Links 5/29/18

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Jinx the obese seal has been put on a strict diet after gaining three stone Metro (J-LS)

A Naga village’s journey from hunting ground to safe haven for the Amur falcon Monga Bay (J-LS)

The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance European Journal of Social Psychology (PlutoniumKun)

California’s New Digital License Plates Give You the Chance to Finally Be the “ASSMAN” Gizmodo (David L)

Papua New Guinea bans Facebook for a month to root out ‘fake users’ Guardian

Europe plans ban on plastic cutlery, straws and more CNN

Mussels test positive for opioids in Seattle’s Puget Sound BBC (Brian C)

No need for aircon, as NUS researchers invent gel that lowers humidity, produces electricity Today Online (J-LS)

Women retain and carry living DNA from every man with whom they’ve made love with Mind Foster. Furzy: “EEK! No wonder I’m so picky! !”

Dentists can smell your fear – and it may put your teeth at risk New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

North Korea

North Korea summit: diplomatic flurry as Kim aides head to Singapore and US Guardian

How Indian Cities are Squeezing the People out of Public Spaces The Wire (J-LS)


With political chaos, pressure on leaders and a divided continent, it’s as you were for Europe Bloomberg

Interfering in Italy’s Democracy… and It’s Not Russia Sputnik (Chuck L)

È l’ora della mobilitazione. Ho bisogno del vostro aiuto!
Luigi Di Maio Facebook. 3.4 million views.

Europe’s losing streak Politico

Tens of thousands protest in Berlin against far-right AfD WSWS (furzy)


Treasury and BoE clash over City of London regulation after Brexit Financial Times. (J-LS). Important.

BoE denies rift with UK Treasury over post-Brexit regulations Bloomberg. Well, of course, they would….

Brussels and Brexiteers united in anger over budget extension The Times

Sturgeon takes Brexit concerns to Brussels BBC

Boris Johnson ‘hobbled by lack of Foreign Office power’ – Guardian (Kevin W)

The financial scandal no one is talking about Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything New York Times (furzy)

The NHS doesn’t need £2,000 from each household to survive. It’s fake maths Guardian (JTM)

New Cold War

Germany falls under the sanction steamroller — from Saudi Arabia Fort Russ (Kevin W)

Russian spy poisoning: How the Skripals were saved BBC. OregonCharles:

FWIW, the hospital is here confirming that they were treated for nerve agent poisoning, under the direction of Porton Downs. That was something I wondered about before. I keep remembering that the hospital is a government agency, as is the BBC. The pictures are of some interest; Julia looks pretty healthy, it’s harder to tell with him because he’s older and was sicker. There are videos, which I didn’t watch.

Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT Craig Murray


Iran diary: bracing for all-out economic war Asia Times (J-LS)

Tariff Tantrum

US Pushes China to Buy its Oil and Gas in Wake of Trade Row – Reports Sputnik (Kevin W)

EU’s Trade Chief to Press U.S. Counterparts on Tariffs Wednesday Wall Street Journal

Trump Transition

Why New Jersey is leading the resistance to Trump’s offshore drilling plan Washington Post (furzy)

Spurning left, centrist Dems tout bank law for midterms The Hill

Emails show cooperation among EPA, climate-change deniers Associated Press (UserFriendly)

Krebs, Johnson spar after Krebs releases ad targeting Johnson’s work history KSFY. Lynne:

Going after the press in the South Dakota Congressional race for the House: KSFY, Sioux Falls-based TV station, reports that the Koch-backed candidate Dusty Johnson had his lawyers send a cease and desist letter to the station demanding that they stop airing a negative ad from his opponent, Shantel Krebs, alleging her allegations are “overblown”. KSFY refused to pull the ad and told the Johnson campaign to take it up with Krebs’ campaign. Johnson claims he doesn’t intend to fire back with a negative ad, but of course, he doesn’t have to given that the Koch outfits have been blanketing mailboxes and air with misleading attacks ads. One interesting tidbit: KSFY put up the letter from Dusty Johnson’s lawyer, who is in Minnesota. The party faithful are excusing that by saying the lawyer is originally from South Dakota.

Police State Watch

While Police Massacre Americans, Congress Turns Their Backs Lee Camp

New Jersey police investigated after woman punched during arrest Guardian

Fake News

Chuck L points out we need this sort of thing in the US:

War Finance Methods and Public Support for War Peace Science Digest (Dr. Kevin)

ECB research provides a withering critique of mainstream macroeconomics Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly)


Class Warfare

Fifth NYC taxi driver in five months kills himself after suffering ‘financial and emotional issues brought on by competition from Uber and Lyft and his wife’s Stage 4 cancer diagnosis’ Daily Mail (Timotheus)

From The Midwest To Manhattan: What $250k Buys You Across The U.S. Safe Haven

The Job Guarantee and the Economics of Fear: A Response to Robert Samuelson Pavlina Tcherneva (UserFriendly)

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy Atlantic (Mirko). Late to this party. Thomas Frank figured this out years ago.

The Surprisingly Complex Reasons Why Teenagers Stopped Taking Summer Jobs Atlantic (UserFriendly)

What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities Pew Social Trends (J-LS)

As an Oxycontin ‘junkie’ at Yale, I saw how my addiction helped fund the university Guardian (Brian C)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “No overgrowth fire hazard here—goats clear the Palos Verdes (California) hillsides.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Expat

    Am I the only one who thinks it is sad that Donald Trump is proudly pushing China to balance the trade deficit by taking oil and soybeans? Is this what makes America great? Being a natural resource exporter like some 3rd World Country?
    What happened to “energy independence” and other silly ideas?

      1. Expat

        Never. Please note the quotation marks and the word “silly.” Energy independence is a joke.

