Links 12/23/17

Can These Seabirds Adapt Fast Enough to Survive a Melting Arctic? Audobon Society

The Flood That Could Change Everything Weather Channel

U.S. Drought Risk Rising as a Second La Niña Winter Kicks In Weather Underground

Louisiana, Sinking Fast, Prepares to Empty Out Its Coastal Plain Bloomberg

Bitcoin swings wildly after its biggest reverse of 2017 FT

Bitcoin plummets, reveals Ponzi scheme traits The Hill

Edward George: ‘Banks are in danger of becoming utilities’ LSE Business Review. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

Days after iPhone battery fiasco, lawsuits against Apple begin to mount Ars Technica

Smartphones Have an Unexpected New Rival Bloomberg. So Yves and I are so retro we’re trendy.

Self-driving cars face a new test: snow FT

New Net Neutrality Bill Has Glaring Loopholes Scientific American. Blackburn’s bill.

Beyond Secrets: The Consumer Stake in the Encryption Debate (PDF) Consumers Union (via).

Brexit

Brexit breaks delicate interdependence between Ireland and UK The Irish Times

Gibraltar Condemns EU, Spain Over Threats to Brexit Transition Bloomberg

Brexit: Government facing High Court challenge to cancel Article 50 Independent

Civil service reports on Brexit are criticised for padding and plagiarism Guardian

North Korea

Storm clouds gathering over Korean peninsula, Mattis tells US troops Straits Times

How serious is the North Korean nuclear threat? FT

Market Reforms with North Korean Characteristics: Loosening the Grip on State-Owned Enterprises 38 North

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 4. Lee Mi-ja Ask a Korean!

Syraqistan

Tinder, dating and sex in Saudi Arabia — where love is a ‘sin’ NBC (Re Silc).

New Cold War

U.S. says it will provide Ukraine with ‘defensive’ aid Reuters

* * *

Putin’s First Year in the White House Andrew Sullivan (Re Silc). Re Silc: “This is why, at the end of 2017, I feel close to despair about the liberal-democratic project in the West. When it isn’t being assaulted by the identitarian thugs of the hard right, it is being corroded by the identitarian puritans of the ‘social justice’ left. This is how liberal democracies die — or rather how they reveal that they are already, under the surface, dead.” Lambert here: If you don’t put the working class first, you’re not on the left. Hence, identitarians are not “left.” I know that the conventional usage doesn’t make that distinction, but then it wouldn’t, would it?

More Media Malpractice in Russiagate The Nation. The term, “RussiaGate,” neatly begging the question as it does, finally seems to be getting traction, after a year. From the article: “But what exactly is Trump to protect us from? The basis for the ‘virtually uncontested truths’ of the year’s ‘biggest story’ remains the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s January 2017 report, which accused Russia of hacking Democratic e-mails and using social media to influence the 2016 election. Yet the report openly acknowledges that its conclusions are ‘not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.’ Nearly one year later, we have yet to see a shred of proof. What we have in its stead is a stream of Russiagate stories that make bombastic entrances only to quietly slink away. The pattern persists thanks to a media and political culture that embraces credulity and shuns accountability.”

Commentary: In democracies, voters warm to secret services Reuters. “In an extraordinary shift in public sentiment, the American secret services, battered by a president who veers between praise and vitriol for the agencies, have now emerged as defenders of constitutional propriety, and thus democracy.” Note lack of, er, agency.

The Memo: Impeachment fervor fuels Dem tensions The Hill. A year-and-a-half of gaslighting, and now the Democrat leadership is worried their base is too worked up.

Top FBI official linked to reporter who broke Trump dossier story Politico

Tax Reform

Here’s what Trump’s tax plan means for blue collar workers, from cooks to mechanics Business Insider

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer Says Top Priority for Next Year Is Giant Corporate Tax Cut The Intercept. From 2016, still relevant.

Trump Transition

Democrats Fold on a DACA Fix Slate. Keeping their powder dry, I imagine.

Trump Administration to Grant Mining Leases That Will Benefit Landlord of President’s Daughter Ivanka Trump WSJ

Trump replaces ‘E Pluribus Unum’ with ‘Make America Great Again’ on presidential coin Business Insider

Allegations of Racial Bias and Illegal Campaign Activity at a Conservative Nonprofit That Seeks to Transform College Campuses Jane Meyer, The New Yorker

NYPD to reveal names of vendors hidden for nearly nine years NY Daily News. “The News reported in February that vendors’ names for contracts worth nearly $390 million in the NYPD’s budget were withheld on the city Comptroller’s Checkbook 2.0 database that details city spending.” That’s real money!

Democrats in Disarray

Joe Biden: So hot right now CNN. Please kill me, right now.

Adult sci-fi sitcom, ‘Barry And Joe: The Animated Series’ is in development, with a backing from this late-night host Shadow and Act

* * *

After calls for campaign finance reform, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam takes corporate money for inauguration Richmond Times-Dispatch. Ka-ching. Commendably speedy, too!

I’m A Brown Woman Who’s Breaking Up With The Democratic Party HuffPo (MR). Note how the staffers are operating.

Jacques: Life in a Mike Pence world (thanks to #MeToo) Detroit News

Imperial Collapse Watch

Britain’s Imperial Follies Bloomberg

US nuclear tests killed far more civilians than we knew Quartz (original).

Neoliberal Epidemics

These maps show how Americans are dying younger. It’s not just the opioid epidemic. Vox

The Opioid Crisis Is Getting Worse, Particularly for Black Americans NYT (MR).

Boston-area paramedics on front lines of U.S. opioid crisis Reuters (E. Mayer). E. Mayer: “Like most MSM pieces, completely focused on emergency treatment and ‘saving lives’, e.g. ‘the flood of overdose calls is a grim daily reality, despite expanded access to overdose reversal drugs’. All well and good on the acute-care front, but what is needed most of all is expanded access to hope (and jobs, and affordable housing, and universal medical care, and and and), but for the nation’s Deplorables that is in short supply in the neoliberal political economy in which we live.”

High levels of benzene released at Weld County oil and gas site Denver 7

Class Warfare

How Inequality Kills Counterpunch

#MeToo In the Fields: Farmworkers Show Us How To Organize Against Sexual Violence In These Times

In the Maze n+1

An Open Letter on Why We’re Removing Usernames, Addressed to the Worst Ones We’ve Ever Seen OK Cupid. Women’s real names on a dating site. What could go wrong?

Happy Holidaze

Watch the Sex Pistols’ Christmas Party for Children–Which Happened to Be Their Final Gig in the UK (1977) Open Culture. “While many Britons were settling in for a warm yuletide, the Pistols decided to host a party/benefit for the children of striking firemen and miners at a venue called Ivanhoe’s in Huddersfield, UK.”

No One Writes Great Christmas Songs Anymore The American Conservative

‘Fairytale of New York’: How a soused Irish punk band created the greatest Christmas song of all time New York Magazine (Guardian; BBC). This:

Mood changer:

* * *

Marijuana for Christmas? Elderly Couple Arrested With 60 Pounds for Gifts NYT

Joy to the weed! Marijuana legalization comes bearing gifts Bangor Daily News

The Mystery of Maine’s Viking Penny Atlas Obscura

Dr. King’s Interconnected World NYT (MR)

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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About Lambert Strether

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

167 comments

  1. m

    No wonder the democrats aren’t making too much of a stink about this Koch bros tax cut. Increase the debt and then go after so called entitlements. Why does NYS vote for schumer the guy is a wall street sell out.

    1. tegnost

      yes that article went straight into the xmas inoculation against the fake news meme folder. I expect to hear some fulminations re the mortgage interest deduction, it’s all well and good until your own horse gets gored I guess. (not sure about the status of that in the final versions of the tax bill, but I don’t expect any of the fulminators to know what’s in it either

    2. John Wright

      I await the day “Super Supply Economics” kicks in as Republicans and Neolib Democrats realize that cutting taxes for the wealthy is not bound by a zero tax rate.

      Maybe politicians will propose that a high income makes the recipient an “exceptional job creator” who should not be taxed, even at a zero rate, but instead be targeted for a government grant via a negative tax rate.

      In a sense, this already occurs via government subsidies to corporations,

      Super supply side economics.. That is what we will be hearing about.

    3. Pat

      I realize it is a rhetorical question, but I really did think about it.

      Now understand, I didn’t vote for Chuck in the most recent election so I agree with the premise that it is not voting in my or most other NYers interest. But I do want to understand why I bothered to vote for him previously.

      When I first voted in NY our two senators were Democratic Icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jacob Javits. Javits was replaced by Alphonse D’Amato. D’Amato was a piece of work who became known as Senator Pothole. One of the ironies of the trial of Dean Skelos was Al testifying against him. And being a naive young Democrat, I happily voted for any Democratic nominee for his position and rejoiced when Chuck won in 1998.

