Links 10/19/17

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas PLOS One. The Guardian notes: “Another way of sampling insects – car windscreens – has often been anecdotally used to suggest a major decline, with people remembering many more bugs squashed on their windscreens in the past.” Very true. That’s one reason — showing my old codgerdom, here — that back when there were gas station attendants, they’d clean your windshield.

The ‘blue halo’ effect: How some flowers seduce bees France24

Daphne’s sons call for Muscat’s resignation Times of Malta (Richard Smith).

Daphne Caruana Galizia: Establishment was out to get her, says family Guardian (Richard Smith).

ECB’s Constancio Says Time to Take Bubble-Bursting ‘More Seriously’ NYT

Wall Street’s crash in 1987 has an ominous parallel with today’s global markets South China Morning Post

The Fed seems to have given up on a controversial but potent tool it may need to use again soon Business Insider

Bankers Publicly Embracing Robots Are Privately Fearing Job Cuts Bloomberg

The age of robots could be a new Renaissance. This is why World Economic Forum

Modern Love: Are We Ready for Intimacy With Robots? WIRED


Decision time for Puigdemont on Catalan independence push The Local

Self-government at stake as time runs out Catalan News

Madrid prepared to halt Article 155 if Catalan premier calls early elections El Pais

Nearly There, but Never Further Away Foreign Policy


Afghanistan’s tryst with China begins – in Washington Asia Times

What’s really stopping a cholera vaccination campaign in Yemen? IRIN

North Korea

NK highly unlikely to give up nuclear weapons: minister Korea Herald

Armageddon by Accident Foreign Policy


Xi warns party to tackle challenges as China moves into new ‘modern socialist’ era South China Morning Post

Chinese property boom props up Xi’s hopes for the economy FT

Good enough for now Reuters

“The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao” by Ian Johnson Asian Review of Books


India faces burning issue as farmers fuel smog crisis FT

Death of 11-year-old in India sparks debate on tying welfare to identity card Reuters


Brexit: What’s the ‘no deal’ fallout for the UK and EU? Deutsche Welle

Reasons why a no-deal Brexit would suit the EU FT

Irish Government Considers Border Demand as Price for Brexit Progress Bloomberg

After five rounds of Brexit talks, David Davis runs out of bluster Guardian

Theresa May to scrap universal credit helpline charges BBC

Puerto Rico

Raw sewage contaminating waters in Puerto Rico after Maria ABC

‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster WaPo

New Cold War

In attempt to sow fear, Russian trolls paid for self-defense classes for African Americans CNN. Apparently, being whacked by the cops wouldn’t be enough to do that….

These Americans Were Tricked Into Working For Russia. They Say They Had No Idea. BuzzFeed. Outside agitators….

Trump Transition

Senate Republicans appear to have votes to pave way to tax reform Reuters

Eight Lessons on How to Design Tax Reform Tax Policy Center

The Politics Of Tax Reform: 101 FiveThirtyEight

Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics The Intercept (Furzy Mouse).

Why America is coming apart at the seams The Week

Democrats in Disarray

Shakeup at Democratic National Committee, Longtime Officials Ousted NBC (Furzy Mouse). Perez stages a night of the long knives for Sanders supporters. “‘Despite the shakeup, Zogby, who is still the co-chair of the party’s Unity and Reform Commission, said, ‘This is a family. We’ve always operated that way.'”

Sibling Rivalry Jeet Heer, The New Republic. “Liberals and socialists share a common inheritance. So why can’t they find a way to work together to defeat Trump?” See above. And then read Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal!.

Meet the Challengers Who Outraised House Incumbents Roll Call. “Sixteen Republican incumbents in competitive races raised less than their Democratic challengers during the third quarter. One Democratic incumbent was outraised by a GOP challenger.” Hence, the DNC purge.

Health Care

Hatch Deals Blow to Bipartisan Health Care Bill Roll Call

The Alexander-Murray Market Stabilization Package: What’s In It And Where’s It Going? Health Affairs

Trump’s Attack on Insurer ‘Gravy Train’ Could Actually Help a Lot of Consumers NYT. I understand the line of analysis, but it seems to me the assumption is that the administration, having removed one component of the Rube Goldberg device that is ObamaCare, will not remove others.

Judge plans to rule next week in Obamacare subsidies fight Politico (Furzy Mouse).

Mixed signals for states on their role in Obamacare reform Brookings. Administration inconsistencies on waivers.

Sports Desk

NFL ratings continue fall, latest Nielsen numbers show EPSN

How UNH Turned A Quiet Benefactor Into A Football-Marketing Prop Deadspin

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Troop Deaths in Niger: AFRICOM’s Chickens Come Home to Roost Black Agenda Report (Re Silc).

U.S. Stood by as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show NYT

No, US Didn’t ‘Stand By’ Indonesian Genocide—It Actively Participated FAIR

Just Deserts The Baffler

Class Warfare

Deaths of Despair and Support for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election (PDF) Shannon M. Monnat, Pennsylvania State University (AH).

Opioid-law scandal sheds light on lobbying by industry-funded ‘patient access’ groups Yahoo News. With time-lapse map.

Life and Death After the Steel Mills Sapiens

This Huge Rail Company Is Spewing Coal Dust All Over a Low-Income Community Mother Jones (Re Silc).

