2:00PM Water Cooler 3/14/2018 (with Anti-Apple Rant)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’m putting “Apple” in the headline so some crawler picks it up and feeds it to some Apple cube-dweller who will then trash it, because this rant doesn’t have anything to do with making hardware thin, or removing ports so users are forced to purchased dongles to use their existing hardware, or anything else that Apple cares about, like flimsy apps as opposed to productive applications.

Preamble: I was developing Table I for my latest worksheet on the mid-terms, adding a new column for “Challengers.” As you can see, there’s a lot of formatting going on in the cells of that column: Bold, italic, colors, lots of links. Since I was creating the table in the OpenOffice spreadsheet — I wanted to be able to sort — and then exporting the table as HTML to incorporate it into an NC post, I first created a small test file. Everything exported perfectly. I then spent six or seven hours adding the links. (Not wasted effort, since I expect to use those links over and over).

I then exported the table. OpenOffice crashed. When I recovered the file, the formatting in the “Challengers” column was all gone, except for three or four links. (I recreated the table today, using an HTML editor.)

The Main Act: I sought another spreadsheet, one that wouldn’t crash and eat all my work. The online documentation I could find for Microsoft Word said that I couldn’t put more than one link in a cell, except by using Visual Basic, and I required more than one (as you can see). Good thing I checked before laying out any money. I then checked to see if Apple made a spreadsheet that met my simple requirement: Indeed it did: Numbers.

I downloaded Numbers and attempted to install it. It failed: I have Mac OS version 10.11.6; it demands 10.13, and 10.13 only. The dreaded High Sierra.

Well, maybe it’s time to upgrade after all. I go through the tedious exercise of proving my identity to the horrid Apple store and download what turns out to be an Installer for High Sierra.

I click the Installer. Nothing happens for many minutes — this is apparently the Installer downloading what it needs or checking the hard disk or going out for coffee or something — until I get an approval dialog to actually download the software.

Enter password.


[Long pause].

Notification that installing High Sierra will take, oh, around fourteen (14) hours. Fine…

There’s a progress bar, but it doesn’t move for long periods of time, and the time remaining inexplicably does not change.

Nothing is happening, but it’s hard to see hours of downloading as a sunk cost.

Finally, I have the bright idea to open the Log window, and yes, stuff is periodically happening… Until it doesn’t.

I check the log again, after a half-hour or so of nothing. The last line reads:

softwareupdate_notify_agent[43094]: AssertionMgr: Cancel com.apple.softwareupdate.NotifyAgentAssertion assertion for pid 43094

OK, I get that. The installer cancelled the installation. Do you see what that means?

The only way I can tell if the Installation has failed is by checking the log file.

Which a dull normal will never think to do.

I cancel, and try again. Surely the Installer is clever enough to have saved the *.dmg files is already downloaded, so I don’t have wait for it to start the whole process again from the beginning?

Silly me. This install fails, too, after several hours, but at a different point. With, naturally, no error message or any indication of what to do or who to contact.

Apple, this is literally, as the kids say, the worst UI/UX I have ever had. I don’t know why whichever idiot wrote the installer didn’t even have the courtesy — heck, the simple human decency — to write a progress bar that actually informed the user of progress being made. Steve Jobs would have ripped out their windpipe with his bare hands, and good for him, too.

Except the person who made it impossible for me to upgrade to High Sierra — although this may have been a blessing in disguise, since at least all my data is intact — wasn’t an idiot at all, were they?

Your horrid High Sierra installation process isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. You don’t want me to be able to upgrade this machine in the hopes that I’ll buy a new one. It’s exactly the same strategy that you used with your iPhone battery scam. Jobs may have been a psycho, but at least his business model didn’t involve ripping off his customers.

Over my dead body, “Tim” — if I may call you “Tim” — will you force me to spend any more money on Mac hardware. Take your stock options and your ginormous salary and get stuffed. Bloody your nose by walking into a glass wall or something.

Signed, Mac User Since The 512KE

Addendum: So, around ten or twelve hours for the post, and my Mac tied up for six or eight hours, since I didn’t dare move it away from an Internet connection, or challenge it in any way. Well played, all. The post is worth reading, IMNSHO.

* * *

Patient readers, having ranted, I will now proceed to a normal Water Cooler in due course. –Lambert UPDATE 4:15PM All done.


“Experts expect China’s retaliation to be swift and harsh, especially against U.S. exporters like U.S. farmers who rely on the Chinese market as a major destination for soybeans, pork and other commodities” [Politico]. “”I think China is going to have to respond. The question is, are they going to do that in a targeted way or are they going to escalate dramatically,’ said Matthew Goodman, a senior adviser and Asian economic expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”



PA-18: “Pennsylvania race still too close to call but Republicans already spinning a loss by Saccone” [USA Today] (although, in a classy gesture, Lamb has already declared victory). “A source familiar with GOP thinking who was not authorized to talk about Saccone’s strategy Wednesday said Republicans were preparing to petition for a recount. Because the race is not statewide, no automatic recount will be triggered even if Lamb’s lead is just a fraction of a point.”

PA-18: “As of this writing, Democrat Conor Lamb is clinging to a lead of roughly 600 votes in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. There are probably not enough uncounted votes out there for Republican Rick Saccone to pull out the win” [RealClearPolitics]. “There are over 100 districts that are bluer than this one. While not all of them will feature Republican retirements, Democrats who are perfectly tailored for the electorates, and problematic Republicans, a lot of them will. ”

PA-18: The story is turnout:

After we’ve seen what the Democrats have been doing to boost turnout, I shudder to think what Republicans can do, when they put their minds to it.

PA-18: “Pennsylvania 18: A Red Flag for the GOP” [Roll Call]. “The real story is Saccone badly underperforming Trump. Clearly, either some Trump voters didn’t turn out, or other Trump voters defected to Lamb. Or both things happened. No matter what, the result is a problem for Republicans in western Pennsylvania but also in other suburban areas…. Of course, there are always reasons to be cautious about reading too much into the results of a special election, especially when we don’t have exit polling to help us understand who voted and how demographic groups behaved….. Finally, the election demonstrated once again that it is unwise to over-value second-tier polls in state and local races.” A pleasing lack of pom-pom waving.

PA-18: “Republicans backed away from their signature tax-cut law in the final days of a closely watched special House election in the Pittsburgh suburbs — even though it’s the very accomplishment on which they had banked their midterm election hopes” [Politico]. But here is the key point: “And even in surveys that show greater support for the law than other polls, like the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, few voters report seeing more money in their paychecks this year as a result of changes to the tax code.” And that is the sort of thing voters notice; the Republian equivalent for universal concrete material benefits (systemically destructive though it is, it’s nice to have a little more money right now.

PA-18: “12 Thoughts Without Even Knowing Who Won in Pennsylvania” [Nathan Gonzales, Inside Elections]. Technical and well worth a read. This is interesting: “in Pennsylvania’s 18th, House Majority PAC, the go-to Democratic outside group on the House side, contributed $347,500 to VoteVets, which happened to make a $350,000 independent expenditure for a television ad, “Look Closely.” VoteVets seems like a better messenger in this race compared to a super PAC aligned with Democratic leadership.” So, it takes two levels of indirection to launder away the awfulness of the liberal Democrat brand. Everything is fine.


PA-18: “Lamb’s victory suggests it may again be possible for both wings of the Democratic Party to work together” [The Nation]. “Unlike Laura Moser, whose support for Sanders got her monstered by the DCCC, Lamb was not attacked by embittered Clintonites—or by the Fight for $15 crowd or the Single-Payer-or-Bust brigade. As Bernie Sanders showed in his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the left has a long history of working for candidates who don’t agree with us on every issue. So far, though, the traffic has been mostly one way. And Conor Lamb’s upset victory, sweet as it is, has done nothing to change that.” No, it doesn’t, at least theoretically, since Lamb’s district is going away; not a hill to die on. That said, there’s only one way to make the “the traffic” two-way: Challenge liberal candidates where found. And start beating them.