      New York is deeply corrupt. That Chuck is Senator and Andy Cuomo is governor is not a coincidence. Hell I miss the guy who had to leave office because he laundered money to pay for prostitutes. There is a reason that kind of crime took down Spitzer – his was a personal corruption that didn’t enrich the people who normally make out like bandits in NY. And the state is far worse off for having lost him. (Doesn’t mean I don’t think he has a problem, but NY has taught me to have a sliding scale.) I’m utterly amazed that Cuomo managed to work with Bhara to take out two of the “three men in a room” leaving only one, him, to still have dreams of a Presidential run, delusional though it is.

      This is important, because one of the things that happened to NY, and the rest of the country, in the decades I have lived here is that our financial services industry has actively worked to hollow out manufacturing and production. In NY this didn’t just mean upstate, but in the city as well. Believe it or not, NY city had a huge amount of product production in various industries in the 80’s that was limited to the outer boroughs by the 90’s and pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. Real estate and investment groups wanted them out for different reasons. Our representatives didn’t protect those jobs, just as it didn’t happen elsewhere in the country. While there are few industries left in NY state and in the city itself (higher education, entertainment, retail) we are largely left with Wall Street. They are the fuel that keeps NY running at all. Those jobs and their workers provide the customers who pay for the service and retail jobs which are most of what is left.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think Chuck would be Wall Street’s (and Israel’s) tool regardless, but sadly I do think most of NY’s representatives have to consider keeping them healthy as a fairly large priority. It shouldn’t mean bowing to their every whim. Still NY would be facing some of the same devastation as Britain is at the loss of the financial services in the City of London for Brexit if Wall Street/financial services deserted the city or went under. Being a minor socialist it hurts my soul to even write that. That is no excuse for the short sighted and frankly stupid approach that Chuck and others take regarding both taxes and bogus entitlement reform. That most of our financial barons are idiots regarding the true results of strip mining the middle class in America, does not excuse our politicians providing jet engines for them to drive the US economy entirely over the cliff.

      So while I cannot give you a complete answer there are several factors:
      tribalism
      the other guy really is just as or more corrupt
      Being naive.
      Voting their own interests (even if they don’t directly work in financial services)
      And sadly not being offered any real alternatives as the state party is totally under the control of the DLC/Third Wave types. (Primary what primary) Even our third party groups tend to run the main party nominees most of the time.

      Maybe next time. But as there has still been little uproar despite the proven manipulation in the Presidential primary, others will get there first if NY gets there at all.

      1. Inode_buddha

        I’m in upstate, born and raised, and I’ve been fervently praying for my whole life that the NYC financial sector implodes under the weight of its own corruption, taking out the politics with it. For the rest of us, it would be a *good* thing.

      2. neo-realist

        Presumably in NYC there is also still a huge civil service sector that employs a ton of people, particularly POC, who for various reasons don’t get a fair shot in the private sector.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wanted to say it’s not the individuals, but the system.

      “Leave Chuck alone!!!”

      But we also have free will.

  2. allan

    “Democrats Fold on a DACA Fix”:

    Chuck Schumer is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.
    But with winter coming, shouldn’t we be thankful that the Dreamers are joining us here under the bus?
    Sheltering in each other’s warmth, just like in packed congressional districts.

    And now this Stein voter is off to register at the nearest DNC internment camp …

    1. Darius

      Democrats, reverting to type, are trying not to offend the mythical swing voter, who, to hear Democrats tell it, must revere cowardice. “No. No. It’s OK. Really. We not trying to help the dreamers. We don’t believe in anything. Please. Please. Please. Like us.”

      Incidentally, Our Revolution’s political director is a dreamer and got arrested at the recent demonstration at the Capitol. Chuck Schumer wouldn’t come out and address them but he did tweet about it. He’s an inspiring leader. Obama without the charisma.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are we not all dreamers, including the homeless and the deplorables, in the north, south, east or west?

  3. Croatoan

    The only thing I would caution about flip phones over smart phone is that the RF radiation you get from them will likely be much higher and you are less likely to find earbuds for them. (Look up the SAR value for some of the flip phones. EEK!)

    My android phone is a dumb phone. I turn off the data and the wifi and I have no account on it. Before I put it in my pocket a I put it in airplane mode. But it comes in handy if I need emergency internet. I do this because I found the lowest SAR rating phone was the phone I already had.

    If I were not so poor I would only have a landline…

    1. petal

      I have a vintage Motorola v120(it doesn’t even fold!) and it is only on if there’s an emergency. I carry it in my bag but it’s never on. I pretty much don’t use a phone anymore. Like you, I’d prefer a landline, but I cannot justify the cost at this point.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I have only a landline and no mobile. Are landlines really that expensive compared to mobile service now? I was under the impression that not only was I not being constantly surveilled, but I was also saving money with the landline.

        Maybe we’re just lucky – we have a local ISP that values its customers’ privacy and we get unlimited broadband and local/long distance phone service for about $70/month. They haven’t raised the rates in years.

        1. petal

          My very basic internet costs $75 a month(in rural NH). Bundling phone in would’ve been about another 40+.

          1. cyclist

            I get 50 Mbps internet from my cable company but unlimited VoIP for about $7 per month from another company. Shop around if you want a cheap land line.

            1. Procopius

              Well, I only get 30 mbps on my internet, but I only pay about $20 a month for it, have unlimited data download, and my near neighbors (my niece by marriage and her family) piggyback on my wifi. I have an android (Samsung) phone with a prepaid account that I top up occasionally for $3. Not bad for a country that really was third world only twenty-five years ago. I had a landline that I used to pay about $3 a month for, but they stopped mailing me bills and I forgot to go pay the bill, so they cut off the service. I really should go get it reinstated, but I never used it. About the only time I use the Samsung is to call my niece when I’m done with my monthly doctor’s appointment.

    2. katiebird

      I really only use my dumb phone for lg Octane for texting (do we need more eggs?) and parental emergencies. My 97 year old dad and 93 year old mom need to contact me anytime. But until their health started failing, I used to keep it turned off. I now sleep with it next to me which is stupid but I don’t know what else to do since they will not use my landline number.

    3. Lord Koos

      I don’t understand why this should be so — perhaps with older phones, but aren’t the more modern flip phones (they are still being made) equivalent to smart phones in the amount RF radiation they emit? I don’t see why there should be a difference if they use the same network?

      1. visitor

        It really depends on the maturity of the electronics implementing networking standards, how they are integrated, the kind of casing, the optimization of the protocol stack, etc. Yes, older phones usually have a higher SAR than new ones assuming they implement exactly the same networking standard — but that might not be the case if the newer phone also implements a newer fancy G standard. Or if the new phone has a metallic casing while the old one has a plastic one.

        If you understand a modicum of German, there is a practical site with extensive SAR statistics. It shows that, for instance, the iPhone 6S has lower SAR than iPhone 5, itself lower than 6S+, itself much lower than the iPhone 3GS and 4 (both with quite high SAR), but which are themselves still below iPhone 8 and 7.

        Thus, there is no direct rule older => higher SAR.

      2. oliverks

        I believe that the RF signal strength is regulated by the FCC on all cell phones. I would think that an older phone, without WiFi and Bluetooth, would actually emit less radiation.

        However, it could be the more modern phones can get by with lower transmit power more of the time. However, this only comes into play when you are talking on the phone, using mobile data, or when the phone is sending out a “ping”. So for those wanting to minimize exposure, turn off mobile data.

        So for katiebird, I wouldn’t be worried about the phone, I don’t think you are getting much radiation at all.

    4. Lee

      I have one of the dumbest smartphones available—an older Motorola. I got it because I’m far sighted and fat fingered so I can see and use the screen more easily than a push button keyboard. I do use a teeniny bit of data now and then, never approaching the max allowable per month. I talk on it and text all I need to for $40 per month with Consumer Cellular. Lately, I keep getting messages that my apps can’t be updated because I’m out of memory. I don’t care. I get another message that my data isn’t backed up. I don’t care.

  4. el_tel

    re: Fairytale of New York.

    I see only the BBC mentions the silly (and quickly reversed) decision to censor the words slut and faggot in 2007 (can’t help thinking of all the articles linked to by NC about identity politics absurdities!)

    It’s the only Christmas song I like, in fact the only one I can bear – something I believe a lot of Brits feel, judging by how ubiquitous it has become in shops these days….it seems to be displacing Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody”.

    1. Lee

      fag·got
      ˈfaɡət/Submit
      noun
      1.
      NORTH AMERICANinformaloffensive
      a male homosexual.
      2.
      a bundle of sticks or twigs bound together as fuel.

