2:00PM Water Cooler 11/30/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Net Neutrality

“Comcast deleted net neutrality pledge the same day FCC announced repeal” [Ars Technica]. They’re just toying with us, aren’t they? More: “Comcast might really have no specific plans to enter paid prioritization agreements today. But since Comcast’s net neutrality promise now contains no pledge related to even ‘anti-competitive’ paid prioritization, the company may be preparing for a future in which it does implement paid prioritization.” If you want blazing speed, get the Facebook Package for only $89.95 a month, along with twenty — count ’em, 20! — other sites, including WeRateDogs! More pages than you can possibly read in one lifetime! It’s all you’ll ever need!

“What Actually Happens the Day Net Neutrality Is Repealed” [Gizmodo]. “[K]now that while the battle for net neutrality at the FCC may have been lost, the war isn’t even close to a conclusion. In reality, the net neutrality fight is merely migrating to a different theater, namely, the US Courts of Appeals. And excluding the possibility of a Supreme Court challenge, the outcome may very well drag on for another year and a half or more.” Very good on the legal maneuvering to come so well worth a read.

“FCC Chairman Pai defends his attack on net neutrality by substituting ideology for history” [Michael Hiltzick, Los Angeles Times]. “In the pre-broadband era — in 1996, for example — we had network neutrality. It wasn’t enforced by government regulators, because it didn’t need to be. ‘In practice it was enforced by a vibrant and competitive market,’ says Kendall Koning , the coauthor of a history of net neutrality published by Michigan State University. ‘In those days,’ she told me by email, ‘there were thousands of independent ISPs across the country.’ But that market consolidated with the rise of broadband and via inaction by the FCC.”

“Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut Obama-era net neutrality rules calls for handing off the job of policing broadband service to an agency with different powers and a different mandate” [Bloomberg]. “Giving the Federal Trade Commission oversight for the web can make sense from Pai’s perspective: It’s a consumer-protection agency [really?] that already has taken action against high-speed internet providers. But, there’s a key difference: The FCC sets rules designed to prevent bad behavior, while the FTC acts after wrongdoing has occurred…. Both the FCC and FTC are run by bipartisan commissions made up of five commissioners, although the FTC is currently short three members. The president names one of the commissioners on each panel to serve as chairman while no more than three can be from the same political party.”


“THE TAX REFORM VS. TRADE DEFICIT CATCH-22: President Donald Trump campaigned in part on a promise to completely overhaul the U.S. tax code and lower the corporate rate for the first time in years. He also pledged time and again to reduce bilateral trade deficits that he considers anathema to the American economy. But aiming to fulfill both promises leads to a catch-22, given that his current push to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years will likely push the trade deficits he hates to grow larger” [Poltico]. Cato: “The U.S. GDP is expected to grow about 2.2 percent this year, compared to 1.5 percent in 2016, according to The Conference Board, a business research and membership group. … ‘The proposed tax cut could prime the pump for even more consumption, pulling in additional imports, but not necessarily boosting exports. That would cause the trade gap to widen.'” Hmm.

“American consumers could get a high-definition view of the trade scuffle between the Mexico and the U.S. on one of their favorite products. Flat-screen televisions have been a high-volume item moving north across the border from Mexico, and…the fragile supply chain could crack if the North American Free Trade Agreement is turned off. As many as three-quarters of the flat-screen TVs Americans buy are assembled in Mexican factories” [Wall Street Journal]. See, there’s our real drug problem with Mexico: TV. More: “As many as three-quarters of the flat-screen TVs Americans buy are assembled in Mexican factories. Analysts say ending Nafta could trigger manufacturers to shift production to Asia, prompting higher prices for U.S. consumers rather than new American jobs. That’s because of an unbending element in the supply chain. The big majority of a TV’s value is locked into the glass LCD panel, and the only companies that produce panels large enough for flat-screen televisions are in Asia. And almost all the interior electronics are produced in Asia and delivered by container ship through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”



“Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is “seriously” considering the 2020 presidential race, according to confidants” [The Hill]. “The governor’s allies say he can also point to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) victory in this year’s Virginia governor’s race — an election that observers say helps solidify McAuliffe’s legacy and proves he can take on Trump.” Please kill me now.


“House 2018: Less Than a Year Out, Race for Control Is a Coin Flip” [Larry Sabato]. “The electorate often uses the midterm to put a check on the executive, particularly if that executive is unpopular….” On the wave: “Midterms are not always about the economy (2006 and 2014 weren’t, for instance), but a bad economy is a common wave-maker, historically, and the economy is not bad, at least at the moment.” Well worth a read for the conventional wisdom.


“Alabama Senate Special Election – Moore vs. Jones” [RealClearPolitics]. “Moore +2.0” (no new polling).

“But maybe most importantly, polls in this race rely on different projections about the shape of the electorate in this special election. There’s not a lot of historical precedent for special Senate races in Alabama while an unpopular Republican is president and the GOP candidate has been accused of a sexual impropriety with minors. So different pollsters will make different projections about the contours of the electorate, and we won’t know which one is right until the votes are counted in December” [Weekly Standard]. So, again, the key variable is the model of the electorate.

“Why Is Roy Moore Back In Front? Time And Trump Are Probably Helping” [Harry Enten, FiveThirtyEight]. “Republican Roy Moore appears to have pulled back into a lead in Alabama’s special Senate election. ..[T]hree new polls out this week — from Change Research, Emerson College and JMC Analytics — have Moore leading Democrat Doug Jones by 5 to 6 percentage points…. [I]t’s tough to tell who exactly will turn out in an off-year December special election involving a deeply flawed Republican candidate. It’s additionally difficult to know how or if voter sentiment may change in the final two weeks of the campaign, especially given how much it has shifted in the past few weeks.”

“Late-term abortion big part of Moore campaign, small part of abortion statistics” [AL.com] vs. “‘All the girls are lying?’ man yells at Roy Moore in church” [AL.com]. “A pro-Moore supporter then shouted that the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice is a ‘man’s man. Does that look like the face of a molester?'” But:

It was later identified that the pro-Moore supporter is the comedian Tony Barbieri [here], who is famous for his appearances as the character Jake Byrd on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Before the speech, Barbieri repeatedly interrupted individual interviews a TV crew was conducting with Moore supporters as they walked into the church.

Great. A Hollywood comedian shouting in church. That should go over well.

2016 Post Mortem

“Why it worked: A rhetorical analysis of Obama’s speech on race” [Poynter]. 2008 Post Mortem, actually. I thought it was a horrid speech then, and in retrospect it points forward to Listen, Liberal! It’s all navel-gazing from Obama about his own religious choices, an agency he denies to those “bitter” people who “cling to” guns and religion (who morphed into the “deplorables” in the Clinton campaign). See, professional classes get to think about stuff. They deliberate. They rise above. The proles are mere products of circumstance.

And as long as we’re doing pre-2016 post mortems: “WeWork Buys Meetup to Bring People Together Outside of Work” [Bloomberg]. I remember the Howard Dean meet-ups in 2004. First taste of organizing on the Internet!

Tax “Reform”

“Republican tax plan heads for Senate vote: live updates” [MarketWatch]. “The Joint Committee on Taxation has found every income bracket below $75,000 would see higher rates once the Senate bill’s individual tax cuts sunset.” These people are [family blogging] nuts. Musical interlude:

“A key problem in the US is income and wealth inequality. How does this bill address these issues? It does the opposite” [Calculated Risk]. Headline, “Policy Mistakes.” First example: Iraq. Hoo boy.

