2:00PM Water Cooler 12/19/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Net Neutrality

“Think about all of the recent news stories that are about or are a result of concentration/deregulation of media power and the inevitable consequences. Obviously, net neutrality falls under this category” [Observational Epidemiology]. “For most of the 20th century, the government kept a vigilant watch for even potential accumulation of media power. Ownership was restricted. Movie studios were forced to sell their theaters (see United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc). The largest radio network was effectively forced to split in two (that’s why we have ABC broadcasting today). Media companies were tightly regulated, their workforce was heavily unionized, and they were forced to jump through all manner of hoops before expanding into new markets to insure that the public good was being served. In short, the companies were subjected to conditions which we have been told prevent growth, stifle innovation, and kill jobs. We can never know what would’ve happened had the government given these companies a freer hand but we can say with certainty that for media, the Post-war era was a period of explosive growth, fantastic advances, and incredible successes both economically and culturally. It’s worth noting that the biggest entertainment franchises of the market-worshiping, anything-goes 21st century were mostly created under the yoke of 20th century regulation.”

“A Public Internet Is Possible” [Current Affairs]. “In the last few years, several cities or counties around the the country entered the broadband market themselves. Their goal was to provide cheaper and faster internet. The list includes Chattanooga in Tennessee, Lafayette in Louisiana, and Wilson in North Carolina. The results have been astonishing. For example, Chattanooga was able to provide discounted prices to lower income residents and sell internet access at speeds that surpassed Google Fiber, which until then was the fastest internet in the country. Other cities like Sandy, Oregon were able to offer fast speeds for prices lower than the average ISP’s packages. The winners in all this were the consumers rescued from the Invisible Consolidating Hand’s shortcomings by a government able to prioritize the provision of an important public good over maximizing profit. You could imagine a future in which every city and state ran an ISP that would ignore the FCC’s repeal vote and provide faster and cheaper internet on the basis of net neutrality principles. What reasonable consumer would ever choose a private ISP over the public broadband? If we followed this model in more cities, we could create a world where the repeal of net neutrality doesn’t matter. To compete with the public broadband, the private ISPs would have to ditch their restrictions and actually have to lower their prices as well.”


“Things are already starting to quiet down a bit on the trade front as Christmas approaches, but don’t expect that to last long. On Jan. 3, USTR will hold a hearing on Whirlpool’s request for emergency safeguard restrictions on washing machine imports from around the world. The U.S. International Trade Commission has already recommended import relief, but USTR also plays an advisory role as Trump makes up his mind on what to do. Nothing says “Happy New Year” like squeezing into USTR’s F Street annex building and struggling to hear witnesses over the acoustically challenged sound system” [Politico], Infrastructure!



“So in a little less than a year, the Democrats could have control of both houses of Congress. What will they do then?” [The Week]. As far as establishment Democrats go, we already know from what Jones and Northam did: They’ll backtrack on all their promises, and the Establishment will then vigorously kick the left for pointing this out. (Of course, we already know this from 2006, but now we really know it.)


UPDATE “Buried inside the Alabama election, a lesson for the GOP in 2018” [NBC]. “Tallies out of Alabama’s biggest vote-producing counties suggest the election was just another example of a trend that’s shaped the most-watched races of 2017: the GOP’s retreat from the suburbs. More than 60 percent of the vote on Tuesday night came out of just five counties — Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery and Shelby — around big metro areas. And the swing away from Moore in those counties compared to the state’s last Senate race in 2016 was extraordinary. Roy Moore lost the vote from those five counties by 24 points, 37 percent to 61 percent. In 2016 Republican Sen. Richard Shelby won those same counties by 9 points, 54 percent to 45 percent. That’s a 33-point swing.” So if the Republican establishment decides to run more pedophiles in 2018 and 2020, Democrats are all set.

“Rebelling Republican Suburbs Offer Democrats Path to House Control” [New York Times]. It’s not clear to me whether this is reporting, or the Times in its role as liberal Democrat house organ. Clearly, the Democrat establishment will do anything rather than try to expand their base and appeal to the vast majority of all voters with universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class. Hopefully, Thomas Frank is working on a new book about this.

“Roy Moore is still not admitting he lost the Alabama election” [Twitter Moment].

Obama Legacy

“Obama’s Interview With Prince Harry Looks Utterly Delightful” [Vanity Fair]. No doubt.

2016 Post Mortem

“Why did Broward destroy 2016 ballots? Sanders ally seeks US probe.” [Christian Science Monitor]. “Florida regulations require retention of records related to a federal election for 22 months. That would mean that documents from the August 2016 Democratic primary election would not become eligible for routine destruction until late June 2018.” The Sanders ally is Tim Canova and his opponent was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of blessed memory.

“Experts: Broward’s elections chief broke law in destroying ballots” [Politico]. “‘The documents were not destroyed because they were maintained in an electronic format,’ Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told POLITICO. ‘They have the documents. … They did a two-day inspection of the ballots.’ But Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, and his attorney say they wanted originals to make sure they weren’t tampered with. Digital copies can be altered, they said. Seven election-law lawyers interviewed by POLITICO do not share Snipes’ attorney’s interpretation of the statute. Nor does the Department of Justice’s voting division, which is in charge of enforcing the federal law.”

Tax “Reform”

“Republican Senators Will Save Millions With Special Real-Estate Tax Break” [International Business Times]. Sirota has been all over this. Kudos!

“We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America” [Vox]. File under Things Suddenly Discovered To Be A Problem Under Trump That Were Never A Problem Under Obama, much beloved by liberal Democrats.

Noted Without Comment: “A longtime champion of the working class, Mr. Rubio had tried in vain to secure a more generous tax break for lower-income Americans as Congress embarked on a sweeping rewrite of the federal tax code” [Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times].

New Cold War

“You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets,” Clapper added. “And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him” [CNN]. Clapper made clear he was only speaking figuratively when referring to Trump as a Russian asset.” Oh. Sounds like Clapper and Morell should get together to make sure they’re on the same page, speaking figuratively.

“People with knowledge of the investigation said it could last at least another year — pointing to ongoing cooperation from witnesses such as former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as a possible trial of two former Trump campaign officials” [WaPo]. I’m waiting for the next stage of the “puppet” to “interference” to “meddling” to “collusion” declension: “appearance of impropriety.”

“The Entire Russian Hacking Narrative Is Invalidated In This Single Assange Tweet” [Caitlin Johnstone, Black Agenda Report]. Odd to see Johnstone receiving BAR”s imprimatur, but this: “If [Mueller is running] an actual investigation into an actual alleged crime, then Assange is necessarily either (A) a source of useful information, (B) a person of interest, or (C) a suspect in the crime itself. None of those allows for any excuse for not speaking to him. If it’s either (A) or (B), he’s a potential goldmine of information for their investigation to make use of. If it’s (C), they can grill him and try to get him to give something up. Even someone caught on video committing a murder eventually gets interviewed by the law enforcement officials responsible for investigating their case to establish the accused’s side of the story; if they didn’t, they’d be committing malpractice. Since they did not seek to question Assange early and extensively, this cannot possibly be an actual investigation into an actual allegation.” Hard to argue with that.

