Links 5/27/18

I thought I bought a micro pig — I was wrong NY Post

The owner of a SLO County fish market bought a 70-pound octopus — but not to sell it The Tribune

The Silence of the Bugs NYT (J-LS). “A study published last fall documented a 76 percent decline in the total seasonal biomass of flying insects netted at 63 locations in Germany over the last three decades. Losses in midsummer, when these insects are most numerous, exceeded 80 percent.” Anecdotes from the NC readership support this: “I have not seen a bug splat on a windshield for ages.” More from the article: “This alarming discovery, made by mostly amateur naturalists who make up the volunteer-run Entomological Society Krefeld…” Wave that in front of anybody whinging that all the jobs in a Jobs Guarantee have to be “make-work.” There are enormous opportunities in citizen science.

It’s Time for the Climate Movement to Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee In These Times

Oaktree founder warns private equity standards slipping FT. Just in time for CalPERS to buy in!

Is This the Next Big Retailer to Melt Down? Its Bonds Crashed Wolf Street. Private equity strikes again!

S&P 500 companies have returned $1 trillion to shareholders in tax-cut surge Business Insider. Yves: “‘Returned.’ Help me. Sure to be mainly buybacks.”

Google, Facebook and Snap challenge governance standards FT. Because they’re crooks. And where’s that Oxford comma?

FIFA Is About to Destroy World Soccer Bloomberg


Guatemala minister: Sheldon Adelson flew officials to Israel AP

The Manchester bomber was only able to massacre people because of the mistakes made by the British government Independent (J-LS).

Only 4.75 Million Join India’s Workforce Annually, Not 12 Million As Claimed India Spend

North Korea

The Unthinkable with North Korea: A Tilt at the Fulcrum of World Power? NBR. Old-school balance-of-power realpolitik, and none the worse for that.

Saturday surprise: Korea leaders meet in un-announced summit Asia Times

The Latest: Trump says Korea talks ‘going along very well’ AP

Five signs the US-North Korea summit might still happen The Hill. Note that the US advance team has left for Singapore.

Nuclear Diplomacy Between Brazil and Argentina: An Imperfect But Important History Lesson War on the Rocks


New polling analysis reveals that a second referendum would swing to Remain Prospect

Maastricht and All That Wynne Godley, LRB. From 1992, still germane.

Ireland votes to remove constitutional ban on abortion by resounding two-thirds majority Irish Times

Here’s a t-shirt you could wear everywhere in East Asia without upsetting anyone Quartz. Handy map of claimed territories in the South China Sea. No issues here!

New Cold War

New Cold War or Recalibration of the Global System Valdai Club

Russia’s Military: More Bark Than Bite The National Interest

Comment on Keith Gessen’s The Quiet Americans Sean’s Russia Blog

Brazil truckers strike enters sixth day Agence France Presse

Trump Transition

US lost track of 1,500 immigrant children, but says it’s not ‘legally responsible’ CNN. Much virtue-signaling on this one.

Trump administration to hand student debt collection to loan servicers, ending use of collectors WaPo

Trump signs executive orders making it easier to fire feds, overhaul official time Federal News Radio

The President has created a broad anthem standard that goes well beyond the playing field Pro Football Talk. Presumably beer sales will halt while the anthem is played?

Stormy Daniels in ‘Vice Industry’ Crypto Effort Investopedia (E. Mayer). E. Mayer commments: “Ms. Daniels has her liaison and legal battle with Trump to thank for rescuing her from ‘Stormy who?’ PR-oblivion and thus enabling her to cash in big-time. Ain’t capitalism grand? We even have another set of ‘everyone will make money!’ promises, so clearly in a few years we can expect to see a batch of newly-minted PornCoin billionaires, not just on the coin-issuer side, but also among the more heroically avid ‘content consumers.'” I dunno. On the one hand, I’m very happy to file Bitcoin and its ilk under The Bezzle. On the other, the demand for porn drove the expansion of the Internet, home video, and the printed word. So…

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Real Constitutional Crisis Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ. “Mr. Trump has an even quicker way to bring the hostility to an end. He can—and should—declassify everything possible, letting Congress and the public see the truth. That would put an end to the daily spin and conspiracy theories.” Good point, unless of course all parties to the dispute view “daily spin and conspiracy theories” not as a bug, but a feature.

The Failed State of Franklin ThoughtCo (CL). Forgotten history….

RFK Jr. doesn’t believe the ‘official story’ that Sirhan Sirhan shot his father alone — and wants a new investigation Raw Story

The Long Journey to Remember One of History’s Worst Lynching Massacres Vice. Note the essential role of debt.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Facebook accused of conducting mass surveillance through its apps Guardian

How Google turned me into my mother. Idoneous Security. From February, still germane.

Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell MIT Technology Review (KS). “I haven’t yet decided if Alexa will be leaving our home; I’m going to talk it over with my family first. But you can bet the Echo Dot’s microphone will be muted while we discuss it.” You mean, Echo Dot’s mute button will have been pressed. Not quite the same, eh?

Democrats in Disarray

Bernie Sanders: Why Democrats Can’t Win Midterms 2018 Without Him Newsweek. Amazingly, not a hatchet job, or at least not a crude hatchet job.

The case against Democrats winning back the House Chris Cilizza, CNN. Democrats about to blow another easy lay-up? Still, 162 days is a long time in politics….

Election fears recede for House Republicans The Hill

Democrats Who Voted to Roll Back Banking Regulations Took Lots of Money From Banks Splinter

Hillary Clinton’s other dream job? To run Facebook Los Angeles Times. Clinton: “It’s the biggest news platform in the world. We can listen to really brilliant experienced writers like [Washington Post columnist] David Ignatius and try to keep up with the news, but most people in our country get their news, true or not, from Facebook.” She will not change. There’s the elitism (“we” vs. “most people”). Then there’s the sloppy wet kiss for David Ignatius.

Class Warfare

These U.S. Workers Are Being Paid Like It’s the 1980s Bloomberg (JT McPhee).

Students with lower A Levels from poorly performing schools do just as well on medical degrees University of York (KS).

Lawyer who helped top payday lenders prey on financially desperate is sentenced to 8 years in prison Philadelphia Inquirer (KS).

Symposium: For decades, court has built “an edifice of its own creation” in arbitration cases — it’s time to tear it down and rebuild SCOTUSblog

Cultural hitchhiking and competition between patrilineal kin groups explain the post-Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck Nature. “This suggests that around 5000–7000 BP [Before Present, so 2000-5000 BC], coinciding with the post-Neolithic period in each region of the Old World for which the bottleneck was found, there were minor changes in the number of reproducing females and a more stable female population, whereas dramatic reduction in the number of reproducing males occurred.” So, virilicide?

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. J Sterling

    “Competition between patrilineal kin groups” sounds like a very dry way of saying the Trojan Wars and similar. The Greek and Trojan women went on to have children as before, but where the fathers of those children were previously Greek and Trojan men, afterwards they were Greek men only.

    1. Lee

      If your family tree has no branches, you may be a descendant of a lethally competitive patrilineal kin group. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I was interested in reading this link and did grind through to the end with less than 100% comprehension. It seems in the transition between hunter gathering and the development of early city-states portions of humankind organized into male-dominated family groups that warred with other similar family groups. The losers lost their women and probably their lives or means of reproducing. This finding raises some interesting questions about what sort of people this process selected and as their distant relatives what sort of people we might be without the constraints of the state.

      However as I read this link I became more and more annoyed with the language and round-the-bend over-the-meadows-and-through-the-woods thought constructions. I think this kind writing and expression goes a long way toward explaining at least part of the growing loss of stature science and its pronouncements have earned. This mash-up of jargon from anthropology and genetics combined with awkward sentence and thought constructions does wonders to make this work needlessly difficult to read and understand.

      There are far worse examples to pull but I thought this extract shows special gift for using even relatively common terminology to obscure the clarity of expression:
      “Our hypothesis would predict that post-Neolithic societies, despite their larger population size, have difficulty retaining ancestral diversity of Y-chromosomes due to mechanisms that accelerate their genetic drift, which is certainly in accord with the data.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        One wonders if there are justified cavils and caveats addressable to what seems to be the author’s thesis, that a particularly Chimpanzee set of political-economic-war-ready social groups and individuals might be the ones who stuck us mopes today in the poop soup we are in, slowly rising to a boil on our own combustion-consumption manifestation of Maslow’s postulated hierarchy of “needs” (should be “wants,” mostly?) Nature, nurture, or some failure of the lower-order processes to effectuate the design intended and laid down by the Great Architect of it all?

        Any chance of surviving with one’s memories and awareness intact in a transmogrification or chronosynclastic infundibulation to a different (hopefully ‘better’ as us mopes might define it) parallel universe?

      2. Lord Koos

        I’m not sure if it was from the climate shifting or inter-tribal warfare, but I read that at one point the total prehistoric homo sapiens population in Africa was down to less than 1400 people, and we are all descended from them. That seems a fairly small gene pool…

          1. JBird

            The exact numbers and when are debatable, but yeah twice the species had less than ten thousand people and the Toba eruption is one of them.

      3. jax

        There’s that phrase again … “the losers lost ‘their’ women”, reducing women to the status of property, perhaps equal to livestock. And thus some scientists and some of the commentariat maintain the fiction that in all of human history until perhaps the last 150 years, females have had no agency and, with a nod to the logical conclusion of this idea, have provided nothing of worth to civilization beyond a breeding service to males.

        Yet each of us knows at least one woman, if not several, who’ve changed our lives through their superior mental faculties, or through cunning and manipulation.

        It’s way past time that the concept of “males and ‘their’ women” be jettisoned in the contemplation of our shared history. Homo sapiens split off from our next of kin, the chimpanzees and the bonobos, over 5 million years ago. We’ve had time to create a dizzying array of social relationships, and contemplating the agency of women, even in warrior cultures like a Sparta, should prompt us to re-imagine our past in new, self-instructing ways.

        What an intellectual adventure awaits for the taking.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          “There’s that phrase again … “the losers lost ‘their’ women”, reducing women to the status of property, perhaps equal to livestock.” The usage ‘their’ women is no different than when women speak about their man or men or what-you-will. Feeling a sense of possessing one’s mate is hardly a male only feeling. How about “the losers lost the women of their clan”? Just how politically correct does a person need to be when offering a brief thumbnail of a lengthy article from Nature discussing genetic archeo-anthropology and theories of culture during the Neolithic era? [The study discussed patriarchal clans but did suggest an interest in making further studies in other geographic areas to determine what differences they find in matriarchal clans from the same era.]

