Links 5/4/18

People feeding kangaroos at an Australian sanctuary have made the animals so aggressive they’re putting people in the hospital Business Insider

World´s largest Victorian glasshouse ´emerges gloriously´ after Kew restoration Daily Mail

Climate Change Turns Coastal Property Into a Junk Bond Noah Smith, Bloomberg

Liquidity ousts leverage as the big market worry FT

This is what the Warren Buffett empire looks like, in one giant chart MarketWatch

Fewer dark corners for dirty money to hide in FT

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code Bloomberg

Former Oklahoma Police Pension Fund Chief Charged With Seven Felonies Governing

Amazon halts plan for office tower in Seattle over proposed tax Reuters (EM).

AI researchers allege that machine learning is alchemy Science

A critical security flaw in popular industrial software put power plants at risk ZDNet (CL).

Twitter: No big deal, but everyone needs to change their password The Register. On World Password day, no kidding!

Dark Side of Computers, Smart Phones and Tablets: Blue Light Causes Cancer, Ruins Your Eyes and Makes You Toss and Turn at Night Washington’s Blog. Any blue lights I have taped over, and my machines are set to night mode as well.

Bond investors pull money from emerging markets FT


The Telegraph’s call for patriotic Brexit poems has backfired quite spectacularly The Canary (CL). Nobody could have predicted….

The strong economy: how Brexit dishonesty began Mainly Macro

Local elections 2018: Tories win back Barnet amid Labour antisemitism row – live Guardian

Corbyn’s capital: the story of how London became a Labour city New Statesman


Iran’s Secret Nukes? Scaremongering Netanyahu Strikes Again Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

Netanyahu’s ‘Iran Lied’ Presentation Shows Why Trump Should Keep the Nuke Deal Foreign Policy

U.S. freezes funding for Syria’s “White Helmets” CBS

Iran Must Pay Billions to 9/11 Families, U.S. Judge Rules Newsweek


Will China Replace the US Global Role? The Diplomat

China ‘deploys missiles’ in South China Sea, US, Australia warn of consequences ABC Australia (KW).

Concerns grow as Team Trump kicks off trade talks with China Asia Times

New Cold War

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 3 MAY 2018 (Patrick Armstrong) Sic Semper Tyrannis

For Germans, Nord Stream 2 is no longer just a commercial interest Handelsblatt

Trump Transition

Pompeo vows to reinvigorate diplomacy, restore US ‘swagger’ Federal News Radio

Giuliani May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils NYT

Corruption Is Bad HuffPo. “We can’t just address money in politics. We have to address money in government.” –Rohit Chopra, incoming federal trade commissioner.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

De-Briefing Academics: Unpaid Intelligence Informants (PDF) James Petras. Academics returning from Latin America, but one might imagine academics returning from the flyover states are also debriefed….

Our Famously Free Press

Online anger is gold to this junk-news pioneer PBS (Bill B).

Time for a New U.S. Foreign Policy Narrative Ian Bremmer and Joe Kennedy III, Foreign Affairs. So he’s running?

Imperial Collapse Watch

It’s Not Just the Forward Deployed U.S. Naval Institute

Weapons Training Likely Causes Brain Injury in Troops, Study Says WSJ

Ranks of Notorious Hate Group Include Active-Duty Military Pro Publica (UserFriendly).

Homeland’ Review: Finale Ends a Magnificent Season 7 With a Radical Message for America IndieWire (EM). EM: “I only watched Homeland through season 4 (don’t get Showtime so would buy used DVDs of each season maybe a year after they came out), but while searching for something else on IMDB, happened across this gag-worthy bit of life-needs-to-be-more-like-a-Hollywood-show propaganda:

“Homeland’s” president has never been a Donald Trump stand-in. She’s her own character emblematic of much more than our Cheeto-in-Chief. But her action is the kind of thoughtful, idealistic, self-sacrificing move that he would never make, even if it’s easy to argue he needs to — would the world not be a better place if instead of focusing on when and how Trump’s lies will be exposed (and it’s quite clear he has lied), that he step aside and let the country’s mass healing begin? Would the effort alone, whether or not it works, be admirable? His few remaining proponents may argue otherwise, but it’s hard to dismiss the gesture seen in this fictional (yet studiously relevant) take on America.

And of course the baddies in season 7 – the ones who drive our heroic CIA gal to madness – are the deplorable Rooskies!” Lambert here: “Healing.” Another word to watch out for. Generally the people calling for healing are highly unlikely ever to have been injured.

Jobs Guarantee

The Guardian view on a job guarantee: a policy whose time has come Editorial, Guardian

A Consensus Strategy for a Universal Job Guarantee Program (PDF) Randall Wray, Levy Institute (UserFriendly).

The Job Guarantee (JG) Pavlina Tcherneva (UserFriendly). A very useful compendium.

Class Warfare

When Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, White-Collar Workers Leave Governing

Amid National Uprising, Teachers Just Took a Major Step Toward Organizing Charter Schools The Intercept

‘Felony-friendly’ jobseekers offer U.S. labor market clue Reuters (EM). I’d prefer not to work in banking at the executive level, thanks.

No entitlement crisis in America Nathan Tankus, FT Alphaville

Why Karl Marx is more relevant than ever FT

Bad TV n+1

Could robots be counselors? Early research shows positive user experience TechXplore (original).

The Redistribution of Sex Ross Douthat, NYT. Fools rush in…

The Key to Everything NYRB. Big if true.

Antidote du jour (via):

Named Eric, no doubt….

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. Kevin

    “Generally the people calling for healing are highly unlikely ever to have been injured.”

    aint that the truth!!!!!!

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Maybe it was a typo and they were calling for heeling, you know, with a little jerk at the end of a chain to start the process. Next will be fetch, roll over and play dead. ;p

      1. pretzelattack

        maybe they meant ward heeling, but back then political machines did more for their voters, so maybe not.

    2. Lee

      — would the world not be a better place if instead of focusing on when and how Trump’s lies will be exposed (and it’s quite clear he has lied), that he step aside and let the country’s mass healing begin?

      “Healing.” Another word to watch out for. Generally the people calling for healing are highly unlikely ever to have been injured.

      At his most virulent, Trump is nothing more than an opportunistic, secondary infection resulting from a chronic condition.

  2. Kevin C Smith

    For $10 I got a bunch of red filters to put over displays on clocks, blue LEDs, and even over and LED fixture in the bathroom to weed out blue light in my bedroom etc:

    I also got some red night lights to put around my home, and they are also excellent

    And my wife and I wear blue blocking glasses from about 8 PM till bedtime

    1. Stephen Gardner

      As long as no one can show a mechanism by which blue LEDs cause cancer I can’t get too excited. There are too many confounding variables. Correlation is not causation especially in complex studies like this. This blue light paranoia has the smell of all the other health panics that periodically fill the press. Coffee is bad/coffee is good.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There has long been a demonstrated correlation between shift work and breast (and other) cancer rates. And recent research indicates that there is a relationship between disruption to our circadian clocks and cancer (there are many other similar studies to the one linked to here).

        Given what we know about blue light and its impact on our natural circadian rhythm, its not by any means a leap to associate it with increased cancer rates. Its not proven of course, but we are not talking here about isolated studies, but a consistent pattern of research coming to similar conclusions from different directions.

        1. Merf56

          Spouse is a bench research scientist at an educational research institution ( ie not big Pharma) and says the cancer correlation with shift work/ circadian rhythm is proving out to have more to do with chronic lack of quality sleep due to daylight light and noise, poor diet due to disruption of family meals( eating a lot more junk and fast foods) and lack of exercise again due to the odd hours than any blue light they are exposed to. He agrees, as do I, with Stephen Gardner above that is is mostly a money making health fad du jour. Research of course continues in this area and smart people will readjust their thoughts when or if new information comes out.

