2:00PM Water Cooler 2/6/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trade Deficit Up 5 Percent in Trump’s First Year, Raising Stakes for Quick NAFTA Replacement Deal that Stops Outsourcing, China Trade Action” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “Contrary to candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to speedily reduce the U.S. trade deficit, in Trump’s first year in office the goods trade deficit is up 5 percent overall from last year, with the China trade deficit larger than last year and a 8 percent increase in the North American Free Trade Agreement deficit. Trump has not exercised his available executive authority to fulfill campaign pledges to limit imports, including those from firms that outsource jobs; label China a currency manipulator; revoke trade agreement waivers on ‘Buy America’ procurement policies that outsource U.S. tax dollars to purchase imports for government use; or limit government contracts to firms that outsource jobs. ‘Right now, the same trade policy that Trump attacked ferociously and promised to speedily replace is still in place,’ said Lori Wallach. ‘The first-year Trump jump in the U.S. trade deficit adds urgency to the administration actually securing a NAFTA replacement deal that ends NAFTA’s job outsourcing incentives and implementing a new China trade policy.'”

“Trump actually did little to try to ‘fix’ the trade deficit in 2017 and arguably made it worse by signing new tax legislation that is expected to add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. budget deficit over the next 10 years. At the same time, the economy has consistently done well throughout Trump’s first year in office, which in turn tends to push the trade gap ever wider because Americans are spending more on goods and services, many of which are imported from abroad” [Politico].

“It’s a matter of time before Trump and China embrace the TPP” [South China Morning Post]. “It is STRANGE that the world’s two largest economies are excluded from a regional free-trade pact…. Since Adam Smith first expounded it, the theory of free economics has always prevailed; trade will only benefit all under the all-important dictum of comparative advantage. And the eventual birth of the world’s largest and freest trading bloc, comprising the world’s three largest economies, will once again prove this tenet of capitalism.”



“Bernie may run again: But have Democrats learned anything from his 2016 campaign?” [Salon]. Yes. Yes, they have. They have learned never to speak of Bernie’s $27-per-donor campaign, because that might impair relations with their big dollar owners donors.


“While most in the political world accept the premise that the Republican majority in the House is in real danger, not everyone understands exactly where the GOP is in peril. Even a cursory glance at the map below of where the most at-risk Republican seats are reveals that it is hardy an even distribution across the country—instead, there are pockets and patterns” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. Handy map:

More: “David Wasserman, House Editor for The Cook Political Report, points out: ‘If Midwestern and rural seats will decide the Senate, the House will be decided by the suburbs. Of particular concern for Republicans are districts that include both liberal/upscale zip codes and/or major colleges and universities, and working class, pro-Trump regions. That’s where Republicans could suffer the most as a result of an enthusiasm gap between revved-up Democratic voters and the Trump base.’ …. The old adage of the late Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill that ‘all politics is local’ ignored the fact that about once a decade, we used to see wave elections, and now they are occurring at much greater frequency. The only comfort for the GOP is that we still have nine full months before Election Day for things to change.” Waves in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Voters keep voting for change. Change keeps not happening, or at least not for the better. How long can that pattern continue?

“Dems dominate GOP in cash race for key seats” [The Hill]. “Of the dozens of Democratic challengers who outpaced GOP incumbents, 22 of them are in races listed on the nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report’s 86 top battleground House races. Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to take back the majority.”

“Trump was elected by a dedicated plurality, promising to shake up Washington’s comfortable self-centered ways on both sides of the aisle. He’s certainly shaken things up from a style perspective, even going after his own party’s establishment leaders. Trump has, in fact, invented the political equivalent of fracking, finding and creating vast reservoirs of subterranean turmoil to exploit for sometimes murky reasons” [McClatchy]. Alternatively: “Quick! What big midterm policy goals are Democrats driving as alternatives to Trump and the GOP? You know, the positive talking points they recite in unison day after day on every channel that will have them?” Russia! Oh, wait. You said “policy goal.” #MedicareForAll? Lol no.

UPDATE Wisconsin: “Dane County is undergoing an economic boom, but its one-sided politics have huge consequences” [Journal-Sentinel]. ” Amid all the defeats and disasters Democrats have suffered in Wisconsin, there’s one spot on the map that gets brighter for them all the time. The capital city and its suburbs compose one of America’s premier “blue” bastions. Dane County’s liberal tilt is nothing new. But obscured by the Democratic Party’s statewide losses since 2010 is the rapid, relentless growth of its voting power.” Alert reader Left in Wisconsin comments:

Lots of interesting tidbits and some good photos (esp if you are curious about profit margins in the electronic health records business). Madison and Dane County are exploding with growth and becoming much bluer, which puts both parties in a conundrum: the pro-business R’s are having a harder time running against Madison, which is the fastest growing and the only part of the state that attracts young people from out of state; but also the identitarian D’s are more bubbled than ever.

UPDATE Vermont: “A Transformational Candidate: Hallquist Plans to Run for Vermont Governor” [Seven Days]. “Politically, Hallquist is a little tough to pin down. She’s in favor of single-payer health care and full legalization of cannabis and believes in a robust social safety net. But when asked if she identifies with a particular party, she cited the Republican former governor and senator George Aiken as ‘my favorite Democrat. He’s the kind of person I want to emulate.’ She’s a fiscal disciplinarian with an emphasis on efficiency. ‘I was one of the first American experts in lean manufacturing,” she says of the waste-minimizing, production-maximizing approach pioneered by Toyota — and touted by Scott as a way to reinvent state government. “Lean has been part of my whole life.'” Fiscal discipline being appropriate for the state level, Vermont not being a currency issuer.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Mary Beth Cahill to serve as DNC interim CEO” [The Hill]. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Thursday that former director of public liaison for President Clinton and longtime Democratic operative Mary Beth Cahill will serve as the committee’s interim CEO.” Well, I’m sure that Cahill will be totes even-handed and neutral. After all, Perez was.

UPDATE “The real fascists are the friends we made along the way” [The Outline]. “When Trump took office, the better part of the American commentariat was convinced that he was a fascist… What is strange is that nothing in the past six months of Trump’s ineptitude has done anything to curb any of this hysteria. Despite the failures, despite the lack of any indication that this White House possesses a coherent notion of strategy (much less an actual strategy), despite the fact that a Senate unable to pass the health care repeal they’ve spent seven years campaigning on is unlikely to pass a emergency powers enabling act, the scolding anti-fascism of our analysts continues… What [the #resistance] does, more than anything else, is say no to politics. When the choice is to be a fascist or to #resist, it hardly matters what the #resistance really stands for. Asking is suspect. Demanding that it stand for more is treason. Criticism of the #resistance or, more essentially, of its well-positioned and self-professed leaders, amounts to giving aid and comfort to the enemy — the Nazis! — and so the only acceptable course of action is to fall in line.”

