Links 1/8/18

How antidepressants are ending up in Great Lakes fish Detroit Free Press

Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History Nicholas Kristoff, NYT (GF).

Top charts of 2017 Economic Policy Institute (Furzy Mouse). There seemed to be a real dearth of end-of-year wrap-ups for 2017.

Can secular stagnation morph into secular expansion? Gavyn Davies, FT

Where modern macroeconomics went wrong Joseph Stiglitz, Oxford Review of Economic Policy

How to make economists fight like ferrets in a sack The Spectator

Zuckerberg’s Dilemma: When Facebook’s Success Is Bad for Society WSJ. I think the very last thing we want is Zuckerberg “encourag[ing] meaningful social interactions,” because I don’t think we want a squillionaire at the head of ginormous monopoly defining, operationally, what is “meaningful,” “social,” or an “interaction.” And I can’t believe we wouldn’t find Zuckerberg’s methods of “encouragement” anything other than degrading.

Facebook loses steam, Vice gets sold: Bold calls for 2018 Digiday

Benchmark is selling $900 million of its holdings in Uber Recode

Nvidia Expands Its Drive For Robocar Tech Supremacy With VW, Uber Alliances Forbes

“Black Mirror” Reveals Our Fear of Robots and Algorithms We Can’t Control The Intercept

These psychedelic stickers blow AI minds TechCrunch (original). “Our attack works in the real world, and can be disguised as an innocuous sticker.”

Puerto Rico

Hospitals Wrestle With Shortage of IV Bags, Linked to Hurricane WSJ. The manufacturer, Baxter International, is located in Puerto Rico, and still has “intermittent” power. This in the midst of a flu epidemic:

“It might as well be a Third World country,” said Erin Fox, senior director of drug information services at the University of Utah, which tracks nationwide drug shortages. Hospitals, she said, are now administering medications using syringes instead of IV bags because of the shortage.

Baxter Says Saline Shipments Disrupted in Hurricane-Wracked Puerto Rico (Sept. 27, 2017)

Those methods have more side effects, Ms. Fox said. “It’s happening every day,” she said. “And it will have more of an effect as hospitals get into delaying electives or clinical trials.”

“Might as well be”?


Jeremy Corbyn’s principled silence on Iran protests demands respect Middle East Eye

Saudi Handouts Show Prince Bet on Citizens After Royal Crackdown Bloomberg

North Korea

New hope on the Korean peninsula, believe it or not Salon

The aircraft carrier: The weapon that refuses to go under Asia Times (Re Silc).


The Geopolitics of the Beijing-Moscow Consensus The Diplomat

China’s Inner Mongolia admits cooking economic data, puts key road and subway projects on hold South China Morning Post

Japan succession crisis could rip links out of auto supply chain Nikkei Asian Review

Vietnam seeks to purge ‘corrupt’ Communist leaders FT

New Cold War

RT’s editor-in-chief on election meddling, being labeled Russian propaganda CBS. This is interesting. Simonyan is the RT editor:

Back then, she says she was a big fan of the United States, especially when she was an exchange student in Bristol, New Hampshire.

Margarita Simonyan: New Hampshire is absolutely beautiful.

Lesley Stahl: Did you watch American television?

Margarita Simonyan: Mostly MTV.

Lesley Stahl: MTV.

Margarita Simonyan: I was 15.

Lesley Stahl: I get the impression though that your views of the United States have kinda curdled.

Margarita Simonyan: It didn’t just happen to me. It happened to more or less all of Russians in 1999 when you bombed Yugoslavia.

The U.S. called that NATO operation a humanitarian intervention to prevent ethnic cleansing. But to Russia, it was a sign of U.S. aggression too close to home.

Margarita Simonyan: We found that absolutely unfair, outrageous– illegal because it wasn’t approved of by the United Nations. It was a shock. America had Russia wrapped around it little– little pinky through the whole ’90s. We did everything you told us. And we were eager to do more and more. The whole nation– Russian nation was like, “Tell us what else we can do to please you. We want to be like you. We love you.” And then in 1999 bam. You bomb Yugoslavia. And that was the end of it. In a minute, in one day. And that’s when you lost us unfortunately.

Banking union is not enough to save the eurozone FT

Under pressure, Merkel warms to coalition talks Handelsblatt

Italy, at sea without a paddle Politico

Trump Transition

In possible boon for White House, Fed ready to lay low as tax plan kicks in Reuters

DOJ’s pot memo creates big decision for US attorneys The Hill

Mixed signals on infrastructure plan emerge from Trump retreat WaPo

Immigration advocates: DACA deal likely to give Trump his wall McClatchy

Trump Administration Rule Paves Way For Association Health Plans KHN. See NC here.

Democrats in Disarray

Pelosi’s son celebrated New Year’s Eve with Trumps at Mar-a-Lago The Hill

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Cascading failures” strand thousands at flooded, frigid JFK CBS. The way we live now…

Mom organizes free lunches for more than 200 kids when schools close amid freezing temperatures ABC. Maybe she can go fix the pipes at JFK next.

Guillotine Watch

Tiffany’s Holiday Shoppers Snapped Up $450 Rulers, $375 Scoops Bloomberg

“But How Will We Pay for It?”: Modern Monetary Theory and Democratic Socialism Truthout (JZ).

Class Warfare

Determining Bargaining Power in the Platform Economy (transcript) Brad DeLong. Must-read, whether you believe the future is a gig-driven dystopian corporate hellscape or not. Personally, I’m a believer in this saying (paraphrasing, and I cannot dig out the source): “If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead.” DeLong is not.

Life expectancy in America has declined for two years in a row The Economist. The deck: “That’s not really meant to happen in developed countries.” Everything’s fine.

Why Tim Hortons doesn’t deserve your sympathy TVO

Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets (PDF) Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo. From March, still germane.

How inequality persists Stumbling and Mumbling

Universal screening increases the representation of low-income and minority students in gifted education PNAS (DK).

Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows Wired UK. Fun!

Quantum ‘spooky action at a distance’ becoming practical

Don’t pirate or we’ll mess with your Nest, warns East Coast ISP Engadget (DK). Once again, any product marketed using the word “smart” you should run a mile from.

iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors WSJ

Antidote du jour:

Dundee, the sweetest collie whoever lived

Sept 1 2004, Jan 7, 2018

And a bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From commenter “bee’s knees” on that story:

      Amy Price is correct- the response is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Who would think that the need is so great?

      I’d guess the answer to that question is just about everyone who doesn’t rely on abc “news” for actual, accurate information.

  1. Kevin

    Antidepressants in the Great Lakes.

    Makes we consider two things;

    Why are these drugs so potent that even after being taken and absorbed by the patient, there is enough that leaves a human’s body to contaminate fish in our Great Lakes.

    Also, when will we consider why it is that so many feel it necessary to take antidepressants in the first place?…i.e. why not try to find the hole in the dam as opposed to sandbagging the issue miles downstream – which seems to be our approach to most issues these days.

      1. Alex V

        Thank you for linking this, very interesting, and connects to so many things NC talks about. This stood out to me:

        -We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’”, they said, to focusing more on “power imbalances”

    1. Meher Baba Fan

      Kevin re Antidepressants.
      I cant provide a link unfortunately simply because my device physically cannot cut and paste. I did refer to Ben Goldachre and his book Bad Science, last week, which refers to Big Pharma.I am aware of the comments policy: But I wanted to comment I have read a fair bit about the SSRI class of anti depressants being a scam They were marketed on the idea they prevent reuptake of serotonin thus providing more free serotonin – but apparently its a crock of crap. Too simplistic. A diligent reader may wish to search for article in Guardian by Craig Newnes titled Brainwashed dated 10 Jan’ 2002. Its about there being no test for mental illness- no other disease gets diagnosis (‘..brain chemistry..’) and prescription without test results

        1. Basil Pesto

          Thank you for sharing this. The calibre of online discourse I see about anti-depressants is often mired in a level of proud ignorance that I typically associate with anti-vaxxers. It’s not uncommon to see in online comments sections (not here, mercifully) worthless banalities like “being sad is normal” and “just eat some chocolate/go for a walk and you’ll feel better”. Thanks for that.

          The article touches on a simple truth: treating psychiatric illness is extremely complicated and, as far as neuropharmacology goes, on a case by case basis, much of it is dependent on trial and error. All brains and people function differently, and within one person there are many variables to consider. We aren’t even close to understanding how or why we function psychically to an extent that the “correct” anti-depressant can be prescribed on the first go, and it’s unlikely that we will be in our lifetimes, in my opinion.

          The idea that capital P Pharma is flogging worthless pills to us to make us pliant is to let one’s righteous anger against the system lead you into an intellectual cul de sac. It’s just facile.

          Similarly, lines of inquiry such as this:

          “rather, perhaps it’s time we take a look at those issues driving people to take them in the first place. For instance, one obvious cause would be the wealth inequality in this country”

          while they absolutely do have value, also have very definite limits. My understanding is that most sensible psychiatrists agree that, as far as can be discerned, depression has its genesis in biological factors and environmental (that is, social) factors. It’s worth pointing out that the range of environmental factors covers an enormous breadth, and is by no means limited to the pecuniarily downtrodden. The fact is, as long as humans exist, the disease we have called depression will co-exist with us, and no MMT-driven utopia or whatever is going to change that, ever.

          My psychiatrist related to me a fascinating anecdote. He’s from South Africa and one day he found himself giving a woman, who was black, a lift home. In the car he was explaining what he did. She asked him: “what kind of patients do you get, that come in depressed?”. He replied “oh, all kinds of people”. Her: “Even white people?”. Him: “Of course”. Her: “I didn’t know that white people got depressed.”

