Links 10/9/17

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Squirrels Sort Their Nuts Like You Sort Your Fridge The Atlantic

Discoveries have awkward first dates Nature

Wolfgang Schäuble warns of another global financial crisis FT

How UBS Became Home to Half the World’s Billionaires Bloomberg. Interview with UBS CEO. “[BLOOMBERG MARKETS] You’re like Tinder? [SERGIO ERMOTTI] At these events we are a kind of sophisticated speed-­dating organizer, sure. It adds value for our clients.”

Want to avert the apocalypse? Take lessons from Costa Rica Guardian (SV).

A War Plan Orange For Climate Change US Naval Institute (Re Silc).

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico after the storm: an island on the edge FT

Puerto Rico faces looming Medicaid crisis The Hill

Hurricane Alley

Workers laid off at now-closed Florida nursing home where 12 died CNN. So the market works!

Texas Official After Harvey: The ‘Red Cross Was Not There’ Pro Publica

Catalonia

Big Questions for Catalonia Bloomberg

Catalan separatists under pressure after unity rallies The Local

Podemos’ Alternative for Catalonia Jacobin

Catalonia’s Push for Independence Has an Unlikely Symbol: Tractors NYT (Re Silc).

Russian views on the separatist referendums in Spain and Iraq The Saker

Julian Assange Told Young Catalans What Chat Apps To Use To Avoid Spanish Authorities The Buzzfeed (TF). The story isn’t the personalities, but the way the activists set up their network.

In France’s so-called Northern Catalonia, there’s ‘a lot of sympathy for the Catalans’ PRI

Brexit

Theresa May hints at cabinet reshuffle as plot fizzles out FT

Here’s three ways Theresa May can show the Conservative Party that she’s still the boss The Sun

Lessons from the Norway-Sweden border for post-Brexit Britain Politico

RBS Head Says Banks Need Brexit Transition Details by Early 2018 Bloomberg

Grenfell Tower survivor reunited with cat she lost on night of blaze Guardian. Not that she has a home, of course.

Merkel agrees to limit on refugees entering Germany France24

Syraqistan

Gunman attacks Saudi royal palace in Jeddah Deutsche Welle

Saudi Arabia in huge military arms deal with the United States and Russia News.com

Iran president: 10 Trumps can’t roll back nuke deal benefits ABC

Tom Ridge: We Need Regime Change in Iran Newsweek. Remember the DHS color-coded threat level advisories? That Tom Ridge.

Syria – Erdogan Is Afraid Of Entering Idleb Moon of Alabama

U.S., Turkey mutually suspend visa services for security reasons Reuters

North Korea

A Hypothetical Nuclear Attack on Seoul and Tokyo: The Human Cost of War on the Korean Peninsula 38 North

Britain ‘draws up battle plan for war with North Korea’ The Telegraph. Where’s Tony Blair when we really need him?

China

China survey puts services growth at 21-month low, blurs picture of resilient economy Reuters

Mainland China’s ‘transformation’ nothing to shout about South China Morning Post (Furzy Mouse).

How America Turned a Blind Eye to China’s Growing Naval Power The National Interest. “China doesn’t need to command sea or sky, either partially or wholly, to prevail in a trial of arms.”

New Cold War

Vladimir Putin: Computer Genius? Andrew Cockburn, Truthdig. “The Democratic establishment professes to believe that where Mook failed, Putin succeeded. If this were so, then Putin should set up shop as a campaign consultant in this country in time for the next election. Surely one of those Democratic hopefuls currently traversing the country raising millions would pay well for his U.S. voter model, which he must be holding as a valuable asset. ”

After Nine Months, Only Stale Crumbs in Russia Inquiry Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

Nearly 1 mln people evacuated across Russia amid bomb threats since September 11 TASS. Hmm….

Trump Transition

Bob Corker Says Trump’s Recklessness Threatens ‘World War III’ NYT. James Fallows: “Corker is head of ForRel cmmittee. Will be in office till Jan 2019. Will have vote on tax, Iran, Russ investig, Mueller, etc.”

