I retired (just to make sure I was ready) and they made the finances of retirement look so easy. It was like they were trying to get people to retire.

        What they didn’t tell me:
        1. They all assumed an “inflation” of 2%, as though all your costs will only go up 2% each year. But every single bill you have, like your power, your cable, etc., will go up more than 2% each year, at least mine have.
        2. They all assumed a 7% return on your IRA or other types of savings, but in retirement, you will likely want to put your money somewhere “safe” because you won’t be able to add to it to make up for losses, and “safe investments” won’t return 7%.
        3. They all assumed that your pension and SS would rise at the inflation rate – but they don’t tell you the way the inflation rate is calculated – and it won’t be in your favor. Your bills will “inflate” faster than the inflation rate you will get from SS or your pension.
        4. They never include the costs of housing maintenance – they just assume that your house will stay like it is right now, and we all know houses age just like we do and you need money in savings to take care of those necessary expenses.

        I’m sure other people can think of more things those seminars didn’t tell them…..

        Reply
        1. RUKidding

          I’ve been several of those as well. Some offered by private companies and some by govt or non-profit organizations.

          I have noted in more recent times that the advice has gotten a bit better about the issues that you so correclty highlight in your post – issues about the inflation of typical monthly bills that we all pay, issues about rising medical costs (even for those with “good” health insurance plans), home maintenance, etc.

          In fact, one recent workshop I attended was emphatically encouraging people to really really consider when they stoppped working – if they had a choice – and maybe trying to work at least a few years longer.

          So, at least in my experience, I am hearing somewhat better and more realistic advice being offered. There are numerous free seminars one can attend. It would be beneficial for everyone to go to at least one.

          Reply
        2. cnchal

          1. They all assumed an “inflation” of 2% . . .

          2. They all assumed a 7% return on your IRA or other types of savings . . .

          assume = ass u me

          How is it possible for everyone to get a “return” that is 3.5 times the inflation rate?

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Re 401k scam: There’s of course a yuuuge hard sell for 401ks, using all the tools in the Bernays tool box. Even banner ads at many a “consumer” web site, urging one to invest one’s 401K in Bitcoin! We have Options!

        So we are advised, consistent with the Narrative, that once again it is all up to “the individual” to figure out, in a competitive, dog-eat-dog, rational-actor contest, how to protect our mope selves against the vicissitudes of the modern world. The one largely created and maintained by the sharpest and most pathogenic among us. It’s up to us mopes to try to strip out the frauds and ‘mere puffery’ from the ‘solid advice’ when it comes to “exposing ourselves to risk” which we are told (those of us that have a few spare dollars left out of our looted labor) to ‘get exposed,’ as the only way to “get ahead.” And of course there are lots of sharp people pushing to move whatever that pile of stuff labeled the “Social Security Trust Fund” over into the gentle well-manicured hands of “investment advisers” on Wall Street.

        The advice about the need to look carefully at our “financial status” before retiring (or for many of us, having to stop working for physical reasons, or just because there isn’t paid work for us any more, even precariat min-wage work), is wise, of course. If one was neoliberal wise, in the way of Wall Street wisdom among the successful looters there, one might be “comfortable” in that blessed state of retirement. If not wise and skillful in the way some here appear to be, not blessed with the advantages of birth or education or those mental quirks that lead to “seeing profit” of the Big Short type or other market plays, one might be advised to move (if one can afford to) to a state where assisted suicide (and the death spas and “hospice facilities” that some “wise” venture capitalists are “investing in”) are readily available.

        And of course there’s always an opiod option…

        Arbeit Bis Tod. But hey! That’s how it is — get over it! No defined benefit pension or safety net for us! Can’t afford it! No shareholder value! Think of the horrible deficit!

        Reply
    2. s. brown

      I remember being told by my big corporate employer that they matched my contributions to a certain point dollar by dollar. It was a lie. They matched my dollar with a corporate stock. And you had to have a certain ratio of corporate stock in your 401K (non-negotiable). So, when their stock tanked in 2001 thanks to the dot com bubble, there was little I could change in my 401K. Down, down, down it went. And that does not even take in the other aspects of this scam: the fact that you get really terrible choices and pay through the nose for Wall Street’s “management fees.” It’s all a con and when the next crash comes along, ordinary workers are going to get wiped out again.

      Reply
    3. Jess

      There have always been two huge problems with 401(k) plans:

      First, to be effective you need to know how much money you’ll need and you can only make an accurate estimate if you know how long you’ll live after retirement. Good luck figuring that out with any certainty.

      Second, the value of a 401(k) is totally dependent on the value of the stocks that make it up. And value depends on having equilibrium between the number of buyers and sellers. If ten million retires want to see some stock but there are only five million buyers, the prices each of those retirees will get is going to go way down.

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      Does Hiltzik happen to mention anything about the mope-retirement-prospects-destroying effetcs of a decade-plus of radical monetary policy by the Fed, which has nuked the concept of “safe investments with decent yield” and effectively forced the mopes into the elite-parasite-rigged casinos that are the financial markets? Of course he doesn’t – it’s your fault, mope, for not planning ahead and sacrficing even more of your nonexistent elite-wage-suppression-regime-afflicted earnings to max out you negative-real-yielding IRA contributions. How could you be so irresponsible? Well, ya better not plan on any kind of bailout, mope, those are only for elite crooks.

      Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re:

    A new front opens in Asia’s water wars Asia Times (Re Silc).

    Just over 10 years ago I was in India and Nepal – many roads in the lower Himalaya were closed because – so the local newspapers reported – the Chinese had without warning opened up their dams and caused downriver floods destroying numerous bridges and valley roads. The only explanation I could find is that this was a warning shot, a statement of who owns the sources of most of the regions rivers.

    In fact, China’s cutoff of water data, despite the likely impact on vulnerable civilian communities, sets a dangerous precedent of indifference to humanitarian considerations. It also highlights how China is fashioning unconventional tools of coercive diplomacy, whose instruments already range from informally boycotting goods from a targeted country to halting strategic exports (such as of rare-earth minerals) and suspending Chinese tourist travel.

    Now, by seizing control over water – a resource vital to millions of lives and livelihoods – China can hold another country hostage without firing a single shot. In a water-stressed Asia, taming China’s hegemonic ambition is now the biggest strategic challenge.

    China has become very good at flexing its muscles without needing military bases. Ironically, the Trump of Corey Robins article:

    Triumph of the Shill Corey Robin, n+1. “The political theory of Trumpism.”

    … may understand this better than the foreign policy establishment.