The repetitious loon quoted at left was Director of Clinton’s Rapid Response team in 2016:

The Clintonites really have lost their minds.

Trump Transition

“The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement deemed the work of Steven Gardner’s firm so shoddy that it cut ties with the firm. Now President Trump has nominated Gardner to lead the federal agency that once called his work ‘a piece of junk'” [Daily Yonder].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Michigan Gerrymandering Reform Hits A Major Milestone” [HuffPo]. “A Michigan grassroots group says it has gathered enough petition signatures to put a measure on the 2018 ballot that would allow voters to choose whether to amend the state constitution to create an independent redistricting commission. The group, called Voters Not Politicians, plans to turn in more than 425,000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office on Monday to begin the verification process. The group needs at least 315,654 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The campaign and petition collection effort was run completely by volunteers, though the group has recently brought on paid public relations, fundraising and legal assistance.”

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, November 2017: “A pivot higher is underway in the new home market. The latest evidence comes from housing starts and permits which matched their unusual October strength with stronger-than-expected results for November” [Econoday]. “New home sales shot higher in September and data from the sector haven’t slowed down since in what looks to be a major positive for the fourth-quarter economy.” And: “Note the low level of single family starts and completions. The “wide bottom” was what I was forecasting following the recession, and now I expect a few more years of increasing single family starts and completions” [Calculated Risk]. And but (from charts): “On this capita basis housing starts are for all practical purposes are still at or below all time lows of prior recessions” (figures are not population adjusted) [Mosler Economics]. But: “The backward revisions this month were moderately downward.The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month to month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series – and it shows permits rate of growth declined, and completions rate of growth declined” [Econintersect].

Current Account, Q3 2017: “Hurricane receipts from foreign insurance companies for losses resulting from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria shaved $24.9 billion from the nation’s current account deficit to a much lower-than-expected $100.6 billion in the third quarter” [Econoday]. “But the quarter also benefited from a $6.2 billion narrowing in the goods deficit to $195.3 billion which saw gains for capital goods exports and aircraft. Other details include a narrowing in the secondary income deficit on higher income from government fines and penalties and a widening in the primary income surplus on increases in portfolio investment income and in direct investment income.” And but: “Another hurricane influenced number. Without the receipts from foreign insurance companies looks like it would have been about the same as last month” [Mosler Economics].

Commodities: “The announcement made by uranium giant Cameco in November that it’s suspending operations at its flagship McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan and surprisingly deep three-year cuts by Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom provide a ‘step change/ for uranium prices says a new report on the sector from Cantor Fitzgerald equity research” [Mining.com].

Commodities: “The search is on for the next banana with mass appeal. A fungal disease threatens the Cavendish variety that dominates global sales of the fruit today, kicking off a quest by researchers and fruit producers to find a replacement” [Wall Street Journal]. “The banana-destroying fungus is an example of how failing to cultivate a diversified supply chain can lead to disaster, much like how a smartphone manufacturer can be thrown into disarray if a typhoon cripples production at the sole factory producing an important part. Unlike in the technology sector, replacing the Cavendish won’t be as simple as opening a new factory.”

Shipping: “As online shopping, or e-commerce, becomes an ever-growing piece of holiday retail sales, so, too, does the commensurate returns, or, reverse logistics, activity” [Logistics Management]. “Product returns comprise 8% of total retail sales but are much higher for e-commerce sales from 15%-30% depending on the product type and peak during the holiday sales season.”

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin’s illiquidity is going to be a huge problem when the bubble bursts [Business Insider]. “Like the price of bitcoin itself, transaction time has been rising as the months go by. Right now, it takes four and a half hours to confirm a bitcoin trade, on average” [Business Insider]. “The transaction time is built into the system, as each transaction must be confirmed by six bitcoin miners. There is a finite number of them, and the more transactions they have to confirm, the longer it takes as their network bandwidth fills.Worse, they charge for transactions and prioritize transactions based on price. Those who pay more get processed first. Imagine how bad this would get on a day some negative news hits the wires and the significant holders of bitcoin decide ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’ve made my money, I am bailing.’ The majority of bitcoins are held by a tiny percentage of the market — 40% by 1,000 people. Those few holders could crash the market whenever they wanted.”

The Bezzle: “Some creative Tesla owners came up with a way to make a few bucks from their parked EVs: Cryptocurrency mining” [EcoMotoring News]. “Any source of electricity you don’t have to pay the normal rate for, or that you don’t have to pay for at all, is an opportunity for miners to increase their already thin profits. Teslas and other EVs have free access to power at many charging stations, so it was probably only a matter of time until somebody decided to plug their mining computers in.” In terms of class and culture markers, wowsers, what a two-fer.

The Bezzle:

Good for him, but doesn’t this feel a bit too much like froth for comfort?

The Bezzle: “At Tuesday’s hearing on Uber’s license denial appeal, Transport for London (TfL)] also said it had ‘one or two’ issues regarding the accuracy of details provided by Uber. ‘The decision letter says, well, there are one or two issues about the extent to which the information given to TfL was correct,” TfL lawyer Martin Chamberlain told the court. ‘That is one of the points that the decision is based on'” [Reuters]. I’m not sure how to translate the English “one or two issues” into American, but I suspect it means something like “no [family blogging] way.”

The Bezzle: “[I]t is essential to remember that maintaining this “real-life Tony Stark” persona is tremendously valuable to Musk. In addition to the ego gratification (and we have every reason to believe that Musk has a huge ego), this persona is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Musk. More than any other factor, Musk’s mystique and his ability to generate hype have pumped the valuation of Tesla to its current stratospheric levels” [Observational Epidemiology]. “When Musk gets tons of coverage for claiming he’s about to develop telepathy chips for your brain or build a giant subterranean slot car race track under Los Angeles, he keeps that mystique going. Eventually groundless proposals and questionable-to-false boasts will wear away at his reputation, but unless the vast majority of journalists become less credulous and more professional in the very near future, that damage won’t come soon enough to prevent Musk from earning another billion dollars or so from the hype.”

The Bezzle: “Or You Could Just Do Away With The Algorithm” [Eschaton]. Atrios is 100% right. Prompted, I believe, by this thread:

Five Horsemen: “Amazon has gained over 30 percent since this chart began on April 26th.” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 19

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 74, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 19 at 11:48am.

Puerto Rico

“Broken bonds: The role Wall Street played in wiping out Puerto Ricans’ savings” [CNBC]. This is horrible. Read for the detail. Some UBS executives should be strung up, but of course they have impunity, like all CEOs, so that will never happen.