Déjà Voodoo Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Trump links border wall, green-card overhaul to DACA AP

How Rand Paul became the Trump Whisperer Axios

Treasury Report Calls for Sweeping Changes to Financial Rules NYT

Interior Department worked behind the scenes with energy industry to reverse royalties rule WaPo

Will We Ever Return to Normal After Trump? James Wolcott, Vanity Fair. NC readers will be unsurprised that Wolcott doesn’t feel called upon to justify whatever the normal is that he wants us to “return” to, and has exactly zero policy recommendations for what to do when we reach that happy state.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

US Intelligence Unit Accused Of Illegally Spying On Americans’ Financial Records Buzzfeed

Facebook security chief rants about misguided “algorithm” backlash TechCrunch

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia Guardian

Nation-State Attackers Steal, Copy Each Other’s Tools Dark Reading. Attribution is hard…

Public officials risk national security by using cellphones Asia Times (Re Silc).

Sports Desk

Vice President Mike Pence Upstages Peyton Manning With Orchestrated Anthem Walkout Sports Illustrated

CBS clarifies after saying Colin Kaepernick would stand for anthem USA Today. “Clarifies” my sweet Aunt Fanny.

Emergency Department Visits For Firearm-Related Injuries In The United States, 2006–14 Health Affairs

A hiccup in Purdue’s acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University WaPo

Into the wilderness: Secretive South Carolina camps come under scrutiny following teen’s death Post and Courier. Privatized “camps.”

‘Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers’? The New York Times Is One of Them The Wrap

Class Warfare

The Uber Game FT. “Can you make it in the gig economy?” Worth playing. I lost, badly.

The Economy Is Humming. Bankers Are Cheering. What Could Go Wrong? NYT

How free porn enriched the tech industry — and ruined the lives of actors Vox

New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Neural Networks Wired (Furzy Mouse). Wouldn’t be the first time science caught up with engineering, if in fact it has.

The Stockley Files Riverfront Times. Why the St Louis protests began.

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.

108 comments

  1. allan

    Speaking by phone to accept the prize, Professor Thaler said, “I think the most important impact is recognition that economic agents are human and economic models have to incorporate that.” [NYT]

    What a sad commentary on a “social” “science”.
    Imagine a winner in physics saying,

    I think the most important impact is recognition that physical particles have mass and charge
    and physics models have to incorporate that.

    1. Wukchumni

      Funny that a guy with the name of what would become ‘Dollar’ wins a economic Nobel prize…

      Quickie Wiki:

      “To begin with, the name “thaler” was used as an abbreviation of “Joachimsthaler”, a coin type from the town of Joachimsthal in the Kingdom of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), where there were silver mines and the first such coins were minted in 1518. This original Bohemian thaler carried a lion, from the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Bohemia, on its reverse side.”

    2. Bunk McNulty

      It will take more than one stake to kill Friedman’s “rational actor” theories. But this is a good beginning.

      1. allan

        Thaler was a big fan of demonetisation in India. From last August (see this thread.):

        @R_Thaler This is a policy I have long supported.
        First step towards cashless and good start on reducing corruption.

        How’s that working out, J.-L. S. ?

        1. Vatch

          The Indian catastrophe of eliminating some denominations of cash is only part of the story. The loss of electric power as a result of the hurricane in Puerto Rico also shows how bad a cashless society would be. When the electricity or the internet is down, cash is essential. Any economists who don’t understand this don’t understand economics.

          1. Wukchumni

            What’s going on in Puerto Rico is essentially a simulation of either a Carrington Event or EMP attack, but instead of being on one little island in the Caribbean, imagine it worldwide?

          2. Bugs Bunny

            I’m in India right now. All I hear is that It was a disaster for the poor and “middle class” (scare quote because I can’t define it precisely here). The stories are heartbreaking. Savings lost overnight, queues kilometers long, farmers losing harvested crops to spoilage…

            The powerful keep their wealth fungible in gold. A ban on gold sales would have been something interesting to see but I don’t think it would end corruption either. Corruption is officially “wrong” but everyone seems to understand that with power comes certain rights to (ab)use it.

