Links 1/21/18

Internet Can’t Stop Laughing At These Cops Who Ticketed A Car Made Of Snow With This Note Bored Panda

In praise of penguins: We’ve got babies! Treehugger. In honor of National Penguin Awareness Day– yesterday– here are some adorable video clips.

What’s with all the cawing? UW team eavesdrops on crows Seattle Times (tegnosst)

Revealed: lucky break that led lovelorn traveller to a fling in India with the Beatles Guardian

A new blood test can detect eight different cancers in their early stages The Conversation

Humans Will Have A ‘Robot Second Self’ In The Next 20 Years, Say Experts At Microsoft Inquisitr (David L). Where’s my flying car?

The dark side of light: how artificial lighting is harming the natural world Nature

Scientists Have Figured Out How to Recycle Waste CO2 Back Into… Plastic Science Alert (David L). What a wonderful idea! We’ll exchange one bad fate for another and drown in plastic rather than overheat the planet. Better living through chemistry!

Use of sand vests to calm children with ADHD sparks concern Guardian (The Rev Kev)

The Y chromosome is slowly disappearing — here’s what it means for men Business Insider (Doctor Kevin)

Class Warfare

First There Was Prince. Now Tom Petty. When Will America Finally Wake Up to the Opioid Crisis? Politico

Tom Petty’s Family Publicly Releases Cause of Death to Help Forward Opioid Crisis Discussion AlterNet

How Tenants Use Digital Mapping to Track Bad Landlords and Gentrification TruthOut


The next Kurdish war is on the horizon – Turkey and Syria will never allow it to create a mini-state Independent. Robert Fisk.

Erdogan: Operation in Syria’s Afrin has begun Al Jazeera

Police State Watch

In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops ProPublica


The improbable demanded by the unreasonable

Compare Macron boosts May’s hopes of bespoke EU trade deal FT to Emmanuel Macron confronts the UK with a hard truth: it is burning its bridges to Europe New Statesman. Looks to me like magical thinking in the FT’s telling.

How Brexit puts the UK at risk of more collapses like Carillion The Conversation

Britain risks losing green protections after Brexit Guardian


Theresa May: I will fine greedy bosses who betray their workers Guardian

Help Me

The Second Lives of Pussy Hats NYT

North Korea

It’s time we saw economic sanctions for what they really are – war crimes Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

The bloody rise and shocking fall of a US spymaster in Cold War Korea Asia Times


China Urges U.S. to Abandon `Cold War’ Mindset in Bilateral Ties Bloomberg

The Chinese think Palo Alto is dumpy TechCunch (David L).

Jim Mattis warns US losing military edge FT


Top banks suspend accounts of major Bitcoin exchanges in India Economic Times

Time for India to Consider a Special Track for Space Startup Incubation The Wire

Special Report: How the government ignored the cost of pollution and undermined its clean air rules

How Wall Street Keeps #MeToo Claims Out of the Spotlight WSJ

Comic contracts and other ways to make the law understandable The Conversation. This Australian project isn’t coming to the US anytime soon, but is worth pondering nonetheless. Imagine common legal contracts designed so as to elucidate, not obfuscate. Especially those for plain vanilla consumer financial products.

Trump Transition

In Pennsylvania, women who voted for Trump voice support after first year

America Has a Foreign Tourist Problem Bloomberg

Trump plans gala at Mar-a-Lago tonight, again renting a ballroom from himself WaPo

Imagining an Authoritarian American Conservative

Republicans Have Four Easy Ways to #ReleaseTheMemo — and the Evidence for It. Not Doing So Will Prove Them to Be Shameless Frauds. The Intercept. Glenn Greenwald.

Trump’s FCC Could Undermine His Promise on Rural Broadband International Business Times

Facebook to fight ‘fake news’ by asking users to rank trust in media outlets Sky News (The Rev Kev) What could possibly go wrong?


Bitter Bickering Muddies the Path to Ending the Government Shutdown NYT

For Investors Used to Political Drama, Shutdown Is One More Sideshow Bloomberg

Trump wants a kinder, gentler, shutdown Politico

Flu response will be maintained during shutdown, officials say, contrary to previous plan Stat

bob: There’s a bridge in the background, watch it big

Antidote du jour.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. upstater

    re. “Facebook to fight ‘fake news’ by asking users to rank trust in media outlets Sky News (The Rev Kev) What could possibly go wrong?”

    Rev Kev, actually nothing can go wrong here. It is physics, pure and simple. I forget if Newton or Einstein discovered it. Most, if not all, people make direct observations every day at the workplace or elsewhere:

    $hit Floats

    1. The Rev Kev

      What if users did rank trust in media outlets – and put publications like the Washington Post, Fox News and the New York Times right at the very bottom of the pile? Can you imagine?

      1. Enquiring Mind

        A marketing whiz at the Times is working on the birdcage initiative. The Times doesn’t mind if you talk about their paper being birdcage liner, or bottom of pile stratum, as long as you keep buying and discussing it, and spell their name right.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps that proves it’s a Matrix of some sort.

        Those in it, humans or projections, can’t see outside of it.

  2. lakecabs

    We spend more on the military than the next 10 countries combined. If our military isn’t far and away better than everyone else we should fire the people in charge.

    1. scoff

      Or we could treat the military like we treat our educational system.

      Assert that throwing money at the problem won’t solve it and steadily reduce appropriations to support it.

      Problem fixed.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      Timing of military funding and readiness always puts my DEW (defense egregiousness warning) Line defenses on alert. A casual comment here, a friendly outlet mention there about ol’ Mattis and his woes, and pretty soon someone is going to be asking for real money. With all the four page memo discussions and FOIAgate heading toward some crescendo, I await the next false flag or foreign misdirection adventure to capture the news cycle for just long enough. I try to be cynical but I can’t keep up.

      1. John Wright

        The US military operates somewhat like the old story of someone who looks in a toilet and sees a quarter (US 25cent piece) sitting on the bottom.

        It isn’t worthwhile for him to put his hand in the toilet and grab the quarter.