UPDATE “In this formulation, racism is not a system but an inherent quality within an individual, proof of which comes when they publicly espouse racist views or use racist language. By formally classifying Trump ‘a racist’ (‘calling him out’), well-to-do liberals are able to implicitly deem themselves ‘non-racists’ while keeping the pervasiveness of the attitude that Africa and Haiti are shitholes where it belongs: swept well under the rug” [The Nation].

UPDATE “‘Mind-bending’ reversal now has Dems defending FBI, Bush” [McClatchy]. “A CNN survey released in January found that a slight majority, or 54 percent, of Democrats have a favorable view toward the former president, up a whopping 43 points from 11 percent recorded a decade ago.” But does it play in the suburbs?

UPDATE “‘Ballot Harvesting’: Something Is Rotten in California, and Heading Your Way Soon” [Washington Babylon]. From December 2017, but extremely important: “To get right to the point, the emerging political ‘art’ of ‘ballot harvesting’ is sketchy at best and flat-out corrupt at worst. Since you’ve probably never heard of it, ballot harvesting is the practice of hand delivering another person’s mail-in or early ballot to a polling place. It is often performed by paid door-to-door canvassers or volunteers working for political candidates. In the fall of 2016, a California Assembly bill was signed into law that allowed for unlimited ballot harvesting. What makes this especially worrisome is that half of Californians vote by mail, and that share is growing.” One-party rule….

Stats Watch

Lambert here: I take an “Open Thread” day, and Mr. Market goes nuts. Readers, my bad. The problem with being a bear is always timing, isn’t it?

JOLTS, December 2017: “Job openings are clearly slowing, down 2.8 percent in December to 5.811 million which is well below Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “Quits are on the rise, at 3.259 million for a 3.1 percent December gain that lift the quits rate by 1 tenth to 2.2 percent. This rate is still modest but upward movement here hints at rising confidence among workers to switch jobs in what could signal rising pressure for wages. But it is the falloff in openings that headlines this report, suggesting that labor-market demand may in fact be cooling in what could be a welcome plus for an economy at or very near full employment.” Quelle horreur! And: “Job openings are mostly moving sideways at a high level, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This is a solid report” [Calculated Risk]. And:

When the financial markets are in panic mode, it’s hard to get investors and economists to pay attention to lower-impact economic reports. Still, part of the issue hurting the stock market is a fear that wage inflation and a hot jobs market will stoke real inflation across the economy as a whole. What if this notion is already at risk?” [247 Wall Street]. “The jobs market remains quite strong, but the number of job openings in December was actually at a seven-month low.” So there’s hope?

International Trade, December 2017: “In bad news for fourth-quarter GDP revisions, the nation’s trade gap widened more sharply than expected in December” [Econoday]. “Demand for foreign goods is bad for GDP but it does point to a very strong national appetite. Exports are on the rise which reflects the strength of global demand and also the decline in the dollar which, on the varying measures, fell about 10 percent during last year. For GDP which came in at an initial 2.6 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter and was held down heavily by net exports, today’s data look to be an even bigger negative for the second estimate later this month.” “National appetite”? And: “The data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are increasing for exports and increasing for imports. However, imports are expanding faster than exports – thus the trade balance worsened” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers Services Index, January 2018 (yesterday): “Growth in the services PMI held at a moderate 53.3 in the final reading for January, a 9-month low and unchanged from the mid-month flash and down 4 tenths from December” [Econoday]. “Slowing output is behind the headline moderation but details show plenty of strength including job growth which remains solid and especially order data with new orders expanding at 4-month high while backlog orders rose at a nearly 3-year high. Another key sign of strength comes from prices with selling prices showing increasing traction and input costs, especially for fuel, continuing to rise. Despite the headline, this report is pointing to a solid 2018 start for the bulk of the U.S. economy.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, January 2018 (yesterday): “ISM non-manufacturing sample is reporting some of the very best conditions in the 20-year history of this series” [Econoday]. “Very solid growth looks to be in store for 2018 based on the January results of small sample surveys like those of ISM and Markit. The economy ended 2017 on a strong note and appears to have carried the momentum into 2018.” And: “Typically to start the year, [Tony Nieves, chair of the ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee] said non-manufacturing activity is average in January, with things starting to heat up in February, but with confidence where it is, coupled with more companies moving forward with capital expenditures plans, it shows they are moving forward and spending at a faster rate.” Capital expenditures is something you want a capitalist economy doing. And but: “Seems the two US service sector surveys are a bit at odds with each other” [Mosler Economics]. (“Moderate” vs “best conditions” EVAH.)

Employment Situation, January 2018 (Friday): “Note how the year over year growth rate continues it’s 3 year decline, and is in ‘stall speed’ with no sign of reversal. And last I heard a .1 change in the work week hours is equal to about 100,000 jobs, so the .2 drop last month offsets the 200,000 new jobs” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Heavy-duty truck orders in January hit highest monthly levels in nearly 12 years” [DC Velocity]. “New orders for heavy-duty trucks soared in January to their highest monthly levels since March 2006 as carriers and lessors emboldened by a red-hot freight market and higher rates placed their bets on thousands of units of supply, according to preliminary data from the industry’s top two trackers of commercial fleet activity.”

Shipping: “The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released full-year 2017 data for global air freight markets showing that global demand grew by 9.0%. This was more than double the 3.6% annual growth recorded in 2016” [Logistics Management].

Retail: “LL Bean starts employee buyouts, ends pension plan” [Bangor Daily News]. “The measures, announced last February, started Jan. 1, with the aim of reducing its workforce by 500 full-time people, or 10 percent of its 5,000 employees, said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem. Of L.L. Bean’s total employees, 4,000 are in Maine working in manufacturing, call centers, stores and administrative offices.” Oh no….

The Bezzle: “Exclusive: U.S. consumer protection official puts Equifax probe on ice – sources” [Reuters]. “Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The Bezzle: “The Company Behind Many Surprise Emergency Room Bills” [New York Times]. “Before EmCare, about 6 percent of patient visits in the hospital’s emergency room were billed for the most complex, expensive level of care. After EmCare arrived, nearly 28 percent got the highest-level billing code.” See NC on corruption in medical coding here and here.

The Bezzle: “Adam Neumann, a co-founder of WeWork and its CEO, admits that his company is overvalued, if you’re looking merely at desks leased or rents collected. ‘No one is investing in a co-working company worth $20 billion. That doesn’t exist,’ he told Forbes in 2017” [The Atlantic]. “‘Our valuation and size today are much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue.'” Alrighty then.

Mr. Market: “Fidelity suffers temporary outage amid volatile markets” [MarketWatch]. “Fidelity Investments experienced a temporary website outage Tuesday morning. In a note posted on its homepage, Fidelity said it was working to fix the problem. It appears the outage was affecting only the site homepage, as customers were still able to log in to their accounts. Fidelity joins a number of other discount brokerages, mutual-fund firms and digital advisers suffering outages during and after Monday’s market rout.”

