Links 12/10/17

Vegetarian sausages found to be just as unhealthy as meat sausages Metro. Healthy sausages, military intelligence, darkness visible…

‘The Shed at Dulwich’ was London’s top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn’t exist. WaPo. Awesome japery.

Bitcoin fairy dust sends other niche assets soaring FT

The Bulgarian Government Is Sitting on $3 Billion in Bitcoin CoinDesk (Richard Smith).

Text alert: the ‘bank’ message that cost a student £5,400 of her loan money Guardian (Richard Smith). Richard Smith: “At some point, it will become obvious to all that Smartphone banking is completely unusable; presumably, that enlightenment will come just after the banks have closed all their branches.”

‘Grinch bots’ may steal Christmas by snatching up prized toys AFP

Amazon is running its own hunger games – and all the players will be losers Guardian (Re Silc).

Four in 10 right-to-buy homes are now owned by private landlords Guardian

The addictive game that shows how easy it is for kleptocrats to hide their money Quartz

Economists in 2017: What Can They Agree On? The Market Mogul (UserFriendly).

India

The Truth Behind the Gujarat Growth Model The WIre (J-LS). Sounds like neoliberalism took just a few years to do for Gujarant what it took decades to do in the States!

Chilling change: As Kashmir’s taste in architecture changed, its homes became colder Scroll (J-LS).

Bent by the Sun Design Observer. 2010, still germane.

China?

China Audit Finds Provinces Faked Data and Borrowed Illegally Bloomberg

How the mass eviction of migrant workers has left Beijing reeling SCMP

The Subversive Power of Chinese Internet Slang Sixth Tone

Future of electric cars is at the bottom of a Chinese salt lake Nikei Asian Review

Can Cambodia meet its target to remove landmines by 2025? Asian Correspondent. Caution: Nobel Peace Prize Winners At Work.

North Korea

No plans to evacuate families off Korean Peninsula, US military says Stars and Stripes

Japan 1941, North Korea 2017? 38 North

76 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies David Swanson, Mint Press

Syraqistan

Why Is There No “Saudi-Gate”? Jacobin (Re Silc).

Despite furor over Jerusalem move, Saudis seen on board with U.S. peace efforts Reuters

Syria – ISIS Is Defeated – The U.S. Is Next In Line Moon of Alabama

U.S. Says 2,000 Troops Are in Syria, a Fourfold Increase NYT (CL).

Imperial Collapse Watch

Report: 44,000 ‘unknown’ military personnel stationed around the world Stars and Stripes (Re Silc). “The U. S. military has more than 44,000 troops across the globe that the Pentagon claims it cannot track, according to a recent report.” Everything is fine. The Pentagon can’t keep track of its money, either.

U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World RAND Corporation. “The nation could avoid major force cuts and achieve the objectives outlined above by increasing defense spending by $20 billion to $40 billion per year on a sustained basis.”

Emergencies Without End: A Primer on Federal States of Emergency LawFare (Re Silc).

New Cold War

The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept. And with media debacles, it’s a crowded field. Greenwald at his best; must-read.

Cognitive Rot and the Steele Dossier emptywheel

A Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans Cable

Trump Transition

The Republican tax bill: four takeaways Corey Robin, Guardian

Trump Financial Regulator Mulvaney Pushed CFPB To Back Off Industry That Bankrolled Him David Sirota, International Business Times

How Trump can get over his slump Global Times. An official source explains U.S. domestic politics. Note the last paragraph.

Democrats in Disarray

DNC Unity Commission Agrees On Slate Of Historic Reforms HuffPo. “The commission’s report now heads to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which will have a 6-month period to amend party rules to enact the reforms.” And all Sanders supporters were purged from the RBC, no doubt in anticipation of this moment. So expect the usual chicanery from the occupants of the moral high ground….

Jones Brings in Cavalry to Boost Black Turnout in Alabama Senate Race Roll Call. Cory Booker (2020).

Net Neutrality

The FCC Shouldn’t Vote on Net Neutrality Until It Investigates Comment Fraud WIRED. The silence about the source of the hacked comments at the FCC is quite remarkable; note, however, the pro-Net Neutrality forces would not have needed to do any such thing, and it would be against interest for them to do so, particularly with such crudity.

The FCC Still Doesn’t Know How the Internet Works EFF (CL).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Wired releases a surveillance self-defense guide Boing Boing. The perfect Xmas gift!

Sports Desk

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘Trump is where he is because of his appeal to racism’ Guardian

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation AP

Black Injustice Tipping Point

UN poverty official touring Alabama’s Black Belt: ‘I haven’t seen this’ in the First World AL.com. There’s a reason for that.

Boston. Racism. Image. Reality: The Spotlight team takes on our hardest question Boston Globe

Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth Pro Publica

The Adopted Black Baby, and the White One Who Replaced Her NYT

Graphic video shows Daniel Shaver sobbing and begging officer for his life before 2016 shooting WaPo

The Numbers of Women in Tech Rise and Fall, But Sexual Harassment is Ever Present IEEE Spectrum

Class Warfare

Why, Despite Our Media Company’s Record Growth, I Have Been Forced to Lay Off 40% of My Staff McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

The economy’s biggest mystery — paychecks just aren’t growing CNBC. ‘Tis a puzzlement!

The Master Class on the Make The Baffler. Solid issue from The Baffler.

You’re the Real Job Creator (interview) Stephanie Kelton, n+1

Notes on the Ascendancy of Identity Politics in Literary Writing Subtropics. Super-long, super-dense, and very interesting, at least to this writer and former English major.

US farmers lose their heirs to opioid epidemic The Times. It certainly is odd that liberal Democrats as a party have nothing to say about all these excess rural deaths. Perhaps if the opioids came from Russia?

Association of moral values with vaccine hesitancy Nature

Our Movement Needs Radical Change Earth Island. Interesting, but not clear who the enemy is. The fossil fuel “industry”? “Corporations”? Us?

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

228 comments

  1. cnchal

    Text alert: the ‘bank’ message that cost a student £5,400 of her loan money

    How did the fraudsters get their details?

    Could the two featured victims both have been caught up in hacking incidents that could have put their personal details in the hands of fraudsters?

    Both victims had registered their debit cards with Uber. The company has admitted its customers’ mobile phone, email and other personal details were hacked last year, but claimed no card details were compromised. Many shopping sites have poor online security, and there are probably other hacking incidents of which consumers are not even aware. Any one of these might have led to fraudsters obtaining crucial details about the students.

    Fraudsters who know the first few digits of a debit card can usually work out which bank provided the card. If they also have the mobile phone number and customer’s name they are in business, and can immediately target the customers in the ways seen above. These are not mass texts and emailing exercises; individuals are targeted so that the fraudster has someone ready to pick up the call to the “bank”.

    With so much hacked data out there, enterprising individuals or teams have come up with an innovative way to steal. I suppose that the only way to combat that is to have as small a digital footprint as possible, now and in the past and stop being a “consumer”.

    The internet has changed. Trust is gone.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      The film Fight Club was more progressive than I possibly appreciated the first dozen times that I watched. as Bill the Cat used to remark, “Ack”!!

      Reply
    2. JMM

      Data is indeed binary:

      * Either it has already been leaked / hacked.
      * Ot it will be.

      The sooner everyone realizes, the better.

      Reply
    3. Ook

      There’s a chance that this is a new form of skimming, facilitated by the 1-in-3 people out there who operate their smartphones without locks and leave them unattended at times.
      No need for the incredibly complicated high-tech solution when you can get all the information needed for this by looking at an unlocked phone for 10 seconds.

      Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Scary article.

      Wait till we are in the ‘my robot will talk to your robot’ new world.

      Who knows what will happen then. Maybe we see evil robots prey on and swindle your naive robots.

      Reply
      1. RepubAnon

        I’ve always thought buying things with one’s phone was a security risk – imagine walking past a row of vending machines and “butt-buying” things inadvertently, or having someone play a “man in the middle” attack to steal your purchasing information.

        I anticipate a market opportunity for the gift card industry: imagine an account that you could upload a small sum to, and that you needed to manually approve the addition of funds if it ran low. Not a perfect solution, but one that would act as a stop-loss bulwark against big dollar losses.

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          Very much aware that this may not be available everywhere or viable for many people even where it is, but the only accounts UK banks are even willing to offer the low-waged & welfare claimants (no change, in my experience, from very to relatively low-wage status) work with ATMs but are not set up for any kind of online payments, direct debits or transfers at all. (Holders of these accounts are looked at/spoken to as though we were cockroaches on entering an actual bank branch, but the feeling is mutual.) The inconveniences are obvious and may well be prohibitive for many people who are forced to pay non-cash charges of all kinds (in London I can pay rent, electricity & municipal tax in cash at a bank or franchise-holding store, but I know that’s far from universal), but it does make card hacking almost impossible except through “old-fashioned” ATM skimming. One brief experiment with a reluctantly conceded “normal” debit card incurred two hacks within a year (the second because the bank didn’t shut down the account when expressly instructed to do so). Whereas my remedial/zero-credit-status/welfare casualty ATM card account of 22+ years’ standing has never suffered any sort of theft.
          Another factor limiting the usefulness of this model, I realize, is the uneven availability of “free” ATMs, which are everywhere — i.e. short walking distance — in reasonable-size cities like London or Istanbul & some smaller ones down to size of Montreal/Vienna/Munich/Glasgow/Auckland, even Paris) but not necessarily within reach at all in smaller towns or rural areas.

          Reply
  2. fresno dan

    The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept. And with media debacles, it’s a crowded field. Greenwald at his best; must-read.

    All of this prompts the glaring, obvious, and critical question – one which CNN refuses to address: how did “multiple sources” all misread the date on this document, in exactly the same way, and toward the same end, and then feed this false information to CNN?
    ========================================================
    It is an amazing thing how much of what passes for “news” is merely “analysis” and how so often the source documents, as well as the “sources” are never made available, never discussed.
    As someone who actually watches both Fox and CNN, they are both in their own bubble, although it appears to me CNN is more smug about it. They both ask the “questions” that fit a narrative and an agenda, and are completely self censor any contradictions.
    There are objective facts in the world – just not any profit in providing them…

    Reply
    1. Lynne

      It’s discouraging how dependent people have become on “analysis.”. Just a few weeks ago, there was massive outrage because The NY Times had an article describing a neo-Nazi without the obligatory editorial outrage that someone like that exists. What struck me was how many people were outraged *because* there was actual reporting without inserting editorial comment. And then, it was extremely disheartening that so many people seemed to need to be told to be outraged by the sentiments expressed by the article’s subject; they are so dependent on being told what and how to think, they couldn’t handle the strain of making up their own minds and not having official approval of their feelings.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Lynne
        December 10, 2017 at 9:09 am

        I agree with you, but I have a quibble. I don’t think it is analysis – well, not the “analysis” defined in dictionaries as the dispassionate examination of the issue at hand, informed by individuals striving to be objective, who are well educated and well experienced scholars in a field of study. This TV “analysis” is entertainment and serves no purpose but to increase profit, and not as a selfless attempt to inform the public.
        CNN – where every day is historic…

        Reply
        1. Enquiring Mind

          Breaking News!
          CNN, among others, has overused that phrase and now the brainwashed viewers salivate at the mere sight of the graphic while awaiting some titillating news crawl or analysis or just plain fabrication. So many news readers, so few journalists.