        So he throws another quarter into the toilet.

        Imagine what could occur if the USA MIC money were channeled into basic research (perhaps materials research in improved storage batteries), infrastructure, education, agricultural research, energy research, manufacturing or medical research.

        The world could view the USA as following a wise course to be emulated.

        Instead, the USA is sowing quarters all over the world and the MIC is retrieving them with encouragement from the MSM and politicians.

    3. redleg

      Much of that spending is graft. Colossal amounts of money for high end weapons systems, that the military doesn’t necessarily want, that are far more effective at routing payments to contractors than defeating enemies.
      Defeating an enemy requires lots of foot soldiers, efficient logistics, and cutting off that enemy’s ability to wage war.
      Foot soldiers? Partially contacted, not enough of them anyway.
      Logistics? Nearly entirely contacted.
      Cut off enemy? We supply ISIS with training and materiel, allow trade with the Turks.

      Meanwhile the Russians have had decades to observe how the US fights, especially the technology of fighting, and come up with strategies, tactics, and technology specifically to fight the US. Given recent US Russophobic rhetoric, the Russians are justified in doing this, and the US will be in for a rude surprise if any armed conflict w/ Russia happens.
      Here’s one veteran who hopes it never comes to that.

      1. Chris

        “We…allow trade with the Turks”

        But of course you do. They’re your NATO allies.

        Do try to keep up, redleg.

        1. redleg

          No, ISIS trade with the Turks. Which the Russians bombed, quite effectively at that.
          ISIS isn’t NATO, although since the US is supplying them they might as well be. Until it’s inconvenient, then the US supplied materiel gets bombed by the US. Ka-Ching.

    1. integer

      Unsurprisingly there is not a single word about the memo on the twitter feeds of Pelosi, Schumer, or Schiff. I hope they’re all having a great day.

    2. integer

      Last night on SBS (an Australian television channel funded by the govt.) there was a documentary called Putin’s Revenge. It was clearly made as a counterpoint to Oliver Stone’s documentary on Putin. I watched about 30 seconds of it; a narrative over footage of the Berlin Wall being torn down, asserting that this was a key moment in Putin’s life as he became intent on recreating the USSR in all its glory, and then John Brennan popped onto the screen and I turned it off. I expect there was some pressure on the Australian govt. to air this documentary, but in light of what is almost certainly contained in the memo, I found the timing somewhat hilarious.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Greenwald does a great job of laying out how and why Rs must declassify and release information relevant to this “memo” they’re tantalizing us with. If true, that puts the Clinton-Lynch meeting on the Vegas tarmac in a whole new light. Was Bill willing to take the risk of that meeting not to protect Hillary–because that was already a done deal–but in order to get Lynch to step up wiretapping and surveillance of Trump?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A Democrat or an Independent can also use option #3, or #4, or be a fraud (not necessary for making some recent public statements, but for not doing his/her patriotic duty).

      So, Glenn is not being comprehensive here.

    1. Mel

      It had heard about the thing with the chickens, and wanted to find out first-hand what life was like for them.

      1. UserFriendly

        I don’t. In fact this is my biggest pet peeve about so called environmentalists. Yes there are negative aspects of plastics but anyone that thinks the solution is to outright ban them isn’t in touch with reality. Next time you go to the hospital just try and avoid plastics. I am 100% for attempting to mitigate the negative externalities of plastics and there is every reason to believe there are LOTS of things we can do on that front. However, climate change is by far the larger existential threat. We have already locked in about 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100, and that is with the optimistic view that we stay under 2C. That puts Bangladesh, NYC, Miami, NOLA, and thousands of other places underwater and uninhabitable. Anyone who thinks we will have any kind of a functioning economy at that point is dilutional. And that is just sea level rise, forget every other kind of weather nightmare. One hurricane took out one relatively small island (PR) and there is a crisis in saline bags. Imagine that happening to literally thousands of cities all at the same time.

        It’s the same thing with people who want to end wind power because it kills some birds. Guess what, all the birds are gonna be dead if we don’t stop emitting CO2.

        Same with nuclear power. Sure water reactors are crappy, inefficient, and produce waste. But as usual we need to throw the baby out with the bath water and make it practically impossible for newer, better, safer reactors to get built. Even with the crappy reactors we have now nuclear power has killed a fraction of as many people as any other power source except hydro. And anyone who wants to try and tell me that fukushima and chernobyl are really killing anyone outside of their immediate location needs to watch this video and then explain why we aren’t all dead. People against the development of better nuclear power is literally the best thing that could have possibly happened to big oil.

        The reason Carbon Capture and Sequestration doesn’t work is because storing a huge amount of gas for any amount of time is damn near impossible. If they used this tech and did nothing but capture CO2 from every power plant in operation and made a big ball of plastic and launched it at NYC killing everyone there it would be a net plus for human life. So if they want to actually use that plastic for productive things, all the better.

        1. integer

          Thermosets are more of a problem than thermoplastics, due to being non-recyclable. Both are referred to as “plastic” by the general population. The use of “plastic” should be heavily regulated so as little ends up in the waste stream as possible.

          1. Wombat

            Concur on heavy regulation to slow cosumption but I am not too keen on recycling plastic (not all recycling) from a logical perspective.

            I stopped recycling most plastic, especcially if it involves wasting water to clean. Most goes in the trash. I’d much rather have the plastic in a landfill than extending the global life of fossil fuels by supplanting raw petroleum.

            If the “waste stream” is in a local landfill, that also beats risking a petroleum aided voyage across the country and an ocean to be “recycled” in another country risking some of it ending in the ocean waste stream.

            1. Wukchumni

              Worry not about them ending up overseas, as of 3 weeks ago-China no longer wants our plastic, so aside from receptacles with redemption value, everybody will throw them in the trash from now on…

            2. integer

              When I say “regulated”, I mean that only a certain amount should be in use, and all of it should always be accounted for. No colorants or other additives should be allowed to be added, for ease of recycling, and companies that use it should have to prove that they will take it all back, and recycle it locally. Consumers should be heavily financially incentivized to return it after use. Of course, this is a vastly simplified explanation of the logistics that would be involved, but it is possible to manage the issue a lot better than is currently being done.

