Links 1/14/18

99% of These Sea Turtles Are Turning Female—Here’s Why National Geographic

Could we retrofit Antarctica’s glaciers to keep them from collapsing? Grist

Silicon gains ground in quantum-computing race Nature

CES Was Full of Useless Robots and Machines That Don’t Work Daily Beast

At CES, Spectre haunted tech executives in public and private meetings MarketWatch

Sony looks to reboot 1990s glory days with relaunch of robot dog FT

The search for the next president of the New York Federal Reserve is a big deal Economic Policy Institute

The lesson for diagnosing a bubble FT

Ready or Not for the Next Recession? Project Syndicate

Bitcoin Mania NYRB. The article is quite sober; well worth a read.

Uber is working with Toyota to create a vehicle and system that is built for ride-sharing Recode

Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall Guardian (Re Silc).

Brexit

The week that Brexit plumbed new depths of absurdity The Brexit Blog (RS).

Venezuela government, opposition conclude talks without agreement Reuters

China?

The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower NYT

India

Seven Manual Scavengers Died in Seven Days. Why Is There Still Silence? The Wire

Breach of World’s Largest Database Prompts Overhaul in India Bloomberg

Syraqistan

Tunisia’s government on Saturday announced an increase in aid Agence France Presse

Russians asking for help after swarming drone attacks Asia Times (Re Silc). Except for the payloads, interestingly lo-tech, but deployed by an organization with a sophisticated command structure.

Trump Transition

Trump unapologetic despite storm over ‘vile and racist’ comments FT

‘Wrong button’ sends out false missile alert Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2016 Post Mortem

Trump Benefited From ‘Extraordinary’ Influx Of ‘Dark Money’ In Final Days Of 2016 Campaign: Study International Business Times. Thomas Ferguson’s study, which you read about at NC two days ago.

Victory: Constitution Pipeline Request Denied by FERC EcoWatch

Democrats in Disarray

The Same Democrats Who Denounce Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept. Watch what they do, not what they say.

“It All Depends on What Oprah Does”: Why Bernie Sanders Democrats Are Raining on the Oprah Parade Vanity Fair

Chelsea Manning files to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland WaPo

Jamie Dimon: Dems don’t have a strong candidate for 2020 The Hill. Dimon: “They don’t have a strong centrist, pro-business, pro-free enterprise person.”

What these early-20th-century scholars got right about 21st-century politics Vox

Centrist Think Tanks Won’t Save Our Cities Gar Alperowitz, In These Times

The Caucasian Panthers: Meet the Rednecks Armed, Ready and ‘Bout That Anti-Racist Life The Root

The Voters Abandoning Donald Trump The Atlantic

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Predicting Crime in SF- a toy WMD Orlando Torres. WMD = “Weapon of Math Destruction.”

Health Care

Smoking penalties, ER fees, premiums on the poor: How states want to shrink Medicaid WaPo

Guillotine Watch

Will Anyone Rent This Apartment for $100,000 a Month? Bloomberg

Berkeley Is Collapsing in on Itself The American Conservative

The Radical Media School Training a Generation of Left-Wing Pundits Vice

Truth On The Marionettes Habeus Questus. “I am writing this to show a great example of building power by intersecting the work inside and outside of institutions.” Very interesting.

Mark Wahlberg Donates $1.5M In Michelle Williams’ Name To #TimesUp Legal Fund Deadline Hollywood

Class Warfare

Boycott Spectrum, Support Unions, Striking Queens Worker Urges Kew Gardens Patch

The Real Reason for Walmart’s Wage Hike Politico

German workers strike for right to two-year, 28-hour working week Guardian

The Psychology of Inequality The New Yorker. “People who are made to feel deprived see themselves as less competent. They are more susceptible to conspiracy theories. And they are more likely to have medical problems.”

Your smartphone📱is making you👈 stupid, antisocial 🙅 and unhealthy 😷. So why can’t you put it down❔⁉️ Globe and Mail

A Field Guide to Deception MIT Technology Review (DL).

The Stick Is an Unsung Hero of Human Evolution Nautilus

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus Antidote (DK):

Wait ’til the keas encounter robot cars…

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

167 comments

  1. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Biden, Booker and Harris must be livid at Jamie Dimon’s asserting that “Democrats … don’t have a strong centrist, pro-business, pro-free enterprise person,”

    Of course Dimon is correct, but his statements ignore the causation: candidates’ weakness results precisely from their efforts to be “centrist, pro-business, pro-free enterprise”.

    Presumably Dimon understands Presidential politics well enough to know that Booker and the others will be faking most of their support for Medicare for all and other Bernie-type policies. Perhaps Dimon’s statements were intended to help that faking, but he forgot the rule that impugning candidates’ “strength” may cause them more harm than the benefit they gain from being able to “welcome the hatred” of Dimon and his peers.

    1. edmondo

      The answer to his dilemma is obvious. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Oprah without celebrity, Hillary without the charisma, Bernie without the plan, our next president of the United States……

      Jamie Dimon.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Digging through 15 year old Michael Moore blog posts is really scraping the bottom of the barrel?

        Like Zuckerberg, I believe this is just Clintonistas trying to get a paycheck without the previous Clinton largess. “Doctor” Phil, Oz, and James Frey show Oprah buys any snake oil salesman who comes along.

          1. Jean

            Didn’t Oprah fall for and promote on her show “The Secret”, which is just another rehash of the Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and other’s positive thinking shuck and jive? (Which periodically is monetized and promoted to enrich people–hey! That’s the secret?)

            The article then goes on:
            “You may think that GMOs are dangerous, but that’s an ill-informed opinion, unsupported by the vast scientific body of work that says that GMOs are safe to humans, animals, and the environment.”

            Oh, OK then, we’ll just take your word for it.
            Still waiting for the “informed” opinion, backed by a vast scientific body, or even just a couple, of peer reviewed studies showing they are safe that no one seems to be able to find nor cite.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden has run twice officially and made noises about other runs. Biden might be biding his time, but Joe is going no where.

      Obama enjoyed an element of tokenism and celebrity but like Bill, the clowns they ran against were important. Given the recent nature of Obama and Hillary, a candidate such as Harris or Booker simply isn’t taking off or will make too many now public mistakes (Harris’ meeting mega donors which would have been missed; or Booker’s new found progressive nature after his devotion to big pharma) to be given the Obama treatment.

      I believe the eight years of covering for Obama and making excuses then doing it for Hillary was exhausting. There isn’t a stomach for a personality based figure.

      1. JohnnyGL

        People forget what a crappy campaigner Joe Biden really is. He’s got decent poll ratings because he’s still got a kind of halo of the Obama administration which gets enhanced by the pro-establishment media longing for their Eden-before-the-apple-got-bitten-and-gave-us-Trump world that only existed in their minds.

        Much like HRC, his poll ratings are higher when he’s NOT running for stuff.

        If HRC herself, or Biden have control of the commanding heights of the establishment, I’m quite confident Bernie beats either one head-to-head, and comfortably.

          1. Procopius

            People forget what crappy policies he promotes. If he runs, Republican oppo researchers will have a soft life. He was far to the right of Hillary; heck, he was far to the right of Nixon.

      2. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Random guesses, partly from having been present at what I’d call ‘electric’ Bernie Sanders caucuses in Western Wa in 2016, and then tried to listen carefully to Millenials who feel absolutely screwed — even if they have good jobs, they’re in a dysfunctional, climate-denying political culture. And they know it.

        A lot of younger voters are going to want to know:
        1. How much campaign money are you spending?
        2. Who gave it to you? When? How?
        3. How much of the money behind your ads, bots, and campaign staff gravy train is ‘dark’? What percentage? At what point did it flow in?
        4. How can you ensure that our votes are not hacked?

        Governors are going to have a leg up over any legislator or so-called ‘business leader’, post-Trump.

        The so-called ‘debates’, which limit candidate responses to a mere 90 seconds, so that a sound-bite scammer like Trump can appear ‘Presidential’ are not going to cut it with younger voters.

        Their bullshit meters are being honed by Trump on a weekly basis.
        I sense a whole new level of seriousness and practical focus emerging. That’s the silver lining.

        Biden needs to enjoy his retirement.
        Along with a whole cohort of others that he served with, who failed to clean up the financial system, failed to address global warming, and who succumbed to the cult of celebrity.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          5 minutes for responses in debates. Additional time if they say something that leads to further debate.

          If you can be placated by a 90 second answer to a complicated problem, you’re part of the problem.