Fungus destroyed inmate’s brain while Kansas prison contractor did nothing, suit says Kansas City Star

Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting Bloomberg

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote (Richard Smith):

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.


  1. Jim A

    Re “Are we ready for Intimacy with robots?” The real question is “Are we ready for our intimate secrets being sold and used for marketing to us?” Because I guarn-damn-tee that is the plan.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        Why is everybody so sure that their secrets are so interesting, that they their lives are so subversive?All of this surveillance, all of this attention payment on demand. Dull emails. Quotidian sex lives. How about a little sympathy for the guy that has sort through the sort-of-sad-but-not-quite-tragic laundry heaps of lives. The surveillance is unnecessary; we know what one does after a little bit of conditioning and our own hot shame. Radical it is not…except me, I’m off to become a sex cosmonaut. Ciao!

        1. a different chris

          Seriously. I crack up thinking of the poor guy/gal that has to follow me around. Keep us posted on the cosmonaut thing.

        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          No one is “sure their secrets are so interesting”. They’re sure their secrets can be used against them despite being dreary. They’re sure the appliances that guide their lives are capable of, and commonly are, engaging in 24/7 surveillance.

          No one should have to live in fear of their immediate, most intimate surroundings. Right now, however, only a moron wouldn’t be worried. Constant surveillance is insanely easy, by design. Constant surveillance overwhelmingly benefits the already powerful, and weakens the already weak. The exceptions to this rule are few enough that they net out to prove it.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            It’s not only the leveraging of “deary” information to manipulate the masses.. it’s the extortion that’s bound to come of it.

            Privacy is control and freedom.

        3. The Rev Kev

          Wasn’t it only a few months ago that it was found out that a company that manufactured internet-connected vibrators was collecting all the information about how their customers were using their products and storing the information on their servers for analysis? You won’t find that sort of information on your Facebook profile – yet!
          Besides, if they are going to have sex-bots, the only advantages that I can think of is if they come with a mute-button and an off-button. Knowing modern technology, those two functions will not be allowed in them so there goes your only two advantages right there. In any case, what happens if your sex-bot complains that you are spending too much time with your IoT fridge? Worse, what if as a result she uploads your performances to a revenge-porn site?

      1. Toske

        Not only that, but it’ll probably start getting pouty and cold when you don’t buy it enough gifts. And it just so happens that the only brands it likes are those owned by its manufacturer’s subsidiaries.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like it’s best to avoid smartphones and smart refrigerators, the most satisfying choice might be to go with cute-but-not-too-smart courtesan-robots.

      A simple rule of thumb is to avoid anything smart, but just go with dumb…though if you live with simple rules of thumb, you might get hung by the thumbs.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Let Amazon ruin another good city in North America. I’m leaving Seattle due to the ruin of our fair city by this scourge.

      1. Altandmain

        Rent in Seattle and houses are becoming unaffordable anyway.

        It seems to be follow up on the Bay Area on being unaffordable for everyone but the technology industry employees.

    2. Roger Smith

      Mention everything else about Rick Synder, but when it came to the already bloated, tax-free corporate welfare state that is downtown Detroit, he did not try to offer any additional subsidies to entice Amazon.

    3. HotFlash

      Great idea! Amazon Colliseum, where crowds can cheer while workers work themselves to death. Opening with a military flyover and anthem, then on the order-picking races, forklift derby, human-vs-robot — the possibilities are endless!

  2. Wukchumni

    Love the cleaned up coyote, but it seems weird, as coyotes want nothing to do with man, and to agree to let alone be taken, but also given a bathing, borders on things that will never happen.

    Somebody domesticated one, and pitched the tale.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Lambert gave us a fun Internet romp today.

          Saw a coyote on the prowl in Santa Monica back in March while coming back from a drinks party. Walking right up the middle of the road like he owned the place.

          Stood quietly and stayed out of his way.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Coyotes? I’ll do ya one better. I see them in my neighborhood, which is right smack-dab in the middle of Tucson.

            And, yes, they act like they own the place. No word on when they’ll start paying our mortgages and property taxes.

            1. Wukchumni

              I like your Javelinas…

              One xmas we were staying @ my sister’s in Tucson @ her neighbor’s house, and they had a bucket of potatoes that they fed the Javelinas behind a 4 foot wall, and we threw out a few potatoes and a dozen came calling, and they look and act just like pigs, all different sizes, with one having the umbilical cord still attached.

            2. blennylips

              Tucson? Pfft. Practically a desert…

              Years ago I lived in Pequannock NJ, 1/2 hour from the GW bridge into Manhattan. In the wee am hours I’d occasionally see coyotes commuting on the local roads.

              What a thrill!

              1. jsn

                In 1988 when Chase Bank cleared out the area that would become the MetroTech campus in Brooklyn, New York, on my way to the old Sid’s hardware to get materials to renovate my apartment, I saw a coyote rummaging through the debris. Wasn’t the least bit skittish, probably a lot more native there than I was. They’ve been here much longer than anyone has thought to be looking for them I’m pretty sure.

