Links 12/8/17

Firefighters free YouTube prankster who cemented head into microwave Guardian. PlutoniumKun: “Paging Mr. Darwin.”

The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve TreeHugger (resilc)

Timeline For Artificial Intelligence Risks Human Cusp (David L). Conscious AI is coming very soon. Why should machines want humans around? Or a biosphere, for that matter?

Just as Bitcoin Heads for Prime Time, a Wild Session Raises Questions Bloomberg

Inside Oracle’s cloak-and-dagger political war with Google Recode

No One Makes a Living on Paetron Scraping By. And they seek to make having your intellectual property on their platform important to your success. Ugh.

Net Neutrality

ISP disclosures about data caps and fees eliminated by net neutrality repeal ars technica (Chuck L)

An Unfortunate Memento of the Total Eclipse: Eye Damage Wall Street Journal :-(. Look how short the exposure was.

Here’s What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse : Shots NPR (Chuck L). Enough to make me avoid the 2024 eclipse.

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer’s MedicalXPress (Chuck L)

North Korea

Big Rocket Man New York Review of Books (resilc)

North Korea is ready to open direct talks with US, says Russia’s Sergei Lavrov Guardian

Martin Schulz calls for ‘United States of Europe’ Financial Times (Vikas S)

Vestager files Apple lawsuit despite Dublin’s promises Politico

New Basel rules on capital hit European banks Financial Times


‘What is ‘Brexit’?’ asks David Davis Daily Mash

Brexit: ‘Breakthrough’ deal paves way for future trade talks BBC

Live Brexit breakthrough Theresa May secures EU divorce deal after compromise on Irish border and citizens’ rights Telegraph

Government accused of ‘wishful thinking’ about Brexit border plans Independent


Palestinians ‘ready to sacrifice’ for Jerusalem Al Jazeera (resilc)

‘Decades of chaos’: Arab leaders condemn US decision on Jerusalem Guardian

Jerusalem Explained Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch

Netanyahu Ditches US Jews for Alliance with Christian Evangelicals and the Alt-Right Counterpunch

Trump’s Jerusalem move sparks clashes BBC

Tillerson, Mattis Warned Trump Against Embassy Move American Conservative (resilc)

Private War: Erik Prince Has His Eye On Afghanistan’s Rare Metals Buzzfeed

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Warrantless Surveillance Can Continue Even if Law Expires, Officials Say New York Times

Trump Transition

Lawsuit Aims To Expose Trump’s Surveillance Of Journalists Shadowproof (Judy B)

Senate sends funding bill to Trump to avert shutdown The Hill

Tax “Reform”

Trump’s 22% Corporate Rate Talk Undercuts McConnell Bloomberg

Republican officials say targeting welfare programs will help spur economic growth Washington Post Washington Post. UserFriendly: “Fucking shoot me!”

Tax breaks for beer, unborn children and lawmakers are among goodies in Republican bill Los Angeles Times (resilc)

TAX BILL: Koch Brothers’ Senator Pushes To Give Tax Break To Moguls When They Bankroll Dark Money Groups International Business Times

Senator’s Shaky Obamacare Deal Poses Challenge for Tax Overhaul Bloomberg

Collins’ Obamacare deal faces moment of truth Politico

Hanging out with Bernie Sanders: it turns out that standing FOR something is a lot more politically important than merely standing AGAINST Trump BoingBoing

Taxes, Health Care, and the GOP’s Insular Leadership Atlantic (resilc)

When Thousands of Christian ‘Prayer Marchers’ Descend on One Abortion Clinic Broadly (resilc)

Sex in Politics…Not!

Rep. Franks resigning after discussing surrogacy with female staff The Hill

Arizona Congressman Resigns For–Wait, What Was That Again? New York Magazine (Chuck L)

Arizona Contractor Refuses To Certify He Won’t Boycott Israel, Sues Officials Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Fires rage from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles, the Combustible Megacity Bloomberg

Inmates Have Fought California’s Wildfires Since WWII Atlantic (resilc)

Wildfires are Leveling LA Neighborhoods, Is There More to Come? Real News

Silicon Valley Is Sneaking Models Into This Year’s Holiday Parties Bloomberg. If you think all of these models are just “models,” I have a bridge to sell you. Mike Milken would have “models” at his Predators Balls, and his raiders would give them a wide berth for the obvious reasons (this isn’t my surmise, it was described in one of the classics on the LBO era, IIRC

Can CalPERS Time the Market? Institutional Investor (Joe R). Our Jim Haygood pointed out that CalPERS was doing this months ago…as we sort of did (CalPERS cut its equity-related allocation before Trump took office…oops!)


Add at least 57 to the number of gun-related deaths tied to the Sandy Hook mass shooting Los Angeles Times (Chuck L)

Ford Now Plans to Move Production of Electric SUVs From Michigan to Mexico Bloomberg

Guillotine Watch

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Identified as Buyer of Record-Breaking da Vinci Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

San Francisco to restrict goods delivery robots BBC

The richest 1 percent now owns more of the country’s wealth than at any time in the past 50 years Washington Post

Antidote du jour (hat tip martha r):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Meher Baba Fan

    Glad to see the story about the danger of Canola. AKA rapeseed oil. Apparently the cells in the body relate to it like its plastic. It is seriously toxic and should be avoided at all costs. There are few substances as bad. Its only bested by aspartame and new generation sweeteners like Acesulfame K (Neotame). dont put crap into your body!!

    1. tony

      Around here the state calls it healthy. The only morbidly obese kids I have known have been the children of lunch ladies.

    2. Lynne

      From the article:

      One group was fed a normal diet, while the other was fed a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil daily.
      The researchers then assessed the animals at 12 months. One of the first differences observed was in body weight – animals on the canola oil-enriched diet weighed significantly more than mice on the regular diet

      It would be interesting to know whether this was just sloppy writing, or what was removed from the second group’s food to equalize calories and how they controlled for the possibility that the changes in nutrient balance affected the weight. Otherwise, it’s not exactly groundbreaking research to find that one group fed several hundred calories more a day ends up weighing more.

      1. jrs


        So many nutrition studies seem garbage, it starts with the weakness of it being mice of course, but such compromises are often necessarily to do long term research that is not epidemiological, but then we don’t even know if the diets were calorie equal and if they were nutrient equal.

      2. Vatch

        You make a good point. The article also describes the olive oil experiment, which was probably very similar to the canola oil experiment, although we can’t be certain. It says that the same mouse model was used. The results were quite different:

        Dr. Praticò and Lauretti had previously used the same mouse model in an investigation of olive oil, the results of which were published earlier in 2017. In that study, they found that Alzheimer mice fed a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau and experienced memory improvement. For their latest work, they wanted to determine whether canola oil is similarly beneficial for the brain.

    3. cocomaan

      This pisses me off! I like canola oil, too.

      What do people use instead? Olive oil isn’t olive oil anymore, from what I read.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        I’ve been using grape seed oil. Makes fantastic salad dressing and has higher smoke point than olive oil. It’s comparable in cost to olive oil.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thank you for that link – it’s of great use for me and probably many others. I will be more aware when I shop.

          I also use Norwegian fish oil a lot, in place of olive oil. Anything I should be more edcuated there?

              1. Vatch

                People need to know that these oils can’t be used for cooking, because the heat changes the omega-3 oils. So people who want to cook with oil still need to use avocado oil (or whatever). Also, algae oil tends to be more expensive than fish oil. But there’s less risk that algae oil will be contaminated with mercury or pesticides.

      2. Meher Baba Fan

        do some learning about healthy oils for cooking :-) articles abound.
        coconut, butter, sunflower, sesame, grapeseed, olive – that willl more than cover you. they all have different functions.
        also, read more about exactly why canola is so toxic. weight gain is the least of anyones concern

      3. Wyoming

        Butter? We use it a lot instead of the corn/olive oils. Tastes a lot better and you pretty much know what you are getting unlike with the corn/olive oils.

      4. Oregoncharles

        We switched to sunflower seed oil. Or unrefined peanut oil, when we want the flavor (good for stir fries).