        1. Brian

          the question was why are we exporting what we need to other countries. It is a damn fine question that deserves a straight answer, no? Is it capitalism or treason and sedition?

          1. Expat

            The US lifted restrictions on crude exports at the end of 2015 though there were exports prior to that of “processed” crudes. One of the driving factors has been quality. Shale is extremely light and sweet, but US refiners are geared for heavier, sour crudes (at least along the USGC). There was also a political push by Washington to show the world that the US can sell oil as well, so Saudi and Russia, Watch out! Childish, but true.

            Since then exports have been both for quality swapping and simple economics. Freight rates are in the gutter, demand is high in Asia following OPEC cuts, and US priced crude is cheap. WTI is far below Brent so if you can get a WTI priced cargo on the water and sell it, you make money.

            The alternative to selling Gulf sours(Green Canyon, Mars, etc.) is to either sell them WTI related to Gulf Coast refiners or compete farther inland with all the shale. That doesn’t work. So US sour crudes have been heading as far as China. On top of that, LOOP has been modified so it’s bidirectional; VLCC’s can load.

            As for the products, the US has excess production of distillates and has for decades. US diesel and kero is going as far as East Africa.

            Restricting US exports on the basis that the US is a net importer won’t lower the price of gasoline in the US; it would probably make it more expensive. That’s your answer.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      We have the best agricultural products! And before long we’ll have the cheapest labor too!

    2. rjs

      it’s crazy, considering that we are still importing 8 million barrels of oil per day and that our natural gas supplies are 33% below those of a year ago…

      1. Expat

        Net imports are about 6.4 million bpd of crude but the US also exports about 2.3 million bdp of refined products. The imports are mostly quality swaps but quite a bit is also economics because of WTI pricing vs world markets.
        So, net, the US imports about 4 million of oil.

        1. rd

          I think at least some is due to Jones Act. If you put refined or unrefined oil on a ship in a US port, it can’t deliver it to a US port unless the ship is American made, flagged, and crewed. So a foreign tanker has to take its cargo to a foreign shore while a foreign ship is bringing oil from a foreign shore to the US.

          This one of the economic issues that Puerto Rico has. Anything form the US mainland has to go on an expensive American Jones Act ship instead of a foreign-flagged vessel. That includes fuel, food, and manufactured products.

          1. Expat

            The Jones Act is not as straightforward as that. You can still redeliver into the US if you can’t find a suitable US flagged vessel. The Jones Acts says you have to give priority to US flagged vessels but if one is not around, then you can use any other flag.

            It is extremely rare for a shipment of crude from a US port or terminal to be made where the vessel could go abroad or stay in the US. If you load a VLCC or a Suezmaz, you are going abroad anyway so the flag choice is irrelevant.

            If you are loading distillates, you are going abroad unless you are making a small coastal run (handy or MR). Therefore the same choice applies as for crude.

    3. Procopius

      It’s called “comparative advantage.” Our farming methods, enormous farms, lots of expensive machinery, hybrid and GMO seeds, mean we can produce more soybeans and corn (maize) than the small, labor-intensive farms of the third world. China has lots of labor, so labor-intensive products are better produced there. We first saw it with Japan. Aside from the idiots making stupid choices in Detroit, we were better off trading soybeans and corn (they don’t like our rice) for cars and TV sets. I have to say I usually reject the Ricardian notion of comparative advantage, but in these cases it seems pretty obvious.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      No, you are not the only one. I myself have commented in the past that seeking to sell more natural resources from China to “balance out” buying more manufactured goods from China makes us exactly China’s hinterland while making China into America’s metropole.

      Its a strictly Mother Country China to Colony America type of relationship.

  2. m

    I wonder if I can start a business going around with whatever animal or bird to clear property of ticks.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Interesting question. In my experience, watching my neighbor lady where I get my milk, butter, kefir, cottage cheese, eggs, and half a hog each year, guineas helped but did not eradicate the risk. However I wonder how long delivered guineas would need to be in an area to be effective? Also, how difficult would it be to round up these free range critters when it’s time to move them on? Also, they are loud and if you have neighbors within at least a quarter mile they better not mind occasional invasions.

      1. Kevin

        Home remedy that I find works after 2 weekends hiking and gardening. Put the following in spray bottle.

        4 oz water
        20 drops eucalyptus oil
        20 drops lemon grass oil

        On a side note; NEVER use citrus oils while out in direct sunlight – they amplify the sun exponentially – don’t learn the hard way, like I did.

    2. scott3

      Chickens can do a pretty good job of eating ticks. Fire ants will clear them out, but I don’t recommend that.

      1. Charger01

        Chickens are superb. But you have to keep the mouse and rabbit population down to address the ticks.

    3. WobblyTelomeres

      Kingsnakes. Gots to get rid of the rodent hosts. Of course, talking someone into letting you dump off a truckload of kingsnakes may prove difficult.

      We’ve had a few in the back yard. They tend to nest inside some pottery on my wife’s potting bench. My Jack Russells go nuts, but I’ve convinced everyone the snakes are good to have around. They slink around for a while, clear out the mice, and move on.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I wish we had some. All we have are garter snakes, which, to their credit, do eat slugs. I saw one doing that once; really gross. I told it bon appetit.

        We have plenty of both mice and deer, but no ticks that I know of. They’re bad up in the Columbia Gorge, though.

  3. makedoanmend

    Iran diary: bracing for all-out economic war Asia Times (J-LS)

    I appreciate reading about possible developments outside the envelope of Western MSM non-news spectaculars but I’m increasingly finding Mr. Escobar’s use of superlatives about the old silk road a bit much. Still, I suppose one must just exercise one’s in-built editorial instincts and try to ferret out the tidbits of information that he offers. Over-hyped but better than nothing.

