2:00PM Water Cooler 12/22/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this is a little shorter than it should be, because I’m feeling a bit under the weather. –Lambert


“The commercial aircraft business could be on the cusp of its biggest upheaval in two decades. Boeing Co. has been in talks to take over Brazilian plane maker Embraer SA, the WSJ’s Dana Mattioli, Dana Cimilluca and Liz Hoffman report. The move that would counter an attempt by Airbus SE to strike a similar deal with Canada’s Bombardier Inc. and extend the competition between the two manufacturing giants to the regional jet market. The maneuvers come amid a trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada over alleged state subsidies to Bombardier, and U.S. moves to slap the company with tariffs” [Wall Street Journal]. “Boeing’s move on Embraer faces high hurdles since the company plays a big role in Brazil’s economy and defense business.”



“Bernie Sanders and the progressive renaissance of 2018 and 2020” [Brent Budowsky, The Hill]. “When historians look back on the Sanders campaign in 2016, they will note two fundamentally important and lasting contributions that Sanders and his supporters made. First, the Sanders platform in the 2016 primaries, which was significantly but not fully included in the Democratic platform at the convention, will provide the policy blueprint for the next Democratic presidential campaign and the next great Democratic president. The second historic legacy of the Sanders campaign in 2016 was that he challenged, and defeated, the old style campaign fundraising paradigm of previous major candidates. It was revolutionary and historic that Sanders energized a gigantic army of small donors and became a fundraising leader who changed campaign fundraising forever.” The second point is especially important, although liberal Democrats have erased it from the discourse (and defenestrated as many people at the DNC who supported it as they could).


“Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms” [The Hill]. Please kill me now. More: “Those who have spoken to Clinton say she’s fielding requests and deciding how to best wade into 2018 waters. ‘Has she gotten a lot of asks? Yeah,’ one longtime Clinton ally said. ‘… I don’t see a scenario where she’s not doing anything publicly.’ Still, the ally acknowledged that Clinton will pick her spots if she hits the trail. ‘Obviously, there’s a huge difference between Alabama and Darrell Issa’s [R-Calif.] district,’ the ally said.” Not if the election is nationalized, there won’t be, and that’s exactly what the Democrats hope to do with their “wave” election.

“Only the Economy Could Change the Political Atmosphere” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “But what if the economy continues to grow at this pace through the November 2018 election? What if unemployment remains at such a low level, consumer confidence stays high, and people’s 401(k) retirement funds continue to grow? Would six quarters of a buoyant economy ease the disenchantment of Republican and conservative voters, the anger of independent and centrist voters, and the intensity of opposition toward both Trump and the Republican Congress among Democratic and liberal voters? Would the economy have ameliorative effects strong enough to save the GOP majority in the House and allow Senate Republicans to pick up Democratic seats in traditionally Republican states?… I remain quite skeptical that this will happen, but in thinking about how the trajectory of this election could shift, this would seem to be the most plausible factor, and one to be monitored for changes in the political mood.”

“Democrats believe their path to the House majority winds through the Golden State, where the June “open” primary figures to serve as a bellwether of sorts for the November midterm elections. Of the two-dozen Republican districts Hillary Clinton carried last year, seven are in California. If Democrats can’t pick off a sizable chunk of them, it’s unlikely they can retake the lower chamber from Republicans” [RealClearPolitics]. “In addition to Rohrabacher and Issa, they are targeting Ed Royce, Mimi Walters, Steve Knight, David Valadao, and Jeff Denham. And beyond the seven from Clinton districts, Democrats also have Duncan Hunter Jr., Devin Nunes, and Tom McClintock in their sights. Their districts represent the kinds of areas where Democrats hope to make strides elsewhere in the nation by exploiting tensions between traditional Republicans and Donald Trump. ‘Activists on the ground there are upper middle class and so appalled by Donald Trump,” said [John Vigna, spokesman for the state Democratic Party].” Of course, the Democrat Establishment signaled the kind of race it wanted to run when Perez purged all Sanders supporters from the Rules and Bylaws Committee.

Taxes and 2018:

Wikipedia on the ultimatum time. Guys, it’s time for some game theory?

Tax “Reform”

“Trump signs tax bill into law” [MarketWatch]. “‘We did a rush job today and it wasn’t fancy,’ Trump said of the Oval Office signing ceremony. Trump also signed a bill to keep the government running through Jan. 19.”

Via Moody’s: “The SALT change, combined with the higher standard deduction and tighter limit on the mortgage interest deduction, also reduces the tax incentive for home ownership, which is likely to slow home construction and sales, and moderately suppress home values and property tax growth in higher-price markets” [Credit Slips].

