Links 4/13/18

Decline in bees puts supply of raw materials for global business at risk, says report Independent. Wowsers, I would not put this as my top concern…

India Taj Mahal minarets damaged in storm BBC

Dangerous climate tipping point is ‘about a century ahead of schedule’ warns scientist ThinkProgress (David L)

A $100 million startup littering San Francisco’s sidewalks with scooters is claiming the city wants to shut it down Business Insider. People in San Francisco aren’t bloody minded enough. They need to figure out a way to make the scooters unusable that can be executed unobtrusively while moving a scooter to a supposedly “better” spot, as in less in pedestrian traffic.

It’s surprisingly easy to make government records public on Google Books Fast Company

Does the UK public have misconceptions about where plastic waste comes from? La Nouvelle Union (UserFriendly)

Drinking more than five glasses of wine a week could knock years off life, study suggests Telegraph


Thousands of pro-EU activists take to the streets demanding vote on final Brexit deal Independent

City unlikely to get more than “token, minimalist” Brexit deal City A.M.

Revealed: the 82 ‘ghost wards’ containing 1,400 empty NHS beds Guardian (Kevin W)


War with Syria — What Is It Good For? We May Soon Find Out Down With Tyranny (RR)

Trump speaks with allies over Syria options Financial Times. Mirabile dictu, the subhead says “alleged chemical attack.”

Trump’s Rush to Judgment on Syrian Chemical Attack: Illegal and Deadly Truthout

Trump Is Blinking on Syria – Russian Ability to Hit Back Is Too Risky for Him Russia Insider (Wat). You need to read past the boosterist tone…

Syria – Threat Of Large War Recedes But May Come Back Moon of Alabama

Biggest task force since Iraq on course for Syria The Times

The German stance on Syria: Ready to help, but not militarily DW

U.S. Walks Back Claim that Syrian Government Carried Out Chemical Weapons Attack Washingtons Blog

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out of Social Media Counterpunch. By our very own “Bill B”!

Cops Around the Country Can Now Unlock iPhones, Records Show Motherboard

Facebook and the Future of Online Privacy Project Syndicate (David L)

I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes. New York Times. I cannot understand why anyone would choose to allow any outside party to have access to their contacts list/address book. This guy actually did so consciously.

Is Facebook causing the end of happiness? Vivek Wadja. Personally, I think happiness is overrated, particularly because thinking about it makes you not happy.

Survey claims that 9% of Facebook users have deleted their accounts BGR. The article is skeptical of the survey (of 1000 people, big enough to be valid if the sample was properly constructed). But it’s not hard to imagine that 10% to as many as 20% of people who have FB accounts don’t use it much, so the bar for them ditching it would be low. The underlying survey is also interesting.

Trade Traitors

Trump to explore entering Pacific trade pact he once called ‘a disaster’ The Hill

Trump orders a review of TPP trade pact stance Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

White House Plans to Escalate Trade Pressure on China Wall Street Journal

New study shows Trump’s massive tariffs will hurt the economy and cost 79,000 US jobs Business Insider

Why even a trade war won’t derail Made in China 2025 Asia Times (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

What is Pompeo’s Agenda as Secretary of State? Ask the Highest Bidder Real News

Comey Likens Trump to Mafia Boss in Excerpts of Tell-All Book Bloomberg

Paul Ryan’s retirement suggests his brand of conservatism has lost Economist. About time.

Mulvaney’s proposed CFPB reforms are bad for small business, too American Banker

Junk Cities: Insolvency Crises in Overlapping Municipalities Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Legislature proposes finding out why a staggering number of Native American women in Minnesota are murdered or go missing MinnPost (Chuck L)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Family of unarmed black man killed by Texas police file wrongful death lawsuit Guardian

How Much Longer Can Pemex Hang On? Wolf Richter (EM)

Forget About the Stigma’: Male Nurses Explain Why Nursing Is a Job of the Future for Men New York Times (JTM). This is a good sign. Feminized professions = underpaid. Plus a lot of situations in nursing require moving patients, and particularly with obesity a widespread problem in America, having more nurses who are strong is a plus.

Tesla Is in an Open Feud With NTSB Over Crash Probe Bloomberg. In Water Cooler yesterday but worth not missing. Major BS in this article. Telsa has a checkered history on fires, see this 2013 MIT Technology Review story: UPDATE: Early Data Suggests Collision-Caused Fires are More Frequent in the Tesla Model S than Conventional Cars

Why Yes, the FOMC Would Like Some Inflation Overshoot Now Macro Musings

States have a $1.4 trillion pension problem CNN

Art dealer’s death reveals Trump Tower price swoon Reuters

S&P warns of risks in leveraged loan market as deals surge Financial Times. Should have written this up but am out of gas tonight. Private equity valuations have been at nosebleed levels for almost two years. One of the pet code phrases is “priced to perfection.” That means that everyone knows the prices are also highly vulnerable to central bank interest rate increases. So the related loans have also been at risk for a while. It’s just that now the risk looks a tad more imminent. And the rush of deal is classic end of cycle behavior.

Running out of money, budget emergencies and other neoliberal myths Independent Australia (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

I Don’t Give a Damn about the First (Insert Identity Here) CEO or President Ghion Journal (UserFriendly)

Your Next T-Shirt Will Be Made by a Robot IEEE Spectrum. Chuck L: “Jobs coming back to the USA from China. Jobs for sewbots, that is, not people.”

States Could Drug Test People on Food Stamps Under Rumored Trump Administration Policy Alternet

Revealed: Secret rightwing strategy to discredit teacher strikes Guardian

U.S. judge says Uber drivers are not company’s employees

For some Twitter fun, see #NeolibAMovie (UserFriendly)Reuters

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Haley, the exceedingly sweet Golden Retriever”:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t see how you can make that interpretation at all on the two articles. The Nature one is (as you would expect), more technically detailed and the emphasis is different, but the conclusions are essentially the same:

      It is — at least scientifically — reassuring to see that the present two studies converge on the conclusion that the modern AMOC is in a relatively weak state. However, in the context of future climate-change scenarios and a possible collapse in the AMOC in response to the continued melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, it is perhaps less reassuring, because a weakened AMOC might lead to considerable changes in climate and precipitation patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

      The bottom line is that AMOC (the north Atlantic ocean circulatory system) is a key factor in global climate, and its weakening and failure has always been seen as one of the great unknowns in identifying tipping points in climate change. The recent studies indicate that it is slowing and weakening at a significantly faster rate than was thought likely by most climatologists just a few years ago. This is extremely bad news by any standards and it is yet another indicator that the impacts of climate change are occurring at the worst case scenario end of the scale for the most reliable climate models.

      1. jefemt

        Thank you, PK.

        I forwarded a link to the article to friends in the mid-Atlantic, with the simple statement underneath:

        No its not.

        Frogs in boiling water…

      1. witters

        Seems somewhat questionable relying on modeling that is “a century off”…

        Um, Models predicts X by Y, X comes earlier, but in just the way the models predict. Conclusion 1: “Uh oh, models trifle conservative, things happening faster.” Conclusion (2): “Great! Throw out the models!” – Mel?

  1. integer

    Russia to stop exporting titanium to Boeing in counter-sanctions against US – draft law RT

    Russia’s Federation Council is looking to adopt counter-sanctions against the US, under which the country may ban exports of titanium components to aircraft giant Boeing, according to Russian Senator Sergey Ryabukhin.

    “Among the rare earth metals that Russia supplies to the United States is titanium, which is necessary for the technological cycle of production of Boeing,” Ryabukhin told RIA Novosti.

    Russia could also ban the supply of RD-180 engines used by NASA and the Pentagon, the senator added.

    “These rocket engines are used not only by NASA, but also by the Pentagon on their satellites. It means the US uses these rocket engines to launch their military satellites,” he said.

