2:00PM Water Cooler 3/28/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The United States and South Korea have agreed to a new currency pact that will bar either country from devaluing their currency for an unfair trade advantage, senior administration officials announced on Tuesday evening” [Politico]. “The new currency side agreement, which the U.S. announced in parallel with a newly renegotiated KORUS deal demanded by President Donald Trump, is being finalized by the U.S. Treasury Department and South Korea’s finance ministry. But it is not actually part of the revamped KORUS pact and is not enforceable through that agreement’s binding dispute settlement provisions.”

“‘It’s unclear how the proposed changes to the [KORUS] pact itself would reverse the doubling of our Korea trade deficit under KORUS, but the new currency agreement could make a difference if it has teeth, delaying the U.S. tariff cuts on Korean trucks could stop the big imbalance from getting even worse, and the parallel steel agreement is significant” [Lori Wallach, Public Citizen]. “The limited revisions to KORUS do not the promised new American trade agreement model make, which puts added pressure on NAFTA renegotiations to deliver a deal that eliminates the job outsourcing incentives in our past trade deals and adds strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement. Success on many key issues that were not addressed at all in this deal – such as the elimination of job outsourcing incentives and the controversial ISDS tribunals, the tightening of automobile rules of origin, and the addition of strictly enforced labor and environmental standards – will determine if a renegotiated NAFTA can get the bipartisan support necessary to get it passed.”

“The scrap aluminum industry is getting caught in the crossfire between Beijing and Washington over Trump’s new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. The collateral damage? More beverage cans and used auto parts could be left in U.S. landfills” [Politico]. “In Beijing, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry defended China’s decision to ban what she referred to as ‘foreign garbage.'” In Maine, we call it “out-of-state trash,” but whatever.

“FOLLOW THE MONEY: Did Administration Officials’ Financial Entanglements with China Delay Trump’s Promised Tough-on-China Trade Policy?” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “Washington insiders and pundits are obsessed with an ‘ideological’ battle over trade in the White House. They argue that philosophical battle lines have been drawn between a pro status-quo team led by exiting National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and a trade-change team led by White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer. But the lack of action on China trade in Trump’s first year and the internal administration trade fights over China trade policy align much more closely with Cabinet members’ and top advisors’ longstanding personal financial entanglements with the Chinese government and government-connected firms than fealty to a trade dogma. Suspicions about how Jared Kushner may be using official meetings to help his family’s debt-ridden firm have made recent headlines. But less attention has been paid to how the widespread business connections – some ongoing – between Trump Cabinet officials and other senior staff and Chinese-government run or connected firms may have affected administration trade policies on China.” I’m not getting this. What does this have to do with Russia or Stormy Daniels?

“Concerns over a deepening U.S.-China trade conflict are reaching into supply chains around the Pacific Rim. From Japan’s electronics to Australia’s iron ore miners, the Asia-Pacific region’s economies depend on selling parts and materials to feed China’s export machine” [Wall Street Journal]. “Australia, for instance, sends 30% of its exports to China, including iron ore and metallurgical coal, the main ingredients in steel. The impact is already being felt in some areas. U.S. tariffs on imported solar panels were aimed at China but also hurt a Singapore manufacturer that has been a big exporter to the U.S. Yet the U.S. actions may not be bad news for everyone. Greater restrictions on Chinese auto exports, for instance, could boost Japanese and German car shipments.”


2018 Midterms

“How Veterans Are Powering the Democrats’ 2018 Hopes” [Politico]. “With Honor, a ‘cross-partisan’ organization that aims to ‘help elect principled next-generation veterans in order to solve our biggest problems and fix a Congress that is dysfunctional,’ counts approximately 300 veterans who have run for Congress during this cycle—roughly half of whom chose to serve after, and in many cases because of, September 11, 2001. Although specific numbers are hard to come by, the spike is stark—’a substantial increase,’ With Honor co-founder and CEO Rye Barcott told me, “from any prior cycle” in modern memory. While the perception might exist that most veterans lean Republican, some 51 percent of the veterans who are or have been 2018 candidates, based on With Honor’s tally, are actually Democrats.” More: “[T]the reputation of the national institution with by far the highest approval rating, the military, is being offered as an antidote to the woes of a schismatic president and a Congress whose approval ratings have never been worse.” The example, one Max Rose: “A Healthcare Expert with Solutions.” Rose’s issues page — and kudos to him for actually having one, against DCCC advice — says: “True universal healthcare coverage,” which is centrist bafflegab, but more encouragingly: “lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 55,” “creating a public option,” and “all payer rate setting nationwide as it is in Maryland; and make insurance companies nonprofits.” Why not eliminate the complexity and go with #MedicareForAll?

“Dems to party: Go on offense with Trump’s alleged affairs” [The Hill]. “‘Even a small drop in evangelical support for Republicans would be devastating,’ the strategist said. ‘You want to dampen Republican enthusiasm. We should take a lesson from the Republican playbook and let an ‘all of the above’ strategy take hold from different messengers across different targeted platforms.”” Ideally, Stormy would turn out to be a Russian agent, neatly closing the loop.

“The nation’s top conservative donors and fundraisers are increasingly alarmed by the prospect of a midterm election wave that could cost Republicans control of the House” [The Hill]. “More than a half-dozen senior Republican donors and fundraisers interviewed by The Hill acknowledged that protecting the Senate majority might at some point become the only sensible investment for Republican donors…. [F}or now, the party’s moneyed class believes the House majority will hinge on just a handful of races. Donors are moving ahead as if their dollars could be the determining factor in whether Republicans maintain a majority. ‘Money has never been a problem for our party and I don’t think it will be for this cycle either, although we could be outgunned in some places, which is unusual,’ said [Chart Westcott, a conservative donor and biotechnology investor from Dallas]. ‘But it’s foolish to cede the House. You have to defend every seat and every district. Folks will be looking to get the most bang for their buck, but I don’t think anyone is saying we shouldn’t fight this battle.'” “You have to defend every seat and every district.” Democrats: lol no.

“Analysis: How Can the GOP Turn Out Trump Voters?” [Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call]. “Republican strategists across the ideological spectrum agree there isn’t much they can do about the Democrats’ sky-high energy levels. But conservatives who have rallied behind the president are still looking for ways to boost enthusiasm among Trump voters that would minimize the damage in the fall and keep the House in GOP control…. Conservative strategists cite a handful of possible issues: (1) ‘phase two’ of tax reform, (2) workfare for those on public assistance, (3) infrastructure, (4) paid parental leave, (5) health care, and even (6) term limits for Congress.” Well, paid parental leave is for Communists, and the rest sounds like pretty thin gruel. More: “There is one kicker that might change the trajectory of the election enough to help the GOP — a Supreme Court retirement or vacancy that would need to be filled after the elections.” So RBG better not go up in any small planes. And: “Finally, Republican strategists from both the populist and establishment wings of the party agree that losing the House in November would not necessarily be a terrible thing for Trump’s 2020 re-election bid. While control of that chamber would give Democrats a platform from which to investigate the president, his family and the entire administration, it would also give Trump something he desperately needs: a very visible enemy.” Or maybe Trump found one; “a malefactor of great wealth.” See below (though this could all change in one news cycle, Trump being Trump).

UPDATE “Poll shows Dennis Kucinich and Richard Cordray tied in governor’s primary” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]. “Kucinich and Cordray each clock in at 21 percent, with four other candidates in the single digits and 46 percent still undecided as the May 8 primary date approaches. The poll was conducted by SurveyUSA for Cleveland 19 news and has a margin of error of 5.3 percentage points for the primary and 3.5 points for the general election. The survey was taken from March 16 and March 20.”

2016 Post Mortem

“The Cambridge Analytica Con” [Yasha Levine, The Baffler (DJG)]. “[T]he Cambridge Analytica freakout [is] not just anti-historical, it’s also profoundly anti-political. People are still trying to blame Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 electoral victory on something, anything—other than America’s degenerate politics and a political class that has presided over a stunning national decline. The keepers of conventional wisdom all insist in one way or another that Trump won because something novel and unique happened; that something had to have gone horribly wrong. And if you’re able to identify and isolate this something and get rid of it, everything will go back to normal—back to status quo, when everything was good.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The GOP’s Dwindling Base” [Charles Cook, The Cook Report]. A review of the Republican’s awful generics — “Democrats leading by 38 points among voters age 18-29, 30 points among moderates, 12 points among independents, 11 points in the Midwest and 6 points in the suburbs” — then this pivot: ” it’s simply astonishing that economic indicators—including consumer, small-business, and big-business confidence—are so strong, and yet the party controlling the White House, House, and Senate is in such trouble. Another paradox is that we have a president who, by conventional standards, was the least prepared, most erratic, and most undisciplined in modern history, and yet the country and the economy are doing pretty well.” Conclusion: “Despite that resiliency, voters have vented their spleens and thrown out House and/or Senate majorities in four of the last six midterm elections, and they look poised to do so again in November.” In other words, just like 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014, and 2016, this is a “change versus more of the same” elections, and voters are likely to go for change. And exactly as Democrat wave years like 2007, and in the “hope and change” year of 2009, they’re unlikely to get it; in fact, liberal Democrats, by entrenching Blue Dogs wherever they can, are working hard for “more of the same.”