“Tax reform delivers goodies to the supply chain, if it needs to feast” [DC Velocity]. “The folks in the supply chain management ecosystem are a pragmatic bunch. That pragmatism includes not allowing tax consequences to drive capital investment decisions. That said, many companies will find the tax bill about to be signed into law by President Trump amply rewarding, even if they don’t invest a dime in capital equipment next year. Lower tax rates, generous expensing, depreciation laws could be potent brew. But is it needed?”

“Tax Bill Is Great for Accountants — Unless They Have Holiday Plans” [New York Times] and “Wall Street Rushes to Find Winners and Losers From Tax Overhaul” [Bloomberg].

Trump Transition

“McConnell says he’s unlikely to push for Social Security, Medicare changes next year” [MarketWatch]. “‘The only way I would be willing to go to entitlement reform—I assume that’s a euphemism [ouch!] for things like Social Security and Medicare—would be if there were Democratic support,’ McConnell said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. ‘I’ve not heard of any.'”

“There Is No Ban on Words at the CDC” [Slate]. “Reports about the seven dirty words at CDC should be understood in light of [the current] budgetary process. Right now, the Trump administration is in the middle of preparing its fiscal 2019 request, to be submitted to Congress this coming February. It’s likely that the staffers at each agency at HHS have already submitted their proposals for how much money they think they need, for which specific projects, along with “budget narratives” explaining why. These, in turn, have probably been passed up to the budget team for the whole department, aggregated and sent on to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House. Now the OMB is trying to combine proposals from across the federal government into one colossal document to be reviewed by lawmakers… HHS staffers have been telling those at CDC and other agencies that it would be better to avoid any phrases that might attract extra notice from the budget-slashers higher up the chain. This is tactical advice: They want to bolster the CDC’s position during these negotiations. Levin suggests that words like vulnerable, entitlement, or diversity might annoy Republicans in Congress and make them less inclined to grant requested funds. But it seems more likely that the same advice is meant to ward off cuts from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and his team of budget hawks; after all, they’ve been more tight-fisted than even congressional Republicans.” This is an important article because, gosh darn it, I bought into it, and so liberal Democrat gaslighting ended up concealing worse real problems.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Can the Tax Bill Unite a Divided GOP?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Tucked into the always insightful NBC-Wall Street Journal poll is a question that asks 2016 Trump voters whether their vote was determined more by their support for Trump or their dislike of Clinton and/or her policies…. [W]hile the pro-Trump and anti-Clinton GOPers both give Trump solid job approval ratings, those in the pro-Trump category give him a 97 percent job approval rating, with 80 percent very strong approval. Among those in the anti-Clinton camp, Trump has an 82 percent job approval rating and just 33 percent strong approval…. The good news for Trump and Republicans is that these “dislike Clinton, voted Trump” voters aren’t moving into the Democratic camp.” And the last paragraph: “Lots of folks think of Trump’s ‘base’ as those folks who show up to his rallies. However, his base also encompasses those who don’t and won’t come to a rally. A fear of a Clinton presidency may have been enough to get them to vote for Trump in 2016, but will Trump’s erratic temperament and their lackluster support of the GOP’s signature policy achievement in Congress, keep them home in 2018.” Odd little typo, there; the last sentence of the last paragraph should end with a question mark, not a period.

“Better Angels: Slowly Bridging Our Partisan Divide” [Jonathan Rauch, RealClearPolitics]. “Sixteen local people have gathered for a Better Angels workshop. Eight are Donald Trump supporters and Republican voters; eight supported Hillary Clinton and vote Democratic. One is a progressive transgender man still in his late teens; another is a conservative, middle-aged academic. They don’t agree on much, but they’re here to see if they can talk to each other, instead of at or about or against each other.” More detail on the post, which is worth reading, But from the last paragraph: “Check out stories in the media spanning the political spectrum. Here’s a Washington Post piece. Here’s one in the Daily Caller. And NPR did a feature story on the group earlier this month.” So that’s two liberal venues (WaPo and NPR) and one conservative venue (Daily Caller). Where’s the left? I’d like to think this is a good faith effort, but I’m thinking there’s one thing that liberals and conservatives both agree on: Kicking the left. Maybe some DSA or Our Revolution members should volunteer…

“Death of disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law reveals a truth we’d rather ignore about the Catholic Church” [Kansas City Star]. “The disgraced cardinal’s full treatment in death at St. Peter’s, with “an unusually small congregation of mourners,” reveals a truth we’d rather ignore… [A]fter all this time, I’m sorry to say that if leaders in entertainment, politics and media want to make women and men safer in the work place and change a culture that shrugged off accounts of abuse, they will only be able to look to the Catholic Church for a model of what not to do.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, November 2017: “A jump in aircraft skewed durable goods orders 1.3 percent higher in November which however is well below Econoday’s consensus for 2.0 percent and no better than the low estimate” [Econoday]. “Weakness in the latest month and an upward revision to the prior month is also the story for core capital goods orders….” And: “Our analysis is more positive [(!)] than the headlines as the rolling averages significantly improved. Civilian and defence aircraft were the main drivers this month” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, December 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Kansas City Fed’s district proved very strong this month” [Econoday]. “Respondents in the regional factory reports like Kansas City have been reporting about as much strength as they can handle without overheating, a contrast to actual data on the national factory sector where strength is more moderate.” And but: “Of the three regional manufacturing surveys released for December, all were in expansion…. Kansas City Fed manufacturing has been one of the more stable districts and their index declined. Key internals were in expansion but likewise declined” [Econintersect]. And: “So far, all of the regional Fed surveys have been solid in December” [Calculated Risk].