          Reply
    2. Hana M

      Good point about the bubbles–and the smugness, Fresno Dan. That was an excellent Glenn Greenwald article. Greenwald made two particularly important observations: First that “….at least two – and possibly more – sources, which these media outlets all assessed as credible in terms of having access to sensitive information, all fed the same false information to multiple news outlets at the same time…For multiple reasons, the probability is very high that these sources were Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee (or their high-level staff members), which is the committee that obtained access to Trump Jr.’s emails, although it’s certainly possible that it’s someone else.” Secondly, he’s on target about the news media’s obligation to disclose ‘sources’ that deliberately spread misinformation. Much easier, as he notes, when the ‘source’s is a nobody, rather than a powerful member of Congress or the intelligence industry community.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Hana M
        December 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

        Is it me, or are source snafus like comets – periodically, they light up the sky and a big to do is made of them, and than they fade out of sight and are forgotten…until they show up right on schedule a few years later.

        Reply
        1. cgeye

          The scum at Project Veritas promised that ‘something big’ was coming up, even after their operative was unmasked — considering that said op wasn’t very hidden, in the first place, what if the big score was actually the contamination of the sourcing system for these news companies?

          It would take reaching willing pranksters close to the intelligence community, then taking advantage of the laziness such sources instill in journalists — if someone’s clandestine, how do you verify their ID?

          I see it as a reprise of the typeball controversy over W’s TANG service record — a very small straw, to break the camel’s back.

          Reply
    3. Craig H.

      Totally agree this is very good Greenwald.

      I am reminded of the situation in Bush’s first term where everybody was reading that Susskind story in the New York Times Sunday magazine where he quoted Rove as saying “we create reality” or words to that effect; and then Rove claimed he was misquoted, and epistemology was at the center of the national debate. Colbert (if I recall correctly) said “reality has a liberal bias” and ten percent of the lefties I knew were loudly proclaiming “I am a proud member of the Reality-Based-Community”.

      They may still be doing that but I am reticent about making truth claims myself. That may be exaggerated. I am more reticent about making truth claims than I used to be.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Craig H.
        December 10, 2017 at 9:42 am

        https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/on-the-liberal-bias-of-facts/

        The quote about reality having a liberal bias has generally been attributed to Krugman, but apparently it was first said by a comedian – not Colbert, but Rod Corddery.
        Irony….

        “They may still be doing that but I am reticent about making truth claims myself. That may be exaggerated. I am more reticent about making truth claims than I used to be.”
        Craig H. – wise words for all of us to live by…

        Reply
    4. Sid_finster

      If nothing else, 2016 was the year in which the MSM ceased to carry on even the slightest pretense of objectivity.

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        This is true of the upper echelons of the MSM. But, you’re still likely to get a little sense in venues that used be considered second tier or worse. Like U.S.A. Today. And west coast papers like the L.A. Times.

        It is the darlings of the east coast establishment that have descended into an ego-fueled frenzy. The Atlantic. The New Yorker. The New York Times. And the WaPo most notably. But, news is still out there and is still being covered. It is scattered across many tens of daily and weekly publications, buried between pieces on local events.

        Reply
    5. tegnost

      bookmarked the article for the upcoming holiday as a sort of one stop shopping to at least get them to change the subject. Really looks like one of those friday news dump things, and plenty of people are going to continue to parrot the story, retractions bedamned…also explains some of the progressive giddiness I was exposed to on friday as I can’t bear to watch he usual suspects in the msm, and although I tried, couldn’t even make it 30 seconds into any of the clips they’re so far gone from reality. Ugh. Please please don’t tell me what npr had to say about it…

      Reply
    6. temporal

      While the article by Greenwald was pretty good, I was struck the interesting idea of accepting any email at face value. CNN and crew, and perhaps even Greenwald, have apparently no idea that emails and their contents are easily forged. At the very least going back to the source and verifying the writer’s intent would have been the minimum bar before going forward.

      Wait until these folks get an offer from a Nigerian oil prince.

      Reply
    7. WheresOurTeddy

      One need not watch the actual segments on for-profit Oligarch news channels.

      Simply watch the commercials. They’re the ones paying for it. You think CNN is ever going to run a story on the pharmaceutical industry that is anything but fawning? They pay the bills…

      The sooner people treat televisions solely as entertainment devices and everything that comes out of them as entertainment and nothing else, the better off we will all be. THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT YOUR ALLIES, MUCH LESS YOUR FRIENDS.

      Trump reportedly watches 4+ hours of TV a day, by the way…

      Reply
    1. LD

      “If the left says, instead, reverse the cuts, keep some of the increases, and use that money for health care, free college, public transportation, and jobs, we’ve got a new politics, one that breaks with the austerity that Democrats from Carter to Obama have peddled.”

      Taxes fund spending?

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Re “Taxes fund spending”? — In the sense that taxation is an instrument of social policy, I’d say that the “transfer of wealth” suggested by Robin is pointing in the right direction for a change. Hope springs eternal. Since “we” the mopery will of course never see any redirection of the flow of wealth to the Very Special Few with their inexhaustible appetites and their Live-For-The-Moment Death Wish, which they get to impose on all the rest of us.

        Too many of “us,” of course, also carry the same death wish, of growth and consumption and imperial and tribal hubris and violence, and despair when “we” don’t get filthy rich too.

        Sign me up for the Joel Osteen-Martin Shkreli Seminar Series on How To Make It Big, with G_D’s divine help, and conscience-free… But wait! For a few dollars more, you can also get the full Hillary speech series, with commentaries by Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein! A boxed set, with a free copy of “What Happened!” Put this on YOUR Christmas list!

        Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ was London’s top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn’t exist. WaPo.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If I owned a restaurant, you can look at Trip Advisor as either the worst thing to come along-in that it exposes how bad of a restaurant your establishment is, or on the other hand, if faced with such a dilemma, you can turn the tables on bad reviews by making sure there are a lot of questionable excellent reviews to counter them.

    The absolute awfulest hotel/restaurant here is a case study in how to go about accomplishing this. No locals ever tend to eat at this establishment, the food is truly that bad & overpriced, and to add insult to injury, this to be avoided at all costs eatery charges $1.00 for each glass of tap water you quaff down with your meal. If you want to eat outside on the patio and it gets a bit chilly, a portable propane heater can be yours temporarily for a charge of $10-as per what’s written on the menu, yes, it’s that kind of a place.

    Of course, they can’t do much about the real reviews that paint a picture of how tragic everything is in the Fawlty Towers wannabe hotel/restaurant, and in fact, they seldom reply to insipid reviews, but almost always to 5 star reviews, which tells a tale.

    As so often goes with T/A, the 1 star reviews are a hoot to read, here’s the latest one:

    “After a long day of hiking and enjoying the incredible views of Sequoia and King National Park we came upon the Gateway Inn as we exited the park. We were seated at an outside table, then it all went bad. Out waitress arrived 10 minutes later and took our beverage order and then disappeared for 15 before returning with our drinks. The glass was cracked but i used it anyway or I would still be there. My wife ordered a cheeseburger($13.95) and I ordered the tunafish sandwich ($14.95, no joke). 15 minutes later my sandwich arrived and to our surprise my wife was served eggplant parmigiana, apparently the waitress made the mistake and went running off for 20 minutes to bring back a hamburger (that was ordered medium rare) that was as hard as a hockey puck. the bill for this came out to $48.00. The view is ok, the food below average and the service is horrible. The prices are ridiculous! Do yourself a favor, wander up into the hills and try catching and eating a squirrel.”

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60963-d550564-Reviews-The_Gateway_Restaurant_and_Lodge-Three_Rivers_California.html

    Reply
    1. Ed

      I realize this is not exactly your point, but I’ve stayed in one of these places on the road to King’s Canyon, and their entire purpose is to provide a bed or a meal as close as possible to the park, allowing people to avoid the even more overpriced concessions in the parks themselves. No one in their right mind would stop at these places to get a good restaurant meal. Both parks are well worth visiting, but if you visit them (and camping is not for everyone) you have to sleep and eat somewhere, so these places have a purpose.

      And actually this is the situation where I’ve found TripAdvisor is the most useful. Its in situations where I have to be someplace out of some obligation (business, relatives) or do an overnight stop-over, and have to sort out the least bad of a bunch of crappy options.

      Reply
    2. David

      I don’t use TripAdvisor unless there’s literally no alternative, and even then just to find a restaurant to look at. On the other hand, at least in Europe, there are sites which only allow you to post reviews of restaurants (and hotels) if you have actually made a reservation there. These, I use pretty much exclusively, as well as contributing to. They are not impossible to game, of course, but it’s far more difficult.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Tripadvisor to be quite good, but like all these things it got crapified and gamed very quickly. As you say, the only online reviews worth looking at are those from people who have paid and booked through the same site.

        Reply
      2. Wombat

        Ill use trip advisor et al to scan the available options, then call the establishment directly for reservation. Typically the call in rate is the same or better. 1st – this way trip advisor /trivago/ etc doesnt get its ~25% gouge from the mom and pop motels. 2nd- it validates that the big hotels need sufficient human workers in their facilities to take “antiquated” calls. Just ensure you call the local hotel number and not the national 800 number.

        Reply
      3. lyman alpha blob

        Unless you are taking a trip to an unpopulated island that nobody has ever visited before, there is always an alternative.

        Ask a real live human being.

        Reply
    3. Lee

      Eateries in scenic locations with lovely views are always a dubious prospect. If they also rely on the tourist trade, they are doubly so.

      Reply
  4. allan

    “The economy’s biggest mystery — paychecks just aren’t growing”

    Haven’t you gotten the memo? The biggest threat to the U.S. economy is a worker shortage:

    Worker Shortage Could Dampen Economy
    [NPR]

    … SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: The monthly job number from the Labor Department was somewhat better than forecasters had been expecting. But it was no surprise to Tom Maher. He runs the Manpower temporary firm in Dayton, Ohio, where factories have been buzzing.

    TOM MAHER: Virtually every manufacturer in the area has a help wanted sign outside their window.

    HORSLEY: Nationwide, factories have added 189,000 jobs in the last 12 months. But even though the national unemployment rate is a low 4.1 percent, Maher says workers’ paychecks are barely outpacing inflation.

    MAHER: Wages are rising, but they’re not rising as fast as I believe they really should in order to attract the workers that they need.