Mr. Market: “‘Factor investing’ gains popularity” [The Economist]. “Definitions vary, but there are four or five long-established factors that seem to make shares perform differently from the rest of the market: size, value, yield, low volatility and momentum…. [T]he best-known factors have been too successful for too long for it to be a statistical quirk. Broadly, there are two possible explanations. One is that higher returns compensate for some form of risk. Smaller stocks are less liquid and more expensive to manage, for example. Value stocks look cheap because the firms’ businesses genuinely are more risky. Though they believe in efficient markets, with no easy ways to outperform, Eugene Fama and Kenneth French, two leading academics, have backed Dimensional Advisors, a fund-management company that uses size and value factors to pick investments. A second explanation relies on behavioural explanations. Momentum may play a role when investors are slow to realise that a company’s fortunes have changed for the better; a few cotton on early, driving up the share price, and then others follow suit. The low-volatility effect may be because investors instinctively prefer to buy high-volatility stocks which they believe will produce excess returns, leaving low-volatility stocks comparatively cheap. Another puzzle with anomalies is why they are not arbitraged away….”

Mr. Market: Panic illustrated (1):

Mr. Market: Panic Illustrated (2):

Be sure to read the thread.

Tech: “In its latest update on the App Store Apple reported that iOS developers earned $26.5 billion in 2017. A year ago the figure was $20 billion. The growth rate is then about 33%. The cumulative payments to developers can be calculated as $86.5 billion. This amount was generated in a span of less than 10 years, with the first billion paid by June 2010” [Asymco].

The Fed: “St. Louis Fed President Bullard Offers Market Support Over Hot Jobs and Inflation” [247 Wall Street]. “While many Fed watchers only assign high weighting to the Federal Reserve chair, and perhaps the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the St. Louis Fed runs the Federal Reserve Economic Data, or FRED, that is used by so many economists and market watchers for actual economic report tracking through time and for historical perspectives.”

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Wild Weather. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185,

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five are all up in the first hour of trading, though Apple still lags the S&P 500” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Feb 6 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 17 Extreme Fear (previous close: 40, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 68 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Feb 4 at 7:00pm.

Our Famously Free Press

The scarlet “R”:


“Erasing a Billion Years of Geologic Time Across the Globe” [Eos]. “The Great Unconformity (GU) is one of geology’s deepest mysteries. It is a gap of missing time in the geological record between 100 million and 1 billion years long, and it occurs in different rock sections around the world. When and how the GU came to be is still not totally resolved.” That’s quite a gap. More: “Now a team of researchers studying the unconformity as it occurs on the Ozark Plateau in the United States has found chemical evidence in rocks suggesting that the GU began forming toward the end of the Precambrian, between about 850 and 680 million years ago. Their evidence implies a culprit behind all of the missing rock: global tectonic uplift associated with the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Rodinia.” So now we know how Mother Earth cleans up any problems and reboots: Global tectonic uplift. Good to know.

“California’s other drought: A major earthquake is overdue” [The Conversation]. “The earthquake situation in California is actually more dire than people who aren’t seismologists like myself may realize. Although many Californians can recount experiencing an earthquake, most have never personally experienced a strong one. For major events, with magnitudes of 7 or greater, California is actually in an earthquake drought. Multiple segments of the expansive San Andreas Fault system are now sufficiently stressed to produce large and damaging events. The good news is that earthquake readiness is part of the state’s culture, and earthquake science is advancing …”

Health Care

“Why Desperate Families Are Getting Religion on Health Coverage” [Politico]. “Health care sharing ministries have become a more entrenched part of the health care system than anyone could have possibly imagined eight years ago, when they were quietly exempted from Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty. The plans were an afterthought at the time, with only about 150,000 individuals enrolled in the faith-based plans. The exemption was included by Senate Democrats as a seemingly innocuous way to insulate the bill from attacks by Christian conservatives. In the ensuing eight years, however, enrollment in health care sharing ministries has skyrocketed, particularly in states in which the individual insurance market has been beset by spiraling premiums and dwindling competition. As more people look for cheaper alternatives to health insurance, they are stumbling on ministry plans to escape Obamacare’s requirements and state oversight, but still satisfy the law’s individual mandate which, despite its repeal in the recent tax overhaul, remains in effect until 2019.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“The landscape of despair” [Hudson Valley One]. “Here in the Catskills, we all live in the shadow of the opioid trade. A little more than an hour’s drive from Woodstock, in the little Delaware County village of Hobart, is the Mallinckrodt factory, where hundreds of uniformed workers make generic oxycodone for one of the nation’s largest suppliers. I don’t know what Alanis Morissette would make of an Oxy factory in the middle of a county with a raging opioid problem, but ‘ironic’ doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s shameless, is what it is.” Lots and lots of good writing and reporting out there…

Guilllotine Watch

“Billionaire fed up with goose poop, says he won’t pay his property taxes” [MarketWatch]. “‘You can’t walk barefoot, can’t play Frisbee, can’t have your grandchildren run around [said Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano] . . . Here I am paying all this money in taxes, and I can’t use my property because of the geese droppings.’ ‘It’s a resident’s problem to take care of, not the town’s,’ [Town supervisor Daniel Marshall] told The Associated Press of the droppings.'” Privatize the Frisbee, socialize the droppings, eh Tom?

Class Warfare

“New Report Finds Class Is a More Potent Predictor of Incarceration Than Race. But Racism Drives It.” [The Intercept]. “The results cut against the conventional wisdom on much of the political left, which argues that America’s system of mass incarceration is primarily built on racial bias and discrimination…. Lewis’s conclusion is similar to that of scholar Cedric Johnson (who is cited as the competing view to Alexander in the report). Johnson, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, argues that ‘contemporary patterns of incarceration and police violence are classed in a manner that is not restricted to blacks and whose central dynamics cannot be explained through institutional racism.’ Instead, Johnson sees the modern prison state in the United States as a means by which Americans who cannot find decent employment and living standards are discarded.”

“‘Catalog Of Missing Devices’ Compiles The Useful Tech Products DRM Is Preventing Us From Owning” [TechDirt]. “DRM — and its enabler, the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA — ties customers to printer companies’ ink. It ties Keurig coffee fans to Keurig-brand pods. It prevents farmers from repairing their machinery and prevents drivers from tinkering with their cars. It prevents the creation of backups of digital and physical media. It can even keep your cats locked out of their pricey restroom.” If DRM really has changed the historical notion of “personal property,” that’s quite something.

“The Twisted, Confusing Logic of Katie Roiphe’s #MeToo Essay in Harper’s” [Slate]. “It turns out that Roiphe’s essay, which Harper’s published on Super Bowl Sunday, falls into many of the same self-devised traps as the #MeToo criticism that’s preceded it. She warns of a slippery slope that extends from anonymous accusations of harassment to widespread tarring-and-feathering of wholly innocent men, in the absence of definitive evidence that any wholly innocent men have as of yet been tarred or feathered.” I think “wholly” is doing a lot of work, there. Anybody remember Rolling Stone’s retracted “A Rape on Campus”? I do, not least because I bought into it, based on my own university town priors.