New Home Sales, November 2017: “New home sales rose to a 733,000 annualized rate in November for a 17.5 percent monthly spike that is the largest in 25 years” [Econoday]. “New home sales are always volatile due to low sample sizes but the report right now is easily the hottest of any economic indicator, in what is certainly a reflection of the strong labor and stock markets as well as favorable pricing.” And: “This month the backward revisions were significantly downward which affected the growth rate this month. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series – and the rolling averages are above average for the levels seen since the beginning of 2016. This month was better than last month” [Econintersect].

Personal Income and Outlays, November 2017: “[S]trong but there are still soft spots in the personal income and outlays report” [Econoday]. “The inflation data are moving in the right direction but just barely. And while the spending and wage data are favorable, the low level of the savings rate may become a concern especially if the labor market begins to lose strength. For retailers and holiday spending, today’s report is solid but still less than robust.” And: “The savings rate declned and historically is extremely low. Consumer spending continues to far outpacing income – not good news” [Econintersect].

Consumer Sentiment, December 2017 (Final): “[T]he softest showing since September” [Econoday]. “[A] positive for the holiday shopping outlook is that the current conditions component is firm… Levels in this report have been edging lower but still remain the best in 17 years in what points to a strong holiday season for consumer spending.” And but: “Final December 2017 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Continued to Sink” [Econintersect]. And importantly: “Most of the decline was among lower-income households. Even though current conditions are deemed to be strong, there was growing uncertainty about the future. Consumers were split about the Republican tax cut plan. While the small gain in take-home pay that will kick in starting in February might not spark an uptick in optimism, it might dampen any renewed pessimism, the report said” [MarketWatch].

Shipping: “Trucking’s electronic-logging era is getting off to a rocky start. Companies that provide the devices commonly called ELDs say they’ve been swamped by a late rush of orders ahead of this week’s deadline to get them installed, even as some drivers complain that they’re hitting technical speed bumps and getting limited customer support” [Wall Street Journal]. “With full enforcement still months away, ELD makers say the logjam may continue until spring.”

Retail: “Consumers wanting to tie a bow on their online holiday gifts are going to have to do it themselves. Some online retailers have been closing down their gift-wrapping stations” [Wall Street Journal]. “J.C. Penney Co. Inc. stopped offering gift-wrapping for online orders this year, and California warehouse manager Onestop Internet Inc., says none of the 35 brands it handles are doing gift wrap this year.”

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin plunges again, now down more than 28% since Sunday’s all-time high” [MarketWatch]. “Other leading cryptocurrencies were also hit hard Thursday night, with ether — which runs on the Ethereum network — down about 8% to $758 and bitcoin’s rival spinoff, bitcoin cash, down more than 20% to $2,969, according to CoinMarketCap.com…. The steep plunge Thursday coincided with the start of the Asian trading day, a pattern reflected throughout the week. One reason for the Asian selloff may be worries following Tuesday’s hack of a bitcoin exchange in South Korea — possibly by North Korea — resulting in Youbit exchange owner Yaipan losing about 17% of its total assets. Some have speculated that Asian buyers had been fueling bitcoin’s rapid ascent in recent months.”

The Bezzle: “Major cryptocurrencies crash more than 30% as ‘fear, uncertainty, and doubt’ grip the market” [Business Insider]. “[Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital] added: ‘Whilst there have been some hacks, public infighting in the mining community, lots of rumoured forks, and regulatory pressure building on some fronts, this is likely to be a simple bout of risk-off selling as investors rebalance towards year-end.'”

The Bezzle: “Coinbase, one of the biggest bitcoin marketplaces, says buying and selling is temporarily disabled amid price rout” [CNBC]. “The company added in a subsequent statement that ‘due to today’s high traffic, buys and sells may be temporarily offline. We’re working on restoring full availability as soon as possible.'”

The Bezzle: “I AM HODLING” [BitCoin Forum] (via). From 2013, still relevant. Can somebody who really understands Mr. Market comment?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 68, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 22 at 1:53pm.