Guillotine Watch

“One family told the kids they were riding on Santa’s sleigh, so they required the pilot [of their rented private plane] to dress up like Santa. Other holiday requests include mistletoe on each doorway of the plane, presents under a tree onboard, goggles so flyers could pop champagne onboard safely and a menorah lighting onboard” [Moneyish].

Elon Musk on public transportation: “I think public transport is painful. It sucks. Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end? And it doesn’t go all the time. It’s a pain in the *ss. That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great” [Wired]. Worse, one of the strangers might be a sociopathic squillionaire, who kills at scale.

Class Warfare

“Peterson Foundation and Ford Foundation Launch US 2050” [Ford Foundation]. “In the coming decades, a transformational wave of foreseeable demographic changes will create a new American tapestry. Social, economic, and technological changes will reshape the domestic and global economy, and the nation’s fiscal condition will face increasing challenges resulting from a range of factors, including an aging society and a structural mismatch between spending and revenues. These interconnected trends will have significant, but not yet fully understood, implications for the social and financial well-being of Americans. US 2050 will explore these issues and their link to the country’s fiscal and economic health.” Gawd help us all… .

“AN APPEAL TO THE REPUBLICAN-SUPPORTING PLUTOCRATS OF AMERICA” [Brad DeLong]. “In the America the politicians you support are building, it may well become the case that one day your grandchildren are in the center of a web of political influence, and the next day they will find themselves not: Some of them will be involuntary guests at the Wichita Ritz-Carlton, The rest will try to make a run for it in the Learjet, or in the rubber boat.” So the Democrat-supporting plutocrats can continue sipping white wine out on the deck of an evening, watching the flames in the distance?

“Identity in the modern sense is necrological. It is an obituary notice that overwrites us, in lapidary fashion, with the deposit of history: race, class, sex, nation, a list of attributes. It is somehow both about singularity and belonging; who we uniquely are, and who we are like because of our ancestry” [Salvage Zone]. This is pretty dense, and uses Lacanian categories, but if you’ll like it, if it’s the sort of thing you like. (I found it at BLCKDGRD, which is another one of those interesting small blogs Comcast would like to strangle by killing off net neutrality.)

Oops: @tanehisicoates (apparently putting a period or perhaps an exclamation point to a controversy generated by Cornel West: “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle”).

News of the Wired

“The problem with ‘cloud’ isn’t its meaning, which is roughly ‘where offsite storage and computing happens.’ The problem is that the tech industry uses “cloud” to blur where stuff actually is and where it is happening. It’s a sleight-of-noun trick that causes far more harm than good. It bloats cognitive overhead, wastes time and forecloses countless opportunities” [Doc Searles]. “Apple has also done its ironic best to both popularize podcasting and to make listening to podcasts as hard as possible. The worst thing it has done, of course, is locate podcasts in iCloud, while making it nearly impossible to figure out where the hell one’s podcasts are.”

“The College Student Who Decoded the Data Hidden in Inca Knots” [Atlas Obscura]. “Medrano noticed that the way each cord was tied onto the khipu seemed to correspond to the social status of the 132 people recorded in the census document. The colors of the strings also appeared to be related to the people’s first names…. ‘Manny has proven that the way in which pendant cords are tied to the top cord indicates which social group an individual belonged to. This is the first time anyone has shown that and it’s a big deal,’ [Sabine Hyland of the University of St. Andrews] says.”

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

Shane writes: “Lilium longiflorum and ox-eye daisies.” And look at that sky!

Readers, thanks for the latest batch of pictures. My anxieties are considerably eased when I have a good stockpile!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Wowsers. House GOP Budget kahuna tells ‘Morning Joe’ crew that ‘no one in Texas cares about carried interest (so that’s why the GOP isn’t removing it)’, and that the Morning Joe crew is ‘obsessed’ with ‘carried interest’ in order to try and shut down that line of questioning.

    Words fail me.

      1. sierra7

        The problem is what is buried in the bowels of this “500 page” tax bill??????
        Too many if not all these bills carry buried self-interested individual pols particular desires and are never known to the general public……..Something has to change!
        Outside of that thx for that beautiful path of daisies!!!!

  2. Sam Adams

    Re: Comcast and net neutrality
    Just today called into customer retention as the cable bill hit stratospheric heights. My neighborhood has only one cable internet access network. Normally a call will get some relief. Today I learned the meaning of monopoly when I was informed by the agent , accept the current pricing because the prices are going up and you’ll be paying even more.

            1. Oregoncharles

              First he’d have to figure out which one lives where.

              Our neighbor’s granddaughter piggybacked on our wi-fi for a couple of months this summer. Definitely doable. Haygood might have a pretty high use rate, though.

              There’s a proposal to use overlapping wi-fi’s to set up a user-based internet. The problem is the areas where they don’t overlap.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes, but there’s probably no reason why neighbors couldn’t get together and knowingly share an account. This probably violates your terms of service if that matters.

        Other option is to buy a house next to the local library. Our library even made things easier by mounting a Cisco router on the outside over the entrance…you don’t even have to get out of the car to use their internet.

      2. sleepy

        Well it might subject you to criminal prosecution for theft.

        In New Orleans in the 70s, if the public utility cut off the lights and you climbed back up the pole and reconnected it, you got 10 days in parish prison.

        1. nippersmom

          But isn’t their justification for killing net neutrality the claim that itisn’t a public utility?

        2. Jean

          *Well it might subject you to criminal prosecution for theft*

          Bull! If your neighbor’s porch light shines in your window, are you stealing electricity?

          It’s electronic spectrum man! Built and paid for through taxpayer funded DARPA.

          1. sleepy

            You don’t have to crack someone’s password to see your neighbor’s porch light.

            In the above-poster’s scenario he stated he would do just that, crack the password on their wifi to receive it for free. I would hazard a guess that constitutes a crime.

            1. Jean

              Oh yeah, I was thinking of routers without WPA protection, with no passoword, which are common around here.
              I’m sure that’s legal.

              1. Procopius

                Don’t be too sure. Troglodytes have put all kinds of laws in place in small towns. I’m sure there are still towns where any automobile travelling after sundown must have a man with a lantern walking in front of it. I’ll bet there are towns where using someone else’s wifi without their knowledge is declared to be theft.

      3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


        I knew a guy in rehab who had a program that exploited wi fi range extenders shitty security when it connects to the router. Something to do with the WPS.

    1. The Pen is mightier than the ISP

      Maybe time to brush off some useful knowledge on information sharing and build up a physical address base for the people you want to reach and that want to read you?

      NC in printed version maybe?

      from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samizdat

      “The techniques used to reproduce these forbidden texts varied. Several copies might be made using carbon paper, either by hand or on a typewriter; at the other end of the scale mainframe printers were used during night shifts to make multiple copies, and books were at times printed on semiprofessional printing presses in much larger quantities. Before glasnost, the practice was dangerous, because copy machines, printing presses, and even typewriters in offices were under control of the organisation’s First Department, i.e. the KGB: reference printouts for all of these machines were stored for subsequent identification purposes, if samizdat output was found.

