Links 3/26/18

Elephant caught ‘smoking’ on camera leaves scientists baffled Independent. ??? Watch this video– what is going on here?

Are Lithuanians obsessed with bees? BBC

Signifiers Hedgehog Review. Seeing the misuse of the verb curate usually makes me skip or fast forward. What’s wrong with plain old select?

A history of loneliness The Conversation

Imported trap approved by Government to kill pests also lethal to Britain’s dwindling hedgehog numbers Independent

The last whalers Aeon

Writer Jan Morris on reporting from Everest and changing sex FT. Lunch with the FT.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico six months after Hurricane Maria: then and now The deck: Six months after Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017, AFP photographer Ricardo Arduengo revisited his photographs of the devastation included the uprooting of trees, destruction of homes and widespread flooding. Guardian

Kill Me Now

Obama ponders creating ‘a million young Barack Obamas’ The Hill (UserFriendly). And the MSM criticize Trump’s narcissism.  I guess it’s a more or less necessary quality for anyone who runs seriously for President.

Thousands Lose Right to Vote Under ‘Incompetence’ Laws Pew Charitable Trusts

The DAs Who Want to Set the Guilty Free The Marshall Project

Uber Killer Car

Most Stressful Job on the Road: Not Driving an Autonomous Car WSJ

How McDonald’s uses interior design tricks to keep customers wanting more Marketwatch

American adults just keep getting fatter Miami Herald

Class Warfare

Uber concedes in Southeast Asia, sells business to rival Grab MarketWatch

‘The Gig Economy’ Is the New Term for Serfdom Truthdig

HIV/AIDS taught us how to beat the opioid epidemic Salon

Gentrifier couple thrilled by short interaction with working class locals The Daily Mash

Train Buffs Are Traveling Cross-Country in Super Luxe Railcars Hitched to Amtrak Trains WSJ

Rural hospital shutdowns force communities to take care of their own CNBC

Sports Desk

Australia Ball-Tampering Not as Disparaging as the Culture That Allowed It The Wire. Front page news in places that take their cricket seriously.

Strayan cricket the perfect metaphor for a dirty nation And, an equally scathing condemnation from an Australian source.


Only 3% Millennial Turnout in Illinois Primary Millennial Politics. UserFriendly: ​”I txted people for the primary, they hated all the candidates.​”


Rick Santorum to Parkland students: Learn CPR instead of protesting for ‘phony gun laws’ USA Today (The Rev Kev)

Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here’s why it doesn’t have mass shootings San Francisco Chronicle

(Chuck L)


Will the Putin-Xi era supersede the Western liberal (dis)order? Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

China’s new central bank chief shrugs off financial risks from trade war SCMP

China needs more water. So it’s building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain SCMP

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

As countries across the world forge ahead with digital ID projects, where does privacy fit in? Part 2 of a 4 part series.

Aadhaar Analytica: Why both data protection scandals should deeply disturb everyone

Sticking to your diet? This tooth-mounted food sensor could transmit the truth Ars Technica. Creepy! Who would seriously want to do this?


Sinai Peninsula: Sisi’s offensive continues despite promises Al Jazeera

Syria – The East-Ghouta-Afrin Exchange Is Complete – Where Will The SAA Go Next? Moon of Alabama

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea divers explore freedoms off the coast WaPo. This puff piece just happens to appear the week Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in DC, hoping to promote tourism as a way to offset declining Saudi Arabian oil revenues. Party on! Let’s do spring break in Riyadh.

On the Imperative of Transnational Solidarity: A U.S. Black Feminist Statement on the Assassination of Marielle Franco The Black Scholar (UserFriendly)

Facebook Fracas

Fleeing Facebook app users realise what they agreed to in apps years ago – total slurpage The Register (The Rev Kev)

Americans less likely to trust Facebook than rivals on personal data Reuters

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Alternative to Facebook? Slashdot (Chuck L)

People are freaking out that Facebook’s Android apps collect call and text data — but Facebook says it got permission Business Insider (David L)

Why the Outrage? London Review of Books

Former Cambridge Analytica workers say firm sent foreigners to advise U.S. campaigns WaPo

Sex in Politics…Not!

Stormy Daniels sighs as she recalls ‘bad sex’ with ‘ugly’ Donald Trump Usually I try to take the high road when I select links but– I confess, Metro had me at the headline. And I thought at least some readers might appreciate the details about watching Shark Attack.

Trump Transition

GOP senators fuel Justice Kennedy retirement talk The Hill

Trump’s legal team in flux as he reverses hiring decision Politico

Hawks Always Fail Upwards American Conservative. Follow on from the Stephen Walt Foreign Policy column I linked to yesterday. Here’s the link for anyone who may have missed it: Welcome to the Dick Cheney Administration Foreign Policy.

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. fresno dan

    Rick Santorum to Parkland students: Learn CPR instead of protesting for ‘phony gun laws’ USA Today (The Rev Kev)

    “How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” Santorum


    Second, I doubt even one of the Parkland victims would have been aided by CPR – CPR does nothing for blood loss.

      1. Darius

        Santorum just wants to normalize deadly violence in schools. It’s a key element in the white supremacist agenda. Keep school kids and their families terrorized.

        1. hunkerdown

          In fact, a notable Democrat bundler/blogger pushed that definition of the term into existence.

    1. Matt

      Santorum, another loud follower of the Prince of Peace who can’t get enough of war and bloodshed.

    2. RUKidding

      Please remember that Santorum is a big “pro-life” hack who wants to abolish abortion because “sanctity of life.”

      I guess once one traverses the birth canal, all bets are off according to Santorum.

      Here’s a question: for someone who hasn’t worked at a real job in over a decade, howzzat that Icky Ricky and his brood can lead the good life that they do? Guess being a charlatan, willing to sell your soul to the highest – or is that lowest? – bidder pays the bills.

      This is one of the stupidest and most venal things I’ve read to date, but no doubt the 2d Amendment crowd simply loved this, uh, message.

      A message delivered shortly after the real Catholic on the planet, Pope Francis, said:

      “Dear young people,” the Pope said, you have it in you to shout.”

      “It’s up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, some corrupt keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”

      Fake Roman Catholic, Rick Santorum, should take a moment from grifting from the NRA to listen to the leader of the church to which Santorum professes fealty.

      Do us all a favor and get a real job, Santorum.

      1. Lord Koos

        I wonder if our political elite would see things differently if there were some mass shootings at the private schools they send their kids to? “Let them eat lead”.

      2. fresno dan

        March 26, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        What I find astounding is that Santorum believes that people (high school students) who want the government to regulate guns at least as well as they regulate cars BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING MURDERED should tdo something themselves (the students)!

        Is there any doubt that Santorum 50 years ago would have said that rape victims, instead of depending on the state and the police, should learn self defense, wear locked chastity belts, and never go out without a man instead of depending on the police and the courts???

        Hopefully, it won’t take 50 years to understand that school murders ARE NOT THE VICTIMS FAULT.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      I thought that app the kids needed were “thoughts and prayers”.

      Santorum just wants everyone to be home schooled.. problem solved.

    4. oliverks

      As I reflected on the protests this weekend, I realized that a whole generation of young people have grown up being terrorized by gun violence in schools. They even do active shooter drills in schools now.

      My sincere hope is these young adults will become voters, and change the tone of American politics. Their voices will change or end the 2nd amendment, if they vote. There is little I can see in the amendment that provides real protection to people who feel the need to own assault rifles.

      1. Polar Donkey

        A week after my son turned 4 years old, his pre-school had an active shooter drill. Huddle kids in a corner and turn out lights. My son and several other kids had various levels of anxiety getting dropped off at school. Took my son a couple weeks to get back to normal. Wtf kind of country do we live in? He is not attending school ever again on f-ng active shooter drill day.

      2. HotFlash

        We only had ‘duck and cover’ back in my day. But suppose, just suppose, this was only the current ‘thing’ to keep young people frightened?

        1. rjs

          i still recall being told never to look to the west (towards cleveland) during an air raid because i would be blinded by the flash of the nuclear bomb that the Ruskies were sure to drop on the industrial city..

        2. Procopius

          I was too old for the “duck and cover” drills, but from what I heard from younger kids they weren’t terrorized by them. They thought they were evidence of how stupid adults are. There was a joke going around while I was still in high school — “Notice: In case of nuclear attack, you will be warned by a blinding flash and the smell of burning flesh; yours.” I don’t know how it would have been for really young kids, kindergarten and first grades, but kids are pretty resilient. Or maybe I’m just displaying my lack of a nurturing personality, or my cynicism, or lack of empathy.

      3. Roger Smith

        Have the kids been terrorized by actual shooter events, or by constant paranoia, rampant media coverage, and mandatory safety drills? All the data that I see floating around seems to indicate that these events are still rare (though I am not holding that as truth). What I do observe is an endless (purposeful?) fixation of all levels of news media constantly obsessing over these shootings and the teenage victims. Constant copy cat reports all over (a bullet was found on campus! Local school on lock down) and the more this all spreads, the more it seems to perpetuate the behavior. Now we’ve moved to the all to familiar political, good vs. evil (terrorist) dichotomy. Do these protests actually seem organic to anybody? What would an organic movement look like?