        2. Yves Smith

          The blue light study also found that people who slept in less than fully dark bedrooms have poor quality sleep, comparable to people who do shift work. I sleep with eyeshades and earplugs, really serious eyeshades. But a really good set of blackout curtains would be even better.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Reluctantly, I’m going to suggest a commercial product: it’s called Indow. They’re “storm” windows that go on the inside, where they’re easy to install. The process is a bit (needlessly) elaborate, but they improve efficiency. More to the point, they include “blackout” types. They aren’t cheap, but one or two bedroom windows wouldn’t be too bad.
            Chief problem might be storage, as they don’t collapse like curtains.

            Caveat: they’re one with internet ads that follow you around after you contact them.

          2. Elizabeth Burton

            Same here, Yves. We can’t put up drapes, and the level of ambient light in the bedroom was clearly interfering when I woke up in the wee hours. I don’t just use earplugs but rather listen to audiobooks. Apparently, my brain thinks someone is reading me a bedtime story. It can also make for some interesting dreams.

          3. The Rev Kev

            Deepest sleep that I ever had was when I slept in a basement once and there was no light. Absolutely none at all and it was total pitch darkness. Most places you sleep there is always some light that your body and eyes still see and react to so it was a bit of a revelation to the sort of sleep that you can have without light pollution.

      2. David

        While I agree with your comment about correlation / causation, this is interesting:

        The Purkinje effect

        The Purkinje effect (sometimes called the Purkinje shift) is the tendency for the peak luminance sensitivity of the human eye to shift toward the blue end of the color spectrum at low illumination levels as part of dark adaptation…

        The effect occurs because the color-sensitive cones in the retina are most sensitive to orange-yellow light, whereas the rods, which are more light-sensitive (and thus more important in low light) but which do not distinguish colors, respond best to green-blue light. This is why humans become virtually color-blind under low levels of illumination, for instance moonlight.

        The Purkinje effect occurs at the transition between primary use of the photopic (cone-based) and scotopic (rod-based) systems, that is, in the mesopic state: as intensity dims, the rods take over, and before color disappears completely, it shifts towards the rods’ top sensitivity.

        Rod sensitivity improves considerably after 5–10 minutes in the dark, but rods take about 30 minutes of darkness to regenerate photoreceptors and reach full sensitivity.

        So the combination of the color of the light and the intensity of the light received by a more sensitive and slow reacting receptor may be contributing to the observed cancer increase.

      3. oliverks

        I have really seen little evidence to indicate coffee is bad. I have seen people get worked up about it, but has anyone got any hard evidence about the evils of coffee?

        1. ewmayer

          Pros: It’s chock-full of antioxidants, for one. And for those of us who love the tase and smell, having that little bit of positivity in each day to boost one’s outlook surely can’t hurt.

          Cons: If some of the pesticides commonly used in growing it make it through roasting (I have no hard data on that, but surely findable online). And folks who use the caffeine to counter chronic lack of sleep could also be incurring long-term harm, i.e. in this case coffee is not a cause but an enabler of bad health habits. And of course McDonald’s-style “we call it coffee, but it’s really a coffee-flavored fake shake” crud with all its calories and lab-created ‘nutrients’ cannot be good for you. Fresh-roasted organic coffee with no sweetener except perhaps a smidge of lowfat milk, that’s my brew.

          1. oliverks

            I take the Italian view of coffee. It has to be espresso there are no other alternatives.

            There are also studies showing it is good for brain function, and may actually help the liver (which kind of surprised me).

      4. Spring texan

        Yes I feel quite calm about blue light also, will continue to take tablet to bed.

        And though no I don’t sleep well in bright light (I had a college roommate who used to come in late at night and turn on the overhead light which was TERRIBLE), I don’t need total darkness like some people. Which makes life easier.

      5. Plenue

        Anti-GMO advocates seem to have set the standard that you need never bother to actually explain how something causes cancer to fearmonger that it causes cancer.

        1. tegnost

          well I’m an anti GMO advocate and I don’t see any GMO advocates bothering to explain anything, and my not wanting unlabelled GMO products (it ain’t food for some of us, it’s product) has nothing to do with cancer. It’s that I think GMO is greed based food product where someone can own the genome and I think that is wrong, to put put it mildly and stay within site policies.

          1. Plenue

            There are plenty of actually valid critiques of GMOs. But by insisting on the completely evidence free ‘frankenfoods that will give us all cancer’ angle, you’re hurting your cause, and being dishonest.

        2. Octopii

          Precautionary principle vs generally recognized as safe. I personally like the precautionary principle when it comes to newly/artificially created things that go in my body.

    2. Skateman

      My understanding of the blue-light issue is that it block’s the body’s release of melatonin (which itself helps you sleep and inhibits cancer). So my question is, wouldn’t it be easier to just take 1-3 mg of melatonin an hour before bed and call it a night?

        1. Skateman

          From the link “Depending on light intensity and wavelength, exposure to ALAN may affect human health by decreasing the production and secretion of pineal melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytriptamine), which is a hormone normally produced in the dark phase of the 24-h cycle (Brainard et al. 2001; Chang et al. 2014; Escofet and Bará 2015; Thapan et al. 2013). Melatonin is related to cancer through several pathways (IARC 2010; Korkmaz and Reiter 2008), including effects on estrogen-receptor positive human breast cancer cells (Hill et al. 2015).”

          Like I said, just take melatonin. Science backs its supplementation.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      I notice that all three links are to amazon, or

      Are there alternatives?

    4. Anon

      For blue light blocking on a computer, whether Apple or PC, I recommend f.lux, which is a free program you can get here:


      At night, or even during the day, you can lower the amount of blue light emitted from your desktop or laptop.

      1. blennylips

        I heartily agree, Anon.

        Been using it for years. Elegant, unobtrusive software IMHO.

        Startling difference – I found it almost painful to turn off (more blue light) after adapting to it in the evening.

        (also available for Mac Linux iPhone/iPad Android)

      2. Lord Koos

        +1 on f.lux — a great program which I’ve used for a few years now.

        I’m not much of a smart phone user but I wonder if there are similar apps for phones?

        1. Octopii

          iOS calls the feature Night Shift. It is certainly jarring to go from the phone to the computer at night and get blasted with bright bluish light.

      3. Procopius

        I just installed f.lux on my desktop. I used to have it but it went away after several re-installations of Windows. I like this version becaust it reminds me that it’s getting close to bedtime. “It’s 8½ hors until your wake-up time.”Don’t know if the change of screen color temperature really helps, but it does make it easier for me for me to shut down.

    5. David

      I think it’s pretty well established that screens give off blue light which confuses the body’s metabolism into thinking that it’s still daytime, and so, among other things, inhibits melatonin production. I use a free screen-darkening program (Iris) which cuts out blue light as the sun goes down, and I wear orange tinted computer glasses, both of which seem to help.

      1. Kevin

        Could it be we are missing the forest for the trees here, just bit?

        My wife lies in bed with her iphone up close to her face because “she needs to read to fall asleep”.
        Bombarding your optic nerves with close-up flashing lights and tiny text hardly seems like a soothing way to drift off to sleep.

        Even with glasses on that may curtail the blue light effect, she will still be over stimulating her brain in a counterproductive effort to calm herself to sleep.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          I know everybody hates Amazon, but I bought a Kindle Paperwhite precisely because it has a backlit screen but not the bright one of a smartphone or tablet. If having a light on isn’t an issue, the Kobo reader isn’t backlit at all.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps in a strong anti-trust world, Amazon could be broken into little pieces, and one of those pieces would be the non-hateful KindleCo Incorporated.

  3. cnchal

    Amazon halts plan for office tower in Seattle over proposed tax Reuters (EM).

    Amazon’s decision puts a question mark on more than 7,000 new jobs at those buildings that council members might be loathe to cost the city. Construction work and other businesses that would have catered to the world’s largest online retailer could be at risk too.

    “Pending the outcome of the head tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sub-lease all space in our recently leased Rainer Square building,” Amazon’s Vice President Drew Herdener said in a statement.

    OK. Amazon hates taxes.

    Seattle City Council in April proposed a tax plan affecting the city’s roughly 500 largest businesses.