          In my own case, I have lived a life of considerable material privilege. I have never truly wanted for anything. I’ve never been through an ordeal like PerpetualWAR’s and I probably (hopefully) never will (although their experience of the stigmatisation they suffered rings all too true). I went to good schools and received a good education. And yet I have a refractive type of chronic depression (it is sometimes known as dysthymia. Depressive episodes are generally acute and can last several months, dysthymia is ongoing) which means I am completely socially dysfunctional: unemployed and with no prospects. I can’t stress this simple point enough: The disease and its pathogenesis is complicated. Incidentally, during an acute episode about 6 months ago, I was an inpatient at a psychiatric hospital. Resumption of SSRI treatment pulled me back from a very dark place.

          Meanwhile, and perhaps this is overly pessimistic of me, but there seems to be a cottage publishing industry of “depression is X” / “no, depression is Y”, and one of its battlegrounds tends to be in the features section of the bourgeois press, of which the Guardian is probably the 21st century standard bearer. And while I realise this is a privilege that not everyone has (certainly not in the United States), I’ll take a thoughtful conversation with a qualified, experienced and learned psychiatrist over someone with a book to sell and the obsequious, uncritical journalists massaging their egos for the sake of pleasing the book’s publishers any day of the week.

          I’m sorry if my tone here is excessively combative, but few things are more frustrating and upsetting as a depressive who is sick of being sick than seeing people who seem so certain about what this depression business is really all about when they clearly have a lot to learn. At the same time, I don’t want to judge too harshly, as I probably harboured similar prejudices before I was first diagnosed.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Actually, your post is a paragon of reasonableness and, I suspect, self-restraint.

            I think the upshot is that psychiatry, and psychiatric medications, are extremely hit-or-miss. As someone else said, trial and error. With a lot of error.

            I have a family member whose response to medications is normally, consistently atypical. Perverse, you might say. They just weren’t meant for him.

            This doesn’t make things any easier when you’re ill.

            I actually think the basic medical model just doesn’t work well for the mind. Too many moving parts, too idiosyncratic. Unfortunately, I don’t really see another model out there that works better. Might be the reason for all the various forms of spirituality: self-medication.

            At any rate, I take it it’s a good sign that you’re posting.

          2. kareninca

            “I’ll take a thoughtful conversation with a qualified, experienced and learned psychiatrist”

            Do they exist anymore? I’ve met a fair number of psychiatrists over the years due to my own and family members’ issues. I don’t know of any currently practicing that fit that description. I knew of two, but one is long since dead (30+ years ago) and the other is now retired. The psychiatrists I run these days are of no more than above-average intelligence and are batshit crazy themselves. And these are psychiatry professors at teaching hospitals. And “learned”?? Hahahahaha.

            I’ve read that psychiatry pays badly, and no longer attracts smart people. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I haven’t met them.

            1. Basil Pesto

              I think we both may be in danger of generalising here, and I may just be lucky, but my own neuropsychiatrist fits the bill. I don’t know if he’s batshit crazy or not outside of work, but he’s very capable and we get along extremely well. He satisfies my intellectual curiosity and, whenever I have questions (which can have quite complex/technical answers) he has an answer at hand. He is also learned enough to know what he doesn’t know and explain the limits of our understanding of the brain, which I hope I have related to some degree here.

              At the same time, the impression I get is that psychiatry is perhaps the branch of medicine is perhaps the most fraught. I think part of the reason for this is the imprecise nature of the treatment that I touched on, which sort of runs counter to the development of modern medicine, and the lack of observable diagnostics (as in, it’s easy to observe whether a broken bone is healing well; not so much a broken brain). I’ve heard patients arguing with my own doctor. I also know that in the past, members of my own family have been sceptical of the treatment (until they themselves met my doctor). I think people can have unrealistic expectations of outcomes for psychiatric treatment. Sometimes it can go off without a hitch but, as in my case, there can be a lot of uncertainty. For example, my brother, who is a surgeon, is very frustrated by my illness because the treatment of it is just so different from the technical and precise nature of how he treats illnesses. I’ve been to a couple of medical museums in my time and it’s easy to guffaw at the, shall we say, agricultural surgical techniques of days gone by. My own sense is that we might be at a somewhat analogous point in the treatment of mental health.

              As OregonCharles said, there are so many moving parts and idiosyncrasies that the profession and approach to treatment is imperfect – but we’re doing the best we can right now.

              Thank you as well Charles for the kind words. My first post here was while I was in the hospital, discussing similar issues. Somebody said that they couldn’t believe they allowed me to be on NC during my stay. Still have a chuckle about that one ;)

              1. kareninca

                I’m glad you lucked out and got a good practitioner. I hope your doctor comes up with some helpful alternative treatment. Dysthymia is supposed to be one of the tough ones, but persistence can make all the difference.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        One pill makes you larger,
        And one pill makes you small.
        But the ones that Pharma gives you
        Keep you ‘nother brick in the wall.

        Apologies for a mixed allusion, but the drugs Pharma sells are not designed to cure illness or really even to relieve misery. Their aim is to make us pliable while remaining at least somewhat productive. Contrast that to hallucinogens that have the effect, in the right set and setting, of awakening folks to the insanity and cruelty of our current social, political and economic arrangements.

        White Rabbit

        Another Brick in the Wall

    2. perpetualWAR

      Your disdain for those of us to whom the world has kicked in the gut is palpable.

      The reason I had to take antidepressants was because I chose an eight year battle with Chase over the unlawfulness of their repeated attempted foreclosures. During this eight year battle I had to endure people (and family) labeling me a “deadbeat” “lazy” and many other slurs prompted by the bank propaganda machine. I lost friends I’d had for decades. For some of the friends who stayed, I had to hear, “How many months have you not paid your mortgage?” Implying, rather than saying, I was a skating deadbeat.

      All the while knowing I was fighting for the massive populace, the homeowners who still continue even though the system is so f***ed up. There are massive problems in title, escrow and I was fighting to end those problems, you know, for the non-deadbeat homeowners.

      I fought and attempted to change laws in our state legislature, only to watch the lobbyist for the mortgage bankers kill all my months of work with one conversation. I fought and got my AG to join Florida AG in calling for an investigation. That investigation found fraud & used me up, but failed to provide me relief.

      The last battle I fought was in court. I spent eight years battling in court with written evidence from Chase they knew of TWO mortgaged-backed securities to whom my one note was sold to. (Someone please tell me how one note can be sold to TWO mortgaged-backed securities…did they rip it in two?) Needless to say, they claimed the note was either lost or destroyed. Well, if they don’t know what happened to the evidence of the loan, I win right? Wrong. Our corrupt judiciary will take forgeries and a pinky swear to get the darn deadbeat homeowner outta their courtroom and outta their house.

      So, I battled the corrupt executive branch, the corrupt legislative branch and the corrupt judiciary until my adrenal glands are all outta whack, my cortisol levels are raging, and when I finally asked for medical help, I was near collapse. So, excuse me if I needed antidepressants for a few months to try to normalize my broken body.

      1. Kevin

        My apologies if it was my post that seemed insensitive. Depression runs in my family and I in no way meant to disparage those in need of help – rather, perhaps it’s time we take a look at those issues driving people to take them in the first place. For instance, one obvious cause would be the wealth inequality in this country – there is no possible way a country can experience this and not expect those on the losing end to feel desperate….

        1. perpetualWAR

          Apology accepted. It took a long time, and a near collapse, for me to reach out for mental health help. We should not look at mental health help as a stigma, but a symptom of a collapsing society.

          And, yes, I agree that the wealth inequality plays a role in the desperation that is happening on the streets of the U.S.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You’re right we understand and empathize with those who justifiably need it, and at the same time, look at the broader, underlying causes.

          Why is there so much suffering?

          It can’t be just our attachments to the world. We have to say and do more.

      2. Down2Long

        Been in the same boat. Lost a building I was current on to Chase. You have my deepest sympathy.

        As to anti-depressants: I have been able to combine talk therapy and was fortunate enough to be evaluated by a brilliant psychiatrist to be put on the right drug with the right diagnoses (anxiety, not depression, living in the USA will do that to you.)

        I referred several people I knew to my psychologist and Psychiatrist. It took awhile to get them on the right meds, but all are doing much better.

        Look, I get demon Pharma, but part of the problem is that people are getting psych meds from GPs, who really aren’t trained to diagnose psychiatric problems, and then dispense the appropriate drug.

        People think anti-depressants are all the same, but they most certainly are not.I had a friend on Wellbutrin whose personality flatlined. Another., Much younger friend, former heroin addict and now a rock climber in peak health has libido and ED problems from Lexapro.

        A big problem is that most people can’t afford to see a qualified psychiatrist, let alone have the luxury of talk therapy. Neither of my providers takes insurance, and even if they did, the coverage would be pitiful. So I pay $1k a month for health insurance, and $400 a month for psych care – and yes. I know I am lucky enough to afford it, although it does require sacrifices.

        Sadly, almost every one else in America is not lucky enough to be in my position, so they may be mis-prescribed an anti-depressants by a GP, or most likely, have to cope by themselves in our increasingly brutal society. No wonder they turn to oxy and heroin.

        Truly, it is not the drugs that are the problem, but that our system has pummeled people into grotesque coping schemes in order to fatten the .01 percent’s money hoardes. Even uglier is society’s disdain for these people. It is a case of blaming the victim, with a lot of grand, privileged judgement and Puritanism thrown in.