“The Senate bill would cut the rate that craft brewers pay for their first 60,000 barrels of beer in half” [Wall Street Journal]. It’s an ill wind…

“Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said early Thursday that she expects legislation to lower health-care premiums to pass Congress before senators take a final vote on a $1.5 trillion tax-reform bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Collins, speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said it’s a mistake to scrap the individual mandate without making other reforms to the health-care system” [The Hill]. “While the tax bill is in conference, the [Continuing Resolution (CR)] which will contain those provisions] will presumably become law and then the tax bill come back from conference,” she said. “So I’m going to know whether those provisions made it and that matters hugely to me.” It sounds like Collins has trust issues…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Finding Meaning in Forgotten America” [The American]. Another tour of the boonies? Still, it’s interesting that there are so many stories in this genre, and it’s certainly an improvement on interviewing the cabdriver. Anyhow, this is Chris Arnade (who probably will have a hard time getting published in liberal organs, because they’re all infatuated with J.D. Vance):

For others, like ‘Rosa,’ whom Arnade met in East Los Angeles, competing definitions of meaning prevent them from following the established path to success. Rosa is an aspiring teenager who frequents the neighborhood McDonald’s for its wifi access, a commodity unavailable at home. Despite her desire to travel, her post-high school plans are to attend East LA Community College because, according to her, she ‘can’t leave.’ Rosa is her mother’s translator, and the value that she places on ‘being there’ for her non-English-speaking mother exceeds her desire to travel and attain the credentials that the Front Row values.

“The case for normalizing impeachment” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Holy moley. Anything but register some voters and run on policies voters support. Anything. Literally anything.

“Sex, Consent, and the Dangers of “Misplaced Scale'” [Masha Gessen, The New Yorker]. “Thirty-three years ago, Gayle Rubin, a cultural anthropologist and feminist activist, observed that, during certain times in history, humans tended to renegotiate the sexual order…. Rubin did not expect good things to come from the renegotiation of the sexual sphere. The problem, she wrote, was ‘the fallacy of misplaced scale’: sex loomed so large that any sexual transgression, or imagined transgression, might bring extreme punishment…. Rubin’s essay was written during a period now remembered as the ‘feminist sex wars.’ The women’s movement had split into two camps: a less audible and less visible sexual-liberationist wing and a dominant wing that was highly, militantly suspicious of sex. The latter wing strove to tame and defang sex so that it would not contain even a hint of power.” Let me know how that works out.

“John Conyers Hospitalized For Stress-Related Illness Amid Sex Scandal” [CBS].

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, October 2017: “Inflation is showing the slightest bit of life yet probably more than enough to assure a rate hike” [Econoday]. “These rates are far from overheating but the forward direction, however glacial, is favorable for policy makers who are trying to push inflation gradually higher.” And: “The increase in personal income was slightly above expectations, and the increase in [Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE)] was at expectations” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The savings rate marginally improved but historically is extremely low” [Econintersect]. “Consumer spending continues to far outpacing income – not good news. Although this month income grew faster than expenditures. The backward revisions this month were down.”

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, November 2017: “Overall economic growth remains steady at robust levels among Chicago’s sample where the PMI, at a slightly higher-than-expected 63.9 in November, has posted its third straight plus 60 score. This is the best streak for this index in 3-1/2 years” [Econoday]. “Delivery delays, tied to the hurricane season, have been clearing up in most reports but not this one where deliveries slowed the most in 13 years. This is symptom of overheating that is likely tied to holiday congestion in the supply chain and underscores the strength of demand. Inventories rose and input costs remain elevated, also consistent with supply chain constraints.” And: “The results of this survey continue to correlate to district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and generallly aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of November 25, 2017: “Jobless claims are very low and Puerto Rico has stabilized in what is the latest good news on the labor market” [Econoday]. Yeah, heck, the job market’s so tight a 72-year-old can get a job 1,400 miles away from his home! Ain’t that great? (See Class Warfare.) And but: “This marks 140 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect]. Which is what Econintersect always says on this stat.

Commodities: “A recent report by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimated the annual global consumption of sand and gravel to exceed 40 billion tons” [Deutsche Welle]. “‘Sand is a fossil resource,’ said researcher Kiran Pereira, who founded sandstories.org to raise awareness of the issue. ‘It takes millions of years to form — but a mine can be exhausted in decades,’ she pointed out. ‘We need to recognize and value the ecosystem services provided by sand, many of which are irreplaceable.'”

Retail: “Amidst New Optimism, Emerging Markets to Overtake West in 2018” [McKinsey (J-LS)]. Fashion. “2017 signals the end of an era. The West will no longer be the global stronghold for fashion sales. In 2018, an important tipping point will be reached when, for the first time, more than half of apparel and footwear sales will originate outside of Europe and North America, as the main sources of growth are emerging market countries across Asia-Pacific, Latin America and other regions. Not surprisingly, this is also reflected in fashion executives’ sentiments, as respondents from emerging markets are more optimistic about the industry’s outlook in 2018.”

Retail: “The U.S. e-commerce market may soon become a hit in India… part of the growing drive by marketplace providers to blur national boundaries to online commerce” [Wall Street Journal]. “For sellers such as those in India, selling goods through Amazon cuts out some of the usual costs of a traditional importer and simplifies distribution because the e-commerce giant takes on much of the handling.” No race to the bottom, here! (And I wonder when the first stories about Amazon censoring comments that draw attention to country-of-origin issues will happen.

Shipping: “Food retailers trying to get a better grip on their supply chains are turning to tougher tactics with their suppliers. Some big grocers are starting to impose penalties for late or incomplete deliveries…, the latest sign of stresses in distribution channels from tougher online competition and the growing premium on delivery speed. For retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., the penalties are part of an effort to regain the estimated $75 billion a year in sales that are lost because products are out of stock or not in a condition to be sold” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Freight shipment and expenditure gains continue in October, says Cass Freight Index report” [Logistics Management]. “What’s more, October 2017 shipments topped three of the last four Octobers and was in line with the most recent record high from October 2014, which was also at 1.153. Prior to that the previous record was 1.264 from October 2007…. What’s more, October 2017 shipments topped three of the last four Octobers and was in line with the most recent record high from October 2014, which was also at 1.153. Prior to that the previous record was 1.264 from October 2007.”

Shipping: “BoxTech expands its toolkit to help track down ‘lost’ containers” [The LoadStar]. I like the air quotes round “lost.” More: “The Paris-headquartered non-profit organisation functions as the industry’s global container prefix registry and said the ‘sold’ alert function will address the hitherto problem of disposed containers assets being used illegally. ‘This will help prevent improperly marked containers from circulating with the markings of the previous owner, improving safety, reducing risk and helping to encourage the proper neutralisation of sold containers,” said the [The Bureau International des Containers (BIC)]”

The Bezzle: “Japan’s Toray, a Major Supply Chain Link, Says It Falsified Data” [New York Times]. “[Toray’s chief executive, Akihiro Nikkaku] added that partial information about the Toray Hybrid Cord issue had begun to leak online, posted by anonymous sources he presumed to be Toray employees, and that the leaks had helped to force Toray’s hand.”

The Bezzle: “Build fast, fix later: speed hurts quality at Tesla, some workers say” [Reuters]. “The luxury cars regularly require fixes before they can leave the factory, according to the workers. Quality checks have routinely revealed defects in more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X vehicles inspected after assembly, [nine current and former employees] said, citing figures from Tesla’s internal tracking system as recently as October. Some of these people told Reuters of seeing problems as far back as 2012…. At Tesla “so much goes into rework after the car is done … that’s where their money is being spent,” a former Tesla supervisor said…. Defects included ‘doors not closing, material trim, missing parts, all kinds of stuff. Loose objects, water leaks, you name it,’ another former supervisor said. ‘We’ve been building a Model S since 2012. How do we still have water leaks?'” There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over, as we used to say in the print shop.