          Did you read this link? It reported on studies of genetic evidence for a male lineage bottleneck sometime in the Neolithic age. The authors obtained indications the bottleneck occurred during the time when humankind made the transition from hunter gathering to agricultural city states. The authors postulated that during this transition period, for in the geographic areas they studied, human society was dominated by numerous patriarchal clans. They further speculated that warfare between clans lead to the removal of male lineages as the losing males were killed or gelded, and the females of child-bearing age were absorbed into the winning clan. The lack of noticeable bottleneck in female genetics provided evidence these women were added to mating pool available to the winning clan.

          You can go off on “intellectual adventure” but unless you’re interested in creating some form of fiction your adventure may result in misadventure.

          1. Jax

            One would have to be a female reading anthropology for fifty years to understand just how much the phrase “their women” grates on the intellectual ear.

            And yes, if the article is discussing 7,000 to 4,000 BC across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, then there is an intellectual adventure to be had for the taking. And it is certainly one where women have agency.

            Witness the continuing excavation of Catal Hyok, a Neolithic settlement in present day Turkey comprised of between 5,000 and 10,000 residents over the course of its history which is said to begun between 9,500 and 7,500 BC, and was in full glow in 6,000 BC. We are far beyond small patrilineal tribes fighting it out when a settlement contains thousands of people over several thousands of years right in the middle of our researchers’ time line and geographic area.

            So far, Catal Hyok, the oldest known ‘city’, has several tremendously interesting interpretations, changing over the decades as one would expect, and most recently including evidence of complete equality between men and women.

            If you’re not familiar with Catal Hyok, this Wikipedia link will do as an intro:

            I’d also suggest folks take a look at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey to fill this particular prehistoric tale out more fully.

            The research at these sites is rewriting the ‘dawn of civilization’ story and makes me suspicious of the ‘warring patrilineal tribes’ theory when these supposed battles are taking place among such large groups of people with such sophisticated cultures.

            Yes. Intellectual adventure to be had for the taking. Indeed.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Agreed that Çatalhöyük is a fascinating site and when I saw it on a TV doco got a book to learn more about it. Just remember the hazards of juxtaposing modern social attitudes to people that lived so long ago. There is always a mismatch. As an example, the doco I saw this on was being visited by a bunch of Aussies of note. When it was explained to them that by nature it was a cooperative society and they all led the same lifestyles, one of the Aussies – a former Olympic swimmer – was visibly upset and blurted out how could you prove your superior abilities if they all lived the same. His was an attitude that could be found in a more developed society but all he saw was mediocrity in that society when it was something else altogether. (I felt like saying ‘don’t worry mate – the mediocre are always at their best!’). It’s always about context and seeing how those people back then saw their lives – not how we see them.

          2. JTFaraday

            “The authors obtained indications the bottleneck occurred during the time when humankind made the transition from hunter gathering to agricultural city states.”

            Well okay, and I confess I didn’t read it, but how do they know it was patriarchal clans at war that killed the men and raped the women? Upon what evidence is this bloody rape fantasy based?

            If they have no other historical evidence then they just don’t know. In which case, hypothesis generation should really include more than one hypothesis that everyone will read as a conclusion.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Without lingering too long over it: there’s some really ugly stuff in the archeological record. One overall result: they dig up massacres, but one demographic is always mostly missing: young women.

              The Rev Kev went through the logic thoroughly. It isn’t fantasy, it’s survival.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Warfare like that does indeed reduce women on the losing side to “property,” albeit property with agency and a long-term effect on the culture and, indeed, genetics.

          This is an example of the “selfish gene” in action. It is not a gene for selfishness, but rather that our genes “care” only for their own survival, regardless of how their bearers feel about it.

          So genetically, those women were winners, regardless of their personal feelings. Nature at its rawest.

          We do try to be less raw these days, with mixed success.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Sigh. this is an old confusion, abetted by our language. The possessive case indicates not only ownership, but also “pertaining to.” We don’t claim to own “our” parents, state, or country.

          And anyone who actually thinks women don’t have agency is in for some unpleasant education.

        4. The Rev Kev

          I can sympathize with your taking umbrage about losers losing their women but there is no sense trying to overlay 21st century mores and attitudes over Neolithic ways of life. Try to look at it from the viewpoint of a raider tribe scouting another tribe. Now who has value? The young men of that tribe do not as they will fight you to defend their tribe. You kill those that resist and any survivors you take as slave workers unless your tribe is of a sophisticated enough political structure to incorporate them into a raider army itself.
          You leave old people as they are unnecessary mouths to feed and are of no value. You forget children as well as also being extra mouths to feed. Too many resources would have to be used to support them which would be better spent in supporting the tribe’s own children. That leaves the young women from about puberty to those in their thirties. They have value. Yes, they have sexual value too but more importantly they are fertile and they will increase eventually both the numbers and strength of tribe. They are dexterous workers and their work will support both themselves and the tribe. They are from our viewpoint a long-term economic investment.
          As for the women themselves, they go from a weaker to a stronger tribe and are part of a culture that will support them while they produce children for the new tribe. Over time they may be able to achieve power in combination with the right mate. Probably they were never on the top in their old tribe in any case. Of course taking in ‘foreign’ women can also be a bit of a Trojan horse as the women raise the children for that tribe. They can import the belief systems of their old tribe and make it part of their new tribe. They have been even know to change the language of the tribe that took them in.
          If this all sounds brutal it was just how it was as all those tribes rode the edge of survival. You did stuff like that or you fell off that edge – and left no descendants. As an illustration of how brutal it could get, watch the scene below from the movie “Apocalypto” depicting a Meso-American slave raid-

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            a bunch of things come to mind while perusing the comments, here. Mitochondrial Eve(bottleneck, some 150kya), the Kurgan Hypothesis(wherein warlike pastoralists invaded “old europe” and supplanted their relatively egalitarian and peaceful way of life), the Bronze Age Collapse(Mycenae, and especially the earlier Minoan Civilisation, were egalitarian and “gylanic”), followed by the Dorians, etc(walike pastoralists par excellance), Trojan War, . the “Rape” of the Sabine Women. The anecdotes are numerous.
            I’m very familiar with archaomythology…to a lesser extent with archaolinguistics…and archao-genetics I only have a general understanding of…but they all point to the same sorts of phenomena…that happened over and over: pastoralists taking over agriculturalists. violently.
            One must always keep in mind when thinking about these sorts of things that the archaeological record is woefully incomplete…and “incomplete” is hardly a strong enough word.
            Rocks and metal survive relatively easy…but wood and textiles and DNA do not.
            There is necessarily a lot of speculation and conjecture embedded in the process of trying to put together Where We Come From.
            and, as mentioned above, the discovery of Gobele Topeke threw a wrench into what we thought we knew…just like Gimbutas did before, and a bunch of others have before that.
            Popper’s “All knowledge is provisional” applies, here.
            Nevertheless, I find such things fascinating.

            1. blennylips

              I’m very familiar with archaomythology…to a lesser extent with archaolinguistics…and archao-genetics

              The chronosynclastic infundibulum is working as planned. This morning Eric Raymond posted on historical linguistics, a long amateur interest of his:

              The new science of Indo-European origins

              Why hasn’t the one big book of IE origins been written yet? Basically because the science needed to pull it together is paleogenetics – the study of fossil human DNA – but the linguists and the archaeologists and the paleogeneticists don’t talk to each other very well.

              BTW, I’m glad there are still free range hippies, Amfortas, I enjoy your commentary.

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                thanks. from any of y’all, that means quite a bit, given the intellectual wasteland i find myself in.
                as for the Indoeuropeans, I like the mighty tome by J.P. Malory, as a good go to reference… (hope i did that right)

                for a deeper look into the Myth side of that whole thing, anything by Mercea Eliade. Broad and deep.
                My introduction to all this was the fourth volume of Joseph Campbell’s “Masks of God”, which was laying around the house when I was a kid. After Zarathustra, that four volume work is still my favorite book.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It helps, when writing about difficult ideas, to keep words and sentence construction simple.

        When one talks about easily understood, or well known ideas, one can be more unrestrainted with obscure ways of presenting them.

        It’s also possible that when a subject is obscure to the writer, his/her. writing can seem obscure as a result, though its also possible that the writer could miscomprehend it to be something else that can be presented unobscuredly.

    3. Ted

      Oh dear, something is very and obviously wrong with the empirical basis of these claims. The population sizes between MtDNA and Y chromosome are hugely different. Something on the order of 5:1. No human population in the world has ever been recorded to have such an extreme gender disparity, especially over a vast world region like Eurasia. I would not hand my hat on the findings of this research yet. I suspect a revision or invalidation is in the works at some future date.

      That said, the time period is associated with the first urban societies and the rise of bronze age warrior cults (around 3000 BC). See the archaeologist R. Brian Ferguson’s writing on the origins of war.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The ‘before present’ (3000 BC = 5018 BP or so) dating scheme can be problematic.

        In another 500 years, today’s 5018 BP, if and likely still unchanged in a book in a library then, or not updated annually in a cloud file,will be factually wrong (should be, in half a millennium, 5518 BP).

        On the other hand, 3000 BC is always 3000 BC.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Before Present dating scheme can be problematic.

        The ‘present’ moves.

        That 3000 BC is 5018 BP, or so, today.

        In another 300 years, it would off by 3 centuries, when referring to 3000 BC.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            This is a confusing choice, ‘present,’ even defined specifically.

            Interestingly, there is no year zero, AD or BC.

            Presumably that was by convention and not some divine truth or divine fact. My guess is that was decided before the introduction of the concept of zero.

      3. J Sterling

        They know what they’re doing, and you don’t. The “effective population size” mentioned in the text is a tool of the trade, and it doesn’t mean there were more women than men then.

        I’m not saying it’s impossible for casual passers-by in the comments of a blog to spot an error missed by people who have been concentrating on a subject for the span of their careers, and are part of a vigorous and competitive community all doing so. But it’s not the way to bet.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          “They know what they’re doing, and you don’t.”
          I feel very uncomfortable with that sentiment. I would far rather put trust in my own understanding — although there are times when trust in the experts is about all one can do. We can’t be our own experts in everything — but putting my trust in the wisdom of experts is hardly ideal. I am most uncomfortable trusting the wisdom of experts when that wisdom is encased in such thick layers of unnecessary jargon and peculiarly complex ways of stating results which could be far more clearly and succinctly expressed.

