Links 5/2/18

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World’s oldest known spider dies at 43 after a quiet life underground Guardian (Chuck L)

Fly Me to the Sun Atlantic. Too late for you!

Activity on Hawaii volcano could indicate new eruption Associated Press (David L)

A Precautionary Approach to Artificial Intelligence Project Syndicate (David L)

A New Algorithm Identifies Candidates for Palliative Care by Predicting When Patients Will Die MIT Technology Review. Dr. Kevin: “Take the place of Death Panels … ?”

Jeff Bezos explains how his space company Blue Origin will save civilization Quartz. Chuck L: “There’s a fine and blurry line between the visionary and the hallucinatory.” Moi: In this case, the line does not look all that fine…

That Collapse You Ordered…? James Howard Kunstler (Chuck L)

If You Think The World Is A Terrible Place These 20+ Wholesome Pics Will Change Your Mind Bored Panda. In case you need some feelgood..

North Korea

Nearly 80 Percent of South Koreans Say They Trust Kim Jong Un Bloomberg

UBS: One of the biggest expected benefits of a North and South Korea peace deal could fail to materialise Business Insider. Honestly, this wasn’t on my list..

Congrats to our Richard Smith and his allies:

‘Dirty money’: U-turn as Tories back plans to make tax havens transparent Guardian. This is a bigger deal than the disappointment below.:


TSB crisis: key questions MPs will ask bank bosses about IT crash Guardian. I was tempted to write about this today, but there will be a lot of coverage tomorrow due to Parliamentary hearings, which will hopefully induce an enterprising news outlet or two to talk to customers, as opposed to using Twitter as a proxy for how bad things are. Notice that the Guardian says some standing orders (pre-set instructions for regular payments, like rent) weren’t going through. This is contrary to what the bank claimed, per a BBC report. Our Clive sent the link to the BBC article before the Guardian story was published, so that would appear to be based on later information. And regardless, even if TSB had actually been able to pay all standing orders, it is premature to declare victory. Clive also pointed out: “Merely means they have caught up on the backlog, not necessarily fixed the underlying cause.

‘We’re on our knees’: Inside the totally avoidable TSB crisis Wired. This article demonstrates a lot of ignorance about bank IT. These days, any bank other than a US credit union scale bank will be the product of mergers. The issues of the TSB systems may be on the worse end of the spectrum but are comfortably within bank IT norms. Moreover, the author buys the spin that the Cobol-.Net-UNIX consultant-fest that Sabadell was the right scale for the TSB systems. And the headline presupposes a migration could have been done at an affordable cost with better planning and more time. As we’ve said from the very outset, many a US bank deal has been nixed over IT compatibility issues, and this has the hallmarks of being one than never should have been done.

And I hate to say it, the “experts” quoted in the article above are way behind our Clive. They assume testing was done over the weekend. He saw evidence that the data migration took the entire weekend, which meant no testing at all happened. Will this come out in Parliamentary testimony or will TSB manage to cover that one up?

Do read this thread:


Brexiteers send customs ‘ultimatum’ to Theresa May BBC. Help me….

Founder of pro-Brexit think​tank has link with Russian intelligence, says MP Guardian (Fazal). Legatum does the most consistently slipshod, obviously intellectually dishonest work I have ever seen out of any think tank, which is saying quite a lot given the existence of shops in the US like AEI. But this is just silly. “Intelligence” out of Monaco, a corrupt teeny enclave run for the benefit of the seedy super rich? And super stale at that? Who are we kidding?. Richard North, as usual, has the better take: Brexit: wrong end of the stick

Inside Theresa May’s Brexit War Cabinet, Where Tory Battles Rage Bloomberg. More confirmation of the fixation on the “customs union” distraction, where the Remain/soft Brexit camp is deploying a ton of political firepower to push for a remedy that solves almost nothing.

May faces biggest Brexit battle yet as DOZENS of Tory MPs threaten to ‘collapse’ the government if she ‘breaks her promises’ by pushing through plan for customs partnership with the EU Daily Mail. May’s idea is barmy, but the objections are just screeches.

Brexit prompts UK to probe developing satellite navigation system PhysOrg

These Are Sanctions Directly Aimed at the Civilian Population FAIR. On Venezuela.

New Cold War

Russian Oil Turns Its Back On Its Biggest Customer OilPrice

Media attacks US Green candidate Stein over her non-existent collusion with Russia RT (Kevin W)


War Propaganda Firm Bellingcat Continues Lying About Syria Steemit

Twitter Explodes After White House Corrects Iran Typo With Major Impact pluralist (UserFriendly)

How Europe Can Save the Iran Nuclear Deal Project Syndicate (Chuck L)

Netanyahoo’s “Iran Files” are Well Known, Old and Purloined from Vienna Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City ‘under threat’ from settlers Guardian (UserFriendly)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Amazon tells Signal’s creators to stop using anti-censorship tool The Verge and Amazon threatens to suspend Signal’s AWS account over censorship circumvention Signal. UserFriendly: “Amazon really wants that CIA contract.​”

Facebook dating: Tinder shares crash after Mark Zuckerberg announces service for singles (Kevin W). Ugh. To induce more people to share more accurate, including “in real life” details like their true name and coordinates.

A few Wi-Fi transmitters and your house becomes a coprocessor ars technica. Haha! Another reason for good old fashioned Ethernet cables…You can bet this would be hijacked.

Powerful women are rushing to Tom Brokaw’s defense. Are they wrong? Guardian (JTM)

Tariff Tantrum

Entscheidung der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, die Europäische Union für einen weiteren Monat von Zöllen auf Stahl und Aluminium auszunehmen Die Dundesregierung. Over my pay grade, but I understand it says that Europe and the US Need to Talk…

….while the EU harrumphs “not” EU slams Trump for short delay on steel tariffs Politico

The German auto industry could be the biggest loser in a US-EU trade war Business Insider

Trump Transition

Rosenstein Says He Won’t Be ‘Extorted’ Amid Impeachment Threat Bloomberg. This is silly unless they have the votes, and I can’t imagine that they do.

‘So disgraceful’: Trump lashes out at publication of special counsel questions Washington Post (furzy)

Trump doctor Harold Bornstein says bodyguard, lawyer ‘raided’ his office, took medical files NBC. I am not saying that the Trump folks behaved properly, but I have zero sympathy for the doctor. As this account makes clear, the doctor had told the press about meds he had given Trump. That’s a violation of the law and medical ethics. Normally, a patient can always get copies of his records but the doctor keeps his files even for ex-patients, presumably for malpractice. Trump probably could have threatened litigation and demanded all copies of the records in return for a broad waiver…but if they guy had so little respect for the law that he’d blab about a patient, it’s not clear he could be trusted to destroy his copies. Plus the MD could have called the cops during the raid. The NYC police are not Trump fans.

FCC commissioner broke the law by advocating for Trump, officials find The Verge

Central American migrants from caravan wait and worry at U.S. border Reuters

Hillary Clinton Must Stop Relitigating 2016 Atlantic. Dream on. She is guaranteed to keep this up as long as she has any cognitive function.

The Ghosts of ‘New Democrats’ Are Haunting Us Norman Solomon, Truthdig

Health Care

Patients face expensive ER bills even when they don’t receive treatment Vox (UserFriendly). Moral of the story: Always always always go to an urgent care clinic if you can.

2020 Democratic Contenders Are Making the “Cheap Gesture” of Swearing Off Corporate PAC Money, but Big Checks Are Still Flying Intercept

Documents show ties between university, conservative donors Associated Press. “Link” is way too weak a word. And this is a public university.

Sex in Politics…Not!

Literature Nobel In Doubt Amid Claims Swedish Princess Was Sexually Harassed NPR (UserFriendly)

Apple Allays iPhone Worries, Adds $100 Billion to Buyback Plans Wall Street Journal

Manage your money better with these tips from behavioral economics Quartz. UserFriendly: “Urgh.”

