2:00PM Water Cooler 5/22/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I got wrapped round the axle on Politico’s Sanders hit piece, so I will be back in a bit with a more complete Water Cooler. In the mean time, talk amongst yourselves. Here’s a link I was going to file under Wired: How to Have Lucid Dreams. Any lucid dreamers in the commentariat? Working on the assumption that we’re in fact lucid when awake? –lambert UPDATE 4:40PM Done.




“Trump tries to amass local army for 2020” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump is amassing an army of political insiders for 2020 — all without leaving the White House. The Trump administration has hosted 14 “state days” over the past few months, inviting county commissioners of both parties to come through for tours and meet senior administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.” Smart.


Here we go again:

If the Democrats were serious about “A Better Deal,” they would have been cranking out talking points on it since the day it was launched.

Maybe Schumer and Pelosi’s brain trust looked at the polls? Or their internal polling gave the same result?

I don’t get it. What does a “progressive agenda” have to do with Russia?

Brazile on message, right on cue:

“There Will Be a Backlash”: Will the Bernie Democrats Risk the House?” [Vanity Fair]. “Working under the radar, national Democratic groups can certainly pull some levers that help particular candidates, and may even flip some purple districts. Ellen Zeng, the Democratic political director at With Honor, a super PAC that supports veterans running for office, candidly described to me how party committees will direct money, facilitate valuable endorsements, share research with chosen candidates, and train up their staffs in order to tip the scales. But there is only so much they can do to guide’s democracy’s hand. When party leaders have tried to be more publicly forceful about imposing their will, it has almost always backfired.” So, the Democrat brand is so toxic, leadership has to work in secret?

“House Ratings Changes: GOP Fortunes Improve in Four Districts” [Cook Political Report]. “California’s June 5 primary is the single highest-stakes primary of the year. With two weeks to go, Democrats are still at some risk of getting “locked out” by the top-two primary in several key districts, particularly the 39th, 48th and 49th CDs. Our newest ratings place all three of those seats in Toss Up, although it’s possible those districts could shift back in Democrats’ favor depending on the primary results… Overall, there are eight Republicans retiring from districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. In the past 25 years, in situations when a president’s party has sought to defend an open seat two years after that president failed to carry it, the party has batted zero for 23 trying to keep it in their column. That should be bad news for the GOP in the seats of retiring Reps. Ed Royce (CA-39) and Darrell Issa (CA-49), but the top-two primary could throw them a lifeline.”

CA: “California’s primaries are the most unpredictable in America” [The Economist]. “[I]n 2010 Californians approved a “top-two” primary system, in which all voters receive the same ballot and can choose anyone they like. The two most popular candidates move on to the general election…. In theory, top-two primaries encourage candidates to appeal to lots of voters, not just the ideological purists who turn up for ordinary primary elections… One clear result of top-two primaries is that they have led to non-partisan general elections. That happened in 2016 when Barbara Boxer retired, leaving open her seat in the US Senate. Kamala Harris, a Democrat, went on to defeat Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat. This year’s governor’s race may set Gavin Newsom, a Democrat and former mayor, against Antonio Villaraigosa (ditto). The reform now threatens to produce weird results. When many Democratic or Republican candidates pile into a race (as Democrats in particular are doing this year) they threaten to split the party vote and allow two finalists from the other side.” So, short form, the Democrats rigged elections so that two Democrats would end up competing, but now that’s coming back to bite them? I’m crying.

TX: “Texas Democrats look to single-payer in congressional races” [Politico]. “Across the country, many Democrats are trying to minimize internal battles on health care. But Democrats in this deep red state have also watched closely races where single-payer advocates have upset centrist primary opponents. And some believe that moving left on health care will mobilize new voters in primaries —and offer a shot at winning come November….” Politico then helpfully conflates #MedicareForAll with the sort of faux “path to” program supported by Beto O’Rourke. Anyhoo: “More than half the Democratic challengers who won the first round of primary voting outright include single-payer health care in their campaign platforms. None of the nine Democratic incumbents do.”

PA: “UE-Backed Candidates Oust Establishment Democrats in Pennsylvania Primary” [United Electrical]. “Two UE-backed candidates, both women in their 30s, made history and shook up Pittsburgh’s political establishment by winning primary elections on May 15th against incumbent state legislators. Both of the defeated incumbents are members of the Costa family which has, until recently, played an outsized role in Democratic Party politics in Pittsburgh. Speaking to the UE Eastern Region, Local 610 President Antwon Gibson described the Costas as ‘a family of politicians who don’t do anything for working people.’ No Republicans have filed to run in either district.” I focused on the DSA endorsement. Here’s another factor.

2016 Post Mortem

“Hillary Clinton Pulls Out ‘Russian Hat’ To Jab Trump During Yale Speech” [Talking Points Memo]. Clinton: “I see, looking out of [sic] you, that you are following the tradition of over-the-top hats, so I brought a hat too. A Russian hat. Look, I mean, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Some staffer — or, more likely, several staffers working at odds, if Shattered is any guide — worked hard to create this moment.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“We’re starting to see this more and more frequently around the country– right-wing groups backing New Dems, Blue Dogs and other faux-Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Democratic primaries. It’s revolting… especially whenBen Ray Luján, chair of the DCCC is very much a part of it. almost every candidate endorsed by the DCCC this cycle is from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. It was horrifying yesterday when the bodies of the dead students in Texas weren’t even counted yet and Democrats had two contend with the DCCC’s recruitment of NRA allies– like Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Anthony Brindisi (NY), Paul Davis (KS) and Elaine Luria (VA). Establishment Democrats have been accusing progressives of not being ‘real Democrats'” [Down with Tyranny].