      Physical form
      Samizdat in disguised book-binding seen in the Museum of Genocide Victims, Vilnius
      Samizdat distinguishes itself not only by the ideas and debates which it helped spread to a wider audience, but also by its physical form. The hand-typed, often blurry and wrinkled pages with numerous typographical errors and nondescript covers helped to separate and elevate Russian samizdat from Western literature. The physical form of samizdat arose from a simple lack of resources and the necessity to be inconspicuous. In time dissidents in the USSR began to admire these qualities for their own sake, the ragged appearance of samizdat contrasting sharply with the smooth, well-produced appearance of texts passed by the censor’s office for publication by the State. The form samizdat took gained precedence over the ideas it expressed, and became a potent symbol of the resourcefulness and rebellious spirit of the inhabitants of the Soviet Union. In effect, the physical form of samizdat itself elevated the reading of samizdat to a prized clandestine act.

        1. paul

          It was nabbed by a bunch of glibertarian tossers in the uk years ago. Noble, courageous dissidents, they were not.
          Neoliberal claquers, they were.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well . . . if “samizdat” is taken, how about “samizdata”? Someone could start a magazine about how to Catapult the Samizdata.

            Thumb-drives are light enough to be strapped to the legs of carrier pigeons. And so on.

        2. CalypsoFacto

          The secure scuttlebutt gossip protocol (linked here a while back) is effectively a digital samizdat:

          In Scuttlebutt, the “mesh” suffices. With simply two computers, a local router, and electricity, you can exchange messages between the computers with minimal effort and no technical skills. Each account in Scuttlebutt is a diary (or “log”) of what a person has publicly and digitally said. As those people move around between different WiFi / LAN networks, their log gets copy-pasted to different computers, and so digital information spreads.

          What word of mouth is for humans, Scuttlebutt is for social news feeds. It is unstoppable and spreads fast. Once the word is out (just an arbitrary example) that Apple is releasing a new iPhone model, there is no way to restrict that information from spreading. A person may tell that piece of information to any of their friends, and those friends may in turn spread that information onwards.

          as a dorky teen in the late 90s we called moving or sharing digital things by physically taking a burned copy on a physical disk (faster than pre-broadband speeds) the ‘sneakernet’. Maybe in the soonish future people will need to spend physical time together to share internet and get updates on their feeds.

          1. Daryl

            I’ve experimented with Scuttlebutt, and was unable to get it to work. Mastodon was a lot easier. Both seem interesting, but as with many open source/volunteer software projects documentation, usability PR are currently large issues. It’s interesting to me as a techie but I don’t see how it makes the leap to the general population. I hope I’m wrong.

    2. voteforno6

      Comcast / Xfinity pulled another neat trick with their internet service. If you’re a subscriber, you get access to their Xfinity Open Wifi anywhere it’s available. What they’re not exactly advertising is what this entails…any router of theirs that’s being rented by a customer is also a wireless hot spot for Comcast subscribers. So, if you’re using their equipment, instead of your own, you’re also providing other people’s internet access, and paying for the privilege.

      Now, I truly do appreciate the concept behind it – it does make sense, from a certain point of view. That being said, if you’re a Comcast / Xfinity customer, buy your own router.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        You can log on to your router and turn that off (on its webpage) did it for a friend in the US by remote desktop.

      2. bob

        They’ve innovated the duplex cash register.

        Fisrt, the ISP’s wanted to charge you more for using your own wifi router, back when wifi was new.

        Then, they “gave” (rented) you the routers, which they had deliberately crapified to limit their wifi range in order to stop freeloading neighbors.

        “So, if you’re using their equipment, instead of your own, you’re also providing other people’s internet access, and paying for the privilege.”

        Now, they want you to pay for the service, rent the router, and let anyone else use the bandwidth.

        I was told by a CSR from Spectrum that “5G” was all about letting the ISP’s share your bandwidth. They want every Wifi box to be a cell tower, that they control access to.

  3. jo6pac

    “Republican Senators Will Save Millions With Special Real-Estate Tax Break”

    That’s nice and all but were are the demodogs names? Yes, the demodogs will whine and point at the repugs hoping they miss the evening news list.

    1. Paul Cardan

      It is getting ugly. As noted above, Coates deleted his twitter account early this morning. People are choosing sides. In Coates’ corner, most are dismissing West as envious (while also noting that Coates is younger and, they say, better looking). Others charge West with unreasonably demanding that Coates champion every cause, failing to see that West thinks the causes are interdependent. And then there are the people who say that both West and white supremacists are criticizing Coates and this implies that West is in bed with the white supremacists. Indeed, Coates himself said something along these lines right before deleting his Twitter account, tossing feminists into the same very crowded bed while he was at it: “feminists, white supremacists, and leftists all in agreement. wow.” In West’s corner, there’s a Counterpunch article from a few months back called “Race v. Class? More Brilliant Bourgeois Bullshit from Ta-Nehesi Coates.”

    2. Homina

      I thought West was pretty gentle in the original Guardian article. Coates is out of his mind with a huge blind spot on Obama, who was just as shitty or even worse than Bush on black Americans, foreign dead people, wealth disparity, etc. “Deeply moral person” my ass. Honestly, not much more than Idi Amin was (only choosing a terrible warmongering mass-murderer black leader because that’s what Coates seems to pay attention to).

      “We Were Eight Years in Power” is also just on it’s face a terrible name for a book unless the overall theme was “and our leaders were just as bad as any other”.

      And just to add, with little evidence as I haven’t read all their stuff and of course a bit is good: He seems as a big a new intellectual star/fraud as Malcolm Gladwell.

      “Reparations”. Great topic, very serious, maybe should happen. Coates: “We need to talk about this, but like, not with specific things, logistics. Just….talk amongst yourselves.”

      1. SnS

        I am in agreement about Obama, Coates, and Gladwell.

        West’s article is a piece of these times. I am intrigued with the reckoning taking place withing the liberal world. I see a similar reckoning taking place within the Christian world. Prominent people are risking approbation to speak out about what they see as dishonest representation.

        I find these conversations hopeful not because they will heal divisions within these communities, but because they will break down barriers of openly discussing each groups disgust with the other. And once conversation starts, understanding grows, and, when everyone is properly exhausted by the arguing, compromise can come.

  4. Jason Boxman

    When was Rubio ever a champion of the working class? Perhaps this was when he perpetually failed to show up to his job, during his last stint as a Senator.

  5. Jim Haygood

    The tyranny of Chinese credit rating agencies:

    One day last May a 42-year-old journalist, Liu Hu, opened a travel app to book a flight. But when he entered his name and national ID number, the app informed him that the transaction wouldn’t go through because he was on the Supreme People’s Court blacklist — literally, the List of Dishonest People.