“A Political Philosophy of Self-Defense” [Boston Review]. “Because communities of color defend themselves as much against a culture of white supremacy as they do against bodily harm, their self-defense undermines existing social hierarchies, ideologies, and identities. If we were to limit ourselves to the language of individual rights, these interconnections would remain concealed. Violence against women (but not only women), for example, has a gendering function, enforcing norms of feminine subordination and vulnerability. Resistance to such violence not only defends the body but also undermines gender and sexual norms, subverting hetero-masculine dominance and the notions of femininity or queerness it perpetuates. Since the social structures and identities of race, gender, class, and ability intersect in our lives, practices of self-defense can and often must challenge structures of oppression on multiple fronts simultaneously.”

“Columbia won’t bargain with assistants despite union vote” [San Francisco Chronicle].

“Penn grad students just got approval to vote for a union. Here’s why that might not happen” [Daily Pennsylvanian].

“University Begins Negotiating Union Election For Grad Students” [Georgetown Voice].

News of the Wired

“African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia” [British Library Asian and African studies blog]. Gorgeous illuminated manuscripts!

“A newly discovered prime number makes its debut” [The Conversation]. 277232917 – 1. News you can use!

“Construct a Perfect Pentagon” [n+1]. On an exciting look at graphics standards manuals!

“Knocking Down a Steel Man: How to Argue Better” [The Merely Real]. “You know when someone makes an argument, and you know you can get away with making it seem like they made a much worse one, so you attack that argument for points? That’s strawmanning. Lots of us have done it, even though we shouldn’t. But what if we went one step beyond just not doing that? What if we went one better? Then we would be steelmanning, the art of addressing the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented.”

“In praise of slow” [Science]. “There really is no race. For me, running isn’t about being faster than other runners. Likewise, my goal in research is not to “beat” my colleagues. Mark Rowlands, a philosopher, academic, and runner, argues that running makes us happy because it is a form of play and as such has intrinsic value. I don’t run just to eat more peanut butter or to save money on psychotherapy (although these are strong motivating factors in my case). I run because doing so offers a glimpse of life’s real value. I now think this is the secret to being happy in research, too. I don’t do research only to get invited to conferences, see my name in print, or be promoted. Like running, research is a game with its own intrinsic value. Playing this game of discovery gives me enough joy to keep me going.”

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Matthew Smith):

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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. Wukchumni

    Lambert here: I take an “Open Thread” day, and Mr. Market goes nuts. Readers, my bad. The problem with being a bear is always timing, isn’t it?

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re all you’ve got.

  2. Jason Boxman

    It’s not just Fidelity. I couldn’t get past the login on Vanguard when trying to put in a stop for my ETF. I did succeed and subsequently got stopped out today. I managed to keep very minor gains. This is no way to plan for retirement, to say the least.

    1. Tim

      Stops are a great way to guarantee selling low.

      You do realize that the machines can see where the stops are and run the market down triggering an avalanche of stop sells and not to mention margin calls.

      It’s called the pain trade, inflicting the maximum amount of pain an the greatest number of participants.

      And that isn’t even considering flash crashes where the machines actually do to good of a job…when you check your portfolio in the evening your all sold out yet the market is significantly higher than what you sold at already.

      Don’t use Stops, just don’t.

  3. Wukchumni

    Sad photo of Wall Street traders reacting as stock market plunges.

    HFT # 146: “Did you see how they squirmed like stuck pigs when you pulled that faux flash-trade trick on them?”

    HFT # 382: “Not so loud, they still have power over us.”

  4. hemeantwell

    What if we went one better? Then we would be steelmanning, the art of addressing the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented.”

    A good idea. Somewhere in Gramsci, maybe in The Modern Prince, he chides a fellow communist for focusing on the most egregious mistakes of his bourgeois opponent. A more thorough job would address the opponent’s apparent strengths, thereby more decisively defeating him.

    1. Paul Cardan

      That’s very interesting. I recently read that Sraffa had the same view. He and Gramsci were friends. Sraffa was known to advise his students to challenge only the best versions of the theory in question.

    2. Tim

      I do that when feasible but as mentioned by others, if you are arguing with an idiot, it doesn’t matter, they won’t realize they’ve lost the argument, yet you’ll still feel like you’ve lost.

    3. Solar Hero

      “Steelmanning” was basic argumentation method for the Scholastics, see Aquinas, Duns Scotus, etc. Nothing new here folks

  5. taunger

    Steelmanning is not effective, in my experience. Interlocuters feel insulted or do not understand their original argument was weak.

    Steelmanning ends up a form of ad hominem, and the other won’t engage. Which, sometimes is a great way to end (win?) an argument

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The Steelman argument technique sounded like a good approach when I first read of the idea. But on reflection I think it all too similar to Cyrano’s nose insults speech to Vicomte de Valvert. In day-to-day arguments I agree with you that the technique can prove both insulting and confusing to many people. I suppose it might work well in a situations where you are arguing with someone to sway an audience to your way of thinking — a situation like Cyrano’s where the target of his scorn stands before an audience and cannot disengage without being judged the loser. But in the back and forth of day-to-day it would not make friends.

  6. Wukchumni

    A Paris Gun would be perfect for the job, but would he fit into the barrel?, as he’s 5 pounds over suggested projectile weight. (in theory)

    “The gun was capable of firing a 106-kilogram (234 lb):120 shell to a range of 130 kilometers (81 mi) and a maximum altitude of 42.3 kilometers.”


      1. dcblogger

        Please report back to us what the caucus was like. Reports from the ground are the absolute best.

            1. UserFriendly

              Noooo Otto is Sub Optimal. Against taxing the Rich, Breaking up banks, voting reform, and open primaries (even though we sorta do already). She is Sadly the 2nd best though. And she got 2nd place with 20%; final endorsements won’t be out till next round of caucusing and/or the primary if no endorsement.

              Tina Liebling is by far the best in the race, the only one that endorsed Bernie. Unfortunately she only got 6%

              Tim Walz who left is congressional seat to give it to republicans won with 30%. He should have stayed in the house. If he wins I’m not voting for him.

      2. Utah

        So jealous! Utah’s caucuses aren’t for another 6 weeks. I know everybody hates caucuses, but I really love them. I like the feeling of camaraderie with my neighbors. It’s like an every-other-year 2-hour family reunion with people whom you like.

    1. derechos

      Click on the image and read some of the responses to the fake tweet. So many thought it was real. He’s even had Snopes and the Washington Post involved. Fake news travels faster than the truth.

      1. Indrid Cold

        Snopes is some old lady with a cat. Part of the “nothing to see here folks! Move along” sector of Operation Mocking bird

  7. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 17 Extreme Fear

    If the F&G index goes below 10, we’ll label it “psychotic with fear.”

    Undeterred, the inverse volatility fund SVXY plans to slog on after its big brother XIV experienced an extinction event yesterday:

    ProShares, a premier provider of ETFs, announced today the performance on Monday of the ProShares Short VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSE: SVXY) was consistent with its objective and reflected the changes in the level of its underlying index. We expect the fund to be open for trading today and we intend to continue to manage the fund as usual.