    (By the way there is an extraneous space between “m” and “edia” in the link to Bill B’s article, resulting in a “this page no longer exists” message at Counterpunch.)

    1. integer

      Lavrov: Intel services of ‘a state’ that promotes Russophobia behind ‘staged’ Douma chemical attack RT

      Moscow has “irrefutable” data that the incident in Douma, Syria was staged by the intelligence services of a foreign state pushing a “Russophobic campaign,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.

      “We have irrefutable evidence that it was another staging, and the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging,” Lavrov said at a news conference with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok on Friday.

      If I had to speculate, I’d say Lavrov is referring to France.

      1. vidimi

        if i had to speculate, it would be israel, if indeed what lavrov is saying is correct. they are the ones who most want the war to continue. it would strike me as too risky for it to be france.

        the main two suspects are syria and israel. i suppose it could also have been the saudis or another allied state such as jordan.

        1. integer

          The state of Israel has kept their “Russophobic campaign” at arms length, preferring to use their US media and lobbying apparatus, and the Saudis aren’t “in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign” either, at least not explicitly. To my mind, Lavrov is referring to either the US, UK, or France, and Macron’s behavior of late suggests that France is the culprit. Hopefully Russia will remove the need for speculation by making their findings known to the public.

          1. integer

            Syria ‘chemical attack’ staged to provoke US airstrike, London pushed perpetrators – Russian MoD RT

            The Russian Defense Ministry has presented what it says is proof that the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged. It also accused the British government of pressuring the perpetrators to speed up the “provocation.”

            “The Russian Defense Ministry also has evidence that Britain had a direct involvement in arranging this provocation in Eastern Ghouta,” [ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov] added, referring to the neighborhood of which Douma is part. “We know for certain that between April 3 and April 6 the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing.”

            Looks like Lavrov was referring to the UK. Occam’s Razor strikes again.

            1. Procopius

              Well, I wish I had bookmarked it. I saw an article someplace that said the White Helmets were organized by an “ex-” MI6 agent, and they are known to have staged air and artillery strikes and blamed them on the Assad forces. I believe they are the sole Western source for the claim that a chemical attack took place.

      2. Third Time Lucky

        Chlorine gas and solutions are still, used to sanitise water / surgical applications, sewage, etc, and is, easily produced from salt. Technical skill nil and handling equipment readily available in any build up area. Area claimed hit was to about to be evacuated by groups of fighters under control of Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam — previously Al Qaeda. Both groups are USA, Israeli and Saudi Clients: So… Cui Bono – these groups sponsors. Particularly anyone wanting to set Trump on his heels after announcing pull out of US troops.

        1. Ignacio

          Thank you. After reading this I see that La Vanguardia is doing better coverage than the “liberal” El Pais. The article also depicts a change in the language used by Antonio Guterres that now even talks about the “return of the cold war” but days ago was condemning the attack with words that somehow would justify a retaliatory attack.

          Fortunately it seems it is very unlikely now.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Nope. It turned out to be the UK. See the statement at but Russian investigators have even found and taken statements from people who were in that video and it was a propaganda effort from start to finish and total BS.
        Magically, the UK even knew when Jaysh al-Islam Jihadists were going to launch an attack so as to provide cover for this video. I have read a rumour that the Syrians were able to round up about a dozen British operatives because east Ghouta fell so fast. Not the sort of thing that any government will confirm though.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Ironically enough, if the Russians banned the export of the RD-180 to the US, that would be great news for Musk and Bezos, as their space companies don’t use that engine – the RD-180 is mostly used for Nasa’s in-house boosters.

      And the Chinese would be the big winners if the Russians limited Titanium exports. They are the worlds biggest producers, although their quality lags behind other countries.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I think that the interesting takeaway from that article is at the end where it says:

      “We have a joint venture with American Boeing. It is located in the Urals, in Verkhnyaya Salda, where products are manufactured using absolutely unique technologies. We supply not titanium, but finished titanium parts. And the know-how belongs to the Russian side.”

      I bet that the Chinese paid attention to that little nugget.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And the Russians should also pay attention that that know-how will belong to Russia for as long as possible.

    1. flora

      yep. listed link has extra space in “media”, i.e. “m edia”.
      thanks for the working link.

  2. Summer

    “Four billionaires are worth more than 40% of Americans put together; this level of consolidated edacity is what gave birth to the French Revolution.”

    Just think how high the stock market will go when 4 Trillionaires are worth more than 90 percent of Americans put together.
    If that sounds absolutely ridiculous, it should.
    But I’m sure those future people will be told it’s “progress.”

    1. Kevin

      Buffet on Class Warfare
      from a 2011 CNN interview: source

      QUESTIONER: Are you happy seeing your suggestion, this new Buffett Rule, becoming more of a basis of a political battle that really has turned into class warfare?

      BUFFETT: Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.

      If you look at the 400 highest taxpayers in the United States in 1992, the first year for figures, they averaged about $40 million of [income] per person. In the most recent year, they were $227 million per person — five for one. During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income. So, if there’s class warfare, the rich class has won.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They have won.

        No need to fight.

        The war is over, or the trade war was over years ago, per SCMP.

        Then, we get this, from Asia Times:

        Why even a trade war won’t derail Made in China 2025 Asia Times

        What options in the face of that?

        1. Give up now, because it won’t do much

        2. We need 2 trade wars, or more, instead of one?

        3. Civilized people negotiate. Never mind threatening a trade war is what might bring them to the table. That is, decades of previously civilized administrations and annual reviews haven’t done much.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Poor baghdad by the bay–homeless humans, piles of used needles and now $115 milion worth of vc-funded electric scooters.

      Can’t wait to see what “innovations” and “disruptions” the tech geniuses / titans in the area come up with for…. sidewalks. I’d imagine visions of jet packs are dancing in more than a few heads.

      1. Kevin

        I’m surprised metal scrappers have not tried to turn them in for cash…
        They prowl our neighborhood like sharks every Sunday (garbage day is Monday).
        Not that I mind them, I actually wave them over if we have items they could use.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The next big idea – homing bikes.

        You put a pigeon in a cage and attach it to the bike. The bike brain reads the pigeon’s lips and plots the course home.

        1. Lee

          For the less electronically and more mechanically inclined, one can snip the hand control cable with wire cutters. ; )

          1. Knifecatcher

            That’s what I was thinking as well. A few seconds with a Leatherman and you’re done.

            Even better if you can pull the cable through the body so they have to figure out a way to re-thread the replacement.

    2. zer0

      Slash the tires, clip the cables, etc.

      How is this company worth anything? When will America ditch this self valuation model? And when will the Fed stop supporting the cheap dollar so things can go back to normal?

      How can a company that merely places some scooters on a street be worth more than the scooter manufacturer? Same thing with Uber: how is it worth more than Ford?

      Sillycon Valley needs to stop bloating their valuations, cause honestly, im so numb to the valuation amount that anything under a billion no longer impresses me.

      1. Procopius

        Yeah, I’m so old I remember when a million dollars was real money. Seriously, when I was a kid we were told that if somebody had a million dollars there was no way possible for them to spend it all in their lifetime. I figure these people are playing some game I don’t understand at all, but that’s OK because I don’t have the money to play it anyway. Hell with ’em. They’re scooters aren’t on the sidewalks where I live and I think they’re going to go broke soon anyway. I can’t figure out what the investors in Uber are thinking. Self-driving cars are at least 30 years away, if they ever become feasible, and if they do become feasible will require a capital investment far greater than their current business model, where the drivers make the most significant investment and running expenses. I’ll enjoy the schadenfreude when they go broke, too, but it’s nothing to do with me.

  3. Ignacio

    RE: Is Facebook causing the end of happiness? Vivek Wadja. Personally, I think happiness is overrated, particularly because thinking about it makes you not happy.

    Exactly. That is the precise point.