      At what point in time did #1 displace #2? I am also a bit miffed that the word “gay” was expropriated for identitarian purposes. How and when did that happen?

      [MARIA – Movie Lyrics]
      I feel pretty
      Oh, so pretty
      I feel pretty, and witty and gay
      And I pity
      Any girl who isn’t me today

      1. Oregoncharles

        the two meanings of “faggot” are connected, because homosexuals were burnt at the stake. That’s what faggots were used for. Hence, it’s an extremely hostile term, that apparently has been adopted in order to detoxify it.

        I’m also bothered by the new meaning of “gay;” it’s the key word of one of Yeats’s greatest poems, Lapis Lazuli, and it just doesn’t sound quite the same. MLTPB will appreciate the final stanzas:

        “Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
        Are carved in lapis lazuli,
        Over them flies a long-legged bird,
        A symbol of longevity;
        The third, doubtless a serving-man,
        Carries a musical instmment.

        Every discoloration of the stone,
        Every accidental crack or dent,
        Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
        Or lofty slope where it still snows
        Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
        Sweetens the little half-way house
        Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
        Delight to imagine them seated there;
        There, on the mountain and the sky,
        On all the tragic scene they stare.
        One asks for mournful melodies;
        Accomplished fingers begin to play.
        Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
        Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.
        William Butler Yeats

    2. Laughingsong

      When I moved to Ireland, I was astounded how this song was THE Christmas song, and every Christmas party I went to played it eventually…and everyone knew all the words, stopped whatever conversation they were having, to sing along. Not just the Irish either; at the time in Dublin there were many young Continentals working in Software Localisation and Call Centers for EMEA support, and they all knew the words too.

    3. anonymous

      So, the BBC is indirectly censoring Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native”:

      “The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread.”

      https://www.gutenberg.org/files/122/122-h/122-h.htm

  5. allan

    From “I’m A Brown Woman Who’s Breaking Up With The Democratic Party”:

    … My own “liberal” white congresswoman in Colorado has given me a hint as to why.

    At the congresswoman’s town hall in February, Neeti Pawar, the brown female founder of the South Asian Bar Association of Colorado, was one of the only people of color in a room of nearly a thousand. She asked about immigration and DACA protections. The congresswoman scoffed. When Pawar pressed on, she was told to remain silent or she’d be asked to leave. During a follow-up, staffers told Pawar that civil rights weren’t the representative’s “issue.” Brown and black people don’t have the luxury of sidelining civil rights. It’s life and death for us. …

    The congresswoman in question would be Diana DeGette (D-Denver), in a D+21 district.
    There is no excuse.

    1. John k

      No excuse needed. When you’re +21 you get to fearlessly be yourself.

      And the diff between dem and rep is the name.

  6. petal

    The Viking Coin article: A viking spear head was found in my hometown(southern shore of Lake Ontario) in the 20s. Questions remain how it got there-did the Vikings explore down the St. Lawrence River and into Lake Ontario and stopped off at the bay(still a great fishing spot and would have been also for hunting), or did they trade with the Native populations and it made its way down that way? Fascinating to think about, especially as a child playing on that very shoreline.

    And, I was reading my horoscope this morning(just for fun, I swear!) and saw that it is Harry Shearer’s birthday today. So, if you’re out there, sir, Happy Birthday!

    1. fresno dan

      petal
      December 23, 2017 at 8:33 am
      A Christmas tale….
      Happy birthday sir!!!! I was born on December 29. At my volunteer job* a client came in whose birthday is Dec 25, and I learned while talking to him, that our reception’s birthday is Dec 21. So, do you, like other near Christmas expulsion-from-the womb- nates, harbor unending resentment and bitterness for the lifetime of ignored parturition celebrations and the cheap b*stards who give “dual” presents that are meant to cover BOTH your, and the divine, birth?

      *And to add insult to injury, generally I felt two ways about my medicare volunteer time:
      1. enraged – at the byzantine and confusing process that is screwing people needlessly
      2. heartbroken – at the critical needs not met.
      now I get to add #3, humiliation – as practically everyone has a question I can’t figure the answer out to. As the client was born on Christmas, I thought this was an omen of a glad tidings – a nice easy appointment I could handle entirely on my own. and feel good about my contribution to human kind, and give the beneficiary good news….easy questions about Part B and Part D to celebrate Christmas.

      But nooooo – more a prophesy of Festivus…..a question about can Part B be dropped because the gentlemen had a family, and wanted to use the Part B premium so he could continue coverage for his family under Cobra (which is EXPENSIVE) but Cobra and Part B was too expensive. So the question was: Is Cobra under medicare considered equivalent to a “group health plan” from an employer with more than 20 employees and could you drop Part B and resume be insured under a “employer group health plan”?
      answer on Christmas….

    2. DJG

      petal: The article about the coin in Maine is interesting, although I get an underlying tone that somehow the coin isn’t supposed to be there. (And what’s with comment about the size of Skaare’s forehead? Does forehead have something to do with coin?)

      Not so long ago, I read Masters of Empire, which is about the influence of the Ojibwe peoples over the Great Lakes, which they controlled. So the trading routes would have been quite long, extending from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence well inland. The Ojibwe were champion canoeers–dozens of miles a day.

      So I am wondering if the site in Maine happens to be where the Ojibwe world, the Iroquois confederation, and the migrants from Greenland may have overlapped. In short, North American wasn’t impenetrable.

      As to horoscopes, natal horoscopes are best. So run your natal horoscope. There was enough going on natally that C.G. Jung used to run natal horoscopes for his patients as a diagnostic.

      Also, Mercury turned direct yesterday, so he’s busy fixing problems in the WWW.

    3. Wukchumni

      If somebody ever finds a few circa 200 AD cheap Roman bronze coins worth $5-10 each, in the High Sierra, I know who put them there, ha.

  7. fresno dan

    The Flood That Could Change Everything Weather Channel
    “Most people don’t use this number, but within 30 years, there’s a 1 in 4 (25%) chance that you will be flooded if you live within a 100-year floodplain,” Mierzwa said.
    Back to those maps, because understanding flood risk gets even more complicated once you know the true risk of living in a floodplain.
    Not all flooding is created equal, according to Mierzwa, because the depth of that flooding varies depending on topography and other factors. Those FEMA maps also show flood depth in addition to flood risk.
    For instance, the potential 500-year floods of the Central Valley are much deeper, up to 15 feet in places, than those in Southern California.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1862#Central_Valley
    ===========================================
    In 1861 the central valley became the central lake. I was astounded when I first read about the great flood. The fact that I have never experienced such an amount of rain doesn’t mean that it can’t happen….

    1. Tom_Doak

      Years ago on a project, I learned that 100-year floods are understated. The calculations start with the assumption that the ground was dry before the big rain, so that some of the rain will soak into the soil. If the ground is already saturated when the big rain occurs, the effects will be much greater, and that’s why you see a “100-year flood” more than once every 100 years.

      Why do they do the calculations this way? As the civil engineers explained to me, nobody wants to go to the expense to build up every building that much higher for something that only comes along once every 100 years.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Even more important is the invalid assumption of a gaussian normal “bell curve” distribution which underlies these 100-year flood calculations.

        It just ain’t so: like market crashes, both rain events and the floods they produce are “fat-tailed,” with periodic wild card events that can go five, six, eight standard deviations out on the skinny ends of the bell curve.

        As a result, the chance of being flooded is systematically understated. Moreover there is no bright line between at-risk and safe as the 100-year flood plain contour implies. If we had ten thousand years of good data plotted, the probability of flooding would gradually shade off with rising elevation.

        Feng shui says you want to live on the lower slope of a hill — not down in the bottomland, and not on top of the ridge where it’s too windy.

        The Brazos she’s runnin’ scared
        She heard the news
        Walk through the bottomland without no shoes

        — Lyle Lovett, Bottomland

        1. Help Me

          So what you are saying is that Black Swans might be migrating to a plain near you, or me!
          Gaak. Time to find those wades in the garage.

        2. Expat2Uruguay

          I find it hard to understand,
          From the article:

          In 2010, Ralph’s research revealed that the average AR forecast underestimated the amount of precipitation in these events by up to 50 percent.

          AR means Atmospheric River, but I can’t figure out how to square the circle between “average” and “up to”.

      2. Lord Koos

        With global warming/climate change becoming more evident every year, I think all bets are off concerning so-called 500 year, 100 year, 50 year events. 50 year events could start happening every 10 years, and more frequent hurricanes, storms, droughts and floods are a given.