    HORSLEY: White House economist Kevin Hassett suspects that’s partly because many of the new hires have been entry-level workers. They don’t make as much as more experienced colleagues. But those entry-level openings do spell opportunity for people who haven’t worked in a long time or ever.

    KEVIN [DOW 36,000] HASSETT: We’re at that point in the cycle where the market is tight enough that it’s really rewarding everybody.

    HORSLEY: Hassett notes the jobless rate among people without a high school diploma fell by half a percentage point last month and unemployment among Hispanics fell to its lowest level ever.

    HASSETT: If we could sustain growth at this level for another couple of years, then the amount of progress we would make on income inequality and wage growth for middle America would be maybe even unprecedented.

    Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the tax plan that Hassett is shilling for
    actually punishes employees whose income comes by paycheck.

    Somehow, many of the survivors of the news business apocalypse are the worst sort of generalists.
    They have great Rolodexes but lack either the policy knowledge or the guts to push back on interviewees
    like Hassett when they spout nonsense.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They may already be on planet Earth that has no place for old men (and women…plus etc).

      HORSLEY: White House economist Kevin Hassett suspects that’s partly because many of the new hires have been entry-level workers. They don’t make as much as more experienced colleagues. But those entry-level openings do spell opportunity for people who haven’t worked in a long time or ever.

      Lots of corporations would rather let go of older, and more experienced (at work and in life) workers and replace with younger and less experienced (at work and in life) ones.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        You nailed it with that last sentence. There is no shortage of qualified workers for any industry – what there is is a shortage of companies willing to pay people who actually have the skills and experience.

        Better to hire a bunch of twenty something app monkeys who know the right buttons to click on Fleecebook. Since the heavy hitters are all selling crap anyway, no one really needs to know how to actually do anything anymore.

        Reply
  5. Merf56

    Re: Paychecks aren’t growing. My beef is regarding the fact that virtually all retail jobs, restaurant jobs and many more etc are all ‘part time’. As in no one can make a living from them even with occasional ‘raises’ without holding multiple ones which is a juggling trick needing professional skills.
    Ask a person the next time you check out or need help in a store if they would like their job to be full tIme. I have yet to find anyone who says an unqualified ‘no’. If paychecks are not going up for full time workers imagine how bad the huge number of people stuck in ‘part time hell’ are doing….
    I confess to knowing fairly zip about the murky world of corporate financials ( yes I know it clearly shows in my posts ..) but what would happen if in some fantasy we rearranged our tax code to SEVERELY punish businesses who operate on this part time model and HIGHLY rewarded businesses who hired full time with benefits workers? What exactly would that do to the situation?? Any ideas? (Be gentle..)

    Reply
    1. griffen

      What we could do is to reveal the underpinning of how the Wal Mart and Amazon models do very well, which to use state and fedral tax law to partly subsidize their model thru proprty tax relief & tax abatements. Its not just them but they easily come to mind.

      Its great to be big business in America. Dont like it please find the door out. Its a corporatist utopia.

      Reply
        1. ArcadiaMommy

          I have repeatedly told friends/family/acquaintances that the cheap price they think they are getting via wal-mart or amazon style business models is because these companies don’t pay their employees enough to live on. But so many are completely isolated from the people who work at these companies that they just don’t seem able to comprehend how precarious your lifestyle would be as an employee of these places.

          Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            Yesterday, I was running low on food. Since a massive street fair was in the way of me and my favorite food co-op, I went to a chain grocery store

            What a depressing experience.

            The store was clean and well stocked, but the employees looked like they were fighting a battle with poverty. And losing.

            And, Fry’s, it isn’t like you can’t afford to pay a living wage.

            Reply
              1. Wukchumni

                We have Grocery Outlet here (my wife calls it the Groutlet) and it’s kind of like the 99 cent store runs into Trader Joes, in a food vein.

                Largely a tribute to failed products or lack of shelf space in traditional supermarkets, a fun place to shop.

                Reply
                1. WheresOurTeddy

                  Can’t buy juice any cheaper than the Grocery Outlet. Great discounts on staples too if you know how to prepare your own food.

                  Like all grocery stores, the profit is in the impulse buys for the crap on the end caps. Wife and I can eat for 2 weeks on one $60 run to Grocery Outlet and a $60 Costco run for volume buys.

                  Reply
                  1. barefoot charley

                    Our tenants call the chain GrosOut, and love it. My wife and I swill almost exclusively from their selections of cheap remaindered wines.

                    Reply
                    1. Lord Koos

                      We shop at GrossOut frequently — occasional killer deals on everything from gourmet ice cream to organic olive oil to kettle chips. Stuff comes and goes and when we see a really good deal we stock up. If it wasn’t for Costco and G.O. we wouldn’t be eating nearly as well. There is another similar chain called Big Lots that also has good deals at times but they have more junk than G.O.

                2. kareninca

                  I love Grocery Outlet. I refer to it as the “Used Food Store” (since it is all stuff on its second try from elsewhere). I can actually afford their pasture-raised eggs since they are less than half the cost at Sprouts (I don’t shop at Whole Foods but I imagine they are one-tenth their price).

                  The city fathers of Palo Alto really, really didn’t want it; they thought it was déclassé; they wanted another food boutique. I knew it would be a real hit and it has been; it is always busy. Silicon Valley has enough food boutiques already. And, Grocery Outlet’s employees are there forever (I recognized some from a stop years ago at their Redwood City location), and don’t seem gratuitously demoralized.

                  Reply
                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    From WikiPedia:

                    The majority of Grocery Outlet’s stores are independently operated by locally based married couples. Each store has flexibility in its product offerings to serve local tastes and demand. The company is managed by the founding Read family.

                    Let’s just hope Bezos doesn’t buy them.

                    Reply
                    1. kareninca

                      That could explain why the Palo Alto store has a lot of vegan frozen stuff. Very interesting. It could also explain why the employees are competent without seeming browbeaten at all. They don’t have the tormented aura of Safeway or Sprouts employees. They really do seem like kids who are working for relatives or family friends.

                3. Adelle Chattre

                  Gross Out’s the best independently owned and operated discount grocery chain I know, and I’ve spent enough time downmarket that means something. Their slogan is trite — “Save more than you spend” — but like many clichés, it’s that way because it’s so often so true. Again, I’ve reason to know.

                  Reply
            1. ArcadiaMommy

              And the ritzy Fry’s stores – um hello the workers barely hanging on are supposed to cheerfully sell expensive cheese, expensive prepared foods, $7 juices, operate the wine bar, etc.? I am all for quality food but there seems to be a rather shocking disparity here. No one seems to wonder how it is possible to have “premium” products/experiences at low, low prices. I just cannot comprehend why it doesn’t make people nervous that the people who do the most elemental jobs (handling food, taking care of children, caring for old people, managing your home) make the least money and are the most disposable people. It’s starting to make me very nervous.

              Reply
              1. Louis

                There is the old saying about service, which I have found to be true about almost any kind of service from professional services to brick and mortal retail and restaurants. You can have:

                (1) Quality Service

                (2) Fast Service

                (3) Cheap Service.

                However, you cannot have more than 2 of the above. To answer your question about why people aren’t more concerned low-wages, especially as it relates to things like food and child-care, a lot of it is people have unrealistic expectations: i.e. they think they can have all three.

                If you want it to be cheap, not only does it mean low-wages but often also means keeping staffing levels to the bare minimum: i.e. those working are constantly asked to do more with less. There is a limit to how many efficiencies you can iron out with the “do more with less” mentality before things that need to get done either don’t get done correctly or don’t get done at all which has major consequences, especially where safety and even customer service are concerned.

                Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I am here to testify that your Three Part Monte is rampant in construction as well.
                  Also, I’m experiencing the ‘orphan tasks’ phenomena at my present job at the Chicken Palace salvage store. Big waves of stuff from some or other name emporium arrive, and take up all of the manpower. The dregs, and often big chunks of the ‘good’ stuff from earlier waves is left to moulder in a back room. So much otherwise good saleable merchandise is ruined from such neglect and subsequently thrown away that it often makes we workers a little sick to see the process play out. Understaffing is at the root of this problem. Hah! The management bonuses lead directly to massive waste. Dystopic Retail Syndrome.

                  Reply
          2. Louis

            A lot of people still persist in the belief that only teenagers, looking for some extra money, work in retail or restaurants, thus low wages are not a big deal. Until people comprehend that there are a lot of adults, who have bills that have to be paid, working these jobs I don’t see the situation getting any better.

            There also the fact that many people who are either apathetic, or outright sneer, at those working retail and restaurant jobs are in a more precarious situation than they may realize or care to admit. They may only be a layoff away from having to work those jobs.

            Reply
            1. Massinissa

              “A lot of people still persist in the belief that only teenagers, looking for some extra money, work in retail or restaurants”

              I’m honestly amazed so many people still think this, considering how contrary it seems to actual experience. I hardly ever see teenagers working in retail or restaurants, I almost always see people at least 30 doing it. Yet the misconception somehow persists in the popular imagination.

              Reply
              1. Louis

                I don’t know how much of it people are genuinely oblivious to it versus being in denial: i.e. they don’t want to believe otherwise because it would undercut their beliefs or something else.

                While I won’t blame the anti-minimum-wage camp for all of it, I do believe they play a major role in propagating this belief and keeping it alive. They have a vested interest in doing so for fairly obvious reasons: i.e. it’s a lot harder to oppose the minimum-wage for adults with bills to pay–it’s not impossible, as some still oppose the minimum-wage for anyone–than teenagers looking to earn some spending money.

                Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      The charts show that American wages have flat-lined since the 1970s. As costs have nonetheless still gone up rapidly this will cripple the economy as it is recognized that the economy has been built around consumerism and now consumers do not have the money to spend anymore, especially after maxing out their credit over the past few decades. No more shop-till-you-drop.
      On the bright side, people will have to go back to being citizens again instead of consumers and values that originally built up America such as frugality will come back in vogue. Instead of spending spare time shopping people may decide to go into activism instead. People may even come to realize that their votes outweigh those of the 1% by quite a margin. They may even decide to dump the Republican party and the Lite-Republican party and form a Progressive party instead.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        My bet is that only a few of us mopes have it in us to “go back to being citizens,” kind of like sociopaths who end up in jail can’t be “rehabilitated” because they were never “habilitated’ in the first instance. Missing is any reservoir of understanding or of course agreement of what a “citizen” is or might be, compounded by the perversion of the concept (corps are “citizens,” “citizens” have patriotic duties to stand up and sing the Anthem at sports events, “citizens” are bound to enlist to go kill wogs for the increase of the Empire and its owners, obey, obey, obey…”

        The best I would hope for, since I still have some fellow-feeling for the species I was borne into, despite the horrors most of us wreak or facilitate or suffer in ineffectual silence and feckless complaint, is that some subset will end up like the literati that survive the Armageddon in “Farenheit 451,” and walk around in the stable, clean confines of their new post-urban communes reciting the Great Works of past generations that they have committed to memory, to preserve against the best efforts of the Firemen whose task was to burn all the books… Bearing in mind that those “classics” contain seductive entry points into all the evils that “culture” has encoded into “our history and literature” over millennia, and so carry forward the seeds of just another round of asymptotic “development” and collapse…

        Happy Holiday Retail Season!

