Links 3/19/18

In iconic Delacroix painting, art lovers see a masterpiece. France sees liberty. Facebook sees nipples SCMP

What a century of climate change has done to France’s biggest glacier The Conversation

Filtration system promises to make any pizza taste like NYC’s NY Post. Yet another testament to the quality of NYC’s drinking water.

American History for Truthdiggers: Were the Colonists Patriots or Insurgents? Truthdig

The Metric God That Failed Project Syndicate

Meet the world’s deadliest female sniper who terrorized Hitler’s Nazi army Independent. Originally published in 2015 but only crossposted yesterday by the Indy– still interesting.

The Joke’s Over Chronicle of Higher Education. Sad news. I’m a big fan of Lucky Jim (as well as more generally of the work of Amis père, which has gone out of fashion), and enjoyed David Lodge’s academic trilogy very much– the first two more than the third, to be honest.

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Facebook and the endless string of worst-case scenarios Techcrunch (The Rev Kev)

Facebook’s Role in Data Misuse Sets Off a Storm on Two Continents NYT

No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more Guardian

Cambridge Analytica scrambles to halt Channel 4 exposé FT

Exclusive: ‘Where can I buy?’ – Google makes push to turn product searches into cash Reuters

Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene boing boing

Beware the Big Five New York Review of Books

Why Oklahoma Plans to Execute People With Nitrogen The Marshall Project. Appalling.

2016 Postmortem

‘I meant no disrespect’: Hillary admits she ‘upset or offended’ some Americans with comments she made about Trump supporters and white women voting like their husbands Daily Mail (The Rev Kev). Sure looks to me like she’s planning on running again. Kill Me Now.

New Cold War

Boris Johnson accuses Russia of stockpiling nerve agent SCMP.

Boris Johnson defends playing tennis with wife of Putin’s ex-minister in return for £160,000 Tory donation Independent

The self-blinding Russia prism The Hindu


Putin Handily Wins Another Six-Year Term, Firms Grip on Russia The Wire


Ola, Uber drivers’ strike: Taxi aggregators’ discriminatory practices prompt cabbies to stay off the roads Firstpost

Class Warfare

How Russia’s rich elite spend their billions in London Guardian

Trump administration to seek stiffer penalties against drug dealers, reduce opioid prescribing WaPo

Why Goldman Sachs alums go into government NY Post. Good point.


Some Students Won’t Settle for Gun Control. They Want Community Transformation TruthOut

Greece’s golden visa program under fire Handelsblatt

Is It Time to Adopt a Uniform Fee-Only Standard for Financial Advice? WSJ

No CEO should earn 1,000 times more than a regular employee Guardian


Brexit: a respite from Putin

Brexit, Trade Agreements And The Future Of Labour Standards Social Europe


After my recent trip to Syria, I knew Afrin’s fall was inevitable – now we must concern ourselves with the next phase of war Independent. Patrick Cockburn.

Profit and Loss on the ‘Champs-Élysées’ of a Syrian Refugee Camp Business of Fashion

Tillerson’s Departure Will Embolden Saudi Adventurism The Wire

Trump Transition

Gina Haspel: As If Nuremberg Never Happened American Conservative. The deck: “Nothing will say more about who we’ve become as a nation than if a torturer is allowed to head the CIA.” Agreed, but just a reminder that torture didn’t start on Trump’s watch– and that his predecessor failed to prosecute Hansel or anyone else for such offenses when he had the chance.

Donald Trump’s other attorney general problem Politico

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious crown prince comes to a Washington in turmoil WaPo

Once Upon a Time, Congress Actually Fought Saudi Arms Deals. It Can Again. Foreign Policy in Focus. Worth remembering that Congress wasn’t always a completely corrupt cesspit but can and has served as a check on the president.

All aboard for Taiwan as US boosts support for Taipeii Asia Times

Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules The Hill

Trump had senior staff sign nondisclosure agreements. They’re supposed to last beyond his presidency. WaPo. Ruth Marcus.

Donald Trump’s offer to talk to North Korea tests the “madman” theory to the limit New Statesman

Trump’s foreign policy enters new uncertain phase Asia Times

‘I misspoke’: US official blunders by mistakenly declaring key China talks dead SCMP

Europe fears Trump is out to kill the World Trade Organization Politico

Antidote du Jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Steve H.

    > Kill Me Now.

    Did you ever see ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’? This’ll be great, the withered husks of Biden & Clintons tearing each others hanging jowls off, Bill in the corner hittin’ on the cue card girls, Ukrainian Banderists cheering Ol’ Joe from the cheap seats… Just as long as Biden wins for the ‘student loan wageslave’ campus tour.

        1. UserFriendly

          That was pretty good. Especially since it has been so long since I’ve seen either of them I was busy trying to decide if they were fakes or not all the way till the first punch got thrown.

    1. John k

      The only thing that would stop her is jail.
      And maybe not that… wouldn’t be the first pol to run from there.
      A Hillary run could also be called ‘how to persuade more dems to stay home,
      ‘, or, ‘how to energize the rep base’.

      Not going quietly into the night…

      1. Sid Finster

        Who really thinks that Lady Macbeth is going to retire to a nice quiet castle in Scotland, putter about around the garden and spoil her grandkiddies?

        Lady Macbeth gonna Lady Macbeth. It’s the only thing she can do or be.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      best use of Mills Lane for anything ever

      “Let’s get it on!”

      re: Hillary – like Jason or Freddy, she can never truly be defeated once and for all, but is destined to appear over and over again to diminishing returns.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you to JLS for the link about the retreat of Chamonix’s glaciers. My family and I went there for the first time in 1975 and the last time in 2014. Our photos from both visits and visits throughout the 1980s and 1990s, all summer holidays, back up the story. It’s the same with photos from visits to Valais and Trentino.

    1. Carolinian

      I long ago bicycled from Geneva up to the Mer de Glace and then stayed at the Chamonix youth hostel. So even we Carolinians know about this 19th century Grand Tour stopover.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        If you have a look at TV5’s Des Racines Et Des Ailes online, the episode about La Route des Grandes Alpes is well worth watching. Wukchumni and Plutonium Kun may like, too.

    2. Jef

      Yes if only more people flew around the world all the time taking pictures of natures beauty then maybe we would quit doing all of those things that are destroying it.

        1. wilroncanada

          If only more people chartered planes, that consumed more fuel, then the world would see what we are doing to mountains in Europe. Then certainly we would apply that to our mountains elsewhere in the world, flying more often over the Andes, and the North American mountain chains, and the Himalayas, and the Urals, and every other major mountain vista on earth, and surely that would wake us up as a human species, to what we have to do as a result–fly even more frequently to check on those mountains day by day./s

          1. The Rev Kev

            Or we could use satellites to do the same job. There must be decades of satellite images in storage that can be checked out too.

      1. bronco

        on the other hand , flying to Europe to look at a glacier just for the hell of it burns up a lot of fossil fuels . Every jet that flies over the ocean full of spoiled americans uses how many gallons ? Take the commuter rail into the city every day and pat oneself on the back for saving the environment , then fly to Europe on a jet for vacation LOL

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, in point of measured and calculated fact, which burns up more fuel per year . . .
          taking the train to work and back all year and then flying to Europe and back once a year . . . or driving to work and back all year and then not flying to Europe and back at all that year?

          Somebody could run those numbers and give a real answer, I suppose.

    3. perpetualWAR

      When I was in college, I worked in the Grand Tetons. I took a lot of pictures of the mountains throughout my stay.

      I went back to visit about 7 years ago, and was shocked at how badly thawed the main “skillet glacier” (aptly named because it looked like a frying pan with an egg in the middle) of Mount Moran had become. Rather than looking like a skillet, round with a handle, it looked like a guitar. Both circular sides had melted into the “egg” in the middle of the pan, now resembling a guitar.

      Made me extremely sad.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the Grauniad article about CEO pay, how about the senior presstitutes at King’s Place taking a pay cut and changing the terms of employment for juniors from the current zero hour contracts.

    It’s odd for that Bitterite rag to highlight such an issue. When Corbyn does it, the worthless hacks there scream extremist, Putin lover etc.

    1. Craig H.

      Peterson has a blindspot on postmodernism which he claims is roughly the same thing as cultural-marxism. Maybe he has read deeper and wider than myself but I cannot recall ever reading or hearing anybody call their self a cultural marxist. As far as I can tell the term is an insult wielded by some conservatives who claim to hate them. The odd thing here is that J.P. claims he is a liberal. Perhaps liberals decrying cultural marxists is a trend we can watch for.

      Anyway if you are going to judge somebody the high road is to judge them by their best work not their worst; if you are going to effectively critique somebody you have to go after their strengths first, or at the very least concede they make some strong points. When you go right for the soft spot it is not a good look.

      No fan of Peterson but the buzz has its entertaining moments. The best one lately is where he challenged a fake twitter Zizek to a debate. Then some comedian guy came up with this: Jordan Peterson Debates Slavoj Zizek. (3 minute youtube)

      I laughed.

      1. ebbflows

        I find most that trot out cultural marxist to be from the same camp, worse most don’t seem to even know what it means, and used in the context of the old godless commies.

        I recently was told Peterson was asked during a Q&A what his thoughts were on the high percentage of Jewry in some key social sectors. He declined to broach the topic.

        1. Sid Finster

          I thought that if Marx taught nothing else, it was that the only thing that matters is control of the means of production, and that culture, mores, laws, and everything else is superstructure built upon that base.

      2. Plenue

        “Maybe he has read deeper and wider than myself”

        He hasn’t. Peterson is a moron raging against a monster that only exists inside his own mind.

        ‘Cultural Marxism’ has been a boogieman on the far right (there’s no ‘alt-right’, it’s a stupid meme’) for years. It’s just a vague umbrella label for anything they don’t like. Gays being allowed to be open and not stoned to death? Cultural Marxism. People wanting to use whatever pronoun they feel like? Cultural Marxism. Female action movie stars (yes, really)? Cultural Marxism. Abstract art they don’t understand? Cultural Marxism.

        It’s literally a resurrection of on old Nazi term: To the extent it has any kind of real-world, coherent meaning it’s in that the Frankfurt School ( is a real thing, which the far right has elevated into a omnipresent super villain that infests every corner of academia and is behind everything in culture and society that makes them feel even slightly uncomfortable.

        1. cat

          For the record re: the Cultural Marxism nonsense, it may have been partly lifted from the Cultural Bolshevism. I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the term or its history. But I am relatively sure that Cultural Marxism the term originated with Raymond Williams– a Marxist British literature professor and writer. He came up with it to describe the kind of work he was doing which married thorough-going Marxian social analysis with aspects of what would later become know as cultural studies. No one seems to know this, especially the pure-bred idiots who use the term as some sort of pejorative. I recall the term seeming to pick up steam among right-wing agitprop outlets around 2009-10. It was obvious some Luntz type had tripped over the term somewhere and decided it had the just the right amount of menace and incomprehensibility to gin up fear among the rubes.

          That Jordan Peterson, who is an academic?, would use the term while maintaining a straight face is highly indicative of someone whose socio-political “thought” cannot be taken seriously– as thought.

          I wish I had had time this morning to read the links and comment this morning. Now few are likely to read this, but I had to get it off my chest as I’ve seen this discussed quite a bit lately and it’s bugging the shit out of me.

          edit: i’m commenter cat’s paw, not cat. hit the enter key by accident.

          1. Plenue

            You may be right that someone first got it from Williams.