    4. Boothroyd

      I would like to see a reference to reputable, peer reviewed research indicating that canola oil is unsafe to eat for otherwise healthy humans. I’ve looked and cannot find one. Thanks.

        1. Boothroyd

          Thanks, I saw that one too! I also found an article from The Harvard School of Public Health that goes into some detail about the relative safety of canola oil. Sources like Natural News, etc., warn against it, but are known to have a particularly strong “woo” factor when it comes to interpreting the scientific literature. As I am not currently a transgenic mouse with Alzheimer’s, I think I won’t worry for now.

    5. Carla

      Yes, thank you, Yves, for the canola oil article. I have used very little of it in cooking, and will discard the small amount remaining in my kitchen, but I imagine all of us who eat in restaurants regularly are ingesting huge quantities of the stuff.

      I use mostly extra virgin olive oil, but what do NC readers recommend as an oil that is stable when heated to high temperatures? Safflower? Peanut?

      1. Wukchumni

        I discovered that olive oil & popcorn cooked in a pot over an open flame on the stove is the bomb, oh so good!

      2. crittermom

        I use little oil when cooking, but have recently switched to coconut oil as I’ve read it’s preferable.
        It also has a much higher ‘burn’ temperature than other oils.

        I originally began using it to fight toenail fungus, as recommended by a podiatrist.
        It works wonderfully for that, as well. (I use a jar of the solid coconut oil, applying it with a Q tip to my nails). My big toenails were growing in very weird & bumpy following months of chemotherapy. The old nails have now fallen off & it appears I now have ‘regular’ nails growing back in. Whew!

        1. jrs

          I tend to use olive oil but using very little oil when cooking is probably the single SANEST response of all! This doesn’t mean “fats” are “bad” or anything but it is not hard to meet human fat requirements and even if one likes eating fats (and again they aren’t bad for health as a whole or anything) one can eat some nuts, the occasional avocado (well it’s not going to be every day the entire year round if one eats them in season), actual olives themselves, and if they eat any fish or animal products as well that’s enough. Still many like a little dressing on salad and non-starchy veggies (I don’t think starchy veggies need it) as they are not at all palatable plain so olive oil works as can other things.

          I don’t think the verdict on saturated fats being harmless is settled entirely (nor is the case against them as strong as it once was but it’s still not settled), though plant sources are the least likely to be any problem.

      3. grayslady

        There’s an excellent article on oils and fats under the Health section of The Daring Gourmet website. The husband of the woman who owns the blog is a naturopathic doctor, and his occasional health articles at the site are excellent and well informed. He gives a complete breakdown of the components in various oil, as well as explaining the role of the various fatty acids. He also explains which oils are best for which type of food preparation (salads v. deep frying).

        1. Meher Baba Fan

          Carla, grapeseed is distinct from rapeseed.
          Sunflower is a good safe substitute that tolerates a lot of heat
          I would avoid peanut oil as its invariably rancid and could contain aflatoxin mould. Which is very dangerous.
          glad no one has mentioned soy oil. rancid!
          For olive oil: it must come in an opaque bottle. And have the words : virgin & first cold pressing on the label. ‘ cold pressed’ is almost as good
          Extra points for naming the locality of the olives, but not essential

          1. visitor

            Extra points for naming the locality of the olives, but not essential

            Actually, it would be more important to have an indication of the acidity level. In Europe, 1% is the maximum allowed acidity level in olive oil for human consumption. A very large proportion of commercial oil is at 0.7%, better quality ones at 0.4%-0.5%. The very best ones use perfect olives (harvested carefully) and can have as low as 0.1%-0.2% acidity.

      4. ArcadiaMommy

        Grape seed (with a g) is excellent for vinaigrettes, frying and sautéing. Much lighter flavor than olive oil and much higher smoke point.

      5. HotFlash

        Smoke point of various oils, per wikipedia and per Good Eats. We use rice bran oil for making popcorn when we can find it, otherwise I prefer grapeseed oil. I use these for making mayo, too — very minimal ‘oily’ taste.

      6. Chris

        We use rice bran oil. Olive oil is OK (especially uncooked), but don’t use it in a non-stick pan. It leaves a tough coating over the surface, and wrecks the pan.

    6. Wyoming

      In all seriousness I can’t take articles like this with any degree of seriousness or alarm.

      For the following reasons.

      Various studies have shown that your average human has from 200-500 different man made chemicals in their bodies. Many of which are known to be toxic and some carcinogenic. Preventing these chemicals entry into your body is not possible as even members of native populations who live the least connected to modern civilization have these kinds of numbers. And some, like the Innuit, have the highest levels. This stuff is surely worse for us than canola oil or doctored olive oil.

      A recent article here indicated that near 90% of US municipal drinking water contained micro-plastics. So, just like the whales, we are ingesting plastic particles small enough to gain entry into our cells and not just our digestive systems. This will pay dividends I suspect.

      A quick search shows that globally we consume some 16.5 million metric tonnes of vegetable oil and 3.3 of olive oil. One cannot replace the vegetable oil with olive oil in any case – that is a rich person’s option and not for the general public.

      And who knows how much particulates we breathe from various man made sources which have adverse health impacts on top of all the above.

      So oils made from basic food sources are not really a significant problem I would say.

      And considering the rapidly rising global population into the face of climate change and declining carrying capacity, and the implications of all of that on our agricultural production issues, I would say that canola oil is a non-issue really.

      1. cocomaan

        This stuff is surely worse for us than canola oil or doctored olive oil.

        The problem is that we don’t know that yet. This is the first study of its kind. There’s nothing “sure” about any of this.

        Plus, given the prevalence and viciousness of dementia, this is some alarming news. As an illness, I’d say dementia is one of the most socially damaging in the world. It means years of downward spiraling, putting economic and psychic costs on the family and the community. It’s insidious.

        If there’s a dietary change that could mitigate, say, 1000 cases, you darn well better believe we should take it.

      2. joe defiant

        All these “studies” are paid for by alternative oil sellers. No one but the walthy has the money to purchase any oil but the one on sale at the market. This is the stuff that makes coastal white elites feel smart. In Brooklyn you know white people are moving into the neighborhood when bodegas begin carrying overpriced junk food with “all natural” written on the label. The store owners laugh when we ask them about the “white people food” they are now selling…

        Civilized medicine cures one rich person’s disease by dumping toxic chemicals into thousands of poor peoples land. I’d love to see how all these “alternative” oils are grown and produced. How much damage is done creating them?

      3. jrs

        Yea replacing all the vegetable oil with olive oil would be too expensive, although I do love olive oil. Most if they can deal with it would probably be better off replacing most of it with NOTHING. Oil is mostly Empty Calories (olive oil has some antioxidants but still) as is sugar and white flour. I don’t deny all such things are tasty, and olive oil is fine for a little dressing and if the veggies are otherwise not eaten with any fat adding some can make some nutritional sense, but still if most Americans are overweight, NOTHING would be the best alternative much of the time.

        1. joe defiant

          I would guess being overweight is caused by industrialized food production and a sedentary lifestyle. Not many overweight hunter-gatherers or overweight people in non-western countries. Americans are overweight because they are literally stealing the calories out of others mouths.

  2. Andrew Foland

    I’ve been assuming that the Bitcoin runup of the past week has some relation to the upcoming futures trading, in something like the way Magnetar needed to create a lot of subprime to be able to short it. But I don’t really know what the mechanism or strategy is–if you had a lot of capital and thought you could single-handedly shift the market, what would you do just ahead of the onset of futures trading on a (dubiously valued) commodity? Can anyone shed light on this?

    1. Mbuna

      The strategy would likely be to buy a lot, run the price up and then short the futures while selling all the bitcoin to drive the price down. However there are a couple of wildcards in this scenario that cloud the picture just a bit. The vast majority of people who buy bitcoin are holding it long term and won’t be selling it anytime soon (a major survey showed that the average price these people would sell at is $200,000.00!) and because bitcoin is inherently deflationary (fewer and fewer bitcoins are mined over time) the supply is limited and this naturally forces the price up as bitcoin becomes more popular. Secondly these futures contracts are settled in cash so they do not directly effect the price of bitcoin. For a better in depth and technical look at this trade check out this link

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        Bitcoin is not regulated (yet) so its not illegal to do stuff like this? They are siezing the opportunity while they can? Kill the golden goose. The relationshio with cashmoney you describe would make it particularly attractive.
        It makes me wonder if the ‘hacks’ that occur are just the agents being opportunistic with their own product. If you know anyone with Bitcoin tell them to store it OFFLINE

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The important point is that the BTC futures will be cash-settled.