        2. Montanamaven

          There should be real debates like they had 150 years ago. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates did not have a moderator who asked ridiculous questions designed to trip a candidate up. The two candidates debated each other over the most important issues of the day. Or at least bring back “The League of Women Voters” to run the darn things. And we shouldn’t limit it to the candidates. We should have forums where people can get up and state their views instead of just being listeners.

          1. Isotope_C14

            The commission on Presidential Debates will have none of that. Besides, who wants to hear solutions instead of sabre rattling and AGW denial or omission? The Chris Hedges interview of Sheldon Wolin was spot-on.

        3. neo-realist

          My question is, are all these young voters, with their bullshit detectors activated, going to vote? Not just in the Presidential elections, but in the down ticket races as well. Or are they going to sit on their hands if the candidate is not some smooth talking charismatic pop star like Obama (as they do most of the time) or will they do it because its a necessary civic duty, even if the possibilities for change from their votes will be minimal?

          1. Isotope_C14

            Their votes are seldom counted. Just check the provisional Ballots in CA. For the Young (including Gen-X’ers) we know it is rigged to prevent us from having a voice. Lee Camp, Greg Palast, and Jimmy Dore have made it abundantly clear. Even Jimmy Carter says our elections are phoney.

            It would be a great showing of intergenerational honesty to stop blaming the Young for the fact that the deck is stacked against them, due to the institutional acceptance of the “Two-Party System”. Not to mention the absolute rejection of any type of critical discussion of Capitalism. Richard Wolff is popular for a reason These days…

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Is there a less timely candidate for the #MeToo era than Joe Please-Don’t-Youtube-What-I-Said-About-Anita-Hill Biden?

  2. Bill Smith

    “Russians asking for help after swarming drone attacks”

    “the accuracy of the mapping means that the drones were supported by a well-established military organization capable of spotting the targets and adjusting GPS maps to their exact location.”

    Or someone who knows something about geocaching? How big a hobby is that in Russia?

    1. JTMcPhee

      So the conclusion or intimation is that “the Russians did it to themselves?” Old habits die hard.

      1. Bill Smith

        Why would they do that?

        I’m suggesting that it not as complicated to do what happened that it required a nation state or the assistance of a nation state.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Geocaching Russian hobbyists did it, then.

          The big point in all of this for me is thanks to the vast development of really cool tech stuff, and the destruction of any possible trust in anything anyone says or “proves,” and the anonymity and deniability that bad actors, whether state or individual, can hide behind while pointing fingers at others, and the rest of the sorry pass our “progress” and “growth” have bought us, we humans have come to a trigger point, a sharp and deadly inflection in the curve of mutual hut asymmetric vulnerability and mortality.

        2. The Rev Kev

          The Russians analyzed the drones and said it out flat. This was not the job of hobbyists but professionals. Technical people who knew what they were doing and had experience with the planning and equipping of these drones. So yes, in this case, it did require a nation state or the assistance of a nation state. Listen to the whole briefing that was linked to on that Asia Times page. It is only ten minutes long but is very illuminating.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    The week that Brexit plumbed new depths of absurdity The Brexit Blog (RS).

    I think this is a pretty astute observation –

    For Brexiters are no longer – if they ever were – the insurgents. Now, they drive government policy and are in the key positions of authority to deliver Brexit. And that has exposed both their completely inadequate grasp of the practicalities of what Brexit means and their psychological aversion to taking responsibility for it. Farage apparently believes that a second referendum would deliver an overwhelming mandate for Brexit but I suspect that in his heart of hearts he – and many other Brexiters – would prefer to lose such a Referendum. Then, not only would all the boring practicalities of responsibility to deliver an impossible policy be avoided but also Brexiters could return to their comfort zone of victimhood.

    And if that analysis is right, then the absurdity of Britain leaving the EU becomes truly enormous: for it means that we are doing so against the wishes not just of remainers but of leavers too.

    Its been pretty clear that for a significant chunk of Brexiters, the joy was in campaigning against Europe – certainly for people like Farage and Johnson. It made them feel like they were truth tellers, blasting away at boring old orthodoxies. What is most striking is their complete lack of interest in the working details of Brexit – they simply never thought about it, and even having won, they still have no interest in thinking about it. I actually think the author is right when he suggests that they’d be happier if Brexit was reversed, they could go back to their favourite hobby of pontificating on the evils of Europe, safe in the knowledge that few listeners know enough about the workings of Europe to know they are talking nonsense.

    1. John A

      Well Farage famously used to bang on about the EU taking all ‘Britain’s’ fish, yet was on the EU fisheries committee where he could have stood up for Britain’s fishing interests and yet, remarkably he never used to attend committee meetings! As big a self-serving hypocrite as exists on the planet.
      Still, he’s keeping his EU pension rights.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        Over the last seven years I have occasionally watched Farage in Europe & in my opinion, much of his criticism of the EU/EZ has been correct, particularly when it comes to the treatment of Greece.

        I have no time for him basically, but he does appear to have a deeper grasp of some of the reality than certain so called Leftist media outlets.

        I have him & Trump filed under ” I hate it when they are right “.

        1. Nameful

          Don’t read too much into it – as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice daily. Otoh, being wrong all the time takes dedication, since statistically for a random lazy politician it is about as probable as being right all the time.

          1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

            I imagine it serves as handy ammunition to throw at the EU, but I do think he is right to criticise them for undermining Democracy, as there is plenty of evidence for this . The instance that sticks in my mind is when he asserted in around 2011 that the proposed 2nd bailout for Greece was a case of throwing good money after bad – the Guardian derided him & scoffed at the idea, but recent history has since delivered it’s verdict.

          2. Procopius

            Some people seem to have a knack for it, though. I’m thinking especially of Little Billy Kristol.

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          Re: The Trump ‘hate when he’s right’ file – I’m guessing a lot of things from the campaign, not so much that’s ’17-’18 germane?

          1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

            That is very true & he, Farage & others have been able to take advantage of what the Left should have been saying, in the sense that if the latter were a clock it was one with no hands or solely Neoliberal ones. Sanders & Corbyn have latterly taken up the slack, but Europe is in a sorry state as can be seen by the fate of Syriza – a situation that would likely be repeated for any other alternative to the Neoliberal status quo.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      the Age of Catching the Car.
      The Right struggles against their hallucinatory Idea of what the Left is.
      The Left reciprocates, until the absurdity of it all piles up too high and falls over.
      I see it as akin either to the Renaissance or to the slow motion collapse that came almost a thousand years before.
      “All is in Flux”, and while some folks think that we’re failing the Big Test(“…Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?…” ), perhaps we’ve only now put the test on our little desks, waiting for the Proctor to ring the bell.
      as I keep saying, when it’s warm enough for the predawn jointwalk,
      Apocalypse” means “rending the veil”, as in exposing the Mysteries to the Profane.
      A couple of holy lunatics I sometimes look at(“half past Human”) call this era one of “Secrets Revealed”.
      How did we expect Empire to expire? In an orderly and not too uncomfortable manner?
      All our myriad Cognitive Frameworks of How the World Is are falling apart, seemingly all at once.
      Certainty is, and always has been, a myth, and to come to that realisation collectively, almost as a species, is a remarkable thing.
      An Ontological Crisis on a scale that’s only happened a couple of three times in human history.
      In spite of all the destruction and the passing away, it’s an interesting time to be alive.
      http://amfortasthehippie.blogspot.com/2012/08/amfortas-agonistes.html?m=0

    3. David

      I suggested in a thread a couple of days ago that Brexit politics in the UK was increasingly turning towards competitive victim status, and the will to actually resolve the issue of the UK’s future in Europe no longer existed. The objective (which is shared by the Remainers, incidentally) is to be best placed to stoke and to profit from accusations of ill-treatment by the EU, and mistakes made by the British government. In modern politics, successfully claiming victim status puts you in a very powerful position, and we can start looking out now for the maneuvering of various political factions to benefit from the inevitable crash, by putting themselves forward as the representatives of the “victims” of this whole ghastly, surreal episode.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think thats true, although I would hope there are enough sensible people even in the Tory party to realise that following that path would be hugely damaging. A really nasty ‘find the scapegoat’ wave wouldn’t just result in a chaotic Brexit, it would also I think force the Scots to the conclusion that they need to jump ship to save themselves.

        I was just reading arch inside line correspondent Andrew Rawsley in the Observer – he seems to think that the sensible wing of the Tory is looking to perhaps sabotage Brexit in Parliament. In other words, if May can’t get Parliamentary approval for whatever deal she comes up with (if she comes up with one), then there could be either an election on the topic, a new referendum, or even a decision to abandon it. I would imagine this is one strategy remainers in both parties would see as attractive. The problem of course is that the EU may not be in the mood to co-operate, its not clear at all to me that that the will would be there to fudge an agreement to pretend A.50 never happened (given that there does not seem to be a legal way to reverse it).

