Links 1/22/18

Someone Took This Bear to a Drive-Thru Dairy Queen for Ice Cream Vice

Star-hop from Orion to Planet 9 EarthSky. Chuck L: “If it exists, the planet has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than Neptune, which is currently the 8th major planet and which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles (4.5 billion km).

The astronomers say it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.”

Trash Girl’ won’t back down: Despite bullies, 12-year-old keeps up anti-litter fight Treehugger

The Plan to Save an Iconic Natural Monument By Covering It in Plastic Motherboard. No comment.

A New Information Engine is Pushing the Boundaries of Thermodynamics Futurism (David L)

Monstrous males? Analysis of children’s book villains show strong gender bias RT News (JT McPhee)

Want to Build a 3D Printer? Look No Further Than Your Electronic Junkyard Yale Global Online. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Space odysseys Times Literary Supplement.

The dying art of owning a decent pen The Spectator. When I blog– for NC or otherwise, or write an article of fewer than 1500-2000 words– I compose directly on my computer. But with longer-form writings, I still always write my first draft out in long-hand, employing a trusty fountain pen, using Diamine ink.  Readers?

Deadly flu season particularly rough on kids — and won’t peak anytime soon CBS News

The Untreatable London Review of Books. Timely review of a book about the 1918 global ‘flu pandemic.

How can we halt the feminisation of sea turtles in the northern Great Barrier Reef? The Conversation

Kill Me Now

Amazon debuts the store without a checkout FT. What could go wrong? Readers should have fun with this….

North Korea

How the seizure of a US spy ship by North Korea nearly sparked nuclear war CNN. I watched Dr. Strangelove recently, as I do periodically. And what struck me again, as always when I view this film, is how amazing it is that we’ve so far avoided stumbling into nuclear war, accidental or otherwise.

Warming trend keeps rising on Korean Peninsula Asia Times

South Korea prosecutors are investigating Apple’s iPhone battery controversy The Verge. Well, well, well– prosecutors who seek to hold a corporation accountable! DOJ: Pay attention.

Class Warfare

Unions Held Their Own in 2017 Jacobin. Doug Henwood.

Amazon Short-List Proves Something “Deeply Wrong” With America’s Race-to-the-Bottom Economy: Ellison Common Dreams (Judy B)

US banks suffer 20% jump in credit card losses FT.

Sears Canada Steals Pensions Ian Welsh

There Is More Than One Opioid Crisis FiveThirtyEight

1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours NYT

What Not To Wear…To Court The Marshall Project Author and third year law student Jeff Campbell gets it. Wishing him well in his goal of becoming a public defender.

Trump administration extending opioid emergency declaration Politico. Talk is cheap.

Technology will widen pay gap and hit women hardest – Davos report Guardian

The European Central Bank is paying close attention to bitcoin Politico

Why does the UK have so many accents? The Conversation

Just one in four Britons trust news on social media, finds survey Guardian

Democrats in Disarray

The Democratic Party Is Not What You Think Gods & Radicals (rivegauche). Far from a perfect piece, yet nonetheless makes quite a few good points but caricatures “Berniecrats” as if Sanders supporters are in truck with the Dems.

‘Bernie Bros’ Phenomenon Debunked in New Poll Truthdig. Charles: “Confirmation is nice.”


In China, big data is watching you … and that could be a huge ‘challenge to the West’ SCMP

As China cracks down on bitcoin, Indian cryptocurrency exchanges wait and watch Quartz


Why India’s Big Fix Is a Big Flub NYT

India will install cameras in classrooms amid a rise of surveillance measures in Asia Business Insider (David L)


Syria – Turks Attack Afrin, U.S. Strategy Fails, Kurds Again Chose The Losing Side Moon of Alabama (The Rev Kev)

Mattis: Turkey advised US ahead of airstrikes in Syria The Hill

Slovenia to recognize Palestinian state next month — TV report Times of Israel (Sam Adams)

Guillotine Watch

Russian Billionaire Gets Green Light for Upper East Side Mega-Mansion Mansion Global.


Emmanuel Macron: French would ‘probably’ vote to leave EU Sky News. So, seemingly those in charge are aware of the plebe POV– yet that insight doesn’t alter policies.

Trump Transition

Trying to Defend President Trump’s Derision, Diplomatically NYT

Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller?New York Magazine Re Silc: “will be a better movie than the post.” Moi: Faux friendly, But then again, not terrible given NYMag’s priors.


‘Washington Was About to Explode’: The Clinton Scandal, 20 Years Later Politico. A reminder: the Lewinsky story broke on 21 January, twenty years ago. Here some of the journos involved mull what it all means. Some interesting details.


Government shutdown: Trump attacks Democrats and calls for ‘nuclear option’ Guardian. Re Silc: “i like the photo. get me a big mac.”

War hero senator calls Trump ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ and says she won’t be lectured by a ‘five-deferment draft dodger’ following the president’s claims the Democrats are holding the military hostage Daily Mail (Re Silc)

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Quanka

    Here’s that soils guy again.

    Re: “FLU” — if we fix the soils (eliminate chemicals) it should have a carry-on effect to our immune systems, and should reduce the severity of these types of outbreaks. There is a direct link between the soils, the food we eat and our immune systems.

    Over the past 75 years, with chemical applications to the soil increasing, the nutritional value of all foods has declined. Its now common to find commercially harvested oranges that do not have measurable amounts of vitamin C. Think about that for a second — this is just an example. Across the board, the micronutrients in mass-produced food has declined precipitously over the same time period.

    The connection between soils, nutrients (especially micro) and our immune systems is an under-appreciated part of this broader problem.

      1. Altandmain

        Canadian here. The soil up north is highly acidic and not suitable for the kind of agriculture that you have in mind.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Blueberries do well in those conditions, and other ericaceous berries. There are lists of acid-loving plants.

          No grains or nuts, that I know of.

        1. JCC

          The U.S. is not the only country that suffered the Spanish Flu.

          India suffered some of the highest death rates in the World during the epidemic yet they didn’t switch to chemical pesticides and fertilizers in any serious way until the 1950’s according to everything I’ve read. Many other “non-sophisticated” counties also suffered badly at that time.

          My point is that yes, our soil is degrading badly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that good soil prevents serious epidemics.

          1. Procopius

            I think it would be good to remember that the Greeks, around the time of Solon, were concerned because their soil was depleted of nutrients, crop yields were declining and they had serious problems with erosion of the topsoil.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d lean more towards the Haber-Bosch Process in 1918/20, as post WW1 was when it was first utilized outside of Germany.

      2. Quanka

        This is from 2013 and our knowledge of the nutritional deficiencies of modern food has grown considerably since.

        And mind you, this topic is not well reported on, but some people are catching onto the idea that measuring calories and thinking that fat is unilaterally worse than simple sugar carbohydrates is a very wrong way to look at nutrition in food. In fact, I didn’t even become familiar with the term “micronutrients” until the last 2-3 years. You certainly wont find micronutrients on food labels, and we are not doing a very good job (as a society) of assessing the impacts of chemical applications to the soil, and how this in turn shows up as micronutrient deficiencies in plants.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Not that I’ve done any research on the toxicity of our soils, but when cities encourage no pesticides on lawns because it gets into the ground water, ya gotta wonder.

      Do you have any articles/white papers to share?

    2. Jean

      “connection between soils, nutrients and our immune systems is an under-appreciated” –but available to anyone with Google:

      “hundreds of studies showing the increased nutrient density in organically farmed foods, across a wide range of nutritional components….” “multiple studies showing the growing difference in nutrient density between organically grown and conventionally grown foods, particularly in the area of antioxidant capacity. We see results showing increased antioxidants in organic citrus fruits (Tarozzi, 2006) and organic red wines (Di Renzo, 2007). A long-term study at UC Davis (Mitchell, 2007), organic tomatoes showed 79% higher levels of quercetin, and 97% higher levels of kaempferol than in conventionally grown tomatoes. ”

    3. cocomaan

      Over the past 75 years, with chemical applications to the soil increasing, the nutritional value of all foods has declined. Its now common to find commercially harvested oranges that do not have measurable amounts of vitamin C. Think about that for a second — this is just an example. Across the board, the micronutrients in mass-produced food has declined precipitously over the same time period.

      There is speculation, though, that this has to do with global warming. As plants encounter warmer climates, they have to metabolize less as they have an easier time growing and spreading seed. That reduces the need for pushing tons of nutrients into fruits and vegetative growth.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Reading the comments, I think if Global Warming is a factor, it’s one among many others.

      2. swangeese

        Your comment reminded me of a politico article I read last year. I dug it up to refresh my memory.

        Apparently as the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase, some important nutrients in the plants we eat decreases. At the same time, plants produce more sugar as carbon dioxide levels rise.

        Basically carbon dioxide revs up photosynthesis which encourages plants to produce carbs at the expense of other nutrients (protein, minerals, etc.).


        Not very good news for those, like me, who are insulin resistant. heh

  2. Marianne

    Re: The dying art of owning a decent pen… I have six or seven very nice fountain pens and prefer using them for taking notes and writing first drafts. But I hate having people think they can just grab them off my desk (usually bosses or board members)! I was taught that you never take someone’s fountain pen without asking. Some of mine are expensive. The nibs are delicate and if dropped can be ruined. Some caps pull off, some screw off, and I hate watching someone pull and pull on a screw off to open the pen. Don’t take someone’s fountain pen without asking!

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I had several wonderful fountain pens+ nib sets gifted to me as a child/teen – and even then it was the gift that sort of said ‘retro chic’, but as a left-hander who never developed the uncomfy-habits… I always drag my hand across the ink and smudge it so I gave up on the fountainy goodness. Maybe there is a modern insta dry ink I should try again with.

      Now I make do with Uni-Ball Onyx, .5mm. Made by Mitsubishi, I believe, mostly recycled materials, insta-dry ink, and a 12-pack sealed lasts for years…decades probably. For my deplorable mitts, and my half-baked ideas, they write silky smooth and reliably.

      I have many set aside against the day they stop manufacturing them…or the bomb drops. (Duck and Cover – more retro chic!! lol )

      1. Chris

        I know a left-hander who went to a Catholic school, and was taught to write ‘properly’ with a fountain pen. His hand curls over the top of the line he’s writing, with fingers away from the wet ink, and his wrist clear of the page.

        May be a little late for you to change, but there is that option…

      2. ChrisPacific

        Left hander here as well and I also place a high value on quick-drying ink. I’ve never tried fountain pens for that reason (some brands of ballpoint are bad enough). You can contort your wrist to avoid it but it’s uncomfortable to do for any length of time.

