Links 11/13/17

Stars that vary in brightness shine in the oral traditions of Aboriginal Australians The Conversation

Stranded orca whale successfully re-floated in Marlborough New Zealand Herald. Yves: “Look at how much effort to save the orca! They kept it cool all night.”

Bitcoin Plunges 29% From Record High Bloomberg. Yves: “Anything that falls 29% in a day isn’t ‘money, at least in anything other than an economy that is in some sort of collapse.”

Are we failing to protect the child stars of YouTube? New Statesman

Oil Spills in Nigeria Could Kill 16,000 Babies a Year Newsweek

Waymo’s fully self-driving vehicles are here Waymo Team, Medium. This is the money quote: “By giving people access to a fleet of vehicles, rather than starting with a personal ownership model, more people will be able to experience this technology, sooner.”

Waymo Tests Its Self-Driving Cars In My Town. Here Are The Odd Things I’ve Seen. Forbes. It would certainly be nice if we had data from parties who weren’t massively conflicted.


Europe’s four freedoms are its very essence FT

Since Article 50 was triggered, a no-deal Brexit has been the default The Spectator

Henry VIII clauses and the new legal challenge to Brexit Brexit Central

How they buried the hatchet to take on Hammond: ANDREW PIERCE explains how Boris Johnson and Michael Gove put Britain’s future before personal grievances Daily Mail. Anything’s possible…

Brexit minister David Davis dismisses Michel Barnier’s two-week divorce bill deadline City AM and BARKING MAD No Brexit deal would see dogs and cats ‘unable to cross the channel’ and planes not able to land, EU boss Michel Barnier warns The Sun

60,000 join far-right march on Poland’s Independence Day Seattle Times

Disputed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont: Spain has ‘damaged democracy’ Sky News


Inside the rapid rise and unprecedented power grab of Saudi Arabia’s millennial crown prince Business Insider

Saudi Arabia’s explosive rivalry with Shia Iran FT

EXCLUSIVE: Senior Saudi figures tortured and beaten in purge Middle East Eye

‘Bahrain opposition leader to stand trial for ‘spying’ for Qatar Middle East Online (Re Silc). Re Silc: “Spy for Iran/Qatar/Iran/Qatar/Iran/Qatar. MBS can’t make up his pea brain.”

Why the United States will never leave Yemen Al Jazeera. The view from Qatar….


Industry Which Does Not Pay Minimum Wages To Workmen Has No Right To Continue: Delhi HC [Read Judgment] Live Law


The World Needs to Prepare for ‘Peaked China’ The American Conservative

North Korea

‘They Want to Know If Trump’s Crazy’ Politico (Re Silc). Very interesting, especially for 38 North readers.

New Cold War

Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core NYT. “… said Mr. Williams, now with Rendition Infosec…” What truly unfortunate branding.

Is Trump Being Manipulated By Putin? Former Intelligence Officials Say The President Fears Russian Leader Newsweek. Two officials: liberal Democrat icons Brennan (torturer) and Clapper (perjurer).

Trump Transition

Was Donald Trump’s fiery Apec speech a response to waning US influence in Asia-Pacific? South China Morning Post

Trump, Abe and Turnbull talk North Korea and trade Nikkei Asian Review

Trump Offers to Mediate in South China Sea Dispute NBC

Rhetorical birth of an anti-China bulwark Asia Times. “Indo-Pacific.”

* * *

Reminder: Republicans Need 60 Votes to Pass Their Tax Plan Mother Jones

Mnuchin Stands by Trump That GOP Tax Cut Is Biggest Ever Bloomberg

Trump’s trade policy: Separating the normal from the dangerous Centre for European Reform

New data shows how the Trump administration is destroying the State Department Vox (Furzy Mouse).

Eight Ways to Build a Border Wall NYT

Trump era brings lowest stock market volatility since early 1960s FT. Probably not what volatility voters had in mind?

Democrats in Disarray

How to Fix the Democratic Party Bernie Sanders, Politico

Despite Recent Wins for Democrats, Gerrymanders Dim Hopes for 2018 NYT

Biden mum on 2020 run, but says Democrats need ‘fresh blood’ Japan Times. Always the donors with Democrats, isn’t it?

Top Democrats stage anti-Trump revolt at Bonn climate summit Politico. But norms!

Poll: Nearly half of white Southerners feel like they’re under attack The Hill

Poll: 37 percent of Alabama evangelicals more likely to vote for Moore after allegations The Hill

In Idaho, program to fight voter fraud may cause more problems than it catches Idaho Statesman. Crosscheck.

Sports Desk

Sources: Committee to talk Roger Goodell contract; last commish proposal included $49.5M salary, private jet EPSN. Plus lifetime health insuramce, though presumably Goodell is a better risk than his concussed players.

Colin Kaepernick Is This Generation’s Civil Rights Leader, Olympian John Carlos Says Newsweek

Health Care

Why Americans Are Going To Love Single Payer People’s Policy Project

Lower-Income Countries That Face The Most Rapid Shift In Noncommunicable Disease Burden Are Also The Least Prepared Health Affairs. (Again, if anybody from Health Affairs is reading this, I can go use Safari’s reader if I don’t want to read your articles O.N.E.L.E.T.T.E.R.A.T.A.T.I.M.E in your ginormous font, but is that what you really want me to do?)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Departing NSA veterans catch the eye of Silicon Valley investors WaPo. Intelligence community Flexians. What could go wrong?

Surveillance Cameras Made by China Are Hanging All Over the U.S. WSJ. Worse, surveillance cameras made by the U.S. are hanging all over the U.S. Alexa, stop listening!

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘Fat Leonard’ probe expands to ensnare more than 60 admirals WaPo (CM). And we wonder why the Navy’s ships keep colliding with other ships.

Class Warfare

The Plot Against America’s 99% Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate

Chinese-Owned Factory in Ohio Fights Off Unionization Plan NYT. [Family-blogging] communists….

Could a Tax Fix the Gig Economy? The Atlantic

We’re Sick of Racism, Literally NYT

How to Get Over the Need to Be Liked by Everyone You Meet New York Magazine. Science fiction? Role-playing fantasy? Huh?

Could Rome Have Had an Industrial Revolution? Medium. Especially for History of Rome fans.

The catalogue that made metrics, and changed science Nature

The Bus Factor: Life for Open-Source Projects After a Developer’s Death WIRED (CL).

Mind the Gap Granola Shotun (SC). Code and land use. Very important.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        I’d say it is a Must Watch for anyone who stands for the type of progressive values and policies for which the Democratic Party once stood for but no longer does. Here’s the link to the movement launch announcement that was issued by the Draft Bernie people four days ago.

        It’s important to pass these two links around by email. The movement will get vanishingly small play in the MSM, and perhaps suppressed on the dominant social media sites.

        1. edmondo

          Building a political party around one 76 year old seems rather short-sighted, especially one who seems to believe he magically can reshape the (ugh) Democrats. Won’t happen even if he lives to be 176 years old

          1. joe defiant

            The number of people who don’t like the two major parties is all over the political spectrum and only a small percentage is interested in a Bernie Sanders party.
            System will be destroyed soon enough via ecological disaster.

              1. joe defiant

                The Berniecrats still support endless growth, military industrial complex, and the global economy. Anyone with common sense can see that this will not solve coming disaster due to human industry.

    1. Jeff W

      As engaging as Nick Brana Is, I am never impressed by his appearances on Jimmy Dore’s show. Bernie Sanders has just explicitly ruled out a third-party run, presumably for what he thinks are good reasons. If anyone could have made a successful third-party run (long shot as it would have been), it would have been Bernie. So what’s Brana’s considered take on what he sees as Bernie arguments about impediments to third-party runs—especially in light of the absence of someone immensely popular like Bernie running—and what’s the new party’s strategy for addressing them? He doesn’t say—and since I assume he’d be eagerly laying it out if there were one, there probably isn’t any.

      Brana seems act as if arguments for a third party (and against the Democratic party) are sufficient for making the third-party a success. They’re not. Everyone can agree that getting the stag is better than getting the rabbit but if people aren’t assured that other people will, along with them, hunt the stag, they’ll opt for the rabbit. Jean-Jacques Rousseau figured that out over two-and-a-half centuries ago but Brana seems a bit behind the curve. What’s his strategy, if any, for addressing this “assurance problem” that all third-parties in a first-past-the-post voting system face? (In ranked voting systems you can at least say “Let’s hunt for the stag but if not enough people want to, hey, it’s rabbit-hunting season for me.”)

      None of that means that the party Brana is touting can’t succeed—the Whig Party collapsed less than a decade after one of its candidates held the Presidency. But it doesn’t matter which arguments I dream up for how such a party might succeed, I want to hear Brana’s arguments—or that he has even considered the problem. So far he hasn’t given me either.

  1. Octopii

    Good morning. Interestingly, the Waymo observation article was written by Robert Rapier (RR at The Oil Drum). Miss reading that guy. He’s about as close to an objective analytical observer as I could imagine.

  2. Virtual Cowherd

    That 29% drop in bitcoin was over 4 days, not 24 hours (nov 9-12), which while not calm seas isn’t quite as damning as your comment, Yves. I remember when the Dow dropped 22% in 24 hours like 30 years ago, but the Dow is still there, still making ATHs.

    1. Yves Smith

      First, it was Bloomberg who provided the headline, not me. Second, I’m not the one promoting bitcoin as money, and my comment is still valid. The Dow isn’t money either. You can’t buy “the Dow” and it is volatile and settlement is still T +3.

      And the Great Crash of 1929 took place over several days. It was still a disaster.

      The fact that Bitcoin boosters are so defensive is pretty telling.

      1. Virtual Cowherd

        Ah, I see it now, Bloomberg said 29%, you just added timeframe. Fair enough.
        But Yves, as a Bitcoin booster, should I just ignore your type of commentary? By responding to you, I thought I was respecting your position but adding some sort of balance. That that becomes ‘booster defensive’ in your world is pretty telling.