          1. J Sterling

            Sure, but don’t expect me to put trust in your understanding. Notice I didn’t say I don’t know what they’re doing, I said the previous commenter doesn’t: my understanding is already beyond his, to the point that I quickly understood the flaw in his reasoning.

            If anyone thinks those charts represent population size, note that they go up to 0 thousand years ago, i.e. the present, and suggest the present day female population of the Earth is about 500 thousand women and 150 thousand men. If you think the scientists who created that chart, and the scientists who reproduce it for the current paper, and all the other scientists who have discussed this chart, just didn’t spot that, then I don’t know what to say.

            You can’t go from a distrust of the argument from authority to suggesting everyone except you is a moron. There has to be a point at which you say “so many other people would have to be idiots, that maybe I missed something.”

      4. Oregoncharles

        “Being alive” and “getting to breed” are two different things, especially for males.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Passing on your Y Chromosome to some arbitrary future generation and getting to breed are also two different things. Each male passes on an X Chromosome as well, but we can’t track that. (So far? The arguments of this article used to be in the ‘what songs did the Sirens sing?’ category!)

      5. Jeremy Grimm

        I’m not sure where you got the ratio 5:1.
        “First, it is possible that ecological or climatic factors cause sex-specific demographic change. Some ecological or climatic factors such as stress or disease may impact male infant mortality and sex ratio at birth7,8. However, such effects are small and cannot account for the 1:17 disparity4 between male and female population sizes inferred from the uniparental data.”

    4. Oregoncharles

      For instance, from Wikipedia: “Indo-European migrations were the migrations of pastoral peoples speaking the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE), who departed from the Yamnaya and related cultures in the Pontic–Caspian steppe, starting at c. 4000 BCE.”

      Note the date. Of course, that doesn’t cover Africa or East Asia. But Indo-European is the largest single language family. Their super-weapon was the horse.

      Incidentally, the thesis of the article may not be supported if the effect comes down to a single invasion.

  2. Clive

    Re: Maastricht and All That

    Some problems are so old, they are almost geological (I can beat that 1992 piece with this, what we’d now call an infographic) from 1975:

    EU GDP Per Capital 1975

    1. Clive

      And for further thought, why has Ireland made up so much ground, but Greece and Spain, erm, not so much?

      Loathed though I am to say it, perhaps unfortunately a financialised economy “works”? At least by some measures.

      1. Quentin

        Well yes and no. Maybe a financialized economy by the generous grace of god and minion, hum, US and GB.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Many years ago I studied economic geography and one striking feature is that geographic inequalities are very persistent over time. Even the industrial revolution can be seen as a long term historic ‘blip’, which saw poorer areas that found themselves over coal/iron reserves had a good century, then fell back while traditional power centres like London, Berlin, Paris, New York, etc., re-established their dominance.

        Whats often forgotten about Ireland is that it was once a very prosperous part of Europe, benefiting from not being involved in seemingly endless continental wars. 18th Century Ireland would have been a much more prosperous place than, for example, Sweden. But it fell back severely in the 19th Century due to its lack of coal/iron and the development of an extraction economy – you can still see this in the Irish railway system, with rural stations located in places convenient for cows (literally, the main reason they were built was to bring cows to Dublin so they could be exported) rather than for commercial development. The Irish economy in the 19th Century was also deliberately sabotaged due to its weak voice in London – hence, for example, the crippling of the whiskey industry (once the biggest in the world) as tax changes favoured the new Scottish whisky distillers with their new processes producing inferior, but far cheaper product. Irish inventions, such as the Pearson steam turbine, benefited the north of England, but not Ireland.

        And on independence in 1922, what is often overlooked was that the creation of NI essentially chopped the industrial part of the economy off from what was a mixed administrative/agriculture/industrial society. Its as if the Ruhr valley was taken off Germany (and we know what that did to the German economy between the wars). Add to that ruinous domestic policies in the mid-20th Century – early austerity by a new nation determined to prove its credit worthiness, then a stupid trade war with Britain. Also, a noble but economically illiterate attempt at autarky in the 1950’s compounded the damage.

        So you can argue that Irelands post EU boom was simply a rebound to an earlier state of prosperity, once never achieved by Greece, etc. Ireland also benefited greatly from having a very high quality and largely corruption free State apparatus, the one gift of colonialism – I’d argue that this is the key difference between Ireland and the Mediterranean laggards.

        Its hard to know for certain how Ireland would have done had it not deliberately made itself an aircraft carrier for free floating investment and financialisation. There is no question it was a successful policy, but there are certainly grounds for saying that Ireland would have grown very rapidly anyway after the 1970’s, so long as it stopped following actively stupid economic policies. Demography alone was in Irelands favour, combined with a good educational system. Piketty has argued of course that much of Europes post war growth was a ‘rebound’ from mid-20th Century destruction, rather than a ‘norm’. Much the same I think could be said of Ireland, just over a different period.

        1. Clive

          Yes I think the rule of law, the absence of a client state or clientelism and well established administrative capabilities are huge competitive advantages. Interesting isn’t it that so few IMF or world bank “structural reforms” ever reform these sorts of structures?

          There’s also some inescapable geographic realities which no amount of mismanagement by government can fundamentally alter — a benign climate (moderate to low heating degree days and virtually no cooling degree days), practically limitless potable water and no hurricanes (or perhaps only hundred-year plus return periods for 120+ mph wind gusts). Predominantly flat and accessible land. No seismic risks.

          Plus being the first thing you run into when you sail across the Atlantic.

          Makes me wonder like you did if there isn’t such a thing as a natural embedded prosperity in a given area of the world. Ireland certainly demonstrates “there is a lot of ruin in a country”. The degree of rebound in a generation or so does warrant some serious investigation by Serious People.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I think your last paragraph highlights two very important points, frequently overlooked by economists. Economic geographers do tend to look at areas which are naturally gifted by nature, and they do usually proper over very long periods. For example, the Rhinelands, the Central European Plain, southern England, the floodplains of China, etc. Economics simply doesn’t look at long enough time periods.

            The other one – which Piketty highlighted – is remarkably often overlooked – that much so called ‘growth’ is simply rebound from periods of war or other setbacks, especially when human capital is maintained. The astonishing recovery of Germany and Japan after their mid 20th Century destructions I think shows that having deep human capital (i.e. lots of good engineers) and good administrative structures is by far the most important thing for a society to prosper and maintain resilience.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I think that your last sentence is key. The most outstanding example here may be Singapore as, even though it has a strategic location, it has a very limited size and few actual resources to play around with. And yet it has manged to build itself up into a global commerce, finance and transport hub.

              1. HotFlash

                Had occasion to do biz with an elite high school in Singapore a few years back. They had talks/seminars every Friday on ‘topics of general interest’ which blew me away. Eg, a series on patent laws and procedures — in high school, holy smokes! These guys are playing for keeps.

              2. ObjectiveFunction

                Note to Tom Friedman (MoU be upon him): taxi drivers are often worth talking to in Singapore; many are well educated retirees supplementing their incomes.

                And among locals and expats alike, the main topic of concern is the kids’ education: either finding the right school or Junior keeping up with the Confucian average.

                Wouldn’t it be nice to see that anywhere in the West?

          2. Clive

            PS any US readers who know of a good academic-ey book on the rise of the sunbelt states, please add a recommendation (title or author). This is a subject I’d like to learn more about but there a lot of points which PlutoniumKun raised I’d not considered until I just read them now so I’m obviously only scratching the surface in my knowledge. Sunbelt development — arguably at the expense of northern states — seems like a good place for me to start, but I’m struggling to find anything “meaty”.

            1. funemployed

              I learned much from “The Silent Majority” by Matthew Lassiter on this front. Also has a pretty good (though somewhat dated) list of citations to troll if it isn’t quite what you’re looking for.

              1. Clive

                Thanks, that’d looked like a great place to start. But briefly, digressing, I inadvertently stumbled across our future faces-being-ripped-off when I checked out U.K. availability on the loathsome Amazon (I hate having to resort to them, but niche publications are hard to now get hold of with the demise of proper bookstores which would have traditionally been able to order anything in for you).

                It takes a lot to shock me, but the £33 cost foretells our seemingly inexorable slide into Amazon’s tender embrace — and what, precisely, will happen to publishing pricing.

                Hopefully I’ll find it cheaper at an alternative outlet or, if not, at least the thirty-odd quid will not go to lining Bezos’ already well-stuffed pockets.

                That said, I really don’t understand publishers and the industry pricing model. Econned, for example, which I’d have thought was a similar technical or academic work is £11.99 for the hard copy and c. £3.80 for the Kindle edition. That pricing makes sense superficially but not if the author gets income gouged and Amazon simply make a whole load of extra margin on selling something which has practically zero cost of production and distribution.

                1. HotFlash

                  Well, locally-owned and union-staffed Powell’s has it, used. Not sure what shipping to UK would run, but there is a lovely long description and reviews.

                  Your (socialist) public library might have it, too.

                  1. Clive

                    They (Powell’s) did indeed! And I think $7.50 for standard international shipping is quite reasonable. NC commentariat is the best. Thanks again all.

                    Oh, and Bezos, that’s fifty bucks you’re not getting your grubby paws on from me. You’re not the only game in town, as I’ve just proved. Pay your staff better and treat them nicer.

                2. Yves Smith

                  Thanks for the kind words.

                  A big differentiator is whether a book is used in college courses. Those that wind up being adopted are priced at a huge premium.

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    And biting Wall St. on the rear doesn’t get you assigned in college classes?

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Its an interesting topic, I’m not aware of any book on the question of ‘why’ the sunbelt states have done so well, in defiance of natural physical limits. I’ve often assumed a major driver Depression era investments in river control, which opened up vast tracks of cheap land along with plentiful water and cheap hydropower. In the ‘dry’ areas of the mid-west they provided water to make deserts habitable, in areas like Florida they provided dry land. In other words, it was public subsidy.

              1. John Zelnicker

                May 27, 2018 at 1:19 pm
                The factors you mention were critical infrastructure that enabled the later industrialization of the South.

                However, see my response to Clive just below. The broad movement of industry to the Sunbelt is mostly a phenomenon of the neo-liberal period beginning in the 1980’s when cutting costs to boost profits was the only mantra allowed in the corporate boardrooms and labor, especially unionized labor, had to be repressed and wages suppressed. The Sunbelt already had laws and attitudes in place to help make this happen.

              2. J Sterling

                The spread of air conditioning might come into it, according to the refrigeration episode of the pbs science/technology history series “How We Got To Now”. They also suggest the rise of the Sunbelt brought Reaganism, rather than Reaganism the Sunbelt.