      3. Meher Baba Fan

        perpetualWar thanks for sharing of your personal battle. Really sounds like an extraordinary trial. I commend your committment and am so sorry it was so crushing. Takes guts to kick against the pricks. I hope, sincerely, you are feeling much better these days. And also apologise if I expressed myself in a way that communicated a lack of empathy. I can see how I could come across that way. Certainly wish my poor wifi allowed me to take more time. I certainly intended no such thing. Been in your boat, still am! My issue is with Pharma, and the prescribing industry, exploiting people sufferring from depression in ways that are counter to their needs. So, yes I am railing against the blanket prescription of antidepressants. Many folks arent given the chance to understand all the options. I respect if you say they really supported you in your situation. Did you check out the Guardian piece? Kindly, me.

        1. Meher Baba Fan

          By serendipity just now I came across a title. ‘ Making A Good Brain Great’ by Daniel G Amen. By a doctor whom scans brains and has linked specific behaviour with brain chemistry. Its about the actual care of the physical brain

        2. Down2Long

          Will check it out, thanks. I didn’t take it personally, thank you for your kind words.

          Maybe it’s my journalism background, but I really do feel we are all better off with open dialogue, as I see you are.

          One of the things that bothers me these days about Twitter, for example, is how people want to censor each other. Let the sh*t fly is my philosophy. How else will we get together and clean it up?

        3. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          In my experience it is those of a sensitive nature who tend to seek the probably dubious sanctuary of anti depressants – particularly women whom I have witnessed from a near distance, who have bucked under heavy loads. I suppose that medication is a better option than alcohol or illicit drugs, if only because the treatment is to some extent managed by health professionals, as is the case here in the UK – most of those I know have now been successfully weaned off them.

          Perhaps the Great lakes filling with woe is a sign of the times, as is the opiod epidemic in the US & from what I have read, the increase in alcohol consumption in the UK. I have never taken them myself, but did receive a lesson on not judging those who seek relief from inner pain, when after losing my wife to cancer under my Doctor’s advice, booked myself into a local asylum.

          It was actually mainly a drunk tank full of truly lost souls, from which I felt fortunate to escape after only a weekend. The psychiatrist I believe realised that I was just basically depressed & worn out & did not prescribe any medication. I soon dawned on me that unlike virtually everybody in there, that I had a future. Most of the patients were only in for a temporary dry out, with a few who would have fitted in well to ” One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest “.

          I got involved in some deep conversations, particularly with a permanent resident who was once an architect who had lost his wife & young child to a car crash. On the whole they seemed like a pretty good bunch of people who had fallen on hard times. The saddest examples were an old man with what appeared to be dementia of some kind & an old Irish Farmer ( alcoholic ) who from what I could ascertain, had been robbed of his farm by his own family, who constantly stood at a window waiting for visitors that evidently never came.

          I was very glad to get out with the realisation that in comparison I was basically just feeling sorry for myself. The ” Dirty Protest ” toilets, no sleep in a dark dormitory & the scary appearance of the warders being the main part of that – something that was highlighted by an incident where an unfortunate lunatic went berserk during the early hours, before being rather brutally dealt with & then as I was told, dragged off to be hosed down in the main building.

          A few months after I left & was getting on with my life, I came across an old man who I had enjoyed talking with sitting in the town centre . I greeted him, but he didn’t recognise me & was not interested in my words, but saw the situation as a handle to get money out of me. I gave him a tenner & walked away at least grateful for the lesson in perception I had received, when it comes to those who when seen are largely seen as being of no worth, or are locked out of sight & mind.

          There but for the grace of the market …….

          1. Kevin

            Thanks for sharing your story and very sorry for your loss.
            Perhaps it is the human brain and not space that is final frontier – we know so little.

            As for the Great Lakes, I highly recommend “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan. An eye-opening read on the fragility and resiliency of the Great Lakes ecosystem. I’ve been privileged to have lived a majority of my like around the Great Lakes region.

            1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

              You are very welcome & thank you.

              My own opinion on the the brain & space or the cosmos, is that consciousness is the important factor or the key, & I agree with physicist Marcello Gleiser, that it is something that it is a mystery beyond our comprehension.

              Also thanks for the book tip, I shall add it to the pile.

        4. perpetualWAR

          Thank you.

          It’s going to take a long time for me to feel “normal.” After such a long battle, my body has been put through the stress machine, which does not do good things to one’s health and well-being.

          I did learn one thing: the corruption of our government runs very very deep. And that, in itself, is a very disconcerting fact.

          Thank you for your well wishes. I am trying to climb out of the hole.

      4. Jean

        Perpetual…see the CIA Sabotage manual elsewhere on this page. Doing something physical is stress releasing.

        Vengeance is sweet.

        My Aunt was the first person in history to jam an ATM machine and was so informed by a branch manager. Something to do with peanut butter spilling in her purse.

    3. Skip Intro

      I don’t have any antidepressants, but the story itself makes me want some…

      damn freeloading fish… I imagine I would need to eat quite a few of ’em to get a therapeutic dosage. I assume the stuff bioaccumulates in higher levels of the food chain, which is even more depressing while also being more antidepressing.

  2. MT_Bill

    I was excited to see the universal screening for gifted students, until I saw how they “crapified” the standards for “Plan B” students.

    And really, “Plan B”? Labeling a cohort of students after a emergency contraceptive is a little harsh.

    1. funemployed

      Re: low-income students, they could just be accounting for the known and measurable cultural and class bias in the tests.

      Re: English Language Learners, that is just patently stupid. IQ tests are available in many languages, and should obviously be administered in a child’s first language if you are actually trying to accurately measure IQ.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      So sad. You know it’s coming someday but how to deal with it, I don’t know. Love your dog today is my mantra.

    2. Gary

      Thanks for sharing Dundee. 14 years is a long life for a dog like Dundee. I recently lost my dog and I do feel your loss. I also share the happiness you both had together.

  3. JTMcPhee

    My fave quote so far today, comes from the link on ISPs threatening to freeze you out of your Nest if you file-share or they think you might:

    “All is connected and everything is affected.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Personally I have always thought that most devices should be built with the fail-safe principle kept in mind. That is, if you have say, a connected thermostat, and something happens to the ‘smart’ part of it, then you will still be able to use it manually. Just because there is a problem with connectivity does not mean that your device should stop working period.
      Here is an example of how this vulnerability can be abused. Not that long ago some corporation bought up a smaller mob that made home control devices, I think. Then one fine day that corporation got bored with those devices and shut them off and by that I mean literally shut down the servers that those devices depended on. Anybody that had them running their homes now had a useless piece of junk. And there was not a damn thing that those people could do about it.
      Manual backup is the way to go in design whenever possible.

      1. Gaianne

        “Manual backup is the way to go in design whenever possible.”

        Completely reasonable, of course. Just common sense.

        Your previous paragraph makes it obvious why corporations will never choose this option.


      1. Ancient1

        I like your, “Grief is the price of love”. That is a help for me. Lost our schnauzer on 1/1/2018 after fifteen plus years. He had a difficult ending and we miss him terribly, but memories live on.

        1. Pat

          My condolences. They always leave a hole that makes you realize how much they gave you. So glad you had each other.

  4. Andrew

    re: ACA

    If you are self-employed and don’t receive any assistance then the healthcare system is already basically non-existent (e.g beyond crapified). I just renewed and had to change plans – again. Have lost PCP once more (3X in last 6 years) and now have to drive 60 miles to nearest medical center – and I don’t live in what could be called a rural area. And my deductible is $6500. All for the equivalent of a mortgage payment in much of the country. ACA may have been good for some: some assistance paying premiums, Medicaid expansion, etc. But if you’re self employed it’s an absolute disaster. From where I sit, Medicaid may deliver better care than my current plan.

    1. Inode_buddha

      I guarantee you medicaid delivers better. I was on it years ago, and the only plan I’ve had since then that even comes close is BlueCross Platinum. And yes, it was a small mortgage, thats why I don’t have it anymore. I finally said “screw it, I’ll take my chances” and so nowdays everything is cash, just so I can afford to live.

      1. ambrit

        “..just so I can afford to live.”
        That’s the beauty of Neoliberalisms’ Rule #2; Not everyone can now afford to live, but everyone can afford to die.
        As for Medicaid. Anyone in my state who earns over one half of what would be a “living wage,” (which I would define as $15 an hour in America,) is considered not eligible to participate. This system produces actual disincentives to ‘move up’ the income ladder when one begins, or falls into, the bottom rungs.
        Allow me to propose a matching set of Anti Neoliberal dicta:
        #1) Disrupt markets.
        #2) Go kill.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The guy in the film Being There, Ben Rand, I think he had his own hospital in his castle home.

          That was the 70s.

          I imagine things are a lot better, a lot more comfortable for the billionaires.

          1. ambrit

            When my Dad was the Plumbing Inspector for Miami Beach, one of the houses he looked at was the remodeling of a Star Island mansion for Howard Hughes. Hughes was an extreme hypochondriac, and had a fully equipped operating theatre and a pharmacy built into every home he lived in. Dad was amazed at the sophistication of the set-up in that home. Once or twice I remember seeing the Hughes pusher puller type seaplane landing on mid Biscayne Bay. Hughes would fly in to town, land on the water, and park the plane in a seaplane hangar built into the shoreline of the mansion. That was the ’70s. Now the Masters of the Universe want to ditch corporeal forms altogether. Seems like a few security concerns would crop up with that.

    2. Lynne

      Self-employed or not, it’s a disaster. I am lucky for now to have employer provided insurance. The monthly premium they pay for my coverage alone is more than my monthly mortgage payment, and my out of pocket is $4000.00 even with that. If things continue, I doubt the employer will continue coverage. They simply can’t afford it (they aren’t some huge corporation, but. a local government agency so I know the books and the money just isn’t there).