    1. Lee

      “All I want is for you to be happy”, is a parental cliche. I can think of few greater emotional burdens to put upon a child. “Happy? What’s a happy and where do I get one?” It ranks right up there with, “I worry about you.” And here’s the kid previously thinking he or she was doing as well as circumstances allowed, only to find that the parent perceives some impending disaster of which the child was happily unaware.

  4. allan

    Cop not charged for killing innocent ‘swatting’ prank victim [NYDN]

    The officer who shot and killed an innocent Kansas father as a “swatting” prank turned deadly will not face charges.

    Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old Wichita resident with two children, was fatally shot by police in December, after prosecutors say that a California video gamer called police to his house for a fake crime.

    He put his hands in the air as he went outside to talk to the police, but an unidentified officer who thought he was a shooting suspect fired on him after they said that he reached for his waistband. …

    “They said”. Oddly, what bodycam and dashcam footage exists is inconclusive.

    We live in a society where LOE can, with bipartisan support because first responders,
    kill innocent citizens with complete impunity.

    1. Alex morfesis

      Reroyalization of the sheriffs of Nottingham and other fifedumbs(as in Barney) is now complete…next up…official first nights with your bride…

      Ah…the return of the good old daze…

      Soon to follow…private electors for an electoral college which represents “the needs” of the people…oops…that is already covered by that super delegates thingee…

      Now where did I put my return to surfdumb to do checklist…

      Can someone get me Dr k on the phone

      1. Jim Haygood

        Your blood or your life:

        The practice of officers immediately seeking blood draws from those who won’t submit to a breath screen appears to be spreading, taking advantage of technology that allows police to generate an “e-warrant” that can be sent electronically to a judge for review right from a curbside traffic stop.

        “It’s just another way for prosecutors and police to use fear and intimidation on ordinary citizens,” said well-known DUI defense attorney Don Ramsell. Police could surround drivers and threaten other charges, or use physical force to secure a blood sample.

        More health professionals are refusing to become agents of the police. In Utah, a nurse was handcuffed after refusing to allow police to draw blood without stated consent from an unconscious driver. Under Illinois law, even a person who is dead or unconscious is deemed to have given consent.

        In Lake County, those who refuse to cooperate would be charged with obstruction of justice.

        “Obstruction of justice” for resisting the blood-sucking Gestapo. And it’s “all legal.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sounds like there is money for mind-reading AI robots to get into the field of sobriety testing.

          “I can read your mind and without touching, detect your blood alcohol level.”

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Finch was unarmed and was not involved in any sort of shooting before his death, which came when a bullet that hit his house ricocheted and hit him.

      Barriss, who has been linked to other swatting incidents, said earlier this year that he is sometimes paid to make the hoax calls and that there is never any motive on his end, but did not say if he was paid for the Wichita call.

      Robots are smarter than this. You tell these guys a scary story and they burn down the g-d village, all to serve and protect.

    3. fresno dan

      April 13, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Outrageous. The prosecutorial police legal complex outdoes the MIC in sheer sanctimonious evil

    4. Procopius

      I’m really not surprised if the camera footage is (really) inconclusive. It was always a false panacea. Even with people aiming the camera videos of fast-moving frightening scenes are at best confusing and usually unclear. The scenes from CCTV and security cameras that turn out to be useful are single frames out of thousands.

  5. Louis Fyne

    Miami Is Gaining Popularity As a Major Birth Tourism Destination

    It’s about Russians and Ukrainians flying to Miami. And from the Voice of America. So one can’t say it’s right-wing moral panic.

    “Jus Soli” citizenship is insane if you ever want a full-fledged Scandinavian style social welfare system in the US–unless you add a vesting/pay-in requirement like Social Security. Just being realistic.

    don’t shoot the messenger

  6. Jim Haygood

    Good ol’ moderate Bob Dole, who lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, makes a cameo appearance in the Senate for his hard-shell Kansas buddy Mike Pompeo:

    Mr. Dole, who also introduced Mr. Pompeo during his confirmation hearing last year to be the director of the CIA, warmed up the panel, which is far from unanimous in its support to confirm him.

    “I can see all you people up there. I can’t see very well, so you look good,” said Mr. Dole, 94.

    “Will you enable President Trump’s worst instincts?” asked Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the committee and a Tennessee Republican, said that while Mr. Trump has sometimes been erratic, “we have also seen that good counsel has led the president to evolve.”

    Muh wa ha ha … expecting Mike Pompeo to exert evolutionary influence on Trump is about as naive as having believed that Kissinger would moderate Nixon’s excesses. As Kissinger’s ghastly toll of mass murder victims testifies, a sociopathic Sec State can actually lure a president deep into the weeds of war crimes.

    So of course, Pompeo will be confirmed by a bipartisan majority. We’ve got brown people to bomb.

  7. EricT

    After reading the Australian article about the lies that neoliberals propagate regarding money, I started wondering how the world would of been, if instead of the government running the tax game and the Federal reserve responsible for money distribution, having the roles reversed. Where the government focuses spending on whatever the people and country needs, and the Fed focuses on removing the excess by determining the proper tax rates for the respective income groups. You could argue that interest charged is their form of tax, but that does not affect people or companies that have more than enough money to pay cash and not borrow. The central bank or central tax authority would be better equipped to identify who and what demographic is accumulating the most savings and target tax rates to those groups in proportion to the excessive accumulation. They could control inflation better through taxes rather than through interest rate manipulation.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Trust the unelected (except in the Calvinist sense) credentialed financialists to set social policy and be immune to corruption.” Yeah, that’s the perfect prescription…

      1. EricT

        You do the same when you buy a life insurance policy from an insurer. You don’t elect the board or president of a life insurance company, but you trust that they would honor your policy. If they don’t the government comes in and liquidates the company. The same could apply to the a Federal tax authority. Besides, you think the new tax law wasn’t affected by outside unelected special interest?

        1. polecat

          Who in the seven hells trusts ‘insurance’ companies AND the govern-‘mental’ regulatory agencies, who supposedly have oversight of said cos., to do right by the citizen conned-$umers ?? Seriously ! … just look at ACA ala O-care as a prime example.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Gilead Sciences is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients,” the analyst wrote.

      Sad! The bright future of polypharmacy (“You’ll be on this for the rest of your life“) is slipping away. :-(

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients,” the analyst wrote. “In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines … Where an incident pool remains stable (eg, in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise.”

      Finally someone says it. HEALTH is bad for the “healthcare” business. As if we were not aware of this most obvious point.

      1. polecat

        Yessss .. the MedicoFerengi pharmalingua is now out front and center. A derivative of their rules of acquisition !

      2. Ignacio

        The report suggested three potential solutions for biotech firms:

        “Solution 1: Address large markets: Hemophilia is a $9-10bn WW market (hemophilia A, B), growing at ~6-7% annually.”

        “Solution 2: Address disorders with high incidence: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) affects the cells (neurons) in the spinal cord, impacting the ability to walk, eat, or breathe.”

        “Solution 3: Constant innovation and portfolio expansion: There are hundreds of inherited retinal diseases (genetics forms of blindness) … Pace of innovation will also play a role as future programs can offset the declining revenue trajectory of prior assets.”

        Hopefully one day Goldman Sachs Big Dog Brother decides research policy…

      3. JBird

        Yes, eliminating smallpox was bad for business. It only killed more people than almost any other disease, but I am sure that it was very profitable to treat; hopefully a profitable way to manage and not cure malaria will be found like with AIDS.

        Who needs one’s soul…it’s not profitable to have one.

              1. Edward E

                My parents got a blonde dog when I was young. I was so jealous of that dog. So they got rid of me.

                Took the dog to a movie and everyone was enthralled at how the dog watched the film. When there was something sad the dog would cry, when there was something amusing the dog would yip with a laugh like glee. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘how amazing the dog’s so interested in the movie?’ I replied, “yes, this surprises us too, he didn’t care a thing about the book!”