            I don’t have as much experience in India as JLC I imagine but I do have good friends here who are honest with me so I’m sharing that.

        2. Bugs Bunny

          I’m in India right now. All I hear is that It was a disaster for the poor and “middle class” (scare quote because I can’t define it precisely here). The stories are heartbreaking. Savings lost overnight, queues kilometers long, farmers losing harvested crops to spoilage…

          The powerful keep their wealth fungible in gold. A ban on gold sales would have been something interesting to see but I don’t think it would end corruption either. Corruption is officially “wrong” but everyone seems to understand that with power comes certain rights to (ab)use it.

          I don’t have as much experience in India as JLC I imagine but I do have good friends here who are honest with me so I’m sharing that.

          1. zer0

            And the wealthy have their dirty money squirreled away anyways. Modi is either a fool or a tool, or possibly both. The current world, in which the little man gets increasingly hammered by policy that is both increasingly burdensome both monetarily and time-wise is a world ripe for a revolution, and I think this time the revolution might be global.

          2. Procopius

            The bills the Indian government took our ot circulation were the equivalents of $5 and $10 bills. I don’t think mafia and black marketeers keep their wealth in small bills. I don’t think they even keep their real wealth in currency.

      2. Adam Eran

        [Israeli psychologist Amos Tversky] had listened to an American economist [Friedman?] talk about how so-and-so was stupid and so-and-so was a fool, then said, “All your economic models are premised on people being smart and rational, and yet all the people you know are idiots.”

        (From Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project)

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We should also add that ‘Nature is 99% of our economic reality, even if we fail to perceive and realize it, the 1% being artificial and imaginary, and her losses are in fact our losses, her profits ours….everything is internal, not external.’

  2. Wukchumni

    Gooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    We had to wreck the climate in order to save it, was the catchphrase often bandied about in the upper echelon of the financial atmosphere, and the grunts with tasseled loafers on the pavement in green land in lower Manhattan knew that they could always move Wall*Street to Boulder-or someplace else, as computers don’t care where they hang out, but they balk on water.

  3. Anonymous

    From the Andrew Cockburn article: “Chuck Spinney suggested to me that “the laborious act of devoting so much mental and emotional energy to the construction of a model tends to displace the modeler from the world being modeled—i.e., his interactions with the model (the intense desire to make it work, shaping its mathematical logic, programming, debugging, etc.) take on more importance than the matchup of the model to reality. In effect, the model becomes the ‘reality’ to the modeler’s mind and model/reality mismatches become ‘anomalies,’ which are psychologically easy to dismiss as outliers.”

    Is he writing about Michael Mann?

    1. Paul P

      No, their is a lot of measurement behind the hockey stick.
      Since Mann, Bradley and Hughes published the hockey stick in
      1998, there have been 13 other studies duplicating their work.
      The Keeling Curve involves over a half a century of measurement, the chemistry behind carbon and warming can be done in high school, and the relationship between climate and warming has been known since the 19th Century.

      https://history.aip.org/climate/co2.htm

    2. Ivy

      As a modeler in a former life, I can appreciate the following sentiment;

      We know it works in practice, but does it work in theory?

      1. Procopius

        In theory, practice agrees with theory. In practice they don’t. This description sounds very much like what psychologists noticed back in the ’70s about computer programmers and why it was so difficult to detect and correct bugs. With some exceptions programmers came to think of the code as “their” code, and defended it from criticism. Various efforts have been made to get away from that, but it’s never perfect.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s more like the Stockholm Syndrome where the modeler volunteers to be taken hostage by the model.

      And its victims are many and everywhere.

    4. Afrikaan

      The climatologist Michael E Mann is the opposite of a modeler. He works with historical data to create reconstructions of past climate.

  4. nyc transplant to south carolina

    RIDDLE ME THIS BATMAN………………If Bannon wants Trump to succeed why is going after the McConnell acolytes, why is going after Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Something doesn’t quite jell.