Tech: “Elon Musk wins bet, finishing massive battery installation in 100 days” [Ars Technica]. “Tesla is normally thought of as a car company, but this announcement underscores that Tesla is really a battery company that happens to put some of the batteries in cars.” That’s a novel spin! (But kudos to Musk, in this instance.)

Tech: “Internet of things promises sustained chip market surge” [Nikkei Asian Review]. “The global semiconductor market is seen ballooning nearly 30% over two years as the need for high-speed data processing and the dawn of networked devices create massive new demand. The market will reach $408.6 billion this year, 20.6% larger than in 2016, projects a report out Tuesday from World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.”

Mr. Market: “Dow breaks above 24,000, on track for longest streak of monthly gains in 22 years” [MarketWatch].

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five exhibit faint signs of life after yesterday’s hiccup” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Nov 30

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 30 at 10:34am.

Health Care

“Medicaid managed care gone wild; DHS must slay the beast” [Des Moines Register]. “It’s official. The for-profit insurers contracted to manage Iowa’s Medicaid program can do anything. They are calling the shots while the Iowa Department of Human Services appears to have lost control over the $4 billion program it is supposed to oversee.” Ya know, it’s almost like a Presidential candidate who made #MedicareForAll an issue in the Iowa caucuses might make some headway.

Our Famously Free Press

From the Department of Don’t Worry, Everything’s on Facebook:

Guillotine Watch

Maggie Haberman is always good for a laugh:


“Behold! The astonishing mental gymnastics of TSA apologists explaining why rich people don’t need to be screened” [Boing Boing]. “If you are the kind of person who gets a Platinum Amex, or if you can save up two months’ worth of Paul Ryan tax-savings units, you can buy your way out of the worst of the system, gaining access to a near-total bypass of the TSA system (shell out another couple Ryans and you can buy Clear, and jump to the front of the line of people who’ve paid to jump to the front of the line) (give it a year and I’m sure you’ll be able to pay for “Clearer,” the service that lets you jump ahead of the Clear people who are jumping ahead of the Precheck people who are jumping ahead of the Priority people).”

Class Warfare

“‘I’m going to work until I die, if I can, because I need the money,’ said Dever, 74, who drove 1,400 miles to this Maine campground from his home in Indiana to take a temporary job that pays $10 an hour” [WaPo]. And that’s before the Democrats sign off on a new Grand Bargain.

“Why Is New York Full of Empty Stores?” [New York Times]. “[A] scourge of store closings that afflicts one section of the city after another, notably in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. This plague has been underway for several years, but its familiarity does not diminish the damage inflicted on the economic and the psychic well-being of neighborhoods. One by one, cherished local shops are disappearing, replaced by national chains or, worse, nothing at all.” Interesting, the article doesn’t really answer the question in the headline.

“A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold: the Meethotamulla disaster” [Cable]. “Meethotamulla was manmade. Not even in a fiercely religious country like Sri Lanka has anyone tried to claim it was an Act of God. It was, by every measureable criteria, a disaster predicted to happen, and none of the responsible authorities could claim they were unaware or even taken by surprise. There are parallels with the Aberfan disaster in the coalfields of South Wales but with one fundamental difference: the residents had not just warned of impending disaster; they had filed a human rights case against the Colombo municipal council at the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. The Court had instructed the local council to stop dumping garbage on the site and required compliance within a two-year period, limiting the garbage dump to two acres of waste. Despite all of that, the rotten garbage kept piling up, until it was an Everest of festering waste, teetering high in the air and sitting uneasily like an avalanche waiting to fall. And then the rains came.”

“Sophia, the world’s first robot citizen, wants a baby” [ABC 13].

News of the Wired

“CHEESE STAR NEWS (Seoul Train): The North Korean Happy People’s Fun Republic Of Chuckles announced that now, Kim JongJong, Terror of the East, will consume his own body weight in doughnuts each day for the love of his People” [Before Nine]. Small blogs out there, punching away, even as the ISPs try to kill them in favor of Facebook.

“Reverse engineering YouTube demonetization algorithm” (Google Docs) [KarlaPlan]. From the abstract:

We examine the relation between a youtube video’s monetisation status and their algorithm promotion. We used youtube’s official “DATA API v3” to get the top 25 related videos for 100k videos. This is equivalent to the related videos that you see on the right side when watching a video. We then scraped the related videos for information relating to monetisation status, views, etc. The corpus containing information of the scraped videos were then analysed in detail. According to our analysis Youtube is systematically suppressing content that have limited monetisation or have been completely demonetised. This will in turn lead to censorship of political ideologies, HTBQ+, mental health awareness, suicide awareness and prevention, etc.

(HTBQ+ seems to be a typo for HBTQ.) Readers, the methodology?

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (CR):

From Cleveland, OH.

* * *

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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. Arizona Slim

    Show of hands: Does anyone still attend any groups organized via Meetup.com? I’m getting the impression that a lot of people used to, but then they drifted away from the groups and found other things to do.

    Which is a roundabout way of saying that I think WeWork just bought a has-been.

    1. RUKidding

      I don’t even know about WeWork, but I am very active, as are a lot of other locals, in our hiking/outdoors meetup groups in the two places, where I live in CA. In fact, MeetUp, for me, has been a boon. Used to be we had to advertise Sierra Club hikes months in advance (and commit to leading them months in advance) in old school newsletters that got sent out by snail mail.

      So, the MeetUps I attend are very lively and very much active.

      I can’t speak for other MeetUps, of which there are many of all types of activities (eg, Book clubs, dancing, travel, general socializing, etc.).

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I mostly check Facebook Events. Theres a ton or Orgs out there protesting Almost everything in Nola.

    3. Darius

      DC DSA uses Meetup. Works for me. I have a Facebook page but I go to it about five times a year. Only when I have to for some reason.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      The Italian political organization Movimento Cinque Stelle used Meetup extensively for a while, although I haven’t got an invite in about three years.

    5. Jason Boxman

      At least here in Boston, I find the 20s and 30s scene is mostly dead. I was in a dozen groups at one point, but it’s all the same people carpet bombing the exact same event. And it’s usually the same lame thing every couple of weeks. Useless.

      Maybe it’s just Boston. In Orlando and Sarasota and Nashville the Meetup scene for 20s and 30s was far more vibrant and active. And Sarasota is a retirement community!

      I do wonder who is paying $100-whatever a year for these different groups, only to be inactive and let assistant organizations carpet bomb the same stuff in 10 groups. Strange.

    6. ABasLesAristocrates

      In my previous city, I attended a weekly language exchange organized on Meetup. I do not know how I would have found it otherwise. In my new city, I am/was planning to do the same. Hopefully whatever crapification program WeWork plans to embark upon will not prevent that. I don’t have Facebook, nor am I willing to reactivate it.

      Meetup is very popular in South Korea, where a traditional emphasis on family-arranged friendships has made it difficult for young people who’ve moved away from home to meet anyone.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Youtube is systematically suppressing content that have limited monetisation or have been completely demonetised.

    Youtube is owned by Alphabet, the corporate parent of Google. Here’s some fresh Google crapification:

    As part of the overhaul to Finance, Google is eliminating several features. Portfolios, the ability to download them and historical tables are among those to go, the blog post said.

    The company informed Finance users of the change to portfolios in September and gave them until “mid-November” to download portfolio data.

    Some investors don’t believe the changes will be helpful, and have instead moved their portfolios to competitors like Verizon’s Yahoo Finance.


    Historical data is vital. Otherwise Google Finance is just a quote service, and not a very good one.

    A few days ago I downloaded some daily mutual fund prices from Yahoo Finance that start in 1981. Ain’t gonna find such ancient lore on Google, which increasingly exists in the “eternal now” with history erased.

