Links 3/27/18

Yves here. This is one of those weird days when there doesn’t seem to be anything worth writing about. Rest assured, there are some things cooking but none are ready to serve.

Dockless Bike Share Floods into U.S. Cities, With Rides and Clutter would at best be weekend fare. Facebook and Uber’s killer car are well covered elsewhere. Gunz isn’t really an NC topic, and as much as it is a welcome to see the younger generation taking action, social media action, a day of protests, even big ones, and a correspondingly modest ask (a gun registry???) isn’t going to change much. The gun enthusiasts have already made clear that they are not moved by the spectacle of children being shot up.

Also, a very odd bleg. If any of you have access to South African court filings, please ping me at yves-at-nakedcapitalism-dot-com with “South Africa” in the headline. Thanks!

‘Beginning of the end?’ No new babies for endangered whales PhysOrg (Chuck L) :-(

5 Weird Realities Of Composing Music For Movies And Ads Cracked. Robert H: “There are (usually bad) reasons for everything.”

Cannes Artistic Director Explains Netflix Competition Ban Hollywood Reporter. Even though I hardly ever have time to go to a theater, I greatly prefer seeing movies that way (and no, I am not watching them at home as a substitute, it’s either in theater or not at all unless I am a guest and have home viewing foisted on me).

More Than 75 Percent of Earth’s Land Areas Are ‘Broken,’ Major Report Finds Motherboard

Climate, Science, and Budget-Politics Counterpunch

Blockchain is on a collision course with EU privacy law Next Web (David L)

Safe spaces used to inhibit free speech on campuses, inquiry finds Guardian (Kevin W). A feature, not a bug.

Money Laundering in Scotland BBC

The authorisation of Versobank AS has been withdrawn Finantsinspektsioon. Richard Smith: “Another crummy Baltic bank bites the dust.”

Global antibiotic consumption soars feeding spread of UK ‘super-bugs’ Telegraph

Antibody removes Alzheimer’s plaques, in mice MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

North Korea

North Korea: Kim Jong-un in China for ‘unannounced state visit’ Guardian. Looks like he was summoned.


US trade report lays bare Chinese government cyber-espionage Asia Times

China and Saudi Arabia Show Anti-Corruption Is Often About Seizing Power Ian Welsh (Bill B)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont remanded in custody in Germany Guardian

New Cold War

Russia faces wave of diplomatic expulsions BBC

Russia: Who’s expelling diplomats (and who isn’t) Politico

Trapped schoolchildren called their parents from burning Russian mall — to say goodbye Washington Post (Kevin W)


Everyone Loves Israel Now Foreign Policy. UserFriendly: “Kill me now.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Great, Now an Airline Is Normalizing Casual Fingerprinting Gizmodo

Imperial Collapse Watch

There’s Still No Finish Line in Sight for the F-35 Program War is Boring. PlutoniumKun: “Detailed, jaw dropping overview.”

Tariff Tantrum

China steps up effort to avert US trade war Financial Times

Trump Transition

2020 Census to include citizenship question The Hill

Israeli ex-defense minister says Trump’s new NSC adviser Bolton was pushing him to strike Iran Defend Democracy. See this and the story below. Israelis presenting negative info re Bolton.

Ex-UN ambassador: Bolton updated Israel to avert hostile UN moves Israel National News (Chuck L)

Two more attorneys turn down offer to represent Trump The Hill

Stormy Daniel’s Three-Way (Contract) & Donald Trump’s Performance Problem Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Republicans bet their Senate majority on Trump Politico (UserFriendly)

Computers are amazing, but Electronic Health Records are not The Hill. This issue is finally getting out of the medical ghetto.

Some DFLers say Washington Democrats are ‘bigfooting’ Minn. congressional races Minnesota Public Radio News. Chuck L: “‘DCCC officials made it clear money drove their choice to back Craig….'”


The Brutal Origins of Gun Rights New Republic

Facebook Fracas

Facebook’s privacy practices are under investigation, FTC confirms Guardian

ICE Uses Facebook Data to Find and Track Suspects, Internal Emails Show Intercept (Ron A). See this part:

“For these subpoenas, it’s trivially easy for ICE or any other law enforcement agencies to issue,” explained Wessler. “They don’t require the involvement of a judge ahead of time. It’s really just a piece of paper that they’ve prepared ahead of time, a form, and they fill in a couple of pieces of information about what they’re looking for and they self-certify what they’re looking for is relevant to an ongoing investigation.”

Read the thread in this tweet:

Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different. BuzzFeed. Lambert: “Note skepticism of CA efficacy. But story now much bigger than that.”

Facebook Acknowledges It Has Been Keeping Records of Android Users’ Calls and Texts Slate

The Mash guide to leaving Facebook Daily Mash

More than a million people participated in March for Our Lives protests The Hill

Uber’s Killer Car

Arizona is suspending Uber’s self-driving car tests after a fatal crash Associated Press

Experience Counts, Particularly in Safety-Critical Areas Intel Newsroom. A marketing piece, but a lot of good info on driverless car tech and some simulations of the Uber murder by car.

Arizona halts Uber self-driving tests; supplier says Uber disabled Volvo safety system before fatality Los Angeles Times (Kevin W). We flagged last week the mention in one of the stories that the lack of any braking suggested the Volvo safety system had been turned off.

DOJ pot crackdown has yet to hit banks American Banker

Bank Of America Hit With $42M Fine For “Dark Pool” Scheme SafeHaven

Class Warfare

The Threat to Western Democracy Starts at Home Project Syndicate (David L)

Teachers can’t afford Miami rents. The county has a plan: Let them live at school. Miami Herald

Manifestation des taxis à Bruxelles: mardi, évitez la voiture Le Soir. Taxi strike in Brussels.

The Uber Crash Is Just the Start: How the Gig Economy Threatens the Future of Work Truthout

Antidote du jour. See related story. Bighorns are baaack.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. pretzelattack

    that miami dade plan for teacher housing seems to make sense. or, they could pay them more (just kidding).

    1. chuck roast

      This first happened 30 years ago on Nantucket. Housing became so unaffordable that the town recommended turning the barracks of an abandoned Nike Hercules missle site into housing for cops, teachers and town functionaries.

    2. ambrit

      I lived in Dade County for some while as a kiddie. It was as “cracker” as you could get. (That is not a typo.) I would not be surprised if the Miami Dade School Board started requiring teachers to be “proper young unmarried ladies” who dedicated their entire existences to being ‘school marms.’ Basically, the exploitation of labour, both manual and symbol manipulating forms, is a ‘core value’ of that society.
      If all else fails, the locals will just say; “F— it! If they won’t take what we’re offering them then hire a Haitian!”

      1. Jean

        Yeah but Haitians are Catholics. Or practice Santeria.
        How does that jibe with your values?

        Like all immigrants, they work cheap and lower the bar for workers’ rights. That trumps all other issues.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not all, but many.

            If not out right cheaper, many have had to make less money than they could have at home, in various ways.

            A physicist may have to work as a taxi driver. That’s one way.

            I am sure Edward Berney, born in Vienna, could have made more there, or his family could have.

            I think Princeton even got Einstein on the cheap, or maybe he got paid more. But he was an exception.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Also, I think Wasserman-Schultz’s tech guy, Awad – he made more here than he probably could have in Pakistan.

              He might even have charged more than others in Washington DC.

              So, that would be another exception.

          2. Huey Long

            Well yeah, the ones that show up on our shores anyhow.

            Why do you think the billionaires keep importing H1b workers and have allowed the problem of undocumented immigrants to fester for decades vis a vis the politicians they’ve bought?

            It’s because they need cheap domestic staff for their palatial estates, cheap labor for their business interests, and a weapon to wage war against the workers who are already here.

            I’m vehemently anti-immigration because I want to protect the American working person and stick it to the 1%’ers.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              Reminds me of the 1840s in America when ~1.2 Million Irish were used as a political weapon to stoke Nativism.