            But given how ‘Cultural Marxism’ aligns almost perfectly with being an expanded version of the Nazi ‘Kulturbolschewismus’, I think it’s more likely someone just resurrected the old slur. Of course, they changed the name slightly, probably because they couldn’t rely on the average idiot skinhead to even know what a Bolshevik was.

          2. Craig H.

            Actually this is good stuff.

            There is a difficult passage in the Grundrisse in which he argues that while the man who makes a piano is a productive worker, there is a real question whether the man who distributes the piano is also a pro- ductive worker; but he probably is, since he contributes to the realiza- tion of surplus value. Yet when it comes to the man who plays the piano, whether to himself or to others, there is no question: he is not a productive worker at all. So piano-maker is base, but pianist super- structure. As a way of considering cultural activity, and incidentally the economics of modern cultural activity, this is very clearly a dead-end. But for any theoretical clarification it is crucial to recognize that Marx was there engaged in an analysis of a particular kind of production, that is capitalist commodity production.

            The New Left Review link above has a paywall. Here is one with no paywall.

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the link about Alexander Johnson playing tennis with the former wife of a Russian minister, readers may be interested to hear about Lady Catherine Meyer, wife of former UK envoy Christopher “red socks” Meyer and Tory party treasurer.

    Her hubby, former ambassador to France and the US, is often on airwaves, rabbiting on about Putin. It’s never pointed out that, as Blair’s ambassador to Washington, he was part of the dodgy dossier, written by Matthew Ryecroft (now UK envoy to the UN) and sexed up by Alistair Campbell, about WMD in Iraq. It’s also not pointed out that his wife is key to the fund raising from Russian oligarchs. Her French charm and close friendship with Theresa May, which pre-dates May’s time as party chairwoman, works a treat on the donors, who are often a bit uncouth for High Tories.

    One of these Russian oligarchs bought an estate in north Buckinghamshire from Tory peer Lord Hesketh. The estate is often used to entertain the beautiful people from London. Any clampdown on dirty money, Russian and other, will seriously cramp the style of the support network for and hangers-on to the 1%.

    1. paul

      Talking with an old friend last night, I was accused of always being cynical of the arrangements of power here and asked why these desperate times were worse.

      The only answer I could offer was that the degradation (combined with the determined corruption) of the public realm was nearly complete.

      This was with a person who has served, and bitched about changes, all his working life.

      The klaxons drawing us to a new, better life for liam and adam trouble him not.

      A shit happens society is not a good prospect.

      1. Sid Finster

        I don’t know that these times are worse. Rather, they merely represent a reversion to the mean.

        1. paul

          That may be true, but I was raised to expect (and experienced) an improvement away from the mean, or rather a certain baseline.

          Which,I suppose, makes me a lazy,darwin denialist snowflake.

          That youthful, happy go lucky optimism is a hard habit to break. When I watch one of my eighty plus neighbours cycling by, with a homemade cnd message on his panniers, I regress completely.

          1. Sid Finster

            Not sure how that makes you a Darwin denialist. Hoping that things will evolve would make you quite the opposite, I would think.

            1. paul

              Darwiniasm, evolution etc is a rather slow process, I haven’t seen that much in my life, though I’m told it happens in bacteria and viruses.

              It’s taken on a secular sacredness and significance which is quite inappropriate.

              I am quite unconcerned with the improvement of the species, it seems fine to me.

              Social progress does not revolve around hope, mutation or competition…and it can happen before you.

              1. Sid Finster

                I would think that evolution happens slowly at first, then rather quickly.

                Regardless of the actual pace, evolution seems to be what you are hoping for.

                1. paul

                  The rules of the house say this is not a chatboard.

                  Discussion is generally about human behaviour and its immediate effects

                  Show me a little about why evolution,fast, slow or quickly has anything to do with what you imagine I imagine.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Reverting to my senior thesis in college:
            Cultures evolve in an essentially Darwinian way (mutation and selection), but much faster and, sometimes, more intentionally than bodies.

            Societies, the carriers of culture, are more like our bodies, the carriers of genetics: they grow up, age, and die. Fortunately, culture, which is learned, persists without them, as do the people (who survive), of course.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Paul.

        You are right about the degradation and corruption of the public realm. That extends to the officer corps, not just their political masters.

        My father and godfather served in the RAF from 1966 – 1991. They began service alongside veterans of WW2 and colonial wars and, themselves, served in wars later. Both expressed contempt for Gavin Williamson and Stuart Peach, defence secretary and chief of the defence staff, so different from officers and gentlemen who had seen the ugly side of war. Neither and their comrades believes the official line about Salisbury. Both know insiders at various installations in Wiltshire.

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Many thanks for your contributions as ever and details with regards the UK Elites close relationships with Russian oligarchs.

      In light of the anti-Russian/anti-Putin hysteria gripping Westminster, the London-based MSM and much of the Ruling Elite itself, one was smitten by the fact that having spent 52 hours in the UK last week, much of the news coverage was about two Russian’s I presume suffering from food poisoning – of course, allegedly Putin poisoned said Russian Traitor and his daughter, for what reason though we are unaware.

      I raise this fact in light of the numerous journey’s I used to make to Mainland China, where in the hotels I frequented I’d be privy to Chinese State Media broadcasts, which, seems like pure propaganda to myself used to a plurality of views and opinion – this of course being prior to 9/11 and the second Gulf war who premise was a lie.

      Fast forward to the UK’s response to this alleged assassination attempt and i could not but notice the degree of synchronicity of the UK media and Elites, indeed, I actually thought I was viewing TV in a dictatorship, such was the similarity of Chinese Official Media output and that being outputted in Blighty.

      Not accessing regular news broadcasts much anymore, and avoiding contact with most UK newspapers, my skepticism about the Russian Spy poisoning was high indeed, particularly given I could think of no reason why the Russian State, or Putin would be involved in such a dastardly act. Indeed, the only beneficiary it would seem was ms May’s Tory Party, which was trailing up to 7% behind Corbyn at the time of this incident.

      Of course, Brexit is now deep inside the newspapers and trailing badly behind all the Russian/Putin hysteria on broadcast media – Corbyn though being labelled yet again highly sympathetic to Russia. Which is strange indeed given how the Tory Party benefits from Russian money, whilst the fires have only kept burning in the UK this past month as a result of emergency LPG shipment from guess whom, well Russia no less.

      Anyhow, a 6,000 mile distance from the UK protects me from this barrage of propaganda, not so the average UK citizen who’s minds are surely poisoned by this hatefest.

      1. paul

        The key indicator is a lockstep choreography of the arms of public opinion.

        The grenfell fire was not planned and the stenographers struggled beyond a ‘something must be done’ response.

        All the wooden ducks were lined up,however ineptly, with this one.

        1. Anonymous2

          There is apparently an announcement on agreement on a Brexit transition. But is it meaningful?
          Those of us who are so inclined can pore over the details.

          1. David

            There is, and it looks at first sight like a complete climb-down by the UK. There is apparently a draft treaty text circulating, though I can’t immediately find a copy.
            This is a big development.

            1. Anonymous2

              Steve Peers has some interesting analysis on it. On a first reading and if I have understood correctly, the Irish border issues look still to be fully resolved, so no doubt different people will have different ideas as to what is going on. Is the transition being dangled in front of the UK as a carrot to get it to give on the border as well or is the EU going to sell Ireland out? We will know fairly soon.

              Otherwise the immediate take appears to be that the UK has given ground on many points.

      2. Sid Finster

        My fleabitten wife grew up in Communist Poland and has said that the news coverage in the United States feels quite familiar.

        1. Lee

          I have a Russian foster-daughter, who came here in her teens during the Soviet dismemberment and Russian economic collapse. She has gone through the bureaucratically arduous process of becoming a permanent resident. Her Russian mother visits annually. We have interesting conversations. Dare I say more? Well, I will say this: they see Putin and their U.S. duopolist counterparts as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. An opinion with which I largely agree. Putin got about the same percentage of the legally eligible electorate as did Trump and Clinton, as well as most U.S. presidents before them.

          It looks to me that absent an effective progressive internationalism, that nationalism is the current best bastion against neoliberal, oligarchic globalization. Unfortunately that space is currently dominated by the right. As far as our own Democrat Party seems to be concerned, they seem to have adopted the motto, “when uncertain or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

      3. a different chris

        >Which is strange indeed given how the Tory Party benefits from Russian money

        Not strange at all. Keep in mind that it’s repeated been found that the best defense is brazen offense — accuse others of what you have been doing. Scumbags “work in the shadows”. The smarter ones have realized that you get the best shadows when a bright light is trained in the opposite direction.

      4. Procopius

        … who’s [sic] minds are surely poisoned by this hatefest.

        Actually I’ve been somewhat surprised (and pleased) to see more Americans, at least as reflected in the comment threads I follow, begin to get a little skeptical over these convenient tales. It also makes me question even more the actual effectiveness of much advertising. I remember reading that the citizens of the Soviet Union were well aware that the “news” they were getting in Izvestia and Pravda was false.

      5. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I saw an example of this on RT ( where the BBC Newsnight program made Corbyn out to be a commie to the point of even photo-shopping his hat to make it look more Russian.
        Am seeing the same in Oz with our news being an outlet for propaganda. Not biased. Just out and out propaganda broadcasts with baseless accusations, lies and recycled news footage to influence a story. Even on the fly you can deconstruct and pick out the techniques being used to shape a narrative. And this is why I depend on sites like NC to keep things real.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I heard that the Conservative party got roughly £820,000 (about US$1,150,000) in donations from Russian billionaires in London and have already said that they won’t give those contributions back. Even if the British go after these Russian billionaires to seize assets, Putin wouldn’t give a rats as these same people looted Russia when they had the chance and fled to London with their wealth.
      For the British it would be dangerous as every billionaire in the UK would wonder just how safe their money in London would be in case something happened. If there is one thing London does not want to hear it is a massive “whoosh” sound as billions are pulled out of there to flee to safety overseas.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Kev.

        As per last week-end’s FT Property and a visit to Maisons-Laffitte last month, Paris is wooing said oligarchs.

    4. flora

      This makes me wonder how much the anti-Putin hysteria is, in part, an attempt to curry favor with high spending Russian oligarchs in the UK.

  5. John

    Re: Oklahoma death penalty

    Seriously before switching to something untested and only researched ad hoc, just bring back the guilliotine.

    I can’t think of anything more instant or final.

    Strikes me miles better than electrocution, hanging, injection, or bullets all of which can be botched.

    If your going to do it, you must at least offer the assurance that it will be over as reliably, quickly and painlessly as possible

    1. Aida

      Nitrogen might be better – it’s sure better than when they were trying to use Versed which any idiot would have known was not reasonable. I’d take nitrogen over any of the above, if they have their act together. This is an option many have considered for themselves as not too bad of a choice.

      Not that I support the death penalty, I don’t.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Perhaps “bloody gina” should be asked to weigh in. As expert as she is in prolonging agony, she surely also knows how to end it quickly. So she can avoid doing it.

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      I remember reading somewhere long ago that when one is decapitated in such manner, and the guy in the mask hold up your head for the crowd, that you are more or less conscious for a minute or two…that you can see, and hear and are aware of your unfortunate predicament. If that ain’t “cruel and unusual”, I don’t know what is.
      If we simply must be in the business of state murder, the most humane and painless way would seem to be something akin to a heroin overdose.
      I think I’ve heard it mentioned that things like fentanyl are readily available in certain trailer parks and street corners.