    1. JBird

      Riffing off your comment, Google started as an American company, and we Americans as a society, seem to live without a past. It like we unconsciously obliterate our memories so even the Cold War is an ancient, distant thing, which makes learning as a nation impossible. Whereas too many societies seem to live in the past, they cannot forget, which makes change impossible. The Unlearning meeting the Unchanging.

      1. Summer

        “Google started as an American company, and we Americans as a society, seem to live without a past…”

        True. This country has been referred to as the United States of Amnesia, but maybe it’s not that simple.
        “An estimated 37 percent of the workforce in Silicon Valley is foreign-born, according to the think tank Joint Venture…”
        And what if the countries they come from are already places where regulations are lax and inequality even higher?

    2. epynonymous

      I watch alot of tv tshow breakdowns and criticisms. They’ve found that a ‘podcast’ format that frequently switches pictures in the backgrounds (say, screen grabs from the show they’re critiquing… which is a legally protected and valid use of copyright material) will get flagged.

      So, a dull static image is safer for monetization.

      Many streamers (of videogames) have been finding their old products being de-monetized, even with the game producer’s explicit consent and/or support.

      Youtube is a train wreck… RIP to Vine. BTW, Twitch is an Amazon product.

    3. ABasLesAristocrates

      Finance is probably the only part of Google that was never superior to Yahoo. I used to check Google from time to time to see whether they’d come around, but they never got there. I assume they’ll be de-emphasizing it as anything but an interface for the stock quotes that come through Google Now.

  3. Vatch

    “A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold: the Meethotamulla disaster” [Cable]

    Grim. I didn’t learn of this disaster until today, even though it happened in April, 2017,. More from the article:

    In a country wearily accustomed to both tragedy and atrocity after decades of civil war, the death of 32 people in the disaster at Meethotamulla . . .
    . . .
    As the sludge slid down, contaminated waters flooded homes and over 1,200 people were displaced. The memories of the families of the bereaved and those that only barely survived are shaded with recrimination. Their running water was near-poisonous, hundreds of school children in the area had complained of skin diseases, and mosquitoes had infested many homes. Although Sri Lanka is now technically free of malaria, Dengue fever was rife in the homes surrounding Meethotamulla.
    . . .
    Meethotamulla has joined a global network of slum-dumps. In the Philippines, Smokey Mountain is one of Manila’s most impoverished slums and home to the largest dumpsite where over 25,000 people pick up garbage for a living. The Gramacho dump, once one of the biggest landfills in Latin America, exists beneath the feeding grounds of flocks of vulture: black, hovering , and ominous. All three are being replaced or re-imagined but progress is slow and human waste seemingly relentless.

      1. Vatch

        Good question. Maybe they would convert to recycling on a very large scale. I’m not sure what one would do with the existing mountains of garbage. I don’t think that covering them with soil would make it possible for people to ski down the mountains when it snows. Last time I checked, the snow season in Sri Lanka and the Philippines was rather short!

        1. Oregoncharles

          If sealed, they produce significant volumes of natural gas. There’s one in Ohio that famously sells the gas; the dump here collects it and sells the electricity it generates.

          Of course, that doesn’t get rid of the mountain, and makes it even more noxious to reopen and process.

          I assume our descendants in the fairly near future will mine the dumps and wonder what the heck was wrong with us.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Look to “brownfields redevelopment” in the US for “reimagining.” Lots of dumps being turned into golf courses. Locally, one mostly “closed” dump (still generating lots of leachate and methane and other gasses, which muni landfills do for generations, was seriously considered as the place to build the carpetbagger owners of the Tampa Bay Rays a new billion-dollar stadium. And Florida Rock brags about “returning” the many wetlands destroyed by phosphate mining to “natural condition.” wink wink nudge nudge… Waste ponds and piles of processing castoffs, not so much.

          It’s a big business are now, consultants galore, regulatory capture, the whole shooting match. http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1152&context=usp_murp

          And note that one of the salient features of these projects is often either offloading liabilities for the impacts of extraction and production externalities onto successor shell corporations, or extinguishing them with a flood of money from the public purse.

  4. clarky90

    Dawn Chorus by Marcus Coates

    Interview with Marcus Coates in which he talks about his relationship to birdsong, the digital processes behind Dawn Chorus and the relationship between the work and the space at Fabrica.


    Marcus Coates records bird song and then, slows it down (x20). He then sang the slowed down bird song and recorded it. When he sped his recorded voice up (x20), he sounded just like the original bird!

    If you love birds, and the songs they sing every morning…

    1. clinical wasteman

      would love to hear him do that with the sounds made by the Tui [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk02PJBUODE] or the Kereru (or, the Bellbird, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard it first-hand), but perhaps he’d have to be an accomplished throat-singer or at least a spectralist composer [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InMIFBwsU5g].
      Astonishing birdsound is one thing I definitely do miss about Te-Ika-A-Maui/North Island of NZ.

      1. clarky90

        You are right CW, the birdsong in NZ is beautiful. Can you imagine what it would have sounded like before humans arrived?

        I have a starling that sneaks into my house and hops around! my bird friend

  5. Bugs Bunny

    What a beautiful tree.

    Thank you for that. In France it’s raining, sleeting and awful. That said, the oyster eating season is upon us and I’ll get with that.

    Shouldn’t either the Links or the Water Cooler have a “Sexual Harassment Inquisition” rubric? Asking for a friend.

    1. Carla

      Glad you like the tree, Bugs. It is one of thousands of gorgeous specimens in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland, OH. The cemetery contains the Garfield Monument, with the crypts of President James A. Garfield and his wife. My dear parents and maternal grandparents are buried at Lakeview as well.

          1. Oregoncharles

            For future reference, it’s safer when posting an email publicly to disguise it following Lambert’s example up above – put in spaces and spell out the punctuation. That way computers can’t collect it, but people can.

      1. Wukchumni

        The Garfield Grove of giant sequoia trees-named after the late president-not the cat, is here in Sequoia NP…

        If you ever wanted an entire grove of brobdingnagians to yourself, this is the one to visit. You have to hike about 7 miles and 3,000 feet altitude gain to get to the heart of the matter, and this grove is all hilly, so when looking up @ trees from below, they seem even larger than they are-thanks to the angle illusion, as if they need supersizing.

          1. Wukchumni

            Looks interesting~

            I tend to be enamored more with the Sierra sequoia, than the coastal redwoods, not that they aren’t both stunning, but more along the lines of proximity, and i’m surrounded by the biggins’ here, and the big difference between the 2 trees, is sequoia trees here tend to crowd out smaller trees of other species as they can’t get sunlight, so the ground around is often empty, whereas with the ones on the coast, you’re constantly in lush rain forest, and its harder to approach them.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Fantastic, thanks for the introduction to a Cleveland sight. Now I’ll have a destination next time I get over there. My sister was living there for a while but as it is she moved on quickly.

        1. Objective Function

          From Bath, ME out to Denver, the rusting cities of the late 19th century American industrial heartland offer amazing glimpses of what was once an incredible engine of wealth, mobility and (with many blemishes, lol) social cohesion.

          Some of my own favorites: Hartford, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cincinnati (“Porkopolis”), Milwaukee, Quad Cities, Kansas City.

          Extending remarks, I’ve noticed that NC has provided a welcome sanctuary to some small C (Burkean) conservatives, who find far more intellectual kinship with ‘old school’ social democrats and trade unionists than to the rabid social justice witch hunters and apatrid corporate shills that now own the ‘mainstream’ political system.

          At core, we here all seem to believe strongly in a social contract at the root of human prosperity and justice, which the others have either dismissed as evil (‘privilege’) or hollowed out into a plaything to find loopholes in to further their own greed and self-gratification. Or both.