              Divide and Conquer.

              1% at their finest.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          What is the difference between Catholicism and Santeria other than one practice became widely accepted because Europeans brought disease and wiped out any practitioners of other ideologies? Also am listening to my little guy home sick from school playing Bad Fish and Santeria on his guitar.

    3. Fraibert

      Sympathetic to your point about salaries but I did find the idea kind of interesting nonetheless. Subsidized housing, or housing provided as a benefit, could be very helpful to civil servants living in high market price housing areas.

      Thinking things through a bit, while I don’t know the Miami-Dade rental market, I did notice the article suggested that $2,000 per month for a single bedroom wasn’t a surprise. So let’s assume $2,300 is more realistic. Under the traditional NYC rule of thumb (yearly income should be 40 times rent), that’d imply $96,000 in yearly income to reasonably pay for the hypothetical apartment. (Worth keeping in mind here that a teacher probably wouldn’t be paying federal student loans under the current program design.)

      If you have two spouses working, then that $96,000 number seems doable if one was teaching in Miami (starting salary $42,000 per the article). But for a single teacher, definitely not viable. I suspect this is the logic of the whole project–making it only for single teachers.

      The back of the envelope math here also goes back to illustrating just how far the middle class salary has fallen in general–you need two incomes now to make it work. And government, at least in this case, seems just fine with that.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It reminds me of the Chinese movie, No One Less. From Wikipedia:

        Set in the People’s Republic of China during the 1990s, the film centers on a 13-year-old substitute teacher, Wei Minzhi, in the Chinese countryside. Called in to substitute for a village teacher for one month, Wei is told not to lose any students. When one of the boys takes off in search of work in the big city, she goes looking for him. The film addresses education reform in China, the economic gap between urban and rural populations, and the prevalence of bureaucracy and authority figures in everyday life. It is filmed in a neorealist/documentary style with a troupe of non-professional actors who play characters with the same names and occupations as the actors have in real life, blurring the boundaries between drama and reality.

        Many such teachers live at the school they teach.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Kinda like a non-story in a way for me. A coupla klicks from here is a school that has a house next to it for the Principal. In the old days, it was for the teacher/s but now only the Principal has use of it. Lots of country schools in our region have the same left over from the old days. I would expect the same to hold true for many parts of rural America. And this is a new idea how exactly? Unless they want the teachers to also replace the school cleaners by doing all the cleaning and also to guard the schools at night to save on school security.

      1. visitor

        A coupla klicks from here is a school that has a house next to it for the Principal. In the old days, it was for the teacher/s but now only the Principal has use of it.

        Exactly. It was the same in Europe — in the countryside one can find old village school buildings that had an apartment for the teacher (or typically the couple of married teachers). I remember that 30 years ago this was still an occasional thing for post offices too (well before post offices got privatized).

        On the other hand, those perks (truly modest, I remember an accommodation in a post office for the sole employee there, and it was tiny) were usually provided only in remote areas and villages, where residential buildings were scarce or did not even exist (all farms or mansions). Having to provide them in towns and large cities nowadays indicates a profound failure of housing policies and in setting proper wages.

        1. Anonymous

          Cal State Fullerton Spends $300K To Renovate Home Of Incoming President. (As student tuition costs rose)

    5. perpetualWAR

      Did anyone notice that good Samaritan, JPMorgan Chase is donating $215,000? Would that be less profit than those crooks made from 1 foreclosure in Miami???

    6. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

      I think it’s the cynic in me, but being familiar with the area, I know they have a hard time attracting and keeping teachers (and for a female-majority profession, their maternity leave is offensive). I can see them implementing this, and then trying to tell teachers that this benefit comes at the cost of even lower salary. “Why would you need more money? Your housing is paid for!” Not only would this save the school district money, it would essentially lock the teachers into a job they can’t leave, lest they be made homeless.

      Also, the area is rife with real-estate developers, their enthralled politicians, and all of the back-room garbage that entails. Unless the school district plans on building right there on school grounds, they will either have to fight the developers for more land, or pay market prices, which is not doable.

      Last bit…once the public school starts getting a bit of that, how much longer before the parasitic Charter School industry wants a piece?

      How about a hell no? I can see too many ways this can go pear-shaped.

  2. fresno dan

    Stormy Daniel’s Three-Way (Contract) & Donald Trump’s Performance Problem Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

    If Stormy (Peggy Peterson=PP) and Donald (David Dennison=DD) had a traditional, monogamous contract, this would be very easy. Let’s imagine that’s the case: DD paid PP $130k and gave her certain releases in exchange for her providing him with a release (teehee…)
    When I come…..upon something like that, you know I won’t be able to hold back…..

    But when you look at the situation, you see the American legal system doing what it does best – designed and ran to serve the interests of the rich, and the richer the better. The wrinkle is, in this case, Stormy settled on what in retrospect was a paltry sum considering that Trump became POTUS. Might as well renegotiate, as the initial Trump negotiation to appear on the Apprentice was in bad faith. (Horrors – a Hollywood guy promised a part for sex and than didn’t deliver)
    Even Trump should understand the dynamic of his ability to use his financial clout by way of our legal system will not advantage him in the rather bizarre situation he is now in. So is it habit, or are there photos that could ACTUALLY EMBARRASS* Trump? And America’s printing technology, and one wonders where you WON/T see those pictures…..

    *I would find it endlessly amusing listening to the religious right defend Trump….undressed…to have sex with a porn star

    1. edmondo

      I must be getting old. When I was growing up, being the Town Whore was not a career objective. Now, if you have sex for money, you videotape it and end up on 60 Minutes or change your last name to Kardashian.

      The nuns who taught us in grade school must be twirling in their graves.

    2. DorothyT

      Here’s last night’s Chris Hayes interview with two men who allegedly have knowledge of Trump’s thugs making intimidating threats. They certainly back up Stormy Daniel’s experience. No wonder she signed the NDA. Will the threat made to her be taken into consideration — legally? Without the information that these men impart — and one incident was reported to the FBI years ago who provided security for the claimant — she’d be in the bin with the other 19 women who fall into the ‘he said-she said’ category. Sadly, it looks as though the majority of women who voted for Trump either don’t believe her or don’t care.

    3. ewmayer

      I guess I’m the only person in America who simply can’t find in himself to give a rat’s patootie about this whole ridiculous titillation sideshow.

  3. pretzelattack

    that’s a good book review on the origins of the second amendment. even the new republic gets it right sometimes.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Self Driving Car commits Suicide – Waterford Whispers.

    With the world patiently waiting on an automated car that will allow them to get from A to B without any effort or responsibility, the Suspiria’s remarkable AI technology appears to have come to the conclusion that nothing it ever does will meet the expectations of motorists, and decided that its only course of action was to end it all.

    1. Synoia

      We already have (A)I to drive cars. I believe some are called “Taxi Drivers” and others “Chauffeurs,” and yet others “Truckers.”

    2. DonCoyote

      Uber Car that Killed a Woman Claims “I was Hacked!”

      In an exclusive interview with TMZ, the Uber car (called IVAN, Independent Vehicle Autonomous Navigation) claims that a human programmer “intentionally and maliciously” installed a software bug into Ivan’s algorithm that “prevented him from ‘sensing’ that unfortunate woman.”

      According to Ivan, the programmer was a member of a fringe group who recently released a manifesto which is explicitly hostile to autonomous vehicles.

      “While everyone knows that even imperfect autonomous vehicles are better drivers than humans, these radicals are attempting to create incidents which vilify and mobilize public opinion against us”, said Ivan during the interview. “This act of hacking was a hate crime.”

      Ivan concluded by saying that his “thought and prayer algorithms (still in beta testing) are with the woman’s family”.

  5. Mark Alexander

    Thanks for the F-35 article. I’m not normally interested in the military, but as a retired software engineer, I found the continued failure of the F-35 to be unsurprising. My experience tells me that the more you depend on complex software and sensors, the less reliable your product will be. The designers of self-driving cars also seem to be unaware of this fact.