                The real story is probably synergistic, leading to an overdetermined abundance of apparent causes.

              3. rd

                US Army Corps in the Mississippi Region, Bureau of Reclamation in the West, interstates highways, and air conditioning built in the Northeast and sold to the south and southwest.

                Without those four things, much of the south and southwest would be unlivable for many people.

                The USACE activities were largely in response to the 1927 great flood. BuRec grew out of the Great Depression and WW II. Interstate highways and air conditioning came into their own in the 1960s. All the pieces came together for explosive growth in the south and southwest from the ’60s on.

            3. John Zelnicker

              May 27, 2018 at 9:46 am
              You may already know this, but one of the main reasons for the rise of the Sunbelt is that most of those states have right-to-work laws and a visceral hatred of unions. This, of course, is quite effective in suppressing wages and keeping total labor costs down.

              Sunbelt states have also been more than willing to give large employers tax abatements lasting many years and costing up to hundreds of millions of dollars since they don’t give a sh*t about schools or infrastructure. Most studies of these tax abatements indicate that very few have actually been beneficial for the states.

              Thus, e.g., the South has become a regional powerhouse in the automotive industry. In Alabama, we have Mercedes, Hyundai, and Honda assembly plants, as well as engines produced by Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota, making us one of the top 5 states for production of cars and light trucks.

              The whole phenomenon of the rise of the Sunbelt has many other contributing factors depending on industry and location, but the two I mention are a couple of the biggest.

              1. wilroncanada

                Yes. The sunbelt states became in a sense, an in homeland maquidora. They seduced the offshoring industries to locate there from the rustbelt states and from Canada, with low quality working conditions, low wages, and massive subsidies.

              2. ambrit

                In addition, the Sunbelt states are right next to a big pool of exploitable labour: Mexico and points south.
                Another reason the Unions were demonized Down South was the fear on the part of the southern Elites that the unions, drawing from the lower levels of the white population at first, could easily expand their struggles to include the traditionally exploited black population. One major tool of the elites to suppress the blacks was the myth of White Supremacy. The way used to enable this was to make the poor whites fear the blacks. Integrated unions shifted the dynamic from racial to class oriented struggle.
                One major enlightenment that comes about from working alongside other ethnic and racial groups is the realization that ‘they’ are more or less just as big a bunch of deplorables as ‘we’ are.
                M L King was moving in that direction when he was killed.

          1. Brian

            Thanks tegnost; I have always preferred the whiskey to the alternatives. Now I am going to have to go searching for a couple of these.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            The key difference is that most commercial Scottish whiskeys (along with bourbons) are made in Coffey stills, which is essentially an industrialised, continuous distilling process. It produces a very consistent, but bland product, which is why its usually blended to make it saleable. Ironically, its an Irish invention, but Irish distillers refused to use it as it produced a significantly lower quality product than traditional single pot stills. But the canny Scots realised that marketing was more important than quality and quickly persuaded non Celts that industrialised, standard blends like Johnny Walker, etc., were a quality product, in contrast to single malts and pot still whiskeys.

            They were then, aided by taxes placed by London on Irish distilleries, able to undercut the then dominant Irish trade, leaving just three distilleries left in all of Ireland. The popularity of single malts came later.

      3. Synapsid

        You aren’t loathed, Clive, your comments are appreciated at NC.

        (Yes, yes–I’m making a point. Why do you ask?)

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe a financialized economy can succeed if surrounded by productive economies.
        Maybe if a financialized economy finds every economy around it financializing the same way, and they all race to the financialization bottom together; they all end up financialized, de-productionised, and poor together.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “The Manchester bomber was only able to massacre people because of the mistakes made by the British government”

    Well at least the British learnt their lesson and never again repeated that mistake that led to all that death and carnage on their own soil. That is, if you ignore the more than 850 (official) British Jihadists who left the UK to fight in Syria and Iraq and of whom 400 have already returned to the UK. What sound does 400 potential ticking time-bombs make again?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The key point I think is not just interfering, its inconsistent interfering. Jihadists have realised that if you wait long enough, eventually the Intelligence Services will find you ‘useful’, and all it needs is a new name and you have a rich and powerful ally.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, that process worked just fine for a whole lot of Nazis, didn’t it? Why do us mopes continue to call thi Beast “the intelligence services?” Just out of habit and training? Gathering what the war congnoscenti and Game of Risk!(tm)-level armchair geopoliticians apparently think of as “intelligence” is but a tiny set of the growing scope and mass of Big Data, depending of course on what game they are actually playing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not a great fan of people like Tommy Robinson, Paul Joseph Watson or Lauren Southern though I watch them as often they have interesting things to say and information that you see nowhere else. Still, it is disturbing to see how he was arrested on trumped up charges and Lauren Southern was refused entry into the UK. That only makes their viewpoint more widely accepted and believable. It’s like the whole of the UK is being turned into a ‘safe space’. That or censorship of free speech is the new norm. I’ll have to ask Julian Assange about that one.

        1. Mark Karx

          Speech has never been free in the UK. There is nothing similar to the first amendment. One form of prohibited speech is publicising criminal defendants identities prior to a final verdict. That’s what Tommy was doing when he was arrested. I think it’s quite sensible to limit reporting until after a verdict is reached. That way innocent lives aren’t ruined by vigilante mobs.

    2. Mirdif

      The Bherlin Gildo case is perhaps the best pointer as to why the authorities might be somewhat sanguine with regard to any potential attacks.

  4. allan

    New lava flow crosses onto Hawaii geothermal plant property [Reuters]

    … The lava crossed onto the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) Saturday evening local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, having destroyed dozens of nearby houses in the past few days.

    Since Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began a once-in-a-century-scale eruption May 3, authorities have shutdown the plant, removed 60,000 gallons of flammable liquid and deactivated wells that tap into steam and gas deep in the Earth’s core. …

    But lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world and the potential threat is untested, according to the head of the state’s emergency management agency. Local residents fear an explosive emission of deadly hydrogen sulfide and other gases should wells be ruptured.

    Residents have complained of health hazards from emissions from the plant since it went online in 1989 and PGV has been the target of lawsuits challenging its location on the flank of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. …

    Sounds less than optimal. Any experts in the commentariat want to weigh in on how serious this is?

    1. nippersdad

      I have seen discussions of this controversy before, but the big question that never seems to be answered in articles like this seems to be: “If you are worried about things like the venting of hydrogen sulfide, why did you move onto the flanks of an active volcano?” It is not like this geothermal plant inserted something new into the environment. This is not a Fukushima where the threats were imported, and a volcano can make new vents wherever it wants to; no hydrothermal plant required.

      This just sounds like people who moved into the High Sierra’s and then had a hissy when they found out that there were mountain lions in their back yard. I can’t say that I feel much pity for them. If anyone needs to be challenged for having voluntarily moved onto a volcano it should be the residents.

    2. heresy101

      The Hawaii plant is 30 years old and presumably paid for, so other than taking a quarter of the big lsland’s power offline, there isn’t a major loss.

      For all the wringing of hands over the hydrogen sulfide that might come from the geothermal wells, has anyone asked how much hydrogen sulfide is coming from the volcano spewing ash and gases 10,000 feet into the air; certainly a whole lot more than will come from the geothermal wells!!

      This article reads as if the coal companies teamed up with solar zealots to attack anything that could diminish their profits. Geothermal is a proven baseload source of energy.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If 30 years is a long-enough time for a volcano-flankside geothermal plant like this to pay itself off and then be profitable, and if this volcano erupts bigly every hundred years or so; then a total destruction of this iteration of the plant has already been “paid for” and the plant owners can simply remove any exogenous potential-pollutants for which they may be blamed from off the property, defend the plant as best they can, and hope for the best.

        If the plant is totally destroyed by lava flows from a volcano which will release more H2S from its own freelance vent-openings and major cone-throat gas belching than would ever come up through the abandoned geothermal plant drill-holes, then the plant may be ruled to have been totally non-polluting in the longest run. And after the volcano quiets back down, a new version of the plant can be installed again to pay itself off in 30 years and then keep making profits by making electricity for 70 more years after that before the next Big Eruption of Kilauea.

    3. Synapsid

      allan and others interested,

      I’ve been following the alerts and the maps of the activity along Kilauea’s Eastern Rift Zone because a friend of mine from high school, back when we did our homework by pressing symbols into moist clay tablets, 1) lives in Pahoa and she and her husband were evacuated from their home shortly after the eruption got underway, and 2) I am a geologist.

      I’d say the problem isn’t with the geothermal plant, although, as you point out, there have been long-standing complaints about hydrogen sulfide leaking from the plant. That is the utility’s fault. The problem with what is going on in the area is that Hawai’i County granted permission for subdivisions to be established along and across an active rift zone of an active volcano. My friend now agrees, says she’s been living in denial etc. (I, on the other hand, live in the Pacific NW in Seismic Hazard Zone 4, and it doesn’t go above 4) In my view, the responsibility for the current tragedy and expense should be laid at the feet of the County. The geothermal plant was built in a zone of geothermal potential where the risks were known and could be acknowledged.

      As it happens, my friend’s home is built upslope of the fissures producing the lava flows that get all the videos. They could move back into their home if it weren’t for all the sulfur dioxide (SO2) being released from the fissures hosting the lava eruptions. When, in the fulness of time, the eruption subsides, so will the SO2 release and my friends can move back home. For those living within the roughly 2400 acres now covered by lava, that option will not be available.

      This isn’t just a Hawai’ian matter: An example of bigger fish is Naples, Italy not Florida, a city and region of maybe 3 million people living on and around Vesuvius, which is capable of the explosive eruptions that Hawai’ian volcanoes aren’t.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Students with lower A Levels from poorly performing schools do just as well on medical degrees University of York (KS).

    There is nothing new in this. I remember from a friends research in Ireland in the 1980’s, comparing final school year exams with final university exams, that the students of ‘good’ schools did worse that expected, while students from ‘bad’ schools did better than expected after 3 years of college. Quite simply, ‘good’ schools (usually, private schools or public schools in prosperous communities) are just better at helping kids get the results they need, they don’t actually ‘educate’ better. In Ireland, medical schools have taken on new aptitude tests to try to compensate for this effect, but its not clear that they work very well.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here, we look at and compare schools (presumably high schools in the US), and universities/medical colleges.

      We can also look at and compare universities and, say, a decade after graduation.

      Do students from Oxford perform no better than those from poorly performing universities?