Google vs. Google: How Nonstop Political Arguments Rule Its Workplace Wall Street Journal. Key bit. No wonder things are fractious. Google successfully creates cult-like levels of involvement without the cult requirement of conformity to certain rules:

Googlers, as employees are called, are encouraged to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and to “bring their whole selves to work,” a motto used widely on campus to promote inclusion.

Class Warfare

Almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. There’s a surprisingly easy way to change that. Washington Post

From UserFriendly. At this address, there are many videos of May Day events from different places showing rough handling of participants.

Socialist Ideas in 2018: Karl Marx’s Legacy is Manifestly Complex IPSOS. Even with not having read the survey instrument, the press release makes clear the poll was biased. First, they are conflating communism with socialism which will produce worse ratings for “socialism”. The headline makes this clear. Karl Marx was not a socialist. Note also trying to associate state sponsored terror with “socialism” when last I checked this has never been observed in Sweden or in, say, Chile under Allende, as opposed to being rampant under “free market” booster Pinochet. And, as we have regularly discussed, “free market” is an intellectually invalid, incoherent, internally contradictory construct. The use of that expression says at best the person using it is intellectually captured by the right and at worst is selling Chicago School tropes.

Antidote du jour. Almost too late for a wintry-looking birdie! Kittie Hall via Lawrence R:

And maybe an anti-antidote. I have decided NYC rats are OK. They are big and sleek and keep our subways clean, or at least cleaner than they’d be if we didn’t have humans dropping food trash and not picking up after themselves. I was once waiting for a train at the far end of the station and a rat scooted up and grabbed a piece of edible garbage and dragged it off the platform.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. jackiebass

    If you want to learn the basics of Brexit and British politics , watch BBC. A program called after 100 days is one of my favorite. In my personal opinion they have some of the best reporters on the planet. When they do an interview , they are well prepared and they aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to disagree with you vehemently. The UK coverage of Brexit ranges from bad to absolutely dreadful.

      Interviews are not a good format for getting properly informed because what passes for the UK elite, virtually top to bottom, has its heads chock full of bad information. The only consistent exceptions are Sir Ivan Rogers and Richard North.

      Having said that, the Financial Times often has very good stories with real analysis, like the customs IT disaster and tallying up how many agreements would need to be rewritten. And they have also been pretty good at writing articles that if you read them carefully, conveyed that the EU is not on board with all of the UK’s efforts to cherry pick and the repeated denialism of the City about getting passporting and “equivalence”. But the various FT columnists have done a poor job compared to their reporters.

      And it is also unfair to lump the Irish press in with the UK press. PlutoniumKun has sent links to quite a few good stories there.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t watch the BBC much these days, but I have to say the coverage I’ve seen and listened to on the radio has been terrible.

        The Irish press has its own issues, not least a very limited range of ownership and declining revenues, but in the major news outlets the EU posting is a plum one and gets the best reporters – this is patently not true in almost all the UK press, including the BBC, something that’s very obvious when you look at the quality of the ‘factual’ reporting from Brussels.

        It also helps that the Irish media in general doesn’t have much of an ideological bias when it comes to reporting UK politics or the EU so you often get a more nuanced and balanced approach. As one example, Chris Johns is an English born business writer for the Irish Times whose journalism is generally boilerplate right wing pro-business, but on the topic of Brexit he’s been quite interesting and insightful.

        1. vlade

          Pre-referendum BBC was almost pro-leave, when you consider how much space was given to likes of Farage, Johnson etc. compared to some of the more sane voices on the Remain side (not that there were many of them, admittedly).

          Their economic coverage around Brexit is illiterate at best, knowingly misleading at worst.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        You are right to make the distinction between reporters and columnists at the FT.

        Some of the FT columnists mix with the great and the good, so do not want to upset anyone. They also look enviously at the US talk shows and how one prospers by getting on that gravy train / circuit. Therefore, none will say anything to jeopardise their chances of landing gigs in the US etc.

        The reporters are much better, but they have to be careful. I know a few of them.

        Readers may be aware of the new UK Home Secretary. He has an “interesting” career history, including at my current employer. Veterans of the employer are utterly dismayed and find it richly ironic that this guy is now minister for law and order.

        I asked reporters at the FT and elsewhere what they thought of the promotion and if they planned to investigate. They said, “Look, Col. I’ve got a family to feed and bills to pay.” After that, I went to the bookies and got a good price on the minister to be the British Obama.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Begob.

            You’re right about the Ayn Rand devotee.

            My veteran colleagues, from London to Hong Kong via Mumbai, know some serious stuff about the dude.

                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you.

                  Think about the baddies in the Big Short and the unscrupulous behaviour and mentality that led to this sort of thing and his wealth, including treatment of colleagues and customers, including oddly threatening to have a state owned bank put into bankruptcy. Senior management in London was asked to rein him in in case the firm’s licence in that state was withdrawn.

                  1. Colonel Smithers

                    Plus allegations of insider dealing that could not be investigated due to restrictions on surveillance outside the U.K.

                    1. Colonel Smithers

                      Javid’s odds have tumbled from 40 – 1 to 16 – 1 for becoming PM. These are like the odds the great Nashwan had in 1988 and early 1989.

                    2. Clive

                      And here I was thinking, being my usual complacent self, that things couldn’t get any worse!

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, JB.

      100 days and Beyond 100 Days? Are you kidding?

      If you are a long suffering British taxpayer and have to pay for the BBC, you would be mightily f’d off with that programme’s obsession with Trump and Russia and its ignoring of Brexit, vide’s Barnier’s article in the Irish papers and visit to Ireland last week-end.

      Competition for brown noser is fierce at the BBC, but the pair who front this rubbish are leading contenders.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Also, why are we in the UK bothered about Trump’s 100 days?

        My family and friends around the world watch and listen to the BBC often. They wonder what I am on about when I take issue with the BBC’s establishment sugar coating and delusion peddling. Brexit is the obvious issue.

      2. vlade

        TBH, BBC does have one good Brexit programme (sort of) – Have I got news for you. Hislop and Merton may not understand it all, but are taking May and co apart pretty mercilessly.

        I rue that Bird, Bremner and Fortune can’t do an equivalent of Silly Money on Brexit. This is well worth watching anyways – especially given it’s now 22 (yes, 22!) years old.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Vlade.

          I have not watched HINGFY for years, if only switching off as Hislop was becoming a caricature more interested in himself.

          Like you, I do miss Rory Bremner and the Johns. Those were the days. I also liked Mark Thomas. Those were the days when Channel 4 was edgy and had not been reeled in by its owner, the British state.

          I do hope readers will pipe up on this bit of the thread :-). Sorry, Yves.

          1. vlade

            Agree HIGNIFY lost its edge, but still miles above lot of other stuff on the UK telly. Merton is as merciless to Hislop as to May or anyone else, given half a chance.

    3. Clive

      Others above have said it better than I could, but just to weigh in…

      The BBC as a good source? Are you, as we say here, having a laugh? I would not trust the BBC to tell me the time correctly. Its output is overtly consensual and has an explicit stated aim of engineering a consensus of opinions. This is not effective reporting or journalism. Imagine what Naked Capitalism would read like if the team of reporters attempted to not be truthful but rather represent some ridiculous middle ground balance on everything? Like, “you say CalPERS is an inefficient, captured by private equity and unaccountable rogue organisation, but let’s not be hasty, they may also have some good qualities and some people say they think they’re not doing a bad job considering how difficult it all is…”

      And the BBC governance is pitifully inept. It’s a barely concealed revolving door for government, business and uncritical neoliberal leaning media outlets. Here’s what the governing body, the BBC Trust, thinks is a good idea of a chair. Which tells you all you need to know about what to expect from the BBC’s output.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        One of the best things I ever did around seven years ago was to dump the TV, largely in order to avoid any News content, particularly from the BBC. People like Stephanie Flanders( now I believe with JP Morgan ), talking absolute rubbish in relation to the financial crisis, economics & the banks coupled with a bunch of received pronunciation muppets spewing forth propaganda on geopolitical issues, while in effect lying by omission in the sense of what they were not disclosing.

        These days when I am forced into sharing my presence with an idiot box, I wonder how I spent fifty four years in the company of one.