    1. hreik

      Imho, he doesn’t want him to succeed now. Bannon wants things to fall apart. Asap. Trump is no longer that “blunt instrument” (Bannon’s own descriptor for Trump) he can use. So now he wants Blunter instruments like the wacko Roy Moore. The more horrible, disruptive, right wing the candidate, the more approval (s)he gets from Bannon. Just my 2 centimes.

  5. upstater

    Just when you thought politics couldn’t possibly get worse:

    New Wall Street candidates emerge to test Trump-era appeal

    “With a businessman turned politician now in the Oval Office, a small but growing number of bankers and Wall Street financiers across the United States have set their sights on politics.

    In New Jersey, Connecticut and California, former bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity executives have either announced bids for legislative and gubernatorial seats, or associates have told Reuters they are considering running.

    Meanwhile, industry trade groups including the American Bankers Association are launching formal programs to teach members in various states how to campaign successfully.”

      1. a different chris

        Worse – as I don’t have to tell you, “it is difficult to get a man to understand something if [his income] depends on him not understanding it”.

        So you can’t even get the intelligent ones to get off the boat until the rocks are well within sight.

    1. cnchal

      That’s what cutting out the middleman means. Why pull puppet strings when you can dump the puppet and get greater control

      Bernie Sanders: The business of Wall Street is fraud and greed.

      1. perpetualPOOR

        Most certainly. Why pay a political stooge to lobby for your best interests, when you can install your own peeps inside.

        Example: Senator Mark Mullet (D) WA
        He previously served as a Managing Director at Bank of America, serving as the Global Head of Foreign Currency Options Trading.

        No conflict of interest here……move along.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Down here in FL, we have a corp-financial guy for governator. Used some of the money he looted from the Medicare-Medicaid programs with his HCA scams to buy the initial election (against a patently weak Dem candidate) and then rolled over the pseudo-Dem in the next election. And now he has presidential aspirations also, apparently.

      Money DOES equal knowledge, it’s just the knowledge of the cancer cell about how to evade capture, disassembly and re-use by the immune system, and how to propagate to the death of the organism… Money of course also equals power, in the system in which we live…

      Can’t fix stupid, and the fix is in…

    1. Chris

      Thank you Basil, yes. More damaging, long term, IMO, would be placing a bomb next to a nuclear reactor, particularly one near or on the coast line…

      We are seeing more and more people killed by cars and trucks (don’t recall anything significant before Nice??) and now we see how easy it is to kill and wound hundred simply by firing an AR into a crowd (where do they dream up this stuff? /s). I can’t see how further killings can be avoided in the current world climate

  6. timbers

    Vladimir Putin: Computer Genius? Andrew Cockburn, Truthdig. “The Democratic establishment professes to believe that where Mook failed, Putin succeeded. If this were so, then Putin should set up shop as a campaign consultant in this country in time for the next election.

    Beat you to it. Here’s what I’m telling my dem loyalist friends who are all in on Facebook adds by “the Russians” stealing Hillary’s Presidency from her.

    Breaking News: “Hillary Clinton has announced her 2020 Presidential Campaign effective immediately. Vladimir Putin will be her running mate and campaign manager.”

    From Clinton headquarters:

    “Putin brings proven experience to elect American Presidents on his whim by spending a mere $50,000 on Facebook adds. The Clintons have confirmed via anonymous sources that Putin will have total control of campaign spending and instructed to spend no more than $55,000 the 10% to adjust for inflation from his proven success in electing Trump in 2016.”

    If you can’t beatem, join’em. That’s something the Clintons can understand.

  7. Wukchumni

    “When was gambling so reckless? Men come not now with purses to the hazard of the gaming table, but with a treasure-chest beside them.”~~
    Juvenal
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I was reading ” The Days Of The French Revolution” by Hibbert and for what it’s worth, gambling was also rampant before cooler heads prevailed later on.

  8. Carolinian

    Wolcott: the fancy version of the creative class fever brain.