        I don’t think it is ever in anyone’s favor to bargain away rights already enshrined to them. Once we start letting someone else regulate and interpret what are rights “actually mean” it is over. “Common Sense” is a subjective rhetorical tool used to promote a the conclusion of an argument.

          1. oliverks

            Yes, people seem to miss that the second amendment has limitations. Owning anti aircraft weapons, or fully functional tanks is just not allowed (in the US).

            For all the original fathers people, I like to joke you can have any unmodified gun you like from 1790.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              What if someone responds to this joke with a joke of their own, namely that if you are a First Ammendment Free Speecher, you can have any unmodified quill pen you like from 1790. Would you get the joke?

              1. oliverks

                The printing press had been invented by 1790, so restricting people to quill pens would go beyond what the original fathers would have intended. Likewise the first amendment also covers speech and assembly (which has been severely restricted).

                If you wanted to make a good argument, the question of free speech on the internet is a much better question. The founding fathers certainly never considered such a medium.

                So going back to the second amendment for a second

                A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

                Is the first part even relevant anymore? Do we have militias keeping us secure. If Putin’s tanks come rolling through Saskatoon, is it going to be our militias that repel him, or will it be the US military? Haven’t the Militias really been replaced by the National Guards?

                The bottom line is the 2nd amendment made some sense in 1790, not so much anymore. It has been restricted in the past, and it may become very much more restricted if these kids start voting. I suggest people start having a rational discussion about it.

        1. Lord Koos

          School shootings are rare?

          Hardly –

    5. Elizabeth Burton

      Isn’t the real question why it is this total loser keeps getting media attention? What, exactly, qualifies him to be commenting on anything at this point? So, why are the MSM running to see what he’s saying? And yes, I do know why, actually, but it still needs to be asked. And asked. And asked.

    6. Phil in KC

      And may we assume that the gentleman himself has taken CPR classes? Or is his advice just for the others?

      1. Procopius

        Well, as I interpret his words, he’s saying he doesn’t have a problem with school shootings, so the organizers of the protests(s) should stop bothering him and solve the problem by themselves. While I believe everybody should know basic first aid and CPR (no, I never learned CPR in the Army) I don’t know how he thinks that is a more useful occupation than protesting against the NRA. Kind of like the disconnect I feel with Tucker Carlson telling his viewers that they will somehow be punished for crimes other people commit.

  2. Bill Smith

    “China needs more water. So it’s building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain”

    Seems like climate change in a ‘can’. What are the side effects? How wise is this?

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I noticed Remington had filed when I was selecting what to include in today’s links and forgot to include a link– many thanks!

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Jeri-Lynn, the MoA link above is incorrect, it links to an American Conservative article.

    2. Mel

      The hunting magazine came out early last week. Eight column inches on Remington, minus a two-inch photo. They gave as good news that business doesn’t abruptly cease over a Chapter 11. The trouble was explained “Remington’s bankruptcy is in the wake of a tough year for the firearms industry in which sales slipped substantially across the industry.”
      Nothing about Cerberus at all. People are not going to understand until we can get to them to tell them.

  3. Steve H.

    Switzerland: buried the lede: “mandatory military service”

    20% exemption rate, just got to pay.

    1. a different chris

      There is nothing like forcing somebody to do something in order to make them hate it and everything to do with it. Made me think some more.

      So here was my base position:
      1) No AR-15 “type” weapons outside of a gun-range. You can “own” them, but they stay there.
      Hey, you can’t bring your airplane home so shut up.
      (“type” – define a hard line for muzzle speed and repeatability – I would like you to have to recock and reaim after every shot, personally but willing to compromise slightly. And like I said, you can have anything as long as it never leaves the gun club).
      2) No ownership of any gun before you turn 21
      3) You can go to said gun range and shoot anything at any age (accompanied by an adult, of course). And it will be cheap via gummint subsidy! (Socialism!)

      Now, I think I would like to update #3 to be “Under 18’s have to go to a gun range regularly and meet certain near impossible standards and be yelled at constantly by a constipated old man when you don’t. Tears are expected”.

      1. Mel

        Yelling at heavily armed hotheads until they cry? Are you crazy? I’d rather supervise an Uber self-drive. When are people going to ditch this punishment compulsion?

        1. a different chris

          I’m not 100% serious with these posts, since nobody cares what I think anyway. But: Have you ever seen a little middle-aged football coach chew out a 6’8″ monster to the point that said monster was, yes, ready to cry?

          A situation easy to duplicate at a rifle range, where the guy chewing you out *does* know how to use a weapon.

          PS: got a grin out of the “Uber supervsion” joke…

        2. Procopius

          Punishment? When I was in the Army we did not think keeping our weapons in the gun room was punishment.

      2. cgregor

        Make gun ownership mandatory for the first purchaser: If it passes from his/her possession for any reason whatsoever, the purchaser will be held fully responsible for any crime in which it was used. This will make every first purchaser an ardent gun control advocate and cause many people to reconsider their decision to buy a weapon that they might lose or sell/pawn/lend/give away, only to face a lifetime of hazard. NRA will adopt the slogan, “You can have my gun when you unglue it from my cold, dead hands.”

      3. The Rev Kev

        Not really keen on that 3) point at all. Not after that 9-year old girl accidentally killed Charlie Vacca, a 39-year old range instructor, when he was instructing her in using an Uzi – a goddamn Uzi! – back in 2014. No wonder she couldn’t deal with the unexpected recoil.
        I have to admit a feeling of unease when watching things such as the Big Sandy machine gun shoot in Arizona ( and things like machine-gun tourism which is actually a thing. They even have artillery pieces at Big Sandy so maybe there should be some limits here.

    2. BenX

      I listened to a right wingnut last week state with confidence that Switzerland has twice as many guns per capita than the US. His counterpart agreed, as they both went on a tirade on anti-gun legislation.

      Switzerland has one quarter of the guns per capita than the US. The US has more than one gun for every man, woman, child, and unborn fetus.

      The article should begin with – one main reason why there are so few gun deaths in Switzerland is that they have far fewer guns than the US.

      1. Jean

        Bad statistical argument. If you are a drunk driver, you are just as dangerous if you own one car or twenty. You can only drive one car at a time.

    3. Chris

      Aah, so Switzerland has a “well regulated militia”?

      You USians might think about trying that. I’m sure the NRA types would be keen to turn out one Saturday a month to stand in line and be shouted at. /s

      1. Phil in KC

        Also of note re Swiss military conscription: those deemed unfit for service, unless exempted by disability, pay an additional 3 percent income tax until the age of 30. See comments below concerning U.S. obesity rates.

  4. Quanka

    Re: Obesity Article. Demonstrates the terrible state of play of reporting from the food angle. Article casually refers to obesity caused by diets “high in sugars and fats” — not all fats and sugars are the same. Fats and Sugars are not equal when it comes to causation of weight gain.

    Maybe the worst part is how the article mentions NAFTA and the Corporate AG/Food companies fighting further disclosure. We don’t need warning labels on food like we have on cigarettes. We need to get fake food out of the industry, period. The real solution is to not allow things like fructose, dextrose, hydrogenated oils, etc. to become part of food in the first place (It would take me a thousand comment threads to list every culprit).

    Actually – the worst part of the article is how they just stick a couple faceless obese people on the stock photo – which encourages Americans to just blame fat people rather than slick marketing and the prevalence of fake food. Don’t get me started on food deserts – more than 1/2 Americans don’t really have a choice on what to eat, they only have this fake crap available to buy in the first place.

    But hey, the person who owns the Miami Herald probably has a stake in the food industry, so its not like we can expect equitable reporting.

    1. JohnM

      It’s not just a problem with reporting, it remains a national misconception that fat should be restricted for weight control. The fat phobia continues notwithstanding modification of the USDA dietary guidelines in 2015 to remove an upper limit on fat consumption. Look for the limit on saturated fat to be removed in 2020.

      1. Quanka

        Its insane, completely agree. I don’t think many Americans realize how much of their caloric intake comes from corn, wheat and soy. Mind you, all three of these items are incredible food products when prepared using natural methods. Its unfortunate the ways in which these items are butchered and destroyed to serve interests of modern food manufacturers.

        As an aside – leaving aside the vegan question, our animals (cattle, pigs, chickens) are being fed these same products, so the amount of this stuff going into American guts is even higher, although difficult to factor precisely. Again, destroying something that is naturally amazing … a cow that can turn grass, unedible to humans, into something with high nutrient density.

        1. Edward E

          What does a zombie vegetarian eat? Grrraaaaiiiiiinnnnns my jokes aren’t very popular around here but can you imagine if Americans had to switch from pounds to kilograms overnight? There’d sure be mass confusion.
          Sometimes I have a problem of medicating with food while worrying about stuff way above my pay grade. Then go on a fast, then my weight see saws like the weather.