    “China is our enemy,” Trump says, and “the military threat from China is gigantic.” As a result, “we’ve got to have a President who knows how to get tough with China.” Does that entail an arms race, more aggressive deployments in East Asia, nuclear brinkmanship? No, just the opposite:

    We need a President who will sign the bipartisan legislation to force a proper valuation of China’s currency. We need a President who will slap the Chinese with a 25 percent tax on all their products entering America if they don’t stop undervaluing the yuan. We need a President who will crack down on China’s massive and blatant intellectual property theft that allows China to pirate our products (maybe if Obama didn’t view entrepreneurs and businesspeople as the enemy he’d be more aggressive about this). Most of all, we need a President who is smart and tough enough to recognize the national security threat China poses in the new frontier of cyber warfare.+

    Having emphasized the military nature of China’s threat, Trump makes no mention of a military response, save for a glancing reference to cyberwarfare. The antidote to the rising power of China is not a swaggering warrior speaking softly and carrying a big stick (Trump, characteristically, wonders “why we don’t speak more loudly”). It is a leader who knows “how to out-negotiate the Chinese.” And what is the final victory Trump envisions? A company in Georgia that will provide, one day, 150 jobs to Americans making chopsticks — which they will “ship . . . to China! How great is that?”

    Reply
  6. jCandlish

    Re: an Aluminum Supply Scandal In Japan Consumerist. Kobe Steel.

    While industrial metals are specified as much or more for their manufacturing properties than they are for their end-use characteristics it should be remembered that the Eschede derailment was caused by improper metalury.

    Bloomberg is reporting that Central Japan Railway Co, which operates bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka, said aluminum components connecting wheels to train cars failed Japanese industry standards. Of the tested parts, 310 were found to be sub-standard and will be replaced at the next regular inspection, spokesman Haruhiko Tomikubo said. They were produced by Kobe Steel over the past five years…

    You would think that even without the chain of custody required by ISO manufacturing standards someone might have noticed that the manufacturing tooling was performing better than expected.

    Heads’up Consumerist: High speed rail is hard.

    .

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I used to work in High Speed Rail and yes – it is very hard, the engineering tolerances and issues are more similar to aviation design than to conventional rail.

      I think the Kobe Steel scandal has the potential to be quite devastating for Japan – ironic really, as it was the Kobe earthquake which did so much to undermine Japanese domestic faith in their engineers (there were numerous subsequent scandals about supposedly earthquake proof buildings that collapsed). ‘Made in Japan’ has often been a form of certification of quality in itself. If this scandal expands – and it seems sure to do so – it will take years for Japanese products to overcome the damage.

      Reply
      1. Terry Flynn

        No idea if remotely relevant but I do find it curious that this crapification has occurred alongside a push to move Japanese academia into the wider world. Professor positions used to be earned automatically by length of tenure. Now my best friend gets oodles of money from the VC at his university because he’s the only one fulfilling the new criteria of getting internationally recognised publications etc.

        is Japan improving by having to engage more with the world in the field of information? Or is such engagement leading to crapification? I certainly don’t know.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’ve read various things over the years suggesting that there has been an ongoing erosion of internal standards in many Japanese companies due to competition from China and shrinking domestic markets. I’ve read it suggested that the worst offenders are traditional Japanese companies that try to adopt more ‘foreign’ structures to remain competitive, but often don’t understand very well what they are doing and end up with companies that are hybrids of the worst features of the Japanese and Western models. This was certainly the case with elements of the Japanese banking system.

          But I am surprised to see this happen in a ‘pure’ engineering company. There must be something very rotten in its corporate culture to have allowed this to happen.

          Reply
            1. Terry Flynn

              Yeah I’m inclined to think systemic change is change for its own sake rather than be based on an evaluation about *whether* a particular changed actually worked.

              Reply
        2. bronco

          Does the older Japanese way of doing things really have much to recommend it? I mean if you stayed long enough to get tenure you get in even if you are terrible? Doesn’t exactly sound like an ideal system.

          Before that there was a method that could lead to one Japanese sergeant telling 500 privates to charge at a machine gun with a bayonet yelling Banzai!! and that didn’t work out very well either .

          Reply
          1. Terry Flynn

            Indeed I wasn’t intending to defend the old academic system which (as my friend noted) is a joke.

            But I just wondered if the Japanese might be in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

            Reply
      2. BoycottAmazon

        Who’s going to replace them though? Both German and French forging in nuclear power plants were found to have faked documentation. I believe Korea has similarly stumbled, and the USA no longer has the capacity to do such large forging/castings. Crapification seems to an epidemic in capitalism.

        Reply
    2. Tom

      Don’t worry, Kobe Steel declares it’s determined to get to the bottom of its systemic, decade-long glitch.

      “In its announcement, Kobe Steel said that it has set up a committee to look into quality issues, being headed by company CEO Hiroya Kawasaki.

      The company has also contracted an outside law firm to conduct its own investigation.”

      I see no need to involve any objective third-party experts to investigate. After all, the sub-standard Kobe products were only used for innocuous applications such as attaching wheels to high-speed trains that can travel up 140 mph.

      Besides, Kobe officials are quick to reassure everyone that even though employees had falsified inspection certificates for up to 10 years at four factories, that’s no reason to doubt the internal review process now:

      “Verification and inspection to date have not recognized specific problems casting doubts on the safety of the nonconforming products,” Kobe said in its statement.

      So calm down everyone — you’d think they’d been accused of selling “fake steel.”

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “contracted an outside law firm to conduct its own investigation…”

        “involve any objective third-party experts to investigate….”

        Is the problem here that they ‘contracted’ instead ‘involved?”

        To me, an outside law firm is third-party (unless we say hiring, contracting or involving that third party makes it not third party).

        Whether that outside law is objective or not is similar to the question of whether a third party is objective or not.

        And so, we’d like to know which outside law firm, before commenting on whether they are or can be objective (the same task as judging any third party).

        Reply
        1. Tom

          You make fair points but I’m still a little uncomfortable with all the investigating being done under the direction and on the dime of Kobe Steel. I don’t pretend to know what the alternative is, but it seems when you have hundreds of customers that are affected — in many corporations, in many industries (including aerospace and defense industries) and in many countries — you’ve got a lot of people with skin in the game trusting and waiting for Kobe to give them the official version of what happened.

          Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Goooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    You never want to go into combat with money in your pockets and loose change can get you killed in a firefight if Charlie hears a quarter jingling against the likes of a nickel. That’s why everybody in the unit relies on bitcoins in the field, safe and with a long history of being money, virtually indestructible as an added bonus. Calling up a F-35 to spray manna around your perimeter when things get hot used to require a bank wire, but now we just let our fingertips lead us to the promise sorry note land.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Fiatnam’s war economy shows signs of recovering from the pounding administered by Hurricane Hahhhhvey, if our weekly version of Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator is to be believed.