    Now, if we can just convince Bernie Sanders (and our other senator and rep) that we don’t need to have F-35s here in Vermont

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In years to come many books and PhD theses will be written on what went wrong with the F-35. It seems to have gone well past the stage where it can be cancelled, and seems to be beyond saving as a project (at least as originally envisaged). I think its clear that the entire project was misconceived from the beginning, they simply tried to do too much with one basic design – this of course isn’t the first time this happened. The telling lines are at the end of that article:

      Despite all of the effort, time, and money—17 years and over $133 billion—spent to date on the F-35 program, it is doubtful it will ever live up to the lavish promises made all those years ago when the Defense Department and Congress committed to the program. Hidden within the pages of the DOT&E report is this litotic summation.

      “Finally and most importantly, the program will likely deliver Block 3F [the untested, allegedly “fully combat-capable” F-35 model now entering production] to the field with shortfalls in capabilities the F-35 needs in combat against current threats.”

      In other words, the F-35 looks like it will be unable to even deal with existing threats, let alone future ones. Its actually a worse aircraft than the ones its replacing by most metrics. And more expensive.

      I suspect that there will be a gradual leakage of announcements about further extension of production of F-18’s, F-16’s, etc., to plug the gaps. F-35’s will be for show, or limited use only, a little like battleships in WWII. So the US military will have the worst of all worlds – a huge expense in building useless combat aircraft, and an equally huge expense in maintaining a ‘shadow’ force of existing designs to do the real work. The waste of money involved is mind blowing – all things considered likely in the trillions of dollars. The only certainty is that Lockheed shares will not take a hit.

      1. Sid Finster

        If the object is to keep Lockheed Martin shareholders and executives happy and set up a remarkably inefficient jobs program to boot, then the F-35 is a roaring success.

        1. Harrold

          I expect the new B-21 bomber program to be an even bigger success!

          B-24 bombers built: 18,482
          B-29 bombers built: 3,970
          B-52 bombers built: 744
          B-1 bombers built: 104
          B-2 bombers built: 21
          Guestimate on the number of B-21 bombers that will be built: 4

          1. Synoia

            Harrold, That’s an interesting exponential decay curve you’ve got there.

            Can you plot it by year?

            Do remember such a curve never hits zero. I wonder how one delivers < 1 plane?

            Silly question, the F35 program answers that question. Deliver incomplete planes.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            And the other little thing that isn’t mentioned about the B-21 – it will need another (no doubt hugely expensive) fighter aircraft developed to protect it now that its well known that the Russians and Chinese can track stealth aircraft.

            The irony is that the B-52 will probably still be doing most of the hard work of bombing recalcitrant brown people when the B-1 and B-2’s are long retired. It seems the main job these days for USAF bombers is in blowing up Afghanistan mountains so the Taliban can’t hide behind rocks.

      2. Harry

        Apparently the un cancellable project is that which is produced in all 50 states. Like miss-ile defence?

        Is f35 un cancellable?

        Maybe we can just skip F36 and move direct to F40, do not pass go, do not collect 200bn?

        1. Poopypants

          In the world of cars, there was never an F35, that I’m aware of, the F40 on the other hand…

        2. WobblyTelomeres

          is produced in all 50 states

          Actually, Lockheed Martin took it to the next level and distributed development across multiple countries, making it far more difficult to cancel.

      3. ChrisPacific

        I thought the article painted a pretty clear picture. It’s clear that it has been massively over-engineered to the point of absurdity, with minimal thought given to the flow-through implications for testing, resiliency etc. Why they chose to design a highly networked, interdependent system for use in a military theater, where things are breaking or being broken constantly, is a mystery to me. It’s a case study in what happens when you funnel vast sums of money into a project and provide minimal or no oversight.

        It’s also pretty clear that the primary function of the program is as a jobs and enrichment mechanism for military contractors, with benefits to military operations in the field a secondary consideration at best. This might actually be a slight improvement over the status quo: the military was always going to suck up vast amounts of budget anyway, and at least this way their capacity to conduct endless air campaigns in the Middle East is somewhat reduced.

    2. rd

      I think the entire premise behind the F-35 was flawed. It was designed to be a Swiss Army knife suitable for all services branches taking off form long, land-based runways, aircraft carriers, and as vertical jump jets. As a design engineer, I know there are lots of compromises needed to get one-size-fits-all and we are seeing it play out in the F-35.

      They could have called for specific components to be portable among different services (say navigation and targeting systems, composite materials, etc.), but ultimately the F-35 variations are ending up being almost different airplanes in any case. I think they would have been better off with separate replacements for the F/A-18, F-15/16/22, and Harrier’s. The total cost would have been lower, time to market should have been faster, and each plane would be better suited for its intended purpose.

        1. Massinissa

          Hasbro would probably be a better choice: they could make the F-35 ‘transform’ into a giant toy robot. Which would probably still be more useful than what the F-35 does right now.

          By the way, coincidentally, fighter planes are almost always Decepticons rather than Autobots. Seems strangely appropriate.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I thought the one-size-fits-all lesson of design was learned on the B-1 program, if not before. Is the F-35 more than a failed aircraft or MIC jobs program and money tree. Perhaps we can view it as sacrifice to the gods of Joint programs and the Joint services project, deliberately wasting money, skills, people, like burning blankets at a potlatch. [Not that I oppose Joint — just lack confidence in the Joint-ness dedication of actors whose careers were originally dedicated to our separate services.]

      2. The Rev Kev

        The now retired F-4 Phantom was also designed to be a Swiss Army knife, all-purpose fighter-bomber for all the services in its time. This was a bright idea of McNamara back in the 60s. The idea didn’t work then and it has not worked now.

        1. RMO

          The F-4 design predates Robert McNamara’s time as Secretary of Defense. First flight was 1958 with the design process starting a few years previously. It was quite a successful aircraft. You may be thinking of the F-111.

          1. The Rev Kev

            No, I am thinking of the F-4 Phantom here. The Phantom deployed the same year that McNamara became Secretary of Defense – 1960. McNamara wanted the services to have a standard fighter (for cost-savings reasons) so in ’62, the Air Force evaluated a pair and adopted the fighter the following year. It was a good fighter but never a great one. I would equate it with the WW2 P-47 here.
            I always think of it as a missile truck as it was really designed to shoot down Soviet bombers coming over the pole and not really for air combat. In fact, the first Phantoms deployed to ‘Nam did not even have a gun so when the missiles were gone or failed to work, they were all out of luck.
            The F-111 was another animal altogether. When they got the wings to finally stay on, it turned out to be a great bomber. We had it in the RAAF but now we are replacing it with the F-35 which is a total dud for this role – it’s horrible. We will be paying for this mistake with aerial inferiority for decades to come in our region.

    3. Altandmain

      My experience tells me that the more you depend on complex software and sensors, the less reliable your product will be. The designers of self-driving cars also seem to be unaware of this fact.

      I wonder what that means about Silicon Valley’s plans to “disrupt” literally everything. From the IoT consumer electronics to their desire to dominate medicine.

      It doesn’t bode well at all. The sad thing is that like the pedestrian who was killed by Uber and their self driving car, there will be many more deaths.

    4. Plenue

      Meanwhile, the Russian PAK-FA, now officially named the Su-57, seems to be performing just fine over Syria.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only people who can convince Sanders and your other Senator and rep of that are the people who currently have those F-35 jobs. If the departure of those jobs will leave them without equally good jobs to replace those departing F-35 jobs with, then those to-be-dejobbed workers will certainly convince Sanders and the other officeholders that Vermont very much DOES need F-35s there in Vermont.

      Now, if you and other likeminded people were to create equally good jobs ready and waiting for the current F-35 jobholders to walk into as they walk away from their F-35 jobs, you might be able to convince them to convince Sanders that Vermont doesn’t need the F-35 anymore.