    3. Ignacio

      Yeps. Ignore those sciencists knowing nothing about business!
      One never finds the nerve agent when urgently needed.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Excerpts from an NYT review of Comey’s book by veteran literary critic Michiko Kakutani:

    In his absorbing new book, A Higher Loyalty former F.B.I. director James Comey calls the Trump presidency a “forest fire” that is doing serious damage to the country’s norms and traditions.

    He compares Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to Alberto R. Gonzales, who served in the same position under Bush, writing that both were “overwhelmed and overmatched by the job,” but “Sessions lacked the kindness Gonzales radiated.”

    Comey is what Saul Bellow called a “first-class noticer.” He notices, for instance, “the soft white pouches under” Trump’s “expressionless blue eyes”; coyly observes that the president’s hands are smaller than his own “but did not seem unusually so”; and points out that he never saw Trump laugh — a sign, Comey suspects, of his “deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others, which, on reflection, is really very sad in a leader, and a little scary in a president.”

    As for his controversial disclosure on Oct. 28, 2016, eleven days before the election, that the FBI was reviewing more Clinton emails that might be pertinent to its earlier investigation, Comey notes that he had assumed from media polling that Clinton was going to win.

    Poor James Comey — just another innocent victim of the NYT’s magical-realist serialized fiction about the glamorous, inevitable Queen Hillary, which ran daily from the NYT’s initial endorsement on Jan 30, 2016 right up to election day (after which it adroitly pivoted to ‘Russia Russia Russia’).

    Believing the mainstream media is the functional equivalent of succumbing to early-stage Alzheimers. :-(

    1. integer

      Speaking of Comey, 2 hours ago Trump tweeted this about the former FBI director:

      James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and…..

      ….untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst “botch jobs” of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!

    2. Alex V

      Ironically, forest fires are generally considered vital to the health of most forests, since they clear out the underbrush. Forest fires become problematic when a forest is mismanaged in the pursuit of profit. Much like our current government.

  9. Arizona Slim

    Aw, darn. Looks like I won’t be winning a Samsung phone or a Walmart gift card.

    The good news is that those pesky popups are gone. Hooray!

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Forget About the Stigma’: Male Nurses Explain Why Nursing Is a Job of the Future for Men New York Times (JTM). This is a good sign.”

    Personally not so sure that it is a good sign. In the early days of computers there were women everywhere and the name of Admiral Grace Hopper immediately comes to mind. Then the tech bros came in, turfed most of the women out, and turned the working environment toxic for everybody else. Something to think about before making wholesale changes

    1. JTMcPhee

      Most male nurses I know are nothing like “tech bros,” who themselves are getting shafted by H1bs outsourced into their cushy spaces by the neoliberal gang. And I’ve noted before that “the nursing environment” is increasingly toxic, has always been a little toxic too (from my past comment on bullying in the nursing work cohort — nurses even have a little aphorism, “Nurses eat their young” to describe one part of it where experienced nurses, much like in Academic Circles, have that “virginia Woolf” syndrome, crapping downward and punching sideways and hazing as a “tradition.”) There are “adrenaline junkies” of both male and female and other persuasions, have been for years, but a lot of them also embody the Florence Nightingale ideals of passionate kindness and caring.

      “Wholesale changes” are already well under way — straight out of the neoliberal business model/playbook — ever more work dumped on ever fewer staff, who get paid less and less money under tighter and tighter micromanagement by intimidation, with profit-based metrics driving everything. And will nursing become a hotbed of actual CARE going forward? Or just a place to go to be a wage slave to be able to eat, for men, and women? Already there are a whole lot of “caregivers,” in the ranks of certified nursing assistants and techs and aides and particularly in home care, who are just “in it for the paycheck.”

      Hard to avoid the lures and immense energies of the people who bring you crapification

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think you need to talk to a few nurses if you think it requires men to make their workplaces toxic. I’ve unfortunately had to get to know nursing environments more than i wanted over the last decade, and one thing they’ve generally had in common was constant complaints about bullying behaviour and needlessly malign working environments.

      Related to that, one thing that was quite apparent to me is that male nurses/nursing assistants are often much better than female ones. The reason for this would seem to be obvious – the barriers to entry for a male are higher culturally, so it only attracts men with a genuine vocation, while a significant percentage of women are in nursing simply as a job with reasonable prospects (historically its probably the best career for a woman who wants to travel and see the world – two of my nurse aunts had very adventurous lives working over many parts of the globe). It would be sad if that was lost if the profession changed. The difference a good nurse can make in a hospital environment is enormous.

    3. RUKidding

      I have many friends who are librarians, which is another female-dominated profession. Until very recently, most of the top jobs and the higher salaries went to the smaller pecentage of men in the profession. It has gotten better recently, but I believe that male librarians do still tend to earn more than their female counterparts.

      Just a warning to the nursing profession. That’s what often happens. The men move in and tend to get the plumb positions and higher salaries. The women need to be alert and advocate for equal status.

      1. Pjay

        If we abolished alimony and made it illegal for a man to financially support a woman, I think we’d quickly see women earning more in the workplace.

  11. perpetualWAR

    I don’t understand why smart people cannot put together a correlation between poisoning crops and insect decline. Someone help me?

    1. polecat

      If one were to intelligently peruse the ‘chemical intervention’ aisle at their local bigbox, hardware store, or even many plant nurseries, they might intuit that much of what stands for ‘labeled instruction’, and ‘advice given’ with regard to the use of said “over-the-counter” products is Madison Avenue Toxicity writ large ! ….. with the additional PR persausion thru Idiot Tube commercials to numb the plebs into complete anti-R. Carson compliance. I can tell you, from personal experiance, how people, either throught insecti-phobic panic (OMG ! BUGSSSS !!), or general lazyness (not actually READING the damn labled instruction/cautions), that the public often uses pesticides/herbicides/fungicides in a blatant, unthinking manner !
      So it’s not just BIG AG that’s the problem … it the whole ideal of the lure of chemical progress as omnipotent !

    2. ewmayer

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

      Does that help?

  12. JTMcPhee

    Some of my thoughts about that NYT article on male nurses that I highlighted:

    Nothing much to add, speaking as a former lawyer and retail manager turned male nurse, except: the neoliberal model is heavily applied most places I know of— more and more work, from fewer and fewer staff, for less and less pay, with ever tighter metrics, under management by intimidation and fad and minutiae, requiring more and more credentials.

    And no outsourcing? The Owners are offloading skill-requiring tasks onto sides and techs and nursing assistants. Much “nursing care” is driven by profit-maximizing “protocols” generated more and more by “algos” that (Ha Ha) are supplanting MBAs even, sensitized to up-coding and even fraudulent “opportunities.” And you know the automaters are sniffing around, looking for their entry points.

    And $65,000 as the pay rate? Not sure where the NYT got its pay numbers— they sure are nothing like that around here, maybe a little over half the claimed amount. Obviously nurse anaesthests get paid much more, but nurses in a nursing home, or on a medical-surgical floor, or even ICU? Nope.

    What constitutes the worth of a fellow person? How described and measured? Does pain count? Or fear?

    So for all the best intentions described by the interviewees in the NYT piece, there’s large turnover and dropout and burnout and as I’ve noted before, bullying by nurses on nurses and staff, and endless proofs that crapification is a Strange Attractor that warps everything. Maybe it’s all just entropy in action?

    But I did feel good at the end of the day, doing something that mattered in bettering or putting off the worsening of another person’s life.

    One other thing — I came to nursing after a couple of other careers, in law and retail and a number of other things. When I went to the local technical school in 2005 to sign up for the course to become a “licensed practical nurse” (a lesser breed, in the hierarchy, than “registered nurse or nurse practitioner”) I discovered there was a federal grant that was specifically targeted to bringing MEN into the calling/profession/whatever. So all my tuition and fees (not books, another issue) were paid for, many thousand dollars. I took it as a sign God or the universe was finally assigning me to a valid Special Purpose. (Tuition was like $12,000, though at the time tuition at the private schools for the same training was more like $30,000.)