    Although Liu hadn’t signed up for Zhima Credit, the blacklist caught up with him in other ways. He became, effectively, a second-class citizen. He was banned from most forms of travel; he could only book the lowest classes of seat on the slowest trains. He could not buy certain consumer goods or stay at luxury hotels, and he was ineligible for large bank loans.

    The way Zhima Credit is designed, being blacklisted sends you on a rapid downward spiral. First your score drops. Then your friends hear you are on the blacklist and, fearful that their scores might be affected, quietly drop you as a contact. The algorithm notices, and your score plummets further.

    After I left China, I checked back in with Lazarus Liu on WeChat. He sent me a screenshot of his Zhima Credit score, which had increased by eight points since we met. His screen read “Fantastic,” and the font had shifted to soft italics.

    In 2012, Facebook patented a method of credit assessment that could consider the credit scores of people in your network. The patent describes a tool that arrives at an average credit score for your friends and rejects a loan application if that average is below a certain minimum.


    Fiction writer Gary Shteyngart saw this all coming in Super Sad True Love Story, in which the protagonist gets shunned by all the hotties in a trendy bar, as they check out his poor online ratings and post derogatory comments about him in real time.

    1. Summer

      “In 2012, Facebook patented a method of credit assessment that could consider the credit scores of people in your network. The patent describes a tool that arrives at an average credit score for your friends and rejects a loan application if that average is below a certain minimum.”

      I remember that story. I’ve suspected it will hurt the younger generations who have less of a credit history than older people. They will have no other sources or records to counter the algorithm. It’s a trap being laid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Just hang out with rich friends???

        *Average, not median. So, a billionaire friend will boost that average quite a bit.

    2. djrichard

      Fiction writer Gary Shteyngart saw this all coming in Super Sad True Love Story, in which the protagonist gets shunned by all the hotties in a trendy bar, as they check out his poor online ratings and post derogatory comments about him in real time.

      I wonder if that’s what Blackmirror’s Nosedive episode is based off of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfHcpDVyFrI

  6. voteforno6

    Re: A Public Internet is Possible

    The idea of municipal broadband is appealing, but the issues are a bit more complex. The last mile access to the Internet is one thing – someone still owns the backbone fiber (AT&T has a large chunk of it, if I remember correctly). Are those corporations required to treat all of those last mile providers equally? Or, can they discriminate between different types of traffic?

    1. djrichard

      The higher-tier issues pale in comparison to the last mile build out needed to become an ISP. E.g. my sense is that Verizon’s fiber-to-the-home FIOS service had a payback that was longer than 10 years. And that’s with them having a good mix of metro customers in the mix. This type of payback is less of an issue for a municipal service, but for private corporations who want 3 year paybacks on investment, a payback greater than 10 years is generally a non-starter. I imagine Verizon thought there would be dividends to their investment. [Imagine their frustration to find that incumbents with more bottlenecks in their infrastructure would be able to collect more “tolls” to get priority treatment across those bottlenecks once net neutrality was lifted.]

      The saving grace though is that at least there’s a definite payback for municipalities to become last mile ISPs. Contrast to high-speed rail which doesn’t really have a payback from what I can tell.

      1. voteforno6

        The payback is definitely there for municipalities – there’s much less of a profit motive for them than for a private ISP provider.

        I wonder, though, with net neutrality (almost) gone, do the companies that own the backbone fiber still have to act as a common carrier, or can they discriminate among ISPs and content providers as well? If so, then this could get really messy – we might see a push from some of the smaller ISPs to bring back net neutrality.

        1. bob

          “common carrier”

          There have been Trillions spent by ISP’s making sure common carrier never gets anywhere near them.


    Schrodinger’s Spook: Putin, being ex-KGB leader, is dastardly, cunning, and skilled enough to turn a sitting US president into his patsy, while simultaneously being so incompetent that he would leave his metaphorical fingerprints all over the act.

    1. Ian

      Hey, considering the lack of any substantitive evidence and erroneous overhyped dead ends and misinterpreted data i’d think this speaks very highly of Putins spook abilities to cover his tracks and mislead and misdirect.
      This is why we must trust the statements of the 17 (3 people from 3 different agencies with highly questionable integrity) agencies in regards to masterfull manipulator Putin.

  8. allan

    House Passes $1.4 Trillion Tax Bill, Nukes Obamacare Mandate [TPM]

    … As the House conducted just one hour of debate on the bill Tuesday afternoon, several protesters disrupted, chanting “kill the bill, don’t kill us,” “liars” and “shame” as they were removed from the House gallery overlooking the chamber. Undeterred, lawmakers proceeded to vote 227 to 203 on the bill. …

    Speaking to TPM before the vote, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) derided his fellow New Yorkers for breaking with the Republican majority and voting against the package, saying they’ve bought into a narrative pushed by “liberal liars” and will be proven wrong when the bill goes into effect.

    “In February, when the new brackets are out, and people get the $100 to $150, they’ll see,”insisted Collins, a multi-millionaire who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. …

    Openly bragging that your constituents are low-information voters used to be considered unwise,
    but these people have no fear. And between Fox, gerrymandering and Citizens United,
    there is no reason for them to have any.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From the article:

      Elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate will increase the number of uninsured people by 13 million by 2027 [according to CBO] and drive up insurance premiums for those who remain in the market by at least 10 percent.

      Because millions of people will no longer be insured and receiving government subsidies, the mandate’s repeal is expected to save the government more than $300 billion.

      Uninsured people will show up at emergency rooms, effectively transferring these costs onto hospitals, which will pass them on to the insured.

      Nevertheless, repeal of hack-in-black Johnny Roberts’ magic-wand transformation of the Obamacare penalty into a mere tax is a great day for personal freedom. Lock him up!

      1. Carolinian

        drive up insurance premiums for those who remain in the market by at least 10 percent.

        Isn’t that like a normal one year increase for the “Affordable” Care Act? In any case I’ve seen non TPM reports that suggest taking away the mandate won’t make much difference because not many pay the penalties anyway. Guess we’ll find out.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I also suspect the mandate is a scam, that the subsidies are much more important.

          At this point, the ACA is already coillapsing from the sky-rocketing premiums, so we won’t get much of a test.

          I’ve always seen repealing the Mandate as desirable.

    2. jrs

      Yes it’s saying that they are dumb but maybe they are. Maybe many of the people directly affected (I don’t mean the rich as by definition they don’t care) only care about this years tax cut and not next years ACA premium increase much less more abstract things like the long term fate of Social Security and Medicare. The first part is already enacted of course, the rest is what we predict is to come out of using the deficit as an excuse to push cuts.

      Maybe many people really CAN’T think long term much less try to understand how anything works in politics to do so. We may be strongly ideological with our distrust of the Republican congress (and the Dems to a lesser degree). But maybe many people aren’t capable of forming any viewpoint at all, not even an ideological one.