        2. Jean

          And if you are an uncaring rancher or farmer, the milk or meat they produce will be loaded with antibiotics, hormones, pesticide and weedkiller residues plus GMO derivatives to the feed chain and deleterious effects on the environment.

          Of course if you produce a high quality pastured reputably certified organic* milk with none of the above, we will be happy to buy your products.

          *Quality Assurance International is a fraud, U.S.D.A. organic is mediocre, but better than nothing. California Certified Organic Farmer or Oregon Tilth is high quality and trustworthy.

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          Something that never seems to be mentioned whenever the subject of soy comes up is that for some woman, it can be a hormone disruptor when ingested in sufficient quantities. Soy has been recommended for as long as I’ve been interested as a way to offset some of the symptoms of menopause, because it’s considered an estrogen precursor in natural remedy circles. Something, I’ll add, that I can speak to personally and have had similar feedback from other women.

          Can it really be questioned that this country’s obsession with what it eats is the result of huge marketing campaigns by Big Food? Then the obsessed started their own mega-campaign, with the result that too many people are spending way too much time worrying about something a whole lot of other people would be glad to just have.

    1. Jean

      Watch the Youtube video “Don’t Talk to The Police” by Richard Duane, Regents University.
      Show it to your kids as well.

  5. David May

    Guns in Switzerland

    This article gives more details:
    Ammo for militia weapons is stored by the military; not at home. There are also very tight permit and storage regulations. In short, Switzerland is a communist hellhole when it comes to gun regulation.

  6. Pogonip

    Over here across the pond, Wendy’s fish sandwiches, which were pretty good 20 years or so ago, now have so much sugar added to the fish that they are inedible.

    Why? Sugar’s an extra ingredient. They have to pay for it. So why use it where it’s not needed? Low fat has always equaled high sugar, but a deep-fried piece of fish is hardly low-fat. So why do they do it?

    1. John

      Crispy, crunchy, breaded, trained, addictive. Who wants a soggy, limp piece of baked fish? Salt, sugar, grease…the complimentary components of thevAmerican diet. Tickle the reptilian brain stem, kill the body. Neo liberal, predatory capitalistic logic! Any questions?

    2. anonymous

      Probably the sugar is added to achieve the “bliss point” for the majority of people. The food industry employs scientists to find the ideal balance of fat, sugar and salt to appeal to most consumers, as well as to determine texture, mouth feel, ease of swallowng, etc. Dr. David Kessler (former head of the FDA) wrote a book about “hyper-palatability” of foods designed to tap into the brain’s reward system and how this can lead to overeating. More recently, NYT reporter Michael Moss wrote the book “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” Here are a few links, if you’d like to read more: (How the Food Makers Captured Our Brains) (David Kessler: Fat, Salt and Sugar Alter Brain Chemistry, Make Us Eat Junk Food) (transcript of interview with David Kessler, as well as Gail Civille, who, as president of Sensory Spectrum, studied what characteristics make people crave food

    3. Mel

      Weight per dollar, subsidized sugar is the cheapest thing that can be put into food except water. It’s cheaper than fish.

    4. polecat

      “So why do they do it?”
      Because the supposed seafood protein between the bun is probably comprised of some ‘pseudo’ fishlike concoction. Sugar is just icing on the, er .. fishcake !
      That’s fish .. spelled with a ‘ph’, of course .. kinda like crab with a ‘k’ .

      1. Pogonip

        No, it’s real fish, albeit fish that seems to have been injected with sugar water.

        Fried fish isn’t soggy, it’s crispy. Wendy’s fish is kind of squishy, which is what makes me think they used a sugar-water solution. I’m sure the fish did pass the focus groups, though I can’t imagine how. Fish and sugar do not go together. They use much less sugar in their chicken strips, but of course the BBQ sauce is mostly corn syrup. I live in the U. S. myself, but I’m supposed to minimize my sugar intake (not easy here), so maybe I’m just less numbed to the taste of corn syrup than the focus-group members were. Although even before I was put on the special diet, I had noticed many years ago that Prego and Ragu spaghetti sauces were mostly sugar. I don’t like sugar on my spaghetti, either.

        I have Salt, Sugar, Fat in the to-read stack. I wonder if any scientists have found that feeding rats pounds of sugar makes them more docile…

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Maybe they add it to the breading mixture to increase carmelization rate for a higher interior temperature and quicker cooking as well as crispness.

          1. Pogonip

            I bet you are right. A sugar solution is sprayed on french fries for the same reason. I’m 58 and mine is probably the last generation that can remember real french fries: they are white, with the occasional brown crusty spot, and taste like oil and potatoes, not sugar. You can still make them yourself, and if you don’t want the mess of deep-frying, the oven version tastes just as good.

            While we’re on the subject, the Campbell’s Healthy Request canned soups are the old recipes the company used before they started sugaring everything to death, so if you liked the old version, that’s how you get it. If they’re not sold out, that is, which they usually are.

        2. polecat

          I put up, as in canning, our own pasta every summer .. tomatoes, bell peppers & fresno chilies, garlic, spices, olive oil, and a little red wine .. very little to no sugar … usually about 50 pints, enough until the next summer’s processing. Canning is a great way to have nutritious foods preserved, and on hand when needed. It IS crucial to follow viable recipes, canning procedures, and hygiene.

        3. Lord Koos

          The fish might be “squishy” because it’s possibly fish meal (ground up pollock, etc) formed into a fish stick or fillet shape. Kind of like the fake crab in most California rolls.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    Pedant alert!

    RE: The article on misusing the word ‘curate’

    The author notes that –

    Book lovers ought to be word lovers too, and this usage felt all wrong, its intrusion into this happy scene a microbetrayal.

    – and yet in the first sentence we have this!

    I last encountered the “c” word on a visit to a recently opened independent bookstore, an immensely agreeable place where a lover of books could wile away many delightful hours.

    Wile? Were the patrons absconding with the literature? Was there a coyote there being chased by a roadrunner?

    The reason the word ‘wile’ is used instead of the correct ‘while’ is because evidently we’ve given up trying to use the word properly:

    [wile] is now a conventionalized misspelling, and only the most persnickety readers will think it wrong.

    While some might call it persnickety, I prefer fastidious. And on that note I will now finish reading the article which Jerri-Lynn was kind enough to select for us. :P

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Just as long as you don’t accuse me of curating it– I don’t do curation!

          1. ambrit

            Somewhere, somewhen, Daniel Webster is laughing. Who ever thought that the “jury” would still be out? Those wily devils. (No Curates need apply.)

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Agreed. The worst abuse is when I occasionally read that some indie rock figure “curated” a music festival. I just want to spit.

        1. a different chris

          Due to the
          1) indie rock figure
          2) “curating”
          3) indie rock musical

          …or all three?

    2. Synoia

      Verb phrases
      wile away, to spend or pass (time), especially in a leisurely or pleasurable fashion:
      to wile away the long winter nights.

      I miss your point. It appears a valid construction to express use of time.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        From the link in my comment –

        The phrase meaning to pass time idly is while away. It is older and more logical than wile away. But because the second phrase occurs so frequently, it is now included in many dictionaries and is rarely considered incorrect. would appear to be one of the newer dictionary resources that has given up trying to promote the proper usage.

        This is one of the ways language changes over time – people misspell things or create new usages and over time it becomes accepted. Doesn’t mean we have to take it lying down. Or is it laying? ;)

        1. HotFlash

          “The dictionary exists to record the usages of cultured persons, such as myself.” Supposedly said by the vicar to a young lady who ventured to observe that his pronunciation did not accord with the dictionary. H/T Robertson Davies.

  8. RenoDino

    Obama ponders creating ‘a million young Barack Obamas’

    While The Big O is still “pondering,” I’m into year five of my ten-year plan to create 1 million, young, old, straight, gay, and transgender RenoDinos. By my last count, I have 223,453 RenoDinos in circulation. Don’t look, but one may be sitting across from you on the subway right now.

    It’s pretty much axiomatic in the replicant community that 1 million knockoffs are critical mass. It’s the difference between an occasional sighting and an infestation. The Big O has always been a quick study so it’s not surprising that he plucked this number out of the air.

    Getting one’s doppelgangers to adhere to their primary directive has always been the big sticking point. The debate centers on detailed scripts or loose admonitions. My guess The Big O will go with the latter, something like “Be Cool.”

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      After all the controversy and trouble establishing the provenance of the original, is the effort of replacating BMO 1 million times really worth it? In any case, I hope the RenoDino project faces milder headwinds.

        1. Craig H.

          In Who Rules America? G. William Domhoff has a chapter on how ambitious politicians ally themselves with rich donors, centering on the case of Obama. His real breakthrough was in 2004 when he decided to run for the United States Senate and needed millions. One of his early backers was an executive who worked for the Pritzkers.

