Links 12/26/17

Winter Wonders: The Remarkable Science Of Reindeer Forbes

Mice learn to avoid the rat race Nature

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data The Economist

Japan and South Korea at heart of cryptocurrency fever FT

Fearing huge liability for wine country fires, PG&E is suspending dividend payments Los Angeles Times. Still germane; see NC here and here.

The Dark Bounty of Texas Oil The New Yorker. Well worth a read, both for the Spindletop origin story, and for how fracking is causing a neoliberal epidemic of health problems.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality repeal sets up changes to internet Buffalo Business First. “Until now, companies haven’t been able to break up internet access into packages. ‘Now ISPs are free to modify that in any way that makes them money,’ [said Matthew Pelkey, a partner at Colligan Law LLP] said.” Well worth a read. First article I’ve seen in my travels that mentions the possibility of an injunction against Pai MR SUBLIMINAL It rhymes with Pay‘s order. That’s something an organization like the Internet Association has the clout (and the lawyers) to attempt. I don’t think Schneiderman has the stones.

What could net neutrality’s end mean for you? Futurity. This from Ryan Singel from the Stanford University Law School:

For the average American, what will the real-world effects of this ruling be?

SINGEL: The effects we’re likely to see will affect users secondarily. Verizon, for instance, can now go to a Yelp or a Netflix and say, “You need to pay us X amount of money per month, so your content loads for Verizon subscribers.” And there’s no other way for Netflix to get to Verizon subscribers except through Verizon, so they’ll be forced to pay. That cost will then get pushed onto people that subscribe to Netflix.

So what users do online will become more expensive, we’ll see fewer free things, and thus the internet will become more consolidated. Websites, blogs, and startups that don’t have the money to pay won’t survive. I like to think of it as the internet is going to get more boring.

Readers, your Congress Critters will be back in the district for the holidays; do feel free to visit their offices and share your view that you don’t want ginormous monopolies to make the Internet work — if “work” is the word I want — like cable. Also consider writing Letters to the Editor, far more effective than clicking on online petition. If there’s a protest at your local monopoly Internet supplier, considering joining it.

What Net Neutrality Really Means For You (And For Us) HuffPo. “[M]ajor ISPs will be able to promote the media companies they own — like this one — while punishing competitors’ offerings. That will force consumers, who often have no choice in internet service providers, into walled gardens of content that the ISPs create.” IMNSHO, the walled gardens are far more likely — and far, far worse — than occasional random acts of political censorship. Those sites like this can fight off — as long as net neutrality is in place.


Brexit studies were ‘being prepared’ a year before Davis said they didn’t exist Guardian

Brexit’s 2017 buzz-phrases Politico

Culture: The capital offences of Boris Johnson Morning Star. Points for using “lanyard” as a verb!

North Korea

Turning It Up to Eleven: Belligerent Rhetoric in North Korea’s Propaganda (PDF) Mason Richey, Parameters

China steeling for full-blown crisis on Korean Peninsula Nikkei Asian Review. Read all the way to the end.

Ghost ships: Bodies and boats unsettle Japanese community CNN. The North Koreans sold fishing rights to China.


Modi Is BJP’s Trump Card But Gujarat’s Rightward Tilt Is Thanks to Sardar Patel, Morarji and Munshi The Wire

How to understand modern India Marginal Revolution. I generally don’t find much of value at libertarian sites, but this post may interest J-LS.


The memes distracting China in 2017 reflected deep anxieties about haves and have-nots Quartz

Mystery buyer of Asia’s priciest flats on The Peak in Hong Kong is revealed South China Morning Post

China’s ‘pigless villages’ tame volatile pork cycle FT

China’s New Lenders Collect Invasive Data and Offer Billions. Beijing Is Worried. NYT

Youth in Taiwan embrace Taiwanese language and independent mind-set Nikkei Asian Review

New Cold War

Kremlin’s trolls marched across the Web as U.S. dithered WaPo. “Marched”? Marched? Like the 120,000 Union soldiers in Grant’s Overland campaign “marched”? And numbers? Effects? Couldn’t the FBI sources driving this story have provided their stenographers with any data? Or perhaps they did, and it was too pissant? Holy moley:

You can see the gaslight flickering on the garden walls, at twilight. It’s a warm, comfortable feeling, really.

* * *

Kremlin Sees ‘Unbearable’ Risk to U.S. Ties in New Sanctions Bloomberg. Now would be a great time for Putin to release the so-called “piss tape.”