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2018: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District saw robust growth in May, with the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rising sharply to 16 after plunging into contraction territory with a minus 3 reading in April” [Econoday]. “Weakness was registered in capital expenditures, which fell 12 points to 19, finished goods inventories, down 7 points to 8, and services expenditures, down 5 points to 11. The strong May rebound in the Richmond Fed manufacturing Index joins manufacturing surveys from the Empire State and the Philly Fed regions reported for the month last week, all indicating robust strength in the manufacturing sector. ” And: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories significantly accelerated – and are now back into expansion, It seems last months report was an anomaly” [Econintersect].

Retail: “Women Are Ditching High Heels in Favor of Sneakers at a Rapid Pace” [Footwear News]. “In a few short years, sneakers have progressed from a gym staple to an accessory fit for the royal wedding reception, and nowhere is this shift in attitudes more evident than in sales of women’s shoes.

In 2017, the women’s leisure sneaker category soared 37 percent to $2.3 billion in the U.S., outpacing the men’s and kids’ segments and leading the overall category to a high of $9.2 billion, according to The NPD Group Inc.’s Retail Tracking Service.

The surge in interest in athleisure has left other shoe silhouettes to languish, however: Sales of high heels (shoes with heels 3 inches or higher) fell 12 percent in the same period, relinquishing market share in the $12 billion dress, casual and evening shoe market. High heels now account for less than 20 percent of that market, down from more than half in 2011.”

Shipping: “Trucking Growth Is Up Year-over-Year In April 2018” [Econintersect]. “I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which continues to show strong rate of growth improvement year-over-year. Part of the problem with ATA data is its poor presentation and lack of transparency. It should be pointed out that the trucking movements are improving YoY.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3 Falls Short of a CR Recommendation” [Consumer Reports]. “These problems keep the Model 3 from earning a Consumer Reports recommendation. The Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph was far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup… CR’s experience with the Model 3’s braking is not unique. Car and Driver, in its published test of a Model 3, said it noticed “a bizarre amount of variation” in its test, including one stop from 70 mph that took ‘an interminable 196 feet.'” So, blistering acceleration but unable to stop. Oopsie. Musk says this can be fixed with firmware. We’ll see. Tesla controls, however, will be harder to fix: “Another major factor that compromised the Model 3’s road-test score was its controls. This car places almost all its controls and displays on a center touch screen, with no gauges on the dash, and few buttons inside the car. This layout forces drivers to take multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks. Our testers found that everything from adjusting the mirrors to changing the direction of the airflow from the air-conditioning vents required using the touch screen. These types of complex interactions with a touch screen can cause driver distraction because each act forces drivers to take their eyes off the road and a hand off the steering wheel.” Does driving a car with a touch screen strike anybody else as a stupid idea? Sure, Level 5 autonomy is just around the corner, so there won’t be any drivers at all, but until that happy day comes?

The Bezzle: “Squaring Venture Capital Valuations with Reality” [Will Gornall and Ilya A. Strebulaev, NBER]. From the abstract: “We develop a valuation model for venture capital-backed companies and apply it to 135 U.S. unicorns – private companies with reported valuations above $1 billion. We value unicorns using financial terms from legal filings and find reported unicorn post-money valuation average 50% above fair value, with 15 being more than 100% above. Reported valuations assume all shares are as valuable as the most recently issued preferred shares. We calculate values for each share class, which yields lower valuations because most unicorns gave recent investors major protections such as a IPO return guarantees (14%), vetoes over down-IPOs (24%), or seniority to all other investors (32%). Common shares lack all such protections and are 58% overvalued. After adjusting for these valuation-inflating terms, almost one-half (65 out of 135) of unicorns lose their unicorn status.” Oopsie.

Tech: “Microsoft, Google: We’ve found a fourth data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre CPU hole” [The Register]. “A fourth variant of the data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre security flaws in modern processors has been found by Microsoft and Google researchers…. So far, no known exploit code is circulating in the wild targeting the fourth variant…. Starting in January, most leading browser providers deployed mitigations for Variant 1 in their managed runtimes – mitigations that substantially increase the difficulty of exploiting side channels in a web browser. These mitigations are also applicable to Variant 4 and available for consumers to use today.

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five are mixed in early trading with small changes” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 22 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index strengthened to 65 (complacency) as 191 new 52-week highs in Monday’s session made the highest total since January” [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 May 21 2018

Facebook Fracas

“Amazon Pushes Facial Recognition to Police. Critics See Surveillance Risk.” [New York Times]. “In late 2016, Amazon introduced a new online service that could help identify faces and other objects in images, offering it to anyone at a low cost through its giant cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services. Not long after, it began pitching the technology to law enforcement agencies, saying the program could aid criminal investigations by recognizing suspects in photos and videos.” I keep saying I’ve gotta order that Nixon mask.

“Predatory behavior runs rampant in Facebook’s addiction support groups” [The Verge]. This is a must read, it’s horrible, much worse than the headline. Note that the leader of the central “support group,” Affected by Addiction, “spoke at the Facebook Communities Summit, where Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his plan to get a total of 1 billion people into ‘meaningful groups.'”

Health Care

“For Future Health Policies, Trump Administration Adds a Rural Focus” [Governing]. “There are many ways in which rural America has fallen behind the rest of the country. The health care gap, however, has the potential for the most tragic consequences. Rural America has higher rates of suicide, obesity and alcohol abuse. People who live there have a lower life expectancy and are more likely to die of potentially preventable causes like stroke, cancer and heart disease. Exacerbating these problems, only 10 percent of the country’s doctors practice in rural areas. Finding mental health care is even harder — 61 percent of rural Americans live in a federally-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. The Trump administration wants to close these gaps and hopes to do it by easing the regulations on rural providers.” Liberals: But they’re racists. And so round and round we go, with no offer of a universal concrete material benefit by either party.