    2. The Rev Kev

      It would be funny if students that came from ‘good’ schools were getting better results because they were paying students from ‘bad’ schools to do their assignments and homework for them. Then when they went to medical school, they had to do the work themselves which placed them on a slightly inferior footing to their former ’employees’.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Russia’s Military: More Bark Than Bite The National Interest

    The articles conclusions:

    Resolving these contradictory facts, however, is not too difficult. While official rhetoric in relation to military modernization—and in particular to the development of new strategic-weapons systems—might appear alarming to some observers, a detailed examination of what Russia is able to produce suggests that Russian ambitions are in fact more modest.

    Given existing economic constraints, and the leadership’s desire to avoid incurring the costs of an excessive military build-up, defense-industrial production on a scale commensurate with an arms race is simply out of the question. While Russia is likely to feel more confident in its ability to defend itself, to assert its interests near its own borders, and to deploy relatively small-scale forces abroad, it will remain a long way from possessing the ability to overwhelm larger, better equipped peer competitors.

    Unusually sensible article. Its often overlooked just how small the Russian economy is, and how modest their defence expenditure is compared to China, let alone the US. While the old Soviet Union often wasted vast amounts trying to keep up with the US, the Russians under Putin seem to be far more careful and cautious. Its likely that a lot of their high tech weaponry will never be produced in numbers, they are there largely as a deterrent. They are sensible enough not to go for high tech options like the Armata or the Su-57 unless they are proven – in the meanwhile they will stick with tried and tested platforms, upgrading them rather than needlessly replacing them. If you look at something like ground to air defences, they focus on highly effective systems and mass produce them, rather than (in comparison to the US and Nato) having a proliferation of different often overlapping systems.

    And of course the overwhelming evidence is that their focus is on defensive systems such as Sams and submarines, rather than force projection through aircraft carriers and amphibious assault weapons and stealth bombers. Sometimes you judge a country not on what they say, but what they are spending their money on.

    1. Clive

      Agreed, Russia is very judicious in its military expenditure. Not wasting huge amounts of money on assets of dubious value like aircraft carriers for one thing — the Daily Mail here scoffing at its sole aircraft carrier, but failing to mention the U.K.’s hugely expensive new fleet and the F35s that will sit atop of them (when they finally arrive, years late) represent a solution to a military strategy question that no-one can quite manage to ask coherently.

      I guess that for Russia, military purchases are made on the basis of what you will get in exchange for limited resources rather than, as in the U.K. and I suspect the US too, what pet defence contractors you want to support this week.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The UK seems a case in point in how to completely destroy its technological edge through terrible purchasing decisions. From Nimrod onwards it seems the DoD was on a mission to destroy Britains lead in supersonic aircraft, radar, submarines, etc., through stupid decisions. The French and Russians have always appreciated that constant ongoing investment was needed to keep jobs and technology at home. The French spend about as much as the UK on defence but seem to get far more bang per buck, so to speak. Needless to say, they aren’t buying the F-35.

        1. JTMcPhee

          UK and France making such good use of their military bucks, doing stuff like bombing the snot out of Libya and other “coalition of the b@st@rds” operations, and of course being “(smaller) players” in the global thermonuclear game…

      2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        The article at least in my opinion, appears to strengthen the position as Russia being primarily interested in defense – I wonder what value in monetary terms could be placed on geography, the likely will of the Russian population to fight back & of course a Russian Winter.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          One reason I became something of a military nerd is I realised you could learn far more about a countries true nature by looking at the weapons it buys than buy reading what its leaders say. Russian investment is overwhelmingly in weapons designed to win ‘close’ land wars and to defend its homeland from attack, along with nuclear counter attack. It has the ability to strike from long range with aircraft and cruise missiles, but no meaningful force projection (aircraft carriers, heavy lift, amphibious support, etc.)

          This is in contrast to the Soviet Union which (at least in the early days) did indeed invest heavily in assault weaponry (for example, its tanks were always lighter, longer ranged, and more manoeuvrable than the defensive beasts the European countries made in the Cold War years).

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Back when Russia was our Cold War 1 boogeyman one clear-thinking economist was asked how big Russia’s economy was. You know, the juggernaut that would swallow America if we didn’t build our military up even more? The economist thought for a minute, then said “Belgium…plus vodka”.

            How terrifying it must be for the Russians, to have a nation like the U.S. absolutely bent on your destruction. I wonder what our geniuses think would come next? Install a friendly proconsul and let Wall St financialize the place? Or just a collection of failed vassal states a la Libya and Syria?
            Peace Now.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You have to admit that with so few cards to play, they have done a great job. While rebuilding their armed forces, they research and build on a parallel course a set of weapons that negates Washington’s efforts trying to build up a first-strike nuclear capability on their border. This proving successful, they are now allocating resources away from their military into building up their country’s infrastructure and industrial base. The new building blocks like the Armata or the Su-57 fighter are now in place and it is just a matter of generating the resources to build up numbers to make them effective.
      I never really followed the Russian military but got a shock when I saw their special forces appearance in the Crimea in 2014. This was no longer your father’s Soviet forces but was now a fully fledged modern force which was shown by their new Ratnik infantry combat gear system and they way they took control without hardly a shot being fired was showing their professional expertise.
      Without a parasitic contractor mentality, they are looking at US strengths and weaknesses. Take US aircraft carriers. The US takes a lot of pride in their aircraft carriers which serve the same role as gunboats did in the 19th century but the rules have change. Consider this. The US Navy is now building Ford-class aircraft carriers which cost about $13 billion each. Add all the aircraft, equipment and personnel and you are looking at $15 to $20 billion here. For the same price, the Russians would be able to attack it with 1,000-1,500 anti-carrier missiles. And you only need one to get through but aircraft carriers are always vulnerable as show by the number sunk in war games over the years. Even the Viet-Cong managed to sink a US carrier back during the Vietnam war.
      More bark that bite? Somebody should attack them and then we’ll find out.

      1. JTMcPhee

        My take is that articles like the one under discussion are part of the Bernaysian preparation of us mopes for the Grand Expeditions to come, where the dreamers of the Neocon knobbery expect to achieve Full Spectrum Dominance. Not that the Rulers even need to ask us to go along, any more — if some Commander in Chief wants to, with a little help from his “friends” he can launch the nukes and other “strategic suicide devices” or Send In The Clowns in their new CounterInsurgency field uniforms, not of course to forget the Spooks who go off on their own, wildly-nilly.

        Seems to be the best we humans can do, large scale — a fig for our sad little notions of comity and decency and sustainability…

  7. cnchal

    Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell MIT Technology Review

    This isn’t a technology review.

    I acknowledge my responsibility here as a consumer. I knew the array of seven microphones I had put in the center of my house could hear what we were saying and act on it. I also knew that things we asked Alexa to do were being recorded and sent to Amazon, and that I could play back these recordings and delete them if I wanted to.

    But it’s actually quite frustrating to sort through them. You can scroll through months’ worth in the app, but after you select and listen to one, tapping the Back button brings you to the very top of the list again. Deleting hundreds of rogue recordings one by one in this way would take me a very long time. I could delete everything, including the legitimate recordings, in one go, but Amazon warns that this will make Alexa work less well, so of course I’m unlikely to do it.

    So, to review the review, the complaint is that Amazon has a crappy Alexa app that makes it inconvenient to delete just the recordings you want to delete. Alexa doesn’t work for you, it works for Bezos.

    To get it to work for you, it needs to be tuned. Take Alexa to the bathroom and record the “fart, grunt, splash” sound you make on the crapper, and keep at it for a few days. That way, when your Amazon ordered junk get’s delivered you can instruct Alexa to arrange the delivery time for when you are on the crapper, the delivery person can use your Amazon doorknob to put the package inside, and you don’t have to have any contact with another human being. It’s a secret between you and Alexa.

      1. JBird

        I’d guess not hard at all, and that it has already been done. Just consider how often our personal information gets stolen.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Wave that in front of anybody whinging that all the jobs in a Jobs Guarantee have to be “make-work.” There are enormous opportunities in citizen science.

    My concern about the shape that JG jobs might take isn’t rooted in some mistaken idea that there isn’t important work that isn’t getting done in our society. I’m extremely skeptical that JG, however it is structured, will be administered to tackle all those unmet needs. For an example of how state and local government currently targets resources, check out this recent example of the implementation of a federal “Opportunity Zone” program in a Rust Belt city with many struggling neighborhoods. The “distressed areas” designated for “Opportunity Zone” status by a combination of a Democratic mayor, Republican governor and the usual development types included not the neediest neighborhoods but the “hottest,” including the downtown that has seen tens of millions invested by various levels of government over the past few years.

    How can JG avoid the same trap? What possible administrative entity exists or could be created (CAPs like in the War on Poverty?) to choose projects and define jobs that would not be subject to the same grift and graft as programs that have come into existence over the past 50 years? I doubt if the New Dealers cared all that much about the efficacy of every WPA project because their primary goal was to pump some money into the economy. That’s not really our problem today. We’re fighting the well-developed tendency for the rich to siphon off public monies for personal profit.

    The one thing that government could do that would be hard for the vampires to suck out the blood completely is to send everybody money.

    1. HotFlash

      Well you know, opportunists opportune. Everybody has to eat, everybody has to live somewhere, and Walmart is US biggest retailer. Watch prices go up on food, rents and mortgages, and on everything at Walmart. Bingo, income redistribution!

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        If sending people a check ignites that kind of inflation, maybe we should get rid of Social Security, no?

        1. HotFlash

          Not saying that we shouldn’t try it, but we have to think it through first, at the very least. And a good part of that is trying to imagine how grifters will take advantage, because they surely will, and by ‘grifters’ I don’t mean ‘deplorables’.

          Case in point: The WIC program, Women/Infants/Children which subsidized more-or-less healthy food such as infant formula, non-sugared breakfast cereals, unsweetened fruit juices to anyone who registered, with no means testing. What could go wrong? Waaaall, as they say in Indiana, the prices of the selected foods went up, particularly the infant formulae. Ka-ching for the makers of Similac, etc.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Wouldn’t they have the same problem whether the recipients get it free, or receive the same money after sitting a room counting flying insects?

            1. HotFlash

              Probably. But I do not trust the tender mercies of any Big Program or our (current) Government, Big or small. *Anything*, no matter how good or well-intentioned, can be abused, we humans excel at that. We fuss about forms of government, ideology, philosophy, religion, economics, legal systems, but if people simply had good will towards one another, *any* system, including absolute dictatorship, would work fine. Any system could most likely be run and tweaked to deliver great happiness to great numbers of humans, respect our fellow inhabitants of this planet and the planet itself, and probably have world peace, enough food, clothing, shelter, and leisure for everyone to live comfortable, fulfilled, personally satisfying and even artistic lives. But people, we can’t even get the Guys In Chharge to see climate change as a hair-on-fire problem, let alone do anything to fix it.