        1. marieann

          Where I live in the southernmost tip of Ontario we made the record books with two hundred year rains in a 12 month period.
          So now I wonder if this means we will not get this again for 200 years or if this is the new normal.
          I’m betting the latter

      1. Wukchumni

        The Central Valley has been sinking on account of overdrafting caused by subsidence, as in those empty spaces in the aquifer where the water used to be is now filled in.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I’ve had that image on my computer for a long time now as it was so awesome. Because the land is now compressed, those aquifers cannot be filled anymore that page notes. Want to know what is funny? Imagine if you were from that area and you were showing a friend about. When asked where the family farm was located in your grandparents day and where were they living their lives, you would find yourself pointing about 30 feet up into the air!

    2. kgw

      From my earlier reading about the pre-european invasion history, the so-called Great Valley was actually a great marsh most of the time! Before all the rivers coming out of the Sierra Nevada were “tamed” by the invading europeans, the whole valley was nothing but a large lake and extensive marshes.

  8. tegnost

    As with he electoral college coming out of nowhere to surprise the silly con valley elite, now there’s this sudden and unforeseen weather event known as snow. When will these people catch a break?

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      😅 and this goes into the file to help me last until comments start up again in the New Year.

      pitch perfect

  9. laura

    My brothers could not convince me to call in sick at my grocery bagger job and go with them to see the Sex Pistols at Winterland. It profoundly changed their lives and the have been working as roadies since the 80’s. They’ve worked for rock and pop, jazz and punk bands and have travelled the world.
    The Sex Pistols literally changed the trajectory of their lives.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Louisiana, Sinking Fast, Prepares to Empty Out Its Coastal Plain

    Finally, some real good news. The sort of hard-headed, realistic way of operating that should be expected of all such governments. Looks like Louisiana saw which way things were going and decided to get way ahead of the curve. I feel sorry for those people having to consider moving but after the storms of the past decade, they too know what is coming. Hopefully the way that Louisiana is dealing with sea-level rising will form a template for all of the Gulf States – and beyond.

    1. ambrit

      They don’t call it Venice, Louisiana for nothing.
      This is early days for this project. If what happened in Coastal Mississippi after Katrina is any indication, the poor are going to be severely discommoded. Instead of buy outs, think force outs. Some money will come, er, flooding in, but not really enough to provide the needed resources for an orderly move. I see nothing about establishing new ‘colonia’ for the refugees to relocate to.
      The 800 pound gorilla lurking in the corners of the room is what to do with the oil and gas infrastructure in coastal Louisiana and offshore. Are the LNG terminals designed to function with peak sea level rise? How about access to all those production platforms and oil and gas hubs? One thing the Horizon disaster should have taught the ‘authorities’ is to expect the very worst, and plan for a factor further out in the damage scale. When you ‘trust’ the people who have the most to gain from cutting corners and ignoring safety, both human and ecological, concerns to run the enterprise, you must expect to be cheated, lied to, cozened, bribed, and fellated, or buggered. Need I say, expect one from Columns A, B, C, D, E, and F’ed, inclusive.
      As the saga of the shameful way in which Louisiana has treated Ivor Van Heerden after his valiant work concerning Hurricane Katrina shows, don’t expect a rush to redemption from the Bayou State.
      Van Heerden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivor_van_Heerden

      1. HotFlash

        When you ‘trust’ the people who have the most to gain from cutting corners and ignoring safety, both human and ecological, concerns to run the enterprise, you must expect to be cheated, lied to, cozened, bribed, and fellated, or buggered.

        Thank you, Ambrit, but I think you have omitted “left for dead” and “murdered”.

        1. ambrit

          Omitted by design Madame. One finds it extremely challenging to squeeze ‘wealth’ out of the defunct. If the ‘elites’ stand for anything, it is the concept of parasitism. As any good observer will have noted; dead hosts do not nourish parasites. Of course, this is thinking in a categorical plane. On the individual level, finititude is a constant. It is how one enters The Void that becomes an issue, but not for long, alas.
          Happy Topsy Turvy Holidays!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We’re not in his position to judge whether he could afford to go through the lawsuit financially,

        Van Heerden settled for $435,000. The university spent nearly a million dollars fighting the legal case.[10]

        Quotes[edit]
        “What bothers me the most is all the people who’ve died unnecessarily.”[11]when we read this from the Wiki article:

        The cause of their deaths was not determined and judged in a courtroom.

    2. Jim Haygood

      From the article:

      [Louisiana] could create a buyout program or eliminate the homestead exemption for homes in high-risk areas, which would mean higher property taxes for many residents.

      Louisiana’s current $75,000 homestead exemption hasn’t kept up with inflation. More than 35 years ago it was $50,000, but the CPI has more than tripled since then.

      The problem, of course, is funding: Louisiana is not a rich state, and like the other 49 states its state pension system is underfunded.

      Many folks in the swamps would simply pay their higher property tax after losing their homestead exemption, rather than leave. Buying them out — however sensible a policy it may be — just isn’t going to be fiscally feasible. The US has more important priorities, such as its permanent wars in the middle east.

      He’s settin’ traps in the swamp catchin’ anything he can
      Gotta make a living, he’s a Louisiana man
      Gotta make a living, he’s a Louisiana man

      — Doug Kershaw, Louisiana Man

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yeah, it’s all the fault of that underfunded state pension system. I can see that now. Or maybe the wrong kind of socialist Venezuelans have something to do with it…

        Not so sure if the folks in the swamps would care to pay higher property taxes on properties that will not so long from now be well and truly under water. Hard to maintain an amphibian lifestyle when there’s no place to “haul out.”

        And this is not like the Florida Land Booms. At least in those, before “climate change,” it was possible, after they paid prime prices for unseen or fraudulently presented marsh and swampland and wetlands, for the developers who foreclosed or bought out for peanuts the Norther suckers who bought the swamps in that Tulip Panic Market, to do some sand-moving, build those manifold peninsulas that are reminiscent of the villi in one’s bowels, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intestinal_villus, each with a nice “canal” out front on which to hang a dock on which to hang a nice consumer motorboat and jet ski and other combustoconsumptioin toys.

        Not going to work for the Cajuns and other swamp dwellers.

        The trick is to find a way to monetize the soon to be drowned lands. Maybe declare that these new ocean-fronting and -protecting areas can be taken for public benefit and then sold (proceeds of privatization to go to Legislative Pocket Funds) to some of those Banksters, who can then charge rent to all upland users for “protection” against flooding and storm surge: “Nice waterfront property you got there in Memphis — would be too bad if the drowned cypresses and new mangroves got cleared out and exposed you to the unkind elements…”

      2. Lord Koos

        I used to work with Doug Kershaw — he was a Louisiana man, but has lived in the Colorado foothills for the last 42 years. No floods for him!

  11. Marco

    “Boston-area paramedics on front lines of U.S. opioid crisis”

    Boston ain’t Appalachia. What’s going on here? Death’s of despair creeping into the heart of our wealthy coastal liberal enclaves. Is midwestern indistrial blight infecting the suburban / exurban Boston MSA?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It may have something to do with this, from a few days ago.

      The median net worth for non-immigrant African-American households in the Greater Boston region is $8, according to “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” a 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School.

      Why Boston?

      I don’t know…but every time I go near the Democratic voting coastal areas of Southern California, I notice people drive a lot more aggressively.

      Maybe they are so smart, so intelligent, so educated, that they know exactly how much spare room there is in every instance and they…don’t waste it.

      Only dumb people like me have to be…er, conservative (in my driving).

    2. HotFlash

      Death’s of despair creeping into the heart of our wealthy coastal liberal enclaves. Is midwestern industrial blight infecting the suburban / exurban Boston MSA?

      Well actually, yeah. People w/o jobs, lives, or family who want to and can support them may well move to the cities to get jobs, and if not that, support, that is, social services. It is pretty clear that there is *no hope* in their little towns. So they go to the cities, where there might be jobs, or soup kitchens, or places to stay the night. But what they may find is, drug dealers. Riffing off Wukchumni’s dystopian thought, this may not be a coincidence.

    3. Scott

      New Hampshire has had one of the highest rates of opioid deaths, and many of the drugs are the same as those used in Massachusetts. In general, they have come in through the poorer, secondary cities, rather than Boston itself. These cities, like Lawrence and New Bedford are very much struggling, with many of the residents sharing similar situations to rust belt counterparts. It’s worlds away from conditions in downtown Boston, Cambridge and the wealthy suburbs.

    4. Kurtismayfield

      The route 2 corridor could fit in more with upstate NY or Kentucky.. the economic hardship has been real, and so has the opiod deaths.. Once the Mills, GE, Simplex left town there was nothing left to do. Athol, Gardner, Turner’s Falls, Greenfield have all fell economically.

      Heroin article from Western Mass news

      Anthony Bourdain did an episode of him visiting Greenfield and talking to heroin addicts.

    5. marieann

      Aren’t all the deplorables in flyover country being told by the liberals to get off their lazy butts and move to where the jobs are.

