2:00PM Water Cooler 4/10/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Chinese President Xi Jinping, delivering a major speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China, promised to reduce tariffs on autos, strengthen protection of intellectual property and mount a drive to boost imports as part of ‘a new phase of opening up’ that coincides with the 40th anniversary of economic reform initiated by Deng Xiaoping” [Politico]. “Xi did not mention President Donald Trump by name in his remarks, or Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. But he repeatedly seemed to be offering an alternative vision of global development to Trump’s more nationalist model.”

“Trepidation over trade is starting to overshadow joy over job growth in the factory sector. Manufacturing has added nearly 300,000 positions since the November 2016 election in one of the strongest such stretches in decades, [but] factory owners warn their strong run could be undercut if the escalating rhetoric flowing between the U.S. and China leads to higher levies” [Wall Street Journal]. “Companies like Wisconsin generator maker Generac Holdings Inc. say tariffs could raise the costs of its parts and materials, endangering demand and jobs. Companies say retaliatory tariffs targeting American agricultural producers could also echo across supply chains, driving down commodity prices and undercutting demand for farm equipment.”




If the Democrat donor class averaged $27, wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems?

2018 Midterms

“2018 campaigns are not ready for Robert Mueller” [McClatchy]. “Interviews with two dozen political strategists reveal that there is very little planning underway for the possibility that Mueller will make significant news this year, potentially in the middle of a campaign cycle that history suggests will already be difficult for the president’s party. ‘It’s something on everybody’s minds,’ said one Republican strategist working on races in Tennessee, who like many sources interviewed for this story requested anonymity to discuss internal campaign strategy. “There’s an unknown there. That’s certainly a fear.'”

“Democrats’ Best Recruitment Tool? President Trump” [New York Times]. “There is perhaps no better illustration of Mr. Trump’s impact on the midterm campaign than in the soaring number of Democratic House candidates running for their party’s nomination in the primaries…. The filing period has not even ended in some states, and there are far more Democratic hopefuls than at any time in the last quarter-century, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations… Beginning with the Women’s March on the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, women have been at the forefront of the opposition to his presidency. And that activism is reflected in the historic number of female candidates on the ballot.” I don’t understand the continuous focus on women candidates as such, regardless of their political beliefs and policy proposals. The current nominee for head of the CIA is a woman, and a torturer. Should she be confirmed, even if she did have to torture twice as many people as a man would have?

“Exclusive: As elections near, many older, educated, white voters shift away from Trump’s party” [Reuters]. “Older, white, educated voters helped Donald Trump win the White House in 2016. Now, they are trending toward Democrats in such numbers that their ballots could tip the scales in tight congressional races from New Jersey to California, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll and a data analysis of competitive districts shows…. ‘The real core for the Republicans is white, older white, and if they’re losing ground there, they’re going to have a tsunami,’ said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who closely tracks political races. “If that continues to November, they’re toast.’ … ‘I’m a moderate Republican, and yet my party has run away from that,’ Camm said. “So give me a moderate Democrat.'” Note that the Democrat Party is giving no institutional support to expanding the electorate. They don’t want those votes (and this would be a good project for DSA to take up).

KY-06: “In key Kentucky House race, healthcare anxieties loom large” [Reuters]. “Andy Barr, a Republican lawmaker representing central Kentucky, won his last three elections promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. This year, his Democratic challengers for Congress in Kentucky’s sixth district are betting that message will ring hollow. Democrats believe that voter concerns over rising medical costs and Republican plans to cut Medicare and Medicaid will assist them in their fight to retake the House and are urging candidates to emphasize the issue, particularly in swing districts. Republican strategists are encouraging their candidates to focus more on the economy in November’s election. When they do talk about healthcare, many Republican candidates, including Barr, are warning voters that a Democratic majority would usher in socialized medicine.” No such luck.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pompeo asks Clinton for advice as he preps for confirmation battle” [Politico]. “But now that Pompeo faces a tough confirmation process to become secretary of state himself, he has reached out to Clinton and Kerry, as well as every other living occupant of the office, to ask for guidance. Clinton, for one, has been willing to help.”

It’s a big club

How unity works in Florida:

Idea: The DCCC stops doing oppo on progressive candidates. Idea: The DNC accepts the recommendation of its own Unity Reform Commission and reduces — the ask was too litte, wasn’t it? — superdelegates?

“Cardi B’s Money Moves” [GQ]. “‘I love…,’ begins Cardi B—… Cardi finishes her sentence. ‘…Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” She nods, agreeing with herself. ‘Yes.’

“First of all,” continues Cardi B, “he helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great—make America great again for real. He’s the real ‘Make America Great Again,’ because if it wasn’t for him, old people wouldn’t even get Social Security.”

I didn’t know he started Social Security.


“Yes,” she says, nodding. She has baby-doll features: big eyes, round face, minimal chin. “Yes, from the New Deal. It was a system to get us back from the world Depression—then, on top of that, while he was president there was a fucking war going on. World War II was going on. So all this shit going on in the United States, while recouping the country from an economic tragedy, making sure that America won the war—and his wife? I would say she was almost like Michelle Obama. She was such a good humanitarian, and we both got the same birthday, October 11th.”

Interesting article….

Stats Watch

Wholesale Trade, February 2018: “Wholesale inventories rose 1.0 percent in February with January revised higher to 0.9 percent. Year-on-year, February inventories were up a very sizable 5.5 percent but trailing sales which were very strong at 6.8 percent” [Econoday]. “Wholesale data include early builds this year for machinery and electrical goods and also primary metals, all of which are part of the capital goods group and at the heart of business investment.” And but: “The improvement this month in the headline data was mostly in durable goods. Overall, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they declined this month” [Econintersect]. “Inventory levels remain elevated but below recessionary levels. To add to the confusion, year-over-year employment changes and sales growth do not match.”

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), March 2018: “There is a little more inflation at the wholesale level, including for primary metals, but the acceleration is modest” [Econoday]. “There are hints right now of building capacity stress tied to longer delivery times and lack of highly skilled labor but the pressures are still modest and as yet aren’t raising the heat on the Federal Reserve to pick up its rate hike path.” And: “The Producer Price Index marginally grew year-over-year” [Econintersect]. “The PPI represents inflation pressure (or lack thereof) that migrates into consumer price.”