        In some respects, that is a nightmare scenario even worse than a chaotic Brexit. A situation whereby Parliament forces the government to change its mind and reverse course, and an EU saying ‘sorry, too late, bye’.

    4. Lee

      Much the same critique could be accurately applied to the Donald, methinks. As with the dog and the bus, the joy lies in the chasing, not the catching. For much the same reason one fishes with barbless hooks.

  4. Wukchumni

    I’ve never seen a feathered flier as whip smart as a Kea, and certainly none prone to pranks as shown in the video, or ganging up on humans, while a couple of them make off with your lunch you left unattended, as you went to watch his or her confederates showing off their cheekiness in a clever game of subirdterfuge. I once saw one dislodge a 3 pound rock partially in the ground in front of me on the Kepler Track, just to show me what it could do.

    Keas are rare in that they are the only alpine parrot in the world, but they’re pretty common in and around the Southern Alps, i’ve seen perhaps 400-500 of them.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Could we retrofit Antarctica’s glaciers to keep them from collapsing? Grist

    Wolovick has been researching the feasibility of slowing that collapse with ‘sills’ constructed out of sand and rock along the fronts of these vulnerable glaciers. Unlike a seawall, they would be entirely underwater, but would keep warm ocean water from reaching a glacier’s vulnerable base.

    That could stall glacial retreat dramatically, and maybe even reverse it. In Wolovick’s virtual experiments, even the least successful version of the sills slowed a glacier’s collapse by 400 or 500 years.

    I think most people are – quite rightly – very wary of geoengineering proposals to address climate change. Unfortunately I think we’ve gone way beyond any tipping point by which we can mitigate by way of reducing CO2 emissions alone. Proposals like this are quite intriguing – I think fairly low tech smart engineering proposals like this may be the only way we can at least postpone the worst impacts. There are all sorts of interesting ideas floating out there – the use of Biochar and Olivine mining as methods to scrub more CO2 from the atmosphere also seem viable and relatively benign. If we are to build up resilience in the face of impending catastrophe I think the best solutions are likely to be relatively low tech and quickly achievable, not ‘ready in 10 years’ type proposals.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for the ice stupa link. That was pretty cool. I checked out the little video from the group that won the award from Rolex.

      Sometimes, those sorts of very simple ideas are the best ones. They’re often much more reliable than high tech stuff. No specialized equipment or training, just good design.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Human nature.

      In yesterday’s “Trump’s Gift to the Climate Movement,’ a point was made that without an accord, and without geoengineering projects, local solutions (which were previously neglected) pop up in various places.

      With human nature what it is, a question to ask is, will this (or other similar ideas) afford us a lazy way out?

    3. rd

      One of the the jobs of the polar oceans is to cool off warm water from the tropics. Phase change between ice and water takes a lot of energy. If the warm water is precluded from cooling off, we will just end up with warmer oceans in the tropics which will result in sea level rise as the water expands.

      That is just one of the negatives.

      Redirecting the flows around Greenland and Antarctica will likely be very disruptive for food webs with completely unknown results.

      The good news is that it is difficult to get the money raised to dredge a harbor with paying customers. Where are they going to get the money for the largest and most complex dredging project ever? Oh, and the permitting process is going to be a bitch.

    4. mpalomar

      Your skepticism regarding geo engineering is I think well founded. Perhaps we can tech our way out of the carbon dilema (hold up you iphones kids) as you suggest.

      As humans are currently engaged in unintended geo engineering in the anthropocene, premeditated geo engineering becomes a compelling idea, certainly in an academic and theoretical way. Yet it should be evident by now that even tech assisted humans are still ill equipped to grasp the unintended consequences of their actions within complex systems.

      Many of the good ideas and fixes engineered in the past have turned out rather badly, the Mississippi levees, dredging and channelling of the river by the Army engineers for instance. And there once was an Aral Sea now there are three or four smaller lakes; dams on rivers that made New England an early industrial center but destroyed spawning grounds for salmon and other migrating fish like sea bass have helped destroy the US North Atlantic fisheries. The list of wrong moves is fairly extensive.

      From the recently linked article on anoxic ocean events, “Only a global technological civilization of billions of people, drenching the world’s shallow seas with phosphorus and nitrogen and blasting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, could summon OAE2 back from the fossil record.”
      https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/suffocating-oceans/550415/
      No doubt the biochar and olivine mining are intriguing; they and other different approaches along those lines will likely happen but the consequences are largely unknown and will also serve to enhance the enticing myth that tech and market solutions will bail out 7 billion people sustained by agrindustry technology, running on batteries and colonizing Mars, etc. Meanwhile the ecological apocalypse will continue to bear down on the planet unless directly addressed.

      1. Wukchumni

        We largely destroyed the Rust Belt economies and Buffalo in particular when the St. Lawrence Seaway was built. And as an added bonus, the scourge of Quagga & Zebra mussels now widespread across the country only happened on account of it.

      2. JTMcPhee

        “Wrong moves?” One problem is that there’s nobody to definitively say that all those blowback-inducing innovations and Great Ideas were”wrong moves.” Railroads, the gasoline powered automobile, nuclear fission, the Green Revolution, the internet, financialization, pick your fave— all were driven by the drives that drive almost all us humans, and naysayers who dared to point out potential consequences were shouted down or ignored. Even the dams on all those rivers made wealth for some, with external costs of all sizes for others. The consensus was and still is that those were “right moves,” problems they caused to be addressed by coming generations after the looters who have long since died comfortable deaths.

        We got a problem, Houston — almost all of us want MORE, and will lie, cheat, steal and even kill to get it. There’s no consensus on an organizing principle stated as “survival of the species,” especially if that requires eating only to our honest actual hunger, and drinking only to slake our needful thirst. IBG-YBG, right?

        1. mpalomar

          “Almost all of us want more…”
          We’ve been tossed in the Bernays’ sauce to want more; trillions of well spent dollars on ad campaigns have seen to that.
          There is an honest thirst and hunger to our nature that you note. Social beings, we want friendship (not faceborg), we empathize and are generous creatures if our true natures are not drowned out by the message.
          IBG-YBG a convenient lie that worked for a moment. As it turns out quite likely we’ll all be gone. Of course, except for the deeply deluded and profoundly spiritual or possibly both, that was always the deal so then the question remains, ‘How shall we live?’ ‘Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too.’
          Or organize, though you’ll probably regret that as well.

        2. mpalomar

          “We got a problem, Houston — almost all of us want MORE, and will lie, cheat, steal and even kill to get it.”

          Right on, Walter and John Huston, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” the older I get the better that movie gets in my memory, it’s authentic western greek tragedy.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk4GDuzZAM8

    5. Procopius

      I think you’re right that we’re way beyond the point where reducing CO2 emissions will make a difference. At best the carbon dioxide cycle will take a couple hundred years to restore the equilibrium of, say, 500 or 1,000 years ago if we somehow managed to reduce all anthropomorphic CO2 emissions to zero. I think we really are going to be forced to create “Caves of Steel,” as Isaac Asimov described in the novel. Granted, we probably have a couple hundred years to get that done before the last habitable surface regions are gone.

  6. integer

    Re: Russians asking for help after swarming drone attacks

    Just a heads up that Stephen Bryen, the author of this piece, is not necessarily a neutral observer of Middle Eastern affairs.

    https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Stephen_Bryen

    In April of 1979, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert Keuch recommended in writing that Bryen, then a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, undergo a grand jury hearing to establish the basis for a prosecution for espionage. John Davitt, then Chief of the Justice Department’s Internal Security Division, concurred.

    The evidence was strong. Bryen had been overheard in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop, offering classified documents to an official of the Israeli Embassy in the presence of the director of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was later determined that the Embassy official was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington. Bryen refused to be polygraphed by the FBI on the purpose and details of the meeting; whereas the person who had witnessed it agreed to be polygraphed and passed the test.

    WRT this article specifically, I found his subtle floating of the idea that Iran could have been behind the attack particularly problematic. There are other issues too, and I would advise those who read the article to also read the comments left below it.

    1. John Oakes

      I wrote about this in May 2017. “The Pentagon now is testing drone swarm technology: Weapons moving in large formations with one controller somewhere far away on the ground clicking computer keys. Think hundreds of small drones moving as one, like a lethal flock of bees. You can see a YouTube video of a US drone swarm test here. 103 mini drones were released from two US fighter jets during the test. The drones operate autonomously and share a distributed brain.”