          “… vice president of Pritzker Realty arranged for Obama and his wife to spend two days with Penny Pritzker and her husband, an eye surgeon, at the Pritzkers’ weekend home 45 minutes east of Chicago. Although Pritzker told one of Obama’s biographers that she and her husband had met the Obamas previously, the visit was in many ways an audition, during which she asked the candidate many questions about his general philosophy and campaign plans.” (p.152)

          At the time Pritzker was #135 on the Forbes rich list, so it may be safe to assume there is a limit far smaller than a million for how many Obamas can fit through this pipe.

        2. Jean

          Count up how many adventurous white anthropology students and African traveling scholars there are to arrive at your sum.

    2. a different chris

      >Getting one’s doppelgangers to adhere to their primary directive has always been the big sticking point.

      Any Calvin fans here? (not John Calvin, you over-educated types!!)

  9. Loneprotester

    Not a scientist but I’m gonna call BS on the claims of Chinese scientists that creating a network of alpine smokestacks aimed at cloud seeding in the Tibetan Plateau will be clean and environmentally friendly. What solid fuel will these furnaces be burning? How often will they be refilled? What is this going to do to China’s Paris promises? What is it going to do to air quality in Asia? Where is this extra water coming from? India’s snowmelt? Snowpack and glaciers?

    A whole slew of questions here, not least of which is the extent to which allegations that not only China but Russia and the US have explored the potential for weaponizing natural disasters (which is casually slipped in by the writer). Whew. A lot of disaster movie potential in one piece!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its not BS at all, the Chinese have been working on cloud seeding for decades, they used it during the Beijing Olympics and they are doing lots of research into the impacts of climate change in the Himalaya – they have to, a huge percentage of Chinas fresh water originates in that region (the same for India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc).

      The chambers are not likely to use a huge amount of fuel for the simple reason that it would be far too expensive to distribute and stock up so many chambers in remote areas – they would just create sufficient heat for dispersal. Its actually probably quite an efficient system if it works as claimed. If – and its a big if – the system delivers the extra precipitation that is claimed, then it would be well worth it in terms of reducing overall environmental damage through the river systems. Quite literally billions of people depend on water from the Himalaya and its becoming drier up there year by year. Sustainable projects like the Ladakh Ice Stupas are probably the best alternative, but even they won’t work if there is no rain.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        It’s also well worth examining what the Chinese are doing to control the rivers that originate from or flow through the Tibetan plateau. For more on this topic, see my friend Michael Buckley’s excellent site, Meltdown in Tibet, or buy his book (same title).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I’m afraid the Chinese are putting facts on the ground while all the other countries in the region are just starting to think through the implications. If there is a war in that region it will most likely be over Himalayan fresh water.

          The Chinese regularly like to demonstrate this to neighbouring countries. About 10 years ago when I was in Ladakh there were mysterious floods in the region that washed away many bridges and roads. It was rumoured that the Chinese had released a lot of water just to demonstrate their control over the headwaters of so many crucial rivers.

          The Ladakhi people are about the only ones taking a long term sustainable approach – they have always been exceptional water engineers in miniature (the tiny canals that criss-cross the area, supplying each village with running water are amazing constructions). The Bhutanese too take a sensible approach, using run of the river schemes to harness a lot of power without doing too much damage. Everyone else is taking the brute force approach, and the Chinese have more brute force than anyone else.

      2. Loneprotester

        Interesting, thanks for the information. I didn’t mean to imply that there were technical impediments to the project, but that it seems unlikely to be without adverse impacts. The law of unintended (or sometimes intended but hidden) consequences often rules in cases like this.

  10. third time lucky

    Saudi Puff …

    Walmart in Canada carries hagiography of new king in magazine / book section. Being paid to carry it is my best guess.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “How McDonald’s uses interior design tricks to keep customers wanting more”

    Last night there was an article on the sheer number of TV sets in airports adding to the stress and I have read elsewhere that in America you cannot go to a restaurant, doctor or dentist without having TVs blast at you constantly and not just one, but banks of them in some places.
    Not living there, I have no idea how true this is but after reading that MacDonalds article I was wondering if they crammed TVs into their stores or kept them out.

    1. a different chris

      In America, the so-called “sports bars” have becoe masters of the bleating TV atmosphere. Hate them. They are proud to have a small TV at every table, large TVs scattered everywhere, and, yes, even an eye-level one at your urinal.

    2. Expat2uruguay

      It is true that lots of doctor waiting rooms and bars have TVs in California. I’ve never seen a McDonald’s or other fast food restaurant with a TV however.
      And all of these TVs are damned annoying. Imagine going out to dinner with a friend then spends their time watching TV. What’s a person to do? Fortunately we have cell phones!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Even at my local Honda dealer.

        On the other hand, the Toyota dealer here has free web-connected computers while you wait.

        1. Carolinian

          Then there are the TVs in gas pumps playing ads while you pump. At one point a local bank was showing Fox News on the drive thru screen while one waited. I don’t bank there any more.

          And in my area of the US most McDonald’s have always had TVs but this trend may be fading.

          1. Carolinian

            Just to add the that Links article itself says it all about why some of us who occasionally stop at McDonald’s think the chain has lost it–whatever the stock price may say. The jumpy video menus are intensely irritating and the emphasis on fancy new (and therefore more expensive) menu items means that the wait for your food at busy times can be epic. The chain needs to spend a lot less money on consultants and a lot more on kitchen staff.

            Those who have seen the movie The Founder know that the intentions of the McDonald’s pioneers (not Ray Kroc) revolved around simple, fast and efficient. Now some stores give you a number after ordering so you can sit down during the long wait for your food (a worker brings it). You might as well go to a regular sit down restaurant where the food is better and you aren’t being manipulated in somebody’s Skinner Box.

          2. HotFlash

            Saw those briefly at an Esso station here in Toronto, many years ago. I boycotted that station, but when I went in *long time* later, viola! No TVs! So I stayed to get gas. Asked the counter guy, he mumbled, “They got broken a lot.” Yes. :)

        2. a different chris

          Honda makes great cars but the people that buy and sell them are… ugh. Not all of you, I -literally- hasten to add!!!

      2. Harold

        I see them with TV’s — in New Jersey, it seems to be standard to have them. They are not loud but are annoying.

      3. ambrit

        Dear Expat;
        You now live in the promised land, be thankful. We here in the American Deep South have television sets everywhere, especially in ‘fast’ food outlets. I can see CNN in my local Burger King, MSNBC in a local mini-chain called Wards’, yes, ESPN 1 and 2 in two local “Sports Bars,” Nickelodeon and Toon at a local Chuck e Cheese knock off place, the Food Network at a local pharmacy (!), and, once, down in Biloxi, a Vietnamese satellite channel in a seafood grocery combination owned and run by either a large extended Vietnamese family or an ‘undercover’ VC company level infiltration cadre.
        Being a geezer from the Plateau, I find it difficult to concentrate around these distraction units. As someone else mentioned, perhaps the underlying purpose of this barrage of ephemera is to desensitize the aminals so they will peacefully mill around in their “cages.”

      4. Big River Bandido

        As I commented recently in Links (I think), TV-B-Gone™ does not work in most large airports, or on any system in which the physical box is just a monitor.

        But in spaces like the ones you’re describing, I highly recommend it. I have used it discreetly on many peaceful occasions, including some hilarious success at the doctor’s office. The device can be ordered directly from the manufacturer:

        1. HotFlash

          Whilst waiting for a friend I had driven to an MRI appt, I was assaulted by one of those things — I mean, it was only me and the receptionist in the whole room, so I unplugged the sucker. Hmm, I mean the TV, not the receptionist. When she noticed it was not blasting Da Approved Nooz, she ran out in a panic to see what was wrong. She plugged it back in, I informed her I would not be in the same room with that drivel and decamped to the hall. She seemed relieved — clearly, it was worse to Tunr Of TV than to annoy client. I wonder who pays for those screens, and why they are always on CityPulse (CNN in the US). IOW, why is a hospital selling my eyeballs? And who are they selling them to? I ask every time now, they either cliam to not know or they are uncomfortable, or both. HotFlash rule — if TV, no HotFlash.

          1. Kokuanani

            Any time I encounter a tv with Fox blasting [doctor’s office, Hampton Inn’s breakfast room, Hertz waiting room], I request that the channel be changed. Won’t work in airports, but I’ve had wide success in these other locations.

      5. Big River Bandido

        In the East, you can watch teevee just about anywhere. In fact, you’re forced to watch it in:

        bus stations
        subway stations
        taxis (and some taxis even have teevees on the top of them)
        elevators (!)
        “convenience” stores

        In New York City they’re even installing them on sidewalks.

        1. HotFlash

          I got into a taxi w/a TV showing some travel promo s**t (no sound), demanded the driver to stop and let me out, no paying. He was upset and apologetic, he was just a driver, not an owner, had no control and said he hated it, too. Compromise: bag over screen. All happy! I assume he took it off at the end of his shift.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some people can’t stand the second hand smoke from tobacco (or marijuana) and some can’t do without smoking on the other hand

      Those TV sets are there to sedate, to numb down their viewers, dealing with the stress of flying (or of having a tooth extracted). They watch because their brains direct their attention to them.

      I see that as similar to smoking weed or tobacco.