Health Care

“Enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act exchange plans through the HealthCare.gov platform totaled about 8.8 million, slightly below 9.2 million last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said on Thursday” [MarketWatch]. “The enrollment figures, though below those for both 2017 and 2016, are better than expected, given big cuts to promotional efforts under President Donald Trump’s administration and a six-week long sign-up window, half the length of previous years.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Life expectancy in US down for second year in a row as opioid crisis deepens” [Guardian]. “It is the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy…. Despite years of warnings about the growing epidemic, congressional leaders have often failed to do more than convene commissions and panels and draw up white papers.” Nice to see those nice liberal Democrats all over this. Oh, wait….

Class Warfare

“America is shedding retail jobs and women are bearing the bulk of the losses” [Moneyish]. “[A] recently published analysis of BLS data conducted by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research… found that women retail employees lost 160,300 jobs in that 12-month period [between October 2016 and October 2017], whereas men gained 106,000 positions in the trade. As a result, women now make up a minority of retail workers, with their share of the profession dropping from 50.4% to 49.6% The IWPR called the trend the ‘longest stretch of job losses in the industry for women or men since the Great Recession.”

News of the Wired

“Mathematicians Find Wrinkle in Famed Fluid Equations” [Quanta]. “Two mathematicians prove that under certain extreme conditions, the Navier-Stokes equations output nonsense.” Sure to interest those who can understand it!

“Approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind” [Idle Words]. From 2016, more germane than ever: “Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It’s a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don’t lie.” Must-read.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, 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 (MF):

MF writes: “Hi, Lambert. Here’s a Snow Trillium, a Spring ephemeral from Highland County in Southern Ohio.”

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. Elizabeth Burton

      I enjoy Howie’s pieces, but he has bought into the Russian propaganda totally. It can be annoying at times. Fortunately, he’s great when he avoids the subject, and the other contributors to the blog are excellent. It may be the only place one can hear the thoughts of the progressives running for office.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Half a bottle of scotch should do the trick. You may still feel sick but at that point you will no longer care!

    2. Jean

      Try some Umcka, it’s a tea powder made from the South African geranium, Pelargonium sidoides roots.
      Take it when you first get feel a cold coming on. Use the powder, not the drops.

      It’s a high quality product made in Germany. The stuff absolutely works if you take it soon enough. It’s cheap, over the counter, tastes good and is considered and not taxed like food too.

  1. Darius

    If opioid deaths go down and wages start to go up then I’d say the Republicans can breathe easy in 2018. I don’t see it. Not that the Democrats care about these matters either.

    1. Altandmain

      Considering the 2015 and 2016 figures occurred at a time when Obama was President and claimed America was “already great”, I am certain that the Wall Street Democratic Establishment doesn’t care. They could not care less.

  2. Marco

    Bruenig’s latest at PPP regarding the fall of Obamacare. One salient comment on Twitter:
    “…it took 60 votes to implement the ACA, but only 50 votes to effectively repeal it”

    1. JohnnyGL

      I actually don’t think the individual mandate is as important as seen by Beltway Dems. The plans on offer have been such bad value-for-money that the penalties would have needed to be much nastier to force people to buy the insurance.

      I don’t think there’s a ton of people buying insurance plans on the exchanges that REALLY don’t want to do it…..but for the penalties.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I agree (not that it’s a personal concern). Furthermore,. I think the logic supporting the Mandate has too many steps to be convincing.
        We’ll find out.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Weren’t the penalties supposed to get worse each year? Rising to a very painful level indeed?

      3. Synoia

        The Individual mandate is essential to avoid adverse selection in the insurance pool.
        Adverse selection = only sick people buy insurance.

        Why there is more than one insurance pool for the US is a question I find puzzling.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, that’s what they say. The argument that supports it is a bit convoluted; some of us doubt its validity. (Ultimately, as you imply, it’s an argument against using insurance, rather than just providing care.)

          The experiment is underway.

  3. George Phillies

    “Not if the election is nationalized, there won’t be, and that’s exactly what the Democrats hope to do with their “wave” election.”

    If the Democrats are hoping this, they may not enjoy the outcome.

    Nationalized cuts *both* ways.

    They pick up two dozen Republican House seats in Districts that Clinton carried. They also lose — and Democratic triumphalists skip over this — a dozen Democratic House seats in districts that Trump carried. (I am inclined to believe that neither side gets a clean sweep).

    They pick up the Republican Senate seat in the state in the state that Clinton carried. They lose the ten Senate seats up in 2018 in states that Trump carried.

    Nationalized cuts *both* ways.

    Net outcome: The Republicans still control the House. The Republican Freedom caucus has a veto on stupid Republican bills, like renewing unAmerican disloyal Federal warrantless spying. The Republicans have 60 Senators, so the Democrats cannot filibuster anything, except as the Republicans split.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Neither do AI robots (speak for themselves)…so far.

      By the way, there is a short cut for robots to achieve AI.