    If we don’t prevent future Trumps, the next self-styled, Putin-picked autocrat may not be a complete boob and may have a better handle on how to accomplish his heinous goals. Which suggests a President Pence won’t be any picnic. Oh well, let’s just wait and detonate that bridge when we get to it.

    While Wolcott is certainly capable of launching the verbal barrage, this onetime fan is having difficulty remembering whether the former TV critic has ever written anything of any real importance. His hyperbolic rant is as sloppy with the facts (“Putin-picked autocrat”) as Trump is with his spelling. We, the readers and voters, get to decide which branch of the elite meltdown is worse.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The failure to hold Obama accountable is the other key part of the “OMG Russia!” narrative. In all of these laments about the loss of civility, they rarely mention the preceding Administration. The GOP obstruction over the Supreme Court merited a mention, but the imperial power Obama expanded then handed to Trump doesn’t warrant a mention.

      Wolcott notes the hollow in of the Democratic bench. I guess the recent Democratic majorities didn’t happen.

    2. Tom

      “Putin-picked autocrat” does have a nice ring to it, and I also liked the use of, “his heinous goals.” I’m surprised Wolcott left out references to any devious plans, depraved tactics or dastardly henchmen.

          1. polecat

            HeyZeus help me … ! I read what Tom above wrote as : Putin ‘pickled’ autocrat …
            Uhg !

      1. jrs

        If we don’t prevent Putin-picked autocrats, we’ll get standard Republicans, I can’t decide which is worse, oh wait they are kind of the same ..

  9. bronco

    Here’s hoping that the Harvey Weinstein story blows it all open. It would be nice to see all these Hollywood sleaze bags taken down. There have been rumblings about child stars being abused for a long time but nothing definite seems to drop. A lot of money is no doubt being spread around

    1. Ivy

      For some cosmic justice, get transparency and resolution on Weinstein, Pizzagate and the Lolita Express. There is probably some overlap and the world would be better off with exposure of the alleged miscreants.

      1. Wukchumni

        Please don’t sue me like that woman did @ McDonalds-when she spilled coffee on herself, I have Mutual of Tijuana and they don’t cover virtual spills.

  10. Alf

    RE: Uber game

    I started driving for Uber in between jobs and its a mixed bag. I probably average around $12/hour which is well below what I made as a professional but still above minimum wage. However it’s very enjoyable to make your own hours and interact with strangers.

    My biggest concern, contrary to what the game would have you believe, is not the back pain that I’ve gotten sitting for 8 hours at ANY job, but how I’m going to pay for a doctor’s visit and prescription. This single driver has 2 kids but the subject of insurance never comed up in the game.

    Instead they focus on bizarre hipster quandries:
    – I have to live in an expensive California city because its my right to live with the creative class
    – I have to own a Prius or a minivan
    – I squandered all my savings a week before my mortgage is due

      1. Pat

        She truly is tone deaf.

        I am truly conflicted, so much of social media is just a swamp, but it is harder for people like Donna to make stupid pronouncements that ignore their own complicity in a situation without discovering how many people recognize it for the manure it is.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          ” tone deaf.”

          You are being more than generous. Brazille, herself, has demonstrated remarkable incompetence. I would note this is wake of the sexual predator in the White House and the Hillary campaign. Not to mention the well known rumors about Weinstein and her Donna’s old boss, Bill. This is an example of how rotten the Democratic establishment has genuinely become.

          In her original tweet, she hails Weinstein’s firing as an example of leadership. If you want to know why Hillary isn’t President, look at her friends. Mook is simply the latest clown in a long line of clowns.

          1. JBird

            It’s a theme on this site isn’t it? Rampant incompetence, ignorance, stupidity, self-centerness, or some combination of.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              A lack of empathy breeds incompetence; although I peronally believe Brazille is a world class moron, her genuine lack of empathy for the victims of Weinstein leads her not to think how hailing a company for the bare minimum after being caught might play with the public. Any kind of critical thinking would note public outrage produced the action, and having a long time loyalist of Bill Clinton call a very well known serial predator being fired “leadership” demonstrates the relationship between a lack of empathy and critical thinking.