      3. mle detroit

        My great-grandfather bought a lot in Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont. My dad is buried there because he knew he’d be visited by his descendants (he is), since it’s a lovely place for a picnic.

  6. L

    This is just my opinion but… As I read the (new but basically consistent) comments about Pai I was thinking that it reminded me a lot of both neoliberalism generally and what I hear from older voters (bear with me on this). It also reminds me a lot of the tax debate.

    In the abstract a free market makes some sense just like lowering taxes can make sense. In, as the piece notes, a vibrant competitive market with few barriers to entry there is always someone to take the place of any unpopular company. But in the market we have where most Americans have one or at most two alternatives and where the cost of laying new cable is very high there is no alternative and deregulation sucks rotten eggs. Similarly in an equal economy where rising tides do lift all boats then a broad-based tax cut will stimulate the market. But in the economy we have…. no.

    In effect the argument Pai, and the Republican tax gutters are putting forward is that we should regulate broadly from the world that we wish we lived in (what Karl Popper might have classified as Utopian Social Engineering) rather than make incremental improvements to the world that we have. Thus they are violating the central constraint of realistic conservatives and refusing to work from reality.

    This is why, I think, they do not get how bad their arguments sound. And it is why so many of my discussion with older voters (D’s and R’s) reach a sort of a stalemate. Their premises come off as being based in a world that does not exist anympore or, in Pai’s case, never will. At that point we are stuck arguing about the contours of reality or, in Pai’s case, wondering just how far gone someone can be.

    1. shinola

      Do you really think Pai et al actually believe the crap they’re espousing?

      They can’t just come out & say “We’re pushing for a corporate plutocracy and that whole ‘government for the people, by the people’ thing is just so inconvenient.”

      I keep waiting for someone in the MSM to point out that Trump’s tax “reform” plan is of great benefit to… the Trump family! (not to mention the numerous millionaires in the house & senate and their donor class).

      There is an art to making the whole “Who are ya gonna believe – me or your lyin’ eyes?” shtick work.

      (And this is coming fro a geezer)

      1. L

        Well to take your point I am not sure if Pai believes in anything other than Comcast but I do think it interesting that they cannot even come up with better excuses. Occasionally some of them even do admit to the game plan in one form or another. Rubio, for example, just admitted that the deficits in the tax bill are deliberate and are part of a drive to cut Medicare and Social Security (see here).

        As to the MSM pointing out that Trump will benefit, yes it has been done:
        9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself. See also: How the Republican tax bill benefits the rich, according to government analysis. And that’s from a paper owned by Jeff Bezos!

        As to the art, I agree but the catch is that unless the huckster keeps in mind that he is a huckster and argues what is believable, not what he actually thinks, the whole thing falls apart.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I think my previous comments are too obtuse. The document Pai — a clown who needs no makeup — is pushing through the FCC ends much more than Net Netrality. Through endless definitions and footnotes — Pai’s FCC is saying that regulation of the Internet is NOT their problem. The FCC-CIRC1712-04 says in 210 pages that the FCC believes it has no mandate to regulate the Internet. It also references several odious “economic” studies suggesting the greater “efficiency” which will accrue by allowing charges — AT BOTH ENDS OF THE INTERNET — both to users and on the content and application providers sides to satisfy regulation by the Market. This amounts to a declaration of war — Verizon and Comcast versus Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Sites like NakedCapitalism will be collateral damage — roadkill on the super-highway. They can be hit from BOTH sides of the Internet pipe — as a content provider forced to pay ridiculous access fees and as content blocked from their users by ridiculous access fees.

  7. Deadl E Cheese

    I do support impeachment as a supplemental strategy. Mostly because Trump right now is the glue holding the elite and non-elite factions of the GOP together and dissolving that glue would cause that party to disjoin quicker. Imagine what would have happened to the Democrats had Obama been removed in 2010 and replaced with Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. We’d probably be watching Jill Stein kick back in the Oval Office.

    But as an end in of itself rather than simply another useful weapon in the arsenal of anti-reactionaries? Nah. I saw you useless barnacles try to rehabilitate George W. Bush. You guys just want to go back to the days in which Democrats didn’t have to deliver on anything to stay a functional opposition party and thus get those sweet, sweet post-career lobbying/consulting contracts.

  8. Bill

    Maybe it’s time to get to the point of the recent sexual harassment allegation spurt:

    Here’s another voice from the past regarding sexual harassment by a president:

    A judge later dismissed Jones’s case, saying Clinton’s alleged behavior, while “boorish and offensive”, did not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment.
    In her op-ed, Steinem was even more generous toward Clinton.
    “Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection,” Steinem wrote, adding “there appears to be little evidence” of Jones suffering psychological damage.
    Steinem’s thinking on Jones and her accusations seems unchanged today.
    Asked if Jones’s accusation amounted to something other than a “free will” encounter, Steinem replied, “Paula Jones, in spite of all the pressures on her, said very clearly, ‘He said to me, I wouldn’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.’ That was part of her testimony.
    “The problem at the time was, the sexual harassment law was in danger,” she said. “If Clinton had resigned, that would have endangered the law.”


    But Steinem said she did not regret writing the New York Times article in the first place.
    “We have to believe women. I wouldn’t write the same thing now because there’s probably more known about other women now. I’m not sure,” she said on the red carpet of an annual comedy benefit for the Ms Foundation for Women, of which she is a founder.
    “What you write in one decade you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade.”

    I don’t think we should be taking counsel from Rubin or Steinem in terms of how to proceed in matters of sexual harassment that are not in the realm of commentary.

  9. Tim

    Satire on the Tax Reform from the Chicago Tribune:

    An excerpt:
    That’s because Republicans are wisely making tax cuts for big businesses permanent and then paying for that by letting tax cuts for human beings who don’t bathe in money expire. (Republican lawmakers are always right and moral — I know because they say so — and I’m sure this is exactly how Jesus would help the poor if his saviorship had been reliant on wealthy donors.)

  10. Lee

    The women’s movement had split into two camps: a less audible and less visible sexual-liberationist wing and a dominant wing that was highly, militantly suspicious of sex. The latter wing strove to tame and defang sex so that it would not contain even a hint of power.” Let me know how that works out.

    The link reads:

    With his venom
    and bittersweet

    that loosener
    of limbs, Love

    strikes me down

    tr. Barnard

    Remove power from sex? I’m with Sappho, D.H. Lawrence, Anais Nin, Henry Miller et al: for good or ill it’s a goddamned superpower.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Sex is subversive.

      I thought her description of the “two wings” very odd. As far as I could see, the anti-sexual wing was never really that strong, nor very feminist, but it did give conservatives all the ammunition they could wish for. I think it’s largely responsible for the decayed state of the women’s movement – until very recently, at least. Another generation has matured.

  11. JBird

    This is why, I think, they do not get how bad their arguments sound. And it is why so many of my discussion with older voters (D’s and R’s) reach a sort of a stalemate. Their premises come off as being based in a world that does not exist anympore or, in Pai’s case, never will. At that point we are stuck arguing about the contours of reality or, in Pai’s case, wondering just how far gone someone can be.

    I have noticed that. Worse, I have run into manufactured history, a false history that matches what they want to believe, which has been become more common.

    Have you ever run into people who deny Nixon’s Southern Strategy, or more insanely, that believe that the political parties have not changed so that Democratic Party of today is the same Democratic Party of the Civil War, of Jim Crow, and the Republican Party of today is the same as Lincoln’s. Similar insanity comes from Holocaust Denialism, or the the denial of the Holodomor, or the Armenian Genocide, although the last two are governments’ mult-decade campaigns to deny what they have done. Global Warming/Climate Change too.