      This solution calls for the ‘I’ in ‘AI’ to be modified. What if the typical or average human intelligence (so jokes about liberals, progressives or conservatives) can be dumbed down?

      When humans are ‘educated’ to be more robot-like, than it will be easier for robots to possess this ‘new human intelligence’ artificially.

      Voila! You have achieved AI.

      (If you don’t go the mountain, the mountain shall come to you).

      1. Synoia

        Computers don’t make mistakes. They just repeat your mistakes endlessly.

        I remember a scene from my childhood involving the first train to passing over a new railway line.
        It fell off, into the surrounding swamp, and sank out of sight.

        I asked if we could come again the next day and see it again.

        Whatever AI is, its a computer.

  4. Charlie

    Re: Ultimate Game tweet.

    I don’t look much at relative well-being, as I want everyone to do well. That they do better than I is no worry, UNLESS they got that way by cheating, exploitation, etc.

    Absolute well-being does count more than relative, however, making that bet is a non-starter, because positive changes in absolute well-being for the bottom often does translate into less of a gap in relative well-being.

    So now Democrats and Republicans are thinking the opposite re: historically, in that the Democrats are playing the envy card? This gets weirder all the time. Almost the same thing as Feinstien complaining about the mortgage deduction cap.

  5. Steve H.

    About Navier-Stokes:

    > Mathematicians, however, want more than anecdotal confirmation — they want proof that the equations are inviolate, that no matter what vector field you start with, and no matter how far into the future you play it, the equations always give you a unique new vector field.
    > Buckmaster and Vicol’s new result is the first to suggest that, for certain definitions of weak solutions, that might be the case.

    That’s mathematicians as a category, which I will suggest is theoretical. In practice, stupid results get tossed all the time. After all the hoopla you just get ‘might be the case’ which is less absolute than the implied demand implicit in the article. They are looking for universal reassurance, while modelers look for particular outcomes.

    For example, in groundwater modeling of one kind, you can get infinite point leakage. You tack on an adjustment, and test again against the field data. The ends are practical and not theoretical.

    1. epynonymous

      All the mathematicians seem to be showing is that quantum effects exist. (aka, limited data in due to the limits of measurement mean uncertainty exists)

      I don’t know if they’re being so blind willfully or not.

      Electronic waveforms addressed this a hundred or more years ago.

      1. nooneofconsequence

        No, solutions to a differential equation with fixed initial conditions (*) not being unique or blowing up or whatever is not at all the same as having quantum effects.

        (*) I think that is what they did, but I only skimmed the article for a few seconds, so might be wrong.

        1. Filiform Radical

          That’s more or less what they did, with a caveat: If I’m reading it correctly, the deck is misleading in that the result actually applies only to certain classes of approximate solutions to Navier-Stokes. If they’d shown this for the actual solutions, they’d be looking at a Millennium Prize.

    2. Synoia

      Of course the equations don’t work. They do not handle turbulent flow.

      Nor do they account for plumbers, welders or management.

      1. ewmayer

        Sorry, that’s incorrect, as is the “quantum effects” speculation above. See my comment below for the real reason – the equations being considered are a known-bogus model of the real world. This is what happens when a bunch of pure-maths folks pretend they are doing physics, while only talking amongst themselves.

        1. nooneofconsequence

          Speaking as graduate student in pure math myself, though in an area very far removed from Navier-Stokes and analysis, and also as someone with friends in physics who have worked on turbulence and other physics related to Navier-Stokes I very much doubt that the people who did this work were pretending to themselves or anyone else that they were doing physics. Uniqueness and existence of (weak or regular or whatever) solutions to Navier-Stokes is just an interesting problem in itself for people working in PDE’s.

    3. redleg

      I had a groundwater modeler once tell our client “the model can show drawdown in the Pacific Ocean if you want it to.” The client was in Minnesota.
      While that quip was funny, it was also true.

  6. Trout

    Regarding the Cook Report on “Only the Economy Could Change the Political Atmosphere”, he never considers that the stock market could experience a severe correction or the fact that the stagnant middle class may not benefit at all from the tax cuts if the savings is consumed by higher costs like cable, cell phone and H/C insurance costs, not mention the household debt levels. Typical rich people commentary.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      He also, being part of the elite professional class, bases his thoughts on the impact of an “improved” economy on the proverbial bed of sand. As anyone with the least bit of knowledge knows, “low unemployment rates” are a sham on several levels. Those who are among the employed are often all too well aware that their economy hasn’t improved at all as they dash among their three jobs while making sure the kids get to school/daycare/the babysitter.

      I’ve reached the point where all this kind of speculation does is remind me how far those ivory pundit towers are from the reality on the ground, where 564,708 people in the U.S. are homeless, 110,000 of them LGBTQ children (206,286 were people in families, 358,422 were individuals, and a quarter of the entire group were children), and nearly half the children in the alleged wealthiest nation on the planet are living near the poverty line.