    It’s interesting that he mentions neoliberalism and the effects it is having on working people in smaller towns outside of Tehran. If a populist wave hits Iran, following sanctions, what course will it take? They’ve been down the religious route already. A new populism may lead in a different and unwelcome direction for Iran’s ruling cohort. Can the Iranian cohort use and control populism the way conservatives in the West think they can?

    1. notabanker

      I enjoyed that piece. The cultural / historical perspective is an important one. This particular piece is obviously written from a scholar’s perspective, which has inherent value and bias.

      Persians and Chinese play a long game and I would posit the Arab American alliance doesn’t. Or maybe half of it does. The mere mention of Europe having options to discuss goes to show just how weak US has become both economically and politically.

      On a personal level, I got to know some native Persian’s in Asia and their stories and pictures from home (Tehran) were beautiful. Their view of the mullah’s governing was not supportive but felt that their power would shift over time. With a different passport, I’d love to visit, but my government has made it not very feasible to do so. I can jump on a plane this afternoon to visit the Vatican, Topkaki or the skyscrapers of Dubai, but not Mashhad. Go figure.

      1. Carolinian

        Agreed. The article is more travelogue with only passing nod to his silk road obsession. Americans need to know a lot more about Iran starting with our dubious leader.

        1. notabanker

          Growing up as a teenager during the Iran hostage crisis, I agree. I was hook, line and sinker evil axis Iran and it wasn’t until much later in life I came to understand GB and US instigation of the entire crisis going back to the early 1900’s, over, of course, oil.

          Similarly, just a few days in Istanbul drastically impacted my view of middle east Islam, which I would later learn is also very different culturally from Asian Islam. My perspective, which certainly could be wrong, was the level of distrust/fear in Turkey over the Saudi’s far outweighed religious and political differences with the Persians. YMMV.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Their view of the mullah’s governing was not supportive but felt that their power would shift over time.

        We have that in common….our view of the bankers’ governing is not supportive, but feel that their power would shift over time.


        We hope.

        In the meantime, bad guys brainwashed by some bearded guy, no longer around, say we’re all guilty…the whole nation, even though we’re not supportive.

  4. Wukchumni

    From The Midwest To Manhattan: What $250k Buys You Across The U.S. Safe Haven
    $250k here on the front porch of the back of beyond-4 hours drive from LA & SF, buys you a house worth 3x as much in the former and 5x as much in the latter.

    There’s no crime, no gangs, and we’re above the Tule fog in the winter, a most important place to not be for 4 months a year. Summers are hot hot hot, as in 100 days of around 100 degrees, day in-day out. Thank goodness for the river and swimming holes!

    That said, it isn’t as if equity rich denizens from the big cities are beating the door down to buy everything, they’re merely coming in droves to visit.

    We were out on a backpack trip to one of the lesser known areas of Sequoia NP over Memorial Day, and a friend told me there was a 2 mile backup of cars waiting to get into the National Park during the 50% more weekend holiday.

  5. Doug Hillman

    No wonder Jinx the seal is obese. Who could resist that? Almost as cute as our Silky Terrier. Do NOT make eye contact with a basilisk.

    1. begob

      It describes 21st Century Wire as, “a disreputable web site that posts pro-Assad disinformation among a garbled cornucopia of pseudoscience and Holocaust denial.”

      It links to an example of the latter, which seems to be post-modern musings on the perception of history.

      And it links to fakenewscodex, which describes 21st as, “Genuinely unhinged “alternative news agency” that posts ridiculous conspiracy stories.”

      So I noodled around to see how networked the censorship effort was, and found this odd spreadsheet – nakedcapitalism is at #436, classed as left-center bias:

      The “about” button returns an error.

  6. Carla

    Re: War Finance Methods — “There are two primary ways countries finance their wars: through borrowing money or by taxing their citizens.”

    Shouldn’t that actually read: “There are two primary ways countries CLAIM TO finance their wars: through borrowing money or by taxing their citizens.”


    Of course, I can see the value of a “war tax.” But to what extent does MMT negate the premises of this article?

    1. jsn

      Major wars in the last several hundred years have been fought with seigniorage and price controls. Spauldings history of fiat in the Civil War covers this thoroughly including all the conservative attempts to force the Union back onto gold during the war. Hjalmar Schacht’s autobiography explains how the Nazi’s did it and Skidelsky’s biography of Keynes is very good for UK finance of both World Wars. FDR did more or less the same. All used a combination of MMT fiat and price controls.

    2. Oregoncharles

      They forgot the looting, though that hasn’t been working out well for the US lately. Of course, that doesn’t come unless you win, so it’s what you borrow against.

  7. Expat2uruguay

    The article about women retaining DNA from every male they have sex with was horrifying.

    Sperm is alive. It is living cells. When it is injected into you it swims and swims until it crashes headlong into a wall, and then it attaches and burrows into your flesh. If it’s in your mouth it swims and climbs into your nasal passages, inner ear, and behind your eyes. Then it digs in. It enters your blood stream and collects in your brain and spine.

    Like something out of a scifi movie, it becomes a part of you and you can’t get rid of it.

    We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse.

    I was going to make some joke about not being able to get that man out of my head, or washing him out of my hair, but I’m not feeling very humorous right now. Yikes indeed

    1. Robert McGregor

      As if there weren’t enough anti-sex themes in culture (War between the Sexes, #METOO etc). Now this! I would love if some biologists in the commentariat would weigh in on this. I suspect this article is a little bit of science under a lot of “click bait” to rile up and agitate the reader for the usual economic reasons.