    1. marieann

      Nurses in Canada can be paid $65,000 a year most are unionized. I worked with a few male nurses but 90% of them gravitated to the high energy areas ER and ICU.

      Of course as I’ve said all along they are doing themselves out of a job. Just before I retired 14 years ago the RPN’s (LPN in US) were being trained to do work that was formerly the job of RN’s….without any added wages.
      A couple of my friends retired early as they did not want the added responsibility.
      I also retired early because I didn’t like the person I was becoming in order to get my work done.

  13. Sid Finster

    Seems that the White Helmets will have to get back to work filming the latest fabricated atrocity.

    Maybe they can cast George Clooney this time. His wife was gunning hard for a role in the presumptive Clinton administration.

    1. UserFriendly

      You’re Welcome, it’s the best Hashtag I’ve seen in a while. Ones I came up with:
      Django Unchained, Behind Bars.
      All the Presidents Bankers.
      The Poodle of Wall Street.

      1. ambrit

        “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, who cares?
        “The Wages of Fear.” Transportation Index meets infrastructure deficiencies.
        “Diabolique.” Starring a certain female politico. ‘Hillary-ity ensues.’
        “The Rules of the Game.” Family politics gone wild.
        “The Sorrow and the Pity.” Starring each and every one of us.
        I would go on but it’s time for my Soma.

  14. Jim Haygood

    From the Pew Trusts study of state pension funds [linked in CNN article above]:

    Even small changes to projected returns can significantly increase liabilities. Pew applied a 6.5 percent return assumption, instead of the median assumption of 7.5 percent, to estimate the total liability for state pension plans and found that it would increase to $4.4 trillion—$382 billion more than the current amount. The funding gap would then jump to $1.7 trillion.

    Bold … NOT! Private sector pension plans are obliged to use a corporate debt yield — currently around 3.8% — to discount their liabilities. The corresponding rate for states would be their municipal bond yield, which averages about 2.7%.

    Future returns are strongly constrained by available yields. As this chart shows, bond yields have plunged. But pension funds assume 7.5% returns will magically be extracted from 3.0% coupons:

    They know it’s an absurd, bald-faced lie. But like Bernie Madoff, who had no choice but to keep his high fictional return Ponzi scheme going as long as possible, states simply can’t afford to fess up to their full liability — the money’s not there. So the band plays on till the checks bounce in the early 2020s.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “States Could Drug Test People on Food Stamps Under Rumored Trump Administration Policy”

    Have heard the same sort of talk going on in Oz about those on welfare. The gutless media here refuses to ask the obvious question which is, if the politicians believe so much in this then there should be no problem having mandatory tests in the Senate and Parliament, m’kay? Leading by example so to say. After all, they are working on decisions that affect the nation so you wouldn’t want to have someone do the voting who was high on cocaine, would you?

    I have a few titles, by the way, to add to that hilarious #NeoLibAMovie
    Saving Paul Ryan
    Field of Dreamers
    Inherit the Whine
    Mr. Trump Builds His Dream Nation
    Supersize DC

    Hey, I just thought. In that that suggestion ‘Field of Dreamers’ the sub-title could be ‘If you build it, they won’t come!’

    1. RUKidding

      I’m too lazy to do the research and get the links, but some/many (not sure) states in the past have drug tested citizens before doling out food stamps or other welfare benefits. In the main, it was a costly exercise that proved that few welfare recipients were actually doing drugs.

      It’s the typical rightwing American playbook: let’s punish and shame and harass the poor as much as possible, no matter what the cost or outcome.

      A pointless waste of money, time, energy and resources, iow. Typical.

    2. ambrit

      The proper sub-title for “Field of Dreamers” is: “If they build it, blow it up.”
      Now, if it’s the DACA ‘Dreamers’ we’re talking about, it might be: “If you build it, they’ll have to climb it.”

    3. voteforno6

      I’d be all for it, as long as they drug-tested the people who worked at banks bailed out by the government as well.

  16. Craig H.

    People in San Francisco aren’t bloody minded enough. They need to figure out a way to make the scooters unusable that can be executed unobtrusively while moving a scooter to a supposedly “better” spot, as in less in pedestrian traffic.

    Dress up like an antifa.

    Take a sledgehammer and whack the bot into junk.

    Shove it into the middle of the street.

      1. perpetualWAR


        I sent an email to the Seattle City Council asking them how these dockless bikes add to breaking the law as they don’t come with a bike helmet (helmet laws)! Not. One. Word. In. Response.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Oh that was a lovely piece of corporate PR there. Shaming people who threw those bikes off a cliff as being against the environment, making heroic those who rescued those bikes – gaach! Why didn’t they go whole hog and put white helmets on those rescuers as well?

  17. Enquiring Mind

    Re teacher strikes. I have felt that highlighting the strike issue is a type of misdirection. That is a pretense to get at the underlying primary issue of reducing or eliminating the perceived indoctrination. That would be pitched as Think of the Gramsci long march through the institutions, but with smaller steps at first before the secondary and tertiary levels. Killing strikes would be just a side benefit.

  18. Sutter Cane

    Re: Facebook – I just finished “Chaos Monkeys” since Taibbi recommended it in his last article. The author worked in ads at FB. The book really helped put the current fracas in perspective. The breathless tone of that NYT article sounds slightly ridiculous in light of what the book discusses. The author says FB could have video of you committing beastiality while having your SS# read aloud or doing whatever the most embarrassing/depraved/scandalous thing you could imagine, and advertisers won’t care, because this info would do nothing to help them sell you a hotel room for an upcoming trip, or a pair of shoes, or whatever. Most personal information that you might consider sensitive is worthless to advertisers.

    He also talks about what he calls the “narcissism of privacy” – that people worry about personal information that would take hours of digging to find even if they had unlimited access to your account, and moreover, NOBODY CARES. You aren’t that special, and nobody cares about that photo of you drunk at a party in your early 20s even of it is personally embarrassing to you.

    The book is good, and the discussion of how ads work at FB was only a small part of the larger silicon valley tale, but worth a read if you want to counteract some of the current hysteria.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      That attitude sounds a little myopic though (especially since they’re selling political ads). I mean, sure, nobody cares about your personal embarrassments… right up until someone has a reason to target or discredit you. There’s also the identity theft/fraud angle. The idea that everyone buying your data from FB has the purest of shoe-selling motives seems to assume the conclusion.

      1. Sutter Cane

        I don’t disagree, but given that google tracks and maintains far more information than FB and yet hasn’t been getting mentioned much in the current brouhaha, I am sensing that current concerns about privacy have more to do with lending credibility to the “Russia stole the election” narrative than they have anything to do with newfound concern for user privacy on the part of the press or our elected officials

    2. kareninca

      Potential employers care about the things you list. So do insurance companies, and prospective landlords. So “it doesn’t matter since no-one cares” is wishful thinking on your part.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Wishful thinking is a kind way to phrase it. I.e.:

        “and moreover, NOBODY CARES. You aren’t that special, and nobody cares about that photo of you drunk at a party in your early 20s even of it is personally embarrassing to you.

        Unless your campaign for city council is destroyed by a mildly risque, 17 year old FB video………. because you’re female and therefore held to patently ridiculous standards when vying for public office. And then there is the Photoshopped revenge porn from 2011….

        “worth a read if you want to counteract some of the current hysteria.”

        Yeahhhh, no. I get all the deceptive SV dude-bro lies I need naturally, without taking supplements.

  19. blennylips

    Two days ago, on NC:

    April 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    Re: The Elusive Calculus of Insects’ Altruism and Kin Selection

    Peter Tuchin today chimes in with
    And here’s why the Nature article, to which I referred in the beginning, is so interesting: High male sexual investment as a driver of extinction in fossil ostracods by Maria João Fernandes Martins and co-authors.