        1. Yves Smith

          I apologize for reacting to the headline, which I sent to Lambert for links. But you said four days, which is just as inaccurate. It fell 29% in two days.

          Bitcoin is not useful in commerce. Its main use is still illicit transactions and tax evasions. It is too volatile and cumbersome to use as money, yet its backers keep trying to depict it as an alternative currency. That is the basis for my criticism and it still stands. “Balance” is a journalistic institution we regard as at odds at getting to the bottom of things. Sometimes there are two reasonable sides to an argument, but when one side keeps throwing out sales points that are internally consistent or demonstrably inaccurate, I don’t see why we should treat them as deserving of respect.

      2. Croatoan

        I am wondering if you think that the need of a third party to complete a transaction is an automatic exclusion to calling something money.

        Even though cash needs a third party to validate its worth (government), I can simply hand it to someone in a trade. Unlike bitcoin, when I need a computer, the internet, electricity, not just to make it, but to complete a transaction. I could hand someone a USB drive with a bunch of bitcoin, but if they do not have a laptop to check it who knows.

        Maybe the volatility is linked to this dependence on third parties? Gold, if I understand it correctly, is only volition when compared in dollars.

        1. Yves Smith

          Gold is volatile no matter where you choose to to spend it. And you incur transaction costs (time to sell the gold + the spread when you buy and sell it).

          And it is even less reliable in the disaster scenarios prepper like to think about. For instance, in Vietnam, middle and upper class women held a fair bit of their wealth in gold bead necklaces. When during the worst parts of the war, they needed to use the gold (to pay for food, medications, or try to buy off a rapist), they without exception took way less than the metal value of the gold in those trades. Similarly, you have trouble with gold in those situations with the buyer determining purity, even if the seller is in a less desperate situation. In the times of breakdown in Argentina, what amounted to small denomination gold (wedding rings and small earrings, way less that 24 or 22 carat) were the preferred currency for trading.

          1. Wukchumni

            Those South Vietnamese that made it out of Vietnam when our helos last left, more than likely had a bunch of these on their person:


            Each of the bigger 24k taels weighs about 20% more than a troy ounce, and being quite thin, they can be cut into fractions. Most importantly, they could be hidden easily in your clothes, etc.

            I knew a fellow that got onto a big jet airliner going to Guam early in the summer of ’75 with 3 suitcases full of money and plans to be there a week, but he ran out of money after a day, for you see those lucky ones that got away were all net sellers of all that glitters. It’s possible that a number of people in Westminster, Ca. got their start in our country, on account of him and others that represented demand when supply came calling.

            The Iranian diaspora into Southern California and elsewhere, a few years later, was also financed by actual physical metal in the hands of those Persians that lugged it on 747’s outward bound from Tehran, and for some the timing was perfect, as they sold into the hot 79-80′ market.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In a recent auction, 5 such Kim Thanh bars (from a member of the Vietnamese royal family, according to the auction house) went for $6,500 before commission and tax.

              The envelope is printed in Vietnamese and Chinese. Possibly because there were many Chinese in Vietnam and it was they who were fleeing the communists.

              The Vietnamese Vietnamese (the Kihn People) might have resisted Chinese invasions for over a thousand years, but their economy was run by Chinese-Vietnamese, before they were forced to flee that country.

              And that money is returning and will continue to return.

            1. JohnnyGL

              Money does 2 major things….

              1) MEANS OF PAYMENT…bitcoin is not so useful. Requires tremendous IT infrastructure and is also knowledge intensive, too.

              2) STORE OF VALUE….bitcoin might be useful here, about as much as gold, which is to say, not so much in a crisis, which is when you’d really need it to come through for you.

              Good old USD, for better or worse, including physical USD, outperforms just about everything else on these two criteria.

              1. MLS

                down 29% in a short period of time (measured in hours or days) suggests it is NOT a store of value either.

                1. JohnnyGL

                  Yep, just like gold.

                  Of course, no store of value is insulated against price declines, including currency, but yes, speed is key, here. :)

                1. Procopius

                  Yeah, but units of account don’t have to actually exist. The livre, in the Carolingian empire, was never an actual coin. Heck, the silver denarius in the Roman Republic was used as a unit of account for a long time before there were actual coins struck. The oxen used as a unit of account in Sumer probably were not actual cattle moved between account holders. Bitcoins don’t seem to be used as having a standard “value.”

      3. Steve Roberts

        Stock market settlement in the USofA is now t+2 (since early September).
        T+1 for most mutual fund transactions.
        Bitcoin is a cult.

    2. BoycottAmazon

      It’s not just the commodity item like price drop, it’s also the unpredictability of the pricing, as I have posted on earlier in NC. Even in 1980’s Brazil, where prices were written on whiteboards with markers in Restaurants, everyone had an idea of where the money value would be in the near future. It could be plotted out and planned for.

      1. Wukchumni

        I knew an enterprising fellow that would go to Buenos Aries for a month in the early 80’s, and stay @ a hotel @ a set rate in cruzeiros, and by the end of his stay, the price in yankee $ was 1/3rd that of when he was at the front desk signing in.

        I saw hyperinflation in Mexico, but it was slower grinding, and there was 2-tiered pricing a lot, as they knew what gringos were used to paying for stuff back in the states if you were in a tourist area, but when you showed up in the real Mexico, it was apparent what damage it did, yikes.

        The root of all the immigration/drug cartel issues to emerge later.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Whether 29% in one day or four days, if its values swing so widely in such a short time period it is not money, it is a stock.

      1. Jim Haygood

        From the 6th through 8th of October 1998, the Japanese yen appreciated 25% against the US dollar.

        I know this because I had $1 million worth of unhedged yen exposure on an imported cargo. The yen’s out-of-nowhere pop cost me a cool quarter million.

        Obviously, the J-yen is not money either.

        1. Yves Smith

          The yen is not a currency you use in the US. Go try to pay for lunch with it. And see what you pay at your bank in terms of haircut. Worse, try a yen check. I got a sterling check in the fundraiser. My bank told me it would take 6 weeks to clear and they would charge $17.50 to process it. And you know with that long a processing time they’ll give me the worst price during that period too.

        2. BoycottAmazon

          I’ll bet you the price of milk and other basics didn’t change more than one or two percent in Japan (in Yen) for weeks or months around the time you took your splash. I happened to be in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan all when they went through extreme re-valuations against the dollar, and even import intensive Hong Kong had very little to show on domestic pricing.

          1. Wukchumni

            I was in Europe in 1985 when the dollar ruled supreme. They used to have what they called ‘bucket shops’ in the UK, and the gig was, say British Airlines, et al has 136 empty seats on a Gatwick-LAX flight going next week and in lieu of empty seats, they’d like a little something for the effort. In the world before the internet, everything had to be done mostly physically, so there were a number of these places, and I bought a 1-way ticket to the destination mentioned above for 99 pounds, when the pound was briefly worth less than a dollar.

            Germany was oh so cheap also, and for a brief while there was a market in ‘grey-vehicles’, and they were European model Mercedes (usually) that were pretty much the same as the cars here, except for the smog emissions, and the mark hit around 30 cents on the descent, and say a 2 year old Mercedes that cost $35k new here, was a $8,000 used car in Munich, so there was arbitrage potential, but you needed to bring the cars up to snuff as far as emissions and other issues. The saga lasted less than a year and then the mark went up in value, ending the potential.

            1. BoycottAmazon

              If there is anything to your story beyond relating an interesting story on your life experience, I guess it is that physical arbitrage by the common man is nearly moot, due to “physics”, ie: third law of thermodynamics. Any currency outside of it’s market is just a commodity, something that can be traded by the wicked and in-the-loop, but which has very little direct meaning to the local population other than a reduction in the tax base.

              Until a people think about the cost of their daily needs exclusively in bitcoins (or whuffie, etc); then any currency is just as much a commodity as a bushel of wheat being bartered for a tax bill due in silver, ie: the tax farmer is going to hose the poor sod kicker over.

      2. Bugs Bunny

        If I were to try to classify bitcoin I’d call it an unsecured debt.

        Still, “prosecution futures” has a ring of truth.

        1. Wukchumni

          I view it as the currency of choice @ Galt’s Gulch, and from it’s adoring herd never is heard a discouraging word and the sky rocketing and plummeting price is fun to watch from a safe distance away.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    “Mind the Gap” is a great link. Ever since spending time in Istria and seeing how Tito’s parcels and multi-use zoning made for great neighborhoods with most of the goods and services you need within a block’s walk, I’ve thought that multi-use zoning would help alleviate the effects of gentrification. Let people develop a home-based gig to help them increase their income and stay in a neighborhood after property values begin to rise. We keep hearing about a rising tide, etc., right?

    But the “nanny state” has combined with crafty megacorps and franchise chains to raise barriers to entry to the point where only the big guys or the fortunate few with big guy backing can start a business. The “pop-up” solution mentioned by “Mind the Gap’s” author is one way to cope with this, but that does nothing to help residents make a little extra dough.

    Leave the regs in place if it’s absolutely necessary, but create another set of rules for home-based businesses or give a new meaning to “enterprise zone” (which is just a euphemism for “another tax break for the rich” now). Let all the current regs serve as an ultimate goal for these small businesses, but let them get started and grow for a while before requiring them to meet a standard that effectively seals them out.

    1. russell1200

      Working in electrical construction, and seeing how these regulations come into play, the biggest push comes from the “hyper safety” culture that we live in now. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) by design does not consider cost effectiveness when it promulgates new code requirements.

      That works ok when your plucking the low hanging fruit of safety upgrades, but once those are in place, it tends push further and further.