      It may not have been the US, but, we have the technology.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        These are clearly not US drones (modulo a deception operation). The wings are made of wood. The sort of technology that could be used in the the, er, flyover states if it ever came to that.

      1. integer

        More from the Counterpunch article:

        The Bureau also had testimony from a second person, a staff member of the Foreign Relations Committee, that she had witnessed Bryen in his Senate office with Rafiah, discussing classified documents that were spread out on a table in front of an open safe in which the documents were supposed to be secured. Not long after this second witness came forward, Bryen’s fingerprints were found on classified documents he’d stated in writing to the FBI he’d never had in his possession….the ones he’d allegedly offered to Rafiah…

        Several years later in early 1988, Israel was in the final stages of development of a prototype of its ground based “Arrow” anti-ballistic missile. One element the program lacked was “klystrons”, small microwave amplifiers which are critical components in the missile’s high frequency, radar-based target acquisition system which locks on to in-coming missiles. In 1988, klystrons were among the most advanced developments in American weapons research, and their export was of course strictly proscribed.

        The DOD office involved in control of defense technology exports was the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) within Richard Perle’s ISP office. The Director (and founder) of DTSA was Perle’s Deputy, Dr. Stephen Bryen. In May of 1988, Bryen sent a standard form to Richard Levine, a Navy tech transfer official, informing him of intent to approve a license for Varian Associates, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts to export to Israel four klystrons. This was done without the usual consultations with the tech transfer officials of the Army and Air Force, or ISA (International Security Affairs) or DSAA (Defense Security Assistance Agency.

        The answer from Levine was “no”. He opposed granting the license, and asked for a meeting on the matter of the appropriate (above listed) offices. At the meeting, all of the officials present opposed the license. Bryen responded by suggesting that he go back to the Israelis to ask why these particular items were needed for their defense. Later, after the Israeli Government came back with what one DOD staffer described as “a little bullshit answer”, Bryen simply notified the meeting attendees that an acceptable answer had been received, the license granted, and the klystrons released.

        Highly recommend reading the whole article.

  7. Darius

    Thank God for Chelsea Manning. I’ve been saying for years I wish someone would take a kamikaze run at Ben Cardin, the poster child for career politicians, the senator from AIPAC, for TPP before he was against it. Whether or not he can be beaten, make him damaged goods. In the age of Trump, the Democrats’ slogan should be, “Vote for the Crooks. It’s Important.” No one epitomizes that better than Ben Cardin. Manning needs a website so I can give her money. Go Chelsea! A woman with guts. My heroine.

    1. timbers

      I’m half expecting Chelsea Clinton to jump in the race as Manning’s opponent. I wonder who Oprah would endorse?

      Two Chelsea’s in one race. The possibilities are endless.

      1. Darius

        Ben Cardin is the incumbent. Ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations. Made huge trouble for the Iran nuclear deal. That’s why he’s the senator from AIPAC. A Bibi apologist. Voted for cloture on Fast Track. Voted against final passage only when it had enough yes votes to ensure passage. Cardin takes the voters for granted because he’s a mainstream Democrat and probably can get away with it. The Democrats should be ashamed to promote career opportunists like Cardin. If not, they should suffer embarrassment.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Yes! Hurray for courageous Chelsea!

      Now, we need Snowden to be pardoned so there can be a Manning/Snowden ticket for 2020.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        In 2020 Manning will be 33 and ineligible. Snowden will be 37 and would be the youngest president ever elected.

        I support any middle-finger runs for the presidency once they inevitably kneecap Bernie for a neoliberal again.

    3. DJG

      And, Darius, Chelsea Manning knows that war isn’t just a game of checkers or using that exquisite machinery or whatever Madeleine Allbright was bloviating about. Chelsea Manning’s first big leak, if I recall, was of a massacre of Iraqi civilians:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_12,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike

      Maybe Cardin can explain how the U.S. was continuousy at war during Obama’s term in office, the only U.S. president so far with that distinction.

  8. b

    On the drones in Syria: “Except for the payloads, interestingly lo-tech, but deployed by an organization with a sophisticated command structure.”

    The flight control software used is nothing to buy off the shelf and not easy to program. The weapon release needs some calculations like weight of ammo, its air resistance, wind, speed, altitude etc to be of use. All this requires tests, tests and more tests. The command and control system of these drones was certainly not lo-tech.

    The only stuff that was “lo-tech” was the material used to construct the planes. Neither the construction nor the electronics were lo-tech at all. Either the U.S. or Israel have developed and helped building these.

    1. Bill Smith

      Googling “uav flight control software” turns up a number of options available for sale or that are even open source that would do this easily. One will let you program the flight path from an Android phone.

      We don’t know how accurate the weapons release software really is. It could have been at this location ‘drop’. At slow speeds and low altitude over the target it would certainly be much easier than a release at 800 kph and 7000 meters.

      ISIS in Iraq has been dropping explosives from drones for over a year. There is a more than one video on youtube showing this. This attack is clearly several steps above that stuff but not unheard of.

    2. John

      I doubt there was a bomblet release mechanism it’s probably a crash into something hope it works thing. No wires or latching mechanism visible. I would guess the software was cobbled together from available open source stuff. Googling rc autopilot brings up hits so it’s not new. The craftsman ship on the build looks well done but not advanced. I bet this is within the range of allot of hobbiests. Also drone swarm makes it sound smarter than I bet it was. I would assume it was just multiple drones launched with the same software route, not a smart swarm like was depicted in the ted talk thing. That kind of swarm would be advanced. A raspberry pi with gps autopilot not so much. Still a really bad development in warefare.

  9. Hana M

    The Kia antidote was great. And be sure to click through for the rest of the thread to see New Zealand’s highway authority’s clever possible solution.

    1. JCC

      I got a kick out of it, too, and sent it to some friends. Here in the U.S. we usually resort to things like pyrotechnics, carbide cannons for example, disturbing to everything and everyone within earshot…or we just shoot ’em.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Authoritarianism influences society a good deal more than people realize. More than once I’ve been struck by the fundamentally different approach to solving problems between the US and NZ (having lived for significant periods in both).

        Another example: we have a persistent local problem with teenagers jumping off a road bridge into the harbour in summer, even though it’s illegal, unsafe and a hazard to marine traffic. The solution proposed by the local council? Construct a diving platform for them somewhere nearby that is out of the way of traffic and can be maintained and made compliant with safety requirements. And it’s not just talk – it’s actually been done in other places locally to solve similar problems. There is a big diving platform right on the main waterfront that never fails to amaze American tourists when they see it.

        1. Wukchumni

          One thing I cherish about NZ is the overall lack of lawyerdom there, combined with not much possible in the way of tort lawsuits.

          When we stay @ a motel in NZ, oftentimes the pool will have not only a diving board, but also a slide. A good many also have a trampoline out in the open, no net surrounding it.

          When’s the last time anybody saw those ammenities @ a motel in the USA?

        2. Wukchumni

          I remember when NZ’s fighter jet fleet was getting a little old in the tooth around the turn of the century and they decided that they didn’t need new ones, and instead put the money into tourism (I-Sites, etc) and things have flourished since.

          One time we were driving near Lake Tekapo, and went by a NZ Army Camp, and the front gate was wide open and unattended, so we thought why not go in?

          So, we drive about 1/4 of a mile in, and run into a NZ soldier that asks what we’re doing there, and play dumb American tourists, and he laughs, and tells us we shouldn’t be there, and we bs for about 10 minutes with him about this that and whatever, and exchange smiles as we head out back to the main road.

          Could anybody imagine that happening in these United States?

    2. crittermom

      I was not familiar with the Kea bird. I love that they were given a gym to entertain them.
      The 9 min video narrated by David Attenborough referenced in a post is even more incredible. They solve very elaborate puzzles. Amazing birds with in-depth problem-solving attributes.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Russians asking for help after swarming drone attacks

    That title is misleading but I will let that stand. When I saw images of the captured drones my first thought was that this was some kind of joke. Foam boards? Duct tape? The only thing missing was bits of string and cornflake boxes for wings. And these things flew across Syria to do a coordinated attack on two Russian facilities? The whole thing seemed off. Well now we have our answer.
    If you watch that embedded briefing by the Russians, they only looked like amateur efforts. They actually contained very sophisticated navigational aids along with electronic countermeasures and highly detailed targeting info. There is no way a bunch of ragged Jihadists could have come up with the whole thing themselves. They had some serious foreign help here. By experts with ‘special expertise, practical skills and operating experience’ with UAVs. Even the explosives need special manufacturing not available in Syria.
    Putin himself said: “We know when and where those unmanned aerial vehicles were handed over and how many there were.” and “Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there.” Russian Special Forces have already located the launch facility and the people there will not be worrying anybody anymore for the rest of their lives.
    I am certain that the Russians are looking at the Americans as being a part of this effort. That may not sound fair but the Russians can list several occasions when the Jihadists were really, really lucky in their targeting with their use of artillery and evasion of Syrian Army outposts. It was almost like someone was providing them with exact GPS coordinates of these targets and outposts. That article made it out that they were only worried about further attacks on Russia itself but this is very dubious when you think about it. Certainly the Israelis cannot be happy with the introduction of this new type of attack as these things could fly under radar coverage. I certainly hope that they were not stupid enough to have anything to do with this attack. We have just watched warfare change again with this attack in much the same way that the introduction of drones changed warfare two decades ago – and not for the better.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its all very opaque. I see some ‘establishment’ writers are suggesting the drone and earlier mortar attack on the Russians were false flag attacks either by Assad or by Druze allies – the motive being to force the Russians to reconsider withdrawal and encourage them to help Assad finish off the remaining pockets rather than make a deal. It is credible to think that this could be the motive for the mortar attack, but its hard to see how or why they would have gone to the trouble of organising a drone attack for that purpose.

