Links 11/23/17

Happy Turkey Day! I hope those of you in the US get some R&R and better yet, have some fun too.

World’s best cheese is revealed Yahoo (furzy)

Thanksgiving Travelers Smash Records OilPrice

Turkey farmers facing squeeze after Trump kills agriculture rules Politico

Light pollution: Night being lost in many countries BBC

Bitcoin Mining Now Consuming More Electricity Than 159 Countries Including Ireland & Most Countries In Africa PowerCompare (Michael Olenick)

Hairy situation: DC’s rail system may be taken down by human shedding ars technica (JTM)

You can’t love mass immigration and hate expensive infrastructure MacroBusiness

Smart cities might not be such a bright idea Financial Times

‘Looting’ spree threatens wildlife and forests across eastern Europe Guardian. JTM:

It’s not nice to pile on, I know, and I think it’s frowned on to talk directly about how f***ed we and the planet we afflict are, but really now… And even a lot of posters and commenters are now all “Woe is us! Why didn’t we avoid global catastrophe when we could?” Except for the ones who are all “Nothing to see” and “keep on keeping on” and “We can Tech our way out of this, no sweat!” Futilitarianism is a comforting religion for those who can grok it…

Wir kann night anders…

Choice of tipple ‘determines different moods’ BBC (Chuck L). IMHO, this reflect the power of marketing

The Root of All Cruelty? New Yorker (furzy)

How Canada is dominating the field of sexuality research Globe and Mail (Chuck L)

How Alzheimer’s emerged from the shadows Financial Times. See also movies like Away fro Her.

Brexit

Philip Hammond to set aside £3B more for Brexit preparations Politico

Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London New York Times. We pointed out long ago that 10% of NHS doctors and 5% of nurses are EU immigrants.

London seeks protection for legal services after Brexit Financial Times

Brussels takes aim at Britain’s budget rebate in Brexit talks Politico. Hoo boy. Also confirms a point we’ve been making: “And with the EU demanding a formula, not a total price-tag, the key to a deal is agreeing on the U.K.’s share of EU budget costs — past and future.”

Brexit: Battle over Irish border threatens EU-UK trade talks Financial Times

« Non, le Brexit n’est pas que l’expression du nationalisme anglais » Le Monde

Catalonia crisis disrupts Spain’s recovery Financial Times

Syraqistan

Gen. Ratko Mladic Was Convicted of Siege Warfare in Bosnia. Will the U.S.-Backed Siege in Yemen Face Justice? Intercept (resilc)

Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot Counterpunch

Translated Doc Debunks Narrative of Al Qaeda-Iran “Alliance” American Conservative (resilc)

Drums Along the Euphrates TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis

American mercenaries’ are torturing Saudi princes Daily Mail (resilc)

ABBAS ADVISER TO JPOST: CONTACTS WITH US CONSULATE, VISITING AMERICAN OFFICIALS ARE FROZEN Jerusalem Post (resilc)

Report: Abbas refused Kushner’s phone call following decision to sever ties with Washington – Palestinians Haaretz (furzy)

On The Destabilization Of The Middle East Lobe Log (resilc)

New Cold War

Facebook opens special ‘Russia portal’ to help safeguard US democracy RT (Kevin W)

These Are the Ads Russia Bought on Facebook in 2016 New York Times. UserFriendly: “WOW these totally flipped the election /s.​”

Google’s Eric Schmidt admits political censorship of search results WSWS (Randy K)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

No, you’re not being paranoid. Sites really are watching your every move ars technica (BC). Lambert features a related story in WC.

Uber Hid 2016 Breach, Paying Hackers to Delete Stolen Data New York Times. Bill B:

Wow! *Not a peep* about Amazon Web Services, which is arguably the larger
story. Witness the parade of breaches:

For example, an NGA contractor from Booz leaves a load of agency
intelligence in a S3 bucket.
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/05/defense-contractor-stored-intelligence-data-in-amazon-cloud-unprotected/

Then a group of quants hired by the GOP leak data on 200 million voters.
http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/19/technology/voter-data-leaked-online-gop/index.html

And finally someone finds a Pentagon stockpile of social media intel.
http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/17/technology/centcom-data-exposed/index.html

People used to fear that men in black would come and steal their computers.
Now people are giving them both the data and the OS is rode in on.

Russian criminals suspected of hacking Uber users’ accounts The Times

Net Neutrality

If Portugal is a net neutrality nightmare, we’re already living in it The Verge (Kevin W)

FCC explains why public support for net neutrality won’t stop repeal ars technica

Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York Attorney General says Washington Post

Trump Transition

Jamie Dimon thinks Trump is a one term President Business Insider. Resilc: “Advised Democrats to come up with a pro-free enterprise platform…”

New York’s Trump SoHo hotel to drop ‘Trump’ brand Financial Times

Is Trump Sabotaging Police on Purpose? New York Magazine (resilc)

Can Republicans Stem the Tide of Women Abandoning the GOP? Atlantic

Tax “Reform”

House Republicans plan to eliminate the $250 tax deduction for teachers Washington Post (resilc)

Sex in Politics…Not!

RRoy Moore’s Communications Director Resigns New York Magazine (resilc)

Trump, Senate GOP at odds over Roy Moore The Hill

Editorial: U.S. Rep. John Conyers must resign Detroit Free Press (BC)

GOP rep apologizes for lewd photo shared on Twitter The Hill.

The Great American Sex Panic of 2017 Counterpunch (tongorad)

Sexual Allegations Against Jordan Chariton And Need For Due Process Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

The Culture Is Changing, With Feminist Cheese New York Times. Resilc: “Both in North Carolina and Vermont I see loads of female small farmers.”

Keystone pipeline spill sends oil prices higher Financial Times. BC: “Read the comments too.”

Norway’s $35B Oil Stock Dump Could Hurt The Industry OilPrice

The Toxic Chemical Industry Is Having a Really Great Year New Republic (resilc)

Thank Record-High Stock Prices for a Flattening U.S. Yield Curve Bloomberg

Fed officials fear financial market ‘imbalances’ and possibility of ‘sharp reversal’ in prices CNBC

Portrait of the Con Artist as a Stung Man Daily Kanban. (Matthew K) Overview: “Rolling Stone’s recent profile of Elon Musk revealed Mr. Musk’s plans to shape the world. But much more than this it revealed how the world has shaped Mr. Musk. The panegyric to this man of genius without limit is more the portrait of the con artist as a stung man.”

America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning Bloomberg (Gabriel U)

Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs Wall Street Journal. But the alternative is “the cloud”.

An Interview With James Howard Kunstler American Conservative (resilc)

Class Warfare

Millions of Patients Face Pain and Withdrawal as Opioid Prescriptions Plummet Bloomberg

Apple only wants to put its stores where white people live The Outline (Chuck L). I am sure the same is true of Whole Foods.

The death of the MBA Axios. When I was a kid, the second-tier MBA programs didn’t do all thast much for your earnings potential, but they cost much less, and would open up career options. The problem was that MBAs successfully expanded their natural market to include not for profits, hospitals, and higher education, ruining all in the process. So the bubble is finally ending, but the damage will be very hard to reverse.

How to Face the Housing Crisis in Expensive Cities Wolf Street (EM)

Delaware’s Odd, Beautiful, Contentious, Private Utopia Reason (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. GLM:

This is Zoey Oatmeal. She was an Australian shepherd and passed away Friday, 11-17-17.

She was only nine and it was very sudden. She was a beautiful creature and too smart to serve in Congress.

I thought it would be nice to share her memory.

And for Thanksgiving:

turkey links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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159 comments

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Truly sorry to hear that.

      Life is fragile and suddenly she was gone. One of my cats went that way. Another suffered a little longer.