PA-18: “[T]he DCCC was comfortable looking past Lamb’s dig at Pelosi and quietly funneling $1 million into his campaign that funded field staff and get-out-the-vote efforts, while the committee’s progressive critics—such as Our Revolution, Democracy for America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Justice Democrats—left Lamb off their endorsement lists” [Politico],

PA-18: “In a whopping 110 Republican-held House districts across the country, Trump won in 2016 by less than he did in Pennsylvania’s 18th. Democrats only need to win 24 of them to take back a House majority in November” [Rolling Stone]. “Lamb, for all his fresh-faced charm, ran and won as a Trump Democrat – a flashback to the “Republican Lite” candidacies the Democrats specialized in during the Clinton ’90s and ’00s. He was so reluctant to criticize the president that NBC reporter Kacie Hunt made it her mission on Tuesday to ask him about Trump and try to extract something. Lamb wouldn’t rise to the bait.” Same Democrat playbook as 2006: Blue Dogs like Conor Lamb and Doug Jones are a the leadership’s firewall against #MedicareForAll.

PA-18, for the sake of completeness: “Democrats Can Run the Conor Lamb Strategy Over and Over” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. Moar veterans!


More like this, please. Well, sorta:

New Cold War

Many people think that torture is bad:

But for some, the idea that torture is bad is very new:

And others think we should “look forward” and not back;

After all, if we prosecute torturers for war crimes in 2009, how do we appeal to suburban Republican types in 2018, let alone run MILO candidates? THINK, people!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward”:

Twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom…

“The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party” [Damon Linker, The Week]. “Faction #1: The centrist establishment… Faction #2: The economic populists… Faction #3: The multicultural populists.” Personally, I think factions #1 and #3 are the same faction, at least in the sense that they are united in their animus to faction #2.

“Polk County voters report issues with Iowa ID law during sales tax election” [Des Moines Register]. “Voters on Tuesday were asked to present an ID. Those who could not were supposed to sign an oath verifying their identity and receive a regular ballot…. Sasek said he was told that he’d need to show an ID before voting. He pushed back… Sasek said the exchange was cordial — “These are my neighbors” — and eventually he was allowed to sign an oath and cast a regular ballot.” Gotta root out that attitude…

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, February 2018: “The big tax cut isn’t being passed to the nation’s retailers. Retail sales once again missed expectations badly” [Econoday]. “The job market may be high and confidence near long-term time highs but the consumer is definitely not on a spending spree.” Maybe the job market just isn’t all that high? More: “But there really should be no alarm on the consumer as retail sales in fact remain positive, evident in the total year-on-year rate….” And but: “Worse than expected and now down for the last three months, not adjusted for inflation. And all in line with the narrative about personal income going flat and the falling savings rate” [Mosler Economics]. And but: “This was a disappointing report – many were expecting a bounce back from the previous month’s soft reports” [Econintersect]. “still, our analysis says this months’ growth was above average for the growth seen in the last 12 months.” And but: “The increase in February was well below expectations, however sales in January were revised up (although sales in December were revised down). A disappointing report” [Calculated Risk].

Business Inventories, January 2018: “Inventory growth proved strong in January, up 0.6 percent led by a 0.8 percent gain for wholesalers and a 0.7 percent build for retailers and including a 0.3 percent inventory rise at manufacturers” [Econoday]. “Builds in February and March, however, are not certain given a decline in total sales which fell 0.2 percent and which does not point to the need for restocking.” But: “Inventories are elevated this month. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3 month rolling averages for sales – was little changed and remains in expansion. As the monthly data has significant variation, the 3 month averages are the way to view this series. Overall business sales are improving since the low point in 2015” [Econintersect].

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), February 2018: “Prices at the wholesale level proved soft in February” [Econoday]. “However much price readings may be soaring in reports like the Philly Fed or the ISM, today’s results, which follow yesterday’s consumer price report and last week’s average hourly earnings data, confirm the month of February as a subdued one for inflation.” Surveys don’t match the data, film at 11. And: Although the monthly growth numbers appear high, the year-over-year numbers changed little from last month – except for unprocessed goods for intermediate demand which doubled” [Econintersect].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, March 2018: “Year-ahead inflation expectations among businesses edged 1 tenth higher in March to what is a still subdued rate” [Econoday].

Commodities: “Here’s a supply-chain problem that’s leaving a sour taste in the food industry. Global prices for vanilla are climbing as supplies of the staple food ingredient wane and production in agriculture markets is falling far behind demand” [Wall Street Journal].

Retail: “How Amazon’s Bottomless Appetite Became Corporate America’s Nightmare” [Bloomberg]. “No other company in Amazon’s ballpark is growing as quickly. Its roughly $180 billion in annual sales remains dwarfed by Walmart’s $500 billion, but sales at the big-box retailer inched up 3 percent in the year ended on Jan. 31. Amazon’s revenue rose at least 25 percent in 2017, excluding sales from Whole Foods. That also means Amazon is growing faster than it did three years ago, when it was half its present size.”

Retail: “Is the Retail Industry Dying?” [247 Wall Street]. “A recent report by Deloitte would argue against it, suggesting instead that in fact a retail renaissance is occurring…. With retail sales increasing 3.5% in 2017, compared to a gross domestic product growth rate of 2.3% the same year, the retail sector is showing signs of healthy growth; thus, the so-called retail apocalypse is a myth, according to a new study from Deloitte…. Rather than a battle of online against brick-and-mortar, Deloitte found that retail is changing in line with consumer income bifurcation, with both high-end and price-conscious retailers seeing revenues soar….” Readers, are you seeing this?

Shipping: “LA area Port Traffic Increases YoY in February” [Calculated Risk]. “Container traffic gives us an idea about the volume of goods being exported and imported – and usually some hints about the trade report since LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation’s container port traffic…. Trade has been strong – especially inbound – and setting record volumes most months recently. In general imports have been increasing, and exports are mostly moving sideways recently.”

Shipping: “It’s no wonder U.S. freight channels are overflowing. Container imports into the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach soared more than 32% from a year ago in February…, as strong economic growth and a push to restock inventories ahead of the Lunar New Year came together at the Southern California gateways” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]ruckload carriers and logistics operators say they’re still coping with the flood of February shipments and most economic signals suggest no letup in demand.

The Bezzle: “People Are Suing Equifax in Small-Claims Court and It’s Totally Brilliant. Here’s Why” [Inc.] ” I imagine it’s unlikely Equifax thought it would be dealing with individual plaintiffs, suing for fairly small dollar amounts, in very informal courtrooms across the country…. Ultimately, Haigh won an $8,000 judgment against the credit reporting giant–later reduced to $5,500 on appeal. In the process, his company started funding other people’s small claims suits against Equifax, too.” And $5K is not nothing.

The Bezzle: “The 600+ Companies PayPal Shares Your Data With” [Schneir on Security]. Here’s a handy visualization.

The Bezzle: “Theranos, CEO Holmes, and Former President Balwani Charged With Massive Fraud” [United States Securities and Exchange Commission]. “The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Silicon Valley-based private company Theranos Inc., its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, and its former President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani with raising more than $700 million from investors through an elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.” No jail time. Naturally.

Transportation: “Dog’s death on United flight should result in family being ‘significantly compensated’, says lawyer of man dragged from flight” [MarketWatch]. Now, whenever you put your luggage in an overhead bin on a United flight, you can wonder whether a dog died in that bin. Maybe United should put up a plaque or something. To clarify.

Transportation: ” Volkswagen aims to sell three million electric vehicles a year by 2025, dwarfing the sales of 102,807 high-end cars that Tesla reported last year. Global demand for electric cars is still only a tiny fraction of new-car sales, and it is far from certain that huge investments by car makers will pay off. But Volkswagen is spending big to ensure a flow of batteries from suppliers in China and South Korea for its production line” [Wall Street Journal].

Honey for the Bears: “Should Investors Be Concerned That More CEOs Are Abandoning Ship?” [247 Wall Street]. There’s a trope right on the tip of my mind… Something about “sinking ships”…. I know it’ll come to me….

Five Horsemen: “Amazon carries on its Battle of the Round Number at $1,600 a share, as its Big Tech counterparts tread water” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen March 14 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Mania-panic index holds steady at 56 (complacency) as yesterday’s market decline exerts little impact on its seven component series” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index March 13 2018

Class Warfare

“Socialist Survivalism: A Democracy Beyond Democracy” [Melville House]. “Right now, everybody feels as if they have been thrown into a situation that no one asked for, no one understands, and no one knows how to respond to, including conservatives. For their part, the oligarchs are trying to stay calm.” This quite a rant.

“Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now” [Aeon]. “The greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced.”