      1. a different chris

        Yes it seems pretty well accepted that one famous scientist “blinked” as many times as he could to his poor friend after his head was, ugh, severed in order to establish just that.

        I would go look up his name but just too depressing.

        1. Mark Alexander

          The scientist in question was Lavoisier. The story about his blinking is persistent but controversial.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps there is a rational explanation, to be offered on one of the many cable TV shows (when I still watched in the 90s) about the miracles in the Old Testament.

            “And this is how the Red Sea could part, and how he could blink many times.”

            Personally, I think if it”s possible, it would still depend on the person. For example, I got queasy following this discussion. It’s not hard to imagine some other readers might have fainted. In that way, some could still blink a few times, while others would just pass out and die.

      2. Expat

        That’s a myth. According to most neurologists and other physicians, the trauma would be so severe that consciousness would end quickly. If that did not work, then the rapid and total loss of blood pressure to the brain would cause the victim to black out almost instantly.

        In any case, are you basing this on supposition or do you have victims who experienced this and manage to dictate their experiences as they died? “Yes, hmm. I can’t feel my feet or my hands. Very odd. I feel so light. Hold me higher, would you, I think I can almost see my house from here. Yes, there it is. Damn. I left the lights on. Oh, well. Could someone scratch my nose for me? Thanks ever so much. Would you mind pointing me at my body? Thanks. Wow, I had a nice ass. You know, it’s hard to see in a mirror. Good gravy! That blood will never come out of that suit. What a waste! How long is that now? One minute? Really? Time flies when you just a head. Say, how about some ‘head’ puns? What’s that? No, you’re right. They would be in poor taste even if it’s my head. Well, it seems the end is near. Yes, yes, my vision is fading. Goodbye cruel world. All in vain. All in vain.”

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          Just a memory of reading somewhere forty years ago.
          I reckon it’s barbaric no matter how it’s done.
          I’ve seen no evidence that it acts as any sort of deterrent, and there is always…always…the potential for scewups on the part of the prosecution/cops/executioner.
          it also bothers me much that many folks on death row seem rather cognitively challenged, and further, that our system of public defenders is hopelessly and chronically underfunded, undermanned, and often counterproductive(in that they may have a better shot at justice hiring a dog or something).Too, it is verboten to attempt to pry into the actual Causes of various crimes, because(I suspise) we might very well uncover some uncomfortable truths about the way we do things.
          I live in Texas…and went to college in Huntsville, Texas, home of Sparky, and a prison down every highway, as well as right smack dab in the middle of town.
          I think such activity makes us as bad as the worst of the Romans.

          1. JBird

            All of these are features not bugs. A fully funded public defenders’ office, along with honest efforts to find and fix the problems that cause crime, would reduce the possible “tough on crime” play acting.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              I’ve come to agree, that it ain’t accidental.
              lol. to say the least, after bumping into it for most of my life.
              I wonder if it’s simply confirmation bias that I get chills that faceborg censored the Delacroix.
              “Mort aux Ministres! À bas les aristocrates!”

              Reckon there’s a reason that the French Revolutionary History takes up a mere quarter of a page in the highschool textbook…but when I describe being poor in Texas as “punishment”, everybody knows what I mean.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Hey, Oklahoma could cash in on this. That mention of nitrogen got me thinking about liquid nitrogen. Offer those convicts on death row a choice. Take part in Cryonics research where they get frozen for a coupla years and if they awaken and are still alive, then their sentence gets cancelled and they get to walk. If not, well, they were gunna die anyway.
      With all the fear about dying causing all those Silicon Valley tech billionaires night sweats that has lead them to all that immortality research, you can’t tell me that this line of research would not grab them by the short and curlies. If a successful technique of cryonics is found, those tech billionaires would be beating a path to Oklahoma so that they could be frozen until all that immortality research has been completed. Unless somebody, say, “accidentally” tripped over a plug or two.

      By the way, I am calling that bird as a velvet-purple Coronet from South America.

      1. a different chris

        I have little faith in our criminal justice system. But if we can just allow ourselves to pretend for a moment that they fry nothing but people ranging in type from John Dillinger to Jeffery Dahmer, it would be fun to imagine a future where some computer program sees that all us undesirables have died off, and thus flips a switch. The result being that all those pasty software titans wake up in a world where it is just them, their “money”, and also find that we deplorables have frozen alongside them those who intend to take it and have no compunctions about however they do it.

        1. ahab

          Just to put in a good word for Dillinger – he was the victim of JEdgar’s insane jealousy and unrequited love (he kept the death mask of Dillinger on his desk at the “Bureau” until he died).
          Dillinger was not the violent psychopath, killing just for the thrill of killing that many of his contemporaries were.
          But after all, any man who ended up dying for Myrna Loy can’t be all bad, can he??

    5. Louis Fyne

      if you have to execute anyone, it should be with an overdose of Nitrous Oxide.

      One suffocates painlessly in a euphoric high unaware of the situation. I’d certainly prefer it to IV or firing squad.

      Don’t shoot the messenger.

      1. Anonymous

        Exactly. Seems like every once in a while a yahoo gets in the news for stealing a bottle of nitrous oxide and Darwining himself. I suppose the optics of using what is considered to be a mild dental anesthetic for killing someone may not fly though. A painless death can also be achieved with with a massive dose of opioids. This really isn’t that hard a problem to solve anymore, if your goal is to solve it.

      2. Procopius

        This really isn’t that hard a problem to solve anymore, if your goal is to solve it.

        Exactly, which is just evidence that they don’t want to solve it. We see many Republican doctors in Congress who clearly would be happy to advise for free on how to kill people. After all, they do it all the time. It’s what they have malpractice insurance for. The idea that they are limited to just one toxic cocktail invented in a backward red state is bollocks. There must be some way they’re making money off the ongoing arguments.

    6. Grebo

      The death penalty is appalling, but it’s also appalling that thing most concerning to some people is that the condemned might get a fleeting sense of euphoria on their way out.
      If they’re going to do it nitrogen seems like a better way than most. They use poison gas in some places already.

  6. Wukchumni

    In iconic Delacroix painting, art lovers see a masterpiece. France sees liberty. Facebook sees nipples SCMP
    This French banknote worth about $20 in face value was in circulation for about 25 years, the woman in question having an obvious double wardrobe malfunction, ala Janet Jackson

    Once upon a time in 1896, our currency was similar, believe it or not.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I find it ironic that tech bros try to have their company align with the morals of a 16th Puritan in their public face no matter how they act in private life. Last I heard, about 60% of the world’s porn sites are hosted in the US (I think mostly California) which forms a nice contrast with Facebook (also in California) going into meltdown over a set of boobs.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Donald Trump’s other attorney general problem Politico

    How, exactly, is this Donald Trump’s problem????

    In a state so well and truly effed on pretty much all fronts as my home state of illinois is, I’d say candidates who see the primary responsibility of the attorney general as “resisting” Donald Trump are more accurately characterized as the Land of Lincoln’s problem. A giant one.

    Forget property taxes and pension scammers. Elect me, and I’ll make sure stormy daniels has her day in court!

  8. johnnygl

    Re: kill me now…clinton’s prob running.

    I think the nakedcap crowd has his one all wrong. I absolutely, positively WANT clinton to run.

    I want her campaign to soak the donors and fail spectacularly like jebbie’s. The campaign needs to be humiliating so that chelsea learns to stay far away from politics and the clintons can be purged from our political system.

    Run HRC, run! Take harvey weinstein’s money and win ZERO states in the primaries!!! Show the world who you are…again!!!

    1. johnnygl

      As a general rule, i want EVERYONE who’s considering, to run. We need more choices, not fewer.

      Clearing the field, which the dem party loves to do, is so horribly anti-democratic.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I think HRC represents the Democrats best. Perhaps best ever.

        We need parties which are democratic, where policy reigns supreme and the people in leadership/representative positions are bound to policy/platform decided by all in an ongoing transparent, informative, constant democratic process.

        That will never happen in the Democrat party. It fights it tooth and nail and even the Sanders – Our Rev., Progs are not asking for it beyond mere window dressings, much more, demanding it.

        1. JohnnyGL

          “We need parties which are democratic, where policy reigns supreme and the people in leadership/representative positions are bound to policy/platform decided by all in an ongoing transparent, informative, constant democratic process. ”

          Whoa….we’re never getting that, as much as I’d like it. Politicians THRIVE on the gray areas where they can be non-committal and let various donors and voter blocks think they agree with them. Politicians never take a firm stand unless they NEED to do so for one reason or another.

          1. Sid Finster

            Let The Iron Law of Oligarchy and the Iron Law of Institutions be made manifest in HRC and the DNC!

          2. Eureka Springs

            No we wont get it, as in a gift. In many ways the larger ‘we’ needs to get it in concept, then practice.

            What astonishes me is the way ‘we’ hire representatives and yet allow, even expect them to completely lie and undermine. I continue to take comfort in the super plurality refusing to vote for either.

            “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti

      2. cocomaan

        Clinton choosing to run actually engages a zero sum game. The clintons have a way of vacuuming up everyone else’s money.

        Watching a repeat of 2016 might actually drive the entire country insane.

    2. nycTerrierist

      You might be right: the only way to flush out the Clintons is
      to let her self-immolate in public a THIRD time.

      Then she can pen What Happened Again


      1. JohnnyGL

        I won’t be happy unless we’ve got lots of “please clap” type moments to enjoy on the internet forever.

        I want to see her consultants trying to spin a 4th place showing as ‘momentum’.

        1. Sid Finster

          A friend put it thusly: “I want to see HRC looking like Tanya Harding on the silver medal podium.”

          1. Randy

            My ideal scenario would be seeing Hill and The Donald locked up for life with no parole in the same cell.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The Donald will want to take on Hillary, Comey, Mueller, McCabe, et al,…at the same time.

              He probably believes he can do it….he won once in a ‘one against many’ race. He thinks he can do it again.

    3. voteforno6

      It would certainly be…interesting. If you think the last campaign was nasty, just wait until the next one, particularly if Sanders ran again. That could finally bring on a civil war to a Democratic Party that’s in need of a serious bloodletting.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I think a lot of establishment Dems will be angry if she’s runs again and is able to raise substantial sums of money (which she prob can). I gather that a lot of establishment types want to move on and groom some new leaders, though strong candidates have yet to emerge.

        On a tactical level, I’m also happy for HRC to peel off 10% (because that’s as high as she’ll get in voting totals) of the vote off of whatever establishment preferred front-runner the party chooses to coalesce around. I suspect Clinton still has a base of support among wealthy coastal elite types, but not much else. I don’t think she can carry the south anymore. She also won’t have the state-level party officials backing her to the 9s, either. Unions won’t back her, either. That stuff counts for a lot. Her inevitability….her biggest asset, is long gone.

        Maybe she can win MD or VA or DC?

          1. Swamp Yankee

            I doubt she’ll win Massachusetts. Particularly if Sanders or Warren get in the race. Sure, maybe some Rt 128 belt Thomas Frank-described 10%er professionals, but that’s it. Well, the Back Bay, probably, too…. After all, local NPR excrescence-nepotist Emily Rooney lives there, and she’s never even taken the T! She’s also not from here, and has the gall to make fun of our accent — she’s perhaps the platonic ideal of a perfect Hillary voter. No wonder they almost carried Wisconsin!

