2:00PM Water Cooler 11/8/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


2016 Post Mortem

“Brazile: Clinton campaign was a ‘cult'” [The Hill]. I have to say, “We loved our candidate and each other” (from a letter by 216 Clinton staffers cited at NC here) sounds pretty love-bomb-ish, to me. I mean, all 216? Really? On a political campaign?


On “wave” elections: In a review of the candidate speeches at the 2016 Democratic Convention, I wrote:

I am with Sanders that “elections come and go.” Last night, a friend said to me things now remind them of flooding on the Missisippi or the Ohio, which were a regular news story in my childhood in the midwest; nightly reports of the height the water reached, the river “cresting,” having reached “flood stage,” and the volunteers with sandbags, and the decision about which towns to save, and which to abandon to the water. There is an enormous mass of water upstream now, and it’s heading downstream, toward us, and it is not in our power to stop it.

That is still my metaphor of choice. The neoliberal dispensation under which we have lived for the last forty years or so is melting, along (it seems) with America’s imperial power. The rising waters from that enormous melt — waters on which a “wave election” is but a ripple — have not crested, in my view; they’re nowhere near it.

This also means that I’m not all that concerned with party issues (though they’re important, and very fun). Even the worst centrist, after all, will be carried along by the floodwaters — or struggle and drown.

* * *

First the conventional wisdom on Virginia:

“The Anti-Trump Wave Has Come, and Republicans Can’t Stop It” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “To be sure, Virginia has unique demographic qualities that may have enhanced the power of the anti-Trump wave. It is a racially diverse state with a high proportion of college-educated voters. But there are many House Republicans from districts with similar demographic profiles — in New Jersey, New York, and California, among other places. The suburbs alone could offer up enough Republican defeats to flip the House in 2018.” In other words, Chuck Schumer’s strategy — “every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin” — is not only alive and well, it’s becoming centrist conventional wisdom. Go get those Romney voters!

“Together, it was the clearest sign yet that college-educated white voters’ unhappiness with President Trump would jeopardize suburban Republicans in next year’s midterm elections” [New York Times]. The conventional wisdom. Go get those Romney voters!

And not so conventional: “The Anti-Trump Tsunami of 2017” [Alice Marshall, Down with Tyranny]. From April 4, 2017. As I said above, I think “Anti-Trump Tsusami” is way too narrow a frame. That said, local mobilization seems to have been real (see below).

* * *

I apologize that what follows is a bit disjointed. I don’t think the story of 2017 is a NOVA story at all (although the Jeff Bezos Shopper, the local paper for NOVA, naturally thinks it is, and equally as naturally thinks NOVA — wealthy, highly educated, expensively housed, bedroom community for the Imperial City, the southern terminus of the Acela Corridor — is a good proxy for the whole country). I think the story is lots and lots of small races across the country, and that takes time to put together. Readers, please share your experiences!

A reader writes:

So I’ve lived in [Upstate, NY] for the past 13 years (I grew up in deplorable… I mean rural Upstate NY). If you’re not familiar with it, its a very wealth suburb of Rochester, NY. I believe it’s the wealthiest suburb north of Westchester Co. for NYS.

We just elected 2 Democrats to the town board!!! It might even make national news as I don’t think that’s happened in 100 years or more. Maybe not even since Lincoln.

The Nakedcapitalism twist is that the official, county level Democratic Party gave basically zero (the bare minimum) support to the campaign because they said it was a waste of time and resources and it couldn’t be done! I will say that the local community has had some “issues” that have raised local political consciousness and helped make it possible, but still… we did it and the “machine” party wasn’t needed. More power to the small dollar donor, peoples democracy.

My Town Council candidate, to whom I gave money for signage, actually won (!). I know these are two tiny anecdotes, but I have the feeling that most of the yesterday’s story has very little to do with NOVA, and a lot more to do with lots and lots of state and especially local races all over the country. To put this another way, I don’t think much of Indivisible at the national level, since the former Congressional staffers who organized and run it oppose #MedicareForAll. But it may be that for any given locality, they’re the only game in town, and are (what I would consider) directionally correct, given the alternatives.

More Virginia:

“Shocking Democratic wins test GOP majority in Virginia House of Delegates” [Inside NOVA]. “The morning after voting, Democrats retained an outside chance of taking control of the House of Delegates for the first time in nearly a generation, with the balance of power hanging on the outcome of several races deemed still too close to call.”

“In Virginia, Ex-Felons Voted For The First Time After Regaining Their Rights” [HuffPo]. One of the few good things McAuliffe did, no matter his motive. Maybe Democrats will figure out that expanding their base will work well for them?

Here’s another “no help from the party” example, this time from Virginia:

“Caution advised in interpreting Va. gubernatorial election results” [Roll Call]. “Here are just a few of the still unknown factors that could shape the 2018 elections.” The first: “Will the economy still be healthy or have we dipped into the recession that is inevitable someday?” I would guess that Trump’s Fed pick would be unlikely to take away the punch bowl, such as it is.

And elsewhere:

“They felt the Bern in Somerville: Sanders-inspired candidates win aldermen seats” [Boston Globe]. “In Somerville, all seven aldermen candidates who were endorsed by a local affiliate of the Bernie Sanders-inspired Our Revolution won Tuesday… Last month, the Vermont senator visited the Once ballroom in Somerville for an event that supported 18 local candidates. That event was organized by Our Revolution.”

“‘Completely Unelectable’ Progressive Larry Krasner Wins DA’s Race” [Philadelphia Magazine]. “Krasner’s victory indicates that progressives are growing more powerful in a city that has typically been more mainstream. In Philly’s 2016 primary, Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by double digits. That’s quite different from what happened today and in this year’s primary, when Krasner rose to the top of a crowded field of Democrats with the most left-wing platform in the race. Krasner’s election could also be interpreted to mean that the city’s Fraternal Order of Police has less political clout than thought.”

“Democrats picked up 2 seats in the Georgia state legislature, too” [Vox]. “Deborah Gonzales won House District 117 with 53 percent of the vote and Jonathan Wallace won House District 119 with 56 percent of the vote. Both seats are in the Athens area and both were vacant, hence the special elections. But not only were the two seats previously held by Republican incumbents, they were uncontested in the 2016 elections.” For all Howard Dean’s later and sad degeneration, I believe he got it exactly right with the 50-state strategy, which Obama gutted. A national party, which the Democrats purport to be, should compete nationally, not just in coastal enclaves and a few “swing states,” happy though that makes the strategists and consultants who are optimized for that style of race.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“4 ways Facebook’s cash machine algorithms are shredding the moral fiber of our society” [Byron Perry, Medium]. One of the ways: Siloing. “The better they can lump you into interest siloes — white female Fox News fan from rural Pennsylvania or San Francisco Asian-American male surfer or African-American from Milwaukee — the more ready-to-target preset groups Facebook can offer advertisers. And the more you’re being spoon-fed content you like and agree with, the less likely you are to leave the platform… In short, the filter bubble is real. How this makes money for Facebook: Facebook’s dominance in digital advertising is based on the fact that it can segment target groups of people more effectively and cheaply than any other method. How this is tearing us apart: We are becoming more and more divided into siloes, insulated from different viewpoints, with our own beliefs constantly reaffirmed by the filter bubble. We’re becoming more susceptible to mob mentality because we’re surrounded (virtually) by peers who seem to think the same way we do.”