News of The Wired

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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 (MQ):

MQ writes: “A few pics from our family reunion just an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on the West coast.” It seems that there’s no more snow in Puerto Vallarta!

* * *

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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. Rob P

    “She Tortured Just for the Sake of Torture”: CIA Whistleblower on Trump’s New CIA Pick Gina Haspel

    AMY GOODMAN: So talk about why you and others called her “Bloody Gina.”

    JOHN KIRIAKOU: We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. You know, there was a group of officers in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, when I was—when I was serving there, who—I hate to even make the accusation out loud, but I’m going to say it: who enjoyed using force. Yeah, everybody knew that torture didn’t work. That’s not even the issue. Lots of different things work. Was it moral, and was it ethical, and was it legal? I think the answers to those questions are very clearly no. But Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information.

          1. Mel

            Actually, the whole point of it is to get people to say particular words. And you thought you were joking.

        1. ambrit

          She’s at The Company dude! How more kinky can you be? I could see her embroidering the pillows at the Circus, or perhaps The Dungeon, like after midnight, natch. Is Lafittes In Exile too respectable for her? Mebbe so.

      1. Lee

        As a male, I’m glad that women are stepping up and relieving men of the burdens of violent aggression. “You want that guy’s ass kicked, that country invaded? Do it yourself.”

        I blame evolution for the traditional gender roles. So far as preservation of the species is concerned, men are or more expendable than women. With the notable exception of childbirth, men are assigned by nature to to perform the physically riskier roles in work and war. Ah, but now we are slipping the bonds of natural selection through technology and culture. The next great mile marker will be reached, not necessarily with more female CEOs or heads of state but when women are required to register for the draft. Good luck out there!

        1. shinola

          Perhaps if the draft was re-instated AND included women, Americans might just pay a bit more attention to what the military is doing in all those MENA countries.
          Maybe even see a little more resistance to beat of the war drums.

          1. Lee

            U.S. males are still required to register for the draft. If they fail to do so, they can be denied a variety of social benefits.

            1. Procopius

              I would like to see an estimate of how many are failing to register, and where they are located. My bet would be that the South is more compliant with the requirement, because Southerners predominate in the Armed Services. They have more of a military heritage, going back to their Cavalier heritage.

        2. Temporarily Sane

          If humans organize their relationships and societies acccording to archaic evolutionary drives that still hold sway despite the living conditions that gave form to them having been eclipsed a hundred thousand years ago, then surely evolution can’t explain why elite American feminists celebrate the most violent, brutal and harmful aspects of traditionally male power and consider women who become torturers, war mongers, corrupt politicians or corporate fraudsters the pinnacle of the liberal feminist vanguard. Nor can it explain why some women are eager to play this role.

          Unless evolution itself evolved, the social changes that freed western women from the constraints of the domestic realm and childbirth are far too recent phenomena to have any impact at the genetic level.

          An unscientific overeliance on the evolution heuristic leaves no room for social influences and leads to a determinism that since Darwin’s time has been used to conveniently explain away less-than-savory manifestations of ruling class power, including slavery, the subjugation of women, economic exploitation and rule by creepy tech bros and boardroom psychopaths. “There is no alternative.”

          The current fad for the wholesale linking of human psychological characteristics and social behaviors to evolution is driven more by ideology than by science. Replacing credible evidence with ideological assumptions and pretending the scientific community is free from confirmation bias, political influence, corruption and good old human fallibility makes a mockery of actual science.

          Humans are not computers or black holes and studying them requires tools and methodologies that the STEM disciplines alone are simply not able to provide. This is why the aptly named humanities are a thing.

      2. cyclist

        But a woman still has to torture a lot more people than a man just to get to the same level!

        1. DonCoyote

          Which raises the question, “If ‘massive fraud’ is not enough, how big does the fraud have to be before you have to admit wrongdoing?” Tremendously yuge?

          Of course, she did have to give up a heap ‘o stock: “…as well as to a reduction of her equity which, combined with shares she previously returned, materially reduces her equity stake.” I don’t know how much that stock is worth today, but still presumably something, so this is probably a greater loss than the fine.

      3. The Rev Kev

        The mind boggles. Was she wearing a black leather outfit, a leather mask and carrying a lash? Totally the wrong person to head the CIA. They should all be about analysis, not counter-productive things like drones and torture prisons. Those things add more enemies. Does this mean that the CIA under her is going to degrade their analytical departments to favour ‘wet ops’ instead?
        When Obama said that we tortured some folk, Gina was one of those doing the torturing which is an international crime. Which makes Obama guilty of an international crime for not prosecuting her.

        1. Procopius

          There has always been a tension at the CIA between the analysts and the knuckle-draggers. I was gobsmacked to read that Gina is “well-regarded” among the veterans of the CIA. It’s worse than I imagined.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            aye. and here I was all relieved that it wasn’t Tom Cotton, he of the dead, reptilian gaze.
            then I looked Gina up…
            Looks like one of my grandmothers, circa 1962.
            (banality of evil)

        1. Michael Hudson

          It’s true that the Democrats don’t want to govern. But they also don’t want anyone ELSE (esp. to the left) to block the Republicans from enacting the Blue-Dog/Republican neoliberal code.
          The Democratic strategy is to protect the Republicans from a left attack; by blocking any alternative party, from Bernie’s independents to the socialists. Co-opting any real left by “identity politics” that excludes wage-earners, workers, etc.

          1. RUKidding


            Very well said and thanks for that. Absolutely the truth.

            See also:

            DiFi – whom we must venerate and allow to be the annointed one once again because we must “revere” her old age – who said:

            “Well, I have spent some time with her, we’ve had dinner together, we have talked … everything I know is, is that she has been a good deputy director of the CIA….I think hopefully the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program. I think it’s something that can’t be forgotten. And I certainly can never forget it. And I won’t let any director forget it,” the senator added, revealing she shared a “long personal talk” with Haspel about the program.


            1. WheresOurTeddy

              The idea that Feinstein is on board with the new “F*** Iran” Coalition that just took over the white house is shocking, shocking I tell you

          2. Darthbobber

            I’m not sure that “the democrats” is even a useful category for analysis, unless the subset gets specified. The Republicans have been growing more and more alike, though that can be overstated too.

            There probably is no grand “democratic strategy”, as far as the officeholders are concerned, beyond gaining and holding offices. And not necessarily for the party. For themselves.

            Congress is not presently interested in governing in any meaningful sense. Leadership of both parties sees allowing unilateral action by the executive and then throwing rocks from the cheap seats at each misstep as a more winning tactic than engaging in oversight.

      1. polecat

        .. THEY WANT TO RULE ..

        via. coercion, belittlement, as well as to torture us with the constant yappings of such senatorial fossils !

        Same as the Other head of the coin.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        why would Chuck rock the boat even if he did have a problem with it personally? He knows as well as anyone they have 6 ways to Sunday of getting back at you.

        Surely, that’s the brave leadership of one can expect of a representative of a healthy republic.

      3. Darthbobber

        Well, having already established that they’re ok with torturers at every level short of director, it seems rather arbitrary to balk at that last hurdle.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Basic equality: women can be just as bad as men. Sadly, this isn’t just snark. That’s what equality means.


    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bloody Gina.

      A few hundred years earlier, there was Bloody Mary.

      Although he was more deserving, I am not aware of anyone calling him Bloody Pol, or Bloody Pot. How many male persons have Bloody before their name, I wonder.M

    3. fajensen

      Another brilliant / idiot-savant move by Donald Trump – Long Popcorn!

      Donald Trump sets himself up as a winner in the sense that the hardliner ghouls who think that “water-boarding is too soft on them” will be very happy with such a principled choice, while at the same time Donald Trump must know that Gina Haspel will be now be dragged through endless public questioning by congress / senate about her career as a torturer and destroyer of evidence while working for the CIA.

      Donald Trump is now quite accidentally giving the CIA a black eye in public, getting lots of good dirt exposed to distract from whatever else he is doing on the side. He gains a nice platform for shaming Obama and the democrats for colluding in keeping this scandal “secret” and then gets credit for taking the principled decision of finding another candidate who is more qualified “to clean up that Juuge mess that Obama left”.

      A principled person could not pull off maneuvers like this!

      1. Rob P

        >Gina Haspel will be now be dragged through endless public questioning by congress / senate about her career as a torturer and destroyer of evidence while working for the CIA.