      Last year, my state had a wage freeze for state employees, including no COLA. They’re already warning the same for this year, with low tax revenue and cost increases rampant.

  5. bob

    “In 2014, the development arm of SUNY Polytechnic Institute agreed to build, with $90 million in state money, a factory in DeWitt for an LED light bulb manufacturer.”

    “But the deal with SUNY Poly’s Fort Schuyler Management Corp. did not require Soraa to spend any of its own money to build or equip the factory. And it contained no penalties if the company did not occupy the building or create the promised jobs. The company never even signed a lease.

    So when Soraa recently said it no longer needed the factory and pulled out of the deal just as the state was completing construction of the 82,000-square-foot building, there was nothing the state could do about it.”

    “Empire State Development, a state economic development agency, took over the project from SUNY Poly a year ago after the college’s president, Alain Kaloyeros, was arrested on corruption charges and resigned from the university. ESD said a deal with a new tenant will include financial penalties if the company fails to meet its job commitments.

    1. allan

      But wait, there’s more …

      $354 Million: How much NY spent on tourism, business ads

      New York spent $354 million on ads to promote tourism and economic development between 2011 and August 2017, records show.

      The ads have been omnipresent since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in 2011 and have touted New York’s “Open for Business” campaign, upstate tourism and the underperforming Start-Up NY program. …

      A 2015 audit from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli questioned whether New York taxpayers were getting their money’s worth from the ads.

      The audit reviewed $211 million during the first three years of the ad campaign, finding it produced “no tangible results.” …

      Tangible for whom?

      1. Jim Haygood

        I seem to recall some cockamamie state-sponsored plan a couple of decades ago to create an east coast Silicon Valley near Albany. Nothing came of that pipe dream either.

        New York State just doesn’t get that high taxes, cold winters and a century-old culture of exuberant political corruption are not drawing cards.

        It’s hard to be bleeding edge when your biggest tech company is old-school IBM — once described to me by a former mainframe salesman turned actor as “blue suit, white shirt, red tie.”

        Blue jeans and T-shirts for all!

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Our ridiculous governor decided that Maine was ‘Open for Business’ too a few years ago after his election and ordered signage to that effect to be displayed at the state border. Somebody else decided it was stupid and ripped it off.

        Take a look at the date on the article in the link – the phenomenon also started in 2011. Sounds like Cuomo and LePage were operating from the same playbook despite supposedly being in diametrically opposed political parties.

        Catching an extremely pungent whiff of ALEC here.

    2. rd

      This is clearly a part of the high-tax NYS government that has to go away. However, there appears to be so much money in this corruption that it continues even with on-going prosecutions reaching into the governor’s office.

      This is an opportunity for Republicans to make a run for the NY governorship, but only if they run credible anti-corruption candidates that don’t want to slash and burn the safety nets. So far, they have been unable to put up a credible candidate in quite a few years.

      1. a different chris

        >but only if they run credible anti-corruption candidates that don’t want to slash and burn the safety nets.

        Haha that’s like “I need a shark for my moat but it has to not eat the fish…”

      2. bob

        The NYS republicans are the bestest buddies of King Cuomo. He’s fully bipartisan with respect to grift.

        The dems are making sure the GOP stays in control, as per the directives of the King.

        As far as the GOP as a whole within NYS, the party is completely run by the Kochs, and completely run as a national party with little if any thought to local issues.

        See the last GOP candidate for gov-

        He didn’t poll well. He’s an open, proud biggot. But, he triggers the libs, the only qualification needed to run.

  6. funemployed

    I don’t think universal IQ screening for gifted and talented programs makes much sense.

    Firstly, IQ is an aggregate score evaluating several distinct cognitive functions of various applicability to any particular “gift” or “talent.” One need not have high level spatial reasoning, mathematical, or pattern recognition skills to be a great novelist, for example. Should a child who’s verbal intelligence is off the charts, but also suffers from dyscalculia be excluded, to use just one of countless examples?

    Secondly, IQ tests are quite difficult to administer and interpret correctly. Even when conducted by highly trained psychologists, there are a great many potential sources of error. Things as common as child anxiety, stress, sleep loss, nutrition, time of day, cultural misunderstanding, not caring and zoning out in kiddo fantasy land cause it’s boring, etc. etc. can lead to large differences in the final score. This is especially problematic because you can’t redo the test (for at least a year), so if it goes wrong the first time, or is misinterpreted, the results are not valid and there isn’t any viable alternative.

    Mind, this is when the test is done properly (1 on 1, by a trained psychiatrist (MD) or psychologist (PhD) who conducts a preliminary interview with parents, spends up to three hours administering the test, and another decent chunk of time scoring and writing up a qualitative analysis). Any other way of administering the test is of highly questionable reliability and validity, particularly when used to make high-stakes decisions about individual test takers. Given that there are roughly 75 million school age children in the US, and roughly 150,000 licensed psychiatrists + psychologists (most of whom are not trained specifically to work with children), and that fairness would require that all children be tested within a given set of age ranges, it’s logistically impossible.

    Thirdly, the test is inherently culturally and class biased (e.g. one question has something to do with why you buy stamps at the post office), so it would still privilege rich white English speaking kids most, even if it could be fairly universally administered.

    Fourthly, the higher up the scale you go, the less relevant your score is to your actual life. A person with an IQ of 50 is drastically less functional than a person with an IQ of 70, who in turn is drastically less functional that one with an IQ of 100 (the median score). Once you get a bit over one standard deviation north of the mean (IQ 115), it becomes entirely useless as a predictor of anything in the real world (except possibly a positive correlation with social awkwardness, as anyone who’s been to a MENSA gathering is well aware). A researcher with an IQ of 150 (extremely rare) is no more likely to get tenure than one with an IQ of 120 (not very rare at all – and below the Florida cut score (130 = 2 standard deviations north of the mean) referenced in the article). At that point, things like creativity, personality, circumstances, etc. take over as the determining factors.

    To put it another way, the IQ test is much more useful for diagnosing significant intellectual handicaps than assessing intellectual gifts and talents.

    Fifthly, IQ isn’t a static measure. It can change a lot more than most people think (admittedly not if you have an IQ of 50 – see fourth point) in response to education and experience. It can also be gamed. Both APA’s have strict rules about keeping the test secret, but we live in the age of the internet, and rich parents will undoubtedly be more likely to find and exploit ways to cheat than poor people. A corrupt psychiatrist could make a killing training rich kids to do better on IQ tests, and several surely would.

    Sixthly, young people develop intellectually at highly variable rates, and particular talents and gifts can manifest at any age. By the time they’re all old enough to make reasonable comparative predictions about adult intellectual abilities, they’re too old for tracking to do much anyway (full disclosure, I do not like tracking period).

    Finally, the idea that “gifted and talented” equates with “can score 130 on an IQ test” is narrow to the point of silliness. Most people can do some things better than most other people. That is what is colloquially meant by “talents” and “gifts.” Young people should be able to devote extra time to those things they enjoy and are good at, and given resources to do so without having to jump through a test that is statistically designed to ensure that only 2.5% will pass IMNSHO.

    p.s. Imagine a firm that hired solely based on an IQ cut score of 130, and how much of a catastrophic disaster that would be. Why do the same thing with children?

    1. Patrick Donnelly

      Testing is for efficiency. It can be used for more than IQ. EQ is also important as is the ability to resist the abuse of power, currently not a test!

      High IQ means fast thinking, accuracy and discipline. Success? In a world like this? The best success is staying sane….

      The most successful criminals usually have a high IQ. Pretending that it always attends awkwardness is a poor attack in IQ tests. Preventing strong people from embracing the dark side is a massive leap forward for many who would otherwise suffer. By identifying we can direct the most appropriate support.

      1. funemployed

        The social awkwardness comment was a poor attempt at humor based on a very awkward mensa gathering I once attended. I don’t know of any actual data that would support that dig, and you’re right – not fair. The rest of that paragraph is based on actual data though.

        I agree about EQ, also creativity, which school tends to systematically smother in young children.

        As for the most successful criminals (whether you mean the ones at Goldman and Monsanto or the ones who sell illegal drugs), true enough, crime is hard.

        And I do agree that, in our current system, anything that reduces class, cultural, and racial bias in access to better educational opportunities is better than nothing. Probably should have made that clear at the outset of my critique.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      on your number four:
      I was one of those “gifted” kids.
      They may as well have put me on the short bus and required me to wear a tutu to school. I was first administered an IQ test when I was around 6-7…by my cousin the special ed phd when my mom wondered at my hatred of school(an indicator, perhaps). results:180. Of course, I didn’t learn of this stigmata til much later, when it made so much of the abuse and bullying make sense, as well as the unwanted scrutiny of the teachers.
      I knew I was smart, of course, but the singling out, like i was a trained seal, made my anomalousness all the worse.
      By 5th grade, I was always in trouble for correcting the history and science teachers on Pericles and whether or not the Moon rotates on it’s axis(it does)….and fending off the rednecks and jocks who seemed to despise me because I preferred reading to PE.
      My point, ere I digress into lamentations and gnashing of teeth, is that
      I wonder, even 30-40 years later, if we are ready to accept smart folks into our community. In spite of all the lip flapping about “reaching for the stars”, my experience indicates a great and often unconscious fear of genius. I remind myself that my experience is not universal, that Texas isn’t the USA, and that perhaps other places are more friendly to freakishly smart kids…but then I stumble into the comments of my senators’ faceborg page,lol.
      The more important point is that maybe we shouldn’t label kids “gifted” until we’re ready to go all the way and support and back them up against the prejudice and superstition that comes so easily to the “not-gifted”(?!).
      when I finally got internet(and before all the journals were swept behind that Swiss Paywall), I rummaged around for data on people like me, and was not really all that shocked to learn that we haven’t been studied all that much.
      Too few of us, perhaps, to make it worthwhile.
      It makes me wish I had gone into psychology, because I reckon that there’s a lot of interesting things to learn about the lived experience of the “exceptionally intelligent”…especially regarding their interactions with the mundane, in the wild.
      How can one design a GT program without such understanding?