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2017 (Final): “The fourth quarter was very solid and actually understated given the strength of consumer spending. Excluding both inventories and exports, GDP rose 4.5 percent which is also 2 tenths higher than the second estimate. For the ongoing first quarter, consumer spending, or the lack of it, is the question” [Econoday]. “Fourth-quarter GDP is revised 4 tenths higher in the third estimate to a 2.9 percent annualized rate that beats Econoday’s consensus by 2 tenths. Consumer spending gets a 2 tenth upgrade to a 4.0 percent rate as spending on services is revised 2 tenths higher to 2.3 percent with nondurable spending getting a 5 tenths upgrade to 4.8 percent. Spending on durables is revised 1 tenth lower to a still very strong 13.7 percent that reflected hurricane-replacement for autos and which pulled vehicle sales out of the ongoing quarter. Contribution from consumer spending to the fourth quarter’s total growth rate was 2.8 percentage points, almost the entire GDP rate.” And but: “The increase in GDP in this third estimate was primarily due to an increase in consumer services spending and less negative inventory change. The consumer spending improved from the previous quarter. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter” [Econintersect]. And: “This was above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk].

International Trade in Goods, February 2018: “The nation’s trade deficit in goods failed to improve in February, at a very steep $75.4 billion which is nearly $1.5 billion deeper than Econoday’s consensus and little changed from January’s revised $75.3 billion” [Econoday]. “Imports rose 1.4 percent in the month with foods rising sharply along with imports of capital goods and industrial supplies as well. Imports of vehicles rose sizably but not consumer goods which posted only a small gain. Exports are actually strong in this report, up 2.2 percent with gains centered in vehicles, which are usually a weak category, and also capital goods which is the nation’s strength. Exports of consumer goods, a major weakness, declined sharply after bouncing higher in January.”

Corporate Profits, Q4 2017: “Going into 2018, corporate profits weren’t getting any tax-related boost” [Econoday]. “After-tax corporate profits fell a year-on-year 6.0 percent in the fourth quarter.”

Retail Inventories, February 2018 (Advance): “Retail inventories rose 0.4 percent in February and follow a 0.7 percent build in January. These results together with a large build in the wholesale sector and a build underway in manufacturing point to a positive inventory contribution to first-quarter GDP” [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories, February 2018 (Advance): “Wholesale inventories rose a very sharp 1.1 percent in February which is more than double Econoday’s consensus and comes on top of an upwardly revised 1.0 percent build in January” [Econoday]. “These results are consistent with economic strength and together with builds for retail and durable goods in manufacturing, they point to a positive inventory contribution to first-quarter GDP.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of March 23, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 3 percent in the March 23 week, increasing the year-on-year gain in applications by 2 percentage points to 8 percent” [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, February 2018: “Existing home sales have been struggling to move higher but today’s pending home sales index will raise expectations for improvement” [Econoday]. But: “The rolling averages are in negative territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. There is no signs of a surge in home sales, although the trends continue to be downward” [Econoday].

Banks: “JPMorgan is making a bigger push into payments technology as digital banking becomes a strategic priority” [Lending Times]. “In 2016, the bank spent $9.5B on technology and Dimon has committed $300M alone to improve JPMorgan’s technology for its asset management products. Relative to its peer group, JPM claims the highest number of mobile banking customers and its Chase Mobile app currently sports a 4.7 (out of 5) rating in the App Store.”

Real Estate: “Warehouses Are Now Worth More Than Offices, Thanks to Amazon” [Transport Topics]. “Giant, high-tech warehouses, to be precise. These ‘big box’ affairs are defined as having at least 200,000 square feet and 28-foot ceilings, in a report by Colliers International Group Inc. that calls out the surge in their value. Colliers looked at 14 North American markets (all but one, Toronto, in the U.S.) and found that such warehouses sold last year at an average capitalization rate of 5.8%. That’s comfortably lower than the 6.7% cap rate for U.S. office space, including suburban and rural properties, and neck and neck with offices in central business districts, at 5.7%. Cap rates, which measure yield, fall as asset values rise. These are not the sleepy warehouses of old. Distribution centers today are hives of activity. As e-commerce companies race to get that Original EggMazing Easter Egg Decorator Kit to your doorstep ever faster, they need sophisticated equipment to assemble orders and a swelling workforce to manage it all. The report itself didn’t look at office properties, and markets dominated by offices aren’t always the same as major industrial markets. Still, the rise of the warehouse’s value is unmistakable nationwide….”

Energy: “Wisconsin frac sand industry roars back, but new competition looms” [LaCrosse Tribune]. “After a strong 2017, U.S. frac sand demand is expected to grow again this year and could hit an all-time high in 2019, according to producers and industry analysts. ‘They can pretty much sell all the sand they want,’ said Kent Syverson, an industry consultant and chair of the geology department at UW-Eau Claire…. Western Wisconsin sand mines have been around for decades, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey, production of industrial sand jumped 10-fold between 2010 and 2014, as advances in hydraulic fracturing allowed drillers to reach previously untapped oil and gas reserves trapped deep underground. Mixed with water and chemicals and pumped into the ground at high pressure, the coarse, round sand found under much of western Wisconsin is an ideal “proppant” to hold open fissures in rock formations. That growth was curtailed in 2015 as falling oil prices led to a slowdown in drilling, especially in areas like North Dakota. As drills went idle, so did Wisconsin’s sand mines, which have laid off hundreds of workers. State-level production data is not yet available for 2016, but national numbers show that after dropping about 30 percent, production surged last year to 105 million tons, just shy of the all-time record, and experts predict it will grow in 2018. Historically about a third of the national supply has come from Wisconsin.” With handy map; I hadn’t realized that the frac sand mining industry had such an enormous footprint.

Retail: “There’s no secret to the growth strategy at online lingerie seller Adore Me Inc. The New York-based startup plans to open 200 to 300 stores in the U.S. over the next five years…, hoping storefronts help it take market share from industry leader Victoria’s Secret. It’s the latest step by web-based retailers to build their own version of a multi-channel distribution strategy” [Wall Street Journal]. “Several online startups, including eyeglass maker Warby Parker and sneaker brand Greats, have opened physical stores even as some traditional brick-and-mortar chains have retreated. Lingerie has been protected somewhat from web sales because fit and comfort can be hard to assess online. But a shift toward simpler sizing and lenient return policies has made the category more viable online.” “Simpler sizing” sounds like crapification, to me; I used to be able to buy shoes that fit well; now I can’t. Perhaps readers can comment. But new brands opening physical locations makes me speculate that one issue with “traditional brick-and-mortar chains” wasn’t ZOMG!!! The Internet!!!! but inability to refresh and reinvent their brands, infected as they were with private equity parasites.

Shipping: “Shipping’s false idols of equity and debt” [Splash 247]. “If we go back to what got shipowners in their mess post-2008, it was cheap capital and over-ordering of ships. We are not going back to the exact same problems because banks this time are holding back loan capital from shipowners, even good shipowners. And this has forced on a new problem…. But what we have now is a pear-shaped mess. On the one hand we have high leverage players either hanging on by a thread or working through the mess of assets they got in at recent cycle highs. … And then we have a combination of new capital and survivors financing principally through equity cash raises…. What these owners and bankers have often missed, or more likely wholesale ignored, is that there is a cost to equity, which is far higher than debt….. When we look at WACC, the weighted average cost of capital, equity is usually a far more costly component – and yet many in the market behave as if it is free. Including the long-term tested investors.”

Supply Chain: “Blockchain is everywhere” [Logistics Management]. “‘When you look at the technology, the greatest value proposition of blockchain lies today in the supply chain for sectors like food, pharma, and high-value goods,’ [keynote speaker Adrian Gonzalez, head of Adelante SCM] said. ‘We are seeing some of that happening in pilot programs. My fear is that people will view it as a silver bullet solution for supply chain visibility. But the challenges related to supply chain visibility are not related to just software. There is still a lot of [bad] data and data across multiple different standards and computers, with different nomenclatures. There is the challenge of aggregating and cleansing data. Blockchain does not solve that.'” Sanity!

The Bezzle: “FMCSA Seeking Public Comment on Rules for Automated Commercial Vehicles” [Transport Topics]. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment through May 10 on regulations that may need to be updated, modified or eliminated to ‘facilitate the safe introduction of automated driving systems for commercial motor vehicles.'”

