Links 12/16/17

A hot attraction among Boston’s many: obese squirrels Boston Globe (furzy)

Holy cow! ‘Stormy’ the cow makes a break from live nativity BBC

Yacob and Amo: Africa’s precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant Aeon (Chuck L)

Indonesian island found to be unusually rich in cave paintings PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Marshall Islands: Concrete dome holding nuclear waste could leak New Zealand Herald

Engineers develop floating solar fuels rig for seawater electrolysis PhysOrg. Chuck L: “Could be a game-changer for the hydrogen economy.”

Have we just achieved the moon landing moment of quantum computing? Silicon Republic

Nigerian man pleads guilty to taking part in global email scams Reuters. EM:

You kinda have to admire the ingenuity of these guys, and the irony of one of the wire-transfer-fraud victims being a Wall Street firm, given that collectively the Wall Street iBanks are far and away the largest fraud ring in the world, under cover of their TBTF legal immunity. Oh, you fraudulently securitized a trillion dollars’ worth of junk mortgages and sold them to unwitting investors around the world, helping to blow up the global financial system when the magnitude of the scam and the leveraged greed became too large to sustain? Here’s a bunch of bailout money for you, for a job well done.

What Can AI Experts Learn from Buddhism? A New Approach to Machine-Learning Ethics Aims to Find Out MIT Technology Review. I am waiting for the Butlerian jihad.


Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’ Financial Times (J-LS)

President Moon’s China state visit spirals into PR disaster Asia Times

North Korea

North Korea Is Not Just a Nuclear Problem but Also a Complex Security Challenge The Wire (J-LS)


December 15 Guidelines European Council (Carolyn F). Need to check, but the language regarding honoring the first phase commitments appears to have been toughened up a tad.

Brexit is going to get harder, EU leaders warn Theresa May, as new demands enrage Eurosceptics Independent. These are not “new demands”.

No10 tells EU to forget banking our £39 billion unless it boosts UK’s divorce deal The Sun. I don’t understand why Barner has gone as far as he has in try to save Theresa May’s face (see the discussion in an Irish Times article where Barnier and May identified 6 industry areas where somehow in Ireland they’d have a low friction trade regime. That is never never never going to happen, yet it appears to have been discussed in detail). All it does is lead the ultras to continue to convince themselves their batshit demands will be honored. Although the flip side is, as you can see below, the UK press refuses to read the very clear language of EU documents, even short ones. The draft guidelines were just brutal, even with the bureaucratic sheen, and as you can see below, the changes by the EU Council all ran in one direction, making them even tougher.

Brexit: the march to a vassal state Richard North. Key section:

In broad terms, though, the guidelines say just one thing. The UK has been shafted – the only thing we don’t get is the orange jump suit. The stupidity of Mrs May and her advisors and all those precious little groups of intellectual pygmies who eschewed the “Norway option” have led us down the path to perdition, the very outcome we could have avoided by re-joining Efta and staying in the EEA.

Billionaire Presumed Murder

Apotex founder Barry Sherman and wife, Honey Sherman, found dead in North York home CBC. Lambert: “See last para.”

Apotex billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey found dead The Star

Barry Sherman: A ruthless fighter who helped revolutionize Canada’s drug industry Globe and Mail


The Ties that Bind: Families, Clans, and Hizballah’s Military Effectiveness War on the Rocks (resilc)

The jihadist genie released after Trump’s Jerusalem decision has yet to be put back in its bottle Haaretz (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Global U.S. military presence questioned Politico

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook admits it poses mental health risk – but says using site more can help Guardian (furzy). They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Facebook strikes back at researchers and experts who claim that it is transforming people’s behaviour and emotions First Post (David L). Come on. FB even ran experiments in manipulating users’ moods.

How you can be tracked even with your GPS turned off Android Authority (Bill B)

Trump Transition

CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity Washington Post (Chuck L)

Healey sues Betsy DeVos, again Boston Globe (furzy)

Is Trump the Worst President of All Time? New York Magazine. Resilc: “GW Bush with the needless invasion of Iraq hands down.”

Moscow senses Trump’s travails could be ending Asia Times

The Year of Being Completely Overwhelmed by Trump Rolling Stone. Resilc: “If the left were so vigilant with Clintoon and Obomba, we would not be in this situation.”

Matthew Petersen: Trump’s nominee for judge flubs law test BBC. Video clips. Ouch.

Tax “Reform”

U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study Washington Post. Of course, the Dems will at most tinker at the margin if they manage to get back into power in 2020, unless the Sandernistas succeed in turfing out enough mainstream Dems. Joe H:

I just don’t know what is going to happen in the future for the ordinary citizens of the USA or how this republic will survive. I am in my twilight years. I don’t how those days will be for me and for my grandchild. Really depressing.

The GOP’s Corporate Tax Cut May Not Be As Big As It Looks FiveThirtyEight/ Wait till they get done reorganizing their lives to take advantage of it.

US tax bill imposes steep levy on overseas earnings Financial Times. This is wildly overstated. What is happening is that 1. The plan was alway to “repatriate” the overseas profits, as in the IRS would just Do It; companies don’t get to choose whether or not to repatriate the earnings. However 2. They were expecting to have a super low rate, like an 8% tax. They are still going to get a break even v. the new 21% corporate rate, but they are really unhappy that it will be 15.5% on liquid assets, and only 8% on funds that are “less liquid”. Will be interesting to see how they draw the line. The companies with big offshore profits are tech giants, which are solid Team Democrat supporters, and Big Pharma.

With Billions at Stake in Tax Debate, Lobbyists Played Hardball New York Times. Resilc flags the money quote:

In all, more than half of the 11,000 registered lobbyists in Washington reported working on tax-related issues through the first nine months of the year, according to a report released this month by the nonprofit group Public Citizen.


Obamacare Subsidy Lawsuit Settled by White House, Democrats Bloomberg

Jones v. Moore

Steelworkers mobilization in Mobile helped tip Alabama race to Jones People’s World. Timotheus: “Local unions mobilized without waiting for national AFL-CIO or Dems.”

Sex in Politics…Not!

Democrats Can Weaponize the Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump Vice, Resilc: “How Pence is better is beyond me.” Moi: This is the newest variant of the impeachment fantasy. Help me.

Exclusive: Prominent lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers The Hill (Chuck L). Hoo, boy. Also rather discredits the line of thinking in the article above.

Female Kansas congressional candidate drops out over sexual harassment claim by male subordinate Los Angeles Times. Oregoncharles: “That didn’t take long.”

Peter Jackson admits to blacklisting actresses on advice of Harvey Weinstein’s company ABC (Australia). Kevin W: “Clickbait headline. Jackson had no idea what was behind the recommendations. Could prove useful testimony in a future lawsuit for Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd though against Weinstein and does show how his influence played out in practice.”

The power of touch, good and bad Boston Globe (furzy). Those of us of the WASP persuasion see this sort of thing as an effort at domination…and in fact, studies have shown that a person who touches the other in a relationship almost always winds up being the dominant party. And that goes for more casual relationships, like a salesman putting his hand on your forearm while laughing at your joke.

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats need an agenda — and they need it now The Week (Mle Detroit). Help me. It’s obvious what their agenda ought to be. They don’t want to go there because the consultants that appear to run the party would take a huge hit to their revenues.

Fake News

NYT Prints Government-Funded Propaganda About Government-Funded Propaganda FAIR (UserFriendly). Important.

Russia or Corporate Tax Cuts: Which Would Comcast Rather MSNBC Cover? FAIR (UserFriendly)

Gusty winds could expand deadly California wildfire Reuters (EM)

Europe’s Sovereign-Bank ‘Doom Loop’ Can’t Be Broken Bloomberg

Race to launch bitcoin futures stirs anger Financial Times. Two readers neatly summed up the issues:


Bitcoin for all its libertarian ideals, is actually piggybacking off the real financial system. The clearing house members are collectively exposed for defaults (in real currency), and that could provide contagion to legitimate instruments.


Ten day Volatility 129% Thirty day Volatility 102% Fifty day Volatility 87%

Let us not forget that the Merc came within three minutes of failing in 1987, and the only reason it didn’t was that the CEO of Contintental Illinois, where the CME had a $400 million overdraft due to a customer default, was in the office early, and authorized overriding bank policy and extended credit. This decision might have had something to do with the fact that Continental Illinois was still in FDIC receivership at the time. John Phelan, chairman of the NYSE, said if the Merc hadn’t opened that morning, the NYSE wouldn’t have either, and it might never have reopened.

Russia, N. Korea Eye Bitcoin for Money Laundering, Putting It on a Crash Course with Regulators Defense One

A bombshell letter charges that Uber hacked into competitors’ networks and wiretapped people at a hotel Business Insider (David L). Too late for SoftBank to change the terms of its tender.

GDP Has a Glaring Blind Spot Bloomberg

The Amazon machine Benedict Evans (resilc)

Class Warfare

U.S. states sue Trump administration for not granting student-loan relief Reuters (EM)

The United States Is Now as Unequal as Russia. And That’s Before the Tax Bill Mother Jones (resilc)

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America Guardian (Deborah K)

Crime-fighting robot retired after launching alleged ‘war on the homeless’ Washington Post. Ahem, this was as feature, not a bug. Problem is word got out.

Antidote du jour (Lawrence R). One of the National Geographic nature photo finalists, this of mountain goats at Mount Evans, Colorado, by Evior Kutcha:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. epynonymous

    What moon landing? The Wright brothers didn’t invent the plane anymore than America was first in flight. Yesterday I restrained myself, but did no one else see the Mad Men episode where we were supposed to pray for the astronauts? All that money, and no sign of life or water out there.