      Which anyone who has ever tried to apply for help when the paycheck won’t cover everything can tell you is absurdly low to begin with.

      The real problem is getting people who’ve never been truly poor to understand just how awful things are for way too many people in this best of all countries. Like the ones who keep insisting poor people should stop buying all that nasty processed food and go organic because the benefit to their health will totally offset the extra cost. And so what if they may have to travel a bit farther to even find organic fruits and veggies. Time well spent, right?

      So, we’ll just label them all “deplorable morons” and continue to believe the Democrat Party in its current form will solve everything once they impeach Trump. And, apparently, Pence, Ryan, and Hatch. Or better yet, declare the election results invalid, crown Hillary, and enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      Just numbers, I guess. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  7. Lee

    “McConnell says he’s unlikely to push for Social Security, Medicare changes next year” [MarketWatch]. “‘The only way I would be willing to go to entitlement reform—I assume that’s a euphemism [ouch!] for things like Social Security and Medicare—would be if there were Democratic support,’ McConnell said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. ‘I’ve not heard of any.’”

    McConnell’s Democrat supporter for changes in Social Security and Medicare has left the building. That building being the White House.

    Also, I am in one of Trump’s key demographics in terms of income, race, age, gender (am I forgetting anything?). As I watched the evolution of the new tax bill, my potential tax liability went from my having to pay $2K more per year to now looking like I’ll save a few hundred bucks. The tactic seems to be scare the crap out of ’em and then back off, so people will feel a sense of relief when the not so bad prevails over the really bad.

    1. GF

      “The tactic seems to be scare the crap out of ’em and then back off, so people will feel a sense of relief when the not so bad prevails over the really bad.”

      There is a lot of talk shifting to the draconian social service cuts that must be made to pay for the cuts:


      My understanding, listening to Ryan and McConnell, is that the new income from the 6%+ increase in the GDP projected from the tax cut bill’s passage, will pay for the cuts. So there should be no cuts needed to vital social programs.

        1. Allegorio

          Precisely! Hopefully the electorate is aware of this. If not it is important to explain it to them. Republicans are nothing if not tactical to a fault.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Someone pointed out to me, after I’d stated anyone hoping for rescue by the current version of the Democrats was wasting their time because GOP-lite, that not one single Democrat voted for the tax bill. Ergo, this proves I know nothing and none of them are “corporate shills,” and I should just shut my gob and stop spreading libel.

      I pointed out the Democrats knew the GOP already had all the votes it needed to pass the bill so their voting against it en bloc would in no way annoy their corporate employees, so win-win. They get to look good while maintaining the revenue stream.

      More libel, apparently. Now that politics is just a sporting event where you root for your favorite team while ignoring the players’ performances as long as your team wins, nuances of politics might as well be Sanskrit.

  8. flora

    Re: “Approaching the world as a software problem is a category error that has led us into some terrible habits of mind” [Idle Words]

    “The connected world we’re building may resemble a computer system, but really it’s just the regular old world from before, with a bunch of microphones and keyboards and flat screens sticking out of it. And it has the same old problems.”

    Imagine a Rube Goldberg machine with IoT devices embedded in every part. ha. (Programming is not alchemy.)

    Great read. Thanks.

    1. Synoia

      The two rules of programming:

      1. If it’s not tested, it does not work.
      2. You cannot test every condition.

  9. prx


    the price (I like to imagine a book of orders settling on a price) is a function of net speculative flows, attrition (or growth) of “true believers’ money” in the market, and minting of new coins. if there are enough “true believers,” it’s a robust belief, and they have no need for hard currency instead of bitcoins, there’s hope for a “long-term value” for bitcoin as they will support the price at some level. otherwise, it’s headed to zero.

    what could convert true believers? severe price drops driven by extreme negative speculative sentiment and/or forced selling by leveraged players causing a major exchange to shut down, freezing assets? massive fraud and loss? you’d think..

    personally, I think it’s headed to 85k on it’s way to zero as we will see more believers and speculators before a mass exodus. trouble is, I can imagine (and remember) $8.5 too and if it ever hits $85k I’m sure I’ll be able to imagine $850k. It will be impossible to call the top without more information than anyone probably has….

  10. XXYY

    From RCP:

    Of the two-dozen Republican districts Hillary Clinton carried last year, seven are in California. If Democrats can’t pick off a sizable chunk of them, it’s unlikely they can retake the lower chamber from Republicans

    Does this mean the Dems are only going to contend the CA house races they think they can win and give the GOP a free pass in all the others? I don’t understand this reasoning. The idea is to run and fund credible candidates with attractive platforms to run in *every* race. That’s how you build a political party.