            3. ArcadiaMommy

              Smack in the middle of PHX, but with mountain preserve and Camelback around us. Our big mutt barks at a pack of coyotes every day as they walk between the houses around 5 AM. They are not afraid of people at all, but still afraid of our dog. Our neighbors have coyote poop in their yards, we never do! The babies following the mother are so fun to see.
              The next time I get a good pic of a coyote babies, javelina or bob cat I will submit!

          2. MichaelSF

            We see the occasional coyote in Golden Gate Park, and they’ve pupped in an area that the park staff cordoned off so people wouldn’t bother them. We’ve also seen red and kit foxes in the park. When we saw the red fox we at first thought it was a setter/spaniel of some sort until we got a better look. The kit fox was much smaller.

            My step-mom lives north of Tucson, and has had a big cat (presumably puma) in her back yard. It sprays a planter and she has to wash it off afterwards as her house cat gets freaked out by the smell.

  3. Roger Smith

    Re: Shakeup at Democratic National Committee, Longtime Officials Ousted NBC

    Unless I missed it, this cleverly written MSM piece just so happens to leave out possibly the most egregious Perez appointment to the Bylaws committee… Donna Brazile. Absolutely no one should be expecting the Democrats to change in 2018 or 2020.

    1. Jen

      “Despite the shake-up, Zogby, still the co-chair of the party’s Unity and Reform Commission, said: “This is a family. We’ve always operated that way.”

      Just like the mafia.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Would the last person who believes Democratic Party reform is possible from the inside please turn off the lights when they leave, thanks

      1. KFritz

        ‘The Democrats are a one a big a happy family!’

        Grazie, grazie, grazie, Don Zogby! Ti bacia la tua mano.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Crazy, to kick the progressives…again.

      Is it time to say that it’s insane for those repeatedly keeping their faith, expecting something different to emerge from the Democrats?

      1. Jen

        The definition of insanity and all that. Couple of interesting tidbits out there:

        1. “Top Democratic politicians and bundlers have harsh reviews for the job performance of Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, calling him unexciting and in need of drastic improvement….A lot of us feel like there’s nothing exciting, nothing invigorating coming from that building and particularly from Tom Perez,” said one top Democratic bundler, who told the Hill that Perez did not coordinate the first meeting with fundraisers until “several weeks ago.” When you’ve lost the bundlers…

        2. “An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill.” Hmmm….

      2. Hana M

        Way to Go DNC! This will win hearts and minds in the Heartland:

        The DNC denied any retaliation, saying that the changes were an effort to diversify and freshen the party’s leadership and that all the party’s officers had a chance to offer input. They touted new additions like Marisa Richmond, a millennial black transgender activist, and the first Dreamer member, Ellie Perez, to point to the DNC’s efforts at diversity.

        “This year’s slate of at-large DNC member nominees reflects the unprecedented diversity of our party’s coalition,” said DNC spokesperson Michael Tyler.

        1. Jen

          “They touted new additions like…a millennial black transgender activist.”

          Identity politics bingo!

          1. MichaelSF

            I suspect that even millennial black transgender activists can be fans of neo-liberal centrism.

  4. Jim Haygood

    This morning brought news that initial unemployment claims collapsed to the lowest level since the Nixon administration. Our weekly Yardeni indicator uses a 4-week average to smooth out the bumps. It also declined. After inversion, it went up.

    Also rising today was Bloomberg Consumer Comfort. Yardeni’s third indicator, raw industrial material prices, dropped off a bit since last week. But with two of the indicator’s three components rising, it achieved a nice pop higher. Chart:

    Today’s update lends credence to the theory that the indicator’s sharp drop from August to September was hurricane-related, and is now mending. Atlanta Fed’s GDPnow projects 2.7% groaf in third quarter GDP when the first estimate is released next Friday.

    Have you met your production quota today?

    1. Ned

      Let’s measure unemployment the same way they measured it during the Nixon administration and see what the numbers are. While we are at it, let’s measure inflation the way it used to be measured.

      “When the score is going against you, move the goalposts”, seems to be the governments game.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It was Nixon who let China know that she didn’t always have to deal with the USSR.

        For a while now, we have been seeing the reverse of that.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Claims are simply a tally of how many new unemployment applications were filed. It’s like counting votes, and is unrelated to the various measures of unemployment.

        Initial unemployment claims represent “real people standing in actual unemployment insurance lines … not based on samples with model guesstimates folded in.” — Paul Kasriel

        Government data is not perfect, but nevertheless useful trends can be extracted from it. It’s better than flying blind or making inferences from anecdotal data.

        1. Anon

          So, as I understand it, this accounting is for “new claims”. So, it’s assessing a trend. (The number’s are not counting renewed claims?)

          A more important figure (assessment) to have, although it would require some statistical analysis (that the government does much of the time), is how many people are not working, but would like to be (and can’t file for unemployment benefits).

          The real issue is a livable wage. A gazillion folks working at $10/hr. is not going to improve the US economy. And retired folks living on $18,500/yr. (pension or Soc. Sec.) aren’t likely to be big spenders either.

  5. perpetualWAR

    The first link: the 75% decline of flying insects over 27 years…….

    But, they are right. I took a long road trip to South Dakota and drove through the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park and I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe how little my car is dirty from bugs.” Thought it was an anomaly. Guess not.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a human specialty to wipe something out completely without even hating it.