    Forget the Viking results. Were’re #1.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        China was first, again?

        From Wan Hu, Wikipedia:

        Wan Hu (万户 or 万虎) is a fictional Chinese official — supposedly of 2000 BC, or else the middle Ming dynasty (16th century) — who was described in 20th century sources as the world’s first “astronaut” by being lifted by rockets into outer space. The crater Wan-Hoo on the far side of the Moon is named after him.

        Keeping in mind, (later in the same Wiki article):

        A precursor of the story of Wan Hu appeared in an article by John Elfreth Watkins published in the October 2, 1909 issue of Scientific American, but used the name Wang Tu instead of Wan Hu:
        “Tradition asserts that the first to sacrifice himself to the problem of flying was Wang Tu, a Chinese mandarin of about 2,000 years B.C. who, having had constructed a pair of large, parallel and horizontal kites, seated himself in a chair fixed between them while forty-seven attendants each with a candle ignited forty-seven rockets placed beneath the apparatus. But the rocket under the chair exploded, burning the mandarin and so angered the Emperor that he ordered a severe paddling for Wang.”
        The possibly farcical text proceeds to describe several other fictional stories of ancient aviators.[1] It should be noted that a date of 2000 BC pre-dates the emergence of writing in China by three or four centuries and pre-dates the invention of gunpowder-based rockets in China by about 3,000 years.

        Maybe more credulous to say he was from the Ming dynasty.

          1. Octopii

            Langley was the smooth dilettante who got all the funding but never made a working airplane. Meanwhile the Wrights were funding their annual trips to the Outer Banks via their bike shop in Ohio and doing a series of very careful and methodical experiments. The data from this experiments led to rapid advances in lift and controllability in their first few aircraft. They deserve the credit.

      2. epynonymous

        From Wikipedia’s “History of Aviation”

        Main article: Samuel Pierpont Langley
        First failure of Langley’s manned Aerodrome on the Potomac River, October 7, 1903

        After a distinguished career in astronomy and shortly before becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Pierpont Langley started a serious investigation into aerodynamics at what is today the University of Pittsburgh. In 1891 he published Experiments in Aerodynamics detailing his research, and then turned to building his designs. He hoped to achieve automatic aerodynamic stability, so he gave little consideration to in-flight control.[49] On May 6, 1896, Langley’s Aerodrome No. 5 made the first successful sustained flight of an unpiloted, engine-driven heavier-than-air craft of substantial size. It was launched from a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River near Quantico, Virginia. Two flights were made that afternoon, one of 1,005 metres (3,297 ft) and a second of 700 metres (2,300 ft), at a speed of approximately 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). On both occasions the Aerodrome No. 5 landed in the water as planned, because in order to save weight, it was not equipped with landing gear. On November 28, 1896, another successful flight was made with the Aerodrome No. 6. This flight, of 1,460 metres (4,790 ft), was witnessed and photographed by Alexander Graham Bell. The Aerodrome No. 6 was actually Aerodrome No. 4 greatly modified. So little remained of the original aircraft that it was given a new designation.”

        Controlled flight is just hand-waving to ignore any events that people didn’t like. It’s like saying Fake History.

        To find a Langley in involved in the Smithsonian (home of the Wright Brother’s Plane) that far back, in Quantico, Virginia no less, shows just how little we know and how propagandized we are.

        I hear the Wright Brother’s mandated in their will (whichever kicked of last) that if the museum show-casing it ever claimed it to not be ‘the first *real* airplane” then their trust would re-take its possession and send it to another museum that would uphold their version of events.

        Furthermore, the Aero-Club de France has no awards during the crucial 1902-1907 periods, despite evidence of planes flying there during that time. Hmmmmm.

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer the plane i’m in to be in controlled flight, as i’m hand-waving towards the stewardess, so as to procure another snappy cocktail, en route to my destination.

  2. Wukchumni

    Twas the nightmare
    Before Christmas
    When all through the house
    Congress was reaffirming
    Most everyone within was a louse

    The stockings all hung
    By the dais with care
    In hopes
    That tax cuts for the rich
    Soon would be there

    The politicians were nestled
    All safe in their districts of red
    While visions of eviscerating the poor
    Danced in their head

    And Ryan & McConnell up to their usual mischief
    And other Republicans on tap
    Had just settled down
    For a long winters nap

    When out on the White House lawn
    There arose such a clatter
    I sprang from my internet connection
    To see what was the matter

    Away to the monitor
    I flew like a flash
    Tore open the headlines
    And threw up yesterday’s repast

    The loon on the lawn
    In lieu of Hillary & the fallen donkey show
    Gave the luster
    Of greed
    To adherence of the deity they know

    When what
    To my wandering eyes
    Should appear
    But a tax slay
    And society in arrear

    With a not so little old driver
    That cut to the quick
    I knew in a moment
    It must be the resident
    A Bizarro World version of old St. Nick

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      In our city park they have a big ass light display, one of which is a Cajun Swamp version of that song.

      Lambert: We need to start traing Mentats now to transition smoothly after the carnage of the Butlerian Jihad.

      1. Plenue

        In the heavily Dune-inspired Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game franchise, a rebellion of intelligent robots so poisons subsequent human society against AI and technology in general that true AI is banned altogether, technology ultimately becomes a highly superstitious and ritualized occult practice, and large amounts of mundane labor are conducted with lobotomized cybernetic meat robots made from humans (as well as more traditional slavery).

        I wonder how likely a scenario in which techno-fetishism inadvertently retards technological development more than any (stereotypical) Luddite-type ever could, really is.

    1. Craig H.

      The comedy wildlife photo awards announced their winners. (The finalists were making the rounds a couple months ago so you probably already saw a couple of these.)

  3. Bugs Bunny

    For the “Tax ‘Reform'” rubric As a Must-Pass Republican Tax Bill Headed for the Finish Line, Rubio Saw an Opening NYT

    An amazing 2nd paragraph opening continues as a theme through the “article”:

    A longtime champion of the working class, Mr. Rubio had tried in vain to secure a more generous tax break for lower-income Americans as Congress embarked on a sweeping rewrite of the federal tax code.

    So…along with the CIA, NSA, FBI, GW Bush … Marco flipping Rubio is now our champion and friend.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m a little tired of ‘may you live in interesting times’, as yes, it’s interesting, but for all the wrong reasons.

      That said, if we were hit with an onslaught of honesty politically, we might just hold it in contempt, not being used to the concept.

    2. Julia Versau

      I believe Rubio demanded this small concession to help himself. He knows the wheels are coming off the bus — and the next time he runs for office, he wants to be able to portray himself as one of the good guys. It’s a disingenuous ploy. But then, what’s new?

  4. skippy

    Went to drinks down the road and the hostess mentioned she got into bitcoin, I asked why, she said it was on the advice of a friend. I asked if she thought it was from an informed decision, she said the price went up since buying in, hence valid decision, I then asked if she thought it was earned income or was socially productive. She said it was the reality that we live in and you can profit from it or not.

    I then asked if she thought it was a case of survival of the fittest, she responded yes.

    I left post haste and then had her husband come over to my house, too try and BS the confrontation, its an opinion, did not mean it, you have insulted my wife.

    disheveled… my son is a good friend of theirs… I regret nothing….

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I dont see why it should end. Theyres soooooo much excess capital out there looking for markets to exploit. That money should be going to us. Ugh Fn San Fransisco.

        1. skippy

          This is a couple that bought RE [comfortable up dated reasonably size 70s build] pre GFC hoping to gain equity. Post GFC our location has stayed price stable. On top of that the wife’s job was terminated w/ the bonus of being offered more money for 6 mo to train up her replacement.

          None of that really mattered, it was the fact she uttered the meme toad of Spencer, yet did not even know who he was, how it was a bastardization of the concept from the original authors intent, its influence wrt all that ails us under neoliberalism. Then when casually quire about any knowlage – about any of it – defaulted to its an opinion[.]

          [Family blog] all the effort to restrain from saying uninformed opinions have a propensity to be confused with beliefs prompted me to vacate post haste. This has turned into a case where its all my fault, when nothing personal was said or suggested.

          disheveled… seems now days asking specific points or naming specific individuals to determine what level of understanding one has on a topic and others opinions is an insult of grievous proportions.

          1. Wukchumni

            I remember having a similar discussion with a fellow that loved silver and was pretty much convinced it walked on water in the late 70’s, as it had gone from $6 an ounce in mid 1979 to $48 in early 1980, eventually on it’s way to $4 some 15 years later.

            Never get in the way of somebody’s bubble delusions, there’s no win.

    1. a different chris

      The question is always “if you’re sure I’m so wrong, why are you so steamed about it?”

    2. ambrit

      That’s what we get when we drink up down the road. The ‘souse’ of the hostess perhaps?
      I only drink at home now. So, if the wife does me in, it’s obviously “justifiable homicide” and only I get hurt.
      Don’t toast your toesies jumping through the fire.
      Happy Midsummer Christmas!

      1. skippy

        The Husband is Irish of all things….. !!!!!

