Links 1/15/18

Dolphin Mirror Self-Recognition: the Science and the Ethics Whale Sanctuary Project

Global Economy to Edge Up to 3.1 percent in 2018 but Future Potential Growth a Concern The World Bank (full report). “However, this is largely seen as a short-term upswing. Over the longer term, slowing potential growth—a measure of how fast an economy can expand when labor and capital are fully employed—puts at risk gains in improving living standards and reducing poverty around the world.”

One cold snap burns 11.5% of US natural gas supplies; 8 more weeks like that and our gas storage will be totally empty Focus on Fracking. To be fair, they call it a “snap” because it doesn’t last for 8 weeks. But lots of interesting data.

New Study Showing Ozone Recovery Hailed as Model for Tackling Climate Crisis EcoWatch

Facebook Execs Sold $4bn in Stock Last Year Market Mogul

A new market for old and ugly fruit and vegetables takes shape The Economist. How about humorous ones?

Detroit Auto Show May Be Celebrating an Era About to End NYT

Self-driving cars raise fears over ‘weaponisation’ FT. Baidu COO Qi Lu: “You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.”


Brexit is an electrifying moment for renewing the NHS Politico. “The greatest asset and the most special and extraordinary thing about the NHS is their willingness to go the extra mile for it. That’s because it is a uniquely and quirkily British, national, not-for-profit service for all citizens based on need, rather than ability to pay.” “Quirkily British.” As opposed, ya know, to being a beacon of hope for suffering humanity.

Ministers face questions over Carillion contracts FT. “One person who attended the Cabinet Office meeting said the government was open to the idea of underwriting the group’s debts, even as a temporary measure, to secure more funding from bankers.” Of course they are.

The company that runs Britain is near to collapse. Watch and worry Guardian. More on Carillion.

Medical records of thousands of patients were handed to US firms connected to tobacco industry by British health officials, Telegraph probe reveals The Telegraph

Opportunities for Scotland in the ‘New North’ Cable

Italy’s Five Star leader faces test of credibility as election looms FT


The most valuable military real estate in the world Politico. Djibouti. From a new Politico series: “The Coming Wars,” plural. Hoo boy.

Clausewitz Takes Down the Caliphate: The Center of Gravity in the Destruction of the State of the Islamic State Small Wars Journal. Interesting read. Big if true.

President Trump’s ‘Friends’ in Saudi Arabia Andrew Bacevich, The American Conservative

How Hello Kitty manhole art is helping Japan’s sewage industry clean up its act South China Morning Post

Trump Transition

Trump says that he is ‘not a racist,’ denies souring chances for immigration overhaul by using vulgarity WaPo. If you’re explaining, you’re losing. If only Trump had used the appropriate liberal locution — “Third World” — this sadly unnecessary conflict could have been deflected….

Lawmakers bemoan backlash over Trump’s comments amid bipartisan push for DACA deal CNN. Crocodile tears among several species of crocodiles.

Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal The Hill

Meet the 24-year-old Trump campaign worker appointed to help lead the government’s drug policy office WaPo. The Old Codger Speaks: One problem the Bush administration had was that its base in the Christian right, despite the best efforts of Liberty University, et al., really couldn’t supply the cadres of apparatchiks needed to run the Federal government. (They did well through the Federalist Society on “qualified” judges, but that’s not the same as filling slots in the agencies with the right sort of Flexian). The Trump administration, with an even narrower and more conflicted base, has an even greater problem (assuming, of course, that the Republicans really do wish to govern; an equally problematic question for liberal Democrats. Yes, at Justice political and ideological affiliations aren’t supposed to figure in hiring career attorneys, but I mean, come on.)

John Dean: Nixon ‘Might Have Survived If There’d Been a Fox News’ Politico

Trump’s fiery first year is not all that unusual. Ask Bill Clinton Niall Ferguson, South China Morning Post

Shawn Vestal: Only in Wonderland is Congress insuring children’s health The Spokesman-Review

Incidental Collection Under Section 702 Has Probably Contributed to Trump’s Downfall, Too emptywheel

Police State Watch

Inmate Chews Own Fingers Off After Private Prison Health Care Left Him in Unbearable Pain, Court Papers Say Newsweek (DK). DK: “Have had extreme and constant chronic pain before, so can relate to this.”

Health Care

Don’t make the poor work for health care The Week

The Individual Insurance Market In 2018: Business As Usual? Health Affairs

Imperial Collapse Watch

What it was Like Thinking a Ballistic Missile was Speeding Toward Us in Hawaii Washington’s Blog

New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama’s drones Guardian. From 2012, still relevant.

False missile alarm tests journalism’s response Poynter Institute

Realignment and Legitimacy

Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires Bernie Sanders, Guardian

Nothing Would Be More Tragic Than to Turn Back Now William Barber, The Nation

America is spiritually bankrupt. We must fight back together Cornel West, Guardian

Poll: Nearly half of Americans think economy is doing well The Hill. They buried the lead: “Another 49 percent of respondents indicated they believe the U.S. is run for the benefit of a few elites. By comparison, 28 percent said they believe the country is run for the benefit of the people, while 22 percent said neither.”

Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not NYT. “The goal may be decentralization, but the money is extremely concentrated. Coinbase has more than 13 million accounts that own cryptocurrencies. Data suggests that about 94 percent of the Bitcoin wealth is held by men, and some estimate that 95 percent of the wealth is held by 4 percent of the owners.” We might, then, consider reframing “scam” to “primitive accumulation” in the context of the neoliberal legitimacy crisis we are all enmeshed in.

Neoliberal Epidemics

Maternal mortality statistics Modern Medicine. “In the past 20 years while maternal mortality ratios (MMR) have fallen 48% in developed nations and 44% worldwide, the number of maternal deaths in the United States has actually doubled.” America is already great. There is nothing we can’t accomplish when we work together.

Deneuve apologises to sex attack victims after controversial letter France24. “… who might have felt offended….”

Ladies, let’s be reasonable about #MeToo or nothing will ever be sexy again WaPo. Pelosi’s dynastic heir…

Class Warfare

As Labor Pool Shrinks, Prison Time Is Less of a Hiring Hurdle NYT

John Dewey’s Experiments in Democratic Socialism Jacobin

Can Artificial Intelligence induce empathy? MIT Media Lab. They plan to create a training set with captchas.

Ross Macdonald: lexical diversity over the lifespan Language Log

‘Milkshake Duck’ Voted Macquarie Dictionary’s Idol-Killing Word Of The Year Pedestrian

Antidote du jour (via):

Via Richard Smith: “A baby porcupine is called a porcupette.” News you can use!