    They found that the probability of extinction of the species in which males competed most intensely was ten times higher than in the species in which males did not compete very hard.

    What we have here is a clear example of multi-level selection. The individual level selection forces each male to invest into sexual competition as much as possible. But at the species level, those species in which between-male competition goes too far, has an order of magnitude higher chance of going extinct. As a result, most species find themselves at an intermediate level of male sexual investment.

    The stakes are high because I and many other proponents of Cultural Evolution think that group selection (or, as we prefer to call it, multilevel selection—selection acting simultaneously on individuals and groups) provides the key to our understanding of the evolution of human ultrasociality—the capacity of human beings to cohere and cooperate in huge societies (millions and more of people).

      1. blennylips

        I’m no expert. Just an avid amateur.
        I’ve enjoyed and learned from these recently:

        Edward O. Wilson

        The Meaning of Human Existence
        National Book Award Finalist. How did humanity originate and why does a species like ours exist on this planet? Do we have a special place, even a destiny in the universe? Where are we going, and perhaps, the most difficult question of all, “Why?”

        Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
        When this classic work was first published in 1975, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate

        The Social Conquest of Earth
        From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson’s legendary career.

        Jeremy Lent

        The Patterning Instinct
        This fresh perspective on crucial questions of history identifies the root metaphors that cultures have used to construct meaning in their world.

        I’ll read anything by Daniel Dennett or Oliver Sachs.

        Sometimes Cultural truths can best be told in fiction: try Philip Kerr or the duo Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo, just to name my most recent reads.

        Downplay categorical thinking, as I have mentioned before.

        I find the damndest information in the oddest places…

        1. Richard

          I’ll look at Wilson first, thanks. I just really want there to be a …. I don’t know, maybe a sociality imperative in our genes that could override our rush to extinction and provide a powerful, countering vision to death by capital. Translation: I am looking for science and/or philosophy to provide me inspiration or comfort. This won’t end well :)

          1. witters

            If you want the best on levels of selection, then it is Stephen Jay Gould, “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” that you want.

          2. blennylips

            Genes do not call the shots.

            How does this gene work in this environment is all you can ask.

            Signals from the environment can turn on and off different suites of genes and persist into future generations (Dutch Hunger Winter, “Robert Sapolsky: Fetal Origins of Adult Disease”).

            Nature seems profligately cruel sometimes.

            Given how many planets covered with a thin thin layer of slime, like ours is, must exist in unimaginable numbers in our 4D universe, I choose to believe the right behavior will find the right environment eventually.

            1. Lambert Strether

              > Genes do not call the shots.

              That’s a story elites tell themselves, have for ages, and those who service them play along.

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have the sense that it;s a tenable theory (epigenetics) that the environment affects the genes in real time, biologically. Lamarkian?

              1. blennylips

                Are you saying that elites discounted the importance of genes?

                Naw…My misunderstanding I’ll bet cauze we both know elites loved them some eugenics!

                I do not know how you can avoid the Lamarkian label, unless it’s because he was a damnable rooskie!

                1. ambrit

                  Nyet, nyet, nyet! That’s Lysenko, who was associated with glorious Peoples Academy of Everything.
                  Lamarck was a French aristo who made good.
                  And, yes, eugenics is problematic. Essentially, those left standing after a catastrophe can claim some sort of superiority. Said catastrophe can be of natural or unnatural causes. Reminds me of scene in “Seven Samurai” where the actor Toshiro Mifunes’ character, being “lower class” tries to impress other samurai with stolen genealogy. At end of film, Mifunis’ character transcends class and enters samurai pantheon. Epigenetics at work in social relations.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A question comes to mind – is a species more prone to intense male competition when the species is already struggling to avoid extinction in the first place?

  20. djrichard

    Re: Trump and TPP / trans-pacific trade pact

    I have to wonder whether Trump is finally getting the education like we’re getting from Prof. Hudson in the thread from a couple of days ago: . In effect, maybe the way to think of China is not that we’re not trading with China. But rather it’s US corporations on both sides trading with each other. On one side are corporations which outsource their supply chains to China to reduce costs, and need to exchange US currency for Yuan to procure the “supplies” from their supply chain partners in China. On the other side are corporations in China making profit by selling goods and services in China and need to exchange their profit in Yuan for US currency, to repatriate that back to the US to repatriate their profits.

    So who’s going to step in front of that train? I have to give Trump credit. I think he recognized that he would have to step in front of some sort of train and piss off some stakeholders. But if he’s learning that the stakeholders on both sides are US corporations, well that’s probably where he’s blinking.

    In which case, what do you do? Well, you seek to distract the public. Time to trot out the TPP.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From that post:

      So the United States provides other countries with the money to pay their debt to the United States by running a trade deficit

      It seems it’s more than just about trade, but rather it’s really about finance vs non-finance.

      “They have to make stuff our workers used to make, to sell to us, so they have pay American banks and American creditors.”

      1. JB

        perhaps it’s just a means of empowering multinational corporations at the expense of nations through concepts like ISDS.

      2. Oregoncharles

        That comment of Hudson’s bothered me at the time. China is a net CREDITOR to the US, by a huge margin. What they’re actually doing to repatriate the funds is buying assets, from companies to gov’t. bonds.

        If they don’t, we’ll just print more dollars to send them and lower the value of their holdings. Is Hudson familiar with MMT?

  21. PlutoniumKun


    Drinking more than five glasses of wine a week could knock years off life, study suggests Telegraph

    I was reading some stats on this last night – I was really hoping that my drinking was hitting some sort of health sweet spot, but sadly that’s not the case. The notion that moderate drinking is healthy (which is something that was once credible) seems to be more wishful thinking than science. But it won’t stop me having my Friday night drinks.

    1. drexciya

      The research points at something very different. The Dutch “shockblog” GeenStijl published a response by a scientist in this area , who showed that, according to this research, there seems to be a sweet spot for moderate drinking, which points at cardiovascular effects. Even when drinking slightly more the negative effect isn’t really that bad as what is presented by the regular media.

      What’s the world coming to, if GeenStijl corrects the “regular” media when it comes to something like this. The article is in Dutch, but the graphs should be straightforward to read.

    2. kareninca

      I really wonder about these studies. They are not double blind; they don’t even take one group of people and give them alcohol and give a matched group none. The sort of people who drink X glasses of wine a week, or some other sort of alcohol, are likely different starting out from people who don’t. You are starting with two different self-selected groups. Maybe some underlying quality that leads people to drink, also leads them to have a shorter life. Eg. maybe the people who drink do so because they are more inclined to be depressed. Maybe if they didn’t drink they would be more depressed (the dry drunks I know are pretty damn gloomy seeming). If they took SSRIs instead they would vastly increase their risk of obesity and diabetes; I wonder how that could be factored in.

  22. crittermom

    RE: Trump & the TPP
    I marveled at how Hillary flip-flopped on issues during her campaign, but it’s now apparent Trump has far surpassed her record already during his short time in office.
    It’s become blatantly obvious who now wins my vote as the worst president ever, in record little time.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I have a feeling Trump will last only one term. The money bags want consistency and Hillary is consistently awful in the way they love, so more likely to last two terms.

      So, fwiw, 4t vs. 8h. Of course, that might backfire as any sort of silver lining if he does win another term or eliminates voting as fake democracy.

  23. dk

    I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes. New York Times. I cannot understand why anyone would choose to allow any outside party to have access to their contacts list/address book. This guy actually did so consciously.

    Consciously, but not conscientiously.

    Two things going on here, one is social trust in institutions, the other is the replacement of that trust with empty convention.