        Heh. I think you’re overestimating Congress a bit here. Based on the public responses from Senators so far, a few fringe guys like Rand Paul may make a big stink about it, but I don’t think she’ll have too much trouble getting confirmed. There’s never been any serious opposition in Congress to any of Trump’s hawkish foreign policy appointees. And I doubt Gina’s bloody history at the CIA will get much negative coverage in the mainstream media, they’ll be too busy with #Russiagate or whatever porn star Trump is caught with next.

      2. Procopius

        Donald Trump is now quite accidentally giving the CIA a black eye in public, …

        Why do you think it’s accidental. Unwilling to admit that Trump is not a fool?

        1. Biph

          I don’t think he’s a fool, I just think he lacks any sort of subtlety. As pointed out by others there may be a some grumbling about her from individual Senators, but she’ll sail through confirmation and and no black eyes will be given. This like Pompeo is about going after Iran, which is solid proof that Trump isn’t a Russian stooge and an awful blunder.

    4. pcraig

      She would have made a great ‘drug warrior’ too- a job that attracts a high percentage of up-standing, empathetic and ethical individuals. Sadly, I consider “bloody Gina” the current face of Obamas legacy.

  2. Lambert Strether Post author

    Readers, I have now finished my Apple rant. I’m now going on to add the rest of a normal Water Cooler, although for reasons I assume are obvious I might have been able to collect as much material as I normally do. Please check back.

    1. Big River Bandido

      …I might have been able to collect as much material as I normally do.

      Not sure I agree. In the introduction, you’ve outlined many failures of vision. And the rant expresses so much truth. It functions as preamble, laying out the fundamental reason for the crapification of Apple: the culture that produced its success has itself been corrupted. Upon that premise rest all the examples of concept failure the last 7 years. That’s a pretty big piece in the making.

      Freelancers and artists who have used their computers for decades, and have come to depend on them, are in for quite a jam these next few years.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author


          Seriously, one issue about moving is that everything about the Mac is deeply embedded in my muscle memory. Keyboard, mouse, trackpad, command keys to use, countless fine motor coordination moves. That’s not a negligible asset, since my productivity depends on it.

          (That was one of the many advantages of the Mac: The Human Interface Guidelines were ruthless about enforcing consistency across programs, so muscle memory scaled across platforms. That’s something that Windows never did quite figure out. There’s no HIG for iOS, of course, and as iOS idioms infest the Mac, as they are doing, the Mac is gradually becoming crapified and inconsistent.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Yes, this is the whole, neoliberal political point of disruption. We all have to make decisions every day about whether to accommodate ourselves to what is made available to us, and do our best to make the best of it, or try to make ourselves independent of what is made available to us, more or less successfully (as we even try to figure out what “success” means, even to ourselves).

            So when the technology advances/changes, which these days is most of the time, those that profit from such change declare political war on those who are invested in existing ways of doing things. The fundamental point you raise about your productivity is key. Not only don’t they care about it, but if they (corporation or good citizen/consumer) disable your productivity, that is one less competitor they need to worry about. Because their productivity is fundamentally not your productivity – indeed you and they are operating under completely different understandings of productivity. We (i.e. the system) uses money to create (false) equivalence, but it isn’t real equivalence. Your productivity is related to your talents, skill (development) and experience. Their “productivity” is related to sales (measured in money) divided by “inputs” (also measured in money). Their disruption is intentionally intended to destroy your productivity.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Going back to 1/4-inch tape isn’t exactly an option when the entire industry is dominated by ProTools.

          1. steelyman

            Not so true. Many studios still offer analogue tape options including the following major outfits in LA: United, East West, Capitol, Sunset Sound, Hansen, Village, Record One, Sphere etc. They wouldn’t keep those high maintenance machines on hand if there was no demand for tape.

            Many top mastering studios still use high end vintage Studers for source playback during the mastering process and you’d be really surprised at the number of people who show up for a session with tape these days!

            And most of the above big recording studios in LA almost all use vintage analogue mixing boards from Neve and SST.

    2. temporal

      When I updated to High Sierra I first duplicated my Sierra install to another SSD. My install target was a MacPro 2009 12 core that I already knew Apple didn’t want running their delicate flower since the machine was clearly not powerful enough for the job. The upgrade requires (required?) the use of a late High Sierra beta in order to install the hidden firmware update which allows a MacPro like mine to boot off an AFS formatted disk. Since I just wanted to throw the High Sierra install in the drawer in case I choose to use it sometime in the future all of the other problems associated with running High Sierra have been avoided. In my case the upgrade took about an hour including the scary, non-optional, in-place, AFS upgrade.

      I may run High Sierra in the future but the hints about it’s successor suggest that this will probably be the end of the upgrade line for me. Just putting up with the risks related to being forced to use AFS makes it pretty much a non-starter. The fact that AFS brings nothing to the table in terms of it’s much touted bit-rot protection while introducing a number of risks related to backup and restore, while also being slower and unsupported on metal platter disk drives makes me wonder what the real reasons for even wanting to release AFS. HFS+ was already painfully slow compared to the file systems available on Linux – the goal should not have been to make it slower.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the scary, non-optional, in-place, AFS upgrade

        Don’t worry. It’s only a few thousand RAW files. What could go wrong?

        > the scary, non-optional, in-place, AFS upgrade

        I wonder — just spitballing, here — if AFS on OS X (or, as apparently we are now suppposed to call it, MacOS), has anything to do with the new functionality in iOS — follow me closely here — to actually store files in a visible file system. Perhaps Apple is trying to unify the two, and as with every other iOS feature introduced on the Mac, producing a crapified experience for people who use their computers to produce, rather than to consume.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thing is, that used to be true, at least after we started getting hard disks n stuff.

          It is true that the early Mac crashed all the time. But all you have to do was Command-S every thirty seconds or so, and you were good. I still do, in fact. Which is one reason losing hours of work was so distressing; all the habits of decades are optimized to avoid exactly that.

          (Somebody suggested github… I dunno…)

        2. Amfortas the Hippie

          On Luddism: at least you are competent enough with these machines to figure out what was going on,lol.(thanks for the insight).
          I am made constantly aware that these devices are Black Boxes….one finds it easier to think of gnomes and such….and! I’m considered the Tech Guy on our little place(the boys are rapidly catching up, or perhaps my eldest has wisely kept his acumen to himself(mop poorly)).
          I am in constant danger of ruining my keyboard offering libations to the deus ex machina.

    3. DJG

      Lambert, Lambert, Lambert: Recently, the hard drive on my Minoan MacBookPro finally died (it is a 2009, I believe). I have an independent tech who lives here in the neighborhood. He put in a new hard drive and admitted that things would work better with an upgrade of the OS. He wouldn’t install anything higher than OS 10.9.5. High Sierra? He just shook his head and I had to agree. And don’t even think of installing what comes after High Sierra, which, I believe is OS 13, Fermented Tofu.

    4. Hayek's Heelbiter

      Apple’s contempt for their installed base makes the 19th century Western view of native peoples look positively enlightened.

      I have just finished spending several thousand dollars to re-edit a short film that was cut on FCP 5 (which isn’t even compatible with FCP 6). [Through an incredibly convoluted process, my genius editor was able to import most of into Premiere but we still had to go back to the original videotapes for certain issues.]

      And then there is FCP X. Every editor I knew used to cut on FCP. Now I do not know a singe professional editor who uses FCP. As soon as they could no longer edit any of the films they had been working on their entire lives all the editors I know migrated to Avid or Premiere.

      To take a program from the Number One in its class to near non-existent extinction with a single upgrade is truly breathtaking.

  3. Darius

    How old is your hardware? I have a MacBook Pro (I think) from 2010 that is frequently giving me fits. I was thinking of going on eBay to get the most recent non-Air model, or otherwise jumping to Huawei (sp?).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Early 2015. I checked Apple’s High Sierra chart; it said I was fine.

      I’d jump to Huawei instantly, or at least soon, but they have adopted Apple’s premium pricing. Why don’t they gut Apple’s Mac division by offering a Macbook for like $400? For all I know, that’s what Apple wants; they sure seem to hate their users.

      1. JBird

        Joy. Mines 2014. Nothing as bad as that download has happened, but everything from Apple seems to be getting worse. Reminds of Windows, which was the reason I loved, and went Apple. Planned obsolescent on mega-steroids. How nice. As an Apple devote whose God is failing, I agree with your rant.