Stats Watch

Another dull day for official statistics.

Real Estate: “With 421-a Maneuver, Pacific Park Developer Could Save Buyers $50 Million More in Taxes” [City Limits (TF)]. “When Greenland Forest City Partners in 2015 prepared the Offering Plan for buyers at 550 Vanderbilt, the pending 421-a tax abatement meant an overall yearly tax bill of $1.2 million, a 69 percent discount off the annual property-tax hit that would have occurred without the tax break. Now, however, owners at the 278-unit luxury building would collectively pay less than $123,000, a 97 percent discount. But that $1.1 million increase in savings would be just the start.”

Retail: “America’s love for coffee may have gotten overcaffeinated. The number of coffee shops across the U.S. has grown by 16% in five years, … boosting supply chains for Arabica while hurting business owners as the relentless spread of specialty coffees cuts into profit margins” [Wall Street Journal]. “The plethora of options is cutting into business, with consumers visiting traditional coffee shops less often and spreading their spending from Starbucks to McDonald’s Corp. and the expanding coffee spaces at grocery stores. The coffee world’s woes are similar to those plaguing the broader food-retail and restaurant industries, which have an oversupply of retail space competing against a proliferation of new food options.”

Retail: “Retailers are increasingly charging ‘personalized’ or ‘dynamic’ prices based on your online footprint. They manipulate prices, trying to charge you the max they think you’re willing to pay. You could be sitting right next to someone, looking at the same online product, and be charged more just because of a website you visited” [DuckDuckGo]. “You’re probably familiar with how common this practice is in the airline industry. That’s all thanks to Google’s ITA QPX Software, which provides solutions to airlines to price ‘by market segment, point-of-sale, channel and even user.'”

Retail: “In the U.S., retailers announced more than 3,000 store openings in the first three quarters of this year” [Bloomberg]. “But chains also said 6,800 would close. And this comes when there’s sky-high consumer confidence, unemployment is historically low and the U.S. economy keeps growing. Those are normally all ingredients for a retail boom, yet more chains are filing for bankruptcy and rated distressed than during the financial crisis. That’s caused an increase in the number of delinquent loan payments by malls and shopping centers…. The reason isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder—even for healthy chains.”

Shipping: ” I wondered aloud about what the explanation for the stickiness in the ship contracts might be. Theory, after all, would suggest that in a market with highly sophisticated repeat players, inefficient contract clauses would get reformed quickly — yet they do not” [Credit Slips]. Richard Kilpatrick answered: “At least in part, this appears to be because the industry folks, including their fancy shipping lawyers, don’t like change. Note also that the shipping industry is constantly evolving in other ways, particularly in its reliance on technology. Larger and more sophisticated vessels are constantly entering the market, and ports (as well as the vessels themselves) are increasingly being operated by computers rather than traditional labor. So I think it is fair to say there is a very traditional view towards regulation and liability allocation, but a relatively innovative approach towards operations. This creates an increasingly widening gap between the legal framework and the realities of business practice.” Hmm.

Shipping: “The International Maritime Organization has mandated that vessels cut the sulfur content in their fuel by more than 85% starting in 2020. Ship operators can either undertake costly retrofits or use cleaner fuels such as low-sulfur diesel” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Backyard security video shows massive ship run aground in NC and keep going” [Charlotte Observer]. It does indeed!

Shipping: “The profit at the [Maersk] liner business despite the loss of tens of thousands of container bookings highlights the strength of the broader shipping-industry recovery, and suggests why Maersk is upbeat about coming quarters” [Wall Street Journal]. “[F]alling freight shipping rates this quarter along with rising fuel costs suggest clouds on the horizon.”

The Bezzle: “We need to talk about the tsunami of questionable money crashing into the tech industry” [Farhad Manjoo, New York Times]. “[M]ostly we need to talk about this money because, boy, is there a whole lot of it — and as the world’s moneyed dictators, oligarchs and other characters look for more places to park their billions, mountains more will be coming to Silicon Valley…. t used to be that most of the money in tech came from more vaunted sources — universities, philanthropies, pension plans and other nonprofits, which made up the bulk of funders to venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Now we’re in a new era, when giant pools of money splash through sleek-sounding Vision Funds and come out seeming squeaky clean — and ready to fund the next great thing to make the world so much better, we promise.”

The Bezzle: “Airbnb May Face the Music Over Partying Tourists” [Bloomberg]. “Aimco [in its suit against AirBnB] claims that its bad debt write-offs have exploded in the past two years because tenants who were caught illegally subleasing their apartments stopped paying rent and were either evicted or moved out voluntarily. There have been hundreds of prohibited short-term rentals at four of its Los Angeles properties and hundreds more at its apartment complexes in popular tourist destinations throughout the U.S., according to an Aimco court filing. The coming and goings of short-term tourists has created a host of problems at the Los Angeles complexes, with lost travelers banging on the wrong doors in the middle of the night, late-night parties, and drunken and smoking tourists hanging out at the pool, according to Aimco.”

The Bezzle: “Facebook warns of profit hit from crackdown on abuse” [Financial Times]. “Facebook intends to double the number of staff, both employees and contractors, working on safety and security to 20,000 in 2018. The company’s overall headcount already grew 47 per cent year-on-year in the quarter. When asked by an analyst why Facebook could not use artificial intelligence to save on the cost of hiring, Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted people looking at the content when the ‘stakes are high.'”

The Bezzle: “Ultimately, WWD writes that [Mike Froggatt of L2 Digital] ‘found drastic differences between those who identified paid content as such and those who ‘forget’ to include those pesky little hashtags that let their followers know when a post is sponsored,’ and with this in mind, ‘brands are consistently trying to develop ways to sidestep the whole #ad thing knowing those posts don’t perform as well,” which can prove problematic … and illegal” [The Fashion Law].

The Fed: “Powell the right choice to steer Fed course” [Editorial Board, South China Morning Post]. “The new Fed chair candidate is the proverbial safe pair of hands. As a result, his confirmation, required in the US Senate, is not expected to run into difficulties.”

Honey for the Bears: “November Macro Charts” (from FRED) [Northman Trader].

Fodder for the Bulls: “[UPS Senior VP Mark] Wallace said UPS was optimistic about the outlook for U.S. economic activity through the end of 2017 and well into 2018. The U.S. consumer is in good financial shape, business investment appears strong, and retailers are accelerating inventory replenishment efforts, he said. The economy is ‘on solid footing,’ he said” [DC Velocity].

Fodder for the Bulls: “Everyone’s a Metals Bull as Global Economic Engine Fires Up” [Bloomberg]. From October 31, sorry.