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, March 2018: “Small business optimism cooled more substantially than expected in March after approaching 45-year highs in February” [Econoday]. “[T]he retreat from February’s exuberant optimism was broad-based, with 8 of the 10 components of the index posting declines, including plans to increase capital outlays, down 3 points to a net 26 percent… It was employment that registered the only gains, reversing February’s weakening in the two components as plans to increase employment rose 2 points to a net 20 percent and current job openings rose 1 point to a net 35 percent. … Overall, while the March survey results are less optimistic than expected, small business owners are continuing to ride a 16-month long wave of optimism largely fueled by the promise and then implementation of corporate tax cuts, the push towards deregulation, and other business-friendly policies of the current administration in Washington.” And: “The small business optimism index reached its 16th consecutive month in the top five percent of 45 years of survey readings” [Econintersect]. And: “Usually small business owners complain about taxes and regulations. However, during the recession, “poor sales” was the top problem. Now the difficulty of finding qualified workers is the top problem” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “Seats are pretty easy to come by these days at meetings of the Postal Board of Governors. The U.S. Postal Service’s board has been empty since December 2016, leaving Postmaster General Megan Brennan and her deputy to run the largest civilian employer in the country after Walmart Inc.” [Wall Street Journal]. “The empty seats have left the USPS with a leadership shortage… as it comes under a critical spotlight, with President Donald Trump aiming barbs at the Postal Service over its dealings with a major customer, Amazon.com Inc. But other big shipping customers like catalog mailers say the vacuum at the top is ‘a huge problem,’ with agreements set to expire and Board approval needed to renew the discounts in their deals. Mr. Trump has three nominees before Congress, but there’s no push at the White House or in Congress to get them delivered.”

Shipping: “Survey – shipowners shun scrubbers in advance of 2020 low-sulphur rules” [The Loadstar]. “66% of respondents told Drewry that [more expensive low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO)] was the intended solution for their vessels come 1 January 2020, whereas only 13% were intending to retro fit scrubbers [exhaust gas cleaning systems] to their ships and just 8% were considering LNG as an option.”

Shipping: “Robotics at a tipping point revisited – Piece picking robots” [Logistics Management]. Interesting round-up… “What’s changed in the last few years is the low cost of computing, powerful but lower priced sensors, Microsoft opening up the Windows API – it’s core set of application programming interfaces – and ‘a lot of new open source codes that has enabled new libraries to classify and utilize data.'” But: “Digital Supply Chain Expectations Outpace Reality, Says New Study” [Logistics Management]. “The survey of more than 200 manufacturing organizations found that 51 percent of respondents believe their [digital supply networks (DSN)] maturity is at least “above average” compared to competitors, yet only 28 percent have started implementing DSN solutions.” Acronym emergence (“DSN”) means the consultants are moving in…

The Bezzle: “At some point San Francisco-based Shyp claimed a valuation of $250m; at the end of March the portal that had started out offering a simple worldwide shipping solution to small merchants ended its four-year run and shut down its operations” [The Loadstar]. Impressive. “Karl-Heinz Legler, general manager for Rutherford Global Logistics, regards the exclusive focus on price and capacity as a major shortcoming of the digital forwarder concept. Digital platforms or forwarders are good for finding lower rates, but lack operational insights and can leave the shipper stranded if something goes awry, he argued.”

The Bezzle: “Research paper alleges big airlines use earnings calls to collude, reduce seats” [Francine McKenna, MarketWatch]. “The top management of U.S. airlines could be using their quarterly earnings calls to communicate with each other and coordinate restricting demand on competitive routes, according to new research. A working paper from economics professors Gaurab Aryal and Federico Ciliberto, and Ph.D candidate Benjamin T. Leyden, all of the University of Virginia, published by the Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago, concludes that when legacy carriers communicated about capacity discipline to investors in a given quarter, the average number of seats offered in an origin-destination market decreased by 1.45% in the next quarter. The effect is entirely driven by the legacy airlines, the researchers write. Although the size of the effect decreases as market size increases, in smaller markets the reduction in the number of seats available is substantial, a drop of 4.21%.”

Concentration: “Approval for Bayer, Monsanto Merger Could Plow US Farmers Under” [247 Wall Street]. “The $60-billion deal that allows Bayer to acquire Monsanto Co. reportedly received antitrust approval late Monday from the U.S. Justice Department after the two companies agreed to dispose of additional, as-yet unspecified assets…. [Agriculture analyst Mark Connelly of CLSA Americas] estimates that if Bayer-Monsanto were one company today it would get one-third of the money farmers spend on seed and pesticides. DowDupont Inc. would get one-quarter of all spending on seeds and pesticides. That’s two companies hauling in nearly 60% of the revenues…. Trump’s promise that U.S. farmers will be ‘better off than they ever were’ probably rings a bit hollower now than it did when he made it Monday.”

The Bezzle: “Uber buys Jump Bikes and enters the electric bike sharing business” [Los Angeles Times]. “We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app — so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more.” [Uber CEO] Khosrowshahi said in a blog post…. ‘We’re excited to begin our next chapter and to play a significant part in the transition of Uber to a multi-modal platform,” Jump Bikes founder and Chief Executive Ryan Rzepecki said in blog post Monday. ‘Joining Uber presents us with the opportunity to realize our dreams faster and at a much larger scale.'” Hmm.

The Bezzle: “People must retain control of autonomous vehicles” [Nature]. “[D]eep-learning algorithms are inherently unpredictable. They are built on an opaque decision-making process that is shaped by previous experiences. Each car will be trained differently. No one — not even an algorithm’s designer — can know precisely how an autonomous car will behave under every circumstance. No law specifies how much training is needed before a deep-learning car can be deemed safe, nor what that training should be. Cars from different manufacturers could react in contrasting ways in an emergency. One might swerve around an obstacle; another might slam on the brakes. Rare traffic events, such as a truck tipping over in the wind, are of particular concern and, at best, make it difficult to train driverless cars. Advanced interfaces are needed that inform users why an autonomous vehicle is behaving as it does.” I’m guessing the UI/UX for such interfaces won’t be easy to develop, and I would bet there’s no funding for it right now. This is a must-read.

Five Horsemen: “Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft carry on thrashing the S&P, while the Silicon Valley sisters huddle in close proximity to the S&P index” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (Haygood writes, Thursday evening: “Can’t update tomorrow, but here are Five Horsemen as of 7 pm tonight, along with the regular Mania-panic index based on today’s closing values”)

Five Horsemen Apr 10 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index edged up to 32 (worry) on Monday’s modest gain in the market” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index Apr 9 2018

Facebook Fracas

Well, well:

“Why Twitter and Google aren’t supporting the Honest Ads Act as Facebook endorses it” [McClatchy]. “Facebook and Twitter hired lobbyists last year that listed the Honest Ads Act under specific lobbying issues, according to public disclosure forms, but Google, Twitter and Facebook have all been focusing more lobbying on issues such as data privacy and cybersecurity. Twitter and Google are not facing the same public image problem as Facebook and therefore don’t feel the need to bolster that image politically, Drutman said.” Concentration and monopoloy power just don’t seem to be on the agenda. It’s almost as if liberals and conservatives share a common neoliberal consensus.


MMT in the heartland:

Interesting venue: A long-established progressive Democrat blog at the state level.


“Report: This Not A Gun” [The Onion (RH)]. News you can use!


“Ecology’s remote-sensing revolution” [Nature].

Class Warfare

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult” [Consent Factory]. “Hard as it is to get our minds around, what we’ve been living through since 2016 is not a battle between left and right. It’s a battle over sovereignty. Since the end of the Cold War, global capitalism has been dissolving national sovereignty and replacing it with supra-national sovereignty … corporate supra-national sovereignty. A lot of people, on both the left and the right, are not real happy with how that is going and are resisting the only way they know how to, by reasserting their national sovereignty. The global capitalist ruling classes cannot allow this rebellion to continue, not when it leads to events like the Brexit, the election of Trump, and the destabilization of the entire Western neoliberal order.”