      New unemployment claims came down again today (that’s a good thing), raising the indicator despite slight declines in its other two components, industrial materials prices and consumer comfort. Chart:

      http://ibb.co/bsNiQb

      Nevertheless it appears weeks of healing will be needed for the indicator to climb back its crest of late August, if indeed it ever does. Them were the good old days …

      Reply
  8. Octopii

    The Arlington office of KGSS, Kaspersky’s government services arm, is on the same floor as mine. Their entry lobby has been dark and empty forever. No receptionist, no lights. Mail piles up and mysteriously disappears. We all thought they were a dead company but by chance (a glimpse of the back office) discovered that there are a bunch of people working there, using an unmarked second door for entry. Once it a while someone will come out to use the bathroom, head down, no eye contact. It’s creepy.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      At least CIA-Langley and the NSA headquarters have those bright, open, airy atrium entry points, with helpful receptionists to direct one directly… and such nice people! with smiles and eye contact all around!

      Makes one wonder, if the reporting is correct (anyone nearby care to confirm?) what “government services” might mean… one can be sure those Kremlin-linked Kaspersky offices are well and truly surveilled by our omnicompetent, omnipresent security services, all of them…

      Reply
      1. justanotherprogressive

        Ah, but CIA’s and NSA’s contractors offices are spread all over NOVA, MD and DC. I had no idea there was a “satellite office” in the building just behind where I lived in Crystal City until I saw picketers there one day, and a friend who also contracted for one of the “companies” confirmed it…..

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          NOVA — Apocryphal tale about GM — supposedly had difficulty selling their “Nova” product in Mexico and other latin countries, because “No va!” in Spanish was supposed to mean “Does not go…” and of course the old six-banger Novas had their problems with “quality…” Maybe some of us remember the “Nova stance,” where the rear of the car kind of hound-dog loped a little off to one side, because the little nub on the rear axle that engaged a hole in the rear leaf springs was soft and weak so the rear axle would ‘dislocate” a bit…

          I did own a more recent Nova, which was actually a Toyota Corolla manufactured mostly in the US by a consortium of Toyota and GM, under the business name of “New United Motor Company.” It actually did “Va” pretty good, until I got t-boned by an irresponsible young woman driving uninsured in the car she “borrowed” her aunt…

          NOVA, hahahaha…. What exactly do all those contractors and Alphabetters do, besides bleeding the larger economy and taking in each others’ dirty laundry…?

          Reply
    2. Bittercup

      I can’t quite find it now, but I could swear there was an article a while ago about how KGSS was never really able to gain any kind of real market foothold even prior to all of this. This is the best I could get, which also contains the factoid that a grand total of 10 people, all American citizens, work (or used to work) there.

      It’s probably for the best that they’re averting their eyes as they’re darting into the bathroom. I mean, this is frankly just basic office etiquette. If they were staring down other bathroom users, that’d be creepier by far.

      Reply
  9. jcf76

    My Japanese wife was amazed (and not in a good way) by the quality of the hospital food in Ireland. Her take on it was “How can they expect you to get better if they don’t give you nutritious food?”

    Reply
  10. Tracie Hall

    Great picture! What an adorable little rodent, curled up with that corn like it’s a stuffed toy never to be relinquished!

    Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It’s a bettong, another marsupial, but these guys burrow and love corn apparently. They call them rag-kangaroos.

        I’m pretty certain wallabys and possums are aboreal.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          Wallabies, not to be confused with wombats, are small kangaroos. There are still some around Cairns, occupying the fields and coastal forests – but the developers keep moving them on. Not arboreal.

          I suspect possums are arboreal, although most of those living in Australian and NZ are actually in the cities, living side by side with people, often in roof spaces.

          I think the US has an animal similar to the possum…

          Nice pic

          Reply
      1. Shilo

        Too big…. takes up that man’s lap. I vote bushy tailed woodrat. Common but shy here on the Oregon coast. I smell them before I see them. They love to get into attics.

        Reply
  11. petrel

    I found this on my Twitter feed this morning.

    https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/918309958411833344

    The link is supposedly an excerpt of a conversation between Robert Reich and a former Republican congressman. An excerpt of that excerpt:

    He: But now it’s personal. It started with the Sessions stuff. Jeff was as loyal as they come. Trump’s crapping on him was like kicking your puppy. And then, you know, him beating up on Mitch for the Obamacare fiasco. And going after Flake and the others.

    ME: So they’re pissed off?

    He: Not just that. I mean they have thick hides. The personal stuff got them to notice the other things. The wild stuff, like those threats to North Korea. Tillerson would leave tomorrow if he wasn’t so worried Trump would go nuclear, literally.

    Me: You think Trump is really thinking nuclear war?

    He: Who knows what’s in his head. But I can tell you this. He’s not listening to anyone. Not a soul. He’s got the nuclear codes and, well, it scares the hell out of me. It’s starting to scare all of them. That’s really why Bob spoke up.

    I’m starting to have deep anxiety on a number of fronts. Anyone care to talk me off the ledge? Gracias.

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      Felt the same and about two months ago and went cold turkey on TV news and radio news = NONE.

      Instead, I took up a new hobby and pursued some old ones. This site is one of 3 news sites I check in on daily – outside of that, I refrain.

      Never felt better!!

      Do yourself a favor – tune out. The thoughts in your head deeply effect your mood and your mood deeply effects your mental and physical health. Fill your head with positive thoughts. I hope you find peace.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        Thank you, Kevin. Yes, my partner’s comment – “Chris, I really don’t want to know” – is pretty typical in my circle of friends.

        For me, I can’t avoid being curious – and the downside to this is that knowledge of what is wrong and how it could be fixed if only… well, it does affect my mood and not always in a good way.

        I have been feeling very uneasy about your President and his stance toward North Korea. Having one person with the capacity to launch nukes sure gives the US muscles and flexibility, but it doesn’t make the ROW comfortable. Starting to have the same thoughts now and again that I had in the 70s growing up with the thought of MAD. That’s not a good thing.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Don’t worry Race Bannon is gonna kick some a** and MAEGAAA (Make America Even Greater Again And Again)

          Reply
        2. LyonNightroad

          If it is any consolation I’ve heard that the odds of destroying the entire world were vastly overestimated during the cold war. Nuclear winter is now thought to be much more unlikely, life would probably go on in other parts of the world.

          Reply
    2. justanotherprogressive

      It is on Robert Reich’s facebook page so I must assume it is true. Tillerson had better not leave until after Trump does. Isn’t that a frightening thing to say?

      But now I understand why Tillerson is hanging on……

      Reply
    3. RUKidding

      Like Kevin, above, I stay away from most news, but I do come here and few other places. And I have seen other things like this conversation between Reich and the former Republican Congressman. Of course, we also know for sure what Bob Corker and Flake have said, as well as some others.

      I was very unhappy when Trump won. Clinton is a horror show, but I had grave concerns about Trump’s stability, capabilities, etc, etc. Et voila: the worst of my concerns have come true.