      The new contributor coming in is the energy codes. Simple lights and a switch just won’t cut it anymore. There has to be all sorts occupancy sensors, shut offs etc with high upfront cost LED lighting. All of which might be good for a business in the long run, but you have to be able to afford to open up in the first place.

      1. Mark P.

        The new contributor coming in is the energy codes. Simple lights and a switch just won’t cut it anymore.

        It’s an interesting world that’s coming.

        [1] Regulation will increasingly call for new electrical and HVAC systems to have connectivity and chips built in — they’ll be the main front of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), not these stupid Jetsons-derived ideas like Alexa (which isn’t to say that systems like Alexa won’t sell billions).

        [2] Such smartened architectural infrastructure actually will make massive energy savings for our civilization possible. That’s absolutely valid. But it’s also going to be a surveillance state’s — and surveillance capitalism’s — dream. All the valid paranoia that NCers have about Alexa applies in spades here.

        [3] Furthermore, this IoT-enabled infrastructure will run on blockchain technology in large part, which means the Machine to Machine (M2M) payments economy will grow and grow. The discussion of bitcoin further up the thread didn’t get to the fact that a cryptocurrency like bitcoin — bitcoin itself is too volatile; Yves’s comment about it being like a stock is right-on — has application here.

      2. bob

        “There has to be all sorts occupancy sensors, shut offs etc with high upfront cost LED lighting. All of which might be good for a business in the long run, but you have to be able to afford to open up in the first place.”

        There are entire industries built to harvest the subsidy here. There’s both the upfront cost, which the feds will subsidize, and the ongoing costs, that get tax credits, if I’m not mistaken.

        Building controls. The DRM though specs here is impressive. They targeted federal specs for installs in order to insure the backend. It worked-

        “but we’re spending more on infrastrure!”

    2. alex morfesis

      mind the gap…there are no regs…just barriers to keep the unwashed from moving forward…the mystery fire marshall who wanted to shut down the meeting…he needed to be fired, not just talked down…most regs are designed to grease the palms and pockets of friends of politicians…it’s an interesting article, although the noise making about ada compliance is nonsense…it costs almost nothing to make a bathroom ada compliant…what happens is that parties talk to the “suggested” parties who smell chunxxx of cash and quote insane prices…simply removing one stall of a multi-stall bathroom and making minor adjustments will easily, and financially sanely create a compliant bathroom…even in older smaller spaces…most bathroom doors are not load-bearing walls and can be refit with 36″+ doors…

      in other spots where there might not be enough room directly through the existing door, a door can more often than not be simply carved out and an ADA compliant bathroom created…

      the noise and ada excuse is deafening…

      but as to making progress happen…start with walking to the guvmint offices and ask to see all the variances that were issues in the last 5 years…you will find, almost every building and business build out always gets variances…and the guvmint charlatans always hand them out like free cotton candy…if they are playing stupid, they just have not had their pockets lined enough or just don’t like you…

      the rules as laid out are to keep the children awake at night…in the real world, those rules are toilet paper and almost always get a variance issued…

      if one wants to get something done, do as the big box clowns do…

      here we are….here is our plan…sign off on it or explain to others why you refused…

      this land is my land…this land is your land…

      stop letting the progeny of the designer of alexanderplatz (MVR) keep running you around…

      1. KFritz

        “…most regs are designed to grease the palms and pockets of friends of politicians…” Sorry, but this is a canard. There’s plenty of self-serving lard in the codes, but the backbone of the 4 codes (building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, with lots of overlap between plumbing and mechanical) is health and safety. If a building burns or is otherwise destroyed, if the last occupant escapes just before the final collapse, the code(s) has succeeded. Or so it was explained to me. I assert that, if they’re read through thoroughly, the codes are among our most rational laws, along with traffic regulation.

        If the codes are administered imperfectly, how is that different than any other laws, all administered imperfectly? This is not a blanket, ad-hominem defense of the flaws of the codes or truly damaging administration.

        “What could go wrong?” is almost a mantra at NC. An absolute worst case scenario of what can go wrong with loose code administration is the 2016 Ghost Ship fire in Oakland CA. Every agency, including building and housing administration, fell flat on its face, at least in part because all but the fire department are underfunded and undermanned. The fire department is less beleaguered, and probably fell flatter on its face than any of the others. This isn’t intended to be a bogey to distract attention from abuses of regulation. But if by some mischance, there had been a fire in that Detroit building meeting, who would have been blamed for any injuries or deaths? That same, seemingly over-officious fire marshall.

        Lastly, the article uses an intellectually dishonest rhetorical device that I hope any NC reader has already spotted.

        “I’ve heard many officials and professionals get very derisive in their assessment of such efforts. “Oh, they were idiots. They didn’t do their homework before they started their project. What? They thought they could just do whatever they want with the place? There are rules you know.” These are precisely the same individuals who butter their bread each day with impact fees and billable hours. They have no skin in the game.”

        The professionals are depicted using supercilious, condescending language, implying that this is routine. Who are these professionals–architects, engineers, inspectors, plan-checkers, consultants, attorneys? The device presents all of them as unproductive rentiers. Plenty are, but can they all be fairly tarred with this brush? It IS a good idea to find out ‘what can go wrong,’ i.e. what is the totality of the regulations and regulatory environment?, before beginning any enterprise. No possible case for the onerous regulations is presented. Everything that follows is colored by this rhetoric.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        I call bs.
        My commercial landlord had a nearly $75,000 bill for converting 2 side-by-side small,older multi-stall bathrooms into one ADA compliant single stall bathroom and one multi-stall ADA compliant bathrom. Water/sewage, framing and doors all had to be moved. And the renovations triggered new sprinkler fire suppression requirement. My shop has 5 new sensors/sprinklers and it is less than 2000sq. ft.

        Waaayyyy overkill.

    3. CanCyn

      And indeed, what are the businesses with the deep pockets and knowledgeable lawyers and consultants to help them navigate all of the regs? Why, in a shocking turn of events, it is the Walmarts, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. of the world. Small business owners have almost no chance against all the rules and regs. I shop at a small independant grocer and a surprise visit from a health inspector can wreak havoc on their day. At a big grocery store, there’d be someone in management to deal with it and it’d be merely a blip in 1 person’s schedule, if that. A couple of small businesses in town have more or less gone broke trying to move from very successful stalls in the farmer’s market to a bricks and mortar situation because the rules and regs have been so difficult to figure out and adhere to.
      For a short time I worked for an architect/planner who would rail against building guidelines that meant lanes in a townhouse development had to be wide enough for a firetruck to make a u turn – obviously a fire truck needs to be able to get to a building but – his question, “Seriously, in a fire or emergency situation who is going to mind that a firetruck or ambulance drove on their lawn or through their garden??”

      1. KFritz

        Brick and mortar food businesses have always been annoyed to compete against mobile businesses with much lower overhead. It’s much more difficult to operate a more capital intensive business, and it’s likely that some people who move to a capital intensive business may not succeed.

        ” I shop at a small independant grocer and a surprise visit from a health inspector can wreak havoc on their day.”

        I’d be leery of shopping at any business whose day can be ruined by a visit from a health inspector.

        “Seriously, in a fire or emergency situation who is going to mind that a firetruck or ambulance drove on their lawn or through their garden??”

        Fire truck drivers, who can become stuck in gardens that aren’t engineered for their extremely heavy trucks, probably appreciate that regulation.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      A crazy idea for what might be done about the local zoning and tax impacts on Main Street. Find out what those impacts are for your locale and find some way — not sure how — to get the information out. Of course this is probably easier done for the smaller towns and cities. I believe the kind of stories in the link at the Mind the Gap site would have tremendous impact if they were stories about that empty store up the street instead of a building on the other side of the country.

      Actually I could be sorta curious about what I might find out.

  4. begob

    On the Rome industrial revolution, the linked afterword by the author of the novel is a good read – oddly, she’s a card carrying libertarian. I wonder why easy access to coal in the north of England didn’t contribute to Roman steam power.

    You can adjust font size with ctrl + the plus/minus keys. Or is it a touch screen problem?

    1. Wukchumni

      …from the article:

      “There was no culture of invention and discovery, no large population of skilled tinkerers or machine builders, and no evidence of labor scarcity that might have driven the invention of labor-saving inventions.”

      When Lake Nemi was drained by Mussolini’s orders, the 2 ships @ the bottom were full of futuristic technology…

      An underwater Pompeii
      “the larger ship was essentially an elaborate floating palace, which contained quantities of marble, mosaic floors, heating and plumbing and amenities such as baths. Both ships featured technology thought to have been developed historically much later.”

      “Both ships had several hand-operated bilge pumps that worked like a modern bucket dredge, the oldest example of this type of bilge pump ever found. The pumps were also operated by what may have been the oldest crank handles yet discovered; the reconstruction of the cranked pump which was assembled from fragments, including a wooden disk and an eccentric peg, has been dismissed as “archaeological fantasy””.

      “Piston pumps supplied the two ships with hot and cold running water via lead pipes. The hot water supplied baths while the cold operated fountains and supplied drinking water. This plumbing technology was later lost and only re-discovered in the Middle Ages.”

      “Each ship contained a rotating statue platform. One platform was mounted on caged bronze balls and is the earliest example of the thrust ball bearing previously believed to have been first envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci but only developed much later.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        You got that right Wukchumni – an excellent example. Maybe somebody should point out the Antikythera mechanism ( from the same time period to the author of that article as well.
        I personally have crossed Roman bridges still in use after 2,000 years and was stunned when I saw the massive Pont du Gard ( showing an extremely sophisticated engineering project still standing. The building blocks and sophistication for the technology were there but the pressures of empire probably undercut their technological rise.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it a case of 1% enjoying technologies that the 99% would only find out, rediscover, 1,000 years later?