      3. Gaianne

        I don’t currently do much calligraphy, but when I did, I quickly learned to write upside-down, thereby keeping my writing hand out of the wet ink.


      4. Procopius

        I would like to switch back to a fountain pen, but they are far too expensive. When I was on my first hitch in the Air Force I got a Parker at the PX. Really nice, and I think cost about $15-20. Currently I use a Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm that fits the hand very comfortably. I’d go back to a Parker or a Shaeffer in a New York minute if they didn’t cost over $100. I used to use Quink, but I have no idea what inks are available here in Thailand.

    2. Frank

      My spelling is so much better when I write with my fine nibbed Lamy pen. The little red squiggly line never appears.

    3. MartyH

      Diamine is nice. I’ve been using Waterman’s Havana. Most people sniff and demand I find them a ball point when I offer them one of my fountain pens.

      1. BuddyFunJet

        My ink is Skrip Peacock Blue. Discontinued for 30 years but I laid in a lifetime supply. My pen is a Yard O Led pocket but I also carry an Ohto Tasche rollerball for loaning and check writing.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

          I’m swapping back and forth among Diamine Amazing Amethyst, Bilberry, and Imperial Purple at the moment.

    4. Wukchumni

      I never got into decent pens, my plume of choice being a Flair blue felt-tip model that set me back a buck or so. About the only thing I use it for currently is to write checks or affix my signature to something.

      I enjoyed writing and calligraphy in it’s day, but I used to get writer’s block when wielding a pen, and if I changed my mind about the context of what I was trying to convey, it only exacerbated the issue. A computer keyboard flows much smoother and is oh so forgiving when it comes to missive accomplished.

    5. DJG

      As a writer, I have always had decent pens, and they always have to have black ink. There is something about the discipline of hand to pen and eye to paper (and the smell of paper) that makes writing with a pen on paper more productive. The computer seems to be designed to be forgettable. So it isn’t just the etiquette of borrowing a pen–there is also the matter of being more in tune with one’s work when one has a pen.

      I don’t use fountain pens, though, because I seem to be the master at getting ink on my hands. And at the risk of seeming much too sure of myself, I gave up on pencils years ago.

      1. Lord Koos

        One of the reasons that writing in a personal journal by hand is recommended over doing it on a computer or typewriter, is that writing or printing by hand has a different emotional connection than working a keyboard.

    6. Bugs Bunny

      Waterman is my personal favorite pen and ink. I have a black Carène and go between Havana and Mysterious Blue on inks. It’s a pen you can use every day.

      I once had a fabulous Visconti that was a great looking pen but it was a pain to fill and the actual writing quality wasn’t great so I got rid of it.

    7. hpschd

      I still have and use my first fountain pen, an Esterbrook J gray “Icicle” pattern celluloid. Years ago there was a fellow on FireDogLake, Trex, who collected fountain pens and would occasionally start a fountain pen thread. I was inspired and started collecting fountain pens. I already had a dozen, now I have many dozens. My particular fancy is very colorful celluloid pens that have a mechanical pencil at one end and a fountain pen nib at the other. I repair them as needed. I still use my first pen a lot, it’s more than 60 years old.

      A fountain pen nib soon wears in to your writing style and will not work well for anyone else.

    8. Bazarov

      I use two fountain pens–a medium nib Montegrappa that looks pretty and writes fairly well, and a new Pilot with a fine nib that writes incredibly well. I hand write most first drafts.

      If you’re interested in purchasing a fountain pen, give Pilot a try. It’s a Japanese company with a very good reputation for craftsmanship. Their product catalogue covers the full range, from cheap $20 fountain pens to luxury models that cost hundreds of dollars.

      1. RickM

        I have a collection of fountain pens that I use in the early stages of every paper I write. Black, blue, and burgundy ink, with forest green on order. They are essential! The biggest problem is paper that can take the nib and the ink. The only good stuff seems to come from France. I have several go-to companies for both, since finding pens, paper, and ink where I live is a fool’s errand. I’m generally not in the business of recommending, but Classic Office Products and Colorado Pen are both very useful. Good inventory and excellent service, both ;-)

        1. wilroncanada

          Thanks all for the discussion of pens, especially fountain pens.
          I too have found that handwriting a first draft seems to work better on the creative juices.
          I also spent (misspent?) 30 years in the stationery/office products business. My oldest daughter always kids me that they know where to find me if we stop in a new town or city–the stationery store if there is one. (She worked in our store, as did my other daughters, during high school. Then, at university, she worked in the university bookstore–the stationery department, of course.)
          I have a small collection of pens. One of them is a red/blue or black/.5mm pen/pencil combination, cross, in which the pencil has stopped functioning. There is a pen shop in Vancouver to which I sent repairs in years past and is still apparently in business. I am about to try them.

    9. Oregoncharles

      I used a fountain pen in my youth, a cheap cartridge Scheaffer. When I bought a good pen, it promptly got lost.

      But my handwriting is so terrible that it’s a bit unfriendly. I did notice something, back when I was writing poetry (like a lot of people, it stopped coming when I reached a certain age). I thought my poems were different when I hand-wrote them, versus starting them on a typewriter. They were more fluid, more organic. Or so it seemed. And poems are short enough that cramp didn’t set in.

      Now I mostly just use a keyboard. At least it’s legible.

    10. integer

      I have used a fountain pen once. I was in a posh law office getting some documents notarized, and the notary was using a fountain pen. I have to say, it really was quite the performance for what amounted to signing off on a few documents. Anyway, when it came time for me to sign he was very hesitant to hand over his fountain pen to an inexperienced fountain pen user. I reassured him by saying “Don’t worry, I’ll manage to scratch something out”, and then did exactly that. He looked horrified and at the end of the meeting notified me that he had misquoted the cost and charged me an extra $100. Ha!

  3. Wukchumni

    Space odysseys Times Literary Supplement.

    If you watch newsreels from the late 50’s, one overriding concern was that nuclear-tipped ICBM’s would rain down upon humanity, with scant thought that said blunt nosed swords could be turned into manned starplows instead, but that’s what happened…

    July 20, 1969 was truly when the USA peaked as a nation, and since then there have been major technological (your smart refrigerator has vastly much more computer capability than Apollo 11) advances in regards to inner space and speed of the flow of information, but to put things in perspective of speeding humans, in 1905 Death Valley Scotty set out on the Scott Special, going from LA to Chicago, and shattered the previous record in getting there, going a blistering 55 mph or thereabouts.

    In contrast 64 years later, the Apollo 11 astronauts hit around 25,000 mph in their journey, and we’ve now slowed down to a crawl in comparison, not having a manned space program of our own anymore, and who knows, maybe 55 mph will be a marvel of speed again, in the not so distant future?

    On a personal note, I was 7 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, just the perfect minimum age to remember all of the details, and should I make it to 100, i’ll be one of the few left @ that time to have experienced it, and no doubt i’ll have to defend that it actually happened, against all the naysayers of 2060 that claim it was all an elaborate ruse.

    1. ambrit

      Oh yes. Our school teachers bought their ‘portable’ black and white television sets to class the day of the Moon Landing. Homeroom class lasted all day, as we sat and watched the event, a fascinated crowd of kids and adults. That day, at lunch, someone had a television set up in the lunchroom so that everyone could watch, students and school workers equally.
      This was the single most unifying event I, or anyone who was there, ever experienced. For one moment, we were all Earthlings, no leaders to be ‘taken to’ required.

      1. Wukchumni

        I watched on tv in Port Washington NY, and somewhere there’s a photograph of me watching the television set, which an awful lot of people seemed to do, as proof that you were indeed there when it happened.

        About a month later my parents took me to the ticker tape parade in Manhattan, and after a voyage of about 1/2 a million miles, my trio of heroes were briefly no farther than say about 100 feet away from my crying eyes, I was so overtaken with emotion.

        1. Rhondda

          Yes, I also have photographs, taken by my parents, of me and my little sister silhouetted against the moon landing showing on TV. I must have been about 8 years old. We lived in Newport News, Va at the time. We lived in an apartment complex mostly peopled by young guys who were either going to or coming from Vietnam. One of the guys had a moon landing TV-watching party. I recall that it was night and my sister and I fell asleep in a pile of quilts on the floor. Suddenly my dad was telling me to wake up, wake up, the astronauts were coming down the ladder to walk on the moon. I sat up but being a bit dazed by “Morpheus’s headlock” I watched the whole shebang as a reflection in the glass sliding doors — not realizing I was facing the wrong direction — and eventually slid back into sleep. My dad used to tease me about that something fierce. Thank goodness for the good old Kodachrome.

      2. audrey jr

        Wowsers! You were in school in July? That sucks.
        I grew up in Phoenix and my parents took us to Nogales, Mexico on that day and, from there, we watched the moon landing on a little TV inside a great little Mexican restaurant..

        1. ambrit

          Yep. School started early in those days. After all, the crops weren’t ready for harvesting yet, so, what to do? School was a full nine months. I also walked a mile each way, from home to school and then back. No big deal. Other kids rode bikes as far as, If I remember correctly, two or three miles. If my memory serves me right, the only kids back then who rode the school bus were from quite some way away. Talk about serious culture clashes.

    1. crittermom

      Well, for me personally, I’m hoping people will explore new children’s books, as well, since I’m trying to come up with the money to self-publish my first one this year.

      I’ve been exploring the children’s book market & hope to be offering something a little different than what’s generally offered, as I’m using actual wildlife photos to tell a story while also teaching a lesson.
      Admittedly, my first book does have male characters (lizards), as I have many more good shots of males.

      My second book, however ( which I’m still editing), has 2 female lead characters (a female elk calf & her mother).

      Even as a child I found some of the illustrations in children’s books scary or foreboding.
      I discovered not much had changed when my son was young (40 yrs ago), tho’ there were books like “Where the Wild Things Are” that we both found enjoyable.

      This article did get me thinking about the gender of the characters, however, so I will continue to keep that in mind as I continue to write more.

      I believe the fact that “…only half of the books in this year’s top 100 were published in the last five years.” says there’s room for something new.
      Hoping I’m right.

    2. Lord Koos

      Gender bias? Let’s face it, has there ever been a female villain on the scale of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Attila the Hun, etc etc?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Seeing as the only man in Hitler’s villainry class is Stalin, who ruled for 25 years to 11+ for the Nazis, kind of a disingenuous statement.

        Women are breaking ceilings into all new kinds of male-dominated fields. Why, look at that bright Elizabeth woman from Theranos!

  4. The Rev Kev

    Mattis: Turkey advised US ahead of airstrikes in Syria. I can guess how that went down-

    “Mr Matthis? Erdogan here. We are about to start bombing the Kurds in Syria!”
    “Wait! Let’s talk about it. And can you speak up, please? I can barely hear you. What’s all that racket on your end?”
    “That’s the sounds of the bombs exploding!”