The Bezzle: “Exclusive: Arizona governor and Uber kept self-driving program secret, emails reveal” [Guardian]. “Uber’s behind-the-scenes efforts to court [Arizona governor Doug Ducey], and the governor’s apparent willingness to satisfy the company, is made clear in the emails, which were sent between 2015 and 2007 and obtained by the Guardian through public records requests. They reveal how Uber offered workspace for Ducey’s staff in San Francisco, praised the governor lavishly, and promised to bring money and jobs to his state. Ducey, meanwhile, helped Uber deal with other officials in Arizona, issued decrees that were friendly to the company, tweeted out an advert at the company’s request, and even seems to have been open to wearing an Uber T-shirt at an official event.”

UPDATE The Bezzle: Wowsers:

Yeah, gee, it’s not like enormous market power subsidized by venture capital gives companies impunity or something.

The Bezzle: “Trump hates Amazon, not Facebook” [Axios]. “Capitol Hill wants Facebook’s blood, but President Trump isn’t interested. Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon, according to five sources who’ve discussed it with him.” Holy moly:

What we’re hearing: Trump has talked about changing Amazon’s tax treatment because he’s worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business.

  • A source who’s spoken to POTUS: “He’s wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.” Trump’s deep-seated antipathy toward Amazon surfaces when discussing tax policy and antitrust cases. The president would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos’ wings. But he doesn’t have a plan to make that happen.
  • Behind the president’s thinking: Trump’s wealthy friends tell him Amazon is destroying their businesses. His real estate buddies tell him — and he agrees — that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick-and-mortar retailers.

It’s gonna be funny to watch liberal Democrats rush to the defense of a ginormous monopoly. Idea: Nationalize the cloud?

The Bezzle: “Amazon sheds $52 billion in market value after report on Trump threat” [Reuters]. “Amazon.com Inc’s shares fell as much as 7 percent on Wednesday, wiping out about $52 billion from the company’s market value, after a report that U.S. President Donald Trump wants to go after the U.S. tech giant.

The Bezzle: “Amazon’s stock tumbles into correction territory” [MarketWatch]. “Many on Wall Street define a correction as a decline of at least 10% to up to 20% from a significant high. The stock was currently 10.9% below the March 12 record close of $1,598.39. A close at or below $1,438.55 would mark the first correction since October. Despite the selloff, the stock has still run up 20% over the past three months.” Note the comments.

Five Horsemen: “Ex-juggernaut Amazon takes a fearful header” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 28 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index fell to 22 (worry) yesterday. New 52-week lows began exceeding new 52-week highs on March 14th and have carried on doing so for ten days straight” [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 Mar 27 2018

Facebook Fracas

“Soylent Analytica: The Graph is too Damn Open” [Truth on the Market]. “the situation with Cambridge Analytica offers an important cautionary tale about one of the perennial proposals for how to promote competition between social media platforms: “opening up the social graph.” The basic idea of these proposals is to make it easier for users of these platforms to migrate between platforms or to use the features of different platforms through data portability and interoperability. Specific proposals have taken various forms over the years, but generally they would require firms like Facebook to either make users’ data exportable in a standardized form so that users could easily migrate it to other platforms or to adopt a standardized API that would allow other platforms to interoperate with data stored on the Facebook platform…. In other words, proposals to ‘open the social graph are proposals to make it easier to export massive volumes of Facebook user data to third parties at efficient scale…. The easier that Facebook makes it for its users’ data to be exported at scale, the easier Facebook makes it for its users’ data to be exfiltrated at scale.”

There’s always a quote:

“Cambridge Analytica controversy must spur researchers to update data ethics” [Nature]. “Guidance does exist. A number of projects are grappling with the ethical challenges of big data…. Sticking points remain, a major one being that consent is often not practical when retrospectively accessing data from millions of individuals.” Not if we actually did own our personal data (such that Facebook, et al., had to rent it from us.)

“Facebook, please just hire one normal person” [The Outline]. Amusingly bad Facebook surveys.

Class Warfare

“Farmworkers to Wendy’s: No, We Didn’t “Exploit” #MeToo” [In These Times]. “[Corporate spokesperson Heidi Schauer] told journalist Kari Lydersen, ‘There’s no new news here, aside from the [Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)] trying to exploit the positive momentum that has been generated by and for women in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement to advance their interests.'” Something wrong with working people trying to advance their interests, apparently.

News of The Wired

“What We Know (and Don’t Know) About How to Lose Weight” [New York Times]. Sounds like Pollan was right: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” I wish I was better at the last two.

“The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right” [Grub Street]. “I want to lose weight. Is diet really more important than exercise? Yes. It is much easier to outeat running than to outrun all of the tempting calories that modern marketing encourages us to cram in. Both diet and exercise are important to health, and exercise is important in weight maintenance. But to lose weight, the preferential focus needs to be on controlling calories in, more than calories out.” The algorithm isn’t working. So I guess I’d better control my inputs.

The crapification of the Internet experience [Hacker News]. “It seems like the web is being optimized for casual users, and using the internet is no longer as skill you can improve to create a path towards a more meaningful web experience.” Many horror stories that readers may have shared.

“Bring back the landline. When we moved, my landline number was retained, but I understand the line itself was moved from copper to digital – which obviates the point of the exercise: namely, when Sandy hit, and the electricity went out, I disconnected my portable phone system, plugged in an old standard phone I retained against just such an eventuality, and could communicate with the outside world” [MidasWatch]. Amen.

The usual news from the Internet of Sh*t:

Good news from the Internet of Sh*t:

Or at least not unbad news.

* * *

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 (TH):

Busy bee!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the NC fundraiser. So do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. SimonGirty

        Missed it on the first pass, sorry! Trying to land this damn thing at LaGuardia, buy back Nvdia, SMH & BOTZ while typing, is quite a chore this intoxicated? I’m trying to picture is this will have even the slightest effect on Uber, or lose Pittsburgh a pretty good mayor… otherwise? I’m personally waiting to see an empty tractor pulling triple trailers through the Lincoln Tunnels as the monitor is, ah, er… occupied in the sleeper-cab. Or bad little kids hacking Chinese Volvo Ubers & driving them from their phones. https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/03/former-uber-backup-driver-we-saw-this-coming/556427/

        1. Carolinian

          That’s an excellent and comprehensive article. I don’t have the link but I’ve seen an article comparing the “super cruise controls” that are now being put in luxury vehicles and it said Cadillac was one of the best at handling the “handoff problem” with fewer false positives. From your link

          Yet implicit in such a relationship between car and human is what technologists call the “handoff problem,” or the flawed expectation that driving responsibility can be safely passed from machines to humans in a split-second. Studies have shown that human drivers rapidly lose their ability to focus on the road when a machine is doing most of the work. As Missy Cummings, the director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Laboratory, told Slate, “humans are terrible babysitters of automation.”

          It may well be that the technology for fully automatic driving just isn’t there yet and won’t be until there is no handoff. Still Waymo/Google doesn’t seem to be having Uber’s or Tesla’s difficulties so perhaps the tech is there. Not that it may matter if there are any more incidents like this one.

          1. Summer

            Incidents like that one won’t stop the show.
            As far as I can tell, it’s still profit over people as usual.
            Some money being shifted around, but all is the same.

          2. SimonGirty

            YOOJ wagons had been driving themselves for decades before CMU kids hit Pittsburgh’s icy, narrow, potholed flagstone 37% hills in robot controller vans, three decades back. Ciggy, bottle, pipe, phone or speed loader in driver’s hands; autonomous vehicles just HAVE to be an improvement, as long as our betters no longer have to abide smelly, indentured, drowsy deplorables living in their car, as the repo man tracks them down waiting for ICE to cart them off? I’m guessing autonomous vehicle equities will rebound by tomorrow?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Or bad little kids hacking Chinese Volvo Ubers

          Or bad little kids bricking every robot car in Manhattan simultaneously, with special attention to gridlock intersections.

          1. SimonGirty

            I keep remembering that Intercept article about an Army War College fantasy, where evil, bad pepuls melt-down Susquehanna/ Berwick then procede to bomb all the Hudson tunnels & GW Bridge. Remember discussing this after 9/11, up the Poconos after the plant’s refueling, it’s not unlike Tepco GE reactors. We hadn’t known about this added vulnerability at the time. Frankly, in UWS Manhattan, 60 yr old Chinese guys going 35mph anywhichway, silently, without lights on illegal 80lb electric bicycles are scarier?

            1. SimonGirty

              When autonomous hacks & delivery trucks get confused, whack something or simply develop attitudes, 1099 gig-economy contingency serfs will rescue us? I’m trying to visualize just how, some stoned half asleep Uzbek kid will extricate a 4,800lb Uber gas microturbine hybrid Geeley from an accident scene, secure the fare inside while avoiding debris, flames, uncooperative or incapacitated pedestrians and armed first responders? Just imagine all the hilarious, free footage for reality shows?

    1. Carolinian

      I hear that AZ is thinking about banning all self drive cars–there are several thousand at the moment–and not just Uber. Waymo has even been running cars without the safety driver as they do in California. It might be interesting to hear stories from some of the passengers of all those cars. Do they sign a waiver before entering?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Perhaps the deal is the same as with EULAs in software: Entering the car in the first place means giving a waiver (“informed consent”). If it isn’t, it will be.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Not that I’m a fan of Doug Ducey, but is he any more of an Uber fanguy than Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh?