    I can bring up the countless books, interviews, documents, and it still doesn’t matter. On the Parties’ political switch, there are plenty of people who remember, and, or participated alive. I could ask my older relatives. But it don’t matter to them. The falsehoods have inoculated their minds too completely, I guess.

    Getting directly back to what you have said, there have been well funded efforts to create propaganda that denies reality, that denies the past and the present. As people act from what they believe not from what is, or was, by changing their beliefs means changing their actions, even controlling them. Reality doesn’t go away though. You can deny all you want by creating a false past and present, but it will get you eventually like in sea rise, or increasing poverty leading to war. Until that eventuality occurs and whacks us all upside the head they can hide in their fantasies, but we all suffer the crash.

    1. Vatch

      I’ve encountered several, but not all, of those denialisms. Another one that I have encountered frequently is overpopulation denialism. The Earth is big; there aren’t too many people, there are just problems of resource distribution, etc. There are religions and political ideologies that heavily depend on overpopulation denialism, frequently as a way to control women. Reason and evidence rarely convince denialists (of any variety). As you say, eventually reality will catch up with us and overtake us.

      1. Darius

        It is presumptuous to think that humans have the power to alter God’s creation. Only God can do that. Now, the passenger pigeon or the Carolina parakeet, those are different. They were only species. Or something.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe I understand the base of your comment. However — taking your assertion “… the political parties have not changed so that Democratic Party of today is the same Democratic Party of the Civil War, of Jim Crow, and the Republican Party of today is the same as Lincoln’s.” — my own initial response is to question your assertion and regard it as simplistic and not helpful to further discussion. Without delving further — can you with straight face assert that today’s Republican Party is the party of Lincoln? [I won’t touch the Democratic Party — the cooties are bigger than I am.]

      Coming at the heart of your comment — I think you are saying Pai is “disingenuous” to put matters “nicely”. I don’t think Pai believes in anything except what serves his gain. Like so many in our government he has been bought and owned by — NOT US.

      The second portion of your comment is much more difficult to address. Most simply put I believe facts and rational arguments have little sway over people. People believe what is comfortable to believe. I reached that conclusion long ago trying to convince people in my locale that Climate Disruption was real. Some things are too horrible to accept regardless of the facts and regardless of any other appeals allowed by otherwise effective rhetoric. And sad to say it’s been my experience that seeing is not always believing.

  12. WJ

    I do believe there is such a thing as rape culture, and I do believe that many, many more women suffer sexual harassment or assault during the course of their lives than most of us are likely initially to think. These things need to be changed. Full stop.

    I also believe that the recent spate of sexual assault and harassment accusations is culturally and socially informative in at least two ways.

    1. There is a tendency in casual conversation and analysis to run together serial violent offenders like Weinstein with (assumptively) one-time non-violent harassers like Keillor.

    2. There is a tendency toward accepting the presumptive guilt of the accused leading to their being immediately punished economically, academically, and socially prior to the determinations of any formal legal process.

    These features are, to me, broadly analogous to the way that “terrorists” who kill civilians to influence politics are now routinely conflated with “terrorists” who protest private corporations constructing oil pipelines on public land with “terrorists” who rescue pigs from factory farms and with “terrorists” who report on the Israeli occupation of Gaza and Golan, etc. Because these kinds of people are all said to be “terrorists,” they are all people who have forfeited their rights to trial by due process, and they can and should be punished in advance or apart from any formal legal trial being undertaken at all.

    The social-cultural logic of “sexual assaulter” therefore seems to me to run parallel to the social-cultural logic of “terrorist”. Is this incorrect? If so, how? If not, what does it tell us about the importance and function of both kinds of accusations in our broader contemporary social order?

    1. Adrienne

      Yeah, unfortunately a lot of the outrage over sexual assault & harassment is largely virtue-signalling. Punish a few high-profile offenders in a punitive and public way, then let the whole thing die down without any effort to change the culture.

      I don’t know a single woman who has not been harassed or assaulted in some way in their life. We learn to deal with it, minimize it, and internalize the trauma it causes. It’s part of being female in a patriarchal world, and changing misogyny and male entitlement will require truly massive cultural change in the way ALL males are raised and encultured.

      I’ll belive that anything will change once men start stepping up BEFORE they are accused and outed. If the soul-searching and confessing only happens after you’re caught it’s pretty much just self-serving BS.

    2. ABasLesAristocrates

      When you abuse your power for…what’s it been now, centuries? millennia?…the blowback, when it comes, is likely to be excessive. The presumption of guilt, while I understand why it’s concerning, is compensating for the “what was she wearing?” “how many sexual partners has she had in her life?” “was she asking for it?” nonsense that women have been putting up with for far too long.

      I have said this before, and I will likely have to say it again: sexual assault is the only crime about which the victim is presumed by the police, the courts, and the public to be lying not only about who did it, but whether the crime even took place. Nobody looks at the busted lock on your front door and asks you whether it was really a burglary or just a misunderstanding.

      1. jgordon

        Here is an inconvenient fact that will cause a significant amount of cognitive dissonance and will take some effort to rationalize away: find out how many of these vocal accusers ever filed a police report.

        Yes, these women usually have a past history of mental health issues, political hackery, or bearing false witness in the past. But all that can be safely ignored if we just go by whether or not they filed a police report and thus opened themselves up to actual investigation by competent authorities.

    3. jgordon

      As a transgendered woman and intersectional feminist myself, I feel that I have some unique and valuable insights into rape culture and assault.

      You mentioned the overuse of the word “terrorism” but I don’t think you clearly drew the parallel to the overuse of other triggering words and the detrimental impact that has on society and our cause. Us feminists like to use words like rape culture and sexual assault because they sound scary and get results. However using them to describe every infraction, no matter how minor or imagined, has the unintended affect of desensitizing people to these words, and perhaps even of desensitizing people to hearing about actual serious assaults.

      As an unhappy consequence, soon us feminists may be forced to come up with new words for when rape or assaults really happen. Maybe Realrape? Realassault? Admittedly those don’t have quite the oomph the old words had, but if we don’t come up with something good soon we won’t be able to derail any more Republican election campaigns and that would be a tragedy.

      As for assuming guilt when accusations are made? Well, that’s easy. If the accusers never filed a police report then they are nothing but attention-seekers and should not be believed. I stop thinking about the matter there. You all should do the same.

  13. Michael Fiorillo

    “Great. A Hollywood comedian shouting in church. That should go over well.”

    Exactly: that’s why Pussy Riot is a true group of Freedom Fighters.

    Oh, wait…

    1. Bugs Bunny

      But they’re young women which means they’re oppressed anti patriarchy warriors. Unlike the young men who do it just for the page views.

      1. JBird

        The Russian government did overreact a little bit. What Pussy Riot did was disrespectful attention seeking BS. At the end of their trial, I was on the band’s side because of the Russian hysterics.

  14. Enquiring Mind

    There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over, as we used to say in the print shop.

    I grew up with a variation on the above and, in continuing that tradition of decrying the decline of civilization, from Classical Times forward, I propose an update: Why bother doing it over again when the audience is becoming increasingly illiterate? ;p

  15. L

    Update: The Joint Committee on Taxation has released its dynamic analysis of the current Senate bill (current as of a day or so ago). See here

    The top tier number is $407 billion in new revenue due to more people ‘choosing’ to work. $1.4 trillion in costs due to the cuts. Not clear yet to me if this violates the existing Senate rules or not.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Well, that escalated quickly — yesterday’s Dow Theory buy signal, that is, when the Industrials and Transports hit twin record highs.

    Follow-through was stellar, with the Industrials adding 1.39% today while the Trannies gained 1.97%, making a three-day rise of over 7 percent. Twenty stocks make up the DJTA; all of them rose over the past three days.