      Reply
  1. Christopher Fay

    Thanks an extra big helping of Links on Thanksgiving day, thanks. I’m going to enjoy some extra “Looting Spree” and “Portrait of the Artist as a Strung Man”

    Reply
  2. Marco

    We’re all human and make horrible mistakes but anyone who would marry Monica “Shrek” Conyers needs to go. Good riddance. Let’s just hope the billionaire pizza families don’t replace him with a corporatist douche-nozzle.

    Reply
      1. Procopius

        Then why did they (we) get such an atrocious governor? I’m sorry to say I was at fault, too. I didn’t take care to inform myself and vote, and I’m just lucky that I have such a great Representative and such excellent Senators.

        Reply
  3. Clive

    I wish we had Thanksgiving Day. We have to go all the way from the “Late Summer Bank Holiday” (last Monday in August) right the way thru’ until Christmas Day without any public holidays. About this time of year, that starts to seem like a long stretch.

    Perhaps it’s something we could import? If you guys can sell us Starbucks coffee, that’s proof positive we’ll buy anything off you.

    Enjoy the break one and all.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      yeah due to the vagaries of Easter, we end up with (arguably) too many bank holidays within an 8 week period in April/May when one at least could be moved to the Autumn.

      Reply
        1. el_tel

          Yeah the “seasonal aisle” in local supermarkets go straight from Halloween, into Bonfire Night (inasmuch as they can being prohibited from selling “proper fireworks”) and Christmas. Ugh

          Reply
          1. Clive

            I boycott any and all Christmas-related paraphernalia and seasonal tat until the first week in December at the earliest. And even then, I only look out of necessity.

            Despite retailers’ attempts at jollying me along, it has the reverse effect and merely makes me wistful about Christmases when I was a kid that definitely didn’t begin until mid-December.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Aaaaarghhhh!!!!!
              Christmas ‘music’ in the stores has begun already!
              I want to play a ‘punk’ christmas album over the store sound system soooo bad.

              Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I’m showing my ‘geezer’ side here, but, I remember as a tiddler in America eagerly awaiting Grandads’ ‘Christmas Package’ from London arriving a week before Christmas. Sent by sea mail!!! Back numbers of the ‘Lion’ and ‘Eagle’ with full colour front page Dan Dare paintings; the Dan Dare artwork was really that good. Malteesers! Allsorts! Marmite! (I still love that stuff,) and the chocolate. The poor Americans don’t know what good chocolate is. Is it any wonder England went on an orgy of empire building? With all that sugar coursing through their systems, something had to get done.
                  As for poor Mz Carey, well, at least we’re not having to suffer through the various renditions of “From A Distance.”
                  Happy Holidays!

                  Reply
                  1. Clive

                    Oh, it’s all gone down hill in the chocolate department, I’m sad to say. Once Kraft bought out Cadbury’s the rot well and truly set in. The subsequent transfer to Mondelez only made things worse, if that were possible.

                    Now whole “walls” of the iconic tins of “Roses Chocolates” and “Quality Street” line the foyer of every Asda-Wal*Mart store, threateningly poised to launch an onslaught of palm oil and “fondant centres” on unwary potential purchasers and taunting those of us who are old enough to remember how things used to be.

                    I could weep.

                    Reply
                    1. el_tel

                      Yep. Wish we had imports of Tim-Tams from Australia. Perhaps the first trade deal in a post-BREXIT world to be negotiated? ;-)

                      Soooo full of sugar but divine. When I lived in Sydney I’d have to pack half of one of my cases with them for all the Brits who wanted them. I’d give white chocolate ones to my (then aged 2-6) nephews and became known as “uncle Tim-Tams” (hmmm). Of course I could then disappear whilst they ate them and spent the rest of the day bouncing off the walls. I’m sure my sister cursed me and was glad I returned to Blighty!

                    2. ChrisPacific

                      The same has happened in New Zealand. Thankfully a trusted local company, Whittakers, have stepped up to fill the gap. They are everything that Cadbury used to be and more. They were already on an upward trajectory and Cadbury’s various exercises in self-immolation have only helped them.

                      Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that they export to the UK yet, but if you can find a way to get hold of some I’d highly recommend doing so. They may turn out to be as valuable as prison cigarettes in a post-Brexit economy.

                  2. Mark P.

                    Ambrit wrote: I’m showing my ‘geezer’ side here, but, I remember … back numbers of the ‘Lion’ and ‘Eagle’ with full colour front page Dan Dare paintings; the Dan Dare artwork was really that good.

                    Dan Dare? Eagle? Lion?

                    You’re a geezer.

                    Reply
                    1. ambrit

                      ‘Tempus fugit’ and all that.
                      After forty or so, we enter upon the Plateau of Geezer, where the Horizon of Ra beckons and the Sphinx poses terminal riddles.

                1. lb

                  My go-to Christmas song if I must hear one is Weird Al’s _Christmas at Ground Zero_ (from well before 9/11), an apocalyptic song about nuclear war. It’s upbeat in its own way and off the radar for most people. I figure it’s good thematic material for the commentariat.

                  Reply
              1. Jeremy Grimm

                That would be a great exploit to pull off! With all the happy retail clerks maybe one might provide a little helpful Intel.

                Reply
            2. Ned

              Clive said,

              “I boycott any and all Christmas-related paraphernalia and seasonal tat until the first week in December at the earliest.”

              I boycott all merchants who pretend that Christmas does not exist.

              A Christmas tree and/or decorations or “Merry Christmas” gets my spending. Other merchants? Nope.

              Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      In Ireland the 8th December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) used to be a holiday and a traditional start to Christmas shopping. Dublin used to come to a halt as it was the day country people would all drive to Clery’s department store to do their present shopping. And they all usually tried to park right outside the entrance. Hence Dubliners stayed at home if possible that day.

      Sadly, the holiday is a victim of secularism (just as Clery’s was a victim of private equity), even the schools don’t shut anymore. It would be great to revive it as a secular holiday.

      Reply
      1. Katsue

        At least we do have the October (Halloween) Bank Holiday. I can’t imagine not having a holiday for most of the last four months of the year.

        Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I enjoy it, though I don’t understand the logic and can say I can defend it. This is what I am talking about: When a holiday falls on say, Sunday, we here in the US get Monday off as well.

      So for example, if the Fourth of July is on a Sunday, somehow we don’t get to relax that day, and need the next day off as well. Is that Monday a Sunday, and for some, they go to Church that Monday? Or do we move the celebrating to Monday, the Fifth of July (not that I remember anyone doing that)?

      A lot of businesses will be closed tomorrow. Ours is.

      Reply
  4. Eduardo

    Happy Thanksgiving Day!

    Facebook opens special ‘Russia portal’ to help safeguard US democracy

    Google’s Eric Schmidt admits political censorship of search results

    So now we have internet police to “protect and serve” just like IRL police. I feel safer already!

    Reply
    1. Ned

      I thought the entire leitmotif of the American economy was selling ads on the internet.
      Weren’t the Rooskies just contributing to GDP?

      Facebook should take all the money the Rooskies paid for those ads and donate it to a Palestinian Children’s’ center to show their commitment to world peace.

      Reply
  5. Pat

    GLM and family, my condolences on your loss. Your time with the beautiful, smart and wonderful Zoey Oatmeal was far too short.

    Reply
  6. el_tel

    re: Excel.

    Another issue concerns things like the accuracy (it automatically determining whether numbers are floating point etc – something I had to learn the hard way when programming using Fortran in my PhD). Small errors can add up to form large ones. Quick and dirty analyses are fine and I use it often to show a pretty graph on-the-fly when I don’t have the time or patience to program a proper graph in Stata, but caveat emptor for anything complicated – Excel is riddled with idiosyncrasies that you might not notice but which might make a difference. Too many people using tools they don’t understand.