        1. Darius

          I’m typing this on an iPhone SE. Basically, a souped up iPhone 5. It’s about 18 months old and so buggy I want to wring Tim Cook’s neck, if I don’t jump out a window first.

          1. epynonymous

            I’m using an Iphone 4 myself. Replaced the battery six months back, and it needed it (perhaps fairly, it was physically bulging out as the chemicals started to quit on me)

            I lost my data service, while my family with their newer phones kept theirs, so the storm here in New England wasn’t strictly to blame.

            The phone works just fine, except when I go to use my city’s bus locator app. They’ve “upgraded” the service, without even replacing the old one. However the old one no longer works, so I just memorize the routes and times I need, or browse them on the fly to get where I need to go.

            Suck it poors. It’s time to upgrade.


        2. Procopius

          I’ve hated Apple since 1996, when I was forced to take my students to a Macintosh-equipped computer lab at the school where I was working. I also hate Windows 10 to the point where once I can no longer run Windows 7 I will move entirely to Linux, probably Ubuntu. I’m somewhat heartened to see there are still people running Windows XP. In fact, that’s what the Navy is still using. I really did not want to upgrade to Win 7, but after it was installed on a computer I had built to my specs I have come to like it a lot.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        I wish I knew why some people have all kinds of problems upgrading the Mac OS, because the only time I did, it was my fault. I will also add insult to injury—Amazon still sells iWork ’09, which would have happily run on your older OS for about thirty bucks. I bought a copy just to be sure I wouldn’t lose the stuff I need in Pages for doing book layout, which Apple has already moderately crapified.

    2. temporal

      I have a 2010 MacBook Pro. I bought it on eBay a few years ago because it was the second to last MacBook Pro that is easily repaired. If you want a big boost replace the hard drive with an solid state drive. If you visit iFixit you’ll see that nearly all of the newer ones, from the beginning of the Retina displays, are very hard to repair.

      1. DJG

        temporal: + That’s just what my friendly neighborhood free-lance Mac tech did, with great results.

      2. Darius

        Temporal. If you’re still awake, who does this? Do I have to find my local geek? Any chain stores good on this? Any recs greatly appreciated.

        1. Peter VE

          Darius: go to OWC and click on “My Upgrades”. Find your model, and buy the SSD with the upgrade kit. They have videos showing you what to do. I upgraded a pair of MacBook Pros following their instructions. Most of the time was spent in the transfer from the old hard drive to the new. It helps to be near another computer to watch the video while you do it.

    3. BenX

      2013 Dell Laptop running Win10 going strong. Win10 is the best OS yet, although I think my future is Linux, due to the trend toward the subscription model. Apple makes good phones though.

  4. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Get Shook, Apple.

    Im trying to create a campaign website for a leftist candidate against Cedric Richmond, LA-2, on Wix.Com but my old Apple Desktop (actually my grandmother passed it along to me) wont allow me to edit on an old browser.

    I guess its back to the local library instead of the comfort of my Podium Computer Standing thingy ive grown accustomed to.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      To be fair to Apple, that’s a bit old (unless your grandfather had a thing for new hardware).

      But 2015 hardware not working for an OS released in 2017? I don’t think do.

      1. Darius

        It shouldn’t have to come to this, but is there a “genius bar” you could take it to?

  5. crittermom

    This is the reason I believe all computers or even electronics are named FRED.
    Freakin’ Ridiculous Electronic Device.

    I try to be nice to mine since I cannot afford a new one but admit to having envisioned throwing it through a window at least a dozen times.

    Perhaps take a walk in nature– or your garden– to ‘soothe the savage beast’ FRED brings out in us?
    It’s saved my FRED on numerous occasions.

    1. licen

      I doubt it. Her mistake was not committing fraud. Her mistake was committing fraud against squillionaires. Fraud against regular people is still okay.

      1. fajensen

        Holmes agreed to a $500,000 penalty and a 10-year ban on serving as an officer or director of a public company to settle the charges, but she did not admit or deny the allegations

        With strong enforcement like that we shall stomp out fraud in no time at all, yess, siree!

        OTOH – Martin Shkreli just got 7 years in the slammer! For securities fraud, not for raising the costs of a life-saving but generic medication 10x.

        1. pretzelattack

          jesus, how much did she make from her scam? at least shkreli will serve the full term i think, though it should be much longer; and if people died he should have been prosecuted for manslaughter. meanwhile, let’s see what those russians are up to now!

    2. a different chris

      As you know, any psychologist/psychiatrist will refuse to analyze a person from afar. As you may or may not know, I’m just a engineer, so nothing’s stopping me! That said, are we sure that Ms Holmes is not, in a quiet way, clinically insane?

      I’m serious. As an upper-class white girl she doesn’t get the same sort of scrutiny some poor girl from the ‘hood would. “Sort” is the important word here, she got plenty of scrutiny but it was of such a different focus. “She doesn’t respond normally” is viewed as high intelligence (which it may be a sign of, still could be nutz) for a rich white person, not so much for some poor minority. Everything she did was just weird, and nobody seemed to notice it at best or worse they wrote hagiographies about it.

      Shorter me: she is clearly (family blog)ed up, and nobody seems to notice. Why?

      1. Yves Smith

        Yes, I have been of that school of thought for a long time. Google to find her TED talk. You only need to watch a minute or two. She speaks in the manner of someone who is more than a little off kilter or else heavily medicated. Among other things, she has close to fixed stare. Just seeing that, I can’t fathom how anyone would have invested in her. She comes off as possessed.

        1. JBird

          I am guessing that’s probably a reason for getting gentler treatment than Shkreli. Mental illness gets compassion sometimes whereas being an ass doesn’t.

  6. Thomas Williams

    Fine rant Lambert:

    It’s a shame it cost so much in time, effort and opportunity cost to get it.

  7. Synoia

    Dear Lambert

    If you would like an inexpensive machine for all but gaming,
    then I offer you a Linux SOC based machine, with a SSD Hard drive for you data
    (I do not trust sd cards to have a long life, having worn some out).

    Possibly a raspberry PI (I use one daily) or the ASUS Tinker board as a basis, with Debian.
    Either requires and HDMI Monitor or TV set.

    If you need a more powerful machine, I offer you the same device as a remote GUI with cloud service.

    As a contribution to your work.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, that’s very kind, but I think I’d rather just get my own machine. It’s a very personal thing!

      And no cloud for me, thanks very much. That’s another obnoxious thing about iOS, the OS in essence forcing you to read advertising for Apple’s services. Why not just sell space on the damn menus?

  8. Enquiring Mind

    As an Open Office Apple survivor, I added Libre Office out of desperation and, admittedly, cheapness. Neither covers what I used in a work environment Wintel Excel world, but that was on another’s nickel.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I’ve always used NeoOffice, which is the version designed for Macs. It’s available in the App Store. It does come with a “required donation” but I have no problem giving out $30 or so for something that works.

      I’ve also begun using a subscription service called SetApp that, for ten bucks a month, offers a slew of fairly decent apps you an install as needed. Comes in handy with a smaller hard drive.

  9. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from Tucson. On a US-made laptop that runs Ubuntu. (It’s a System76 machine that hails from Denver.)

    And I just made it very angry. I wasn’t sure how to spell System76. So, I pulled the screen down toward the keyboard in order to see the logo on the back.

    Machine shut down.

    So, I powered it back up again. Firefox advised that my previous session had crashed, and would I like to restore it? You betcha, Firefox.

    Here I am, back at the NC comment screen. And I didn’t lose a morsel of what I had been writing.

    One more thing: Hardly a day goes by when I’m not prompted to update some aspect of the software. I give the dear sweet update screen my login password so I can update.

    This morning featured one of those updates that caused my screen to go black. Okay, 76, I’m on to you, and I know what the fix is: Turn off the machine, then turn it back on again. I did that.

    And, guess what: That update wasn’t done yet. I let it do its thing, then I got a prompt to restart my computer. I did, and guess what. Didn’t lose a morsel of data.