    MSCI’s All Country World Index finished today with its 13th straight monthly gain, a first in its 30-year history. Bubble III is global, which is why its eventual demise will be rather devastating. But for now, the party below the rumbling volcano is going strong.

    *tips the bartender .001 Bitcoin*

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s not my personal experience, but you get consumer confidence, new home sales and the Dow Theory all going great.

      I don’t see how, though. Is it due to fake stats, or am I not experiencing what many are?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Stats represent collective experiences, not individual ones which exhibit much more dispersion. Equity ownership tilts toward the affluent. If you’re Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, you’re feelin’ fine.

        In turn, the fortunes of the Tech Lords help to set the social mood. For all of his failures as a market analyst, permabear Robert Prechter (a psych major in college) remains an acute observer of the social mood:

        The increasingly positive trend in social mood over the past eight years has been manifesting in rising stock and property prices, expanding credit, buoyant pop music, lots of animated fairy tales and adventure movies, suppression of scandals, an improving economy and — despite much [contrary] opinion — fairly moderate politics. This trend isn’t quite over yet.

        In the next wave of negative mood, we should see the opposite: declining stock and property prices, contracting debt, angry and somber music, more intense horror movies, eruption of scandals, a contracting economy and political upheaval. That’s been the pattern of history.

        Here in 2017, even the Dow/PPI is at an all-time high. I chalk it all up to Grand-Supercycle-degree optimism. That’s why we have record credit expansion, too, along with cooperation among members of the Federal Reserve Board and political support for the Fed. All that will change when mood turns negative.


        Grim! But not just yet. Today we party in Wave V of 5 of v, for tomorrow we die. :-)

      2. jsn

        The economy is great and getting greater for those great people for whom it’s great, the rest of us are just here to pay their tab when it all blows up. I wonder if we will again?

        1. JTMcPhee

          TINA, maybe? If we are still alive? All the mopes who have worked their backsides off creating actual real wealth to fill in the huge hole blown by the FIRE people — one hopes more and more of it is going off the grid, to where people working in local entities can figure out survivable structures and arrangements, “going forward.”

          Not very optimistic about that happening — given how many humans with the FIRE-variant inherent wiring and limited chance for socialization or “rehabilitation” as decent, kind, caring people… Not enough of those of us who are already here are equipped and working to at least soften the ground where the crash will occur…

          I was on the Washington State Bar’s Corrections Committee for a year or two. One of the presentations given to that group was by a psych professional who pointed out that whether petty criminals or corporate looters, using the word ‘REhabilitation” was vastly incorrect — her take was that so many of those actually caught and convicted were never ‘habilitated’ in the first instance, so “REhabilitation” was at best incorrect usage. Though she conceded that the word did apply accurately to a “not insignificant” number of inmates.

  17. Adrienne

    The Ars story on the Tesla battery makes the same omissions that most articles about this story do. The battery bank is not designed to “power the grid when the wind isn’t blowing,” it’s there primarily to provide frequency control. When South Australia shut down their last coal-fired power plant they lost a very large source of spinning reserve, and now the system is quite vulnerable to any pertubations in supply. A lot of people don’t realize that the grid is actually one big machine in which all parts much work in concert. The 50 or 60 cycle grid frequency is created by the generators themselves, and intermittent generators like wind turbines aren’t reliable sources of frequency so the batteries are needed to help the wind plant maintain grid stability.

    The 129MWh battery bank only holds enough juice for a few minutes’ demand. It’s not gonna “power the grid” except in very short bursts for emergency stabilization.


  18. Alex V

    “Finding Meaning in Forgotten America” made me think of Studs Terkel (not because of the quality of the piece, but the subject). I think “Working” is one of the most important books I’ve ever read and sets the standard for the genre.

    1. Wukchumni

      You should check out the Canadian Studs Terkel, Barry Broadfoot.

      His “Ten Lost Years” & “Six War Years” are chock full of oral history, and in my opinion, Broadfoot hit a much richer vein. Each vignette is a page to 5 pages long.

  19. Summer

    RE: “Why Is New York Full of Empty Stores?” [New York Times].

    Roughly 3 years ago, all was grand in NYC, with all kinds of “scenes” mixing it up according to the NY Times:
    But it looks like the Times finally read some of the comments to that article from 3 years ago and discovered this week’s story:

    jon greene
    brooklyn, ny April 13, 2014
    “..those of us who live in NYC know the real estate section constitutes a pulp-journalism world of its own making, but THIS is the times real estate section at its worst….
    “…face it, manhattan is sterile and dead because money killed it. it has no character. long gone are the local shops and restaurants that once made it vital. all that is left are chain stores, tourist places, or super high end places for the 1%-ers. is it any wonder that people look across the river to a boro with space, trees, and locally-owned businesses?…”

    Brooklyn April 12, 2014
    OK the other thing that the NYTimes and other media outlets forget is that the problem with NY right now is NOT hipsters, but the clone-ification of NY. NY is now safe for corporate drones who live in condos and want to shop out of box stores that are just the same as the stores and condos in the last place they were “stationed.” And there is a new kind of international new rich who want to shop in the same kind of store no matter where they go– so a generic Hermes or Chanel store is much better than some fabulous exclusive boutique. We focus on “hipsters” –we can get angry at them, instead of the corporate culture that is really cheapening NY

    1. Seth A Miller

      New York is full of empty stores because of how the real estate market really works. Buildings are valued at a multiple of the rent roll. Leasing a store freezes a large part of the value of the building in place, and “commits” to a number well below the insane aspirational and speculative number most owners in gentrifying neighborhoods have in mind for their buildings. With an empty store a building can still be bought and sold, and, critically, refinanced by the banks, at the speculative higher value that is commanded by the fictional rent that the owner wishes it could get (and tells the bank it can get) for the empty space.

      These are speculators, people. They are not in the business of making money renting commercial storefronts. They are in the business of profiting off of buying and selling buildings. In fact they “need” the higher values to cover the speculative loans that allowed them to buy these buildings in the first place. Those loans were sure as hell not based on existing rent rolls, but, instead, aspirational rent rolls that assume that the poor, rent controlled residential tenants, and the mom and pop stores, would be kicked out. See, for example, the bankruptcies at Stuyvesant Town and the Riverton, both because of the “optimistic” assumption on the part of speculators, that regulated tenants would just go away.

      Remember all the thorough explanations of private equity that shocked people when Mitt Romney ran for president? Buying companies only to max out debt, strip the assets, pocket the debt and assets, and declare bankruptcy? New York real estate works the same way. It’s about stripping a building’s assets: keeping a storefront vacant while pocketing its paper “value” is exactly what’s going on here.

      The answer is (1) a ban on speculative loans, that value the building at more than the existing rent roll can support (and that don’t count vacant space as having a rent roll of zero); (2) universal rent control and rent stabilization, without the horrible exceptions that have arising in California and New York (e.g. vacancy decontrol); (3) using taxpayer money to build (not subsidize) massive quantities of affordable housing that is not (or not only and all) means tested, and (4) stronger enforcement, such as by expanding private rights of action for regulations that are now enforced only by the government, making building management a licensed profession, and other mundane enforcement mechanisms.

      1. jsn

        This is the “sticky wages” of REITs: like someone who is asked to take a pay cut but looks for another job instead because other commitments, like the rent, insurance or tuition require the previous higher income.

        As long as the loans can be rolled over, the commerce killing fiction of insane rents is sustained, and everyone with even a tiny slice of exposure wants to believe.

        With every basis point more air starts leaking out…

      2. Summer

        “These are speculators, people. They are not in the business of making money renting commercial storefronts. They are in the business of profiting off of buying and selling buildings…”

        That explanation makes sense. The housing crash showed that banks weren’t in the the single family home lending business as much as the loan creation business to create financial products. Why should it be any different with commercial property….