              Also, there are ways to clean plastics that don’t require much water. Best if this is done on a large scale, not at household scale.

              1. Wombat

                Yes I think all that would be great. I like the idea of a fixed amount of plastic in circulation too (ideally we reuse glass containers a la the dairies of yore). But in a world where we are hellbent on extracting every fossil fuel source (even the inefficient ones such as alberta tar sands), does recycling plastic just (trivially) extend the life of doomed reserves and allow for further emissions? Plastics in a landfill aren’t increasing CO2 emissions, while recycled plastics are arguably freeing up fossils to be emmitted.

              2. UserFriendly

                I would be more fine with recycling plastic if it were less energy and resource intensive than producing it from oil. Many plastics are very unlikely to leech anything harmful in a landfill and as Wukchumni points out, it is a very effective way of sequestering carbon.

                1. integer

                  Well, that is simply the true price of the sustainable use of thermoplastics, and should be factored into any decisions regarding its use. I have no way of knowing for sure, but it seems like cold fusion may not be as far off as previously thought, which would take care of many issues.

                  As far as sequestering carbon, it’s easier just to leave it in the ground to begin with, rather than extracting it in the form of hydrocarbons, turning it into plastic, and then leaving it in the ground.

                2. integer

                  Re: Cold Fusion

                  I mention this because my understanding is that this is the principle on which the E-Cat works (remember the Japanese paper we discussed a week or two ago?) As I mentioned though, I cannot confirm either the E-Cat or the Japanese research is legitimate.

            3. ArcadiaMommy

              Good point on water. Living in CA and AZ, I’ve wondered if the trade off is worth it with respect to using our most precious resource to prepare for the recycling process. I go back and forth on bothering to recycle plastic and anything else that needs to be scrubbed out before going in the recycling can.

        2. JBird

          All this while true does not negate the consequences of increasing amount of plastic particles especially in water for organisms. It’s rather like smog in a way, but as the air LA doesn’t hurt my eyes and lungs much (even the Bay Area had smog alerts) and there are even more cars everywhere, I think we can still use plastic less dangerously. It just requires some effort.

  4. crittermom

    RE: “A new blood test can detect eight different cancers in their early stages”

    It sounds like a huge step forward in early cancer detection.

    It’s a shame it’ll take 3-5 years before results are in from the trials & no doubt a while after that before the test becomes available to all, but I can understand that.

    I chose to participate in a clinical trial (not related to any drugs) regarding my breast cancer.
    I’m hoping it’ll help women in the future in regards to their surgery & how invasive it needs–or doesn’t need–to be.

    A mere blood test for early detection?
    It sounds very, very promising & should cut healthcare costs with early treatment, not to mention the suffering spared & many lives that could be saved.

    1. katiebird

      I want to find out how to volunteer for the test phase…. It really sounds interesting. And not painful …. unless they find something….

      1. katiebird

        I am searing on The Clinical Trials Database but don’t find it mentioned…. I tried “Liquid Biopsy” with the various cancer types….

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If that works, what would be the likely recommended testing frequency – once a year, once a month, to catch eight cancers early?

      1. Robert McGregor

        Don’t forget there are big arguments for “not having” more diagnosis tests.
        1) False positives are rampant. More women are treated for breast cancer than ever before, but the same number die, because many of the women who were treated—should not have been treated.
        2) Some cancers—like prostate cancer—do not require treatment. Most old men have early prostrate cancer; most die before it becomes virulent.
        3) A medical test often finds something inconclusive, but which is pursued, and you can disappear down an expensive, painful, and ineffective rabbit hole.
        4) Be sure the American Medical Industrial complex is going to be ALL IN on increased early testing—more profits—regardless whether “cost/benefits” are actually in the patients’ favor.

        1. Tooearly

          Yes , it is important to remember that there is cancer and there is Cancer. Unless these tests can detect which one you have, an aggressive deadly one or a slow growing one, this will only make worse our current conundrum. It will take a long time to show that this sort of test actually saves lives. Detecting cancer is not the same as saving lives.

        2. neo-realist

          Prostate Cancer doesn’t require treatment???? If you catch it early, the chances of survival are very good for the most part, even with older people, since it is one of the slower growing cancers. Not treating it will result in metastasis that will lead, in all likelihood, to your death, e.g., Frank Zappa

      2. Oregoncharles

        I think it was Lee, down below, said they’re shooting for $500 a test. So that dictates the frequency.

          1. Isotope_C14

            Hey Lambert, I actually worked in a lab that does this stuff. They detect cell-free circulating DNA, particularly the special molecular signal of methylation. All of this should be reasonably cheap. False positives should be unusual and might signal a different problem anyway.

    3. Mark

      I think caution is warranted. Many people thought the same for PSA screening. Both the US Preventive Services Task Force and the Cochrane Collaboration now recommend against it:

      Drs. Welch, Schwartz and Woloshin give an easy to understand version of the story in their book “Overdiagnosed”:

      1. Carla

        Yes, this worries me very much. I just try to stay away from doctors as much as possible. Of course, that’s easy when you’re a basically a healthy person and do not suffer from chronic pain, so I know I’m very fortunate. But the Medical Industrial Complex scares the s**t out of me.

    4. human

      The most immediate way to begin to reduce the incidence of cancers is to guarantee availabilty of clean air, water, land and food, and to begin to honestly regulate the 30,000 some odd chemicals manufactured in this country.

  5. Chris

    I’m curious if anyone else has heard the recent sound bite that “DACA age illegal immigrants commit 142% more crimes than their peers”? A relative told me that, and it seemed so oddly specific that I tried to figure out where they had heard it.

    Apparently, it comes from this paper:

    Written by John Lott, of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Mr. Lott seems to be an academic who is favored by the far right, and it looks like people think he’s the source of the “more guns equals less crime” theory that became so popular in the last decade. There’s also some articles on him about his fabricating evidence (I.e., citing results from a study that didn’t exist at the time he claims it did.)