    The proposal, an employee hours tax that would transition to a payroll tax in 2021, would generate $75 million per year for Seattle, most of which would go to building affordable housing.

    OK. OK. We get the message. Amazon really really hates taxes.

    When Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, White-Collar Workers Leave: Governing

    “When wealth creation disappears, there is no money for overhead” could be a better title.

    Globalization is a disaster, no matter where one cares to look.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Sure sounds like blackmail from Amazon, doesn’t it?

      And look at Durkan caving.

      If Amazon didn’t build, it would be the best decision this pathetic City Council ever made.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Right on with that last sentence. I remember back in the late 90s during the .com boom they were putting up new buildings all over the Seattle metropolitan area to house what was certain to be the everlasting presence of all these startups. Until the bust came and there were half built towers with nobody to occupy them. I seem to remember the same phenomenon in Texas during the 80s for whatever it was that was booming at that time.

        A buddy in Seattle sent me this article where protesters were shouting down Sawant, the socialist city councilor:

        Does it seem odd to anybody else that a group of construction workers suddenly showed up to protest a tax on Amazon!?!?

        This doesn’t seem like an organic protest to me and I’m wondering whose payroll those ‘construction workers’ might be on.

        Anybody in the Seattle area have any info on what’s happening on the ground?

        1. Duke of Prunes

          “Does it seem odd to anybody else that a group of construction workers suddenly showed up to protest a tax on Amazon!?!?”

          Not really. Given that the tax has caused Amazon to “pause all construction planning”, it seems reasonable that some construction workers might not approve of the tax. In my experience, while construction workers are usually “pro-union”, it doesn’t follow that they’re necessarily progressive.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            *facepalm* – yes that could very well be it.

            For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me that they they could be the ones working on the new building for Amazon. The article doesn’t specify what they were working on when they showed up to protest.

            Still you’d think the reporter could have asked where they came from and if anyone had put them up to it. But that would be actual investigative journalism, and we don’t do that in this country anymore.

        2. Lord Koos

          It sounds weird to me. There is plenty of other construction in Seattle and contractors seem to be having no shortage of work.

      2. pcraig

        Just a few comments off the top of my head. The Seattle Times ain’t in Seattle and are not as progressive as Seattle’s reputation. For instance they’ve editorialized against an estate tax. Bezos was one of a small number of major contributor$ to the campaign that defeated a Wa. state peoples initiative (promoted by Bill Gates father no less) that would have created an income tax for income above $250,000 per year. Now we hear of Amazon employees eligible for food stamps ala Walmart. Bezos’ latest crap ain’t surprising at all. I quit amazon long ago and I don’t miss the ‘convenience’.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Friends don’t let friends buy from the Death Star, take a stroll, do a few extra clicks to get what you need. Or shut up when WaPo starts WWIII, overturns an election, when that last cozy bookshop or Mom-and-Pop store closes, when those last crappy minimum wage warehouse jobs get automated, or when your taxes get hiked because Herr Bezos is a freeloading parasite.

    2. Eclair

      Now that we are retired, my spouse and I divide our time between Seattle and Chautauqua County, NY. Seattle, prosperous, booming and with out-of-reach housing prices, has an enormous population of people without homes. There are huge tent encampments (‘legal’) along Aurora Avenue and a few tents even popped up around Green Lake. It is impossible to walk more than a few blocks in our neighborhood without encountering people hiking along with all their belongings in plastic Target bags hung along a shopping cart, or with full backpacks.

      Jamestown, NY, on the other hand, is a economic disaster; saw a house for sale the other day for $24,000. Other houses lie empty and rotting. But, I have yet to encounter a homeless person. People may live precarious lives here, in a single room in one of downtown’s converted hotels, but they do have a place to live that is not a tent and is not at the mercy of police raids.

      There has got to be a middle way.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In this case, plastic Target bags are better than paper Target bags, especially in rainy Seattle.

        1. Eclair

          I wasn’t making a value judgment on plastic vs paper here (although I have been known to crusade against plastic bags), just trying to give people a picture of a shopping cart, which holds all a person owns, with those iconic white plastic bags with the red bulls’ eye hanging all along the sides. You are correct that in rainy Seattle, plastic is the homeless person’s friend, from tarps to big black garbage bags. And, really warm socks, of course.

      2. perpetualWAR

        I am so glad to be leaving Seattle. Glad I had 30 years to enjoy the city prior to it becoming Amazombied.

      3. Wukchumni

        It’s real culture shock for me to see the teeming Hoovervilles down in LA/OC/SD, as we’re just too rural for down & out sojourners, and there are no visible ententments here i’m aware of. That said, with oh so liberal SF cracking down on the sidewalkers, we might see part of the exodus perhaps?

        All of the indicators of the economy that you can’t see are doing fabulously and the unemployment numbers are near all-time lows, in theory only a couple percent of potential jobseekers are unemployed, the stock market is near all time highs…

        …but the indicators of the economy that you can see, tell a way different story

        Empty storefronts, empty lives, empty opportunity

      4. JerryB

        Thanks for the perspective Eclair. There was a middle way once upon a time. It was called the middle class. Now, either you are part of the upper middle to upper class working for the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse i.e the FIRE(finance,tech,real estate, energy) economy, or you are part of the growing underclass that can only find low wage jobs in food service or retail. I am sure that there are some of those “people without homes” as you phrased it that are working in precariat jobs for the Five Horsemen as well.

        Why do I get the feeling that the whole FIRE economy and the subsequent exorbitant housing prices in the major cities is a house of cards and someday it will come crashing down and then we will all be living in in $24,000 houses again ( In 1971 my parents bought the house I grew up in for $29,000 in Lombard, IL which was a typical middle class suburb of Chicago)? My father bought a brand new 1969 Mercury Montego for about $4,500. Today a similar mid-size car would probably be $30,000. In half a life time from $4,500 to $30,000!!! Kill me now. IMHO very few cars and trucks today are worth the exorbitant sticker price.

        My version of the marxian concepts of use value vs. exchange value applies here. Use value – the price of taking you from point A to point B. Exchange value-paying $30,000 -$50,000 for a vehicle to take you from point A to point B. We need to get back to a more modest way of life and economy so everybody has a chance at a decent life. But I am not optimistic especially in the US.

        Thanks again Eclair!

        1. Wukchumni

          In order to have the same rate of appreciation, my first home that I lived in, in L.A. cost $12,000 in 1960, and now Zillows for $600,000, would have to be worth $30,000,000 in 2076.

          1. JerryB

            Thanks Wukchumni! That is my point! Where does it end? For example I understand and am sympathetic to the various teacher strikes/protests around the country who say their pay is too low to stay in the middle class and want their pay raised so they are not living pins and needles. But what is the middle class now in a cost of living sense? $200,000 homes? $30,000 car and trucks? $25,000 a year college tuition? Exorbitant health care costs? $3000 per month for an apartment in San Francisco??? That is unsustainable! For many of our cost of living expenses to go down everyone will have to take less of their piece of their pie in their industry. And of course stockholders and CEOs will need to take less. For example in Medicare for All their has to be cost reductions. In single payer or Medicare for all everyone (doctors, nurses, administrators) is going to have to take a lower salary or it is unsustainable. Same thing for free college tuition …it cannot be just the government funds it but their has to be cost containment as well or our national debt and taxes will be through the roof.

            I am old enough to remember when teenagers worked during the summer and part time during the school year to pay for college. I remember when teenagers worked part time and full time during the summer to pay for a very cheap first car (usually a beater). Anyone take a look at the prices of used cars lately even old ones??? In the old days of the entertainment industry (dancers, artists, singers) a person waited tables or did odd jobs to make ends meet until they got their career going. Now? Early in his career Frank Sinatra did odd gigs at supper clubs to support his wife and children. I would like to see someone do that in today’s New York City. I do not see a return to a modest affordable economy an time soon. The behavioral economist Daniel Kahnemann used the term loss aversion in his work. I think that applies here. Many of the upper middle class and elites will see going back to a modest lifestyle and lower cost of living economy as a loss and will resist. Hence our two tier economy. Maybe climate change and the end of the fire economy(oil, coal,) will snap us out of our materialistic hubris.

