Links 11/29/17

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex FiveThirtyEight. Meet Pan Pan, the genetic Genghis Khan of the modern panda population.

World’s first ‘smart condom’ collects intimate data during sex and tells men whether their performance is red-hot or a total flop Metro

Bali’s fiery volcano could end up temporarily cooling the entire planet Vox

Buick Introduces New Self-Buying Car The Onion

Meghan Markle and the Immigration Rules on marriage Free Movement (Richard Smith)

‘I can’t eat or sleep’: the woman threatened with deportation after 50 years in Britain Guardian

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

DON’T TURN BIG DATA INTO A FETISH – IT MISSED TRUMP, BREXIT, DUTERTE SCMP. I don’t– it’s the massive collection of data that worries (especially when misused by The Man, as it will inevitably be.)

macOS bug lets you log in as admin with no password required Ars Technica

Why I always travel with a paper map in hand TreeHugger. I do the same. But then, I don’t own a smartphone– my trusty dumbphone suits me fine.  Sadly, I’ve heard the skill of mapreading is much in decline among younger people.

Germany’s weed killer approval gets a withering response from its EU neighbors Quartz

Health Care

A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much. ProPublica

What Being Gored by a Bull Taught Me About Healthcare Vice I don’t get the whole running with the bulls thing. And I confess, for me, Hemingway’s oeuvre hasn’t aged well– including his prose style. But, I have a brother-in-law whose travels to Paloma from North Carolina to do this every year.

Scientists discover new optimism in fight against Alzheimer’s FT

Jack Bogle Now Old Enough Not To Notice Vanguard Going Active Dealbreaker. Is nothing sacred? I guess not when there’s a muppet be be fleeced.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Army Spent $100 Million On Intelligence System It Never Used, NSA Leak Says International Business Times

State official: New Oroville spillway already has cracks Mercury News (allan) Oh dear! Here we go again….

Face It, The Mighty U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Finished American Conservative. Agreed. So, remind me, why are we still building them? I know, I know: MIC!

Puerto Rico


Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Is Dubbed a Repeat Offender and Faces New Wrath from Its Regulator WSJ. Gretchen Morgenson, now at the WSJ.

Sex in Politics… Not!

Black Caucus members press Conyers to resign Politico

Monica Lewinsky Just Reminded America That She is a Victim Too Law & Crime. So many Clinton admin issues coming home to roost.

Net Neutrality

Trai backs net neutrality; says internet services must be non-discriminatory Economic Times

The Indian telecom regulator’s net neutrality recommendations may be the strongest in the world

The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death. NYT

Net Neutrality Hits a Nerve, Eliciting Intense Reactions NYT

Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support Ars Technica

New Cold War

Suddenly, I’m a ‘Russian Agent’! Counterpunch. Mentions both PropOrNot, with shout out to  Naked Capitalism.

North Korea

North Korea says latest intercontinental ballistic missile can reach anywhere on US mainland Independent

There’s a surprisingly mundane reason North Korea didn’t launch a missile for 74 days Business Insider

Beijing condemns latest missile test that analysts say may give Pyongyang more negotiating power SCMP

Supreme Court seems reluctant to blow up a key weapon against patent trolls Ars Technica

Tax “Reform”

Senate GOP gets breathing room as tax plan advances Politico

Republican Victory May Rest Once Again With McCain, This Time on Taxes NYT

Stella McCartney calls for overhaul of ‘incredibly wasteful’ fashion industry Guardian

Fashion Industry Report: One Truckload of Clothing Is Wasted Per Second EcoWatch (rjs). Hoisted from comments on yesterday’s post about fueling power plants by burning fast fashion clothes.

Trump Transition

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Signals His Environmental Strategy WSJ. Sorry, patient readers, couldn’t find a non-paywalled version. But note that the strategy includes a plan to convert food waste into power, rather than dumping it into a landfill.

He creates his own reality’: From ‘Access Hollywood’ to Russia, Trump paints the rosiest possible picture WaPo

3 key takeaways from the power struggle at the CFPB Mic. I think English has the stronger arguments here, as does the piece, CFPB Suit Proves Once Again Why Textualism Is A Bankrupt Philosophy in Above the Law. Which does not mean the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where this issue will almost certainly end up, nor the Supremes, will necessarily agree with me. See immediately below.

Judge Backs Trump Administration in Fight to Control CFPB WSJ Note this decision only addresses the issue of whether or not to issue a restraining order– federal district court judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, denied the request.

Would Trump’s CFPB Pick Mulvaney Back Consumers Or Payday Lenders? International Business Times

Cordray gets lukewarm homecoming Politico. Would be unfortunate if Cordray’s departure from the CFPB before his term expired, thus opening the door to Trump to appoint a successor, proves all for naught if Cordray fails to end up in the Ohio governor’s mansion.

Trump Takes Rare Trade Action Against China New York magazine. Yet another example of a Serious Person being shocked, shocked, when a federal agency follows through on what Trump said he’d do.

Tillerson fends off ‘redesign’ critics Politico

Inside the White House, Michael Flynn pushed proposal from company he said he had advised WaPo

Trump asks why ‘deep state authorities’ aren’t investigating Clinton emails The Hill

Clintons understated support from firm hired by Russian nuclear company The Hill. Much detail hidden under a ho hum headline.

Class Warfare

Uber employed espionage unit to steal rivals’ secrets — is that legal? MarketWatch

Something Has to Give Jacobin. On the continued growth in student borrowing.

Why you sometimes have to quit to win BBC. Sound career advice, perhaps– but with many households lacking even a modest emergency fund, who has the luxury of being able to afford to do so?

Corbyn becoming PM is ‘worse threat to business than Brexit’, says bank. Guardian. Really?

Big Money Rules NYRB

About 11 percent of drugs in poor countries are fake, U.N. says Stat


Why So Many Economists Are Disillusioned With the ‘Gujarat Model’ The Wire. Another interesting piece–important as Modi seeks to extend this “success” to India. See also Jayati Ghosh’s piece in yesterday’s Links.

Ivanka is Trump card in dad’s outreach to India Times of India. Note that Indian press coverage often fawns over powerful foreign guests– even when a certain sitting US President openly, notoriously, and disrespectfully chewed gum while on the podium watching the solemn Republic Day parade (I’ll leave it to readers to guess who that was.)

India Restores Faith in Capitalism Bloomberg

Sports Desk

Olympic Doping Diaries: Chemist’s Notes Bolster Case Against Russia NYT


Turning The Corner In Afghanistan Moon of Alabama

Damascus throws ‘transition’ up in air by skipping Geneva talks Asia Times

Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate The Conversation

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    World’s first ‘smart condom’ collects intimate data during sex and tells men whether their performance is red-hot or a total flop Metro

    Uh….if it was a total FLOP, how could it collect any data???

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      This is a very useful invention. Totally eliminates need to take cues for your partner or communicate your needs and desires, like an adult.

      Nah, just check the after-action report on the ap.

      There is no way this was not imagined, pitched, and funded by men who are terrible at sex.

      1. JBird

        And here I thought sex was supposed to be fun?

        If people feel they needed to be graded, I think they’re doing something one, or is this one of those information gathering schemes for the future robotiazation of sex? Like with those self driving cars?

        “Not tonight dear, please use the robot.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Should men be concerned with the possible side-effect of impotence?

      Many people, men and women, do better when not being graded or watched.

      Not ‘For posterity” when it is used, but “For posterity it will be recorded? Oh, mine.”

    3. Tom

      If the condom is really smart, when it detects that the wearer is in the midst of subpar performance, it will generate a call to the partner’s smartphone so they can fake a family emergency and get out of there.

    4. Yves Smith

      So now the surveillance state can know directly about your sex life???? It’s a given that any of these “smart” devices can be spied upon. It used to be work to find out if you were cheating. This sort of thing would make it a lot easier (as in recording performance at times when you weren’t with your partner).

    5. Daryl

      In video games, you usually get a higher score if you finish faster. I wonder if the same rule applies here…

  2. Jim Haygood

    Bitcoin $10K — DONE.

    CNBC quotes it at $10,816 just after 7 am ET.

    Standard post hoc justifications are now appearing, such as a Metcalfe’s Law analysis indicating that the growing scale of the BTC network makes it more valuable.

    Back in the ox cart and mud hut world of stocks, MSCI’s ACWI (All Country World Index) has reached another record high, as free money from rich country central banks trickles down to the farthest corners of the planet.

    Bubble III is the health of the state.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The term HODL first appeared in a post on the Bitcoin talk forum by GameKyuubi in 2013, under the thread “I AM HODLING”.