Class Warfare

“Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017” (PDF) [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]. “This report describes the responses to the fifth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED). The survey is designed to enhance our understanding of how adults in the United States are faring financially… Altogether, the survey findings provide a snapshot of people’s financial lives in late 2017. It is a story of overall improvement consistent with the national economic expansion. It is also a complex story of variation among different groups in the country and remaining areas of economic vulnerability…. Four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. This is an improvement from half of adults in 2013 being ill-prepared for such an expense. Over one-fifth of adults are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full. Over one-fourth of adults skipped necessary medical care in 2017 due to being unable to afford the cost.” If this be “overall improvement,” gawd help us when we run into real problems.

“Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry” [Financial Times]. Fast fashion: “Part of Leicester’s garment industry has become detached from UK employment law, ‘a country within a country’, as one factory owner puts it, where ‘£5 an hour is considered the top wage’, even though that is illegal. Doshi (not his real name) says he has worked in places with blocked fire escapes, old machines and no holiday or sick pay. There are garment factories that follow the law, but a ‘perceived culture of impunity’, as a 2018 government report puts it, has created a bizarre microeconomy where larger factories using machines are outcompeted by smaller rivals using underpaid humans…. And while some retailers blame unethical factory owners, the factories say retail’s relentless push for cheap prices makes it impossible to improve. As a result, what should be a good news story for people like Doshi has become a cautionary tale about how the reshoring of manufacturing jobs can go wrong when the government fails to enforce its own laws. Perhaps the strangest thing about this labour exploitation is that it is an open secret. Central government knows; local government knows; retailers know.”

“The ‘Black Hole’ That Sucks Up Silicon Valley’s Money” [The Atlantic]. “Many, including Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Larry Page, have signed the Giving Pledge, committing to dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. But much of that money is not making its way out into the community. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is likely the increasing popularity of a certain type of charitable account called a donor-advised fund. These funds allow donors to receive big tax breaks for giving money or stock, but have little transparency and no requirement that money put into them is actually spent. Donor-advised funds are categorized by law as public charities, rather than private foundations, so they have no payout requirements and few disclosure requirements. Because they’re categorized as public charities, donors can give a higher share of their income to these funds than they could to a private foundation, which can help them avoid taxes. And wealthy residents of Silicon Valley are donating large sums to such funds.”

“How Rightwing Groups Wield Secret ‘Toolkit’ to Plot Against U.S. Unions” [PortSide]. “The anti-union marketing drive is the brainchild of the State Policy Network (SPN), a coast-to-coast alliance of 66 rightwing think tanks that has an $80m war chest to promote Donald Trump-friendly regressive policies such as low taxes and small government. The group is funded by such billionaire conservative donors as the Koch brothers and the Walton Family Foundation that stems from the Walmart fortune…. The Guardian has now obtained what SPN is calling a “toolkit” of advice to its followers on how to go about fomenting ‘union reform’ – a euphemism for draining unions of members and cash. The ‘toolkit’ sets out four ‘tactics’ for depleting their power – ‘effective union reform’, in its language… The SPN blueprint sets out how to acquire the private details of union members through state freedom of information laws so that opt-out propaganda can be targeted directly at them. It says: ‘Access to lists of union members is essential to this project. The most common means of obtaining lists is through requests made under state public records laws.'”

“Mapping Income Polarization in the United States” [IMF Blog]. “In our study Hollowing Out: The Channels of Income Polarization in the United States, we show that middle-income households have shrunk as a proportion of the population since the 1960s. Those earning between 50 percent and 150 percent of the median income represented just 48 percent of total households in 2016, compared with 58 percent in 1968.” Handy map:

I’d sure like to see that map reworked at the county level.

News of The Wired

“Fun with SQL: Recursive CTEs in Postgres” [CitusData]. Hoo boy. Fuzzy sets, and we might have something. Readers?

* * *

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 (Bugs Bunny):

Bugs Bunny writes: “Took some photos in the woods today. Springtime in Normandy near Lyons-la-Forêt. We’ve been having lovely weather.” What an inviting patch of sun!

* * *

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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. jo6pac

    Well I guess I’ll have to go outside and turn off the water in my little orchard and pick cherries;-)

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Raining here, can’t work on the yard. Was really, really looking forward to this Water Cooler.

      So disappointed.


      1. Carla

        Well, while waiting for Lambert, I’m going to look up Politico’s hit piece on Bernie.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Rain? What’s that?

          (Says Slim during Arizona’s hot, dry pre-monsoon season.)

          1. Jim Haygood

            Most of the Tonto, Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests in north central Arizona are closing tomorrow due to extreme fire danger.

            This morning a group of us took a loop hike to say hello and goodbye to a new trail that a crew from American Conservation Experience in Flagstaff is finishing today. Now it will be off limits till the monsoon rains come.

            1. Carolinian

              On my recent trip to Arizona I camped near a firefighter base camp in the White Mtns (eastern AZ). Periodically the helicopters would fly over with their water buckets. There was some discussion on the topic this morning, but I find it amazing that western states allow the sale of fireworks at all (AZ does not, NM I believe does). The destruction of the irreplaceable Columbia Gorge in Oregon was caused by an idiot with fireworks.

              And btw there’s a great movie about a Prescott, AZ fire crew called Only the Brave. It’s a true, and tragic, story.