  5. Martin Oline

    I found the article about Glen Greenwald Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller? absolutely wonderful. Thank you very much for the link to it.

    1. Lee

      Yes. Well worth reading. My favorite quote:

      “When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely fucked for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete fucking disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”

      1. crittermom

        Thanks. After reading that quote I must now go back & read that article. Sounds like he nailed it?

      2. John k

        It wouldn’t make any sense for dems to be an adequate alternative to the dems, they share the same donors.
        Why do donors need dems when they already have reps?
        Dems have one, highly critical, job; keep progressives from power,

      1. ChrisPacific

        I checked Twitter and Greenwald himself seems fairly happy with it (disagrees with some of the reporter’s opinions but feels that his own viewpoints have been fairly presented). His biggest criticism was for the headline, which he blames on editors.

        I thought it was well written, and found myself agreeing with a lot of it, even the criticisms. Greenwald does like a fight. If by some miracle Sanders were to be elected President, I think Greenwald would take five minutes to celebrate and then it would be on to eviscerating his foreign policy positions. Not a bad thing in itself – it’s just who he is.

  6. Craig H.

    Amazon debuts the store without a checkout

    At my walmart the self-service checkout has four registers. There is one clerk who assists at all four of these and that person is occupied constantly. Perhaps one clerk helping four shoppers get through the computer system is close to some sort of natural law or at least a rule of thumb. If walmart can’t figure out how to get this number down I am skeptical that amazon will be able to do so.

    Does anybody’s walmart have six self-service registers serviced by one clerk?

    If we were being prescriptive it isn’t really self-service. It’s quarterclerk service.

    1. Pat

      One CVS I use has three self checkout counters. On those occasions when I was really in a hurry and used one, I always had to wait for the person handling the one human check out register to come correct some technical glitch. Apparently everyone else who shops there has learned the same thing. Yesterday everyone just lined up and waited for the human leaving the self checkout empty while I was there.

      Unfortunately, I don’t see CVS ever acknowledging the failure, so there will be no change for the better.

      1. Jason Boxman

        At the local bFresh grocery, the self checkout works rather well for the most part. It’s not unheard of to wait for one of the 15 or so to open up. They also have 4 regular staffed checkout lanes, but usually 50% staffed. It’s less convenient for fruits and vegetables, though. But I can handle it in self checkout, or I can wait for someone else to do it for me. Takes about the same amount of time. I shop for 1 though.

        1. Jean

          Is it morally permissible to shoplift from a job destroying machine?
          “I don’t understand how computers work” is an excuse that you can’t use with a flesh and blood employee.

      2. Liberal Mole

        Our CVS installed three self checkouts, then removed them a few months later. Guess they were more trouble than an employee.

    2. Ernie

      Now that you mention it, one clerk to four self-service registers seems to also be the limit at Home Depot and at several supermarkets I have frequented. It seems to be the de facto standard ratio, possibly established by some initial research by check-out equipment manufacturers?

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Yep.. while you are at these self service kiosks you are on camera.. they take your picture so if they accuse you of thievery later they have you mug shot already prepared.

        The worst experience I have seen is the ordering kiosks at fast food restaurant. Talk about lost time.. navigation through those things is ridiculously tine intensive. Corporations pushing more labor on the consumer.

        1. carycat

          The ultimate insult is the smartphone app that takes 10 times longer for moi to fat finger my way through the ordering process vs just verbally ordering it to a human at the register. And the folks with the archs) have the gall to brick the version that was loaded on my phone but fails to install a newer version because the OS version on my phone is too old (it’s an older budget phone, but paid for and works adequately for talking and texting)!
          I’m willing to bet that this “checkoutless” shopping experience is also intimiately tied to your smartphone. I can’t wait to not experience this insecure, lack of privacy, and lousy user experience. Just wait till a false positive in their fraud management call a SWAT team on you.

    3. bwilli123

      My local Woolworths in Australia has three Express lanes, a dozen or so standard checkout lines and seven self serves from memory. There is one attendant who is not usually overwhelmed.
      This is facilitated by customers re-stacking their shop supplied handbaskets and generally appearing to know what to do.
      Three of the terminals are debit/credit card only. The remainder (and generally more popular) accept notes and coins. All dispense cash.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I hate packing my own groceries and avoid it whenever I can. I always feel that I am working for Coles or Woolworths for “free” using my own labour while helping put some poor kid out of a job.
        In any case, it takes longer to do than a check-out chick could which means that it is more time-consuming and less efficient. So who is this an “improvement” for exactly?
        Having mobs like these take money out of your account while you walk around? Good thing that a hacker will never sit near a supermarket to hack into that little cash-cow network. After all, it would be all 100% secure, wouldn’t it?

    4. Merf56

      I shop a lot during off hours and that includes my local Lowe’s. They have ZERO humans on checkout quite often when I go. So…. I go to the desk and ask to see a manager. When they arrive I put my stuff up and say ‘ since there is no one to check me out I won’ t be buying these items. They give me ‘ the look’ as I do this regularly now! They say:” I will check you out here ma’am. I say no thanks, I will go down a few miles to Ace Hardware where they always have a person ready to check me out without having to come to the service desk”….
      FYI – I always go to my local ACE first and if they don’t have the item or it is fantastically expensive only then do I visit the big box Lowe’s. What I do after a disappointing Lowe’s visit is drive a few more miles again and buy the items at Home Depot which still has a dedicated live human available at all hours…. I know it’s a pointless exercise in futility but whatever….

      1. Tom Bradford

        One of my local supermarkets has installed self-service checkouts, which I refuse to use as I don’t see why I should be trained to do for free what they currently have to employ and pay someone to do.

        1. RickM

          This isn’t a requirement. I live where Publix has stores. They have no self-checkout, and should a line form they immediately open another regular checkout lane and/or send a customer with a few items to the Service Desk. Publix is a private, employee-owned company, 21st on the Fortune list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017. As a customer, you can tell. I go to the other local chain, which is based in Cincinnati, once a year or less.

    5. Bugs Bunny

      I’ve noticed that IKEA has 1 worker per 6 self-service checkouts. That person is constantly working.

    6. Wukchumni

      My Wal*Mart has a bank of 6 self-check out terminals with one human bean counter to help out on all of them. Typically there’s not much of a wait compared to going to an old school checker, which will have 4-5 people waiting in line @ any given time.

      1. tongorad

        Walmart’s manned checking stations, rows and rows of them, are always understaffed at my nearest Walmart, and the self-check stations are often broken and/or understaffed. What a pit.

    7. ambrit

      One of our two WalMarts has two sets of eight self serve checkout mini-counters. Usually, one set is closed. The other has one very frazzled attendant. The twenty or so “regular” checkout lines are generally more than half closed. After ten or eleven PM, I’ve seen as few as two lanes open, with a wait of up to ten people in each. Finding a buggy half full of goods abandoned by frustrated ‘shoppers’ at the check out area is now a regular occurrence at the WalMart.
      On another note; I’ve begun to regularly check prices for goods I know I want to get on the computer. The competing grocery chains now regularly beat WalMart not only on quality, but also price for many foodstuffs.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m a bit of a mineral water fiend, and the best one comes from Mexico-Topo Chico (how counterintuitive-drinking Mexican water!) in our opinion, and they only place that sells it is Wal*Mart.

        There’s a few other items along those lines that only WM sells, which is why I shop there, along with being able to check out how gun nutty the country is, vis a vis their locked glass ammo case in the sporting goods dept, which at times in the past has been about 85% empty of all calibers, but not now, it’s full.

        1. ambrit

          Check out the ‘Ammo Aisle’ at your local gun show to see how “gun nutty” the region is. I regularly see cases of ammo on sale. A purchase of a 600 round case of some rifle calibre is as American as apple pie. How about a 1000 round case of 9mm for your plinking pleasure? There are .357 varieties of ammo available.
          Except for your serious gun nuts, I lean towards the theory that most American gun nuttery is compensation behaviour for deep seated feelings of powerlessness and insecurity. (I know that I fall prey to it on occasion.)
          Our local WalMart ammo case is chock full of nuttery badness even as I type this.

          1. Wukchumni

            Before the LA County Board of Supervisors banished it from being @ the LA County fairgrounds in Pomona post-Columbine, there used to be this amazingly big gun show there, and I went on a number of occasions to gawk at all comers, and I remember on one occasion somebody’s folding hand cart broke from all the weight of the ammo they had loaded it down with. The people watching was pretty sublime, and with shock horror one time, I noticed somebody I knew, in an SS officer’s uniform, playing dress-up.

          2. MtnLife

            I think you two misspelled ‘gun nutter’. It’s usually spelled ‘patriot’. I find it totally ironic that if MLK were alive today he’d be hated by the party that celebrates him. He’s a complete Deplorable don’t ya know? Clinging to God and guns (Man, I bet that Obama comment made him roll in his grave – the irony of the first black president trashing our most beloved civil rights leader and not one “mainstream lefty” cared). That Rosa Parks, too – another total gun nutter. The history of gun control in this country is just like our war on drugs – based on class warfare and racism. I choose not to be a class traitor. Remember, the only time the NRA was anti gun was when black people had guns. That should tell you all you need to know.
            Anti-gunners are usually people who have become so cosmopolitan that they feel they shouldn’t have to deal with any of life’s unpleasantness. That’s for the little people. They eat meat without ever having hunted or farmed (cuz that’s what deplorables do) and having to deal with the spiritual anguish of killing another creature or the blood involved in processing. They don’t care to be involved in their own self defense because they can just call the police (more deplorables) to deal with any unpleasantness there. Don’t forget, the police don’t respond with the same alacrity to poor areas that they do to rich ones. This is why the Dems have lost the working class. Too many 10%ers looking down their noses and faulting people for not being rich and cultured enough.

            1. ambrit

              Not sure how to respond. I have firearms myself. Police are now almost considered as questionable support in crisis situations by default round here.
              As for “gun nutter,’ well, I favour the definition I read in an old “How To” book I have about various calibres and their uses. A gun nut was considered to be someone who delved into the arcane arts of “wildcatting” rounds. That takes study and application. Wildcatting rounds takes work and experimentation, plus the occasional unplanned explosion. I know one or two of these types.
              People who just collect guns without thinking about why, and what to do in various possible scenarios are, well, unorganized. The best organized gun aficionados I ever met were some Black Nationalist types a decade ago. Maybe longer ago, now that I think about it.
              Keep the powder dry!

              1. ambrit

                The real question is; “Defense against whom?”
                As the elites play it, it turns out to be; “Defense against each other.”