      Likely he was drunk and wanted to convey that he was holding his BTC despite a big drop that day. Since then, this misspelled term has become a humorous backronym:

      HODL – Hold On for Dear Life

      “Keep calm and HODL on,” says one T-shirt.

      Don’t be a miner; sell merch to the miners. ;-)

      1. JohnnyGL

        I remember coming across the old saying, “the people who get rich in a gold rush aren’t the miners, but the ones selling picks and shovels.”

        1. Wukchumni

          I occasionally go to places like Downieville, Ca. looking for all that glitters in the riverbed and have found you need 7 items to ensure success in your endeavor:

          …a gold pan and a 6 pack of beer

          1. Oregoncharles

            We’ve hiked the streams in a gold district in the Cascades for decades now, and we always carefully inspect the gravels.

            Sadly, so far we’ve found nothing possibly because we forgot the 6-pac. Hope springs eternal, though. (The upper part of the stream is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever found.)

            1. IsotopeC14

              I think I had luck on Quartzville creek. A sluice box helps quite a bit in that endeavor. Got two flakes that were smaller than the bits in goldsxhlager, but they were mine!

    2. Robert Hahl

      The coming years will probably be called the roaring twenties again. I wonder what the thirties will be like this time.

      1. jefemt

        Studio 360, an hour-long public radio show, will be covering the ’20s song, “Anything Goes” this week.

      2. Jim Haygood

        That may be so, but beware the “year ending in zero” curse. 1920, 1930, 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990 were all recession years. 1950 and 2000 each missed by three months: a recession ended in Oct 1949, and a recession started in Mar 2001.

        Counting the near misses, eight of ten years ending in zero were closely associated with recessions. 2020 is looking good to be another one, and that’s not just numerology.

        In an interview with Barry Ritholtz, Swiss gnome Felix Zulauf pointed out that for Xi Jinping to achieve his goal of China becoming a “moderately well-off society” by 2021 — the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party — Xi needs to back off on stimulus and let the Chinese economy shake out some distortions during 2018-2020, so that it can be recovering in 2021. China is the key to the global economy, Zulauf added.

        America’s political system, with its 2-year election cycle, doesn’t and can’t make 5-year strategic plans. OMB forecasts never incorporate the possibility of recession, particularly not one of the “healthy purge” variety. The orange-haired guy in the White House will be touting Bubble III until the day the bottom falls out, to his immense surprise.

        1. Wukchumni

          The reign of error owns all the Dow-Jonestown gains now and has even taken credit for it…

          …comeuppance see him sometime

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          for Xi Jinping to achieve his goal of China becoming a “moderately well-off society” by 2021</blockquote

          I think it's not particularly Western to set the bar low. Now, Eleven is under pressure.

      3. m

        Funny that you should say that cause I have been thinking about closing my 401ks. To me they are useless and will never lead to a retirement, if there is such a thing anymore.
        There are get youtube videos by depression lady about making soups and stews.

    3. Jim Haygood

      BTC 11K — DONE. Currently $11,245 according to CNBC.

      Can we hit $12K by lunchtime?

      This is the trip … the best part … I really like!” — Jim Morrison

        1. ambrit

          Sorry, but Jim said that “you cannot petition the Lord with prayer.” Not sure about the Lords’ position on petition.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But is it more valuable than a signed first edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But is it more valuable than a signed first edition of Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds?

    4. David May

      Could the fake gold (bitcoin) actually be worth more than the real stuff given that Au is not very portable, difficult to convert into money and easy to fake?

  3. epynonymous

    Regarding inflation, would (or is) it so bad?

    Now, I want to start by differentiating inflation itself, and policies that don’t account for inflation. (poverty levels, to an extent tax brackets, and for valid consideration the fact of ‘wage stickiness’) The legal structure being distinct from the financial, despite their current entanglement.

    Just from a common use, inflation is a bad thing. Not a bubble, but inflation would benefit me, having few assets. Pensioners would be in tough spot, but if financial asset values rose to match inflation it may not be so bad. (Again, I’m no expert, and I’m deciding to not talk about the effects of devaluation on import-export, wage arbitrage, and automation-incentivation on jobs.)

    Printing money to fund operations is basically theft. However, if money were printed and distributed to ‘the people’ living at the bottom, or just everyone 50% of Americans would benefit. Social Security would be effectively cut back, but if the money creation were social spending wouldn’t society benefit?

    Lenders would suffer, but they would raise interest rates on their lending portfolios and after an initial loss, the money would effectively go to the indebted and be reflected in future loans by the market.

    Currency devaluation would value labor over robots (another give-and-take) and encourage first world production instead of third world imports.

    In practice, there is basically no way for the common man to come out ahead, because corruption, but the theory interests me.

    Is fear of inflation (which has real historical events to compare from post-war Germany, the civil war, and Venezuela) another case of advocating against our interests?

    1. fresno dan

      November 29, 2017 at 7:29 am

      The device is called the i.Con and can detect STIs as well as sending data about a sex session straight to the wearer’s smartphone. British Condoms said its ‘revolutionary wearable tech for the bedroom’ measures the number of calories burned during intercourse, the speed of a man’s thrusts, how long he lasts and even what positions are used.
      Too many double entendres

      1. The Rev Kev

        Two data points as to what could possibly go wrong here with the sort of thinking with these things.
        A coupla months ago a lawsuit was settled for about $3.75 million by a company that made vibrators that could be controlled via Bluetooth and a smartphone app. It was all fun and games until security researchers found that the company was also using it to collect data about how customers used the vibrators such as what temperature and intensity settings the owners used, as well as how often they used the vibrators and which was all being sent back to the company’s servers.
        In an other example of what can go wrong – a young couple were wearing fitbits 24/7 and were posting their readings online so that they could compare them and share with with other people online (for the love of god, why?). This went along swimmingly until the girlfriend noticed an activity session on her boyfriend’s fitbit that matched a sexual session for which she was not present – do’h!

        1. ambrit

          I’m saving my money up for the ‘exoskeleton’ model. I just hope that the manufacturers don’t settle on a ‘lease’ model of sales. Imagine how usage and thus billing could be handled.

              1. ambrit

                The box promises “in the privacy of your own bedroom!”
                Prying eyes, and now, prying bytes. That magic apple is looking pretty worm eaten.

          1. Charlie

            This should be great for marriages too, because, see, Tom the husband tops out at 5.2 thrusts per minute and the contractor working on the house Dan does 15.8. And he can hang upside down too.

          1. ambrit

            That’s where #hugsforall* comes in. At some point, men do finally ‘get it.’
            *If there is a real #hugsforall, I don’t know. I’m not twitterfried.

  4. WheresOurTeddy

    Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support – Ars Technica

    “These comments are absurd,” Pai said. “Getting rid of government authority over the Internet is the exact opposite of authoritarianism. Government control is the defining feature of authoritarians, including the one in North Korea.”

    Every disingenuous word uttered by Ajit Pai in this article smacks of Upton Sinclair’s famous line:

    “It is impossible to get someone to understand something when his paycheck depends on him not understanding it.”

    1. DJG

      Yep: Ajit Pai is the veritable poster boy for so much that is going wrong in the U S of A. The true believer that markets will triumph and deliver universal prosperity. Mister highly credentialed with the J.D. from the Law&Economics School at the UofChicago[™]. Inherited Indian-American argumentativeness, combined with a dash or two of arrogance. And then he attacks Cher, George Takei, and Alyssa Milano, so he isn’t exactly P.R. savvy.

      Further, his ideological blindness means that he is proposing bad public policy and ignoring the public as it reacts to his mistakes.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Plenty of things to dislike about Ajit Pai without you invoking “Inherited Indian-American argumentativeness, combined with a dash or two of arrogance.”

        Plenty of places on the net receptive to railing against Indians and their Indian-ness. Here isn’t one of them.

      2. Massinissa

        Like Teddy, I really do question the need to bring up ‘Indian American’. The rest of your comment is perfectly good and fine, I don’t know why you needed to add that part.

    2. Vatch

      Pai also criticizes the actress Alyssa Milano:

      “If this were Who’s the Boss?, this would be an opportunity for Tony Danza to dish out some wisdom about the consequences of making things up,” Pai said today.

      This is hilarious! Nearly all of the comments opposing net neutrality were fraudulent, and Pai is claiming that someone who disagrees with him is making things up? Pai won’t be satisfied until he can convince us that two plus two equals five. O’Brien, the villain from Nineteen Eighty Four, must be a role model for Ajit Pai.

    3. L

      The Register also has a good analysis of his umm, unfortunate, behavior here

      As a choice quote:

      Completely deaf to his own actions, Pai even used a quote from one letter sent to the FCC complaining about how one company had held back investing in new technology “due to uncertainty over the FCC’s regulatory stance.”