              1. Wyoming

                Prescott is my home town. The story in the movie is both true and not as one would imagine with Hollywood involved.

                Tragic is an understatement. When the winds shifted it was violent (and we are talking about winds and house rattling gusts). I turned to my wife and said ‘Wow, the firefighters better look out’. Hikers who were near the firefighters ran one way and the firefighters ran another. The hikers lived.

                1. Carolinian

                  Yes, I know they embellished a bit. I have friends in AZ, one of whom works for the Forest Service.

                  But those are some fine actors. Josh Brolin is good in just about everything.

                2. JCC

                  It reminds me of Norman Maclean’s (A River Runs Through It) story, Young Men And Fire about a fire in Montana that happened in 1949.

                  The wind shifted and only 3 of the 15 man airborne Jump crew survived. Also a tragic story, a very well written page-turner and worth reading if only to realize how dangerous firefighting can be.

                  1. Amfortas the Hippie

                    I usually have the scanner on(emt and fire only, due to encryption gift from Homeland), and yes…the Volunteer Firefighters are frelling heroes. a big fire means an almost military operation, with helicopters and planes from the Forest Service(state and federal), but the IC(incident commander) is always one of our own.
                    Hard core, in rough country.
                    I give what I can and never sign up for the rifle auction. “take the money, keep the gun”.

    2. a different chris

      My cherries have a little while to go.

      Of course, there is approximately 37 minutes between the time they ripen and the time the birds discover and wipe them out, so I have to watch closely.

      1. polecat

        Last year the crows had some good ‘pickins’ in the sweet cherry .. broke a couple branches .. which will actually allow more sunlight to reach the inner crown, so there’s that positive aspect. The avians seem not to be interested (so far) in the sour cherries. Was looking over said trees yesterday .. going to be harvesting a lotta fruit in the coming weeks .. gonna be the pits !

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        I save all cheap sunglasses that have lost an arm or been rendered otherwise useless, and wire them into the fruit trees.
        Birds think they’re the eyes of some creature, and avoid those trees.
        I move them around occasionally.

    3. Wukchumni

      Picked a few loquats this morning. The first of the summer fruit here and such an interesting sweet taste. Wiki says it has the flavor of a mixture of peach, citrus & mild mango, and that’s about right. It was the ‘wild’ fruit tree of my youth growing up in L.A. as every neighborhood seemed to have some, and seldom were the fruit picked by the homeowner, as the golden orbs hung over a fence line near the sidewalk, just tempting you.

      Cherry trees by the river are a month away from fruiting, the Lapins varietal with the most on it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Are loquats a totally frost-free-requirement tree? If so, and if your area is frost-free enough to grow them; there might be other frost-freedom-required tree/shrub/bush fruits you could plant and grow.

        If you haven’t already heard of it, there is a group called California Rare Fruit Growers Council which
        deals with hobby-growing of semi-tropical fruits.

        1. Wukchumni

          The loquat tree is 6 years old and we’ve had below freezing temps in the high 20’s & low 30’s often in that time span and it hasn’t effected it in any fashion.

          My neighbor keeps trying to grow an avocado tree, just a bit too cold for it, although it’s still alive, but only hanging on.

          I’m aware of the CRFGC, thanks~

        2. polecat

          I love loquats ! … too bad they’re not zoned for the PNW .. maybe in a century, or two .. or less, along with the ginger and citrus.

          1. Oregoncharles

            There is a hardy citrus: yuzu ichandrin, apparently a Japanese hybrid. Lemon-flavored fruit, “semi-edible”. Mine died when it went below zero here, but the replacement is growing right now and about head high after 3 years. It pays to buy a fairly large one. Makes a pretty evergreen tree with citrus flowers.

            Wikipedia has another one: Jiouyuezao mandarin Citrus reticulata ‘Jiouyuezao’), hardy to 9 degrees F. Says it’s fully edible. Might be worth looking for.

  2. Steve H.

    > Politico

    If it’s the ‘Our Revolution’ piece, it’s more a whack at Nina. If Our Revolution is simply functioning as a duodenum for the Democratic Party, it deserves to get hit. Bernie keeps on message about What and How, Who can get tricksy.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Thanks for the link…..Tim Black seems to have truly been banished into youtube algorithm hell.

        2. Isotope_C14

          Watching it now, thanks!

          Though I must say, I’ve heard Nina speak before at the people’s summit. She’s ok, but she’s no where near as articulate and impressive as Ajamu Baraka.

          Man if the Greens were allowed to debate by the “corporation” on public debates, can you imagine him vs. Kaine and Pence? Oh, and Weld too, cause as we know the Greens cost HRC the election, but the Libertarians don’t exist.

  3. Off The Street

    Lucid dreaming, start small, dream big.
    Settle in for a pleasant night, think about specific dream topics you want to explore.
    Advanced/alternate course, say out loud the above, as some are more auditory than others.
    Have a notepad by your bed so you can jot down any dream fragments for later study, or even record those on your handy device. You may amuse yourself later with the relative incoherence and random nature of those nocturnal musings. They might begin to make more sense, or maybe you are just getting accustomed to the new Hawthorne-Effect sensations.
    Keep at it. Rome wasn’t built in a day and even Caesar slept.

    1. voislav

      With enough practice you can really get a good grip on these. After being introduced to it by a prof in an undergraduate electronics course, I started messing with it and got pretty good after a couple of years of regular practice. In grad school I used to use it for working out research problems and it was really effective, the creativity level is definitely higher when dreaming and although some of it was useless, a lot of the times I would come up with a good solution for some problem.