      Re: the linked article: while I support universal screening, i wish we could get past the identitarianism. I see the same thing in crowing about the black lesbian ceo as evidence that all our racism and homophobia are settled and done.
      with education, in general, in such a sorry state, what will the various administrators do with such screenings?
      will it help the kids thus singled out?
      if my kids’ school is any indication, it might be better to just leave it alone, and shore up the school library.(the ISD does their best, and is much better– given our size and isolation and that we’re in Texas– than I would reasonably hope for; but the GT Program appears to have been designed by folks who had better things to do, and is more of a status symbol for the spawn of the Petit Bourgeoisie than anything else)
      sorry for the rant, but such things touch a deep nerve with me.

      1. funemployed

        they touch a nerve with me too, hence the previous rant of my own. I too, was labeled as one of those kids at a very young age, and am convinced it did much more harm than good

        After many years studying education, I think your proposal for beefing up libraries is spot on. No need to label, just provide learning materials at a variety of levels, and give kids who want to learn more the freedom to learn what they’re curious about without making a big deal about it.

        1. CanCyn

          I too was identified as gifted and put in a special class when I was in Grade 6. I went from regular stream and kinda bored to learning with others of my intellectual abilities but otherwise they were 1-3 years younger, and socially and emotionally immature. I chose to go back to regular classes and yes, endured some teasing & borderline bullying for a bit but was eventually much happier. I’ve never regretted that choice. Yes school (and life) can be hard for the intellectually gifted but while we don’t want schools to teach only to the lowest common denominator, we want to go too high with that bar either. School should be the happy medium IMO. I guess I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me to read and engage with the world in challenging ways outside of the classroom.
          It really is about having the world we want to have – i.e. less money and focus on guns and war and bailing out big failing banks & corporate welfare, and more on schools with enough personnel to work with intellects, disabilities and personalities of all kinds. And yes, I’m slowly figuring out this MMT thing and I get that we can afford it all – just sayin’ that we need to want to!!

      2. ambrit

        I had a similar experience, but sort of in reverse.
        We lived in California in the early ‘sixties. I was skipped ahead a grade there and did fine. The next year, we moved back to Florida. For no other reason given but my chronological age, I was made to repeat the grade. I viewed school with an almost schizophrenic attitude after that. I have never really accepted “authority” since.
        Plus, what does a youth do when he or she discovers not only that he or she is smarter than many of the teachers, but that said teachers are making ‘stupid’ decisions that directly affect the students’ life?
        One of the main reasons that I view ‘Galts’ Gulch’ cultists with disdain is that very many of them are no smarter than the rest of us, just luckier. When you attribute good fortune derived from chance as something derived from some imagined intrinsic value, you have a very big problem. You have parted ways with the phenominal universe.

      3. lyman alpha blob

        I wonder, even 30-40 years later, if we are ready to accept smart folks into our community.

        No we are not. Not sure we ever will be. There’s a reason that the Cassandra myth has staying power over the better part of three millennia – the majority never listens to the smart people who can think critically and see what’s coming and then after the fact they are resentful when proven wrong.

      4. Oregoncharles

        ” freakishly smart kids”
        That, of course, is the essence of the problem; people with that sort of IQ are not normal, and as kids can’t fake it. The other kids will know something is up even without testing or GT programs.

        I think the underlying problem, at least in schools, is the basic program. The age-group lockstep is based on an assumption that all kids learn the same things at the same pace; something that literally everyone, and certainly educators, know is untrue. Until we break that lockstep, we’ll have the basic problem with kids that don’t fit in. Of course, 10 year olds in college are a different sort of problem.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do they take the best out of, say, 7 IQ tests and average them?

      One time IQ test during one’s life time seems susceptible to, well, small sample size bias. (For that concern, maybe voters should vote multiple times in a single election and use the average…not talking about fraud here.).

      1. Craig H.

        Here is what I do not understand about all the high IQ loving hype:

        there is a huge variation in standardized test performance with whether the kid is even trying.

        The high IQ crowd was raised in homes where it was drilled into them from the very first day that they took a test that this is the most important thing you will ever do. Check your work. Double check your work. Do not let your attention wander for one second.

        Where I went to grade school the majority of the kids didn’t even care at all. The teachers thought most of the kids were stupid. Most kids did not care. They thought the teachers were stupid. One of the smartest adults I know considers it a point of pride that he barely passed on his report cards. George W. Bush bragged that he was a C student.

        How many people who score well on tests have scoring well on tests the absolute most important thing in their life? Is there even a word for this type of bias and an estimate of how large it might be?

        1. funemployed

          I think you’re absolutely right about motivation. It’s even more messed up that extrinsic motivation to get high scores actually negatively impacts all sorts of things like creativity and the willingness to engage with really difficult things.

      2. epynonymous

        Taking an IQ test multiple times raises scores. Most tests are series off unexpected challenges, so predictability breaks the results. Theoretically, you could correct the results with math, but then what about the smart kids who get bored the second time?

          1. funemployed

            The various Weschler IQ tests – the only ones that psych folks take seriously – have very strict rules about retakes and practicing – very not allowed. The tests can’t be purchased by anyone who isn’t a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist, and results are only considered valid if the person being tested hasn’t taken an IQ test in the past year or been previously exposed to the content of one. To administer it multiple times to the same person in one year, or to share the contents of it with anyone is grounds for having your license revoked.

            That said, a half-clever person could devise a test-prep program (though if a licensed psych practitioner, they would probably lose their license if found out), and I’d wager a moderately skilled or motivated hacker could get a copy of the test without too much effort.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If Imperial Examination could be leaked, at the risk of death-by-a-thousand-cut (or was it beheading), a copy might just be available in, say, South China Sea, though I have no evidence.

              Just wild imagination…which, I suppose (or imagine), counts against, not towards, one’s IQ score.

              1. funemployed

                Just checked with someone qualified to administer these tests. There’s no centralized system, so, if you can afford it, you can just go to a bunch of different psych folks and lie about whether your kid has taken it in the past year, then ask the one who recorded the highest score to submit to the school district. If you can’t afford that, of course, it’s a one off with the district psychologist.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I got lucky on my first try, so I won’t tempt Fate.

                  Plus, I can save a lot of money doing it only once.

          2. ambrit

            Yes. There is a cottage industry of systems and tutors devoted to teaching students how to “game” tests. The SAT and ACT tests are particular profit centres for these enterprises.
            You might appreciate that the system we have now is trending strongly towards a form of Mandarinism. There, how well one did on certain tests decided how far up the ladder of the bureaucracy one would climb. The same is happening here, with standardized tests filling the gatekeeping role. So, it is only rational for anyone attempting to enter the “Blessed Ten Percent” to do as much “gaming” of the system as possible.
            I took my SATs a second time simply to try and get my score past a threshold number. Back then, that required a non trivial amount of money, time and effort to accomplish. I succeeded, but look where it got me. The lesson being that test scores alone do not guarantee success. That is where todays’ educational system fails. I ignores the dimensions of personal ethics and character. In a perverse way, separatist religious groups do a better job of raising their young, since they instill in their youth a sense of purpose and self worth independent of the ‘consumer’ society.
            Go figure.

    4. Meher Baba Fan

      Funemployed, an Australian artist named Justin Hazlewood wrote a book about earning as an artist, titled Funemployed. Thanks for excellent commentary on the uselessness IMHO of the IQ test. One of your points reminded me of the excellent book by Malcolm Gladwell ( yep that one) named David and Goliath. All about how being the underdog can ensure success. He gave example of one of the most brilliant trial lawyers in the US. No one knew he couldnt read!! This secret handicap meant he had to pay exceptional attention to everything people said, and have a flawless memory. Everything he heard would be stored and recalled to devestating effect. He missed nothing. His compensatory mechanism

      1. Chris

        This discussion looks like a subset of a bigger problem about performance management.

        We all know that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, but the reality is that as soon as you settle on a performance metric, that measure will be ‘gamed’ in preference to working to improve performance.

  7. Alex Morfesis

    Expert systems and software bots…ouch…sorry fell off the barstool laughing…brad de Long…all this white collar paper shuffling is going nowhere…if you did not read and notice the fine print…price waterhouse loss in that fdic lawsuit in respects to colonial bank/farkas was kinda sorta because they chose to have a college intern do the actual audit work…not everything can be measured in a useful manner by some algorithms…

    and the clowns that be only delude themselves if they really imagine “they” “control” anything…


    control…nyet 9 nicht…

    disruptive and dynamic are nice corporate words to explain…

    “heck, we never saw that coming”…

    nice camouflage for:

    “we aint as smart as that paper on the wall suggests”…

    gates and jobs and wozniak did nothing but step into the void xerox left for everyone…xerox being a perfect example of why being first means nothing…tall stick labs…woof woof…

    Expect to be fired is the meme for this and future generations…what is the answer…learn to fire your gig first and try to surround yourself with humans who are not zombie time stealing energy destroying vampires…

    easier said than done but nothing works unless you work it…

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The aircraft carrier: The weapon that refuses to go under”

    But if they do, they will go down in a big way. A few facts. A US carrier had a range of about 1,210 nautical miles way back in 1956. By 2006 that had shrunk to about 500 nautical miles and the introduction of the F-35 will shrink that range even further. The range of those Chinese carrier-killer missiles is probably at least 1,000 nautical miles and likely much for. Sorta like taking a pistol into a rifle fight. But that is not even the worst danger.
    Submarines! If you want to mess with a carrier skipper’s head, have a sub surface in the middle of his carrier group and that is exactly what the Chinese did back in 2006 with a Song Class diesel-electric submarine against the USS Kittyhawk. That was not a one-off. Here are several examples that a 5-minute Google search came up with over the years-

    1981: USS Eisenhower was sunk in NATO exercises in the Atlantic Ocean by Royal Canadian Navy Porpoise Class diesel-electric submarine built in Britain in the 1960’s, and wasn’t even detected by US Navy ASW assets.