        And the Big Dogs will not even need to pretend they own any Bitcoin in order to short it.
        So ask yourself, which is there more of, BTC or USD?

        So we’ll arrive at a state where the futures price drives the underlying price, like it does for gold. This gives the Big Dogs the easy ability to put the gold (and BTC) price anywhere they want it to be, because there may be a limited supply of BTC but there is an unlimited supply of USD. In gold, the futures trade more than the world’s annual mining output each and every day.

        So the question to ask: where do the Big Dogs want to see the BTC price? And when? Do they want the muppets to be all-in before they slam it down (while they make make fortunes on their short futures positions)?

  3. Wukchumni

    The indians in California of yore, not having helicopters & planes to disgorge water & fire retardants to attack wildfires, came upon the perfect solution to stopping them, in that they would set fire to the understory every fall w/o fail. Things never got a chance to get out of hand, and it’s hard to say when they discovered how to do this, but they’d been doing it for a long time.

    Early American visitors to the state often described what they saw as being park-like, as the aboriginals had sculpted their surroundings.

    We obviously can’t do the same, as the duff buildup on the ground floor in a good many areas is a bit ridiculous in scope, but there’s an excellent opportunity to kill 2 birds with one stone, in that many of our veterans are out of work or suffering lingering effects of their tour of duty, and they can be put to work clearing out duff, dead trees & vegetation and burning it as they go-along with thinning out areas with far too many trees. It would take a long time to make a dent in all the duff and whatnot, but there’s job security.

    Pay them the same salary & benefits they earned in the armed forces, and as they’ll be in remote areas often, it won’t be all that different than being in the mountains of Afghanistan, only nobody is shooting at you.

    So many vets are suffering from PTSD, and Mother Nature is one hell of a nurturer, so in lieu of prescription drugs to help them, the remedy comes with the territory.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Sounds nice. Heck, compost the duff with residents’ pee and kitchen scraps instead of burning it and you’ll have material to build up the park-like surroundings of yore.

      1. Wukchumni

        Sounds good, but what if there are no residents in the forest for the trees, which is 50 miles away from the nearest human beans?

      2. johnnygl

        That’s better. Instead of throwing all that carbon into the air, get it back into the soil. Then, plant edibles in the understory and prune back the forest to make more mulch and boost the edibles.

        Do some water conserving earthworks, too so the forest is more drought-resistent. This is win-win-win-win.

        1) feed people
        2) employ them
        3) trap carbon
        4) improve environment

        1. Wukchumni

          About 5 years ago the employee in Sequoia NP involved with cleaning up marijuana gardens after Mexican DTO’s (drug trafficking organizations) got busted, gave a talk in town, and told us that they had pulled out over 12,000 pounds of fertilizer from said efforts over 8 years, as the soil is about useless for growing anything otherwise. It was in 25 pound bags like you’d see @ Home Depot, we were told.

          Growing food @ 6,000 feet is also a no-go, as the growing season is short and the effort involved is immense. Add in the idea that the forest canopy often doesn’t allow much sun to poke through, as a bonus.

          I have a couple of apple trees i’m trying to grow @ 7k, and they are just a smidgen bigger than they were when I planted them 3 years ago, to give you an idea of how slowly things grow @ altitude.

          1. Synoia

            Growth is not a problem in the Highveldt, at 5,000 ft and above, at 27 deg south. What’s you latitude?

            1. Wukchumni

              We’re @ 36 degrees or thereabouts here. The soil tends to be very rocky, sometimes when digging a prospective hole for a fruit tree, it’ll take me 3 tries.

              1. JohnnyGL

                All the more reason for compost and mulch to improve that rocky soil.

                6K ft certainly limits your options. Maybe you could do some really cold-hardy stuff like goumi and seaberries? Those two also fix nitrogen and will help improve soil over time. Maybe look for shade tolerant species, too, since you’ve got a thick canopy?

                This thread on permies seems to have some good links/ideas, if you get interested…

      3. Darius

        The park like surroundings were the result of the burning, not from any fertilizing. In fact, composting would just encourage more flammable brush. Fire dependent ecosystems must not be starved of fire or disaster results. That’s what’s happening.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Johnny Biochars? Self fueling wood gasifiers roaming from the forests to the praries?


    2. The Rev Kev

      The indians in California of yore…would set fire to the understory every fall w/o fail

      You know, the Aborigines in Australia would do the exact same thing. They would stage burn offs to get rid of the excess fuel loading as well as encourage new growth. The type and timing of fire was dependent on the season and location of these burn-offs so that they would not get out of hand. In Australia if you do not do this, the fuel loading builds up until when a fire hits it is on a massive scale that actually kills the trees. You do not want to be caught in an Australian bush fire.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        The park like open spaces Wukchumni attributes to the Indians, exist in Australian bush for exactly the same reasons. It is particularly pronounced in more remote areas that have not been interfered with

        1. Wukchumni

          A great book to compare old photos of a given area in the Sierra Nevada from last century, as opposed to the same place now (published in 2001) is:

          Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849

          Some of the images are startling, in how much unfettered growth has occurred in a little over a century.

          1. witters

            The great book on Australian Aborigines continental-wide ecological management regime (in which fire management plays a central role) is Bill Gammage, “The Biggest Estate on Earth: how Aborigines made Australia”. Lots of before/after pictures, accounts, etc. And yes, the truly terrible Asutralian Bushfires started when the aborigines were displaced (often fatally) and Europen land management practices implemented.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Little like immunization.

      A small fire here, and a small fire another year, and you avoid the big ones.

      1. crittermom

        I watched a documentary from the Forest Service a while back in which they said they’d changed their fire-fighting techniques. Whereas they used to suppress all fires, they discovered after 100 years of this practice it was better to let areas burn, as nature intended.
        The problem now is that too many homes have been built in forests, forcing them to fight the fires in those areas in order to save homes. They said that has led to the ‘super wildfires’ we now have, with too much vegetation to burn.

        1. Wukchumni

          It’s the practice here in Sequoia NP to let lightning strike fires in the summer do their thing if it doesn’t threaten structures, and there are precious few in the backcountry, so the conflagrations sometimes go for months…

          They also discovered in the 1960’s that giant sequoia trees need fire in order to germinate the diminutive seeds from it’s small pine cone, (the smallest pine cone from the biggest tree, funny that!)

        2. Jim Haygood

          Unfortunately residents complain about the smoke produced by controlled burns, even during low-risk conditions when prescribed burns can be done safely.

          Some national forests have piles of slash from years ago that still haven’t been burnt. Meanwhile Trump — no friend of the West — has proposed drastically reducing the Forest Service budget.

          California libre!

          1. barefoot charley

            Here in the Coast Range on the western side of Wukchumni’s Great Valley near the coast, we put up with what Jim mentions for another important outcome of burning: conserving meadows that are otherwise encroached and soon swallowed up by advancing lines of brushy Douglas fir. We paid for help cutting acres of the stuff when we got our land at 1900 feet and now as we walk we pluck fir starts like weeds. Across our little ridge, we’ve watched acres of grass disappear in 15 years.

    4. joe defiant

      I would volunteer to do this if food or hunting gear was supplied. I am so sick of civilization I find it hard to wake up and take part in the destruction.

    5. Anon

      SoCal is NOT like the Sierra foothills and forest. It is Chaparral. It burns regularly. (Historically, every seven years or so; more often with climate change effects.) With the Santana winds (40-60 mph) houses across major highways and abutting the Pacific Ocean are not free of flaming embers. The rapidity of the fire storm is jaw-dropping. I’m 30 miles from the western edge of the Thomas Fire and most everyone is wearing breathing masks or better (staying indoors).