      I haven’t used it regularly since then, but it’s definitely an interesting experience. If you do it regularly, you’ll definitely have some Inception moments, where you have to stop yourself and think if you are awake or dreaming, because you lose track.

      1. Anonymized

        Is there any data on creativity with lucid dreaming vs meditation? I’ve never had a lucid dream but while meditating I sometimes come up with some decent jokes to post on social media or figure out a way to tackle a problem. My greatest work is a movie pitch: Tamira, a labour organizer in her 40s, must cope with her mother’s suicide while working to unionize a publishing company. Working title: Hot Sauce Handjob.

    2. bun

      for me, eat lots just before bed.

      then grab the popcorn (uh…) and enjoy a night of crazy lucid dreams.

      (BTW, would it be cool, or terrifying, to be able to record these dreams and play them back. hmmmm.)

    3. clarky90

      Lucid dreaming is another case of “Hiding in plain sight”. Every night, when we (all) go to bed, we (all) gain access to The Infinite, irrespective of our Worldly circumstances.

      Even during an afternoon nap!

      Therefore, (1) Go to bed early and enthusiastically!, (2) Sleep in a totally dark, quiet and restful environment. (3) Turn off all electrical devices and switches (4) Look forwards to bed time and sleeping time, as a favorite, productive and infinitely fascinating daily event. (5) Keep a dream journal (6) Read and learn about lucid dreaming, (AKA “dream yoga” in Buddhist tradition). (7) Try different diets, supplements (f.i., mugwort tea), practices (f.i., MILD)

      I have been lucid in my dreams, but few and far between. As I approach my own death day, I dedicate more of my time and attention towards Lucid Dreaming induction. It is such a logical and comforting progression of my life.

      In a dream, a few years ago, I stood on a tiny black-sand peninsula, projecting into a calm sea, beside my long dead mother. I could “exist” there with her. wow

      “As while you are asleep and lying on your bed these eyes of your body are now unemployed and doing nothing, and yet you have eyes with which you behold me (an Angel), and enjoy this vision. So, after your death, while your bodily eyes shall be wholly inactive, there shall be in you a life by which you shall still live, and a faculty of perception by which you shall still perceive. Beware, therefore, after this, of harbouring doubts as to whether the life of man shall continue after death….”

      Saint Augustine Letter 159 (A.D. 415)

      What’s not to like???

    4. clarky90

      Lucid dreaming is a timeless practice. It has been described by all cultures. The contents of lucid dreams vary from the mundane, to the terrifying, to the exquisite, to the very strange(?), to the incomprehensible (awe).

      It is not “a belief”, but rather an experience. It is like,”visiting Paris”. We know that Paris exists because of all the reports of “the city of Paris” over hundreds of years. Some people are born and live in Paris or near-by. Paris is a given for them.

      Other people hear of Paris and make a concerted effort to get there for a visit, and they do. Other people are not particularly interested and do not make any effort to go. Even they could visit Paris through happen-chance (f.i., a work assignment). Also, Paris is not just one place, but a myriad of people and experiences.

      Lucid dreaming is not dependent on drugs, shamans, prayers. I remember intense dreams when I was a baby and child. We often grow out of it.

      Lucid dreaming can be frightening when living in a hyper-materialistic culture like ours! It is an experience that runs counter too our entire belief system. So, many people wisely keep their mouths shut about their experiences.

      IMO, lucid dreaming is the mother lode out of which “our reality” has emerged.

      Ask your friends, family and acquaintances if they lucid dream. You will be surprised at the % who have. I think it about 15% of the population. Ask people about the contents of their dreams….For many people, nobody will have ever expressed an interest in the content of their beautiful dreams.

  4. Mildred Montana

    “…..assuming we’re in fact lucid when awake.”

    The incomparable Ambrose Bierce put a nice spin on consciousness by playing with Descartes’ famous “Cogito, ergo sum”:

    “Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum.”. (I think I think, therefore I think I am.)

  5. none

    So a dumb question, raised by something I saw on a tech site.

    Normally if you want to run a small or medium sized web site, you (directly or indirectly) rent some space in a data center and put a server in that space (maybe physical hardware that you own, or maybe a physical or virtual server that you rent).

    Usually you pick a data center geographically close to where you expect most of your traffic to come from, e.g. you might pick Germany if your site has a mostly European readership (let’s ignore stuff like CDN’s). Or you might just pick the cheapest location you can find and not worry about it being further (and therefore a little slower) for your readers.

    On the other hand there might be jurisdictional reasons to pick a specific location. Like if you’re running a gambling site, you might want to put it in the Cayman Islands or whatever. Ok, fine.

    My question: I see that a certain company is now offering data center space in the City of London. I didn’t check the prices but I assume it’s as expensive as hell. So: a) Amirite that it’s probably expensive? b) Assuming it *is* expensive, what would be the attraction of putting a server there?

    Server space in London (I mean the regular part of London, not the CoL) is not exactly cheap, but there’s plenty of it and it’s reasonably affordable if you serve a UK audience, so why would you want the City in particular?

    1. a different chris

      Hmm, interesting. I haven’t revealed this particular thought yet, because of the pointing and laughing at me thing… but I have wondered if the CoL isn’t thinking hard about how they can pull a Northern Ireland, but on poor England of course.

      They have no interest in being seperated from Europe. Yeah I know they are sleezebags, and the supposed yoke of Euro oversight is uncomfortable, but darn if they are going to be effectively stranded on some old island that isn’t even sunny.

      So just let the mess happen, and then when everybody has 8 million things on their plate it’s the perfect time to secede.