        1. JBird

          Oh yes, yes, yes…trying to get something to eat and paying the rent when broke is definitely stressful and concentrates the mind on only those things. There are no worries about anything else because nothing else is real. Climate change or the next election becomes Santa Clause.

  9. Summer

    “File under Things Suddenly Discovered To Be A Problem Under Trump That Were Never A Problem Under Obama, much beloved by liberal Democrats.”

    So true. Last week, a friend rushed to inform me about slavery in Libya. When I began to explain how Libya dissolved during the Obama administration, he lost interest in the conversation.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I work around liberal Democrats on a daily basis. I’ve gotten to the point of tuning them out when they go off on things like:

      1. Russia! Russia! Russia!
      2. Trump is the worst-est president ever!
      3. Did you hear what Rachel Maddow just said?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Oh, silly me. How could I forget the current “Impeach Trump!” frenzy? That should be item #4 on my list.

        Ph, I might add that pointing out that Mike Pence would succeed an impeached Trump does no good. I’ve tried that one so you don’t have to.

        1. Paul Cardan

          I was talking about this with a Democrat just the other night. He brought up impeachment, and I asked him what he thought that would accomplish. Of course, realizing the answer is “Pence,” he admitted that it wouldn’t do much good. Then I asked about the rationale. He said “obstruction of justice,” and noted that it appears as though the ongoing investigation is building a mighty convincing case. “Obstruction of justice?” I asked, “Whatever happened to emoluments? I think it was not three weeks after the election that I heard something about emoluments doing the trick?” After a pause, he remembered: “Ah, yes, emoluments. I’d forgotten about emoluments.” I then noted that the whole effort to remove Trump from office struck me as being in bad form, since Constitutional law pretty clearly makes the removal of a president difficult and there are probably good reasons for this, most likely having something to do with separation of powers and respect for the will of the people (albeit a grudging, patrician respect). “Democratic norms, you know?” He seemed to agree. And I’m sure he’s still all for impeachment on whatever grounds necessary.

          1. Homina

            Tossing darts at the board (Atta in Prague, Curveball bs, vials, etc.) to justify Iraq so reminds me of this Russiagate stuff, I’m just amazed and incredibly sad at how many are pushing this similar irrational rabidness today.

            I guess children or today’s 20-years old I can understand. Or brand new journalists. Or folks who were so stupid they believe both equally. Or of course money-makers. But people like Maddow who I used to respect…Sure, I’m long [long] jaded on liberals too, but still.

            I’ve always thought the best way to tell a person’s true bent (on the freedom-authoritarian scale) is when a change of Presidency happens. Happened for Obama and I spent 8 years trying to tell jerks they were making terrible excuses for him just because he was a Dem, yet doing the exact same things, or worse, as Bush.

            Even now, I mean I hate Trump but maybe I’d need to also calculate a % of time in office vs. countries destroyed and innocents killed and enslaved and cluster-bombs sold, to this point with Trump vs. Obama…

            Trump is not yet the “worst President ever”. Only a non-Iraqi, non-Yemeni, non-Honduran, non-Vietnamese, non-Filipino, etc.** would think so. First world domestic things affecting 6% of global populace isn’t the most important things ever.

            ** Or some pinkie-at-mouth tut-tutter only aghast that Trump is more an outward horrible US President monster than the others. They don’t care about tens of millions of dead, raped, and displaced foreign people. Just care if the US President/admin at the time can fake well that they aren’t responsible.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Man, it’s been over a year already. Tell them to build a bridge to get over it! In another fortnight, when they go off about the election, at least you will be able to say ‘You mean that election the year before last?’

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is another aspect of the appeal of “OMG Russia.” With the paranoia, there is no reason to engage in the actual Administration preceding to Trump and the behavior of Democratic partisans who possessed the faculty to know better but proceeded to applaud Obama anyway. That week in the Spring when Democrats were up in arms about Trump’s deportations ended when they realized Obama’s policies were brutal and effective.

  10. Synoia

    Roy Moore is still not admitting he lost the Alabama election

    One cannot image who else behaves in that manner.

    Hint: Rhymes with Hilarity.

    My Mother’s maiden name was Clinton, and my father always talked about “That Stupid Clinton Look.”

    1. a different chris

      “The market can remain irrational longer then you can stay solvent”.

      I’ve decided pretty much every financial debacle has happened as expected, just not as soon as expected. People pointed out how things were way over the edge in 2005. It does that Wily Coyote thing where his legs just spin in the air before falling.

    2. Homina

      Because it’s not a currency. At this point bitcoin is a crypto-investment. With utterly zero purchasing value. It’ll crash when a few people who’ve spent $500,000 or so on computers find that their new $7,000,000,000 in bitcoins can’t actually buy anything.

      I am obviously not an economist. And I guess some bitcoin investors (again, not a currency unless a hotdog cost a dollar ten years ago and $20,000 today) might’ve made out like bandits….

      And I’m actually very, very curious on that. Has anyone with bitcoins actually sold theirs for actual tens of thousands of dollars to other people who would spend that amount on one or two? I can’t actually recall any example of any bitcoin investor (not holder of currency) actually making a profit. Just potential profit…

      Anyway, again not an economist and my life is a small roller-coaster of poverty levels. My biggest investments are Forever stamps. But this is fascinating and yeah, I hope no people are hurt or whatever, but also waiting for the burst. Or maybe I’m stupid and my disability checks will be 0.02 bitcoin next year….

  11. Darius

    Driving in America you are surrounded by masses of humanity as you sit there on the freeway going nowhere. It’s just that there are layers of steel and plastic between you and the stationary throng that surrounds you. I don’t know what country Musk lives in. London has the Tube. Paris has the Metro. Tokyo has the chikatetsu. We’ve got legendary traffic jams and “Acres of Parking!!!”

    1. Yves Smith

      Subways in NYC are way faster on any north-south route during the week before say 7 PM, later on some days (rain, snow, Thanksgiving-Christmas) than a cab. All you need is good public transportation.

    2. Rates

      I don’t know which country/place Musk was talking about or maybe he’s just making blanket statement. I don’t have a car because I don’t like driving and I am pretty certain I am a bad driver. BUT, public transportation in America does suck. I live in San Francisco and the Metro is just shit.

      Every year I would go for a vacation in the East Asian countries/place i.e. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong and everytime I come back here I would feel like coming back to a third world country. Those countries don’t need hyperloop and all that BS Musk is trying to sell because their public transport is fantastic.

      I’ve been to London and Paris, and sorry those places don’t compare to the East Asian countries. No tragedy of the commons there. Trains are clean, stations look modern and timeliness must be in the order of 99% plus. Hong Kong even has a real time board at their Central station where passengers can see the on time statistics of the trains updated at real time.