      If it’s in your mouth it swims and climbs into your nasal passages, inner ear, and behind your eyes. Then it digs in. It enters your blood stream and collects in your brain and spine.

      Like something out of a scifi movie, it becomes a part of you and you can’t get rid of it.

      Yeah, what about the billions of bacteria already swimming around in those same places? What about the fact that every 90 days, all your cells replace themselves anyway (Okay, the DNA remains). I think a sexual biologist could explain what in this article is significant, and what is heavily slanted. As a middle-aged male I can tell you, the War Between the Sexes continues and accelerates. And mostly between intellectuals. Blue-Collar workers aren’t buying this anti-sex shit!

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        lol. I sincerely hope the #metoo folks don’t get wind of this…and I think I’ll refrain from telling the wife.
        I find the human microbiome fascinating, and have held forth on it many times when we’re drinking under the Big Oak. Wife doesn’t like to think about it, to say the least(the boys think it’s cool)…from the “good bugs” in yer gut to the little lobster things in your eyelashes, we’re all a walking community.
        as far as the veracity of this article…I don’t know. It was my understanding that sperm are relatively short lived, but this is about little bits of DNA…not actual sperm cells.
        so I would guess that I have cow DNA in me from all the steak?
        It’s more likely that a non-scientist snatched a scary headline from a study that they don’t have the smash to fully understand.

      2. Harold

        Also , the article is from 2012, you’d think if a there were anything to it, it would have had more press resonance.

      3. Lee

        I gotta say, the working class women I’ve known, including the one that raised me, could give as good as they got, and the guys might talk crap among themselves but around the gals they watched their mouths and kept their hands to themselves unless instructed or strongly and obviously encouraged to do otherwise.

      4. ChrisPacific

        This is a big fat nothing (“new study” in a current article linking to a paper from 2012 should be a tell). The story seems to pop up with some regularity. Snopes knows about it and assesses it as false (in the sense that it’s theoretically possible but currently unsupported by evidence, and the articles claiming the contrary are written in bad faith).

        The whole point of the article relies on the author drawing conclusions from the data and results that were not part of the findings of the original study. Their method for doing this contains a number of errors and would never pass critical scrutiny. Their explanation for why the study doesn’t make the same claim is that the scientists knew about it but tried to hide it from the public. That makes very little sense to me (if you wanted to hide it, why publish at all?) Occam’s Razor suggests that a much more likely reason why the study didn’t draw this conclusion is that it wasn’t supported by the evidence and wouldn’t have passed peer review.

      5. ChrisPacific

        Incidentally, I would not consider Mind Foster a reputable source. Try clicking around for a bit to see if there is any ‘there’ there (I found the Home and Contact links at the bottom particularly amusing). They look a lot like one of the parasitical clickbait sites that arose to monetize Facebook news feeds, except that they have fewer ads than I’d expect for one of those.

    2. Balakirev

      When I read:

      “As it turns out, the female brain is even more mysterious than we previously thought.”

      …the image of some frat boys snickering to and elbowing one another as some girls walk by inevitably comes to mind. I can’t help but wonder if this article’s chatty style and misogynistic joke means the whole thing is lacking in the nuance of research.

    3. Dale

      Does this explain Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to young women, that they should date bad boys first before they getting married to a nice guy? I always wondered what that was about. Now I know: grabbing their DNA. But does this DNA then mix in with the DNA of their offspring? Why else would female bodies retain it? By the way, here is Sandberg’s advice:

      “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”

      1. ewmayer

        “Does this explain Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to young women, that they should date bad boys first before they getting married to a nice guy? I always wondered what that was about. Now I know: grabbing their DNA.”

        Sorry, can’t resist a laugh line that featured in an ep. of Jane the Virgin in which a gal absconds with a deep-frozen vial of her ex’s semen: “That girl’s got spunk!”

        “But does this DNA then mix in with the DNA of their offspring? Why else would female bodies retain it?”

        Due to the messiness of biology and evolution, our bodies retain a lot of genetic crud (e.g. from viruses), either because it’s genetically neutral (i.e. no evolutionary reason to develop immune mechnisms to clear it) or – at least for DNA which ends up inserting into our own – in fact has a long-term evolutionary benefit, typically via novel genetic material which subsequent evolutionary trial&error makes beneficial use of. Think of that aspect of natural selection as a kind of ever-accumulating junk pile in the evolutionary barn – most of it will never get used, but every once in a while evolution will wander around in there, as it were, and find some way to make use of some piece of junk or other. The analogy alas falls flat in the sense that our genome is an ever-self-replicating sequence of barns subject to random mixing and reassortment – if one inherits one with some material that proves harmful (think dioxin-filled waste barrels) that lineage of barns will be penalized and gradually vanish from the species, ‘good barns’ get strongly selected for, and neutral barns hang around until some subsequent random junk-shuffling or ‘junk swap meet’ event puts them in either the good or bad category, at which point selection starts to act on them.

        In the present case, since the ‘men on the brain” DNA appears to not make its way into the germline-cell genome, it simply vanishes after the death of its carrier, as do all the other parts of the carrier’s non-germline microbiome.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Assuming for the moment there’s an iota of substance to the story, I keep wondering what functionality that extra DNA might have, and I come back to scent, which apparently is far more important to us than we realize. I refer you to a certain scene in “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” – egad, is that scene in the movie?

          But that’s just wild speculation, because i suspect the whole thing is hooey, or completely misunderstands the study. If sperm were running wild in women’s bodies, the species wouldn’t have made it.

      2. kareninca

        What bizarre advice. Why would I have wanted to date a “crazy boy”?? So that I could end up dead in the trunk of a car? Why would I have wanted to date a guy I knew was a commitment-phobe – and thereby reinforce that? I hope no-one takes that advice seriously.