        Not to mention, just a few minutes before the wife was defending the actions of some bloke that has a propensity to talk about what – him and his money – have been doing. The Husband disagreed that the person in question had difficulty socializing from an early age was a reasonable justification for his repetitive behavior.

        disheveled…. bloody family blog… living in a price sensitive yard sale of opinions and beliefs… groan…

        1. ambrit

          Aaargh Matey! Get with the Pyrate Philosophy. Everything has a price!
          Also, opinions and beliefs are part and parcel of a personality, and that’s now for sale? We humans have always sunk so low, because it’s the sore thumbs that rise above, and above is the best description I can think of, to show the relief of the masses.
          Community is best indulged in from a discrete distance.

    3. Wukchumni

      Similar in a fashion to what goes on in evangelicals minds in our country, if things are going spectacularly well for your cause politically, any naysayers are given short shrift, in that everybody else is on the outside looking in, and therefore contemptible-having a contrary view.

      i.e. Alabama

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        An Alabaman-against-Moore caller into a political talk show had a couple of interesting words for the pro-Moore evangelicals.

        ” Evilangelicals” and “hypochristians”.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From “Global US military presence questioned” article:

    “We’ve has some spectacular policy failures,” said retired Gen. John Allen, who commanded the war in Afghanistan and is now president of the Brookings Institution. “But it doesn’t lessen the importance of the United States in the world today.”

    Classic Big Gov logic: abject failure should be rewarded with MOAR funding.

    Keep throwing money at Allen’s successors, and the US middle class will disappear within a generation.

    If Putin isn’t funding the Brookings Institution to destroy America … he should.

    1. Quanka

      Yeah no kidding. “70 years as the most stable/ more free than before” line was incredible.

      Also, note how the military stretgists treat killing people as “an away game” — “we’d rather fight them over there than here” — quite honestly the military has no idea how true that statement is. The first time a major war erupts in continental North America is the last time American’s give their consent to war adventures abroad.

    2. David May

      “Classic Big Gov logic”.

      Jim, are you saying that if the govt. pulled out of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex, that the Military Industrial complex would no longer be interested in military hi-jinks abroad? That seems, to me, to be a curiously naive position for such a worldly man to take.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The wide open playing field for a single-issue Anti-War Party to emerge and dominate politics for a generation is a wonder to contemplate.

        Barrel, meet water full of fish.

        Keep it simple. Which would you rather pay for, an electronic gun that can kill Middle Eastern goat herders from space, or 25 new hospitals?

        Explain how much $21 trillion could buy. How many free homes, how much free health care, how much free education.

        But oops Bernie voted for Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, so I guess he’s not the one to lead. Does anyone feel like simultaneously saving the United States and mankind itself, all in one fell swoop?

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m up for the challenge and could promise that i’d be honest about my intentions of ridding us of the MIC and all the trappings, i’ll be your huckleberry.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Sigh. It exists, though it isn’t single-issue. Actually, there are probably several – 2 in Oregon.

          Not getting many votes. However, I’ll take note of the campaign slogans you suggest. Got more?

      1. Procopius

        I like what he says, but I can’t help remembering he helped Colin Powell put together that abomination of a speech to the UN. I read his claim that they tried hard to fact check the claims before the speech and am not at all convinced. If I, relying on excerpts from the internet, half way around the world, knew how false all those claims were, how did they get fooled? Oh, well, let it go.

    1. The Rev Kev

      And if the goods can be had on Vice President Pence and he be forced to resign, then that would mean that you would end up with President Paul Ryan according to the line of succession. Wouldn’t that be something to look forward to?

        1. edmondo

          Hey, President Pence gets to nominate his own VP. Who did he endorse in 2016? Oh yeah, Ted Cruz. Freaking Mexico is looking better everyday. They’re going to have to build that wall to keep us in.

        2. ambrit

          Well, the logic of it is that once the “Coup” system is adopted, there will be no end to how far ‘down the list’ the substitutions can go.
          In November of 1974, National Lampoon did a ten page comic based on the machinations of the Secretary of Transportations’ scheme to become President.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          The next “election”????? Why bother. Next time let’s just ask tptb whom they want installed and save ourselves the heartburn. Not to mention having to live through the relentless temper tantrum when they don’t get what they want.

  6. Alex

    Thanks for the link on Zera Yakob and Amo, really fascinating! However, I don’t think that they can be grouped together. Ethiopia was much closer to Middle East than to sub-Saharan Africa (at least when we talk about the high culture to which Zera Yakov evidently belonged) so its philosophy is a natural development of Arab and other Middle Eastern philosophies, with some Catholic influence. On the other hand Amo received a typical Western European education of the time, even if his provenance definintely influenced his scholarly work

    1. DJG

      Yep. The article suffers from culture blindness–the author is inventing the wheel. Zera Yakob is part of Mediterranean Christianity, which is what brought Christianity in its Orthodox form to Ethiopia. There are plenty of documents and indications of continuing contact between the Eastern Mediterranean and Ethiopia.

      And claiming that the Enlightenment started with Rene Descartes? The author sure doesn’t seem to get out much. Further, we are still trying to overcome Descartes rather limited understanding of the mind-body problem and of animals and their behavior (they are machines, according to old Rene).

      By the time Descartes turned up, the Mediterranean was in ferment–the manuscript of Lucretius “On the Nature of the Universe” had been discovered around 1400, as describe so vividly in Steven Greenblatt’s The Swerve.

      But it is good for the author to recognize, at least, that Ethiopian culture is highly varied and distinguished. But with few to no translations in the West, what influence did Zera Yakob have?

      1. Wukchumni

        In 2,854 if it hasn’t been melted down and turned into something else, they’ll wonder why a statue was made of somebody with a crooked face?, in Ronaldo’s case.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think all humans have things in common.

      On the other hand, we often can’t perceive what we don’t see in our minds. Another person might point out the mental concept beyond a puzzling image, and then,we see.

      So, the interesting question here is, while we see them as similar, would members of the two cultures see them as very different?

      Maybe all Asians, Africans or Europeans look alike to those outside. But a Thai (or a German) will say he’s quite different from a Malay (or a Dutch).

          1. Wukchumni

            You know how it goes, a Thai thinks Cambodians are below them and Cambodians think Vietnamese are below them, etc.

            Give me a list from top to bottom of how each region rates.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              And for that reason, while we see those paintings as somewhat similar, those involved, perhaps even us, would have been able to point out how different they might be.

        1. JCC

          Two things I remember:

          In the early 2000’s I took a ‘latino cultural in the new world” course where I and an anglo woman, both in our mid-forties, were the only two non-latinos in a class of about 30 college students ranging from Cuban to Mexican to Caribbean Islanders to Central and S.American backgrounds. One class discussed exactly this and for me it was quite enlightening. There is definitely a pecking order and my general impression was with Carribeans, except Cubans, at the bottom of the order, and even the non-Cuban Carribeans had an additional pecking order. Mexican backgrounders had little opinion one way or the other that day, except they knew they were above Central Americans.

          The class talk was weird for me, but on the other hand, being of solid Irish descent with lots of family folklore history, it sure wasn’t new to me.

          About ten years previous to that I spent some time in Costa Rica and happened across a survey published by an American University which went across Central and South America asking questions and getting opinions on various social subjects such as ‘which country was the most democratic?’ (Costa Rica won handily) and ‘which country’s citizens were the most trustworthy?’ (Costa Rica solidly lost this category)

          I’ll have to see if I can dig the survey up on the ‘net. It was fascinating to me. But overall, there is a pecking order depending on the subjects at hand wherever we go.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I should also add the drums mentioned in the link are very interesting.

      From Dong Son Culture (near Hanoi), Wikipedia.

      The Dong Son culture (named for Đông Sơn, a village in Vietnam) was a Bronze Age culture in ancient Vietnam centred at the Red River Valley of northern Vietnam from 1000 BC until the first century AD.[1]:207 It was the last great culture of Văn Lang and continued well into the period of the Âu Lạc state. Its influence spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, including Maritime Southeast Asia, from about 1000 BC to 1 BC.[2][3][4]

      Those bronze drums have been found in many places around that region.

      From Dong Son Drum, Wikipedia:

      The earliest drum found in 1976 existed 2700 years ago in Wangjiaba in Yunnan Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture China. It is classified into the bigger and heavier Yue drums including the Dong Son drums, and the Dian drums, into 8 subtypes, purported to be invented by Ma Yuan and Zhuge Liang. But the Book of the Later Han said Ma melt the bronze drums seized from the rebel Lạc Việt in Jiaozhi into horse.
      The discovery of Dong Son drums in New Guinea, is seen as proof of trade connections – spanning at least the past thousand years – between this region and the technologically advanced societies of Java and China.[3]

      Here is a picture of a Dong Son bronze drum:

      It is speculated that the people of Dong Son came from the Yunnan region of China, where similar bronze drums and other beautiful bronze works, including motifs of lions attacking bulls (Persian? Middle Eastern?) have been discovered. With that, it is further speculated that these people originally brought bronze making technology from the Fertile Crescent region.

  7. financial matters

    Valeria Z. Nollan has an interesting article Compassion

    “”In a speech on 3 May 2017 to the employees of the U.S. Department of State, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson made a statement that might surprise observers of the U.S.’s military actions abroad since the 1960s:

    Now, I think it’s important to also remember that guiding all of our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated. Those are our values.(1)

    Tillerson’s words were no doubt well-intentioned, but in uttering them he ignored the troubled socio-political history of the country whose government he represents.

    If the U.S.’s national values and interests were rooted in a genuine respect for humanity, its foreign policies—rather than promoting invasion and regime change—would promote compassion and empathy. If this were the case, the U.S. would join Russia’s efforts in de-mining parts of Syria and rebuilding the cultural treasure of Palmyra, rather than occupying the northeastern part of the country in order to control the oil fields there. If the U.S. were to abandon its ethno-centrism and militarism, it would be more closely aligned with its values, rather than diverging from them.””