            2. Wukchumni

              “I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house. When I decided that I couldn’t keep a gun, I came face-to-face with the question of death and I dealt with it. From that point on, I no longer needed a gun nor have I been afraid. Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors.”~

              Martin Luther King, Jr.

              1. ambrit

                Brave words, but, the poor man was forcibly sunk six feet under ground. Martyrs are all well and good, when anyone is paying attention. It’s dying alone and unsung that takes real courage.
                Somehow, this morphs into a question of ideals versus concrete material benefits.

      2. Craig H.

        I cannot imagine what it is like to assist eight customers self-serve checking out at a time at walmart. The clerks here are not frazzled but they are always occupied assisting four. I tried to ask google how many registers one clerk can assist and could not find much. The best article I found was this one:

        The economics of self-service checkouts
        June 11, 2017 The Conversation

        It did not refer to this issue at all. The writer seemed to think that in the real world it might be possible to supervise 10 self-serve checkout registers with 0 people.

    8. blennylips

      Not to worry! They are having problems stocking the shelfs -> nothing to check out! Brilliant!

      But anonymous Whole Foods employees who have since spoken to BI are blaming the store’s new ordering system called Order-to-shelf (OTS), which was basically created to save costs and increase efficiency so that no produce is left to go bad in storage rooms. It essentially requires Whole Foods stores to only have enough food in stock that will fill an entire shelf — and nothing more.

      1. bob

        ” It essentially requires Whole Foods stores to only have enough food in stock that will fill an entire shelf — and nothing more.”

        That’s how ALL grocery stores operate. I worked in several years ago. There is no “back room” where stock is stored, This is how its been for decades. It comes off the truck and then goes to the shelf.

        More than can fit on the shelf? Make a display in the middle of the isle. The shelves are the stock rooms.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          “Why doesn’t my local grocery store that runs on a 2%-4% margin, has rampant theft to to point where the employees are de facto security guards, and competition from the chain stores above and the dollar stores below, carry thousands of dollars of often-perishable back inventory on the off chance I might need that specific item that day?”

          The sentiment above was always expressed by a well-dressed woman I had never seen in the store before.

          The spoiledness of the American consumer cannot be understated.

    9. audrey jr

      As a matter of fact, IIRC, the Walmart here in San Diego at Murphy Canyon Rd does have 6 self service checkouts with 1 attendant to assist customers. I noticed before Christmas that they had expanded the self service checkout lanes.

    10. pretzelattack

      well theoretically, in that there are like 10 registers, but it seems like more than one is always down, and sometimes there are two walmart clerks.

  7. Wukchumni

    Trash Girl’ won’t back down: Despite bullies, 12-year-old keeps up anti-litter fight Treehugger

    Twice or three times a year, I do trash pick-up on Hwy 198 leading into Sequoia NP with one or 2 other friends and we’ve been doing it for about a decade now. In some ways it’s a do it yourself post modern anthropological field trip, as we gather every last item carelessly discarded from passing vehicles, and although smokers seem to be going the way of dinosaurs, cigarette butts are by far the commonest item we place into our 40 gallon trash bags-which we’ll go through around 8-10 of, on our mile stretch of road we canvass. The worst offender is the beer bottle that shattered into 284 small bits after being defenestrated due to the risk of a DUI for the driver, which might necessitate 9 minutes to gather up in entirety, scattered akimbo like something you’d see at a plane crash site.

    The biggest risk in not cleaning up somebody else’s mess next to the road, is that it gives license to those drivers that see that others have thoughtlessly tossed trash out the window, and why shouldn’t they?

    The freeways around Los Angeles are festooned with an amazing amount of garbage off to the side-compared to the past, and it seems as if the powers that be there have just given up, and let the litter win.

    1. Croatoan

      Sorry, but what does picking up yeah have to do with helping the environment?

      I say leave the trash on the street, instead of hiding it in a landfill in the poor part of town, so people can see how much we are destroying the planet.

      1. Wukchumni

        In the various homeless encampments i’ve visited, one hallmark to all of them is trash all over the place, as if the inhabitants have given up on any pretense of cleanliness and order. I’m not going there, sorry.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Oddly, I found the same situation in Little India by Journal Square near Jersey City. I’d never see so much garbage just strewn about the street. That said, the food was excellent, with quite a few authentic Indian places to try. Some other areas outside of Little India were somewhat similar in having trash littered about. Other areas had placards in front of buildings regarding keeping the area clean, and were trash free. Interesting contrast.

          1. ambrit

            Now, if only the local Board of Health could track disease outbreaks by neighborhoods, and correlate this with “litter” zones.

        2. Crooatoan

          Most people see the homeless as “litter” that needs to be swept off the street and deposited somewhere out of sight.

          You know, just because a yard in neat and tidy does not mean they are a bunch of “slobs” not different than the homeless. The rich just have the means to have their crap hauled away by the untouchables.

          1. Wukchumni

            In the book Citizen Soldiers by Ambrose, one thing the GI Joes involved noticed in their march to the finish, was how the French and Belgian civilians were slow to respond to cleaning up in the aftermath of fighting which left their streets strewn with wreckage and trash, compared to the German volk, who were johnny on the spot in comparison.

            A cultural thing of then, or does it still apply today?

        3. JTMcPhee

          Maybe you’ve seen this set of wisdoms from the people displaced by an earlier turn of the Great Grinding Wheel of Modernity: The 1889 Hobo Code if Ethics.
          Sleeping rough as the Brits say does not have to be a descent into anomie. I recall some stuff from a course in “The Economics of History” taught by a hippie prof several generations ago, covering the governance and maintenance of Hoovervilles. Many lived in Trash Cities, but some also organized to care for and improve their “communities of necessity.” One might ask how to instill that ethic into all of us, or enough of us to overcome the trash tolerant comfort levels of the rest. I wonder if there were norms in ancient communities about trash scattering and what went into the maddens that archaeologists of today so delight in. Or is it always thus?

        4. Lord Koos

          How many of those homeless camps actually have trash cans or any way for people to dispose of garbage? People in Seattle often complain about the trash in homeless communities, I don’t understand why the city doesn’t just provide some dumpsters for them.

          1. pretzelattack

            they want to make it hard on the homeless so they’ll leave in my opinion. same reason they sometimes shut down public toilets, then of course jail the homeless for using alleys.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      On a recent trip to Tennessee, the girlfriend and I were stunned….stunned at lack of both physical and visual trash! Very, very little garbage on the side of highways such that we started counting. Less than a dozen individual pieces of discard. And very little signage, traffic or adverts.

      Coming back to the Bay Area, our eyes were opened. really is FILTHY here.

      1. Elizabeth

        I’ve also traveled to other cities and the first thing I notice is how clean everything is. Coming back to SF the contrast is startling – the streets, sidewalks – everywhere one walks is filthy. I’ve seen people just drop trash on the sidewalk, in parking lots, and no one blinks an eye. This, in addition to all the syringes and other waste, makes SF the dirtiest place I’ve ever lived.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Some roadsides here in FL looked “picked up.” Sometimes a local business “sponsors” a mile or so and gets naming rights and a logo placement with virtue-signaling message. Often, there are gaggles of local, county and state prisoners, under closer or looser guard, filling those big plastic trash bags, taking the risk of infection from the shards and diapers we mopes “throw away, discard, pitch, toss, flip, flick, dump, etc.” (almost as many words as the Inuit have for “snow”) from the roads.

        Might have something to do with tidy highways in TN?

    3. Oregoncharles

      Citizen trash patrol is an organized thing here, sponsored by the county; if you’re consistent, your group gets a sign on the road. F’rinstance, the local Green Party chapter takes care of a nearby rural road.

      Very sadly, a trash patrol was recently hit by a hit-and-run driver and one of them was killed, a person I knew. He was the local organizer for Move to Amend and general activist. They were wearing orange vests and carrying yellow trash bags, and set out a warning sign.

      So be careful when you’re walking by the road.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re always way cognizant of traffic and what a ton and half of flying metal, plastic & rubber can do to a body more or less standing still.

        When we had a bear invasion of several hundred of them in the fall of 2015, about 10 were killed by cars, as the concept was new to them, having come down from the hills to nosh on acorns.

  8. Ed

    “Star-hop from Orion to Planet 9 ”

    “Planet 9” or “Planet X” has been something of an obsession with astronomers and physicists for centuries, as their theoretical models keep predicting it. Pluto was supposed to be Planet 9. No physical evidence of such a planet has ever turned up, and it makes sense that the Sun is surrounded by four rocky planets, followed by the asteroid belt, followed by four gas giants, followed by the Kuiper (sp?) belt and then the Oort cloud.

    If you read the article, you find that the evidence for “Planet 9” is a theoretical model again. There is now a large telescope orbiting the Earth the presumably could look for it, but it is not mentioned in the story.

  9. Eureka Springs

    The Democratic Party Is Not What You Think

    Terrific article. The oh so familiar phrase around these parts kept ringing in my head as I read.
    The iron law of institutions.

    This passage is one I wish every forth grader through octogenarian would allow to sink-in once and for all.

    That base doesn’t overlap with the activist subculture – it is the activist subculture. There is no distinction. The activist scene exists because the day-to-day activities of the Democratic Party’s fronts bring it into being, providing an anchor for the informal activities and social networks that surround it. To participate in the activist subculture is to join the Democratic Party’s base.

    That doesn’t just go for consciously Democratic liberals. Anarchist affinity groups form out of protest-based social scenes; concretely, they need protests in which to operate, and large protests only happen when the Democratic Party uses its fronts to mobilize people. The anarchist scene emerges from the Democratic base and relies on the Democrats’ institutional infrastructure.

    And I’m sorry Jerri-Lynn, but as the article makes so clear anyone who so much as ever tried to work within the D party for change might as well step into a wood-chipper. If they learned anything Bernie peeps should have learned this. Black Lives Matter too. Much more so if working outside (anti-nuke, anti-war, OWS in my case over the years) everyone knows you cannot escape the Dem institution.

    The article doesn’t touch on the extreme difficulties outside activists have in merely setting up legal/financial structure. Even Yves explored that pre Skunk and basically said forget about it. In one of my OWS groups we had extremely well educated highly successful business people look into organizing finances and said the same.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Eye-opening…and depressing as hell. Everyone I know is so pumped about the Women’s Marches wherever they participated (NC, Chicago, Eugene), it’s a shame to think the energy generated is doomed to be coopted.

      Just speaks though to the DSA activities (fixing tail lights, etc) Lambert has been highlighting.

      1. Bill

        co-opting–the operational word. that’s why I hate to give them ideas for ways to “rebrand”…I want to just throw them in the dumpster and start over.