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      For the software literate readers here (and according to Yves, there are many), I suggest one toy with Gnu MPFR (Multiple Precision Floating-Point Reliable library). I experimented with a Fast Fourier Transform implementation a few years back, where I fed it a simple sine wave, and tried various precision floating point sizes. The difference between 64-bit, 128-bit, and 256-bit floating point values was stunning.

      Reply
  7. Jane

    I’m so sorry to hear you lost Zoey, what a lovely companion she must have been.

    Thank you, though, for the chuckle: the irony that a good chunk of the worlds energy is now directly being siphoned off to create bitcoins is priceless, why bother producing anything useful when all we really need is money, lots and lots of lovely, clean, ethereal money. Finally the real has been perfectly abstracted. Rational man has won. Infinite good will ensue at any moment, wait for it, it’s coming, wait…….

    Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    Re How Canada is dominating the field of sexuality research

    Well you do have to find ways to keep warm in those freezing cold Canadian winters.

    Reply
    1. el_tel

      hehe. A related issue concerns Kinsey scaling. Now the limitations of his studies are pretty well documented, but were undoubtedly revolutionary in their time, at the very least for opening up discussions over the fluidity of sexuality. I strongly dislike the continuing need for people to “put themselves” into a “hetero/homo/bi” box – I think his scale, showing how (for instance) someone who is predominantly (say) hetero might be, to use a phrase a friend used and which I liked “straight but willing” and thus not quite at the end of his scale. I wish more people grew up recognising this and being willing to acknowledge the “minor deviations” from their “box” that make them more open to new experiences.

      The prevalence of fetishes was something opened up to me at the fetish museum in NYC. Fascinating that the desire for rubber masks has a huge spike in prevalence among those (in western Europe at least) who were kids/adolescents in the WW2 – the fear of the pretty horrid gas masks they had to perennially test out in drills rewired their brain, causing a desire for them in later life. Relevant to all sorts of mental health research and how childhood experiences can rewire your brain permanently to lead to phenomena (good/bad/indifferent) in later life.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      At least one section is pretty disturbing: “Some 46 per cent of young men suffered low desire and a whopping 45 per cent reporting problems getting or maintaining enough of an erection for sex. Young women fared no better: Fifty-nine per cent said they’d had problems reaching orgasm. More troubling, 47 per cent reported pain with penetration or touch of the vulva.”

      My first thought was that we’re awash in hormone-mimicking chemicals. The article goes on to say they’re basically too stressed out to enjoy sex, and adds that many of the women don’t realize they need to be aroused to have sex – and apparently their partners don’t, either. Huge gap in sex education, at the very least. Part of the problem is alcohol: when neither is sober, you don’t get much care or thoughtfulness.

      Canadian society isn’t really much different from American, just better researched. This redoubles my concern about an ever-more alienating social environment.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Part of the problem is alcohol
        Not a new thing. Several centuries ago Shakespeare wrote of alcohol that it “provokes the desire but takes away the performance” aka brewer’s droop!

        Reply
        1. wilroncanada

          Alcohol and sex.
          She tries to get him stiff; he tries to get her tight. Back home they discover that neither was either.

          Reply
  9. Wyoming

    I see the article about our northern states…err neighbors….dominating the sex research industry. Kind of disturbing in a way as one would like to think a more sophisticated and experienced lot like the French would take the lead in such a critical field. But then again the winters are indeed long and dark up there. Such research does require a certain amount of subdued light.

    Then further down I see I am supposed to be comforted by the fact that dispossessed sex workers…err researchers…from from the lower 48 have migrated to the colder but more permissive environment to the north (kind of like avoiding the draft a bit?) to continue their work.

    And I was worried about climate change. We are doomed.

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      Well, Wyoming, we are expecting a whole new batch of you to come North, what with your exceptional new government policies. Some will probably be scientists of the best kind.

      Reply
  10. Frenchguy

    Re: Apple only wants to put its stores where white people live

    So the outrage is that 93% of Apple stores are in majority-white zip codes. But a quick search suggests that 92% of zip codes are majority-white. Unless I’m missing something the argument is a crappy one.

    And in any case, the last thing anyone needs is an Apple store (but that’s a personal opinion…).

    Reply
    1. David

      I can’t speak for the US, but in France (and most European countries) Apple stores tend either to be in city centers, where few people can now afford to live, or in out-of-town shopping centers, which, in France anyway, tend to be very racially diverse. Here’s a stick. Oh good, let’s beat Apple with it.

      Reply
  11. el_tel

    re choice of tipple and moods:

    Whilst I agree with Yves that in general there’s a lot of marketing here, where the general public are concerned – there are, of course, specific groups for whom certain alcoholic drinks are far more dodgy than others (personal declaration – am on an MAOI – generally “dark” coloured drinks are a no-no for me being far more likely to cause headache and, more seriously, a catastrophic rise in blood pressure). Although the “sulphites” issue raises its head every now and then (with, from what I can see, not very robust arguments for/against them except among chronic asthmatics) I do wonder if some subgroups of people (either naturally or due to meds) have different reactions to different drinks, which at present are not sufficiently understood or researched.

    Anecdotally, here in the UK, lots of women (including my sister) won’t let their husband drink Stella Artois beer, claiming it makes them argumentative! The “stella effect” is a well-known phenomenon that loads of women swear by here (rightly or wrongly).

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think a lot of it is self reinforcement. We are told to associate Champagne with celebration, we usually drink it at weddings or other good times, and so the taste and sight makes us feel uplifted. I rarely drink white wine, but when I do its usually a treat at lunch when I’m on holiday or a break, so I subconciously tend to associate it with relaxation and sunny days.

      I think a lot of our reaction to inebriation is culturally influenced. I’ve noticed that when I drink in England in a typical pub I often feel a greater level of aggression rising around me than when I’m with people drinking similar drinks and quantities in Ireland. It may of course be that I drink in different types of pub, but I can’t help feeling that there is a sort of cultural association of drink with aggression in England which has an impact on people when they drink.

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        Yeah my mum (Irish born and bred) always insisted we avoided the Brits when on holiday in Spain and seek out Irish holiday-makers who’d get drunk “in a nice way” and start singing, rather than getting aggressive….though I do recall one or two instances of where my Dad had to subtly pull her away when the singing degenerated into songs related to Irish nationalism and he’d be aware of people at the pub next door looking on aggressively ;-)

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          I remember years ago an English writer saying something along the lines of ‘the more the English drink, the more stupid they get. The more the Irish drink, the more patriotic they become’. There is some truth to it.

          Reply
          1. el_tel

            Indeed! And my mum was always both very naive and of a “couldn’t-care-less” about nationalism issues (there were Protestant elements in one side of her family so nationalism didn’t really get discussed much)….and provided it was “a good song” she’d be up at the mike singing it…..not necessarily a clever thing to do if there’s a Scottish predominantly Protestant bar next door!

            Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’m wondering when they were ever fashionable!

            But one day I’d love to see the headline ‘The Wolfe Tones – the new Pixies’!

            Reply
      2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        You are correct PK – during my time in the Republic, visiting English relatives were amazed at the difference – especially for instance how easy it was to negotiate through a packed crowd in a bar, which parted gradually like a miniature Red Sea by simply repeating the word ” Sorry “.

        Reply
      3. David

        I’m sure that’s right. Growing up in England as a child in a working-class area, I associated pubs largely with aggression. I wonder, whimsically, if it’s because the English are so poor at rational discussion: my first memories of countries like France and Italy are of groups of people sitting around tables having long, highly animated discussions, with half-empty wine-glasses in front of them. And in Asia, I don’t think I ever saw anyone who was drunk and aggressive. Doing stupid things, throwing up, wandering around in a daze, yes, but, perhaps for cultural reasons, not violent.