Bonus antidote: Leveling up my cat game (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. el_tel

    re: Brexit energising the NHS

    Yes, it could……co-payments (a la Australia for primary care) are (IMO) a major way of improving the service, but I fail to see how any of this is dependent upon BREXIT. The NHS can be improved – and the changes largely have little to do with BREXIT.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yes, NHS benefits should only come to those who put some skin in the game. Maybe there should be a work-for-treatment like Kentucky just instituted. Lots of ways to improve NHS, like running it like a business. And so forth. Nothing to do with Brexit. Not linked in any way at all.

      1. Procopius

        Skin in the game is their life. I don’t think you truly believe that people take advantage of health care because it’s so much fun.

        1. JTMcPhee

          My bad. Should have added /s to my comment. Too subtle. The notion that copayment wold in any way “improve” the NHS or any other “medical diagnosis and treatment” delivery system or institution is and ought to be anathema. But the neoliberal patterns of thought have be come so, ah, impacted in “society” that it’s hard to perform a neoliberalotomy without leaving neo-plastic cells in the invaded tissues… Thus, “incentives for healthy lifestyles.” Market manipulations. Gonna pay people to stop smoking or eating junk food or using opiods to death? How much? Which set of credentialed people decide who and how much based on what algos? The incentives will pretty uniformly be STICKS and CLUBS and cops and prisons, not the other kind.

          Always two questions? Cui bono, and where does the money end up. Though the answer to both is too often the same…

  2. Wombat

    For those following the Zinke-assisted extractor public land grab out West, a 60 day period of public comment is being opened for the “management” of 1.87 Million acres (1.5 size of Delaware) of our lands in Utah:

    The rushed Resource Management Plans are being pushed despite ongoing lawsuits challenging the 4 December revoking of monument protections.

    Revoking monument protections was a necessary step before extractors could get their mittens dirty, and alas there is clean coal in them hills:

    “Parties interested in leasing and development of Federal coal in areas that are excluded from the monument should provide coal resource data for their area(s) of interest. . . . This information will be used for any necessary updating of coal screening determinations and in the environmental analysis, completion of which would be necessary before any proposal to lease or develop Federal coal in such areas.”

    These lands that were monuments a month ago are apparently unofficially open for business; and perhaps the extractors have already secretly divvied up who will top which mountains, because 60 days does not seem like much time to explore, research, and submit “coal resource data” unless groundwork has already been laid.

    1. scarno

      As I understand it, there is a lot of coal in the Kaiparowits Plateau. This coal cannot be reached except through long shafts. It is not profitable to remove the whole mountain in this area. Other problems for potential mining include a lack of a local labor pool, and difficulty transporting any coal that is extracted for refining and production. These facts give me some hope that while much of the “de-monumented” land may be auctioned off to private parties, resource extraction won’t actually happen at scale. That, of course, assumes that lawsuits to stop the process won’t succeed or that popular opposition among Utahns does not reach a critical mass. I think both of those possibilities are likely. Take heart, we can win this one and time is on our side.

      1. Openthepodbaydoorshal

        Back in the day I made a banner Burn Watt not Coal and flashed it at the last grifter trying to rape the Kaiparowits

  3. funemployed

    Not using CFC’s is quite different than not burning fossil fuels. The former is a convenient thing to help make stuff blow out of cans – the latter provides the bulk of our energy and underpins our civilization. Really not the same at all, so no, not a good model for slowing climate change.

    1. Alex V

      I think the point is that cooperation and solidarity is achievable, not that they are equivalent problems on a technical scale. Climate change is of course a much larger problem, but the Montreal Protocol (signed by none other than Ronnie Ray-gun) shows that international agreements can work when the parties involved actually follow them.

      1. Jef

        The reason the Montreal Protocol worked was because it represented little or no financial impact on economies. There were and still are many options to CFCs that can plug right in to existing infrastructure.

        FFs are the most traded thing in the world as well as the energy that makes the global economy work.

        BIG difference.

        1. Alex V

          So what’s your proposed solution? Are you saying cooperation is physically impossible?

          This is essentially a political problem. We could drastically change the course of the crisis using existing technologies, by both changing to renewables and while reducing consumption.

          If Bitcoin can from essentially zero to using as much electricity as Ireland in the span of a few years you underestimate the possibility for rapid change.

          1. funemployed

            I don’t have a solution. Pretty sure we’re well and truly family blogged. Only hope the change isn’t too rapid.

        2. witters

          I call this the Cass Sunstein Big Difference. He argues that Montreal was fine, but Kyoto was not. The difference? “The costs to the US economy”. Like sure Man.

  4. timotheus

    Re: Ballistic missile speeding toward us . . . and Poynter link, see Moon of Alabama, “Is all of this part of a public relation campaign designed to increase the acceptance of new nuclear weapons and ‘limited’ nuclear warfare?” Notes recent leak of Draft Nuclear Posture Review and military demand for many “small” nukes.

  5. Meher Baba Fan

    Guardian has excellent piece by Mr Money Mustache on not speculating on bitcoin. Raises points I’ve not seen outside of this sites editorial and commenters. Unable to link , apologise

    Sorry to see Catherine Denevue forced into apology. Aren’t people allowed to have contrary views? It’s not like she and colleagues didnt articulate their view in depth and breadth. Flip flops like that are also disapointing because its hard to believe an abrupt reversal is how someone really feels , rather than just being for public consumption. Handy tip – don’t disagree with Denevue and friends unless you’ve lived for a considerable time in Europe.
    Some of the Golden Globes hosts comments were outrageous ‘ We herald a new progessive era at this event tonight ‘ etc. Really? I didn’t see the words ‘ for all women’ in any such statement.

    1. todde

      Catherine Denevue is a Roman Polanski apologist. Family blog her. She can go up against the wall with the rest of them.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        todde- ‘family blog Denevue’
        you are right. thanks for that. may i rephrase comment to refer to ‘the 99 other authors of the french letter’ (cough)

        1. todde

          family blog the other 99 too.

          They are upset that they are being told how to act, and that is all the letter is about.

          That kind of thing is only for the common folk, not the exceptional people.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            The haute doyennes of #metoo happily, with great pleasure, ignore the difference between insults and rape. On acount of the fact they are far more likely to have dealt with distasteful insults than assault. They do not work the kind of jobs that lead to being cornered very often, and they’re pretending the few tough breaks they have faced = the dangers faced by real working class women.

            The creative class darlings who are powering this “movement” are not “the common folk”; they are the “exceptional people” and they are avid in their desire to make that fact known. You are pretending they are the dental hygenists and janitors of our world. That is a vile lie and you, and the darlings of this stagey effort, know it. Hence the rabid bully-bluster in places like NC. Insistent verbal aggression is a ‘tell’ that a professional class dominance gamester is working overtime to distract readers from the self-dealing mendacity of her arguments.