      It’s certainly NOT GOOD, I don’t care how many people here want to wax lyrical about all the “good things” that Trump is allegedly doing (which I’m not really seeing).

      It’s just not a good situation. And to think that I have to hope and pray and cross my fingers that someone like Rex Tillerson stays on the job just to keep someone’s stubby fingers off the nuclear button.

      UGH! What. A. Mess.

      If someone wants to talk me off the ledge, have at it.

      Reply
    4. bronco

      Ok I’ll give it a shot .

      We are all doomed brother , life is a grim business , no one ever makes it out alive.

      Or as Alfred E Neuman used to say “what me worry?? “

      Reply
  12. Vatch

    Faster, Steve Bannon. Kill! Kill! Robert Kagan, WaPo.

    From the article:

    for who can be sure that a thoroughly Trumpist Republican Party won’t be able to defeat a Democratic Party apparently bent on nominating unelectable candidates on the left?

    Which unelectable left wing candidates is he referring to? Hillary Clinton, the sycophant of billionaires? Jon Ossoff? Those are not left wing candidates; I think Mr. Kagan is confused.

    Reply
    1. joe defiant

      God that article was the most disgusting centrist “i’m doing great so leave everything alone” article I have read since the DNC wikileaks. They are hoping for ONE PARTY. Then they can all save money on the farcical election and the rest of us can be jailed and/or killed as extremists.

      Reply
  13. Craig H.

    Underground in Raqqa Patrick Cockburn

    Is Cockburn really behind ISI* lines in Raqqa? HUGE props to him if he is and I hope we don’t have a Cockburn beheading youtube in the queue, but it wasn’t clear to me if this is first-hand or its second-hand from an inside source. In which case I would rather it be titled something like sourced from a guy who I trust is behind ISI* lines in Raqqa which I admit is a bit long for a headline.

    Moon in Alabama the other day had a rather alarming piece where:

    some Russian general was taken out by an ISI* attack; the Russians claimed American intelligence was involved; they are pissed; they said, ‘if you guys pull that again there will be some serious consequences for sure; we are so pissed there may be some serious consequences any way. Just what do you think you are doing?’

    Or words to that effect; this is not verbatim. And it’s written by anonymous blogger with unnamed sources. So I am left with the feeling that nobody who can do anything about this (except withdraw; for God’s sake let them have it) knows what is happening.

    This story really sucks and it is way more important than most of the nonsense on the news.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Moon of Alabama does cite retractions for at odds reporting on the front page and in the same size type as the original story. How many others do?

      Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        MoA also spreads unsubstantiated rumors from Twitter from less than reliable people. I remember laughing over his claim back in May that Jordan was going to invade Eastern Syria and that the SAA would be in Deir Ezzor within days.

        I don’t know why people underestimate the military capabilities of Islamic State. It seems like a bigger mistake than overestimating them which is what Cockburn frequently does.

        Reply
    2. Andrew Watts

      Did you even read the article? Cockburn’s source is a man who fled Raqqa. The story itself is littered with outdated information as the SDF controls roughly 85-90% of the city. The remaining IS forces being holed up around the national hospital and stadium. Current reports suggest that IS requested a temporary cease fire and mediation from local tribes to negotiate some kind of deal. While the US/Coalition rejects any kind of evacuation deal with IS. Refocusing back on Cockburn’s story, I’ve already kinda suspected that the Islamic State scattered underground bunkers along the Syrian-Iraqi border and in the deserts surrounding the Euphrates River Valley. Maybe there’s some slightly used M-1 Abrams tanks stashed there.

      The Russians are pissed off for a variety of reasons. The claim that Americans were involved with the killing of a Russian general is how the mighty Russian evil propaganda octopus works. They make up a bunch of stuff up like that. Other recent claims were that AMERICA BOMBS HEZBOLLAH IN SYRIA, when it was a Russian airstrike which inadvertently targeted that position, or TWO AMERICAN HELICOPTERS CRASH when a Russian aircraft suffers an accident. Sad!

      Propaganda isn’t for critical thinkers.

      Reply
  14. sleepy

    Now that Russiagate collusion appears to be fizzling, the more that articles declaring Trump to be mentally ill surface, with talk of the 25th Amendment and/or military intervention (aka a coup) receiving some prominence.

    Reply
    1. Off The Street

      Those article revelations cry out for some type of Intercept or Wikileaks publication. There must be a playbook or script lying in a printer somewhere to show escalation plans, methods, tactics, and a distribution list of un-indicted co-conspirators.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not a fan or armchair diagnosis, whether for Terry Schiavo, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, or Trump.

      Assuming the recent Forbes interview was on the level, i.e. not faked (reporters covered for Reagan when he was losing his mind), Trump is not mentally ill. If, as the Brockists aver, he’s senile, it was a case of rapid onset. He certainly showed no signs of senility when I went to see him speak in Maine.

      Reply
  15. joe defiant

    Kaspersky has repeatedly offered to allow their source code to be officially audited by USA. Here is their official statement on their alleged involvement with Russia. I would think they could match the source code on the machine with the official version and see if it matches and at the very least gain insight into how this backdoor got onto the machine. Like the DNC computers that no one could look at, they refuse to take him up on the offer. Why would you refuse to examine his source code? (My personal theory is CIA/FBI/NSA tried to force Kaspersky to allow them to implement a backdoor or they would be financially ruined and blocked from doing business in the USA if they didn’t cooperate. With the current political climate it would be very easy to do. Kaspersky would be made to look like a nut job alex jones type if he tried to claim this happened right now. But this is just a idea I have 0 proof of this.)

    https://usa.kaspersky.com/about/press-releases/2017_kaspersky-lab-response-clarifying-the-inaccurate-statements-published-in-a-new-york-times-op-ed-on-september-4-2017

    Reply
    1. joe defiant

      Nevermind the fact that the whole cybersecurity industry is a revolving door of intelligence agency employees. I used to be involved in the hacker scene and “former” intelligence employees of countries all around the world are a dime a dozen. You could break cybersecurity into three camps, college educated rich kid geeks, intelligence industry types, and hacker types. Sometimes a mix of the “types”. This Wired article breaks down the industry pretty reliably. https://www.wired.com/story/why-the-us-government-shouldnt-ban-kaspersky-security-software/

      Reply
      1. Mark P.

        ‘Nevermind the fact that the whole cybersecurity industry is a revolving door of intelligence agency employees.’

        Quite. One guy I used to know at MIT wrote journalism as a ‘digital privacy’ advocate while simultaneously working at a U.S. Navy site in Monterey on the laptops, etc. they pulled out of Bin Laden’s compound in Afghanistan. He’d been employed by the Total Information Awareness project, too. The guy was in general a narcissistic little weasel.