    If it survives, as appears likely barring another VIX spike, SVXY could bounce back huge when the massively backwardated VIX futures curve finally normalizes — a process which could take days or weeks. Chart of the current pathological VIX futures term structure:


  8. Mark Gisleson

    Love the steelmanning post. Not sure if it was my liberal arts education or my late ’70s activism, but I can’t imagine opposing anything without first studying that thing closely. You should always strive to find what is good in opposing arguments, and acknowledge the weaknesses in your own. Study your defeats and try not to learn the wrong lessons from your victories. This is the starting point for anyone setting up a campaign.

    My mentors were liberal professors and old school Democrats. Everyone understood this approach back in the day but no one seems to think that way now. Now there’s always a new vocabulary, new words to get excited about because words will change everything for us, this time for sure!

    In 2007 I saw Hillary Clinton proclaim herself to be a progressive, but not one word in her subsequent speech spoke to progressive values. Instead she talked “tough” to us Yearly Kos attendees (now Netroots Nation). The notion that she would want to be on the same page as the rest of us — or even acknowledge which page we were on — eluded her completely.

    Steelmanning also sounds like the basis for a solid business plan, but there again vocabulary is now more important than understanding.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      ^^^”but I can’t imagine opposing anything without first studying that thing closely. You should always strive to find what is good in opposing arguments, and acknowledge the weaknesses in your own.”^^^
      Aye…for a more rational world, with less stupidity and gnashing of teeth.
      to my boys when they were little:”what’s the first step on the path to wisdom?”
      Them:”I don’t know”
      Me:”Exactly! Well done!”

      First, assume you are wrong…

      Socrates was a giant.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        This is all so alien to me. In the late ’70s we would sit for hours brainstorming everything that could possibly go wrong, developing counter-strategies for those bad things we thought most likely.

        Now we have a DNC that prides itself on writing inpenetrably dense, jargon-ridden communiqués while issuing secret orders to shadowy consultants who guide campaigns into the loss column.

        Believe me, Philadelphia’s coaching staff was obsessed with New England’s team. They didn’t spend the last couple of weeks talking about how stupid NE was on national TV. They sat down and figured out how their actual resources measured up against the Patriots, and then they maximized them.

        Consultants would have developed a positive scenario, framed New England in unflattering ways, and would have smugly declared themselves winners based on internet polls and yard sign counts in key areas. None of which has anything to do with winning.

  9. Carolinian

    the only acceptable course of action is to fall in line

    In what universe? Life without faction can be a beautiful thing. Perhaps the only rational response to our current political landscape is to ignore the whole thing. People who spend their day glued to CNN probably need help….

    The rest of us come here and to other sites, trying to glean nuggets of information where we can.

  10. Summer


    “A spokesperson for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) defended the tax law change in a statement, saying, “This is one of the many provisions of the law that removes special rules applicable only in certain circumstances in order to help simplify the code and reduce tax rates for all Americans. It is unfair to offer a special break to divorcees, saying the repeal prevents divorced couples from reducing income tax through a specific form of payments unavailable to married couples.”

    Really? It’s unfair to privilege one lifestyle choice over the other? You don’t say???

    1. Jen

      The change in question makes alimony no longer deductible to the payer, but not taxable to the recipient.

      I wouldn’t say that exactly reduces income tax in the way that Kevin Brady describes. However if I were to try to come up with a scheme to maximize resentment over paying alimony, I’m not sure I could improve upon the provisions of this change.

      My boss ’bout had a heart attack when he read about the changes, until he realized that they were not retroactive.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      “Cry me a river” – single people with no kids who are punished for both.

      When was the vote that we were all pro-marriage and pro-baby and wanted to incentivize as much as possible of both? I don’t recall that being on the ballot.

      1. Jen

        I don’t know, WOT. I may be missing out on some tax incentives by not having kids, but I also don’t have to feed, clothe, shelter and educate them. Expensive propositions, all of those. Can’t see how I’m not coming out ahead. Then factor in not spending 10 years of my life shuttling them to soccer/basketball/softball or, god forbid, hockey every weekend.

        Never owning a minivan? Priceless.

  11. HopeLB

    Hmm… I know Larry Summers, of failling up fame, was just on NPR worrying about inflation (wage hikes) but the timing of this historic Stock Plunge was just too perfect a distraction from the takeover of our government by the unelected, administration spanning, Intel/Military complex (Fox was covering it) for one not to become suspicious that this was some algo assisted, engineered warning to Trump.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been divorced from reality for a little over a year now, the country got to keep it’s president, and I was allowed to keep my sanity.

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s roughly the distance of a marathon to the first set of stoplights, from the other side of nowhere, here.

      1. HopeLB

        While the stock market’s illusionary highs were maintained, though divorced from the real economy of the 99%, were you saner? I’m no fan of either Trump or Fox news but do doubt the Red Scare.

  12. allan

    Last year’s slogan: Giant Meteor 2017.
    This year’s: Global Tectonic Uplift 2018.

    Gaia, do the right thing.

    1. Summer

      Remember “Polar Shift?”

      The better the tools of observation, the more discombobulated the information.
      Seeing things without totally understanding them, but insistent that it’s progress.

  13. flora

    “Erasing a Billion Years of Geologic Time Across the Globe” – [Eos]

    Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.

    Will Durant (1885 – 1981)
    US historian

  14. Baby Gerald

    Re: The Scarlet ‘R’ on Redacted Tonight’s YouTube channel-

    If you click on the warning it will take you to a Wikipedia page about RT. Careful readers will note that:

    1) the entry forbids editing
    2) there are no citations to any of its claims anywhere, and only one citation needed footnote.

    I think Jimmy Wales ought to be made aware of this nonsense, but fear that he might be cowed by TPTB into accepting this situation as it stands.

    1. Arizona Slim

      You should see the comments from Lee Camp’s YouTube audience. A lot of fun is being had. And you are welcome to join the merriment. Say hello to the deep state along with the rest of us mischief makers.

      1. RMO

        Is Youtube going to append the same sort of note to media from the CBC, the BBC, PBS, Al Jazeera etc. or is it just for sources which are currently on the Washington enemies list?

    2. Conrad

      It’s only semi-protected – anyone with a wikipedia account of reasonable duration can edit away.

  15. Wukchumni

    What, he worry?

    The Bezzle: “Adam Neumann, a co-founder of WeWork and its CEO, admits that his company is overvalued, if you’re looking merely at desks leased or rents collected. ‘No one is investing in a co-working company worth $20 billion. That doesn’t exist,’ he told Forbes in 2017” [The Atlantic]. “‘Our valuation and size today are much more based on our energy and spirituality than it is on a multiple of revenue.’”

    1. RUKidding

      Wha???? “energy and spirituality”??? Huh?

      I’ve seen 2 seasons of Silicon Valley. This sounds like a quote from that show… where it’s meant as comedic snark.