“Washington State Penitentiary hunger strike continues” [Seattle Times]. “The hunger strike began Easter Sunday and prison officials said Thursday that about 1,315 inmates in six housing units in the penitentiary’s West Complex were refusing their meals…. Inmates involved in the strike are protesting the quality of the food, which consists mainly of meals prepared at food processing centers in Spokane and Connell run by Correctional Industries, a division of the Department of Corrections.”

“The Price of Innocence” [The Marshall Project]. Neoliberalism 101.

News of The Wired

“Harvard Study: Clearing Your Mind Affects Your Genes And Can Lower Your Blood Pressure” [WBUR] (original). n = 13. “[P]eople who meditated over an eight-week period had a striking change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism. And that, in turn, was linked to a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure. The study is small, and it didn’t include a comparison group of non-meditators. So it doesn’t count as absolute proof that meditation lowers blood pressure by altering gene expression. But its authors hope it will be seen as a milestone on the long road to convincing skeptics of the power of meditation to promote health and reverse disease…. In the face of often-withering criticism from his Harvard colleagues, [“Relaxation Response” author Dr. Herbert Benson has insisted that the mind plays a critical role in the body’s health and disease states.” Is it reasonable to believe that the mind would not have evolved in nature without playing some such role?

“When do you know you’re old enough to die? Barbara Ehrenreich has some answers” [Guardian]. Interesting… “Ehrenreich, an atheist, finds comfort in the idea that humans do not live alone in a lifeless universe where the natural world is devoid of agency (which she describes as the ability to initiate an action).”

“The Secret Determinant of Your Survival in Catastrophes” [Ian Welsh]. “The people who live, in good times and bad, tend to be the people who other people want to live. When established authority collapses, groups that already exist but aren’t dependent on that authority tend to take over; and yes, organized groups with guns tend to matter. Want to live? Make it so you living is what other people want.” More news you can use!

“No one is an island” [Science]. “My final step in becoming a full member of the Christmas Island community was to give something back.”

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (TH):

TH: “This looks like some sort of Rose of Sharon—the flower does anyway, the leaves, not so much. I’m not finding hibiscus that have these leaves either, so not sure exactly what it is but it’s planted all over the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. fresno dan

    Woo Hoo! My special Medicare ID number for State Health Insurance Program volunteers has been approved. Now when I have a Medicare question I can skip the general public Medicare number that the plebes have to use and go right to the head of the line, where I can be immediately told that they don’t know the answer…..

    Your request for a CMS SHIP Unique ID has been approved.

    You may login anytime to the SHIP talk website and find ‘CMS SHIP Unique ID’ under ‘My Profile’.

    Note: The Unique ID will not be recognized by Customer Services Representatives until the 1st week of the following month.

    Thank you,
    SHIP NPR Help Desk
    1-800-253-7154 option 1

    1. pretzelattack

      most of us have to wait a long time to be told they don’t know the answer, or get an answer which may be wrong. at least you will save time!

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        In Texas, at least, you can generally just call back after a while, get a different person/chain of people, and get an entirely different answer.
        This is Medicaid, and other poor people stuff. I can’t wait to find out about Medicare, and compare and contrast(only 16 years to go)

        1. fresno dan

          Amfortas the Hippie
          April 10, 2018 at 4:15 pm

          I had a guy yesterday come in. He actually had a ruling from an administrative law judge about his Medi-Cal (California Medicaid). I was reading the section on:
          and what is amazing is that the link ACTUALLY REALLY TRULY states:
          Screening for Medicaid eligibility under the Pickle Amendment is quick and simple.

          Fortunately, his problem wasn’t really the Pickle amendment. His real problem was that apparently Medi-Cal told him that his Share of Cost was 930 dollars (which was correct) but somebody did not make it clear or conveyed the wrong information that the SoC is used to calculate the Spend Down (aka Over the Limit) amount that was only 31 dollars for him or 201 for him and his wife (to both be eligible for Medi-Cal). After Medi-Cal was forced to follow their own rules and own up to f*cking up, the problem was that his health care plan hadn’t been reimbursed on time so he had been dropped from the the plan and couldn’t get his medications paid for (and he had surgery scheduled in the next couple of weeks). And of course Medi-Cal said it was the health plans fault, and the health plan said Medi-Cal hadn’t really paid yet….

          And even someone like Devin Nunes does constituent service – he told me he had gotten his administrative hearing expedited because of the congressman, so it looks like he is gonna have to write another letter.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            it doesn’t need to be this complicated.
            complexity is a fog that obscures the hand in yer pocket.
            during my six and a half year attempt to “get on disability”, I wrote lots of emails to my critters, in DC and in Austin.
            Never got a response until I wrote that I was thinking of trying Cuban Medicine, along with a webcam and a youtube account.
            Suddenly, cornyn and conaway’s head staffers were calling me on the phone, and wondering if i was busy, or should they maybe call back.
            The conaway staffer gave me her extension, and I kept in touch with her for a few years….I admit I wasn’t always a gentleman.
            My Cuban Youtube Threat was before “Sicko” came out, btw.
            I expect that I’m on a list, somewhere.
            Conversely, I went with my grandpa on a bidness trip to Canada when I was 15, and had to have stitches removed in Toronto.
            we had to wait a bit for the car accident victims to be triaged(nobody minded this), and then wham, bam, and I’m done…and my grandad, running around with his wallet open, trying to pay somebody,lol.
            A world away from how we did it then, and how we do it now.
            Getting 3 stitches installed in my thumb took 4.5 hours in Texas, in an empty ER, and cost a fortune.
            we’re a nation of idiots to put up with this for so long.

            1. fresno dan

              Amfortas the Hippie
              April 10, 2018 at 8:38 pm

              practically every day I volunteer my heart is broken

              1. JTMcPhee

                Blessings on you and your tribe, dan. My sense from contact with the System, as a nurse and patient and “family member” and friend of the family, is that the unstated notion is to drive volunteers out, to disable the disabled further and close down windows into the horror — which is one part of the overall strategy to strip us all of bits of money and any residual wealth and dignity and decency. Fits right in with the structure of Medicaid, when it comes to “long term care (sic)”, the part that requires us mopes to bankrupt ourselves by dumping all we have (and losing any “rights” our heirs might have to stuff like the equity or title to our homes, and knowing about “clawbacks” that only apply to poor folks) in order to “earn,” to “qualify for,” the “right” to be dumped in a Medicaid storage locker and abused and looted of the last assets we might have. With the end note being “Go die,” of course…

                Again, I see where vulture capitalists are moving to acquire the bulk of ‘hospice ‘ facilities, and getting involved (following the models in other lines, like finance and “corrections/slave convict labor” and so forth, of lobbying for legislation that helps their business plans — that is, getting “right to die with dignity” and “assisted suicide” legislation passed in more states. All out of the vast kindness of their Zuckerberg ™ hearts…

                Bless you and thank you for persevering, and letting us see a little further into the murk with your reporting.