      I think in one of your earlier comments you hit the nail on the head when you suggested that the presence of US intelligence aircraft was intended to monitor Russian air defences. Now that the war is winding down I’m sure that there are lots of intelligence agents in the region frustrated that they never got a chance to see how the Russians would react to a high tech threat to one of their bases. What better way to really test Russias full suite of electronic defences than to get one of their new Al-Q buddies to organise a surprise drone attack? I suspect this attack was solely intended to gain intelligence on Russian air defence capabilities, nothing more or less. Although of course what it has done is shown that the Russians can defend against a mass drone attack, which will no doubt do their arms export industry a lot of good.

      1. integer

        I wouldn’t be so sure the Syrian war is winding down. Perhaps “entering a new stage” would be more accurate.


        The US’ Kurd Project: Iranian intelligence has declassified data on 14 American bases in Syria

        At the very end of last year on the 31st of December, the Pentagon once again acted out an intrigue around its military bases in Syria. US defence minister James Mattis warned, that any attack on US bases would be repelled and the attackers would be punished.

        The media agencies ‘Russia Today’ and ‘Sputnik’ proved the existence of 10 American military bases in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. However, Iranian intelligence agencies have provided more detailed data, which suggests that there are 14 American bases in Syria, of which 12 are located in the north of the country and 2 in the south. What is more, Turkish media outlets have reported about the existence of 13 US arms depots in Kurd territories, which are located in close proximity to American bases.

    2. Procopius

      There is no way a bunch of ragged Jihadists could have come up with the whole thing themselves.

      Sounds like what the U.S. Army had to say about the VC and NVA “sappers” who used to go through razor wire obstacles and fences like they weren’t there. Americans have a tendency to think of non-whites as somehow less capable or intelligent than white people. Halberstom confessed to it in The Best and the Brightest, that there was a lot of contempt for “little brown brother” behind the intelligence failures at Dien Bien Phu and the Tet ’68 countrywide attacks. I agree though that they probably had help from the CIA and Mossad.

  11. Wukchumni

    The Stick Is an Unsung Hero of Human Evolution Nautilus
    ~~~~~~~~

    I was surprised that there was no mention of atlatls, the predecessor to the venerable bow & arrow. If you’re ever in Vegas and want to get away from being Pavlov’s Dog for a spell, take an hour drive to Valley Of Fire state park, where among the thousand or so 3,000 year old petroglyphs scattered all over walls, there is a “how to hunt bighorn sheep using an atlatl” panel that has an atlatl near the top, with a couple of human figures brandishing them. The humanoid near the bottom is depicted hunting a bighorn

    http://www.haunsgowest.com/files/2010/11/02-valley-of-fire-atlatl-0679-whaun.jpg

    This is how they worked, although it differed here in the Sierra Nevada, as an obsidian projectile point was used in lieu of ‘arrows’.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd6G5IuE6bU

    1. fresno dan

      Wukchumni
      January 14, 2018 at 8:30 am

      I am amazed those old timers could hit the board the target was on, and incredulous that they could hit the center of the target!

      1. Adrienne

        Atlatls are amazing. The additional leverage allows for greater speed and power of the projectile. Watching the geezers throw them makes me wonder if it wasn’t old dudes who developed the technology first, as a way to continue hunting effectively as their arm strength diminished. Also atlatls would allow boys and women to contribute as hunters when small game was abundant.

      2. Daryl

        I had a few goes at an atlatl and it is immensely difficult to throw well with it. Must have taken quite a bit of practice.

  12. mpalomar

    Trouble in paradise. For an hour or so Hawaiians rushed around their South Pacific islands looking for concrete basements to hide away from nuclear attack. Some opened prize bottles of scotch many others gathered weeping and huddling together. Ooops false alarm. Carry on as usual.

    One dry run through the ‘end of the world’ drill and humans will without much question, except perhaps to rejigger the alarm system, reset to an insane decades long MAD policy. It seems thousands of nuclear weapons around the planet on hair trigger pointed this way and that in an international game of annihilation is acceptable and rational behavior to those who control the discourse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Until it all goes wrong. There is an Australian film that takes up the issue of what people do when they know that the end of everything is coming within hours. In this film – “These Final Hours” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaoF6byFQFU) – the cause is asteroid strikes but the net result is the same. One of the saddest films that I have ever seen. Those people in Hawaii found out soon enough that it was a false alarm but what if had not been. Maybe that was why the panic was so great – they knew what the consequences would be.

      1. GF

        On The Beach has a good old-fashioned look at the results of a nuclear war. The focus on Australia as the last place on earth and how the population lives out their final days is also appropriate. The song Waltzing Matilda was forever etched into my pre-teen mind after watching the movie from AZ and it still has a haunting quality when I here it now.
        https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1015530_on_the_beach

      2. Procopius

        I fear a lot of the people born since, say, about 1985, don’t really know what the consequences would be. They know they would be bad, but I’m afraid they don’t know how bad. Maybe if they did they’d get more upset over Trump’s irresponsible poking North Korea with a sharp stick.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems to me that the rational response for all those panicked Hawaiians at this point is to agitate and demonstrate until the U. S. dismantles its nuclear arsenal and negotiates for the rest of the world to do the same.

    3. Wukchumni

      It reminded me of the fat finger flash crash episode on Wall*Street in 2010. The market tanked 1,000 points in no time flat, only to be resurrected about 40 minutes later to where it had been previously.

      The ‘culprit’ being a 36 year old fellow in London, doing a bit of day trading @ his parents house, ha!

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not just the MAD policy, but today, we are confronted with non-state players (where the M – for mutual – in MAD, may not be applicable), possibly possessing the same threat.

      1. Daryl

        Also an increasing amount of people, including in the US government, who openly profess that they want the world to end (“rapture”).

    5. Ignim Brites

      Hard not to speculate that this wasn’t a cyper hack by Russia as a shot across the bow in our increasingly smoky war with them in Syria.

      1. LifelongLib

        Apparently it was an error by the Hawaii emergency management agency.

        I was at home when the warning message came on my phone:

        BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

        I was immediately skeptical. The message didn’t look “official” and there was nothing on tv or radio, just normal broadcasts. Like the poster above my thought was that somebody had hacked the system. I expressed my doubts to a couple of friends and then went out shopping. Things seemed normal and we got the false alarm message about 40 minutes after the first one. I didn’t hear about the widespread panic until much later.

        1. mpalomar

          Interesting, I was wondering whether some Hawaiians were skeptical.

          Still we all live, largely without thought, under the nuclear sword of damocles. We conveniently and insanely block it from consciousness (or is the forgetting necessary to maintain sanity?) and elect politicians who perpetuate the nuclear policy folly, doubtless largely for the sake of the MIC.

    6. Tooearly

      +100
      I read thousands of tweets about this yesterday as I live in Hawaii and very few if any at all bothered to make the point that you are making

      Needless to say basements are almost completely absent feature of the residential real estate here in Hawaii and bomb shelters are long since gone and the notion of hunkering down for a couple of weeks of nuclear radiation is an utter fantasy. Meanwhile the hospitals are already filled with flu cases so where would all these casualties go?

      1. Wukchumni

        There are no basements in California, and the only fallout shelters here are in a financial vein, i.e. houses.

  13. jfleni

    RE: Silicon gains ground in quantum-computing race.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago Intel (the select of the chosen) computers could not even add reliably, but now they are “gaining ground” ! Whoops – Sure they are!

    Be as skeptical as possible about Yuppie-nerd claims and hot news about CPU errors.