    Plus, why is Hillary Clinton, who somehow lost to the moronic Trump, the bellwether of a winnable district? She was an establishment candidate who promised voters more of the same (plus maybe a couple more wars). Who knows what the picture would have been had a genuinely attractive Democratic candidate been on the ballot? Perhaps every CA district would have been “winnable”.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Does this mean the Dems are only going to contend the CA house races they think they can win and give the GOP a free pass in all the others? I don’t understand this reasoning. The idea is to run and fund credible candidates with attractive platforms to run in *every* race. That’s how you build a political party.

      Yes, that has been precisely the Democrat Party’s strategy since ’92. They refuse to support candidates where they decide there’s no chance of winning, and put forward centrist candidates (some “converted” Republicans, in fact) in those areas where they’ve decided such chance exists. They have even been known to run candidates who don’t live in the district where they are running for office, especially if said candidate has a big bank account and can self-fund.

      As for why Hillary is considered the deciding factor, there are those of us who like to point out that many of those districts she won in the general, Bernie Sanders won—often by a huge margin—in the primary. Not to mention most of the ones that flipped to Trump in the general.

      To put it another way, what you’re seeing is a concerted effort to convince the voting public there is no viable progressive political movement, so they need to stop living in the past (unlike the DNC) and accept that the only real policy that needs to be focused on is “not Trump.” If you want an actual example, in 2016 a progressive named Tom Wakely ran against Lamar Smith for TX-21. He lost, of course, because he had no support from the state Democrats; but he kept Smith to the lowest margin of his career.

      Initially, Wakely was going to take on Smith again this year, but when no one stepped up he opted instead to announce he would run for governor. Again, no support from the state Dems, and six months after he began his campaign the media were reporting the Dems had “no one running for governor.”

      See what they did there? Well, that’s why the media are going to continue to use Hillary as the criterion, because they’ll choke and die before they’ll mention Bernie Sanders except in passing. And that not very often.

  11. Richard

    Just got done reading an email from my congressperson Pramila Jayapal, and now depression begins to sink in. I was kidding myself that maybe our first term rep might steer clear of Russiagate, even if not willing to speak out against it. What a maroon I was! She notes the “irrefutable evidence” that babyfingers conspired with Ivan. I immediately hit respond and launch into an impassioned essay on the use of the word “irrefutable”. After 15 minutes of brilliant, virtuoso essayin’, I realize that this is a congressperson, so I can’t just respond to them, because that would be too beautiful and make too much sense.
    It really does encompass the entire party, this madness. And of course you know what follows from that: they will be unable/unwilling to challenge Trump in any way which might matter or resonate with voters, because they’ve committed themselves to this mean and empty narrative.

    1. landline

      This is where the “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of the email comes in handy. Try it. You’ll like it.

      1. dcrane

        Especially the ones that give you a text box to say why you’re disconnecting. I tell them I’m finished with Democrats that waste time on TrumpRussia instead of fighting for workers.

  12. Oregoncharles

    Send your essay to the local paper, or some other public outlet.

    Congress’s aides just read the first few lines, then classify it “for” or “against.” The members rarely read letters.

  13. lyman alpha blob

    Thanks for the Idle Words link. Coincidentally I was having a conversation with my school district’s tech director today about my displeasure with the fact that my kid must use Google platforms to perform their school work. I just forwarded him that link as some food for thought.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Approaching the world as a software problem

    I think that I am seeing something here I had not noticed before. That article mentions that “But the real world is a stubborn place. It notices and reacts to our attempts to affect it”. How about this. What if those trying to treat the world as a software problem are going by the rules of a Newtonian physics world. You work out the laws and then you can get your predictions. Proved predictions give you your proof that you are right.
    That quote I gave though seems to indicate a Quantum physics world where trying to measure something affects the results. It uses Chaos theory and behaves in ways that defy reason in a Newtonian physics world. Maybe as quantum computers come into service things will change here but engineers as a whole can have blind spots dealing with the real world. Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of respect for engineers. Leaders may take the credit but it is after all engineers that build the civilizations but in dealing with people perhaps an organic way is better than mechanical one.

    1. Filiform Radical

      You work out the laws and then you can get your predictions.

      This is just how physics works, Newtonian or otherwise. Similarly, chaos is entirely possible in a Newtonian context; nothing here really has anything to do with quantum physics. The real problem is the more mundane one that plagues economics: reality is not describable by simple mathematical models (above the level of subatomic particles, at least). Quantum computation will not change this.

  15. Kim Kaufman

    “Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms”

    Well, here is the answer. Just received this email and just as quickly unsubscribed:

    Hi Kim,

    Today, Hillary Clinton announced that along with groups like iVote, The Arena, Alliance for Youth, Latino Victory and Voto Latino, The Collective has been chosen to receive not only her endorsement but also the continued support of Onward Together, her new organization encouraging people to organize, get involved, and run for office!