              As I see it, there will always be those few who want everything and are willing to do anything to get it, and there will always be those willing to be their minions, and you may get the opposite of what you thought you were getting. Case in point, Obamacare.

              So. Hillary running things? NOOOOO!!! The Donald running things? NOOOOOO!!! Bernie running things? I’d take a chance on that. But we saw what happened with that.

              I have found that hoping for the best, but expecting the worst prevents — well, a lot of bicycle accidents, for instance.

            2. HotFlash

              Also, the insects would then have been counted. The counters might feel good about that, esp if that info helped us fix our planet before we run it into the, um, well, not actually ground…

          2. Isotope_C14

            Great points.

            Perhaps a Zeitgeist movement type planned economy could work better than an unplanned economy like predatory global capitalism?

            We have Planned Parenthood, but “invisible hand of god” economy?

            Eliminate the grifters by not giving them the chance?

            Let people have direct democracy to vote for the jobs they want/want done?

            Show the sociopathic 1% how to play World of Warcraft or some other game that they will get sucked into and then we don’t have to worry about them doing more REAL damage to the planet.

    2. Mel

      I think it can only be democracy (aka Responsible Government, maybe aka humanistic government.) If you’ve got it you can oblige the government to do things the right way. If you haven’t, you can’t.

      1. HotFlash

        Agreed. We have a lot of work to do on that score (see, (1.) Democratic Primaries, Hillary vs Bernie, (2.) percentage of US citizens who want gun control, (3.) percentage of US citizens who want universal health care).

    3. nihil obstet

      Many states set up something similar to the “Opportunity Zones” where local governments can designate high poverty areas where businesses get special tax abatements. They’re generally called something like “Development Zones”. The locals see them as a way to lure businesses from other locales, and draw the zones to include the most desirable locations that the rules for the zone will allow. The economic developer will then use that tax break as part of their sales patter to businesses. I once ended up doing a study of a state’s development zones, and concluded that it was a rare business whose decision was affected by the tax abatement. They couldn’t even tell their accountants whether they were in the zone or not, so at tax time each year, the state administering office would get phone calls from the accountants asking for information on the boundaries of the zones. Waste of time designating them, waste of time tracking them, waste of public money paying for them.

      As a bona fide whinger, I’d simply say that I’ve done a lot of work on various economic assistance and incentive programs run through local governments, and I have not seen the level of information and capacity in most local areas posited in the JG proposals that I’ve read about. New Deal programs like the WPA were administered by federal agencies, not local ones.

      A reasonably paid job is much better than no job and no money. So even make work in our current situation is a good thing. I whinge because it’s a lot like Obamacare — it will help some people, but it will never be universal and it will hurt some people. We ought to be thinking through the problems and remain open to alternative ways to organize our creation of and access to resources.

      1. Procopius

        Well, in the CWA (Civil Works Administration, which preceded the better-known PWA) Harry Hopkins hired four MILLION people in six months. It was a bigger success than the Army’s mobilization for World War I. There were no shovel-ready projects and no one had pre-planned things like painting murals, writing plays, or building schools, but Hopkins was a demon about accounting for resources and the absence of corruption was amazing. If you stop and think about it, the absence of scandal during the Obama administration is pretty remarkable, too, given recent history. So we have evidence that it can be done, but you’d better accept in advance that within thirty seconds someone is going to figure out how to game the system.

    4. JTMcPhee

      That, of course, is how the whole enormous “Urban Renewal” wealth transfer and kick-out-the-poors operated. It’s the best we humans can apparently do — scammers grab what ‘social reformers” think up as idealized New Ideas, attach the wealth extraction mechanisms and lootable funding, and turn the autonomous beast loose.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sounds like scamming at various local levels.

        At the federal level, ideals like humanitarian aid (to Iraq, say) and foreign aid are scammed routinely as well.

  9. allan

    Deforming Dodd-Frank: From The Intercept:

    … The banking lobby mobilized scores of lobbyists to influence the vote. As we’ve reported, bankers mobilized public support for the bill through targeted advertising, letter writing, and a concentrated lobby effort designed to sway moderate Democrats.

    In one unusual twist, the American Bankers Association decided to use a 501(c)(4) nonprofit to air a campaign-style television advertisement in support of Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., one of the leading sponsors of the repeal measure, who is facing a tough re-election this year. The decision to use such a nonprofit to air the ad conceals the source of the funding, a strategy commonly referred to as “dark money.” …

    I’m old enough to remember when Tester ran as Farmer Smith Goes to Washington in 2006.
    Lots of his progressive promises from that campaign have fallen by the wayside as he’s morphed into
    a swamp creature moderate Democrat.

    Something to think about when reading the policy platforms of this year’s crop
    of Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Smith Goes to Washington.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And term-limit the permitted lifespan of the corporations and other entities they lobby for.

  10. Ed

    “New polling analysis reveals that a second referendum would swing to Remain Prospect”

    You are going to see a lot of these headlines. Its worth keeping in mind that during the actual referendum in 2015, Remain was leading in the polls throughout the campaign. It would never have been called otherwise.

  11. Pookah Harvey

    The US ability for “force projection through aircraft carriers ” seems doubtful against any moderately armed country.
    In 2005 a small Swedish diesel submarine successfully attacked a US aircraft carrier battle group during war games.

    n 2005, USS Ronald Reagan, a newly constructed $6.2 billion dollar aircraft carrier, sank after being hit by multiple torpedoes.

    Fortunately, this did not occur in actual combat, but was simulated as part of a war game pitting a carrier task force including numerous antisubmarine escorts against HSMS Gotland, a small Swedish diesel-powered submarine displacing 1,600 tons. Yet despite making multiple attacks runs on the Reagan, the Gotland was never detected.

    This outcome was replicated time and time again over two years of war games, with opposing destroyers and nuclear attack submarines succumbing to the stealthy Swedish sub. Naval analyst Norman Polmar said the Gotland “ran rings” around the American carrier task force. Another source claimed U.S. antisubmarine specialists were “demoralized” by the experience.

    The US apparently didn’t learn much as it happened again in 2015 against a French submarine that sank a super carrier and half of its battle group

    The French Ministry of Defence has deleted from its website a news story relating how one of its nuclear-powered attack submarines, Saphir penetrated a US Navy carrier group and fictitiously “sank” the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as well as several of its surface escorts (Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers).

    This might be the reason many in the Pentagon are not real supportive of a war with Iran.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        Wow. The amendment was passed unanimously in the House with no MSM news coverage. Here’s a link to Keith Ellison’s description on his Congressional page.. Ellison introduced the amendment. Even Congressional Trumpsters are leery of letting Trump loose

        1. HotFlash

          This is the text:

          At the end of subtitle C of title XII, add the fol-

          It is the sense of Congress that the use of the Armed Forces against Iran is not authorized by this Act or any other Act.

          Succinct, no?

          1. Balakirev

            I’m just not getting “US House strips Trump of War Powers on Iran” from the House amendment. Nor do I get from the House to “sense of Congress,” since there’s this other fiddly little thing in Congress called the Senate. Can’t say I’ve read any amendments against Trump leading the US into war with Iran from them.

            Which begs the question, what’s the purpose of this amendment? And with such (shudder) bipartisan support? In an election year, is it anything more than a stump speech point to draw votes from an electorate that’s still convinced what a candidate says is what a candidate actually believes and will fight for?

    1. Daryl

      it’s a floating deathtrap. Any real war would, assuming nuclear annihilation did not occur immediately, would do to air carriers what the WWI did to brightly colored uniforms and politely lining up to shoot your enemy.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        20th-Century Think.

        You mistake the hardware for weapons of war with a strategic purpose to defend the nation and advance her interests.

        They’re not. They’re TMES (Taxpayer Money Extraction Schemes). At this they excel.

        So the best possible outcome would be for a few of these $20B sitting ducks to end up with Davy Jones, then our Death Merchants Senators and Congressmen could insist that we must urgently slash butter even more because we must have even more guns.

    2. Oregoncharles

      The real obstacle is that the Straits would be closed and the Saudi and, presumably, Iranian oil fields would be destroyed, thus trashing the world economy. We’re all hostages, now.

  12. Synoia

    The President has created a broad anthem standard that goes well beyond the playing field Pro Football Talk.

    To protest, carry, or wear, the flag, upside down.

    An upside down flag is a distress signal.

    1. o4amuse

      Been doing it for years. When I encounter the patriotic flag Forever stamps, I always put them on the envelope upside down.

  13. Synoia

    Cultural hitchhiking and competition between patrilineal kin groups explain the post-Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck Nature. “This suggests that around 5000–7000 BP [Before Present, so 2000-5000 BC]….

    Less male fathers, why?

    Theory: the 1% of the day (Tribal Chiefs) monopolized females, ie: harems and castration. And it continued for 2,000 years.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Money, power and sex.

      Some persons get over 1,000 encounters, with admiring partners.

      Others, with mony and/or power, yearn and not infrequently hurt people to get theirs.

      That want, that need, pervasive among humans, is unevenly, unequally satiated.

      We don’t know what to do since we don’t talk about it much, except to remind the use of disposable, single use, plastic wraps. Or something dark like enforced monogamy (for the chiefs).

      Intimacy Inequality – a 7,000 year old problem.

      (The oldest problem?)

      1. HotFlash

        Depends on the meaning of ‘intimacy’, but yeah. Guys’ side, several times an hour, ladies turn, 9 months. Do the math.

        Also too, there is a chance (chance!) that we are looking at some sort of selection process? Not saying it is rational in today’s world, but still, what is attractive to (many, but certainly not all) females? Money, strength, power, and large (um) pecs figure (um) largely. Also money, just to be clear.

        1. Oregoncharles

          It always pays, both immediately and genetically, to mate high in the hierarchy, if you can.

          You’re suggesting that women have a bigger stake? Certainly; but most human mating systems are designed to minimize the competition between the sexes, so also equalizing the stake.

          Our problem now might be that we’ve unintentionally slipped into a sexual Wild West, where no one is sure of the rules. A transition period, always difficult to live through.