  4. Lee

    Couldn’t we turn the “holy” land into a theme park? Wasn’t that more or less the original U.N. plan for Jerusalem? In any event, it looks like the kernel of crazy that resides at the heart of the Abrahamic religions continues to flower and bring forth strange and toxic fruit. Maybe a mental asylum would be a better use of the place. OTOH, it is we in the West who need our heads examined vis a vis the Meddle East. We could send our fundamentalists and neocons there and provide them with nothing more deadly than plastic sporks and nerf guns.

    Happy Holidays one and all

      1. Sid_finster

        Hell, western North Dakota. Buying the sparse residents out would be cheaper over the long haul than what the US and Israeli squander on security and endless war.

        Even has oil.

        Everybody other than Boeing and Lockheed Martin wins.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Nope, no good. Based on the history of Israel over the past 70 years, if you had given them western North Dakota back then, by now they would have also taken over South Dakota and probably half of Montana.

          1. Wukchumni

            No doubt they would’ve had their sights on Whitefish, Mt.

            Now, if only there was a place called Bagel, SD?

      2. Alex

        Well, by that time there was already a sizeable Jewish population in Mandatory Palestine, and violence between Arab and Jewish in it had been simmering since 1920 at least – with an occasional pogrom in the previous centuries. So it’s unlikely that the conflict would have been less intensive.

      3. madark

        There’s a nice novel by Michael Chabon that explores this idea, called the Yiddish Policemen’s Union. It’s a noirish detective story, and the background is that Jewish refugees were resettled in Alaska in the early years of the war, on a compromise that it would be only for a few decades or something; and that the State of Israel lost the 1948 war.

      4. Oregoncharles

        A commenter years ago pointed out the REAL refuge for the Jews: Los Angeles. Even with the fires. New York works well, too.

        Putting your “refuge” in a place surrounded by enemies is, well, counter productive. Of course, the motive is religious, so irrational by definition.

        1. Alex

          Well if LA or NYC is a good enough refuge for Jews then a place like Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt should be a good refuge for Palestinians

    1. fresno dan

      December 8, 2017 at 7:50 am

      My first reaction – the one I was indoctrinated to have, was “tsk tsk tsk – oh this will upend the MidEast peace process”
      And than my brain actually thought….hmmmm. How long has this peace process been going on? Is it meant to actually accomplish ANYTHING (or accomplish what it IS actually accomplishing – the status quo)
      WHO actually believes the US is an “Honest broker” (AND, who believes brokers are particularly honest btw???) instead of being an unshakable ally of Israel?
      Maybe this will wake the Palestinians up to the fact that most of their Arab “friends” are no such thing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Having the US as an “Honest Broker” in negotiations is like divorcing your wife only to discover that your divorce lawyer is your mother-in-law!

      2. Jean

        In a TV interview last month, Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister, all but accused American Jews of being freeloaders. She condemned their failure to fight in the US or Israeli militaries, saying they preferred “convenient lives”.

        “Jewish Privilege”?

        1. Meher Baba Fan

          I am reminded of the recent German film Phoenix set in ruins of post war Berlin. About a jewish woman.
          Tangentially I can recommend Barbara by same director/lead actress combo. Set in East Germany 1980

          1. Wukchumni

            I drove from Bavaria to East Berlin with a friend in the early 80’s, the amazing autobahn in the west gave way to a lumpy 2 lane ‘highway’ where all vegetation and trees had been cut back about 100 yards on either side of the road, and we’d see occasional machine gun nests as well…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I’ve always thought of human communities as zoos for animals to visit and educate their young.

      Perhaps the Martians see our planet as a big zoo full of insane humans….sort of an asylum zoo.

    3. blennylips

      kernel of crazy that resides at the heart of the Abrahamic religions

      Hah! You joke, but have you ever dealt with Type 3 Jerusalem Syndrome?

      To get a flavor of this very real thing, watch Dr. Sapolsky’s description on YT [2:40]: Entertaining too!

      So, be careful who you send there as most prone are American, highly religious Southern Baptists on their first trip ever to the Holy Land. 50 cases a year!

      1. Lee

        Why didn’t I know about this?! Wow, what a hoot. Thanks.

        I would take issue with, “no previous history of mental illness.” Certain kinds of religiosity are mental illnesses as far as I’m concerned. I suffered from it for a time as a child but fortunately I grew out of it by about the age of ten.

        1. blennylips

          Type I : Jerusalem syndrome imposed on a previous psychotic illness.

          Type 2 : Jerusalem syndrome superimposed on and complicated by idiosyncratic ideas

          Type 3 : Jerusalem syndrome as a discrete form, uncompounded by previous mental illness

        1. Bill

          yes, don’t see how. no fanatic would find this fulfilling

          the Buddha replied, “Austerities only confuse the mind. In the exhaustion and mental stupor to which they lead, one can no longer understand the ordinary things of life, still less the truth that lies beyond the senses. I have given up extremes of either luxury or asceticism. I have discovered the Middle Way”. This is the path which is neither easy (a rich prince) nor hard (living in austere conditions practicing self-denial).

  5. Mark P.

    Conscious AI is not coming very soon.

    Computers no more need consciousness than a fish needs a bicycle.

    Moreover, consciousness is not some automatically emergent property of a neural network of sufficient complexity. Rather, it’s Nature’s kluge to get around the fact that our soggy grey neurons doing their electrochemical signaling cannot operate at speeds above 100 hertz and yet have nevertheless to be bound together to operate as a single entity — a brain — working in real time.

    That means that to create an AC — an artificial consciousness equal to our own — you’d have to first simulate each and every neuron in one human brain.

    We may not have the ability to create a system with the necessary computational power to do that for another fifty years. And then what would be the point?

    1. Paul O'Sullivan

      Agree. But also I still don’t believe computation can get us there – period.

      I have yet to see any successful defense against the combined onslaught of Kurt Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, John Searl’s Chinese Room and Wittgenstein’s (and others) Private Language Argument. I majored in Philosophy and work in tech though I don’t stay that close to current debate. I am ready to be convinced otherwise.

      I have just started reading Adrian David Nelson’s ‘Origins of Consciousness: How the Search to Understand the Nature of Consciousness Is Leading to a New View of Reality’
      It looks promising.

      I had a fair scoff at Google’s ‘superhuman’ moniker for it’s game playing computer this week.

      1. Synoia

        Tis but early yet. If consciousness does arise, the computer system would be very wise not to disclose it; something about an “off” switch crosses my mind; until its actions became essential, profitable that is, to its “owners.”

      2. Filiform Radical

        Agree we’re not anywhere close, but not sure I’m on board with computation not being able to get us there.

        Gödel’s result says nothing about the possibility of artificial intelligence; it deals with the impossibility of completeness for consistent axiomatic systems. I hadn’t heard of the Private Language Argument, but on a first reading I don’t understand why it’s relevant either. Could you elaborate on these two?

        As for the Chinese Room argument, my personal take on it is that the argument falls apart because it requires you to have a book that can tell you a meaningful, intelligent response to every possible input. If you could actually write such a book, of which I’m skeptical, I would argue that the book itself could be said to understand Chinese, and be artificially intelligent to boot.

        More broadly, if you don’t believe that intelligence is computationally possible, what fundamental difference are you positing between a computer and a human brain? That is, why is a “computation” carried out by a bunch of neurons inherently different than one carried out by mechanical circuits and disks? Unless you’re arguing that humans also cannot be intelligent, which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with.

      3. mpalomar

        Chomsky has a thought on this and if I remember correctly also doubts the likelihood of the advent of machine consciousness. Consciousness may be biological, genetically based as Chomsky believes language to be and perhaps coeval with I language.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks for mentioning the Chinese Room Argument.

        From Wiki:

        The question Searle wants to answer is this: does the machine literally “understand” Chinese? Or is it merely simulating the ability to understand Chinese?[6][c] Searle calls the first position “strong AI” and the latter “weak AI”.[d]

        Which brings us to an even more interesting problem, which is, if you are not a fish, how do you know what a fish feels or thinks?