            1. roxy

              I’d wager that if hrc is in, Warren won’t challenge her. Can’t unsee the spectacle of EW skipping around the stage at campaign stops with hrc in the giddy inevitability of it all. As for MA, I don’t think it’s ever gone republican in a presidential election-maybe for Reagan but I’m not sure.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I think people are skipping over something: all she needs to do is win the nomination. You know, the one that’s decided by the superdelegates?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Could it be that she wants to make sure that if she can’t have it, no one (no one she dislikes or hates) gets it either?

                  Her goal, then, would be stay relevant until Nov. 2020?

                  “My people have failed me. The party doesn’t deserve me.”

                2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  She might try the slogan “I’m an Independent…woman,” should that become necessary for the stretch run.

    4. Procopius

      Yesterday, on the trip to and from Bangkok, I was reading some of Machiavelli’s Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, in which he talks about what makes a people free. One thing he pointed out, which I think goes far to explain how we elected Trump,

      Speaking, then of those princes who have become the tyrants of their country, I say that the prince who seeks to gain over an unfriendly people should first of all examine what it is the people really desire, and he will always find that they desire two things: first, to be revenged upon those who are the cause of their servitude; and second, to regain their freedom. The first of these desires the prince can gratify wholly, the second in part.

      On the other hand, farther along he comments that a people who are not yet wholly corrupted can regain their freedom, but a people who are wholly corrupted can never regain theirs, or, if they briefly do, cannot retain it. Anyway, I’m thinking that there are smarter people than Trump out there, and the multi-billionaire donors should not sleep easy at night, since more and more people want revenge on them, and a prince can arise who will satisfy them, even without restoring the freedom we lost back about 1895.

      ETA: Machiavelli is much more interesting than I thought.

  9. David

    re the Campus novel, I agree it’s pretty much defunct as a genre, mainly because universities have been subject to brutalization from outside by governments and the private sector, and from inside by the student thought police. My own involvement with universities in different countries suggests both that it’s both not fun any more, and that satire is now irrelevant anyway. The kind of teaching environment described in Mark Fisher’s “Capitalist Realism”, for example, is already a parody of itself, and satirizing it would add nothing Which is why the novels of Amis (who I always thought was overrated) and Lodge are almost painful to read today, because they describe a gentler, more civilised world that has been brutally killed off, in the space of not much more than a generation. Unsurprisingly, the best recent novel of intellectual satire, Laurent Binet’s The Seventh Function of Language, now in English, is set in the early 1980s, beginning with the death of Roland Barthes, presented as a murder to be investigated by a Holmes and Watson pair of a young literary critic and a traditional French cop. The book is a gloriously funny romp through the intellectual life of the time, with everyone from Michel Foucault to Umberto Eco making an appearance. But it’s also implicitly, a lament for a time that has now long passed.

  10. Carolinian

    Re Truthdig Patriots or Insurgents–while revisionism is all the rage and the truth of history matters, perhaps the motives of the Founding Fathers are less important than the fact that they were tremendously smart people–an example to be held up to the galloping irrationality that prevails today. Thus they stepped away from a Europe that had been riven by religious wars and ruled over by Divine Right and embraced a theory of popular sovereignty that spread across the planet (however much the continental aristocrats didn’t mean for it to apply to themselves). It’s their ideas that are important and not their shortcomings as human beings.

    England was never going to maintain control over this huge, resource rich and sparsely populated continent in the way they did over India. So the Revolution was more a matter of historic inevitability than about slave owners and the land greedy fostering their own interests. The problem with moral theories of history is that they become a rationale for the universal and inevitable abuse of power that the founders so clearly recognized. Therefore today we have “responsibility to protect” used to justify laying countries to waste.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Third World conditions in NYC public housing:

    New York City’s public housing is literally falling apart. The sprawling network of 176,000 apartment units across the five boroughs needs an estimated $25 billion of repairs, up from $6 billion in 2005.

    This winter, the housing authority’s ancient boilers gave out, leaving more than 320,000 people without heat or hot water.

    A New York City nonprofit has been buying carbon monoxide monitors for people who have been using their ovens as a heat source, a practice that fire officials have warned is dangerous.

    Preserving New York’s properties likely will require drastic measures. Those could include declaring bankruptcy.

    Hey, honey, would you turn up the oven to 475? The cold’s coming though my bunny slippers. :-(

    1. Poopypants

      Entropy doing what it does.

      In order to beat entropy a large infusion of initial energy is required along with subsequent infusions to fight the ever present increase in disorganization.

      That being said, the initial infusion was available in spades at the time all of these large projects were completed. Public housing, infrastructure, etc.

      Unfortunately as the cost of energy soars and the availability to obtain becomes more difficult, you will see ever increasing disorganization in the system.

      Absent an outside source of energy being discovered (outside earth and very unlikely), you will see the continued decline.

      But our current ‘leaders’ have discovered a short term solution, debt. Money as a proxy for energy can mask the decline in energy availability as long as confidence remains in the money or until conditions get so bad the decline can no longer be denied.

      So that’s where we’re at.

  12. UserFriendly

    Protest Hillary @ Rutgers
    Hillary Clinton is being paid $25k for a 1.5 hour talk at Rutgers. Maybe she makes so much money that she doesn’t realize that money in politics harms middle- and lower-class citizens. She is out of touch. We will hold up signs and have some chants during her talk. Contact us on FB at Our Revolution, Hazlet, to sign up or RSVP.
    Done by a local OR group (not the national one) and Weaver denounced it on TV already, but I support it and am making sure it doesn’t get taken down. Or at least I am putting my 2 cents in on the slack channel where they are talking about it.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The same Jeff Weaver who ran Sanders’ presidential campaign? That Weaver? Color me not surprised.

      If such a speech was made here in Tucson, I would SO be there to protest.

      And long live the feral revolutionaries of New Jersey!

    2. Wukchumni

      What’s Hilz doing slumming in front of student debt types for about 1/25th of what Wall*Street pays for the same drivel?

    3. Liberal Mole

      Hah! Remember her price for the camping organization was like $250,000! Rutgers got her at fire sale prices. That has got to hurt her mile high ego and bottomless greed. Go NJ OR!

      1. nycTerrierist

        If Hillary had any class she’d donate that money back
        to Rutgers — perhaps to a women’s studies program or campus clinic.
        In a sane world, it would be unseemly for a rich politician to take $ from a public university.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was shocked as well, at that deflation.

        The Fed must not raise rates. We need more money in the economy.

      3. Sid Finster

        Goldman etc. did not pay HRC to talk, in that there is nothing that she could say (except for maybe disclosing her amazing cattle futures trading strategy) that would be worth such fees. Rather, they paid her to listen.

        Now they have no reason to do so, since HRC will not be laying her mitts on the levers of power any time soon.

        Therefore HRC has been forced to turn to other sources of ready cash, just to get by.

          1. Procopius

            This is true, but they did not pay her to talk. That’s why it was so silly to be demanding transcripts of what she said. She stood in front of them and talked as an excuse for them to transfer lots of money to her. Whatever she said was pointless, meaningless. She wasn’t promising then anything in the speech; the promises had been all made before at cocktail parties and quiet little meals at very expensive restaurants.

    4. Eureka Springs

      That’s over 16k per hour. 7.25 federal minimum wage 2,206 hours or 55 forty hour weeks of work.

  13. David

    The agreed EU/UK (interim) Brexit text is available here. From a very quick glance, the UK has agreed the vast majority of the EU proposed language, highlighted in green. The main exceptions are justice-related issues and Northern Ireland, though in the latter case some of the draft Protocol text seems to have been accepted. Quite what the “backstop solution” for Northern Ireland means in practice, I confess I’m not sure.

    1. Ignacio

      Factbox – EU, British concessions in post-Brexit transition deal

      The sides have only agreed that an emergency backstop mechanism to avoid a border between the Republic of Ireland and Britain’s province of Northern Ireland would have to be part of London’s exit deal, but failed to nail down the wording.

      May has said “no British prime minister” would agree to the backstop proposed by the EU, under which the bloc would go on treating Northern Ireland as part of its own customs union, which would weaken its links to the rest of the United Kingdom.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I haven’t had time to read it in detail, but from what I can understand from my reading is that the NI situation is still (probably deliberately) vague – it seems to amount to a concession that NI will remain with the EU in practical terms for the transition period at least, without providing details on how this will be achieved.

        Since the UK has conceded on almost all points it would indicate that they have privately conceded that NI will stay within the CM/SM and ECJ jurisdiction indefinitely, they are just trying to find words that won’t set the DUP off within the short term, if thats possible. Varadkar is off to meet Merkel today, no doubt there will be some lobbying/briefing going on.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Gina Haspel: As If Nuremberg Never Happened

    You know what happens when a government protects torturers? Maybe even makes them out to be patriots serving their country (are you suppose to thank them for their “service”)? The practice starts to get embedded into the culture and gets normalized. It even gets acceptable if not expected. I saw an example of this just last night.
    I happen to like Star Trek and was curious about the new “Star Trek: Discovery” series to see how it had evolved. After watching a few clips on YouTube, I went to Wikipedia to read the story lines for the first season which had 15 episodes. I was appalled to see that torture featured in one third of the story lines of this series. Gene Roddenberry would have blown a gasket but the corruption of torture had even gone so far as to embed itself in what was supposedly a depiction of a better future.
    And that’s what happens when you don’t throw people like Haspel in Leavenworth along with her enablers. It becomes a part of your culture.

    1. Louis Fyne

      i wouldn’t use Star Trek discovery as an allegory for anything.

      Star trek discovery is just a mess: thematic ADHD, awful dialogue, unsympathetic protagonist, jumbled focus falling back onto fan service and deus ex machina as a crutch.

      Binge watch the series during CBS Access’s free trial. not worth your money.

      other people’s mileage will vary.

      1. windsock

        The whole series was an appeal to USA to rediscover its better nature. The final perpratopn by Michael Burnham might as well have started “Mr Trump!”

        It was an entertaining series. It has the potential to live up to DS9 if it can get away from such obvious political broadcasting, thinly disguised as dialogue or plot.

    2. Wukchumni

      “Flyboys: A True Story Of Courage” by James Bradley, was a most interesting book, in that the author makes a case for the U.S. participating & condoning torture in the Philippines right around the same time the Japanese treated Russian prisoners of war with complete respect during the Russo-Japanese war, and how everything flip-flopped in WW2.

      1. Procopius

        Condoning? I remember ten soldiers were court martialed, although their sentences were pretty light for what I consider their crimes to have been. One general was forced to resign in lieu of court martial. The offense was grossly under-punished, but it was not condoned.

    3. Massinissa

      I like every Star Trek series, at least a little bit. Even Star Trek Enterprise, for all its *many* faults, was still ‘Star Trek’.

      But not Discovery. Nope. This isn’t Star Trek. It’s so despicable, full of modern negativity and pessimism, to the point where it is so bad that it makes the J J Abrams Star Trek movies look good. Discovery is not Star Trek. It doesn’t even have proper Klingons. Klingons never looked or acted anything like this.

      Honestly, Im amazed that only 70% or so of Trekkies despise this show. Most of the audience is just people who like Battlestar Galactica or the JJ Abrams movies or so forth, rather than Trekkies.

      1. RMO

        “Klingons never looked or acted anything like this.” Considering that the Klingons in the old show and the newer iterations of Trek don’t act anything alike, that’s saying something. I always found it funny that the Kzin were introduced to the Trek universe via the animated show and were apparently going to make an appearance on Enterprise if it had another season because they act almost exactly like the Next Gen Klingons do.