        1. Clive

          That is a sensible approach, I’m beginning to conclude. I was, looking retrospectively, less well informed than I should have been about Brexit. A lot of that was down to the mainstream media I do rather follow semi-religiously. I kidded myself I could tune out the hopeless muppetry. But while you can develop a skill of discernment, it still isn’t going to filter out every piece of rubbish. And the BBC pours forth such a great quantity — the signal-to-noise ratio being worse than even, say, 5 years ago.

          And for Brexit coverage, the rest of the broadcast media is simply terrible (Sky and itv). The press is worse than that — the Hate Mail, Express, Telegraph and even more hideous The Sun do, I am convinced, rot my brain just through reading the headlines in the supermarket. On the flipside, the Guardian, with its “I Gained 10lbs Because I Thought I had to Eat British Sausages Every Day after Article 50 Was Triggered — and it’s all Brexit’s Fault!” nonsense stories are such risible clickbait, they have a boomerang effect on the reader so great is the insult to the intelligence.

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Eustache.

          Yes, Flanders is at JP Morgan. She has a splendid office, formerly occupied by the City of London school, overlooking the Thames.

          1. larry

            Flanders was so awful. I cringed every time she was on. But she is now in one of her natural homes. But Channel 4 had Ahmed and now the execrable Helia Ebrahimi, who knows nothing. I remember when the Japanese central bank came out with their report on negative interest rates and I saw her talking about the subject ineptly, showing that she didn’t even know about the report. Everything she said about the subject was wrong. I wish I could say it was unbelivable.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you.

              I am glad that you have flagged up Helia Ebrahim. What does one expect from someone who worked at City AM?

                1. Colonel Smithers

                  Thank you, Vlade.

                  You’re right.

                  The other hack from that Augean Stable is Juliet Samuel. I know her well.

          2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

            You are very welcome Colonel.

            I also believe that she once worked for Larry Summers as a speechwriter.

            Fukishima is what finally finished me with the BBC during a couple of days when I followed the unfolding crisis on their 24 hour coverage. They started with various ” Experts “, one of whom had a negative outlook on the situation, one who was cautiously optimistic & another who while watching the tsunami approach, declared that there was nothing at all to worry about.

            The latter who subsequently became the main man during News broadcasts was Malcolm Grimston who is as you are probably well aware, a shill for the nuclear industry.

        3. Enquiring Mind

          One added tool for the kit is a short-wave radio. I found that to be indispensable when researching or catching up on news events, and heard the dramatically different presentations (before people began saying ‘spin’) across the world. A more modern supplemental analog would be the internet news services of many broadcasters and aggregators, as long as one identifies potential biases and influences. Cast a wide net, provided the time, and see which fish there are.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Clive.

        I remember RA, always RA, never Rona, Fairhead from HSBC days.

        Do readers know that Fairhead’s husband runs one of the parasites that fed off Grenfell? His contractor firm existed to milk outsourcing from local authorities.

        The pair are Tories, so useful for networking with politicians and helping each other.

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre


          I believe that generally television has been purposely dumbed down over the years, in line with Philip Mirowski’s claim that this was one of the aims of those he refers to as the Neoliberal Thought Collective. I vaguely recall a show hosted by Chris Tarrent form I think the 80’s, which featured mainly Japanese people being tortured in order to win a game show – something then that was seen as being hilariously stupid. When i discovered that British TV had put forth a celebrity version, I realised that my Father had been correct in his belief that gradually TV would largely descend into trash.
          I suppose that as the changes are gradual they are hardly noticeable unless one steps away for a period. Something else that struck me about how the world has changed, was reading a biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams written by his wife. She mentioned that in the late 50’s after reading Huxley’s ” Brave New World “, they were both horrified at what they perceived as the evidence for his case that was all around them.

          Goodness knows what they would think of the world today.

          1. larry

            I remember that Japanese game show. It was excruciating to watch. It was difficult to believe that people were putting themselves through those so-called challenges.

          2. David

            It was actually a Japanese TV show called “Endurance” which was featured on a series called, if I remember correctly, Clive James on Television (pun) hosted by the famous Oz intellectual himself. It was actually a short-lived and relatively obscure programme on a cable channel. Japanese TV can be weird, but not usually that weird, and it’s depressing if a British channel has imitated it.
            And yes, I can’t bear to watch British TV any more.

            1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

              I only really miss BBC documentaries although they do usually turn up on youtube & any good drama is available through streaming – I now find adverts as being illustrative of insanity. Even so docus have also dumbed down to a certain extent with my favourite example being a female professor in one short series, whose belief that homo sapiens had not interbred with Neanderthals was based on her assertion that she would not fancy them – proof that they actually did get it on, came out shortly afterwards, but she is still happily working away.

              A friend of a friend once worked for BBC Horizon before becoming a freelancer whose IMO excellent science documentaries, were for quite some time aired by the BBC until around five years ago, when his work was suddenly declared as being too highbrow.

          3. JBird

            I believe that generally television has been purposely dumbed down over the years, in line with Philip Mirowski’s claim that this was one of the aims of those he refers to as the Neoliberal Thought Collective.

            Somewhat yes, there has been a general effort to do that. However, it is not always a sinister conspiracy as It is much about money. To do a good report, or especially a long detailed series, on any medium (newspaper, radio, television, and internet) can require one or more each of reporters, plus photographers, sound, or camera crews, and editors doing days to months of work.

            So let’s say the station, or paper, gets a tip on corruption in the local city hall. Corruption so large that it might take multiple stories to do and need the work of half a dozen people full time for several months. That is real money, and time, that could be used to cover stories like the dog show, and everybody likes dogs.

            So the management could allow the obscenely expensive work on a story that will enrage powerful people at you daring to do so, or do the cheap half a day two person dog story. Both will get the clicks, or the views, but one is very expensive, not immediately profitable, and will get people out to ruin you and the other isn’t.

      3. Anonymous

        Not to mention our own NPR:

        Nice People Radio
        National Propaganda Radio
        No P**** Radio

        So many wonderful possibilities!

    4. Sid Finster

      A lot of educated Americans are fawning anglophiles, to the point where they think that everything British must be better and anyone who seems sort of authoritative and has a British accent must be a World Leading Expert.

      Conservative leaning Americans get weak-kneed at the thought of Winston Churchill, Clubs, Titles, Oxbridge, Tea in China Cups, Male Buggery and Breeding Will Always Out.

      Liberals swoon over Class Consciousness, Cool Britannia, the Beatles, Tony Blair and Punk Rock, to name a few.

      1. Louis Fyne

        -A lot of educated Americans are fawning anglophiles-

        Totally that! even if their forebearers were 100% Irish, Scottish and German.

      2. neo-realist

        I’m nuts about Punk Rock music-British and American. However, I think that Churchill, who while not a saint, deserves a mini-series for he, in my view, led a very broad and fascinating life–military man, politician–that’s worth an in-depth viewing. A far more interesting character to make a movie or series out of than the likes of the Royal Family, i.e., the Crown on Netflix.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What about Irish accent?

          I was watching the film called The Lost Region, and the barbaric Goths spoke with something like an Irish accent. Was that accurate – that the Goths were Celtic, and not Germanic (I don’t think so)? Was the brainwashing implication, then, that barbarians spoke like the Irish?

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Kevin.

        Yes, the BBC is worse, or perhaps more dangerous. Why? Just like the Grauniad, what used to be a reasonable source of news and insight is now spreading propaganda and using that old reputation, including what Sid wrote above, to gloss over its decline. Just sell it to Murdoch or Rothermere or the Barclays brothers and be done with it.

        I watch Tucker Carlson and Judge Jeanine often. They are no worse than anything on the BBC.

        1. Kevin

          I don’t watch BBC, but find it hard to comprehend of a network out there more corrupted than the ones we have here. AS corrupt, maybe…
          Have a good one Colonell!

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I think the difference is that you know what you are getting with a network like Fox. You can often learn more from ideologically slanted news, so long as you know the ‘slant’ so you can adjust your perception accordingly. Its when supposedly reputable and independent news outlets start getting neoliberalised that people get seriously misled.
            The changes in the Guardian under the new editor in particular has been particularly insidious because many of its casual readers have no idea how they are being fed a propaganda line on issues like Syria.