        Reply
      4. Annotherone

        Yes, self reinforcement sounds likely, as well as loss of inhibitions (what those are will depend on results when loosened up!) I drink only Scotch, but not in huge quantity. My late mother and late former significant other (Northern Irish), back in England, both drank Scotch, but in liberal amounts. They would declare war on each other within the hour of meeting, each Christmas Eve – oh what fun there was then ! :(

        Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Having once worked in the main media area of central London, I suspect a reason for that is that for a certain segment of society the first G&T of the weekend was frequently followed by the first snort of coke.

        Reply
    2. Sid_finster

      In the US, Stella was marketed as a high end, nose in the air expensive EUROPEAN beer that comes from EUROPE and sold to beer snobs and EUROPEANS (who never ever drink to excess, BTW). As was Grolsh. I am well aware of their respective reputations in England.

      I don’t feel argumentative when I drink the stuff, but I was the subject of a different marketing campaign.

      Reply
    3. MtnLife

      Worked with an English fellow who told me, over a couple Stellas at dinner with our wives, that they call Stella “wife beater” back in England. He was deported less than a year later for beating his wife. To be fair, his wife had 6″ and 60 lbs on him, was a total tomboy, and started the physicality just as often as he did. Side note: she was also a big Stella drinker. Coincidence?

      Reply
      1. el_tel

        Ah yes “wife beater”! I’d forgotten that term for Stella, but I too have heard it loads in my time.
        Again, maybe it’s not rooted in reality (as per Yves’s comment re marketing) but the comment re hops and their effects is inclined to make me wonder if the “old wives’ tale” has some truth in it….

        Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      They don’t like husbands that talk back? Quelle surprise.

      Seriously: hops, a major component of beer, are psychoactive to a degree (related to hemp). The degree would vary, according to variety and quantity.

      Except for unflavored whiskey, most drinks have “congeners” – chemicals that come in the package. For instance, red wine notoriously makes some people’s faces flush. And el tel mentioned an outright drug interaction.

      So yes, they’re all a little different. So are people’s sensitivities. The effect in the study is surprising, but not impossible.

      Reply
        1. el_tel

          Yeah I traditionally loved whisky but must limit myself very heavily due to drug interactions and just one shot is about all I can handle, before returning to vodka/gin/white wine when I want a night out – indeed red wine will quickly cause my face to flush as my BP rises and it acts as early warning system that “change your drink! is in order”. Just one of those (relatively minor – all things considered, based on my anecdotal evidence and lots of patient reports and studies reported on Medline) constraints on my diet, which is better than any alternative, but I look back with fondness to days of whisky tasting.

          Reply
  12. Bill Smith

    Uber “Not a peep* about Amazon Web Services, which is arguably the larger
    story.

    In this story what is the big deal about AWS? The hackers had a username and password for the AWS server they had obtained from elsewhere. In this case from source code that was stored in Github. Which is a well known bad thing to do.

    Reply
  13. PlutoniumKun

    Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot Counterpunch

    I’m glad to see this article. I’m a fan of George Monbiots writing – he is usually extremely rigorous with sources so I was baffled to see him jump on the ‘Assad used poison gas’ narrative train. While certainly the counter arguments used (usually putting forward a false flag theory) have their own holes, I don’t think anyone who has looked at the various arguments considers it an open and shut case that Assad was behind the more recent ‘attacks’. If you are not a conspiracy theorist over what happens in the middle east, you are not paying attention.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Agreed regarding Monbiot. He’s generally good, but seems to get things wrong from time to time. On environmental issues, I recall reading his attack on Alan Savory’s work on rotational grazing/holistic management years ago and after reading a few pieces on the topic, I think Monbiot got this topic mostly incorrect.

      I hadn’t seen Monbiot jump on the “Assad is monster who gasses for fun” hype train. But, that’s disappointing.

      The April gas attack incident was a really moment of truth. The clear, correct response was to call for a full investigation. No one in congress questioned the narrative of Assad’s presumed guilt. Congress and the media all jumped to blame Assad with no evidence. When I called my congress-critter, I pointed out what a problem this was.

      This also shows a real positive of Trump….he gets his supporters (and opponents) to make fools of themselves a lot of the time. Trump Derangement Syndrome is very real.

      Reply
    2. David

      My test of a journalist is how they perform in areas I know something about, and I have to say that in such cases I haven’t found Monbiot very impressive. He also has a tendency to lapse into self-righteous preaching that I find unattractive.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Up to now, in areas I know something about I generally found him good, sometimes excellent, although (like all of us I suppose) he has ‘blind’ spots. For me, his big blind spot is economics – his belated support for nuclear power for example completely ignores the long term cost curves for renewables vs nuclear. He is also, to his credit, willing to go btl on his Guardian articles to argue his points, and he is personally very approachable (I’ve met him a couple of times many years ago).

        But he does tend I think to have an fairly dogmatic approach to what is, or is not, a legitimate source, leading him I think to see things in a little too binary terms, which can lead to the fairly self righteous tone he often adopts.

        Reply
  14. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    On the Counterpunch George Monbiot article.

    Here is an article from May by blogger Tim Hayward, who is a Professor of Environmental Political Theory at Edinburgh University, in which he takes Monbiot to task ( Initially on Twitter ) on his Syrian stance. Tim has followed this up with in depth articles on that situation & in the wider Middle East. His criticism also extends to the likes of the Green Party, who among others are alongside the mainstream media indulging in ” Doublespeak “.

    https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/rejoinder-to-george-monbiot-on-syria/

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Very interesting article. Thanks. It talks about some things pertinent to the discussion of JG:

      At the very point when work seemed to be withering away, we all became obsessed with it. To be a good citizen, you need to be a productive citizen. There is only one problem, of course: there is less than ever that actually needs to be produced. As Graeber pointed out, the answer has come in the form of what he calls “bullshit jobs”. These are jobs in which people experience their work as “utterly meaningless, contributing nothing to the world”. In a YouGov poll conducted in 2015, 37% of respondents in the UK said their job made no meaningful contribution to the world. But people working in bullshit jobs need to do something. And that something is usually the production, distribution and consumption of bullshit. According to a 2014 survey by the polling agency Harris, the average US employee now spends 45% of their working day doing their real job. The other 55% is spent doing things such as wading through endless emails or attending pointless meetings. Many employees have extended their working day so they can stay late to do their “real work”.

      Reply
  15. PlutoniumKun

    Brussels takes aim at Britain’s budget rebate in Brexit talks Politico. Hoo boy. Also confirms a point we’ve been making: “And with the EU demanding a formula, not a total price-tag, the key to a deal is agreeing on the U.K.’s share of EU budget costs — past and future.”

    Someone should point the London government to some history books about the Anglo-Irish Trade War in the 1930’s. The new Irish Republic refused to pay annuities owed and found out the hard way that fights like that nearly always go to the economically stronger side. While its been argued by some historians that Ireland benefited in the long run, it meant years of quite extreme hardship and did serious damage to the development of the economy at a crucial time – right in the middle of the Great Depression.

    The reality is that the UK will cough up a significant sum of money sooner or later. If it doesn’t settle now, it will become the price for a post Brexit deal with almost any major trading partner – the EU will have sufficient clout to prevent deals in the WTO or with other major countries if they are sufficiently motivated.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      And a leaked Irish government report indicates that most EU members are either baffled by the UK government or completely contemptuous of their competence.

      The near contempt felt by European leaders at the British government’s management of the Brexit negotiations, and their concerns over the “unimpressive” and “surprising” behaviour of Boris Johnson and David Davis, have been revealed by a confidential report drawn up by the Irish government.

      and to make it worse:

      The British judge in the European court of justice, Ian Forrester, is reported as having bemoaned “the quality of politicians in Westminster” during a meeting in Luxembourg with Irish diplomats.

      Forrester told officials that he had “a fair amount of contact” with the British government on Brexit but that he was concerned by a lack of understanding of the process.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        Brussels takes aim at Britain’s budget rebate in Brexit talks Politico. Hoo boy. Also confirms a point we’ve been making: “And with the EU demanding a formula, not a total price-tag, the key to a deal is agreeing on the U.K.’s share of EU budget costs — past and future.”