            2. polecat

              Two weeks ago one of my thumbs received the bidness end of a flat wood chisel …. deep enough to require maybe 2 or 3 stitches. Did polecat rush down to the local fleshmen .. ?? .. Hell No ! I slapped a waterproof bandage on the wound (after applying the wonder med Peroxide), changing out w/ fresh ones when warrented. So after 2 weeks, cut is totally healed, and polecat was not extorted out of hundreds of benjamins !

              Win Win ‘:]

  2. Jim Haygood

    Crude oil popped monstrously today, as mutually hostile navies steam into the eastern Mediterranean to kick off WW III festivities.

    May 2018 West Texas crude rose 3.3% to settle at $65.51 a barrel, only 29 cents below its March 23rd recent high of $65.80. Chart:


    If crude oil breaks out past $65.80, it could run up several more dollars in a hurry. US gasoline prices are moving relentlessly higher already. An energy price squeeze is the last thing America’s clapped-out consumers need now.

    I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain,” Trump said.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        Sand Traffic towards the Permian is way up, if those highways are any indication…and about 1/3 of the pump jacks on the east of San Angelo are running, which IS an indicator.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I wonder — who among our rulers is long on petro futures? Not like wars have not been ginned up for such reasons (among others) in years bygone…

      And who cares about America’s clapped-out consumers? “The Lord helpeth those who helpeth themselves” to a larger share of the cake…

      1. paulmeli

        The Lord helpeth those who helpeth themselves

        Not a Biblical quote however…Ben Franklin said it

        1. Alex morfesis

          To you perhaps just Ben…but for some of us he is St. Ben…Sufi messenger…a man from before time itself…

    1. Oregoncharles

      Looks like a hibiscus to me, considering the tall pistil in the middle. I think I’ve seen one with the maple-shaped leaves, but don’t remember which one.

      Should have gone to Wikipedia first; hibiscus lobata has deeply cut leaves and blue flowers. Our Plantidote is a bit different yet again; there are a lot of species, plus hybrids. And you’re right: hibiscus is in Malvaceae.

  3. Lee

    News off the Bezzle Wire

    The journo intro on NPR to the capitol hill Zuck hearing was breathless verging on hysterical. The point of maximum unintended hilarity coming when the budget for Russian Facebook meddling was quoted, and I swear the guy spoke in capital letters, at ‘ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!’ Listened to the first few minutes: Feinstein seemed to be having power of speech issues. Ten minutes was enough for this citizen to remain fully informed as to the depth of bull shit in high places.

    1. JTMcPhee

      It’s all about “legislative fact” gathering. Which is always characterized as “committee members asking tough questions,” but that’s also BS. And then where’s the follow-ups, that ought (as has been pointed out here many times, with reams of low-hanging evidence, in the areas of control fraud and such) to include the FBI raiding offices and perp-walking looters to arraignments and no-bond detention pending something more than “Biggest Settlement EVAH” breathless announcements and self-awarded medals to Attorney Generals and US Attorneys and such…

      The complex explanation: https://koehlerlaw.net/2014/07/mccormick-on-judicial-notice-the-difference-between-legislative-and-adjudicative-facts/

      And so we turn away, once again, filled with disgust at the vast difference between what we are led to believe are the foundations of our Republic, and the reality. While the Organs of Legitimacy continue to grind, and the persuaders get passed in plain Manila envelopes and such…

      For those wanting the simpler version: http://www.ducksters.com/history/us_legislative_branch.php

    2. Sid Finster


      Did anybody kiss their pinky finger when they said that?

      Seriously, if I were “Russia”, able to flip a presidential election for that kind of chump change, I’d be at that meeting and handing out business cards.

      1. polecat

        “One Million Dolars”
        I keep seeing Tuco in that cave nashing on a potato, trying to convince his honchos in crime, to split the purse if they do in Blondie.
        Of course, Tuco’s reasons where more upfront and ‘honest’, and did’nt care if anyone “liked” him.
        Mark’s … not some much !

  4. Summer

    “People must retain control of autonomous vehicles” [Nature].
    “Advanced interfaces are needed that inform users why an autonomous vehicle is behaving as it does…”

    Error messages that aren’t just some number? Imagine that….

    1. DonCoyote

      Human readable “traffic idiot lights” (HRTIL) sounds nice, but I don’t see it happening. As the article itself states: “Worse, deep-learning algorithms are inherently unpredictable. They are built on an opaque decision-making process that is shaped by previous experiences. Each car will be trained differently. No one — not even an algorithm’s designer — can know precisely how an autonomous car will behave under every circumstance.”

      So the machine doesn’t know it came to its decision, it just knows it’s the right/best one.

      E.g. there is a system that supposedly identifies skin cancer from pictures as well as human dermatologists. Even if true, a dermatologist should be able to tell you why (Asymmetric/ uneven Borders/ multiColored/ bigger Diameter/ Evolving) you should have a biopsy done. The machine doesn’t “know” A/B/C/D/E; it doesn’t know why. And detecting skin cancer is orders of magnitude easier than driving a car.

      It’s a decent article, but other of the solutions presented (remote monitoring) are highly problematic as well because of the reaction time (lack thereof) involved. For that reason, autonomous-y vehicles may revert to a “when in doubt, slam on the brakes” methodology as “safest”. Which doesn’t necessarily prevent collisions, but *may* save lives, if not liability.

      1. Summer

        “Worse, deep-learning algorithms are inherently unpredictable. They are built on an opaque decision-making process that is shaped by previous experiences. Each car will be trained differently. No one — not even an algorithm’s designer — can know precisely how an autonomous car will behave under every circumstance.”

        Of course they don’t know. It depends on how humans adapt to them.
        We’re doing the “deep learning”.

      2. Summer

        Just another thing:
        “So the machine doesn’t know it came to its decision, it just knows it’s the right/best one.”
        “It just knows…”
        No, “it” doesn’t just know what’s “right/best.”
        The information doesn’t have meaning (for lack of a better word) to an algorithm.
        We give the information “meaning” outside of calculations and equations.
        It’s solutions to calculations (I’m not going to call them “decisions”) don’t actually mean anything to it.

        1. JBird

          They have done a fair amount of studying of how and why people act, there’s plenty of understanding of how to design the roads and what to teach people on driving. There have even been studies showing what’s probably the best way for AI, or programmable machines to help especially in tasks like driving; using the machine as an assist not as the driver. People are very bad at paying attention when they probably don’t have too, but car’s today can hit the brakes in an emergency while even the best system is nowhere near as good as a human figuring and reacting to the chaotic confusing mess roads often are. They found that if the human has to focus enough to drive the car, they have to deal with the variables that the computer can’t and the computer acts like the emergency backup and assistant. Lost, tired, blinded by sun glare, just had a heart attack? Well, Mr. Computer can help!