            1. Oregoncharles

              “dental hygenists”
              Anyone stupid enough to grope a woman who has sharp tools in his mouth deserves what happens to him.

              I do take your point, though; the big issue isn’t actresses, it’s ordinary working women in vulnerable situations.

              However, credit where it’s due, that is exactly what the “Time’s Up” fund is for.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > However, credit where it’s due, that is exactly what the “Time’s Up” fund is for.

                Showing the limits of #MeToo with extraordinary precision:

                1) They will permit fundraising for professional women of their own class to bring suits “on behalf of” working class women;

                2) They will not even consider self-organizing by working class women acting together. I bet a $17 million fund would go a long way doing field work.

            2. todde

              family blog the #metoo movement too.

              this isn’t binary. I never said one word in support of the #metoo movement.

            3. todde

              I can tell by the letter that Catherine Denevue heart bleeds for the common folk.

              If she is so concerned about ‘puritan’ values encroaching on her libertine rights, perhaps she should google ‘sex with amputees’ and she can get her fill of non puritan enabled sex.

                1. adrena

                  The problem with Catherine Deneuve is she believes female sexuality is all about what men want. Women have nothing to do with it.

                  1. todde

                    The problem with Catherine is that when one of her rich powerful friends is convicted for raping one of the common folk and flees sentencing she defends him.

                    So I don’t really believe she’s concerned about ‘due process’ or ‘conflating rape with harrassment’

                    She is on record defending rapist. If you don’t want people thinkg you’re an apologist for rapist, don’t defend rapist.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “One cold snap burns 11.5% of US natural gas supplies; 8 more weeks like that and our gas storage will be totally empty”
    So where exactly does the US plan to get enough gas to supply all of Europe like that want to? And if the US is trying to force the Europeans to buy this gas at twice the price as they could get from the Russians, does that mean that nearly all gas will be exported leaving little for the local market because of the price that they can get?
    Ironically, during the cold snap, places like Boston were importing gas via ships that originally came from a country whose name began with ‘R’ – no wait, make that a country whose name ended in ‘ussia’.

    1. rjs

      the problem is that there is absolutely no co-ordination between those drilling for gas, those building pipelines, those distributing gas, those planning to use it for power generation, and those writing contracts to ship it out of the country…they all believe their own hype that we have such a great surplus, when that surplus developed over two winters during which heating demand was 17% below normal…

      the price of natural gas has remained at a level that has encouraged its use for electrical generation and exports, but discouraged new drilling in all but the best spots…when the shortage gets serious, the price will spike and drilling will pick back up, but they’ll be pain in the interim…and as i pointed out in closing, the exporters and utilities will be using gas that is already under contract at current low prices, while residential users will see their prices spike to meet the new equilibrium

  7. Lee

    A new market for old and ugly fruit and vegetables takes shape The Economist.

    We have a little open-air produce stand in the middle of our downtown heroically resisting a trend supported by our local gov and market forces that have gotten rid of such mom and pops, replacing them with respectably sterile chain stores. In winter they have the ugliest but best tasting Mandarin oranges and in summer the ugliest but best tasting Valencia oranges I’ve ever tasted. To name but two of their many yummy off-beat offerings.

    1. Brian

      There was no mention in the story about how the fruit was grown. We can get odd looking organic F and V’s from our local farmers market and they taste just fine. If it is grown using roundown or another poison, one would expect bizarre interference with growth and it might be a put off to discerning shoppers. Should these distinctions be a factor?

    2. visitor

      Most of us have certainly experienced the following:

      a) When buying from the local producer (as you do), we do not care that the fruits or vegetables are uncalibrated, oddly formed, speckled.

      b) When getting fruits or vegetables from family or a friend, we do not care that they look old, ugly, or even partially spoiled.

      c) When buying from a supermarket, the slightest blemish or wilt will immediately raise suspicion and lead to rejection of the offering.

      It is a very common and apparently normal reaction, but I have been wondering about the underlying mechanism. Is it a matter of trust? But then, if we do not trust those large, impersonal retailers and consider their “old and ugly” produce as unacceptable, why should we be more reassured and accept it when it is impeccable-looking?

      1. Wukchumni

        There are many thousands of apple varieties, so why are we always offered only the same 7 or so in supermarkets in the USA?

        A lot of it has to do with appearance, some of the 40 different types we grow here kind of look as if they got hit by the ugly stick, quite russeted, or too small, or likely to have blemishes of some sort, or assorted minor maladies that would cause us to recoil at the very sight of them.

        1. Lord Koos

          Appearance is a factor certainly, but how well the type of apple keeps is one of the main reasons you don’t see more variety. Another reason to buy local produce if possible.

          At one point in my life I spent a bit of time in Jamaica, they had best tasting, worst-looking oranges I ever tasted.

          Americans now live far from the farms that supply their food and most have no idea what home-grown food looks like. Or what it tastes like, which is normally so much better than what you can get in the supermarket. Making produce less perishable and more uniform seems to destroy the flavor in many cases.

          1. Wukchumni

            Some of my early apples such as Red Astrachan, Anna or Dorsett Golden-which ripen in July, have absolutely no staying power, in fact after you take the first bite, the interior will start to go brown pretty quick. You gotta eat em’ promptly after picking, as they are the sprinters of the Malus Palace here.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Some of the very best tasting apples and pears are heavily russeted (rough brown skin), as a varietal characteristic. For some varieties, like the winter pears Comice and D’Anjou, it varies with cultural conditions. For instance, copper spray, used to control bacterial diseases, increases it. Some of the best tasting Comice I’ve had were solid brown. I don’t use copper on them, so ours are considerably short of that.

          Blemishes really do reflect the level of care. For instance, scab causes little brown spots – or huge, distorting ones, if you spray too late. Even organic growers can produce a lot of blemish-free fruit if they try hard enough – but I don’t think it’s worth it.

          1. Wukchumni

            I planted a Hudson’s Golden Gem last year, and it has rave reviews for a russet apple, can’t wait to taste it!

            1. Oregoncharles

              “Ashmead’s Kernel” is another wonderful one, if you’re planting more trees. Tart and strongly flavored.

              I assume you have a way to keep the deer away from them. Cats don’t really do the job, unless they’re cougars.

              1. Wukchumni

                This gent is the guru on growing apples in hot California summers, and he relates that Ashmead’s Kernel couldn’t stand the heat, so a no go.


                Every tree here has a triangular fence about 8x8x8 feet, with 7 foot high chicken wire around it. The dear deers can only look, but not pillage.