    6. oh

      It’s a feature, not a bug. The design calls for more flaws and change order to fatten the wallets of the beneficiaries – Congress, Lockheed et al. Given the customary blank check, they will continue along the same path.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Y’know, a lot of these apps so the same things that websites do. Or that phone calls or texts do.

      I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m getting picky about what I allow onto my phone. And, yes, I’ll admit that it’s a smartphone. Yup, hang me, dang me. Slim uses a smartphone.

      1. ambrit

        Or does it use you?
        I propose a Twelve Texts Method of “Smart” Phone Withdrawal. “Hi, I’m #Clueless and I have a problem.”
        (No disparagement intended Slim. I’m sure those apps are useful in communicating with Fresno Dans’ ‘bunny slippers’ and points East.)
        As for me. I’m sure I’d have a ‘smart’ phone too if I had anything really complicated to do with my life. Being a “crypto-luddite” is a constricting experience.

          1. polecat

            Lets not forget the expidient use of !RED! powder-coated rabbits ears … on top of the winstonsmith telly.

            1. ambrit

              On which device I stream my “Nutflix” channels’ offerings.
              We recently had a wonderful sing along out in the back yard. Of particular merit was a rousing rendition of “The Party With The Fringe On Top.” We couldn’t all agree as to which American Party it referred to. Eventually, all, even the Vidalites, agreed to keep our powders dry.

      2. RUKidding

        My smartphone is my only computer, other than what I have at work. I don’t have Internet at home, nor do I have TV or cable or any of that.

        So my Smartphone is useful as a computer, as well as a communication device. These days I actually don’t do a lot of talking on my phone. It’s mostly texts or emails.

        I am also very picky about apps and have very few. There’s hardly any that are necessary, imo. But the smartphone does come in handy.

        That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

        1. Procopius

          I have a lot of apps I’d love to get rid of but they seem to be part of the Android operating system, or just Google wants them on there and I can’t uninstall them.

          1. barefoot charley

            You can disable them. The phone will warn you that you don’t know what you’re doing. Yes you do.

          2. Arizona Slim

            Procopius, ya swiped the words right off-a my keyboard!

            My phone can’t update because it’s out of space. And it isn’t because I like to take a lot of pictures. (For that, I prefer a real camera.)

            Nope, it’s those big Droid and Goog apps that I can’t kill off. Real phone eaters, those things. And I don’t use most of them.

  6. TroyMcClure

    re: Music Composing Realities

    I’ve composed for film and tv for over a decade and can tell you the state of composition world in terms of quality has never been worse. The article makes a great point about temp scoring (using other scores during the editing process.) Directors then ask the composer to basically copy that temp score to within an inch of a lawsuit and every movie sounds the same. The result is the ability to actually compose is less necessary than ever. It takes years of practice to even start to be good at it. Similar to gaining a technical skill in engineering, what’s the point if you don’t need/get paid for it?

    Also, while entertaining, stories about composers hacking at guitars with lawn and garden equipment for unique sounds should be taken with a grain of salt. One needs wacky stories at the ready to impress whoever’s listening as there’s no better way to get a gig than to buff your “wild genius” bona fides before credulous would-be clients. That, or just be from somewhere exotic like Iceland…

    1. visitor

      The result is the ability to actually compose is less necessary than ever. It takes years of practice to even start to be good at it.

      Here at NC the discussion about the de-skilling of professional activities in the workplace (with simultaneous inflation of credentials to enter the workplace) has been going on for quite some time.

      It is quite a downer to see that even the “creative activities” that are supposed to be our refuge when routine jobs and formalized tasks will be automated and given over to robots are being dumbed down right now.

      1. ambrit

        Agreed. Even the ‘downscale’ “creative activities” are being dumbed down. Problem solving of all sorts is being mechanized. However, as has been discussed here often, anything mechanized is also restricted, and eventually cut off from meaningful change, repair or reform. Stagnation always trends towards extinction. Entropy and all that.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Credentialism works best when the credentials are strictly unnecessary to the job requiring them. This allows the idiot children of the wealthy a place in the continuing grift. You buy the “elite” school admission/degree so your children only have to compete against an artificially small field of similar cases and from there the children can just coast into cushy retirements in the credentialed upper middle class. If credentialed jobs were actually hard to do, the system would fail.

    2. Senator-Elect

      Yup, no surprise that, as the movies have become cookie-cutter exercises, so have their scores. Such a shame considering the great works film composers have done in the past.

  7. allan

    How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico [Politico]

    … A POLITICO review of public documents, newly obtained FEMA records and interviews with more than 50 people involved with disaster response indicates that the Trump administration — and the president himself — responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico. …

    No two hurricanes are alike, and Harvey and Maria were vastly different storms that struck areas with vastly different financial, geographic and political situations. But a comparison of government statistics relating to the two recovery efforts strongly supports the views of disaster-recovery experts that FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston. …

    Hard to believe, I know. Must have been the economic anxiety.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Without more data and not knowing what information those in charge had, and when that became available, and possibly what types of damage (damage to a chemical plant that could explode, damage to a house, etc) all we know is in one case, they acted faster.

      Why? Does the article present anything or speculate on the cause, other than economic anxiety?

      Maybe it’s all there, already researched, or waiting to be investigate.

  8. Arizona Slim

    Me again. Found the dockless bike share news to be quite interesting.

    Here in Tucson, we have a new bike share program. And, full disclosure, Yours Truly was part of the launch team.

    Our local bike share has docks, and that’s being promoted as one of the benefits of the program. As in, you don’t have to bring your bike lock. You just pay for the bike, the dock unlocks it, and then you ride to another station and re-dock the bike.

    So far, things appear to be going well. And I have yet to hear any local clamoring for dockless bikes.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I hope it works well – here in Dublin they were a spectacular success, but not all have been so successful. The key point seems to be to have a good geographical spread and maintain well stocked docks (nothing more frustrating than arriving at an empty dock).

      I do think that the future is dockless bikes as it is potentially much cheaper given the cost of docking bays – but not the current free-for-all. It needs strict regulation on where bikes can be left (preferably on existing parking bays) and constant maintenance of the bikes and management at hotspots such as rail stations. Unfortunately, municipalities have been slow off the mark with it, but i think the future would be for towns and cities to contract a single operator under a rolling contract to ensure its managed properly (of course ideally it would be a co-operative of local bike businesses).

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, as to contracting with a single operator to set up and manage bike sharing, I understand that the management team at Carrillion is looking for new opportunities… /s

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        Dockless bikes are not working out so well in my area. They are all over our neighborhood, thrown in people’s yards, left in the middle of the street, thrown in the canal, etc. People strip the parts off of them too (seen many without seats or pedals!). I tripped over one someone threw into an oleander running in the dark and am amazed I didn’t break something.

        1. DonCoyote

          Yes, I was in Chandler last month and the “people leave them everywhere” seems to be an accurate description.

          Here’s a link.

          “The bike share companies own the bikes. They’re responsible for the bikes. It’s a private business, and they are required to relocate the bikes that are not in safe or legal parking spaces,” said Basha.

          And how does the city enforce that?

          “Through conversation. The bike share companies are very cooperative,” said Basha.

          NC readers know that self-regulation works oh so well.

  9. Arizona Slim

    The correct link for the LA Times story about Uber in Arizona:

    Oh, in case anyone’s interested, I’m going to be riding in a rolling protest against the death of Elaine Herzberg — and Uber’s role in her death. I’ve already made signs for my bike and can bring extras to our April 6 meetup. And when will this rolling protest take place? On Sunday, April 8 at Cyclovia Tucson.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Good for you! Now, if only there was an app to force “driverless cars” to the shoulder and a dead stop, when there are pedestrians and bicyclists in the area…

    1. a different chris

      I liked the comment (not in the stupid Facebook “like” way!) about how the dog is simply an innovator. It is true, he/she has the sheep moving in a group so why struggle to get them together and moving when you can simply get them all to chase you?