      PS: no “Europe does not want them riposts” please… correct as that probably is, these are not introspective people we are talking about here

    2. sd

      Financial and trading transactions usually want the servers literally as close as possible.

      1. none

        Yeah I thought of that, but this is ordinary server space like web sites would use, not the specialized stuff for high frequency trading. So who knows.

  6. Summer

    A good read (and I bet a lot of people didn’t know this was “a thing.”)

    The Chronicle of Higher Education:
    “Design Thinking Is a Boondoggle”
    Its adherents think it will save higher ed. They’re delusional…

    This is a good companion article to BS Jobs and the crapification watch in general…
    Design thinking isn’t even education. It’s an approach to a way of thinking about an education.
    There’s also a direct link here between the manufactured concept of the “creative executive.”

  7. mle detroit

    We do need to “Drain the Swamp” to make room for the fecal matter accumulating inside the Beltway.

    On the construction of one section of the NYC-DC sewer pipe
    Notice that many “princes” are mentioned, including Erik, brother of Betsy. And one can see why the Qataris bail out the Kushners, if only to balance the influence scales.

    But wait, there may be more.

    1. Summer

      And “Drain the Bay Area” while at it…

      Why don’t working people start pulling tax exempt funds out of our collective as— and make up a a fantasy finance currency?

  8. John

    The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal gives the perspective of the Tibetan Bon tradition on lucid dreaming, dreaming and sleep. Highly recommended.

  9. Wukchumni

    $400 doesn’t buy you a whole lot of cushion if that’s all 4 in 10 Americans can come up with in an emergency.

    When push>meets<shove and some event catapults those 4 in 10 into dire straits, all of the 'good' spots have already been occupied by people made homeless prior, so the new class of homeless will have to make do with sloppy seventeenths. It's gonna get strange on us.

    1. ambrit

      I could see this social economic trend engender some real communism: group homes, group kitchens, cooperative micro-infrastructure projects, like community gardens etc.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the “new homeless” of tomorrow are evenly sprinkled all around the suburbs and exurbs and known for some years at least by all their neighbors, those who were regarded as good neighbors by their good neighbors might be permitted to “move in” to smallish corners of peoples’ homes which haven’t been stripped from the not-yet-New Homeless. Such people might indeed retro-fit suburban and exurban neighborhoods for high-density food-growing and survival water and heat harvesting and so forth.

        Perhaps the “Mormon Stake” system should be studied. People don’t have to all convert to Mormonism. Perhaps the “Mormon Stake” system can be replicate by other groups.
        Such stakes could organize food-growing/ food preserving/ food storage/ etc. Catholic Stakes, UAW Stakes, Bowling League Stakes, etc.

  10. JohnnyGL

    “There Will Be a Backlash”: Will the Bernie Democrats Risk the House?”

    Will the corporate-owned Democrats risk losing to Trump again for the sake of their donors?

    There….fixed that Vanity Fair article title…

    1. John k

      They would sacrifice mom, spouse, and no. 1 son for the donors in a ny minute.
      God is money, and donors have a direct link.
      Risk ww3 to keep progressives from power? With pleasure, with extra donations from mic.

  11. sd

    California race:
    Antonio Villaraigosa (D) is seen as the “republican” and was polling 4th – he leans neoliberal.
    Gavin Newsom (D) is “liberal” with quotes

    Of more interest is the Lt. Governor race – and candidate Gayle McLaughlin. She is Medicare for All. https://gayleforcalifornia.org/issues/

    1. JBird

      Villaraigosa is not somebody I know much about, but Newsom is good looking, smooth talking, politico who says all the right words in a good way; when you look more closely at him and his funding tactics a wiff of decay drifts by. I don’t think he really believes much of what he says, or if he does it is not from any true reflection.

  12. ewmayer

    “Women Are Ditching High Heels in Favor of Sneakers at a Rapid Pace” [Footwear News] — And if you need something more stylish than sneakers, just wear a nice pair of flats! Speaking as a guy, I find e.g. tapered slim-ankle pants (or a skirt) worn with a nice pair of flats that are actually comfortable to walk around in much more attractive on a gal than the “notice me!” self-torture of high heels. But what do I know? I’m just a caveman… [we miss you, Phil Hartman!]

    1. ChrisPacific

      That’s good news. High heels need to go the way of the corset. They do all kinds of nasty things to the body when worn regularly over the long term.

  13. Carolinian

    Does driving a car with a touch screen strike anybody else as a stupid idea?

    Me! Me! [raises hand]. IMHO cars shouldn’t even have touchscreen computers unless it’s a removable module that can be conveniently tossed when the thing becomes obsolete in two years. A car is a lot more durable good than a computer.

    Which is not to say that cars shouldn’t have computer modules running the complicated emissions and engine functions. These have been around for decades.

    Of course that may change should automated driving ever become a thing. But one suspects that the push for car electronics is at least as much about Detroit’s longtime favorite strategy: planned obsolescence. Computers as the new tail fins?

  14. Jim Haygood

    Why ex-CIA director John Brennan is headed for prison:

    As Trump won primary after primary in 2016, a rattled John Brennan started claiming to colleagues at the CIA that Estonia’s intelligence agency had alerted him to an intercepted phone call suggesting Putin was pouring money into the Trump campaign.

    The tip was bogus, but Brennan used it, along with later half-baked tips from British intelligence, as the justification to form a multi-agency spy operation on the Trump campaign, which he was running right out of CIA headquarters. To Congress earlier this year, Brennan acknowledged the existence of the group.