    1981: During the same exercise the USS Forrestal was also sunk by an unidentified diesel-electric submarine, probably a British Royal Navy submarine.

    1983: the Canadian submarine HMCS Okanagan reached within a kilometer of the USS Kitty Hawk and prepped itself for torpedo launch before sneaking away unnoticed through the carriers destroyer escort screen.

    1989: USS America sunk in the Atlantic Ocean by Dutch Navy Zwaardvis Class diesel-electric submarine.

    1996: USS Independence sunk by the Chilean Navy German built Type-209 Class diesel-electric class submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

    1999: USS Theodore Roosevelt sunk by the Dutch Navy Walrus Class diesel-electric submarine in the Atlantic Ocean.

    2003: Unidentified US Navy aircraft carrier sunk by two Royal Australian Navy Collins Class diesel-electric submarines in the Pacific Ocean.

    2005: USS Ronald Reagan sank by Swedish Navy Gotland Class AIP submarine in the Pacific Ocean.

    2007: A Canadian submarine playing war with the British Royal Navy got close enough to kill the HMS “Illustrious” aircraft carrier.

    2015: A 30 Year Old French Nuclear Submarine ‘Sank’ a U.S. Aircraft Carrier Theodore Roosevelt. Information on this got shut down real quick.

    Yes there is a place for carriers but not as the queen of the seas like it was in the past. Those days are gone and you do not dare put a carrier against a peer competitor. Last thing – the author talked about “highly capable systems such as the US F-35B” and how they can be simply fitted to newer carriers. Not so fast. Those F-35 heavy jet blasts mean that carrier decks have to have their decks specially reinforced & armoured and the carriers have to be modified to meet the F-35s needs.

    1. rd

      I think China is largely focused on domination of the Far East while exerting economic influence on other continents like South America and Africa. Since they are relatively close to their area where they want to have influence, they don’t have to focus as much on “projection” of power. The US on the other hand has the same problem that Britain had in the first half of the 20th century, they have to project power globally, which has meant aircraft carriers. China understands asymmetrical warfare where all they have to do is prevent the power projection to have the power, so inexpensive aircraft carrier killer missiles can tilt conflict very quickly, similar to IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      This is why I am baffled by the all-out assault on NAFTA. I think a key to continued US strength is to have a very strong economic and strategic alliance in the Americas. Weakening our neighbors, forcing them to look overseas to replace us as a reliable trading partner is suicidal. Revisiting and updating the agreement every decade or two is smart to prevent it from getting stale and obsolete, But the “America First” bluster on this is stupid. I would much prefer to be buying South American made goods than Chinese goods from a global strategic basis.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Nafta didnt prevent millions of jobs moving to asia…mba=Move (the) Business (to) Asia…

        Aircraft carriers have always been an interesting mirage but since they are not designed to impact direct confrontation with china nor russia, what china and russia can do to them is irrelevant…they are currently designed to allow power projection across the pacific in case our friends or frenemies decide we can’t keep our troops there anymore…

        neither the chinese nor russians can project much military power 100 miles past their borders…

        Chinese got slapped by both Vietnam and north korea in the last few decades and mud wrestled with india the same week kennedy was tickling kruschev over havana cigars…

        Allowing the russian and chinese militaries the room to imagine they can have a global footprint brings reems of operable and actionable intelligence for future command and control diffusion opportunities…

        If there were some real intelligence in the us military intelligence community, someone might strongly suggest obtaining 200 year leases of unused or underused islands of Hellas and the Philippines in return for a big chunk of us treasuries today…and convert them into anchored air craft carriers and power projection platforms…

        100 Aegean islands in Hellas for 250 billion in treasuries today and 100 billion to the Philippines for 50 islands around the sulu sea…

        would require voter plebiscite with 75% plus of all voters in both countries to insure continuity but considering what a one time burp of that capital would do for both countries today…might not be a huge hurdle…(&/but remember, as someone pointed out last month, not only is my name greek, am an actual dual citizen…actual triple citizen if you believe rauls ramblings…)

        and would save huge amounts of money over the long run for the american taxpayer…although saving money is not really an option for the griftogarchs…

        But having our military do a bit of a rope-a-dope / drunken master routine is not a bad thing…

        There might be a method to this madness…

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        China will be tempted to project power in America or Europe, if or when they can.

        Being a global hegemon like like riding a tiger, and the Chinese know that well, for there is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: ‘He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.’

        And that’s not continued ‘US strength,’ if it’s through NAFTA. China has to think the whole project through if they seek hegemony over those regions.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        The one obvious question that is *never* asked, never mind answered, is: what would happen if the US simply abandoned all its current overseas defense commitments and withdrew all our military assets back to within our coastal boundaries?

          1. Oregoncharles

            Where would they park all the soldiers? Russia had a big problem after the Soviet Union fell, because they didn’t have nearly the housing for all the soldiers they needed to repatriate. Some stayed in Eastern Europe for years, essentially as guests.

            I’d wager the US would have exactly the same problem. And after housing, what about employment? I think it’s a great idea, exactly what I’d advocate, but it won’t be easy. And it’ll be even harder the way it’ll actually happen, as the empire dissipates.

    2. Craig H.

      Have you seen consultant Peter Zeihan’s presentations on youtube about geopolitics where he predicts American pullout from the middle east and inevitable wars between Saudi and Iran, China and Japan?

      One crux of his arguments is how almighty and great is the American carrier fleet.

      Here is one of them. His smugness is high on the insufferable scale, at least 4 out of 5 stars.

  9. Patrick Donnelly

    NYT article is a good one.

    There are nore people alive now than have lived and died in all human history.

    The growth is moderating, as wealth is trickling down or more likely, is not being so easily surrendered.

    From the point of beings of energy, the scope for entry to the material world through these bodies is vast. We should gain a lot of knowledge in this way. Top down should start to give way to bottom up!!!

    As if any human/soul is below any other?

    1. Paul O


      I think the accepted estimate for the number of people who have ever lived is actually around 108 billion. But ready to be shown otherwise?

    1. DJW

      Thanks for the link. I have bookmarked it to read later. There is a lot of reading there. I have read some of the referenced essays before but Forte provides an interesting context.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hospitals Wrestle With Shortage of IV Bags, Linked to Hurricane WSJ. The manufacturer, Baxter International, is located in Puerto Rico, and still has “intermittent” power. This in the midst of a flu epidemic:

    Are those IV bags plastic?

    Do patients get plastic particles in their bodies from that?

    Where do those plastic bags go after one-single use?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There is one possible solution for all single-use bags…not just one exceptional type of bags.

        Though, as a neo-Luddite, I prefer glass IV-bottles.

    1. Phillip Allen

      IV bags have been made of plastic for decades, at least since the early 1970s. Before plastic, glass bottles were used. The danger of contamination by plastic microparticles from IV bags is minuscule. My expectation is that used IV bags are collected as medical waste and incinerated.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Should we be against single-use IV plastic bags?

        Are some single-use plastic bags OK (handled by educated nurses), but not others (used by housewives)?

    2. JB

      re: Hospitals Wrestle With Shortage of IV Bags, Linked to Hurricane

      My father was in the hospital right before the holidays due to a combination of flu and a UT infection, and they didn’t have enough IV fluid for him. He didn’t pee for ~36 hours. Apparently, Baxter’s facilities in Puerto Rico can have a major impact on the health and recuperation of U.S. citizens…but will a lesson be learned from this? I’m skeptical, wish I weren’t.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The lesson?

        Don’t concentration manufacturing in one location…think the seismic active Silicon Valley.

        Don’t get all your rare earth metals from one country.

      2. Wukchumni

        In reading up on news articles, this flu is raging all over the world, and supplies of IV bags must be tenuous or getting there elsewhere, exacerbating import potential.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Don’t pirate or we’ll mess with your Nest, warns East Coast ISP Engadget (DK). Once again, any product marketed using the word “smart” you should run a mile from.

    Smart on the makers’ part to sell them to the buyers.

    The consumers make the sellers rich and…look very smart.

    1. Clive

      Yes indeed, I’m not normally what I’d consider gullible, but I was royally had by that lot. I still can’t believe I fell for the hype and ended up with a load of unicorn poop on my wall.