No longer a ‘lonely battle’: How the campaign against the Mueller probe has taken hold WaPo

Whistleblower Guardian for Spies Escorted Out of Intelligence Agency Building Foreign Policy. Hmm…

Russia’s election commission bars Navalny presidential bid France24

The Fate of Social Democracy Is Being Decided in Germany Foreign Policy

Imperial Collapse Watch

Defense Department: The War On Terror Has Cost $250 Million A Day For 16 Years International Business Times. Ka-ching.

Puerto Ricans wait in darkness and desperation without power Chicago Tribune. To which NC recently drew attention. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Puerto Rico is simply being written off. I’m picturing the next recession, and goods gradually disappearing from the shelves in the more marginal areas of the flyover states. And then the fingerwagging: “Can’t they just move?” “Why not use GoFundMe for groceries?” And so forth. Not that I’m bitter or paranoid!

America’s Wars: Yet More Of More Of The Same? LobeLog (Re Silc).

Will the Center Hold? Larry Summers, Project Syndicate. Betteridge’s Law, example one.

The roots of Argentine street violence The Power and the Money

Trump Transition

Man says he delivered manure to Mnuchin to protest new U.S. tax law Reuters

Trump Tells Mar-a-Lago Crowd ‘You All Just Got a Lot Richer’ After Tax Bill New York Magazine (Re Silc). Refreshing! No complex, hard-to-understand metaphors like “I stand between you and the pitchforks”!

Trump’s busy Christmas Eve: calls to troops, talk of Santa AP. “Santa is going to treat you very well.”

In Honor of Donald Trump’s Big Tax Victory, Let’s Hear it for State-Level, Employer-Side Payroll Taxes! CEPR

Trump looks to seize political momentum in 2018 The Hill

Making Midterm Elections About Trump Is A Bad Idea, Rove Says NPR. The headline is deceptive; Rove is saying that rallies “cause [Trump] to be in a frame of mind where he tends to make mistakes.” What Trump should do: “[B]e out there extolling the virtues of that tax plan and explaining it, appearing at events that help demonstrate its value to the American people and American workers and American competitiveness.”

Sessions rescinds Justice Dept. letter asking courts to be wary of stiff fines and fees for poor defendants WaPo (Re Sillc).

Acquitted J20 Defendant Alexei Wood Talks About Conspiracy, Solidarity, and Kangaroo Courts The Progressive

Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Identify It’s A Wonderful Life as Communist Propaganda Open Culture. From 2014, still germane.

Health Care

ObamaCare proves surprisingly resilient The Hill

How Opaque Healthcare Pricing Mechanisms Rip Off Consumers Wolf Street (E. Mayer).

Our Famously Free Press

A year in fake news, and what to look forward to (or how to tune out) in 2018 Nieman Labs

Democrats in Disarray

Kicking Away Tiny Tim’s Crutch Because His Father Voted for Trump This Is So Gay

White college grads’ distaste for Trump hurt GOP in 2017. Will it flip control of Congress to Democrats in 2018? Los Angeles Times. Betteridge’s Law, example two. Still, one becomes awfully tired of this catering to aggrieved minorities….

Michael Dukakis’s Last Stand Boston. Even if Jesse Jackson had lost to Reagan, the Democrats would have been far better positioned on policy and with the base had they nominated him (before the Democrat base turned into the 10%, a la Thomas Frank). Instead of Jackson, the Democrat establishment engineered a bloodless technocrat — albeit a nice enough guy — ran against Reagan on “competence,” and ended up with nothing (except, of course, their own power and positions). And here we are!

Tom Morello: Making America Rage Again Portside. Rage Against the Machine was after my time….

Class Warfare

Unfairness, not inequality, is the real problem Angus Deaton, Straits Times

Diverting Class Warfare Into Generational Warfare Dean Baker, Truthout

Why are women losing retail jobs while men are gaining them? WaPo

Christmas tree cutters’ labor fight shines light on holiday season’s forgotten workers Guardian

Bonfire of the academies: Two professors on how leftist intolerance is killing higher education Washington Examiner. The role of the administration is interesting.

An ageing population and the end of inheritance FT

These charts show who you’ll spend your time with across your lifetime Quartz

Diary Alan Bennett, LBR. For 2017.

Ten Silver Linings in 2017 Council on Foreign Relations

Why things may be not be as bad as we think BBC. And then I tripped on the MagSafe-less powercord of my new Xmas MacBook Pro… Kidding!

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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.