      “We didn’t even know they existed.”

    2. HotFlash

      So, we have 75% fewer insects, give or take. Therefore, all insectivorous life has only 25% as much to eat. Rarely see bats or nighthawks anymore, can’t remember when I last saw a toad. It’s the Circle of Death.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Look at the timing……the 27 years is about when Round Up first began, in earnest, to affect Big Ag.

        Gotta love Monsanto for eradicating life on our planet, but boy-oh-boy do they sell product!

        1. polecat

          It’s not just the likes of MonSatan …. but also land/real e$tate development on hyperdrive !!

      2. polecat

        Humm …
        Maybe time for a few evolutionary mutations to kick off some new branches on the ATGC spiral tree .

        Gotta fill those niches !

  6. Hear My Train A'Coming

    Re Flying Insect Biomass:

    I noticed a massive increase in grasshoppers (and/or locusts? Not sure, it’s been awhile since I’ve really seen these bugs) this year. I also hit more bugs on the windshield this year than any I can remember over the last 15 years outside of the 17 year cicadas. This is in NE Illinois through N (non-UP) Michigan. I also noticed a decrease in honeybees and flies from last year in our area. Butterflies were about the same from last year. Increase in wasps, including variety, and bumblebees.

    I do recall in the 90s traversing America when on vacation with my family; our windshield and headlights would need to be cleaned every gas stop. The container on top of the vehicle would be downright disgusting after a trip. In mid-00’s, there was always a clean windshield with the occasional splatter.

    As an aside, I did get to witness a behavior I’ve never seen from a locust (or grasshopper, like I’ve said, it’s been a while). It would jump and just hover like a hummingbird. The motion was clean and controlled. It was odd considering how clumsy they sometimes look when leaping and flying out of the way of your feet.

    1. Annotherone

      During early October we drove through Oklahoma south to north, Texas panhandle, eastern Colorado, Nebraska panhandle and Kansas. Depending on weather (it varied a lot) our windscreen was regularly heavily bug-infested – in fact if there has really been a 75% drop, in these parts, it would mean driving would have been absolutely impossible before that reduction! We saw notices in a couple of hotels on the way, apologising to customers for an unprecedented influx of crickets.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        But why do we want all those pesky bugs anyway, can’t Silicon Valley come up with some nano-drone bees that do all the pollinating for us? Farmers could just pay a monthly subscription…

    2. Wukchumni

      After our 5 year long drought, this spring Mother Nature went wild here in the foothills, with so many insects, gophers, mice, other rodents, etc.

      For the animal & insect population had been at war for the same duration as the USA was involved in WW2, a war of survival, with resulting baby boom after declaring victory.

      I was pulling out of our pool: 1-2 dead mice, baby gophers, etc, almost every day this summer, and during the drought years, it’d be maybe one a week.

      And @ our cabin in the National Park, the insects, deer and mountain lion populations went wild as well. I must’ve seen 200 deer this summer, and there were a dozen mountain lion sightings as well. The mosquitoes weren’t bad, but we had all sorts of gnats and biting flies, etc. who persisted in being bothersome for much longer than usual.

      The one animal that didn’t play along in the growth spurt-was black bears, who’ve largely disappeared from the forest for the trees.

    3. KTN

      For a primer on creating insect (and maybe vertebrate) biomass in your backyard, see Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home.

      Partial spoiler: Butterfly bush (Buddleia) isn’t doing the butterflies any good.

      1. subgenius

        Thank you for that link…I will be perusing a copy in short order….I have always had buddleia when I have had a place in la as it seemed to draw insects…somehow I never got to looking into the literature on pollinators – which is odd given my interest in fungi (stamets) and permaculture/forest gardening

        Very appreciated!

        1. KTN

          The Xerces Society’s Attracting Native Pollinators is also fine, but with different emphases. One can’t go wrong with either.

          It seems that in the last 5-10 years regional native plant books have appeared covering at least the 48 contiguous states, probably a couple times over. Undoubtedly they’re all useful in their own right.

          In retrospect it is difficult to see how organic and permaculture approaches to gardening and landscaping have not been native-obligate for decades, or at the least, noninvasive-obligate.

        2. KTN

          ****(Excepting the vegetable garden, for which there are dozens of plants that, despite intensive historical and even industrial cultivation, have practically no record of escaping said cultivation, and the growing of which, in the home garden, has other obvious ecological benefits.)

    4. dk

      Drove through a couple of big locust clouds earlier this year, driving through Arizona. They’re not that unusual in that particular area, but these were huge clouds.

      Also a similar uptick in carpenter and honey bees. Go, pollinators!

      More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas

      Coincidentally, total human biomass is up by over 50% for the same period.

  7. Wukchumni

    I got carded last year trying to order from the seniors menu, the nice waitress told me i’d have to wait another 6 months, in order to be a junior baby boomer senior.
    — showing my old codgerdom, here — that back when there were gas station attendants, they’d clean your windshield.

    And not only that, they had the only domestic conflicts in which the outdoor one-armed bandits never fired a shot in anger, but gladly filled up your jalopy with go juice, as the owner had declared a GAS WAR with the gas station across the street, who often retaliated in a like fashion.