        My brother-in-law has been coming over to watch Discovery at my house because he has been writing episodic articles on it and it’s easier for him to concentrate here than in his three-child household. My wife’s been watching too but I have only seen a little – and not liked what I have seen. I’m not difficult to please either. I even watched Voyager most of the way through its run. Enterprise I couldn’t get into either but (shallow and silly as it may seem) that’s because I couldn’t stand the opening theme song and sequence.

        1. YankeeFrank

          #MeToo!! That theme song ruined it utterly, I couldn’t even watch the 1st episode.

          Discovery spoiler alert.

          Discovery is weak, though I did manage to watch the whole thing. It didn’t feel like Star Trek at all, except for the whole mycelium network concept, which was okay. The outlook was not “Federation”, just cynical and gross. I mean how can we win a war against the Klingons without our own fascist emperor to be “ruthless” or whatever? So much for the Federation’s ideals.

          The torture part wasn’t even offensive, just dumb: implanting a Klingon’s psyche into a Starfleet officer via a painful series of surgeries?


          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “I couldn’t stand the opening theme song and sequence.”

            The rumor was always that the instrumental at the end and used heavily throughout the show was meant to be the opening theme. Apparently, it matches the cuts in the opening video.

            The rumors for Discovery are that much of the Klingon War were done by Fuller before he exited. As for the nobility of the Klingons, lets not confuse Worf for every Klingon. Ezri Dax made quite a few points about their society that we allow nostalgia to cloud.

    4. ewmayer

      “Liberal” – in the same sense that the NYT is so – Hollywood has been busily normalizing and even heroicizing torture since 9/11. What do you think TV shows like 24 and movies like Zero Dark Thirty and American Sniper are about? That, and the sheer dearth of even a glimmer of an original premise or non-whiz-bang plot in contemporary fare, are the reason I watch almost no American TV or movies made this century.

      1. Sid Finster

        That Hollywood has strong links to the Pentagon and CIA has been known for a long time.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      Two characters were tortured by tortured. They don’t have Counselor Troi to solve horrible, emotional problems off screen between episodes. One of the characters in “Discovery” was tortured and simply couldn’t have it solved by wrestling his brother like Jean Luc. Of course, they can’t have Spock do a mind meld without asking the ethical issues that would entail.

      Have you “Trekkies” even seen the Original Series? One episode was about a genocide. The cuddly Klingon Kor calmly had hundreds of peaceful Organians executed to get to Kirk. The City on the Edge of Forever is a complete reversal of “do you kill baby Hitler or Khan Noonien Singh” and asks the value of an innocent person. Possibly, the best episode of TNG was a Picard torture snuff film.

      Occasionally, there was the odd episode of Voyager where Janeway would give a good summary of what she missed about the Federation and compared to the rest of the cast you might have confused that compelling television.

      I miss Star Trek that was optimistic and hopeful.

      “On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, and no war. You look out the window and you see Paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in Paradise but the Maquis do not live in Paradise.” – Sisko

      BASHIR: But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are humans really any different than Cardassians or Romulans? If push comes to shove, if something disastrous happens to the Federation, if we are frightened enough, or desperate enough, how would we react? Would we stay true to our ideals or would we just stay up here, right back where we started?
      SISKO: I don’t know. But as a Starfleet officer, it’s my job to make sure we never have to find out.

      Don’t get me wrong, Disco is by no means “good”, but have you seen a first season of any Star Trek?

  15. Steve from CT

    As a student of the American Revolution (have written three books) I thought the Truthdig article was excellent. Much better then the typical articles that appear in the Journal of the American Revolution. The so-called Founders were not the lovers of freedom and liberty for all that are typically portrayed in books and articles, particularly with regard to blacks and Indians. The separation from British rule was complicated and had many motivations as the article points out. The constant refrain about the exceptionalism of our founding needs to be examined and discussed as is the case withthis article. Thanks for including it in the links.

    1. Carolinian

      Thing is the Founders might have been the first to agree with you and can’t be blamed for the mythologies that followed (although Washington seems to have been a bit grandiose). What they got right was their grasp of the fundamental truism that power corrupts and therefore must be kept in check. Some of us feel this willingness to question authority is the essence of “Americanism.”

      Sadly the safe space trend of current times seems all too ready to wall out opposing ideas.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I read a bit about the taxation part.

        From the article:

        It’s not that taxation didn’t factor at all in rebel motivations—it most certainly did. Still, there are some awkward questions worth raising; like, if taxes directly caused the war then how do we explain that just about every new tax was repealed before 1775? Besides, the colonists paid far lower taxes than metropolitan Britons. In fact, the Sugar Act of 1764 actually lowered the tax on molasses—it simply sought to more stringently enforce it. The Tea Act didn’t upset colonists so much for the economic cost as for the mandated monopoly it granted the British East India Co.

        1. Every new tax was repealed before 1775? I think this shows taxation was even more important than we thought. The lesson: Never levy unjust or excessive taxes, because the taxpayers will still not be happy after they have been repealed (perhaps they wanted those excessive taxes refunded – did the British refund them in 1775?)

        2 Many colonists were rural. Why compare them to metropolitan Britons? Why not comparing them to rural Britons? Or to Britons in India? Colonist, like most humans, like to compare to those most like them. Also, human nature is such that even if one is taxed less than others, one doesn’t just make that spatial comparison, but one also make temporal ones as well – am I paying more taxes today than yesterday (I care not if others are paying more).?

        3. Lowered tax rate on molasses and more stringently enforced it. Again this would reinforce the idea that taxation was an issue, if the bottom line was one ended up paying more taxes. No polls were taken, so we don’t know. Just guessing based on what know about human nature, they wouldn’t have liked it, and moreover, wouldn’t have liked the PR move, the seemingly smart move of lowering taxes and simultaneously enforcing it more stringently. “Do you think we are fools?” would be one response. Instead of acting like those front-assaulting Republicans, this just seems more like something the other party of the duopoly would do.

        4. Tea act and British Indies Company. Economic cost or monopoly. Nothing directly taxation related, but one can imagine or try to relate compassionately how the above 3 taxation issues would have driven many mad and this was just an excuse, a trigger. In that case, taxation was a big motivation.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        As to Washington mythology, the thought is it was understood he was sterile. There would be no family Washington claimants. Look how well famous family members have done for the country. The idea was to make GW so important to discourage would-be Caesars knowing their would be no Washington the II’s, III’s, and so forth.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      That article reminded me of a book I read recently that I can’t recommend enough – The Whiskey Rebellion by Willam Hogeland.

      If you think today’s US is a bastardized corruption of the high minded intent of the founding fathers, this book will disasbuse you of that notion.

      The best part of it is Hogeland’s very unsympathetic portrayal of Hamilton as a treasonous money grubber who was no fan of democracy at all, quite different from the current Broadway hagiography.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Thanks for the Ukrainian sniper link. That’s a crazy number of kills.

    Perhaps I’ll try to watch “battle for sebastopol” with my 2 daughters?

  17. Jean

    Anyone who uses Google voluntarily has no right to complain about loss of privacy.

    Startpage and duckduckgo are alternative search engines to the GoogMolloch. They don’t track, trace or record you. Nothing to subpoena.

    Plenty of alternative free email programs as well.

    1. David Carl Grimes

      Re: Facebook. Wasn’t it well known that a lot of third-party apps that link to facebook suck up as much user data as they can? That was one reason why I refuse to use Facebook logins for other apps. Cambridge Analytica did it because many other third-party apps did it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s campaign did the same thing in 2008 and 2012. So what’s new?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Slim checking in from Tucson. Finishing the second week of giving Facebook up for Lent.

        It’s amazing how much fun-time I have, now that I’m not posting this, that, and the other thing to the Borg. Just this past weekend, I hosted a group of University of Arizona students who were doing a trash pickup in my neighborhood. They were very energetic — eagerly worked for three hours, and, man, is my nabe looking GOOD! That was on Saturday morning.

        On Sunday afternoon, I went to see my friend Jeffrey and about 100 of his other musician colleagues performing as the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. It was an all-Russian program, and the highlight was “Pictures at an Exhibition” with animation. Really good. At the end, I clapped and hollered “Spacibo!” That’s Russian for “Thank you!”

        In short, I’m having a ball!

        1. The Rev Kev

          Be curious to see when your four weeks is up and you can look back and see what has changed in your life. I’m sure that you can see what you would have missed out on if you were still on Facebook. Sounds like you are having a ball.

    2. pricklyone

      If you are using Startpage, you are using Google search. Just through a somewhat anonymous proxy.
      Duckduckgo is a different sort of animal (pun intended).

      I use Google, when Startpage results skew too Eurocentric, which will happen if you use a VPN located outside the US.

      If someone actually “signs in” to Google services, they are indeed subjecting themselves to the extreme privacy invasion of the above. Myself, included, as I use Google Voice as my phone. As I have to have internet service, I use it as free VOIP service. Google knows exactly who I am, and has my credit card info, now(only way to get a local # here was to transfer an existing cell number, for a fee). It makes me sick, but was the only way I could find to cut my expenses to the bone. Some decisions are made in desperation, not from free choice.

      In the years since I bought my home, my phone has gone from $16.00 to $45.00/mo.
      Sewer service from $6.00/ month to over $50.00. Now includes a fee for trash contractor which used to be part of city services. Recently started to bill for sewer tied to water usage, above a minimal amount.
      Property tax has more than doubled.
      Electric and Gas bills now have “customer charges” equal to what the whole bill used to be, and add the usage of actual product on top of that. Even if you don’t use a Watt or a Cubic foot.
      Same goes for Water bill, all “customer charge”, even if you don’t drink or bathe. $45.00/mo for my minimal usage.
      You are NOT allowed to opt out of any of those services, here. I cannot use well water, go on a septic system, or use kerosine lamps.
      Phone bill was the only possibility for a significant reduction.
      SO, I made my deal with the devil. (And that is, actually, the way I think of it).
      Please don’t be too harsh, because if you have a cellphone, you are already making the same sort of bargain, anyway.

      1. Jean

        Consider sharing an ISP with neighbor(s) via ethernet connection or shared wifi password.

        We know people who “share” electricity with a neighbor who uses little electricity. A long power cord goes from one house’s outlet to another one’s high usage appliance. Compensation is awkward but if they are paying very little per KWHour and you are paying a lot, it’s worth it.
        Yes, safety is paramount.

        Consider roommates too.

        1. bob

          “Consider sharing an ISP with neighbor(s) via ethernet connection or shared wifi password. ”

          This is why ISP’s are now providing ‘free’ wifi routers. They turn down the power, which limits the range, to prevent sharing with neighbors.

          There are also a lot of changes in store for this. 5G is rumored to be all about letting the ISP route phone calls and mobile data use through their customers wifi/AP’s.

          They sell this as “better coverage”. It may be, but it’s not the ISP who is providing it. They are using your AP as a cell tower. Unlike with cell towers of old, you don’t get paid anything for letting the ISP/telco use your property, power and bandwidth to sell service to their customers.

          I’m already seeing spectrum/time warner cable roll out routers/AP’s with 2 seperate SSIN’s. One for the customer, another named “spectrum/TW hotspot”. Spectrum allows you, if you are a customer, to use anyone else’s TW/spectrum AP, if you are traveling/away from home.

          Look at the available WIFI networks in your neighborhood, or take a drive around to see this.