      But Pai’s approach – flipping over rules that were drawn up over two years, and so creating a precedent for his own rules to be flipped again in a few years – does precisely that. In fact, the actual serious policy concerns behind scrapping the current net neutrality protections – protections that forbid fast and slow lanes on the internet, website blocking, and so on – were barely mentioned in Pai’s speech.

      Ultimately Pai presents a textbook case of a liar caught in the act. He is doing everything to change the subject but refusing to answer the one straight question.

  5. fresno dan

    State official: New Oroville spillway already has cracks Mercury News (allan) Oh dear! Here we go again….

    “The hairline cracks are a result of some of the design elements included to restrain the slabs and produce a robust and durable structure,” the letter read, adding that the cracking “was anticipated and is not expected to affect the integrity of the slabs.”

    The evidence for and reasoning behind DWR’s statements about the cause of the cracking is not available for independent assessment, the station reported.

    University of California civil engineering professor Robert Bea, a veteran analyst of structure failures, said cracking in high-strength reinforced concrete structures is never expected.
    So…..this is an Onion article and NC just got the titles to the articles mixed up? I hope….

        1. Kevin

          Having worked for the City of Chicago one summer on a crew pouring streets and runways – the easiest way to get more bang for your buck (if you were the contractor) was to water down the concrete. A certain amount of water is necessary, but at times it was like a watery soup. It covers a lot more ground, but will be brittle and succumb to the elements much quicker – meaning your got the same job again in two years. This is why, well, one reason why street repair is such a scam.

          1. bob k

            chicago doesn’t bother to fix potholes anymore unless you live in the same neighborhood as Ream Amanwell

    1. Karen

      I’m a structural engineer, and that Robert Bea-attributed phraseology “cracking in high-strength reinforced concrete structures is never expected” must be inaccurate or incomplete. Substitute “always” for “never” and you have the truth that I was taught.

      I’m not hugely familiar with fiber-reinforced concrete; perhaps when correctly designed THAT never cracks at a scale where people can see the cracks – ?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I’ve heard it put this way by contractors whose opinions I trust:

        “There are only two kinds of concrete–the stuff that’s cracked and the stuff that’s gonna crack.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Concrete is brittle.

        That’s why you have steel rebars in there

        A ductile design will allow for deformation to absorb energy, for example, through hysteresis in seismic events.

        1. blennylips

          Sadly, those very reinforcing bars ensure the destruction of the structure within 50 to 100 years, give or take; water->rust->expansion->cracks.

          Romans knew how to do it. Details and a good read in “Concrete Planet” by Robert Courland.

          Much infrastructure to be rebuilt soon…

          1. Wukchumni

            Somebody posted a Reddit thread from a structural engineer last month that was amazing. In essence all of these crappy buildings we’ve been making for donkeys years, weren’t meant for the future. Rebar reinforced concrete being one of the prime offenders.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s a feature, not a bug.

            Not even the works of the great Ozymandias could last forever.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And they are not even the oldest man-made objects.

                But this is the modern world. I will need to buy some new shoes soon.

              2. lyman alpha blob

                And many of the Greek buildings currently in ruins were destroyed not by age and the elements, but by Xtians looking for building materials.

                Been to a few sites where right next door to the ruins you can see a Xtian church built using marble blocks scavenged from the neighboring ancient site.

            1. Massinissa

              At least the monuments of Ozymandias and those like him were at least *intended* to last indefinitely.

              Modern buildings and structures are basically designed to be replaced in only a few decades time.

      3. jsn

        I agree with you. Some forms of cracking are normal to unavoidable. There is way to little information here to judge except that it would make a good headline.

  6. Darius

    Jerri-Lynn, when you say Big Data will be misused by The Man, you’re talking of course about Robbie Mook. Right?

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Meant The Man, plural– so many possibilities here, far be it for me to impose limitations. (Perhaps watched too many Proud Mary performances on youtube in the last couple of days for a project. Why? Don’t ask!)

      1. DJG

        Hmmmm. And here I thought that only the performance by Tina Turner mattered. (Although recently, at the wedding of one of my nieces, a Chicago-area band managed to pull off the song with soul, mirabile dictu.) You are a stalwart.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          Of course– TT’s take is what matters. She owns Proud Mary, just as Jacqueline du Pré owns the Elgar cello concerto. But which TT performance?

  7. WheresOurTeddy

    Face It, The Mighty U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Finished

    Take the logical extension of this train of thought.

    Why are there still surface ships AT ALL?

    Subs are the only ships which are not floating targets. It’s a missile world now, but don’t expect the merchants of death slurping at the trough to acknowledge it until thousands are dead and our national pride in our military is (finally) lanced.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Small crafts such as the missile ships the ruskies put in the black sea are cheaper than subs and still hard to hit before they launch their weapons. They arent for everything obviously but why reinvent the wheel.

      1. RMO

        I remember having a conversation with a former Canadian submariner in which he said that the rules of the war games when he was active (70’s to early 80’s) were that referees could never judge an aircraft carrier to be sunk – that even when they got their old O-class boat in a perfect firing position to let go with all the bow tubes that aircraft carrier was still considered afloat and capable. Given that in a real battle a Soviet submarine would have been using nuclear warhead equipped torpedoes this would seem to indicate that, if his story was accurate, the aircraft carriers have been of questionable value in a full scale war with an real enemy for quite some time. Given how many nations the U.S. has been able to place bases on their use as portable airfields probably isn’t all that vital either.

  8. Darius

    The aircraft carrier encapsulates the platforms of both parties. Rent extraction and militarism at home and abroad.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And they are miserable places to serve. I have yet to meet anyone who had a positive experience on an aircraft carrier.

          1. ambrit

            Actually, worse. Imagine being a woman living in a college where almost all of the men are testosterone pumped jocks or jock wannabes. (Some license with the Truth, {a partially owned subsidary of Elite MSM LLC} taken.)

  9. fresno dan

    Face It, The Mighty U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Finished American Conservative. Agreed. So, remind me, why are we still building them? I know, I know: MIC!

    Those who continue to defend the aircraft carrier have an obvious solution: missile defenses can stop any incoming attacks and keep the carrier relevant for decades. That seems like a reasonable argument, except for one very basic problem: first-grade math tells us it’s flat-out wrong.
    I think this Archdruid blog post gives a more interesting and detailed background of how carriers could be defeated than the American Conservative article.

    Survivors’ accounts of what happened aboard the naval task force over the next hour are confused and in places contradictory, but apparently shipboard radars detected nearly a thousand targets suddenly airborne on the southwestern horizon. At least half of those were false echoes, electronic decoys produced by Chinese “spoofing” technology, and many of the remainder were physical decoys meant to draw fire away from the supersonic cruise missiles that constituted the real attack. Even by the most conservative estimates, though, there were at least 200 of the latter. The task force had some of the best antimissile defenses in the world, but naval strategists had determined decades beforehand that a sufficiently massive attack could be sure of getting through.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, I read the same story. The iconic photograph of that war was supposed to have been a beached wrecked aircraft carrier. I am afraid that the aircraft carries are in the same position as battleships were – on 6th December 1941. A few facts. In 1956 an aircraft carrier had an effective strike range of 1,210 nautical miles. By 2006 it was down to about 496 nautical miles and when the F-35 comes into general use, it will be even less. And there will only be about half the number of planes that the 1956 counterpart had. What was the range of those Chinese carrier-killers again by the way?
      The new carriers will cost $13 billion but when you factor in the cost of the aircraft, ships, people, etc for a carrier group it works out about $30 billion ( which is totally worth it if you want to attack such military powers as Granada or Panama but not so great going head to head with China or Russia. With the wide spread availability of these missiles you probably have a coupla dozen countries which carriers should not get too close to. Time for a rethink I would say of what ships need to be built.

      1. Mark P.

        I used to do global security-related journalism and chatted with Pentagon consultants and analysts, and we’d discuss this stuff. Those guys mostly knew all this in detail 15-20 years ago. The inflection point was the Falklands War back in 1982, after all, and since then missile technology has only become more democratized (ironically enough, by the U.S. leading the way by giving RPGs to the the likes of the Taliban in the 1980s).

        One analyst — employed by the U.S. Navy — even used to cite Admiral Dönitz, overall commander of the German U-boat fleet (and the man who in 1945 briefly succeeded Hitler as German head of state to give the surrender order after Hitler’s death). During WWII, Dönitz would have every new U-boat commander come by his office and when they discussed the future of naval warfare Dönitz would point to a photograph of the empty sea he had on his wall, and say, “That is the future of naval warfare.” Meaning, it’d be all submarines.