            1. Tim

              Excellent point.

              Fox News balances the news even if they in and of themselves are not balanced.

              I find I prefer to get news from CNN when a democratic president is in office and fox news when a republican is president. The hand wringing from the opposing network is off-putting and pushes out the worthwhile news.

        2. Anonymous

          Tucker Carlson may be the closest thing we have left in mass media to an actual journalist, which is sad.

    5. UserFriendly

      Founder of pro-Brexit think​tank has link with Russian intelligence, says MP Guardian (Fazal). Legatum does the most consistently slipshod, obviously intellectually dishonest work I have ever seen out of any think tank, which is saying quite a lot given the existence of shops in the US like AEI. But this is just silly. “Intelligence” out of Monaco, a corrupt teeny enclave run for the benefit of the seedy super rich? And super stale at that? Who are we kidding?

      I bumped into this yesterday which starts off with a wonderful explanation of Clinton rigging the election for Yeltsin and then somehow turns the Legatum, Chandler link into an Ouroboros like assertion that the Russians are pushing Russiagate. smh.

      Neocons 2.0: The problem with Peter Pomerantsev

    6. c_heale

      Last time I was in the UK the news coverage from the BBC, not just Brexit, was ridiculously bad.

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      I listen to the BBC feed as replayed on American public radio. I remember BBC as having been better, more informative, more information-dense and detail-dense a few decades ago. A lot of it seems rather lighter and fluffier today. It still makes pleasant background ear-candy, though.

      I don’t like the nasty rudeness of the BBC question-askers. They deliberately stomp on the questionee’s effort to answer the question in order to prevent the question from being answered. They interrupt. They are just rude.

      I also notice an awful lot of “how did that make you FEEEEEELLLLlllll . . . ” type of questions. I didn’t used to hear that sort of search for the Oprah Moment on BBC. I also don’t like the new style of bantering jokefullness between the news-talkers. I guess they do it to seem groovy, hip and youthful.

      Every now and then I notice the sort of screaming error which I never heard decades ago. I once a few years ago hearing the BBC presenter refer to ” Chuck Shumer, the Senator from Nebraska.”. They never did correct that.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Trump doctor Harold Bornstein says bodyguard, lawyer ‘raided’ his office, took medical files”

    Hate to say it but maybe Trump was merely being prudent here. How long would it be until there was some sort of FBI raid to nab those files because of ‘national security’ or something, doctor-patient confidentiality be damned.

    And is that a male North American Cardinal?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Particularly since even if the doctor was a flake (he certainly seems like one), he should have done a medical history and since he prescribed meds, also have gotten a current list of what else Trump was taking. If the doctor would blab about Trump’s hair potions, Lord only know what else he’d report.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You would be amazed who rich people wind up with. It was almost certainly a referral, and given that Trump loves entertainers (see Howard Stern on this topic) probably from an actor. After all, they have to be experts in cosmetic treatments.

          1. skippy

            I get that YS and have seen it myself, your past comments on the immunization cultists serves here. I posed the question to frame the quandary about the whole thing. Trump picks a questionable MD, self serving on both sides, and then has to resort to aggressive tactics sorting it all out.

            I don’t see any victims here, just elevated inevitability due to poor risk management with both now claiming being victimized.

    2. DJG

      The Rev Kev: Yes, that bird is a cardinal. They are bright and active. They have an amazing song. After the long northern winter, their spring activities like calling and nestbuilding are much welcome.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        We have them in Mauritius, too, but the ones in the Indian Ocean look a bit different.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Might there be a link to a site with photographs of the Mauritius version of the cardinal?

      2. polecat

        Wish we had Cardinals here in the PNW … alas, guess I’ll have to settle for those pesky mocking Stellars Jays instead … !

        Hummm, on second thought, maybe red vs blue is not such a good idea .. could get ‘political’.

    3. UserFriendly

      The doctor admitted that the letter he released saying Trump is the healthiest person ever (back before the election) was dictated to him by Trump. Shocking, I know.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Hasn’t Hillary Clinton’s doctor offered similar glowing reports? ISTR hearing one after she collapsed on September 11, 2016.

        Supposedly, Clinton was overheated, but the NYC weather wasn’t *that* warm. High was only in the low eighties, and the 9/11 memorial took place during the morning.

        On that day, I was in eastern Pennsylvania, making arrangements for my just-deceased father’s memorial. Although the weather had been steamy hot-hot on Friday, September 9, a cold front went through on Saturday. NYC experienced similar weather.

  3. voteforno6

    Re: Wholesome Pics

    Thanks for that. I got a chuckle out of the crowdsurfing guy in a wheelchair.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Entscheidung der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, die Europäische Union für einen weiteren Monat von Zöllen auf Stahl und Aluminium auszunehmen”

    Translation: The US has decided to kick the can down the road for another month in regards to the EU and steel & aluminium tariffs

    1. a different chris

      Aluminum can? Steel can? Or did our frackers somehow manage to make an expensive plastic one?

  5. PlutoniumKun


    Inside Theresa May’s Brexit War Cabinet, Where Tory Battles Rage Bloomberg. More confirmation of the fixation on the “customs union” distraction, where the Remain/soft Brexit camp is deploying a ton of political firepower to push for a remedy that solves almost nothing.

    It does seem that an enormous amount of effort is being made on the issue of the Customs Union when it is pretty clear that it makes little or no practical difference. I can only assume that there are two political justifications for taking this line. The first is that it can be used as a ‘wedge’ issue to open up membership of the Single Market. The second is simply picking a fight for the purpose of being able to stake an ‘I told you so’ stance for when things go haywire next year. Either way, its something of an irrelevance and a distraction.

    Brexit prompts UK to probe developing satellite navigation system PhysOrg

    Talking of delusional – a full sat nav system would cost many billions and at least a decade to put in place. And of course the UK would have to pay someone (maybe the Russians or Chinese since the US would refuse) to actually put it into space as the UK doesn’t have any satellite lifters. I can only assume this is a cover for the humiliation of being excluded from Galileo.

    1. begob

      I can only assume that there are two political justifications for taking this line. The first is that it can be used as a ‘wedge’ issue to open up membership of the Single Market.

      I guess the CU is a stalking horse that can be shot by way of concession, in order to secure the SM: “I know your 1975 vote was to stay in what you thought was just a market, so let’s keep that AND have the freedom to strike our own deals. It’s what Maggie would have wanted, bless ‘er.”

      Not what Corbyn wants, though. I think one of the left’s objections to the SM is that it brings the right of establishment for businesses. Last year a court in Norway struck down a pre-EFTA labour union agreement that hindered a Danish company from bringing in its cheaper dockers.

  6. vlade

    Re TSB testing on the weekend. Experts, huh?

    You DON’T do testing of migration on the production system at the weekend of the migration. That would be even more idiotic than not doing it at all TBH, as it has all the potential to screw up the production, reduces time available for migration and any inevitable cock-ups (and hence also ability to roll back), and a lot of other problems I could think of.

    The testing of migration is done on parallel test systems (that are, as far as practicable) perfect copies of production (some brave souls could use the DR site, which of course is ok until a problem strikes and you need that..) – so called dry-runs. You may do those on the weekends (to simulate the whole migration, so for example be able to detach/re-attach integrated systems etc., plus it takes a lot more of effort than usual working day), but not on the weekend of migration.

    It’s expensive to have a full parallel system, which is why partial migrations are preferable. But to migrate a full system like TSBs w/o at least two full-population dry-runs (first one tends to find quite a few problems, second hopefully fixes them and establishes better runbook) is negligency par excellence.

    Of course, then you also need to have a way of testing the dry-run – otherwise I can dry-run trivially (>/dev/null will always work… ) and claim sucess. In my experience, you might have done a dry-run on the weekend, and then spend the rest of the week testing and evaluating it.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Vlade.

      Last Saturday, I bumped into a friend of may parents, a techie, and pointed him to this blog, especially the TSB threads.