      Over here in San Francisco, inside the Muni Metro station there would be multiple electronic boards showing the estimated time of arrival of various trains, and it’s very frequent they are not even synced up. LOL.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Could it be the Metro “just sucks” because those with the corporate influence who want Uber and Lyft et al. to replace public transportation have carefully ensured there is no budget to keep and improve the quality?

        I remember in the early days of Uber when the tech sites were full of Uber PR Department shills posting boilerplate about how lousy the taxi service is and how the cabs are all filthy vermin traps. Indeed, I actually had a phone call from one of them advising me I had no right to comment on their propaganda with facts because I didn’t live in SF.

  12. allan

    Proudly, the Dems fold like cheap p*ssy hats even faster than Collins, Corker and Flake
    fold like cheap pocket Constitutions:
    Democrats unlikely to force DACA vote this week, probably averting shutdown [WaPo]

    Democrats are backing away from a pledge to force a vote this month over the fate of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, angering activists but likely averting the threat of a government shutdown at a critical moment in spending negotiations with Republicans and President Trump. …

    Now personally I think they should choose the tax bill rather than DACA as a hill to die on,
    but in any case their spinelessness is unlikely to rally the troops for 2018. Pathetic.


    1. Jen

      As horrible as I think it would be to deport the Dreamers, if the Dems chose that as the only hill they were willing to die on for a government shut down, they would deserve to lose every race in 2018. Call it insufficiently intersectional, if you like, but when your constituents see the combined affect of killing net neutrality and passing the looting spree that is the republican tax plan, and you aren’t willing to shut down the government over either of those things, shutting down the government solely over DACA would be suicide. And since our beloved team blue has not the intestinal fortitude to take a meaningful stand on net neutrality or tax reform, the Dreamers are thrown under the bus. Hopefully this is one more constituency that has learned these people are not your friends.

      1. tegnost

        As I’m in construction I know many “dreamers” as they are called, and those I know have no connection to mexico, and if you sent them there it would be little different from any mid 30’s american sent to mex. Does any politician other than birdie sanders actually care about what crises individuals experience? Pathetic is the right word.

    2. allan

      Not that it makes any difference at this point,
      but after repeatedly telling Mr. DeMille that she was ready for her close up,
      and getting it day after day, Susan Collins now accuses him of being sexist:

      Paul McLeod‏ @pdmcleod

      Quite a moment just now. We asked Susan Collins about House Republicans
      vowing not to pass the provisions McConnell promised her to win her tax vote.
      She stared for several seconds and said she thought the press’s coverage of the tax bill
      has been extremely sexist. …

    3. Homina

      Either party should’ve dealt with undocumented immigrants after Reagan took the bullhorn of amnesty with a few conditions. Clinton also could’ve done same. Obama too. Neither did. This issue has been punted again and again and again and again with neither party giving one tiny care about any permanent and equitable solution towards a strong border vs. millions of undocumented workers who have sadly become virtual economic slaves.

      Millions of immigrants having to work agriculture for a few bucks an hour because if they complain they’re threatened with being deported. Millions waiting in parking lots for day-work of construction, landscaping, and other thing.

      Zero enforcement via laws being enforced. Which is ethically good but unsustainable.

      Amnesty–grant all 10 million or so here with instant US citizenship would seem to be an ideal solution, but ONLY if accompanied by a much harsher border law or ICE inspections or something. So uh, I don’t agree with open borders, since it leads to an underclass deprived of rights if they can work without being a party to a government, including of protections. Leads to a slave underclass. Which the US currently has. And neither party really wants to get rid of or advocate for. Period.

  13. Summer

    House must vote again on Republican tax overhaul after violating Senate rules

    “Nancy Pelosi calls GOP’s tax reform package ‘a scandalous act of plutocracy’”

    Yep. Nancy railing against the plutocracy.

    The bill is drawing the line between the millionaires and billionaires.
    Grab your popcorn.

    Everyone else – hold on to a job and don’t get sick. The safety net is going, going….

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress Index reported that Pelosi’s net worth was $29.35 million and having ranked 15th out of 50 wealthiest members of Congress for 2014.

      Consider the source.

  14. nowhere

    I’m really not sure what this means:

    Apple has also done its ironic best to both popularize podcasting and to make listening to podcasts as hard as possible. The worst thing it has done, of course, is locate podcasts in iCloud, while making it nearly impossible to figure out where the hell one’s podcasts are.

    Unless you are a podcast originator, all podcast services (Apple, Overcast, etc.) have to host the content on their servers, i.e. “the cloud”, from which you can download to your device. There is no difference when using the Podcasts app.

    Depending on how you subscribe you can have your favorite podcast automatically download to your device when new content is available, or you can stream the podcast (saving space on your device). If you thought you wanted to stream but then change your mind, push the little download icon to seamlessly transfer the podcast to your device. The only thing iCloud does in all of this is sync where in the episode you are between all of your devices (a rather nice feature when moving from a car to computer).

    I think there are things for which Apple should be ridiculed – the “root” login bug, the iOS auto-correct bug, and couple of other high profile screw ups. People not understanding cloud services like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive (when they all have the same interface) seems like user error. That people can’t take 5 minutes to Duck Duck Go how something works…

    1. Yves Smith

      Depending on what his location is, this question may not be as naive as you suggest but it may merely be poorly expressed.

      I do not use any cloud based services, for starters, including backups. I do not want third parties having my data in the modern surveillance state world. I learned this danger early when I was using Blogger as my webhost, and was falsely tagged as being a spam blog. Only by virtue of having a friend who was the brother of someone in Google’s C-suite was I able to get the site restored in 24 hours.

      So the point is, if you depend on “the cloud” you don’t control your content. I pay for a webhost and I know where he and the server racks he uses are. You can be shut off from it at any time unless you maintain local archives. But he should not even consider the “cloud” rather than get bent out of shape re not knowing where the servers are.

      Second, it likely does matter regarding your privacy rights, and this is where his line of objection could make sense, expressed differently. Europeans have vastly stronger privacy rights than Americans do. I would bet that the microtype that no one reads when they sign up for these cloud services says that you accept the legal jurisdiction of where those servers live, and the cloud providers make sure that isn’t in Europe.

      1. nowhere

        I agree with your arguments about cloud services, in general. I don’t put anything into a 3rd party cloud that I wouldn’t want other people to have access to.

        However, these are not the arguments put forth in the article – to me it read as a gripe about not liking iCloud because they can’t figure the difference between content existing on an Apple server vs being downloaded to the device (aka the Podcasts app). iOS has pretty clear iconography for distinguishing between the two.

  15. VietnamVet

    I read Brad DeLong’s post all the way through. He and David Brooks have added their Trump contempt to the corporate tax giveaway with the torture of the Saudi Princes for their last billions and concluded that the Empire’s End Days are here. Very True. But, despite the dark clouds, as long as the Central Banks generate virtual money; the cryptocurrency and stock exchange rainbows will bubble on until the day they don’t.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But, despite the dark clouds, as long as the Central Banks generate virtual money; the cryptocurrency and stock exchange rainbows will bubble on until the day they don’t.