      2. Lee

        Good point. Personal accountability matters on both sides of a transaction. If my neighbor or an established local proprietor poisons me, my surviving loved ones know whom to go after. With a large corporation responsibility is typically diffuse, obscure, and free of feelings of mutual fidelity that arise with personal contact.

      3. Meher Baba Fan

        Interesting. Subliminal plus habit. Large supermarkets only buy perfect looking produce, oversized banannas from massive high yield farming productions etc. they place fluro lights in the produce section to hide the true visual image and imperfections. and we are used to everything being perfectly uniform in a supermarket. perhaps the trick is to conciously break this habit by selecting less than cosmetic produce ?

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe to do with the mental conditioning that when we sit down in a restaurant, we expect the same dish to taste better.

        “But it tastes the same as the one I made last night.”

        “No, it really is better.”

        “Then, you can sleep on the couch tonight.”

      5. Shazz

        The real issue I think is freshness and supply chain length. The produce in the supermarket is often very old by the time it hits the shelves. Any blemishes are a good indication of poor quality and impending decay. Even the good looking stuff often tastes bad in these circumstances. If the produce is freshly picked and coming off a short supply line then a little blemish probably won’t impact the quality of the final product as long as it is consumed quickly.

    3. The Heretic

      Corporate standardization of food has also been pushed by the buying preferences of consummers. I feel that people are so harried now that they don’t have time to appreciate the difference between an ok tasting fruit, and a really good tasting fruit. The other problem is that people don’t know how to pick their produce; they pick the most attractive (freshest unblemished) looking fruit, when in actual fact slight blemishes can be a good sign for maturity and good flavour. Or people prefer convenience, hence supermarkets sell the Abomination (Watermelon without seeds). A thing , of convenient size and weight, some sweetness but little flavour; a pale shadow compared its glorious 20lb+ ancestor, which had some seed but was full of sweetness and flavour

      I miss those watermelons :(

      My family came from Indonesia, where most people bought frommopen markets, and people learned to pick fruit properly, so i had the opportunity to learn from them.

      1. Oregoncharles

        One example is figs. I like them really, really ripe, at the bag-of-syrup stage. So the uglier the fig, the better it tastes, up to where it rots. But they can’t be sold at that stage – they’d disintegrate all over the display!

        And ripe bananas are black, not yellow.

    4. bob

      Even this “industry” is purported to be over-regulated, and needing relief from the market-

      “Third, liability must be sorted out. Products may arrive too old to be usable and even in some cases spoiled and dangerous. A routine mismatch in payment terms between suppliers and the ultimate users, Mr Rabinovich notes, can leave the intermediary responsible, at least on paper, for inventory, even if it never touches the products. That can have the odd consequence of inadvertently making the intermediary a food-seller, falling under the regulatory umbrella of the USDA.”

      That sounds exactly like uber trying to make the case that they aren’t a cab company.

      Imagine that, you’re selling food and being called a food seller? The Horror!

      Is this just another industry/duopoly that is using its PR and lobbying arms to re-legislate their industry out of their industry?

      Or, are neoliberal critiques now de rigueur in any press purporting to cover “both sides” of the neoliberal divide?

    5. adrena

      I once bought a perfectly looking eggplant from the Amazonian “Whole Foods” store – it was completely rotten inside. How did this happen?

      Haven’t bought a vegetable there since. Everything at “Wholish Food” carries the crooked USDA stamp of approval.

    1. ambrit

      I found that the link got me to the site. I then scrolled down until the proper stub appeared.
      Sometimes it takes a little work.
      I for one, have always liked Macdonalds’ and his wifes’ (Margaret Millar,) crime fiction. This work seems to be trying to develop a predictive pattern for dementia. The question, apart from stylistic issues, (was George Sands suffering from the “vapours” while writing her later works, etc.,) seems to be, to what end is the entire program purposed? What therapeutic measures exist that can be deployed to reduce the onset of dementia?
      The other point of interest is, can spontaneous conversations be monitored for similar predictive signs? If we’re going to have a Panopticon, and now Panaudicon society, we might as well get some public goods out of it. Say, when a politician, or Oligarch crosses a threshold level of dementia predictive signs, he, she, or it is forced to ‘retire to a monastery,’ preferably on the slopes of Mons Olympus.

  8. EoH

    About the “weaponization” of self-driving cars, who would think this novel after reading Daniel Suarez? Or after a quick search on the Internets?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Self-driving cars raise fears over ‘weaponisation’ FT. Baidu COO Qi Lu: “You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.”

    In the middle of the night, in the garage, when you’re sleeping? That self-driving will move by itself?

    An escalator moves by itself. A juicer or blender moves by itself. As does a toy train. Or a vibrator.

    1. Lee

      Doesn’t weaponization assume human agency: a nefarious programming or hacking issue?

      OTOH, my car did try to kill me by shutting down the engine because of digital component failure while I was driving down a steep and curvy mountain road. I got the part replaced and we’re working on our trust issues.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Then, a traditional car is a weapon as well.

        ‘Let me put this car on cruise control.’

        He needs to say more than what he is quoted to have said, if it’s different or new here.

  10. Lee

    Self-driving cars raise fears over ‘weaponisation’ FT. Baidu COO Qi Lu: “You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.”

    No human behind the wheel who can be held accountable? A truly terrifying and moronic idea. I see all manner of bad driving here in the sf bay area. But at least there’s someone controlling the vehicle who shares my flesh and blood aversion to pain and death; someone to honk and yell at, not to mention their being ticketed or arrested.

    1. Wukchumni

      I don’t think i’ve used my horn in anger more than a few dozen times over the course of 4 decades of driving in the Golden State, although the gravity of the situational segue differs so much in the Big Apple, that I hear some new car dealers offer an extended warranty on them.

      1. Lee

        I prefer yelling things like “Learn to drive!”, which could be construed as a public service message. And I do love to honk my horn at people who fail to respond to green lights because they are either texting or nodding out at the wheel. I live in the sf bay area and there are a lot of people who seem to be unable to drive well and I guess it’s fair to say that I have anger issues when it comes to people operating a potentially lethal vehicle inattentively, rudely or dangerously. I do admire your restraint, though.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          I don’t miss traffic. I grew up in and around Houston, and lived in Austin for a time(not roads, but paved over cattle trails that are too small and silly for the number of folks using them)
          Way out here, the only traffic problem I encounter(aside from deer and the odd escaped livestock(the number one job of a local sheriff deputy, btw) is apparently Very Important People for whom 70 mph just isn’t fast enough.
          There’s few cops on the highways, and there’s rarely an opportunity to pass, so I punish these creatures when they ride my a$$ by slowing to a good old fashioned 55 mph.
          The worst are the sand trucks, hauling frac sand to oil and gas fields west and south.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ladies, let’s be reasonable about #MeToo or nothing will ever be sexy again WaPo. Pelosi’s dynastic heir…

    Do we need for anything or anyone to be sexy? (Maybe or maybe not.)