  1. UserFriendly

    This is absolutely hilarious!

    It’s easy to laugh at thetans, E-meters, and afterlife portals on Venus. But if you believe we are living in a simulated reality built by a higher intelligence, that we need to remain vigilant against computers as they inevitably reach singularity and become sentient, while pursuing the totally rational and realistic mission of colonizing Mars — well, you are as religious as any Scientologist. If Hubbard managed to sell a poor man’s space opera to his followers as the Divine Truth, Musk is peddling an equally unoriginal pitch. “Mars Trilogy meets The Matrix meets The Terminator!”

    Elon Musk’s mythology is full of Promethean tasks for mankind, and as with any religion, they are spearheaded by the Prophet himself. Yes, the chance that everything you know is not just a cosmic computer game is “one in billions” — but this is good news, sayeth Elon, since otherwise the world might be coming to an end. Better safe than sorry, though, which is why Musk is transforming us into an “interplanetary species” by 2024. As for our godlike sentient computers (they’re almost here!), those will eventually spawn endless new virtual realities, in a glorious cycle of recursive creation stories, originating with demiurgic geeks jerking off to their PlayStations. “The singularity for this level of the simulation is coming soon,” Musk has declared. No wonder the doctrine is often described as “the Rapture for geeks” — and not just ironically.

    1. David

      It’s a shame because the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation is a serious one developed by the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who has a serious discussion of it, and a lot of ideas relating to AI, transhumanism etc. on his webpage. I suspect Musk just read about it somewhere.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When we are aware of the hidden truth that reality is a computer simulation, we have outsmarted our Simulator. We know something He/She/It doesn’t make plain to us.

        If the hiding is to test whether we can figure it out or not, and since we have, then, the Simulator should step forward to announce the success of His/Her/Its creation.

        Alternatively, we have surprised Him/Her/It in a negative way (we were designed to be ignorant of it), and panic ensues. The program is being revised as we speak.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Thats an interesting way to look at it: what if the AI ‘singularity’ we are fearing in our own world as quantum computers and neural nets become just sophisticated enough to become self-aware is precisely what we (if in simulator land) have just started to do to the simulator creator(s) by becoming dimly aware of it ourselves…we are *their* self-aware AI, even as we fear our own self-aware AI.

          Then again, maybe the whole ‘rewriting of the program’ of which you speak is, in fact, the genesis of our own self-aware AI aka Skynet taking control and nuking us all to glass.

          Have to have a shot of scotch now….

        2. Anonymized

          Reminds me of the South Park episode where the kids discover that the Earth was just a giant alien reality TV show which was now scheduled for cancellation because the aliens thought the show became lame when the subjects figured out they were on TV.

        3. Procopius

          Can’t remember the author, there was a novel back in the ’60s or so. Maybe one of Philip K. Dick’s? The protagonist and the girl fight against the simulation computer and win. In the end we learn that this is the simulation they live in, and the simulation continues with them believing they are free of it. How would you tell the difference?

      2. Summer

        We’d do well to remember magicians.
        They never made anything disappear, but people surely convinced themselves things disappeared.
        Their minds did all the work.

      3. witters

        “the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation is a serious one developed by the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom…”

        Here I prefer the words of Galen Strawson: “As Cicero says, there is “no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.” Descartes agrees, in 1637: “Nothing can be imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some philosopher.” Thomas Reid concurs in 1785: “There is nothing so absurd which some philosophers have not maintained.” Louise Antony puts it like this in 2007: “There is… no banality so banal that no philosopher will deny it.”

        Descartes adds that when it comes to speculative matters, “the scholar… will take… the more pride [in his views] the further they are from common sense… since he will have had to use so much more skill and ingenuity in trying to render them plausible.” Or as C.D. Broad says, some 300 years later: some ideas are “so preposterously silly that only very learned men could have thought of them… by a ‘silly’ theory I mean one which may be held at the time when one is talking or writing professionally, but which only an inmate of a lunatic asylum would think of carrying into daily life.”

    2. Pavel

      Yesterday I stumbled on an article about The Boring Company’s plans to link Baltimore with Washington so people can “travel between them in 15 minutes” — presumably using his physics-defying Hyperloop concept. What is truly delusional is that they think “it can be completed in 12-20 months”. In the meantime Tesla can’t even produce 2000 cars per week.

      The Boring Company Just Mapped Its D.C.-Baltimore Hyperloop-Ready Route

      The proposal is the latest under the company that wants to revolutionize the exciting world of tunnel boring. The parallel, twin underground tunnels will sit at least 30 feet deep. The project is expected to take between 12 and 20 months depending on machine speed, with the construction of four machine “launch pits” taking around four weeks. The only other surface penetrations will come from ventilation shafts and emergency exits (around 20 but no more than 70, between 12 and 24 feet diameter) and stations “the size of a few parking spaces” and “widely distributed in a network,” built on private land with local government input on location. Autonomous electric skates will transport either a single passenger vehicle or a pod of between eight to 16 passengers, with pedestrians and cyclists prioritized over cars.

      The man is bonkers. I’m not surprised the $TSLA stock price has collapsed in the last few days. Apart from anything else imagine the security risks.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” — Michael Pollan

    Since so many have refused to comply, real-time telemetric monitoring regrettably has become necessary:

    You may soon be able to monitor everything you eat in real-time, digitally through a tooth-mounted sensor. New miniaturized sensors were developed by researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering.

    The small device, made of three layers, would track everything you consume, including glucose, salt and alcohol. It would then transmit the data wirelessly to a mobile device.

    “In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Tufts professor Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study.


    Don’t miss the photo of a little gold square epoxied to a front tooth. No need for parole officers to make surprise home visits anymore — the tooth chip alerts them in real time if a perp sips a beer or takes a toke. It’s an oral ankle bracelet.

    Soon enough tooth chips will become a fashion item, like baggy pants, for wannabe gangstas. But after universal health care arrives, tooth chips will be mandated for all of us. Mommy Gov isn’t gonna put up with us drinking, drugging and salty snack fooding when she’s picking up the tab.

    “Same old, same old” is the end game: only plutocrats who opt out of universal health care will be able to indulge in cigars, brandy and bud on the deck of their yacht. Toot toot, anchors aweigh!

    1. laughingsong

      hate to say it, but I finally found a diet that 1) I could stick to, and 2) worked . . . and it wasn’t eating mostly plants. In fact it was eating mostly fat: a Ketogenic diet. Like Atkins, except it limits protein intake more than Atkins does, and also recommends only slowly increasing your carbs after you hit your target.

      For the first time in dieting (I’m almost 60) I was not hungry all the time, I could stick to it because I like stuff like butter, cheese, and bacon, and I did NOT have to go to the effin gym 3-4 days a week. I lost 40 pounds and I can maintain it easily. I did have to adjust: it’s best to cook stuff yourself so you know the type and quality of the meat and oils . . . and I do not like cooking. However, I cook one day a week and eat the stuff the rest of the week so it’s all good.

      1. David

        Yup, keto is a strict form of the Low Carbohydrate High Fat (LCHF) diet, which has proved to be highly successful, and is being increasingly accepted by medical organisations. It involves cutting out processed foods and sugars as well. There’s a large literature on it and many websites, and i’d recommend it enthusiastically from personal experience. It’s not just about losing weight either – it benefits a whole range of health issues, notably T2 diabetes.

      2. Lee

        I know someone who appears to be thriving on the keto diet. I did Atkins for awhile. My favorite snack was a piece of bacon used as a cracker with triple cream brie and sliced strawberry. I lost weight and my blood pressure, cholesterol etc. were all good. Now, I just limit refined carbs, pretty much follow the Pollan recommendation, and my favorite snack is fruit, cheese, and walnuts. Also, gave up alcohol.

      3. The Prescription Was Clear

        Interesting I suppose, have any of you dieters ever tried simply being a vegetarian instead?

        I mostly feed myself with coca-cola and chocolate, as far as calories go, with vegetables or vitamin pils as food supplement. Bread serves as volume source.

        Have always been thin and I never actually feel hunger as such (I think no vegetarian ever experinces that “feeling of a full stomach,” I believe it to be meat related), I mostly feel a need to chew, which I consider simmilar to a desire to masturbate; I indulge regularily, of course, but there were times when I managed to under-feed myself, I learned my lesson and now make sure calories are always aplenty.

        I never cook, never wash dishes, and don’t care one bit for stuff that requires “preparation.”

        (It does help if one litterally can’t stand the taste of meat, so perhaps not an option for many.)

        1. Yves Smith

          You can do a ketogenic diet and be a vegetarian. You would eat stuff like cheese, tofu, and eggs (in butter!)