      The question we may have to ask: Does abusing (a feature? a bug?) the power to create never-out-of-supply fiat money by the central banks prolong the suffering of the 99%, and/or extend the ecstasy of the 0.1%?

  16. Kim Kaufman

    ““Think about all of the recent news stories that are about or are a result of concentration/deregulation of media power and the inevitable consequences.”

    In addition to all the bad things Bill Clinton did, his Telecommunications Act of 1996 was one of the worst.

  17. Wukchumni

    Marco Pollo!

    Noted Without Comment: “A longtime champion of the working class, Mr. Rubio had tried in vain to secure a more generous tax break for lower-income Americans as Congress embarked on a sweeping rewrite of the federal tax code”

  18. tegnost

    OMFG…just read the “Or You Could Just Do Away With The Algorithm” tweet
    I have never been or wanted to be a facebooker, but friends see the site as a way to connect. Imagine thinking that the people you connected to ignored you as you died. That is so horrible, to take people yearning for connection and to do something like that to them. Speechless.

  19. marym

    Huffpo: The GOP’s Tax Bill Kicks Puerto Rico When It’s Down

    As the U.S. island struggles to climb out of a $70 billion debt crisis and recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, House Republicans voted Tuesday to impose a 12.5 percent tax on intellectual property income made by U.S. companies operating on the island and a minimum 10 percent tax on their profits in Puerto Rico.

    That means that with the Senate’s agreement, businesses with operations in Puerto Rico will pay higher taxes than their counterparts on the U.S. mainland, which puts industries and jobs on the island at risk.

  20. D

    Re For those of you who work in social media, I need to share the story of my friend who died, and I didn’t know because algorithms.

    So getting this straight, Facebook may well contact the police [1] if you have a sad (I’m sure to mitigate the potential reputational damages as a consequence of so many depressed young Facebook users), but they block posts by people dying, sick or injured from their Facebook friends. Having spent some time clicking the sub tweets of that thread, it looks like these ugly incidents are widespread.

    In Facebook’s case (and regarding the others) I can’t help but think that if the mainstream news tech writers had done their actual jobs revealing how unpleasant and arrogant Zuckerberg is, far less people would have trusted their personal information to it.

    In my neck of the woods (Silicon Valley) the [San Jose] Mercury News grossly hyped the IPO (and all other obscenely wealthy Valley Tech Thought Leaders actions) so much I finally canceled my subscription. They utterly left out the sordid details of the IPO also, despite a University of Santa Clara Professor’s scathing analysis of it [2].

    [1] Hell, in their East Menlo Park domicile, they may as well own the East Menlo Park Police. Facebook went from an unprecedented paying for one cop in its East Menlo Park (with an historically Black and Hispanic majority population) domicile: 03/04/14 Facebook Will Be First Private Company in U.S. to Pay for Full-Time Beat Cop, to this recent privatized police takeover: 10/10/17 Menlo Park: Council approves police expansion Expects Facebook will foot the bill . (interestingly there are no comments on that piece (blocked?), where usually – since its a community news outlet – there are many.)

    [2] 05/29/12 Facebook’s Failed IPO: A Fall Worthy of Icarus . It’s a meaty piece, here’s a great excerpt re Peter Thiel, a vital Zuckerberg mentor:

    “Other People’s Money”

    The critical early-stage investor in Facebook was current board member Peter Thiel, a noted fan of Margaret Thatcher and Ayn Rand. Ironically, this recipient of two degrees from Stanford argues that a college education is overrated. Thiel funds a program that encourages young people to emulate Zuckerberg and drop out of college to start companies like Facebook. He is also a supporter of Singularity University, a new private education program-cum-technology think tank. Both Thiel’s business offices and Singularity are located, again ironically, on federal government property: NASA’s Research Park on Moffett Field in Mountain View and the Presidio in San Francisco.

    Thiel, according to a recent profile in the New Yorker, thinks the social unrest visible in movements like Occupy and strikes in Greece contains the potential for a worldwide conflagration. He is critical of both welfare provisions and the extension of suffrage to women. He has openly longed for the 1920s (which was certainly before the emergence of the modern welfare state and securities laws, but followed the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment). In the manner of Rand’s hero John Galt, Thiel sees investment in young technology entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg or Sean Parker as a way to rescue humanity from what he believes are the totalitarian instincts of “social democracy.” In a 2009 manifesto he posted on the Cato Institute website, he wrote, “The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism.” Apparently, his vision of capitalism includes the possibility of a single individual controlling more than 50 percent of the shares of a $100 billion global corporation that openly aspires to exploit the personal information of its nearly 1 billion users.

    Instead of fantasizing that the global economic crisis can be solved by college dropouts or by the weakening of federal securities law, however, aspiring young capitalists should be reminded that when one is using what Justice Louis Brandeis called “other people’s money,” certain principles of social responsibility must be respected.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      One imagines Peter Thiel in Paris, 1789:

      “The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person with the divine right of heaven who builds or propagates the machinery of control that makes the world safe for monarchy.”

    2. Summer

      First of all, I’m sorry for your loss.

      Secondly, I’m dead sick of people branding “accountability” as “totalitarian.” Nothing is more “totalitarian” than the total lack of accountability the tech titans desire.

      “The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism.”

      For crying out loud, freedom has to mean more than someone’s unchecked ability to rip off other people.

  21. Ed Walker

    The waPo and the Times did not cover the corruption in the tax bill. It isn’t just the CorkerKickback, the entire thing is shot through with treats for the filthy rich. Why was there no interest? Could it be that Bezos is going to bi a huge beneficiary? What about the Ochs and the Sulzbergers? Could they be huge beneficiaries?

  22. Lunker Walleye

    Jill Stein

    Jill was interviewed by Aaron Maté on The Real News today.

    Jill Stein Denounces Probe over ‘Collusion with Russians’.

    Tried to link but getting spinning beach ball.

  23. D


    Thank you for your above response, and loved the rest of your comment, but it wasn’t my loss (I’ve never used Facebook). I was referrring to the linked twitter comment in Lamberst’s post, right above the Five Horsemen graph, I should have added italics.

  24. Oregoncharles

    ““The search is on for the next banana with mass appeal.”

    There’s a banana, called Musa Basjoo, from China that’s hardy into at least Zone 7 (dies back in the winter.) It’s a huge, showy plant. Unfortunately the fruit isn’t edible – or doesn’t ripen in our climate. It’s grown in China as a fiber plant.

    Now, that’s what I’d like to see bred into an edible fruit.

  25. Procopius

    Thailand has several varieties of banana. Most of them are delicious, but all that I know do not keep very well. From the time they are cut off the tree until they are overripe is a matter of only a week or so.

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