            2. JTMcPhee

              Incompetent and ignorant by some standards — but who has all the money? A very selective kind of incompetence…

    1. petal

      It had disappeared by the time I looked and so I had thought you meant the “wishing everyone a very happy indigenous peoples day” she posted, as if it’s Christmas or New Year’s or something instead of remembering genocide.

  11. justanotherprogressive

    Re: Discoveries have awkward first dates Nature

    This article makes a very important point! Advancements in science, and basic knowledge, in general, have always come from collaboration (i.e., co-operation), not competition.

    Tell me, what “great advancements in knowledge ” have Jobs, Musk, Theil, Gates, Buffett, Branson, etc., ever come up with?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Weak sauce with respect to Wegener. ‘Much of that delay might trace to US researchers viciously opposing his ideas, as historian Naomi Oreskes described in Plate Tectonics (Westview Press, 2001).’

      ‘Might.’

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What great advancements in knowledge?

      They have shown us that we can’t subsist on wealth inequality.

      “Sure, we’re just re-learning what others before us had learned themselves already. So, we started out benighted, but at least we are equipped with that enlightening knowledge now.”

    3. carycat

      All hail the Clippy! And don’t forget rounded corners. Don’t they call them Intellectual Property?

  12. The Rev Kev

    Re: Tom Ridge: We Need Regime Change in Iran
    Seems this character was a supporter of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran in having them removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. They had murdered half a dozen Americans previously and attempting to attack the Iranian mission to the United Nations which was one of the many reasons of them being on this list. I suppose the idea was that they could be the new government of Iran after a coup but they are hated and despised in Iran for fighting for Saddam against Iranian soldiers during the Iran-Iraq war. Not the best choice for a ‘government in a box’.

    1. Sid Finster

      When did unpopularity with the folks they are ostensibly supposed to govern ever stop the US from picking a government?

      Ahmed Chalabi, I’m looking at you.

    1. polecat

      Yeah, but what less ‘stuff’ one holds, is a treasure to behold … especially when one has a hand in creating it !

  13. JEHR

    Re: UBS . . .Home of Billionaires
    Just look at the Aureolas over Emotti’s head: full of everything but lambent meaning, I must say.

    1. John k

      20-30 sea otters have moved in to the Harbor at morro bay, you can often watch families interact from just a few feet away… they totally ignore the oglers.
      Similarly watch elephant seals at beach a few miles north of Hearst castle, best time is Jan feb when birthing occurs, followed shortly by the breeding season.

  14. Wukchumni

    There $eems to be $ome rea$on young adult$ aren’t into home owner$hip, but who can be $ure of the cau$e?

    1. jrs

      then again that is not just young adults at this point, but people well into middle age as houses have been unaffordable for the middle class for over a decade now.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        That assertion depends very much upon where you live. Y’all fly over vast numbers of affordable houses, millions of houses, on your transcontinental flights. For example, in my son’s neighborhood, in Florence, Alabama, the street is filled with 1200 sq ft, 3 brd, 1 bath houses built in the 60s, all priced in the 60k range. Down the street, you’ll find 2 bath variants, 1600 sq ft, for 85k. Just about every yard is mowed with regularity, grocery stores, restaurants, churches, world-class recording studios (!!), a small public university, are all within walking distance. If you can’t walk, the city will send a van to pick you up and drive you anywhere in the city for $2.50. I dare say there are similar communities all over the country. You don’t get granite counters or walk-in showers. Shrug.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            My own investigations into Somewhere Other than the Bay Area (my unaffordable home for all of my life) says it’s less about crime than about economic opportunity.

            Very few jobs, can’t make any money. Hence, low housing costs.

          2. WobblyTelomeres

            Despair. The problem is despair. Same as the rest of the country abandoned by the Money Party. [Money Party? Which one is that?]