          But no, let’s ignore the studies, the century plus of experience of people driving, and that our particular model has been in its present form for around ¼ million years and use a black box to do something for which there is no need for it to do. I guess because paying people is too painful? Or maybe there is nothing else that they can invest their money in? How about ways to design, plan and get built affordable housing in California, or New York, or any poor crowded Hellhole of which the Earth has far too many. Or urban gardens/farming? You would be considered a saint by perhaps millions as well as make money and maybe even get into the history books.

          1. Summer

            There are plenty of uses for automation. Not saying it shouldn’t be used ever.

            My beef is the BS talking about machines as if they have human attributes.
            “The brain is like a computer” or vice versa is the new alchemy.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If an autonomous vehicle interfaces with its user like my computer with me, there will be many critical situations when it becomes very slow to interface (too busy doing whatever it’s doing).

      “Why are you heading towards that big object? Why, why, why, why, why, why…a loud bang…then silence.”

      1. cnchal

        “Why are you heading towards that big object? . . .

        Ayeye – I was blinded by the dirt on my lidar.

    3. Synoia

      People must retain control of autonomous vehicles

      Err…Is that not a contradiction in terms?

      retains control….autonomous?

      1. Summer

        Yep, stop all that damn thinking.
        Cede control to the “deep learning” algorithm…

        (picture stop watch being dangled in front of your face)

  5. Oregoncharles

    From the first “Trade” post: “But he repeatedly seemed to be offering an alternative vision of global development to Trump’s more nationalist model.””

    No, he was offering concessions – those proposals are just what Trump was asking for. Sounds like China is surrendering, or considering it.

    1. Rob P

      Xi isn’t offering an alternative to Trump’s ‘more nationalist model’ (as if the U.S. were even close to as nationalist as China), nor is he really offering concessions. He’s just repeating empty promises the Chinese have previously made on these issues. I’ll believe Xi is making concessions when they actually happen.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      By sounding conciliatory, XI makes a more formidable opponent.

      From Da De Jing, chapter 78 (ctext.org):

      Dao De Jing:
      (Things to be believed)
      There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it; – for there is nothing (so effectual) for which it can be changed.
      Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard, and the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.

      Therefore a sage has said,
      ‘He who accepts his state’s reproach,
      Is hailed therefore its altars’ lord;
      To him who bears men’s direful woes
      They all the name of King accord.’

      Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical.

      The last lines sound like something from Jesus of Nazareth

      1. Jim Haygood

        When your enemy is nearly defeated and final victory is at hand, gas your own people so that nations greater than yours will intervene and destroy you.

        — Sun Tzu Trump, Art of the Smear

        Shamelessly lifted from commentator ‘spyware-free’ on another forum. Meanwhile Saudi prince MBS is in Paris, draping his arm around Macron’s shoulder as MBS offers to join the US/UK/France coalition plotting to smite Syria and its Russian protectors. Photo of the smiling conspirators:


        World wars always look like a walk in the park before the unintended consequences emerge.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That guy on the left. Isn’t he the head of Lebanon that the Saudis nabbed a few months ago? He may be free but last I heard his family is still in Saudi Arabia. I bet that MBS was telling Macron that if he attacks Syria, he will write a cheque for any costs involved. In addition, when Syria is conquered, MBS will cut the French in on the contracts for Syria’s oil in return for setting up Wahhabi mosques throughout Syria.

    3. Byron the Bean-Bag Chair

      Any negotiation is dunzo on arrival. The number one rule when dealing with the Middle Kingdom is that the world must go to them to do business. For 18 of the last 20 centuries, China has been the wealthiest nation state on the planet. The world contains very little merchandise that the Han would prefer to use over their domestic wares. The exception being silver, couldn’t get enough of it.
      Number two rule, of which something else Trump has proven ignorant across the board, is that you don’t sell to the person in front of you. Everybody has a husband or wife or 19th Politburo of the Communist Party of China at home, that must be sold on the deal later that evening when you are not present. The sale, as told by person to which the original pitch is made, must sound favorable to the 24-odd member politburo planning for succession 16-20 years from now. Xi is already leading large, he will give his blessing to one faction or another based on internal political logic. And since the tariffs were announced via mutter while popping a squat in front of cameras, then it’s a polite no from the get-go. Why force a unified statement from the other side? Why put Xi on the spot? Why bother when China can continue to sell steel through Vietnam as usual?
      Three, there are very few things on which a nation-state can reach a unified consensus. Fair play in trade has never been one of them. It is personal assurances from the shareholders themselves, gained through personal relationships, that will make the difference. [Trump should learn to make one friend that doesn’t work for him. Just one. Then go from there.] Rather than take head-on an entire nation’s commodity, take on a single steel Group, the share-holdings of which are owned by regional authorities. Regional divisions are more fractious than divisions between national governing bodies. This is day-one stuff.

  6. Oregoncharles

    “. “[D]eep-learning algorithms are inherently unpredictable. They are built on an opaque decision-making process that is shaped by previous experiences. Each car will be trained differently. No one — not even an algorithm’s designer — can know precisely how an autonomous car will behave under every circumstance.”

    You mean like people?

    1. Andrew Watts

      No, puny human meatbags can auto-correct for the multitude of errors they make while driving. Autonomous self-driving cars will develop glitches that might take you down a one way street into oncoming traffic at 60 Mph because their GPS is a little wonky that day.

      Or they’ll run over pedestrians crossing roads at unmarked intersections.

      1. Lee

        Would be ironic if monitoring one’s autonomous vehicle were to require more focused attention than does actually driving.

        1. Angie Neer

          In the New Yorker article about Uber that was recently lambasted here on NC, there was a comment from one of those backup drivers on how much work it actually is. I bet that deciding whether or not to override the algo really is much more difficult than just driving the damn car.

    2. jonhoops

      Each individual car isn’t trained differently, but the algo shipped with a particular vendor’s car will be different from the algo from other vendors. The algorithms are trained and then shipped as a black box, they don’t continue learning on their own. The training is now being done with realistic simulations and the goal is to get to a billion hours of training which was impossible using actual video of driving.

      1. cnchal

        . . . they don’t continue learning on their own . . .

        That is not my understanding. The point of Ayeye is to continue learning as it goes after it’s been trained. Should be interesting times when bought off the used car lot.

        Perhaps the owner will be able to train it to cut other cars off, or when buying one the salesperson can sell you the “level five dominator” option.

  7. Harold

    I think the lovely blue flower looks a lot like that of Alyogyne Huegelii, the Australian hibiscus. You sometimes see them as pot plants here in the East Coast. They are tender, but can be grown in the ground in California. On the other hand, the dark eye and furry leaves suggest that it is another plant in the mallow family. I wonder if it is a California native.

  8. Summer

    #Honest Ads Act.

    # (hashtag): they are promoting the idea of honest ads on Twitter.

    (laughter ensues)

  9. clarky90

    I have been thinking about “logos“, the logic of existence.

    “Stoic philosophers identified the term (logos) with the divine animating principle pervading the Universe.”