      2. witters

        What kind of energy is it? A certain limited kinetic energy? What would it do if “un co-opted”? And why isn’t there the energy to resist co-option?

    2. oh

      I know that at least in one effort we worked on (part of move to amend), the DimRats waltzed in and took over the effort to take credit but nothing really was achieved by them for the cause. It was all for their headlines and their glory. I’ve had enough of the two crooked parties.

  10. perpetualWAR

    What Not to Wear….to Court

    After I learned how corrupt our court system is, I changed my clothing. Once, I wore clothing that conveyed respect. But, my traverses through corrupt courtrooms changed my white shirt and jacket to a t-shirt that said “Let Them Eat Cake.” I thought that more appropriate and deserving.

    Respect is earned. Or unlearned.

  11. Tracie Hall

    Re: The Dying Art of a Decent Pen . . .I’ve worked with calligraphy pens, and while I love how they write–you can’t help but form fancy letters even if you’ve never learned the art of calligraphy–I found them a bit messy, and the tip too flat for everyday use. . .but fountain pens, while using the same capillary action as calligraphy pens (as opposed to friction), are different; pointed tips, and generally they hold more ink–water based, which doesn’t clog the thinner ink channels.
    Amazingly, I only learned that a couple of months ago, upon observing a colleague with a fountain pen, who, when questioned, admitted he paid a good sum for it. Upon more pointed interrogation, he would only admit to its being “less than $100.00”.
    It’s not unknown for me to leave all kinds of belongings in my wake, having to travel MANY anxious miles to retrieve them, so I hyper-ventilated/panicked at the mere thought of spending that much on a pen. He explained that he keeps his on his person when he’s not writing with it and has developed the art of “just say[ing] no”.
    He told me about an annual Pen conference on President’s Day in Manhattan Beach, California (, which I plan to attend, but meanwhile, after reading up on fountain pens, I’ve invested in a $35.00 ultra fine point Lamy Safari pen. (As a German brand, apparently, it’s point is slightly broader than a Japanese brand with the same designation, so that my ultra fine point is probably a fine point in a Japanese pen–I went with ultra-fine after reading that the tinier one writes the finer a point they’ll need to keep the space in the top of an “e” from filling in.)
    It’s true, what my colleague told me, and what I read; fountain pens are just more fun! Not having written a letter in decades, I found myself, a couple of weeks ago, doing just that, to a dear friend who lives in another state, and (woo-hoo!) she reciprocated–not with a fountain pen, but with pen and paper! She’s so artistic it was heartwarming to once again (we wrote each other in the 60’s and 70’s as kids) see her beautiful handwriting. Now, I’m all excited to respond to her response, and struggling to think who else I can write who won’t think it’s totally weird to get a handwritten letter, when I could have just e-mailed.
    Fountain pens rule!!!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have a couple of fountain pens I haven’t used in decades. Now, I plan to get some ink (hopefully can source it locally) and use them.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Space odysseys

    I’ll start off by saying that I am a firm believer in the value of space exploration. Heck, I even have the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon” (disclaimer – favourite episode was “Galileo Was Right”) on my shelf. I think though that we should acknowledge the fact that when it came time to go into space, that as a civilization we screwed it up and badly. I’ll explain. The classic way for a planet to go into space was what was depicted in some 1950s scifi films. That is, you first build a space station in orbit that has the capability for construction.
    When it is finished you now have an orbital space dock. You send up equipment for space ships and assemble them in orbit. When finished, you shape an orbit for the Moon, Mars, Venus, wherever. You do not need boosters to lift you up into orbit nor do the ships need to be aerodynamic in design. You could build a fleet of exploration vessels, both manned and unmanned. In looking for a depicted example, I stumbled on a 1957 Russian film at as well as a talk on the subject by Von Braun back in 1956 at
    What we got instead was the propaganda effort to put a man on the moon by the end of the sixties. Everything became subordinate to that effort including the design philosophy. Instead of a reusable design we opted for a quick and dirty way to get to the moon that threw away most of the Saturn V rocket. When it was all over, all we had in the way of space infrastructure was a coupla concrete pads and towers. From that low point we had to start all over again, first with the Space Shuttle and then the present Space Station which appears to have no capability of assembling other ships in orbit. Economists may decry the cost but in the long run, it pays for itself. The $30 billion sunk into Apollo more than paid for itself in the resulting research and technological developments. Research always pays in the long run.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Apollo more than paid for itself? Whose pockets did that repayment go into?

      Here’s an economistical review that comes to us from the usual economistical viewpoint, the wonders of “GNP” and “growth of headquarters cities and high-tech industries” and “the unarguable benefits of technological change,” and marvelous new ways to gin up consumption of Moar Stuff but Really Cool Stuff No Doubt: “The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Space Program,” Lots of the inputs generated by corps like Rockwell using “taxpayer money” to generate studies “demonstrating the benefits…”

      Still no jet cars for the masses, or George Jetson Jawbs that involve a Really Comfortable Middle Class Wage for pushing one button every so often. But really efficient ballistic missiles, and hypersonic atmospheric bomb delivery systems, and whizzing clouds of ever more “competent” satellites bristling with sensors and jamming devices and links to the vast cyberwarfare commands of many nations, and in many cases loaded with ‘sophisticated and increasingly autonomous weapons systems,’ and of course part and parcel of the long weaponization-of-everything in the pursuit of “security and hegemony.” And encouragement for what I see as the worst of us, the Thiels and Bezoses and such, and their dreams of interplanetary immortality for their kind. Universal concrete material benefits? not so much, maybe,,, marginal gains for some of us, massive gains for very few of us, like all the other initiatives and vectors and incentives that principally drive the world political economy…

      But I’m being silly: Everybody knows how wonderful the whole Big Tech thing is, and the NASA Space Race was an integral part of the Great Accelerating Leap of Indubitable Wonderful Human Progress (for some definition of “progress”) over the last couple of centuries…

          1. ambrit

            Sophont McPhee;
            So, this is an Anti Arete argument, eh?
            (I once had a motorcycle that sounded; “Za za za zennnnn!”)
            Zen Zen Gabor, the immanent Gabor sistyer.
            I could go on, but, what’s the point?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Just one invention analyzed in one of my textbooks from the 1970s — the heart pacemaker — resulted from the technologies developed in the space race. Just aggregating the $$$ value of the extension of life in terms of earning potential and ignore the intrinsic value of those added years and it starts to pay for the space race [sorry I have neither the reference nor a link]. Now consider microchips and the technology they enabled.

        As for your contention “Whose pockets?” that’s really beside the point that Apollo more than paid for itself. Your observations about the transfer of research benefits into private corporate hands fits much of the basic research the public pays for. And your assertion that many of the benefits of the race-to-the-moon were realized in terms of military systems seems plain to my eye. I believe it could be argued that the Apollo program served chiefly political propaganda and military strategy while developing and transferring new technology and an influx of money into Corporate hands. Unfortunately spending for ‘defense’ seems to be the only spending those-who-rule-us feel comfortable with other than the numerous programs of more direct corporate welfare and wealth transfers to the wealthy. And too many of the improvements to our lives — medical and material have come from spending preparing for and executing warfare and destruction. So I cannot argue with your assertions that many of the “profits” of from the race-to-the-moon went into other hands than those of the people. Even so — I believe there was positive benefit financial and intrinsic for the lives of common people exceeding the costs of the race-to-the-moon. It is more difficult to address your assertions that the advances of technology have changed our way of life to the detriment. The “weaponization-of-everything in the pursuit of ‘security and hegemony’ seems an apt epithet for our present society.

        The race-to-the-moon had other unintended effects which may or may not be regarded as benefits. I was in my teens when man walked on the moon. I was deeply impressed by the potential that accomplishment promised — often captured in a meme from that time — “We can put man on the moon so why can’t we X”. And even as a teenager I was very disappointed at the way the U.S. government insisted on planting an American flag on the moon. The U.S. taxpayer may have paid for the effort but the race-to-the-moon was accomplished by teams assembled of the brightest and best — truly brightest and best — composed of people from all nations. Putting man on the moon was a human effort showing what we could do when we worked together toward a goal — even a goal as impossible as a race-to-the-moon. When I went to college in 1970s the inspiration it created in the previous generation was so strong it still seeped from the walls of the my school perfuming the air of musty libraries and lecture halls and classrooms. Another effect I noticed was the large number of truly excellent texts and monographs developed during the space race years along with the money spent putting those books into our school library — and into the Corporate libraries at the Defense contractors who built the space vehicles.

        Today most if not all of the Corporate libraries are shuttered and the inspiration engendered by the race-to-the-moon now leaves a most bitter taste of an opportunity lost. This was captured for me at the tail end of one of the movies documenting the race-to-the-moon [don’t remember which]. The movie commented toward its end that the pink slips were already going out to the engineers and technicians celebrating as the LEM vehicle cruised around on the moon.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The race-to-the-moon — a great hubris — was rewarded with success and promised so much more in future pursuits. But that success was discarded.

          I think that makes an interesting twist to the definition of Tragedy.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If it’s still debatable today, I imagine it should have been even more debatable then.

            And it is one defining feature of humans – we will do something, on a vast scale, when we are not all that sure of the consequences.

            (Hopefully, those jet cars at least use sustainable energy).

            1. Summer

              “And it is one defining feature of humans – we will do something, on a vast scale, when we are not all that sure of the consequences.”

              It’s a good mix about not giving a damn about the consequences for most people and being sure enough that the short term profit will benefit the usual suspects.

      2. oh

        My automatic coffee maker came out of the spending for the space race. Such a deal for billions wasted! Of course we all know the race to the moon was to build ABM’s ICBM, and put snooper satellites into orbit. And new fangled space weapons. Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.

  13. upstater

    re “What Not To Wear…To Court ”

    Inappropriate clothing is an appropriate reason for having a person denied entry to the courtroom.

    From personal experience, my daughter and her supervisor were killed by a drunk driver going at highway speed in a parking lot during daylight.

    At the trial of the killer, his family laughed at certain point of testimony. On the second day of the trial, a female cousin came in with a shirt with big block letter “Hit and Run”. She was asked to leave.

    I personally could care less if some idiot is stupid enough to come to court dressed for bed, exercise or insult and is ejected. They should be.

    There is nothing wrong with common sense and decorum; some people have none.

    1. integer

      I am sorry for your loss, and that you had to put up with the family of the driver adding insult to injury during the trial.

  14. QuarterBack

    Re Amazon checkout-free stores, I’m waiting for TheOnion (or maybe real life) to publish stories about robots shoplifting from these same stores.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do we make a shoplifting robot

      1. do time in prison
      2. download a correction software?

        1. ambrit

          A robot ‘community,’ as in “The Collective?”
          As in; Hillaries favourite “pick up line:” an Arkansas chain gang in her yard.