          What people do not discuss enough re a keto diet is:

          1. Good part, you lose weight faster for the same calorie restriction (if you read the Times article, it makes pretty clear that even if calories aren’t necessarily the best measure of food intake, in fact calorie restriction works in weight loss). The trick of keto is that when your body doesn’t get enough glucose to run from food, it makes it from fats and proteins. It is less efficient at doing that. So your body goes into your fat stores faster…and is having to use them to make glucose, which also means it needs to use more fat to do that than if you weren’t in a ketogenic state to get the same energy output. This is crudely stated but directionally correct.

          2. Bad part, you are clearly not getting the good stuff you get from veggies and fruits. Not just vitamins and all of that, but micronutrients. So it isn’t such a hot idea to do a ketogenic diet for more than a relatively short period, say a couple of months maximum, and then be sure to take dietary supplements (I would recommend whole food vitamins).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What favor is that tooth-mounted sensor? (In case anyone becomes really hungry and needs something to chew on)

    3. polecat

      I wanna whole grill’s worth …
      Not !
      Maybe someone will forward a terse comment to the CPSC re. the above nefarious monitoring junktech.

  3. Synoia

    While control of that chamber would give Democrats a platform from which to investigate the president, his family and the entire administration, it would also give Trump something he desperately needs: a very visible enemy.” Or maybe Trump found one; “a malefactor of great wealth.” See below (though this could all change in one news cycle, Trump being Trump).

    Err – Trump was a democrat before running as a Republican. If he wants to win in 2020 he could always switch parties in 2018.

    Then a D congress would not be so quick to continue their arrant bullshit opposition, and actually be on the spot for producing beneficial legislation.

    1. Jim Haygood

      This year could be deja vu all over again:

      After the passage of the heavily damaging Smoot Hawley tariff, a policy that was bitterly opposed by the Democratic party, Republican policies began to fall out of favor.

      Democrats gained 52 seats in the 1930 election. Though Republicans retained a narrow majority after the polls closed, they lost a number of special elections following the deaths of 19 representatives and representatives-elect prior to the reconvening of Congress.

      This resulted in Democrats having a one-seat majority at the opening of the legislature, which then rose to a four-seat majority after the first month of the session. Republicans would not control the chamber again until 1946.


      Though Herbert Hoover Trump is a gift to Democrats, they may yet succeed in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, as is their wont. Typhoid Hillary is tanned, rested and ready to hit the campaign trail on behalf of deserving candidates. :-0

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You don’t often see that many (19) caught by the Grim Reaper in such a short time.

        Did the tariff lead to medicine shortages? Fewer doctors from abroad?

    2. dcblogger

      What a great idea, Trump should run as a Democrat and he would not get a single vote in the Iowa caucuses or anywhere else. Trump is a horrible president, which is why Democrats and everyone not a Republican oppose him. This is not complicated.

  4. Carla

    “make insurance companies nonprofits.” — HAH ! The Cleveland Clinic Foundation is “nonprofit” and as rapacious institutions go, it’s right up there with the best of them. — er, I guess I mean, the worst of them.

    1. Scott

      The two biggest health insurance companies in Massachusetts are both nonprofits and we have among the most expensive health insurance in the entire country. They even pay their board members.

      As a friend once told me, the only difference between a for-profit and a non-for-profit is that the latter gets to spend all the money it gets.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        From my experience, non-profit hospitals tend to be shell corporations which contract out all revenue producing functions to for-profit enterprises owned by the board members, who are typically physicians skilled at public displays of concern and hand-wringing.

  5. allan

    The Bezzle: Wowsers: Third Circuit rules for Uber in antitrust suit.

    So, illegal actions to destroy your legal competitors are not anti-competitive. OK.
    All three judges on the panel are Democratic appointees (two by Clinton and one by Obama),
    including Ed Rendell’s ex-wife. Just makes you want to pound the pavement and GOTV, doesn’t it?

    1. Procopius

      Usually, when I see a mind-boggling decision like that one, if I ask around or do some digging, I find that the prosecutor for seemingly obscure reasons, chose to file charges that were not supported by the evidence he/she had in hand. I don’t know any of the background of this case, but given that the offenses were breaking regulations of the city and state, why was the prosecutor trying to sue based on antitrust law? If you bring charges under the wrong law, as the federal prosecutors did in the Bundy bird sanctuary case a couple years ago, then the court is nearly certain to find against you. Here in Thailand that sometimes seems to happen when there are reasons why the prosecutor might be reluctant to be charging the individual and not really want a conviction.

  6. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Arizona governor and Uber

    Short version: he’s a sex worker. That’s how the free market version of Democracy works.

  7. Mark Gisleson

    NY Times diet article dances around the same point every other mainstream diet article omits: everything they say is 100% consistent with getting processed food out of your diet but they will not come out and say that directly. They talk about added sugar and more fruits and vegetables but refuse to acknowledge how little junk food it takes to undo a healthy diet.

    1. Yves Smith


      The study did not prove that. Your statement is probably correct but you are demanding that the author falsify what the study found. The article points out that the study had the subjects avoid sugars and whatnot. But there was no control group of people who also restricted calories but were allowed to have junk foods.

    2. The Prescription Was Clear

      Yeah, about those “junk” foods…

      In cases where I didn’t get my Coca-cola/chocolate/sweet/salty-snacks/etc I simply wouldn’t get enough calories.

      You can’t eat healthy food – (un)cooked vegetables – and expect to get enough calories, it’s virtually impossible.

      Either you add high caloric foods into the mix (meat, oil, etc) or you go with the so-called “junk” foods, but how is this any different? it costs a lot more, true, so the ideology serves well as an assault on the poor, any other, preferably positive, differences?

    1. perpetualWAR

      NO! I’m leaving Seattle/Puget Sound area because Amazon cluster[family blogged] our city/region so thoroughly.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      No. It is right to root for Trump’s war on Amazon. When circumstances brought USSR into alliance with DC/UK during WWII, we welcomed that alliance. In the same way, Amazon is evil enough and richly enough deserving of extermination from existence and enwipement from the face of the earth that we should welcome a powerful Ally like Trump in this particular war.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      What is surprising is how weak Amazon’s position must be if the threat of a little government regulation sends it’s stock tumbling downhill. Imagine if they list ten percent of their revenue via a boycott.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        But but but…Bezos is so cool! His blog newspaper WaPo is so anti-war, so pro-single payer, so not-on-board with WWIII/Russia. He’s a really cool guy! It’s not like his 70-year old part time workers are living in their vans in the parking lot and relying on food stamps to survive or anything. It’s not like he bankrupted Mom and Pop bricks-and-mortar shops on Main Street, only to open his own…bricks-and-mortar shops. But but but look at all of the corporate taxes Amazon pays, surely they help the host country this parasite sucks on?

        Where’s our Teddy?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I guess this makes the case for locating the 2nd HQ in DC.

          Many politicians have family members who could use a good paying local job.

        2. Code Name D

          Carefull. Its price was inflated to begin with. It was bound to come down soon anyway.

  8. Enquiring Mind

    When I read about more Cambridge Analytica stories I bounce between to reactions.
    1. This is news?
    2. An inordinate desire to drive a stake through the MSM/DNC/bfd heart and bury it at the crossroads.

  9. dcblogger

    I am not keen on running veterans for office. Other than the continued militarization of American culture, I can’t help remember that almost all the veterans voted for the Iraq war.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think militarization is the proper frame, but it’s not only the veterans who are militarized (as we would expect them to be) but the intelligence and law enforcement communities as well (and arguably, militarizing them is worse). That’s why I threw them all into the MILO bucket.

      Sanders had better be thinking of getting some anti-war military types into his campaign, the way things are going.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Be interesting to find out if there is any correlation between anti-war feelings for those that actually saw combat and those that were remfs. I’ve heard that those vets from WW2 that saw some really heavy duty stuff didn’t want anything to do with any returned serviceman’s organizations after the war was over. Tulsi Gabbard is a vet that has turned anti-war. Probably because of her service in Iraq. Actually had the courage to visit Syria last year to see what the real situation was.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              this was a topic under the Big Oak, one night.
              if i’m not misremembering, every single WW2 Vet I knew(all dead, now) was anti-war…often vehemently…no matter their politics(Eugene Debs to John Birch Spectrum).
              I haven’t known many Korean Action(!?) Vets, but those I have were all on the Bircher end of the scale, and remained belligerent regarding FP.
              I’ve known lots, and lots of Viet Nam Vets, and every one of them is anti-war…this group also has the highest(anecdotal to the max, here) incidence of actually observable mental/emotional/drug issues…which I figure is worth looking at.
              Only knew one Iraq1 Vet. insufficient data.
              and I know a few Bushwar Vets and current Servicepeople….and i can’t speak yet to moods/ policies/prospects…but I also can’t get over how Young they are.
              This all rather taboo, I suspect…so can it if you want.
              I’ve discussed this with a handful of Viet Nam Vets(stepdad’s buddies, with lots of alcohol), and there seems to be reluctant agreement.
              Reckon doing a study(as if it would be allowed) would be a challenge, given the subjectivity involved, but then again, there’s value in just asking, I have found.