    In my day to day life, I expect and receive nearly 100% honesty (truth, logos?) from my fellows, mostly complete strangers. They signal that they are slowing and turning right in their car, and they do. Or they stop and signal that I can safely walk across the street….

    I am old enough that most of my memories are gone, but, but, damn, I can remember when I have been betrayed and lied to by someone who I had assumed honesty from (my rat-bag younger brother for instance). I do remember and I never repeat. Anti-logos, Widdershins, upside down, inside out. This is the stuff of all horror stories. The “lovely” gingerbread house in the glade…

    Anti-Logos (fake truth, fake logic) is a bloody tell for the creation of totalitarian regimes.

    “You must assemble with your family at the town square for a beneficial resettlement to the East”. (Nazi)

    “You must assemble with your family at the train station for a beneficial resettlement to the North” (Soviet Union).

    People believed and complied, because of logos.

    For me, the last few years have been upending. I, more or less, had always believed everything I saw or read. Of course, I knew that there were different points of view, because of different life circumstance. (I am more conservative as an old person than I was as a young person)

    BUT, I assumed that everyone was always telling their own truth., just like in my everyday life. Logos

    Now, I see that I am surrounded by credentialed liars, all earnestly trying to persuade me/us to assemble, and docilely climb into a cattle car, headed to somewhere…beneficial…

  10. Jim Haygood

    Exploding egos in the night mix like sticks of dynamite:

    “We already conveyed to the U.S. that armed force under mendacious pretext against Syria – where, at the request of the legitimate government of a country, Russian troops have been deployed — could lead to grave repercussions,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said.

    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council that Washington “will respond” to the attack on a rebel-held town in Syria whether the United Nations Security Council acts or not.

    “We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done,” Haley told the council. “History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria,” she said. “Either way, the United States will respond.”


    We don’t need no stinkin’ security council resolution, said Nikki Haley to the death-worshiping bomb walrus John Bolton.

    1. Louis Fyne

      why aren’t liberals talking more about Syria?

      Everything Trump does is wrong—except brinksmanship with Russia over Syria. What the –bleep– has happened to the Left?

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Liberals’ have received their cue:

        “Israel strongly condemns the chemical weapons strike carried out by Syria on April 7, one year after the mass murder carried out by the regime in Khan Sheikun,” a Foreign Ministry statement said, referring to a widely condemned chemical attack on rebel-held town late year.

        “The Syrian regime continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity in using these outlawed weapons.”


        What member of Congress (other than Tulsi Gabbard) would dare oppose America’s best friend and ally in the whole world, a totally objective and disinterested observer in this matter? /sarc

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . if the Liberals and the Left are really two different things, then that is really two different questions.

        The Liberals are the Clintonites. The Clintonite Liberals support the Global Axis of Jihad ( the GAJ) all over the world. The Clintonite Liberals support the Cannibal Liver-Eating Jihadis ( the CLEJ) in Syria in particular. Clinton herself has stated that she wants Assad removed from power. I consider this a veiled way of saying that Clinton wants to turn Syria into the Islamic Emirate of Jihadistan.

        The Clintonites, the Obamazoids and the Establishment all want to jihadify Syria. That is why they all support Trump attacking Syria. That is why they all said that Trump’s missile attack on Syria last year was welcomely hopeful evidence that Trump was maturing into a statesman and a real President.

        The Left is going to have to say what the Left wants. Right now the Left is in a shell-shocked defensive crouch. They don’t want to be called Putin-lovers by the crypto-Nazi Clintonite Establishment.

      3. Procopius

        That’s an excellent question, and none of the answers that come to my mind are reassuring. I now assume that stupidity is not a sufficient explanation and that the explanation must, therefore, be “evil.” However, I may be less than rational tonight because I just saw a long video of Tucker Carlson, on Fox, saying that we do not know that Bashar Assad was responsible for the alleged chemical attack in Ghouta, that after ten months the Secretary of Defense “confessed” that we do not know who was behind the alleged attack a year ago, that this attack is totally against Assad’s interests so he would not be likely to have ordered it, and asks flat out, “What is the American security interest in regime change in Syria?” My whole world is shaken to its core.

        I didn’t bookmark it. It includes a long interview with a Senator who was completely at a loss to respond to him. Here’s a shorter one.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Nebenzia also dunked on the US, Britain, and France at the meeting yesterday. He said that they don’t have any strategy and their actions always end in chaos.

      Tough but fair.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Here comes chaos:

        UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday vetoed a U.S.-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution that would have created a new inquiry to ascertain blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

        Twelve council members voted in favor, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no, and China abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass.


        Time to form another ad hoc ‘coalition’ as a fig leaf for naked unilateralism. Looks we can’t count on the Bolivians to join. But perhaps the heroic Nauruvians will contribute a couple of soldiers and a box of chocolates or something.

        1. polecat

          Guess it’s about time to don the welders goggles, grab a roll of ducktape and some plastic sheeting, and find a trench !

          Duck, and Cover

    3. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Ah but which people, Madame Haley?

      Did you do anything when Jaish al Islam “rebels” launched mortar attacks on Damascus multiple times, killing many people? Nope, I didn’t think so.

      Did you do anything when Israel air strikes killed Syrians? I didn’t think so either.

      How about when ISIS killed a bunch of Yahidis? No, I don’t seem to recall much in the way of action there either.

      Go away please.

  11. Swamp Yankee

    Like Lambert, I was taken aback by the fact that Caity Weaver, the author of the piece on Cardi B (whom I don’t know much about but seems like a good New Dealer to me!), did not know that FDR brought the USA social security.

    Weaver graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with a degree in linguistics.

    She then moved to Gawker and GQ, where she seems to be a kind of pop-culture humorist.

    Exhibit A in the plain ignorance of our ruling 10%ers. But, really, it’s those deplorables who are such anti-intellectual rubes! And after all, Weaver’s got hers, so what does she care?

    The Democratic Party needs more Cardi B, and less Caity Weaver.

  12. marieann

    Re….When do you know you’re old enough to die? Barbara Ehrenreich

    The death panels In Canada have decided that after age 74 there will be no more mammograms or colonoscopies…….I for one welcome our benign overlords

    1. Conrad

      Three score and ten has a nice ring to it. Watching my elder relatives it appears the eighth decade isn’t much fun.

    2. Harold

      I don’t see why one should undergo stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and painful procedures when there is no statistical need or benefit from them. Can’t wait till I am 74.

      1. polecat

        Because Doctors just have to do Something !!! ..right ?? Can’t just leave well enough alone now, can they !
        THAT’s the vaunted ideal of ‘do no harm’ ‘care’ …

        I thank HeyZeus that I’ve avoided the MIC churn as long as I have ..

    3. Chris

      …although, to be fair marieann, that decision is probably based on an assessment of diminishing benefit.

      If you’ve lived to 74 without developing breast cancer or colon cancer, you’re almost certainly in that genetically blessed clean living group who are unlikely to ever get it.

      And in any case, intensive medical screening isn’t always as beneficial as the medical industrial complex would like you to believe.