        Do the rich today enjoy things that the rest of us will find out hundreds of years later?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, it’s surprising how much was mined in Britain from the Bronze age onwards (it was used in China for thousands of years). The Romans used it extensively in Briton and it was pit mined from medieval times onwards. But the favoured fuel for industrial (mostly pottery and iron production) use for most of history was wood (charcoal for making iron) and peat. Peat is much easier to cut and burn and was used in massive quantities in the medieval period. The huge expansion of the pottery industry in 16th-17th Century Netherlands was fueled by peat – its cutting led to severe flooding which in turn led to the large scale construction of dykes and flood control systems.

          I don’t think coal itself is significant in industrial production, its just a particularly concentrated form of energy. The invention of the steam piston (and later turbine) engine always seemed key to me, and that was tied to a variety of scientific and metallurgy breakthroughs.

          1. mpalomar

            I think historians have differing views but a central view for some time was that the industrial revolution kicked off largely in Britain because of the readily accessible coal, near the surface.

            Certainly there is a correlation between the industrial revolution in Britain and increasing production and use of coal there.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Britain had to chop down most of their forests during the Napoleonic Wars to build the ships that it needed to fight Napoleon’s fleets and to maintain the blockade. After the war, Canada became the main ship-building center as its forests were still intact and ran right down to the coastline where the ships were built whereas before merchant ships were built in Britain. Most of the ships that made the run out from the UK to Australasia were Canadian built in the 19th century as an example of how this played out

    2. DJG

      begob, Wukchumni, RevKev: Yes, the article about Roma and an industrial revolution raises some questions but is narrowly focused.

      Further, the Antikythera mechanism, as mentioned by Rev Kev, brings up all kinds of questions as to the levels of technology in the ancient Mediterreanean world. We just don’t know. Yesterday, there was an article here about a carving on semiprecious stone, just found in a Mycenean site, that had to have been made with tools that most archeologists believed not to exist in Minoan Crete (which may have been the source of the object). The detail was beyond what they had seen before in Minoan artwork.

      Likewise, I recall an afternoon in the civic museum in Narni in Umbria. The region around ancient Narni had several brickmaking and roof-tile factories, which branded their wares. They floated the bricks to Roma down the Nera river. In general, though, we don’t know much about ancient industry. Italian museums are filled with stunning glassware, which must have been mass produced, even if still made more or less by hand. And, more or less anecdotally, I have read that highly productive farming meant that the Romans knew how to breed and “mass produce” chickens, a skill that died out during the barbarian invasions and wasn’t revived till recently.

      Anecdotally, I also recall being in a museum in Roma that included a dig into some ancient public latrines. The archeologists commented on how many coins were found in the public latrines. People were carrying coins and losing them: A sign of a fairly high standard of living.

      And then there was the memorial plaque to a woman obstetrician at the Narni museum, put up by her son. But wait: Women didn’t have careers back then. Or did they?

      And I won’t even mention the famous international trade in garum.

      [And apologies for my comment yesterday in which I misplaced the eastern seabord of Sicily. Yes, Catania and lovely Siracusa are on the Eastern Coast.]

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        People were way smarter than we thought.

        Robots in China, 3,000 years ago?

        From Automaton, Wikipedia:

        The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being. The artificer touched its chin, and it began singing, perfectly in tune. He touched its hand, and it began posturing, keeping perfect time…As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yen Shih [Yan Shi] executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear, instantly taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it really was. And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, glue and lacquer, variously coloured white, black, red and blue. Examining it closely, the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines; and over these again, muscles, bones and limbs with their joints, skin, teeth and hair, all of them artificial…The king tried the effect of taking away the heart, and found that the mouth could no longer speak; he took away the liver and the eyes could no longer see; he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted.[12]

        1. visitor

          Hero of Alexandria is famous for having invented a whole slew of automata and mechanical contraptions, including the first steam engine and the first vending machine.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            He is mentioned in the same Wiki article:

            There are many examples of automata in Greek mythology: Hephaestus created automata for his workshop;[4] Talos was an artificial man of bronze; Daedalus used quicksilver to install voice in his moving statues; King Alkinous of the Phaiakians employed gold and silver watchdogs.[5][6]

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Sorry, I should have quoted the next paragraph:

              The automata in the Hellenistic world were intended as tools, toys, religious idols, or prototypes for demonstrating basic scientific principles. Numerous water powered automata were built by Ktesibios, a Greek inventor and the first head of the Great Library of Alexandria, for example he “used water to sound a whistle and make a model owl move. He had invented the world’s first “cuckoo” clock”.[7] This tradition continued in Alexandria with inventors such as the Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria (sometimes known as Heron), whose writings on hydraulics, pneumatics, and mechanics described siphons, a fire engine, a water organ, the aeolipile, and a programmable cart.[8][9]

  5. allan

    “Surveillance Cameras”

    Where others see a privacy threat, Silicon Valley sees a disruptive innovation:

    Backing Big Brother: Chinese facial recognition firms appeal to funds [Reuters]

    Buoyed by China’s plans to build a ubiquitous CCTV surveillance network, Chinese and some foreign investors are pouring money into start-up technology firms that specialize in facial recognition software.

    At stake for firms such as SenseTime Group, Face++ and DeepGlint, is a multi-billion dollar global public and private market for facial recognition technology that can quickly identify individuals by measuring major elements of their faces, such as the distance between the eyes and the curve of the cheekbones. …

    In China … the supercharged growth has added to concerns about controls on dissidents or activists by the government of President Xi Jinping, especially when combined with the potential for the Chinese authorities to track phones being increasingly used for electronic payments and their stepped up monitoring of Internet traffic.

    That hasn’t appeared to deter investors, who include leading U.S. venture capital firms such as the China arm of Sequoia Capital, which is one of the best-known Silicon Valley venture capital firms. …

    Sequoia did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on whether it has any concern that technology it is investing in may infringe individual privacy. …

    Concerns? Silly Reuters. Individual privacy doesn’t scale.

    1. Mark P.

      allan wrote: Individual privacy doesn’t scale.

      I’d worry more about facial expression recognition tech. In the future everybody is going to be able to know a lot more about what you’re thinking.

      Paul Ekman’s system of facial expression coding was automated by the DHS and TSA back in 2010. Here in 2017 there are at least a half-dozen commercial companies who’ve got it running on Google Glass-type wearables. The rationale would be, forex, to equip medical workers and autistics with better means of diagnosing the state of mind of patients/interlocutors.

      Even if regulation or slow cultural acceptance impedes the uptake of wearable facial expression recognition tech, that technology will still be all through AI systems that have to deal with and understand humans. (i.e. Alongside voice recognition for computers, there’ll also be facial expression tech to understand what human users want.)

      Facial expression recognition technology is only 93 percent accurate at best, so not good enough for a court of law. Still, one can imagine a future where, say, the principals negotiating a business deal use the tech to tell when the other part yis lying. The civil rights crowd may cry about it, but it’s going to be hard to argue that anybody has an inherent right to lie to you and not get caught.

      Politicians and the like will have to get botox-treatments, I guess, to freeze their faces.

  6. Potato Guy

    Mind the Gap is correct in the preposterous obstacles put in place over the years. We build sustainable small homes in rural towns and have experience with a town council who changed the zoning across the street and changed the dynamic of our project. In essence they stopped the project. Now the land will remain vacant for another 5-10 years. Our million dollar investment has now left town in the cash strapped and pension underfunded corrupt state of Illinois. It’s a crazy culture. Fortunately there are towns who get it and roll out the red carpet.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Re New data shows how the Trump administration is destroying the State Department
    When I read this article, I could see how Vox was trying to say that it was such a tragedy with what was happening to the State Department under the Trump Administration – such pearl clutching! I started to remember though reading a coupla news stories after a lot of these same people left the US State Department about a group called the “7th floor group” ( My reading of this was that Clinton had set up her own State Department within the US State Department to do whatever she wanted and it was these people that are being given the heave ho.
    In writing this another thought occurred to me and that was that American Ambassador that was killed in Libya. Forget the whole Benghazi circus but was it not odd that an Ambassador was appointed to Libya so soon after the chaos of the civil war? We now know that this Ambassador’s main job was to help transport the weapons stockpiles in Libya to Syria for use in the civil war unfolding there – the so called “rat line” – when he got himself killed. When I think about it, this sounds like something that this “7th floor group” would have come up with so perhaps there is nor real loss with these people losing their powerful jobs.

    1. Charlie

      I’ll read this one later, but I should say that I had to renew my passport recently for a trip to Barcelona in January. The usual expedite time is two weeks, but my new passport came back in a little over a week. And that is giving the benefit of doubt to a five day turnaround for postal delivery.

      They’re not hurting that bad.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        A tacit assumption for many people about federal employment is that they all provide vital services in responsible ways. Many do. Having been a federal employee (DOE) in a prior life, I had the opportunity to observe much waste and politically-motivated maneuvering that was not directly connected to an actual program fulfillment or legislative directive. There is a lot of squishiness in so many federal budgets that private sector people saw squeezed out mercilessly over the past few decades. Mix in a few Beltway Bandits and the costs and manipulations can really spiral.

  8. Merdi

    RE: “Waymo Tests Its Self-Driving Cars In My Town. Here Are The Odd Things I’ve Seen.”

    I feel so conflicted about the “AVs.” I’m a car-free father in a smallish (pop. 13,000) town in Ky. My bike is my freedom, and my children’s #1 transportation.

    On one hand, I feel like I have great interactions with drivers out in the county. Small winding roads, no shoulders, often no lines, sometimes precipitous drops, and fast drivers. But when there’s no room to pass I take the lane, when I figure an aggressive driver could probably pass me I move over, and when I can see around the next blind curve or over the blind hill, I wave them past. I get waves and smiles from all the farm trucks and “Friends of Coal” bumper sticker cars. We get along. (These are the drivers many non bikers figure will mow you down just for giggles) How do I communicate with an AV?