Fodder for the Bulls: “The US economy is strong, and it’s about to get even stronger, Atlanta Fed model shows” [CNBC] (from November 1). “Based on recent economic data, the gross domestic product is headed for a 4.5 percent annualized growth pace in the fourth quarter, according to the Atlanta Fed’s model, called GDP Now. That would be a sharp pickup from the third quarter, which the government’s initial estimate pegged at a 3 percent growth rate.”

Five Horsemen: “Microsoft still leads the pack, despite being omitted from the new NYSE FANG+ index.” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Nov 8

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 68, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 6 at 7:00pm. Before Election Day.

Health Care

“Voters backed Medicaid expansion by a comfortable margin, but it’s going to be a fight to get it implemented. Maine voted 59 percent in favor of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, becoming the first state to do that at the ballot box. It’s a move that could provide health coverage to an estimated 70,000 people” [Bangor Daily News]. “But LePage, who has vetoed it five times, said in a statement Wednesday that his administration won’t implement it until the Legislature funds it at the levels calculated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services without tax increases or a raid of the rainy day fund.”

Police State Watch

“Sevier deputy suffered panic attack while armed, couple charged with causing it” [Knox News].


“Global Bitcoin mining represents a minimum of 77KWh of energy consumed per Bitcoin transaction” [Vice]. “It’s impossible to know exactly how much electricity the Bitcoin network uses. But we can run a quick calculation of the minimum energy Bitcoin could be using, assuming that all miners are running the most efficient hardware with no efficiency losses due to waste heat. To do this, we’ll use a simple methodology laid out in previous coverage on Motherboard. This would give us a constant total mining draw of just over one gigawatt.

That means that, at a minimum, worldwide Bitcoin mining could power the daily needs of 821,940 average American homes.” Readers, methodology?

Class Warfare

“A sad farewell for Dolores Westfall, whose ‘retirement’ was motoring from job to job in an RV” [Los Angeles Times]. (A follow-up to this story, linked to at NC in 2016). ‘Westfall, a former bank secretary, museum curator and interior design consultant, had found herself reaching retirement age in the same predicament many Americans face these days: unable to make do on her $190-a-month pension and $1,200 social security check. So she set out on an adventure born partly of choice, partly because there really was none. She spent her 70s traversing the country in search of temporary jobs, living and traveling in an RV she called “Big Foot.” Over seven years, Westfall piloted Big Foot to 33 states to work all manner of temporary, low-paying jobs — Amazon warehouse clerk, saleslady, resort receptionist, cavern tour guide. ‘I want to live life as much as I can, before I don’t have any,’ she said.”

News of the Wired

Twitter rolls out 280 character tweets:

“Fooling Neural Networks in the Physical World with 3D Adversarial Objects” [Lab Six]. “Neural network based classifiers reach near-human performance in many tasks, and they’re used in high risk, real world systems. Yet, these same neural networks are particularly vulnerable to adversarial examples, carefully perturbed inputs that cause targeted misclassification…. Here is a 3D-printed turtle that is classified at every viewpoint as a ‘rifle’ by Google’s InceptionV3 image classifier, whereas the unperturbed turtle is consistently classified as ‘turtle.'” And here is a tweet thread on this study:

Life imitates William Gibson yet again.

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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 (JTee):


Also, it would be nice to have more pictures of people’s gardens buttoned up for the winter, for those of you for whom winter is coming. And fall foliage, ditto. Looks like most of the country is past the peak, but maybe people have some images sitting in their camera’s memory…

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the NC fundraiser. So do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


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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. L

    With respect to Brazile’s ‘cult’ point I did not read that as a love cult but more of the suicide pact kind. The kind of cult where they are so focused on their “inevitable” results that they would rather drink the KoolAid than face the uncomfortable reality.

    As to the “We loved our candidate” you know when you cannot counter the substance of the allegations (because they are true) then change the topic and try to sing Kumbayah while you are at it.

    Even Rahm Emanuel chose this route:

    “Lee, I love you, but this is really, totally irrelevant, … Let’s focus on what we got to do to win not only in 2018 and 2020 going forward, and it ain’t looking back in 2016 and thinking about some agreement everybody’s done before.” (ht. Lee Fang @ The Intercept)

    I guess that whole looking forward not back thing is just the way of the party now.

    1. Genghis Cat

      I’m thinking Bernie should offer to fund the DNC in exchange for pre-vetting candidates and employees….


    2. Jeff W

      As to the “We loved our candidate” you know when you cannot counter the substance of the allegations (because they are true) then change the topic and try to sing Kumbayah while you are at it.

      There’s something so loony and clueless about the response to unethical, possibly criminal, behavior being “We loved our candidate.” It’s almost more like “Whether or not the substance of the allegations are true, what really matters is that we loved our candidate.” You almost have to be a member of the cult to fail to understand how singularly unpersuasive that response is, how it’s actually an argument against the people making it rather than anything remotely in their favor.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I’m bourgeois more than I’m lower middle class, and I think the ‘just don’t mention the War’ approach to toxic social behavior is a definite Achilles heel amongst my tribe.

        The longer Hills drags this out, the more I find out how disappointing she is (ugh, not ‘was’, ‘is’). You either absolutely support Hillary’s World, or you are ‘them’.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Might the phrase ” Jonestown Clintie” apply to people into groups like this? Or maybe “Jonestown Clintist”?

  2. Summer

    “4 ways Facebook’s cash machine algorithms are shredding the moral fiber of our society” [Byron Perry, Medium].

    In short, Facebook values people as consumers, not citizens.

    1. hemeantwell

      How this is tearing us apart: We are becoming more and more divided into siloes, insulated from different viewpoints, with our own beliefs constantly reaffirmed by the filter bubble

      M’gawd, but I wish analysts pushing the fb = Godzilla of opinion line would consider the context and whether it will endure. fb influence thrives in the era of the catch-all party and its skewed, market-deferential appeals to an electorate that has been shaped by it, pushed to an interest in non-economic human rights and indignation surges led by moral crusaders. As catch-allism erodes (optimism of the intellect, for a change) people will become more anchored. In this sense I look forward to the siloed days to come, and they won’t be silos created by fb.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Not to mention that the implication in all that pearl-clutching and hand-wringing is that people on Facebook are so utterly stupid they’ll just sign on to any group the algorithms send them. And stay on them. Elitist, much?

        Yes, the possibility of ending up preaching to the choir is very likely. However, what’s the likelihood people wouldn’t find those groups on their own anyway? And it isn’t as though you don’t get to check them out before you sign on.

        1. Adam Eran

          and yet… “No one ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” — P.T. Barnum

      2. Mike Mc

        ^This. Once upon a time it was Compuserve, then Lexis/Nexis then AOL then Yahoo then MySpace… Facebook seems more durable, but this too shall pass.

      3. Sid Finster

        Maybe this is a really really sneaky part of the algorithm or maybe it is because I actually am a large housecat, but FB does a really bad job of targeting ads to me.

        As in “I have absolutely no interest in any of this crap.”

        1. sierra7

          I go to FB to keep in some sort of contact with my children (large family). But, I also find to my amusement as a male, how many female clothing ads are popping up as I peruse the site! How this has come about I have no clue. I do not click on ANY adverts that are targeted on me on any other sites. Interesting.