      1. marieann

        I will welcome my 74th birthday when I will no longer be hounded to go for these procedures.
        The prep for colonoscopy is horrendous

    4. Lemmy Caution

      To be fair, the Canadian colonoscopy age-limit guidelines do not apply to high-risk patients who have symptoms or a family history of the disease.

      The mamography guidelines say mamograms are available for those over 75:

      If you are age 75+:
      You are encouraged to talk to your doctor about the benefits and limitations of mammography.
      If screening mammography is chosen, it is available every two to three years. A doctor’s referral is not needed but is recommended.

    5. Jen

      I had a merry old time during my latest wellness visit with my primary care physician debating the merits of mammograms. I have a math based objection to them, you see.

      As we were going back and forth over subjective criteria (her: “how will you feel if you find out if you have cancer?”, me: “sh!t happens. not having a mammogram doesn’t cause cancer), she said “we just got this new shared decision making tool. why don’t we look at it?”

      So she opens it up on the computer screen, I take one look at the stats and tell her it’s making my argument for me. Looky here: if 1000 women in my age group get mammograms every year, 30 will be diagnosed with cancer, or put another way, 970 will not. That’s 97%. I’ll take those odds all day long.

      And further, 6 out of 1000 diagnosed by mammogram die from cancer, vs 7 out of 1000 diagnosed by some other means.

      And most importantly, 610 out of 1000 will receive a false positive result.

      So, to sum it up, based on these numbers I have a 3% chance of being diagnosed with cancer, there’s no difference in the outcome that I care about (death), and I have a 61% chance of receiving a falls positive result.

      Now really, why the hell would I do this?

      My primary care doctor laughed and said she loved learning things from her patients.

      I said no to the colonoscopy as well.

      1. none

        Wait, what, I don’t follow that math. 1000 women diagnosed with cancer by mammogram.

        610 of those are false positives => they take another test and find out they don’t cancer after all, whew, back to normal. Doesn’t seem so bad.

        390 actually do have cancer. Let’s hope all 390 of them get some kind of treatment. Of the 390, 6 die of cancer anyway. Does that not mean the other 384 (or at least most of them) were treated successfully? How many would die if the cancer was left untreated?

        Also, it sounds like the mammogram picks up actual cancer in roughly 1% of the patients tested (39% of 3%), and the test is normally repeated every year. So that sounds like of a cohort taking the mammogram annually for 30 years, about 30% will eventually get cancer and have it detected. I dunno that the actual number is anything like 30%, but I think it is awfully high in any case.

        Worst case scenario (this is consistent with the numbers you posted, but not required by them): it sounds like over a 30 year period with no mammograms, you might have as much as 30% chance of getting cancer and dying of it. With the mammograms, you still have 30% chance of getting cancer, but by having it caught early and treated, your chance of dying of it goes to below 1%.

        In the latter model, the mammogram definitely sounds like a good deal. But, there is too much data missing from the original description to know what the right model is.

        1. Harold

          Also, they say there is little benefit in the form of lowered mortality from discovering and treating it early as opposed to later, though I am not up on the latest research.

    1. allan

      One of the many scandals-by-omission of the O regime was not investigating whether the American branch of Murdoch’s empire engaged in the same sort of phone-hacking, cop-bribing sleaze that its British media did.

    2. flora

      Are the globalists in the US and the UK staging a putsch? Syria has been a sore spot for years. But Trump tariffs coinciding with fbi raids and now this after the Brexit votes? Probably all a coincidence.

      1. dcblogger

        huh? Tump and Murdoch are criminals who are finally facing some much overdue accountability.

  13. Leftcoastindie

    The picture of the day looks like it might be a geranium, Couldn’t tell you what kind though.

    1. SLB

      Agreed, I think it’s a geranium. It reminds me a bit of the cranesbills we have in Alaska, though I’m sure it’s a different species.

  14. Altandmain

    The Guardian has a good article today.

    Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals – Stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power


    The Guardian is far from perfect (they are quite anti Sanders and anti Cobryn in their coverage), but they dk sometimes allow some decent articles.

    1. johnnygl

      Yes, very good. We’re not going to save ourselves by swearing off reproducing and going vegan.

      Yves has said a comparable mobilization to that of WWII is needed. Retro-fitting housing, commercial buildings. Big public transport investments. She’s probably close to the mark. Some of those environmental restoration projects from the New Deal would be a big help, too. We know much more today to make them more effective than we did back then.

  15. Synoia

    The Bezzle: “Uber buys Jump Bikes and enters the electric bike sharing business”

    And Uber announces that it will develop a new, non lethal, self driving electric bicycle, not even dependent on the riders ability to balance on the bicycle (aka the UberTrike). The Uber Trike will be able to jump away from dangerous vehicles on the road in a single bound.

    The recognition of “dangerous vehicle’ is currently assigned to the same programming group at Uber who developed the very successful “pedestrian accident routines” for Uber self driving cars, and are noted for their successful trials in Arizona.

  16. Wukchumni

    “The Secret Determinant of Your Survival in Catastrophes”
    L.A. is an incredibly anonymous city, and in my experience it was pretty common for people to not know their neighbors quite often, and sooner or later the big one is gonna hit, and there being not much in the way of social networking on a up close and personal basis sans internet, it’ll be an incredibly awkward time to have to need those neighbor’s assistance when you don’t even know their names after living nearby for a long time. Could get messy.

    1. JBird

      The Bay Area is like too. I can just see ten million people all looking to get new best friends the Day After.

      1. polecat

        Well, if things get hinky …. bigly like, in Syria, then we might all have our chance to find out just how ‘friended’ we can be.

    1. hunkerdown

      Kucinich used the “access” weasel-word on his website’s issues page in regards to health care. I don’t necessarily fully trust him anymore.

  17. Wukchumni

    Isn’t a loyalty oath something the McCarthyist other side would do, or is the Florida donkey show just beating them to it?

    1. flora

      Aside from the ‘John Foster Dulles’ aspect of this nonsense, surely if they can require a paper hand-signed loyalty oath they can also require and support paper ballots hand-marked and counted in public.

    2. JBird

      It does not matter what Party as they both ended with “better dead than Red” and loyalty oaths and statements saying one was never a member of the Communist Party. Loyalty oaths were quite common in the United States. Californians including teachers and other government workers had to say them. Although this pledge of loyalty to the Party is not only petty, it has a certain familiar ring to it.

  18. Spring Texan

    I too decline mammograms. They increase your chance of being treated for something that might have never troubled you, with only a small upside. I would never get one unless I had a symptom or lump — which I would NOT ignore. (And the one time I did get one because I did have a weird symptom – shooting pains in one breast – it sure hurt!!)

    On colonoscopy, I choose to get an annual fecal immunochemical test ( http://www.insuretest.com/patient/how-to-use.php ). If it’s positive, I’ll get the colonoscopy. So far, it’s always been negative, and it’s easy, done at home, and you mail it in. A very good option.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Tonight Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz is having dinner with Potus, according to Maggie Haberman of the NYT. Dersh already vented to the Daily Mail:

    It’s likely that the DOJ convinced a judge that [Trump’s lawyer Michael] Cohen had documents showing evidence of a crime. But even so, the Harvard professor said, those documents could have been privately subpoenaed.