  15. DJG

    Sorry, Tammy Duckworth, and the kayfabe being reported by our English cousins: Duckworth is trading on her war experience, very much as John McCain has traded on and worn out the moral authority he may have had after being a prisoner of war. Given Duckworth’s rather spotty résumé, she is being given credit for more seriousness than she has. She was particularly lucky in her opponent, the thoroughly incompetent Mark Kirk (who also made much of his service in the Army).

    A few days back it was reported here at Naked Capitalism that a bunch of Democrats had voted for FISA reauthorization. Among them, woman warrior Duckworth. (Although we are all warriors now, sheesh!) So what is it about the Fourth Amendment that Tammy Duckworth doesn’t like? And just how many points does the Democratic Establishment think that it is scoring by trotting out a disabled vet from some imaginary political center?

    1. oh

      The brainwashing during her tenure in the forces did not go to waste. She will vote for any program that is supposedly there to protect us.

  16. Wukchumni

    Why does the UK have so many accents? The Conversation

    When I was a kid, our next door neighbor’s relatives from Texas would come on vacation for a week or 2 every year, and I remember not being able to comprehend about every 5th word my 9 year old Lone Star state contemporary uttered, the accent and drawl being so thick.

    It’s not nearly the same now, as we seemed to have morphed into a 1 size fits all accent, but there are still interesting regional ways of talking.

    Please take this NYT test, and see how close you come to being identified as to your regional dialect. They placed me in Sacramento, based upon my answers…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I once read that Hawaiians and others in the Pacific Ocean originally came from Taiwan, because on that island, more diverse linguistic versions are spoken.

      And in Africa, there are more diverse human genes than everywhere else.

      It seems to always point to the original place, the source.

      So, maybe, we can deduce that while China may have one or a few versions of neoliberalism, in the West, there are a lot more variations.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      They placed me in Grand Rapids, MI and Aurora & Rockford, IL. Never lived in these exact cities, but spent my childhood in Michigan, my adolescence in the Chicago burbs, and my adulthood in the city.

      But I consciously excluded some things I have picked up, most notably y’all.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It helps to track down suspects.

        “Based on the accent, we think he/she spent many years on Wall Street, New York.”

        From the “India will install cameras in classrooms’ link:

        Government members have also proposed adding CCTV cameras to hospitals to monitor activity.

        Critics have called India’s increased surveillance measures “dystopian” and have said that the CCTV programs in schools facilitate the creation of a “surveillance state” in India.

        I can cameras in nursing homes. When one is hardly mobile at that age, there isn’t much privacy to think about.

        But cameras in public bathrooms or showers (where many smelly deeds occur)?

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          I was placed in three possible areas – Minnesota, NYC & Providence – which is I think interesting, as I am an Englishman.

    3. Jim Haygood

      This map covers cultural regions of North America. Not exactly the same as dialect regions, but they do overlap:

      Two kinds of folks: some faithfully reproduce the dialect of their native region no matter where they end up; others adapt to new locations within a few months to attract little attention except on certain giveaway words whose pronunciation is hard to master — if you grew up saying ‘awl,’ for example, articulating ‘oil’ almost calls for a mechanical prosthesis to twist the lips and tongue into the required shapes.

    4. RMO

      Being Canadian I’ve long been intrigued by how little variation there is in English language accent across the country. Newfoundland stands out but other than that everything seems remarkably homogeneous. There are a few variations in words but even those seem to be falling away – for example here on the west coast we still have a few words from the Chinook trade language in use but it seems like they are disappearing from currency among people born later than the 70’s. There are certainly a lot of first generation immigrants from non-English countries to vary the sound of spoken English but their children don’t keep any noticeable trace of that – just as my Dad didn’t have a trace of his parents Russian and Ukranian accents. I remember talking with a linguist years ago who jokingly said that everyone in Canada sounds like Lorne Green. He postulated that much of Canada’s population growth occurred recently enough for radio to be commonplace so almost everyone ended up sounding like the voice of the CBC:-)

      1. wilroncanada

        There are lots of variations in Canadian English, if you don’t listen to only CBC (I listen to mostly CBC), if you travel to many parts of the country, going into many towns, not just the major cities, and if you try to have conversations with people from a variety of socio/economic backgrounds.

        We lived in Nova Scotia for 10 years, and could hear, in the Annapolis Valley, people from the South Shore, from Cape Breton, and from The Valley west and east. They often had distinctive accents, and used unique words and phrases from their original homes. In New Brunswick people from St John don’t sound like people from the north end of the St John Valley. There is also the Franco-English ‘joual’. The same applies to Ontario, to the prairies, and to British Columbia.

        Land in someone’s ‘dooryard’ and they’ll maybe tell you ‘where you’re at’ and how to get to ‘where you’re to.’

        1. Wukchumni

          My Calgary aunts always sounded like the munchkins from Wizard of Oz to me when I was a kid, and some of the words such as chesterfield-for a sofa, were really interesting.

    5. Oregoncharles

      There’s a young woman working at the Co-op, our corner store, who is from Mississippi. Now, THAT’s an accent. An English employe said he had trouble understanding her. She’s also 6 feet tall, so very noticeable indeed.

      OTOH, I just met a brother and sister from Tennessee; no noticeable accent. So it’s possible to grow up in the South without acquiring the accent.

    6. The Rev Kev

      Back in WW2 American accents were far more pronounced and regional. Thus you would have large groups in units with Boston accents, Bronx accents, Californian accents, deep southern drawls, Texas accents, etc. Watch very old movies to see what I mean.
      In the early day of the Pacific War the American commanders were against having mixed crews of Americans and Australia/New Zealanders on the ground that the Americans may not be able to understand the Australasian accents. Hilarious that.

    7. Angie Neer

      The quiz made me realize how some of my vocabulary has broadened over the 30 years since I moved from east coast to west. But when I gave the answers that I grew up with, it placed me accurately. I don’t have the patience to do it again with west coast answers.

      When I was assigned college roommates, one of them had grown up in Texas, but had no accent that I could detect. He was black, and said his parents did not want him speaking like (pardon my french) white trash.

      I have had to learn to overcome my own prejudices about U.S. regional accents, and I’m now sorry that they’re being homogenized away.

  17. EoH

    The NYMag piece on Greenwald is faux friendly indeed. The derogatory framing and details – and the absurd title – reveal more about van Zuylen-Wood than Greenwald.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Completely agree: its tone is condescending and dismissive, plus he slips in plenty of disguised ad hominems re GG’s lifestyle, personality, etc.


  18. JohnnyGL

    Did a “generic ballot” check today and Trump job approval check today.

    I may be out over my skis on this, but I think it may be worth asking if the Dems have ALREADY screwed up their chances for taking 1 or both houses in 2018. The tax cuts might give the Repubs a small, additional bump (or maybe a reversal if expectations are inflated).

    1. Wukchumni

      I only wish I could get over my skis, as there is scant snowpack in the High Sierra now, and mostly it’s just camouflaging rocks.

      1. wilroncanada

        We just had more than 100 cms on Sunday at Mt Washington, Vancouver Island. the highway up the mountain and the ski resort itself were both closed for most of the day.
        Before the past week, the snowpack on Vancouver Island mountains had been below normal–a cold snap with no snow for almost three weeks (cold for here), followed by lots of rain but very warm temps. The forecast for the next week is at least another 100 cms.

  19. Duck1

    RE: Washington was about to explode
    I have this alternate history that plays in my head occasionally: Clinton resigns and Gore serves out term and re-elected handily to two terms. 911 plot is foiled or doesn’t gel, no ME adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Clinton is popular but discredited, so the Clintons cannot dominate democratic politics. Whoever follows Gore doesn’t inherit wars and police state powers, so that a kinder gentler empire evolves that actually deals with things like global warming and inequality.
    I know, send me to the looney bin.

    1. Wukchumni

      What if lieu of Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton does the dirty with somebody that looks more akin to Stormy Daniels?

      1. ambrit

        He did, on an irregular basis. Most of his life.
        And, what if Monica wore a white dress?
        What if Gore had fought the 2000 election “out in the streets?”
        What if der Furher had stopped at Czechoslovakia?
        History is not full of “what ifs.” It is what it is.

        1. Wukchumni

          Yep, what if’s.

          That said, have you noticed how little grief the reign of error has received from his 1/8th of a million dollar dalliance with Daniels, compared to the outpouring of shame directed @ Bill Clinton?

          Looks do matter.

          1. ambrit

            I think that methodology comes into play here.
            Clintons’ inamorata were seemingly “lower” class, somewhat powerless women. Mz. Daniels is, at least in theory, more formidable due to her “notoriety” and, er, degree of public exposure.
            Bill Clinton was caught taking advantage of a young woman. She worked for him, and, supposedly, held him in high regard. Trump however, (I’m playing Devils’ Advocate here,) was dealing with a professional courtesan. How professional? She made a nice payday by agreeing to remain silent. Did Mz Lewinsky try to blackmail Clinton? I believe the record shows that she had to be coaxed and pushed into “outing” herself.
            So, looks do matter. Not just the ‘looks’ of the actors in our sordid psychodramas, but the ‘looks’ of the situations themselves.

            1. Rhondda

              I can’t believe I’m chick-splaining porn here, but Stormy Daniels isn’t just a pretty face and curvy bod — she’s an entrepreneur, live performer, actress, screenwriter, and director of erotic films. Pretty formidable in her own right, imho.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Trump was doing just what we’d expect of him, including his supporters.

            Slick Willy, OTOH, claimed to be a normal, liberal politician, happily married and all that.

            I think it’s the look of the men, not the women.

        2. Tom Bradford

          Of course Quantum Theory or something speculates that every possible ‘if’ generates a universe in which it actually happened. So in another universe somewhere I found the courage to ask Samantha Bennet for a dance and she said yes.

    2. Marianne

      I’ve believed that Clinton should have resigned in 1998 as a gentleman, and that history would have transpired more or less as you’ve said. I’ll join you in that booby hatch.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Nixon left the White House on a helicopter when he resigned. What would Clinton go out on? The Lolita Express?

    3. Eureka Springs

      Gore was a DLC establishment Dem as much as anyone. And Vice President Lieber-Cheney would have done anything and everything for more war, including subverting pushover Gore in any way imaginable if need be. The closest I ever saw Gore come to bucking the system is when his radical wife refused to dance with demons imagined while listening to records play backwards with Lieberman.

      We would have had some sort of ponzi-scheming derivation of energy credit swaps to make NPR listeners feel better about the environment for a few years and then Pres McCain or Romney. Obama (student of Lieberman) would be Cory Booker before Cory Booker.