    On the other hand. In town. My small town. Traffic can be horrible and crowded. No one follows the speed limits, they are very aggressive at intersections, stop lights, and signs, something really important seems to be happening on their smartphones all the time, very elderly people get thoroughly confused at seeing bikes on the road (esp my kids) and respond erratically, trucks ominously follow and catcall women who attempt to ride their bikes in town, drivers almost universally swerve across the shoulder and through the grass to get around cars that have to wait to turn left across traffic.

    Under those conditions, I think I’d risk it with the AV’s. Driving in town can be scary. Let the smartphone addicts swipe and tap while they ride in the back.

    Furthermore, if you’ll make me king of everything, I’d put in lots of passenger trains and buses, so that people like me could make it to Lexington or Louisville, see the sights and meet the people outside my little bubble. But if you won’t make me king, then being able to order a car to pick me up and take my bike and I to whatever other town I want to go at a reasonable price (taxis you’d be looking at $200 + for an 80 mile trip) sounds kind of amazing. I just don’t know what to think.

    1. a different chris

      How do you dress when it gets cold? Layers? I would like to keep riding to work, but I can’t keep my hands warm on the downhills. And by “can’t keep my hands warm” I mean insane pain…. and then there’s the sun setting before I even get out of work, let alone get home.

      1. mpalomar

        I never solved the wind chill factor in winter bike commuting, (the otherwise beneficial and welcome a/c factor in warmer weather). Extremities are indeed vulnerable, fingers, ears and nose presented unsolvable icing up problems for me.
        I do see people winter commuting in outfits that are akin to wet suits that appear to work.

        1. bob

          These might work well

          They’re neoprene, which is wet-suit like. They have grip on the palms and fingers.

          They’re quite durable and warm in the wind. They’re not very warm compared to other, bulkier gloves, but do very well in wind. I can find them locally for less that $10.

          They work very well for an everyday, durable glove in cold climates.

      2. annenigma

        I’m no spring chick, but I ride my bike all year long in NW Montana for all my local errands. When it’s gets below ~38 degrees, I put on my down coat with the hood up over my helmet and wear down mittens with Little Hotties inside, opening them up in advance to get them warm. I purchase a box of those each year at Costco, very reasonably priced compared to buying them at outdoor stores.

        Be sure the mittens are of a material that blocks the wind (not polarfleece!) or use/make) a pair of liners to place over them. I’ve seen some people riding with big mitts that seem to be attached to the handlebars which they just slip their hands in and out of, but I haven’t checked those out.

        I too suffer from excruciating pain in my fingers when they get cold, so I understand how important it is to prevent that.

        Oh, I also wear ski goggles when the wind is blowing or when temps get below 30. I stay toasty warm.

        1. Pat

          Here in NYC, the delivery guy version of the big mitts attached to the handle bars appear to be stuffed and shaped plastic shopping bags. Not very attractive, but probably more effective than you think on first glance.

      3. Arizona Slim

        News flash: It gets cold in Tucson. Yes, you read it here first. It does get cold here.

        How the local cyclists handle cold weather:

        1. Layering
        2. Thick wool socks
        3. Warm, but flexible gloves
        4. Skullcaps beneath the helmet
        5. Wrap-around glasses or safety goggles to keep the cold wind out of your eyes
        6. A very BRIGHT headlight

        1. Anon

          …#7. A flashing rear tail light.

          (Battery powered lights last 7 times longer when in “flashing” mode.)

      4. Merdi

        I tried to reply earlier, but it appears not to have worked. Yeah, there’s gear out there. I’m a poor man, so I don’t recommend high end gear lightly. However, cycling specific gear, if you are replacing gas, insurance, etc is definitely worth it. For gloves, I use Pearl Izumi Softshell Elite Winter gloves. Little details like the rubberized grip for your braking fingers and and the snot pad on the back of the thumb make a huge difference. I’ve never had my hands get cold in these. But, I usually don’t ride below 25F. They cost like 2 tanks of gas.

        I wear a merino wool balaclava for face and ears. Plus a cycling specific rain coat from Dakine for rain and as a shell in cold weather. The hood fits over your helmet and creates a warm air layer. I’ve had some trouble with my toes, but really wool socks and some touring style shoe covers should do the trick for the most part. I have not splurged on shoe covers, so in the worst case I put grocery bags over my socks and then another over my shoes.

        Lights are trickier, lots of options. I don’t ride much at night so I don’t use a head light. I have a Monkeylectric wheel light, and red blinkers on the back.

        Happy Trails.

        1. Merdi

          Also, once you get the staying warm part down, you’ll find that sweat management is the real trick of winter riding. The right gear is again the key. Cycling jackets have zippable armpit vents, for instance. Wool or wicking synthetics keep you feeling dry.

          1. bob

            Cotton kills. Outer-layers, it may makes sense. But under layer- synthetic.

            +1000 on sweat management. Dressing TOO warm can be a bigger problem than dressing too cold.

    2. mpalomar

      The Forbes article re: Waymo vehicular behavior. If self driving vehicles gain access and share public roads with traditional cars I would think pedestrians, cyclists and human operators will learn to aggress and game the programmed parameters of the self driving cars, particularly in urban settings where aggressive driving techniques are already prolific; for example cutting off self driving cars, refusing to yield to them in merge situations.

      1. JTMcPhee

        How long before skynet and local AI catch on and re-program to add aggressiveness to the mix of AV behaviors? Since it sure does not appear that the 3 or 4 Laws of Robotics will ever be part of the “ethical” mix in the positronic or quantum-computing or whatever “brains” of the future.

        We humans, almost all of us, are so screwed — just cruising along in our little lives, either knowing our status or believing we can alter our fates, and/or oblivious to the mounding up of vulnerabilities, denying the obvious in spasms of hope, or if we are “woke” to what’s really happening, just hoping that the Great Crushing will not happen in our neighborhoods, while yet we live… Includes even Haygood, I imagine, with all the folks who think they have it taped out, and of course all those mopes in Venezuela who can’t emigrate to post- or pre-austerity spaces…

      2. joe defiant

        I’ll be first in line to jump in front of one of these when they appear in NYC so I can get a nice lawsuit. It’s the only way we lower classes can get a retirement anymore. You can work in manual labor and slowly destroy your body or take a few injuries in one fell swoop.

        1. visitor

          I’ll be first in line to jump in front of one

          In Russia, where the judicial system is sufficiently unpredictable and law enforcement corrupt enough, dashboard cameras in cars are ubiquitous because of the need to have documented proof to defend oneself when accidents happen. Youtube is full of videos recording the hairiest traffic situations.

          In particular, they served to deter fraudulent claims of people who threw themselves in front of cars to claim damages — apparently a not infrequent occurrence till the 2000s.

          Since AV are bristling with cameras, do not volunteer for the acts of sabotage you are suggesting. You may end up paying it dearly (not just through possible bodily harm).

    3. lyman alpha blob

      From the article:

      Throughout my career, I have tried to live as close as possible to my job to minimize a commute. However, if I could be relieved from the tedium of driving myself, it would open up all kinds of new possibilities. If I could get some work done on a 45-minute commute, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

      I agree with the sentiment but if this guy is not able to live closer than 45 minutes away from his job he really isn’t trying very hard. And why does it require a self driving vehicle in order for him to get work done on a commute?!? Has he never heard of the bus?

      Filling up the roads with more vehicles is not going to solve problems with congestion, etc. I think you have the right idea regarding more public transportation.

      1. Altandmain

        Depends on quality of bus and other mass transit coverage. Unlike in Europe and East Asia, mass transit in NOrth America is generally lacking.

        Coverage is often limited. There is also the matter that it takes 3x as long at at times.

  9. Jim Haygood

    The Empire expands into a new country:

    TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. and Israeli officers broke ground in Israel on Monday for a permanent U.S. Army base that will house dozens of U.S. soldiers, operating under the American flag, and charged with the mission of defending against rocket and missile attack.

    The American base, officers in Israel say, will be an independent facility co-located at the Israel Defense Forces Air Defense School in southern Israel, near the desert capital of Beersheba.

    “This life support area represents the first ever stationing of a U.S. Army unit on Israeli soil,” Major Gen John Gronski said. “The U.S. and Israel have long planned together, exercised together, trained together. And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will occur every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, US soldiers living and working side by side.”

    Congressional debates on establishing this new base certainly provided some interesting fireworks.

    Ha ha, just kidding — there weren’t any. Mad Dog Mattis orders the empire’s expansion. Impotent Kongress Klowns find out about it the same way they learned “we” were in Niger — on the internet.

    Potemkin democracy, comrades: at least the stage props are artfully executed. :-)

    1. Janie

      In1910 British representative asked Foch what was the smallest British unit that would be of use in the upcoming war. Foch replied, “A single British soldier. We will see that he gets killed.” Source: The Guns of August

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      November 13, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Sorry, I hadn’t seen your post when I posted mine
      fresno dan
      November 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I should have known Jim “iron dome” Haygood, ever vigilant would not let this slip by!!!

      “Congressional debates on establishing this new base certainly provided some interesting fireworks.”
      Jim, Jim, Jim…..I’m sure when congress finds out there will be requests…Nay! DEMANDS for bemedalled Pentagonians to provide background….

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Dozens of soldiers.

      They could do that by opening up a new consulate, with soldiers there to protect the robot consul.

  10. a different chris

    Don’t you love that a guy with a $49mil contract, whose job does not involve any physicality at all, even has employer-provided health insurance? Give me a break.

    1. voteforno6

      Doesn’t involve any physicality? I don’t know about that…he puts himself through some pretty torturous contortions when he claims that football isn’t inherently dangerous.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s a juggling act, you have to act as if CTE hardly exists, when after they saw through every NFL player’s noggin posthaste, it’s like a smear on the game-the telltale sign, but hey after seeing the oh so over the top “Salute To Service” dog and pony show yesterday, they are our chosen gladiators for homefront consumption, warriors that often struggle to string 7 words together in a sentence, but a 4.2 forty allows you to overlook their shortcomings off field.