    Attendants would also check your oil, and gas stations were always giving away stuff: glass tumblers, the letter A Funk & Wagnals encyclopedia for 1 cent*, china, etc. And blue chip stamps with every purchase.

    *B-Z were $3.99, and as a consequence many in my generation know a lot in regards to things A.

    Quite often in L.A. there would be 2 or sometimes 3 gas stations on corners of intersections, as each gas station had a full-time mechanic and 2 service bays and could fix most any car…

    Now, a good many of the prior gas station locations house corp’se drug store chains, and I can’t tell you about elsewhere, but in L.A. the layout of the physical store is often akimbo to how every other retail building is placed usually on the diagonal, why’s that?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      That was back before corporations learned the simple strategy of buying up your competitors so that you can treat both your customers and workers like crap while the neutered Antitrust Division of the Justice Department does nothing.

      1. perpetualWAR

        What does our Dept of Justice actually DO anymore? The Criminal Fraud Division is also a do-nothing division. Asking for 18 million unlawfully foreclosed homeowners……

    2. John A

      Reply to Wukchumni:
      Many theatres and cinemas in London offer discounts for over 60s. Having just reached that age, the first time I collected a ticket with a ‘senior’ discount, I offered to present ID. ‘No need,” said the box office person, “nobody lies about that”‘

    3. HotFlash

      Another thing gone with full-service gas stations is the part-time jobs that kids in my high school could easily get. We pump our own gas and bag our own groceries now. Paper routes? Hardly any, and I wonder if diligent parents would permit their child to do such a thing. Robots and robot-oids do many simple jobs — power mowers, snowblowers — that used to be worth a few bucks a week. I ran ad proofs to merchants for the local newspaper as a teenager, all done via email these days. Where do kids get after-school jobs these days?

      1. JTee

        Where I live, there is no self-service gasoline, so those jobs are still there. The difference now, it seems, is that oftentimes the pump jockey is a man in his 40s or 50s, whereas back then it seemed like there were more teenagers.

        I will shed no tears for paper routes, which were a horrible scam based on my multi-year/multi-state experiences back in the late 60s/early 70s. Remember that the boys (mostly) were usually responsible for collecting the money by knocking on doors. I was NEVER able to fully collect the money owed me, and consequently paid out of my own pocket in the hope/expectation that I would be made whole. It makes me cringe to think the pennies per hour I was making for very unpleasant work. Rain/snow/ice? Didn’t matter. Getting up at 2am to assemble, fold and deliver the Sunday papers was something I dreaded. Often the weight of all those papers we had to carry on our bikes was so great that if my bike fell, I couldn’t pick it back up again. Horrible, horrible experience.

        1. Wukchumni

          I dunno, life wasn’t all that bad as a first job for this 12 year old kid delivering papers on my trusty steed, a blue Schwinn sting ray with a sissy bar, slick back tire, banana seat and all of one speed.

          Collecting payment from the people I hucked papers at was my first experience in commerce, and there was this family that always gave a dollar tip every month, and others tipped as well, definitely for xmas.

          The wire-shrouded bulky rectangle of fishwraps would be dropped on our driveway, which was my prompting to grab the wire cutters and get to work. Folding each paper into thirds, I would then rubber band them closed in that position, for about 65 newspapers, which went into a yoke looking thing that went around your neck, with large pockets to stick the papers in on both sides, and when you ran out of one side, you stopped your bike, and turned the serape looking thing around, to resupply. If it was raining or the threat of, you’d put a plastic bag over each one when folding them, but this was L.A. and it never rains there all that much.

      2. Summer

        “Where do kids get after-school jobs these days?”

        People are working many of those jobs as adults and trying to raise families with them.

  8. Duck1

    Nice photo in the Black Agenda Report piece on the American casualties in Niger, a line of African soldiers with several camo clad white guys at the end. This should work.

  9. Craig H.

    That Daphne Caruana Galizia story is very very sad. Rome and southwards are hazardous for honest investigative journalists. She was courageous.

    Coyotes are awesome critters. Every time I see one out hiking I yell at ’em “where’s your rocket?”. They always ignore me.

    Wile E.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      History is full of unanswered messages.

      If the case is not solved, its message would be considered ‘delivered.’

      And people would know how to behave themselves in the future.

    2. AnnieB

      Coyotes live up to their stereotype as tricksters in Native American lore. A large female coyote once stopped on a trail in front of my Golden Retriever and me, staring at my dog until he made a move toward her then she jumped ahead in a flirtatious manner as if saying “let’s have some fun!” Luckily I had my friendly dog on a leash. Coyotes lure domestic dogs in this way back to the pack where the dog becomes dinner.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Domestic dogs are one of the favorite treats of Tucson’s urban coyotes. They also savor the local cat population.

        Two reasons why leaving pets unattended in the yard is a very bad idea.

    3. ewmayer

      LOL, “where’s your rocket?” – thanks for the giggle. So what you’re saying is that in your opinion, coyotes are the “acme” of opportunistic-adaptable-critter evolution.