    4. Sid Finster

      What makes you think that 9/11 would be foiled or not gel because Team D?

      If for some reason 9/11 were not to have happened, we’d go down the same road of Middle Eastern adventurism, just as soon as the next terrorist attack hit. And surely, it would.

      And it would not matter whether Team R or Team D was int eh White House when that happened. The only difference between a Team D and a Team R administration would be some incrementalism around issues of identity politics.

    5. voteforno6

      Gore would’ve been able to only run for election once, if Clinton had resigned prior to January 20, 1999.

      1. Duck1

        My imagination informs me that he would have resigned on February 13, 1999 after the Senate vote, as a healing gesture, and basically withdrawn from politics like Nixon, which stymied the ambitions of HRC.

    6. NotTimothyGeithner

      Concerning the hypothetical foiling of the 9/11 plot:

      RIchard Clarke before he seemingly disappeared from the msm accused the CIA of illegal actions of not informing the FBI of the presence of Al Qaeda members in the U.S. Unless Shrub was involved in this accused operation, its unlikely Gore would have acted in any way differently. Given Gore’s other problems, its unlikely the morning briefing would have produced tangible actions from him.

      The other issue is a pet peeve of mine, but it should be noted no President, not one except maybe a system where the President is drawn by lottery, has ever inherited the consequences of policy decisions of a previous President. Obama chose to be President. He ran against a juggernaut in the Clinton campaign to claim the White House. He’s an adult. He can be held accountable.

    7. WheresOurTeddy

      The last Democrat elected to succeed a Democratic president was James Buchanan over 150 years ago unless you count Harry Truman. And Bill Clinton was no FDR.

      And what would Gore have done to stop 9/11 exactly?

      I understand wish thinking and wanting a better timeline but I don’t follow your series of events likelihood of possibility.

    1. John k

      It’s a simple question:
      Would Bernie try to do things that would be good for me? Would he succeed?
      Would Oprah…

      Granted, the southern firewall held firm… but maybe there’s been regrets…

      1. JohnnyGL

        MLTPB and John k,

        A 2020 Bernie will have 2 things going that he didn’t in 2016.

        1) Much more name recognition, and the poll bears this out. The other dem hopefuls have a lot of work to do to build up their name recognition.

        2) The preferred media narrative that ‘centrist dems’ are the safe choice has been blown apart and probably can’t be restored.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          3. The inevitability argument.

          One argument for Hillary was to vote for her to switch gears to the general since she is going to win anyway. The Super delegates will never be so united either. They won’t vote for Bernie because they are largely horrid people, but without fear of Hillary, unity will elude them.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            The superdelegates exist specifically to make sure a Sanders-type insurgency never happens.

            They chalk it up to getting landslided with McGovern ’72 and Mondale ’84 but people here are smart enough to follow the money.

  20. PKMKII

    On the gender biases in kid’s books: My toddler’s favorite book series is the Otter books by Sam Garton. Now, both some of the books and materials outside the books make it clear that Otter is female. Yet, without fail, I’ve observed that anyone encountering it for the first time assumes Otter is male and refers to him as such. I’ve even seen them reach the page where Otter is wearing a dress, and sooner assume it’s a gender-bending thing than that she’s female.

    1. ewmayer

      Maybe it’s the whiskerfacedness of the species? (Though cats & dogs don’t seem to suffer from the same gender-assumption-biasing you mention.)

  21. JEHR

    Re: Bears eating ice cream: I am sorry to report that Canadians can be as stupid as this. Our wildlife deserves better than we Canadians can provide.

    1. Wukchumni

      For about 25 years in Sequoia NP from 1915 to 1940, there was a place called ‘Bear Hill’ which had grandstands with gaps between, that allowed the bruins to walk in between and go towards the middle, where all of the leftover uneaten food from the restaurant would be placed on the ground, and tourists were guaranteed to see a bear pretty much.

      A visual:

      Fast forward to today, and ‘garbage bears’ many generations after, remain a constant problem in the Giant Forest area near where Bear Hill was in Sequoia NP, as they learned that our food is a lot tastier than grubs, insects, nuts and their usual diet.

      Interesting enough, the area where our cabin is at in Mineral King far from Bear Hill has no such issues with bears breaking into cars or cabins for food, as the beasties were always discouraged from partaking in foodstuffs there.

    2. ambrit

      Well. As Mr Becqnell (sic) of Naw’lins could explicate, let the Quebec city fathers send a deputation on down the Mighty Mississip to the Crescent City to find out how “wildlife” can be better ‘provided’ for. If a somewhat more sedate experience were desired, I am sure that Mr Zelnicker of Mobile would be gracious enough to accommodate their wishes.

    3. Kevin

      of course, here in the States we save money on the ice cream by shooting them while they are asleep in their dens.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s thought that a good many black bears died in their dens the past few years in the southern Sierra Nevada, the drought & the huuuuge snow year doing them in.

        I’ve seen around a thousand bears in the wild, and the most in any given year was about 60, and 2 years ago my total was 3, and for 2017, I managed to glimpse 6.

  22. marym

    Immigration proposals

    House immigration bill (Goodlatte bill)

    This bill does nothing for Dreamers, though it purports to:

    The House GOP demands in exchange for DACA an endless list of extreme demands but the worst part is that their bill isn’t even a real solution for Dreamers. Its provisions show the GOP isn’t willing to accept them as Americans, at most just criminals on parole…

    [detailed description of exclusions and restrictions]

    In summary, I would guess that no more than 10% of Dreamers would even be eligible for status under the GOP DACA bill. Probably half of all DACA recipients would be unable to apply

    The status offered is worse than “second class”—it’s closer to being a criminal on parole, complete with fines, reporting, and constant background checks. This bill is not a real fix for Dreamers…

    The bill would also end family-based migration and the visa diversity lottery.

    Supposedly this bill has no chance of passing in the Senate. For any reasons of humanity, decency, diversity…or just because it includes e-verify? Who can say?

    Graham-Durbin compromise

    ….a DACA fix, a wall, restrictions on “chain migration,” and an end to the diversity visa lottery program.

    For the most part, though, the proposal finds the least disruptive way possible to satisfy those demands. It eliminates the “lottery” part of the diversity visa lottery but retaining some support for the “diversity” part. It gives access to legal status and green cards to DACA recipients (and those who would have qualified for the program) and to immigrants who are facing the loss of their Temporary Protected Status under the Trump administration. And it limits “chain migration” only for parents of DREAMers legalized under the bill — not by slashing family-based immigration more broadly.

    Young unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children would get legal status — and eventual citizenship.

    Schumer offer
    I don’t know if other aspects of a “compromise” were in play, but Schumer appears to have offered funding for the wall.

    Whether Senate Republicans will allow a vote on a “compromise” proposal is currently in question – thus the shutdown.

    The shutdown question of the moment appears to be whether Dems will cave to a meaningless intent-to-do-something-or-other from Mitch.

    In the House, where a compromise is seen as having enough bi-partisan votes to pass, Ryan is seen as likely not to bring it to a vote, with the excuse of the so-called Hastert “rule” (not bringing to a vote any bill that doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes).

    The move toward the whitening of the US continues. Dangerous times, no matter whether one believes some constraints on immigration are needed for non-ethnic-cleansing reasons.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Trump unilaterally set the clock ticking on Dreamers on Sep 5th last year, with a six-month deadline for Congress to act. After that, work permits start expiring, and deportations could begin.

        Yet the R party’s disingenuous stance — with less than seven weeks left — is that DACA is an “unrelated immigration issue.” They know that a hands-off approach lacking a hard deadline will let the train run off the track, and they don’t care.

        Trump is the guy who picked this fight. Time for him to man up and climb into the ring, instead of playing the uninvolved bystander. A more pointed political dialogue aimed at outing Trump’s aryan-tinged, europhile cryptoracism seems in order. Let’s rumble.

        1. integer

          I guess one good thing about being a libertarian, is that one can opportunistically ally with either the D or R party when their policies have the effect of increasing one’s “liberty”.

          Speaking hypothetically, of course.

    1. Jim Haygood

      12:45 p.m.: the Senate has enough votes to move forward on a plan to end the government shutdown, after Democrats accepted a GOP pledge to hold a vote on immigration legislation in the coming weeks.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Likely they offer younger, Bernie-like (pre-election) options who will then, post-election, explain why it’s so difficult to fulfill promises in DC.

          1. JohnnyGL

            You betcha….and the non-Bernie dem voters will be characterized as the “adults in the room”, unlike the pie-in-the-sky Bernie voters who are just so impractical!

        2. marym

          Per reporters on twitter – at WH today to talk immigration:

          Cotton, Cornyn, Grassley, Lankford, Perdue, Tillis (Klein ABC)

          Manchin and Jones (Jacobs Guardian; Miller AP)

          Welcome to the #Resistance to the #Resistance Doug…….

          This doesn’t bode well.

          1. allan

            Arkansas, Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Alabama.
            More or less the Confederate States of America plus a fracking play,
            a land-locked opioid crisis and the home of Big Ethanol/Big Slaughterhouse.

            The Dems remind us once again that the “or” in Stupid or evil? is nonexclusive.

  23. none

    Never understood about fountain pens. I’ve always found them very hard to write with, plus they get ink all over the place unless you’re careful. I do sometimes make outlines and notes by longhand before drafting on a computer, but use ballpoint or felt-tip pens. Not so-called rolling balls if I can help it though.

    1. JohnnyGL

      36 min in, Harvey suggests that Russia and China briefly considered a coordinated plan to sell off Fannie and Freddie bonds to ‘crash’ the US economy but veered away because China didn’t want to disrupt the big customer they’ve spend years cultivating.

      Very frustrating in its wrong-headedness. Harvey doesn’t think it through enough and Scahill doesn’t press the issue. Any move like that would quickly boomerang back at them via a rising currency (assuming they bought non-usd assets).

      And that’s without even thinking through the MMT understanding that’s missing. The Fed could easily gobble up the bonds in a QE program without even breaking a sweat. Assuming others wouldn’t step in before them, which they likely would.

      In any case, Fannie and Freddie were taken into receivership and the bonds were backed by the full faith and credit of the Treasury, so Russia and China would have probably taken some losses if they sold at the bottom to attempt to induce a bigger crisis.

      This would have been barely a ripple in the 2008-9 story.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Thinking about this a bit more, if markets saw Russia and China liquidating foreign reserves in a hurry, it may have accelerated capital flight from those countries and cause liquidity issues for their own banks. You could easily see a scenario where the IMF or even the Fed had to step in with USD swap lines, like they did for the ECB.