    4. Oregoncharles

      It reads as pure sensationalism to me. There’s simply no connection from chimeric cells in the brain and probably elsewhere, which appears to be the human condition, to “every man you’ve had sex with.” Without a condom, that is.

      Remember, the presence of chimeric cells apparently is perfectly healthy; should be interesting to find out how that works. What about the overamped human immune system, which is one reason we live so long? But the article goes to lengths to make it sound horrifying.

  8. Wandering Mind

    War Finance Methods and Public Support for War

    I think this article is quite a bit off-base. From an MMT viewpoint, the need to fight a war results in the government producing the currency necessary to mobilize the war-fighting resources. Taxation or debt issuance comes afterwards.

    This can be seen in our Civil War when, within a year of Fort Sumter, the North was printing “Greenbacks” to finance the war. The income tax which Congress imposed was not necessary for the issuance of that paper currency, nor were the bonds which were issued.

    In World War I the Treasury issued 90 day notes to banks, which then credited the Treasury’s accounts at those banks for an equal amount, which was then spent into the economy for war production. Those balances then became available for the purchase of 20 and 30 year bonds which Treasury issued as the 90 day notes expired. Those banking operations were facilitated by the Fed.

    During the First World War, the income tax was only a few years old. During the Second World War, the top marginal income tax rate was very high compared with today and there was also the same debt issuance operation. Yet, there was strong public support for both the First and Second World Wars.

    So, as I see it, the article misses the fundamental nature of the connection between money and war and also limits the “analysis” to wars like Vietnam, where there could be other causes for lack of support, such as the draft.

    Other causes, for example, like the effectiveness of propaganda.

    1. makedoanmend


      On cursory reading of the headline, I was thinking this sounds more than far fetched. A female’s vaginal secretions are actually hostile to sperm, and sperm outside the body dies fairly rapidly do the narrow range of conditions under which it can survive. And then my biology genes started waking up and cell signalling came to mind. Sperm and egg, being specialised “germ” cells, need a fairly complex set of molecular signalling events to occur in order to ovulation to proceed:

      “The first contact between germ cells during fertilization is mediated by the surface of the egg coat. This specialized extracellular matrix, called zona pellucida (ZP) in mammals and vitelline envelope (VE) in non-mammals, must be recognized and penetrated by sperm in order for gamete plasma membrane fusion to occur (Wassarman, 1999)”

      That is, the ova germ cell is specialised to allow penetration while all somatic (non gamete/reproductive) cells are about keeping “foreign” bodies outside, hence why a sperm cell doesn’t “invade” a epithelial cheek cell.

      “A cheek cell, an epithelial cell found in the tissue on the inside lining of the mouth, continually secretes mucus to maintains a moist environment in the mouth. Together with salivary glands that secrete saliva, the cheek cells supply enough moisture in the mouth for enzymes to thrive. This moisture softens food, assists in swallowing and starts digestion…”

      I’m only addressing the topographical issues, as I didn’t read the article.

      But, the story did seem to have all the right notes (e.g. tunnelling sperm) but fortunately the notes were all in the wrong places.

      1. Wyoming

        Ahh! Very interesting.

        1. The first thought to me was that it would be interesting to see what the reactions of the female audience was going to be. Along with Yves there was a ” Yikes indeed” as I expected.

        2. That we have made it a couple of million years without this wiping out the species so we must be pretty resilient if this is so yucky.

        3. My dog wakes me up with a sloppy kiss most mornings – do I have Bernese DNA floating around in me? – naw I would be a nicer human in that case.

        4. That it was a good thing the researchers didn’t find the DNA going from female to male as any “Yikes indeed” reaction from males would be labeled as misogynist in our current social climate whether it was considered yucky or not.

        5. So if it is fake news I wonder what social conflict this article was intended to stoke the fires of; premarital sex; exposing misandry; damaging trust in the news; having fun creating chaos; to make Trump feel a sense of accomplishment?

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      A load of utter nonsense, then?

      (I suspect some abstinence activist made this one up to terrify teens)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Though I suspect that once you have intercourse with Mammon, it stays in your soul.

        Can we eradicate greed, say on Wall Street, or only hope to contain it at best?I think we allow that there will always be corruption.

        1. ambrit

          I would think that ‘relations’ with Mammon would be more in the line of buggery. The term “brokeback” comes to mind.
          An era is often defined by its’ response to corruption in all its’ forms.

  9. Wukchumni

    California’s New Digital License Plates Give You the Chance to Finally Be the “ASSMAN” Gizmodo

    Our license plates in California are the last bastion of cursive writing in the whole country, although they contain just one word written in such a manner.

    1. Robert McGregor

      I make a point of using cursive writing when I fill out “work forms,” and have to write the worker’s name. Also on checks, which I infrequently write. Interestingly, I am no longer able to properly sign my own name, since I have done quick-form, “couple-swiggles” signatures for so long.

  10. Wukchumni

    The NYT just figured out that recycling is dead, after the middle kingdom done killed it on New Year’s Day.
    “Oregon is serious about recycling. Its residents are accustomed to dutifully separating milk cartons, yogurt containers, cereal boxes and kombucha bottles from their trash to divert them from the landfill. But this year, because of a far-reaching rule change in China, some of the recyclables are ending up in the local dump anyway.

    In recent months, in fact, thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of American cities and towns — including several in Oregon — have gone to landfills.

    In the past, the municipalities would have shipped much of their used paper, plastics and other scrap materials to China for processing. But as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1 it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Foreign garbage’ – does it include movie flops?

      Of course, the difficult part is garbage that comes with foreign tourists, especially when generated in the first few hours after arrival. Do you have to take home with you?