        Reply
        1. joe defiant

          Haha most of those ‘digital privacy’ guys are just worried about their real bosses finding out about their wierd fetish and/or porn addiction and their edgy political posts on 4chan.

          Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    Re: Spy Spin Fuels Anti-Kaspersky Campaign
    This whole thing concerning Kaspersky is getting to be a bad joke. After the global surveillance disclosures concerning how corrupted computer security had become via Wikipedia, I junked my security programs and replaced them with Kaspersky and have never looked back since.
    A week or two ago I was using my tablet when a very severe warning came up in my notifications that it was noticed that I had Kaspersky on my tablet and that it was “dangerous”. Yes, they actually used the word dangerous and even offered to delete it for me. My answer was of course “Aw hell, no!”
    It comes down to trust. Trying to defend your computer against governmental agencies is useless as there are far too many compromised attack vectors ranging from the router, the operating system, the updates system, the actual hardware, etc. but good security is still worthwhile against the spying that commercial companies want to do on your system. As far as I am concerned, if a bunch of three letter agencies hate Kaspersky then that is a good enough recommendation to me.

    Reply
    1. joe defiant

      The best thing you can do is run your browser in a sandbox (which is very easy) or run your browsing in a virtual machine (preferably with a gnu/linux based operating system running (which is a little bit more difficult). This will protect you from the vast majority of spying and security threats. If anyone is interested this is about the easiest way to go and takes about 5-10 minutes to setup and understand. https://www.sandboxie.com/HowItWorks

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Interesting bit of text in the header for the Sandboxie link: “TRUST NO PROGRAM.”

        Wasn’t that a line in a lot of spy novels and movies, rendered by a supposedly trustworthy “friend” who later knifes the hearer in the kidneys, as “Don’t trust anyone!”? Who as he-she twists the knife to increase the pain and hasten the bleed-out, whispers in the soon-to-be-dead victim’s ear, “I told you not to trust anyone…”

        Is Sandboxie maybe “not a program?”

        But hey, it’s all part of the massive, asymmetrical, unappreciatedly mutual and likely mortal vulnerability us humans have collectively created for ourselves, and keep adding to, day by busy innovative disruptive value-creating day…

        Reply
        1. joe defiant

          True sandboxie could be being used by a security agency. There are other alternatives. I was only suggesting sandboxie because it has a free version and easy to install. I think because such a small amount of people use something like this it can fly under the radar. It’s a easy way to isolate your browsing activity and have it be erased when you are done. The vast majority of users are going to run whatever is installed on their machine at purchase or mass market solution and I would assume the agencies rely on this fact. If you are being personally targeted you need to take a lot more precautions than this to even have a fighting chance. Personally I use a virtual machine running a freeware version of gnu/linux. I can look at the source code.

          In the end unless you are writing or examining all the code running on your machine you can’t be 100% sure and even then all processor chips are made by two companies and have code no one can access or see which controls all computers no matter what operating system you use. It would be naive to think that they aren’t likely somehow compromised. It’s all about mitigating risks. Sure all my data might be recorded on some NSA server somewhere with so much data a major search needs to be undertaken to view it. But with best practices I am avoiding criminal hackers, being used as a botnet to post political propaganda and spam, and the basic methods the intelligence agencies throw out to catch all the small fish.

          Reply
    2. epynonymous

      Kapersky’s not a good choice IMO. I just managed to delete it off my PC after installing it to no avail in a fit of pique, trying to scrub my machine.

      The uninstall was blocked by a password, and I probably hadn’t set one. Didn’t feel like typing in my password, but I deleted some of the program info files from a separate folder, and the uninstall then worked just fine just tonight. Online forums were no help with this, which hurt my opinion on the matter.

      … I then spent some hours opening up 30 gigs my PC desperately needs (windows 7 still takes up 50 whopping gigs)… the default installed file removal program worked fine with a simple restart. (disk cleaner… go ahead! Run it now!)

      The Windows effort went worse, as when I uninstalled the updates from 2011/13 to 2016 that were bundled and re-downloaded in the final service pack update my hard drive was *losing space*

      I may continue regardless, and then locate the hidden files and then manually delete the ‘uninstalled’ sections of out-of-date and redundant security updates clogging my otherwise reliable laptop.

      I don’t have the stomach to dig back into the alleged murder and flight perpetrated by McAfee’s founder in Belize, but Business Insider is on the case!

      http://www.businessinsider.com/john-mcafee-documentary-gringo-belize-murder-allegations-2016-9

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I still remember getting PCs (in work) that had 40MB hard drives…. 1987 or so

        And Windows fitted in that space. Now 50 gigs???

        Get Linux – haven’t heard anyone regretting this, but others may have warnings

        Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Northam did vote for George W. Bush twice and supports fracking pipelines. He is a perfect modern Democrat.

      Reply
  17. Otis B Driftwood

    Regarding the fires in California. I’m 40 miles south of Sonoma / Napa in the East Bay of SF. Smoky smell is as bad this morning as any in the 4 days since this started. I have a thickening coat of ash on my truck. Schools are closed today in the area due to poor air quality.

    Reply
      1. Mark P.

        In Berkeley, likewise. There is also a golden quality to the sunlight reaching us on the ground from all the ash and particulate matter up in the air.

        Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunate, as far as humans building everywhere are concerned, though wild fires are part of the natural cycle for new growth, with their CO2 emissions.

      And when there were more and bigger forests, the cycle resulted in more and bigger wildfires.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We ran into the Sequoia NP fire history scientists one day @ Little Five Lakes, deep in the backcountry…

        The way they discern wildfires from way back is largely through larger dead trees lying on the ground which they cut, to see where the fire scars are on the tree rings, and the Sierra Nevada was pretty good at self regulating before we showed up, as the same lightning strikes that hit in the summer now, did their thing back then as well, with absolutely nothing to stop the spread of fire until it ran out of fuel.

        As a consequence, the forest wasn’t bigger back then, hardly so.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The forest wasn’t bigger?

          I thought most of North America was covered with trees back a long time ago.

          Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          The Willamette Valley is another example. It was kept in prairie by the Natives setting fires – oddly, just as the grass seed farmers did in recent times (no longer allowed). Experts say the grasslands extended well into the surrounding hills. Consequently, there is more forest here now than before white settlement.

          Areas that have been cleared for agriculture, especially back East, would be just the opposite; the Natives did clear, but not so extensively.

          And an oddity from New England: if you fly over in the winter, you can see that vast areas of forest are cut up into fields by stone walls, which are still visible. New England was the country’s bread basket, until the Erie Canal opened up the far more productive soils of the Midwest. Vast areas were allowed to go back to forest.

          Reply
      2. allan

        Wildfire ia certainly part of a natural cycle.
        But the climatic conditions humankind creates is pouring on an accelerant. NYT:

        Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall.