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          “fellow-feeling for the species” in fraught relation to parochial “citizenship”; hope that some of the survivors will remember the “culture” AND its encoding in the catastrophe that few survived…
          Thanks JTMcPh. for “nailing”, as the saying goes, yet another iteration of “it”.

          Reply
    3. MtnLife

      Make a law that says if any of your employees are on social services then all corporate profits will be seized and executive compensation reduced to $50k. Instant course correction. Good luck getting it passed though.

      Reply
      1. jgordon

        Do you happen to have a break down of who actually uses social services? If not that’s totally cool. Your proposal is excellent. I can’t think of a better way of keeping women, and especially women with dependents, out of the labor force. With this we’ll be able to return to a more traditional society with high fertility rates and stable families in no time. Your idea just might just be the salvation of Western civilization. I commend you. The next step would be to cut government welfare as well and then we might finally have a sustainable society that won’t collapse in a few years.

        Reply
  6. Ed

    “Report: 44,000 ‘unknown’ military personnel stationed around the world Stars and Stripes ”

    I didn’t click on the link, but at least in the army regular soldiers need published orders to pretty much go anywhere. Its pretty much impossible to lose track of them unless you stop issuing orders or suddenly going places without orders isn’t a big deal. They could be the people doing black ops, but the practice seems to be to use private contractors/ mercs for that.

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      Agreed. They know. Well, someone does, anyway. Wouldn’t be surprised if “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been re-purposed for congressional and executive oversight though.

      Reply
  7. Carolinian

    Re Emptywheel and Marcy Wheeler arguing with Josh Marshall and Jonathan Chait: clearly there’s a whole other internet out there….one I never read! Gave up on Marshall around the time he–more in sorrow than in anger–decided the Iraq invasion was indeed necessary. All these years later he’s still plugging away but on sites where I hang out one never ever ever sees mention of Talkingpointsmemo. If a Josh Marshall misstatement falls in the forest will anyone hear it? As Cyd Charisse said to Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon: he’s “practically a historical character.”

    Marcy should spend more time on, say, Consortium News (or here!) and get hep to the bigger picture. Sorting through the minutiae of a bs dossier is not very productive.

    Reply
    1. Comrade Pinko

      Not to mention Marcy’s been hinting for nearly a year that she has inside info and knows that Trump colluded with Russia, but she can’t tell us what it is, but just wait, “darker things are to come.”

      Reply
      1. G

        I think the actual claim was that some government insider gave her proof that the Russian government was behind some of the email leaks (or something), which she wrote somewhere on her blog. But, yeah, she couldn’t share the info or who gave it to her. Could be that someone set her up to buy into the whole russiagate narrative. As far as I know, she never claimed to have secret proof of collusion. Although, it’s pretty clear she’s convinced there was collusion at this point.

        All in all, her twitter feed reads like the rant of a conspiracy theorist since he beginning of 2017. I find it hard to take most of her writing very seriously anymore.

        Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      She did fantastic reporting on the Clinton Foundation grift machine but agreed that it seems she’s now focused on some things that matter more to her personally than to the interests of people who comment here.

      Reply
      1. Lunker Walleye

        Marcy also live-blogged the Scooter Libby trial and I became a big fan. Don’t feel that way anymore and have not since 2016.

        Reply
    3. Plenue

      Why is this Dossier even still considered a thing worth discussing? One of its central claims is that Trump had a direct line to the Kremlin for years. This was disproved months ago by the revelation that his son had a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Clinton. If such a direct line truly existed, Trump would have already had any dirt (and probably much better quality dirt as well). Add to that all the stuff with Flynn trying to get meetings with Russians to lobby for Israel. If you had a direct line to the leadership of Russia, you wouldn’t have to struggle to set up any meeting.

      Reply
    4. anonymous

      Re: Empty Wheel on the Dossier:

      Not to mention this very disappointing sentence toward the end of her article:

      ‘As I’ve said repeatedly, we don’t need the dossier to believe dark things about Trump’s relations with Russians; public reports substantiate that darkness, and darker things are to come.”

      Sounds as if she is a brainwashee

      Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    Now that we’re talking war, i’m about to embark on one against gopherdom, in that the little bastards killed a dozen of our fruit trees this summer, in a what was previously a Tulare cherry tree, turned into a Tulare cherry stick fashion. They eat through the ‘trunk’ of young trees barely underfoot, and heretofore i’ve been relying on battery operated stakes that make an irritating sound every 45 seconds, that you bury under the surface, but now I realize that they probably like it, and must think of my activity as the guy that gave us that cool underground band.

    I don’t want to go full Caddyshack on them mind you, as flooding them with 10,000 gallons of water to teach them a little bit of a lesson, will only result in the demise of the trees, but i’m seriously considering getting the Pentagon involved on this caper, and the only issue is trying to get Big Gov to understand that this terra-ist threat is real.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Can you introduce predators? My son has a pet rattlesnake I’d love to give you. I had a nightmare about the damned thing last night.

      Are there non-toxic options? I got rid of a family of squirrels nesting in my walls by dumping chili powder between the studs. If you can aerosolize it, as is done with bear guard, that might work.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The only thing I kill on the all cats and no cattle ranch is rattlesnakes and poison oak, not necessarily in that order. So, thanks for the offer, but you’ll have to make some excuse to your son why it went missing and no you’re not going to get him another one, and I realize it’s cold blooded to think in such a way, or why not replace it with a gopher snake when he’s not looking, and they tend to mimic rattlers in a lot of ways, maybe he wont notice?

        Thanks for the tip on gophers, i’m open to all suggestions of how to make them go away, and if you do get that gopher snake and can train it to make it’s namesake disappear here, there’s a finder’s fee in it for you.

        Reply
      2. Lee

        Or you can kill them with fire!

        Gas explosive devices also are available and are somewhat effective at controlling gopher populations. These devices ignite a mixture of propane and oxygen in the burrow system. This concussive force kills the gopher and destroys the burrow system. Be sure to exercise caution when using these devices because of the potential for unintended damage to property, injury to users and bystanders, potential for starting fires in dry environments, and destruction of turf. Additionally, these devices can by quite loud, making them unsuitable in residential areas
        http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7433.html

        I suggest you read the entire article. There are other methods suggested. Gopher live trapping and relocation is not on offer.

        Reply
    2. MtnLife

      Those sound deterrents only work for a little while before they become accustomed. My buddy uses his dogs to control the ones around his farm. Others I know use air rifles (.22-.30) or .22s and say that they taste great surrounded by the vegetables they didn’t get to.

      Reply
        1. MtnLife

          My buddy has a terrier and a dogo. The terrier flushes it to the dogo where it doesn’t stand a chance. Nothing much stands up to a dog bred to hunt wild boar. Ask the 30+ dead coyotes.

          Reply
    3. Lee

      Have a doggie digger party. Throw a bbq and invite friends with terriers. My female Staffordshire terrier (aka pit bull) is a rodent killer par excellence and digs deep holes for fun and exercise.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I bought some of those very ones in anticipation of dubious battles to come, i’m glad to hear they’ve worked for you.

        Reply
        1. kareninca

          I planted fruit trees in Silicon Valley years ago in an area that was wall-to-wall gophers, with clay soil. I used chicken wire. I dug a nice hole for the tree, fully lined it with a couple of layers of chicken wire (not thin cheap stuff; sturdy wire) and had it go an inch or two above the surface around the hole edges as well. Like a basket, but it was cheaper to make it myself and I could adjust the size that way. The easiest method is to take a really big square of chicken wire, place it over the hole, and then stomp on it until it conforms to the shape of the hole. The add another piece and stomp it in. then bend the edges so they aren’t sticking up annoyingly. All of the inside of the hole must be defended.

          I lost very few trees. The wire will eventually rot away but by that time the tree is big enough to fend them off somehow on its own.

          Pretty much all of the trees that I planted without the chicken wire – early on, before I figured this out – were killed off. I would show up at the community farm and the tree would be wilted and it would be like a tall stick tilting in a hole. Fortunately for my blood pressure I think rodents are cute.

          Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      Gawd, don’t use the Pentagon. They’ll firebomb your trees in order to save your orchard! Do you have non-poisonous snakes in the area that you live in that you can introduce? The old time farmers down here used carpet snakes to get rid of rodents and even kept them in their houses as well as their barns.
      Would gassing them work either? Lotta work plugging the exits but gas would reach into every part of their tunnels, even if it was only car/truck exhaust and then it would dissipate after the job was done.

      Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      I worked at a vineyard where gophers were a constant battle. They could chew off a full-grown grape vine, cost hundreds of dollars, like underground beaver. To add to the aggravation, when pruning in the winter, the last thing you do is cut the poor vine loose from the wire, at which point it falls over.

      Two possible, if murderous, solutions:

      Quintox, or other baits in which vitamin D is the toxin. It is much more toxic to rodents than anything else, so your dog or cat won’t be poisoned.

      There is something called a gopher gun, which injects gas and oxygen into the hole, then ignites it (timing is important), producing a hell of a bang and, occasionally, a dead gopher. At the vineyard, the guy who operated it enjoyed it a bit too much; we’d hear BANG!, and then an evil cackle.

      There may be someone in your area who is skilled at trapping them, who might be worth hiring. And occasional cats learn to catch them; a dog will mostly just make big holes.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Mark Gisleson

    Kleptocrat info helpful, sad it was framed in terms of just Putin and the Trumps.

    Does Quartz ever publish anything not fed to them by friends of the Clintons?

    And how exactly is corporations offshoring profits not an aspect of kleptocracy?

    Reply
    1. Wombat

      Ahh thank you! The first card “fabricated emergency” was quite adeptly played by the Sec of State Clinton in the real emergency of Haiti – quite the cash grab it was for her acquaintances! Of course recently we have the lesser Whitefish Energy’s (of sec interior Zinke’s acquaintance) contract for power in Puerto Rico.

      Reply
  10. Mark Gisleson

    http://www.startribune.com/police-brace-for-backlash-on-noor-decision-whatever-s-decided/463073423/

    A quick update on the Somali officer who killed the Australian woman in Minneapolis last summer.

    There has been NO local news about this for months. As I said at the time, DFLers blundered by forcing the MPD to accept refugees into a special program to make them cops. And now they can’t charge Noor without admitting he should never have been a cop. And if they don’t, his attorney will use his background to fault the police for hiring him when he clearly was not suited to the work.