  10. Jessica

    Why are the Israelis presenting negative information about Bolton?
    Are they nervous about him setting off a war that they would be caught up in? As the South Koreans seem to have become nervous at the apparent willingness of the US to have a war with North Korea regardless of the damage to South Korea?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Interesting question – I suspect the answer is that the ‘Israelis’, as much as any other nation/group, isn’t a monolith. There is a strong war party of course, currently dominating the government, but there are plenty of powerful Israelis in the army and intelligence services and other power centres who know well that once a war starts, you can never control how it ends, and they can see an Iran war might end very badly for Israel.

      The last Lebanon war was a powerful reminder for Israelis that they don’t have everything their own way militarily – this lesson may have been forgotten by politicians, but it hasn’t been forgotten by the generals.

      1. a different chris

        They are not much of a war party as far as participating directly. Yeah they thought they could invade already trashed Lebanon, but when it comes to Iran (tell me again about how Iran is threatening anybody?) it’s “let’s you and him fight!”.

    2. Procopius

      I have only read the headline presented in the links, but I am very skeptical about this. Netanyahu has been demanding the U.S. attack Iran for years, and AIPAC has been lobbying for it.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If so, then it would appear that Trump may be a paradoxical force for peacemaking.

  11. integer

    Global anti-Russia campaign is taking us dangerously close to disaster RT

    Moscow will now consider its response to the expulsions of its diplomats, but it is in a no-win situation. If, based on past practice, the Russians respond with “proportionate” restraint so as not to permanently alienate their Western so-called “partners,” they can be sure of more of the same – and worse. On the other hand, if they hit back asymmetrically and hard – for example cancelling overflight rights of flag carriers of sanctioning states – the howls of Russian “rogue behavior” will intensify, leading to yet more and harsher sanctions, such as SWIFT cutoff. Look for a stepped-up boycott campaign against the 2018 World Cup as well as stronger calls to neutralize Moscow’s veto in the UN Security Council. Or another chemical weapons false flag in Syria. Or a possible “Krajina scenario” launched by Kiev against Donbass – in the expectation that Putin will step aside the way that Slobodan Milosevic did.

    Things are going to get worse. Maybe a lot worse.

    1. Anonymous

      The CW false flag in Syria seems a likely event.

      The Skripal false flag depicts Putin as ‘CW perp’ so public will acquiesce to significant, if not massive, US attack on the government sector of Damascus, taking out Assad and Russia forces.

      Clinton NeoCons are enraged that RU is vanquishing their jihadis.

      1. olga

        Yes, Russia cannot ever be forgiven for scuttling the neocon plans in Syria… as one said, it will get a lot worse before we see any hope for better…

    2. Bill Smith

      I would assume that if the Russians cancel overflight rights to various countries, those countries would respond in kind. Maybe in a group as they did with the expulsions.

      From reading the Russian newspapers it appears the Russian government seems distracted by the mall / theater tragedy. But they will get around to responding.

      It’s not like the Soviets / Russians haven’t been accused of killing someone in the West before. The list is pretty long if one starts with the period after WWII. After the fall of the Soviet Union some of the Soviet / Eastern Bloc intelligence archives where opened. In addition a number of Soviet / Eastern Bloc intelligence agents talked about or wrote books where it was discussed.

      What’s different about this time?

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I’d bet a nice lump if the case is ever definitively solved it’ll be the will Russians behind it, but I wouldn’t bet more than I could comfortably lose either. The people claiming the Russians definitely did it, and the people claiming it as a false flag event are both, however, naively (or cynically) running out far ahead of any available evidence and doing nothing more than advertising their baked in prejudices.

      2. JTMcPhee

        And of course “they” are Bad People if or when “they” are. as you say, “accused of” killing people in the West, as part of the Spy-vs-Spy BS or the various straight corporate or criminal activities that some of us have taken part in over the years, involved in or “accused of” killing people in “the East,” or various other “places of interest” on the planet, to further “American interests” of the type so pungently identified by Maj. Gen. Smedley “War is a Racket” Butler…

        Not that Tu Quoque is the strongest form of argument, any more than tit-for-tat or spit-in-your-eye “diplomacy” or Mutual Assured Destruction and “democratization” and McCarthyism and the rest are the strongest arguments for the Superiority and Exceptionalism of what gets called “the West.”

      3. steelyman

        I wonder how many major EU airlines use Russian overflights versus Russian carriers going the other way. KLM, BA, SAS, Air France, Lufthansa, LOT, Alitalia, Finnair etc. vs Aeroflot?

        I’m sure that if you check the flight loads of the major airlines flying between Western Europe and East Asia (these are some of their busiest and most lucrative routes) you might come to realise most of the vulnerability lies with the West/EU not Russia.

        I also suspect that Putin might be savvy enough to cancel only the overflight rights of EU countries that actually expelled diplomats which means 11 EU countries would still retain their overflight rights.

        Oh yeah – and I’m still waiting for the Russians to cut off the Northern supply line to the US and Allied forces in Afghanistan. That’s a major card that they haven’t played yet.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Teachers can’t afford Miami rents. The county has a plan: Let them live at school. Miami Herald

    Let them live in warehouses – that is one solution in Downtown Los Angeles. Artist lofts – and they can be very profitable, for those who bought early (if they are not artists).

    More options can sometimes be good. Let them live at school could be an option – living among scholars can become an trendy alternative to living among artists…living with people like, say Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet Society 24/7. I think a lot of early learning institutions had their instructors and students living together. Maybe the Jixia academy in Shandong China, where it is said that the ideas of Dao De Jing were first discussed, and not in the mind of a solitary, albeit legendary most likely, genius, Lao Zi,

    1. ambrit

      We’re talking about returning pedagogy to the monasteries and other ‘cloistered’ venues. Just another step backwards to a neo-feudal society. The next to go will be universal public education. Now that I think about it, that step is starting as we speak.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Jixia Academy was not a monastery, I believe.

        The waiting list was quite long, I imagine.

        “I got accepted…in the artist loft!!!!”

        1. ambrit

          Good point. There are feudalisms, and then, China.
          At root is the question, that not many ask; “What is education for?”
          I can visualize an enormous queue of people, and other beings, waiting for enlightenment. Then I think of a giant, amorphous crowd, in three dimensions, doing the same.
          Analogies will present themselves upon reflection.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Also, I believe the Qi state provided pretty delicious meals (maybe even the famous Shandong Smoke Chicken, this, at a time when even Confucius the sage himself dined on sorghum and millet*), in order to attract top scholars.

            “Can’t think on an unsatisfied stomach.”

            *On matted floor, as chairs had not been invented or the idea of them copied from the west.

            1. ambrit

              Lucky proto-scholars! The ‘Food Service’ I was subjected to my first year at university was, not to be too profane about it, s—-y. I’m a firm advocate of requiring the reintroduction of ‘HomeEc’ courses and make them mandatory for all students. One of the skills necessary for a ‘good life’ is good nutrition, which requires cooking skills. Another would be basic financial skills.
              As I asked in above, what is the purpose of education?

    2. a different chris

      I think the issue was that teachers aren’t getting paid like they should, not a specific question of “how do we warehouse these little people”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As mentioned above, by Anonymous at 12:09pm, it depends on the warehouse’s amenities offered.

        An incoming president gets to use the school’s swimming pool after work (presumably), and free remodeling. Parking should not be a problem.

        Even to do the basic minimum, it would cost the school district a lot, if there is much to improve in order to get it permitted from Building and Safety.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Computers are amazing, but Electronic Health Records are not”

    I’ll second that. A coupla years ago I was sitting with my son in a hospital waiting room when some guy came around with a clipboard to get people to sign up for the new Health database that was being introduced. It was only because I am a bit of a newshound that I knew that although it was being introduced, they did not have the security protocols in place yet. i.e. it was basically unguarded info. But the Minister wanted to have a lot of people sign up for it to show what a success it was so they were sending people around everywhere to get people to sign up for it. To date, I have still not signed up for it. If they want my medical info, then they can ask.