  8. Jim Haygood

    Guiding all of our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated.‘ — Rex Tillerson

    Like many Boomers, Tillerson defaults to regurgitating boilerplate from his 1960s civics text which he has now internalized as dogma.

    But with his insider’s window on state violence (has Trump continued Obama’s “Terror Tuesday” meetings to decide on drone assassinations?), Tillerson has no excuse for catapulting propaganda that he personally knows to be the polar opposite of the truth.

    1. Procopius

      Of course he has an excuse. You have to keep selling this stuff or the rubes might stop buying it. The purpose of the State Department is to ease the path of American commerce and corporate profit, not to promote peace or well-being. It has been so since 1789.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit:

    Brexit: the march to a vassal state Richard North. Key section:

    In broad terms, though, the guidelines say just one thing. The UK has been shafted – the only thing we don’t get is the orange jump suit. The stupidity of Mrs May and her advisors and all those precious little groups of intellectual pygmies who eschewed the “Norway option” have led us down the path to perdition, the very outcome we could have avoided by re-joining Efta and staying in the EEA.

    Irish word of the year according to Waterford Whispers, is ‘ha ha you stupid Brits’.

    While the Oxford English Dictionary today announced “youthquake” as its own ‘word of the year’, the Irish dictionary has opted instead for a word that people have actually used during the year, and has elected ‘ha ha you stupid Brits’ as word of the year, which was by far the most popular phrase uttered in Ireland since the Brexit referendum in June, 2016.

    1. David

      Paragraph 6 is worth pondering. There will be some discussion about future arrangements, but these will be

      “preliminary and preparatory discussions with the aim of identifying an overall understanding of the framework for the future relationship, once additional guidelines have been adopted to this effect. Such an understanding should be elaborated in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

      The number of qualifications is impressive, and at best the understanding will be a politically-binding document, very much not part of the agreement. In addition, the use of the world “should” rather than “will” means that there is no commitment to actually produce such a document.

    1. a different chris

      I suspect they were murdered so it is not a good idea to use them as a political toy.

      But it would be great if we could contrast a Canadian billionaire’s death with an American one, in terms of how much the kids would get in each case. Which would point out that the Canadian kids would still have more than they could ever spend.

      1. Wukchumni

        Edmond Safra was a Billionaire, and his death was thought to be a homicide by many.

        He would have been the 1st one of his ilk, methinks.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      In general maybe, but do read the article. This one got rich by screwing over other pharmaceutical companies by providing lower priced generics. Maybe not Robin Hood, but it sounds like he might have actually helped some people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For me, any death is sad. A life is as precious as any other.

        We are left to ponder his ideas, good or bad. From the second linked article:

        There is no God, no free will, no altruism and no morality, Mr. Sherman wrote in what he titled A Legacy of Thoughts. “I find no inconsistency in holding intellectually that life has no meaning, while at the same time being highly motivated to survive and to achieve,” he added.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Fn sociopath addicted to money. He shouldve been institutionalized in a mental heath facility.

    3. flora

      um…. prejudging a person’s character solely by their inclusion in an external category (wealth, race, religion, etc.) is a sort of “-ism”. (Some categories are set at birth, some are personally acquired in life. Yes, that’s true, but doesn’t change my point.) So, the phrase “more dead billionaires please” sounds too much like “more dead [impersonal-group-membership people ] please.” It’s been used to justify too much killing, already. It’s a vicious argument I don’t like to see used against anyone.

      I’d say, “more highly taxed billionaires, please.” :)

      1. subgenius

        Billionaires tend to be billionaires over the stacks of dead bodies supporting their habit. Wealth requires poverty to support. Extreme wealth requires extreme poverty.

        Poverty kills – mostly slowly and after a lot of torture.

        Maybe this should be considered.

          1. flora

            The solution, I believe, is forcing a change in politics, not physical elimination of individuals.

            Example: late 1890s and early 1900s the railroad monopolies were financially destroying farmers and small towns. The answer to the problem was not physically eliminating JPMorgan, Hill, and Harriman (Northern Securitys Company railroad trust). The answer was political: bust the railroad trust monopolies, change the terms under which capital can operate. Regulate so the businesses can’t easily abuse their positions. A progressive income tax.

            Now the U.S. is back to a politics that looks the other way at monopolies and financial fraud, and make the tax system more regressive day by day. The way to change this is political. It take time, sometimes a long time.

            1. Wukchumni

              Frank Norris’s “The Octopus” is all about the Southern Pacific railroad financially destroying wheat* farmers and small towns in the Central Valley, a great novel.

              * hard to imagine, but that’s pretty much all they grew in the Central Valley in the 1880’s

              1. Procopius

                We read it in English class in my high school (class of 1955). The overall philosophy of all the teachers was pretty liberal/pro-labor. As you say, great novel.

            2. subgenius

              ‘forcing a change in politics’….

              …if voting worked they would ban it!

              There have been plenty of protests over the last couple of decades, with some vast numbers of participants and undeniable evidence….remind me which anti-war/anti-capitalist/anti-repeal-net-neutrality/anti-global-destruction event has led to a positive alteration in the juggernaut of idiocy…?

              Historically, the force that changes entrenched interests in control of a system is generally called ‘revolution’ and is generally not a non-violent experience, unfortunately.

              (Not cheerleading, just recognizing a sad reality :( ymmv)

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Those who were rolled up may well have been reflecting on that from then till now.

                      They may be thinking of less roll-upable ways to obstruct the workings of the upper classes.

                1. Marco

                  Thanks for that link! It’s unfortunate that most of the comments all trash Nader for Gore’s 2000 “loss” with nary a mention of Clinton stabbing labor in the back. My favorite tho in ref to Chomsky

                  “…the disenfranchised, blue collar whites remain amenable to Reagan style cons because the R’s know how to talk to them respectfully and sympathetically as a reward for their availability and capability to labor, especially without organization and void of any politically correct judgment of them for not being adequately PC, that denigrates the dem’s by implying and accusing them of promoting hand out politics that plays into their culture of tolerated racism.”

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Would you say the collapse of the USSR was non-violent, though quick, though lengthy low-level violence (bombings in Moscow) and non-violent looting followed, with sporadic armed conflicts in the peripheral (Georgia)?

                1. Wukchumni

                  Russia and Romania were violent, but really nowhere else in the bloc party. The populace wasn’t all armed to the teeth, and in the USSR you needed an internal passport to go anywhere intrastate before the revolution and there was no internet of course, so people stayed put largely. And most importantly, nobody really owned anything.

                  Our situation is just a wee bit different.

    4. Marco

      My apologies. It was an intemperate and silly thought experiment that the world may be a better place if a Bezos, Koch, Walton, Sackler, Thiel (…) were to just turn up dead. But I do think their direct (and indirect) actions are creating a world where people won’t care either way…selfless endeavor in creating cheap generic drugs aside (something the government should be doing anyway).

      1. anonymous

        they’re able to amass this wealth and power legally, right, within the current system?

        wasn’t it Lenin who said don’t blame individual capitalists, blame the overall system?

  10. The Rev Kev

    Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’

    This could be a bargaining ploy/threat to get China to impose a total blockade of North Korea. Russia is also being leaned on and is accused of funding North Korea because of guest-workers in Russia. Having North Korea totally isolated, sanctioned and even starved of food may sound a great idea in Washington but the difference is that both China and Russia actually share a border with North Korea and would have to deal with all the consequences.
    A week ago that Ken Burns documentary series on Vietnam started airing here. Tonight’s episodes showed that the US were going with the assumption that if they just kept up the pressure on North Vietnam, sooner or later their moral would crack and their military campaign would fall apart as a result. That never happened of course and it was the US that had to depart but I wonder if it is the same sort of thinking going on here. Keep up the pressure, sanction North Korea to hell, hold military maneuvers on a continual basis on their border and sooner or later the North Koreans will crack.

    1. Leviathan

      I’m not sure the strategy is to get N. Korea to “crack” so much as it is to contain them. Without constant pressure on their enablers (Russia and China) N. Korea would have more time and money to think about invading the South. If they invade the South, what is going to happen? There is a non-insane case to be made that the US must keep up constant pressure on N. Korea at least until nukes and defense tech can be set up in Japan (which wants them) and possibly S. Korea (which is divided on what to do).

      1. bwilli123

        If Japan gets Nukes then South Korea will too. This would mean no further requirement for Uncle Sam’s presence. Everyone there knows this and for that reason alone the US will try naturally try to prevent it.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        How much more “contained” could North Korea be?

        And it would be my guess that neither South Korea nor Japan would be any more amenable to being nuked in furtherance of american global domination than Atlanta or Chicago.

        Not that you hear much about it from the msm in this country, but I suspect the people on the Korean peninsula and in Japan would prefer that the fading american empire make its last desperate stand on their own turf and leave them the hell alone. Talking about them as if they’re nothing more than some inert pieces on the grand american chessboard is about as revolting as it gets.

        1. Procopius

          There’s lots of revolting stuff from both political parties (I see the Democrats as the current party of Robert Kagan’s neocons and AIPAC). The current ignoring of South Korea’s and Japan’s motivations is foolish.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Could it be that the North Korea card is being used by Trump to confront China’s ‘economic aggression?”