    2. savedbyirony

      And the NFL, unlike the NBA and MLB, is notorious for ungaranteed contracts. Plus, i think the number of years a person needs to play to become fully vested in any form of players’ retirement plan is such that, due to the violence and injuries of the game, many players never qualify for any substantial funds/healthcare in later life.

  11. michael hudson

    I’m afraid the article on Rome is quite silly and tunnel-visioned. It ignores the class war of creditors against debtors (won by the creditors by a century of political assassination and violence). And more important, all fortunes (viz. Trimalchio) were spent on LAND — and getting clients into debt.
    The author pretends to describe Joel Mokr’s view of culture. But my introductory essay in the volume that Mokr et al. published on Entrepreneurs (Princeton), I describe why Rome DID NOT grow, for the above reasons.

        1. Anon

          Better take a look at online library catalog in your fair city. That link is to the Princeton Press and the book is a princely $45.

  12. Tom

    Expect to see and hear more from Biden — his book tour begins today with a media blitz — he’ll appear on all four hours of NBC’s “Today” this morning and then follow it with a chaser appearance on Colbert’s CBS late-night show.

    His book covers how he coped with the loss of his son and the tour will take him to more than 15 cities across the country.

    Interestingly, his tour makes stops in many of the same cities as another book-flogging politician who coyly dismisses another Presidential run — Hillary Clinton.

    So who’s the bigger draw?

    In Seattle, Biden tickets range from $209-$695; Clinton tickets fetch $155-$175.
    Boston: Biden $177-$689; Clinton $121-$395
    Philly: Biden $140-$201; Clinton $175-$225
    D.C.: Biden $55-$672; Clinton $55-$75

    To be fair about Hillary’s D.C. prices, NBC reported that resale outlets and Craigslist sellers were getting $150 for mediocre seats, while resellers were getting up to $895 for up-close seats.

    Also, Biden is just starting his tour and there’s no news on what kind of tickets sales he’s enjoying. Most news articles about Clinton’s tour note sell-out or near sell-out crowds.

    1. dearieme

      “Most news articles about Clinton’s tour note sell-out or near sell-out crowds.” Maybe they hope to see her having another seizure.

      1. Yves Smith

        Hate to tell you, but I went to the Barnes & Noble to buy the Brazile book Hack. I asked how it was selling. They gave me the first three day sales figures for that store and volunteered that Clinton’s book was their top seller.

        1. John k

          What are the hack numbers?

          I find the Clinton cult puzzling. Which of her positions inspire them? Confront Russia? Never, ever? Wall Street connections?
          The representation of credentialism?
          I assume it can’t be pantsuits?

        2. JohnnyGL

          You’re in NYC, Yves. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a top seller there.

          Lambert’s Acela corridor is the heart of the Clintonite base of support.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Clinton’s book has been on the bestseller shelf at our local indy bookstore for a while now. I’d thought it might be a national “bestseller” due to the DNC or some other political organization buying up copies but when I asked one of the women behind the counter, to my surprise she said it had actually been selling very well locally.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Middle aged to late middle aged women. There is a subset among us who have fixed on Hillary as their ideal. Most are fairly productive, moderately successful, hard working….. and rigidly obedient to certain social norms. Norms I don’t disagree with actually; I like theirs better than the virtue-signaling norms of the stay-at-home-schooling fundamentalist hyper-Christians who couldn’t run an elementary school (or small office, or government branch office, etc) to save their lives. But, they are very fond of finger-wagging, mommy knows best condescension. (At 56 I find it simultaneously amusing and annoying when pinch-lipped 46 year olds try that stuff on me, for being a ‘Berniebro’).

          They legitimately hate it when a snotty, rule-breaking slob like Trump wins out over the lady who always worked hard and made it look like she was obeying “the rules”. They are pretty willfully ignorant of the ‘make it look like’ part of Clinton’s shtick.

          1. Arizona Slim

            And it isn’t like they aren’t old enough to remember the boorish behavior of one Lyndon Baines Johnson. The guy showed the world his gall bladder surgery scar and you would have thought that he flashed his [family blog].

            Then there was that notorious incident where Johnson picked one of his beagles up by the ears. Big uproar over that one.

            I could go on, but you get the idea. Trump is not the first rude -n- crude guy to occupy the White House.

          2. Bill

            made it look like she was obeying “the rules”.

            chief among the rules was riding on the coattails and enabling her abusive hubby. There is a cult among the rich wives who do this “look the other way and assail the accuser” stuff and HRC would be a heroine to them for sure. They get their lifestyle and don’t have to f*ck their husbands.

          3. kareninca

            “the stay-at-home-schooling fundamentalist hyper-Christians who couldn’t run an elementary school (or small office, or government branch office, etc) to save their lives”

            How do you know they couldn’t? This just sounds like bigotry. Zen nuns don’t run government offices (at least certain varieties don’t), but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t. Neither do certain sorts of Orthodox Jews, male or female. Would you say the same thing about them? I know evangelical Christian women who are extremely competent. Just because a person choses not to do something, doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it. I don’t drive a SUV but I presume I could; I have reasons not to.

    2. Steve H.

      Our 17-year old cat stopped eating about a week ago. She’s been a howler with a scream for cream, and it’s been nice to have peace in the morning. She’s in no distress and been doing very contented meatloafing, still has energy, but she’s now thin in the back where she warn’t before. All that cream put on layers that she’s been living off of, but there will come a point where the change is terminal.

      I just finished Mercola’s ‘Fat for Fuel’ this morning, and with some adjustment for interspecies differences, the contentment makes great sense. High fat diets and fasting states allow the body to run on ketones, and brains work even better, a clarity from using clean fuel. I’ve gotten better at fasting, recognizing the hunger moments as an old friend encouraging me. You have to be attentive, stay hydrated and replace micronutrients that wash out, but the gains include not spending the time catering to the urges that led me to obesity in the first place.

      So I applaud the excision of funds from the wallets of those who would pay these prices. As the philosopher said, “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.” In this case the cocaine is proximity to an entity who cares no more about them than a mound of powder would. Watching Brazile shamanically wrapping herself in the skin of the carcass of the Democratic Party means she thinks value can still be extracted, but she is also thrashing with an inter-elite competition quality chainsaw, like maybe not so much and she needs to kick the other chicks out of the nest before the tree comes down. (It’s not a mexed mitaphor if you think about it…)

      I also totally support Biden’s run at the White House. His student loan legislation cost my family tens of thousands of dollars, and I think the campus tour would provide a 21st century level of both education and entertainment as the students come to understand what the guy standing in front of them has already done unto them. We have film of both W and the female Clintons ducking from audience participation, Biden deserves to be in the frame with them.

      1. MichaelSF

        I hope your kitty is just going through a temporary phase, and has many more years left to share with you!

        1. Steve H.

          Thank you for your consideration. We’ve had many creatures, and a few have been inspirational in their passing. This was my daughters cat before her daughter was born, and her previous critter was a dog named Beauty who wasn’t really, but waited until she came home for the first time in about a year and died quietly and happily in her arms. Equinamity is better than the alternatives.

      2. Hana M

        Steve, you really need to get your cat to the vet. A sudden loss of appetite and weight loss is not a good sign. I lost my dear 17 year old cat to kidney failure four months ago. She had these same signs.

    3. audrey jr

      How much do Clinton and Biden charge to just shutup and go away? I’ll find a way to get that money to them!

  13. dearieme

    “Two officials: liberal Democrat icons Brennan (torturer) and Clapper (perjurer).”

    A torturer is not necessarily a liar. Maybe a liberal Democrat icon is, though.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    Excellent post from Ilargi called Tax Them Till They Bleed, particularly this bit from a Medium article called How Economics Failed the Economy:

    “When, in the 1930s, the great economist Simon Kuznets created GDP, he deliberately left two industries out of this then novel, revolutionary idea of a national income : finance and advertising. [..] Kuznets logic was simple, and it was not mere opinion, but analytical fact: finance and advertising don’t create new value, they only allocate, or distribute existing value in the same way that a loan to buy a television isn’t the television, or an ad for healthcare isn’t healthcare. They are only means to goods, not goods themselves.
    If we do what Kuznets originally suggested, and subtract finance and advertising from GDP, what does that picture -a picture of the economy as it actually is reveal? Well, since the lion’s share of growth, more than 50% every year, comes from finance and advertising -whether via Facebook or Google or Wall St and hedge funds and so on- we would immediately see that the economic growth that the US has chased so desperately, so furiously, never actually existed at all.

    Growth itself has only been an illusion, a trick of numbers, generated by including what should have been left out in the first place.”

    “Allocation” is no substitute for production, and we are seeing the devastating economic stagnation that results from pretending that it is play out before our very eyes. While we pat ourselves on our collective backs for how well we’re doing. A few of “us,” anyway.

    Now this would be “tax reform.”

    1. fresno dan

      Katniss Everdeen
      November 13, 2017 at 9:52 am

      WOW!!! Some profound stuff. I have thought for a while that the people who “make” money, manage money, manipulate money are GETTING all the money. AND control of the very rules of society that funnel more and more of the stuff, and the services of actual value and necessity to themselves and less and less to everyone else.
      But its not like getting all this money is meaningless or without consequence – however you get the money, its only people who have money who get adequate health care, a decent place to live, and a life of dignity and respect.

      Kuznets logic was simple, and it was not mere opinion, but analytical fact: finance and advertising don’t create new value, they only allocate, or distribute existing value …..

      funny (no its not) where all the money is being distributed to….
      as I say, maybe finance and advertising isn’t adding value, but it certainly is ALLOCATING value

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Karl Denninger repeatedly contends that there are only three ways to “grow” an economy–manufacture something, mine something or grow something (agriculture.) In other words, make the pie bigger by adding to it. I would agree.