    The members of Brennan’s working group at Langley “were just a bunch of out-of-control idiots,” says a former high-ranking CIA official. He finds it flabbergasting that Brennan would bring CIA officials and FBI officials into the same room to cook up schemes to send a spy into the Trump campaign’s ranks.

    [Australian diplomat Alexander] Downer traveled in the same elitist circles as Christopher Steele, Halper, and John Kerry. It appears he sent word of his boozy evening with George Papadopoulos back to Brennan’s group through these circles — either through Hillary partisans at the State Department or through Clinton Foundation channels, for whom he had worked as a kind of bag man.

    If Congressman Nunes is right and the originating document for the FBI probe doesn’t even contain a reference to an official intelligence product passed to Brennan from the Australian government, no one would want to be on the record treating [Downer’s hearsay] as “evidence” for something as momentous as a probe into a presidential campaign.


    Reportedly Downer signed a $25 million check to the Clinton Foundation on behalf of the Australian government. That’s corrupt in itself. But Downer later providing a tip for the FBI to initiate a spying operation on the Trump campaign — supplemented by the Steele dossier funded by the Clinton campaign — begins to look like either a conspiracy directed straight out of Chappaqua, or an stunningly unlikely coincidence.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, Alexander Downer. If he was an American he would be a Republican and a solid member of the deep state. His Wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Downer tells a lot about him and he is a third-generation politician from a political family. After the US 2016 election it came out that the Australian government had given $88 million to the Clinton Foundation which was a case of say-what? so should have guessed that he would be in the mix. Good thing that he never made Prime Minister.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “A ‘better deal’ to protects their freedom to negotiate with their employer.” Yeah, get rid of unions more likely as more or less stated after that sentence in their policy page. And yet unions back the democrats in elections why? I think that I can guess. The teacher’s union leadership is trying to sell their members down the river in some states. That is the sort of union leadership that both Republican and Democrats like to deal with.
    Have always thought that they should bring democracy to union leadership. That is, have a compulsory secret balloting for the job instead of things like a show of hands. Hand-counted paper ballots and not some dodgy app from Silicon Valley. Same too if a union is going to have a strike – make sure that the member’s want it. I bet if some teacher’s unions did that there would be an abrupt change of leadership and tactics.

  16. Fastball

    About “lucid dreaming”, is there such a thing as semi-lucid dreaming?

    At times I have what I call extreme high fidelity dreams. This is where the situation seems absolutely real to me, down to the finest detail. It’s like being on a Star Trek holodeck.

    These hi-fi dreams will sometimes cause my conscious mind to go into a “referee” mode where it basically informs me that what I am experiencing is not real. Then I can redirect the dream and not take it so seriously.

    1. laughingsong

      Dunno if it’s “lucid dreaming” but that happens to me a lot. Truly hi-fi dreams, where for example, I smell blossoms, feel sunshine, get fatigued, everything is very sharp and has much more continuity than usual.

      My favorite was where I was doing a mating-style flight with a red-tail hawk above Crystal Springs Reservoir in the Bay Area, and it was sooo vivid: felt the sun, felt the breeze, could smell both the water and the hot asphalt on I-280 below, hair kept flying into my face/mouth — amazing.

      Beyond that, there are things that I can almost always do in dreams, so commonly that it’s weird that I can’t do them in real life (yeah, the 70s were good to me):
      – fly (natch)
      – telekinesis (mostly pick things up that are further than my reach)
      – breathe underwater

      And no, I won’t be jumping off buildings. I’m in agreement with Bill Hicks: if you think you can fly, why don’t you try taking off from the ground first? Ya don’t see ducks lining up at skyscraper elevators to fly south for the winter.

  17. Savonarola

    I am mostly a control dreamer. First you become conscious that you are in a dream, then you break the pattern you are in within the dream. Once you find the physical and mental edges of the experience and understand how they connect, you can shift things. Like I can feel a dream turning dark and nightmarish and say “UH UH. Nope, not going there, lights up.” The sun will come up in the dream and the mood shifts. Sometimes it tries to slide back and it takes several tries to get the different track to stick. It isn’t all the time, but usually I find repeated patterns and things in dreams make me aware that I’m dreaming within the dream and then I either shift the dream or tell myself to wake up.

    I agree: inducing lucid dreaming is easiest, especially initially, if you wake up out of a dream and then immediately fall back asleep thinking about the dream you were just in. Sometimes, if you fall asleep fast enough, you can slide uninterrupted back into the same dream but with more control. I learned to control my dreams out of desperation because I had such bad nightmares and stress dreams. I work on problems and puzzles in my sleep and wake up and write down the answers before I forget. It’s a little weird, but my family has a strong strain of sleep disorders like walking and talking in our sleep, so it probably has to do with that. The border isn’t very crisp for us between waking and sleeping.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon Pushes Facial Recognition to Police. Critics See Surveillance Risk.”

    So I was over at ‘Sputnik’ this morning downloading my latest instructions when I saw this story but from the viewpoint that the technology was being offered to police for basically pennies. The story is at https://sputniknews.com/us/201805231064702909-Amazon-Facial-Recognition-US-Cops/ and mentions that ‘the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon pays Amazon an amount between $6 and 12 every month to access the technology.’ So this Sheriff’s Office can get this high tech surveillance for maybe as low as 50c a day? Can you get a cup of coffee for the same amount in a MacDonalds? I never knew that Amazon could be so generous and altruistic.