            1. bob

              “That is unsustainable! For many of our cost of living expenses to go down everyone will have to take less of their piece of their pie in their industry. And of course stockholders and CEOs will need to take less.”

              Interesting who you put first on the chopping block.

              We all have to make sacrifices so the super rich are able to run space programs!

              ” In single payer or Medicare for all everyone (doctors, nurses, administrators) is going to have to take a lower salary or it is unsustainable. ”

              What about insurance companies, yanno, the ones holding all the money?

              We need a lot less emphasis on paying people less. Who gets hurt by that? The asshole making 5 million a year, who has to settle for 4 million? Only one yacht this year!

              1. JerryB

                Bob- I do not look at it as “whose first on the chopping block”. We are on the same side. I think you are talking about inequality and I am talking about cost of living and affordability. The wealth and income inequality in this country and the world is staggering. See the link below.


                MMT aside(as far as using taxes to fund govt. spending) , I am all for wealth and income redistribution through taxes, worker ownership/cooperatives, UBI, jobs guarantee, etc. Use the wealth and income redistribution to build a stronger public sector and safety net with affordable healthcare and college, etc.

                A couple of years ago my wife and I were vacationing in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin which used to be the home of Palmer Johnson yachts. In the bay was parked brand new Palmer Johnson DB9. It was beautiful!!! It was not a yacht. It was a ship. When I heard what it cost I almost fainted. I may be missing a zero but it was either 6 million or 60 million. To charter it in the Mediterranean Sea costs $100,000 for a week. Insane.

                I am not endorsing him or his work at all but David Stockman in his book The Great Deformation of Capitalism has called for some sort of wealth tax to rebalance the playing field. I think Piketty has mentioned that as well, however much of a pipe dream it is. My point in my posts was to say that we should not be aspiring to have $50,0000 pick up trucks or think that $25,000 a year in college costs is okay because it is not IMO. IMO a $50,000 pick up truck is bloat and mark up especially since many automakers now use robots. Given our current trajectory what will be a livable wage in 2050???? $100,000 per year? $1,000,000?

                1. Mo's Bike Shop

                  The temporarily embarrassed millionaire mentality is a stumbling block.

                  Relatedly a peer actually responded in an email today, “I love to shop!” Oi.

                  I have to tell myself to give up on the toothpaste tube, “It’s dead, Jim.”

      5. Oregoncharles

        Richmond, CA came up with it: use eminent domain to seize (and pay for – at foreclosure prices) the foreclosed houses, then put homeless people in them. There are far more empty houses than homeless people – but, as you say, not in the right places. Might be most effective combined with a way to transport people to the houses.

        Of course, the other problem is no work for those homeless people where the houses are. Jobs guarantee, maybe?

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Anchorage in the post pipeline crash set up a system to use Permanent Fund dividends to put the homeless into foreclosed and abandoned properties.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I imagine there are many billions of corrugated boxes floating around the world at this moment, soon to make expectant consumers happy.

    2. Eureka Springs

      So he could have personally paid 75 million with 15 minutes of his last two days winnings, I mean pay for a hard quarter hours work, rather than cancel the building.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Errr, something seems a bit off here. That nerve agent is supposed to be one of the most deadly in the chemical warfare register and would require only a minute dose to kill you. We are talking about really minuscule doses here. The guy who developed it said: “There is no antidote to these agents. I can say with nearly 100% certainty that if Skripal and his daughter are taken off of life support, they will die, although they are now only technically alive.” Ummmm.
      Now 100g is also equivalent to nearly 4 ounces. So, someone supposedly threw around nearly a quarter of a pound of Novichok and it only made those people sick for a coupla weeks. The cop that went down was out in days while the daughter was up and about a few weeks later to be followed by her uncle. At this stage I am calling this as bs and it was not Novichok that was used but in fact it was actually Novachek (

      1. begob

        Odd – that urbandictionary definition dates from Aug. 2008, four months before the developer’s book was published. Wot is goink on?

        At this point I think they’ll keep bubbling the event up into public consciousness periodically to preserve their creation, but without real exposure.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I read that Guardian article too and noticed the same thing in that paragraph.

          MoA speculated that the UK media has been hit with a D-Notice, so the only reporting are these tangential stories. And even these, the Guardian gets wrong.

          1. Sid Finster

            Commenters on Sic Semper Tyrannis have reached the same conclusion.

            To me, it’s fairly obvious that either a D Notice was handed out, or the well-trained UK MSM has concluded on its own that asking any further questions regarding the Skripals will lead only to embarrassing answers, so best to shut up and carry on.

            1. begob

              I still haven’t read decent reporting on GCHQ’s visit to The Guardian, when the Snowden hard disks were smashed.

              1. Carey

                I did see that, and given his diligent and well-documented work, found it enough reason to become a financial contributor in a modest amount.


      2. Pookah Harvey

        From a Guardian article concerning the only “survivor” of novichok.

        Before former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury on 4 March, the only other person confirmed to suffer the effects of novichok was a young Soviet chemical weapons scientist.

        “Circles appeared before my eyes: red and orange. A ringing in my ears, I caught my breath. And a sense of fear: like something was about to happen,” Andrei Zheleznyakov told the now-defunct newspaper Novoye Vremya, describing the 1987 weapons lab incident that exposed him to a nerve agent that would eventually kill him. “I sat down on a chair and told the guys: ‘It’s got me.’”

        By 1992, when the interview was published, the nerve agent had gutted Zheleznyakov’s central nervous system. Less than a year later he was dead, after battling cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, nerve damage and epilepsy.

        If the Skripals are “survivors” of a novichok attack they cannot expect a good outcome. Has there been any follow up on the affected police officer?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It certainly is odd that the Skripals seem to have disappeared.

          After all, if whatever it is they could say supported the official narrative, they’d be all over the teebee, saying it. So….

    2. David

      The Grauniad story is …. odd. I presume that what the OPCW head was trying to say is that, according to his information, the amount of agent used was large enough to preclude it being just an errant lab sample or something. It must have been brought for a purpose. I presume the figures quoted were worked out on the basis of what it would’ve taken to cover the areas thought to be contaminated. Incidentally, although I’m open to correction, my understanding of the metric system is that the 100g/100ml equivalence only applies to water. A chemical agent would presumably be heavier, and so the volume would be smaller.

      1. UserFriendly

        Very few liquids are denser than water. VX is apparently the same density as water, so novoshock could be similar.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Novichok is claimed to be up to ten times more lethal than VX nerve agent, whose lethal dose for skin exposure would be in the low tens of milligrams [not grams]. This implies that a few milligrams of Novichok would be fatal.

      The fifty to 100 grams cited by the Grauniad is absurd. Apparently it’s inflated by three orders of magnitude by innumerate, scientifically illiterate journos with an ax to grind. #FAIL

    4. Alex V

      My suspicion is that if the 100 g quantity is true (which I highly doubt, but let’s assume for now), it’s referring to the total mass of a carrier liquid containing the agent, not to the actual amount of chemically pure novichok. I’m guessing most chemical warfare agents of this type use some type of carrier for delivery, as the active agent is too difficult to dose at full strength in such minute quantities.

      What’s disgusting in this piece is that the author does not even attempt to raise this distinction and only reports the amount with absolutely zero context or critical thought, and is likely so on purpose, for propaganda purposes. The headline and lede is wildly and irresponsibly misleading.

        1. Jesper

          Supposing that the article maybe possibly was dictated then maybe someone got annoyed and decided to report it exactly as dictated (easily spotted mistakes and all)….
          The danger when demanding unquestioning loyalty is that an order might be obviously wrong but carried out to the letter anyway. Our ‘superior’ ‘elite’ does not make mistakes so I’d not be surprised if they ask for unquestioned obedience…..
          I’m still curious about how the samples could be so pure. Has there been any more news about how the samples were taken and where the samples were taken from?