    The screen-going-black problem is something that the company would like to take a look at. On my next vacation, I’m going to send this laptop on a little warranty service trip to Denver. While System76 is fixing the problem, I’ll be out there, somewhere in America, bicycling to my heart’s content.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Just talked with one of my Linux-using friends. We both suspect that my screen-going-black problem has something to do with my laptop’s video display. So, lappie, you’ll soon be taking a little trip to Colorado …

  10. economiser

    Lambert — check out WPS Office.
    I am not sure that it has all the functions you need (probably not), but I’ve been using the WPS Office spreadsheet. I think it is far better than OpenOffice – it’s stable, not a terrible hog like OpenOffice, much more MSOffice-like, free (although they run some stupid ads upon launch). I’ve used the WPS “Spreadsheets” and “Presentations” and opened files created by them in the Microsoft applications and all works fine.

    It is made by a Chinese company though.. not sure about any backdoors.

  11. Mel

    My preferred gear is used, refurbished, HP/Compaq laptops running Debian Linux, but people have mentioned that their requirements are greater than mine.
    The style of user experience is spreading around. I tried to use a Bluetooth link to share photographs off an Android tablet. The software went full Bartleby the Scrivener. If you hunted through the log you found “I didn’t do that” (or words to that effect.) Heavy web search reveals that Android doesn’t do Bluetooth transfers bigger than 2MB.

    1. bob

      I used HP’s forever. They don’t sell any new ones with buttons below the touchpad.

      The other thing they do is limit the resolution of the screen – 1366×768 is the standard now.

      People have phones with 5 to 8 times that resolution packed into a 4 inch screen. The new samsung s8 is (2960×1440 ) Why can’t they do it with a 14″ screen, at a reasonable price?

      I’d like to see *anyone* look into this. It seems to be a clear case of monopoly/anti-competion within the glass manufactures.

      It’s at least a $200-$300 upgrade to get to a 1920×1080, if you can even find one.

    2. fajensen

      Hear! Hear!!

      I buy used Lenovos. About 200 USD for a “Grade A” Core i5, 100 GB SSD, lots of RAM (8-16 MB) and 20 minutes of work replacing the HDD-drive and put a Linux Install on top. My daughter and wife use Linux with no problems (and a Linux “VMware Workstation Pro” for running Windows 7, which daughter needs for school, at least the school pays for all that).

      The i5 is fine with running Windows 7 in a virtual machine. This is “the problem”, why we buy used, there is no point in buying a newer machine that is not really going to be faster and we saved a small part of China.

  12. bob

    Just had to upgrade my win laptop. Choices are getting very slim. Went with a think pad, which seem very good, except for one glaring problem, which I didn’t bother to check before ordering-

    What is so hard about buttons? Why are all the manufactures getting rid of TWO buttons below the touchpad?

    I’ve heard from others that it’s because “buttons” break. Then how does turning the whole touchpad into one big button, that doesn’t work, help this problem?

    I’d sell my left nut for a good, NEW laptop with 2 buttons.

  13. WobblyTelomeres

    Would one of you kind folk please tell me who this Larry Kudlow fella is?

    p.s. Ubuntu 16.04LTS on desktop, Fedora 27 on my $169 laptop (so I can run xtrackcad), Archbang on my other laptop ($25 craigslist acer eeek thing), and Raspbian on my raspberry pi cluster (which, once built, sees little use, sadly).

    1. Mel

      Today, Pi Day, Raspberry Pi Foundation announces the new 3B+. Processor upgrade to 1.7GHz 4-core, faster wireless. I have a 3B running 24/7 local Cloud service on the LAN, just in case I can think of a use for that. Also email, web browsing as the usual desktop machine here.

    2. ewmayer

      If your Pi cluster is feeling neglected, consider using it to search for yuuuge prime numbers. (That is the hot-of-the-press latest issue of Odroid mag, but the same code runs just fine on Pi, just with ~2/3 the per-core throughput of a similar-CPU Odroid.)

  14. David

    I upgraded four Macs of different types to High Sierra, including one dating from 2010. I had one problem but did a reinstall. Normally the disk image takes about an hour to download and the installation takes anything up to an hour afterwards.
    Numbers has been around for a decade, and, like Pages and Keynote, it’s free. I have given up using Office, because Microsoft has stopped supporting all of its non-subscription versions, and Word, in particular, crashes all the time, even the 2008 version. Pages can read Word format and also saves to it, so when people send me Word documents, I save them in Pages, work on them and convert them back. I do all my presentations in Keynote, and save them to Powerpoint format if people ask for copies.

    1. Mike Mc

      I repair Macs for a living and even I hate the current 2016-17 Mac notebooks. No chime at boot? Heresy! Not to mention removing one non-visual cue for when something is happening in my busy shop at a semi-large Midwestern land grant university.

      Macs and Wintels were about 30/70 to 40/60 when I got here in 2010. Now it’s 80/20 Mac and while that’s job security for me (less than 36 months to Full Retirement Age), it’s also because 1) Apple was on a gigantic roll for several years; iPhones and iPods captured users early on and when they needed a notebook for college, bada bing! 2) PC notebooks under $1,000 price point are mostly junk; good ones are hard to get services w/o an extended factory warranty (Dell, HP) whereas slapping Windows into your Intel Mac is fairly simple; 3) Steve Jobs died. We may never see his like again (though Musk is trying) when it comes to IT for the masses. 4) Apple is a cell phone company that sells some other stuff too. Xserve (rack mount Mac)? Gone. OS X Server? Hamstrung and nearly gone. Mac Pro (the trashcan one)? Engineering run amuck – great design but takes $400 worth of Apple exclusive tools to service.

      I expect Hackintoshes to continue to flourish but they are, like Linux, not ready for prime time. New MacBook Air and possibly new Mac Mini might help, but IT is not designed to help people use computers any more. It’s designed to vacuum as much money as possible into Our Betters’ revenue streams.

      1. subgenius

        Trashcan mac is a design win and an engineering fail… a total toy…any of the pro vfx world that hadnt yet made the jump to windoze was forced to by the simple fact that if you try to stack the required gpu power into one you achieve a good approximation of a burn barrel…

    1. Bukko Boomeranger

      Shame there’s no way with NC’s sortanonymous commenting system to tell if the comment was dropped by THE Michael Hudson. But it reads like something he would think. Good onya to realMH!

  15. Adrienne

    Lambert, the old version of Apple’s productivity suite—iWork ’09—still works perfectly on newer Macs. It’s far superior to the new versions, which have been badly crippled to work with iOS devices.

    You can open Open Office & MS Office spreadsheets and word processing documents in Numbers and Pages, respectively, and then export into MS Office formats.

    You can score a DVD on Ebay for ten bucks or so (or borrow one, tho I am a big believer in owning physical media). Then, go here and download & install the Combo Update:


    If you install the later version of Numbers, Pages, or Keynote, they’ll corrupt any files you created with the older versions so you won’t be able to edit them any more in the old versions. To get around this change your settings for “open with” to use the older versions.

    I have a newer iMac but I refuse to install High Sierra. The new file system is not ready for prime time and allowing High Sierra to convert your drives to APFS can cause problems….

    I agree that Apple’s design direction is questionable. I wouldn’t buy a new Mac laptop for any reason.

  16. JCC

    I’ve been running Fedora on a custom desktop system that was built out 8 years ago. I also have a 4 year old Apple Laptop. The 8 year old fedora system is updated every 6 months (now on Fedora 27 and soon to Fedora 28). It is still far faster than the Apple system and has been my daily go-to system since I first got it. I kick off the system update at night, twice a year, and log in the next morning to check email and Naked Capitalism. Never had a show-stopper yet (knocking on wood now).

    I work as a Linux Sys Admin, so I admittedly have a little going for me should a problem arise, but problems arise far less often than on any Windows or OS X systems I have owned for the last 15 years, at least.

    The Linux system also acts as the household router for hard-wired systems and wireless systems, and since it is plugged into the stereo amp and TV, it also acts as the core part of my entertainment center, radio, video, cd player, etc. In other words it is up and running 24/7 for the last eight years. My first Apple laptop lasted 3 years running 6 or 7 hours a day on the days it was booted up, primarily weekends, before the keyboard and one fan failed. Replaced, then the screen cooked a year after that. I attribute that to desert heat since Apple traditionally has built some rugged laptops.

    Would I buy an Apple again… maybe, but only a used one and I would probably load a Linux OS on it. MS Windows on any system, desktop or laptop, (particularly the latest iteration which I am forced to use at work on occasion) is out of the question, new or used.