    Mayor Hodges is now ex-Mayor Hodges. Officer Noor is a big reason why.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We don’t get ‘the news, the whole news, nothing but the news.’

      Sometimes, partial news or no news is all we get.

      One’s world view is not a jigsaw puzzle. With missing pieces, most of us still see a complete jigsaw puzzle. The mind fills in the empty areas.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Maybe out of say 5 or 6 news stories in my life that I had intimate details of what happened-how and why, when newspapers ruled the roost way back when, on 3 or 4 of them, the fishwraps got the story completely wrong, compared to what really went down.

        And that was when fact checking was in vogue, ha!

        Reply
  11. PlutoniumKun

    Chilling change: As Kashmir’s taste in architecture changed, its homes became colder Scroll (J-LS).

    Bent by the Sun Design Observer. 2010, still germane.

    I don’t know what the reason is, but there seems a point in a countries development when people simply abandon all notions of sensible architecture. Irish vernacular architecture was simple, but effective for centuries. Thick mud covered walls, low profiles to stay out of the wind, small well placed windows for insulation. Then that got thrown out for building on high ground, bit picture windows and paper thin walls so everyone could afford the fourth en-suite. Even as a teenager I used to look with amazement at people building houses with huge windows facing north. It defied all common sense.

    Japan I think is a slightly different case. Japanese traditional houses were always austere, but when you read early accounts people complained endlessly about how cold and draughty they were (paper walls aren’t exactly great in winter). There always seemed to be a ‘design’ element in Japanese houses that didn’t always make sense. There is a great book (more of a rant really than a book’ called Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr, which exposes the often very contradictory nature of Japanese design and philosophy, required reading I think for anyone who gets too orientalist about the glories of Japanese design culture.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In a traditional Japanese house, lots of things are not nailed down.

      One’s pillow, or writing table, for example. You put them away when not in use.

      I imagine it’s the same with cold prevention or heat retention. When in need, get more blankets and dust off the hibachi or set up a kotatsu, if not irori.

      And when the hot, humid summer comes, they are put away and the drafty house is there – no need to knock down walls.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Aren’t Japanese houses built light weight so that in the case of an earthquake, the people in the houses are only buried in houses that do not consist of stone and brick which would crush and kill them?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The seismic force exerted on a structure is proportional to its mass.

        The simplified version, without friction, is

        (Mass x deformation acceleration) + (Stiffness x structure deformation) = Mass x ground acceleration.

        For a given ground acceleration, the greater mass, the more powerful the force (Mass x ground acceleration) on the structure.

        So, ideally, the material is both lightweight and stronger (measured by a structure is stiffness).

        Tile roof on a wooden house would not be ideal.

        Reply
    3. jsn

      In the background of your subject building culture you will likely find a recent port expansion, rail link, road or treaty that integrates it with the global industrial monoculture.

      At that point your local building tradition has a massive cost delta to the newly accessible products of subsidized global monopolists/oligopolistis and the crappified products of the global monoculture quickly bankrupt local practices.

      This process continues until the initial local/ global cost delta is consumed leaving the vast majority of local producers impoverished at which point the region is absorbed into the outlying slums of its nearest megalopolis or abandoned as a sacrifice zone, depending on its geography.

      The Japanese had early experience with this when they inadvertently imported Perry’s cannon shot. They subsequently perfected the art of indirect trade barriers to preserve their civilization.

      Their traditional architecture heated the people, not the space, when it was cold, in an integrated, sustainable and elegant (even for farming peasants) building culture that integrated robust, durable and effect clay tile and thatched roofing systems with equally robust wood structures that braced themselves seismically with complex, wood moment connections rather than diagonal bracing which would have required much greater strength to resist the lateral loads of the heavy roof systems. Instead, the structures flex along their long dimension and are sized for the flexure required.

      I probably scrambled some of the structural details, memory fades, but Japan does have the best building tradition surviving at present.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, but this doesn’t explain why ordinary Japanese people were so incredibly eager to dump those architectural traditions at the very first opportunity. Do any reading of contemporary literature in Japan from the early to mid-20th Century, or cinema in the post war years, and the active dislike people had for their ‘dreary’ ‘damp’, ‘insect ridden’ ‘cold’ timber houses becomes obvious. And its not like they were replaced with high quality buildings, Most modern Japanese houses are pretty poorly designed and built. There is a huge and gaping gap between the aspirational traditions of the Japanese and the real realities of their every day architecture, both traditional and modern.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          Pre-carbon poverty always looks a lot worse than carbon fueled poverty at first, the traditional form has more grime simply because its older: polyisocyanurate insulation and an oil boiler make your whole house warm where a tea room and under-table hearth just warm you when you sit next to the heating elements, whats’ not to like while the energy seems cheap?

          What you are describing in this last comment is the effects of enclosure where a pastoral society has been forced into urbanization. This is an affect from the import of the western tech suite done by the Japanese elite to ensure they could defend their position in their civilization, over which they lorded all the typical abuses of power no doubt, by imposing the necessary costs down caste just as the European elites had done in the century before. The subject people, given a viable traditional lifestyle would no doubt have preferred it just as much as English peasants did three hundred years ago or Chinese and Indian farmers would today, were farming at that scale still allowed to be viable.

          For those displaced by this process, cheap abundant western supplied sugar tastes great even as it destroys their teeth and metabolism, just like here. The wholesale introduction of western industrial technologies that rely on economies of scale and massive fossil fuel use (once we got over our dependence on slaves) are appealing wherever they’er trotted out. They tend to be used extractively, with the exception of the New Deal era where western power actually created middle classes all over the place, until the new and more toxic fossil poverty replaces the good old fashioned sustainable poverty when elites revert to their mean.

          What’s attractive is all the burdens the western tech set relieves the newly exposed of, until a half generation later when it starts to become apparent it also relieves them of the means of subsistence outside neoliberal markets, by which time its too late. In sustainable poverty, life was hard but with effort you could at least keep yourself alive for a respectable span of years. With fossil poverty, one has no choice but to rely on charity. Looking at who does the labor at Fukushima, charity hasn’t really worked out particularly well at poverty amelioration in Japan either.

          Vernacular building cultures are embedded in a civilization. Invasive new tech suites, with their short term allures, disrupt these traditions, frequently monetizing the long term value out of them. This is a central aspect of the expansion of monetization across a society: it monetizes formerly organic functions and in so doing externalizes all the costs of non-sustainablity that were integrated in the premarket traditions. Humans aren’t lazy, they’re resource efficient, like all other evolved things. When a labor saving device or new level of comfort is offered without any identification or pricing of externalized costs, of course everyone gets on board, particularly when their in the process of having their means of subsistence deliberately degraded by competing elites.

          Reply
  12. QC

    RE: Boston. Racism. Image. Reality: The Spotlight team takes on our hardest question Boston Globe

    There’s something very wrong with the graph, “Racial makeup of 10 largest metro areas, by percent”. The “white” column shows up in both of my browsers as too long by at around 20%, just look at “New York” or “Atlanta” at 49% whiteness it should cut off whites near the middle of the bar, but it isn’t.

    The impression is that all these cities are even less diverse than they actually have become. Even after that Boston’s still an outlier, but still… can someone compose this graph correctly?

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not sure about the graph, but this is interesting:

      For example, when a prospective tenant using the name Allison Wolf asked about renting a two-bedroom condo in Boston’s Back Bay, the landlord responded later that day. “It’s available,” she e-mailed back. “You can see it on Sunday.” But when a prospective tenant asked about that same apartment the same morning using the name Tamika Rivers, the landlord never replied.

      Are those names disadvantageous?

      If so, is it a case of pride, defiance to give such names, even if the names set them back?

      In contrast, many immigrants from non-English speaking countries gladly give up their native names for something more hegemonic.

      “Hi, my name is Scarlet and I am from…”

      Not too many change to Tamika.

      Couldn’t be ‘what is in a name,’ or getting dates.

      Reply
  13. Matt

    That Mint Press article really moves heaven and earth to distract from the fact that it was Germany and Japan that declared war on the U.S., not the other way around. Critiquing U.S. militarism is a great idea, but I wonder if this is the best way to do it.

    Particularly bizarre is how the author implicitly blames the United States, rather than Germany, for the Holocaust by “escalating” the war. The U.S., rather, should have “done nothing, attempted diplomacy, or invested in nonviolence.” I imagine this same author, had the U.S. continued to trade with Japan and ship them oil, would have railed against how U.S. capitalism supported the brutal occupation of China and the killing of millions of Chinese.

    “Hitler killed millions of Germans, but the allies killed as many or more, Germans ordered into battle by Hitler or Germans in the wrong place when allied bombs fell.”

    I wonder if the author knows this is the exact comparison that modern neo-Nazis make.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      The Holocaust was underway long before the US got into the war. Concentration camp construction started shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933.

      Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      I too found the article to be revisionist, and while the main point they were trying to make-being that yes, we did know about the pending Pearl Harbor attack, in that our most important capital ships-aircraft carriers, were conveniently missing on that day of infamy-was correct, but to go into holocaust blaming as far as the US is concerned, was a bit much.

      Reply
    3. ambrit

      I too found the article somewhat confusing until I considered it as an absolutist pacifist document. Then it made sense. The debate over “just” wars goes way back. I believe even such worthies as Saint Augustine considered the subject.
      It is one of those subjects where there is no simple solution. Absolutism is a sure recipe for disaster.

      Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      World War II was a total war.

      The economic phase of the war preceded the military phase.

      It could be it was a just war on a nation’s part, even with that nation being to first to initiate whatever phase of the war.

      So, a separate question is, who started the war (including the economic phase or other phases)?

      Reply
    5. David

      The article is almost too incoherent to be worth commenting on, but for what it’s worth:
      (1) Pearl Harbour was the result of a colossal strategic miscalculation, not a conspiracy. The US did not believe the Japanese had the technical capability to attack PH, and assumed that anyway they would never attack a much larger and more powerful country. They were nearly right on the first, but hopelessly underestimated how desperate the Japanese were, with an economy that was collapsing from sanctions. (2) Churchill was keen to get the US into the war against Germany, not to start a war against Japan. The naval base at Singapore was known to be indefensible from the land. Roosevelt did everything he could to help the UK short of war, and then, of course, Hitler obligingly provided the war. (3) The Nazis set up concentration camps for their political opponents after 1933 in Germany, but did not start their war of extermination until the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 (though there had been large-scale massacres of Communists and Jews in Poland). There was no connection between the massacre of millions of Polish and Russian Jews and the entry of the US into the war. German war plans always foresaw the mass extermination of civilians (some 30-40 million apparently) to make room for the German conquerers.
      Frankly …..

      Reply
    6. Eclair

      I have lately found it ironic that our remaining ‘just’ war was ‘started’ by an attack on an isolated outpost in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles from the mainland U.S. An outpost on a former sovereign nation, moreover, that the U.S. government, or a group of U.S. businessmen (same thing?) had seized by force. Sigh.