      Perhaps they took that advice

      1. Marco

        That was kinda my original point. Our masters are quick to sing the glories of economic agglomeration and dynamism spewing good-paying jobs from the bowels or our wealthy high-tech-higher-ed engines of growth. How about we send all the addicts to Cambridge?

  12. uxxx

    re: okcupid

    Their article lists the #1 “lame name” as being of the form XXXXX + “cat”. (800,000+ users)….
    They fail to mention that adding “cat” to whatever you type in is one of the three automatic suggestions their site has made for years, when the name you typed in was already taken.

    Now you’ll have 1000 Jill’s and Joe’s, without any unique ID. I guess they’re competing with Tinder.

  13. Dan Lynch

    “Lambert here: If you don’t put the working class first, you’re not on the left. ”
    .
    Amen, brother. That’s what I’ve been saying for years.

  14. epynonymous

    “Barry and Joe”, featuring “mixed reality Neil Degrasse Tyson as their only guide”

    Hmm… Star Talk was good this week. I often tune in just long enough to see the topic and guests, but this week was a thoughtful series of interviews with black astronauts. Musing on the history of space and the loss of the shuttle program, etc.

    Side note, lots of UFO nonsense on ‘mainstream’ websites this week.

    Perhaps in response to the following story.

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/across-the-universe/2017/nov/20/interstellar-object-confirmed-to-be-from-another-solar-system

    The Guardian’s coverage is admirable. They admit the attached photo is just an artists impression, and even hint at the theory of Panspermia. Something Degrasse Tyson’s Cosmos covered as well.

    It’s a real oddity to see the edutainment surpass our educational system in this regards.

    Great reads all week everyone!

    -Best to you and yours

    1. Richard

      Will be happy to give the latest Adam Reid (Archer) project, the Obama/Biden buddy spy thing, a miss. Seriously. I used to watch Archer, and it could be real funny sometimes, but also firmly geared toward 25-40 year old males well in touch with their chauvinist Playboy mansion inner child.
      May his latest project be the tone deaf failure it so richly deserves to be! And, may I have the power of cancelling one or two shows a year by the force of my proclamations!

      1. Romancing The Loan

        It promises to be right up there with Where’s My Bush as fodder for future fraternity initiation rituals. With shrooms.

    2. Montanamaven d

      Well, my friends and I are pretty sure we saw a UFO in the early 1980s. It hovered over us and then took off in a flash. The sky was then filled with fighter jets. I don’t know if it was an Alien ship, but the fighters were after it. So I would prefer to believe that it was an Alien family come to Connecticut for the Autumn Color Tour as it was October. And I think Neil DT can be a bit full of himself. Of course, just an opinion.

  15. Mark P.

    Thanks for the link to the LSE ‘Banks are in danger of becoming utilities’ article with its concentration on mobile banking in Africa and the wider fintech implications.

    Interesting stuff that’s going to become more important as TPTB try to force the cashless society down our throats

  16. djrichard

    Bitcoin plummets, reveals Ponzi scheme traits

    Seems to me that our central bank rulers aren’t ready to take the punch bowl away yet. In which case they would describe this as a “wall of worry” for the market to climb.

    And don’t you worry, when they do take the punch bowl away, they’ll only allow some price discovery: to re-institute worry back into the marketplace. After all, they want price stability (at least when it comes to prices going down), not real price discovery.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      According to Wikipedia, Bitcoin is illegal in these countries (a partial list…please see the Wikipedia article):

      Morocco
      Bolivia
      Ecuador
      Kyrgystan
      Nepal

      According to Investopedia, these countries (among others) say no to Bitcoin

      Russia and China.

      The differences among various sites can be due to, among others, whether we are talking about individuals and institutions, and other details.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    More Media Malpractice in Russiagate The Nation. The term, “RussiaGate,” neatly begging the question as it does, finally seems to be getting traction, after a year. From the article: “But what exactly is Trump to protect us from? The basis for the ‘virtually uncontested truths’ of the year’s ‘biggest story’ remains the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s January 2017 report, which accused Russia of hacking Democratic e-mails and using social media to influence the 2016 election. Yet the report openly acknowledges that its conclusions are ‘not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.’ Nearly one year later, we have yet to see a shred of proof. What we have in its stead is a stream of Russiagate stories that make bombastic entrances only to quietly slink away. The pattern persists thanks to a media and political culture that embraces credulity and shuns accountability.

    And many news-consumers can’t get enough of it!!!

    My guess is another addiction epidemic.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Do your own research, this video is a great start, view this and then ask yourself in what sick parallel version of reality and for what truly sick agenda should the American public be urgently primed to view these people as our existential enemies.

        They are:
        1. Very Western
        2. Highly Civilized
        3. Mostly White
        4. Almost all Christians

        https://rtd.rt.com/films/dance-of-the-little-swans-extended/

    1. Olga

      I am pretty sure it was the fuhrer (or people around him) who said “a lie thousand time repeated becomes the truth.” Simply accepting what one hears, without what should be obvious questions, is a lot easier than thinking…

  18. fresno dan

    Trump replaces ‘E Pluribus Unum’ with ‘Make America Great Again’ on presidential coin Business Insider

    President Donald Trump has made several alterations to what is known as the presidential “challenge coin,” including replacing the US motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” with “Make America Great Again,” The Washington Post reported Friday.

    The Latin phrase, which appears on US currency, means “Out of many, one.” Now the challenge coin features the Trump campaign slogan on both sides.
    ===========================================================
    I thought that was a spoof – apparently it’s real???
    I am surprised the reverse wasn’t redesigned to say, “If you didn’t vote for me, up yours”

    Later that day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the fake press that only dirty mind in the gutter commies would whine “up yours” is a reference to the lower alimentary tract instead of obviously conveying the idea that people should elevate themselves to help make America great…again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe this one will be so rare and become highly collectible.

      That’d be great for its collectors.

    2. crittermom

      I, too, thought it was a spoof at first. Still shaking my head.
      The arrogance and absolute stupidity of putting his campaign slogan on the coin horrifies me, as it should everyone. Help me.

      1. blennylips

        Glad to help you crittermom! Step right up to the whitehousegiftshop.com, where a surprising number of Obama era tchotchke’s are left. I recommend this one, inspite of its “Very Slight Imperfection”:

        http://www.whitehousegiftshop.com/product-p/potustall.htm

        President Barack Obama Statue and Hologram with Seal of the President from the Official White House Gift Shop is designed by historical artist Anthony Giannini for our historical presidential gifts collection includes signed Certificate of Authenticity.
        Regular Price: $69.00
        Sale: $45.00

        Ain’t tradition grand!

  19. Pelham

    From the n+1 article: “To say that feminism is good for boys, that diversity makes a stronger team, or that collective liberation promises a greater, deeper freedom than the individual freedoms we know is comforting and true enough.”

    Comforting maybe but why is this necessarily true? Diversity, for instance, has been documented by sociologist Robert Putnam as leading to community dysfunction and distrust. The more diversity and the longer it lasts, the deeper the dysfunction and distrust.

    It seems to me that through most of human history we had these male-female and identity issues worked out pretty well. It’s only with the development of cities and then, later, industrialized capitalism that tensions were either created or heightened to an intolerable and ultimately irresolvable degree. Yet we appear more inclined to try to change human nature than to address the relatively recent and artificial institutions (such as capitalism and the legal system) that are the true sources of our misery.

    1. Lee

      If only men played their cards right they’d realize how good feminism could be for their lives in general and their sex lives in particular. Resistance may or may not be futile but it is certainly less enjoyable.

      1. Pelham

        My point dwelt on diversity. To the small but significant degree it has been studied it’s supposed benefits have been called into question.

        But I wonder whether Lee’s and similar assertions about feminism are true. Has there been any research to support or find flaws in it? There is one study that suggested sharing housework leads to better sex if both partners feel the share is justly divided. So there’s that.

        But I would argue this one outtake from feminism edges us back just a smidgen to a more natural state in which men and women worked as partners maintaining a home quite independent of a giant, hierarchical, urban-dominated, industrialized system in which it’s necessary for one or both partners to leave the home daily and perform some highly supervised and monotonous task just in order to have a home in the first place.

        If shared housework is a component of feminism, good. But as I see it, feminism in its essence also posits the hierarchical system described above and proceeds from there, embracing the notion that only a tiny few of us — regardless of sex — can be winners, the rest have to be losers and men now necessarily have to be losers a lot more often (hence, for instance, the focus on the “glass ceiling”). On the surface, this appears fair. But since we have to start from a place in which men have traditionally constituted most of the winners in this horrid system, I think the question of the wider consequences remains open.