  20. ewmayer

    “The Bezzle: “Build fast, fix later: speed hurts quality at Tesla, some workers say” [Reuters].” — A.k.a. “arrogant Silicon Valley software techno-weenies discover that their inane mantra ‘move fast and break things’ doesn’t work on an assembly line for real goods.” But I’m sure there’s an algorithmic fix for it!

    Aside: another day, another webpage rendered poorly responsive by Youtube bloatware. I do so love waiting for all that video-playback-crapware to load, even when I have no intention of watching the videos. (A problem which is easily solved, but I already posted the relevant link on several occasions, to the sounds of crickets chirping.)

    1. ABasLesAristocrates

      It doesn’t work in software, either. At least not when the implicit corollary “and then fix what you broke and learn from it” is ignored as not sexy enough. If I had a nickel for every time my workflow has been disrupted by broken software, I’d have a ticket out of the working class.

  21. Amfortas the Hippie

    it’ll be like Chafee or Webb(yes, I had to look their names up, just to be sure)
    Reckon it’s undeniable, now, that the demparty(at least it’s bigwigs) are irredeemable, and perfidious to the bone(finds himself shocked that they even have bones)
    what’s a radical hippieish liberalprogressivedemocraticsocialist with an anarchist streak to do in the big middle of nowhere Texas?
    on this taxnado being rushed through the sausage maker:
    it looks horrible enough to me, if only theoretically.(I’ve been poor enough in my life that I’ve only paid federal income taxes once)
    what I wonder is what will it do…if anything…to the Earned Income Tax Credit?
    That happens to be the ONLY thing I ever agreed with Milton Freidman about, and I’d hate to see it go. But I can’t find anything about it’s inclusion or not in the current shenanigans.
    Finally, on the on the ongoing sexobsession in Demland(what? they just discovered that powerful men abuse their female underlings?) :
    the Dem Spaces I frequent in social media have a few threads about the Tax Thing, for instance…but those threads are quickly hijacked into hyperpuritain second wave feminist crazy by the Hillaryites.
    This fits in well with the couple-of-months-ago more scattershot eliminationism(I called them the “Kill Them All Threads” and saved them for future reference) regarding All Men, All White Folks and All Republican Voters.
    I didn’t stick around for the All Not-Gay-People-are-Evil thread.
    The Dem Party, and whatever “movement” or even Polity it used to represent, is toast.
    (see:Nina Turner interview in Links)
    Since the Primaries ended, I’ve been occasionally working on a big chunk of limestone in honor of Herself and Her Ilk and all they’ve done for/to my party over the last 30 years or so.
    I intend it to be a smaller version of this:https://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/560/media/images/49370000/jpg/_49370195_010266694-1.jpg

    It’s slated for right by the gate where the big bed of thyme is working.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Being an older person — cool challenged all my long life — I have some difficulty understanding your comment in its entirety. I also very much appreciate the value of an element of “poetry” in making comments. It helps limited words go further. DO NOT change your style! I like it! But please give what you write a second read with older less cool eyes — just to go easy on old farts like me who are interested in what you have to say.

      I’ll respond to the portion of your comment on the flap about powerful men abusing their female underlings. Like you I cannot believe anyone was unaware of the nexus between power, money and sex. Indeed — the sudden flare up makes me suspicious of something else going on we’re not supposed to notice.

      I also remember all the sexual harassment training sessions my firm made me sit through [while I was still employed, before I was nudged into retirement]. I often wondered [and wonder still] why so much emphasis was placed on women receiving unwanted harassment by their superiors and absolutely nothing was said about those women who deliberately seek to be “exploited” sexually by powerful men in a quid pro quo for advancement. As a non-powerful man abused and harassed — non-sexually, just plain old abuse of power — by powerful men over me I wondered why there was so little concern about women who deliberately advanced by using their ability to be exploited sexually by powerful men as a consequence of their attractiveness and who in any case seemed to find the power and wealth as strong aphrodisiacs in-and-of-themselves. To me this asymmetry seemed very unfair to non-powerful males like me [as long as the boses were hetero — my now deceased brother had a different experience in the theater when he tried to make Equity] and unfair to females who were less attractive — or had some sort of core morality. [I wish I could have met one of these moral sorts before I met and misjudged my now ex-wife.]

      It undermines faith [I never had] in the meritocracy of the workplace

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      One addendum — the Democratic Party is ripe for takeover. It is better connected into the state regulated ballot constraints on a party and could serve as a vehicle for building a second party to compete with the party of the Pig — the purple party.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I don’t know about previous attempts to take over the DNC — do you? i do believe 3rd parties don’t seem to work too well for American politics. I also believe that is by design based on my readings and understandings of the politics of 3rd parties in American politics.

  22. Westcoaster

    Thanks to whomever posted the hooktube.com link. I was not aware they existed and if enough of us switch it could put a big dent in you know who!

    1. Don Midwest USA

      Also a thanks for the hooktube.com link

      I spend a lot of time with the French polymath Bruno Latour. Searching for him yields 24 hits on one page and many are ’17, ’16, ’15 etc. There are many more recent videos

      Doing a youtube search on chrome yields 5 first page, 5 second page and 6 the third page. In other words It took over 2 searches to give as many links as google. True, there is more text on the youtube search, but I wasn’t looking for that.

      I had the same experience with a philosopher I follow, Graham Harman. Many videos come up on the first page and several of those I had not noticed before. I subscribe to his twitter account and to his blog and now I know that there are many presentations that he does not post.

      1. Hepativore

        As useful as HookTube is, all it does is access existing media libraries on YouTube. In order to truly “put a dent” in the leviathan that is Google, you would have to come up with a viable alternative to YouTube. Google’s internet and data dominance is nearly unstoppable. There is also the fact that Google can afford to negotiate a bandwidth prioritization deal with ISPs when the FCC destroys internet neutrality on December 14th. As much as Amazon, Facebook, and Google seem to pay lip service to the idea of “net neutrality”, they might find that they can get ISPs to throttle or block potential competitors or rivals on their behalf. If anything, the overturning of the Title II classification for the internet in the US might be doing them a massive favor in ensuring their e-commerce hegemony for the foreseeable future.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Re “A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold: the Meethotamulla disaster”
    Personally I would call the Aberfan disaster a far worse one. It killed 116 children and 28 adults which was virtually the entire generation of children in that village. The surviving children grew up with survivors guilt for years. The Aberfan Fund was set up and received donations from all over the world raising £1.75m – which was a massive amount back then – to help the survivors. The whole sorry episode of this disaster is a history of betrayal but what came next is enough make you want to punch walls.
    At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberfan_disaster look at the section marked Disaster fund. Reading it is bad enough but what came next is worse. About £150,000 was stolen from the disaster fund to pay for removing other coal piles as the National Coal Board didn’t want to pay for it all. It took thirty years to force them to pay this back. No allowance was made for inflation or the interest that would have been earned over the intervening period, which would have been £1.5 million in 1997. Finally, ten years ago the Welsh Government kicked in about two million but of course by then it was a pound short and a day late. Try the article at http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/how-people-aberfan-were-repeatedly-12025941 for a view of all this.

  24. knowbuddhau

    Submitted in the “Everything You Can Think of Is True” category:

    I sometimes go on about how technology isn’t a moral rectifier. Having more complex tech doesn’t makes us better people. It’s just an amplifier. If you give an ape a gun, he’s still an ape. Only now he’s got a gun.

    Well, here it is: a chimp with an AK-47.

    The way he raises the gun over his head at the end just slays me. Maybe Zeitgeist Watch?

  25. Darn

    Working until you die “And that’s before the Democrats sign off on a new Grand Bargain.” Shudder.

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