      He has just finished a migration and consolidation at News UK (ex News International, aka the Murdoch press). The parallel running was done for almost a year. The old / legacy systems were not switched off for almost a year after parallel. The project took several years and included the use of Agile.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Legacy bank IT system problems at one time spawned discussion about merger solutions via new, clean-slate systems. The new bank would have some streamlined, modern, updateable, etc system without that COBOL or whatever legacy spaghetti code. Customers would be notified of the transition and maybe even incentivized to stay and expand their accounts. Of course, that would be in a non-Wells phony account world. ;)
        Are there bank or other M&A readers who may have input on the messy-old/clean-new option?

    2. The Rev Kev

      At this point I am convinced that it was not the technical people that were setting the timetables and how the transition was to be done but that these were all management decisions. If what you say about never migrating on a weekend is true – and I have no doubt that it is – then how the transition was done may have been decided by other factors that were probably internal to Sabadell management in Spain. I am willing to bet that any project around the world right now involving transition from legacy to new systems is undergoing some frantic revisions right now as this story unfolds.

  7. Jason Boxman

    As it happens, the Match Group owns all the major online dating properties. I can’t believe Facebook will be more exploitative of customers than MG is. They recently destroyed OKC in the guise of reducing harassing messages to women (certainly a laudable goal by itself), by making it basically exactly the same as Tinder. No longer can you send someone a message you might be interested in; you have to both swipe right first.

    The vacation rental space is actually similar, in that a single large company bought up all the properties back in 2006, then began raising rates aggressively over the years. Don’t like it? You’re screwed.

    Platform monopolies are a huge problem on the Internet, as we all know. Facebook, Amazon, and Google are just some of the most well known examples.

    1. BillK

      I predict Facebook will be wildly successful in the dating game. As Yves mentioned they will collect lots more ‘real world’ data for their advertisers, so that’s a plus for them. But the main driver will be how good their dating matches are, and the follow-on recommendations. You can forget your carefully coiffured FB profile. FB will be matching on all the secret information that you don’t know they have. No matter how secretly weird you are, FB will find a match of someone who is just as weird as you are! That should cut out a lot of the preliminary ‘Will she, won’t she?’ discussions.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Documents show ties between university, conservative donors”

    Taking E. M. Forster’s advice and only connecting, I thought while reading this article on a series of comments by two commentators – Musicismath & Swamp Yankee – who were both weighing in on yesterday’s Links about the mediocrity of American academia and the shallowness of the so-called elite. The comments start at but the point is that these conservative donors seem to have undercut the professionalism of modern academics and neutered them as a source of both original thought and analysis. Then again, that may have been a partial intent as that would reduce one vector that could be used to attack conservative thought and politics. So, mission accomplished?

    1. polecat

      I think umbilicus might be a more proper term .. it’$ the tie that ‘bind$’ … and strangles !

    2. Duke of Prunes

      Right, it’s just the conservative donors that are neutering modern academics.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Thanks for the shout-out, Rev Kev. And umbilicus serves pretty well, polecat!

        I’d echo Duke of Prunes’ implied point. Let’s define ‘conservative.’ A friend who is of a similar (almost identical) regional, class, and academic background talked in 2016 about how HRC reminded him of various elite college administrators he met who talked about inclusion and diversity and then drove home from trying to deny the grad students healthcare in a BMW; while Sanders reminded him of the people from back home who sounded* like his parents and grandparents and lived through the Depression and voted FDR.

        In other words, it is liberals (or liberal capitalists, same thing, really) who have thoroughly controlled universities for 25 years. There are left voices, and the MBA and Econ departments are Markt Uber Alles libertarians, but the ruling establishment is firmly Liberal, in the Phil Ochs sense of the word. Like the Obama years, they’ve got to take responsibility for what they’ve wrought: student debt peons, massive degradation of actual education, a corporate administrator-class, and a hereditary, literally, professoriate. Heckuva’ job!

        *granted, New York and New England English have significant differences, especially in vowel sounds — compare Boston v. NYC pronunciation of “coffee”, e.g. — but both are non-rhotic and defiantly non-corporate-mainstream forms of American dialect. I once knew a certain mediocrity who was determined to lose her (really very upper class) New England accent because it was “the worst-thought of accent in corporate America.” I found that beneath contempt, and I was only 18.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          it is liberals (or liberal capitalists, same thing, really) who have thoroughly controlled universities for 25 years.

          100+. Especially at the more elite, trend-setting institutions.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Yep. And that is why we have a bloated administrative layer running a faculty composed of a few lottery winners and a gig economy of adjunct proletarians.

            It wasn’t the conservatives who destroyed the university, for all their fulminating about snowflakes; it was NPR tote-bag carrying liberals.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I stand corrected then. It is both liberals AND conservatives that have neutered American academia over the past generation. I guess that conservatives and liberals may hate each others guts but both of them agree that they do not need to suffer any attacks by an independant group of people capable of analyzing and criticizing their fine ideas.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes indeed, Rev Kev! It was liberal Democrat goodthinkers (h/t to — Lambert? Yves?) who would try to take away the grad students’ health-care every three years, or brutalize and discard secretaries and office-workers who actually ran the departments because some monster consultant said so.

          Towns like Madison, WI, or Ann Arbor, MI, or Cambridge, MA, very quickly disabuse one of the notion of the Democrats as the People’s Party…. That is, unless you’re one of the 10%ers doing the looting — in that case: #McResist! We’re on the Right Side of History! Vote for Us or Else, You Ignorant Peons!

          Shockingly, none of these lines turn out to be electoral winners!

          1. Lambert Strether

            I believe I’m the inventor of goodthinker (trans. bien pensant with added Orwellian flavoring).

            I blame liberals for wrecking the university far more than I blame conservatives, see above; after all, they’re the ones running them.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      didn’t see yesterday’s exchange and this may already have been touched on, but what is happening to academia is the same thing that is happening to public education and to health care: managerialism, in which it is MBAs who run the show rather than those who actually practice the discipline.

      any sense of mission has been replaced by a focus on the bottom line

      1. Swamp Yankee

        This is quite correct, I agree, ChiGal — managerialism and its attendant familiar, credentialism, part of the larger marketization of our society. The cult of “the professional” — “I’m a professional” — which has replaced the “I’m a lady/gentleman” of the old feudal-chivalric offer as a byword for exalted worth and the expectation of certain higher levels of status; at least in the feudal order there came some form of required obligation alongside this higher status, in theory at least. The obligation of “the professional” is in plain reality the profit motive or some other form of the will-to-power, of aggressively individualist acquisitiveness (in a credentialed-managerial hue).

  9. allan

    Trump Lawyers Said to Lack Security Clearance Amid Mueller Talks [Bloomberg]
    (contains auto-launch video)

    Donald Trump’s current team of lawyers lacks the security clearances needed to discuss sensitive issues related to a possible presidential interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Trump’s former lead lawyer John Dowd had been the only member of the president’s personal legal team with a security clearance, the people said. When Dowd quit in March over disagreements with Trump on legal strategy, Jay Sekulow became the lead lawyer on the investigation and is still waiting for his clearance. …

    If Trump agrees to an interview, the topics that could require security clearance for the president’s lawyers include a meeting he had with Russian officials the day after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. That was on a list of more than 40 potential questions that Trump’s legal team compiled based on their discussions with Mueller.

    The leak of the questions, which were reported by the New York Times, could disrupt the negotiations over a Trump interview …

    It’s absolutely clear which side leaked the list. I wonder the question will come up when they’re interviewed
    for their security clearances. So disgraceful.

        1. allan

          She’s tan, rested and ready.

          More seriously, if you go through life stiffing the hired help, all the way from Polish construction
          workers to multiple law firms, the fact that the competent national security bar wants
          nothing to do with you should not come as a shock.

            1. allan

              “You” = DJT, not you.

              The Goodling reference is a blast-from-the-past reminder as to the high quality
              of GOP legal appointments.

    1. Anonymous

      The swamp is slow walking all of Trump’s appointments and clearances. Who actually runs the government anyway?