      1. Plenue

        Actually, the Chinese seem to have no conception of what constitutes a good movie (not saying anyone in the West does either). Aside from the constant stream of melodramatic propaganda (again, not that different from us) their own industry produces, they’ve become the dominate foreign market for Hollywood. They’re a large part of the reason we keep making the godawful Transformers movies, for example. Hollywood is preparing for a future where they’re the biggest market:

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Ironically enough, China has a wonderful cinema history – even in the 1980’s and 90’s it had outstanding films, mostly using deep allegory to comment on Chinese society.

          But the Chinese government has effectively co-oped pretty much its entire cultural elite. What they can’t do by oppression, they do by offering great chunks of cash. Great Chinese film makers are now churning out almost entirely commercial junk- sometimes superior junk (e.g. with Zhang Yimou’s recent output), but still junk. The ‘arty’ side of Chinese cinema is pretty much confined to making orientalist nonsense that plays well in western arthouse festivals.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And the other China’s arthouse film nonsense as well.

            I recently watched Assassin by Hou Hsiao Hsien (Republic of China), and read the comments at IMDB afterwards. I agree with those who said it was confusing as heck.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      my tiny town has a big recycling facility. big bales of newsprint and office paper(shredded, from the banks).
      a few years ago, thinking about poverty(18% out here, last I looked), and the attitudes towards folks “on welfare”, and how our failure to make anything was a primary driver…I hit on “toilet paper as a cottage industry”. something everybody needs, and ALL of it comes from somewhere else, the vast majority made by 2 companies: Proctor and Gamble(sp-2) and Georgia Pacific, which is a Kock Brothers Joint.
      But here’s all this paper.
      So I acquired some old news papers, and built a fire, and boiled it up and spread it out on some screen frames…and voilla!= homemmade bunghole fodder.recipe would need jiggering, for softness, etc and
      care would hafta be taken with inks and other chemicals in the paper(so as not to harm one’s nethers), but it’s a viable enterprise.
      Of course, the city office was 1. incredulous and wary(even tho they are used to me)…and 2. said No-Go because all the paper waste is already owned by whatever company sends it to china.
      If china is no longer taking it, here’s a possible alternative.
      I find a similar problem with the Metal Pile at the landfill…somebody already owns that trash…but I know the head dude at the dump, and get to pick though it on the sly.

      1. makedoanmend

        Yeah, same thing happened to me in my “recycling” centre in Ireland. I was banned. I could see so many possibilities for recycling and bugging around with electronic cast offs. The market said no.

        Then the centre “went out of business” and now our consumer detritus travels further afield at a walloping great cost per bin; which income goes straight into private business pockets.

      2. Brian

        Oregon has lost this one round of the battle against recycling, but has 40+ years of success prior. We also have space to store this material. Smart operators are going to figure out the price point and come out smelling like….
        There proprietors of our local dumps want to keep all the “garbage” for themselves. No matter what value it might have to our state to recycle within. The dumps won’t give it away because they get paid by the pound to entomb it. No value added.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      We recycled our trash and sent it to recycling centers where it was recycled, or so we were told. And after we switched to the single-flow recycling I wondered how anyone or any machine could separate things out at the recycling plants. And then I find out the recycling centers were shipping a lot of the recycling waste to China, and hear rumors that it also found rides to landfills in poor states here. Now China won’t recycle our recycling for us. Am I being overly skeptical to wonder whether China ever recycled some of the recycling we put on ships to them? And how and when did the great Pacific Plastics Gyre grow so large?

    4. ambrit

      This is a classic “pump and dump” scheme.
      America, and other Western nations no doubt, find it cheaper to ship their recyclable waste stream to China. So, they dismantle their own recycling industrial infrastructure. Now China wises up to the unpleasant side effects of importing other peoples’ garbage and restricts it. The West suddenly has this giant waste stream with no way to process it. How long will it take for the West to rebuild the waste processing infrastructure? Otherwise, its’ going to be landfills as far as the nose can smell for the deplorable states.
      The only, as far as I can find out quickly, plastic bag recycler in North America: in North America:
      This makes me even more inclined to applaud those hardy souls from farm states who dumped piles of manure on State House steps in protests in days gone by. Hows about shipping dumpsters of mixed waste to the Senate and House floors?

      1. Wukchumni

        It was a long-lived Cargo Cult, albeit in reverse.

        Giant ships would come from 8,000 miles away and take our trash for us, even paid for the privilege.

        Recycling here was largely make-work and nothing more. If we really gave a damn we would’ve had 6 bins on our curbs for all types of recycling, but nope, all we had was one big stupid blue bin, which enabled jobs based on separating it out on it’s way to the far east.

  11. HotFlash

    The financial scandal no one is talking about Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

    Well, I certainly talked about it, having been assistant controller of a couple of SME’s in a former life. Not that anyone listened. I have been in the room when the audit firm’s senior partner looked at the financials and audit schedules and wondered aloud, “Let’s see, how can we massage these?” I and my staff had prepared all this stuff, so that was why I was in on that meeting. Normally it would have been just the actual controller who read business magazines, talked to the owners, attended all the conferences, and didn’t actually count very much.

    In our case, the goal was to reduce taxes (privately-held co), not hornswoggle The Market, but the ‘independent’ auditor surely aimed to please the guys who paid his fee, even in that tiny two-partner audit firm. I also saw and wondered about the M&A frenzy of the “80’s and ’90’s. Low and mid-level accountants hated it, saw their chances of ever being a partner, let alone senior, evaporate and become a future of being a lowly worker-bee forever. Self-regulating, too few to fail, and predictable corrupt.