      4. Summer

        “…pushed to an interest in non-economic human rights and indignation surges led by moral crusaders….”
        I don’t know how “pushed” they were. They put themselves in the middle of news organizations and readers/watchers, because the point was to “disrupt”( without giving much thought to the actual social outcome – just the profit).

      5. Mo's Bike Shop

        MyFace. Nothing worse than a has-been pickup bar.

        I expect this deep intertwingling of elite idea-space and sinecure protection rackets to give us some memes that make Soviet-era music videos look like Journey.

    2. curlydan

      I’ve got to admit, Facebook has tried to push some really cool looking John Coltrane and Frank Zappa t-shirts on me. I’ve RESISTED to this point.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I was just looking for my Ray Troll shirt. For now I’m consoling myself with the possibility that it was just so thin that it simply evaporated the last time I wore it.

  3. But What Do I Know?

    FWIW, in Bucks County PA (suburban Philly) the Democrats won the local courthouse offices (except for DA) for the first time in 30 years (if the local news is to be believed) I’d love to believe it was because people have figured out how we local homeowners are being screwed by the tax bill, but have no evidence whatsoever. . .

      1. cocomaan

        Also happened in Montgomery County, PA, one of the places I work. The local borough council elected four democrats for the first time in anyone’s memory, as well as the first black mayor. This was completely a product of local efforts and activity in the local college to mobilize students to vote, something usually really hard to do. I see no DNC hand in this.

        One interesting tidbit during the race: a pretty disgusting racist screed, looking like it had been written by a thirteen year old on Red Bull, made the rounds. Lots of ellipses and exclamation marks. This happened about two weeks ago and probably lost the election for the elderly borough council people who had gotten awfully complacent.

        This borough, while well off, seems to be on the decline. Their biggest strip malls have lost their anchor stores many times over. The “main street” project to get the place looking a little less spotty has been a failure, with high turnover in restaurants, barbers, and so on. The old guard generally resents everything that has happened to the borough, from what I can tell. My guess is that people were looking for a change or were looking to sit out this election for lack of enthusiasm.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Was that in Norristown? If so, I’m not surprised.

              Best roller skating rink I ever went to was in Norristown. It played music that was quite dance-able while being skate-able. Place was quite popular with the local African American community while being very welcoming to those of other skin hues. Great place.

              So, count me as someone who thinks that Norristown would be quite open to diversity. It’s been happening there for a long time.

    1. RUKidding

      Good to know. My experience of Bucks County (home to tony New Hope) – where I have relatives – is that it trends Republican/conservative.

      Thanks for the update.

  4. Wukchumni

    I ran into a Dolores on the trail this year, he was in his mid 60’s and in the same situation as her, a $1300 SS check was his only income and aside from his backpacking gear he had on his back, he told me he had a small rental storage unit where he kept the rest of his belongings.

    His m/o was to be out for 10 days @ a time (really about the maximum amount of days you can be out w/o a food resupply) and as he had no vehicle, and was dependent upon the kindness of strangers.

    I was only too happy to drive him to the next trailhead, along with giving him 10 days worth of freeze-dried meals to eat. He was homeless-but not really, as you would have never guessed his situation, on the basis of looks.

    A dignified tramp, he called himself.

    1. RUKidding

      Wow. Incredible story.

      So sad, even though this gentleman could enjoy the wilderness. But still… and for how long can he keep that up?

      Thanks for helping him out.

      I have several friends in their 70s and into their 80s still working either full or part time, mostly because they need the money. In some cases, it’s not so bad bc they enjoy what they do, but as most push into their later 70s I do notice that it gets harder and harder for them to keep up their energy.

      It’s ok to work forever if that’s what you WANT to do. Not so good, if you have to but have health issues, etc. Really a travesty.

      And now: let’s watch Congress cut SoSec and Medicare so that muti-bullionaires can get a “much needed” tax cut!

      1. Wukchumni

        I know 4 or 5 people still backpacking in their 70’s, but they’ve been doing it all their life, so it’s no big deal. We talked about his potential longevity in terms of how long he could keep it up, and it was the least of his concerns he said, in that unlike most of us, he was truly living for the day.

        I dayhike & backpack with a 68 year old a bit, and his wife calls him “The Goat”, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with him, as he’s surprisingly fleet of foot.

        However, if you took a stock 72 year old off the street and slapped a 40 pound pack on them and told them to ascend 4,000 feet in 8 miles starting out on the trailhead @ 8,000 feet, you’d probably kill them~

        1. RUKidding

          I’m a long-time hiker, and many younger than me find it hard to keep up with my pace. I used to backpack a lot, but I haven’t done so in a while (for various reasons). It would be hard, but not impossible, for me to get back to backpacking on a routine, regular basis. But I can’t imagine being in the position where I HAD to do it or live on the street. Sigh.

          Most people couldn’t do what that gentelman is doing. I’m glad that he’s found what makes him happy under these circumstances.

          1. Wukchumni

            Well, in a way, everybody I see in the back of beyond is homeless, if only temporary. He didn’t look any different from anybody else I might strike up a conversation with, and really was on neutral ground compared to back in the world, for in the wilderness, money meant nothing as it couldn’t be spent on anything.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I guess I’m one of those: past 70 and working part time landscaping, which is very physical, at least the way I do it.

        And my motives are similar: we need the money, even though we have more than the examples, and I enjoy getting outside. Plus there are a few clients who count on me. I take quite a bit of time off, though.

        Which reminds me: should go to work.

    2. MichaelSF


      A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike a “tramp”, who works only when forced to, and a “bum”, who does not work at all, a “hobo” is a traveling worker.

      He’s not a bum but might be a hobo per the “homeless vagabond” description.

  5. allan

    Michigan GOP to fight anti-gerrymandering ballot proposal [Detroit News]

    Republicans who have dominated recent state and federal elections are mobilizing in opposition as a grassroots group nears its signature goal for a 2018 ballot proposal to create an independent commission that would redraw political maps.

    The Michigan Republican Party and local affiliates are warning supporters about the petition, alleging it is a veiled attempt by Democrats to change the rules of a game they are losing. Longtime GOP attorneys also are plotting a legal attempt to kill the measure before it makes the ballot. …

    … critics argue Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation. Republican President Donald Trump won Michigan by 0.23 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016,
    a near split among statewide voters, yet Republicans maintained a 9-5 advantage in the U.S. House
    and a 63-47 majority in the state House. …

    Despite yesterday’s energy, voter suppression and gerrymandering will make 2018 a very heavy lift.

  6. Donald

    That fall foliage predictor is way off where I am. It says we are past peak and should have peaked in mid October. We are peaking about now or just passing it. Back in mid October we just had some color.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Just spoke to a friend in eastern PA. The leaves are stubbornly clinging to the trees. Gravity hasn’t persuaded them to fall to the ground. Yet.