  10. David

    For those interested in how May Day was celebrated elsewhere, here’s some rather alarming footage from France 24 covering live the violence yesterday afternoon in a touristy area of Eastern Paris.
    The Police had expected trouble from the so-called “Black bloc” protesters, who in recent years have taken to mingling with the demonstrators, putting on hoods and black jackets etc at the last moment, and running off to smash any “capitalist” target they can find, as well as looking for violent confrontation with the police. The Black blocs are highly organised, international, and always spoiling for a fight.There seem to have been 1000-1200 of them, rather more than expected.They trashed a number of shops along the Boulevard de l’Hopital (including a MacDonalds), but there were only a few minor injuries.
    The Police have been strongly criticised for not being tougher, but the government has said that because the Black blocs were effectively using the main body of the demonstrators as human shields, they couldn’t do any more without risking panic and major casualties. It’s also true that the fall in membership of the Trades Unions who organise the demonstrations means that they simply don’t have the manpower any more to control them, and keep interlopers out.
    There’s another (specifically anti-Macron) demonstration planned for Friday.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      I saw the France 2 news on TV5 last night. It was odd to see the number of women / feminine figures in the bloc.

      With regard to international, at a demo last year, some Americans, including from well to do backgrounds and women, were eventually caught by police.

    2. Eclair

      I knew and talked with members of the Black Block in Denver, during the fermentive Occupy months. I remember one evening session with a young woman, who explained her philosophy, namely, protecting ‘civilians’ during marches and demonstrations. All this, while she tended to her restive two-year old. The Denver group certainly did not engage in property damage. They just looked ominous.

      Personally, I felt uncomfortable with their tactics, especially their tendency to hare off in unexpected directions during protest marches, and kept my distance just in case they were attacked by police. Which may have been their intention all along. Plus, their readily identifiable uniform of all black, combat boots and masked faces made it easy for infiltrators to slip in and instigate violence.

      Since I am a firm believer in non-violent tactics and, with a friend, ran workshops on non-violence during Occupy, I believe that outbursts of property violence during demonstrations are counter-productive. However, given that most of us are subjected to varying levels, depending on our class and race, of structural violence, economic and personal, everyday, I can understand the need that many young people feel for smashing windows at MacDonald’s and burning a few tires. After you spend a few hours with a young mixed-race man who was pulled out of his car by police at a downtown Denver intersection and savagely beaten, for no discernible reason, and look at the ER photos of his smashed and bloody face, or you weep with the parents of a 17 year old lesbian mixed race Latino girl, who died in a residential alley, in her car, in a hail of police bullets, you begin to empathize with those who want to strike back. Under these conditions, adopting and maintaining non-violent tactics, requires enormous discipline and self-control.

        1. Conrad

          Indeed. Somewhere on youtube is a video of Canadian protesters literally unmasking ‘black block’ provocateurs. The identical police issue boots gave them away.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Did any black bloccers ever find out the names of the individual officers involved in the Police Aggression incidents you just described . . . to take up those issues with those particular officers in person?

  11. DJG

    The Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic about the endlessness of Hillary Clinton’s caterwauling requires one to accept Cottle’s presuppositions:

    –Yes, what happened to Clinton was awful. She did not merely lose the presidency, she lost it to an opponent singularly unqualified to hold the office. Worse still, multiple external factors likely contributed to her loss, including Russian meddling and former FBI Director James Comey’s October surprise and, yes, the media’s absurd obsession with “Servergate.”–

    Oh, that’s right: Servergate, nothing to be concerned about except for a private, unauthorized piece of equipment in the powder room at home, being tended by some flunky.

    Then Cottle goes on about how other politicos kept their careers viable, mentioning the ever-lightweight John Kerry as an example to emulate, among others.

    I think that it may be time to point Clinton toward the unsinkable Mae West, who wrote this dialogue:
    [Man]–I changed my mind.
    [Mae]–Does the new one work any better?

    The most pitiable part of this They Done Her Wrong saga is the photo of Clinton on the article, wearing the brace after she fell down in the bathtub in India. (Rumor is twice.) It is a reminder of how Clinton expects people to ignore her most obvious flaws and drawbacks. Health? Even at the level of health, there are reasonable doubts about her.

    1. Annieb

      Many voters declined to cast for Clinton because she and the DNC rigged the primary against Sanders. There were clear indications during the primary and by the election many were convinced. Read “What Happened to Bernie Sanders” by Jared Back.

      1. rd

        Having the superdelegates as a major voting block at the convention rigged it to favor an establishment candidate from Day 1. Sanders would have had to win north of 2/3 of the vote in the primaries to even have had a chance at the convention.

        The GOP didn’t have superdelegates and set up winner-takes-all primaries, so somebody who gets on a roll winning pluralities early takes the nomination.

        Also Clinton’s major blunders didn’t happen until the general election. Just the “deplorables” alone may have been able to swing some key states given how close the margins are. Trump was whacking away at the media and elites while Clinton was saying degrading things about half the electorate. There are way more “deplorables” than “elites”, by definition in the 18th century view of the world currently used by the elites.

    2. Jean


      Watch “Uncounted” on Youtube for a breakdown of how the California primary was rigged by a corrupt Secretary of State who just happened to be on Clinton’s election team.

      Hillary reminds me of the old woman that we used to laugh at as children.

      She was always throwing the phrase “Twenty-Three Skiddoo!” into her conversation with us as though we were supposed to understand what the hell that meant.

      I imagine crone Hillary will go around muttering “Twenty-Sixteen Screwed!”

      Was it a New Years Eve exhortation at the end of 1923?

    3. Enquiring Mind

      Killary has an Oz-Ark quality, from today’s endless Wizard of Oz remake.

      Pay no attention to that failed candidate unqualified sketchy health Arkancide suspected conspirator kitchen sink woman behind the curtain.

  12. Craig H.

    > I have decided NYC rats are OK.

    There Is No Alternative.

    But I definitely ain’t eating at any restaurant in Manhattan if I can’t look around the kitchen and the washroom back there. I presume the guys who do the health code compliance are all on the take.

  13. David May

    Re: James Howard Kunstler

    James reminds me of the Moustache of Understanding. Both really have only one article which they recycle in endless permutations. Also, they both have no clue about money, banking or finance.

    1. Eclair

      A few years ago, back before the Snowden revelations, I read JHK regularly. At some point, he posted a chapter from one of his novels … and I read it. His vision of the future seemed to be a heavily white, patriarchal one, with a super-masculine guy running a big farm, surrounded by willing females. I thought, ‘this is progress?’ Could never go back to reading this posts.

      1. Mike Mc

        Loved Robert A. Heinlein books as a kid. You could draw a pretty straight line between RAH and JHK methinks.

        Kunstler has written some interesting books – though not recently – and is A) still alive and B) occasionally says interesting and/or useful things on his blog.

        Also reminds me of another favorite author, Edward Abbey, who wrote lyric essays about the desert Southwest, some pretty good novels too but also leaned toward the manly white dude stereotype… which he punctured himself fairly often. Best writer of the three; YMMV.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘You could draw a pretty straight line between RAH and JHK methinks.’
          I can’t really agree on this one. I can see the resemblances and the influence but not much more. I know the JHK story you are talking about and what struck me was the throwaway line that when the collapse came the women went back to the kitchens. Yeah, he actually said that and the story made clear that his idea of society was a patriarchy along biblical lines.
          Robert Heinlein did have difficulty in writing female characters but his stories are replete with strong, independent female characters. Check out the page at for female characters in only his early works. His marriage to a strong wife, Ginny, probably inspired him here and I would wager that there was a lot of co-authoring here with his female characters.

    2. Sid Finster

      Kunstler has some useful things to say, but everything he writes is tempered by fact that he does not like, on a personal level, the way society has become and therefore is willing to espouse almost anything that results in the collapse of that society.

      For instance, I recall that he was a triumphant Y2K doomer.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I thought the Kunstler link contained a thumbnail sketch of one possible outcome of the ongoing declines in the of supply of fossil fuels coupled with the problems of Climate Disruption and the depletion of resources. Did I miss something?