      As we used to type: OMG!

    2. Arizona Slim

      Oh, for crying out loud. I am coworking space member, and believe me, the only people who talk about energy and spiritual things are from one of the churches and ministry groups that we have here.

  16. Wukchumni

    Although many Californians can recount experiencing an earthquake, most have never personally experienced a strong one. For major events, with magnitudes of 7 or greater, California is actually in an earthquake drought.

    I’d say the one I felt the most was the Sylmar quake, 47 years ago almost to the day, a 6.5 to 6.7 on the Richter scale. I was just a little kid, but remember it violently shaking me the {family blog} up out of bed. That said we were too far away for any damage to happen.

    The most dangerous area to hit?

    Somewhere near the California Delta, where the usually reliable northern California translucent liquid largess passes through en route to SoCal. In a year such as this one with basically no snow in the High Sierra, if a temblor such as the 1868 Hayward quake took it out, the southern part of the state would resemble Capetown from a lack of resource standpoint.

    One of the many reasons we relocated here far from fault zones, is historically the biggest earthquake was a 4.1, which is the equivalent of an amusement ride.

  17. Daryl

    > She’s a fiscal disciplinarian with an emphasis on efficiency.

    Ah, this will set her apart from all the candidates that claim to be for inefficiency and reckless spending…

    Vermont attempted to implement single payer already. I guess the question would be, is she in favor of state implementation of single payer, and if so how does she plan to pull it off.

    This is really important. Federal single payer is a long way off given that most Democrats will probably drop support immediately upon gaining control of congress, if they do.

    1. Spring Texan

      I love single payer, but I do NOT think it will work on a state level, especially a small state like Vermont. Only national single payer is really gonna work. Conceivably it could work in a really large state like California, although I have doubts even there.

      1. dcblogger

        Canadian single payer started as a state (or province) based system in Saskatchewan (which back in 1966 had as small a population as Vermont). It was so popular it spread across the rest of the country. No reason we could not do that here. There are hundreds of single payer candidates running this year, that the DCCC won’t support them is an indication that they are for real. Most of them are going to win their races. You would be surprised how fast the ground can shift once public opinion in mobilized. Never forget that Reagan signed on to sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, it was not because he wanted to.

        1. bob

          I also think it would be easier with bigger states. NY and CA are both great examples. Here in upstate NY the largest ‘payer’ is the state. They are the largest single employer, followed by the counties, who are also normally within the same system, and large employers.

          That’s also before considering the medicare/medicaid people, who are also, in part, paid for by the state.

          Those together could be over 60-70%.

          The anti-trust shielded insurance monopoly (Excellus Blue Cross) makes it a lot easier to get cost estimates- they already act as a single payer in most of upstate NY.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Canadian single payer started as a state (or province) based system in Saskatchewan (which back in 1966 had as small a population as Vermont). It was so popular it spread across the rest of the country. No reason we could not do that here.

          I used to accept this argument, but see my comment on currency issuer above. (Though if California and New York formed some sort of compact, they might have enough clout to drive Federal spending.)

      2. Daryl

        Why do you think size of state matters? Negotiation power?

        I think the biggest hurdle is getting past the “OMG taxes are going up” stigma. Single payer healthcare should be beneficial to large employers in a state in the long run, or would be were not everything inextricably linked up with and parasitized by the financial sector. It’s well known that employing people in the US is much more expensive than just paying their salary and health insurance is a big portion of that.

        It was roundly defeated on the ballot in Colorado, in part because the state Democratic party helped to paint it purely as a cost-increasing measure, rather than something that is in fact beneficial to most businesses, especially small business and entrepeneurs, and only displaces an existing cost that is better hidden.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It was roundly defeated on the ballot in Colorado, in part because the state Democratic party helped to paint it purely as a cost-increasing measure,

          Liberal Democrats, when push comes to shove. Same with fracking.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I love single payer, but I do NOT think it will work on a state level, especially a small state like Vermont.

        The currency issuer needs to do it. We don’t want states cutting back on health care spending in a down turn when tax receipts fall, exactly when health care is needed most.

    2. Jen

      Mine is one of the two largest employers on the west coast of the Granite State, abutting Vermont. Both self insure. If these two employers can manage to pool risk effectively, and provide decent health insurance with 5000ish employees, surely pooling risk among 600K Vermonters cannot be impossible, so long as one starts with the premise of pooling risk and determining rates based on actuarial analysis, and not by creating some [family blogging] website for “consumers” to “shop” for health care.

  18. Darthbobber

    Closing lines of he piece on the inevitability of USA and China joining the tpp.

    “Since Adam Smith first expounded it, the theory of free economics has always prevailed; trade will only benefit all under the all-important dictum of comparative advantage. And the eventual birth of the world’s largest and freest trading bloc, comprising the world’s three largest economies, will once again prove this tenet of capitalism.”

    Leaving aside that we’ve confused Smith with Ricardo on Comparative Advantage (a theory totally out of favor until rehabbed in the late 70s, early 80s, thanks Paul Krugman) we seem to ignore the fact that most of the TPP 11 remain in negotiations with China on its preferred multilateral pact. Or that its bilateral arrangements with most of the 11 already give it most of the actual TRADE benefits of tpp without having to accept any of he “not litrall about trade but we’ll call it that” tpp provisions.

    It seems to just assert as a matter of catechism that this MUST be obviously beneficial, and that the benighted will eventually see that. But the text is actually more hopeful than triumphulist.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It seems to just assert as a matter of catechism that this MUST be obviously beneficial

      That is what I thought was so remarkable about it. I read the piece several times, looking for back-up for the claim in the headline, and there wasn’t anything other than ideology …

  19. Wukchumni

    “In praise of slow” [Science].

    “There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details.”~ Edward Abbey

    Boy, isn’t that the truth. It’ll take me a week to walk 60 miles and you can’t help but to notice everything en route, compared to something that can be done on an interstate in less than an hour in any old jalopy, where really you only can catch glimpses at most.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And now, let’s talk about the crapification of walking shoes. I only got 120 miles out my latest pair. Bought them last October and they are already flattened to the point where they hurt my feet.

      1. Wukchumni

        I heartily recommend Timberland White Ledge hiking waterproof lightweight boots, about $65 a pair, and I get 500 miles out of em’ before they fall apart a few years later, and onto the next pair.

        No break-in period needed, your feet will love them.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I heartily recommend Timberland White Ledge hiking waterproof lightweight boots, about $65 a pair

          I buy one pair of moccasins to walk in a year — I don’t really do hiking, but I do a lot of walking — from a local store, and a Maine brand. Two years ago, Sebago, manufactured in Maine. This year, same store, another Maine brand, which I can’t swear to, because I’m not wearing them so I can’t check. And the reason I’m not wearing them is that they never broke in properly. Made in China.

          So thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look into them when I buy next year’s shoes!