  10. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    We were out on a long range patrol at the Makin’ Delta, where leverages of 100 to 1 weren’t unheard of in the hot steamy fetid financial jungle that I was going to call home for the time being. The VC (virtual capitalists) were well known for setting up ponzi stick traps in the bottom of 3 foot internet holes, covered up with palmed frauds, and if you fell into one of these traps, it was economic curtains for you, pretty much.

    I like a F.I.R.E.fight as much as the next guy, and what happened next was beyond our comprehension. The VC had placed set and forget bonds all over our perimeter, and these are designed to maim-not kill your finances, and one of our men-Jones, stepped right on one, and the carnage was beyond belief, he begged me to sell off his remaining position, but there was nothing I could do, he was a goner. I wrote a dear john letter to his broker.

      1. Wukchumni

        My dad told me that space stocks were the cat’s meow in the late 50’s-early 60’s, and things being not that sophisticated back then, he related a tale of an IPO named United Space Industries or something like that, which took off like a rocket, but came back down to earth, when it was better understood that they were in the storage space business, not outer.

      2. whine country

        Your Napalmolive and other war baby stocks phrase kinda jogged my memory to my time in that other ‘nam. After i returned to the world I finished out my tour driving Army big shots all around the SF Bay Area. On one of my trips I was tasked with bringing the brass down to San Jose to visit a company known as Food Machinery Corp (FMC Corp for short). I had no idea what a bunch of Army brass would be doing visiting a plant with a name like that but to my astonishment, that’s where our armored personnel carriers and marine amphibious crafts were being manufactured. After that, when anyone asked me what I did in the war, I would reply: “I was a machine gunner a food machine. BTW – General Motors built my M-16.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Things will pick up when we see the first few robot judges. “This robot can handle multiple cases simultaneously, and knows all the laws in the universe.”

    Bankers Publicly Embracing Robots Are Privately Fearing Job Cuts Bloomberg

    That’s one line of defense again the coming of robots. I expect subsequent rulings to favor humans.

    1. polecat

      Oh, that’s just great ! … let’s combine F•I•R•E AND S•E•X and see what develops …

      Brilliant !

    2. perpetualWAR

      You, apparently, haven’t been to foreclosure court. Robo-judges have already been purchased by the bankers. Along with Robo-Witnesses (Perjurers) and Robo-Signers (Forger-ers). It’s all a well-oiled machine.

    3. JTMcPhee

      … how hard could it be to hack a robot judge?

      Many wetware judges in the Circuit Courts of Cook County, IL could be hacked very easily with a Manila envelope containing a couple of Hamiltons… There was a particular attorney, I recall his name was Adam Bourgeois, whose local soubriquet was “The Miracle Worker…” lots more where he came from…

  12. Elizabeth Burton

    Read the BuzzFeed piece on Russian trolls. I grant I haven’t had my caffeine yet today, so may just be suffering brain fog, but what, exactly, am I supposed to get all outraged about? Where is this alleged “dividing” that these activities are supposed to have been intended to promulgate?

    Frankly, this new tack just makes me more suspicious than ever there is a campaign to smother any and all real protest against the establishment by turning everything into “Russian interference.” With the World Socialist Web Site’s Google traffic down by 75% after they were clearly censored in search results, and other sites reporting similar drops, and now this new effort to make any protest that doesn’t receive the anointing of the “resistance” and its media a possible “Russian plot,” I am frankly becoming very nervous.

    Re: that coyote bath—just saw where the guy who took the photo said it wasn’t what it was purported to be.

    1. olga

      Maybe we should have a competition on who can come up with the most creative “Russkies did it” idea… and win a prize (or something).

  13. Wukchumni

    Post Dante’s Wineferno report:

    Cars turned over-trees ripped out of the ground, in a fire hurricane?

    The Tubbs Fire that raged through Santa Rosa last week unleashed a series of fiery tornadoes powerful enough to flip cars, yank trees out of the ground and rip homes apart, fire scientists said Wednesday.

    Gusts of up to 78 mph were recorded at the weather stations after the fires broke out Oct. 8, but the extraordinary damage documented during postmortem evaluations indicated that much more powerful forces were at play.

    “We had trees ripped out of the ground, cars turned over, garage doors ripped off their hinges and wrapped around trees in the front yards,” said Scott Upton, the northern region chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and an expert on fire behavior. “It was no different than a hurricane, really, but instead of rain we had a fire event. I’ve been in this business 30 years and it’s the worst I’ve seen.”

    When they burn the ‘Man on Saturday @ Burning Man, one thing I was always entranced by was the fire tornadoes that would whip off the burning structure, and one year I watched them whip off one after another every 10 seconds for about 10 minutes, go about 100 feet and screaming along the ground as it went.

  14. Annotherone

    Re the “Intimacy with Robots” article (it was a tl;dr for me but I skimmed). The piece was a chilling reminder that themes such as that of “Blade Runner 2049”, which we saw last week, are not going to remain fiction for long.

    1. subgenius

      It is so sad that the discussion is about intimacy with robots…why aren’t people exploring intimacy with each other more openly? There is so much more to it than the mechanical aspect, if one cares to explore.

      How did religion go from celebrating intimacy to conspiring against it? And why are people still getting conned?

  15. AnnieB

    Re: shakeup at DNC
    Article says DNC claims to be bringing in new blood. Right. Donna Brazille is now on the rules committee and Ray Buckley, who ran against Perez, is out.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m on the e-mailing list for the Draft Bernie group. They’re trying to start a new People’s Party.