      On that topic I anticipate a collapse in population because so much of our food production and distribution is dependent on fossil fuels and a relatively stable climate with “moderate” weather — no rain bombs, long-term droughts, and infrequent giant hail and out of season freezes. Most of our food is grown far from where it is consumed. Our economies and governments are in the control of the unmoral forces of Corporate Capitalism which will work to exploit the shortages. Do you disagree with my characterization of our present world?

      As for the future, whether a Strangelove patriarchy or what Kunstler did describe — a post-Rome peasantry eventually organized into city-states of unspecified form, organization, and sustenance — I think that speculation about the future is trite, unimaginative, and cliché. And I’ve read a number of post-apocalyptic short stories that envision a world like “Little House on the Prairie” — as Kunstler suggested in his link.

      What kind of future do you envision as fossil fuels grow scarce and the Climate grows angry? Our present is very different than Ancient Rome and our Collapse will come from an exponentially greater height.

      1. a different chris

        *It* was good article. I think what people are saying is not to hang your hat on Kunstler, most of his work is, um, less than perfect.

        That’s NakCap’s real value, “all the stuff that’s fit to link” regardless of the source. The crap generated by the same source is simply not linked. That’s not so hard, and we adults need to realize that everything is the work of flawed human beings, and nobody is going to hold your hand, not here. If there is a place where they do offer that (cough, DK ,cough), don’t trust them.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I am less concerned whether Kunstler is a good guy or whether the article was any good [I found it disappointing]. I remain curious what kind of future there will be as fossil fuels grow scarce and the Climate grows angry. I very much doubt a world-wide collapse at the scale I fear will be anything like the Fall of Rome. We have populations, science, technology, and great libraries of knowledge and problems far beyond those of Ancient Rome. I believe humankind would not have acquired this knowledge without the large population and prosperity growth of the last few centuries. And I believe this knowledge and the great heights from which we will collapse hold promise of a very different future than life as post-Roman peasants or idealized small town 19th Century rural America. I have been trying to envision more likely possible futures and hoped to find speculations related to this link.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook dating: Tinder shares crash after Mark Zuckerberg announces service for singles”

    No word yet on Grindr shares.

    1. ambrit

      And absolutely nothing on AIDS (Agency for International Dating Services) shares.
      A non-trivial event horizon if I ever saw one.
      “Grinder shares.” Do you mean like swapping poppers around in the restroom at ‘Lafittes in Exile,’ way back when? (Maybe you meant ‘The Circus.’) Those were some of the places where I first encountered multi-sex bathrooms. (Hint: That fold down seat on the wall is not for changing the babies diapers on.)

  15. Olga

    Hillary Clinton Must Stop Relitigating 2016 Atlantic. Dream on. She is guaranteed to keep this up as long as she has any cognitive function.
    Not to be snarky – but isn’t her behaviour already proof of the absence of “any cognitive function”?

    1. ambrit

      Good question. Scheming and plotting are forms of cognition.
      Where does dementia fit in all of this?
      It all could be a case of demented ideation carried out in a logical manner.
      To cut the lady some slack; since when has politics, as differentiated from statescraft, been required to be logical? As before, we butt up against the design of ideology versus the mechanics of implementation.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      but isn’t her behaviour already proof of the absence of “any cognitive function”?”

      No. When your annual take from flogging a past failure is as large as hers………. the histrionics and emoting don’t equal stupid. Not even a little bit. There is nothing stupid about what she is doing, not from a pecuniary perspective.

  16. Otis B Driftwood

    Regarding the TSB code exploration, I noted back when the original screenshots of error messages were posted that this was likely a badly botched deployment of pre-production code. Professional software developers know better than to show internal error information to users. The network trace shows the JS trying to connect to a non-public test URL. A total screw up. What’s surprising is that this continues to go on.

    Speaking from my own experience, the trend is now back to outsourcing and offshoring software development. Business people, it seems, regard software engineers as fungible resources. Well, they are not. Indeed this is a classic case of being penny wise and pound foolish. Be cool, actually, to compare the cost to TSB in lost revenue, opportunity and prestige in terms of engineering FTEs. I reckon it’s quite high.

    1. a different chris

      Yup. At best you are supposed to get a mystery number that you can “report” and never get any real info back about.

    2. hunkerdown

      I love this one:

      host.substring(host.indexOf(‘.’) + 1, host.lenght)

      The second parameter to String.substring(start,end) is optional, and if omitted, is equivalent to the length of the string, as is well documented by JavaScript/ECMAscript language reference material. Not only is that second parameter broken, it’s redundant, superfluous, pointless, and not necessary. They simply do not know what they’re doing.

  17. rd

    Re: ER bills despite no treatment

    This emphasizes the complete breakdown of the “free market” in private healthcare. Patients are at a huge disadvantage with asymetrical information where the patient has none and the billing parts of provider has everything, but the actual provider people only have partial. Neither the patient nor the care providers have a way of predicting what a bill will look like for a service while the service is being provided. As a result, neither the provider professionals nor the patient can make informed cost-benefit decisions.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Socialist Ideas in 2018: Karl Marx’s Legacy is Manifestly Complex IPSOS. Even with not having read the survey instrument, the press release makes clear the poll was biased. First, they are conflating communism with socialism which will produce worse ratings for “socialism”.

    In the 50’s, we were fighting ‘communism,’ while the USSR called themselves Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

    And China is a people’s republic, not say, people’s communist republic or people’s socialist republic. But we used to say ‘communist China.’

    It’s confusing there.

  19. For Prefect

    Re: Unplanned pregnancies

    The American Christian Talibans are working very hard to impose American Christian Sharia law to control women’s reproduction to match the religious beliefs of the minority. for each state like Delaware, there is another state like Iowa that is actively working against contraception for women:

    I have found the hysteria about Muslims bringing Sharia law to the US to be bizarre since it is not significantly different from what many of the evangelical Christians have been trying to impose for years, although the stoning stuff is probably a bit too Old Testamenty for the modern US.

  20. Eureka Springs

    Remember, the internet is private property dominated by giant corporations and spies. Until that changes no privacy app will help you.

    — Yasha Levine

    After all these years of reading on and discussing subject matter related to this tweet, it’s humbling to read such mastery of succinct brevity like this. I never really considered the fact it’s all considered private property. Hand meet forehead.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      but is it all? I thought there were some exceptions in terms of better avenues than Google, FB, Amazon, Yahoo, Verizon, AT&T, etc. And what about community internet?

  21. Musicismath

    There’s a great new piece in the Guardian by Aditya Chakrabortty on Amber Rudd as a symptom of the brokenness of British managerial culture:

    Promise the earth and leave it to the next mug to deliver. Crash around, cash out and move on to the next job. State these new mantras, and you see how Jeremy Corbyn, whatever his other faults, can’t conform to them. You can also see how he poses such a threat to a political-business elite reared on them.

    Chakrabortty is essentially riffing on the theme of Aeron Davis’s new book, Reckless Opportunists (Manchester UP, 2018), the introduction to which can be found here. Worth a read for sure and applicable to all areas of British governance.

    1. Conrad

      As I read the Davis Introduction (which is excellent by the way) this song came on Spotify. “Rotten scum has found its way to power…”

      And more proof that we lack a just god – both Guru and Ronny Jordan are dead yet Kissinger still lives?

      1. Musicismath

        Thanks for that! Takes me back a couple of decades … but I had no idea Ronnie Jordan had passed.

  22. Summer

    Re: New Democrats Haunting….Norman Solomon

    If there is a blue wave in Nov., will that make it a Haunted House?

    All kidding aside, people are haunting themselves by messing with the Democrats in the first place.

    1. ambrit

      All snark aside; considering the yuuge impact the State has on the average citizen, wrestling with one of the two halves of the legacy party is logical and necessary. They, the Democrat Party, are not going to go away by themselves. We have to make them go.