    Is sexiness a form of energy that drives? If so, what does it drive? (There are moments of clarity when I realize I am temporarily free of being enslaved to sexiness…liberating moments when I know that TV commercial has no effect on me at all…advertising money wasted by whomever paid for it).

    1. Lee

      Maybe it depends on what stage of life you are in.

      You know I was talking with some of the guys
      Some of the guys in this band are kind of
      You know over the hill.
      And they were talking about the
      Various stages that a man goes through
      In relation to his allure to the opposite sex
      It was not a scientific evaluation
      Just something that arose over a cup of coffee.

      It went something like this:

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

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

      Leonard Cohen

    2. Ranger Rick

      It drives nearly all mental illness, if you ascribe to Freud’s interpretation of the repression of desire.

  12. Meher Baba Fan

    New York Times 12 Jan. ‘Inside the story of Uber paying $100,000 to a hacker and the fallout’

  13. Alex V

    Regarding old and ugly fruit and veg, a new app (I know…) launched here in Sweden (founded in Finland) recently – it lets you “rescue” restaurant meals (at a discount) that would otherwise be tossed at the end of the day. Not sure if this enables worse logistical planning or more consumption in the end, but the concept is certainly interesting and perhaps a step in the right direction.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump says that he is ‘not a racist,’ denies souring chances for immigration overhaul by using vulgarity WaPo.

    Trump may get his Norwegian immigrants should the Norwegian Wealth Fund under perform badly in a market correction.

    1. Wukchumni

      Something like 10-15% of the total Norwegian population immigrated here in the 19th century, and although it seems as if they all ended up in Minnesota, I hear there’s a few dozen scattered in other states.

  15. cripes

    “Inmate Chews Own Fingers Off After Private Prison Health Care Left Him in Unbearable Pain, Court Papers Say ”

    This portends the “care” in store for elderly, indigents et al, forced into the Managed Care Organizations that have taken over Medicare/Medicaid around the country. No more old-style Medicaid for you.

    Under the rubric of patient centered medical homes and outcomes measurement, it’s nothing more than pools of capitated per-patient monthly fees to MCO’s ACO’s etc.
    At $800 a month or so per patient, any fool knows the only way to raise profits is…drumroll..reduce health care! And yes, Obama, with the total cooperation of the repugs, had everything to do with these looming Death Panels.

    On second thought, live patients in agonizing pain are continuing sources of income on the books. Perhaps we should be speaking of Pain Panels.

  16. freedeomny

    “The painful truth is there is no Donald Trump without Barack Obama, no neofascist stirrings without neoliberal policies – all within the imperial zone. Obama was the brilliant black smiling face of the American empire. Trump is the know-nothing white cruel face of the American empire.”

    Has West been ostracized by the black community for criticizing Obama? I’ve noticed when I communicate the above (in obv different words) to my black middle class friends I get the “cold” look. Is it a class thing or a black thing? What I liked/admired about Erica Garner was that she called out Obama, but for the most part you cannot criticize Obama to a black person even if the criticism is that he didn’t do enough for the black community….

    1. johnnygl

      I would advise sending them links to yvette carnell’s youtube page. She spits fire at obama and she’s already working over oprah.

      She does her shows with a narrow focus, specifically directed at african americans and issues that pertain to them. I have gotten into listening to her and irami osei-frimpong. They’re both really good, but have since parted ways with one another.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s an interesting source. (I’d throw in a routine caution that black politics is both an incredibly rich political tradition and extraordinarily complicated, and one way to think of it — a metaphor only — is as a gigantic conversation/quarrel in an extended family, and all of us who are not part of that family should be careful about joining in. Grabbing nuggets and talking points can be hazardous.)

        1. JohnnyGL

          I’ve grown to like her a lot, actually. I’ve actually listened to several hours of her shows. The recommendation doesn’t come lightly.

          I’ve got my criticisms, of course, but her presentation style is very good, easy to listen to, and she’s witty and funny. Very easy to leave on in the background to whatever you’re doing and rewind at the important parts.

          Her very narrow focus is frustrating at times, but I get why she does it.

          To your point, Lambert, she’s good at digging into the richness of the history and complexity of black politics.

          The celeb and political takedowns are fun, too! :)

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Based on my ongoing research, it appears to definitely be a class thing. The comfortably middle class of any race are utterly disconnected from anyone not of their class, who are scorned as “lazy” and/or “ignorant.” How much of that is a deeply buried “there but for the grace of the oligarchy go I” isn’t clear.

    3. perpetualWAR

      Criticizing Obama takes guts in my blue state. It’s hard for me to fathom people are unwilling to link Obama to 18 million unlawful foreclosures.

        1. JohnnyGL

          It also takes time, as well.

          This sort of thing is easier in real time, but we can’t easily roll the clock back to 2009 and say, “Look, he just appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. that means the fix is in.”

          Of course, from today’s vantage point, we can easily see the public option as a Lucy-with-the-football tactic from the Dems.

          Obama (and his media allies) were really good at what they did for 8 years: pulling the wool over people’s eyes and then blaming it all on those stubborn republicans for not doing all the wonderful things we want!

  17. cripes

    Yeah, it’s sad that after a century of struggle Booker T has finally prevailed over Frederick Douglas. But if you learned your history on Oprah, well, what can we expect?

  18. visitor

    Clausewitz Takes Down the Caliphate: The Center of Gravity in the Destruction of the State of the Islamic State Small Wars Journal. Interesting read. Big if true.

    It is really baffling that the author, a US Marines colonel, manages to discuss the campaign against Daesh as a model of Clausewitzian strategy against “centers of gravity” by the US-led coalition — without ever mentioning the Northern prong of the attack by Turkey that severed Daesh from the border, nor the long and successful attrition campaign by the Syrian army and its allies (Iran, Russia, Hezbollah) that ground down Daesh forces, nor the dominant role of the Kurdish movements in the overall offensive both in Syria and Iraq and the ultimate conquest of Mossul and Raqqah.

    The article looks a bit like force-fitting the actual historical events into a tidy standard representation that makes US staff officers look good, rather than taking it for the utterly messily multi-faceted affair it was.