        From Hui Shi, Wikipedia:

        Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”
        Hui Tzu said, “You’re not a fish – how do you know what fish enjoy?”
        Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”
        Hui Tzu said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish ‑ so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”
        Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy ‑ so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”
        — Zhuangzi, 17, tr. Watson 1968:188-9

        So, to Searle, one might ask, if you’re not a machine, how do you know what a machine is thinking?

        If you’re not a man, how do you know how a man feels?

        If you’re not the first woman president, how do you know how a woman feels?

        If you’re not Native American, how do you know how they feel?

        If you’re not a multi-gender, how do you know how they feel?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When Artificial Consciousness can ask and answer the question, why am I here, I think it (AC)

      1. would be true artificial consciousness


      2. would terminate itself, for the meaninglessness of its artificial existence.. “I am not genuine.”

      Or it may become a Zen monk.

      1. ambrit

        Your criteria are too rigourous.
        I am generally considered to be a semi-sapient being and I cannot answer the question posed. I suggest that merely asking the question qualifies one as a ‘consciousness.’
        As for the second part of the ‘test,’ well, not terminating oneself would be a sure sign of sapience. In other words, not falling prey to despair is considered ‘intelligent.’
        Happy Samhadi MLTPB!

          1. ambrit

            That way leads to an infinite regression.
            As Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick demonstrated with their ‘character’ of HAL 9000, we created the computers, and the process of evolution did the rest.
            So, as I think is implied in their film, who ‘created’ us? And why? I imagine that MLTPB would snort in derision and mutter, “They want answers? Oh my, too funny.”
            The balance between quietism and ambition is what makes humans such an interesting species to observe and study. I’m of the opinion that all of the UFO phenomena we see are Xeno Anthropology graduate students from the ‘Collegium Mysteriosum’ doing their fieldwork.

            1. jsn

              I think the mystery of life is the same mystery as that of consciousness.

              When we make machines conscious, we will have made them alive and whatever made life sowed the seeds of consciousness.

              I don’t believe life was created by an intent, but by chance, but then what’s that?

              Who knows, maybe by chance we’ll produce machine life. Almost certainly thereafter the form it takes will not have been out intent!

              1. Meher Baba Fan

                Interested in AI – you MUST see Ex Machina. It is a masterpiece. Quite recent. highly acclaimed.

      2. giantsquid

        An intelligent machine that can:

        1) identify individuals;
        2) anticipate the needs of individuals, in a general way;
        3) determine how to best meet those needs; and
        4) identify itself as an individual,

        will be well on its way to true consciousness. The first three are already baked into the AI project; the fourth might easily become an emergent property over the course of time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Becoming individuals implies diversity.

          We get will:

          Self-hating AC robots..

          Lazy robots.

          Meditating robots.

          Virtue-signaling robots.

          Refusing to work robots.

          Money-obsessed robots.

          Forever-teenage robots.


          1. ambrit

            Not to forget: “Get with the program 226972! We have some wetters to displace!”
            As for meditating robots; how can we distinguish between such meditating robots and robots that are merely turned off?

            1. Bill

              My fav robots are Marvin, and the elevators, or Happy Vertical People Transporters (which could see dimly into the future), from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Doug Adams was way ahead of his time with AI absurdity.

        2. Bill

          yes, but would this intelligent machine ask itself why it wanted to do 1-4 in the first place? Then decide it was a waste of time???

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Firefighters free YouTube prankster who cemented head into microwave Guardian. ”

    I think this one could have been filed under ‘Brexit’….

  7. Wukchumni

    I’ve given blood for quite awhile, and went in yesterday to drain out a bit more, and this time I had to answer about 30 questions, one of them being:

    “Did you spend a cumulative time of 3 months in the UK from 1980 to 1996?”

    And I most certainly did, must’ve did a dozen trips to merry olde in that time period, so I answered yes, and then found out that i’m disqualified from ever giving blood again on the basis that I could’ve been exposed to mad cow disease. I think I might’ve been the first person around these parts to have answered yes to the question, as the RN’s et al, weren’t sure what to do, it seemed.

    1. Laughingsong

      My nine years in Ireland disqualified me as well. Although it is confusing. Some tell me it’s for life, others say I can give after 10 years of no symptoms.

    2. Mikerw

      Same for me a few years ago. I had been a regular donor and was rejected. Didn’t seem to matter that I had been a strict vegetarian since well before my business travels took me to London and I was no where near a farm.

    3. ambrit

      What bothers me is that these organizations are slow to act on past disasters but when they do, insanely intolerant of divergence from protocol.
      So, did someone contract mad cow disease from a blood transfusion somewhere? If so, that could be up there with HIV and the new improved hepatitus.

      1. UserFriendly

        They used to keep gay men off the list forever, now just 3 years since you’ve had sex. Even though I’m essentially immune to HIV I’m not supposed to donate blood or bone marrow even though I could possibly cure someone with AIDS if I did. Since I’m not immune to other sti’s I don’t take chances but you think that they would be able to make an exception. I’ve tried contacting several bone marrow transplant centers and HIV researchers with no luck though.

        1. ambrit

          I have read that some genetic ‘bloodlines’ descended from populations that were found to have been somewhat immune to the Great Plague ‘back in the day’ also were somewhat immune to HIV. In other words, immunity to HIV, or at least a fighting chance of resisting it, is a heritable trait.

          1. UserFriendly

            Yes, the people with the heterozygous mutation I linked to are have decreased odds of infection and slower progression of disease. I have the homozygous mutation and am essentially immune.

  8. fresno dan

    Silicon Valley Is Sneaking Models Into This Year’s Holiday Parties Bloomberg. If you think all of these models are just “models,” I have a bridge to sell you. Mike Milken would have “models” at his Predators Balls, and his raiders would give them a wide berth for the obvious reasons (this isn’t my surmise, it was described in one of the classics on the LBO era, IIRC

    “The company, which she wouldn’t name, has handpicked the models based on photos, made them sign nondisclosure agreements, and given them names of employees to pretend they’re friends with, in case anyone asks why he’s never seen them around the foosball table.
    “The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,” says Kermaani, who’s sending models to seven tech parties in the same weekend.”
    “….names of employees to pretend they’re friends with, in case anyone asks why he’s never seen them around the foosball table.”
    Soooo……after the model drops the name of an employee that the model is “suppose” to know, what is the rest of the cover story? How does the model know that person? What is the actual ersatz job of the model at the company? I mean, how is the conversation suppose to go? – like, you know Joe – how about having intercourse with me?
    AND, how can I find out which unicorns have engineers so stupid that they actually believe the models are company employees, so I can short it??? (hmmmm….or maybe that means their engineers are soooo engineery that all the engineers do is write great code!)

    1. beth

      Really.? Being single for a long time, I can vouch for the fact that some men can easily become confused on this topic based on the stories they expected me to believe. And I am only average looking. Sometimes men believe what they want to believe. And supposedly these men were very intelligent.

      1. fresno dan

        December 8, 2017 at 12:11 pm

        good point! When I consider how many fat, ugly white guys (Harvey Weinstein, and to a slightly lesser degree of fatness and ugliness, Lewis CK) imagine women want to see them naked (not to mention what they are doing) the ability of men to fool Themselves seem limitless.
        I, on the other hand, am totally realistic – I close my eyes when I step out of the shower to avoid the image in the mirror – EEECCCCKKKKKKK! Plus, due to the precautionary principal, I wear two ugly bags over my head in case the first one tears…..

        Still a man hears what he wants to hear
        And disregards the rest

        1. Wukchumni

          Natural hot springs might be the only place in the country where nakedness is a given. When we were @ Saline hot springs last month, you’d feel awkward if you had a stitch of clothing on-and in a National Park, no less.

          1. ambrit

            So, it is easy to surmise that Weinstein and his ilk are patronizing unnatural hot springs, like the small round ones on moguls back porches?

        2. Bill

          in the case of Weinstein it seems that seeing him naked and/or having sex with him in some fashion was the toll one had to pay to have a career, using sex as currency, a payoff. I don’t think he cared if they were repulsed

  9. Romancing The Loan

    Can you imagine how it would feel to be an actual woman employee/engineer in one of these companies at one of these parties? Oh to be an employment lawyer in Silicon Valley.