        Like I say, the thinkers know this stuff. By the same token, however, maybe the French armorers before the Batttle of Agincourt in 1415 could have told the French noblemen, mounted and armored, what was probably going to happen. They’d still have been ignored.

    2. David

      Aircraft carriers are about power projection: taking aircraft, helicopters, troops and intelligence assets to places you would not otherwise be able to send them. They have always been vulnerable, and have always needed to be protected. The first aircraft carrier to be sunk, that I’m aware of, was HMS Glorious in 1940, destroyed by older technology – a German battleship.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Paul Van Riper has known this for over 15 years.

      The emperors (and their generals) truly have no clothes. We’re well and truly boned if they ever get the Russia war they so desperately yearn for.

  10. Romancing The Loan

    The Counterpunch article’s a good one. He creeps right up to the edge of calling our multinationals traitors. The new acceptability of the McCarthyite strategy has the potential for some blowback! “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?”

    1. Jean

      “You are either with us or you are with the corporate terrorists” to quote a familiar farce.

      That’s the position that the average American should take when it comes to multinational corporations or corporate colonizers that threaten what’s left of our small business communities.

      Any form of combat, theft, sabotage or shaming is allowed.

      While you are at it, include big banks, polluters and the .1%

  11. Toske

    I’ve been observing Mulvaney lately. He’s great at that trick where, when you get a question you don’t want to answer, you “explain” it by painting the situation as being much more obtuse and complex than it actually is, but with a vibe that says unequivocally “I just genuinely want to try to help you understand (my dishonest, jargony answer), and the possibility of your being too dumb to understand hasn’t even crossed my mind,” rather than the subtle (or not) nose-in-the-air feel that typically accompanies such responses. Thus, if you didn’t know he was being dishonest, you might be reluctant to ask for further clarification for fear of looking stupid.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Why I always travel with a paper map in hand TreeHugger. I do the same. But then, I don’t own a smartphone– my trusty dumbphone suits me fine. Sadly, I’ve heard the skill of mapreading is much in decline among younger people.

    I find the same thing. While my smartphone or gps’ I’ve used can be useful for finding where I am while lost, I’ve always found them inefficient for many types of urban navigation (not least because they are sometimes inaccurate, as I recently found in using googlemaps to trace pedestrian routes between two points). I’m glad some reseach backs me up on this. A particular problem I find with using a phone for foot navigation is that the orientation is always changing – there is a lot to be said for firmly knowing which was is north. However, I have to say that when I bike tour, gps maps are far superior for navigation. While I’m pretty good at memorising routes, its still profoundly annoying to have to constantly stop to check maps.

    Its not just smartphones though. When I lived in London I found it strange how many misconceptions Londoners had about the ease or otherwise about walking or cycling (my two preferred modes of getting around) between some places. A common conversation was ‘oh, I walked from X to Y after work’ to be greeted with a ‘but thats impossible, it must have taken you hours!’ – when in reality the distance was very short. I concluded that the famed London Transport Map (which deliberately distorts relative locations for the sake of legibility) was responsible. People assume that if two tube stations are difficult to connect, they must be far away, when in reality they might ony be a few hundred yards apart.

    I can’t find the link right now, but I think there is some pretty firm evidence that the overuse of phone navigation actually prevents the neurological development of mental maps. I’m frequently surprised at how terrible some younger people are at judging walking/cycling distances, and this could be one reason. The one good thing is that plenty of people seem to recognise this – I recently did a nighttime hiking navigation course and the trainer said he found it refreshing how keen teenagers were to learn the old style compass and map navigation methods. Of course, teenage hikers are probably a pretty small minority.

      1. PlutoniunKun

        I actually find the opposite – I find that I can enjoy my surroundings more when I don’t have to think too much about navigation, especially in unfamiliar urban areas and I don’t have to be constantly making mental calculations. Although standing at a junction with an unfolded map and a puzzled expression is, I find, a great way to attract helpful people.

      2. drexciya

        In The Netherlands, there are designated biking routes, based on specific connection points (special green boards with numbers), which, combined with the special red road signs, are pretty easy to use. At most of those points there are proper maps as well. When I go out biking I first check an on-line map to get a rough idea of the route, and I have a map with those designated biking routes and the numbers of the connection points which are relevant. I hardly ever use navigation on my phone.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      I concluded that the famed London Transport Map (which deliberately distorts relative locations for the sake of legibility) was responsible.

      Yes, exactly. I spent many visits being misled by the Tube map. It wasn’t until I started regularly carrying and studying a London A-Z map book that I really understood the geography and street layouts. Made getting around much simpler and much more fun. Even some of the natives I knew carried one regularly (and everybody I knew had a copy at home).

      1. clinical wasteman

        My rough estimate would be that ALL Londoners keep at least one copy of the A-Z, an astonishing piece of work that reliably connects every back alley and cul-de-sac in what is really a succession of large cities built on top of one another over 1,000+ years (or more, depending how you count it).
        I do see a lot of people trying to use phones as a substitute in the street, so the A-Z may not be carried around as ubiquitously as it once was. But every ‘interactive’ digital/GPS map I’ve seen seems close to useless for urban walking/public transportation purposes. The reason PK mentions is a big part of that, combined with the fact that you can only see small streets/details in a close-up that loses all relation to general direction, or else see general direction portrayed as a sort of wasteland with just a couple of major arteries (for cars) running through it. The assumption underlying these features seems to be that the way to get somewhere is to STAY LOST throughout the process and follow instructions unquestioningly. Why anyone would want to do that rather than understand in advance where you’re going in general, then use a map to check smaller details & to avoid veering off course, I can’t image. And I certainly don’t see how anyone habitually using these things would ever get to know the shape of a city at all.

        1. Craig H.

          My screen is 2″ X 4″. If you need a navigation visual aid that is pretty useless. I use the map on my phone to look up things that I know exist that I know almost exactly where they are. Gas station maps fold out to 2 feet by 3 feet and they don’t do that because they are getting a kick out of laughing at you trying to fold it back up.

          Or they did; do oil companies make gas station maps any more? In the 1960’s they used to give them away for free.

        2. PlutoniunKun

          The A-Z is a great publication, although I always found it annoying how the multi page format found it difficult to build up a ‘big picture’ mental map of the city. I love pouring over a single page map, its so much more informative. Thats why I often prefer those freebie tourist maps over more overtly accurate A-Z books.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Yes, can easily see why anyone could be frustrated by separate pages grouped into short series, interrupted when the map jumps to the other side of town. The opening grid showing the whole of Greater London by page number works well for me, although maybe less so for visitors or Londoners going to completely unknown parts (for me, much of the West, even after 22 years). I also wonder whether a single sheet map including all parts of the sprawl could be made much smaller than the average London apartment. It would be big enough to make refolding a nightmare, anway: I have enough dyspraxic trouble refolding normal-size ones, so

          2. Oregoncharles

            It isn’t London, but we have an “Atlas” of Oregon that is page-by-page and includes an amazingly fine detail. In fact, it includes roads that turn out to be gated off, as we discovered the hard way.

            The small maps make it difficult to plan a route, BUT there is an overall map at the back that shows the major roads and the coverage of all the page maps. The A-Z doesn’t have that?

            1. clinical wasteman

              Similar method applied to the whole state? That’s even more impressive if the cartographers found a way to do that. Does the Oregon map book zoom in closer for Portland & other larger cities/towns, or is the scale the same? Glad to hear of its existence anyway; maybe one day I’ll get a chance to use it.
              Sounds like the only major difference is that the A-Z doesn’t include streets/roads on the key grid, but it does list all of those by name in an index at the back.

    2. Carolinian

      Well you could say that computer assistance has reduced our ability to do many things including simple arithmetic but I don’t see that as particularly sinister. Our minds are freed up to deal with more important tasks (or, alternately, to watch television).

      I’m a map junkie and think many of them can be simply beautiful to look at. But I rely totally on my Garmin when traveling by car and find it to be highly accurate for navigation. IMO this is a big step up from those old service station maps you could never get to fold back right–particularly if you don’t have a passenger to read the map for you.

    3. fresno dan

      November 29, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Agree entirely. 2 annoying problems I encounter:
      1. I was down in La Jolla with friends and we wanted to find A Mexican restaurant – so we wanted to find what at least passes for a “city center” some kind of aggregation of restaurants – no such designation.
      2. Even though we knew we were probably less than 5 miles from where we wanted to be, the GPS wants to always put you on freeways. REALLY? In SOUTHERN California at about 5 pm???