        Which is why there is no action. If the first step in the negotiation is to agree to be beggared, then what’s to discuss?

        The senior Tories, cabinet and others, are no fools. Personally I do not attribute inaction or stupidity, nor even a political stand off.

        There is a plan. My belief is it’s something like:

        1, Uncertainty causes emigration, Stumble about as fools,
        2. Uncertainty as a plan enables profit planning, speculate on the value of sterling
        3. Disorderly Brexit, there is no agreement to be had, and avoid paying billions
        4. Post Brexit misery causes more to leave, especially those who are EU citizens
        5. Take the profit from (2)

        Does this damage the population? Come on, we are discussing the Tories. Read some history.

        6. Pass the bag of worms to Corbin, and have Labor take the blame.

        Please remember, the Tory Cabinet and senior civil servants are neither stupid, nor personally unharmed. If the UK could dump 20 Million refugees on Europe, they’d do it.

        Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    Re Smart cities might not be such a bright idea
    So I was reading this article when the penny dropped. They may call them ‘smart cities’ but what they are actually talking about is gated communities. Yes, they will have all the technological bells and whistles added to them but they will still be gated communities separate from the wider community. I then tried to image what these smart cities would look like over time and I realized as the rest of the surrounding regions descended into an economic feudalism, that these cities would have to build a wall surrounding themselves for security – a great, big, beautiful wall.
    Commentators are invited to see one example of this at http://www.strangedangers.com/images/content/191705.jpg if they like. That is actually a city called Palmanova in Italy which was built by the Venetian Republic following the ideals of a utopia (sound familiar?). Those star-like formations are not for decoration or for aesthetic ideals but were the last word in fortification technology (there is that word again) so perhaps builders of these newer ‘smart cities’ should pay attention here.
    As for living in one of them, I wouldn’t even wish that on a bunch of neocons. With the constant sensors and monitoring, it would be like Homeowner’s Association hell. The motto of such a city would be “We are watching you”. This is the same sort of thinking that drives Seasteading and the name of the game is a bunch of techno-brats going away to form their own exclusive community so that they did not have to ‘follow the rules’. You think that bro-culture is bad in silicon valley? Try imagining them running their own community and see where women fit in all that. Then again, perhaps it is all about the billions. Like the last line in ‘Atlas Shrugged’ suggested; “He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar.”

    Reply
    1. Altandmain

      They seem determined to create a gated community for the upper middle class and upper class versus the rest of us lowly peasants.

      It almost is like a real world version of the film Elysium.

      Reply
  17. King

    The bitcoin article does a good job of giving an idea of just how much electricity miners use but is limited on the why. The quote from IEEE at the end doesn’t quite get there.

    “The Bitcoin algorithm adds these zeros in order to keep the rate at which blocks are added constant, at one new block every 10 minutes. The idea is to compensate for the mining hardware becoming more and more powerful.”

    The current reward, in bitcoins for mining a block is 12.5 if I understand correctly (until it halves around 2020). In other words how much electricity miners will use would seem to have a fairly direct relationship to the price of bitcoin. Comments on the IEEE article range from those who understand this and those that are convinced that magic economics will take care of everything because there is some form of price discovery. For example….

    RussWB: Should the price of electricity exceed the average revenue per unit time being created by mining, then mining becomes unprofitable. All that means is that the system constantly yields an equilibrium. It only grows when such growth is sustainable.

    Reply
  18. Enquiring Mind

    The turkey antidote picture reminded me of 18th century Englishmen, and I can conjure up some high collar to go along with the reproving glance. Great, now I’ll have less turkey today ;)

    Reply
  19. Patrick Donnelly

    Luckily, I know a place called Afghanistan has lots of cheap opiates. The Taliban seem to have stopped their attacks on this valuable crop, lately.

    If only there were a way to ship the opium to the USA? Or, even better, the Heroin.

    War: a model for many businesses!

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Just look up and ask any serviceman who worked at Cam Rahn Bay during the war, and he’ll tell you several ways to accomplish your entrepreneurial task.

      Reply
    2. Lord Koos

      I assume you were being snarky, but here are some facts via wikipedia:

      Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001. Based on UNODC data, opium poppy cultivation was more in each of the growing seasons in the periods between 2004 and 2007 than in any one year during Taliban rule. More land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than is used for coca cultivation in Latin America.

      In 2007, 93% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan.

      Reply
  20. leftover

    For GLM:
    About thirty years ago I was involved in the rescue of an Aussie that was almost identical to your Zooey. Roxy had been mistreated as a pet and misunderstood by well-intentioned rescuers and wound up on death row at the county pound. Knowing there was nothing about Roxy that justified putting her down, an acquaintance at the pound called me in.

    Roxy needed constant supervision during her rehabilitation into a normal loving household. Something I could only supply for a few weeks. But we found a household willing to work with her, (how could you refuse that look?), and within a couple of months she was fully integrated into a loving household that understood her special needs and had the patience and time to deal with them. It didn’t take long for owners and pet to become completely bonded and for the special needs to become a mere memory. Roxy made it easy.

    I will never forget my time with Roxy. She was a truly special doggie. We remained close for the rest of her life. My Reddog and I would often visit and play and just snuggle. Roxy loved to snuggle. She also died unexpectedly at about nine years old. It was a terrible thing at the time. I know how you must be feeling. There’s really no consolation except in the memories.

    Thanks for posting her picture. I hope for happier days for you.

    Reply
  21. Dita

    Re the lack of Apple stores in the Bronx – fwiw by the time Apple, While Foods etc open, gentrification has usually smothered these formerly affordable neighborhoods. So I take the article as a bit of concern trolling

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      I let Apple spell-check the last line. My bad. And I didn’t see the spelling and plural form errors until after I sent it down the email sewer. It seemed futile to go back and send corrections…

      Any comments on substance?

      Reply
      1. Alex Morfesis

        Gott lacht….it’s always darkest before the dawn wakes up and asks you to make her some demitasse and draw her up a bath…

        Reply
  22. nippersmom

    GLM, deepest condolences on the death of your beautiful Zoey Oatmeal. It is always painful when they leave us, but especially when they go suddenly and too soon. Thank you for sharing her memory with us.

    Reply
  23. Cherrypalm

    I thought I’d share my unsolicited thanksgiving greeting from Hillary. At first I thought it was parody but it appears to be quite genuine.

    Friend —

    There’s a story I tell in my book What Happened that I’ve been thinking about this week. A short while after last November’s election, I attended a dance recital for my granddaughter Charlotte. Now, Charlotte was only two at the time, and as you might expect, she and her friends hadn’t quite mastered their performances.

    As I watched Charlotte and her friends laugh and fall down and get up again, I thought about how glad I was to be there, watching my granddaughter have the time of her life on stage.

    In a hard year, it can seem impossible to take the time to be grateful. But even as we’re doubling down in the fight to defend our shared values, there is so much to be thankful for. Time with our loved ones. The victories we’ve seen recently. A resistance that is refusing to be silenced by hateful, divisive rhetoric.

    And I’m grateful for you.

    This warm, smart, big-hearted team has given me so much — from your support during my last campaign to your kind notes, hugs, and well-wishes. Now I’m asking you for one more thing: not to give up.

    If you’re with me, add your name right now.

    May your holiday be warm and full of love,

    Hillary

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Having the time of her life on stage? Sounds like she got those genes from Grandfather Bill. Whenever I saw Hillary on stage, she looked like she was making a hostage video.

      Reply
    2. Clive

      “See, I’m just like all of you. Really I am.”, said Hillary, drawing her emeralds warmly around her.