    1. ewmayer

      ITYM divide – specifically, floating-point divide. If you’ve seen the IEEE standard for floating-point division you’ll appreciate how complex the algorithm and hardware for same is – which is not to excuse Intel for its execrable handling of the issue once the bug was discovered.

  14. Wukchumni

    “They have impaired our ability to remember. They make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    I suppose if you termed them ‘Dullard Phones’, they’d still fly off the shelves, although most of the tv commercials now seem aimed at poaching other smart phone company’s customers, rather than trying to sell you one.

    Yesterday one of the links was in regard to how do we remember stuff?

    Having a good memory before the days of computers now making my brain seem like 8th rate grey matter, was my calling card to success. I had to constantly memorize and be able to recall the minutest details of 2,500 years of financial history, be it something from Thasos 500 years before A.D., or a talisman from the “Hundred Days” or anytime in between or in the future, as a bulwark against like-minded competitors.

    I have no way of knowing this, but i’d suspect that a good many under 25 have what I would term “fortnight memory” in that they can recall memories within a couple weeks of it happening, but that’s it. They’ve surrendered vitally important cognitive abilities to a little rectangle that bears a lot of resemblance to Kubrick’s monoliths, in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  15. Stephen V

    Re: NYRB Bitcoin Mania: quote::
    Its value derives entirely from people’s perception of what it is worth. The same might be said of paper money, now divorced from gold and silver, or of gold and silver for that matter. Money is a human invention. It has value because we say it does. Unquote.
    So yesterday we learn that Only Birds can prevent Grasslands Fires. And today that they direct traffic.
    Is there a little bird in the Commentaries that can explain to me the economics behind that last sentence quoted above? IOW : Help me !

      1. Stephen V.

        Thanks Integer. My previous comment committed hara-kiri in moderation.
        Was hoping someone could weigh in on this::
        Its value derives entirely from people’s perception of what it is worth. The same might be said of paper money, now divorced from gold and silver, or of gold and silver for that matter. Money is a human invention. It has value because we say it does.
        Unquote from the BC MANIA piece.
        What if any, Economic value does bitcoin have? I mean c’mon. Money being ‘made’ is a re-distribution of other ‘investor’s’ $$ or am I missing something?

        1. Yves Smith

          Gold and even more so silver have real world uses. There are many industrial uses for silver, some limited ones for gold (including dentistry, it’s still the best restoration), and of course for jewelry, which sets a floor of sorts on value. There are no real world uses for bitcoin.

          1. Massinissa

            Also Gold, Silver, and Jewelry can survive EMP and dont cost electricity for their continual existance.

          2. Procopius

            I think real world uses are irrelevant. Money is not useful for buying things because it has some “intrinsic” value, it’s valuable because we can use it to buy things ( Brad DeLong). The rate of exchange of coins for other goods was never the same as the rate of exchange of other goods for the bulk metal content. That’s a myth. Inflation was not caused by lowering the amount of precious metal in the coins, but by increasing the number of coins. There was a horrendous inflation that caused terrible damage to society after the Spanish started bringing huge amounts of silver (not gold) from the New World, even though the coins contained as much silver as before.

  16. perpetualWAR

    Rent this apartment for $100k/mo

    The Seattle Times ran an article yesterday reporting apartment rents have fallen in Seattle. That hasn’t occurred in more than a decade.

    Equilibrium, finally? Or a sign of things to come?

    1. ambrit

      How big a deal is the Overseas Chinese population in all this? Could the recent Chinese governments efforts to restrict wealth flows out of the ‘Middle Kingdom’ be reducing the expats’ filthy lucre effect on West Coast real estate prices, and maybe rents?
      Cut down on the external inputs and the local economy gains more influence. So, this being considered, the drop in rents signals a falling off of local wealth, or at least, disposable income.
      I’d also be interested to see if there is a large divergence between ‘average’ rents and ‘median’ rents. How the headline figure in the newspaper article is computed is important.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Not sure, and I don’t have good data, but I think that your questions are spot-on.
        There are still cranes everywhere, and high rents. However, 6 – 20 miles north, the suburbs are morphing into high-density nodes, so the supply of housing is increasing exponentially.

      2. Adrienne

        According to Mom, real estate in Silicon Valley is clearly plateauing. Her cohort are all downsizing and moving to retirement communities, and while two years ago Chinese folk were bidding everything to the sky, sales are now slowing and prices are flat and even decreasing in desirable areas. The Mercury News reported back then that as much as a third of all high end property sales in the Valley were to Chinese nationals. Capital controls are definitely impacting RE on the west coast.

        1. Wukchumni

          Someone from the PRC can only get $50k out of the country, and if they have a few family members playing along, maybe $200k.

          That doesn’t buy a lot of house in California, except for Trona.

          1. Adrienne

            @Wukchumni the people that bought Mom’s place had a fair bit of cash in a US account, more than enough to buy a high-end condo. It was purchased by a family–father living in PRC, mom and teenage daughter to live in Cali–no doubt to eventually attend Stanford. They probably had been planning and saving since the girl’s birth.

        2. Jean

          Watch the video “Million Dollar Shack” to see the busloads of Chinese buyers, ghost houses, skyrocketing rents and people renting tents in back yards there.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Being from a scientific socialist country, do potential Chinese buyers hold back on Feng-Shui deficient houses, like many from Taiwan or Hong Kong might?

          1. Wukchumni

            Numerology also plays into it, there was a Volvo named 644 I think, and it translated to ‘quick death death’ if memory serves.

          2. Jean

            Capital flight and preservation takes precedence over Feng Shui…

            They are not going to live in these houses, at best their kids might live there for a while IF they get into Stanford. Roundeye renters don’t care about Feng-Shui.

  17. Expat

    Re: FISA, NSA, and the Police State
    Either they know something we don’t know, or they are captured by the military-industrial complex which makes hundreds of billions in profits from the War on Terror, the Police State, and “defense”. Based on my experience and education, I don’t think they know much more than we do so the cynical side wins.

    Democrats don’t vote for Big Brother. They vote for money. Same with Republicans.

    If you want Dreamers or anything else, just get the democrats to cobble together a bill that makes any immigrant have to pay $10,000 to the Trump Corporation. Bingo! Give us your tired, your weak, your masses, etc….as long as they can pay the entrance fee.

  18. divadab

    Re: Guardian article on crime rates down after cannabis legalization. Article reads: “While the Mexican cartels smuggle other drugs such as cocaine, heroine and metamphetamine across the border, the market for marijuana is the largest drug market in the US and the one from which the cartels can make the fattest profit. It costs around $75 to produce a pound of marijuana in Mexico, which can then be sold on for $6,000 depending on the quality.”

    $6,000!? $6,000?! This ridiculous assertion in the face of publicly available cannabis price information
    (here’s a link – https://www.cannabisbenchmarks.com/weekly-report )
    show the average wholesale price of cannabis to be less than $1,400. The Guardian’s sloppy reporting puts the entire article in some doubt – although it is quite true that when cannabis is legalized, the criminal cartels lose out and there is less criminal violence – why? Because legal businesses have the protection of the law.

    1. Wukchumni

      While the Mexican cartels smuggle other drugs such as cocaine, heroine and metamphetamine across the border
      ~~~~~~~~~
      We in the Palinstinian Movement long suspected that the Sarah’s Alaska gambit was cover for her being a ‘Meskin drug mule.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “$6,000 depending on the quality.”

      Not knowing anything at all about that market, is it possible that the very top end, for those who can afford it (in some of the richest zip codes in the world), that’s what they pay?

      1. barryobamacokehead

        No way you can get 6k per pound, even if it was primo bud. 3k is the ceiling, and it is falling in California.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Crime rates down with legalization….

      An important point to remember is that corporate rent-extraction is OK.

      And so, with legalization, big corporations can now move in and impose neoliberalism on that agricultural sector.

      And we tell ourselves that crime is down.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      $6000/lb works out to $93.75 for a quarter ounce, which is not an unreasonable price at all for product that is considered high quality. Granted, this is much higher than what one could purchase cannabis for at a store in a state that has legalized it, but not all states have. In places where you can’t buy legally, this is still the going rate.

      Somebody at NC pointed out this website a while ago – http://www.priceofweed.com. The data is self-reported from people who have supposedly made purchases, so probably take with a grain of salt, but if you click around a bit you’ll find prices around $360/ounce.

    5. FluffytheObeseCat

      In c. 2011 an ounce of high to medium quality weed was selling for more than $300 U.S. in the west coast reacreational market. That is $4800/lb. Prices tended to be even higher in the Bible Belt, where the market was (and still is) blackest. I do not find the Guardian price quote to be too far off of what a pound may have been worth at the retail level prior to legalization. It’s much less now everywhere because of legalization throughout the west.