          1. fresno dan

            Enquiring Mind
            November 29, 2017 at 10:57 am

            Well, as people seem interested, I think the place we ended up at was:
            Verdes El Ranchero
            7404 La Jolla Blvd
            La Jolla, CA 90237

            I can’t swear that is the place we ended up – first time there (at both the restaurant and La Jolla) but I remember making a right to park and we were able to walk down to the ocean after dinner.
            Inexpensive but tasty food and fairly inexpensive beer! Good time had by all!

          2. beth

            My first time in La Jolla, a local woman told me that the locals eat at the restaurants on Prospect Street where Jose’s is located..

    4. The Rev Kev

      After reading this article I had the feeling that I could have written this myself – if I had the talent, the writing ability as well as being articulate enough to marshal my facts. Backpacking Europe, I did the exact same things as she did. Job number one was always grabbing a map to orientate the city in my mind as far as transport, accommodation and sights was concerned. It also gave insight into how cities are laid out. Like her, I still have maps from back then that still evoke lots of memories from that time. Still have my London A-Z map book too. For some reason those lines that I drew on those maps back then bring back memories not found in any of the photographs that I took but a totally different set. It was also very useful how to find north with a map and just an analogue wristwatch.
      Things like Google Maps on mobiles is great until something happens and then you are done like a dinner. My niece recently was supposed to rendezvous with my sister and I but her mobile went flat. When there was enough charge to start it up she would load her map but then whenever someone rang her, away went the map. She virtually went all the way to Woop Woop before she could find her way back. If going somewhere new I still find myself making a “mud map” to consult and check off street names. And Arizona Slim was spot on about talking to people rather than staring at a screen. Doing so you miss what is going on around you – like that gorgeous girl walking down the street your way.

    5. RUKidding

      I use paper maps whenever I can. I do enjoy having the maps feature on my smartphone, and it is handy and useful. But like others who’ve commented, I find it much more useful to have that large overview perspective that a paper map provides.

      That and… the fact that my smartphone may not be able to access the maps due to no Internet access or whatever, which happens frequently to friends of mine. As well: I’ve often found the GPS systems in cars to be notoriously unreliable. Fortunately, because I had already consulted a paper map beforehand, I’ve saved myself an enormous amount of time and hassle by NOT following what the GPS system is telling me to do. In one case, it literally was sending me in the complete opposite direction from where I needed to go.

      Like others here, I also have a rather huge map collection, which periodically I have to weed out, but I enjoy reviewing both road and trail maps and remembering hiking/walking/biking/car trip adventures of days gone by.

      1. JBird

        Do you remember the Thomas Bros Guides? Fantastic road mapbooks. Just right size often with a large easily refolding paper map. The book was almost indestructible, clear, well designed grids, street listings, points of intrest, hospitals, etc all in a regularly updated, largish trade paperback size.

        Then Rand McNally bought them out, got rid of most of the mapbooks, and all the cartographers, and mapmakers for Thomas Bros. and crapified what few mapbooks they kept.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      For an alternative explanation of why our young people have to rely on smartphones and computers for things we’re comfortable doing manually, research the last thirty years of “education reform,” with emphasis on the content of the standardized tests they’re forced to take and score well on because their teachers’ jobs and their schools’ survival depend on it.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Health care crack-up:

    A wave of hospitals and other medical companies are likely to restructure their debt or file for bankruptcy in the coming year. Health-care bankruptcy filings have more than tripled this year according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Private rural hospitals may be among the hardest hit, Winston & Strawn’s David Neier said. The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, reduced payments to hospitals that serve a large number of poor and uninsured patients, known as “disproportionate share hospitals,” on the theory that more patients would be insured under the law.

    Congress delayed those cuts several times, but didn’t do so for the current fiscal year, which may “single-handedly throw hospitals into immediate financial distress — many operate on less than one day’s cash,” he said in an interview.

    Just as they ran Fannie and Freddie into the ground, the 535 Kongress Klowns now are blowing up hospitals in Flyover Country. Fortunately this unpleasant process is invisible from the coasts. :-)

    1. beth

      And … in my city many physicians are dropping all Medicare patients, even if they are long time patients. I’m not getting younger unfortunately.

      1. pretzelattack

        same here. scary but what are you going to do? in my city, some are imposing extra costs–“concierge service”, where you pay them a couple of thousand or so a year, like a retainer, to be your doctor.

    2. m

      Here is how they are cutting funds. After a stay or visit to MD you get a survey, the survey must say 100% satisfaction or they reduce reimbursement. There are other ways, but that is one where you have control. If you truly have a complaint take a business card & write directly to hospital or MD. As for surveys always 100% the best ever. Otherwise your tax money will end up at Mayo.

  14. FelicityT

    Working Class with No Living Wage: The Absurd Math of US Income — John Laurits

    In addition to highlighting a massive injustice it would seem to also argue in favor of a UBI and address the monetary-side pushback it often gets. That 7 trillion mentioned equates to (if my math is right, boy was that a lot of 0’s to deal with) 21k per person.

    A functioning government, capturing that unjust amount of wealth — and you could argue the number’s actually higher depending on what the maximum wealth you believe any single entity or individual should have — effectively removing it from the money supply, and then providing dollars back to everyone in the form of a Universal Basic income would seem to result in zero change in the total money supply.

    There does still exist the argument for work providing meaning. A UBI does not automatically mean no work is done. That work might still even be what we call wage labor. What it does mean is a change in why we work, what we might do, what we might be willing to do, the conditions we might be willing to do it under, and so on.

    Is this, compared to the state of things now a relatively foreign concept? Certainly, but that would not seem to be a compelling argument against. Our way of organizing ourselves, something touched on in the Against the Grain interview link in Water Cooler yesterday, is relatively new. The hunter-gatherer tribe would not only have had much more unstructured time compared to ourselves but much deeper social connection as well. Precisely the type of social arrangement shifting to a UBI and away from ‘wage labor or go die’ could promote.

  15. mpalomar

    Propublica article on healthcare grifting.
    Among the stories cited; the women with the cyst was a lawyer married to a doctor and she still got punked. Shakedown nation.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The whole article is a cautionary tale about the overuse of medical procedures, especially screening tests. Be very wary of these things — and those who are pushing them.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        My wife recently had a small issue and the hospital did an ultrasound and said they saw a polyp which to be on the safe side, should be removed. She went in this week to have this fairly invasive although short procedure done and when the doctor came in to debrief her after she woke up, surprise, surprise, there was no polyp. He said it was probably a small blood clot which can look like a polyp on an ultrasound, and it likely flushed out on its own He did remove something or other that hadn’t been detected on the original ultrasound, perhaps just to say he’d done something while he was in there looking around.

        Just forwarded the article to my wife. I’m going to be very interested in what the bill for this one will be. Luckily we have very good health coverage through my work – makes me wonder if that’s why they wanted to do this seemingly unnecessary procedure in the first place.

    2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Yes, I noticed that as well. Shakedown nation indeed (in reply to mpalomar).

      And I agree w/ your point AS as well. Healthy scepticism and not buying into the doctor is god mindset necessary to avoid the grifting.

    3. fresno dan

      November 29, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Once one dispatches with the idea that certain professions must be restrained by codes of ethics and reasons for existence beyond being a profit center, this is the rather obvious outcome.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      The woman who got the $1800 bill for her daughter’s ear-piercing was also a lawyer. She claims she “assumed” the procedure “would be free.”

      As a member of a profession that essentially charges by the minute for its “expertise” regardless of outcome, I can’t help wondering what made the lawyer think that the doctor would be willing to do anything “for free.”

      Maybe she thought “honor among thieves” is a real thing.

      1. MtnLife

        Because she was affluent. It’s only the little people who get charged for things. /s

        All these stories of corporate America putting the screws to people really makes me want to return the favor :Bezos, anything you need done that’ll be at least $1 million. No, that’s not gouging – it’s personalized pricing. Just like Amazon.
        EA’s Wilson – I see you are confused. That massive price you paid was just to get me here. You have to do the work yourself. If you want me to do it you can buy these randomized loot boxes. Some make me do the work, others make me change clothes. Good luck!
        This doctor – well, I’m here to take that tree off of your house. Insurance has got you covered. Want me to clean up these leaves while I’m at it? Sorry, your insurance said that the leaves weren’t necessary and they aren’t paying. That’ll be $5k.

      1. Jean

        Depends on the numbers of hair shafts cut.

        Why didn’t this dumb woman get her daughters first tattoo while she was at it?

  16. Pat

    Matt Later fired this morning. Announced by Samantha Guthrie at the start of the Today Show.

    One credible accusation, with indications of more cited in the announcement.