  17. Oregoncharles

    And Yves was having internet issues last night. Maybe that Mercury-in-Retro was real.

  18. allan

    Top Republican eyes second phase of tax cuts this year [The Hill]

    … House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said on Fox Business Network that Republicans are mulling a release of the phase two tax proposal “this year,” which he says could include making permanent the temporary tax cuts for working families in that was in December’s bill. …

    Brady’s comments come after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said last week that Republicans in Congress would likely hold off any technical fixes to the tax bill until after the November midterms and that he didn’t expect any changes to the tax code this year. …

    Translation: Post PA-18, the GOP thinks there is a real chance of losing the House in November and wants to
    lock in the K Street gigs for anybody who’s unemployed come January, 2019.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not sure why this isn’t a “normal party operation rolls on” story.

      We think of parties as being effected by elections, in the sense that they take feedback from elections and adjust their behavior accordingly. I’m not sure the connection is as linear as we think.

      I remember volunteering for Dukakis when he was running against Reagan (yes, I am an old codger); I was leaving in Boston at the time. So they put me on the phones, and what was I doing? Phoning reminders for a fundraiser two months away somewhere on the South Shore.

      I think a lot of party operation is like that. As Sanders says: “Elections come and go.”

    1. subgenius

      tin foil hats are fakenews perpetrated by the Illuminati….in order to create a functioning Faraday cage, one needs to entirely enclose the object within a conductive shell…that huge opening at the bottom of a tin foil hat lets all the mind control rays in, and the pseudo parabolic internal form of the hat then focuses them at the prime areas (this level of discussion is highly classified by the illuminati- but analysis of the 3 most common designs strongly implicates the reptilian brain as the primary target, rather than the pineal)

      1. Bukko Boomeranger

        ALWAYS TURN THE SHINY SIDE OF THE FOIL TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE HAT! Because the dull side ABSORBS the mind control rays, makes the voice STRONGER. You don’t hear that in most tinfoil advice arenas because THEY don’t want you to know it.

        1. ambrit

          Have to agree with you about the absorptivity of aluminium foil ‘control ray’ deflection chapeaus. The ‘get them from below’ meme is distraction. Studies at the University of Magonia College of Secrets have established that the high concentrations of metals in the earths’ inner mantle and core effectively block passage of ‘control rays.’ So, get those foil hats on and be upstanding!

  19. tommy strange

    Indeed lambert, you obviously know tons more than I do, so I thought it was just me. Changing from a use to be great old desktop to Imac 2015, and nothing works. I buy cords, peripheal devices etc. Duet from guitar to garage band. Nope. Mini DV prosumer camcorders that millions of people have (Panosonic dvx100B etc) that have even won film festivals.

  20. Steve

    Sorry Lambert! Good Rant!!! When I upgraded my 2012 MacBook Pro to High Sierra it destroyed it. It not only destroyed it but completely ruined may I TB time machine back-up drive when I used it to reboot the Mac. It took 3 weeks and a complete erasing of my hard drive to get my MacBook working again. I have Sierra on it and even the Genius at Apple said in Apple speak “Sierra was one of our most stable platforms so if there is no significant reason you want High Sierra I would just put Sierra back on the MacBook. I think I posted this the other month. Since High Sierra beat up my MacBook over 6 friends who I told not to upgrade did and all lost everything. I was a Mac consultant a long time ago and have had Macs since the Mac plus. I never plan on upgrading my MacBook as it works fine with Sierra.

    1. ewmayer

      All I can say is, glad I’m a neo-Luddite who’s still using os x 10.6.8 on my 2009-vintage macbook classic – I have a cheap refurb of simialr vintage ready to go as a backup, but it runs 10.7.5 and I dread the thought of having to switch to it because everything runs so godawfully slowly vs 10.6.8, if it works at all.

      Luckily my “productivity tools” are pretty simple – gcc/gdb (also having clang is nice, but optional), BBedit (I have a license for the os x 10.6/10.7 version, and the makers are great about keeping downloads of those earlier versions around), Firefox, Mac Mail, preview cover 95% or more of what I do.

      Think I’ll invest a bit of time and money into an SSD mounted in a regular-laptop-HD-sized chassis and a copy of CarbonCopy cloner to copy my 10.6.8 machine’s HD.

    1. witters

      Let’s be fair to Mr Kudlow, he says Billionaires ‘have no need to steal’ and they don’t. They do it because they like doing it and they can.

  21. Darthbobber

    Pa18. I don’t know if Saccone “underperformed”” the Donald or not. Hate that word, BTW.

    Trump himself is just barely in positive approval numbers there. But a lot of people voted for him without necessarily “approving” of him. Gosh, can’t imagine why. I suspect a record was set in November of 16 for percentage of the electorate who voted for a candidate they themselves believed stank. Mr Trump is president because his stench at least had an element of novelty.

  22. marym

    Liveblog with lots of photos of today’s student actions

    Thousands of students at schools across the country walked out of class today, took a knee inside their school building or linked arms in class hallways to memorialize those who have died in gun violence and to demand more action from US lawmakers.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a good start.

        One of the lessons in life is that to succeed, it helps to be persistent.

        And that was what the Red Guards did. They marched everyday, or often. They would not have tolerated the kind of wealth inequality you see today in China. And it wasn’t.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, I was at one of those today. Beautiful ritual: 17 minutes long. I was impressed with what the kids pulled off. They did have the full co-operation of the school, in our liberal town. Impressive list of policy proposals – they might even get some of that from the Oregon legislature.

      We were with the community members gathered outside the fence. Happily, the kids went right past us on their way back to school, to applause.

      There are marches coming up, too, as we were told during the event.

  23. mle detroit

    In the phrase “universal concrete material benefits,” can someone please explain the difference between “concrete” and “material”? Thanks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My first guess is that some materials are not as solid as concrete.

      And you want to make sure the material is not wishy-washy.

    2. subgenius

      There’s that old joke about there being 2 types of concrete…

      Cracked concrete, and soon-to-crack concrete…

        1. subgenius

          I believe that is a socialist plot designed to undermine the very foundations of capitalist society.

          If the concrete can heal, how will these billion dollar infrastructure repair projects ever get off the ground?

    3. a different chris

      To me, it means:

      Universal: nobody needs to fill out paperwork. You can be rich as a Koch, if you want to eat Government Cheese for free nobody is going to stop you.

      Concrete: They don’t change with the season. They don’t change based on who you are, who you were, or anything. You get what I said you can get, today or January 2021.

      Material: They are of immediate use. I said you can have Government Cheese, you get Government Cheese. I don’t offer you “retraining” in some other field you won’t get a job in, but I may pay for simple, straightforward tuition.

      PS: I confess the other replies were funnier

    4. ambrit

      I’d see ‘concrete’ as a modifier for ‘material.’ There are plenty of squishy and tenuous materials out there. (See Democrat Materialists for starters.)

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      You get health care (a material benefit) directly (“concretely”) instead of indirectly (like with a voucher, or a [family blogging] marketplace.

      We did toy with “universal direct material benefits” but (a) “concrete material benefits” is already “out there,” (b) it is, in my view, more euphonious,” and (c) the idea that you can touch the stuff that is the benefit is important.

      It’s about ripping out all the layers of indirection and rental extraction schemes that liberal gatekeepers impose because markets. To me, “concrete” really stomps on that as nothing else quite does, including “direct.”

    6. Skip Intro

      I would interpret material in the legal sense of relevant or significant, as in ‘material omissions’. MAGA stickers would be concrete, but not material.

  24. voteforno6

    Re: Alleged poisoning in the UK

    I don’t know what really did or did not happen. That being said, it seems to be rather convenient timing for Theresa May, given the state of the Brexit non-negotiations.

    1. Montanamaven

      I don’t know what happened either, but the Russians can’t possibly be that stupid or incompetent to do this thing right when Russiagate is still in full throttle. This was pretty ham fisted. I like the people over at Moon of Alabama. One commenter said that this poison seemed like basic pesticide. Another commenter said that this super duper poison was manufactured in Uzbekistan and that the US helped destroy the supply. Or not. To be terribly unfair, when people die I look in the direction of the Clintons. My husband told me to think that way.