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The media have been diligently trained by the Drug War not to recognize the distinction between pure and diluted agents. This irrational measuring innumeracy even extends to the law, where the seller of, say, a kilogram of 11% cocaine and 89% cut is charged as if he had sold an actual kilogram of cocaine. The press, in turn, puts factual accuracy aside as well and will report the bust as being for a kilogram of cocaine.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          I believe this basic ‘view from nowhere’ aesthetic is more insidious than the Gell Mann Effect. The 40th time your source gets the basics wrong on the Federal Deficit, WMD, Russians Invading Ukraine, Mars Colonies, Hydrogen Economy, Self.Driving.Cars., you/me/anyone as a reader should start to question whether we’re in a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome, or the like.

          And that’s how the NC commentariat wuz born. /groucho

    5. PlutoniumKun

      Rather embarrassingly for them, they are already withdrawing the claim.

      The international chemical weapons watchdog has amended a claim made by its director general that as much as 50-100 grams of liquid nerve agent was used in the attack on the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

      On Thursday the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Üzümcü, said the amount of novichok – a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union – used in the attack on 4 March was significantly more than needed for research purposes and indicated it was likely to have been created for use as a weapon.

      He told the New York Times: “That quantity – a range from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid – is significantly larger than the amount that would be created in a laboratory for research purposes, meaning that it was almost certainly created for use as a weapon.”

      Within hours of the report, however, startled chemical weapons experts were challenging the figure, insisting a miscommunication had occurred. A statement from the OPCW on Friday said the organisation “would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used”.

      It added: “The quantity should nonetheless probably be characterised in milligrams.”

      It is not clear how Üzümcü made his error.

      1. Chris

        I suspect he’s a generic bureaucrat, unschooled technically and scientifically, and with no instictive appreciation of the difference between a gram and a milligram (never having weighed either amount accurately).

        1. The Rev Kev

          Isn’t the guy in charge of the chemical warfare establishment at Porton Downs an ex phone salesman or something?

          1. The Rev Kev

            No, no – not the head of the OPCW. The director of the Porton Downs chemical warfare establishment.

  4. Tomonthebeach

    Blue Light Causes What?

    This story is junk science – the mainstream grist of most misleading epidemiological studies; and most do turn out to be wrong. Remember when a glass of wine a day (2 for men) was healthy, but only red wine – then okay white too – then well maybe not so healthy after all…..??? A recent study determined that every glass of wine I drink subtracts 30 minutes from my life expectancy. I did the arithmetic – If I live to be 100, my dinner wine drinking will kill me at 99! More Chateau Cheval Blanc please.

    Correlations rarely impute causation. Usually this is due to unmeasured causal variables or sampling bias. I am rooting for both. Logically, how does the blue light of my mobile phone or PC screen cause prostate cancer? Like most males, I wear trousers every day. How does my poor prostate even get exposed to the dreaded blue light? At 71, I can assure you that mine is growing just fine in the dark [If over 70, you are entitled to one free guffaw]. My late mom had macular. She never owned a PC or a smartphone. She did spend too much time in the sun. Oh yeah – sunlight is full of blue spectrum.

    These scary findings are far more likely to be spurious relationships, but who in the media bothers to check for other research that is not consistent with this study? and WebMD have addressed this Bluelight Special topic with skepticism.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Life is full of situations like this – we don’t know f it does, or if it doesn’t.

      And the best Science can offer is ‘today’s best explanation.’

      That is, if tomorrow, you want to drink 4 glasses of wine to be healthy (hypothetically here, of course, or remember), that’s what is called ‘progressive’ (i.e. we have a new best explanation via science).

      It’s enough confusion make one a Luddite.


        1. PlutoniumKun

          Maybe more than a healthy stupor if you try shooting rattlesnakes after four glasses.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Significant alcohol in kombucha. Personally, I don’t see the point of sour, decaffeinated tea.

        2. Chris

          Probably not if you did it every day, Wukchumni. The cytochrome P450 enzyme chain in your liver (and probably other parts of your metabolism) would ramp up to compensate.

          An amazingly adaptable beast, the Homo sapiens

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The confusion over advice on wine consumption is quite interesting really. The origin appears to have been meta studies which showed a ‘hockey stick’ shape for a relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality – i.e. mortality was lower for moderate drinkers than non-drinkers, with a match-up around 2-3 units a day. But further studies indicated that this conclusion was flawed because many studies did not distinguish ‘non-drinkers’, from ‘ex-drinkers’ – many of the latter would have stopped drinking precisely because they’ve had ill health caused by alcohol. When they were excluded, the relationship became a more conventional upward sloping curve – i.e. low risk with low consumption, but increasingly high risk of all cause mortality and cancer as drinking increased.

      The red wine issue comes from studies that indicated good health in countries where red wine is drunk a lot – the assumption is that it is that red wine is a rich source of resveratrol, which is known to have significant health benefits and may impede the development of tumours. Unfortunately (I write this as a lover or red wine), more recent studies are more ambiguous about the claimed benefits.

      That said, its notoriously difficult to study the impacts of lifestyle through statistical studies. With alcohol alone there are numerous potential confounding factors such as whether the alcohol is drunk with food, whether its drunk daily or in binges, what type of drink, and so on. The only real scientific certainty is a strong relatively straight line correlation between alcohol consumption and heart disease, cancer and liver ailments. However, the risks of moderate drinking seem very low (and certainly, IMO, worth it).

      1. Chris

        Another confounding factor is that many studies of the effects of alcohol consumption rely on self-reporting of intake, which can be notoriously unreliable.

    3. Randy

      I am commenting without reading the article. I assume it is full of “may cause this” and “may cause that”. I don’t read that crap because I do what I always do regardless of whether it is “good” or “bad” for me. I’m too old to change and too old for change to matter anyway.

    4. Chris

      Apocryphal story:

      A: I was reading the other day about how drinking is bad for your health, so I’ve decided to give it up.
      B: Drinking?
      A: No, reading.

  5. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    On the Kangaroo Sanctuary.

    Jane Goodall’s excellent documentary titled ” Jane “, on her extensive research into chimps behaviour, revealed a very similar scenario when she & her husband made the mistake of supplying them with bunches of bananas from their camp.

    Also interesting from a primate point of view was how the once healthy community split their previous territory in two & then shortly afterwards started a vicious war.

    1. Wukchumni

      Once upon a time in the main part of Sequoia NP in the Giant Forest area they used to have a place called ‘Bear Hill” where they had 4 grandstands set up with a circle in the middle where they would leave all the food scraps from the restaurant, and everybody got to see not just a bear, but more than likely 5 or 6 of them.

      This went on from around 1920 to 1940, when the practice was discontinued, but when you go from a diet of bugs and occasional berries-to leftover filet mignon and yummy salted foodstuffs, it’s hard to go back to traditional bear fare, and although it’s been almost 80 years since Bear Hill, bruins have always been a problem in the area, i’ve seen cars ripped apart for a lone apple, to give you an idea.

      Now on the other side of the NP where our cabin is, bears were never fed, and consequently really never a problem as far as food storage goes. We’re talking about an air distance of about 30 miles between locales. A black bear’s range here is 10-15 miles typically.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It was theorized that the alligator that killed a two-year-old at disney world a couple years ago was made more aggressive by humans feeding the population.

  6. Eclair

    Thanks for linking to a poetry antidote, Lambert. Murray Lachlan Young responds to The Telegraph’s call for ‘patriotic’ Brexit poems with this, h/t to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky:

    “Beware the Brexit beast, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that snatch!
    Beware the Farage bird, and shun
    The frumious Junkersnatch!

    He took his Merkel sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought
    And found the referendum tree,
    And stood a while in thought.”

    I’m gonna get me a ‘Merkel sword!’

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      ‘And did E-Uuuu in ancient times, walk upon England’s mountains green?’

  7. dontknowitall

    I don’t think any sort of ‘healing’ will be forthcoming if Trump is thrown out of office by dubious means like entrapment or some other legal maneuver.