      1. cocomaan

        Yeah eastern PA was weird right when I was out hunting today. I saw one pin oak that had all green leaves, it could have been September. That also goes for the two red oaks in my yard. The maples are totally bare, every kind as far as I can tell. Tulip poplars are fully yellow, as are hickories. Spicebush is mostly dropped. Multiflora rose and some of the other invasives are still green, which is normal.

        To me, this was a really spotty year here in SE PA. “Peak” seemed to be last week and lasted about three days before rain and wind came through and shredded all of it.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Yup. My mother was pretty amazed by that rain and wind. But the leaves in her woods? Stubborn little buggers. They’re still up there on the trees.

      2. Objective Function

        That’s dangerous stuff, good luck. As some here will recall, in 2011 New England had a pre-Halloween nor’easter, coating still leafy trees with wet heavy snow. It resulted in ‘Treepocalypse Now’, causing thousands of power line breaks and 2 weeks of blackouts (I was a utility employee and it was no fun). For a year after, parklands and forests looked like they had been shelled.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The occasional ice storm here has similar effects, to say nothing of wet snow.

          For me, the most amusing effect is columnar bushes like arbor vitae that splay open, looking like an upside down octopus.

  7. Pat

    I admit it is the local and state legislative results that are giving me some joy. Well mixed with some annoyance.

    How many winners had little or no Democratic Party support? How many were running in races where the Democrats hadn’t bothered to field a candidate in the last few elections? Same for those who almost won.

    The rebellion within the party is…. wonderful. That it has had some level of success is even better. But two thoughts fuel that annoyance. First how many seats could have been won if the focus hadn’t been on keeping big money donors and consultants happy so there was no desire to run people in every race? Second how many of the winners closer in policy to Sanders than Clinton will Schumer and Perez work to get off the ballot in the future. (Yeah, I think the hit list is already written.)

  8. Arizona Slim

    Here in Tucson, the city council elections included one incumbent who wants to take money out of politics. He encouraged people to donate to charity instead of his campaign. I am here to tell you that Steve Kozachik just won in a landslide.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I don’t live in Steve’s ward.

        The guy who won in my ward, Paul Durham, seemed to have suffered from a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome during the primary. After he won that three-way race, he gradually realized that governing Tucson, not Trump and his many foibles, would be the primary issue around here.

  9. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Airbnb May Face the Music Over Partying Tourists”

    We live in a very dark place, when the moon is off hiding somewhere, we have a glorious view of the night sky, with the Milky Way extending across the horizon. When it’s a full moon you don’t really need a flashlight when you’re outside, as that white orb is quite bright…

    Everybody here is cognizant of what a rarity we have in this day and age and outdoor lights are rarely lit, and there are half a dozen private observatories in town-as a testament to the heavens, and our issue isn’t so much with excessive partying in vacation rentals, but more along the lines of excessive lighting, as city slickers seem to be terrified of the dark, and one such rental is about 1/3rd of a mile away from us, and has 6 large lights blazing every time it’s occupied on a short term bases. It’s far enough away that’s it not that big of a deal, but it’s still irritating.

    1. Angie Neer

      Wow, I wish I lived someplace like that where people have a clue about light pollution. I live in a rich suburb where people are convinced they need to light up their houses like the perimeter of Stalag 17 “for security.” Many have floodlights that are aimed at the street, which maybe looks appropriate when you’re cowering inside the house, but is blinding to anyone who dares venture out after dark. I especially love the motion-activated ones that turn on every time a car drives by, and are aimed into the eyes of oncoming drivers. There’s safety for you.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re totally used to it, but it’s interesting when friends from the big city show up. Some adapt to it ok, but it’s daunting for others, and we don’t get cell phone reception here either, so when they pull out their rectangular obelisk trying to make contact with the outer world-nothing happens, and they look like Captain Kirk down on Planet X in the 3rd quadrant with a faulty communicator, desperately trying to ring the USS Enterprise.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe you should buy one of those old rotary phones as a prop and when visitors want to make a phone call say ‘sure, the phone is over there’ and watch the fun.

    2. Daryl

      Sounds nice…I live in a similar environment in Texas, except none of my neighbors seem to have anything better to do than run lawn equipment all the time or leave lights on 24/7.

    3. Jim Haygood

      People in central Arizona, where the Milky Way runs like a broad river through the night sky, get it:

      Payson, Arizona could soon be the fifth area in the state designated a Dark Sky Community. The title means the town is committed to preserving the night sky through lighting provisions that cut down on light pollution.

      There are currently eleven Dark Sky communities in the U.S. including Flagstaff, Sedona and Oak Creek in Arizona. Town officials hope the title will be a tourism draw.


      With the orange glow of Phoenix easily visible on the horizon from a hundred miles away, tourists in Dark Sky communities find it breathtaking to have a personal encounter with the stars.

      Only eleven Dark Sky communities, in the vast spaces of the west? Why not eleven hundred.

      1. Wukchumni

        I lounge most early mornings before the dawn in the hot tub for a spell, a perfect perch for the action overhead. Saw 4 shooting stars streaking across a few days ago.

        You would have been in the catbird seat in Dark Sky Arizona for the celestial event of our lifetime, when in 1966 the Leonid show lit up the sky and the accounts of those that saw it in this link are amazing, read em’ all.

        A sample:

        “I drove with a friend to a dark side-road, north of Mojave, California to view the Leonids in 1966. It was very cold and sharp, and clear.One pick-up truck passed our car that night, and there was no city light to disturb our view.

        Meteorites began to appear by 10:30 PM; there were about three or four every five minutes. At the time that seemed extraordinary, but by 12:30 it was raining stars over the entire sky. We were in a dark, desert valley bowl, rimmed by mountains; the Sierras were in the west. By 2:00 AM it was a “blizzard”. There was the unnerving feeling that the mountains were being set on fire. Falling stars filled the entire sky to the horizon, yet it was silent. If these Leonids had been hail, we wouldn’t have been able to hear each other. If they had been a show of fireworks, we would have been deaf.”


  10. RUKidding

    Like others, I have mixed emotions about these elections. Overall, the outcomes are encouraging and positive. I confess to knowing only a smidgeon about the VA election – the players, who won – other than what I read/skim here. It appears that the newly elected governor may be yet another corporate Dem, who apparently got support of the party machine (because he toed the NeoLib “line”??).

    Some of the other elections appear to have handed victory to a range of Democrats who ran with little to no support of the DLC/DCCC or the overal D “machine.” Yet they won, and some won very big; and some won in districts that haven’t gone blue in a long time. Some of these candidates appear to be much more truly progressive.

    Yet, with dismay, I am still reading some purportedly Lefty/progressive (??) blogs that are bashing Sanders today (yes, today), while celebrating these wins as showing some sort of huge support for Clinton.

    Oh dear. Not so much, methinks. When will we ever learn?

    I also see blog posts that go along the lines of: “THIS is what happens when people turn out and vote!! Why the [blank] didn’t these [blankety blank] voters turn out like this last November??”