        1. Lee

          I am not a great fan of feminism that supports and celebrates women ascending the neoliberal hierarchy, particularly when they end up doing pretty much the same thing as the men in those positions. I must admit that my second ex achieved such and ascension. Ffinancially it worked out ok for me. But on other fronts, results varied.

          Working class feminism, otoh, is another matter entirely. My first ex was one of the first female union electricians in our county. She shrugged off verbal harassment and if any guy tried to get physical with her I didn’t hear about it. Brave, or exceeding foolish, would be the man who would mess with a woman who could swing a hammer like her.

          More recently, there are some recent interesting developments on the Ford assembly line. Similarly, some decades ago I played a supporting role for union waitresses taking on a mob-connected union local head. The perpetrator, Ray Lane, made Harvey Weinstein look like a choir boy. The courage of these unfamous women who took him on was a thrilling thing to behold. Going up against Lane could in fact get you badly hurt or killed.
          http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1843108.html

          When we say “feminism” we must specify whose feminism, in what context, and toward what end.

          Cheers and Happy Holidays

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If we don’t have to worry about not getting or not being able to pay for, say, health insurance, life (during the day and at night) can be much, much better.

          And if we have time to grocery-shop everyday, and prepare every meals at time, we wouldn’t use as many styrofoam cups and pre-washed salad bags.

          Both require basic income for people to get enough free time.

      2. Oregoncharles

        I figured from the start that equality would be good for me, too, as well as for women I care about.

        That was a fairly common attitude among feminists early on; but I think it was easier to focus on the visible enemy. Not good politics, and not really popular with women, either.

        A lot of us come from the libertine 60’s and 70’s; alarmingly, the tide seems to be running the other way. Sigh.

  20. Wyoming

    Re: Life in a Mike Pence world

    “..For instance, a recent poll from The Economist found that young people (18-30) have some very strict ideas of what’s acceptable behavior. In the U.S., about one-third believe it’s sexual harassment for a non-partner to compliment a woman’s appearance. Similarly, 25 percent think it’s always or usually harassment if a man asks a woman out for a drink…”

    I know I am old and behind the times a bit. But is this not some version of insanity? I asked my daughter (who is admittedly 33 and thus ‘older’) what she thought of this and she said if a man doesn’t have the courage to ask her out or let her know that she is attractive to him there is no chance whatsoever that she would have any interest in him.

    I have always tried hard to treat women properly as by the time I was 20 I had learned that between my mother and 3 older sisters that 2 of them had been raped, 1 sexually assaulted and the last was thrown down the stairs when she was 6 months pregnant by her husband, and this pretty much horrified me. I don’t know what any of them would think of what is going on today as they are all gone now. But, my wife, who has also been raped, thinks what is going on with the harassment claims right now is way over the top. There is normal human interaction and there is … unacceptable behavior.

    As careful as I tried to be, by today’s standards I would not have been allowed to have a career or meaningful job, would have never met my wife (I saw her in a nightclub 38 years ago and commented on how much I liked her red dress :), and so on. Life would have sucked. Who wants to live the way these people think.

    It is not just politics which is broken in this world. It is just basic human interactions all together.

    1. Lee

      Recalling a conversation with a couples counselor way back in the 90s, he cited a phenomenon he had observed at high school dances. The girls sat in a row on one side of the dance floor, boys on the other. The boys would rise and cross the dance floor exercising what would appear to be male choice in asking a girl to dance. However, if one paid closer attention, they would observe that the girls were, for the most part, guiding the boys’ footsteps with their glances. A boy who asked a girl who did not meet his gaze risked disappointment.

      He also noticed that among long term couples at social gatherings that while the man might being doing most of the talking, gesticulating, and attracting the interest of those nearby, that the woman beside him, with light touches, facial expressions, brief verbal interjections would seem to be controlling or at least moderating the man’s behavior as a rider does a horse.

      1. Montanamaven

        Tucker Carlson who doesn’t agree with Matt Damon on anything and says Damon has a “weakness for silly fashionable politics” nevertheless defended him when he was attacked for saying that a slap on the butt is not the same as rape or child molestation. Some women are calling for him to be cut out of a scene in the upcoming “Oceans 8”. Yikes, calling Madame de Farge! Conservative talk show host Tammy Bruce, who loathes Damon, also came to his defense. Tucker defends Matt Damon

        1. Lee

          When will proportionality and situational context start being applied to these situations? Even the most heinous criminal offenses have degrees, fer crisakes!

          I got schooled once for slapping a woman on the butt. In my defense, she had just poked me in the ribs, laughed and ran away. In any event, the lesson I received from her boyfriend was short, sweet, to the point, completely private, and has stayed with me all these many years since: just because she pokes you in the ribs doesn’t in all instances mean you can slap her on the butt. Words to live by.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I’m not a woman, so, I can’t say.

          I’m not at present hungry either, so, I can’t comment on Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            You can, and must, comment on all such things, that’s how we create and manage that thing we call a “society”.

            Otherwise we all just retreat even further into the great “I”. “Every man for himself” does not a society make.

            Guiness Book of World Records, the world’s shortest poem:

            “I; we.”

            Author: Muhammed Ali

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Actually, I should amend that to say, while I am not hungry at this time, I had had moments before where I felt hunger…perhaps not to the extend Valjean did. So, the two are not totally comparable.

              As for whether we can comment if we have not direct experience, maybe this is relevant (from an article about Carpocrates):

              Freedom is obtained when one, by force of will, remembers our divine origin and remains steadfast in a state which can only be described as ?between the worlds.? Carpocrates recommends that one know life in all its eccentricities. When one comes to understand Everything, and has gained experience of the All, only then can the spark break free and become a consuming fire that burns away the iron bars and stone walls of our imprisonment?a painful, and torturous experience, a self-inflicted sacrifice for Love and Freedom.

              But I don’t entirely agree.

              Does one need to have murdered in order to understanding the entirety of that act?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was trying to work through a comparison case last night.

      Is there any difference between force to kiss someone to 1) get work and 2) carry out work.

      The first would for an actor/actress to kiss an unappealing movie producer to get a role, for example. We would say that is a forced kiss.

      The latter would be for an actor/actress to kiss another actor/actress (who he/she finds very unappealing) for a scene. It’s also a forced kiss.

      How many would say the second one is harassment?

      1. Lee

        My impression is that this sort of thing is generally in the script and agreed to before hand. I’m sure there are exceptions. I imagine it’s hard to get a role these days unless one is up for sex scenes and nudity. I’m sure a lot of actresses would kill for the role of Lisbeth Salander; woman as both victim and avenging angel, graphically portrayed.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The ideal artist should be uncompromising of his/her work.

          He/She may want to a role, but not necessarily agreeing with every scene.

          If inside, he/she doesn’t believe in it, then the kissing would be forced, tied to getting a job or performing a required duty at a job.

          “You have to kiss this person, allowed to be touched, in order to get this job.”

          We assume every time, every scene, every actor/actress is not repulsed by it. But is it really so?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And when done with superb acting, do we falsely become moved by that very victimizing act?

            “How lovely!” when in fact, one of them in the play is about ready to throw up?

            Are we implicated as well?

            I have so many questions, maybe I should go back to school and take a few modern feminism classes.

          2. Oregoncharles

            It’s a show business cliche that the hottest scenes were often between performers who didn’t like each other. Some famous heart-throbs, of both sexes turned out to be homosexual – Rock Hudson springs to mind.

            it’s called acting. Scenes like that are supposed to be in the original script, so the actors know what they’re getting into. Directors who push too hard or spring sex scenes on people get a bad reputation, and risk a blow-up in the midst of shooting the movie. And stars often have input on the script, even rewriting it.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I’m sure there are exceptions. I imagine it’s hard to get a role these days unless one is up for sex scenes and nudity.

                Those exceptions are likely the ones who ask to be heard.

                And the difficulty to get role unless one is up for it seems to say actors/actresses are being forced to do it. Are we talking about widespread exploitation? Perhaps I misread it.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A movie set is a work site.

              And if a worker, contract worker or independent contractor is forced to kiss someone* whom he/she otherwise wouldn’t (perhaps wouldn’t only 1% of the time, or less, when a co-star is concerned, and wouldn’t 99% of the time when a producer is the one in question), in order to pay food on the table, should we be concerned?

              *could be the co-star or the producer (the original question asked here).

              Is the difference here one of difference in percentage, 1% vs 99%?

    3. Oregoncharles

      ” she said if a man doesn’t have the courage to ask her out or let her know that she is attractive to him there is no chance whatsoever that she would have any interest in him.”
      Yes, that’s the norm, and a root part of the problem. Women normally INSIST, by their own inaction, that men take the initiative. LTPB’s high-school dance example shows how it’s supposed to work. It’s a test, of TWO things: first, male aggression – the very same aggression they complain about when he gets it wrong; and second, of the ability to modulate that aggression so she isn’t frightened or offended. She gets a lot of information from that test.