      Medicinal TV watching (‘it eases my pain’) should not be illegal.

      1. HotFlash

        Well, if you can keep it to yourself, but — iff only! By your reasoning, my smashing TV’s in public spaces should not be illegal.

    4. Craig H.

      The only restaurant I have ever been into with television was of the “Sports Bar & Grill” variety like Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters &c. They do big business during football and basketball games.

      Classic rock oldies on the audio is popular in grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and shopping malls. It isn’t annoying except when you get annoyed that a band you paid money to watch live or buy their album is now mood muzak and selling their product for so little they must really be hurting. I swear I heard Fleetwood Mac in Wal Mart the other day but I try and close my ears to it and do my business. Don’t want to accidentally get the wrong brand of bath salts into my shopping cart because I am distracted by free musical genius on display.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have long observed that modern people have this. irrational really, fear of silence.

        Even jogging along the beach or around the neighborhood’s park requires earphones.

        1. nippersmom

          i know a few people who wear earphones as a sound blocking device, specifically because they do want silence. Apparently they are especially effective at discouraging conversation with fellow riders on mass transit.

      2. polecat

        It’s funny how you never, ever, hear raging punk music for example .. or say, gangsta rap, whilst traipsing down the supermarket aisle.

        1. Phil in KC

          Nor country-western or bluegrass, nor jazz (with some small exceptions). Some decades ago, an upscale shopping district in the midwest had problems with adolescents and teens congregating on the sidewalks and intimidating the ritzy patrons. Solution? The merchant’s association installed loudspeakers and blasted C-W and classical music (think Bach and Mozart) at the youngsters. They fled the scene immediately!

      3. Lord Koos

        The music industry is desperate for royalty revenue these days, which is why you now hear the original versions of the songs in the supermarket rather than the muzak versions. They are so desperate in fact, that ASCAP, one of the organizations that collects royalties for songwriters and music publishers, has now begun to shake down farmer’s markets and small taverns for annual fees, threatening them with legal repercussions, etc. It has definitely chilled the already moribund local live music scene around here.

  12. Edward E

    It just kind of felt like an historic day, China’s crude-oil futures closed up +3% on its first day. FT noted Russia began selling oil in CNY in early 2015. Hmm, wondering if that’s what all the excitement was/is about?

    Here’s the latest episode of Faulty Powers in case you missed it. Stormy Daniels interview with 60 Minutes’ Anderson Cooper discusses Daniels’ alleged affair with Donald Trump – full interview transcript

    1. Tim

      Agreed. I was shocked to catch the one news article on it, and that was it, haven’t seen any other coverage.

      The is a huge thing that has been coming for a long time. The Petrodollar, has been a cornerstone of global trade for what half a century, since Bretton Woods?

      It’s a major first step away from the US having the reserve currency of the world.

      I am not smart enough to know the impact on China’s treasury buying disposition. Do they need them less now?

      1. Edward E

        China signalled to stop buying US Treasuries, if they do and don’t get goaded into a fight the 8th wonder of the world (compounding math) will do the rest.
        From what I’ve seen CNY will not quickly supplant US Dollar. What’s worrisome is the daunting US fiscal situation ($300B in US Treasury auctions this week) requires no USD share loss ever. LIBOR will rise, (see recent Libor-OIS spread increase) something eventually breaks, then the Fed will have to cover US deficits, print and hand to the govt.

        Already on Monday, Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec, inked a deal with a western oil major to buy Middle East crude priced against the newly-launched Shanghai crude futures contract.

        This helps cement the exchange’s viability and challenges the petro-dollar system, in which oil deals are executed in dollars. This would decrease demand for the greenback and boost U.S. inflation.

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Why the Outrage? London Review of Books

    The fact that most tech giants made – and in Uber’s case still make – vast losses for the first few years of their existence is integral to this strategy. People must be lured into using a service and then kept using it by whatever means necessary; only later is this power converted into revenue.
    Its [data] potential value and use emerges after one has collected it, not before.

    One thing missing from, what must be millions of words written on all this, is any discussion of what proactively protecting your own privacy would look like. I’d say that a warning not to get sucked in by genetic data collection schemes like twenty-three and me, “digital personal ‘assistants’ ” like alexa, other “smart” IoT devices or amazon in general was understated, if it were ever mentioned at all.

    I’d quote the sage advice of b. obama to “look forward not back” if the guy wasn’t such a complete creep, so instead I’ll quote Barney Fife–“Nip it. Nip it in the bud.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To jump from one quantum state to another, you need energy.

      Those early losses are energy spent to get to the next state.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yes, in a sense, we can all be like Tathagata, who is beyond all coming and going (he has ‘thus come’ or ‘thus gone.’)

          In the meantime, we need Uber, according to their commercial.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I read this article as more a less a big “Move along here, nothing to see. Mistakes were made but it will all be OK”. Could have been written by the Facebook publicity department by the tone of it.

  14. JohnM

    Several years ago we were cleaning up the garden by yanking out plants and throwing them over the fence where they were eagerly gobbled up by our cows. I pulled up a jalapeno pepper plant and paused to watch if the cow reacted at all to the remaining peppers on the plant. It was happily munching away and then suddenly coughed hard and a cloud of steam, which looked very similar to that ‘smoking elephant’ shot out of it’s mouth. True story.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The article notes that the charcoal may have some medicinal value to the elephant.

      It reminded my of my old cat who near the end of his life when he was suffering from a bunch of illnesses started to lick the ashes from my Weber grill. My guess at the time was the he was potassium deficient and somehow knew he could get some from the ash.

      Maybe something similar going on with the elephant?

      1. Big River Bandido

        More than a few old farmers told me that it’s good to feed a horse a plug of tobacco once in awhile.

      2. HotFlash

        Oh, Fe Leuk, most likely. My dear Vivian Kitty (of happy memory) licked concrete and bricks near her end, as she need calcium (IIRC).

    2. John

      I was camping at a large public camp site at Rocky Mountain National when in the late afternoon a large herd of elk came through with great purpose and started eating the charcoal from the fire pits. They were at it for an hour or so and then moved on. It looked to me like totally routine behavior. They also had no fear of the campers in the camp site. The coals were not hot and there was no smoke.

    3. Oregoncharles

      The article says the elephant is blowing ash off the charcoal before self-medicating with it.

      Chiles are sneaky little devils.

  15. DJG

    Well, as mentioned a while back, the G side of the family is mainly Lithuanian (and definitely not pure). From the shores of tiny Lake Vištytis to America, quite a story–fleeing the Russian empire for opportunity amid tales of book smuggling, leaving behind a border town that now has one-eighth the population it did a hundred years or so ago after serial invasions and devastation and destruction of the small-town synagogue along with dispersal of most of the Catholic Lithuanians.

    The article about Lithuanians being obsessed with bees is true. Further, that lingering paganism means that Lithuanians are downright happy-go-lucky compared to their rather lugubrious Slavic neighbors and the free-market-addled Latvians. [Dangerous assumptions: Surely, I jest.]

    As to bees: The Lithuanians also claim that their bees are nicer than everyone else’s bees, which is either a cause or result of the good honey and beeswax:

    And a museum of bees. What’s not to like?

    So you can consider the article to be a textual “antidote of the day,” if you’d like some diversion from the endless scandals. So in my best primordial peasant-y sanskritish Lithuanian, “laba diena” to all. [And, Eclair, where were your Lithuanian peeps from?]

    1. Eclair

      I read the Lithuanian bee article, DJG. Maybe we need to bring back the ‘bee goddess,’ or at least, put out some food offerings for her. She’s probably angry at our lack of care for her children.

      I think I may have recently tracked down the birth town of my grandmother, but need to check it out: Prusgale, Panevezys, Panevezio. Thanks to the LDS volunteers at the Family Research Center in Salt Lake City, I found the immigration record of a young man who was listed as a ‘border’ with my grandparents in the 1910 census. He had the same last name as my grandmother. Fortunately, he emigrated just after the law changed to require that each immigrant list their town of birth, their closest relative there, and their destination in the US, as well the name and relationship of a person living at their US destination. He had listed my grandfather as his ‘uncle.’ And, the name of his mother living in Panevezys. Bingo! Next step is to write to the church there to see if they still have records from the 1880’s and 1890’s.

      1. polecat

        I am neither Lithuanian, nor of Slavic decent. My bees however, must be happy, as they (2 colonies) have survived the winter … a first for the polecat suburban homestead, in the 7 or so years we’ve been keeping bees … or should I say, they keeping us ! I took off absolutely NO honey last fall, leaving what they capped and stored .. to see them through the somber months.

        1. a different chris

          Awesome. I sometimes, in quiet moments, try to bring up beekeeping with the SO. But that just seems to make the next moment very loud, followed by a very very very quiet one. Ah well.

          1. DJG

            a different chris: Promise a trip to the Museum of Beekeeping in Lithuania. Works like a charm.

          2. polecat

            The only times that I get stung, are when I’m in a hurry, which they pick up on, or if I accidentally squeeze one ! ‘:o …. and sometimes, you just gotta drop what your doing …. and pick a more congenial time to inspect a hive …. but generally, they’re flying to and fro, in our backyard,and niether I, nor them, are bothered.