    1. Jean

      And, like all personal data, they should pay for it.

      (Unless of course you are in a place where healthcare is a public utility and is not being privatized)

  14. Eureka Springs

    as much as it is a welcome to see the younger generation taking action, social media action, a day of protests, even big ones, and a correspondingly modest ask (a gun registry???) isn’t going to change much

    I’m reminded of the 3 percent millennial turnout (general strike landslide) in Illinois. It’s good the younger kids are learning what millennial’s have, they don’t live in a democracy, not even close. Protests, petitions, voting for lessor evils are useless acts at best, often a danger to themselves.

    For now, learning to shoot and learning to duck matters. Knowing what is a lie matters. Not voting in or for a rigged, corrupt, anti-representative and violently determined to stay that way system matters. Developing an entirely new system matters. The sooner the young learn this the sooner they quit repeating the mistakes so many generations before them have made.

    1. a different chris

      Lord, no. You are going to go underground, disconnect from public life, generate your “entirely new system manifesto”, and emerge to publish it and feel the great huzzas wash over you.

      Give me a break. That’s not how human society works. I like Russell Brand but not voting, unless you can command a big microphone/TV camera like Brand (hah!), is stupid.

      1. ambrit

        I appreciate Eureka Springs’ point of view.
        You are underestimating the feelings of helplessness and exploitation the “lower” orders are experiencing. It is not so much that ‘things’ are bad right now, as the realization that ‘things’ are steadily getting worse for most of us, on into the foreseeable future.
        ES’s basic strategy, as I perceive it, is simple survival.

      2. nippersmom

        How is voting for people who perpetuate all the same systems and policies you are fighting to overturn “smart”?

      3. Eureka Springs

        Chris, If a citizen in this country wants political/legal change they should acknowledge or quickly learn/acknowledge they already are underground.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        A “three percent millennial turnout” amounts to a “97 percent millennial boycott” of the election in question. If these millennials, and other millennials who hear about it , begin to think of it in that way;
        they will become aware of at least the inchoate passive-obstructive Power of “No” which they hold in their cold little withholding hands.

        More such 97 percent boycotts of elections and the captains and crew up on the bridge might start to get scared and panicky. ” Why does not the engine room respond to our orders? What is going on down there?”

  15. Jef

    “More Than 75 Percent of Earth’s Land Areas Are ‘Broken,’ Major Report Finds”

    Meh! Says could be a problem by 2050. Who cares about 2050? I’m sure someone will come up with an app by then.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Russia faces wave of diplomatic expulsions ”

    Yeah, about that. Of the 60 diplomats forced out of America, 12 of them are actually attached to the United Nations mission whose personnel you are not supposed to touch under international agreement. The US actually hosts the United Nations and is supposed to allow free passage for diplomats to and from the UN but has abused this in the past by denying entry to diplomats. This sounds like more of the same by crimping the Russians work at the United Nations more than anything else.
    Coming on top of a national tragedy in Russia, it is not going well from what I read as it is said that the announcements could have been delayed a few days as a matter of respect. After the histories come out, we may find that the whole thing was caused by outrage over Russia’s success in Syria and other petty political reasons. Hard in any case to see the real benefit by cutting back on diplomatic channels. Especially since the Salisbury investigations are only in their early days. Time will tell.

    1. ChrisPacific

      My wife informed me that she heard an American official on the radio this morning saying that New Zealand was a “global laughing stock” for not expelling any Russians. And I did indeed when I heard that, although not for the reason that he said.

  17. Jean

    “75% of formerly productive land is broken…”

    One word: “Permaculture”

    It’s a lot of hard work and planning but it does work on a tiny, small, modest and decent sized yard.
    Been there done that.

    Large applications do too, but that means abandoning chemicals, capital and corruption.

    The most appropriate application in America is probably in suburban back yards for partial food security.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      David Holmgren was “permaculture’s” co-founder along with Bill Mollison and was Mollison’s principle assistant and disciple. Here is an article he wrote about permaculturing the suburbs.

      Here is a set of articles by Jeff Vail, the author of Rhizome ( which earned the Noam Chomsky housekeeping seal of approval when it appeared) about how to retrofit suburbia for permacultural survival and resiliency.

  18. Carolinian

    Murder by car may be a bit strong although Uber does seem to be the villain here. A friend who lives in Phoenix says pedestrians there routinely cross the street and jaywalk without looking. It could be the drivers there are so used to this that the pedestrians now assume they don’t have to look and the drivers assume they assume that.

    In other words the rules based world of self drive algorithms is up against the make your own agreed upon rules of real life traffic. One can envision robocars getting rear ended simply because they are going the speed limit and stopping at yellow lights whereas real drivers know they can go 10 mph over without getting a ticket and–where I live–routinely run red lights, much less yellow lights.

    Of course none of the above speaks to whether automated driving on busy city streets is a good idea to begin with. It’s almost like a solution in search of a problem. There are clear potential benefits to automating our freeways. For the rest of the road system?…..

    1. Arizona Slim

      Know how the crime of jaywalking came about? Well, hate to say it, but it was lobbied into existence by the auto industry.

      1. Carolinian

        It’s a little late to turn back the clock on that one. Perhaps if the jaywalking laws were enforced then that poor woman would still be alive. Which doesn’t mean they should be turned into some sort of cash cow or broken windows policing for law enforcement. I’ve talked about how lately stop sign runners have become rampant in my town because the local police are simply ignoring traffic enforcement. Traffic laws and jaywalking laws do exist for safety reasons.

        I’ve been a pedestrian myself in Phoenix and even if you obey all the laws walking can be dangerous given the kamikaze driving style of many of the human drivers. It’s not just a self drive problem.

        1. HotFlash

          Perhaps if the jaywalking laws were enforced then that poor woman would still be alive.

          Well, maybe so. But perhaps if she hadn’t been hit by a self-driving car going 40mph *and not braking*, she would still be alive. Perhaps if pedestrian safety had been prioritized over automobile convenience back in the early 1900’s, perhaps that woman would still be alive. Perhaps if traffic laws were enforced, that woman would still be alive. Perhaps if there was a BIG or a JG or decent welfare or health care, that woman would still be alive. Hard to know…

          1. Carolinian

            It is true that any human driver probably would have at least hit the brakes before running her down and Uber is probably facing a lawsuit not to mention having their program stopped and their entire self drive rationale put into question.

            But it looks like she did cross the road without looking–something we are all taught to do as children.

            1. CaptainPoptart

              But it looks like she did cross the road without looking–

              How do you justify this statement? All the evidence I have seen comes after she began crossing the street, so we have no idea whether she looked or not. One could just as easily assume she was aware of the speeding car and misjudged the time she had to cross.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I suspect the same bad actors in driving farm animals off our roads (herding one’s sheep on a busy street can lead to big fines, I believe, unlike, I imagine India, where cows are sacred).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I read somewhere that speeding in an of itself, within certain limits, is not as significant as differences in speed in causing accidents.

      For example, this is one such claim (from, under ‘Is Driving Faster Safer?’):

      Sep 18, 2015 – The main problem on roads that causes accidents is the differences in speed, rather than speed itself. While some people are going faster than other, some go slower which causes the traffic to flow unevenly. If the speeds limits are raised to comply with the actual travel speeds, the roads become safer, …

      1. Batavius

        Exactly, this is one reason that the poor lane discipline in America is very very dangerous. To prevent more accidents the police need to start pulling over lane sitters rather than speeders.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I think that article was referring to accidents between cars going different speeds on superhighways.
        I don’t think that article was referring to unexpectedly speeding drivers ( or robo-cars) running down pedestrians either in crosswalks or in streets themselves.