    He compared Monday’s document dragnet to government surveillance of a confession heard by a priest, a patient’s discussion with her doctor, or a husband and wife talking about their sex life.

    ‘The government simply has no right to this material,’ he said. ‘If this were Hillary Clinton [having her lawyer’s office raided], the ACLU would be on every TV station in America jumping up and down,’ he protested.


    If Dersh succeeds in riling up Trump sufficiently, tomorrow the ax may fall on Rosenstein, Mueller, Sessions, and anybody else who incurred Potus’s wrath. Time for a purge that cleanses. :-)

  20. JBird

    About that Onion story on training police to able to tell a black man’s empty hand or the wallet/phone/pipe/?? in someone else’s hand is not a gun. A few years back when yet another cellphone user was shot dead somebody(s) brought-up the very, very, very,very rare almost mythical cell phone gun (think a modern handmade derringer 1-2 shots and zilch range) as the reason why the police must always terrified for their very lives.

    Anyways, I went looking for examples to post of both the excuses and the cell phone gun; I discovered some entrepreneur thought making them commercially was a most excellent idea! It’s not like we don’t have enough paranoia, fear, and insanity in our lives. Right?

  21. aliteralmind

    Regarding the Kelton debt clock podcast: http://www.eclectablog.com/2018/04/episode-78-burn-the-debt-clock-with-special-guest-economist-stephanie-kelton.html

    The first half of this podcast is excellent. Particularly the “decoupling the what we want and how to pay for it fights” part.

    I have one problem with one of things the hosts say, however. And even a little bit of a problem with Kelton herself in response to it. They ask Kelton, “How do Democrats not get jammed up by the deficit issue the next time they actually have power?”

    I would bet my life on the fact that the Democrats have no interest whatsoever in educating the populace with accurate MMT. As far as the powerless are concerned, the Democrats are not good faith actors. They and their donors get almost as much benefit in keeping the people ignorant and misinformed as Republicans.

    I think it is dangerous to assume that “once the Democrats take power” that all of our MMT woes will be over. We need to fight the Democratic Party as hard if not harder than the Republican Party. Educating people on MMT is part of that fight. Unless I am missing something big, they are not our allies in our efforts to teach people MMT.

    I know Kelton is not in a position of being an activist. She can’t allow herself to get publicly angry that both parties are so blatantly misinforming us. (I’m a little bit in awe of how consistently calm and patient she is.) But to pretend that the Democrats are somehow on our side and are only reluctantly misinforming us about MMT…I have a real problem with that. We need to respect the enemy, but we can’t pretend that they’re NOT the enemy.

    Am I crazy? Is there evidence to confirm or refute what I’m saying here?

    1. JBird

      You are not crazy. Some politicians honestly worry about the, some know that they do not have to, and far too many do not give a fig about deficits, except as a tool to beat the other party, or to block what ever programs or laws their financial bosses care about.

      When George Bush the Younger became President the deficit was going down because of laws, agreements, and budgets put together by the previously Congress and the Clinton Administration, but as soon as he sat in the Oval Office, tax cuts, and a few wars that have not been paid for happened (in every other major war they raised taxes, like upto 90% plus). Both parties have used the cost of a single payer or some other national guaranteed national healthcare to block it. But the Pentagon and all the wars it is running, it’s not a concern.

  22. ChrisPacific

    Ha. The Ian Welsh recommendation is something I am actually good at. I was quite an effective player of Neptune’s Pride (a winner takes all strategy game with lots of Survivor-like plotting and intrigue). My strategy was making sure that I was everybody’s second choice to win the game.

    Ian Welsh seems to have gone full Mad Max on us. I am not sure I am ready to follow him just yet. Even if he turns out to be right, I think I might rather enjoy the years I have remaining than bone up on my knife fighting skills and Long Pig recipes.

    1. JBird

      This is a problem. Ruining one’s time on whatever unpleasant disaster is likely but not guaranteed, or actually doing something that makes life worth living? If one does the former, what’s the point if life sucks and if the latter, you might lose that life you are enjoying?

  23. XXYY


    A welcome step back from mindless cheerleading, though only a small step.

    This is interesting:

    In our view, some form of human intervention will always be required. Driverless cars should be treated much like aircraft, in which the involvement of people is required despite such systems being highly automated.

    I agree with this in principle, though there is obviously a great difference between cars and aircraft. The former are a consumer product that can be operated by anyone with minimal skills, whereas a plane requires substantial certification and training which most people would not or could not pass, and requires a serious operator in good health, often two. A car participates in a chaotic road and traffic environment and can crash in a half second, while a plane has nothing but air to contend with and normally has many seconds or minutes of safety margin on all sides. Cars are sold in the hundreds of millions and are thick on the ground, while planes are expensive and rare. Planes are carefully maintained by certified mechanics; cars are …. not.

    Also, of course, “human intervention” presumably means the human is expected to be constantly alert, attentive, and able to take over and do something constructive in a fraction of a second. It also assumes the human will *know* he needs to take over. I assume most AV crashes will take place when the control system is unaware there’s a problem, e.g., the Tesla that confused a truck with the sky. The default assumption for the human operator will of course be that the car knows what it’s doing at any given time, and presumably the car will think so too. The realization by the human that the car is confused or broken will come far too late to avert a crash (and perhaps only afterwards).

    So I don’t think this is a case where a human can possibly be an effective backstop for a failed computer, even though this is a hotly debated “safety feature.”

    This quote (which Lambert pulled out) is interesting:

    … deep-learning algorithms are inherently unpredictable. They are built on an opaque decision-making process that is shaped by previous experiences. Each car will be trained differently. No one — not even an algorithm’s designer — can know precisely how an autonomous car will behave under every circumstance. No law specifies how much training is needed before a deep-learning car can be deemed safe, nor what that training should be. Cars from different manufacturers could react in contrasting ways in an emergency. One might swerve around an obstacle; another might slam on the brakes. Rare traffic events, such as a truck tipping over in the wind, are of particular concern and, at best, make it difficult to train driverless cars.

    Of course, this paragraph could also be written about human drivers. But it badly undermines the big argument for AVs, namely that they will act more predictably and safely *by design* than human drivers. The fact is, AI decision making is famously opaque, and we don’t have a clear idea of *what* they will do in any situation. Especially if their AI training continues after purchase, each car will develop its own unique ideation and set of responses. An AV that “learns” to drive in Arizona may turn out to be incredibly dangerous in Manhattan. So it seems like we’re talking about just replacing one dangerous and unpredictable control system with another.

    1. JBird

      So I don’t think this is a case where a human can possibly be an effective backstop for a failed computer, even though this is a hotly debated “safety feature.”

      All I have read of subject suggest that the AI should be the backstop. It’s doable to make effective systems for that right now. So why is so much being made to do the effectively impossible instead of very useful doable?

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