        1. HotFlash

          Yeah, seconded, the LDS are another info vaccuum, IMO. I’d steer clear of their ‘services’, although, of course, YMMV. But, there is here (Wikipedia), also , then there is here ( and here, (LDS official, so far as I can tell) to give you more info.

          1. Eclair

            Hot Flash, last year I read David Ebershoff’s “The 19th Wife.” Go Patriarchy!

            Pretty sure that posthumous baptism won’t bother my whiskey-drinking Irish ancestors; or the Lithuanian ones who fled the Cossacks or, further back, worshipped the Bee Goddess.

            Enjoy your pungent comments, BTW.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Incompetence’ laws.

    Vague responses about candidates, like, “I just think he’s good,” are insufficient, according to the stricter standard. But Americans often vote for candidates for vague reasons, such as liking someone’s hair or thinking the candidate would be nice to have a beer with, said Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. People with disabilities shouldn’t have a tougher standard, he said.

    The reason for wanting to vote for someone is sometimes as simple as, “She made me happy,” which was why Daniel Holm, a Nebraska man with Down syndrome, said he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    It’s a reminder to ‘vote and let vote,’ and not call others ‘low information,’ or ‘stupid.’

    We’re all conditioned to want to be smart (from the first grade on, and for some, even earlier, under tremendous parental pressure), to want to appear to be smart (and intelligent and educated), and in obsessing too much about that, we might forget that the world is big enough for all kinds of people…hopefully it is full of people who haven’t darkened theirs hearts too much (because we are all good-hearted originally).

    And so when people write Trump is not smart enough to do this or that, I disagree, I think he’s smart, or pretty smart, but being smart in my book matters little. So, that is not compliment from me, even though people might think it is.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China needs more water. So it’s building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain SCMP

    I remember a conversation years and years ago, with an engineer, and he talked about diverting water from Siberia to China.

    That was before Global Warming, thus implying paying the Russians for the water, but with ice melting and flooding, maybe it’d be the Russians paying.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      He was probably thinking of the Northern River Reversal Project, an old Soviet mega engineering dream. It still rears its ugly head on occasion. The original plan actually called for the use of 250 underground nuclear detonations in order to help construct the main channel.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      My eyes crossed trying to make sense of all the figures in your link. What does it all mean? The conclusion “the entirety of increase in US oil production that has resulted from a dozen years fracking was not for the benefit of US consumers, but rather wholly and exclusively for the benefit of US oil companies” is not surprising. But I have no idea what to make of the rest of the information. What should I be looking for in this data and why?

      A few disturbing thoughts hit me as I read the data. I wondered how well barrels measure petroleum [and of course how true and accurate the numbers are]. I thought petroleum varied considerably in its constituent parts which in turn vary in their values. Using barrels to measure oil seems much like using barrels to measure diamonds. The barrels measure also seems ideal for hiding wealth transfers across Corporate entities and taxing entities. And although they do not control the demand for petroleum distillates the oil cartels seem very well situated to control supply, and hide some of that control in what kind of barrels of ‘oil’ they refine.

      1. rjs

        the data comes from the EIA, and they get reports from the oil companies and the ports…it’s as accurate as any other government data we often cite, such as employment, and is subject to revision when more data becomes available (obviously, last week’s figures had to be extrapolated from a small sampling)

        you’re also right in noting that each barrel of oil or oil products is different, and in general refined products are less dense than crude, but there’s no data differentiating those differences for our current production and exports, and besides it wasn’t my intention to account for every ounce, but to just show the general situation, ie, that our exports have risen more in the past dozen years than our oil production has…

        there are a lot of other variables that could be incorporated into such an analysis, but not in the one afternoon i give myself to pull each of these weekly summaries together..

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry! I had and have no intention of faulting your data or analysis. I know little to nothing about petroleum or the petroleum industry. I do not understand the workings of petroleum data or the petroleum industry. I wondered and wonder what you are looking for and finding in this data. My statement of finding little surprise about who benefited from fracking was an expression of my low regard for the petroleum industry and not a statement about your data or analysis. Finding clear evidence in the data for this conclusion about fracking is remarkable.

          As for my observations regarding the data I am observing and wondering at how the petroleum industry — helped by those reporting and collecting the data like the EIA — might use that data to cook their books and make nice for public self-congratulations. I do not know much about the ways the Wizards craft their curtains and run their microphones but I have grown suspicious and mistrustful of almost everything Corporations or their U.S. Government report or claim. The petroleum industry lends dark meaning to the term ‘slush-fund’.

          1. rjs

            most of the people who work in the bean counting departments of the various federal agencies are career employees of both parties…they’re professional accountants, statisticians, economists and the like…i doubt that politics can have an influence on the data they produce…there are too many hands working on the production for someone to pull something out without it being noticed..

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              I don’t mistrust the “professional accountants, statisticians, economists and the like”. I distrust the policies, rules, and definitions which they must adhere to. I suspect those originate at levels where “politics can have an influence”.

      2. anonymous

        Thank you, rjs, for this incredible resource. One of thousands of crucial components at the link:

        “U.S. Bureau of Land Management today will auction 345 acres of Ohio’s only national forest, the Wayne National Forest, for oil and gas fracking despite a recently filed protest showing fracking could endanger drinking water and wildlife. The leases would lock in dangerous fracking in the Wayne. Despite known threats from fracking pointed out by the conservation groups’ protest, the BLM planned the auction using only a cursory review that avoids site-specific analysis of potential harm. That means the public will have no information about pollution risks to streams, eradication of endangered species habitat and harm to nearby communities, which is required under the National Environmental Policy Act….”

        separately….remember when war mongering HRC accused anti-fracking protesters of being Kremlin agents (or stooges)

  18. The Rev Kev

    A word about cricket. In the UK and Commonwealth countries, cricket is not a matter of life and death. It is more important than that! This story is being blasted all over the media here in Oz but frankly it does not surprise me. The way that they were caught surprises me in how blatant it was. Sort of like a Big Brother contestant saying: “You were filming that?” Test cricket goes for a coupla days so of course the cameras pick up on all the in field action and thinking that they were going to have no-one notice what they were doing was naive at best.
    The Aussies have got themselves a reputation for hard-nosed cricket, verbal abuse (sledging) and hostile fast bowling – what an earlier generation might have called body line-bowling. Nobody questions you when you are successful but when the wheels come off then there is hell to pay. In Australia, playing an extremely aggressive form of cricket is known as “Aussie mongrel” and I read that the Australian Captain called for more of it before he went to South Africa where all this unfolded. If they had been winning then it may have been glossed over with minimal penalties but now? It is in the culture now.
    As cricket became more professional thirty odd years ago an Australian Cricket Academy was formed and big business really started to influence the game. As an example, famous players were given choice spots in the teams (because that is what sponsors wanted) to the detriment of upcoming youngsters. Thus when these ‘Stars’ retired all at once, it left an inexperienced team to have to totally rebuild the team. Modern cricket is more about being confrontational and little about sportsmanship. For a Aussie team infamous for sledging, it happened in South Africa that some could not take it as well as dish it out. Like a lot of sports, when big business came into it, it became all about winning, no matter what the cost or how it was done. As long as you won. But when you lose – watch out!

    1. ChrisPacific

      It reached its nadir (for me) when they were playing New Zealand, who had conspicuously declined to adopt the same tactics and were just out to have fun, play the game and be good sports. Brad Haddin, the wicketkeeper, ended up whining to the media about how the New Zealanders kept smiling at him and being nice to him, and he felt it wasn’t on. He couldn’t figure out what they meant by it and whether they were trying to mind game him or make him feel guilty or something. He thought it was probably all a big plot to do his head in, but it wasn’t going to work, dammit! Why couldn’t they swear at him and insult his mother, so he knew where he stood? Instead they could smile at him and make sportsmanlike comments, and he was expected to just stand there and take it?

      (I’m paraphrasing a bit, but I think I got the general tone correct).

      I can remember reading that and thinking that their team culture was leading to some very odd ways of thinking.

      1. dcrane

        Even the “nice” Kiwis have had their day at messing with the ball. Admittedly this is from long ago (1990), but it’s funny hearing what they got away with and how the officials seemed to deliberately ignore it, supposedly because they knew that Pakistan had been playing similar tricks.

        The Aussie captain should have at least stepped aside immediately following their confession. His apparently move to try to weather the storm has just made it all worse for Australia.

  19. temporal

    re: Why the Outrage?

    The members of the Orange administration censured Russia for not using their own pre-crime unit to stop a click farm from gathering small amounts of cash via pseudo entities on Facebook. This outrage being non-Americans trying to make money using subjects that only US citizens are allowed to talk about on the internet, because they’re exceptional.