          2. JohnnyGL

            Those vets who’ve been ‘recruited’ to run were picked for a reason. I suspect they’re not particularly representative of most vets.

      1. John k

        Not sure he needs more enemies than he has now. And anyway, does he need to be anti war to win against trump? Hard to believe.
        Trump wanted to be buddies with Russia and send cia types into the field before election. Was this wise? Would it not have been better to wait until in office to quietly put into place people with those views? Not that was capable of finding people with those views.
        Presumably (hopefully?) Bernie would do it better.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > anyway, does he need to be anti war to win against trump? Hard to believe.

          Military casualties correlate with votes for Trump. So I think the flyover states are war-weary, and a “No More Wars” stance would work for Sanders there. I’m hoping his Yemen bill was the start of his evolution, as we say, on this issue (and removes the taint of that F-35 base). Besides, why not be good on policy for its own sake?

  10. a different chris

    >t is much easier to outeat running than to outrun all of the tempting calories that modern marketing encourages us to cram in.

    Sigh, they’re not wrong they are just incredibly over-confident in their really simple minded view of human biology (hey guys, hear about the new organ? Surprised?).

    You can reduce your calories and you will lose weight… oh wait, maybe you won’t your metabolism might just slow down to compensate. You should eat less of this because we burned it in a calorimeter and it… means nothing because a calorimeter relates in absolutely no way to how a human body works.

    And I could go on. You do need exercise to get the your metabolism to change, not just slow down, methinks. But not sure of anything, which puts me ahead of these know-it-alls.

  11. Edward E

    Email: Thank you for your interest in driving for xxxx….! We have received your application and have been trying to reach you. Please call us at 1-800-$$$-xxxx to continue the hiring process. Thank you,
    Blah-blah Driver Recruiting
    Replies to this message are undeliverable. Please do not reply.

    I didn’t submit any application yet. But they sure filled one out for me! Guess if y’all don’t see me any more, look out for a hillbilly chained to a truck somewhere. Geez

  12. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: Supply Chain: “Blockchain is everywhere”

    Meanwhile, Wall Street may be pulling back from the idea (i.e., they’re not finding exploitable money in it).

    Reuters has found several blockchain projects launched by major financial institutions that have been shelved, as development of the technology enters a hype-meets-reality phase.

    The casualties include projects by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), BNP Paribas SA (BNPP.PA) and SIX Group.

    The DTCC, BNP Paribas and SIX tests were among a barrage of blockchain “proofs of concept” announced with great fanfare by financial institutions.

    “A large part of the problem has been expectation management, or rather lack thereof by many vendors and large consultancies that made claims that could not be fulfilled in the time spans they had said on stage at fintech events,” said Tim Swanson, founder of technology advisory Post Oak Labs.


  13. visitor

    The usual news from the Internet of Sh*t:

    The message reports that the fallback option for a remotely operated “smart light switch” failed since “the physical light switch wouldn’t [work] because its battery is dead”.

    A physical light switch that is battery-powered?

    If I were an optimist, I would say that a bunch of very young STEM guys in a room somewhere in the Silicon Valley brainstormed for a spoof product as a 1st April joke — and the result was taken seriously by some venture capitalists.

    Unfortunately, I have that deep uneasy feeling that the very young STEM guys in Silicon Valley were actually brainstorming seriously, and that they were utterly convinced this battery-powered “physical” light switch embodied progress in the age of the ubiquitous Internet. And they were not even bright enough STEM people to figure out how to take advantage of the energy provided by a person pushing a button or rotating a dial to power their contraption…

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, in my co-op, the co-op commanders took out all our traditional bi-metallic thermostats and put in battery-powered digital thermostats because they were considered more fashionably modern. So the concept has existed for a while.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That makes sense, though, since they’re also programmable, which saves fuel. Now, making your boiler dependent on the Intertubes instead of a battery, that’s a bit more sketchy.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Here’s the punchline . . . . it isn’t even programmable. It can only be set manually to one set-and-leave-it temperature anyway. Only now we have to push a button and watch the digital numbers go up or down till we know it is set where we want it. Then it just stays there thermostatting.

          No programmability at all. Just a battery to go dead and need changing on the coldest day of winter.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I still miss my analog bi-metallic-strip thermostat.

              If I ever have a real house or even a houselet of my very own, I will give it an analog bi-metallic-strip thermostat if such things even exist by then.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Residential gas-fired boilers used to have a millivolt generator to power the bimetallic thermostat, so the steam heat could stay on during a power outage (this is in the northeast, where steam radiators still exist in older houses).

        Modern boilers need 120 volt AC power for the control logic and flue damper, which locks out operation if there’s no power.

        So when the power goes out, your gas heating stops and you freeze in the dark … as millions learnt during Hurricane Sandy. Engineers assumed the victims owners would just check into a B&B for the duration — doesn’t everybody?

        Tesla would be happy to sell you a Powerwall, which is probably superior to unreliable engine-powered generators.


        Hoping to pick one up cheap in Tesla’s bankruptcy auction. ;-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Keeping one’s powder dry and get ready to back up the truck.

          Bargains also coming up in Venezuela?

      3. HotFlash

        It should be possible to get a thermo that doesn’t require a battery. Toronto Hydro replaced all their customers’ bi-metallic (sniff — an old round Dreyfus designed Honeywell, sniff) thermo with a digital which needs no battery, couple a decades back. Doesn’t work in a black-out, but then neither does my main house heat (gas-fired hot water, but needs an electric pump). My backup is a gas fireplace does work in a blackout, piezo-elecric thermo, fan optional and a bike-powered fan warms you twice (h/t H D Thoreau). We have a plan C back-up, too, for if the gas goes off but the Hydro is still working, and a Plan D for if all else fails. Over the years I have been *so* happy that I planned ahead. And I’m not even a prepper, just someone who respects Canuck winters and the fallibility of systems.

    2. polecat

      Yes. Can’t have light switches connect to .. like, ACTUAL HOUSE WIRING, like … right !


    3. Summer

      And why shouldn’t their designs be BS?
      Why not try anything when you have capitive, unprotected consumers that fall for anything?

      1. Procopius

        Due to wealth inequality, much power is in the hands of people who are dumb. They think a “juicer” that squeezed most of the juice out of a package and is connected to the internet is a great investment opportunity. Because they have all that wealth because of their education and special skills, amirite?

  14. Bruce F

    Over 10 years ago I was told by my Dr. to change my diet or go on blood pressure pills. I was also 30 lbs overweight after quitting sports. I never found vegetarian food palatable, it’s almost like learning a new language – retraining your taste buds. I found Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” to be a terrific resource on making all those “weird” foods tasty.

    To finish up the anecdote, over time my health improved without pills , and I dropped the weight. I had a hidden affinity for Indian food, who knew?

  15. stillfeelintheberninwi

    If you want the latest from Wisconsin, an appeals court just ruled against the Guv. He is trying to keep from having to call elections for two seats. A democrat won a seat in a special election that should have been an easy win for the GOP, thus, time for the Guv to step in and FIX that by not calling special elections for two seats that opened because he appointed the folks to positions in his administration. Walker’s argument is that it is too “expensive.” Of course, the vacancies came late in 2017, elections could have been called and run with the spring elections which take place next week.

    Eric Holder’s group sued and late last week a judge (appointed by Walker, no less) ruled that he must call the elections. Of course, the Guv appealed and at the same time the GOP controlled legislature is planning an extraordinary session to CHANGE the law. This ruling today is the appeal on his motion to delay because the legislature might change the law.

    I love the end of the ruling…”Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources and the calling of the special elections are, as the governor acknowledges, his ‘obligation,'”

    The judges have been very hard on the Guv in their decisions. After the first ruling came out, the speaker of the Assembly, call the judge an activist “Madison liberal” judge. The media let him know she was a Walker appointee, and Vos basically said you can’t always be sure you are appointing the right people.

    Now the Guv is appealing to the Wisconsin Supreme Court…do I need to tell you how they line up? And we have a Supreme Court election next Tuesday. And lots of GOP dirty tricks going on there. I’ll put some links below. Interesting times. If Dallet wins, that is probably a big signal of change in the Badger state.






    Read down in this one about the secret recording that the GOP got from a fundraiser that they are using in an ad against Dallet.


  16. blennylips

    “Concerns over a deepening U.S.-China trade conflict are reaching into supply chains around the Pacific Rim…

    That’s not all that is “reaching into supply chains around the Pacific Rim”, and nary a mention in the article!

    First, from DuffelBlog yesterday:
    Sailor late to work faces harsher punishment than officers indicted in Fat Leonard scandal

    You do remember that scandal, right? Take it away, RollingStone:

    By Jesse Hyde
    March 11, 2018
    The rise and fall of the defense contractor who bought off Navy brass with meals, liquor, women and bribes

  17. Big River Bandido

    The trouble with Charlie Cook’s analysis of the state of House races is that all his stats are “generic”. It’s one thing to look at polling numbers by party (even though the Democrats are not a real one).