      2. Alex V

        If your feet don’t have issues, try “barefoot” shoes from Vivo or Merrell. They’re extremely thin, so no midsole to compress quickly. Take a few weeks to get used to as your feet grow strong enough to walk the way they were meant to. But after that, far more comfortable and my posture improved immensely.

  20. Tom Stone

    The Boston Review article doesn’t mention that “Sensible Gun Laws” in the South that disarmed poor people and especially people of color made cross burning a popular sport from the late 1870’s until post WW2.
    An integrated Army changed things, it was a lot less safe as a sport when the recipient of the light had an M1 carbine with a 30 round magazine and the neighbors had 12 gauge pump shotguns.
    Plenty of people yearn for those good old days…here’s looking at you, Ferguson County!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Met a guy from Georgia years ago while overseas that intimated that he was with the KKK. Had an hard accent that I believe is called a Georgia nut-cracker. I asked him if the KKK there still wore white bed sheets. He said no, not since Vietnam and now they wore camos.
      The reason was that since a lot of black guys came back from ‘Nam, they they were no longer putting up with stuff like that and were shooting back and white made them easy targets (I guess after fighting Charlie in the boonies that a bunch of yolkels no longer intimidated them). I totally cracked up at that but I don’t think he understood why.

  21. PKMKII

    On the Intercept article: Race might not be the primary factor behind arrests and incarceration, but it could, at least in part, explain the motivation or selling of the policies behind the arrests. You can have these “tough on crime” initiatives that pass and get support based on thinly veiled racial dog whistles, but the application ends up class based.

    1. barefoot charley

      African Americans are our society’s canaries in the coal mine–what happens to them first happens to more and more next, whether it’s “benign neglect” a la Moynihan in the 70s, wacked drug laws written to lock them up then locking everyone up, targeting their homes for bankster theft first, the list goes on. Race and class are kinda sorta almost the same thing, but race is more of it.

  22. Ed

    Will someone please re-assure me that neither Hillary nor the Canadian environmental minister didn’t classify climate change as an issue of sexism?

  23. John D.

    Years ago, I read Christopher Hitchens’ classic piece on polls, in which he made the case that professional pollsters generally tried to influence data by shaping questions that lead people to the outcomes their clients preferred. I’ve always had a vague – and at times, a not-so-vague – distrust of polls since then, and hearing that 54% of Democrats now supposedly love George W. Bush has brought that feeling back in full force. Yes, the asshole “leadership” of the Dems probably do, but if we’re talking about the vast majority of people who call themselves Democratic citizens, I recall the very real (and justified) hatred they felt towards Junior back in the day. That was the kind of hate that doesn’t go away.

    I can understand the same people stupidly falling for the propaganda that the FBI are our friends because of the oaf currently occupying the White House, but I can’t believe they’d backslide into thinking Bush is now a lovable, misunderstood nice guy. Possibly I’m giving them the average Democrats more credit than they deserve, but I just don’t buy it.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I can’t believe they’d backslide into thinking Bush is now a lovable, misunderstood nice guy. Possibly I’m giving them the average Democrats more credit than they deserve

      Based on my own (admittedly anecdotal) observations of close friends and family members who are otherwise very intelligent people, I don’t have the same faith in “average Democrats” as you express. Critical, independent thinking among Democrats seems to me to have truly gone out the window. A frightening number of these people are simply parroting their Dear Leaders. The FBI Russiagate BernieBro Clinton-Cannot-Do-Wrong Election Conspiracy swallows up everything in its path.

      1. John D.

        “The FBI Russiagate BernieBro Clinton-Cannot-Do-Wrong Election Conspiracy swallows up everything in its path.”

        I don’t disagree, but I’m hoping the Rehabilitation of Bush Junior might be a bridge too far, at least as far as the rank and file of the Dem Party goes.

  24. fresno dan

    “In praise of slow” [Science]. “There really is no race. For me, running isn’t about being faster than other runners. Likewise, my goal in research is not to “beat” my colleagues. Mark Rowlands, a philosopher, academic, and runner, argues that running makes us happy because it is a form of play and as such has intrinsic value. I don’t run just to eat more peanut butter or to save money on psychotherapy (although these are strong motivating factors in my case). I run because doing so offers a glimpse of life’s real value. I now think this is the secret to being happy in research, too. I don’t do research only to get invited to conferences, see my name in print, or be promoted. Like running, research is a game with its own intrinsic value. Playing this game of discovery gives me enough joy to keep me going.”
    I can walk faster than I “run”. For most of my life I thought you had to continually run for at LEAST 15 minutes to get any value whatsoever. Turns out if you run for 30 seconds, take a break, and resume you get quite a bit of benefit. So I run the side of a block and than walk the side of a block. Really improves my triglycerides, blood sugar and HDL.
    Its nice being out in the fresh air and seeing the plants. And today I returned a dog to his house who made a great escape. Why the dog hung out with me – no accounting for taste (well, the dog licked my leg enough – I did have that bacon egg burrito for breakfast….)

    1. marku52

      Dogs know dog people. Mine (who loves everybody) won’t go up to some people on the street. I can only assume she picks up that they don’t want to meet her

  25. The Rev Kev

    Lexmark, HP Using Patent Law To Try To Block Replacement Ink Cartridges From The Market

    Sounds right. My first printer was a Lexmark that came as part of a computer package. It was only a simple printer but when the time came to replace the black and colour ink cartridges, I realized that it would be cheaper to replace the actual printer which would have their own cartridges than to buy the replacement cartridges. Gaaak!

    As for How To Turn Your Cat’s Litter Box Into An Inkjet Printer, the solutions are obvious. Fit it with Bluetooth (Bluetooth fixes everything!), connect it to the internet using IoT and your mobile, or else do this-

  26. Wukchumni

    So did Elon’s Tesla that blasted into outer space on board the Falcon today, ever set a speed record for a car that will take some topping?

      1. ambrit

        I’ll cut them some slack since this was a proof of concept test launch. Until one has tried the machine out to find its’ flaws, you don’t try and launch anything really valuable, such as customers’ satellites. Secondly, well, stunting is Musks’ standard strategy, isn’t it? In that regard, he’s as American as guns and apple pie. I’m going to have to stop singling out America for calumny. This really is an Internationalist strategy now. [Oligarchicist strategy? Terranist strategy? Meritocratist strategy? Financialist strategy?] As ‘they’ say in Hollywoodland; “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
        Snark alert: Since Tesla claims the Falcon Heavy will have a payload to low earth orbit capability of 70 tons, it might not be enough to carry Elons’ ego into orbit. But then, I really can’t quibble. The man has succeeded so far in most of the things he has put his hand to. (The funding mechanisms for these projects are major jobs in and of themselves.) This may indeed be a “{family blog} you” to the 99%. This sort of behaviour seems standard in the ‘upper classes’ during the end stages of empires.

      2. vlade

        Technologically, it was still a major sucecss, as two of the three boosters got back ok. If all three got back, it would have been a great sucess. The TESLA bit on the top was more of an unpaid ad for Tesla than anything else IMO. As ambrit says above, you don’t want to put an expensive sattelite out on an essentially untried kit. This way, even if the car went out in a blaze of glory, it would be a good PR for Tesla.