    My suspicion is Mueller is not seeking to trap Trump via perjury per se because it wouldn’t result in impeachment in this Congress or the next and then he would have an angry president at his heels. Lacking any sort of credible evidence of collusion and facing a president with 50% approval who is about to finish negotiating a historic peace accord, Mueller is looking to forcefully goad Trump into an intemperate reaction, like firing people at Main Justice, resulting in a viable case for impeachment. So far Trump has not lived up to his reputation among liberals as a hothead and I think he will not respond which must be driving Mueller insane.

    1. montanamaven

      I watched Tucker Carlsen interiew with Michael Caputo, former Trump campaign advisor. He is a career campaign adviser and said he has spent $125,000 on lawyer’s fees from having to testify in front of congress and this week Mueller. He said he didn’t even make that kind of money per year. He will never work for another campaign again without being indemnified. He also said that he thinks the point of Mueller is to destroy Trump, his family, his friends and his associates so that no outside disruptive Billionaire will say to his wife, “I think I can fix the country. I want to run for President.” To which his wife replies, “Are you crazy? Do you remember what happened to Donald Trump?” Caputo on Tucker

      It is very sinister what is going on regardless of what you think personally of Trump. I am permanently attired in tin foil nowadays. I’m starting to think that Jeff Sessions was a plant, that’s how crazy all this is.

      Over at Ian Welsh, one commenter said that Trump had basically gotten rid of the Bush family dynasty and had weakened the Clintons. So, maybe for that, we can have some gratitude.

  8. L

    Dark Side of Computers, Smart Phones and Tablets: Blue Light Causes Cancer, Ruins Your Eyes and Makes You Toss and Turn at Night Washington’s Blog. Any blue lights I have taped over, and my machines are set to night mode as well.

    You can also use redshifting code for your PC and laptop to make this go away and even set the apps to mirror the natural light outside thus helping your sleep cycle:

  9. The Rev Kev

    A single bat may be cute but when you get a giant mob of them, forget it. In this part of the worlds they are protected but that means that they can wreck havoc and there is little that people can do about them. If you want to know what it is like to live in a town that has been occupied by bats read the account at as a sample of what life has become for the people of Charters Towers. I myself have seen them flying overhead in an endless swarm that went for over an hour and we have a colony of them living at the nearby river.
    They can carry some nasty diseases like lyssavirus and even the deadly Hendra virus. How disliked are they? A few years ago we had a ferocious summer heat in the early 40s and everybody was complaining about it. Then it was discovered that the heat was also killing the bats by the thousands and people suddenly decided that they could put up with the heat for a few more days if it would mean that the bat numbers would be culled. A bunch of do-gooders ran out to save the bats but the bats bit them so then they had to go for injections against infectious diseases.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t know – people in Austin Texas love their bat colony:

      It hasn’t caused any health issues, and in fact has reduced the insect population in the area so maybe has prevented some insect-borne illness.

      I was lucky enough to witness the bats fly out from under the bridge once while visiting Austin. It was incredible – a seemingly endless swarm – and I did not get bitten by any bugs!

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Will China Replace the US Global Role? The Diplomat

    China ‘deploys missiles’ in South China Sea, US, Australia warn of consequences ABC Australia (KW).

    Concerns grow as Team Trump kicks off trade talks with China Asia Times

    Will China?

    Does China want to?

    Will China replace the US, not in everything globally, but in only areas that

    1. are not to costly to engage in
    2. will reward handsomely?

    That is, pick and choose.

    While many presidents in the past had more or less done nothing to counter moves by China, and in many cases, made it easier (WTO, anyone), the more we postpone these questions, the harder it will be answer them.

    So, Trump comes along at a critical time. Many response options under our or his consideration may not be possible or effective later.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I strongly suspect that Chinese pragmatism would make them reluctant to take a true global role, although the sheer spread of their recent investments is impressive. China, as a land power, has always had a greater interest in securing its near borders – it is usually sea powers which become obsessed with global roles.

      I would guess that a more subtle interpretation would be that they see their future as adopting a variation of Japans post war Yoshida Doctrine – focusing on economic influence (in modern parlance, soft power) under an umbrella of US military power, or, as they would see it, US military over reach.

      In the short term, owning aircraft carriers and stealth bombers gives you enormous power, but in the longer term, owning the ports, railways and strategic mineral and energy transport routes gives you far more.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘In the short term, owning aircraft carriers and stealth bombers gives you enormous power, but in the longer term, owning the ports, railways and strategic mineral and energy transport routes gives you far more.’

        Carriers and bombers are about destroying stuff; ports and railways are about producing things.

        The bloody-minded American mentality still celebrates explosions in the night, as was shown by the infantile cries of delight from US journos as missiles fecklessly rained down on Syria.

        Pretty easy to see which culture is going to prevail, as Americans devolve into heavily-armed, angry losers.

          1. Jim Haygood

            You will kill ten of us, we will kill one of you, but in the end, you will tire of it first.

            ― victorious general Hồ Chí Minh to losing US invaders

        1. Summer

          Yep, it’s the “rocket’s red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” that gave proof that the “flag was still there.”

          Not the “new bridge light’s red glare” and “joy bursting in air”…..

      2. Montanamaven

        Dimitry Orlov’s recent piece says that the Petrodollar’s days are numbered. To be replaced by the gold based Petroyuan.

        But now China has successfully launched its gold-backed Petroyuan, and the US military won’t be able to do a thing about it. The era when the US could fix its financial problems through military means has ended.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When one nation dominates the world order, it can impose its own fiat currency on every nation.

          When there isn’t one hegemon, the natural course of action is for nations (run by suspicious humans) to assume the worst, that is, the other nations will just print worthless paper money to trade with you.

          The duty of our government is to suspect that, to defend us from being taken in by another irresponsible nation’s cheap money scheme, or let the foreign exchange market do it.

          And another duty of the government is to inspire confidence in other nations, so that they should feel secure in selling us products and taking our paper money.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And if you don’t do much trading, if you and your fellow citizens mainly shop local, and your country can produce, manufacture and service from within, there is not much foreign governments can dictate to you.

          You’d be a freer, and more independent sovereign.

          1. Wukchumni

            Could California provide enough oil to keep us independent?

            When you drive on Hwy 33, the ‘Petroleum Highway’ it’s easy to be convinced you made a wrong turn and ended up in oil rich Texas or Saudi Arabia, oh so many wells everywhere, including Elk Hills, an important part of the Teapot Dome scandal that plagued Harding’s administration.



            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Of course, there was gold in California as well.

              Maybe we can still find more to back the California Petro-Yuan.

            2. Mo's Bike Shop

              I assume the reason we don’t have nice trains like civilized countries is to keep exactly that TINA going.

              What, is Atlanta going to move? All this money sloshing around, but decent intercity anything is not available across the country. I wonder if it’s because, see Musk, these guys don’t have the chops for real industrial technology implementation, or, like Musk, their vroom vroom adolescent fantasies were all about jet packs, and they settled for Knight Rider?

              The bit about self driving cars giving people more browsing time: it would be even better on a train or a comfy bus!

              If the politics doesn’t sort out soon, we may need to foment for more Diesel Punk and Steam Punk elites.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When admiral Zheng He sailed into Indonesia, in the early 1400’s, he encountered Chinese living and thriving there already.

        That’s the Chinese Diaspora, predating the Yoshida Doctrine, all around Asia…in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, etc.

        In more than one place, the Chinese are accused of dominating the local economy for as long as anyone can remember. This contrasts with a couple of ethnic Chinese rulers, for a short time, in Vietnam (the Ly dynasty – Fujian origin, it is said, see Wikipedia) and King Taksin of Thailand (of Teochow, Chinese heritage, see Wikipedia).

        And they will be crucial to China’s attempt to managing its relationships with these nations.

        1. Lord Koos

          For the same reason, Chinese are often prejudiced against due to their success in business, similar to antisemitism. Recall riots in Jakarta a few years ago where many Chinese businesses were burned and Chinese people were killed. These type of expats are people who have been there for generations. I’m not too certain how loyal these people are to the current China, most of them are well integrated into their present nationalities.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The 1911 revolution had many key contributors, from among overseas Chinese, who gave lives and money for that cause.