      While the US did badly for a few years in Vietnam, Americans have been losing jobs, every year, or many, many years and decades to neo-mercantilism, with the same assumption the we can just keep consuming imports and our unhappiness will crack.

    3. a different chris

      Yeah and this method brilliantly starves all the people that aren’t responsible for their leaders behavior, whilst strengthening their leader’s authority. Sometimes I think that’s a feature, not a bug.

    4. Wukchumni

      Tricky Dick strode into the White House on a pledge of “Law & Order” in the midst of the Vietnamerica War, as the country was truly in a us versus them generational divide stateside.

      Maybe there’s somebody out there in public protesting potential war with the Norks, but I have no knowledge of it.

      Also, on the Ken Burns series, the TV news often showed rather graphic videos of the war, on the 6 o’clock news. I’ll assure you that nothing of the kind has happened in the 16 year slog we’re currently involved in.

      1. Lord Koos

        Americans have not seen uncensored images of their wars since Vietnam, almost 50 years ago. Even on youtube, how much footage is there of Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Lybia, etc. Since Iraq, not even “embedded” reporters seem to be around. In what is supposedly “a connected world”, not much real information is available about these conflicts.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > as the country was truly in a us versus them generational divide stateside.

        And generational politics didn’t work out that well, did it? Now we seem to be trying the same approach with gender (I agree, watch that “we”!)

    1. Wukchumni

      Canada’s housing bubble was way different from ours here, in that our hinterlands in flyover really didn’t play along, whereas even places such as Medicine Hat weren’t immune to it.

      I wonder how Canadian HELOC rates compare to here, in the heat of the bubble moment?

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Peter Jackson admits to blacklisting actresses on advice of Harvey Weinstein’s company ABC (Australia). Kevin W: “Clickbait headline. Jackson had no idea what was behind the recommendations. Could prove useful testimony in a future lawsuit for Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd though against Weinstein and does show how his influence played out in practice.”

    Its hardly a surprise that the Weinsteins would have used ‘word of mouth’ as a way to damage uncooperative actresses careers. Based on books like Peter Siskinds ‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’ it would seem that the film industry is very small and tight and lots of jobs get handed out on the basis of personal recommendations (it shares this with a lot of industries of course). From what I remember of the book, the notion that an actor or director was ‘difficult’ was a good way to destroy their career, unless they were very good. Ironically given the latest stories, Dustin Hoffman seems to have been widely loathed because of his behaviour, but he got a pass because he was so damned good.

    What surprises me is that nobody seems to acknowledge the Weinsteins own reputation. It was hardly a secret that for long before this story broke they were considered vulgar bullies by almost everyone in Hollywood – when Tom Cruise can openly mock you for that in a mainstream film (Tropic Thunder), its gotta be considered in the category of ‘not a secret’.

    I wonder if the real reason it all came out now is that the Weinsteins were seen as on their way out and a lot of people are getting their revenge in. Its nice to see people like this get their comeuppance, but you have to wonder why it took so long.

    1. Carolinian

      Perhaps it’s coming out now because of Trump. With Russia-gate flopping fast a new front has been opened up by The Resistance.

      Whether renewed character assaults on our unlikely Prez will have much effect may be dubious, but at least it got rid of Weinstein. Trump the disruptor strikes again.

      Meanwhile in my town Carolina Panthers owner (and head of locally headquartered Denny’s) is “under investigation.” This may have nothing to do with “me too” but if prominent business executives start to fall under the knife it could get interesting (or appalling if some of this reputation destruction turns out to be unwarranted).

      1. Carolinian

        As I was saying. Although I believe this and previous WSWS articles have exaggerated the idea that the whole thing is some kind of plot or witch hunt, you do have to wonder where it is all going and whether there is going to be a backlash.

        Thomas Edsall, in a column published this week (“The Politics of #HimToo”), acknowledges that the campaign is largely driven by political considerations. […]

        “The issue of sexual misconduct has emerged as a centerpiece of Democratic strategy for taking on President Trump and the Republican Party,” Edsall writes. “For Democrats, who have struggled to find traction in their battles with the administration, the explosion of allegations has created an opening to put the focus on Trump—a development greatly enhanced by the Moore debacle.” […]

        Earlier this month, leading Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, opposed a motion to impeach Trump that was based on his fascistic and racist policies. Now, however, according to a separate article in the Times, “Ms. Pelosi has strongly endorsed the push for new hearings on the sexual misconduct complaints against the president.

        1. anonymous

          this, too, on #MeToo ism and the #SilenceBreakers

          “,,,the sexual witch-hunt, with its message that every woman is in the “same boat” against apparently universal male wrongdoing, is directed at muddying popular consciousness, strengthening the hold of identity politics, and diffusing and dissipating anger against economic disparities and social inequality.

          It is intended to divert attention from the almost unimaginable concentration of wealth in a few hands and legitimize a type of exclusivist, gender-based mobilization of females across class lines against the “patriarchy.”…”

          1. Marco

            Thank you for the link! If it’s Time Mag’s Person of the Year…well then…but OMG Taylor Swift and Meghan Kelly are named (although not on the cover). Elites repositioning the deck chairs for other elites.

    2. Craig H.

      Be nice to people on your way up or there will be hell to pay on your way down. I believe this little proverb came from Hollywood.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The article wasn’t – both actresses thanked him effusively for speaking up.

        Actually, I didn’t read the headline that way, either, but it was a bit ambiguous. Headlines often are, when they aren’t outright wrong.

    3. Plenue

      “Clickbait headline. Jackson had no idea what was behind the recommendations”

      To be honest, Jackson still comes out looking really bad for doing blacklisting at all. What a gross practice. I have a hard time agreeing with the idea of just deciding beforehand to not hire certain people, unless, ironically I suppose, it was for something like them being a known creepy abusive sex pervert who no one would feel comfortable working with.

      1. Procopius

        That was my reaction. Then I started wondering if it was possible he just didn’t know about Weinstein’s reputation. Of course he probably didn’t get the word from Weinstein in person but from people at Miramax that he had worked with or knew otherwise.

  12. Wukchumni

    Gusty winds could expand deadly California wildfire Reuters (EM)

    I’d mentioned a month ago or so, in regards to a wildfire that broke out @ 7,000 feet in the Golden Trout Wilderness in January (the Soda Fire) a few years ago, and how I called the National Park dispatch when I saw smoke in the far distance, wondering how that was possible in an area that should have had 5 feet of snow…

    …the Thomas Fire will certainly be the largest wildfire in recorded American history in California by the time the last ember succumbs, and it’ll be sometime in January

    1. Anon

      Thomas Fire:

      I’m in Santa Barbara and it’s ~ 8:45 am. The sky is black with smoke and the Santa Ana winds are beginning to gust into town. The fire is expected to consume many homes/estates in the Montecito area with ANY amount of wind. This does not look good!

      If the wind persists throughout the day, as expected, then Dresden re-lived may be an accurate description for this day. This could be catastrophic.

          1. Anon

            Don’t know how current that ArcMap is, but the fire appears, to me (and I know the terrain well) , to have moved west beyond Montecito Peak into Hot Springs and Cold Spring Canyons. I am at the SB Central Library and can see the flames directly (from the second floor).

            1. Wukchumni

              From a friend with a home in SB:

              “Cold Springs Canyon is my favorite hiking area in Santa Barbara. It is about 5 miles east of the house and the fire is heading in the direction of the house.

              I’m pretty close to the hills, but I’m also located in the Mission district, which is the most historic residential neighborhood in Santa Barbara.

              I’m just around the corner from the Mission and I suspect that they will do everything in their power to protect the Mission and the neighborhood.”

              1. Anon

                Yeah, well, at the 4pm PDT fire update: Mission Canyon is now under mandatory evacuation notice.

                The wind was a sustained 50mph at lower portions of the fire field today. Spotting a half-mile ahead of the flame front is happening. See the LA Times for some great coverage of the fire.

      1. anonymous

        This is so catastrophic and sad.

        Our perceptions here in Los Angeles are probably inaccurate, but it just seems as if resources weren’t marshaled quickly or forcefully enough against the Thomas Fire when it first broke out in Santa Paula. Yes, global climate change and the 6-year drought that California just exited established the conditions for a massive fire. But are resources being brought in from other states? Can more be done?

        I can remember the horrific Station Fire that burned in the Angeles Crest area of the San Gabriel’s several years ago. It seemed like a delayed response then and that turned out to be accurate.

        1. Wukchumni

          Hard to say whether being quick would’ve helped all that much, there’s no reasoning with 60 mph winds, when it comes to fuego.

          In lieu of the MIC sending off fit young men and women to fight dubious battles overseas, why not deploy the stateside ones here in a firefighting capacity. If inmates can do it, the bar to learning can’t be all that difficult.

          Nobody is going to shoot at you, and you’ll be heralded as heroes, real heroes, not the kind that end up strung high up on lamp posts across the southland for simply enlisting, such as this:

        2. Anon

          Actually, the SoCal response to the Thomas (and other fires) has been very responsive; given the conditions. See today’s LA Times for the lessons learned from the NorCal (wine country) fires.

          The extremely dry chaparral and the Santa Ana winds have made the Thomas fire wholly intractable to containment. Unlike NorCal, SoCal has THOUSANDS of firefighters trying to protect life and property (in that order). I can see the fire raging from downtown Santa Barbara at this very moment! This could get very ugly fast!

          1. Anon

            Clarification: I am at the moment in Downtown SB, the raging flames are in the mountains to the North above the city. The Santa Ana winds blow the fire toward SB.