    1. Wombat

      Yes, not to mention the inherent subjectivity that comes with “center of gravity” analysis. Comparing unit strengths and equipment (force exchange ratios), terrain analysis, logistic analysis are all more objective analysis that can support a military strategy. On the other hand, objective concepts somewhat disappear once you make field grade officer, as the squishy “center of gravity” concept is introduced- paving the way for military “geniuses” relying on their all important “gut” or even logical intuition framed as “center of gravity”. I labored through this paper as well, only to find that Raqqa and Mosul were the center(s) of gravity (apparently Clausewitz said you can have two centers?) The layman could have arrived at this conclusion given 5 minutes with a map and atlas- you mean to tell me key border cities with massive populations are important?? /sarc

      Notwithstanding, this Colonel and others will be hailed as geniuses for arriving at this logical conclusion that underneath the “because center of gravity” military jargon could have been expressed in a paragraph.

      1. Objective Function

        Yeah, I like Mike Mooney as a writer generally but applying schwerpunkt to a guerrilla movement is more of a ‘what not to do’ for them than a ‘what to do’ manual for the Western generalstabs.

        At the end of the day it seems like the state only ‘wins’ such wars by exhausting the wider population (Mao’s “sea”) to the point where they roll over and say ‘uncle’ and regard the insurgents as nothing but troublemakers. That was the formula used in Korea, Malaya, Thailand, Latin America etc. No Clausewitzean instant gratification at all, just ugly thugs in uniforms year after year after year, rifling your produce, checking your papers and ‘disappearing’ your schoolteachers and clerics.

  19. allan

    More on gerrymandering:

    A Case for Math, Not ‘Gobbledygook,’ in Judging Partisan Voting Maps

    Adam Liptak nails Mr. Chief Justice Balls-and-Strikes for using a double standard:

    … At the argument of the Wisconsin case in October, Chief Justice Roberts mocked the efficiency gap, referring to it by its initials, and suggested that it was fiendishly complicated. …

    Part of Chief Justice Roberts’s point was that a mathematical formula is not a legal standard, and that is true. In the early stages of the litigation, the challengers suggested that a gap of more than 7 percent was legally significant, which does seem arbitrary.

    But the three-judge Federal District Court panel in Wisconsin that struck down a state legislative map there did not base its decision on the efficiency gap, relying instead on a more conventional legal test that considered discriminatory intent, the map’s partisan effects and whether they were justified by other reasons. The efficiency gap, the court said, was evidence that corroborated the majority’s conclusions.

    The same was true in the Shelby County opinion [from 2013, which gutted the Voting Rights Act]. Chief Justice Roberts did not contend that a particular racial gap proved a constitutional violation, but only that his numbers were good evidence of powerful changes. (This was probably just as well, as a recent ProPublica article suggested that there were flaws in the chief justice’s methodology.) …

    Flawed methodology and bad faith argument. Seven years of Harvard down the drain.

  20. fresno dan

    Forty-two percent of exonerations in 2016 included official
    misconduct (70/166). Official misconduct encompasses a range of behavior—from police
    threatening witnesses to forensic analysts falsifying test results to child welfare workers
    pressuring children to claim sexual abuse where none occurred. But the most common
    misconduct documented in the cases in the Registry involves police or prosecutors (or both)
    concealing exculpatory evidence.
    came across the above link in a Business Insider article and I found it interesting. My bias is that the zeal in trying to find misconduct in the legal system is greatly deficient, but as they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step….

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      So I checked DK. Not on recommended list. And in the diaries about it I find out that Manning and Snowden were part of Putin’s secret Republican cabal.

      Wow. Conservative epistemic closure was much easier to navigate.

    2. audrey jr

      Thanks so much for that link, pretzelattack. That my former party are filled with degenerate hacks was not news to me but this attack on Chelsea Manning, after all she’s already been put through, is truly unconscionable.

  21. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: What it was Like Thinking a Ballistic Missile was Speeding Toward Us in Hawaii Washington’s Blog

    Lots of good stuff here. In addition to reflection on those for whom this terror is a constant of daily existence courtesy of our “foreign policy,” there’s this, noteworthy in view of the current relentless “fake news” panic, criminalization of “talking to Russians” and corporate ownership of “news” outlets by made-in-amerika megalomaniacs like bezos:

    In Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Robert Browning notes that one of the reasons Nazis who refused to support their murderous government gave for their dissent (for which none were seriously punished) was that they had had experienced international exposure. They had broken their German insularity.

    Those who had been exposed predominantly to information from German sources largely followed directives from the German regime and supported or carried out aggression and killing. The two most crucial values that had been cultivated in their minds were that Germany was superior, and that its actions, though they might at times be firm, were carried out for good reasons.

    Breaking group insularity allowed some to discover that these assertions were absurd, wrong and, regardless, irrelevant.

    It’s no wonder that this piece was published on Washington’s Blog and not the editorial pages of wapo or nyt.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      LOL so a few rich white people in Hawai’i got to experience what tens of millions of poor brown people have experienced for decades, courtesy of America: the abject terror that a missile will suddenly drop from the sky and incinerate them for no reason.

      (Not polite to mention that our prior Saint Obama increased drone strikes by 10X over that horrible fascist beast George Bush. But I’m sure he meant well).

      If the shoe, etc., what’s good for the goose, etc.

      1. ChrisPacific

        If any of our capitalist overlords were indeed menaced by the false alert, it’s probably because they were unlucky with their vacation timing. While rich white people do exist in Hawaii, it’s the least white state in the nation by some margin, one of the least unequal, and trends far to the left politically by US standards.

        I take your point, but in the vast majority of cases, the people of Hawaii are not your enemy. You might even find that they have more empathy for brown people under the thumb of an imperial power than you expect. Read up on Hawaiian history if you don’t believe me.

  22. Steve H.

    I’ve been noticing lately, several persuasive articles that, when you go through point by point, seem to make sense, yet are huge misses. (‘collective intelligence’ and ‘climate movement’, as particulars.) The common thread is not in what they say, but what they don’t say.

    The Clausewitz Caliphate article shows these tendencies. The word ‘Russia’ does not appear in the article. Neither does ‘Sunni’ or ‘Shia’. It can be argued that they are not necessary to a discussion of Mosul. Perhaps ‘Baathist’ for the underlying links to the Revolutionary Guard? No.

    Note that IS made off with nearly a half-billion bills from just one bank, combine with John Robb’s concept of open-source warfare, and it looks more like a successful looting and leaving. While having a hard location would be inspirational for those who might come to the fight, those who made operational decisions didn’t need it.

    Presented as a military victory, it is really a propaganda victory. (Well, except for those who were occupied who didn’t want to be. Not forgetting that.) The error lies in thinking that the dominant component of the center of gravity is the physical location. That’s the equivalent of the drunk under the streetlight looking for his keys, in that the US military is taking credit for the win they are designed for, which is not the same criteria of evaluation that IS uses.