  27. Octopii

    What, no news here about the successful SpaceX triple-booster Falcon Heavy launch? I know the general word on NC is that Mr. Musk is some sort of pathological government-cash-hoovering crook, but today that company showed they have real engineering chops and the ability to execute — that is, unless anyone still thought they didn’t. And they self-funded the project by reinvesting profits.

    1. Duck1

      Gee, great job guys, executing what was done 50 years ago with the WW2 war criminals.
      Can’t buy the heavy lift from the commies, I mean the Russians as well.

    2. Darthbobber

      Another decade or so they’ll replicate the Saturn 5. You don’t get why not everybody sees this as a life-changing technological event?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the asteroid-mining theory is probably right (I’d hat tip the commenter, but no time to look).

      I have a limited amount of time. Stunts don’t interest me that much. Grifters interest me more, but when the grift is repackaging known technology, I’m not all that interested. And it is not clear to me that the privatization of space is a good thing.

      1. ambrit

        Some things should not be ‘privatized,’ agreed.
        The core innovation here, and the word innovation is legitimately used in this context, is the reusable booster modules. Two of the three boosters of this Falcon Heavy were landed back at Cape Canaveral. One was lost trying to land on a barge out to sea. These units can be refurbished and reused. A major savings of resources. This is the real proof of concept for the Falcon class of rockets. Make earth to orbit launches cheap enough for smaller actors to get in on the ‘asteroid rush,’ and we have a feasible off earth economy possible.
        Earlier technological advances have been privately carried out. Think of the transatlantic telegraphy cables, or the original fire brigades, etc. Then, the polis muscles its’ way on in. Wasn’t Crassus supposed to have amassed great wealth by “leveraging” his sponsorship of a ‘Fire Brigade’ in ancient Rome?
        Still and all, to be meta snarky here, I’d rather Musk sent roadsters into space than some government park nukes in orbit.
        Excelsior! Ad Astra! And “To Infinity and Beyond!”
        “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”

      2. integer

        I haven’t been following this particularly closely, however the Tesla is being sent into a trans-Mars injection heliocentric orbit, suggesting that this endeavour really is about colonizing Mars, and not, as was recently speculated, asteroid mining. I for one prefer this goal; the last thing Earth needs is for someone to accidentally sling an asteroid into it (think dinosaurs). We’re facing enough extinction-level threats already.

  28. WheresOurTeddy

    Voted on today at Shasta County Board of Supervisors in far northern California:

    Resolution R4, declaring Shasta County a non-sanctuary county in defiance of California state law SB 54, which designates us as a sanctuary state. Original news item from when it was proposed in December:


    The resolution passed 3-2 today. Les Baugh, Steve Morgan, and Mary Rickert voted yes. Rickert gave a command performance of virtue signaling prior to voting in favor, in which she stated that numerous hispanic families had worked on her farm, and were great people, – members of her family practically! – and in fact, she even spent the better part of 5 years helping one become a citizen (ignoring or perhaps not realizing she had implicated herself as an employer of non-citizens), before voting in favor.

    Supervisors David Kehoe and Leonard Moty abstained, with Moty saying “this is a sad day for Shasta County” and Kehoe bellowing that this is an election-year political stunt, and a divisive measure that serves no positive purpose. Public comments ran 60-40 AGAINST the resolution before it was passed anyway. 2 retired ESL teachers as well as local social workers, activists, and other citizens spoke eloquently with their 3 allotted minutes each. Many were followed by thunderous applause.

    No one who spoke in favor of the law was a day under 50. They don’t call us Calabama for nothing.

    Hey look, it’s all the Supervisor’s contact info! Do what your heart tells you is right….

    David Kehoe – District 1 dkehoe@co.shasta.ca.us
    Leonard Moty – District 2 lmoty@co.shasta.ca.us
    Mary Rickert – District 3 mrickert@co.shasta.ca.us
    Steve Morgan – District 4 swmorgan@co.shasta.ca.us
    Les Baugh – District 5 lbaugh@co.shasta.ca.us

  29. allan

    Tronc to sell Los Angeles Times [Reuters]

    Tronc Inc, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, is expected to announce a sale of the newspaper to billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong, a source familiar with the matter said.

    Soon-Shiong, a major shareholder in Tronc and chief executive of NantHealth Inc, will also buy the Times’ sister newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the source said. …

    More on Soon-Shiong:

    Hughes questions whether University of Utah had a ‘Cinderella-slippered’ deal when it directed donation money back to donor’s company
    [Salt Lake Trib]

    Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes chided University of Utah officials over a $12 million donation to the U. that auditors said was inappropriately used to purchase services from a company owned by the original donor.

    Pointing to a state audit released Tuesday, Hughes faulted U. faculty members for not following state procurement codes that required competitive bidding for purchases by public institutions, when the U. awarded $10 million to NantHealth for gene sequencing as part the university’s Heritage 1K project.

    NantHealth, based in Culver City, Calif., was founded by billionaire physician and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong, who made the $12 million donation to the Salt Lake City university that funded the NantHealth contract. …

    The circular arrangement involving NantHealth was first reported by STAT — a news organization affiliated with The Boston Globe — prompting suspicion by tax experts and accusations that Soon-Shiong was using his donation to the U. as a form of money laundering. …

    Time for a blogging ethics panel.

  30. Duck1

    Gee, great job guys, executing what was done 50 years ago with the WW2 war criminals.
    Can’t buy the heavy lift from the commies, I mean the Russians as well.

  31. dcblogger

    Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri
    Voters in Jefferson County appeared to choose Mike Revis, a 27-year old Democrat, to fill a seat left vacant when the incumbent quit to run for county executive. With all ten precincts within the district reporting, Revis led Republican David Linton by 108 votes, or about three percentage points.

    If Revis’s lead holds, it would mark a significant swing from the 2016 elections, when President Trump won the district by a 61 percent to 33 percent margin.

    get ready for the November tsunami

  32. Wukchumni

    I heard a number of unabankers will be headed to the winner olympics, where they hope to meddle in figure obfuscating. Who doesn’t love the pageantry of glimpsing a triple dough loop or a debt spiral?

  33. Tyronius

    “Playing this game of discovery gives me enough joy to keep me going.”

    I know exactly how he feels. This is the biggest joy of my existence.

  34. Darthbobber

    Boston Review self defense piece.

    Meaningful collective self- defense happens generally for utterly non-philosophical reasons. Basically it gets shoved down people’s throats because they can only take so much.

    Grafting on a supposed philosophy of it really adds nothing and I haven’t noticed that the more successful examples really bothered with a theory of self defense as such, beyond an assertion of their right to do it.

    I noticed that while class gets a minor nod in theory (along with race gender and ability), they don’t draw much in the way of examples from numerous class uprisings that produced major results, seemingly preferring movements whose main end achievement was a romantic literature later associated with them.

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