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        I’ve been using this: website since 2011, when I had to evacuate from south Reno during the Caughlin Fire. It worked well for the eastern slope of the Sierras, where population density and news coverage are rarely as complete as in coastal California. The link is to the Thomas Fire webpage.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Make sure your sprinklers are running (outside), and get your neighbors to turn theirs on, too.

  13. Maurice Hebert

    Thanks for Yacob and Amo, and also reminding me about the violence of looking away from the horrors of Poverty and Homelessness.

    I needed that.

    1. norm de plume

      Yacob and Amo – I may not be terribly widely-read but I had never heard of these guys.

      It seems that philosophy, like history, is written by the winners, and that land and resources are not the only things our Enlightened forebears took.

      Taking Gannibal into account, there are three interesting biopics in that article.

  14. Don Midwest USA

    Exposing spy agency work in New Zealand and bringing it under rule of law

    The customs service had their own database …

    For years, the movements of New Zealand travellers were collected and scrutinised by intelligence officers working for the NZ Security Service.

    As you returned from holiday or business, or came home from backpacking, the entry details would be secured in a growing computer database operated by Customs NZ.

    The information was a valuable collection of travellers’ personal details showing who was travelling to, from or through New Zealand airports.

    For citizens, it was another example of playing an unwitting part in the defence of our nation. Those travelling became part of the broad weave of data studied by intelligence staff for those who don’t fit, or don’t belong – those who are a risk to New Zealand.

    Article contains history of the NZ 5 eyes effort, spying on Kim Dotcom, Edward Snowden, etc.

    The Big Read: How our spies got so out of control that they wound up getting Kiwi data ‘unlawfully’

      1. The Rev Kev

        I am wondering if there is a link with that fact that when John Key, a financial trader (nicknamed “the smiling assassin”), became Prime Minister of New Zealand you started to get more and more stories on Naked Capitalism on financial skullduggery there.
        New Zealand was widely regarded as the least corrupt country in the world but has now dropped several places as all these scandals have come home to roost. Key is making out OK as he has been appointed to board of directors of Air New Zealand as well as chairman of ANZ Bank New Zealand.

        1. Wukchumni

          I can attest to NZ being a very honest country in the past, and the housing bubble there correlates perfectly with Key being in office, along with all of the scams that NC has related-that are so un-Kiwi, the people aren’t like that really.

    1. Juliania

      Some bits are a bit hard to swallow:

      “…It was found to have so many cones of silence that few knew what others,were doing. Inadequate staff were kept on because of concerns over security if they were let go.

      “One fact which those close to the bureau kept pointing to was Kitteridge’s affirmation that none of this happened in bad faith. The bureau staff were dedicated servants of New Zealand and were devastated by the issues found.”

  15. bob mcmanus

    The Aeon article on the African Enlightenment was erudite and interesting, but I was a little surprised to find no mention of Baruch Spinoza in an article that mentions Descartes and Locke. It would have been a useful comparison. See the somewhat controversial work of Jonathan Israel for why.

  16. JohnnySacks

    Good work with the hydrogen electrolysis. I typically get a lot of negative responses when I suggest that our current battery powered future worship is unsustainable and simply provides a new revenue stream of resource extraction for our new corporate overlords when fossil fuel use decreases. Yes, the production of hydrogen requires resource input, same as wind and solar, but once the infrastructure is in place, it just runs continuously, powered by a fusion reactor 93 million miles away. There is no resource limit with hydrogen, it is portable, it stores energy for use when there’s no sun, it’s 100% clean. Yes, it’s dangerously explosive, but that’s a safety and technical issue that can be overcome.

    1. subgenius

      Are you a scientist, or engineer, with experience of handling highly reactive gaseous materials?

      It is an incredibly difficult gas to safely handle, contain and transfer, and it has a reactive nature detrimental to a wide range of materials.

      Yes it can be handled.

      By the idiots widely experienced in an average urban day on hell-A streets…I think not.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The outer envelope of the Hindenburg was coated, for water and gas proofing, with GUNCOTTON.
          Current theory is that the envelope was ignited by static electricity, after which the hydrogen burned, of course.

          1. Skip Intro

            I think analysis of the film showed that the envelope ‘burn front’ moved fast enough that the material would be classified a high explosive. The hydrogen ignited and floated off, turning into rain. That is one important safety difference with natural gas. H2 molecules are much lighter than air, so they don’t pool up waiting to explode, they try to escape up.

  17. Wyoming

    Re: the Asia Times article on Moscows view of Trumps current situation.

    It is hard to put much credence into an article when one can’t get past the 2nd paragraph without finding 2 significant errors which even a minimal check of resources would have corrected.

    1. Andrew McCabe did not pick Mueller as the Special Counsel as Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein did.

    2. McCabe is not presently Acting Director of the FBI but rather the Deputy Director as Christopher Wray is the FBI Director who was sworn in on Aug 1, 2017.

    And, of course, the first paragraph says the Mueller probe is sputtering…which to me is a pretty hard to justify opinion. I would say the jury is out still on how deep Mueller will end up digging. One has to have some patience.

    The article is just all over the map.

    I would posit that the Putin/Medvedev flattery of Trump in recent days is just an attempt to manipulate as it is pretty obvious that Trump is highly susceptible to even obvious flattery. You just keep working your target’s weaknesses diligently and see what falls in your lap.

  18. Carolinian

    The Android tracking scare story assumes you have a barometric altimeter on your phone which–I believe–only applies to high end models like IPhones and pricey Android phones. Even most gps units don’t have these electronic altimeters which are considered a premium feature. My gps does have this and you have to set the altimeter to a known elevation if you expect it to be accurate. Ordinary gps without barometer will give elevation within a couple of hundred feet.

    Of course one does wonder, therefore, why they are putting these sensors on phones at all.

    1. Octopii

      I’m happy to have the information from those sensors. The problem is everyone else having my info too.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        i like my barometers…i have four; 2 analog(with hair, I believe) and old, a digital that’s new(-ish) and “indistinguishable from magic”(AC Clarke), and an antique weather glass.
        None of them communicate with the mothership.
        I look at them when I get unexplained pain episodes in order to correlate with approaching fronts/low pressure.(btw…it ain’t barometric pressure, as far as I can tell, to the best of my ability, after 15 years of doing this. another mechanism is involved(“scalar fields”? perturbations in the gravity field? some new thing we are as yet unaware of?))

  19. allan

    Pro tip: don’t be a professional earning between 350K and 450K. The GOP hates you.

    Check out the chart at the bottom. Those Eisenhower-era tax rates are coming back.
    For the lucky few.

    It’s almost as if the truly rich are pulling up the drawbridge behind them.

    1. allan

      More professional class weirdness from the conference committee:

      Apparently income isn’t just income any more
      [Daniel Shaviro]

      … Even the House bill really did amount to saying that work – labor – wages in the economic sense – would get lower tax rates in some businesses than others, for no reason beyond Congressional favoritism. But one could imagine that someone imagined they were drawing a coherent line of some kind for some reason. … they found a list in an existing tax statute that had defined personal service businesses for a wholly different purpose, and that does actually look like a good faith effort to draw up a comprehensive list, including most of the obvious candidates and then with a catchall phrase at the end for the rest.

      Not only doctors, lawyers, athletes, consultant, etc., but also architects and engineers, were on this list. But then something happened in conference. They decided to strike architects and engineers from the list of personal service businesses for purposes of determining eligibility for the 20% passthrough deduction. No explanation offered, so far as I can see.

      Here’s an illustration of what this means in practice. A doctor and an architect are both in the 37% bracket. Each then earns an extra $100,000. The doctor pays an extra $37,000 of tax. The architect manages to structure the receipt as qualified business income that gets a 20% deduction. Hence, the architect has only $80,000 of extra taxable income and pays only $29,600 of extra tax. The doctor’s marginal rate is 37%, the architect’s is 29.6%.

      There is no whisper of a rationale for this. They had a list of personal service businesses that they didn’t make up themselves, and even if using it didn’t make sense to begin with, at least they were just plugging it in, as it stood. Now two favored professions have been taken off the list, apparently because someone with influence over the final product wanted to benefit architects and engineers relative to doctors, lawyers, athletes, consultants, etc. …

      Surely policy wonk Paul Ryan and beacon of moral rectitude Mitch McConnell will hold up action on the bill
      while this obvious corruption is investigated.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I don’t mean to defend this choice, but architects are very much underpaid relative to the amount of training they get (both education and then additional work before they get licensed). One of my college friends who got her architecture degree talked about how she and other architects would get invited to parties like they were normal white collar professionals when they made a fraction of their income. The only ones who make good money are developers.

        Which is the category one who made over $100,000 would likely fall into….and hence he probably shouldn’t be calling himself an architect if he’s not running an architecture (personal service) business but mainly a construction/development business.

        1. allan

          Yes. I’ve known architects who’ve thrown in the towel. It is not an easy profession.
          And frankly this particular piece of sausage making should probably be #459 down the list of
          garbage that made it into the bill at the last moment.

          One last link and then I’ll quit:

          This chart by @ernietedeschi sums up the GOP tax bill well: Tax cuts for about everyone, but Americans making over $100k get the biggest win (judging by jump in after-tax income).

          Spoiler alert: the conference bill is more regressive than the Senate bill,
          which was more regressive than the House bill

          As usual, what is displayed are percentage increases in after tax income.
          Already in those terms it is horribly regressive.