        1. ambrit

          Yes, but, while their ‘public’ support wanes, they, the Democrat Party, continue to wield power in ways that directly affect our, the Publics’, standards of living. The biggest beneficiaries of public apathy are the elites. Opposition has to be felt to be effective. Conversely, it does not take too many ‘apathetic’ people to ensure the functionality of the class of ‘elites.’ Apathy does not imply inaction directed towards an ideological goal. Apathy allows for the continuation of works that enable the Status Quo to carry on.

          1. Eureka Springs

            I like the truth the map represents, not the use of the word apathy. The elites have set the house on fire and are either taking the silver or destroying china which they cannot carry on their way out. They are not legitimate except as a danger. To vote for this is only encouragement of them, helping distract from the fact they are super minorities upon any fair look at the results on election day. The wave already says they are illegitimate. It is beyond hubris to allow this pretense to continue. Both parties are liars, thieves and war mongers. They, their templates, must go.

            This stance is based on fact, past and streaming present, and far, very far, from apathetic.

            73 percent against, is not just waning.

            1. Annieb

              Well said. It’s not apathy. Withdrawing consent of the governed is the only way now to make our voices heard. That and vigorous criticism will be an effective peaceful protest strategy going forward. One can only hope that it will be effective.

              1. ambrit

                In a case like this, I look at other countries where ‘removal’ of consent to be governed has led to regime change. In most where I feel that I know enough about the circumstances, the break even point is whether or not the Organs of State Suppression (Practitioners of Coercive Violence) feel that they can actually suppress the “uprising.” In Mexico in 1968, Chile in 1973, China in 1989, the State forces decided that they could use violence to solve the problem. Those states are still there and thousands of reformers aren’t.

  23. Summer

    Why are people wondering if Iran will be invaded?
    This has been the path since the troops landed in Afghanistan.
    And not one bit of insanity has been stopped (merely delayed for tactical reasons if anything) since then.

      1. Summer

        Russia’s a capitalist country doing what capitalists do.
        So why does it really bother the USA that other countries have national intersts as well?

          1. The Rev Kev

            During the Vietnam war years, American soldiers would talk about going “back to the world” i.e. the States when their tour was over.

  24. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Patients face expensive ER bills even when they don’t receive treatment Vox (UserFriendly).

    Multiple patients submitted bills to our database for ER visits where they declined treatment because they learned it would be out of network, were frustrated with the wait time, or began to feel better.

    I’m having a hard time working up much sympathy for or outrage on behalf of these “patients.” Pretty much by definition, anyone in any of the three categories mentioned above are not emergencies and shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    Setting aside the twin scams of “facility fees” and third party staffing of ERs (however THAT works), how many times does the high cost of emergency room “care” have to be reported before people learn that you’re going to get hosed if you go there to treat a cut or a scrape or an upset stomach?

    Make a sign and post it on your refrigerator so you won’t forget: Walking into an ER and giving them your name will likely cost you thousands. Make sure you absolutely need what they’re selling before you do it.

    1. a different chris

      Sorry, but you keep saying “you you you”. “You” can be the prime breadwinner of a family, or even just the one with the family medical insurance, and what are you supposed to do if your SO simply takes the kid to the emergency room and calls you from there?

      Fight over it? The lectures about “personal responsibilty” can wear thin when you have another adult who you cannot control but you are legally the “same” person.

      My solution is just to buy the most expensive insurance available. It saves me $$ every year. It also means I don’t drive a BMW, once upon a time I cared but I got over it.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      thing is, in an apparent crisis, the “patient” may be taken to the ER by an ambulance called by someone else and may not have been in a position to refuse. it is not as if, when you can’t breathe, you are going to quiz the EMTs on whether the hospital they are taking you too is in your plan. they don’t know.

      some individuals may fall in the category you describe, but not all. it’s a sucky system, as we all know.

    3. Matt

      ” how many times does the high cost of emergency room “care” have to be reported before people learn that you’re going to get hosed if you go there to treat a cut or a scrape or an upset stomach?”

      Speak for yourself before you blame the victim. I had no idea you could walk into an emergency room, not receive treatment, and get billed. Maybe I”m just that stupid, but I know I’m not the only one.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Probably makes sense, it they know enough to leave ed policy to others. It’s primarily a political and financial position.

      Probably got tired of having their educator Superintendents buffaloed.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The charter school industry has been trying to take over the LAISD for at least a decade. They were fought off last time, but it appears the millions funneled into the situation (not to mention to the LA Times to set up a charter-friendly education section) have finally bought the district.

  25. Paul O

    Ok, off topic but vaguely connected to an earlier Links. Someone recommended Max Tegmark’s ‘Our Mathematical Universe’ and I said it would be my next audio book. Thank you for that, I really enjoyed it.

    For those that have read Tegmark then I believe Hawking, in his final paper, is refuting (that may be too strong) the level 2 multiverse.

    ‘The new Hawking-Hertog assessment indicates that there can only be universes that have the same laws of physics as our own’

    (maybe a link from a source other than the BBC may have been better today ;-) )

  26. a different chris

    >Apple Allays iPhone Worries, Adds $100 Billion to Buyback Plans

    I am such an idiot that when I read that headline I thought they were going to buyback iPhones. Silly me.

  27. Tooearly

    “Jeff Bezos explains how his space company will save civilization”:
    Launch himself into deep space as quickly as possible?

  28. Oregoncharles

    From the RT article on Jill Stein and Russiagate: ” his implication, of course, is that Stein is some sort of subversive or is a Kremlin puppet. ”

    There’s “no such thing as bad publicity,” so I guess I’m grateful. At least some people will see this stuff as the desperate flailing it is.

    “Subversive,” yes, I hope so; but Russia under Putin is a right-wing regime, despite his remarkable ability to talk sense, so I don’t think so.

  29. Oregoncharles

    I’d comment on the Norman Solomon article, but I don’t think I can do it without breaking the rules.

    Let me put it this way: this is a case of sticker shock. Or, shorter: Well, duh.

  30. skippy


    Seems like a cold is doing the rounds, I do have to wonder if some key information is lost in the overall chaos.

    I do know a bit about migration from experiences in the 80s when C-corps was initially fitting out IT in house and have difficultly squaring decades of trial and error constantly repeating itself. That’s even with balance sheet twister [tm] factored in.

    On a happier note my 180m sq 100+ year old hardwood weather board wall is coming up a treat. Nothing like taking all the substandard work off to bare and then get it right. With a yearly wash it should last another 12 years, any work afterwards will be an easy repaint and last another 100+ years – long after I’m gone.

  31. ambrit

    skippy; (above)
    You being in Australia, what kind of hardwood are we talking about? I’ve done a couple of grind down to wood projects over Louisiana first growth pine or cypress siding. Hard work but worth it. To see the grain glisten in the sunlight is almost psychedelic when sinker cypress is involved. My favourite was being a helper/plumber/painter on a renovation of a barge board shotgun house in the Riverbend District of New Orleans. Those vertical siding planks were first growth northern oak, circa 1816. Those boards were a true three inches thick by sixteen to twentyfour inches wide and twenty feet tall. We had to drill holes for the nails to stick in. Some of the stuff we found under the floor…
    The last time we passed by that area I took a side jaunt and found that the place was still there, still occupied in a somewhat gentrified neighbourhood. A continuously lived in two hundred year old house. Some people have the luck of the Martians.

    1. skippy

      Gum tree, spotted in this case. Have a look:

      There was an extension done not to long ago and some builder put up pine, the undressed furry sort. Had to face it to get it calmed down to match up better. I use a carbide tipped stripper with extraction, faced with random orbital, putty nail holes and such, prime with 3” brush, full gap and fill where needed, followed by two top coats w/ brush.

      Here wife’s brothers house as a good example:

      Its one of the areas original houses.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You might be interested in the following two websites on timbers in Australia. There is one at and for a more technical look there is a page at
      Heard a story about ironbark trees mentioned years ago. When the first convicts arrived at Port Jackson (now Sydney) they had to clear the trees away as they came right down to the shore. The convicts were given axes and told to get on with it. The axes were meant for the trees you find in England so it was a bit of a surprise when they started chopping on a new type of tree that quickly picked up the name ironbark for reasons that you can guess at.

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