    Trust is an operational requirement in an economy. But with a) no time for civic activity, b) complete dependence on commercial infrastructure, people participate reflexively, hoping the the participation they are told is happening around them with benefit them as well. That the institutions are intrinsically predatory (gotta pay the stockholders) and unregulated is so much the norm that the reasonable expectation of fair dealing has disappeared.

    How can that happen? Social mimicry has evolved the norm over generations, we’re several layers deep in meaningless social convention. We’re told to expect an operating civilization. So we’re pretending we have one.

    One has to step outside of the to conceive this, all the internal logic is short-circuited.

    1. dk

      I was going to say, step outside of the social matrix to conceive … but was looking for a phrasing to avoid the term “matrix”, which has implied fantasy-tech-magical properties. But we navigate our social trees of loyalty by making decisions at the branches… which means the matrix calculations generate the tree. This is of course completely contrary to the orthodoxy that the tree exists discretely, that it is operational as advertised and in good shape, etc.

      But actually its branches are generated, locally, through every interaction of member entities. As trust and loyalty and mutual/self-interest shift, the tree changes. We assume that others are using similar rule sets to ours for their matrix calculations… we’re become aware of the extent to which that’s not the case.

  24. Jim Haygood

    St Louis Fed president Bullard: FOMC minutes lied

    The statement in the minutes of the Fed’s March meeting that “all participants” thought further interest-rate hikes were likely to be needed was puzzling, according to St. Louis Fed President James Bullard.

    Bullard, one of the most dovish Fed officials, said Friday that he had argued at the meeting that the Fed could leave its interest rate target alone. “I’m not quite sure the source of the statement” that all members were looking for higher rates, Bullard told reporters after a speech in St. Louis.

    Bullard, one of the few doves among the 15 top Fed officials, thinks further rate hikes are unnecessary and could be counterproductive. If the Fed goes ahead and raises rates and the 10-year rate “does not cooperate,” the yield curve could invert later this year or in 2019, he said.

    Consensus: if it doesn’t exist, we’ll invent it. Or else airbrush comrade Bullard out of the group photo.

  25. human

    A $100 million startup …

    Why is no one asking the obvious questions: What is the business model? Where does any profit come from?

  26. Jim A.

    “Token, minimalist” brexit…..Sounds like some of the talking heads in the city are finally realizing that the EU doens’t need them as much as they need the EU.

  27. Kevin the Cynic

    “Paul Ryan’s retirement suggests his brand of conservatism has lost”

    I don’t know, it seems like the Neoliberal wing of the Republican party managed to do a lot of damage. It may have lost in the hearts and minds of Republican rank and file, but on the societal stage it has managed to all but crush social safety nets through the “compassionate” disinformation campaigns, allowed Neoconservatives to set up a sanctuary within their party and gave support behind their insane geopolitical strategies, tacitly supported racism and maintained the Southern Strategy, and convinced millions that blind hatred for Big Government and blind love of Big Business in no way conflicts with Freedom and Democracy. Also his brand of Republicans fostered in a Faustian Pact the Evangelical Political Machine. Some might say that Ryan failed, but I think he is walking away saying “Mission Accomplished.”

    1. Oregoncharles

      I don’t think he’s walking away; I think he’s getting ready to run for higher office, perhaps after a couple of years.

  28. Jean

    Re Tokenism in society from Ghion Journal…

    “I Don’t Give a Damn about the First (Insert Identity Here) CEO or President”

    Do you know how hard Kamala Harris worked to select her parents?

    And why the CORDS, –corporate democrats–picked her?

  29. Brooklin Bridge

    Watching PBSs “Ask This Old House,” on a segment devoted to making a “smart house,” out of off the shelf components, I noticed the message being aimed at by the interviewer was that people are slowly but surely giving up privacy for convenience. The way he put it, convenience was not something trivial, but rather a perfectly reasonable and equal counter weight benefit to privacy. I’m getting the same message from an awful lot of people I interact with when the subject comes up, even obliquely. I realize that “fatalism” is exactly what the rent extraction wizards (who stand to make the most gains from smart everything) are aiming for, but I have to wonder if the battle is not slowly being lost regardless, assuming there even is a battle more than just a tire loosing air.

    Intrestingly, the guy doing his own house and custom integrating the smart features from off the shelf components, unlike the interviewer, sounded like he was aware of the issues and hoped to use custom programming along with trial and error to make a more reasonable compromise or possibly (the interview was not detailed enough) even to ensure acceptable privacy.

    Yet another reason code literacy is just as important as computer literacy.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > privacy for convenience

      I’m not sure that’s the right way to frame it (and it doesn’t seem to be winning, does it?)

      Reading your comment, it looks like like rent-free vs. rent-enslaved (?).

      When you live “rent-free,” you have as few digital intermediaries as possible. It should be pretty simple to go from that to issues of health (stress, electronic signals), contentment (stress in another guise), robustness, and so on. I suppose I would be OK with convenience if the time it bought were the sort of time that made live worth living. But I’m not sure it is.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Personally, if someone likes messing around with gadgets and code, that is sufficient justification for the project this home-owner was going for, though in this case it was aimed at both energy efficiency and ‘some’ measure of control over privacy issues (though that got little emphasis) – which is what made me sit up and take notice. It is also true, that depending on how such software is developed and used, it can potentially become more than mere convenience – in beneficial or nefarious ways.

        The privacy vs. convenience argument was used by the interviewer (when back at the shop) to frame his discussion. I’m pretty sure that PBS, in their selection of this particular guy, is reacting to negative commentary from their audience with regards to all these smart devices that have been indiscriminately pushed as the latest ‘must-haves’ in technology by the regular cast (the electrician, the plumber, and so on). That convenience is winning is indeed what the interviewer (can’t think of a better term) hoped would resonate with the audience as a self justifying reality – cause most people feel that way– and promote the idea that privacy concerns were not, after all, that big a deal out there in the real world. He would then come away, and PBS, looking like he was presenting a fair case from multiple points of view. The interviewer was presenting this argument (back at the shop) to the red headed guy, who is basically a proxy for the audience and who in this instance was gasping about how he would never want to “touch” code, s-h-i-v-e-r, and would much rather the convenience of the prepackaged, all-figured-out stuff in advance. I would call this exchange, PBS’s version of, “Come on in, the water is fine, really it is… You don’t want to be left out in the cold do you?

        Rent free vs. rent extraction is probably a more accurate perspective from which to view this gadgetry tied together by homeowner vs. the likes of Google and such. Also, as few digital intermediaries as possible seems like good Yankee wisdom. I’m not sure if you mean to stay away from the stuff altogether, or as a general principle, in this case for developing privacy oriented home device management software on one’s own.

        The kicker for me was the home-owner getting involved in the software. If the public is going to be ruled by code, then it is in their interest to know something about it which is perhaps the core reason I mention the segment.

        Note: when I watched that segment of Ask This Old House again, I realized the home owner was professionally involved in the development of such devices which diminished the DIY value, but at least makes the point that it is possible.

  30. ebbflows

    “US President Donald Trump issued a full pardon to convicted perjurer Lewis “Scooter” Libby, suggesting the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney had been “treated unfairly” by a special counsel.”

    File under Spastic in Chief.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Do you see any positive aspects to “spastic-in-chief” as rhetoric, whether from the standpoint of wit and orginality, or from ethos?

      If so, could you explain your link-free, valueless, drive-by comment? Frankly, I’m at a loss. The door to Facebook is that way….

      1. ebbflows

        Spastic is an old colloquialism down under to describe those that have a propensity to be all over the shop. It by no means is uttered as a slur to those with genuine medical diagnoses, hence no diminishment to the people that have medical conditions described in medical terms.

        Spastic is not a medical term imo.

        I did not link due to MSM quantification being irrelevant to the facts. A momentary search would substantiate the information from various sources.

        I do understand though that a lack of information about the cultural well spring might trigger your ire. I hope the clarification helps distinguishing the lack of intent to diminish those that live with acute medical issues by association – there is none.