    Uh, gee. I do so wonder why they didn’t turn out to vote last November… could it be, amongst other things, that the D Party, in its infinite “wisdom,” simply did nothing to GOTV nearly everywhere.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Exactly. That excerpt from the NYT—”…enhanced the power of the anti-Trump wave…” is one of the most blatant piece of co-opting the facts to date. It’s clearly intended to maintain the myth to all the Clinton cultists (more on that shortly) that as long as the goal is to get rid of Trump everything will be perfect.

      The fact is most if not all of the Dems who won in VA, with the exception of the governor-elect, ran on solidly left messages. In other words, they were for things that voters want done. It also feeds the rhetoric that Bernie Sanders has no business doing anything to change the narrative because “He’s not a Democrat!” I swear if I hear one more brain-dead Clintonite whine that at me, I’ll have to break things.

      Now, as regards the cultism of Clinton. I noticed it way back during the primaries. Their adoration of their Anointed One was utterly religious in nature, such that no amount of fact presentation would achieve anything other than being attacked as a misogynist Bernie Bro. I based my observation on the following symptoms:

      1. A leader the group follows with unquestioning faith.
      2. Their group is the only true religious system. (Cf. the aforementioned whine)
      3. Us against them mentality.
      4. Control of members’ actions and thinking through repeated indoctrination. (TRUMP!!! RUSSIA!!!)
      5. The teachings of the group are repeatedly drilled into the members. (Anyone who criticizes HRC is a misogynist/right-wing conspiracist/Russian stooge)
      6. The group’s coherence is maintained by the observance to policies handed down from those in authority. (Or in this case, by the complicit MSM)
      7. Avoidance of critical thinking and/or maintaining logically impossible beliefs and/or beliefs that are inconsistent with other beliefs held by the group. Avoidance of and/or denial of any facts that might contradict the group’s belief system.
      8. Those who do not keep in step with group policies are shunned and/or expelled.

      That even now members of the cult will adamantly deny the validity of any information indicating their Anointed One isn’t the most perfect, most qualified, and most persecuted woman in history. Mention Bernie Sanders and you’d better be wearing Kevlar. And, finally, reading the comments that were posted to that “Donna Brazile is a Russian dupe” on Medium, in which starry-eyed woman declare their undying love for their Anointed…well, quod erat demonstrandum.

      1. MichaelSF

        I’m not sure if they are a cult or might qualify as a religion per F. Zappa:

        “The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own”

      2. Hepativore

        I used to be a frequent reader of the Balloon Juice blog. I left for exactly the reasons above as several of the newer writers there became vicious Clintonites/identitarians during the 2016 campaign. Now the blog has been taken over by embittered Hillbots since the election of Trump and the mere mention of Snowden, Sanders, or Ellison will get you accused of being a “white Berniebro”, “purity pony”, etc. by both commenters and writers. Luckily, I found this place two years ago and the people here seem to be much nicer as well as more interesting.

        The Cult of Clinton remains strong in many places, and woe be to the apostates!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When will we learn?

      Some are bashing Sanders?

      According to Morris, the divide will occupy the two camps for the next decade

      1. Summer

        10 or 20 years before people end the duopolistic nature of the electoral system that keeps it in the same rut? That’s why the 2016 election can have the same type of memes as the 1972 election.

    3. Jen

      Not only that, they didn’t run candidates everywhere. On the plus side, no candidates and no ground game does create an opening for a motivated opposition to the Democrat status quo.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        This. The districts the Party has abandoned create significant opportunities. The candidates who run as Ds and receive little or no help from the Party: firstly aren’t constrained in any way by the Party’s anti-populist impulses, and secondly, don’t owe the Party a damn thing when they win on their populism. No quid; no quo. Sorry, DNC.

    4. MarkE

      So why can’t a progressive insurgent group take over the D party? The Tea Party did it to the R’s. What the Berniacs need is a catchy name and a good hat.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Compare ‘more reactionary’ to ‘let’s try something new’; in the Corporate Marketplace of sensible ideas.

        Bernie is smart in recalling our last Golden Age.

  11. Marley's dad

    “For all Howard Dean’s later and sad degeneration, I believe he got it exactly right with the 50-state strategy, which Obama gutted.”

    Which supports the thesis that Obama could screw up a wet dream.

    1. RUKidding

      Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy had a lot to do with getting Obama elected. And then Obama kicked Dean (who later came to “heel”) and the 50 State Strategy to the curb.

      Makes you wonder exactly who Obama considered his constituents – eh?

      We never hear about the 50 State Strategy anymore, despite it’s obvious success.

      Thanks, Obama.

  12. Code Name D

    Turtles that look like rifeles to computer algorithm? So i suppose everyone in Iraq must have owned a turtle then. What could posibly go wrong?

  13. annenigma

    Past peak? Oh, ya. The leaves haven’t just turned and fallen, they’re buried under snow.

    Here in NW Montana, it has snowed 6 of the last 8 days and high temps have only reached the 20’s.

    It’s going to be a long winter this year.

    1. steelhead

      I do not miss Butte/Anaconda MT @ all. Unfortunately, with climate impact, I just have to go south and south again…

  14. cpm

    Here in Albemarle County (Charlottesville)there was more door knocking/phone calling than in any election since we moved here in 2003.
    From our experience about 90% of the activity was from the “Democrat” party which is to be expected for C’ville.
    It was a bit much. We stopped answering door and phone over the weekend. But it was an impressive mobilization.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Last year, I got exactly one knock on my door. From the primary challenger to our county attorney. (He lost.) Nary a knock from any of the presidential campaigns.

      This year, my door had better karma. My sole knocker was the guy who just won election to the Tucson City Council.

  15. Wukchumni

    That means that, at a minimum, worldwide Bitcoin mining could power the daily needs of 821,940 average American homes.” Readers, methodology?

    How much does that work out to per house, versus a ‘conventional’ energy source cost?

    1. Jim Haygood

      An article I posted last week cited an estimate of 216 kWh per Bitcoin transaction. That’s one week of electrical power for an average residence.

      1. Wukchumni

        So, a monthly energy bill varies, but let’s say it’s $400.

        That would make the basal value of 1 bitcoin = $100, right?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        How many individual persons are considered to be living in that average residence? On average?

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is a general very rough rule of thumb I’ve often seen used that a 1MW capacity generator will produce the energy for around 7-800 typical houses. Hence in a very simplified supply model a 1 GW nuclear reactor would be assumed to be able to provide power for a city of around 7-800,000 households. I’ve seen hugely varied figures from around the world – for example, houses in Louisiana use more than twice as much electricity p.p. as ones in Hawaii. I assume this is partly due to climate (probably lots and lots of aircon in the Deep South), and also other issues, not least whether electricity is used for space and water heating.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Everyone has ac units or central air in the south .

        New Orleans

        Our mayors race is in 10 days but you wouldnt even know it based om informal questions to streetcar drivers and rite aid clerks.

        The populists for the working class will mos def be on the next ballot.

        You should do a write up on the two Garbage Neoliberal Clintonite Hacks down here.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      10 kilowatts at any instance (= 100 people working at 100 Watts) is what I’ve read for how the ‘you, me, Bill Gates, and Bechtel’ average works out for constant energy use.