        To the extent that practitioners of economics insist on being considered “scientists,” they, and the discipline they practice, must be willing to make the specific distinction between economic “activity” (churn) and actual expansion.

        Makes you kinda wonder what they’re really saying when they declare, “Those jobs are never coming back.” I’d guess it’s a warning–neither is the “economy,” but joe biden is running for prez and he knows how to talk to the workin’ man so it’s all good.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It looks proud, standing there.

        The cat, though, looks like it’s ready to taunt and bully the Silkie: “What’s the matta? You look scared. Are you chicken or something?”

    1. Bill

      I fainted from the cuteness overload;_ylt=AwrB8pQQ4QlaPHwA.0YunIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBsZ29xY3ZzBHNlYwNzZWFyY2gEc2xrA2J1dHRvbg–;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTE5NTY5NARfcgMyBGFjdG4DY2xrBGJjawNkdTZqMW81ZDBqaDI1JTI2YiUzRDMlMjZzJTNEMjAEY3NyY3B2aWQDSlIuZHdERXdMakhmR21IQldnbkVSUUhPTVRRd0xnQUFBQUEuZV82SgRmcgN5aHMtbW96aWxsYS0wMDEEZnIyA3NhLWdwBGdwcmlkA2VFdG10SlNuUkxlWFI1ZlVhb1hpdEEEbXRlc3RpZANudWxsBG5fc3VnZwMxMARvcmlnaW4DaW1hZ2VzLnNlYXJjaC55YWhvby5jb20EcG9zAzEEcHFzdHIDU2lsa2llIENoaWNrZW4gBHBxc3RybAMxNQRxc3RybAMyMwRxdWVyeQNzaWxraWUgY2hpY2tlbiBwaWN0dXJlcwR0X3N0bXADMTUxMDU5Njk0OQR2dGVzdGlkA251bGw-?gprid=eEtmtJSnRLeXR5fUaoXitA&pvid=JR.dwDEwLjHfGmHBWgnERQHOMTQwLgAAAAA.e_6J&p=silkie+chicken+pictures&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&

  15. Wukchumni

    “But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version.”~ Eric Blair

  16. fresno dan

    At 21.5%, the “Trump Bump” pales versus Bill Clinton’s second-term 12-month run of 33.1%. FDR topped Trump twice, in 1932 (30.6%) and 1944 (30.7%). Kennedy also beat the current president, with 27% after his 1960 win. Stocks also partied more after Barack Obama’s 2012 win, rising 24.4%. The 22.2% gain following Bush-I’s win barely edged out Trump. Yet no one talked about the great George H.W. Bush stock market rally!
    To truly see that the rise in stocks isn’t a “Trump rally,” look globally. If the president is so bullish, American stocks should be leading the world, but they aren’t. Of 23 developed nations, U.S. stock market returns rank 17th at 17.6% in 2017. Nice! But not as nice as Austria’s 51.5%, Denmark’s 30.4%, Spain’s 25% or Germany’s 26.8%. America lags scads of developing countries too. Poland’s 50.9%, China’s 28.4% and India’s 33.2% haven’t anything to do with the president. Is Trump why South Korean stocks are up 45.8%, beating almost everyone? Funny!
    WE’RE NUMBER 17!!! WE’RE NUMBER 17!!

  17. JTMcPhee

    Maybe recast the “Mind the Gap” piece as “Mine the Gap”?

    Where is the definition laid down of what constitutes a decent sustainable survivable community? Seems the author assumes that less-regulated, less-cost-burdened individuals and “small businesses” would result in Good and Better, for the “community.” Always the argument against regulation, isn’t it? And yes, there’s too much gamed and Iron Law of Institutions intrusion into “the economy,” but unfortunately a lot of it occurs because there are always bandits just ready to jam into any cracks in the “legal” social system. Uber, anyone? Walmart? But at much smaller scales too, in my little experience.

    There ain’ no agreement on “how humans ought to live,” last time I checked. Those who can figure out how to loot, do so. Same with those who figure out how to oppress. Even the Great Commandment that expresses in almost every religion, the “Golden Rule” thing about treating others as one would want to be treated, gets lip service occasionally but gets totally violated at retail and wholesale in all our species’ complex interactions. Without some broadly agreed and enforceable organizing principle making decency and comity obligatory, all that stuff, those appealing anecdotes about how buildings that might be re-purposed by “entrepreneurs” are left to rot, seems to me just the Libertarian apology given some glossy attractiveness via touching examples. For what it’s worth, archaeologists spend years digging in and around buildings that have lost their functions and gone to rot, rack and ruin. Given the looting that is the principle axis of “the world economy,” with open invitations to all of us to join in if we have the “right stuff,” what great change would be wrought by even concerted efforts at “deregulation,” which have worked so “well” (/s) in other areas?

    “We” as far as I can see are never going to achieve any kind of broad decency and comity and commensalism at any level of the political economy. “We,” or at least way too many of “us” who are social pathogens of many different sorts, from CEOs and “Fat Albert” Generals down to peons and privates grabbing a little when they see their opportunities, don’t have it in us.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      As I walk along Main Street admiring the empty store fronts I can easily conclude something’s not right. I sincerely hope we can find some “…kind of broad decency and comity and commensalism …” in our communities and polity. It’s hard to think this is the best of all possible worlds [that formula can too easily work for pessimists too].

    2. Oregoncharles

      It’s an example of the trap of regulation. For one thing, it’s easily captured by the largest players with the deepest pockets – the piece is perfectly clear about that; It becomes a way to keep out small-scale competition. There is also the Law of Unintended Consequences (there always are some), plus the peculiarities of bureaucracy.

      It’s a problem I’ve thought about for a long time. The hippies were against building codes, because they wanted to do creative stuff on the cheap. And a lot of zoning was just plain wrong. But Stewart Brand, of the Whole Earth Catalogue, eventually came around about codes; they protect the next person to deal with the property, just as the codes and regulation the article talks about protect the bystanders and passersby – but at a substantial cost.

      I can think of a number of approaches to a remedy: (1) an office whose job it is to keep track of the cumulative effect of regulations, to insure they don’t become self-defeating; (2) a somewhat different philosophy of law, in which the avowed purpose of legislation (for instance, best use of city properties) can overrule specific provisions that defeat it; (3) discrimination against large players, so that only they are held to all the provisions; (4) priorities: even though I’m a landscaper, I think handicapped access is more important than plantings. For one thing, the plantings shown just aren’t that great. Routine to the point of ugly. And incidentally, drought-resistant and/or native plants don’t cost any more than thirsty ones, but they cost a lot less to maintain.

      Oregon was a land-use pioneer, but Oregon law says that property owners can’t be denied use of the property without purchasing it. That sometimes requires comppromises. Ultimately, a good land-use and code system depends on citizen input into its application. It’s only as good as your planning commission and council.

  18. Elizabeth Burton

    Ah, those silly people at the NY Times—trust them to frame that glass plant story as an example of how workers aren’t really interested in joining those nasty unions.

    For another, more worker-centric version of the tale:

    For those short of time, the UAW has been rejected twice in as many months by workers uninterested in their incestuous relationship with the auto industry. The support for unionization is there. They just aren’t interested in signing on with one that’s clearly sold out.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The UAW does indeed seem more like an extension of the Corporation than anything which might be called a labor union.

      With all the calls for marching in the streets — now essentially illegal — what about old-fashioned sit-down strikes? They were made illegal in the 1930s but seemed to work pretty well. What about old style picket lines instead of the tightly controlled picket theater? And what happened to wild-cat strikes and “wooden shoes”?

      Perhaps the controls from above have succeeded in clamping down on us. I remember reading passages of what I recall as the Patriot Act which contained verbiage easily construed to classify many old style union actions as terrorism and our military police forces seem inclined to be more aggressive than old-style bully boys and Pinkertons.

  19. fresno dan

    Narrow network plans are cheaper, and insurers say they try to maintain quality as they narrow the choices they cover. Some appear to succeed, but some don’t, and that’s hard to fully assess before you sign up.

    It’s virtually impossible to thoroughly check the quality of doctors in each insurance plan. A typical plan, even a narrow one, may have a network of hundreds or thousands of physicians. It is a potentially simpler task just to know if you’re enrolling in a narrow or broad network plan. But in a study of Obamacare enrollees, for example, as many as 40 percent didn’t know this information, either.

    That confusion is understandable. A study of 2016 marketplace offerings in 13 states found that only two provided indications of network size. Eight of them, as well as, provided a way to look up whether a doctor was in a plan’s network, but only two could filter plans to show only those with providers a consumer selects.
    Long story short (with the caveat that we are only talking that I have just a few months experience helping people choose medicare health plans, and we’re not talking 8 hours a day, 5 days a week that I do this) but the medicare enrolled I see who have serious, complex, or extensive health issues always, if they have enrolled in medicare advantage plans, go back to original medicare.
    They all complain that their doctor is no longer in the plan, and even if the plan doctor is OK, that primary doctor is still switched frequently.

    1. Bill

      Yes! An “efficiency expert” went through my practice (before any of us knew that another organization was taking it over) and my PC doc left, then every time I had an appt, the doc I had an appt with was gone. When there was no one left I knew, the new “owner” was in place and I fled. This may not be the same thing you are referring to above, but something drastic was happening inside the network. I went to a non-hospital practice and so far so good. fingers crossed

  20. Burritonomics

    Re:Waymo’s fully self-driving vehicles are here

    The money quote included makes me shudder. “Access” to cars instead of ownership (just like healthcare! Doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it, you have access!) and people get to “experience” technology. Just as long as they don’t own anything, and get to pay rent to a middleman, right? The future is here!