        Now back to the Spastic in Chief.

        Having known your words and thoughts, now going on a decade, from your own site and now the water cooler and comments at NC – [family blog] Sir….. Trump just gave a complete pardon to bloody Lewis “Scooter” Libby and all you can find grievance with is my use of spastic.

        WRT faceborg, I did state I was privacy white washed after refuting too many memes and ideological talking points. Especially with the linking of this site [prolific], NEP, and numerous affiliates some time ago. Not to mention buying two boxes of Econned and passing it around to people in positions of note. Not to mention the thousands of unpaid hours to support this blog and its proprietors.

        Positive aspects you ask, no, and I won’t make out different until the facts change.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > Spastic is not a medical term imo.

          Of course “spastic” is a medical term. It’s a medical condition, which is why there were advocacy associations devoted to it. They’ve also rebranded themselves, because “spastic” was used a “playground term of abuse,” exactly as you are doing here.

          In the NC comments, I deprecate snark that targets physical characteristics of individuals (except in the rare cases where they’ve made those characteristics part of their public persona). I tried to restrain myself from making jokes about Chris Christie’s girth, for example. Ditto Clinton’s laughter, her ankles, etc.

          I deprecate bon mots like those in your not-especially-witty comment because they are disempowering. Because they target the individual, the opportunity cost is focusing on systems. So conceived, the entire snark enterprise, which has been ongoing in liberal circles since 2003 — and in which, to my shame, I participated and was very good at, both as a creator and an amplifier — is an especially offensive form of virtue signaling, where the “smart” people, the symbol manipulators, assume an elevated position and point with glee, downward, at their social inferiors. I’m not a Christian, but I do think Jesus was onto something when he sat down with prostitutes and tax collectors, instead of the holier-than-thou, “I thank God I am not like other men!” Pharisees.

          There are plenty of other places on the Internet to invent cute names for political figures. Go there.

          1. skippy

            Again the block in response.

            The only thing I find dispowering is ignoring the pardon of Scooter and focusing on some vague SJW notion of labels becoming all encompassing regardless of nuance.

            1. Mel

              It’s a matter of rhetoric. Is the point best carried by flinging poo, or would there be a better way? The comment made me associate ebbflows with the #Resistance.
              Re spastic as a medical term, the comment did say “imo”.

  31. Oregoncharles

    From “Running out of money, budget emergencies and other neoliberal myths/ Independent Australia:”
    “The role of taxation now, as it was then, is to create a demand for money.” This is wrong, inconsistent with the Mesopotamian case this article, and an earlier one here, rely on.

    The role of taxation was to supply the palace and temple with needed goods. He just said that:
    “The development of farming allowed for the emergence of religious and governmental institutions. Soldiers, administrators and priests needed to be provisioned, and accounts had to be kept of how this was being done. Tributes and taxes had to be raised in order to make this possible. The earliest sense in which money existed was as a way of recording the value of such tributes and taxes. The earliest unit of money as a scoring system may have been weights (or shekels) of barley, in places like Uruk, at least 5,000 years ago and probably well before that.”

    It also supported the palace’s role as a grain storehouse. And the earlier article said that money served very largely to administer the substantial time difference between need and supply – crops come in at a certain time of year, but people eat year round. That’s the crucial difference between agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies: storage, which in turn creates a need to protect your stores.

    The thing is, I’m not convinced this origin story matters. For one thing, it doesn’t touch the later(?) move to coinage with commodity value. Conveniently for MMT, this earliest example used clay tiles with no independent value. Fiat money. So why did they move later to gold and silver? Probably because they supported trade; they had a value that didn’t depend on the issuing government, so they could be used in other countries.

    That isn’t how modern money works, so it’s a mistake, in my opinion, to dwell so much on the origin story. Do we want to be governed by a “palace” and “temple” (note that US government buildings are designed to look like temples)? That’s the trouble with money supported by taxation: it’s a good reason to overthrow the government and get rid of the tax collectors. There have to be other functions, or you have a house of cards. And if the theory is true, publicizing it is a good way to bring it down.

    I was taught, clear back in the 60s, that money was supported by the government’s role as enforcer of contracts: when you present dollars, or whatever, the debt is settled – because the government says so. That is a far more positive function than collecting taxes. Settling your tax debt is just another case of the same thing, albeit even more direct.

    And it’s interesting, isn’t it, that dollars have the same value for people who DON’T have to pay US taxes. Vast quantities are never repatriated, just like Spanish escudos in the old days.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Further: perfectly good conclusion. Makes the inconsistency all the more disturbing.

      And just incidentally, David Graeber is an anarchist. How that comports with MMT I have no idea. I suppose I should read him and find out, but I have gardening to do.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just to add:

      1. Barter came before money. From Wikipedia, Indian Trade:

      The term Indian Trade describes the people involved in the trade. The products involved varied by region and era. In most of Canada the term is synonymous with the fur trade, since fur for making beaver hats was by far the most valuable product of the trade, from the European point of view. Demand for other products resulted in trade in those items: Europeans asked for deerskin in the Southeast coast of the United States, and for buffalo skins and meat, and pemmican on the Great Plains. In turn, Native American demand influenced the trade goods brought by Europeans.

      No mention of money. Barter first, in the history between the Old World and the New World, before money.

      2. Wampum as money, in a tax-free environment. From Wikipedia, Wampum:

      Wampum is a traditional shell bead of the Eastern Woodlands tribes of American Indians. It includes the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell and the white and purple beads made from the quahog or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam. It was used by the northeastern Indian tribes as a form of gift exchange, and the colonists adopted it as currency in trading with them. Eventually, the colonists developed more efficient methods of producing wampum, which caused inflation and ultimately the obsolescence of it as currency.

      Now, we get to the ‘currency stage.’

      But no mention of taxing Native Americans (they were not citizens of the invaders, sorry, newly arrived settlers).

      1. Oregoncharles

        Barter doesn’t show up in the archaeological record. All we know is that stuff traveled a long, long way, long before there was money. From available ethnography, that was based on personal networks that often looked more like mutual gifting than markets. One example was the Northwest Coast potlatch; people had effective ways to concentrate valuables, without using money at all. Even had a form of interest. They had chiefs but no actual government – and the chiefs were basically those who threw the best potlatches.

        Archeology inevitably skews the evidence. For instance, we know very little about what people did with wood, because it isn’t preserved. Boats are generally wood; people must have had boats long before there is any record of them. For instance, they got to Australia a very long time ago. The first settlement of the New World may have been by boat, too, leaving essentially no evidence.

      2. Lambert Strether

        “we get to” is doing a lot of work there, seeing as how the indigenous peoples only encountered money when the colonizers brought it with them. A bit far from the double coincidence of wants, are we not?

      3. vidimi

        david graeber demolished the myth of barter in debt: the first 5000 years.

        debt first, then money, and barter only happens between individuals who never expect to see each other again or in societies where the money collapses.

  32. XXYY

    Feminized professions = underpaid. Plus a lot of situations in nursing require moving patients, and particularly with obesity a widespread problem in America, having more nurses who are strong is a plus.

    Sorry to hear these jarring sexist tropes in the NC blog: Men (a) are overpaid, and (b) are mainly good for moving heavy things. Similarly, I suppose, women are good at child rearing, and whenever cooking, cleaning, or sewing is needed.

    News flash: Most men are *not* overpaid, and many of us are good for something besides lifting stuff.

    Hopefully this is just a momentary lapse!

  33. Big River Bandido

    Re: Decline in bees puts supply of raw materials for global business at risk, says report Independent.

    Wowsers, I would not put this as my top concern…

    Perhaps not the *top* concern…but the decline in bee populations is concern for anyone who likes to eat apples, oranges, chocolate, nuts, coffee, and a huge number of other foods that depend on bees for pollenation.

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