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Facebook security chief rants about misguided “algorithm” backlash

    Reading through this and other similar articles, now there is pressure being put on Facebook to fix their algorithms to keep ‘fake news’ out of their newsfeeds. Now I understand that this whole narrative is a manufactured piece of kayfabe, but that being said, I don’t have a Fleecebook account and don’t really understand what all the fuss is about here. Is one required to have a ‘newsfeed’ if they have an account? And if they are, can’t they simply ignore it? The question nobody seems to be asking is why is it FB’s responsibility to ‘curate’ the news for its users at all??!?! They are a social media platform after all, not the AP. I thought their main purpose was to allow people to post useless pictures of their pets and what they had for lunch. IMNSHO, citizens ought to educate themselves enough to call bul*$%it when they see it, not sit around waiting to be spoonfed what someone else thinks is important to know. If the authorities really want to put pressure on news organizations to tell the truth, they ought to start with actual news organizations like the NYT and WaPo but clearly they won’t because outlets like these are quite useful for spreading the fake news the authorities want spread, same as it ever was.

    Is it really a surprise to people that not everything on the internet is 100% true? !?! I know we have some scifi fans out there and I really enjoyed Vernor Vinge’s Zone’s of Thought series written when the intertubes were in their infancy where he posits a galaxy-wide net that is flooded with bogus data with nasty viruses hiding in every node and the trick was to sort out the signal from the noise, pretty much exactly what we have now 25 years on.

    Anyway, thanks to NC for continuing to fight for the truth and the high signal to noise ratio around here. Check will be coming shortly.

  16. Wukchumni

    You know what’s amusing?

    In this train wreck of a presidency, the usual indicator of something being horribly wrong, is exactly the same spot price as it was the day he was elected.

    At least one thing is stable…

  17. Craig H.

    I read the Axios piece on Rand Paul and it was a little meh but it was not terrible and I had never seen that site before so I poked around on it a little. They had a story which I had not seen elsewhere which would be fascinating (albeit horrible) if true. The writer claims that Bannon is preparing a full assault on all Republican senators up for election in 2018 except Ted Cruz.

    Axios Sneak Peek is the title of the page.

    The Bannon story is item 4: Bannon’s next victims.

    Link

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Japan, Kannon is the goddess of mercy.

        Are we talking about coup de grace, blow of mercy*, to establishment Republicans here?

        *It is one of the scenarios mentioned the other day when it comes to Climate Change. Do we wreck it to save it? No one knows. But the idea, applied in various situations, has been around a long time.

  18. JBird

    Vox’s article on the The Butterfly Effect documentary on how technerds are destroying, or at least damaging, the lives of porn workers is interesting. The lords of tech make bocoup bank while the people who created the porn suffer. Yet, it’s the tech people who are respected for making money by stealing other people’s work while the workers who made are disparaged because of what they make.

    1. bronco

      The nerds have always had issues with the hot chicks , they probably get off on ruining their lives because some girl they liked wouldn’t talk to them in junior high.

      The rich nerds will still have to use their money to buy affection anyway though so it doesn’t really solve anything.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Texas Official After Harvey: The ‘Red Cross Was Not There’ Pro Publica

    No Red Cross in a red state like Texas.

    Ironically, we find Blue Cross in the Lone Star state.

      1. bronco

        The red cross is way down the list in terms of percentage of donations that reach the needy , but still comfortably ahead of the Clinton Foundation I bet

      2. Alex Morfesis

        The red cross is not a non profit as in irs non profit…it is a federality…a federal corporation created by an action of congress…the “donations” are more as in a church basis of tax write off but mandated by congress…not the executive branch via irs/treasury…

        Which is why they were handed the blood bank mess during the height of the aids/questionable blood days…despite them actually never having fixed the blood bank problem, unlike the hospitals that had previously controlled the process, it was rather difficult to sue the red cross due to its congressionally created imf/world bank type charter in the usa…

        1. JBird

          The Red Cross seems to be getting more incompetent. From what I read they spent more time and money looking good than actually doing so after the Haitian earthquake and that hurricane that flooded the area around NYC. They really shouldn’t be emulating FEMA

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US Intelligence Unit Accused Of Illegally Spying On Americans’ Financial Records Buzzfeed

    Recall the groundbreaking inquiry here about whether it was legal for private corporations to spy on, well, maybe not quite that, but let’s say, to collect information on Americans’ financial records.