        The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier. “That is a pretty key parameter for fire risk,” said Alex Hall, a climate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. …

        Some of Dr. Miller’s research suggests that the high-wind season, which currently runs from about October to December or January, may lengthen as climate change continues. His climate simulations suggest that the warming atmosphere could lead to more high-pressure days in the Great Basin, and thus more days of strong winds.

        But research by Dr. Hall and colleagues suggests that the frequency of high-wind events has been decreasing over several decades.

        “The big picture to me seems to be that there’s conflicting evidence,” Dr. Hall said.

        What seems clearer, he said, is that climate change may be making these strong winds drier. That’s because if the air over the desert of the Great Basin becomes warmer, its relative humidity will decrease. So as it descends into California it will become even drier. …

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          So, high wind events are less frequent.

          But some think winds are drier. That is, some also think not, or are not sure.

          Are the ones in the last few days drier? Have they measured and compared with previous ones?

          Reply
          1. allan

            Some simulations that predict high wind events will be less frequent.

            And some, including those who predict fewer high wind events,
            think that the winds will be drier.

            is, I think, a more accurate summary of the article.
            But everybody can read it and draw their own conclusions.

            Reply
            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              No (definite) conclusion as far as the frequency of high wind events is concerned.

              From above:

              But research by Dr. Hall and colleagues suggests that the frequency of high-wind events has been decreasing over several decades.

              “The big picture to me seems to be that there’s conflicting evidence,” Dr. Hall said.

              As for dryness, the word ‘some’ (referring to the number of researchers) appears in several place in the original quote, and in the quote added later.

              And there is this, from the original quote:

              The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier.

              As far as the quote goes, it’s best not to draw any conclusions, but to keep an open mind, and an eye on it.

              Reply
  18. neighbor7

    “a brain-to-tweet interface that figures out the song a finch is going to sing a fraction of a second before it does so.”

    I mean, where’s the fun in that? I’m listening to songbirds out my windows right now, and I appreciate not knowing!

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I sense something other than fun.

      The horror is when they know what you are thinking…all the time.

      It will take time, but rest assured greed driven geniuses are working hard to

      1. know what you are thinking via a interface
      2. know what you are thinking from thousands of miles away, without any interface

      That is, after they get through with birds.

      Just imagine the wealth the powers will shower upon those inventors.

      Reply
      1. joe defiant

        But then we can keep our doors unlocked and live in a crime free utopia!

        Even more scary when they figure out what impulses/brainwaves etc. mean so they can predict thought, they will be able to also alter what we are about to think. I’m sure AI will destroy all humans for being a dirty pest species before that happens.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        I had an acquaintance years ago who was a researcher in neurochemistry. Very smart, played a wicked clarinet. But she decided in her very rational way to have a couple of kids, which took her off the track. In order to keep her hand in, she sort of volunteered in a research project that I recall was operated by General Foods. The goal of the research was to to examine brain functions to determine what combinations of color, form and odor would make packaging of consumer products more irresistible to the average mope. I’m sure there’s something about all that in the Great Morass of Internet Material, and of course there’s “The Hidden Persuaders, I and II” for a summary of other manipulative salient, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3730.The_Hidden_Persuaders

        Reply
    2. joe defiant

      Of course zuckerberg and musk are financing new brain control technology. Who else. Will pet owners be able to buy these to stop their pets from crapping on the floor or scratching the sofa? BEEP! YOUR DOG IS ABOUT TO LEAVE A MESS ON THE FLOOR! You can even get a app that will warn you via phone and you can watch or yell at your pet via video!

      Reply
    3. HotFlash

      Um, birds do not broadcast their brainwaves, so there is a transmitter implied. Implanted? Pro’ly not comfy?

      From the article: “our approach also provides a valuable proving ground for biomedical speech-prosthetic devices.”

      In other words, we’re a little closer to texting from our brains.

      Oh, splendid then. When is my installation appointment?

      So sorry for the birds.

      Reply
  19. joe defiant

    Re: Why many didn;t get cellphone warnings about wildfires

    Are we really at the point where people are so oblivious to everything around them except their phone that they need to be told there is a giant fire on their phone? Smells like smoke, coughing, burning eyes, heat, who would notice??? A cell phone warning! Oh my god a fire!!!

    I had to jailbreak my phone so I wouldn’t get all the stupid weather and amber alerts 10 times a week. Are we a the point where we are being warned all day everyday that the sky is falling and no one cares anymore?

    Reply
    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Given the fire started late Sunday night and intensified in the early morning hours, cell phone alerts would not have been much use. I noticed the smoky smell when I woke up. But I was miles away. Why not a siren alarm? That would be impossible to miss.

      An article on the same topic in the SF Chron noted the concern for not issuing an alarm was to avoid panic and keep the roads clear for emergency crews.

      As evacuations have continued, officials have been going door to door. I suspect that is exactly what they tried to do as the fires moved close to populated areas early Monday morning. But most people did react to the smell of smoke and the sight of the fire nearby. Some didn’t. The fire moved incredibly fast.

      Hundreds are still unaccounted for. This is has been a catastrophic fire.

      Reply
      1. joe defiant

        Antifa programmers are working on software that will warn us when someone has a fascist thought. Perhaps a app that automatically punches a nazi cellphone user via shock or something.

        Reply
    2. jrs

      Well just because it smells like smoke doesn’t mean the fire is all that nearby, if you live in the southwest, smells like smoke is just another day in fire season

      Reply
  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I checked with Clive to make sure this wasn’t some kinda fancy private suite, and he replied: “No, that’s just your standard Japanese hospital room.” Sigh.

    It makes one wonder what life in a Great East Asia Co Prosperity Ring would look like…

    Systemic oppression (more or less than usual?)
    Better food
    Better healthcare
    Corporate corruption (more? less than usual?)
    National Anthem before any game (that’s same)
    Police brutality (probably less, haven’t heard much about Korean Japanese being shot)
    Xenophobic (same? worse?)
    Public transportation (better)
    Woman’s rights (They can always think about the option of marrying Western men)

    Reply
    1. Terry Flynn

      just a couple of observations based on interactions with my best friend – who has spent most of his post undergraduate career (i.e. since 1994) living in Japan and whose Japanese is good enough to translate his highly technical English – written PhD into Japanese and get it published as a book there.

      Xenophobia – LOTS worse (I witnessed this when visiting with the seat next to me being the last one to be filled in every single train journey). His son (of Japanese wife) is routinely labelled the Japanese version of “half-caste” with same undertones that very un-PC term has in the West.

      Healthcare can be just as random in quality as UK NHS.

      women’s rights – Japanese women who marry western men tend by definition to be unwilling to be the subservient Asian woman. Which then causes so many western men grief thinking they have a nice Asian subservient wife! oh no!

      Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    Was watching a PBS show on North Korea and women aren’t allowed to wear pants there, and Fox news doesn’t allow it’s distaff staff on air to don them either.

    A weird symmetry…

    Reply
  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Spy Spin Fuels Anti-Kaspersky Campaign Moon of Alabama. “If one believes all the now made claims then Israel hacked Kaspersky, which was hacking an NSA employee who had stolen NSA hacks, while being hacked by Russia which was hacked by the NSA, while the NSA was warned by Israel about Russian hacks. Makes sense?”

    What about Russian caviar or vodka?

    Surely Putin hasn’t forgotten about how useful, how patriotic they can be for motherland.

    Reply
    1. cyclist

      Putin is apparently a teetotaler (Hmm, what other world leader doesn’t drink?) who has taken actions to try to curb the Russian alcohol abuse problem. He may like caviar, I don’t know.

      Reply
  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s richest control combined wealth of US$2.6 trillion: Hurun Report South China Morning Post

    That comes with supplying the world’s reserve currency.

    They might not want to buy government bonds, but acquire control of wealth other than bonds.

    Reply
  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Growing Puerto Rico Disaster Ian Welsh (Furzy Mouse)

    Again, debt forgiveness is brought up.

    That’s different from the government assuming those debts.

    Is it a win-win, a non-zero-sum (not negative though, but positive) for the borrower to be unburdened, and the lender to have the money (interest plus principal) back, with the government invoking MMT?

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      I bet it’s the “moral hazard” that is the issue. In that if you give a mouse a cookie (pay their debts off) … then all the other mice (Detroit, Illinois, etc) will want cookies too.

      I would suggest it is healthy for the states to have moral hazard in keeping their books balanced. Just like it is for individuals. And then have that supplemented as needed by the Fed Gov which doesn’t need to be limited by moral hazard. [More specifically, the Fed Gov should make sure the velocity of money is high across as much of the public as possible. The Fed Gov has outsourced this job to the Fed Reserve and the Fed Reserve has failed spectacularly at it. Defense spending isn’t quite the ticket either, except where it employs soldiers.]

      If states otherwise don’t want to be limited by moral hazard, and don’t want to depend on the Fed Gov for largess, then they should become sovereign nations with their own currency.

      Edit: So all that said, on a more practical level, individuals and states are going to get themselves into trouble. The pain of bankruptcy seems to be the best thing to resolve the issue, so that the indebted party can be brought back in from the cold. And it keeps moral hazard meaningful so that other parties see the pain of going down the same path.

      And if we were really serious about making moral hazard meaningful, we would go to 100% reserve banking, so that there isn’t a business model premised on finding places to park debt, the business model which currently serves as the backbone of our society.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s healthy to let banks fail, but if they are too big, or like North Korea with nuclear bombs, we have to talk peace.

        But moral hazard was overlooked then and now, banks are even bigger.

        Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    There are a surprising amount of folks that would argue over what caliber bullet is being loaded into the chambers, as they are being lined up against the wall…

    Reply
  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Infantilization of the President The Atlantic

    Nothing exists in a vacuum, and we always ask ourselves, what else?

    Your parents are like your siblings.

    That’s progress, your father and you get along like brothers, or your mother and you like sisters, etc., so a father becomes a brother.

    And then, there is the ’60 is the new 40′ and its variations.

    It’s conscious and subconscious that we desire to be younger than we are, or just younger or young.

    At one time, the thing was about pre-pubescent models…don’t know if they are still popular.

    You can keep going…and you end up with infants.

    And why not, they are adorable, and so, so innocent. I am sure Hollywood and Madison Avenue will not fail to exploit that idea.

    Reply
    1. joe defiant

      “The Infantilization” problem we have is all politicians and elites treating “the people” like they are infants. Talking in reassuring platitudes, promising the world will be better tommorow, lying about conflict to “protect” us, etc. That is if you believe the official story. Otherwise the are lying to decieve us.

      The advertising industry (a la bernays) are the ones who devised the strategy.

      “Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy, designed to infantilize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control. Recent developments in popular culture were arguably predicted by the French philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard in his book, ‘America’, in which he talks about the infantilzation of society. Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth? A time when we were shielded from painful truths by our recreational passions, the toys we played with, the games we played, the comics we read. There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.”

      https://boingboing.net/2015/05/21/simon-pegg-discusses-geek-cult.html

      Reply
      1. joe defiant

        I loathe a lot of “TED Talks” but ‘People are Getting Smarter…Content is Getting Dumber: Alexander Macris is a must see. Our literature, reading comprehension, television programs and movies have all been on a steady decline. Average NY Times bestseller books are written at the 4th grade level (however that is determined?). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJtEbvSOd_E

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the whole society is infantilized, is it infantile of the Atlantic to only focus on the presidency?

        Are we the Little People not important enough to be saved from infantilzation?

        Reply
  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Catalan referendum stirs up Balkan nationalists’ hopes Japan Times

    Is it that to desire a nation for you and others, you are a nationalist?

    To be a nationalist, you have to have a nation in mind. But does being in a nation, with you thinking about your nation, make you a nationalist?

    Are we all nationalists more or less? Some more and some less?

    Reply
  28. D

    Re: Nearly Half the Pentagon Budget Goes To Contractors – Your tax dollars support troops of defense contractor CEOs. and this paragraph:

    In fact, according to Lockheed’s own figures, more than half of the jobs generated by the program are in just two states, Texas and California.

    Regarding California (and I don’t doubt Texas is the same), when you take into consideration how many are forced into Early Retirement™, I wonder what the net job creation is. Living in Silicon Valley, every Lockheed employee over 50 that I’ve run into was Early Retired™; and God help anyone 60 or older (despite the fact that we have politicians decades over sixty). The last Early Retired™person I was aware of, recently died -near broke, certainly broken – of cancer they were diagnosed with post Early Retirement.

    An absolutely brutal company with a horrifying amount of power to abuse. I still can’t get over the fact that Lockheed (since 1989) and now its successor 50% owned IT unit, Leidos, along with Northrop Grumman and CGI have been overseeing, and/or will continue to oversee, the Social Security Administrations IT operations and database.

    Reply
  29. D

    Oh and lovely, re my above comment, Accenture had been gifted a role in the prior 10 year contract which expired 09/28/17. Yeah, I trust them all with my Social Security data (emphasis mine):

    08/24/17 Social Security Administration awards $7.8B IT contract

    The current IT contract — which was held by Northrop, Lockheed [IT Services, now Lockheed 50% owned Leidos – D] Accenture Federal Services and CSRA — expires on Sept. 28, after which the new contract will provide IT task orders for new awardees and incumbents for technology and increased automation services across the enterprise.