      1. Wukchumni

        For the longest time the value of ‘Acapulco Gold’ was roughly equal to the value of all that glitters per oz, from the late 60’s until around the turn of the century, with the exception of 1979-80.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Competition, comrades: four years after Colorado pioneered recreational cannabis in the US, some shops are offering — I’m not making this up — $100 ounces.

        You might suspect it would be ditch weed, but you’d be wrong. The bud I was shown tested in the low 20s for THC content.

        I was also shown a $125 ounce of hybrid with 30.8% THC content. That produced a sharp pang of buyer’s remorse, having already laid in a supply of my favorite kryptonite at twice the price. :-(

        Colorado is two thousand miles away from Ku Klux Jay-uff.

        1. ambrit

          Yeah, but don’t underestimate the “reach” of the Feds.
          States Rights are a perennial point of dispute. There was an unpleasant episode way back in the mid eighteen hundreds involving it. I seem to remember reading that the Feds won that round.
          So, to mind game this a bit; suppose the Feds raided the biggest cannabis sales venue in downtown Denver. Would the local cops oppose them? Would the local vigilantes oppose them? Would a carpet of stoners block the streets around the sales venue to practice a ‘die off’ style civil disobedience action? If that, how would the local cops react? Would they turn their backs and pretend not to notice? I suggest that the police, of all levels, actions in suppressing Occupy are a precedent. By coordinating police forces at all levels, the Homeland Security are forming a nation wide police force. Old Sheriff Andy Taylor was a mythological character. He was how most would like their police to be. The reality today is far, far different.

          1. Duck1

            wonder if there is a Fed crackdown asset forfeiture will be the playbook used?
            no trial, no jury nullification
            and probably some fat assets to seize from the weed entrepreneurs

            1. Oregoncharles

              Yes, I think so. I think that’s the real reason for Sessions’ move.

              However, so far it looks like the the actual US attorneys in those states have no stomach for the fight. For one thing, it would end any political ambitions they might have – for instance, the recent US Attorney for western Washington is now mayor of Seattle, and probably on her way up.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Given the amount of money the states, and presumably even localities, are making from legal weed, I bet the police would have very strict orders.

            Actually, I think these things will happen.

    6. Oregoncharles

      So legalization is bad for the cartels (no surprise). Isn’t there a strong prima facie case that Mr. Sessions is working for the cartels?

  19. DJG

    Emmacaterine in the article Truth on the Marionettes sums up with a good list of tactics. I am copying and pasting here because the issue of tactics comes up often among the commentariat. Worth considering:

    –Fostering The Kind Of Intellectual Discourse That Can Be Used In Future Policy: Despite the sizable amount of independent Leftist media, from academic journals to podcasts, most of the discourse is not something that can be translated into a white paper or even campaign slogan. And most frustrating to me, we do not confront what are often obvious legal issues with our ideal policies (I am still waiting for anyone, anyone, to tell me how we are going to work around a Sebelius challenge if we get Medicare For All passed federally). Luckily some have started to do this like the People’s Policy Project, Modern Money Network, and Law and Political Economy. Of course none of these will ever have the kind of backing that corporations provide ICLE with, but as Truth on the Market shows you do not need a flashy outlet to provide important and useful content.
    –Fostering Connections Between The Intellectual Left And The Political Left: The aforementioned intellectual discourse, even if perfectly written so as to be perfectly fit into legislation or oral testimony, will not matter if it is not championed by the political movements and organizations of the Left. For leaders in groups like Democratic Socialists of America, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, Socialist Alternative, and so on, any campaigns or candidates put forth should take advantage of the thorough research and insight available.
    –Gaining Positions In Institutions: While the federal hiring freeze is a bit of a stumbling block, the Left should be encouraging its own to attain positions in both governmental and private institutions of power, particularly those with regulatory authority. Note that in the U.S. “regulatory” does not necessarily mean governmental, especially in the professions (e.g. the American Bar Association) and certain sectors of technology that grew more quickly than their government counterparts (e.g. the PCI Security Standards Council).
    –Synthesizing With Purpose: The Left is actually pretty good at bringing people together, as shown by the seemingly endless array of conferences and panels that happen every year. But one question often pops into my head after attending such events – so what? Almost as painful as this is the five minute wrap where the host quickly barrages the audience with tasks to plug into the campaign. Panels should be used carefully and sparingly. If you do not have, as Manne did in his panels, both the intellectual and implementation components represented, with clear connections made between the analysis and its application through policy, the panel is academic wankery or a really bad organizing meeting. That is obviously a callous way to put it, but the callous nature of Leftists holding panels to hear themselves talk needs to end. If your panel does not have a purpose, don’t have it. And if that means ending Left Forum et al, so be it.

    1. Oregoncharles

      What is ” a Sebelius challenge”? I never heard of it, and suspect this item is BS.

      OTOH, I can support “not something that can be translated into a white paper or even campaign slogan.” That’s important.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Germany, two-year, 28-hour working week.

    Under the union proposals, workers who opt for a 28-hour week in order to take care of young children or ageing parents would get an additional allowance of €200 per month. Those who want to take a break from doing shift work with a high health risk would be compensated with €750 per year.

    This seems to be a step more towards basic income, and away from work(hours) guarantee.

    They want time (and allowance for that).

  21. DJG

    Turtles, temperature, and sex of hatchlings: This study is in line with studies of the effect of temperature on invertebrates and on “cold-blooded” species. As the reporter and the scientists point out, the same phenomenon is likely to be happening among other turtle species. And the article mentions lizards and snakes, too. In some species, higher ambient temperature is associated with more succcess at hatching a brood.

    There are some species that we may not want to be more successful, like viruses.

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/body-heat-kill-viral-infections-common-cold-391713

    Viruses have evolved to be attuned to temperature. This year, people are complaining that the strain of flu is particularly virulent and that the flu vaccine isn’t effective against it. Hmmm. I wonder why.

    1. crittermom

      It is a very poor (misleading) title to an otherwise excellent article (but I appreciate your humor regarding that).

      The turtles are not “turning female”. I can’t believe Natl Geo even used that terminology! Have they been crapified to the point of sensationalism with a ‘hook’ like that? *palm meets forehead*

      More females are born when the eggs are incubated in warmer sand, more males in cooler sand, with the ratio always being tilted toward the females. They are born female, not “turning” so.

      The biologists discovered that whereas the ratio of female to male was 6 to 1 in the 70’s & 80’s, it is now 116 to 1 due to rising temperatures. WAY more than they expected to find.

      Lousy headline. Great article.

  22. Kevin

    “People who are made to feel deprived see themselves as less competent. They are more susceptible to conspiracy theories. And they are more likely to have medical problems.”

    I take a bit of umbrage at the notion that people who are poor “feel” deprived and thus the “see” themselves as less competent. The appropriate statement would be to say that people are deprived by definition of being poor and that people overall tend to treat them as less competent because American Culture treats Wealth with a form of mysticism and Darwinian grandeur that equates to competency. As for susceptibility to conspiracy theories, many would describe the idea of systemic oppression by the affluent classes of modern capitalism to be such…so really it all depends on your definition.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Anybody here remember the blue eyes-brown eyes experiment some years ago? The point of the experiment was about race but I think that it had application on how the ‘lower’ group reacted to their treatment and how their grades deteriorated. Take away the racial component of this experiment and I think that you are left with a lot of insight into how classism works in practice.
      I must also mention something that happened in the UK many years ago. A new teacher was given a list of ‘good’ kids and ‘bad’ kids in a class that she was taking over. There was trouble at first but then things smoothed out. At the end of the term it was discovered that there had been a blunder with the two lists and that the ‘good’ kids were the ‘bad’ kids and vica versa.
      When asked, the teacher found that how she treated the kids was not working at first and was causing trouble until she varied her teaching methods. But get this. It was found that the ‘bad’ kids had their grades improve across the board and started to flourish that term while the ‘good’ kids had their grades deteriorate badly. Things like that make you think.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ideas not regulated by the government (freedom of thought/speech), but freely exchanged in class, and whose values (monetary or non-monetary) are determined by free intellectual ‘market’ forces.

    That’s what a university is.

    From the Berkeley article:

    Further, Berkeley officials must regain control of their campus by facing down student dissidents bent on determining who may or may not appear on campus, what can be said, what issues may be pursued, what may and may not be taught, and how professors must express themselves in the classroom. Trigger warnings should be brushed aside, and “safe spaces” for aggrieved parties should be seen as a betrayal of the school’s commitment to the free expression of ideas. Today, conservative dissenters are drummed out of courses while white students have been actively blocked from entering campus due to their race by other students. That must end.