      I suspect this marks the start of a new PR initiative from the Hillary camp, “presenting the real Hillary” or something like that. As if the fake one we’ve had up until now wasn’t bad enough.

      And she’s definitely doubling down. At least she got that bit right. Just not, perhaps, in the way she mentioned.

      I’m trying to work out how much I would have to be paid to hug Hillary.

      Reply
      1. John D.

        Doubling down, sure. To what end, though? She keeps claiming she won’t run for office again, and since being rejected by the electorate for a third time would be more humiliation than she’s equipped to handle, she has real motivation to stick to that little ‘promise.’ Why does she keep shoving herself into the public eye, then? Revenge against Trump? Can’t bare to give up the limelight? Doing her part to ensure the Dem party doesn’t stray from the neoliberal pathway? Grifters gotta grift? What?

        Reply
    3. Tom

      Don’t forget, Hillary has been out on her book tour for weeks — working on her spiel and working the crowds like crazy — and they love her. Sold out venues, standing ovations and constant outbursts of applause and cheers as she rehashes all of the familiar grudges, excuses and fall guys of the 2016 election over and over again in cities across the land.

      She is still out there people … be afraid.

      Reply
  24. Alex

    regarding Mladic persecution it’s amazing that an ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Croatia a few years after Srebrenica didn’t cause Croatians any undue hardship and resulted in a couple of token sentences at Hague

    Reply
  25. el_tel

    Where Brexit Hurts: The Nurses and Doctors Leaving London

    Huge fall in numbers of doctors nationally – indeed. The general practice I just left in disgust (for reasons unrelated to all this) had just one male doctor (the senior partner – close to retirement, has health issues himself) and my new practice, I note, has no male GPs. Now I don’t care, but I know quite a lot of men do, and whilst the fact medicine has been rapidly eradicating the “male bias” it’s not been uniform across specialties. Now there are lots of under-resourced female only general practices…..and since a lot of old people have a “favourite GP”, problems arise when many female GPs go part-time due to child-care issues (not to mention when on maternity leave). Patient satisfaction is suffering as a result, on top of the stress being piled on GPs who don’t (can’t) do CPD.

    My therapist asked me outright the other day (as we talk shop a lot) “why are the GPs round here so awful?” (he came from London as a “Mr Fixit” for a failing mental health care Trust) WTF?! I told him I thought that it was because this area has suffered so much due to the new “needs based formula” (which in fact is crapification of the old one) and that they are “fire-fighting” all the time with no time for “strategic thinking”. GPs, thus, use only the knowledge they gained in med school and are not up on developments in the medical journals, adversely impacting patient care. Ones you know well hint this is so and you sense their immense disillusionment and frustration.

    Reply
      1. el_tel

        Thanks, depressing. My “Mr Fixit” interestingly has a surname that most probably indicates Sudanese or Middle Eastern Origin (and his accent would have me guess he is an immigrant rather than native born). Gonna need a lot more people like him…..

        Reply
  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    American mercenaries’ are torturing Saudi princes Daily Mail (resilc)

    Torture doesn’t work.

    And where are human rights groups? Do oil billionaires deserve less? What about tech billionaires? That surely would be outrageous.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      The story sounded like propaganda to me.

      If true, it’s extraordinarily reckless, calculated to drive huge divisions into the Saudi upper ranks. Most of those people still have a lot of potential power.

      Reply
  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can Republicans Stem the Tide of Women Abandoning the GOP? Atlantic

    Of course, they can take a page out of the government’s playbook on counting unemployment.

    Those who left that party are defined as not feminine…if you’re not looking for work, you’re not unemployed.

    Reply
  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Editorial: U.S. Rep. John Conyers must resign Detroit Free Press (BC)

    Is this some sort of exchanging a rook for a bishop, a pawn for the queen, etc move?

    Side A gives a little, and Side B gives also a little. And let’s move on?

    Reply
  29. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: ‘Looting’ spree threatens wildlife and forests across eastern Europe
    This link didn’t make clear what some of the old growth forrests in Eastern Europe are like — at least the way they’re described in Michael Pollan’s “Botany of Desire”. In the U.S. I’m not sure where we still have “true” old growth forests. Many of the forests I’ve visited were re-growths of forests “harvested” some time in the past few hundred years. Much more than wildlife and plant diversity are lost when old growth forests are trampled down — think of our best preserved sequoia forests on the West coast.

    Reply
  30. Ned

    “Happy Turkey Day!”
    Not all of us celebrating Thanksgiving eat our animal friends.

    Let me be the first to wish everyone a Happy Crucifixion Day,
    Happy Burning Candle Day,
    Happy Sun At Its Lowest Point On The Horizon Day
    and
    Happy Calendar Throwing Day.

    Reply
  31. Lord Koos

    Regarding web site data collection — some time I read ago that facebook can log keystrokes and can keep the data. This means even if you decide to delete what you’ve written before posting it, FB is in effect monitoring your unpublished thoughts.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I use an older browser because I have an old computer and I don’t like the newer versions of the Ubuntu LTS. Just to keep my browser running I have to keep clearing all caches, cookies and histories and every so often kill the browser and restart. On occasion I’ve had to pull the Internet cable and shutdown and start up again. I don’t know if I have a bunch of critters on my little machine. I could. I think a lot of the problem is the oodles of crap loaded to and downloaded from my machine by various websites. It is starting to really tick me off.

      Reply
  32. Arizona Slim

    Me again. And, oh, do I have some good news for you. Here’s the story of how one of my legislator friends handled the insurance lobby. It starts at her health care forum:

    https://powersforthepeople.net/2017/11/18/200-stories-healthcare-forum-attendees-reject-repeal-of-aca/

    She saves the best part of her story for last:

    “Just a few days after the 200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum, I was in my Phoenix Legislative office with a couple of insurance lobbyists. I mentioned the forum to them and said that we heard a lot of complaints about cost.

    “One of the lobbyists leaned back in his chair and said, ‘American consumers just have to get used to high costs and high deductibles because that is where the industry is going. And it won’t work any other way.’

    “I looked up from my notes and said, ‘It works pretty well in Europe without high costs and high deductibles.’

    “Seriously, as a country, we can do better.”

    Reply
  33. Oregoncharles

    “Hairy Situation on the Metro” – some of the comments are very funny.

    My own first thought: that’s fertilizer. Hair is mostly protein, hence nitrogen-rich, as well as finely divided. Second thought: those fires must smell really awful.

    Someone else, after picking loose hairs off her clothing, brought up an interesting question: why do people shed (at the rate of 10 to 200 hairs/day, according to the article)? It isn’t as if we shed a winter coat, like some animals – our dog’s legs were noticeably longer in the summer. Must have something to do with the follicles needing a rest.

    Incidentally, the same thing happens in your house: Household dust is mostly hair, skin, and fabric fiber. Even more if you have pets. I empty the vacuum cleaner into the compost. Do find odd things in the compost, though.

    Reply
  34. JEHR

    Re: The Root of All Cruelty article was an eye-opener for me because yesterday I had commented that the torturers called Daesh did not deserve to be called either “human” or “beings” not realizing that I was doing the same dehumanizing that is a necessary preparation for eliminating “the other” (or Daesh). That conundrum shows how complicated cruelty is and how it can become a part of every single human being when circumstances demand it.

    Reply
    1. Richard

      I thought a lot about that article too, especially connecting it with some things David Graeber has written about debt, slavery and war: to wit: “humanity” is pulled from some people as their markers of individual identity become more indistinct, and their markers designating them as a part of someone’s wealth become emphasized. I’m almost certainly oversimplifying his concept, which I found complex and elusive.
      The fascinating and chilling part of dehumanization for me is where we go over mental checklists (lawbreaker? debtor? wrong family? unpopular group?) to excuse withdrawing someone from the category “as human as me”
      Thanks for being so honest. Man I love NC’s comments section.