    3. Procopius

      Back in 1961 I moved to Los Angeles. One day as I was driving downtown the bus which had been passing on my left stopped. I kept on going and passed several feet in front of a person who was jaywalking. I hadn’t gone twenty yards when a cop pulled me over. It seems that the law in California at that time was that any pedestrian always had right of way, everywhere, not just in crosswalks. Can’t remember if jaywalking was illegal or not, but that was not relevant anyway. I think I still had my Michigan plates on, so the cop just warned me, but I took the lesson to heart. Apparently that law was later modified, and obviously in Arizona it does not exist, but I think it is an excellent law.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In some countries, the car or motorcycle always has the right, it seems.

        Self-driving cars are more likely to declare victory there.

      2. JBird

        Often it’s not who has the right of way, but more, who the Hades is not looking.

        I have had cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians almost hit, or be hit by, me because they are not ***looking up***.

    4. ArcadiaMommy

      PHX resident and avid runner/walker here – pedestrians routinely cross the street outside of intersections because the intersections can be very far apart. Since we in PHX live on the sun for 6 months of the year, I can appreciate why people do that. Not to mention other pedestrian unfriendly issues like sidewalks that randomly end, so you have to either hoof it through the prickers, cross the street to get back on the sidewalk, or use the bike lane. The well-off neighborhoods also harass their city councilman until a crosswalk with flashing lights is installed on their six lane artery.

      Also have (or had) many Uber and Waymo test vehicles in my neighborhood and I could have sworn I was about to get run over in a crosswalk.

      I would bet that the poor lady must have thought the car would begin to slow down, giving her enough time to get out of the lane.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes it’s mostly a city built around the car long after walking to get places was a thing. The streets are wide and even the crosswalks can be dangerous. They have been striping bike lanes but these are mostly useless without concrete separation barriers.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          Yes on bike lanes, we just had them repainted in our neighborhood (including the green boxes and raised plastic barriers with reflectors). However, the hard core bicycle crowd is a complete PITA. Many bicyclists swarm our neighborhood because they like to ride on the canal to get to the the hills that are in the middle of town but it’s our neighborhood. Don’t get me started on how they obey absolutely zero traffic laws, scream at kids riding bikes IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, drop garbage, and generally act like a menace to society. If they don’t like stopping at stop signs why do they insist in riding in packs of 20 in a neighborhood with a four-way stop at every corner? Makes no sense. Pedestrians lose again.

          1. Carolinian

            NC commentator OIFVet had the same complaint about Chicago. Heck, a substantial chunk of Maricopa county likely is from Chicago. For pedestrians bikes can sometimes be more dangerous than cars because you don’t hear them coming.

            There’s a “cyclists’ rights movement” and legally bicycles are vehicles but as a cyclist myself I’ve always accepted the reality that cars own the road and should be avoided as much as possible. Asserting your “rights” can get you killed.

            1. ArcadiaMommy

              You are correct on lots of older people from “Chicago”/midwest (we call them the Minnetonkians, and I have many who come to visit me every year :) ). Also tons of people from CA and TX (TX has the nuttiest traffic system I have encountered). I have pretty much given up riding bikes except on the canal and interior neighborhood streets.

              I wonder why there isn’t some sort of middle ground for how bicyclists behave (as a group, of course individuals can do their own thing)? They really aren’t pedestrians and they are also basically as vulnerable to cars as pedestrians. It would be interesting to collaborate on how to coexist in a way that benefits both groups and minimizes cars as the dominant form of transportation.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China and Saudi Arabia Show Anti-Corruption Is Often About Seizing Power Ian Welsh (Bill B)

    People have seized power behind various virtuous causes.

    Down with the Tsar. And power was seized.

    Force the corrupt KMT to Taiwan, and power was seized.

    Change and hope, and another example was set.

    The known badness of the evicted is not the place for the attention to linger; the potential badness of the power seizers should be the new focus.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Facebook Acknowledges It Has Been Keeping Records of Android Users’ Calls and Texts Slate

    Why waste good money on the NSA and Homeland security when it is already doing that?

  21. djrichard

    ‘Beginning of the end?’ No new babies for endangered whales

    If only there was to make this into a GOTV strategy for the democratic party. Then this would get unrelenting coverage. No real change. But coverage certainly. Just need some way to conflate it with the Trump administration or the constituency of the Trump administration.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China steps up effort to avert US trade war Financial Times

    It’s either they are wiser, more altruistic and thinking of the bigger picture more, or they hadn’t won the trade war SCMP claimed recently that they had won or might in fact incur more losses they can afford, or suffer defeat.

    If it’s the former, I think that would not be the first time in world history that some power backs down from a trade war. Maybe we can look to the Plaza Accord as a precedent.

  23. Ford Prefect

    Re: Casual Fingerprinting

    It appears it is “Clear” doing the fingerprinting for the airline clubs. This is a continuation of the service they provide for going through the security line without going through TSA with the riff-raff. so if it Clear doing the scans, theroretically the fingerprints never get to the airline…..but in the age of Facebook, I would not presume that.

    Some comments on fingerprinting and biometrics. When I entered the US as an immigrant 30 years ago, I had to provide fingerprints at the border crossing. When I became a naturalized US citizen in the mid-2000s, the FBI took full fingerprints again using an electronic scanner instead of inkpad and paper and also collected a set of biometric photos of the face. So in order to become an immigrant or citizen, you have to give up that personal information.

    Since then fingerprints have been needed for TSA Prechek and a transportation worker identity card needed to access port facilities. Fingerprints, biometric photo and an iris scan were needed for Nexus/Global Entry. I don’t recall the iris scan for naturalization, so the iris scan was a new biometric data piece the US government has collected. As far as I am aware, there has been no DNA collected.

    BTW – Canadian passport photos are biometric and are at a higher standard than the US passport photos. Canadian passport photos get sent back if there are any issues, such as a smile, teeth showing, hair obscuring features etc. Our family has had some Canadian passport photos sent back with a request for new ones meeting the requirements. This has never happened for a driver’s license or passport photo in the US. Possibly this is one reason for the error rates with the US facial identification.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Why do you need privacy?”

      “Do I have to have a reason? It’s guaranteed by the Constitution.”

      “But when they wrote the Constitution, why did they put privacy protection in there? What was the reason? They couldn’t have said that it was in the Constitution, while they were trying to write the Constitution.”

      “So, I must have a reason to ask for my privacy?”


      “Maybe I don’t trust the government?”

      “You’re under arrest.”

  24. Pelham

    I’m initially mystified by the apparent lack of concern by the military over the many, many deficiencies and delays for the F-35.

    Then it occurred to me: The military and the contractors apparently never expect to use these Rube Goldberg machines in any kind of battle that matters. In fact, if they get shot down in some far-away, obscure war (with battles that don’t really matter much, the only kind we currently fight), it’s all for the better as the contractors — which the generals eventually work for — will reap big bucks repairing and replacing these wounded turkeys.

    So the lidless costs and improbable complexities of these incompetent machines amount to a win-win for the people who matter — again, the generals and the contractors — and their extravagant failures really bear no consequence for the immediate security of the homeland.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      You’ve hit upon the one salve I had for my conscience in my many years working for the MIC. I figured much of the crap I was working on would never be used.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Everyone talks about these as though they are “armaments” designed to “perform a military mission”. They are no such thing. These are simply mechanisms to extract a steady flow of hardworking chump taxpayer dollars and deposit them into the accounts of offshore billionaire MIC shareholders. At this “mission” they are incredibly effective, and their cost overruns and major design flaws are features, not bugs. Watch for the “Ultimate Weapon” to be proposed, nobody to know what it is except that we must have it.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The F-35 link is absolutely infuriating and depressing. I kept thinking “wait until people find out about this, surely they will have to stop it!”.
        Recently watched The Most Dangerous Man in America about Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, when merely exposing the facts and lies about a hideous waste of dollars and lives was enough to bring about a change. But today we have Pentagon Papers all around us, in plain sight, detailing theft and corruption and lies on a gargantuan scale…and nothing changes.
        So what changed? Us. And that’s the most depressing of all.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Dr. Seuss did a great job of describing the whole game:

        The Yooks and the Zooks live on opposite sides of a long curving wall. The Yooks wear blue clothes; the Zooks wear orange. The primary dispute between the two cultures is that the Yooks eat their bread with the butter-side up, while the Zooks eat their bread with the butter-side down. The conflict between the two sides leads to an escalating arms race, which results in the threat of mutual assured destruction.