    I tired to get into his methodology. He makes some assumptions about how certain statistics apply to the population as a whole. He doesn’t give particularly good counter arguments to why his approach could be incorrect. But it’s nothing more egregious than I’ve seen from other researchers. Let alone economists!

    I’d be interested to know if anyone else familiar with this work can point out the logical flaws in the analysis.

    1. Lee

      Lott’s numbers are for Arizona, counting the undocumented sentenced to prison between 1985 and June 2017. At the end, he makes a hypothetical nationwide extrapolation starting with a pretty big “if”.

      If undocumented immigrants committed crime nationally as they do in Arizona, in 2016 they would have been responsible for over 1,000 more murders, 5,200 rapes, 8,900 robberies, 25,300 aggravated assaults, and 26,900 burglaries.

      Valid numbers nationally and at other jurisdictional levels would be interesting. Most illegal immigrants are low wage workers. One could reasonably hypothesize that poverty rates along with attendant deprivation and alienation among them might push them toward criminality. OTOH, I’ve often read that the overwhelming majority of proposed DACA beneficiaries are model citizens.

      Know of reliable data on this? If so, please provide links.

      1. marym

        To be eligible for DACA:

        You must be currently in school, have graduated, or obtained an equivalent certificate of completion from high school, successfully obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or must have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States; and

        You must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

        1. Lee

          January 21, 2018 at 10:58 am

          DACA recipients are a subgroup of undocumented persons born to illegal immigrants in the U.S. So, the question would be, what percentage of the total group do they represent. I have no idea what the answer might be. I would certainly agree, as do most people, that those who meet the DACA criteria are a welcome addition to our national polity. And, looking forward, we should be more like Canada as regards immigration policy. A position with which Trump recently stated he agrees, with the proviso that his position on any topic is of course subject to change from moment to moment without prior notification or adequate explanation.

          1. marym

            Children born in the US to illegal immigrants are – to the chagrin of white supremacists – citizens. DACA-eligible people were brought here as children.

            Here are some statistics from 2012: 1.8 potentially DACA-eligible people. Currently about 800,000 are part of the program

            1. Lee

              January 21, 2018 at 5:19 pm

              Thanks for the correction. I do know the difference but I’m in a bit of a brain fog today.

    2. John Zelnicker

      January 21, 2018 at 8:29 am
      I looked at the abstract and the first thing that comes to mind is that Arizona had the execrable Joe Arpaio targeting Hispanics for many years, and a local judiciary that backed him up with convictions and long prison terms (relative to others). That will naturally tend to involve more undocumented residents than other jurisdictions. I would think that the data from Arizona would be much worse than any other state.

      The abstract also refers to undocumented versus documented, but shows no indication of how many were DACA recipients. I think it’s reasonable to assume that not all undocumented immigrants arrested or convicted were DACA folks.

      The other thing I noticed is that the background on the web page says the paper is under review by SSRN. Not sure what that really means, perhaps that it’s not yet peer-reviewed.

      I suspect that there are all kinds of other methodological issues with the paper as well.

        1. John Zelnicker

          January 21, 2018 at 12:09 pm
          Thanks, Anon. I know what SSRN means, I was referring to the background that has the text “Under Review by SSRN”. Not my clearest writing. ;-)

    3. Oregoncharles

      One question: is “142% more” more than twice as much, or nearly half again as much?

      Given his terms, his claims aren’t that outrageous. To start with, he is equating DACA immigrants, who grew up here and are functionally Americans, with ALL undocumented immigrants of the same, youthful age bracket. That doesn’t follow.

      Even more to the point, undocumented immigrants are an underclass. People who have no stake in society are, logically, more likely to commit crimes. They’re more desperate and less committed to the people around them. That’s one reason to have them here legally, if they’re going to be.

      Of course, he’s probably taking advantage of a certain plausibility to run some fudged numbers.

      1. John Zelnicker

        January 21, 2018 at 8:53 pm
        I’ve always understood “100% more” to mean double the original amount, e.g., 4 pounds is 100% more than 2 pounds. So 142% would be almost 2 1/2 times the original number.

  6. The Rev Kev

    Humans Will Have A ‘Robot Second Self’ In The Next 20 Years, Say Experts At Microsoft

    Don’t you hate it when some tech head comes up with some bright idea – only to not know that the subject has already been done in the films? There was a 2009 film called “Surrogates” ( in which people would stay at home and have robot duplicates to lead the sort of life that they always dreamed of. They could do all sorts of stuff that they would never try in real life as there were no real consequences – which was probably the point of having a surrogate. Didn’t work out then and I do not think that it would work out in real life. The film also depicted the military uses of these surrogates ( which I could see being a real thing and may have been the origin of these surrogates.

    P.S. That image of penguins look simply like birds wearing tuxedos.

    1. diptherio

      I was wondering if anyone was going to mention that flick. It was actually pretty good…but not exactly a ringing endorsement of the this whole “another fake me” concept.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I will probably ask my robot second self to day-trade Bitcoin.

      With luck, I can buy many more second selves

      1. JTMcPhee

        A veritable second-self Army of your very own! Imagine the infinite possibilities! I’m sure no one else would come up with the same Master Plan…

    3. Michael

      Read Kiln People by David Brin, fast and fun.

      KILN PEOPLE imagines a near future when everybody can make temporary clay copies of themselves. Using a ‘home copier’ you ditto your memories and off goes the duplicate to run errands, attend classes, or do all your most boring – or dangerous – work. Then, at day’s end, you download the golem’s memories…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will this lead to a ‘quicker’ world population problem?

        I mean, robots have to eat too (and consume energy).

        “The world population doubled in the last 24 hour period, with everyone making a copy of himself/herself.”

      2. Daryl

        I probably wouldn’t do that, because I know my kiln copy would just flip me the bird and head out to party.