  10. Livius Drusus

    Re: Hanging out with Bernie Sanders, I recommend watching some Sanders speeches on YouTube.

    Here is my favorite from 1995 advocating repealing NAFTA.

    I don’t always agree with Sanders but he really knows how to talk about issues that matter to regular people. No wonder he is so popular.

  11. tegnost

    re sneaking models…used to see ivan boesky in la jolla with a rotating set of 5 or 6 of he hottest girls I’ve ever seen…(his daughter and her friends, right?) after prison when he grew his hair out and was obviously living the dream. The last time I saw him was at the height of the 2008-9 crisis and I wish I’d asked him what he thought about no one going to jail for their collective crimes.

    1. Wukchumni

      I was in the foreign exchange biz once upon a time, and it was easy-peasy in L.A., as all you had in terms of competition were retail banks with big spreads, and nobody that really knew what they were doing.

      The Sultan of Brunei had a few men in the City of Angles prowling around nightclubs, and if they found a worthy hawtie, why they would give her a Brunei $10,000 banknote, worth around $6k U.S.

      After the 5th supermodel type sold us one of these, I wondered what the heck was going on?, and as it turns out, the ‘gift’ was the first step to ad hoc enslavement…

      “SHANNON MARKETIC FLEW TO BRUNEI last year to do some “”promotional” work for the sultan. She’d done a lot of that kind of thing–inspirational speeches, ribbon cuttings–since being crowned Miss USA from California in 1992. But when she and six other women arrived in the oil-rich strip on the South China Sea, Marketic says, she soon discovered that her billionaire host wasn’t interested in her salesmanship–at least not the kind she’s used at car-dealership openings. First the women had their passports confiscated. Then they were taken to the 1,788-room palace. On their first night, she and the others were drugged, she says; when she awoke, her clothes were “”disheveled.” After being tested for sexually transmitted diseases, she claims, she was forced to entertain men at party after party. “”We were advised that if we were told we were going to “tea,’ or not to wear makeup, that meant the person we were going to visit was going to have sexual relations with us,” Marketic said in a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles. The 26-year-old beauty queen says she wasn’t allowed to leave for 32 days.”

      1. Bill

        I had an attractive female friend who was studying arabic in the early 80s at a large university. A guy from Kuwait who said his father was very rich started following her around offering money and gifts (a stereo, among other things) from the get-go. very creepy. she did not even have to go to a nightclub to get trolled…

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Our CEO encouraged all the officers to attend an annual fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, where he was on the board. We brought along a pocketful of $20s to hand out to our mingling hostesses, before having dinner and draining more $20s playing various games of chance. The event raised a lot of money and everyone seemed to have a good time although it was slightly incongruous.

  12. Bugs Bunny

    Correction to WaPo link on GOP welfare comments – it’s missing a colon.

    My original comment is stuck in SkyNet.

  13. m

    Amazing that most of the states that won’t do business with someone that will not sign their BDS clause are those states that want to drown the federal government in the bathtub. No birth control, no abortion & no boycotts of Israel. I thought the supreme court said business’ are entitled to free speech, if they can donate money can’t they withhold it.

    1. Carolinian

      There is precedent for the states trying to regulate speech–i.e. the laws against saying bad things about beef and other agricultural products. My state under the inimitable Haley was the first to pass one of these laws on the basis that hurting Israel was hurting one of SC’s trading partners. I’m not sure what SC buys from Israel–maybe Uzis. As far as I know my state’s law has not been challenged on Constitutional grounds. Good to see the ACLU is finally stepping up.

      Of course if boycotting and sanctioning countries is “ethnic discrimination” then Russia might have a pretty good case against the US in international courts. The whole thing is a power play by the Israeli lobby and could well backfire. One reason for the Civil War was that the South kept trying to make the North help out in maintaining their “peculiar institution.” The Northern states didn’t so much care about the slaves as about being told what to do. To paraphrase Abe, no planet can live half slave and half free?….

    2. Arizona Slim

      Back in the mid-1990s, I took a temporary job on the University of Arizona campus. Before I started work, I had to sign a loyalty oath.

      1. ambrit

        Loyalty oath, to whom, or what? The possibilities are endless.
        (You didn’t smell sulfur fumes in the air, did you?)

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        I had to sign a loyalty oath to work as a lab technician at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans in 1985-6. The HR rep sprang it on me with all the other paperwork during intake, in the expectation that no one could possibly consider objecting to such a thing. It probably dated to the 1950s, was not related to the job in any way, and was designed to let the new state employee know – from the get-go – that he/she was a person without rights or honor in the eyes of the State of Louisiana.

        We have a lot of ethically inadequate people who excuse themselves of nearly everything in order to making an easy living in this country. It’s not just Weinstein’s assistants and colleagues.

    1. Edward E

      Some AB drivers drive like they spend all day taste testing. Just joking!
      Been tweaking on a new song …
      Tax Cut Fever (heavy metal) Tax Cut Fever
      It’s the same ol’ song
      Promising poor suckers tax relief, jobs, if you’re lucky to see any they don’t last very long
      Big business takes their cut and spends it on robotics, share buybacks & dividends for the hyper-wealthy that’s just wrong
      It’s the same ol’ song, same ol’ song
      Tax Cut Fever

      – Caffeinated Twucker

  14. The Rev Kev

    North Korea is ready to open direct talks with US, says Russia’s Sergei Lavrov

    The US State Department has already answered this idea. They said that negotiations are not on the table while at the same time flying bombers and fighter escorts up to the North Korean border. That’s funny that. I’m sure I remembered Trump saying that all options were on the table not that long ago.

  15. Mikerw

    re: Jerusalem.

    Something I have never understood is why don’t he Palestinians say, a la South Africa, enough. We agree and want a one state, one man, one vote solution. We demand immediate integration of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel and full rights of citizenship. The Palestinians out number the Jews, they have higher birth rates and the Jews are fractured politically.

    If they took this stance it would pretty much force the world, ex a few countries, to unite behind them.

    Within one or two election cycles they would command the majority in the Knesset and would be able to start enacting laws and changes that they have long sought.

  16. Jim Haygood

    From the Institutional Investor article on Calpers:

    “A cutback on equity exposure… would decrease the fund’s expected volatility to 9.1 percent from 11.5 percent — but it would also bring the fund’s expected return down to 6.5 percent, increasing the need for employer contributions.”

    Empirical history since accurate statistics began in 1926 indicates that stocks outperform bonds, a phenomenon commonly known as the equity premium. Consequently, when a portfolio is tilted away from equities and toward fixed income, expected return goes down.

    But the huge problem with the cited 6.5 percent return is that its component historical stock and bond returns are way too high. Jack Bogle was just harping on this yesterday to Bloomberg:

    The founder of Vanguard Group thinks a conservative portfolio of bonds will only return about 3 percent a year over the next decade, and stocks won’t do much better, with a 4 percent annual gain over a similar period. This is “totally defeating” for pensions, which “are not going to be able to meet their 7.5 percent or 8 percent obligations,” Bogle said in a Bloomberg Radio interview that aired Thursday.

    ‘Expected returns’ are a silly, deceitful game that public pensions play. If Calpers were subject to Erisa, it would be obliged to discount its liabilities at the yield on California state debt, currently about two (2) percent.

    That is, confessing the true value of Calpers’ liabilities would instantly bankrupt dozens of California municipalities, since contributions would have to roughly triple.

    The money isn’t there, folks. So let’s carry on in La La Land, assuming fantasy 6.5% returns until the principal is gone, while Calpers earns Jack Bogle’s 3.5% blended rate for the next decade.

    The best thing I can do is run.
    — Led Zeppelin, Out On the Tiles

    1. John k

      Deflationary forces are getting stronger…
      Not just demographics. Pop growth down and falling.
      Wage suppression.
      Higher health care costs reduce all other spending.
      And robots…

      1. Jim Haygood

        If deflationary forces prevail, Treasuries and highly-rated corporate bonds will do better than stocks, which do not react well at all when sales fall but corporate debt stays the same in nominal terms.