    This is BIG!

    Over the past year, we’ve built an incredible organization with over 5,000 donors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia who’ve helped us ensure 23 of our endorsed candidates won their races! But if we’re going to elect governors, attorney generals and members of congress in 2018, we need to have an even bigger team.

    Kim, that’s why we need YOU to join the other 5,000 supporters and become one of our founding members by simply making a contribution before the end of the year!

    It’s not too late! Sign up now.

    Join us today!

    Let’s Go!

    Quentin James
    Founder, The Collective

    Paid for by The Collective; not authorized by any candidate or any candidate’s committee.
    The Collective
    2101 L St NW
    Suite 800
    Washington DC 20037 United States

    Apparently no website yet but you can donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/collectivepac?refcode=onwardblast

    1. The Rev Kev

      Did, did they just say that they were paid for by The Collective? But that is what the Borg referred to themselves as!

      1. Charlie

        Also notice, “not authorized by any candidate or any candidate’s committee.”
        Except Hillary Clinton, of course.

        The Borg, indeed.

    1. Allegorio

      The lower your social class the less control you have over the events in your life and therefore the more feedback you receive from the real world. Makes sense? The higher your social class the more you can afford to be ideological and ward off any feedback that contradicts your self serving ideology.

  16. ewmayer

    From the Quanta piece on the Navier-Stokes equations:

    While physicists consider the equations to be as reliable as a hammer, mathematicians eye them warily. To a mathematician, it means little that the equations appear to work. They want proof that the equations are unfailing: that no matter the fluid, and no matter how far into the future you forecast its flow, the mathematics of the equations will still hold. Such a guarantee has proved elusive.

    Smooth solutions are a complete representation of the physical world, but mathematically speaking, they may not always exist. Mathematicians who work on equations like Navier-Stokes worry about this kind of scenario: You’re running the Navier-Stokes equations and observing how a vector field changes. After some finite amount of time, the equations tell you a particle in the fluid is moving infinitely fast. That would be a problem.

    Ii the context of that claimed commitment to mathematical exactitude it is ironic, then, that the maths folks (including those at Clay Maths who posed the official Millenium-Prize version of problem) chose to omit from their formulations the crucial supplementary equation expressing conservation of energy, which would instantly render impossible such physically nonsensical situations such as locally infinite fluid velocities — they use only conservation of mass and momentum, which is the kind of “toy” formulation justified only if the Mach number is everywhere sufficiently small as to be assumed indistinguishable from zero. As soon as you get a situation with sufficiently high local velocity that assumption is violated, and to preserve physical realism you *must* take into account compressibiity effects, which means bringing in both a realistic equation of state and the aforementioned expression of the 1st law of thermodynamics, the energy equation. I hate to say it because these are all undoubtedly very smart people, but “ask a stupid question…” comes to mind.

  17. Alex Morfesis

    Feel better…get some hot and sour soup and some singapore mei fun (street noodles)…even if not on the menu locally the cook will know how to make you a batch

  18. ewmayer

    Re. “I AM HODLING” [BitCoin Forum] — With apologies to Kenny Rogers, the title of whose song I am riffing on is entirely apt in terms of describing crypto-tulip ‘investors’:

    You got to know
    When to hodl ’em
    Know when to fodl ’em
    Know when to walk away
    Know when to run
    You never count your money
    While it’s still in Coinbase’s tables
    There’ll be time enough for countin’
    When the sellin’s done

    Every gambler knows
    The secret to survivin’
    Is knowin’ what to sell off
    And knowin’ what to keep

    ‘Cause every hand’s a winner
    And every hand’s a loser
    And the best that you can hope for
    Is to die in your sleep”

    And when he finished speakin’
    He turned back toward the window
    Crushed out his cigarette

    And faded off to sleep
    And somewhere in the darkness
    The gambler – he broke even
    And in his final words I found
    An ace that I could keep

    You’ve got to know
    When to hodl ’em
    Know when to fodl ’em
    Know when to walk away
    Know when to run
    You never count your money
    While it’s still in Coinbase’s tables
    There’ll be time enough for countin’
    When the sellin’s done.

  19. Oregoncharles

    ” Can somebody who really understands Mr. Market comment?”
    Nobody answered, so I’ll try: isn’t it a run on the banks? It’s a huge vote of no confidence in the established financial system. In the old days, it would have been gold.

    (*Of course, it’s also a classic speculative frenzy; I’m answering the question “why bitcoin?”

  20. Monica B.

    Re: “The Bezzle: “I AM HODLING” [BitCoin Forum] (via). From 2013, still relevant. Can somebody who really understands Mr. Market comment?”

    Vice had an article on ‘hodling’ that was interesting (and enlightening about the jargon for the newb).

    Feel better, Lambert!

Comments are closed.