    In November, however, it’s looking like Democrats will have to appeal to voters with the Blue Dogs and corporate kleptocrat candidates that they have rigged to get on the ballots. Those candidates will not be able to boost turnout (enough) among the key constituencies needed to form that kind of a wave.

    And if the candidates the Democrats nominate carry that neoliberal stench, it would frankly be better for the left (and the country) if that faction were *not* returned to power for a two- or four-year reign of foolishness.

    It would be better if the Democrats were in the wilderness until its corrupt elements are either purged or “brought to heel”.

    1. John k

      Better a neolib rep than a neolib dem because if the dem is elected it helps entrench the neolib dem party.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The trouble with Charlie Cook’s analysis of the state of House races is that all his stats are “generic”. It’s one thing to look at polling numbers by party (even though the Democrats are not a real one).

      Oh, I totally agree. The only way forward is to look at individual districts and candidates (which I try to do with the Worksheet series, which at least gives us direction information on the party). That’s why I try to be so granular here. Still, it’s also important to know what the political class is thinking, and Cook is a good proxy for that.

      As far as the wave, and its likely squandering, yes, I think the Dems are aiming for a straight replay of 2006 – 2008. I don’t think we can tell what will happen with turnout, because we don’t have enough information yet (and 222 days is a long time in politics).

      I think the decision about whether it’s best for the Democrats to spend time in the wilderness ’til they’re purged, or returned to power, depends on whether one is a “worse is better” type or not, and that in turn depends on the desperation of one’s own situation (and, perhaps, on whether one regards the liberal Democrats as opponents or enablers of the country’s gradual swing toward authoritarianism). Personally, since I think “gridlock is our friend,” I’m not averse to the Democrats taking back the House, especially if Pelosi, as she did in 2006, betrays her base on impeachment (because I think impeachment would tear the country apart).

      NOTE Adding, I’m not sure I agree that the Democrats are not a real party; the difficulty lies in determining what a party is in the first place. If you mean that they’re not a membership organization, like Labour (or the DSA), yes.

  18. PKMKII

    Regarding Max Rose: He’s by far the squishy centrist of the Democrat primary for that district. Zach Emig is the sorta progressive, and Omar Vaid is the closest thing to a berniecrat, although he currently doesn’t live in the district and will be moving there soon. Doesn’t much matter though, the district covers Staten Island and a small slice of south Brooklyn (that the representative ignores regardless of party), so it’s a solidly safe Republican seat. It took a DUI, an extramarital love child, and the Obama wave the last time a Dem held the seat.

  19. Adrienne

    Re: losing weight. I’m always interested to see what the MSM has to say about dieting and weight loss. The NYT article is interesting in that the study participants didn’t seem to differ in their diet results based on the type of diet, genetics, or insulin sensitivity.

    As someone who has struggled to keep her weight in the not-obese category for half a century, it’s only been in the past three years that I have had any success with gradually reducing my baseline weight.

    Everybody has their own diet advice, of course, so mine isn’t any better than anyone else’s–but these strategies have worked for me:

    –Any diet in which you are often hungry will not work. Your body will fight your brain night and day to satisfy its hunger, and your brain will lose, eventually. Biology!
    –Fat is good. Eating fat with carbs completely changes how our bodies process both.
    –Find out what triggers your food cravings. Is it stress? Sugar? Booze? All of the above? Knowing your triggers will help you push thru the overeating temptations.
    –Don’t drink your calories. Just forget that soft drinks exist. Diet drinks are the worst. Fruit juice is high in calories and sugar, so drink it sparingly.
    –Use smaller containers. 4 oz. juice glasses for juice. 6 oz. custard cups for snacky stuff. Smaller dinner plates and bowls. It seems crazy but it really helps trick your brain into eating less. (Thrift stores are great places to find older, smaller dishes.)
    Alcohol is Instant Fat for a lot of people, and it seems to have an outsize effect for weight gain beyond its caloric value. Cutting back on alcohol is good for your health all around. I never really liked hard liquor, so that was an easy one; I still love beer, but it has to be a special occasion thing. My daily drink is hard cider, cut 1/1 with unflavored sparkling water. Wine can also be cut with sparkling water and still be very drinkable. Cutting alcohol consumption is hands down the easiest way I’ve found to lose weight.
    –if you’re overweight, your body will generally want to stay that way. It’s the set-point idea, and for most people your baseline weight will rise as you age. Thus your efforts to eat well will need to be maintained for the rest of your life. “Dieting” is bogus: you have to permanently change the way you eat in order to keep the weight off.
    –Be patient! It takes a long time to reduce your baseline weight. Around one-half to one pound a week is a realistic goal.
    –Try not to get too crazy about it all. For example, when I’m on vacation I don’t stress a whole lot about what I’m eating. Ditto being invited to dinner. Ditto wintertime. My weight fluctuates about 5 pounds from winter to summer; losing that 5 pounds isn’t that hard any more now that I have a working strategy.

    Good luck!

    1. Scott

      The points about liquid calories are especially true, I remember that when I started to gain weight it was because I had started drinking fruit juices (mostly orange juice). I stopped and with a few other minor changes was able to lose the weight. People just don’t understand how many calories are in drinks. As you mentioned this is especially true with alcohol, switching from beer to light beer doesn’t make a major difference as most of the calories in beer come from the calories, not the carbohydrates, and may even make it worse as it is less filling, causing people to drink more, thus increasing their overall caloric intake.

  20. Summer

    RE: “In other words, proposals to ‘open the social graph are proposals to make it easier to export massive volumes of Facebook user data to third parties at efficient scale…. The easier that Facebook makes it for its users’ data to be exported at scale, the easier Facebook makes it for its users’ data to be exfiltrated at scale.”

    Marketers and corporations are counting on it. They are full steam ahead with their projections based on getting this “social” data.
    Marketers biggest concern: that “gen Z” will care about privacy.

  21. Craig H.

    > Diet

    The best web overview I have seen is by nurse and cryonicist (ok, laugh) Mike Darwin:

    Interventive Gerontology 1.0.02: First, Try to Make it to the Mean: Diet as a life extending tool, Part 1. August 18, 2011

    oops I borked the link


    He covers Pritikin, Atkins, all the biggies. The one he endorses is the Seventh day adventist diet. (loma linda soy hot dogs!) Lots of references. If you ever watch a youtube on how they make regular hot dogs you might convince yourself loma linda hot dogs + mustard are quite delicious.

  22. JohnnyGL


    Awful to see such slut-shaming and misogyny (from women, too!) But exactly right that they know the game that CNN is playing and they’re not having it. I think the media coverage of Stormy is more about bottom-feeding for ratings than part of the campaign to impeach. Can they possibly think this is going to bring down Trump?

    1. JTMcPhee

      And if the women and others who want to “bring down Trump” are all concerned about those “women’s issues” like abortion and equal pay and stuff, are paying any attention to strategy and tactics, have they paid any attention to who comes along next in the order of succession? Might be worth a glance at Article II, the 20th and 25th Amendments, there in the Constitution, and the Presidential Succession Act, and other little bits of “archaic law.” What’s his name, again? Pence or something?

      But I’m sure he would be “anyone but Trump.”

      I recall a rah-rah cheer from back when I played football in high school (slightly revised:) “CLAP YOUR HANDS! STAMP YOUR FEET! TRUMP THE MAN-PIG MUST BE BEAT!” And another one, for the more literate: “IMPEACH HIM! IMPEACH HIM! MAKE HIM RELINQUISH THE THRONE!”

      You go, people! Resist!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The only women’s issues that Women For Clinton ever cared about and will ever care about are the Goldman Sachs Feminism issues. Issues of breaking the Tiffany Glass Ceiling and so forth.

        And their distaste for Trump is mainly based on class-status and style. They feel Trump is some kind of plumber who made a billion dollars. Who does that greasy prole think he is . . . to have a billion dollars? Hillary is WAYYYYY classier than Trump.

        And the mainstream Clintobamacrats feel the same way but even more so. They actively prefer Pence over Trump, because Pence is one of them. He is part of the bipartisan Depublicratic Elite. He respects the “norms” and the “grace” and the “style” of office. He was a SENator! AND a GOVernor! And what was Trump? Wasn’t Trump some kind of a plumber or builder or something? And a Reality TV host? I mean . . . gag me with a spoon! right?

        If the Borgons can get Trump impeached, or Ammendment Twenty-Fived, or something, they will all line up behind their new President Pence. All the Pink Pussy Hat feminists . . . women . . . whatever . . . will support President Pence. Because Trump was never a Member of the Club. And Pence was, is, and always will be.

        So Pence is quietly waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting. . . . Pence is the rattlesnake in Trump’s sleeping bag, the scorpion in the toe of Trump’s boot. If the Borgon Depublicrats can put wheels under Trump’s easy chair and roll Trump out the side door,
        Pence will roll right on in.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whenever there is a problem needing to be addressed,

      1. You have to see that there is a problem

      2. It’s better you address it, than to have the other team do it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hillary was supposed to be the lesser evil of her and Trump.