      The article was interesting, if a bit long and disjointed in places. But, then, so is history. And, so unfair, trying to rip away from us our last remaining opportunity to view the U.S. as a bastion of democracy, peace, brotherhood and home to aw-shucks G.I.’s who handed out chocolates to starving urchins and who never tortured captives.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        I”m not sure who you’re replying to, but my criticism focused on its blatant historical revisionism, nothing to do with destroying fantasies about “the U.S. as a bastion of democracy, peace, brotherhood.”

        Reply
      1. Vatch

        Yes, thank you. I searched in vain for a mention of what the Japanese did in Nanjing in 1937 and 1938. Also, Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931 provided Hitler and Mussolini with a stark precedent on what the League of Nations would do to them if they started a war: nothing.

        Reply
      2. Harold

        +++ This.
        The U.S. was eager to help China and covertly sold Russia airplanes to aid in its fight with Japan if I remember correctly. There is something about this here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tigers

        It is not covered in the wikipedia article but it is my impression that intimations of this seems to have upset some of our domestic foes of of the Soviet Union, causing them to view the State Department with suspicion.

        Reply
    7. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall reading in a few of Kevin Phillips books about American investment in Nazi Germany — I believe his book the “American Dynasty” about the Bush family contained the most details of American Banking and Corporate involvement building the German war machine. I don’t know and haven’t studied enough of the history of those times and continue to learn about “facts” in common knowledge about World War II that are constructs to serve certain interests … not our interests. The more I learn the more I become impressed by the ease with which the French government and French ‘Elite’ accommodated Nazi rule. And in our own country — how many in our government and ‘Elite’ class might have similarly accommodated Nazi rule? And what of after World War II? Doesn’t it seem odd how so many of the Corporations and their owners, and the “Elite” who lead their countries into war, who backed the build up to war — survived and thrived before, during, and after the war.

      Even an emphasis on the Holocaust becomes suspect to me. I look on the activities of the Jews in taking and holding land for Israel and then I recall the great numbers of other peoples the Germans murdered in their zeal pushing an insane eugenics program. The Holocaust should not be forgotten but its memory should not obscure memory of the full horrors of the eugenics programs the Nazis planned, executed, and evolved — and not just for the Jews.

      Echoing David’s comment above — recalling how Japan attacked and declared war on the U.S. followed soon after by Germany’s declaration of war on the US — have you considered the context of those declarations of war? The U.S. was the source for much of the petroleum which fueled the Japanese economy and war machine. The US placed an embargo on sales to Japan — cutting off their petroleum supplies. Germany’s declaration of war was a piece of luck for Roosevelt given his desire to join the war in Europe as the prospects for a German victory over Russia loomed.

      But it’s hard to play Monday morning quarterback in the Great Game that lead to and evolved from World War II — so many of the “facts” we were told and are told are simply untrue.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        “Echoing David’s comment above — recalling how Japan attacked and declared war on the U.S. followed soon after by Germany’s declaration of war on the US — have you considered the context of those declarations of war? The U.S. was the source for much of the petroleum which fueled the Japanese economy and war machine. The US placed an embargo on sales to Japan — cutting off their petroleum supplies. Germany’s declaration of war was a piece of luck for Roosevelt given his desire to join the war in Europe as the prospects for a German victory over Russia loomed.”

        Yes, the embargo was clearly a provocative act. Given what the empire building and mass killing that Japan was undertaking, it was also clearly an appropriate action. To me, the fact that the U.S. didn’t do it for humanitarian reasons doesn’t change that fact.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I think you read more into my comment than is there. I don’t blame the US for its actions in provoking the Japanese. As for humanitarian actions motivating US policy decisions I never shared any of the link author’s illusions as to why states act or should act as they do. I fully agree with your assertion the link’s mode of critique of US militarism is weak and I would add it speaks to no belief or sentiment alive in the bosoms of those who rule us. I do however question the moral high ground I thought implicit in a US response to an attack — as opposed to a US initiated attack — which I read into your comment. I would fault US policy not on its amorality but on its poverty as statecraft.

          Reply
    1. Charlie

      Excerpt:
      “Genuine revolutions are not launched by the New York Times, backed by the Democratic Party, and honored by Time magazine. Nor do they legitimize the suppression of core democratic rights.”

      While many of these takedowns are more than likely legitimate, North’s main thesis is correct.

      Reply
    2. jrs

      another article with people utterly ignorant of sexual harassment law spewing their utter ignorance for all to see. It’s not about asking for a date. Now it’s true that what is going on in politics now is NOT sexual harassment law as applied to a workplace (which of course is what affects more people directly). But to pretend no clear standards exist for sexual harassment is just either ignorant, or willfully dishonest.

      Reply
      1. Charlie

        The author’s premise is that sexual harrassment does have clear standards, however, those standards are being diluted both as a means of distraction from economic issues and as a power grab by the upper crust.

        That’s fairly easy to see here.

        Reply
    3. WheresOurTeddy

      I normally enjoy WSWS, and agree with their sentiments on many topics.

      However, I am the only member of my family to escape a cult. I was born in the darkness and had to crawl to the light, with very real monsters trying to pull me back the entire time. I know people whose lives have been destroyed, people who have taken their own lives, and their assaulters walk free.

      It is in that context that I present my counterpoint to the WSWS article:

      All Rapists Must Burn.

      Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Years ago I was reading how some extremist feminist wanted the law changed to bring in the idea of retrospective rape. What that means is suppose a woman slept with a guy and even did all the initiating, then six months later if she suddenly decided that at that period of her life she was not making the right decisions and would not have made the same decision, then she could have the guy charged with rape based on her present outlook.

          Reply
          1. Charlie

            That kind of crap is why I have largely stayed away from college educated women over my life’s course. Say what you will about less educated women, but they do tend to be more honest in their communications and intentions.

            Plus, quite a few of us fathers, brothers, and sons in the working classes present harsher penalties for those who believe they can get away with sexual crimes against our mothers, sisters, and daughters.

            Hence, the fear seen from the upper classes.

            Reply
    1. WheresOurTeddy

      One is reminded of that adage about Parker Brothers’ “Monopoly”:

      You know it’s an old game because there’s a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

      Reply
  14. Edward

    “Graphic video shows Daniel Shaver sobbing and begging officer for his life before 2016 shooting ”

    If you beg for your life, does it become more rather then less likely that the police will shoot you?

    Reply
        1. Vatch

          This is one of the issues where the policies of Eric Holder were superior to those of Jeff Sessions. Holder cut back on civil asset forfeiture, but Sessions has restored the practice. When someone’s policies are even worse than Eric Place Holder’s, that’s significant.

          Reply
        2. Edward

          This state of affairs probably reflects the political power of police unions.

          Years ago FAIR did a study of “Cops”. The show was whitewashing bad police conduct.

          Reply
          1. Oregoncharles

            Actually, we saw one episode (about the only one we’ve seen) which showed an Indiana cop making a patently illegal search – then suddenly remembering the camera and trying to create a legal excuse. I hope the victim’s lawyer had access to that tape.

            Reply
    1. JBird

      I do not understand how the jury could not have convicted the officer of a least manslaughter, but then I do not understand why the police were unreasonable callous because it was pretty damn obvious the victim was unarmed, and fearful, and obeying orders.

      I hope the widow files a civil suit that bankrupts the department.

      Reply
      1. Edward

        Another thing I don’t understand is how in some situations there is great permissiveness about gun use with “Stand Your Ground” laws while in other cases the police execute someone they think might have a gun. Is there a contradiction?

        Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    On the first day of Christmas
    The 1% sent to me
    Lessened Social Security

    On the second day of Christmas
    The 1% sent to me
    Two chicken hawks
    And lessened Social Security

    On the third day of Christmas
    The 1% sent to me
    Three card monte
    Two chicken hawks
    And lessened Social Security

    On the fourth day of Christmas
    The 1% sent to me
    Four galling words
    Three card monte
    Two chicken hawks
    And lessened Social Security

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Yeah, me too. My payment went up but the premium on my Medicare went up more. I think the slight increase in my Social Security tipped me over the income point where you have to pay a higher premium. Cool trick: pay me less by paying me more. What a system!

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      On the fifth day of Christmas
      The 1% sent to me
      Five crooked deals!
      Four galling words
      Three card monte
      Two chicken hawks
      And lessened Social Security!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        On the sixth day of Christmas
        The 1% sent to me
        Six layers of obfuscation
        Five crooked deals
        Four galling words
        Three card monte
        Two chicken hawks
        And lessened Social Security

        Reply
      2. WheresOurTeddy

        On the sixth day of Christmas
        The 1% sent to me
        Six spooks-a-sourcing (anonymously)
        Five crooked deals!
        Four galling words
        Three card monte
        Two chicken hawks
        And lessened Social Security!

        Reply
  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How the mass eviction of migrant workers has left Beijing reeling SCMP

    An preceding problem is that there is only one capital in China.

    For example, there were four capitals during the Northern Song dynasty.

    Perhaps it’s time to have a second capital in Xian, if nothing, to emphasis the New Silk Road, and a third in Nanjing, maybe a fourth in Guangdong.

    Reply
  17. Lee

    Some of my comments are doing some serious time in moderation. I’m sure it has nothing to do with meaning and everything to do with a couple of words that only an algorithm could find problematic. I’m not blaming the humans who run the site, and assume it’s a cost issue. Resource limitations are a female dog.

    Reply
    1. blennylips

      It’s random: the modmachine is waiting for superstitions to develop.

      https://io9.gizmodo.com/5746904/how-pigeons-get-to-be-superstitious

      In one particular case, Skinner decided to go random on his hungry pigeons. He dropped food into the box at completely random times, independent of any behavior on the part of the pigeons. But the behavior of the pigeons, he found, didn’t stay random. After a few drops of the food, the pigeons began exhibiting certain consistent behavior. One circled counter-clockwise, another spun around in circles; seventy-five percent of them exhibited some kind of odd behavior.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        So pigeons can develop Cargo Cult behavior? Who knew?

        “Every time the food drops, its because I am spinning in circles! I should spin in circles whenever I’m hungry! And if the food doesn’t drop, its because I’m not spinning in circles HARD enough!”

        Reply
  18. Vatch

    Vegetarian sausages found to be just as unhealthy as meat sausages Metro.

    The article is almost entirely about sodium content, rather than lipids. This is most of what the article says about lipids:

    Some 85 per cent of meat sausages surveyed by Cash were also high in saturates. Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Toulouse Inspired British Pork Sausages contained 12.2g of saturated fat per two sausages, more than half the recommended daily maximum intake of saturated fat for women.

    Since there is no comparison between the meat sausages and the vegetarian sausages, this isn’t very useful. The meat sausages could be even higher than this, but the article doesn’t provide us with information about this. I’ve never seen any of these brands in the U.S. where I’ve used the Tofurky and Lightlife vegetarian Italian sausages. Whether I’m getting less saturated fat is uncertain, but at least I’m not supporting factory farms when I eat the veggie sausages.