    1. ambrit

      And yet I see no mention of the “Lolita Express” anywhere recently. Too many ‘co-respondents’ available in high places?
      Maybe I’m being too conservative here, but it looks like the elite octopus is gnawing off some of its’ smaller tentacles.

      1. Carolinian

        It’s cheering to see some of these media dinosaurs shoved out the door but you may be right that the execs with the real power will skate. Pam Martens has talked about how the widespread use of binding arbitration in Wall St employment contracts allows much misconduct to stay hidden.

    2. fresno dan

      November 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Matt “Later” – I assume you mean Lauer – not a Freudian slip?
      see you later Lauer….

      1. Pat

        fresno dan, you are correct. What wasn’t correct was the auto correct feature on my phone that ignored by correction of their correction. (Why do I feel caught in a trap…)

    3. Wukchumni

      The which hunt this time around has only gotten celebrities or people in the industry axed, similar to the witch hunt of the late 40’s-early 50’s.

  17. russell1200

    The carriers are not that easy to take out, but they are putting too many eggs in one basket. I never heard that the USN ever really came up to a successful counter to the large Soviet wake-homing torpedoes for that matter.

    The problem (and this goes back to WW2) was pinpointing the carriers well enough to launch a strike and still have them be there when it arrived. Not easy to do with them out in the middle of the Pacific. But given the way we tend to like to park them right of peoples coasts, that solves a lot of the problem.

      1. fresno dan

        Christopher Fay
        November 29, 2017 at 10:11 am

        From the link:
        The first one turned out to be (do you believe this?) that “the American aircraft carrier is big and fast . . . “ The second one – “it has many weapons . . . “ The third reason – “it is well defended . . .”. The fourth reason – “it acts prudently . . . “ And, finally, the fifth – “the American military technologies are the best in the world . . .”.
        Do a thought experiment and substitute for “why carriers probably won’t be sunk” with “why the US will probably prevail in Afghanistan”….(or better yet, why the US won’t be sunk in Afghanistan)

    1. WJ


      You’re right. Those are both great. I found the Binney piece yesterday, and the piece on reasserting sovereignty from the Left is especially intriguing, as it focus upon the modern monetary theory (currency creation by sovereign legislative fiat) that many NC readers are drawn to. Thanks a bunch.

    2. howard in nyc

      A couple of weeks ago I watched the documentary film the Binney article mentioned, A Good American, very well done and worthwhile.

  18. fresno dan

    Turning The Corner In Afghanistan Moon of Alabama

    I had a hard time counting all the corners and if the corners were actually turned – there were some corners turned but than re-turned, un-turned, and de-turned….
    but I came up with a Tridecagon – which seems to me perilously close to being a circle…

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bali’s fiery volcano could end up temporarily cooling the entire planet Vox

    Does it cool more than man-made-climate-change has so far warmed?

    If that is the case, do we need to do more…just to even things?

    And do we prepare for the cooling of the next super volcano, say, the one under Yellowstone?

    1. Andrew Dodds

      Assuming a similar impact to Pinatubo in 1991-2, the impact would be ~ -0.4K, decaying back over 2-3 years. So.. a rewind back to 1998-level temperatures till about 2020, then back to trend.

    2. Wukchumni

      Laki blowing up in Iceland in 1783 was one of the prime movers in the French Revolution, when after a series of bad or failed wheat harvests on account of the aftereffects in the atmosphere, the price of the main staple of the people: bread, rose above their daily wage.

      You know, that “let them eat cake” quote.

    3. blennylips

      Does it cool more than man-made-climate-change has so far warmed

      Good question! Let us use the universal unit of comparison, the Hiroshima blast.

      As of right now:

      Our climate has accumulated
      Hiroshima atomic bombs
      of heat since 1998

      How much energy in a hurricane, a volcano, and an earthquake?

      “In all, Mount St. Helens released 24 megatons of thermal energy, 7 of which was a direct result of the blast. This is equivalent to 1,600 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima”

      A super volcano would release about the entire planet’s arsenals’ worth.

    4. Oregoncharles

      If it’s Yellowstone, full scale, most of us won’t have to worry about the cooling – which would be extreme.

      I gather the blast zone would end at the Cascades; not sure how far east.

      1. ambrit

        The real problem would be the ash cloud fallout. The affected area will be determined by weather patterns at the time of the blast. The underlying problem will be the loss of so much of the worlds grain growing region, the Midwest. The starvation resulting from a Yellowstone mega eruption will be worldwide.

    5. Edward E

      Depends on if the sun is going to have another Grand Solar Minimum and if volcanic activity VEI increases while the sun spots are absent.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    North Korea says latest intercontinental ballistic missile can reach anywhere on US mainland Independent

    All the way to Wall Street?

    That’s scary.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      I mean, it’s one thing if they can hit Alaska, but there are VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE in New York and Washington!

    2. L

      Unfortunately this is actually quite clever on their part. They also took the time today to stress that their sole target is the US (see here [The Diplomat]. Their prior short range missiles rattled Japan, South Korea, and China. By showing that they can hit the US and then stopping local provocations they can drive a wedge and buy themselves space to make peace with the neighbors or at least divide them to survive another generation.

      1. fresno dan

        November 29, 2017 at 11:25 am
        Thanks for that!

        Various analysts have argued that North Korea with it provocative actions in recent months, including the launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japanese territory and a sixth nuclear test, is trying to “decouple” the United States from its regional allies. The rationale behind Pyongyang’s strategy: The United State will likely not risk the destruction of an American city by a North Korean nuclear strike to defend Seoul or Tokyo*. As a result, neither Japan nor South Korea can count on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for protection.
        Hmmm….I’m thinking Seoul or Tokyo could be more valuable to a red president than many blue cities….as well as many red cities to a blue president. (or vice versa – if you want war, nothing like an attack on your own base)
        WW1;Vietnam; mideast ??? seems we sacrifice Americans all the time for non-Americans.
        AND I don’t think we’re ever trying to protect foreigners – we’re trying to protect our money…
        * dominoes

  21. Meher Baba Fan

    Phones versus Maps. Using maps is about situational and physical awareness. An orientation in dimensions. Knowing the landscape intuitively. So that, very soon one doesn’t need the map anymore once basic landmarks are learnt. The physical awareness of place and space and distance is absorbed and this learning is exponential. Relying on the observations made in real time pronpts the body to access its own knowing. Phones dont challenge or teach they simply replace the cognitive function. I can understand about skillset atrophy

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Buick Introduces New Self-Buying Car The Onion

    No chance of self-hating AI cars*?

    *Presumably a certain minimum programming is needed to realize the meaningless of existence (as an AI car).

  23. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: The Internet is Dying

    The technical scheme arose from an even deeper philosophy. The designers of the internet understood that communications networks gain new powers through their end nodes — that is, through the new devices and services that plug into the network, rather than the computers that manage traffic on the network.

    Not quite. The internet was designed as a system to provide robust communications between forces during a nuclear attack. DARPA and Vint Cerf. On a route from A to C through B, if a nuclear strike takes out intermediate node B, dynamically alter the route to go through intermediate node D.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump takes rare action against China:

    But on Tuesday morning, Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations predicted that Trump’s love affair with Beijing would be short-lived for three reasons:

    1) Trump is finally getting his national security team in place — and that team is composed almost entirely of China hawks.

    2) That team is soon to produce two official strategy documents, which will likely name China as “first and foremost a strategic competitor.”

    3) Politics.

    It took almost one year to get his national security team?

    Was it due to his outsider status? Will a progressive, a real dove progressive, have an even harder time to assemble a team?

    Notably, the Commerce Department “self-initiated” these investigations — as opposed to taking them up in response to a petition from a U.S. firm. The American government has not self-initiated such a trade measure since the George H.W. Bush administration cracked down on Canadian softwood lumber imports in 1991.

    That’s pro-active. Activist government, you can almost say.

    “We are from the government and we are here to file a complain to help.”

    During his recent trip to Beijing, Donald Trump sounded less like a pugnacious populist than a giddy globalist. The president raved about the superlative beauty of Chinese military parades, the joys of eating dinner with Xi Jinping, and the “absolutely terrific” bilateral meetings he had with the Communist leader. Meanwhile, Trump neglected to utter a critical word about Beijing’s human-rights abuses at home or belligerent activities in the South China Sea.

    With Trump, it’s day-to-day.

    Amazing people still over-react to his diversions. “Look at what he tweeted this morning!!!”

    If the Chinese were surprised, they had not been studying the Art of War.

  25. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Inside the White House, Michael Flynn pushed proposal from company he said he had advised WaPo

    However, Flynn advocated for a plan that would help the company after entering the White House, according to people familiar with the exchange.