      IMHO, they need to get on the ball and just do it. The Ds are in disarray. Perfect opportunity for a new party or two.

    2. Jen

      Buckley ran, and then supported Perez. Mortal sin. Re Donna Brazille and new blood…maybe going the Peter Thiel route?

  16. FluffytheObeseCat

    Thank you for the link to the Gobry op-ed from The Week. It is a fine indictment of our present political landscape. Hellscape, sensu stricto.

  17. meeps

    The bonus antidote is a riot, just for the expression on that coyote’s face. “I feel ya, dawg. I feel ya.”

  18. lyman alpha bloba

    RE: Wall Street’s crash in 1987 has an ominous parallel with today’s global markets

    This bit sticks out as an implicit admission that “markets” these days are a complete scam –

    While asset prices could remain elevated for some time yet, the removal of monetary stimulus by the world’s leading central banks will stretch the resilience of markets to breaking point.

    in other words, unless central banks keep printing money to artificially fluff up asset prices, the whole scheme is going to collapse.

    How long are we going to put up with this abject foolishness?

    1. whine country

      No disrespect but this is akin to being shocked that there was gambling at Rick’s. The fed has continuously stated that the purposes of their program is to boost the stock market in the hopes that the wealth effect would stimulate the economy. Maybe I should repeat: “IT WILL STIMULATE THE STOCK MARKET IN THE HOPES THAT THE WEALTH EFFECT WILL STIMULATE THE ECONOMY”. What did anyone think would happen when the stimulation is reversed? We are literally locked inside the loonie bin while those that should be locked up just keep on with their lunacies. In Roman times the Emperor fiddled while Rome burned – now we all fiddle while the Emperor dances around naked. Wait and see what happens to our banking system if interest rates rise in any appreciable fashion. Lower rates = additional balance sheet (you think it is a coincidence that balance sheet is abbreviated bs?) paper profits. Higher rates = lower bs profits. Much higher interest rates mean the TBTF banks are bankrupt. This is a certainty like gravity but we’ll probably use it as another opportunity to be shocked.

  19. Wukchumni

    There have been more pronounced effects on our natural environment – perhaps none more dramatic than our shrinking glaciers.

    New Zealand’s mountains are home to 3144 large glaciers, most of them located along the Southern Alps of the South Island, and 18 on the flanks of Mt Ruapehu.

    Glacier ice volume is strongly influenced by temperature and precipitation.

    From 1977 to 2016, it was estimated our glaciers lost almost 25 percent, or 13.3 cu km, of their ice volume – a trend in step with shrinking glaciers elsewhere in the world.

    Walking through lush rain forest and abruptly seeing glaciers just 50-100 feet above you merging into the dense understory, is what makes the Southern Alps one of my Valhallas, and add in chatty mountain parrots of the mensa set-Keas, along with a host of other avian life and it’s otherworldly, although you kind of hanker for something other than birds after awhile. One trip a dozen years ago, we walked 200km in the back of beyond there, and total non-bird sightings, amounted to 1 rabbit.

    The big glaciers are 20 miles long, and the Southern Alps are a heck of a Himalaya training zone, and although they aren’t high by Himalayan standards, a mountain such as Mount Cook (12,218 feet) has many thousands of feet of glaciers below the summit. It’s no wonder so many Kiwis are world class climbers. They have the perfect playground.

    1. subgenius

      Is your moniker kiwi-related? I hadn’t put it together…but had a childhood friend nicknamed Whanganui (sp?) after his place of birth…I have always dreamed of achieving resident status in NZ…everybody I have ever met from there, or who have acquired residency have been awesome, and bizarrely talented (a little like Icelandic natives…must be a small island thing)

      1. subgenius

        There are some great examples of cob architecture there, too…it’s a poster child for the resilience of that technique.

      2. Wukchumni

        My moniker is the name of the native tribe that called this place home for 3,000 years…

        I too am in love with the land of the long white cloud, and have been there a dozen times over a 36 year period. I’m in awe of the people there, friendly classic overachievers @ whatever they set their mind to, and sneaky funny.

        We toyed with the idea of buying something there to play the eternal summer game, but the tyranny of distance was a bit much.

        It’s changed heaps since my first visit, when forced austerity vis a vis heavy import duties, meant that every 6th car on the road was a 1957 Morris Minor, along with other mostly UK 1950’s makes.

        Queen St in Auckland could’ve been a stunt double for Havana, just switch out ’57 Chevies, and it would’ve looked the part.

        And then later in the 80’s, their economy went anything goes, and a flood of 3-4 year old Japanese cars ex-Nippon drivers, came in and you never saw the old ones hardly anymore.

    2. The Rev Kev

      When you were talking about retreating glaciers, I was reminded of a doco I saw not that long ago. A scientist was talking about how he and his friends would sink a drill down through ice several dozen meters of glacier until it hit bedrock to take scientific examples about a decade or so earlier. He was actually in the area where he conducted that research while he was talking to the interviewer.
      He then pointed down to the rocky surface that they were standing on and pointed out a hole in the rock’s surface. He said that was where his drill hit bedrock and pointed up and said that the glacier’s surface where they were standing was now open skies and was several dozen meters above where they were standing. This was gob-stopping stuff to see in how rapid the glacial retreat had been.