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    The Job Guarantee and the Economics of Fear: A Response to Robert Samuelson Pavlina Tcherneva (UserFriendly)

    Maybe I’m missing something – someone please clue me in if I am – but one thing I find confusing about this JG back and forth is that AFAICT all of the economic analysis is completely demand driven. In other words, the estimated economic outcomes are completely a function of how much money is paid out, not on what it is that JG workers actually do. To get to the GDP growth assumptions in the Wray, Tcherneva et al paper that explains the new proposal (link here), there is presumably some kind of multiplier to get from wages to output but there is no indication that the production of what those wages pay for makes any difference at all. Which makes me wonder if the economic modeling would be any different for a helicopter money (or BI) proposal that pumped the same amount of $$ into the economy.

    JG supporters, including me, like to trumpet all the useful work that could and should be done. While there is a fair amount of handwaving about possible JG jobs (the paper has bullet after bullet of principles and suggestions), there doesn’t seem to have yet been any effort made to model the impact of a JG that does that kind of work vs one that does different work, or no work at all.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘No work at all.’

      A while back, it was pointed out the housekeeping was not included in the GDP formula.

      Is housework work? Is housework useful? Is housework needed? Is housework good for the environment?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Not sure if questions are rhetorical or not but yes yes yes IDK. As noted, GDP has lots of problems and productivity analysis reproduces them because GDP or some variant is the productivity numerator (output). But productivity analysis is worse because it by definition rules out any such thing as productivity not only in regard to unpaid work but also any non-profit or govt work.

        Nevertheless economists hold to the trope that (measured) productivity growth is the be all and end all of economic growth. So it strikes me as a bit surprising that most JG advocates have nothing to say about it. (Tcherneva has a few words about the claim that JG “make-work” jobs will be low productivity, simply noting that unemployment can hardly be more productive.) This is a very Keynesian approach (analogous to Krugman’s oft-stated quip – I think attributable to someone else – that while it would be good to put people to work doing useful things, it would also be worthwhile to pay people to dig holes and then fill them up again so long as the needed resources to do such were otherwise idle.)

      2. marieann

        I got a late start to a career, I was nearly 40 when I started Nursing. I managed to work full time for 4 years before I realised that a home does not run itself. I switched to part time nursing and part time home running.

        So in answer to your question Housework is definitely work

  13. EoH

    Following last week’s implementation of the GDPR, the EU is proposing another, the ePrivacy Regulation, meant to enhance personal privacy. Natasha Singer’s NYT article about it reads like a press release for tech lobbyists who oppose it.

    If adopted, the ePrivacy Rregulation, like the GDPR, would apply directly and not require state implementation to become law.

    If the current draft prevails, the law will require Skype, WhatsApp, iMessage, video games with player messaging and other electronic services that allow private interactions to obtain people’s explicit permission before placing tracking codes on users’ devices or collecting data about their communications.

    Importantly, the ePrivacy regulation would require companies to offer the same service to customers, whether or not they opted in.

    One industry lobbyist from the UK insists that “every stakeholder” from industry he has talked to is “unanimously opposed” to the ePrivacy regulation. He could have shortened that to, “Every client I have hates it.”

    Big tech screams that the regulation would throttle “innovation,” or at least revenue. It threatens to do a Galt, and leave Europe without its pathbreaking innovations. Privacy advocates are asking whether that’s a binding promise.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Fortunately the US constitution doesn’t contain the word “privacy,” though Amendment IV does rabbit on fecklessly about “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” That’s all become obsolete, which give us this:

      Venmo users have found it’s an extremely effective tool for keeping tabs on friends, partners and exes, researching crushes, and in some cases, uncovering infidelity. Some even say Venmo is a better method for watching people than more explicitly public social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

      Some users seem to forget that their transactions are public by default, and their payment activity provides an unfiltered paper trail of what’s really happening in their lives.

      Venmo has had a social component since it launched in 2009. Users see a feed of both their own friends’ payments and total strangers’ activity every time they open the app, and it’s easy to look up users. Exact amounts aren’t listed, but you can see who’s paying who [sic] and which words or emoji they use to describe the payment.

      Ha ha … isn’t it fun riffling through other peoples’ digital check books out of sheer idle busybody curiosity?

      A business model based on voyeurism — did we expect anything less from the sleazy likes of Paypal, its owner?

      1. Arizona Slim

        I am an identity theft victim. Among other things, the thieves tried to use my business checking account for their Venmo. Long story short: They were unsuccessful.

  14. a different chris

    Note that the authors of “The impact of middle names” were careful to include their own intials in the authorship… the one author is lucky to be able to brandish two! He will go far.

  15. Wukchumni

    Emails show cooperation among EPA, climate-change deniers Associated Press

    “The Washington Post reported in September that Konkus had been scrutinizing grant applications for mentions of climate change, which he reportedly calls “the double C-word.”

  16. Plenue

    >Russian spy poisoning: How the Skripals were saved BBC

    Never having been poisoned with a military nerve agent for a start, I would imagine.

  17. a different chris

    Yulia Skirpal can dine for the rest of her life off the “the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated” joke.

  18. Jim Haygood

    Fortunately the US constitution doesn’t contain the word “privacy,” though Amendment IV does rabbit on fecklessly about “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” That’s all become obsolete, which give us this:

    Venmo users have found it’s an extremely effective tool for keeping tabs on friends, partners and exes, researching crushes, and in some cases, uncovering infidelity. Some even say Venmo is a better method for watching people than more explicitly public social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

    Some users seem to forget that their transactions are public by default, and their payment activity provides an unfiltered paper trail of what’s really happening in their lives.

    Venmo has had a social component since it launched in 2009. Users see a feed of both their own friends’ payments and total strangers’ activity every time they open the app, and it’s easy to look up users. Exact amounts aren’t listed, but you can see who’s paying who [sic] and which words or emoji they use to describe the payment.