          1. HotFlash

            No, most certainly not. I am just pointing out that the opportunity for males to proliferate is not subject to the 9-month-for-cow-or-countess rule. That is to say, females have a built-in lag that male DNA conntributors do not have.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Not sure if it’s really true, but many people in central Asia claim or used to claim to be descendants of Ghengis.

          That’s DNA inequality.

          That and we should be careful not to trade one for another inequality (e.g. wealth inequality for power inequality).

        3. J Sterling

          Regular selection would operate in all millennia. What needs explaining about the data is, “what kicked off in that particular time period?”

    2. J Sterling

      They consider, and give evidence against, that interpretation in the paper, before giving their conclusion that inter-group, not intra-group, effects were more important.

      Thersites gets a better shot at children after the war than Hector, because although Hector is the son of the king, he’s the son of the king of the losing side.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Times were so good that Female Selection was absolutely brutal? Perhaps the traveling steppe-sons were the hit of the potlatch? Just spitballing, since trying to read ‘yup patriarchy’ into the formative epoch of the patriarchy is probably anachronistic. Surely pointed sticks played their role, but meeting peoples with fatter children and cool beakers was arguably the more widespread phenomenon.

      Did more recently arrived sedentary males, minding the farm, simply have more opportunities than the bros hunting varmints? Paternity is kind of a luxury when children equals your support in old age. The vikings apparently still didn’t care.

      1. HotFlash

        Paternity is kind of a luxury when children equals your support in old age.

        Paternity can be a thing you strive for in some cases, assuming you plan to stay around long enough to raise the kids to an age at which they can support you. Slam-bam, thank you (or not) ma’am Viking style (no aspersions on Viking DNA) is not the same as raising a family.

  14. ChiGal in Carolina

    Google, Facebook and Snap challenge governance standards FT. Because they’re crooks. And where’s that Oxford comma?

    And this is why I so appreciate you, Lambert: capturing the big picture succinctly, without missing the details that matter (at least to those of us who care about language).

    1. Synoia

      Printing the Oxford comma takes space and ink. These are unecessart costs, and must be eliminated.

      Much better to pay executive bonuses, which are necessary costs.

      It is “The Financial Times” in more ways than one.

      1. polecat

        You could substitute “The Financial Times” in your statement for “the Oxford comma … thereby having it make even greater cents !

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Democrats Who Voted to Roll Back Banking Regulations Took Lots of Money From Banks Splinter

    Give me a break.

    The only “newzzzz” here is that, after decades of this garbage, feature writers continue to call these payments “campaign contributions” or (barf) donations instead of the bribes that they are.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks, thats very interesting, probably the best dissection of the JP phenomenon I’ve seen.

    2. freedomny

      “However, millions of people watched the videos and tens of thousands contributed to Peterson’s Patreon account, to the tune of over $50,000 a month.”

      WTF?! Thanks for the link…

    3. JBird

      “I thought Marxism was about “workers of the world unite” not ‘let’s fragment into a million separate indentities and fight each other.’”

      One of the quotes from that article.

      Useful idiot indeed.

    4. Yves Smith

      Even though that piece is meant to be evenhanded, it still spews a lot of nonsense right off the top about male grievances about the new confused gender rules. But I am not even remotely sympathetic. Men still have it way better than women. Just look at the pay gap, fer Chrissakes. Feminized professions are paid less, and even women doing comparable work are paid less.

      The real unacknowledged beef is that men in the US on a relative basis are less privileged than their fathers were, and they are not happy about that.

      The other part that is total BS is the idea of men being natively better suited for some things than others. There are a lot of men who would happily be stay at home dads absent social stigma and even more often, the wife’s expectation that he be the main breadwinner.

      Aside from things that actually do require a lot of upper body strength, gender stereotyping has a lot more to do with preferences (I say this as a woman who scores better at spatial ability than another aptitude, when that is supposedly a male domain).

      More generally, as any statistician would tell you, with groups as large as men v. women, the differences within a group will be greater than between the groups.

      And to continue on the acculturation theme, in Sweden, men really do do about about as much household work as women. And they don’t feel emasculated either. Similarly, a senior political official in Sweden leaned over to me at an all male panel and said, “In my country, men would not participate in a panel if there were no women on it.”

  16. Ignim Brites

    The Wolfstreet piece on Pet Smart contains the following:

    “After the deal closed in 2015, BC Partners loaded PetSmart up with debt and extracted a special dividend of $800 million. With this dividend, BC Partners likely made its money, no matter what happens to PetSmart.”

    Does anyone know whether or not that 800 mil would be liable to clawback claims under fraudulent conveyenance principles?

    1. cnchal

      They made clean getaway in broad daylight, and are in the next country. That’s what the intelligent people in charge of complexity do.

      I think “fraudulent conveyance” clawbacks expire within 24 months from the crime date, but what do I know, as I am neither intelligent or in charge of complexity.

    2. Yves Smith

      The short version is fraudulent conveyance is used way way less in the US than it ought to be, due to how long a fight the other side can and usually does put up. It has not been used much as a cause of action in PE land even though in tons of cases it looks like by any standard of common sense, it ought to be a slam dunk.

    1. polecat

      I have moar Bumblebees (at least 3 species) feeding in our yard this season that I can possibly count, more than in past years .. which, considering the recent plight of the bumble, is a joy to behold ! They are sooo into foraging, that I can ‘pet’ them without fear of being stung.
      I Do have much forage for them to sip from, so there is the encouragement factor to account for.
      Time to plant mucho Cilantro, as it draws All Kinds of beneficials … no need for chemicals, at all !

      polecat • just doing his bestest to make his tiny little portion of this rock a better place for the non-human meek.

    2. Lord Koos

      Grasshoppers have become scarce around here, but I don’t think it’s climate related, probably because of ubiquitous pesticides. Ladybugs are much less common as well. Houseflies and mosquitoes seem to be doing OK…

      1. HotFlash

        Saw one (1) last night, first and only this year, and they are more rare than used to be. I live in the city, though, and it may be loss of environment here. Pesticides are strictly controlled here in Toronto, rarely used in my urban ‘hood (heavy-duty pesticides are only available thru licenced pros, who are required to post signs so kids and leashed pets aren’t hurt, tough luck for the non-literates, such as cats, birds, and butterflies, tho, I guess). However, according to Wiki, the “white grubs (reaching 40–45 mm long when full grown) live in the soil and feed on plant roots, especially those of grasses and cereal”. In the 30+ years I have been in this ‘hood, the yards have gone from neatly mowed lawns, which was required back then — anything else would get you a ticket — to rockscapes, xeriscapes, perennials, and even veggie gardens. Maybe 10% lawns anymore. So, maybe the larvae have nothing to eat?

        But trying to remember the last time I saw a toad.

    3. Daryl

      Now that you mention it, I haven’t either, although I no longer live where a pool is which is where they were most evident. Perhaps pools killed them off..

    4. Edward E

      Moths are spending all their time attracted to bright lights at night time when they should be doing reproductive activities. Maybe something similar is happening with the June bugs. There are more streetlights and security lights than I ever remember even way out here in the boondocks.

    5. Lunker Walleye

      Haven’t noticed very many windshield bugs. We have lightning bugs here. They usually show up in June, I think. The mosquitoes are thick early and people who are decorating graves and golfing this weekend are plagued by swarms of gnats. Our normal temps in May are in the low 70’s and we have had a string of high 80’s and 90’s. Today it will near 100 degrees on the Great Plains.

      1. HotFlash

        Was Up North this past week, in cottage country, and the little bitty flies were identified as ‘midges’, also known as gnats. The locals said, “Thank (deity of your choice) they aren’t black flies.” Me, I’m currently just a city person, but hey, those were gentleman mosquitoes, and sure enough, soon the fertilized ladies soon appeared, needing (my!) blood to make new little mosquitoes. What did they ever do before mammals?

        1. JBird

          Ah yes, horse flies. Delightfully painful little monsters. I much prefer mosquitoes as at least you only get the itching although there are usually more of them than the flies. Greater immediate pain as opposed to itching insanely.

          If you are wondering what poor unfortunate animals got eaten before mammals, there is evidence of dinosaur ticks. (And birds which are the surviving dinosaurs do have ticks) I would be shocked if mosquitoes weren’t around then. Bloodsuckers have been around a long long time.

  17. Carey

    The insect population definitely seems down, but I’m wondering what is bringing so many birds to my region,
    more than I can recall seeing in the 25 years I’ve lived here (central coast of California, ten miles inland
    from Morro Bay). One small one is standing out: bright yellow body with black splashes and black-and-
    yellow wings is so neat! Wish I knew what it was.

    A number of hawks are about right now too, preparing for brunch, I suppose…

      1. Edward E

        Yeah, I’d go with goldfinch
        New neighbor from NYC and I saw a small hawk flying through the tree limbs with a small bird in it’s talons while others were trying to make it drop it. Kinda sad

  18. John k

    Newsweek on Bernie…
    Only half of Bernie’s endorsed candidates won, just a third of OR’s did…
    But all of these would normally have been ultra long shots, all going up against well financed dccc candidates. IMO half or a third is great success. And starting to take bigger scalps, catching dem elite attention…
    But m4a far more pop than JG so focus on that, and anyway I would prefer infra targeted to regions with high unemployment… would be nice if methodology of how this is calculated reverts to what was used under Reagan, before neolib bill messed it up. Plus Infra spending might get support from some rep regions/ congressional districts, JG not a chance. Gotta pass the House, and most dem blues will vote against.

    Newsweek should have mentioned deep hunger for change likely drove the 1/10 of bernie supporters to vote trump. Or how many house dems have signed on to m4a… really moving the needle. There is a budding progressive movement now that didn’t exist before… people far more likely to define themselves as socialist than since wwII.

    Seem to be well past the ignoring stage…

  19. Big River Bandido

    The very tone of the Cillizza/Enten “article” made me treat it unseriously whilst reading.

    As for the content, it’s the same groupthink garbage we’re so used to seeing from Cillizza. I closed the article after reading Enten’s comment that “I’d argue [the voters] chose weak candidates” in NE-02 and PA-01. Well of *course* he would argue that, wouldn’t he?

    Like the political writers of 1948, these two jokers know what they write is the truth, because they hear their close friends and colleagues say it, and because they themselves write it every day, so it must be true. Harry Truman described this mindset pretty accurately: “there isn’t one of them with the sense to pound sand in a rathole”.