          But if the graph were of absolute dollar amounts, it would shock the conscience.
          Since the Dems weren’t displaying charts like that from the rooftops,
          one can only conclude that they would rather fund raise off of the bill’s passage
          than actually stop it.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > Since the Dems weren’t displaying charts like that from the rooftops,
            one can only conclude that they would rather fund raise off of the bill’s passage
            than actually stop it.

            Well, “Russia Russia Russia impeachment impeachment impeachment” is more important anyhow. So kwitcherbellyachin.

        2. clinical wasteman

          Also, according to the great Jonathan Meades (‘Museum Without Walls’ collection & occasion pieces in LRB, Guardian etc, but not so much online), at least in UK & Europe very very few “junior” architects — i.e. those who aren’t developers or the big names running big name firms — tend to have little to zero input into aesthetic, let alone planning/social functionality, decisions: their job is to apply the house style (of name firms) or prevailing commonplaces (working for developers or public sector contracts) as cheaply as possible, mostly working with digital modelling. This isn’t necessarily true just because Meades says so, but he makes a pretty convincing case for the way these working methods contribute to a hideous and utlimately anti-urban urban environment. He’s especially interesting on borderline cases like the late Zaha Hadid, whom he admires personally (so do I), but who seems often to have had to work this way just to get anything built at all. For a long time she had a whole lot more prizes than buildings; when she finally got some actual contracts quite a few were socially unpleasant Blairite or eg. Qatari vanity projects.
          Also good on social-economic-political background to architecture/planning/building, are Owen Hatherley (LRB, Guardian, Metamute, many other places) and Anna Minton (not sure about web presence).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Robot politicians.

      Will they be programmed to be Democrats or Republicans?

      And who has ownership of those politicians? The people?

      1. JBird

        From the article on Steve the Dalek.

        We are a nonprofit that is extremely sensitive to the issues of homelessness,” the statement added.

        As a native Bay Arean, I call BS on this. Cats, and dogs, the views, and those precious, precious property values oh yes. People, especially the homeless, not so much.

        If it was really that bad they could have hired some security guards. Of course they would have had to pay them…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “We are all human animals. All of us. House us in your animal shelter!!!”

          Just put cat lovers next to cats, and dog lovers next to dogs.

          For those fancying snakes, next to the serpents.

          1. JBird

            The shelters around here are no-kill and they do need volunteers to keep those animals healthy and socialized. Just install some showers for the humans and win-win!

  20. dcrane

    Marshall Islands nuclear waste article – full link (orig. from

    A 2013 report commissioned by the US Department of Energy confirmed the dome was leaking.

    While the US paid for the clean-up, Willacy said initial plans to lining the bottom of the dome with concrete didn’t go ahead and the soil was permeable, which meant seawater gets inside.

    “The dome was only meant to be a temporary solution until the US came up with a permanent plan,” he said. “Instead it was a shoddy cost cutting exercise.”

    Despite a $US2.3 billion compensation award, only $US4 million has been paid out.

    He said cracks are visible in the dome’s surface but said even if the structure failed the US government didn’t necessarily believe it would lead to a change in the contamination levels in the waters surrounding it.

  21. Wukchumni

    When I was in high school in the 70’s, if you came on Monday and hadn’t watched SNL, you felt so left out…

    My wife and I try and watch it every few months, and find it on the whole, not very funny. The skits fall so flat you could make pancake batter out of them, mostly.

    This should be a golden age for comedy, why is it so awful?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bill Simmons has long said Lorne has become the guy he use to hate in the 70s.

      The casts are young compared to glory years. I might be a bit off but my dad saw belushi at second city 10 years before snl.

      Then there is synergy between cast and writers. Bill murray’s oldest brother wrote for bill. What seems perfect for bill might seem stilted and awkward out of a random cast member. Guys like murphy, Hartmann, and ferrell were seen by the writers as right for every part in a sketch. That type of cast member covered other failings.

      Not al celeb guests are equal. Alec Baldwin isnt invited in a pinch because hes available but wont fall flat. Plenty of duds would host.

      Going back to lorne Michaels, newt, McCain, hillary, etc watch the show. Its for banality and small c conservative polical consumption. Comedy should punch up, not have their ilk make cameos.

    2. fresno dan

      December 16, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Well, it seems to me anyone or anything staying on top for over 40 years* is something pretty rare (maybe Bob Hope?) *and by no means do I think Saturday Night live has been at the pinnacle of comedy for 40 years.


      So, I am sure Saturday Night Live was full of “ldems/iberals” back than as it is now. So….was the skit above….Pro Reagan…or anti Reagan? Whatever it was, it played way against conventional wisdom and was totally unexpected.
      Maybe the first 63 Baldwin Trump skits were amusing, but you gotta admit they are getting….repetitious.

      1. JBird

        Unless it’s like “Steve the Dalek” actually investing in making something new is unacceptable. Our elites don’t believe in thinking different. Maybe they’re afraid of being called a communist or a terrorist or something.

        On a slightly less rantish note, the Bloomberg article was good as the writer compared the Japanese and American GDP. While the latter is higher, the former’s products and services are better. He mentioned how the clothes he buys in Japan are better quality for the same price.

        This supports my early rants on the skeletonizaton of companies and stuff for profit. Instead of making better products.

      2. wilroncanada

        Let me just tweek the noses of all you SNL likers and dislikers from the past and the present.
        It was a show like most others with some good skits and some bad ones.
        Most of the best skits were written and performed by the Canadians on the show (which was a lot of them).
        The show went downhill after most of the Canadians departed.
        Canadians know how to do comedy that is comedic.

        1. Wukchumni

          Yes, we have long relied on escapees from the Gulag Hockeypelago to amuse us in a manner we’ve become accustomed to, so there’s that.

  22. anonymous

    The Politico “American Military” article contains anti-Russia propaganda: quotes Allen, who claims Russia is the imperialistic force. Reality is: NATO has amassed missiles and troops on Russia’s border, etc…

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think NC readers don’t need to be alerted on the basic things to watch for, absent real value add. Incidentally, both statements could be true, depending on your definition of imperialism.

  23. Wukchumni

    George Carlin had his 7 forbidden words, never to be uttered on TV…

    The CDC’s are: Fetus, Diversity, Transgender, Evidence-Based, Entitlement, Vulnerable & Science-Based.

    It’s a new nightmare I wake up to every morning, this country.

  24. Wukchumni

    “If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”

    “Words calculated to catch everyone may catch no one.”

    Adlai Stevenson

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Life can be full of choices.

      From Zhuangzi, about pursuing knowledge:

      Human life is limited, but knowledge is limitless. To drive the limited in pursuit of the limitless is fatal; and to presume that one really knows is fatal indeed!

      Master Anarchy would likely have tethered himself, based on the quote.

    1. Lambert Strether

      On the same day as this: Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program NYT, in which Harry Reid shovels some money to a squillionaire with bright ideas (and a campaign contributor, which oddly, or not, goes unmentioned in the article).

      Then of course there’s this from campaign 2016: Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta’s Interest In UFOs is Out of This World NBC

      Of course, my first thought is that the Democrats are turning up the gaslighting knobs, which is amazing, because I thought the knobs were already set to 11…

    2. ambrit

      The comment in the piece about handing Leonardo da Vinci an electronic garage door opener and watching the fun ensuing is spot on.
      I’ve always been partial to Jacques Vallees’ “Passport to Magonia” concept.
      Vallee himself comes across as quite a figure.
      Alas, references to Magonia and its’ various institutions has passed into the Great Void with the recent needed ‘reforms’ of the comments page.
      All that remains is a “proof of concept” investment vehicle.
      Such is life.

  25. Wukchumni

    Notice how there’s scant news here of the riots, where Israeli soldiers are shooting at protesters, including killing one in a wheelchair?

    “Four Palestinians were shot dead and 150 others were wounded with live IDF fire on Friday, in the latest round of violence that erupted between Arabs and Israeli police during a new Palestinian “day of rage” throughout the country.

    Most of the casualties were on the Gaza Strip border, where thousands of Palestinians gathered to hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers beyond the fortified fence. Medics said two protesters, one of them wheelchair-bound, were killed and 150 wounded.”

      1. ambrit

        Scoff not. I believe that many American police personnel are trained in Israeli “crowd control” methods.
        Besides, the point almost makes itself when you consider that a hegemon (Israel) helps control its clients (America) by training and equipping said client states domestic police forces. Look at what a “bang up” job America has done in Central and South America with just such a methodology.

    1. Jean

      About those UFOs. Did Judith Miller write this story?
      So it begins.
      Now that Moslem terrorists are no longer a justifiable and credible threat to eliminate civil liberties and spend trillions, it’s time to introduce the taxpayers to the threat from outer space.

      Think of the new weapon systems! The need for world government! ‘-)

      1. ambrit

        I think that this asks the popular philosophical question: “If Aliens did not create Mankind, would Mankind have had to create Aliens?”
        Also, as a “meritocracy,” America needs automatically promote a World Government. Otherwise, how to access all those “Third World Geniuses?” and the needed control of worldwide resources to bring about that “shining city upon a hill?” (Said city to be managed by those with ‘proper credentials’ of course.)

  26. Anon

    I’m listening to live (2:40 pm) radio/tv reports from on-scene reporters: the fire as seen from Gibraltar Road is intense and creeping westward. Coldspring Canyon is now tinder. SB fire engines/crews are positioning at Westmont College as flames approach and the winds continue.

    If the winds continue, the Mission and your friend in Mission Canyon will be in mandatory evacuation soon. The fire is jumping whole ridges and spotting new fires.