            And today, among the political parties (I was surprised to learn of more than one) in Beijing is the Chinese Zhi Gong Party. From Wikipedia:

            As part of the Chinese Communist Party’s re-organisation of the minor aligned parties, the CZGP was designated as the party of returned overseas Chinese, their relatives, and noted figures and scholars who have overseas ties.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Argentina’s central bank governor Sturzenegger doubles down on his Volcker impersonation:

    Argentina has raised its interest rate by 6.75 percentage points — its third steep rate hike in less than a week — in an increasingly desperate attempt to halt the country’s peso from sliding further against the dollar.

    The central bank raised its key interest rate to a record high of 40 per cent, its press office said on Friday. The move comes less than 24 hours after the bank lifted them by 3 percentage points to 33.25 per cent and takes the country’s borrowing costs from 27.25 to 40 per cent in the space of just seven days.

    The move was aimed at “avoiding disruptive behaviour” in the markets, as well as “guaranteeing the disinflation process”, the bank said, adding that it stands at the ready to act again if necessary in order to reach its inflation target of 15 per cent for 2018.

    These are the sort of ever more desperate rate hikes that occur just before something breaks. When Soros broke the Bank of England on 16 Sep 1992, the BoE had hiked its policy rate from 10 to 12 to 15% in a single day to defend pound sterling. But it didn’t work.

    That night, Britain pulled out of the european exchange rate mechanism. Pound sterling crashed 25% against the dollar and Soros made multi-billions in an instant.

    Obviously capital once again is fleeing Argentina, which has been running a flake-o-nomics regime of incontinent currency printing for over a century, with only a brief pause in the 1990s.

  12. Webstir

    Re: Giulianni …

    Does any one else think it’s his intent to take Trump down?
    Et tu Brute’?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Could robots be counselors? Early research shows positive user experience TechXplore (original).

    You’re making progress, robots.

    Next up – research. Robots can be great researchers.

  14. Ed

    ” When Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, White-Collar Workers Leave Governing”

    White collar workers provide services for other workers and the productive parts of the economy that employs blue collar workers, but the economy still has to produce something for the white collar jobs to exist.

  15. Summer

    “Could robots be counselors? Early research shows positive user experience” TechXplore

    Bet it looks like some places in the financial consulting world where those with bigger accounts get human interaction (which may be having another human deal with the bots) and the not so well off…where just contact with a bot is deemed sufficient because nobody has to actually care (or pretend to care and be accountable).

    1. Kevin

      …and, how does one reprimand a bot for faulty advice or poor customer service…fire them?

      1. visitor

        I am sure that “interactions may be recorded for training purposes and to improve our services”.

      2. Summer

        I definately see bot arbitration for the poor.
        Pre-programmed to put profit before people while the AI programmers “wonder” how in the world algorithms come to their “decisions.”

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Some people found interacting with the Eliza program to be a profound experience. It was basically a Magic 8 Ball. So, did not read.

      1. GregG

        * So, did not read.
        > Don’t you ever say Hello?
        * hello.
        > How are you today.. What would you like to discuss?
        * So, did not read.
        > Can you elaborate on that?
        * So, did not read.
        > Do you expect a different answer by repeating yourself?
        * So, did not read.

  16. Kris

    The Key to everything: “Advances in technology are unpredictable, but two hundred years is a reasonable guess for cheap and widely available space travel…”

    Fascinating article but lost me right there. Amazing to see how equally un-moored supposed scientists and climate change deniers are from reality, not to mention ethics. Denying our species’ responsibility for catastrophic climate change is as ethically dubious as assuming we have the right to export our so-far highly immature, warmongering species onto other planets.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here, the banality of evil is most instructional in seeing ourselves for what we are.

      “The whole species is guilty.”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Modern industrial civilization man is not the “whole species”.

      Tibetans bear zero responsibility for global warming.
      The Aymara and Quechua speaking Indians of the Andes bear zero responsibility for global warming.
      The Ituri Forest Pigmies bear zero responsibility for global warming.

      Shall I go on?

      One can rightly blame the ship-owners, the contracting cargo-owners, the captain and officers, and maybe the crew. But does one blame the hostages nailed inside barrels stowed below deck? Not ethically . . . no.

  17. Summer

    Re: The Redistribution of Sex…Ross Douthat

    Wow. That big dose of crazy is right up there with Kanye’s “thoughts on freedom and slavery.”
    The NY Times commentariat scewered him well-enough, but this might be a job for “black Twitter.”

    1. Grizziz

      It seems to me that the distribution of sexual activity crossed from the private sphere into the public realm shortly after Masters and Johnson published Human Sexual Response in 1966. Are we now to accept the status-quo and assume that cultural shifts will bring some sort of new sexual activity equilibrium, i.e., a redistribution, without commentators across the political spectrum taking notice?
      While it might not be the most pressing political issue, it hardly seems to be the subject of a taboo. I rarely agree with Douthat’s policy prescriptions and still see that he lays out his arguments rather lucidly. If you want to set your hair fire, read Robin Hanson’s Overcoming Bias blog on Two Types of Envy where he equates inequality in partnered sexual activity to income/wealth inequality being both driven by envy. (He never gets around to proving that ‘envy’ is even an actual thing let alone a source of causation.) Hanson’s argument is mocked and refuted by John Holbo over at The Crooked Timberblog using justice as the formal cause that separates sexual activity distributions from income/wealth distributions.

      1. David

        Yes, but it’s an interesting test case in the current infinite extension of “rights” (which is not the same as justice, since that implies actual or potentially competing rights). It’s pretty much accepted these days that there is a “right” to be happy, and a “right” not to hear or see things that make you unhappy. Once you get away from the concept of rights as freedom from arbitrary or excessive power, into rights as the narcissistic protection of subjective feelings, where, logically, do you stop? After all, better to discuss that kind of “right” than the “”right” to a job, decent housing etc. The natives might get restless.

      2. Summer

        It starts out on the wrong foot because it assumes that there is a “right” amount of sex for everyone at the same time.

        Also, when you deconstruct the writings of these guys Ross is sympathizing with, it is more about controlling young women and female adolescent’s bodies and decisions. It is a pre-occupation that crosses into fetishism more than sexuality. There is a very specific type of female they have in mind.

        Then they decry feminism which largely came out of women being fed up with domestic abuse and the desire to valued their ENTIRE lives.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    People feeding kangaroos at an Australian sanctuary have made the animals so aggressive they’re putting people in the hospital Business Insider

    People are not animals.

    When you put people in sanctuary cities, they don’t become so aggressive that they hurt other people.

    At the same time, people are also animals. We should treat animals like we treat ourselves. We’re not above them, in the superiority sense that we should treat them lowly, or without regard for their feelings, safety, etc.

    So, we are both animals and we are not animals…and some of us are also vegetables (at the same time), pouch potatoes..,

    1. Jim Haygood

      Crude is on fire, trading just below its intraday high of $69.97.

      Dance of the round number is in play — prepare for a seven handle in our near future.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Mueller smacked down in court:

    A federal judge on Friday sharply criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal case in Virginia against President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and openly questioned whether Mueller exceeded his prosecutorial powers by bringing it.

    “I don’t see what relationship this indictment has with anything the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

    At tense hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the judge said Mueller should not have “unfettered power” in his Russia probe and that the charges against Manafort did not arise from the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

    He also asked the special counsel’s office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein’s August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller’s Russia probe. He said the current version he has been heavily redacted.

    We’ve reached peak absurdity when a federal judge has to base his preliminary ruling on a redacted memo. Evidently, Mueller’s is an inquiry of great advantage, but no one to know what it is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Has Putin infiltrated our judicial system as well?

      Why are people putting up obstacles before Mr. Mueller?