    Eureka! wapo discovers the revolving door! Better late than never, I guess.

    Now on to “think” tanks and ex-government officials as lobbyists.

  26. perpetualWAR

    Cordray could have made the CFPB fabulous. What he did: hired the same ol’ same ol’ regulators. Why not bring in William Black? Why not shut down all foreclosures with forgeries? Why not really make the financial institutions accountable?

    For the very same reason Seattle now has Durkan as Mayor: Obama specifically said “The banks did nothing illegal, only immoral.” And all the minions were to fall in line.

    Durkan didn’t prosecute after Sen Levin handed her 800+ pages detailing the WaMu criminal behavior. She could have ordered an audit of the WaMu REMIC mortgage loan lists. She did nothing.

    Just like Cordray.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      One reason Trump dares to attack the CFPB is that Cordray doesn’t have much to show from his tenure there. Now, if he’d made it fabulous….

  27. bob k

    re bruenig’s piece it is always important to note that debts that can’t be repaid eventually won’t be repaid

  28. ChrisG

    Meghan Markle’s visa: the article made us laugh – we’re just going through the UK hoops (wife =East Asian, but luckily we’ve been married a while). The author forgot to mention the National Health Service surcharge, introduced recently, at £200 per year of visa duration. Must be paid before submitting the visa application.
    As we compiled our answers and supporting documents for the 76 page form, my wife wondered if she would really be welcome in the UK.

    1. Annotherone

      Me too! It was kind of satisfying to know that Ms Markle must jump through the same kinds of hoops my husband had to, in order to marry little ol’ me. Later, I had to jump through hoops in the opposite direction (an even more frustrating experience!) What we’ll do for love, eh!

  29. DJG

    Monica Lewinsky Just Reminded America. Yep. For years, the Democrats kept the timebomb smoldering with the endless tee-hee-hee-ing about “only a bee jay.” Monica Lewinsky also proved herself over and over to be a refined person who didn’t want to drag the scandal out (or get dragged into the muck again by the Clintonian wing of the conserva-Dems). She kept asserting that the affair was voluntary, which helped to make Hillary Clinton look like the long-suffering wronged woman.

    But what goes around comes around. When the oppo people at the Clinton campaign arranged for the Trump tape with all of the famous vulgarities to be aired, did they truly not understand how fast Monica Lewinsky (as metaphor) was going to come back? She never went away in their dirty little minds–so what would happen among the general public? So now we are in the middle of something (for now, I’m with Emily Litella till I can understand the cultural change going on). Part of it is a sex panic. Part of it is an admission that nothing changed for so many years, in spite of all the posturing. Some of it is the continuing rage of upper-middle-class women at the perceived slight of Clinton herself not being elected (as if she was not tarnished by Bill’s impeachment). Part of it is a massive attempt to keep things as they are, because lurking below the surface are the results of years of degradation of the government and inequality in distribution of income.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      clinton’s relentless hammering of of the “misogyny” issue during the campaign, especially with that troglodyte bill clinton standing next to her, always defied logic.

      Maybe her principal handlers were just too young to remember the viscerally disgusting spectacle to which the clintons subjected the nation while they were in the White House, preferring to rely on the more modern “genius” of “data” analysis and artificial “intelligence.” Who knows how they rationalized deliberately stepping on this most obviously lethal land mine.

      Having said that, I’m so very glad they did it. The dam that seems to have broken deserved to have been blown up a long time ago.

    2. JohnnyGL

      I think the correct view is that inequality of income reflects inequality of power…..which is a breeding ground for all kinds of abuses, including various sexual abuses.

      To use the Weinstein example as the most horrifying….the problem isn’t (just) that he harassed a few women. It’s the legal, social, cultural, political mechanisms that let him do it to dozens and dozens of women over the course of decades and all of the tools available to the rich, powerful, well-connected people like him that allowed him to bury his awful behavior for so long.

      The massive power imbalance in our society that, inevitably, leads to all sorts of abuses (sexual and otherwise) is really what’s at the heart of the problem. THAT is what the media or any of the elites are unwilling to confront.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Powerful positions exist in many places.

        New Age gurus.





        Football coaches.

        Movie moguls.

        News anchors.



    3. dcblogger

      That is not how I remember it. As I recall Lewininsky was betrayed by Linda Tripp and legally harrassed by Kenneth Starr. She bore her ordeal with admirable courage.

      However, she was a power groupie. Now Clinton and all rich and powerful have an obligation to walk away from groupies, but she threw herself at him. It is an insult to victims of harassment to describe Lewinsky as harrassed. Exploited yes, but not harrassed and there is a difference.

  30. Jim Haygood

    Party like 2005:

    A telling detail in the Commerce Department’s new-home sales report out Monday: more than 36% of homes sold during October had not yet been started — the highest share since late 2005.

    If buyers are forking over money to buy homes that haven’t even been started yet, let alone finished, it’s a real confirmation of strong demand, said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, the industry trade group.

    June 13, 2005: Time publishes its notorious cover, Home $weet Home: Why we’re going gaga over real estate. Sales offices for Vegas condo projects, where you could put 10% down on a to-be-built unit depicted in a rendering, were mobbed like rock concerts as attendees fought to hand over their money.

    Are we bubbling yet?

    1. Brian

      The one thing I haven’t seen compared to these glorious new home sales was the headline just prior that told us used home inventory has rarely been smaller. No one understands supply and demand. How can the major component of home sale be left out of the equation to pimp new home sales? Particularly when we are back to 1993 new home sales?
      Its a joke and we don’t have the facts to celebrate yet. Party on.

        1. Wukchumni

          “Make sure you don’t mention Argentina or Venezuela.”

          Don’t cry for me hyperinflation,
          The truth is, I never left you…

    2. Wukchumni

      Homes & the MIC were just about the only thing China couldn’t beat us at in the global economy, so we went with our strengths when it came to bubbles in both arenas.

  31. DJG

    Jerri-Lynn: On Hemingway. Yes, he certainly wrote some books that have not held up well. Yet I periodically re-read The Sun Also Rises, which is deeply angry about the effects of war, about the meaningless of life in the wake of war, and about the ineffectiveness of self-invention and reinvention. So don’t write off Hemingway just yet.

    But don’t get me going on the more-than-obsolete F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    But do get me going on Gertrude Stein and her canny observations about life, Alice B. Toklas, Picasso, and even Hemingway.

    1. Wukchumni

      I really wanted to like Hemingway, but couldn’t get over the prose & consequences of his writing. Every time I tried a different tome, i’d quit 40 pages in.

        1. Mark P.

          Yeah, it’s the short stories. Nobody — not Tolstoy, not Chekhov, not anybody — ever wrote any better than ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro.’

          Some of the novels, conversely, are frankly awful. Though never wholly without interest.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            Agreed, the short stories stand up. It’s the novels that now seem so dated– but I concur, none of those is wholly without interest.

    2. Carolinian

      But don’t get me going on the more-than-obsolete F. Scott Fitzgerald.

      He did write one great book.

      And Hemingway’s early stuff is also still great IMO even though Gore Vidal said he should be writing for Field and Stream. Sadly it’s all too common for novelists to be great early and then fade.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      one might argue that well into our Second Gilded Age, Gatsby is as relevant now as any time since the New Deal was eviscerated.

      Not the best writer, obviously.

      1. sd

        Love this sentence…

        They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

    4. Christopher Dale Rogers


      John Dos Passos stands up remarkably well, particularly his trilogy USA, the same is also true of those authors who shared their experiences of WWI here in the UK.

      1. DJG

        Agreed. The USA Trilogy is brilliant. A neglected masterpiece with many insights into the American character.

    5. WJ

      I think Willa Cather far surpasses most of them all. She is still very much underrated. My Antonia, The Professor’s House, Death Comes for the Archbishop, all brilliant works.

      1. DJG

        Death Comes for the Archbishop is a masterpiece.

        I’ll also throw in Edith Wharton. I think that Age of Innocence and House of Mirth are more insightful than Gatsby.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          Agree re Death Comes for the Archbishop and the value of the work of Edith Wharton, disagree re Gatsby.

    6. Fiery Hunt

      Hemingway’s best work was never his novels, IMNSHO.
      Check out his short stories…”Cat in the Rain” , “A Day’s Wait”, “Hills like White Elephants” plus all the famous ones…

      Some of the best any American has produced.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I forgot Hammett!

          BTW, apropos of nothing, my user name is from a Melville quote:

          “Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?”
          The Whale or Moby-Dick

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            No, mustn’t forget Hammett (and Chandler for that matter, although he’s English, and incidentally, attended the same school as the irreplaceable P.G. Wodehouse).