    I imagine the power (electrical) will be going out soon: no Internet access.

    1. Anon

      The Internet went down just as I was finishing the comment above. It was intended as a response to Wukchumni and refers to the Thomas fire events in SB.

  27. Plenue

    >Yacob and Amo: Africa’s precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant Aeon

    “In his Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (1753-4), Hume wrote: ‘I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites.’ He added: ‘There never was a civilised nation of any other complexion than white, nor any individual eminent either in action or speculation.’”

    I find these quotes shockingly stupid for such a famous and influential figure as Hume. Putting aside the fact that among other things he’s implying China wasn’t worthy of being called a civilization, I’m very dubious of calling Romans or Greeks ‘white’. On top of that, the decidedly not white people of Sumer and its successor civilizations were building the first cities while his own Scottish ancestors were still performing rituals at crudely cut stone circles.

  28. freedeomny

    Re Sex in politics (and everywhere else it seems) …. read something by Sheryl Sandberg, who said there would be a “backlash” on the metoo movement and thought…,hmmm, this could be interesting. How does the neo-liberal politician try to squash this #metoo epidemic? I personally think that this moment is going to be much harder to snuff out. TPTB are going to try. They are going to try very, very hard. But ultimately I believe they will underestimate it….

      1. wilroncanada

        I’m presuming there will be a spate of reporting on sexual harassment of male employees by female superiors, including possibly criminal prosecutions and large payouts. Some of it will certainly be made up, but there will be enough accuracy in the reporting that it will dampen the “metoo” pile-on. I’m hoping only that all reporting, from both genders will, in future, become more subject to fact-checking.

  29. Plenue

    >Global U.S. military presence questioned Politico

    Right in the very first paragraph this article indulges in the false framing of the American Empire as ‘policing the world’. I really detest this habit, because it portrays intentional domination and warmongering as some sort of reluctant burden that America shoulders to make the world a better place. As if, if the US military wasn’t out there blowing things and people up, the world would descend into chaos. When in fact it’s precisely our constant bombing that causes so much chaos. Though the article is correct to describe the Pax Americana as a ‘business’, though not for the reasons the author intended.

  30. VietnamVet

    Tax “Reform”.

    It is really depressing.

    Giving the top three males who own half of the nation’s wealth even more money at the expense of working families is a disaster. Even David Brooks gets it. Last night on NewsHour he said:
    “The big issue facing American domestic politics is widening inequality and the collapse of the working class. And so, the Obama administration, given this big problem, decided to spend their entire administration talking about the health insurance markets, which is really related to but tangential. The Republicans have decided to lose their majority on the corporate tax rates which really has nothing to do with the central problem.
    So, what’s mystifying to me is that the two last administration’ and political establishment going on 12 years now is ignoring the big problem and tackling other problems. And so, that is going to mean that the inequality and the white working class and every working class that’s collapsing, that issue which drove the Trump election is going to be worse and worse and worse, and it will have effects we can’t predict right now.”

    Only starting a war with Iran and/or North Korea or climate change (down the line) are more catastrophic.

  31. Wukchumni

    We had our very own For19 scam here, when that many of our largest banks were bailed out after the financial crisis a decade ago, and they didn’t even need to send out letters pleading for assistance, as is customary in a Nigerian 419 scam.

  32. Wukchumni

    “The manzanita, the actual fuels, are really oily and volatile,” he said. “We’re trying to wrap our heads around just the fuels that we have here.” LA Times
    We used to have dozens of beautiful manzanita trees, but most of them died in the drought, and it’s the hottest burning wood in California in my estimation, and sad as I was to see them go, I wasted no time in getting rid of the newlydeads on the all cats and no cattle ranch, i’ll tellya whut.

  33. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America Guardian (Deborah K)

    From the article:

    California made a suitable starting point for the UN visit. It epitomizes both the vast wealth generated in the tech boom for the 0.001%, and the resulting surge in housing costs that has sent homelessness soaring. Los Angeles, the city with by far the largest population of street dwellers in the country, is grappling with crisis numbers that increased 25% this past year to 55,000.

    The source for the surge in housing costs is zero/near zero percent interest policy of the Fed. Tech boom is a by-product of that.

    The open sewerage problem is especially acute in Lowndes County, a majority black community that was an epicenter of the civil rights movement having been the setting of Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in 1965.

    All of King’s work and still worse than the Third World.

    A few non-confrontational suggestions to improve that epicenter.

    1. Move the NYTimes HQ there.

    2. Locate the second Amazon HQ there, without any taxpayer subsidy. Imagine the publicity. Land is cheap.

    3. Move the Pentagon there. Inject federal spending directly to the local economy.

    1. Wukchumni

      What if we start a little closer to home and have more than 9 shitters for 1,800 homeless in downtown L.A.?

      That sounds like a cholera epidemic just waiting to happen…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More from the article:

      Perhaps the most telling detail: apart from St Boniface and its sister church, no other place of worship in San Francisco welcomes homeless people. In fact, many have begun, even at this season of goodwill, to lock their doors to all comers simply so as to exclude homeless people.

      No Protestant churches?

      No Zen temples?

      No synagogues?

      No Mosques?

      That should make the Catholics proud (though pride is not necessary a good thing, in many religions) in this instance.

      1. savedbyirony

        To a degree and it’s certainly more in the spirit of “the good news” than the Archbishop who decided to turn the sprinklers on people without homes sheltering outside “his” Cathedral. But really where is the (all male) US Catholic Church Conference of Bishops “leadership” on the issue of affordable housing? My guess is that those two churches are doing this out of the good hearts of their parish members being led/supported by a brave priest who are all acting if not directly against a Bishop’s instructions then not with much of his institutional help. If so, good on them. Catholicism is best practiced from the pews up.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And this:

      LA authorities have promised to provide more access to toilets, a critical issue given the deadly outbreak of Hepatitis A that began in San Diego and is spreading on the west coast claiming 21 lives mainly through lack of sanitation in homeless encampments. At night local parks and amenities are closed specifically to keep homeless people out.

      Skid Row has had the use of nine toilets at night for 1,800 street-faring people. That’s a ratio well below that mandated by the UN in its camps for Syrian refugees.

      Let’s remember that public toilets belong to the public, not just politicians, not just public workers, not just their visitors or guests.

      Toilets in public buildings (properties of the city, the county, the state and the country) are all public toilets.

      Why can’t the homeless use them?

        1. JBird

          The reason the Europeans and Americans built vast expensive sewage treatment and water systems starting in the late 19th century was because the germ theory of disease was finally proved (that and incidents like the summer of The Great Stink in London)

          So a 150 years later…

          Well, the various cholera epidemics of the time also incentivize spending the money.

  34. George Phillies


    I continue to have the impression that the exercise in can-kicking at great expense, e.g., with Ireland, is consuming significant resources that might be spent on other problems, say, improving university systems. It appears to me that there is an increasing likelihood that the UK will indeed exit on schedule with no deal. Think of it as being behind the wheel of a car in which the dump truck ahead has come to a stop, with its brake lights failed, and you realize through the snow that (i) you have found a patch of black ice, (ii) there is actually a downslope not apparent through the snow, and therefore (iii) you are going to rear-end a truck, and (iv) there are no available corrective actions. The outcome is nto good, is not soon, and is not avoidable.

    Readers who feel that the issue here — what they see as a current lack of competence on the part of the UK — is unusual might usefully read Corelli Barnett’s four volumes on the Pride and Fall.

  35. Wukchumni

    So if a UFO landed on the White House lawn and it was all televised, and somebody that looked just like you and me got out and had a clipboard, and explained to the Chief Executive that he was doing a 50,000 year checkup on this planet they colonized way back when, and ticked off a few dozen boxes, and then got back into his spaceship and took off for the nether regions, would that be the end of religion as we knew it?

    1. The Rev Kev

      No, you’d have a new religion whose central icon would be the holy clipboard and salvation would be realized by having all your tick-boxes filled.

    2. Lambert Strether

      All the various peoples of the book would re-interpret their books. “See! We were right all along!”

      * * *

      And no, the intergalactic quarantine would not have been lifted.

  36. Alex Morfesis

    Bit coin futures and the crash of 87…the look on the face of some friends living on the options floors in chicago and their being so so so thankful no one bothered to reconcile any accounts for almost six months after that dreaded moment…

    someone might remind mister drexel boy from see and be seen
    (rich sand-tilly) next time he rambles on about the guvmint staying out of the way of beezness…the uber lazy-fair types tend to want to ignore the fact the actions of Continental on that day were in effect a government bailout via the fdic…

    Details details….

    As to bitcoin…the Egyptian pound is accepted in more places to buy real things than bitcoin…maybe someone will make a market on Barbie doll futures…

    actually…hmmm…futures on future tv productions…(do the youngins still call it tv ??)

    Back to the batcave…

    1. Procopius

      Excellent point. The Egyptian pound (or the Moroccan drahim) is used in more places to buy things than gold coins are.

  37. Oregoncharles

    ” studies have shown that a person who touches the other in a relationship almost always winds up being the dominant party.”
    That’s odd, because among primates, grooming (touch) is almost always of the dominant by the subordinate. Or mutual.

    Among humans, meanings generally depend on the context.

  38. Procopius

    Trump doesn’t seem to understand that calling China names is not likely to enlist their enthusiastic help in controlling North Korea. He also doesn’t seem to understand that China has about as much power to compel North Korea to do anything as he has to compel Mexico to pay for his [expletive deleted] wall.

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