      Glad to hear updated estimates.

  16. marym

    Speaking of “love” (or maybe “book sales” or maybe “looking for her next gig”) Donna B is going on Tucker Carlson on Fox tonight, and had her picture taken with and proudly tweeted by ex-sheriff clarke.

    1. Jeff W

      This quote from that article:

      According to Christian Bowe, a DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] National Political Committee member from central New Jersey, 56 percent of the DSA members who ran in this election cycle won, the organization’s best ever result. In the previous cycle, he says, only 20 percent of DSA members won their races.

      1. Daryl

        Actually, I’m surprised they had 20% before. Would be interested in the absolute numbers of candidates they have run over the past decade or so.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        There is a good chart in the article about the mayor’s race which shows how votes get reallocated under ranked choice voting.

        The logic behind ranked choice voting is that it encourages people to cast their “first” vote for the candidate they really want without fear that they are wasting it. Based on recent elections in Mpls, it seems that it also encourages people to run – based on vote totals this time there were 5 serious candidates for mayor and a bunch of minor candidates.

        If ranked choice voting didn’t ever produce a winner other than the highest (first) vote getter, there would be no point to having it.

  17. Huey Long

    RE: Police State Watch

    I watched this video awhile ago when the story broke and was shocked by how anxious and jumpy the cop was. This got me thinking about how him and other cops have gotten this way and I think it’s a 1-2 punch of training and culture.

    I remember from my (very) brief time as a federal LEO having the “get home safe” spiel beaten into my head along with the “any interaction with the public can turn into a gunfight” thing too. We were also told that it’s “better to be judged by 12 than carried by six” and to make sure that if we had to use our weapons that “only one side of the story was told in court” I.e. to make sure that whoever we happened to be shooting at bought the farm.

    Working and living in that culture has to have it’s effects on one’s psyche and I think the anxiety finally just got to this guy, causing him to loose it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s like that Hatfield-McCoy feud. Does anyone know which started distrusting first – the citizens or the police?

      So, now, we’re in a positive feedback loop of more and more anxiety and jumpiness, with each new encounter.

      With robot police, though, they can be programmed to not think about whether it’s better to be judged by 12, or carried by 6.

  18. Vatch

    Twitter rolls out 280 character tweets:

    I couldn’t find a video, so here’s a quote from an episode of “Angel”.


    We see some dark, deserted corridors littered with trash and hear some strange, low screams. Angel comes around a corner, looking for the source of the sounds. He opens a door, steps into the room and pulls the chain of the light bulb dangling from the ceiling to reveal that the room is stuffed full of goats. Sees a door at the other side of the room.
    Angel opens the door to see two men preparing to sacrifice the goats.
    1.Man: “What’s next?”
    2.Man reading from a booklet: “Make sure all troths are securely fastened and sacrifices tilted as shown in diagram F-12 to ensure full drainage into sacred offering bowl.”
    1.Man: “Yes, yes, and?”
    2.Man: “Using a clean, diagonal motion slit throat of sacrifice with the pre-blessed ceremonial dagger provided. – I didn’t see that in the box.”
    1.Man: “Look under the packing. Hurry up!”
    2.Man digging through box: “It’s not in here.”
    Goes to look through another box.
    1.Man reaches for the booklet: “Just-just gimme-gimme this…”
    Angel playing with the dagger: “You know… (The two men spin to face him) I’ve (chuckles) well, I really couldn’t help but notice the goats. – Yeah – a lot of goats. (Saunters closer) Goats – many. Those are goats, guys!

  19. Wukchumni

    “The gunman who committed the massacre in a rural Texas church fired continuously for several minutes, methodically shooting his victims — including small children — in the head, execution-style, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Wednesday.

    A video camera captured the blood bath inside the church, which left 26 people dead and 20 wounded — the worst mass shooting in Texas history — and state and federal investigators have reviewed that gruesome footage. The official estimated that the shooting in the video lasted about seven minutes. The church routinely recorded its services, and often posted the resulting videos online.”


    I say let the gruesome footage out, stick it on youtube for all to see.

    We have to eventually face the problem of unfettered guns in our society, and no time like the present.

  20. expat2uruguay

    this is what you reported yesterday, from the Cook political report: http://www.cookpolitical.com/analysis/house/virginia-house/why-virginias-delegate-races-could-be-most-telling-2017-elections

    “The five likeliest Democratic pickups are all in the highly-educated Northern Virginia suburbs: two are open seats (the 2nd and the 42nd) that are near-certain to change parties, and three more involve GOP incumbents who have only narrowly won in the past few cycles…. Think of it this way: if Democrats pick up five seats or less, Republicans would breathe a sigh of relief. If Democrats pick up five to ten seats, it would suggest Democrats are in contention for the House next year. If Democrats pick up 10 to 15 seats, it would be a strong sign they’re on track to pick up the House majority next year. If Democrats pick up more than 15 seats, we’re looking at a potential tidal wave in 2018.”

    today shows that the democrats picked up 15 seats, with 4 too close to call at this point. It will be interesting to see what Cook makes of their own predictions…

  21. curlydan

    My big beef with coffee lately isn’t the plethora of shops. I don’t really feel sorry for a coffee owner who jumped in a glutted market. My beef is the people who feel the need to walk around 24/7 with a warm paper coffee cup in their hands with a plastic lid. As a TreeHugger article pointed out a few months back, 99% of the Starbucks coffee cups aren’t recyclable, despite Starbucks claims otherwise.

    Stop using paper coffee cups and get a reusable mug.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And learn how to make your own cuppa coffee. It isn’t THAT difficult.

      Bonus points to those who compost their coffee grounds.

      1. Oregoncharles

        coffee grounds are nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Coffee shops will often give you buckets full of them.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There is a current proposal in Ireland to have a 15c tax on each disposable cup of coffee. I was listening to a radio vox pop yesterday and people were surprisingly supportive, most said they’d welcome an incentive to be less lazy and start carrying around a reusable mug.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Most of the coffee shops around here will cheerfully fill a travel mug for you, and often offer a discount. The Co-op offers a card that gives you a 10% discount (11 for the price of 10) if you bring your own and prepay. Also speeds up the cashier line.

        They also repel ants.

  22. PH

    VA delegate jobs are not very enticing. Bad pay. Richmond far. In past years, no Dem bothered to run in many districts. Lots of voters didn’t care.

    Heard a different tone to casual conversations the last year. Many people (not a poll; just people who talk to me, so a very skewed sample) felt it was not safe to stay detached.

    More Dems ran. More Dems GOTV. More Dems cared.

    1. Duck1, cisgender quacker

      I’ll admit I’m a bit dim, but finally figured out that GOTV meant go to vote. I thought it was some kind of youtube thing.

  23. audrey jr

    Just before I turned off the smartphone last night the final email I received was from Tom Perez. I did not click the email and took the one line that I could read without clicking as a veiled threat: “Robin, This is just the beginning…” Isn’t that how threatening emails always begin? /s

    1. ambrit

      Yes, and such missives usually end up as extortion notes too. “Chip in ten bucks or your pets will be RFID chipped by the Great Satan!!!!!”