      Reply
      1. Laughingsong

        To combat the same tendency to demean/belittle, I try to constantly remind myself that no matter how you categorize, group, slice and dice humans, every group ends up with the same amount of jerk behavior. Not only does that help me not pick out groupings (along with reminders that we are complex and would always belong to multiple groupings anyway), but targeting behavior (actions) instead of people helps me see the humanity… Although it does also point up the fact that human behavior can be incredibly awful.

        Reply
  35. ChrisPacific

    A better take on Uber that doesn’t give the CEO a free pass like the ‘horrors’ story yesterday did:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/apps/99158038/ubers-problem-a-a-culture-of-dishonesty

    Personally I think Khosrowshahi’s hand-wringing is disingenuous. It’s like taking over as leader of the Nazi party and then acting shocked that they are involved in human rights violations. If he holds a press conference in six months and announces that he’s decided Uber is a cesspool with no redeeming social value and he’s winding it up for the good of humanity, then maybe I’ll believe he is serious. Until then I’ll assume he is engaging in a Jamie Dimon style exercise of improving the PR and public image in order to provide cover for the underlying atrocities.

    Curiously although there is a WaPo byline on the above story, it is nowhere to be found on their site (Fairfax may have got it wrong). I did find one Bloomberg article without attribution that suggests they may have originated it, but it’s very hard to locate using Google News search.

    Reply
  36. Edward E

    Zoey Oatmeal is beautiful, thanks for sharing her memory.

    ‘Turkey farmers facing squeeze after Trump kills agriculture rules’
    It’s Thanksgiving and Trump Admin are now putting the squeeze on mom & pop turkey growers, “Trump’s deregulatory strike — lauded by big business”

    I had to get up really earlyish this morning to take my head out of the oven.
    Time for a nap

    Reply
  37. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    The propensity for hyper-hysteria in the American psyche is under-noticed as a real threat to the world’s integrity and sanity.

    Some Saudis crash into two buildings in NYC and America embarks on a $5 trillion orgy of randomly smashing everything in sight across the globe. Some banks get into trouble and the US central bank sees fit to spray credit far and wide in a fire hose of fiscal and monetary insanity. Some journalists and poseurs get wind of Russians buying $50K in Facebook ads and the nation descends into a wildly-expensive and divisive paroxysm of boogieman-under-the-bed Red witch hunts. And now a sexual predator is outed, and we careen off the edge of sanity in pursuit of that new most horrible monster: the gender differences of our very biology.

    When does the world come to grips with the fact that hysterical Americans are a mortal threat to the entire world?
    This quote from the article sums it up nicely:

    Behold the dismaying spectacle of these joyless, bloodless mortals doing futile battle with the god Eros

    Is it something in the water? Or is it just because the media wants to sell clicks? Because it’s really terrifying

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Makes me proud to be an American. We take insanity to new highs — new depths and new Breadth.

      Past time to move to higher ground somewhere in the country — far from big cities and blessed with rich dirt. “Woe is us! Why didn’t we avoid global catastrophe when we could?” But what the hell, I’ll keep swimming because not swimming means I’ll drown. [ref. the parable of the two frogs swimming in milk — too deep in the milk jar to climb out]

      Reply
  38. Synoia

    World’s best cheese is revealed and it English from Cornwall!

    That’s it!! Full speed ahead on Brexit, and damn the French!!

    Reply
  39. ewmayer

    o “Ich kann nicht anders, du kannst nicht anders, Wir können nicht anders.”

    o “Portrait of the Con Artist as a Stung Man | Daily Kanban. (Matthew K) Overview: “Rolling Stone’s recent profile of Elon Musk revealed Mr. Musk’s plans to shape the world. But much more than this it revealed how the world has shaped Mr. Musk. The panegyric to this man of genius without limit…” — I really hope the author intended the bolded snip as applying to the RS hagiography, rather than representing the author’s own view, because seeing such gag-worthy fawning on Thanksgiving would be cruel punishment, indeed.

    o “Fed officials fear financial market ‘imbalances’ and possibility of ‘sharp reversal’ in prices | CNBC” — There appears to be a missing ‘which they have endeavored so mightily to engineer’ after ‘imbalances’.

    Reply
  40. meeps

    Thanks to all of you at Naked Capitalism for so carefully tending this unique online community. As I raise a glass at my table today, I regard you in my toast (which poetry I credit to Chick Corea & Origin from the album titled, Change):

    To the Idealist, the Dreamer
    To the unabashed and continual striving for Knowledge,
    Competence and Freedom
    To individual Expression
    To those who persist toward their goals of Betterment and Beauty
    To ongoing change of conditions in order
    To improve them
    To those who truly Help
    To The Artist in all of us—

    Cheers!

    Reply
  41. ewmayer

    [I composed most of the following a couple weeks ago, figuring to polish and post it on Thanksgiving – so the “currently showing” movies reflect that.]

    For at least the past 5 years, Hallmark Channel – actually they now have multiple cable channels, so perhaps should be called The Hallmark Network – has been cranking out a dozen-odd ‘original’ made-for-TV Christmas romance movies each year. Not all of these have “Christmas” in the title, but most do, and they tend to appear in large blocks around the holidays, so are easy to spot in that listing. that page and you can good sense of when the trend began and how the number of movies has been increasing year after year). There is still some variety in the plotlines as late as 2013, but it seems the Hallmark execs realized they had a successful formula on their hands, and by the following year the formula has become highly standardized, at the same time that the annual number of such holidays offerings more than doubles. More or less all follow a highly standardized recipe:

    o ~84 minutes long for broadcast in a 2-hour time block (thus a plentiful 30+ minutes of ads, which alas is no longer extreme at all compared to e.g. network TV fare, where ‘content’ of a mere 40 minutes per hour now seems the norm. That allows rooms for lots of ads, especially lots of Big Pharma ads for wildly profitable overpriced drugs with book-length lists of nasty side effects;

    o Sets which look suspiciously like the interiors of Hallmark holiday stores;

    o “Off-brand” Hollywood actors, mix of young in-between-series beautiful people and long-in-the-career-tooth-but-still-name-recognizable. The latter include some actual semi-big names like – grabbed form a “Hallmark world premiere” Xmas-movie advert just now – Danny Glover and Joan Cusack;

    o Ignore that obviously-fake snow – most of these are filmed in and aroud the Hollywood North that is Vancouver BC, but they appear to have been filmed all through the year, so fake snow is needed in the warmer months;

    o I’ve seen all or part of over a dozen of these, and the fated-for-romance leads are invariably white and 100% straight (OK, there’s an occasional Latino lead, e.g. Carlos PenaVega of the TV-famous ballroom dance PenaVegas starring opposite his wife Alexa in this year’s new addition “Enchanted Christmas”). There is no lack of people of color, but more or less strictly in supporting roles. The backdrop is always Christmas, never Hannukah or Kwanzaa or pagan Yule or Festivus or – godforbid – having one of the leads profess his or her non-believer status. But the leads in these stories are always so attractive and gosh-darned likable, we simply have no choice but to forgive them for their narrowness.

    o The setting is always some bucolic but very-well-off small town, stocked with immaculate better-hmes-and-gardens-style homes – no rural poverty to dampen the festivities here. What do you think this is, some kind of depressing Hans Christian Andersen story? I think the producers of these crank-em-out-one-after-another specials use an app to come up with appropriately rustic and holiday-spirit-ish names for their little fake towns.

    o All follow one of a few standardized formulae, a typical one of which is illustrated by way of one of capsule summary accompanying the offering which happens to be showing as I write this, “The Christmas Cure,” (2017) starring Brooke Nevin, Steve Byers and Patrick Duffy:

    A doctor returns home for Christmas to find that her father has decided to retire from his own practice. After reuniting with her high school sweetheart, she wonders if she should stay and take over her father’s practice.