        1. Alfred

          I think the real ‘selling point’ is the ability to go at anytime, rather than at times determined by some schedule. Of course, this point is largely illusory since ‘private vehicles’ almost inevitably travel on shared roadways, and hence are subject to jams. One may indeed leave in a private vehicle (‘access to departure’) whenever one wants, but it is much harder to guarantee getting there (‘access to arrival’) at a specific time after traveling at some desired speed. But illusion is what sells. Reality is what one buys. Ownership is obfuscation.

      1. Chris

        I’ll chime in. My household has two petrol cars and a motor scooter. All require parking spaces at my home and parking when we go to work and out otherwise.
        The bike has less than 1 per cent time utilisation, 99 per cent its parked. The two cars are probably around 4 percent – 96 per cent of time, they are parked and not being used.
        These are the arbitrage opportunities, and they are huge – time, parking spaces and cost of ownership.
        In the future, all vehicles will be electric and it won’t make any sense at all to own one. We own and drive cars for convenience, but what if you could summon a cab and have one within a minute. Take you to work, shops, pub, wherever and when you get there, you don’t have to park and pay for your parking experience…
        See where I am going with this.
        The Victorian government just voted to allow trials of driverless vehicles on their roads.

        They are coming, its inevitable, and we will give over the road network. And all the current parking spaces in our cities can then be repurpossed and garages converted into living spaces.
        The rich? They’ll be up in the sky riding in something like’s contraption – no slow driverless cars for them and they won’t need a pilot. And, so that congestion doesn’t become an issue, and the right sort of people get to fly, ‘slots’ will be rationed and auctioned to highest bidders.
        Think I’ll even get to see in my lifetime, that’s if the climate doesn’t wipe us all out in the interim.

  21. JohnnyGL

    Shorter version of Bernie op-ed:

    “Corporate owned Dem party hacks. You are proven losers. People hate you so much that they’re voting for Republicans and they hate all Republican policies. Open up and let normal people come in and take over so they can save you from yourselves. Oh, and scrap the f-ing superdelegates.”

      1. GF

        The Dems could save real money by foregoing the presidential primary and selecting the DNC choice since no one else can win the primary because – super delegates.

      2. Daryl

        The owner of the Washington Generals, who lost a couple thousand games to the Harlem Globetrotters, always claimed that they were playing serious basketball and trying to win…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If they were a married couple, most people would say, get a divorce… irreconcilable differences.

      Given they are already separated now – one left the party to become an Independent (again) – maybe that’s the thing to do.

      How long can the suffering spouse continue with merely verbal insulting (or truth telling) of ‘You loser. You two timer?”

      1. JohnnyGL

        Okay, but if we’re going with this analogy….. This is like a divorce before they loosened up the laws governing divorce and before women were allowed into the workplace (this is the straight jacket of the two party system) and divorce means the abused spouse is stuck in poverty.

        Since divorce isn’t an option….it’s time the abused spouse gets a can of gasoline and a lighter and threatens to torch the house and the car. Since, of course, violence seems to be the only thing abusers often seem to understand????

        Why should progressives/socialists be stuck doing the leg work of building a new party from scratch? Let’s take the corporatists out of power and make them start their own party.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The value, real wealth, of a nation is its people.

          The value or real wealth of a party is its members.

          When the members leave, they take the value with it…however poorer they become as a result of the divorce. The abusing spouse gets to keep whatever is left and is more likely to be stuck in poverty.

          And we ask not who is doing how much or fair shre, but we do what is needed, whether we’re stuck doing something from scratch or not.

  22. Bill

    such an adorable pair in the antidote.
    Re: the odd things I’ve seen: I am struck by the fact that in my modest lifetime (60+) I have been able to commute in a “vehicle” many times without having to drive, and been able to amuse myself as I chose during the commute. The difference is, I suppose, I was not in a “private” car. I recall that some people don’t want to mingle with the “help”–i.e. the masters of the universe don’t want to ride the same train as Maria. I just have to laugh as people more and more try to isolate themselves from the deplorables (and tipping)

  23. fresno dan

    Black Rifle Coffee Co. (BRCC) calls itself the “premium conservative coffee company,” selling coffee blends, monthly-coffee-club subscriptions, and java-centric apparel and gear. The company has made its name by aggressively opposing what BRCC calls “anti-American” messages that dominate the coffee industry.
    BRCC coffees include roasts such as “F— Hipster Coffee,” “Silencer Smooth,” and “Better Than a Blowj–” (which isn’t currently available).

    Outside of coffee, customers can buy a “Make Coffee Great Again” hat or gear with semiautomatic rifles printed on them.
    Dude…..maybe you should make your second cup decaf…..

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I couldn’t find F— Hipster Coffee on their site — and their markups are horrendous especially for gear and mugs. It’s a cute novelty concept but I was a little disappointed in the text that went with each coffee blend. Also — it wasn’t clear that the text went on the back of the coffee bag or on a card or something to complete the concept.

  24. fresno dan

    In a little-noticed but significant move by the Trump administration, the United States has begun construction on its first military base within Israel.
    Is that merely a dejure versus defacto distinction?

    And who knows how the mind works – for some strange reason the scene in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” comes to mind where William Hurt asks Raul Julia for a kiss, as it is the only homosexual act they haven’t done….

  25. Altandmain

    Reading that article about Roman industrialization, a few things stand out to me:

    1. Capitalism is not at all conducive to innovation because capitalism strives to create a labour surplus and to use that to drive down wages. I think that the Michal Kalecki point about capitalists sacrificing profits for relative wealth and dominance needs to be repeated.

    2. The use of mass immigration in the US, often displacing working class Americans is effectively a modern substitute for slavery because it creates a labour surplus and Karl Marx’s Reserve Army of the Unemployed. H1Bs and other visas play a similar role.

    3. As NC has documented, slavery is still widespread in much of the world. Many of the jobs that have been outsourced from the developed world are outsourced to nations that pay very poor wages and have terrible work conditions. This is not likely to create a shortage of labour.

    4. What jobs do exist for Americans are increasingly precarious. They are temporary jobs, low wage jobs, and often don’t pay benefits. This is a far cry from the post WW2 era of defined benefits for many jobs. Layoffs are also common.

    5. Most corporations are not striving to innovate. When they have money, they either hoard it or use it on stock buybacks. Notice what they don’t do. They don’t spend massive sums of money on research and development, capital investments, employee training, or anything likely to create real innovation. Actually much of the innovation comes from public taxpayer investment more than anything else.

    5. What all companies aspire to do is to become a monopoly. From there they can seek economic rent. They also tend to create artificial barriers to entry. A good example is the pharmaceutical industry trying to lobby for longer patents or the notorious Mikey Mouse copyright laws.

    I think that the best innovation the US did largely happened in the early days of the Cold War. This was due to a wakeup call from Sputnik, massive public investment, and the fact that the New Deal had restrained the worst of capitalism.

    1. Altandmain

      Another matter worth noting is that capitalists vocally oppose any serious efforts at creating real full employment for that labor shortage.

      This would likely involve a second New Deal, major Keynesian stimulus, and at the very least, a social democracy. Economic would require a mainstream adoption of MMT, and I would argue Michael Hudson’s economic ideas too.

      It would also mean addressing the loss of manufacturing and the current account deficit.

      Equally important, absent of MMT, many high net worth individuals hide their money in tax havens, as do corporations, as the recent Paradise Papers revealed. This deprives the public sector of money that could be used for research, infrastructure, and a social safety net that mitigates the worst aspects of capitalism.

      I’m forced to conclude that capitalism may be a very big liability for innovation. The big innovations of the Cold War as I noted were caused by a temporary restraining of the worst aspects of capitalism. They are back now.

    2. Bill

      Capitalism is dependent on wide-spread agreement that a particular widget is necessary, and worthy of wage enslavement to. There is so much crap in the world that put food on people’s tables. Not that I want people to starve.

  26. Louis

    The People’s Policy Project piece on single-payer could almost be a conservative trolling in disguise. Assuming it’s not a case of trolling, the piece unintentionally shows why single-payer isn’t taken seriously by more people.

    (1) Single payer is not free. Even if it’s free at the point of use (i.e. going to the doctor) the money to fund it still has to come from somewhere

    (2) While everyone may be covered there is no guarantee you’ll get the same coverage as rich people. No healthcare arrangement or system can pay for every possible treatment for every possible person. In other words, every system—be it private insurance or single-payer—has to say “no” some of the time. A single-payer system could be an improvement over what we have now; the assumption that single-payer be equal to or better than the best insurance policies out there is highly questionable.

  27. ewmayer

    “How to Fix the Democratic Party Bernie Sanders, Politico” — The only way such a proposal makes any sense to me is if “fix” is used as it pertains to household pets, i.e. as a euphemism for “neuter”.

  28. audrey jr

    I have observed that a growing number of corporations are signing up to use prison labor. I believe that is why we have allowed private prisons to proliferate; TPTB love nothing more than to be able to make profit and pay little to no wages to workers so that prison labor is now their go-to solution for having to – gasp – pay wages for work performed/completed.
    This is the real reason why private prison corporations have a population mandate in their state/federal contracts. This would also feed into the aggressive police arrest/hassle everyone mode as they are probably told that, “We must have x number of prisoners in this state, per our contract, so you need to go out there among the general population and make sure that those numbers are met/exceeded.”
    We need to have a major general strike in this country and bring it all to a standstill and we need to do away with these two political parties who do nothing but the “Massa’s” bidding. At going on 60 years under this yoke I, for one, am chomping at the bit to get ‘er done.

    1. Summer

      It’s the slave labor that is still enshrined in the US Constitution. And even governments, both sides of the duopoly, are using prison labor.

  29. John k

    Calpers is asking members to vote in a runoff election.
    Does Nc have a position?
    I am a non voting recipient, but offer suggestions to some that are entitled to vote.

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