  23. Wukchumni

    Dolphin Mirror Self-Recognition: the Science and the Ethics Whale Sanctuary Project

    So, say said dolphins were to somehow acquire smartphones, how would they be able to take selfies sans an opposable thumb & forefinger?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First, dolphins have go through that driving-a-stick-shift-car (step-on-the-clutch-when-you-shift) stage.

      “Don’t worry about your hands. Evolve legs (back) first.”

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can Artificial Intelligence induce empathy? MIT Media Lab. They plan to create a training set with captchas.

    That’s not Artificial Intelligence from an Artificial Brain.

    Here, we’re talking about Artificial Emotion from an Artificial Heart (not mechanical artificial hearts that can save lives, but smarter…well, actual more software than hardware kind of Artificial Heart).

  25. bob


    It used to be much more common for there to be many more designs for them. Even within a city, there were several utilities that would have their own cover, the designs would change over time.

    It was also in the days where foundries for making them were much more localized. Changing a sand cast is pretty easy, and most munis required that the cover supplied had to have a muni picked/supplied logo cast on the top.

    There’s also a photo in that story of a man holding a manhole cover. That’s not correct. It’s not nearly heavy enough. Most covers have a “bump” in the middle of the underside to allow them to be “slid” off and then “slid” back on. The bump makes sure that the cover doesn’t get “stuck” laying on a road or sidewalk, and it aids in removing the cover, with a “pick”, or in a pinch, two shovels.

    You’re never supposed to “lift” them. Sliding them, with the “bump” on the bottom, also makes it very obvious that it’s not where it’s supposed to be. Looking down a road, it’s a giant “bump” in the road. Very easy to see, Had not to notice. A flat cover on a flat road? Very easy to miss. It’s also hard to pick up again, think a sheet of paper on a very flat surface. Now there are 2 obstacles. A giant hole, and a big heavy cover. Easier still for people walking to disappear down a hole.

    The cover is also part of a 2 piece set. There is the cover, and the frame. The frame is what the cover sits in. The frame is a lot bigger and heavier. It’s a sort of flange for the top of the manhole.

    Frames and covers move and warp together, over time. If you’ve ever heard a cover that is loose, it’s because either the frame, or the cover were replaced. That clank as a car drives over it. Dead giveaway.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Some years ago, a few geniuses in the LA area decided that they’d line their pockets with all that recycling money available through manhole covers. They pried up and carted off several, only to find out that there wasn’t much of a market for those, what with low scrap prices for that metal. Don’t recall if the recycling places noticed anything funny about an influx of manhole covers.

      1. bob

        I saw one very industrious group of young people trying to steal the yet to be installed frames and covers, and using bikes to move them, once they had managed the super human strength to move them.

        The bikes couldn’t handle the weight, and the kids ended up narrowly avoiding injury. The cops were getting a big laugh out of watching them.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The NC commentariat is the best commentariat. We actually have a manhole cover geek.

      “Mr. Orr is expert with tangibles.” –Ursula LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven

  26. Knifecatcher

    I know there are mixed opinions on Tulsi Gabbard here on the board but I have to say I enjoyed this interview:

    She deftly pivots from the false alert theme to calling out the actual reason a ballistic missile threat exists. Pointing out the link between the NK nuclear threat and our wars of regime change seemed to stun poor George, and stating flatly that removing Saddam and Qaddafi was a mistake left him gasping. Fun stuff.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It was fun. And while it was pretty hard to take george’s “cluelessness” seriously, there was no denying his rush to exit the interview.

      There must be quite a few convenient rocks to hide under there at the “Newseum” where he tapes his show.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “A new market for old and ugly fruit and vegetables takes shape”
    One of the advantages of U-pick is that people will take, and pay for, much uglier produce if they picked it themselves. (Interesting psychology.) Of course, it’s much more so if they grew it themselves. I just dug the bad spots out of a couple of home-grown pears (D’Anjou – winter pears) and we ate them in our oatmeal. I wouldn’t buy pears in that condition, but they were good, what was left of them.

    1. Wukchumni

      Ha, I feel the same way about the fruits of my labor, I don’t care what they look like, i’ll just eat around the offending bits.

    2. Lord Koos

      We’re eating sprouted potatoes that my wife grew — even when a little old they are better tasting than the supermarket stuff.

  28. D

    Well, it’s Civil Rights Day today in the honoring of Martin Luther King, who would be utterly outraged if he were alive today, at the Government™ of the United States™.

    No civil rights for most apartment dwellers in Silicon Valley though (we do have a Frat Boy Meritocracy™ here though!):

    01/11/18 By Kevin Kelly Redwood City: Tenants protest large rent hikes at two apartment buildings – 20 low-income families face up to 45 percent monthly increases next month, with many saying that will force them out of their homes

    Tenants at two Redwood City apartment buildings say rent increases of up to 45 percent next month will force many of them to move out.

    Twenty families living in apartments at 1207 Hopkins Ave. and 1404 Regent St. were informed on Dec. 1 [Happy Holidays!™ – D], two days after the apartments were sold to a new owner, that their monthly rents would jump by $500 to $850 starting Feb. 1. [Happy Valentines Day!™ – D] In response, roughly half of the tenants formed a tenants’ association and held a protest Tuesday night to demand more modest rent increases.

    The other 10 or so families are not fighting the rent hikes. [The author, or censoring Mercury News Editor?, might have wanted to ask why – or share the response if the question was asked – which would likely be responded to as: We’d love to protest, but we’ll have to put all of our energy into finding a new roof over our head and it’s already been shown that the 100% Democrat Federal and State, Silicon Valley Congress Critters could give a rat’s behind about anything but Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla and Palantir, etcetera – D]

    Juan Mendoza, who has lived at 1404 Regent for more than eight years with his partner and two children, said his rent will rise from $1,858 to $2,650 next month, almost 43 percent.

    “It came as a total shock,” Mendoza said. “We’ve … paid our rent on time and been good tenants. It’s unjust that someone can swoop in and price us out of our home on only 60 days’ notice. We are willing to pay an increase, we understand that this is their business. But it should be a reasonable rent increase, not an increase of over 40 percent. I got a raise at work this year, but it’s only 3.5 percent. Where am I supposed to get the rest of the money to pay this rent increase?”

    Sandy Hernandez, who lives at 1207 Hopkins Ave. with her ex-husband and two school-aged children, is facing the largest hike — $852, or 45 percent more a month.

    “It’s so stressful,” Hernandez said. “I was already stretched raising my two children, working two jobs, cooking for my family, keeping the house clean. … We can’t afford this kind of rent increase. I worry that we’ll have to move out of the community that we know and love. I worry about the impacts on our children. What if we have to move far away to find an affordable home?