        2. pricklyone

          Jean, I realize now you may have thought my comment was directed at you, specifically. It was more in the nature of adding to it.
          As for your suggestions to share utilities via extension cord from one residence to another,
          I hope you come to realize how ridiculous that sounds.
          How would running an extension cord to the neighbor (100ft away) possibly help? If you do not have electricity, you cannot get an occupancy permit for your home. Insurance co. will surely not insure you. And would they heat it as well? Electric and gas company one in the same, here. As for IP access, WiFi over those distances is not feasible, and I would not ask my neighbors to participate in a scheme which would get them disconnected from the only broadband provider in the county.
          I have no allies among neighbors, here, which may be my fault as I always was inclined to mind my own business, and never made really close ties with them. I have been here since 1989, while the rest of them come and go, on to larger homes in richer suburbs, or whatever.
          As far as roommates go, no… I am 60 years old, not 22. When the little savings I have is gone, I will probably just sell the place, in its rundown state, and spend that money down trying to survive somewhere. But until then, I will try to stay on my own terms.
          See ya.

          1. Jean

            Prickly, I wasn’t clear in my schemata.

            Both homes have electricity. Home A would normally uses enough to go into third tier which costs way more per KWH.
            So they tap into HomeB that uses very little electricity and never goes out of tier one, thus HomeA uses electricity from HomeB’s meter at tier one rates, or maybe two if they use a lot. Metering is awkward, so there must be some other consideration.

            The same can be done with a garden hose between homes. An online water meter can easily track this borrowed usage. It’s those third tier rates that can be averaged down.

            One good neighbor, or friend, is worth five acquaintances. How do you know people around you aren’t in the same boat?
            Best of luck.

            Bob, a 100′ ethernet cable from one home’s modem to the neighbor’s. You should own both your own modem and router to avoid the absurd rental charges. Saving money is revolutionary.

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Good comment, and sorry you are in that bind! Cold comfort I’m sure, but you are going to have lots of company. You are required to have supplied electricity? You can’t, for instance, go solar on battery with no connection to the outside?

        1. pricklyone

          BB, it might be possible these days to do a stand-alone solar install, but it is academic in my case, as I am living on what is left of my “retirement savings”. As I have been doing since 2011.
          There are not funds for such, even if it proved practical.
          What I need is a damn job, ya know, but I think I have been out way too long now to be considered, and all my work references have evaporated.
          My current expenditures are at the 8000 dollar/year level. $4000 of that is property taxes and home and car insurance.
          Homeowner insurance may have to be cut next, although I live in fear of fire.
          Just trying to make it to Social Security, if they don’t kill that, too.

          1. ambrit

            We are in similar dire straits pricklyone.
            The water/sewer plus garbage pickup bill is almost identical to what we pay. A contact in the water office says to expect a twenty percent rate rise this fall.
            We are in Mississippi where ‘rugged individualists’ are allowed, nay, exhorted to suffer for their G-d given rights to, suffer. In Florida, one is now mandated to be tied into the electric power grid. So much for ‘progressive’ thinking. Anyway, as you point out, a home solar array is not cheap.
            I have encountered the anti oldies hiring philosophy myself. When I reach basic Social Security age soon I will be faced with the necessity of enrolling at the earliest because of lack of resources. That means a roughly quarter cut in benefits. So, I’ll have to do Social Security and cheap labour, since cheap is all that is available for most non-degreed workers today.
            Telecoms are the worst though. Fifty dollars a month for basic Internet service. Thirty five dollars a month for a ‘dumb’ flip phone. And no real competition.
            I’m getting a sudden mental flash of a yuuge migration of oldies and geezers to Washington to set up a shantytown on the Mall. Let’s call it “Granddys’ Bogus Army.” This time, since we’ll have little left to lose, when the fuzz start using force to move us out, we start shooting back. The Grand Gesture. At least the result’ll be more closely like the original inspiration for the elites anti-dissent strategy, the “Final Solution.” Finally, the Rule #2 of Neo-liberalism will be properly phrased. Not “Go die,” but, “We kill.”

            1. Cybernetcipede

              From the article The Big Five: ” In return, they have at times cooperated with intelligence agencies and the military”

              The understatement of the year? So that is what you call the seamless human centipede-like connection between these services and NSA, CIA etc?

              Reading Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine. Fun fact: the tendency to blame foreign inlfuence and fomenting local protests against real pain and grievances is not new.

          2. Brooklin Bridge

            Right. Sorry, didn’t mean to be insensitive. I was using solar more as a question than a suggestion but your point that it would be moot anyway is well taken.

            I have experienced the problem with age and looking for work but am more comfortable (not sure for how long) in my circumstances.. Made it to SS (not the full 70) and that helps a lot though it is still too small.

            With people like you and Ambrit (who’s warm and lucid comments I have followed for several years) it’s not only a waste but also just outrageous that interesting and well paid work is not readily available. I suppose I shouldn’t be so exclusive – everyone should have interesting work – but Ambrit (and I imagine you and others particularly on this site) not being able to get something with a phone call? Geesh!

            I do hope things improve.

            1. ambrit

              I hear you BB. The lack of work, of any sort, is the result of social policy. The “Mr. Market” always takes Greshams’ Dynamic to its’ logical extreme.
              All workers are now treated as ‘objects’ to be used and abused at will. “Owners’ presently have pride of place in our dystopia. A form of ‘Quietism’ has been preached to the working classes. This was part of the social contract now known as the New Deal in America. The forces of reaction have always wanted to roll back the New Deal social contract. However, little thought has been given to what will replace that social contractual ‘Quietism’ in the working classes now that the benefits side of the contract is being reneged on by the ‘owning’ party. In Ye Olde Dayes, peasant revolts were one effect of nonperformance by the ‘owners’ of their responsibilities under the extant social contract. Not, perhaps de jure, but sure enough de facto ‘actions’ of redress became the norm. We can say that such a state of affairs begets a degraded society. This is to be expected when one side of a social contract breaks their word.
              As I like to say; “They’d be dangerous if they knew what they were doing.” Today, ‘they’ are just as dangerous in their blissful ignorance.
              Call this the “Soma Decade.”

      3. Procopius

        I was trying to find who it was after one of the school massacres that said something like, “Your dead kid isn’t more important than my second amendment rights.” I tried every combination I could think of on Google without result. Found it first try on duck-duck-go. The rotten son of a bitch was Joe the Plumber.

        That said, I’m really, really not happy with duck-duck-go. The times I’ve tried it usually have not been successful. Since I don’t pay much attention to ads I continue to use Google most of the time.

  18. fresno dan

    One aspect of the reported findings, however, stands out. According to these reports, investigators believed that McCabe misled them about his approval of a leak to the media on the Clinton investigation. An alleged false or misleading statement by McCabe could rekindle questions about how the Justice Department addresses alleged false statements within its own ranks.
    As I have previously written, Comey was in violation of FBI rules when he removed memos linked to the investigation and then leaked the information to the media through a friend. The Justice Department has indicated that these memos were FBI documents removed by Comey without prior approval.

    Moreover, four of the seven memos that Comey removed are now believed to be classified. Since he reportedly gave four memos to his friend, Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman, to leak to the media, at least one disclosed memo may have been classified. It is a crime to remove or release classified information. While Comey could have legally given the information to a congressional committee or alerted them to the existence of the memos, he chose to remove the material and leak the information to the media.
    Can anyone questioned by a clever (with the agenda of career advancement) prosecutor be put into a “perjury trap”?
    But that isn’t even the main problem – the real problem is WHO gets investigated. Poor Carter Page. Put under surveillance….why? And it sure seems like a great deal of effort TRYING to make him look guilty of something for no reason other than to maintain the credibility of the FISA process.

    AND for everyone else, couldn’t a case be made that IN FACT EVERY question by the FBI to you should be answered by: I invoke my right under the 5th amendment against self incrimination???
    Is the FBI/DOJ looking for THE truth, or are they looking for a particular truth? Is the truth that FISA courts are manipulated, but this can’t be examined because it reveals the US government, under BOTH dems and repubs, is a rather corrupt bunch who make the “facts” fit the charges….

    1. Sid Finster

      Perjury and lying to investigators is lawful, commendable even (cue up “Hero of the Republic(tm)”), when the Establishment approves.

  19. Massinissa

    So, I found this hatchet job at the “Chronicle of Higher Education” taking aim at the humanities.

    Apparently this writer has complete authority over the issue and claims, objectively I am sure, that there is *no* case for the humanity and that all possible defenses are “hollow”.

    Yeah, sorry, but this feels more like agenda pushing than anything else. Complete hatchet job.

    1. Ted

      I dunno, I thought the point was that the humanities are intrinsically valuable. They cannot therefore be extrinsically valued. The argument seems to be humanists do humanities because they have done so, are doing so, and will continue to do so.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Really? I think perhaps you missed the point of the article, which was to point out that that the humanities are no less (or more) able to defend themselves in terms of the “value” they provide than they ever have been, which is not at all. The argument that humanities “needs” to prove its worth is unwinnable – if you truly value the humanities (and elites do, although they tire of paying for state-supported universities), then you don’t need proof; if you don’t, there is no proof good enough.

      The author particularly disdains the idea that the humanities inculcate morals and values that underly democratic society, pointing out that the humanities existed centuries before democracy was a thing, and that universities are and always have been about cultivating an intellectual elite. As someone who has been in and around U.S. universities (public and private) for large parts of my life, I would agree.

      1. witters

        A bit busy here at work, but this: “pointing out that the humanities existed centuries before democracy was a thing.”

        So the humanities not originally a Greek thing?

        1. Procopius

          I’m pretty sure there is at least one novel among the Sumerian clay tablets, lots of poetry, some history, some description of contemporary life (see History Begins At Sumer, by Samuel Noah Kramer).

  20. Wukchumni

    Why Goldman Sachs alums go into government NY Post.
    Sounds like Cohn pone to me, and to think he quit over tariffism threats, ha!

    1. Procopius

      No, that was long said to be the reason Tillerson would not quit. They need to work in the government position for one year, and they get the tax break. IIRC Tillerson saved himself $70,000 that way. I agree it’s chump change for a guy as rich as Tillerson, but perhaps he got more job satisfaction than he expected from tearing the State Department down. Anyway, they get rich by stealing every dollar they can. Must be exhausting.

  21. edmondo

    Once Upon a Time, Congress Actually Fought Saudi Arms Deals. It Can Again. Foreign Policy in Focus. Worth remembering that Congress wasn’t always a completely corrupt cesspit but can and has served as a check on the president.

    Once upon a time, Saudi Arabia and Israel weren’t BFF’s in the goal to attack Iran.
    AIPAC wins another one.

  22. Wukchumni

    What a crazy winter it’s been here on the left coast, bottom corner pocket.

    3 weeks ago I hiked up to a pass @ 9,500 feet in the High Sierra with not one iota of snow along the way, and after the next storm barrels through starting tomorrow, there’ll probably be 6-8 feet of snow @ the pass.

          1. Wukchumni

            Arizona has long been a crass-test-dummy for the GOP to see what they can get away with in other red states by trying it there first, and now it is trying to garner the crash-test-dummy market, as well.

            1. wilroncanada

              Uber is already setting up an astroturf organization to demand action on the dangers posed BY pedestrians.

    1. Wukchumni

      A self-driving car from Uber Technologies Inc. hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday evening, what is likely the first pedestrian fatality involving a driverless vehicle. In response, Uber quickly halted its self-driving cars as the incident is investigated.