    The most frequent way the writers of these add a little dramatic tension and faux-“romance improbability” between the two obviously-destined-to-become-lovebirds is by having one of them be an hard-driving uptight careerist urbanite and the other a laid-back small-town romantic – 3 guesses as who changes his or her outlookin that setup. Deoending on the ratio of sappiness to fake tension, the movie gets categorized as one of “Romance” (full-on sappiness), “Romantic Comedy” (mix of sappy and lame-jokey) or “Drama” (mix of sappy and urbanite-vs-hayseed formulaic tension).

    These things are – by any reasonable dramatic measure – insipid, inane, trite, pablum, drivel, what-have-you – but somehow also addictive, like a holiday-romance-movie analog of Hostess Twinkies snack cakes. Surrounded by the dismal wasteland that is modern network (and quasi-network) American television, with its torture-and-terror-drenched dramas, narcissistic/voyeuristic ‘reality’ shows and hysterical-propaganda-spewing ‘news’, I suppose it should be anything but surprising that Hallmark’s manufactured-but-escapist-and-G-rated fare should be finding a ready niche.

    Ooh, next movie started whike I was composing the above, and I didn’t even notice – let’s see what we got: “Christmas Cookies” (2016, Drama|Romance), starring Jill Wagner and Wes Brown. Based on the plotline, this one could be a hard-hitting exposé of the devastating effects of corporate offshoring and downsizing on flyover-country America, but … well, not so much:

    A corporate agent is sent to a small town to buy a cookie company and shut down its factory. When she starts falling in love with the factory’s owner, the town’s Christmas spirit overtakes her.

    If that plotline sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve previously watched “Christmas Incorporated” (2015, Comedy|Drama|Romance)?

    Riley Vance is hired as personal assistant to William Young, who recently inherited his father’s company. He’s under pressure to close the flagship toy factory of the firm, but Riley convinces him to visit the town and evaluate the plant and people. To save the town, she must rekindle his long-dormant Christmas spirit.

    Best wishes for a pleasant – and above all low-stress! – Thanksgiving to the US portion of the NC readership. Now back to the scintillating drama of “Christmas List” (2016, Comedy|Romance), starring Alicia Witt (who as a young girl played Paul Atreides’ preternaturally gifted little sister in David Lynch’s Dune) and Gabriel “The Incredible Hunk” Hogan (whose real-life mother plays his onscreen mom here), which the oncreen-blurb-o-matic describes thusly – shockingly, the words “hopeless romantic” are nowhere to be seen:

    Isobel makes a carefully composed bucket list of classic holiday traditions to celebrate with her boyfriend. But when he goes AWOL, the list proves challenging and a tempting new romance turns er life upside down.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Difficult to read your review of Christmas fare after a full dinner — I ate alone and cooked for myself — but it was excellent and I would hold it down.

      We are in end times. Now is time to steel to the lessons of the parable of the frogs:
      Two frogs caught in a tub of milk. The rim is too high to reach from the surface of the milk. One frog tries again and again and again to climb out over the rim without success and loses hope … and will at last. That frog stops swimming knowing all is lost and drowns in the milk. The other frog knows it can’t climb out over the rim and knows of nothing to hope upon — but that frog also knows the only way to keep from drowning in the milk is to keep swimming tired or not. The second frog keeps swimming and swimming and swimming still. Keep swimming or drown. An island of butter forms in the milk because of the frog’s swimming. The second frog climbs up on the island of butter and jumps out of the tub of milk.

      Holiday romance or keep swimming. My feet are flat and 6E and I’ll keep swimming and swimming and swimming unless someone has a better idea.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        that’s the only way to make things butter. (i’m still swimming–but getting uncomfortably close to the drain–and trying to avoid shopping malls as atheistmas approaches)

        Reply
    2. ambrit

      Ah yes, the joys of Hallmark.
      A person of close sanguinary connexion worked at Hallmark. She reported to me one year about the companies new no smoking policy. The KC headquarters houses over seven thousand workers; a multi story warren. So, the first weeks of the new policy were made to provide a salutary lesson to the labouring masses. No warnings were given. Be caught once smoking and lose your job. Heads did indeed roll, usually from underneath bathroom stall doors.
      There’s the real life analogue of the ‘one size fits all’ American Dream Movie.
      Somehow, I don’t expect any time soon to see family oriented movies like “Tidelands,” or “Island of Lost Children,” or, God forbid, “Bringing Up Baby” on the Hallmark Network.
      I guess I need more therapy, as in, Hollywood mogul (Johnny Depp) going to see Dr. (Rosanna Arquette) to straighten out a deadlocked romantic thriller plot. “Just play the male lead boss!” the moguls’ slightly sleazy sidekick says. (Will Smith playing.) “She’ll never guess, and we’ll get that verisimilitude thing! It’ll be boffo!” As events unfold, the play within a play does the old switcheroo. Warm and fuzzy rules at the end! For added demographic appeal, the sidekick can end up with the Drs’ wisecracking secretary. (Perfect for Rosalind Russell, but, hey, we’ll settle for Freddie Prinz.)
      See you in the elevator, pitching for all I’m worth!

      Reply
  42. JCC

    I’m finishing my Thanksgiving Eve here reading the comments section of the Links page, and as usual, the comments are insightful and/or fascinating, as well as good for a smile or three.

    My condolences to GLM on the loss of Zoey. Having gone through the same thing just a few weeks ago, and seeing Zoey’s great smile, I have no problem admitting it choked me up a little.

    Thanks to ewmayer’s post above on the Hallmark Channel’s contributions to American Film Artistry, though, I’m smiling again (and very thankful I shut off cable television years ago, otherwise I might be trapped watching this tripe).

    Thank You, Yves and Lambert and Clive, and all the rest of you here on Naked Capitalism.

    Reply
  43. makedoanmend

    The Root of All Cruelty. New Yorker

    Good article, and gives a good synopsis between the need to dehumanise versus the need to humiliate by implicitly recognising the humanity of those we seek to humiliate. The difference seems to be what economic value we assign to the dehumanised versus the humiliated, and thus the amount of power we seek to assert or discover. The humiliated have economic value but we want to be able to subsume their humanity to control. Whilst, it seems, when we completely dehumanise a person, we see no economic value and merely seek to destroy, if the not the person then the livelihood of the person to achieve the same end.

    >>>>>

    On another note. From a professor at my Uni in the Scotland I received this news regarding Brexit and the less than great “EU (Withdraw) Bill”:

    “As some of you may be aware in July of this year the UK Government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which formally enacts Brexit.

    The bill omitted a previous piece of EU legislation from Article 13 of Lisbon Treaty (2009), which recognised that animals are sentient beings and therefore capable of experiencing basic emotions such as pain and happiness.

    Green MP Caroline Lucas submitted an amendment clause (NC30), which sought to transfer the EU Protocol on animal sentience set out in Article 13 of Title II of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law, so that animals would continue to be recognised as sentient beings under domestic law. Last week this New Clause was rejected with an 18 majority for the Government. 313 against, 295 in favour.

    Loosing this important piece of legislative protection for our pets and livestock is a step backwards for animal welfare. If you think animals should legally be recognised as sentient you can sign a petition asking parliament to reinstate this legislation protection, or contact your local MSP, or MP and encourage them to back this.”

    I might add that concern expressed by this individual teacher is not meant to stop people eating meat (although others might hold that veiw) but she thinks that we should treat animals, whilst in our care, with respect of life itself.

    I cannot cite the quote because it is in my e-mail.

    However, she provided a site with which to read further and sign a petition, if that’s your bag.

    https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-repeal-the-government-decision-to-exclude-animal-sentience-in-the-eu-withdrawal-bill?recruiter=543633281&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial.combo_new_control_progress_110217winners&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial.combo_new_control_progress_userpower1111417

    Reply

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