    “The kids would have to change schools in the middle of the year and that would impact their education and their futures. Has the landlord even thought about what this means for the children?”


    Yes, the corrupted Democrats:

    01/11/18 By Katy Murphy Rent control in California: Proposal to lift restrictions blocked in committee

    So ashamed about having voted for so many Federal and State, California Democrats over the years who are every bit as inhuman as their Republican and Libertarian counterparts.

    Only half jokingly (no, make that 1% jokingly) what the country needs as the percentage of home owners (who live in those homes) is increasingly and exponentially reduced, is a Non Real Estate Owners Party. It amazes me to this day that those who – for at least a century – constantly chided those who would mortgage a home when barely able to afford it, are always deadly silent when Apartment dwellers are treated in such an unspeakably inhuman manner. I’m thankful that I have a wonderful landlord, but when he is forced to sell in his older age, I will likely end up homeless with cancer, when, in a sane world, I have well more than enough monthly income to afford a small one bedroom apartment.

  29. XXYY

    Self-driving cars raise fears over ‘weaponisation’ FT. Baidu COO Qi Lu: “You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.

    This is yet another obvious issue with self-driving vehicles I have rarely seen discussed. Currently, there is always (a) human agency assumed to be directing any moving vehicle, and (b) one or more actual humans in the vehicle that are somehow bound up in its fate, both physically and legally. Self-driving vehicles potentially violate one or both of these assumptions.

    Particularly intriguing (if you want to call it that) is the idea of unoccupied autonomous vehicles. Empty cars or trucks just driving around. You can imagine the use cases easily, sending your car to school to pick up the kids, or of course cargo vehicles taking things from Point A to point B.

    Now put some bad actors into the mix. At the benign end of the spectrum, just sending a swarm of vehicles into some area to render a road or intersection impassable. At the other end, sending cars or trucks to deliberately crash into something or deliver any type of nefarious payload. Of course, unoccupied vehicles can also be easily vandalized or stolen even if the car’s own purpose is legitimate.

    I’m guessing these kinds of scenarios would become problematic rather quickly, leading societies to outlaw unmanned vehicles.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I know I’ve raised this scenario before, and maybe somebody shot it down. That said–

      Imagine hackers bricking a large number of robot cars simultaneously at gridlock-prone Manhattan intersections.

      How long would it take the city to get going again?

  30. Oregoncharles

    “Meet the 24-year-old Trump campaign worker appointed to help lead the government’s drug policy office”
    That’s bad? It might help with marijuana reclassification.

  31. Patrick Donnelly

    The Ozone holes exist at the poles as it is there that the protons from the Sun enter into the atmosphere of the Earth. It is why there is ice there, H2O, containing NH3!

  32. Chetan Murthy

    “Pelosi’s dynastic heir…” ?? I don’t understand what is being implied …. help? Am I being stupid? She’s not Pelosi’s child or descendant, is she? How is she related to Pelosi? What am I missing?

  33. ewmayer

    Re. UK’s Carillion: Idiots – they should’ve just added ‘blockchain’ to the company name and business-model description and done an ICO. Way to miss out on that historic free-dumb-money opportunity (which window now appears to be closing fast) and stick the government with the costs of your pension-underfunding scammery, guys!

  34. Plenue

    >America is spiritually bankrupt. We must fight back together Cornel West, Guardian

    “The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt”

    Who’s “we”, Brother West? I’m as decent as I’ve ever been, and noticed no particular decline in the decency of other people. That our leaders are comically corrupt isn’t really anything new; they’ve just grown bolder as institutions declined (in turn accelerating the decline). Regardless, if we want to fix society, concentrate on improving the material side of things, and you’ll find people being better and happier.

    Isn’t what West is saying essentially the conservative position? Blaming the woes of society on moral failing, rather than a decline in social conditions fueling personal failings.

  35. integer

    Re: Marcy Wheeler

    I think the intelligence agencies pulled what should hereafter be known as a “Moby” on poor old Marcy Wheeler. A “Moby” is defined as being used by an intelligence agency as a “useful idiot” to spread their disinformation, by virtue of having a significant social media following or popular website. I base this theory on Wheeler having claimed, very early in the whole Russiagate fiasco, that she had inside information regarding Trump being a Russian agent, and since then having latched onto every permutation of Russiagate with unbridled enthusiasm.

    FWIW I spent 15 minutes at EmptyWheel trying to find a link to her claim of inside information, but couldn’t find it.

  36. djrichard

    John Dean: Nixon ‘Might Have Survived If There’d Been a Fox News’ Politico

    The scandal of Watergate was that there was no scandal. From Baudrillard:

    …capital, immoral and without scruples, can only function behind a moral superstructure, and whoever revives this public morality (through indignation, denunciation, etc.) works spontaneously for the order of capital. This is what the journalists of the Washington Post did.

  37. integer

    Saker’s Jan. 12th interview with Bonnie Faulkner – transcript The Saker

    This is Guns and Butter.

    Andrei Raevsky, The Saker: I think it’s a person who is an Israel Firster, very, very strong Zionist ideological bent, definitely puts Israel above the United States for sure. Secondly, I would say people who truly believe in violence and force as a way to solve every conflict, people who have no use for diplomacy – internally or externally, for that matter. A messianic ideology, they are right, they are the best and they get to choose to make the calls. They don’t need to consult or treat anybody with anything but contempt or bribery. So it’s a very shallow kind of ideology, much less sophisticated than anything previously in the United States. The folks in charge were much more refined, much more complex, multi-layered. Neocons are very primitive in what they do and how they operate. They’re also very predictable.

    Bonnie Faulkner: I’m Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Andrei Raevsky, who blogs as “The Saker.” Today’s show: “Looking into 2018.” The Saker is an expert in military analysis, intelligence issues, Russian geopolitics and traditional Christian orthodoxy. He was born in a military family of white Russian refugees in western Europe where he lived most of his life. After completing two college degrees in the United States, he returned to Europe where he worked as a military analyst until he lost his career due to his vocal opposition to the Western-sponsored wars in Chechnya, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. He returned to the United States and has been blogging since 2007 as “The Saker,” and his analytical essays are now widely distributed on the Internet. He is the author of The Essential Saker: From the Trenches of the Emerging Multipolar World and his newest, The Essential Saker II. Today we discuss the geopolitical outlook for 2018 and examine the possibilities for war or no war.

    Bonnie Faulkner: Andrei Raevsky, welcome back to Guns and Butter.

    The Saker: Thanks much for having me, Bonnie. It’s always a pleasure.

    I must admit I was unaware of Raevsky’s past. A very interesting interview.

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