        Also, where would Harvey suggest Russia and China might bury their foreign reserves? Japan and the EU don’t want the capital inflows, or the rising currency. Both central banks have punished their bond holders with negative interest rates. Nothing screams “GTFO of my currency like taking a little bit of it each month.”

        This may seem like nitpicking at a side comment that isn’t central to Harvey’s discussion, but I think it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of exactly who has a grasp of the commanding heights of the global economy. It’s not China and Russia. Those countries may be rising powers for various reasons, but they’re not top dogs and they both know it.

      2. Wukchumni

        I find it funny that having sold my Fannie Mae stock in 2007 in the high 50’s, and despite the real estate bubble coming roaring back, it’s worth a princely $2.14 a share now, about 1/30th of what I sold it for.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Pre-crisis, I think they allowed those entities to really lever up to juice ROE and pay fat dividends. Not so much these days.

  24. JEHR

    I am deeply sorry to say that one of Canada’s cities is on the list of 20 for Amazon. “The more you have; the more you get.” The more money you have, the more money you make.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s worse than you know…

      I have it on good authority that Baskin & Robbins stores up over in the Gulag Hockeypelago are now using trained bears to scoop out ice cream and serve it to their customers, leaving former human employees no option but to watch curling matches whilst gorging themselves on poutine, in lieu of having a job.

      1. newcatty

        Yeah… Tucson lucked out. It was embarrassing to read that a sahuaro cactus was sent to Amazonia from the City. Wow! Now that is amazing and original marketing. Now, I love the cacti and want them to live well and long in the open space desert and in their parks. We left Tucson after many years of living there and are glad it was not chosen to be cursed by Amazon. Tucson has shortcomings, but it also has its positives… like the Loft theater and the food co-op and… We are up north now. Traded huuuge cacti and Palo Verde trees for pines and juniper. Hey, it snowed a couple of inches yesterday! Beautiful. I miss the vivid sunsets, but now see lots of rainbows. It is more of a watercolor world here.

        1. Mike Mc

          Flagstaff? Or further north?

          Grew up in southern Nevada and lived in Phoenix metro for some years in the late 1970s… however a year working at Grand Canyon NP changed me in a mountain lover.

          Flag much larger now, and the Southwest is drier too but my feet still get itchy (hiding out in the Midwest for family/work reason, but retirement beckons…).

  25. Bill

    one thing I noticed right off the bat at the magical Amazon Go Store–packaging, packaging and more packaging. Everything is in a package. No bulk items or loose fruits and veg. Not a step forward for the landfill

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are they no smart enough to offer Holographic Market where one can shop at home, with voice control (or more impressively, mind reading) from a projection of the nearest local store, that will drone-deliver the order?

      I mean, talk about outdated.

      1. Bill

        or get everyone to buy a 3-D type printer to print everything in their catalog out of thin air, or, you know, like beaming molecules in, like Star Trek.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I notice that in many sci fi movies, that racial (or gender) progress, from the year the film is made, to the year depicted in the film (usually several hundred years) is often less than that from 1950 to the film year (a few decades).

          That makes me (and many viewers, I assume) wonder if it’s all just a failure to imagine.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Interesting question that. Sometimes it is a failure to imagine and others it is a leap in imagination. Take Star Trek. The 60s crew had a woman Communications Officer, an alien, an Asian and a Russian (during the 1st Cold War). That freaked a lot of WASPs out at the time but the rest of America dug it. That series even had the first inter-racial kiss on TV. During the Reagan years, there was a retreat so the Asian guy was no longer Asian but someone from San Francisco (of course he was).
            The 1990s Star Trek TNG version had the black person move up to chief Engineer and some more exotic additions. Later there was Star Trek DS-9 in which the Commander of the Station was a black guy. There had been others shown over the years but this guy was the lead in this series. Soon after you had Star Trek Voyager in which not only was the Captain a woman but also the Chief Engineer who were both strong characters.
            Things do change. When I was growing up a women would be screaming and going into hysterics in scifi films (ugh) so it was great to watch in the first Star Wars film how the Princess actually grabbed a blaster and started shooting her way out of a trap. This was new at the time. It opened up roles like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley (from Alien and originally written for a man) and of course we have gone on from there so I guess that you can say that it is a bit of back and forth.

          2. Wukchumni

            Hope you’ve seen Forbidden Planet, by a country mile, the best space sci-fi movie of the 1950’s.

            1. Angie Neer

              Yes, that’s a ground-breaking movie, but certainly not when it comes to gender roles! The one woman in it is allowed to be intelligent, but otherwise is a pretty prop for the men to fight over.

                1. They Rev Kev

                  They could remake that film to fix that but you know that Hollywood would stuff it up. It would be all filmed in hues of greys and oranges and the film would be really dark in how it would play out. Probably too they would put brothers in there somewhere. If it really got bad, they would bring in George Lucas or Steven Spielberg to make it.
                  If any are off put by that last sentence, may I remind commentators that when they made the first Harry Potter film that Spielberg was brought in to make it and he was going to make it as a cartoon film for a quick buck. And that he was going to have the I-See-Dead-People kid play Harry Potter. Luckily J. K. Rowling said no way so he left the project. That’s Hollywood.

            2. ambrit

              I love it that the earthlings show up in a flying saucer!
              We’re living through our own ‘Monsters From The Id’ phase right now.

  26. tommy strange

    Wow, Dem Party is not what you think, starts out good, and seems thoughtful but those two lines about american anarchists are about the farthest from the truth you can get. I can’t imagine that writer has ever even read social movement, marxist and anarchist of the past 150 years!
    “That doesn’t just go for consciously Democratic liberals. Anarchist affinity groups form out of protest-based social scenes; concretely, they need protests in which to operate, and large protests only happen when the Democratic Party uses its fronts to mobilize people. The anarchist scene emerges from the Democratic base and relies on the Democrats’ institutional infrastructure.” Whew. I mean Seattle shut down was from the dem base? Housing occupation and tenants’ rights groups (usually started by anarchists since the late 70’s to present or symps) against democratic NGO’s and dem adminstrations? Occupy, that wouldn’t for the most part in large cities, even allow a dem politiican to talk?….I mean..then just start marching back in time to the IWW, haymarket etc…. What a really odd person, who seems to be well read, but skips over half of real radicalism in the USA of the past 150 years.

  27. giantsquid

    Re: A New Information Engine is Pushing the Boundaries of Thermodynamics

    After a quick read of the published paper discussed in this article (Govind Paneru, Dong Yun Lee, Tsvi Tlusty, and Hyuk Kyu Pak. “Lossless Brownian Information Engine.” Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.020601), I’m at a bit hazy on the significance of this “new information engine”. The authors of the paper that forms the basis for the artical note that they do not account for “the external energetic cost of detecting the particle and moving the trap accordingly”. So the overall experimental setup appears to pay a thermodynamic price in processing and acting upon the information gathered concerning the “trapped” particle’s position. I know I must be missing something, but I’m not sure what.

  28. Roland

    The pens I use: I get so many complimentary promotional pens at work, that the last I actually bought were some BiC ballpoint disposables, medium blue.

    I find that whenever I have a nice pen, it always gets lost or broken. The same thing happens to me with wristwatches and umbrellas.

    At least I have the compensating power of granting peculiar longevity to cheap stuff.

  29. Jeremy Grimm

    I thought this particular link was claim rich and information poor. However a quick search on quantum thermodynamics turned up the following which I believe provides a context for today’s link: “Maxwell’s demon can use quantum information to generate work”, December 18, 2013 by Lisa Zyga, feature [] This letter I reference makes no claims of violating the 2nd Law. I recall seeing another short paper that did suggest a quantum effect which violated the 2nd Law a few months ago but didn’t spot it on a quick look. “Brownian ratchets” are another interesting area of investigation connected with the second law on extremely small though not quite quantum scales.

    Personally I feel the 2nd Law is problematic. In my mind it seems similar to Rayleigh’s Limit on refraction and the recent discoveries about synthetic metamaterials with negative indices of refraction. As I recall one of Pendry’s groups at the University of London come up with “Superlens theory” among other things showing how Rayleigh’s limit didn’t limit the resolution limits of optical microscopy. I suspect more than a few 19th Century laws and limits may be “violated” through various caveats applied at new scale regimes unaccessible to 19th Century physics. But I’m not a physicist — so what do I know.

  30. Jeremy Grimm

    I left the comment above in reply to … @giantsquid but SkyNet didn’t like making it a reply.

  31. Chris


    Lambert’s water cooler comments might be less than usual as the post comment button goes straight to paypal…

      1. Chris

        yes, and you lose your comment too, lucky mine was brief.

        Waiting to sell some books, and then Lambert can have the well deserved cheque that’s always in the mail.

        Off topic, I know, but how many of you in US still use checks – my last cheque book was in 1995 iirc. Since then, all been online, rarely go to post office now…

        Yet all the ATMs ask me do I want to use my savings or check account.

        I seem to remember only writing cheques to pay bills or a store purchase because I was waiting for payday…

  32. ewmayer

    o “Star-hop from Orion to Planet 9 EarthSky. Chuck L” — Planet 9 from outer space! Paging Ed Wood’s ghost…

    o “Why does the UK have so many accents? The Conversation” — ‘Divided by a common language seems to be a pervasive in theme in the English-speaking world. The Pythons gave us the fictitious Ministry of Silly Walks, perhaps the UK aslo needs Ministry of Funny Accents?

  33. Wukchumni

    “Mined’ my first Bitcoin, previously a full sized quarter, and then utilizing a hacksaw with it held in place by a vise, now it’s 3x 1/3rds.

    Where can I cash them in for $30k?

  34. marym

    Trump [now disbanded] voting commission bought Texas election data flagging Hispanic voters

    President Trump’s voting commission asked every state and the District for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas’s case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames, newly released documents show.

    White House and Texas officials said the state’s voter data was never delivered because a lawsuit brought by Texas voting rights advocates after the request last year temporarily stopped any data handoff.

  35. The Rev Kev

    Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller? New York Magazine Re Silc: “will be a better movie than the post.”

    Wait, wait! I have the title already in mind – “How to Get Away with Character Assassination”.

    1. integer

      I decided to visit Peter Daou’s twitter feed (snicker) yesterday and happened to see that he had retweeted a tweet by Marcy Wheeler in which she complained that she was interviewed for this “article” but didn’t make the final cut. She pointed out that she had doubled down on Russiagate in her interview, and implicitly suggested that she was not included because she is female. Sigh.

  36. dk

    I’m a No. 2 pencil guy myself.

    I program, it’s different from writing. But while I’m thinking about something I’ll write a couple of words, or make a simple diagram. Writing/drawing lets me externalize the idea, and review and commit to it more easily. It also helps my workflow survive interruptions, which are frequent.

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