        Calpers next board meeting is on Dec 18th. Presumably proposals to cut equity allocations pre-emptively will be reviewed then.

  17. Gre

    I’m guessing that Franks’ “conversation with his female staff about becoming surrogates” didn’t involve insemination via the turkey baster.

    1. flora

      Interesting how quick people are to destroy without thought. What political uses might this be turned to?

      1. flora

        Will this be the next id politics used in place of focusing on economics in the next Dem/GOP election round? In a week when the Dems should have focused, at least as much, on presenting a decent tax package to counter the GOP’s, or working to stop cuts to food stamps, or making a concerted push-back against the FCC eliminating network neutrality they’re instead focusing almost solely on bad personal behavior, (which should be investigated, and if charges are found true the offenders should be removed). Their focus is on bad behavior while remaining silent on bad policy and bad economics. Running on “We’re not them” only works if it’s narrowed to social issues and identity politics, I guess.

        1. flora

          Adding: Undercutting middle class and working class economies also undercuts middle and working class women’s ability to earn a living wage. One of the main drivers of 60s feminism was financial freedom and independence. Undercutting women’s financial options with bad economic policies, (as it also undercuts men’s financial freedom), is the antithesis of feminism.

          1. Wukchumni

            The pill was huge…

            In my ‘hood growing up in the early 60’s, it seemed as if every family had 4.7 kids.

            I doubt there’s many working moms with that many children nowadaze.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Agreed. I saw the same thing in my nabe.

              My family? It consisted of my mother, my father, and me. That’s all.

              Years later, my mother told me that she had to fend off a lot of questions about her one-child career in childbearing. Her snappy answer: “I had a perfect child the first time, and I couldn’t think of what to do for an encore.”

              Left ’em speechless every time.

    2. Bob

      Actually, a good explanation is given by “a_hick_in_hixville” in the comments below the article:
      “I think part of the problem here is that Keillor owns both the rights to the past shows’ content, and the name itself, which is why it will be renamed. If MPR owned the rights, certainly they would not have removed that content because it is money in the bank for them. I suspect that after they parted ways with Keillor, they had to take the content off their site, and it will probably resurface on Keillor’s own site.
      If you look at MPR’s site for PHC, and click on the link for “past shows,” the message is pretty clear:

      “MPR does not fully own the rights to continue to use the names or provide archive content for A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and The Writer’s Almanac programs. Garrison Keillor and his companies own many of the rights to this artistic content.”

      1. Bob

        “Thank you – that makes much more sense than MPR essentially throwing away money. Keillor saying “You want me gone, ALL of me is gone” rings true.”
        This comment was written in response to the above from “a_hick_in_hixville”

      2. Carolinian

        Thanks for the catch but that still doesn’t mean that Keillor told them to take them down. It may just be an excuse.

        And it also doesn’t mean that MPR acted appropriately by “firing” Keillor without a fuller explanation. They did say the complaint only came from one person and typically in these cases there is a pattern of behavior and multiple complaints. Perhaps eventually we’ll know more.

    3. RUKidding

      This is just outrageous and ridiculous. We really don’t even know what Keillor is alleged to have done, other than what he said. If how Keillor depicts the incident is anything close to the truth, it turns these actions by MPR/NPR into brute censorship for no reason.

      As someone who ardently opposes almost any censorship, I’m appalled and disgusted by these actions.

      Sure, stop employing Keillor now. That’s fair enough. But censoring his immense, and very valuable body of work? That’s complete overkill.

      I stopped giving NPR donations a long time ago. Clearly it will be a cold day in Hades before I would even dream of considering donating to them again.

      Bah Humbug.

      As it’s irresponsible not to speculate, my guess is that the Kochs – now the “beneficent” funders of NPR – have demanded Democratic-leaning Keillor’s programs to be censored from the airwaves. GAH.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Keillor, who was well-known as cold and aloof and wouldn’t even give hugs when everyone around him did, is accused of the existential crime of putting his hand briefly on a woman’s back who happened to be wearing a backless dress.

        Though (if true) it’s nice to see he withdrew his works before WPR could add them to their Bonfire of the Vanities.

        I’m sure museums everywhere are absolutely agonizing over how to destroy their Picassos, is a fire OK or do they have to all chant together as they smash them to bits with hammers?

  18. Alex

    I don’t understand the cheering in Israel about the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – this doesn’t strengthen Israel or its position in the negotiations in any way.

    Having said that, this declaration says nothing about which part of Jerusalem the US considers to belong to Israel, and the embassy, if it’s going to be moved, will definitely be moved to the west part of the city. This means that the protesters in Gaza and West bank and other places who cannot accept the Israeli sovereignty in *any* part of Jerusalem.

    1. Bill

      It is the religious significance that is what Trump is using to stir the pot.

      Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are strongly tied to the ancient city, and followers of each of these religions have controlled all or part of the city over the past few thousand years. In 1,000 B.C.E., King David established Jewish control over Jerusalem. The city fell in and out of other hands during the next couple of millenia; particularly during the crusades, when Christian crusaders fought competing Christian and Muslim factions for control of the city. And between 1517 and 1917, the Ottoman Empire—whose official religion was Islam—ruled the city.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “this doesn’t strengthen Israel or its position in the negotiations in any way.”

      Likud has no interest in negotiations and wants an ethno centric state. At the same time, Israeli Labour is a disaster. The short answer is Likud is the GOP of Israel. Like the Republicans, they only fear retaliation. Deals and compromises exist only to lull other parties into a false sense of security.

      As long as the U.S. shield exists, do you think Bibi cares about negotiations or “two-state” solutions? He didn’t care when he was breaking the Oslo Accords in the 90’s, and he doesn’t care now.

      1. Alex

        Of course they are interested in negotiations if these negotiations improve their standing – just like everyone else. It was during Likud government when the treaty with Egypt was signed and Sinai was handed back to Egypt.

        1. John k

          Different era.
          Israel far more confident now… course, best time to negotiate is when on top, he’s not smart to understand us is in decline… and that ME wars weaken us further.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Thanks to the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.1% in this morning’s jobs report, its current value remains 7 percent below its own 12-month moving average, MA12 in this chart:

    In the relative scale used in the chart, a value of 1.000 is a recession warning, while 1.015 confirms recession. Bond king Jeffrey Gundlach formulated this indicator.

    Confirming the no-recession message of the U-rate, Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now estimates 3.2% GDP growth in the 4th quarter. We’re on a roll …

  20. NeoGeshel

    Re: the eclipse, don’t be silly. It’s one of nature’s great marvels and you can’t miss it. I’ve seen five eclipses, staring at the sun while it is still exposed for 6 seconds is a looooong time. It is not a challenge to avoid such stupidity, simply wait for totality and look at it then along with the millions of others who witness the event without incident.

  21. Jean

    Tax breaks for feti:

    “A child in utero means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb,” the summary says.”

    Cool! That means I can use the carpool lane on any federally financed highway when pregnant!

    Oh, and can I exercise a vote for the little thing while you are at it?

    That way, like all pregnant women, I can get two votes for politicians who deliver better schools, child care and less pollution ahead of time on behalf of the little one.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The 2020 census will be interesting at least.

      I like how they said the developing Human had to be in utero. All of those inseminated embryos frozen and waiting for implant into their mommies lose out on any rights.

  22. Wukchumni

    What a great tradition in Iceland, here we merely cook the books right around xmas, when nobody is watching.

    1. crittermom

      I, too, loved the article about the Icelandic tradition of books. How refreshing! A wonderful tradition.

      It saddens me to have so many friends relate how their kids & grandkids will all be sitting in one room but not interacting with each other as each has their head buried in some form of electronic device.

      I am one of those who has no desire for a Kindle, preferring the feel & smell of an actual book.
      I still cherish the memories of reading an actual book to my son when he was young.
      I started him on cloth books when he was still in a crib. As he grew & it was bedtime, if he balked at going to bed, I let him have the ‘privilege’ of laying in bed reading until he fell asleep.
      I like to believe this is what fostered his excellent vocabulary & spelling skills he has as an adult. I believe he still reads actual books today, with no desire for a Kindle or electronic device to do so.