      1. sporble

        Agree completely – outstanding sci-fi, hell, outstanding writing, period. I enjoyed books 2 & 3 more than 1, though 1 was obviously good enough for me to go on and read the whole trilogy.

    1. HopeLB

      That was the one good thing about Podesta, promising a Clinton Admin would make any information about aliens public.

  24. lampoon

    45th District State Senate special election in Washington State (to fill the seat of the republican senator who died last year) now led by democratic candidate Manka Dhingra which will flip state senate control to the Democrats, and give them control of both state houses plus the governor, at least until next year, if the lead holds.

  25. Propertius

    Re: Fooling neural networks

    One wonders if the same techniques might be applied in reverse to engineer a rifle that classification systems consistently mistake for a turtle.

  26. Phacops

    First there were eyeglass frames that can defeat facial recognition and now 3-D objects capable of allowing neural networks to fail. I’m waiting for radar/ultrasonic traps or visual distractors that will create failure modes in self-driving vehicles. I like ultrasonic transmitters best because, unlike radar, one does not need a license to transmit those frequencies.

    Technology is promoting new and clever ways to monkeywrench. No need for wooden sabots nowadays.

    1. MichaelSF

      I wonder how long it will take before “autonomous” freight trucks are hijacked by spoofing their computer?

      I recall reading a crime novel series in which one of the characters remarked “crooks are always at the head of the line to buy new security devices so they can figure out how to work around them” and that made sense to me.

      Hijacking a robot truck lets the crooks avoid assault/kidnapping/murder charges (or bribing a driver expenses).

  27. kareninca

    Delores sounds like she was a very interesting person who loved life and enjoyed doing things. But I’m not sure she’s representative of anything other than herself (which is fine). From the story:

    “By late summer Westfall knew she needed dental work, but she also learned that she could take a guided tour of buildings in the area designed by her favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Each cost $100.
    She picked Frank Lloyd Wright.
    “I believe doing something fun, no matter how frivolous it might seem, is food for the soul,” she said. “You need to feed yourself some pleasure once in a while to keep feeling alive. Otherwise, it’s just drudgery.”

    I read the original story about her back when it came out, and the first thing she did after pulling into town in the anecdote related was to stop in a restaurant and order something very costly. I’m not criticizing; it was her choice of ways to live and spend the money she earned honestly. But I know loads of old people who are very poor who are not choosing the costly restaurant meal, and not choosing the Frank Lloyd Wright tour, and who aren’t getting 20k in donations after an article about them. One guy I know, a friend of my dad’s, buys stuff at charity shops and sells it on ebay to try to squeak by; he is really, really hard up; his fridge doesn’t work and he uses the BOGO coupons for Burger King. Yes his friends try to help. I think he is way more representative. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with writing about a non-representative poor working old person; I guess the writers at the LA Times figured people would like to read about Delores.

    1. ambrit

      We’re not homeless, or part of the new ‘transproleteriance’ population but that feeling of dislocation is creeping into our lives.
      I had a similar response to the LA Times story, having read the original too. Dolores looked to me to be a very subtle ‘Neo Horatio Alger’ story. Plucky oldster shows how to navigate the new Robber Baron era for the deplorables. Instead of saving the Oligarchs’ daughter in some way and profiting from the Powerful Ones’ patronage, our new heroine saves the dominant cliques’ self protective ‘message’ or philosophy from the forces of mundane decay and benefits from the diffuse overclasses’ ‘charitable’ impulses as expressed through Go Fund Me or Compassionate Capitalist Giving LLC.
      I get that journalists would prefer to write about people who would give ‘hope’ to their readers, and so reinforce the dominant social narrative. The other option has usually been denounced as “muckraking” or “yellow journalism.” Why? Because exposing the negative results of the present system implicitly demands redress, or change. Rice bowls would be broken; probably the journalists’ first.
      As for Dolores’ choices; the real unacknowledged theme here is not that she chose “life enhancing” choices in her declining years, but that she had to make such choices in the first place. Simply put, the resources needed to give everyone a decent standard of living, at any age are available. Those resources are being stolen from the commonality by a small group of socio-economic apex predators. While many decry the fact that no oligarchs have gone to jail for their crimes, I ask, why hasen’t the group of oligarchs been put up against a wall yet?
      Times are getting interesting.

  28. allan

    NYS constitutional convention: Landslide defeat shows labor union strength [Democrat and Chronicle]

    … New York voters rejected a chance to re-write the state’s highest governing document at a nearly 5-to-1 clip, with 83 percent of votes against it and 17 percent in favor.

    The 2.7 million people who voted against the convention was the highest total on one side of any of the 32 statewide ballot proposals in the last two decades — including those in presidential election years that more than double total voter turnout in New York. …

    The blowout defeat was in part a show of strength from the state’s powerful labor unions, which had worked for more than a year to drive the “no” vote. They feared a convention could lead to a rollback of worker protections, collective-bargaining rights and pension benefits the state’s constitution protects. …

    ALEC and its ilk will need to try elsewhere.

    1. Huey Long


      This was a HUGE topic of discussion at tonight’s Union meeting. Our business manager was verrrrrry pleased.

  29. DArthbobber

    On the Chait piece, and this bit of “analysis.”
    “To be sure, Virginia has unique demographic qualities that may have enhanced the power of the anti-Trump wave. It is a racially diverse state with a high proportion of college-educated voters. But there are many House Republicans from districts with similar demographic profiles — in New Jersey, New York, and California, among other places. The suburbs alone could offer up enough Republican defeats to flip the House in 2018.”
    Problem 1 with this line of reasoning: As we saw in the Ga race, this only works if you have a combination of those demographics AND a Democratic preference going in. Va was Clinton +a bit more than 5, as I recall?

    How many of these affluent suburban districts are a}held by Republicans and b} districts that went for Clinton over Trump. Eleven. Yes, eleven. How many might the Democrats need just to capture a razor-thin majority? 27, you say? Gosh, maybe such a “wave” isn’t quite high enough.

    One thing that greatly helped the Dems in the Va House of Delegates elections was the overly ambitious nature of the last Republican gerrymander. Had they been content with spreading the N. Va. only far enough to give themselves about 55 safe seats, they’d probably still be sitting on a pretty solid house of delegates margin. But they stretched for the max number of seats possible, and while that did get them to 66 it didn’t leave much cushion in case of trouble. They lost about half-a dozen seats by a percentage point or less.

    One positive in Va was that the DNC actually did some of its investing in street level activities instead of tossing in a big wad on media, per its usual habit.

    Team donkey, of course, needs whatever kind of votes it can get, but there aren’t that many places where a milquetoast campaign pitched at the Friends of Mitt Romney will get you that far.

    How the recruitment and primary campaigning works out next year will have a lot to do with what the 2018 GE ends up like. I suspect a pretty varied crop of Democrats, because while the ill-named “centrist” faction might prefer to recruit their sort of candidate, their ability to control that isn’t what it once was.

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