    Reply
  19. XXYY

    Vegetarian sausages found to be just as unhealthy as meat sausages

    Um, the bad thing about meat sausage is not the salt, it’s the ground up dead pig flesh. Horrible for you, horrible for the pig, and horrible for the environment around the CAFO where millions of pigs emit untreated sewage into the streams and rivers.

    Don’t worry about the salt, for God’s sake.

    Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        My son was told to eat MORE salt because his blood pressure was too low (we cook with very little salt, and all have fairly low blood pressure).

        To elaborate: salt causes high blood pressure because of a (genetic, I think) fault in metabolism – either failing to excrete the excess, or a fault in pressure regulation. It’s fairly common, but not normal. If you don’t have that problem, taste can be your guide.

        Besides which, sodium is an essential nutrient; if you truly avoided it, you’d have major health problems. But there’s usually plenty in food.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I happen to have had low blood pressure all my life (now at 60 even eating a lot of salt, it is normal, which freaks me out, because my blood pressure readings are high relative to the sort of numbers I have heard all my life). Your point re regulation is interesting, that salt making blood pressure higher may be more a function of a deficiency than an outcome for the public at large

          I have a friend who had chronic fatigue, and she was told to eat more salt, since for some people with chronic fatigue, it alleviates their symptoms.

          Reply
          1. el_tel

            Anyone on lithium (at least, in its carbonate form – I know Sweden and Finland use the sulphate form) is warned off low-sodium diets. I assume that being in the same group in the periodic table has something to do with this…. lithium displaces sodium from the body. So if your lithium level is genetically “naturally” high then you’ve more scope to ingest sodium.

            Reply
  20. Kim Kaufman

    “The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept. And with media debacles, it’s a crowded field. Greenwald at his best; must-read.”

    From Marcy Wheeler on Twitter:

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel Dec 9
    emptywheel Retweeted Glenn Greenwald

    Not only is this hyperbole (“most humiliating in ages”? hardly!), but it gets the circumstances of what got provided wrong (WikiLeaks didn’t publish these files).

    Glenn GreenwaldVerified account @ggreenwald

    The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened https://theintercept.com/2017/12/09/the-u-s-media-yesterday-suffered-its-most-humiliating-debacle-in-ages-now-refuses-all-transparency-over-what-happened/

    Reply
    1. Filiform Radical

      Greenwald never claims that WikiLeaks published the files. The closest thing to it is “WikiLeaks had already published access to the DNC emails online” (emphasis mine), which is a different claim that also happens to be true (WikiLeaks did tweet the password and other details necessary to access the information). Possibly it could have been phrased better, but what of it? The actual substance of the article stands.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > hyperbole

      I’m not sure I agree with Wheeler. If we think of outcomes, Judy Miller’s WMD coverage was surely worse.

      If we think of systems, a comparable example would be the WMD coverage generally in the run-up to the Iraq War, with a whack-a-mole style series of ever-shifting rationalizations (driven, as we learned later, by the White House Iraq Group planting stories in the press to foment the Iraq war).

      The system for “Russia! Russia!” has the ever-shifting rationalizations (“puppet” to “interference” to “meddling” to “collusion” to whatever increasingly weaker catchphrase appears next). But the stories aren’t being planted by the White House; they’re being planted by a cabal with “intelligence community” backing. That accounts for the same lie being told by multiple sources; they’d coordinated their stories. Now, the motives of that cabal seem to be mixed; they include IMNSHO defending the Clinton faction in the Democrat Party from responsibility for their loss in 2016, the desire for war with Russia, removing Trump from office as corrupt and/or unfit, and — who knows? — may even include genuine moral outrage or patriotism.

      But if you forget about outcomes (and we don’t know the outcomes of the current battle in any case) and look how the story is playing out institutionally, it’s hard to see “in ages” (Iraq WMDs were in 2003, 14 years ago) as being either hyperbole or at all unfair.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        One difference is that Judy Miller ran a bunch of horrible propaganda stories. This was a single huge blooper. Can you recall a particular Miller story? I can’t but then again I was in Oz then.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The aluminum tubes story. Not all the WHIG stories were planted with Miller.

          It is true the CNN debacle was just one story. However, this one was checkable via the email (not sure how that happened). There are many other stories, anonymously sourced and not checkable, with the same “signature,” as it were.

          Reply
  21. DJG

    Ascendency of Identity Politics in Literary Writing.

    To me, this is the central idea, buried way down in post-modernly numbered paragraph 10015585:
    [So the ideal of literature has become the articulation of intersectionality. Intersectionality is a form of constrained first-person narrative, or, at best, limited third-person; it is not an omniscient Bakhtinian dialogical utopia updated for the twenty-first century, where different voices find equal play in the burgeoning text. In defiance of conventional fictional strategy, the intersectionalist novelist must write from a defined position within the fixed range of possibilities. One is not simply an author in the abstract, one cannot write anonymously, so to speak (note that “Elena Ferrante” had to be denied the privilege of writing behind a screen); one must write as an articulator of “objective” intersectionalities, building an inside and outside world, an authenticity (of the self) and an incomprehensibility (of the other), and let the narrative play out within those dimensions alone. It is a radically new way of conceiving how and why one writes and publishes.]

    The most negative reading is that this is literature as agitprop. A more benevolent, but dire, reading is that literature now reflects thin personalities that lack character and must cling to pre-determined identities (which they use as a form of self-creation and self-congratulation).

    One symptom is mentioned in the article: An excess of memoir. And memoir has become the preferred starting point for other genres.

    Not mentioned, the effect of memoir on poetry: There is much poetry these days that doesn’t seem able to observe anything outside the wonders of the self. Further, much poetry these days is now in the form of jumpy prose with line breaks. The really cool poets put in ampersands. The poetry in the New Yorker, for these reasons, varies from the excruciating to the unreadable.

    Another symptom is the current excess of musicals. The musical genre is now dogmatically Sondheimian: Nineteen songs in the first act, and fourteen songs in the second act. It is a reliable product offering no insights, down to the obligatory standing O by the audience at the end.

    But the tell may be Junot Diaz, who isn’t as talented as he thinks he is: That bit about not having “writers of color” nominated for book awards.

    Ahhhhh, money. I thought I smelled money somewhere.

    The article is worth a look if anyone is wondering why so many novels by U.S. writers these days are so boring (and have footnotes!). For all of the skepticism of the author of the article about Orhan Pamuk, Pamuk at least can tell a story. Ironically, he was better at it when he was younger. The Museum of Innocence shows too many of the symptoms mentioned in the article.

    Typically, the article considers the last 20 years or so to be the only time period worthy of study: I suppose that Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein, who “wrote against type,” would blow out the circuits.

    Reply
    1. mle detroit

      @DJG
      December 10, 2017 at 2:47 pm
      Ascendency of Identity Politics in Literary Writing

      About New Yorker poetry, I read them all to see which one is the Conde Nast “GoFundMe” poem, i.e. by a famous elder known to have a terminal illness.

      About the Sondheim predictable pattern: before that, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and before that, G&S. Successful formulas make successful careers.

      This [Section 53] does describe the last week among Congressional Democrats and Republicans:

      A valid point raised by such scholars as Charles Derber, in Morality Wars: How Empires, the Born-Again, and the Politically Correct Do Evil in the Name of Good (Paradigm, 2008), is that liberal political correctness emanates from a vacuum of political power, because as a powerless person you are free to be as culturally radical as you wish. But the more interesting question is whether this is a permanent choice—in other words, whether it is safer, or even more desirable, to handle PC radicalism, as opposed to making demands in the economic sphere.

      The whole long, dense article is worth re-reading and marking up. I’m saving it for downtime during the holidays.

      Reply
      1. David

        All powerlessness corrupts, and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely. Weak people are often more vindictive than strong people.
        Many decades ago I decided to leave academia after witnessing two Professors of different disciplines fighting viciously over the ownership of a waste-paper basket in the corridor.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > All powerlessness corrupts, and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.

          Slave societies, or former slave societies, or societies that are slavish, have problems with this, both masters and slaves.

          Reply
    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      +100 on the article, long and dense but seminal.

      Yes it’s about the money, if a single black gay mother of two living in the Blue Zone ever figures out she has 100% alignment of her economic interests with an unemployed white male redneck living in the Red Zone, the 1% will be well and truly screwed.

      Buy into the shrieking hysteria of identity politics and you are playing right straight into their hands.

      Reply
      1. marym

        Or if an unemployed white male redneck ever figures out he has 100% alignment of his economic interests with a single black gay mother of two.

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          Yes! Whichever way around you put it, the hallucination that one of those interests must somehow compete with the other = assured disaster. As things stand it’s the “single black gay mother of two” (there are double mothers? nevermind) whose claim to working class “identity” is incessantly questioned. Common ground is: recognition by both that an impossible situation is not the individual’s “own fault”.

          Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      This ‘identity politics’ business lead me to look for reading choices for my children among the runner-up books for various book awards and librarian accolades. If I may — I really really enjoyed “Enchantress from the Stars” by Sylvia Engdahl. [The hardback edition is quite beautiful to hold and look upon.] I continue to hope some independent film company might turn it into a movie AND a low budget movie which focuses on story and character NOT special effects and CGI.

      Reply
    4. Plenue

      To be honest my eyes glazed over and this mostly came across as gibberish. But this from early on in the article:

      “Abdel-Magied turns the crux of Shriver’s argument against her when she observes that Shriver has the arrogance to claim that fiction should be able to “exploit” other cultures if it is to do its rightful job. That is precisely what constitutes, to Abdel-Magied, the most offensive aspect of fiction: that it arrogates to itself the right to imaginatively enter—and thereby “exploit”—any realm of existence.”

      I would love, love, to be rich and comfortable enough that I could spend my days arguing metaphysical nonsense like this. Out here in the real world people are dealing with real exploitation that actually matters and affects them.

      Reply
        1. Plenue

          My point is that this debate doesn’t matter. Even if one side is correct it’s irrelevant. It’s doubtful it will change anything within literature writing, and it certainly will have exactly zero impact on the majority of people out in the real world. It’s just another example of insular academic ivory tower nonsense. I for one would love to be in a position where I could make money engaging in such a debate.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            To quote Keynes:

            “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

            Reply
  22. JIm

    What kind of political assertion/ social action or political insurgency brings about meaningful change?

    In late 2017 Kelton states in her interview with n+1 that: “You better sweep the House, you better take back the Senate and take back the White House in 2020, and hold your resistance at a very high level. I mean, people have to be prepared to stand up and fight back… But at the national level it’s going to be very difficult if 2018 comes to pass and the Republicans still have the Senate, the House and of course the White House.”