      The woman was crossing the road when the Uber vehicle, operating in autonomous mode, struck her, according to the Tempe Police Department. She was transferred to a local hospital where she died from her injuries. “Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation,” Liliana Duran, a spokeswoman from the Tempe police, said in an emailed statement.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        With deference to the tragic loss of this woman’s life, I have to wonder how much longer we are actually going to hear about such accidents through the media?

      2. Oregoncharles

        Isn’t that the exact type of obstacle the cars are programmed to avoid – and one of the easiest to identify? This strikes me as a catastrophic failure, and not only for the victim.

  23. Expat

    re: Marianne.
    French tv is full of tits and ass which shocks few people. It is also filled with violence though much, much less than American tv.
    In America you can show people getting shot and stabbed graphically. But show one breast and you get riots in the streets. Reminds me of George Carlin’s sketch about switching the words “fuck” and “kill” in movies; ratings would go from R to X.
    Some experts talk about Muslim men being sexually repressed and therefore violent, the irony being that many of them are virgins looking to get 24 more of themselves in paradise, it seems. If the sexual repression leads to violent behavior, that could explain quite a bit about American culture. Perhaps if American youth spent more time having sex, they would spend less time shooting each other later in life?

    1. Arizona Slim

      I did a summer abroad in Spain. ‘Twas a year after Franco’s death, and I was shocked at, well, how suggestive the national TV was.

      Especially when attractive women were on screen. Panning the figure from top to bottom and then back to the top was commonplace. It was obvious that the cameramen were enjoying their jobs.

    2. marym

      “Some experts…”

      This unsubstantiated sentence contributes nothing of value to the discussion, it seems.

      1. ambrit

        Which makes it perfectly congruous to the “entertainment” fare under discussion. “Nothing of value” is the motto of todays’ media.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1 French TV. vs some of the most popular websites Americans visit (hint, adult).

      My money is on Americans seeing more. (Especially when a local football team loses).

      2. Young French vs. young Americans in having sex.

      I don’t believe we are behind or, far behind.

  24. Rates

    Goldman people going to government.

    May not be the same, but Zuckerberg with his “foundation” gives him an excuse to sell his stocks for “charity”. The real excuse might be that he could see the writing in the wall given the hoolaballa this weekend.

      1. Ignacio

        Should we try self driving vehicles until we can compare and decide which is more deadly?
        For what reason?

      2. pricklyone

        Who is this “WE”. I don’t remember a referendum on the subject. I was not consulted as to whether I wanted Travis K. to control traffic, and licensing for my state.
        Humans indeed have limitations. These are recognized, and (if imperfectly) considered in the design of our current systems. NO such recognition exists for machine controlled automobiles, as the tech is largely proprietary and hidden.
        Machine controlled cars are not a solution, they are just another problem.
        Mass transit seems to me a better answer to traffic injury, and does not encourage the waste of one passenger to one vehicle.

      3. Rates

        That’s never been the point. Rather, how do you assign responsibility here?

        Assuming the fault relies with the non pedestrian. Is it:
        1. The AI’s fault? In which case we should all have AI persona so no one will go to jail.
        2. Uber’s fault? Again, should they get fined/punished? And who is “they”? Management?
        3. The software engineers’ fault? But they are “just following orders”.

        How does the software guarantee that this will never happen again? If that can’t be done, who decides what percentage is acceptable? Let’s say, you are the victim and the percentage is deemed acceptable, should we just forget it and move on? Remember the Golden Rule? I know you don’t because most Americans by now have forgotten it.

      4. JerryDenim

        There’s a very big difference between a “ban” and prudent common-sense regulation.

        There’s currently a rush to liberalize the regulation of autonomous vehicles and limit the liability of the the operators. Considering this latest tragedy validates the worst concerns of the technology’s critics and shows the the proponents of the technology to be liars, fools or both, a temporary ban of autonomous vehicles on public streets until regulators and the public can catch up to what’s already happened with this fast moving technology is a no-brainer.

        Not saying that will be the outcome though. Sadly I doubt much will change. Profits before people as usual.

      5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The possibility is that,

        1 One human driver is different from another human driver

        2. All self-driving cars from one manufacturer or one algorithm are all the same, and will repeat the same error

        It merits closer examination of the latter, because

        1. We have statistics of human drivers over decades, from all countries and we can guess at various frequencies of occurence

        2 We don’t know what to expect from self-driving cars.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The vehicle involved is one of the Uber’s self-driving vehicles. It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel.

      I think they’ve also way overestimated what safety control a human “vehicle operator” can provide.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Is this a trick question? For starters, the company that owns the car and the government that allowed it on the road.

    2. JerryDenim

      Well, that didn’t take long. Good to know corrupt politicians and glibertarians are frantically rushing to pass “laws” suspending all NTSB rules and radically limiting liability for ginormous corporations deploying untested robot death machines on our streets.

      Perhaps this is too glib of a suggestion considering how sad and preventable the recent Arizona tragedy (murder?) was, but perhaps all future Naked Capitalism news on autonomous cars and their regulation, or lack there of, can fall under the header; “There Will Be Blood”

      It’s really clarifying to see how eager our politicians are to sacrifice randomized members of the citizenry to swell the bank accounts of Uber and Waymo executives.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I wonder if the Pols and the .01s will carry some sort of rfid on their person to signal driverless missiles to stay well away.

        1. JerryDenim

          Whoah. A cynical sci-fi writer like WilliamGibson could really mine this idea. More chances for capitalist grift. Uber could sell a ‘broad-spectrum autonomous vehicle alerting bracelet’ as a 21st century dystopian talisman. “82% effective against drone swarms too!” Like surfers buying elaborate shark repellent systems from hucksters only to find out the system is in fact an attractant.

          Good times 2018.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Sci-fi writers have already mined this idea, although I don’t know Ada Palmer’s level of cynicism.

            For those who like sci-fi, politics, the Enlightenment, and hate Uber, this is the series for you. I’m guessing that constitutes a significant percentage of this site’s readership :)

            I can’t discuss too much without giving away a major portion of the plot, but she seems to have hit on one the more sinister applications of the self-driving car phenomenon.

            What I will say regarding the books and real life – just remember, when you get into one of those cars, someone at the car company knows you’re there and has you at their mercy.

          2. Brooklin Bridge

            Great expansion! 82% effective against drone swarms – :-) We have the beginnings of a business plan.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          One wonders if spiteful and vengeful class-war hackers would learn to hack into robocars and read everything the cars’ sensors were sensing. If they read the cars’ sensors sensing transmissions from “don’t hit me, I’m rich and important” Rfids, they could hackattack the cars’ Prime Directive to read . . . ” Always run down the source of the Rfid transmission”.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s possible that,

      1 One human driver is different from another human driver

      2. All self-driving cars from one manufacturer or one algorithm are all the same, and will repeat the same errors

      So, it merits closer examination of the latter, because

      1. We have statistics of human drivers over decades, from all countries and we can guess at various frequencies of occurence

      2 We don’t know what to expect from self-driving cars.

  25. pricklyone

    Uber “cooperating with authorites to understand what happened”.
    I for one understand, already, what happened. A bunch of tech crazed amateur world builders at Google,Uber, Amazon, Microsoft etc. rushed completely inadequate tech “solutions” into testing. The rest of us have to live or die according to their whims.
    That about sum it up?

    1. Livius Drusus

      This is what I resent most about the masters of tech sector. They seem to be in the business of creating demand for their pet projects through hype especially in the mainstream media which laps up stories about these projects and usually claims that they are “inevitable” even when testing has barely begun. Then you have the wider public accepting it because it is declared “inevitable” by all of the Very Serious People and also look at this cool YouTube video of a self-driving car! Wow!

      The self-driving car issue seems to be a solution looking for a problem. For years the progressive answer to our transportation problems was to build more human-centered, walkable cities and towns and to improve traditional public transportation. That seems to have gone out the window as people have jumped on the self-driving car bandwagon.

      I don’t see how self-driving cars will reduce congestion or our pollution problem. It is still a very individualistic solution promising everyone their own car only this time you don’t need a driver. I guess part of the problem is that public transportation is seen as something for poor people so it never caught on with Americans who are increasingly status-conscious. Self-driving cars on the other hand represent the status associated with any “smart” products, just like Uber itself. Basically Uber is just a more modern version of the gypsy cab but because of the tech angle they successfully marketed Uber toward yuppies and that is what will happen with self-driving cars if they ever get off the ground.

      1. flora

        Public sector’s roads, rules for car safety, rules for driving, public laws must not stand in the way of the private sector’s wealth creation fantasies. The public sector must never hinder the private sector for any reason. Read Ayn Rand. And invest in Theranos. /s

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        You raise excellent points regarding congestion, hype, and so on but I would pick a bone with The self-driving car issue seems to be a solution looking for a problem.. There is a real problem driverless cars are intent on solving and it is the perpetuation of the status quo by individual cars and long distance commutes. This alone is key to the volume of profits they dream of, not to mention the control over people and endless profits they will get as they push the current model of purchased cars ever closer to one of pure rent extraction.

        The perpetuation of everything wrong from a sustainability point of view with 1 or 2 people zipping around endlessly in every direction all over the planet in astounding volume is another problem solved. Just the preservation of job commutes of 30 miles and more each way every day for one individual solves the problem of movement toward public transportation and the dangerous desire people have of local commerce and economies of small scale to fit reduced consumption.

        Control, data collection and so on of the people inside these vehicles is a whole ‘nother story.

        The ostensible reason for these missles is efficiency. Without it, so it is claimed, the one-person-one-car model is simply going to grind to a halt unless we pave the entire planet. But solving that with driverless cars going 100 mph at about an inch from each other is pure bunk. Driverless cars will hit their own congestion limit in very little time and they will not work at any great speed nor at any particularly significant gains from proximity not offset by danger and screw ups.

        Perhaps this is where your idea of a solution looking for a problem is accurate, since the premise that we must continue such exclusive dependency on the one-car-one-driver model of transportation is false and thus not a problem requiring a parallel solution.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          And the only version anyone can afford except for weddings and proms will be a shuttle.

          I think it’s useful to talk up the inevitability of the “Self Driving Bus”. Although “Driverless Bus” might be more evocative.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Where is the steering wheel located on a flying carpet?

              Presumably that implies it is self-flying.

            2. Brooklin Bridge

              Perfect! Magic buses and magic cars. And that’s really exactly what they will be even to the developers; magic. It won’t always be good magic though and it looks like it’s purpose is going to start out being downright malevolent.

              I could see magic buses mixed in with a smaller number of magic cars. If that were all there was to it. If the intention was to provide a service rather than extract rent and exercise in your face control and obtrusiveness, then taking a magic bus, or a magic train and using magic cars for the last mile or so could be quite pleasant.

              Contractors, though, I imagine will be yelling till they are blue in the face, No, I didn’t mean go 70 miles that-a-way; I meant, “go get 70 tiles that are grey,” you dumb heap of trash.

              1. ambrit

                I was sort of hoping more for the return of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in their Magic Bus.
                Oh, do go and see:
                My contractor will growl; “Yes. I said 70 tiles of grey blotter with Mr. Natural striding across them like Aurora at the dawn.” Then we’d all fold space for Ix.

  26. Wukchumni

    WASHINGTON — As President Trump congratulated the Houston Astros for winning the World Series at a White House ceremony last week, he also heaped praise on himself and congressional Republicans for passing a sweeping tax cut last year. He hailed Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the House’s chief tax writer and an Astros superfan, as “the king of those tax cuts.”