  12. allan

    Deaths of Despair or Drug Problems? [NBER, $5 paywall]

    Abstract: The United States is in the midst of a fatal drug epidemic. This study uses data from the Multiple Cause of Death Files to examine the extent to which increases in county-level drug mortality rates from 1999-2015 are due to “deaths of despair”, measured here by deterioration in medium-run economic conditions, or if they instead are more likely to reflect changes in the “drug environment” in ways that present differential risks to population subgroups. A primary finding is that counties experiencing relative economic decline did experience higher growth in drug mortality than those with more robust growth, but the relationship is weak and mostly explained by confounding factors. In the preferred estimates, changes in economic conditions account for less than one-tenth of the rise in drug and opioid-involved mortality rates. The contribution of economic factors is even less when accounting for plausible selection on unobservables, with even a small amount of remaining confounding factors being sufficient to entirely eliminate the relationship. These results suggest that the “deaths of despair” framing, while provocative, is unlikely to explain the main sources of the fatal drug epidemic and that efforts to improve economic conditions in distressed locations, while desirable for other reasons, are not likely to yield significant reductions in drug mortality. Conversely, the risk of drug deaths varies systematically over time across population subgroups in ways that are consistent with an important role for the public health environment related to the availability and cost of drugs. Put succinctly, the fatal overdose epidemic is likely to primarily reflect drug problems rather than deaths of despair. (emphasis added)

    1. a different chris

      So the answer is “we don’t know”? Well then, at least they are honest. I am a bit curious:

      > is that counties experiencing relative economic decline did experience higher growth in drug mortality than those with more robust growth, but the relationship is weak and mostly explained by confounding factors

      I wonder if – no I’m not asking, I understand I should go read the paper myself – they really did a good job of teasing out the economics. For example, the simple difference between using “mean” vs “median” income could obscure important effects within a geographical area. The rich kid parties with the maids kid, he gets help eventually but the maid’s kid never does. Hmmm.

      The thing that worries me is that this type of “it just the drugs themselves” conclusion leads right back again to the “War on Drugs”.

    2. Jim Haygood

      So it’s a supply side issue, according to the NBER. Maybe that’s why “we” are still in Afghanistan after 17 years, keeping the provinces safe for high-yield poppy cultivation.

      Got Roundup?

  13. fresno dan

    These psychedelic stickers blow AI minds TechCrunch (original). “Our attack works in the real world, and can be disguised as an innocuous sticker.”

    Other attempts to trick computer vision systems have generally relied on making repeated small changes to images to see if with a few strategically placed pixels an AI can be tricked into thinking a picture of a turtle is in fact a gun. But these powerful, highly localized “purturbations,” as the researchers call them, constitute a different and very interesting threat

    It was called the great turtle carnage fiasco of 2020, when privacy zealots mounted a “false flag/sticker” operation to draw attention to the dangers of total computer observation by placing stickers on just a “few” turtles and instigating a backlash (against surveillance, not turtles). Unfortunately, the placed stickers were read by the ubiquitous surveillance drones as an amorphous weapon of mass destruction threat, and the automatic AI threat communication and expansion algorithms assured not only were all turtles destroyed, but anyone- anything even remotely turtle related, e.g., turtle shelled glasses or driving a car buffed with turtle wax, was targeted for elimination.

    Government responded by the strict licensing of all stickers, as well as making it a crime to create material that in any way could interfere, without mens rea, with a security algorithm…..

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Don’t forget to cancel Thanksgiving.

      Eating will be a very risky activity on that day…for the dinners, that is.

      “What makes you, a very intelligent…thing, what makes you think a turtle is a pistol? What is going on inside that mind of yours?”

  14. geoff

    democracy hacked by the constitution? Do i detect a lament for Hillary? What about money in politics? Who do the superdelegates and the congresspeople who work for whom? Israel? The military industrial complex? Wall St?
    It’s a cute idea to say that democracy was hijacked by the constitution, but it hardly explains the democracy deficit in this country.

  15. Marco

    The Stahl interview of Margarita Simonyan:
    She mentions the US intervention in Bosnia as the turning point for Russian distrust. Is that reasonable? And is their evidence of US / CIA collision via incitement of Serbian nationalism to get the pot boiling?

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      That stinger, that the War for Croatian Independence and NATO intervention against ethnic cleansing courtesy of Serb Krajina swayed Russian opinion irretrievably against the West is mind-bending. It’s like Alice in Wonderland over there; the now free-floating rubble is swirling the drain because…NATO? One would think Chechnya would be where anti-US sentiment and rumors might coalesce.
      Further under Ms. Simonyan, every RIA Novosti manager was fired in 2014, and the entire organization was folded into Rossiya Segodnya aka RT, all watched over by the loving grace of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications. –It seems the West, Eurasia, and the East all suffer from the same sclerosis of corruption, stagnation, and politicians have no idea what to do about it. And each of the world powers seems to be plugged into each others complications from far away desks, reiterating the problems like the tangled proteins of a neuro-degenerative prion disease. Mad cow.–

      1. sixpacksongs

        Just skimming the transcript at the link, she is specifically mentioning 1999. That had nothing to do with Croatia or Bosnia. That was the civil war inside what was left of Yugoslavia in Kosovo. There was a ton of propaganda and obfuscation on all sides, just like in the previous Yugoslav breakaways. However, the bombing of Serbia, Russia’s “little brothers”, was a NATO intervention, not approved by the Security Council. It was the first independent out-of-area action by NATO. We managed to bomb the Chinese Embassy and RTSerbia and destroy chemical plants along the Danube casuing massive contamination, all in Belgrade. The Russians were indeed mightily p-ssed off and made sure participate in the post-conflict peacekeeping, leading to the Pristina Dash in Kosovo, where General (later Sir) Michael Jackson told Gen. Wesley Clark, “I’m not going to start the Third World War for you.”

      2. Carolinian

        Your blast seems a bit challenged on the facts of the Serbian intervention. Google up some Diana Johnstone or for that matter Alex Cockburn for an alternative view.

        As for the CBS interview, Stahl, not unusually, comes across as a real dope as she querulously insists on the integrity of US intelligence agencies or–even worse–the skewed media interpretations of same. Here’s suggesting the Russian media would have a long way to go to be as corrupt as our own.

    2. Ekatarina Velika

      Well, it’s complicated, as always in the Balkans… Russia and Serbia have historical ties that go back at least to WWI if not even farther. I would definitely recommend reading any of Misha Glenny’s books on the region, for example this one

  16. JohnnyGL

    Regarding the duck landing…the comment thread on twitter is enjoyable for all you fans of “Top Gun”.

    Possibly the greatest marketing tool ever made by the DOD. :)

  17. djrichard

    Why Tim Hortons doesn’t deserve your sympathy TVO From the article:

    Remember, major corporations employ 50 per cent of all minimum wage workers in Ontario; their concern appears to be not for their workers but for their profits …


    Then there are those corporate leaders who are suddenly weeping for the fate of the small businesses that they have been mercilessly squeezing out of existence over the last few decades.

    Pretty much nails it.

    I often joke on comments boards on other sites about how my business models would be unleashed if the minimum wage was reduced to $1. But I guess this goes the other way too. Would some business models (for small biz) be jeopardized if min wage was increased? Presumably so.

    And yet we have a whole other economy (corporations) that would be in no jeopardy what-so-ever if min wage was increased. To me this really points to the need for unions in these large corporations, to get a larger share of the pie. Of course, that’s not going to happen until corporate labor is not threatened by outsourcing to the global supply chain (through currencies pegged through unbalanced trade).

    Separately it’s worth noting that there is another economy as well of corporations which do have business models which would be in jeopardy if min wage were to be increased. Take Amazon for instance. Of course, Amazon can pass on costs to consumers, but there would be a concerted PR campaign against that to be sure. [Much like there is on the battle to preserve free trade (so that consumers don’t suffer don’t you know).] Anyways, these types of corporations would usually go under water and fold during recessions, as reduced cash flows from customers would kill their ability to extend and pretend on their debt levels. I’m assuming that won’t happen to Amazon, but even ignoring the min wage dimension, it will be interesting to see how the other “non-profitable” corporations (and start ups) weather the next recession. Perhaps the debt mongers would be willing to extend-and-pretend to bridge the gap, knowing the Fed Reserve and Fed Gov have their backs to bail them out?

    1. djrichard

      On that last point, it really does suggest that keeping corporations non-profitable is a great way to push back on labor. So dedicate cash flow to stock buy backs (and increased debt payments for same) and voila, you’re not profitable. And you still get rich, through the stock. What’s not to like.

      Or if you’re Amazon, you plow the cash flow into “synergistic” investments (CAPex and OPex) to cannibalize your competition – competition which heretofore was running at a higher profit margin and which therefore could afford to pay a higher wage to labor. Amazon to this new labor pool: “Greetings labor, you have now been Walmartized.” And you still get rich, through the stock.

      In the good ol days when labor used to have more power (when balanced trade was enforced through the gold-interexchange standard), I think corporations weren’t very profitable back then either. But the sense I have is that that was because there was less “trade imbalance” between labor and corporations – labor was getting their share of the pie. That is, it wasn’t because of cash flow being diverted elsewhere. Just for yucks, I took a look at corporate debt levels going back to 1945, and it’s hard to see much of a discontinuity in that when compared to GDP. See (which is on a log scale). Maybe the same game was being played back in what I consider the good ol days too. Or maybe the debt back then was used for more productive things, like creating new businesses instead of cannibalizing existing businesses. Hard to know.

  18. Ben Fitzkee

    Re: Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows

    I have lived 10 minutes from the town referred to in this article my entire life, and I can tell you there isn’t an Amish person living in the town. Other than that, it’s a fantastic article.

    I know a handful of people who work for Tait and Clair respectively and they have nothing but wonderful things to say about them. Thank you for sharing the article!

  19. Wukchumni

    “Cascading failures” strand thousands at flooded, frigid JFK CBS. The way we live now…

    My first flight to JFK was from LAX early in the summer of ’69. It was also my first time flying commercially, and as was the custom back then, I was attired in my best little 7 year old man’s suit as I smelt the intoxicating aroma of spent jet fuel for the 1st time. Not much in the way of security back then and upon entry my dad asked if I could see the cockpit and I got a 5 second tour, and i’d been prepped to hit up my stewardess for wings, a deck of cards and anything else on offer, just by asking. JFK was relatively new and so space age looking, the perfect 60’s airport.