    Yet hiring companies with foreigners on staff or even controlled by foreigners, like Cambridge Analytica, in an attempt to modify American votes is apparently much more noble than small Russian companies hunting for clicks. With nearly all IT being composed of employees from many nations, nearly no data mining company could be considered “pure” enough to have an all US citizen staff. In this area HRC, DT and their respective team players are in agreement: when they hire companies with foreign employees in an attempt to change US voter’s minds there is no foreign intervention problem.

    Really big transnational employers like Google and Facebook that have monitored and monetized personal information from the beginning barely rate a yawn. If Cambridge Analytica had been one of the many companies used exclusively by HRC we wouldn’t have heard a sigh from the MSM.

    Most of the currently manufactured outrage seems predicated upon the idea that voters have no internal mechanisms for deciding how to vote. This being a reflection of the neoliberal value system. Votes are supposed to be just another commodity in the “free market” of global corporate capitalism. Something to be cultivated, manipulated, purchased and traded. When HRC lost, in spite of overwhelming corporate support, the outrage really seems to have been that votes might not actually be market controllable commodities. This seems to have led to a course change. Once the Ds have converted enough of the national office positions to ex-three-letter-employee incumbents, the lack of market control of votes may well become unimportant.

  20. crittermom

    The article under Class Warfare: “Gentrifier couple thrilled…” is one of the dumbest, most ridiculous I’ve yet to read. It was meant to show the absurdity, correct?
    “There’s a local hardware shop…sells really old-fashioned things like ‘moth repellent’ and ‘shovels’.”
    “After this I think we can definitely say we’ve fully integrated.” Seriously?

    This couple is so clueless I’m still shaking my head.
    A shovel is ‘old-fashioned’?

    If a disaster hits, I predict they will be among the first to perish–possibly from the sheer agony of not being able to charge their electronic devices.

    1. Lee

      Our neighborhood, about 45 miles from central silicon valley, has been inundated by manually helpless techies. We recently helped a couple keep their dog from repeatedly escaping their backyard by using a hammer and four nails, neither of which did they own, to replace a fallen fence board. Maybe they’ll bake us some cookies, if only it would occur to them and if they knew how. Actually, they are nice people. But they live in their parallel universe and we live in ours, although we do occasionally visit each other’s realms. ; )

      1. polecat

        Now, imagine if you will, the ‘big one’ shaking everything to pieces .. Who will have what it takes to even TRY to survive ??
        I would place my bets with people who can think by their wits .. vs those who ‘live’ via their apps !

        1. Lee

          My son is in the home remodeling business with a good working knowledge of several trades. We welcome the work our manually clueless new overlords provide even as we decry the effects of gentrification.

          The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.

          Joan Robinson

  21. Jim Haygood

    Facebook is down another 5 percent this morning.

    The S&P 500 index (of which Facebook is a member) opened more than 30 points above its Friday close of 2,588. But in a continuation of a pattern that’s prevailed for several weeks, it began fading from its intraday high soon after the open, implying more weakness ahead.

    Should the market close down today, the outlook would be quite negative. Bubble III may be gravely ill, comrades. :-(

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sell in May and go away.

      “May arrives a little early this year?”

      “Due to Global Warming, I bet.”

    2. Randy

      Whew! We dodged a bullet today, all three major indices up ~3%.
      All “bets” are off when Rump starts tweeting again tomorrow morning.

      No matter where you go or what you do all you hear is Trump, Trump, Trump. I am getting so sick of hearing this buffoon’s name. Thanks, Hillary – and Democrat party. /s

      That “ignorant” fellow that hasn’t followed the news since Trump was elected is probably the smartest person in the US.

    3. ewmayer

      FB closed slightly up, S&P closed up robustly. Thanks for the fake news. (Hint: there’s a reason it’s called “noise”.)

  22. Summer

    Re: Facebook

    Maybe a IP lawyer can answer this: Is it even legal to contract, lease a persons content property for life? What other industry makes claims for life?

  23. Christopher Dale Rogers

    A little off topic, but in line with commentary on these boards these past 48 hours. Re: The ChickenCoup II being waged against Jeremy Corbyn and the Mural Facebook exchange that finally lighted the fuse his detractors have planned since last June’s GE result.

    First, I shared some of your own comments and those of esteemed posters on a few Twitter posts to Corbyn’s many detractors. So, don’t be surprised to learn that like many others on the UK Left, you were accused, and other posters were accused of anti-semitism, such is the hysteria presently consuming the UK body politic.

    As the good Colonel Smithers, PK and others have note here often, the UK elite fears Corbyn to such a degree that stopping him, together with a growing Leftist surge is all that matters. hence, on the same day Corbyn launches his UK-wide Local council Election campaign, the Labour Rightists launch a coup weaponising anti-semitism – today’s MSM coverage, particularly on the BBC is ghastly.

    In light of these vents, and from a distance of 6000 miles from the UK, I’ve written the following, which I trust you will not object to me sharing here:

    “I am ashamed to be British at this juncture in time. Having witnessed more than 30 months of pure spite and vitriol directed at the elected leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, these part 2 months have plumbed new depths in the Elites detestation of Corbyn, the UK British Left and anyone who desires a better nation for our fractured society.

    These latest vile attacks on a man who’s only crime was to express some empathy towards an artist who’s work was being destroyed on Facebook in a brief 18 word exchange that made no reference to any Mural whatsoever, just exhibits clearly the collective hysteria that has overtaken the UK’s body politic, or certain, vocal sections thereof resident in the bubble of London and its power centres.

    Those who place great emphasis on human rights and respect of human rights, both domestically and internationally, are now openly accused of being anti-semites if they express any sympathy whatsoever towards the Palestinians and their oppression by a brutal occupation force that murders on a daily basis.

    This weaponisation of anti semitism to close down any critique of Israel or any sympathy expressed to those suffering intolerable burdens has been used with abandon by those who support this particular regime, one that has lurched violently to the right since the mid 1990s. Alas, Israel is not the only Nation to follow this trajectory, which has been mirrored in multiple Western democracies, including our own!

    If, as is now being suggested, that its considered axiomatic that anyone who sympathises with Palestine in its struggle for national self determination must therefore be an anti-semite, then I can see no reason why I should desire to be part of such a political organisation that now engages in the same demonisation processes conducted against Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela – I will not defecate on their memories or the honourable struggles they led and am appalled at all those by their very actions and words who care little for these monumental achievements in the face of great adversary.”

      1. JohnnyGL

        I should have said the anti-semitic accusations are coming FROM all the right people….Atlantic…WaPo…NYT….CNN….

  24. JohnnyGL

    Liz Warren needs to get back on the Medicare for All script and quit goofing around with ACA-improvement legislation.

    I’m tired of throwing taxpayer money at private insurance companies. Yes, the bill seems to have mechanisms to put the insurers in a straight-jacket so they can’t rip off the public purse TOO heavily, but if she wanted a ‘bridge’ to Medicare for All, why not do a buy-in to existing Medicare for anyone who wants it now….then, make it auto-enrolled and funded by taxes over a few years with phase-ins for the taxes and the coverage.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Why would a liberal Republican like Warren embrace anything that smacks of socialism? People need to stop projecting their ideals onto politicians. It didn’t work with Obama and it won’t work with anybody else either.

      Nor am I trying to insult her by calling her a liberal Republican.

  25. Doug Hillman

    It’s now clear that the lunatics running the USG crime syndicate are not just stupid and reckless in compelling Russian obeisance; they are in fact genocidal psycopaths actively pursuing war. The USG has lost all legitimacy.

    Trump just expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed its West coast embassy based on the UK — a case for which there is no motive, no credible tangible evidence, no transparent/open investigation, and total disregard for clearly-prescribed, established due process. This provocation is more ludicrous than the exposed broadcast lie that Sadam’s troops dumped Kuwaiti infants out of incubatord in order to justify war. The Don of this military crine syndicate is now drunk on the swamp water he’d promised to drain and he’s ready to press the button.

    Putin appears to be a statesman of infinite patience and tolerance, but at some point repeatedly poking a bear with a sharp stick is suicidal. Today’s expulsions follow a pattern: the US violation of the ABM treaty, moving nuke-capable missiles to Russia’s borders; the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine and “civil” war in Syria, with multiple rounds of sanctions and public slander for various unproven charges,

    Well, after only grunting and huffing so far, today the bear finally growled.

    “Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said that, with regard to the US response, ‘US only understand force.’

    “… the United States took a very bad step by cutting what very little still remains in terms of Russian-American relations.”

  26. Duck1

    RE: the Bolton appointment. Of course remember him well from the Bush 2 administration, but looked at Wikipedia to learn his background. Father was Baltimore firefighter, mother housewife, born 48. Got scholarship to Prep school I never heard of and on to Yale, summa cum laude. Was Goldwater organizer in HS, 1964. Draft eligable in 1970, served in Maryland National Guard and Army reserve for 6 years total. On to Yale Law, friends with Clarence Thomas and contemporary of Clintons. Worked at Burlington and Covington law firm, involved in Scalia nomination, had some role in Iran Contra, worked pro-bono with James Baker at one point.
    Associations spread out among a plethora of right think tanks and group such as Jinsa. Seems like a high achieving young man who found his place in the great right wing conspiracy and thrived.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would it be a safer world if more people, people like him, did not go to college?