            1. Wukchumni

              I’ve been devouring the mysterious B. Traven, whom they now think was from the fatherland.

              Quite the talent~

              1. clinical wasteman

                Oh yes, this is one recommendation that should reach every one in giant letters. ‘The Death Ship’ is the best book I know of on work, borders, logistics, police, insurance, etc, & is also poetically & comically wonderful.
                It seems to be more or less agreed now that Traven was the Munich revolutionary fugitive and actual former clown “Ret Marut” (possibly born Otto Feige), but it’s still not clear today what his role was in the English-language version of a book that was originally written in a kind of German-language shadowing of American working-class idiom picked up during Traven’s own experience as a death-shipper, oil worker and Wobbly cotton-picker. Translation credits exist but are sketchy, & Traven had the distinction of being distorted on BOTH sides of the Cold War.
                On the outlying chance that anyone is interested (or sees this belated reply at all), the link below is something I wrote years ago about all this, & especially about the way the BBC creep who seems to have ‘identified’ Traven missed the point of the writing completely.

          2. ChrisPacific

            Back when my wife was dabbling in writing exercises and attempting to write in noir fiction style, I realized she hadn’t read Hammett, so I tracked down a copy of The Maltese Falcon and gave it to her. She was, as you would expect, delighted:

            “I’m half a page into this chapter and I already know that X has been having an affair with Y and he wants to break it off, even though neither of them has said anything yet!

            1. Mark P.

              And even though Hammett never gives you any interiority and tells you directly what Sam Spade or any of the other characters are thinking.

              It’s all camera-eye reporting. When John Huston made his name — and moved from being a scriptwriter to being a director — with the film version of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ starring Bogart, he was smart enough to simply translate Hammett’s book with the dialogue as it existed into a script and film that.

              1. ambrit

                The film version of “The Glass Key” was produced the same way. Dialogue almost intact.
                FWIW, Hammett worked on the script for the Ricardo Cortez version of “The Maltese Falcon.”
                I’ve always been partial to Ross Macdonalds’ crime fiction. His wife, Margaret Millar wrote very good crime books. Both are worth reading.

  32. Heraclitus

    Vanguard has a trillion dollars under active management now, and some very good active funds.

    Whoever wrote that article doesn’t know a lot about Vanguard. If you read Barron’s interviews with Vanguard’s current chief, you see that the index funds for which they are famous don’t take up a lot of his mindspace: the boss would rather focus on the actively managed funds on which they make money.

  33. DJG

    Interesting sentence in the Wikipedia entry for the Duck Antidote this morning: “Buddhists regard the ruddy shelduck as sacred and this gives the birds some protection in central and eastern Asia, where the population is thought to be steady or even rising.”

    I wonder if it is the “saffron robes” the duck wears, which match the habits of bhikku and bhikkuni.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They don’t believe all birds are sacred?

      I would think, to them, all beings, or rather, sentient beings, are sacred.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Specific species are considered sacred – in Bhutan, the Black Necked Crane is considered particularly precious. I was fortunate enough to visit the Phobijikha Valley. The area was only recently electrified because the local villagers refused to be connected to the grid unless the government agreed to underground every single cable for fear that they would kill a bird.

  34. TK421

    That article about Monica Lewinsky is hilarious! “Had Lewinsky been a bit younger, her willingness to enter into a sexual relationship with an adult would have been immaterial.” Usually I have to go to “The Onion” for a laugh like that.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Are you implying a 21 year old woman could not be manipulated by a predatory leader of the free world?

      Okay, one bad sentence does not equate the entire article to be “hilarious.”

      I actually have thought WJC a predator in his pursuit of Lewinsky as soon as I heard about the affair. He’s a gross predatory old man who should have been ousted from the presidency in shame….just like Nixon.

        1. perpetualWAR


          Please come to the conclusion yourself.

  35. L

    EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Signals His Environmental Strategy WSJ. Sorry, patient readers, couldn’t fins a non-paywalled version. But note that the strategy includes a plan to convert food waste into power, rather than dumping it into a landfill.

    Sure, he loves any technology that involves burning carbon.

    (please forgive the snark I’m on hold with my Senator’s office)

    1. Eclair

      Yes, L. Food waste makes great compost for adding organic material back to the soil. Why burn it? Seattle residents (and businesses) have a third waste container … food and yard waste. You can throw in leaves, weeds, meat, and greasy pizza boxes (non-waxed, please).

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        Good point– burning makes little sense to me, although I can understand why it’s important not to shovel more of the stuff into landfills. Don’t understand why there’s not more focus on improving waste management, as creation of excessive waste and its disposal is such a contributor to global warming. But focusing on something as ordinary as setting up an infrastructure to encourage compositing is so much less sexy than the latest gee whiz techno-fix.

  36. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Damascus throws ‘transition’ up in air by skipping Geneva talks

    Quelle surprise!

    In other news, General Sherman decided to skip the peace talks with Robert E. Lee after marching through Atlanta and burning it down. Seems that some folks in the media don’t get it that when you lose a war, you aren’t in a very strong negotiating posture.

  37. Wukchumni

    If I was a narcissist in charge, and was sick of seeing brickbats thrown my way in a constant barrage, cutting the internet down to size would put you well on the primrose path to getting there.

    Think of how neutered we’d become, if this ball & chain went away?

  38. ChrisAtRU


    Wow … it’s truly scary (or infinitely hilarious) to imagine what will finally constitute peak #InternetOfShiteThings.

    You really have to wonder what the view from the game room is like for #BroGrammers and #SexualMisadVentureCapitalists.

    From their vantage point, it’s obvious that little else exists but a steady stream of “first world problems”:
    – Can’t squeeze fruit to get my juice!
    – Don’t want to go to the corner store in this still-too-brown-to-be-really-gentrified neighborhood!
    – Need an app to mask my social ineptitude!
    – Don’t wanna ride a bus with the poors!
    – OMG, am I really a bad shag?!

    That anyone would want to listen to these people in any effort to make the world a better place is both amazing and extremely dangerous.

  39. Wukchumni

    Congrats to bitcoin for passing the iMaginot Line and blasting through to the other side in an assault on wounds to those of us not holding, but still amused.

  40. Wukchumni

    For me, it’s all about the topo map, the lay of the land is splayed out in front of me in a 7 1/2 minute quadrangle, brevity being it’s Baedeker.

    They’re essential in not only learning landmarks in the backcountry, but also where you can wander off-trail not getting cliffed out, or what to expect the next ridge over, that sort of thing.

    …and it’d make for rough TP in a pinch, try that with your smartphone

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “No maps for me,” says she.

      “I sail by the stars.”

      And that reminds me of the quote, ‘we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

  41. Matthew G. Saroff

    BTW, there is a work around to the WSJ paywall, but I won’t post it here without prior approval of someone in authority at NC.

  42. Ben Around

    I really recommend the FT Alzheimer’s Disease article. The comments were even better.

    There appears to be a growing body of evidence that too much dietary sugar creates too much insulin and this slows the glymphatic system that cleans the brain as we sleep.

    It is worth stating that too much dietary sugar creating too much insulin response rots us from the inside out and causes multiple systems to go haywire. It would be surprising if the brain were not subject to parallel problems the heart, limbs, and eyes face.

    At any rate, it is good to see the field move past this inane, “gee, we don’t know why this happens (or seem too curious about its causes).”

  43. ewmayer

    o “macOS bug lets you log in as admin with no password required | Ars Technica” — Erm, there’s long been a ‘legal’ backdoor of this sort on Macs, via boot into single-user mode and some fiddling of settings there, which allows one to subsequently create a new user account and give it admin privileges – I recently resorted to this when I took a used macbook a friend had gifted me with a few years back and which I’d put into storage in anticipation of my then-current macbook going boink. The boink occurred over the summer, and I realized my friend had neglected to give me the admin password, and he had forgotten it in the interim, as well. I’d guess much of the thriving secondary market in used/refurbished macs relies on this hack.

    o “Scientists discover new optimism in fight against Alzheimer’s | FT” — Never read the FT since it’s paywalled and jumping through the well-known hoops to get around that ain’t worth it for this kind of standard-issue MSFM rag, but to any readers who did go there, might said optimism be accompanied by any tangible *progress* in the fight against the disease, or is this mere confidence-fairy-ism?

    o “The Indian telecom regulator’s net neutrality recommendations may be the strongest in the world |” — A Dutch friend informs me that in the Netherlands, net neutrality is a legal *requirement*, which seems rather more impressive than a bunch of “recommendations”. So how about stopping patting yourselves on the back and instead turning those recommendations into actually-enforced regulations, India?

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