      1. fajensen

        but the Russians can’t possibly be that stupid or incompetent to do this thing right when Russiagate is still in full throttle

        “Russians” is a broad congregation; Maybe some London-based oligarch wants to return some past ill favor to Putin, maybe the ex-spy was carrying a sample in his pocket and the vial broke, maybe the Clintons were pissed off over the fake dossier – maybe the Russian state did indeed do this hit in such an obviously stupid way for Trolling or perhaps just to gauge the mistrust we have in our government officials?

        Theresa May is going down over Brexit so any sudden distraction is a rare gift to her government.

      2. Dwight

        In addition to Russiagate, Russia’s hosting the World Cup this year makes the timing even more suspect.

  25. Montanamaven

    OH NO. Just heard that John Bolton might replace McMasters as National Security Advisor. So much for non interventionism.

    1. sierra7

      Wonder if JB still wants to blow the first (or top) 7 floors of the UN into oblivion…that’s the kind of thinker this blood clot is….

  26. allan

    Wells Fargo CEO’s 2017 pay jumps 35 percent to $17.6 million [Reuters]

    Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Tim Sloan’s made $17.6 million in 2017, up 35 percent from the previous year, despite opting out of the bank’s annual incentive plan.

    The third-largest U.S. bank is looking to rebuild its reputation following a 2016 scandal that involved thousands of Wells Fargo employees opening perhaps millions of unauthorized customer accounts. …

    Earlier this month, Wells Fargo said it was examining its wealth and investment management business for possible customer abuse, including overcharging and inappropriate referrals, after inquiries from government agencies. …

    Together, We’ll I’ll Go Far™.

    And in other good news for banksters, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body passed cloture on S. 2155
    by a bipartisangasmic 67-31. History will not judge kindly.

    1. crittermom

      And just think… WF is the THIRD largest bank in the US.

      I seem to remember a more recent scandal (having to do with car loans?) than the 3.5 million accounts opened illegally, but the article fails to mention that.

      Since such a great percentage of pay is in stocks, I doubt there will be any serious digging regarding other illegal activities by the bank.
      Can’t let stocks dip or it’ll hit their wallets.

  27. Angie Neer

    Lambert, I’m another Mac 512KE’er. Some time ago when you compared iTunes to Font/DA Mover, the wave of nostalgia almost pushed me off my perch.

    Apple formerly had a pretty good balance of form with function. Now they have concluded that form pays so well, function is for suckers. What makes me so sad is I see nobody filling the void left by Apple. I think we’ve passed Peak Personal Computer. Apparently it’s time for us geezers to kick the ugly old boxes to the curb and get on the phone like everybody else.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > function is for suckers… get on the phone like everybody else.

      Hard to write long-form articles on the phone. Phones are for consumption, not production. Funny what Apple is trying to encourage, and what they’re trying to impede and screw up and destroy.

      1. Angie Neer

        > Hard to write long-form articles on the phone.
        No kidding. I’m a compulsive editor, so writing anything longer than a few words on the crippled interface of a phone is agony.

        > Phones are for consumption, not production
        Agreed; that’s really the heart of the matter. Apple used to cater to creators and producers, or at least to people with aspirations along those lines. Now they’re just one of many companies making what are essentially expensive TV’s with teletypes attached.

  28. JerryDenim

    “Experts expect China’s retaliation to be swift and harsh, especially against U.S. exporters like U.S. farmers who rely on the Chinese market as a major destination for soybeans, pork and other commodities.”

    Any Chinese tariffs on US Pork would be hilarious since the biggest pork producer (by a large margin) in the United States is “Smithfield Foods- WH Group”, a state-owned Chinese company! Eastern North Carolina now functions as a gigantic Chinese pork sweatshop; Satisfying global demand while leaving a trail of environmental destruction and misery in it’s wake. If this is China’s idea of retaliation US citizens should come on on top of any brewing trade war.




  29. Alex Cox

    I haven’t read all the comments but I imagine some readers have already advised you to try Libre Office instead of Open Office – both are open source forks of Star Office, but Libre Office is said to be more up-to-date and may do what you want.
    Didn’t think much of the “Apple rant” – was never a Steve Jobs fan and see no difference between his brand of avarice and the current sociopath’s.
    You might also try installing a GNU/Linux OS on your Mac — unless you need highly specialized software, Linux Mint or another distro might work very well for you.
    Keep up the good work!

  30. The Rev Kev

    Lambert, you call it a rant but I call it a story from life in the trenches and fascinating, if painful, to read. I can see by all the comments that you always strike a raw nerve when talking about Apple. If you ever want to see a real explosion, just set up a page with the title ‘Has anybody here ever had trouble with Microsoft?’ and stand back to watch the fireworks.

  31. Ape

    Suggestion: external version control like git even for these word-like formats.

    And yes, Apple ui is horrible in general despite the consensus.

  32. Luke

    “Hawking does the best maths trolling.

    Passes away on Einstein’s birthday and Pi Day.”

    I don’t see how the latter is true. Wouldn’t Hawking have had to croak 2 years ago, on 3-14-16?

  33. Amfortas the Hippie

    Re: Existential Retail. 1. do people still trust outfits like deloitt? Maybe I’m biased against such things, but I associate that name with grand larceny for some reason.
    2. out here, and just down the road in Fredricksburg, TX…yes…the bifurcation is apparent.
    Dollar stores and junk shops(“re-sale”) and numerous yard sales(“estate sales”) on one end—and kitchy, I suppose fashionable, boutiques line the square:expensive dresses, “cowboy art”(the kind that features images of campfires and bluebonnets), and antique stores(a higher order of junk store).
    I include in the latter the 2 local banks and in the former,one regional branch outlet.
    Of note: there doesn’t seem to be a low end for the Bed and Breakfast/hunting lease/wine tour markets…which vacuum I have considered exploring.

    Regarding the Melville press art:I’ve apparently been singing the Nathanial West song(whom I have never heard of) for 20 years now, in various and sundry “liberal/progressive” spaces on the web: that Rural America is not stupid, or necessarily hateful and ignorant…but that they certainly can be, given the right(wrong) circumstances(listless, amorphous depression, both spiritual and economical)…and that if “we”, the Lib/Prog…and therefore righteous and wise…don’t go out and talk to these folks, somebody else will(trump is Buzz Windrip).
    As far as the deeper question: ‘is there a We extant?’…I doubt it. An ancdote only recently noticed(apo kalypsos): while wandering around in search of music, I’ve wandered into myriad musical subgenres, all siloed off, more or less, from each other,and from anything resembling what we think of as “Mainstream”.
    There’s a punk folk revival…next to a bunch of out of work cellists who decided to use utube and make a little beer money…next to Japanese-American kids who learn the Koto and play haunting traditionals…and even stray into weird amalgams of traditional and the New. It’s a rainforest of riotous growth, beautiful and ugly all at once. And we are generally unaware of any of it outside of our own, personalised silo. Expand this phenomena into every other human endeavor(there is a “professional” tiddly winks league that exists in the world!), and…as anyone who has read Joseph Campbell knows…it appears that our most common Commonality is our incredible diversity.
    (some 7 billion religions on this planet)
    How to reconcile all this with the idea of democracy?
    I think it is a fundamentally important question, and I wish that I were more certain that we were up to the task.
    Of course, the bubbling up of so many versions of “roots music”, from Baul in Bangladesh, to American Roots Rock recorded on Iphones under trees or in old school buses, might itself indicate a great hunger for authenticity…something to stand on, be a part of. That’s encouraging, and I hope we find it within ourselves to make better use of it than we have in the recent past.

  34. jim courtright

    For several years I have used a debian OS and have not been disappointed.

    I like Thinkpads.. can buy used & authorized but high speed and memory for about $200 — take out the SATA windows HD and put in new HD, and go.

    Unfortunately, Debian perhaps does not apparently work with Apple electronics

  35. steven

    You kinda, sorta glossed over an issue that would have merited more attention (or at least didn’t give Apple the thrashing it deserves) – the Apple Store. It is little short of obscene for a company like Apple, sitting on $100s of billions, to be so parsimonious in funding the major venue for the distribution of its lifeblood – software, as in aps and, apparently OS upgrades, as well. I am not real happy with Microsoft and Windows 10 and was contemplating switching to Mac. Thanks to a total hardware meltdown which forced me to buy a new PC to replace one that was only 2 – 3 years old – and would NOT run one of MIcrosoft’s upgrades which Microsoft’s Update software was not smart enough to cease and desist trying to send to me – and now your post, I will not be going there.

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