    They are called credit agencies.

    And it’s a known fact (OK, personal anecdotal experience) that a citizen of this manifestly exceptional country is likely to change his/her behavior upon being notified of his/her unsatisfactory financial performance, lest he or she be kicked out of Debt Eden.

    You can’t really say ‘coerced,’ but people do voluntarily act to make our financial overlords (let’s call them Big Cousins) happier when one’s monitored credit scores are not up to our Big Cousins’ expectations.

    Now that you know you have a lot of Big Cousins whom you didn’t know existed, rest assured Big Cousins are always watching you and all other indebted serfs, all the time.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Vladimir Putin: Computer Genius? Andrew Cockburn, Truthdig.

    Putin is only a windmill, yet our shiniest knights think he’s a dragon.

    And so they busy themselves trying to impale a windmill called Vlad.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tom Ridge: We Need Regime Change in Iran Newsweek.

    I remember reading one of those ‘how to succeed in life’ books, and one advice was to ‘focus on what one can achieve, instead of setting impossible goals.’

    So, of course, we like to regime change Russia or China, but maybe another day.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    Appreciated the Sports Illustrated article about VP Pence intentionally upstaging the Colts ceremony to honor the career of Peyton Manning. Wonder how much the Pences’ and the entourage’s flight out to Indianapolis to protest the NFL players’ protests cost us taxpayers, all so Pence could stage a splashy exit for the evening news and the president could subsequently make a speech in which he said he ordered Pence to travel to Indianapolis to do just that.

    The president also used this engineered event to unilaterally lash out and redefine the objective of the peaceful and silent protests by the NFL players. Rather than protesting racial injustice, the president said the players’ protests are disrespectful protests against our troops, the American flag, and the entire national anthem. He again called for protesting players to be fired by the owners of the NFL teams. Causes one to recall that old Samuel Johnson quote about patriotism.

    1. bronco

      If you want to make an omelet you gotta break some eggs. I think all the turmoil and disruption at NFL games is good. This is hugely entertaining .

      Its been reported that the government has been paying teams to be patriotic since 2009 or so , and its generally true that TV barely showed the anthems until they thought they could milk a scandal.

      The players are ok to kneel if they want , the owners can fire or bench them if they want , I for one would like to see them bench or fire a kneeler. That would be like throwing gasoline at a fire.

      I like football the game but the NFL owners are basically rich jerks who are living off the stored fat of their rich parents and suckling at the teat of the taxpayers. I want to see them raked over the coals , I like to see them squirm in the spotlight this is putting on them. With any luck it could lead to taxpayers refusing to pay for any more stadiums.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “US Intelligence Unit Accused Of Illegally Spying On Americans’ Financial Records”
    This is called industrial espionage. What are the chances they are NOT selling that information to interested parties, under the table?

    One thing Snowden revealed was that NSA analysts had been using NSA to spy on their partners.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “The Stockley Files Riverfront Times. ”
    Sounds important, but the link is bad: “page does not exist,” though it’s at the Riverfront Times.

  26. ChrisPacific

    The neural networks article was interesting and explains a few things that have puzzled me about the technology, such as how we ended up in a situation where we have a tool that seems to produce good results but nobody knows how it works. The answer appears to be that once the theorists came up with something workable, the engineers got hold of it and forged ahead with monetizing it and turning it into commercial products. Engineers are famously unconcerned with why things work as long as they are convinced that they actually do work (sit in on a mathematics class with engineers sometime and observe the muttering and eye-rolls every time the lecturer insists on going through a proof). Hopefully once the theorists catch up they will supply more insight into the inner workings, strengths and limitations of neural networks as currently implemented. This could be quite important for anyone who finds themselves on the wrong end of an AI classification error, for example.

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