        1. a different chris

          Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) pretty much had that result from his cloning experiment. How could it possibly be a “clone” of you if it is willing to do the things you don’t want to?

    4. Lee

      Being who I am, my bucket list consists of grudges. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, age and health limit the realization of my darker intentions. I could see a surrogate self being quite useful under these circumstances. Unless of course my surrogate self was only taking revenge on other people’s surrogate selves. Damn! ; )

      IIRC, short lived, electronically transportable clones, for purposes of cheap vacationing were employed in the TV series The Expanse—a scifi noir murder mystery blended with elements of class war and anti-imperialism.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “And this is my alibi. I was seen sun-tanning in Nice, France, when the act occurred in that marijuana clinic in Southern California.”

      2. JamesG

        “Being who I am, my bucket list consists of grudges.”

        That’s the definition of Irish Alzheimer’s.

    5. DonCoyote

      Where’s Our Flying Cars? Or, in this song’s case, rocket packs.

      A nice collection of predictions (both in the lyrics and the movie images), a few of which have since come to fruition (“and have the robot run the vacuum”), but mostly not.

  7. wayne

    The link to “the chinese think palo alto is dumpy” is broken/redirecting me to the admin of nakedcapitalism.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Sorry– seems my fingers were unusually fat this morning. Please try it now, and thanks for drawing the error to my attention.

    2. rd

      The US has had an economy for a long time, certainly longer than a century in California. The US also has not had an invasion, civil war, carpet-bombing, etc. since the Civil War. As a result ,there was not an artificial loss of design life for structures and utilities. Much of the rest of the world looks new because in many cases the oldest things date back to the reconstruction after WW II. In China, it only dates back to the post-Communist era.

      The stuff that the Chinese are complaining about are things that the private sector would replace if there was a need/market. Since this replacement has not occurred, it seems reasonable to believe that those structures and systems are fit for purpose.

      Our public infrastructure is something different. That has been met by indifference by policy makers even when it is clear that it is not fit for purpose.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I saw this described, years ago, as a major economic advantage for Europe: all their factories and the like were new. Now that logic applies to Asia, instead.

  8. Wukchumni

    Humans Will Have A ‘Robot Second Self’ In The Next 20 Years, Say Experts At Microsoft Inquisitr (David L). Where’s my flying car?

    Wasn’t that you up in the air the other day in your flying car, as I was zipping by in my jetpack?

    1. Jean

      Oh, that wasn’t *me* that contracted my debt, it was my robot self with signature capabilities.
      The Corporal Veil protects me.
      So sue mechanical me.

  9. Lee

    Per capita military spending by countries is interesting. Saudi Arabia is number one by a long shot at $6,909. Wonder what they have in mind? Singapore is second, Israel third, and the U.S. is fourth ($1,859).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Surprising to see Singapore up there – is that in one particular year or over some period of time?

      (For a small country, one year spending might be like small sample size).

      1. Lord Koos

        It’s per capita, so that skews things. There are fewer people in Singapore than in NYC. Saudi Arabia has about 6 times as many people.

    2. Jim Thomson

      It is how the money we spend on their oil gets recycled back to the US through the MIC and thence through congress. SA does not need a military as the US protects them. A very old slimy quid pro quo. Robert Baer talks about all this in “Sleeping With the Devil”.

      1. Lee

        With 15,000 members in their royal family, they have a lot of precious snowflakes to protect. IIRC, at the time of Baer’s publishing (2003), a very large percentage of the general population of native Saudis were not engaged in productive labor. I am under the impression that the country is in the process of changing this situation.

      1. Sid_finster

        To be fair to the Saudi tyranny, I think that much of the Saudi charm for the modern day Merchants of Death is that they gladly pay full price and in cash.

  10. johnnygl

    No, i was using my hoverboard from Back To The Future and it was powered by cold fusion.

    Techi industry seriously has no ideas. Just fantasies they saw on TV as adolescents.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Er…Star Trek, but the goal of the “tech” industry (science is done by other non branded groups) is much of it was built around time savings. Laundering in days of yore was a labor intensive operation. With laundry machines, you spend 10 actual minutes per person laundering.

      Cameras on phones which are also PDAs and email systems is great. Compulsive gamblers can check scores without stopping in sports bars randomly to watch the scroll or calling their bookie. My mom had an e-book device that worked just like a nook in 1997ish. The available book selection wasn’t as extensive and the menu was annoying (let’s not talk about dial up), but it existed.

      Obviously, I haven’t invented the next great product, but I think the “Silicon Valley” realm of tech has reached an end point without a major revolution. All that is left is novelty gadgets or reintroducing products that already exist if they have a market.

      The old Google search was great. Could it be improved? Probably, but do improvements create a change in how we can find and access information? The answer is no. We might change the brand up, but it’s a minor thing compared to the death knell of Encyclopedia collections. Without nanites and asteroid mining where we are replacing copper wiring with gold wiring type changes, Silicon Valley is simply a bloated corpse releasing gas which is mistaken for breathing.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Humans Will Have A ‘Robot Second Self’ In The Next 20 Years, Say Experts At Microsoft Inquisitr (David L). Where’s my flying car?

    If you think social media is bad,with people talking to ‘friends’ all the time, this will be worse, this people, people talking to their ‘soul mates.’

    “Only you, in this whole wide world, understand me…about everything. You’re my second self…”

    Imagine streets, in downtown Manhattan, say, full of human/robot-second-self couples, talking among themselves.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probably the joy is in the process of imagining itself.

        Maybe one sees the same, or maybe other different things.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Robots finally in 20 yrs…just in time for the 100th anniversary of elektro and his dog sparko…

      will ceases never wonder

  12. The Rev Kev

    Jim Mattis warns US losing military edge

    This is not surprising when you think about it. The twenty years after the collapse of the old Soviet Union can be compared to the twenty odd years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars for the British. Yes, there were brush wars but Britain had no peer competitors and the Royal Navy ruled the waves. If you will, it was an artificial period that could never last. If it took Russia and China a long time to start to become peer competitors to the United States militarily it is because both started off from a very low base. Being surrounded by US bases has served to concentrate their minds wonderfully.
    James Mattis had his career in a time when the US military could go anywhere, face no real opposition, take months to build up its forces to invade another country and have undisputed command of the air and the sea. Those days are now over. If the Pentagon really wanted to build up the military’s edge, a great place to start would be to reduce the operational tempo driving the US forces which is not only breaking equipment but also men and women. See for one ex-Marine’s rant about the subject.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it’s not surprising, perhaps it’s more urgent, to avoid being on the descending side of a power cycle.