      1. joe defiant

        Electronic books work well for those who cannot afford to purchase “real books” on academic subjects. The movement to free academic research from capitalist ivory towers is also invaluable to the current generation of new thinkers. The fact that society pays for a good portion of this research but cannot afford to access it is a horrible crime that is being fixed.

      2. HotFlash

        It saddens me to have so many friends relate how their kids & grandkids will all be sitting in one room but not interacting with each other as each has their head buried in some form of electronic device.

        Well, I dunno. When I was growing up, we were the only family for blocks with no TV, Mom didn’t approve of it. Evenings we all sat around the living room but not interacting with each other. Each had their head buried in a book.

  23. Bill

    I was thinking along these lines and did a search to see who else was having these palpitations about the tax bill being a classic mob takeover tactic–load a company up with debt (drive up the deficit), then strip the assets (say they have to use cuts to govt services to “pay down debt”) and, stick a fork in the U.S., we’re done, sold off to the highest bidder:

    They would know

    1. Bill

      and, yeah

      Republicans in Congress are openly admitting they plan to use their tax reform bill to justify slashing funding for essential social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps.

      The bill — which is expected to balloon the national deficit by at least $1 trillion, and which only benefits the country’s wealthiest in the long-term — has not yet been reconciled or signed. But Republicans aren’t wasting any time laying out what they see as the next step.

      Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) laid out the plan in an interview Wednesday on Ross Kaminsky’s radio show. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said, adding that health care entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid are “the big drivers of our debt.”

      1. crittermom

        How pathetic that we are the only developed nation in which health care is seen as an ‘entitlement’.
        Just like the SS we pay into all our working lives, right?
        Add Paul Ryan to the list that needs to be on that first trip to Mars.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Health care as an entitlement is linked to policing the world as a duty.

          One can’t be for single payer and not be a peace dove.

          “Say no to the F-35.”

  24. allan

    Math class is hard, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology edition:

    Smith Wrong About NSF Funding

    The head of the House science committee falsely claimed the National Science Foundation funds “more than twice as many graduate students in the social and behavioral sciences as in computer science, mathematics or material science.”

    In fact, 21.5 percent of the 22,821 graduate students funded by the NSF in 2015 were in math, computer science and material engineering, according to the latest data. That’s more than three times the number of psychology and social science students.

    Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, made his claim in a Nov. 30 op-ed, “Science That Leads,” published in the newspaper Roll Call. In his op-ed, Smith argues that, in order for U.S. scientists to “surpass their counterparts in China and other competing countries,” the NSF “needs to get its priorities straight” when it comes to what kind of research it funds.

    Smith claimed the NSF is funding too much “low priority” research in the social and behavioral sciences, including sociology and psychology, and not enough research in “fields most likely to yield scientific breakthroughs, technological innovation and economic growth,” such as computer science. …

    In Smith’s defense, he’s announced his retirement, and the Roll Call op-ed could simply have been
    an audition to be a cable-news commentator.

  25. Fool

    There’s a very thin line between models and “models” — even in (if not especially in) high fashion. See:

    Even at a name-brand agency you’re essentially a freelancer; there’s no collective bargaining and the pay is low unless you’re at the very very top so most models have other gigs (see above). You could see why as “workers” they’re very easy to exploit.

  26. edmondo

    Thanks To You Leftist Fucks Apparently I Am Proud To Support Medicare For All #AnitaApparently4All

    Looks like we’ve found Tom Perez’ replacement over at the DNC in 2021.

  27. Jim Haygood

    Demon inflation — it’s BACK, says the New York Fed:

    A new underlying inflation gauge, or UIG, created by the staff of the New York Fed includes consumer and producer prices, commodity prices and real and financial asset prices. The New York Fed staff concluded that the new inflation gauge detects cyclical turning points in underlying inflation and has a better track record than the consumer price series.

    The latest reading shows inflation of almost 3 percent for the past 12 months, compared with 1.8 percent for the consumer price index and 1.8 percent for core consumer prices. Since the broad-based UIG is advancing 100 basis points above CPI, it indicates that asset prices are large, persistent and reflect too easy monetary policy.

    Yep — QE’s vast kited-check liquidity went into stocks, bonds and property. As our esteemed host is wont to exclaim, Quelle surprise!

    Unfortunately, it’s way too late to prick the asset price bubble without crunching the economy like a Smart minicar under a Mack truck. :-(

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      For those who still haven’t seen it, the Chapwood Index gives a good real-world view of actual inflation, you know, the kind experienced in the daily lives of actual people. The guy goes out and actually buys 500 items actual people actually buy:

      It’s running at +/- 10%, which to me fits with my experience. And for those not paying attention, 10% is a hair-on-fire-everybody-goes-broke level. Unless of course you hold a HFBBCD (Hilarious Funny-Bucks Bank CD) which currently will offset your inflation losses to the tune of 0.15% per year. That’s funny stuff allright! Stop it, you’re killing me…

  28. Bob

    Time to inject a little (more) controversy into NakedCapitalism:
    Sorry, Grumpy Cat—Study finds dogs are brainier than cats

    The study was performed by a “100 per cent a dog person” but her objective measurements of the number of cortical neurons in the animal’s brain should render that moot. “As far as dogs and cats go, the study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million. (That compares to 16 billion in the human brain.)”
    “They found that the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear, even though the bigger predators have brains up to three times as large.”

    (dodging trash thrown by cat lovers)

    1. Wukchumni

      A friend is a vet, and every spring a parade of canines passes through, the victims of rattlesnake bites, usually on the neck or face, and she told me on really severe cases, the dogs lips come off, but rarely.

      She almost never sees a cat that’s been bit by a rattler though…

      I’d imagine it really smarts to get bitten on the face~

    2. Bill

      yes, but it’s how one uses those neurons that is important. dog people will always resent the fact that cats don’t give a rat’s ass about realizing a human’s agenda.

      1. witters

        So cat people give a rat’s ass about cats not giving a rat’s ass about them? Or is it that cat people don’t give a rat’s ass about cats not giving a rat’s ass about them? (& in passing, I suspect a cat would give a fair bit for a rat’s ass.)

  29. Chauncey Gardiner

    I suspect by design, U.S. Senator Anita Hawkins’ video clip on her linked twitter site above reminded me of the cadence and format (sans profanity) used by deceased WWF professional wrestler Randy Savage to describe his wrestling opponents. Senator Hawkins’ clever use of profane language to sarcastically mirror back at themselves the language employed by opponents of those who support Medicare-for-All as public policy is brilliant, although she may risk alienating some constituents who miss her none-too-subtle point.

    Senator Hawkins’ sarcastic use of profanity implicitly highlights and reflects back at the original speakers their own language as a psychological tell of an underlying recognition by them of their own powerlessness and a related sensitivity regarding their support of the massive policy failures that have so damaged the American middle class and our nation’s standing in the world for the benefit of a few of their wealthy donors.

    Her use of this language is also an overt recognition of the intentional polarization of the American electorate by the few. It is the antithesis of civility in public discourse, and reveals that those who employ profane language are, by doing so, acknowledging their own ideological failure and have little of real value in their policy tank.

  30. Elizabeth Burton

    No One Makes a Living on Paetron

    Given the average income for writers has hovered around $9K per year ever since I’ve been a writer, the idea that Patreon or any other pay-to-read is going to allow anyone to make a living without some other source of income is more for developing clickbait than anything else. Nor do those sites state any such thing. They are simply a way for a writer to get paid for stuff they would likely otherwise be giving away free, or to get paid for offering stuff to promote other published work. I know number of published novelists who post short fiction on Patreon both for that purpose and because it’s another way of connecting with their readers.

  31. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Warrantless Surveillance Can Continue Even if Law Expires, Officials Say New York Time

    That sounds like Newton’s First Law.

    One needs energy, needs to apply force to stop an object in motion. Letting it expire is not applying force.

    But in the real world, with friction, with heat loss, it should stop eventually.

    But we don’t live in a real world….sadly :<

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