    Sort of like the infrastructure in the National Parks currently, same era stuff, no longer adequate & no will & means to build anything new.

      1. Wukchumni

        Milk still came in a bottle @ the supermarket. It had a paper-aluminum foil ‘bottle cap’.

        The milkman and the Helms bakery truck were in their swan song in ’69, but Helms went out in style…

        “In the company’s final year of operation, a clever marketing campaign netted Helms a contract to furnish “the first bread on the moon,” via the Apollo 11 space mission.” (Wiki)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Recently, we had crepe for breakfast in the old Helms Bakery building in Culver City.

          1. Wukchumni

            The impact of supermarkets having bakeries in store, spelled the end for a name that every Angeleno my age or older knew well.

            I can still see those back doors opening after the Helms man stopped in front of our house and the smell of freshly made bread & doughnuts wafting @ me from within.

    1. ambrit

      Hah! We still have backwoods road bridges built during the Great Depression and just after WW2 in use down here. The DOT is just now replacing and raising road bridges on Hwy 49, a major thorofare, that date from the ’40s.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        If done right, bridges can last *centuries*. Visit Rome. It’s not the age; it’s how they’re built.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Concrete, especially reinforced concrete, has a definite lifespan limit. Apparently the Romans used a different formula, which we might want to look into, and their lasts longer. No steel to rust out, for one.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors WSJ

    I’m likely a small Apple investor, for, the last time I checked, one of my mutual funds had it.

    And this small Apple investor (presumably), and probably many similarly-small investors, have long believed the pair is toxic.

    But, alas, we’re just small and we have to listen to what big investors say…because they are smarter/wiser/more knowledge/more prescient/something???

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Life expectancy in America has declined for two years in a row The Economist. The deck: “That’s not really meant to happen in developed countries.” Everything’s fine.

    Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets (PDF) Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo. From March, still germane.

    Interestingly enough, the career-life-expectancy of American politicians is the highest ever. Many are in their 80s and 90s, being in politics for decades

  22. Wukchumni

    There aren’t that many fish left in the Great Lakes on account of the Quagga mussel invasion of the late 1980’s coming via the ballast of a Soviet ship, which promptly ate everything while breeding prodigiously, starving out 90-95% of their pre-invasion number. They probably need the anti-depressants!

    The Quaggas made their way west into the Colorado River system after the turn of the century, and are in every SD reservoir, as the Colorado River is where most of their drinking water comes from.

    A slow motion disaster is ongoing.

    This is what they do to pipes:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if they had anything to do with having to repipe my whole house.

      I was told by one contractor that it might have to do with a different disinfectant the water supplier here in LA (DWP?) has been using (adding it in the water) in the last few years that is shortening the life span of copper pipes.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      By the way, how does the Quagga mussel taste?

      Could it become the next unaffordable delicacy in Santa Monica?

  23. Anke

    Dear NC,

    Thank you as always for a very interesting selection of links.

    Regarding the article “Life expectancy in America has declined for two years in a row”, related to which I have read a few other posts somewhere else on the WWW, I wanted to mention (unless you already know) that there is a quite well-known French historian, anthropologist, demographer, sociologist and political scientist at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) in Paris named Emmanuel Todd, who attracted attention back 1976 when he predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, based on indicators such as increasing infant mortality rates.

    Having not studied the subject in detail, I do not wish to draw erroneous conclusions, but merely want to highlight myself the impact of a declining population on the overall welfare and future of a nation.


  24. cnchal

    Brad DeLong: Yesterday at the conference, ex-governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan told a heartbreaking story about a town in central Michigan: 8,000 people, of whom 3,000 worked in the refrigerator plant. Those 3,000 workers made a very good living for Michigan at the start of the 2000s—some 35 buck an hour, I think, in wages and benefits. But the refrigerator plant goes. And after it leaves they are lucky to make \$12 or \$15 an hour. And then all those who worked to satisfy their demands find their markets have halved in value. The refrigerator plant workers’ skills, machines, lifetime of experience bashing metal and operating things that form refrigerator coils—there’s really not much demand for those skills in central Michigan, and they find that they can’t transfer their skills to do anything else of great value. The principal source of their income was sharing in the rents created by the refrigeration value chain: their dominant market positions and imbedded technology. That kind of danger faces a lot of people who become independent workers. And the middleman firm does not have to close. All the middleman firm has to do is say: “I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further”.

    Stupid rentier metal bashers deserve their fate. Nothing about division of labor creating the wealth, and division of profits concentrating wealth.

    The next time Brad needs his car fixed, he can skin his own knuckles.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Thank you.
      But a new change is coming, and it’s blockchain. Before you laugh and spit your coffee, think for a second about “decentralized Uber”.

      Today’s Uber has three stakeholders: drivers (value creators), riders (value consumers), and rent extractors (Travis Kalanick just extracted $1.5B).

      But decentralized Uber has only two stakeholders: drivers and riders. The software in the middle runs everything, and value is created and consumed solely for the benefit of the participants.Who needs Travis?

      Take a look at Steemit, more than 1 million users in less than two years. The crowd rewards the crowd for their content, no Eric Schmidt required in the middle, pulling out his YouTube rents. And Steemit users don’t even need to know they’re using a blockchain. This platform works because it is a “Blockchain 3.0 platform”, not the slow ungovernable Bitcoin with ridiculous “mining” or the slow unmanageable computer sciences cluster known as Ethereum.

      *This* is “the blockchain revolution”, not the stupid crypto-currency schemes.

      1. cnchal

        Thank you for the humorous interlude.

        Where does the value come from?

        At its root, Steem is simply a points system. However, because this points system is blockchain-based, the points can be traded on markets as tokens. People buy and sell these tokens, and many hold in anticipation of increased purchasing power for various Steem-related services.

        By analogy, Steem is a game system where users compete for attention and rewards by bringing content and adding value to the platform. The rewards people earn are tokens that have market value and are readily tradable. It is similar to how someone playing a video game could obtain a limited item or currency by playing the game. If the currency or items are transferable between users, then they can sell or buy them on game item markets.

        All one needs is a personal version of AI (Assholish Idiocy) to generate “popular” content to get rich quick. Make points while sleeping, and then hold em.

        Great jawb opportunity for the underemployed metal bashers.

        You missed a fourth stakeholder in the current version of Uber. The dumb money, or as Yves calls them, Saudis.

  25. John k

    Progress, but no understanding that banks create money just like the fed does. And certainly no mention of Keen or his models showing how critical private sector debts can become. Minsky gets honorable mention, but didn’t see his insight that stability leads to instability. Course, no MMT.
    He’s inching into the real world, but has a ways to go… and even this will get real pushback from Wall Street because he calls for reg and oversight.

  26. D

    Thanks so very much, Carla, for the link above,

    As a cancer patient, who was outraged pre diagnosis [1] by the deservedly highly disparaged (internationally) DSM5 manual (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), I witnessed first hand, the horrid effects of that manual on the medical industry. Of course I’m traumatized by the cancer and subsequent economic crushing, but I’m not fucking mentally ill, get away from me. Worse, right after my diagnosis, a popular antidepressant was linked in a research paper to my cancer diagnosis. Long and horrid story, which for anonymity purposes, I won’t be relaying.

    Because it’s been made into an industry where the cause is ignored and the effect is increasingly mistreated when it can be gotten away with (no I am not all saying that some haven’t found a prescription medication and therapist quite valuable to their quality of life), it’s hard to comment on mental health issues and treatment without being mistaken for: A Scientologist, or representing Big Pharma.

    Not their fault, but those with mental health issues who are economically stable, generally have no clue as to how those who aren’t economically stable are misdiagnosed with mental illness™, then ‘treated’ (particularly when they have economic issues versus mental health issues). For just one instance, the poverty ridden are forced to take generic medications:

    10/10/12 A [forced generic – D] Drug Recall That Should Frighten Us All About The FDA – Forbes

    I don’t even want to know how many may have committed suicide as a consequence of what the FDA allowed to happen. Searching for a replacement generic cancer med for the initial successful one, but unaffordable for me, has near given me permanent PTSD after realizing what the utterly corrupted FDA has allowed Teva, Sun, et al to get away with and still operate, we’re talking about deliberately falsified reports, glass in cancer meds, etcetera.)

    [1] For decades I have been very close to someone who – for years – was stunningly ill treated to the point they are now severely physically incapacitated) by mental health misprescriptions and overdosing once they fell out of the middle class which once allowed them a possibly decent (and not overworked) therapist, TO TALK TO. Not at all to say it doesn’t happen to those in the middle class.

  27. D

    To clarify my post above, thankfully I never took that cancer linked antidepressant, or any others, yet found way too many, in positions of authority, veering me in that direction (a Ho$pital Directive ?).

    I desperately needed an holistic one on one talk, versus a new and untested med – for an illness I did not have – to mingle with my already cognitively destructive yet otherwise helpful cancer med; yet, I was utterly bludgeoned and traumatized by $cience! with no say whatsoever. ….

  28. JBird

    As one of my therapists once said, what they do in in public mental health is triage. It’s often a matter of how to help, and never mind curing, it is about preventing the worse as the public mental health system is underfunded and mental.

    The human mind is so complex, so difficult to even begin to understand that just finding out what is wrong, never mind what is needed to help, often takes forever to deal with, and it is often a moving shifting problem/cure also.

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