      Humans, as a whole, tend not to be forgiving.

      One way out is to be progressive, not in one country, home, but globally.

    2. David

      I think that history shows fairly convincingly that military power is essentially relative, not absolute. You either have the capability to achieve your political objectives or you don’t, and if you don’t then it doesn’t matter how many times over you can destroy the world. The US, in spite of the size and power of its military, has not succeeded in its aims in any military conflict since Korea. Much smaller countries with much more limited objectives (Singapore, Sweden, Ethiopia, Cuba etc. etc.) have achieved their own political objectives, and to that extent have a military “edge”. All the Chinese, for example, need to do is to have enough military power to force the Americans to stay away from their territory. They have this power and both sides know it. All the Russians need is the military power to achieve their (limited) objectives in certain parts of the world. Again, they have this power and again everybody knows this.

      1. Chaos is the goal

        Wrong. The American political objective of the long list of invasions, bombings and killing has been to sow chaos. Highly successful.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar refers to the US as the “Empire of Chaos” in his book of the same name.

        2. Judith

          Diana Johnstone makes the same argument in Fools’ Crusade, her book about Yugoslavia. She argues that the creation of chaos by the U.S. is quite deliberate: it delivers the message that any country that defies the dictates of the U.S. risks the same chaotic fate. This can happen to you too.

    3. VietnamVet

      General Mattis, besides his boss, has one real strategic disadvantage; if he realizes it or not; manpower. Both, Russia and Iran have conscript armies. They can draft millions of men to defend their homes and religions. The American Empire has had to depend on proxy forces like the Kurds since the silent mutiny in Vietnam. A conventional war with Turkey, Iran and/or Russia requires the draft.

      The Kurds are about to be shafted like the Montagnards. Either the USA or Syria/Russia start shooting down Turkish bombers or Afrin will be a replay of Aleppo or Raqqa. If the Kurds are realistic, they will join into a Federation with the Syrian Arab Republic. Holding a couple thousand American hostages just might get Washington DC to agree to a Middle East peace plan. That Is if a World War doesn’t break out first.

      1. RMO

        I also suspect that even when conscripted that if for example Russia or Iran is attacked their soldiers will have considerably greater commitment and motivation to fight than most of the volunteers in the U.S. forces or the associated mercenary tag-alongs.

        The Kurds have been shafted before. Perhaps a third betrayal from the U.S. might be the breaking point. One wonders how a breakout of fighting between Turkey, a NATO member and Kurdish groups if backed by the U.S. might play out at NATO headquarters… Well, I suppose they fudged things during the Turkey/Greece unpleasantness over Cyprus to avoid NATO having to go to war against itself.

  13. epynonymous

    I was going to start by joking about rocket-packs and the 1950’s version of the future, however, I do have something concrete to say.

    The opiate crisis is being understated. Often, coroners and medical professionals are compassionate enough to ‘cover up’ the over doses under mundane causes of death.

    From recent personal experience (a neighbor who was a funny guy, took care of his extended family, and was a good if ‘innovative’ mechanic) I can confirm that when a family is in pain, there is enough trauma going on, and it can be brushed off as a heart attack, etc.

    1. Scylla

      This is true-I personally know of three families who have lost loved ones to overdoses where the cause of death was noted as things like heart failure, or a severe asthma attack. I can tell you this-a neighbor up the road who I am friends with is an ER nurse who only works on the weekends, and she sees 10-20 ODs per week. She works at the only hospital in a county of about 40k people. If you conservatively assume 15 ODs per week, then that means that around 1 in 40 people in our county will experience an OD in a given year. It is probably much higher, as those numbers are only from the weekend, and people in the northern part of the county often visit another hospital in the neighboring county.

  14. jfleni

    A new blood test can detect eight different cancers in their early stages.

    Yes, Yes! But without info on reliabilty, it’s just more fodder for the docs and their endless, often meaningless
    tests for the fast bucks!

    1. Lee

      As a former long term smoker I get a lung scan every year. Last time, they requested blood for experimental purposes in developing a blood test for cancer. So, I’m guessing they’ve done a fair bit of data collection already. As for testing healthy people, that would be necessary for having a control group. The intention appears to develop a test that costs $500 a pop. As a human guinea pig, you get it for free with a promise that you’ll be informed if the result is positive for cancer.

  15. Brucie A.

    Chris Floyd has a new piece up: Least Resistance: No Liberal Outrage at New Regime Change Op

    This week, Secretary of State Rex Ex-Exxon Tillerson made a formal announcement that the United States — which has several thousand troops on the ground in Syria — will keep its forces there until the government of President Bashar al-Assad is overthrown. In other words, the United States has now embarked on a military regime change operation in Syria — in flagrant contradiction of Donald Trump’s repeated promises not to do such a thing. (I’m sure you join me in astonishment at the idea that Donald Trump would ever lie or break his word about anything.)


    So indefinite intervention and occupation are now on the cards. I’m so old I can remember when cynical nay-sayers were taken fiercely to task by the most thoroughly vetted and verified true-blue liberals for suggesting that this was the intention all along — even during the days of Obama, who has such a nice family and loves dogs and who was (as the NYT solemnly told us) as prayerful and mindful and godly as St. Thomas Aquinas when he met with his security apparatchiks in the White House every blessed week to go over the lists of people to be assassinated around the world on the basis of secret “intelligence” whose provenance and credibility remains forever shrouded in mystery. (Although I think we can safely assume it was at least as credible as the “intelligence” that led to the aforementioned mass-slaughtering war of aggression launched by the noted portrait painter George Bush.)