      The D Party, to Sanders, seems to be the lesser evil of the two parties (the D and the R party).

      If you couldn’t live with Hillary as your choice in 2016, you can’t live with the D party full of sell out Dems as the option now.

      So, we reform Hillary and we reform the D party, I think.

      And if we are able to reform Hillary, I will believe we can reform the D party. Let that be the trial run.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          By what he has been doing, not what he said in the interview, that I say, it seems he sees the D party as the lesser evil of the two parties.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Hassan: Do you think Dems have been a bit weak about talking directly {about the billionaire class}?

      Sanders: I think that’s the wrong question. I think the question is, “Who are the democrats?”. They don’t believe it.

      Me: Wow. After the last town hall, I got the feeling a kind of agreement had been reached with Liz Warren as attack dog to call out bad behavior among Dems and Bernie would do a bit more of the high road. Now, Sanders didn’t name names in that spot, but still….he’s talking like a commenter on these boards :)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Liz Warren as attack dog

        That didn’t occur to me, and I think it’s an interesting thought and an informed observation, but on reflection I’m not so sure: If there’s one thing Sanders is really excellent at, it’s message discipline. I think the same message top to bottom on the hypothetical Sanders 2020 ticket would be a refreshing change from the familiar high-road/low-road tactics. (I can see Warren doing that, and I wonder if Warren experienced some internal revulsion at what she was called on to do for the Clinton campaign (and what she would not be called on to do for a Sanders campaign)).

  23. Darthbobber

    The Hill piece on the awesome idea of having the party make Trumpian infidelities it’s key issue.
    1 The usual suspects (Kos, TPM et all) are already doing an absurd amount of this, I guess they need filler for when there’s a Russia shortage.

    2 Usual disconnect between headline and article. “Dems” becomes a handful of Democratic strategists (by which I think we mean tacticians, and that’s being generous). Matched with some others who don’t much care for the idea. And notes the lack of enthusiasm for it by the leadership.

    3 Who thinks there are people for whom what was already known about Trump wasn’t a deal breaker, but this would be?

    4 When someone else has a “scandal” running 24/7 across all media, THATS your benefit. You have no need to pile on yourself.

    5 One could talk about issues, but “strategists” apparently avoid that like the plague. So their preferred tactics are dictated by their competence. So-mud and innuendo. Hi ho.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Re: point 1 – I dropped a CNN focus group link in here somewhere. If anything, Stormy might BOOST republican base turn out.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t want to sound paranoid, but if the wave is too big, the Democrats might be put in the awkward position of governing, which they do not want to do.

  24. Summer

    Re: Amazon/Trump

    It’s something he said.
    What is said and what is done are two different things.
    The government has promoted monopolies and I don’t expect that to change.
    They won’t even deactivate Facebook. Simple and can be done from home. Can’t even manage the slightest mass protest that would effect change from the ground up.

  25. Darthbobber

    Kucinich even with Corday. Bwahahaha. Corday inexplicably “failing to catch on” after all that fundraising. What a mystery.

    Given that Kucinich is abundantly blessed with whatever the opposite of charisma is I’m taking a wild guess that this may be issue-driven.

    Kucinich is seen by the hacks as even more of a treacherous mutineer than Sanders or Gabbard, so if he should win that primary the wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments will be most impressive.

  26. Cpm

    Amazon will be winner if the current Facebuck brouhaha resuts in regulation of personal data. I believe shopper data collected at point of sale will be exempt from regulation as long as it’s for store use only.
    So Amazon will own by far the largest behavioral database in the US. And there will be little or no restriction on use of this data as long it’s for the store’s own promotional efforts. The big vendors will live at the mercy of Amazon. Along with everyone else. And Amazon will siphon off Facebook’s and Google’s revenues.
    That is until Amazon is broken up.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Does anyone have a structural diagram or organizational chart or Venn Diagram or whatever that would lay out a blueprint for us social engineers to review and study and check, a diagram of what the thing called “Amazon” could be “broken up” into? My brain is clearly not compendious enough to see how that might work out. I just recall how things shook out when Ma Bell was offered up to Solomon to be divided into smaller bits. One might note how lawyer-ridden and corrupt and dare one say it, ill-advised that activity was, and ask whether the game was worth the candle… And how could “we” hope to direct and regulate such an activity so that it promoted the general welfare, rather than just offering massive opportunities for those skilled in Big Deals and FIRE to suck up even more of the world’s wealth to serve their class interests?

      But maybe I am not asking my search engine the right questions, and maybe the drawings are in final review before the Responsible Engineer signs off on them…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Surely the Cloud could be separated from the retail business, for starters.

        Others may have better ideas, but then divide the rest of the business up by industrial sector: Make the warehouses a separate entity, since that’s real estate, and so on. I’m picturing shrinking Amazon all the way back to the book business, and this time not allowing them to get away with not paying state and local taxes.

        Throw all their data away, since they shouldn’t own it in the first place. Everything important is going to be in people’s preferences anyhow.

        Oh, and nationalize all their intellectual property, especially one-click.

        1. JTMcPhee

          A good start. If the powers can be aligned with the wish. I do wonder, given the apparent stickiness and persistence of “data,” how one ensures that all the info Bezos’ monster has inhaled and ingested gets actually, you know, “thrown away.”

          I imagine Frank Herbert had some thoughts on re-individuation when he coined the notion of the “Butlerian jihad.” “The butler did it!”? Of course “jihad” has become an Untouchable Meme, because of “events, my dear fellow…”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Is this something to take seriously, yet?

      Probably so. When an interest rate that’s been in a sleepy, low volatility coma for years suddenly wakes up and starts spiking, somebody likely is getting hurt … somebody in the financial sector.

      Our rich Uncle Warren is now lounging on the beach under a big umbrella, waiting to see who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out.

  27. Montanamaven

    Wow. Trump just suggested that we use the military to build the wall. Clevelr. So how to claw back all those billions that we give to the MIC? Use the military. I say, if it works on the wall, let’s use it for other “defensive” projects. Eisenhower built the Interstate system for defense after seeing Germany’s Autobahn and how they could move troops quickly. So let’s use the military budget to fix bridges and roads and airports.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I remember reading about Caesar’s campaigns and in once instance, he had the soldiers build a bridge across, I think, the Rhine.

      And I read that they also built many roads.

      1. Duck1

        I am always reading how they are building a new base in some god-forsaken area, so lets tap this hidden talent of the MIC.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “The military” in not building those bases. All done by “contractors,” which is part of the problem and not part of any solution to the Great Looting.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More recently, North Korean soldiers typically would help with harvesting.

      Unfortunately, we also hear this (Daily Mail):

      Kim Jong-un’s hungry soldiers ‘pick corn’ after being given leave to STEAL food from starving North Koreans

      That was from Jan. 2, 2018.

    1. Duck1

      Shouldn’t they mount the machine gun on the motorcycle, be sort of the Baron von Richthofen of the highways?

  28. Plenue

    “How Veterans Are Powering the Democrats’ 2018 Hopes”

    Because when I think of ‘honor’, I think of people who murder for money. /sarcasm

    “the national institution with by far the highest approval rating, the military”

    Does anyone ever stop to ponder how psychotic this actually is?

  29. audrey jr

    I grew up in Tempe. I’m trying to picture a Tempe motorbike cop with a big rifle. I think it has a bit of a violent Hollywood movie kind of feel about it.
    Thanks for that one, allan.

    1. Mike Mc

      Lived in Valley of the Sun (Phoenix/Mesa/Tempe/Scottsdale) in late 1970s… last summer I spent there reach 117 in July.

      I suppose all the current tactical gear will protect Tempe police/SWAT teams from a black rifle sitting in 110+ degree sunlight for several hours… but a black rifle surface temp will be in the 130+ range, just like the asphalt in the streets. No thank you!

  30. dk

    Yeah, if ya wanna lose weight, ya gotta not eat. And one of the biggest challenges is keeping the weight off permanently.

    I think the key to weight management is stomach size. If one eats steadily and regularly, one’s stomach is a certain size, When it feels empty, it complains! To de-entitle it, we have to shrink it. And the easiest way is to fast, just for a day or two. But one really only has to skip enough food-intake to empty the stomach which takes 2-5 hours. Then keep it empty and it’ll shrink (slowly). The longer it’s empty, the more it shrinks. Doesn’t hurt particularly, you just feel hungry… drink water to quiet it down (good for you anyway if you can get good water).

    Partial fasting is popular these days, and it does work, but it’s damn slow and requires a lot of disciplined follow-through. I prefer a day or two of full on fasting. After that, a quarter-pound burger is a bit much… on simply has to prepare/order less for oneself, and be more prepared to save the rest for later.

    I’m actually fasting today. There is a bottle of (good) mustard on my desk. When i get strong impulse to eat, i put a little dab on my tongue and let it dissolve, while going back to work. Any kind of strongly flavored condiment will do, whatever you like. And there is always a 5-gallon water jug right by the desk.

Comments are closed.