  20. JBird

    Democrats Who Voted to Roll Back Banking Regulations Took Lots of Money From Banks

    And the sky is blue, and the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

    1. Balakirev

      Surely he is part of a glorious American tradition? He hasn’t betrayed the armaments industry, after all. Or Big Pharma. Or the Fossil Fuels Gang. Or the Licud. Or…

      1. John k

        Yes. To be fair, reps seem to stay closer to what they campaigned for… lower taxes on the rich, bigger military, banks pharma always good. What’s different is that trump read the electorate to want (desperately need) the change big o promised.

        Fur dems, you have to go back to carter to find somebody that mostly stayed with his original script. The rest of them, whether dem or rep, routinely deliver the rep promises.

        DINO… dem in name only, applies to nearly all the dem elites. Progressives should tag them with that.

        1. Balakirev

          Pretty much. Certainly Obama and Uncle Bill Clinton were thoroughly part of the now all- pervasive Third Way Dems, for whom corporate subservience in exchange for campaign donations have become the defacto standard.

      2. Edward E

        Latest from the Norwegians in the Nobel Committee is that the Fouke still qualifies for the Porn Prize.

    2. HotFlash

      Ms Gabbard herself has been not so pure, esp her support of India’s Modi — but perhaps this sort of reinforcement from voters might clarify her thinking?

  21. Oregoncharles

    From “New Cold War or Recalibration of the Global System Valdai Club”: “doubt that the euro will be able to become an alternative to the dollar in the foreseeable future, but he stressed that the world needs a global currency or a basket of currencies to make the basis of the world economy less volatile.”

    Yes, but where’s the sovereign? Will the UN levy taxes to give it value? Of course, this is one issue with the Euro as a reserve currency, besides its evident political instability: the sovereign seems to be the ECB, which doesn’t have an army or levy taxes.

    Of course, that “need” depends on assuming that globalization is a good thing, as the above forum does.

  22. Oregoncharles

    :RFK Jr. doesn’t believe the ‘official story’ that Sirhan Sirhan shot his father alone — and wants a new investigation”

    Isn’t Sirhan Sirhan still alive? Maybe someone should ask him.

    1. Yves Smith

      Remember those implanted memories? :-)

      I heard about there being too many bullets fired years ago. And I believe the images or RFK’s skull show the bullets entering from a direction inconsistent with where Sirhan Sirhan was standing.

        1. ambrit

          The Rashomon effect comes into play. Pictoral and forensic evidence, absent a confessional expose, is the touchstone here.

        2. sd

          He was shot in the service area behind the ballroom. It was an odd space. (Been there in person back when it was still the hotel) Not what you might imagine it to be. Iirc, one of the bullets was found embedded in a physically impossible spot. Like behind the shooter or something. And yes, more shots fired then the gun would hold.

    2. BobWhite

      I guess you did not read the article…
      RFK Jr talked to him for 3 hours, helped him reach his conclusion.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Thank you. Illuminating. The difficulty is that S. S. is not a disinterested witness.

    3. neo-realist

      The coroner who performed the autopsy on RFK found that the bullets that entered him came from the back, particularly the fatal head shot behind the ear at an upwards angle.

      For Sirhan to have fired those bullets into Kennedy would have been a feat of Houdiniesque shooting.

      1. HotFlash

        Be sensible. After all, a similar thing happened to RFK’s brother and Governor Connally, there was no question about that.

        1. ambrit

          I’ve seen a good argument that the “magic bullet” could have been one bullet to hit Connally and Kennedy. The argument is that Connally was sitting in an ‘inboard’ seat, not straight in front of Kennedy and lower than Kennedy. The rear shot was not straight from behind but from the side rear . Such a bullet could have passed through Kennedy, the throat wound, and hit Connally in his right back.
          You do not need to discredit the “Magic Bullet” theory to establish a conspiracy. Having a viable single bullet theory does not prove the Lone Gunman hypothesis.
          No matter who or what killed Kennedy, a lone Oswald or a hit team working for whomever, the real casualty of the Kennedy assassination was the American peoples faith in the system.
          That faith has never been restored.

        2. neo-realist

          So you believe it would have been possible for Sirhan to inflict a head wound behind RFK’s ear with the bullet moving at an upward trajectory while firing from the front??? My disbelief at such a possibility is me being sensible.

          1. HotFlash

            1.) to ambrit — maybe, and it is totally possible, I suppose, but — I have not seen so many coincidences pile up on each other since — well, since 9/11. YMMV
            2.) to neo-realist — Sorry, shoulda said /s

  23. Oregoncharles

    “How Google turned me into my mother. Idoneous Security”

    A must-read, in my opinion. Not something I’d thought about much.

    And, along with bank IT, yet another example of the Butlerian Jihad coming ever closer.

  24. Lunker Walleye

    There is a long documentary “to present the publicly unavailable and even suppressed historical audio, video, and film recordings largely unseen by the American public relating to the assassination of the Kennedy brothers, …”
    The title is “Evidence of Revision” at top documentary films. Sorry I am unable to link to it.

    1. Lord Koos

      I think it is available on youtube. I must say that the part on JFKs assasination was pretty convincing.

      1. JBird

        Yeah, I do not want to sound like a wearing of tinfoil, but the CIA/FBI/police/whatever do have a history of assassinating or trying to ruin politicians and activists. I do not think there has even been a concerted effort to kill or imprison troublemakers, but there are a number of suspicious injuries, deaths, arrests, trials, very sketchy convictions, with very long sentences or executions over the past century by all levels of government, federal, state, and municipal. Nowhere near some other countries, but enough, which is why I am concerned about what might be happening soon. One only needs a few overly eager defenders of the status quo.

        1. pretzelattack

          the crusade against the black panthers may qualify, and the suppression of labor over the past century has resulted in a number of deaths, often with the connivance, direct and indirect police/national guard support, including many get out of jail free cards for the low level enforcers.
          miners and wobblies were not treated kindly.

    2. blennylips

      I’ve referenced this before:

      JFK to 911 Everything Is A Rich Man’s Trick

      As I control my browser’s referrer policy rather closely, I see that this video is now “controversial” as it stops at


      Continue on, and it asks:

      The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.
      Continue or Cancel

      How long will it stay available?

      Fun factoid: H.W. Bush still can’t remember where he was the day Kennedy got shot.

      1. berit

        Wasn’t H W Bush on duty in Dallas with comrades-in-CIA-arms?

        I remember! The hush in the office on the 12th floor of the ITT-company building on Church Street, downtown Manhattan, crowding around the desk of the coworker with a transistor radio, strangely quiet streets, the silent line waiting our turn at the newspaper vendor, hours in the kitchen of my neighbors next-door, watching TV, eating delicious Iraqi comfort-food made by these political refuges from Baghdad. Watching as Oswald was shot and killed … Unforgettable.
        If Bush senior said that he doesn’t remember, either he lost his mind or was telling lies. He is a liar, I think.

  25. allan

    Volatility voters come in more than one flavor. Who knew?

    Pipeline pique complicates Heitkamp’s 2nd term Senate hopes

    Standing Rock Sioux tribal member Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun went door to door on North Dakota’s largest American Indian reservations in 2012 turning out the tribal vote to help put Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in the U.S. Senate. Six years later, with Heitkamp fighting hard to win a second term, Hunte-Beaubrun is staying on the sidelines.

    She is among Indian voters who say they’ve lost their zeal for Heitkamp over her perceived non-stance on the Dakota Access pipeline, which brought thousands of American Indians and others to the state in 2016 and 2017 to protest its construction under the Missouri River, just outside Standing Rock.

    “It was really a kick in the stomach,” Hunte-Beaubrun said. “We rallied so hard for her, but when her hand was forced she basically sold out to big oil.” …

    But how could Heitkamp have sold out to Big Oil when she’s already owned by Community Big Finance?

    … Heitkamp’s first victory came by fewer than 3,000 votes, and American Indians, who tend to vote Democratic, were a source of strength. Three counties with majority Indian populations — Sioux, Rolette and Benson — backed Heitkamp by a more than 4,000-vote margin over then-U.S. Rep. Rick Berg. In Sioux County, home to the Standing Rock reservation, Heitkamp took 83 percent of the vote. …

    “The majority of the people here feel the same way I do — she chose oil over Indians,” said Joe Torras, a 57-year-old rancher and horse trainer at Standing Rock. “Once you damage that trust, we will never let it go. You only get one shot.” Torras said he isn’t planning to vote in November. …

    Char White Mountain, a 67-year-old retired office administrator and great-grandmother, said she voted for Heitkamp previously but won’t again. She would never vote for Cramer, who strongly supported the pipeline, and said she will probably just stay home on Election Day.

    “We all thought a lot about Heidi, but I believe she betrayed our people,” said White Mountain. “We really needed someone we could trust.” …

    Weirdly, making Chuck Schumer majority leader is not most pressing concern of the original back row kids.
    I will vote no more forever.

  26. Freethinker

    Lambert, thank you for the post concerning Trump’s holiday-weekend massacre of working-class federal employees and their unions via executive orders. As a federal employee and union activist, I am sure these orders will deal a crushing, if not fatal, blow to due process rights for federal workers. The decision by union leadership (AFGE) to avoid notifying union members via email or text is ominous.

    Seems like these moves to pummel the working class into poverty, fear and hopelessness are part of the same neoliberal playbook that is strangling the VA. AFGE lobbied fiercely against the recently-approved legislation that will lead to privatization.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell”

    Quote: ‘I haven’t yet decided if Alexa will be leaving our home’ For the love of God the answer is yes, yes, yes, boot Alexa out. The writer has already proved to herself that it is recording a heap of conversations that it should never had done. And she does not want to delete these snippets because of what Amazon says? Really? (bangs head against desk) People like this have Alexa through their house because it is ‘so convenient’, some in their bedrooms too. Do people like this consider that if they have Alexa in their bedrooms too that it might be recording all sorts of stuff and sending it to their friends and family? Not the sort of threesome that you want to be in.

  28. ppp

    Lambert or a reader-
    I am a CA native, I am wondering if any of you are familiar with the pissed of voters league of san francisco
    I work 60+ hours of labor a week. I do not have time to study platforms or voting history. Just trying to find a trustworthy source to tell me how to vote for the interests of poor people, let me know if you can. thanks

    1. sd

      I voted for the candidates who supported Medicare for All.

      And for the judges, I vote against anyone who has high ratings from the bigot wing. Imperfect, but works. For instance, – I generally vote the opposite of whatever they recommend. Same with the judges – I vote the opposite of whomever they favor

      I was disappointed with the candidates various unions were supporting so found myself having to find other ways to weigh the candidates.

      Fwiw, Gayle McLaughlin for Lt. Governor.

      I did not vote for Gavin Newsom.


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