    1. Eureka Springs

      Long live the Floyd.

      As for any of the duopolists who claim Assad must go.

      Are we so stupid as to never ask why hasn’t MIC tried to bomb or otherwise take out Assad directly?
      Are U.S. troops and treasure really this disposable? Millions of Syrians too?
      Are al Qaeda and their ilk worth training, arming, allying with as brethren?

      If I were a religious man on this lovely Sunday I would look toward the heavens and say, regardless of their true motives – thank God for Russia.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL Al Qaeda LOL
        U.S. desperately seeking an enemy
        they tried North Korea for a while but that didn’t pan out
        Iran would be tough sledding so that looks unlikely
        the Stans are played out (watch the movie Restrepo and ask just how stupid we’d have to be for more of that)
        there’s the standard “Vlad did it!” stuff but how many more men and tanks can they cram into Poland?
        Wild cards: Venezuela, or some African country Americans never heard of
        Either that or a new false flag attack, see if they can do “Terra! Terra!” one more time

    2. Daryl

      There are people turning 18 next year who’ve been alive for as long as this ridiculous conflict (assuming one picks the admittedly arbitrary point of the invasion of Afghanistan as the start and not one of the many potential earlier ones).

      We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump plans gala at Mar-a-Lago tonight, again renting a ballroom from himself WaPo

    If he likes to be somewhere else, he can rent that place somewhere else.

    But if he likes it at Mar-A-Lago, he has an image problem, if not a money-making problem, assuming the room can’t be rented out to some other entity. That money is not a relatively significant amount (even if that room is not generating revenue otherwise) for someone like him to risk the image problem.

    Maybe he can use a second-choice location.

    1. newcatty

      Maybe he is sending his robo second self, along with other second selves in his special circle to Mar-A-Lago. The “real” gala is taking place at a very awesome and beautiful, secret location that only elite secret service and Langley roboagents are protecting and guarding. The “real” Trump and entourage are winking and eating the best chocolate cake ever created by robopastry chefs. Trump is just carrying on with tradition of the elites…he didn’t start the Parties.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China Urges U.S. to Abandon `Cold War’ Mindset in Bilateral Ties Bloomberg

    “It’s not our fault we can sell you more and your jobs have disappeared for your ex-workers.”


    Perhaps it has all been fair and not manipulated.

    And every national government should maximize its own and its people’s greatness, including talking tough, when attempting to change the status quo between two countries.

    The alternative is this: “Well, we like to sell your more, but about your workers?”

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Chinese think Palo Alto is dumpy TechCunch (David L).

    Paying above-asking prices when house-shopping there will still leave it dumpy (which I believe scales above ‘sh**hole, even in China) though.

    1. Plenue

      From near the end of the article:

      “Despite Palo Alto’s shabby look, lack of mobile payments, and lack of face-recognition software, America still has many, many desirable qualities. It’s safe and clean. Corruption is reasonably rare. Universities are still the best in the world. The bureaucracy around running a business is reasonably simple and well-trodden. Freedom of speech and expression is also strong.”

      Someone lives in a bubble, I think.

  19. Wukchumni

    How Tenants Use Digital Mapping to Track Bad Landlords and Gentrification TruthOut

    I don’t ever anticipate buying anymore real estate, but the thought crossed my mind, that you could easily suss out your prospective neighbors quite easily in this day and age, and figure out if they’re naughty or nice in terms of an arrest record, or if they have money woes, or what have you. I’m sure i’m not the first person to think of this concept of doing an investigation instigation, no?

  20. adrena

    Re: Pussyhats

    Help with what? Condescending much?

    There were quite a few guys wearing pussyhats and pink bandanas at the women’s march in my town. Nice to see the solidarity.

    My favorite sign: “Grab em by the Patriarchy”.

    and this:

    Happy Wife
    Happy Life – a sign carried by a guy

    1. JTMcPhee

      Or, as my ex-wife used to say, over and over, “When you do that thing, it’s WRONG. When I do that thing, it’s DIFFERENT.”

        1. JTMcPhee

          Another tidbit from ex-wife, as said to several of her Smith College classmates, to whom I was serving tea, after cleaning the oven and doing up the kitchen and vacuuming and dusting: “He’s well trained.”

          Positive outlook, eh? Depends on whose eyes one is looking through, maybe?

          1. Lee

            As a young heterosexual feminist male I had a significant other who once quipped to me at a social gathering that she felt as if she were leading a prize bull around. It’s decades later and I’m still not sure how to take that remark.

    2. Plenue

      The Pussy Hats nonsense absolutely deserves to be condescended towards. Firstly there’s the fact that it isn’t a protest for anything, instead being a march against…um…an asshole-in-chief, I guess? It’s effectively an arm of the McResistance; if it stands for anything it stands for restoring a Democratic status quo that was doing all the same horrible things but went about it in a more refined way.

      And even if the above weren’t the case, the hats themselves are ridiculous. The entire ‘movement’ has clad itself in an utterly ridiculous, childish costume. Try acting like adults, you might get further.

      Comparing it to real protest marches of the past, in fact it can’t compare. The March on Washington for Civil Rights, or the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq. Where are the hundreds of thousands protesting against our genocide in Yemen? How many of these clowns even know there is a genocide in Yemen?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        There’s one of those liminal events things that really disappoints when you finally go and check it out.

        I was expecting something far more ‘Georgia O’Keefe.’

      2. adrena

        “The goal is to get women voters to the polls to influence the mid-term election, putting progressive candidates in office who can advance the agenda of the Women’s March. That agenda ranges from advancing women’s rights to the rights of immigrants, people of color, laborers, the LGBTQ community and more”.

        Personally, I despise the pussyhats. In fact, I’ve hated the color pink all my life. I resent being instructed by society what color I must like. I’ve never been a member of the pink ghetto.

        I have no choice but to look past these horrible hats and to focus on the message.

        Yes, I’m aware there’s a genocide in Yemen. So?