      The trouble is, the whole system depends crucially on men having the self-restraint or sensitivity to follow the rules. Her rules, which vary, so there’s considerable guess-work involved. That’s another part of the test. All mating rituals are tests of fitness, including human ones. Note that in this model, it’s her self-appointed job to decide which suitor she’ll accept. The model goes all the way back to the Odyssey, and probably farther. Actually, it’s deep biology, human version. So complaining because the wrong guy comes up to her is at best clueless. Yes, he’s supposed to be guided by cues from her – but it doesn’t always work. Some guys are bad at reading those cues, some women are bad at sending them, or there’s a mismatch.

      You’re right: I’m complaining about a system I always felt ill-suited for, though hindsight says I did OK. They were easier times. But this system is pre-feminist, to put it mildly. It’s very asymmetric, and courts failures, some of them very ugly.

      To be clear: most of the complaints I see strike me as legitimate. Grabbing somebody without the usual prior process is assault. It’s also very unlikely to get you laid. I guess I was a timid soul; I can’t even imagine doing some of the things I see described. And taking advantage of your power in the workplace is unforgivably slimy. But every once in a while, I think: but that’s what he’s supposed to do! It’s your job to tell him he got it wrong. If he doesn’t accept that, then you have a complaint.

      Overall, I’m of two minds about the new model embodied in those poll results and in the rules at a lot of colleges. On the one hand, I think they’re deeply unrealistic. And I wonder whether women are really going to want to live that way. with everything explicit. OTOH, theoretically they’d be a big improvement, with a lot less mystery over sexual interactions. If that’s what people really want. A lot of these changes were supposed to happen way back in the 70s, and didn’t.

      1. Lee

        Oregoncharles
        December 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm

        It’s your job to tell him he got it wrong. If he doesn’t accept that, then you have a complaint.

        It should always be fair to ask, with respect of course, and graciously take no for an answer. People need to get more relaxed about this stuff. Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’m not sure what stage of aging I’m at as described by Leonard Cohen, but I do know it’s much closer to the bottom than the top.

        You start off irresistible
        And, then you become resistible
        And then you become transparent
        Not exactly invisible but as if you are seen
        through old plastic.
        Then you actually do become invisible
        And then, and this is the most amazing transformation,
        You become repulsive.

        But that’s not, that’s not the end of the story.
        After repulsive then you become cute
        And that’s where I am.

        http://www.leonardcohen.it/discografia/cant-forget-a-souvenir-of-the-grand-tour/stages/

      2. kareninca

        ” she said if a man doesn’t have the courage to ask her out or let her know that she is attractive to him there is no chance whatsoever that she would have any interest in him.”

        I don’t get that. It seems easier to just ask a guy out if he is interesting. That’s what I always did, before I got married. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. If I hadn’t asked my husband out I’m certain he would never have asked me out, and that would have been a real shame. People are irrational.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Yes, I wondered about that. From my personal experience, on the very rare occasions someone propositioned me, she had 50% odds – which isn’t bad.

            I think they should get used to it.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Men, that is. Well, maybe both. Didn’t realize that was so ambiguous when I wrote it. It’s getting late, and I’m not a night owl like Yves.

          2. kareninca

            I’ll take your word for that. But I didn’t want to go out with the sort of guy who objected to being asked out, so it worked for me. If they didn’t like it and said no, that weeded them out, which was a plus. The guys who I asked out ended up suiting me infinitely better than the ones that asked me out, as it happened.

            But, I agree that if most men don’t like it, then one improves one’s odds by flirting and trying to get them to act. The thought gags me, but probably that’s just me.

    1. a different chris

      Intermittancy is just the return back to the front of an old aspect of life, not a “problem”. We don’t have to work on a schedule exactly mimic’ing the one we know. We know the Western way from barely the last 150 years… what percent of historically successful civilizations is that, really? 5%?

      We seem to do OK with the fact that corn doesn’t produce 365 days a year, so why do we need, just for instance, 20kwatts of electricity at our fingertips uninterrupted in homes that are often empty?

      And we have plenty of intermittancy — everything we transport with has a fuel tank, and when that fuel tank gets low we need to stop and refill it. We somehow survive that.

      Don’t be quick to let other people define the “problems” with, well really anything, they will screw you every time if you let them set the bounds for discussion.

  21. Ignim Brites

    “I’m A Brown Woman Who’s Breaking Up With The Democratic Party”. One can grasp the point without getting caught up in the praxis of historical and dialectical racism, which is where the dems seem to be headed.

  22. DJG

    Lambert Strether posts a series of articles about about RussiaGate and the bubbling swamp of Democratic / liberal-ish panic. I will add an article posted by Yves Smith a few days back. It is by the reliable and probably-too-methodical Jackson Lears.

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n01/jackson-lears/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-russian-hacking

    Way too many details. But, these days, that is where truth may lie.

    To quote Adorno (when he was in good mood):
    The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge…[marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.

    –Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life

  23. Marco

    The Bundy Mistrial. With the FBI posing as documentary film makers. Ugh!!!

    “Despite spending eight months and traveling to five states to interview people who were there for the standoff at the Bundy ranch, Johnson and his undercover FBI team never uncovered anything incriminating against Bundy and his sons. In fact, the best evidence they filmed came from a former FBI informant and Arizona militiaman, Greg Burleson, who said he had hoped for violence at the standoff.”

  24. Wukchumni

    The Flood That Could Change Everything Weather Channel
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Great article that focuses on the 1861-62 flooding event, but there have been a good many floods of much bigger size previously, the 1605 one was epic.

    Similar major floods happened in the California region in: 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418

    Notice the pattern, every 200 to 400 years or so?

    We’re due.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We are due a 200 to 400 year flood, on top of a big one due on San Andrea’s Fault, and on top of Global Warming.

      And should Mr. Kim be unhappy about anything from California, that’d be some convergence.

  25. fresno dan

    https://medium.com/@RosenthalHealth/how-economic-incentives-have-created-our-dysfunctional-us-medical-market-b681c51d6436

    More treatment is always better. Default to the most expensive option. The most expensive treatment for the most common benign type of skin cancer is a complex technique called Mohs surgery, in which skin is sliced off sequentially and analyzed after each cut. It is frequently followed by plastic surgery with resulting total charges often in the tens of thousands. Mohs can be highly useful in delicate areas like an eyelid, but it is now far more widely deployed. In most body locations such basal cell carcinomas can be cured with a host of cheap and quick treatments: burning, cautery, simple excision or applying a caustic cream. Nonetheless, the rate of using the expensive techniques rose 700 percent among Medicare beneficiaries between 1992 and 2009. The decision to use MOHs often likely reflects “the economic advantage to the provider rather than a substantial clinical advantage for the patient,” one prominent dermatologist told me.
    =================================
    Well, had to post this article because I had Mohs surgery despite the fact I didn’t want it. I’m not that pretty to begin with, and I don’t think most people pay that much attention to the top of people’s ears, and I’m not a professional ear model, but once my dermatologist’s office started doing Mohs, every little thing had to be excised with the utmost care….the doctors wear you down. And I have worked in the medical field….

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    These maps show how Americans are dying younger. It’s not just the opioid epidemic. Vox

    Americans are also getting wider, and compared to people in other countries, also getting shorter (not sure about comparing Americans today vs in the past time).

  27. rgf

    Banks ARE utilities.

    I’ve long since argued for the U.S. Post Office to become a bank. Strictly limited to offering transaction accounts with investments limited to U.S. Treasury Obligations of short maturity. Explicit backing of the Federal Government. As risk free as it can be made.

    As to the rest of the banking industry: Abolish all oversight and regulation and all government guarantees both explicit (FDIC insurance) and implicit (too big to fail).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What about the IRS as a bank?

      The service is already set up to serve (and catch) everyone.

  28. Jason Boxman

    For what it’s worth, OKC has essentially morphed into Tinder. No longer can you send a thoughtful message and hope, against the odds, that the recipient will read it amid a sea of others. Now it’s entirely up to your photos. But I think that was usually nearly always the case, anyway.

  29. fresno dan

    https://thebaffler.com/latest/american-pimps-hamilton

    The pimp has found the “girl” when she is young and vulnerable. He’s filled her mind with “air castles”—fantasizes about one day retiring comfortably. Eventually, she gets older and hipper and realizes it was all a ruse. *
    …..
    The Hobbesian nature of the game itself is leading players to see the connection between the owners’ fundamental indifference to their health and well-being and their status as black men whose health and well-being is of little import to the nation.**
    …..
    Iceberg Slim’s autobiography introduced the pimp to popular culture to some extent…..
    The pimp of Slim’s world is, on the surface, a lot like the television caricature, but the game, as it’s known, is sophisticated collusion.
    …..
    To own, in Trump’s estimation, is to dominate and to project power. The experience of watching him browbeat, fire, or disregard facts is vicarious and empowering to his supporters.