    An alternative form of human possibility in the 1880s and 1890s was the agrarian movement that emerged from a well-organized base of production and marketing cooperatives that extended to 40 states, connecting over 2 million recruits. A Populist platform then evolved out of the concrete political lessons gradually learned from direct experience in building marketing and purchasing cooperatives while in direct economic struggles with railroads, banks, and supply houses.

    Today apparently only victory through traditional electoral politics is the most that we can hope for.

    How sad.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Actually, todays’ entrepreneurs value ‘disruption’ as a means of gaining power.
      So, transpose business values to politics, as the present Administration is doing. Disrupt everything in sight and then pick up the pieces.
      Something like having gridlock on the highway while a group of ‘activists’ goes around slashing tyres.

      Reply
  23. tooearly

    “The “Me Too” campaign is reactionary to the core. It has no progressive content. There are many forms of sexual harassment, which extend from the annoying to the legally actionable to the outright criminal. But a vast range of activities, including many that reflect the ambiguities and complexities of human interactions, is being described as malevolent and even criminal.”

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/09/pers-d09.html

    Sounds about right

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      i didn’t read your link but agree with the quote you singled out. I reached a point at work where I was extremely reluctant to show any interest in even those females I found most attractive and who expressed interest in me through back channels. [One sometimes populates my regrets as I age.] Our mating rituals have become poisonous for both male and female.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      It’s a sudden rebirth of Puritanism, a monster that always lurks beneath American waters.

      Puritanism is no friend to women. They always suffer the most from it.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        Puritanism is sorely misrepresented.

        Puritans believe in having great sex, but only in the context of marriage. They were highly as we would call it now, sex positive.

        And why is that anti-female? Women are not to be abused. And sex is actually SUPPOSED to be pleasurable. Puritans wanted both partners to have a good time.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Something I missed from American history. It challenges a lot of mythology (but I believe it.)

          In that case, we need a different term for anti-sexuality, which historically falls much more heavily on women. Victorianism might be better. that was clearly repressive – as well as more recent.

          To be clear: this is not an easy social passage. We have both a very real problem, and a strong tendency to react in self-defeating ways. How long has it been since the Harvey Weinstein disclosures?

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            It’s not in American history (can you imagine telling kids the Puritans were into sex?). I read it a few years back in a very good scholarly article on how the Puritans had been maligned. They were very much into fidelity, but they thought the route to that was great marital sex. But I doubt they had Puritan mothers giving their daughters Karma Sutra type manuals, so without some sort of technical or philosophical instruction (“let your partner tell you what feels good, don’t assume”), there was likely a big gap between theory and practice.

            Reply
        2. Quentin

          Of course women shouldn’t be abused. Men neither, but then that’s not what we’re talking about. What is your take on the Puritans’ attitude towards sex based on? I assumed differently, evidently incorrectly. Procreation rules inevitably, pleasure or otherwise, by hook or by crook.

          Reply
  24. fresno dan

    http://patterico.com/2017

    1) I believe this was an avoidable tragedy.
    2) The police officer’s instructions were absurd and contradictory.
    3) The video is infuriating because much of the time it’s impossible to guess what the cop actually wanted Shaver to do.
    4) Shaver’s reaching for his waist was a fatal mistake.
    5) The cop who shot Shaver was probably really scared.
    6) Whether this shooting was criminal or justified is a decision for a jury that has all the evidence. You can’t make up your mind based on this single video. You need more facts.

    ==============================================================
    I disagree that more facts provides any, or more, justification. Indeed, I did not first know that there were TWO police on the scene initially – in my view that provides more evidence for police ineptness. As for the contention that there may have been someone in the hotel room with a rifle, it is just as easy to speculate that someone with a rifle left the room and was either in another room, in a broom closet, in a hallway BEHIND the police. Carte blanche for police to blast away by potential gun toting assailants (and remember, this is America, land of the armed) is, as this incident reveals, carte blanche to fire at will.
    And being “really scared” is not germane to the discussion – if you can’t remain professional under trying circumstances, than your not suited to the job.

    My view is that the salient points are that an INNOCENT, UNARMED man was shot dead because of unprofessional/illtrained and maybe simply not too bright police.

    Reply
    1. blennylips

      Lead exposure is know to decrease intelligence and increase aggression. As a Seattle Times investigation, “Loaded with lead” says

      Lead poisoning is a major threat at America’s shooting ranges, perpetuated by owners who’ve repeatedly violated laws even after workers have fallen painfully ill.

      I believe Yves recently reminded us that an earlier decrease in violent crime was largely due to getting the lead out of gasoline.

      Lowest hanging fruit, biggest bang for the buck — lets get the lead out, people. Though that sounds rather lame given the scale of the problem…

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe the police might be wise to remember how people respond when they believe they have no option for surrender. What the police are doing is escalating an already very dangerous situation for ALL parties — police and pursued.

      Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    The Thomas conflagration is already in the top 10 of all wildfires ever in California historically, with just 15% containment.

    It might be the largest one ever by the time the cinder-ella story flames out…

    Welcome to the new normal, that is climate change.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      just read something about strong winds re-energizing those fires (though it’s calm in my part of Southern California).

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I was soaking for a few hours last month @ Saline hot springs with a division commander for large blazes, and asked him what would happen if a terrorist with 25 road flares, a full tank of gas, a car, and determination decided to drive around the state?

        He told me that firefighters would simply be overwhelmed by so many fires @ once, and it would boil down to which ones to combat.

        This one seems to almost fit the pattern, with fires in so many disparate locales.

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Interesting how there has been scant news about trees not being trimmed as the culprit in this series of fires, compared to the wine country conflagrations.

            Reply
        1. anonymous

          this series of fires fits the arson, if not terrorism, pattern

          global climate change certainly caused the massive multi-year California drought that only ended last year and established the conditions for the fires, but it’s highly suspicious that so many have broken out in such a short span of days

          Reply
    2. allan

      As California burns, Congress plans to slash tax write-offs for fires and other disasters [LA Times]

      As California burns, Congress is planning to limit taxpayers’ ability to write off losses from future wildfires and other disasters.

      The disaster write-off is one of the many little-known deductions set to be mostly wiped out in the GOP tax plan, but it’s getting fresh attention because of the fires that have devastated parts of Southern California over the last week.

      The House tax bill entirely eliminates the deduction that allows people to claim uninsured losses after all types of disasters; the Senate version allows people to take the deduction only if the president declares a federal disaster. …

      Giving new meaning to You’re fired!

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thing is, should we be, in effect, subsidizing housing built where it’s likely to burn down? Granted, we do that for housing that’s likely to be submerged in floods or when the oceans rise, but two wrongs don’t make a right…

        Reply
        1. UserFriendly

          How many of those home owners were the builders? If bought they probably just bought what they could afford and may not have been aware of the fire risk.

          Reply
  26. Daryl

    > U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World

    There’s two ways you could read this. The intended way, i.e. a large military force is needed to deal with a dangerous world. Or you could read it as a large US military force continuing to make the world dangerous.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I read it as a demand for even more money for the Pentagon. I think that a figure of 20-40 billion dollars was tossed around. Reducing only some of the wastage in the Pentagon would easily fund that but who would you get to decide what is waste or not? Personally, I would cut the F-35 and there is a trillion dollars right there that could be saved but there would be a lot of sad faces at the Pentagon if this happened.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      At this point might we all — rest of the world included — be better off if we started paying the MIC — like we pay the Agriculture Cartels — NOT to produce — NOT to conflict?

      Reply
  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bots and the Chinese Room.

    Cognitive rot and the Steele dossier.

    If those with cognitive rot here, with respect the dossier, are locked inside the Chinese Room, can any ‘thinking’ humans not regard them as faling the AI test?

    “How do we know they are actually thinking, and not repeating something mindlessly?”

    Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    Interesting article from Germany…

    Handlesblatt proposes the next financial downfall will come when blue chip stocks come undone, on account of the various companies buying back so much of their stock, that they won’t be able to handle the downturn~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Boeing: Because of stock repurchases of $42 billion, Boeing has a book net worth of about zero and a tangible net worth of negative $6.8 billion. This is a highly cyclical business, with massive capital investment requirements for each new aircraft; Boeing is surely in trouble in the next downturn.

    General Electric: GE has repurchased $85 billion of its stock, very foolishly as its stock price has now dropped sharply, but it has also made numerous overpriced acquisitions, with goodwill and intangibles of $108 billion. Its book net worth is still positive, but its tangible net worth is negative $32 billion. Its engineering businesses are mostly highly cyclical; trouble looms in a downturn.

    HP: The printers and PC part of Hewlett-Packard (the services bit is not quite so bad) as a net worth of negative $4 billion, or tangible net worth of negative $10 billion. It’s a highly cyclical business, surely toast in a downturn.

    AT&T: This is mostly a problem of overpriced acquisitions, and if the Time Warner deal goes through, this problem will become much worse. Its net worth is positive, but tangible net worth is negative $97 billion because of an astounding $222 billion of intangibles and goodwill.

    Verizon Communications: Mostly acquisitions are to blame, but $128 billion of goodwill makes its modest net worth (less than 20 percent of debt) negative $102 billion. Surely a problem, given its huge leverage.

    https://global.handelsblatt.com/opinion/when-blue-chips-fall-like-dominoes-861657

    Reply
    1. Summer

      A lot of the Fortune 500 companies are defense contractors.
      That makes the options different from what happened with the housing crash.

      Reply
  29. Heidi's master

    As to the article about the number of women in tech and sexual harassment, I often wonder why we see such concern about the number of women in tech. Why don’t we see more articles concerned about the number of women in the trades. If women are really concerned about gender equality they should complain that there are scant numbers of female plumbers, electricians, garbage collectors, etc.

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      For that matter, why are we lamenting a lack of anyone in tech? The world needs a lot less Silicon Valley types; they aren’t making the world a better place. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Give them credit: they’ve been pretty intelligent about which male roles they want to adopt. Plumbers do make astonishing amounts of money, though. As they should, I guess.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        The present business paradigm insures that Plumbing Shop Owners make tons of money. The actual workers, not nearly so much.
        And, to show my Paternalist A– a bit, (a Southern admonition indicating that one is being stupid is “Your a– is showing,”) the opposite side of that coin is that nurturing jobs, such as child rearing, homemaking, educating etc. are not nearly valued enough.

        Reply
  30. Massinissa

    http://www.newsweek.com/alabama-un-poverty-environmental-racism-743601 Alabama Has The Worst Poverty In The Developed World, U.N. Official Says

    “U.N. officials touring rural Alabama are shocked at the level of poverty and environmental degradation”

    IMO, they should tour ALL of rural Appalachia. They can probably find worse condiditions in other parts of Appalachia like Mississippi and west Virginia. Whole swathes of Appalachia are like this, but no one talks about it, not even over here. All this poverty treated like it doesn’t exist. Out of sight out of mind.

    Reply

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