    Reply
  30. D

    sorry messed up the link coding with an extra space, the link referenced above is: 08/24/17 Social Security Administration awards $7.8B IT contract

    Reply
  31. Oregoncharles

    From “Spain gives Catalans 8 Days”:
    ““Rajoy has two objectives: if Puigdemont remains ambiguous, the pro-independence movement will get more fragmented; if Puigdemont insists on defending independence then Rajoy will be able to apply Article 155,””

    I think there’s something missing here, and I wonder whether Rajoy understands it. The reports consistently reference “Article 155” as if that’s the end, but it’s actually the beginning. Everything so far would be mere prelude. And he just gave the Catalans 8 days to get their ducks in a row.

    Furthermore, once he unleashes the storm troopers again and arrests the local leadership (assuming he can find them), he doesn’t dare hold a new election, because the result would be a forgone conclusion; if he bans the secessionists from the elections, they wouldn’t be legitimate and Catalan resistance would merely increase – I mean, we’ve all seen this movie. Usually it gets nasty.

    Rajoy, or his party, started the process by blocking the Catalan autonomy agreement (apparently the Court is very political – anyone from there care to correct that?). Does he have any idea what it would cost to occupy and try to govern a region that makes itself ungovernable? Spain’s economy still isn’t in good shape and he has a minority government; even if the other parties support him now, what happens when they see an opportunity?

    It all seems strange to me: why bring this kind of trouble on yourself? I understand the Catalans’ motives, but not his.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Your premise that a crackdown will help the secessionists is debatable. Support for secession has been polling at around 40% and has been declining. You assume people will switch sides when most may regard the intervention as ugly but necessary and caused by the secessionists’ antics/ Moreover, under Article 155, he can strip Barcelona of autonomy so the result of the votes won’t matter.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        While Rajoy has the bludgeon, the Catalan’s seem to have the wiles in this matter. Tales of how the election was pulled off are fascinating. Several million wily Catalan’s will make it difficult for Madrid to maintain control.

        The Catalan’s seem to have a better read on their situation than the Greeks did.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Look, I’m not a Rajoy fan, but the referendum cannot be taken as valid. There were not controls in place whatsoever to prevent duplicate voting. . That is a bedrock condition of any legitimate election, that the votes be validated to assure only one vote per vote.

          In fact, illegitimate voting was encouraged by allowing voters to use downloaded and home-printed ballots and being allowed to vote at any open poll.

          So while there were 2.2 million votes cast, you have no way of knowing how many voters actually voted. It is conceivable, indeed almost certain, it was a smaller number. How much smaller we have no idea.

          Reply
  32. HotFlash

    Smells like smoke, coughing, burning eyes, heat, who would notice???

    Not everybody goes outside. Many neighbourhoods, mine for iinstance, have people who are roasting coffee, bbqing, smoking meat, fish or herbs, at all hours. Air conditioning is pretty good at, um, conditioning the air. If you re inside, maybe you can’t smell the outside air. It can happen. My neighbours had to be removed by the fire dept when the second story of their house caught fire, they were on the first floor watching TV.

    Reply
  33. ewmayer

    Re. CA wildfires – I live in Sillycon Valley, i.e. ~60-100 miles south of Napa/Sonoma … yesterday we had winds from the north, and the attendant dismal air quality, all day long heavy, campfire-smoky haze. Quite possibly the worst air quality I’ve experienced in my near-20 years living here. Today much better here, but conditions worse in terms of firefighting up north.

    o “Scientists Can Read a Bird’s Brain and Predict Its Next Song | MIT Technology Review” — Now it remains only to figure out how to monetize and/or weaponize said finding, right, MIT techies?

    o “So You Want to Buy a Stake in a Private Equity Manager? The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation” — Dear Harvard elites, I was thinking more along the lines of “Drive a Stake inTO a Private Equity Manager” (assuming one can find the heart – ha, ha, kidding!), but look at the bright side – your title is close!

    o “Faster, Steve Bannon. Kill! Kill! | Robert Kagan, WaPo” — I suggest approaching with extreme caution, given that Kagan is half of the mass-murderous Kagan/Nuland U.S. foreign policy axis, to whom the MSM dutifully love giving virtually unfettred op-ed airtime. He’ so highly *credentialed*, after all…

    Reply
  34. D

    Ever since witnessing the huge plume of black smoke in the sky over a San Bruno residential neighborhood in 2010 (where people and homes were literally incinerated by an enormous Gas explosion and subsequent Gas Fire Wall) while I was driving home from a job in Santa Clara – noted as a 34 miles distance away – every time there are major California fires or explosions, I think of PG&E infrastructure non-maintenance and CA PUC supported malfeasance. Emphasis mine:

    10/11/17 Editorial: Did PG&E adequately maintain power lines before fires?
    ….
    One possibility is that electric utilities damaged by the unusual 75 mph winds Sunday night sparked the fires. A Bay Area News Group review of emergency radio traffic reveals that Sonoma County dispatchers sent fire crews to at least 10 different locations over a 90-minute period to check reports of sparking wires and other electrical problems.
    ….
    PG&E and other utilities in California have a long history of diverting maintenance funds into profits. The PUC knows this, and knows all too well the fire danger from gas and power lines. PG&E has been doing maintenance work in Sonoma and Napa counties. The question is the extent of that work and the PUC’s role in monitoring it.

    Given the PUC’s cozy history with PG&E, that needs a close look.

    The San Bruno gas line explosion and fire in 2010 that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes is the most famous example. For months, PUC President Michael Peevey was PG&E’s biggest ally in fending off accountability for the explosion. Peevey eventually departed in disgrace, and PG&E was convicted of a felony and fined $1.6 billion for diverting maintenance funds into stockholder dividends and executive bonuses.

    Just this April PG&E was fined $8.3 million for failure to adequately maintain power lines that sparked the 2015 the Butte Fire in Amador County, killing two people and destroyed 549 homes.

    As far back as 1994, PG&E was found guilty of negligence in the Rough and Ready fire that destroyed 12 homes. In that case, prosecutors learned afterward that PG&E had diverted nearly $80 million from its tree-trimming programs into profits.
    ….

    Reply
  35. Joculator

    Regarding the New Statesman’s “How the world’s greatest financial experiment enriched the rich”, quote:

    “A central bank, which alone has the power to create (and print) money, wants to spur inflation, so that companies will be encouraged to borrow money and invest it, creating jobs.”

    Who writes this kind of nonsense about inflation?? I keep seeing this (inflation mentioned as a prerequisite for – you name it – “borrowing money”, wage growth, groaf). I am pretty something like this was inserted in one of the FT articles from the links today. Inflation is a consequence, not a prerequisite.

    It is either incompetence, or relentless gaslighting. Probably a self-sustaining combination of both.
    Why aren’t MSM called on it?!

    Reply

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