    The NFL player who sees a connection between himself and a poor kid in the ghetto appears nuts to many fans. But the working-class fan who thinks his interests align with those of billionaire owners is perfectly sane in their view.
    ============================
    * prostitutes, football players, and …maybe wage earners
    ** There has been plenty of growth in GDP for the last 50 years. Its a great grift to say that it has to be more than 3% GDP growth before the 90% can have any of it….

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump Administration to Grant Mining Leases That Will Benefit Landlord of President’s Daughter Ivanka Trump WSJ

    Even the rich rent?

  31. Jean

    “Almost 6 in 10 Americans have a favorable opinion about Joe Biden in a new CNN national poll…”

    What percentage of Americans have a student loan in arrears that they can never discharge in bankruptcy thanks to Joe Biden?

    https://www.democracynow.org/2015/10/20/joe_biden_for_president_media_buzz

    Please start a twitter feed on this subject. Spread the word. We have nephews who have been ruined for life financially because of the this pawn of profit sucking lenders.

  32. ambrit

    I’m not trying to hijack here but, has anyone else encountered problems with youtube lately?
    Now Google wants me to “sign in” to see my youtube lists etc. When I try to enter via Google, I’m stonewalled because I somehow disabled cookies from them. What a racket!
    “All you life be ours!”

    1. ambrit

      One of the three people who read my plaint must be a Google administrator. Thank you! This morning, my youtube “allowed” me to sign in. Using my Google password. Cookies be d—-d.
      As so many long in the tooth ‘action’ heroes utter, somewhere during an “action” sequence in a movie; “I’m getting too old for this s–t!”

  33. Lemmy Caution

    Thanks for the Biden article from Cillizza. The reason that Biden is “so hot right now” according to the article is his 60% favorability rating in a recent CNN poll. That makes him a top-tier candidate if he runs for president, according to Cillizza.
    The same poll, however, reveals that almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) said the country would be better off with more women in office.
    And that reveals Biden’s potential Achilles heel, says Cillizza. And what is that?

    “Because he is a 75-year-old white man considering a run for president amid the #metoo movement and a cultural awakening about the boorish — and in some cases criminal — behavior by men toward women in the workplace.”

    It was at this point that I did a classic spit take. Poor Joe’s only weakness is that he is an old white man — nary a mention of old Joe “Roman hands and Russian fingers” Biden and his penchant for inappropriate and downright creepy groping of women and girls during photos ops. Nice job, Chris!

    1. Montanamaven

      Cilliza’s job is to push the establishment’s narrative and candidate Joe Biden. Joe is “hot’ even if he’s 75 years old. No, he’s not hot and wasn’t when he was 27 or 40 or 52. He sold out college students and the middle class with The bankruptcy bill of 2005. He’s a fake populist. Ugh. But this is the best the craven Democrats can do. Double ugh.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        Yes, it’s the best the Democrats can do and the CNN cleaners are already busy at work trying to wipe away his inconvenient past behavior and voting record. You can tell that he’s running by the way the media is starting to fall in line.

        1. JBird

          But of course. Our political elites are making corrupt Banana Republics look honest, and they have the American Security State at their disposal.

  34. Oregoncharles

    From the sidebar of the “Banks Becoming Utilities” article: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2017/12/19/socially-responsible-investment-is-growing-at-a-fast-clip/

    This is something I’ve been wondering about: what became of socially responsible investing? According to the article, it’s alive and well, but I haven’t heard of it in years. I’d be very curious what Yves or some of our more financial commenters think about it. I haven’t read all of the article, which seems to be primarily about environmental investment, so I’m not vouching for it, but it raises the question.

  35. Oregoncharles

    From “I’m a Brown Woman Who’s Breaking Up withthe Democratic Party” – I’m all for that, but this is just stupid: “You continue to call angry white men who commit mass murder “lone wolves.” ” Really basic semantics: a “lone wolf” is someone who operates alone. White, brown, terrorist or merely insane: no help, he’s a lone wolf. Whereas, if he yells about Allah, that’s an indication that the motive is political, hence it’s “terrorism”. Bit of a silly distinction, but she’s complaining about standard usage. If she doesn’t understand that, she doesn’t understand much. TBF, I’ve seen the same complaint elsewhere, and it annoyed me then, too.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Mmm. She may have a point. Look at that guy who murdered all those people in Las Vegas. Whatever was going on in his little mind, he adopted pure terrorist tactics. The same way that right to life people did when they plant bombs at abortion clinics and then another near the evacuation point for that clinic. Or the Oklahama City bomber. There are many others.
      That is terrorism that. Religion is irrelevant here, ideology is irrelevant here, skin colour is irrelevant here, motivation is irrelevant too. Doesn’t matter if the guy shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘This is for my cause’ it is still terrorism due to its tactics. This is really a case of walks like a duck, quakes like a duck here. If you are trying to terrorize people, then by definition that is terrorism.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The tactics are the same (Paddock was unusually effective, short of 9/11), but the motive is different, and “terrorism” is defined almost entirely on the basis of motive. As I said, it’s a questionable distinction, but it’s standard. The same goes for “lone wolf.” A lot of the recent terrorists, like the ones using cars, are also “lone wolves.”

        You’re making a sound moral point, but it doesn’t change the usage.

        It makes a certain amount of sense: the Las Vegas shooting certainly terrorized the people he shot at, but affected only them Terrorism is intended to affect everyone, so there has to be a prospect that it will happen again, so everyone is looking over their shoulders. Paddock is dead; he won’t do it again. But I guess future music festivals might have a lower attendance.

      2. LifelongLib

        But if there is any value in distinguishing terrifying bad acts motivated by politics/ideology/religion from those motivated by purely personal predilections, we would just have to invent another term that means the same thing that “terrorism” generally does now. Why go to the trouble?

        1. JBird

          Regardless of how, where, and when the words “terrorism” and “terrorist” are reserved for that done for political reasons. There are legal, political, social, and even military connections, and actions, that are different for mere acts of violence than for acts of terror. Unless you are going to say that the military and not the police, Hellfire missiles without trial instead of a handcuffs and a trial, for all acts of violence especially murder are acts of terror, the definitions cannot, can not be expanded.

          It is unsatisfying because murder is terrifying but words, and their definitions, are important.

  36. Elizabeth Burton

    Regarding the acceptance of the term “Russiagate,” I’ve been watching how it gained a foothold. In the past, of course “–gate” has been applied to various scandals and thus became part of the general fund of language as shorthand for same. However, in this instance, I think we’re seeing a well-tuned application of Goebbels’ Law:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    In this case, we’re seeing the corollary, in which the lie is conflated with an actual event, thus placing the two on a level field. That Watergate and the later –gates were mostly actual crimes with actual evidence to support their occurrence, while “Russiagate” is a mile-high pile of allegations and hysterical rhetoric, is no longer of importance. “Russiagate” happened because it’s just like Watergate.

    I base this observation on responses I and other souls contradicting the whole narrative receive from the brainwashed, which tends to be precisely what I just stated. They will inevitably challenge one on the basis of whether one believes Watergate ever happened.

    I’ve reached the point in reviewing news for my own news site that any mention of “Russian interference” presented as unassailable fact is an automatic reject, unless the story in question is vital and unavailable elsewhere. If I have no such choice, I always add a disclaimer.

  37. Richard

    I don’t know if anyone saw it, but Jimmy Dore was on fire tonight about the Dems failure to meaningfully oppose Trump, where they had the votes to shut down the government in defense of DACA but declined to do so.
    Of course, handed a situation with a potential for great moral and political victory, the Dismals do exactly what they’re designed to do: fuck it up completly and shrug helplessly at their base. No wait, that was 8 years ago. Now it’s fuck it up completely and shame and gaslight their base.
    Excuse the f-bombs please. Democrats and Dore are to blame, no wait I am. Anyway, I just realized one of things I like so much about Jimmy Dore. I’ve been watching some Lee Camp (for the first time) lately, and that got me to thinking and comparing. I like them both, nothing against Camp at all. But one thing I notice about Dore that he really gives himself time to chew things over. He repeats himself a lot, pausing to shake his head, holding his head in his hands, slowly considering how fully he is family blogged. It’s way more improvisational than anything any other comedian does, in the way of journalism I mean. Which means we get to watch the spirit move him, when as a journalist he presents a story to us. It’s about as real as those things get. I meant to give a link, but it turns out I don’t know how! Just go find him on You Tube.

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