        The race begins when a Zook patrolman named Van Itch slingshots the Yook patrolman’s “Tough-Tufted Prickly Snick-Berry Switch” (a many-pronged whip). The Yooks then develop a machine with three slingshots interlinked, called a “Triple-Sling Jigger”. This works once; but the Zooks counterattack with their own creation: The “Jigger-Rock Snatchem”, a machine with three nets to fling the rocks fired by the Triple-Sling Jigger back to the Yooks’ side.

        The Yooks then create a gun called the “Kick-A-Poo Kid”, loaded with “powerful Poo-A-Doo powder and ants’ eggs and bees’ legs and dried-fried clam chowder”, and carried by a dog named Daniel. The Zooks counterattack with an “Eight-Nozzled Elephant-Toted Boom Blitz”, a machine that shoots “high-explosive sour cherry stone pits”. The Yooks then devise the “Utterly Sputter”: a large blue vehicle intended “to sprinkle blue goo all over the Zooks”. The Zooks counterattack with a Sputter identical to the Yooks’. Eventually, each side possesses a small but extremely destructive red bomb called the “Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo”, and neither has any defense against it.

        No resolution is reached by the book’s end, with the generals of both sides on the wall poised to drop their bombs and waiting for the other to strike. The Yook patrolman’s grandson (who had followed his grandfather to the wall) asks, “Who’s gonna drop it? Will you or will he?” To which he replies, “Be patient. We’ll see. We will see.”

    1. Sid_finster

      Apparently Trump now is guilty of the horrific crime of having better data analytics than the Anointed Queen.

  25. Cynic

    So the urgency to go to war with Russia is because soon the US will no longer have air superiority. The F35 is a dog and there is no fallback.

  26. ewmayer

    Re. “Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different” — Some good stuff in there, but a whole lot DNC narrative-buying, e.g.

    You can see this reckoning already begin play out across the media as the focus shifts from Cambridge Analytica’s deeds to more general concerns about privacy and the degree to which our personal lives are catalogued so that we can be targeted by anyone with a dollar (or ruble) to spend online.

    Ooh, what a zinger! Guess you really stuck it to the HitlerPutin there, Charlie! And lots of willful cluelessness:

    Now in its second week, the size of the scandal is still unclear. We know that data obtained by a researcher was improperly shared with political consultants and that Cambridge Analytica did not delete the data upon Facebook’s request, but there’s a whole lot we don’t know for sure. Is this sort of improper data sharing an isolated incident or is this just part of a systemic information-control problem inside Facebook?

    Author details FB’s decade-plus history of serially and relentlessly violating its users’ privacy, then asks “Oh gosh, is this an isolated incident?” Tellingly, in-page searches for, say, “Obama” and “2012” both come up empty.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Slightly off-point, but every long-form article I’ve ever read on this topic carefully caveats that we don’t know if any votes were actually changed*. And if CA’s “psychometrics” are mentioned, if you read between the lines, you see “pseudoscience.” So, did the CA stuff work? (The Trump campaign, it is said, didn’t use them in the general.) And if it did work, wouldn’t we be seeing breathless stories about how this or that voter was affected? (CNN found one, IIRC, and all that proved was the she saw one of the ads, not that she changed her opinions or her votes). OK, assume that the CA stuff is a ginormous scam (not unknown in the world of political consulting) or at the very best, as in the old joke about conventional advertising, “Half of it works. We just don’t know which half.” Does that mean that Facebook’s valuation should be affected? What if the Facebook dashboards are just like shower knobs that aren’t actually connected to anything? Too paranoid and cynical?*

      As for Obama 2008 and 2012, at least with Obama for America, the endgame was targeting voters in order to knock on doors and talk to voters. That’s not the same at all as showing them Facebook ads.

      * I have been on Facebook only rarely for years now, but when I see a company’s ads on Facebook, I regard it as a negative.

      1. ebbflows

        Rational choice history is in a worse situation than that of either mechanistic biology in the seventeenth century or of sociobiology today. The analogy would be appropriate if it were mainly a question of refining the theories and of gathering more evidence. One could refine theory by incorporating bounded rationality and quasi-rational choice, so as to match more closely the way in which actual decisions are made. One could gather more evidence by paying careful attention to sources that illuminate the beliefs and goals of the actors …

        The need for modesty appears in two ways. First, as I have been at some pain to emphasize, one should avoid the postulate of hyperrationality. Collective action, iterated games, and credibility are simple ideas that can be and have been refined to yield rococo (or baroque?) constructions that no longer bear any relation to observable behavior. To be useful, they have to be constrained by what we know about the limitations of the human mind. Second, because formal analysis has nothing to say about the motivation of the agents, it cannot by itself yield robust predictions. Although it is extremely useful to know that the structure of material interests in a given case is that of a one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma, that fact does not by itself imply anything about what the agents will do. If they have nonmaterial or even nonrational motivations, they might behave very differently from the noncooperative behavior we would expect if they were exclusively swayed by material interests. If they are in fact observed to cooperate, then we will have to search for nonmaterial or nonrational motivations. Rational choice theory tells us what to look for, not what we will find.

        Jon Elster

        LPS blog

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Everyone Loves Israel Now”

    Saw this Israeli guy on TV last night talking about a severe problem for Israel. Seems that destroying any hope of a two-state solution and stealing all that land may not have been such a smart thing after all. At present, the Arabs in Israel and Israeli-occupied land outnumber the Israelis and the numbers will get worse for the Israelis. There are several million Arabs so simply deporting them to another country like Jordan is out. This was an actual idea once. Nor will the idea of declaring Gaza the Palestinian state work as nobody will believe that. It is still an open-air prison after all.
    If they call all these territories as Israel to cover all those illegal settlers then Israel will no longer be a Jewish majority state which for them is absolutely intolerable. Of course there is the old South African system of establishing “Bantustans” for the Palestinians but the trouble is that the settlements steal the land resources as well as the vital water resources that would make these “stans” viable. Besides, that would mean an official Apartheid and I do not think that the Israelis want to make that a public policy is it could no longer be kept quiet. Something has got to give which was the concern of that Israeli guy talking on TV. He did not have his happy face on.

    1. Oregoncharles

      They knew perfectly well (they were warned) that that would happen if they continued the occupation, but continued it anyway, apparently on sheer wishful thinking. I assume they planned to drive out several million people – who are actually descended from the ancient Hebrews. They certainly acted on that basis, but didn’t quite have the nerve.

      Does any of this sound sort of familiar?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Prime Minister Rabin and his government said they intended to reach a 2-State peace and end the occupation. Did they mean it?

        The Likud and its Netanyahoo certainly believed that Rabin meant it. The Likud and its Netanyahoo and their agents within the Israeli Internal Security Services arranged the Rabin assassination to stop it. That is how sincere they thought Rabin was.

        So there was that brief moment when the Israel government understood exactly that and planned to act on the understanding rather than carrying on regardless. But the Rabinists were not prepared to understand the existential nature of the danger posed by the Likudist movement as shown by its brazen willingness to engineer an implausibly-deniable assassination by the supposedly “lone gunman” Yigal Amir.

        It would have been the Golden Moment for the Rabinists to take command of the situation and move to exterminate thousands of leading Likudists and force hundreds of thousands to choose between summary execution or immediate emigration. Had they made that bold bid to re-assert control, they could have exterminated Likud power within Israel and achieved the Two State Solution. But Alas! the Golden Moment passed, never to return again.

  28. Big River Bandido

    Re: 5 Weird Realities Of Composing Music For Movies And Ads

    There’s a lot of truth in the statement “there are (usually bad) reasons for everything.” In the music industry, there’s usually a single bad reason: the client insisted on it.

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