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      But…but…but…doesn’t that silly judge know Mueller is carefully building his case about Russian interference brick-by-brick? Just because he has to make the bricks out of things that have nothing to do with the original point of the investigation shouldn’t be held against him. He has a PLAN!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He also asked the special counsel’s office to share privately with him a copy of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein’s August 2017 memo elaborating on the scope of Mueller’s Russia probe. He said the current version he has been heavily redacted.

      This is nutso. Welcome to the Third World.

  20. freedeomny

    Stephanie Kelton is speaking with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (challenging Rep Joe Crowley) today at 2:30

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    ‏Verified account @Ocasio2018
    19h19 hours ago

    What would happen if we pursued Student Loan Cancellation on a Federal level? What would that look like? How do we do it?

    Let’s talk about it. Join me tomorrow for a Digital Town Hall with rockstar economist @StephanieKelton to discuss our economic future:

  21. Susan the other

    Well, just wow. Freeman Dyson, the NYRB on J. West’s ‘Scale: Universal Laws of Growth..’ I’m thinking Dyson lives in another dimension. Where scale at the most extreme ends is just accepted as truth. We mortal humans can’t think past scale, we can’t fathom singularities where the infinite is contained by the finite. Where there’s no such thing as finite. So for Dyson, as opposed to West, a grand unifying theory of sustainability is created by freedom within small societies. Where we humans just speciate off into the universe. OK then. Dyson didn’t put too fine a point on it but I betcha if you cornered him he’d say he thinks genes learn. Do not fear the dreaded Entropy – it is the source of all life as we know it. Because it is the process by which energy is dissipated, distributed, changed. It is not disorder but instead it is order out of disorder. Well, I loved it. Just hoping time is on our side. I think we might be in trouble on that one.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The Dyson’s more or less do live in another dimension. They came to mind recently when I was thinking about how O’Neill’s space colonies were treated as remotely plausible.

  22. Dita

    Re: Blue light blockers – I just got a pair of blue light blocking glasses, one for home and one for the office. I might look ridiculous, but they’ve really helped ease the strain and blurriness. I have blue shade settings on my devices, but I’ve found the glasses far superior.

  23. bruce wilder

    “It’s not just the forward deployed” was interesting to me.

    I have read the news reports and public reports from the Navy on the two collisions and I have to say I would not have concluded that the problem was insufficient manning. Those two ships were already packed like sardine cans and the sheer number of sailors and officers created multiple compromises in ship design and operations that were exposed by the collisions.

    I would question whether it makes sense to design control of the ship around such a large bridge crew. Clearly, there were also problems in monitoring the state of the ship and ship’s control, but these were exacerbated by the sheer numbers multiplied against a diversity of systems for monitoring the position and movement of the ship relative to sea traffic. You can say this is a training issue or an issue of fatigue, but it may also be the architects of the systems have made it too hard a problem for what is, in fact, a largish committee to solve in real time.

    A warship cannot routinely use some of the systems that have simplified the problems of commercial navigation, such as broadcasting the location of the ship for use by automated systems on other ships. But a naval ship is, or ought to be, something of a hot rod of the seas, able to use its superior propulsion and maneuverability to get out of the way. A breakdown in command and control aboard those ships made it impossible to use those advantages and it was a breakdown that occurred in the social system.

    It is noteworthy that neither commercial ship involved in the collisions was disabled nor were their crews injured. These are supposed to be armored war ships built with heavy structures and redundancy of systems to survive and still function after explosions in their vicinity. But, neither ship was functional after the collision and both suffered considerable loss of life. One of the ships was unable to communicate in the immediate aftermath — a particularly alarming consequence of the collision given that these ships are chockablock with advanced communications tech. A sailor with a cellphone? Really? What happened to design redundancy?

    The severe loss of life experienced is related to the sheer size of the crew and the structural and operational tradeoffs made to accommodate them. The crew probably should not be housed in outer compartments — they probably should be inside a third hull. And, their junk! The sheer quantity of unsecured personal effects, furniture, and so on created hazards and inhibited emergency efforts to both evacuate living quarters and stem flooding.

    Serious architectural and system design problems were exposed, but what the Navy does not want to solve those problems. They want “more”. And to reinforce the sadism of high tempo operations in crews where the social command and control systems create stress.

    1. Plenue

      Reading that article got me thinking; is there some sort of inverse ratio between the number of acronyms a military uses and its increasing ineffectiveness? Perhaps some multilingual commentators can shed light on this. Are non-English speaking militaries as up their own rectums as the US armed forces are with the barrage of acronyms and unneeded technical language?

      Maybe it’s a symptom of increasingly detached from reality technocracy. As if fancy weapons systems and terminology change any of the underlying fundamentals of warfare.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Serious architectural and system design problems were exposed, but what the Navy does not want to solve those problems. They want “more”. And to reinforce the sadism of high tempo operations in crews where the social command and control systems create stress.

      I think that at some point Xi is going to have to hand his own elites a victory (as recompense for 200 years of humilation by foreign powers). If we would like that victory to be an aircraft carrier, we are proceeding along the correct path.

      Very good comment.

  24. Brooklin Bridge

    The Guardian view on a job guarantee: a policy whose time has come

    The Guardian gives off a fair bit of information simply by including or not including comments on a topic, particularly on editorials. This post, as one would expect, they know will generate enthusiasm and so include them. Others, say when they tear Jeremy Corbyn to shreds, not so much and so they don’t.

    1. Plenue

      Isn’t that counterproductive though? It shows real progressive policies are popular, which undermines their Corbyn hate.

  25. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for a fun link “The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse Racing Code”. Very impressive. Reminds of quants in today’s algo-driven financial markets at the dawn of the marriage between AI and “Big Data”. However, even more impressive are Benter’s values as reflected in his philanthropic endeavors, particularly his contributions to polio immunization campaigns among the forgotten and dispossessed in difficult parts of the world. He won, beating “gamblers ruin” despite participating in less than a zero-sum game. Seems to me that he is also winning at the game of life.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “For Germans, Nord Stream 2 is no longer just a commercial interest”

    I can take a guess at what is happening here. At the moment a lot of the gas pipes still go through the Ukraine and they have been known in the past to divert gas for their own use from countries that have paid for it already – like Germany. The Nord Stream 2 bypasses eastern Europe altogether and goes direct to Germany and probably making it cheaper as there are no transit fees to pay other countries. Yes, the Ukraine misses out on transit fees but they have been more or less demanding free gas from Russia while getting their own gas from neighbouring countries that bought it from Russia. The countries that are siding with it are counties that hate Russia in any case like the Baltic countries and Poland and stand to lose transit fees and in any case, the US wants to ship its more expensive gas through the Baltic nations.
    I think that the Germans have woke up to the fact that the way things are now, the Ukraine has their hands on the gas pump and the US guides what they do. Thus, in a dispute with Germany, the US can get the Ukraine to block gas shipment to there. Also, by paying all these transit fees, they are effectively subsidizing the eastern European country’s economies. The EU is trying to step in and save these transit fees arrangements but the Germans are not having a bar of it. This is their economy at stake not to mention their winter heating. I have spent a winter in Germany and you do not want to be without heating then. Building Nord Stream 2 secures Germany’s energy needs which is why it will be built.

  27. Plenue

    >U.S. freezes funding for Syria’s “White Helmets” CBS


    It’s interesting to note that in the ongoing SAA offensive against the Yarmouk suburb of Damascus, which is literally a refugee area for Palestinians, the White Helmets have said nary a word. The reason being that it’s ISIS controlled, and they only operate in AQ areas.

    The AQ half of the camp has been abandoned by the AQ fighters, and the large Hamas pocket is currently being abandoned as well. The fight has completely gone out of the ‘opposition’.

    It’ll be interesting to see how much whining the White Helmets do when the SAA moves in force to crush the ‘rebels’ in Idlib. If a bunch of their funding has been cut they might simply go dark and vanish.

  28. skippy

    Personally I’m offended at any suggestion about having some sort of fruit bat DNA, their not even marsupials for [family blog] sake.

    Now I could be more understanding about tourists handing out junk food and objections about behavior. But yonks of doing the rounds with AET and Neoclassical sorts cant do that too ya.

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