    If you were a cat and looking at this, what would say to yourself? “I’m lucky I am a cat?”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As for private-public partnership:

      An IPO would draw on the hundreds of thousands of living Cal alumni, their families, and interested California residents who want a say in how their university operates. With just the 300 or so highest net worth Berkeley alumni controlling $125 billion in wealth, there are vast reserves of cash available for rebuilding the endowment while paring back costs. With a permanent veto in the hands of state lawmakers, the institution could not be sold off or drastic decisions made without the indirect consent of California voters. That should be enshrined in a state constitution provision stipulating no sale of state shares is permitted without the explicit assent of voters.

      Maybe they let Stanford buy it out.

    2. ambrit

      Uh, what if the observer were, say, a hep-cat? (Much less a Beat.) At once, the question ascends into a hairless monkey stage of complexity.
      Imagine how the Beats, much less the San Francisco Renaissance, would be treated today. They had the handicap of being real voices of dissent, not mere hacks servicing one modern clique or another.
      The face of conformism is a mirror.

    3. Duck1

      Berkeley grad, 1970’s vintage. This guy needs to clutch his pearls and faint on his couch.
      According to the writing, the admins have run the place into a fiscal ditch, yet must face down the dissidents to regain control of the campus. Run one of the nuclear weapons labs, big campus, all kinds of programs–humanities and STEM–grinding the undergrads to cover their cost to the institution. Its always been a undergrads can get lost kind of place, run for the big boyz.

  24. dcblogger

    I would just LUV reporters from NC commenters on Democratic primaries taking place in their jurisdictions. there is no substitute for reports from the ground.

  25. Wukchumni

    Trump unapologetic despite storm over ‘vile and racist’ comments FT
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Giving an apology is akin to being exposed to kryptonite for Super{ego}Man.

  26. Tooearly

    +100
    I read thousands of tweets about this yesterday as I live in Hawaii and very few if any at all bothered to make the point that you are making

    Needless to say basements are almost completely absent feature of the residential real estate here in Hawaii and bomb shelters are long since gone and the notion of hunkering down for a couple of weeks of nuclear radiation is an utter fantasy. Meanwhile the hospitals are already filled with flu cases so where would all these casualties go?

    1. Anon

      Umm, there is NO limited nuclear war. Basements and bomb shelters are essentially useless when it comes to radioactivity exposure.

  27. Chauncey Gardiner

    Not to sanction pervasive corruption in high places anywhere in the world, but it would be interesting to know who and what the Chinese billionaire in the linked NY Times article under the “China?” category actually stands for, and why. Difficult to accumulate wealth of the magnitude suggested without playing fast and loose in the time and place with those who controlled the favor bank. Based on his statements, he apparently values extreme wealth, or at least the illusion. Unsurprising to me that some human rights activists and dissidents, many of whom have served time or been arrested and threatened with prison under the regime, are reportedly not particularly supportive. On the face of it, appears to me to just be flight capital in exile. But as the reporter notes, there is much in this that we don’t know.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    I am about to make a comment which would have fit better at the Trump-did-us-a-climate-change-favor thread. But this computer can only keep so many windows open at a time. And the comment was inspired by the “bitcoin mania” article at NYRB. So this is the second best place for it.

    I note that the article informs us that . . .
    “Still, it’s not exactly free money. Marco Streng, the cofounder of Genesis Mining, estimates that it costs his company around $400 in electricity alone to mine each bitcoin. That’s because bitcoin mining is not only computationally intensive, it is energy-intensive. By one estimate, the power consumption of bitcoin mining now exceeds that of Ireland and is growing so exponentially that it will surpass that of the entire United States by July 2019. A year ago, the CEO of BitFury, Valery Vavilov, reckoned that energy accounted for between 90 and 95 percent of his company’s bitcoin-mining costs. According to David Gerard—whose new book, Attack of the Fifty Foot Blockchain, is a sober riposte to all the upbeat forecasts about cryptocurrency like the Tapscotts’—“By the end of 2016,” a single mining facility in China was using “over half the estimated power used by all of Google’s data centres worldwide at the time.”

    Now . . . that’s a lot of global-warming CO2 to be dumping into the air over the next 5 years. The only way to put a stop to that would be to exterminate bitcoin and every other cryptocurrency so thoroughly that no such thing can ever rise again to pollute the air and warm the global.

    But how? Direct efforts to outlaw cryptocurrency in order to prevent all this carbon release will only make the libertarians burn even more carbon with even more layers of digital disguise and misdirection over their carbon-dumping cryptocurrency action. The only way to exterminate cryptocurrency is to somehow lure all the participants into blowing it up into such a huge bubble so fast that it can explode catastrophically and destroy the economic ability of all people who have or ever will want to have a cryptocurrency to ever be able to afford so much as one bitcoin ever again. Every participant in cryptocurrency will have to be bubble-bursted down to a level of South Sudan famine camp poverty. Otherwise, this will happen all over again and will just keep happening until the Earth becomes Venus 2.0

    1. ambrit

      A very simple method of eliminating cryptocurrencies would be to make the possession and or use of one a capital offense. There. Government can be good for something.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That would only chase the cryptomoneys to jurisdictions where cryptomoney is not a capital offense. Certain governments would declare their territory to be cryptomoney havens. And the money laundrymen would go into cryptomoney laundering.

        I still hope there is a way to stoke such a bubble and such a bust as to leave all the major owners of cryptomoney bankrupt and starving to death in the streets. The cautionary example would repel others from cryptomoney for a while to come.

    2. Daryl

      A gov’t crackdown would, I think, be pretty effective at severely reducing mining. The companies now doing this are not ideologues, they’re essentially doing arbitrage of electricity prices around the world. Get rid of their ability to convert the fruits of said arbitrage into USD and it would definitely go away.

      1. Daryl

        Assuming they use the same proof-of-work model as bitcoin — then yeah, if they get popular, they will.

  29. The Rev Kev

    CES Was Full of Useless Robots and Machines That Don’t Work
    So it’s not just Apple that has ran out of new ideas and don’t know what to do next? Maybe the industry should take a break for a year and just spend the time fixing the junk software that they are pushing out the door. I’m sure most people would be on board with that idea.

  30. integer

    The weirdest, slur-laden response to Trump’s ‘shithole’ remarks Washington Examiner

    The responses to these reports have been negative. Very negative. The White House has done little to deny the story, and Republicans who were in the meeting have done nothing to disprove the allegations except to issue a weasely nondenial denial. As a consequence, the reactions to Trump’s remarks have grown angrier and angrier.

    But now that we’re coming up on the 24-hour mark in this news cycle, we can safely say that no one has responded to this story more angrily than CNN contributor and former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Mudd, who was so upset Thursday evening that he stopped making sense altogether…

    “Let’s be clear: A white honkey from Norway can come here, but a black dude from Haiti can’t. what does that tell you in an America that one — that in one generation called you a nigger,” he said, looking directly at Lemon, who is black. “What does that tell you, Don? I can tell you that — what, what that tells a honkey like me, we’re no different than we were a generation ago. And we’re learning the same lessons that we learned when we called a Chinese man a ‘slant-eye,’ when we called a man from Guatemala a ‘spic’ and a ‘wetback,’ and we called a black man a ‘nigger’. That’s what it tells me. We’ve got a ways to learn.”

    What are they teaching them at the CIA?

    Call us crazy, but we’re not sure the strongest and most effective response to the president’s remarks is to go on television and whip out a litany of slurs that you definitely have not been waiting to say on air.

    !!!

    1. integer

      https://www.philmudd.com/bio.html

      Philip Mudd joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1985 as an analyst specializing in South Asia and then the Middle East. He began work in the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center in 1992 and then served on the National Intelligence Council as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia (1995-98). After a tour as an executive assistant in the front office of the Agency’s analytic arm, Mr. Mudd went on to manage Iraq analysis at the CIA (1999-2001).

      Mr. Mudd began a policy assignment at the White House in early 2001, detailed from CIA to serve as the Director for Gulf Affairs on the White House National Security Council. He left after the September 11 attacks for a short assignment as the CIA member of the small diplomatic team that helped piece together a new government for Afghanistan, and he returned to CIA in early 2002 to become second-in-charge of counterterrorism analysis in the Counterterrorist Center. He was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of the Center in 2003 and served there until 2005.

  31. Matthew G. Saroff

    Wahlberg?

    You mean the guy who committed hate crimes in his youth? (He assaulted a number of Vietnamese-Americans, beating at least one severely)

    That’s rich.

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