          1. adrena

            Female Democrats. Let’s just hope they can withstand the spoils of power and work for the common good.

            What other choice is there?

            1. Plenue

              I’m sorry, but what makes you think women members of the Democratic Party are in any way better than the men? Hillary Clinton was the deciding voice in in the decision to destroy Libya, to name but one example.

              “What other choice is there?”

              Nice, TINA. And actual progressives, regardless of gender, I would imagine.

              1. adrena

                I’m referring to the new crop of women who have been influenced by the ideals of the current women’s movement.

                Hillary Clinton? Please, don’t mention her name again.

                    1. marym

                      Those aren’t policies. Medicare for All, publicly funded tuition at public colleges and universities, a national minimum living wage, and the Employee Free Choice Act, for example, are policies.

                    2. adrena

                      Former Canadian Prime Minister, PierreTrudeau, used to say: ” Canada must be a just society”

                      Let’s hope the US will become a just society.

            2. Jen

              My state’s delegation consists of two female democrat senators and two democrat congresswomen. Both senators, and one congresswoman have voted in favor of:

              expanding warrant-less surveillance on us citizens
              increasing our already bloated military budget by more than Trump asked for
              decreasing the “regulatory burden” on the banking sector

              And that was just last week.

              The other congresswoman is retiring, and team blue is going all out to replace her with another neoliberal.

              In fairness to our all female, all democrat delegation, they were already spoiled by power so it’s not like the office changed them any. And not one of them will get my vote again.

  21. Wukchumni

    Might we resemble late 1918 Germany soon, defeated on the field of battle afar, but relatively untouched @ home?

    It has the same feel, a century on.

      1. Wukchumni

        We have the spent military of 1918 Germany, the QE (assignats) of pre-Revolutionary France, and the overreach of the late Roman Empire, so yes.

        1. ambrit

          Don’t forget Americas’ predecessor, the British Empire.
          Neoliberalism. Hubris for the Twentyfirst Century.
          Great Captains know that, as Napoleon put it, “In war, moral power is to physical as three parts out of four.”
          America has ceded the moral high ground. The rest follows logically.

          1. Wukchumni

            The UK was similar, yet different. Our attempts @ colonialism got us places we really didn’t want (Philippines, Guam, Cuba & Puerto Rico) whereas the English generally were there to establish law & order with immigrants from merry olde in their far flung colonies.

            The yin & yang of our morals are on exhibit currently @ 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and the Santa Ana river bikepath, as per the video down below aways.

    1. vegas miek

      Late 1918 German was not untouched at home. The economy was in shambles, the old monarchy was dead, they lost a major war, parts of the country were occupied by a foreign power, political extremism were young, violent and passionate.

      1. Wukchumni

        The undefeated as of yet Germany of 1918, aside from pretty meaningless aerial bombing attacks was hardly touched. Ever see any pictures of bombed out cities in the fatherland from that era, as in the midst of WW2?

  22. duffolonious

    Because of the government shutdown military leave is cancelled. Sucks if you were on vacation and had to immediately plane it back.

    So maybe no economic damage, but …

  23. The Rev Kev

    The Y chromosome is slowly disappearing

    I’d imagine that this article would please a fair number of ‘the future is female’ persuasion but I think that this is a big deal as there is no mention as to why this is happening. Could it possibly have to do with the fact that there are tens of thousands of artificial chemical compounds in the environment now, few of which have ever been properly tested before making its way out into the world? And that this may explain the high incidence of cancer in modern lives?
    To be more exact, it was found that estrogen used in birth control pills was passing through water filters and changing the sex of fishes ( downstream. Interesting that. Now what happens when humans drink that very same water? It should be noted too that sperm count in the west has dropped by 60% in the past forty years as well. That’s colossal. If the Y chromosome is disappearing, I believe that the long and the short is that we are doing it to ourselves and will require a multi-generational effort to get these chemicals out of the environment. In any case, do women really look forward to a future of only androgynous men?

    1. a different chris

      I thought there was a “why”??? It isn’t paired so it has a hard time repairing itself.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > the Y chromosome has just 4.6m years left before it disappears completely. This may sound like a long time, but it isn’t when you consider that life has existed on Earth for 3.5 billion years.


    1. Biph

      I’m of two minds on that, I have some respect for what Clinton did when he was still a poor student with limited connections by gaming the system, I have no respect for what G.W. Bush, Dan Quayle and Trump did who all basically used the money, influence and/or power of their fathers to dodge the draft. One other thing that Clinton has over them is he was against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, the others all claimed to support it just not enough to serve in it.
      If Trump wants to hide behind the skirts of the military when he faces a political crisis he should expect the 5 deferments thing to brought up every time.

    1. Robert McGregor

      Nice touch of pairing the video with “This is the End” by The Doors. The same song highlighted the opening scene of the movie, “Apocalypse Now” (1979). I read that during the filming, its director, Francis Ford Coppola was looking and looking for appropriate music, and couldn’t find it. But then someone brought him “This is the End,” and he listened to it, and immediately said, “This is perfect.”

    2. Craig H.

      OC Register says it’s 500 people and it isn’t going to come in with force and clear it in one day.

      “Monday is our kickoff date, but we’re not coming in Day One and saying, ‘OK get out,’” OC Public Works spokesman Shannon Widor said. “We’re not trying to strong-arm anyone. We’ll come back the next day, and the next day to see if the person is still there.”

      That youtube video makes me wonder where they get the 500 number from. My guess is somebody made it up.

      The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
      –Mt. 25:40

    1. Daryl

      “Failed to preserve” is a wonderful euphemism. Maybe pop over next door to the NSA and see if they caught something in the dragnet? Or would that be too much work…

      1. JBird

        This is surprising? :-)

        One of the things I keep seeing in policing is that any recording unfavorable often disappears or there are “malfunctions” but anything favorable does not.

    1. integer

      BDS is a movement of individuals and groups that support the Palestinian people. It is not the policy of a state or a group of states. Apples and oranges. Nice try though.

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