      To me, there is no shame in doing what your father did, working the same job he did.

      On the other hand, for every college graduate like him, there are ten who work peacefully on developing self-driving cars, or who apply the latest in brain research to make customers buy more via ingenious interior design tricks.

      So, we can’t say college education is all bad. It’s more a question of whether one wants to be very pessimistic or just a little pessimistic.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Seems like a high achieving young man who found his place in the great right wing conspiracy and thrived.

      I assume he just kissed a lot of butt to get to where he is considering his humble background. Disgusting scum of the aspirational class who will grovel on a dime and lack any self-respect. The usual petticoat-wearing courtier commonly found in Washington DC.

      Trump’ll love him.

  27. Donna

    Another reason for paper ballots counted in public. Maybe Marie Newman actual did beat Dan Lipinski in Illinois. The millennial voting numbers are definitely a problem; but, lack of trust in the voting system also suppresses turnout. Lee Camp at Redacted Tonight has the scoop here.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for posting that one. It’s important.

      But the Democrat party was able to get the Republican they wanted to win the primary so back to blaming every anomaly on Russia.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I think the “UserFriendly” comment pretty much says it all. In the hundreds of elections that went down in the last few weeks, there were barely a handful of truly left candidates who even had a chance to get through the gatekeepers of the Democrat Party — which is to say, the consultants. Quite a few good candidates didn’t even get past the “Rolodex Primary” and the “Pay to Play” Primary.

      People of all ages are disgusted by the candidates. Poor turnout rates bear that out.

      For all the hype about Marie Newman, I can’t recall a single instance where she got behind any type of concrete material benefit. I’m not saying she didn’t bring it up. But I follow politics fairly closely, and the only stories I ever read about her were “process” stories. And not a one of them mentioned any real policy proposal: single payer, $15/hour, progressive taxation, free and open public education… . When you’re running against Lipinski, you have to confront him directly on economic issues — because that’s where he’s strongest with his core voters. In short — she was just another failed, canned product of the Democrats’ candidate factory.

  28. allan

    Extreme Gerrymandering & the 2018 Midterm [Brennan Center]

    Many Democrats are optimistic about their chances of winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. But in a new report, we measured how much harder partisan gerrymandering will make it for Democrats to win seats — and found that even a blue wave election akin to 2006 would be far from enough. Maps drawn after the 2010 tea-party wave to favor Republicans, particularly in big swing states like Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio, mean Democrats would need to win the national popular vote in 2018 by the biggest margin in a midterm since 1982. …

    Because of maps designed to favor Republicans, Democrats would need to win by a nearly unprecedented nationwide margin in 2018 to gain control of the House of Representatives. To attain a bare majority, Democrats would likely have to win the national popular vote by nearly 11 points. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have won by such an overwhelming margin in decades. Even a strong blue wave would crash against a wall of gerrymandered maps. …

    But to Roberts, Alito LLC, this is “sociological gobbledygook”.

  29. Annotherone

    Thank you for the link to the FT piece on Jan Morris – I don’t subscribe to FT but got to the article via Googling “Jan Morris Everest”. I’ve long admired this writer. I read her “Venice” when she was still James Morris back in the 1980s. What a superb writer on travel!

    There’s a 2007 piece about America by Jan Morris at The Guardian – but bittersweet considering what has happened since then!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, Jan Morris is a great writer. I have her Pax Britannica Trilogy (Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress, Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire and Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat.) great works all of them. Must go looking for a copy of her book “Venice” that you mentioned. Had no idea that she was still out and about and by the sounds of it, still going strong.

      1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

        I’m a big Jan Morris fan. I enjoyed the Venice book– the first of hers that I read– and you should definitely try and find it. Reading and enjoying Roger Crowley’s Venice book at the moment. And I also loved John Julius Norwich’s Venice history (devoured that in the doorstopper, single-volume edition, during my first trip to the city).

  30. Andrew Watts

    RE: Fleeing Facebook app users realise what they agreed to in apps years ago – total slurpage

    Does anybody else find it humorous that Facebook is using the NSA’s excuse? “It’s only metadata. We’re not collecting the content of your interactions even though they go through our servers.” I can’t help but think that certain organizations and individuals in the US government are jealous and want a monopoly on their snooping prowess. They must really believe in all the Big Data hype.

  31. Altandmain

    Current Affairs discusses why the economy is messed up. People are not getting paid what they deserve, certainly not CEOs.

    I think that Nathan is one of the better writers out there and we’ll worth reading.

    One of his best works:

    Note the publication date, in February well before the November 2016 US election.

  32. Reify99

    Re: The new serfdom

    All those Uber cars need to get washed.
    Had a chat with a homeless fellow a few days ago, Selling the Street Pulse, a newspaper tailored to the homeless scene in my city. A dollar a copy, he keeps half. We got talking about jobs he’s had and one was a car wash attendant where he got paid by the minute. Literally, badge in to work on a car, badge out immediately after and head for the “break room.” He said that, on a sunny day he usually got paid for 5 hours out of the 12 he was there.
    Said he worked there about a year, thought about the pluses and minuses, quit.

  33. Ray Phenicie

    Under ‘Facebook Fracas’, we mostly hear about data harvesting; there is a more insidious subtext to Zuckerberg & Co advert software.

    But first let’s read what Matt Stoller has to say about the whole fracas. I find him to be well informed on this whole topic.

    This thread points to the lackadasical, insipid and totally insincere attitude that Facebook leadership takes when confronted about wrong-doing. Empty promises that go back seven years serve to outline that visage of duplicity. (a 2011 putative understanding with the FTC got us what again? I forgot.)

    But duplicity and lying about how your business model is really about data harvesting data and dialogues like this are disingenuous when you know there’s a more insidious angle to your business model. “Oh, we didn’t tell you we’re in the market to sell personal data to third party marketing companies? Well, we are.”

    ProPublica proved that the Facebook advert software was deliberately constructed by programmers to allow racially driven ads to be constructed and posted on Facebook. Such actions are illegal (and very harmful) on several levels. Be certain to follow all of the links in the story which leaves no doubt that Facebook’s staff knew what they were doing. And this brings us to the major point here and Matt has been singing this from the rooftops (as he should): Facebook is a monopolistic enterprise. Once a business entity reaches that scope of operations they have already written a criminal playbook to act from. No matter how many hours Zuckerberg is grilled by Senators, no matter how many times the FTC investigates, nothing will phase Zuckerberg & CO. They have proven that. Maybe some folks in DC should learn some principles of government: there is only one entity that has coercive power in a well ordered society.

  34. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the link to Stephen Walt’s article in Foreign Policy: “Welcome to the Dick Cheney Administration”. The Bolton and Pompeo appointments reflect the re-ascendancy of the failed foreign and military policies of the neocons and the Wolfowitz Doctrine of U.S. hegemony, described by Senator Edward Kennedy as “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” Given their manifold and incredibly damaging foreign policy failures over the past 16 years, their sponsors know their policies would not be supported by the American people, but have convinced or coerced Trump to appoint them anyway.

    As Stephen Walt said, “[T]he real problem isn’t Bolton — it’s a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again.”… “[I]f you are worried about Bolton, you should ask yourself the following question: What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment’s regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again?”

    … and we are seeing the same pattern repeated again and again, not just in foreign policy.

  35. Procopius

    Can’t tell if that’s a real machine gun or not. The grips and the receiver look too big to be .30 caliber, but the barrel doesn’t look big enough (inside the ventilated cover) to be .50 caliber. Maybe not an American machine gun, which would be ironic. I’m wondering if the police checked to see of their ATF tax certificate(s) was(were) up to date. I’ll bet there are other techinical requirements to legally own a machine gun. I’m hoping that as a PR stunt it backfired and got them a lot of negative reaction in whatever local newspaper survives there.

  36. The Rev Kev

    Stormy Daniels sighs as she recalls ‘bad sex’ with ‘ugly’ Donald Trump

    I think that Stormy is trying to hit Trump’s buttons here, especially with a word that he would likely put in a tweet. Very calculating that. But really, bonking with a porn star? The sort of thing that you would like to claim to have done once in a boast in a pub (as well as claiming to have bonked a model or a beauty pageant girl) but the act itself my only be mediocre when compared to a willing partner.
    But think about this story this way. She went up with Trump, the billionaire, into his room. Her choice, her decision. Does anybody think that she would have gone up to the room of say, Donny Trump, the delivery-van driver from Hoboken? Or any of those other girls over the years. A few, perhaps, but most I would say no. Now it is time to cash in as her career recedes into the rear-vision mirror. In other words, they deserve each other.

    In passing, looking at those Cranes in today’s Antidote du jour and never knew that there were so many types-

  37. cripes

    “Only 3% Millennial Turnout in Illinois Primary”

    I guess predictions that millennial voters will clean up the mess left by “boomers” are, as Mark Twain said of reports on his death, greatly exaggerated.

    Ian Welsh, please take note.

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