    Ha ha … isn’t it fun riffling through other peoples’ digital check books out of sheer idle busybody curiosity?

    A business model based on voyeurism — did we expect anything less from the sleazy likes of Paypal, its owner?

    1. Lee

      I recently watched the 2006 German film Lives of Others. It is a dramatized critique of the intrusive surveillance, snitching, and personal betrayal rampant under the East German Stasi. The implied moral superiority of life in Western democracies is daily being rendered more laughably hypocritical.

  19. allan

    Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria [New England Journal of Medicine]

    Spoiler alert: It was higher than officially acknowledged. Way higher.

    Background: Quantifying the effect of natural disasters on society is critical for recovery of public health services and infrastructure. The death toll can be difficult to assess in the aftermath of a major disaster. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria caused massive infrastructural damage to Puerto Rico, but its effect on mortality remains contentious. The official death count is 64.

    Methods: Using a representative, stratified sample, we surveyed 3299 randomly chosen households across Puerto Rico to produce an independent estimate of all-cause mortality after the hurricane. Respondents were asked about displacement, infrastructure loss, and causes of death. We calculated excess deaths by comparing our estimated post-hurricane mortality rate with official rates for the same period in 2016.

    Results: From the survey data, we estimated a mortality rate of 14.3 deaths (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.8 to 18.9) per 1000 persons from September 20 through December 31, 2017. This rate yielded a total of 4645 excess deaths during this period (95% CI, 793 to 8498), equivalent to a 62% increase in the mortality rate as compared with the same period in 2016. However, this number is likely to be an underestimate because of survivor bias. The mortality rate remained high through the end of December 2017, and one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care. Hurricane-related migration was substantial.

    Conclusions: This household-based survey suggests that the number of excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is more than 70 times the official estimate.

    “one third of the deaths were attributed to delayed or interrupted health care.”

    Why, that surely sounds like grounds for a congressional investigation. Bueller? Bueller???

  20. perpetualWAR

    Financial scandal no one is talking about.

    I realized the underlying accounting scandal early on. I was informed that the crisis would unwind if I could understand FASB 140. Because I knew an exec at Deloitte & Touche, I called her up and asked if she, or one of her associates, could explain FASB 140 and the ramifications to my dilemma. She rudely told me that both she and her associates get hundreds of thousands of dollars to consult and explain accounting rules and she would not be doing that for free! She was so rude and abrupt that instantly I knew both: 1) that accounting firms were hiding the financial crimes with the use of “rules”; and 2) we were no longer friends.

    So, yes, our accounting firms along with the financial firms are BOTH responsible for millions of people’s downfall, and consequently their windfall.

    1. EoH

      Your assessment sounds correct. Were your friend at Deloittes competent, she would have said something like, “Here’s a two-minute summary,” and offered to give you something more complete, but at a price. She would have written the call off as a “marketing expense”.

      That she did none of those things suggests several possibilities: She is not a friend, is not interested in your paid business, does not have a marketing expense account to write off such calls, is being pushed beyond endurance to bill hours, and may not have a clue about FASB 140.

  21. Lord Koos

    The journalism bias site is a bad joke. Naked Capitalism is “center left”, the same category as CNN and ABC news? And Voice of America is “least biased”? Please.

    The framing has moved so far to the right that “the center” is meaningless.

    1. EoH

      Agreed. Midfield has been moved to the penalty box.

      NC might be center left, it is hardly left. CNN, ABC, NPR and the like, however, are centrist. They are not remotely left. VoA, of course, is a government propaganda machine that makes the BBC look neutral.

      1. John k

        I would have thought most msm, including the ones you mention, are warmongers, bank and neolib supporters, support deep and police state, and oppose m4a.
        Not what I think of as centrist.
        Just because reps have moved so far right they’ve left the planet doesn’t make msm, or dem elites, centrist. They’re mainstream reps, or fascist.

  22. Wukchumni

    So we lied about all the people that died in Puerto Rico in the midst of Maria, reporting a little over 1% of the actual deaths.

    That’s along the lines of a Soviet Leader winning with 99% of the public votes tabulated…

  23. Dave

    PNG may be alarmed by what happened to Malaysia. No-one tipped the election result, it was totally like WHAT? Like no-one tipped Brexit. Obama used FB data to win and boasted about it. Did Trump? From memory, in the tv expose of CA, subversive operations in Malaysia were mentioned by CA management.

    So maybe PNG politicians are thinking it could happen to them too, with no discernable warning, and maybe they are spooked (intentional double entendre).

    FB, Google etc use our brains to addict us (dopamine, our need for friends, instant gratification etc). Then they create warm and fuzzy myths about who they are. So Zuckerberg, even in Congress, talks about his dorm, being a student, how he’s sorry. He’s even made up to look like he’s 17 yo. Awww shucks, he’s just a kid.

    But in the real world his company addicts then stalks us. They keep a diary on our every move every day and then sell it to the highest bidder. Companies that want to change what we buy, politicians that want to change how we vote, academics that want to mess with our moods. It’s all on the record.

    And mainstream media and PR guys profit from the data on all of us. We dont even have to be on FB anymore, they still have a file on us. The media weaponises language to hide what’s going on. Its not stalking, its surveillance, a term used by police and spies for legitmate investigation of suspects.
    Electronic surveillance is invisible. How can invisible stuff even hurt us, not like a bear running straight at us. So what can go wrong with us just keeping in touch with our friends.

    But perhaps governments, including PNG, are waking up to the downsides of FB and others selling data on our every move, whim, like, thought, for profit and manipulation. Is it even possible in this new world to have a democratic vote ?

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