  20. Tooearly

    Could the timing of the Russian uranium story and the upcoming tax vote and the Perez cleaning house story be interrelated? Now I put away those tin foil hats

  21. Juliania

    I think this belongs in Imperial Collapse Watch, and apologies if im repeating what another has noted –

    New Zealand now has a Labour government in coalition with NZFirst and the Greens. ( The NZ Herald seems apoplectic, heh.)

      1. ChrisPacific

        She is on record as stating that neoliberalism has failed and that markets make good servants but poor masters. On that basis alone I am hopeful – I actually never expected to hear that from a leader of either major party, as the local version of Labour has been fairly well infected with the neoliberalism virus. She is still hostage to austerity/balanced budget type thinking and doesn’t seem to know anything about MMT, but overall I think she is about the most we could hope for given her background. She seems to genuinely care about helping people and have a healthy degree of skepticism about the suitability of markets as a tool for doing so, which already puts her ahead of most current Western leaders.

    1. ChrisPacific

      On that topic, can anyone point me to a primer on MMT suitable for sharing that’s written in plain English? The top hits when I search are all by Randall Wray and therefore not really suitable (the plain English part).

      There is a lot of post-election hysteria going around about how irresponsible tax-and-spend leftists are going to bankrupt the country. Leaving aside that it would be next to impossible for this to occur in practice (New Zealand has a law on the books that basically requires a balanced budget, except in extraordinary circumstances like recessions) it’s usually based on a number of faulty assumptions. I would like to call them out and demolish them without making people’s eyes glaze over (a tall order, I know).

        1. ChrisPacific

          Thanks. I’ll have a look through the Mosler one and see if I can summarize it somehow.

          Your links actually illustrate my point pretty well. One is a book (household budget analogy skeptics are not going to buy a book). The other has some pretty good discussion by Mosler, but it’s long form and covers many pages, and it’s preceded by maybe 10 pages of forewords, prologues, introductions etc. (Academic, in other words). None of the skeptics I am thinking of are going to get past page 2 of that before giving up. It’s also quite US centric (“Social Security is broken”).

          What I would really like is a newspaper style treatment that covers the basics in a few paragraphs, makes some provocative statements to gain people’s attention, then progressively adds more detail. Possibly I just need to read all the material and then write one myself, but I was hoping someone might have made the attempt already.

  22. Peronella

    Madrid’s offer to not apply Art 155 of the Spanish Constitution against Catalunya if President Puigdemont holds early elections, is a trap that no Catalan observer or politician will fall for.

    The intent is to make the pro independence parties illegal, meaning they will not be able to run for office. This was done already in the Basque country very recently, successfully, from Madrid’s point of view.

    From the Catalan perspective, there is absolutely no reason at all to have new elections in Catalunya. Besides, only the President of Catalunya can call for new elections, and Puigdemont has no reason to do that.

  23. SeanL

    When trying to understand the impact of robots its useful to read Stiglitz’ ideas on the cause of the Great Depression as being the result of the agricultural revolution forcing workers off farm without a concurrent development of technologies to absorb the displaced workers. Which did not take place until after WW2 with when a huge increase in manufacturing jobs occurred. An increase on ‘technological efficiency’ in one area does benefit the overall economy unless meaningful labour is maintained. Which is the problem with use of robots – and in particular AI systems that displace service/professional workers.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “does NOT benefit the overall economy”?

      And why are service and professional workers special?

      1. SeanL

        The focus seems to be on manufacturing jobs being replaced by robots. And the ‘story’ has been that these manufacturing jobs will be replaced/transform into professional service jobs – that’s why they keep telling us that you have to go to university/college. But what people are missing is that a lot of these professional services jobs are being replaced too by AI already. E.g. law, finance & accounting.

        Just like the agricultural revolution – there is no fall-back.

    2. subgenius

      Note the additional aspect of nation state border controls and passports that spread like a cancer following the war – I find it darkly humorous that the import/export of robots is much easier to arrange than importing and exporting oneself…

  24. olga

    Afghanistan’s tryst with China begins – in Washington Asia Times… “The bottom line is that the matrix of common interests among regional states that OBOR visualizes makes redundant a long-term western military presence in Afghanistan. On the other hand, paradoxically, the US’s “basing strategy” in Afghanistan – to keep bases and troops indefinitely – requires that the region (which comprises Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan) remains in a state of suspended animation.”
    Right on target summary… US cannot “win” in Afghanistan, because then it’d have to leave. So it will maintain a low-level conflict (it hopes) so that the troops can stay forever (or at least until the empire finally goes bankrupt).

  25. Oregoncharles

    And the coyote, in the bonus Antidote, didn’t bite them? How did they CATCH it?

    It must have been a pet, or maybe in a zoo, before.

    I’d add, our DOG didn’t like baths, either; dogs notoriously don’t.

  26. Jeff W

    “The ‘blue halo’ effect” article:

    Somehow, some plants are genetically programmed to “know” this.

    “Somehow”? That, in a science article? I dunno—maybe evolution has something to do with it?

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