    What he did not mention is that the new tax law Mr. Brady helped draft, and which Mr. Trump signed, levies a large new tax on the Astros, and similar franchises across professional sports.

    The law changed a corner of the tax code that mostly applies to farmers, manufacturers and other businesses that until recently could swap certain assets like trucks and machinery tax-free. But by adding a single word to the newly written tax code — “real” — the law now only allows real estate swaps to qualify for that special treatment.

    It also means that the Astros and other sports franchises could now face capital gains taxes every time they exchange or trade their highly paid players.

    The provision is raising concerns and questions across Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, starting with: How do you value a player?

    Might MLB, NBA & the NHL become more like the NFL, where trades are few and far between?

    1. Arizona Slim

      He FINALLY congratulated the World Series winners? Donald Trump, yer disappointin’ me!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This is what happens, I think (and I am not a CPA).

      A player is both an asset and a liability.

      So, a player with a contract at $100 million a year for 5 years would be entered by the accountant with $500 million on the liability side and $500 million on the asset side of the team ledger.

      Three years into that contract, the liability is reduced to $200 million with a book value of the same, assuming you can not depreciate that contract.

      The player might be entering his prime, and on the open market, might command $300 million for 10 years, but unlucky for the team, there is no guarantee he will re-sign with the team to add a total of $3,000 million on the asset and liability sides.

      The team, though, is looking at a paper profit of $400 million (market rate of $300 million a year minus the contract salary of only $100 million a year, for the remaining 2 years on the contract).

  27. JEHR

    Re: The Metric God that Failed

    “And, third, the best way to motivate people within organizations is to attach monetary or reputational rewards and penalties to their measured performance.”

    Well, I once worked for an organization that promised $1000 dollars for the team who finished its project first.

    Our team did not win; I left the organization. “Measured performance” is not a motivator especially when a worker wants to do the job well and works twice as long and still cannot meet the deadline.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      It has been proven over and over again that the best way to motivate people within organizations is to show them respect and to provide them with the tools they need to do the job, and that monetary rewards are a poor substitute that works much less well. But economists by definition, and consultants paid to develop or evaluate bonus plans, do not accept the research results of other disciplines that challenge their expertise.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I worked as a temp at a mortgage processing company about 15 years ago. Most of the people working there had no idea what a mortgage was, much less if the paperwork was done properly, but our job was to get the paperwork organized quickly and get it out the door. One day they called us in and said they were dividing us into color coded teams and because the object was to do the job quickly and not necessarily correctly or legally (and we all know how that turned out), each person on the team who put together the most paperwork in any given week or month would receive a $25 gift certificate to Olive Garden or Applebee’s or something equally mundane. That was my last day at that job.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Olive Garden and Applebee’s are a crime against cuisine. Which is why I would have been following you out the door, lyman.

        1. ambrit

          “Sirs! Was there something wrong with the service?”
          Even the formerly reliable ‘hole in the wall’ Chinese Restaurants are becoming soulless franchise chains.
          Our fave seafood place down in Gulfport was bought out by some idiots who have gone full ‘trendy’ on us. We went there Sunday for our anniversary. Going out to eat is now a very rare occasion. We suffered through half of the original amount of food for slightly higher prices and absolutely clueless wait help. The vegetables looked like they voluntarily gave themselves up. We both could tell that the deep frying grease was not being cleaned often enough.

          1. wilroncanada

            Waiter, what kind of soup is this?
            It’s bean soup, sir.
            I don’t care what it’s been, I want to know what it is now.

  28. JEHR

    I am very happy that I never joined Facebook; that I left Twitter; and I promise to try to use DuckDuckGo from now on!

    1. diptherio

      Not that you’re looking for a replacement, but I’ve been enjoying, which is an instance of the open-source Mastadon micro-blogging platform mostly inhabited by lefty co-op types. There are a bunch of other instances to join to, for whatever your interests happen to be.

    2. Summer

      Duckduckgo as a search and Ghostery as a browser: just as an eye opener to the tracking by data companies.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Interesting. But, as even they admit, the corpse/zombie is likely to stagger along for a good while yet.

  29. Summer

    Re: Facebook..worst case scenarios

    Hard to change a culture that keeps a churn of manufactured guileless innocence as a hiring policy.

  30. ebbflows

    Uber halts self-driving car tests after fatal collision – Incident feared to be first time pedestrian has died in autonomous vehicle accident.

    I wonder if “everyone” got the memo reminding they were – all – part of the testing platform and not to forget too sign the waiver. Not to worry tho, good data was derived from this unfortunate occurrence, just the price – we – all have to pay for progress.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Hey Frank, would you stop trying to stuff a float into an integer? But hey, mistakes happen.

  31. bob

    Another thing that may be part of the pole replacement-

    NYS is rumored to be allowing Verizon, et al, to set up “micro” cells on each utility pole, if they want.

    It’s difficult in practice. They can’t put the antennas near the power lines. The lack of elevation limits range. But, in very crowded areas with bandwidth limits, it could prove to be a way to increase mobile services/data.

  32. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    No CEO should earn 1,000 times more than a regular employee Guardian

    That’s still a lot – 1,000 times.

  33. Wukchumni

    The knock on the front door of the South Lake Tahoe vacation rental was a surprise.

    It was the first family getaway together for Dr. Gus Pries and his extended family. With six adults, four children ranging from 3 months to 5 years old, suitcases, snow gear and groceries, the San Jose residents took three cars for their Presidents Day weekend trip.

    When they arrived, they parked all the cars on the rental property while they unloaded and used the bathroom. Then came the knock.

    A police officer said they were receiving a $1,000 ticket for having one too many cars on site, and the property’s owner would be fined an additional $1,000. The family members’ explanation that it was just temporary and they planned to move the third car fell on deaf ears, Pries said.

    “It’s preposterous and unfair,” said Pries, a San Jose dentist. “I’ve never been treated so poorly as a tourist. It’s not like we were having a big party or the 3-year-olds were doing a beer bong.”

    As South Lake Tahoe struggles with a proliferation of vacation-home rentals in its residential neighborhoods, the El Dorado County town has enacted tough new rules, slapping $1,000 fines on both vacation-rental guests and owners for infractions related to noise, parking, trash, too many visitors, too many cars or hot-tubbing after 10 p.m.

    Homeowners say the influx of weekend visitors, some of whom they describe as drunken revelers, destroys their tranquillity and neighborhood character. They point to new McMansions with eight or more bedrooms being built specifically to house tourists. They’d like to ban vacation rentals altogether in residential areas.

    But business and civic leaders fear hurting the region’s No. 1 industry, tourism. Some 41 percent of the alpine town’s jobs are directly related to out-of-town visitors, while many other sectors, such as retail, also benefit. Meanwhile, vacation-home owners say they rely on the income.

    The conflict mirrors similar ones being played out in other California tourist towns, including Monterey, Palm Springs, Santa Monica, and the Los Angeles County cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. In San Francisco, where leisure and hospitality account for 11 percent of jobs, the city enacted registration requirements for short-term rentals in 2014. These are now being strictly enforced after several years of battles. While San Francisco and some other cities have steep penalties for property owners and websites that arrange illicit vacation rentals, Tahoe stands out for fining guests as well as owners.

    “It is polarizing,” said Brian Uhler, the South Lake Tahoe police chief. “There are two factions: those who feel the neighborhoods are no longer peaceful, and those who are in the vacation business or just don’t mind the rentals. The city is trying to accommodate both.”

    The law, which took effect Dec. 22, has a “three strikes” provision: Vacation-home owners who receive three upheld violations within 24 months lose their short-term-rental permit — forever.

    “I now have 22 vacation rentals within 500 feet of my house,” said Jerry Goodman, who has lived in Tahoe for 54 years and built his house in Heavenly Valley 40 years ago. “In the whole Heavenly ski part of town, there’s not one single schoolchild anymore, no families. We don’t have a neighborhood anymore.

    “On Friday afternoons, you see who pulls up. If it’s 10 guys unloading kegs of beer, you know it’s gonna be trouble. We’re fed up.”

    That’s some pretty heavy duty fines, a grandido for the tourist, and another thousand for the property owner~

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Hard to see how this isn’t going to get worse before it gets better. Prices go up in desirable areas, more people (operators or not) gravitate to the vacation rental economy, prices go up…

      Was recently in Myrtle Beach, which has built an entire economy on vacation rentals. But it’s way overbuilt now, or at least the prices were a lot cheaper than I expected in a tourist place. A number of aging resorts seemed to be in the process of being entirely gutted and rebuilt and there were several other prime sites that were vacant, as if the previous structure had been torn down some time ago but absolutely no evidence of new projects in place.

      1. Wukchumni

        The only monthly rentals in town here are places that are too beat down to be able to rent as vacation rentals. And you just know the owners of said places are doing the math to see if it makes sense to fix them up.

  34. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    All aboard for Taiwan.

    Taiwan’s biannual defense review, released in late 2017, documented 16 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills carried out in the vicinity of the island in that year, calling them an “enormous threat,” the South China Morning Post reported.

    Unless the Art of War is not available in Simplified Chinese, Sunzi would advise the recovery of the rebel island, to preserve China’s own union, by economic means, like travel restrictions, sanctions or tariffs (for goods across the Taiwan Strait), or nationalizing Taiwan’s investments in Mainland.

    While Taiwan media have focused on scrambled government countermeasures to the incentives, few on the island really believe that China is genuine in trying to win hearts and minds, even with pocketbook sweeteners.

    How is Taiwan doing winning the hearts and minds on the other side? How many Chinese on the Mainland feel Taiwan is being unfairly treated?

  35. Wukchumni

    I owned a fair amount of Lukoil stock once upon a time, but sold it about a decade ago, and seeing how neck deep they are in this Cambridge Analytica mess, I just wanted to proclaim my innocence to nobody in particular.

  36. audrey jr

    Robot car kills woman in crosswalk in Tempe, AZ.
    Well done, all.
    So who’s responsible? Software programmers or Uber?

    1. Wukchumni

      I’d say the human in the passenger seat of the self driving car that struck and killed the bicyclist in Az. bears a little responsibility, otherwise what was he or she doing in the vehicle if it was safe enough to do it’s own thing, sans one of us?

    2. cnchal

      The driver/engineer behind the steering wheel that failed to react when the robot malfunctioned.

      I can hear some reasons already. “It went so many miles without incident, I got bored and played solitaire”.

  37. John Beech

    Using N to execute death penalty prisoners, eh? Sounds a lot like drowning to me. I wonder why they don’t just use some of the heroin or fentanyl found when people OD? Why make this any more difficult by developing an apparatus to gas someone when a drug, which some use to get high is so cheap and plentiful?

    1. Grebo

      The answer is your question. They will get high. That in itself is enough for a death sentence in some people’s ‘minds’.

  38. ambrit

    I’m sure he can sneak across the border to his uncle Vanyas in New Brunswick and claim political asylum.
    He’ll land on his feet. We have confidence in him.

  39. Ptolemy Philopater

    Just wondering, will Trump’s death penalty for opiate dealers apply to the Stackler family? Just saying. They are certainly responsible for more deaths by opiate than any street dealer. But then again, according to the elites the country has too many deplorables, better to thin out the herd. This is not about punishing drug dealers, because if it were the Stacklers would be on death row, it is about an excuse to execute more brown people. Just saying.

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