  19. chuck roast

    “The ‘Black Hole’ That Sucks Up Silicon Valley’s Money” [The Atlantic].
    Donor-advised funds…the latest plutocrat tax scam. Who knew???
    More precisly, do the Clintons know about this fabulous grifting opportunity?
    And finally, what’s going on with The Atlantic? Twenty years an (family blog)-wipe and they begin producing actual informative journalism?
    So many questions…

  20. SerenityNow

    Very interesting Verge article on addiction and facebook…but the author’s use of the the sickly-saccharine politico-business verb “reach-out” left me surprisingly disappointed. Are we past the point of no return with “reach out” now being fully accepted as a synonym for “contact”, “call”, or any other normal verb? Please say it ain’t so!

    In the wake of his near-overdose, she reached out to the group for comfort and encouragement while she panicked and figured out what to do…

    “Hey Lauri [sic], I saw your name on the Affected By Addiction support group, and I had this weird/strong impulse to just reach out…”

    “I reached out to Laurie to see how I could help,” Calvert responded when I reached out to her.

    When I reached out to Facebook for that story, a spokesperson sent a bizarre response…

    But for the most part, rather than directly reaching out to prospective clients, she would speak at community events…

    “There are many resources out there to achieve wellness. Recovery is possible!! Please reach out! Message me❤️…

    “I never said, ‘Isn’t your son worth it?’ I’m not that kind of person,” Knight told me when I reached out.

    When Garrett Hall reached out to Laurie Couch on Facebook, she had nothing but good things to say about the group. “I have received so many levels of healing from this group,” she told him.

    But Hall wasn’t just reaching out to offer a hand; he was there to deliver her to a salesperson.

  21. JBird

    “Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry”

    About twenty years ago, there was a factory in Los Angeles where the owners had effectively enslaved the workers (there was a barbed wire fence around the place and guards with guns) When the factory was shut down, the immigrants were deported, but they got their backpay with overtime and the owners even went to jail for a few years.

  22. Tim

    Does driving a car with a touch screen strike anybody else as a stupid idea?

    I’ve long thought the model 3 is a massive lawsuit waiting to happen since seeing an in-depth driver review.

    If somebody can sue porche for making a car that is too dangerous (stupid fast fast with no nanny aids) for it’s drivers, then surely a slew of accidents associated with distracted driving opens it up to lawsuits from both the tesla driver as well as the person on the receiving end of the accident.

    Ambulance chasers may have their first ever class action lawsuit if they play their cards right.

    The model 3s are just starting to fly off the shelves, so it will take time for trends to emerge, but I guarantee this car causes accidents. It simply is not possible for it not to.

    1. Carey

      I agree, and of course the driver will need to have his or her head in their smart!phone, too, leaving the pesky
      task of driving to Autopilot™, I guess… heh.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, car touch screens. Great idea that. If the cars were really as advanced as they claim them to be they would have heads-up displays and active voice control but like self-driving cars, the technology is not really there yet. With this idea I am seeing futures in lawsuits, like you are, as well as Darwin Awards.

    3. Carolinian

      But don’t all new cars have touchscreens now for GPS, Bluetooth phone, the radio? Tesla is just taking it to an extreme.

      I have an older car that is blessedly touchscreen free although I love my Garmin Nuvi which is a constant trip companion. This goes in the glove box when not needed.

      1. c_heale

        For GPS you just need to glance at it. You don’t need to touch it while driving. You set it up before you start driving.

        1. Carolinian

          So you have built in GPS that will need map updates and therefore periodic firmware updates. This sounds like a nightmare for the paranoid–a car that can be tracked and that runs on firmware that can be hacked (not just theoretical….somebody did it with a Jeep).

          I’m not paranoid enough to worry about it should I buy a new car, but sounds like one needs to scrutinize that EULA very carefully.

    4. JBird

      Who needs touch screens? I have nearly be totaled while driving, or run over while walking, by drivers texting while speeding.

      I can’t wait to killed by an autopilot’d car.

  23. audrey jr

    “Reach out, touch faith” Sorry. Couldn’t resist that little Depeche Mode reference which was spinning round in my head as I read your post, Serenity Now.
    Indeed, to “reach out” is now a new form of “contact” or “call me.”
    I have received several emails through my work email address from companies who implore me to do just that. Using just those words. I agree with you; it’s yucky.
    And you know what they say, “Serenity Now, Insanity Later.”
    No soup for us, right?

  24. Edward E

    If Hillary changes hats then we’ll have a tougher time being able to tell if it’s really her flying overhead.

    Defense needs a bail out so the witches can bomb more folks, I guess. Running out of transformative impact on society bombs, bombs, bombs, bombs

    Some suppliers have dropped out entirely, leaving no option for replacing vital materials. Other key suppliers are foreign-owned, with no indigenous capability to produce vital parts and materials ― setting up the risk that a conflict with China could rely on Chinese-made parts.

    1. cnchal

      War rations has a new meaning.

      And the military’s desire to tinker with existing designs rather than create band-new weapons has left the industrial base with a lack of design experience, which means “design skills for critical components within the missile sector industrial base are at risk,” the authors write.

      All this is happening as the U.S. is expending munitions at a rapid rate. For instance, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that 1,186 munitions were dropped in that country during the first quarter of 2018 ― the highest number recorded for the first three months of the year since tracking began in 2013; that number is also more than two and a half times the amount dropped in the first quarter of 2017.

      Quarterly bomb dropping numbers. How fatuous.

  25. Oregoncharles

    ““Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District saw robust growth in May,”
    If this kind of thing keeps up, Trump will be re-elected. Democrats are praying for a major recession in 2019.

    1. ambrit

      If Trump plays his cards right, he can spin the economy either way.
      If the economy stays stable: “I’m great! Want more? Vote for me again!”
      If the economy goes south: “Those effing Democrats! Re-elect me to stop their predations!”
      ‘Things’ really are that chaotic now.

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